Friday, July 31, 2009

Will you be a prayer warrior for our VBS youth group?

I am recruiting YOU to join in and be a prayer warrior for our vacation bible school mission trip next week to Martin County, KY. This is their second trip to the area as this video from last year's trip captures.

Please respond in the comment section of this post leaving your (first) name and where you are at so I can inform the kids that we have people praying for them from all over.

Scapegoating run amok

A great piece, using René Girard, by Athos HERE.

Is this an example of meeting people where they are at?

"Geffen Records, whose roster of stars has included Guns n' Roses, Elton John, Donna Summer and Snoop Dogg," said Mark Brown in the Guardian, has just "signed a new artist and just in time for Christmas a new CD entitled, Alma Mater.

For Ordering a Life Wisely - St. Thomas Aquinas

O merciful God, grant that I may
desire ardently,
search prudently,
recognize truly,
and bring to perfect completion
whatever is pleasing to You
for the praise and glory of Your name.

Put my life in good order, O my God

Grant that I may know
what You require me to do.

Bestow upon me
the power to accomplish your will,
as is necessary and fitting
for the salvation of my soul.

Grant to me, O Lord my God,
that I may not falter in times
of prosperity or adversity,
so that I may not be exalted in the former,
nor dejected in the latter.

May I not rejoice in anything
unless it leads me to You;
may I not be saddened by anything
unless it turns me from You.

May I desire to please no one,
nor fear to displease anyone,
but You.

May all transitory things, O Lord,
be worthless to me
and may all things eternal
be ever cherished by me.

May any joy without You
be burdensome for me
and may I not desire anything else
besides You.

May all work, O Lord
delight me when done for Your sake.
and may all repose not centered in You
be ever wearisome for me.

Grant unto me, my God,
that I may direct my heart to You
and that in my failures
I may ever feel remorse for my sins
and never lose the resolve to change.

O Lord my God, make me
submissive without protest,
poor without discouragement,
chaste without regret,
patient without complaint,
humble without posturing,
cheerful without frivolity,
mature without gloom,
and quick-witted without flippancy.

O Lord my God, let me
fear You without losing hope,
be truthful without guile,
do good works without presumption,
rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness,
and -- without hypocrisy --
strengthen him by word and example.

Give to me, O Lord God,
a watchful heart,
which no capricious thought
can lure away from You.

Give to me,
a noble heart,
which no unworthy desire can debase.

Give to me
a resolute heart,
which no evil intention can divert.

Give to me
a stalwart heart,
which no tribulation can overcome.

Give to me
a temperate heart,
which no violent passion can enslave.

Give to me, O Lord my God,
understanding of You,
diligence in seeking You,
wisdom in finding You,
discourse ever pleasing to You,
perseverance in waiting for You,
and confidence in finally embracing You.

that with Your hardships
I may be burdened in reparation here,
that Your benefits
I may use in gratitude upon the way,
that in Your joys
I may delight by glorifying You
in the Kingdom of Heaven.

You Who live and reign,
God, world without end.


Okay and all good but could you help me with this verse?

O Lord my God, let me
fear You without losing hope,
be truthful without guile,
do good works without presumption,
rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness,
and -- without hypocrisy --
strengthen him by word and example.
I thought this was all about ordering my life wisely not my neighbors... It would seem that I need to forever revert back to the top before talkin' to my neighbor.

Glass Coffins - Yeah, That's the Ticket

Saint Catherine Labouré

While some wax rhapsodic on the "eternal" appeal of vampires (good grief, yawn), others have a fine suggestion on how to keep the kids quiet during Mass (or the plethora of Protestant worship experiences): Glass coffins!

Come to think of it, I'll bet they would do wonders to megachurch attendance (downward), prosperity gospel lite worship centers (do you see him "taking it with him" anywhere, eh, pal?), and youth fellowship programs (o God, o God, we're all going to die!).

I also suggest several key members of Congress and the current Administration be sat real near one too, just for good measure ...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pilgrimage to Purgatory

Map of Station Island, Lough Derg, County Donegal, Ireland - 1666
With bare feet, they shuffle around the island muttering prayers; pain and suffering writ on their faces and a rainstorm breaking over them.

An ancient pilgrimage set in what medieval Christians called “the ends of the world” is undergoing a revival in Ireland as economic woes prompt a spiritual reawakening.

St Patrick’s Purgatory, on Station Island, a rocky islet in the midst of Lough Derg, was once Christendom’s premier pilgrimage. Its renown was based on the belief that it was a gateway to the next world and a place where penance could be matched to any sin.

Now that the material world of the Celtic “tiger” economy lies in ruins, the annual pilgrimage season is providing evidence that Ireland is returning to its roots as an island of saints and scholars. More >>

What if...

... that image hovered over the skyline of our own souls.

3 questions you face during a Cursillo weekend:
Where do you spend your time?
Where do you spend your money?
And what do you think most about?

Friars on Foot Thru Virginia Pt 2

Here's an update to Brother Aramis's story (below):

The pilgrimage was the idea of four young friars just finishing their training in Chicago and working toward taking lifelong vows. Seeking to emulate the wanderings of their founder, Saint Francis of Assisi, they wanted to journey together as a fraternity, ministering to one another and to strangers, while depending on God for every meal and place to sleep....

They tried to live by the ascetic rules Jesus laid out for his 12 disciples: "Take nothing for the journey -- no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic." The less they brought, they reasoned, the more room they could leave for God. The friars did make a few modifications, carrying a toothbrush, a wool blanket, water and a change of underwear ("a summer essential," one explained), as well as one cellphone in case of emergency.

Some rules, however, had to be made on the fly. They had agreed not to carry any money, but just minutes into their first day, strangers were pressing dollar bills into their hands. So they made a pact to spend what they received each day on food, often high-protein Clif bars, and to give the rest to the needy ... More>>

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Computers & 'Soft Despotism'

... the computer comes to represent an ideal, in light of which real thinking perversely begins to look deficient. Thus, when the postindustrial visionary reasons from the fact that complex systems involve "the interaction of too many variables for the mind to hold in correct order simultaneously" to the conclusion that "one has to use algorithms, rather than intuitive judgments, in making decisions," he argues from the fact that the mind does not do what a computer does to an assertion about the incompetence of the mind. This seems to express an irrational prejudice against people.

- Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft [171]

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reverence (?) You decide? Pastor decide? Oh, what the heck?

A little sampling of reverence in the house of the Lord.

Revenge on Ghost-boxes!

A fascinating study of the diminishing supply of petroleum and its benefits (!) is Christopher Steiner's $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better. Not only will Mom-and-Pop stores begin to ascend again as gas prices make travel less tenable, but the "big-box" stores ('Ghost-boxes', Steiner calls them) will stand vacant after $14 per/gallon gasoline.

See here for a Forbes review, "Revenge on the Big Box."

Mary - Mother of the Son

While recovering sight in my left eye with its recently reattached retina, I am reading Mark Shea's first volume in his Marian trilogy, Mary – Mother of the Son. I cannot speak highly enough about it.

Shea deals with the usual criticisms and misunderstandings between Catholics and Protestants regarding Our Lady (from the uber-Catholic haters like Jack Chick to the mildly disdainful Evangelicals). Then he really goes to work on the "pseudo-knowledge" sorts like Dan Brown who see all Christian faith as a derivative of pagan religions and conspiracies keeping this Gnosis from us by the "evil" Catholic Church.

Shea does all of the above not with a caustic defensiveness, but with a Chestertonian wit and brimming faith which, by definition, has sought understanding and found it in Mother Church's patrimony.

So Mary, Mother of the Son is not merely a defense of Marian devotion. It is an excellent little book that helps move converts and wannabee converts from the road-map learning of catechesis to the more mature, Spirit-led faith seeking understanding realms of mystagogy.

Thumbs up!

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Look Ma, Landing-gear Up

Check-list? We don't need no steeenkin' check-list, or wheels down, either. BTW, what's with all the beeping? Maybe it was trying to remind us of ...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

All 4 1 & 1 4 All

The Four M(ass')keteers

St Augustine & the Sacraments

Many Protestant Christians like to claim and quote from Saint Augustine. Fine and dandy. Dave Armstrong has compiled something helpful in the following: St. Augustine's Acceptance of the Seven Catholic Sacraments.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Michael Voris - Manhood

Here is an opportunity to extricate the concept of manhood from the gutter by Michael Voris in a short video entitled simply, Real men.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

They're on a collision course for Falls Church, VA

As you can see they have round the bend at Front Royal. Sunday they passed through Chateau O'Brien winery in Markham and so that puts them dead on target... Falls Church VA here they come!

June 16, four young Franciscan friars and their mentors set out on foot from Roanoke, Va., for a 300-mile pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. Following the example of St. Francis, they are depending upon the generosity of people they meet along the way for work, food and shelter. Throughout their six-week journey, “We all hope for openings to reflect with other young people on the important issues of our times, the longings of our human hearts, and the desire for peace throughout the world.”

Check here to see some of their postings along the way.

The mission statement for the Franciscan friars of St. John the Baptist Province is:

Franciscan Fire

Living and proclaiming the Gospel
is our goal. We do so:
as brothers to each other
and to the world;
Living with and for the poor;
Promoting justice, peace and
the care of creation.
Working with all women and men
of good will;
Inviting them to share
our Franciscan spirit.
Facing our future with hope,
we echo
Francis of Assisi who said,
"Let us begin again."

This post is for Athos as he can keep watch for the friars and possibly help them with a safe conclusion of their journey into the nation's capital. But beware Ath, because you may get caught up in the charisma and ask to join - well you can't join the friars but you could run off and join us in The Secular Franciscan Order - SFO. That would be a hoot.

Saint of the Day - Saint Lawrence of Brindisi - a Capuchin Friar

Cesare de Rossi was born at Brindisi in the Kingdom of Naples on July 22, 1559 into a Venetian family of a good social level. When sixteen, he entered the Capuchins, taking the name Lawrence. After studies in Verona, he was ordained and began to preach with great effect in Northern Italy. In 1596 he went to Rome as General of his Order, a position he would hold five times.

At the request of Emperor Rudolf II, who knew the reputation of the Capuchin, Pope Clement VIII sent Fr. Lawrence to Germany to help raise a crusade against the Turks. At that time, Mohamed III, the sultan of Constantinople, was advancing beyond the Danube with the aim of invading Hungary and Austria, thus opening the way to enter Italy. He bragged he would transform the altar of St. Peter Basilica into a manger to feed the Turkish horses.
On the day of battle, the Catholic General had only 18,000 men before the 80,000-strong army of the Turkish Sultan. Faced with this great disparity in numbers, the secondary commanders advised prudence and counseled the Archduke to withdraw. Archduke Matthias sent for Fr. Lawrence to ask his recommendation. The Capuchin advised attack, and for a second time, he assured a complete victory for the Catholic forces. His ardent faith wiped away the fear of the commanders. The decision was made to give battle, and the soldiers took their positions. Mounted, Lawrence addressed the troops and spoke with such vigor that the troops took the initiative and drove forward to attack the Turks with an incredible force.

READ the rest of the story HERE.

Of course many sources today will not even mention the battle with the Turks only telling of the saint's 'peaceful' qualities: like this: "Lawrence was appointed papal emissary and peacemaker, a job which took him to a number of foreign countries." I ask, would he have had the opportunity to be a peacemaker if he had not helped in the battle of Stuhlweissenburg?

Read the fuller legacy of Saint Lawrence HERE. With St. Anthony, St. Bonaventure, and Blessed John Duns Scotus, he is a Doctor of the Franciscan Order.

The known writings of St. Lorenzo of Brindisi comprise eight volumes of sermons, two didactic treatises on oratory, a commentary on Genesis, another on Ezechiel, and three volumes of religious polemics. Most of his sermons are written in Italian, the other works being in Latin. The three volumes of controversies have notes in Greek and Hebrew.

Looking for a scapegoat to sacrifice

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Year of Priests

I am grateful for this intensely truthful homily on God's great gift to his people: our priests.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sound of Music

I posted this before, but A Sound of Music break sounds awfully appealing to me today.

Pope Benedict XVI undergoes surgery for fractured wrist

AOSTA, Italy - Pope Benedict XVI emerged smiling from the hospital Friday after undergoing surgery for a broken wrist due to a fall at his Alpine vacation chalet. Doctors said his right arm would be in a cast for a month.

A Vatican statement said the 82-year-old pope fell in his room overnight and despite the accident, celebrated Mass and had breakfast in the morning before going to the hospital...

The pontiff left the hospital about six hours after arriving, smiling and waving with his left arm as he climbed into his car. His right arm hung straight by his side, the cast hidden by his white vestments. (vestments are sooo cool - my comment)

When reporters asked to see the cast he pulled back the vestment and revealed his decorative cast.

Do you think? Well maybe not, but wouldn't it be interesting to get followers to submit a cast decoration that would be cool to see on the Holy Father's arm?

Retreat Doesn't Mean Giving Up

Crusoe - N. C. Wyeth

Just remember: France survived the French Revolution
. Today, Steven Englund says, the Catholic faith there is growing. It even went on to produce Hilaire Belloc and that fellow from Stanford, what's his name...

Let's take a wait, pray, and see - ora et labora - stance. Never despair! Our Lord has overcome the world!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Greek Mythology 101

Or perhaps, sadly, Phaëton. Someone should have told him what happens to mortals who dabble in archetypal paganism.

Can you think of anyone else grasping at god-like grandeur these days?

H8 or sacred trip wire

This kind of statement will be illegal in the United States if this is made law. But, lest we forget, some animals are more equal than others.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Love to Laugh

What did brilliant comedian Ed Wynn sing in Mary Poppins? Test your ability to withstand positive mimesis right here and right now. Watch these boy quads and - whatever you do - do NOT laugh with them. Hey! Heyyy! I said ... oh, forget it.

Subsidiarity: A Primer

Brad Miner (The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry) writes,
Subsidiarity matters to me, and it's useful to recall this core principle of Catholic social teaching (and of American federalism), especially this week, as Benedict XVI releases his third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate ("Charity in Truth"), which is expected to address the subsidiarity principle in the context of the global financial crisis.

Here's what I wrote about it a decade ago in my book, The Concise Conservative Encyclopedia, sandwiched between entries on Strauss, Leo (1899-1973) and Sumner, William Graham (1840-1910):

subsidiarity: A term (the Latin subsidium for aid, help) from Roman Catholic social philosophy which expresses the view that, whenever practicable, decisions ought to be made by those most affected by the decisions. Put another way: the national government ought only to do what the states cannot; the states only what communities cannot; communities only what families cannot; families only what individuals cannot. This is not to suggest that Catholic social theory (especially as read in papal encyclicals) is always in favor of the minimalist state. John XXIII in Pacem in Terris (1963), while affirming the doctrine of subsidiarity, called for publicly funded health and unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and government support for the arts. Still, it is clear that "a planned economy . . . violates the principle of subsidiarity . . ." (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1965). Read: R.J. Neuhaus, Doing Well and Doing Good (1992). "Just as it is wrong to withdraw from the individual and commit to the community at large what private enterprise and endeavor can accomplish, so it is likewise unjust and a gravely harmful disturbance of right order to turn over to a greater society of higher rank functions and services which can be performed by lesser bodies on a lower plane." --Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno (1931)

I might have mentioned that, although not derived from Catholic sources (the first formulation in an encyclical came in 1891 in Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, "Of New Things,"), subsidiarity forms the basis of our Tenth Amendment ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people") ...
Read more here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stanford Wizard

He is one of the most recognizable, if largely unrecognized, superstars on the Stanford campus: The shock of white hair, the strikingly deep-set eyes beneath dark eyebrows are unmistakable. René Girard is one of only 40 members, or immortels, of the Académie Française, France's highest intellectual honor. He has taught here for 30 years, but the emeritus French professor admits that few people here understand quite what he does.

Girard, 85, has produced book after book. His latest, Achever Clausewitz, created a firestorm in Paris when it appeared in 2007—the kind of conflagration only a public intellectual in France can ignite. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was citing his words, and reporters made pilgrimages to Girard's Paris doorstep day after day. That sort of brouhaha is unlikely to happen when the English edition, Battling to the End: Politics, War, and Apocalypse, is published by Michigan State University this fall—but not because Girard avoids controversy; he seems to revel in it. Even in America, he's had his share.

Girard's work crosses the fields of literature, anthropology, theology, philosophy, sociology, psychology. His brainchild, the mimetic theory, emphasizes the role of imitation in our lives, as an effect and a behavior and a motivation. Toddlers learn to talk by imitation; we learn a foreign language by imitation. But mimesis is not only the way we learn—it's also the way we fight. We compete; we want what our brother has; we "keep up with the Joneses." Girard's theory—a long thought played out over decades—suggests that mimesis is the basis of all human conflict, and that the resolution of conflict through the public sacrifice of a scapegoat was the very foundation of archaic religions and civilizations. But the ancient formula no longer works, he says. The world may be headed for an impasse.

While the idea of mimesis is hardly foreign to the social sciences today, no one had made it a linchpin in a theory of human behavior and human destiny, as Girard did beginning in the 1950s. His one-man interdisciplinarity can present problems in academia, whose denizens haven't always condoned poaching.

Read more of History is a test. Mankind is failing it. René Girard scrutinizes the human condition from creation to apocalypse.

the search for God begins with a search for those who seek God

Tip to Father Mark @ Vultus Christi.

Read his post Men Who Hold Their Gaze Directly Towards God where Fr Mark does a very good job of helping us grasp the missing pieces to why Saint Benedict is so important to us right now. Yes we are living in very fragile and even frightening times where the life and light of God is all but snuffed out for a vast number of people. And what is it exactly that 'connects' one (Saint) Benedict to another Benedict (XVI)? In his blog post Father Mark provides us with some stepping stones to wonder through these ponderings.

One of the main focus of our blog here at The Four Mass'keteers is the thought of René Girard and mimetic theory. I found that Father Mark homed in on an important aspect to seeking God:
People come to monasteries in search of a place where there is evidence of a divine inbreaking: traces of the Kingdom of Heaven, glimmers of the glory of God shining on the Face of Christ.

Those Who Seek God

More often than not the search for God begins with a search for those who seek God. It has always been thus in the life of the Church in both East and West. The faithful come to monasteries looking for fathers and mothers for their souls. People seek out monks and nuns hoping to see on their faces a reflection of the brightness of God. By virtue of monastic profession, we are called to hold our faces directly toward God. "For it is the God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor 4:6).
One of our many gifts from Pope Benedict XVI is his prayerful gaze toward God and his declaration of the Year of the Priest that will help many more with this task of keeping their gaze directly toward God.

In this ever darkening world where we commoners find our families and work places shuffled in to we will need the ever-radiant light illumined by those who are steadfast in their gaze toward God. And we must remember that we are called to share in that light by carrying our cross with those who are walking beside us - ever mindful of where our gaze is focused.

Their souls have shrunk

tip to Athos over at Chronicles of Atlantis

(Can you say that your soul has not shrunk as well?)

Nevertheless, the intellectual junk-food that pop-culture and mainstream education has been feeding them since their youth has become satisfying, for their souls have shrunk in adjustment, and they have never tasted rich spiritual food by contrast with which they could detect the other as counterfeit. Because of this, as German philosopher Josef Pieper suggests, they have made their peace with illusions:

For the general public is being reduced to a state where people not only are unable to find out about the truth but also become unable to search for the truth because they are satisfied with deception and trickery that have determined their convictions, satisfied with a fictitious reality created by design through the abuse of language.
Today’s barbarians, with all their myriad choices, are in truth choiceless, for they do not themselves feel chosen in their heart of hearts, as the great conservative Jewish sociologist Philip Rieff has written:

There is no more feeling more desperate than that of being free to choose, and yet without the specific compulsion of being chosen. After all, one does not really choose; one is chosen. This is one way of stating the difference between gods and men. Gods choose; men are chosen. What men lose when they become as free as gods is precisely that sense of being chosen, which encourages them, in their gratitude, to take their subsequent choices seriously.


(2 cents from me) Sadly I have witnessed soooo many souls wondering, particular in the youth - the 20 somethings - lost without any apparent dream or mystery. Their eyes closed so as to avoid any remote chance of bumping into wonderment or joy that cannot be easily explained.

Read this article by Thaddeus J. Kozinski, A new Benedict for a new Dark Ages where he sheds hope to those few who may still have their eyes ajar (though I am afraid that we have already lost very many to the Hocus Pocus slide-of-hand artists).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hocus Pocus

Matthew Archbold points out an essential illusion of today's faltering western culture:

The NY Times is doing a victory lap over the blogosphere today:

For the most part, the traditional news outlets lead and the blogs follow, typically by 2.5 hours, according to a new computer analysis of news articles and commentary on the Web during the last three months of the 2008 presidential campaign.

The finding was one of several in a study that Internet experts say is the first time the Web has been used to track — and try to measure — the news cycle, the process by which information becomes news, competes for attention and fades.
This is laughable because the media is ahead of the blogs only in what they choose to cover.

For example, look at the recent quotes that came to light concerning Obama's Science Czar John Holdren who endorsed mass sterilizations and forced abortions in a book he wrote in 1977. Those comments were discovered not by one reporter on a staff of hundreds on a large metropolitan newspaper. Those comments were discovered by a guy who runs a blog called Zombietime. And Holdren's comments launched 4,000 blog posts over the next three days. But not one mainstream media organization has looked into these comments.

So on this story, the blogosphere is uhmm...three days ahead of the MSM. And counting ... More >>>
What Archbold outlines (and Michelle Malkin, too - see the link) is the collusion that is part and parcel of today's out-of-control swinging pendulum of what Saint Paul calls "party spirit." Should you ever get a chance to listen to Gil Bailie's reflections on Dante's Inferno, I highly recommend his in-depth discussion of this particular circle of hell. (Sadly, Mr. Bailie's present Emmaus Road Initiative does not allow his greatest skill for such in-depth ruminations.)

René Girard has studied this phenomenon extensively - the "problem of the doubles" - and future generations will stand amazed at the way two-party politics in the United States of America foiled what was left of old Christendom.

In these meantimes, "Prez I Wun" in his hubris is the magician of magicians, the master of the sacred prestidigitation of collusion. I have never seen his better (sic.).

Nevertheless, the Holy Father has once again left us a trail of bread crumbs (Panis Angelicus), but it takes saints - and the aspiring saintly ones (wink, wink) - to strive, to struggle, to follow this trail far from the maddening crowd (would Thomas Hardy know this? I'll leave that to you to decide), and maybe fail miserably in the effort.

But you know what? I'll take that failure over the collusion smoke and mirrors of the MSM, Wall Street, and the Republic and Democratic parties. Any day.

How Michael Jackson Ruined the Economy

The inimitable Spengler (David P. Goldman):
Michael Jackson's body lies a-moldering in the grave (in fact, it was a-moldering long before it reached the grave), but his adolescent soul goes marching on. The hangover from America's obsession with perpetual youth will last for a decade or more. Judging from the rock-star adulation accorded to Obama, Americans haven't yet learned their lesson, which is: after a certain age, no, you can't.
Read all …

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Prophet of the Future

For the record, Father Dwight Longenecker on similarities between the cultural meltdown of the fifth century, and today:
A friend who returned from a visit to France last week was enlivened by his experience of the new ecclesial communities there. He met members of the Community of the Beatitudes -- a mixed community of men and women, married and celibate, who live a life with apostolic work and evangelization, Carmelite spirituality, and beautiful liturgy.

He met members of Communion and Liberation, visited with monks from the Community of St. John, and heard about the work of the Emmanuel Community -- another Catholic community that lives a radical discipleship, working to renew the Catholic Church in France.

When I lived in England I got to meet the members of these new communities, plus many more, through my network in the Catholic Church and by traveling in Europe. In many ways, what is going on in the Catholic Church in Europe is reminiscent of events in Italy in the fifth century.

At that time, the great Roman Empire was crumbling under its own moral, financial, and cultural decay. The barbarians were invading unchecked, the infrastructure had broken down, the armies could not be paid, and the mighty glory of Rome was in tatters.

In the midst of this social decay, the young St. Benedict was sent from his patrician home to study in Rome. Within a year he was disgusted by the laziness, immorality, and despair of his fellow students. He dropped out of college and went to live as a hermit in Subiaco. Eventually he founded small communities of men and women living a simple life of prayer, work, and study. From those base communities the great monastic institutions grew, and from these centers of prayer, work, and learning there flowered the great civilization of medieval Christendom.

In our own time of societal decay, it is important to try to get into Benedict's mindset, first remembering several vital facts: First of all, Benedict was a layman. He saw a need and took the initiative to start his communities. While he did nothing contrary to the teachings of the Church, and did not rebel against the rightful authority, he also did not sit around waiting for a priest or bishop to give him a job. With the grace of his baptism he simply got on and did what he was called to do. Details in his famous rule suggest that Benedict was somewhat cautious in his relationship with priests and regarded them as necessary, but not necessarily trustworthy.

It is also important to understand the monastic relationship to culture. A monk sees the decaying culture and believes the only possible response is withdrawal. He despises any Christianity that compromises with the decadent society, and he does not think "dialogue" is either desirable or possible. He does not believe that prophetic imprecations and predictions of God's judgment on the immoral culture are useful. Like St. Anthony of the Desert and the first monks in Egypt, the traditional monk believes that withdrawal from the world is the only way to save the world.

The third thing to remember about Benedict is that he probably never anticipated the great resurrection of learning, culture, and spirituality that would flow from his decision to live simply in the Italian hills following a life of prayer, work, and study. In other words, he was faithful where he was with what he could do. Whether it came to something or not wasn't his to decide. The fact that his movement eventually produced phenomenal accomplishments in virtually every area of human achievement, was the foundation for a new civilization, and changed the world forever was not something he either anticipated or predicted ...
Read all …

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Brother, can you spare

Saint Benedict, pray for us, because Prez I Wun (read: Chet Roosevelt) has declared (sternly, solemnly, obamaly ... (ripped off from Lair of the Catholic Cavemen)

Saint Benedict

Friday, July 10, 2009

Saving Your Breath (part II?)

See Athos' post Saving Your Breath where he shares a great article (also read the comment).

Lifted from the Magnificat.

When we live with others, obedience also means we set aside our own tastes and leave things in the place others have put them. In this way, life becomes an epic film in slow motion. It does not make our head spin. It does not take our breath away. Little by little, thread by thread, it eats away at the old man's frame, which cannot be mended and must be made new from the ground up. When we thus become accustomed to giving up our will to so many tiny things, we will no longer find it hard, when the occasion presents itself, to do the will of our boss, our husband, or our parents.

And our hope is that death, too, will be easy. - Servant of God, Madeleine Delbrel
Give yourself a treat and link HERE to read the full meditation by Madeleine Delbrel--a French Dorothy Day as well as a nice reflection by Larry D @ Acts of the Apostasy

My added reflection is that we need to appreciate and embrace 'obedience'. We are human and therefore mimetic (see our side panel for all the great Girard articles including Vine and Branches by Gil Bailie). We are always having to come to terms with the fact that we are creatures of obedience - either we are obedient to the Spirit of Love & Charity and “happiness” leading us on “our journey towards Heaven,” or the spirit of death in the relentless pursuit of ... pleasure. There really is no in-between as the last couple of generations have tried to experiment with trying to be 'neutral' and thus getting trapped in the dictatorship of relativism leaving the human family in dire straits.

Don't get stuck in obedience to the myth of the pursuit of pleasure (and gain) for it only leaves you short of breath and reeling from mimetic entanglements of this soap-opera world. Surrender and repent, asking forgiveness and grace to finally free yourself through obedience to The One who gives you breath of eternal life.

And oh, get yourself a copy of this fabulous little book to help guide your steps toward that 'happiness on your journey towards Heaven'. You won't regret it.

Meditation - Put Christ before everything

Clipped from Office of Readings for Saturday July 11, 2009

No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life. – St. Benedict

"Knowing" and Hope

Spoiler Alert: This post reveals the plot of the film "Knowing" starring Nicholas Cage.

Roger Ebert has said this of the film Knowing (2009), starring Nicholas Cage,

"Knowing" is among the best science-fiction films I've seen -- frightening, suspenseful, intelligent and, when it needs to be, rather awesome.

High praise from Ebert. Oddly, "Knowing" is, ultimately, for planet Earth and all its inhabitants, a tragedy. Very high praise from Roger Ebert indeed.

Ebert, a cradle Catholic and one-time Altar-server, has let it be known that his faith is, shall we say, nil. And, given that both he and I belong to the cancer-bestowed Pre-Death Club, I find this far more tragic than any mere movie tragedy.

If you have seen "Knowing" and felt a sense of dread and existential nihilism (a case of the heebee-jeebees in a less cool age), do not think that you can hit the pause button, get up, go to the kitchen, get a snack, come back and watch the Earth incinerated by a solar flare, brush your teeth, and go snuggly to bed.

All of us - all of us - must one day, if we are blessed, come to grips with our mortality. I wrote A Little Guide for Your Last Days to be what it says it is: a small book meant to help every man, woman, or young person do exactly that - come to grips with our mortality and the Big Question facing each one of us.

It is "Knowing" of the very highest order. And it may, I pray, lead you to hope.

Saving Your Breath

Some years ... after I came to the US, a young, cradle Catholic relative of my husband’s who was visiting us made the following statement: “I know that you go to church and read the Bible. I follow the Satanic bible. The only difference between your Bible and mine is that mine is based on pleasure and yours on sacrifice.” I just looked at her. If she could see no difference between a life based on self-sacrifice and one based on pleasure, I’d follow an old Italian advice: “Save your breath for when you die.”

... As the years go by, I notice that the attacks against the Church are becoming more vicious, more widespread, and more intolerant. Why? Why would a Church that preaches charity, love of neighbor, forgiveness of enemies, and help to those who need it, be so hated? Why does the media seem to rejoice every time that Christians, and especially priests, fall into sin (aren’t we all sinners)?

[ ... ]

We have daily example of the futility of following our own definition of “happiness,” but it seems that few realize it. The news are always full of celebrities, with good looks, money, prestige, fame etc. who commit suicide, or fall addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex or become mentally ill. Pleasure did not fulfill their needs. As Fr. Hilton says: “Trying to fill our hearts with anything other than God is like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with pebbles, one at a time.”

Read all of Life, Liberty and the Relentless Pursuit of… Pleasure

A Pet SR-71

I want one! Christmas gift, anyone?

19 Pro-Life Dems

Matthew Archbold points out something very interesting involving nineteen pro-life Democrats:
Democrats have had a strategy of running "conservative" and pro-life Democrats in red districts as a way of gaining seats the last few cycles. You must admit, it's worked quite well for Democrats as they now have massive majorities in both the House and the Senate.

But the strategy does have its drawbacks for the Democrats.

Representatives like Heath Shuler from North Carolina and Tim Holden from Pennsylvania among others are pro-life Democrats that have won in red districts. While adding to the Democrat majority, those same conservative Democrats may make it more difficult for Obama to pass his more "progressive" legislation.

Particularly, the fate of President Obama's health care reform might come down to one single issue: abortion.
Read all here.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

USAToday - Follow the $$

Basic rule, for friend or foe: Always follow the money. Always. Alas.

"Change". Yeah - right ....

What it takes to make men and boys flourish

Finding the Masculine Genius - Interview With English Professor Anthony Esolen

Q: From your study of ancient and medieval works, such as Dante, what remedies could be applied to the many relational ills that plague society, such as high divorce rates, low birthrates and high numbers of children born out of wedlock?

Esolen: A good question. People can learn from both the Catholic and the Protestant literature of the past an appreciation for the wonder of the body, and of the virtue of chaste love.

They can learn from Dante that the love of man and woman is a glorious motif in the symphony of love fashioned by him who moves the sun and the other stars.

From Torquato Tasso and Edmund Spenser they can learn that the typical sin against love, occasioned by unchastity, does not so much stoke the flame of desire as it dampens it, making both the heart and the mind feeble, ineffectual.

From Spenser they can learn that marriage is not a private matter -- one of our greatest and silliest errors -- but a deeply social bond that unites those two fascinatingly different sorts of creatures, man and woman, in such a way as to link them to the families who have gone before them and to the families that will be born from their love.
Maybe the most important thing they (the old poets) teach, though, is the delightfulness of the good: the lovely and modest woman -- Miranda in Shakespeare's "Tempest" -- and the brave and gentle young man -- Florizel in Shakespeare's "Winter's Tale."

Our children's imaginations now are a war zone, or what is left of fields and hills after the bombs have blasted them and the poison gas has infested them for 15 years.

Even fairy tales, those deeply Christian and incarnational folk parables of the West have been poisoned by feminist revisers.

So I guess I am saying that we will cure none of those ills, not one, unless we rediscover the virtue of purity, and we will not rediscover that virtue unless our imaginations are engaged by its beauty, and that from our childhoods.

Ah, noble causes & how the devil works - on the other hand CARITAS IN VERITATE (prayers, sacraments & charity) is our light of hope

tip to D'artagnan

The above video is from The Screwtape Letters, a masterpiece from CS Lewis, where John Cleese reads Letter 7 discussing noble causes.

Screwtape writes to Wormwood:
“Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours....”
For those who have not read The Screwtape Letters; In the body of the thirty-one letters which make up the book, Screwtape gives Wormwood detailed advice on various methods of undermining faith and promoting sin in his Patient, interspersed with observations on human nature and Christian doctrine.

We look forward to The Screwtape Letters, the movie 'in development' hopefully scheduled for a 2010 release.

But in the meantime (and ordinary time), remember to stay immersed in prayer, sacraments and charity as outlined by Pope Benedict XVI in his latest Encyclical Letter, CARITAS IN VERITATE

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Catholicism - Faith and Reason

Just as Benedict XVI releases his new Encyclical CARITAS IN VERITATE (and which Elizabeth Scalia, 'The Anchoress', juxtaposes neatly with Pixar's great little Partly Cloudy), I think it is important for Catholics to remind themselves of something.

Protestants do not connect all the dots that we do as Catholic Christians. We see the Holy Father bring forth an invaluable letter of instruction for the faithful in the world. We also see the inevitable plethora of commenting about it by this and that authority in the Catholic press constellation. Protestant Christians furrow their brows and wonder, "Why do they (Catholics) give so much importance to what that old guy in fancy white robes writes?" They may even add, "It just isn't faithful to Jesus our Lord to make old Pope Benedict so important."

Catholicism for Protestants is a massive hookwinking, bait-and-switch scheme. Remove the pure, New Testament faith that each and every generation has access to, and replace it with this vast conspiracy of hierarchy, power, and mumbo-jumbo.

And, the truth be told, often Catholics have been too gullible and, sorry to say, ignorant of Catholic truth. All it takes, for example, is one beautiful, young, sincere Evangelical coed who asks, "Where is the Pope mentioned in the Baa-bull?" and young Joe Catholic may even discard the patrimony of the Church for good (or in this case, bad).

Catholicism is a vital (that is, living) mixture of faith and reason - and I mean reason. It consists of a near-never ending string of therefores: a is true, and b is true; therefore c must also be true. And if c is true and d is true, it follows, therefore, that e is also true ...

So, it is with admiration that I lift up Lydia McGrew's excellent post at What's Wrong with the World regarding evidence for the historicity of the New Testament. I have heard a similar (and better) examination for the historicity of the New Testament documents given by the president of Christendom College, Timothy T. O'Donnell, STD, KGCHS. But this is one of those starting points that shows first things about which Protestants and Catholics must agree.

And, by the way, the beginning of the papacy is found in St. Matthew's Gospel, chapter 16, when Our Lord appoints St Peter the first Pope. Benedict XVI is our 266th.

UPDATE: Father Robert Barron's first impressions on Caritas in Veritate here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Love - caritas from CARITAS IN VERITATE

tip to Amy Welborn.

In the introduction of CARITAS IN VERITATE just released, Pope Benedict XVI writes:

Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. Each person finds his good by adherence to God's plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:22).
Oh my, what goodness we have to look forward to as we plum the richness and spiritual depth of this latest ENCYCLICAL LETTER.

As there are ever-so-many-more folks unfamilar with Christian/Catholic understanding of some the most basic thoughts I just wanted to lift this one up: LOVE.

Beautiful music - beautiful message

Music from the movie The Soloist is by Dario Marianelli. He writes in the inside,
There is a header written by Beethoven himself, at the top of the manuscript of the 3rd movement of the String Quartet n.15 op. 132. It says, "Song of thanks, offered to the God by one restored to health." I think this will resonate with some powerful moments in our movie, which encourages meditation of various kinds on the schizophrenic nature of our society, on the dichotomy between health and insanity, and on the nature of friendship and humanity. Although Beethoven himself would not have used our vocabulary to describe his thoughts about the struggle ... his music is informed by those thoughts.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Why I'm a Distributist (Subsidiarist)

(S)ubsidiarity, by virtue of its emphasis on devolving power away from concentration among the few (whether bureaucrats or businessmen), encourages the sort of competition and diversity that may well be both the greatest help to the poor and the best guarantor of economic stability, and it promotes the kinds of checks and balances that provide efficient, sensible regulation.

The Catechism states: “The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.”

Timely truths.

Read all of Subsidiarty – A Primer.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independence Day hymn - This is my song, oh God of all nations

tip to Gil Bailie over at Reflections on Faith and Culture

"This is my song, oh God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is; here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine. But other hearts in other lands are beating, with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

"My country's skies are bluer than the ocean, and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine. But other lands have sunlight, too, and clover, and skies are everywhere as blue as mine. Oh, hear my song, thou God of all the nations, a song of peace for their land and for mine.

"May truth and freedom come to every nation; may peace abound where strife has raged so long, That each may seek to love and build together a world united, righting every wrong -- A world united in its love for freedom, proclaiming peace together in one song."

Composed by Lloyd Stone and arranged by Jean Sibelius

Friday, July 03, 2009

Fr Baron refers to Girard and the unveiling of scapegoating violence

We must keep reminding folks who come visiting that we have a "must read" Girardian side bar. Please scroll over and check out these books and further down are some links to great articles that explain and go into detail about scapegoating violence and mimetic theory.

Here are 2 Girard books and 1 from our friend and mentor Gil Bailie:

I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

The Girard Reader

Violence Unveiled

This is serious stuff but if you are serious about the bible you must be serious about the violence it unveils. The bible reveals Love in as much as it unveils our violence.

My Lord and My God - St. Thomas the Apostle

In a state of nothingness before God we experience true freedom

The offering God loves

What God wants is our trust, our dependence, our reliance, our certainty, our surrender. God loves to be acknowledged by nothingness. In the nothingness that we offer to God, the Everything he gives appears ever more glorious. For the supreme dignity that is ours as human beings is this direct dependence upon God. Our greatness and freedom derive from this dependence.

Therefore, at the presentation of the gifts we offer to God everything in our life that cries out to be filled with his Presence. Everything that is going wrong. All our troubles, our worries, our weakness, our regrets. All our confusion, our frustration, our concerns, our problems, our wounds. All our limitations, our heartaches, our doubts, our afflictions, our inability, our sorrows, our emptiness, our temptations, our broken relationships, our fears, our sufferings, our helplessness - all the trying and impossible circumstances of our life. These we unite to the gifts of bread and wine brought up to the altar so that Christ will take every bit of our longing and our need and turn it into himself. "Let us draw near and give the Divine Pauper a little of our bread and wine, that he may give them back to us invested with his presence, in a communion of life with our" (Father Maurice Zundel).

Finally, let what we offer in the Sunday collection reflect how much our faith, our religion, and our parish truly mean to us.

- Father Peter John Cameron, O.P., from July 2009 Magnificat

Repent and believe - Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM

Repent and Believe in the Gospel!
Before Jesus, to convert always meant a "going back" (the Hebrew term, "shur," means to reverse course, to go back on one's steps). It indicated the act of the one who, at a certain point of life, realized that he was "not on course"; then he paused, reconsidered; decided on a change of attitude and returned to observance of the law and the Covenant with God. He made a real change of direction, a "U-turn." Conversion, in this case, has a moral meaning; it consists of changing customs, of reforming one's life.

This meaning changes on Jesus' lips. To convert no longer means to go back to the ancient Covenant and observance of the law; rather, it means to make a great leap forward and to enter the Kingdom, to cling to the salvation which has come to men gratuitously, by the free and sovereign initiative of God.

Conversion and salvation have exchanged places. There no longer is, as before, the conversion of man and therefore salvation as God's recompense; rather, salvation is first, as generous and gratuitous offer of God, and then conversion as man's response. In this consist the "glad tidings," the joyful character of evangelical conversion. God does not wait for man to make the first step, to change his life, to do good works, almost as if salvation is compensation for his efforts. No; grace precedes, it is God's initiative. In this, Christianity is distinguished from all other religions: it does not begin with preaching duty but gift; it does not begin with the law, but with grace.

"Repent and believe": This phrase does not mean therefore two different and successive things, but the same fundamental action: Convert, that is, believe! By believing, be converted. Faith is the door through which one enters the Kingdom. If it had been said: The door is innocence, the door is exact observance of all the commandments, the door is patience, purity, one might say: it's not for me; I'm not innocent, I am lacking in this or that virtue. But we are told: The door is faith. It is not impossible for anyone to believe, because God has created us free and intelligent precisely to make the act of faith in him possible for us.

2 Cheers for Independence Day

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Athos recovering from eye surgery

This just in from Lady Athos regarding Athos' surgery to repair a detached retina:

Figured this was the best way to let you know that Athos' eye surgery went well. We saw the surgeon this morning. Patch came off. Attachment is 100%, gas bubble 100%, & pressure good.

Last night was rough. He couldn't have anything besides Tylenol for pain since they didn't want to risk nausea. Remaining face-down for 4 days when awake and laying on left side for sleep for 7 days doesn't leave him much chance for computer even if he had two good eyes right now.

All of us continue to lift you and Lady Athos up in our prayers.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Appreciatively ripped off from Shrine of the Holy Whapping: Charpentier's Te Deum, performed by Le Parlement de Musique, Chapel Royal, Versailles.