Thursday, December 24, 2009

She might have had a gun

Some random woman, reportedly "deranged", shoved Pope Benedict to the floor of St. Peter's tonight just before Mass. The Pope was unhurt, thank God. But she might have had a gun, and then the Enemy would have landed another haymaker on this Christmas Eve, added to the Senate passage of abortion-funding "health care" legislation.

Let's be thankful for Pope Benedict while we have him. Media vita in morte sumus.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gotta hand it to ya, Catholics for Obama!

If 54% of my fellow Catholics hadn't voted for Barack Obama, maybe ornaments like this wouldn't be hanging from this year's White House Christmas -- oops, "Holiday" tree.

h/t SHH.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A rather slanted magazine rack

I visited our parish's offices a couple of weeks ago for a meeting, and the staff magazine rack caught my eye. Quite a few publications that tend to be full of dissent from Catholic doctrine: Sojourners, Commonweal, NCR. Some lukewarm ones like U. S. Catholic.

Fortunately also the Knights of Columbus' Columbia mag -- I'm guessing it's there because the Knights are making sure it's there.

But nothing else of substance on the orthodox side: no First Things, no Our Sunday Visitor, no Touchstone.

Monday, November 30, 2009


The smoking gun of climate change flummery-- if the emails are authenticated.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Send more like this one!

Bishop Tobin: Pro-Abortion Catholic Pols Should Worry About Their Souls, Not Job

Washington, DC ( --
Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island, who has been involved in an exchange on abortion and communion with pro-abortion Congressman Patrick Kennedy, gave an interview this week to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. On the program, he said pro-abortion Catholic politicians need to be more worried about their souls than their jobs. "The most important commitment we can make is our faith, because that defines our relationship with God. Nothing is more important than that. And if your job, your profession, your vocation gets in the way of that, you have to quit your job and save your soul," Tobin said. Tobin also said on the show that his 2007 decision to ask Kennedy to voluntarily stop receiving communion because of his pro-abortion stance was not a "punishment." "Every Catholic has certain obligations, it means something to say you are a Catholic. No one is forced to be a Catholic," he said. "If you choose freely to be a Catholic it means you do certain things, and you believe certain things, and I think all I'm trying to say to Congressman Kennedy and others who might be involved, say: if you're a Catholic, live up to your faith. Understand what the Church teaches, accept those teachings, and live that faith. If the church, not just the Catholic Church, but the religious community - if we don't bring these values, this spiritual vision to these discussions, who else will do that?"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh, good.

Sometime in the next few days, I hope to write a bit about the goings-on described in this article. As soon as I get my teeth to stop gnashing.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Pope on the rights of Indians, 1537

The anti-Catholic propaganda of Protestantism, which has now morphed into the anti-Catholic propaganda of militant secularism, has long maintained that the Catholic Church did nothing to fight for the natural rights of the native inhabitants of the New World, and actually abetted their cruel treatment at the hands of Spanish and Portuguese explorers.

Well, OK, let's start at the top; let's start with the Pope. What did Pope Paul III write in 1537, just 18 years after Cortez landed in Mexico, and only eight years after Pizarro invaded Peru? "Nice going, guys, those heathens sure deserved to be exploited to the hilt for your enrichment?"

Not exactly.

From the encyclical Sublimus Dei:

... notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

Read the whole thing (it's short) here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Obama economic advisor Robert Reich does us all a favor:

I will actually give you a speech made up entirely almost at the spur of the moment of what a candidate for president would say if that candidate did not care about becoming president. In other words, this is what the truth is and a candidate will never say, but what candidates should say if we were in a kind of democracy where citizens were honored.


I'm so glad to see you, and I would like to be president. Let me tell you a few things on healthcare. Look, we are we have the only healthcare system in the world that is designed to avoid sick people. That's true.


And by the way, we are going to have to, if you are very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive. So we're going to let you die.

Catholics who voted for Obama should ponder Mr. Reich's words. Is this what you wanted? If not, what are you doing about it? Remember, Reich isn't some unknown kook or talk show host; he's a former governor and Secretary of Labor, and Obama picked him as an advisor.

Listen to the complete audio of this 2007 speech at Berkeley here.

"Is there no virtue among us?"

I believe our Church took a terribly wrong turn when, beginning after Vatican II, it de-emphasized the cultivation of individual virtue (as an expression of the love of Christ) and threw all its attention upon cultivation of the Corporal Works of Mercy (i.e., feeding the hungry, relieving poverty), but in a very peculiar way -- by cultivating the power of the government to coerce from unwilling donors the counterfeit of Christian charity via taxation and redistribution -- that is, socialist solutions to societal problems.

So I guess I'm agreeing with James Madison, who said in 1788:

Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks -- no form of government -- can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea...

Had the Church concentrated on its immemorial task, bringing individuals to a love of Christ which would express itself in sacrificial love of neighbor, we would have a much healthier nation now, and ironically, the conditions of social justice which are so often prayed for would be far closer to realization -- through the virtue of sacred Charity in millions of ordinary people.

Friday, October 02, 2009

"Streets" smarts

Lately, we've been enjoying reruns of the early '70's TV series The Streets of San Francisco, and something from a recently-aired show seemed worth noting.

In this episode, a young woman called Barbara (played by Kitty Winn, of The Exorcist and The Panic in Needle Park fame) chooses to have her out-of-wedlock baby at a home for unwed mothers, against the wishes of her hyper-feminist mother, who wants her to get an abortion. But it turns out that the home is in cahoots with a doctor who lost his license for doing abortions back in the '50's, and who has a nice scam going. When one of these mothers is ready to deliver, the doc over-anesthetizes her and then tells her, when she awakes, that the baby was stillborn. He then sells the baby on the illegal-adoption market.

Barbara doesn't buy that story, though, and goes hunting for the child. In the final confrontation scene, her mother tells her she isn't being reasonable. She rounds on her mother and says:

What's your idea of "reasonable", Mother? Pill in the morning? Sex at night? Abortion at the end of a careless month? That's not my idea of "reason". I know what it is to have life inside of me -- growing, through me. You never taught me that. You never taught me that life and love are the same. You didn't want me to have my baby. Nobody does. Nobody.

This episode aired in 1973, shortly after Roe v. Wade. You probably couldn't get such an intelligent and forthright challenge to abortion on the air today, but back then, the issue was still new and raw enough, maybe, to allow for a wider range of expression.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ObamaCare vs. ChristCare

Quite apart from the issue of providing abortion funding either by specific inclusion or by a lack of well-defined exclusion (as has been proposed and repeatedly rejected by House Democrats), there is the larger question of whether the Catholic Church should be cheering this enormous extension of government control over the lives of Americans, funded by the coercive power of taxation. I don't think it should.

Our Church is about saving souls, first and foremost. Yes, our cooperation in that process will naturally lead us to care for the material needs of the poor and unfortunate. But it profits us nothing to provide that care through government, since that simply forces someone else to pay for it. Forcing someone else to give their money is not a virtue. Only if that care is enabled through our own direct, intentional, sacrificial giving, does it form a part of the change of heart that our Savior is asking of us.

If it's common now to refer to the president's proposals as ObamaCare, I would say that we Catholics should be focusing on ChristCare: an organized voluntary taking up of other people's healthcare burdens through the voluntary, sacrificial giving of ordinary Catholics.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What else went wrong

At a local book sale recently I picked up a book with the intriguing title The Catholic Heritage, by one Lawrence S. Cunningham. I'm always interested in learning more about the contributions that Catholics have made over the span of the Church's history. Given the book's title, it seemed reasonable to expect that I might find out some new things along that line.

I stopped reading at the following:

It is no longer possible to think of Catholic theology; there are a number of theologies which work within the larger tradition which we call the "Catholic tradition".

And what are some of those "theologies"? Liberation theology. Feminist theology, including the execrable work of Mary Daly.

It's not so much that I think Mr. Cunningham was wrong when he was writing back in 1983. The big problem is that he was probably right. And that's another thing that went wrong after Vatican II: knowledge of and respect for the theological heritage of the Church took a back seat to the feelings of us Boomers, who were by then thoroughly accustomed to having our demands for "relevance" and "meaningfulness" catered to.

It was the beginning of a Church of teenagers, not a Church of adults. Maybe -- just maybe -- the generation of young Catholics we see today is actually willing to grow up, at an age when my generation was not.

The "mass" I left behind me

The recent nauseating "Mass" depicted in this video is a perfect example of what drove me away from attendance at Sunday Mass back in the 1970's. The irony is that the "reformers" thought that this kind of thing was going to be the key to keeping my generation in the Church. Think again, guys. And, another thing: ask God to forgive you for dragging His Church down into this relativistic, self-indulgent, politicized, ugly muck.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"The melancholy, long, withdrawing roar" claims another fine old church

Catholic Culture noted the closing of 170-year-old St. John the Baptist church in Schenectady, NY, by the Diocese of Albany, which is boldly spreading the Faith by closing 33 parishes in the next three years. Bishop Howard Hubbard has presided over the collapse of Catholicism in his diocese since 1977, closing 36 parishes previously.

With considerable irony, the date of SJB's closing was June 24, the feast of -- as the lone commenter (a priest) pointed out on the Albany Business Review's story -- you guessed it, St. John the Baptist.

The parish still has a forlorn little website up. You can see the stained glass windows here. The altar had long ago undergone the mandatory wreckovation, though most of the basic architecture was still to be seen. Behind the altar is a huge wooden carving depicting St. John (I guess) being engulfed by a tidal wave on the Jordan or possibly consumed by a large carnivorous plant. The last worship schedule listed a single Sunday Mass, a "folk Mass" at 10:00 AM.

"Folk Mass"?? When did "aggiornamento" get defined as "keeping the Church tied to the pop culture of 1964"?

At least it won't be torn down. It's going to become the new performing home of Schenectady Light Opera. Maybe they'll treat St. John better than the diocese did.

Some things don't change

It seems to me that, in a sense, the Cross of Calvary was no anomaly, no betrayal of Christ unique to its place in time, or the people who actually took part in it. The Cross is always what happens to Jesus, to the Word Made Flesh, whenever He appears in this world we chose in place of the one He made; either in His full form in Jesus of Nazareth, the Second Person of the Trinity; or in His partial form, in His followers who, now and then, trust Him with their lives. Jesus could have dropped in anytime in human history and our charming species would have done Him in just the same.

More than that: if God's plan of salvation had been different, and Jesus had re-entered time every year somewhere on January 1, every generation would still have found a reason and a way to get Him to someplace like Calvary by 11:59PM on December 31. And probably much sooner: it was a quick five days from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, after all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Progress without Pause

From an article by Gilbert Meilaender in the February 2009 First Things:

"What does it profit a man," Kierkegaard writes, "if he goes further and further and it must be said of him: he never stops going further; when it must also be said of him: was there nothing that made him pause?"

Meilaender is writing in the context of recent reports of a successful human cloning in, of course, California. It used to be that a sensible fear of science overreaching itself was a staple of the common culture, expressed in the standard "mad scientist" character. Now, it seems, scientists who are inclined to indulge their lust for experimentation without moral boundaries are permanently excused from any scrutiny, as long as they clothe their work in the mantle of a search for knowledge.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Could the "reform of the reform" finally be starting?

This article from the website mentions unconfirmed reports (unconfirmed by the Vatican, that is) that there may finally be some progress toward the much-needed "reform of the reform" in Catholic liturgy, to convey more of a sense of the sacred. Ideas that have been suggested by the Congregation for Divine Worship include (gasp!) an end to the practice of receiving communion in the hand, and (double gasp!) a return to the celebration of the Mass ad orientem. That is, with the priest facing God and leading us to Him, not facing us to tell us what terrific people we are.

It can't come too soon.

Missions? Really?

Yesterday, most of the homily time at St. Thomas Aquinas was taken up by an appeal on behalf of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur -- specifically their missions program in third world countries. Our priest called it the best mission-oriented message he had heard.

Yet I noticed something that left me very uneasy. The nun who spoke described quite a few charitable efforts going on at Notre Dame missions: teaching their African students to raise their own food, for example, so they wouldn't have to sit through their classes hungry.

Laudable, yes. But I kept waiting for any mention of the main thing that I thought missions were supposed to be for: bringing the Catholic Faith to those who don't have it. I waited. And I waited. And then the speech was over.

I have no doubt the Notre Dame sisters do many charitable things in foreign countries. But really, how is this different from what many secular groups do, like the Peace Corps? And frankly, often do better?

Why don't they want to emphasize -- or even mention -- the one thing that Catholic religious orders have always been proudest to do -- tell the world about Christ and His Church?

Monday, August 03, 2009

A teachable moment

After the recent Beer Summit, the White House published this photo of the three men leaving the Rose Garden. Pretty unremarkable at first glance. But then you notice something...

Self-described victim of racial profiling Henry Gates, who walks with a cane, is being helped down the steps by the supposedly racist officer who arrested him. President Obama, in the meantime, strides ahead, appearing unconcerned now that most of the political advantage to be gained from Mr. Gates' arrest has been harvested.

On to health care! And when all the political advantage has been wrung out of that "emergency", it'll be on to something else. But you'll have to depend on someone else to show you some actual kindness.

Quite a "teachable moment", indeed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt, the novelist, just recently passed away. I understand he was a very warm and charming individual in person, and people tell me they've really enjoyed his books. But I have to say that I wish he hadn't dropped so many snarky comments about the Church in the course of his celebrity. Our enemies will be quoting him for years.

Why can't people who leave the Church just let it alone?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Conscience clause, c. 1535

Re-reading R. W. Chambers' classic biography of Thomas More, I was struck by this quotation from Judge Rastell's contemporary notes on Parliamentary debate over the infamous Act of Succession, which required all subjects of Henry VIII to swear an oath acknowledging him as Supreme Head of the Church in England:

Note diligently here that the bill was earnestly withstood, and could not be suffered to pass, unless the rigour of it were qualified with this word maliciously; and so not every speaking against the Supremacy to be treason, but only maliciously speaking. And so for more plain declaration thereof, the word maliciously was twice put into the Act.

And yet afterwards, in putting the Act in execution against Bishop Fisher, Sir Thomas More, the Carthusians, and others, the word maliciously, plainly expressed in the Act, was adjudged by the King's Commissioners, before whom they were arraigned, to be void. [emphasis added]

If anyone is inclined to accept the current assurances emanating from Washington that this or that new legislation compelling doctors and pharmacists to collaborate in providing abortions will be equipped with a "robust conscience clause" excusing those who decline on moral (for our purposes, Catholic) grounds -- well, just be aware that that particular joke is almost five hundred years old. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Let a hero's work be noted!

In a post about the assault-with-a-deadly-weapon attack on a pro-life demonstrator in Chico, California, the estimable Suzy B blog said this:

Considering that Mr. Cantfield [the demonstrator] was simply showing pictures of what abortionist George Tiller did day after day, how can anyone be angered? Tiller was portrayed as a hero for women; why not show his “heroic” actions?

Why not, indeed?

Here we go again...

While reading the entry on "English Confessors and Martyrs (1534-1729)" at the online Catholic Encyclopedia, I came across this:

The tyranny they had to withstand was, as a rule, not the sudden violence of a tyrant, but the continuous oppression of laws sanctioned by the people in Parliament, passed on the specious plea of political and national necessity, and operating for centuries with an almost irresistible force which the law acquires when acting for generations in conservative and law-abiding counties.

It seems to me that this is the type of oppression against Catholics that we can expect sometime in the next decade or two in our own country. The persecution won't come with the "sudden violence of a tyrant" -- there'll be no big roundups or concentration camps (needlessly bad PR, after all) -- but with the same kind of "continuous oppression" of laws piled upon laws that slowly strangled the Catholic faith in England.

And not only there. How did the Catholic populations of the Near East and North Africa dwindle away after the Islamic conquest of the 600's and 700's A.D.? Yes, sometimes by slaughter and direct coercion, especially at first. But Islamic rulers quickly found a far more cost-effective method: impose second-class citizenship, special legal burdens and a tax on being something other than Muslim; then just let that work on human nature over time. In every generation, after all, there are bound to be lukewarm Christians. Some of them will give up and "move on", taking up the favored religion for the creature comforts it brings.

And we Americans are, despite the fashionable defiance of authority we often put on when it's safe, are basically a "conservative and law-abiding" society. As laws change, we grumble, but we usually end up complying.

So look out for the gradual pressure that will be brought to bear on our Catholic teachings during this and later administrations. Not, to be sure, on Catholic positions that can be made to bend to leftist aims, such as government aid for the poor (which, strangely, never manages to reduce the number of the poor) and "immigration reform". But on the real "life" issues -- abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and others -- there will be decreasing toleration of Church teachings. And on other teachings as well -- gay marriage, for instance, where we can soon expect a soft censorship on preaching and catechesis based on severe, yet vague and malleable, "hate speech" laws.

Add to this legal pressure from outside the pressure of the Kmiecs, McBriens, Chittisters et al., who from inside the Church will be only too happy to side with the government against authentic Catholic teaching. They held the Church's Magisterium in slight regard already; but since January 20, 2009, they have also gained a powerful external White House ally with filibuster-proof majorities in Congress. They will help bring on the oppression of faithful Catholics, and provide pseudo-Catholic cover on CNN for the secularists whenever there are complaints. And it will all be done under "the specious plea of political and national necessity".

So, faithful Catholics, I'd say: brush up your bio for the Catholic Encyclopedia's future entry on "American Confessors and Martyrs (2009-present)". If our entry names half the number of names that the English one does, we'll have done well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wisdom from a box top

Someone just told me about the epiphany he experienced in his Christian life when, looking idly down at the top of a Cheerios box while getting breakfast, his attention was suddenly seized by these simple words:

Must be present to win.

It seems to me that that is the simple thing that God asks of us: be present to Me. Pray, and when you do, trust Me enough not to dwell on the past or worry about what might happen tomorrow. Just be here with Me now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's baaaaack...

This banner first went up above the main entrance to St. Thomas Aquinas back in the middle of last year. There was a bit of argument about it when it was proposed by our three-church parish's Human Concerns Committee; I was among those who objected that putting up a banner about torture exclusively would send a message that this was the main moral issue for the Catholic Church right now (and send an unmistakable political message in an election year in which waterboarding was already a live campaign issue for one party). After the one month of visibility that this banner was said to be limited to, I suggested that we should follow up with a series of similar banners on other and more important moral issues: "abortion is wrong", "embryonic stem cell research is wrong", "euthanasia is wrong", and so forth.

One response I received from someone associated with the HCC (I won't name the person because the email was private communication) was "... if the issue were to be "euthanasia", "embryonic cell research" or even "death penalty", it would be so controversial that the parish may never come to a consensus to declare one way or another."

This spoke volumes to me about the degree to which 60's-style dissidence has soaked into Catholic life here in Palo Alto. Catechesis and apologetics have apparently been so poor for so long that simply stating the Church's longstanding, unequivocal positions about euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research would be hopelessly controversial. The Church regards both these acts as intrinsically evil, and thus never permissible. (The morality of the death penalty remains a prudential judgment about which Catholics may disagree and still remain faithful sons and daughters of the Church; the other two are not prudential judgments, but settled doctrine which command our obedience).

The banner first went up, as I said, back in the middle of last year -- June, I think, so it had to be taken down each time there was a wedding at STA, brides being understandably sensitive about having the torture issue shoved in their faces on their special day. At month's end the banner went away, and I pretty much let the incident slide into the past.

And then, walking down Waverley Street toward the church on Corpus Christi last Sunday, I looked up and there it was again -- this time hung crookedly across one of windows as you see above, secured to two big screw eyes driven into the 108-year-old redwood siding.

I'll keep you posted on developments.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Unfathomable on so many levels

From CWN:

Commenting on the early years of the clerical abuse scandal, retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee writes in his forthcoming memoir, “We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature.” The archbishop says he instead “accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not remember or they would ‘grow out of it.’”

Had no understanding of its criminal nature? Out of any 1,000 American men at the time, how many would not know that child sexual abuse was a crime? And "the common view"?? On what planet was that view "common"?

I don't like a lot of what SNAP does, but the following comment is right on target:

Peter Isely, Midwest director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, commented, “It's beyond belief. He's either lying or he's so self-deceived that he's inventing fanciful stories.”

My question is: how did such a licentious, deluded priest ever make it into the episcopate?

It's perhaps no surprise that another story on this perverted man discloses this not-exactly-bombshell:

In an interview with The New York Times, retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland admitted relationships with several men while he served as Archbishop of Milwaukee and questioned Catholic teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sick of "Social Justice"

I've officially had my fill of the slobbering love affair so many Catholics have carried on with "social justice" over the past decades. Especially since this has usually been expressed in a cozying up to socialism as its best implementation.

Outside St. Thomas last Sunday there was a table where we were invited to write letters urging the Federal government to be sure to continue spending large amounts of money to "help the poor".

Now, if more of the money we're already spending was going for programs that actually succeeded in teaching people how to get out of poverty, that would be worth saving. But I can remember when today's enormous social programs got their start in Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty". What great social changes we were promised back then! All those hundreds of billions spent, only to have poverty grow greater in scope, amid a deepening degradation in the culture in which the poor occupy the lowest and most vulnerable layer.

I may have missed something in catechism class, but why is it in the interest of the Catholic church for alms given voluntarily as an expression of personal charity to be replaced with welfare checks funded by state coercion (via taxation)? Especially when that means more and more power being concentrated in the hands of a central government?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Full and active participation, 1954-style

Every now and then I pick up the shirt-pocket-size My Sunday Missal by Fr. Stedman, ca. 1954, that I grew up with, and re-read some part at random. Here's something that might interest anyone who thinks the pre-Vatican II church expected the faithful just to sit dumbly in their pews. Of even more interest is the way that that contemporary shibboleth, "full and active participation", was thought of back then.

How to "participate actively"

You "will be filled with this [true Christian] spirit only in proportion" as you "actively participate" in the Mass, says Pope Pius X. How do you actively participate? As a lay person you actively participate: first, by offering the Divine Victim to the Eternal Father in union with the priest, your official representative; second, by offering yourself to the Eternal Father in union with the Divine Victim. To be a co-offerer with the priest, you must have a sacrificial will, so as to make this twofold oblation of Christ and yourself. ... the Mass is not the private prayer of the priest at the altar, but the collective prayer of all present both in the pews as well as at the altar.

No tambourine, no bass guitar, no hand-holding, no clapping, no liturgical dance. Just quiet, total interior union with the sacrifice of the Mass.

Good thing we dumped all that claptrap in the sixties, huh?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Anger management

Back in February, I alluded to a conversation I had with a St. Ann Choir member after a Mass at St. Thomas, and promised to blog about it. Time to make good on that.

The conversation came after most of the choir had figured out that I was The Dover Beachcomber who had been blogging so enthusiastically about the choir's work at STA. The comment that struck me was something like "I was surprised it was you, because I didn't know there was so much anger in you." Or something close to that. They weren't criticizing, just noting. Anyway, the key thing was that the anger that underlay some of my posts had made an impression.

Going back over my blogging history, I had to admit that this person was right. I certainly have sounded angry at times, occasionally very angry. And that got me to thinking about why that was so.

My wife supplied a suggestion that I think is right on the money. She said that she had read that anger isn't a primary emotion, i.e., it's not what happens first. Before anger, there is usually a sense of hurt, and anger is a response to the hurt.

Thinking about that, I realized that my sense of personal hurt over what has happened to the Catholic Church in my lifetime is indeed enormous. At the very moment its old solidity and confidence might have saved the whole world -- and me -- much grief and sin, those things vanished into a welter of self-doubt, blandness, and timidity. And that change didn't just happen; it was pushed, and continues to be pushed even today, by Catholics who chose their own judgment, and the judgment of secular society, over the teaching authority of the Church, and over what Chesterton calls "the democracy of the dead" (i.e., the accumulated wisdom of the men and women who came before us).

That, I realize, is where the hurt comes from. I could do a better job of resisting the reaction of anger, I suppose. But on the other hand, perhaps sometimes it has its uses.

One more thing...

If some are wondering why I chose to include the "Catholic Left" specifically in the title of that post below containing the Andrew Klavan video, it's because I've heard "Oh, that's not in keeping with the spirit of Vatican II" one time too many. One time too many to ignore the unspoken tag line: "And so, shut up."

Andrew Klavan explains the [Catholic] Left

H/T Little Miss Attila via American Digest

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Something good out of Canada

Canadian comic Steven Crowder braves the wrath of The Religion of Peace:

If God will just keep on using people like Crowder to make Islam look as ridiculous as it really is, everything should be just fine someday.

h/t Five Feet of Fury

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Try to be charming

Last Friday we attended a performance of Bach harpsichord toccatas by the young Iranian phenom Mahan Isfahani. In a break between pieces, he told us that Gustav Leonhardt had once said to him after a performance which hadn't gone just right, "When there are a lot of wrong notes, try to be charming."

This Sunday at St. Thomas

I'm afraid I can't give you the usual list of Renaissance motets the choir sang today, because I forgot to consult the motet booklet for titles before I left church. I'm pretty sure one of them was Pierre de la Rue's gorgeous little setting of Aquinas' O salutaris hostia, which I've praised in previous posts.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A brave kid speaks up

Twelve-year-old Lia sums it all up in five minutes.

After 403 comments, many of them quite vile, her parents closed the combox on this video with this note:

We apologize for turning off the commenting functionality. This was not to stop genuine discussion or debate on the issue but was, rather, a response to the cowardly who used it as an opportunity to throw insults and threats at a young girl that they hated without reason. Thank-you to everyone who, whether in agreement or not, has responded in a respectful manner.

Beautifully put.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This Sunday at St. Thomas

Sung by the St. Ann Choir yesterday at the noon Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas church in Palo Alto, CA:

Josquin des Prez, De Profundis
William Byrd, Siderum Rector

At least those were the pieces corresponding to the numbers on the old hymn board; sometimes, I think, there are last-minute changes, so this might not be correct. You can read the Latin and English texts by going here, then clicking on the "Motet texts and translations" link in the sidebar.

Terrific homily by Fr. Nahoe, too.

But actually the most interesting thing was a conversation I had with a couple of choir members afterwards. More about that next time, when I'm not in a hurry.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A little remodeling advice from NLM

Over at the New Liturgical Movement, Jeffrey Tucker has a great essay about the only real antidote to the horrible acoustic effects of a certain kind of floor covering that plagues many Catholic sanctuaries. Appropriately, it's called Rip Up Those Carpets!

'Tis a puzzlement

This post is going to be about Latin in the Mass. I promise.

Each year, my wife and I attend a few events in the Lively Arts concert series at nearby Stanford University. It's quite an eclectic mix, and once we've chosen the presentations we're pretty sure we'll like, we always pick one or two that could be kind of a stretch. And so we found ourselves last week at a concert by the Malian rock / folk singer Rokia Traoré.

It was a bit loud (OK, way too loud) for me, and way too repetitive, but for me that's true of most rock. What struck me is this: Ms. Traoré sang entirely in French and Bambara and other languages that, it's safe to say, the great majority of the nearly sold-out crowd did not understand. There were no lyrics printed in the lavish program, and although it said she would announce the program from the stage, she usually didn't. It's safe to say that the meaning of what she was singing was basically lost on almost everyone in the audience, except for the people who had memorized the songs on her CDs.

She was rewarded with a standing ovation.

So here's what bugs me. Fellow Catholics of a certain age (mine) often complain to me that they want nothing to do with Latin in the Mass or sacraments, because they can't understand what's being said. This, despite the constant presence of side-by-side English translations in the missalettes that are provided. It's the same complaint as forty years ago, when it was oh-so-important that we dump Latin. When for a few bucks you could buy a missal that would tell you, word for word, what every darned Latin prayer meant througout the entire year's Sunday liturgies.

So how come a rock singer from Mali, performing a program that couldn't be understood except by those ardent fans who had memorized her songs' lyrics, gets complete acceptance -- when millions of Catholics tell their Church they just can't abide going to Mass unless everything is translated for them? That it's just too hard to understand things if they're in some foreign language?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Feet of clay

The news has apparently been confirmed that the founder of the Legionairies of Christ, Fr. Marcial Maciel, led a double life -- he had a mistress, fathered a child, and may even have molested seminarians. I watched an interview on EWTN this morning on Raymond Arroyo's program with two young LC priests who were obviously taking the news very hard.

They correctly said that the only leader that any order should concentrate on is Christ. But they also said that Fr. Maciel's picture was being removed from many LC locations where it had been placed, and that the entire body of his writings was now under scrutiny.

I suppose that's a normal and healthy reaction: revulsion and suspicion. But it would be a shame if the final result was the wholesale tossing out of Fr. Maciel's work and writings.

Honestly, do we do this with other moral teachers? When it came out that Martin Luther King had an adulterous affair, did we take down all his pictures? Did we throw his "I have a dream" speech out of our schools? Did we stop publishing "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"?

No. We recognized that every human being, even the apparently most inspiring, have feet of clay, and we continue to value their good works even as we shake our heads at their bad works. And that's the same way Fr. Maciel, and his life's work, should be judged.

The Christian way.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Not one Catholic priest or bishop was invited to give any prayer or invocation at Mr. Obama's inauguration.

Hey, you 53% of American Catholics who voted for him: how do you like your reward?

And so it goes

Catholic Culture's news summary notes a New York Times story that more than 2,000 Catholic schools have closed since 1990.

Well, since so many Catholic schools ceased being distinctively Catholic years ago, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Why go to a Catholic school when it has reallybecome just a public school named after a saint? When the salt has lost its savor, it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot.

The mainstream Catholic misinterpretations of Vatican II continue to wash the Church in America into bland irrelevance. Why should the secularists bother persecuting it? It's slowly killing itself anyway.

The violent bear it away

So Joe Biden, newly-minted VP, self-described faithful Catholic, and staunch defender of a woman's right to murder her child (as long as he/she hasn't been born yet) in open defiance of clear Catholic teaching, gets a nice standing ovation and Holy Communion, to boot, at Washington's Holy Trinity Church shortly before the inauguration. Bishop Wuerl: silent as the non-existent graves of the 2,500 American children who were aborted today.

The AP story also mentioned that it was also at Holy Trinity that John Kennedy heard Mass just before his inauguration in 1961. Very appropriate, though not for the sentimental reason the writer probably meant. Appropriate because Kennedy pioneered the abandonment of Catholic moral teaching to achieve high public office.

Friday, January 09, 2009

"Read nothing before Vatican II"

From the online Our Sunday Visitor recently:

Q. My husband is in the process of making his confirmation, and I am accompanying him to his classes each Sunday. We are disturbed about some of the teachings taking place. For instance, today we were told that confession does not need to be done frequently and we do not need to confess in order to receive Communion.

We were also told that we should not be reading anything before Vatican II because it is no longer the teaching of the Church. Can you please clarify what the correct teaching of the Church is?

OSV's answer was forthright and correct: esentially that what they were being told was a crock. Read the whole answer here. If the link doesn't work, look on the OSV site for the "Question of the Day" feature for January 7.

What lies are peddled in some RCIA classes now!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Richard John Neuhaus, R.I.P.

Father Richard John Neuhaus has died. I had no idea he was even ill.

In a season full of blows to the prospects of the cultural and religious renewal I've hoped for, now this comes.

First Things magazine was a big part of what got me headed back to the Catholic Church in the 1990's. Joe Bottum will do a good job as editor, but he won't be Fr. Neuhaus. No one will be.

He was quite a champion. I met him once, at the 1998 C. S. Lewis Foundation's conference in Cambridge, England. Just asked him a question after his talk, about how to nudge the big Protestant church I was then attending toward a pro-life position. He was every bit as gracious and witty in person, extempore to a perfect stranger, as he was in print to the public at large.

Go with God, Fr. Neuhaus. Everything is ready now.