Wednesday, December 29, 2010

War and Remembrance: one thing right

A few posts ago, I complained bitterly about the casual anti-Catholic attitude which Herman Wouk seemed to support through some of his characters in his novel War and Remembrance. However, these words he gives to one of his protagonists, Aaron Jastrow, are right on the money:

The lesson was writ plain by Thucydides centuries before Christ was born. Democracy satisfies best the human thirst for freedom; yet, being undisciplined, turbulent, and luxury-seeking, it falls time and again to austere single-minded despotism.

In the World War II setting of War and Remembrance, obviously the "single minded despotism" was Nazism, and secondarily Soviet Communism and Japanese militarism.

Now, it's radical Islam. We were very very lucky to escape those other single-minded despotisms. We're sixty years further down the decline of our culture; I wonder if we'll be lucky -- or blessed -- again.

Monday, December 06, 2010

A witty riposte to Apple from the Manhattan Declaration



UPDATE:

When I later viewed this video at YouTube, I was appalled at the nasty comments from the LGBTQ etc. side -- and the number of them -- and so I did what I swore I'd never do: I posted a YouTube comment myself. Don't know if it will be "accepted" by the powers that be, so here it is:

The LGBTQ etc. "community" wants only one thing: to suppress ANY form of objection, no matter how measured, to their lifestyle choices. Their agitation against the MD app demonstrates that very well. And since when is it "hateful" to call someone else's behavior immoral? Gandhi did it; MLK did it; the antiwar movement did it; and so did the gay movement. Did these all therefore "hate" their opponents? Should their "hateful" opinions have been silenced, too?

Gay activists know that if they can effectively intimidate and control the iPhone App Store, they can censor what iPhone users can see -- and that population is a pretty large and influential one.

We ignore this fight at our peril.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Right on target

Michael Voris continues to impress as someone who can speak truthfully and clearly about the Church, at a time when so many are still mumbling platitudes...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sauce for the goose...

Loved this little video about the woman whom I hope it will soon be proper to refer to as "former Senator but still the abortion industry's BFF, Barbara Boxer".


Call Me Senator from RightChange on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thanks, Dagger John!

Nearly four years ago, I wrote about "Dagger John" Hughes, the first Irish-born Archbishop of New York, a man who never allowed a public slight against the Church to go publicly unchallenged. I ended with this:

So, Dagger John, pray for us, and ask Our Lord to send us another one like you. Really, really soon.

Looks like that may be exactly what happened.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't know much about mo-ral-i-ty...

While looking for the results and questions on the Pew report on religious knowledge among Americans (the one that's been the news so much recently), I came across another of their reports, The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey from 2007.

In it, Question 10b asks, "When it comes to questions of right and wrong, which of the following do you look to most for guidance?"

For Catholics, the results were:

Practical experience and common sense: 57%
Religious teachings and beliefs: 22%
Scientific information: 10%
Philosophy and reason: 7%
Don't know / refused: 5%

So, let's see. The disintegration of the power of our Church to save souls by influencing morality has progressed to the point where less than one-quarter of self-identified "Catholics" turn to the teachings of the Church when confronted with a moral problem.

The average for believers of all faiths was 29%.

And, of course, the salvation of souls is the main reason the Church exists, right? What? Oh, yeah, I forgot. The "spirit of Vatican II" changed all that old-fashioned stuff. We're here to promote "social justice." Drop enough boxers in the "Undie Sunday" box and you're gonna be just fine with God.

Now I feel so much better.

UPDATE:

I forgot to mention that the same survey reports 48% of Catholics responded that abortion should be "legal in all cases" or "legal in most cases."

Yes, I know, it's Pew, and they have an agenda. Still, that ANY Catholics believe that the annual destruction of a million American children in the womb should be completely legal gives testimony to the failure of the Church in our country to give effective witness to its people about the chief moral issue of our time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Check

I've been researching the teaching of history and civics to potential new citizens, and came upon this from the website of Hopelink Adult Education:
Practice dictation with your students. They will be required to write one or more dictated sentences. The writing does not have to be perfect but must demonstrate that the applicant has a comprehensible amount of writing skills.
A "comprehensible amount of writing skills?" Sheesh. Better test the copywriting staff at Hopelink first. The immigrants are probably already writing better than this -- after all, they've actually studied English.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Here we go again -- maybe

I've been reading A Popular History of the Catholic Church, by Philip Hughes. It's from 1949, when Catholics were still proud (and popularly, if sometimes grudgingly, expected to be proud) of their Church. This passage, about Julian the Apostate's brief attempt to restore paganism to the Roman Empire in the 300's, stood out:
Christians he persecuted, and this not by any frontal attack, but sinuously, by cutting them off from all the culture of the time, forbidding them to teach or be taught, by harassing them with vexatious regulations, and by conniving at the inevitable recrudescence of ancient Pagan hatreds.
Parts of Julian's program are just what is being carried out right now in our own culture, are they not?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How gay marriage hurts heterosexual marriage


The Purple Heart is a military decoration of venerable age in our still-young republic. It signifies that the wearer has been wounded in the service of his country.
Imagine, if you will, that you are a soldier who has received this decoration, and you are proud to wear it.
One day, a judge decides that it's unfairly discriminatory to award this medal only to those who were actually wounded, and decrees that it must henceforth be distributed to every person who has ever served in a branch of the armed forces, even to those who were discharged dishonorably.
Might you not feel that the distinction awarded to you for your sacrifice was now devalued?
Now imagine that the people react to this judicial decision by formally reconfirming the Purple Heart in its traditional purpose, not once but twice. On both occasions, judges declare this expression of the will of the people unconstitutional.
The next time somebody asks you "How could gay marriage possibly harm heterosexual marriage?" it might help to ask them if they've heard of the Purple Heart.

Casual anti-Pius-XII sneers in everyday life

I'm starting to keep track when I encounter little fragments of casual disdain for the supposed silence of Pope Pius XII during World War II. This pair of quotations are from Herman Wouk's novel War and Remembrance:
The archbishop didn't know all the Pope knew. The Pope had his reasons to remain silent, mainly the protection of Church property and influence in German-held lands; also, the old Christian dogma that the Jews must suffer down through history, to prove that they had guessed wrong on Christ, and must one day acknowledge him. ...
"Europe is a Christian continent, isn't it? Well, what's going on? Where's the Pope? Mind you, there's one Catholic priest right here in Marseilles who's a saint, a one-man underground. ..."
Wouk gives both of these lines to sophisticated characters, insiders in Italy and Vichy France, whom we are meant to regard as experts. No rebuttal is offered at the time these statements are made, nor is a more sympathetic view of Pope Pius conveyed anywhere else in this widely-read novel.
Of course, Wouk was writing in the mid-1970's, when Rolf Hochhuth's play The Deputy was recent and still riding high as the intellectual's default "understanding" of the subject of Pius' wartime conduct.
And yes, it's "only" a work of fiction. But does that really mean that in creating an imaginary narrative, an author has no responsibility to find out the truth, and tell it? Or at least to avoid character assassination?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Progressivism and the Catholic Church

Well, that's a subject line that would merit book-length treatment. But today, for now, just this:

Why is it that several generations of American Catholic clergy and laity have concluded that the big-government solutions of the Progressive Movement are just dandy expressions of Catholic moral teaching?

Looking back through history, it seems to me that the Church generally has had endless trouble when governments were huge and powerful. First there were the persecutions led by pagan Roman emperors. Then, when the emperors turned Christian, there were the repeated interferences in favor of heresy (e.g., Arianism and the Iconoclastic movement), followed by heavy-handed persecution of heresy (e.g., of Monophysitism in the Eastern Empire, a bone-headed move that helped soften up Christian unity for the first waves of Muslim conquest).

In the West, as the power of regional governments grew, starting in the 9th century, we had the Holy Roman Emperors demanding to appoint their own bishops, and generally interfering with the Church governance. As the national governments of France and England grew in power and stability, they too sought to control the selection of the Church's leadership -- finally including the Papacy itself. The Tudor dynasty in England ended the turmoil of the Wars of the Roses and re-established the kingdom, only to have Henry VIII squander his father's legacy, plunder the Church's property to refill his coffers, then tear his country's Church away from Rome in his mania for siring a male heir.

When the "divine right of kings" gave way to the democratic revolutions of the 1700's and 1800's, the Church suffered again -- once again at the hands of all-powerful states which had undergone a change of masters but not a change in their lust to control every important feature of private life.

And then in the 20th century there came those twins of totalitarianism, Communism and Fascism, and their rich uncle Progressivism. These three huge-government movements have all sought to tame the Church to their purposes, and to persecute it when it dared to be uncooperative.

And now we're into the second year of the Presidency of Barack Obama, and of the overwhelming legislative ascendancy of the radical wing of the Democratic Party. Their hostility to core moral teachings of the Church, soft-pedaled during the campaign, is now clear.
And yet so many Catholics still babble about the importance of promoting "social justice" through bigger and bigger government, through the permanent triumph of the Progressivist cause.

If we Catholics really want to promote "social justice", perhaps we should work on making ourselves extraordinary examples of charity and virtue. When we arrive at our own particular judgments before God, I don't think he's likely to ask us how diligently we voted for socialist programs, so that the poor could be helped through the forcible taking of money from other people. Instead, I think He'll ask: "What did you give, freely and humbly, because your heart was illuminated by My grace?"

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Tridentine Mass gets a boost

I'm really enjoying RealCatholicTV.com these days. This is their latest, about the irrational opposition still being met from bishops and many lay persons to the Tridentine Mass.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Getting our attention

Christianity, not just Catholicism, has been plagued with a sometimes-effeminate expression of the Gospel -- one that emphasizes forgiveness and complacency, and de-emphasizes anything that smacks of the difficult or demanding.

Men, however, are stirred by sterner demands. I wish that at the end of every good, orthodox homily, we could hear these words, from the conclusion of Jack Aubrey's commission from the Admiralty which he reads to the crew of HMS Surprise at the beginning of Master and Commander:

Hereof nor you nor any of you may fail as you will answer the contrary at your peril.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The child speaks -- and eloquently

Though I've been reading pro-life books, periodicals, and blogs for quite some time, I had never yet encountered this poem by G. K. Chesterton, until I was browsing through a little anthology of his writings on the family that I picked up almost by accident at a used book sale. Which is surprising, since it's a moving and aesthetically appealing rebuttal to the pro-choice arguments that "I don't want to bring a child into this terrible world" and "Think of the abusive / impoverished / etc. conditions this child will be brought up in. He's better off dead."

And it's all the more effective because you only gradually understand, as you read, that the speaker is a child in the womb.

By the Babe Unborn
G. K. Chesterton

If trees were tall and grasses short,
As in some crazy tale,
If here and there a sea were blue
Beyond the breaking pale,

If a fixed fire hung in the air
To warm me one day through,
If deep green hair grew on great hills,
I know what I should do.

In dark I lie: dreaming that there
Are great eyes cold or kind,
And twisted streets and silent doors,
And living men behind.

Let storm-clouds come: better an hour,
And leave to weep and fight,
Than all the ages I have ruled
The empires of the night.

I think that if they gave me leave
Within the world to stand,
I would be good through all the day
I spent in fairyland.

They should not hear a word from me
Of selfishness or scorn,
If only I could find the door,
If only I were born.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Let them have their cards back!"

One never knows, really, how accurate stories like this one are, but the retort from the Bishop's father is priceless:

In a diocesan magazine column, Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine recounts that a social worker threatened to take away the family’s benefit cards during the Great Depression if his mother-- an Italian immigrant with a third-grade education-- did not abort her fourth child. The future bishop’s father responded, “Let them have their cards back! The Lord will provide.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Learning how to argue for the unborn



This video is from the Life Training Institute. I've just become aware of the site via Jill Stanek's blog, but if you're looking for guidance about how to defend unborn children effectively through discussion with pro-choice people, this looks like a great place to spend some time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Today at St. Thomas

Sung by the St. Ann Choir at St. Thomas Aquinas today:

Lassus, Domine, labia mea aperies
Palestrina, Domine, quando veneris

In contrast to all the other my other earlier posts listing the Choir's selections, I'm now reporting from behind the scenes: I joined the Choir this week! It's a challenge, I have to say, since it's been many years since I've sung Renaissance music and I'm not as familiar with its harmonic patterns as I once was; and I can tell that reading Gregorian Chant is going to take plenty of getting used to. But this first outing was mighty nice, nonetheless.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Quare via impiorum prosperatur?

In the L.A. Archdiocese's newspaper The Tidings appears this column by Nancy Pelosi's bishop, George Niederauer, finally pointing out that, contrary to Ms. Pelosi's assertions on national television, Catholics are actually not free to shield their moral defiance of the Church's teachings behind a bogus claim of "freedom of conscience".

Yet her defiance and her complicity in the grave evil of abortion on demand have been going on for years, and we seem to be no closer to the day when her bishop will say: "Nancy, on peril of your immortal soul, change your ways before it's too late."

h/t the redoubtable Karen Hall.

Update: I've removed the link to Karen's wonderful blog Some Have Hats, since it doesn't appear to be available anymore. Makes me sad.

The Tebow ads

Personally, I was disappointed with the Tim Tebow ads aired during the SuperBowl yesterday. Since their intended anti-abortion message had already become so public, I was dismayed that all we heard from Pam Tebow during the ads themselves was a curious circumlocution about how she "almost lost" her son. Not a whisper of the "A word", or of the dramatic story of the choice for life that she made for her son.

Yes, if you went to Focus on the Family's website and listened to the entire 7-minute video interview with the Tebows, right at the end came some very clear, strong statements, and the direct plea "please don't kill your baby".

But how many of those who watched the ads dug that far to hear that message?

And it was such a simple, straightforward story: they told me to abort my baby because I took some drugs that might have caused severe birth defects. I didn't. Instead of a burden, I -- and the nation -- got an exceptional quarterback and a fine person. That story, told simply and shortly, had the power to change anyone's heart, regardless of their faith or lack of it.

A great opportunity was missed.

And now that an "opinion" ad has been allowed to air during the SuperBowl, look for the pro-abortion lobby to submit their own ads in abundance next year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gloria.tv -- Dialogues of the Carmelites



I had often heard of this opera by the 20th-century French composer Fran├žois Poulenc, but had never seen a performance. This video, from the Catholic-oriented video site Gloria.tv, gives you the final eight minutes of a splendid production. Absolutely gripping. Overwhelming, really.

The person who posted this clip has given an excellent summary of the historical facts on which the opera is based in the comments section beneath the video (where you'll also find a comment of mine, praising it).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Today at St. Thomas

Sung by the St. Ann Choir at today's 'Gregorian' Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas:

Heinrich Isaac, Amen dico vobis
Orlandus Lassus, Eripe me
Isaac, Misereris omnium

Texts can be found here.