Restoring the Sacred

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lunch Atop A Skyscraper: The Story Behind The 1932 Photo | 100 Photos | ...

FR. Rutler's Weekly Column, February 25, 2018

Father Rutler's Weekly Column
February 25, 2018

Few lands are more cheerful than beautiful Switzerland. There are the mountains, the blonde girls yodeling, the lads sounding Alpine horns across the canyons, St. Bernard dogs with brandy, and all that chocolate and material prosperity. The cynic would dismiss that as a caricature. Think of Orson Welles in the 1949 film The Third Man: “. . . in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

   The cuckoo clock was actually invented in the Black Forest of Germany. And while thoughts of Switzerland evoke peace, its last strife being a brief civil war in 1847, it is highly militarized and was famous for its mercenaries (which is how the Holy See got the Swiss Guards), and it has mandatory conscription for all able-bodied males. With the lowest crime rate in the world, it ranks only below the United States and Yemen in per capita gun ownership. Switzerland is the second largest exporter per capita of assault weapons, ammunition and tanks to such countries as Saudi Arabia. No country has an unblemished history, and in 2013 the government formally apologized for the forced labor of half a million children in the past two centuries. Officially neutral in World War II, it profited greatly as a banker for Nazi gold.

   While proud of its reputation for enlightened social policies, abortion is legal there and the first-trimester limit can be extended for “medical and psychological reasons.” In our time of mania for tearing down politically incorrect statues, there remains in the heart of Bern the 1546 Kindlifresser statue of an ogre devouring babies.

   If the monstrous man were eating lobsters, the statue might be torn down because the Swiss government has passed a law effective March 1 that bans the boiling alive of lobsters, since it is claimed that lobsters can feel pain. Lobsters may only be cooked after first having been electrocuted or sedated. This will not have much impact, since Switzerland is land-locked, with negligible crustacean consumption; but imported lobsters must be shipped in seawater and not packed in ice. This runs parallel to California’s legislation banning foie gras, which requires the forced feeding of geese. But partial-birth abortion remains legal, even though human life in utero can feel pain after at least the first eight weeks of gestation.

      We can eat lobsters even in Lent, by a revelation given to St. Peter (Acts 10:13-15). But the same God knew (Jeremiah 1:4-5) that unborn babies are sensate. That notwithstanding, there are places where lobsters and geese are safer than human babies. Inconsistent? As Sir Walter Scott wrote: “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!”

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sunday, February 18, 2018


Fr. Nix Sermon, February 18,2018: Humility versus Magnanimity

Most of this short sermon is taken from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica II.II 129 on Magnanimity.  The ending account is from the Fioretti on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, the basilica found in the picture above.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column: February 18, 2018

Father Rutler's Weekly Column
February 18, 2018

An engineer in Alexandria named Ctesibius is said to have invented the pipe organ around 265 B.C., originally an “hydraulis” using water to raise air pressure. Although there was a “water organ” in the narthex of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople for heralding the Emperor, one theory holds that organs are not commonly used in the Byzantine rite because they are reminders of the horrors endured by the holy martyrs as pagan entertainment. There were many places in the various circuses and amphitheaters throughout the Empire where these spectacles took place. Possibly the first to be sentenced to the damnatio ad bestias, or being fed to wild beasts, in the Flavian amphitheater of the Colosseum of Rome, was Ignatius, bishop of Antioch.

   On February 24, that Colosseum will be floodlit red, along with churches in Syria and Iraq, to publicize the persecution of Christians in our own day. The sponsoring organization, Aid to the Church in Need, reports that in a dozen countries, conspicuously in Egypt and Turkey, anti-Christian persecution has reached a new peak. The situation has worsened in Nepal since new “blasphemy” laws were introduced. While crowds applaud the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang to the sound of music, around 70,000 Christians are languishing in North Korean labor camps. There is a faint echo here of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, but at least they had Jesse Owens.

   Floodlighting may be one vivid way to awaken the attention of people in more comfortable lands to what is happening. Much of our media, as they either willfully or uncomprehendingly ignore the persecution, are like the idols that “have mouths but cannot speak; eyes, but cannot see; ears, but cannot hear” (Psalm 115:5-6). Looking the other way can become a habit. For instance, much of the world ignored the deportations by the Nazis in 1942 from Lyons, France, when those marked for death were herded into the same Colosseum where the saints Blandina, Ponthinius, Epidodius and Alexander were brutalized in the second century.

   The modest abstinences and disciplines of Lent should awaken the senses to perceive things of God more clearly. They can also alert somnolent consciences to harsh realities in other parts of the Church. In Holy Week the Church will remember how Christ awakened the three apostles as they slept through his agony. Pascal said, “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.” It was the triumphant risen Lord who asked Paul, “Why are you persecuting me?”—for heaven does not ignore earth: “… to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). The Resurrection acclamation, “Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat! – Christ conquers! Christ reigns! Christ commands!” was inscribed on the obelisk that is now in St. Peter’s Square, but that once stood in the Circus of Nero and cast its shadow on the suffering martyrs.


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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Fr. Rutler: The Clarity of Cardinal Cupich

To be "clear," that's Cardinal Cupich in red, and not Fr. George Rutler.

Here is what Fr. Rutler had to say about the "clarity" of Cardinal Cupich (emphasis added) at Crisis Magazine today.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago is all for clarity. It has been a consistent theme, as when in September of 2017 he issued a decree banning guns in all parishes, schools and other facilities across the archdiocese “so there would be absolute clarity on our position.” His official statement put “clarity” in italics. When he was bishop of Rapid City, he called for “civility and clarity” in discussing legislation that would limit abortion, but he was somewhat unclear in explaining that the law “must recognize both the suffering of the unborn children in abortion and the suffering of the pregnant women in dire circumstances.” The bill was defeated 55 percent to 45 percent. As bishop of Spokane, he spoke clearly in prohibiting the use of the traditional Latin liturgical books in the Paschal Triduum. He made very clear his disapproval of seminarians and priests demonstrating against Planned Parenthood: “Decisions about abortion are not usually made in front of clinics.” In 2012, his pastoral letter on a state referendum to legalize same-sex “marriage” said: “I also want to be very clear that in stating our position the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility towards homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity.” 
Clarity requires effort because it requires honesty, which can be a costly commodity. So George Orwell said: “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” Clear expression issues from clear thinking, which in turn requires conforming thought to reality. This was a primary concern of the Master in his holy agony, for he prayed to the Father that his Church never fudge the truth: “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). 
The Superior of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, seems wary about the unclear tenor of Christ’s teaching about marriage (Matt. 19: 3-9), because “no one had a recorder to take down his words.” Consequently, what Christ said must be “contextualized,” because human reality “is much more nuanced” and “never black and white.” Jesus did say, without the benefit of recorders other than the Evangelists: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). There is nothing nuanced about that, but Jesus was not a member of the Society of Jesus. 
In an interview the day before he lectured on the exhortation of Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia at the Von Hugel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry in Cambridge England, on February 9, Cardinal Cupich hoped that his words “might bring some clarity for people who have raised questions, and then also to raise a challenge for them to also take a second look at the document.” In the lecture itself the cardinal quoted Amoris Laetitia, n. 38: “Many people feel that the Church’s message on marriage and family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus, who set forth a demanding ideal yet never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals.” A year earlier, on February 14, 2017, Cardinal Cupich said that the pope’s exhortation “expresses with absolute clarity marriage doctrine in full fidelity to traditional Church teaching.” One supposes that Cardinal Cupich’s lecture in Cambridge was intended to explain why the Exhortation’s clarity was unclear to so many around the world, even though they have the benefit of recording machines and all the social media, which Jesus lacked, although his voice could be heard by thousands on hilltops and seashores 
In the Von Hugel lecture, which was recorded and thus cannot be nuanced, Cardinal Cupich said by way of apophasis that “It goes without saying….” and then went on to say that Amoris Laetitia will also mean rejecting “an authoritarian or paternalistic way of dealing with people that lays down the law, that pretends to have all the answers, or easy answers to complex problems, that suggests that general rules will seamlessly bring immediate clarity.” There is clarity again, in all its frustrating opaqueness. And after rejecting authoritarianism and paternalism, the cardinal invoked Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 25 to declare that an innovative interpretation of Amoris Laetitia by the bishops of Buenos Aires, which, by virtue of “the publication in Acta Apostolicae Sedes [sic]” of the papal letter commending it, qualifies as an official Church teaching “which all are obliged to abide by and be in conformity with.” 
It should be, and I think it is, clear as night and day, that Jesus would not have been crucified had he been more nuanced. There are those who have twisted themselves into pretzels trying to make clear by subtlety, with their own frail command of classical letters, that the official Latinity of Amoris Laetitia proves that it is faithful to authentic doctrine, and is not as flawed as its critics claim. This is on a par with Edgar Nye’s opinion that Wagner’s music is better than it sounds. Excuses like that are defeated by Pope Francis himself who told those Argentinian bishops that their eisegesis “explains precisely the meaning of Chapter VIII." 
Cardinal Cupich called Amoris Laetitia a “radical change” and Cardinal Parolin said “It’s a paradigm shift and the text itself insists on this, that’s what is asked of us—this new spirit, this new approach!” The exclamation point conveys His Eminence’s enthusiasm. Cardinal Cupich asks for a more “holistic” application of the Gospel, in fact using the term ten times without a clear definition of what it means. There have indeed been paradigm shifters in Christology, but there have been no Doctors of the Church among them, and none has been salubrious in the annals of grace. To skim the surface, they have included Arius, Nestorius, Priscillian, Montanus, Mohammed, Waldo, Luther, Calvin, Jansen, Joseph Smith and Phineas Quimby who coached Mrs. Eddy. 
Those who have studied the early Modernist period, might assume that the Von Hugel Institute has as its eponym the Baron Friedrich von Hugel, mentor of the Modernists Alfred Loisy and George Tyrrell. Actually, it was named for his brother, Anatole, who was a distinguished naturalist. The baron himself managed to keep his balance, while using the active if neurasthenic minds of younger theologians like guinea pigs, watching them degraded while maintaining his own claims to fidelity. The tedious von Hugel (even his English writings are cadenced as impenetrably German) visited John Henry Newman at least three times, and on each of these occasions he found Newman melancholy, concluding that Newman could not be a saint since saints must be joyful. “I used to wonder how one so good, and one who had made so many sacrifices to God, could be so depressing.” One biographer remarked with astuteness beyond the reach of the humorless baron, that the only evidence we have of Newman being demonstrably depressed was when he was visited by von Hugel. 
This writer writes these words hastily, and knowingly exposes himself to imputations of illogic, irascibility and uncharity. Of only the last I vitally excuse myself, for I mean no irreverence or ill intent as a parish priest commenting on superiors. In the fullness of charity, I suppose that Cardinal Cupich is so occupied with the essential works of mercy incumbent upon a spiritual leader of many, that he may have availed himself of the advice of others inadequate to the task of preparing his attempts at clarification. The one complaint I invoke, albeit a strong one since much of my life’s studies have been nurtured by an intuitive friendship with John Henry Newman, who in an unworthy simile is to me as Philip Neri was to him, is that Cardinal Cupich has cited Newman on conscience to represent the very opposite of what Newman lived and exhausted himself to declare: that conscience must be informed by the Holy Ghost and not left to wander about like a ghost of the subjective human ego, validating uninformed impulses. In his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, Newman distinguished between the operation of conscience and the exercise of private judgment. Such distinctions may be too delicate for hasty doctors of theology, but they are matters for which men were made martyrs. Errors must not be the template for the formation of consciences innocent and malleable. Chesterton warned: “The more doubtful we are about whether we have any truth, the more certain we are (apparently) that we can teach it to children. The smaller our faith in doctrine, the larger is our faith in doctors.” 
In his revision of the Arians book, Newman explained in more detail what he meant by consulting the faithful on doctrine, and it is far different from soliciting the views of confused people who think truths are ideals beyond their reach. As a beacon of clarity, Newman knew that Christ is a Saviour and not an Idealist. The word “consult” is, in its Latin root, to consult with or to take counsel in the sense of submission to a truth, as one consults a barometer or takes one’s pulse. Newman said this himself. Conscience is not a license for invention or epistemological fabrication, and consultation of the faithful is not a survey to warrant a “paradigm shift.” Ronald Knox prefaced his translation of the Bible: “The teaching office of the Holy Spirit does not consist in imparting to the Church the knowledge of hitherto unknown doctrines, in addition to the deposit of faith, but in making our knowledge of doctrines already revealed fuller and more precise.” 
Cardinal Cupich likes the term “cherry picking” as a reproach. On February 1 in Holy Name Cathedral, as he had done in 2004 in Rapid City, he faulted Pro-Lifers for “cherry-picking” instead of accepting the entire “seamless garment” theory. In 2017, he spoke against “cherry picking” in immigration issues. But Amoris Laetitia cherry picks in citing only one part of the Summa Theologica II-II, q. 140, in a way that posits the exact opposite of what Aquinas meant, just as Cupich cherry picks Newman on the “aboriginal vicar of Christ.” Cupich cites Gaudium et Spes,” n. 16 which calls conscience “the most secret core and sanctuary of a man … (where) he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths.” As Newman was one of the greatest masters of English prose, that kind of lame poesie would have appalled him. It also is sourced from a document parts of which Pope Benedict once called downright Pelagian. 
The clarification of doctrine is a risky business. In his novel Loss and Gain, Newman invented a “little, prim, smirking” character, a preacher in Oxford University named the Reverend Dr. Brownside: “As a divine he seemed never to have had any difficulty in any subject; he was so clear or so shallow that he saw to the bottom of all his thoughts: or, since Dr. Johnson tells us that “all shallows are clear,” we may perhaps distinguish him by both epithets.” 
Let us be perfectly clear: Dr. Brownside existed only as a sketch on paper, unlike the Bridegroom of the Church who, even without the corroboration of a recording machine, is believed to have “taught as one having authority and not as the scribes.”

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Fr. Nix's Sermon, Quinquagesima Sunday, 2018: How to Make a Good Confession

This sermon begins with the heart’s disposition for a good confession but moves quickly onto the nuts and bolts of the little known parts of confession, including little-known mortal sins.  In this sermon, I quote Hinduism Today on modern attempts to separate Yoga from its Hindu roots.
(One thing I forgot to mention in this sermon is that although forgotten mortal sins are indeed forgiven in a good confession—where nothing was hidden—they still need to be confessed at the next confession.)
This sermon was was given on Quinquagesima Sunday, 2018.

The Gathering Testimony: Joanna Gaines

This was on My Favorite Catholic Things Blog a few days ago:

SAINT Pope Paul VI? (When Pigs Fly!)

Down in the catacombs, Michael Matt looks as the life and legacy of one of the worst popes in history—the man Pope Francis now intends to canonize in October. Does papal infallibility seriously come into this farce? Please! At this point, claiming the Holy Ghost has anything even to do with such an obvious political stunt—aimed at canonizing the revolution of Vatican II—borders on the blasphemous. Plus, Francis is reportedly set to stab Chinese Catholics in the back in favor of Communist puppet bishops. Everybody okay with that? Has the Vatican lost its mind completely?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column: February 11, 2018

Father Rutler's Weekly Column
February 11, 2018

   There are different theories as to why Schubert did not finish the Unfinished Symphony. If his Symphony in B minor lacks two movements, it has two, and explaining why it began is as challenging as explaining why it did not end. Mozart did not finish his Requiem for the simple reason that he died. That also is why  Thucydides did not finish his history of the Peloponnesian War, Raphael’s incomplete Transfiguration, Giorgione’s “Sleeping Venus” which was left for Titian to complete, and Dostoyevsky’s unrealized chapters for “The Brothers Karamzov.”

   A Roman soldier’s sword  prevented Archimedes from resolving a mathematical problem. Chaucer did not finish his “Canterbury Tales” because he had to go back to work as a clerk in the Port of London, and Spencer did not finish the last six books of “The Faerie Queen” for political reasons. Coleridge could not complete his “Kublai Khan” because someone  awoke him from a laudanum stupor. Perhaps the arrival of Alessandro de Medici caused Michelangelo to quit Florence, without finishing the statue which still puzzles experts who are not sure if it is Apollo or David. We do know that Donatello deliberately used his “non finito” technique to give a kind of emerging vitality to his figures.

   Artists rarely think that they have completed a work. Tolkein, for example, kept re-writing “The Silmarillion.”  At least they have an intuition, a mental sense, of what should be realized with paint or pen. But if life has no goal, there is nothing to complete. Chesterton said that man has always been lost, but modern man has lost his address and cannot return home. Far different was Saint Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)" His faith was trust that life has a goal, and it is realized in the eternal existence offered by the Creator who made us in his image. “In Him you have been made complete. (Col.2:10)”

   The days of Lent are like signposts toward the goal.  Meanwhile, we are “works in progress,” The question is, “Can these bones live? (Ezekiel 37:3)" When Ash Wednesday is coincident with St. Valentine’s Day,  there is a stark contrast between love and sentiment. The martyr Valentine loved so much that he sacrificed his life for the love of God.  To reduce him to some sort of cupid, is never to finish the picture.   The world’s greatest Lover shouted from the cross: “It is finished!”  That “teteletai” is an accounting term meaning “paid in full.”  The Son cried out to the Father that he had paid the debt incurred by human pride. It is what every composer, painter, writer and scientist wants to be able to say, but can only be said satisfactorily when Christ is seen “face to face, and not as a stranger.  (1 John 3:2)”

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fr. Pokorsky: Different Drum, Same Drummer

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky writing yesterday at The Catholic Thing Blog:

These are the Catholic Senators who voted to continue the slaughter of unborn babies, their cries of pain muffled by what should be the safe-haven of a mother’s womb.  There will be no drums to divert your attention. Just a solemn recognition of their decisive role in facilitating the sacrifice of unborn babies to demons.  Here are their names:
Senator Maria Elaine Cantwell (Catholic, Democrat, WA) 
Senator Susan Collins (Catholic, Republican, ME) 
Senator Richard Durbin (Catholic, Democrat, IL) 
Senator Kirstin Gilibrand (Catholic, Democrat, NY) 
Senator Heidi Heitkamp (Catholic, Democrat, ND) 
Senator Tim Kaine (Catholic, Democrat, VA) 
Senator Patrick Leahy (Catholic, Democrat, VT) 
Senator Ed Markey (Catholic, Democrat, MA) 
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (Catholic, Democrat, NV) 
Senator Claire McCaskill (Catholic, Democrat, MO) 
Senator Bob Menendez (Catholic, Democrat, NJ) 
Senator Lisa Murkowski (Catholic, Republican, AK) 
Senator Patty Murray (Catholic, Democrat, WA) 
Senator Jack Reed (Catholic, Democrat, RI)
 ...The Church exists exclusively for the salvation of souls. Unless these politicians repent, they will suffer eternal torment in the fires of Gehenna.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Fr. Hunwicke: Intrinsically Evil

From Fr. Hunwicke's Blog today:

6 February 2018

This year is the 25th anniversary of Veritatis Splendor, of S John Paul II; and the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae, of Bl Paul VI. There is abundant evidence that the corrupted teachers who believe that they have been given a fair wind by PF are already employing this double aniversary for an onslaught upon both of those fine Magisterial assertions by Roman Pontiffs of what the Church has taught semper et ubique et ab omnibus. They are using Amoris laetitia, a document drafted in the very deepest levels of the Lowerarchy, almost certainly under the personal direction of Mr Under-Secretary Screwtape himself*, to "reinterpret" Humanae vitae. One such piece of 'work' is significantly headed "From Montini to Francis: development in fidelity". What this means, stripped of weaselly word games, is "Wow! We can use Section 8 of Amoris laetitia to subvert the meaning and authority of Humanae vitae; we can claim that our subversion is development rather than apostasy, and say that it still leaves the teaching of Papa Montini totally undamaged, nay rather, it affirms it". [This was essentially the argument used at the News Conference chaired by the Graf von Schoenborn to ... er ... 'launch' Amoris laetitia, when he was asked by Diane Montagna whether it contradicted Familiaris consortio.]
What these men, who have put their reason at the disposal of the Bent Eldil*, have in their sights is to destroy the notion that some human actions are intrinsically evil in such a way that no circumstances can render them otherwise.
We all need to be fortified against this already-happening attack of the Evil One. One could amass quite a reading list here; but I will suggest two things, one brief and at a 'lower' Magisterial level; and the second longer and at a 'higher' ... a very high ... Magisterial level. 
(1) S John Paul II, on June 5 1987, delivered a fine address still on the Vatican website in Italian and Spanish, but rediscovered and elegantly translated into English by [the same] Miss Montagna: Lifesitenews Wednesday January 31 2018.  It vigorouly and unambiguously upholds the plain and irreformable teaching of Humanae vitae.
(2) The majestic encyclical of S John Paul, Veritatis splendor was, I think I am right in saying, entirely ignored by Mgr Screwtape during the drafting of Amoris laetitia. In it, pope Wojtyla took head-on, and demolished, the relativistic, 'situational' ethical theories which were still being circulated. It deserves reading in toto. The particular section most concerned is in paragraphs 71-83 (pages 108-127 in the CTS edition). If you feel that one paragraph is all you can manage at this moment of time, just go for paragraph 80 (pages 122sqq.). It subsumes an important passage from (Vatican II's) Gaudium et Spes into its argumentation.
Our Enemy and our enemies are all going hell-for-leather on this subject. We need to be fortified.  
**Apologies to those unfamiliar with the writings of our Patrimonial C. S. Lewis; 'Screwtape' and 'the Bent Eldil' refer to his Daimonologia.
I'm sorry, but I shall not enable Comments which take this opportunity to attack Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.

Posted by Fr John Hunwicke at 10:05 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Remnant TV: Women March & Babies Die

In the spirit of Madame Defarge: Michael Matt takes a hard look at the George Soros-backed Women's March in D.C., New York, London, Rome and all around the world--and asks the question: What are they really protesting and what does it mean for our country and for all of us?

What happens if Trump loses in 2020?  And what's with the little reddish hats? Do these not harken back to "les bonnet rouges"--the red "liberty hats" worn by the terrorists who beheaded Catholic France back in 1789? What's the connection? Why do these women hate us President Trump? Why do they hate pro-lifers?

Archbishop Chaput: Memory, Sex, and The Making of the "New Man."

From Crisis Magazine Blog today:

Editor’s note: The following paper was delivered at the “Into the Breach” men’s conference sponsored by the Diocese of Phoenix on Saturday, February 3, 2018 and is published with permission [...]

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Churchill, The Last Lion, on Aging

And...when you're close to 80 you care only about The Four Last Things.

Fr. Nix's Sermon: Sexagesima Sunday

This sermon was given on Sexagesima Sunday, 4 February 2018, in Jacksonville, Florida.  It is about the hierarchy of creation containing the hierarchy of knowledge as transmitted through the angels.  This will launch us to consider how the Catholic Faith was originally transmitted from the Apostles to bishops to priests to the families of early Christianity.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column, February 3, 2018

Father Rutler's Weekly Column
Sunday, February 3, 2018

As a demographic cohort, “Millennials” are the last generation to have been born in the twentieth century. By conventional assessment, they are agile with technology, shaped by social media, self-absorbed, fixed in the moment and ignorant of history, morally immature and unaware that they have been shortchanged by inadequate and polemical educators. They are as vulnerable as Shakespeare’s “wealthy curlèd darlings of our nation.” Their lack of reason and their subservience to political correctness, can be astonishing. But these are generalizations, and one can be just as astonished by the integrity and spiritual vigor of many who are lumped together with their superficial contemporaries.

   There has been a big drop in religious commitment among the Millennials, but youths predictably assert their independence and return to serious thoughts about God later on. What seems to be an abandonment of faith, may largely be due to the delay in maturation and marrying and the assumption of other responsibilities. Of those who lack a religious outlook, nearly ninety percent were never reared in a stable environment. The large number of Millennials who embrace Christianity are outnumbering the “Baby Boomers” who were warped by the trauma of the psychedelic 1960’s. They react against the moral chaos they have lived through in their own broken homes and decaying culture.

   Many so-called mainline denominations are collapsing, but these almost invariably are those that have tried to “keep up with the Spirit of the Age” rather than with the Holy Spirit. Quoting one sociologist: “When the so-called ‘progressive’ churches question the historicity of Jesus, deny the reality of sin, support abortion, ordain clergy in same-sex relationships and perform their marriages, people desiring real Christianity head elsewhere.”

   A joint study by researchers at Indiana and Harvard universities contradicts the impression that religion is in decline. The number of Americans who are the most vigorous in prayer and worship is actually increasing, from 39 percent in 1989 to 47 percent today. And another study estimates that the percentage of Americans who attend church regularly is four times greater today than it was in 1776.

   Young people who engage in healthy friendships and religious worship, and who work responsibly, are far happier than those who spend a lot of time on the Internet. For Socratic philosophers before Christ, the goal of life was eudaimonia, or “happiness of soul.” Virtue alone could not attain that. “Fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11) is to be found in Christ (John 17:13; 1 Peter 1:8-9).

   Saint Augustine said that “happiness is itself a joy in the truth, and this is a truth in you, God, who are the truth . . .” For the Christian, happiness is not an option; it is an obligation. In some ways the young Augustine—like many Millennials—had been absorbed in himself,  but divine grace pulled him out of that, and none too soon: “Late have I loved thee, beauty ever ancient ever new.”

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