Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Words of Relevance: St. Pope John Paul II: "Be Not Afraid!"


Today is the Feast of St. Pope John Paul II, who began his papacy, on October 22, 1978, with the now famous words: "Be Not Afraid!"  

In 1994, in his encyclical, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he recalled the words with which he began his papacy.

Here's the quote:
When, on October 22, 1978, I said the words "Be not afraid!" in St. Peter's Square, I could not fully know how far they would take me and the entire Church. Their meaning came more from the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, promised by the Lord Jesus to His disciples, than from the man who spoke them. Nevertheless, with the passing of the years, I have recalled these words on many occasions. ... Why should we have no fear? Because man has been redeemed by God. ... The power of Christ's Cross and Resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Words of Relevance: Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki: Synod's First Week Summary Unacceptable


The first encouraging sign for traditional Catholics since the beginning of the Synod in Rome came today from Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the current Bishop of Poznan, Poland, who criticized the document summarizing the first week of the Synod.

The following was posted on the website Rorate Caeli today:

In an interview with Vatican Radio, the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference did not hesitate to say that this document departs from the teaching of John Paul II, and even that in it can be noticed traces of the anti-marriage ideology. According to Archbishop Gądecki, this text also highlights the lack of a clear vision for the synodal assembly.

Bishop Gadecki laments what the summary leaves out as much as what it does report which, he says, is not clearly focused on Truth. 

Here's the quote:
Speak about the practical exceptions, but we also need to present the truth. Also, the points that speak of children entrusted to same-sex couples are formulated somewhat as if this situation is being praised! This is also a defect of this text, which instead should be an incentive to fidelity, family values, but instead seems to accept everything as it is. It created an impression that the teaching of the Church has been merciless so far, as if the teaching of mercy were beginning only now."   

Monday, October 6, 2014

Words of Relevance: Don John of Austria: Leadership at Lepanto


Don John's victory at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was the cause for Catholics everywhere to celebrate tomorrow the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  Before that famous battle, Don John whose forces were vastly outmanned and outmatched by the Islamic Turks, issued to each of his warriors, a rosary.  Pope Pius V, back in Rome, urged all the faithful to pray the rosary before the battle, and in his stateroom aboard his flagship Don Juan had mustered his admirals to go over the battle plan.  One of those admirals broached the possibility of further negotiation with the Islamic Turks, but Don John did not hesitate before making his decision clear.

Here's the quote:
"Gentlemen, the time for counsel has passed.  Now is the time for war."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Words of Relevance: Russell Kirk on Social Conservatism


Russell Kirk, who influenced the American Conservative movement more than any other man, is best remembered for his 1953 book: The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot.

In that magnum opus, Kirk provided us with the perfect definition of Social Conservatism, and in present day America that is a term that begs accurate definition since it is often used as a pejorative by those who consider themselves enlightened.

Here's the quote:
Conservatism is not a fixed and immutable body of dogmata; conservatives inherit from Burke a talent for re-expressing their convictions to fit the time.  As a working premise, nevertheless, one can observe here that the essence of social conservatism is preservation of the ancient moral traditions of humanity.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Words of Relevance: Anthony Esolen on The Illusion of Neutrality


Anthony Esolen, professor of English at Providence College, and prolific writer and translator, wrote a timely essay recently which first appeared on Public Discourse, and today was reprinted, with permission, on Crisis Magazine.  You can read the entire essay HERE.

Esolen makes the case for the deconstruction of the Liberal dictum that "the State must remain neutral as regards religion or irreligion."  He provides "two more fundamental reasons for rejecting the dictum.  One is that it is not possible.  The other is that it is not conceivable, even if it were possible.  It is a contradiction in terms." He goes into depth explaining the contradictions inherent in remaining "neutral" on important matters, and leaves us with a memorable quote concerning the "neutral position" regarding abortion.

Here's the quote:
You cannot say, as liberals try to say, that you will allow abortion for people inclined to procure one, and then pretend that that too is to remain blissfully neutral and tolerant, no more than if you tried to say that you would allow infanticide for parents who decide, after all, that the diapers are too messy, or the baby too ugly or too sickly or handicapped. A society that allows some people to kill babies is a society that does not protect babies, period.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Words of Relevance: "Mad Dog" Mattis on Telegraphing Plans to the Enemy


James "Mad Dog" Mattis is a retired United States Marine Corps general, who last served as the 11th commander of United States Central Command.  He retired (or was retired) in August 2010.

He testified this past Thursday before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and in his usual fashion did not mince words.  His testimony, part of which was published in today's Wall Street Journal, could be judged a rebuke to the commander-in-chief's penchant for displaying a level of ignorance about waging war thankfully never before observed in someone of that rank.  He addressed the lack of clarity on the part of the current administration regarding the strategy needed to be employed against our latest existential threat.

Here's the quote:
Whichever strategy is chosen, we should be reticent in telling our adversaries in advance any timeline that governs us or which of our capabilities we will not employ.  Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American "boots on the ground…"


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Words of Relevance: Jeane Kirkpatrick's Prescience and ISIS


Jeane Duane Kirkpatrick (1926-2006) served our country in many capacities before becoming the first woman to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

If we were ever fortunate to have the likes of a Margaret Thatcher serve in our government, it would have been Jeane Kirkpatrick.  To stay with the British meme, her prescience had to rival that of Winston Churchill who was the only man on the planet warning of the coming threat of Nazi Germany in 1934.

A quote from the Introduction to Kirkpatrick's book:   Making War To Keep Peace, published in 2007, a year after her death, provided an example of her prescience and served as a warning of the coming of a threat such as ISIS.

Here's the quote:
We have had ample opportunity in this century of wars and revolutions to observe what happens when violent elites, who espouse coercive ideologies, gain access to the resources of states.  They start with murder and denial of freedom in their own states, and move on to war, which may spill over to their neighbors and sometimes to genocide.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Words of Relevance: Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona on Muslim Immigration


Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona is the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul in the northern part of Iraq.  He was mentioned this week in a piece at Crisis magazine by William Kilpatrick, entitled: Islam, Immigration and the Importance of Culture.

Kilpatrick opens his essay by referring to recent remarks by the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, condemning the barbarism of the Islamic State.  Kilpatrick noted that Coleridge "for some reason felt compelled to add: It has nothing to do with real Islam….”  He then provides an insightful quote from someone much closer to the evil: Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul.  

The Bishop of Mosul warned European and Western Christians that they “will also suffer in the near future” because…

Here's the quote:

"you are welcoming in your countries an ever-growing number of Muslims…. You think all men are created equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are created equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home."


Monday, September 8, 2014

Words of Relevance: President Coolidge on Budgeting


John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. served as the 30th president of the United States, from 1923 to 1939.  He was known as "Silent Cal" probably because in his own words he was "never sorry for something (he) never said."  He was thought by some to be overly concerned with the budget, and maybe he was, but wouldn't we be better off if that attitude would once again rear its head in our nation's capital?

He spoke often of the necessity of government to operate as frugally as possible, but one particular quote made to a group of Jewish philanthropists around 1925 summarizes his entire philosophy concerning his strong feelings about budgeting for the nation.

Here's the quote:
"The budget idea, I may admit, is a sort of obsession with me.  I believe in budgets. I want other people to believe in them.  I have had a small one to run my own home; and besides that, I am the head of the organization that makes the greatest of all budgets, that of the United States government.  Do you wonder, then, that at times I dream of balance sheets and sinking funds, and deficits, and tax rates, and all the rest?  I regard a good budget as among the noblest monuments of virtue."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Words of Relevance: President Reagan on Foreign Policy Strategy


While the world struggles to learn something, anything, that will shed light on the foreign policy strategy of America's current administration, we should always remember there was no such ambiguity during the white house tenure of Ronald Reagan.  Characterized by intellectuals as overly simplistic, it nevertheless worked to perfection.  When asked to state his strategy on ending the cold war, President Reagan kept his reply short and, yes, simple.

Here's the quote:
“Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win; they lose.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Words of Relevance: Bret Stephens on Hillary and Political Opportunists


Bret Stephens, deputy editor of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting piece today questioning whether Hillary Clinton's self-reinvention  as a foreign-policy hawk is Kierkegaardian or Aristotelian, i.e., "Is the real 'you' the interior and subjective you; the you of your private whispers and good intentions?  Or are you only the sum of your public behavior, statements and actions?  Are you the you that you have been, and are?  Or are you what you are, perhaps, becoming?"  He then, perhaps, answers his own question by providing his definition of a political opportunist.

Here's the quote:
The political opportunist always lacks the courage of his, or her, convictions.  That's not necessarily because there aren't any convictions.  It's because the convictions are always subordinated to the needs of ambition and ingratiation."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Words of Relevance: Friedrich Hayek on "Social Justice"


There is a whole chapter in Roger Kimball's important book: The Fortunes of Permanence on the writings of Friedrich Hayek.  In it Kimball, before getting to Hayek's view of "weasel words," offers this:
A weasel was once said to be able to empty an egg without leaving a mark, and "social" is in this sense a "weasel word": a phonetic husk with only an echo of meaning.   
Here's a quote from Hayek on the use of "social" followed by a hyphen:  
It is..."increasingly turned into an exhortation, a sort of guide-word for rationalistic morals intended to displace traditional morals, and now increasingly supplants the word 'good' as a designation of what is morally right." 
Kimball goes on:
"Think only of the odious phrase "social justice."  What it means in practice, is de facto injustice, since it operates by enlisting the legal machinery of justice in order to support certain predetermined ends."