Restoring the Sacred

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Synod 2015: Traditional Catholics are The Prodigal Son's Brother

Two of the best thinkers and writers who regularly publish on The Catholic Thing, wrote today with their final impressions of the just completed Synod 2015 in Rome.

Professor Anthony Esolen's essay is entitled: "A Parable for the Synod," and is an astute response to the unfair, and unfounded, dispersions being cast from the Synod toward traditional Catholics: "People who try with all their hearts to honor the Church’s teachings on sex and marriage have been cast as the elder son in Jesus’ parable, who resents his brother, the penitent wastrel."

Fr. Mark Pilon, a priest in the diocese of Arlington, Virginia, offered his assessment in an essay entitled: "What a Strange Conclusion." Here's just a bit: "How did we arrive at the point where we are rejoicing that a Synod didn’t overthrow the teachings of the Church, and the Synod turned out to be much better than we had feared? That’s quite a commentary on the state of the Church today."

Interestingly, Fr. Pilon states that one of the most promising revelations at the Synod was the performance of the American Bishops "with one notable exception, and he was the first major U.S. appointment by our present pope."  Poor Francis Cardinal George (R.I.P.).  Remember his famous quote about how his successor would die in jail?  That's very much in doubt.

Finally, if you will click, HERE, you can read both essays.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When Politicians Fail Us: A Bonhoeffer Alternative to Doublespeak and Cunning

US President Barack Obama holds up a copy of the book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, given to him by the author Eric Metaxas during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC, February 2, 2012.
Lael Arrington (Published on October 28, 2015)
"We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds. We have become cunning and learned the arts of obfuscation and equivocal speech. Experience has rendered us suspicious of human beings, and often we have failed to speak to them a true and open word. Unbearable conflicts have worn us down or even made us cynical. Are we still of any use?
"We will not need geniuses, cynics, people who have contempt for others, or cunning tacticians, but simple, uncomplicated, and honest human beings. Will our inner strength to resist what has been forced on us have remained strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves blunt enough, to find our way back to simplicity and honesty?"
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, Germany, 1943-45)
Until you reach the last lines you might think this quote could be from political outsiders Ben Carson, or Carly Fiorina or, if it weren’t so eloquent and respectful, even Donald Trump. Simply substitute “political class” for “human beings.”

As a Christian who was passionate about forbearing with others, Bonhoeffer says we do not need “people who have contempt for others.” For Bonhoeffer, a lifestyle of contempt for people made in God’s image was a disqualifying display of pride. As the old hymn says, the place to pour contempt is on “all my pride.”

Any contemporary comparison of the current American political and cultural climate to that of Nazi Germany is automatically dismissed as overreach. But as we read what brave, thoughtful people said in 1940’s Germany we have to form our own opinions.

A fresh wind is blowing through our country. People are weary of the political class. Tired of their murky speech and cunning tactics.

How “truly and openly” did former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak at the Women in the World Summit on April 29th?

“Far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth,” she said. “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will. And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

The first, most revealing question we must ask in this climate of “obfuscation and equivocal speech” is, “What do you mean by that?”

Mrs. Clinton, what do you mean by advancing “critical access to reproductive health care”? Do you mean advancing abortion? Clearly we have to show compassion to women in crisis pregnancies and those who have chosen abortions. But we must speak simply, honestly and humbly about the evil of abortion too.

What do you mean by the phrase, “deep-seated … religious beliefs … have to be changed”? What “political will” do you intend to summon to make that happen? Passing laws and prosecuting violators? Fines, even imprisonment of those whose beliefs compel them to reveal or oppose the advance of abortion’s evils?

How can we rally “simple, uncomplicated, and honest human beings” to speak “bluntly” in a nation that cannot name our common enemy as “Islamic fundamentalist terrorists?” If we cannot demand this honesty while we still enjoy great freedoms, how would we demand it if we were to lose our freedoms, like Bonhoeffer did? His simplicity and honesty landed him in Hitler’s prison.

The man who spoke so eloquently about forbearing with the personalities of others that grate on us drew a clear line in the sand for us. When we behold acts of evil we must speak up. We must take risks to oppose it. Bonhoeffer went so far as to join the conspiracy to assassinate the Führer, for which Hitler ultimately had him hanged, even as the Allies were pouring into Germany.

God has allowed the curtain to be drawn back on so many evils this year: the dismemberment of innocent unborns, the oppression of black people, the institutional approval of gay marriage.

May God grant each of us the courage to speak simply and honestly about “what is being forced on us.” Not in contemptuous rants to friends or on Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page. Not by “liking” or supporting candidates who pour contempt on others. We have plenty of respectful alternatives.

Like Bonhoeffer, may we speak truth with sincerity and respect. And sacrifice greatly to redeem the evils we see with actions that back up our words.

 (Adapted from Lael Arrington’s Faith and Culture Blog, “When Politicians Fail Us: A Bonhoeffer alternative to doublespeak and cunning … what you can do” originally published August 14, 2015.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015



Published on Oct 1, 2015

A new short film by Phelim McAleer that debunks another fracking health scare by Josh Fox, director of GASWORK. 

GasHoax highlights how many of Fox's claims have been proven false, and it criticizes journalists for continuing to report new claims despite Fox's record of unethical and misleading journalism.

To watch a trailer for FrackNation, go HERE.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sundays are for Beauty: Capital Children's Choir: "Who Is It"

"Who Is It": Choral tribute to Björk by the Capital Children's Choir

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Roger Scruton: The Search for God

Roger Scruton, the man described by British MEP Daniel Hannan as "the man who, more than any other, has defined what conservatism is," is quoted today in the Wall Street Journal's "Notable & Quotable" section. The quote is from one of the three books he published in2014: The Soul of the World. 

Here's the quote:
There is a widespread habit of declaring emergent realities to be “nothing but” the things in which we perceive them. The human person is “nothing but” the human animal; law is “nothing but” relations of social power; sexual love is “nothing but” the urge to procreation; . . . the Mona Lisa is “nothing but” a spread of pigments on a canvas; the Ninth Symphony is “nothing but” a sequence of pitched sounds of varying timbre. And so on. Getting rid of this habit is, to my mind, the true goal of philosophy. And if we get rid of it when dealing with the small things—symphonies, pictures, people—we might get rid of it when dealing with the large things too: notably, when dealing with the world as a whole. And then we might conclude that it is just as absurd to say that the world is nothing but the order of nature, as physics describes it, as to say that the Mona Lisa is nothing but a smear of pigments. Drawing that conclusion is the first step in the search for God.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Matt Walsh: The Moral Relativism of Planned Parenthood Defenders

This Dec. 23, 2009, photo shows Dr. Earl B. Bradley’s office “BayBees” in Georgetown, Delaware. From the outside, Bradley’s office looked like a fun place to visit: a merry-go-round and miniature Ferris wheel twirled in the yard, a statue of Buzz Lightyear perched on the roof and a purple hippo swung from a sign. Prosecutors say the doctor’s office was a chamber of horrors where Bradley sexually abused scores of patients. (AP/Chuck Snyder)

Matt Walsh wrote yesterday at The Blaze perhaps his best essay (but that can be said about everyone of his essays).  This one was titled: Planned Parenthood Murders Children — None of Their Other ‘Services’ Matter.  In it he decries what anyone with half a brain (a description inapplicable to the defenders of these evildoers) can easily discern as moral relativism or worse.  He compares the treatment meted out to a Delaware doctor and pedophile, Earl B. Bradley, not long ago, with the treatment not being meted out to the operators of Planned Parenthood.  If, after reading the essay, you side with the defenders of these villains you will someday meet up with their CEO, Cecile Richards, unless she and you come to understand the importance of repentance - and it works for you.

The following clips are from the essay, but you can click on the above essay title and read the whole thing.
I lived in Delaware in 2010, a few miles from the pediatric offices of Dr. Earl Bradley. I’d never heard of him until the news started reporting that he’d been indicted on felony charges. His crime: raping more than a hundred of his patients. His youngest victims were no more than 3 or 4 months old. He was the worst serial pedophile in American history.
Bradley was convicted on all counts and sentenced to a century in solitary confinement. His practice had to pay out $100 million to his victims. His offices were shut down and demolished. Members of the community came and watched as the bulldozers trampled it into dust.
All of this despite the fact that, when he wasn’t sexually abusing his patients, he provided useful care. Perhaps he saved lives. It stands to reason he might have detected signs of cancer or other serious illnesses in children and referred them to specialists on any number of occasions. It’s certain that he did offer legitimate medical treatment to hundreds of kids. And he operated in a small beach town in a small state where the loss of the local pediatrician was a terrible inconvenience to many people.
...there were no discussions of whatever “good” the doctor might have done. No parents came forward to defend him. Nobody spoke up with stories about the times Bradley did other things besides sexually assault and exploit young children. Bradley had no apologists. It was as if everything he’d ever accomplished in his medical career and in his life didn’t matter because he raped toddlers. In fact most people assumed, probably correctly, that he really got into medicine so he’d have access to kids. Even the “good” medical services he provided were really meant as a way of attracting and conditioning new victims. Bradley was so bad that even his “good” was bad.
Now, do you know why nobody tried to rationalize for Bradley? Do you know why nobody talked about the “other stuff” he did? Do you know why nobody attempted to tabulate what percentage of his business was rape and what percentage was valuable medical care? Do you know why nobody worried that shutting down the rapist’s clinic might impede people’s access to medical services? Do you know why none of us locals ever argued that he should be prohibited from sexually brutalizing his patients but allowed to continue practicing medicine for the sake of public health? Because that would have been insane.
It would have been so morally repugnant, so disgusting, so idiotic, so depraved and repulsive and outrageous and psychotic, that anyone who breathed a word of such things would have been reasonably accused of being a pedophile or pedophile sympathizer. If you do what Bradley did, you go to prison forever and every trace of your existence and your work will be wiped from the face of the Earth, and nobody will care about what else you did. What remains — besides the tattered and destroyed lives you left in your wake — will be preserved as a testament to the horrors you committed.
Dr. Bradley is a monster, but he’s no worse than Planned Parenthood. Bradley molested a hundred kids. Planned Parenthood stabs, poisons, crushes and dismembers hundreds of thousands of kids a year. Yet, somehow, while not a single person anywhere in the country ever came close to suggesting that the “other stuff” Bradley did made up for the bad, millions of people make that argument for Planned Parenthood.
Leaving aside the vicious souls who outright justify the murder of innocent children, many Planned Parenthood defenders admit that abortion is wrong, that it takes a human life, but still insist the organization should remain open — and indeed receive federal funding — because of the “other stuff.” Think about how horrified and disgusted you’d be if someone took Bradley’s side by using the “look at the other stuff” argument. That’s how horrifying and disgusting it is to take Planned Parenthood’s side for the same reason...
...Liberals will respond that Planned Parenthood’s birth control dispensing is so important because it neutralizes the “need” for abortion. This is, like every abortion enthusiast argument, false. If birth control really prevented abortion, Planned Parenthood wouldn’t provide it. They couldn’t. It wouldn’t be a viable business model. It would be like a car dealership giving out bus passes. They’d be undercutting the very thing that keeps them in business...
...We don’t talk about how many kids Dr. Bradley didn’t rape. We don’t consider the “negatives” of shutting down a rape clinic and putting the rapist in prison forever. Dr. Bradley was a child predator, and that’s all he was, and that’s how he was treated, no matter what else he did or how often he did it. Period. End of story. That’s all.
Planned Parenthood likewise is a child predator, and that’s all it is, and that’s how it should be treated, no matter what else it does or how often it does it. Period. End of story. That’s all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cardinal Arinze Explains "Conscience"

This is a from a post today on Fr. Z's Blog with reference to Lifesite News.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, reminds everyone of what real primacy of conscience is in the Church’s teaching.  He clarifies that we have the responsibility to have a properly formed conscience.

We cannot simply claim “conscience” as justification for sin.

He speaks of the responsibility of bishops and priests to form people’s consciences properly.

He explains (perhaps to Synod members along with everyone else) what “adultery” is.

"Moms Like Me" New NRA Ad Featuring Dana Loesch

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bishop Robert Barron Clarifies Pope Francsi

On October 13, 2015, Bishop Robert Barron did what most Traditional Catholics have been waiting for someone among the prelature to do: he clarified what Pope Francis has often been quoted, and most always misinterpreted, as saying concerning mercy and inclusivity, and being judgmental about sin itself.

Here are two excerpts from the essay, which was published in the National Catholic Register, that could not be clearer:
In speaking of mercy and inclusivity, he is decidedly not declaring that "I'm okay and you're okay." He is calling people to conversion. As my mentor, Cardinal Francis George, said, "All are welcome in the Church, but on Christ's terms and not their own."
Nowhere has the confusion on this score been greater than in relation to the Pope's famous remark regarding a priest with a homosexual orientation, "Who am I to judge?" I would wager that 95% of those who took in those words understood them to mean that, as far as Pope Francis is concerned, homosexual activity is not really sinful. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Pope was responding to a hypothetical involving a priest with same sex attraction, who had fallen in the past and who is now endeavoring to live in accord with the moral law, a sinner, in a word, who has been looked upon by the face of mercy.

You can read the entire essay by clicking HERE.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sundays are for Beauty: Kermit's Beautiful Rainbow Song

Dedicated to those of us who remember the days when the Rainbow represented something Beautiful.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cardinal Dolan & Anthony Esolen on The New Marginalized Minority

Two days ago, on his Blog from the synod, Cardinal Dolan surprised many traditional Catholics with his concern for what he dubbed The New Minority.  After all, this is the prelate who proudly served as Grand Marshal for this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City, which had, for the first time in its history, capitulated to perversion.  Here is the entire post.  It's a very important read for anyone still interested in Truth.
Inclusion of the New Minority
A very refreshing, consistent theme of the synod has been inclusion.  The Church, our spiritual family, welcomes everyone, especially those who may feel excluded.  Among those, I’ve heard the synod fathers and observers comment, are the single, those with same-sex attraction, those divorced, widowed, or recently arrived in a new country, those with disabilities, the aged, the housebound, racial and ethnic minorities.  We in the family of the Church love them, welcome them, and need them.
Can I suggest as well that there is now a new minority in the world and even in the Church?  I am thinking of those who, relying on God’s grace and mercy, strive for virtue and fidelity: Couples who — given the fact that, at least in North America, only half of our people even enter the sacrament of matrimony–  approach the Church for the sacrament;  Couples who, inspired by the Church’s teaching that marriage is forever, have persevered through trials; couples who welcome God’s gifts of many babies; a young man and woman who have chosen not to live together until marriage; a gay man or woman who wants to be chaste; a couple who has decided that the wife would sacrifice a promising professional career to stay at home and raise their children — these wonderful people today often feel themselves a minority, certainly in culture, but even, at times in the Church!  I believe there are many more of them than we think, but, given today’s pressure, they often feel excluded.
Where do they receive support and encouragement? From TV?   From magazines or newspapers?  From movies?  From Broadway?  From their peers?  Forget it!
They are looking to the Church, and to us, for support and encouragement, a warm sense of inclusion.  We cannot let them down!
Upon reading that October 12 blog post of Cardinal Dolan, one might have been reminded of an earlier essay, posted on September 19 at The CatholicThing.ogr, by the inimitable Anthony Esolen, and even suspect that his Eminence perhaps read that very essay.  Here it is:
Who Stands Up for These Marginalized?
Anthony Esolen
You want people on the margins? The neglected, the invisible?
Last Sunday I was waiting in a diner for a former student of mine, one of my favorites, and his wife, whom I hadn’t met before, and who was carrying their first child. While I was waiting, I glanced over at another table and saw something remarkable.
It was a boy and a girl who had just sat down. They couldn’t have been more than twenty years old, and they might have been as young as sixteen. He was no body-builder, but he was tall and well set up, as they used to say, clean cut, no tattoos. She was slender and pretty, with long dark hair. As he was talking to her, his cheeks were flushed with delight, and he was beaming from ear to ear. She was smiling happily and sweetly in return. They might have come to the diner straight from church, as I had. They shone out with innocence.
They might have been somebody’s father and mother, a long time ago, before they had determined that their delight in one another’s company was really love, before they had decided to make that company everlasting, and before they had sealed their love and their vows with the full-hearted and full-bodied gift of themselves.
So what was remarkable about them? Reader, friend – when was the last time you saw such a couple?
Then my young friend and his wife arrived. He had not known God at all until he experienced a sudden and shattering vision during the summer before his freshman year at college. He spent that summer reading the Bible and pitching himself with all his considerable resoluteness into a new way of life.
It is seven years later. He’s been working for the Coast Guard, hard physical work, from Nova Scotia to the Falkland Islands, and from the Dominican Republic to the Mediterranean. They don’t even have a chaplain or a small chapel on board ship, he tells me, and sometimes one of the men will mock him when they come upon him kneeling in prayer. I doubt that the mockery is ever too serious, though, because this young man has, shall we say, a formidable presence. Not that he minds it.
So I chatted with them also about their plans, and he looked upon her with pride and protectiveness, and she looked upon him with admiration and delight. Again it was purity, right and just, though purity as having come through the smoke and bitterness of the world.
Why are these sights so rare?
I notice that the American president has made sure that Pope Francis, when he comes to visit the White House, will meet a man representing a group that is now always at the center of attention. Even should you descend into the depths of the newspaper, the sports pages themselves, they are there.
Not one day goes by without our hearing about their problems, their demands, their accusations, their mostly invented cultural history, and so on. Sometimes, as in the case of the man whom the president has elevated to brief celebrity, they proudly spurn the teachings of the Church. Sometimes they proudly follow those teachings but demand that everyone applaud them for doing so, and notice them, even change the way they raise children on their account.
I’m tired of it. And I grow downright angry when I consider the people about whose welfare no one ever troubles himself.
Think of the boy and girl at the other table. Now name for me one single social custom, one single local ordinance or state law, one single common work of literature read in the high schools, one single august pronouncement from the episcopal heights, one single session of prelates in council, one single social institution, one single jot of advice given to them from their teachers of “health,” one single word of encouragement or guidance or praise from the media or the mavens of art or those voluble blockheads in the academy, that will show, not even gratitude for their purity, but awareness that such young people exist?
Or if they are acknowledged to exist, here and there, are they not mocked, assaulted by the whores of pornography at a thousand virtual street corners, and rejected by their peers?
Who pays them any mind?
C.S. Lewis once wrote that if we really understood the purposes of things, we would see that all of politics and economics and technology exist so that a couple of friends can chat about good books at their leisure; or, as I’d say, so that a mother and father can sit quietly on the back porch as they watch their small children play; or so that a boy and girl, over the moon for one another, can have lunch at a diner and never once think of the lewd, the squalid, the hard-hearted, the licentious, or the base.
So also I might say about our pastoral directives as regards youth and sex. These are the people we must assist, and not take for granted that they will survive the current onslaught of falsehood and wickedness. We want every diner in every little town in the country to be graced with the laughter of innocent young people in love. What are we doing to see to it?
I might put it this way. Why are we doing all we can to ensure that such youths are as rare as diamonds? If we give all our attention to people whose desires are out of order with their bodies, smiling upon Sodom and grinning with Gomorrah, hypocritically and heartlessly saying that we wish to be merciful, we implicitly join the gang of their high school peers who laugh at them. We imply that they are chumps. And eventually, God forbid, even those last few innocents may come to agree.
Margins? Come see the deserted village.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Chiara Luce Badano: A Saint for Generation X

From YouTube:
Chiara Badano, called Chiara "Luce" (which means "Light"), (Sassello, October 29, 1971 - Sassello, October 7, 1990) was an Italian teenager who has been declared "Blessed" within the Catholic Church. She belonged to the Focolare Movement and died prematurely at eighteen after succumbing to osteosarcoma, an aggressive and painful form of bone cancer. She was beatified on September 25, 2010 in the Sanctuary of "Our Lady of Divine Love" in Rome.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sundays are for Beauty: J.S Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in d minor”

That's the Oklahoma State University's Small Trumpet Ensemble. On March 21 of this year, they won the National Trumpet Competition at Messiah College, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Mark J. Perry on Wasteful Recycling

Mark J. Perry, who holds two graduate degrees in Economics, is a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan's Flint campus, and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.  His popular economics Blog is called: Carpe Diem.
 Last Sunday, he published a post discussing the wasteful activity of recycling, which has become a pseudo religion for folks who more than anything want to feel good about themselves.
Here's just the opening paragraph of the post:
In 1996, New York Times science columnist John Tierney wrote an article that appeared in the New York Times Magazine about compulsory recycling titled “Recycling is Garbage.”  Tierney’s controversial argument in that article can be summarized as follows: Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America. Tierney wrote, “Rinsing out tuna cans and tying up newspapers may make you feel virtuous, but it’s a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources. Americans have embraced recycling as a transcendental experience, an act of moral redemption. We’re not just reusing our garbage; we’re performing a rite of atonement for the sin of excess.” Now you can understand why Tierney’s recycling article set the all-time record for the greatest volume of hate mail ever recorded in the history of the New York Times Magazine.

You can read the entire post of Professor Perry by clicking HERE.

To read the 1996 piece by John Tierney, go HERE.

Overpopulation: The Making of a Myth

Thursday, October 8, 2015

John Quincy Adams on Immigration

John Quincy Adams, when he was U.S. secretary of state, in 1819, wrote to a German citizen who was considering moving to the United States, and asked Adams for a job.  Those were the days when a politician could speak the truth without political consequences.  Such a letter today from a U.S. secretary of state would be cause for impeachment to appease the outcry from the Left.  Here are excerpts from the letter as published in today's Wall Street Journal:

Notable & Quotable: John Quincy Adams
‘This is a land, not of privileges, but of equal rights.’
Neither the general government of the union, nor those of the individual states, are ignorant or unobservant of the additional strength and wealth, which accrues to the nation, by the accession of a mass of healthy, industrious, and frugal laborers, nor are they in any manner insensible to the great benefits which this country has derived, and continues to derive, from the influx of such adoptive children from Germany.
But there is one principle which pervades all the institutions of this country, and which must always operate as an obstacle to the granting of favors to new comers. This is a land, not of privileges, but of equal rights. Privileges are granted by European sovereigns to particular classes of individuals, for purposes of general policy; but the general impression here is that privileges granted to one denomination of people, can very seldom be discriminated from erosions of the rights of others.
Emigrants from Germany, therefore, or from elsewhere, coming here, are not to expect favors from the governments. They are to expect, if they choose to become citizens, equal rights with those of the natives of the country. They are to expect, if affluent, to possess the means of making their property productive, with moderation, and with safety;—if indigent, but industrious, honest and frugal, the means of obtaining easy and comfortable subsistence for themselves and their families. . . .
To one thing they must make up their minds, or, they will be disappointed in every expectation of happiness as Americans. They must cast off the European skin, never to resume it. They must look forward to their posterity, rather than backward to their ancestors; they must be sure that whatever their own feelings may be, those of their children will cling to the prejudices of this country, and will partake of that proud spirit.
"Every officer impeachable by the laws of the country, is as liable, twenty years after his office has expired, as he is whilst he continues in office, and if such is not the case, if an officer could thus ward off the pains of impeachment, what would be the value of the provision… ?” 

 John Quincy Adams

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Yo Yo MA is 60: Happy BIrthday!

With Diana Krall and John Clayton.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dr. Ben Carson 1: Whoopie Goldberg 0

You might ask yourself what Whoopie Goldberg has accomplished in her life to benefit society that would make her feel qualified and competent to take on Dr. Ben Carson.  I can't come up with anything.

The Vortex—"Failed’ Marriages": No Such Thing!

The Vortex—‘Failed’ Marriages | The Vortex


There's a lot of talk going on in Rome during this synod about failed marriages. But that's the kind of talk that's not really all that helpful. It's exclusionary. It's unwelcoming. In fact, it sends the message that not all are welcome.

And exactly who is it that's being excluded, being not welcomed? Well, God — that's Who. See, to speak of a sacramental marriage as having failed is not welcoming to God. A sacrament that is valid and licit, cannot fail. It is an insult to Almighty God to even mention that. That's because it has the imprint of God on it — so everything Our Lord has promised in connection with that sacrament remains; it succeeds, it does not fail. It cannot fail.

Sure, the human component can fail and fail spectacularly, but not the divine part. We would never imagine speaking of a failed baptism, or a failed ordination, or a failed anointing of the sick. And if we did, many Church leaders should look out, because we could certainly start reeling off zillions of examples where the sacrament of ordination clearly looks like it failed. But Catholics don't speak in these terms.  

We speak in terms of individuals failing to live in such a manner so as to cooperate with the grace given through the sacrament — but we cannot speak in terms of the sacrament itself failing. Impossible. The term of marriage is for life — until death us do part. That is the amount of time that God has bound Himself to that particular sacrament — until one of the spouses dies. In the instance of ordination, God has bound Himself to that sacrament forever. You are a priest forever, a priest like Melchizedek of old. Once a priest always a priest. As the Irish say: A priest in Heaven, a priest in Hell; you are a priest forever. Same with baptism. The term for baptism is forever. You are never without baptism once baptized. 

So sacraments, depending on which ones they are, each have a term, a length of "time" in which their effects remain operative. The same applies to marriage. The graces available to a husband and wife are sufficient to them for them to cooperate with and merit Heaven — so to speak of the possibility of failure is not Catholic vocabulary.

We can speak of the failure of the husband or wife to live a life or lives corresponding to those graces, but we can never speak of the graces themselves failing. Yet this is exactly the tone, the undercurrent you hear around Rome from various prelates at the Synod. And they are wrong, perhaps even heretical. They are campaigning for an unCatholic interpretation of marriage — the sacrament itself. That is not possible.

When the human relationship fails, that is not the fault of the marriage sacrament. It is the fault of the human beings involved. Granted, there could be outside situations that bring great stress on the human relationship, like a psychological illness that develops only after the wedding, or a physical condition along with the emotional stress that makes the relationship very difficult to endure on a daily basis. It may in very rare circumstances even be necessary to separate for a while, but none of this undoes the sacrament of the marriage. It means necessity of clinging even more tightly to the graces of the sacrament.

But let's be honest, shall we? While these issues do happen, they are not the primary cause of so-called failed marriages. Lust is the primary cause. One or both spouses simply get "bored" physically with the other and get a roaming eye. They might have personality issues that precondition them to get bored. They could be going through the infamous second childhood or menopause, or the new secretary is just very attractive. Whatever.

Things are unhappy at home and one or both spouses is not cooperating with the graces to endure and work through the unhappiness, so instead of turning to God and His sacramental graces, they turn their eye to someone else, and adultery soon occurs. And this is the reason most marriages "fail." The other woman, or the other man, comes strolling in right at the perfect moment. So divorce eventually happens, then civil remarriage — and then exclusion from confession and Holy Communion.

It is preposterous and spiritually monstrous to consider granting the Most Blessed Sacrament to those who have failed to cooperate with graces from another sacrament and call it "mercy." It is not mercy or compassion — it is condoning adultery, the very opposite of marriage. Marriage is fidelity, through thick and thin. Adultery is lack of fidelity.

The idea that a sacrament can fail is a horrible thing to ponder. We simply cannot live in an existence where we do not have the guarantee of the fidelity of Our Lord to the sacraments. Imagine what would happen to the idea of confession. What if we could not be certain that the graces or effects from absolution "stuck"? First they are there, then they fail. How about confirmation, or baptism, or for that fact, Holy Communion itself?  

This kind of discussion is totally off-base, missing the mark, unCatholic to the extreme. The failure is on the part of the humans to not live up to the sacrament. This is how this must be spoken of — not in terms of a "failed marriage." No such animal exists, nor is it even possible for it to exist. Moreover, to turn around and reconstruct the Church's vocabulary, or try to smuggle in a new one, so as to essentially reward adultery is beyond the pale. It is wicked and diabolical. People living in adultery cannot be admitted to Holy Communion any more than two men or two women in a civil same-sex marriage — which a number of people here in Rome say is the real goal — with heterosexual couples in adultery simply being used as guinea pigs.

Stay with us all this month as we continue to bring you news from Rome about the Synod and the drastic approaches being discussed.

Monday, October 5, 2015

St Patrick's Day Parade 2016: Cultural Decay on Display

Matthew Hennessey, associate editor of City Journal, reported one more step away from Beauty, Truth, and Goodness in New York City, in an essay entitled: "Argument Over."  His entire essay is reproduced below:
Argument Over
New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade capitulates in a two-decade-long dispute with gay groups.
October 2, 2015
One of New York City’s longest-running civic and political battles came to an end this week, not with a bang but a whimper. The organizers of the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade announced that they would allow the Lavender and Green Alliance—a group composed of gay, lesbian, and transgender people of Irish descent— to participate in the annual march up Fifth Avenue. The group’s application to join the parade had been denied every year since 1994 due, parade organizers said, to its advocacy of an agenda at odds with the traditionally Catholic character of the event. In 2000, the group organized its own annual parade, St. Pat’s for All, in the heavily Irish neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside, Queens.
Last week’s announcement was well received by LGBT advocates and their allies but failed to generate the sort of press you’d expect if you’d been watching the issue evolve over the last two decades. What was once one of the bitterest political fights (in a city known for bitter political fights) has simply resolved itself with barely a hint of pushback from one of the original adversaries. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York said that Timothy Cardinal Dolan has been out of town all week and may not be aware of the decision.
This marks a drastic change from a generation ago, when Dolan’s predecessor, John Cardinal O’Connor, squared off against New York City mayor David Dinkins in a public battle of wills over the issue. In 1991, Dinkins was booed by parade-goers for marching alongside the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO). Police arrested two men for throwing open beer cans that “whizzed over the heads of the crowd, raining down an arc of liquid on the Mayor,” as the New York Times described it. Afterward, Dinkins claimed—rather dramatically—that “It was like marching in Birmingham, Alabama.”
Organizers banned ILGO the following year and, in solidarity, Dinkins stopped marching altogether. A defiant O’Connor, however, refused to buckle, declaring in a 1993 St. Patrick’s Day homily, “Neither respectability nor political correctness is worth one comma in the Apostles’ Creed.” While the church, he said, offers homosexuals its love and prayers, he “could never even be perceived as compromising Catholic teaching.” At the time, the parade was sponsored and organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a Catholic fraternal organization, which countered accusations of exclusion by saying the ban was not of gay people per se, but of explicitly political banners (with one notable exception: marchers could carry signs reading “England Get Out of Ireland”). Gays were allowed to march, the organizers said, as members of other sanctioned groups, just not as members of groups whose sole purpose was to promote their sexual identity. Explicitly pro-life organizations were banned as well. As far as anyone knows, they still are.
Over the ensuing decades, the parade fight became an emblem of the gay rights movement. Anti-Catholic rhetoric from groups like ILGO and Irish Queers got progressively nastier. Irish Queers began calling the parade “a demonstration of homophobia” and chastising the NYPD and FDNY for their participation: “[W]e will continue until we defeat the religious right attempt to hijack our communities and control our identities. The St. Patrick’s Day parade—the most public expression of the Irish community in America—is the right place exactly to stage our struggle.”
In 2014, under pressure from financial sponsors, the parade committee partially acquiesced, allowing a group of gay, lesbian, and transgender employees of NBCUniversal to march under their own banner. Calling the decision “a gesture of goodwill to the LGBT community in our continuing effort to keep the parade above politics,” the committee hoped it would be enough to placate LGBT activists. It was not—the Lavender and Green Alliance demanded that a group of self-identified gays of Irish descent be allowed to march. This year, they will be.
Catholic groups questioned Cardinal Dolan’s decision to accept the parade committee’s invitation to serve as the parade’s 2014 grand marshal, viewing it as a clear rejection of Cardinal O’Connor’s position (and that of his immediate successor, Edward Cardinal Egan). “If the Parade Committee allowed a group to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teaching, I’d object,” Dolan responded. “In fact, the leaders of the Parade Committee tried to be admirably sensitive to Church teaching.” One can only wonder whether the cardinal still thinks so highly of the parade committee’s sensitivity. Maybe, to borrow a phrase from General Douglas MacArthur, old political fights don’t die, they just fade away. In this one, a clear victor has emerged.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Fr. Schall: Our "This-Worldly" Oriented Pope.

Fr. James Schall posted yesterday at an essay on the Pope's just completed visit to Cuba and the United States (in that order for some reason).  The entire essay can be read by clicking HERE, but herewith some excerpts that many of those who attended part or all of the three stops in the USA might find enlightening.
I am not sure with what to compare the Pope’s passage here. Was it like the triumphal entry of a Roman Emperor after conquering half of the world? The Holy Father is clearly a “personality”. His smiles and gestures are winning by any standard. I have never been much a fan of the Fiat as the official Papal vehicle. Most think it is a sign of humility. It seems a bit ostentatious to me. But I do have a capitalist observation. If I were the owners of Fiat in Turin, I would quickly rename the little four-seater “Fiat Il Papa” or perhaps “The Papal Fiat” and promise to contribute half the sales to the poor. A “papal fiat” after all is a phrase of classical legal meaning, “let it be done.”...
Pope Francis put great emphasis on “social friendships”, whatever they are. Where they fit into Aristotle’s classification of friendships of utility, pleasure, and the highest sort, I am not clear. Perhaps they are the sort of things Aristotle talked about when people from the same country meet in a foreign land. They greet each other as brothers, having things in common. “The friends with everyone, friends with no one” still holds, but the virtue of friendliness to everyone (amiability) is probably what he had in mind. The Pope used the phrase “social friendship” again in a talk to Cuban youth where it seems to mean what John Paul II meant by “solidarity”, where everyone puts aside differences and talks...
The Pope’s remarks to the students on environment contained these gems: 1) “The polar bear in Alaska has to go even further north. Why? Because the glaciers are starting to melt.” The implication here, I take it, is that human beings are causing this melting, not natural changes. So if you want to save the polar bear, refreeze the North Pole.
But the polar bear is a “big” problem. The young can deal with “small” problems. Like what? “We can always use biodegradable materials. You know that a non-biodegradable plastic bag stays there for millennia and this brings damage to the environment.” Whether plastic wraps and bags have been responsible for many good things like protecting us from germs, keeping things fresh, and so forth is not considered. Just why we cannot teach people to pick the plastic bags up instead of destroying the whole plastic industry and its jobs, I am not sure. Paper biodegradable bags are made of wood pulp which is made from trees that are found in forests, etc. The “waste of paper” the Pope finds “shocking”; he does not seem to know of reforestation. We have more trees in this country today than we evidently did before Columbus discovered  the place.
Next the Pope tells the students of a conversation with a man who is supposed to know about these things. He tells him that “the Islands of the Pacific Ocean, while they are independent states, within 20 years,” are evidently to disappear. If Julian Simon were still alive he would probably make a bet with the Pope on this assumption. Simon once bet Paul Ehrlich, who was at the time preaching massive starvation, that in several decades there would be more available supply of every mineral than when the bet was made. Ehrlich lost.
I mention all these things not because I think the Pope said too much about the environment in his trip, but because he didn’t. In fact, he finally seems to have realized the connection between environmentalism and the totalitarian views of those who want to control population. He knows that massive strides have been made through normal methods to clean the environment and reduce poverty. There is no real crisis that cannot be dealt with, unless perhaps we so empower governments that, through the power given to them, they exercise absolute control over every movement of the citizenry. His talk to Cuban youth on hope and jobs did not seem to recognize that in Cuba all jobs are in government control...
During the return flight, Maria Antonieta Collins of Univision asked the Pope about forgiveness. I was pleased to read his remarkable response:
If a person has done wrong, is conscious of what he has done and does not say sorry, I ask God to take him into account. I forgive him, but he does not receive that forgiveness; he is closed to forgiveness. We must forgive, because we were all forgiven. It is another thing to receive that forgiveness. If that priest is closed to forgiveness, he won’t receive it because he locked the door from the inside. And what remains is to pray for the Lord to open his door. To forgive you must be willing. But not everyone can receive or know how to receive it, or are just not willing to receive it. What I am saying is hard. And that is how you explain how there are people who finish their life hardened, badly, without receiving the tenderness of God.
That may be the best passage of this pontificate! Everything is forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice, but forgiveness necessarily follows on admission of guilt. Without it, nothing can be forgiven. This is what free will means.
This “refusal to be forgiven” is the status of much of the modern world, which also denies that there is anything to forgive. All is permitted. This refusal to accept the “tenderness of God” is what we ultimately call hell (see my essay “A Second Look at Hell"). This Pope seldom draws out the logic of this conclusion, but here it is quite clear. No one can be saved without repentance which comes from the inside. Social structures, good or bad, do not excuse personal sin...
Pope Francis does not seem to like normal Catholics, clergy or laity; he opts for sinners and heretics. While here, he did not support in any vigorous manner the efforts of the pro-life movement. He does not seem to admire intellectuals in any shape or form. He has distanced himself from John Paul II and Benedict XVI in many ways, not just in style. Many of his appointments are strange and definitely “left” leaning, as they say. As to his job, he certainly seems to enjoy being pope. He has become a “star”, a world-class figure, to use Hegel’s terms. He thrives before an audience. He seems uncritical about so many things—large government, the United Nations, climate change, criticism of capitalism, and Islam.
As I see it, the key to Pope Bergoglio is that he is primarily “this-worldly” oriented—this is his bent, his priority. The curious notion of making ecology a kind of ethics is most instructive. His eschatology seems centered on this world’s ongoing processes. He spoke to the youth in Cuba about hope. As far as I could judge, there was nothing in this discourse that transcended life in this world, though he would probably be surprised if one took this as a denial of anything transcendent...
Now, I am the first to say, for instance, that the issues of “gay marriage” or contraception, are not primarily issues of revelation but reason. They should be argued at this level. So one can go before Congress, as the Pope did, and not mention the name of Christ; popes are supposed to know about the things that congressmen deal with. But, no doubt, every member of Congress and every representative at the United Nations knew that the man who stood before them in a white cassock had something to do with Christ. However you mix it, without this Christ-overtone, he is just a man from an Argentine immigrant family. In any case, it is not, as in many lands, against the laws to speak the name of Christ in our Congress. The Pope surely knew that.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


From today:

In 1931, Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen wrote the following essay:
“America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance-it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”
“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory.
Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”