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Friday, 24 October 2014

The Smirking Priest

There was a new episode of Father Brown on recently, and Himself dvr'ed it.


The series, which uses plots NOT from the mind and soul and pen of Chesterton is updated to the '50s.
Why not? I'm sure it saved the producers a fortune on cars, clothes, and hiding of modern stuff.

I have no problem with that.

I do have a problem with messing with classic stories, plays, characters, etc., in ways that are anachronistic, or that to suit modenr sensibilities remove aspects of plots or personae that render the actions and motivations unitelligible.

For instance, I remember some film movie a while back set in ancient Greece, telling an ancient ancient story, that removed all reference to the gods.
Now, it is not necessary for the writer and director to believe in the inhabitants of Mt Olympus, you can leave them out of the story as characters if you choose -- but if the humans of myth and epic don't believe in their gods, as persons whose will must be reckoned with, who are likely to wreak revenge or demand restitution, who have powers of life and death -- well, the stories stop making sense.

I saw an otherwise mostly good Much Ado once, in which Beatrice not only felt her dear cousin's reputation had been besmirched with lies, she obviously thought that even if Hero had been entertianing strange men in her bedroom, bully for her!
(I just remembered, one other flaw -- it was set in Gone With the Wind territory - did the director not realize that having officers returning from a war wearing uniforms of the Confederacy reads "Losers!!!!!"?)

Anyway, Father Brown.
Silly plot, not very well writtne, or thought through -- does a Catholic priest coming upon a probably dying man really go off to solve a puzzle rather than administer last rites?

Okay, writer didn't think that through, had to wrap up story in allotted time, fine.

But in a plot which turned on possible elopement, probable adultery, an underage girl flirting with the help -- wouldn't you have thought there'd be some nod to the sexual mores that would almost certainly be in play in that era, in that place?

If the hot-to-trot girl was making eyes at someone else's chauffeur, who, priest or parent, would suggest that he stay there, in the many-roomed and -corridored manse overnight?

Okay, but maybe that was necessary to the, again, not well thought out plot.

But in a million years, would Father Brown, hearing his (widowed?) aristocratic parishioner swear to the police that she had spent the night in a hotel room with a man, after already telling him that she had spent that night in a hotel room with a different man, SMIRK about it?

Gee, he'd fit right in, in some modern-day circles in catholic England or Germany, wouldn't he? 

Polygamy, concubinage, fornication... what's a little kippling* between neighbors?

GKC would not be amused.

(*As in, I say, Elspeth, do you like Kipling?.... I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never been kippled!)

Death Sentence? Life Sentence?

I am an opponent of the death penalty.

Although I can imagine situations in which it would be, "the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor," I believe such situations are exceedingly rare, (if not quite "practically nonexistent" -- for instance, had Bin Laden been taken alive I think his presence in prison would have endangered his guards and their families, his captors and their families, and indeed everyone of, in or connected to this country, to an unacceptable degree.)
 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
But apparently Pope Francis said things that were a bit more striking than what was reported in the Vatican blog's entry on his address to the Penal Association.
All Christians and people of goodwill are called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty be it legal or illegal.
I do not think that is strictly true, (unless he means "called" by him.)
The Church Herself, as demonstrated in the section of the CCC quoted above, does NOT call us to do so.
I believe one can make the prudential judgment that it is ethical and moral to have the extreme penalty authorized in the event of extreme cases.

He further said, that we are called to fight,
for the improvement of prison conditions in the respect of the human dignity of those who have been deprived of freedom.
Very good.
But he went on,
I link this to the death sentence. In the Penal Code of the Vatican, the sanction of life sentence is no more. A life sentence is a death sentence which is concealed.
I can think of no suggestion more calculated to win converts to the propriety of the death penalty than to tell societies with legitimate fears of real evil that giving a life sentence to those whose crimes, whose, yes, sins evoke that fear, cannot be assured of the permanent incarceration of such criminals for the protection of the rest of humanity..

"More evil than sin?" The Domestication of Sin

Pope Francis spoke to the International Association of Penal Law, and rightly decried the evil that those with power over others may commit, even if exercising that power is just, even if detention is just, even if punishment is just.

Sins committed by the powerful are almost always more grave than those attempted by the powerless.

But then:
Corruption is a process of death … more evil than sin. An evil that, instead of being forgiven, must be cured.
Huh? Such corruption IS sin.

And are there other sins which shouldn't be cured?

Isn't that kind of what the trumoil of the last month, lasy year, is about?
Some in authority in the Church suggesting that there are sins we just kinda need to... well, domesticate?
And then they can just go their merry way?

The Holy Father needs  a more careful "speech writer," if he is not up to the task.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Welcoming Church?

Quote of the Week:
None of us are welcomed on our own terms in the Church. We are welcomed on Jesus’ terms.  That’s what it means to be a Christian. You submit yourself to Jesus and his teaching. You don’t re-create your own body of spirituality.

"Maybe we don't have to tell people they're wrong...."

I am not going to caricature the position of this Catholic media commentator the way she see fit to caricature Cardinal Burke's.

Because she is, after all, appearing on a secular news program.

And maybe she has to soft pedal hard truths, and even dumb down what the Church teaches, since her audience is not people who are already committed to Catholic teaching, like,  the readers and viewers of Catholic media, or say... oh, I don't know, another cardinal or even a whole group of senior churchmen discussing dogmas, doctrines and disciplines,  like, you know, say... a synod.

Because if you weren't playing to, let's say, people who are either ignorant of Church teaching, or people who have already made it clear they don't believe in Church teaching, you would be able to, in fact you would need to speak a little more.... pardon me, Pope Francis, but meticulously.

We already have plenty of putative Catholics who haven't a clue to what the Church teaches. Do we really want to affirm them in their cluelessness?

I don't know about you, but most of us Catholics don't minister to our brothers and sisters in the same words with which we express our beliefs.

But if we can't know and define and express those beliefs than how can we ever share them with those who don't yet belong fully to the Body of Christ, what are we going to be able to do for our brothers and sisters? give them a hug and a piece of meatloaf? isn't there more to the Church than making people feel okay in this life?

Don't you think, or won't you at least give him the benefit of the doubt, that Cardinal Burke knows how to speak pastorally when being pastoral is called for?
But when discussing doctrine, don't you want him to be able to say a bit more than, Oh, sin, schmin, what's it matter as long as you're a nice person?

And don't we need doctrine?
Don't we want the lost sheep to know what's waiting for them when they come home?

One last thing, Miss Ambrosio, are you telling us that there are people who "might not be quite perfect in our eyes" as if there were people who ARE "perfect in our eyes"?

"Our eyes"?
Who's the "we" here? 'Cause I don't know of any Catholic leaders making distinctions between these people who are or aren't "perfect."

Somedays, it takes me longer to read "Eye of the Tiber" than to read "The New York Times"

Eye's been knockin'em out of the park.

New Evidence Reveals The Mass Was Founded In 1965

Mass Meme (1)

ICEL Calls For All-Meme Missal Translation For Youth Masses

Homily Never Going To End, Sources Confirm



Why, Yes, I Suppose You Could Describe the Sistine Chapel as Stylish

I guess I am not surprised at how peeved many people are by the Porsche/Vatican collaboration.

What bothers me is that people who like to wax indignant tend to save their indignation for people and institutions with whom and which they already had an ax to grind.

It disturbs me how members of the chattering class on both fringes of the societal/eccesiastical fabric are sniping at the Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Because, you know, he is one of my top two most favorite popes now living.....

I Did Not Know That Amnesty International Considered Campaigning For Abortion To Be Part of Their Mission

But now that I do know  that I deeply regret ever having contributed to them.

(I was looking at them because of the Detroit/Water problems, on which I firmly sided with AI until I heard that after shut-offs something in the area of 85% of those who couldn't pay anything on their water bill find that they somehow can... now I am undecided. And I am aware that major news media are not infallible.)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

"Learning Fundamentals Of Catholic Doctrine"

From Eye of the Tiber, too funny:
VATICAN–It was announced today that a second synod, tentatively scheduled for mid-January, will solely focus on learning the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church.
The news comes just days after Pope Francis asked synod participants to “speak clearly,” encouraging them to speak openly.  “Let no one say, ‘This can’t be said, they will think this or that about me.’ Everything we feel must be said, without fear,” Francis said. After reading the badly translated, and what many have called “severely flawed” report called Relatio Post Disceptationem, Francis has since regretted the decision to ask the synod fathers to speak openly, supposedly overestimating their intelligence.
An adviser to Pope Francis has since suggested that before moving on with another synod on the family, that the synod fathers learn some of the basics of Catholicism.
At press time, Pope Francis has issued a statement to those who will be participating in future synods, saying, “Let everyone say, ‘This can’t be said, they will think this or that about me.’ Everything we feel must be kept quiet, with fear, especially if you are going to make a Kaspar out of yourself.”
Can't remember where I heard it but someone said it was important for the Cardinal to remember that each of them was a "Prince of the Church," not "the Prince Harry of the Church."

Which is worse for a committed Catholic?

To be "doctrinaire"?

Or to be "doctrine-LESS"?

Wanted to Create a Mess? "Mission Accomplished!"

I'm liking Bishop Tobin of Providence more and more.
He has a pretty down to earth take on the just past Extraordinary Synod.

Among other thoughts, (one of which was a friendly dig at a heterodox periodical and at a sometimes over-wrought and over-combative priestly blogger whose initials are "Father Zuhlsdorf"):
— Have we learned that it’s probably not a good idea to publish half-baked minutes of candid discussions about sensitive topics, especially when we know that the secular media will hijack the preliminary discussions for their own agendas?
— I wonder what the Second Vatican Council would have looked like and what it would have produced if the social media had existed at that time......

— Wherever he serves, Cardinal Burke will be a principled, articulate and fearless spokesman for the teachings of the Church. ....
Relax. God’s still in charge.

No Official English Version of the Rite of Exorcism?

There are a few liturgical matters on the USCCB's fall meeting agenda.
The bishops will vote on a revision of the current (1989) translation of the rite of dedication of a church and altar, vote on the first-ever official translation of the current rite of exorcism, and discuss modifications to the Revised Grail Psalms, which are eventually expected to be used in a revised English translation of the Liturgy of the Hours.
In addition, the bishops will consider a new supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours, which would take into account saints canonized in the last three decades, and discuss ministry to those with Celiac disease.
I remember how much work it was to put together orders for completely sung LotHs for the Triduum at my old parish.
There were differences of opinion as to what versions of the psalms and canticles I should be setting, and what were the easiest tones for a congregation, and whether the psalm prayers needed to be there, and finding proper hymns...

Liturgical wasteland in which I now reside, I didn't appreciate that parish enough at the time....

But enough -- really? there was no English exorcism option?

No wonder nobody does'em....

USCatholic Shilling for Assisted Suicide?

The "catholic" periodical understandably covers the Brittany Maynard, killing-herself-in-a-few-weeks-and-hoping-to-convince-others-to-do-the-same-or-at-least-to-vote-for-laws-condoning-the-actions-of-those-who-want-to-commit-suicide story..

But for readers wishing to get the "full story" they link to the same commercial from the Hemlock society Care and Compassion that all the news channels showed.

(Compassion, IIRC, means "to suffer with," so it seems an odd name for the Hemlock society to have chosen. since its member work hard to see to it that there isn't anyone with whom they might have to suffer.)

Laudably, a (presumably Catholic,) reader reminds us how watching, and waiting with and praying with and being with the dying can be "a truly graced time," though not easy.

I suspect many suicides think they are saving someone else from the suffering others experience observing their suffering.

It is not a stretch to think there are even those who would not kill themselves if they didn't feel obligated not to put their loved ones and the system through it all, to save them the trouble and the cost. (I believe I recall some politicians hoping to save healthcare costs have even said as much about the "duty" of the old or sick.)

But the phrase that stood out for me in Caitlyn Schmid gloosy take on suicide was the phrase, Maynard’s death is inevitable.


As if there were someone whose death was NOT?

Are there some of us who are going to get out of this world alive, Ms Schmid?

Then there's your story.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom, Loiter in the Sistine Chapel, Dine With President Bush...

... or any recent US president.

All of these can be/could have been yours, if you pony up.

Let's be honest about what is for sale or rent.

Sealed With a Kiss

Adoremus Magazine has the USCCB's CDW's explanatory note about the Circular Letter  from its Vatican counterpart trying to rein in the silliness that pervades the exchange of peace at too many parishes.
The history is interesting to me.
Full disclosure, my current parish generally omits the Peace, but it is in the interest of shaving 15 seconds off the time the pastor spends in church rather than for any theological or liturgical leanings.
Fuller disclosure, I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE the Exchange of Peace, but again, not for any actual theological or liturgical reasons, but for the circus it has almost always been in my experience. If every place performed the gesture with the attitude I experienced at a monastery, once, and once only, I would be leading the charge to get my pastor to instate the practice, with proper catechesis.
But the level of reverence and the depth of religious fervour and the gist of most vocalization by the participants is about the same as all those things as they are performed at the K of C Pancake Breakfast that might follow.
There is no religious ritual enacted, there is no prayer being made
School Mass, IME, are the worst, but Sundays, when the ritual dialogue is likely to be, Hey, how are ya? see you at the scramble next Saturday, got a foursome already? is not much better.

But apart from its typical practice, what is the reason it is so despised by those who line up on the more formal side of the liturgical and cultural divide?
And apart from the chance to stick it to those people, what is the reason it is so championed by those who line up on the other side of the liturgical and cultural divide?

It strikes me as so much in political conflict does, positions chosen to maintain party lines, not for any real principle. (Else, why would you have people who think the government impinges on ones freedom by regulating business practices, but not by regulating sexual practices? And vice versa?)

There're a lot of cases of, Well, if HE likes it, I'm ag'in' it! going around.

Sometimes, the same seems to go for the placement of the Pax - there is one school of progressive liturgical thought that seems to despise any practice in which the Latin Church might be like Her more So this caught my eye:
Among early Christians (e.g., Tertullian), the kiss of peace was seen as a seal placed on prayer. This gesture became a stable element of the liturgies of the early Christian world, including in the city of Rome. At Rome, it may have initially occurred after the Prayer of the Faithful which concluded the Lit-urgy of the Word. In such a position, the kiss of peace was viewed as a sign of mutual love before offering sacrifice (Mt 5:23-24). The Eastern liturgical families retained this placement and adopted this perspective.
For reasons not entirely clear to liturgical scholars, the exchange of peace in the Roman Rite developed along different lines and with a different theological emphasis. In North Africa, Saint Augustine was already familiar with the practice of exchanging peace after the Eucharistic Prayer. In a letter written in the year 416, Pope Saint Innocent I, responding to a list of liturgical queries from Bishop Decentius of Gubbio, writes that in the Roman liturgy, the only proper moment for the exchange of peace is after the Eucharistic Prayer and before Communion. Instead of the emphasis on reconciliation as found in the Eastern liturgies, St. Innocent justifies this placement as an expression of the assembly’s consent to what the priest has just prayed in the Eucharistic Prayer, and the community’s “seal” on the priest’s sacred actions — an embodied extension of the Great Amen (cf. Epistola 25 Decentio Augubino 1, 4).
(Speaking of Adoremus, r.i.p., Helen Hull Hitchcock, what an enormous, enormous service she performed for the Church in America. May the Lord reward her!)

'Cause That's What the Theater-going Experience Needs

Himself alerted me to this, it doesn't bother me particularly in this case, because, well.... Mamma Mia

But the handwriting is on the wall, "public entertainment" is a different animal than it was just a short time ago, and it will not be getting better any time soon if ever.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Bravo, Bishop Farrell

Exactly right, we help because we are catholic".
I am sure that some of you have heard the news that Ms. Louise Troh, her son and nephews are now out of the 21-day quarantine period for Ebola. We thank God that they are now and have always been symptom free. You may remember that Ms. Troh was the fiancée of Thomas Eric Duncan, who lost his battle with Ebola ... Ms. Troh and her family found refuge at our diocesan Conference and Formation Center in Oak Cliff where they stayed in one of the casas in a remote corner on the grounds.
 I was asked by reporters this morning why I said yes to the request from Mayor Mike Rawlings and Judge Clay Jenkins to offer housing for Ms. Troh and her family.  I told them that I did pause to think of all of the possibilities but that when I asked myself “What would Jesus do?” I knew that we had to help.  Certainly, the Catholic Church has a long history of helping those in need and Ms. Troh and her family were and remain in need.  Another reporter referenced the fact that the family is not Catholic.  I explained that we don’t help because someone is Catholic, we help because we are Catholic

R I P, Oscar de la Renta

I know nothing about the man personally, except that, fairly unusually for a male designer of our time, he was married.
To a woman.

But anyone who created such beauty in the world deserves our thanks, and now prayers.

A Suggestion, in the Interest of Comprehension

It would make me very happy if every time someone within Vatican City had something to say or write for public consumption, if they would arrange for  that elderly Bavarian gentleman who lives there to take the time to ghostwrite it.

Get him to agree, whether he holds the same position as you or not, Cardinal X or Monsignor Y, to do us all the service of making it possible for the world at large to at least understand what the heck it is you are trying to say?

I know we should all strive for "reading for comprehenison," as teachers said in the antediluvian times of my schooldays, but it must be said that many highly placed persons seem to make little effort at writing for comprehension or speaking for comprehension.

I make allowances for those trying to communicate in non-native languages, but couldn't the translators be appointed for, I don't know... fluency?

"No One is Forced to Be a Christian"

A new (to me,) blog by a Father Bede Rowe, (who has a charming Father Brownish avi,) highlights this bit of commonsense from the Pope Emeritus, spoken back when he was plain ol' Joe Ratz.
When, for example, in the name of non-discrimination, people try to force the Catholic Church to change her position on homosexuality or the ordination of women, then that means that she is no longer allowed to live out her own identity and that, instead, an abstract negative religion is being made into a tyrannical standard that everyone must follow... 
The danger is that reason - so-called Western reason - claims that it has now really recognized what is right and thus makes a claim to totality that is inimical to freedom...
No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the "new religion" as though it alone were definitive and obligatory for all mankind.
Common sense... what a lovely concept.

Like the news, only important...