Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Sunday, 22 November 2015

"In a nod to Pope Francis's humble style, alongside the figures from the story of Jesus's birth will be sculptures of ordinary people, including a man supporting an elderly person in need."

Right, because no Neapolitan presepio ever contained poor shepherds, or beggars, or boys on crutches, strangers, or slaves, or old people, or any cross-section of humanity until now.

(This is akin to the msm reports that Pope Benedict signalled his support of environmental causes by wearing green vestments...)

Well, Merry Charade.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Rites of Winter

Why didn't Stravinsky or Orff write something for us?
Image result for oldest woman in the world
Old people.
Shouldn't we have something vigorous and sensual and beautiful?
I digress.
Christmas approacheth, and being firmly in the lazy camp, I am happy to decry the glossing over of Advent in favor of the Buying Season. CHRISTMAS LASTS 40 DAYS AFTER CHRISTMAS DAY.

Image result for pee wee herman
.. and it's a big "but"...
... some things simply must be done ahead of time if they are to be done at all..

Thus, the Rites of (Late Autumn, but let's call if) Winter!
I shall be on the road when I should be pouring brandy and rum and deliciousness over a fruitcake, so I have baked one today and doused it with the only rich alcohol to hand, (except a birthday single malt scotch of Himself's, which tastes and smells like fabric softener to me and does not enter into the equation,) cream sherry.

I am very eager to see how it turns out.

You know, I always feel sorry for people who hate fruitcake - they never tasted my Mother's.
Her Christmas baking, and trying to reflect in some small measure, the same, - after Mass and Family, it is IT for me.

Coquamo, ergo sum (christiana.) 

I realized I need to make it tonight if it was to be done, so I used what was to hand - dried blueberries feature prominently, as do almonds, pecans would have been my choice, if I had more of them, and dang it!!!! no raisins!
Bu my Mother actually hated raisins, even golden ones, (my fave,) so it's more fitting that I used only dates.
And she hated coffee, but I use a bit of strong brew in the recipe I've settled on after a few years, so that can be a little tribute to my Father, who enjoyed a cup of joe.
And now that I think of it, he was a near-teetotaller, and twice a year, anniversary and New Year's Eve, sipped a half a glass of sherry, so there you are.

Lord Jesus, we approach Your coming as man -- Christmass, quickly come!

Doe God Hate Sin? Should We?

Honestly, I had no idea this was even a question, but I keep stumbling across people saying, more or less, that we are not to hate sin.

The cliche of "loving the sinner but hating the sin," is described as a mischaracterization, bastardization, an embarrassment, a sin and a total abomination.
It is damned as "flying in the face of everything Jesus said."
And most thrillingly, its usefulness is called into question -- because really, isn't process, utility, pragmatism the really meat and potatoes of our faith? -- as we are told that “the distinction between sin and sinner no longer works.”
(In all honesty, that link is to a quote of a translation of an overheard.... well, you get the idea.)

God hates, or so we're told, and I don't mean by vile wretches like the preacher from Westboro Baptist.

We're actually told in the Bible, that there are sins God hates.
Shouldn't we as well?

In all honesty, the anti-LTSHTS crowd seem fixated on certain sins. That claim that those who are pro-LTSHTS types are fixated on those same sins.

Maybe it's just me, but I have a sneaking suspicion the real source of division is that the antis don't really think those sins are sins.
(I was going to say "deep down," but their incredulity is pretty much bubbling up right there on the surface.)
Yeah, the conversations on "sin" always seem to end up dancing around what some call "pelvic issues."

There's a good reason for this, and it's not that the pros are obsessed with them, is that they're the only sins, if sins they be, that have people campaigning in favor of them!
Nobody presents for communion wearing a sash proclaiming his fealty to the Embezzlers' Agenda.
No one is seeking equal rights for Cannibals.

Fr Hunwicke had a good idea, that if you are trying to get down to brass tacks, to really see what your actual principles are, as opposed to warm-fuzzies, regarding sin, (you know, gradualism, use of the Internal Forum to resolve questions about whether you are in a state of grace, and here, whether you need to stop hating the sin if you really love that sinner,) substitute for whatever you pet sin is, "paedophilia."

We love the paedophiliac, must we therefore love the paedophilia?

I'm guessing not.

So in that case, what the anti-LTSHTS should admit, is that they are saying that they don't have to hate the sin because it's not a sin.

Come to think of it,what about people like the, (now defunct,) preacher from Westboro Baptist?

I think his campaign, his activities, his words, all were utterly, unquestionably sinful.
I try not to hate such cruel people, I try to hope he did not condemn himself to eternal separation from the Father in a hell of his own design and choice.

So, if I succeed, if I don't hate him...

Am I also not supposed to hate his sins?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Ooh, wasn't that Dante guy a judgey sort?

In all honesty, I had never thought until now, it never occurred to me when reading Dante in school how antithetical the inferno of  the Comedìa is to the Catholic concept of hell, at least as it is expressed nowadays, when we never claim to be able to know who might be there.
It was a public high school, so the catholicity of its theology wasn't really on the radar.

In the middle ages did people so presume?

A Faithful Citizen had Two Sons, Second Draft

“What is your opinion?
A faithful citizen had two sons.
He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work to respect the dignity and life of every human person from conception until natural death..’  He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and did in some ways, but was more interested in peripheral causes.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but when it came down to it, really, isn't burning fossil fuels as bad as dismembering babies in the womb? isn't  refusing to give a guy a job worse than giving him poison when he's going through depression?
For which of the two should his father vote?"

Human Resources Office at the Vatican

Who does the hiring? is there someone like this,

Image result for toby in the office
whom all the folk in every department hate because they are required to take sensitivity training, and answer on sexual harassment charges?

Or someone like this,
Image result for michael in the office
who is the reason everyone else is so required?

In any case, are we really surprised that this hire, (the mustachioed lady on the left,)

Image result for Chaouqui naked
proved not the best fit for working at the Vatican?
Well, I'm sure she'll land on her feet.

Image result for cardinal bertone happy
I'm not one of those wacky German Cardinals, but can I get in on some of that schadenfreude stuff? Maybe with a nice chianti....

Friday, 20 November 2015

A Faithful Citizen had Two Sons, First Draft

“What is your opinion?
A faithful citizen had two sons.
He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work to respect the dignity and life of every human person from conception until natural death..’  He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and did in some ways, but was more interested in peripheral causes. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but when he had the chance didn't do much so that he could keep that issue in play to fire up his base.
For which of the two should his father vote?"

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

You Know What's Shameful? BOTH Sides Trying to Score Political Points With the Survival of, the Very Lives of Refugees

The Democratic President and the Republican Presidential Candidates? quit you smarmy politicking and tell the truth and be human!
Last year the president of the USCCB quoted the late, great James, Cardinal Hickey, "we serve others not because they are Catholic, but because we are."
Don't we do the honorable, the decent thing for other people because we are Americans?

There are people, running campaigns and running states, flat out saying, No more Syrian refugees, not in my back yard.

Said President Obama,
"Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values," he said. "Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both."
Good, so far.But then,
President Obama decried the calls from some to stop accepting Syrian refugees after the attacks in Paris, saying it would be "a betrayal of our values....And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who's fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that's shameful. That's not American. That’s not who we are."
Um, yeah it is. It IS who we are.
Refugees are prioritized, and religion IS one way our country does so.
We expect to admit some 1,600-1,800 Syrian refugees in FY 2015.
And that, prior to the current anguish and anger over security! That is a shamefully low number, (and the Republican presidential race doesn't bear the blame for that one.)
allocate admissions among refugees “of special humanitarian concern to the United States in accordance with a determination made by the President after appropriate consultation.”
• Priority 1 – Individual cases referred to the program by virtue of their circumstances and apparent need for resettlement;

• Priority 2 – Groups of cases designated as having access to the program by virtue of their circumstances and apparent need for resettlement;

• Priority 3 – Individual cases from designated nationalities granted access for purposes of reunification with family members already in the United States.

#2 includes
The open-access model for Priority 2 group referrals... has functioned well in the in-country programs, including the long-standing programs in X and the X, and in X. It was also used successfully for Xfor nearly thirty years (1980-2009), X refugees during the 1990s, and is now in use for Xian religious minorities, Xs with links to the United States, and minors from X, X, and Xs with lawfully present parents in the United States.
This Priority 2 designation applies to Jews, Evangelical Christians, and Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox religious adherents identified in the Lautenberg Amendment...
Included in this Priority 2 program are human rights activists, members of persecuted religious minorities, former political prisoners, forced-labor conscripts, and persons deprived of their professional credentials or subjected to other disproportionately harsh or discriminatory treatment resulting from their perceived or actual political or religious beliefs.
So it's pretty dishonest to claim that there isn't already a "religious test," for expedited asylum procedures.
In fact, I have read that a finding that "genocide" is taking place is about to facilitate the admission of members of one Syrian religious minority to the US. (Whereas the attempted extermination of another Syrian religious minority, which just happens to be a majority in this country, is not being granted the status of genocide, and have thus far been pretty much shut out of relocation to the US, but that's another matter...)

And I don't think it's particularly honest to assert that lawmakers and governors who don't have complete trust in federal screening processes are only expressing concerns for partisan reasons.

That said, the politicians jumping all over this and demanding a "pause" in what is so far a pitiful show of welcoming the stranger at best seem to be having a knee-jerk reaction, in view of the time it takes for  screening now, and wouldn't it be nice if people looked into what they are talking about before the talked about it?

Disappointed in EWTN Nightly News

I expect slant from EWTN's other, (senior,) major news program, (Raymond Arroyo has a skill in inflecting words to make virtually everything he says editorial rather than reportage,) but I hope for more from the Brian Patrick anchored "News Nightly."

While reporting on the USCCB meeting and their disucssion of the voters' guide usually referred to as "Faithful Citizneship" yesterday, a reporter claimed that it, "says a Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who votes in favor of abortion," which I think is not true.
In what I believe is the most current available edition, Forming Faithful Citizens guidance is more nuanced than that.
On page 11:
34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.
[emphasis supplied]
One might wish it were a bit more doctrinaire, but it is dishonest to claim that it says what we wish for it to have said.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

And Speaking of Sin....

... did you know there was an item of medieval female dress known as "the Gates of Hell"?
(It offered too tantalizing glimpses of the womanly shape of the wearer.)
And yes, I know, Internet, anything could be a Montauk Monster, is it nonsense fabricated just to demonstrate how cowed by threats of eternal damnation and woman-shaming the Age of Faith mind was, as opposed to our enlightened and superstition-free minds, (because modern man is so provincial -- his province being his own era -- that he cannot conceive of anyone having had a sense of humor in days of yore.)
But Egan and Pritchard. (or is it Pritchard and Egan?)

Speaking of Kryptonite...

... sin is ours.
It is poison.
It is toxic.
There is no "mercy" in sitting back sipping your post-prandial port or brandy while someone else is enjoying poison.
And it is even worse to pass him the decanter.

"I say, old boy, I wouldn't touch it, but feel free... care for a splash with that anti-freeze?  Carson, would you fetch---"
Image result for cigars at downton

"Don't be an ass....he will have a syrup of ipecac cocktail and stop being so suburban.".
Image result for after dinner drinks at downton

Monday, 16 November 2015

It's Like ISIS Kryptonite!

The British "Green Party" rightly declares that it's "important to ensure that we [do] not act in ways that fuel ISIS and terrorism," and that, "We cannot let the actions of extremists dictate our response to the ongoing refugee crisis.”
But then they take a wrong turn into cray-cray town:
World leaders must find a way forward that defeats ISIS using the weapon that these terrorists fear most of all, peace talks.
Yeah, I had the same reaction.
Everyone knows what the Islamic Daesh terrorists fear most.
Image result for bacon

"What can we do on this point to finally attain communion?"

Erm... enter into communion, maybe?
I do not understand such questions, or rather, I do not understand the asking of such questions as this-
I’m [a Lutheran married to] a Roman Catholic Christian. We have been living happily together for many years, sharing joys and sorrows. And, therefore, it’s quite painful to be divided in the faith and to be unable to take part together in the Lord’s Supper. What can we do on this point to finally attain communion?
I do not understand the asking, when there is a clear answer, one that no one has ever hidden, that is widely proclaimed, broadly advertised: come into full communion with the Church, profess what the Church teaches, become a member of the Church.

If you believe what the Church teaches you know this and there should be no problem.
If you don't believe what the Church teaches you know this and you already know what the problem is.
If the Church is Who She says She is, you should be beating down the doors to be a member. If She isn't why would you want in?

And strangely, the gentleman to whom you addressed the question, the Successor of Peter? is himself actually part of the answer, from what I know of Lutheranism.
As I say, I think I understand the question.
But as usual, I don't really understand the answer given.
It’s not easy for me to respond to your question about sharing in the Lord’s Supper. especially in the presence of a theologian such as Cardinal Kasper. I’m afraid!
I think the Lord has said it to us, when He gave this mandate: “Do this in memory of me.” And when we share the Lord’s Supper, we recall and imitate, we do the same thing that the Lord Jesus did. And there will be the Lord’s Supper, there will be the last banquet in the New Jerusalem, but it will be the last.
Instead on the journey, I wonder – and I don’t know how to answer, but I make your question my own,  -- I wonder: is the sharing of the Lord’s Supper the end of a journey or the viaticum to journey together? I leave the question to the theologians, to those who understand.
It’s true that in a certain sense to share is to say that there are no differences between us, that we have the same doctrine – I stress the word, a word that is difficult to understand – but I wonder: don’t we have the same Baptism? And if we have the same Baptism, we must walk together.
You are also a testimony of a profound journey, because it’s a conjugal journey, in fact, a family journey, of human love and shared faith. We have the same Baptism. When you feel yourself a sinner – I also feel myself very much a sinner – when your husband feels himself a sinner, you go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness; your husband does the same and goes to the priest and asks for absolution. They are remedies to keep Baptism alive. When you pray together, that Baptism grows, it becomes strong; when you teach your children who Jesus is, why Jesus came, what Jesus did for us, do the same, be it in Lutheran language or in Catholic language, but it’s the same.
The question: and the Supper? There are questions to which only if one is sincere with oneself and with the few theological “lights” that I have, the same must be answered, you see to it. “This is my Body, this is my Blood,” said the Lord, “do this in memory of me,” and this is a viaticum that helps us to walk.
I had a great friendship with an Episcopalian Bishop, 48, married, with two children, and he had this anxiety: his wife was Catholic, his children were Catholics, he was a Bishop. On Sundays he accompanied his wife and his children to Mass and then he went to worship with his community. It was a step of participation in the Lord’s Supper. Then he went on, the Lord called him, a righteous man.
I answer your question only with a question: what can I do with my husband so that the Lord’s Supper accompanies me on my way? It’s a problem to which each one must respond. But a friend who was a Pastor said to me: “We believe that the Lord is present there. He is present. You believe that the Lord is present. And what is the difference?” Alas, they are explanations, interpretations ...” Life is greater than explanations and interpretations. Always make reference to Baptism: “One faith, one Baptism, one Lord,” so Paul says to us, and from there take the consequences. I would never dare to give permission to do this because it’s not my competence. One Baptism, one Lord, one faith. Speak with the Lord and go ahead. I don’t dare say more.
He doesn't dare say more.

"Friendsgiving" is Twaddle, Whatever the Impulse That Drives It

Received various ads urging me to purchase things for "Friendsgiving."
Heard the word a little bit a year ago, maybe even two, but this year, like a rash from the adhesive used in the production of cheap Chinese sneakers that starts innocuously on your feet -- it's spreading!

Bothered me.
Came across this:
The word ‘Friendsgiving’ annoys me in ways I probably need to see a therapist. It’s not that I don’t love a good portmanteau. It’s that:
1. This isn’t one (it doesn’t roll off the tongue like “turducken” or “cronut” or “spork”).
2. It’s been awkwardly co-opted by advertisers
3. It implied that a Thanksgiving celebrated just with friends is somehow not a real Thanksgiving
How do you feel about sharing your Thanksgiving with friends over family?

Hmmm...blame CNN? Happy to.

And I share the writer's annoyance with any implication that a Thanksgiving enjoyed with friends is "lesser," because such celebrations obviously have precedent (wasn't the first Thanksgiving in this country very much about a feast shared with PEOPLE, OH NO, OF DIFFERENT ETHNICITY AND RACIAL BACKGROUND AND EVEN "OH"IER AND "NO"IER, DIFFERENT BELIEFS ABOUT THE ALMIGHTY both Puritans and Native Americans?)

But I don't think that is the basis of the impulse to replace "thanks" with "friends."

I think the real source of this word's creation was embarrassment of those who don't believe in a Creator.

Because you see, it was just about the same time as the birth of the Friendsgiving phenomenon that religious-minded persons began noticing that atheists were just as gluttonous as we, and began snarkily asking, "Who exactly is it that you are thanking?"
I'm not talking about actual, thoughtful atheists, I'm talking about the Bratty Atheist* movement.

Last year, in an effort not to offend potential customers or constituents, some advertisers, and magazines, and politicians seemed to very carefully change phrases that would have been something like, "it's a time to give thanks for family and friends" to "it's a time to give thanks TO family and friends."

And this new holiday name avoids the completely the pitfall of implying their might be a God.

My take on it, anyway.

(You know them - they are like your little brother who moves his fingers around about a half inch from your nose, you're elbow your ear, "I'm not touching you. I'm not touching you. I'm not touching you...." They want your attention so badly they can't just get on with their own business, they have to keep reminding you that they don't believe in God even though NOBODY CARES, NOBODY ASKED THEM.)

"Europe, You Will Pay"

I have two very different circles of "friends" on Facebook, (some of both genuinely are friends as opposed to "friends,") one very right wing, one very left, both politically and socially.

I  grow weary, at times, of the posts of both. (Note - none of them support anyone but Carson and Sanders. No Rubio, no Clinton, no Bush, no O'Malley... moderation is in short supply.)

And I have knee jerk reactions to many posts but besides being weary, I am wary - so often a stance, even one with which I utterly agree, is supported by some obvious lie or absurdity. "Evidence" is provided in the form of graphs or listicles that are patently false.
But it isn't always obvious, and I try to stay in low-to-medium dudgeon until I investigate a bit.

Right now in the wake of the Paris Massacre, propagandists for both anti-Islamic Fundamentalism partisans, and anti-Islamophobia partisans are working at capacity.

There's a photo that runs with the "see I told you so" posts and blogs and tweets, without apparent irony, where in addition to the, "Behead the Infidel" signs, there's a swarthy and swathed protester carrying a placard that say, "Europe you will pay."
Seems plausible.
But his slogan continues,  "Fantastic 4 are on the way!!!"
 Vaxandi vandamál í hinum vestræna heimi.
Hence, my initial reaction - these people, over-eager to convince everyone of the dangers of a Muslim Europe, have used someone's, (the Onion's perhaps?) completely fake, staged photo unwittingly. (The saintly Eccles is not among the over-eager dupes, of course, as.... well, as he's Eccles. He is wittingly witty.)
An Icelandic site, not much help, as my Icelandic is only googlish, in fact, I thought it was Finnish, at first.)
But only a very little bit more effort, and I am comfortable thinking that this is indeed a photo of a real and hate-filled demonstration, with a minor photo-shopped joke, (from a number of years ago.)
Protest on Friday
Maybe I am a sap, but I have at least a little trust in the BBC, (not it's opinions, but it's facts.)

The technology that allows one to look into such matters is, of course, the same technology that makes the spread of misinformation possible.

Those Interwebs giveth, and those Interwebs taketh away.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Why I Am Not an Extraordinary Minister

I've been asked, numerous times, multiple parishes. You're always here anyway, you know how to do things at church, you'd be good at  it, we always need more people....
I would do it, I have done it, for home visits.
But not in the context of a liturgy.
The excuse I usually make is m eczema, my skin condition. Heck, most of the time, I wouldn't eat anything my hands have touched, (and I imagine the Blessed Sacrament would not be improved by condiments such as Bag Balm or hydrocortisone ointment. Just a guess.)
But back in the day of school Masses another faculty member, (who was an EM,) was going on a tear about kids who present for Communion with filthy hands or fake tattoos all over their palms drawn with Sharpies and how she insisted they receive on the tongue and that they had better not present themselves like that tomorrow.
And I told her that I had seen too many people present for the Sacrament in a manner that made it very clear that they had no idea what they were about to receive, I had seen people strolling back down the aisle and casually breaking off a chunk of Jesus to give someone else, I had seen people look at the Host in their hands with such a quizzical expression on their faces that there was no doubt that they were not Catholic or even, perhaps, Christian, I had seen people go to stick Him in their pockets only to be chased down by ushers, I had come across the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ stuck in the pages of a missallette.... I couldn't do it.

I could not stand at the head of the aisle giving the Body and Blood of Christ to everyone knowing the profanation that was, I will not say "probable," but certainly possible, and occurring with a hideous frequency; yet I am sure this is the task, is it not?

The bar is very high for a non-ordained minister to refuse someone Communion. (I am no John Wesley.) It would make me sick to wonder if with every ministration I was risking participation in the profanation of the Sacrament, but I could hardly do other than to give the Host to anyone who presented.

I hadn't thought of this in a while, but I helped out with Communion at a rest home today. (Very short of healthy priests, just a Liturgy of the Word with Communion.
These are all long term residents, no one is on the road to recovery, no one will be leaving alive.
Quite a few non-Catholics, even some non-Christians in attendance - it is something to do, something to break the monotony and provide human contact. It is always thus at nursing homes, old age homes, etc.
One man wanted my attention while the EM was distributing, his roommate was not a Catholic, he insisted, and always took Communion at these things, look at him there, big as life waiting in line, I had to do something about it!

I told him, (I think this is more or less accurate?) that according to canon law it is not up to any minister of Communion, ordained or extraordinary, to deny the sacrament to anyone who presents without moral certainty that that person may not receive, and that the nun religious sister directing the service took his word, hadn't she? she had accepted him as a Catholic without insisting on seeing his "permanent record,", and would take the word of his roommate, as well, all things being equal.

That seemed to sooth him, the mention of canon law, and my acknowledging his concerns even if I offered no remedy, so he went on, (there were many extraneous conversations going on throughout the service,) that the fellow would go to the Methodist services too, and that he was "mentally ill" and was there in the home because of his dealings with Satanism and theDevil, (which are, I believe, two different things?)

That rocked me back on my heels a bit, I admit.

But if he is indeed mentally ill, there is no sin in actions which he cannot help.
And besides, he receives on the tongue. And he does so, so easily, I cannot believe it is not an action in which he has engaged for a good part of his life. (And he consumes the Host.)

And he knows the words and tune to Holy God We Praise Thy Name, (seldom if ever heard in Protestant congregations hereabouts.)

And finally, he says his Hail Mary fluently and unaffectedly.

If he is not Catholic, he is certainly not a devil-worshipper, and if receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is not something he has done most of his life, it is something that does him good, and nourishes his soul and prepares him for a voyage that is not, I think, too far off.

Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Dei, Intercédite Pro Nobis

And especially for the peoples of France and the rest of Europe.

St Germaine, intercede for them.
St. Denis, intercede for them.
St Joan of Arc, intercede for them.
St. Louis, intercede for them.
St. Genevieve, intercede for them.
St. Martin of Tours, intercede for them.
St. Remigius, intercede for them.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Mercy,  pray for us. 

Friday, 13 November 2015

Someone Who Has Actual Knowledge of the German "Church Tax"

Very interesting stuff about the way the Church tax is administered and the truth about the ontological reach of a Catholic opting out of the paying of such, in the combox at Catholic Herald
As someone who grew up in Germany I may be able to give some background information:
In order to no longer pay 'Kirchensteuer' you have to declare at the local council that you leave the 'Catholic Church.' Since the goverment is no religious institution this means that one is leaving the civil-law corporation 'Catholic Church in Germany,' without any deeper religious meaning (and courts have made it clear that the goverment can only deal with civil law and have to leave everything else to the Church). The German bishops used to claim that this was tantamount to Apostasy, but a few years ago Rome told them that this was not the case. As a result, the German bishops introduced the crime of leaving the civil corporation, which is to be punished with de-facto Interdict - and recently the bishops decided that you can be teacher in a Catholic school if you live in a civil-partnership with some same-sex partner, but that you are sacked more or less automatically for the sin of de-registering from the civil-law coporation. (Oddly enough, foreigners moving to Germany and simply not registering to the civil-law corporation can receive the sacraments).
However, I guess that the tide is changing - if the German bishops join some Kasperite heresy (as most of them are likely to do so, although hopefully not all), many orthodox Catholics will refuse to fund them any longer, and it is hard to imagine that orthodox priests will pay any attention to this register any longer (it may be necessary to get married abroad, though, because there could be problems with the paperwork). I have been already taught by an long-standing German parish priest that de-registering was maybe not yet morally necessary (this was Pre-Synod) but would in his eyes not be a problem either.
The real tragedy is that the German Church could have done so many things with this money, but they use it to build up a giant administration and to dilute the Faith....

The Precious Blood, Sunday Dinner and Miracles

An "Ask Father" Q and A at Crux strikes me as ill-done.
First off, let me say that I do not know Fr Doyle, I'm sure he is a good man, and I have no issue with his sacramental theology, (since I also don't know it, and assume it is orthodox.)
But it is asked,
At Mass recently, after listening intently to the words of consecration, our 4-year-old granddaughter whispered to my wife, “Is wine really blood?” How would you answer her question? 
and the good Father answers, ultimately,
Now having said [various matters about Christ, Aquinas and the rejection of "hard sayings"], I don’t think your granddaughter needs to know all of that right now. Little children think in pictures, so I’m not sure that I would mention “body and blood” at all.
I might say something like, “It still tastes like wine, but it’s different now and special; it’s Jesus coming into our souls to help us to be good.”
which would differ from the beliefs of most Protestants how exactly?
Different, and special and "Jesus coming into our hearts" is precisely how a Methodist Youth Minister described their denom's understanding of the white bread and Welch's they had once a month.

An icky humanism has made many Catholics way too diffident in giving voice to any belief in which we differ from our separated siblings - it's a sad fact of modern life and religious expression in the public square.
But that a Catholic priest would suggest that in "intra-denominational" dialogue, (i.e. a Catholic grandparent speaking to a Catholic grandchild in the context of a Eucharistic liturgy,) the teachings of the Church, the teachings of Jesus Christ should be glossed over in answer to a direct question about the nature of the Eucharist?
Just NO.

Have you ever met a small child, can you even imagine the existence of one, who would not have been thrilled to know that she had just witnessed a miracle?
And that it was one she would be privileged to see repeated?
That something supernatural occurs?
That what happens was deliberately and specifically given to us BY GOD as a means of  receiving HIS LOVE, HIS GRACE? sharing in that?

So how about answering, "No, not all wine - but the Holy Spirit has just come to us in the Mass as Jesus promised and what seems to be wine is no longer wine but is the LIVING GOD"?
I'd probably go on, and if you don't quite "get" that, don't worry, neither does Grandma really, or anyone else, it's beyond human understanding, but God said it, God understands it, and that's good enough for me.

And just because I have a real bug about letting childrens' remarkable memories and ability to internalize truths without yet coming close to being able to comprehend go to waste, We call Jesus being there in what looks like bread and wine during Communion "the Real Presence."

And then I'd use the phrase "Real Presence" about a hundred more times after Mass and next time I had the kiddo with me within 50 miles of a Church.
Real Presence.
Real Presence.
Real Presence.
Real Presence.

When I was a kid our parish did not administer the sacrament under both species except rarely, (the one I attend now never does,) but I had received once or twice at an Eastern Rite Diving Liturgy.
The wine used was rich and sweet, (almost like a sherry, I think now looking back on it,) and of course, leavened bread, (which reminded me of babka.)
I was told that that was not how most wine tastes.
We had a roast of some sort almost every Sunday dinner, and although my parents were both medium-well people, (grayish meat!) the center was usually pink and luscious and produced copious drippings.
As it was being carved, one or the other of us would stand at my Dad's elbow hoping to be offered a spoonful, and never disappointed.
Somehow, in my head, with the whole wine/blood thing, I decided that THAT was what "regular" wine would taste like, and oh how I wanted to receive like that!
The first time I did receive the Precious Blood at communion at a Roman Catholic parish - well, it's almost sacrilegious to say so, I suppose, but I was sore disappointed. (Though not as disappointed as I would be if it had tasted like Welch's....)

In my experience, parishes seem to take and all or nothing approach toward offering the Chalice - it is either never, not even on major feastdays and special, solemn events, or it is every single Mass even on weekdays and at funerals and when in all other respects it is apparent that there is some pressure of time.

Don't understand it.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

"The Party of Life"?

Left asking yet again, is there such a thing?
Prominent Catholic and pro-life presidential candidate Jeb Bush told the Huffington Post that if he could go back in time to kill little baby Adolf Hitler he would. In fact, his considered moral response was "Hell yeah" and then he sat back in his best theological repose and thoughtfully added, "You gotta step up man."...
this is an extreme hypothetical and a silly conversation for a presidential candidate to have but his answer has obvious moral implications. It leaves the question of life up to a cost/benefit analysis. Would a baby do more good or evil if allowed to live? Depending on a best guess you could be snuffed out.
I know there's a lot of folks out there who would view many children born into an unfortunate situation and think the world is better off without them.
...And believe me, there's nothing in the world you can say to ingratiate yourself better with the HuffPo crowd than agreeing to kill babies. Dead babies are your invitation to the cool kids table.
When I was young there was a prominent politician who, though giving lip-service to his party's platform, when questioned in a more conversational setting said that if one of his daughters wanted an abortion of course it should be her choice!
"Who elses?" he asked rhetorically.
(No, no, we don't actually believe what we believe...)

"To Make the Sense of Love Triumph Within You"

Bravo, Holy Father!
I encourage you to continue your important work in favour of life from conception until its natural end... how can [we] genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo?...human life itself is a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement...[we must] protect the most vulnerable people, who have the right to be born into life, as well as those who ask for a healthier and more dignified existence...[we need] to work at different levels and with perseverance, in the promotion and defence of the family, society's foremost resource, especially with reference to the gift of children and the affirmation of the dignity of the woman....women, especially immigrants, who attend [crisis pregnancy care centers run by participants in the Congress of the Movement for Life] show that when women are offered concrete support, in spite of problems and influences, they are able to make the sense of love, life and maternity triumph within them.

Monday, 9 November 2015

The Way One "Lives Ones Sexuality"?

[A newly appointed Catholic archbishop has] said, “I have much respect for gays,” including “their way of living their sexuality.”
While that statement may be open to interpretation, it certainly will be seen as far more gay-friendly than [the new archbishop's predecessor].
No disrespect to either of the prelates in question, or to John Allen who reports this, but what are these multifarious interpretations?
Unless celibates are under discussion, I am having difficulty in ascribing more than one meaning to praise of a homosexual's "living [his ]sexuality."

Help me out here?

Communion, Unworthiness, Trendy Sins, Zizzania and the Sorrows of Post-lapsarian Humanity

Fr Ray Blake has a deeply thoughtful essay that should be read by everyone.


No perfunctory condemnations, no glib solutions - just thoughtfulness.(And fascinating anecdotes and erudition. Who knew? Cockles.)
What have we come to? I had a letter recently from a parishioner telling me he had fallen in love with another man and therefore wasn't going to be coming to Mass anymore!

The Gospel yesterday in the Old Rite was the wheat harvest sown with zizzania (translated as cockle), the owner tells the servants that rather than weeding out the weeds, to leave them until harvest time, 'lest the wheat also is lost'. The Second Vatican Council spoke about a 'universal call to holiness', what we seem to have difficulty with is coping with the fact that not everyone wants 'holiness', or at least wants to delay it until the last moment, or simply feels they are incapable of it
In the past we dealt with this by accepting people were at different places in their spiritual pilgrimage. Now I wonder if we have lost that flexibility. Chesterton's remark about the possibility of leaving an umbrella safely in any church, of any denomination, except a Catholic church, because in a Catholic church it was bound to be stolen, because Catholic churches are full of sinners, once contained a lot of truth. I remember certain London churches and certain continental churches that seemed to be full of ladies of certain character and men of  certain 'exotic' tendencies, all at the back or behind pillars or in side chapels praying with intensity, and slightly more reflectively 'pray for us sinners, now and the hour of death'.
One of our parishioners remembers as a young boy being told by the Parish Priest not to accept sweets from the then rather elderly Lord Alfred Douglas and another, now dead, told me that his mother didn't think it "safe", presumably in the modern sense of 'safeguarding', for children to come here on their own "because of the strange people who go to 'Mad Mary Mags'". If their parents didn't come with them they were sent to the posher and safer Sacred Heart Church next door in more select Hove. Graham Greene used to come here when he stayed in Brighton, he was friends, along with Belloc and Chesterton. with Mgr Wallis, who was Rector here until his death in 1950. I can well imagine that on a Sunday not only Rose but most of the characters from Brighton Rock turning up here at Mass. Maybe even Pinky came here at Christmas and Easter.
We have always taken it that the God 'tolerates' sin in the Church, and sin in its members. It hates sin but loves sinners and yet is formed of men and women who are sinners. In the inter and post-war Catholic novels of the great age of Catholic literary converts, who often had an ambiguous relationship with God themselves, there is a deep sense of the divided self, Sebastian Flyte deeply in love with his German lover and yet ultimately finding a relationship with God, that is quite saintly but which occasionally falls disastrously apart but he he always returns again and again, to care for the sick and to live alongside the brothers in the monastery that have taken him in. It seems typical of the light and dark motifs of Catholic literature and spirituality of those years, and tells the true story of Catholic pastoral care of those years.....
The older idea, still prevalent in Orthodoxy and certain declining branches of Protestantism, and amongst more ultra Traditionalists, that people should receive Communion only rarely, and then only after confession and a period of intensified fasting and penance, was the norm up until Pius X. In pre-Reformation England the norm was for Communion once a year, following Lateran IV's precept of reception at 'Easter or there abouts'. The confession, penance, prayer and rigorous fasting of Lent was the period of preparation....
if everyone is to receive the Eucharist, does it means that there is no room for the prostitute or the gay man or adulterer unable to control his sexual desires or the alcoholic or the wife beater or the paedophile or the murderous God hating gangster, or the simply confused, or just plain ordinary sinner with a divided soul who loves the idea of God but is too damaged to fully embrace him.
We are indeed all called to holiness but yet whilst virtue might indeed be growing in us like a rich crop of wheat, the zizzania flourishes too and maybe, until harvest time, it dominates. The problem is we see the weeds and God sees virtue. We are not the best judges in our own cause....[emphasis supplied]
we have never been a 'holiness cult' but a Church of sinners....
Is there a place in today's Church for the man who washes the wounds of the diseased and lights copious candles, faithfully tells his beads, yet has a penchant for a particular vice and then goes on a bender, throws his beads in the dustbin and a few weeks later, horrified is found kneeling outside the confessional or weeping before the statue of Our Lady? Is there place for the priest addicted to drink, or maybe nowadays porn, who claims he has lost his faith, yet is actually heroic in his fidelity? Is there a place for Saint Mark Ji Tianxiang, the opium addict, forbidden the sacraments for thirty years, yet had the courage to die for Christ.
Not certain what I think of any of this - do I receive the Blessed Sacrament too casually?
I had forgotten until just now, when I was younger there was a parish at which my Mother sang, my younger brother and I sometimes joined her with the choir.
She pointed out to me once a young couple, 2 very lovely men, boys, really. She told me they were there every week, arrived early, (like the musicians,) very devout, knelt in prayer for a long time, participated devoutly in Mass and never presented for Communion.
And then she smiled sadly.
That was all she said about them, I was never quite sure why - thought perhaps at the time she was trying to tell me something about many of my friends, (as if i didn't know....)

Father Lombardi Issues Another Denial

Reports that a 91-year old woman who once worked with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta spoke with Pope Francis has led to another flurry of activity for the Vatican press office.

Initially Fr Federico Lombardi SJ had stated that he would neither confirm nor deny that the meeting had taken place, but later when rumors began to circulate Lombardi revised his statement to say that while it was possible that the Pontiff had exchanged words with the woman, reports as to what had passed between them were "in no way reliable."

The nonagenarian missionary worker did not record the conversation and notoriously takes no notes, and reconstructed the dialogue as follows-
'Very good. Go forward, go forward...How good, how good, how good! The Lord will continue to help.'
The Jesuit press officer insisted that this was not an endorsement of forward motion and regarding the phrase "how good, how good, how good" had this to say-
"Those words cannot be attributed to the Pope, although what was said to have been said could be considered faithful on the whole to the mind of the pope, but not necessarily in its particular words and the accuracy of its details.”
He also reminded the press corps that before the incident took place, Pope Francis had met private with a former student who was not so old at all, does not engage in missionary work and is a supporter of retrograde mobility.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Young Yahoos at Yale: Hollow Wienies, or Wugwats Wooking Faw a Widdoo Home Away Fwom Home

The kiddies men and women of Yale did not have much fun with their trick or treating this year.
Was somebody faced with a shortage of the special orange and white chocolate Halloween Kit Kats?
Not exactly.
What happened was, one administrator sent out a missive to all the children suggesting that offensive masquerade costumes were.... well, you know - offensive.
Some children thought they were being treated like children.
Then another administrator sent one reminding the children that on their way to becoming grown ups, one of the ways we become big boys and girls is by being freed to make the kind of stupid decisions little boys and girls do.
Some of them then proceeded to lie down in the middle of the mall and kick and scream.
Others threatened to hold their breath until they tuned blue.
One or two peed themselves, I think, but that may not have been deliberate, or "transgressive," but just nervous shpilkes, from the thrill and the pressure of being allowed to try their hands at growing up, maybe even going out trick or treating without a baby sitter!
 (That may just have been too much...)
Crowds gathered, screaming and yelling at the Master of Slytherin and his wife, (she's something to do with the Ministry of Getting Us All Fitted Out In Big Kid Panties.)
Hundreds of the little ones surrounded them, told them what they ought to think and when offered the chance to dialogue or talk over sandwiches or something were told, "No, don' wanna," and sucked their thumbs to bolster their side of the reasoned discourse.
Fortunately, one little miss  was brave enough to speak, and explained to one of the nannies, in, er.... robust tones,
"Be quiet...It is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students… Do you understand that? Why the f*** did you accept the position? Who the f*** hired you?... step down! If that is what you think about being a Master, then you should step down. It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? It’s about creating a home here! You are not doing that. You’re going against that"
which, when you think about it is really pretty funny, since if most people used that kind of language when negotiating with the adults upon whom they depend, and whom they expect to warm their bottles and change their diapers "create a home" for them, they would, to use words the darling babes can understand, get the s*** beat out of their f****** a****.

Doncha think?

Happy Birthday! Looking Great for 800!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

'Cause, ya know, in olden times people didn't do stuff like that...

Yes, that's right, the Synod is heading us towards a more mature way to deal with "contemporary challenges," because disenchantment with a spouse or with the routine of married life, adultery, abandonment of the family, loneliness, sin desire for a new romance, concupiscence.... these didn't happen in, what's that phrase? oh yeah, Days of Yore.

Those are all modern problems that need modern responses.

Our forbears never wanted to have cake they'd already eaten, did they?
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