Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Get Naked!

I mean get the CD's at www.nakedwithoutshame.com. No, it's not Stumpe's latest work from home income scheme, it's a crash-course in John Paul the Great's world-changing Theology of the Body. Thanks to Coffeeboy for the link.

Reactions to Deus et Caritas

Joseph Bottum of First Things pointed out this collection of reactions to the new encyclical.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Vote for X-Catholics

I didn't realize these things occured this time of year, but the Catholic Blog Awards are being held. I would have thought they'd be in December and not January, but I suppose December is too busy. I've not followed the awards before, so I'm not sure if they are supposed to cover 2005 or what. Anyway, we're eligible so there's no harm in

voting here

for "Best New Blog" and "Best Group Blog"

I think we're a little too new, so our timing couldn't be worse for such a thing, but still it doesn't cost anything.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

On Deus Caritas Est and RJN

After reading the RJN post below, some thoughts come to mind. Neuhaus seems to emphasize the difference between Benedict and John Paul the Great and this is a strong argument for the fact that Il Papa is his own man. Perhaps it is because I am rereading Love and Responsibility, but I see much in common with the thought of Wojtyla. The section on the role and character of eros seems to be this book restated in brief, be it from another perspective. The Church's teaching would have us see eros as agape or in the words of Wojtyla, "introduce love into love." I think this is a good example of two men, coming to the same issue, with different intellectual backgrounds and styles of communication, but proclaiming and struggling to understand the same truth. This encyclical is beautiful food for the soul and how fitting to begin "with the end in mind," as it were. Love is our end and love is a person. To speak of love, as a Catholic, is to speak personalistically, in a sense. Speaking of food for the soul and mind, Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity is a monumental, heartfelt masterpiece. I am eating it in small bites, as it is rich. God bless Papa Ratzi, God Bless JPG, and God bless all us X-Catholics!!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Historic Pittsburgh Parishes

Here is a link from the Pittsburgh diocesan website, documenting photographs from various parishes around Allegheny county. A couple of thoughts:

1) This website is outstanding pictorial evidence of the general malaise afflicting Catholic architecture in this country. Seeing the historic church pictures side by side with their modern replacements throws into high relief the degeneracy of contemporary church architecture.

2) It is interesting to note that many of the modern monstrosities were constructed starting in the 1950's, i.e. pre-Vatican II. This supports my view that there was something wrong with the American Church well in advance of the Council. I think that Vatican II merely served to expose fundamental flaws within the American Church, and did not, in fact, create them.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Skinny on St. Stanislaus

As a faithful Roman Catholic in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, I thought I'd keep everyone updated on the circumstances surrounding the recent excommunications of the lay board members and rogue priest at St. Stanislaus parish in North St. Louis. Unfortunately, the secular media and the several usual suspects who surface in this sort of matter have clamored loud and long in their criticisms of His Emminence, Archbishop Raymond Burke.

For anyone truly interested in the facts of this case, the pertinent documents can be found in .pdf format at: http://www.archstl.org/parishes/documents/st_stanislaus.html

A few snippets from the FAQ page of the lay board's own website pretty much sums up the root of the problem pretty nicely though...


What is the Vatican position on this conflict?
Our case is under review and we will hear of their decision in November. However from most accounts, regardless of the injustice shown us the Congregation for the Clergy has a strong tendency to side with their man, the Archbishop.

What will St. Stanislaus do if no resolution on this with the Archbishop is possible?
The Archbishop and archdiocese place our dedicated Roman Catholic Parish in a position that we may not desire to take or want to take, but may be forced to take. There are other religious organizations willing to serve our religious needs.

What about joining another (non Roman) Catholic Church
Viable option
Religious celebrations are nearly identical to what we see in the Roman Catholic Church today. These religious organizations broke away from the Roman Catholic Church due to the same demands we are seeing today. Religion was not the issue. It was, as it is today, about power and control.


The sad thing is, they don't even understand how their responses to these questions show their hand. Chalk up another tragedy in the Church due to either poor or corrupt catechesis by the hijackers of Vatican II.


RJN has commented on the encyclical today here.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Feast of St.Conan of Man

Today, in the Byzantine Church, is the feast of St. Conan of Man. Conan, besides being the successor to St. Patrick is also my confirmation name. Please all join me in festive celebration today as we remember this great saint.

Goings on at Notre Dame

Stumpe sent me a link to a speech at Notre Dame. I found some further info at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

The Children's Crusade

G.K. Chesterton noted, concerning the “trend” of conversions to the Catholic faith among his generation:
“I have therefore thought it well to put first this general note on the nature of the movement in my time; to show that I am well aware that it is a very much larger and even a very much later movement than is implied in describing my own life or generation. I believe it will be more and more an issue for the rising generation and for the generation after that, as they discover the actual alternative in the awful actualities of our time. And Catholics when they stand up together and sing 'Faith of our Fathers' may realise almost with amusement that they might well be singing 'Faith of our Children.' And in many cases the return has been so recent as almost to deserve the description of a Children's Crusade.”

This insight caught my undivided attention the other night as I supposed that perhaps our generation is on the forefront of this Children’s Crusade. The old stereotype is that the young run off in all manner of wide-eyed naiveté chasing after the latest spiritual shaman or shyster, in search of enlightenment, enrichment, and new revelation—while their elders counsel them against such things. “Stick with the Faith,” the father tells the son.

Haven’t we all noticed, though, that the tables have turned? How often have we found ourselves, the children, counseling our parents and grandparents against some deviation from the Faith? How often has it been us arguing for truth over emotions or convenience, while our elders fret about, either rationalizing or capitulating. How often have we seen them swept off by some “new understanding” being offered by a book, a diet, or a spiritual guru interviewed on Oprah?

“Stick with the Faith,” the son must now tell the father. The Children’s Crusade is afoot, and soon the Enemy will tremble at the awful bright banners gathered in defense of the Faith.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

That faint gurgling sound you heard early in the morning on November 3, 2004 was the collective apoplexy of the liberal elites in those dwindling puddles of blue on the electoral map. It’s never a pretty sound when someone has a stroke in mid-sip of a double cinnamon decaf café latté frappé. They were truly shocked.

How could so many Americans, from across so many states, actually re-elect the evil, hated, and stammering President Bush? Didn’t they see Fahrenheit 911? Couldn’t they understand how brilliant John Kerry was? Surely they are ignorant. Surely they are deceived. Surely they are too stupid to even know the joke about not calling me Shirley. Their progressive friends across the Atlantic were equally perplexed. The 2004 election headline in Britain's The Daily Mirror read, “How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?”

The post election analysis came streaming across left-leaning internet sites and out of the old media editorial pages—and was mostly filled with bitterness, hatred, and disdain. In summary, the backwards corn-folk out in the red hinterlands just don’t know what’s best for them. Additionally they are sexists, racists, and homophobes. They are dragging, along with their knuckles, this great progressive nation back into the dark ages. Religious wacko zombies—the whole lot of them. If you look close enough, you can almost see the little spirals whirling in their pupils as they await the next batch of orders from their priests, pastors, and radio talk show hosts. That’s why all those states are red.

And oh yeah, did we mention—they’re really dumb too.

It is exactly this patronizing analysis of the ’04 election that will ensure an even larger swath of red across the country in ’08, and will begin the death knell of the once strong Democratic Party. As I love a good fight from time to time, and am inclined to believe that complete one-party domination would too easily facilitate corruption, I will explain the situation to all of our friends left on the small blue islands adrift in endless fathoms of red (just look at a county-by-county map of the US electorate).

It is really quite simple. Listen carefully now: The red states used to be blue. That’s right—not too long ago, the very same sort of people who populate the dreaded fly-over country that makes the red-eye from New York to L.A. soooooo tediously long, used to be blue by a large margin. It was Democrat country. They were the parents and grandparents of the people living in the red states now. Now, listen even more carefully: These people have not changed. It is the Democratic Party that has changed radically since 1968 and the subsequent “revolution” in 1972—and in doing so has left vast portions of the electorate out in the cold, or more accurately, out in the red. “Left Behind” should be the title of a book about the average, hard-working Americans who used to be the base of the Democratic Party—not a book about evangelical eschatology.

Speaking of the end times, they may be just around the corner for the “party of the common man”, as it was dubbed by its founder, Thomas Jefferson. The progressive glitterati who now call it their political home refuse to see what ought to be plain to the average reader of Dr. Seuss: either the party of FDR and Harry Truman needs to take compass, re-orient itself, and get back in line with the majority of working class Americans out in the heartland, or they will go the way of the dodo. Queer Studies departments, Upper West Side pundits, network news producers, gangster rappers, Hollywood darlings, and fat unshaven white guys do not a national party make—although quite a pajama party it would be.

There has been no “jihad” in Middle America by radical religious zealots as many on the left have opined. The people of the great interior of this nation are the same as they were when they used to vote for Democrats en masse. They work hard, they go to church (and actually believe some of the stuff they hear there), they love their kids, they volunteer their time and tithe to the poor, and they still believe that the United States of America is the greatest nation in the history of the world. It's not so much that these children and grandchildren of once dyed-in-the wool Democrats vote for Republicans now-- it's more that they have no one else to vote for. The national leadership of the Democratic party simply opposes, criticizes, and patronizes too much of what they hold dear.

No, the real jihad came from the other side of the spectrum, and it has destroyed the once proud party of the people from within. The Democratic Party needs to severe its ties with the extreme leftist elements that have alienated so many Americans. Only then will they begin to see some of those red states begin to cool toward blue. Mind you, even in recently stalwart blue states, the margin of victory for Democratic candidates has shrunk significantly the last few election cycles. The Republicans picked off Iowa and New Mexico in 2004. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota could be next.

Judging from the actions and antics of the leading Democrats and their media spokespersons over the last year, it appears that they still don’t get it. By 2008, we’ll see if they've figured it out. Another liberal elite from a Northeastern state? They won’t have a prayer—mostly because they’ve forgotten or ignored that most Americans still say them.


Pope Benedict XVI officially released his first encyclical today called Deus Caritas Est "God is Love." I wish I had time to comment on it more, because it is really great and, I think, sets just the kind of trend we would expect: compassionate and challenging. He has some *very* interesting things to say about the relationship between the Gospel, Social Justice, and the State. That's what I found most interesting.

Anyway, the official English translation is here on the Vatican website. Catholic News Service has a good short article here and Catholic World News has an even shorter one here.
I hope to be able to comment on it next week, but my plate is really full right now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

St. Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor

St. Francis de Sales is a man after my own heart: a quick-tempered battler of Calvinism. Here's a suggestion for honoring him on this his feast day: contact a Calvinist or other protestant friend and extend the right hand of fellowship so that the conversation might in time turn to the Church.

Pray for us St. Francis that the Holy Spirit might calm our tempers and equip us to defend the Catholic faith.

More here. There are some good links there.

Our Lady of Peace

On this memorial of Our Lady of Peace, we offer our prayers for peace on Earth and good will toward men.

Two things seem worth keeping in mind:

1. Many of those who support the war in Iraq desire peace every bit as much as those who don't and agonize over the ravages of war just as much as those who oppose the war; and many of those who oppose the war feel just as much for the people if Iraq as those who support the war and agonize over their oppression under the dictatorship of the Butcher of Bagdad just as much as those who support the war: reasonable people can disagree over the prudence of the means, but men of good will are united in their desire: peace, which is not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.

2. Iraq is only one place in the world where the Peace of Our Lady does not reign. The Sudan continues to be characterized by brutality as do many other hot spots in Africa.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Another voice in the echo chamber

Random thoughts and questions:

1) I live in a suburb of Pittsburgh (actually Pittsburgh has no "suburbs" in the traditional sense, but that's another story).....for the last two hours, my neighbors have been shouting "woooooo" on their front lawns, in celebration of the Steelers' impending trip to Super Bowl XL. Mind you, its 35 degress outside right now, and that's an awfully long time to be out the cold, even for something as monumental as an AFC championship.

Like the others here, I'm a Midwesterner in exile, and was present for the glory days of Marty Ball in Kansas City. Now KC is clearly a great football town, but I think I am coming round to the view that Pittsburgh has an even more passionate fan base than KC. Perhaps passionate is not really the word, since Pittsburgh's enthusiasm has a clear whiff of desperation surrounding it. It may be slightly cliche, but it seems true nonetheless, that there is something about living and growing up in a declining rust-belt economy that magnifies the importance of cultural unifieers such as sports teams.

This phenomena even applies to that greatest of cultural unifiers, the Church. I have noticed that Catholics in Pittsburgh can be very enthusiastic about the Church, and very tenacious about Her various insitutional forms. Now, Pittsburgh Catholics, like most American Catholics, aren't terribly orthodox, or concerned with following Church teaching....yet there is still an undercurrent of tenacious and enthusiastic loyalty that I don't seem to remember from Midwestern Catholics.

Of course, I was a Midwestern Catholic for a grand total of six months between the time I converted, and the time I left Missouri, so I welcome any correction here from those with a broader view.

On the same note, Emily Stimpson, from nearby Steubenville, has an outstanding short essay in this month's First Things, that reflects some of this same sentiment.

2) For Christmas, I received a Barnes and Noble gift certificate, and used it to purchase two of the Vintage Spiritual Classics (Benedict's Regula, and The Desert Fathers, for those who care). In order to get free shipping, I had to spend $4 more, and pulled off the electronic bargain shelf a copy of Stephen Unwin's The Probability of God.

Now Trent, I know you have interacted with this Bayesian proof before, and I want your opinion on it (in layman's terms)....I scanned the first chapter, and he seems a little annoying in his approach (surprise, surprise, an annoying theoretical physicist!). Any things I should keep mind while reading?

3) I was reading some catechetical materials today, and came across something that said the Holy Angels intercede for us before the Father....this left me scratching my head a little, since I never really conceived of their function in that way...their function as protectors, messengers, adorers, proclaimers, etc I understand, but I can not honestly recall any scriptural or patristic references to their specifically intercessory function. Can someone suggest any references to mitigate my ignorance here?

In addition to which...

For the question remains, do women want abortion? Not like she wants a Porsche or an ice cream cone. Like an animal caught in a trap, trying to gnaw off its own leg, a woman who seeks an abortion is trying to escape a desperate situation by an act of violence and self-loss. Abortion is not a sign that women are free, but a sign that they are desperate.–Frederica Mathewes-Green

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's scripture readings generate a sense of urgency, but also of hope. The theme uniting the two is that of *calling*. Nineveh is in danger of being destroyed because of the immorality of its inhabitants...Johan is called to call the them to repentance...disaster is averted. Jesus calls Simon and Andrew then James and John to become fishers of men. Paul calls the early Christians to a radical life lived in light of the truth that "the world in its present form is passing away." This means setting aside anything in life which keeps us from proclaiming the saving Gospel of Christ Jesus. Some will hear that message and seek God. Jonah leaves his city for Nineveh--with an interlude of fleeing the Lord. The Disciples leave their families and jobs, early Christians gave up their possessions and customary ways of life. What is God calling us to, what must we leave behind?

Today is the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made any abortion any time during pregnancy for any reason a legal right of any pregnant woman. I was going to say a prayer for the unborn today during the prayers of the people, but--for the first time I remember since I've been attending the Newman Center--there was no opportunity for the people to add their prayers. During the written prayers of the people there was a nod to the "seamless garment of life" which has become a code-word for overlooking people's pro-abortion stance as long as they support government funding of universal healthcare. I can't tell whether universal government funded healthcare is a good idea or not this issue has a lot of complexities. What's not complex is that Guttmacher Institute--a pro-abortion think tank--about 95% of abortions are for matters of convenience.
  • On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities. Source: Torres A and Forrest JD, Why do women have abortions? Family Planning Perspectives, 1988, 24(4):169-176.
  • 93% of women report reasons other than rape, incest, or health threat as reason for abortion. Source: Aida Torres and J.D. Forrest, "Why Do Women Have Aboritons?" Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 20 No. 4 (July/August 1988) p. 170

It is very uncomfortable to publicly oppose abortion. Even though a solid majority of American's oppose abortion on demand, we're not supposed to talk about it. This unwritten rule applies to polite circles in a lot of parishes as well. It was uncomfortable for Jonah to leave for Nineveh. It was uncomfortable for the Disciples to leave their homes and jobs. It was uncomfortable for early Christian's to refuse to worship Caesar. What is God calling us to, what must we leave behind?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Czeslaw Milosz: Should, Should Not

A man should not love the moon.
An axe should not lose weight in his hand.
His garden should smell of rottng apples
And grow a fair amount of nettles.
A man when he talks should not use words that are dear to him,
Or split open a seed to find out what is inside it.
He should not drop a crumb of bread, or spit in the fire
(So at least I was taught in Lithuania).
When he steps on marble stairs,
He may, that boor, try to chip them with his boot
As a reminder thtat the stairs will not last forever.

I love the earthiness of it--like Seamus Heaney. My favorit is that last full sentence. There's a double lesson there. As I try to chip the stair I will be rarely successful, reminding me that I am a Soft Thing, a fleeting breath compared to this monolith. Yet on those occasions when I derive a chip--"Ha! There it is!"--I rejoice that this great thing is still finite, still on myside of the divide.

There's a great interview with Milosz where he makes some excellent remarks about the liturgy. Also Catholic Culture has a pretty detailed article on Milosz as Catholic poet.

List of Saints

Just found this calendar of saints. It's much more user-friendly than most, simply a chronological list by month and day.

Next time someone suggests priestesses in the Church

The next time someone is insisting that there is no good reason why women can't be priests (besides bad grammar) ask them these two questions:

1. What is the nature of the priesthood?

2. Who was the Bishop of Calcutta during the time of Mother Theresa?

Note that I'm not here saying anything about whether the nature of the priesthood excludes women from Holy Orders (actually, only from some orders). However, my universal experience is that the more strident defenders of opening the priesthood to women have thought very little about what the priesthood is. So I don't offer this question as an *argument* but rather as a *filter*. To propose such a drastic change in the Tradition is rash apart from serious meditation on the nature of the act.

The second question obviously makes a different point. I often hear the word "status" when people are telling me that the Priesthood should be expanded to include women. Sainthood, one should keep in mind, is quite open to women.

From Across the Catholic Blogosphere

  • IL3 Has a nice meditation on the Stations of the Cross here.

  • Over at The Shrine of the Holy Whapping there's a post on an apparent film with Chesterton and Shaw in it. No, not characters...actors. The title sounds like the fake name of a porn star and one wonders if it's a joke, but it's in the main online film database.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Scottish Skeptic Discovers Sacramentalism

I was reading Hume for class and came across this lovely reference.

The ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion may be considered as instances of
the same nature. The dev- otees of that superstition usually plead in excuse for
the mummeries, with which they are upbraided, that they feel the
good effect of those external motions, and pos- tures, and actions, in
enlivening their devotion and quick- ening their fervour, which otherwise would
decay, if directed entirely to distant and immaterial objects. We shadow out the
objects of our faith, say they, in sensible types and images, and render them
more present to us by the immediate presence of these types, than it is pos-
sible for us to do merely by an intellectual view and contemplation.

Hey, he gets it! Catholicism isn't gnostic!