Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The state of the state of the blog

Sorry 'bout that. It's been a dreadfully busy month, and this neccessarily has to take a back seat to the real world. In any case, all the news in my neck of the woods has been good. The Vatican sent my diocese a new Bishop, and lo and behold, he is orthodox. So many good things are happening that it's difficult to keep track of them all. As a barometer of the situation, EWTN is doing a major mission here this fall. I suspect EWTN would have received a hail of rotten tomatoes and a multitude of waving protest signs had they dared travel here under the previous regime.

A big "hidey-ho, neighbors" goes out to all those from Catholic-convert, how's life on the wrong side of the tracks, guys?

My unease with professional lay-apologists continues to grow. Anyone who has not already seen the action should check out Keating's performance on to see how a real Catholic treats his detractors. I remain rather amazed at the policy these guys take to those who disagree with them, their paticular theologies, and their tactics. Where does this scorched-Earth policy come from? I remain a parish volunteer, that means my livelihood is NOT connected to ministry. That's what the priesthood is for, gang, and there's a reason for it.

A final thought for today - Yes, women should stay out of the sanctuary at Mass. Just like non-ordained men. See, I'm not sexist at all.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The State of the Blog

Well, this blog has been inactive for some time now, and I'm sad to announce that it has become a solo act. Well, such things happen, and it's time for this Blog to continue to amuse me and consternate you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Response to a Lutheran about NFP

(this was written in repsonse to a Lutheran who criticized the Catholic Church's "hypocrisy" about birth control on a message board)

Mr. Lutheran, again, you're not getting it.

Married couples either:

1.Go at it like rabbits 24/7


2.They abstain at least part of the time.

We know that except on our honeymoons, #2 is more common.

So, we know that married couples abstain at least some days of their marriage.

We also know that this is OK.

We also know that couples *decide* when to abstain. In some families "I have a headache" is how a couple decides to abstain, but it's still a decision process. We know this is true, and so to act like it isn't would be silly. So, we know for a fact that couples decide to abstain.

So, the only question asked about NFP is: Are we allowed to know when we are fertile?

The Church consistently says that knowledge is good provided it is knowledge of the truth. Ignorance is not a virtue.

So, couples are allowed to know when they are fertile and when they do, this knowledge will inevitably affect their decisions to abstain.

The Church also says that with this knowledge comes the resposibility to use it wisely and for God's purposes, not our own. This is why the Church teaches that to use this knowledge to avoid God's will is sinful.

However, since the Church does not tell married couples exactly how many children to have or how often to have sex, it is up to each individual couple to use their knowledge wisely, putting God's will ahead of theirs.

This is what "NFP" is. You have the cockeyed notion that "NFP" is about "Catholic birth control" and avoiding children. It's so unfair that you think that, because the Catholics who *do* use NFP in that way **LEARNED SUCH BEHAVIOR FROM PROTESTANTS**.

Your church and its allies have RUINED Western culture on this point. The Catholics are choking on the stench of what the Protestants have wrought. I don't judge Catholics too harshly for not being as open to children as they should be when Lutheran and Prebyterian women snicker at them in the grocery store for having more than two. I don't judge Catholic men who have vasectomies as harshly as I do the Methodist doctors who push them into it. Catholics didn't learn this behavior from their Pope, they were infected with it by Protesters who left the barque of Peter and are now sliding into a moral cesspool. You are trying to drag us with you, but we are resisting mightily, led by our Popes.

In short, you are coming here, blaming US for YOUR DOING. You are criticizing Catholics for inconsistencies they learned from Heretics and Apostates.

Repent of this. Confess your sins and reconcile with the Church. Lent is nearing its end, so this is a perfect time. Spend Easter morning in the Church founded by Christ Himself - the one Church with the guts to tell you that contraception is wrong. And quit blaming bad habits which Catholics learned from the Protestants on the Catholics themselves.

It is beyond me how you can sit back calmly and judge Catholics for their inconsistencies when you BELONG to the group persecuting them and causing them to stumble.


A Perfect World

So, I'm sick, with a nasty cold that's keeping me awake. I'm always bored when I'm sick, but I don't like to read anything heavy when my head already hurts. For just such occasions, I keep a stack of Clancys on the bookshelf. Reading long books about wars which will never happen and pausing on phrases like "celluloid-encased self-guiding bomb" always makes me feel better.

Tonite I was reading "The Bear and the Dragon", which, as you may guess from the title, concerns Russia and China, and one particular passage never fails to affect me emotionally. It's the only chapter Clancy ever wrote which has any emotion, I guess. In it, a new Papal Nuncio is named to China, and once in country, he meets an underground Baptist minister. When informed that a forced, late-term abortion is about to take place at a nearby hospital, the two men rush there and are brutally martyred in their (successful) attempt to save the baby. An international incident ensues in one of Clancy's typical multiple-interwoven-webs of plots which are, again, a great way to waste time when you're sick.

It's by far the best passage ever written by Clancy, right down to the final, dying word of the Nuncio, when told the child would live, "Bene".

As I read it tonite, the fourth or fifth time I have done so, I reflected on Clancy and his popularity. Clancy writes like Louis L'Amour, in that his characters are compelling for their idealized traits. Everyone in a Clancy novel acts like young men wish everyone would act - directly and boldly. In Clancy books, people actually push the button. It's a tempting escape from a real world where justice never seems to actually be done and people never follow through on their convictions. Truly, well-targeted fiction.

But wait. Clancy is an acknowledged master at creating this sort of testosterone-driven fantasy. His characters act like their real counterparts never, ever would. In his major book series, the president, Jack Ryan, sounds more like Legatus than Legatus does - which is the antithesis of how presidents actually sound.

What does a Catholic Cardinal do in this idealized, fictional world? He stands up for the teaching of the Church unto martyrdom. That hit me like the proverbial load of bricks tonite. In order to find a Catholic Bishop really personally incensed about abortion, I have to retreat to the fantasy world of cheap novels.

As the Nyquil starts to kick in, I cannot help but feel that this puts many things in perspective.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Circle the Wagons!

We are Catholics, and we struggle...but Catholics struggle against *themselves and their temptations*. Not against Catholicism. We Americans are busily trying to impose activist and democratic templates on the Roman Caholic Church. We (as has been stated several times in this thread) have a vast majority of "Catholics" who have simply parted company with Catholic moral theology on important issues... an apparent majority who have rejected basic sacrametnal theology... all blessed by the priests our seminaries have produced in this dissident environment.

We see that many sections of the Catechism are interpreted by Catholics to suit their party. That's why I like the prominence of contraception. There's not really any interpretation available there. Contraception is a grave evil and is to be avoided by Catholics. That's why that section is avoided by dissidents in favor of the section on conscience.

A lot of people who convert to the Church do so because they actually have studied it. We have people who converted because they read the early councils and realized that unity with the Pope was only guarantee of orthodoxy. We have others who examined the Protestant revolt and realized that it was contrary to the will of Christ spoken in His high-priestly prayer. We have still others (like myself) who examined the moral teachings of the Church and realized that only Catholicism offers the prescription for Holy marriage and therefore for society itself.

What happens to us when we enter the Church? We find the very same principles which drew us into Holy Mother Church sold for 30 pieces of silver every Sunday.

Some of us, like myself, end up with "jobs" within the Church. We became NFP instructors because the Church teaches that artificial contraception is a grave evil, and for a Catholic to participate in it with knowledge is a grave sin. We didn't do it because it's "natural" and we eat granola and wear hemp shoes...we did it because of Hell. We get sold out every week. Our diocesan pre-cana program does it to us.

Dissent is, from my point of view, mainly about self deception, because I cannot believe that reading comprehension is so poor in a developed nation like this.

This is why I am angry about people who say we are circling the wagons to eject people from the Church. The ministries I do within the Church are aimed at education for Catholics so they can know their Church and submit more fully to its teachings. Dissent is what we are at war against. I would not "throw anybody out"...that's victimization talk and it's unwarranted and unfair. I work, every day if possible, to *bring people in* and to bring them as fully and completely in as possible.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Pope’s Ferarri

SO, Ferrari presented the Pope with a model Formula One race car. After all the usual jokes about the Pope’s chauffeur are over, one criticism will remain – the same one always levied against the Vatican.

“Why doesn’t he sell it and give the money to the needy?”

The answer, Virginia, is that we have souls as well as bodies, and the Pope has to take care of both parts of us.

“Okay” I can hear you saying “This ought to be good. How does having an F1 car help take care of my soul?” Well, Tinkerbell, I’m not thinking of your soul in particular, I’m thinking the souls, and soul, of Italy.

We Americans have an estranged relationship with international sport. We are geographically isolated, and we don’t like to think of ourselves as having any “rivals”. We like to be above the international fray as often as we can. We play our sports against other Americans only…except at the Olympics. There, for a few weeks every few years, Americans can briefly feel what national pride actually is. Of course, the broadcasters who know nothing of pride in any form do their best to convince us that we should be proud of our athletes because they have overcome challenges and handicaps, the fact is we can be proud of an American athlete simply for being American – that’s Patriotism.

Not so the Europeans. Europeans are, to say the least, enthusiastic about international sports. They spar against their neighbors constantly, and in doing so attempt live out what we Americans call “the spirit of the games” every four years – peaceful co-existence through neither war nor assimilation, but common interest and real national pride. It can also be explained it in a more cynical way – you’d rather not go to war against your competitors and fans.

This brings us to Formula One Racing. This is European sport at its finest. International events occur around the world, hosting teams from a variety of the developed nations (and even some surprise competitors)…but not usually the United States. We prefer to keep our racing championship at home. For the nations which do compete, and for many of their citizens, the team – Ferrari in Italy, Renault in France, BMW/Williams and Mercedes/Mclaren for Germany , BAR for England, Jordan from Ireland, Toyota from Japan, along with Saudis, Australians, Belgians, Brazilians and host of others – Are a real source of national pride.

I remember well my first international race. Although I was employed in competition in North America as a low-level technician, we got to compete in a truly international environment. Having been raised in a sort of dreary disdain for all thing European as inferior to ourselves, I was astounded at the technical wizardry of these people and also the simple cohesion of having national pride. For an American, who had never known anyone but other Americans, it was a revelation (and a joyous one!) to see that national character still existed! The Italians really did shout at each other all the time and wave their hands at each other…and everything they had really was painted red. The Germans really did do everything with clipped precision…and everything they had was painted silver. The British really did drink tea…the Australians really were friendly…the Japanese really did all get together in a bunch to solve a problem.

For many of these nations, the extreme effort and expense and technical proficiency required to compete in Formula One auto racing makes it something akin to a space program. The cars are made of pressed graphite fibers, the nuts and bolts are titanium or beryllium alloy. They are designed in virtual space using Fluid Dynamics software…tested in wind tunnels…they’re totally cool. They’re also akin to a fighter jet in complexity. They also only last for one year. During the winter months, the pace of technological development is so intense, that by Spring, last year’s winning car would do well to finish mid pack, if not at the end of the line.

The crowds at these races are huge and diverse. The Ferrari team fans, the Tifosi, are probably the most dedicated. At Imola, Italy, the team’s home race, they turn out by the hundreds of thousands…and if the Ferrari team wins, they flood the race course in a sea of red flags and red-painted faces.

So, I hope that by now, anyone can see that to many Italians, a champion Ferrari race car represents Italian national pride – the best of Italy – and confirms Italy as a nation strong in education and technology, dedication and hard work.

What’s it worth? Well, the entire program has a budget of about $100million annually. It’s not government money, in the main. It’s paid for by advertising and television revenues and any shortfall is made up by the Ferrari company. They produce no more than ten or twelve running copies of a particular car design, so I suppose you could say they cost about $10million. The 1/5 scale models are usually wind-tunnel testing models which are sometimes finished out into full scale models. A good guess of the collection value of a piece like that would be mid 5 to possibly 6 figures.

But, the value of the car is in its symbolism to Italians. Maybe we Americans don’t have a good grasp on what pride means to some of these other nations, but just because we don’t doesn’t mean that we should be callous to their feelings and intentions. The Ferrari company, representative of the entire Italian people, has presented Holy Mother Church with a premier symbol of peaceful Italian national pride. One or two of the full-size cars will remain in the Ferrari factory museum. The driver will probably be given one for his private collection. The models may be displayed in various museums in Europe…but one belongs to the Pope. In its own way, it is as symbolic of the pride Italians have felt at being the home of great technology and culture as the Colesseum. They gave it to the Church. Think for a moment what this means. They gave it to the Church. Anyone who has been despondent over the state of Italian Catholicism should smile today…the Tifosi have another connection to Holy Mother Church.

So, go ahead, dreary, navel-gazing Americans. Call for the Pope to sell his car to some wealthy industrialist to show off to his buddies to send a symbolic drop into the charitable bucket. I, the Pope, and the Tifosi will happily ignore you. We Americans keep our symbols of national pride in glass cases at government museums where no man may pray. The Italians gave the Ferrari to the Pope, heck yeah he should keep it!.

Viva Scuderia Ferrari!


War, huh

"War is a crime against peace which cries for vengeance before God," said Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, speaking on Vatican Radio.

Since Operation Iraqi Freedom was first contemplated, we have heard a great deal about war and how the Church feels about it.

I must admit that the events have me fundamentally puzzled.

Lots of people think the great divide in the Church is between traditonalism and post-councilarism, or between contraceptors and anti-contraceptors, etc. I disagree. I suspect that long after the current liturgical difficulties are resolved, and long after Western society is forced to deal with the wages of the sexual revolution like a person awaking to a bad hangover - long after that, war will be the topic that divides us.

"War is a crime" is about the most basic statement of an opinion we have been hearing from the Church for a while now. Is it true?

The first and most obvious refutation of this idea is Catholic doctrine itself, even modern Catholic doctrine. One wonders whether Abp. Renato is familiar with the doctrine of Just War. Although envisioning only defensive wars against an aggressor nation, Just War certainly absolves a people of sin when they defend themselves. This is basic.

What about aggression? Can aggression ever be just? Tom Clancy once opined that aggressive wars are just armed robbery writ large. It would seem that this idea is very compatible with Vatican opinion. There simply doesn't seem to be any room for being aggressive in modern Catholic theology.

So, is this a traditional, historical Catholic opinion?

We'll examine the question.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Did you notice this the last time you were at Mass?

A reading from Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson:

"Et credo in unam sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam" -- their hearts cried all together. "I believe at last in a Catholic Church; one, for it is built on one and its faith is one; holy, for it is the Daughter of God and the Mother of Saints; Apostolic, for it is guided by the Prince of Apostles and very Vicar of Christ."

"Et exspecto vitam venturi saeculi. "I look for the life of the world to come; and I count all things but loss, houses and brethren and sisters and father and mother and wife and children and lands, when I look to that everlasting life, and Him Who is the Way to it. Amen."

So from step to step the liturgy moved on with its sonorous and exultant tramp, and the crowding thoughts forgot themselves, and watched as the splendid heralds went by; the triumphant trumpets of Gloria in excelsis had long died away; the proclamation of the names and titles of the Prince had been made. Unum Dominum Jesum Christum; Filium Dei Unigenitum; Ex Patre natum ante omni saecula; Deum de Deo; Lumen de Lumine; Deum Verum de Deo Vero; Genitum non factum; Consubstantialem Patri.

Then His first achievement had been declared; "Per quem omnia facta sunt."

Then His great and later triumphs; how He had ridden out alone from the Palace and come down the steep of heaven in quest of His Love; how He had disguised Himself for her sake; and by the crowning miracle of love, the mightiest work that Almighty God has ever wrought, He was made man; and the herald hushed his voice in awe as he declared it, and the people threw themselves prostrate in honour of this high and lowly Prince; then was recounted the tale of those victories that looked so bitterly like failures, and the people held their breath and whispered it too; then in rising step after step His last conquests were told; how the Black Knight was overthrown, his castle stormed and his prison burst; and the story of the triumph of the return and of the Coronation and the Enthronement at the Father's Right Hand on high.

The heralds passed on; and mysterious figures came next, bearing Melchisedech's gifts; shadowing the tremendous event that follows on behind.

After a space or two came the first lines of the bodyguard, the heavenly creatures dimly seen moving through clouds of glory, Angels, Dominations, Powers, Heavens, Virtues, and blessed Seraphim, all crying out together to heaven and earth to welcome Him Who comes after in the bright shadow of the Name of the Lord; and the trumpets peal out for the last time, "Hosanna in the highest."

Then a hush fell, and presently in the stillness came riding the great Personages who stand in heaven about the Throne; first, the Queen Mother herself, glorious within and without, moving in clothing of wrought gold, high above all others; then, the great Princes of the Blood Royal, who are admitted to drink of the King's own Cup, and sit beside Him on their thrones, Peter and Paul and the rest, with rugged faces and scarred hands; and with them great mitred figures, Linus, Cletus and Clement, with their companions.

And then another space and a tingling silence; the crowds bow down like corn before the wind, the far-off trumpets are silent; and He comes.

He comes!

On He moves, treading under foot the laws He has made, yet borne up by them as on the Sea of Galilee; He Who inhabits eternity at an instant is made present; He Who transcends space is immanent in material kind; He Who never leaves the Father's side rests on His white linen carpet, held yet unconfined; in the midst of the little gold things and embroidery and candle-flames and lilies, while the fragrance of the herbs rises about Him. There rests the gracious King, before this bending group; the rest of the pageant dies into silence and nothingness outside the radiant circle of His Presence. There is His immediate priest-herald, who had marked out this halting-place for the Prince, bowing before Him, striving by gestures to interpret and fulfill the silence that words must always leave empty; here behind are the adoring human hearts, each looking with closed eyes into the Face of the Fairest of the children of men, each crying silently words of adoration, welcome and utter love.

Nothing I could write would do that passage justice, so I'm not even going to try.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004


So, just being around an average Parish in small-town America, I speak to lots of "converts" to the Catholic faith. These are people who, over the last 20 years, have at one time or another attended RCIA and been confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church.

Most of them have very few beliefs in common with Roman Catholicism.

I thought I had the winner, that I knew the person who had succesfully "graduated" from RCIA with the most profound heresy intact. I would have said that one of my fellow parishoners who disbelieved the Virgin Birth took the cake, until tonite. Tonite we ran into a real whopper.

The whopper was a person who was proud of their immediate family member who is ordained a Protestant minister.

Think about the depth of the ignorance or disdain for Catholic teaching required to, as a Catholic, proudly attend the Protestant "ordination" of a family member. It is staggering.

And so, the question naturally arises : "exactly what kind of RCIA program might this person have attended?". The answer, unfortunately , is "the common kind, the Neeple kind".

In Neeple RCIA, everyone can celebrate the diverse understandings of God which they bring to the table. Nevermind, of course, that these various understandings are heresies. Think how enjoyable for a Neeple it must be to see a bunch of people happily fellowshipping over their diversity.

RCIA has become, for the sane, a ring of fire to be passed through at great expense on their way into the Church. We who desire conversions have learned to speak of it as a sacrifice the candidate can make, a sign of their submission to the Church they make as they endure 9 months of Neeples.

In truth, however, RCIA is so counterproductive at most parishes, so riddled with heresy, so anti-Catholic, that the time has come to dismantle it. We need to start over. People should NOT, as their first real experience of Catholicism, be forced to endure months and months of concentrated heresy.

Priests used to, as a matter of course, confirm people after a minimum of private instruction, provided they demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the Church. Good pastors should revive this, and give relief to the sane.

In fact, relief for the sane should be a primary topic at every Bishop's conference.

Would anyone like to hazard a guess as to why it is not?