Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Facebook also has a "Please send me to hell" button

Let us suppose that Freddy the Catholic blogger is active in all forms of social media such as Facebook. If you've signed on to Facebook today you've no doubt seen a lot of those red equality signs which express support for same-sex "marriage" because the Supreme Court is hearing a case on California's Proposition 8. Freddy is heterosexual and would never commit sodomy himself. But he has some homosexual friends who seem to love their partners very much, and they seem like good people. Freddy doesn't want to be thought of as a hateful bigot so he changes his profile picture to the red equality sign. He knows that the Church disapproves of homosexual acts. In fact, he recalls from an older catechism that sodomy was classified as one of the sins that cries out to heaven for vengeance.

But Freddy disagrees with the Church about the moral status of sodomy. He knows what it is, and he knows what the Church says about it, but he writes a blog post in which he says that homosexuals should engage in sodomy to emotionally cement their relationships.

Freddy is formally cooperating with evil which is always illicit and immoral. It doesn't matter if he disagrees about the moral status of the act. If he shares the intention of those doing evil, then he is formally cooperating with evil no matter how materially insignificant his contribution to the evil might be.

Cutting off your nose

Muslim convert quits Church, says it's too weak on Islam:

VATICAN CITY — A high-profile Italian Muslim who converted to Catholicism and was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday (March 25) that he will leave the church to protest its soft stance against Islam.
...“The’papolatry’ that has inflamed the euphoria for Francis I and has quickly archived Benedict XVI was the last straw in an overall framework of uncertainty and doubts about the Church,” he wrote.
On Friday, Francis pledged to “intensify dialogue among the various religions,” particularly Islam.
Allam, who has called Islam an “intrinsically violent ideology,” said his main reason for leaving the church was its perceived “religious relativism, in particular the legitimization of Islam as a true religion.” 
Anyone with eyes in his head knows that the human side of the Church has frequently offered pinches of incense to the gods of political correctness in the past few decades. Catholics who are paying attention know that the missionary spirit has been somewhat lacking among certain high ranking prelates due to a misinterpretation of a passage from Lumen Gentium. Either baptism is necessary for salvation or it isn't. It doesn't do anyone any favors to hem and haw and speak of dialogue and peace. There is no peace except that found in our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ. Dialogue is all well and good if its purpose is to win converts.

This is not to excuse Allam's leaving the Church. No amount of sin or buffoonery from the human members of the Church invalidate the teachings of our Blessed Lord. I know that's easy to say, but I myself have struggled with reconciling the historic claims of the Church with the way she often conducts herself in the 21st century. But you don't abandon your mother when she's suffering a lack of confidence. You don't abandon her when you yourself are often responsible for her suffering. Allam will get no argument from me on the need to combat Islam. For the record, Islam is a demonically inspired false religion that must be resisted to a martyr's end if necessary.

You do not fight error with error though. You fight it with truth, love, goodness, and beauty. Those things may be lacking in some corners of the Church, but they are even more scarce outside of her. I pray he reconsiders.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Confirmation blues and the devil's greatest trick

I assisted at a confirmation retreat this past Saturday. Maybe it's because I'm a convert and thus was able to bring my full mental faculties to my studies, but I often grossly overestimate how much other Catholics know about the faith. There were some good kids in the group who were serious about learning. Mostly though they struck me as ignorant, superstitious pagans who should not be receiving the sacrament in two weeks.

"All right kids, you're getting confirmed two weeks from today. Has anyone explained to you what confirmation is?" Silence. "Can anyone tell me what confirmation is?" Silence.

"Have you selected a confirmation saint?" They all nodded yes. "All right. You. Who's your saint and why did you choose him?"

"St. Michael, because my grandpa's name is Michael."

"Uh huh. You. Who's your saint?"

"Monica, because my mom's name is Monica."

"Okay then."

Before we broke for lunch, two ladies from the Life Center came to lecture on the dangers of premarital sex. They spoke of how it exposes you to diseases, unwanted pregnancy, financial ruin, and low self-esteem. Before that they took a survey of the kids to learn what forms of media they use and how many of those songs, TV shows, movies, and other things influence them to engage in sex, drugs, and rock and roll. "Who wants you to have sex before marriage?" the women asked. The kids named things like Hollywood, rap moguls, and the devil. The women said, "In all the years we've been doing this, that's the first time we've ever heard the devil brought up." I don't recall them mentioning once that extramarital sex is sinful. Once they were done I said to the kids, "Everything they said was true but they forgot to mention one thing: fornication is a mortal sin for which you will burn in hell for all eternity if you do not repent, confess and do penance."

Every time I'm in a position to teach either adults or children, I always emphasize that hell exists and it's possible to go there. St. Alphonsus Liguori put it best: "He who prays will be saved. He who does not pray will be damned." It's probable that I am the only man they will ever encounter in the entire course of their Catholic formation who will ever tell them this so I always make sure to paint a vivid picture. How often do you hear Catholic priests preach about salvation and damnation from the pulpit?

If the existence of hell is denied - or never, ever spoken about which practically amounts to the same thing - then the Christian religion is emptied of much of its meaning. If it's not possible to lose the game then what's the point of playing? If Jesus loves us, well, that's cool and all, but why is it necessary to follow him and not someone like Buddha who is much less demanding? If we don't need to be saved from our sins, then what was the crucifixion for? That sort of sentimental syrupy sweetness might be acceptable for women and children, but most men want no part of it.

It's both the cross and Christ. The kids were shocked when I spoke to them that way and began asking me many questions about whether this or that was a sin, and if God could ever forgive them. I said that there is no sin too great and no one's sins were too numerous for God to not forgive them. He will forgive any number of evils of any degree of iniquity so long as we are truly repentant and willing to change our lives. I was pleased that many availed themselves of the opportunity to confess. The pastor of that parish struck me as a good man doing the best he could given what he had to work with.

I'm a fierce critic of the Catholic education establishment, and they deserve to be fiercely criticized in many cases. But I've also learned that priests and lay catechists can do everything well and it still won't stick. If it isn't being reinforced at home - if the parents don't care - then it makes no difference how well or how poorly the teachers are doing their jobs. If the parents look at confirmation as simply graduation from CCD, then their children will walk away from the Church after high school. If God works a miracle of grace, then it's possible a few of them might come back and appear on EWTN to tell the story of how they fell away from the Church in college but came back.

Parents, remember what St. John Vianney once said from the pulpit on Sunday morning in front of all the little families from his backwater parish: if you do not form your own children in the faith, then you'll spend your first few years in hell preparing a warm welcome for your children when they join you there.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Give me honest jerkassery over false compassion any day

This is disappointing, but not at all surprising:

Pro-abortion catholic Democrats Rep. Nancy Pelosi and VP Joe Biden received Holy Communion at Pope Francis Mass for the beginning of his pontificate on 19 March.
Canonist Ed Peters has this at his good blog about canon law.
Nancy Pelosi will not change on her own
Communion time in St. Peter’s is, for the vast majority of lay persons (not heads of state, and not folks chosen to receive from the pope), pretty much a mob scene, so there is nothing to be gleaned from the fact that Nancy Pelosi took holy Communion at Pope Francis’ installation Mass—nothing, that is, except that either Pelosi suffers from one of the most malformed consciences in the annals of American Catholic politics or that she is simply hell bent on using her Catholic identity to attack Catholic values at pretty much every opportunity. [Or... both at the same time. Morever, it is entirely possible that she is also not very bright. There is a difference between being shrewd and being bright.] Certainly, Pelosi’s taking the Sacrament is not, in the slightest, a Roma locuta on pro-abortion Catholics and Communion.
 
You do not give a drink to a recovering alcoholic unless you hate him and wish him ill. You do not give a loaded gun to a suicidal man unless you hate him and want him to die. You do not give the Blessed Sacrament to someone who is excommunicate, under interdict, or otherwise in manifest grave sin unless you hate them and want them to commit sacrilege. The pope enlisted hundreds of local clergy to distribute communion at his inaugural Mass, so I can buy that Father Luigi didn't recognize Pelosi and Biden. What is Cardinal Wuerl's excuse?
For bishops, “there are two different approaches” to bring Catholic politicians in line with Church teaching. “One is the pastoral, teaching mode, and the other is the canonical approach” – the legal approach, in other words. He doesn’t think it’s a very close call: “I have yet to see where the canonical approach has changed anyone’s heart.” 
How has that been working out for you, your Eminence?

Has he seen his approach change anyone’s heart? He smiles, and says one has to take the long view: “The teaching approach that we’ve used for centuries requires patience, persistence and insistence, but I believe if we teach our people, we will not have a problem with our politicians.”
Of Pelosi in particular, he cites two big reasons he hasn’t and won’t try to keep her from receiving Communion:
First, “there’s a question about whether this canon” – the relevant church law – “was ever intended to be used” to bring politicians to heel. He thinks not. “I stand with the great majority of American bishops and bishops around the world in saying this canon was never intended to be used this way.”
 
I would question how well you and your episcopal confreres have been teaching us your Eminence. The crisis in the Church is of our own making because we have not taught the Catholic faith for nearly fifty years. I'm just one unmarried dumb ass layman, so right now I'm only responsible for my own soul. Priests and bishops are responsible for their own souls and the souls of everyone under their pastoral care.

Bishops who demur on the grounds that they would be politicizing the Eucharist or using it as a weapon reveal that it is they themselves who have politicized the Eucharist and only see it as a weapon. You are the spiritual father of every soul under your care. What would we say about a father who failed to discipline unruly children? We would call him a bad father. A good father does not punish his children because he enjoys hurting them. He punishes them because that is what's best for them. The question bishops and priests should be asking themselves is not, "What will happen to me if I do this?" They should take no account of the political ramifications of what they're doing. Instead they should ask themselves, "Would denying communion to Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden objectively be what is best for the good of their souls?"

Excommunication is meant as the ultimate wakeup call. It lets the sinner know that he is a cancer on the Body of Christ, and to save the Body he must be cut out and excluded. That sounds harsh to our modern ears, but remember that in Scripture St. Paul approved of the excommunication of the incestuous Corinthian, but welcomed him back when he had repented, confessed, and done penance. Punishment has the secondary benefit of constraining the wrongdoer, but ultimately it is aimed at his rehabilitation. God desires that no one die, but that they be converted and live.

If the Church still did things old school, like we see here, then I suspect this problem would not manifest as much as it does:

Beware what you wish for

Sometimes I enjoy a stroll through the parallel universe of liberal Catholicism:

Where Benedict was a withdrawn absolutist, Francis is an engaged pragmatist. Here are two illuminating examples. The first is that he backed – as a last resort – civil unions for gay couples in Argentina as an alternative to full marriage equality. It’s extremely hard to imagine the mind of Ratzinger being capable of such a nuanced and practical stance in a specific situation:
 
Benedict, an absolutist? If only, if only. As Cardinal Bergoglio, Francis said that same-sex marriage is a project of the devil. You can't get much blunter than that, and that is one reason why I like the cut of his jib. A high ranking Catholic prelate who speaks in unambiguous declarative sentences is a rare bird indeed.

Here’s what impresses me: the call back to a gay rights activist. Dialogue. Empathy. I do not expect the Magisterium to change switly on homosexuality – but if we could only have a dialgoe, a discussion, some kind of glasnost on the subject, what an amazing change that would be! If Berguglio had succeeded in persuading the Argentine church to back civil unions, can you imagine how he would have been seen at the Conclave? Can you imagine Benedict’s conniption? Sometimes you need a straight Pope to deal honestly with gay issues.
 Pope Benedict XVI is still alive but he is dead to the world. Sullivan still can't resist the passive-aggressive gay baiting, which is ironic coming from him. What exactly does he want to dialogue about? The Church may not say so out loud as often as it used to, but it is the perennial teaching of Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium that sodomy is one of the sins that cries out to heaven for justice. It is a mortal sin for which it is possible to burn in hell for all eternity if one does not repent, confess, and do penance. Sullivan knows this, which is why he's using the ambiguous word "dialogue." What he means by dialogue is that he hopes the Church can be convinced to teach error in faith and morals. I'm sorry sir, but we have a divine guarantee that that cannot happen.

Then this striking flexibility on priestly celibacy, in an interview last year, after retelling a story of falling head over heels in love as a young man:
 
Yes, yes, yes: confirmation bias, wishful thinking, you name it. But there is nothing unchangeable about the celibacy requirement. Half of Catholic Christendom has married priests. My old parish in England, where I first received Holy Communion, now has a married priest – a former Anglican. These are management, not doctrinal decisions. Francis understands that, it seems. These procedures can change. For the sake of the survival of the church in the West, they must.
 There's a tendency, even among mainstream Catholic apologists, to speak of priestly celibacy as "just a discipline," like the amount of time we're supposed to fast before receiving Holy Communion. This is part of a larger tendency to gloss over the fifteen centuries of the development of the Church between antiquity and Vatican II. The venerable Catholic Encyclopedia has a good entry on this subject. No Catholic with a lick of sense denies that at one time married men could be ordained priests (it was never the case in the early Church that a man who was already ordained could marry.) Nor was it the case that the requirement for Western clergy to be chaste celibates was imposed overnight by a tyrannical pope determined break up a racket of priestly nepotism. It has always been the teaching of the Church and Holy Scripture that virginity is the superior state. The Spanish Council of Elvira laid down a pretty severe law: married men who were ordained priests had to embrace continence, i.e. no more sex with their wives. Requiring celibacy of its clergy was vigorously debated throughout the early life of the Church and finally became law around the time of Pope Gregory VII. In short, the Church codified a practice which had already existed for centuries. We see something similar with the TLM. Many people call it the "Tridentine" Mass, but that Mass was not invented by the Council of Trent. The Council codified a Mass which was already several centuries old.

Theoretically, the pope could change it overnight, sure. But he would be overturning centuries of ingrained teaching, discipline, theology, spirituality, and people's expectations of their priests. I'm not at all convinced that allowing married men to be ordained priests would solve any problems. There might be a momentary uptick in men entering the seminary, but it would quickly settle back down to what it is now. If priests had wives and children, Catholic lay people would have to accept that they could not demand nearly as much from their pastors as they do now. Are you lay Catholics who support ordaining married men going to put more money in the collection basket so he can send his kids to Gonzaga? Are you going to commiserate with Father when his wife frivorces him and takes their children? How about when Father needs some more cash to cover the costs of his annulment proceedings with the Diocesan marriage tribunal?

Our ancestors were not idiots. They had reasons for doing things the way they did. Priestly celibacy is a sound discipline supported by centuries of legitimate development of doctrine. Don't be too hasty to overturn it. I suspect the real reason why many progressive Catholics want it repealed is because the idea that man is not defined by his sexual drive is repugnant to them. Homosexuals like Sullivan are particularly averse to the idea that man can accept the call to chaste celibacy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Making distinctions is what we do here

Categorizing people and putting labels on others is frowned upon in liberal society. It's the mark of refinement to say, "I don't fit into any one category" or "You can't really put the label 'liberal' or 'conservative' on me." Balderdash. We can make mistakes about labels of course. But at the end of the day labels are either objectively true or objectively false, even if the labeled person honestly doesn't think a label applies to him. A liberal is not someone who self-identifies as liberal; a liberal is someone who is loyal to or participates in the essence of liberalism, which is an objective thing that exists independently of whatever any individual liberal may think about the matter. With that out of the way, here is a god piece on Liberals, Conservatives, and the New Orthodoxy.

After thirty-five years of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the liberal project has exhausted itself in failure. Not one of its political goals has been realized. There are certainly still liberals, and their influence is still palpable in chanceries, choirs, schools, and religious education programs throughout the country. But our Lord taught that we can know a tree by its fruit, and the fruit of liberal Catholicism is scant indeed: empty seminaries, empty pews, and closed schools. Moreover, the shrill bitterness that flames from some liberal periodicals is not the recipe for inspiring holiness and humility.
 
In the current ecclesial landscape, there are Catholics who loyally and fiercely support the Church against the immoral demands of the secular West: they are outspoken opponents of abortion, same-sex marriage, and government encroachments on religious freedom. They adhere to the true teachings of Vatican II as expressed by the Council fathers, not the liberal “spirit” as falsely advanced by what Benedict recently called the Council of the media. Their theological standard is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and they are employing it to foster the New Evangelization.
Let us call this perspective the “new orthodoxy,” the position of not a few Catholics in their late forties and fifties, and of a growing number of American bishops, as well as many cardinal electors in the coming conclave. To be orthodox is to hold as true the teachings of the faith, and this group does so with conviction.
 
...The second group inside the conservative camp, generally of a slightly younger age, shares the same goals as the “new orthodox,” but for them reverently celebrated liturgy is the ultimate standard of orthodoxy. They believe wholeheartedly in the maxim lex orandi, lex credendi – how and what we pray directly influences how and what we believe. For these Catholics, the liturgically minded pontificate of Benedict XVI has brought a great deal of hope and energy to the Church. Let us call this second group the “Benedictines.”
It is reasonable to hope that new orthodox and Benedictines will work together for the good of the Church. But as is often the case with the People of God – who, after all, are still a community of sinners trying to become saints – the two sides can be at odds over intra-ecclesial matters, especially the liturgy. And it is precisely this tension that may be the central point of contention in the conclave to elect Benedict’s successor. Those who assume the many cardinals created by Benedict share his mind on the liturgy have not been paying attention.
 
The author defines orthodoxy as "right worship," but it actually means right belief. Orthopraxy is right worship. The new orthodox sometimes accuse the Benedictines or Trads of being pharisaical about the liturgy. Gentlemen, either Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi is true or it is false. If it is true, then it doesn't matter how much of the Catechism you have memorized. Sloppy liturgy eventually leads to sloppy belief. If the Eucharist is treated like it's no big deal then it doesn't matter if you preach on the Real Presence until you're blue in the face. If the Mass appears to be a rock concert, or a family dinner, or a hootenanny, then belief in the Real Presence will wane. If you lose faith in the Real Presence, then you have lost the Catholic faith in its entirety even if you show up to Mass every Sunday.

There's no mean like Church mean

And they say Trads are obsessed with clerical attire?

As Rocco notes, Pope Francis doesn’t wear cuff links... What a blessed relief this all is.
 
Look, I enjoy ecclesiastical splendor as much as the next reactionary, but I think Mr. Jeffrey Tucker wins that thread:

It’s the new Pope’s personal preference and that’s fine. But why a “blessed relief?” I guess I’ll never understand why all this clothing stuff is such a sensitive subject.
It wasn't that long ago that a seminarian could find himself expelled from an American seminary for wearing a cassock. The faculty would take is as a sign that he was a radical reactionary bent on rolling back Vatican II and turning back the clock to the kind of Church they grew up in the bad old 1950's. Gentlemen, sometimes cuff links are just cuff links.

It is true that clothing can be a sensitive subject. I don't expect Father to be in clericals when he's mowing the lawn or out for a morning jog, but priests should dress like priests. The Roman collar is a sign of detachment from the world, of renouncing the good of marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Granted, many priests fall short of that ideal but this is a vale of tears and all that. We do not hold ourselves up as models of virtue, but Christ.

Some priests were formed with the idea that being humble means dressing in rags, celebrating banal liturgies, and building ugly churches. With all respect, there is no one in this world more patronizing than someone who professes to love the poor but has never been poor themselves. The poor, by and large, don't want ugliness and banality. Their lives are hard and they want a glimpse of heaven. Think about it: the most beautiful churches in the United States were built with the money and hard work of poor or working class immigrants. Our great-grandfathers worshipped in ornate cathedrals and gorgeous parish churches with reredos and high altars adorned with exquisite wood working, stone altars, and lovely statuary. It was their comfortable, easy going, middle class descendants who tore it all down and replaced them with felt banners and picnic table altars. "Why was this expensive oil not sold and given to the poor?"

I've known priests and bishops who were uncomfortable with lay people wanting to kiss their hands or their episcopal ring. Gentlemen, I would submit that you feel uncomftable because you think they are doing this for you, personally. On the contrary: St. Francis of Assissi knelt and kissed the hands of priests who were well known for keeping concubines and other notorious public sins. He didn't do it for them but because they represented Christ. They bring Christ to the people through the sacraments. You may believe you're being humble by always wearing polo shirts and slacks, but it seems to this dumb ass layman that the more humble thing for you to do would be to put aside your personal preference for dressing down and always looking the part of what you are: alter Christus.
 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breakin' the Law, Breakin' the Law

The revolution in the Catholic Church, like most revolutions, was very much a top down affair. It was committees of intellectuals that proposed and enforced all of the enormous changes in the Church's theology, spirituality, philosophy, and culture. How often have we dreamed of a top down restoration? How many lay Catholics have begged, pleaded, cajoled, protested, written letters, started blogs, or done any number of things to get the hierarchy to do something, anything to restore some of our lost discipline? How joyful would some of us be if Pope Francis or Bishop Stumblebum or Father Flapdoodle started laying down the law good and hard? Away with liturgical dancing! Be gone EMHC's! The collected works of Marty Haugen and David Haas can go straight to hell on eagle's wings! Get down on your knees if you expect to receive Holy Communion!

We often speak of a restoration of the Church but it would be more accurate to say that we must start over. Imagine a plastic water bottle. Somebody pokes a tiny hole in the bottom and over time all of the water leaks out until the bottle is empty. Plugging the hole is not going to bring back the water that leaked out. The bottle must be filled up again with new water.

Trads are frequently accused of being like the Pharisees. To be pharisaical is to adhere to the law as an end in itself. The laws of the Church are meant to strengthen the believer. They are supposed to provide him direction and discipline in his pursuit of personal holiness. It's important that the Magisterium not be actively undermining that discipline to be sure. But it's not enough. The Church cannot create piety through command. Restoration begins at home.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus pablum

Strange days indeed when I'm the most cheerful person in the room. I know nothing of Pope Francis's background as Cardinal Begoglio but the tradosphere is awash in gloom and doom. The office can change men. Conversion is central to our religion. But even if he turns out as bad as some Traditionalists think, that doesn't change our Blessed Lord's promises to us. I'll panic if he explicitly repeals Summorum Pontificum, but anything short of that I expect it to be business as usual at the parish and diocesan level. Benedict XVI was probably the most Tradition friendly pope I'll see in my lifetime. How much did the Church really change under his tenure?

For all their criticisms of Bl. John Paul II's "rock star" papacy, I wonder if even Traditionalists are buying too much into the modern tendency to idolize the person of the pope. I would cry tears of joy if Francis lopped off the heads of all those who richly deserve it, but I'm not going to hold my breath. I am surprised the cardinals elected someone who's 76 years old. Elderly popes can surprise us, both for good (Ratzinger) and for ill (Roncalli.) Catholics are supposed to keep their gaze fixed on heaven, not on earth. At the personal level, the papacy of Francis I will mean what it did for me under Benedict XVI: prayer, sacraments, learning the faith. I can hope that he'll be the sonofabitch pope the Church desperately needs, but it's not the end of the Church if he isn't.

Habemus Papam

Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is now His Holiness, Pope Francis I. The first thing that came to my mind was what our Blessed Lord said to St. Francis of Assissi:

"Francis, rebuild my house which as you can see is falling into ruin."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Speaking of blind spots...

Hmm:

A reclusive, effeminate theologian like Benedict XVI is almost guaranteed to lack the worldly skills needed – just in rooting out corruption in the Vatican.
 
It's a bit rich for an out and proud homosexual like Sullivan to start throwing around the word "effeminate." Cheap shots aside, I really and truly do not understand the mania for women priests among a certain subset of the Catholic population. The Episcopal Church has no shortage of women willing to serve as pastors, but they do have an increasingly dire shortage of laity. To the assertion that women have no say on the government of the Church, I say on the contrary, they have far too much influence already. Maybe not in Vatican City, but if you darken the door step of any Catholic parish you'll notice that the lay staff is overwhelmingly comprised of women. The Church has enough trouble as it is getting men into the pews every Sunday, to say nothing of the theological and ontological impossibility of women becoming priests. I think that's the real reason for the advocacy of women priests: liberals cannot stomach the idea that men and women are not fungible or that there still exist male only enclaves in the world.

Just because you have free will doesn't mean you have any say in the matter

I'm too dumb to say anything new or profound about the old "Free will vs. God's omniscience" debate, but I'm a blogger so I won't let that stop me. At the outset it's important to make a distinction between God's active will and God's permissive will. The final cause, or telos, of the universe is the glory of God and everything that happens is ordered toward that end. God gave human beings free will and we are to use our free will to choose the good and avoid the evil. Obviously we don't always do this. God does not will us to sin but he permits it and can draw good from it, e.g. the man who sins and suffers for it can come to realize that he is helpless by himself and that he must trust in God. So far so good.

God wills that all men be saved but it's clear from Scripture that not all men are saved. Is this the fault of God? No, it is the result of our free choice. If a man goes to hell it is, pardon the expression, his own damned fault. Therefore, it's a category error when atheists or pagans ask how a good and loving God could possibly sentence someone to burn in hell for all eternity. He doesn't; the damned chose their eternal destiny by turning away from the Good. Knowing this, why do we willfully sin? Hell if I know.

God created each individual with some purpose in mind. That's why we talk so much about "discerning God's will for our life." How much can we really know about it though? If we're immersed in a riotous, sinful lifestyle, it's unlikely the Almighty is going to whisper in our ears what He wants us to do. But even if we do everything right on our end - pray, receive the sacraments, live virtuously - He's not going to boom out His will for us from on high. Take a look at yourself while you're before the Blessed Sacrament.

What are you good at? Maybe you can sing, or write, or draw. Maybe you're good with numbers, or you're interested in science. Think in the broadest, most general terms first. Once you've figured out what you're good at, look at the different fields within that skill set: musician, author, artist, accounting, physicist, etc. You may be thinking that fields like science and mathematics and business or whatever are not appropriate for a religious outlook. On the contrary: everything is ordered to the glory of God whether we intend it or not. By being a good Catholic Christian, you are contributing to the glory of God whether you explicitly speak of your faith to your fellows or not.

If you, Catholic reader, are good at stringing a coherent sentence together, why not start a blog or write a novel or screenplay? It's a tough racket, sure, but today it's never been easier to publish something. Getting discovered by a wide audience, well, that's a different story. Keep at it though.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rest... in... peeeaaaace...


I'm not quoting the Undertaker. Paul Bearer was one of the great managers back from when every wrestler had a gimmick. Personally, I think managers should make a comeback in the WWE. A lot of the younger guys have wrestling talent but they're not as good on the mic. I'm glad that dirty Dutch Mantell has returned in the guise of Zeb Colton. It's a pity about Jack Swagger's recent run in with the law which will probably end his career prematurely. Weed the people indeed. Rest in peace Paul Bearer.

The enemy in the mirror

Theory of the Hijacked Council:

That these things have taken place is beyond dispute, as anyone who has ever had the misfortune to watch a media story about the Catholic Church knows. Invariably, the narrative is always presented in terms of a powerless laity versus a power-hoarding hierarchy, or disenfranchised women against an elitist male only priesthood, or homosexuals wanting to be included versus narrow minded traditionalists. This is the media narrative, and many in the world have adopted the attitude that the Second Vatican Council was about rectifying these inequalities. This is the "Virtual Council" the pope speaks of, the "hijacked council" theory that Benedict and other conservative prelates have spoken of in the past, and which many lay apologists have adopted.

Unfortunately, Pope Benedict omits a very important point in his evaluation of the Council, a point of such importance that, in my opinion, any historiography of the Council which refuses to acknowledge it is deficient. That is simply this: It was not the media primarily that created the virtual Council, but the Church itself. A media perversion of the Council that was merely external could not have had such a profound impact on the interior life of the Church. Benedict speaks of a perversion of the Faith whose fruit was "that of the media, not of the fathers." The destruction of Catholic faith and worship was implemented from within, and in many cases, with the formal or tacit approval of the very highest ecclesiastics in the Church, the popes not excluded. Consider the following:
The wounds suffered by the Body of Christ in the last fifty years are almost entirely self inflicted (and one could omit the "almost.") I've always had difficulty with the "hijacked council" meme because the self-destruction of the Catholic faith was so universal. The bishops who wrote and voted on the documents of Vatican II were the same bishops who flew home and oversaw the systematic dismantling of the faith of their fathers. The bishops did nothing at best, and at worst they actively supported the rearranging of the altars, the disappearance of Latin, the enstupidation of catechetics, the devastation of music, and the decline of the priesthood and religious life. No one held a gun to their head. The devil cannot force anyone to do evil. The crisis was born and has continued to grow because of the specific decisions of a specific generation of priests and bishops. Even the Good Pope/Evil Curia theory only goes so far. The Curia is a brood of vipers to be sure, but who appointed them? Who has the authority to remove them?

It's frustrating to me when orthodox Catholics hem and haw and blame the chaos on impersonal forces beyond anyone's control. They cite the revolutionary atmosphere of the 1960's, or the birth control pill, or secularization, or the culture. Ladies and gentlemen, the Church is the way she is because we are the way we are. We did this. We are responsible for this. It was always us and us alone. The world's gonna world and the devil's gonna devil. Things didn't have to be this way. And the first step toward restoration is admitting that the problem lies within ourselves and to fix ourselves first. The crisis of the Church is that she no longer knows who she is or what she wants to be. HAVE YOU MADE YOUR DECISION FOR CHRIST?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

He's OUR son of a bitch

Hell yeah. Hell yeah:

The Church is in a state of sloth from suckling on the state’s teat because most Catholic charities around the world are funded by grants, not the faithful. Priests have disappeared from their confessionals and rectories to hang out in louche leather bars. Lawsuits and inner-city decay have bankrupted dioceses around the world. Folks in Europe don’t even pretend the Church exists anymore. So we do not need a black pope, we do not need a pastoral pope, we do not need a friendly pope, and we do not need some smiling old forgettable jackass. We need a son of a bitch pope. We need an unsmiling grumpy old man who says things such as “Get your ass to work on corporal works of mercy or you’ll go to hell” and “Now, therefore, we declare, say, define, and pronounce that for every human creature it is altogether necessary for salvation to be subject to the authority of the Roman pontiff.” If talking-head media libtard gasbags squawk, he can always use the papal form of the old F.U.: “I shall remember you in my intentions at Mass.”
I couldn't have put it better myself. Don't stop with the pope though. I say bring on the son of a bitch bishops and priests. Enough of these mincing paaaastoral nice guys. Down with Father Flapdoodle in his short sleeved clerical shirt and blue jeans. To hell with the flaccid sermons which tell us that Jesus was a nice guy so we should all be nice to our neighbor too. Contrast this with the holy St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests: he once said from the pulpit that if parents do not instruct their children in the faith, then they can spend their first few decades in hell preparing rooms for when their little monsters join them. If he said that today, he'd be immediately banished to the wilderness of hospital chaplaincy which is where many bishops and religious superiors send trouble priests who squawk too much about getting into heaven and staying out of hell.

Go Rand Go

Watching Rand Paul filibuster in the Senate - an actual filibuster with nonstop talking - reminded me of why I could never survive in politics. Is there actually a debate on this? Are there people who seriously believe the president has the right to drone anyone, anywhere, any time, for any reason? I'm sure they'll protest that the God King is wise enough to be entrusted with this power but they'll scream bloody murder about it if a Republican ever regains the White House, which is exceedingly unlikely given that Republicans are enthusiastically cheering on the election of a new people at the behest of their corporate overlords and their bottomless appetite for cheap Mestizo labor. Oh I can picture my press conferences like they were already on CSPAN:

"Senator Levinson, why are you arguing so hard against foreign aid to Israel?"

"Foreign aid should not exist."

"Senator, where do you stand on the Gap?"

"I think it's cruel to constantly berate our teachers for failing to accomplish the impossible. There are bad teachers, sure, but the flip side is that some people's children are ineducable savages."

"How will you address the solvency of Medicare and Social Security?"

"Those programs were doomed as soon as the birth control pill hit the market. No one under the age of 45 with two brain cells to rub together has ever believed that Social Security and Medicare would be there for them. Raise the retirement age to 80 and only continue paying out for workers who are 45 and above right now."

"Senator, how can you possibly deport twenty million undocumented immigrants?"

"One bite at a time."

Mathias Thulmann: Witch Hunter

I don't care what the SF/Fantasy snobs say, I like the Warhammer novels. I haven't even played the table top game. And the witch hunter is based partly on Solomon Kane so I was bound to like him. I've plowed through the omnibus in the last few days. The witch hunters of Sigmar are supposed to be a parody of the Inquisition. In the three hundred years of the Spanish Inquisition's existence, about three thousand people were put to death in total. That's about how many Hitler or Stalin ordered to their deaths before breakfast every morning. To be sure, tu quoque is a fallacy. On the other, it's a fallacy to hang the human appetite for depravity solely around the neck of religion. It could be that it isn't religion that drives men to do evil, but that we're driven to evil and religion is one of the few things that can restrain us. Besides, all right thinking men know that the Inquisition was mostly a good thing that got out of hand in a few isolated incidents because of political corruption. It's a pity the Church doesn't have something analogous to the Templars of Sigmar anymore. I'd have been a born witch hunter.

Warhammer Fantasy isn't quite as hilariously grimdark as Warhammer 40K, it's science fiction counterpart, but it scores pretty lopsidedly on the sliding scale of idealism vs cynicism. And some of the novels have been surprisingly good. I finished the Nagash trilogy and the Sigmar trilogy earlier this year. Chaos is hinted to be ultimately triumphant in the Warhammer universe. Evil often has the upper hand in our world but we are secure in the knowledge that the war is already over and the good guys won.