Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rex Mottram goes fourth

This is a subject near and dear to my heart:
The point is that there is no fixed formula for what RCIA is supposed to look like, and the document itself states that part of the Council's vision was the "adaptation to local traditions" of the process of initiation. Therefore, we are on very solid footing when we suggest that RCIA need not look like the beast we have come to know it as, with weekly classes, RCIA "teams", lame reflections on the readings, service projects, etc. The contemporary experience we have come to know as RCIA is simply the method most parishes, following the USCCB, have adopted for implementing the directives of the RCIA document. But it need not be so, and there are viable alternatives.

Such as?

First, let us look at the Traditional way.

In the pre-Conciliar days, reception into the Church was a very private affair. A candidate would meet with a priest who would examine his motives and remind him of the responsibilities of becoming Catholic. if the candidate had no objections and cleared this first stage, he would begin to "take instruction" as it was called, which consisted of weekly meetings with the priest who would instruct him in the basics of the faith whilst continuing to assess and candidate's spiritual state. After an indeterminate amount of time - maybe six months, maybe two years, depending on the candidate - a small Mass would be said at which the candidate would be received into the Church. It could be at any time of year and was often on a feast day chosen by the candidate. The Mass was usually a daily Mass, small, and attended mainly by family and friends invited by the candidate.
If I had had my druthers, my conversion would have been a private affair as well.  I chose St. Patrick as my confirmation saint because I was inspired by both his life story and his conversion of the Irish. It'd have been awesome to be received into the Church on his feast day, and then go out for green dyed Corona later, heh.

Not to pat myself on the back, but I'm one of those types who read themselves into the Church as Boniface describes in his article. Some of my classmates were there because they wanted to convert for the sake of their spouse. Most had been raised in some kind of Evangelical background. California is pretty liberal in the big cities, but out here in the wilderness where I live you could easily pretend you were in the heart of the red state Midwest if you squinted hard.

I didn't have a strong Christian upbringing. My parents had the easy going attitude toward Christianity that I believe most Americans have: we believe in God, we believe in Jesus, going to church is optional. After I came home from the Army, I had made up my mind that I wanted to become more serious about the Christian faith. The problem was deciding which church to join. I was dissatisfied with the notion that choosing a church is simply a matter of deciding where to hang your hat on Sunday morning. There were so many different Christian denominations; which one was the right one? Did it even make sense to speak of a right one?

Like Blessed Cardinal Newman said, to immerse yourself in history is to cease to be Protestant. I didn't actually ask to enter the Church until I had been studying for several years. The parish I called happened to be the closest one to my house at the time. Even then when I didn't have any first hand experience with the Catholic Church, a lot of what went on there struck me as being wrong somehow. And that's how I learned of a little thing called "the Spirit of Vatican II."

Speaking of that, many parishes simply read from some AmChurch publication for the Prayers of the Faithful. Occasionally, those intentions really display their true colors. This morning I heard, "Let us pray that the Church may fully implement the reforms of the Second Vatican Council." Like everything else about that council, those words can be interpreted in several ways. But I added under my breath, "Let us pray that the demon from hell known as the Spirit of Vatican II may be fully exorcised from the Church by young people burning with love for the faith and for tradition." Lord, hear our prayer.

Friday, August 29, 2014

"The problem is that Christians don't have Christian values"

Lots of good comments in this entry by Dalrock:
The other problem is what it teaches the children. Their family was just broken apart and their lives turned upside down. When they ask who did such a terrible thing to them, the parents answer:
Why no one, silly! This kind of chaos is normal, and you should be happy about it like mommy and daddy are. Now sleep well!
This doesn’t mean you have to fight in front of the children or draw them (further) into the process. But lying and pretending no one did this terrible thing to them creates its own problems. It also teaches them in the most up close and personal way possible that neither of their parents believe that solemn vows have any moral force at all.
The other answer we see parents telling children is:
Don’t worry, we both still love you and we always will.
Yet the child knows mommy and daddy made the same promise to each other and are quite happily changing their mind on that. The divorce is proof that one or both parents don’t take their promises to love seriously at all. Yet a promise that both parents love them is supposed to comfort the child.
It's a wonder that non-Christians get married at all these days. Which is more difficult to escape: a five year cell phone contract or a five year marriage?

Divorce utterly destroys children. It just does. Everyone knows this, most of all the divorcing parents. That's why they work so hard to rationalize their decision and furiously resent it when anyone is gauche enough to point out what they're doing to their own children.

Meanwhile in the Soviet Republic of California...

Am I the only one surprised at how puritanical the liberals have become?
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — State lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that would make California the first state to define when “yes means yes” while investigating sexual assaults on college campuses.
The Senate unanimously passed SB967 as states and universities across the U.S. are under pressure to change how they handle rape allegations. The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated his stance on the bill.
Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said his bill would begin a paradigm shift in how California campuses prevent and investigate sexual assault. Rather than using the refrain “no means no,” the definition of consent under the bill requires “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” Earlier versions of the bill had similar language.
"Hey girl, this party's lame. Want to come back to my place?"


"All right, first I'll need you to fill out these forms in triplicate. Sign here, here, and here, initial here..."

Continuing our exercise in crimethink, also known as pattern recognition, this is another transparent attempt by women to make the post-hoc rationalization of their feelbad into law. No unmarried man gets invited into an unmarried woman's home after a night of drinking and thinks that she just wants to "hang out." A friend of a friend who works as a law clerk said that the definition of "drunk" in these cases will mean a complete loss of faculties. Very well, if she still has some control of her faculties then why is she allowing a guy she just met into what any reasonable person would see as a compromising situation?

Our grandparents had more sense than this. Young women did not accompany strange men into places where they would be alone because they knew one or both of them might give into passion. At the very least, the woman would be socially shamed. A white knight acquaintance of mine said this means our grandparents were barbaric because maybe she just wanted to hang out. Right.

In practice, consent will mean whatever the presiding judge wants it to mean. Maybe she gave consent because she was buzzed, or being peer pressured, or too horny for her own good. Previous verbal or written consent shall not be used against a young lady in a court of law.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dinosaur porn will be our gift to the ages

Even if you care nothing for the Pink/Blue divide in science-fiction, this link is worth clicking on for a short story from Gene Wolfe. Included is that infamous Hugo nominated short story where a young woman wishes that her lover was a dinosaur. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.

Stephen King has said that there comes a magical time in every aspiring writer's life when they read something and think, "Wow. This sucks. I could do better than this. And this got published." Not just published, but nominated for a big science fiction award!

I'm convinced that what aspiring writers need more than anything else is a confidence boost. That's what they're really asking for when they go to established publishing names and ask for advice. It's easy to fall into the trap of writing about writing instead of doing actual writing. I'm certainly guilty of it. I've published a few short works on this blog before, plus many more that I don't publish here.

Writing isn't a vacation from the real world. It's actual work. Unless you're extraordinarily lucky or extraordinarily good, you won't be able to make it your full time job for a while. It's worth it though. If you can string a coherent sentence together and you enjoy making shit up, give it a try. Don't quit your day job just yet though.

Pattern recognition is the source of all the world's troubles

Husbands who call their wives fat may be guilty of domestic abuse:
Husbands who constantly criticise their wives over their weight or appearance may be guilty of domestic abuse, a Labour frontbencher has suggested.
Seema Malhotra, Labour’s new shadow anti domestic violence minister, said such abuse could be part of a wider pattern of ‘controlling behaviour’ which can be as bad as a physical attack.
She said: ‘It can be part of a pattern of controlling behaviour that leaves people feeling fearful and terrorised in their own homes.’
Rape conviction statistics won't improve "until women stop getting drunk:"
Rape conviction statistics will not improve “until women stop getting drunk”, a retiring judge has said, as she is criticised by women's rights campaigners for her "potentially very harmful" remarks.
Judge Mary Jane Mowat, 66, who worked at Oxford Crown Court until earlier this month, said it was difficult to secure convictions when women could not be sure what had happened because they had drunk too much.
She said juries were faced with an impossible task when a case came down to one person's word against another.
I've noticed a pattern: women tend to be eager to codify their feelbad into law so that they won't ever be held responsible for their decisions.

About that ice bucket challenge

I'm still not sure what it's all about. Isn't essentially a dare to not give money to charity?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The greatest pope of the twentieth century

The Great Pius X:
First I would like to highlight the striking clarity and uncompromising straight-forwardness of Pius X. This is nowhere more evidenced than in Pius' famous 1904 with Zionist leader Theodor Herzl, who came to the pontiff seeking support for the Jewish movement in Palestine. When if he would support Jewish independence in a restored Israel, Pope Pius X responded:
"We cannot give approval to this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem—but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church I cannot tell you anything different. The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people"

Herzl, recounting the interview in his diary, noted:

At the outset, to be sure, I tried to be conciliatory. I recited my little piece about extraterritorialization, res sacrae extra commercium [holy places removed from business]. It didn't make much of an impression. Gerusalemme, he said, must not get into the hands of the Jews.

"And its present status, Holy Father?"

"I know, it is not pleasant to see the Turks in possession of our Holy Places. We simply have to put up with that. But to support the Jews in the acquisition of the Holy Places, that we cannot do."

I said that our point of departure had been solely the distress of the Jews and that we desired to avoid the religious issues.

"Yes, but we, and I as the head of the Church, cannot do this. There are two possibilities. Either the Jews will cling to their faith and continue to await the Messiah who, for us, has already appeared. In that case they will be denying the divinity of Jesus and we cannot help them. Or else they will go there without any religion, and then we can be even less favorable to them. The Jewish religion was the foundation of our own; but it was superseded by the teachings of Christ, and we cannot concede it any further validity. The Jews, who ought to have been the first to acknowledge Jesus Christ, have not done so to this day."
Can you imagine if any prelate spoke in such clear language today? He'd be hounded out of office and banished to a monastery to do penance for what he'd done.

A lot of people argue that Pius didn't defeat Modernism but only drove it underground. The complete collapse of the Church in the 1970s is presented as proof that the Church wasn't as healthy as she appeared. That's a possibility, but one could easily use the collapse to argue the opposite: the damage wouldn't have been nearly as bad if the Modernists hadn't been presented with a golden opportunity at Vatican II.

Attentive or nerdy readers will have quickly figured out that my blog's title is a pun based on Pius X's list of condemned Modernist propositions, Lamentabili Sane. It makes for a sobering read. Modernists pretty much have had free reign over Scripture studies for forty years. If you've ever heard your priest deliver a homily about how the real miracle of the loaves and fishes was that Jesus inspired everyone to share their picnic lunches (I hear that one every year) then you can be sure your priest was formed by Modernists.

Take proposition 31: "The doctrine concerning Christ taught by Paul, John, and the Councils of Nicea, Ephesus and Chalcedon is not that which Jesus taught but that which the Christian conscience conceived concerning Jesus." I hear this one a lot from godless heathens and those who received a Jesuit education (but I repeat myself.) For the Modernist, the Catholic faith is not a deposit of divinely revealed dogmas that must be believed, but our efforts to rationalize our subjective experiences. It is indeed the synthesis of all heresies, one that has been corroding the Church for over a century. In the distant future, the Modernist crisis will be listed among the greatest crises of the Church, after the Protestant Revolt and the Arian heresy.

St. Pius X, pray for us.

Scandal on the Internet: Five Guys and the Quinnspiracy

Video has some NSFW language, but otherwise it neatly summarizes the scandal tearing up the world of video game journalism. You almost have to wonder if the whole thing is a put on because it includes pretty much every one of the manosphere's bugaboos: women and social justice warriors spoiling what was traditionally an all male enclave, a self-professed feminist using sex to get ahead in her career, white knights riding to her rescue when she's called out on her actions, lack of journalistic integrity, and a conspiracy of silence. I'm surprised that reddit is censoring this discussion, but I'm astonished that 4chan is doing so. I mean, if 4chan has gone over to the social justice dark side, then truly no one is safe.

I know, video game journalism seems like such a silly thing to get upset over. The last time I seriously read a magazine on video games, I must have been in junior high with a brand new SNES. Video gaming is a billion dollar industry now. For better and mostly for worse, young men and boys now spend most of their creative energies on video games. And much like literature, movies, and music, video gaming has been overrun with obnoxious SJWs who act both as gatekeepers and as kommisars who jealously guard which acceptable messages can be sent through the medium.

Fortunately in this case, it's easier than ever to bypass the gatekeepers. No matter how often these things blow up in people's faces, we never learn that the cover up is frequently worse than the crime. Thanks to the internet, the cover up is not only worse but also impossible.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy birthday H.P. Lovecraft

Beefy Levinson noticed that today was H.P. Lovecraft's birthday when he awoke in the Stygian darkness of the early hours. An eldritch iridescence peeked through his bedroom door. He could hear the indescribable gibbering of some fetid antediluvian monstrosity. He tore open his door only to be confronted by an inconceivable landscape with noisome non-Euclidean geometry. And there, in all it's unutterable horror was a squamous, rugose, tentacled, ululating, fungoid blasphemy which began yelling, "Everything you know is wrong, black is white, up is down, short is long, and everything you thought was just so important doesn't matter, everything you know is wrong, just forget the words and sing along, all you need to understand is everything you know is wrong!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cynicism makes you think too big

An interview with Michael Voris by one of Father Z's long time commenters:
Some good, young Catholics have fallen into cynicism. What advice can you give them to stay away from this sin, especially at university?
I think the answer to cynicism is action. Anyone can sit around and gripe. You do not get a right to complain if you have not tried to fix the problem. Take a soul to heaven....the problem with cynicism is that it thinks big--What can we do to change the Church? Take that friend who is living with her boyfriend and bring her to God.

In one sense it is incumbent on those who do know the Faith to go out save a soul. Somebody in your sphere... Enjoy the grace to be called
 That's absurd. I am going to change the Church and the entire world with my blog, through my sheer force of will and the power of my Shakespearian prose.

All kidding aside, that's good advice from Voris. It's easy to start regarding everything with a resigned cynicism. I'm frequently guilty of that. We may not be able to change the Church but we can start with one soul we meet in our day to day life. God gives us the leadership we deserve so we should consider our current leadership in both the secular and religious spheres to be a call to repentance.

Sometimes that's just the way things are

Slouching toward the Synod?
Aristotle taught that there is a greater evil in habitual sin than in a single lapse accompanied by the sting of remorse. Adultery is a case in point, especially when it leads to new, legally sanctioned arrangements—“remarriage”—that are almost impossible to undo without great pain and effort. Thomas Aquinas uses the term perplexitas to characterize cases like these. They are situations from which there is no escape that does not incur guilt of one sort or another. Even a single act of infidelity entangles the adulterer in perplexity: Should he confess his deed to his spouse or not? If he confesses, he might just save the marriage and, in any case, he avoids a lie that would eventually destroy mutual trust. On the other hand, a confession could pose an even greater threat to the marriage than the sin itself (which is why priests often counsel penitents against revealing infidelity to their spouses). Note, by the way, that St. Thomas teaches that we never stumble into perplexitas without some measure of personal guilt and that God allows this as a punishment for the sin that initially set us down the wrong path. 
I once asked a priest friend who had once worked for a marriage tribunal if there was something broken about the annulment process or if there really were that many Catholics joined in invalid marriages. He didn't hesitate before replying, "Both."

This feels like Humanae Vitae all over again. The elderly progressives are coming out for one last bum rush against Tradition. I expect that the doctrine will be formally upheld; canon law is one thing but here we're talking about the unambiguous words of Christ himself. They'll get around that by watering down the annulment process even further.

I'm glad that I'll never be a bishop. I don't have the patience to constantly speak in Romanita, that peculiar talent clerics have for speaking at great length without actually saying anything. I've always been curious about that: why is it that so few priests and bishops can speak in clear declarative sentences? They see themselves as having to maintain a precarious balance between all of the feuding factions within the Church. Most of them detest confrontations of any sort, so they take care to speak in the most general and inoffensive platitudes they can. Being divisive is considered one of the unforgiveable priestly sins. Priests who call us out on the most popular sins of the day often find themselves banished to the diocesan equivalent of Siberia.

Again, Scripture isn't my strong suit but I vaguely recall someone important once saying that he came not to bring peace but the sword, and that a man would find himself set against his own household sometimes.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's liberalism all the way down

Zippy has another good entry in the seemingly interminable debates over the definition of Game. One criticism frequently made toward Game or the red pill worldview or neoreaction or whatever you want to call it is that it takes what used to be common sense and repackages it as something new. I don't recall the specific entry but last year during the great debate between Zippy and Dalrock, one of Zippy's commenters was furiously denouncing the manosphere in general as a bunch of frauds, charlatans, and hucksters. The criticism was so florid and passionate that one suspects she felt that many "red pill truths" struck to close to home for comfort. A few ankle biters have taken me to task on this blog: "How DARE you link to these people! How DARE you lend any credence to these lapdogs of Satan!"

My response then still holds now: it's a fair criticism, in my opinion, to say that the red pill is mostly a repackaging of old truths we used to take for granted. I would add that many red pill guys don't take it far enough. They only pull up stakes and move to another corner of the Matrix. They rightly desire to roll back liberalism in the sphere of relations between the sexes. The problem is that they are just fine with liberalism in other spheres such as politics and the economy.

Think about it from the point of view of someone raised with a "blue pill" worldview. They've never been taught what their grandfathers took for granted. From their point of view, a lot of this stuff - be confident, work out, have a mission in life, approach women - is revolutionary stuff indeed. That's why I don't get so hysterical about the manosphere as some other tradcons. These guys are the blind being led by the blind. The right response is not to furiously denounce them for wanting to escape from the pit, but to point them to a better guide.

Will the real Pope Francis please stand up?

Depressing though it may be, this jives with my sense of Pope Francis:
The impression given by this interview is that the pope “doesn’t do God”. The Francis of El Clarín comes across as a worldly, somewhat banal figure. Having covered the Church of England for most of my journalistic career my antenna has been finely tuned to appreciate episcopal cant – the verbal sludge of conventional wisdom, platitudes and calculated boredom designed to obfuscate that arises in many Anglican interviews. The El Clarín piece has left me feeling at home, and somewhat sticky.
...Of Francis' eleven interviews, ten have been with secular reporters from secular newspapers. The results are interviews that show a Francis who is curiously similar to his interlocutor. Is the pope manipulating the press or is the press manipulating the pope? After 500 days in office, the real Jorge Mario Bergoglio remains elusive.
Scripture isn't my strong suit but I vaguely recall somebody once saying, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets."

h/t: Phil Blosser

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"You can't turn back the clock."

The hell you can't. You should turn back the clock if it's showing the wrong time:
In times of perilous confusion we should take a step back.
Isn’t that perhaps what we do in life? Faced with a confusing situation, difficult to untangle, which makes us worried and perplexed, we pause and then take a step back, avoiding the advance into danger.
It is what we have done with regard to the faith. 

Yes, we believe that illustration renders the idea of our choices. We love the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and our Mother, we love the Pope and the Bishop, but faced all around us with the evident confusion in Christian life, we reject an advance into ambiguity and uncertainty and we ask for the grace to stay with true Christianity.
Essentially our position is that. Consequently we believe, and we have always believed, that we are not in disobedience.
We would be in disobedience if we had invented “another [type of] Christianity”, if we had invented “our Mass”, “our pastoral work”, our catechism”, if we had recognized “other superiors” outside the ones that the Church has given us in the Pope and Bishop.
We do nothing of this sort.  Judging the new pastoral, the new rite and the new catechesis to be filled with confusion, we have simply availed ourselves of the rights that the Church has always recognized to souls at times of crisis: we follow  past praxis and doctrine of the Church i.e. the sure one, the one before the crisis exploded.
The Church will eventually shift back toward her more traditional praxis if for no other reason that if current trends continue, us right-wing reactionary cranks will be the only ones left.

I demand satisfaction, signore

Michael Z. Williamson addresses the great moral question of our time:
Dear United Nations: I note with approval that there's a bill before the US Congress to compensate African Americans for their mistreatment in the past. However, I was talking to a Russian Jewish friend of mine, and it occurred to me that her ancestors were slaves to Nubian Africans. Should she not be compensated also?
 The Jews were also repressed by the Romans, forerunners of the modern Italians. But the Romans were subjugated by the Celts in 390BC. The Romans returned the favor, and then oppressed Christians as well, before becoming Christians themselves and forcibly converting the Pagan Celts. Later Christianized Celts were oppressed by other Christianized Romans, and the two combined, which is where we come to the African issue. However, certain Africans enslaved other Africans, so perhaps the Central African Republic should be footing part of the bill...
Ever since I was old enough to read history, I have publicly requested - nay, demanded - that the Italian government pay me reparations for waging war on my savage Germanic ancestors. No justice, no peace.

RIP Robin Williams

Normally when a celebrity passes away, I say a quick prayer for their soul and move on. Williams's death is different for me, and not just because I loved so much of his work. Depression claimed another life. In all the interviews and reflections I've read, nobody has had a bad word to say about him. That's a testament to the kind of man that he was.

People who have never experienced depression can never know. It stays with you even when everything appears to be going your way. Some people are able to carry on in such a way that not even their friends and family suspect that something's wrong. Williams spoke openly of his addiction to alcohol and drugs. Depressed people often turn to such things as a way to self-medicate. Those don't make it go away, but it temporarily dulls the pain.

You can't "snap out of it." You can't make it go away through sheer force of will. That's why it's so insidious: it saps your spirit, your will to push on. You feel alone even when surrounded by loved ones. It whispers in your ear that there's no reason to go on. You feel like you've always been depressed and can't remember a time when you weren't. You feel that you'll never not be depressed and life appears to be one meaningless occurrence after another. Tomorrow doesn't feel like a promise but a prison. Some people reach the point where death appears to be the only escape. I hate that old platitude, "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." Suicide only sounds permanent if you believe temporal existence is all there is.

The Church used to take a dim view of suicides; indeed, she used to teach that they went straight to hell. It's an act where the murderer and the victim are the same person which at first glance seems to preclude the possibility of repentance. She's since softened that view a bit. Almost by definition, a suicide isn't in his right mind. Self-preservation is our most powerful instinct. The truth is, we never know another person's ultimate destiny until we're in the same boat so to speak. So say a prayer for God to have mercy on the soul of Robin Williams. He brought laughter to countless millions in life. Lord have mercy.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Time and Punishment

This is my first venture into hard science fiction. I've done meticulous research and I'm pleased with the result. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Twelve year old Billy Marshall knocked on his uncle's front door. Milton Zuckerman lived in a nondescript house on a nondescript cul de sac in a nondescript suburb. Some said that Zuckerman's house was conspicuously nondescript given his reputation as a mad genius. Still, except for the occasional sound of electrical buzzing or sirens from his basement, he kept to himself and paid his taxes so the neighbors left him alone.

The door flew open. Zuckerman's snow white hair was disheveled, his beard a tangle, his lab coat stained with coffee, wine, and other substances Billy preferred not to guess at.

"Hmm? Yes? Yes? Who's there? Who... oh! It's you nephew," Zuckerman said, finally looking down at Billy.

"Hey Uncle Milton," Billy said.

"Is there something I can do for you? Hmm?"

"We were going out for lunch today, remember?"

"We are? Wait..." Zuckerman reached into his lab coat pocket and removed a smart phone. "Let's see... oh my goodness gracious! Wednesday already? And here I thought it was still last Friday. Well, come in, come in, give me a minute to get ready."

Billy followed his uncle inside. As usual, Zuckerman's house was a riot of overflowing bookshelves, loose papers, bubbling chemistry equipment, and humming machinery arranged without any rhyme or reason Billy could see. He pushed some books and half eaten pizza slices off of a couch in the living room and sat down to wait.

Zuckerman appeared, now wearing a blazer and a flat cap. "So where we headed nephew?"

"How about burgers?"

"Splendid," Zuckerman said. To him, food was simply fuel to keep his biological mechanisms ticking. "Follow me Billy."

They stepped into the garage. Next to Zuckerman's old Lincoln Town Car was a new machine Billy had never seen before. It was a capsule leaning upright against the wall and large enough to hold an adult human being. Attached was a console with colorful buttons, gauges, needles, and electrical conductors.

"What's that Uncle Milton?" Billy asked. "Did you just build it?"

"Oh yes. You see Billy, that is my time machine."

Billy's eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped. "Wow! That's so cool! A real time machine Uncle Milton? How does it work?!"

"It doesn't. Time travel into the past is impossible. You can go into the future but it's a one way trip and by the time you wake up, everyone and everything you ever knew or loved will be dead. If you ever woke up at all that is."

Billy seemed to deflate a bit. "Oh. That's... that's kind of depressing."

"Isn't it? Let's go get lunch."


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beware what you wish for

A commonly suggested panacea for the shortage of Catholic priests is to open up the priesthood to married men. Not so fast. Married priests doesn't mean what you think it means:
However, the argument does not end there, because - and this is where the modern proponents of a married priesthood totally miss the point - while the Early Church admitted clerics to be married, it never, ever condoned clerics engaging in sexual activity. We are introduced to a plethora of texts - most of them previously unknown to me - in support of this position. For example, the Cum in Utum decretal of Pope Siricius, dating from 386:

"Moreover, as it is worthy, chaste, and honest to do so, this is what we advise: let the priests and Levites have no intercourse with their wives, inasmuch as they are absorbed in the daily duties of their ministries. Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, said, "Leave yourselves free for prayer" (1 Cor. 7:5). If lay people are asked to be continent so that their prayers are granted, all the more so a priest who should be ready at any moment, thanks to an immaculate purity, and not fearing the obligation of offering the sacrifice or baptizing. Were he soiled by carnal concupiscence, what could he do? Would he excuse himself? With what shame, in what state of mind would he carry out his functions?"

There is much more. Hundreds of citations over hundreds of pages drive the main point home: It has never been the tradition of the Church to condone a sexually active priesthood.
He goes into more detail here. It's true that the Catholic Church once ordained married men as priests. Ordination, however, meant that the priest had to remain continent from that day forward. He could not have sex with his wife (I can hear the godless heathens in the manosphere chuckling.) Let's pretend that tomorrow Pope Francis announced that he was returning the Church to the ancient discipline of ordaining married men with the understanding that they must remain perfectly continent. Any takers?

On a more serious note, what people need to understand is that the shortage of priests is intimately (no pun intended) linked to the decline of marriage. Even if married priests were permitted to engage in sexual activity, there would only be a momentary uptick in the number of ordinations before returning to its current norm. Mine is a generation without fathers, in both senses of the word.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Oh the tangled webs we weave when it's most important to receive

If public adulterers can't receive communion, why bother with Mass?
It seems to me that one major problem facing the divorced and remarried is the fact that the automatic reception of Holy Communion,at absolutely every single Mass one attends has become such a normal and ingrained part of post-conciliar Catholic life that if one doesn’t receive Holy Communion, it makes one feel abnormal – like a Protestant guest, not a full part of the Eucharistic community – even though on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation, the obligation on the faithful is not to receive Holy Communion, but to be present at the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, or as it used to be described, to hear Mass.
The fact that for most of the Church’s history frequent reception was not the normal practice may bear a little reflection. To begin with, it is surely the case that automatic reception of Holy Communion is in itself undesirable: it was supposed to be part of the heightened sense of “participation” in the celebration that post-conciliar liturgists went on about: what it has actually led to in practice is a huge loss of reverence for the sacraments in general (the growth of automatic reception was mirrored at every stage by a corresponding decline in recourse to sacramental confession), and in a loss of reverence for the sacrament of the altar in particular.
One of the problems is that generally Catholics no longer think of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice but a communal meal. To be sure, there is a "meal" aspect to the liturgy as the priest speaks the words Christ spoke at the Last Supper. It's a half-truth at best to focus on the meal parts. It leads to the distortion of Catholic piety described by Oddie. If you can't receive communion, then why bother going to Mass at all?

The subjective (finite) graces we receive from Holy Communion are distinct from the objective (infinite) graces of the sacrifice of the Mass. There's a reason why the Church commands us to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, but only to receive communion at least once a year. Today everyone receives communion whenever they bother going to Mass at all.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The truth is always pastoral, kid

Bonald on how to escape the morass of Vatican II:
What the Church desperately needs with regard to the Second Vatican Council is to embrace the Hermeneutic of Forgetfulness.  But how to get there?  Attitude will be crucial.  Let us take one of the bromides of the conciliar era, “pastoral”, and turn it to our use.  Vatican II was a pastoral council.  Everyone says so.  But what does “pastoral” mean?  Or, rather, what meaning do we wish to give it?
Only God knows how much clerical cowardice has been justified on the grounds of being pastoral. I've always understood it to mean "permissive." For example, suppose a young couple is shacking up when they approach the priest for marriage preparation. Nine times out of ten our young parochial vicar will think, "Well, that's just what people do today. If I tell these people that they are giving scandal and that fornication is a mortal sin for which they can and will burn in hell for all eternity if they do not repent, then no good will come of it. They will get angry. They might get discouraged. They'll ignore me in any case. They might leave the parish or even the Church. I'll just keep silent. They're trying to make it right anyway, right?"

The problem with this thinking is that 1) it perpetuates the chasm between doctrine and praxis; and 2) the priest is putting his own soul in danger of damnation by failing to teach the truth. The priest is trying to be a nice guy. The couple may or may not be aware that cohabitation is sinful. Catholic catechesis is generally so poor that I no longer take it for granted that baptized and confirmed Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. If they are ignorant, then the priest is counting on ignorance to act as a sort of eighth sacrament to get them off the hook and putting himself in danger of hellfire. Isn't he so much nicer than that harsh Jesus fellow who was always threatening people with hell and making such unreasonable demands of people? His teachings might have worked for first century peasants, but Jesus just doesn't understand that we live in a fast paced technological world and that we have to meet modern man where he's at.

If the cohabiting couple does know that they're doing wrong and the priest remains silent about their living arrangement, then they go away thinking, "I see how it works now. The Church has to maintain her bluff. She has to uphold certain things in public in order to keep the whole house of cards from collapsing, but her leadership doesn't actually believe these things." Religion becomes just another consumer good among many to be adopted, rejected, or tailored as we see fit. For decades, priests and bishops have been teaching the lay faithful that written doctrine is one thing but they don't seriously expect us to believe it or practice it if we don't like it. Don't pay attention to what we say, but what we do as accepted pastoral practices. If the lay faithful have been taught by their pastors to not take the written rules seriously, then whose fault is it when they act accordingly? If you're an anklebiter, pay attention to how many people go to confession vs how many receive communion. It's possible, in the sense that I can imagine it happening without involving a contradiction, that every Catholic is living a life of such outstanding sanctity that they don't need confession beyond their yearly duty. Quizzing the average suburban Catholic on the faith should cure you of that notion.

Being pastoral is essentially a matter of strategy. The bishops have been practicing a strategy of soft-pedaling the faith, and after forty years it's safe to say that it's been a cataclysmic failure. For reasons unknown to me, they still cling to their failed strategy even as they're closing down dozens of parishes and schools. They have a bizarre, almost manic, fixation on declaring Vatican II a success despite the evidence of our lying eyes. They signed on to the project of updating the Church right into the ground, and by God they're going to see it through to the bitter end. If souls weren't being lost, I could admire that kind of dogged determination. Souls are at stake though so farce becomes tragedy.

That's why I fear the upcoming synod on the family in October. I expect that the doctrine on marriage will be formally upheld but the pastoral practice will be watered down even further from its current state. The American annulment mills will grind ever on. We have to be pastoral after all.