Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Are Catholics Going to Realize...

...that the whole climate change movement belongs to the culture of death?

Don't believe me? Read this.

For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens (He is God!), Who formed the earth and made it (He established it; He did not create it a chaos, He formed it to be inhabited!): "I am the LORD, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, 'Seek Me in chaos.'"

Isaiah 45:18-19

Friday, October 23, 2009

Visiting the Orphans and Widows

So is Pope Benedict's forthcoming apostolic constitution poaching? Sheep-stealing? "Fishing in the Anglican pond?"

Or could it be the rescue of the survivors of the shipwreck that is the Anglican communion? Could it be the shelter and care of the numberless orphans and widows of an organization that, bereft of an infallible teaching authority, bears less and less of a resemblance to Christianity? Could it be an act of obedience to Christ's injunction to be "fishers of men"?

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 1:27

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Autumn in Boise

Autumn in Boise isn't the same as autumn in New England, but we do have some splashes of glory here and there...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shepherds in Combat Boots

My good friend Cavey has gotten me to thinking about heroic priests in uniform. Readers will remember the four priests who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor, including Servant of God Vincent Capodanno; but there are many more. The Year for Priests seems like a good time to remember them. Here are just a few. Click the pictures for more information on each one.

Servant of God Emil Kapuan (Captain, U.S. Army, 1916-1951)
What Fr. Emil Kapuan's service in the Korean War lacked in length was made up for in heroism. From July to November, 1950, Fr. Kapuan served bravely on the front lines, offering Mass on the hoods of jeeps, anointing the wounded, burying the dead, and writing letters to the families of dead soldiers to give them the consolation of knowing that their loved ones had died with the Sacraments. On August 2, 1950, Fr. Kapuan was awarded the Bronze Star for rescuing a wounded soldier under intense fire.

But Fr. Kapuan rendered his greatest service in prison. On November 2, 1950, he was captured while ministering to wounded soldiers. Separated from the enlisted prisoners, he would sneak out of his own compound to tend to them, both physically and spiritually. He led the men in prayers, of which one of his favorites was the Rosary. Drawing on his great resourcefulness, he made vessels out of sheet metal for storing clean water and laundering the uniforms of sick and incontinent prisoners. He went out and scrounged for sticks for firewood and food for the starving, always invoking the aid of St. Dismas, the Good Thief, before embarking on these expeditions.

Forced by the Communists to attend daily indoctrination sessions, Fr. Kapuan perked up the spirits of the other prisoners by answering the Communists back. Survivors recalled that he informed the Communists that "God is as real as the air they breathed but could not see, as the sounds they heard but could not see, as the thoughts and ideas they had and spoke but could not see or feel," and that one day God would deliver China from the disasters to which Communism had led her. There were limits to how much the Communists could retaliate, however, because Fr. Kapuan was so loved by the other prisoners that silencing him might have touched off a rebellion.

It is quite likely that Fr. Emil Kapuan was a martyr for the Faith. When, shortly after Easter, 1951, he became incapacitated due to an infected eye and a blood clot in his leg, the Communists seized on the opportunity to isolate the priest who had been such a thorn in their flesh. In May, 1951, over the objections of his fellow prisoners, his captors put Fr. Kapuan into their "hospital" and starved him to death. On August 18, 1951, he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. His cause for sainthood was opened in 2008.

Fr. Aloysius Schmitt (Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, 1909-1941)
The young Fr. Aloysius Schmitt was serving his first tour of sea duty on board the U.S.S. Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It was three days after his 32nd birthday. He had just finished morning Mass on board ship when the Japanese attack began. Fr. Schmitt went to sick bay to minister to the wounded and dying. CatholicMil.org gives the following moving account of what happened next:
When the Oklahoma was struck and water poured into her hold, the ship began to list and roll over. Many men were trapped. Schmitt found his way -- with other crew members -- to a compartment where only a small porthole provided enough space to escape.

Chaplain Schmitt helped other men, one by one, to crawl to safety. When it became his turn, the chaplain tried to get through the small opening. As he struggled to exit through the porthole, he became aware that others had come into the compartment from which he was trying to escape. As he realized that the water was rising rapidly and that escape would soon be impossible, he insisted on being pushed back through the hole so that he could help others who could get through the opening more easily. Accounts from eyewitnesses that have been published in the Arizona Memorial newsletter relate that the men protested, saying that he would never get out alive, but he insisted, "Please let go of me, and may God bless you all."

Fr. William Doyle, S.J., (Royal Dublin Fusliers, 16th Irish Division, 1873-1917)
Like many great hearts, the heart of William Doyle beat in a frail body. The illnesses he suffered as a boy went on to endanger his vocation as a Jesuit priest. But all through his life, he dreamed of being a soldier, both for Ireland and for Christ. Shortly before he took his vows of religion in 1893, he made the following document, written partly in his own blood:
A.M.D.G. ac B.V.M.
My Martyrdom for Mary's Sake.

Darling Mother Mary, in preparation for the glorious martyrdom which I feel assured thou art going to obtain for me, I, thy most unworthy child, on this the first day of thy month, solemnly commence my life of slow martyrdom by earnest hard work and constant self-denial. With my blood I promise thee to keep this resolution, do thou, sweet Mother, assist me and obtain for me the one favour I wish and long for: To die a Jesuit Martyr.

May 1st, 1893.

May God's will, not mine, be done! Amen.
Fr. Doyle had been a priest for seven years when, in 1914, he volunteered to serve as a military chaplain. His first experience of combat came at Loos on April 26, 1916, when the Germans launched a series of poison gas attacks. The priest who had been so frail as a youth now achieved an almost superhuman level of exertion. For days he worked the trenches, ministering to the wounded and dying, in utter disregard for his own safety and for the effects of the gas on himself, which were serious. This selfless devotion and supernatural courage in the face of deadly peril marked the whole course of his service in the trenches, from beginning to end, and won him the love of his troops. Although he personally disdained ribbons and medals (except to the extent they pleased his father back home), many thought he deserved the Victoria Cross. Only religious and ethnic prejudice prevented its being awarded to him.

Fr. Doyle embraced his life at the front, with its horrors, its perils, its drudgery, and the never-ending slaughter as the greatest grace he had ever been given. "I wonder is there a happier man in France than I am," he wrote. "Just now Jesus is giving me great joy in tribulation, though conditions of living are about as uncomfortable as even St. Teresa could wish perpetual rain, oceans of mud, damp, cold and a plague of rats. Yet I feel that all this is a preparation for the future and that God is labouring in my soul for ends I do not clearly see as yet. Sometimes I kneel down with outstretched arms and pray God, if it is a part of His divine plan, to rain down fresh privations and sufferings. But" -- he must have laughed as he wrote -- " I stopped when the mud wall of my little hut fell in upon me that was too much of a good joke!"

Throughout his service on the front, Fr. Doyle had many close calls, but always came through unscathed. Finally, on August 17, 1917, toward the evening of a long and busy day, word came of a wounded officer lying in an exposed position. Fr. Doyle went out at once and found the officer in a shell crater. He gave the man his last Sacraments, then half-dragged and half-carried him back into the line. As his runner was handing him a cup of water, a shell exploded nearby, instantly killing Fr. Doyle and three officers. His desire to be a Jesuit martyr was fulfilled.

Fr. Emmeran Bliemel, O.S.B. (10th Tennessee Infantry and 4th Kentucky Infantry, Confederate States of America, 1831-1864)
Fr. Bliemel, who was born on the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel in 1831 and died at the same age at which Christ died on the cross, has the distinction of being the first American chaplain to die on a battlefield. He was posthumously awarded the Southern Cross of Honor, also known as the Confederate Medal of Honor. Here is the text of Fr. Bliemel's citation:
Although a non-combatant, Father Bliemel joined his regiment in their assault on the enemy's fortified works. Disregarding his own safety and not content to remain in the rear, Father Bliemel continued forward into the thickest of the fighting and began ministering to the needs of the wounded and dying. Despite the extreme danger, he continued his work and when the attack was repulsed, accompanied the litter bearers to the rear. But while tending to a fallen soldier, he witnessed the wounding of the colonel of his regiment. Unwilling to abandon his commanding officer, he stopped and went back for him. Seeing that the wounds were mortal, Father Bliemel instead knelt in the field and began to administer the last sacrament on the dying man's behalf. There, with his hands uplifted to God in petition for his colonel's soul, Father Bliemel was decapitated by a shell from the enemy's artillery.

Fr. Leo P. Craig, O.P. (Captain, U.S. Army, 1st Cavalry Division, 1918-1951)
When Leo Craig of Everett, Massachusetts, was just five years old, his mother died. His aunt, Sr. Veronica Craig of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Kentucky, obtained a dispensation from her vows in order to be a second mother to her brother's five young children. The remarkable generosity of this daughter of St. Dominic must have been a lifelong inspiration to Leo, who himself entered the Order of Preachers in 1935. In 1942, he followed in the footsteps of his older brother Lawrence and became a priest. In 1949, he joined the Army as a chaplain.

On the afternoon of April 5, 1951, near Chunchon, South Korea, Fr. Leo was preparing for Mass when he heard an explosion. A soldier had stepped on a mine. He hurried out to the minefield, heedless of his own safety, to give the dying man his last Sacraments. The photograph above of Fr. Leo performing this brave act of charity was taken thirty seconds before a second mine exploded, killing him and everyone else in the photograph.

In an age when so much is being made of bad priests, it pays to focus on the deeds of priests like these who gave the last full measure of devotion for their flocks on the battlefield. With the graces of the Sacraments, and especially Holy Orders to draw from, their extraordinary courage and devotion are neither accident nor coincidence.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13, 1917: The Miracle of the Sun

I am going to relate to you in a brief and concise manner, without any statements which would conceal the truth, what I saw in Fatima on 13 October 1917...I arrived at midday. The rain which had fallen persistently all morning, combined with a blustery wind, continued fretfully, as if threatening to drown everyone. The dull and heavy sky, its dark-grey clouds water-laden, predicted abundant rain for a long time to come.

I remained on the road in the shelter of the hood of my car, looking rather disdainfully toward the place where they said the apparition would be seen, not daring to step on the sodden and muddy earth of the freshly-ploughed field. I was a little more than a hundred metres from the high wooden posts mounted by a rough cross, seeing distinctly the wide circle of people who, with their umbrellas open, seemed like a vast arena of mushrooms. A little after one o'clock [footnote omitted], the children to whom Our Lady, as they declare, appeared and appointed the place, day and hour of the apparition, arrived at the site. Hymns were intoned and sung by the people who gathered around them. At a certain moment, this immense mass of people, so varied and compact, closed their umbrellas and uncoered their heads in a gesture that could have been one of humility or respect, but which left me surprised and bewildered, because now the rain, with a blind persistency, poured down on their heads and drenched them through.

Later, I was told that this crowd, who finished up by kneeling in the mud, had obeyed the voice of a child. It must have been about half past one when there rose up, on the precise spot where the children were, a pillar of smoke, a delicate, slender, bluish column that went straight up about two metres, perhaps above their heads and hten evaporated. The phenomenon lasted for some seconds and was perfectly visible to the naked eye...It was repeated yet a second and third time. On these three occasions, and especially on the last one, the slender posts sstood out distinctly in the dull grey atmosphere.

While I continued looking at the place of the apparitions in a serene, if cold expectation of something happening, and with diminishing curiosity, because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention, I heard a shout from thousands of voices, and saw the multitude which straggled out at my feet, here and there concentrated in small groups round the trees, suddenly turn its back on the point toward which, up to now, it had directed its attention, and turn to look at the sky on the opposite side...The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds that hid it and shone clearly and intensely. I veered toward the magnet which seemed to be drawing all eyes, and saw it as a disc with clear-cut rim, luminous and shining, but which did not hurt the eyes...

It looked like a glazed circular piece cut from a mother-of-pearl shell...It could not be confused, either, with the sun seen through fog (for there was no fog at the time), because it was not opaque, diffused or veiled...The sky was mottled with light cirrus clouds, the blue coming through here and there, but sometimes the sun stood out in patches of clear sky...It was a remarkable fact that one could fix one's eyes on this brazier of heat and light without any pain in the eyes or blinding of the retina...

The sun's disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamour was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during these moments was terrible.

During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described in detail, there were changes of color in the atmosphere...Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything around was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything in an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same colour. An oak tree nearby threw a shadow of this colour on the ground. Fearing that I was suffering from an affection of the retina...I turned away and shut my eyes, keeping my hands over them to intercept the light. With my back still turned, I opened my eyes and saw that the landscape was the same purple colour as before...Soon after, I heard a peasant who was near me shout out in tones of astonishment: "Look, that lady is all yellow!" In fact, everything both near and far, had changed, taking on the colour of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice, and I recall my amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. Laughter was heard. My own hand was of the same yellow colour...

All these phenomena which I have described, were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind and without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them.

Eyewitness account of Dr. Joseph Garrett, professor of natural sciences at Coimbra University, written in December, 1917; from Francis Johnston, Fatima: The Great Sign, TAN Books, 1980, pp. 60-62.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Saints

Today Pope Benedict canonized five new saints. Click their pictures for information about their lives.

St. Sigmund Felix Felinski, archbishop of Warsaw, founder of the
Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary (1822-1895)

St. Raphaël Arnáiz Barón, Trappist oblate (1911-1938)

St. Marie de la Croix (Jeanne Jugan), foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor (1792-1879)

St. Francisco Coll y Guitart, O.P., founder of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary(1812-1875)

St. Damien de Veuster, apostle to the lepers of Molokai (1840-1889)

Courtesy of Zenit, a translation of the Holy Father's address on the occasion of today's canonizations:

At the end of this solemn celebration, we are invited to pray the Angelus. Before reciting it, I would like to address a cordial greeting to all of you, who wanted, by your devout participation, to pay homage to the new saints. A special thought goes to the authorities with the official delegations who have come from various countries: I thank you for your presence.

[In French:]

I greet with joy the French-speaking pilgrims who have come for the occasion of the canonizations. Following the example of St. Jeanne Jugan, I invite you to concern yourselves with the poorest and the least, those who have been wounded by life and the marginalized of our society, above all on the occasion of the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty, which will be celebrated in a few days. Remembering the holy Father Damian, I ask you to commit yourselves at the same time to support with your prayer and your works those who generously dedicate themselves to the struggle against leprosy and against other forms of leprosy that are due to lack of love because of ignorance and cowardice. May your prayer accompany the work sessions of the 2nd African Synod. May God bless all of you!

[In English:]

I extend cordial greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims here this Sunday, especially those who have come to Rome in such great numbers for today’s canonization. May these new saints accompany you with their prayers and inspire you by the example of their holy lives. I also greet the group of survivors of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I pray that the world may never again witness such mass destruction of innocent human life. May God bless all of you, as well as your families and loved ones at home.

[In German:]

I cordially greet the German-speaking pilgrims and especially the recently ordained priests of the German College with their guests. May the Lord give you courage and strength in your ministry! Let us take the new saints as models for our life. Among them there is a saint who is dearly loved in Germany, Father Damian, who lived among the lepers of on the Hawaiian island of Molokai and died of having contracted the disease in the end. Let us invoke the intercession of the holy Bishop Zygmunt Szczęsny Felińsk, of the holy religious Francisco Coll y Guitart, Rafael Arnáiz Barón and Marie de la Croix Jugan, that God may give us today as well many religious vocations. May the Lord accompany all of you with his grace.

[In Spanish:]

I greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims with affection, in particular those who participated in this joyous ceremony of canonization, especially the lord cardinals, the archbishops and bishops who have arrived with them from Spain, a land so bountiful with the fruits of sanctity. The Dominican, St. Francisco Coll, with his priestly and missionary dedicaton, and the Trappist, St. Rafael Arnáiz Barón, with his entirely contemplative soul, both fervently devoted to the Virgin Mary, honor to the best religious tradition and the deeply Christian roots of your people. May the example and the intercession of these new saints reinvigorate in everyone, and especially in the Dominican Sisters of the of the Annunciation, in the Order of Preachers and in the Trappist monks, the commitment to follow Christ in a generous and disinterested way, according to their particular vocation, witnessing to his Gospel in modern society. I also greet the groups from Colombia and from the other Latin American countries.

[In Flemish:]

I greet the Flemish-speaking pilgrims, who have come to Rome to join in the thanksgiving of the Church for the canonization of Father Damian. Consecrated to the Heart of Jesus and Mary, this holy priest was led by God to let a total “yes” bloom in his vocation. May the intercession of Our Lady and the Apostle of the Lepers free the world from leprosy, make us open to the love of God and grant us enthusiasm and joy in the service of our brothers and sisters. With my apostolic benediction.

[In Polish:]

I cordially greet the faithful who have come from Poland, with the cardinals, archbishops and bishops. I greet all the Polish who, celebrating the traditional Day of the Pope, can rejoice in the gift of a new saint: Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński. I entrust the Church in Poland and the whole nation to his protection. May God bless you!

[In Italian:]

Dear brothers and sisters, the Virgin Mary is the star that guides every journey of sanctity. Her “fiat” is the perfect model of adhesion to the divine will and her “magnificat” expresses the Church’s song of exultation. Already on this earth the Church rejoices in God’s mighty deeds and in heaven praises his glory eternally. We turn to the Mother of Christ with filial confidence, asking, through her intercession and that of the newly canonized saints, for peace and salvation.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Autumn Is Here

You know summer is well over when irrigation season ends. The canals are running dry; winter will soon follow.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Pop Quiz!!!!!!!

What do the following have in common:

Linus Pauling
Mikhail GorbachevYassir Arafat
The United Nations
Jimmy Carter
Al Gore
Barack Hussein Obama

A. They are left-wing fanatics and/or are (or were) regularly feted by left-wing fanatics.

B. They are (or were) all outspoken critics of the United States.

C. They are (or were) all in cahoots with the enemies of the United States and/or actually are (or were) enemies of the United States.

D. They have all been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

E. All of the above.

Tick tick tick tick tick tick...DING! Time's up! If you're not surprised the correct answer is "E"...

...join the club.


President Obama says he will donate the Peace Prize money to charity. True or false: the charity he donates the money to will be his half-brother George, who still lives on twelve bucks a year in a hut in Kenya.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Tridentine Mass Explained

For a greater appreciation of the details of the Extraordinary Rite. (It may not be strictly accurate to describe this as the Extraordinary Rite, since it predates the 1962 Missal; but my guess is, it's close enough.)

The Eternal Gift: Solemn High Mass in the traditional Roman Rite, filmed at Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago, Easter Sunday, 1941, and narrated by the Rt. Rev. Mgr. Fulton J. Sheen. I believe this is the very place shown in this video.

This Mass appears to make a lot of physical demands on the celebrant -- certainly compared to the present Ordinary Rite. But is it possible that it only seems so now because we've become soft?

It is a long-established principle of the Catholic Church never to completely drop from her public worship any ceremony, object or prayer which once occupied a place in that worship.

Fulton J. Sheen

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Kicking the Habit

A gem from Bishop Fulton J. Sheen:

Did you ever hear about the very modern sister that went in to see the pastor? And she said:

"Father, you didn't know I had red hair, did you?"

"No," he said.

"I didn't know you had varicose veins, either!"

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Late Blight with David Letterman

Full disclosure: I used to be a big fan of Late Night with David Letterman (back when that was the name of his show). When I was in high school, I had the Late Night with David Letterman book (which was quite funny); I even had a Late Night with David Letterman hat. I appreciated his humor and his deadpan delivery. But it has now been years and years since I paid much attention to Letterman, and the latest incident just goes to show how little I've been missing.

Letterman has always been a hound when it comes to women. He divorced his first wife around the time his career started taking off; carried on a years-long affair with his head writer and producer; had a baby out of wedlock with another woman amid cooing press coverage; and then put off marrying the mother, whom he'd been bedding down for nearly a quarter of a century, until the kid was six years old. Announcing the marriage on his show, he said, "I had avoided getting married pretty good for, like, 23 years, and I ... secretly felt that men who were married admired me, like I was the last of the real gunslingers." Then there were the salvos from the sewer about Sarah Palin's daughter. So there's no surprise in the revelation -- forced by a would-be blackmailer -- that alongside all this came Letterman's sexual exploitation of female employees.

But what I don't get is: why it is that when he announced on his show that the allegation of sex with his female employees was true...the audience responded with laughter and applause.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Neener, Neener!

It's pretty bad when I root for an American city to lose out on an honor like hosting the 2016 Olympics. But I couldn't help it: anything the Obamas want so much has to be bad.

On the other hand, Chicago should look at it as a blessing in disguise. If the Special Olympics in Boise earlier this year were such a pain in the ass (like the day they shut down the main drag out of downtown right when everybody was getting off work), how much more of a pain in the ass will the big Olympics be?

And how many more pains in the ass do Chicagoans really need?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

October 1st: The Little Flower

In The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great, the saint learns that thanking God for the virtues with which He endowed the saints is a way of growing in those same virtues.

Maybe that's why, in 1925, Fr. Putigan, S.J., came up with the idea of saying 24 Glorias in honor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux -- a Glory Be for ever year of her life on earth, to thank God for the graces He bestowed on her during each of those years. A custom arose of making a novena of 24 Glorias from the 9th to the 17th of each month.

However, since this is the Feast of the Little Flower, it couldn't hurt to say the 24 Glorias today!