Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunset over Boise

Sunrises over Boise are pretty cool...

...sunsets aren't too shabby, either.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent, 1969: The Long Lent Begins

On November 30, 1969, the first Sunday of Advent, the Novus Ordo Missae took effect, and what is now known as the Extraordinary Rite was effectively abolished.  The floodgates of mediocrity and stupidity flew open.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that the mediocrity and stupidity were merely unmasked.  In a fascinating interview with Latin Mass magazine in 2001, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, the wife of the 20th-century theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand, traces the historical roots of the crisis of the last 40 years.  An extended excerpt (emphasis added):
I relate in my biography of my husband, The Soul of a Lion, that a few years after his conversion to Catholicism in the 1920s, he began teaching at the University of Munich. Munich was a Catholic city. Most Catholics at the time went to Mass, but he always said that it was there that he became aware of the loss of a sense of the supernatural among Catholics. One incident especially offered him sufficient proof, and it greatly saddened him.

When passing through a door, my husband would always give precedence to those of his students who were priests. One day, one of his colleagues (a Catholic) expressed his astonishment and disapproval: “Why do you let your students step ahead of you?” “Because they are priests,” replied my husband. “But they do not have a Ph.D.” My husband was grieved. To value a Ph.D. is a natural response; to feel awe for the sublimity of the priesthood is a supernatural response. The professor’s attitude proved that his sense for the supernatural had been eroded. That was long before Vatican II. But until the Council, the beauty and the sacredness of the Tridentine liturgy masked this phenomenon.
 ...[My husband] believed that after Pius X’s condemnation of the heresy of Modernism, its proponents merely went underground. He would say that they then took a much more subtle and practical approach. They spread doubt simply by raising questions about the great supernatural interventions throughout salvation history, such as the Virgin Birth and Our Lady’s perpetual virginity, as well as the Resurrection, and the Holy Eucharist. They knew that once faith – the foundation – totters, the liturgy and the moral teachings of the Church would follow suit. My husband entitled one of his books The Devastated Vineyard. After Vatican II, a tornado seemed to have hit the Church.

Modernism itself was the fruit of the calamity of the Renaissance and the Protestant Revolt, and it took a long historical process to unfold. If you were to ask a typical Catholic in the Middle Ages to name a hero or heroine, he would answer with the name of a saint. The Renaissance began to change that. Instead of a saint, people would think of geniuses as persons to emulate, and with the oncoming of the industrial age, they would answer with the name of a great scientist. Today, they would answer with a sports figure or cinema personality. In other words, the loss of the sense of the supernatural has brought an inversion of the hierarchy of values.

Even the pagan Plato was open to a sense of the supernatural. He spoke of the weakness, frailty and cowardice often evidenced in human nature. He was asked by a critic to explain why he had such a low opinion of humanity. He replied that he was not denigrating man, only comparing him to God.

With the loss of a sense of the supernatural, there is a loss of the sense of a need for sacrifice today. The closer one comes to God, the greater should be one’s sense of sinfulness. The further one gets from God, as today, the more we hear the philosophy of the new age: “I’m OK, You’re OK.” This loss of the inclination to sacrifice has led to the obscuring of the Church’s redemptive mission. Where the Cross is downplayed, our need for redemption is given hardly a thought.

The aversion to sacrifice and redemption has assisted the secularization of the Church from within. We have been hearing for many years from priests and bishops about the need for the Church to adapt herself to the world. Great popes like St. Pius X said just the opposite: the world must adapt itself to the Church.
The interview concludes with the following summation:
The devil hates the ancient Mass. He hates it because it is the most perfect reformulation of all the teachings of the Church. It was my husband who gave me this insight about the Mass. The problem that ushered in the present crisis was not the traditional Mass. The problem was that priests who offered it had already lost the sense of the supernatural and the transcendent. They rushed through the prayers, they mumbled and didn’t enunciate them. That is a sign that they had brought to the Mass their growing secularism. The ancient Mass does not abide irreverence, and that was why so many priests were just as happy to see it go.
And so the ancient Mass went -- but only temporarily.  It is worth noting that, for all the anguish that the sudden shelving of the old rites caused, these rites have at least come down to us intact: if the Ordo Missae of 1962 was out of the reach of the faithful, it was also out of the reach of modernist tinkerers who have had a field day with the new Ordo.
Viewed in this light, the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae and its constellation of latent follies was not the source of the crisis of the last four decades, but -- thanks to the divine Providence that works all things to our good -- its remedy.  Because God is ultimately in charge, and not Archbishop Bugnini or any other infiltrators in the Church, the Novus Ordo was always bound to be an instrument of good, for all the damage that has been wreaked on its account.  It has destroyed our illusions about our spiritual health.  It has torn the veneer of holiness off the rot and the maggots and put them in our collective face.
A bitter cure, to be sure, but that is often the nature of a cure.  A boil, after all, has to be lanced and drained.  The process is painful and disgusting, but necessary.

And there is healing at the end of it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

More Dawnings

One of the advantages of Daylight Savings:

I can roll out of bed at the latest possible minute and still catch a sunrise!

They'll Have Nun of It

We all know the apostolic visitation of institutes of women religious in the United States has not sat well with certain congregations and prominent religious.  We hear complaints about how "demeaning" and "intrusive" is the visitation; we  hear the lamentations of liberal religious comparing themselves to victims of battered wife syndrome; we even hear about the "lack of transparency" of a process that has its own website.  

Now, it appears the temper tantrum is working itself into a rolling boil.  Crows the Non-Catholic Reporter: "The vast majority of U.S. women religious are not complying with a Vatican request to answer questions in a document of inquiry that is part of a three-year study of the congregations. Leaders of congregations, instead, are leaving questions unanswered or sending in letters or copies of their communities' constitutions."  In particular, the "vast majority" is annoyed by a three-part questionnaire that seeks information about individual institutes, including vital statistics and -- most offensive of all -- how Catholic the institutes really are.    The deadline for responding to the Visitator's questionnaire was November 20th.  According to NCR's source, only about half of the responses to the questionnaires have been accounted for, and only 1% of these have been answered as asked. 
If it is true that most women religious are refusing to answer this questionnaire, then that  right there should tell Rome everything she needs to know about the state of women religious in this country.  That some congregations have responded to the visitation by consulting civil lawyers is also very revealing, as well as counter-Scriptural.  But just in case Rome doesn't get the point, some of her daughters are driving it home with what apparently passes for "thought" in liberal congregations.  Some choice samples from the NCR piece:

-- "What I can say quite clearly is that every leader that I know is trying to answer the survey with integrity. How that integrity works out in each case is up to the wisdom of each leader and her council."  Whatever that means.

-- "I feel the response was a thoughtful, respectful response to a very puzzling situation. The purpose of this investigation is unclear to me, given the level of the questions. I have always been proud of our community and the many women who serve God's people. The first sentence of our letter [to Apostolic Visitator Mother Clare Millea, Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus] says it all, 'As apostolic women religious, we are faithful to the call of the Gospel and to our respective charisms.' "  Since Vatican II, as demonstrated by additional quotes below, so many women religous have felt free to redefine "faithful" that this sentence says exactly nothing.

-- "Vatican II took us out of the ghettos and into ecology, feminism and justice in the world. The Vatican still has a difficult time accepting that."  This sentence does say it all.

-- "[It is] unlikely the Vatican wanted us to come out of this being more confident of our identity as self-defining religious agents, but that is exactly what has happened."  A stunning admission, evidence of the need for the visitation.

And then, from the Too Stupid for Comment Files, there is the hyperventilating stuff that both illustrates the secularization of religious institutes since Vatican II and contributes to the stereotype of women as hysterical, coming from the type of women who profess to be out to destroy stereotypes:

All along, said one woman religious, the challenge has been to respond to the Vatican in a way that breaks a cycle of violence. She said that the women religious communities have attempted to respond by using a language "devoid of the violence" they found in the Vatican questionnaire and within the wider study. She characterized the congregation responses as "creative and affirming," and part of an effort to set a positive example in "nonviolent resistance."

"On the one hand we didn't want to roll over and play dead," she said. "So the question was, "How do you step outside a violent framework and do something new?' That was the challenge that emerged." One congregation, she said, cited a U.S. bishops' statement concerning domestic abuse in its response letter to Millea. "The point is, there have to be more than two choices: Take the abuse and offer it up, or kill the abuser."

Women religious, she said, are asking if there is a "Ghandian or Martin Luther King way" to deal with violence they felt is being done to them.

The dissenters who responded to the questionnaire with non-responses or with just their constitutions claim that the constitutions tell the whole story about their institutes, and that beyond these, they do not need to elaborate.  

Obviously, the constitution only tells half the story.  The other half of the story is how faithful these women are to their constitutions, and to what extent their constitutions are a dead letter.  This is the half were we find out the hypocrisy of the liberal religious, who demand transparency from Rome and opacity for themselves.  

Sunrise over Boise

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We've Come a Long Way, Baby

Yesterday on CNN, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. and Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J. debated whether pro-abortion politicians should receive Holy Communion.  Fr. Pacwa is against Communion for pro-aborts; Fr. Reese thinks otherwise.

How did we ever get to the point where two Jesuits could lock horns on this painfully obvious issue?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What I Will Be Putting in the Collection Basket


Please be advised that I will not contribute to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.  This is because of the CCHD's history of financial support for large-scale voter fraud, abortion, contraceptives, gay "marriage" and New Age practices via grants to organizations like ACORN, the Los Angeles Community Action Network, and the Chinese Progressive Association.   One organization that will be cashing in on Catholic donations from the pews this year is the Gamaliel Foundation, via several affiliates.  In 2007, the Gamaliel Foundation received $150,000.00 from leftist gazillionaire George Soros. That George Soros backs the Gamaliel Foundation tells me everything I need to know about whether I should do likewise.

Although the CCHD, compelled by embarrassing publicity, has defunded some of the more blatantly egregious donees, I am still boycotting it because the bulk of its donees continues to be political organizations, apparently leftist or left-leaning, the primary purpose of which is "community organizing."   I am hard-pressed to come up with a difference between "community organizing" and bread and circuses.   "Community organizing" is the ultimate in stealing from the poor to give to the rich -- rich demagogues whose stream of income would be instantly dammed up if they ever really achieved their stated goals.  It is also a distraction from the Church's mission to go out and make disciples of all the nations.  We hear a lot of talk about the number of poor people who could have been fed with the money that was spent on a statue or a chalice; but what about all the people to whom the Good News could have been brought by the $996,000.00 that ACORN got in 2007, or the $160,000.00 that affiliates of the Gamaliel Foundation received in 2009?  Must we compound the material poverty of the poor with spiritual poverty?

Such money as I have to give will go to legitimate Catholic apostolates.  That leaves me with nothing for the CCHD.

Yours in Christ,

Anita Moore, Esq., OPL

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stars and Stripes Forever

It's not a holiday or anything; no particular reason to be patriotic today.  But I have just been watching one of my favorite movies, Heartbreak Ridge, which closes with "Stars and Stripes Forever." And that made me start surfing the Internet for information about this magnum opus of John Philip Sousa, the Marine and gentleman pictured to the left.  Which in turn made me put together this post.

Sousa composed "Stars and Stripes Forever" on Christmas Day, 1896.  It was such a hit that it is practically universally recognized, and known by heart by any band musician.  This is probably why, in the circus, it serves as the "disaster march": the signal for dire emergency (such as the deadly Hartford, Connecticut circus fire of 1944) that calls circus staff to action without instantly panicking the audience.  

Did you know "Stars and Stripes Forever" has lyrics?  Here they are:

Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears 'mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom's shield and hope.
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.
Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation,
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom's nation.

Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with might endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

"Stars and Stripes Forever" is, by law, the official march of the United States.   In 1998, in a rare fit of brevity, Congress enacted what is now codified as 36 U.S.C.A. § 304, which reads in its entirety:

The composition by John Philip Sousa entitled "The Stars and Stripes Forever" is the national march.

Finally, in the (highly unlikely) event you have never heard "Stars and Stripes Forever" -- or you have heard it, but would just like to hear it again, links to two audio files:

A one-hundred-year-old recording of "Stars and Stripes Forever," performed by Sousa's Band for Edison Records

A more recent (and first-rate) performance by the U.S. Marine Band

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 15th: St. Albertus Magnus, O.P.

Today is the feast of St. Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great), Dominican priest, bishop, and one of three Dominican Doctors of the Church. Albertus was a man of wide and deep learning, of whom it might perhaps have been truly said that he knew everything there was to know -- at least everything there was to know in his day, from theology to the sciences.

It was Albertus Magnus who recognized the genius of Thomas Aquinas, whose master he was; so devastated was he by the death of his pupil that it is said his tears flowed at every mention of his name. He died on November 15, 1280 in Cologne; was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622; and canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. His patronage includes scientists, medical technicians and schoolchildren.

Prayer to St. Albertus Magnus

Dear Scientist and Doctor of the Church, natural science always led you to the higher science of God. Though you had an encyclopedic knowledge, it never made you proud, for you regarded it as a gift of God. Inspire scientists to use their gifts well in studying the wonders of creation, thus bettering the lot of the human race and rendering greater glory to God. Amen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Use a Banana, Go to Jail

So now this scene, played out in a school cafeteria: a misdemeanor.  At least it is in Chicago, where good-old-fashioned Chicago political thuggery has evolved into the criminalizing of school disciplinary problems.

I am not a fan of crime and disorder.  But as someone who works full-time in the criminal justice system, I'd like to address some points to the "zero-tolerance" crowd, which is merely a finger on the claw of liberalism, and is not an affliction only in Chicago:

-- The root cause of disorder in society is Godlessness.  The undermining of Church and family, the creeping secularization, political correctness, and tolerance and even encouragement of deviancy in our civil institutions -- which, as liberals, you put there -- has led to our failure to govern our passions.  In fact, political correctness and the mindless drive for "diversity" have led many to believe that they have a positive right to refuse to govern their passions.  We should not wonder at the results.

-- You ignore the costs, usually paid by others, of abandoning the principle of subsidiarity.  Student disciplinary problems are best handled by the schools -- or even better still, in families, which you have worked hard to destroy.  But by involving the police powers of the state, you set all kinds of costly mechanisms in motion: the police; the prosecutors; the public defenders (jailable offenses, however minor, trigger a right to court-appointed counsel); the courts; and the courts' whole constellation of "rehabilitative" machinery, including probation officers and counselors and proprietors of drug and alcohol schools.  In short, you use a Howitzer to kill a flea.

-- But the cost of all this heavy equipment lies not only in the amount of money it takes to run it, but -- what is more important -- in the amount of resources that cannot now be devoted to things that really matter.  The police and prosecutor manpower and time devoted to junior high food fights now cannot be devoted to the pursuit of real criminals.  The courts are jammed with petty affairs that squeeze out the adjudication of major matters.  And -- my personal gripe -- public defenders are forced to waste inordinate amounts of time on relative trifles, to the detriment of clients with really serious and complicated problems.    

As bad as federal government corruption is, we cannot afford to go on ignoring the same corruption at the county, city and state levels.  The criminalizing of life's every nitpick is a local-level power grab every bit as cynical and tyrannical as any perpetrated by the feds.  And our failure to govern ourselves gives the power-grabbers their excuse for wiping out our freedom.   

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Great President on a Great Anniversary

For Veteran's Day: President Reagan's speech at Point du Hoc, June 6, 1984 -- the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

Two of the Greatest Minutes in the History of Oratory

For Veteran's Day: the Gettysburg Address. The address was so short that there was no time to photograph President Lincoln in the act of delivering it.

The keynote speaker at the ceremony dedicating the cemetery at Gettysburg was Edward Everett of Massachusetts, a man of many accomplishments who was acclaimed as the greatest orator of his day. He delivered a two-hour oration. President Lincoln followed with a short speech that he had composed after arriving at Gettysburg. "I should be glad," said Edward Everett to the President, "if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."

Incidentally, we are eight days away from the 146th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal."

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some Justice

John Allen Muhammad, the convicted Beltway Sniper, is to be executed by lethal injection at 21:00 Eastern Time.  In October of 2002, and his juvenile co-defendant, Lee Boyd Malvo, went on a murder spree that left 10 people dead in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.  Muhammad, a member of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, and Malvo, who is serving a fixed life sentence, shot their victims from the trunk of a car, through a hole cut for the purpose, with a semiautomatic rifle at long range.  Their motive was jihad.  Lee Malvo liked to make drawings in praise of Osama bin Laden.   

Since the lion's share of media attention today is bound to be devoted to John Muhammad and liberal opponents of capital punishment, it pays to be reminded of the people who are now dead because of John Muhammad and his 17-year-old fellow assassin.

James Martin, 55, killed October 2, 2002 in Wheaton, Maryland
James Buchanan,    39, killed October 3, 2002 in Rockville, Maryland
Premkumar Walekar, 54, killed October 3, 2002 in Aspen Hill, Maryland
Sarah Ramos, 34, killed October 3, 2002 in Silver Spring, Maryland
Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera, 25, killed October 3, 2002 in Kensington, Maryland
Pascal Charlot, 72, killed October 3, 2002 in Washington, D.C.
Dean Harold Meyers, 53, killed October 9, 2002 in Manassas, Virginia
Kenneth Bridges, 53, killed October 11, 2002 in Fredericksburg, Virginia
Linda Franklin,    47, killed October 14, 2002 in Falls Church, Virginia
Conrad Johnson,    35, killed October 22, 2002 in Aspen Hill, Maryland

In a way, the death penalty is insufficient: one life is not a sufficient price to pay for the wanton destruction of ten.  But there is a limit to the reach of human justice, and the totality of his life, liberty and property are all John Muhammad has on earth to pay with.  God have mercy on his soul.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Dies Irae

November 8th is the day on which the Order of Preachers remembers and prays for its deceased members. Today at 7:00 p.m. the Bl. Margaret of Castello chapter will recite the Office of the Dead (Vespers) for deceased Dominicans in the day chapel at St. John's Cathedral in Boise. We will begin by chanting Dies Irae (though we don't expect to sound anything like the men and boys' choir in this video).

Dies Irae is the traditional sequence of the Requiem Mass. It is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Latin poetry; its beauty is apparent even to those of us who have very little Latin.

St. Thomas More teaches that meditation on the Four Last Things (Death, Judgment, Hell, Heaven) is a first-class remedy against sin. Dies Irae, rich in food for such meditation, has unfortunately been squelched in the Ordinary Rite by those who (unjustly) consider it morbid; but since it survives in the 1962 Missal, the door is open for its comeback.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Heroine of Fort Hood

On Thursday, November 5th, members of the 36th Engineer Brigade milled around the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, near Killeen, Texas. They were about to be deployed overseas, and were waiting to undergo medical exams. They were unarmed.

A little after 1:20 p.m., a man wearing combat fatigues and carrying two handguns entered the processing center. He was Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, an Army psychiatrist who was himself about to be deployed to the Middle East. According to witnesses, Hasan, a Muslim, shouted "Allahu akbar!," opened fire into the crowd of unarmed soldiers, and went around with his gun pointed downward, methodically shooting those who had fallen or dove for cover. The shootings took place in two adjacent facilities on the base, and at one point, the shooter chased a wounded soldier across an open courtyard in an apparent attempt to finish the soldier off.

Enter Sgt. Kimberly Munley, 34, wife, mother and civilian police officer. The slightly built sergeant and her partner happened to be in the area and responded to the scene within about three minutes. Sgt. Munley promptly approached and engaged the shooter. A gun battle ensued. Although she took two shots through her legs, Sgt. Munley persisted and brought the shooter down. Said Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, the commander of Fort Hood: "It was an amazing and aggressive performance by this police officer." Although she was initially reported to have been killed, Sgt. Munley is alive and presently in stable condition.

There were many acts of selfless devotion at Fort Hood on that dreadful Thursday, when soldiers, some of them heedless of their own wounds, leaped to the aid of their fallen comrades, administering first aid and using their own clothes as bandages and torniquets. Even the shooter was promptly attended to -- a courtesy that would probably not have been extended to a non-Muslim American soldier similarly situated in the Arab World.

Pray for Sgt. Munley and her family, and for all the wounded and dead and their families.

Monday, November 02, 2009

November 2nd: Feast of All Souls

Today is the feast of the Poor Souls in Purgatory. Per the Enchiridion of Indulgences, we can obtain the following indulgences for the Poor Souls on or around this feast day by:

-- Visiting a Cemetery. By devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the souls of the departed, we may gain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the Poor Souls from November 1-8. The indulgence is partial on other days.

-- Praying the Requiem Aeternam. We may gain a partial indulgence applicable only to the Poor Souls by praying the following prayer:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
-- Visiting a Church on All Souls' Day. We may gain a plenary indulgence applicable only to the Poor Souls by visiting a church or public oratory on the Feast of All Souls and praying the Our Father and Apostle's Creed.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Feast of All Saints

Maybe it will turn out that the greatest saints of all went wholly unnoticed during their lives on earth, and were utterly forgotten after their deaths.