Musings of an Old Curmudgeon
New Book Defends All-Male Liturgical Ministry, Subdiaconate/Minor Orders, and the Proper Roles of Clergy and Laity
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 22:51:00 +0000

 I honestly don't know where Dr Kwasniewski finds the time to write or edit so many books, but I'm certainly glad he does! So many books, so little time.

From Rorate Cæli

By Peter Kwasniewski, PhD

I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest book, Ministers of Christ: Recovering the Roles of Clergy and Laity in an Age of Confusion (Crisis Publications).

When this project was first conceived over a year ago, my initial idea was to write a critique of Paul VI’s attempted suppression of the subdiaconate and minor orders, of John Paul II’s permission of altar girls, and of Francis’s innovation of female “acolytes” and “lectors.” During its writing, however, the scope of the book considerably broadened to include a full-scale presentation and defense of the traditional sevenfold manifestation of Orders — priest, deacon, subdeacon, lector, acolyte, exorcist, and porter — together with an explanation of the distinct but mutually supporting roles of clergy and laity. In order to accomplish this, I stepped back further to look at the distinction and complementarity of the sexes in the order of creation and the order of redemption, a perspective that provides the ultimate foundation for the Church’s entire teaching on states of life, roles, and ministries. In this way the book serves as a response to the “gender madness” that has afflicted the world and has increasingly infected the Church.

The summer’s anti-TLM motu proprio Traditionis Custodes and the mounting threats against the former Ecclesia Dei institutes that avail themselves of the traditional rites of ordination conspire to make the book’s overall argument more urgent still. (Fortunately, subsequent to July 16 I was given the opportunity to do some last-minute revisions to the text in order to take this new scenario into account. Nothing of substance had to be changed in the overall argument.)

Ministers of Christ analyzes the problems with recent popes’ successive innovations in the area of ministry, showing how they have created a theologically and liturgically incoherent situation—a categorical rupture from a tradition firmly rooted in the most profound anthropological, Christological, and ecclesiological principles. In this regard the Church stands in desperate need of the correct (and corrective) witness of the usus antiquior. This will remain true even if a tyrannical attempt is made to prohibit the ancient rites of ordination, an act that would have no more legal validity than Traditionis Custodes itself.

Part I, “Foundations,” looks at the most fundamental questions: how sexuality and the body have personal significance and therefore moral, theological, and liturgical significance as well; the connection between the Incarnation of Our Lord and the male priesthood and male sanctuary service; the blessing on womanhood conferred in and through Our Lady, the Virgin Mother of God; the Old Testament background and New Testament roots of the diaconate, subdiaconate, and minor orders, seen as radiating outward from the priesthood of Jesus Christ, and the solemn tradition behind this ecclesiastical hierarchy; and the proper role of the laity in the great world outside the churches, where they exercise their primary responsibilities.

Part II, “Deviations,” takes a critical look at practices that entered the Church after the Second Vatican Council—above all, the attempt to sideline the subdiaconate and minor orders and the habitual use of female lectors and altar servers, whether filling in as “substitutes” or, as Pope Francis would have it, installed as ministers. It explains how these distortions and novelties misconstrue and muddle the callings of laity and clergy as well as their diverse but complementary modes of participation in the liturgy. In the course of the chapters, the notion of “active participation” is freed from its harsh captivity as a slogan trafficked by modern liturgists.

Part III, “Restoration,” charts a path out of this mess into a healthier church life, making the case for several related proposals:

– the universal reestablishment of the subdiaconate and minor orders, which have never been and cannot be abrogated and which remain in use to this day;

– a return to the traditional lex orandi of the classical Roman rite, which embodies true doctrine about states of life, ministries, and sexes;

– the wearing of veils by women in church as a sign of their distinctive role in the Mystical Body;

– the full acceptance of the supernatural and sacrificial vision of priesthood and consecrated life that attracts vocations today as it always did in the past, together with a firm repudiation of the “heresy of activism” that extinguishes the primacy of prayer and the ultimacy of contemplation;

– a reversal of the mad race of aggiornamento, to be replaced by the serene embrace of the essential changelessness of the Christian religion, which worships the immutable God in His eternal truth, reflected in traditional liturgical rites.

This book also includes the definitive versions of two essays by Bishop Athanasius Schneider: “The Significance of Minor Ministries in the Sacred Liturgy” and “Healing the Rupture: A Call for the Restoration of Minor Orders.”

Ministers of Christ concludes with three litanies for private devotional use. The first is for the clergy in general. The second and third, based on the Roman Martyrology, remind us that the Church’s history provides many examples of saintly subdeacons, lectors, acolytes, and exorcists whom we ought to invoke. Lastly, there is a select bibliography divided into topics.

Ministers of Christ: Recovering the Roles of Clergy and Laity in an Age of Confusion.   By Peter Kwasniewski, with two chapters by Bishop Athanasius Schneider.   Foreword by Leila Marie Lawler.   Manchester, NH: Crisis Publications, 2021.   xliii + 285 pp.   Paperback $19.95.

Here is a short video (by no means professional...) that has more or less the same content as the post above, for those who prefer the video format.

Jordan Peterson and Bishop Barron Misread Solzhenitsyn
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 22:32:00 +0000

It's a bit surprising to find Peterson and Barron agreeing, even if they are both wrong. 

From Happy Despite Them

By Leila Marie Lawler

I posted this on Facebook in 2018. I wanted to put it here on my blog. 

Jordan Peterson says of Solzhenitsyn, "One man’s decision to change his life, instead of cursing fate, shook the whole pathological system of communist tyranny to its core. It crumbled entirely, not so many years later, and Solzhenitsyn’s courage was not the least of the reasons why."

Bishop Barron, in speaking favorably of Peterson's characterization of Solzhenitsyn, echoes this essentially moral-therapeutic assessment: "It would have been surpassingly easy for him [Solzhenitsyn] simply to curse his fate, to lash out in anger at God, to become a sullen figure scurrying about the margins of life. Instead, he endeavored to change his own life, to turn the light of his moral consciousness on himself, to get his psychological house in order."

But that is not how Solzhenitsyn tells about what happened to him, what changed him: 

Following an operation, I am lying in the surgical ward of a camp hospital. I cannot move. I am hot and feverish, but nonetheless my thoughts do not dissolve into delirium and I am grateful to Dr. Boris Nikolayevich Kornfeld, who is sitting beside my cot and talking to me all evening. The light has been turned out so it will not hurt my eyes. He and I — and there is no one else in the ward.

Fervently he tells me the long story of his conversion from Judaism to Christianity. This conversion was accomplished by an educated, cultivated person, one of his cellmates, some good-natured old fellow like Platon Karatayev. I am astonished at the conviction of the new convert, at the ardor of his words...

It is already late. All the hospital is asleep. Kornfeld is ending up his story thus:

"And on the whole, do you know, I have become convinced that there is no punishment that comes to us in this life on earth which is undeserved. Superficially it can have nothing to do with what we are guilty of in actual fact, but if you go over your life with a fine-tooth comb and ponder it deeply, you will always be able to hunt down that transgression of yours for which you have now received this blow."...

I was wakened in the morning by running about and tramping in the corridor; the orderlies were carrying Kornfeld's body to the operating room. He had been dealt eight blows on the skull with a plasterer's mallet while he still slept. . . . He died on the operating table, without regaining consciousness.

And so it happened that Kornfeld's prophetic words were his last words on earth. And, directed to me, they lay upon me as an inheritance. You cannot brush off that kind of inheritance by shrugging your shoulders.

I lay there a long time in that recovery room from which Kornfeld had gone forth to his death, and all alone during sleepless nights I pondered with astonishment my own life and the turns it had taken. In accordance with my established camp custom I set down my thoughts in rhymed verses — so as to remember them . . .

. . . passing here between being and nothingness,

Stumbling and clutching at the edge,

I look behind me with a grateful tremor

Upon the life that I have lived.

Not with good judgment nor with desire

Are its twists and turns illumined.

But with the even glow of the Higher Meaning

Which became apparent to me only later on.

And now with measuring cup returned to me,

Scooping up the living water,

God of the Universe! I believe again!

Though I renounced You, You were with me!"

This is a very different experience from what Peterson (and Barron) describe. It is more akin to what Boethius says in The Consolation of Philosophy, as he is awaiting a terrible execution: "The soul of a person is most free when it preserves itself in the contemplation of the divine spirit."

Rebuild Notre Dame the Way It Was!
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 22:18:00 +0000

Given the recent horrific plans to 'Disneyfy' the interior of Notre Dame PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION! And share this far and wide!

Suite à l'incendie du 15 avril 2019, le but de cette pétition est d'exiger que l'on rebâtisse Notre-Dame de Paris à l'identique et tel qu'elle était la veille de ce drame.

Following the fire of April 15, 2019, the purpose of this petition is to demand that we rebuild Notre-Dame of Paris in the same way as it was the day before this tragedy.

Tras el incendio del 15 de abril de 2019, el propósito de esta petición es exigir que reconstruyamos Notre-Dame de París de la misma manera que el día anterior a esta tragedia.

Nach dem Brand vom 15. April 2019 besteht der Zweck dieser Petition darin, zu fordern, dass wir Notre-Dame von Paris auf dieselbe Weise wieder aufbauen wie am Tag vor dieser Tragödie.


Dopo l'incendio del 15 aprile 2019, lo scopo di questa petizione è chiedere che ricostruiamo Notre-Dame di Parigi allo stesso modo in cui era il giorno prima di questa tragedia.

После пожара 15 апреля 2019 года цель этой петиции - потребовать, чтобы мы восстановили Парижскую Нотр-Дам так же, как это было за день до этой трагедии.

Após o incêndio de 15 de abril de 2019, o propósito desta petição é exigir que reconstruíssemos a Notre-Dame de Paris da mesma forma como foi no dia anterior a esta tragédia.

Efter ilden den 15. april 2019 er formålet med dette andragende at kræve, at vi ombygger Notre-Dame i Paris på samme måde som det var dagen før denne tragedie.

The Proposed Designs of Notre Dame’s Interior Will Be More Damaging Than Any Fire
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 21:57:00 +0000

Mr Meyrat looks at the plans to destroy the interior of Notre Dame. 'The new design will even feature a “discovery trail” for incoming visitors with words projected on the wall to explain various stories from the Bible.'

From Crisis

By Auguste Meyrat

Two years ago, the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught on fire, plunging the whole world into collective shock. Hundreds of images circulated online that showed the massive cathedral enshrouded by smoke and firefighters doing their best to put out the flames while the heroic priest Fr. Fournier distinguished himself by risking his life in order to save the relics inside.

The ominous symbolism of this incident was much too poignant to ignore. As many writers at the time (including myself) remarked, it wasn’t just an old church that caught on fire, it was Western Civilization itself. We weren’t just losing a mere tourist site; we were losing our cultural identity. And, considering today’s ever-worsening decadence and malaise, we would never recover what was lost.

It was likely this sentiment that inspired so many worldwide to donate nearly a billion dollars to renovation efforts. It was also this sentiment that likely resulted in the French government’s decision to renovate the exterior in the same Gothic style as it was before, instead of attempting to modernize the roof with a greenhouse or pool.

Unfortunately, the interior renovations are a separate issue, and the same effort to “bring the Church into the 21st century” is currently underway. According to an exclusive report in The Telegraph, some renovators have submitted designs to completely redo the interior of the church where “confessional boxes, altars and classical sculptures will be replaced with modern art murals, and new sound and light effects to create ‘emotional spaces.’” No longer will the inside of Notre Dame look like a Gothic cathedral but more like a bizarre looking megachurch with vaulted arches and stained glass.

As an architect who saw the plans claimed, “It’s as if Disney were entering Notre Dame.” The new design will even feature a “discovery trail” for incoming visitors with words projected on the wall to explain various stories from the Bible.

And, like the Disney corporation, all these artistic innovations have a markedly woke agenda. Besides illustrating and explaining the Bible’s greatest hits, fourteen of the church’s chapels will also showcase the different cultures of the world, specifically Africa and Asia, all of which are intended to align with the message of Pope Francis’ environmentalist encyclical Laudato Si.

In some ways, this will be even worse than the Gothic churches converted into nightclubs and bookstores. At least those transformations led to something more fun and interesting, albeit sacrilegious and wrong. This change to Notre Dame will effectively make Paris’ greatest monument into something boring and insipid—as well as sacrilegious and wrong.

Naturally, those pushing these changes are two typically progressive Catholic clergymen, Archbishop Aupetit and Fr. Drouin. Intoxicated with the relativist “Spirit of Vatican II,” they have no conception of artistic or spiritual excellence and are all too eager to downplay the meaning and look of Notre Dame.

The only situation that’s comparable to what’s happening in Paris is the Ottoman defacement of the Hagia Sophia, where the basilica-turned-mosque still boasts an exquisite Romanesque design on the outside but looks like a dusty colorless warehouse on the inside. For anyone who has visited the famous Byzantine monument, the experience is both transcendent and tragic.

Although some might excuse a Notre Dame de Disney as utterly suited to the times, it completely misses the point of great art, which is to lift humanity to new heights. In truth, no one is worthy of Notre Dame Cathedral, certainly no one in the twenty-first century, nor any Frenchmen in the fourteenth century. It is creation intended for God Himself. It is His house—Catholics take this point quite literally. As such, the church is a creation designed to help men unite with God in His own home.

Just as important is a church’s capacity to unite God’s people with one another. In Christianity, all men are created in God’s image, and thus all are equal in dignity. Yes, they all come from different backgrounds, and some aren’t Christian, but their common humanity is manifested in God’s glory. Put another way, a church’s beauty and spirit brings people together in a much deeper way than a cheap spectacle validating different cultures and lifestyles.

For this reason, the “wreckovators” (as Rod Dreher calls them) will actually divide and alienate visitors. They will behold the shameless multicultural pandering, the hippie aesthetic, and the superficiality of all of it. If they wanted a bland celebration of diversity and globalism, they could turn on their televisions at home and watch the latest superhero flick. No, they go to Notre Dame to be inspired and experience something heavenly.

But now, all that is in danger. No one—not the planet, not minorities, not non-Christians, and certainly not Our Lady—benefits from a hollowed-out Notre Dame Cathedral. Everyone loses, both materially and spiritually.

While it’s clear the world has changed since the building of Notre Dame, the very least that can be done is to preserve it from any destructive attempts of modernization. After all, it’s God’s house, not ours.

Was Pearl Harbor A Mistake for Japan? Oh. Hell. Yes.
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 21:46:00 +0000

The author, Professor of Strategy at the US Naval War College, explains why Japan made a major mistake in attacking Pearl Harbor.

From The National Interest

By James Holmes

Here's What You Need to Remember: Doing less—or forswearing an effort entirely—always constitutes a viable strategic option. Doing nothing was an option Japan should have exercised rather than assail Pearl Harbor. That’s the lesson from alt-history.

Suppose Robert E. Lee had laid hands on a shipment of AK-47s in 1864. How would American history have unfolded? Differently than it did, one imagines.

Historians frown on alt-history, and oftentimes for good reason. Change too many variables, and you veer speedily into fiction. The chain connecting cause to effect gets too diffuse to trace, and history loses all power to instruct. Change a major variable, especially in a fanciful way—for instance, positing that machine-gun-toting Confederates took the field against Ulysses S. Grant’s army at the Battle of the Wilderness—and the same fate befalls you. Good storytelling may teach little.

What if Japan had never attacked Pearl Harbor? Now that’s a question we can take on without running afoul of historical scruples. As long as we refrain from inserting nuclear-powered aircraft carriers sporting Tomcat fighters into our deliberations, at any rate.

When studying strategy, we commonly undertake a self-disciplined form of alt-history. Indeed, our courses in Newport and kindred educational institutes revolve around it. That’s how we learn from historical figures and events. Military sage Carl von Clausewitz recommends—nay, demands—that students of strategy take this approach. Rigor, not whimsy, is the standard that guides ventures in Clausewitzian “critical analysis.” Strategists critique the course of action a commander followed while proposing alternatives that may have better advanced operational and strategic goals.

Debating strategy and operations in hindsight is how we form the habit of thinking critically about present-day enterprises. Critical analysis, maintains Clausewitz, is “not just an evaluation of the means actually employed, but of all possible means—which first have to be formulated, that is, invented. One can, after all, not condemn a method without being able to suggest a better alternative.” The Prussian sage, then, scorns Monday-morning quarterbacking.

That demands intellectual self-discipline. “If the critic wishes to distribute praise or blame,” concludes Clausewitz, “he must certainly try to put himself exactly in the position of the commander; in other words, he must assemble everything the commander knew and all the motives that affected his decision, and ignore all that he could not or did not know, especially the outcome.” Critics know how a course of action worked out in retrospect. They must restrict themselves to what a commander actually knew in order to project some realistic alternative.

It doesn’t take too much imagination to postulate alternative strategies for Imperial Japan. Indeed, eminent Japanese have themselves postulated alternatives. My favorite: the high naval command should have stuck to its pre-1941 playbook. The Pearl Harbor carrier raid was a latecomer to Japanese naval strategy, and it was the handiwork of one man, Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto. Had Yamamoto declined to press the case for a Hawaiian strike, or had the high command rebuffed his entreaties, the Imperial Japanese Navy would have executed its longstanding strategy of “interceptive operations.”

In other words, it would have evicted U.S. forces from the Philippine Islands, seized Pacific islands and built airfields there, and employed air and submarine attacks to cut the U.S. Pacific Fleet down to size on its westward voyage to the Philippines’ relief. Interceptive operations would have culminated in a fleet battle somewhere in the Western Pacific. Japan would have stood a better chance of success had it done so. Its navy still would have struck American territory to open the war, but it would have done so in far less provocative fashion. In all likelihood, the American reaction would have proved more muted—and more manageable for Japan.

The Hollywood version of Yamamoto puts the result of Pearl Harbor well, prophesying in Tora! Tora! Tora! that “we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” That’s a rich—and rather Clausewitzian—way of putting it. Clausewitz defines a combatant’s strength as a product of capability and willpower. Yamamoto alludes to the United States’ vast industrial and natural resources, depicting America as a giant in waiting. He also foretells that the strike on Battleship Row will enrage that giant—goading him into mobilizing those resources in bulk to smite Japan.

Assaulting the Philippines may have awakened the sleeping giant—but it’s doubtful it would have left him in such a merciless mood. He would have been groggy. Here’s Clausewitz again: the “value of the political object” governs the “magnitude” and “duration” of the effort a belligerent mounts to obtain that political object. How much a belligerent wants its political goals, that is, dictates how many resources—lives, national treasure, military hardware—it invests in an endeavor, and how long it sustains the investment.

It pays a heavy price for goals it covets dearly. Lesser goals warrant lesser expenditures.

The Philippine Islands constituted a lesser goal. The archipelago constituted American territory, having been annexed in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War of 1898. But the islands also lay on the far side of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from American shores. And they had been absent from daily headlines since the days when imperialists like Theodore Roosevelt wrangled publicly with anti-imperialists like Mark Twain about the wisdom of annexation. Americans reportedly had to consult their atlases on December 7 to find out where Pearl Harbor was located. The Philippines barely registered in the popular consciousness—full stop.

Regaining the Philippines, then, would have represented a political object commanding mediocre value at best—especially when full-blown war raged in Europe and adjoining waters, beckoning to an America that had been Eurocentric since its founding. Chances are that the U.S. effort in the Pacific would have remained wholly defensive. The U.S. leadership would have concentrated resources and martial energy in the Atlantic theater—keeping its prewar promise to allied leaders in deed as well as in spirit.

Bypassing the Hawaiian Islands, in short, would have spared Japan a world of hurt—as Admiral Yamamoto foresaw. Forbearance would have granted Tokyo time to consolidate its gains in the Western Pacific, and perhaps empowered Japan’s navy and army to hold those gains against the tepid, belated U.S. counteroffensive that was likely to come.

Now, let’s give Yamamoto his due as a maritime strategist. His strategy was neither reckless nor stupid. Japanese mariners were avid readers of the works of Alfred Thayer Mahan, and going after the enemy fleet represents sound Mahanian doctrine. Crush the enemy fleet and you win “command of the sea.” Win maritime command and contested real estate dangles on the vine for you to pluck afterward.

And indeed, the Mahanian approach did pay off for the Imperial Japanese Navy—for a time. Japanese warriors ran wild for six months after Pearl Harbor, scooping up conquest after conquest. But a vengeful giant can regenerate strength given adequate time. As Yamamoto himself predicted, Japan could entertain “no expectation of success” if the war dragged on longer than six months or a year.

Doing less—or forswearing an effort entirely—always constitutes a viable strategic option. Doing nothing was an option Japan should have exercised rather than assail Pearl Harbor. That’s the lesson from alt-history.
Pearl Harbor Day
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 21:44:00 +0000
Eighty years ago today, 2,335 Americans were killed and 1,143 wounded in the sneak attack by the Empire of Japan on Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i. The USS Arizona was lost with all hands. 

Here she was then.

And here she is now, still a fully commissioned vessel of the United States Navy, with her full complement aboard.

We will remember them! Lest we forget!
News From Guadalajara and What Cardinal Robles Has Done About the Traditional Parish
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 21:38:00 +0000

Fr Zed comments on the Abp of Gualajara's decision to reverse his suppression of the TLM and his strictures on the FSSP in his Diocese.

From Fr Z's Blog

I received this interesting press release…

December 6, 2021

Press release

Children and adults pray for more parishioners to be heard.

Guadalajara, Jalisco. – The days of uncertainty lived by the parishioners of San Pedro en Cadenas quasi-parish are now gone. His Eminence Francisco Cardinal Robles, Archbishop of Guadalajara, decided to reverse his decree of suppressing this quasi-parish.

In a recent visit to Casa Cristo Rey (the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter’s parsonage), the Cardinal stated that the next step will now be an adequate evaluation on the usefulness of the quasi-parish for the spiritual good of the faithful, as instructed by Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Traditiones Custodes.

This evaluation might imply possible changes for the quasi-parish based in Nuestra Señora del Pilar church in downtown Guadalajara; however, the more than 150 families belonging to this community celebrate His Eminence having heard them. Thus, allowing them to receive the sacraments under the rites of the Roman Missal of 1962, continue with the multiple apostolates with which they seek to give greater glory to God and improve their spiritual life guided by the FSSP.

Currently, children and adults of the quasi-parish are still in prayer so that other communities worldwide would also be heard. The Pontifical Document Traditionis Custodes contains a list of guidelines for Eucharistic celebrations under the Roman Missal of 1962, giving diocesan Bishops exclusive competence to authorize—or deny, in their dioceses the use of the Missal mentioned above.

Gives his blessing

During his visit, Cardinal Robles erected under the traditional rite the new Via Crucis in Casa Cristo Rey’s Chapel and an image of the Sacred Heart, accompanied by the choir of the quasi- parish and some parishioners who were invited to attend.

Furthermore, the Archbishop agreed to celebrate a Pontifical Mass under the traditional rite, although he specified no date.

There are a few things to take away from this.

Firstly, nothing is set in stone.  What is done can be undone.

Next, I have often pointed out that some of the bishops who jumped to apply the diktats of TC have no personal knowledge of the Vetus Ordo.  I have mused about whether or not such bishops have ever made the attempt to celebrate the Vetus Ordo for the people who, under his pastoral care, are the most marginalized in the Church.   The Cardinal in Guadalajara is going to celebrate Mass and he went to establish a Via Crucis.  

Also, it is important to stay focused and prayerful.  Determined.   I invite everyone to commit to be a Custos Traditionis to counter the incoherent cruelty of Traditionis custodes.  HERE

This is the tough part: we are in this together.   Lately I have had news from various sources which are – and this is not rare, by the way – followed up with a panicky “Don’t tell anyone! Don’t put it on the blog!” or “Please leave my name / parish name / name of the city / diocese out of this!”   “We are really afraid that if news gets out, we will lose what we have.”

Couple this with those who stop working because they have something comfortable for themselves and we have a wholly fragmented, atomized presence in the Church.   Scatter the flock and the individuals are less safe than when they are together.

I warmly urge you who may be getting a little comfortable or complacent to get off your backsides and get back to work.   Find something helpful to do.

I have a sense that if there was a constant, bold stream of news about what bishops are doing regarding TC and the Vetus Ordo, relentlessly holding them to account in the Catholic media, heralding the good and exposing the bad, it will be harder for them to apply cruel restrictions and more pleasant to be present and generous to those who desire traditional liturgical worship and doctrine.

Just a thought.

“Day of Infamy Speech”
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 21:34:00 +0000
FDR is no favourite of mine, but this is one of the most inspiring speeches in US history. It took almost four years, but 'the American people in their righteous might (won) through to absolute victory'.

From The Imaginative Conservative

By President Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered the following speech to a Joint Session of the United States Congress on December 8, 1941, one day after the Empire of Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Though Roosevelt referred to December 7th as a “date which will live in infamy,” the speech itself is usually called the “Day of Infamy Speech,” or simply the “Infamy Speech,” or the “Pearl Harbor Speech.”

Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:

YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American Island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong: Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

But always will our whole Nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces with the unbounding determination of our people we will gain the inevitable triumph so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire

Text courtesy of the Library of Congress.

There Is Also a Vaccine for the Virus That Infects the Church
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 21:09:00 +0000

Sandro Magister looks at what the Church needs to be 'vaccinated' with to combat the rampant secularisation of society and protect our culture.

From Settimo Cielo

By Sandro Magister

The following text is the talk Sandro Magister gave at the study conference held on Saturday the 27th and Sunday the 28th of 2021 in Anagni, in the Sala della Ragione, at the initiative of the Magna Carta Foundation, on the theme: “The Church and the secular after the pandemic.”]



by Sandro Magister
Anagni, November 27 2021

Between the Church and the secular, after the pandemic, it is the latter that is winning, as expressed by the very word “secularization,” which is advancing inexorably while the churches are increasingly empty. But the onslaught comes from a long way back, at least from the years of Vatican Council II, in lockstep with the eclipse of the conservative paradigm throughout the West.

Conservative culture supports the primacy of duties rather than rights, the prevalence of supra-individual concepts: nation, family, tradition, religion, to which the individual must adapt and perhaps sacrifice himself. It was inevitable that the eclipse of this culture would also overrun the Church, as a hierarchical structure made up of identity-conferring precepts and ceremonies, forged as a consolidated “Roman Catholicism” by the councils of Trent and Vatican I. Already in 1840 Alexis de Tocqueville saw the growth of democracy in America making an impact on religions based on precept and ritual, pared down to “a band of fervent zealots in the midst of a multitude of unbelievers.”

This prophecy of Tocqueville’s seems to give a glimpse of that “Benedict Option” which was recently proposed to Christians to counter the spirit of the time, bringing the conservative paradigm back to life in new and alternative forms. But the pandemic has also crumbled the solidity of this resistant and militant Catholicism, where between anti-vax and pro-vax there is war without quarter, and the division is not over a therapeutic agent but touches on key issues.

To better understand what is happening today, however, let’s go back and begin from the years of Vatican II, following the reinterpretation of this made by the historian Roberto Pertici.


That Council was being celebrated just as the new individualism, especially of women and young people, was sweeping over the Church and even disrupting it from within. Paul VI did not want to write any more encyclicals after “Humanae Vitae” was contested as backward by entire episcopates. It is no coincidence that from then on the obligatory themes of the Church’s agenda were those imposed by the new culture and the new anthropology: contraception, divorce, abortion, euthanasia, the homosexual condition, women and the feminist question, the nature of the priesthood and ecclesiastical celibacy.

The pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI set out to save the best fruits not only of Vatican II, but also of the Enlightenment, against the increasingly individualistic, relativistic, and ultimately nihilistic drift of the new culture. There was something “Kantian,” as well as of Christian probity, in the absoluteness of moral principles and in the centrality of reason preached by Joseph Ratzinger.

It should suffice to cite a few lines of his speech delivered on April 1 2005 in Subiaco, at the monastery of Saint Benedict, a few days before he was elected pope:

“Christianity […] has always defined men, all men without distinction, as creatures and images of God, proclaiming for them, in terms of principle, although within the imperative limits of social ordering, the same dignity. In this connection, the Enlightenment is of Christian origin and it is no accident that it was born precisely and exclusively in the realm of the Christian faith, whenever Christianity, against its nature and unfortunately, had become tradition and religion of the state. […] It was and is the merit of the Enlightenment to have again proposed these original values of Christianity and of having given back to reason its own voice. In the pastoral constitution, On the Church in the Modern World, Vatican Council II underlined again this profound correspondence between Christianity and the Enlightenment, seeking to come to a true conciliation between the Church and modernity.”

As well as the final paragraph of his memorable speech of September 12 2008 at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris:

“Our present situation differs in many respects from the one that Paul encountered in Athens, yet despite the difference, the two situations also have much in common. Our cities are no longer filled with altars and with images of multiple deities. God has truly become for many the great unknown. But just as in the past, when behind the many images of God the question concerning the unknown God was hidden and present, so too the present absence of God is silently besieged by the question concerning him. ‘Quaerere Deum’ - to seek God and to let oneself be found by him, that is today no less necessary than in former times. A purely positivistic culture which tried to drive the question concerning God into the subjective realm, as being unscientific, would be the capitulation of reason, the renunciation of its highest possibilities, and hence a disaster for humanity, with very grave consequences. What gave Europe’s culture its foundation - the search for God and the readiness to listen to him - remains today the basis of any genuine culture.”

With Pope Francis, however, all this has been set aside. The dismantling of “Roman Catholicism” - effectively perceived as a foreign body by the dominant culture - is supported by him in the name of a new form of a vaguely “synodal” Church. “Brothers all” is the emblem of this pontificate, its priority, but without God anymore, as in the observations made upon the release of the encyclical bearing this name by the renowned philosopher Salvatore Natoli, a non-believer but very attentive to the religious dimension. A brotherhood in which the man Jesus simply “showed men that only in their mutual self-giving do they have the possibility of becoming ‘gods’, after the manner of Spinoza: ‘homo homini deus’.” It is no surprise that in the solemn appeal signed last October 4 by Pope Francis together with the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, Moscow patriarch Kirill, the grand imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, and other religious leaders in the run-up to the Glasgow conference on climate change, in its five pages and 2350 words there is not even one occurrence of the word “God.” Nor of the words “creator,” “created,” “creature.” Nature is defined there as “a vital force.”

With Pope Francis, the Church has resumed its support of the “dérapage” of post-modernity, insisting on political issues such as ecology, migration, the new forms of poverty, which post-modernity willingly delegates to the Church, which it perceives as one ethics agency among many.

But a surprising tendency also characterizes some sectors of intransigent Catholicism today. Which in the name of freedom are contesting the vaccination requirements imposed, according to them, by a worldwide biotechnocratic dictatorship. But they do not see that in reality they are handing themselves over body and soul - as in the pointed critique of Professor Pietro De Marco - to “a lovable libertarian dictator” who “grants, indeed legitimizes, all private freedoms” and thereby dissolves not only the Christian conception of politics and the state but the idea of birth, procreation, death, free will, in a word the very idea of ​​man, far removed from that of the Bible, as masterfully brought to light by what is perhaps the most beautiful document produced by the Holy See in recent years, signed by the pontifical biblical commission and entitled “What is man?”


From all this one gathers that it is not an episodic but an epochal challenge that Christians are called to face today. A challenge similar to that of the Christians of the first centuries, back then as well a small minority in the context of a culture and society that was foreign, if not hostile.

The temptations back then were also similar to those of today. The first was to conform to the dominant cultural models. The second was to become closed off against the outside world, in a sort of entrenchment. The third was to escape, either collectively to a new homeland, a “promised land,” or individually with a “flight into the desert.”

But the Christians of the first centuries did not yield to any of these three temptations, except for yieldings or entrenchments from time to time that were contested and defeated within the Church itself. There was in fact a fourth mode of relationship that a minority group could have with the world that was encircling and besieging it, and that was to enter into a strongly critical relationship with it and to exercise a cultural influence on society, which in the long run could bring about a crisis in the general structure.

And indeed this is precisely what Christianity was able to achieve over the course of a few centuries, as brought to light by patristics scholar Leonardo Lugaresi. Those Christians gave rise to a real change of cultural paradigms - worldview, models of behavior, forms of expression - little by little acquiring a less marginal position in the public sphere and affecting it to a growing extent.

Christianity in the ancient world thus went from the stigma of “exitiabilis superstitio,” a deadly superstition disagreeable to all, to the recognition of its full plausibility as the religious and cultural foundation of the empire re-founded by Constantine, with no need in the meantime for Christians to become the majority or even a large minority of the population. It is estimated that at the time of Constantine Christians accounted for no more than 15 percent of the empire’s citizens.

And today? In his 1998 novel “Les particules élémentaires” Michel Houellebecq identifies in the history of humanity what he calls “metaphysical mutations,” meaning radical transformations of the collective visions of the world. He sees one of the first of these precisely in Christianity’s assertion of itself in a Roman empire that was nonetheless at the peak of its power. A second in the dissolution of the medieval regime of Christendom at its apogee, with the gradual domination, up to our own day, of materialist culture with its sexual revolution.

The proponents of hypermodernity are convinced they have the world in their hands. Who knows, however, whether they are like the pagans of the late empire or the scholastic philosophers of the early modern age, unable to see that there can come even today, as back then, a paradigm shift, a new “metaphysical mutation,” a decisive vaccine.

It is not in fact a matter of course - Pertici has written in commenting on Houellebecq - that the one-way march of history is inexorable, as in the thinking of the progressives, including Catholics, nor that the era that began with the “metaphysical mutation” leading to the present de-Christianization is to last forever. The complete deployment of today’s dominant culture could lead to a new rupture.

Hence the importance of keeping the Christian heritage intact, in order to be able to critically re-propose it in the modern empire, and to regenerate it. From the teaching of the first Christians and the Fathers of the Church.


At the previous conference of the Magna Carta Foundation, in 2019, Sandro Magister gave an extensive report on the political vision of Pope Francis, reproduced on Settimo Cìelo:

> A Pope With the “Myth” of the People

A Pearl Harbor Zippo
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 21:07:00 +0000

Years ago, I was a tobacconist. The shop in which I worked carried collectable Zippo cigarette lighters and we had a number of reference books designed to help us date and grade Zippos that belonged to customers.

One day, a young man came into the shop and said he'd like to show me something. He handed me the familiar small cardboard box that Zippos came in before the Age of Plastic. I opened it to find an original Zippo purchased in the ship stores of the USS Arizona (BB-39)! He said his great-uncle had gone down with the ship on 7 December 1941, but he had sent the lighter home after buying it, so he would have it when he came back. 

We did some rough maths. The USS Arizona had a complement of just over 1,000 men. Since most men of military age were smokers at the time, we assumed that 80% of them might have bought a lighter as a memento of their time on the vessel. Of those, how many would have sent it home? We figured only 5-10% of them since most would have used them when the smoking lamp was on. So, 80% of 1,000 is 800, and 5-10% of 800 is 40-80. The rest would have gone to the bottom with their owners.

I told him there was no way I could put a value on it. He said that he wasn't worried about that because if it ever left the family's possession it would be donated to a museum.

It was a moving experience, holding that artefact of the Day That Will Live in Infamy.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Lest we forget! 
Off the Menu: Episode 212 - Are You Done Being Creepy?
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 21:00:00 +0000

Topics range from St Nicholas and St John Fisher to differences between the Douai-Rheims Bible and protestant versions.

0:00 Intro 0:10 Festive 1:40 Creepy 6:50 Santa Barbara 9:30 Saint Nicholas 14:25 Calendar 19:20 Memes of Production 28:00 Lydia's Cat 32:00 St. John Fisher 36:52 The Faith in Australia 44:22 Calvinist Objections 51:50 Douay Rheims Bibles 53:40 Lightning Round! 1:00:30 Neoliberalism vs Neoconservatism 1:04:30 Sacrament of Confirmation 1:10:17 Douay Rheims Different Numbers 12:55 Protestant 10 Commandments 1:14:25 Taylor Ham or Pork Roll? 1:17:05 Charles's Favorite Sandwich 1:18:30 New Paradigm 1:20:17 Closing Thoughts

Extinct Tree From the Time of Jesus Rises From the Dead in Israel
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 20:52:00 +0000

Absolutely fascinating! 'Extinct' for a thousand years, the seeds were lying dormant, just waiting to grow. 

Forests of Judean date palm trees once covered ancient Israel, from Lake Galilee to the Dead Sea. The fruit of the tree symbolised life and prosperity and was praised in ancient literature for its unique medicinal properties. But the dates of Judea were made extinct by the Middle Ages. Now a team of scientists has succeeded in resurrecting the ancient tree.

Another 'Bi-Ritual' Saint - St Ambrose of Milan
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 20:32:00 +0000

St Ambrose Day is kept in both West and East. Here's his story from both Rites.

From the West: 

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, the son of a Roman citizen, whose name was also Ambrose, and who held the office of Prefect of Cisalpine Gaul. It is related that when the saint was an infant, a swarm of bees rested on his lips. It was a presage of his future extraordinary eloquence. He received a liberal education at Rome and not long after was appointed, by the Prefect Probus, to be Governor of Liguria and Emilia whence, later on, he was sent, by order of the same Probus, to Milan, with power of Judge, for the people of that city were quarrelling among themselves about the successor of the Arian Bishop Auxentius who had died. Wherefore, Ambrose, having entered the Church that he might fulfil the duty that had been imposed on him, and quell the disturbance that had arisen, delivered an eloquent discourse on the advantages of peace and tranquillity in a State. Scarcely had he finished speaking, than a boy exclaimed: “Ambrose, Bishop!” The whole multitude shouted: “Ambrose, Bishop!” On his refusing to accede to their entreaties, the earnest request of the people was presented to the Emperor Valentinian, who was gratified that they whom he selected as Judges were thus sought after to be made Priests. It was also pleasing to the Prefect Probus who, as though he foresaw the event, said to Ambrose on his setting out: “Go, act not as Judge, but as Bishop.” The desire of the people being thus seconded by the will of the Emperor, Ambrose was baptised (for he was only a catechumen), and was admitted to sacred Orders, ascending by all the degrees of Orders as prescribed by the Church. And on the eighth day, which was the seventh of the Ides of December (December 7th), he received the burden of the Episcopacy.

Being made Bishop, he most strenuously defended the Catholic faith and ecclesiastical discipline. He converted to the true faith many Arians and other heretics among whom was that brightest luminary of the Church, Saint Augustine, the spiritual child of Ambrose in Christ Jesus. When the Emperor Gratian was killed by Maximus, he was twice deputed to go to this murderer and insist on his doing penance for his crime, which he refusing to do, Ambrose refused to hold communion with him. The Emperor Theodosius having made himself guilty of the massacre at Thessalonica was forbidden by the Saint to enter the church. On the Emperor excusing himself by saying that King David had also committed murder and adultery, Ambrose replied: “You have imitated his sin, now imitate his repentance.” Upon which, Theodosius humbly performed the public penance which the Bishop imposed on him. The holy Bishop having thus gone through the greatest labours and solicitudes for God’s Church, and having written several admirable books, foretold the day of his death even before being taken with his last sickness. Honoratus, the Bishop of Vercelli, was thrice admonished by the voice of God to go to the dying Saint. He went and administered to him the Sacred Body of our Lord. Ambrose having received it and placing his hands in the form of the cross, prayed and yielded his soul up to God on the vigil of the Nones of April (April 4th) 397.

Dom Prosper Guéranger:
This illustrious Pontiff was deservedly placed in the Calendar of the Church side by side with the glorious Bishop of Myra. Nicholas confessed at Nicaea the divinity of the Redeemer. Ambrose, in his city of Milan, was the object of the hatred of the Arians and, by his invincible courage, triumphed over the enemies of Christ. Let Ambrose, then, unite his voice as Doctor of the Church with that of Saint Peter Chrysologus, and preach to the world the glories and the humiliations of the Messiah. But as Doctor of the Church he has a special claim to our veneration: it is that among the bright luminaries of the Latin Church, four great Masters head the list of sacred Interpreters of the Faith: Gregory, Augustine, Jerome, and then our glorious Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, makes up the mystic number.
Ambrose owes his noble position in the Calendar to the ancient custom of the Church by which, in the early ages, no Saint’s feast was allowed to be kept in Lent. The day of his departure from this world and of his entrance into Heaven was the fourth of April which, more frequently than not, comes during Lent: so that it was requisite that the memory of his sacred death should be solemnised on some other day, and the seventh of December naturally presented itself for such a feast, inasmuch as it was the anniversary day of Ambrose being consecrated Bishop.
But, independently of these considerations, the road which leads us to Bethlehem could be perfumed by nothing so fragrant as by this feast of Saint Ambrose. Does not the thought of this saintly and amiable Bishop impress us with the image of dignity and sweetness combined? of the strength of the lion united with the gentleness of the dove? Time removes the deepest human impressions but the memory of Ambrose is as vivid and dear in men’s minds as though he was still among us. Who can ever forget the young, yet staid and learned governor of Liguria and Emilia, who comes to Milan as a simple catechumen and finds himself forced, by the acclamations of the people, to ascend the episcopal throne of this great city? And how indelibly impressed on us are certain touching incidents of his early life! For instance, that beautiful presage of his irresistible eloquence — the swarm of bees coming round him as he was sleeping one day in his father’s garden, and entering into his mouth as though they would tell us how sweet that babe’s words would be? and the prophetic gravity with which Ambrose, when quite a boy, would hold out his hand to his mother and sister, bidding them kiss it, for that one day it would be the hand of a Bishop!
But what hard work awaited the neophyte of Milan who was no sooner regenerated in the waters of baptism than he was consecrated Priest and Bishop! He had to apply himself, there and then, to a close study of the sacred Scriptures, that so he might prepare himself to become the defender of the Church which was attacked in the fundamental dogma of the Incarnation by the false science of the Arians. In a short time he attained such proficiency in the sacred sciences, as to become, like the Prophet, a wall of brass which checked the further progress of Arianism: not only so, but the works written by Ambrose possessed that plenitude and surety of doctrine as to be numbered by the Church among the most faithful and authoritative interpretations of her teaching. But Ambrose had other and fiercer contests than those of religious controversy to encounter: his very life was more than once threatened by the heretics whom he had silenced. What a sublime spectacle that of a Bishop blockaded in his church by the troops of the Empress Justina, and defended within by his people, day and night! Pastor and flock, both are admirable. How had Ambrose merited such fidelity and confidence on the part of this people? By a whole life spent for the welfare of his city and his country. He had never ceased to preach Jesus to all men. And now, the people see their Bishop become, by his zeal, his devotedness, and his self-sacrificing conduct, a living image of Jesus.
In the midst of these dangers which threatened his person, his great soul was calm and seemingly unconscious of the fury of his enemies. It was on that very occasion that he instituted at Milan the choral singing of the Psalms. Up to that time, the holy Canticles had been given from the Ambo by the single voice of a Lector, but Ambrose, shut up in his Basilica with his people, takes the opportunity, and forms two choirs, bidding them respond to each other the verses of the Psalms. The people forgot their trouble in the delight of this heavenly music. Nay, the very howling of the tempest and the fierceness of the siege they were sustaining, added enthusiasm to this first exercise of their new privilege. Such was the chivalrous origin of Alternate Psalmody in the Western Church. Rome adopted the practice which Ambrose was the first to introduce, and which will continue to be observed to the end of time. During these hours of struggle with his enemies, the glorious Bishop has another gift with which to enrich the faithful people who are defending him at the risk of their own lives. Ambrose is a poet, and he has frequently sung, in verses full of sweetness and sublimity, the greatness of the God of the Christians, and the mysteries of man’s salvation. He now gives to his devoted people these hymns which he had only composed for his own private devotion. The Basilicas of Milan soon echoed these accents of the sublime soul which first uttered them. Later on, the whole Latin Church adopted them, and in honour of the holy Bishop who had thus opened one of the richest sources of the sacred Liturgy, a Hymn was for a long time called after his name, an Ambrosian. The Divine Office thus received a new mode of celebrating the divine praise, and the Church, the Spouse of Christ, possessed one means more of giving expression to the sentiments which animate her.
Thus our Hymns and the alternate singing of the Psalms are trophies of Ambrose’s victory. He had been raised up by God not for his own age only, but also for those which were to follow. Hence, the Holy Ghost infused into him the knowledge of Christian jurisprudence that he might be the defender of the rights of the Church at a period when paganism still lived, though defeated. And imperialism, or caesarism, had still the instinct, though not the uncontrolled power, to exercise its tyranny. Ambrose’s law was the Gospel, and he would acknowledge no law which was in opposition to that. He could not understand such imperial policy as that of ordering a Basilica to be given up to the Arians, for quietness’ sake! He would defend the inheritance of the Church. And in that defence, would shed the last drop of his blood. Certain courtiers dared to accuse him of tyranny: “No,” answered the Saint, “Bishops are not tyrants, but have often to suffer from tyranny.” The eunuch Calligonus, high chamberlain of the Emperor Valentinian II had said to Ambrose: “What! Dare you, in my presence, to care so little for Valentinian! I will cut off your head.” “I would it might be so,” answered Ambrose, “I should then die as a Bishop, and you would have done what eunuchs are wont to do.”
This noble courage in the defence of the rights of the Church showed itself even more clearly on another occasion. The Roman Senate, or rather that portion of the Senate which, though a minority, was still Pagan, was instigated by Symmachus, the Prefect of Rome, to ask the Emperor for the re-erection of the altar of Victory in the Capitol under the pretext of averting the misfortunes which threatened the empire. Ambrose, who had said to these politicians, “I hate the Religion of the Neros,” vehemently opposed this last effort of idolatry. He presented most eloquent petitions to Valentinian, in which he protested against an attempt whose object was to bring a Christian Prince to recognise that false doctrines have rights, and which would, if permitted to be tried, rob Him who is the one only Master of nations, of the victories which he had won. Valentinian yielded to these earnest remonstrances which taught him “that a Christian Emperor can only honour one Altar — the Altar of Christ,” and when the Senators had to receive their answer, the prince told them that Rome was his mother and he loved her, but that God was his Saviour, and he would obey Him. If the Empire of Rome had not been irrevocably condemned by God to destruction, the influence which Saint Ambrose had over such well-intentioned princes as Valentinian would probably have saved it. The Saint’s maxim to the Rulers of the world was this, though it was not to be realised in any of them until new kingdoms should spring up out of the ruins of the Roman Empire, and those new kingdoms and peoples organised by the Christian Church: but Saint Ambrose could have no other, and he therefore taught the Emperors of those times that “an Emperor’s grandest title is to be a Son of the Church. An Emperor is in the Church, he is not over her.”
It is beautiful to see the affectionate solicitude of Saint Ambrose for the young Emperor Gratian at whose death he shed floods of tears. How tenderly too did he not love Theodosius, that model Christian prince, for whose sake God retarded the fall of the Empire by the uninterrupted victory over all its enemies! On one occasion, indeed, this Son of the Church showed in himself the Pagan Caesar. But his holy father Ambrose, by a severity, which was inflexible because his affection for the culprit was great, brought him back to his duty and his God. “I loved,” says the holy Bishop in the funeral oration which he preached over Theodosius, “I loved this Prince who preferred correction to flattery. He stripped himself of his royal robes and publicly wept in the Church for the sin he had committed, and into which he had been led by evil counsel. In sighs and tears he sought to be forgiven. He, an Emperor, did what common men would be ashamed to do, he did public penance, and for the rest of his life he passed not a day without bewailing his sin.”
But we should have a very false idea of Saint Ambrose if we thought that he only turned his attention to affairs of importance like these, which brought him before the notice of the world. No pastor could be more solicitous than he about the slightest details which affected the interests of his flock. We have his life written by his deacon, Paulinus, who knew secrets which intimacy alone can know, and these fortunately he has revealed to us. Among other things, he tells us that when Ambrose heard confessions, he shed so many tears that the sinner was forced to weep: “You would have thought,” says Paulinus, “that they were his own sins that he was listening to.” We all know the tender paternal interest he felt for Augustine when he was a slave to error and his passions, and if we would have a faithful portrait of Ambrose, we must read in the Confessions of the Bishop of Hippo the fine passage where he expresses his admiration and gratitude for his spiritual father. Ambrose had told Monica that her son Augustine, who gave her so much anxiety, would be converted. That happy day at last came. It was Ambrose’s hand which immersed into the cleansing waters of Baptism him who was to be the prince of the Doctors of the Church.
A heart thus loyal in its friendship could not but be affectionate to those who were related by ties of blood. He tenderly loved his brother Satyrus, as we may see from the two funeral orations which he has left us upon this brother in which he speaks his praises with all the warmth of enthusiastic admiration. He had a sister, too, named Marcellina, who was equally dear to her saintly brother. From her earliest years, she had spurned the world and its pomps, and the position which she might expect to enjoy in it, as being a Patrician’s daughter. She had received the veil of virginity from the hands of Pope Liberius, but lived in her father’s house at Rome. Her brother Ambrose was separated from her, but he seemed to love her the more for that. And he communicated with her in her holy retirement by frequent letters, several of which are still extant. She deserved all the esteem which Ambrose had for her. She had a great love for the Church of God, and she was heart and soul in all the great undertakings of her brother the Bishop. The very heading of these letters shows the affection of the Saint: “The Brother to the Sister,” or, “To my sister Marcellina, dearer to me than my own eyes and life.” Then follows the letter, in a style of nerve and animation, well suited to the soul-stirring communications he had to make to her about his struggles. One of them was written in the midst of the storm, when the courageous Pontiff was besieged in his Basilica by Justina’s soldiers. His discourses to the people of Milan, his consolations and his trials, the heroic sentiments of his great soul, all is told in these despatches to his sister, and where every line shows how strong and holy was the attachment between Ambrose and Marcellina. The great Basilica of Milan still contains the tomb of the brother and sister: and over them both is daily offered the divine sacrifice.
Such was Ambrose, of whom Theodosius was one day heard to say: “There is but one Bishop in the world.” Let us glorify the Holy Spirit who has vouchsafed to produce this sublime model in the Church, and let us beg of the holy Pontiff to obtain for us, by his prayers, a share in that lively faith and ardent love which he himself had, and which he evinces in those delicious and eloquent writings, which he has left us on the mystery of the Incarnation. During these days, which are preparing us for the birth of our Incarnate Lord, Ambrose is one of our most powerful patrons. His love towards the Blessed Mother of God teaches us what admiration and devotion we ought to have for Mary. Saint Ephrem and Saint Ambrose are the two Fathers of the fourth century who are the most explicit upon the glories of the office and the person of the Mother of Jesus. To confine ourselves to Saint Ambrose, he had completely mastered this mystery, which he understood, and appreciated, and defined in his writings. Mary’s exemption from every stain of sin, Mary’s uniting herself at the foot of the Cross with her Divine Son for the salvation of the world, Jesus appearing after His resurrection, to Mary first of all — on these and so many other points Saint Ambrose has spoken so clearly as to deserve to be considered as one of the most prominent witnesses of the primitive traditions respecting the privileges and dignity of the holy Mother of God.
This his devotion to Mary explains SaintAmbrose’s enthusiastic admiration for the holy state of Christian Virginity, of which he might justly be called the Doctor. He surpasses all the Fathers in the beautiful and eloquent manner in which he speaks of the dignity and happiness of Virginity. Four of his writings are devoted to the praises of this sublime state. The Pagans would fain have an imitation of it, by instituting seven Vestal Virgins, whom they loaded with honours and riches, and to whom they in due time restored liberty. Saint Ambrose shows how contemptible these were, compared with the innumerable Virgins of the Christian Church who filled the whole world with the fragrance of their humility, constancy and disinterestedness. But on this magnificent subject his words were even more telling than his writings, and we learn from his contemporaries that when he went to preach in any town, mothers would not allow their daughters to be present at his sermon, lest this irresistible panegyrist of the eternal nuptials with the Lamb should convince them that that was the better part, and persuade them to make it the object of their desires.
The Greeks honour the memory of the great Bishop of Milan by Hymns replete with the most magnificent praises.
We, also, O Immortal Ambrose, unworthy though we be to take a part in such a choir, we, too, will praise you! We will praise the magnificent ifts which our Lord bestowed on you. You are the Light of the Church and the Salt of the Earth by your heavenly teachings. You are the vigilant Pastor, the affectionate Father, the unyielding Pontiff. Oh how must your heart have loved that Jesus for whom we are now preparing! With what undaunted courage did you, at the risk of your life, resist them that blasphemed this Divine Word! Well indeed have you thereby merited to be made one of the Patrons of the faithful, to lead them, each year, to Him who is their Saviour and their King! Let, then, a ray of the truth, which filled you sublime soul while here on Earth, penetrate even into our hearts. Give us a relish of your sweet and eloquent writings. Get us a sentiment of devoted love for the Jesus who is so soon to be with us. Obtain for us, after your example, to take up His cause with energy against the enemies of our holy faith, against the spirits of darkness, and against ourselves. Let everything yield, let everything be annihilated, let every knee bow, let every heart confess itself conquered, in the presence of Jesus, the eternal Word of the Father, the Son of God, and the Son of Mary, our Redeemer, our Judge, our All.
Glorious Saint! humble us, as you did Theodosius. Raise us up again contrite and converted, as you lovingly raised up this your strayed sheep and carried him back to your fold. Pray, too, for the Catholic hierarchy of which you were one of the brightest ornaments. Ask of God, for the Priests and Bishops of His Church, that humble yet inflexible courage with which they should resist the Powers of the world, as often as they abuse the authority which God has put into their hands. “Let their face,” as our Lord Himself speaks, “become hard as adamant” (Ezechiel i. 9) against the enemies of the Church, and may they set themselves “as a wall for the house of Israel” (Ezechiel xiii. 5). May they consider it as the highest privilege and the greatest happiness to be permitted to expose their property, and peace, and life, for the liberty of this holy Spouse of Christ.
Valiant champion of the Truth, Arm yourself with your scourge which the Church has given you as your emblem, and drive far from the flock of Christ the wolves of the Arian tribe which, under various names, are even now prowling round the fold. Let our ears be no longer shocked with the blasphemies of these proud teachers who presume to scan, judge, approve and blame, by the measure of their vain conceits, the great God who has given them everything they are and have, and who, out of infinite love for His creatures, has deigned to humble Himself and become one of ourselves, although knowing that men would make this very condescension an argument for denying that he is God.
Remove our prejudices, O great lover of truth, and crush within us those time-serving and unwise theories which tend to make us Christians forget that Jesus is the King of this world and look on the law, which equally protects error and truth, as the perfection of modern systems. May we understand that the rights of the Son of God and His Church do not cease to exist because the world ceases to acknowledge them: that to give the same protection to the true religion and to those false doctrines which men have set up in opposition to the teaching of the Church, is to deny that all power has been given to Jesus in Heaven and on Earth, that those scourges which periodically come upon the world are the lessons which Jesus gives to those who trample on the rights of His Church, rights which He so justly acquired by dying on the Cross for all mankind, that, finally, though it be out of our power to restore those rights to people that have had the misfortune to resign them, yet it is our duty, under pain of being accomplices with those who would not have Jesus reign over them, to acknowledge that they are the rights of the Church.
And lastly, dear Saint, in the midst of the dark clouds which lower over the world, console our holy Mother the Church who is now but a stranger and pilgrim amid those nations which were her children, but have now denied her. May she cull the flowers of holy virginity among the faithful, and may that holy state be the attraction of those fortunate souls who understand how grand is the dignity of being a Spouse of Christ. If, at the very commencement of her ministry, during the ages of persecution, the holy Church could lead countless virgins to Jesus, may it be so even now in our own age of crime and sensuality. May those pure and generous hearts formed and consecrated to the Lamb by this holy Mother, become more and more numerous, and so give to her enemies this irresistible proof that she is not barren as they pretend, and that it is she that alone preserves the world from universal corruption, by leavening it with this angelic purity.
Let us consider that last visible preparation for the coming of the Messiah: a universal Peace. The din of war is silenced and the entire world is intent in expectation. “There are three silences to be considered,” says Saint Bonaventure in one of his Sermons for Advent: “the first in the days of Noah, after the deluge had destroyed all sinners. The second in the days of Caesar Augustus when all nations were subjected to the empire. The third will be at the death of Antichrist, when the Jews will be converted.” O Jesus! Prince of Peace, you will that the world will be in peace when you are coming down to dwell in it. You foretold this by the Psalmist, your ancestor in the flesh, who speaking of you, said: “He will make wars to cease even to the end of the Earth. He will destroy the bow and break the weapons, and the shield he will burn in the fire” (Psalm xlv. 10). And why is this, O Jesus? It is that hearts which you are to visit must be silent and attentive. It is that before you enter a soul, you trouble it in thy great mercy, as the world was troubled and agitated before the universal peace, then you bring peace into that soul and you take possession of her. Oh! come quickly, dear Lord, subdue our rebellious senses, bring low the haughtiness of our spirit, crucify our flesh, rouse our hearts from their sleep: and then may your entrance into our souls be a feast day of triumph, as when a conqueror enters a city which he has taken after a long siege. Sweet Jesus, Prince of Peace, give us peace. Fix your kingdom so firmly in our hearts that you may reign in us forever.

 From the East:

Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, was born in the year 340 into the family of the Roman prefect of Gaul (now France). Even in the saint’s childhood there appeared presentiments of his great future. Once, bees covered the face of the sleeping infant. They flew in and out of his mouth, leaving honey on his tongue. Soon they flew away so high that they could no longer be seen. Ambrose’s father said that the child would become something great when he reached manhood.

After the death of the father of the family, Ambrose journeyed to Rome, where the future saint and his brother Satyrius received an excellent education. About the year 370, upon completion of his course of study, Ambrose was appointed to the position of governor (consular prefect) of the districts of Liguria and Aemilia, though he continued to live at Mediolanum (now Milan).

In the year 374 Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Mediolanum died. This led to complications between the Catholics and the Arians since each side wanted to have its own bishop. Ambrose, as the chief city official, went to the church to resolve the dispute.

While he was speaking to the crowd, suddenly a child cried out, “Ambrose for bishop!” The people took up this chant. Ambrose, who at this time was still a catechumen, considered himself unworthy and tried to refuse. He disparaged himself, and even tried to flee from Mediolanum. The matter went ultimately before the emperor Valentinian the Elder (364-375), whose orders Ambrose dared not disobey. He accepted holy Baptism from a Catholic priest and, passing through all the ranks of the Church clergy in just seven days, on December 7, 374 he was consecrated Bishop of Mediolanum. He dispersed all his possessions, money and property for the adornment of churches, the upkeep of orphans and the poor, and he devoted himself to a strict ascetic life.

Ambrose combined strict temperance, intense vigilance and work within the fulfilling of his duties as archpastor. Saint Ambrose, defending the unity of the Church, energetically opposed the spread of heresy. Thus, in the year 379 he travelled off to establish a Catholic Bishop at Sirmium, and in 385-386, he refused to hand over the basilica of Mediolanum to the Arians.

The preaching of Saint Ambrose in defence of Catholicism was deeply influential. Another noted Father of the Western Church, Saint Augustine (June 15), bore witness to this, having accepted holy Baptism in the year 387 by the grace of the preaching of the bishop of Mediolanum.

Saint Ambrose also actively participated in civil matters. Thus, the emperor Gracian (375-383), having received from him the “Exposition of the Catholic Faith” (De Fide), removed, by decree of the saint, the altar of Victory from the halls of the Senate at Rome, on which oaths were wont to be taken. Displaying a pastoral boldness, Saint Ambrose placed a severe penance on the emperor Theodosius I (379-395) for the massacre of innocent inhabitants of Thessalonica. For him there was no difference between emperor and commoner. Though he released Theodosius from the penance, the saint would not permit the emperor to commune at the altar but compelled him to do public penance.

The fame of Bishop Ambrose and his actions attracted to him many followers from other lands. From far away Persia learned men came to him to ask him questions and absorb his wisdom. Fritigelda (Frigitil), queen of the military Germanic tribe of the Marcomanni, which often had attacked Mediolanum, asked the saint to instruct her in the Christian Faith. The saint in his letter to her persuasively stated the dogmas of the Church. And having become a believer, the queen converted her own husband to Christianity and persuaded him to conclude a treaty of peace with the Roman Empire.

The saint combined strictness with an uncommon kindliness. Granted a gift of wonderworking, he healed many from sickness. One time at Florence, while staying at the house of Decentus, he resurrected a dead boy.

The repose of Saint Ambrose, who departed to the Lord on the night of Holy Pascha, was accompanied by many miracles. He even appeared in a vision to the children being baptized that night. The saint was buried in the Ambrosian basilica in Mediolanum, beneath the altar, between the Martyrs Protasius and Gervasius (October 14).

A zealous preacher and valiant defender of the Christian Faith, Saint Ambrose received particular renown as a Church writer. In dogmatic compositions, he set forth the Catholic teaching about the Holy Trinity, the Sacraments, and Repentance: “Five Books on the Faith” (De Fide); “Explication of the Symbol of the Faith” (Explanatio Symboli); “On the Incarnation” (De Incarnationis); “Three Books on the Holy Spirit” (De Spiritu Sancto); “On the Sacraments” (De Sacramento); “Two Books on Repentance” (De Paenitentia). In writings about Christian morality, he explained the excellence of Christian moral teaching compared to pagan moral teaching.

A well-known work of Saint Ambrose, “On the Duties of the Clergy” (De Officiis Ministrorum) evidences his deep awareness of pastoral duty. He stresses that those who serve in the Church should have not only the proper knowledge of Church services but also the proper knowledge of moral precepts.

Saint Ambrose was also a reformer of Church singing. He introduced antiphonal singing (along with the Eastern or Syrian form) into the Western Church, which became known as “Ambrosian Chant.” He also composed twelve hymns that were used during his lifetime. The hymn, “Thee, O God, we praise” (Te Deum), attributed to Saint Ambrose, entered into the divine services of the Catholic Church (Molieben).

Troparion — Tone 4

In truth, you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, / an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; / your humility exalted you; / your poverty enriched you. / Hierarch Father Ambrose, / entreat Christ our God / that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion — Tone 3

You shone forth with divine doctrine eclipsing the deception of Arius, / shepherd and initiate of the mysteries, Ambrose. / You worked miracles through the power of the Spirit, / healing various passions; / righteous father, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.
Let's Remember Pearl Harbor!
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 20:31:00 +0000
Today is the 80th anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, and the British and Dutch colonies in SE Asia on December 7, 1941.

Shortly after the Japanese attack, Sammy Kaye wrote the music and Don Reid wrote the words to "Remember Pearl Harbor", the tune of which was actually borrowed from Ohio University's "Alma Mater". On December 17, 1941, RCA Victor recorded the song, with Sammy Kaye's Swing and Sway Band and The Glee Club. 

Here it is, with the lyrics.

History in ev’ry century records an act that lives forevermore
We’ll recall, as into line we fall, the thing that happened on Hawaii’s shore

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
As we go to meet the foe
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
As we did the Alamo
We will always remember how they died for liberty
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
And go on to victory!

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
As we go to meet the foe
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
As we did the Alamo
We will always remember how they died for liberty
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
And go on to victory!
Word of the Day: Divorce
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 19:00:00 +0000

 DIVORCE. Legal separation of husband and wife, or the release by civil authority from any one or more of the bonds of matrimony between them. Imperfect divorce is the separation of husband and wife so that the duty of living together, and sometimes the support, is relaxed, but giving them no right to remarry. Also called separation from bed and board, but not the severance of the primary bond of marriage, which is the exclusive lifelong fidelity in the use of marital rights. (Etym. Latin divortium; from divertere, to part, separate, turn aside.)

African Priest Writes Second Open Letter to Pope Francis Noting Theological Concerns
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 18:00:00 +0000

Pray for Fr Missigbètò! He is a very brave man and I'm actually quite surprised that he hasn't been silenced by his Bishop on Vatican orders.

From Edward Pentin

To read about Father Jesusmary Missigbètò and his first Open Letter, addressing concerns over Pope Francis’ approval of same-sex civil unions and situational ethics, please see here.


“Second call for Pope Francis’ rectification”

Yamoussoukro (City of Peace); Ivory Coast; December 8, 2021

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary

Dear Father,

Dear Elders in the Catholic faith,

Why a second open letter?

Harold Abrahams, British athlete, told his fiancée Sybil Gordon: “I don’t run to take beatings! I run to win! If I can’t win, I won’t run!” She replied: “If you don’t run, you can’t win! Ring me when you’ve sorted that one out!” (Film ‘Chariots of Fire’, 1981) It is this obvious truth in ordinary life that is forgotten by “progressive” Catholics in their “mercy” towards the remarried divorced… My first open letter was addressed to all Christians because of the international publicity Pope Francis’ acceptance of homosexual civil coexistence laws had received. Still in the spirit of charity and truth of St. Paul at Antioch (cf. Galatians 2:11), this second open letter is addressed only to the Pope, cardinals and bishops.

In 2,100 years of history, what has Catholic Tradition done for remarried divorcees?

“I (name) take you (name) to be my wife/husband. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.” These are the sacred words with which a man and a woman swear to love each other forever, taking God and the Church as their witnesses. When serious difficulties arise later (quarrels, violence, infidelity, etc.), the Catholic Church recognises that spouses have the right to live in peace and not to have the same place of residence (legal separation). However, she cannot accept divorce and the possibility of founding a new family with another woman or man. The Church, in fact, remains faithful to the sacredness of the words spoken by the spouses themselves on the day of their marriage. And she also remains faithful to the words of Jesus Christ, her Master: “Have you not read that the Creator made them male and female in the beginning and said: ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore let no one separate what God has joined together. (Matthew 19:4-6) “If anyone divorces his wife and marries another, he is an adulterer of the first; and if the wife divorces her husband and marries another, she is an adulteress.” (Mark 10:11-12)

Catholics who, after receiving the Sacrament of Marriage, have finally left their wife (husband) to form a new family with another woman (man) are called “remarried divorced”. Some resort to civil divorce and marriage. Others ask the Catholic Church to open a process in which the nullity of the Sacrament of Marriage received is established and declared. Then they can marry their new partner before God and the Church. In fact, they think (subjectively or objectively) that the Sacrament of Marriage received was invalid, i.e. that there was no marriage because of an essential defect (lack of maturity, lack of free consent, desire for infidelity, exclusion of procreation, etc.) Catholic Tradition has endeavoured to resolve the problem in its causes and consequences. Upstream, the Church has begun to better instruct fiancées on the sacredness of the marriage commitment and the seriousness of marriage preparation (true friendship, mutual knowledge, prayer, etc.); downstream, the Church has accepted to open nullity proceedings and to accompany the remarried divorced with mercy, encouraging them to live their Christian life well in spite of the difficulties.

From the moral point of view, all remarried divorced persons who cohabit sexually commit the sin of adultery (if the previous marriage was valid) or the sin of fornication (if the previous marriage was not valid). The Tradition of the Catholic Church, faithful to the Old and New Testament, has always considered these two sins as grave (6th commandment). For the sake of the eternal salvation of the remarried divorced, Tradition has invited them to separate (to get out of adultery) or to resolve the problems that prevent marriage (to get out of fornication), before they can receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist (cf. Code of Canon Law 915).

What to do when it is impossible for the remarried divorced to separate for serious reasons that oblige them to live together (children, financial means, age, etc.)? On November 22, 1981, Pope St. John Paul II recalled a first mercy granted by the Catholic Church: “when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.'” (Familiaris Consortio 84). Therefore, they live as brother and sister (tamquam frater et soror), because conceding common life for serious reasons does not mean conceding sexual life. On September 14, 1994, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger clarified that, “in such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to bishops, 4). Concretely, this means that the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist are received in private and not in public, otherwise “the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage” (Familiaris Consortio 84).

What to do when, despite a commitment to live as brothers and sisters, remarried divorced people frequently fall into a lapse against the virtue of continence? On March 22, 1996, Pope St. John Paul II recalled a second mercy granted by the Catholic Church: “it is indeed possible that, even in the loyalty of the resolution not to sin any more, the experience of the past and the consciousness of present weakness give rise to the fear of further falls; but this does not impair the genuineness of the resolution, when that fear is joined to the will, supported by prayer, to do what is possible to avoid sin” (Letter to Cardinal William Baum 5). The Church is thus a Mother full of closeness, compassion and tenderness. To receive the Sacrament of Penance, she does not ask for a promise of victory, but a promise of struggle. However, after so much mercy of the Catholic Tradition towards the remarried divorced, is it possible to do more?

Amoris Laetitia and its new “mercy”

The publication of Amoris Laetitia (March 19, 2016) has sparked a lively debate. On April 18, 2016, on his return from the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis was asked by a journalist: “some claim that nothing has changed… others claim, rather, that much has changed… Are there new concrete possibilities that did not exist before the publication of the Exhortation, or not?” Pope Francis’ answer: “Yes”.

On September 5, 2016, Archbishop Sergio Alfredo Fenoy and the bishops of the Pastoral Region of Buenos Aires wrote a letter to the Pope: “5) When the concrete circumstances of a couple make it feasible, especially when both are Christians walking the path of faith, the commitment to live in continence can be proposed. Amoris laetitia does not ignore the difficulties of this option (cf. note 329) and offers the possibility of having access to the sacrament of Reconciliation when such a commitment fails (cf. note 364, according to the teaching of St. John Paul II to Cardinal W. Baum, of 03/22/1996). 6) In other more complex circumstances, and where a declaration of nullity cannot be obtained, the mentioned option may not, in fact, be feasible. Nonetheless, a path of discernment is also possible. If it is recognised that in a particular case there are limitations that mitigate responsibility and culpability (cf. 301-302), especially when a person considers that he/she would incur a subsequent fault by harming the children of the new union, Amoris laetitia offers the possibility of having access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist (cf. notes 336 and 351). These, in turn, prepare the person to continue maturing and growing with the power of grace.”

On the same day, September 5, 2016, Pope Francis wrote a letter in response: “I received the text of the Buenos Aires Pastoral Region… The text is very good and thoroughly explains the meaning of chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia. There are no other interpretations”. On September 19, 2016, in the Lateran Basilica, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope’s Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, made public a text similar to that of the Argentineans. On June 5, 2017, the Pope ordered that the Argentinean letter and its reply be published in the official Vatican archives (cf. Acta Apostolicae Sedis 108, pp. 1071-1074) and on the website There is therefore no doubt that Pope Francis fully accepts the content of the Argentinean letter.

Why does the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, validated by Pope Francis, contradict Catholic doctrine and morality?

1) The struggle against sexual cohabitation becomes an option…

Catholic Tradition has always placed the struggle on the virtue of sexual continence as an absolute condition for the remarried divorced (like all the faithful of the Church) to have access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. On the contrary, with Amoris Laetitia, this condition has become an “option”. For Pope Francis and the bishops of Buenos Aires, “the commitment to live in continence can be proposed”. However, what is the supernatural (divine) basis for such an affirmation? None. Who are the holy popes or bishops who have proposed to the remarried divorced the struggle for sexual continence as an option? None. In 21 centuries, which magisterial document exempts unmarried persons from struggling against sexual cohabitation? None. A simple historical proof is this: in the Sacrament of Penance, the firm resolution to use all possible means to avoid sinning is part of the penitent’s acts.

Number 1451 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the definition of the Council of Trent (Doctrine on the Sacrament of Penance, 14thsession, November 25, 1551)“Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is ‘sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.’ (Cc. Trent: DS 1676).” This resolution is also required in the case of imperfect contrition (cf. Council of Trent DS 1678, Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church 303). The Catechism of the Council of Trent adds: “The same thing also Christ our Lord prescribed to the woman taken in adultery; ‘Go thy way, says he, and now sin no more’. And to the lame man that was cured at the pool of Bethsaida. ‘Behold, says he, thou art made whole, now sin no more. But nature itself also and reason plainly shew, that these two things are chiefly necessary to contrition, to wit, grief for sin done, and a purpose and caution not to do the like for the time to come.” (Part II, Henry Hills Edition, 1687, p. 255) The Catechism of St. Pius X confirms that this resolution implies a necessity of means: “A good resolution consists in a determined will not to commit sin for the future and to use all necessary means to avoid it.” (The Sacrament of Penance, 60 Q.)

2) There is gradualness of the law (instead of law of gradualness)…

“Gradualness of law” consists in inserting degrees or levels in the duty to fulfil the law. This would mean that not all human beings have the same duty. Therefore, some might be exempted because of their person, situation or circumstance. The “law of gradualness” consists in inserting degrees or levels in the effort to fulfil the law. The Catholic Tradition has always rejected the gradualness of the natural moral law (10 commandments)“what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations.” (Familiaris Consortio 34) In fact, the natural moral law proceeds from God the Creator, is absolute (without exception), universal (all human beings) and immutable (always valid)(Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1956, 1958)

Amoris Laetitia 295 rejects the “gradualness of the law”. However, the letter of the bishops of Buenos Aires, validated by Pope Francis, accepts this gradualness as it says that “the commitment to live in continence can be proposed” and is an option. This means that it does not underline the absolute and obligatory moral character of the virtue of continence for the remarried divorced. The wording more in line with the Catholic Tradition would be: “the commitment to live in continence must be required, which means that it is a duty. Synonymous expressions could also be used, for example, “obliged”, “obligation”, “need”, “necessary”, etc.

3) There is moral relativism or situation ethics…

When an absolute or obligatory law becomes optional for some people, this is called moral relativism. When this is done according to certain circumstances or situations, we speak of situation ethics. This is the case with the letter of the bishops of Buenos Aires because it presents the virtue of sexual continence as a possibility. Moreover, it states that for some remarried divorced persons this virtue “may not, in fact, be feasible” for the following reasons: “more complex circumstances… a declaration of nullity cannot be obtained… there are limitations that mitigate responsibility and culpability… a person considers that he/she would incur a subsequent fault by harming the children of the new union”.

In reality, this means that the Buenos Aires bishops and Pope Francis do not recognise that adultery and fornication are intrinsically evil actions. As Pope St. John Paul II explained, “reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature “incapable of being ordered” to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed “intrinsically evil” (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances… (they) are always seriously wrong” (Veritatis Splendor 80). All this will necessarily have serious consequences for the future of the Catholic Church.

4) Serious future consequences…

1st consequence: with the remarried divorced (as well as with Catholic fiancés who cohabit sexually, have children and cannot marry quickly for economic, professional or family reasons). Catholic Tradition nudged them towards the good: striving in the virtue of continence has always been a mandatory condition for receiving the sacraments; this encouraged the remarried divorced to give up adultery and fornication, or to live in continence if they had to live together for serious reasons. With “Amoris Laetitia mercy”, the condition no longer exists. The remarried divorced are thus indirectly encouraged to turn away from the virtue of continence. In fact, the better they demonstrate that “the commitment to live in continence” is not “feasible” (i.e. that their passion for sexual practice is strong and habitual), the more help they will receive from the sacraments “to continue maturing and growing with the power of grace”.

2nd consequence: with married people in the Catholic Church. If a person goes through a difficulty that distances him/her from his/her spouse for a while, it will be easier for him/her to give in to the temptation of infidelity and divorce, because he/she knows that this will not prevent him/her from continuing to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist in the future.

3rd consequence: with priests. They will explain to the remarried divorced that “the commitment to live in continence can be proposed” and that they do “not ignore the difficulties of this option”, which “may not, in fact, be feasible”. After such explanations, won’t they themselves find excuses for not living priestly chastity? Especially when we already know that some, unfortunately, excuse themselves by saying that on the day of their ordination to the diaconate they made a promise of celibacy and not of chastity.

4th consequence: in the universal Church. A strange moral casuistry will be born. The Catholic moral Tradition had left to all confessors (young, old, experienced or inexperienced) a clear, simple, objective, effective and rapid criterion for giving absolution to the remarried divorced. They were asked two short questions: Do you have serious reasons for living together? Are you willing to struggle with the means at your disposal to avoid sexual cohabitation? Today, with Amoris Laetitia, in addition to being confessors (which in itself is not an easy task), priests must be perceptive investigators to grasp the complexity of situations, canonists to understand cases of matrimonial nullity, psychologists to study the multiple mitigating circumstances. Is this not too much? Besides, there will be as many cases studied as there are remarried divorcees, and they are not the only faithful that priests have to look after. So, in practice, as the work of discernment takes time and the number of priests available is insufficient, it is obvious that in the long run most priests will take the short cut of giving the sacraments to all remarried divorcees, not safeguarding the obligation to avoid scandal among the married faithful, which will obviously have an effect on the value of the Sacrament of Marriage.

5th consequence: in the sacraments. The architecture of the sacraments is broken. If baptism is the door to all the sacraments (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1213), the Eucharist is the greatest of the sacraments. Indeed, all the sacraments give grace, but only the Eucharist gives the very Author of grace and of the sacraments (cf. Catechism of St. Pius X, Nature of the Sacraments, 30 Q.) This is why the Catholic tradition has always shown great respect for the real presence and majesty of Jesus in the Eucharist. Today, with Amoris Laetitia, mitigating circumstances and the conscience of a nullity (subjective or objective) make it possible to suspend the struggle against improper sexual cohabitation and to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. But if this concession of Amoris Laetitia is to be respected, would it not be more logical to solve the problem at its root by first granting the Sacrament of Marriage to the remarried divorced? In fact, he who can do more can do less. Why should the same mitigating circumstances and conscience that allow one to receive the greatest of sacraments not allow one to receive a lesser sacrament than the Eucharist?

Response to some objections…

1st objection: “In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, ‘it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers'” (Amoris Laetitia, note 329). Answer: “It often happens that man acts with a good intention, but without spiritual gain, because he lacks a good will. Let us say that someone robs in order to feed the poor: in this case, even though the intention is good, the uprightness of the will is lacking. Consequently, no evil done with a good intention can be excused. ‘There are those who say: And why not do evil that good may come? Their condemnation is just.’ (Rom 3:8)” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Opuscula Theologica II, cf. Veritatis Splendor 78) The end does not justify the means.

2nd objection: “the commitment to live in continence… may not, in fact, be feasible” (Letter of the bishops of Buenos Aires 5, 6). Answer: This is not true since remarried divorced people do not live “attached”. There are times in their lives when they are obliged to live in sexual continence, e.g. work, travel, illness, etc. If for ordinary reasons the remarried divorced succeed in living continence, why can they not make this effort for the extraordinary reason of the Sacrament of the Eucharist? Are these ordinary reasons more important than the Eucharist? Moreover, the fact that a commitment is often not realised does not mean that it is always unrealisable. Many Christian testimonies are living proof of this: there are people who have gone from great impurity to great purity; any great sinner can become a great saint, e.g. Mary Magdalene, Dismas the Good Thief, St. Augustine, etc.

3rd objection: “Amoris laetitia offers the possibility of having access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist… These, in turn, prepare the person to continue maturing and growing with the power of grace.” (Letter of the bishops of Buenos Aires 6) Answer: Paradoxically, this openness leads rather to sabotage the fruits of these sacraments for the simple reason already known to theologians: “gratia non tollit naturam, sed perficit; grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it” (Summa Theologica, I, q.1, art.8, ad.2). If someone does not provide the human means to live sexual continence, how can the sacraments easily make this virtue grow in him? This last aspect brings “Amoris Laetitia mercy” closer to Protestant theology in which all primacy is given to the action of grace while the importance of human action is annulled.

What could cardinals and bishops do to help solve the problem?

“If we speak explicitly about Communion for the remarried divorced, you don’t know what a mess they will make us. So let’s not speak about it directly, do it in a way that the premises are there, then I will draw out the conclusions.” Pope Francis said this to Archbishop Bruno Forte, Special Secretary of the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family. This revelation was made by the archbishop himself on May 2, 2016, during a conference to present Amoris Laetitia at the Rossetti Theatre in the city of Vasto. This, then, was the method used by Pope Francis to circumvent the opposition of “traditionalist” bishops to his new “mercy”. Today, the “progressive” cardinals, bishops and priests who have supported “Amoris Laetitia mercy” are numerous: Parolin, Kasper, Schönborn, Coccopalmerio, Vallini, Cupich, Grech, Paglia, Forte, Scicluna, Fenoy, McElroy, Spadaro, Bordeyne, etc.

Despite this, quantity and media power are not criteria of truth. Truth remains truth even if it is defended by a single person without media power. In the Catholic Church, truth is not a question of majority but of fidelity to Jesus Christ, God’s Eternal Truth. Now, there cannot be two truths on the same subject. Therefore, in the presence of the living Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for the good of the Church and of sou

ls, all the cardinals and bishops of the Catholic Church are called, in conscience by the Lord, to answer the following two questions: Where is the truth? Is it on the side of Tradition before Amoris Laetitia or on the side of the new “mercy” inspired by Amoris Laetitia? With John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church seems to have reached the most advanced pastoral frontier in the matter of mercy. Before God, there is certainly a red line that must not be crossed: that of granting the sin of adultery or fornication to the remarried divorced.

Other problems…

Seeing the problem of situational ethics in the pontificate of Pope Francis, I looked into suspicions about the invalidity of his election (suspicions based on the words of a cardinal who, after swearing an oath before God and his brother cardinals, betrayed his own word and the secrecy of the conclave by making confidences to an Argentine journalist). However, these suspicions do not seem to be well-founded. Personally, I have no doubt that Pope Francis was elected to the See of Peter. But I also have no doubt that the current pontificate has opened the doors of the Church wide to situational ethics. We will come back to this in my next open letter. Next? Yes, because there are still other issues related to the same problem… In the meantime, let us continue to pray for Pope Francis and for the Church. May the Immaculate Virgin, solemnly celebrated today, help the remarried divorced in their struggle for the virtue of purity! May St. Mary and St. Joseph obtain peace and unity for the Catholic Church around Jesus Christ, God’s Eternal Truth! Pax Christi Ecclesia…

Your son, Father Jesusmary Missigbètò

Gmail: / Facebook: @fatherjesusmary / Twitter: @fatherjesusmary

(This text was read, approved, and recommended by an eminent theologian — EP)

My Non-Woke “Solidarity Statement”
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 08:00:00 +0000

Mr Deavel explains his response to a demand from his university administration for a statement of solidarity with the 'woke' insanity sweeping academia.

From The Imaginative Conservative

By David Deavel

One of the administrators at my school recently asked faculty to contribute a “solidarity statement.” The email specified what was being sought:

For your statement, we’re asking you to share how you personally will engage in the work of creating an inclusive and equitable campus community that truly values all. What, specifically, will you do in your classroom, in your advising meetings, in your mentorship or research with students, or in other areas of your professional life? Our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, as well as those who identify with other historically marginalized groups, need to know they have allies at St. Thomas who will actively stand and act in solidarity with them. And as teachers, we have the wonderful opportunity to not only serve as allies for some but to educate all.

You may have heard of this through Rod Dreher’s blog at The American Conservative. Some colleague of mine leaked this to Mr. Dreher. I didn’t do it, nor do I know who did. But I fully approve of the leaking. As Mr. Dreher notes, this is the “woke version of a loyalty oath.” As he quotes my leaker colleague, this is “a clear violation of academic freedom,” putting untenured faculty in the position of either saying nothing and thus endangering the possibility of tenure (silence is violence, don’t you know?) or penning “some b.s. made up stuff and violat[ing] your conscience.” Would a statement that simply affirms the dignity of all human beings fit the request? Would a statement that supports positions contrary to Catholic teaching on sexual morality be acceptable as part of this project at a Catholic school? Would a statement that affirms Catholic teaching on sexual morality be deemed to show solidarity? Some colleagues wrote a joint letter asking that the project be shut down. Another colleague asked whether this was a requirement, and the answer was given that it is fully optional. Of course, it wasn’t shut down and these statements now are available on the interior-facing website. I read through a number of them. Some are fully woke statements, beginning with statements of identity such as “As a cisgender white male” before committing to looking at everything through a progressive political lens, always considering one’s own sinfulness in light of it, and acting on some specified course of action such as asking for “all-gender restrooms.” Others are rather formulaic and generic recitations of some of the phrases of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion hymnal. Still others are rather clever statements that fully comport with a Christian viewpoint and focus on the Jewish and Christian teaching about the image of God, the good of liberal education to help us understand each other, or pick out some element of the faculty member’s research or teaching that is getting at racial or sexual biases without committing the professor to the progressive worldview that animates the DEI office and much of the university administration. In short, they don’t sink to the level of “some b.s.” I applaud these colleagues for keeping their integrity, but I think the difficulty is that actual concrete speech on my campus as on many others keeps getting pushed away. One can get away with saying something general if it strays from the DEI-orthodoxy in these statements but rarely something particular.

I did not write a solidarity statement for the university at the time, but I’ve been thinking about what it might involve, as a believing Catholic Christian and political conservative, to write a real statement that is not limited to generalities. So here is my attempt. It represents my views alone.

First, for all students of any and every description.

  • I vow to treat you all with the dignity that is yours because you are made in the image of God, with free will, a rational mind, and an end that has been given by God himself. That end is to know, love, and serve God, so as to live as happily as you can in this life and in the fullest happiness forever with God.
  • Though we were made with these capacities and this destiny, the human situation is that we are a fallen race. Because of a catastrophe at the beginning of human history, in which humans rejected that call to follow God, we are all sinners. We sometimes refuse to God’s will for our lives, even when it is blazingly obvious that accepting it will make us happy. I will keep in mind that you—like me—are morally and spiritually frail and can make decisions that are wrong or even morally bad. I will not cancel you because God does not do so.
  • Instead of canceling humanity, God’s solution was to become one with all of us, uniting himself to human nature in the person of Jesus Christ, who followed God perfectly even to the point of death at the hands of the most powerful government in the world. Because of that perfect obedience, he rose again from the dead in his human body, ascended into heaven, and then sent his Holy Spirit to his Church. Every human being’s end can be achieved through being united to Jesus Christ and his Church. You may or may not be Catholic, but you have chosen to attend a Catholic university. I will do my best not merely to teach you about particular subjects, but about how to view the world through the lens of this wonderful belief that God not only created you in his image but came to make that tarnished image shine again and fill it with his life.
  • I will do my best not only to make you feel valued, but to know your value.

Second, for BIPOC students (Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color), I’d like to say first what I will not do in my solidarity.

  • First, apart from this little statement I will never think of you or talk about you as “BIPOC,” which seems to lump everybody into a category on the basis of whether you think of yourself or are categorized as “white.”
  • Because this category is completely arbitrary and does not take into account your own very diverse experiences and understandings from your own particular communities, nor your deepest held beliefs, I will not assume all or even most “BIPOC” people think alike on issues of politics, policy, and the deepest things.
  • Nor will I ever tell you, as so many do these days, that “you’re not black” or that “you are brown people speaking with a white voice,” or any of the other political pressure statements designed to keep people in a particular political stable by threatening them with excommunication from some ethnic or racial group.
  • I will not think of you as victims nor encourage you to think of yourselves as victims. You live in a great country in which, though white racism still exists (and will always exist, just as envy, hatred, lust, resentment, and every other sinful thought and attitude will exist until Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead), it is rare on the ground. You have endless opportunities in this great country of ours, and there are both countless individuals and institutional measures designed to help people of all backgrounds.
  • I will not grade you differently from white students. You have the same dignity, the same great possibilities, and the same need for critical and constructive feedback as white students. To expect less of you has been called “the soft bigotry of low expectations” and it is wrong.

What will I do?

  • I will hold you to the same standards as everybody else, knowing that you can handle the truth about your work and you can improve it with solid effort and the help available to you.
  • To that end, I will engage you as I do every other student, offering you the same opportunities to get extra help by meeting me in my office, getting feedback on your work—including comments on drafts of papers—and helping you in thinking through the issues you are learning about in my class, other classes, or even just in life.
  • I will talk to you in the same way in class and out as I do every other student. Academically, this means that I will help you hone your ideas and challenge you. In class, I will occasionally banter with you, make jokes about you and your verbal mistakes that are funny, and in general make you feel as though you belong as I do every other student regardless of race.
  • When I say I will talk to you the same way, that also means I will not talk down to you. This is your bonus for choosing a political conservative as a professor. As social psychologists discovered several years ago, white liberals tend to use a “competence downshift”—also known as dumbing down their language—to many minorities, especially black people, whereas “if you’re a white conservative, your diction won’t depend on the presumed race of your interlocutor.”[i]
  • That further means I may express disagreement with your views, even on tough issues that sometimes have race as an element. I don’t believe in a great deal of what is said about racial issues from a progressive perspective, and you might not either. A college classroom is the place to hash out arguments in search of the truth. When many people in academic and public life say they want an “open and honest discussion” about issues, they really just want to hear their own views affirmed. We may agree on some issues and disagree on others—just as happens when everybody’s from the exact same racial, ethnic, or cultural background!—but we can argue about the merits of the positions and seek the truth together.
  • I will also work to oppose the very existence of the DEI office, which I do not believe actually helps students of color all that much, though it provides cushy jobs to people in higher education and further politicizes campuses.[ii]

Now, for the students identifying as “LGBTQIA+.”

  • For all of you, I will treat you with all the respect that is due to you as human beings and will treat you with the same respect indicated above. That means speaking honestly to you. If I get to know you in class or out and the subject comes up, I will encourage you not to locate your true identity in either your sexual desires or a perceived “gender” that is separate from your biological sex. I will encourage you to locate your true identity first and foremost as a child of God, made in his image and called to eternal life with him. Other aspects of you such as your desires and your ideas might be important to know in learning how to teach you or help you in various ways, but they are not who you are.
  • I accept the fact that one can love people of the same sex or love multiple people at the same time, but I will not give you approval for sexual behavior with these people any more than I will give approval for people who love someone married to someone else or even those who love somebody but are not married to that to person to engage in sexual behavior. I’m not going to probe into anybody’s personal affairs nor will I find the need to comment on them, but if I am asked to affirm such behavior, I cannot do so. I believe that “love is love” indeed, but not that any kind of love justifies sexual behavior—precisely because not every form of sexual behavior can help one in reaching that end in God I identified above.
  • I am happy to call you whatever you say your name or nickname is, but I will not use pronouns of you that are different from your biological sex and instead represent what you consider your gender. I will not go out of my way to use what I think your correct pronouns are, but I will not use other pronouns. Some people think this is hatred, saying that to do so means “denying your existence.” I do believe you exist, and I also believe that you were fearfully and wonderfully made by God either as a male or a female. Gender identity is a sense of one’s identity as either male or female. That sense might be wrong if it doesn’t match with your biology. I believe that it is accepting that gift and call of your nature that will ultimately bring you happiness. I stand in solidarity with you as a person and thus will not affirm anything that is untrue about you because I believe that such falsehoods will hurt you.
  • Similarly, if called upon to explain my positions to you, I will do so with care and love. If called upon to tell a friend the truth, it is wrong not to do so even if it upsets the friend.
  • I will work to protect you from unjust discrimination and hatred. That includes anybody who calls you vile names or refuses to serve you in getting the necessities of life. I will even help you get the use of a single-stall restroom if you feel uncomfortable using the restroom of your own sex. I cannot, however, support measures that allow you to use the restroom or locker room of the opposite sex. I believe that women and men deserve privacy from the other sex in these settings. I also cannot support measures that allow biological men to participate in sports against biological women. It is unfair to allow men, who enjoy a number of biological advantages in strength and speed, to compete with women.

A final word to each and every student.

  • I think the very idea that we ought to compose “solidarity statement” to individual groups is a bad idea because it seems to assume that you should mistrust people and assume the worst in them—that they discriminate against you on the basis of race or that they hate you because they disagree with you. I began by noting that my solidarity is with every person. I mean that. And I promise never to write another solidarity statement again. If you agree with me on this point, I ask that you stand in solidarity against such initiatives.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

[i] Isaac Stanley-Becker, “White liberals dumb themselves down when they speak to black people, a new study contends,” Washington Post, November 30, 2018. The article quotes one of the researchers as saying that this difference is due to the fact that “we know empirically that white conservatives are less likely to be interested in getting along with racial minorities,” making it sound as though conservatives are somehow hostile to minorities. But you should understand what this really means: conservatives are not interested in getting along with anybody on the basis of race. We’re interested in what you think, believe, and do.

[ii] A new study by the Heritage Foundation—a conservative think tank, to be sure—looks at the introduction of such diversity officers at the K-12 level and discovers that though they do a lot of political activism, their work does not close any racial achievement gaps. In fact, they sometimes exacerbate them. I’ll bet the same would be true at the university level. See Equity Elementary: “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” Staff in Public Schools.

Even If Roe Ends We Still Have a Culture of Death
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 07:00:00 +0000

This is exactly the point I was trying to make in my post on why reversing Roe would make little difference. It is the culture we have to convert!

From Catholic Stand

By Rob Marco

In the 1992 movie Singles, urban planner Campbell Scott is having a passionate conversation about the future of transportation with Kyra Sedgwick in his apartment. His dream is to transform Seattle with his idea for a “Supertrain”:

Scott: “Let me ask you a question. You think about traffic? Because I do, constantly. Traffic is caused by the single car driver. Single people get in their cars every morning. They drive and wonder why there’s gridlock. 

“This is what I’ve been working on. If you had a Supertrain…you give people a reason to get out of their cars. Coffee, great music…they will park and ride. I know they will.”

Sedwick: “But I still love my car, though.”

Scott: “Well… Oh.”

There’s another, similar, scene in the movie where Scott has a sit-down with the mayor of Seattle. He gives the same pitch and receives the same response: People love their cars. He gets flummoxed, his pitch-window closing quickly.

It’s as if he couldn’t believe that people would hold such an illogical view (driving a car) in the face of all the seemingly “obvious” advantages of public transportation.

The Pro-Life Analogy

I’ve thought about that scene a lot over the years, and more recently, in light of the work of those involved in the pro-life movement. I’m sure those working tirelessly to support pregnant mothers, found crisis pregnancy centers, change legislation, and provide alternatives to abortion have found themselves at times feeling like their pitch to choose life hits a wall similar to that of the transportation planner in the film. And the wall is this:

People choose abortion because they want abortion.

Despite Natural Family Planning being healthy, natural, effective, and virtually free, less than 2% of the U.S. population practices it.  The “inconvenience” of unwanted pregnancies in most people’s minds far outweighs any potential advantages this system of regulation of births promises. It’s a tough pitch to skeptics because it requires a metanoia of mind and heart – in how we think of children, the Natural Law, and the means and ends of human sexuality, and the nature of personal sacrifice.

Abortion as Birth Control

I bring up NFP because, for many people, abortion has served as a kind of backup birth control in today’s culture. Abortion-as-contraception doesn’t prevent pregnancy, obviously; it prevents the live birth of a child.

I understand that not all those who abort their children do so willingly: some are coerced by family members or boyfriends, even if they would in fact want the child. Yet many, perhaps the majority, choose abortion freely as the most convenient, lowest-cost, least intrusive way to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.

That is, even when they have the option to give up their child for adoption, or receive help in raising it, they still choose abortion because, well, they just want it.

I also get hot under the collar when I think of all those couples who do want children but can’t conceive and are open to adoption. Is it a question of supply and demand that creates huge financial and bureaucratic barriers to doing so? Even when a couple would be willing pay for everything and beg and plead with an abortion-vulnerable woman to have the child, it is rare that the woman decides to offer the child for adoption. She may not want to carry to term or want people know she is pregnant.

Abortion is convenient, easy. It makes the “problem” go away.

The Double Death

Abortion ushers in not only the death of a child but the death of the soul. Abortion is physically and psychologically unhealthy. It deforms cultures and warps consciences.

Yet, when contrasted with the vocation to parenting – namely, the sacrifices called for, the commitment and potential difficulties – is it any wonder abortion is chosen as the “path of least resistance,” the most convenient option? That doesn’t make it good (an evil that can never be justified).

Why Are We Surprised

But, then again, why are we surprised when people of a wicked generation choose what is wicked, even when presented with life-giving and live-saving alternatives? Why are we surprised that abortion grows in a culture where 98% of people actively work to prevent pregnancy in their relationships through contraception, and when that fails, always have abortion as a “backup?”

Maybe it’s not a fair analogy, but sometimes I believe the pro-life message is like that Supertrain pitch to try to get people out of their cars. Public transportation is a good thing in a lot of ways; it’s efficient, it makes sense. And yet, people love their cars. They won’t easily part with them.

In other words, even if Roe is eventually overturned, we still have to deal with our rampant culture of death and the fact that people want abortion as a component of their lifestyle.

Prayer for Conversion

I hope I’m wrong. I wish we would have a mass-conversion away from the scourge of abortion-on-demand and a transformation to a culture of life. I don’t know if this is the ethos of organizations like Live Action and others, but I have nothing but the utmost respect for those fighting in the trenches day after day, proposing alternatives and doing the good work. They are up against a lot.

But people want abortion because their ways are evil. Try to take it away and see what happens. We will not be delivered as a generation, but by grace.

I have to think that the words of St. Peter are a sober reminder: “And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:18).

We must pray for the conversion of hearts regarding the killing of the innocent. God wiped out humanity with a flood because of their wickedness. His patience will not last forever (Romans 9:22-24).

Soldier of Monarchy: Field Marshal Lennart Torstensson
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 06:30:00 +0000

A look at one of the greatest artillerymen of history.

From The Mad Monarchist (26 August 2013)

From the French Revolutionary Wars to both World Wars, the one land-based weapon that did more damage than any other was artillery. Atheist dictator Joseph Stalin called it the god of modern war. Frederick the Great of Prussia said it was the most respectable argument for the rights of kings. The French Emperor Napoleon was of the opinion that all the best generals were artillerymen as he himself had been. Before all of them though was the “father of field artillery”; the Swedish general Lennart Torstensson. Not only was he one of the great military leaders of his time, serving under one of the greatest warrior monarchs Sweden has ever produced, Marshal Torstensson has proven to be one of the most influential military commanders in history because of his innovations in the field of artillery in particular. Outside of that domain alone he also proved himself an overall great general and played a key role in the rise of the Kingdom of Sweden as a major power in Europe with a number of key victories in the Thirty Years War.

Lennart Torstensson was the son of an army officer, born on August 17, 1603 in Torstena, Västergötland. At the age of fifteen he gained the position of a page to the great King Gustavus Adolphus. From 1621 to 1623 he accompanied his king in the campaigns in Livonia on the other side of the Baltic and it was King Gustavus Adolphus who first impressed upon him at an early age the importance of artillery on the battlefield. He learned even more when he was subsequently sent to study at the Holland Military School under another of the great captains of history, the Dutch Prince Maurits van Nassau. When he returned to Sweden he fought for three years in the campaigns against Prussia, seeing action in such engagements as the battle of Wallhof in 1626. The King was greatly impressed by his skill and promoted him to colonel at the age of 26, giving him command of the first artillery regiment in military history. He wasted no time in proving himself worthy of such a position and by the following year he had earned promotion to general and his title of the “father of field artillery”.

Torstensson basically took the innovations of the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus and the Dutch Prince Maurits van Nassau concerning artillery, refined them and built upon them to increase the mobility of the artillery. His fame as the “father of field artillery” comes from the fact that, before his time, artillery tended to be seen mostly as a weapon of static, siege warfare. Torstensson made it something more mobile that would be capable of supporting the infantry and cavalry on the battlefield. Previously, the only light cannon had been rather dangerous guns with a copper core wrapped in leather. Torstensson came up with a new cast-iron cannon that was powerful enough to be a major force on the battlefield but which could still be moved by as few as four men or two horses. He also led the way in getting away from cannon balls to more advanced artillery “shells” which combined powder and shot inside a wooden container. He also worked out a drill routine that so increased the efficiency of the Swedish artillerymen that they were able to load and fire their cannon faster than the infantry could load and fire their muskets. On September 17, 1631 at the battle of Breitenfeld his innovations were put to the test and Torstensson was fully vindicated. His guns fired at three times the rate of the Catholic forces opposing them and accompanied the infantry and cavalry to help secure a decisive Swedish victory.

Where they had Torstensson and his guns to back them up, the Swedish forces prevailed but artillery was not always the only determining factor, nor could it always be used to full effect. In an attack on Alte Veste in the summer of 1632 Torstensson had to leave his guns and fought beside his King in a brave but doomed assault. In the end, the Swedes were defeated and Torstensson was taken prisoner. By the time he was exchanged a year later the great King Gustavus Adolphus was dead but Torstensson resumed command of the artillery under Johan Banér who had taken charge of the Swedish army after the death of the King. Again he played a key role in the Swedish victory at the battle of Wittstock in 1636. By 1641 the strength of the Swedish forces was almost exhausted and Torstensson was hardly in the best shape of his life, nonetheless, when Banér died he was chosen to take command of the Swedish army. In a remarkable turnaround, Torstensson restored the morale and discipline of the army and with new fighting spirit he led the Swedish forces to another great victory at the battle of Leipzig. By 1642 the Swedes dominated the whole of Saxony.

Pressing on after this victory, Torstensson and his Swedish army marched into Bohemia and Moravia. He turned away to pursue a threatening Danish army and defeated a Bavarian army to sent to the aid of the Danes. The battle of Jankau in 1645 was his last great victory, won over the Bavarians, after which the great general was obliged to resign because of his worsening health and return home to Sweden. He held a few political posts before his death in Stockholm on April 7, 1651 at the age of only 47. Were it not for the great and influential victories of King Gustavus Adolphus himself, Marshal Torstensson would probably be remembered as the greatest Swedish military mind of his age. Nonetheless, alongside the great king, he was responsible for securing the victories that made Sweden a major military power, he was a competent and successful battlefield commander and as an innovator his influence on artillery has been immense in military history, putting artillery for the first time on an equal footing with the infantry and cavalry as one of the indispensable tools of modern warfare.

7 December, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day
Tue, 07 Dec 2021 06:07:00 +0000

True Wisdom

1. Cicero aptly defined wisdom as that knowledge of the human and of the divine which gives birth to the resolution to imitate the divine and to subordinate all human considerations to the practice of virtue. (Cicero, Tusc., IV, 26)

According to Christian teaching both knowledge and wisdom, properly understood, are gifts of the Holy Spirit. Only the light and grace of the Holy Spirit can enable us to comprehend the truth, which in its plenitude is God Himself, and to appreciate the vanity of human things as long as they are not ordained to their final end, which is God and the everlasting life of happiness.

St. Thomas holds that human and earthly things are the proper object of science, in so far, however, as they ought to be directed towards God. "The man who has a correct approach to science regards creatures as ordained to God, does not value them for more than they are worth, and does not permit them to constitute the purpose of his life." (S. Th., II-II, q.9, a. 4) "All creatures are ordained to God and to His glory," he writes elsewhere, "in that they manifest the divine goodness in themselves; they are, moreover, the means to everlasting happiness." (Q. Q., d.d., De Caritate, q. 1, a. 7)

Nature may be said to be a sacrament which enables us to gain experience of God. (S. Th., III, q. 60, a. 2 ad 1) This is how knowledge becomes wisdom, which is not content merely to have a proper estimation of human objects, but proceeds to penetrate with the assistance of Revelation and of grace into the transcendent mysteries of the Divinity. Wisdom, moreover, guides the will and the heart as well as the intellect. It is practical as well as speculative, for it directs our actions as well as our thoughts towards God. Like the Saints, we should be guided entirely by this true intellectual and practical wisdom. "Grant me, O Lord, celestial wisdom," we should pray with the author of ‘The Imitation of Christ,’ "that I may learn above all things to seek Thee and to find Thee; above all things to relish Thee and to love Thee, and to understand all other things as they are, according to the order of Thy wisdom." (Bk. III, c.27)

2. Today, unfortunately, there is too much store set on material science considered in itself and apart from God. Many people do not regard earthly things as steps which enable them to climb towards God, but as objects desirable in themselves which possess the power to satisfy them both intellectually and sensibly. In fact, they fail to appease their vanity for very long and, if they become attached to them, lead them towards spiritual ruin.

A century ago the French writer, De Maistre, prophesied incalculable evil if men did not return to the ancient values and subordinate knowledge to goodness once more. Because of science, he said, men would become more barbarous than the barbarians. His words have come true in the past few decades. Unbridled science has brought us two world wars and the atom bomb which is now threatening to perpetrate the final destruction of the human race.

3. Let us seek to avert catastrophe in our own individual lives at least. Knowledge is desirable, but only after goodness and humility. Let us remember the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: “All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. (1 Cor. 3:22-23)