Monday, April 30, 2012

Places


The Telegraph featured a list of some of the world's most impressive and beautiful architectural achievements. Some of my favorites made the list: Hagia Sophia, Saint Mark's Square, the Pantheon and the Taj Mahal.

The Sacrament of Peace


Here's an excellent article by the late Father John A. Hardon S.J. on the importance of the Sacrament of Penance. It's a classic example of Father Hardon's ability to be succinct and thorough when explaining an aspect of the faith.

Liberal Rage at...Obama

For once, Arianna Huffington is right. From Politico:
Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington said Monday that making a campaign ad about the killing of Osama bin Laden, as President Barack Obama has done, “is one of the most despicable things you can do.”

“I think it’s one thing to celebrate the fact that they did such a great job. It’s one thing to have an NBC special from the Situation Room,” the media mogul said on “CBS This Morning.” “All that, to me, is perfectly legitimate. But to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.”

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spanish Catholicism

It's cold and raining in Milwaukee, so I thought I'd share a couple of inspirational photos I came across of the raredos at the basilica of El Escorial in Spain. Thank you, Philip II.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Implications

A baby in the womb was shot, and survived. She has a unique appreciation for life. You can see where this is going...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Georgetown Preps for Ryan

It just keeps getting more interesting for the indefatigable Paul Ryan, doesn't it? A liberal cabal from Georgetown University, that bastion of Catholic fidelity, moral clarity and, oh yes, Sandra Flukedom, has unleashed an embarrassing assault on Paul Ryan's budget plan, and all in the name of authentic Catholic social teaching. Seriously, I'm not kidding. From Fox News:
GOP Rep. Paul Ryan is heading to Georgetown University for a speech Thursday morning, but not before an old-fashioned, Catholic school knuckle-rapping.

A group of nearly 90 professors and administrators connected to the Jesuit-founded school in Washington, D.C., has sent Ryan, R-Wis., a letter saying he’s misused Catholic doctrine to support his deficit-reducing, GOP House budget.

“We appreciate your willingness to talk about how Catholic social teaching can help inform effective policy in dealing with the urgent challenges facing our country,” the letter states. “However, we would be remiss … if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.”

Ah yes, the ole 'tax breaks for the wealthiest few' plaint again, eh? These folks really need to cobble together a new script from which to cull their astonishingly inaccurate talking points. At least you could then give them a scintilla of credit for being original. I guess having a 100% pro-life voting record doesn't really pass muster with these seamless garment groupies. Sadly, Ryan must now deal with arrows being fired not only from all the president's men, but also from the angry, increasingly irrelevant and, I think deeply jealous forces of 1960s-era liberal Catholicism. The sun is setting on this bunch.

More on this subject here.

Paul Ryan responds to critics



An excerpt from an outstanding article by Paul Ryan, which he wrote for the National Catholic Register:
As a congressman and Catholic layman, I am persuaded that Catholic social truths are in accord with the “self-evident truths” our Founders bequeathed to us in the founding ideas of America: independence, limited government and the dignity and freedom of every human person. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, I am tasked with applying these enduring principles to the urgent social problems of our time: an economy that is not providing enough opportunities for our citizens, a safety net that is failing our most vulnerable populations, and a crushing burden of debt that is threatening our children and grandchildren with a diminished future. ...

Our budget has been criticized for giving tax cuts to the wealthy at the expense of the poor. It does no such thing. Instead of taking more and more from the paychecks of working Americans, the House budget proposes a comprehensive reform of the tax code to make it fair, simple and competitive. We would lower rates for everyone across the board. But revenue would still rise every year under our budget because our economy grows and because our budget proposes to eliminate special-interest loopholes that go primarily to the influential and well-off. Washington should not micromanage people’s decisions through the tax code. Basic economics and basic morality both tell us that people have a right to keep and decide how to spend their hard-earned dollars. ...
QED

This is more serious than anything that comes out of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Someone should send this to Bishop Stephen Blaire. Clearly, Paul Ryan cares deeply about his faith and how it squares with his public life. As George Weigel recently put it,
Ryan is the dissenting Catholic’s worst nightmare, and his demonization from that quarter has just begun. Ryan is a big boy, though, and he’ll fight his corner well. That argument might even lead to some consensus about empowerment-based anti-poverty strategies and fiscally responsible social-welfare policies among serious Catholics of both political parties.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

8 Years

Day 1

From the Associated Press:
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI began his eighth year as pope on Tuesday after spending the waning days of his seventh driving home his view of the Catholic Church, with a divisive crackdown on dissenters and an equally divisive opening to a fringe group of traditionalists.

The coming year will likely see more of the same as the Vatican gears up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 church meetings that reshaped the Catholic Church and are key to understanding this papacy and Benedict's recent moves to stamp out liberal dissent and promote a more conservative brand of Catholicism. ...

"driving home his view of the Catholic Church..." It always brings a wry smile to the face to read how these folks report news on the Church, but at least they tapped one good source for the story:
"Benedict understands his mission as custodian of the faith," said the Rev. Robert Gahl, an Opus Dei priest and professor of moral theology at Rome's Pontifical Holy Cross University. "The pope has little interest in opinion polling and focus groups. He is not going to adjust the doctrine according to popular opinion or majority belief. Benedict's aim is to unite the church around the faith handed down by Jesus, the church's founder."

Pure Wisconsin


Aaron Rogers and Ryan Braun have some fun.

Saint Rita Meets Baseball


From the National Catholic Register:
The way Willie Bloomquist sees it, he’s living an impossible dream. Of all the players who try to make it to the major leagues, only a relative few actually get there.

Bloomquist is one of those few, but he doesn’t attribute this to his own skills.

The 34-year-old Port Orchard, Wash., native says he’s not as talented as some other players who never made it to the majors. Why, then, is he there?

In part because of the intercession of St. Rita of Cascia, he says. After hitting a low point in the minor leagues, he began to ask for her prayers, and he made it through the often slow grind.

This is a great interview. Bloomquist goes on to discuss the central role the Catholic Faith has in his life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kneecapping a Faithful Catholic

One expects Barack Obama to aim his fire at Paul Ryan's responsible budget plan. One would expect the same from the media and a host of other liberal redoubts. Shocking is the best word I can think of to explain the Obama-esque critique of Paul Ryan (a staunchly pro-life and decent Catholic) that came from Bishop Stephen Blaire.

Thankfully, Marc A. Thiessen took up his pen to write an excellent defense of Ryan, which appeared in The Washington Post:
Using Obama’s campaign rhetoric, Bishop Stephen Blaire, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, recently wrote to Congress declaring that Ryan’s budget “fails to meet [the Church’s] moral criteria” because it does not require “shared sacrifice,” which Blaire [like Obama] defines as tax increases and cuts to “unnecessary” defense spending. Some of the proposed spending cuts in Ryan’s budget, Blaire said, are “unjust and wrong.”

Blaire has it backward. What is “unjust and wrong” is this bishop’s attack on a good Catholic layman. ...

This is astounding. One wonders if Bishop Blaire actually read Ryan's budget, or if he just accepted Obama's clichéd, demagogic attacks at face value. It's truly a shame that a bishop, relying on hackneyed talking points culled straight from the playbook of the left, would try to pick a fight with Ryan. Did Bishop Blaire bother to call Paul Ryan to ask him to clarify this or that point in his budget? Has Bishop Blaire released a statement calling out Nancy Pelosi? Further, statements like this are deeply damaging, as they feed the false impression, so rampant among Catholics in the U.S., that "social justice" issues are just as important as the non-negotiables, like abortion, the defense of marriage, etc.

The culture of death is at the gates. Some may argue with good reason that it has already kicked open the doors. So instead of handing liberal Democrats ammunition, every bishop in the U.S. should write to Paul Ryan and thank him for his perfect pro-life, conservative voting record.

Newman on the Perils of Sin


Now, sinners have no spiritual senses; they can presage nothing; they do not know what is going to happen the next moment to them. So they go fearlessly further and further among precipices, till on a sudden they fall, or are smitten and perish. Miserable beings! and this is what sin does for immortal souls; that they should be like the cattle which are slaughtered at the shambles, yet touch and smell the very weapons which are to destroy them! ~Blessed John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Holy Land

A short video on Taybeh, formerly the city of Ephraim. It is the last all-Christian village in the Holy Land.

Pure Socialism

An excerpt from a well-written piece by Daniel Hannan, appearing in the Telegraph:
There was never any doubt that a socialist would win the first round of the French election. This is because, with one partial exception, all ten candidates favoured socialist policies. Sarkozy fought the election promising to make France 'stronger than the markets'. François Hollande wanted a top rate tax of 75 per cent and a massive expansion of the state payroll. Marine Le Pen ditched her father's anti-scrounger rhetoric and ran on a platform which, on economics, was well to the Left of Sarko's.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Unearthed


An amazing story from the Daily Mail:
For something like seven centuries he had lain undisturbed.

He – or at least his remains – survived Henry VIII’s destruction of his abbey in 1537, eluded the grave-robbers that followed, and avoided discovery by Victorian archaeologists.

Even deep excavations and the underpinning of the crumbling building in the 1930s failed to unearth him.

But the abbot who headed Britain’s second richest and most powerful Cistercian monastery may soon be unmasked ...

Thinning of the Ranks

The Rev Donald Minchew

From the Telegraph:
Members of the congregation at St Michael and All Angels parish church in Croydon, south London, don’t ask for much. A decent sermon, perhaps a few rousing hymns; clean pews; a tidy garden at the back; someone to help with Sunday school. But this month, they need something rather more important: a new vicar, to replace the one who converted to Catholicism and took 69 of his flock with him to a church up the road.

A “Parish priest: vacant” sign now stands outside the towering red-brick church behind West Croydon train station. Seven weeks ago, it housed 100 parishioners and a vicar who had served there for 16 years. Today, St Michael’s has less than half its original congregation, after the Rev Donald Minchew quit his post and was received into the Catholic faith at St Mary’s, 500 yards away.

and then, the devastating clincher:
The Rev Minchew’s reasons for leaving St Michael’s were rooted in his doubts about the Anglican faith. “In the Church of England, you don’t know what the Church believes from one synod to the next,” he said. “I think there is great comfort in the Catholic church: you know what you believe and what the Church teaches.”

Read more about this story here:
The Rev Donald Minchew left his Anglican church of nearly two decades to join a Catholic church just up the road in Croydon, south London.

The 63-year-old quit six weeks ago because he disagreed with decisions being made by the Church of England, including the ordination of female priests and bishops.

But after he resigned from St Michael's and All Angels parish following 16 and-a-half-years, 70 of his flock decided to join him in an extraordinary leap of faith.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Churlish President

From The Ticket:
A day after President Barack Obama declared, "I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth," a not-so-subtle swipe at Mitt Romney's wealth, the former Massachusetts governor responded by accusing the president of "attacking people" instead of "attacking problems." ...

"I know the president likes to attack fellow Americans. He's always looking for a scapegoat, particularly those (who) have been successful like my dad," Romney said. "I'm not going to rise to that. This is a time for us to solve problems. This is not a time for us to be attacking people, we should be attacking problems."

This is an excellent reply from Romney, who demonstrated a lot of class by not descending into a tit for tat. When I read the president's comment, I couldn't help thinking how unbecoming, un-presidential and childish he came across. It's just not something that a mature adult who is supposed to be a leader should say. It's divisive and surly, far more worthy of Maureen Dowd than an American president.

And it's fair to ask, what is the president's implication? It places those who've worked hard and who are successful on the defensive, painting them as suspect and rarefied. What a great way to inspire economic renewal in America!

The New Counter-Reformation


More on the crackdown on America's run amok liberal nuns. From the AFP:
The Vatican has issued a scathing condemnation of the main association of Catholic nuns in the United States for taking liberal stances on contraception, homosexuality and female priests.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) said in a statement on Thursday it was "stunned" by the Vatican report which pointed to "serious doctrinal problems" and "unacceptable positions" on a range of issues.

It accused members of LCWR, which represents around 45,000 US nuns, or 80 percent of the total, of "corporate dissent" with the Church's teachings against homosexuality and said it was pursuing "radical feminist themes".

This overhaul will bear much good fruit. Not to see this as a serious problem would require herculean skills in denial and delusion. Let's hope and pray for robust action and not merely bland talking points. This move, coupled with the fact that it is the conspicuously joyful, traditional and faithful religious orders that are actually growing by leaps and bounds, while the orders teeming with liberal dissidents and radical feminists are simply getting older, angrier, and are well on the road to extinction.

Time heals all.

Crusader Controversy


From MSNBC:
A recent decision by the Marine Corps to reinstate "Crusaders" as the name of its Fighter Attack Squadron 122 — replacing "Werewolves" — and adopting the red cross of the medieval Knights Templar was blasted as unconstitutional and willfully ignorant by a civil rights group Wednesday. ...

VMFA-122 based out of Beaufort, S.C., used the Crusaders symbol from 1958 up to 2008, when Lt. Col. William Lieblein pointed out that imagery invoking the Christian conquest and colonization of Muslims during the Middle Ages was counterproductive to U.S. soldiers based across the Arab and Islamic world. ...

Lt. Cmdr. Wade Weigel, who currently heads the squadron, said he did not think the historic nickname was problematic, according to a report in the Beaufort Gazette on Monday.

"It's a way for our Marines to draw on the service of the Marines before them, and to make their own history under the same name," Weigel told the paper. "As the squadron prepared to celebrate its (70th anniversary), my intent was to return the squadron to the Crusader name since 50 of the squadron's 70 years were under that name. The name change is a reflection of our heritage."

"invoking the Christian conquest and colonization of Muslims..." Revisionist history at its best. What were those lands before the arrival of Islam's armies? Christian. Who really did the conquering and colonizing?

To get an excellent and accurate account of the history of Islam's war against the West, read Roger Crowley's outstanding books, 1453: The Holy War For Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West and Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World.

My advice to those complaining: Deal with it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Quote to Live By

"The highest, the noblest, and most durable pleasure, is that of doing well, and acting the part that becomes us; and the most bitter and painful sentiment, the anguish and remorse of a guilty conscience."

-Sir Thomas Reid

Corrective Measure

Are liberal American nuns facing a day of reckoning? From the Associated Press:
The Vatican's orthodoxy watchdog announced Wednesday a full-scale overhaul of a group representing most U.S. nuns and named an American archbishop to oversee the reform.

The Vatican agency cited the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the largest umbrella group for Roman Catholic religious sisters in the United States, for using materials that "do not promote church teaching" on family life and sexuality, for sometimes taking positions in opposition to the nation's bishops and for being "silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States." ...

Conservative Catholics, however, have long complained that the majority of sisters in the U.S. have grown too liberal and flout church teaching.

You don't need lightning to strike you to see that this is a major problem in the U.S. Action is long overdue.

The Divide


Is Henry VIII's experiment finally on its last legs? From Vatican Insider:
It is now more like erosion than an exodus. Dozens of pastors and hundreds of believers are leaving the Anglican Church every month and with the introduction of the female episcopate in July, it seems likely that more and more will escape. The phenomenon of Anglican clergymen and believers returning to Rome is noting a continuous increase as a result of an agreement reached with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which allows the clergy to be re-ordained as Catholic priests. This unstoppable trend is one of the reasons that induced Archbishop Rowan Williams to resign.

According to some surveys, practically half of the flock of the Church of England is favourable to a reunion with their “separated Catholic siblings”. And the “contagion” is extending from the Anglicans to the Lutherans.

Pride and Humility

Gustave Doré's illustration for Milton's Paradise Lost

What makes pride so evil and humility so noble? Drawing on Dante, Aquinas and Anselm, Anthony Esolen addresses the question in an excellent piece, appearing in Crisis Magazine. Here's an excerpt, but it's well-worth reading in its entirety.
Pride makes a great show of strutting upon the face of the earth, glorying in its palaces and its power, but beneath all the blare and the garish pomp there lies, as it were, a shrunken thing, a cringing little emperor, afraid of the dark – afraid of the vast waters of love. By contrast, humility is the most realistic of virtues. I am a creature; well then, I acknowledge that I am a creature. I cannot attain blessedness on my own; cannot, on my own, even make this world into a decent wayside station, let alone heaven. Well then, I acknowledge what history and my own eyes will teach me. I am a sinner; I survey the moonscape of my life and see it pitted with self-regard, stupidity, and spite. Well then, I bend the neck and confess the sins. In humility, literally, we bow down to the humus or the soil beneath us, and cry out, with the repentant psalmist, “My soul cleaves to the dust” (Ps. 118:25). It is not that we make ourselves out to be less than what we are, but that we try for a change to stop making ourselves out to be more than what we are. We try to look into the darkness of sin, and the more terrifying darkness of love.

On Cohabitation

Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, wrote an excellent study debunking the conventional wisdom regarding cohabitation. Here's a short excerpt from The New York Times:
In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.

But that belief is contradicted by experience. Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In-house business

The BFF Team: Tom Barrett (pro-abort. Catholic), with vile Planned Parenthood of America president Cecile Richards and former WI Gov. Jim Doyle (pro-abort. Catholic)

Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett is a notorious left-wing Democrat who is most likely going to be the candidate of choice for liberals in Wisconsin to run against Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Barrett, with the proud accomplishment of having done absolutely nothing beneficial for the city of Milwaukee, clearly wants to take his string of successes and achievements to another level. Despite his pro-abortion history and outlook, Barrett is a practicing Catholic. He's quite proud of his pro-abortion record you see. Here's a snippet from a piece that appeared in The Weekly Standard:
As a congressman from Milwaukee in 1993, Tom Barrett broke ranks with the other eight other members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation (three Democrats and five Republicans) when he voted against the Hyde amendment, a measure that prohibited federal funding of elective abortions for Medicaid recipients (the amendment made exceptions for the cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at stake).

At an event in Madison last week, Barrett reaffirmed his support for taxpayer-funding of elective abortions under Medicaid.

"In Congress you voted against the Hyde amendment on Medicaid abortion funding. Do you still oppose the Hyde amendment?" Barrett was asked by THE WEEKLY STANDARD following a candidates forum in Madison on Wednesday.

"Yes, I do," Barrett replied.

Question: When and how is the leadership in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee going to address this scandal? For the sake of the moral credibility of the Church, something should be done about Barrett's shameful comments. What are Milwaukee-area Catholics to think about the Church's commitment to the pro-life cause when one of the most conspicuous Catholics in the city is implacably committed to the pro-abortion cause and is, at the same time, seeking a higher platform from which to inflict damage? Imagine what Barrett the Catholic would do to curry favor with the pro-abortion lobby if elected to the office of governor!

The answer to the question of why so little, or nothing at all, is done in this country on the part of many (not all) bishops, specifically when it comes to dealing firmly with pro-abortion Catholic politicians, is one of those great mysteries of our time. How can we be told that the fight against abortion and the Culture of Death represents the singular struggle of our time on the one hand, and then on the other, repeatedly endure the disgusting spectacle of so-called Catholic politicians nudging the industry of death along with impunity by their votes cast and laws passed? Faithful Catholics have every reason to be outraged by this.

There seems to be this sense among the higher-ups that a soft gloves approach is the most pastoral and appropriate way to handle sticky situations like this. Coming across as too harsh and heavy-handed is to be avoided at all cost. Perception is so important, and we certainly don't want to be perceived by the media and the public as mean-spirited or nasty. That may be how things were done in the past, excommunications, public denunciations and all of that, but now, in our more enlightened, civil times, we handle these little problems via dialogue and coming together, not through confrontation. And in the process, while we're feeling good about our innocuous, soft-sofa modus operandi in dealing with recalcitrant, deviant Catholics, scandal and confusion fester and spread. So what's wrong with being a bit old-school?

When will business as usual end?

This November

I liked this little AD - both artistic and honest.



Every parish bulletin should print a link to this video.

'Warrior Priest'


From the BBC:
US Army Chaplain Father Emil Kapaun stole, suffered and sacrificed his life for his fellow soldiers in a Korean prison camp. Six decades after his death, he is being considered for the Congressional Medal of Honor - and sainthood.

The story also features an excellent video on Father Kapaun's life.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

America and Baseball

Milwaukee's Miller Park

I thought this article about baseball, patriotism and the American experience was on the mark. It comes from Tim Stanley, a Brit writing for the Telegraph. He recently experienced his first baseball game and here, he writes about what it was like to hear the National Anthem belted out in the enormous stadium.
I have a rule on these occasions to stand but not sing or put my hand to my chest. I am an Englishman and my loyalty is to Her Majesty (“My country right or wrong, my mother drunk or sober”). So, I can’t in good faith join in. But I’m always inspired by the earnest love that ordinary Americans show for their country. I envy it. Nationalism in the UK is a dirty word (largely because it’s been sullied by racists), so instead we have a soft patriotism that prefers to keep itself to itself. For us, love of country is probably best expressed by a Sunday afternoon walk across the Surrey Downs. It’s a half remembered school hymn about vowing something to someone-or-other, or a fevered argument about the best way to make a cup of tea. English patriotism is about as fulfilling as a Greggs pasty.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Feast of Mercy


"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Read about this amazing feast day here.

Relic


From Vatican Insider:
Over the next four weeks, around a million German Christians will be travelling to Trier to admire the "Heiliger Rock", or the Holy Robe: one of the most important relics in German Christendom, that Jesus supposedly wore before being crucified. Stephan Ackermann, the Bishop of Trier...has decided that the robe will be put on display for the eighteenth time in its history, until 13 May.

According to legend, Helena – the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine – brought the seamless garment to Germany, while the first documentary evidence to mention the relic’s presence in Trier dates back to 1196.

To mark the occasion, the Holy Father issued a statement on the Holy Tunic. Here's an excerpt:
The tunic, John says, is all of one piece. The soldiers who, according to Roman custom, divide the meagre effects of the One who is crucified, do not want to tear the tunic. They cast lots, and thus it remains whole. The Fathers of the Church see in this passage the unity of the Church, founded as a unique and indivisible community by the love of Christ. The Holy Tunic intends to make it visible. The love of Saviour holds together that which is divided. The Church is the unity of the many. Christ does not abolish the plurality of men, but links it together with being Christians, one for the other and with the other, so much so that they might become, in their diversity, mediators with God.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Christianity in the U.K., Revisited

What once was: the Catholic Queen Mary I

From the Telegraph:
Britain's Christians are being vilified, warns Lord Carey
Christians are being “persecuted” by courts and “driven underground” in the same way that homosexuals once were, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

... “It affects the moral and ethical compass of the United Kingdom. Christians are excluded from many sectors of employment simply because of their beliefs; beliefs which are not contrary to the public good.”

He outlines a string of cases in which he argues that British judges have used a strict reading of equality law to strip the legally established right to freedom of religion of “any substantive effect”.

“It is now Christians who are persecuted; often sought out and framed by homosexual activists,” he says. “Christians are driven underground. There appears to be a clear animus to the Christian faith and to Judaeo-Christian values. Clearly the courts of the United Kingdom require guidance.”

Brewer's Law


From Fox News:
PHOENIX – Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday signed legislation making Arizona the latest state that generally bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The Republican-sponsored legislation also institutes new disclosure mandates that include requiring the state have a website with images of fetuses at various stages of development for women to view.

The 20-week abortion ban does not apply in medical emergencies, and it would affect a tiny percentage of abortions performed in Arizona.

Small steps in the right direction.

Cultural Commentary

Alright, this is a little cheeky and fresh, but it's also telling, and encouraging.

Myopic Feminists

Commenting on the dust-up between Ann Romney and the ever-churlish Hilary Rosen, Linda Chavez made some right-on-the-mark observations on modern feminists. From The Washington Examiner:
Feminism as ideology eschews individual choice. Women must fit a certain mold; if they don't, they're either deemed in need of having their consciousness raised or dismissed as frivolous ninnies. ...

Feminists believe that the only legitimate role models for young girls are women whose lives mirror their own. Feminists don't want to expand choices available to young women so much as they want to limit the options to feminist-approved categories, and full-time homemaker clearly isn't on the list.

And just for fun, a classic from the past. Mrs. Clinton on how she rejected a life of "baking cookies" for life on the big stage.


Hear her roar.

A New Golden Age?


Anne Hendershott and Christopher White wrote a fine piece on the resurgence of traditional Catholicism that appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Here's an excerpt:
In his Holy Thursday homily at St. Peter's Basilica on April 5, Pope Benedict XVI denounced calls from some Catholics for optional celibacy among priests and for women's ordination. The pope said that "true renewal" comes only through the "joy of faith" and "radicalism of obedience."

And renewal is coming. After the 2002 scandal about sexual abuse by clergy, progressive Catholics were predicting the end of the celibate male priesthood in books like "Full Pews and Empty Altars" and "The Death of Priesthood." Yet today the number of priestly ordinations is steadily increasing.

A new seminary is to be built near Charlotte, N.C., and the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., has expanded its facilities to accommodate the surge in priestly candidates. Boston's Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley recently told the National Catholic Register that when he arrived in 2003 to lead that archdiocese he was advised to close the seminary. Now there are 70 men in Boston studying to be priests, and the seminary has had to turn away candidates for lack of space. ...

What explains the trend? Nearly 20 years ago, Archbishop Elden Curtiss, then leader of the Omaha, Neb., diocese, suggested that when dioceses are unambiguous and allow a minimum of dissent about the male, celibate priesthood, more candidates answer the call to the priesthood. Our preliminary research on the correlates of priestly ordinations reveals that the dioceses with the largest numbers of new priests are led by courageous bishops with faithful and inspirational vocations offices.

Young Catholics want moral clarity and an unambiguous Catholic identity. Period. The demands of the younger generation of Catholics stand in stark contrast to the milquetoast message emanating from the likes of 1960s-era "ministry team" members from the previous post.

When bishops delegate authority...


they lose authority. From Catholic Culture:
An increasing number of Seattle parishes--including St. James Cathedral--are refusing to heed Archbishop J. Peter Sartain’s request to collect signatures for a referendum on the State of Washington’s recent redefinition of marriage. In February, Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Catholic, signed into law a bill that legalized same-sex marriage in Washington. ...

“After much prayer and reflection, I have decided we will not collect signatures at the parish,” said Tricia Wittman-Todd, pastoral life coordinator of St. Mary’s Parish in Seattle. “St. Mary’s mission is ‘House of God, Home for Everyone.’ One of our highest values is inclusion and welcome. I fear that the collection of signatures would be hurtful and divisive to our parish. I am particularly concerned about our youth who may be questioning their own sexual identity and need our support at this time in their lives.”...

“While the archbishop has given his support to the effort, he has wisely left it up to each pastor to decide whether to allow the collection of signatures in his own parish,” said Father Michael Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral. “After discussing the matter with the members of the cathedral's pastoral ministry team, I have decided that we will not participate in the collecting of signatures in our parish. Doing so would, I believe, prove hurtful and seriously divisive in our community.”

This sorry episode is a paragon of a serious problem within the Catholic Church in the United States. I applaud Archbishop Sartain's effort, but why on earth would he leave it up to each parish to decide? It gives the impression that, from the perspective of the Church, this issue of such grave importance is up for a democratic vote. This separation of powers/checks and balances mentality within the Church feeds the impression that Catholicism is a Vox Populi, Vox Dei institution.

Across the nation, these parish committees and "ministry teams" have amassed such a degree of authority that a bishop's own status is often seriously undermined and left in question. More often than not (as this case demonstrates perfectly) the members of these committees are staffed with holdovers from the 1960s who are not on-board with the Church's teaching, especially regarding sexual ethics.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Buffett Farce

Charles Krauthammer penned a nice piece on the president's latest policy proposal/poll-tested campaign gimmick, popularly known as the Buffett Rule. Appearing in The Washington Post, here's a snippet:
Let’s do the math. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates this new tax would yield between $4 billion and $5 billion a year. If we collect the Buffett tax for the next 250 years — a span longer than the life of this republic — it would not cover the Obama deficit for 2011 alone.

As an approach to our mountain of debt, the Buffett Rule is a farce. And yet Obama repeated the ridiculous claim again this week. “It will help us close our deficit.” Does he really think we’re that stupid?

Hence the fallback: The Buffett Rule is a first step in tax reform. On the contrary. It’s a substitute for tax reform, an evasion of tax reform. In three years, Obama hasn’t touched tax (or, for that matter, entitlement) reform, and clearly has no intention to. The Buffett Rule is nothing but a form of redistributionism that has vanishingly little to do with debt reduction and everything to do with reelection. ...

The reason Buffett and Mitt Romney pay roughly 15 percent in taxes is that their income is principally capital gains. The Buffett Rule is, in fact, a disguised tax hike on capital gains. But Obama prefers to present it as just an alternative minimum tax because 50 years of economic history show that raising the capital gains tax backfires: It reduces federal revenue, while lowering the tax raises revenue.

Ann Romney's 'Stay-at-home feminism'


Here's an excerpt from a smart piece by Tim Stanley on the Democrat-spawned controversy surrounding Ann Romney's decision to stay at home to raise her five children. From the Telegraph:
The war on women has flipped. Until yesterday, it was the Republicans attacking women by confiscating their contraceptives and forcing them to wear a veil in public (or whatever Obama said). Today it’s Democrats slandering stay-at-home moms as antediluvian fembots who let their sisters down by not pursuing a career in nuclear physics. Of course, both sides have descended into rhetorical absurdity. But it’s interesting to see an unlikely hero emerge from the latest dive down the rabbit hole. Ann Romney, it would seem, is pretty cool.

Looks like Ann will be a force to be reckoned with this election cycle.

Atheists scheme to have crosses removed


Planted atop a remote hill in the middle of California's Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base rests two 13-foot crosses.

Originally erected back in 2003 by seven Marines grieving over lives lost in the war on terror, this site originally established for reflection has now become grounds for controversy.

It would be a travesty if these crosses are taken down, and a perfect example of "separation of church and state" run amok in this country.

You'll recall the impressive images last week from Holy Week in Spain, where military personnel bore an enormous crucifix in a procession, and there was nary a sign of an ACLU-atheist-type alliance throwing tantrums calling for the abolition the honorable tradition. While here, our Marines have to fight tooth and nail against a cadre of miserable, litigious non-believers bandying about a hackneyed catchphrase, simply to keep a plain cross. It's a sad commentary.

The Latin Church


Came across this today. It should be sent to every parish in the U.S.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This is a beautiful performance. These are high school students!

THE LYCEUM SCHOLA CANTORUM



“I really didn't know what to expect when I heard that a high school choir would be providing the music for the liturgy, but when they opened their mouths to sing the Kyrie I was amazed. They were unbelievable. Hearing the Lyceum Schola Cantorum while celebrating the Mass was a very moving experience for me.”

--Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB, Director of The Institute of Sacred Music, St. Louis, MO

End of the trail


Senator Santorum suspended his presidential campaign today. Everyone thought it would happen eventually and I guess I did too. But I am still sad to see him go.  I had the pleasure of being with he and his family yesterday afternoon. They are some of the most honest and good people I have ever met. Senator Santorum's mood seemed somber and now I understand why.

He gave a voice to a lot of social issues that many of the other candidates would not. As Va. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli recently remarked:
What sets him apart, is on issues that are the most uncomfortable—he was willing to stand alone... He articulates the basis for Fedral marriage amendment better than anybody I've ever seen...    He is awesome on some of the issues that no one else in the field is.  And if you want a good person as president, you couldn't do any better than Senator Rick Santorum.
Maybe we'll see him in the future...

Paul Ryan's Church and State


From Politico:
House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says his Catholic faith helped shape the Republican budget plan by stressing local control and concern for the poor, according to an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network released Tuesday.

“A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves, in public and in private, so to me, using my Catholic faith, we call it the social magisterium, which is: How do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person?” he said.

Ryan said that the principle of subsidiarity — a notion, rooted in Catholic social teaching, that decisions are best made at most local level available — guided his thinking on budget planning.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Resurrection, by Veronese

Tintoretto

Noli me tangere, by Giotto

Raphael


"Do not be faithless, but believing." ~John 20: 27
Caravaggio

Walker's Deed


From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Madison - Gov. Scott Walker has signed bills putting new restrictions on abortion, requiring schools that teach sex education to promote marriage and barring those who are discriminated against at work from suing for punitive damages in state court.

Democrats blasted Walker and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature for advancing policies that they say amount to a "war on women."

"He might have thought none of us are watching because it's Good Friday, but all of us women are watching," said former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, one of four Democrats competing to run against Walker in a June 5 recall election.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie declined to comment Friday on why the governor backed the four bills, which were among 51 pieces of legislation he signed late Thursday.

Saving baby girls from being aborted is no "War on Women." A War on Liberalism...now we're talkin'.

Way of the Cross


From the BBC:
Britain's most senior Roman Catholic Church cleric has called for Christians to wear a cross every day.

In his Easter Sunday sermon, Cardinal Keith O'Brien will tell worshippers to "wear proudly a symbol of the cross of Christ" each day of their lives.

The leader of the Church in Scotland, he will voice concern at the growing "marginalisation" of religion.

His comments come as a case is going to the European Court of Human Rights to allow employees to wear crosses.

I believe the Queen's crown is still marked with a cross on the very top. Should that be removed as well? Is the European Court of Human Rights going to tell her to have that cross removed? Good luck.



And as an aside, if the U.S. ever adopts anything similar to a sanctimoniously named "Court of Human Rights" I will know that the American experiment is officially over, not because I don't believe in rights, but because, as this story makes abundantly clear, such "Courts" usually assume the role of supreme judge of how much traditional religion should be allowed in our new, enlightened society. In other words, we'd all better become Unitarians.

Catholic Chaplains in Demand




"Catholics make up the largest single religious denomination in the military, with 275,00 among the active-duty troops. It means there is one chaplain for every 1,300 Catholic servicemen and servicewomen."

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Holy Week in Spain

There are many cultural and spiritual perks that come with living in a country that is traditionally Catholic. One of the principal pluses, as I see it, is that it is much more evident that a major religious feast or solemnity is approaching because nearly everyone turns out to take part in very public ceremonies to commemorate it. It's simply part of the public life of a people and culture, and nobody complains or caterwauls about separation of Church and state. There's a strong sense in the United States that religion, and especially Catholicism, must be privatized and kept within the walls of the church building. Sadly, even processions are seen by many here as a bit odd. I prefer the Mediterranean way.

Here are some nice shots I came across, featured on the Telegraph, of Holy Week processions in Spain.



A barefoot penitent touches La Virgen de La Esperanza

Spanish legionnaires, carrying a beautiful baroque crucifix, take part in a procession. It would be amazing to see something like this in the U.S., featuring our military, but the ACLU and the radical separation of Church and state ilk would not stand for it.

Disobedience in the Church

From Reuters:
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Thursday re-stated the Roman Catholic Church's ban on women priests and warned that he would not tolerate disobedience by clerics on fundamental teachings.

Benedict, who for decades before his 2005 election was the Vatican's chief doctrinal enforcer, delivered an unusually direct denunciation of disobedient priests in a sermon at a morning Mass on Holy Thursday, the day the Church commemorates the day Christ instituted the priesthood.

The pope responded specifically to a call to disobedience by a group of Austrian priests and laity, who last year boldly and openly challenged Church teaching on taboo topics such as priestly celibacy and women's ordination.

"Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church?," he asked rhetorically in the sermon of a solemn Mass in St Peter's Basilica on the day Catholic priests around the world renew their vows.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Ryan on Obama's Attacks




A great interview with Paul Ryan (our next VP?), in which he eviscerates the president's petulant and 'sophomoric' attacks on his budget plan.

Obama's Straw Men

Mitt Romney made an excellent point regarding Obama's customary debate tactic, and I hope he continues to reiterate and expand on this in the future because no one ever calls out the president on this ploy. Obama tore into Paul Ryan's budget plan yesterday and in so doing, fabricated a laundry list of ridiculous charges and alleged consequences that would result from the passage of Ryan's plan. After creating this false reality, he then linked it to Ryan and the Republicans as a poison pill. Obama pulls this stunt all the time. He'll create false, unusual and extreme theories and consign them to the view of his opponents (who in reality do not hold such views) which allows him to present himself as the balanced, reasoned and wisest man in the room. From Romney:
President Obama came here yesterday and railed against arguments no one is making and criticized policies no one is proposing. It's one of his favorite strategies, setting up straw men to distract from his record. And while I understand why the president doesn't want to run on his record, he can't run from his record either. ~Mitt Romney

Kansas as a Model

After the impressive Kansas comeback, both Santorum and Gingrich indicated that they see Kansas as their model for the remainder of the primaries.  The problem with this model is that, although Kansas had a comeback game, it lost the championship.  Just as Santorum and Gingrich lost all three of the recent primaries.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Over

From Reuters:
(Reuters) - Xavier University, one of the oldest Roman Catholic colleges in the United States, will cut off birth-control coverage for its employees in July, a move that has divided faculty members and students on the Cincinnati campus.

The abrupt cancellation of insurance benefits at the Jesuit university in Ohio comes amid a furious dispute between the Obama administration and the nation's Catholic bishops over contraception.

Better late than never, I suppose.

New Blessing


From the AFP:
The fiercely pro-life Roman Catholic Church in the United States is finalizing a special Vatican-approved prayer dedicated to unborn children, its national association of bishops said Tuesday.

"Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb" should be available in English and Spanish at Roman Catholic parishes from coast to coast in time for Mother's Day on May 13.

"This new blessing gives thanks to God for the gift of life and imparts his blessing on the development child and his or her family," spokesman Don Clemmer of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops told AFP by email on Tuesday.

An Unbecoming Critique

Chief Justice John Roberts, exceptionally brilliant and conservative, represents a singular, unavoidable threat to Obama's agenda.

Some good points can be culled, among some bad ones, from Ruth Marcus' observations on the president's bizarre warning to the Supreme Court yesterday. A mixed bag, Marcus supports ObamaCare, but she found his words troubling nonetheless. Join the club, Ruth.

From The Washington Post
But the president went too far in asserting that it “would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step” for the court to overturn “a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” That’s what courts have done since Marbury v. Madison. The size of the congressional majority is of no constitutional significance. We give the ultimate authority to decide constitutional questions to “a group of unelected people” precisely to insulate them from public opinion.

Here's a fascinating development to this story, from CBSNews:
(CBS News) In the escalating battle between the administration and the judiciary, a federal appeals court apparently is calling the president's bluff -- ordering the Justice Department to answer by Thursday whether the Obama Administration believes that the courts have the right to strike down a federal law, according to a lawyer who was in the courtroom.

The order, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, appears to be in direct response to the president's comments yesterday about the Supreme Court's review of the health care law. Mr. Obama all but threw down the gauntlet with the justices, saying he was "confident" the Court would not "take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."