Thursday, February 28, 2013

Legacy and Liturgy

I thought that Damian Thompson, writing for the Telegraph, did a nice job summing-up (at least in part) the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Here's an excerpt.
Benedict's central achievement was that he began – but came nowhere near finishing – the "purification" of the Catholic Church that was his most pressing concern. This necessitated the reform both of the liturgy and of the behaviour of the clergy entrusted with its performance. It might seem strange to yoke together the two, but Ratzinger has always emphasised that liturgy – properly orientated worship of God – is the ultimate purpose of Catholicism, requiring a holy priesthood and laity
Benedict saw himself as continuing the mission of his predecessor, John Paul II, to restore the divine dignity of the Eucharist by renewing the celebration of Mass and encouraging adoration of the Sacrament. The extraordinary scenes in Hyde Park during his visit to Britain in 2010 testified to his success – but his reluctance to bully bishops into following his suggestions meant that the mission was not fully fulfilled. (A little example that infuriates me: the Pope encouraged priests to celebrate Mass facing a standing crucifix. He himself did so at Westminster Cathedral, but the tall cross was quickly removed after he'd gone. Why?) Benedict also restored Catholics' freedom to attend the Tridentine Mass, suppressed in the 1970s – but, again, many bishops did their "la-la-la-can't-hear-you-Holy-Father" act and Summorum Pontificum has yet to be enforced.
Read the rest here

The point about the traditional Mass, the bishops, and their 'la-la-la-can't hear-you-Holy-Father' act is, sadly, more correct than most would like to admit. Just look around. The problems go beyond the bishops and their appalling reluctance to advocate on behalf of the traditional Latin Mass and Summorum Pontificum. They have, in fact, done very little to correct the prodigious number of abuses that take place on a day-to-day basis in the Novus Ordo form of Mass.

The liturgical errors and anomalies have set in to such a ubiquitous degree, and over the course of so many decades, that the majority of the faithful are totally unaware that abuses are really abuses. For instance, do we really need four or more Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at a daily Mass with only thirty people present? Of course, the answer is 'no.' The point is that most Catholics see absolutely nothing wrong with this all-too-common spectacle. Quite the contrary, it is instead celebrated and encouraged as a form of 'active participation' in liturgy. Furthermore, isn't it a little strange when a parish offers its parishioners little to no time for Confession, and yet everyone routinely receives Holy Communion, week after week, year after year, with never a mention from the pulpit about the necessity of being properly disposed to receive Communion worthily, in the state of grace?

In many churches, old confessionals have been converted into convenient storage space for appallingly kitschy church decorations gleaned from the sorry, picked over remnants of the sales rack at Jo-Ann Fabric. Tabernacles that house Our Lord have been relocated to isolated 'chapels' that, with any luck, you just might be able to find somewhere on the church's property with the help of a compass and/or GPS endowed smart phone, or an octogenarian 'Greeter' who actually knows something useful about the church. But that's not too likely.

Still, the liturgical restoration has been set in motion, and, while it may be a slow process, it won't be stopped. Interestingly, it's the young Catholics who are more of one mind on this subject with Benedict XVI than their much older diocesan bishops, still living in the 1980s. And that is cause for thanks.

Now, let's complete the circle.

Final Blessing


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

For the Ages

"I have felt like St. Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and gentle breeze, days in which the catch has been abundant." 

AFP Images

An Epitaph

I've been studying John Locke recently.  I just read the epitaph written next to his tomb: 
Near this place lies John Locke. If you wonder what kind of man he was, the answer is that he was one contented with his modest lot. A scholar by training, he devoted his studies wholly to the pursuit of truth. Such you may learn from his writings, which will also tell you whatever else there is to be said about him more faithfully than the dubious eulogies of an epitaph. His virtues, if he had any, were too slight to serve either to his own credit or as an example to you. Let his vices be interred with him. An example of virtue, you have already in the Gospels; an example of vice is something one could wish did not exist; an example of mortality (and may you learn from it) you have assuredly here and everywhere.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Fashion, Culture, Bikinis

Debates about fashion, modesty, and culture are often conducted in the abstract.  I think those debates would go better if we looked at concrete cases.  In evaluating a piece of fashion, why not begin by exploring its history and initial inspirations?  Let's take a test case, a mainstay in American fashion, worn by Christians and non-Christians alike: the bikini.

The bikini was designed by two Frenchmen, Jacques Heim and Louis Reard.  Heim originally designed a suit, called the "atome," which he advertised as the "world's smallest bathing suit."  When the two designers rolled out the new bikini, they advertised it with the following slogan: "Bikini--smaller than the world's smallest bathing suit." They took the name "bikini" from Bikini Atoll, a nuclear test site for the atomic bomb.  The two designers hoped to cause--by splitting the atome bathing suit to create the bikini--the same kind of backlash and unease that splitting the atom in Japan caused throughout the world.

The bikini made its debut in France in 1946.  Heim and Reard, however, could not get any French models to wear it.  So they had prostitutes model the bikini instead.  The suit was heralded by French papers at the time as a liberation from oppressive Christian mores.  American fashion magazines condemned it.  Modern Girl Magazine, as late as 1957, said: "it is hardly necessary to waste words over the so-called bikini since it is inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing."  The bikini was banned in a number of Catholic countries, including Spain, Portugal, and Italy, and it was banned in many American states. The National Legion of Decency, a Catholic organization founded by the American bishops, worked hard to prevent the bikini from being featured in Hollywood.  The pope also condemned the 1951 Miss World crowning because Kiki HÃ¥kansson was crowned wearing a bikini.

The bikini eventually gained acceptance in the United States with the help of the same magazine features, cinema, and music that marked beginnings of the sexual revolution.  The bikini made an iconic early appearance in the 1962 Bond film, Dr. No.  Film historians say that the display of the bikini in Dr. No was perhaps the "defining moment in the sixties liberalization of screen eroticism" (Martin Rubin).  In the same year, Playboy magazine introduced the first American magazine cover to display a woman in a bikini.  Sports Illustrated followed two years later with an inaugural edition of its bikini-filled issue.  At roughly the same time, a number of songs began to feature the bikini, like Brian Hyland's "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini."  These cultural influences, along with a number of popular pin-up girls, launched the bikini into the mainstream.  These influences, however, are identified by historians as some of the key early heralds of the sexual revolution.

The bikini's ascendancy in America, it seems, both helped fuel the sexual revolution of the 60s and was itself made possible by that revolution.  The two movements--one in fashion, the other sexual belief and practice--seem to coincide neatly.  They share the same champions (Bond, Playboy, Sports Illustrated, sexual icons like Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page, etc.), they share the same enemies (the mid-century Catholic Church, and many mid-Century American Protestants), and they share many of the same pivotal events in their development. History seems unambiguous: the bikini, from its inception in 1946, has served as a symbolic contrast to our "moralistic" Christian past, and as an iconic symbol of our "sexually liberated" present.  Love it or hate it, the bikini is a culturally charged garment.

We can learn a lot by looking at history and origins.  All of this information helps us determine what we're talking about--what a bikini really is, where it comes from, and what it means. Which, in turn, helps us figure out the cultural value of bikinis.

We can use this strategy in any of our reflections on fashion and culture.  Before jumping into vagary-filled debates over broad, sometimes contentless, maxims, we should first examine specific behaviors themselves. Once we understand those specific behaviors, in light of a fully detailed historical, ideological, cultural picture, we can then make up our minds.  Then, we can apply our principles.  Then, we can meaningfully disagree.   

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Papal Primacy? It's not so complicated

Saint Peter's List compiled an incredible collection of quotes from early Church Fathers that point to the clear primacy of the bishop of Rome, and his successors. Not to sound flippant about centuries of weighty theological disputes, but when you strip away everything else, it is pretty clear that there was no question early on about the unique role assigned to Peter and to his successors.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Culture and Us

"Live in the culture, be a part of the culture, but don't be of the world."  "Live in the mainstream in order to reshape the mainstream."  "Be the invisible leaven of the world."

I hear this sort of thing all the time.  But I have to push back.  I think these expressions usually indicate an unrealistic plan for changing culture and for evangelization. 

Here's why.  Our prevailing culture and customs have coherence.  They fit each other and they fit our prevaling beliefs.  In general, culture, customs, and beliefs all work together to perpetuate a unified complex of human thought and behavior. 

So if you try to fit 21st century American culture and customs as much as possible, without at the same time taking on the moral practices and mentality with which they are associated, you are creating a disharmony and lack of coherence in your own life.  And that can't last.  People move towards coherence.

You can look to very recent history for an example of what I mean.  Catholicism in the United States existed for a long time in ghettos, which each had distinctive cultures and customs that differentiated them from non-Catholic American communities.  Catholic identity was, at least by all visible measures, quite strong during that time.  Catholic practice and identity, however, precipitously declined as Catholics integrated into the mainstream.  Unfortunately, we have not seen much leavening from the inside over the past half century.  We've seen loss of identity.  Catholics, once in the mainstream, were clearly swept along.  The majority adopted the prevailing Protestant doctrines and minimalist liturgical sensibilities.  And then, Catholics were readily swept along in the tide of the sexual revolution.  Catholics, because they were a minority group, were not able to shape sexual mores once in the mainstream.  Rather, their sexual mores were shaped by the mainstream.  They were not a dominant enough presence for things to have, realistically, gone any differently.  Today, Catholics have taken on mainstream irreligiousity and no longer feel the need to practice the faith at all.   

Now let's look at a contrast.  Let's look at where Catholicism is believed, practiced, and transmitted across generations in America today.  The only place that Catholicism is passed with any reliability from one generation to the next is in pockets that resemble earlier Catholic ghettos.  Communities that are self-consciously counter-cultural.  Take Latin Mass communities, homeschool communities, and communities associated with universities like Christendom and Thomas Aquinas, and with monasteries like Clear Creek in Oklahoma.  The retention rate of practicing Catholics that grow up in those close-knit, countercultural environments is extremely high, and the growth rate of those communities (coming from other Catholics and numerous converts) is also quite high. 

So I don't see why a better strategy for evagelization is not to offer a coherent, stable culture as an alternative to the mainstream.  And to make the difference known.  And then people who are looking for a better way to live, more inspired by sane thinking, have something concrete, and visible to join.  According to many demographers, this is exactly how the religious groups that are actually growing manage to make it happen (e.g. Fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and more traditionally minded Catholics).  These groups maintain their identity by existing apart, they attract new members because of they are concrete, visible, attractive alternatives, and they are currently overtaking the rest of the population because of their high birth rates and membership retention rates. 

I understand the spirit of the live-fully-in-the-culture-but-don't-be-of-the-world-ers.  But I think that the basic idea, though it has precendent and good intentions, is ill-conceived, and ultimately overconfident.  The effects of that way of thinking have been, arguably, disasterous for the Church in America.  We've got a better option on the table, and it's working.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Before Glorification

Evelyn Waugh's Edmund Campion: Jesuit and Martyr powerfully recounts the conclusion of the sham-trial that condemned Saint Edmund Campion and his companions to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Campion's final words to the judges who condemned him are at once beautiful and stunning. This excerpt stands out:

"In condemning us you condemn all your own ancestors--all the ancient priests, bishops and kings--all that was once the glory of England, the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter."

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Walker Effect

Cause for great joy, from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Planned Parenthood, citing budget cut, to close four rural Wisconsin centers 
Planned Parenthood will be closing four rural Wisconsin locations between April and July because the nonprofit health care organization has lost $1.1 million in state funding, officials announced Monday. 
The centers in Beaver Dam, Johnson Creek, Chippewa Falls and Shawano don't get enough private funding to stay financially viable without the state support, which the Legislature eliminated in the 2011-'13 state budget.
Deo gratias.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Picture of Another Pope

Pope Saint Pius V 
Pius was a Dominican Friar of austere observance and profound spiritual life; as the Duke of Alva complained, he seemed always to expect events in the world to take place without human agency. He chose a life of great loneliness; he lived in a little set of rooms removed from the great state apartments of the Vatican; he confided in no one and took counsel from very few; the Turks were threatening Christianity in the rear, her center was torn by new heresies, his allies were compromising and intriguing, their purpose distracted by ambitions of empire and influence; in long vigils of silent, interior communion, Pius contemplated only the abiding, abstract principles that lay behind the phantasmagoric changes of human affairs. ~ From Evelyn Waugh's Edmund Campion: Jesuit and Martyr

Vatican Roundup

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fascism and Its Genesis in the LEFT

From the indefatigable and brilliant Daniel Hannan, writing for the Telegraph: So total is the Left's cultural ascendancy that no one likes to mention the socialist roots of fascism

Inescapable Considerations

Of one mind...

From the Associated Press:
NEW YORK (AP) — Conventional wisdom holds that no one from the United States could be elected pope, that the superpower has more than enough worldly influence without an American in the seat of St. Peter. 
But after Pope Benedict XVI's extraordinary abdication, church analysts are wondering whether old assumptions still apply, including whether the idea of a U.S. pontiff remains off the table.
Cardinal Raymond L. Burke is an exceptional leader and shepherd. I worked closely with him in Saint Louis for several years and, having since returned to Milwaukee, I remain in contact with him. He is deeply humble, extraordinarily prayerful, gracious, generous with his time, brilliant, and, to round it off, very classy. A quick and rare personal anecdote: on two occasions, my parents went to Rome. Cardinal Burke had them over for a private lunch at his residence both times. He is that kind. That hospitable. That's all I'm gonna say.

Unfinished Business

The Dominican Rite

For an excellent rundown of the liturgical legacy of Pope Benedict XVI, and (almost more importantly) where we go from here, check out this fascinating article by Father Christopher Smith, appearing in The Chant Cafe: The Unfinished Liturgical Work of Benedict XVI. It's well-worth the time reading it in its entirety.

Props to Fr. Smith for an outstanding analysis.

Benedict's 'Ground Up' Liturgical Restoration

Damian Thompson, writing for the Telegraph, offers a spot-on insight into Pope Benedict XVI's liturgical reformation, and how it is being fueled. Reflecting on the Holy Father's 2010 visit to the U.K., he writes:
Also, Benedict tackled the huge task of restoring beauty to worship. But this is where we come up against the enforcer problem – that is, he isn’t one. The former Cardinal Ratzinger had to enforce things, in his job monitoring doctrinal orthodoxy, but as Pope Benedict he shied away from arm-twisting. This has allowed bishops, including those in England and Wales, to ignore any of his innovations that don’t take their fancy. Fortunately, young Catholics are so sick of the cod folk-wailing of “worship leaders” that Benedict’s restoration of beauty is being implemented quietly, from the ground up.
'So sick' is an understatement.

The 85-year-old Pope and millions of young Catholics are far more of one mind on the subject of liturgy than many of the bishops and priests in the Church who are still living in the 1970s and playing catch-up. A remarkable thing. Again, it's noteworthy that, while many U.S. bishops, via the USCCB, spend much their time and capital rehashing dry political talking points about immigration reform, gun control, and 'openness,' the Pope is using the majority of his final public addresses focusing on in-house matters: reiterating the true nature of the Second Vatican Council, calling out the egregious abuses committed in the name of that Council, condemning the divisions from within the Church. Outside of a small handful, when do you hear any prominent American bishop talking about these things?

The 'task' continues.

The Pope, the Council and the Media

Full circle

A follow-up to a couple posts down. Here's an excerpt from a well-written piece appearing in the Telegraph:
Pope Benedict XVI: media led the Church into profanity 
The Pope has launched a stinging attack against the media, saying that it had led the Church into "profanity" by spreading a message that Catholicism had to modernise and become more inclusive. 
Just two weeks before he steps down as pontiff, Benedict XVI told a group of priests in the Vatican that as a result, some church services had become little more than community meetings. 
The 85-year-old Pope blamed the media for twisting and misrepresenting the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, presenting them as the beginning of a transfer of power from the Vatican to individual bishops and their congregations. 
"The media saw the council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world," he said. 
As a result, some churches had perhaps misunderstood the intent of the Second Vatican Council, losing their focus on the liturgy "as an act of faith" and instead trying to make it "understandable, similar to a community activity, something profane".

Sooner rather than later

From the Associated Press and CBS News:
VATICAN CITY The Vatican is raising the possibility that the conclave to elect the next pope might start earlier than March 15, the earliest date possible under current rules that require a 15-20 day waiting period after the papacy becomes vacant.
Vatican spokesman The Rev. Federico Lombardi said top officials can study the Holy See's constitution to determine whether such a rule change is possible. The 15-20 day rule is in place to allow time for the arrival in Rome of "all those (cardinals) who are absent."

Friday, February 15, 2013

On the 'Virtual' Vatican II

Yesterday, the Holy Father, in one of his final addresses as pope, gave a remarkably candid appraisal of the decades following Vatican II. Here's a very short excerpt on the question of language and liturgy, appearing in Vatican Radio:
The Council also pondered the principals of the intelligibility of the Liturgy - instead of being locked up in an unknown language, which was no longer spoken - and active participation. "Unfortunately – he [Pope Benedict XVI] said - these principles were also poorly understood." In fact, intelligibility does not mean "banalizing" because the great texts of the liturgy - even in the spoken languages ​​ - are not easily intelligible, "they require an ongoing formation of the Christian, so that he may grow and enter deeper into the depths of the mystery, and thus comprehend". And also concerning the Word of God - he asked - who can honestly say they understand the texts of Scripture, simply because they are in their own language? "Only a permanent formation of the heart and mind can actually create intelligibility and participation which is more than one external activity, which is an entering of the person, of his or her being into communion with the Church and thus in fellowship with Christ." ... 
This was the case for the liturgy: there was no interest in the liturgy as an act of faith, but as a something to be made understandable, similar to a community activity, something profane. And we know that there was a trend, which was also historically based, that said: "Sacredness is a pagan thing, possibly even from the Old Testament. In the New Testament the only important thing is that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, that is, in the secular world". Sacredness ended up as profanity even in worship: worship is not worship but an act that brings people together, communal participation and thus participation as activity. And these translations, trivializing the idea of ​​the Council, were virulent in the practice of implementing the liturgical reform, born in a vision of the Council outside of its own key vision of faith. And it was so, also in the matter of Scripture: Scripture is a book, historical, to treat historically and nothing else, and so on. 
And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed liturgy trivialized ... and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized: the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real strength of the Council was present and slowly it has emerged and is becoming the real power which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that 50 years after the Council, we see how this Virtual Council is breaking down, getting lost and the true Council is emerging with all its spiritual strength.
Emphasis added. Please read the piece in its entirety. So much could be said on this subject. Indeed, over the past ten or so years, I've written quite a bit on this topic on The Forum. Lately, time has prohibited me from writing much these past few days, even weeks. But I hope to get back onboard soon.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Three 'Parents'

The way this is reported, it's almost in a celebratory, 'Hey isn't this cool!' manner. It's simply the logical consequence of what we've been seeing for the past few years.

From ABC News:
Few people can say that they legally have three parents, but 23-month-old Emma Filippazzo will be able to after a Miami-Dade county judge signed off an an agreement that a lesbian couple and a gay man are all the parents of the child, stating it on her birth certificate. 
Hair stylist Massimilano Gerina of Miami Beach met lesbian couple Maria Italiano and Cher Filippazzo in 2006 when they became clients of his, eventually building a strong friendship. Italiano and Filippazzo were trying to conceive and approached Gerina first in 2008 and then a second time in late 2009, to be the father of their baby.
And because it's 'legal,' because a judge says so, then it must be true, right? Ironically, pazzo in Italian means crazy. That sums it up about right.

Tradition Matters

In this video, two Coptic monks discuss the importance of tradition and heritage. What they are saying is exactly what I talk about regularly with friends. Catholics take note.

 This is a great series of discussions and I encourage you to listen to more of them.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Bishops Reject Obama's Faux Compromise

From Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected the Obama Administration's latest bid for compromise over a hotly disputed health policy that requires employees at religiously affiliated institutions to have access to insurance coverage for contraceptives. 
Cardinal Timothy Donlan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said his group would redouble efforts to reach an agreement on the contraceptives issue after more than a year of protest and scores of federal lawsuits from Catholics groups and other social conservatives. 
But the cardinal, one of the most prominent voices in the American Catholic Church, said new federal rules proposed last week offer only "second-class status" to church-affiliated universities, hospitals and charities by failing to grant them the same full exemption afforded to houses of worship.
Lesson One: Obama doesn't want compromise. He doesn't want to collaborate with Catholics or any conservative for that matter. He doesn't want to bridge the divide. He doesn't want to heal old wounds. He doesn't want to bring people together. He doesn't want bipartisanship. He doesn't want to "work across the aisle."

Obama wants division. He wants to agitate. He wants to exploit. He wants rancor. He wants to tear apart and conquer. This is the source of his power.

He wants to destroy, eviscerate, annihilate, eradicate, redefine and render irrelevant his opposition. Until our side finally gets that, we're going to continue to sink in the sand.

This isn't "politics as usual." This is political war.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Reagan 102

Today would have been Ronald Reagan's 102 birthday. To commemorate this great president, here's an excerpt from Margaret Thatcher's memorable 2002 tribute to Ronald Reagan:
As Ron once put it: the nine most dangerous words in the English language are “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help”. As usual, he was right. 
Ronald Reagan helped America – and so America could help the world – because he rejected that approach. He believed, and he never stopped proclaiming, that the talents of a nation, not the wisdom of bureaucracy, forge a country’s greatness. Let our children grow tall – he urged – then they can reach out to raise others higher too. 
For our opponents, there are always a hundred reasons why the government must intervene to plan its children’s lives. For us, there’s one overwhelming reason why it shouldn’t – because men and women are born to be free. 
The world isn’t much used to hearing that kind of message now. We live in an era of sound bites and spin doctors, of false sentiment and real cynicism. That’s why just reading – or hearing as we shall – the words of Ronald Reagan is so refreshing. They remind us that men and women were born for high ideals and noble purposes. 
They remind us, too, that the world which so many now take for granted was won by struggle. And Ron had to struggle. The fact that he kept his composure and lifted us all with his humour testified to his inner strength, not to a life without hardship. And it also testified, as he never failed to add, to the boundless, enfolding love of Nancy. 
Ronald Reagan’s achievements can be summed up like this: he made America great again, and he used that greatness to set the nations free. Either of these achievements would qualify a President for the political pantheon: but to have succeeded in both marks out President Reagan as one of America’s very greatest leaders. 
All his policies were of a piece, and all reflected his own distinctive philosophy. He believed in America, and he believed in people. 
When the academics foretold American decline, he replied that there was nothing this nation couldn’t do, once given the chance. 
When the economists denounced his policies of tax cuts as simplistic, he didn’t mind if his answers were simple because they were true. 
When liberals doubted if Americans were willing to master events and make sacrifices, he replied (and I quote): 
“No weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women”. 
… President Reagan didn’t just abhor communism, mistrust socialism and dislike bureaucracy, he truly loved liberty – he loved it with a passion which went far beyond anything else in his political life. It was what brought moral grandeur to his vision of America and to his dreams for a better world. It was directed not mainly at earthly powers and principalities but rather at the infinitely precious, utterly unique human being, wherever he or she was yearning to breathe free.

What are Monks?

In the words of Father Laurence Kriegshauser of Saint Louis Abbey:
Christian monasticism is a life-choice for people who are seeking the meaning of their lives on earth. They sense that beneath and behind the many activities of human beings in today's world there is a person who made these activities and who is calling men into communion with himself. They believe that such a communion is what they are made for and is the only thing that will satisfy them. They are willing to undergo any renunciation, any personal stripping if only they can have that life with God which has been promised by Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. They undertake a life of renunciation of ordinary pursuits in the world in order to focus directly on the Lord and on the means of attaining union with Him. They adopt an inherited discipline in community which has the power over time to purify the self of egoism and disordered passion and to establish the monk in a lively, patient, and cheerful fraternal charity. The monk carries the cross of Christ in order to share in his resurrection. If he undertakes certain apostolic works for the good of the Church, these are ways of sharing with the society of today the knowledge of the Gospel which he has been at pains to absorb himself. He contributes to the world by overcoming his own sin, witnessing to the presence of the risen Christ in the world, ceaselessly offering to the Father the prayer of Christ for the reconciliation of man with God, offering hospitality to those who seek God, and working in tasks of manual labor, study, preaching, or teaching. Monasteries are needed in a world that tends to be weighed down with material concerns and swept up in noise and information that often does not touch the deeper thirst of man. In Thomas Merton's words, "Monks are like trees; by their silent presence they purify the atmosphere," keeping before men's eyes the ultimate purpose of human existence and the means of attaining it. Monasteries welcome young men who are seeking union with God in the tried and proven ways laid down by Saint Benedict in his Rule for monks.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Women in Combat? Marines List Objections

From the Associated Press:
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Male Marines listed being falsely accused of sexual harassment or assault as a top concern in a survey about moving women into combat jobs, and thousands indicated the change could prompt them to leave the service altogether. 
The anonymous online questionnaire by the Marine Corps surveyed 53,000 troops last summer, with the results provided to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta before he opened thousands of combat positions to women last week. 
The Marine Corps released the results to The Associated Press on Friday. Among the other top concerns listed by male Marines were possible fraternization and preferential treatment of some Marines. 
Respondents also worried that women would be limited because of pregnancy or personal issues that could affect a unit before it's sent to the battlefield.

Friday, February 01, 2013

L.A. Cardinal Censured

The Mahony era, finally over. Next up, cathedral restoration?

A truly remarkable story, from the Los Angeles Times:
In a move unprecedented in the American Catholic Church, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced Thursday that he had relieved his predecessor, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, of all public duties over his mishandling of clergy sex abuse of children decades ago
Gomez also said that Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Curry, who worked with Mahony to conceal abusers from police in the 1980s, had resigned his post as a regional bishop in Santa Barbara. 
The announcement came as the church posted on its website tens of thousands of pages of previously secret personnel files for 122 priests accused of molesting children. "I find these files to be brutal and painful reading. The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil," Gomez wrote in a letter addressed to "My brothers and sisters in Christ."
This shows a lot of moral courage on the part of Archbishop Gomez.