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Saturday 30 June 2012

Early Art in Wales

Could not resist a post on this. A drawing of a reindeer has been found in Wales and is the oldest rock art in Britain. Ah, as I am partial to Welsh artists, I am happy to report this find. Here is the link. The art is dated at about 12,500 BC. The article notes also that the oldest formal buried person is from Wales. 

The limestone cliffs along the Gower coast are known for their archaeological importance.
The Red Lady of Paviland, actually the remains of a young man, is the earliest formal human burial to have been found in western Europe, around 29,000 years old.
It was discovered at Goat's Hole Cave at Paviland on Gower in 1823 by William Buckland, then a geology professor at Oxford University.
The picture is not too clear, but it is wonderful to know that men and women were "into art" for whatever reason so early.

Derailment? Rorate Caeli This Week

I am a bit late on this news, and the entire article is on Rorate Caeli. We need to pray for the SSPX and the Vatican persons involved in the reconciliation.

The district superior of Germany [of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX)], [Father Franz] Schmidberger, says to this newspaper that he knows that there are "people in the Vatican" that, against the will of the Pope, have thrown a wrench in the works. 

Yet, Schmidberger described the nomination of the American Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia last Tuesday as vice-president of the Ecclesia Dei commission as a "good sign". This commission operates under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and is responsible for the dialogue with the SSPX. Schmidberger assumes that Di Noia will advance the case according to the will of the Pope. 

The Vatican spokesman Lombardi, however, told this newspaper that the Pope is indeed "in favour of reunion, but only under clear theological conditions". These conditions had not changed. The Dominican Di Noia was until recently secretary of the Congregation for the Sacraments. Thouvenot claims in his letter that circulates the internet that the pope approves of the version of the doctrinal preamble as presented by Bp. Fellay in April. 

(...) While the Pope had approved of Fellay's version, Cardinal Levada would have proposed a version to Bp. Fellay mid-June that was "rolled back a couple of months". Accepting this version is "clearly unacceptable", according to Thouvenot [in the leaked internal correspondence]. Fellay would have reported this to Levada immediately. 

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen on the Sacrament of Holy Orders

I pray for many seminarians and those who are considering the priesthood. I also pray for priests. We must support our priests. There is a cool site on Venerable Fulton J. Sheen's comments on Holy Orders may be found here. A selection on celibacy follows:

Our Lord wished to have a group of men who would have the freedom to give full time to His service; hence He ordained in order that they who served the altar were to live by the altar. Celibacy in the Latin Rite stresses this quality of total dedication. The priest is a celibate in order that he might not have the cares of family and, therefore, not be afraid to minister to people in plague or to give the last rites to soldiers dying in battle. St. Paul, speaking of celibacy as a spur to undivided service, writes: "And I would have you free from concern. He who is unmarried is concerned with God's claim, asking how he is to please God" (I Corinth. 7:32).

Chastity, however, is not something cold or negative. It is, as Francis Thompson called it, "a passionless passion, a wild tranquillity." A man cannot live without love, though he can live without romantic love or the Eros. The divine command, "increase and multiply" (Gen. 1:28) may be verified not only with reference to the body, but also to the soul. There can be increase of man in the cultural, moral, and religious spheres. The priest is called a "father," because he begets souls in Christ. As St. Paul wrote to the Galatians: "My little children, I am in travail over you afresh, until I can see Christ's image formed in you" (Gal. 4:19). The purer the mirror of his humanity is, the better he reflects the image of Christ.
Though a priest is called a father, nevertheless, he is also a "mother" of children. Our Blessed Lord used two analogies to describe His attitude toward the city that He loved, and also to all humanity. He said that He loved Jerusalem as a hen who gathers her chickens, but the city refused His love. The night of the Last Supper, He used the similitude of a mother about to bring forth a child, implying that He would be in labor in His Crucifixion, but would bring forth new life in His Resurrection.

First Day of the Novena to the Holy Spirit for the SSPX

On a day and in a week when there are so many world crises, as in Egypt, the EU and in the States, I can hardly decide what to write. I think the most important thing today is to start the novena to the Holy Spirit which many of us are saying for the reconciliation of the SSPX. Here it is from the site. Click on the Veni Creator for the prayer.

"The Society of St. Pius X's annual General Chapter will take place at St. Pius X Seminary in Econe, Switzerland from July 9 to 14, following a retreat for the participants (the General Council and the SSPX's major superiors).

We invite the faithful, religious and clergy to join the members of the SSPX in a novena to the Holy Ghost from June 30 to July 8. The novena will consist of praying the Veni Creator Spiritus with the addition of 2 invocations:
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us. (3 times)
  • St. Pius X, pray for us."

    It is time for humility. I think the SSPX would renew the Church. Please join me in prayer.

Friday 29 June 2012

Antisemitism on Main Media, France 24, from Egypt


On France24, an obvious hatred of Jewish people from a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood. Interesting video and watch to the end, please.  The commentator did a good job trying to flush out the prejudice, rather hatred, of the representative. Here is the link

for more comment. Many posts today.

The Sisters of Life and Cardinal Burke at the Same Conference in July

Seven post day and here is another one. I am plugging the Sisters of Life today. One of the marks of this congregation is that the entire ministry is one of supporting Life, as against abortion and contraception. If a young woman is considering a vocation which is timely and highly needed, here is an order to choose. The link to their beautiful website is here.

The sisters also have a retreat house, which may be seen at this link.

If you can send them a donation, do so. If you are considering a vocation to the religious life, consider them. Pray. We could use them in Europe.

The sisters support Courage, and here is a note on the upcoming special conference at which they shall take part.

National Courage Conference
July 19-22, 2012 l Emmitsburg, MD
Join our Sisters at the National Courage Conference this summer.
From the Courage website:
“Courage, an apostolate of the Catholic Church, ministers to persons with same-sex attraction and their loved ones. We have been endorsed by the Pontifical Council for the Family and our beloved John Paul II said of this ministry, ”COURAGE is doing the work of God!”  We also have an outreach called  EnCourage which ministers to relatives, spouses, and friends of persons with same-sex attraction.”
This year’s conference features many excellent speakers including:  Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Fr. Paul Check, Msgr. John Esseff, Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons, Andrew Gill, Th.Psy.D., Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Fr. Jeffrey Keefe, Timothy G. Lock, Ph.D., Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Fr. Paul Scalia & Sean Stevens, Ph.D. 

Joseph Curl on yesterday's decision and Dr. Sanity's brilliant note

And, in the WT, another person, Joseph Curl, who has extensive experience in political watching seems positive as not only to the interpretation of tax, but that the decision helps, rather than hinders, the possibility of Romney winning the election. Note this statement from Joseph Curl:
Chief Justice Roberts has given Mitt Romney a key attack: The president is a tax-and-spend liberal bent on expanding government to unprecedented levels. And the presumed Republican nominee knows it: “If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to replace President Obama,” he said from a rooftop in Washington overlooking the Capitol. “What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president.”

So, for Campaign 2012, it’s game on. And for his part, Mr. Fleischer regained his pithy pundacity after digesting the high court’s ruling. “Mitt Romney will appeal this decision to the American people on November 6th. Oral arguments are already taking place.”

Dr. Sanity has surpassed herself in her comment on the SCOTUS decision. I highly recommend you read her blog on this, and here is a cartoon from her blog. She is one of my two favorite blogs and she is especially intelligent, as some of you know. She quotes Stephen Hicks with regard to this delusion of the Post-Modern, one of my themes, but here so excellently defined.

 Stephen Hicks wrote in Explaining Postmodernism[pages 175-177]:
To the modernist, the "mask" metaphor is a recognition of the fact that words are not always to be taken literally or as directly stating a fact--that people largely use language elliptically, metaphorically, or to state falsehoods, that language can be textured with layers of meaning, and that it can be used to cover hypocrisies or to rationalize. Accordingly, unmasking means interpreting or investigating to a literal meaning or fact of the matter. The process of unmasking is cognitive, guided by objective standards, with the purpose of coming to an awareness of reality.

For the postmodernist, by contrast, interpretation and investigation never terminate with reality. Language connects only with more language, never with a non-linguistic reality....

For the postmodernist, language cannot be cognitive because it does not connect to reality, whether to an external nature or an underlying self. Language is not about being aware of the world, or about distinguishing the true from the false, or even about argument in the traditional sense of validity, soundness, and probability. Accordingly, postmodernism recasts the nature of rehtoric. Rhetoric is persasion in the absence of cognition....
And so given the conflict models of social relations that dominate postmodern discourse, it makes perfect sense that to most postmodernists language is primarily a weapon.

This explains the harsh nature of much postmodern rhetoric. The regular deployments of ad hominem, the setting up of straw men, the regular attempts to silence opposing voices are all logical consequences of the postmodern epistemology of language. Stanley Fish, as noted in Chapter Four, calls all opponents of racial preferences bigots and lumps them in with the Ku Klux Klan. Andrea Dworking calls all heterosexual males rapists and repeatedly labels "Amerika" a fascist state. With such rhetoric, truth or falsity is not the issue: what matters primarily is the language's effectiveness.

Language as a weapon, people, is used not only by Americans, but by Europeans as well, which is why we Catholics must not only put on the mind of Christ, but speak truthfully and clearly. 

George Will's interesting interpretation of yesterday's decision

An interesting take on the decision yesterday of SCOTUS may be found in WP by George Will. You may not agree with his proposal, but it is worth reading here.

A section reads:

If the mandate had been upheld under the Commerce Clause, the Supreme Court would have decisively construed this clause so permissively as to give Congress an essentially unlimited police power — the power to mandate, proscribe and regulate behavior for whatever Congress deems a public benefit. Instead, the court rejected the Obama administration’s Commerce Clause doctrine. The court remains clearly committed to this previous holding: “Under our written Constitution . . . the limitation of congressional authority is not solely a matter of legislative grace.”
The court held that the mandate is constitutional only because Congress could have identified its enforcement penalty as a tax. The court thereby guaranteed that the argument ignited by the mandate will continue as the principal fault line in our polity.
The mandate’s opponents favor a federal government as James Madison fashioned it, one limited by the constitutional enumeration of its powers. The mandate’s supporters favor government as Woodrow Wilson construed it, with limits as elastic as liberalism’s agenda, and powers acquiring derivative constitutionality by being necessary to, or efficient for, implementing government’s ambitions.
By persuading the court to reject a Commerce Clause rationale for a president’s signature act, the conservative legal insurgency against Obamacare has won a huge victory for the long haul. This victory will help revive a venerable tradition of America’s political culture, that of viewing congressional actions with a skeptical constitutional squint, searching for congruence with the Constitution’s architecture of enumerated powers. By rejecting the Commerce Clause rationale, Thursday’s decision reaffirmed the Constitution’s foundational premise: Enumerated powers are necessarily limited because, as Chief Justice John Marshall said, “the enumeration presupposes something not enumerated.”

The Sacrament which is renewed daily...

A seminarian friend sent me this. My parents have been married for 64 and one-half years. To all good couples in good marriages, God bless you. I remember today Arlene and Wayne, Joe and Kay, Myrna and Fred, Charlene and John, Charles and Eileen, John and Marie, Slavko and Anna, David and Sharon, and, Heather and John.


SS. Peter and Paul

The Great Key to Truth and Love, and the Keys to the Kingdom-St. Peter's Rome is guarded by the statues of SS. Peter and Paul. The locals told me years ago that Paul's body language in the statue points to Peter and says, "Do whatever he tells you to do."

Happy Feast Day of SS. Peter and Paul.

Girls on the Circle Line

Yesterday on the tube, I overheard, as I was squashed up against the door, some smart young girls discussing the demise of the economic systems and security of Europe. One girl said she would ride her horse to work, without understanding that she may not have a job. The other girl was a bit more on top of the solutions. She said she had gathered together a list of people she knew with skills which would help a small group get by in economic crisis. What a good idea. Now, I could not tell by the way these two young women were dressed that they were Christians. However, if common talk on a tube revolves around crisis, more people than the Christians are thinking about this.

Catholics, wake up.

Even in Britain...

Thursday 28 June 2012

On saints and our sovereignty...Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, pray for us

Father Z had the announcement on the fact that Fulton J. Sheen is now Venerable. I grew up with his voice wafting from the black and white television in the living room, as my parents watched him weekly.

I think we should pray to him for America, on this sad, sad day.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, pray for us on this day, as America will never be the same. The government now can make us buy anything it wants us to buy. Justice Ginsberg called this "the death spiral". God forgive us for more and more dead babies paid for by all of us...We must fight this decision in the ballot-box.

Here is Ven. Fulton J. Sheen's famous talk against tolerance, which is very appropriate today.

Christian love bears evil, but it does not tolerate it.
It does penance for the sins of others, but it is not broadminded about sin.
The cry for tolerance never induces it to quench its hatred of the evil philosophies that have entered into contest with the Truth.
It forgives the sinner, and it hates the sin; it is unmerciful to the error in his mind.
The sinner it will always take back into the bosom of the Mystical Body;
but his lie will never be taken into the treasury of His Wisdom.
Real love involves real hatred:
whoever has lost the power of moral indignation and the urge to drive the buyers and sellers from the temples
has also lost a living, fervent love of Truth.
Charity, then, is not a mild philosophy of "live and let live";
it is not a species of sloppy sentiment.
Charity is the infusion of the Spirit of God,
which makes us love the beautiful and hate the morally ugly.


Santorum on the SCOTUS Decision and a Prayer

President Obama believes he is above the law, entitled to abusing his power to get what he wants, and willing to violate the constitution and the oath he was sworn to uphold.  He has proven to be a very dangerous person to have this kind of power, and if he is not stopped this November, I am fearful that the make-up of this country as established by our founders will never be the same. Rick Santorum today

Father Z has a prayer for the freedom of the Church on his blog. Here it is:

Ecclesiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, preces placatus admitte: ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. … We beseech You, O Lord, having been appeased, receive the prayers of Your Church, so that once all adversities and errors have been destroyed, she, secure, may serve You in freedom.
I am waiting to see the results of any freedom of conscience, and against contraceptives and abortions. If these are not addressed, this is the end of Catholic Medical hospitals and clinics.

What a sad day for the Constitutional freedoms of choice to live or be forced to die. has the best commentary.

The First Mass of Father Hunwicke at the Brompton Oratory

Picture taken by Transalpine Redemptorist--I am the woman farthest away from the camera

The side chapel to Our Lady Mary at the Brompton Oratory, under the title of Our Lady of Victory, was the venue of Father John Hunwicke's first Mass as  the newest priest in the Ordinariate. The Latin Low Mass brought about 45 people to celebrate with Father on this glorious day. Afterwards, we lined up at the main altar rail for his first blessings.

I am struck with the respect and honor this particular priest has for the Mass of the Ages. I wish I knew something about his vestments, as the chasuble looked like a  mille-fleur  tapestry. One of the Fathers of the Transalpine Redemptorists took photos, so I suggest you check out that site later, and also for photos of the Ordination in Oxford last night. I do not take photos. These photos of today's Mass may show up on the New Liturgical Movement site first.

One interesting comment was that the First Mass looked like a mini-blog convention, with three bloggers from the Ordinariate present (not counting Father John Hunwicke), and at least four other bloggers. I attribute the interest in that bloggers in Great Britain are more traddy and more intelligent than most....(tongue in cheek). Father was inside when the Royal Airforce did a V-shaped flyover. I am sure it was for him (smile).

May God bless Father Hunwicke and all the Ordinariates, who, by the way, if you have need of a charity, is greatly, greatly in need of funds for families, housing, etc. There is a donate button on the Ordinariate Portal site, found here:

The Poetic Sincerity of Language

Language is important. Recently, I was reading an article on technology and came across two phrases, one of which, I have seen before. The first phrase,  referring to computers, cell phones, laptops, notebooks or even an espresso machine, is "sexy piece". Now, I cannot understand why a machine of plastic, diodes, and other semiconductor stuff is "sexy". But, I am over thirty.

Partly to blame is advertising, (surprise, surprise), which uses all types of buzz words and phrases to get one's attention in this age of too-much-information. But, I cannot label something like an espresso maker, "sexy". Or maybe some people just see sex in everything. What limited imaginations some have.

The second phrase may be particularly French, I do not know. The phrase is rude and used to describe ugly, outdated machinery at someone's workplace or in their home-office. That phrase is "desk manure". I suppose an 2002 fax machine, or an old monitor from 1998, would allow a person to use the language of agricultural derision, but not me.

Growing up in Iowa, on knows that manure means something useful, albeit unpleasant to the senses. I am not sure those journalists whose use these terms know anything about animal waste, or perhaps, even sex. My real concern is philosophical, of course. If sex, for example, is only one more commodity, bought and sold to the highest bidder, than certain machines would fall under the same subjective language code. If anything ugly is likened to something which is naturally useful in its proper context, I suppose there is room to doubt the poetic sincerity of the writer. Ah, I have just coined a new one, "poetic sincerity". That the Victorians were sincere and poetic makes them the ultimate arbiters of phraseology. Do you think they thought the items of the industrial age appearing in their homes, such as hot and cold taps, showers, gas light fixtures, or even incandescent light bulbs were "sexy"? I am sure William Blake would think not.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land

"l Love London in the Rain"

I know the City of London better than the back of my hand. Don't ask me why. But, one reason is that I had a good friend who used to work in the City and we would meet for lunch, and I would go to Mass at Ely Place, etc.

The wine and champagne, as well as the Macallan for my wedding reception was bought at El Vino's. I have had lunch or a drink at the Ye Olde Mitre (Bishop's Mitre), Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, The George, and the old Wig and Pen several times. I have walked through many of the small lanes of the Temple areas, visited many churches, including that of the Templars, St. Etheldreda's in Ely Place, St. Mary's, St. Clements (both shut up today), St. Paul's and others on the outskirts, such as St. Martin-in-the-Fields, where a fantastic organ piece was bein played just as we came in this afternoon at the end of Evening Song.

I have seen in the past the statue of St. Thomas More near the Courts of Justice, but could not find it today in the rain. We past The Coal Hole, of  Fr. Z fame on our way to Trafalgar Square. There were more people and less pigeons than the last time I was there.

I showed my friends where Twining's Teas started in 1705, when the newspapers of the empire used to hold sway, and where Dickens and Johnson met their friends.

We did not get to the area of Bleeding Heart Yard, nor Covent Garden--next time. We went on to Westminster, as I mentioned above. We did not go into the Soane, which is so unique. Next time.

We did see the theaters around the Aldwych, and we stopped to admire the knight on top of the Savoy.

We walked at miles here and there, ending up in Pall Mall, across from where Notre Dame has a London program where I attended a party many years ago. We did not go into the museums or art galleries, but one of my friends climbed up on one of Nelson's lions and had his photo taken. Great day. Sadly, we could not get into the Knight's Templar Church, as the choir was practicing.

Happy day, happy memories. We ran around the fountains at Somerset House and wished we had time to go into the Courtauld. Next time.

I need to go back and spend more time walking in the footsteps of More and Dickens. I love the City of London and the City of Westminster. There is not enough time in the world.

And, I agree with Johnson, "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

Malta Against the Vatican: the Success of Materialistic Thinking and the Demise of Catholic Thinking

My real Catholic Friends are trying to stop the freezing of embryos in Malta. I wrote about this about 

six weeks ago here on this blog. Malta is sliding into babarism and some of the priests have been 

giving advice contrary to Rome on this subject. Malta is no longer Catholic. What the Siege did not 

accomplish, the socialists have--destroying morals and family life. 

Here are some links to the Catholic Teaching Magisterium on IVF. Loud and clear and consistent...

Personally, I am sick of priests contradicting the Church's teaching on Life issues. We are so beautifully consistent in our approach, as seen in the above documents.

What follows is the hideous anti-Catholic thinking becoming more prevalent. The updates are included in the links.

Embryo freezing is the solution

Dr Miriam Sciberras (The Sunday Times, June 10) stated: “In Malta at present we do not have embryo selection, embryo freezing or abortion included as part of our best medical practice protocols and we are proud of this.”
Such concern for the human embryo is at best naive but in any case very economical with the truth. With all due respect, supporting the medieval status quo of transferring all three or four embryos created altogether, as is currently local practice, may obviously result in any scenario ranging from four abortions to a quadruplet pregnancy – the latter associated with all the complications of prematurity, i.e. birth at around 30 weeks’ gestation.
I am purposely leaving aside the fact that for unknown reasons in nature and assisted technology, the fertilised egg may split into two or more embryos during the first stage of development to avoid further complicating or making this issue even more sensational.
As I wrote in The Times on April 21: “The issue remaining unresolved is whether egg vitrification can exclude the possibility of creating more than the exact amount of embryos targeted for implantation.”
It is not yet scientifically possible to have created the two embryos to be transferred. Transfering one has negligible results; transferring three is bad practice. Unfortunately at present only freezing of the supernumerary embryo inadvertently created can solve this issue. And this is where incentives for all embryos to be used by the same biological parents (80 per cent of IVF procedures fail in any case) or adoptive ones (under EU directives all stored embryos are guaranteed to have been created by gametes screened for hereditary and infectious diseases) come in.
Whoever thought the IVF Parliamentary Committee I chaired in 2010 had liberal views should note that in barring gamete donation and restricting eligibility for assisted reproduction to stable heterosexual couples, we did put a lid on gay couples’ desire to raise children, knowing full well that our sovereign nation, like the rest of the continent still had to determine whether these expectations were appropriate or otherwis

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Dr. Sanity Gives Us a Heads-Up on This Video

I do not think there is freedom of the press in America anymore, because of Marxist ideology...and neither does Bill Whittle on this video.

Reprint of Excellent Article on the Net-Gay Marriage and Ancient Rome

Several sites, including this original one and LifeSiteNews are sharing this interesting historical view of civil marriage for homosexuals. A "must-read". Link found here.

Gay Marriage—Nothing New Under the Sun

Gay marriage and homosexuality were part of the moral landscape faced by the first Christians in Ancient Rome.

By Benjamin Wiker

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 reprint
Given that the gay marriage agenda will be increasingly pressed upon Catholics by the state, we should be much more aware of what history has to teach us about gay marriage—given that we don’t want to be among those who, ignorant of history, blithely condemned themselves to repeat it.
Contrary to the popular view—both among proponents and opponents—gay marriage is not a new issue. It cannot be couched (by proponents) as a seamless advance on the civil rights movement, nor should it be understood (by opponents) as something that’s evil merely because it appears to them to be morally unprecedented.
Gay marriage was—surprise!—alive and well in Rome, celebrated even and especially by select emperors, a spin-off of the general cultural affirmation of Roman homosexuality. Gay marriage was, along with homosexuality, something the first Christians faced as part of the pagan moral darkness of their time.
What Christians are fighting against today, then, is not yet another sexual innovation peculiar to our “enlightened age,” but the return to pre-Christian, pagan sexual morality.
So, what was happening in ancient Rome? Homosexuality was just as widespread among the Romans as it was among the Greeks (a sign of which is that it was condoned even by the stolid Stoics). The Romans had adopted the pederasty of the Greeks (aimed, generally, at boys between the ages of 12 to 18). There was nothing shameful about such sexual relations among Romans, if the boy was not freeborn. Slaves, both male and female, were considered property, and that included sexual property.
But the Romans also extended homosexuality to adult men, even adult free men. And it is likely that this crossing of the line from child to adult, unfree to free—not homosexuality as such—was what affronted the more austere of the Roman moralists.
And so we hear from Tacitus (56-117 AD), the great Roman historian, of the shameful sexual exploits of a string of Roman emperors from Tiberius to Nero. Nero was the first imperial persecutor of the Christians. His tutor and then advisor was the great Stoic moralist Seneca himself. Unfortunately, Seneca’s lessons must have bounced right off the future emperor. When he took the imperial seat, complete with its aura of self-proclaimed divinity, no trace of Stoic austerity remained.
In Nero, Tacitus tells the reader, tyrannical passion, the hubris of proclaimed divinity, the corruption of power, and “every filthy depraved act, licit or illicit” seemed to reach an imperial peak. He not only had a passion for “free-born boys” but also for quite literally marrying other men and even a boy, sometimes playing the part of the woman in the union and sometimes the man.
As Tacitus relates one incident (Grant’s translation): “Nero was already corrupted by every lust, natural and unnatural. But he now refuted any surmises that no further degradation was possible for him. For…he went through a formal wedding ceremony with one of the perverted gang called Pythagoras. The emperor, in the presence of witnesses, put on the bridal veil. Dowry, marriage bed, wedding torches, all were there. Indeed everything was public which even in a natural union is veiled by night.”
Such was only one instance. We also have from historian Seutonius, a contemporary of Tacitus, a report of Nero’s marriage to Doryphorus (who was himself married to another man, Sporus).
Martial, the first-century A.D. Roman poet, reports incidences of male-male marriage as kinds of perversions, but not uncommon perversions, speaking in one epigram (I.24) of a man who “played the bride yesterday.” In another (12.42) he says mockingly, “Bearded Callistratus gave himself in marriage to…Afer, in the manner in which a virgin usually gives herself in marriage to a male. The torches shone in front, the bridal veils covered his face, and wedding toasts were not absent, either. A dowry was also named. Does that not seem enough yet for you, Rome? Are you waiting for him to give birth?”
In Juvenal’s Second Satire (117), we hear of one Gracchus, “arraying himself in the flounces and train and veil of a bride,” now a “new-made bride reclining on the bosom of her husband.” Such seems to have been the usual way of male-male nuptials among the Romans, one of the men actually dressing up as a woman and playing the part of a woman.
The notoriously debauched emperor Elagabalus (ruled 218-222) married and then divorced five women. But he considered his male chariot driver to be his “husband,” and he also married one Zoticus, an athlete. Elagabalus loved to dress up as a queen, quite literally.
Our reports of homosexual marriage from Rome give us, I hope, a clearer understanding of what is at stake. As is the case today, it appears that the incidence of male-male marriage followed upon the widespread acceptance of homosexuality; that is, the practice of homosexuality led to the notion that, somehow, homosexual unions should share in the same status as heterosexual unions.
We must also add that heterosexuality among the Romans was also in a sad state. Both concubinage and prostitution were completely acceptable; pornography and sexually explicit entertainment and speech were entirely normalized; the provision of sex by both male and female slaves was considered a duty by masters. Paeans to the glory of marriage were made, not because the Romans had some proto-Christian notion of the sanctity of marriage, but because Rome needed more citizen-soldiers just when the Romans were depopulating themselves by doing anything to avoid having children.
The heterosexual moral disrepair in Rome therefore formed the social basis for the Roman slide into homosexual marriage rites. We hear of them from critics bent on satirizing such unions. The problem for the Romans wasn’t homosexuality as such, but that a Roman man would debase himself and play the part of a woman in matrimony.
Christians had a problem with the whole Roman sexual scene. We are, of course, not surprised to find that the first Christians accepted and carried forward the strict rejection of homosexuality inherent in Judaism, but this was part of its more encompassing rejection of any sexuality outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage. Christians are not to be lauded for affirming that marriage must be defined as a union of a man and a woman, because that is the natural default of any people intent on not disappearing in a single generation. What was peculiar to Christianity (again, not just following Judaism, but intensifying it) was the restriction of sexuality only to monogamous, heterosexual marriage.
The Christians found themselves in a pagan culture where there were few restrictions on sexuality at all, other than the imagination—a culture that, to note the obvious but exceedingly important, looks suspiciously like ours.
The first-century A.D. catechetical manual, the Didache, makes refreshingly clear what pagans will have to give up, in regard to Roman sexuality, once they entered the Church. It begins with the ominous words, “There are two ways: one of life and one of death—and there is a great difference between the two ways.” The pagan converts are then confronted with a list of commands. Some of which would have been quite familiar and reasonable to Romans, such as, “You will not murder” and, “You will not commit adultery” (although for Romans, abortion wasn’t murder, and a husband having sex with slaves or prostitutes was not considered adulterous).
But then followed strange commands (at least to the Romans), “You will not corrupt boys”; “You will not have illicit sex” (ou porneuseis); “You will not murder offspring by means of abortion [and] you will not kill one having been born.” Against the norm in Rome, Christians must reject pedophilia, fornication and homosexuality, abortion, and infanticide. The list also commands, “You will not make potions” (ou pharmakeuseis), a prohibition against widespread practices in the Roman Empire which included potions that stopped conception or caused abortion.
I include the prohibitions against sexual practices heartily affirmed by the Romans alongside prohibitions against contraception, abortion, and infanticide for a very important reason. Christians defined the goal of sexuality in terms of the natural ability to procreate. What was different, again, was not recognizing the obvious need for a man and a woman to make a child—Stoics argued along the same lines. What was peculiar to Christianity was removing all other expressions of sexuality from legitimacy (many Stoic men had male paramours). The Roman elevation of sexual pleasure above procreation, and hence outside this tightly-defined area of sexual legitimacy defined by Christianity, led to the desire for contraceptive potions, abortifacients, and infanticide.
It also led to seeing marriage as nothing but an arena for sexual pleasure, which in turn allowed for an equivalency of heterosexual and homosexual marriage.
The Theodosian Code, drawn up by Christian emperors in the fifth century, A.D. made same-sex marriage illegal (referring, as precedent, to edicts published under fourth-century emperors Constantius II and Constans).
We can see, then, that Christians face nothing new in regard to the push for gay marriage. In fact, it is something quite old, and represents a return to the pagan views of sexuality that dominated the Roman Empire into which Christianity was born.
[Editor's note: The years for the reign of Elagabalus were incorrect in the original posting; his reign ended in AD 222, not AD 212.)
From Catholic World Report | Copyright © 2012 Catholic World Report All Rights Reserved.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers....

A historic event happened in Enniskillen yesterday. The Queen visited inside a Catholic Church for the first time ever. Now, I remember the Remembrance Day bombing extremely well, as I was living in England at the time, and was as shocked as most people were at the violence. The day before yesterday, the Queen shook hands with the man many think was behind the bombing, former IRA commander Martin McGuinness. Feelings still are running high, but, as I have said many times on this blog, the Irish on both sides must, must forgive and let go of violence. 

The Archbishop Primate of the Catholic Church over both Ireland and Northern Ireland, Sean Brady,  met the Queen as well. Watch the video on the above site, and here, and also read the comments from readers. The hate is too obvious. When will this hate ever be set aside? One cannot go into heaven with hate on one's heart.

And for those who state I have no right to comment so much on this, let me remind the skeptic that four people in my family were sexually abused by a priest for years and years when they were little children. These children grew up and never left the Church, raised their children Catholic, are still Catholic, and forgave all involved, including the nuns who did not believe them. These four never sued anyone. Heroic virtue...

Some are called to heroic virtue. I suggest the Irish forgive, forget, move on into the light of Christ, Who died for all of our sins.

Great Britain is "not a socialist nation"...and education

I was discussing the demise of the educational excellence of the British school system over the past 40 years, and referring to the excellence of Finland, when one of the adults in the conversation said, "But of course, Finland is a socialist country and Britain is not." I tried not to laugh out loud and was polite, but how can any English person, in this case a mum with school-age grandchildren say such a stupid thing? Great Britain has been a welfare, socialist state for several generations, since the last world war, and Finland's excellence has less to do with socialism than strict controls and unique ideas of education, sorely lacking in Great Britain. There are efforts to go back to the O-Levels. I hope this happens. But more is needed.

Now, remember, education by the State is barely over 100 years old and the State system has failed, as has the Catholic system "owned" by the State.

The Wolf Report earlier this year on vocational education was a shock to many Brits, except for those of us involved in education, at least those of us who have been honest. What has been lacking in Great Britain is a vision for education which is not merely getting everyone through the system, but with a view to excellence, the dreaded word of the socialist.

Now, remember that Hollande ran on a non-elitist campaign against private education in France. The socialist agenda does not like excellence, or a thinking public.  Puppets and "good citizens" mean a mediocre system.

That the British dumbed down their system in my life-time has left a horrible situation of basically uneducated school leavers. Of course, the proverbial elephant in the room is the fact that there are so many students who leave school at 16 knowing no trade and with extremely poor math and language skills and that this is owing to socialist ideology. The same problem happened in the United States, of course, with the preoccupation with leaving no one behind, lowering standards to meet minority needs, and undermining excellence.

Not all people have the same talents and gifts, but all can learn. As an ex-Montessori teacher, I know that all children, if presented with the right environment, can grasp maths and grammar at very early ages.  The trouble is not innate ability, but the will to create the correct type of schools and to admit that diversity, instead of uniformity, is necessary in education. Hollande's dream of giving all the students in France the same education will only create a dumb society of people who have not learned to learn and have not been encouraged in their own talents.

I have been discussing these things since the 1970s. Why does it take so long for the public to realize that the education systems of Great Britain and America have failed, a long time ago? Just look at the statistics for the last ten years. This is not rocket science. This graph is from 2010.
PISA rankings within OECD

Tuesday 26 June 2012

SSPX Updates as of June 26th, 2012

SSPX news

Six post day

Check Out the Brilliant Dr. Sanity

Dr. Sanity is brilliant this week. She should add the LWCR to her list.

And, a small concern. Why do not Catholics of a certain age not read any current events? One can hardly have a conversation on even Church teaching in the news with those who refuse to engage in the real world. We are supposed to know what is going on and we are supposed to face and deal with evil.
Is not the laity responsible for the world? Are we not, as the Pope said recently, the Church Militant?

On cows and the beyond....

Now, do I want to be buried with a cow? This is an extraordinary story of a grave found in Cambridgeshire. An Anglo-Saxon grave of a woman of considerable standing, with broaches and a set of keys, was buried in the Fifth Century, with a cow.

Now, if the cow was sacrificed to be in the grave with the woman, that is a sign of ostentatious wealth, and the PETA people would not approve. Maybe the cow fell on her and that is how she died. But, buried with her cow she was.

I find the presence of the cow rather comforting. The archaeologists are over the moon, as previous animal burials in England have been men with horses, which makes some sense. The man and horse burials indicate a military or ruler connection, whereas the cow show us a domestic connection.

Now, a Black Angus-Limousin Bull costs about $2100 right now. So, I guess that would show I had at least that much money, plus the money for feed and barn. A pair of bred cow costs $1700 in Kirksville, Missouri, not too far from home. One Angus bull and 25 cows costs about $35,000 in Iowa.

Well, money on the hoof, as we say, is a mixed blessing. But, this Anglo-Saxon matron must have loved her cow to have it buried with her. She did not leave her money to the cow, as some wealthy matrons in the States leave their money to their dogs or cats.

Still, it would have been better in a BBQ, don't you think? The archaeologists would not have such a good time, now, however. I would have let my cow live for another day.

Thoughts on this feast day of St. Josemaria Escriva

Today is the feast day of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. Now, a disclaimer, I am not a member of Opus Dei. However, I have read most of Escriva's works and have used them for prayer and meditation in the past. Many of his prayers and thoughts show his personal holiness. I know he has had many prestigious critics; a examination of these is not the venue of this post. However, I want to mention how Opus Dei manages to become, at regular intervals, a lightening rod of anti-Catholicism, despite the saintliness of its founder. I have a theory about this aggregation of negativity which seems to happen in certain circles in a timely manner. Here is my theory, which has three points.

First, organizations which actually "do" something and get things done either spiritually or materially, are highly criticized either because of envy of power in areas of the Church, the worst case scenario, or just plain ignorance. Opus Dei seems private and secretive to a point of mystery to many, not myself, as I really have not looked into the movement except for reading Escriva, going to some talks with women friends of mine several years ago, and having mutual friends who are in Opus Dei, I do not care for gossip. There are many societies in the Church which have less than open membership, or have low-key memberships. Not all members of any given group are the same in temperament or activity. Some Opus Dei people may not like the EF, some may. Is this not a smaller manifestation of opinions in the larger Church? If something like a dislike of the EF becomes a ruling ideology of a group, then there is a problem. Spurious comments do not help.

Either facts are real and provable, or the opinion of this old Midwesterner is MYOB. If a group decides to be quiet or even somewhat secretive about certain aspects, does it matter? Unless there is abuse, one should error on the side of trust. However, the human mind likes mystery and darkness and the stuff of gossip. Some myths die hard, such as those relating to the old Jesuits.

Anti-Catholicism is rife in both America and in England. I imagine it is in other places as well. That those who engage in Anti-Catholicism need a locus of attention does not surprise me. That Opus Dei provides this focal point of attention, collecting myth with facts, does not surprise me. I would only hope that allegations of anything, from mismanagement of monies, to suppression of individual rights, to hatred of the Traditional Latin Mass, would be discussed openly by all involved. Innuendo adds to the mystique of Opus Dei and does not help its cause, nor the cause of the Catholic Church. We are all working for the same goal-the salvation of souls.

Another point has to do with roles of men and women. Herein I think lies the real hatred of Opus Dei. Traditional roles of women is a teaching in the Church much larger than any one group, at least in America, where there are many more stay-at-home moms then in European countries, for some reasons we could discuss here. I think this is an argument which transcends culture and has to do with the over-influence of radical feminism and the contraceptive culture in the Church.

The last point has to do with the suspicion of zeal or "enthusiasm". In England, for example, since the Civil War, enthusiasm in religion has been judged as not only anti-intellectual, but dangerous and to be avoided. The ideal of the via media has affected not only liturgy and doctrine, but personal religious practices. I think the Spanish zeal is misunderstood in some places and seen as excessive rather than normal. I do not know what these critics would think of St. John of the Cross, or St. Teresa of Avila, for example. We not all the same in our way to God. The penances of Opus Dei have been a discussion for years. So be it. Thomas More wore a hair shirt, and if there was ever a time which needed penances which were beyond what most people would be willing to endure, this is the time. Perhaps, that is part of the problem. Some Catholics are in denial of the need for serious religion, but being different, for penance.

Those who have been members and have left, have spoken to me of no coercion or pressure, only a way of life and a commitment they could not follow. Would that all on the outside would be so measured and fair. Comments would be welcomed.

On St. Irenaeus, the New Gnosticism, and the Codex Tchacos

Those of us who actually have studied history and religion, if not theology or philosophy, as I have been so fortunate to have done and still do, know that there is more historical evidence for Christ than for Julius Caesar and other greats. Sometimes, I admit to an impatience with those who so desire to debunk Christianity as some medieval plot to take fun and independence away from humans--a curse only to be thrown-off at the Enlightenment again. When a feast day like one this week, that of St. Irenaeus of Lyons occurs, I want to jump up and down crying "See, it was all there, early on, folks."

Irenaeus wrote Against the Heresies, (among other things) and the world has copy of a reference in his work on parchment. Irenaeus died in 202 and probably knew St. Polycarp, the student of St. John the Apostle. Irenaeus is famous not only for his warning against Gnosticism, but for his teaching on Mary, the Blessed Virgin and other writings.

Irenaeus's treatise mentioned above, refers most likely to this Codex Tchacos, now in Texas, which includes the false Gospel of Judas, a Gnostic work, among other apocryphal, specifically Gnostic texts. This has not been proven as the same one mentioned in a list of St. Irenaeus, but scholars still are discussing this fragment. Gnosticism and Arianism proved to be the two greatest threats to the Church until modern times with Modernism and Marxism looming in the 19th Century, plaguing us to this day.

That we have so much historical evidence for Christianity is the direct result of the glory of the Incarnation, denied by false religions as well as atheists and new critical scholars. St. Irenaeus would not be pleased with the fact that the New Age Gnostics have picked up on this Gospel of Judas and used it for their own purposes. One only needs to mention the National Geographic presentation on this. Here is linked an interesting commentary on the book by April DeConick, the scholar who criticized the entire handling in the media of the manuscript in 2006-2007. What those scholars are arguing about is exactly a new Gnosticism criticizing the Canon of Scripture and the authority of the Catholic Church. Sigh, this is the never-ending story.

Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, True God and True Man, is honored today through St. Irenaeus.  Dear Saint, pray for us in these confusing times, to instruct the ignorant and correct those in error. Above all, give us patience.