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Monday 31 December 2012

Well, yet another Gramsci post; without the Spirit, the intellect stagnates and dies

Did philosophers and revolutionaries honestly believe that humans can be intellectuals without the life of the Spirit? Did and do they honestly want a better life while denying the soul?

Some critics of the Church since the Enlightenment state that the teachers and Popes did not address the modern issues of politics, science and modernism. This is a misunderstanding of the times and the teachings. Since the publication of Marx and Engels, the Church has been on the offensive, not the defensive regarding teaching concerning the effects of tyrannies, the materialists dialectic and the supposed war between the classes. All the popes since 1848 have addressed these ideologies. The problem has been in the implementation at the local levels of the clarity of the Teaching Magisterium.

Why? Many priests fell into error and carried those errors into the pulpit for the last two-hundred years. Many priests and even bishops themselves were and are communists and push for that version of a world-view, based on materialism, rather the the spiritual message of the Kingdom of God.

As laity, it is our duty to take care of our brothers and sisters in poverty or troubles.

Gramsci was clear that the Church was the only institution to understand what he and other revolutionaries wanted in the culture wars and the destruction of Western civilization, itself created largely by Christendom.

Here is one of  his quotations. Gramsci understood that both Faith and Reason were held together in the Catholic Church, that Revelation and the Teaching Magisterium provided a cohesive block against the fragmentation of society.

The strength of religions, and of the Catholic Church in particular, has lain, and still lies, in the fact that they feel very strongly the need for the doctrinal unity of the whole mass of the faithful and strive to ensure that the higher intellectual stratum does not get separated from the lower. The Roman church has always been the most vigorous in the struggle to prevent the “official” formation of two religions, one for the “intellectuals” and the other for the “simple souls” … That the Church has to face up to a problem of the “simple” means precisely that there has been a split in the community of the faithful. This split cannot be healed by raising the simple to the level of the intellectuals  .... but only by imposing an iron discipline on the intellectuals so that they do not exceed certain limits of differentiation and so render the split catastrophic and irreparable. 

Catholic intellectuals, including the laity, have a duty to combat the lies of the ideologies which have almost overcome the concepts of freedom and individualism. Our definition of the individual is not that of the socialist.  We are unique creatures, each one having a purpose, not to be subsumed by the bloated government. 

Those who are the enemy delight in the fragmentation of society, and society is built on natural, moral law and not the laws of men. This is the key to the strength of the Church...that we have recognized that man-made structures are doomed to tyranny and/or chaos.

Tyranny will come to America and chaos to Europe for the purposeful loss of the culture wars has occurred. 

That Gramsci only saw the discipline of the Church as evil, rather than a guideline of the Holy Spirit intended to persevere Truth mirrors his own lack of Faith and Reason. 

The man or woman who will not bend to God, will not bend to the Church. Humility in scholarship is key.

We are on the edge, as most people will choose material comfort over truth. This is the sad decline of the human spirit. The remnant Church holds the real intellectual unity of a society, which Gramsci wanted through his groups of intellectuals at all levels.

Of course, this burgeoning of intellectual life has not happen, and in fact, societies are less intellectual now than in the recent past. Atheism makes one closed to the entire spiritual world, and therefore, the world of creativity and newness.

There has been a split in the Church, but not the one mentioned in the above quotation. The real split is between those who see the Spirit working in the Church and those who want to make the Church into their own image and likeness, into their own ideological institution. Hence, the liberal intellectuals have sold out to the Gramscian ideal of "intellectualism" but separated from the soul.

This state in a person or government is suicide. The intellectual gifts are connected to the spirit of man and woman, to the soul, to prayer and illumination.

Gramsci's material mind-set could not imagine an institution which is actually empowered by  GOD HIMSELF.  That the Trinity dwells in each baptized Catholic and that there is insight and intellectual freedom partly defines us as made in the image and likeness of God.

Gramsci wanted men and women to be made in his image and likeness--and that is the primal sin of the angels; I will not serve.

Without the Holy Spirit and the individual free spirit of men and women, the intellect dies.

We are in that stage of Western Civilization. At the end of the year, we can only look forward to making ourselves and our families strong against the Gale of Stupidity and Barbarism which will engulf some reading this in their lifetime.

The passing of a year

For some, the passing of the year is a sad time, as the dying year brought love and life. Sometimes a fear or dread of the future covers this day and evening. Some go to parties or dances to celebrate a new year of life and light. Some go to forget a painful year. Some just go for the diversion. But, at the passing of 2012, I think most Americans can stop and think that as Catholics we have lost the culture war and must try either to regain our battle strategies, or, choose another path of resistance to the growing evil. That evil is growing can only be denied by those who will go out tonight for diversion from the pain of reality. Christ lived in real time and real history. He is the God-Man who came into time to redeem the time and us, as well as all of nature. If we cooperate with Christ's grace and vision and truth, this day would mean another time of reflection and a hope for new life. New life most probably will not be material. New life must be spiritual and interior. This day, stop and have an examination of conscience. Look at the good and bad of the year and resolve to pray more, adore more, and allow Christ to change you, so that you can face the years to come. These will not be pleasant.

The Generation Gaps

Entering a new year, in which a few days I shall have a birthday,and meeting wonderful people who have family and love each other across four generations, I am struck by the numerous generation gaps. The gaps are not based on age but on experience and technology. I have friends in their sixties and seventies who are on line, on facebook, read blogs, text and email each other. I have other friends in the same age group who do none of these things. Sadly, they are cut off from a generation or three who communicate using technology...but more than that, these good people are unaware of a strong conservative movement which is both political and religious. More and more international contacts are "on the same page" in these spheres. The dangers to the Catholic Faith, especially the clergy, and the real enemies of national identities and freedom control the traditional media. Herein lies the "knowledge gap". This is a huge part of the generation gaps....where we find truth or lies...where we encourage truth. The remnant Church in all countries of our glorious universal Church need to band together. Ironically, even the international groups of anarchists are more united than some Catholics.

The Masterpiece in Malta-The Beheading of St. John the Baptist by Caravaggio

Sunday 30 December 2012

Yes the new conservatives

Well, at a great party this evening, I met yet another youth of this post-Gen X generation which encourages me. He is the same smart young man like those I met in Ireland whose eyes are open to what is really happening both politically and financially in Europe and America. A glimmer of hope for Malta...I wish the Church would wake up here to the evils of socialism and relativism.

Friendship in Malta

Maltese people are so friendly. I made friends last time I was here and am making new friends. In such a small country, friendship and family form the basis of a cohesive society. I sincerely hope this never changes here, but I am afraid it is. There are so many wonderful Catholics here, generous and noble and loving.

Like all nations, there has to be a basis on national pride and national feeling. Now, the Maltese people have a noble past, especially regarding the winning of the Siege of Malta against foes far greater than themselves.

The nobility of the men has passed down, but I am concerned that the same type of watering down of masculinity which has happened in America and Great Britain, in Eire and in France, is happening here.

This is the emergence of the Peter Pan men. Those men who do not grow up and do not want to take responsibility learn to opt-out at an early age.

Why is another question, but the what is clear. Last year, I noted that Malta is a matriarchy. That is, the women seem to be in control of the families. This is not always the case, but in many families, as I have been told by the men, this is so.

That the new generation of young men may not be inheriting the great genes of the warriors who were victors in the Siege is a growing threat. Watch the upcoming elections. See what happens and how youth vote.

One of my young friends here who is a bright, thinking Catholic said yesterday that his generation does not think. We had a short conversation about the busyness of youth-going here and going there. That these youth have friends is great (the culture is an extrovert culture) but that social life and distractions take them away from prayer and family is sad.

As in Eire, the adult appropriation of the Faith is rare here. That adults sailed on into their middle years in Ireland without making a serious, mature commitment to the Church is happening here. One cannot take for granted that a socialist run country will preserve the Church's teaching in the schools, or in the market-place.

Again, I return to a theme of this blog from day one. All Catholics must learn how to think like Catholics, and not socialist, not Marxists, not relativists.

The future of the culture-war has been lost in the States. I hope it is not lost here in vibrant Malta.

The Theotokos

Tomorrow, starting at Vespers, in the States, it is the Feast of the Theotokos, the Mother of God, the God-bearer. This is my favourite feast day of Mary. That is bore God in her womb changed the world, changed the horror of our loss of the Face of God into the joy of the possibility of seeing and living in the Beatific Vision.

This day also commemorates one of the oldest titles of Mary, granted to her at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Truly God and Truly Man, Christ is her Son. She is His Mother.

The Catholic Byzantines have many beautiful hymns to Mary. Here is one for a small reflection. And, the Vladimir Madonna is my favourite icon.


In You, O Woman, Full of Grace,
the angelic choirs and the human race -
all creation rejoices! All creation rejoices!
O Sanctified Temple, Mystical Paradise and
Glory of Virgins, He, Who is our God, from
before all ages, took flesh from You and became
a child! He made Your womb a throne! A throne
greater than the heavens! In You, O Woman,
Full of Grace, In You, O Woman, Full of Grace,
all creation rejoices, all creation rejoices! All
praise be to You! All praise be to You! All
praise be to you!

Sunday Sermon

Today, it is more important than ever that I shall my Sunday sermon experience. The priest who said the Mass at St. John's Co-Cathedral noted that today, on the Feast of the Holy Family, that parents should make the home a place of  (GET READY FOR THIS) silence and composure.

I could not believe it, but was so delighted with his admonition, that I think I wished I had the computer out taking notes.

The Canon stated that the family must be a place which is conducive to the growth of the Catholic Faith.

Wow. And, this is so true. That, unless the Faith is preserved and encouraged in the family, it will die.

Not only is prayer important, and the sacramental life essential, but the entire atmosphere should allow for reflection.

His ideas fit neatly into the post from earlier today wherein I stressed that the laity must also pursue perfection as well as the religious person. We cannot believe the lies of some of the clergy from the past 50 years, a Siren's call which allowed the laity to be content with a second-class citizenship of holiness. This attitude, so often given in the Confessional,  (not by the excellent priests in Bayswater, by the way, who are great). That priests have encouraged sins, such as contraception, is documented and witnessed by some many of the laity. One cannot be holy and commit mortal sin.

The Canon this morning pointed to this haven of a home of silence and composure. What does this mean in practical terms for us?

One, simplifying life. The kids do not have to do everything.

Two, simplifying life. You do not have to own everything or have the perfect living room or state-of-the-art kitchen.

Three, simplifying life. Mom stays at home and you all take a lower standard of living.

Four, being orthodox in your beliefs; that is, conforming your minds, hearts and souls to the Church.

Five, not having a television, or at least, restricting viewing. We did not have one in my little family and we learned to have times of silence.

Six, why silence? One cannot hear God, nor experience the movements of the Holy Spirit in noise.

Seven, why composure? Anger and hatred, rudeness and lack of manners have no place in the home. The world needs yet more gentlemen and gentle ladies. Composure in a home creates an atmosphere of peace so that children may grow up in respect and love. Noise is not respectful.

That this priest could see the problem is a grace for us and him. Let us all pray how to make our homes places of silence and composure so that the children can learn to hear God and not the noise of the world.

St. John the Baptist went into the desert. So did Christ and St. Paul. Our homes can be "desert homes".

Create a place where holiness and perfection can take root and grow.

New Years Eve

Monday 31st December 2012 at 17:30
Monday 31st December 2012 at 17.30 hrs Te Deum Mass by the Archbishop of Malta Mgr Paul Cremona OP and the Rev Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter.

All the news, even on Drudge

A small victory against the idealism of stealing, which some people call socialism.

In Malta, two

I shall only be here a week. I came for a job interview which did not happen. This is Malta. It is a strange combination of European materialism, where youth talk about things, movies, games, and never ideas (except for some of the seminarians I have met), and a northern Africa culture of "whatever". Sadly, the evils of modern life have undermined so many Catholic ideals here that I doubt whether anyone would say that Malta was Catholic is principles. New elections are looming and the conservatives are concerned that yet another leftist government will take over. Here is a piece from the BBC article on the event.

Parliament will be dissolved on 7 January and new elections are set to be held in early March, Mr Gonzi told journalists. Mr Gonzi, a lawyer by profession, had been in power since 2004. His 2013 budget proposal was defeated after Franco Debono, a member of the ruling Nationalist Party, withdrew his support for the bill. The move was in protest over the government's decision to hand the management of Malta's bus service to a German operator, among other issues. The Nationalist Party has governed Malta since 1987, apart from 1996-1998 when Labour was in power. Mr Gonzi took office in March 2004, just before the small Mediterranean state entered the EU. Four years later, his party won re-election by 0.5% of the votes cast, the slimmest margin in Malta's four-decade history. The nation of 419,000 people gained independence from Britain in 1964.

In Malta

The moon is just past full and orange over Malta as I write this . The sun sets very quickly here and the air cools down too fast for my liking. I was last here almost exactly one year ago. I left in December and I am returning in December. A type of symmetry surrounds this visit, and I am meeting new friends as well as old ones. This time, I hope to see where St. Paul was actually shipwrecked, but the Maltese person who is my host has never been there himself, so we shall see.

When I lived in Malta for a short few months last year (how time flies), I did not see all the great historical sites, although I was fortunate to see many. One of the highlights from last year was the underground cemetery of the Capuchins in Floriana. Only a few times a year do they have open day, and I was there on one of those days. The museum holds treasures from the time of the ancient Maltese people to the present day. The priest who gave the tour last year was an expert in both local and European history. What a treat! The churches in Malta are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. And, as I have a special love for St. John the Baptist, I can hardly wait to revisit the Co-Cathedral in Valletta.

The great masterpiece of Caravaggio, the beheading of John the Baptist is there, as well as one of Caravaggio’s St. Jeromes. Last year, I was here in the autumn and throughout Advent. So, I have missed Christmas again in Malta, but, perhaps next year. I had a great Christmas in London, which is a city I love, even though it has changed so much since I lived there in the 1980s. However, I feel strangely a home in London, whereas Malta is a foreign country despite the Western places, like shops and restaurants. One noticeable change is that inflation has horribly hit the stores and prices of things.

Real Estate is up as well from last year. Another noticeable thing here in Malta, and one may question this, is the feminization of the younger men. I was out latish with a friend and we saw many, many groups of drunken young men in the St. Julian's area. The styles of clothing for men under a certain age are gangsta plus lots of jewellery. It is not stylish and not British, but then Malta is not British any more. One can go all day and not hear English spoken. God makes new doughnuts everyday.

Thoughts on Sunday morning

When I was in the monastery, I was allowed time for reading and personal discernment. I read many books, mostly on the nature of the religious life and the way of perfection. As a person seriously considering and being considered, I had to write notes to Mother Prioress on my progress. We only spoke rarely, but it is the duty of the postulant or seeker to share insights and problems. However, for that order, as explained to me, the Rule of St. Benedict lived daily provides discernment, as well. If one manages to live by the Rule and is inspired by the Holy Spirit the Rule is actually a daily way of examination of conscience which happens immediately, all day long. For me, obedience was not difficult. But, God deals directly with a person under obedience in two ways. One way is directly through the Rule and, in one's superior. The second way of obedience is through one's direct relationship with God especially in deep prayer. The Tyburn order has the great advantage of daily long hours of Adoration, providing time for the postulant to wait on God for insights and direction. Lectio Divina and one's personal reading and to spiritual growth and formation. A lay person seeking this perfection, which we are all called to do, must do. to be continued... By the way, I heard a fantastic sermon this morning which I shall share in the next post.

Saturday 29 December 2012

No soft words

Many apologies for no lovely photos. As some know, I am blogging from my cell, and searching for art is just too tedious today. However, I shall be back to the land of laptops tomorrow. One theme which strikes me more and more from the Scriptures is the phrase "The kingdom of God is at hand and the violent are taking it by storm." Matthew's passage was the subject of a phenomenal sermon I heard years ago in the States by a Jesuit. Most commentators take Christ's words as negative. However, as I wrote here before, I think this zealous priest's interpretation as well as my take on it make it a rallying cry for this generation of seminarians. Not since the times of Recusancy in England and Eire have we had such an oppressive culture regarding religion...the True Religion, which is the Catholic Faith. Young men entering seminaries today know they are of the age of the martyrs. They will not be preaching merely by words but by imprisonment and even death. They and lay folks who know the times are doing violence to themselves, allowing God to purify them and make them perfect...allowing purgation to make them new. This time of hatred for the Church involves almost every country under heaven, as the many enemies both within and without the Church conspire against Truth. As the good Jesuit said so many years ago, fast, pray, accept hardship and suffering not choose the easy way and you will take the Kingdom by storm in this world and in the next.

Those who are stuck...let go

Were people at the time of Christ less or more traumatized by life than so many people are now? Rome was a harsh taskmaster and the Herods so nasty that Caesar stated that it was safer to be a pig in the court rather than a son, as the Jews did not eat pork but Herod had killed seven of his own sons. We must get beyond the language of victimhood and start realizing that our times reflect but one century of violence, wars and domestic displacement. I went to visit a woman I know who had an abusive past life. She did not want to talk to me and has lived in chaos by a sad decision to go over her pain again and again, choosing to live stuck in the far past. Another woman I know talks incessently about her horrible first husband. These Catholics refuse to do one thing...forgive. We are a squeamish three generations. We focus so often on hurts instead of healing. I want to say to three friends of mine "Do you want to be identified by someone else's sin against you?" We are not to be defined by those who do evil. We are defined by Christ Who loved us enough to take our pain onto Himself so that we can be free. We can choose freedom. I want to say to three friends in particular CHOOSE FREEDOM. Choose life. Choose love.

The Holy Spirit and the Narrow Way

I had a fascinating discussion with a young person who wanted to know what to do about getting youth to be open to religion and Christ. This conversation was preceeded in twenty-four hours by another youth wanting to know how to bring Christ and morality into the arts. This discussion was the second in a series, which included a medical student relating the entire lack of religion in her peer group. Another young person wanted to know what to give for reading material for Catholics surrouded by pagans. In all these cases, the young people thought that using the attractive methods of teaching and psychology, and even other religions would be useful. I am convinced that things of the world only help the believer. Compromise confuses most people who cannot sort or sift or string ideas or events into a pattern. Conversion is like the the surgeon's knife, not like an afternoon on at the lake. Christ is the Narrow Way to Truth and salvation. Nothing can steal the basic Gospel message. Compromise confuses people. The way to destroy relativism is not with more but with total conviction of the heart, mind and soul. I do not think we have time to engage the world.

Those who can

Have you ever been in a situation where you had no idea what was going on as your usual modes of prudence and discrimination were simply not meeting the need of the moment? This is my present experience. We are so used to getting expert opinions in areas where we do not have expertise that it is an amazing event when experts are absent....Think about this. What if all the problem solvers in the world, the engineers, car mechanics farmers, computer geeks, technicians, doctors, priests, teachers were gone? It is many people cannot think.

Friday 28 December 2012

CCC not me

Why is it that when I quote the CCC and the teachings of the Church clearly that some commentators get angry, with me? Odd.

Financial reading between the lines

I have been reading articles on the end of year financial data in Europe regarding unemployment and inflation, as well as new taxes in such countries as France.

What is interesting is the false cause and effect of so many of these articles.

The call of Mr. Béharel for youth and parents to think of blue collar jobs rather than white collar jobs is a joke when businesses which are blue collar are closing at an alarming rate.

The connection between the lack of the youth workforce, owing to years of contraception and abortion, and the aging groups needing socialist care is overlooked entirely. A top heavy population of older persons and the years of selective birthing is never mentioned by these pundits. Bad decisions regarding the radical left's desire for a socialist agenda are never examined. One cannot believe the naivete of the following statement:

France, of course, is not alone in the mire. Latest figures for the eurozone revealed record unemployment levels of 11.7 percent, with a total of 18.7 million out of work.
Although the situaton in France is nowhere near as dire as in Spain, where 26.2 percent of adults are out of work, it has placed the Socialist government under immense pressure after only seven months in office.
The government has not been helped by the fact that companies, including car giant PSA Peugot-Citroen, delayed the announcement of their much-feared redundancy plans until after last spring's elections.

Mass job cuts are expected to continue into 2013.
According to the country’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), 75,000 jobs will be lost in the first six months of 2013, half of which will be in industry.
INSEE expects the unemployment rate to reach 10.9 percent by the middle of 2013, the highest rate since 1997.

Socialists desire to control a populace through cradle to grave care based on an economic system of controlling all aspects of production. That the irony of this position escapes journalists makes one wonder whether any major news source in Europe has the guts to question socialism as a system, period. Where are the real examinations of cause and effect occurring in journalism?

Even in Great Britain, a country holding its own outside the eurozone, the concept of capitalism is criticized without thinking---that a free market, with some legal restrictions, can only create wealth is a discussion not seen at all in the press. I guess stealing is in and working is out.

I saw this is Eire recently, when youth and older people told me that working is not worth the effort. One can live comfortably on the dole. The shops in Dublin and other places are full of Poles and others who are willing to work for lower wages rather than not work at all. I got tired of hearing excuses from young people who have enough money on the dole to smoke and go to the pub on a regular basis. Then, the press decries the growth of depression among the youth. Hey, look at the cause and effect, journalists.

Europe has created a monster of a generation of anarchists who expect to be cared for without giving to the societies in which they live.  There is a European Lost Generation, not merely because of high unemployment owing to bad socialist policies for years, high taxes and high inflation, but the irresponsible greed of the early 2000s boom times, when some businesses, such as construction, borrowed money without any long-term plan of paying back loans. Over 700,000 houses need to be sold in Spain alone, and house prices in Eire will plummet this coming year, as thousands of properties remain empty. In the meantime, social programs abound. Common sense is out the window, being pushed out by ideology.

As far as I know, Greece still does not have property taxes for any home owners in the entire country and yet demand that the other EU countries help it out of bankruptcy. 

The entire situation reminds me of parents who complain how badly their children behave without any attempt to discipline them. Cause and effect....

Anarchy is popular because it takes away personal responsibility. That the movement is growing indicates that the narcissism of family planning and the entitlement mentality has created this monster of complete individualistic, non-communal concern.  Cause and one writes about this. Why?

We Catholics know who the ultimate Anarchist is...he is a person and has a name. He, like his followers, refuses to serve none but himself. He is the enemy of mankind and the cause of chaos.

This cause and effect is never, never approaches in the secular or even religious press. Narcissism is satanic.

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today is Childermas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, who among all children, died for the sake of Christ. They have been honoured for centuries as those innocents who died because of Christ. Herod specifically wanted to kill Christ and those children died in place of the Christ Child, who was saved by Joseph's obedience to the angelic dream.

Again, in these sad times, one must make the distinction between victims of abortion and martyrs. On this day of the Holy Innocents, some pro-lifers want to canonize all those babies murdered by abortion.

This cannot be done. Baptism means something. Baptism takes away Original Sin and makes each one who is baptized a child of God.

We are not children of God without baptism. Here is part of the CCC on baptism:

1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua),4 and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."5
1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature."6
1215 This sacrament is also called "the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit," for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of God."7
1216 "This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding . . . ."8 Having received in Baptism the Word, "the true light that enlightens every man," the person baptized has been "enlightened," he becomes a "son of light," indeed, he becomes "light" himself:9
Baptism is God's most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . .We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own;grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God's Lordship.10
Prefigurations of Baptism in the Old Covenant
1217 In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, during the blessing of the baptismal water, the Church solemnly commemorates the great events in salvation history that already prefigured the mystery of Baptism:
Father, you give us grace through sacramental signs,
which tell us of the wonders of your unseen power.In Baptism we use your gift of water,
which you have made a rich symbol
of the grace you give us in this sacrament.11
1218 Since the beginning of the world, water, so humble and wonderful a creature, has been the source of life and fruitfulness. Sacred Scripture sees it as "overshadowed" by the Spirit of God:12
At the very dawn of creation
your Spirit breathed on the waters,
making them the wellspring of all holiness.13
1219 The Church has seen in Noah's ark a prefiguring of salvation by Baptism, for by it "a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water":14
The waters of the great flood
you made a sign of the waters of Baptism,
that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness.15
1220 If water springing up from the earth symbolizes life, the water of the sea is a symbol of death and so can represent the mystery of the cross. By this symbolism Baptism signifies communion with Christ's death.
1221 But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation wrought by Baptism:
You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh,
bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea,
to be an image of the people set free in Baptism.16
1222 Finally, Baptism is prefigured in the crossing of the Jordan River by which the People of God received the gift of the land promised to Abraham's descendants, an image of eternal life. The promise of this blessed inheritance is fulfilled in the New Covenant.

A martyr may achieve holiness through baptism of blood and baptism of desire. But, a baby is not capable of making that decision, which is made for him at baptism by his parents and godparents. All of us at this time in history most likely have grandchildren or neices and nephews who are not baptized. This causes great suffering in the families.

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.61 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.62 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like thedesire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

We can hope, but hope only without knowing.

We cannot contradict the wisdom of the Church to salve our own consciences or limit pain.

One gets sanctifying grace from the sacraments. There is no other way.

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

The grief and pain of siblings and sons and daughters falling away from the Faith is compounded by the fact that so many of these parents say "Let the children decide when they are older". These parents have forgotten their own great graces of growing up as children of God and living in a state of virtue. 

Now, they deny these benefits to their own children. 

Pray for vocations, please

Colwich Abbey Benedictines

I hope to do a series on art and beauty, which I promised over a week ago, but I am bogged down mentally with the ideas of purification and perfection. I have seven diaries from being in the Monastery, which I cannot get to at this time, as I have been so busy. However, I can hopefully in the New Year get back on track.

Vacations seem to get more complicated and less relaxing. Perhaps it is because of my peripatetic lifestyle. But, writing for me is the product of hours of prayer and reading and I find the interaction with lovely guests is good, but not conducive to reflection.

One of the problems with the monasteries I have visited over the last two years is that the number of nuns is too small to accommodate the number of visitors and retreatants. The Benedictine Rule demands hospitality for anyone who drops in and I think that sometimes some of the laity do not realize that seven nuns, or five active ones and two old ones cannot take care of the needs. Bernard of Clairvaux had seven-hundred monks and lay brothers at the peak of the monastery's history, which allows for a steady stream of visitors.

We need more vocations to the religious life. There are two young ones in the Irish monastery, but they are from Nigeria. The newest one in London is from an African country as well.

Pray for vocations for monks, nuns and sisters.

We shall see monasteries closing in Europe.

Thursday 27 December 2012

On Old Men and Wizards

Some young people are not happy with the old Gandalf, (who will be much older in the next two films), and the old Radagast. This is simply a symptom of the Westerners growing lack of respect for age. In the Eastern cultures, especially pre-Marxism, the ancient ones are revered.  That young viewers want young wizards is odd to me. The Istari are ancient anyway, and so who cares if they look old.  It is a serious lack of sensitivity to want wizards to look 35 or 40 and be super strong. That is not the point of a wizard to be a superhero, but to watch, wait and give advice.

Sigh, old is good.

On those who claim they have no dogmas....

Dogma is actually the only thing that cannot be separated from 
education. It IS education. A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply
 a teacher who is not teaching. There are no uneducated people; 
only most people are educated wrong. The true task of culture
 today is not a task of expansion, but of selection-and rejection.

The educationist must find a creed and teach it.

Lying about vocations

Why are so many Catholics in the pew lying to themselves about the future of their own parishes and access to the sacraments?

When I hear that in my home diocese in 2015, only 15 priests will be available to minister to 110,000 Catholics or so, I am concerned. When I hear that some dioceses in England and Wales have only two to four seminarians in the process of becoming priests, I am concerned. When I see hundreds of parishes closing in the States and know that such a plan to close parishes is underway in Europe, I am concerned.

Those who suffer most will be the elderly, who now walk to Mass or take a bus, or somehow get to the closest church weekly. Those who have been most faithful will suffer most.

But, here is my dilemma, my question--why are their not vocations coming out of the Traditional Latin Mass congregations? I know of several groups of TLM parishes where perhaps one young man is considering the FSSPs or the Institute of Christ the King. I know of several where there are no young men considering vocations. None. Why do not the TLM young men consider the diocesan priesthood, where the TLM is becoming more accessible and where they will be able to say such a sublime Mass?

Why? Why is it that the TLM is not calling forth the numbers of priests one would expect from such parishes or chaplaincies?

Reader feedback, please.....

Adoration and Holy Communion

Before and after receiving Holy Communion, the laity must be doing only one thing. Adoring Christ.

In the NO, this is almost impossible with the constant movement and lack of respect, as well as banal songs, which mark so many parishes.

I suggest that liturgical leaders recognize that silence or a simple organ instrumental piece allows the faithful to pray and adore God both before and after receiving Our Lord.

The amount of distractions causes many pain. But, the reality is that the angels and saints fall in adoration at the Eucharist.

As to the laity, the position of adoration opens our hearts and minds to God.

If you are in a position in your parish to create an atmosphere of adoration, please help us all in this regard.

The Night Sky in December

Iowa, where my family lives, has had snow. Five inches with ice underneath means that many older people have trouble getting about..

Here, the weather has turned colder and the raindrops are large and cold. The few balmy days around Christmas seem to have turned. But, January is on the way.

If one can be in an area which is clear, a spectacular heavenly event may be seen. Jupiter is next to the Moon in the early hours of the morning providing a great reason to either stay up or get up early.

I mentioned the Summer Circle earlier this year and now I draw your attention to the Winter Circle.

Two nights ago, despite some clouds, I could see the brightest of these stars. I suggest a look. Orion is up and huge, the constellation of Christmas, the Hunter, called Strider, and therefore, as I have noted before here, a reference Tolkien put into his character of Aragorn, one of the three Christ figures in LOTR.

Remember that stars twinkle in the sky and planets do not. The full moon is tomorrow and this is a great time to look at the Winter Circle if you can look south to south west, then west, over the hours of the night.

Check out this site on a regular basis

The Hobbit

I saw The Hobbit this evening and I shall not spoil it for anyone, but here are some interesting notes from my point of view. Happily, I got a discount.

First, it is more like Tolkien, in that the pace is slower and more like a book.

Second, the character development is better than in LOTR  most likely because it is a smaller book divided into three movies.

Third, it is violent and children should not see it under 12 or 13.

Four, it is not a chick-flick, but aimed at men, which is also true to Tolkien in some ways, although the book was written for children.

Five, the ads and trailers for other movies are horrendous and inappropriate for kids.

Six, the music and songs are true to the book and add a lot to the story.

Seven, Martin Freeman steals the show, hands down.

Eight, Galadriel is more like the character in the book, simply because the actress is older and was too young for the first three movies, as Galadriel, as we know, is an elf with a past and should act older and wiser.

Nine, the world of Middle Earth seems less mythical and more like a real world, as Tolkien intended.

Ten, the images are scary and again, not for children under 12.

Nostalgia and Music Two

In my thoughts about concerts I had attended in the 1960s and 1970s, I remembered hearing John Denver, going with one of my brothers to a homecoming concert, and mortifying him as everyone thought I was his date. I did not mind, as I was/am eight years older and having fun.

John Denver died in a Rutan Long-EZ experimental plane, which he probably could not handle. He was alone and the accident was horrible. As you all know, the singer was relatively young when the accident happened. "Stay in the state of grace", my Grandma T. use to say. She was right. If he were living, he would be coming up to 69 at the end of December.

Purity of heart and how we see others.

If one does not understand the evil in one's own heart, one cannot pursue perfection.

"Every fairytale needs a good old-fashioned villain. You need me, or you're nothing."

Moriarty to Sherlock "The Reichenbach Fall".

I mentioned before the Sherlock series. I want to note the last episode of the previous year, as it is a study in evil. This is the episode wherein Moriarty and Sherlock meet "on the falls", in this case on top of a building.

But, the study in evil is what builds up to Moriarty's suicide and Sherlock's apparent demise, which we all know, is orchestrated.

Moriarty begins a campaign very sneakily to undermine Sherlock's reputation as a good person, bringing justice into the world. That the villain succeeds in telling the whole world that Sherlock is a fraud and has set up murders, kidnappings, etc., in order to create a mythology about his prowess is owing to one thing.  The latent evil in others allows them to believe evil of Sherlock. Now, the evils vary, the vices are personal to those who capitulate to Moriarty's Satanic plan.

For one person, it is envy. For another, it is pride. For another, it is hurt and revenge. Dr. Watson is the only one who believes in Sherlock to the end, as he is honest with himself about his own lack of perfection. Only those who are pure in heart can think good of others. This does mean that we do not have discernment. But, it does mean that we judge others according to the evil in our own hearts.

The object of the journey of perfection is purity of heart. If we have discovered God in our own hearts, then we see with the eyes of Christ.

To put on the mind of Christ is our goal. That the evil genius succeeds so easily is why men like Hitler and Stalin succeeded in heinous crimes. Evil cooperates with evil and good cooperates with good.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Urban Foxes, raccoons and other creatures great and small

The London Urban foxes do not look like the smaller country cousin versions. These urban opportunists are as large as a medium sized dog and at this time of year, more grey than red.

I saw one last night here in Bayswater limping with a sore paw. It was at least three feet long not counting the enormous tail. We have taken over the natural habitats of these mammals, just as in America, where the coyotes now come into some cities, as well as wolves, (which I have seen in small towns in Iowa in the winter about 12 years ago).

Men and other animals have had a love-hate relationship for centuries. However, one group is becoming extinct and does not have a replacement rate and it is not the fox family.

I know they like garbage, but I wonder if they eat pigeons?  Like raccoons in the States, these foxes can be dangerous. Animals are wild, as I remind children, not tame. Urban raccoons have lived in my home city since I have been a child. They have horrible claws and can tear up metal siding on houses to create dens in attics. Last summer, my mother was sitting on a garden bench with her neighbour, in the neighbours' back yard when it started raining baby raccoons. The mother was flinging these now weaned ones out of the attic above the ladies, heads and the young ones were flying over their heads, landing on the grass and toddling away. Then came mom....raccoons can weigh up to 40 pounds, and this maternal example was big. This was not the first time the neighbours had raccoons in the attic. Over a four year period, they had replaced aluminium siding, but the animals tore it back to get inside and have babies; and this is a huge old farmhouse.

Animals may sense that as we lose our ability to control out cities, they can reclaim lost territory....

My son was emptying garbage in DeWitt, Iowa years ago and  he was a small eleven year old. He came in and said, "Mum, there are two large, white fluffy dogs over by the dumpster." I knew these were not dogs. The snow had come, was laying about four feet and higher in drifts, and I told him to stay in the house while I went outside. Two beautiful wolves were standing about two feet from the garbage area. I yelled at them and these noble animals back off. Sadly, the pair ended up killed after a huge snowstorm hit the area and semis were in the ditches.. Animals cannot deal with highways or heavy traffic. I saw one dead on the side of the road about a month later and the other shortly  after that.

In the summer of 2010, in northern Missouri, close to the Iowa border, we saw a black bear. That is the furthest south I had ever seen one, or north, if one had seen them in the Ozarks area. The population is growing. I had seen these in northern Wisconsin, up by Rhinelander and near the Wisconsin-Minnesota border. But, to see a fair-sized bear in Missouri, scratching its back on a tree on a small farm by the side of the road was a first for me in that area.

Cougars have been coming into towns and cities in some Canadian and Northwest cities in America, and other cats are making a comeback. Bobcats had seemed to have disappeared since my adolescence in Iowa, but are now seen more commonly in areas where these have not been noticed for years. The movement of animals also has to do with the fact that less people hunt for food and that some animals are protected. Somehow, we need to find the right balance. Bobcats are beautiful animals and solitary. One rarely sees more than two. Can the elk and bison come back as well, I wonder. The deer are plentiful, and we saw them daily in DeWitt or on the outskirts.

I include an older video of Bald Eagles. My son and I have seen hundreds at one time up by Bellevue, Iowa in January. The sight is awesome.

Article states it is not clear what caused this attack

Does the secular world want to ever admit that Christians are targeted for persecution? It is the duty of Catholics to not pretend, either, and pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. The Tyburn nuns here have been asked to set up a convent in Nigeria by the Bishops. Construction of the building has begun.

LATEST UPDATE: 25/12/2012 


Gunmen kill six at Nigerian Christmas service

Gunmen kill six at Nigerian Christmas service
© AFP file photo from Christmas 2011

Gunmen attacked a church in northern Nigeria during a midnight mass on Christmas Eve, killing six people including the pastor, before setting the building ablaze, residents and police said Tuesday.

By FRANCE 24  (text)
Gunmen killed six people attending midnight mass at a church in northern Nigeria on Christmas Eve, police and residents confirmed on Tuesday.
“A group of gunmen came into the village at midnight and went straight to the church... they opened fire on them, killing the pastor and five worshippers. They then set fire to the church," said Usman Mansir, resident of Peri village, near Potiskum, the economic capital of Yobe state.
Mansir specified that a branch of the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) was the congregation that was targeted.
A senior police official in Yobe confirmed the details to AFP, but declined to be named.
Boko Haram Islamists have carried out several attacks in Yobe, which borders the state of Maiduguri, where the insurgent group is based.
The Islamists are blamed for killing hundreds of people in northern Nigeria since 2009. It was not clear who was behind the latest violence.
While Yobe's population is overwhelmingly Muslim, the commercial hub of Potiskum has a significant Christian minority. Peri is just two kilometres outside the city.

Is this the airport? A Quad-City Tradition and one reason I am in Europe

Snow would have helped the ambiance.....

On individualism and the present generation

One of the things about the present generation of youth is that they do not want to be labelled as part of any group.

They cannot identity with being Baptists, or Aristotelians, or even specific sports fans for a particular team. This is a rebellion against the previous generations' ideals of belonging to groups, which was a natural phenomenon. Two generations back, the Baby Boomers identified with a community, and this group does not, and we saw a value in groups, while this group does not. We had a community spirit in the Baby Boom generation which Gen Xers did not have. I have taught both Gen Xers and Millennials and I have great hope for the Millennials, who not only seem less materialistic, but also more capable of making an individual decision outside of a peer group. Interesting.

The Millennials, believe it or not, are less television oriented. If a community is going to grow, it will probably be outside the gate, o They are casting around for communities, They are trying to build communities from the ground-up owing to the fact that this group grew up fragmented families and non-existent communities.

The Millenials, being human, have a desire for community, but do not have the structures we had.

Any group which now exists must be built up from nothing. This is a shock to so many in my generation, where we took many different types of groupings for granted.

No more.

The virtual communities are important as so many children and young adults are only children or separated from their families.

One from my generation can only imagine what it must be like to not have the grounding of a community. I wrote in the past few weeks of my social experiences as a teen. This seems so foreign to many youth, who have never experienced organized entertainments or the surrounding formal context of such events.

This psychological situation creates both strong-minded individuals and independent minded youth, who are not looking for conformity, nor desire identification in a group.

Therefore, evangelizing this age group must include an engaging of their stark separateness.

To create communities or to seek out existing ones is the challenge of the Millennials.

To evangelize, one cannot appeal to the idea of belonging to a church or a worshipping community, as this is not a value.

To evangelize, one must encounter a need for the personal relationship each of us needs with Christ and preach to that need.

The problem is also that this generation of youth work on line, mostly, and in groups which are on line. To create a real connection to a real group is daunting. Only the courageous takes those baby steps.

End of Christmas Day

Marks and Spencers Christmas crackers are the best. We managed to get an entire desk set of crayons, paper, giant clip and other things, as well as golf tees.

The jokes also are better than in other brands.

We played a game called "Call my Bluff" and I won. It is a word game.

Well, Christmas is over for this year and a good time was had by all.

May you all have a great night with friends or family.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas, Bloggers, and other media grunts...

OK , now I have to get the turkey in the oven......

Merry Christmas to the Heroes

I want to say Merry Christmas to all the heroes:

for the grandparents, who have passed down the Faith in the families;

for the grandparents who pray hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament for their families;

for the dads who sacrifice hours to be with the kids;

for the dads who sacrifice plum careers to put family first;

for the moms who do millions of unsung things for the family;

for the moms who stay at home and choose a lower standard of living to home school the kids;

for the kids who obey and honour their parents;

for the kids who love their siblings more than themselves;

for the single parents, who, through no fault of their own, must be both dad and mom;

for the priests, who work so hard in the holidays, taking on extra confession times and Masses;

for the priests who do not see their families until after Christmas and who sometimes have no place to go;

for the singles, who are good, practicing  even holy Catholics, who are lonely, looking for good Catholic mates, that St. Joseph will hear their prayers today;

for pro-life workers and counsellors, for your love and care and prayers and hours of vigils outside;

for the seminarians, who are entering, studying, knowing they are in the age of the martyrs;

for our military, from America and England on the front lines;

for those who are chronically ill and never complain;

for the prophets, who are not appreciated, and sometimes maligned for speaking the Truth;

for my fellow Catholics across the world suffering for their faith.

For you, and all I have forgotten, a happy day.

Be grateful today

Be thankful, today, that you can drive or walk to Mass, or take the tube to hear fantastic music, or watch a Nativity Play. Be grateful that you live in a country where Jesus is proclaimed as Lord and Saviour without your family being threatened with death, or your employment ended.

Be thankful that the Babe in the manger reaches out to you at Mass today and that you can receive Christ under the humble species of bread and wine, now His Body and Blood.

Be grateful that you can spend time openly with your families, friends and relatives and not needing a locked gate at the door of your church.

Be grateful for freedom of religion to write, read, study your religion.

Be thankful, always, that the bells can ring out on Christmas morning.

Pray for your brothers and sisters in Nigeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Mali, Indonesia, Pakistan, and many other places where Christ suffers through His people.


True Humility

For some, the cold, like the white moon,
Calls for romance and sleepers' dreams

 For some, the long, dark nights hide sorrow
And the shame of loneliness.

So, too, the crying Child chose the cold
And dark of a winter's night to come

 Leaving the celestial timelessness for time,
The company of Love for danger and fear

So, Joseph struggled with Revelation's Plan
and stoked the small fire for Heaven's Queen

Embraced the mystery waiting beyond hope
For the next humiliation, making room for

Angels, shepherds, kings in one space
          Containing all creation and her Bridegroom.........

As I was thinking of Adam and Eve this week, so too this blogger...

A Christmas Thought

A newborn sleeps in Bethlehem's stable
cold and tired from the trial of birth

A young mother does what every mother does
and worships the Child, but with a difference

The Mother is not every woman and the Child
not every man, but The Man, perfect, God.

For long moments the Mother watches and wonders
at this Creator Who has become her Son,

She alone understands the Triune God Who
lives with her and in her and now in her arms

She remembers the prophets, the songs of David,
her ancestor of psalms and sings a song of love,

to the sleeping Babe. How many years, she
wonders, does she have to love Him like this

alone, quiet, in the solitude between animals and
shepherds staring at the miracle in the sky.

How many years does she have, she wonders,
to protect Him from the cold and rejection

of His Own People? Not long...not long.