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Thursday 25 September 2014

Help from Readers on Common Core

I have been trying to find a list of dioceses, now over 100, which have accepted the evil Common Core, which I have written against many times.

Does anyone know where I can find such a list?

Ta muchly...

Guest Blogger on Clear Creek Monastery

From a blogger in his own right, my highlights:

I was recently able to spend three days at the Clear Creek Monastery in eastern Oklahoma. I would recommend it to anyone.

The monastery was founded in 1999 by the Abbey of Fontgombault, in central France, although it’s now an independent foundation with its own Abbot. It’s on a thousand-acre site, in a very isolated spot about an hour east of Tulsa. Most people think of a flat desert when they think of Oklahoma. But this is only true of the west of the state: eastern Oklahoma is green and hilly.

The monastery says the traditional Mass and office (all eight hours of it). About forty-five monks live there. I would say the average age was the mid-30s, though some looked as young as 20, and the oldest was about 70. Most of the monks are American, but there are a few from the other Anglophone countries, and one or two from continental Europe. I don’t know how many of the monks were also priests, as they don’t change their habit when they’re ordained. Based on the numbers saying Mass, I’d estimate it at between a third and half. Many of the older monks had studied at the University of Kansas, under Prof. John Senior, who had, from the late sixties to the late seventies, taught a course on the great western classics, and in doing so had converted (it’s estimated) about 250 people to the Faith. The monastery wouldn’t exist without his efforts.

(The course’s name was the ‘Pearson Integrated Humanities Program’. More information at

I was picked up from Tulsa, and on my arrival was greeted by Fr Guestmaster. Soon afterwards, I went to Vespers. I arrived on a Saturday evening, and there were quite a few laypeople present. After Vespers, we went for supper. The Abbot ceremonially washed my hands before supper, as I was a newly-arrived guest.

The monks were sitting at about three long tables with fairly plain furniture. The Abbot was on his own. We guests – there were about four of us, all male of course – were at our own table. During supper, there were readings from the Rule of St Benedict, followed by a passage from the Lives of the Saints, on St Bridget. These were chanted, and lasted for the whole of supper. The food was excellent, most of it grown, or grazed, on site. I believe we ate the same thing as the monks, though in greater quantity. Supper was quite short, though – I doubt we were sitting down more than twenty minutes. The monks were silent throughout supper, following the Rule.

After supper, the Fr Guestmaster took us four guests aside for what I later discovered was a twice-daily chat. This was a good chance to chat with the other guests. One of them was from Texas, and had just completed, with several other people, a walking pilgrimage in reparation for the black mass which was to be held in Oklahoma City the following weekend. Another guest was about to enter the monastery. The third was a Belgian layman in his seventies, who was staying there for three months. He spoke no English, but happily the Fr Guestmaster spoke French. I never established why this gentleman was staying at the monastery in Oklahoma rather than at Fontgombault, but in any case, his stated purpose in staying for so long was ‘to become a saint’. He was an interesting man. He dressed smartly without drawing attention to himself and had impeccable manners. He seemed to have all the virtues that I, at least, associate with devout Catholic Francophones of the older generation: true humility, respect for order and tradition, prudence, temperance and kindness. The culture that made good men such as these is now passing from history.

Strict silence followed Compline, and continued until the conclusion of the following day’s Prime. The next morning, a Sunday, I rose at 4.30 for Matins at 4.50. Although I pray the traditional office privately, I had never done so publicly before arriving. What’s more, my Latin is pretty mediocre and I was short on coffee, so I found Matins and Lauds (one followed the other without pause) pretty difficult to follow. I prayed along as well as I could, and thanked God for the chance to join these ancient prayers.

Prime and then breakfast followed an hour later. Breakfast was a less formal affair than lunch or supper: the monks ate it standing, and there was no reading aloud, though we still observed silence. After breakfast I had some free time. In fact, free time was wonderfully plentiful, so over the course of my retreat I read Belloc’s Crisis of Civilisation cover to cover, read several chapters of Garrigou-Lagrange’s Three Ages, and systematically prayed and thought through some decisions I’m facing. Silence wasn’t quite so strict during the day, but they still strongly encouraged it, so serious and concentrated reading was easier than in the outside world. So was prayer, above all devotion to Our Lady, to whom the Abbey is dedicated under the title of the Annunciation.

I discovered at lunch that the monks brew some astonishingly, extraordinarily good beer, some of the best I’ve ever had. Really, it was wonderful. I suggested to Fr Guestmaster that they bottle and sell it. They only served beer at the Sunday lunch, so I would recommend that anybody going there on retreat bear that in mind. In fact, all the food was excellent. I was told their cook learnt his skills in France. It certainly shows.

The rest of the days followed a similar pattern, with the hours being sung at roughly the times you’d expect. After Terce every day was a sung Mass, which was well-attended by the local lay community. I should say a word about the community that has grown up around the Abbey. It’s about 120 people who have moved from other states (especially California for some reason) with the specific purpose of being near a traditional monastery. I met engineers, IT people and other professionals, and they either telecommute or travel several days a month back to the metropolis. Some of them farm instead, or as well. They don’t live in one place, but are scattered around the surrounding countryside. Nonetheless, people all seemed to know one another, and get on. They were pretty welcoming to me. I met a very recent convert in his late twenties, who had been baptised and received in Easter this year, along with his parents. There were lots of children, as you’d expect, and lots of dads attending mass. What an encouragement it must be to live in such a place!

Unfortunately there wasn’t time to travel to anybody’s home, but anybody interested in finding out more about the community would be well-advised to contact Fr Guestmaster, who knows most of the people.

I didn’t get to low Mass, which was held every day in addition to sung Mass, until the day of my departure. It was said in the crypt at about 6am. The crypt had about eight side chapels with altars, as well as a high altar. A monk was saying Mass at most of these. It was wonderful – the kind of thing that used to be quite frequent, but is very hard indeed to find nowadays. Silence reigned, as you’d expect for a private Mass, otherwise the various celebrants would have been talking over one another.

I’ve been to only a few private Masses during my short time as a Catholic, and never had the privilege of being present when several were being celebrated simultaneously. Although the trad community, quite rightly, emphasises high Mass, the polyphony, the major feasts, and so on, this shouldn’t be done at the expense of low Mass. There is something unspeakably beautiful about a solo priest making his morning sacrifice to God, standing in the person of Christ, communing with God in the most intimate way.

It was fascinating to see a traditional Benedictine monastery, in many ways the cradle of Western culture. More importantly, it gave me great encouragement in my devotion to Our Lady. I would recommend anybody who gets the chance to visit. Women and families are also welcome. They can stay in the on-site guest house about half a mile away, but can’t eat with the monks, or attend matins, lauds or compline.

News from SPUC

Thursday, 25 September 2014

New Northern Ireland Health minister supports abortion ban

Jim Wells MLA
New Northern Ireland Health minister supports abortion ban
Jim Wells, who has previously stated in an interview that the abortion ban in Northern Ireland should be upheld, including in cases of rape, has been appointed as Northern Ireland’s new Health minister by first minister Peter Robinson. Mr Wells said in the interview, which took place in August 2012, "That is a tragic and difficult situation but should the ultimate victim of that terrible act [rape] – which is the unborn child – should he or she also be punished for what has happened by having their life terminated? No." Although tipped to takeover at the health department two years ago, Mr Wells recently said that he would like to remain on Stormont's Justice Committee in order to oppose the Minister of Justice's plans to legalise the abortion of children diagnosed with a disability or conceived in rape. A public consultation on the proposal is expected to begin in the coming months. [Guardian, 23 September]

Spanish abortion law reform scrapped; justice minster resigns
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, has withdrawn a bill which would have reformed abortion law in Spain, limiting its availability only to cases of rape that have been reported to the police and cases where the mother’s health is considered to be in danger. Currently, Spain’s law allows abortion on demand up until 14 weeks. Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, the justice minister who championed the reform, resigned from his post soon after it was announced that the bill had been withdrawn. [Irish Times, 24 September]

Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury asks for promotion of Gospel of Life
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has spoken of the need to promote the "Gospel of Life with joy". Bishop Davies, who was attending an annual pro-life pilgrimage to Walsingham, said that, "We will be asked whether we stood idle all day or whether we prayed and made reparation, used our own voices for the defenceless and gave witness to the sanctity of human and family life."[Catholic Herald, 23 September]

Other stories:
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On Drama

A million years ago, when I grew up in the predominantly Lutheran city, where Catholics were no more than 12% of the population, drama was considered by many of my Protestant brethren as horribly sinful.

This abhorrence of drama came out of the Protestant Revolt, as a reaction to the still performed Mystery and Miracle plays of the medieval period. Such plays, which either depicted the Life of Christ or the Biblical stories in Genesis or other books, were seen as connected to the evils of the Catholic life which included, of course, the Holy Mass.

These  religious, Catholic plays became outlawed in England, although the arch-hypocrite Elizabeth I is recorded as having attended one incognito, as she loved drama. She also continued having private showings.

I wonder if she had the actors arrested afterwards?

I have studied these plays and actually seen some enacted. I love drama, have written drama, and was married another million years ago to an accomplished actor. STS is also an excellent actor, having played in Shakespeare, Wilde, other dramatist's plays, and Greek drama, as well as a musical.

STS in The Taming of the Shrew

As a Catholic girl, I attended plays and musicals and in college was in drama a bit. My role was usually the ingenue, as I always looked much younger than my age. I was the young girl, for example, in Yerma.

I did not have great talent but had several boyfriends who were in plays, both when I was in high school and in college who were extremely talented. We would discuss drama at length. One of my best friends had the lead as Elizabeth R herself, another irony of history.

That my Lutheran friends believed that Catholics were going to a handbasket because we went to Broadway Theatre League or the Genesius Guild provided me with many opportunities of drama apologetics.

St Therese as Joan of Arc
Now, one can see the danger of acting and being involved in the threatre. We know that the lifestyle of actors, at least in the West, left something morally to be desired which is still evident in Hollywood. The famous actresses of the Restoration Period in England were almost all you know whats and one became a mistress of one of the kings. Such is life behind stage.

But, the lifestyle of actors and actresses was not the problem with my Protestant friends. The problem was what they saw as "deceit". To dress up, wear make-up and play another part, to become, even for a short while, another person, was a lie to them. Actors lied, Producers lied, Scene painters lied. All these people were engaged in portraying something which was not true.

STS in above

Now, to convince my friends who honestly and sincerely saw no value in lying on a stage, made me look at the entire history of drama. Of course, another argument was that drama had its roots in religion, which it does, especially in Greece, and therefore was also sinful because of historical connections.

Some of my Lutheran friends also objected to the stories, even Shakespeare, who we all know was Catholic. These good people could not see that drama was a mirror of the soul of man, helping us all come to knowledge of the self and our relationship to others and God.

No, they could not see that drama was not mere entertainment, but a way of exploring what it means to be human, a thinking being with a soul and a body.

The stories they saw as deceitful I saw as the opposite-vehicles of exploring truth.

For a teenager, this type of discussion on the back-porch in the summer over lemonade and ginger snaps  whet my appetite for more serious apologetics. By the age of fifteen, I was defending the Faith in conversations with my Lutheran friends.

The Miracle and Mystery plays did not just pop up in France in the 1100s with Adam, but came out of dramas connected with the high holy days as far back as the early Church, once persecution settled down. Drama was used to teach the Bible and to remind people of the great long line of Revelation from the Old Testament through the New.

And, here is the reason why my Protestant friends hated drama, It was a link to pre-Protestant culture and Christendom. In denying that the Catholic Church was the one, true, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, they had to deny that the pre-Revolt Church was missionary and the oldest, true Christian faith.

STS in Clytemnestra

Also, even today, we have over forty examples of medieval dramas which depicted something about the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was ditched by the Protestants and whose devotion was completely undermined. The Mystery Plays showed the lives of the saints and oh-no, Protestants not bear the cult of the saints. The Morality plays became slap-stick and finally, vaudeville.  Of course, with the continued suppression of the feast days, and the closing of the theatres in London under Cromwell, the sin of acting was punishable as a crime against morality.
So, the dramas became verboten.

STS' Godfather in pantomime

I do not know if in the long run I convinced any Protestants to go watch Lear or Antigone, but my love for drama never ceased. One of my plays was put on at Notre Dame by a small group of actors I got together. It was a depiction of children and youth's reaction to the plagued and, therefore, a drama which explored the facing of death and life after death by all of us.

Having taught drama, I know the value of learning through the arts, through the classics. May true drama never disappear from this planet, and may Catholics continue to write and produce superb plays.

May I add that the fastest growing "religion", which is not a revealed one, also eschews drama as evil. Interesting that the heretics and others who hate the Church, the great stories of Revelation, as well as the Life of Christ, hate drama. A connection exits between false Calvnism, false simplicity and the hatred of the Arts. And, we now have a new saint who acted as a youth, St. John Paul II, who I am sure would bless this post.

Here is a young STS in a take-off on a famous show.....

More and more more later

More and more later

Pass This Around

Geese A'Flying

At least four flocks of geese have flown over today going south. They know it is time.
I shall be flying away soon as well, and will try and keep you all posted. Benedict Labre is one of my patrons.

Not by my will, but His Will be done.


Good News!

Because Sometimes We Must Laugh

Repeat for a friend of mine...

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Two Signs of Purgation

Ending this section on the general call of all to perfection, one can take a last look at St. Catherine’s Dialogue for help. I think most people can understand the activity needed on our part in order to walk the path to perfection, but what may be puzzling are the passive purifications.

Two signs, according the saint, indicate that one is going through the passive purifications of the soul, which is the same as the Dark Night of the soul.  The first sign is complete docility to the Holy Spirit. One no longer trusts in one’s self, but in the movements of the Spirit. One is no longer rebellious but cooperative in grace.  The second sign is the receiving of Divine inspirations through the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, and here, I am reminded both of St. Angela and Cardinal Manning in their repetition of the flowering of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

These seven gifts become “mature” after the passive purifications, a point I made over the past several years in the perfection series. That Garrigou-Lagrange reminds us of this fact corresponds with his other works, and with the great saints of perfection-Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis de Sales, and Alphonsus Ligouri.

The passive purgations, again, take away all the dross in our hearts, minds, including the imagination, intellect, and memory. The senses are, as noted before, purged first, and then the spirit.

Then, one enters into the Illuminative State and finally, the State of Union, again defined in the perfection series.

The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are, as a reminder: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Fear of the Lord.

These gifts come to the fore only after we are purified, which is hard for many people to understand. Sin blocks both gifts and virtues, even repeated venial sins, or venial sins which are habitually done almost automatically, revealing a need for healing as well as purgation.

Garrigou-Lagrange notes, that “while conforming ourselves to His expressed will, we must abandon ourselves to His divine will of good pleasure, however mysterious it may be, for we are certain beforehand that in its holiness it wills nothing, permits nothing, unless for a good purpose.”

Another theme on this blog which is covered in this book as well is that he who is faithful in little things will be faithful in big things. I have written over the years that being obedient in the small things is like a daily boot camp experience, wherein we make our wills stronger. Garrigou-Lagrange notes that “If every day we do what we can to be faithful to God in the ordinary routine of life, we may be confident that He will give us grace to remain faithful in whatever extremity we may find ourselves through His permission; and if we have to suffer for Him, He will give us the grace to die a heroic death rather than be shamed and betray Him.”

This book was published in 1937, when persecutions around the world were ratcheting up.  We must not forget that the daily practice of virtue and the faithfulness in small things helps us grow. The author states that, “Daily fidelity to the divine will as expressed gives us a sort of right to abandon ourselves completely to the divine will of good pleasure as yet not made known to us.”

We are faced with suffering daily, and if we do not shirk from this suffering and if we do not complain or judge others, we are being faithful to this daily fidelity.  Garrigou-Lagrange writes, “Daily fidelity and trusting self-abandonment thus give the spiritual life its balance, its stability and harmony. In this way we live our lives in almost continuous recollection, in an ever-increasing self-abnegation, and these are the conditions normally required for contemplation and union with God. This, then, is the reason why our life should be one of self-abandonment to the divine will as yet unknown to us and at the same time supported every moment by that will as already made known to us.”

Garrigou-Lagrange states something interesting: “In this union of fidelity and self-abandonment we have some idea of the way in which asceticism, insisting on fidelity or conformity to the divine will, should be united with mysticism, which emphasizes self-abandonment.”

Some things are just plain basics and on top of this we add our act of complete trust in God, in Divine Providence. We give God our present and our future. We also give God our past, which is very difficult for many of us who have had tumultuous pasts and need to rely on Divine Mercy, as the author points out, for the consequences.

There is no error, no misjudgment, no sin which God has not forgiven in our past. There is no trial so difficult in our present which God cannot overcome, and there is nothing in our future which we need to dread, as we are in the Hands of God.

Romans is most likely my favorite epistle of St. Paul, and Romans 8 may be the chapter masterpiece of this letter. Garrigou-Lagrange refers to Romans 8:31-39 as to the way of perfection through abandonment to God, whether we face the good will of men or malice, as he notes.

Childlike confidence is key. One cannot be too childlike, states the author, and I am glad he wrote that. He states,“Therefore, in abandoning ourselves to God, all we have to fear is that our submission will not be wholehearted enough.”

Amen to that…to be continued…

Finally, someone else writing about men and nonmen

See my "do not turn in you man card" series.....