2012-11-08

I did not vote...

I did not vote for the one,
And did not vote for the other.
No vote of mine was placed,
For the choice as presented.

That choice was avoidable,
No lesser obligation made.
A withheld vote for the other,
No stamp of approval for the one.

My knees were not bent,
To morality founded on consequence.
The desire to limit evil,
Our strongest impellent.

Influence on the evil,
Lacks yearned for visibility.
My vote for an authority,
Seems cast toward the ether.

The revolution is repulsive,
Its cause is our shame.
You can thank me for nothing good,
Because we are part of the neglect.

Majority voters only litmus,
Evident moral deficit.
Our contribution to this turbidity,
Is the great supplier of burden.

That God has permitted,
We should accept and examine.
Glory be,
To our absolute Sovereign King.

2012-10-30

The Wilderness

What "the wilderness" has brought to mind:
And saying: Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by Isaias the prophet, saying: A voice of one crying in the desert, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. (Matthew 3:2-3)

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaias the prophet: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee. A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. John was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins. (Mark 1:1-4)

As it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain; (Luke 3:4-5)

They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. And they that were sent, were of the Pharisees. (John 1:22-24)

You know that the only-begotten Son is called the Word of the Father. Now we know, in the case of our own utterance, the voice first sounds, and then the word is heard. Thus John declares himself to be the voice, i.e. because he precedes the Word, and, through his ministry, the Word of the Father is heard by man.
(Catena Aurea on John 1)

With the topics of the impending election nagging every waking moment, we have the Voice to keep us focused. For instance, John stood up for marriage against Herod, and called him on other wrongs he was doing. John was imprisoned, and then eventually beheaded for it:
But Herod the tetrarch, when he was reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done; He added this also above all, and shut up John in prison. (Luke 3:19-20)

"The wilderness" also brings to mind Christ in the desert. The example He sets for us:
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the desert, For the space of forty days; and was tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. (Luke 4)

The Devil knows Scripture...

For it is written, that He hath given his angels charge over thee, that they keep thee. And that in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering, said to him: It is said: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (Luke 4:10-12)

We have the devil here again citing Scripture, (Ps. xc. v. 11.) [Read what is given on this subject in note on v. 6, c. iv. of S. Matthew's gospel (reproduced in the next quote section)] which shews how very dangerous a thing it is to put the Scripture, in the first instance, indiscriminately into every, even the most illiterate person's hands, without any previous disposition of the mind and heart, by study and prayer. How much more satisfactory must it be to be guided by the Church of God, which Christ has promised to secure against all error, and which he commands all to obey! How much more rational to begin with distributing elementary catechisms, approved by the Catholic Church as conformable to the word of God, and then only opening to them the sacred mystic book, when their minds and hearts are better prepared to avail themselves of the inestimable treasure, and of justly appreciating and exploring the golden lore. If humility be a virtue that renders us most pleasing to God, it is a virtue particularly necessary for the proper understanding of Holy Writ. This will teach us to submit (whenever the Scripture is either silent or obscure in points of faith) our own private and unassisted judgment to the judgment and comments of the Church. This was the sentiment of a great philosopher of this nation, who, when charged with scepticism and a love of novelty by his contemporaries, replied: "However fanciful I may be esteemed in matters of philosophy, in religious concerns I like to go the beaten road. Where the Scripture is silent, the Church is my text. Where that speaks, it is but the comment; and I never refer any thing to the arbitration of my own judgment, but in the silence of them both." (Haydock Commentary Luke 4:10)

Heretics, says S. Augustine, quote Scriptures, as the devil does here, in a wrong and forced sense; the Church cites them, like Jesus Christ, in their true sense, and to confute their falsehood. Cont. lit. Petil. l. ii. c. 51. It is on this account, that the Catholic Church wishes persons who come to the study of the most mysterious and difficult book ever published, should bring with them some preparation of mind and heart; convinced that the abuse of the strongest and best food may be converted into deadly poison. The promoters of Bible societies have published in Ireland a tract to encourage the universal perusal of the Scriptures, as the sole rule of faith. In this they give not only a mutilated and corrupt version of the letter of his late Holiness Pius VI. to the now archbishop of Florence, (to be seen at the head of this edition of the Bible) but certain letters from German Jansenists, who are described as being good Catholics. A. (Haydock Commentary Mark 4:6)

2012-10-29

Sandy...

Prayers and fasting for those potentially burdened by Hurricane Sandy. Prayers and fasting for Benghazi also.

2012-10-18

Sadness and Sorrow

Introduction to the Devout Life
by St. Francis de Sales
PART IV. Containing needful counsels concerning some ordinary temptations.
12. Of Sadness and Sorrow

St. Paul says that "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death." So we see that sorrow may be good or bad according to the several results it produces in us. And indeed there are more bad than good results arising from it, for the only good ones are mercy and repentance; whereas there are six evil results, namely, anguish, sloth, indignation, jealousy, envy and impatience. The Wise Man says that "sorrow hath killed many, and there is no profit therein," and that because for the two good streams which flow from the spring of sadness, there are these six which are downright evil.

The Enemy makes use of sadness to try good men with his temptations:--just as he tries to make bad men merry in their sin, so he seeks to make the good sorrowful amid their works of piety; and while making sin attractive so as to draw men to it, he strives to turn them from holiness by making it disagreeable. The Evil One delights in sadness and melancholy, because they are his own characteristics. He will be in sadness and sorrow through all Eternity, and he would fain have all others the same.

The "sorrow of the world" disturbs the heart, plunges it into anxiety, stirs up unreasonable fears, disgusts it with prayer, overwhelms and stupefies the brain, deprives the soul of wisdom, judgment, resolution and courage, weakening all its powers; in a word, it is like a hard winter, blasting all the earth's beauty, and numbing all animal life; for it deprives the soul of sweetness and power in every faculty.

Should you, my daughter, ever be attacked by this evil spirit of sadness, make use of the following remedies. "Is any among you afflicted?" says St. James, "let him pray." Prayer is a sovereign remedy, it lifts the mind to God, Who is our only Joy and Consolation. But when you pray let your words and affections, whether interior or exterior, all tend to love and trust in God. "O God of Mercy, most Loving Lord, Sweet Saviour, Lord of my heart, my Joy, my Hope, my Beloved, my Bridegroom."

Vigorously resist all tendencies to melancholy, and although all you do may seem to be done coldly, wearily and indifferently, do not give in. The Enemy strives to make us languid in doing good by depression, but when he sees that we do not cease our efforts to work, and that those efforts become all the more earnest by reason of their being made in resistance to him, he leaves off troubling us.

Make use of hymns and spiritual songs; they have often frustrated the Evil One in his operations, as was the case when the evil spirit which possessed Saul was driven forth by music and psalmody. It is well also to occupy yourself in external works, and that with as much variety as may lead us to divert the mind from the subject which oppresses it, and to cheer and kindle it, for depression generally makes us dry and cold.

Use external acts of fervour, even though they are tasteless at the time; embrace your crucifix, clasp it to your breast, kiss the Feet and Hands of your Dear Lord, raise hands and eyes to Heaven, and cry out to God in loving, trustful ejaculations: "My Beloved is mine, and I am His. A bundle of myrrh is my Well-beloved, He shall lie within my breast. Mine eyes long sore for Thy Word, O when wilt Thou comfort me! O Jesus, be Thou my Saviour, and my soul shall live. Who shall separate me from the Love of Christ?" etc.

Moderate bodily discipline is useful in resisting depression, because it rouses the mind from dwelling on itself; and frequent Communion is specially valuable; the Bread of Life strengthens the heart and gladdens the spirits.

Lay bare all the feelings, thoughts and longings which are the result of your depression to your confessor or director, in all humility and faithfulness; seek the society of spiritually-minded people, and frequent such as far as possible while you are suffering. And, finally, resign yourself into God's Hands, endeavoring to bear this harassing depression patiently, as a just punishment for past idle mirth. Above all, never doubt but that, after He has tried you sufficiently, God will deliver you from the trial.

24th Anniversary

For the honour and glory of the Holy Catholic Church, for the consolation of the much troubled faithful, and for the peace of their conscience, the undersigned, members until now of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, declare with profound regret over the illicit consecration of bishops on 30 June that they have remained within the Catholic Church as pars sanior of this same Fraternity, and that they have but one desire: to be able to live as a religious society in this Church and place themselves at her service under the authority, of course, of the Roman Pontiff, her supreme head.

With great satisfaction, they affirm that in the generous and truly maternal propositions which the Church offerred to the Fraternity in the agreement of 5 May 1988 are laid the foundations for a fruitful and without doubt Catholic future for their society. They express their hope that the ecclesiastical authorities would establish them canonically as a society, so that they might work for the realisation of their own particular vocation: to dedicate themselves to the People of God and above all to the formation of future priests in an authentic Catholic spirit, and in so doing, as befits the venerable tradition of the Catholic Church, to celebrate Divine Worship according to the guidelines of immemorial tradition.

In order to clarify their ecclesiastical status as quickly as possible, the undersigned, brought together in prayer, will present this declaration to the Holy See without delay, in order to place their work under the protection of the princes of the Apostles, Saint Peter and Paul, and with the blessing of the Holy Father.

Declaration of Intention by the Founders (2 July 1988)

A little more than three months later a decree written by the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" erected the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. God bless this priestly fraternity today, October 18th, on their anniversary.


2012-10-17

He went away sad...

Sloth is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as sadness in the face of some spiritual good which one has to achieve. The Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on sloth goes on to state: "A man apprehends the practice of virtue to be beset with difficulties and chafes under the restraints imposed by the service of God. The narrow way stretches wearily before him and his soul grows sluggish and torpid at the thought of the painful life journey. The idea of right living inspires not joy but disgust, because of its laboriousness."

This sadness is noted in the story of the young rich man:
... The young man saith to him: All these I have kept from my youth, what is yet wanting to me? Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me. And when the young man had heard this word, he went away sad... (Matthew 19:16-22)

The Handbook of Moral Theology by Prummer lists some of the evil results of sloth: tepidity to the divine precepts, wandering towards what is forbidden, faint heartedness, and despair of salvation. The remedies given are: consideration of the evil results of this vice, meditation on man's eternal reward.

2012-10-16

Save America Sunday

Please visit http://www.saveamericasunday.com/ and discuss this with your priests.

Mission
Processions to Save America is a Catholic campaign initiated in honor of the upcoming year of faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI, and in honor of Pope Pius XI's encyclical Quas Primas. During the year of faith, beginning in October 2012, the Holy Father has expressed his wish that parishes emphasize liturgy and the Eucharist.

The Processions to Save America Campaign seeks to promote public processions of the Blessed Sacrament in parishes across the country, in order to restore the social kingship of Christ in our nation, as Pope Pius XI asserts in Quas Primas. We are calling upon all Catholics to organize public processions of the Blessed Sacrament at the diocesan and parish level, especially in celebration of the upcoming feast of Christ the King on October 28th in the extraordinary form calendar.


Action Items:
1. Talk to your parish priest about having a Eucharistic procession at your church (preferably on Oct. 28th).

2. Let us know where and when you're having your procession. Click on "Register" link in menu above. [See website]

3. Publicize your procession via email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Spread the word!!!

Beware the emotionalism played at in this video.


2012-10-14

It is a piercing noise...

I have always had a love-hate relationship with social media. Through social media, I have met a number of very good people and a select few role models (living saints) who, by example, encourage me to be much better than I am. Social media unfortunatly feeds my disordered desire for human respect, it feeds my curiosity, it swallows my time... It leaves a "ringing in the ears" when I yearn for Quiet.

The stream that appears in my Google+ (don't get me started on Facebook or Twitter) account is the definition of psychotic. One moment I am reading of the heroic virtues of St. Joseph, reading about true acts of Charity, discussing the beauty of our Catholic Liturgy, reading of the spiritual life, being encouraged to pray and fast for a complete stranger, praying for the soul of a departed one, or learning of the unchanging Truth as taught by the Doctors of our Church. It is reality. The next moment I am reading blasphemy presented as humor, hedonism presented as a lifestyle, modernism (and its endless developing flavors) promoting mind rot, blocking a profile for displaying rancid pornographic images, or getting pulled into mindless squabbling with fellow Catholics over slothful semantics. It is insanity. (For those wondering -- yes, I uses 'circles' judiciously.)

Reality insanity reality insanity insanity insanity.

Often, the noise is deafening to the senses. All of us living in this world trod through the muck of "insanity" hopefully striving to have a firm hold in the "reality". We all deal with living in the world in varying degrees regardless if we participate in social media. I do believe that in comparison to "real" social interaction... social media amplifies the strength and quickens the pace that the "insanity" is offered for consumption.

I am not puritanically condemning social media as some intrinsic evil. I am not planning to go sit in some enlightenment spawned self help circle where I dub myself an "addict of social media" and swear never to use it again. I am not off to live in a cave... not today anyway.

This morning I was ready to delete my accounts and take a social media vacation for a few months. After some discussion with those who know the beard behind the blog, I decided to leave the accounts alone and come back to them at some point in the near future. I do not have good reason for removing past posts today, but I will be cleaning up certain items in the next couple weeks.

For now I am restricting my cooperation with social media, and eagerly looking forward to the vacation from it. There are some important things that require attention.


2012-09-23

Language Immersion

I came across a language immersion extension for Google Chrome today:

Language Immersion for Chrome is an experimental extension that aims to simulate the experience of being immersed in a foreign language. By switching certain words and phrases from English into a language of your choice, the websites you already visit can provide a way to experience the world from a different perspective.

Features:
- Choose from all 64 languages currently supported by Google Translate.
- Novice-to-fluent skill settings let you immerse at your own pace.
- Click on a translated word to switch it back to English.
- Roll-over a translated word to hear it pronounced.

Say you desire to brush up on your Latin a bit while browsing Fr. John Zuhlsdorf's reflections on the Hobbit. Open the language immersion extension, and select 'Latin' from the long list of available languages. Dial down the immersion to the desired level ('novice' for this example). While reading the article, a number of the words or phrases will have been converted to Latin. For example: "The professor rescripsit. I received his letter..." If there is some question as to what the translation means, simply click the word to have it toggled back to the original language. (I will note that the extension is not perfect, and some languages / websites may provide for a better immersion experience than others.)




2012-09-22

Human Respect

The various forms of social media breed and nourish a soul to yearn for human respect. For many it is like an abused opiate -- destroying health and mind, but used in attempts to feed a hunger it continues to deepen.

Growth in Holiness or, The Progress in the Spiritual Life
by Fr. Frederick William Faber
Chapter X - Human Respect

To give ourselves up to the spiritual life is to put ourselves out of harmony with the world around us. We make a discord even with much that is amiable and affectionate, and with which, as natural virtue, we cannot be altogether without sympathy. We live in a different world, have different interests and speak a different language, and the two worlds will not mingle. Grace holds us in one world ; nature draws us down again into the other. This is the secret of the immense power which human respect has over us ; and of the three dispositions which compose the normal state of the spiritual life, fatigue is the one which lays us most open to its attacks. We are weary of interior things and weakened by long combat, and a vigorous charge from an enemy who gets close to us under friendly colours is more than for the most part we can with stand. The good spirit, then, which should be the faithful satellite of our fatigue, is the presence of God, or singleness of purpose, or simplicity, but which I prefer to designate merely the absence of human respect, because no word seems so exactly to describe this spirit as the negative appellation in question.

There is much to be said of human respect. It is a fault most keenly felt by spiritual persons, and comparatively little felt by others. It is more like an atmosphere than anything else, and can hardly be caught and punished in distinct acts. But it is a thing of which there can be no doubt. We have an infallible consciousness of it. It gives undeniable evidences of its own existence. It destroys all liberty, and becomes the positive tyrant of a man's life. Yet if we look well into it, nothing can be more stupid than our submission to it. For we set little or no value on the separate opinions of individuals; and when the judgment is in our favour, it can do us no good, neither, unless true, can it afford us any rational pleasure. Indeed its power is altogether in the prospect, and not in the present possession. Yet it is almost universal, and must be dealt with as one of the most inconvenient facts of the spiritual life. Look at a person who is completely under its domination. Watch him in society and public life, or in the bosom of his family, or in the intimacies of friendship, or at confession and in conference with his director, or even with God in prayer, or in utter solitude. It is as if the omnipresence of God was sponged out all round him, and that some other powerful eye was fixed upon him, ruling him with a power like that of the solar light, and causing in him at all times an almost preternatural uneasiness.

It is not difficult to see the evils of this miserable world-presence, this spirit which gathers all mankind up into an eye and throws its portentous fascination upon our souls. It causes men to be false and insincere in their mutual relations, and to act inconsiderately with others. It destroys all generous enthusiasm either for charity or penance. It puts a man under the despotism of ridicule, which becomes a kind of false god to him. It is the contradictory of perfection, and while it is in force, renders it impossible; for it is always drawing us off from God to creatures. A brood of sins of omission follow it wherever it goes, sprung from shame and the fear of ridicule, and another brood of sins of commission, from the desire to please. In process of time, and the process is not slow, it establishes itself as an habitual distraction in prayer and meditation; and as to examination of conscience, that most real of spiritual exercises almost seems to supply food for the voracity of human respect.

It is as miserable as it is evil. The bondage of Carthusian austerity would be easier to bear. No slavery is more degraded and unhappy. What a misery to be ashamed of our duties and our principles! What a misery that every action should have a flaw in it, and a blight upon it! What a misery to lose at last, as we must inevitably do, the very thing for which all our sacrifices have been made, the respect of others! Misery of miseries thus to lose even respect for self! Religion, which ought to be our peace, becomes our torment. The very sacraments have a feeling of incompleteness about them, as if we did not, as we do not, use them rightly; and our communication with our director, which should be medicinal, is poisoned by this spirit. Surely we must try to get to the bottom of the matter, and to study the various phases of this disease of pious souls. A general wish to please, a laying ourselves out in particular subject matters in order to please, building castles in the air and imagining heroic acts, reflecting on the praise bestowed upon us, and giving way to low spirits when dispraised,— these are all manifestations of this horrible human respect.

Human respect, however, is not so much a particular fault, as a whole world of faults. It is the death of all religion. We shall never have an adequate horror of it until we admit that these hard words are no exaggeration. Let us therefore look at the place which it occupies in the grand struggle between' good and evil. First of all let us trace its rise; for this is a difficult problem, considering how in detail we all disbelieve in each other. The especial task of Christians is the realization of the invisible world. They have different standards of right and wrong from the votaries of earth. They live inextricably mixed up with the children of the world, as men using the same language with different meanings, and the confusion and apparent deceit grow worse every day, and the world, the owner of the territory or its lessee, more and more angry, and inclined, in spite of its theory of haughty toleration, to persecute those who thus wilfully put themselves at variance with the public peace. Men feel that religious people are right, and on that very account they will not look the fact in the face and submit to it. They feel it, because they feel that they are not irresponsible. Yet they chafe at the judgments of God, and His incessant interference. They chafe at the quiet way in which He gives His judgments and takes His own time to execute His verdicts. So, not being able to do without the judicial power, they consolidate God from Three Divine Persons into a function, a cause, a pantheistic fluid, or a mechanical force, and transfer the judicial power to mankind in a body. This seems to be the account of human respect in the mind. Men in all generations fret under God's judicial power. It seems as if, because of this fretfulness, it were one of the most unutterable of His compassions that He should have confided His ultimate judicial rights to our Lord as Man, and that in virtue of the Sacred Humanity He should be our judge. Looked at in a human point of view men's transfer of the judicial power to themselves may be said to have worked admirably. Social comfort, a standard of endurable morals, and generally what may be called for the moment liveableness have come of it. It causes a certain amount of individual unhappiness, because its police is harsh and rough, and the procedures of its court unkindly and of the Draconian school. But men have a compensation for this in its giving over to them utterly unquestioned the whole region of thought. Under the administration of God thoughts were acts, and were tried and found guilty as such. They furnished the most abundant materials for its tribunals, and were just what caused His jurisdiction to press so heavily upon the soul. Now all this is free. Calumny, detraction, rash judgments, spiteful criticism,—they make us wince as they visit our outward acts; but we may be as base as we please in thought, and yet walk through human courts with proud eye and head erect.

No wonder that when once human respect had taken its place among the powers of the world, it should cause especial desolation in the religious mind, and become a worse evil and a greater misery there than elsewhere. Indeed it is itself a sort of spurious counterfeit religion. For what is religiousness but the sensible presence of God, and religion the worship of Him? In religion the presence of God is our atmosphere. Sacraments, and prayer, and mortification, and all the exercises of the spiritual life are so many appointments, not only for realizing that presence, but for substantially introducing it both into body and soul. The respiration of our soul depends upon it. It produces a certain kind of character, a type of its own sort and easily recognized, a supernatural character which inspires other men with awe, love, hatred, or contempt, according to the different points of view from which they look at it. To the pure-minded it is the greatest possible amount of happiness on earth; for it infuses into us a certain marvellous unreasoning instinct for another world, as being faith's sight of Him who is invisible. Yet it is hardly conscious what it is it sees. Now is not human respect in its own way a simple copy and caricature of all this? A something which undertakes to perform for the world every function which the presence of God performs for the enlightened soul? It is in fact a mental paganism.

It is this similarity to a false religion which makes human respect so peculiarly dangerous. It does not alarm us by any grossness. On the contrary it forces sin into concealment. Not that this is any real boon to the best interests of men, for certain of the deadliest sins thrive best under cover. It confuses the boundaries between public opinion and itself, and pretends an alliance with prudence and discretion. This is a stratagem to be guarded against. For public opinion is within limits a legitimate power; and the man, who, because he was devout, should lay it down as a principle that he would never respect public opinion or be swayed by it, would be paving the way for the triumphs of delusion. Nothing can be more alien to the moderation of the Church. There is a vast difference between what my fellow-citizens expect of me, and show beforehand that they expect and give reasons for expecting, and the criticism they may pass upon my actions and my doing them rather with reference to that criticism than to the wish of God. I may be very indifferent to the criticism, while I am bound to respect the expectation. Moreover, human respect unsupernaturalizes actions, which are good in substance. It kills the nerve of the intention; but it gives us no such smart warning as the nerve of a tooth does in dying. It is like a worm in a nut; it eats away the kernel of our motive, and lets the fruit hang as fairly from the tree as ever. Eeligion is so much a matter of motives that this amounts to destroying it altogether; and as human respect introduces a directly wrong motive in lieu of the right one, it destroys spirituality in the most fatal way. Thus it is one of the completest instruments, which corrupt nature puts into the devil's hands and at his disposal for the destruction of souls. "What can be more hateful than this, and what more odious in the sight of God? A caricature is always odious, and it is odious in proportion to the beauty and dignity of what it caricatures; and as we have seen, human respect is a caricature of the presence and judicial power of God.

Few are aware until they honestly turn to God, how completely they are the slaves of this vice. Then they wake up to a sense of it, and see how it is in their blood, as if it were their life and their identity, an inexplicable unconquerable vital thing. Its rise is a mystery, for which we can only invent a theory. No one can tell for sure how it rose, or when, or why; it has been like an exhalation from corrupt humanity, the spreading of a silent pestilence that has no external symptoms. There is not a class of society which it has not mastered, no corner of private life that it has not invaded, no conventual cell but its air is freighted with the poisonous influence. It rivals what theologians call the pluri-presence of Satan. Its strength is so great that it can get the better of God's commandments and of the precepts of His Church, nay, of a man's own will, which last conquest even grace and penance find it difficult to achieve. It appears to increase with civilization, and with the extension of all means of locomotion and publicity. In modern society men systematize it, acknowledge it as a power, uphold its claims, and punish those who refuse submission. God is an ex-king amongst us, legitimate perhaps but deposed. It is much if we build Him in His own kingdom a house made with hands that He may dwell therein, and keep Himself within doors. Surely if the evil one has not preternaturally helped human respect, he has at least concentrated his energies on its spread and success. He is never more a prince than when he stoops to be the missionary of human respect.

Look into your own soul, and see how far this power has brought you into subjection. Is there a nook in your whole being, wherein you can sit down unmolested and breathe fresh air? Is there any exercise however spiritual, any occupation however sacred, any duty however solemn, over which the attractive influence of human respect is not being exercised? Have you any sanctuary the inside of which it has never seen? When you have thought it conquered, how often has it risen up again, as if defeat refreshed it like sleep? Does it not follow you as your shadow, as a perpetual black spot in the sweet sunshine? Yet how long is it since you turned to God, and became spiritual? How many Lents and Months of Mary have you passed, how many sacraments have you received, how many indulgences have you gained? Yet this human respect is, in spite of them all, so active, so robust, so unwearied, so ubiquitous? Can there be any question nearer your heart than what concerns the remedies for this evil?

The Church provides remedies for us in two ways, in her general system, and in her dealing with individual souls. She begins by boldly pronouncing a sentence of excommunication against the world. She ignores its judgments in her own subject-matter of religion, and proclaims its friendship nothing less than a declaration of war against God. She gives her children different standards of right and wrong from the world, and an opposite rule of conduct. All her positive precepts and her obligations of outward profession of faith are so many protests against human respect, and she canonizes just those men who have been heroes in their contempt for it. The world feels and understands the significance of these things, and shows it by anger, exhibiting all the quick jealousy of a conscious usurper.

But of far greater efficacy are the remedies which she administers to single souls in the confessional and in spiritual direction. The world dreads the secret power of that benign, cogent, and unreported tribunal. First of all, the Practice of the Presence of God is pitted against this universal human respect. We are taught how to act slowly, and to unite all our actions to God by a pure intention. We are bidden to take this fault as the subject of our particular examination of conscience, to pray earnestly against it, and to be full and open about our falls when we accuse ourselves in confession. Even in indifferent things we are recommended to adopt that line of conduct which tells most against human respect, were it only for the sake of mortification. This is often the rationale of the seemingly absurd and childish mortifications imposed in religious houses. For human respect is but a veiled worship of self, which we seem to transfer to the world, because self is even to us so small an object; and whatever kills this worship of self, as such mortifications do, is a blow to human respect. In casting out devils the saints have often delighted to use puerile means; so also may we cast this devil out of ourselves. Once let our souls be possessed by, a timid, childlike devotion to the Eye of God, eternal and unsleeping, and human respect will die away and disappear, as the autumnal leaves waste in the rain and enrich the soil for the coming spring.

But the great thing is to understand our real position in the world, and our relation to it. This knowledge is a perfect fortress against human respect, which is one of the chief causes of failure in aiming at perfection. Let us then try to ascertain how pious people stand to the world, and the world to them.

When we give ourselves up to God, we deliberately commit ourselves to live a supernatural life. Now what does a supernatural life mean? It means giving up this life altogether, as seeing we cannot have both worlds. Altogether! I hear you say. Yes! altogether. For how would you have me qualify it? Not that we shall not be a thousand times happier and sunnier even in this life; but it is from out the other life that the sunshine and happiness will come. This life must go, and altogether. There is no smoothing the word down. A supernatural life means that we do not make sin the limit of our freedom, but that we draw the line much nearer home, by the evangelical counsels. It means mortification, and mortification is the inflicting of voluntary punishment on ourselves, as if passing sentence on ourselves and executing it before the day of wrath. We put other interests, other loves, other enjoyments, in the place of those of the world. A conviction of our own weakness is the ground-work of all our actions, and we lean our whole weight on supernatural aids and sacramental assistances, as depending solely upon them. To a certain extent we even become unsocial by silence, or solitude, or penance, or seeming eccentricity, or vocation. In a word, we deliberately become members of a minority, knowing we shall suffer for it.

Now, realizing this significancy of the spiritual life, what is the view the world will naturally take of us, and how will it feel towards us? The world, half unconsciously, believes in its own infallibility. Hence it is first of all surprised, and then irritated, with our venturing to act on different principles from itself. Such a line of action denies the world's supremacy, and contradicts its narrow code of prudence and discretion. Our conduct is therefore a reflection on the world, as if God had outlawed it, which He has. Its fashions, its sects, its pursuits, its struggles, its tyranny and its conceits are to us no better than a self-important, grandiloquent puerility. Meanwhile, though we ignore the world, the world cannot ignore us, for we are a fact, intruding on its domain and interfering with its hypothesis. We ignore the world, and ignoring is the policy of the extremes of weakness and of strength. In our case it is of both, of natural weakness, of supernatural strength.

What sort of treatment then must we expect at the world's hands? It will have its phases and varieties according to circumstances. But on the whole we must expect as follows. If we succeed in what we undertake for God, or have influence, or convert persons, or take any high line, or reproach others by our example, we must make our account to be hated. We shall be feared, and with an angry fear, when men see we have a view and go on a principle, which they do not; and they fear it because they prognosticate our success. Men will fear us also, when they think we are working for God in secret, and they cannot find out how, and this they call jesuitism, a holy and a good word to ears wise and true! They will moreover suspect us of all manner of strange misdemeanours. They can hardly help it; for the disproportion of means to ends in supernatural conduct is ever a teazing, baffling problem to the carnal mind. They will blame us; for blame is easy; and we swerve from men's usual standard of praise. Moreover, condemnation of us is safe; for even so-called moderate men on our own side throw us overboard. With them indiscretion means provoking the world, and not being friends with that whose friendship the Holy Ghost tells us is enmity with God. We shall be misunderstood, because even those who would naturally take a goodnatured view of us cannot see what we see. They have no grasp of our principles, and so they often think they have got logical proof of our inconsistency. Besides which, we cannot even give a good account of ourselves. We must expect also, hard as we must strive to hinder it, to be more or less at variance with flesh and blood. Vocations, devotions, and penances have a sad though inculpable liability to disturb family peace. Parents are slow to give in to God, even long after children are come to years of ripe discretion. For instance, if a son marries, he will have liberty, because the world bids it; if he enters orders or religion, he will not, because only the Church bids it then. Yet these parents are good people, and religious in their way; why should not we be like them? So they think, and others say. We cannot see things in their light, and they cannot see things in ours.

Now to something of this kind, more or less, we committed ourselves when we took up the spiritual life in earnest. We knew what we were about. From that hour we parted company with the world, never more to do aught but fly from it as a plague, or face it as a foe. Human respect, therefore, must henceforth be for us either an impossibility, or an inconsistency, or a sin. What have we to do with giving or taking the world's respect, which we have bound ourselves eternally to disrespect? Enough for us that we have taken ourselves out of the world's hands, and out of our own, and put ourselves into the Hands of God, and we have felt those hands, O happy we! gently but firmly close over us, and hold us fast.

2012-09-07

Cardinal Timothy Dolan's Prayers

Democratic National Convention 2012:
With a “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” let us close this convention by praying for this land that we so cherish and love:
Let us Pray.

Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed to us so powerfully in your Son, Jesus Christ, we thank you for showering your blessings upon this our beloved nation. Bless all here present, and all across this great land, who work hard for the day when a greater portion of your justice, and a more ample measure of your care for the poor and suffering, may prevail in these United States. Help us to see that a society’s greatness is found above all in the respect it shows for the weakest and neediest among us.

We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ordered liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.

We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love. Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform.

We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community. May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries.

We praise and thank you for the American genius of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Congress, the Supreme Court, and all those, including Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan, who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself. With your grace, may all Americans choose wisely as we consider the future course of public policy.

And finally Lord, we beseech your benediction on all of us who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who yearn to conduct their lives in freedom and justice. We beg you to remember, as we pledge to remember, those who are not free; those who suffer for freedom’s cause; those who are poor, out of work, needy, sick, or alone; those who are persecuted for their religious convictions, those still ravaged by war.

And most of all, God Almighty, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.

For we are indeed “one nation under God,” and “in God we trust.”

So dear God, bless America. You who live and reign forever and ever.

Amen!

Republican National Convention 2012:
With firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, let us pray:
Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus, we beg your continued blessings on this sanctuary of freedom, and on all of those who proudly call America home. We ask your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see you at the end of this life. Bless those families whose ancestors arrived on these shores generations ago, as well as those families that have come recently, to build a better future while weaving their lives into the rich tapestry of America.

We lift up to your loving care those afflicted by the recent storms and drought and fire. We ask for the grace to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer. May we strive to include your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, in the production and prosperity of a people so richly blessed.

Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us, and on those who would govern us: the president and vice-president, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and on all those who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office, especially Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan. Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country. Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself.

Almighty God, who gives us the sacred and inalienable gift of life, we thank you as well for the singular gift of liberty. Renew in all of our people a respect for religious freedom in full, that first most cherished freedom. Make us truly free, by tethering freedom to truth and ordering freedom to goodness. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love; prudently, and with justice; courageously, and in a spirit of moderation. Enkindle in our hearts a new sense of responsibility for freedom’s cause. And make us ever-grateful for all those who, for more than two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg your mighty hand upon our beloved men and women in uniform.

May we know the truth of your creation, respecting the laws of nature and nature’s God, and not seek to replace it with idols of our own making. Give us the good sense not to cast aside the boundaries of righteous living you first inscribed in our hearts even before inscribing them on tablets of stone. May you mend our every flaw, confirming our soul in self-control, our liberty in law.

We pray for all those who seek honest labor, as we thank you for the spirit of generosity to those in need with which you so richly blessed this nation.

We beseech your blessing on all who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who seek to conduct their lives in freedom.

Most of all, Almighty God, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.

For we are indeed “one nation under God.”

And “in God we trust.”

Dear God bless America. You who live and reign, forever and ever,

Amen!

2012-08-27

There is no one else...

We must turn to God.

Da Pacem, Domine; Psalm 121:7-9

Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris
Quia non est alius
Qui pugnet pro nobis
Nisi tu Deus noster.



Give peace, O Lord, in our time
Because there is no one else
Who will fight for us
If not You, our God.


Fiat pax in virtute tua: et abundantia in turribus tuis.Let peace be in thy strength: and abundance in
thy towers.
Propter fratres meos, et proximos meos, loquebar pacem de te: For the sake of my brethren, and of my neighbours,
I spoke peace of thee.
Propter domum Domini Dei nostri, quæsivi bona tibi. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I have sought good things for thee.
Rogate quæ ad pacem sunt Ierusalem: et abundantia diligentibus te. Pray ye for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and abundance for them that love thee.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, also now, and always, and to ages of ages. Amen.


2012-08-01

The thief is here, did you notice?

Today, our president's Health and Human Services (HHS) anti-conscience mandate will be implemented. After today, nearly all employers will be forced, at the beginning of their next health plan year, to pay for the coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptive medicines, and sterilization procedures.

It is true that some employers have an additional 12 months, but the majority do not. August 1st 2013 will be here without notice, just like today came without notice. The fact that some organizations have an additional year does not negate or lessen the situation that others are facing. Employees and employers across our nation are affected.

Pray first for the employers today who have seemingly impossible decisions to make. Pray also for the employees who also are finding their way through this mess. We pray that they are given prudence to make decisions with eyes on the eternal. We ask specifically for the prayers of the Seven Holy Maccabee brothers.

2012-07-29

Olympic Disenchantment

I no longer care about the Olympics. The Olympic events have never been a priority in my life, but now I hold an opinion approaching disdain.

While I did not expect (or desire) an opening ceremony like that of Beijing, what we were given was awkwardly embarrassing.  I shrugged the ceremony off hoping that the sporting events would make it a distant memory. However, instead of showing clips and replays from events not broadcast through the day, we get media pimps who lace their endless banter with political propaganda, inane interviews, and more clips from the opening ceremony!

The events being broadcast are not about the athletes as much as they are about which athletes are going to make the network the most money. Does anyone actually believe that America tunes in to women's sand volleyball because of interest in the sport? The camera angles and sportswear suggests the athletes and the network know exactly what many are tuning in to watch.

I can't even get online to watch events that were not broadcast, or to watch events that were broadcast at times when I could not watch. I find myself searching for "pirate Olympic streams" and "proxy connect to BBC". The fact that it is verboten for the USA to watch anything other than what NBC and the IOC want us to see is -- perplexing.

Maybe I am just miffed that I missed the Judo competitions again.

2012-07-18

Good things and evil, are from God...

Excerpt taken from Heliotropium by Jeremias Drexel (the book is available on archive.org):
"Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God." (Ecclus. XI 14.)

But this truth, which is most clearly witnessed to in the Sacred Writings, must be unfolded a little more fully.

2. In this way Theologians teach that all evils in the world (sin excepted) are from God. In all sin there are two things to be considered, the guilt and the punishment. Now God is the Author of the punishment which attaches to sin, but in no way of the guilt. So that, if we take away the guilt, there is no evil belonging to the punishment which is not caused by God, or is not pleasing to Him. The evils then of punishment, like the evils of nature, originate in the Divine Will. We mean by evils of nature, hunger, thirst, disease, grief, and the like, things which very often have no connection with sin. And so God truly (and, as they say in the schools, effectively and positively) wills all the evils of punishment and nature for reasons of perfect justice, but only permits sin or guilt.

So that the latter is called His Permitting Will, the former His Ordaining Will. All, therefore, that we call evil proceeds from the Will of God. Thus Theologians teach; and this foundation must be laid as deeply as possible in the soul, for it is of the utmost importance humbly to receive, and ever to hold, as an infallible truth, that the first cause of all punishments and evils is the Divine Will, always excepting guilt, as I have said already.


2012-07-16

Hatred of truth...

Why, then, does truth generate hatred, and why does thy servant who preaches the truth come to be an enemy to them who also love the happy life, which is nothing else than joy in the truth -- unless it be that truth is loved in such a way that those who love something else besides her wish that to be the truth which they do love. Since they are unwilling to be deceived, they are unwilling to be convinced that they have been deceived. Therefore, they hate the truth for the sake of whatever it is that they love in place of the truth. They love truth when she shines on them; and hate her when she rebukes them. And since they are not willing to be deceived, but do wish to deceive, they love truth when she reveals herself and hate her when she reveals them. On this account, she will so repay them that those who are unwilling to be exposed by her she will indeed expose against their will, and yet will not disclose herself to them.

Thus, thus, truly thus: the human mind so blind and sick, so base and ill-mannered, desires to lie hidden, but does not wish that anything should be hidden from it. And yet the opposite is what happens -- the mind itself is not hidden from the truth, but the truth is hidden from it. Yet even so, for all its wretchedness, it still prefers to rejoice in truth rather than in known falsehoods. It will, then, be happy only when without other distractions it comes to rejoice in that single Truth through which all things else are true.

-St. Augustine, Confessions


2012-07-10

Men like trees, walking...

How clearly do we see the actions of Christ? Many modern scripture scholars are plagued by a self inflicted blindness that prevents them from seeing His actions.

Lord increase my Faith. Thank you Lord for the Faith you have given us.

Please listen to the Audio Sancto sermon titled: "4-for-4 and I See Men Like Trees, Walking"

2012-07-07

NFP: The Unhappy Compromise

The following article is not about the "inadequacies" of the rhythm method often highlighted in family planning literature. The author's frequent reference of the rhythm method could easily be substituted with other modern methods of performing marital relations on certain days of the month based on a woman fertility cycle. If the article had not been written in 1948, and instead had been written this month, one could easily replace 'rhythm method' with 'natural family planning' without changing the intent.

The emphasis in the following article is my own. I do not post it to place a yoke on those families which are hammered by hardships. I share this article to encourage those who feel unduly pressured by the culture of NFP in their Catholic marriage.

Rhythm: The Unhappy Compromise
by Fr. Hugh Calkins, O.S.M.
June 1948 for Integrity magazine
(Reprinted with permission from Angelus Press.)

What about Rhythm? That simple question is rapidly becoming a stormcenter of controversy. It comes up during parish missions, Cana Conferences, bull sessions on careers, even high school retreats. All too often, wrong answers are given, bum theology is handed out. Even more often, right answers are given but very imprudently. These cause confusion among the laity and lead to cynical questioning. Why don’t priests get together on this thing voices that cynicism.

This article will discuss Rhythm [NFP] thoroughly. First, the latest and best theological thought concerning the morality involved shall be presented. This will remove the guesswork of beauty shop theologians and gabfest experts who too easily settle everything with: "Oh, Rhythm’s okay. It’s Catholic birth control." Secondly, we shall present the true picture of how Rhythm is currently being used around America. It is not a pretty picture, but it’s based upon wide missionary experience and thorough research. It may surprise a few too glib advocates of Rhythm —lay, cleric, religious —to see how widely astray Catholic couples have gone on this moral question. Thirdly, we shall discuss how all this fits into a full Christian life, into the synthesis of religion and life any earnest Christian must promote, if we are "to restore all things in Christ."

Moral Considerations

Let’s understand what we mean by Rhythm. [NFP] Incidentally, we are permitted to discuss the method. The only official prohibition issued by the Church deals with the teaching and recommending of the method. Too long have we kept silent, while imprudently zealous advocates spread the method nationwide. The term Rhythm is a convenient name for a systematic method of performing marital relations on certain days of the month. The method is built around the Rhythm of fertility and sterility which occurs in the monthly cycle of a woman’s menstrual periods. Briefly, it now seems medically certain that on certain days of the month a woman is quite likely to conceive new life and on other days she is quite unlikely to conceive. The days on which conception are quite likely are called "fertile": those on which conception is quite unlikely are called "sterile." The Rhythm Method consists in following a systematic method of performing marital relations only on "sterile" days and abstaining on "fertile" days. This method is followed in order to space children or to avoid having children. Whether the method is used for a few months, a few years, or all during childbearing years, the motive remains the same. The motive in using this method is to avoid conception and pregnancy. Let’s have no talk about "virtuous continence." That’s the red herring often dragged in to confuse the issue. The people who use Rhythm are not primarily concerned about continence. They seek to avoid conception. Hence, they restrict sexual intercourse strictly to sterile days, safe periods.

Contrary to widespread misunderstanding, Rhythm [NFP] is not the same as contraception. It’s true that often the aim of the married couple is the same—they use Rhythm to avoid conception—but their method is not the same as the birth-controller. The practice of Rhythm is natural so far as the biological aspect is concerned. The practice of contraception is unnatural, against nature, a perversion just as truly as homosexuality. But just because Rhythm is "natural" doesn’t mean it is always morally good and permissible. The practice of Rhythm proceeds from a free and deliberate will—the will not to have children—that is directly opposed to the primary purpose of marital relations as ordained by God. Is such a free will choice contrary to the will of God and sinful?

Without getting too technical, there are two schools of thought [It seems the author only lists the more common opinion...] on the essential morality of Rhythm [NFP] as a system. The more common opinion, the majority opinion, holds that this method is not of itself illicit, and becomes lawful only when there is sufficient cause present for sidestepping the primary purpose of marriage. Both opinions are approved by expert theologians: you may follow either one until the Church makes an official pronouncement on the subject. But keep in mind that all theologians hold certain basic facts to be true. There is perfect agreement among theologians that Rhythm can become sinful because of circumstances and dangers involved.

Important Conditions

So we can summarize the latest and best theological thought on the subject. The Church neither approves nor disapproves of the Rhythm Method as a system to be followed. The Church merely tolerates the use of this method. Tolerates indicates reluctant permission. And the Church only tolerates this method, when three definite factors are present. These three are: First, there is sufficiently serious reason for a given couple to use this method, sufficiently serious enough to justify side-stepping the first purpose of marriage; Second, both husband and wife are truly willing to follow the method —neither one can force the other to adopt this system; Third, the use of this method must not cause mortal sins against chastity nor become a proximate occasion of such sins. The breakdown of any one of those three factors makes the use of Rhythm sinful. So the correct attitude is this: The use of Rhythm [NFP] is sometimes no sin, sometimes venial sin, sometimes mortal sin. Please stop saying, "Oh, it’s okay, the Church approves it."

Now study carefully those three factors. First, a sufficient reason; theologians admit there are at times solid reasons to justify the use of the Rhythm system. These reasons may be permanent or only temporary —poverty, poor health of the mother (real, not pretended), frequent still-births or Caesarean births, medical necessity of spacing births because of the unusual fecundity of the wife, in other words, solid and honest reasons for avoiding births for a time, or maybe for all time. But even when such honest reasons are present (and so often today they are not) it still remains true that husband and wife must both be truly willing.

But all too often in actual daily life, one spouse is unwilling and is being high-pressured by the other. All moral theologians would condemn as a grave sin the exclusive use of the sterile period when it is not a truly free agreement on both sides. If not free, a grave injustice is done the other spouse. Such dangers and such mortal sins are frequent in our materialistic age. Confessors would do well to investigate the close relationship between "cheating" by married people and their use of Rhythm [NFP]. So a good reason by itself is not enough. Circumstances change cases. A confessor’s help is advised. More about those three factors later.

Assuming there is free consent and no special dangers of mortal sin, would a couple be justified in using Rhythm for only selfish reasons? Theological opinion is divided: some say such a course would be mortally sinful, others say venially sinful. But all eminent theologians say such a course would be sinful and fraught with grave danger. The more you study the theologians on this question, the more you see how cautious priests and laity should be in advocating Rhythm. You see why the Holy See, only with reluctance, tolerates this method. It certainly has never been declared officially that the Holy See approves of the "safe period" method. Not even the much-quoted paragraph from the "Chaste Wedlock" encyclical of Pius XI can be accurately used as giving such approval. It is far more likely that Pius XI was referring to physically sterile people ("certain defects") or those who have passed the menopause ("reasons of time") and not the use of Rhythm. Yet the new supercolossal campaign for selling Rhythm devices by mail dares to quote the Holy Father in approval of such crassly commercial restriction of birth.

Face the Cold Realities

Now that we’ve laid the theological groundwork, let’s be terribly practical. Catholic couples have gone hog-wild in the abusive employment of Rhythm. Theological distinctions have been pitched completely in the utterly selfish desire to avoid conception at any cost. Too many priests are acting imprudently in the public recommendation (in classrooms and sermons) of the method which the Holy See has cautioned "the confessor may cautiously suggest." There is abundant evidence increasing daily that only spiritually strong couples can be trusted really to observe Rhythm prudently, even when a sufficient reason is present. All too many other couples say they’re using Rhythm and they really are following a system of "Don’t become pregnant at any cost." So they use Rhythm, when it "works," varied methods of contraception when it doesn’t work, and even abortion when they get "caught" (what an expression to describe the start of an immortal existence). Yet all the time such people try kidding confessors with "Oh, no, no birth control, we just use Rhythm. [NFP]"

It’s becoming a scandal to their sincere neighbors. John Doe is no theologian. He doesn’t make fancy distinctions between unnatural and natural birth control. All he sees is these selfish couples are married and don’t have kids —even brag about how they’re through having any more. He begins to wonder how they can so easily go to Confession and Communion. I’m beginning to wonder too. Even our adversaries throw a body blow at us by saying: "What’s the difference? You forbid contraception so firmly, but your couples slip through by using Rhythm."

Promoting Sterility

The thing is out of hand. A method meant to be a temporary solution of a critical problem has become a way of life, a very selfish, luxury-loving, materialistic way of life. What theologian would ever justify practices like these actual cases I now cite: parish priests giving a copy of a book on Rhythm to each engaged couple with a word of approval; preachers explaining in weekend retreats the advantages of this method for having children as you planned them; teachers in some of our best colleges teaching the method, often to girls who are well set financially; gynecologists lecturing in leading Catholic medical schools and telling classes of young doctors how to teach this method to patients, so that the doctors assume Church approval to recommend the method has now been given them; engaged couples planning their wedding day with rhythm cycle all plotted so no pregnancy results until a year or two passes, so that they can enjoy all the privileges and none of the obligations of marriage.

It is one thing to permit Rhythm reluctantly, as the Church officially does. It’s quite another to become promoters of sterility, as too many of our people have. Naturally, the commercializing of Rhythm has hit a new high. Expensive gadgets are now available —"every medical and theological student, nurse and social worker should have one," reads the blurb. So now our people have fool-proof methods of "making love by a calendar," effectively blocking God’s creative designs. It’s enough to make God vomit out of His mouth the creatures who ignore so completely the divine purposes of marriage. How will we ever convert godless America, how produce modern saints, if we won’t give God citizens for His Heavenly Kingdom? And most ironic of all, Catholics so anxious to be in on Catholic Action (which to them means anything from bingo to flag-waving) are often the most determined advocates of Rhythm. They labor so hard to get others to attend lectures, Cana Conferences, book reviews; but to have babies as God wants them to —don’t be silly. Have you noticed the heavy emphasis on Rhythm among our wealthy parishes, among our college graduate couples, our social and cultural leaders?

Rhythm Mentality

So there has sprung full-grown from pagan propaganda this vicious Rhythm [NFP] mentality —a state of mind that won’t trust God. Our moderns concede God knows how to balance the universe in the palm of His hand, knows how to harness atomic energy, can dangle stars and planets at His fingertips, but children? Oh, no, God just doesn’t know how to arrange things there. We’ll take care of that through family planning. But the planning centers about how not to have a family. So our do-gooders extol either the practice of total sexual abstinence (oh, so piously), even when the other partner is unwilling and is being unjustly defrauded, or the practice of methodical Rhythm. They don’t admit or don’t care about the mortal sins such systems produce. They are determined: No Pregnancy Now! There is the state of mind that despairs of God’s help.

These bleeding hearts, especially busybodies-in-law, and nosey neighbors, scream protestingly: "Who’ll take care of the next baby?" The simple answer is: The same God that takes care of you even when you resist His Will. "But we must give our children security and education." Just because God doesn’t give parents and children all today’s phony materialistic standards require, doesn’t mean He fails them. He didn’t give His own mother much in material security. But heaven, not security, is the goal set for the babies God sends. God established marriage primarily to give children life in this world that would bring eternal life.

Too many people are trying to play God. God alone is still the Author of new life. And God doesn’t need alarmist doctors, despairing parents, nor even thoughtless priests trying to run His affairs and deciding when new life shall be born. What God wants from us is free will co-operation with His Will. That’s the one contribution we alone can make. What God demands from married partners is willingness to have the children He shall decide to send. People go to heaven only by doing God’s Will, not by planning things for Him.

Well, then, should every couple have a flock of children? That’s up to God. Every couple should have the children God wants them to have. But they are not having them. Forty-four percent of American families have no children. Twenty-two per cent have only one child. And Catholics living in cities now have far fewer children than the families in rural areas (which are about eighty per cent Protestant). Obviously, family planners are planning families out of existence. That certainly is not God’s Will. The use of Rhythm by so-called "devout" Catholics is a major factor in that falling birth rate. You say the birth rate is up higher now? Yes, on the first and second babies. But it continues to fall steadily in the number of third, fourth and later babies.

Too Much Prudence

The Rhythm mentality has a tear-jerker argument. It’s turned on, full stops, something like this: "But God wants people to use prudence in bringing children into the world. Neither God nor His Church demands people have as many kids as possible. People should use discretion, be decent enough to plan their family. Isn’t it far better that a few kids be well fed, clothed, educated than a large family endure poverty." It sounds good, doesn’t it? People advancing this line are often quite righteous about it. With pharisaical smugness, they feel sorry for "imprudent pregnancy" of poor parents. But I’m sick of them. They’re the kind who probably pitied Mary of Nazareth, carrying a Baby God has sent, but for whom Joseph and Mary couldn’t find a home (talk about a housing shortage and tough landlords). They’re the kind who pitied my own mother, when she carried me, her twelfth child. Sweet chance I, and many another poor kids like me, would have to be priests, if Rhythm mentality prevailed. And what would the bleeding heart of another day have done about Nancy Hands carrying the Baby who became Abe Lincoln? There would have been no Bernadette of Lourdes, coming from a jail flat, nor Teresa of Lisieux from sickly parents and a mother who lost three babies in a row, and most certainly not a Catherine of Siena, a twenty-third child, if the "prudent planners" had their way. What all these extollers of prudence forget is: God’s Will is the end of man. The essence of the world: ours to do His Will. Prudence [an intellectual habit enabling us to see in any given juncture of human affairs what is virtuous and what is not, and how to come at the one and avoid the other] is a cardinal virtue, highly praiseworthy indeed. But faith, hope, and charity are supernatural virtues far more praiseworthy. And the greatest of these is charity. What nobler way to practice charity than to co-operate with God in passing on new life, when God wants it to be born, not when humans think it should? Let only God play God.

Hidden Costs

"Such a manner of using the marriage right, followed without a very serious reason during all, or almost all of the married life, is opposed to the plan of Providence for the propagation of the human race, represents a serious attack on the honor of marriage and particularly on the dignity of the wife, and creates grave dangers for the married people." So spoke the bishops of Belgium in their Fifth Provincial Council back in 1937. Their words point up the hidden costs of using Rhythm. Take that point on debasing the honor of marriage and lowering the dignity of the wife. Fifty per cent of today’s mothers are neurotic, say several leading non-Catholic psychologists. In many cases, Rhythm produces the neurosis. It made the "rejecting mother" type. She "got caught" with a pregnancy she had sedulously fled. The unwanted pregnancy results in the lonely, neurotic, unwanted child. Neurosis like this can increase sterility, so often when the "Rhythmeer" ["Contracepter"] finally wants a baby, she can’t have one. It’s odd that women can’t see the debasing results of a system that uses them systematically to satisfy sexual desires but seldom to produce children.

Advocates of Rhythm are fond of stressing how "natural" the method is. But as Fr. Lavaud, O.P., has said: "We cannot see an adaptation to nature in something which is, in effect a trick to frustrate nature." Rhythm is quite unnatural as currently employed. It requires the couple to "make love by a calendar," so charts, gadgets, graphs rule romance, not the loving desire of devoted partners. Some medical men assure us a wife’s desire for marital union is most vehement precisely during the fertile period. It appears the Jews followed a more natural procedure in abstaining during sterile periods, as the Book of Leviticus indicates. Even Dr. Ogino, the originator of the method, viewed the method primarily as a means of having children. "Rhythm in reverse," having relations on fertile days just to have children, is natural.

Another hidden cost is infidelity. Women puzzled by male misbehaving at certain time periods might well remember the desires of the flesh respect no calendar. And remember, too, man’s sexual life follows a monthly cycle of vehemence and subsidence, as well as a change of life later. Men not living a properly satisfactory sexual life with wives, too much calendar restriction, are easy victims to feminine wiles outside the home. The coolness and jittery bickering caused by Rhythm is incalculable. The fulfillment of marriage as a vocation demands that husband and wife minister to each other’s needs through tenderness and understanding often best expressed through love-making and intimate union postponed by the Rhythm calendar. How stupid to live a love-life holding your breath.

Who shall estimate the hidden costs generated in a woman’s finely adjusted emotional and psychical life through fear of having another baby. Once such fear is implanted, how difficult to eradicate it. How easily it leads to desperation about avoiding pregnancy at all costs. Be sure that Satan knows how to employ it to create despair about trusting God. Only in eternity shall we know the immortal souls denied a chance to have life because they were snuffed out through abortions caused by such fear.

The New Synthesis

What’s the answer to all this bogeyman propaganda about babies? It could be expressed in a word Vivant (let them live). One group of splendid parents in Milwaukee have taken that word as their slogan and the title of their magazine circulated among young married couples. It’s a vivid expression of the forgotten virtue of hope. God’s providence still rules the world. True Christians, mindful of their supernatural birth at Baptism, the growth of that life of grace through Mass, Sacraments and prayer know that hope not only springs eternal but it brings eternity as its reward. It devastates right here on earth the creeping paralysis of despair born of these hard times. It cures insecurity by abandoning itself to the constantly supporting arms of God. Married couples, so fearful of what to eat and wear with children arrived or coming, need frequent meditations on that famous sixth chapter of Matthew: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you." Seeking His justice means doing His Will, doing it with hope in your heart that God will provide and reward generosity. He never is outdone in generosity, as we all should know from experience. Surprising how God fills your heart and life with pulsating affection of children, once you trust Him enough to have the children. Surprising how little warmth there is in the mink coat, the vacation, the television set, the car that you fought so hard for, while denying your arms the warm embrace of children. Or is all this surprising? God keeps His word.

It would be well to meditate frequently on Paul’s vivid reminders about "the great Sacrament" married people give each other on their wedding day. Matrimony joins two hearts and souls and lives by fusing natural and supernatural bonds that day. God and husband and wife become partners that a great vocation might be fulfilled. The virtue of hope receives a mighty increase that day through the grace of Matrimony. At every instant of their married life, the married couple has God’s assurance that His grace is sufficient for them. No obstacle is insurmountable to God.

As Fr. Orville Griese, in his famous book, The Rhythm in Marriage and Christian Morality, says:

Christian couples ought to realize that it is a singular, providential blessing to be able to bring forth new life, thus assuring man and wife of a deeper, most lasting union, offering them means of personal sanctification and of contributing to the strength and growth of both Church and State. The mere fact that the future looks a little uncertain or that the child might be frail or sickly is no reason for substituting faith in the biological computations of the safe period method for trust in God.

Addendum to the Rules for Social Media...

Earlier this week the USCCB provided a blog post on the The Gospel and Social Media. Fr. John Zuhlsdorf generalized the blog post into a list of rules. I provide the condensed list to combat white space. Emphasis mine:

1. Translate church teaching. [Know your audience, Don't fall into heresy while attempting to 'translate'. Popular speech does not always convey the sacred.]

2. Avoid church speak. [Know your audience. Some words cannot be replaced without changing the meaning of the message. Some people will find offense no matter how you attempt to phrase innocent honest speech.]

3. Use images, as Jesus did. [Know your audience. It is good to imitate Christ. I don't remember Jesus ever making things less clear with His explanations, but He certainly knew His audience.]

4. Understand that social media is social. [Um hmm...]

5. Social media sometimes calls for a suit of armor. [See #4]

6. Use the delete button if comments cross the line of decency, but, hopefully, not often. [comment deleted]

7. Spread Catholicism’s fun parts. ['Fun parts' or what might be known as the 'treasures of our faith'. For example, share lives of the saints that inspire virtue. Be sure not to treat adults like children.]

8. Remember rules are changing. [This certainly sums it up.]

9. Remember web messages live forever. [Not to be confused with being naked. It is true, don't sin on the internet, or at all for that matter. On a side note, someone should let our Holy Father know that the pictures of him hoisting a beer are still floating around the internet.]

10. Keep it short. [There is supreme value in being able to take that which provides complex philosophical ponderings, and reduce it to only the critically essential; therefore, remembering the ideals of briefness to which we subscribe, let us make every effort to curtail our words, our sentences, in short, our very paragraphs, that both the former and the latter may be quickened for the sake of our dear reader, his friends, and co-workers.]

While reading the comments on Fr. Z's post, I came across an addendum to the rules written by Jason Pascucci. I find the additional rules less obvious, but specific and practical for use by the Catholic social media users. Again, emphasis is mine.

11. Don’t eviscerate the truth in an attempt to be popular. It is the hard parts and hard sayings of being a follower of Jesus are what make it compelling to the soul.

These two go together:
12a. Avoid respect of persons.
12b. Ignore people who say “judge not lest ye be judged” as if it covered all criticism. We’ve been instructed to “judge with right judgement”. As with Aquinas, above: look for causes rather than at persons.

13. All heresy begins in disproportion of related truths. Avoid being disproportionate. Being silent on a topic which ought to be spoken of is a sin of omission against truth, if you are in a position to speak rightly and fully.

14. Niceness is not a Catholic virtue, indeed it is opposed to such. Kindness is, as is gentleness and longanimity, which are fruits of the Holy Spirit. Know the difference between those and 'nice'’.

15. Avoid adhering to those who gain approbation from "the world" or are lionized by it: chances are very high they are doing something wrong. If they are hated by “the world”, chances are they’re more reliable. It’s not an infalliable guide, but you’ll go less wrong.

16. The enemy of your enemy is probably not your friend, as it’s very possible to error on both extremes.

These two go together:
17a. Don’t mess with people who cite the Fathers, the Councils, and the Saints as authorities. Chances are, they’re right. Indeed, when dealing with other Catholics, do use this form of "Church speak".
17b. Conversely, people who quote a lay or Jesuit theologian from the last century as an authority on any topic are probably wrong. Don’t do that.

18. There is a licit range of theological opinion on many topics pertaining to the Faith. Sometimes it's wider, but these days, it’s usually vastly narrower than the range generally presented. (Pro-tip: "Tantamount to heresy" is not within the licit range.)

19. The roots of the 'liberal/conservative' split lie in modern philosophy. They are both wrong, because modern philosophy is profoundly broken. GBTA (Get back to Aristotle).

20. Don’t be humble because it is becoming and makes a good and attractive outward appearance. Be humble because you’re a sinner and too often a complete doof.

21. Don’t do theology in a state of serious or mortal sin: your mind is darkened by your illicit acts. Go to confession. They aren’t kidding about this stuff.

22. Avoid intellectual mollities: don’t overreact to the presentation, make sure you understand the heart of the matter.

For more content from Mr. Pascucci, please visit his blog: "Ex-Couchthedra"