Saturday, June 29, 2002

Here's Some Good News
Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), who succeeded Bob Dole in the Senate, was received recently in the Church. His sponsor was fellow US Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania). Brownback has a seriously conservative voting record, and could become the Henry Hyde of the future- most prominent conservative Catholic in Congress. Welcome Senator Brownback. Dick Morris, President Clinton's former advisor was also recently received into the Church. Welcome, Mr. Morris. May the Lord bless you both, and the Holy Spirit inspire you as you serve the public.

One is reminded of the very many prominent converts that have enriched conservatism over the last 160 years; John Henry Cardinal Newman, Evelyn Waugh, Malcolm Muggeridge, Orestes Brownson, John Wayne, J.R.R. Tolkein, Father Richard John Neuhaus, Russell Kirk, and G. K. Chesterton, to name just a few. Come to think of it, there are also a lot of prominent conservatives who were born Catholic- William F. Buckley, Jr. and his brother Judge James Buckley, Peggy Noonan, William Bennett, Paul Johnson, Pat Buchanan, Hilaire Belloc, Mel Gibson, George Weigel, Michael Novak, and Peter Kreeft. And don't forget, Ronald Reagan was a reverse convert (his mother's doing). You could almost say that Catholics make up half of the English-speaking world's very prominent conservatives.

What On Earth Are the German Bishops Smoking?
According to a blog I read at Veni Sanctus Spiritus this morning, one or more bishops of the Catholic Church in Germany will be officiating at an ordination ceremony this weekend in which Roman Catholic women will be ordained as Catholic priests. This is what happens when bishops do not "feel the heat" from Rome continually. Of course, the ordinations are invalid. But if done, this can muddy the waters to a very considerable extent. It can create in the public mind a perception that this is done with valid authority. It will create more pressure here for this sort of thing. It does not stretch credulity too far to imagine Cardinal Mahoney or the former Archbishop Weakland presiding over such an "ordination", does it? If this "ordination" comes off, Rome needs to come down like a thousand-pound angry gorilla on these bishops and any others in holy orders who participate. Dismiss, defrock, and think about excommunication.

Friday, June 28, 2002

Sickening, If Genuine
You have probably noticed this photo of a baby dressed as a suicide bomber on Drudge's front page. The photo was allegedly found by Israeli forces during house-to-house searches. If this is not a fabrication, it is yet one more indication, as if we needed one, of the disgusting death cult that exists in the Moslem world in general, and among the Palestinians in particular.

I don't see how this can be undone or alleviated. Whatever solution the West forces on Israel will be short of the Jewish citizens packing up and relocating to Europe or the US. That is the only thing that the Palestinians and their allies really want- no Israel. Anything short of that will see a continuation of this sort of thing. Maybe if Israel is allowed to wipe out resistant Palestinians (tough, sickening, disturbing, but probably the only way), to impose absolute quiet on the Palestinian territories, to groom a generation of tame Palestinians as an eventual government, to dictate reasonable borders between Israel and the eventual Palestine, and retain a security role there in perpetuity, there can be peace. But the minds and hearts of generations of Palestinians will have to be reformulated. They have to recognize as a matter of course that violence does not pay.

Philippine Fighting
The Abu Sayyaf branch of al Qaeda is on the run, according to the Philippine government. Heavy fighting is reported in Sulu province, the home of the Islamofascist cult. Philippine forces are overrunning camps and are in the process of rounding up 5 leaders of Abu Sayaaf wanted by the US. These are the people responsible for the murder of Martin Burnham. Good to see this cleaned up. Abu Sayyaf was allowed to run rampant during the Clinton years. Now it is a different story.

Just for The Record
I'm taking due note of the silly season erupting in the blogosphere. A lot of pixels are being used to discuss the merits of something called Veggie Tales. It appears to be some sort of series of children's tapes. Come to think of it, I may have seen these things in stores, right next to the even odder Spongebob Square Pants. But I will pass on the relative merits, and spend my time completing my collection of Rocky & Bullwinkle and Warner Brothers' Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. That's my idea of childrens' programming.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Vouchers Upheld
The Supreme Court has upheld the use of education vouchers by Cleveland, Ohio by a 5-4 vote. Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing for the majority, found that so long as a choice between secular and religious schools was offered, even if 95% of the schools open to vouchers in an area are religious in nature, there is no establishment of religion. This is potentially a tremendous boost to parochial and independent Catholic schools. Now parents who can't afford private school tuition may be able to get a better education for their children. Before Massachusetts could implement such a program, the anti-Catholic provision in the state constitution banning any aid to Catholic schools, added during the Know-Nothing period, must be amended or repealed. That won't be easy. Just look what happened when we tried to amend to properly define marriage.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Ms. Ingrate
Former tennis superstar and out lesbian Martina Navritolova, a native of what used to be Czechoslovakia who has settled in the US, had some nastiness to vent about US society in general, and the Republican Party in particular. Memo to other ungrateful Eurotrash currently residing in the US: if you don't like it here, don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

Two More Boston Priests Suspended
The Archdiocese of Boston has discovered two reports of past sexual misconduct with minors against two more priests. Rev. W. James Nyhan, pastor of St Mary's of Billerica was suspended over an allegation from "years ago" which is unrelated to another allegation, also made years ago, but recanted by the accuser years ago. Rev. Ronald Bourgault, of St. Zepherin in Wayland has been suspended for an allegation that dates back 30 years, but was only reported recently. I'm not sure how you adjudicate claims of this sort of thing that occurred thirty years ago. But if the allegations are proven, they should be defrocked. Let us hope the Vatican sees the issue that way.

I Pledge Allegiance To the Flag...
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's most liberal and most overturned of the circuit courts, has ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance (with its references to God) represents an unconstitutional establishment of religion. How many conservatives over how many decades have argued that we were on our way down this slippery slope to just this point? Nearly everyone with a pulse has condemned the ruling. Look for quick reversal by the US Supreme Court. This is why we need a Senate that will rush through President Bush's judicial nominations.

The Despicable Bishop Cawcutt
Yesterday's Washington Times followed up on its previous article on gay South African bishop Reginald Cawcutt, whose patronage of the gay and sometimes pornographic Saint Sebastian's Angels website and comments about the "hoped for" death of the Holy Father, has put the spotlight on him. Cawcutt claims that he has been disciplined by the Vatican, and that he was quoted out of context by the RCF agent who infiltrated the St. Sebastian's site. But Cawcutt has a long history of this sort of thing. If I were John Paul II, my pateience would be exhausted, and Bishop Reginald Cawcutt would be Mr. Cawcutt very soon. Instead, he has just been promoted to spokesman for all the South African Catholic bishops. Patience and forgiveness is one thing. This is going too far.

Beliefnet's Worst Bishops
Beliefnet.com has this listing of the worst bishops in the US (as measured by their response to the prevert priest issue since 1992). Cardinal law tops the list, though it is not ranked. Also listed is Roger Cardinal Mahoney. Bishop McCormack from New Hampshire is high on the list. Banks and Daily got off scot-free. Curtiss of Nebraska is on the list.

I'm Tired of Worldcom
I've been reporting the fallout of the Worldcom scandal all morning in my financial services site. I am already mightily tired of it, and the downward spiral of the equities markets I have been tracking. Now, for something else.

Shame On Tennessee
The Civil War battlefield at Franklin, Tennessee is about to disappear. Fox News tells about this shameful failure to preserve an important part of our country's history. Say what you will about the National Park Service and its one-style-fits-all visitor centers, its ridiculous fears about re-enactments, and its Smokey The Bear uniforms. At least it has kept Lexington and Concord's Battle Road from being festooned with Pizza Huts.

As a re-enactor (Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars-British-officer) historical preservation is something I highly prize. I look at what has happened to the Bunker Hill battlefield, and can only shake my head with regret. What is happening in Franklin is just sickening. Federal, state, and county governments and private organizations have been fighting for decades to preserve America's historic battlefields. A great deal of good has been accomplished. We need to inculcate this value throughout society: no development on ground of historic significance. Few people are more devoted to free enterprise, and property rights than I am. But this one value of preserving our past overrides even that.

The second battle of Franklin appears to be lost. We need to regroup to preserve other historic sites, before it is too late.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Lots of Other Interesting Stuff Happened Today
But I'm going to bed now.

Both Clever, and True
I linked to an earlier version of this test some weeks ago. But to save you the hassle of going through my archives, here it is again, courtesy of Domenico Bettinelli, my fellow Salemite, and cigar lover. Just for the record, the answer to each question is "Muslim males between 18 and 40."

Sox Fall From First Place
The Boston Red Sox are now a half game out of first place. While the team was red hot, they failed to put enough distance between themselves and the Yankees. Once they had to play that weird thing called National League baseball (you know, where they make the hapless pitchers bat) they most emphatically were no longer red hot. Now, the Yankees have overtaken them, only about 3 weeks ahead of the usual time when the Sox fall from first place. But take heart, Red Sox fans. The team will undoubtably claw its way back to make a pennant race out of it, so that they can choke in the final week of the season and allow the Yankees to become American League East Champions. Happens every year. Maybe we need a new script. At least they are not the Cubs.

New Milwaukee
Milwaukee has a new archbishop. According to some conservative sources, Archbishop-designate Timothy Dalton (currently serving as an auxiliary bishop in St. Louis) is a big improvement over Weakland. But Cardinal Law would be a big improvement over Weakland. So would Cesare Borgia, for that matter. Let us pray that Archbishop-designate Dalton is the genuine article.

The test will be how he deals with the liberal holdovers from the Weakland administration. If he resembles the Lord driving out the money changers from the Temple, then he passes. If he accomodates them in a spirit of "let's all get along, and "I wouldn't want to deprive anyone of a position, " like Cardinal Law, then he fails. Personnel make policy, as we learned during the Reagan Administration. You can't have conservative policy unless the folks implementing it are died-in-the-wool true believers. A thorough clearing of the archdiocese's house is in order. There is probably no place in the US more in need of it (other than Boston). We shall see how many heads roll. May they be many.

Mitt Vindicated
The Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission ruled Mitt Romney a resident of Massachusetts for the last seven years, and therefore eligible to run for governor. Given the precedents on how domicile has been defined by the courts, they had little choice. The Democrats may appeal, but they already have what they wanted, an opportunity to bloody the GOP wonderboy. The absurd, truncheon-wielding Democrat ads were still running this morning. The knuckle-dragging wits who came up with the ads ought to go back to their day job of clubbing baby seals to death. If that is the most sophisticated the Democrat Party can get, they have no hope, and no clue.

I'm Back
Life sometimes gets in the way of blogging. But I thought I'd update you on a few things before I retire for the night.

Monday, June 24, 2002

"Wish I Had Said It" Department
Mark Shea posted this comment, apparetnly from a reader known as Dale the Lawyer: "The Palestinians want their own state. Ha. After two years of indiscriminate butchery by Palestinians, I wouldn't trust them with a lemonade stand."

Bush Calls For Arafat's Removal
President Bush has called for creation of a Palestinian state within the next three years, but on the condition that Arafat step down, and be replaced by the Palestinians with new leaders untainted by terrorism. I don't think that will happen, ever. If some responsible moderate Palestinian civilian with no ties to the PLO etc., emerged, he would be murdered by Arafat's thugs within minutes.

What we will end up with, within three years, is a Palestinian state, run by Arafat's cronies, which has not renounced the extinction of Israel, or the use of, or conniving at terror to achieve it. What a bear garden that will be. Development of the democratic skills that would make a Palestinian state an acceptable, responsible member of the world community will take a generation, or more. Rushing a Palestinian state into existence (to please whom-liberals?the Saudis?the French?- nobody worth kowtowing to) guarantees a disaster.

Cianci Guilty
Providence, RI Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci was convicted by a jury of one count from the coruption charges he faced. He was acquitted of the more dangerous racketeering charges. He is planning to appeal, to not resign, and to run for re-election- the James Michael Curley of Providence. Time for the Buddy Show to end.

Cianci Verdict In
The jury that has been considering the fate of Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci for the last 9 days has reached a verdict. It will be announced shortly.

A Point That Needs To Be Made
National Review's Stanley Kurtz has a very heplful article on the security needs of the country, the lack of voluntary recruits into the armed services, and the possibility of a draft. My own view is that a draft may yet be avoided, but that much more must be done to bring in voluntary recruits- full payment of college or graduate school at the institution of choice (not just public universities) after 4 years of service, full reimbursement of student loans already incurred, better pay, upgraded health and housing benefits- admittedly all very expensive. But if a less intrusive alternative to a draft might work, we should give it a good try first.

Mr. Kurtz does not mention this one tidbit that crossed the transom two weeks ago. While we are in the midst of a necessary war (really one for national survival), Donald Rumsfeld is considering further downsizing schemes. He wants to eliminate our heavy divisions (the units that kept the USSR out of Brussels and Bonn and pushed Saddam Hussein's army out of Kuwait). Never mind that we might face war with China over Taiwan, or North Korea over South Korea, or both, or both together. We may need to unleash our modern panzers on Libya, or Syria, or Iran, not to mention a Gulf War, Part II.

Colorado Congressman Tancredo, who has become something of a gadfly on security issues for the Administration, floated the idea last week that we need at least 20,000 troops deployed on the borders to secure the US from both illegal immigrants and terrorists slipping across. Personally, I think the number would be more realistically set at 40,000-50,000. Add this to the force protection mission which Mr. Kurtz discusses, and you see that we have a numbers problem of a very high order.

It seems to me that Rumsfeld is hampered by cost-cutting green eye shade blinders, and by false and unbalanced doctrine with regard to force structure. He thinks all can be accomplished by air power, and by lightly armed parties on the ground functioning as little more than forward air controllers and artillery observers. We failed to gain decisive results in the Tora Bora battle because we did not have adequate numbers of our own men on the ground. We let bin Laden (maybe) and hundreds of his followers (absolutely) slip through the net because we would not or could not deploy division-sized units to throw a ring of steel around the region. (Admittedly, the line of supply issues were complicated, and efforts to deploy larger forces there would have been problematic.)

Air power was to do it all. Air power did not do it all in 1944 (read Max Hastings' excellent Overlord, if you doubt me), or in 1968 over Vietnam (check Col. Harry Summers' On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War), or in 1991 (the Air Force did a great job, but Kuwait was only liberated when we executed an updated but otherwise fairly conventional blitzkrieg).

You may remember that Rumsfeld was said to be pushing ideas like these twenty years ago, which is why the more clear-headed national security people in the Reagan Administration saw fit to not employ Rumsfeld. Was President Bush dazzled by Rumsfeld's promise of more bang for less buck? Maybe. But we have to face the hard fact that a realistic national defense strategy involves all sorts of forces, heavy and light army divisions (and air-mobile divisions), an up-to-date air force, and powerful navy and marine amphibious elements. It also needs clear-headed doctrine, high morale, good training, and a will to win. We had a near perfect marriage of these elements from 1981-1992. It remains to be seen if all of those elements are present today.

Draft or no draft, a national defense does not come cheap. We should be ready, especially in time of war, to spend what it takes. Failure to do so will have tragic consequences.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Liturgical Abuses- Part III
I think this week's will be a short rant. I need more time to think about the long one that is coming on children at Mass. Today, I will continue chronologically to the Procession. I touched on some aspects of the procession in last week's blog. Forgive me for the repeats.

You may also notice, that this is the first in the series to discuss anything that the priest has anything to do with. To my mind, "liturgical abuses" are not just the prerogative of the priesthood. Laity do things at Mass that knot my knickers, too. I'll just call 'em as I see 'em. I am taking advantage of "Ordinary Time" to discuss abuses chronologically in the Mass. After that, I'll discuss other liturgical corruptions as they occur to me.

The procession has changed a great deal since my childhood in the early 1970s. For a fair amount of time, the procession retained vestiges of the older procession of pre-Vatican II days. But in the last 20 years especially, things have gone downhill. The quiet dignity and order of the procession has been lost. The procession has become more of a showcase, and less of a triumph.

The procession, in my experience, always used to start with the altar boy ringing a bell mounted on the door leading from the sacristy to the nave. The organist would begin the opening hymn, the number of which was posted on sign boards. Where the procession went depended upon whether the Mass was considered a High Mass, or a Low Mass. If a Low Mass, the procession went directly to the sanctuary from the door leading out of the sacristy. Since most of the churches I am familiar with have their sacristies to the right or left of he sanctuary, this was a short procession. Also, if a Low Mass, there would most often not be any music. If the Mass was considerd a High Mass, then the procession went down the side aisle, to the rear of the Church, behind the last row of pews, and up the center aisle (assuming the aisles were configured in this way).

Who was in the procession? For the most part, the processions consisted of one or two altar boys, any priests concelebrating, any deacons, and the celebrant. For Holy Thursday's removal of the Eucharist from the Tabernacle, the entire cohort of 20 altar boys, and all five priests in the parish could be expected to be in the procession, but that was a special occasion. One of the altar boys would carry a crucifix. Sometimes, a lay lector would be included. The lector was sure to be a respectable member of the community, properly dressed in suit and tie (or a conservative dress). We will discuss the dress of altar boys in another blog.

What we see today is rather different. For the most part, priests are in such short supply, that the idea of concelebrants has mostly become a thing of the past, except for the most exalted of occasions, or the funerals of priests. So, there is usually only one priest. A parish is lucky if it has two trained "altar servers" at all, let alone two at each Mass. Today's altar servers make up in numbers what they lack in training. But fear not, a plethora of lectors and Eucharistic ministers have swelled the procession's ranks. My own parish usually uses no less than 5 (!) Eucharistic ministers per Mass. Add to a lector (or two for special occasions like Palm Sunday) two-four untrained altar servers and the priest, and you have quite a procession. Sometimes it rivals the number of congregants in the first 10 rows of one side of the church. Such a procession moves rather slowly, and with the smoothness and precision of a snake with polio.

Of course, people don't dress for Mass the way they used to, and that includes the lectors and Eucharistic ministers in the procession. So what if some Eucharistic ministers are in tee-shirts and shorts in hot weather? The lector might be wearing a sweater, shirt, khakis, and sneakers. The "come-as-you-are-no-one-will-mind" generation has taken over the laity. It is now, in many places, a "come-as-you-are" procession. Dignity, order, and simplicity of purpose have been lost.

But I'm not done ranting about the procession yet. I've seen something very odd at my old home parish, and at one other in the last 5 years. The lector processes, with the lectionary held up, as if she were holding the Ark of the Covenant before her. I might have missed something, but when did we become protestants? The Word of God is crucial, of course. But the sacrifice of Christ enacted on the altar is the cental part of the Mass. The lectionary is just, let us not forget, a political compromise worked out in the backrooms of the American Church's bureacracy, and changed every once-in-a-while. It is just a manual of what readings should be said at Mass during which years (cycles A, B, & C for insiders). Let's drop this exaggerated reverence for the lectionary. Let's put the reverence back to where we as Catholics ought to believe it belongs- in the real presence of the the Lord in the Eucharist. To accomplish this, the procession has to be stripped back to celebrant, and properly dressed and trained altar servers, one holding a crucifix.

We also should think about re-mounting those bells on the doorway, instead of the "music minister" announcing the number of the opening hymn (as if, despite 30 years' of experience, he actually expected the congregation to sing it), and telling us to stand. Just post the numbers, and ring the bell, we're trained to stand anyway. It is so much simpler and so much more dignified. It is a better way of beginning the sacrifice of the Mass.

Summer Time, And the News Is Boring
We have a real lack of cutting edge stuff (I hate the new term "edgy" for this- to me edgy means nervous and hinky, not avant garde) to discuss this weekend. The only news worth passing on that I've seen so far is the report that bin Laden is alive and well, and planning new attacks on us. We sort of knew that already. The Scandal is quiet, for now. Politics have shifted into low gear for the summer, on the theory that no one pays serious attention until after Labor Day. Catholic blogdom has been virtually silent this weekend. National Review's The Corner seems to be down (at least I haven't been able to access it since Friday). Even the redoubtable Rush Limbaugh was out sick all last week. Nevertheless, we will scan the sources available, and see if there isn't a thing or two worth talking about.

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