Friday, August 29, 2003

Should Be A Slow News Weekend
Three-day holiday weekends generally are, apart from the unexpected. I'll be around if anything should pop up, or something good catches my eye, or I just feel like ranting.

Happy Labor Day!

Beheading Of John the Baptist
Today, the Church commemorates the beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the Precursor.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Large Power Outage In London
Seems to have an explainable cause.

A Certifiable Maniac With Nukes
Well there is nothing we can really do about it. We don't dare launch a pre-emptive attack as it would start an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula with China lurking in the background (or not). The danger of a pre-emptive strike at the weapons themselves is that we might not get them.

Even if we had not attacked Iraq, North Korea was so close to the bomb, it would have made no difference. The argument that Iraq distracted us from dealing with North Korea holds no water, as it was never contemplated to use the military forces that we used in Iraq in North Korea. Were the critics really arguing that we ought to have potentially started the Third World War fighting a country with nukes within their grasp and possibly one with nukes (and nukes made all the more effective by the tender ministrations of the Clinton Administration) instead of takling the easier job in Iraq first?

No, if they thought about it, that was not what they were urging. They just wanted to criticize President Bush.

The task now is to make sure North Korea cannot use its nukes to blackmail Japan or South Korea. That won't be an easy task, since the South Koreans have in the last two decades turned into craven appeasers of the worst sort. The Japanese may have a little more backbone. We will also have to limit that government's contacts and trade with the outside world to make sure they do not export either the weapons or the facilities and techniques for making them to al Qaeda or other jackels like Libya, Iran, Syria, or Cuba.

The only policy that makes sense is a secret effort to overthow the North Korean regime without a prolonged struggle: a sudden military coup without our fingerprints on it. Needless to say, our success at such things lately has not been promising.

On the positive side, it appears from the article that at the six-nation summit, and Russia and China seemed to be caught by surprise by the North Korean announcement. The North Korean delegate interupted the Russian delegate and claimed that he was paid by the US to say what he had said. The Chinese delegate was described as visibly angry about the announcement (no matter what China is planning about the eventual future of the Korean Peninsula, it can't be happy having an unstable person with control of nukes on its border).

The war against terrorism just took on even more urgency. We need to clean up the world neighborhood so North Korea will have no one to sell a nuke to.

Lack of Air Conditioning, No, Policies That Discourage the Use of Air Conditioning, the Cause of French Humanitarian Disaster
Val MacQueen, writing for FrontPage Magazine, amplifies a point I have made about the deaths of more than 10,000 French people in the recent heat wave, that government policies over the years that have discouraged the use of air conditioning are to blame for the massive number of deaths. It is not that they just condemn the US for refusing to sign on to Kyoto, and for using so much freon. They (both Socialists and Conservatives) have refused to encourage the use of air conditioning domestically because of bogus environmental claims.

Well, we may use a lot of freon. But old people and asthma sufferers don't die in droves here when the temperature stays hot for an extended period.

An even more troubling point. The bodies are piling up unclaimed, because many people on their August vacations have so little sense of family obligation and duty that they are refusing to cut short their holiday to come home to bury Grandma (whom they left alone in a sweltering apartment with scarcely a thought during the worst heat wave on record).

Mon Dieu! What a bastardly bunch the French have become!

Next Week Will Be Catholic Homeschooling Week At Recta Ratio
Next week is the traditional back-to-school week here in Greater Boston. So I will try to blog or provide links each day next week that would be helpful for those Catholic parents considering homeschooling or already doing it. As far as possible, I'll try not to duplicate last year's postings.

I Would Call Them Little Lenins
Lane Core has a great blog posted on the kneeling controversy.

He's right. It isn't about kneeling or standing so much as normal Catholics (at least the ones with a pulse who care about what is going on and the dignity of the Mass) becoming fed up with the ongoing efforts to revolutionize Catholic worship and eliminate its vertical, hierarchical element.

It isn't about GIRM. GIRM by itself is fine. The only significant change it speaks of is bowing before receiving Communion. That is fine. It isn't what I would have preferred to see adopted as the sign of revrence, but it is OK.

The controversy is about liberal liturgists, parish councils, music ministers, pastors, and bishops and their staffs using GIRM as an excuse to implement their own nostrums under its cover, just as they did with Vatican II, which aside from ordering the translation of the Mass into the vernacular, was quite non-revolutionary. Do they really think we can't read GIRM for ourselves? Do they just assume that all Catholics in the pews will bend over and assume the position on their demand?

Those times are over. They ended with the Geoghan case here in Boston.

Respect the office as required. But give 'em hell if they try to go beyond what is absolutely required in changing Catholic liturgy for the more demotic. Let them know you don't like their plans. Complain loudly to the local bishop. And if he is on the other side, write the Congregation for Divine Worship in respectful tones. Cardinal Arinze just might listen.

Saint Rumbald of Kent
Today is also the feast of a saint with a very...ahh...interesting life story. Saint Rumbald of Kent, upon his birth, proclaimed, "I am a Christian. I am a Christian. I am a Christian." He demanded Baptism and First Communion. This being done, he tottered to a nearby well and preached for three days. Then he died.

We are not quite sure at what time Saint Rumbald was supposed to have lived. But Kentish fisherman took Rumbald as their patron. They would set aside the proceeds from the sale of the 8 largest fish of each catch for the year, and then have a "Rumbald" feast on Christmas Eve with the accumulated funds. Sometimes, one still hears Christmas Eve referred to as "Rumbald Night" in Kent.

Saint Augustine
Today is the feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo, one of the most important doctors of the Church. Augustine was born at Tagaste in 354, the son of Patricius and St. Monica, whom we discussed yesterday. Though subscribed as a catechumen, Augustine lost his faith as a young man while studying at Carthage. He lived openly with his mistress and had a son, Adeodatus, by her.

Augustine had become a Manichaean in his 20s, and taught rhetoric at Carthage and later at Milan. He found his faith again and, along with his son, was baptized by St. Ambrose in Milan in 387.

After his mother's death, Augustine returned to Africa, sold all of his possessions, and founded a monastery on one of his former estates. In 391, Augustine was ordained a priest at Hippo. Four years later, he was named co-adjutor of Hippo. In 396, he became bishop of Hippo. For 44 years, he served the see of Hippo.

His works, The Confessions and The City of God are basic reading for all educated people. He also left more than 200 letters, and over 400 sermons. Most of his 96 published works are considered authoratitive by the Church, and served to combat Donatism, Pelagianism, and Manichaenism.

Saint Augustine died at Hippo on August 28, 470, while the city was under siege by the Vandals.

Dean Opens NH Lead
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean (D-Pyongyang) has opened up significant leads over Senator John Forbes Heinz Kerry (D-France) in both New Hampshire and Iowa.

Democrats like their insanity unfiltered.

Don't write off Kerry. Yes he is wooden, inhumanly distant, a shell that may at one point have been a human being, Gatsby come to life, and the only person Al Gore infected with his case of Dutch Elm Disease. But he also has an impressive war record, a somewhat raffish early reputation, and a wife who can fling $200 million into the race without missing it. All those things count for something with Democrats, and some of it with people as a whole. He is the more dangerous candidate.

And Dean, so far to the left as to be absurd on the national level, is peaking too early. If this Dean boomlet had occurred in February, it would have been fatal for Kerry. But in August, six months before Iowa and New Hampshire? It is just a blip on the political radar screen. It gives Kerry a chance to come from behind and be seen as an underdog.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Must Read Internet
Father Joseph Wilson on the Problem with optional celibacy.

Thanks to Domenico Bettinelli for the link.

To Those Who Want To Get Huggy During the Sign of Peace
Go visit Lowell.

Cleveland Forces Liberal Changes In the Name of GIRM
Chris over at Maine Catholic and Beyond has a great post on the four salient aspects of the revolution being foisted upon Cleveland Catholics by the local bishop under the guise of implementing GIRM.

Everyone is to have their hands up for the Pater Noster.

Everyone is to hug his neighbor for the Sign of Peace.

Everyone is to bow before receiving the Eucharist.

No one is to kneel after going back to the pew after receiving.

Only one of these is actually taken from the text of GIRM. Bowing before reception is a sign of reverence. It is not the common one. More common is making the Sign of the Cross after receiving. That is what I do. I've never seen anyone bow except at a parish already inculturated to the bishop's interpretation of GIRM (Blessed Sacrament in Seattle). I have no problem with the sign of revernce. I just wish they had chosen the one already in use by about 20% of regular communicants rather than coming up with something completely new.

The Holy See has been very careful to say that you can still kneel after communion and engage in individual prayer. The bishop is forcing on his flock something not required by GIRM. I'll take Cardinal Arinze's word on the subject, thank you.

There is nothing in GIRM that requires the adoption of the "orens" position for the Pater Noster. Even if Archbishop Sean says we have to do it, I'll still stand with my hands folded. In fact, Mrs. F. and I hold hands for a good part of the Mass anyway, not out of any sort of sense that it should be done by everybody, but because we like and love each other in a special way. If it becomes an issue here, I'll stop doing it for the Pater Noster, just to make a point.

Hugging? Neighbors Domenico Bettinelli and Mark Sullivan had good takes on it yesterday. Mrs. F. and I exchange a peck at the Sign of Peace. I shake hands with a few people around me. That is all you will ever get out of me. I don't like the Sign of Peace to begin with. I ain't hugging anybody, ever. Period. End of discussion. If some hyper liberal pastor has me excommunicated over it, I'll appeal to Rome, and win.

Took the Myers-Briggs personality test and I can't say I am surprised at the results.

Introverted (I) 100% Extroverted (E) 0%
Sensing (S) 91% Intuitive (N) 9%
Thinking (T) 70% Feeling (F) 30%
Judging (J) 91% Perceiving (P) 9%

Other ISTJs? George Washington, George H.W. Bush, Paul Coverdale, Eeyore, Puddleglum, Jack Webb.

For what it is worth.

Thanks to Mark Sullivan at Irish Elk for the link.

There Has Been A Discussion Going On At The Corner About Memorizing Poetry
Memorizing poetry is an old exercise for the mind. Churchill did it as a school boy. Franklin Roosevelt did it, too, if I am not mistaken. John Derbyshire, who got everyone started on the concept, has pointed out some brilliant poetry worthy of commiting to memory.

Lepanto, by Chesterton (very fitting for our current battle against Moslem terrorism)

Psalm 23 (I have to admit that the King James Translation is more beautiful than any Catholic one)

The Lake Isle of Innisfree , by Yeats

Concord Hymn , by Emerson

Elegy In a Country Churchyard, by Grey

Recessional, by Kipling

Annabel Lee, by Poe

On His Blindness, by Milton

I have a few others of my own:

Psalm 51

Dies Irae

Essay On Man, Epistle I, by Pope

The Magnificat

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, by Longfellow (horribly inaccurate, but still an American classic)

"We Band of Brothers" speech, From Henry V, by Shakespeare

The Soliloquies From Hamlet & Macbeth, by Shakespeare

Mending Wall, by Frost

After Apple Picking,by Frost

At Thirty-One, When Some Are Rich, by Larkin

The Corner is a wonderful thing. But it doesn't have a comments feature. I do. Feel free to post your own suggestions.

Requiescat In Pace
The bodies of the crew of that plane that crashed off Hyannis yesterday have been found. Requiescat in pace.

Geoghan's Conviction To Be Thrown Out Because Of His Death
So Geoghan will moulder in his grave with a clean criminal record. He was in the process of appealing his conviction when he was murdered. Under Massachusetts law, that means that his conviction is thrown out and his record cleared, since he could not complete the appeal process.

Of course, this makes no sense. Is the law presuming that the conviction would be set aside on appeal? If so, why aren't all offenders allowed to roam at large until their appeals are exhausted? If the conviction has enough validity to jail the perpetrator, then it should be presumed that, had he lived to conclude the appeals process, he would fail in it. The presumption ought to be in favor of he conviction, as only 25% of convictions are overturned on appeal.

Clearing the record of this person is an injustice. Geoghan abused over 130 kids (mostly boys). When 130 different people from different places come forward and say you did something to them, there is little question that you did it. Guilt is not really a question. Sure most of the cases could not be criminally prosecuted because of the statute of limitations. But there is no reasonable doubt that he did these things. A technicality prevents prosecution for a host of crimes. Another technicality clears his criminal record because he happened to be slaughtered by a homicidal maniac in prison.

Well, the Geoghan case has gone on to a higher court, to be considered by a Judge from Whose rulings there is no appeal, and to Whom technicalities don't count. Perhaps that is some small comfort to his outraged victims.

Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando iudex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
per sepulcra regionum,
coget omnes ante thronum.

Mors stupebit et natura,
cum resurget creatura,
iudicanti responsura.

Liber scriptus proferetur,
in quo totum continetur,
unde mundus iudicetur.

Iudex ergo cum sedebit,
quidquid latet apparebit:
nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
quem patronum rogaturus?
cum vix iustus sit securus.

I Had Thought This Might Be A Light Year For My Hayfever
But it has really kicked in over the last few days. I guess the damp spring delayed the ragweed by a week or ten days. But it sure is blowing its pollen around now. Ahhh...Aaaahhhh.....Aaaahhhhh-Chooooo!

Dark Chocolate Reduces Blood Pressure
A small medical research study has come to the conclusion that dark chocolate contains some of the same beneficial effects as red wine and spaghetti sauce (and garlic). They mean really good dark chocolate, not so much the Hershey's Special Dark Bar.

I have long snacked on Baker's chocolate bars. The higher the cocoa content, the better, apparently. Lindt sells a 70% bar. That, or a Godiva dark bar are the sorts of things you need. Forget about milk chocolate or white chocolate.

After years of telling us that everything we consume aside from rabbit food is bad for us, medical science is beginning to come around to a more reasonable position. Pizza and spaghetti sauce and garlic and red wine and oatmeal and dark chocolate are now beginning to be seen as positive for the heart. I'll bet that onions and pumpkin and corn are fine, too. We are beginning to move away from the absurd idea that people should eat nothing but Brussels Sprouts, carrots, celery, broccoli, spinach and such.

That is the way to a more liveable model for good heart health.

"Hello, Godiva..."

It Is Officially Back-To School Time
The first U-Haul truck has had its roof sheered off by an overpass on Storrow Drive. This happens every time the college students start moving in.

A Review of Michael Rose's Priest
I think I will have to put this one on my "To Be Read" list. Everyone, including me, needs to read something positive about the Church these days.

John Hinckley Could Be Released Soon
This man should never get out of state custody. Even if he was insane when he shot President Reagan, the attempted assasination of a president should mean lifetime confinement, no matter what. According to the article, Hinckley has hooked up with a woman who murdered her child, and has corresponded with Squeaky Fromme and Ted Bundy.

An effort should be made to keep this menace locked up until the day he dies. The Bradys would do better to spend their time trying to keep the pserson who destroyed Jim's life away from the public than trying to ban guns.

The Red Planet Ain't Red At All
It is sort of yellowish. Tonight, it will be the closest it has been to earth at least since the invention of the telescope. Around midnight, check out the southern sky if it is clear where you are. Mars will be the brightest thing in the sky (guaranteed, as we are in a new moon period).

I Didn't Know There Was A Statue of Lenin In Seattle
That's something even we in the People's Republic of Massachusetts don't have. Maybe I'd better not mentin it, lest the the Bolshies here get an idea.

Thanks to Mark Shea for the link.

Saint Caesarius of Arles
Today is the feast of Saint Caesarius of Arles, a Gallo-Roman of good family who was first a monk at Lerins, and later priest and bishop at Arles. As bishop of Arles, he was essentially primate of France and Spain. At Orange in 529, he convoked a council that established 25 Articles of Faith essential in the battle against Arianism and Pelagianism. He established a monastic rule that held sway in Gaul until St. Benedict's Rule supplanted it.

Saint Monica
In the reformed calendar of saints' days (growl) today is the feast of Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine. Her traditional feast is May 4th. Monica had an unhappy marriage, in which she nevertheless persisted, as is proper. By the time of her husband's death, she had succeeded in converting him from paganism to the Faith.

But it is her relationship with her son Augustine that is of greatest interest. Augustine, when young was a Manichean and kept a mistress. Monica's constant prayers for his conversion eventually bore fruit. She had been told by a bishop she asked to try to convince Augustine of the veracity of the Faith to, "Go. Continue as you have done until now. It is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish." She died at the age of 56 at Ostia, as she and Augustine were returning to Africa from a pilgrimage to Rome.

Saint Monica is a model for us of constancy, single-heartedness in the faith, and devotion. As a model Christian mother and wife, she serves as a guide for a society so badly in need of her example.

Battle Of Long Island
In late August, 1776, General William Howe at the head of a large army of British and Hessian troops and supported by a fleet commanded by his older brother Lord Richard Howe, confronted George Washington's army at the western end of Long Island. Washington's army was drawn up along the high ground of the Heights of Guan on a more-or-less east-west axis. Howe, having landed from Staten Island, was south of Washington's position. Washington had around 11,000 with him (more were on Manhattan and elsewhere). Howe had over 25,000.

At Bunker Hill the previous summer, Howe had learned a healthy respect for Americans holding a fixed position. At the suggestion of his second in command, General Henry Clinton, Howe approved a plan of marching most of his forces under cover of night eastward, past Washington's open left flank at Jamaica Pass., and wheeling north and west, rolling up Washington's unsuspecting army.

On the morning of August 27, with General Charles, Earl Cornwallis leading the vanguard, Howe's forces picked up the three militia officers tasked by Washington with guarding the pass. The elite grenadiers, light infantry, and Guards filed through followed by line regiments. Once Howe was in position, the Hessian General von Heister launched an attack on Washington's right, designed to fix the Americans in place. The Maryland and Delaware troops on the right held firm against von Heister, while Howe, Clinton, and Cornwallis rolled up the American left in detail.

"Lord" Stirling, the American commander on the right, launched his 250 Maryland troops in attack after attack on von Heister's 6,000, in order to hold open an escape route to Washington's fall-back position- fortifications on the Brooklyn Heights. Finally, a handful of Stirling's men were able to wade across Gowanus Creek. Stirling himself had to surrender his sword to von Heister, after most of Washington's force sought shelter within the fortifications. Washington, watching the stand of Stirling's men from Brooklyn, exclaimed, "Dear God, what brave men I must lose this day." Howe had pushed Washington back, at a cost of 377 killed and wounded (including both British and German) against American casualties of 1,407 killed, wounded, and captured.

Howe stopped at the fortifications. He had no desire to attack fortifications head-on again. He reasoned that his brother's fleet would sail into the river separating Long Island from Manhattan, while his own army laid siege to the fortifications. It would not be long before Washington hoisted a white flag. Clinton was disgusted at what he considered cowardly behavior on Howe's part. Washington's army was demoralized by the disaster. At the cost of a 1000 casualties more, at most, Washington's army could be wiped out.

The winds proved adverse for Lord Howe's fleet for several days. On the night of August 29th, with Colonel John Glover's regiment of former fishermen from Marblehead manning the boats, Washington managed to extract the remnants of his army (some 9,000 men) from the Brooklyn Heights and across the river to Manhattan.

Howe was knighted for his victory, and rightly so. His battle plan was a masterpiece of tactical audacity, all the more amazing in its execution because very few of his troops had seen battle before. But Clinton was probably right. Had he pushed the offensive against the Brooklyn Heights, Washington would have had to hand over his sword. Faced with the defeat of Washington's main army, Congress might very well have sued for peace on generous terms short of independence. Howe could have ended the war and the short-lived American republic on August 27, 1776.

Bismarck later remarked that there is a special Providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America. I would not dispute him. Let us pray it holds

Death In a Storefront Church
The "minister" laying hands on an autistic boy was a little too caught up in his quackery. The boy suffocated. The "minister" is now in jail. But the "minister" wasn't the only one involved. The boy's mother held one leg, another woman the other, while a third woman sat across his chest.

Healing is a very special gift God bestows on very highly favored saints once in a blue moon. The thought that any enthusiast who styles himself a "minister" in some rented space in a strip mall (and obviously outside the True Church) can heal anyone of something as serious as autism by the laying on of hands is absurd. This child was endangered and killed to no good purpose. God have mercy on his soul. God grant his family, even the incredibly stupid mother, solace.

The Kerry Campaign Is Having Trouble Coming Up With A Theme Song
They need a song to play whenever Kerry enters a crowded room.

Given the Senator's voting record on the war and the US military and foreign policy generally over the years, I have a suggestion:

La Marseillaise

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Commuter Plane Crashes
Apparently, a commuter plane carrying 21 people crashed near Hyannis in the last hour or two. Rescue units are trying to get to the crash site. Some witnesses say the plane exploded on impact. God help those involved.

Update: Only two crewmen were on board, not 21 people. But still, God help them and those going to their rescue/recovery.

First It Was Incense Causing Cancer
Now the Irish government is considering a tax on fatty foods. Somebody in the health ministry has way, way too much time on his hands.

Not Good News For A Quick Settlement of the Boston Pervert Priest Cases
The US Attorney said that his office is considering federal criminal charges against the Archdiocese or its former leaders.

Just to remind you, once the state declined to prosecute, saying that the state of the law did not permit criminal prosecutions at the time the actions were committed, the insurance companies reluctantly agreed to participate in genuine settlement talks and to, potentially, contribute the lion's share to a settlement. The Archdiocese made an offer, which the plaintiffs rejected, leading to a counteroffer by the Archdiocese (and the insurance companies).

The insurance companies agreed to participate meaningfully in settlement discusions because the inability of the Commonwealth to prosecute virtually ended (not completely, but it would have been much harder to prove) their ability to disclaim liability by invoking the "illegal acts" limitation of liability clause standard in liability insurance contracts.

Now, with the feds openly saying that they are thinking about prosecuting, the old hope on the part of the insurance companies flames again. If the feds prosecute and the Archdiocese enters into a plea arrangement with the US Attorney's office, then maybe they can back out of any liability under that clause after all. Watch for the Archdiocese to withdraw the offer, said to be $65 million (a great part from the insurers).

So, forget what I said about a settlement by Columbus Day. Unless the feds come out and say there will be no prosecutions very soon, the insurance companies, hoping to walk away without paying anything, will resume the stalling tactics they have used from the beginning (they were waiting to see if the state would do anything).

So the US Attorney, in openly considering the requests of the most vengeance-minded of the victims, is really doing the majority of the victims a great disservice, by creating a delay in any settlement. And the delay is not doing the Archdiocese any good, either, as it must get this matter behind it as quickly as possible.

Why the US Attorney has to stick his nose into this matter now, with settlement fairly close, is beyond me. He has known the facts as well as anyone else all along. I'm sure someone on his staff has been tracking what fedeal laws might have been violated. People accused Reilly of grandstanding and trying to look important by investigating the Archdiocese. Reilly got out of the way so that the parties could settle. Sullivan coming forward at this time is much worse.

All he had to do was piggy-back his inquiry onto the state's. He does not need to undertake a complete de novo review of the matter. He sounds ("we are just at the start of the process, " "it is much too early to say") as if he is planning a de novo review of something he should have been keeping up with anyway. This sort of thing could postpone a settlement by months, perhaps scuttle it completely, if the plaintiffs don't take the existing offer quickly (before the insurers can back away from it).

Everybody wants to see these claims settled fairly (except the insurance companies, who just want them to go away). It is just that responsible Catholics don't want to see the Archdiocese financially crippled by it, and want the insurers to pay the lion's share.

The Two Towers DVD Was Released Today
But it is not the deluxe version, just the theatrical release.

Sounds Like a Clean Sweep At NASA Will Be Necessary

Six Under-Attended Catholic Parishes In One City: Something Has To Give
Neighbor Domenico Bettinelli is back from vacation, and has some thoughts posted on the need to consolidate Catholic parishes in places like Salem.

Parish closings are coming. I don't see any way around it. My own pastor, at 59, is convinced that, before he hits retirement age, they will have him riding circuit between three parishes. Even keeping one priest in a parish will be impossible with the number of priests due to retire in the next ten years (unless they all have remarkably good health and continue in ministry until they drop).

Just looking around Salem, I can see that none of the six remaining parishes are genuinely healthy. The average age of the people in the pews is remarkably high. We have lost two generations through bad catechesis, the pressures against the Faith inherent in modern living and liberal social attitudes, and the Scandal. Unlike other parts of the country, it is not as if there is a right-wing shadow church (SSPX) taking some of the more conservative Catholics from regular parish life. No, the traditionalist opposition is even weaker here than the Republican Party in Cambridge (essentially non-existent).

Some more effective form of regionalization is needed. We have a Salem Catholic Cluster, but the most notable thing that has accomplished was having every church put up signs last winter saying,"War is expensive. Peace is free." O'Sullivan's Law in action. Consolidation of parishes makes sense for the short term.

We need something more in the long term. We need a re-awakening of the Faith. We need something like a new Catholic Reformation, a Catholic Great Awakening. We need a generation of saints and prophets running dioceses and parishes, preaching to the laity, calling us back to the Faith, serving as positive examples. Without such a generation, we might as well call in missionaries from Africa and South America, and start from scratch, like Saint Augustine of Canterbury and his mission to re-implant the Faith in England.

The decline of men entering the seminary points to a serious problem. Honestly, is this country producing enough new priests so that even the existing structure of dioceses in this country can be maintained? It must be close. There are how many dioceses? How many new priests are being ordained annually? Given drop-out ratios, will there in 30 years even be enough priests to have a bishop in every diocese that currently exists? Will the Archdiocese of Boston end up with the staffing level of the Archdiocese of Anchorage (one Archbishop, 30 or so priests)?

New, Better Catholic Textbooks Becoming Available
This is indeed a problem. Mrs. F's school changes textbooks almost every year because they just can't find books that are satisfactory for their needs. They have had a different religion text every year since she has been there, and they were all inadequate. And they are also faced with budget problems because of declining enrollment and the Scandal, so that they have gone to a form of Whole Language method, trying to eliminate individualized reading, spelling, and phonics books (saving money). I'm sure there has also been some effort to buy one text book to get a deal on another ("buy our history series, and get a Catholic religion series at half price!").

The literature and social studies texts they have ended up using are so politically correct and multi-culti that they really are not suitable. They differ not at all from what can be found in some public schools (except that the public schools can afford to buy whole new copies of the same textbook each year: the parochial schools have to cling to the used texts that they are retaining). What they are lacking is Catholic identity and re-inforcing the Catholic Faith. Catholic children need to know about the same things public school kids do. But they also need to see the important contributions of the Faith to civilization.

And the religion texts available through major publishers are so watered down that they say little more than that Jesus was nice, and that we should be nice like Jesus, and maybe read the Bible once in a while. Something meatier that gives kids a more comprehensive understanding of the Faith is necessary, not just for the sake of balance, but for the sake of their souls. If Catholic school kids never hear about sin, the Devil, death, judgment, Heaven or Hell, and the torments of damnation they are not being educated properly. If all they are taught is the "butterflies & flowers curriculum" plus Talking About Touching (which is going to take a good portion of religion class in the Archdiocese from now on) they are being shortchanged in a huge way.

Individual teachers can use their own resources to try to make up the deficit. We've invested in some child-appropriate books about various saints, and they do a saints research project for All Saints' Day. Mrs. F. teaches them how to pray the rosary, and does stations with weekly them in Lent. They learn good, old, demonstrably Catholoic hymns in her class. But not every teacher knows enough about the Faith herself to do that. Some of the younger teachers are shockingly ignorant, know it, and are very uncomfortable about teaching religion when they neither know the subject nor really believe most of it.

Hopefully this effort will expand and will be a source that Catholic schools and homeschooling parents can really make use of. This is a huge need the major textbook publishers are unable or unwilling to fill.

Archbishop's Residence In Bogata Dynamited
And we wonder why the Holy Father doesn't seem to be giving the problems in the American church 100% of his attention 100% of the time.

Another Martyr For the Faith In the Congo
God rest Father Kpanga. It would be interesting to see more details on his ministry and why he was singled out for abduction and murder.

Looks Like Congratulations Are In Order For Two FSSP Priests
Father Paul Carr, who has been North American District Superior is moving to the order's headquarters in Germany as General Secretary after completeing a three-year term. Father George Gabet, who has been running a FSSP parish in Tulsa for the last two years, is the new North American District Superior.

I bought a calendar from the order last year, and Father Carr has been good enough to keep me posted with the order's newsletter since then. Father Gabet was featured in the last newsletter I read.

Archbishop Pell Likely To Get a Red Hat
That seems a near-certainty. The interesting question raised by the article is whether Archbip Pell stays in Australia, or is being thought of as the next head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Ratzinger is thought to be considering retiring. If so, Archbishop Pell would do a good job in his place.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Will the UK Be the Next Major Al Qaeda Target?
With a larger Moslem population per capita, if has more of a built-in network of sympathizers there than in the US. It is an easier target. The article raises the prospect that the Palace of Westminister, where Parliament sits, could be a target.

It Looks As If PM Cretin's Arrogant Insistence On Gay Marriage Could Cost the Liberal Party Big Time in the Coming Election
Let us hope that it not only costs the Liberals control of Parliament, but that the drive to ram gay marriage down the throats of North America will falter in Canada. A huge fight is brewing, with the Canadian Catholic bishops finally saying things that have needed to be said for a long time on moral issues.

I do fear that the coming Massachusetts SJC ruling on the issue will give added momentum to the pro-gay marriage folks. On the other hand, it could create a huge national backlash, forcing President Bush and Congress to get behind a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a legally recognized union between a man and a women. That is the only way to overcome the problem, as only a constitutional amendment can't be overturned by the courts.

Where To File This One: Under "Religion of Peace" or "Al Qaeda Summer Offensive"?

Looks Like There Was A Conspiracy To Kill Geoghan
A guard was distracted by other prisoners, and Geoghan was bound, beaten, strangled, and stomped by a Neo-Nazi lifer with nothing else to lose.

The correctional officials have a great deal to answer for in allowing the conditions that lead to this to exist. But jailing Geoghan is not something they have to apologize for. He deserved to be imprisoned, perhaps more so than any other non-murdering inmate. But they should have done a better job protecting him from inmates like his killer.

Feast of Saint Bartholomew
Traditionally yesterday, but now shifted to the 25th under the reformed calendar. We have no real details on the life of Saint Bartholomew, except that he was one of the Apostles (though St. John's Gospel does not list him, but instead speaks of Nathaniel, who may have been the same man). Tradition says that he preached the Gospel in "nearer India," but that tradition comes from more than a hundred years after his death, and we really have no idea about its authenticity.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Little Villages
I see from the display in the store across the street that the time has come for those Department 56 Halloween villages, a popular spin off from the wildly popular Christmas villages. The Halloween line is becoming almost as impressive as what is available for those who want to re-create Dickens' England in miniature in their living rooms.

But allow me to recommend a local alternative. Department 56 has impressive things, but Lemax, from Canton, MA also has a line of Halloween and Christmas villages, as well as an even better assortment of trees and other accessories. We were suprised to find the Michael's Crafts in Anchorage fully stocked in mid-July with the Lemax Halloween village sets. I buy Lemax trees whenever I can find them for 1/32nd scale military diorama work. And in the course of doing that, I naturally look over the rest of their line. The figures and houses and other items they produce for both Halloween and Christmas seem to be highly imaginative, fun, and of good quality.

Lemax does not sell directly to the public. But Michael's, Walmart, Stop & Shop, and other stores carry their villages. The better prices will be found at Walmart and Stop & Shop. If you are looking for something that might not be in the store near you, check out the site of a company in California I sometimes do business with, Dollhouses, Trains, & More, which sells at least 740 Lemax items year-round. The link takes you directly to the start of their Lemax items.

I've never gotten into the setting up of these villages because of one thing. Whether you buy Department 56 or Lemax, the people and buildings are not built to the same scale. The people are generally too tall to fit through the doors of any of the houses. Since I build what I hope will be museum-quality dioramas of military scenes as a hobby, I can't abide the lack of uniformity of scale used in these villages. The idea of them intrigues me. But until they get things all into the same scale, it just does not look right to me.

Oh No, There Is Nothing Wrong With Our Culture
Disgusting and depressing almost beyond words.

More Haydn Pearson
For your reading pleasure on an August Sunday when there is nothing special in the news, why not another of the long out-of-print essays of The Countryman, Haydn Pearson, whose works appeared in the Boston Herald American and New York Times (and other papers) some 50 years ago. In my opinion, Pearson was the master of the nostalgic seasonal essay on New England life. The following is from his book, The Countryman's Year, a collection of his syndicated columns, published back in 1949. If you come across a copy of this or any of Pearson's other books in a library or a used book store, treat yourself, buy or borrow it.

Mist Over Meadows
There is beauty on the meadows in the cool, moist mornings. Through humid days the brassy sun circles near the pole of the horizon. A heat blanket lies over the shorn hayfields. Bird music is muted and water courses quietly in pebbly-bottomed brooks. Corn leaves curl their edges, and clumps of white birches on boulder-dotted upland pastures stand patiently above the brown, sun-cured grasses.

When the first fingers of soft-colored light show above the meeting line of earth and sky, the meadows are gray-white ponds. The deep blanket of mist conceals the willows along the creek and hides the tall vaselike elms that dot the mowing. The land patiently waits for the sun to pull in night's cover.

When the sun lifts above the horizon and the slanting rays pierce the mist, there is an interlude of lovliness. Minute by minute the mist grows thinner. The shadowy shapes of the trees show dimly through the mistiness. In a few minutes one can see the dark, winding outline of the waterway. As the main body of mist disappears, small ponds of the whiteness linger at low spots like white blossoms carelessly tossed on the gold-green floor of the meadow.

At dawn there is welcome coolness in the air. Soon the sun will throw its heat over the countryside. But for a time there is beauty on the meadows in the mornings.

Late summer mornings in the New England countryside: the apples ripening on the trees, perhaps a few ready for picking, the pumpkins in the patch quite orange now, and the size of a classroom's globe, corn, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers coming in from the garden daily. The blackberries bushes are almost exhausted and bare. It is time to think of putting up jellies and preserves. Mums are in their late-summer glory. The kids and teachers reluctantly prepare to end their long vacation. The fall catalogs from LL Bean, etc. are arriving.

But there is one more week of summer idyll left. The stores may feature fall clothes, garlands of fall leaves, and pumpkin-shaped candy dishes, but there is something to relish in the last days of summer's break from reality. Beaches will be crowded this week. Morning and evening traffic should be fairly easy. The college kids are moving in, but have some days of idleness ahead. We'll hear a lot about Muscular Dystrophy in the popular press in anticipation of the annual effort to raise money to cure that terrible disease. Almost everyone who counts will be on vacation this week, including the Pope, the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court.

The gift of summer is to be soon replaced by the cooler gift of fall: football, baseball playoffs and World Series, apple picking, fresh cider, the joy of being able to cook again after summer's heat, the red, yellow, and orange of the maples, Harvest Home, Halloween, Thanksgiving, the nearer anticipation of Christmas.

Grasp what remains of summer and enjoy it.

Geoghan Strangled and Beaten To Death By Neo-Nazi
And the guy was serving life for strangling someone else to death. Obviously, he didn't belong anywhere near Geoghan, who was supposed to be isolated (apparently not very effectively).

Saugus Loses 9-2
Well, the Saugus lads are to be congratulated for getting so far. No other team from Massachusetts has done so well.

Traditional Feast of Saint Bartholomew
But under the reformed calendar, his feast is celebrated tomorrow.

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