Saturday, January 10, 2004

Around St. Blog's

A few pieces really stood out. And I always say, "If I don't have much original to say, make a note of those who do."

Secret Agent Man does a fine job, complete with footnotes, dissecting the rebellious Chicago priests' letter objecting to Church teaching on homosexualtity.

Dale Price again proves why he is the Lord High Executioner of inane written thought over at Dyspeptic Mutterings. I defer to the noble lord.

Over at Irish Elk, Mark Sullivan calls our attention to one of my great heroes, Winston Churchill.

At Maine Catholic and Beyond, Chris is calling our attention to human crises that the media, ever eager to handwring over continued disorder in Iraq, seems to never have heard about.

And over at Bettnet, Domenico Bettinelli calls our attention to something most of us would rather forget: homosexuals and their liberal allies are deeply uneasy with those of us inclined to be fruitful and multiply.

Everyone seems to be paying a lot of attention to Howard Dean.

You may have noted that I have toned down the "political" content here at Recta Ratio. That does not reflect any lessening interest in the topic, or any change of sides. It is just my near-certainty that President Bush will be re-elected handily, will bring in more Republican Senators and Congressmen (and probably governors and state legislators, too) on his coattails. (From my fingertips to God's ears!)

So I don't see much need to dissect Dean. He is what he is, an unreconstructed liberal. Wonderful that, in a year when protection of marriage is certain to get a major boost in Congress, the Evil Party (Registered Trademark) is presenting to us as whipping boy the poster child for gay marriage and civil unions, the former governor of Vermont.

If the GOP fails to gain a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate this year, it will be our own fault for not getting good enough local candidates. The economy and the war news should make this a big, big year for the GOP, probably better than Reagan's re-election in 1984.

Man, Is It Cold Out!!!

The raw temperature was -2 this morning. I doubt we will break the low single digits today. And the windchill makes it feel like -20 or so.

I may have to go to confession for a few things I said about the weather this morning, though the Almighty may not have heard given that they where muffled by the two scarves I had to wear over my mouth. But He can hear even our thoughts.

So the confessional seems a likely destination today, so that I can receive the Sacrament tomorrow (I've recently become more scrupulous about only receiving when in a state of grace, so perhaps I'd better find an open confessional no more than a few seconds before Mass starts, given my mouth, and my thoughts).

A Priest Goes On Reality TV In Italy, the Vatican Goes Berserk

Priests bugger little boys in the US, and the Vatican is bending over backwards to protect their rights and make sure they have trials before being defrocked.

Maybe if our pervert priests buggered little Italian boys, we'd get a more deservedly ferocious response.

But no, the Italians are our friends and allies, and we would not wish our own filth on them (and they probably have enough of their own to deal with).

The Vatican is correct to condemn the appearance on Big Brother. But it should be more outraged towards priests who bugger little boys. If the reaction to such things was half as vehement as the reaction to some lame-brained Italian padre appearing on a reality show, Americans would feel a lot better about the Vatican's leadership.

Parish Closings Are Coming, But Isn't There Be a Better Way?

Parish closings are inevitable. They are coming this year, and there will be a great number of them, perhaps 60.

It is, moreover, likely that my parish in Salem, St. James, will be on the list, as it is without a pastor, has declining attendance, an aging congregation, has very few weddings and baptisms. It will be a shame, perhaps even a sacrilege to see such a beautiful and historic property closed up, or sold to Methodists or Wiccans. I'm steeling myself for this possibility.

Over the years, I have attended a number of parishes. I was baptized at Sacred Heart in Malden, while my parents attended St. James in Malden most of the time during the first three years of my life (it was closer, though Sacred Heart was the "family" parish). We moved to West Peabody, and eschewed the geographical parish we should have attended (St. Adelaide's) for the parish in Lynnfield, Our Lady of the Assumption, where I attended school. I stuck with OLA until I left West Peabody in my 33rd year. Then I spent most of my time attending the Carmelite Chapel (St. Theresa's) at the North Shore Mall, but also spending some time in those South Salem days at Immaculate Conception and St. Anne's. After marriage, St. James in Salem became my regular parish. But when the Mass schedule did not work for us, or we needed air conditioning, St. John the Baptist (Polish) would do. In the last half year, St. Leonard of Port Maurice and St. Stephen's in the North End, and Holy Trinity, where the Indult Mass is said have been common places for attending, along with the Cathedral and Saint Francis Chapel at the Pru.

So perhaps, since I can't claim to have attended one parish come heck or high water, I am more detached than many are regarding the fate of any particular parish. Perhaps it is healthier to have a strong attachment, a familial attachment that goes on for generation after generation, to one parish. But that has not been the way of my own life. I can understand how people will be upset if their own family's traditional (though probably not "traditionalist") parish is slotted for closure. I have seen it at work after the closure of St. Joseph's in Peabody, and St. Mary's in Salem. But I can only share that feeling to a limited extent.

I also see the wider need of the Church in Greater Boston. Though I see a series of remedies that would, in a fairly short time, make such drastic closures unnecessary (a return to more traditionalist practices, a weeding out of those in authority still operating ont he "spirit of Vatican II", more openess to the Latin Mass, better Catholic catechesis in parochial schools and CCD classes, more traditional litugical music, serious liturgical reform, a restoration of the traditional in church architecture and interior decor, sermons that have meat in them, and a great sense of a traditional Catholic community in every parish), I know that these will not be understood as the remedies they are. Despite every evidence that, if you go back to being serious about the Faith, people will support it and return to the church-going fold, those in authority will not choose this step. I would, but they will not.

And yet.

I understand why these closures will be made. It is the same ethic that leads liberals to raise taxes or increase government spending in a recession. If you have less economic activity, raise taxes to keep revenues high, they say. If you have fewer priests, close parishes.

I prefer the solution that makes the pie bigger in both cases. Economic evidence tells that when you lower taxes, government revenues go up, because more economic activity takes place. It is no longer disputable that this is what happened in the 1920s, the 1960s, and the 1980s.

Is it a coincidence that the same bishops who conclude that declining numbers mean the need to close parishes also think that hard economic times should mean higher taxes to pay for more social welfare? Is it a coincidence that men who adopt the liberal solution to social problems also take the liberal line on how to run the Church? Is it a coincidence that the disastrous results that liberalism brings to social policy and the economy also threaten when liberal solutions are tried in the Church?

It is also not disputable that dioceses that have strongly, forcefully traditionalist bishops (and not just go-along-to-get along conservatives like Cardinal Law) have higher church attendence, and more vocations, better catechesis, and healthier parish life. That is the history of the work of Bishops Bruskewitz, Timlin, Dolan, and Chaput. And make no mistake: the difference between a Law and a Bruskewitz is that Law was a "conservative" in the sense that he was a man of the establishment but did not want to upset applecarts in is own diocese, a Nixon, where Bruskewitz is more a man of the Faith, fighting for traditional solutions, and brooking no opposition in his own administration, like Reagan.

Where you have a liberal spirit seeking accomdation with the world, rather than warning of its dangers, you have declining vocations, declining Mass attendence, declining reception of the Sacraments, a dying, feminizing Church.

The same, by the way, is true of monasteries. I have been doing a fair amount of reading on the topic in the last few months. I was struck by something a liberal Benedictine, Dom Benet Tvedten, had to say in A View From a Monastery. He lamented the fact that his own monastery, which has liberalized since the 1960s to a very considerable extent, leaving behind most of the traditonal practices associated with monasticism and where homosexulaity is tolerated, is withering, and wondered at the continued strength of traditionalist monasteries like Solesmes, and de Silos, where Latin continues to be the language of the chant, they get up very early for Matins, do all of the Divine Offices, not just some, and try to stay out of the world as much as possible, and the numbers and ages of the monks are very healthy (and if you are in "a relationship" with another monk, your ass gets tossed out).

And you can say much the same thing about the sisterhood.

So, if one solution makes the pie bigger, brings in more vocations, brings more people into the pews, and leads to a healthier Church, and the other is a sign of weakness and retrenchment, and is just a step towards relative stability in a spiral that continues downward, why choose the path of evident weakness? Why not make the pie bigger, to accomodate all, rather than cut the slices smaller?

Friday, January 09, 2004

And We Are Back Down To Yellow Alert

Bishop Burke of La Crosse: Getting the Job Done

Bishop Burke of LaCrosse, WI, who is also Archbishop-designate of St. Louis, has decreed that officeholders supporting abortion will not be allowed the Eucharist until and unless they change their public position on this vital issue.

Why this sort of thing has not been common practice since the late 1960s, when agitation for legal abortion became a serious national issue and began to take over one of the major parties, is better left to historians.

But one bishop doing it now is cause for satisfaction, grim satisfaction that anyone is being denied the Sacrament, but satisfaction that the Church means what it says, at last. If it had been done 30 years ago, perhaps this epidemic disregard for innocent life might not have spread so far.

It's C-C-C-Cold In Boston!!!

This morning, the temperature was a robust 1 degree, with windchills somewhere between 15 and 20 degrees below zero. The high for the day may make 12 degrees, if we are lucky. There is a warm-up coming. Monday we may even see 30 degrees. But until then, button up if you are int he Northeast.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Human Slavery Continues To Plague Mankind

And very often, the slaves are Christian Africans enslaved by Moslem Africans. And the conditions these poor souls ae forced to live in would often make the most unsympathetic Southern plantation owner of 1845 angry.

Islam: Religion of peace, or scourge crying out for extirpation for the sake of humanity? Or something in between?

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Requiescat In Pace

Former Philadelphia Phillies reliever Tug McGraw died Monday at the age of 59 after a nine-month struggle with brain cancer. I recall many moments with my baseball cards back in the mid-70s wishing that the Red Sox would acquire McGraw. Requiescat in pace.

I Doubt That Things In DC Are Actually As Bad As Things In Boston Were

But Greenberg Traurig is repositioning its guns to take on the Washington DC Archdiocese next, hyperbole and all

Hue and Cry After Christmas

But is old, old, good old Christmas gone? Nothing but the hair of his good, gray, old head and beard left? Well, I will have that, seeing that I cannot have more of him.
Quoted in Washington Irving's Old Christmas.

And the white is indeed what we have now. A strong squall blew through the area around 6:30 last night, ushering in a cold front. Highs for the next few days are not expected to even see 20 degrees very often. Lows are unspeakable, and windchill factors unthinkable. It has been mild since the St. Nicholas Day blizzard. The three feet of snow we received melted in about three weeks. But winter has returned.

Civilized Life Made Easier

First of all, Eric Johnson from Catholic Light has been engaged in a project of putting all of Shakespeare on line. His Open Source Shakespeare now includes all of the tragedies, and a selection of the comedies and history plays. That is a wonderful tool. A Shakespeare resource on line is a tremendous idea. I'm sure there are others, but I'd rather use one put together by one of our own, so to speak. Check the new permanent link under "Open Source Shakespeare" on the right-hand column in the future.

Second, Mark Sullivan of Irish Elk called my attention to a publication of the UK's Latin Mass Society, Correct Mass-Serving Made Easy by Father H.E. Calnan, originally published in 1948 (a new edition was put out in the early 1990s). That also has joined my growing list of permanent links in the right-hand column, as "Praying the Tridentine Mass." As a sometime worshipper at Boston's Latin Mass, I think this publication might come in handy.

The folks at St. Blog's: making civilized life on the Internet easier for everybody.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Father Wilson On Father Weinberger's Dismissal

As usual, the most articulate and comprehensive treatment of this situation. From Crux News.

The "Non-Compliant"

Not every diocese that is not fully in compliance is really at fault. I see Stuebenville, Lincoln, and Arlington on the list, all dioceses that are rightly held in great respect. But they have failed to address some aspects of the national policy. Probably a more reasonable way of describing them is "the not-absolutely-compliant." Very often, it can be supposed, they have merely failed to address some trifling consideration in the national policy.

Even the partially compliant are doing something, and some may have rejected effots like TAT, earning them a "not-fully-compliant" rating.

For whatever it is worth, here is the list:

Archdiocese of Anchorage (Alaska) 2, 5, 12, 13
Archdiocese of New York (New York) 12
Archdiocese of Omaha (Nebraska) 2, 4, 7, 12
Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic
(New Jersey) 2, 6, 12
Diocese of Alexandria (Louisiana) 12, 13
Diocese of Arlington (Virginia) 12, 13
Diocese of Bismarck (North Dakota) 12
Diocese of Honolulu (Hawaii) 6, 12, 13
Diocese of La Crosse (Wisconsin) 13
Diocese of Lincoln (Nebraska) 9, 13
Diocese of Memphis (Tennessee) 12, 13
Diocese of Newton (Melkite-Greek Catholic)
(Massachusetts) 9, 12, 13
Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance
(New Jersey) 9, 12
Diocese of Richmond (Virginia) 12
Diocese of Steubenville (Ohio) 12, 13
Diocese of St. Nicholas in Chicago
for Ukrainians (Illinois) 12
Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn
(New York) 9, 12, 13
Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle (Chaldean) (Michigan) 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese
of Chicago (Illinois) 7, 12, 13, 17
Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of St. Josephat in Parma
(Ohio) 12, 13

The numbers indicate the aspects of the national policy they have not addressed.

Of much greater interest will be how much protecting perverts has cost the Church in the US, which we will find out in late February. I expect the price tag to be high.

800 Molestation Suits Filed Against the Church In California In 2003

The Crisis continues.

Will Cardinal Mahony be the next to deservedly walk the plank?

Three Archdioceses Not Complying With the National Sex Abuse Prevention Policy

The winners, or losers, are New York, Omaha, and Anchorage. But that is only the archdioceses. Ten percent of the 195 dioceses in the country are not in compliance.

I'll see if more details become available later.

Epiphany Day

The Journey of the Magi

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

T.S. Eliot

Monday, January 05, 2004

Miscellaneous Rant About the Decline of Manners, No. LXII

When did people stop waiting for the inhabitants of an elevator to get off before trying to crowd onto it?

More and more in the last few months, after years of a nearly hermit-like existence in which I had little to do with elevators, I have noticed that people charge onto an opening elevator without bothering to find out if it is occupied or not. Then, when it is occupied, they tried to crowd on anyway, even if it is clear that people on board are trying to get off.

I was always taught that:
1) it is common courtesy to watch the doors open up, and see if anyone is getting off before trying to board, and
2) if people are indeed trying to get off the elevator, hang back, and let them exit the lift before getting on yourself, and
3) observe basic rules regarding other people trying to board; i.e. let women, the elderly, the infirm, and small children board before you do.

People rudely pushing themselves onto elevators as soon as the doors open, and long before anyone trying to get off can possibly do so seems to have become an epidemic, far worse in scope than the flu.

What is the cure? Basic courtesy.

Twelfth Night, or King and Queen

Now, now the mirth comes
With the cake full of plums,
Where Bean’s the King of the sport here;
Beside we must know
The Pea also
Must revel, as Queen, in the Court here.

Begin then to choose,
(This night as ye use)
Who shall for the present delight here.
Be a King by the lot
And who shall not
Be Twelfth-day Queen for the night here.

Which known, let us make
Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here,
Who unurg’d will not drink
To the base from the brink
A health to the King and the Queen here.

Next crown the bowl full
With gentle lambs-wool;
Add sugar, nutmeg and ginger,
With store of ale too;
And thus ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.

Give then to the King
And Queen wassailing;
And though with ale ye be wet here;
Yet part ye from hence,
As free from offence
As when ye innocent met here.

Robert Herrick

What I'm Up To

My latest activity is making a concerted effort to re-learn Latin. With the help of Wheelock's Latin Grammar, and the workbook for it, I'm trying to spend about an hour or so every day conjugating, declining, and memorizing vocabulary.

It has been twenty years since I took Latin (4 years in high school, 1 in college). I did well at it then (As in high school, Bs in college). But I must admit it has grown rather rusty since then. After I'm through the first few chapters of grammatical rudiments, I'll try my hand at some simple translations, then move up to Caesar and Cicero, Vergil and Ovid. Then, there is the Vulgate and the Mass.

"Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant..."

Rod Dreher's Account of Father Weinberger's Last Mass At Blessed Sacrament

Courtesy of Amy Welborn at Open Book.

Let the Defrocking of Perverts Begin!

And that is just what will happen, according to the Boston Herald. Unfortunately, they have to start with the easy ones, the ones who capitulate to the process. But you have to start somewhere.

Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas!

Went to a concert of German and Latin carols (mostly) yesterday, so I didn't even have a chance to check in with the internet.

Tonight is Twelfth Night, the night to eat that tremendous fruitcake you baked back at the end of November (it should be seasoned properly now). Tomorrow is Epiphany (though the Church has confused things by celebrating it liturgically not twelve days after Christmas, but on the second Sunday after), the visitation of the Magi, the first revelation of the Christ to the gentile world.

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