Sunday, November 19, 2017

Armed and dangerous...

Priests and guns.*


'She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.' - Flannery O'Connor

Some seem to think that being armed 'practically assures that they are never going to be the victims of a mass shooting that takes place at church'.

Martyrdom was once considered the highest form of witness and confession.  Indeed, monks and nuns went out to the desert to embrace the solitary ascetic life because the persecution of Christians stopped.  I have known enclosed contemplatives who longed for martyrdom, in a sense, it is the Carmelite's deepest desire - to prove her love for her crucified spouse.

At times I've wondered, what if a Christian has a gun, and what if he or she was called to martyrdom - but instead he used the gun against an assailant and killed him?  He not only missed the opportunity to die a martyr, but he killed another person.  He killed another, rather than lay down his life?

Just a thought.

Some trust in chariots or horses,
but we in the name of the Lord. - Ps. 21

What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? - Matthew 16: 26

Ryan Erickson
Armed and more dangerous.



*Image credit: Gravyboats



Saturday, November 18, 2017

Trump to retain the ban on elephant trade.

Song for this here.


The first bit of news I saw today, and it is good.

Thanks be to God.  I hope and pray that Trump doesn't reverse it again.  Story here.

As I said on Facebook, I thank God for this grace - not Trump - he is only doing his duty.  Just as he did in the case of reversing the contraception mandate in the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Today's Gospel seems to apply to this development, since the outcry against the reversal and trophy hunting was so great.

Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, "There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.'" - Luke 18:1-8

Thank God alone.  As Our Lord instructs us in this parable:

The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.


But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" - Luke 18

Prayer obtains all.  Thanks be to God!

Put not your trust in princes or guns, God alone suffices. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

This is so fun...



G'nite!

A reversal of fortune ...





On Trump and his disregard for life.

I'm convinced that Trump has no regard for life, despite his pleasing pro-life religious leaders by pealing back healthcare benefits which included contraception mandates and that kind of stuff imposed by the Affordable Care Act.  It's a good thing for the conscientious objectors, no doubt.  As everyone probably knows, Trump used to be pro-choice, now he's pro-life.  Fine.

Oddly enough, he loves hobnobbing with  dictators and thugs who have no concern for the lives of their enemies, and as is often the case, for their own people.  Like his pals, Trump has no concern for the ecology and the life of non humans - especially when laws and regulations enacted to preserve and care for the environment and wildlife inhibit profit.  Trump is only concerned with money, big business, big profits and satisfying an insatiable consumerism - the art of the deal.  We see this clearly in Trump's policies and attitudes, his corruption of the presidency into a family business, and his disregard for “the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests”.

"Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years." - Laudato si



Yesterday I learned that the Trump administration published new guidelines allowing the importation from Zimbabwe and Zambia of elephant trophies and lions shot for sport.  The Obama Administration had banned the practice - Trump reversed that.
Hunting interests have scored a major victory with the Trump administration’s decision to allow Americans to bring home body parts of elephants shot for sport in Africa. Another totemic species now looks set to follow suit – lions. 
As the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) was announcing it was lifting a ban on the import of elephant “trophies” from Zimbabwe and Zambia, it also quietly published new guidelines that showed lions shot in the two African countries will also be eligible to adorn American homes. 
“This all suggests that rather than being the protectors of wildlife, the federal government is now a promoter of trophy hunting,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. 
“They are rolling out the red carpet to the next Walter Palmer, and that same sort of situation will happen all over again,” Pacelle added, referencing the Minnesota dentist who sparked an international furore after he shot and killed Cecil, a famous black-maned lion that was lured from a protected reserve in Zimbabwe. 
In 2014, American hunters were barred from bringing home parts of elephants shot in Zimbabwe because of concerns over the conservation of the animals in the country. Last year, the FWS, under the Obama administration, also listed the lion as a threatened species and placed tighter restrictions on bringing back heads, paws and other body parts. - Source

This is such an unfortunate development.

I am so disappointed, so sad about this flagrant disregard for life.  I turned to Laudat si, the encyclical of Pope Francis to find references which speak to the issue of protecting animals from exploitation and extinction, and with new insight, I discovered the immense treasure contained in the Holy Father's teaching.  How sad Catholics dismiss the Holy Father's teaching and admonitions, disputing with him over the environmental challenge we are undergoing.

I did a post on Facebook with pull quotes from Laudato si in support of animal/wildlife.  I want to share what the Holy Father said about St. Francis of Assisi and his love for non human life.  Even Franciscans, sons of St. Francis seem to deny this aspect of the Saint's love of nature, just as they try to explain away his love of absolute poverty.  It is sad how infected with the contagion of worldly materialism and consumerism so many Catholics have become - even those who profess to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis.


Saint Francis of Assisi

10. I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.

11. Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”.[19] His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”.[20] Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

12. What is more, Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20). For this reason, Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty.[21]Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise. - Laudato si

I don't sign petitions online or in the mail, but I pray.  Please pray for the protection of all life.  As it says in the Book of Wisdom: "For from the greatness and the beauty of created things, their original author, by analogy, is seen."


Prayer
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
Amen.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

St. Giuseppe Moscati



Third Order Franciscan, Physician.

St. Joseph Moscati was from Benevento in Southern Italy, where most of my friends ancestors came from.  He is noted as the first canonized saint doctor of modern times.  He has been on my list of personal patrons due to the fact he was a single man, living a holy life in the world, faithful to prayer, a daily communicant, and an excellent professional, devoted to the duties of his state in life.  The Franciscan charism acted as a glorious frame surrounding the beauty of his soul; it not only framed his spirituality but became its support.

"Working in Naples, St. Joseph understood the need to bring Christ into his daily work. Christ was intimately linked to his calling as a doctor. To quote him:."Remember that you have to deal not only with the bodies but also with the moaning souls coming to you. How many suffering people you will more easily soothe by advising and going straight to their souls, instead of giving good prescriptions to be given to the chemist! Be joyful because great will be your reward; but you will have to set a good example of your elevation to God.".There are a number of stories of Dr. Moscati paying close attention to the state of his patient's soul as well as his body, sometimes even bringing the patient back to the sacraments. The Catholic understanding of body and soul clearly informed his understanding of illness and medicine. He saw Confession and Communion as the "first medicine". To help the poor, St. Moscati often donated his medical services or paid for his patients' prescriptions." - CNN

St. Joseph's example brings to mind our courageous contemporary physicians, who out of concern for souls, stand against the culture of death, and in particular the politically correct popular-culture which condones and/or ecncourages contraception, abortion, abuses in biotechnology, as well as gender identity and homosexual disorders.  May St. Joseph Moscati pray for those doctors who face such hostile opposition from their contemporaries.

Prayer to St.Joseph Moscati 

"Dear St Joseph Moscati, true model of Christian doctors, in the exercise of your medical profession, you always took care of both the body and soul of every patient.
Look on us, who have recourse to your heavenly intercession, and obtain for us both physical and spiritual health, and a share in the dispensation of heavenly favours.
Soothe the pains of our suffering people; give comfort to the sick, consolation to the afflicted and hope to the despondent.
May our young people find in you an ideal, our workers an example, the aging a comfort, the dying the hope of eternal salvation.
To all of us be a pattern of industriousness, honesty and charity; so we may comply with our Christian duties and glorify God our Father."
Amen.

November 16 is St. Joseph's feast day.

Links:
More on The Life of St. Joseph Moscati
First Modern Medical Doctor Canonized.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Church and the Episcopacy Cannot Be Politicized

Archbishop Joseph Naumann
[He's an excellent bishop,
he once rebuked VP Biden as well.]


That's corrupt.

Crux reported on the election of Archbishop Naumann as chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities for the USCCB as if it was a race for political office.

Yesterday’s big Catholic news in the States was the election of Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, over Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago as chair of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. bishops’ fall meeting.
It was the tightest vote of the six races for committee chairs at the 2017 meeting, with Naumann prevailing 96-82. Going in the thought was that Cupich might have the edge, in part because of the bishops’ tendency to choose cardinals to lead the committee to give it a higher profile. - Crux

While posting a disclaimer, and doing a good job explaining the election process,  the tone is decidedly partisan, political and all about competition.  Why are these things represented in partisan-political terms? Why is this considered a 'race' for committee chairs?  A competition to gain control?  That's totally inappropriate language and terminology for ecclesial affairs.  It feeds into the clericalist culture everyone likes to condemn.   Furthermore, it feeds into liberal/conservative anti-papist politics and propaganda circulated online.  Catholic journalists, pundits, and commentators share responsibility with right-wing-nuts for the divisiveness in the Church.  

I'm against it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Joe Biden and the Rosary

This is about a father's love for his son.


Who said the Rosary is just for saints?

I saw an article on HuffPo about Joe Biden wearing a bracelet made from his son Beau's rosary which he held as he was dying.  I also saw Biden talking about it on Colbert - and I posted about it on Facebook.  I love Biden, always have.  I know his politics are at odds with Catholic teaching, just like many Catholics in the Church and politics today.  Some even in our own families.  That said, we still love them - I hope.  As Christians, if we are called to love our enemies, certainly we should love members of our Family and Church.

Imagine my surprise when I read Deacon Kandra's post on the HuffPo story and read comments from Catholics attacking Biden on the Aleteia Facebook page. These people miss the point of the story.  It is about a father's love for his son who held the rosary in his hands as he was dying.   (I have my mother's rosary which she held as she lay dying.)   It's like a relic - and in Beau's case, very much so.

Several online think wearing a rosary is a fashion statement, or that there is something impious about it.  To those who think you can't wear a rosary, you are wrong. M. Teresa's nuns put rosaries around the necks of dying patients, P. Pio encouraged people to wear the rosary, likewise there used to be indulgences for doing so, which is why religious men and women always wore one on their belt.  ("Those who openly wear the Holy Rosary out of devotion and to set a good example may gain one hundred days' indulgence." - Secret of the Rosary: Confraternity Privileges.)

What is more, Catholics should take note of the 6th promise of Our Lady to those who pray the Rosary includes the following assurance: The sinner shall convert.

Biden is not politicizing this - Catholics are. Biden has made it clear in the past that he prays the rosary. Even if he doesn't, the fact he carries a rosary to pray in his pocket is a sign of devotion. He's a Catholic man who doesn't pretend to be holier than the Pope or the Church, unlike his critics who are often so quick to prove they are more Catholic than the Pope.

In St. Louis De Montfort's day these same issues arose. He tells the story of the Spanish King Alphonso who always wore a large rosary on his belt to encourage his servants in devotion to Our Lady by praying her rosary. Though at the time the king never prayed the rosary himself, his servants did. The king fell ill and experienced a vision of his sins - it was shown to him that all the rosaries prayed on account of his example of simply wearing the beads outweighed his sins. The king recovered and spent the rest of his life continuing to propagate the rosary and prayed it faithfully every day. De Montfort has many other such stories about the graces received by those wearing a blessed rosary.

Catholics should read St. Louis De Montfort in order to learn true devotion to Our Lady. Catholics ought to be encouraged not only to have devotion to the Rosary, but to pray the Rosary as well.

St. Teresa of Avila informs us, "Prayer is the trap door out of sin."  We are all sinners and we all need to pray.  Through the Rosary Our Lady converts us, promising:

The Rosary shall be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin, and dispel heresy. - Third Promise 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Paul McCartney - Abbey Road Medley (Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/Th...



I wish there was a way to get back homeward. That was my prayer after communion yesterday.

It's the opening lyric for Golden Slumbers in the Abbey Road Medley.  It's my personal soundtrack and accompanies every personal narrative painting I ever made, especially The Descent.

Anyway.  

“It would be nice to think a little bit: one day will be the last. If it was today, am I prepared? Here, therefore, is the meaning of being wise and prudent: it is not to wait for the last moment of our life to cooperate with the grace of God, but to do it already, from now.” - Pope Francis

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pope bans cigarette sales in Vatican and camera phones at Mass



And he gets criticism for it.

It's weird.  Pointing out saints who smoked in defense?  I used to smoke.  Three packs a day - it helped me think, so I told myself.  Now I say writing does, but I used to paint and smoke, paint and smoke and study the work.  The health effects were enormous.  I denied it at the time.  I was always getting colds and bronchitis, sinus infections, and so on.  Finally, about 10 years ago I had the worst flu of my life, pneumonia.  I couldn't smoke if I wanted to - and then after being sick for a couple of weeks, I no longer wanted to smoke.  I was so sick I hadn't noticed the withdrawal symptoms.  I miss smoking and know I could start again anytime.  It's addictive.

Some say it's a mortal sin to smoke.  The Pope hasn't said that.  I don't say that.  It's intentionally ridiculous for anyone to suggest that a saint who smoked shouldn't be a saint.  (Many saints smoked or used snuff.)  I get the sarcasm there.  That said, at one time smoking was socially acceptable - now we know its dangers, so it would be difficult to approve the habit in our day. 

Many saints smoked.

The fact that the Holy Father decided to ban the sale of cigarettes is another matter however.  It has to do with the tax free status and profits from the sale of a product which has proven detrimental to health.  It's an excellent reform - maybe a bit like overturning the tables of money changers in the Temple.

I don't think photos at Mass is in the rubrics.

Narcissists.

The most absurd objection to the phone ban at Mass is that it might be necessary to take photos of 'good' liturgies because there are so many bad liturgies.  I'm not sure how old these people are, but growing up, photos were rarely allowed during Mass - even at weddings.  After Mass, photos might be allowed, but never during Mass.  The argument that technology has changed and it is part of the culture is being used against the admonition of the Pope.  By liturgy people - of all people - who stress appropriate decorum and solemnity in liturgical celebrations - and criticize the narcissistic character of the Ordinary Form of Mass with the priest facing the congregation.  Amazing.

Leave it to Reverend Master of Ceremonies to add this bit of criticism:  "First, if Pope Francis doesn’t want all the photos during Masses etc., he might set an example by avoiding" ... selfies.  Huh?  The Pope poses with pilgrims for a selfie outside liturgical celebrations - not during Mass.

Poor Pope, no matter what he says or does, he gets criticized.  It's like the Pharisees asking Christ by what authority do you overturn the money changers tables and condemn performing rituals to be seen and admired and recorded on an iphone?

I could go for a drink about now,
how 'bout you Georg?



Saturday, November 11, 2017

Did you know Martinmas was once considered Old Halloween?



That would have been last night.

Kids went out, singing songs, carrying lanterns and were rewarded with sweets.  Bonfires were lighted the night before St. Martin's Day which begins at 11:11 AM on the 11th day of the 11th month.  I like that.  Then the fast for Epiphany began the day after Martinmas.  That was changed and later became Advent.  I think I might do St. Martin's lent however.



What I am going to do for sure is try to keep this time like a little child.

Once upon a time there was a poor veteran
suffering from the early winter.
He was outside the city walls,
shivering, nearly naked.
A Roman soldier came upon him and sliced
his heavy woolen cloak to share 
with the poor veteran ...
me thinks he did much more for him
that may not be recorded,
because that night 
the soldier
saw Christ in a dream,
showing the angels a cloak
he received from Martin ...
Martin clothed Christ
with his cloak.
I was naked,
and you clothed me.
St. Martin,
pray for us.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Corruption of morals.




No one can remain decent in a culture that has become obscene.

All the scandals of today reveal a complete corruption of morals.  Corruption is something Pope Francis continually speaks about and points out.  Today he called it the 'smog of corruption' which pollutes society.

With the clergy scandal the smog began to clear, just enough to see the 'filth' in the Church - perhaps this is what Blessed Paul VI meant when he spoke of the 'smoke of Satan'?  It certainly couldn't have been a liturgical reference, since the liturgy, the Eucharist is the heart of the Church, the source and summit of the life of the Church, it is sacred and inviolable... there is only one, holy Mass, albeit two forms in the Latin rite.

That said, first the judgment and chastisement exposed the corruption in the Church - in a sense, now it comes upon the world - culture/society.  I may be wrong, but it seems to me this is what is happening now, the corruption is being revealed.  People deny it - like those busily defending perpetrators such as Weinstein, Spacey, Roy Moore ... and before them, Trump.  What seems so strange is that they all look so normal.  Especially those defending politicians.  Few will defend Weinstein and Spacey, but many are willing to pick their accusers apart, seeking to discredit them or blame them - or just shame them.  In a sense, that is part of what I mean when I point out that no one can remain decent in a culture that has become obscene.

Rotting on the inside.

I'm thinking the least defensible actors in all of this are those who are most vocal in dismissing allegations against those they support politically.  This is corruption.  This is hypocrisy unmasked.  The toleration of lies and deceitful propaganda to promote a political agenda.  We saw it when every Trump supporter defended him against sexual harassment allegations.  Now Roy Moore is getting the same sort of treatment.   Alabama State Representative Ed Henry has suggested the accusers should be jailed.  Blaming and shaming is one reason victims do not come forward.  Edging on complete blasphemy, State Auditor Zeigler  defended Moore with an obscene reference to the Holy Family.  It's an outrageous statement coming from a Christian.  A respectable Christian politician.

Who can be surprised when figures in the entertainment industry are charged with sexual misconduct and corruption?  Be it male on male on female on young people on children?  Throughout history, actors, musicians and entertainers were always considered more or less immoral, it is only in our day that we have placed them upon pedestals and hold them in high esteem or treat them like royalty.  The same goes for professional sports and athletes - although a bit less so.  Every aspect of culture is corrupt:  The worthless are prized highly by the sons of men. (Psalm 12: 9)  It seems to me to be a form of propaganda, to deceive the public, already seduced by obscenity.

I sense it even among Catholic critics of the Pope, the Church and the liturgy.  They can look and sound so normal.  Something is wrong with them however, something is off.  Their rhetoric is just as obscene, just as deceptive.  They are anti-Catholic even though they claim to be more Catholic than the Pope.  They seem to me to be caught in the same smog of corruption, disoriented by the fog, the smoke of Satan.

I'll leave it at that, closing with what the Holy Father said today:
Speaking about what he described as the “smog of corruption” that pollutes society, the Holy Father also urged for prayers for the corrupt so that they “find a way out of the prison in which they wanted to enter.” - P. Francis
One more thought I like to point out to religious people, not all the residents of Sodom were gay.