Sam Gregg: False mercy and emotivism

At Catholic World Report, we find an article by Sam Gregg of Acton Institute.

Here is a sample from his article…

Three Counterfeits of Mercy


Mercy as Sentimentalism

Like everyone else, Christians are influenced by the social climate in which they live. It’s no exaggeration to say that those of us who live in the West are immersed in cultures in which sentimentalism, as opposed to reasoned discourse, is a distinguishing characteristic. Whether it’s people who begin arguments with the expression “I just feel that,” or those who endlessly invoke hard-cases (euthanasia advocates are masters of this black art) to justify what’s clearly wrong, the trend is clear: reason is out and emotivism is in.

That phenomenon includes large segments of Catholic life and opinion. Consider, for instance, those clergy whose pastoral manner is more akin to that of a secular therapist than a priest and whose preaching is difficult to distinguish from the ruminations of Oprah.

In such an atmosphere, it’s not surprising that mercy is increasingly understood by some Christians as a basis for painting those who highlight reason’s requirements as rigorists or judgmental. That attitude periodically surfaced at the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family. Those who politely reminded Synod participants, for instance, that Christianity has always taught that there are moral absolutes which identify certain free choices as always evil were often portrayed as hard-hearted or lacking mercy—invariably by bishops presiding over taxpayer-funded, hyper-bureaucratized, and empty churches which now primarily function as tame auxiliaries of Western European welfare states.

Whoever would have thought that those who referenced the moral law and its inner logic inscribed, as St Paul tells us, on man’s very nature and confirmed by the Decalogue forcibly re-emphasized by Christ would accused of “throwing stones” and labelled as “Pharisees”? There’s nothing merciful, however, about trying to marginalize the truths knowable through revelation and reason in the name of mercy. Nor is there anything compassionate about pretending that mercy allows Christ’s moral teaching to be put aside in difficult cases. Christ Himself never did so.

Likewise, mercy isn’t realized by ignoring the truth that any free choice for moral evil involves doing serious harm to what John Paul’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor calls the “fundamental goods” (VS 48, 50) that lie at the core of the Christian moral life. Indeed, in the absence of the absolutes prohibiting such choices, coherent moral reasoning becomes impossible. Everyone is subsequently left adrift in a sea of emotivism.


Okay… how do you all feel about this?

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Posted in The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Vocations to the priesthood: bad numbers? Those numbers didn’t just happen by themselves.

I’ve written many times about the situation of vocations to the priesthood. We all know that there are certain parishes in dioceses which produce more priests. We all know that there are certain dioceses which produce more priests. We all know that there are certain religious groups which produce more priests. They have factors in common.

And yet, do other parishes and dioceses and religious groups change what they are doing?

Not much.  It is if they really aren’t committed.

In life I have found that when I am going in the wrong direction, I have to, first, stop going in the wrong direction, turn around, go back, and then go in the right direction.

Right? Does that make sense?  Is that your experience too?  It’s not hard, right?

At California Catholic I read…

Why aren’t other dioceses looking to Lincoln?


According to the Official Catholic Directory and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Lincoln, NE is the only diocese in the United States to place in the Top 20 for the ratio of ordinands to population in every survey conducted from 1993-2012.
Despite having a Catholic population of only 97,000, the Lincoln diocese ordained 22 men from 2010-2012. Only seven dioceses in the entire country ordained more. One of those, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (with a Catholic population over 4.2 million) ordained 34 men during those same three years. In other words, L.A. only ordained four more men per year on average despite having a population 44X greater than Lincoln.

The Lincoln blueprint can be narrowed down to a few foundational elements:

Orthodox Bishops[Yep.  This is a big one.]

Against all odds and the prevailing winds of the post-conciliar Church, Lincoln has avoided the craziness and irreverence that has afflicted so many other dioceses. This has largely been achieved through the stability and orthodoxy provided over the last fifty years by three men: Bishop Glennon Flavin (1967-1992), Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz (1992-2012), and Bishop James Conley (2012-present). They succeeded despite the occasional scorn of their brother bishops, and by making the Church’s perennial priorities their own.
The National Catholic Reporter (known as the Fishwrap to Fr. Z readers) [And not only to Fr Z readers…. pretty much everyone now calls it that.] once bemoaned that it was as if the “reforms” so prevalent in the aftermath of Vatican II had missed Lincoln altogether. Exactly.

The Male Only Sanctuary

To a large extent, Lincoln has preserved a male only sanctuary. In this area the diocese has simply given more weight to tradition and common sense instead of “modern sensibilities” that are more secular minded.
The diocese remains the only one in the country to maintain an altar serving policy of boys only.
Lincoln also utilizes installed acolytes and lectors for the Holy Mass. Since it is an instituted ministry, the role of an acolyte is only open to men. Both of these instituted ministries commenced during Bishop Flavin’s time during the 1970’s.

Tradition Friendly

Those in Lincoln will speak of the lack of Catholic tribalism and the absence of the liturgical wars so prevalent in other dioceses. In large part this is due to the environment established by Lincoln’s bishops. Reverent Novus Ordo liturgies have served the faithful well, preventing the frustration that so many encounter in other dioceses.
[… good stuff… but I want to keep this short… Suffice to say that during my last visit to NYC, I had a church full of young people from a High School in Lincoln.  They were reverent, received Communion on the tongue, kneeling, without batting an eye… impressive…]

Liturgical Continuity

As stated previously, the Lincoln diocese has intentionally avoided the modern tendency to clericalize the laity by delegating liturgical roles to the faithful. Thanks to its use of acolytes and lectors, instead of the more common excessive use of readers and extraordinary ministers, the diocese has not blurred the lines between ministers and laity, or between sanctuary and nave. It’s obvious to see how this would reinforce the ministerial priesthood in Lincoln, as well as the continuity between both forms of the Roman Rite.
Proper liturgical orientation has been further reinforced through the manner in which many masses are offered in Lincoln: with the priest facing toward the liturgical east, or Ad Orientem.

A Catholic Education

While I have saved this for last, in many ways education is the primary ingredient to Lincoln’s recipe for success. Bishop Glennon Flavin’s vision for a diocese that allowed its children to go to Catholic school at an affordable cost and to be taught authentic Catholicism by religious sisters and priests is integral to the diocesan mission.  [One of the parent/chaperons of the aforementioned group from Lincoln told me that tuition was in the neighborhood of $1200 per year. ]

Read the whole thing there.  It’s pretty interesting.

Here is the bottom line.

The percentages of men to be ordained, and who are now active, against those who are retiring or dying are getting grim.  I was recently in a diocese in Louisiana where some half of the priests are set to retire in the next five years.  Disaster, right?

Well, friends….

That percentage didn’t just happen.

It was engineered.

And the numbers in Lincoln, and in certain parishes, dioceses and religious groups known for good numbers of vocations didn’t just happen either!

You have probably seen the polls I have had here.  I’ll post them again.  Anyone can vote, but only registered and approved users here can comment.

Does an all-male sanctuary foster vocations to the priesthood? (Revisited)

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Does female service at the altar harm or suppress vocations to the priesthood?

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And… yes… there are only male and female on both my planet and on your planet.

And…no… I don’t want to just pray for all “Vocations”, lumping them together in one amorphous prayer salad.   Sure, pray that young people get married.  But pray explicitly for PRIESTS.


Posted in Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

It’s nuts out there. I pity young people today for the pressures they endure.

I have written in the past of my grudging respect for Camille Paglia.  Although I definitely am on the other side of the fence than she is on a number of issues, she is smart, honest, and writes beautifully (unlike so many libs, and feminists in particular).

Sometimes I muse about what it must be like a) to be a young person today and b) to raise children today. I look around and I am glad I am the age I am.

A few days ago, from Paglia via a friend’s email … a sample:

“I really pity young people today in this environment because the pressures are enormous. It’s one thing to feel, ‘I’m not quite comfortable in the gender I was assigned at birth,’ but the pressures are to change, change, change, and to telegraph it to the world. People are pushed into making choices about surgical interventions and taking hormones, which is dangerous, and they will have all kinds of medical problems in the long run…”

“But the moment you say this [exposure of the flesh] your contemporary feminist will say, ‘You’re blaming the victim. We have the right to dress as we want.’ Of course. However, you have to be prepared for the reality of the world … which is a dangerous place. They have no idea about human psychology … that you don’t mess around with sexuality, which is extremely explosive, that you must be prepared to defend yourself, be alert to your environment.”

“Earlier Paglia noted that millennials seem to have ‘no sense of the great patterns of world history’ and, thus, believe that ‘we are marching to perfection,’ that we are reaching a ‘transnational’ ‘utopia,’ while our sexual tolerance is actually a sign that we, like Babylon and Rome, are about to fall.”

“We are very tolerant, not passionate, but there are bands of vandals and destroyers circling around the edge of our civilization who will bring it down,” she said, making clear in her comments about ISIS that she was at least in part referring to Radical Islamists.”

Posted in Dogs and Fleas, Pò sì jiù, Si vis pacem para bellum!, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace | Tagged | 12 Comments

5 May – MADISON: Ascension Thursday – Pontifical Mass at the Throne

On Ascension Thursday, 5 May, at 7 PM, His Excellency Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino (aka The Extraordinary Ordinary) will celebrate Holy Mass in the traditional Roman Rite “at the Throne” at St. Mary’s Church in Pine Bluff, WI. All are welcome.

The music:

Antiphon at the Entrance of the Bishop: Sacerdos et Pontifex, mode I
Ordinary of the Mass:
KSBA: Missa Simplex a 3, Aristotle A. Esguerra (sung by the students and friends of the Holy Family Homeschoolers)
Gloria: I
Credo III
Proper: Gregorian of the day (sung by the Knights of Divine Mercy Schola)
Antiphon after the Last Gospel: Regina Caeli, simple tone
Hymn at the Recession: “Come, Holy Ghost”

Posted in Events, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged | 2 Comments

Observances of Ascension Thursday Thursday not Ascension Thursday Sunday

On my planet, this coming Sunday is the 7th Sunday after Easter, Ascension Thursday having fallen on Thursday.

In most places – not all – Ascension Thursday has been transferred to Sunday.  The notion the bishops had was to expose more people to the mystery of the Lord’s Ascension.  That may indeed occur, but in my opinion the transfer may reinforce an impression that these great feasts, important for our Catholic identity, aren’t compelling enough to inspire the planning and sacrifices required to go to Mass during the week.

Meanwhile, the Ascension of Our Lord, one of the great mysteries of the life of Christ, has been celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter (i.e., a Thursday) since the 4th century.
Enough said.

What’s up where you are?

In Madison, His Excellency Most Reverend Robert C. Morlino will celebrate a Pontifical Mass at the Throne at 7 PM at St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff, WI.  Extraordinary Form, of course!

Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000 | Tagged | 53 Comments

My View For Awhile: Whirlwind Edition

This short trip to the Windy City was a treat.

But first, off to pick up my newly framed altar cards from Silverstream Priory.  They turned out very well.


I was eager to see an exhibit at Chicago’s Art Institute which featured Van Gogh’s three famous bedroom painting, together again for the first time since, I suppose, Vincent had them.

Here they are, on one wall together.

For a time, Vincent lived in a Yellow House in the south of France.  He made three painting of an upstairs bedroom.  This is where he had intended Paul Gauguin to stay (during his disastrous visit).

Vincent thought the bedroom was about the best thing he had accomplished.

Some years ago at the Morgan Library in NYC, I saw a letter that Vincent wrote to his brother Theodore before the arrival of Gauguin in which he sketched the bedroom.

Vincent, in his short years, lived in dozens of places and tried his hand at many different fields, including preaching as a Christian minister.  At a rough spot in his life (which was mainly one big rough spot) he did paintings of nests and of boots, which suggests his concern (longing) for a place to be.

It was a great exhibit, all in all.  I was pleasantly surprised at the many additional materials they brought in, such as prints from the era, both European and Japanese, which influenced him, along with novels, and paintings by artists who influenced him.

I very much like Vincent.   I long for someone to do an exhibit of his religious paintings.

Having seen the great art, supper had to me made for my hosts.

And today we managed to fend of death by starvation.


And then there’s this guy.   I thought you would enjoy him and his spiffy hat and shoes.

This is a copper Mesopotamian figure from c 3000-1800 BC.  The Met in NYC has another that is quite similar.  They are unlike anything else found.

Someone should make hats and shoes like this.  I bet they’d sell.


If you haven’t figured it out, I travel a good bit.   Less than some, more than others.

This morning I woke up at a hotel near an airport (early flight today). I looked at the coffee set in the room.  Blech.  I tried the coffee in the lobby.  Blech.  I considered stopping at some fast-food place.  Nope.  I eventually decided for coffee at the airline club at the airport.  It was – sigh – Starbucks.

I saw something at the site of the wonderful Wyoming Carmelites who prepare …

Mystic Monk Coffee and Tea!

It’s swell!   And they have a…


  • Each set contains:
  • 17oz Bodum Water Kettle
  • 17oz Bodum French Press
  • 12oz bag of Midnight Vigils Blend
  • 12oz bag of Hermits Bold Blend
  • Rubber spatula (to clean French press)
  • Travel set of disinfectant wipes (just in case!)
  • Insulated carry case


Posted in On the road, What Fr. Z is up to | Tagged | 7 Comments

The slide continues… rock in the Sistine Chapel

We saw that the Sistine Chapel was rented out to Porsche.

We had the projections of critters on the facade of the Vatican Basilica.

Now we have rock music in, again, the Sistina.

From Reuters:


The Edge, lead guitarist with the Irish band U2, has become the first rock star to play in the Sistine Chapel, a venue he described as “the most beautiful parish hall in the world.”

The performer, whose real name is David Evans, sang four songs on Saturday night for about 200 doctors, researchers and philanthropists who attended a conference at the Vatican on regenerative medicine called Cellular Horizons.

Backed by a choir of seven Irish teenagers, and wearing his trademark black beanie cap, he played acoustic guitar and sang a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “If It be Your Will”, and versions of U2 songs “Yahweh”, “Ordinary Love” and “Walk On.”

The Edge, whose father died last month from cancer and whose daughter overcame leukemia, is on the board of foundations working for cancer prevention.

He joked with his audience, telling them he was stunned when asked to play in the chapel, which was painted by Renaissance master Michelangelo in the 16th century.

“When they asked me if I wanted to become the first contemporary artist to play in the Sistine Chapel, I didn’t know what to say because usually there’s this other guy who sings,” the musician said, referring to U2 front man Bono.


He didn’t ask. He was asked.

Posted in Pò sì jiù, You must be joking! | Tagged , | 53 Comments

Believing in two genders is a ‘hate crime’ at (Jesuit) Loyola Marymount:

More idiocy at a Jesuit-run school. Surprised?

Form The College Fix:

Believing in two genders is a ‘hate crime’ under police investigation at Catholic college

‘You can have your opinion’ as long as it doesn’t ‘deny my existence’

It’s uncommon at Jesuit universities these days for someone to openly share a traditional Catholic viewpoint. [Which we have seen over and over again.]

When it happened at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, the school was so spooked it called the Los Angeles Police Department.

Both the police and the university’s Bias Incident Response Team are investigating the stated belief that only two genders exist, male and female, as a hate crime.

A Loyola alumni office employee discussed her views on sexual orientation, which align with the Roman Catholic Church, with three students who were hanging up posters on the subject on April 14.

Cosette Carleo, one of the students involved, told The College Fix in a phone interview that the hate crime under investigation is “denying transgenderism.

Carleo’s account agrees in part with an email by the husband of the employee with whom she tangled.

The employee told Carleo, who identifies as gender-neutral, that only two genders exist, male and female, according to the student. Carleo told The Fix that statement was the hate crime.

Carleo responded that “you can have your opinion” as long as it doesn’t “deny my existence.”


Posted in Liberals, You must be joking! | Tagged , | 42 Comments

I’ve heard of “flying bishops”, but … not this

I saw at via the curiously-named Eponymous Flower an … what’s the word … oddity, hopefully unique.   Not my translation:

The new Archbishop of Palermo, recently appointed by Pope Francis, Msgr. Corrado Lorefice, swung himself in a bicycle and drove through the presbyterium of his Cathedral.



“Palermo. Primatiale Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption, Wednesday, April 27, 2016: Feast of the Athletes. Image: His Excellency Most Reverend Monsignor Corrado Lorefice, Archbishop-Metropolitan, Primate of Sicily, on a bicycle in the chancel of his cathedral..

The Archbishop was given a bike that he didn’t want to try outside the church. Instead, he rose immediately and in full regalia as celebrant,  chasuble and miter,  got on the bike  and drove it through the presbytery of his episcopal church. The Cathedral of Palermo is not only where lay the Stauferkaisers Henry VI. and Frederick II. and the Norman King, Roger II. It is above all one of the oldest Christian places of worship in Europe. The area of ??the Cathedral was secret at the latest  in the second century gathering of Christians in underground tunnels. Here the martyrs of the persecution of Christians were buried. The Christians gathered at their graves. In the early fourth century, the construction of the first cathedral was carried out. Under Pope Gregory the Great, the second cathedral was built around 600.


The Bicycling Bishop?

The Peddling Prelate?

The Cycling Overseer?

The Velocipedal Vescovo?

Your Excellencies, please don’t do this… in the sanctuary your Cathedral?  Or anywhere else in your Cathedral?  Or in any church?  Or anywhere at all while wearing Mass vestments?  Please?

The moderation queue is definitely ON, especially for the immoderate.

Posted in You must be joking! | Tagged | 61 Comments

Bright flash of light marks the moment of conception

Many think that the image on the Shroud of Turin is of Christ and that the image formed when a great burst of light occurred at the moment of His resurrection.

How about a burst of light at the beginning of human life?

The following item raises a great many moral questions, but the discovery that there is a burst of light at conception is utterly fascinating.

From The Telegraph:

Bright flash of light marks incredible moment life begins when sperm meets egg

Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film.

An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.

Scientists had seen the phenomenon occur in other animals but it is the first time is has been also shown to happen in humans.

Not only is it an incredible spectacle, highlighting the very moment that a new life begins, the size of the flash can be used to determine the quality of the fertilised egg.  [Ummm… How were the ‘materials’ obtained?  What happens to the ‘fertilized egg’ (= person) now?]

Researchers from Northwestern University, in Chicago, noticed that some of the eggs burn brighter than others, showing that they are more likely to produce a healthy baby. [No, that’s not at all a slippery slope towards eugenics.]

The discovery could help fertility doctors pick the best fertilised eggs to transfer during in vitro fertilisation (IVF).  [Did I mention eugenics?]

“It was remarkable,” said Professor Teresa Woodruff, one of the study’s two senior authors and an expert in ovarian biology at Northwestern.

“We discovered the zinc spark just five years ago in the mouse, and to see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.

“This means if you can look at the zinc spark at the time of fertilization, you will know immediately which eggs are the good ones to transfer in in vitro fertilization.

“It’s a way of sorting egg quality [?] in a way we’ve never been able to assess before. “All of biology starts at the time of fertilization, yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human.”

Currently around 50 per cent of fertilised eggs do not develop properly and experts believe that faulty genetic code could be responsible.

Some clinics take videos of the egg developing to try pick up problems early, [?] while others check for genetic mutations, but that is an invasive procedure which can damage the tiny egg. Often it is just down to a clinician decided which eggs look the healthiest.

But the new findings could give and extra indication that an egg is flourishing. A video of nine human eggs coming into contact with sperm enzyme showed two flashed much brighter than the rest.


[…]The bright flash occurs because when sperm enters an egg it leads to a surge of calcium which triggers the release of zinc from the egg. As the zinc shoots out, it binds to small molecules which emit a fluorescence which can be picked up by camera microscopes.

Over the last six years this team has shown that zinc controls the decision to grow and change into a completely new genetic organism.  [And then there’s God….]



Again, there are many and serious moral issues at play here, but the discovery is still amazing.

Posted in Just Too Cool | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments