R.J. Snell reviews @DouthatNYT book about Pope Francis and his pontificate

At Public Discourse, R.J. Snell (director of the Center on the University and Intellectual Life for the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ) looks at Ross Douthat’s recent book for the 5th anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Francis.

It is a sharp and reasoned contrast to the ACME quality spittle-flecked nutty of the Coyote over at Fishwrap. (Still amusing.)

To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism


If you haven’t read this yet, you are missing out on a fascinating, ongoing discussion.

Snell add his commentary, of course.  Here are a couple samples:


Of course, if the church was in error on communion for the divorced and remarried, it meant that the previous popes were in error, that previous councils were in error, that the English martyrs were in error, that not only the Church’s moral teachings but also her ecclesiology and sacramentology were wrong, and that there were no principled reasons to reject communion for cohabitating couples or sincere homosexual couples. That is, this was not a matter of pastoral accommodation but a revolution calling into doubt the very meaning and existence of the Roman Catholic Church. It also meant that untold millions of Catholics had struggled to resist sin, and to confess when they failed, for no reason. It had all been in vain, a ridiculous hang-up without cause. (One bishop even suggested that Jesus himself had been wrong and unmerciful to reject the Mosaic law permitting divorce.) ….


So, what will be the Francis legacy? An exhausted but ultimately victorious orthodoxy? A swelling resurgence of traditionalists, especially among the young? (There is some evidence of this, certainly more than the supposed return of the lapsed and alienated Catholic.) Or will it be schism? A new theology, what Flannery O’Connor derided as “the Church of Christ without Christ”? Will it be the ascendancy of the African Church and the marginalization of the European, where it survives only because of full coffers? Will the old truce hold, or will it fail now that everyone realizes they kept the truce only because they felt their side would inevitably succeed?

Douthat doesn’t tell us. The book maintains its studied ambiguity, showing the fault lines and commitments of the various factions. …


Good and serious Catholics sometimes welcome converts not with, “well, at last, you’ve found the true faith” but “come on in, the water’s terrible,” or “really, this old thing?” They confess their love more like a wife at her fiftieth anniversary than in the poetry of first love. The Church is all too human, all too dysfunctional, and has always been so. Yet, this ark, battered and leaky, survives and thrives. There’s a quiet sense that the Vatican thinks in centuries, that a thirty-year crisis will hardly matter in time.

Or, perhaps this time is different. It feels different to many, as if something unprecedented and irreversible is happening. But we don’t know, and Douthat is honest enough to leave us hanging, waiting for the next installment of the Church’s story to be told. His story is unsatisfying in its ambiguity, but all the more interesting and truthful for it.


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Posted in Pope Francis, REVIEWS, The Drill | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Jesuits to host homosexual “Pride Prom” at @MarquetteU

It seems that whenever some morally questionable thing comes up these days, there is an “SJ” somewhere in the frame.

Jesuit-run Marquette University is hosting a homosexual prom.  There is a story about how the Jesuits are digging in their heals in favor of this homosexualist event at the site of the infamous New Ways Ministry.

That story also mentions a petition protesting the prom.

It seems to me that this sort of thing undermines the dignity of students with SSA.

Let’s ask some questions.

  • Does this sound like a good thing to host at an even nominally catholic school?
  • What is the tuition cost that parents are paying to send their children to this place?
  • Could it be that that tuition money could be better spent at a Catholic school which doesn’t actively and openly promote scandalous events?

Perhaps students and others at Marquette should at least have a look at the online petition.


Another story about this HERE.

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Posted in Sin That Cries To Heaven | Tagged | 23 Comments

Beautiful video about the Traditional Latin Mass. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

I was given a link to a video about Holy Mass in the traditional Roman Rite made at the oratory of the Institute of Christ the King in San Jose, CA.

It is interesting to view this video immediately after posting about Pope Francis’ remark about “punctilious (sic … “ostentatious”) concern for the Church’s liturgy” in GEE 57.

When I look at the architecture of the church in this video, the vestments, the attentive care to the ritual, I don’t see ostentation or punctiliousness. I see love.

When you love, you pour your care out on the one whom you love. You are relentless and punctilious in your concern for your beloved. You lavish your best upon those whom you love. You break yourself in self-sacrifice and bleed out when needed.

When you love God, you love His Church. When you love God and His Church, you love the sacred liturgical worship God gives us through His Church so that we foster the essential virtue of religion.

When you love you give your best. Enough is not enough. Enough is just the beginning.

If the liturgy of heaven before the throne of God will be forever increasingly alluring and glorious, then so too our earthly foreshadowing of the heavenly liturgy should be increasingly triumphant. We can start small, with the best we can provide now, humble as it might be. If clay is all we have, we’ll use clay beautifully until we have gold. Then we’ll use gold, until we can add diamonds.

People who do not understand why grand and triumphal liturgy is entirely appropriate, do not understand what it is to love.

This is not to say that small and simple liturgy is entirely inappropriate.

The core problem that critics of triumphal and lavish liturgical worship have is a stony heart and inflexibility.

It is possible to have both simple and grand, each in the right place and moment. The one doesn’t exclude the other.

That said, there is a hierarchy to these modes of worship and it is obvious which has priority.

In his Summa Theologiae II-IIae, q. 30, a. 4, St. Thomas Aquinas explores whether mercy is the greatest virtue.  Answer, it is and it isn’t.  That is to say, he makes distinctions.

Objection 1. [Remember that when Thomas gives an “objection”, he is giving a false claim which he will later refute.] It would seem that mercy is the greatest of the virtues. For the worship of God seems a most virtuous act. But mercy is preferred before the worship of God, according to Hosea 6:6 and Matthew 12:7: “I have desired mercy and not sacrifice.” Therefore mercy is the greatest virtue.


I answer that, A virtue may take precedence of others in two ways: first, in itself; secondly, in comparison with its subject. On itself, mercy takes precedence of other virtues, for it belongs to mercy to be bountiful to others, and, what is more, to succor others in their wants, [NB] which pertains chiefly to one who stands above. Hence mercy is accounted as being proper to God: and therein His omnipotence is declared to be chiefly manifested [Collect, Tenth Sunday after Pentecost].

On the other hand, with regard to its subject, mercy is not the greatest virtue, unless that subject be greater than all others, surpassed by none and excelling all: [chiefly, God!] since for him that has anyone above him it is better to be united to that which is above than to supply the defect of that which is beneath. Hence, as regards man, who has God above him, charity which unites him to God, is greater than mercy, whereby he supplies the defects of his neighbor. But of all the virtues which relate to our neighbor, mercy is the greatest, even as its act surpasses all others, since it belongs to one who is higher and better to supply the defect of another, in so far as the latter is deficient.  [See? Mercy is and isn’t the greatest.  It depends on your point of view, God or neighbor.  Yet, they are connected, for charity directs us to mercy.]

[Watch this!] Reply to Objection 1. We worship God by external sacrifices and gifts, not for His own profit, but for that of ourselves and our neighbor. For He needs not our sacrifices, but wishes them to be offered to Him, in order to arouse our devotion and to profit our neighbor. Hence mercy, whereby we supply others’ defects is a sacrifice more acceptable to Him, as conducing more directly to our neighbor’s well-being, according to Hebrews 13:16: “Do not forget to do good and to impart, for by such sacrifices God’s favor is obtained.”


In this question Thomas is tackling the question of mercy being greater than charity.  Hence, even the issue of worship is brought back to mercy.

Worship is not done merely for its own sake.  It is not done merely for God’s sake, who has no need of it, for He is already perfect.  Worship is for our sake, but not for our sake merely, as if we were closed in our ourselves.   Worship is for uniting more closely with God in devotion so that we can in turn be more closely united toward our neighbor who is in need.  

It is interesting that the Roman and Catholic concept of piety, pietas, duty, devotion, concerns that which we owe, which we are bound to give, that which is our duty.  When we use pietas in reference to us, we refer to the devotion we owe to God.  Pietas can also describe our relationship with others, such as Aeneas for his father and fatherland.  However, when pietas is used in reference to God, as in liturgical prayer, it refers to His mercy towards us.  We owe God everything in duty and He owes us nothing.  Hence, words such as piety and devotion have a bi-directional force, which is in harmony when, out of devotion to God we come also to show mercy and charity to neighbor.  By religion (related to justice) we give what is owed to God: worship.  By mercy (related to justice) we give what is due to our neighbor: providing what they lack and truly need.

Our sacred liturgical worship of God brings great harmony in our lives as individuals and as communities small and large when it produces corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

However, it is charity that has the logical priority over mercy, because true mercy flows from charity. We love is God and worship Him in devotion and love, with the result that we love God’s images, ourselves and others, properly.

Otherwise, it is self-referential.

Those who are locked in only on liturgical worship and its details, without consideration for works of mercy, probably don’t get why we have liturgical worship in the first place. They are probably defective in love.

Those who are locked on to minimalism in worship and are scornful towards its details and it’s possibilities of grandeur and beauty, and instead want constantly to sell that jar of precious ointment, the nard, for alms for the poor, probably don’t get the deeper why of why we help the poor. They are probably defective in love.

The woman with the jar of nard didn’t spend all that money just to keep it for herself and admire its elegant lines and lovely fragrance.  She had a greater use for it and its contents and that purpose involved her own hair and the Lord’s feet in a magnificent work of “mercy” towards Mercy Himself. In her humble action, she obtained Mercy’s mercy.  Judas, on the other hand, disdained the beauty of her purpose for the jar and its contents, seeing only its immediate utility, and wanted to sell it for a good that was a lesser good, not seeing that greater ultimately leads to multiplication of the lesser.  He also wanted to steal some of the profit from the sale, which is certainly self-referential.  Don’t be that guy.

By the way, I used the Summa reference here because I just recently reviewed it on account of it’s being referenced in a footnote in Pope Francis’ recent Gaudete et exsultate 106.  What’s puzzling is that, once again, whoever did his homework for the Pope in that paragraph seems to have misused Aquinas, as also occurs in Amoris laetitia.  The use in GEE 116 simply picks out part of St. Thomas’ response.  In respect to our neighbor, mercy is more important than external acts of worship.  However, just as charity is greater than mercy, so too worship is greater than external acts of mercy because worship moves us to external acts of mercy.  Somehow that last part was ignored.

Let’s wrap up this rant.

The Eucharist – itself and its celebration – is the source and summit, the origin and goal, of our Catholic life.  There is no disconnect between proper and even magnificent liturgical worship and works of mercy.  Authentic leitourgia, “work of the people”, is simultaneously work for the people.

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Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Wherein Fr. Z Rants | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s…. STEVE!

Run, don’t walk, to SpaceWeather for a super cool video of STEVE!

STEVE RETURNS (UPDATED WITH VIDEO): Last night in Alberta, Canada, photographer Alan Dyer looked up and saw a mauve ribbon of light bisecting the night sky. Auroras? Not exactly. “It was STEVE,” says Dyer, who took these pictures of the glowing arc:

STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) often appears alongside auroras, but it is not the same thing. Researchers are only beginning to understand the phenomenon–aided by a chance encounter between STEVE and a European satellite. In situ measurements suggest that STEVE is the afterglow of a hot ribbon of gas that flows through Earth’s magnetosphere during some geomagnetic storms.

Dyer caught STEVE just as it was fading. Other photographers saw a more spectacular display.

“My dog barked at STEVE for the entire hour it was visible,” reports Matthew Wheeler of Robson Valley, British Columbia. “We spotted the ribbon just after midnight, and even without dark-adapted eyes it was easy to see the textures moving at astonishing speed.” Click to view Wheeler’s video of STEVE in motion:

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Posted in Look! Up in the sky! | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Sovereign Merciless Order of Malta – Another step toward creepy.

UPDATE 12 April 2018:

This whole thing reminds me of something.

Do any of you remember waaaaay back in the 1980’s when John Paul II removed the head of the Jesuits and replaced him with his own pick Father, later Cardinal, Paolo Dezza?

Dezza went on to silence Jesuit left-wing (is there any other kind?) criticism of the Pope.

Of course the Jesuits and rest of the catholic Left reacted badly to that and denounced the silencing of criticism.

I wonder… has the catholic Left denounced this silencing of criticism?

___ Originally Published on: Apr 11

In the Palazzo of the Doge in Venice there is a rather creepy slot in the wall where people could drop anonymous denunciations of their fellow Venetians.  What could possibly go wrong with that?  Right?

Did you read the Catholic Herald story?   It seems that the Sovereign Military Merciless Order of Malta (SMOM) has commanded its members not to say or write anything “offensive” about Pope Francis.

Also, and this is a little creepy, members are instructed to grass on, rat out, any member who does say or write something “offensive” about the Pope.

It isn’t entirely clear what might constitute “offensive”.   But then again, during the Cultural Revolution in China it wasn’t entirely clear what was “offensive” about Mao.

I don’t remember them doing this about John Paul II or Benedict XVI.  Then again, they were under different ownership at the time, weren’t they.

Is saying something like, “The Pope made a mistake about how he handled the situation of the Chilean bishop” offensive?

Is saying something like, “I think the Pope should wear the traditional papal vestments for the Urbi et Orbi blessing” offensive?

Is saying something like, “What the Pope said about women being ‘strawberries on the cake’ was offensive to women!”, offensive?

Do you suppose this is retroactive?   Are Knights of SMOM suppose to tattle on anyone who wrote something “offensive” about Benedict XVI?

Where does this stop?

Who else will move in this direction?

(That’s a trick question.  It’s already being done on a wide scale.)

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Posted in SESSIUNCULA | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Reading #GaudeteEtExsultate – Pope Francis blasts “punctilious concern for the Church’s liturgy”

I’ve been working my way through the very long Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate.  It’s a whopping 20K words.

A point that people have been asking me about, and which libs will surely throw in the teeth of anyone who wants a traditional sacred liturgical worship of God, is the Pope’s remark about liturgy in GEE 57.

My emphases.

57. Still, some Christians insist on taking another path, that of justification by their own efforts, the worship of the human will and their own abilities. The result is a self-centred and elitist complacency, bereft of true love. This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected ways of thinking and acting: an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political advantages, a punctilious [sic] concern for the Church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige, a vanity about the ability to manage practical matters, and an excessive concern with programmes of self-help and personal fulfilment. Some Christians spend their time and energy on these things, rather than letting themselves be led by the Spirit in the way of love, rather than being passionate about communicating the beauty and the joy of the Gospel and seeking out the lost among the immense crowds that thirst for Christ.

My first reaction when I read things like this from the Holy Father are: Who are these people?  Again and again the Pope describes people who are hard to identify.   I have an idea of whom he has in mind here.  More on that later.

A “punctilious” concern for the Church’s liturgy?  What to make of that?

Let’s use the text and context itself to interpret this passage.

I’m going to go with “punctilious”, even though after looking at the same paragraph in other languages it is pretty clear that “punctilious” is not quite the correct English word choice.

YES, friends, we need LATIN.   In lieu of Latin, what does the text of GEE 57 really say at this point in other languages?

French: l’ostentation dans le soin de la liturgie
Italian: l’ostentazione nella cura della liturgia
Spanish: la ostentación en el cuidado de la liturgia
Portuguese: a ostentação no cuidado da liturgia
German: dem Zurschaustellen [sic… Zurschaustellung?] der Sorge für die Liturgie

I’m sensing a theme.   Why choose “punctilious”?

“ostentation in the care/custody of the liturgy”

Ostentation is characterized by vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice to oneself. One might say, “flamboyant”.

Clearly, the other languages want to convey something “over the top”, something “ostentatious”.  “Punctilious” and “ostentatious” are not interchangeable.   The former is concerned with great attention to details.  The later is concerned with open pretension.

They have a common characteristic, however: excess.

Let’s pull all these things apart and make sense of them because libs are surely going to use “punctilious” as a club with which to beast those of us who want tradition, so let’s stick with that.

When you read Francis, you have to slow down and think.   The texts coming out over his signature are not always clear, or easily deciphered.

To understand “punctilious” look at some of the vocabulary and phrases in that paragraph:  “… obsession… absorption… excessive…”

The principle is this: Too much of a good thing is too much.

That “punctilious” here is surely meant to mean something like “obsessive … excessive”, rather than “careful… reverent… attentive…” etc.

It would be absurd to suggest that the Pope thinks that liturgy should not be careful, attentive, reverent.  That the Pope thinks liturgy should be the opposite of “punctilious”, which is sloppy or careless.

Keeping in mind the context and vocabulary, we affirm that observance of law is good.  Being socially and politically active is good.  Careful attention to detail in worship is good.  Knowing, teaching, and following the Church’s doctrine is good.  Defending the Church’s reputation and prestige is good.  Being practical is good.  Etc.

However, being excessive in any good thing is not good.  Too much of a good thing is too much.  Quantum potes tantum aude.  Right?  This applies to just about everything in life, except for faith, hope and charity, which – anyway – are all gifts from God.

Next, and this is important, this remark about liturgy is under the subhead “New pelagians”. 

We have to remember that just a little while ago the CDF issued document, Placuit Deo, which sort of explained in advance something of how the Pope uses these terms.  It was careful to state that the terms as used by the Pope are not strictly interchangeable with their technical use in Patristic and systematic theological spheres.

That said, what do we make of “… their own efforts…” when it comes to liturgy?

This is a salutary point from the Pope if we understand it properly.  Libs probably won’t, but we won’t fall into the trap with them.

Catholics know that the true Actor in our worship is Christ and that every word and gestures is truly Christ the High Priest’s.  Liturgy is a gift to be respected and not abused.   Hence, our liturgical practice, our ars celebrandi, should be careful and exact.  In addition, we are not doing it on our own or merely in reference to ourselves.   Liturgy is for us in that it is given to us.  Liturgy is about us in as much as it is God’s gift to us.  Liturgy, however, is not for us or about us.  God doesn’t need our liturgical worship, we do.  So, God gives it to us so that we can be good images of God in all we say and do in regard to God and neighbor.

As I have explained in preaching and conferences and here on this blog, it is possible to lose sight of the purpose of our liturgical worship, which certainly includes striving for an encounter with transforming mystery as a preparation for our inevitable death and judgment.

It is possible to focus on the details of liturgical worship, the trees, to the point that one loses view of the reason why we are there, the forest.

For example, some may be entirely fixed on whether or not the server started out with the left foot or the right, or how the book was moved from the Epistle to the Gospel side, or whether a turn was made at a sharp enough angle, etc.  I have actually been graded by the Mr. Punctilious who rushed to the sacristy to inform me that I got a C+ because I didn’t wiggle my pinky at the same place in his heavily-worn St. Joseph Daily Missal where old Father Bill did back when he was growing up.

Mr. Punctilious does a lot of harm to our project.  Don’t be that guy.  Don’t give the Pope another excuse to hurtful things about people who want tradition.

Ironically, in my experience, it’s not usually traditionalists who are fiercely positivistic about liturgy, but rather liberals.

For the most part the “trads” I’ve been around for the last few decades have a healthy respect for details, but without being scrupulous…. “punctilious” in the negative sense.  There are a few exceptions, such as the Mr. Punctilious I mentioned above.  On the other hand, many older libs, now into serious liturgical abuse or craziness (which they then insist on imposing on everyone), were once upon a time known as rigid and conservative.   Then the nutty 60’s hit.  They changed and became as rigidly liberal as there were rigidly conservative.

My old pastor, Msgr. Schuler, would describe some of the raging libs of the archdiocese were back in the day.  Some of them would nearly hyperventilate from scrupulously trying to make signs of the Cross exactly between the syllables of words as they appeared on the pages of the Missal.  Later in life, when the loony days hit, they threw off their restraints and became as doctrinaire in their progressivist antics as they were in their pre-Conciliar conservatism.   I heard the same sorts of stories when I was in Rome: priests who were famously traditional when they were young became crazy libs later in life.  A common trait: they impose their brand of crazy on others.

When we scratch libs, we generally find nazis underneath.   Similarly, when we really look into who out there are the authentic self-absorbed Promethean Neo-pelagians, we inevitably find that they are liberals, defined also as “those with whom you are free to agree”.

“But Father! But Father”, some of you libs – shaking with fury and pounding your little feetsies on the arms of your fainting couches – are howling, “you yourself said that the word is supposed to be ‘ostentatious’ not ‘punctilious’.  You are being both ostentatious and punctilious in your explanation!  HA HA! See what I did there?  You are trying to fool all your readers into running down a rabbit hole.   The Spirit of Vatican II says that we had to get rid of all the ostentatious statues and vestments and music and precise language and … and… just, you know, use clay pots and authentic macramé and a contemporary style of speech just like Jesus wants.  But you want us to turn the clock back to the bad old days because YOU HATE VATICAN II!”


Quickly, and to close, let’s rework that phrase from GEE 57 as “an ostentation in the care/custody of the Church’s liturgy” (l’ostentazione nella cura della liturgia).

Again, the title of this sub-section of the Pope’s really long Apostolic Exhortation is “New pelagians”.  The overall theme is self-sufficiency without reliance on God.

Lack of reliance on God turns what is otherwise good into something ruinous.   Law is good, when our reading and making of law is rooted in the justice and truth which is God and in the reason and natural law which reflects God.  Godless, merely human law – grounded in ourselves – in our will – is open to horrible abuse.   So too with everything else the Pope lists, including liturgy.

Liturgy filled with liturgical abuses and illicit creativity is self-referential… neo-pelagian.  It is the soul of ostentation.   It is like the restrictive closed-circle that Ratzinger described in Spirit of the Liturgy.

When our liturgy is carried out for our self-satisfaction, closed in ourselves, then what we lavish on it is a manifestation of selfish ostentation.   It might be beautiful, tasteful, and precise, but in itself, in its essence it is closed off to the ultimate victory of God which it outwardly mimics.

The driving force of triumphalism is “victory”.  When we celebrate God’s victory, we can hardly be “ostentatious” enough.  When we celebrate our own accomplishments, then even raising our faces from the dust is already too much.

When our liturgy is carried out for God and for the purposes God chooses for it, namely a transforming encounter with Him in mystery and love, then all that would otherwise be ostentatious and triumphalistic is hardly even a beginning of what we should desire to give.

Liturgical worship which is informed by our faith, hope and love of God, victorious over death and glorious in heaven, is not ostentation in the negative sense, triumphalistic in the bad sense.

Of course all virtuous behavior is governed by the “golden mean”.  It is okay and even meritorious to tighten the belt and fast and make sacrifices for the sake of the purchase of a new vestment for the parish priest to use at Mass.  It is not alright to neglect feeding your children for the sake of buying a new vestment.   It is meritorious to lavish money and care upon the building of a new church.  It is not okay to build a new church and, all the while, ignore corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Balance… the mean in prudence… virtue.

The problem is that reasonable people see what libs don’t see.  We can do more than one thing at the same time.  We can build beautiful churches and care for the poor.  (Beauty is good for the poor, too, by the way.)  We can have lovely and – if you insist – “punctilious” liturgical worship and have a regard for the needs of our neighbor.  (Prayer on our knees in church is also good for the poor, by the way).   We can multitask.  Libs, however, seem to see the world as if through a “zero sum” lens.   According to their twisted line of thought, those who want traditional worship with all its lavish care and beauty are indifferent toward the poor.

B as in B.  S as in S.

But that’s what we are going to hear, especially in conjunction with GEE 57.

When libs fling GEE 57 at you, as if you were some sort of “pelagian”, just chuckle.

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Posted in Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, The Drill, Vatican II, What are they REALLY saying? | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Reading “Gaudete et exsultate”: Pope Francis schools those who shy from spiritual combat imagery

I’ve been working my way through the very long Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate (GEE).  It’s a whopping 20K words.

There is a very good section near the end.

From GEE 159 and following, the Pope speaks in clear terms about the Devil, “the prince of evil”.

[W]e should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea.[121] This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable. The devil does not need to possess us. He poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy and vice. When we let down our guard, he takes advantage of it to destroy our lives, our families and our communities. “Like a roaring lion, he prowls around, looking for someone to devour”

There are some who mistakenly, cravenly shrink from using images of war, weaponry, combat when speaking about the spiritual struggle we undergo and which is constantly being waged around us in the angelic realm. In GEE the Pope admonishes people not to be naive.

God’s word invites us clearly to “stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11) and to “quench all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph 6:16). These expressions are not melodramatic, precisely because our path towards holiness is a constant battle. Those who do not realize this will be prey to failure or mediocrity. For this spiritual combat, we can count on the powerful weapons that the Lord has given us: faith-filled prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of Mass, Eucharistic adoration, sacramental Reconciliation, [GO TO CONFESSION!] works of charity, community life, missionary outreach. If we become careless, the false promises of evil will easily seduce us. As the sainted Cura Brochero observed: “What good is it when Lucifer promises you freedom and showers you with all his benefits, if those benefits are false, deceptive and poisonous?”

This is timely, especially in the wake of the whole “Hellgate” dust up.  If there is a Devil, there is a Hell.  Period.

Yes, there is a Hell, the state of existence which is defined by eternal separation from God that results in “pain of loss”.  After the resurrection there will also be “pain of sense”.

Yes, the Devil exists and is a personal being.  The Enemy works ceaselessly to prevent God’s glory from being magnified.  The Enemy – which are all the fallen angels – work to ruin souls so that they will be separated eternally from God in the state of Hell.

“Damnation” is not a state of nothingness.  It is not “annihilation”.  Nope.  Damnation means eternal separation from God in the state of Hell, where there will be both pain of loss and pain of sense, true and enduring, all encompassing agony with no hope that it will ever end.

Make your choices, friends.  People usually die according to how they lived.

Be wary of the Enemy.

Use your good weapons of spiritual warfare.

Start practicing for death – NOW.

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Posted in Four Last Things, The Drill | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Arizona ‘c’atholic Rep. @IselaBlancAZ distorts Pope Francis, Church on abortion, contraception

While I was in L.A. I met with some pro-life heavy hitters in Arizona.  I was told of a recent debate in the Arizona House about a bill – SB1394 – touching on pro-life issues.

I asked for some information to post and this is what I received by email.

During the course of the debate, [catholic] Rep. Isela Blanc (pro-abortion representative from Tempe) misquoted Pope Francis stating that the pope was now in favor of contraception, sterilization and abortion.  She further said that the Catholic Church has evolved on the issue and is no longer even using the rhythm method.

Rep. Grantham swiftly got up and stated that as a Catholic, he didn’t appreciate the mis-characterization of Pope Francis.  He then read the entire interaction that Pope Francis had, and in the proper context.  He further went on to boldly state that the act of abortion IS evil and that the Catholic Church has not softened its stance at all.

Video Link:  http://azleg.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=13&clip_id=21149&meta_id=521077

First part of the discussion: Minute marker 6:38 – 1:01:46
Second part of the discussion: Minute marker 1:07:00 – 1:52:25
*Note: Rep. Blanc misquoted Pope Francis (1:35:13 – 1:38:44)
*Note: Rep. Travis Grantham corrected Rep. Blanc (1:38:52 – 1:41:46)

In the defense of Catholic teaching, Rep. Grantham mentions Pope Francis’ own mention of Paul VI’s alleged statement about African nuns who were threatened with rape.  That’s a rabbit hole, but he made his point well.

What was truly shocking was the allegedly catholic Rep. Blanc’s complete misrepresentation of the Church’s teaching about contraception and abortion.

Why is this episode important?

This legislature deabte underscores how critically important it is for parish priests and bishops to teach congregations fully and clearly what the Church really holds on these and all other moral issues, especially when in other spheres of the Church there is a lack of clarity which is subsequently obfuscated and twisted even more by the secular press and by liberal catholic outfits such as the Fishwrap and just about anything run by Jesuits.

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Posted in Emanations from Penumbras, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices | Tagged | 3 Comments

My View For Awhile: LAX Adios Edition – UPDATED

UPDATE 11 April

In answer to a couple email’s the “apocalyptic thriller” I was reading was by Joel Rosenberg (US HERE – UK HERE)

I’ve read a couple series by him, including the one starting with The Last Jihad (US HERE – UK HERE) and the one starting with The Twelfth Imam (US HERE – UK HERE)

____ Originally Published on: Apr 10, 2018

Back to the cooler clime.

Yes, that is a police check point on the right.

Last night we met some folks for a dinner party.  These were people I was with on a great pilgrimage a couple years back and who are going to Italy again in … well… about 10 days.

Some tapas.

This is a kind of canneloni with chicken inside.  Great.

Killer shrimp.

Paella Valenciana.

Photos of skylines are tricky, especially with just a phone.

Here’s another view.

This intersection had 6 billboards for the upcoming Avengers movie, though in this shot you can only see four.

LA.   Hrumpf.

Traveling East from here is a bit frustrating.  It takes hours and you lose hours, so your workday is effectively shot.

Perhaps more later.



There’s an extremely unhappy cat onboard.

Why, oh Lord?


Now people have to be shuffled because of allergies.

I am tempted to bless some water – just a glass and a packet of salt are all that’s needed – and toss it in that direction but the demons in the cat would probably just get more agitated.


Fluffy did precisely what we all feared within its carrier, thus detracting from the already less than pleasant atmosphere.


After a surprisingly good hamburger at a fast food joint, I headed to the lounge, where I ran into my good friend Fr Sirico of ACTON INSTITUTE. We caught up on friends and parish news. He is always good value as the Brits say.

And it’s always fun to write ACTON INSTITUTE.

That said, Our connection is late in arriving and so I am enjoying the ambience of MSP Concourse F. I am sure many of you have fond memories of Concourse F. I know I do.

I’ve firmly emplaced my Bose noise reducing gear and will now wade back into my apocalyptic “thriller” by Joel Rosenberg.

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

Fr. Z responds to @JamesMartinSJ about “official” teaching on homosexuality

At Jesuit-run Amerika there is an article by Jesuit homosexualist activist Fr James Martin in which he writes about the “official” teaching, as he puts it, of the Church (he doesn’t use a capital) concerning homosexual inclinations and homosexual acts.

It may be that he has finally had so many challenges thrown at him that he couldn’t dodge them anymore.   He finally decided to stand in the batters box and take a hack.

I haven’t made an extensive study of Martin’s writings.  That said, this is the first time I’ve seen him sidle up to clarity about moral dimension of the aforementioned inclinations and acts.

All in all, Martin’s offering isn’t bad.   He brings up natural law.  He brings up the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  He brings up chastity. He brings up the inherent dignity of all persons. That’s all well and good.

One might fault him a little for suggesting that few Catholics know that treating homosexual persons badly is wrong.   Frankly, I find that absurd.  But, let’s give him a pass on that point.

However, you have to read between the lines. Start with the title.

What is the official church teaching on homosexuality? Responding to a commonly asked question

What is the “official church teaching”…

Later in the piece

… we can perhaps best understand it from the church’s traditional reliance on natural law, which was itself heavily influenced by the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas

… In terms of sexuality, all sex is “ordered” toward what are called the “affective” (love) and “generative” (having children) ends, within the context of a marriage.

official church teaching rules out any sort of sexual activity outside the marriage of a man and a woman

… it is important for the institutional church to understand the lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics.

While Martin went a long way toward clarity, I sense a subtle hedge which he is signaling to his base.   For example, among libs you find code language, terms such as the “institutional church”.  Using the small “c” is already a signal.  At outlets like the Fishwrap you constantly find writers pitting an amorphous “spirit-filled” or “prophetic” church against the “institutional church”, as if the former trumps the latter.   Yes, we have to know what the “institutional church” says, or – better “said” (once upon a time), as if studying the history of a topic.  However, we are advancing beyond the merely “institutional”, old hide-bound church shackled by laws and taboos and outdated mores no longer suited to our far more mature era.

Martin uses the word “official” throughout and rightly so.  He is, after all, responding to a question.

QUAERITUR: What is the official church teaching on homosexuality?

Think about that question.  Students ask questions like this.  People who are confused about the facts ask questions like that.   But it seems to me that most people who want to know if the thing they are doing is a sin or not simply ask, “What does the Church teach about homosexuality?”  The heart-searching penitent doesn’t hedge.

Am I being too picky?  I want to be fair to Fr. Martin, whom I’ve beaten up occasionally in these electronic pages.  However, when I start at the top and read to the bottom I wonder if he isn’t signaling that because the teaching is “official” or it is “institutional”, it is also changeable.   

Laws and rules and institutions and “officialdom” can be changed, after all.

The Church doesn’t just have “official” rules about homosexual acts.  What the Church teaches is also rooted both in divine revelation and in natural law.

Martin mentions natural law.  But he writes:

… we can perhaps best understand it from the church’s traditional reliance on natural law…

… according to the traditional interpretation of natural law, homosexual acts are not ordered toward those specific ends and so they are deemed “disordered.”

… That is one reason that it’s important for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to understand the church’s teaching in its totality—the Gospels, the tradition of natural law and its roots in Thomistic and Aristotelian reasoning, …

So, someone looking for a way out of the Church’s teachings might latch onto that “traditional”.   Traditions aren’t so important are they?  Well, they are important in the sense that we should know what they were.  For example, it is important to know that the Church used Latin for a long time.  But we’ve outgrown all that.  Traditions can be changed, right?   Women traditionally covered their heads in church.  They don’t have to do that anymore.  Traditionally we abstained from meat on all Fridays.  Traditionally, Lent was far more rigorous.  Traditionally, we interpreted natural law to mean that sex acts between persons of the same sex were “disordered”.   But can’t there be non-traditional interpretations of natural law?   The official or institutional church clings to traditions.   But we should be freer in the spirit in a prophetic church that isn’t bound in taboos.

There’s the “traditional” way, and there’s the “contemporary” and “new” and “openminded” etc….

Again, I am glad that Fr. Martin has taken greater steps toward clarity.   And yet his explanation seemed to glide above the bases, rather than touch them as he ran them.   This isn’t a home run for the Jesuit.   It might be a single base because he was hit by a pitch.

Here’s the bottom line for anyone who is scratching her head.

The Church’s official teaching is her official teaching not just because she teaches if officially.   She teaches what she teaches because IT IS TRUE.

The TRUTH is the foundation of the Church’s teaching.

Holy Church must be true to Her Lord who is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life.

People with homosexual inclinations are PEOPLE.   They are images of God and the dignified subjects of their own acts, worthy of respect, justice, charity, etc., just like every other person.

However, there is no time in the past, present or future of the human race that homosexual acts will be anything other than intrinsically evil.   Why?  Because the are evil in themselves and not just because – right now – we say they are… officially.


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Posted in Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Drill | Tagged , , | 38 Comments