Saturday, October 07, 2006

A season of wonder...


Second only to Christmas in retail.

It's Halloween. Having worked late tonight, I drove home in the dark, the wind blowing autumn leaves around in little tornadoes. I noticed houses all alight with orange jack-o-lanterns and tomb stones decorating their front yards, with bed-sheet ghosts suspended from trees. People go all out to be spooky. If it is done well, it's kind of fun - but talk about kitsch!

I'm not as opposed to Halloween as other Christians seem to be. I do think it is fun, although, being without children, I've never really celebrated it - except when I was little. The history goes way back of course - after all, it's a celebration of All-Hallows Eve - the vigil of All Saints day. What's scary about that?

Of course it's a big occult holiday for witches as well, so I understand the opposition of Christians. Parental guidance and faith is needed for children. Adults and teens seem to be the ones who go over to the dark side. So watch your pets and your kids. (And remember, you can't burn witches any longer.)

It is amazing however, that it has become such a big holiday across the country - truly, second only to Christmas in retail, what with cards, decorations, costmes, parties, etc. It may possibly indicate a rampant re-emergence of neo-paganism, while being a somewhat arrogant rebellion against death on some level.

Merchandising Advent wreaths at the store reminded me that the wreath was once a pagan symbol as well, albeit Christianized now. I never got into that either.

I like the lights though - when it is so dark and spooky outside...

(Note: "Nosferatu" was the scariest vampire movie in the history of cinema, and every original still that I tried to grab, from a variety of sites, would not print on this blog - just the puppet image would post...I'm so scared! Somebody quick - call Michael Brown at "Spirit Daily"!)

Kitschie, kitschie, ya ya da da...


Bad taste - and not in your mouth.

(Pictured, Corky St. Clair from "Waiting For Guffman" in his kitschy movie memorabilia gift shop.)

Kitsch - yiddish for bad taste, cheap, tacky, gawdy, gimmicky, cheap merchandise - like you'd pick up in a dime store.
Schmaltz - yiddish for too sweet, sentimental - literally, chicken fat.
Glitz - yiddish for lots of gold and shine - tinselly.


Here are some examples. I was speaking about bad art and bad taste in religious/devotional goods the other day. The latest post I did on Marie-Julie Jehenny reminded me of the discussion. There is a passion scapular supposedly inspired by her revelations, available on some Catholic websites. It is supposed to protect a person in these evil times. I never realized it was from her and just assumed someone made it up to make money. In religious retail, someone always seems to be coming up with something new to sell. Like these Jesus with the little female gymnasts figures - kind of creepy, or him as the baseball Jesus - what else for the all-American kid? This stuff falls into the kitsch category, along with Saints chapsticks and holy water key chains, or hologram images of Christ and Mary, that change when you tilt them.

Kids are expected to like this stuff - or at least people who buy the stuff think their kids will like it. (People can educate and elevate their taste if they want to. I've always said some things should never even be made, much less sold, they are so bad.)

Schmaltz is something else. It's a harder one to convince people of because they become emotionally attached to it. (It is a feel good/feel sad type of thing.) Good art should touch the emotions, but bad art can do so as well. (I know, I know - often it is subjective - but not too often.)

Take for example this image of JPII. I think it's schmaltzy - not kitschy - schmaltzy. It is not badly painted, it's rather well painted - but it misses - it's kind of schmaltzy. What would be worse is if it ever ends up on a mug - then it would be schmaltzy and kitschy. (It's like the John XXIII and JFK painting of the two of them walking in Heaven that circulated after their deaths. Schmaltzy.)

Glitz is fine in Hollywood, in Church it's too much. Most priests do not want their vestments glitzy. In addition, not every gilded baroque Church or statue is glitzy. Neither are well designed sacred vessels and the like. However, Mother Angelica's shrine is kind of glitzy - but it's fairly well done glitz. The Polish monstrance they use in the shape of a heart - that's bad glitz. In fact, the term glitz was once associated with what has been referred to as 'Polish taste' or 'Jewish taste' - very politically incorrect terms nowadays...so always say glitz instead - unless you are ever on Letterman or Oprah.

This post was inspired by Ray from Stella Borealis who sent me the link to a blog called "Kinda Kitchy" that specializes in exposing Christian kitsch. (The guy is obviously protestant, with excellent observations on religious art.)

Three days darkness...


Is something happening?

Lately in the Store I manage, we have had many orders for books about "the three days darkness." An apocalyptic warning predicted by not a few mystics and saints - recent ones at that, such as St. Faustina and Bl. Mary of Jesus Crucified. A very nice gentleman came in looking for a book by the seer Marie-Julie Jahenny (pictured) - unfortunately, we had nothing except quotes from her in other anthologies on the end times. I told him I would look it up for him and get back to him - wondering why this surge of interest. The last time we had as many requests was after 9/11.

I did find a small book online that I'll order for him. I read parts of her revelations that supposedly refer to our times and the ultimate dissolution of the Mass as well as the true Catholic Church going underground, etc. It's all rather conspiratorial.

There seem to be other people and groups, priests among them, that promote these private revelations; devotees of Our Lady of Good Success in Quito are among these. The predictions and writings appear to conveniently target the Novus Ordo Mass and Vatican II. It seems to me what these revelations generate is greater dissension, a lack of trust in legitimate authority, as well as devotion. Rather than bring peace to a soul these novelties become an occasion for intrigue, agitation, along with a morbid curiosity that hardly seems to be from a good spirit. I'm not suggesting that anyone not read these things, I just wouldn't make it the focus of one's devout life. What follows is the three days darkness thing:

[snip] Marie-Julie announced 3 days darkness during which the infernal powers will be loosed and will execute all the enemies of God. "The crisis will explode suddenly; the punishments will be shared by all and will succeed one another without interruption... "( January 4, 1884).

"The three days of darkness « will be on a THURSDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. Days of the Most Holy Sacrament, of the Cross and Our Lady. . . .» three days less one night."

"«The earth will be covered in darkness», says Our Lady on 20th of September 1882, AND HELL WILL BE LOOSED ON EARTH. Thunder and lightning will cause those who have no faith or trust in My Power, to die of fear."

"During these three days of terrifying darkness, no windows must be opened, because no one will be able to see the earth and the terrible colour it will have in those days of punishment without dying at once... "

"The sky will be on fire, the earth will split... During these three days of darkness let the blessed candle be lighted everywhere, no other light will shine.... "

"NO ONE OUTSIDE A SHELTER.. will survive. The earth will shake as at the judgement and fear will be great. Yes, We will listen to the prayers of your friends ; NOT ONE WILL PERISH. We will need them to publish the glory of the Cross.... "(8th of December 1882).

" Candles of blessed wax will be the only light during this horrible darkness. ONE CANDLE alone will be enough for the duration of this night of hell... In the homes of the wicked and blasphemers these candles will give NO LIGHT."

"And Our Lady states : « Everything will shake except the piece of furniture on which the blessed candle is burning. This will not shake. You will all gather around with the crucifix and my blessed picture. This is what will keep away this terror »"

"During this darkness the devils and the wicked will take on THE MOST HIDEOUS SHAPES... red clouds like blood will move across the sky. The crash of the thunder will shake the earth and sinister lightning will streak the heavens out of season. The earth will be shaken to its foundations. The sea will rise, its roaring waves will spread over the continent..."

"«THE EARTH WILL BECOME LIKE A VAST CEMETERY». The bodies of the wicked and the just will cover the ground."

"Three quarters of the population of the world will perish. Half the population of France will be destroyed."
(Marquis de la Franquerie, Marie-Julie Jahenny) [snip]

I have no idea what it all means - the Church has not even acknowledged these prophecies, much less decreed anything about it. Friends of mine have joked about it with me, (Hi David S.) - but "It could happen" as Judy Tanutta would say. Nevertheless, it is difficult for me to sustain any interest in such things.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Question of Limbo...


Is there such a place?














News today is that the Holy Father has made no pronouncement of any new understanding of limbo, the place, or state, unbaptised infants go to. Here is the traditional teaching on it:

"Persons, such as infants, who have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism, cannot enter heaven; but it is the common belief they will go to some place similar to Limbo, where they will be free from suffering, though deprived of the happiness of heaven." - Baltimore Catechism

The Catholic Church's official catechism, issued in 1992 after decades of work, dropped the concept of limbo and says: "As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God … " CCC

It has never been a defined dogma of the Church, albeit the traditional belief. The concept of limbo was one I was taught in school. Some saints held that it is actually a place on the "outskirts" of hell, while others have described it as a paradise separate from the beatific vision. An uber-Catholic I work with seems to prefer the place in hell concept, which fits in well with his fire and brimstone spirituality.

In the part of the creed wherein we profess "He descended into hell" it is commonly believed that it refers to Christ's descent into limbo to free our first parents and the saints of the old testament. Some theologians, such as Hans Urs Von Balthazar believe Christ really did descend into actual hell - I can't remember in which of his writings wherein he discusses that. I believe many Orthodox Catholics accept the same belief, as did the early Christians - although I could be mistaken. Nevertheless, it remains a matter of speculation to some degree.

Press reports claim that the Commission studying the subject, as well as the Holy Father will abolish the belief. I doubt that. You just don't undo tradition to assuage the modern human sentiment that everyone must be saved, do you? Then what does, "He descended into hell" really mean? Of course some Orthodox legends have it that in the end, the Blessed Virgin will obtain the release of all the souls in hell as well, such mystical fantasies have never been taught in the Latin Church and are contrary to the faith.

As Cardinal Ratzinger, the Pope has said he believed the concept of limbo could possibly be set aside because it is "only a theological concept" and "never a defined truth of faith." Nevertheless, this is a vastly different statement than saying it does not exist.

One ought not to depend upon the media for papal teachings.

Update: Gerald has a post from Asia News on the same subject.

Queen of the Holy Rosary


What do you think when it comes to this feast? That it occurs in the "Month of the Holy Rosary" and that is why October is dedicated as such? It is a feast in thanksgiving for the victory of Christianity against the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.

I have always found it significant that the last apparition at Fatima happened in October with the great miracle of the sun. The name 'Fatima' being the same as Mohammed's daughter, hearkens back to the days when a large part of the Iberian peninsula was under the control of the Moors. I cannot help but think the purpose of Heaven has been to alert us to what is happening in our own day, with the conflict between Islam and the Christian West. It may be good to muse about these things and give the prayers of the Rosary greater place in our spiritual lives.

Presented here is an excellent homily for today's feast from an English priest:

[snip] "On 7 October 1571 the forces of Christendom, under the command of Don Juan, defeated the Turks at Lepanto. The famous sea victory was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin because the Rosary had been recited both by the soldiers before battle and by many of the faithful in Rome. St Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victories and, shortly afterwards, Gregory XIII changed this to Our Lady of the Rosary. In the early eighteenth century, following some further victories against the Turks, the Feast was extended throughout the Church. And so October became known as the month of the Holy Rosary." [snip] -Roman Miscellany

"Pray the Rosary every day." - Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima

YSL


Pictured, a recent classic YSL design.

News today that Paris fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, aged 70, collapsed today outside his Paris boutique during Fashion Week. (It is not known what his condition is at this time.) Gucci owns his label and I was surprised he was still active in design - not following the business since I'm no longer connected with ready-to-wear.

YSL was very hot in the late '60's and much of the '70's. Having started out at Dior, he developed his own line, known for elegance and beauty. He was the epitome of French design and elegance for a time, rivalling Coco Chanel's innovative success. As Paris fashion declined in prominence, his designs retained a steady clientele and enduring reputation. He loved nightclubbing with various fashionistas of the jet set, and often dealt with problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse.

Here is something he noted concerning his retirement in 2002 regarding the fashion industry:

[snip] "He announced his retirement from the fashion industry after 40 years in 2002.
He revealed that his decision was based on a disgust with an industry that had become ruled more by commercial gain than art.

"I have nothing in common with this new world of fashion, which has been reduced to mere window-dressing," he said.

"Elegance and beauty have been banished." [snip]

Interesting comment, huh?

Joanna Bogle's response...

Painting, "Elizabeth II"

A few days ago I commented on Mrs. Bogle's blog, with sincere questions, hoping to get a response in answer to my questions. (She could have told me to read a book on history.) Without ever insulting my intelligence, she very graciously and succinctly explained why the monarchy is valued in Britain. Thank you Mrs. Bogle! I copied and pasted her friendly response:

Joanna Bogle said...
Well, here goes....I'm terribly sorry that you were offended that I didn't publish your comments or reply to you....but the system of comments on my blog doesn't provide for my being able to send you a direct personal reply. I had to track down your blog via Google, so here I am!!

I have made clear on my blog that I honestly can't get involved in lengthy discussions except on specific issues largely related to Catholicism.....The blog's essentially a diary with Catholicism as its chief ideolgical component rather than any political issues. I like to steer the thing along those lines, and don't want to get side-tracked into debates with Americans - however delightful and friendly! - who quite obviously will have a different approach on Monarchy and our Royal Family.

However, for what it's worth, my comment goes like this:

America is a great and splendid nation, and one which has proved a blessing to many. It's a joyful place to visit, too - there is a sense of purpose and of welcome which lifts the heart. But it certainly has its own version of an hereditary tradition within its political system: please don't try to say that the Bushes and the Kennedys and so on don't have hereditary power! The difference is just that: there is real power wielded by great families, rather as Britain had in its days of imperial authority. George Washington imposed his family's coat of arms as the nation's flag - no harm in that, and the flag has stood for prosperity and a decent way of life for millions, including those who arrived poor and hungry fleeing from real oppression and injustice.

In Britain, we have found - not without some travail, including a bitter civil war between monarchists and their opponents - that a Monarchy and Parliamentary democracy work extremely well. We have adapted to massive social change without the struggles that this entailed in America (the "civil rights" movement, etc) and the sense of community and family that is engendered by our monarchy and its associated heritage has served us admirably. We look with pity on those European nations - France as perhaps the supreme example, currently in its 5th Republic with probably more to follow - that lack the blessings of stability bestowed on us.

We don't specially expect Americans to value our monarchy as we do, and we recognise the value of their own tradition: there are many among us who despise and reject the crude anti-Americanism that frequently sweeps Europe, and we are not unmindful of the poignant graves of young American soldiers and airmen who lie with honour in our Cambridgeshire countryside, and of the sacrifice of life they gave with generous hearts in a war that preserved our freedom.

When we speak our Queen, we don't, actually, mostly think in soap-opera terms - which is why we have been distressed by Royal events of recent years - but of the ideal of nationhood embodied in an anointed monarch consecrated to public service in a tradition stretching back through millenia. It's not an absurd idea, and we think it carries a quiet resonance at least as noble as anything that a larger republic can offer. What is likely to destroy it, tragically, is the loss of our nation's Christian identity: we admire Americans for their stalwart adherence to a Faith that many in Britain now denounce or deny.

God Bless America!
And, in this small island with a large history: God save the Queen!
With warmest good wishes
Joanna Bogle

I'm such a brat, having coerced a response from this wonderful woman. Yet I'm delighted and impressed to have heard from her...and just a tad embarrassed that I betrayed my lack of intelligence regarding Monarchy.

From now on, when you may disagree with me, maybe take a lesson from Joanna Bogle on civility when commenting.

I like the Bogle's!

Uber-Catholics


Remember the classic Seinfeld episode where Elaine is aghast to find out that boyfriend David Puddy is religious (he listens to Christian radio stations and has a Jesus fish on his car):

Elaine: Oh. So, you're pretty religious?
Puddy: That's right.
Elaine: So is it a problem that I'm not really religious?
Puddy: Not for me.
Elaine: Why not?
Puddy: I'm not the one going to hell.
LaterElaine: David, I'm going to hell! The worst place in the world! With devils and those caves and the ragged clothing! And the heat! My god, the heat! I mean, what do you think about all that?
Puddy: Gonna be rough.
Elaine: Uh, you should be trying to save me!
Puddy: Don't boss me! This is why you're going to hell.

Isn't that the best? Sounds like many of the people I work with.

Could this be true?














Off Spirit Daily:

[snip] MINNEAPOLIS, October 5 (UPI) — A group of Catholics in Minneapolis will celebrate "National Coming Out Day" next Tuesday at the Basilica of St. Mary. Fr. Michael O'Connell will preside over the event, sponsored by St. Joan of Arc Church, as a service is held in the basilica's St. Joseph Chapel. "Along with the planned retreat activities, there will be time for reflection, journaling, massage, friendship and recreation," organizers of the Dignity Twin Cities event said Thursday in a news release. "We encourage participants to stay overnight on Saturday for the full, rich experience of the retreat, but commuters are also welcome."

Also, this Sunday, Dignity Twin Cities, a homosexual group, will celebrate a noon mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul. " [snip]

I seriously doubt that there will be a noon Mass at the Cathedral - not with Fr. Johnson as rector.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

St.Bruno


Holy Father St. Bruno...

Speaking about the Charterhouse:

"Many wish to come into this port, and many make great efforts to do so, yet do not achieve it. Indeed many, after reaching it, have been thrust out, since it was not granted to them from above.

Therefore, my brothers, you should consider it certain and well established that whoever partakes of this desirable good, should he in any way lose it, will grieve to his death, if he has any concern for the salvation of his soul." -Letters of St. Bruno. Office of Readings.

Each year I read this, what I know by heart, recalling it many times throughout the year.

Pray for us St. Bruno, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

St. Bruno's eve...


The feast of St. Bruno always makes me rather nostalgic. The Carthusians was the one order I finally found that I thought was meant for me - the only order I considered to be authentic.

The Prior of the Charterhouse I spent a month at, Fr. Raphael Diamond, a somewhat famous Jewish convert and friend of Von Hildebrand, as well as a psychiatrist, determined that I would be better suited for another form of monasticism or mendicant religious life - albeit, at that time, there wasn't much to offer by way of faithful religious life. I was absolutely crushed. I went to Europe as a pilgrim, emulating St. Benedict Joseph Labre after that.

My experience at the Charterhouse was very intense and sublimely spiritual. It was the most real experience of my life. Nevertheless, I left with a greater freedom of spirit, and after two decades, knew and understood what Fr. Raphael, now deceased, meant. (In monastic life, one is Fr. "By the first name" as opposed to the somewhat imperious Fr. "By the last name" in secular priesthood. I frequently "get caught" in that mistake. It often goes along with Professor "By the last name". One learns their place.)

This rather odd photo of a Carthusian, somewhat "Harry Potter" looking and kind of spooky - is not too far off. The Carthusians, being hermits, are a bit idiosyncratic, some I met were nothing short of eccentric. If anyone has been to the American Charterhouse in Vermont, and stayed awhile, they would know what I mean. (One Father wore sunglasses over his regular glasses, all of the time, he was kind of different.) Although, I expect if one had the occasion to visit the desert fathers, one would meet with similar experiences.

In the Charterhouse, one may encounter the most authentic form of eremetical/monastic life in existence, not unlike the early desert fathers, far superior to Mt. Athos - in my opinion. It's a wonderful life, and I am always full of repentance and compunction when I consider that I was not permitted to stay. I consider my experience a "remorse" akin to purgatory; it is the feeling, that I must wait for heaven, not yet able to enter.

I have confessed to two hermits in my life, one at the Charterhouse, another elsewhere, both were so taken aback and scandalized, I had to explain the psychological dimension of my sins in order to almost console them, as it were. The experience in my confession at the Charterhouse was the cause of my speaking to the Prior, which determined my being sent away. It is a source of sorrow to this day, yet it is the consequence of sin. My confessor in Boston scolded me for being so candid - they were old sins I brought up - Fr. Gregory thought I should have been admitted. Oh well, I still get in trouble for my candor. (One thing everyone has always said about me, secular or religious, I am always sincere and honest.)

Tomorrow I have to speak with my boss. I may be emulating Joseph Labre again.

More funny stuff...

Insights into the do's and don'ts of Ramadan:

[snip] "Deliberate masturbation during the month of Ramadan renders a fast invalid, Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khameini has ruled.

Khameini, who is Iran's most powerful political and religious figure, was asked on his website: "If somebody masturbates during the month of Ramadan but without any discharge, is his fasting invalidated?"

"If he do not intend masturbation and discharging semen and nothing is discharged, his fasting is correct even though he has done a tiharām (forbidden) act. But, if he intends masturbation or he knows that he usually discharges semen by this process and semen really comes out, it is a haram intentional breaking fasting," the Iranian leader said, posting the reply on his website." [snip] News.

This argument so reminds me of some of my friends in Junior High. How far could you go before it was considered "complete self-abuse" - as Fr. Pingatore referred to it - and not commit a mortal sin. Fortunately, most 8th graders grow up and attain a correct understanding of sins committed against the 6th commandment.

I wonder what the rules are outside of Ramadan?

Funny stuff...


Gerald had this post from Fr. Tim:

Via Fr. Tim's blog

Conservative Catholic pick-up lines:

10. May I offer you a light for that votive candle?

9. Hi there. My buddy and I were wondering if you would settle a dispute we're having. Do you think the word should be pronounced HOMEschooling, or homeSCHOOLing?

8. Sorry, but I couldn't help but noticing how cute you look in that ankle-length, shapeless, plaid jumper. (My favorite!)

7. What's a nice girl like you doing at a First Saturday Rosary Cenacle like this?

6. You don't like the culture of death either? Wow! We have so much in common!

5. Let's get out of here. I know a much cozier little Catholic bookstore downtown.

4. I bet I can guess your confirmation name.

3. You've got stunning scapular-brown eyes.

2. Did you feel what I felt when we reached into the holy water font at the same time?

1. Confess here often?

Brought to you by, "Just for fun News."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blessed Bartolo Longo


And Our Lady of Pompeii

Thanks to Don Marco I remembered it is Bl. Bartolo's feast day! He established the shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii. The image is a Spanish Colonial retablo he found, poorly painted, and had it re-touched and installed as the central image of the shrine, the centerpiece of devotion. Many miracles are attributed to it, or rather through the devotion of the Holy Rosary the image inspired. It remains my favorite image of the Queen of the Holy Rosary.

Check out Don Marco for more details.

Joanna Bogle


Mrs. Bogle is on the left in this photo.

I've only known of her because she and her husband James have a show on EWTN, which I find charming and informative. Now Mrs. Bogle has a blog, that I find charming, homely, and somewhat informative. I like her very much, finding her much more engaging than her husband. (He tends to be a bit Trandemish for my taste...) However, I'm pleased to link to her blog.

Disappointed however that a comment I left was never answered - she has "comment moderation" operative. Here is a section of one of her posts I commented upon:

"In the evening, went to see the new film "The Queen" about events at Balmoral surrounding the death of Princes Diana. It shows the Queen in a sympathetic light, and altho' it presents Tony Blair as something of the hero of the hour, the message is also in the end a fairly positive one about monarchy and continuity. But I wondered where people like me fit in: I was not there among the weepers and mass-grief-and-floral-tributes crowd and thought it all absurd and frightening. But I am certainly not Royal and wasn't at Balmoral, nor am I a politician involved with making events happen. Where do ordinary patriots of a once-mainstream kind, with a love of British history and a sense of the continuity of things, fit in to a country which sees Royalty as soap-opera and which talks in psycho-babble or slogans?"

I asked her, as an American who cannot understand the British Monarchy, why they exist. The Monarch has no power and the lives of the Royals seem so shallow. I then asked why the phenomena of the great outpouring of sympathy for the Princess Diana was "absurd and frightening" in her opinion. I found it curious. Nevertheless, she did not post my comment, nor did she respond.

I work with people who are "monarchists" and several traditional Catholics seem to be as well. I don't get it at all. There is absolutely no remaining absolute monarchy remaining in the western world. What on earth is the attraction? Is it even plausible to hope that a monarchical system could be re-established?

I wish Mrs. Bogle would have responded to my comment. It's not very cordial for a Brit not to have done so. Of course the Queen often doesn't acknowledge anyone either. (Nobility has its privilege.) Which brings up another point - as far as the Church is concerned, or let's say, the faith, has there been a legitimate monarch since Henry VIII? After all, the rest have been schismatics and heretics - well except for maybe one or two Catholic monarchs. But is a pretend monarchy sufficient for continuity? Continuity of what?

During WWII, Elizabeth's parents, indeed the entire family, were certainly morale boosters. Elizabeth II has maintained herself well all of her life and presented a very dignified and respectful presence, yet she does not rule Britania. The monarchy is nothing but a figure head - they do not rule. I don't get it - what's the point? In my estimation, the British seem to be a collection of eccentrics - intelligent and cultured perhaps - yet sometimes rather eccentric.

John Paul strikes back!

[Follow up on an earlier post.]
I've never liked Gaultier - his designs are tacky - but his response to the too thin controversy is fun. Actually, this model was the ideal in another century. (They say the French are getting more like fat Americans - because they are eating fast food such as MacDonalds more often.)

"Fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier found his own way to comment on the 'size zero' debate - by putting a larger model down the catwalk to show off his clothes.
Dressed in a daring black corsetry, the plus-sized model dwarfed her fellow waif-like catwalk queens.
Clearly more of a size 20 than the controversial model Size 0, this voluptuous woman proved big is beautiful as she strutted down the runway at Gaultier's 30th anniversary show yesterday during fashion week in Paris."


What if this becomes the norm? Then all the models will look like Russian matushkas! (Does anyone remember the '80's Wendy's ads depicting a Russian fashion show? It was hilarious - Moscow was insulted and Wendy's had to take down the ads.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The authentic St. Francis...


His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI had this to say recently about St. Francis:

“He was not merely an environmentalist or a pacifist. He was, above all, a converted man. I have read with great pleasure that the bishop of Assisi, Sorrentino, precisely in order to remedy this ‘abuse’ of the figure of Saint Francis, wants to proclaim the eighth centenary of his conversion as a ‘Year of conversion,’ in order to [...] demonstrate what conversion is by connecting us with the figure of Saint Francis, in order to widen the horizon of life. At first, Francis was a sort of playboy. Then he realized that this was not enough. He heard the voice of the Lord: ‘Rebuild my house.’ And little by little, he understood what it meant to ‘rebuild the house of the Lord’.” The entire article on; http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=82705&eng=y.

Who are you?



One more thing from our beloved Saint.

A prayer of St. Francis:

"Who are you Lord?
And what am I?"

How I love this prayer.

Look at him in this painting!



(Okay - no more blogging for his feast day!)

Francesco!



Francesco! (Recall his mother calling him in "Brother Sun, Sister Moon"?)


The blessed feast of Our Holy Father St. Francis of Assisi.

Father,
you helped St. Francis to reflect the image of Christ through a life of poverty and humility.
May we follow your Son
by walking in the footsteps of Our Holy Father
St. Francis of Assisi,
and by imitating his joyful love.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son
who lives and reigns forever. Amen.

He was so humble, when Brother Masseo tested him by asking why the whole world followed him, Francis answered, after moments in prayer, with joy and fervent love he proclaimed;

"You really want to know why everyone is running after me? I have this from the all-holy eyes of God that see the good and the evil everywhere. For those blessed and all-holy eyes have not seen among sinners anyone more vile or insufficient than I am..." -The Little Flowers of St. Francis.

Humility is truth, St. Francis knew himself well.

Pray for us sinners, holy Father St. Francis, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

(No more blogging for his feast day.)

Married with children...












Like I said, I thought Congressman Mark Foley was married. (He is single - and these A&F boys are probably the same age as the Congressional pages.) Still, I thought about married men who do similar things, recalling Sting's song, "St. Augustine in Hell":

"Relax, have a cigar, make yourself at home.
Hell is full of high court judges, failed saints. We've got Cardinals, Archbishops, barristers, Certified accountants, music critics, They're all here.
You're not alone
You're never alone, not here you're not. OK break's over..."

(Actually the song came to mind after I posted the painting, "Dante and Virgil in Hell" - now that isn't such a leap is it?)

Maybe it's the fault of Abercrombie & Fitch? Maybe some married men really are bi-sexual? Or maybe they were homosexual before they got married and hadn't realized it? If they did realize it, maybe they wanted to be straight and thought marriage would cure them? Maybe some recognized the disorder as nothing more than a temptation, and entered into marriage with the intention of living a good life. Or maybe it is just lust? Convenient lust.

St Francis De Sales writes about the sanctity of the marriage bed in his "Introduction to the Devout Life." He says; "The marriage bed must be kept undefiled, as the apostle says, that is, it must be kept free from impurity and other filthy uses." (This chapter would make profitable reading for couples.) This ought to be considered by couples who, although monogamous, allow pornography and other degrading sex acts to stimulate their love life.

I think in some cases a married man fooling around with another man sexually seems less grievous to himself than having an affair, with a woman or a man. It is quick self-gratification, often anonymous, with little or no emotional involvement. "No one gets hurt" as they say - and he really does still love his wife.

People such as George Michael, though openly homosexual, frequent public parks and restrooms to meet men that are often married with children. It happens more often than people suspect. It's non-committal, anonymous genital sex. George Michael and his like, proponents of deviant behavior, insist it is harmless. The danger of being discovered adds to the thrill. It is not unlike addiction to pornography, in fact, the use of pornography often initiates the behavior. Certainly one most likely has the proclivity, or at least, curiosity to act out homosexually, but frequently pornography sets the stage, while alcohol or drugs many times supplies the fuel.

It is something so common even Oprah did a show on it. Mark Foley's behavior isn't that unusual for some otherwise heterosexual men. In fact, in this day and age, when homosexuality is so widely accepted, I just assumed Foley was straight and married.

As with any sexual addiction and grave temptation, prayer and frequent confession is the antidote. The counsel of a good confessor is so important in these cases, especially a patient confessor who can tolerate numerous relapses. I also believe a man who may have a tendency to be promiscuous, and can easily compartmentalize aspects of his behavior, needs education to correct his conscience. He needs to understand the sanctity of the marriage bed, while permitting nothing, not even evil fantasies to corrupt it. That is difficult in our "Desperate Housewives" oversexualized cultural decline, where pornography and anything else is permitted to enhance the conjugal act.

I should note however, I've known men with this proclivity for homosexual sex who have successfully reformed their lives, fell in love with a woman to whom they have remained faithful, while raising a good family. In a sense, I think it demonstrates heroic virtue to go against society and opt for the natural law and marry a woman. Some fellows cannot do this however, and it is better if they remain chaste and celibate - knowing they have brothers who suffer the same temptations. However, pray, pray, pray without ceasing.

Thus ends my Mark Foley trilogy.

Out of the depths...


"You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit,
into the dark abyss.
Upon me your wrath lies heavy,
and with all of your billows you overwhelm me."
- Psalm 88, from todays responsorial.

"Dante and Virgil in Hell" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau(1825-1905)

Scary picture, huh?


(Bouguereau's Madonnas are some of our best sellers in our Store.)

The Tempest...


And Mark Foley

"It's vile. It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction." — Mark Foley, speaking about President Bill Clinton, in 1998.

I thought the man was married and I was going to post about married men who are homosexual, rather than focus on the scandal. I'll save that for another time.

Interesting story concerning Foley, however. Indiscretions with male pages. (In the workplace no less.) Nothing I condone of course, but it's an election year tempest, especially since he is a Republican. The young men involved were late teens - young men - albeit, underage young men. It's so not pedophilia. It is much like the priest scandal - it's a homosexual scandal. The Dems are pro-gay. So the "P" word may get bandied about instead.

Ah! Those politicians!

(Foley is Catholic and pro-choice. He thinks pornography is just fine for adults as well. We better start screening our political candidates better.)

Red October?


Growing up with the threat of nuclear extinction is a concept everyone on earth pretty much has in common. I was pretty certain it was going to happen in 1960 or shortly thereafter when the "Secret of Fatima" was expected to be announced. I was in 5th grade.

Today the news is out of North Korea again, promising to conduct nuclear testing. It's alarming, and then again it's not - we have been through all of this before.

Here is the latest report:

[snip] The announcement confirms weeks of rumors the communist state was planning a test and came amid increasingly sour relations with the outside world after it test-fired missiles in July.

"The U.S. extreme threat of a nuclear war and sanctions and pressure compel the DPRK (North Korea) to conduct a nuclear test, an essential process for bolstering nuclear deterrent, as a corresponding measure for defense," the statement said.

But it added that North Korea would never use nuclear weapons first and would "do its utmost to realize the denuclearization of the peninsula and give impetus to the world-wide nuclear disarmament and the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons."
[snip] Reuters

What is so different about the current threats by rogue nations, as opposed to threats from the U.S.S.R. in the past, is that a country such as North Korea has absolutely nothing to lose. They have nothing. It is a government that enslaves and starves its populace, demonstrating they care nothing about human life. Iran and al Qaeda care more about some fanatical concept of God as Allah and the spread of Islam, while convincing their people they will be glorious martyrs, than they care about the remainder of infidel humanity.

Nothing to be alarmed about however, we have lived with the threat of nuclear annihilation since the 1950's. Right?

The Transitus of Our Holy Father Francis


This evening one may solemnly commemorate the death of St. Francis of Assisi. The vigil of his feast day may also be a day of prayer and fasting.

The son of a wealthy merchant, many like to think of him as something of a playboy and romanticized knight. I suppose we can think of his youth in that way, yet it would be incorrect to compare his frivolity to how contemporary rich kids play...I doubt if he was as decadent as Paris Hilton's boyfriends. I think it is safe to assume Francis always remained a virgin. He liked to have fun and hung out with the guys, if you will.

His conversion after taking ill on his way to battle, allowed him to understand the vanity and brevity of life. He fell in love with Jesus. The vehemence of this love caused him to put aside everything and follow the Lord after the primitive example of the first disciples. Like Mother Teresa in our own day, he quickly gathered numerous followers.

Francis was a little saint. That is why I loved him and St. Therese so much in my youth. He was so simple and transparent he would weep at hearing a passage of the Passion read to him. His soul burned with seraphic love to such an extent he was conformed to his Crucified lover.

His III Order today still attracts the simple ones. Sinners seeking to amend their lives through penance and prayer. The 'official' III Order is now called "Secular Franciscans" and there is a tendency to focus primarily on peace and justice issues, while conducting a more academic approach to the life of St. Francis and the intellectualizing of the Franciscan charism. His doctrine has been more or less institutionalized, while his spirit seems to have been dissipated into something more "new age" than authentic Catholic asceticism.

Sometimes I think that is why, many folks, even some of the Friars, delight in the romantic aspect of the Saint's life. Surrounding themselves with bird baths and fountains of the saint with birds flocking all over the otherwise dreadful piece of sculpture representing him. Then there are those Brother Sun and Sister Moon ecological seminars many host in his honor. Yet Francis, in his most authentic image, is an icon of Jesus Crucified. He is in a tattered habit, his side and limbs wounded with the stigmata, his body like gnarled roots, barefoot, trampling the globe representing the world underfoot. He holds a cross, and perhaps a skull, representing the brevity of life and our final end. The authentic image of St. Francis calls us to penance, while urging us to love - to love love, and make love loved.

Yet I digress. This evening commemorates his transitus or death. In imitation of his Crucified Love. On this night, he rose from his death bed, removed his clothes and lay down upon the bare earth to die, covered only with a small cloth. The passion was read to him one last time before he died.

St. Francis of Assisi, father of the poor, example of penitents, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Job and me...


Lectio.

The prophet Job. (Although, he was righteous - I am not.)

"Why did I not perish at birth, come forth from the womb and expire? Or why was I not buried away like an untimely birth, like babes that have never seen the light? Wherefore did the knees receive me? or why did I suck at the breasts?" First reading at Mass; Job 3.

At my first Communion, I prayed that I could die, like St. Imelda. Later, I prayed I would never offend Our Lord by mortal sin, that He would take my life beforehand. After many confessions in my life, I prayed the same prayer. I begged Him never to allow me to leave Him, nor to repeat my parent's sins.

Yet I did.

"They wait for death and it comes not..." - Job 3

In the Gospel the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume those who rejected Jesus...Jesus in turn, reprimanded them. We need to pray for Rosie O'Donnell. I ask anyone reading this to pray for me as well. (I should never write or speak in anger.)

"You're the nicest dyke I've ever met." - Tallulah Bankhead














Miss Bankhead sarcastically said that to a woman she obviously did not like as she stepped onto an elevator, smiling at the woman as the doors closed. What a line!

I couldn't help but think of these words in reference to O'Donnell. Now this woman is indeed someone one might meet in a bowling alley, or a really butch dyke bar. This tacky Long Island bull-dyke, as of today, is taking pot-shots at the Pope.

She lost me years ago on her old show when she ambushed Tom Sellick, a guest on her show, and attacked him because he is in favor of Americans being allowed to bear arms. He was on her show as a guest and she literally attacked him, as only a big-mouthed Irish bar-type broad can. (And people wonder why I dislike my Irish heritage.)

Her old show was fun afternoon background chatter when I worked in my studio - she was funny because she was kind of dumb - like an overweight tough-girl-next-door who hung out with the guys. She had a good heart and did lots and lots of charitable things. She endeared many people to herself, especially kids. She did a lot for kids. It seemed like she had been giving Mia Farrow a run for her money by adopting as many kids as she could. Then she gets 'married' to her lover in San Francisco. You see, she comes off 'nice' but there is that other side to her...the bitch. The big mouth that craves validation.

Now she is on "The View". Another blogger once referred to "The View" as a news show. It is so not a news show - just because Barbara Walters is there - she's does nothing but entertainment news. Rosie is too dumb to be presenting news, much less commenting upon it. She's a hateful ex-Catholic lesbian who has an axe to grind and will do anything to discredit the Church. She and her one-time best friend Madonna never out-grew their rebellious Catholic girls school schtick - talk about arrested development. Here is a snip from Gerald's post:

[snip] In today’s edition of the ABC-TV show, “The View,” Rosie O’Donnell said that “the person who was in charge of investigating all the allegations of pedophiles in the Catholic Church from the eighties until just recently was guess who. The current pope.” She said her source was an upcoming movie, “Deliver Us from Evil.” [snip] What an idiot - she got her 'facts' from a flipping movie. And people thought Star Jones was a horses ass!

Here's a piece from The Cafeteria is Closed comments on an article Gerald posted today. (Read the entire article here.)

"But wait. Before these remarks today, and AFTER her Christian extremist remarks, Rosie had this to say (Sept. 28th www.catholicleague.org):

In today’s edition of the ABC-TV show, “The View,” the four panelists held a glass of red wine while joking about its alcoholic effects. After Rosie O’Donnell made a crack about the way alcohol affects Mel Gibson—“you just start spouting anti-Semitic statements”—Joy Behar responded, “In vino veritas. Don’t you remember when you went to Communion? In vino veritas. The priests were all drunk, don’t you remember?”

Here is what happened next.
· O’Donnell: “No. I remember they would do Body of Christ. You’d have to say Amen and then sometime in the 70s there was a big congregation and you were allowed to get it in your hand. Do you remember this?”

· Behar: “No I think I dropped out by then.”

· O’Donnell: “Oh, well it was big because my mother used to say when you have that Host in your mouth don’t let it touch your teeth because it was against (inaudible) so you know the pressure on the child getting it, you know the priest would put it right on your tongue and you’re [Rosie twists her face pretending to swallow it without having it touch her teeth]…Yeah, it was a lot. But anyways, cheers.”

We can be charitable, yes, but this (as all that comes out of her mouth) is blasphemous, plain and simple."

So why get upset about this? Because a lot of idiots think Barbara Walters has credibility, and therefore imagine O'Donnell does as well. There is nothing so dangerous to religious freedom as an angry ex-Catholic who harbors nothing but contempt and destructive designs upon the faith of their fathers. Bill Donohue of the Catholic Defense League is going after her - I hope he goes in for the kill.

Roast pig anyone?

Guardian Angels


What does your Angel look like?

Wouldn't it be wonderful to see and converse with him? St. Gemma Galgani did. So did Frances of Rome. Didn't Padre Pio do so as well? St. Catherine Labore had her angel appear as a little child to wake her and escort her to visit with Our Lady in the chapel at Rue de Bac.

Perhaps, if we were able to see him, we would try to hold onto him, maybe make "three tents" - well one or two - like Peter at the Transfiguration. We would want to simply "be" with him while neglecting our duties and responsibilities. We might fail in our exercise of charity, seeking our consolation in a friendship that we cannot penetrate or adequately embrace...such a thing is for the soul and God alone.

We must be content with the invisible.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." - Saint-Exupery, "The Little Prince"

(Check out "The Penitent Blogger" for a fine commentary from St. Bernard on today's memorial.)