Saturday, December 31, 2011


Looking back...

Not so much to see.

I was going to write about the past year's top stories but realized - nothing.  I realized nothing - I just didn't want to have to go through the process of linking to the stories and digging up the dead again.  After all, that has been kind of my motto recently: "Let the dead bury their dead" - but I'm not very good at it in practice...

However, now that I mention it...

The Corapi story.  That was huge, wasn't it.  I got in trouble for saying I wasn't surprised based on the fact he dyed his beard and started tanning.  Other bloggers got in even more trouble for speculating, commenting, and expressing their disgust, and have since been labeled bad Catholics, and are forever under suspicion as being in cahoots with the USCCB and Fr. James Martin and the evil Jesuits.  The wonderful thing about stories like these is that it reveals what a bunch of assholes we all can be under that thin veneer of decorous piety we like to bask in.  (I mean that in the 'nicest' way BTW - as in 'who wants to cast the first stone' and  'judge not and you won't be judged', and so on.)

For me the Corapi story was a good boost to my stats.  Seriously.  In the end, I'm not sure I cared so much about him - we all have our lives to live and we have to deal with the decisions and choices we make, and the consequences - which go along way after everything is said - but not done.  He is doing what he wants to do, living his life the way he wants to live it - or at least that is what he says.  I'm not too worried however, since as one holy priest once said; "O, the Holy Virgin, when one confides in her as a child, she never loses sight of you." 

I suppose if I have realized anything it is that the scandals involving other priests, nuns - Mother Nadine of the teal blue scapular for instance, and the fall of monks and monasteries - which I posted about - in the end revealed more about me than it did them.  It wasn't a nice picture.   

Anyway - for me the biggest story of the year was just that - I grew a bit more in self-knowledge I think - I hope.  I stand accused and my detractors are vindicated.  At the last judgement when everyone gets to see my sins...  It won't be pretty.

I need to pray many more rosaries, and pray them devoutly.

The feast of Pope St. Sylvester...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Feast of the Holy Family

How much the world and the Church needs this feast, when so many no longer know what a real family is.  Pope Benedict XVI:
"The family is fundamental because it is the place where there germinates in the human soul the first perception of the meaning of life," Benedict XVI affirmed.

"This perception grows in the relationship with the mother and with the father, who are not the owners of the life of the children but the first collaborators with God in the transmission of life and the faith," he added.

The Bishop of Rome went on to explain to the youth of Palermo that "the family is the 'little Church' because it transmits God, it transmits the love of Christ, by the power of the sacrament of matrimony."

"The divine love that united man and woman, and that made them parents, is able to make the seed of faith -- which is the light of life's profound meaning -- grow in the hearts of their children," the Pope said.

He added that "the family, to be a 'little Church,' must be well integrated into the 'big Church,' that is, into the family of God that Christ came to form."

"The greatest gift that we have received is to be Church," the Pontiff affirmed, "to be in Christ the sign and instrument of unity, of peace, and true freedom."

He continued: "No one can take this joy from us! No one can take this strength from us! Courage, dear young people and families of Sicily! Be saints!"

The Holy Father urged the tens of thousands of youth in the audience: "Do not be afraid to oppose evil! Together you will be like a forest that grows, perhaps silently, but capable of bearing fruit, of bringing life and of renewing your land in a profound way!" - Benedict XVI at Palermo, 10/5/10 

Hi Poodle...

Now try to cheer up - it's still Christmas, after all.   

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Are gay activists the new neo-nazis?

Some people seem to think so.

Unfortunately for 'them' they may be right.  On Christmas I watched The Sound of Music on television - again.  One of the characters in the film, a local man from Salzburg (Herr Zeller, the Gauleiter) who obviously sided with the Nazis and intended to force Captain Von Trapp to do so as well, interrupted a conversation during the party scene just before intermission.  He was rude and very brusque, spewing Nazi propaganda in an effort to refute, rebuke and silence the pro-Austrian conversation.  (The character acted like that throughout the film.) 

I must admit his behavior reminded me of how some 'gay activists' can respond to those who oppose legalizing same sex marriage and other hot button politicized issues wherein homosexuals demand not simply tolerance and acceptance, but societal approval.  More than one Catholic blogger refers to such activists as 'brownshirts' - inferring Nazi-like tactics - hence the title of my post.  Very often, the coercive comments I read from gay protesters on such blogs certainly lend credence to the theory.

Naturally that label is troubling to gay activists who sincerely believe they are fighting a civil rights war for equality, something liberal politicians and their minions seem to agree with.  Thus the Roman Catholic Church is more and more regarded as the enemy and real menace to society.  Especially since Cardinal George recently suggested the tactics employed by gay activists may be heading in a similar direction towards how the KKK tyrannized the Church in the early part of the 20th century.  "You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism," he said.   As usual, his words were taken out of context and sound more sinister than he intended - but that is how it goes in media when soundbites become the main story.

The Cardinal further defends his statement:
That dispute was resolved last week, but the cardinal’s KKK comparison – and his new explanation of those comments – have kept the controversy boiling.

“Organizers (of the pride parade) invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church,” the cardinal said in a statement issued Tuesday. “One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940s, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.” - Chicago Tribune

I definitely do agree with the Cardinal. 

Going forward.

The fight for gay rights is going to become more heated in 2012 - especially in Minnesota as we approach election time and the marriage amendment comes up for a vote.  I think I read someplace that in New Hampshire efforts are underway to repeal the law permitting same sex marriage.  These issues volley back and forth - as we've seen in California especially.  Likewise Republican presidential candidates have pledged to overturn the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.   There are big issues and not so big issues.  I'm against same sex marriage and homosexual acts, but who serves in the military doesn't happen to be an issue for me. 

The problem for Catholics, as I see it, is the lack of clear, consistent teaching on the issue of homosexuality.  To be sure, the teaching is there and it is spelled out in no uncertain terms.  There are documents to prove it.  Nevertheless, in practical terms there is a lot of leeway given when it comes to observance. 

For instance, homosexual acts are sinful, but the orientation itself - though disordered (disorders are normal for fallen man) is not sinful.  "Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder." CDF Letter, no.3

It's getting to be like a witch hunt.

Therefore men with homosexual inclination who have renounced homosexual acts and have accepted Church teaching continue to identify as gay - hence they refer to themselves as "gay Catholics".  Likewise, so do their actively "gay Catholic" counterparts who do not accept Church teaching on sexuality and marriage, yet attempt to live as faithful Catholics, frequent the sacraments, maybe attend Dignity and adopt kids and send them to Catholic school.  Straight people are especially confused about this situation.  What to do?  I don't know - it seems to me ridiculous to have to go around constantly repeating, "I live a chaste life and accept Church teaching and I'm against gay marriage."

I found an interesting comment on a Fr. Z post about an openly gay ex-priest EMHC at a parish:
Speculae says:
There are a few issues here that are of concern. The first is of course the fact that this man is an ex-priest, as stated within Redemptionis Sacramentum, he should not be involved in any liturgical activity that may confuse the faithful as to his standing with regard to his priesthood.

The second is that he is an EMHC…and I just can’t abide them.

But the third is a concern for a wholly different reason. As to being “openly gay”… do you mean that he has simply said that he is a homosexual, or do you mean that he is actively homosexual. I get the impression from the comments here that the very fact of his being a homosexual is a problem in itself. If the Church is to reach out to active homosexuals we have to accept that that is what they are and support them in living a chaste life…this honesty is vital if we are to have authentic relationships with each other as members of the Body of Christ. We can’t teach that homosexuals must give up their sexual lives and then demand also that they pretend to be something that they are not once they come into the Church. We cannot claim that we offer the Truth and then once people accept it ask them to live a lie.

If by “openly gay” it is meant that he is having sexual relations with someone (or more), then of course there is a problem and he must not be allowed to function as an EMHC. - WDTPRS
It is a rather good comment, making needed distinctions - however, how does one know which type of 'openly gay' person is acting?  Why do we have to know?  Within that post and comments, people brought up the fact they have gay organists at church.  (My parish does too - how do I know?  I don't really, except he looks/dresses, walks/talks, like a girl.  Do I care?  No.  And I have no idea if he is active or not.)  In the recent past there have been news stories concerning openly gay organists and other church workers being fired from their positions.  I don't understand that.  Frequently in large city parishes, organists are hired help - just like a janitor - only with status.

"Labeling limits and disrespects people. "

But I digress.  I for one, as I've made clear numerous times, whole heartedly accept and embrace* what the Church teaches regarding identity:
"Today, the Church... refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual "or a "homosexual," and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God, and by grace, His child and heir to eternal life." CDF, no.16

The Church won't put a label on anyone. To say someone is "gay" or "lesbian" or a "homosexual" is to define a whole person by just one aspect. It can lock up a person's identity and block further emotional growth. That's just the sort of labeling which gives rise to prejudice and discrimination. The Church stands against any behavior it calls immoral, but always teaches support and respect for the person. Labeling limits and disrespects people. - Source
Nevertheless, there are other sources of confusion which can compromise acceptance of Church teaching, or at least call it into question.  This is seen most clearly in the prohibition of homosexuals from Holy Orders and/or the religious life.  It is technically forbidden, although if a candidate lives a chaste life for 3 years or so they seem to be able to be received.  I'm not saying that it is wrong or right, it is up to the competent authorities to make such decisions.  I hate to bring this aspect up, but it seems the most convenient one to point out what appears to be a double standard at least in principle. 

For instance, without naming names, I know there are prominent priests who are active in the Church who happen to have very gay pasts - and there are those who continue to identify as gay - at least semi-privately, and some - in this archdiocese - are pastors.  That is something I don't get.  They seem to  'cling' to that identity when in fact it is objectively disordered, although it seems to me it  would be better to "strive to lay aside every encumbrance of sin that clings to us."  [Hebrews 12: 1]  To be sure, I annoy many ssa people when I say such things.  I can't control what they think of me any more than I can control how they live.

That said - I'm not going to knock myself out campaigning for the marriage amendment.  I'll pray and let people know I'm not a believer in same sex marriage, and I'll vote to pass the amendment, but that is about it.  I'm not afraid to 'stand outside the American consensus' - that is where Christ is, as St. Paul tells us:  "Let us go to him outside the camp, bearing the insult he bore. For here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which is to come." [Hebrews 13: 13-14]

Works for me.

*embrace:  It is one thing to accept Church teaching, to actually embrace it can take awhile for some people.  Everything is possible with God.  For those who can't accept Church teaching, I wish you well, I'm not your judge.

Looking back...

Looking back on nearly six years of blogging.

I'll be ending the blog sometime in 2012 - it was always my plan.  I'll have lots to say about the art of blogging and bloggers and blogists before the 'last post' goes up.  True confessions and exposures...

Photo caption:  "What if Chaz Bono walks into a men's room and tries to pee next to my son?"

The Lord of Misrule - redux.

Bosch's Ship of Fools was directly
related to the Feast of Fools.
Works for me.
Christmas season.
If you partied and celebrated throughout Advent you are probably one of those who say, "I'm so glad Christmas is over!"  Or you could be one of those experiencing some sort of post holiday depression.  That's too bad - kind of like the foolish virgins who used up all of their oil before the bridegroom arrived, and then got locked out when the wedding feast began.  The feast of Christmas really only begins on December 25, and it consists of twelve days:  The Twelfth Day - traditional Epiphany - initiates carnival season, which ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday - Mardi Gras.
Now the Lord of Misrule goes back to Medieval times, the origins of which are traced to pagan Rome, where it was celebrated for the feast of Saturnalia.   The festival tended to become rather debauched of course, and later was often condemned by the Church.  Perhaps a re-adaptation of the custom, with discretion of course, could help people celebrate the Christmas season more appropriately.  Such as resisting the temptation to be so caught up in the manufactured commercial observance of the holiday, which more or less ends on Christmas day night - for those who fell for the hype and partied through Advent that is.
"The Lord of Misrule, known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason and in France as the Prince des Sots, was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant or sub-deacon appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying, in the pagan tradition of Saturnalia. The Church held a similar festival involving a Boy Bishop. The celebration of the Feast of Fools was outlawed by the Council of Basel that sat from 1431, but it survived to be put down again by the Catholic Queen Mary I in England in 1555." - Read more.
Anyway - if my posts are a tad more misrulish during Christmastide - you now know why... and are hereby  forewarned.

Larry started it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas stressful? Here's a real 'dust-up'...

Greek and Armenian monks brawl in Church of the Nativity.

They do this sometimes.  When I was younger I remember the Franciscans even got involved.  Going to church in the Holy Land can be like hockey.  Hey - that could be a topic for a homily to attract more men to Mass.  Active participation - it's a good thing.

Report with a 'before the cops got there' video here.

Faithful priest, Fr. Bernard Reiser, RIP

A very dear and holy priest died this week, Fr. Bernard Reiser:
Rev. Bernard Reiser, founding pastor of Church of the Epiphany, Coon Rapids, died Tuesday evening. He was 87 years old.

Reiser recently underwent brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor behind his eye, but he returned home to Epiphany Pines earlier this month and was at home in hospice care when he died.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Reiser was born in 1924, the son of farmers Aloys and Otillia Reiser, and was ordained into the priesthood June 4, 1949.

He was a priest in a parish in White Bear Lake for 15 years when he was called on by Archbishop Leo Binz of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in April 1964 to start a Catholic parish in Coon Rapids.

In May 1964, he was named the first pastor of Epiphany. A 70-acre farm on Hanson Boulevard was purchased.  “There was nothing but sand and thistles, no trees except along Hanson Boulevard,” Reiser said in an interview with ABC Newspapers staff writer Sue Austreng earlier this year.

Reiser had a school, Epiphany Catholic School, built before the church, he said in that interview.

The school auditorium served as Epiphany Catholic Church while the church building was being constructed.

There were some 125 people attending services at Epiphany in those early days; now close to 5,000 families are members of the parish, which is one of the largest in the state.
Scott Schulte, Coon Rapids City Council member and owner of Hi-Ten Service Center at Hanson and Coon Rapids boulevards, describes Reiser as his mentor growing up.

Schulte attended Epiphany Catholic School from second- through ninth-grades and said that Reiser taught religion every day during first hour.

“Father had a great influence in my upbringing,” he said.

“He was a great man, served the community and did a lot for everyone, no matter their faith. He was an excellent man of God.”

In Reiser’s years as pastor of Epiphany, the campus expanded beyond the church and school to include Epiphany Pines senior living, an assisted living facility and Epiphany Cemetery.

Reiser retired as pastor of Epiphany in 2000, but continued to serve the Catholic church as a substitute pastor in various parishes in the state. He was also pastor emeritus at Epiphany.

In the years since his official retirement, Reiser has also been deeply involved in relief and humanitarian efforts in the Caribbean country of Haiti.

He first visited Haiti in 1996 and on his return, established Reiser Relief Inc., which since then has provided fresh water, fed the hungry, built an orphanage and eldercare facilities and funded primary schools in the impoverished country.

“We can’t forget,” Reiser said in his interview earlier this year with Sue Austreng.

“You can’t walk away from misery and do nothing.”

And since 2008, Reiser Relief Inc. has hosted an annual community fund-raiser, Keep the Wheels Turning Gala, for its projects in Haiti.

Earlier this year, Reiser was named by KARE TV as one of its “Eleven Who Care” program recipients for his and Reiser Relief’s work in Haiti.

The annual program honors the volunteer contributions of 11 outstanding, grassroots volunteers and promotes the spirit of volunteerism in the communities from nominations submitted by individuals and service organizations throughout KARE’s viewing area. - Peter Bodley, ABCNewspapers

Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs

My theory as to why abortion is still legal in the United States.

The pro-life politicians are not really and truly anti-abortion.  Why?  Because deep down they believe only the woman has a right to make that choice.  So yeah - they claim to be against abortion and go on to claim - even vow - to overturn legislation which allows it, nevertheless they lack the will to actually do so.  And millions of Americans are in denial about that - and we have become hostages to the worst crop of politicians ever to campaign for office.  In the meantime, countless innocents continue to be slain, and there isn't a politician or a court to overturn their death sentence. 

I may be wrong of course - although no one can convince me otherwise.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Truce Pop-ups.

Feast of St. John Evangelist


I suppose this post is like other blogger's 'quick takes' or 'time outs' - but I'll categorize it as 'pop-ups' and will not attach a number to it.  Since it is still Christmas, I'll call these snippets 'Christmas truce pop-ups'.  Short commentaries about non-controversial subjects without any passive aggressive snark.  (As if I would do that!)  Analyze away!

The fat lady already sang...

Christmas is over.  I know I say it isn't - and the Church and the liturgy says it isn't - but it is.  I was going to do a Christmas post each day for the 12 days of Christmas but decided against it - no one pays attention to Christmas after the Christmas day.  Unless you happen to be a religious or are religious.  Most people aren't religious. 

I've never baited anyone...

If I don't blog about something controversial hardly anyone reads me.  I'm tired of blogging about negative stuff however.  Especially during Christmas - yes, I observe Christmas - all twelve days of it.  What I dislike even more is reading the negative stuff on other blogs - people keep it up even through Christmas - along with their negative anonymous comments.  I no longer allow the anonymous comments.  It is for the commenter's own good - it is a sort of antidote, or prevention against their hypocrisy.  They should know better than to blog or comment when they are drunk.

Tippler's feast day...

Speaking of drunks, tipplers love today's feast of St. John, since as the Saint's enemies sought to poison his wine, the saint blessed it before drinking and the poison was neutralized and the Evangelist was not harmed.  Traditionally wines are blessed today - and people find another excuse to keep drinking.  BTW - don't make or drink mulled wine - the alcohol evaporates.

Prayers for those suffering the effects of disaster and terror...

On a serious note, I apologize that I've failed to mention the terror in Nigeria and the bombing of Catholic churches on Christmas.  We observe the feasts of the ancient martyrs during the Christmas Octave, while the martyrs of our day continue to suffer.  Likewise, the people of the Philippines continue to suffer the devastating effects of the floods.  These things ought keep us sober and vigilant throughout the 'holidays'.  Prayers for all who actually suffer Christmas.

The repeal...

Don't ask don't tell repeal.  (I find it interesting that just about everything can be repealed in this country - so why not abortion rights?  I have a theory.)  That said, I was impressed by Jake Tapper's interview with gay, active military men and a woman which aired Sunday on ABCNews.  One would never know the soldiers were gay - well, maybe one or two of them you could tell.  Nevertheless, they spoke well and expressed relief that they could now be honest about themselves and concentrate more fully on the job at hand:  “The most important thing that has changed since the repeal is now we can focus on the mission"  (Video here.) 

Now there's a train that's already left the station.  Works for me.

Bloggers we have lost this past year...

What happened to them?

Angela?  What happened?  Where are you?

Fr. Dave?  David?  Mark?  Maria?  Hilda?  John?  John?  Fr. John?  Paul?  Helene?  Molly?  Carole?  Bonita?  Sr. Mary Ellen Tracy?

If you watch the video - please note Oprah's boots.  That is so not her.

Bonus Link:  Meet Bonnie - a woman who lives in Wisconsin!

Extra Bonus - Self-Help Tutorial:  How to resist alien abduction. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas at Dogwood Cottage

Too dark? 

I do not know how to take good photos - sorry.  Anyway - I wanted to show the mantel with all the saints.  Spanish colonial figures: Mexican St. Anthony, Peruvian Bambino with silver reflector, Mexican St. Nicholas, New Mexican St. Joseph, Guatemalan Immaculada flank painting of St. Bernard.

The kitchen creche with the saints and 'miraculous' lights.  Mexican nicho housing Italian Bambino nestled in angel hair, surrounded by small German wood carvings of St. Claude, St. Roch, St Dominic Savio, and St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Merry Christmas!

Disclaimer:  No poodles were harmed to obtain these photos.  The decorations are much prettier in person and at night when you're drunk.  What?
Posted by Picasa

The enduring grace of Christmas.

It happened.

Christmas isn't about presents - or even receiving what you want in prayer.  It isn't about the giving or the receiving, or the lack there of.  It isn't about lights and decorations and greetings and parties or carols or religious or secular Christmas songs and stories.  It isn't about delicious food and drinks and treats and sweets.  It isn't about setting up a creche in front of the courthouse or insisting upon calling a tree a Christmas tree or wearing a button that says I celebrate Christmas.  It isn't about family being more important than going to church on Sunday because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year.  It isn't about all of those customs and traditions that have become ritualized and formalized or just trashed over the decades. 

It isn't about me or my religious and political positions, nor my moral judgements, or even my social position or influence - low or high or in-between or non-existent.  It isn't about who is for us or who is against us.

It is about love.
let us love one another
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten of God
and has knowledge of God.
The man without love has known nothing of God
and has no knowledge of God,
for God is love.
God's love was revealed in our midst in this way:
he sent his only Son to the world
that we might have life through him.
Love then consists in this:
not that we have loved God,
but that he has loved us
and has sent his Son as an offering for our sins.
if God has loved us so,
we must have the same love for one another... 1 John 4

Christmas is an epiphany, not a matter of sentimentality or a commercial celebration.

Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation. - Benedict XVI

In thanksgiving for the one thing necessary.

Feast of Stephen

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I survived Christmas!

It's Christmas Day in the city!

Merry Christmas every one!

I made it.  I made it through all the terrors of the night.  I made it through all the awful advertising and money talk and shopping mauls.  Yes mauls - people pepper sprayed, mothers fighting over Air Jordan's.  Public demonstrations in support of, or against tacky Nativity scenes on public, or private property.  But let's be honest - lights are lights and our inner child always gets excited when we see them - no matter how garish.

I survived all the murder stories - Minneapolis has a lot of gun happy boyfriends who shoot their girlfriends.  My advice - get married - then you can get divorced instead of killing one another. 

I lived through Christmas - Advent to all ye faithful - because tomorrow it is over for those people who don't need a Church to tell them what to do.  Yep - some people actually take all their decor down the day after Christmas.  One year a relative of mine who prides herself on neatness and efficiency took her tree down Christmas night.  "Aren't you neat though, Agnes!"

I survived the depression, the recriminations, the guilt of not being the man my family and friends expected me to be - although some tell me God is even more disappointed. That's a toughie, but it won't keep me from going to him this morning, as he lays in that manger - he doesn't turn anyone away... man nor beast.

Today those who keep Christmas come to know that Christmas is above all about Christ.

So once again:  Merry Christmas!  And remember, today is just the beginning! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The grace of Christmas...

Little Therese,
Pray for us.

Or the Christmas conversion of St. Therese.

Many good people and scholars have treated of the so-called conversion of the little Therese on Christmas, and she herself attributed great significance to it, writing:
"It was December 25, 1886, that I received the grace of leaving my childhood, in a word, the grace of my complete conversion . . . I felt charity enter into my soul, the need to forget myself and to please others; since then I've been happy!"   
St. Therese is referring to something that happened one Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass:
The one event in her life which Thérèse explicitly designated as a "conversion" fulfills the criteria of a moral conversion. Many years after the event, Thérèse recalled that on returning from Midnight Mass on Christmas, 1886, she overheard her father express annoyance that at age thirteen Thérèse was still planning to be the center of Christmas customs typical of small children. Thérèse's sister, aware of how unusually sensitive Thérèse was and knowing Thérèse heard their father's remarks, was amazed to see Thérèse joyfully carry on as though she had heard nothing.

Thérèse calls this "my complete conversion" because a dramatic change happened, she says, "in an instant." The permanent change in direction is from being a girl who "was really unbearable because of [her] extreme touchiness" to a "strong and courageous" young woman whose "source of tears was dried up and has since reopened rarely and with great difficulty." She who "wasn't accustomed to doing things for [herself)" now experienced "the need to forget [herself] and to please others." She now had a great desire to work for "the conversion of sinners".

Thérèse gives this conversion a religious interpretation, but it is more accurately understood as a moral conversion. This is not to deny genuine religious aspects and implications to the event. Rather, it is to affirm that the basic change of direction Thérèse describes corresponds more closely, in three ways, to that of a moral conversion.

The primary characteristic of moral conversion is the shift from concern for self-satisfaction to a desire for a life devoted to value. Thérèse speaks principally of this event as marking a change in her criterion of decision from self-pity to concern for others. Second, moral conversion is an experience of more adult decisionmaking. A movement out of childhood is precisely the process that Thérèse identifies as most characteristic of this event; it marked her "growing up." Third, the qualities of strength and freedom of decision -- characteristics of moral conversion -- are singled out in Thérèse's later interpretations of this conversion. - Source
I think that is a rather good analysis of what happened to St. Therese - but as with everything concerning Therese - for me it misses something - the intangible, the ineffable exchange that took place between her heart and the heart of the little Jesus.  Such spiritual transactions cannot be contained or limited by words, though she herself wrote about its effects... that writing being her Story of A Soul, and doctrine of the 'Little Way'.  May she obtain such grace for you and for me this Holy Night.

+ Prayer +

Convert us O Lord.

O Little King, attraction of all hearts, we hail that blessed hour and moment in which you were born of the most pure Virgin Mary in the poverty of Bethlehem.  You did not need earthly pomp or riches, for they could add nothing to your Infinite Majesty.  Teach us that true riches are within and that it is not what we have but what we are* that counts. Amen

O Jesus, sweetest child, born in poverty at Bethlehem of Mary ever Virgin, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid amongst the animals in a manger, announced by angels, visited first by simple shepherds; have mercy on us.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

*22. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. [...] He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled,(22) by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. - GAUDIUM ET SPES

Christmas Eve

I like this film.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"No Catholic for you!"

Detroit tells Michael Voris he is not authorized to use the word... term... "Catholic".
The Church encourages the Christian faithful to promote or sustain a variety of apostolic undertakings but, nevertheless, prohibits any such undertaking from claiming the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority (see canon 216 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law). For some time, the Archdiocese of Detroit has been in communication with Mr. Michael Voris and his media partner at Real Catholic TV regarding their prominent use of the word "Catholic" in identifying and promoting their public activities disseminated from the enterprise's production facility in Ferndale, Michigan. The Archdiocese has informed Mr. Voris and Real Catholic TV,, that it does not regard them as being authorized to use the word "Catholic" to identify or promote their public activities. Questions about this matter may be directed to the Archdiocese of Detroit, Department of Communications. - Source
They can do that.

On the other hand, I am Catholic - and no one can take that away from me.  I'm also a Catholic who blogs, but I do not put myself out there as a spokesman for the Catholic Church.  I was neither authorized nor commissioned to blog.  I know my place and stay away from church activities, lest I be tossed out in the street for improper credentials or not dressing appropriately.

Anyway - perhaps Michael Voris needs to head to the chancery and ask for a proper commissioning rite - like they do for lay hospitality ministers, lectors and EMHCs?  The entire congregation could raise their hands during the rite of commission and Voris could maybe get a cape or something to signify he's a real Catholic.

H/T to Mark Shea - who is also Catholic and enjoys it.  To Ray at Stella who sent me Fr. Z's post on the matter.  Merry Christmas my Catholic friends.

Now back to regular Christmas programming, with Manny, Moe and Jack...

A dusting of snow...

It is actually snowing in Minneapolis today - we've not had a significant snowfall for weeks - it has been warm and the landscape had returned to shades of brown and grey - but today there is snow.  Very Christmassy!

Art: Source

Pre-Christmas prep... the last day.

Christmas Cards.

I love them.  I think of them as little gifts - even the photo cards.  Maybe those especially.  I once disliked photo cards - but in these days when fewer and fewer people send cards - they are more special than ever.  They even appear on NYSD - which means they are now chic?  Nah.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Still time to get a tree...

I didn't do a tree this year - but I did decorate.  Garland on the mantel, with santos and candles; candles in every window, and garland around the Dresden embellished front door.  It's fun, but low key.

I think the secret of Christmas is to accept things as they happen - to avoid placing limits upon what and how the holidays are 'supposed' to be.  On the other hand, it's important to avoid the sometimes overwhelming tendency to place unreal expectations upon how Christmas should be celebrated - at home, in church, in the public square, and so on. 

Christmas happens.  Let it.

Photo: The last Christmas trees.  New York Social Diary  

Christmas at Bergdorf's...

The Christmas windows open on Thanksgiving and usually run through Christmas.  In NYC the unveiling can be like a Broadway opening.

The thing about e-card Christmas greetings...

They all land in my junk/spam box.

So a big thank you to all of you who have sent them - but I never see them.  Nope.  I do not even know who sends them.  But it's the thought that counts... so thanks.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hildegard of Bingers

It appears the Holy Father intends to canonize the 12th century mystic and declare her a Doctor of the Church.  Story here.

I'll drink to that!


Christmas 1967

Did you know Polo was founded in 1967 as well?

So anyway - a very old friend and I were reminiscing about Dayton's Department Store in its heyday back in the late 1960's.  The store went through a another renaissance in the early 1980's - something both of us worked through and benefited from once again.  I was in and out between those times - pursuing other interests - although my friend stayed all the way through to retirement.  The store began its downhill slide after acquiring Marshall Fields, culminating in dropping the Dayton name.  Eventually Macy's stepped in, and what used to be a fine department store turned into not much more than an outlet store.

However, it was fun to go over our experiences, recalling anecdotes and stories about the people we worked for and with over the years.  It's quite a history really.  In 1966-1967 Dayton's was on the map in this country as one of the very best retailers not only in the midwest, but the nation.  It was the year the company presented Dickens Village, a well researched, lavishly constructed, historically accurate auditorium presentation for Christmas, coordinated with finely detailed display windows.  In fact my very first job in the display department was watchman for the display windows, my duities comprised making the rounds of the windows to ensure the animation was working well and that there was no danger of fire.  I was so cute and nice, they kept me on after Christmas - and my career took off!  That's what I told myself at least, and I left home even before graduating high school - the job became my ticket out of the East side of St. Paul.  Although in reality it was more like running away to join the circus.

[Read a snippet of the Dickens Village history in the book by Karal Ann Marling, Merry Christmas: Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday.  Click here.]

I'm toying with the idea of returning to 'my story' - sort of a memoir - finishing up where I left off on this blog a couple of years ago.  I lose interest in writing a chronological narrative - which is why I stopped writing - but maybe jumping ahead to the Dayton's part of the story will make things more interesting.

I'll have to change a few names of course, because some of the people we worked with are still alive.  It was an unreal world, let me tell you, especially for a 17 year old kid.  I was glamour struck.  I recall one coworker who modeled herself after a famous movie star, even attempting her accent - she was a complete phony - but a good one - so I'll call her Holly.  Anyway, once I asked her why she was angry with me - believe me, I was so genuinely naive and unaware it wasn't funny, and she looked at me rather officiously and responded in her most imperious tone; "I can see right through that innocent little facade of yours, young man!  You are not fooling me or anyone else."

I of course had no idea what she was talking about at the time, although I was soon to find out.  Looking back, I mostly see the incredible irony in what she said, since it was she who created an elaborate facade for herself, feigning innocence and virtue...  But I'm jumping way ahead of myself and do not want to spoil the story by revealing too much here.

Curiously, the Presentation Director and genius behind the talent and store presentation was said to be a witch, and he kept live crows in his office, his name was Joe Wright and he was definitely an eccentric.  In fact the entire company seemed to be run by and comprised of eccentrics, many of whom were decidedly immoral, yet spectacularly talented: Gypsies, tramps and thieves.  It wasn't until the late 1970's, early 1980's that the business adopted a more stable, professional image.

My first Christmas at Dayton's changed my life.


Christmas memories...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Squirrel feed...

I'm feeding my squirrels this year.  One sits atop Our Lady's shrine just like the illumination shows here, to sun himself after he eats.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha


A second miracle has been approved and the cause of Blessed Kateri will go forward, she will be canonized a saint.  Te Deum laudamus...

Information on Blessed Kateri here.

Likewise, the cause for Pere Eugene-Marie of the Infant Jesus will go forward:
 - Servant of God Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus (ne Henri Grialou), French professed priest of the Order of Discalced Carmelites and founder of the Institute of Notre-Dame de Vie (1894-1967). - Source
"A person needs this feeling of weakness, of poverty, of physical powerlessness... It is good to feel our weakness, so that we turn to mercy! Remember that for yourselves. God has placed me among you so that I might show you how to use weakness. It's the way you take to return home with joy, with your fullness of soul." - Pere Eugene-Marie of the Infant Jesus    

The Nativity of St. Francis.

I think St. Francis originated the first live nativity re-enactment.

I think a sort of creche scene - at least in fresco, was already in use at the time of St. Francis of Assisi.  Either he popularized the three dimensional creche, or he initiated the live nativity tableau.  Today he is credited with both.

Anyway - I stopped by the live nativity at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in South Minneapolis last evening.  The parish presented a living mom and dad and baby, shepherds, and living animals;  a camel, a calf, a donkey, and two sheep.  The animals were so meek and mild.  The churchyard was all lit up, with colored lights on the pines, fires, and even a search light.  I think they served hot beverages and treats - but I didn't partake.  Despite the total lack of snow and the temperature in the 40's - it was awesome.  I normally wouldn't go out to see such things, but I had told an older friend about it and he asked me to drive over to see it.  I did.  He was deeply moved - as was I.

Our Lady of Peace is a cool parish: The pastor is a young, very good priest, and the parish is comprised of  young families and singles and their 'grand parents and parents and aunts and uncles' too. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I can't control the ads.

I think you can.

So you say you can't control the ads on your web site and add ons?  Here are a few ways you can do it:

  • Don't allow ads.
  • Take down your site.
  • Change your host site.
  • Do not use 'free' features/services which stream ads.
  • Use your donations/blog income to pay for a proper ad blocker.

    I'm just not sure anymore...

    About people and people stuff, that is.

    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
    Where there is injury, pardon.
    Where there is doubt, faith.
    Where there is despair, hope.
    Where there is darkness, light.
    Where there is sadness, joy.

    O Divine Master,
    grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
    to be understood, as to understand;
    to be loved, as to love.
    For it is in giving that we receive.
    It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
    and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

    If a man who does not control his tongue imagines that he is devout, he is self-deceived: his worship is pointless.  Looking after orphans and widows in their distress and keeping oneself unspotted by the world make for pure worship without stain before our God and Father. [James 1: 26-27]

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    Jyoti Amgi - the doll lady.

    "She's just like a little doll, and has always been veddy, veddy popular!"  said her parents during the press conference after signing with Mattel, the famous toy manufacturer.  "So many, many Sheiks and Shahs and Nabobs and Maharajahs tried to buy her for their daughters, that we felt it was time to go public and have replica dollies manufactured for sale for all the rich children in the world who have no siblings."

    I made that up. 

    The real story about Ms. Amgi, who measures just over 2 feet may be found here.  Perhaps her celebrity and earning potential will encourage Indians to permit girl babies to be born and treat the women of their nation with greater respect. 

    George Tooker, RIP

    I just found out George Tooker died earlier this year.  Of all the modern painters, he was one of my favorite artists.  I called him a couple of times, but he had a hard time hearing, though I intended to write him, I never did.  I prayed very much for him and mostly united my prayer to his own, but I never got the sense he was dead.

    I'm always the last one to know it seems. My dad's brother just died this past year and no one told me until recently - likewise, last year, I missed another uncle's funeral. I'm too reclusive I guess.  I'm not complaining however.

    Tooker was Catholic, coming into the Church not long after his partner died in 1973. 
    Vermonters can see his work in St. Francis of Assisi Church in Winsdsor. Tooker painted a large seven panel mural for the church in 1980 depicting the seven sacraments.  A devout Catholic, Tooker's funeral was held at the church on April 8, 2011. - Source 

    George Tooker's conversion reminds me of another man I admire for his acceptance of Church teaching, Pier Vittorio Tondelli.  (I wrote about him here.)

    A medieval skyline...

    Showing a better way to hunt.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Christmas displays of devotion... err, emotion.

    That 'miss'.

    It is probably just me, but I think a couple of displays being twittered about online just don't make it - they miss.  The intentions are good - the execution poor and misleading...

    "Rejoice, Bride of God..."*

    The image of "Mary" checking her pregnancy test - looking distressed.  Somehow religious people are touting a contemporary notion that Our Lady was like today's unwed mother, that her pregnancy was unplanned, that she would have been anxious about it - that she would possibly fear the consequences.  These are religious people imagining this stuff.  I can understand non-religious people, or Protestants and other non-Catholics thinking that - but Roman Catholics?  No.  No.  No.  The notion is ignorant of Catholic teaching on the Immaculate Conception, the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth and so on.  The ad campaign promotes bad Mariology, bad theology, and sentimentalism.  To find out what I'm talking about, go to: Mary's pregnancy test.

    Eucharistic flashmob in California.

    Occupy this, flash mob that.  I get it - but I think it's lame.  I actually commented on the original article writing something like:  "Big eye roll.  How hip.  It was orchestrated badly and executed poorly.  The priests were in albs and stole - the monstrance was carried in a suitcase.  They coulda/shoulda at least included some solemnity - using candles - even battery type candles, as was once done when taking viaticum to the dying, and then possibly exposing the Blessed Sacrament in a much more dignified fashion."  The 'mob' part - that is the participants kneeling was probably the most effective aspect.  Nevertheless, I do not think it is the proper use of the Blessed Sacrament.  As one commenter noted, "Someone needs to read Redemptionis Sacramentum. This is an abuse of the sacrament, however well intentioned." (MTCLAX at Jesus in the Mall post.)  I totally agree. 

    *Sections from the Orthodox akathist Hymn to the Mother of God.
    When the bodiless learned of the secret command, he came in haste to Joseph's house and said to her who knew not wedlock: He who bowed the heavens by coming down is contained wholly and unchanged in you. Seeing him take the form of a servant in your womb, I stand in awe and cry out to You: Rejoice, O Bride unwedded.

    Rejoice, O Bride unwedded, the world's salvation.Both now and forever…Rejoice, treasury of purity, through whom we have risen from our fall. Rejoice, O Lady, sweet-smelling lilly that sends forth its fragrant scent to the faithful. Rejoice, aromatic incense and precious oil of myrrh. 
    Most-holy Mother of God, save us.

    More exalted than the heavens, rejoice, you who carded earth's foundation painlessly in your womb. Rejoice, O sea shell who dyed with your own virgin blood the divine purple robe worn by the King of angelic hosts. GloryLady, you truly gave birth to the divine Giver of the law who washes clean the lawlessness of all. O incomprehensible depth and ineffable height, Maiden unwedded, through whom we are deified.

    Most-holy Mother of God, save us.

    Amazed was the universe by your divine glory. For while never experiencing marriage, you held, O Virgin, the God of all in your womb, and gave birth to an eternal Son who grants salvation to all who chant hymns of praise to you.

    Most-holy Mother of God, save us.

    Rejoice, for you carried in your womb the Way of life. Rejoice, Bride of God, all-blameless Maiden, who saved the world from the flood of sin. Rejoice, awe-inspiring message and report, habitation of the One who is Lord of all creation.

    Most-holy Mother of God, save us.

    (The Akathist Hymn and Small Compline)
    H/T to Deacon Greg for posting the stories.

    BREAKING! Congress overturns incandescent light bulb ban!

    Wow!  Congress can do something worthwhile!
    Congressional negotiators struck a deal Thursday that overturns the new rules that were to have banned sales of traditional incandescent light bulbs beginning next year.

    That agreement is tucked inside the massive 1,200-page spending bill that funds the government through the rest of this fiscal year, and which both houses of Congress will vote on Friday. Mr. Obama is expected to sign the bill, which heads off a looming government shutdown.

    Congressional Republicans dropped almost all of the policy restrictions they tried to attach to the bill, but won inclusion of the light bulb provision, which prevents the Obama administration from carrying through a 2007 law that would have set energy efficiency standards that effectively made the traditional light bulb obsolete. - NYT

    This should make Fr. Reichstag happy.  What? 

    The Novena for Christmas begins today...

    Come Lord Jesus!

    Little Jesus, unto thee I flee,
    through thy Mother praying thee
    in my need to succor me.
    Truly I believe of thee
    God, thou art, with strength to shield me;
    full of trust I hope of thee,
    thou, thy grace, will give to me.
    All my heart I give to thee,
    therefore of my sins repent me;
    from them breaking, I beseech thee,
    Jesu! from their bonds to free me.
    Firm my purpose is to mend me,
    nevermore will I grieve thee;
    wholly unto thee I give me,
    patiently to suffer for thee,
    thee to serve eternally;
    and my neighbor like to me
    I will love for love of thee.
    Little Jesus I beseech thee,
    in my need to succor me.
    That one day I may enjoy thee,
    safe with Joseph and with Mary,
    and angels all, eternally. Amen.
    (Prayer of Fr. Cyril of the Mother of God.)

    Chapel veils... how to look good in one.

    Caroline Lee Bouvier Canfield Radziwill and her sister Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis:  Way back when...

    Extreme Cosmetic Surgery...

    I think St. Teresa of Avila was friends with her - oh wait - maybe that was an ancestor.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    The Case of the Consecrated Host and...

    What appeared to be a miracle at the Church of St. Augustine.

    The jury is in and the verdict is: "The result of natural biological causes."
    H. Corby Kistler, a mycologist and adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, said Wednesday that Fusarium fungus might have caused a red pigment on the St. Augustine host. "Fusarium species are common environmental contaminants and often infest wheat and wheat products," Kistler said.
    What we are discussing here is what happened to a consecrated host, which was found on the floor at the Church of St. Augustine in South St. Paul, Minnesota after Mass on June 19, 2011.  The host was placed in an ablution cup (a small bowl of water) to dissolve, and then to be discarded into the sacrarium in the sacristy.  That was when a substance resembling blood appeared on the remaining particles, suggesting a miracle.

    Catholics should not be disappointed in the results of the test since we already know by faith that our Lord Jesus Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the consecrated host - the Eucharist: The Most Blessed Sacrament is our living sign of Christ's presence; the Real Presence is the real miracle.

    I can't remember where, and I may be wrong in interpreting it, but John of the Cross writes somewhere that God is not often pleased to have to send miracles.*  And in this case, perhaps especially so, since it could have added fuel to the argument some people make that the EF Mass is somehow better and holier and more pleasing to God than the OF Mass.  Just personal speculation of course.

    Photo credit and story here.

    *"It is not God's desire that miracles be performed; when he works them he does so out of necessity.  He consequently reprimanded the pharisees because they were unwilling to believe without signs; 'if you do not see signs and wonders you do not believe.' [Jn. 4:48]" - Ascent, Bk III, Chapter 31: 9.  Please note:   I am no authority and it is possible that I could have misappropriated the passage from St. John to the type of circumstance discussed here.

    Fatima, the secrets and those who claim to interpret them.

    Conspiracy theorists take note.

    The following essay is the best piece I have ever read pointing out the errors and presumptions of the Fatimists, as the author refers to them.  Some who read this blog are amongst them.  I will reprint the entire article here for your convenience and enlightenment...
    Catholics often criticize Protestants for their subjective “private interpretations” of the Scriptures that give short shrift to tradition. Some Catholics, however, are guilty of the very same thing when it comes to private revelations — messages reportedly given by Jesus or Mary to some individual or group of individuals. The 1917 revelations given by the Blessed Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, during World War I, at the outset of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, constituted possibly the most portentous wake-up call the Church has ever received. But the interpretation of the three “secrets” our Lady entrusted to the children have been subjected to the vagaries of private interpretation by Catholics who give short shrift to the Magisterium of the Church.

    The most egregious example of this phenomenon comes from a Canadian priest, Fr. Nicholas Gruner, the so-called Fatima priest, and the Fatima Center he founded. Fr. Gruner was ordained by the bishop of Avellino, Italy, in 1976, and transferred to Canada, but was suspended after refusing to return to his home diocese. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy confirmed his suspension a divinis (the loss of faculties for celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, etc.) in 2001. The archbishop of Hyderabad, India, however, disagreed with the suspension and incardinated Gruner there — giving rise to confusion about Gruner’s ecclesiastical status, and claims by his supporters that his suspension was invalid.

    For many years Fr. Gruner has been insisting that the request our Lady made at Fatima for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart by the pope in concert with the bishops of the world has not been made in the way the Virgin requested. His sticking point is that the consecration of Russia has not been made by name.

    In December 1983, after consulting with Sr. Lucia, the only living Fatima visionary, Pope John Paul II sent out letters inviting all the world’s Catholic bishops, and some Orthodox bishops, to join him in a joint act of con­­secration, scheduled for the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1984. In the consecration, the Pope, accompanied not only in spirit by the bishops to whom he sent the letters, but also physically in St. Peter’s Basilica by numerous bishops and cardinals, consecrated the whole world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Reportedly fearing retaliation from the Soviet Union, which at the time was threatening to crush the Solidarity movement in Poland, the Pope added a diplomatic but pointed consecration of Russia herself: “In a special way we entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations that particularly need to be thus entrusted and consecrated” (italics added).

    Asked a number of times whether this consecration fulfilled our Lady’s request, Sr. Lucia wrote, “Publicly, in union with those bishops who wished to associate themselves with His Holiness, he made the consecration in the way in which the Blessed Virgin had wished that it should be made. Afterward people asked me if it was made in the way our Lady wanted, and I replied: ‘Yes. From that time, it is made!’”

    In November 2001 John Paul II, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, and several others met with Sr. Lucia and asked her about the dissatisfaction expressed by Gruner and others over the lack of explicit mention of Russia, and their continuing requests to “re-do” the consecration. Sr. Lucia mentioned that her community simply threw such petitions away, adding, “I’ve already said that the consecration our Lady wished for was performed in 1984, and that it was accepted by Heaven.”

    Proponents of re-doing the consecration have suggested that some of Sr. Lucia’s comments on the consecration were made under “coercion” by superiors or even by an “impostor,” and that the consecration could not have been properly made since Russia has not really been converted — although the Berlin Wall came down, militant Soviet atheism is a thing of the past, religious freedom is allowed, President Dmitri Menvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are Orthodox Christians, and very positive steps have been taken toward the ecumenical union of Orthodoxy and the Church of Rome. One could argue that the situation in Russia at least compares favorably with that in Portugal, about which our Lady, according to Sr. Lucia’s Fourth Memoir, promised that “In Portugal the doctrine of the faith will always be preserved.” In Portugal, according to a recent Harris Poll commissioned by Pax Liturgique, a mere 11.7 percent of those who identify as Catholics attend Mass weekly. Some preservation!

    Possibly the Fatimists are expecting the sudden, mass conversion of all Russian citizens to the Catholic Church, the cessation of all social injustice, and the abrogation of all corruption — in other words, a “conversion of a nation” in a literal sense (the first ever!) that would make the emancipation of Christianity under Constantine in A.D. 313 look like a mere blip in ecclesial history.

    Another example of Fatimists’ private interpretation of this private revelation is their claim that there was a “fourth secret” given by Mary to the children at Fatima. In the official and historical account of the visitation, our Lady entrusted three secrets to the three children at Fatima. The first secret included a vision of Hell and God’s wish to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the salvation of sinners; the second was a warning about the danger of a second world war and the spread of Soviet communism (a nascent, isolated movement at the time). Sr. Lucia wrote down the contents of these two secrets in 1941. She entrusted information about the third secret to her bishop in 1944, and it was sent to the Vatican in 1957. Pope John XXIII and his successors each read the secret and, in 2000, after much anticipation, the text of the secret was published by the Vatican. It contains a vision of the pope and the faithful of the Church enduring persecution and martyrdom as they ascend a mountain. At the top of the mountain stands the cross, at the foot of which the pope is murdered by soldiers.

    Fr. Gruner and his clerical and lay supporters held a “Fatima Challenge” conference in Rome in May 2010 to complain that an alleged addendum to the third secret has not yet been revealed. They point to circumstantial evidence: (1) In her Fourth Memoir Sr. Lucia writes that our Lady said, “In Portugal, the doctrine of the faith will always be preserved, etc.” The “etc.” in this prediction seems to indicate that a part of the secret has not yet been divulged. (2) There is some discrepancy in references to the “one page” and “four pages” on which the third secret was written. (3) Archbishop Loris Capovilla of Loreto, Italy, once referred to an envelope signed by multiple witnesses after the secret was read by Pope John XXIII, and that envelope seems to have gone missing. (4) Pope Benedict XVI recently affirmed that the Fatima revelations refer not just to the past but also to the present and future; but earlier explanations of the third secret, including explanations by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before he became pope, indicate that it refers to the past, in particular to the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981.

    The 2010 conference included a representative of “the other side,” Giuseppe De Carli, author of The Last Visionary of Fatima and The Last Secret of Fatima, books that include extensive interviews with Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone refuting the “fourth secret” hypothesis. De Carli, who died shortly after the conference, became flustered at one point in the cross-examination, saying, “When a secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, says that the envelope mentioned by Capovilla corresponds to what was read by John XXIII, either John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI are liars, or we need to believe it.”

    What, indeed, have the Fatimists, with the assiduity of professional sleuths, been looking for? Why are they so suspicious of a Vatican collusion in deception? A recent pamphlet, The Still Hidden Secret, published by the Fatima Center, proposes that the fourth secret probably contains an apocalyptic vision, and that it is “related to the vision in which the Virgin explains in Her own words how an internal crisis of faith and discipline in the Church is accompanied by a chastisement of the whole world, including the bishops, priests and laity who are killed ‘one after another’ by the same soldiers who have already executed the Pope.” Catholic News Service reports that some Fatimists “have deduced that the secret foresaw the changes of the Second Vatican Council, especially in liturgy and ecumenical dialogue, as part of the ‘great apostasy’ which church leaders refuse to acknowledge.”

    Do we really need a special revelation from our Lady to tell us that there is an internal crisis of faith and discipline in the Church? And to warn about terrible persecutions, already gathering momentum in many countries? Aren’t we capable of reading the signs of the times ourselves? It seems that the Fatimists’ sleuthing is really a desperate attempt to find in the secrets an authoritative reason to reject Vatican II and all the Popes since Pius XII.

    The Fatima Center held a follow-up conference, called “Consecration Now!” in Rome this past May for the purpose of gaining popular support for a formal re-consecration of Russia by name. They are hoping that a massive groundswell of support will finally force the hand of Pope Benedict to accede to their request.

    But would it not be more appropriate for followers of Mary to demonstrate the filial obedience required of Catholics by trusting the Popes, ceasing with the distracting accusations of Church-wide cover-ups and a faulty consecration, and focusing on the simple yet major request made by our Lady at Fatima: that Catholics say the rosary often, and at least one time in their lives go to confession and receive Holy Communion on five successive first Saturdays of the month, in reparation for sin? This was the central message of the Fatima revelations, a message that risks being lost amid the Fati­mists’ agitation for the re-consecration of Russia and their fascination with third- and fourth-secret conspiracy theories. Something even more miraculous than the tearing down of the Berlin Wall might result if this request were widely heeded. - Howard P. Kainz for New Oxford Review

    Howard P. Kainz is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Marquette University and a former executive council-member of the American Catholic Philosophical Association. A widely published author, his most recent book is The Existence of God and the Faith-Instinct (Susque­hanna University Press, 2010). 

    Photo credit:  ROFLOL!  I have to link to the source.  Sorry.  Remember in the '70's when Baysiders were claiming Pope Paul VI had a double?  Supposedly the real PPVI was drugged and replaced with an impostor who implemented all the changes that came after the Council.  I wonder which one cried in the sacristy after learning he cancelled the Octave of Pentecost?  Ecclesial urban rumors... pay no attention.  "Come on Poodle, get your cape - we're leaving!"