Saturday, July 11, 2015

What happened to me?

Happiness in this life is no guarantee for eternal life.

The other day I wrote a post about pearls before swine and mentioned a mommy blog. I didn't link to the blog because the woman who writes the blog posted such lovely photos of her children - their innocence and beauty made such an impression upon me I didn't want to expose them or the mother to crude comments or anything unworthy.

That blog was a grace to me. I completely reversed my thinking regarding family and the protection of children from the contamination of our decadent culture.

I said that in the com box of another post.

After looking into the eyes of a child.

A little child.

Elizabeth of the Trinity was always a bit mesmerized by little children, especially babies - she called them little tabernacles of the Trinity - because after baptism - that is exactly what they are.  I'm not a theologian, but I know God dwells in each of us - otherwise we wouldn't exist - hence all children are little tabernacles.

My point is that the purity and innocence of children should make us rethink our cultural attitudes, our morality - which fiercely militates against innocence and goodness.  We need to protect children, which means we must protect the family and marriage.  Real marriage, sacramental marriage - between a man and a woman.

Entertainment, sitcoms, films are a form of propaganda intended to shape public opinion.

The other night I watched Modern Family.  Elizabeth Banks plays Sal, a friend of the gay couple, and she had a child.  The episode revolved around her being a mother, Cam and Mitchell are presented as the ideal couple-parents.  When it appears Sal may have abandoned her baby with them, their gay friends want to take the baby home with them, sort of like a little stray dog.  The kids are like pets - or playthings to raise, dress and enter into competition for outstanding achievement - destined to become BFF's for the parents when they finally grow up.

It's a sitcom, I know.  It is also a form of propaganda.

Kids are sexualized at a very young age - often in and through sitcoms - not to mention the bad example of parents.

I highly doubt good parents allow their young children to watch this stuff.  

The broken family today has little control on what kids watch however.  The breakdown of the family leaves broken families in its wake.  It has been like that for decades.  What dominates in media is the broken image of family life - and the traditional family is marginalized, mocked, held in disdain - parents are called bigots and homophobes and prudes.   Broken people perpetuate the disintegrated family model.  Single parents, unwed parents, divorced and dating parents, married and serially -remarried parents are dealing with a variety of 'deficit disorders'.  I'm sure people will find that offensive - but I think this may be another major reason why same sex marriage has become so widely acceptable and legally accommodated.

One cause of tepidity in retarded souls is the refusal to make the sacrifices which the Lord asks. - Garrigou-Lagrange

My point is that I recognize that the most 'abandoned' actors in this Modern Family scenario is the stable, traditional family.  The holy family.  The wife and mother, meticulously caring for her children - in many cases home-schooling - her job is to make a home - we used to call her a 'homemaker'.  Her husband is the head of the household - he provides for his family - the loving husband and father shares his life with his wife and they raise children to know, love and serve God.

The children are not playthings, teddy bears, puppies or kitties, or dolls to collect, dress up and show off - they are persons given into our care - we are responsible for them.  I'm often reminded of the following passage from John of the Cross addressing the problem of vain rejoicing in natural goods, even when it involves the desire for children.
"It is also vain to desire children, as some do in upsetting the whole world with their longing for them. For they do not know whether their children will be good and serve God, or whether the expected happiness will instead be sorrow, or the rest and comfort, trial and grief, or the honor, dishonor. And because of the children they might, as many do, offend God more. Christ says of these people, that they circle the earth and the sea in order to enrich their children, and they make them children of perdition twofold more than they themselves are. [Mt. 23:15] - Ascent, Bk. III, Ch. 17:4

"Those who are full jeer at the honey comb." - Cassian

The kids are not alright.  Kids need a family.  Children need a mom and dad and a stable home.  That is what the upcoming Synod on the Family needs to focus upon.  The traditional family is the model that needs to be salvaged and exalted from a culture collapsing under the weight of immorality and materialism.

Anyway.  That's what happened to me.  I was converted by looking into the face of an innocent child, I was fortunate to look into the bosom of a beautiful, loving family - and I understood how threatened they are.  I understand now they need support and protection.  They are not a joke.

Yet popular culture - entertainment media, derides the traditional family when it portrays the 'new normal' families.  As Garrigou-Lagrange points out, quoting St. Thomas: "to deride or to ridicule someone, is to show that we do not esteem him; and derision, says the saint, may become a mortal sin if it affects persons or things that deserve high esteem."

I'm not trying to denigrate contemporary, splintered families, I'm just saying that traditional families are increasingly marginalized and dismissed, as if they are no longer fashionable enough to merit attention.

Brothers, love is a teacher ...

I repeat this often - but I think it is important to keep in mind:

Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and
watch yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one. You pass by a
little child, you pass by, spiteful, with ugly words, with wrathful
heart; you may not have noticed the child, but he has seen you, and
your image, unseemly and ignoble, may remain in his defenceless heart.
You don't know it, but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it
may grow, and all because you were not careful before the child,
because you did not foster in yourself a careful, actively
benevolent love. Brothers, love is a teacher; but one must know how to
acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is
won slowly by long labour. For we must love not only occasionally, for
a moment, but for ever.acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is
won slowly by long labour. For we must love not only occasionally, for
a moment, but for ever. - Fr. Zosima, Brothers Karamazov

I grew up in a corrupt household - I know the consequences of that.

Song for this post here.

The Little Way of Pope Francis: Confidence and Love

“I could not leave Bolivia without first seeing you”. - Pope Francis to prisoners and their families.

The Pope struck a personal note from the start when he suggested the prisoners might be asking themselves: “Who is this man standing before us?”…”A man who has experienced forgiveness”, he replied, “a man who was, and is, saved from his many sins. That is who I am”. - RV

The Holy Father often reminds me of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and her little way of confidence and love.  What the Pope said to the Bolivian prisoners echoes her desire that souls understand the excess of God's merciful love - even for the greatest of sinners, and that it is not reserved for the few.

"Even if I had committed all possible crimes, I would still have the same confidence; I would feel that this multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into the flaming furnace of God's love." - St. Therese

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Crucifix of Fr. Luis Espinal Camps, S.J.

The Holy Father appears to be disconcerted 
as President Morales presented a replica
of a crucifix originally carved by Fr. Espinal.

“No está bien eso” ¡Caramba! “Eso no lo sabía”

I'm not sure what the Holy Father said, yet both accounts seem fine to me, and I wouldn't be surprised if he said each.  "This is not right" - as well as the, "I did not know that" - emulating Johnny Carson.


So anyway - I was touched, learning that Jesuit Fr. Luis Espinal Camps carved the original image.  My first impression was what St. Paul wrote in Galatians:  "The world is crucified to me, and I to the world."  On that level, the primitive iconography strikes me as deeply meaningful, especially considering how many martyrs there were as a result of atheistic Marxist-Communism.  Thus the corpus on the hammer, above a down turned sickle - but that is my personal interpretation of the image.  I do not know much about Fr. Luis Espinal, but I know the Holy Father stopped to pray at the site of his assassination, and that was very touching.

As a North American of European ancestry, I'm not as familiar as I should be regarding Latin American politics and the plight of native peoples, I know there is a history of much social injustice in these countries, perpetrated by various ideological powers.  The Holy Father is not an ideologue, to be sure.  The purpose of his visit is apostolic, as he stated when he arrived in Bolivia:
“As a guest and a pilgrim, I have come to confirm the faith of those who believe in the Risen Christ, so that, during our pilgrimage on earth, we believers may be witnesses of his love, leaven for a better world and co-operators in the building of a more just and fraternal society.”VR
Yesterday I had a conversation with a priest friend in his 60's.  He mentioned that several of his colleagues are not all that supportive of the Holy Father - especially regarding the encyclical on the the ecology, and I'm gathering, his critique of the international economy.  I suggested that as an Argentine South American, the Holy Father certainly understands a lot more than we do regarding these issues which have at one time or another, more or less destabilized South American economies and politics over the last few decades.  He is well acquainted with the environmental threats to the rain forest, and the seas, as well as the economic disparity between the classes in some areas of Central and South America. Whatever - I'm not at all disturbed by the Holy Father's diplomacy and conduct.

Here's one for Larry and Badger:

"Luis, you got some splainin' to do."
(Not to me though, padre.)

Song for this post here.

Look! Look! Pope Francis with Conceptionist Nuns!

"Holy Father!  Mother Mariana de Jesus told us to tell you that she never said all that stuff ..."

But don't tell Patrick or Steve or Marian!


Thursday, July 09, 2015

Oh, BTW: I'm following Pope Francis ...

Following him on his Apostolic visit to South America.

He is never far from Our Lady.

He also gets to drink Coca tea and Bolivia's Presidente Evo Morales gave him a bag of coca leaves.  That's sweet.

Some people are saying bad things about the Holy Father - but Our Lady is with him.

Follow-up post: Another Martyr for Purity ...

Bl. Albertina Berkenbrock (1919-1931)
Virgin and martyr

Her assailant informed her of his intentions but she firmly refused him...

One day when Albertina was searching for a runaway bullock she came across Maneco loading beans into his cart. When she asked him if he had seen the bullock he pointed in the wrong direction to entice her to a place where he could satisfy his lust without attracting attention. 
Innocently, Albertina followed Maneco's directions and came to a wooded area. On hearing twigs cracking she turned, thinking it was the bullock, and found herself face to face with Maneco. She was petrified. 
He informed her of his intentions but she firmly refused him. Albertina fought hard for her virtue. Even when he threw her to the ground, she did her best to cover herself. Furious at having been morally defeated by the young girl, Maneco grasped her by the hair and slit her throat with a knife. - Vatican

It is so strange how people use the 'F' bomb right and left, but you can't say Virgin Martyr.

You can talk about animated vaginae - but don't mention virginity or modesty.  Weird.

I'm not trying to aggravate readers, but the fact is, there are quite a few virgin martyrs whose heroic witness fits the same MO as St. Maria Goretti.  Therefore, if you want that Goretti should have died just because she didn't want Serenelli to commit sin - go ahead.  There are several other virgin martyrs who admired St. Maria for her heroic sacrifice, who also died rather than submit to their attackers.

As often as the Church is blamed for insensitivity towards victims of sexual abuse and rape, the fact that these holy women and girls are almost immediately proposed for beatification is a sure sign of pastoral concern and support for victims of sexual abuse and rape.  If the Church ignored them, there would surely be an outcry.  In fact, it is always the people of God who initiate devotion to those who were so brutally murdered.

If that doesn't 'twerk' for you, here's a thought ...

As I mentioned in the com box of another post, In our culture virginity has become a joke, an out dated idea.  Middle and high school girls call one another slut and whore, while rap songs extol unchaste behavior, calling girls 'bitches' and 'ho's'.  Virginity as an ideal has become repellent to women.  Chastity is certainly not esteemed in our culture.  

Nor is modesty.  So-called modesty/purity culture is frequently compared to rape culture - always blaming the victim.  There is some validity to that connection of course, however, many of the arguments strike me as rather naive and unconvincing.  Ask yourself why strip bars and porn is so popular.  What is concupiscence of the eyes?  It actually means human beings are aroused by nudity as well as provocative and immodest fashions.  That doesn't mean that anyone has the right to violate another, nor that the victim is to blame either.  It's just reality. 

My apologies if that offends you.  

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Happy Chinese Birthday Heather Moffitt!

July 8

Big hug!

Bl. Alexandrina Maria da Costa - 2015 is the 60th Anniversary of her death.

Alexandrina Maria da Costa

Blessed Alexandrina wasn't a martyr - she was an ordinary laywoman.  Kind of.  Essentially she was a victim soul and mystic.  At the age of twelve Our Lord revealed this vocation to her.  The same age Maria Goretti died a martyr, this young girl was given the vocation of a victim soul.  God is so mean, huh?  Who would ever want a young girl to suffer?  Or die?  Or be harmed in any way, right?  (I'm being facetious of course.)

Here's the deal.

Alexandrina jumped from a second story window, crippling herself rather than succumb to rape.  To preserve her purity - aka virginity.
When Alexandrina was 14, something happened that left a permanent imprint on her, both physically and spiritually: it gave her a face-to-face look at the horror and consequences of sin. 
On Holy Saturday of 1918, while Alexandrina, Deolinda and a young apprentice were busily sewing, three men violently entered their home and attempted to sexually violate them. To preserve her purity, Alexandrina jumped from a window, falling four metres to the ground. 
Her injuries were many, and the doctors diagnosed her condition as "irreversible": it was predicted the paralysis she suffered would only get worse. 
Until age 19, Alexandrina was still able to "drag herself" to church where, hunched over, she would remain in prayer, to the great amazement of the parishioners. With her paralysis and pain worsening, however, she was forced to remain immobile, and from 14 April 1925 until her death - approximately 30 years - she would remain bedridden, completely paralyzed. 
Alexandrina continued to ask the Blessed Mother for the grace of a miraculous healing, promising to become a missionary if she were healed. 
Little by little, however, God helped her to see that suffering was her vocation and that she had a special call to be the Lord's "victim". The more Alexandrina "understood" that this was her mission, the more willingly she embraced it. 
She said: "Our Lady has given me an even greater grace: first, abandonment; then, complete conformity to God's will; finally, the thirst for suffering". - Read more at Vatican/Saints

New martyrs for purity.

The example of the early virgin martyrs, as well as the story of Maria Goretti, was highly regarded by girls and young women at one time.  Two other virgin martyrs from the 20th century come to mind, Pierina Morosini and Antonia Mesina:

In 1957, 26 year old Pierina Morosini was murdered while returning home from her job in a factory. Her attacker attempted to seduce her, as she fought to refuse his advances, he beat her to death with a large stone, crushing her face. Blessed Pierina is today venerated as the patron of rape victims, as well as a martyr for chastity.  She was also at the canonization of Maria Goretti.
Born into a poor family of eight children in 1931 in the Diocese of Bergamo, Italy, Pierina at one time desired to enter religious life but remained a lay woman consecrated to God by a private vow of chastity. She remained with her family offering support to her mother, while teaching catechism in her parish. Trained as a seamstress, Pierina began to work in a factory at age 15. On October 4, 1987, John Paul II beatified Pierina along with another Italian martyr for purity,Antonia Mesina , a 16 year old Sardinian murdered by a teenage rapist in 1935.
Antonia and her friend Annette were gathering wood, when she was attacked by an older boy. Her friend escaped and ran for help, while the assailant repeatedly assaulted Antonia, finally killing her. The young girl had 74 wounds and was declared a martyr of chastity. Her murderer confessed and repented before his execution in 1937.

A short list:

Pierina Morosini, lay woman, (+ Fiobbo di Albino, Bergamo, 1957), aged 26. She was attacked by a man who stoned her to death for refusing to comply with his evil desires. She was unconscious and died two days later in hospital. [4. October 1987].

Antonia Mesina, lay woman (+ Orgosolo, Nuoro 1935). At the age of 16, while gathering wood, she was killed by a prowler who tried to rape her. [4. October 1987).

Karolina Kozka, Lay woman, Polish (Wal Ruda, Poland, 1914), killed by a Russian soldier at the age of 17, while defending her virginity, . [10. June 1987 in Tarnow].

St. Maria Goretti died defending her virginity.  So did these young women.  So did St. Agnes and the many virgin martyrs in ancient times.  Don't shortchange their sacrifice.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

St Maria Goretti: Simcha Fisher has focused on the Virgin Martyr's heroic charity for her attacker ... Yet, Maria was beatified and canonized as a Martyr for Purity.

"The value of Christian virtue is so great, so overwhelming, so imperative, 
that it is worth more than life. Purity is not just a separate part of our being. 
It belongs to our existence as a whole, it is essential for our life. 
Purity brings us in harmony of body and soul." 

"No, it is a sin. God does not want it!" St. Maria Goretti

From the beatification homily of Pope Pius XII:
"Maria Goretti resembled St. Agnes in her characteristic virtue of Fortitude. This virtue of Fortitude is at the same time the safeguard as well as the fruit of virginity. Our new beata was strong and wise and fully aware of her dignity. That is why she professed death before sin. She was not twelve years of age when she shed her blood as a martyr, nevertheless what foresight, what energy she showed when aware of danger! She was on the watch day and night to defend her chastity, making use of all the means at her disposal, persevering in prayer and entrusting the lily of her purity to the special protection of Mary, the Virgin of virgins. Let us admire the fortitude of the pure of heart. It is a mysterious strength far above the limits of human nature and even above ordinary Christian virtue." - Beatification Homily Pius XII
So you see, Maria's place in the company of martyrs in heaven, recognized in and through the decrees of beatification and canonization, is on account of heroic virtue, in particular the virtue of Fortitude which is the safeguard of virginity, as Pius XII indicated.  
Fortitude is the moral virtue which strengthens the soul in the pursuit of the difficult good so that it does not allow itself to be shaken by the greatest obstacles. It should dominate the fear of danger, fatigue, criticism, all that would paralyze our efforts toward the good. It prevents man from capitulating in a cowardly manner when he should fight; it also moderates audacity and untimely exaltation which would drive him to temerity.
The heroic degree of the virtue of fortitude appears especially in martyrdom, undergone to give testimony to a truth of faith or to the grandeur of a Christian virtue. Outside of martyrdom, the virtue of fortitude, the gift of fortitude, patience, and magnanimity intervene each time that something heroic is to be accomplished or a great trial to be borne. - Garrigou-Lagrange
Fortitude, aka, courage.

At the age of twelve, St. Maria was not simply a pious young girl, she was actually a very virtuous and mature - as in responsible - young woman. She helped her mother raise, nurture and educate her siblings while attending to simple household duties. Attach to these attributes a deep devotion to our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, and we come to understand the authenticity of her piety and heroic virtue, which was proved by her martyrdom. While it is true Maria Goretti resisted her attacker to preserve her own chastity - not for the sake of selfish self interest or vanity, to be sure.  Her love of God necessarily included love of virtue, hence the love of chastity and virginity, of which fortitude is the fruit.

Attached to the virtue of fortitude is the virtue of magnanimity, as Garrigou-Lagrange says: "To the virtue of fortitude is also linked that of magnanimity, which leads to the lofty practice of all the virtues."   It also accounts for the martyr's ability to forgive the attacker.  What Fisher points out in her essay is Maria Goretti's concern for her attacker to avoid mortal sin, suggesting this is the reason for her canonization - or at least, this is the aspect we ought to focus upon.  While it is true that St. Maria's resistance to her attacker included her concern to prevent him from committing mortal sin, Alessandro did in the end commit the mortal sin of murder.  After her death, the Saint herself saw to his conversion after he had been convicted for his crime and was in prison serving his sentence.

Revisionist hagiography

These days everyone seems to be rewriting the lives of the saints to suit whatever their own personal interest story happens to be.  Christians oftentimes seem to not understand sanctity now what it consists of.  The don't understand the virtues nor do they comprehend men and women are canonized for their heroic virtue - even the martyrs.  Loving the virtues is God-like - it's not an ideology or cult practice.  Lacking virtue is not virtuous - they confuse virtue with merit.  We need grace and we need mercy - we need the merits of the Blood of Jesus Christ to infuse the virtues within us.  Loving the virtues is the fruit of genuine charity - love of God and our neighbor.  The soul loves what God loves, hence the love of chastity is indeed part of devotion.
The motive that should inspire chastity is the love of God. Chastity of heart and body is in reality the renunciation of every illicit affection out of love of God. It prevents the life of the heart from descending, so that it may rise toward God like a living flame ever more pure and ardent. Chastity of the body is like bark around chastity of the heart, which is the more precious. - Garrigou-Lagrange
We can't invent a new spirituality, as it were, to accommodate our shortcomings or the moral failures of our age.  Our remedy for that is recourse to prayer, the sacraments, and devotion to the mercy of God.

In conclusion, Simcha Fisher is a bit confused, Maria Goretti really did die for her virginity - just as St. Agnes and the first virgin-martyrs of Rome had.  That's the faith of the Church folks.  Don't get your religious education from bloggers and journalists.

Serenelli, Maria's murderer knew exactly why the saint died.
A few days before his death at the age of 88, Alessandro Serenelli who at the age of 18 had tried to rape Maria Goretti, and who later acknowledged that his repentance was due to her heavenly intercession, was asked if he had any advice to give to the youth of his day (this was the year 1970). He wrote the following words which have not lost their immediacy:
"I sincerely ask pardon of God and of the entire world for the crime which I committed against the martyr, Maria Goretti, and against purity. With all my heart I plead with you to avoid all immoral literature and shows, and whatever else will lead you into sins of impurity."
Alessandro would often repeat besides the picture of his victim: "I killed a saint, and now after 69 years of penance and prayer, by God's mercy I am going to join her in Heaven." - Source
So did John Paul II.
"She did not flee from the voice of the Holy Spirit, from the voice of her conscience. She rather chose death. Through the gift of fortitude the Holy Spirit helped her to 'judge"- and to choose with her young spirit. She chose death when there was no other way to defend her virginal purity. Maria Goretti's blood, shed in a sacrifice of total fidelity to God, reminds us that we are also called to offer ourselves to the Father. We are called to fulfill the divine will in order to be found holy and pleasing in His sight. Our call to holiness, which is the vocation of every baptized person, is encouraged by the example of this young martyr. 
Look at her especially, adolescents and young people. Like her, be capable of defending your purity of heart and body; be committed to the struggle against evil and sin, nourishing your communion with the Lord through prayer, the daily practice of mortification, and scrupulously observing the commandments. Do not be afraid to take a counter-cultural stance, to reject the world's idols when it is a question of courageously witnessing by your lives that you belong to a chaste and poor Christ. Always esteem and love purity and virginity. - (L'Osservatore Romano- English ed., 10/7/91)

St. John Paul counselled to always love and esteem purity and virginity. Love of God generates love of virtue, and love of neighbor. Never denigrate that dimension of holiness, never claim that there is something wrong with one's devotion, whose love is strong as death - as the Song of Song's notes. Never cheapen the grace of God suggesting misinterpretations of why she died such as the claim: "In Maria Goretti’s case, she was focused on her rapist — and it was her love for him, and not her blindingly pure devotion to chastity that converted him ..." Where did Fisher learn that? Maria was focused upon God, she struggled against her would be rapist and indeed cried out to her attacker: "No! It's a sin! God does not want it!"

Knock off the revisionism people.  Goretti died for her virginity - I knew that as a kid in Catholic school.  Sanctity of life is not bathwater - the virtues are indispensable for holiness.

We need humility to understand the greatness of the saints and martyrs.

For those of us who have not 'resisted sin to the point of shedding blood' remember that the Precious Blood of Jesus brings forth virgins... even after physical virginity is lost. I think the example and intercession of Maria Goretti is especially important for young men and women who have lost their virginity, especially victims of rape - whose physical virginity was violated against their will, as well as the offenders-perpetrators of the crime.

Sometimes the example of the saints can be intimidating, and often times well intentioned religious people use the saints to castigate or shame the worldly - and yet it is just the opposite with God. He makes saints to attract us to virtue, to holiness, to Himself. The example of the saints should never be used to denigrate, intimidate, condemn or repel a soul attracted to virtue. St. Maria Goretti proves this through her apparition (intervention) to her murderer, convincing him of God's merciful love. I think it is through their example that many of the saints condemned a sinful world, yet charity remains the compelling force which moves them to heroic love for the sinner.

July 7: Today the Novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Begins.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is an ancient devotion, very necessary in our times when there is great conflict and persecution in the Middle East.  When the dogma of faith is challenged and compromised throughout Christendom.  When paganism has once again attracted and made captive mainstream society.  When idolatry has replaced true worship of God the Father in spirit and truth.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is the Good Shepherdess, the luminous cloud, rising from the sea, leading the exodus from idolatry and selfish sensuality.

Besides the prayers of preparation for Our Lady's feast, one might consider being clothed in the Scapular of Mt. Carmel, if you haven't been already; as both a sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and as an external sign of her maternal protection.


Oh, most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, 
fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven. 
Blessed Mother of the Son of God, 
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity,
 Oh Star of the Sea, help me and show me here you are my Mother. 
Oh Holy Mary, Mother of God Queen of Heaven and Earth, 
I humbly beseech thee from the bottom of my heart 
to succor me in my necessity.
 There are none that can withstand your power. 
Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. 
Holy Mary, I place this prayer in your hands. Amen.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The history of 'pearl clutching'...

Braldt Bralds: Pearls Before Swine

A trendy cliché become useful for dismissing ordinary people.

I just did a post - as yet unpublished - where I referenced the expression 'clutches pearls' and noted that it's often a disparaging phrase used to dismiss another person - especially conservative women - who are dismayed by permissive, liberal attitudes or social behaviors.  Most recently, the expression was liberally used for anyone who was disappointed by the SCOTUS resolution legalizing same sex marriage.

Pop-culture adopted the phrase and one author traces the contemporary usage here:
The phrase pearl clutching, which means being shocked by something once-salacious that should now be seen as commonplace, like sex, is ubiquitous on blog posts, especially in media geared towards women. For instance, a recent post on Jezebel called Girl Land author Caitlin Flanagan a “professional pearl clutcher.” Less than two hours later, another Jezebel writer called a sexy Calvin Klein ad “sure to inspire pearl-clutch-y local news stories across the nation.” The feminist website Feministe used the phrase in a blog post about privilege and oppression; another feminist website, Tiger Beatdown, used it to deride a Wall Street Journal writer who was panicking about the subject matter of YA novels. But the phrase isn’t just used in the lady blogosophere: A Washington Post columnist wrote dismissively last week about the “pearl-clutching that hippies’ parents did in the 1960s.” Basically, a writer who discusses pearl-clutching is saying, “I’m too blasé and worldly to be shocked by this.” - Slate
The entire article is quite interesting.  I've always thought the image was amusing, knowing full well there is a tendency to silence traditional women, stay at home moms, homeschoolers, conservatives, by shaming them to some degree, often relying on cultural stereotypes - such as ladies who dress appropriately and modestly for Mass.  They might be pearl clutchers.

Pearls before swine.

Thinking about the phrase, especially in relation to the recent gay rights victories, I came to the conclusion the meaning has deeper roots.  I decided 'clutching pearls' is related to the scriptural admonition to avoid, 'casting your pearls before swine.'  In other words, to take care when under attack, as it were.  Especially when immorality threatens the traditional family.

You see the expression used on Catholic blogs as well - including mine.  You also see it used by gay-Catholics and more liberal Catholics.  Some of the gay bloggers on Patheos may not use this particular cliche, but they do refer to more 'conservative' women with a hint of disdain.  References to chapel-veiled, traditional women invokes a vague connotation of  prudishness.

Male chauvinism and rad-feminism demeans wives and mothers.

I've done the same thing over the years, making it known 'I don't read mommy blogs,' making fun of denim jumpers and chapel veils, as well as 'modest fashions' being more or less unfashionable, and so on.

I think I owe some apologies to these people.  As the author of the Slate article I cited concluded:
The loss of novelty isn’t the only problem with the phrase. While the mental image is amusing, the use of the phrase has degenerated into accusatory shorthand, particularly in blog comments. People—particularly women—lob the charge at one another to accuse them of not being liberal, or feminist, or open-minded enough; not infrequently, it prompts tedious semantic debates about whether something is “pearl clutching” or a legitimate concern. - Slate
Reading mommy blogs. 

This weekend I came across a beautiful mom's blog, by a woman happily married with many children.  She is a faithful Catholic - strikingly similar to saintly Catholic women and mothers in history.  She home schools and writes about family life.  I was so edified, just paging through her blog posts with photos of her family - her husband and children.  Looking at the innocence and beauty of all the kids touched me deeply.  I never knew such love, such innocence growing up, or as an adult.  I so admired this mom and her family and more deeply, I saw how important it is to support and protect such families in our culture.

This woman wrote a post in response to the SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage.  She was not clutching her pearls, that is for certain.  She expressed her profound sadness instead.  She experienced a sense of fear.  She cried.  She worried about religious liberty.  Nevertheless, she recognized discouragement is not from God and she expressed hope, trust in Divine Providence.  She expressed her love for those happy with the decision - though noting it is not the right path - yet she is willing to agree to disagree to avoid hatred and division in the family.

That's not pearl clutching.

Her sadness struck me - her sorrow reminded me of the manner in which 2 St. Peter 2:7-8 described Lot:
Lot, a righteous man oppressed by the licentious conduct of unprincipled people (for day after day that righteous man living among them was tormented in his righteous soul at the lawless deeds that he saw and heard ... 
That's not pearl clutching.

That is a faithful heart of one whose heart is pure and chaste.  One whose refuge is in the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady.

I wondered if she ever read other Catholic blogs which discuss things that St. Paul says "should not even be mentioned among us"?  Or, as Paul reminds us elsewhere: "No foul language should come out of your mouths ..."  How alien such blog posts must be to this woman and her family.

Extraordinary-ordinary Catholic faithful.  

They remind me we need to support, defend, and protect such holy families.  Families such as this Minnesota mom's need to be held up as a model for the Church.  They can never be dismissed or trivialized or marginalized.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Joe Hall, a saintly young man.

The new pastor at my parish mentioned him at Mass.  I was deeply impressed by Joe's story.  I was immediately taken by the following quote from Joe, expressing his surrender to God's loving providence, which allowed cancer to be part of his life:

“My prayer to God is, ‘Give me Your vision, so that I can look at this appropriately.’
“What’s the one thing that you can’t imagine letting go of? Find a way to develop separation from that thing. Take the desire for separation to prayer and say, ‘Lord, help me not to take identity in any particular thing, and help me not to place hope in anything other than You.’” - Joe Hall, Thoughts

That's incredible.  Pondering that statement, one realizes it is an act of heroic faith.  It seems to me it is applicable to so many situations, states, and conditions in one's life.

Joe Hall, 26, died March 27, 2015.