Saturday, January 09, 2016

Won't anyone help me?

Listen you, you, you ---- I can't figure out what Google+ wants from me - I've been updating my profile all day and I still have trouble getting to my dashboard on Blogger to update the blog.  I'm really getting frustrated with you people.  Possibly postal.

You all come along here and read this stuff but never lift a finger to help.  This is just what happened in Nazi Germany - no one helped - they just came along with smart comments or ignored the smashing and crashing of windows and stole everysinglebitofintellectualproperty and, and, and .... I've just about had it.


Powerball Fever

People are lining up to buy tickets.

The last I heard it was up over $700 million?  Maybe it's $800 now.  News footage showed people lined up, handing over bundles of money for multiple tickets and reporters asking people what they would do with the cash if they won.  Typical answers were luxury homes, luxury goods and helping out friends and family with lavish gifts.  Nothing wrong with that - except it demonstrates our priorities - luxury goods, luxury homes, boats, yachts, jet skis, and financial success and independence - even Donald Trump-like fame and fortune - seems to be the American dream now.  It seems excessively materialistic to me.  Our values corrupted by greed and ambition and ostentatious consumerism.  I sound as if I'm judging.

I'm not though.

When I was little and we were poor - although I didn't know we were poor - my parents would go to the parish church on Bingo nights - hoping to win enough for grocery money.  My mother made novenas to St. Jude, and when she won, she attributed it to him.  After Bingo they'd stop in at the corner bar to celebrate and what was left over apparently went for groceries or rent.  Those were the days before Indian casinos and legalized gambling, not to mention the lottery.  They bought illegal pull tabs at the bars - which is why they stopped into so many.  I don't know how often they won - but they never got rich - and that wasn't really their goal.  At the time they just wanted enough money to pay the bills and get by, and to have a good time and meet tuition expenses at Catholic school.  Or so they claimed.  If all the gambling venues we have today were available then, I'm sure we would have been poorer.

This morning's reading from the First Letter of John seems appropriate:
"Children, be on your guard against idols." 

Song for this post here.

The Scala Regia ...

Pius XII


Paul VI

Now days they walk.

Mysterious Trumpet Sounds Reported Around the World

Starting in the second half of 2012 and accelerating into 2016, reports have flooded in from hundreds of cities around the world regarding the strange and powerful sounds and mysterious noises emanating from unknown sources. Varying from “midnight roars” and loud booms to industrial drones that seem to permeate the walls of the cities, these sounds have been reported by thousands of people and documented for all to hear. Perhaps the creepiest sound has been the oft-reported omnipresent trumpet horns played in eerie musical patterns. - Source

h/t Spirit Daily 

Yes - it sometimes sounds very much how grown-ups sound 
in a Charlie Brown Special: Mwa-Mwa-Mwa,
only much louder.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Helps and models in the Dark Night: Making Prayerful Acts of Faith, Hope and Love.

All three of the theological virtues seem to me to be lacking in the greater part of the Catholic blogosphere - yet none so much as the predominant fault - the lack of charity.  "Spiritual trends" in the last few decades have touted prayer in one's own words - discarding the use of formulaic prayers.  That is a mistake - especially in times of struggle, temptation, and those times of temptation against faith and love - when bitterness sours every intention of the heart.

Little Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face exemplified the need, the wisdom of resorting to so called formulaic prayers.  Traditional prayers such as making frequent Acts of Faith in her experience of the dark night of reparation - which theologians believe she suffered, accompanying those who have no faith: 'seated at the table of sinners' as she so famously phrased it.

Today the Church seems to be immersed in the greatest night of faith ever, leading to great suffering among faithful Catholics, especially in the English speaking countries.  The temptation against faith seems to me to be a purification; the temptation against charity, even more serious, leads to greater sins - perhaps culminating in the complete rejection of the love of God.  It is very grave, very serious.

I'm no theologian to be sure, yet when one sees a lack of charity in others, or experiences it oneself - it is always recognized by a hardening of the heart, or a disregard for our neighbor.  As St. John tells us in his First Letter: "Whoever loves God must also love his brother." - 1 John 4

It seems to me we may need to use, to even daily practice the prayer of acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.  Especially love - since it seems to me, though some of us are very firm and well instructed in faith, we seem to lack charity.  Love of God first - and love of neighbor.

Act of Faith
O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons,Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teachesbecause you have revealed them who are eternal truth and wisdom, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. In this faith I intend to live and die. Amen.

Act of Hope
O Lord God, I hope by your grace for the pardon of all my sinsand after life here to gain eternal happinessbecause you have promised it who are infinitely powerful, faithful, kind, and merciful. In this hope I intend to live and die. Amen.

Act of Love
O Lord God, I love you above all things and I love my neighbor for your sake because you are the highest, infinite and perfectgood, worthy of all my love. In this love I intend to live and die. Amen.

Maybe it's just me.

Anyway - these are now part of my daily morning and evening prayer.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Merry Russian Christmas!

I like.

Polls and reviews and stats and donate apps and fund raising and ...

So anyway.

I was telling some friends about some of the Catholic blogs I read and the stuff people say online.  A couple of friends asked to check out a blog by a priest I mentioned.  They did so over the weekend and yesterday.  After reading some of his recent posts and homepage, their collective response:

"Is this guy really a priest?"

"He talks like that?"

"Is he a priest in good standing?"

"He's really a Catholic priest?"

"It figures he requires readers to register and be approved to comment."

That's all folks.

A 'personal relativism'.

And a very gay 'internal forum'...

Personal conviction and personal relativism - aka internal forum.

One has to be careful.  Joe Sciambra catches up with this outlook.
More dialogue: “Living the Truth in Love” author to speak at pro-gay conference…
One of the authors included in “Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same-Sex Attraction,” published by Ignatius Press, will speak at a pro-gay Christian forum; the topic of her speech: “Changing our Church Communities.” The event is the annual Gay Christian Network Conference: which includes a wide variety of workshops that explore the LGBT and Christian landscapes especially geared for those who struggle to reconcile their Christian faith with their sexual orientation. The stated mission of the Gay Christian Network (GCN) “…is transforming attitudes toward LGBT people across denominations and cultures.” Part of their “Statement of Faith” proclaims that: “We believe that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians are full participants in God’s kingdom…” This decidedly includes those who are also sexually active. In fact, membership in the GCN is split into two factions: Side A (supporting same-sex marriage and relationships) and Side B (promoting celibacy for Christians with same-sex attractions). Although this is a crucial difference, the GCN decided collectively not to dispute the issue as it remains a point of “personal conviction;” the idea of “personal conviction” is an endlessly repeated term used throughout GCN literature and within the writings and correspondences of its various members; it’s a sort of extreme form of personal-relativism. - Sciambra

Joe is right.  Personal conviction can indeed be a sort of extreme personal relativism.  The idea swirls in and through the conversations connected to the Synod on the Family when speaking of an "internal forum".  It is something to be aware of in pastoral care.

Conspiracy theorist ears might perk up when they read the title of the Catholic speaker's address:  “Changing our Church Communities.”  As well as the name taken by the organization: "Gay Christian Network".  What is concerning about that?

Agents for change have been active for decades to change, incrementally, Catholic teaching.  A dated, albeit relevant study and book was published decades earlier, titled: "The Homosexual Network."  Of course it is not the same sort of 'network', however there still appears to be a strong desire to change the Church.  Some call it 'queering the Church'.  Two sides of the same coin.  Just saying.

I like to point out that Catholic teaching and the question of homosexuality - all of that is settled in my mind. I am convinced of the immorality of homosexual acts and I accept Catholic teaching on the subject with great freedom of spirit. My conscience is formed accordingly and I couldn't consent to any other teaching.

If others choose to reject Catholic teaching on sexual ethics and marriage, giving themselves in marriage and choosing to engage in homosexual acts, that is their choice. Civil law protects their right to do so - Catholic teaching condemns it - and that can't change.

They know what I think about it.  It's settled.  Joe Sciambra's message is important for those who think otherwise.  Again - they can reject it - but it's the truth, and the truth can't change.

Russian Christmas!

And so it begins - again ...

Or continues.  Good news, if you neglected to send me gifts - you may still do so until Russian Epiphany.  Cards will be accepted as well - if I do not get Mozarts or liqueur filled chocolates - all hell will break loose and names will be named and eliminated from my friends app.


The last Christmas tree at 
Gatchina Palace in Russia; 1916.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

St. Angela of Foligno and Mercy

"When you come across flatterers, men or women, who tell you: "Brother, your words have converted me to penance," do not pay any attention to them but rather turn to the Creator and thank him for this blessing. There are many preachers of falsehoods whose preaching is full of greed, and out of greed they preach for honors, money, and fame." - St. Angela

Remember that Christ endured much weariness in his journeys, visitations, and disgrace. - Angela of Foligno, Chapter X

Our Lord once reprimanded St. Angela for criticizing a priest - yet we have her quote calling out 'greedy' preachers.  Angela is a penitent saint who was quite hard on herself - and at times, hard on others, a fault many beginners fall into - but divine mercy soften her heart towards others - in and through prayer.  Despite her penance and incessant prayer, she devoted her time to caring for the poor and sick - 'taking care of widows and orphans' rather than being a busybody.

One author suggested her chief sin was just that - being a busybody or 'gossip'.  Perhaps.  If so she'd be an excellent example for someone like me to imitate - spending so much time online as I do.  Did I ever mention I'm embarrassed to admit to anyone that I have a blog?  I also try to immediately change the conversation when someone brings it up.  I'm ashamed of it - which is why I've subtitled it - 'the last days ...'

That said - I always thought Angela's great sin, which she had difficulty confessing, was more to do with sins of the flesh.  She railed so against the world after her conversion, that it seems to me she was guilty of something much more shameful than gossip.  Allowing my imagination to wander, it seemed reasonable to think she may have had an abortion or procured one.  She may have been promiscuous - and may have conceived?  I'm only speculating because I grew up in an Italian neighborhood and knew that stuff happened - and of course there was a woman - a strega - who performed abortions.  The nature of our sins will not be revealed until the Last Judgement, and such speculation may be useful only for those who have sinned in such a way that someone like an Angela is indeed a light of hope, an invitation to seek God's mercy in and through the sacrament of penance.  But I digress.

Angela finally made a good confession and no longer hid whatever sin which occasioned so much shame - and her way of penitence commenced, with many graces along the way.  What is significant about her is her initial 'imperfect contrition' - at the beginning of her conversion.  How many have speculated today, in response to the Holy Year of Mercy, that 'imperfect contrition' is not enough to receive mercy in sacramental confession - or that it is somehow deficient?  Yet the example of the Blessed Angela refutes that notion - in so far as her contrition was perfected in and through the very reception of the sacrament.

How did St. Angela advance - what was her route, her means to obtain such grace?  Prayer.  Incessant prayer:
"No one can be saved without divine light. Divine light causes us to begin and to make progress, and it leads us to the summit of perfection. Therefore if you want to begin and to receive this divine light, pray. If you have begun to make progress, pray. And if you have reached the summit of perfection, and want to be super-illumined so as to remain in that state, pray. If you want faith, pray. If you want hope, pray. If you want charity, pray. If you want poverty, pray. If you want obedience, pray. If you want chastity, pray. If you want humility, pray. If you want meekness, pray. If you want fortitude, pray. If you want any virtue, pray." ( from Voices of the Saints, Bert Ghezzi )
The mystery of light...

Some quotes from Benedict XVI on the Saint Pope Francis later canonized:

"We will now consider only some "steps" of the rich spiritual path of our blessed. The first, in reality, is an introduction: "It was the knowledge of sin," as she specifies, "following which the soul has great fear of being damned; in this step she wept bitterly" ("Il Libro della beata Angela da Foligno," p. 39).

This "fear" of hell responds to the type of faith that Angela had at the time of her "conversion"; a faith still poor in charity, namely, of love of God.

Repentance, fear of hell, and penance opened up to Angela the prospect of the sorrowful "way of the cross" that, from the eighth to the 15th step, would then lead her on the "way of love."

The friar confessor recounts: "The faithful one now said to me: I had this divine revelation: 'After the things that you have written, now write that whoever wants to preserve grace must not take the eyes of his soul off the Cross, whether in joy or in sadness, which I grant him and permit'" (Ibid., p. 143).
However, in this phase Angela still "does not feel love"; she affirms: "The soul feels shame and bitterness and does not yet experience love, but sorrow" (Ibid., p. 39), and is dissatisfied."
After this "initial stage", there were great trials and tribulations for Angela: occasions for further "purifications". Ones conversion experience does not justify the feeling that one is one of the "elect". For Blessed Angela it was only the first step on a long and arduous journey as she set her sights firmly on Christ on the Crucifix. The becoming a tertiary Franciscan was only a stage in the transition. More was required. Total commitment and a life of prayer. Until she was rewarded by an act of grace, undeserved and arising out of Love. The Pope stressed the importance of: penance, humility and tribulations. Especially in an age where there is a danger of living as if God did not exist. Stasis is not and never an option.

The Pope went on to say:

"In the third Instruction the blessed insists on this contemplation and affirms:

"The more perfectly and purely we see, the more perfectly and purely we love. [...] That is why the more we see the God and man Jesus Christ, the more we are transformed in him through love. [...] What I have said of love. [...] I say also of sorrow: The more the soul contemplates the ineffable sorrow of the God and man Jesus Christ, the more it sorrows and is transformed in sorrow" (Ibid., p. 190-191).

To be immersed, to be transformed in love and in the sufferings of Christ crucified, to be identified with him. Angela's conversion, begun with that confession of 1285, came to maturity only when God's forgiveness appeared to her soul as the free gift of love of the Father, source of love:

"There is no one who can give excuses," she affirms, "because each one can love God, ad He does not ask the soul other than that He wills it good, because He loves it and is its love" (ibid., p. 76). - Source
I first read Blessed Angela's writings early on in my conversion - it was a great consolation and as helpful to my spiritual life as that of St. Teresa's Way of Perfection and Autobiography.

In some places St. Angela's feast is celebrated on 4 January, in the United States 7 January is her memorial ...  Either way - she is an Epiphany, Christmas saint - devoted to the Sacred Humanity of Christ, and a good patron for the Holy Year.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

12th Night

I love 12th Night. Sometimes I like to pretend I'm in a Zeffirelli film, or in a Sienese painting - or maybe a player in Shakespeare's Mid-Summers Night. Ah! It is a wonderful night, a mystic night. A night for fools.

Perhaps tonight, a night for mourners as well.

In fact I ran into a weeping faun as I was putting out feed for the rabbit this evening. Yes I did! Astonished, I asked him, "Why on earth do you weep?" Adding, "Aren't you cold with no shirt or coat?"

The faun asked for prayers and reminded me of the story of St. Antony of Egypt, who also met a weeping faun, consoling me, "Therefore be not surprised to find a creature such as I, even though I seem to be a pleasant fantasy of your imagining. You need to be reminded of the things Antony and his disciples taught, thus the Lord permits you this encounter."

"But what are you saying? I fear you because you appear as both man and beast, two creatures by which my heart is distracted, and I fear, since concupiscence is not entirely dead to me..."

The faun smiled, interrupting my protest, "Do not be afraid, I will return to those illuminations from whence I came, and you will see me no more. Instead, lift your heart above the sensuality that burdens it and listen in silence. I only have this to say, and you must tell the others:
Christians are taught, 'Do not judge' and yet they present many intellectual arguments and discourses as to why they must judge. Likewise they are told, "Do not condemn" and yet they justify themselves by explaining why it is expedient for them to point out error to everyone else. They are commanded, "Give without measure, without counting the cost" and yet they defend their miserliness with vain excuses concerning morality and economy. You must tell the others that the Christian life has grown cold, and that they need love and great repentance. They need compassion. Explain to them that caring for creatures, pets and animals - is only a first, feeble step, albeit commendable.  Nevertheless, it must lead to caring for widows and orphans, the weak and the most abandoned, whom God loves so much."

As the faun was speaking, I gazed down at my feet, ashamed of myself that I have only shown charity to animals, yet exacted much from my brother. I looked up saying, "I have sinned, I have defended myself with all of the arguments you cite, what should I do?"

Yet the faun had gone away... although I noticed what appeared to be hoof prints in the snow... leading off to St. Joseph's Wood ...


Judging by human standards: The Jubilee Year of Mercy is a flop then?

"I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, 
with his head buried in his hands, and he was weeping. 
Outside the house, there were many people. 
Some of them were throwing stones, 
others were cursing him and using bad language. 
Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him." - Blessed Jacinta

Some Catholics appear to be delighted that papal audience crowds have shrunk, that St. Peter's square is no longer filled to overflowing, and so on.  (I'd like to go in that case, and not have to wait in line to visit the tomb of St. Peter.)  Evidently Pope Francis is not a celebrity pope and doesn't attract the hordes as his predecessors did.  Nothing wrong with that.

Why would faithful Catholics be delighted if the Holy Year is a flop, as they say?

The Holy Year is only a flop if Catholics do not take advantage of the grace and mercy extended to the Universal Church in this extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.  It is only a flop if, as Christ told St. Faustina:
He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice. (Diary 1146).
It seems to me the Holy Year could only be a flop in the eyes of those who judge according to human standards, according to outward appearances ... and more tragically, those who believe they have no need of mercy.

And they all left him and fled. - Mark 14:50

Zaevion Dobson

I only heard about this today, while listening to President Obama's address.


Living the Truth In Love - a book review by Joseph Sciambra

Isherwood and Bachardy, Hockney 1968

Don't dismiss Joe Sciambra.

I'm not following the gay Catholic stuff as much now days.  It's a movement and I'm not sure how much truth is being lived in love by the participants.  Living the Truth In Love is a book on contemporary homosexuality and Catholic teaching and pastoral care.  Joseph Sciambra takes on the testimonials with in the work, avoiding the theoretical and pastoral essays.  The testimonial work he found somewhat 'confusing and confused', although not all of the essays were bad.  What I like about Joe's review is that he clarifies Fr. Harvey's research and teaching regarding the disordered aspect of homosexual attraction.

He especially concentrates on Joe Prever's essay.  I haven't read any of it but I'm familiar with Prever and know he can come off somewhat ambiguous regarding gay Catholic acceptance and Catholic teaching.  Sciambra is a much better writer than I am and really takes Prever's POV to task.
First of all, the way in which Prever frames the homosexual mind-set is taken directly from the pro-gay playbook, i.e. that homosexuality is a perfectly “normal” and natural variation of the human sexual experience; it is not! The godfather of “gay” liberation Larry Kramer once said: “Being gay is a natural normal beautiful variation on being human. Period. End of subject.” By contrast, in the first few pages of “The Homosexual Person,” Fr. Harvey included this quotation: “…although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.” Therefore, unlike the way Prever reimagines it, homosexual desires are not just benevolently “nonstandard,” but a “strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” In addition, although the inclination itself is not a sin: there is vast difference between inclination and desire; in “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church,” Fr. Harvey explicitly stated: “that the inclination to homosexual acts is not sinful in itself, unless one freely consents to these desires.” To consciously mark them as “good” is a huge form of consent. But, back in “The Homosexual Person,” Fr. Harvey continued: “Whether the orientation [inclination] is recognized or not, it is not sinful in itself. It is however, an objective disorder because it inclines one to perform an evil act.” Therefore, the impetus for the act is the desire. According to “The Catechism of the Catholic Church:” “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’” And, the desire for same-sex “love” within a “gay” context – is, by definition, a disordered inclination “contrary to the eternal law.” In addition, especially with those suffering from same-sex attraction there is always a fine line, or a completely blurred one, between what is desire and what is lust: those suffering from same-sex attraction should pay special attention to Christ when He said: “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:28) - Sciambra

CDF documents assert the exact same teaching.  Very often it seems to me Catholic pastoral care soft pedals the truth here, while gay Catholics seem to be dedicated to researching a way to change Catholic teaching to affirm gay is good or equal to.  Sciambra gets that.
The problem here is that Prever is a devotee of the “Spiritual Friendship” faction; a movement within an insular group of neo-gay Catholics who often spew out strange pronouncements such as this: “I found myself delighting in certain men in a way that was distinctly gay but also chaste…”; this bizarre concept of the pliable goodness in “gay” is immensely appreciated by Eve Tushnet in her equally mixed up essay, she wrote: “I’ve always acknowledged my attractions to women and sought to find the good fruit that they could bear.” While the acknowledgement is good, the searching for “good fruit” is a dead end; despite her intelligence, she surprisingly doesn’t see the cursed and barren fig tree at the middle of lesbianism. Tushnet, also an associate of the “Spiritual Friendship” group, like Prever sees a route to salvation within the “gay” context: in other words, a self-identifying “gay” Catholic should remain chaste, but otherwise pursue a peculiarly intense relationship with someone of the same sex; hence, the desire for another man, or woman, is good.  - Sciambra

I tend to be sympathetic to Jeo Prever because of his obvious struggle and good will in accepting Catholic teaching.  However, I'm much more impressed with what Joe has written - he's definitely a credible witness.  I see nothing delusional or manipulative in his testimony.  I especially love this statement:
Yet, as I finished reading the “testimonial” section, I found myself incredibly grateful that the Lord rescued me from homosexuality in 1999 and not in 2015, because, then, the first book I read on the subject was “The Homosexual Person” by Fr. John Harvey; and it was blessedly not “Living the Truth in Love.” - Sciambra

The Lord 'rescued him from homosexuality'.  That is key.  Our Lord does indeed rescue and deliver souls - the soul only needs to cooperate with grace.  Grace and mercy and truth.  It also takes time.

These discussions and the blog posts and testimonials, as well as the pastoral care conferences, though perhaps necessary and often in need of clarification, as Sciambra's essay accomplishes, can all get to be too much information for the ordinary person.  It's always a mine field and there are many contrary positions - I find it exhausting.  I find the constant debate or the clinging to some sort of false hope, not to mention the incessant moralizing, tiresome - so much church-lady talk, if you will - by church-ladies from both sides of the debate ...

The one thing that can't change or 'develop' is Catholic moral teaching.  That said, the person can change and can develop.  Nobody is actually born gay nor do they emerge fully 'indoctrinated' into gay behavior and attitude.  Sexuality develops.  Therefore the person, invited by Christ to repent and believe, enters upon the way of ongoing conversion.  With the help of grace, through the mercy of God, and the pardon and peace extended through the ordinary means of sanctification - namely the sacraments, the person can be set free.  The inclination needs no longer be the controlling or dominate factor in the person.  You can move beyond it.  For some it may take a life time - others, not.

Song for this post here.  1967 until now.

This just in: 50 Shades of Gay - Gee - wish I had thought of that.  It's not a bad article - but the com box is exhausting.  People think too much.  Just repent - it works better.

Monday, January 04, 2016

More 1967

Ralph Lauren launched Polo in 1967.
He started with men's neck wear - ties.
Dayton's Kenwood Shop sold them.

Twiggy came to Dayton's.


A few years later
Marissa Berenson was on the cover of time 
with the quote:
"I want to be a saint."
I was impressed.

Remember Antonioni's Blow Up?
Veruschka fascinated me.

I encountered this guy on my first NYC trip,
during intermission outside 'Hair' in 1968.
He was the top male model - debuting around 1967.
I never knew his name, but admired his work.
The woman is Pat Cleveland.
If anyone knows his name I'd love to know it.
(photo is 1970.)

Screen shot: Pewsitter Exploiting Ann Barnhardt

Catholic Ann Barnhardt on that pillowy new culture of closeness and encounter 
... more

I'm so sorry for this, but ... Online Catholic Newspaper?

Really?  Is that what you call it.  Headlining Catholic Ann Barnhardt?


In the past I've laughed about Barnhardt and those 'news' sites who have hosted her.  Not any longer, I've stopped - I even took a post down last week.  It's unkind, uncharitable to make fun of someone so obviously disturbed.  I think something is wrong with Barnhardt, and after yesterday's post, which Pewsitter highlighted, I also think she is being exploited by conservative Catholics - pretty much because of her extreme vilification of the Pope.   

I do not want to link to her but her latest post is absolutely outrageous in the contempt and vitriol hurled against the Pope, as well as her vicious attack against faithful Catholics who support the Holy Father.  Her contempt toward the Church and hierarchy is so extreme and harmful, it should not be repeated or disseminated.  

Barnhardt's invective is obviously getting worse, her behavior and lifestyle may even indicate serious mental illness.  If that is the case, priests and Catholic pundits who support her and promote her online contumelious essays, may be guilty of exacerbating her paranoia and delusion, which could lead to Barnhardt harming herself or another.  If these online pundits really care about her, they might consider some sort of intervention to get her the help she needs, as well as to find a more stable environment in which she could live.  

Granted - there have been outspoken 'fools for Christ' but I think it may be naive to assume this is the case with Barnhardt.

At any rate - the publishing of Barnhardt's rants are no longer funny.  I may be wrong of course, but her hostile diatribes seem to me to be decidedly anti-clerical, anti-magisterial, if not anti-Catholic and delusional.

We might be witnessing a blogger coming apart, breaking down, online.  It has happened before.

My apologies for posting this - but please be advised - the Catholic blogosphere is completely unreliable.

Song for this post here.

Sunday, January 03, 2016


Song for this post here.

Downton Abbey, Season Six: What to expect... Episode 1

Spoiler alert:  Dr. Clarkson sends Thomas into a first of its kind treatment ...

After counselling Thomas to accept himself and avoid going after the drastic 'cures' of the day, such as expensive placebo medications and saline injections, or even electroconvulsive therapy - resulting in great suffering and mental anguish, not to mention investing a large sum of income into such measures, Clarkson sends Thomas to NARTH.


The miracle that Moses witnessed
on Sinai in the burning bush
Foretold your virgin childbearing,
O pure Mother.
We the faithful cry to you:
Rejoice, O truly living bush!
Rejoice, O holy mountain!
Rejoice, O sanctified expanse
and most holy Theotokos!” [akatist].

Lord, how I love your law!
It is ever in my mind.

This morning I was thinking of how icons are sometimes embellished with silver and gold, studded with jewels and semi-precious stones.  This passage from the Song of Songs reminded me of why we do that, embellish icons and sacred images ...  It is also in keeping with and not at all unlike the tribute brought by the Magi.

Who is this coming up from the desert,

like columns of smoke

Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,

with all kinds of exotic powders?

See! it is the litter of Solomon ...

Daughters of Jerusalem,
go out

and look upon King Solomon

In the crown with which his mother has crowned him

on the day of his marriage,

on the day of the joy of his heart. - Songs 3

The Song also states: "King Solomon made himself an enclosed litter of wood from Lebanon. He made its columns of silver, its roof of gold, Its seat of purple cloth, its interior lovingly fitted."  Our tabernacles, our sanctuaries are decorated similarly - and every icon, being a kind of little tabernacle and gate of heaven, is likewise lovingly fitted.  

As the temple of Solomon - so is the Torah lovingly fitted today...

Torah case.

Torah crown.

And images of the Theotokos - God Bearing, Mother of God, Ark of the Covenant - are traditionally lovingly fitted:

Sinai-type icon.

Tikhvin Theotokos

Blessed are those called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.  This is in part, the mystery of Epiphany.

It is a marriage feast.

I pray, bring me to your mother's house - and make entirely teachable ...
My lover belongs to me and I to him;
Would that you were a brother to me, 
nursed at my mother’s breasts!
If I met you out of doors, I would kiss you ...
and none would despise me.
I would lead you, bring you to my mother’s house,
where you would teach me...
I am the Mother of fair love, of fear, and of holy hope, 
in me is all grace of the way and of the truth
 - in me is all hope of life and of virtue. 

Kazan Theotokos

I was thinking of doing an image of the Theotokos with the Child Jesus - somewhat similar to the Kazan icon.  Since I'm not Orthodox and can't paint a 'real' icon - I would perhaps paint in the icon style with the addition of the Torah - embraced by the Child Jesus.  I'd also like to add elements of Sinai and the Burning Bush, the Ladder of Jacob, and so on.  Embellished to look as if it were jewel encrusted and overlaid with an oklad of gold...

Lord, how I love your law!
It is ever in my mind.

Epiphany Sunday

It's one of the few 'new movable feasts' that I wish would never had been moved.

That said - it is an amazing feast - a threefold deal - and includes - or rather extends to the Baptism of the Lord.

The Lord is revealed for the very first time ...

Yet - couldn't you get lost in the mystery illustrated above?

O Lord - let us fall into the abyss of thy mystery!