Friday, February 9, 2007

The Lament of George Weigel

His short piece on Nancy Pelosi is excellent. Excerpt:

Then there was the carefully choreographed January 3 Mass at Washington’s Trinity University, where Pelosi had attended college. At the Speaker’s invitation, the celebrant and homilist was Father Robert Drinan, SJ, who would succumb to pneumonia a few weeks later. Father Drinan was the man who, more than anyone else, gave the moral green light for the Democratic Party to tarnish its modern civil rights record by embracing the abortion license; the man who, during his years in Congress, consistently defied the canons of public justice (and the Church’s settled conviction) on the great civil rights issue of the day; the man who helped turn Senator Edward Kennedy from a potential champion of the pro-life cause into the desiccated, Wolsey-like specimen he is today. If Father Drinan’s record provides insight into the Pelosi speakership, then Nancy Pelosi has betrayed the great public lesson of the Baltimore Catholicism in which we both grew up.

This is insightful commentary on the new Speaker and the kind of hopscotch these dissenting Catholic politicians play. But I cite it also a good example of very strong but controlled criticism of a clergyman who did significant damage to the Catholic Church; Weigel deals forcefully with the subject without once overheating. Weigel's tone remains sad rather than mad and that's why this I believe this kind of criticism is constructive. It leads to a deeper insight into these problems and hopefully more informed prayer and action, not simply anger which does not accomplish God's righteousness.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

"Wisdom is justified by her children"

Just expanding on the final comment posted here, clarifying what I meant by citing the Pharisees' objections to Christ's hanging out with the likes of St. Mary M, Zacchaeus, Simon the Leper et al and our objections to the hobnobifications of bishops with the rich and famous in modern-day America. I really don't mean to imply that the two things are equivalent, and I don't claim to be a Bible scholar either. So perhaps I'm taking Matthew 11:16-19 and similar passages slightly out of context. But the reaction of the Pharisees seems to be that of misreading motives and intentions, and we should keep this in mind as we seek to "avoid jumping to conclusions" as the JohnMcG put it wisely in a previous comment to that post.

One of the problems I would think that bishops face is that they really can't, or at least shouldn't, "sound the trumpet" about anything good they do. In medieval times, the bishops wore gold robes over a hair shirt. The gold was for the good of the people, the hair shirt was for his own good. He could thus represent the splendor of the Risen Christ and his Church while all the while being reminded of his inadequacies in his own flesh. Many of the people at the time probably forgot about the hair shirt or never even knew about it. You couldn't see it; likewise we don't see certain hidden mortifications, penance, sufferings or good works which may in fact be performed by the self-same leaders we criticize. Pierre Cauchon built a cathedral in repentance for what he did to the Maid of Orleans and we trust St. Joan prayed he be spared from the eternal fire even though he refused to spare her from the temporal flames.

Nowadays news coverage is by nature mostly negative. So I think that we should provide the balance. I'm not suggesting that we deny that some ghastly things were committed or good works left undone by bishops both in recent times and all throughout church history. But if we want to call attention to the eating and drinking and say "behold, a glutton and a wino" we should acknowledge that epithet has been used to describe Someone Else.

If anyone has a hard time seeing the likeness between the Blessed Lord and the American Bishops, they've got plenty of company and myself included. And that's leaving alone the very idea of hair shirt-wearing. If you're a Catholic, however, you're supposed to see with the "eyes of faith" the bishop standing in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. And in the Final Judgement the knowledge of the exact sins of the bishops will not be a criterion by which we shall be judged. I'm more afraid that Almighty God might say to me, "You knew about hair shirts -- where was yours?"

One last note: The critique is often made that bishops should spend more times with their flock and less times with "other celebrities". Recently my family and I were privileged to meet our bishop, Richard Lennon, and it was not at a charity extravaganza, but in our parish school gym on the feast day of our church's patron. He held my one-year old and laughed as everyone asked him if he was running for office. He had to rush out to do confirmations at another parish. Somehow I don't think that "story" made it into any local papers. There was no camera crew at any rate.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Sometimes I come up with something so witty that I snicker about it all day long. When I acidentally discovered that the acronym for So-Called Catholic Blogosphere was SCCB, I was literally stunned at my own brilliance. Get it? Get it?

Not to be confused with the USCCB.

But Nothing Which Backs Up from the Drain

No doubt those of you on the growing list of readers have noticed that this blog is swiftly becoming a "kitchen sink blog" where I provide opinion, fodder, tripe, and what-have-you absolutely free of charge. There's also some good stuff. Like a good flea market, you should feel free take what you want and leave the rest.

(Hmmmmm.... is this just a way of disguising what I'm obsessed about? Interesting idea.... People who see conspiracies everywhere will certainly ask the question!)

One thing you don't have to worry about here are posts like "OMG, I can't believe that Paris said [blah, blah] and that guy kissed [blah, blah, blah] desperate houseflies [blah, blah]! Certainly the terrorists would hate us now if they didn't already!!" You might get everything including the kitchen sink from my mind, but nothing which backs up from the drain, even under the pretense that some kind of perversity meter is so necessary. No, the Disposall is run on a regular basis on that stuff.

(Which reminds me...)

Gimme Five!

Sadly another bash has occurred. Catholic vs. Catholic should be entitled "Catholic Bishop Versus Angry Erstwhile Catholic-but-church-hopping Layperson". At least for the examples he lists. I don't really agree with the Bishop's characterization of a crackdown on illegal immigration, but the man Rod quotes obviously thinks that depriving the church of his charming presence and depriving himself of the Holy Eucharist is a good way to "show everybody". Picking him as an example is further evidence of his tone-deafness. It would be like saying "Wow! Conservative vs. Conservative! Rush Limbaugh and Dr. James Dobson disagree on marriage counseling!"

Like I said in an earlier combox, you can disagree with your bishop on a policy matter without leaving the church over it. (Why is this so hard....)

I know that Rod famously walked out of a Mass because he was angry and then kind of bragged about it. I'm going to deal with this style of reaction in a deeper way in a post later this week, especially with regards to this insightful book which just came out.

So say 5 Hail Marys tonight and at this rate, I'd plan on writing a check for around $25 on the 28th.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Never Attack a Priest

The Pieta Prayerbook contains this admonition:

Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel

"One should NEVER attack a priest, even when he's in error, rather one should pray and do penance that I'll grant him My grace again. He alone fully represents Me, even when he doesn't live after My example!" (page 29, Mutter Vogel's Worldwide Love, St. Grignion Publishing House, Altoting, South Germany (29. 6. 1929)

When a Priest falls we should extend him a helping hand THROUGH PRAYER AND NOT THROUGH ATTACKS! I myself will be his judge, NO ONE BUT I!" "Whoever voices judgment over a priest has voiced it over me; child, never let a Priest be attacked, take up his defense." (Feast of Christ the King 1937) "Child, Never judge your confessor, rather pray much for him and offer every Thursday, through the hands of My blessed Mother, Holy Communion (for Him) (18.6. 1939) "Never again accept an out-of-the-way word about a Priest, and speak no unkind word (about them) EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE! Every Priest is My Vicar and My heart will be sickened and insulted because of it! If you hear a judgment (against a Priest) pray a Hail Mary." (28. 6. 1939)

"If you see a Priest who celebrates the Holy Mass unworthily then say nothing about him, rather tell it to Me alone! I stand beside Him on the altar!" "Oh pray much for my priests, that they'll love purity above all, that they'll celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with pure hands and heart. Certainly the Holy Sacrifice is one and the same even when it's celebrated by an unworthy priest, but the graces called down upon the people is not the same!" (28.2. 1938)

Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for them.

Most of the folks carrying around the Pieta Prayerbook are pretty serious Catholics. Some are trads, but some are the good salt of the earth folks that work behind the scenes to make everything happen at a parish from fish fries to singing in the choir.

My introduction to it came through Vince. He credited his survival of a heart attack to the prayer book being in his breast pocket. He told me "Don't listen to these people who say the Mass has to be in Latin. The first Mass was celebrated by Our Lord and he did the whole thing in Yiddish." Close enough; point made.

Thanks for reading my blog. For current commentary and what-not, visit the Est Quod Est homepage

St. Agatha

I know you already know today is the feast day of St. Agatha. Read about her here. The bad guys really did some nasty stuff to her. But I'm more concerned with her connection to Malta.

Legend says that carrying her veil, taken from her tomb in Catania, in procession has averted eruptions of Mount Etna. Her intercession is reported to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion in 1551.

Maybe she also saved the Knights of Malta from Terry McAuliffe. Along with her other patronage, she should be the patron of the Catholic blogosphere to protect against badly-sourced blogging.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The "Bad Dream Prayer" Works

If your kids are having scary dreams—or if you are suffering from nightmares yourself—this prayer really works. It's from Compline, and you can look up the Latin which is "Te Lucis Ante Terminum" The authorship is credited to Saint Ambrose, but there are disputes regarding whether or not he penned the chant.

Our two oldest kids were having at least one bad dream a night between them for a couple weeks. We started saying this prayer before bedtime and the bad dreams were drastically reduced—only one in about 8 days! The poetic English translation is very good and my 4-year-old can almost say it by memory. A Catholic Priest told my friend about this prayer a long time ago.

To Thee, before the close of day
Creator of the world, we pray
That with Thy wonted favor, Thou
Wouldst be our Guard and Keeper now.

From all ill dreams defend our eyes,
From nightly fears and fantasies:
Tread under foot our ghostly foe,
That no pollution we may know.

O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ Thine only Son,
Who, with the Holy Ghost and Thee,
Shall live and reign eternally.

Thanks for reading my blog. For current commentary and what-not, visit the Est Quod Est homepage

Another Knee Jerk

A friend of the blog (or a friend of the blogger at any rate) sent me an email after reading my first reply to Andy:

There was a post by Rod within the last two months. The argument was something like this: 

  • Politicians are doing bad things
  • Wal-mart sells tampons.
  • Dogs bite other dogs.
  • This is very similar to the way the Catholic Bishops betrayed everyone by moving the perverts from parish to parish.

If you can remember it, that post is a good example of him straining at gnats. I really can't remember. All I remember is the subject was X and then, out of the blue, here come the Catholic Bishops!

It only took us ten minutes or so to find out what he was talking about. Turns out there weren't any dogs or Wal-mart products involved, rather it was his review of Mel Gibson's movie Apocalypto. Excerpt:

[O]ne of the most poignant moments of the film comes when the evil Maya who has led the slave-gathering expedition tells his adult son, who has been with him on the trip, that today, he has proven himself a man -- and then he (the father) passes the mantle of manhood on to his son in the form of a hunting knife. It really is a tender moment between father and son, because in risking their lives to gather slaves, they have enacted a ritual that their civilization teaches them is a good and necessary thing to become fully a part of society. And yet, they have done great evil....

And me being me, I couldn't help thinking of how many Catholic bishops in all sincerity thought tolerating and covering up for the cruelty of clerical child abuse was actually a noble and necessary thing, to keep the "civilization" of the Church running -- and how that corruption has in fact led to a weakening of that civilization. Given Gibson's deep faith as well as his disdain for institutional Catholicism, I find it hard to believe that this thought didn't cross his mind.

Mel was probably thinking about Catholic bishops when he directed the scenes showing the corruption of some members of the Jewish Sanhedrin in the Passion, too. And ever notice how the villains in those Lethal Weapon movies are all men -- just like Catholic bishops! Gary Busey did play a clergyman in a Hitchhiker episode 2 years prior to his evil "Mr. Joshua" role in LW1. The plot thickens.

The word Catholic is used eight times in the movie review, in case you just ate dinner and don't feel like reading the entire thing to get an exact count. If you do read this and don't detect an incredible jerking knee, please leave a comment here providing a proper example of the euphemism knee-jerk.

Thanks for reading my blog. For current commentary and what-not, visit the Est Quod Est homepage