Monday, October 30, 2017

Protestants and Halloween


I've noticed that the families which dress their children as Saints for All Hallowed's Eve (and they do well) are exclusively Catholic families. No Protestants! How is it that you can justify celebrating witches and goblins and every type of fiction over the truth of Christ and His Holy Ones! Makes me wonder about the explicit and historical anti-Catholic nature of this secular celebration which has all of the marks of Free-Masonry, and, indeed, witchcraft. The name "Halloween" itself betrays it!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Quas Primas, The Feast of Christ the King, Pope Pius XI's Answer to "Reformation Sunday"


When Pope Pius XI established the Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with his 1925 encyclical Quas primas, he did not choose the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year (as later done by Paul VI). He chose "Reformation Sunday" which Protestants celebrate on the last Sunday of October, to propose Christ as the Anti-Luther.

The Lord is not the King of this or that German prince who changes doctrines according to the whim of the moment. He's the King of the universe, unchanging and unchangeable. Pius XI proposed the Feast of Christ the King as a counter-celebration to the Protestant celebration of "Reformation Sunday" on this day.

Source: Scuola Ecclesia Mater

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Metaphysics is the Core of History

Sagrada Familia, Gaudí

[S]alvation history and eschatology, the theology of the great acts of God in history and the theology of existence, can coincide if they are willing to reflect deeply on themselves and to open themselves to this reflection. God's action is, precisely in the objectivity of its "in-itself-ness", not a hopeless objectivity, but the true formula of human existence, which has its "in-itself-ness" outside of itself and can find its true center only in ex-sistere, in going-out-from itself. It is also no empty past but that "perfect tense" that is therefore man's true "present tense" because it is always antecedent to it, always at the same time its promise and its future. Thus it implies, of necessity, that "is" that faith soon formulated explicitly: Jesus is Christ, God is man. Hence man's future means being one with God and so being one with mankind, which will be a single, final man in the manifold unity that is created by the exodus of love. God "is" man--it is in this formula that the whole greatness of the Easter reality has first been fully apprehended and has become, from a passing point in history, its axis, which bears us all.

Footnote: In view of the fundamental meaning of this "is", I would stress more strongly today* than I have in these pages the irreplaceability and preeminence of the ontological aspect and, therefore, of metaphysics as the basis of any history. Precisely as a confession of Jesus Christ, Christian faith--and in this it is completely loyal to the faith of Abraham--is faith in a living God. The fact that the first article of faith forms the basis of all Christian belief includes, theologically, the basic character of the ontological statements and the indispensability of the metaphysical, that is, of the Creator God who is before all becoming.

Cf. on this subject Introduction to Christianity (New York: 1970), 77-104; The God Jesus Christ (Chicago: 1979), 18-30; Principles of Catholic Theology, Part One, Chapter One, Section 2b and Part Three, Chapter One, Section A.

Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1987, 189-190 and n172.
*This footnote is from the 1982 publication of the Principles volume, the essay written in 1967 (Cf., Principles, 396).

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cardinal Müller: Luther’s reform was ‘against the Holy Spirit’


ROME, October 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Luther’s so-called reform was not an “event of the Holy Spirit,” and we should not “change history” or “falsify what happened 500 years ago and the disastrous effect it had” for the sake of “good relations,” Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has said.

In an article published in the Italian Catholic Journal, La Nuova Bussola, the German cardinal said of Luther’s movement: “From the point of view of the doctrine of the Church it wasn’t a reform at all but rather a revolution, that is, a total change of the foundations of the Catholic Faith.”

Cardinal Müller’s statements come five days after Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian Bishops Conference, praised Luther at a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Lateran University, saying: “The Reformation initiated by Martin Luther 500 years ago was an event of the Holy Spirit.”

The conference, held at the Lateran on October 18-19, was entitled: “Passion for God. Spirituality and theology of the Reform 500 years after its dawn.”

Here below LifeSite offers its readers a full English translation of Cardinal Müller’s article, with the kind permission of La Nuova Bussola.


LUTHER? NOT A REFORM BUT A REVOLUTION

by Gerhard L. Müller

There is great confusion today when we talk about Luther, and it needs to be said clearly that from the point of view of dogmatic theology, from the point of view of the doctrine of the Church, it wasn’t a reform at all but rather a revolution, that is, a total change of the foundations of the Catholic Faith.

It is not realistic to argue that [Luther’s] intention was only to fight against abuses of indulgences or the sins of the Renaissance Church. Abuses and evil actions have always existed in the Church, not only during the Renaissance, and they still exist today. We are the holy Church because of the God’s grace and the Sacraments, but all the men of the Church are sinners, they all need forgiveness, contrition, and repentance.

This distinction is very important. And in the book written by Luther in 1520, “De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiae,” it is absolutely clear that Luther has left behind all of the principles of the Catholic Faith, Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, the magisterium of the Pope and the Councils, and of the episcopate. In this sense, he upended the concept of the homogeneous development of Christian doctrine as explained in the Middle Ages, even denying that a sacrament is an efficacious sign of the grace contained therein. He replaced this objective efficacy of the sacraments with a subjective faith. Here, Luther abolished five sacraments, and he also denied the Eucharist: the sacrificial character of the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the real conversion of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, he called the sacrament of episcopal ordination, the sacrament of Orders, an invention of the Pope — whom he called the Antichrist — and not part of the Church of Jesus Christ. Instead, we say that the sacramental hierarchy, in communion with the successor of Peter, is an essential element of the Catholic Church, and not only a principle of a human organization.

That is why we cannot accept Luther’s reform being called a reform of the Church in a Catholic sense. Catholic reform is a renewal of faith lived in grace, in the renewal of customs, of ethics, a spiritual and moral renewal of Christians; not a new foundation, not a new Church.

It is therefore unacceptable to assert that Luther’s reform “was an event of the Holy Spirit.” On the contrary, it was against the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit helps the Church to maintain her continuity through the Church’s magisterium, above all in the service of the Petrine ministry: on Peter has Jesus founded His Church (Mt 16:18), which is “the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The Holy Spirit does not contradict Himself.

We hear so many voices speaking too enthusiastically about Luther, not knowing exactly his theology, his polemics and the disastrous effect of this movement which destroyed the unity of millions of Christians with the Catholic Church. We cannot evaluate positively his good will, the lucid explanation of the shared mysteries of faith but not his statements against the Catholic Faith, especially with regard to the sacraments and hierarchical-apostolic structure of the Church.

Nor is it correct to assert that Luther initially had good intentions, meaning by this that it was the rigid attitude of the Church that pushed him down the wrong road. This is not true: Luther was intent on fighting against the selling of indulgences, but the goal was not indulgences as such, but as an element of the Sacrament of Penance.

Nor is it true that the Church refused to dialogue: Luther first had a dispute with John Eck; then the Pope sent Cardinal Gaetano as a liaison to talk to him. We can discuss the methods, but when it comes to the substance of the doctrine, it must be stated that the authority of the Church did not make mistakes. Otherwise, one must argue that, for a thousand years, the Church has taught errors regarding the faith, when we know — and this is an essential element of doctrine — that the Church can not err in the transmission of salvation in the sacraments.

One should not confuse personal mistakes and the sins of people in the Church with errors in doctrine and the sacraments. Those who do this believe that the Church is only an organization comprised of men and deny the principle that Jesus himself founded His Church and protects her in the transmission of the faith and grace in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit. His Church is not a merely human organization: it is the body of Christ, where the infallibility of the Council and the Pope exists in precisely described ways. All of the councils speak of the infallibility of the Magisterium, in setting forth the Catholic faith. Amid today’s confusion, in many people this reality has been overturned: they believe the Pope is infallible when he speaks privately, but then when the Popes throughout history have set forth the Catholic faith, they say it is fallible.

Of course, 500 years have passed. It’s no longer the time for polemics but for seeking reconciliation: but not at the expense of truth. One should not create confusion. While on the one hand, we must be able to grasp the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit in these other non-Catholic Christians who have good will, and who have not personally committed this sin of separation from the Church, on the other we cannot change history, and what happened 500 years ago. It’s one thing to want to have good relations with non-Catholic Christians today, in order to bring us closer to a full communion with the Catholic hierarchy and with the acceptance of the Apostolic Tradition according to Catholic doctrine. It’s quite another thing to misunderstand or falsify what happened 500 years ago and the disastrous effect it had. An effect contrary to the will of God: “… that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me” (Jn 17:21).

Translation by Diane Montagna

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Feminist Blind Spot


Abortion
Adultery
Contraception
Divorce
Fornication
Pornography

These acts are all anti-woman, because marriage, family, maternity and virginity are the greatest strength and defense of women. Feminists should champion an end to these supreme attacks on true feminity.

"Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" are the greatest feminist laws, opposed to every manner of sexual deviancy and lust, which directly destroys women and children (especially by abortion). If those laws are rejected, women have no defense. And every Jew and Christian in the world ex-professo agrees with all of the above. The greatest irony of our age is that we trash our traditions and ourselves and at the same time demand respect. No wonder the Muslim world despises us. We are in fact quite despicable. Our own hypocrisy condemns us.


Matthew 23:23-39

"...Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, and have left the weightier things of the law; judgment, and mercy, and faith. These things you ought to have done, and not to leave those undone.

"Blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.

"Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you make clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.

"Thou blind Pharisee, first make clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, that the outside may become clean.

"Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all filthiness.

"So you also outwardly indeed appear to men just; but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

"Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; that build the sepulchres of the prophets, and adorn the monuments of the just,

 "And say: If we had been in the days of our Fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

"Wherefore you are witnesses against yourselves, that you are the sons of them that killed the prophets.

"Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

"You serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell?

"Therefore behold I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you will put to death and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city:

"That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar.

"Amen I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not?

"Behold, your house shall be left to you, desolate.

"For I say to you, you shall not see me henceforth till you say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

"Traditional Feminist" Actress Speaks Out: "I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with being employed in an industry that profits on the objectification of women."



I entered the Hollywood machine in 1986 as a prominent-nosed, awkward, geeky, Jewish 11-year-old — basically a scrawnier version of the person I am today. Back then we didn’t have the internet or social media or reality TV, but I didn’t need any of that to understand that I didn’t look or act like other girls in my industry, and that I was immersing myself in a business that rewarded physical beauty and sex appeal above all else.

Nothing has been a harsher reminder that I work in an industry that profits on the exploitation of women — and not just on screen — than the accusations of Harvey Weinstein as a serial sexual assaulter, particularly of aspiring young actresses. Though I am shocked and disgusted by the scope of his alleged predation, the fact that he may have abused his position of power does not surprise me in the least.

I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with being employed in an industry that profits on the objectification of women. Though pressure to “be like the pretty girls” started long before I entered Hollywood, I quickly learned even as a preteen actress that young girls with doe eyes and pouty lips who spoke in a high register were favored for roles by the powerful men who made those decisions.

I grew up constantly being teased about my appearance, even from members of my family; my nose and chin were the main objects of discussion. As a teenager I started obsessing over the possibility of a nose job so that I would look more like Danica McKellar, with a chin job to balance things out. Soon I wondered if I should get breast implants to look more like Christina Applegate, who got so much attention for her curves. I consistently felt like a troll compared to many of my contemporaries. A “TV Guide” critic described me, in a review of the pilot episode of “Blossom,” as having a “shield-shaped” face of “mismatched features.” I never recovered from seeing myself that way.

I always made conservative choices as a young actress, largely informed by my first-generation American parents who were highly skeptical of this industry in general — “This business will use you up and throw you away like a snotty tissue!”— and of its men in particular: “They only want one thing.” My mom didn’t let me wear makeup or get manicures. She encouraged me to be myself in audition rooms, and I followed my mother’s strong example to not put up with anyone calling me “baby” or demanding hugs on set. I was always aware that I was out of step with the expected norm for girls and women in Hollywood.

I eventually left the business when I was 19 to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles. I craved being around people who valued me more for what was inside my brain than what was inside my bra. After 12 years away from Hollywood, I returned to acting, largely because I had no health insurance and missed performing and making people laugh.

As a “nontraditional”-looking woman, I came back to an industry that had me auditioning for the “frumpy friend” or the “zaftig secretary,” though I eventually landed a role that has earned me four Emmy nominations. Is it a surprise that I play an androgynous, awkward, late bloomer?

I am grateful to bring Amy Farrah Fowler to life on the No. 1 sitcom in America. I am honored to depict a feminist who speaks her mind, who loves science and her friends and who sometimes wishes she were the hot girl.

I can relate. I’ve wished that, too.

And yet I have also experienced the upside of not being a “perfect ten.” As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms. Those of us in Hollywood who don’t represent an impossible standard of beauty have the “luxury” of being overlooked and, in many cases, ignored by men in power unless we can make them money.

I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.

I am entirely aware that these types of choices might feel oppressive to many young feminists. Women should be able to wear whatever they want. They should be able to flirt however they want with whomever they want. Why are we the ones who have to police our behavior?

In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn’t perfect. Nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in.

I believe that we can change our culture, but it won’t be something that happens overnight. We live in a society that has treated women as disposable playmates for far longer than Mr. Weinstein has been meeting ingénues in luxury hotel rooms.

One major bright spot: We are seeing more women taking on prominent roles behind the camera. Women like Jenji Kohan and Jill Soloway are showing the kinds of female characters on their shows that we all know in real life but never got to see on TV. And more women and men are waking up to the fact that it is on us all to sound the alarm on unacceptable behavior.

In the meantime, I plan to continue to work hard to encourage young women to cultivate the parts of themselves that may not garner them money and fame. If you are beautiful and sexy, terrific. But having others celebrate your physical beauty is not the way to lead a meaningful life.

And if — like me — you’re not a perfect 10, know that there are people out there who will find you stunning, irresistible and worthy of attention, respect and love. The best part is you don’t have to go to a hotel room or a casting couch to find them.

Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) stars in the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.” She is the author of “Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular.”

Watch a Facebook Live with Mayim Bialik on being a feminist in the Hollywood of Harvey Weinstein.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mr. Trump on David Letterman, before Presidency






Life After Fire/Retire-ment: David Letterman and His Handsome Beard


"I am a bit of a different person [after being fired/retired]; which is good. I mean, thank God! Because the great struggle in life is to be better each and every day. And if you take a look around the horizon of humanity, it's a... My God! is there anything we can do big or small to make the life of just one person a little bit better? And that's no small accomplishment!"

But, the problem, the fundamental problem for "the horizon of humanity" is how do you define "good". You need to define good to know what is better. An humanity which does not get its bearings on the truth to determine what is good and what is evil cannot begin to consider what is better or worse, good or bad or indifferent. That is humanity's present problem: the abolition of truth! Destroy the truth and you destroy man.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Witness to Truth

And it was written in Hebrew, in Greek and in Latin. John 19:20

That is the summary of the Person and Life of Jesus Christ, according to His own testimony.

It is in the dialogue during his trial with Pontius Pilate. He declares that the reason his followers did not fight for Him not to be delivered to the Jews is that His kingdom is not of this world, thereby implying that He is a king. Pilate therefore asks whether He is a king, and He answers that Pilate says He is a king: "Thou sayest it; I am a king. This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate said to him, 'What is truth?'" John 18:36-38

Christ's purpose on the earth is to answer the question regarding truth. He came to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears His voice.

It is interesting to note in this regard how Pilate hears the voice of Christ, the truth, in composing the sentence for the cross: "Jesus the Nazarene, the Jews' King" (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudæorum). A king, yes, and yet not just a king, but the King. The King of the one true God. The King from heaven. God Himself in the flesh. The Truth. "Quod scripsi scripsi!" John 19:22

That continues to be Christ's purpose on the earth, to witness to the truth. He does it supremely through the sacramental ministry of the Church: the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Laudetur Jesus Christus!

Cf. Deus caritas est, Benedict XVI, 2005.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Our Debt to Saint Luke

Salus Populi Romani
Attributed to Saint Luke

The "Hail Mary" (in its essence)
Magnificat
Benedictus
Nunc dimittis

Just to name a few giants among the texts which he uniquely recorded and/or composed for posterity, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

To him also we owe the accounts of the Annunciations of John the Baptist and of Christ, The Visitation, the Presentation of the Child in the Temple.

Saint Luke, pray for us.

χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη Μαρία


Monday, October 16, 2017

Weinstein, Planned Parenthood Donor, Tip of the Iceberg of Hollywood Sexual Abuse


Please! Is anyone at all surprised at Hollywood sexual predators? an industry which itself is built on lust and nudity.

One thing that is grossly under-reported in this is the homosexual abuse and pedophilia.

As was done with the Church, so it should be with Hollywood, away with the statutes of limitations on sexual crimes. That would surely be an end to the film industry of America.

N.B. President Bill Clinton was the icon of corporate sexual abuse.  E.g The Lewinsky Scandal. After that, in 1996 the nation elected the perverse president to a second term!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Spanish Dance

In Honor of La Virgen del Pilar, Patroness of Spain, October 12th.


The Apparition, La Salve.


Then there is this.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SEX-CHANGE BILL “CONTRADICTS GOOD MORALS AND COMMON SENSE AND DESTROYS MAN”—GREEK HOLY SYNOD


Athens, October 6, 2017

The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church met yesterday under the presidency of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, addressing, among other things, the sex-change bill that was recently adopted by the Greek parliament upon first reading, reports Romfea.

The bishops are closely monitoring the intense debate surrounding the bill, which is causing an upheaval in society and in the Church. To this end, it submitted its views in lieu of an open consultation to a representative of the relevant parliamentary committee.

As previously reported, in accordance with the new “On the Free Change of Sex” draft law, it is enough to simply provide a written declaration in order to receive a legal change of gender.

As an expression of the Church’s love for the people, and in view of the forthcoming debate in the House, the Synod expressed its basic positions on the issue:

1. Sex is a sacred gift to man and serves as the basis of psychosomatic complementarity in the mystery of life and love. In this sense, it is not eligible to be changed, but is a Divine gift to man to be used in his sanctification.

2. The Synod considers that the case-law of Greek courts covers, where necessary, existing problems, given that gender is neither freely chosen nor altered at will, but is determined on the basis of anatomical, physiological and biological characteristics which define the identity of a man as established by medical reports to the court. The law can't be content with just the scientifically unsubstantiated statement of the citizen, which may later be changed.

3. The proposed bill arouses emotions in society, attacks the sacred institution of the family, contradicts good morals and common sense and destroys man. Instead of diminishing confusion and mental disorders, it will increase them and give rise to a dangerous social phenomenon, especially when it creates an explosive situation in schools as well.

4. The Synod does not see behind all these efforts an interest in the afflicted and wronged fellow man, but the existence of powerful groups, resulting in the dissolution of social cohesion and the spiritual death of man.

5. The Synod makes a final appeal to the political world as a whole to lift its responsibility and mission beyond political ideals, prejudices and the invocation of uncontrolled rights, to withdraw the bill, to show similar interest in solving the most serious problems which plague our society, our nation and the people, and instead of strengthening tension, division and absurdity, to contribute to the spiritual uplifting of our citizens.

The Church surrounds all people with love and understanding indiscriminately, but always desiring their salvation must demonstrate the failure of critical decisions.

The Sacred Community of Mt. Athos has also raised its voice on the matter, in a letter to the Ministers of Justice and Education and Religious Affairs Stavros Kontonis and Konstantinos Gavroglou, as well as the members of the Greek Parliament.

The group of representatives of each of the 20 ruling monasteries on the Holy Mountain state they also feel the anxiety and concern of the Orthodox faith of the Fatherland over the developments surrounding the sex-change bill.

“With reference to the bill that is to be voted on, we wonder what is left for our future,” the Athonites’ letter reads.

The primate of the Greek Orthodox Church Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens has also spoken out against the bill, saying, “All that is game playing. The Church has its own views. Our homeland has its own traditions, it has the family, everything else is just contrivances so that we waste our time.”

For his turn, Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia indignantly stated in an open letter to deputies of the Greek parliament, “You are promoting a bill which denies the Triune God and Creator and casts blasphemy upon Him. This new law is unnatural, it encroaches upon the psychosomatic identity of the person, fosters depravity, and aims to thwart a person on his path to sanctification and deification.

“The bones of our saints and heroes are trembling! The great liberator of Greece the equal-to-the-apostles Kosmas of Aetolia and our other saints are weeping.”

“Today they tell us that God did not create man and woman, driving the idea from the minds of our children. Every man can easily become a woman, and every woman a man. Do you know why they are doing this?” His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Phthiotis rhetorically asked. “They want to ensure, at any cost, that homosexuals will be able to adopt children,” he answered.

The majority of Greek parliamentary parties have spoken out in favor of the scandalous bill. Only members of the Communist party and the “Golden Dawn” movement have wholly voted against the bill.

Bishop Barron at Facebook: "How to Have a Religious Argument"


Faith is not irrationality.

"Faith is the decision to trust in the revelation of God's own heart."

and

"Faith is the reasoning of a religious mind." --Newman

"There is plenty of space where we can do rational exploration of God."

In this talk Barron is answering "the YouTube heresies" he addresses in his pioneering talk here.
1. That faith is accepting foolishness.
2. Scientism. That all knowledge is comprised of the scientific form of knowledge. Scientism is self refuting. That claim itself is not a scientific claim but philosophical. This gives way to "The Yeddie theory of God:" That God is an item in the universe.
3. We must be intolerant of mere toleration. "The great compromise." --Stanley Hauerwas
The Christian religion is no mere hobby! but is based on truth claims. And truth claims have a universal intent. If you privatize religious claims you disrespect your intellocator.
4. Avoid "voluntarism:" the trumping of intellect by will. e.g. Casey vs. Planned Parenthood "It belongs to the very nature of my liberty to determine the meaning of my own life, of existence, and of the universe." This destroys argument because it devolves into a mere clash of wills: the rule of violence! Voluntarism breeds violence. That was the theme of the Benedict XVI Regensburg Address.
5. Seek with great patience to understand your opponent's position. Try to get to the bottom of what is being said, because "Religion is ultimate concern." --Tillich. e.g. "Unconditional Positive Regard," mirroring back can help. Find the kernal of truth in the opinion.

The quest is important, but the answer is the point, barring nothing that is true. cf. Thomas Aquinas Summa.

"The open mind is like the open mouth, it is meant to bite down on something nourishing."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Columbus Day! Christopher, the "Christ Bearer!" The Man Who Bore Christ to Our Shores!


May God bless the men who brought Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and the Word of Salvation, with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and true devotion to Santa María de la Immaculada Concepción to our hemisphere and to our people! May their reward be great in heaven and may we, in gratitude for this supernal gift, worthily follow Jesus Christ in faith and holiness according to the Gospel and the Cross which they bequeathed us.

¡Bendito sea Dios por los Reyes, Fernando e Isabel, Católicos!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Fundamental Error Which Haunts the USA: Starvation of Souls, Destruction of the Moral Conscience


In light of the October 1st Las Vegas massacre, I came across a text in Ratzinger which mentions that the greatest catastrophe of our materialist social system is "the starvation of souls and the destruction of the moral conscience."

Ratzinger warns that the geatest danger to the West is to continue the basic error of communism. And the basic error of communism was not economic but human. Communism's error is a lie about the human person: that man does not have an immortal soul, i.e. that man is just material.

"Commentators have...ignored all too readily the role in [the collapse of the communist systems] played by the communists' contempt for human rights and their subjugation of morals to the demands of the system and the promises of the future. The greatest catastrophe encountered by such systems was not economic. It was the starvation of souls and the destruction of the moral conscience.

"The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the communist economy has been recognized--so much so that former communists have unhesitatingly become economic liberals--the moral and religious question that it used to address has been almost totally repressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man's original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem today. Left untreated, it could lead to the self-destruction of the European conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger--above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler."*
Without Roots, Joseph Raztinger, New York: Basic Books, 2006, 73-74."

*"The obligatory reference here is to the following words of Erwin Chargaff: 'Where everyone is free to play the lion's part--in the free market, for example--what is attained is the society of Marsyas, a society of bleeding cadavers.' Ein zweites Leben. Autobiographische und andere Texte. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1955, 168."
Ibid., 155, n 13.

How many "shades or grey" are there? None!, when it comes to a decision between right and wrong, truth and error.

In a nation which now glamorizes sadomasochism and every other perversion, and we deliberately slaughter our progeny, it should not surprise any of us when the lion we create of ourselves comes back to devour us. If there is no right and wrong then the passions reign supreme. And if the passions are supreme then the law of the jungle (viz. lawlessness) is the only law.

Morality concerns the truth regarding right and wrong. Evil exists. Man is capable of evil because he has a soul which makes him free to decide what he will do, whether good or evil. That is a choice which no man can escape, no matter how many times you are told that you are simply a product your circumstances. Everything you do as a person you decide freely to do, and that choice includes a moral weight, with all of the consequences thereof upon you, upon others and upon the world, and upon eternity--good or evil.

The USA Policy in the Middle East: "Push the Christians Out"


Having seen yesterday and the past few month repeated reports on the decimating of the Christian populations of Iraq and Syria and the zero help for those persecuted and destroyed communities (genocide) by the US, it reminded me of a couple of things. (It has been so during the past three Washington administrations, including the present Trump administration. For example, in Iraq non of the US money goes to helping the post-ISIS Christians rebuild!)

One was the dire warnings and predictions both from a few Washington politicians, by the Pope, the Archbishop of Bagdad (who was killed in the war, one of the 600,000 masaquered) and by the international community that an US invasion of Iraq would be a disaster, especially for the Christians.

The other idea that came to mind was what a missionary priest in Palestine told me during my 5-week studies there in 2012, viz. that the Israeli policy in Israel was to "push the Christians out of the Middle East" so that they could destroy Palestine without any Western push-back.

It appears that the US policy coincides with that of Israel, get rid of the Christians.

80% of the Christians of Iraq and Syria have been eliminated since 2003! That is genocide and the USA made it happen and is doing nothing, to date, to stop the completion of the Middle-Eastern genocide of Christianity. Call it a reverse "Crusade." It is an anti-Christian Crusade.

By their fruits you shall know them.

Below are two articles. First the state of the question. Next is an 2003 article expressing why the Iraqi War (before it began) would not help Christians in Iraq, Iraq or the Middle East. It would obviously be colonization by destruction. And so it has been.


We Are Witnessing the Elimination of Christian Communities in Iraq and Syria
BY PETER FEAVERWILL INBODEN
SEPTEMBER 6, 2017 - 11:45 AM
http://foreignpolicy.com

Do we want to be the generation that stood by as Christians disappeared almost entirely from the ancient homelands they have occupied since the days of the New Testament?

Will the Trump administration and this Congress let this historic and preventable tragedy happen on their watch?

We are on the precipice of catastrophe, and unless we act soon, within weeks, the tiny remnants of Christian communities in Iraq may be mostly eradicated by the genocide being committed against Christians in Iraq and Syria.

Other global crises such as North Korea’s nuclear adventurism may be dominating the headlines, but this tragedy has been unfolding in agonizing slow motion over the past decade, an unintended consequence of the turmoil and sectarian strife unleashed by the Iraq war of 2003. Saddam Hussein was hardly a protector of Christians, but the power vacuum that came after his fall made the plight of Christians in Iraq dramatically worse. The George W. Bush administration tried to help persecuted Christians and other religious minorities, but had its hands full avoiding defeat in the larger civil war. Whatever respite Bush’s surge decision bought soon gave way under the Obama administration to an even more terrible extermination campaignlaunched by the Islamic State, leading to a charnel house of death and displacement for Christians. In turn, the Obama administration found itselfmaking its own painful tradeoffs as it tried to fight the Islamic State while relying on local militias that had designs on Christian lands. The result was an accelerated Christian exodus and extermination of those who stayed behind.

Bureaucrats in the Obama administration compounded the problem by blocking efforts to direct some funding to help local church groups and other religious organizations that were providing almost all of the humanitarian assistance to the suffering Christian communities. Their rationale stemmed from a benighted misinterpretation of humanitarian principles and a desire to avoid the appearance of favoritism when there were so many suffering groups. Such head-scratching punctiliousness prevailed despite the Obama administration’s own public recognition that the Christian and other religious minorities like Yazidis were the victims of genocide and faced extinction unless they were helped.

The counter-Islamic State campaign launched belatedly by Obama and intensified under Trump is reclaiming land, but the Christian minorities are benefiting little from U.S. and U.N. humanitarian and stabilization assistance. The other various factions in the anti-Islamic State coalition seem all too willing to entertain other plans for the newly freed territories. Some communities, such as the tiny Christian pockets in Mosul, are almost certainly lost forever. A few nascent Christian villages in the Nineveh Plains are clinging to viability, beginning the painful process of rebuilding with funds donated principally by a few international relief organizations like the Knights of Columbus and Aid to the Church in Need, and the Hungarian government, and kept alive by emergency aid from the local Catholic and Orthodox dioceses.

Years of humanitarian assistance through the local Catholic and Orthodox churches have provided food, shelter, medical and educational assistance for Christian, Yazidi, and some Muslims internally displaced people and refugees, but those resources have been exhausted and now the eyes of the local communities have turned to Washington, where American political leaders are considering stepping up with significant humanitarian assistance from the U.S. government.

The clearest, best path to rescue involves the bipartisan H.R. 390 – “Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017,” co-authored by representatives Chris Smith and Anna Eshoo, which would explicitly authorize the Trump administration, and future administrations, to direct some existing funds for immediate assistance on the ground to religious and ethnic minority communities that have been victims of genocide. Its passage would also to signal to our local partners the priority the United States places on protecting these most vulnerable victims from extinction. Despite passing unanimously in the House, the legislation has languished in the Senate. Unless Senator Bob Corker, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate leadership recognizes the existential urgency for genocide survivors on the ground and therefore prioritize moving on H.R. 390 now — or unless other entrepreneurial senators figure out a way to act regardless — this bill may fall victim to the Senate’s already overcrowded calendar (made even more crowded by the obvious and all-consuming-crisis of Hurricane Harvey relief). The White House should send an unequivocal message to Corker and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to act on H.R. 390 and ensure it is transmitted to the Senate floor as a top-level priority after reconvening this week.

An additional path would be for the Trump administration to use existing congressional authorization for the fiscal year 2017 omnibus, along with executive prerogatives, to direct urgent aid and assistance to imperiled Middle Eastern Christians and Yazidis now. Their plight is a tragedy that many on the Trump team understand viscerally, and many senior officials have spoken of their concern for the issue, beginning with president himself (see also here, and here).

But the administration has multiple other challenges vying for its attention, so dealing with this one will require focus and perseverance — and perhaps some explicit guidance to overcome resistance at lower levels in the bureaucracy, especially at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, about acting on behalf of endangered religious and ethnic minority communities in this way.

Meanwhile, the Senate should confirm Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom as soon as possible, so that he can join the State Department’s capable Special Advisor for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia in serving as Foggy Bottom’s lead advocates on this issue.

The situation is bleak, but it is not yet beyond hope. Some refugees are returning, and if they receive adequate, targeted assistance immediately, this might be enough of a remnant to keep the Christianity alive in its New Testament birthplace for another generation.

But that may require U.S. politicians taking a page out of the Old Testament. The Book of Esther tells the story of a well-placed favorite in the king of Persia’s court. In those days, local political factions were conspiring to exterminate another religious minority, the Jews, and Queen Esther was challenged by her adopted father to use her political clout to intervene on their behalf. Mordecai’s words ring down through the ages, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

The alternative is a bleak one that should sear the conscience of people of every faith and conviction. Unless we act soon, we may bear witness to the final chapter of a genocide that we could have prevented.


Best Argument Against Invading Iraq
by Keith Preston

Proponents of an American military assault on Iraq, from President Bush all the way down to Joe Sixpack armchair warriors, typically state their case in a manner somewhat resembling the following: Saddam Hussein is not supposed to have "weapons of mass destruction". Saddam has not indicated that he has fully disarmed. He has defied inspectors. He has ignored UN resolutions. He is not a nice guy. He might give some of his weapons to Osama bin Laden, or some similar figure, thereby creating the possibility of more September 11-style disasters for this country. And by the way, Saddam oppresses the Iraqi people. An American invasion and occupation of Iraq will be quick and easy. This occupation will allow the Iraqi people to experience the glories of parliamentary democracy which will in turn enrich their lives, fatten their wallets and inspire their Arab and Muslim brethren throughout the world to love America and all the good she does in her selfless efforts to improve the human condition.

Virtually every presumption behind this line of argumentation is false. However, it would be helpful if war critics did a better job of exposing the depth of the fallacies behind the administration's rhetoric. Typically, critics will argue that war with Iraq should not be pursued, at least not yet anyway, because Saddam has already been effectively disarmed (the Scott Ritter argument), or because the inspections have not been given enough time to "work" (the typical argument offered by limousine liberals like Susan Sarandon), or because the US is not militarily prepared (as Norman Schwarzkopf claims), or because such a war "is not in the national interest" (Pat Buchanan's perspective). All of these arguments ignore one basic question: Who exactly is the US government to insist that another nation disarm itself and initiate military force against that nation when its fails to comply with Washington's demands?

I am willing to concede, for the sake of argument, that Saddam is still doing everything within his power to obtain formidable weaponry. I am willing to concede that Saddam is attempting to evade UN inspectors at every step of the way. It is also theoretically possible, though I think unlikely, that Iraq may be a source of weaponry for free lance terrorists at some point in the future. I am even willing to concede that if clear, unmistakable proof were received that Iraq was indeed planning a serious, specific attack on the US at some specific future point, then a case for a "preemptive strike" could indeed be made. I also aknowledge that Saddam Hussein is a despotic head of state. None of this resolves the central issues behind the dispute.

The fact is Iraq has a legitimate defensive interest in obtaining the forbidden weapons. Iraq has in the past been attacked by three nuclear-armed nations (Israel, England and America) and threatened by a fourth (Iran) that is believed to be seeking, and might already possess, such weapons. As for Iraq's failure to comply with UN orders to disarm, the entire disarmament program is a farce. The program was imposed on Iraq in a Versailles-like arrangement by an international quasi-governmental body that is, by all reasonable standards, illegitimate, even if one believes in government. The United Nations is simply a front for First World imperialism and has been ever since it was created by the victorious Allied powers of World War Two, who proceeded to grant themselves permanent seating on the Security Council, for the purpose of managing the affairs of the world on their own behalf.

If at some point in the future Iraq were to sponsor a terrorist assault on the United States, this would only be in retaliation for ongoing American terrorism against Iraq. There is no reason whatsoever for the US to even be in conflict with Iraq. I remember watching television network news coverage of the Iraq-Iran war twenty years ago where Saddam Hussein was depicted as a faithful American ally and a benevolent friend of peace, democracy and freedom. Saddam has never practiced imperialism outside of his own backyard. Iraq invaded its border state of Iran in 1980 only after Iran threatened to export its Shiah fundamentalist revolution to secular Iraq. Iraq invaded its border state of Kuwait in 1990 only after Kuwait was found to be stealing oil from Iraqi oil fields and only after having been given an implicit go-ahead by the US. This is not to say that Iraq's aggression against its neighbors has been justifiable. However, this aggression has been no more comprehensive than aggression by the American state against border nations (Mexico and the Indian nations) early in its history. Certainly, the US has had no legitimate defensive interest in inserting itself into conflicts between Iraq and its neighbors. The effective way for the US to reduce the risk of potential future terrorist threats from Iraq would be a unilateral cessation of hostilities with Iraq and the undertaking of a peace intiative towards that nation.

Saddam Hussein is a despotic ruler but no more so than many, if not most, other heads of state. Until their nation was reduced to a pre-industrial state by the US/UN military assault of 1991 and twelve subsequent years of tyrannical sanctions, the Iraqis maintained the highest standard of living of any Arab nation. Christians and other religious minorities continue to enjoy greater freedom of worship and higher social standing in Iraq than in virtually any other Muslim country. From what I understand, firearms are sold retail and over the counter in Iraq. This is certainly not the case in allegedly "free" or "pro-American" nations such as England, Australia or Japan. The conservative journalist Taki Theodoracopulos observed during his many visits to Iraq that ordinary citizens are typically left alone so long as they do not threaten or publicly attack the government. Such is the case in most Third World nations. Among America's formal or tacit allies in the Middle East and South Asia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia prohibit public worship by any non-Islamic religious community, India is ruled by a Hindu-fascist party that sanctions private mob violence against its Muslim and Christian minorities, Egypt allows police torture of criminal suspects, Pakistan is a one-man military dictatorship, Indonesia has engaged in Pol Pot-like genocide against the Timorese people and, of course, there is Israel's ongoing brutalization of the Palestinians.

Last year, Saddam granted amnesty to virtually all prisoners in Iraq, foreign spies excepted. Thieves were pardoned on the condition that they repay victims. Even murderers were given clemency provided the victim's mother agreed. This is far more magnanimous a gesture than Dubya would ever agree to. Mr. Bush presides over a federal prison system where thousands languish. More than three quarters of these people are imprisoned under byzantine federal tax, firearms, drug or environmental laws or became snared in the legal maze that typically accompanies federal regulatory schemes. Bush has the power of executive pardon and could, with a word, order the release of all of these people. Of course, Mr. Hussein's granting of near universal amnesty was not done out of his own innate goodness. Saddam likely needs his prison guards, and probably the prisoners as well, for his regular army and civilian militias that are currently being mobilized to resist a US invasion.

Whenever the state begins to beat the drums of war, real or imaginary atrocities perpetrated by the official enemy begin to be played up and blown out of proportion, usually with a good deal of hypocrisy on the part of the war propagandists. Thus far, I have heard, from various sources, tales of Saddam publicly beheading his political rivals. Saddam rules his regime the way mob bosses run their respective crime "families" — merciless to enemies but generally ignoring everyone else. I suspected most of these decapitatees were simply rival political thugs seeking to replace Hussein's state with a tyrannical regime of their own so I see no reason to be concerned about their fate. Recently, I heard a story about how Saddam allegedly had his operatives shoot schoolchildren who failed to cheer loudly enough at a state-sponsored rally. While it would not surprise me a bit if this were indeed true, it should be remembered that even the UN has aknowledged that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children have died needlessly from malnutrition or preventable diseases as a direct result of Western sanctions targeting Iraq's civilian population, an acceptable cost according to former US Secretary of State Madeleine Half-Wit.

War propaganda often takes on absurd characteristics. The current war is no exception. Recently, White House Secretary of Lies Ari Fleischer, an Israeli citizen (hey, no conflict of interest there), insisted that the President "knows things" that we ignorant commoners do not and therefore we should simply follow the Maximum Leader blindly into war. I was immediately reminded of a television interview with Richard Nixon I watched years ago where the interviewer (Mike Wallace, if I remember correctly) pointed out that Mr. Nixon had campaigned for the Presidency in 1968 on a promise that he possessed a "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam. When asked if there had indeed been such a plan, Nixon matter-of-factly shook his head to indicate a "no" answer and stated that the alleged plan was simply a "figment of the imagination". Bush continues to insist that this a war for "freedom", as if he had any conception of the idea, and as if Saddam is going to invade the US and declare the Bill of Rights null and void, something that George's buddy John Ashcroft is doing quite well on his own.

The proposed invasion of Iraq is also presented as an effort to "liberate" the Iraqi people which will doubtlessly be met with unceasing gratitude on their part. Perhaps this is why gun shops in Iraq are selling out their inventory to private Iraqi citizens preparing for the invasion and civilian militias, some created by the state but others organized privately by tribal and clan leaders, are beginning to form. Few people welcome a foreign invasion of their country, no matter how much they may hate their own government. Even Soviet citizens living under the arch-tyrant Stalin rallied to the defense of "mother Russia" when the German invaders came. Speaking of Germany, the Hitler analogy is once again being invoked to justify an assault on Iraq. Saddam must be stopped lest the mistake of failing to curb Hitler's ambitions in time to prevent World War Two and the Holocaust be repeated. Aside from the fact that Hitler commanded one of the most powerful states in history while Saddam controls a militarily and economically crippled Third World country, there are some other problems with this argument. Hitler was actually moving eastward toward the Soviet Union and away from the Western democracies when militarily unprepared England and France initiated a declaration of war against Germany. Subsequently, France was militarily defeated after six weeks and the Germans almost made it across the English channel into England itself before being turned back at the Battle of Britain. The Western nations could have slowed down the escalation of the Holocaust considerably by simply bombing and disrupting European railroad lines and allowing Jewish refugees into their respective nations and colonies, both of which they failed to do, although England and America both engaged in large scale terror bombings of civilian targets at Dresden and elsewhere while the Holocaust was in progress.

No doubt there are many reasons why the Bush administration wishes to conquer Iraq. After months of denying that oil was in any way a factor in the formulation of Iraq policy, administration sources have now indicated that they might be interested in Iraq's oil deposits (the second largest in the world) after all, but only for the purpose of "rebuilding" an Iraq that the US has spent a dozen years trying to destroy and "sharing the wealth" allegedly denied to Iraqis by Saddam Hussein, but not by US/UN sanctions, of course. The picture becomes more complete when we recognize the ties of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to the Haliburton oil corporation, which rushed to do business in Iraq following a partial lifting of sanctions in 1998. Israel has predictably been a leading cheerleader for a US war with Iraq, and with the Israeli lobby being one of the strongest of all US lobbies and prominent Israeli partisans like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz holding high-level positions in the administration, the Israelis are likely to get their way. There is also the matter of the fanatically pro-Israel dispensationalist Christian elements among Bush's grassroots support base, the influence of neoconservative ideology on the administration, the ongoing family feud between the Bushes and the Husseins, the President's concern for his own legacy, possibly Iraq's outstanding international debts and, of course, the US government's desire to consolidate the New World Order under its own rule and to eliminate NWO-resistant nations like Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, et al. The biggest gang in town wishes to eliminate its smaller, less powerful rivals. Consequences of a US attack on Iraq are potentially catastrophic.

The best possible scenario that has any chance of actually transpiring would be a short and quick war, with few civilian or military casualties on either side, followed by the replacement of Saddam with a regime that is at least tolerable to the average Iraqi with a US military withdrawal following soon afterward and the avoidance of both internal ethnic or religious skirmishes in Iraq or terrorist retaliation against America. Of course, this is the least likely scenario. It is quite possible that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians or conscripts will be killed in the invasion along with thousands of American soldiers who have been seduced into military service under largely fraudulent pretenses. The invasion could escalate into ethnic cleansing or civil war within Iraq or even a large scale regional war in the Middle East. Reportedly, the Pentagon has been ordered to draw up plans for a potential invasion of Iran or Syria as well. If such a plan is carried out, the US would likely find itself immersed in World War Three with the entire Muslim world and facing ongoing terrorist assaults of the 9-11 variety. Neoconservative ideologues and Zionist fanatics, such as the repulsive Norman Podhoretz, have expressed hopes for precisely such a scenario. With nothing left to lose, Saddam may well unload his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons on American troops, Israel, surrounding nations or even his own people, or maybe he will secretly ship these weapons to whatever bands of terrorists express an interest in them. Even those arch-doves at the CIA have argued that this is the main danger posed by Saddam Hussein, in direct contradiction of the Bush administration's rhetoric.

From an anarchist perspective, one of the most intriguing aspects of the US-Iraq conflict is the magnificent way in which the true nature of the state is being exposed. The great sociologist Franz Oppenheimer argued that the state is fundamentally rooted in conquest and slavery and exists for no real purpose other than the maintenance of its own power. Rothbard, echoing Augustine, insisted that the state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large. One of the most important aspects of libertarian theory is the idea that ordinary rules of civilization ought to apply to states as well as private individuals. It is just as unacceptable for the state to engage in murder, robbery and slavery as it is for an ordinary citizen to do so. With this in mind, the solution I might favor to the US-Iraq conflict is the one suggested at one point by the Iraqi Vice-President. Namely, an old fashioned duel between Bush and his cronies and Saddam and his cronies. These two teams of degenerates, leaders of criminal gangs that they are, should simply meet at some neutral location, like the Swiss Alps, and "have it out" in the same manner as the Clantons and the Earps at the OK Corral. Whichever side came out the loser, it would not exactly be a tremendous loss to mankind.
The most cheerful aspect of Bush's drive to war is that so many people are already on to him. Most other nations have refused to endorse his agenda and much of the US public is skeptical as well. An antiwar movement, the largest to date to form prior to the commencement of an actual war, is already beginning to grow and develop. Even the likes of General Schwarzkopf have expressed doubts about the administration's motives and competence and called for granting the inspectors more time. Inspections or no inspections, a US military assault on Iraq would be an act of naked aggression with all of the usual, predictable consequences of aggression for both victim and perpetrator alike. And this is the best argument against invading Iraq.

Source: http://www.anti-state.com

Cuba and Urban America Destruction

Live Direct Footage of Saint Peter's Square on YouTube

Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Nihil Operi Dei praeponatur": Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI New Preface on Liturgy


Français, Italiano

"The renewal of the liturgy is the foundation for the renewal of the Church"


Nothing should be put before divine Worship. With these world Saint Benedict, in his Rule (43:3), establishes the absolute priority of divine Worship with regard to every other task of monastic life. Even in the monastic life this was not to be presumed because agricultural and scientific work were also essential for the monks.  In agriculture, in guilds or in formation there might be temporal emergencies which might seem more important than the liturgy. In the face of all of this Benedict, with the priority given to the liturgy, emphasizes the priority of God himself in our life: "As soon as the signal for the Divine Office has been heard, let them abandon what they have in hand and assemble with the greatest speed." (43:1). LaStampa.it

BENEDICT XVI

In the mind of men today, the things of God, including the liturgy, do not appear urgent at all. There is urgency for every possible thing. God's thing does not seem urgent. Now, it could be said that the monastic life is, in any case, something different from the life of men in the world, and that is right of course. Nevertheless, the priority of God which we have forgotten, applies to all. If God is no longer important, the criteria to establish what is important are removed. Man, putting God to the side, subjects himself to demands which make him a slave to material forces and which are thus opposed to his dignity. 

In the years following the Second Vatican Council I again became conscious of the priority of God and of the divine liturgy. The widespread misunderstanding of the liturgical reform in the Catholic Church led to the placing of instruction and of one's own activity and creativity ever more in first place. The doing of men rendered the presence of God almost forgotten. In such a circumstance it becomes always more clear that the existence of the Church lives from the right celebration of the liturgy and that the Church is in danger when the primacy of God no longer appears in the liturgy and therefore in life.

The deepest cause of the crisis which has upset the Church consists in the darkening of the priority of God in the liturgy. All of this led me to dedicate myself to the theme of the liturgy more than the past because I know that the true renewal of the liturgy is a fundamental condition for the renewal of the Chruch. The studies which are collected in the present volume 11 of the Opera omnia were born on the basis of this conviction. But, at bottom, even with all the differences, the essence of the liturgy in East and West is one and the same. And thus I hope that this book may also help the Christians of Russia to understand, in a new and better way, the great gift which is given us in the Holy Liturgy.

Vatican City, on the Feast of Saint Benedict, 11 July 2015 (plinthos translation from Pierluca Azzaro Italian version of Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

Conversation and Converts: "Converso" the Movie


«Converso» triunfa en el fin de semana de su estreno y el filme llega a siete nuevas ciudades

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Laudes Creaturarum: Saint Francis of Assisi (Umbrian and English)


Original text in Umbrian dialect:

Altissimu, onnipotente bon Signore,
Tue so le laude, la gloria e l'honore et onne benedictione.

Ad Te solo, Altissimo, se konfano,
et nullu homo ène dignu te mentouare.

Laudato sie, mi Signore cum tucte le Tue creature,
spetialmente messor lo frate Sole,
lo qual è iorno, et allumini noi per lui.

Et ellu è bellu e radiante cum grande splendore:
de Te, Altissimo, porta significatione.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per sora Luna e le stelle:
in celu l'ài formate clarite et pretiose et belle.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per frate Uento
et per aere et nubilo et sereno et onne tempo,
per lo quale, a le Tue creature dài sustentamento.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per sor'Acqua,
la quale è multo utile et humile et pretiosa et casta.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per frate Focu,
per lo quale ennallumini la nocte:
ed ello è bello et iucundo et robustoso et forte.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per sora nostra matre Terra,
la quale ne sustenta et gouerna,
et produce diuersi fructi con coloriti fior et herba.

Laudato si, mi Signore, per quelli ke perdonano per lo Tuo amore
et sostengono infirmitate et tribulatione.

Beati quelli ke 'l sosterranno in pace,
ka da Te, Altissimo, sirano incoronati.

Laudato si mi Signore, per sora nostra Morte corporale,
da la quale nullu homo uiuente pò skappare:
guai a quelli ke morrano ne le peccata mortali;

beati quelli ke trouarà ne le Tue sanctissime uoluntati,
ka la morte secunda no 'l farrà male.

Laudate et benedicete mi Signore et rengratiate
e seruiteli cum grande humilitate.

Notes: so=sono, si=sii (you are), mi=mio, ka=perché, u replaces v, sirano=saranno


English Translation:

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.

And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.[3]

N.B. The video is Decus morum, an ancient hymn from the vespers of the office of Saint Francis of Assisi.

The Christian Future of Europe: Metropolitan Hilarion Of Volokolamsk, Moscow


On 22 September 2017, an international symposium on the Christian Future of Europe took place at the residence of Russia’s Ambassador to Great Britain. The keynote address was delivered by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations.

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants,

I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples’ lives, their faith and their values.

Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe. Among the reasons for this is the greatest migration crisis on the continent since the end of the Second World War, caused by armed conflicts and economic problems in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. According to figures by the European Union agency Frontex, more than 1.8 million migrants entered the EU in 2015 alone.[1] Figures from the UN International Migration Report show that the number of migrants in Europe has increased from 49.3 million people in 2000 to 76.1 million people in 2015.[2]According to research by the UN International Organization for Migration, throughout the world about 1.3 percent of the adult population, which comprises some 66 million people, in the forthcoming year intend to leave for another country in order to live permanently there. Approximately a third of this group of people – 23 million – are already making plans to move. 16.5 percent of potential migrants who were questioned responded that the countries at the top of their list are Great Britain, Germany and France.[3]

The other reason for the transformation of the religious map of Europe is the secularization of European society. Figures in a British opinion poll indicate that more than half of the country’s inhabitants – for the first time in history – do not affiliate themselves to any particular religion. 2942 people took part in an opinion poll conducted in 2016 by Britain’s National Centre for Social Research: 53 percent of those who responded to the question on religious allegiance said that they do not belong to any religious confession. Among those aged from eighteen to twenty-five, the number of non-religious is higher – 71 percent. When similar research was carried out in 1983, only 31 percent of those questioned stated that they did not belong to any confession.[4]

We can see an opposite trend in the Eastern European countries, in particular in Russia. A July opinion poll conducted in Russia by the Levada-Center showed a sharp decline in the number of atheists and non-believers from 26 percent in December 2015 to 13 percent in July 2017.[5] This, of course, does not mean that all the remaining 83 percent are practicing believers. Many defined themselves as “religious to some degree” or “not too religious”, but nevertheless affiliated themselves with one of the traditional religions. However, the number of people who define themselves as being “very religious” is growing steadily.

The contemporary state of religious life in Russian society is directly linked to the tragic events of one hundred years ago. The historical catastrophe of 1917 embroiled Russia in a fratricidal civil war, terror, exile of the nation’s best representatives beyond the confines of their homeland, and the deliberate annihilation of whole layers of society – the nobility, the Cossacks, the clergy and affluent peasants. They were declared to be “enemies of the people,” and their relatives were subjected to discrimination and became the “disenfranchised,” which forced them to the edge of survival. All of this terror took place under the banner of a communist ideology that fought ferociously against religion. Millions of believers were subjected to the cruelest of persecution, harassment, discrimination and repression – from mockery and dismissal in the workplace to imprisonment and execution by firing squad. The Church in those years produced a great multitude of martyrs and confessors for the faith who, as St. Paul said, “were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment” (Heb 11.35-36).

Discussion on the future of Christianity in Europe is impossible without understanding the prospects for the survival of religiosity among its inhabitants. Research carried out by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Cornwell Theological College, USA, indicates that the number of Christians in Europe will be consistently falling: from 560 million people in 2015 to 501 million by 2050.[6] The calculations of the Pew Research Center are more pessimistic and foretell a reduction in Christians in Europe from 553 million people in 2015 to 454 million people by 2050.[7]

These are alarming prognoses, but they reflect the current trends in the transformation of the religious picture of Europe, and they cannot be ignored. Some are suggesting that, unless special force is applied, Europe cannot simply cease to be Christian on the grounds that Europe has for many centuries been Christian. I would like to remind you all that in Russia before 1917 nobody ever proposed that the collapse of a centuries-old Christian empire would happen and that it would be replaced by an atheistic totalitarian regime. And even when that did happen, few believed that it was serious and for long.

The modern-day decline of Christianity in the western world may be compared to the situation in the Russian Empire before 1917. The revolution and the dramatic events which followed it have deep spiritual, as well as social and political, reasons. Over many years the aristocracy and intelligentsia had abandoned the faith, and were then followed by common people. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia spoke of this in January 2017: “The fundamental rupture in the traditional way of life – and I am now speaking… of the spiritual and cultural self-consciousness of the people – was possible only for the reason that something very important had disappeared from peoples’ lives, in the first instance those people who belonged to the elite. In spite of an outward prosperity and appearance, the scientific and cultural achievements, less and less place was left in peoples’ lives for a living and sincere belief in God, an understanding of the exceptional importance of values belonging to a spiritual and moral tradition.”[8]

In the immediate post-war years Christianity played a huge role in the process of European integration, which was viewed in the context of the Cold War as one of the means of containing the expansion of atheist propaganda and communist ideology. The Vatican relied in its anti-communist propaganda upon European unity, upon the Christian democratic parties of Western Europe. The latter firmly believed that Western civilization is closely tied to Christian values, and had to be defended from the communist threat. Pope Pius XII supported the creation of a European community as “Christian Europe’s historical mission.”

The first president of the Federal Republic of Germany Theodor Heuss said that Europe was built on three hills: the Acropolis, which gave her the values of freedom, philosophy and democracy; the Capitol, which represented Roman legal concepts and social order; and Golgotha, i.e. Christianity.[9] It must be noted too that the founding fathers of the European Union were deeply religious men – for example, the French foreign minister Robert Schuman, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Konrad Adenauer and the Italian foreign minister Alcide De Gasperi.

And when half a century after the creation of the European Union its constitution was being written, it would have been natural for the Christian Churches to expect that the role of Christianity as one of the European values to have been included in this document, without encroaching upon the secular nature of the authorities in a unified Europe. But, as we know, this did not happen. The European Union, when writing its constitution, declined to mention its Christian heritage even in the preamble of the document.

I firmly believe that a Europe which has renounced Christ will not be able to preserve its cultural and spiritual identity. For many centuries Europe was the home where various religious traditions lived side by side, but at the same time in which Christianity played a dominant role. This role is reflected, particularly, in the architecture of European cities which are hard to imagine without their magnificent cathedrals and numerous, though more modest in size, churches.

A monopoly of the secular idea has taken hold in Europe. Its manifestation is the expulsion of the religious worldview from the public expanse. Article 4 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion and Belief, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1981, affirms that “All States shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief in the recognition, exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life.”[10]

The architects of the secular society have seen to the legal aspect of the issue: formally one can confess any religion, but if one attempts to motivate one’s actions through religious belief and freedom of conscience and encourage others to act in accordance with their faith, then at best one will be subjected to censure, or at worst to criminal prosecution.

For example, if one is a doctor and refuses to perform an abortion,[11] or euthanasia,[12] by referring to one’s religious principles, then one is breaking the law. If you are a Protestant pastor and live in a country in which same sex unions are legal, then you have little chance of refusing this couple the right to a church wedding while remaining unpunished by the state. Thus, for example, the Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven recently stated that all pastors of the Church of Sweden ought to be obliged to perform church weddings for same-sex couples, adding that “I see parallels to the midwife who refuses to perform abortions. If you work as a midwife you must be able to perform abortions, otherwise you have to do something else… It is the same for priests.”[13]

Such political figures are the complete opposite to those who were at the foundations of the European Union, and this type of rhetoric, in my view, is suicidal for the continent of Europe. The legalization of abortion, the encouragement of sexual promiscuity, and the systematic attempts to undermine family values have led to a profound demographic crisis in many European countries. This crisis, accompanied by an identity crisis, will lead to a situation whereby in time other peoples will inhabit Europe with a different religion, a different culture and different paradigms of values.

Often the language of hatred in relation to Christians is used when Christians insist on their right to participate in public affairs. They enjoy the same right as much as it is enjoyed by adherents of any other religion or by atheists. However, in practice it is not like this: dozens of instances of discrimination against Christians on the grounds of their beliefs are registered every year. These instances are highlighted by the media and become a topic for public discussion, but the situation as a whole does not change as a result.

In modern-day Europe militant secularism has been transformed into an autonomous power that does not tolerate dissent. It allows well-organized minority groups to successfully impose their will on the majority under the pretext of observing human rights. Today human rights have in essence been transformed into an instrument for manipulating the majority, and the struggle for human rights into the dictatorship of the minority in relation to the majority.

Unfortunately, we should note that these are not isolated incidents, but an already formed system of values supported by the state and supra-national institutions of the EU.

In a situation where we have aggressive pressure of the groups which propagate ideas unacceptable from the perspective of traditional Christian morality, it is essential to unite the Churches’ efforts in opposing these processes, to act jointly in the media, in the sphere of legal support, as well as in propagating common Christian values at all possible levels. It is important that the Churches share their experience in this sphere, and develop cooperation between church human rights organizations and monitoring centers.

I believe it important that Christians of Europe should stand shoulder to shoulder to defend those values upon which the life of the continent has been built for centuries, and that they should view the afflictions and dismay of Christians throughout the world as their own.

[1] Frontex Risk Analysis Network Quarterly Report. Q4 2015. http://frontex.europa.eu/assets/Publications/Risk_Analysis/FRAN_Q4_2015.pdf

[2] International Migration Report 2015. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/PopulationDivision.

http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/migrationreport/docs/MigrationReport2015.pdf

[3] Measuring Global Migration Potential, 2010–2015. Issue No. 9, July 2017. http://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/gmdac_data_briefing_series_issue_9.pdf

[4] Число неверующих в Великобритании впервые превысило 50%. http://www.bbc.com/russian/news-41154931

[5] https://www.levada.ru/2017/07/18/religioznost

[6] http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/documents/StatusofGlobalChristianity2017.pdf

[7] http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/

[8] Presentation by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill at the opening of the XXV Nativity Educational Readings http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/4789256.html

[9] Христианские церкви и европейская интеграция: параметры взаимодействия. http://orthodoxru.eu/ru/index.php?content=article&category=publications&id=2012-09-17-1&lang=ru

[10] http://www.un.org/ru/documents/decl_conv/declarations/relintol.shtml

[11] http://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/case/medical-directors-dismissal-reversed.html

[12] Catholic care home in Belgium fined for refusing euthanasia. http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/07/04/catholic-care-home-in-belgium-fined-for refusing-euthanasia/

[13] http://www.intoleranceagainstchristians.eu/case/swedish-prime-minister-priests-should-perform-same-sex-marriages.html
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