One Handful of Ideas

  • Only Catholics have defined God without obscurity or narcissism. The Protestant, beginning their gaze towards God by looking inward, rarely learns to see God as a being separate from their desires Who, on His own, grants us precisely what we need. Instead, God is always working miracles, whether that’s saving one from a life of sin or a bad morning. Indeed many Catholics need a nuanced vision of God’s will, one that does not propose a God that moves individual blades of grass or every nuerotransmitter, but we must admit Protestantism has set loose these misunderstandings. One must compare what Protestants are often calling miracles with what the Catholics believe are. The miracles of the Catholic faith are typically rarer and very often have nothing to do with one’s will, per se, only their faith. Often enough, they’re a sign that one is doing the right thing, but not necessarily that one is going to receive exactly what they have asked for.

 

  • Liberals speak of liberation but are always rushing towards conformity. In an age supposedly ripe with free thinkers, personifying an unfettered freedom never before seen in all of humanity’s days, liberals are the main people clogging up bigger cities with traffic, businesses, and activity. They are all vehement and aware, fighting the past’s oppressive shadow, and yet so many rush into the same places to live. Of course this is natural, one has to be around those like them, but it presents a contradiction which should lead any intellectual to consider just what the nature and purpose of conformity is.

 

  • Of all the things feminists do understand, the least of these is a man’s weaknesses. Listen to one talk about the way a man is turned on. It is like he came with buttons and all he need do is simply not press them. Indeed there is a deeper misunderstanding of human motivation, but when that misunderstanding is placed in the context of a man’s emotions and faults, the feminist ends up proposing solutions that a man can never integrate into a larger composition of himself. Consequently, when a man or woman says women shouldn’t wear certain clothing, all the feminist says is men need to not look in that direction; when someone says he is all too easily turned on by the way a woman dresses, men are advised to simply not be turned on. A shame that any Christian woman should resign herself to these replies, as if temptation were simply a thing a person vanquished by will alone — nevermind Grace, and to hell with edifying beauty or goodness or truth outside of the self.

 

  • And one last thing I’ve been thinking about which can be connected to all of these things, but I’ll leave it to the diligent thinker to do so: liberals have a proclivity or something more than mere habit of seeing in policy and decisions only their best potential outcome. Sure this can help someone who feels unforgivable, down-trodden, abandoned, or condemned to feel there is a chance for them to in some way redeem themselves or better their station, but even in that case, it is dishonest to posit only the positive for such a desperate soul. Part of our betterment is acknowledging just how awful things can become. I was once told that this mindstate is precisely that which an addict ought to avoid — but I cannot see an addict avoiding the fact of potential mishaps without becoming someone who simply becomes addicted to something else. The depressed mind must focus not on the bad or the good — neither alone — but on what it takes to overcome the bad, which is an mixture of the good and bad, which is hope. As Christopher Lasch said before, hope is the admission of potential good that may be achieved at great, great costs. It is the awareness that good things can and may happen, but probably not without valiant and diligent effort. For all their desires to help the marginalized, liberals make the mistake of forgetting this and leave them, and all others under their care, vulnerable to great harm. We are witnessing this almost everywhere because most politicians are liberal now, however they identify. This fact was covered in detail in an article in one of my favorite publications, The Hedgehog Review. They see immigrants as harmless, and so Germany has installed cement blocks to prevent vehicular homicide attacks which are decorated for the season while an immigrant was aquited of murder and deported in California; the market’s freedom is vaunted above even the good of that which succeeds in the market, so porn offers a lucrative and addictive product while feminist continue condemning slut shaming and the objectification of women, even though the best examples of the latter are always billboards for women they dress just like; feminists also promote abortion, citing a woman’s need for autonomy and securing freedom to seize economic opportunities as most everyone and their child can’t foresee a stable future economically. They view all of their decisions only in light of the outcomes they expect, which are always good; they ignore much of the failures of their own policies that have already succeeded. They are ill-prepared to counteract the evil in humanity, and so they neglect it or try to assuage it without much conflict.
Advertisements

The Patron Saint of Common Sense, The Bull-Moose

Truth has a way of overlapping. I’ve always had a fondness of the way that a song or one writer and another writer at a completely separate point in time or place say the same thing, more or less. Recently I thought about the following quotations:

We cannot insist that the first years of infancy are of supreme importance, and that mothers are not of supreme importance; or that motherhood is a topic of sufficient interest for men, but not of sufficient interest for mothers. Every word that is said about the tremendous importance of trivial nursery habits goes to prove that being a nurse is not trivial. All tends to the return of the simple truth that the private work is the great one and the public work the small. The human house is a paradox, for it is larger inside than out.

~G.K. Chesterton: ‘Turning Inside Out’, Fancies vs. Fad

And

Just as the prime work for the man must be earning his livelihood and the livelihood of those dependent upon him, so the prime work for the average woman must be keeping the home and bearing and rearing her children. This woman is not a parasite on society. She is society. She is the one indispensable component part of society. Socially, the same standard of moral obligation applies both to her and to the man; and in addition she is entitled to all the chivalry of love and tenderness and reverence, if in gallant and fearless fashion she faces the risk and wearing labor entailed by her fulfilment of duty; but if she shirks her duty she is entitled to no more consideration than the man who shirks his. Unless she does her duty, the whole social system collapses. If she does her duty, she is entitled to all honor.

— Theodore Roosevelt, “The Parasite Woman”, The Foes of Our Own Household

Both present the unmentioned fact verboten in the modern world: the home is a place not only worth keeping, but a place for being; it is a place where life must spend a copious amount existing, lest life should become something far less than livable.

What a delight also to read that the two had met and Roosevelt spoke highly before and after of Chesterton. I am curious to know what Chesterton’s thoughts were, but this shall suffice:

In England Mr. Roosevelt was particularly glad to make or renew the acquaintance of Mr. Balfour, Mr. Kipling, Lord Roberts, Lord Kitchener, Sir Harry Johnston, and Captain Scott. Long and delightful were the hours spent in retreat at “Chequers Court,” Mr. Arthur Lee’s country house, in conversation with thinking and doing men like these. He passed an especially happy day with Sir Edward Grey on a long tramp through the New Forest. It was noted that he had no time for expatriated American men, or American women married to English titles. Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Bernard Shaw did not meet. I wish I were free to give the Colonel’s opinion of the Englishman; it may be said, however, that it fully reciprocates the dramatist’s scorn and pity. Curiously enough, however, Mr. Roosevelt desired to meet Mr. Gilbert Chesterton.

The World’s Work, Volume XX, May to October 1910

http://platitudesundone.blogspot.ca/2012/07/theodore-roosevelt-and-gkc-again.html

The following bits are quoted on the same blog, but the source is here:

They were instantly recognizable by their initials alone—men of outsized personalities. In the Edwardian era, it would be hard to imagine two more intelligent and gifted conversationalists than Theodore Roosevelt and G.K. Chesterton. Indeed, America’s 26th president greatly admired this British man of letters—particularly Chesterton’s literary study of Charles Dickens (first published in 1906).[3] And for Christmas 1908, TR had given one of Chesterton’s most memorable collections of essays, Heretics, as a gift to his friend Captain Archibald Butt.[4]

TR and GKC first met during a dinner in London two years later—at Roosevelt’s request. One evening in the spring of 1910 they dined together in London. It is easy to imagine their maître d’ would have seen instantly there was little need to renew the candlelight at their table. Resplendent conversation supplied everything needed by way of spark and fire.

Given TR’s famously powerful presence—he was called “T. Vesuvius Roosevelt”—and people left his company needing to “wring the personality out of their clothes”—his tribute to Chesterton after their meeting was all the more telling.[5] Speaking with a friend after their dinner had concluded, the former president said Chesterton was a man of undeniable genius—a peerless font of brilliant conversation.[6]

 

Fast-forward to November 1919, and we learn more details of TR’s dinner with GKC. They were supplied by journalist Strickland Gillian in an article for The Lyceum Magazine. Confirming Slosson’s account, Gillian began: “When Colonel Roosevelt returned from his African expedition, and was given a dinner by the London journalists and authors, he was asked whom he would like to have by his side to talk with during the evening. He promptly replied, ‘Gilbert Chesterton.’” Gillian then added, “afterwards, in speaking with a friend, [Colonel Roosevelt] exclaimed, ‘What a supreme genius Chesterton is! I never met a man who could talk so brilliantly and interestingly.’”[12]

 

Nor was TR the only Roosevelt who relished Chesterton’s writing. The long poem, “Lepanto,” was a favourite of TR’s eldest daughter Alice, who could (and often did) “recite all nine stanzas at a rapid clip.” In later years, reciting this poem with her granddaughter Joanna was a source of particular delight for Alice Roosevelt Longworth—something that drew them together.

Kermit Roosevelt, the son who had accompanied TR on his celebrated African safari, also had a great appreciation for Chesterton. Years later, this led to something of a social and literary coup, for Kermit and his wife succeeded in enticing the famously reticent poet Edwin Arlington Robinson to accept a dinner invitation—something he rarely did. The occasion: a gathering in honour of GKC. The bright company of those in attendance also included Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Robinson, who was also known by his initials, EAR, was said to have become quite talkative that evening. Indeed, he told a friend afterwards that he had “talked incessantly.”[8]

Hardcore and Country

 

 

I’ve recently made a country playlist for spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/12150834968/playlist/3aUIS7Ngjhon4U7XDSTxrd

It has brought back some memories of how much bluegrass, country, and early folk got me through some hard times.

And earlier today, I also started listening to a punk/hardcore playlist I made some time ago.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/12150834968/playlist/79b17xCg9NW1ankhxAiXnV

 

WHat I realize now, thinking about the two as the day comes to an end, is that I may not have converted if not for the two. Perhaps God would have worked things out some other way, but the man I am certainly has in him two specific places reserved in his heart for hardcore and country.

Hardcore taught me to stand alone.

And country taught me to understand myself alone, to put myself in a context, a universe, an intersection of truths.

A Hermeneutic

One of continuity or rupture: which does one see when Francis and Vatican II both suggest a geographically wider body of decision makers deliberate the changes in liturgy while Sixtus V (and Pius XII via echo) suggested something quite the opposite. To quote Pius XII’s Mediator Dei:

The Church has further used her right of control over liturgical observance to protect the purity of divine worship against abuse from dangerous and imprudent innovations introduced by private individuals and particular churches. Thus it came about – during the 16th century, when usages and customs of this sort had become increasingly prevalent and exaggerated, and when private initiative in matters liturgical threatened to compromise the integrity of faith and devotion, to the great advantage of heretics and further spread of their errors – that in the year 1588, Our predecessor Sixtus V of immortal memory established the Sacred Congregation of Rites, charged with the defense of the legitimate rites of the Church and with the prohibition of any spurious innovation.[48] This body fulfills even today the official function of supervision and legislation with regard to all matters touching the sacred liturgy.

 

Happy Birthday, Anne Sexton

Small Wire

 

My faith
is a great weight
hung on a small wire,
as doth the spider
hang her baby on a thin web,
as doth the vine,
twiggy and wooden,
hold up grapes
like eyeballs,
as many angels
dance on the head of a pin.

God does not need
too much wire to keep Him there,
just a thin vein,
with blood pushing back and forth in it,
and some love.
As it has been said:
Love and a cough
cannot be concealed.
Even a small cough.
Even a small love.
So if you have only a thin wire,
God does not mind.
He will enter your hands
as easily as ten cents used to
bring forth a Coke.

Sola Papa

While Protestants have their sola scriptura, despite it being nowhere in the Bible, Catholics have their sola papa — pope alone — which guides their reasoning about what is wrong or right. This is as much a novelty as many perceptions propagated by the mass media becoming popular within the last century that were for the most part invisible, if they even existed, throughout history. That is: because so much of the pope’s actions and words can reach distant audiences, he garners a sort of cult that relies on him to express what Christians must do in the modern world.

I have had a few conversations within the past week that have confirmed this, and seen multiple articles in response to Fr. Weinandy’s publicized inquiry and request to the pope to,  yet again, clarify certain things the faithful have not understood.

I would first like to note that my confirmation saint, Pius X, specifically called for love from the faithful. In his era, modernism — the synthesis of all heresies, as he called it, fused into an attempt to modernize the faith so that it can appeal to modern minds — was abounding in the Church. He took it quite seriously and sought many reforms in the Church. He catechized children in the courtyard of the Vatican and defined as well as condemned modernism with his encyclical Pascendi Domini. He knew what he was dealing with — a rebellion — and he wanted it to be squashed.

I mention this for two reasons, one directly flowing from the other. Firstly, context for the pope’s reign must be understood. The fact that Vatican II has demarcated the beginning of an era in the Church where error seems commonplace and the faithful often have to avoid Masses or warn their friends about them. A laundry list of issues in the Church that many wish to whitewash, hoping to thereby rid of stains from Vatican II, could be reiterated here, but I will spare my audience. It is enough to say the Church has seen an increase in troubles since Vatican II and it leaves one to wonder where they came from. If Pope St. Pius X himself opposed and intended to thoroughly suffocate modernism in the church, we should expect his words and actions to reflect that. So let us consider that he taught children in a courtyard in the Vatican, instructed priests to teach from the catechism every Sunday, and declared only sacred music (Gregorian chant and polyphany) to be worthy of a place in Mass.

He was aware that in his time, “It is a common complaint, unfortunately too well founded, that there are large numbers of Christians in our own time who are entirely ignorant of those truths necessary for salvation.” He did not simply suggest there are those in need of pastoral outreach, but he went further and offered a reason why that is: because they don’t know what it takes for their soul to be saved.

He wanted the faithful to be instructed, therefore, with no excuses abiding.

“There is too much preaching and too little teaching. Put aside these flowery and elaborate discourses, and preach to the people plainly and simply on the eternal truths of faith and on the teaching of the Gospel. Think of the good of souls rather than of the impression you are making.”

He held no illusions about what the consequences of this kind of twaddle substituted for catechesis and proper instruction:

“When we consider the forces, knowledge, and supernatural virtues which are necessary to establish the Christian City, and the sufferings of millions of martyrs, and the light given by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the self-sacrifice of all the heroes of charity, and a powerful hierarchy ordained in heaven, and the streams of Divine Grace – the whole having been built up, bound together, and impregnated by the life and spirit of Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, the Word made man – when we think, I say, of all this, it is frightening to behold new apostles eagerly attempting to do better by a common interchange of vague idealism and civic virtues. What are they going to produce? What is to come of this collaboration? A mere verbal and chimerical construction in which we shall see, glowing in a jumble, and in seductive confusion, the words Liberty, Justice, Fraternity, Love, Equality, and human exultation, all resting upon an ill-understood human dignity.”
Because he understood that the modernists were trying to alter the Church’s teachings, he warned that “he who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honour God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith.” From his fidelity to the Church’s teachings flowed his great respect for tradition and what had been handed to him. In his evaluation, Modernists “exercise all their ingenuity in diminishing the force and falsifying the character of tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight.”
Having no patience for these false Catholics, he demanded clergy to “thwart such proud men, to employ them only in the lowest and obscurest offices; the higher they try to rise, the lower let them be placed, so that their lowly position may deprive them of the power of causing damage.” Who would blame him? He rightly understood what could be described as the trajectory of the West since the Reformation: “The first step in this direction was taken by Protestantism; the second is made by Modernism; the next will plunge headlong into atheism.”
I hope it has been clear that Pope St. Pius X spoke on the authority of his office because he felt a deep pang at the sight of a prospect of the faithful being mostly lost to sin, essentially his own office being disregarded and his own responsibility unfulfilled. With foresight he spoke of his mission and its purpose for being iterated at that time:
“Our Apostolic Mandate requires from Us that We watch over the purity of the Faith and the integrity of Catholic discipline. It requires from Us that We protect the faithful from evil and error; especially so when evil and error are presented in dynamic language which, concealing vague notions and ambiguous expressions with emotional and high-sounding words, is likely to set ablaze the hearts of men in pursuit of ideals which, whilst attractive, are nonetheless nefarious.”
So when he says “Tradition is represented by religious authority”, it is because the tradition comes from a mandate from God and must be safeguarded at all times.
But not everyone understands this, apropos my second point. The authority of the pope is invoked selectively. Just last week, Scot Eric Alt posted on Facebook a quotation from St. Pius X in particular which would afford support for Pope Francis’s actions: “When we love the pope, we do not say that he has not spoken clearly enough.” He then links an article from Rorate and neglects to provide any context at all. I hope the above will suffice as context, however. Many do not recognize the fact that, as I’ve mentioned, tradition simply means what is handed on to a subsequent generation. The authority of the pope hinges upon this. That is why we say the pope cannot teach heresy. Heresy is a direct negation of the tradition handed on. If a Catholic taught what Protestants teach about Mary, what others believe about the Eucharist, what Hindus believe about the after life, we would be borrowing from their traditions and not our own. The integrity of the Faith depends on maintaining continuity between the past and the future, which is tradition.
It is not clear that we are, however. Instead, it is clear that many — and I don’t know if it is most: so many Catholics don’t even attend Mass, many are just going to Mass to fulfill and obligation or have first communion or for other reasons — stow all their trust regarding what Our tradition encompasses in the pope. Sola papa is the common interpretation of the magisterium and Church teachings.
Earlier this week, two friends of mine that I highly respect — and trust to likely have a more informed faith than me in many areas — basically said that whatever the pope and those in the hierarchy who follow him do is right. I am not equivocating. To one friend I tried to stress that Lefebvre viewed the Church to be in a crisis — a point, with, however, some equivocating, pope apologists will admit — as well as the fact that he was simply handing on the faith tradition granted to him, but all that was said is that whatever the Church is doing at the moment, led by the pope, we must do. With another friend, I have been discussing Fr. Weinandy’s letter and forced resignation. When I took to a Socratic method for questioning why the pope should be followed, all I got was “because he’s the pope.” Nothing more. The same friend quoted the following from St. Pius X “To debate and criticize the wishes of the pope…[does] scandal to the good and great damage to souls.” Once again there is no admission of any differences in the contexts of Pius X and Francis’s pontificates.
Katie van Schaijik criticizes the letter, starting with a clarification all of Francis’s Satellite Swiss Guard suggests: “The reverence (which is something more than respect) we owe the Pope is not to his office—not to a position or a set of functions—but to a person, the person of the Holy Father.” This is her response to Fr. Weinandy beginning his letter by saying
“I write this letter with love for the Church and sincere respect for your office. You are the Vicar of Christ on earth, the shepherd of his flock, the successor to St. Peter and so the rock upon which Christ will build his Church. All Catholics, clergy and laity alike, are to look to you with filial loyalty and obedience grounded in truth. The Church turns to you in a spirit of faith, with the hope that you will guide her in love.
She claims “Fr. Weinandy begins by professing his respect for the Pope’s office, and immediately a red flag goes up for me.” One word at the end of one sentence from the entire first paragraph that speaks of a person invested with the highest authority in the Church brings into sight a red flag. I’m not sure I understand that level of caution being confirmed that early on unless one’s bias weren’t subdued by the gravitas of charity. But charity is never important for the prideful or those taken by the certitude that they are not only without error, but that their incapable of being wrong.
The bias continues: “Setting aside its shocking brazenness (who is he to lecture the Vicar of Christ?!), is this a just criticism? It doesn’t seem so to me. I don’t hear Pope Francis demeaning doctrine, only rebuking the doctrinaire.” First of all, I don’t know how anyone, again, could read Weinandy’s letter and take it to be a lecture. As I have mentioned to friends, I myself thought it was too nice a letter concerning the subject. But it is what it is, and a lecture it definitely is not. Secondly, doctrinaire’s are not rebuked by vagueries. They are simply confused by them, which is precisely what’s been going on, which is precisely why these apparently heterodox and condemned responses to Amoris are wrought with questions and admitted deference to the pope. They are asking to be led. Call it the dumbness of a lamb. I gladly admit such an idiocy to be ripe in me — and often. But for the love of the Lord, take these men at their word: perhaps they are genuinely concerned and need just as much mercy and compassion as homosexuals, immigrants, and all the other marginalized groups do — Lord knows if they are full of sin as so many progressives suggest, it would only benefit their soul (and by extension, amply benefit the souls entrusted to their guidance).
Later, Schaijik  warns of how ” Experts in law and doctrine are naturally inclined to exaggerate the importance of doctrine and law. They are inclined to become disengaged from the concrete and individual and to prefer the abstract and general. It’s a widespread, deep and serious problem; the Holy Father is right to warn us against it.” (Her emphasis.) This is a charge that bloomed with Francis speaking of rigorism and rigidity in the Church. It’s a full blown apple tree now, its fruit hanging ripe for the taking and being taken all the time. I will admit there is a tendency for elites in any field of knowledge to become divested of real world experience. But such a worthless claim cannot be taken otherwise when the same speaker says the “chronic confusion” Weindandy speaks of isn’t real because “when I look around it seems to me that it’s not the faithful generally who are confused and uneasy, but only a particular (and very small) set of the faithful, vis. the doctrinely-focused conservative set.” My experience has been quite otherwise, and the same goes for the cardinals behind the dubia, those who signed the filial correction, and even Fr. Weinandy who said he has “received many positive and encouraging notes from theologians, priests, and lay people.”  I should like to know how those marching on the anniversary of Summorum Pontificum feel as well. One might have to take some time to get a proper sample size relative to the whole. As Joseph Shaw says, those pictured were just the vanguard, those leading the way.
Schaijik ends with a few an equivalence she doesn’t recognize and a contradiction. Her reaction to the letter, that she did not finish reading, “wasn’t ‘How dare a priest criticize the Holy Father!’ rather it was, ‘Fr. Weinandy has completely misunderstood Pope Francis, and he’s hurting the Church by publicizing his misunderstanding.’ I understand the distinction, but there is no way to begin with the latter and not arrive at the former. At least I haven’t seen a papal apologist accomplish as much.
Then this: “Attacks like his do harm because they foster fear and mistrust; they prevent us opening our hearts and minds to what ‘the Spirit is saying to the churches’ through the person of our Holy Father.” Attacks like Fr. Weinandy’s do harm because they foster fear and mistrust, but here, because I am in agreement with the person of our Holy Father, I’d like to foster your fear that some traditionalists are fostering fear and mistrust and therefore dividing the Church. Honestly, what gives? Plain speech is a plain rarity now.
Another issue that isn’t talked about much when it comes to pope apologists is how they inadvertently make the point that traditionalists are right. They often, as Msgr. John Strynkowski does, insist on greater clarity — “Unless you are willing to name …”; ” …it would have been more responsible to specify…” — even as they are rebuking another for humbly requesting the same from the pope. But unbeknownst to the instructor is their own error.
I came to the Church for Her unfettered honesty, the clear notion made amply visible in the liturgy, the Douay-Rheims Bible, the prayers in Mass and apart of other devotionals, the artwork and icons, the cross as a throne that didn’t hide Our King. All of it gave me the impression that, as Augustine said, “God does not need my lie.” So I have done my best to be more honest with God, myself, and others. I admit my dislike for a lot of what is happening in the Church is more or less personal, for it is based on having experienced similar ideas — I almost said ideologies — outside of the Church. That is one reason I have a nagging response to many liberals and progressives which I as of yet have not uttered to any of them: if you want mercy, compassion, and joy without any hint of judgement (or should I say cross?), then you can find it in resplendently outside of the Church. Ergo, when Catholics talk about these things, it takes every last fiber in me to not completely withdraw from the labor of taking them seriously.
When I hear Francis talk about these things, when he emphasizes them over tradition, building virtue, preparing one’s self for reception of the Holy Eucharist, examining our conscience and finding truth outside of the world’s ideologies — well, then I struggle to take my faith seriously. Those who defend him, I completely understand, but at a certain point it ceases to be the right thing to do. God does not need our lie, and neither does the pope.
Here are some suggested readings on what’s happened until now with this situation.
Others are already in the article: