Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"On the number of sins beyond which God pardons no more"

 "Sinners in Hell," Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello (Italy,12th century)

The following is taken from a sermon of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church, for the First Sunday of Lent:

"St. Basil, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and other fathers, teach, that, as God ... has fixed for each person the number of the days of his life, and the degrees of health and talent which he will give him, so he has also determined for each the number of sins which he will pardon; and when this number is completed, he will pardon no more . . . .God is ready to heal those who sincerely wish to amend their lives, but cannot take pity on the obstinate sinner. . . .You say: I am young: there are many who have committed more sins than I have.  But is God on that account obliged to wait for your repentance if you offend him? . . . . You must, then, tremble at the thought of committing a single mortal sin, particularly if you have already been guilty of mortal sins."

St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us.

Are these the shadows of the things that will be?

Sister Lynn Smith presides over, hmm, what shall we call it?

Or are they shadows of things that may be, only?  I prefer to think they are merely the shadows of what might have been, but, thank God, never will be.   Ex-nuns say Mass at Holy Wisdom monastery in Wisconsin.   Here's what goes on, and here are photos.  

An observation: my ear ring dictum applies.  
Least surprising fact: they boast that their church is the greenest in Wisconsin (or something).

UPDATE:  These former Benedictine nuns were the last of their congregation, and deeded the congregation's property to themselves before being dispensed from their vows.

St. Benedict, pray for us.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Did King Abgar get a letter from Jesus?

Abgar V of Osrene with Holy Face of Edessa

There is a legend, credited mainly in the East, that while residing in Jerusalem Jesus received a letter from King Abgar V of Osrene, and that Jesus wrote back to King Abgar.   Moreover, the correspondence of King Abgar and Jesus has been preserved.  Whether the correspondence is authentic or not is, of course, a different matter.  Many other traditions surround King Abgar, including one that depicts King Abgar as the original recipient of the "Holy Face of Edessa" icon.  King Abgar's portrait even appears on the Armenian 100,000 dram banknote. More here (h/t Dr. Finaldicus Serenissimus).

Monday, February 27, 2012

NYT and WaPo demonstrate when racism, sexism and ageism are ok

 Here's your problem folks - he's white, male and 60

When they're directed at white males, course.  Both papers (click here for NYT; here for WaPo) pronounce the Oscars dull, and attribute this to the predominant race, sex and average age of Academy members (white, male and 62, btw).    Right.  As if the members of the Academy shared the worldview of grey-haired pharmacists from Nebraska purely by virtue of being the same race, sex and age.  Hollywood has been producing boring, soulless dreck for a long time, but when it's finally clear to all that Hollywood's lost its knack and the magic is gone, the solution is obvious: blame the old white males!

Strange how the free, open, inquiring minds of our elite opinion leaders so often follow precisely the same course.  Perhaps they were consulting the same press release.

RELATED:  Ben and Jerry's demonstrate what's not okay (h/t EBL). 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dick Cavett delivers update on his distemper

Nobody's laughing with Mr. Cavett these days, least of all Mr. Cavett

Things that annoy Dick Cavett  include Rick Santorum (mainly for his looks), Church teaching on contraception, homeschoolers, the John Birch Society, and his distant relatives.  None of this is remotely news, except perhaps to Cavett's distant relatives.  The humor quotient is even lower than the news quotient.

I've heard comics are the unhappiest people in showbiz.  Dick Cavett shows they only get worse as they grow old.

Friday, February 24, 2012

They're not that kind of nuns

Thinkprogress, the George Soros funded website, used the following photos to illustrate its story regarding the Supreme Court amicus curiae brief in support of Obamacare recently filed by 21 religious sisters:

It seemed to me unlikely that the sisters who filed the amicus brief resembled the sisters in Thinkprogress's photos, so I looked them up.  Here they are.  Notice any differences?

Margaret Byrne, CSJP

Simone Campbell, SSS
Janice Cebula, OSF

Nancy Conway, CSJ

Jacquelyn Doepker, OSF (foreground)

Gemma Doll, OP

Rose Mary Dowling, FSM

Patricia Farrell, OSF

Mary Genino, RSHM

Gladys Guenther, SHF

Beatrice Haines, OLVM (far right)

Mary Ellen Holohan, SNJM (standing, right)

Gloria Marie Jones, OP (fourth from left)

Attracta Kelly, OP

Patricia McDermott, RSM

Joan Mumaw, IHM

Mary Pellegrino, CSJ (left)

Mary Rehmann, CHM (left)

Theresa Sandok, OSM (right)

Nancy Schreck, OSF (right)

Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM (center)

For one thing, my dictum concerning earring dangliness appears to apply (to those who are wearing earrings).

For another, as the Thinkprogress people seem to grasp instinctively, political cover for Obamacare is provided best by the kind of religious sisters who wear habits.  Unfortunately for Obamacare partisans, that's not the kind of religious sister who filed the amicus brief.   So the Thinkprogress people resolved their dilemma by telling a bit of a lie.

Atheists say the darndest things

 Richard Dawkins - you never know what he'll say next

Richard Dawkins, world famous atheist, now says he's not sure God doesn't exist.  Since that's the one thing atheists really must be sure about, Dawkins nowadays prefers to describe himself as an agnostic.   Yet one rather doubts Dawkins would have achieved world wide fame by advocating mere agnosticism all these years.

Dawkins goes on to note in passing that the Catholic Church takes a literal view of Genesis.  This has not been the case since at least the time of St. Augustine of Hippo.   It is the sort of thing educated persons who debate religious points for a living ought to be expected to know, but, alas, even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dawkins' conversational partner, appears equally ignorant on this point.

Luckily for Dawson, one of the nice things about being a world famous quondam atheist is that you don't have to be consistent on fundamental questions.  You don't even have to know what you're talking about.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Plenary Indulgence Alert

"Crucifixion" George Rouault

A plenary indulgence is available to the faithful who, on Fridays during Lent, piously recite the prayer En ego, o bone et dulcissime Iesu, before an image of the Crucified Jesus Christ after communion.  Rorate Caeli has more here.

"The Church does not exist for her own sake"

Pope Benedict seated beneath Bernini's "Chair of St. Peter"

An excerpt from Pope Benedict's marvelous homily for the feast of St. Peter's Chair:

"...the Church herself is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where he comes towards our world. The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above. The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital “O”, to shine through her – the One from whom she comes and to whom she leads. The Church is the place where God “reaches” us and where we “set off” towards him: she has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable."

You can read the whole homily here (h/t New Liturgical Movement).

St. Peter, pray for us.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Not surprisingly, the plane was headed to Houston

 Situation resolved, Texas style

Every man on plane assists stewardesses in subduing passenger shouting "Allah is great!"

A sensible editorial about Ash Wednesday from an unlikely source

Benedict getting his ashes, in 2011

England's left wing Guardian.   Naturally, many commenters are outraged.

The decline of God and the rise of the Artist

 Paul Oskar Kristeller

Here is Paul Oskar Kristeller (1905 AD -1999 AD), the renowned Columbia University philosophy professor, writing in 1983 on artists and "creativity:"

"The real turning point in Western thinking on what we now call "creativity" came in the eighteenth century . . . .  For the first time, the term "creative" was applied not only to God but also to the human artist, and a whole new vocabulary was developed to characterize the artist and his activity . . . . The artist was guided no longer by reason or by rules but by feeling and sentiment, intuition and imagination; he produced what was novel and original, and at the point of his highest achievement he was a genius.  In the nineteeenth century, this attitude became pervasive, and we might note with surprise that an age that found it difficult to believe that God created the world out of nothing apparently had no difficulty in believing that the human artist would create his work out of nothing."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Traditionalist for Lourdes

 Our Lady of Lourdes

Can't be bad.  Sandro Magister has more here.

Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus

St. Therese of Lisieux with picture of Holy Face of Jesus

In 1958, Pope Pius XII decreed that the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday be kept as the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus.  With the reform of the liturgy, this feast generally passes unobserved except in places where the usus antiquior is popular.  St. Therese of Lisieux and Blessed Pope John Paul II, among many others, had an ardent devotion to the Holy Face.  The beloved monastery where we used to attend Novus Ordo Mass in Latin (until storm damage forced the chapel to be closed) is named for the Holy Face.  "A Reluctant Sinner" has much more on the Feast of the Holy Face here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dom Gueranger on Prayer and Alms during Lent

Lent will be upon us very soon.  From his 15 volume treatise, "The Liturgical Year,"  here is Dom Gueranger (1805 AD - 1875 AD), abbot of Solesmes, on Lent:

[T]he courageous observance of the Church’s precept of Fasting and Abstaining during Lent must be accompanied by those two other eminently good works, to which God so frequently urges us in the Scripture: Prayer and Alms-deeds. Just as under the term Fasting the Church comprises all kinds of mortification; so under the word Prayer, she includes all those exercises of piety whereby the soul holds intercourse with her God. More frequent attendance at the services of the Church, assisting daily at Mass, spiritual reading, meditation upon eternal truths and the Passion, hearing sermons, and, above all, the approaching the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, - these are the chief means whereby the Faithful should offer to God the homage of Prayer, during this holy Season.
Almsdeeds comprise all the works of mercy to our neighbour, and are unanimously recommended by the Holy Doctors of the Church, as being the necessary complement of Fasting and Prayer during Lent. God has made it a law, to which he has graciously bound himself, - that charity shown towards our fellow-creatures, with the intention of pleasing our Creator, shall be rewarded as though it were done to Himself. How vividly this brings before us the reality and sacredness of the tie, which he would have to exist between all men! Such, indeed, is its necessity, that our Heavenly Father will not accept the love of any heart that refuses to show mercy: but, on the other hand, he accepts, as genuine and as done to himself, the charity of every Christian, who, by a work of mercy shown to a fellow-man, is really acknowledging and honouring that sublime union, which makes all men to be one family, with God as its Father. Hence it is, that Alms-deeds, done with this intention, are not merely acts of human kindness, but are raised to the dignity of acts of religion, which have God for their direct object, and have the power of appeasing his Divine Justice.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Is Stalin in Hell?

"It's always easy to criticize" *

As the ruthless murderer of millions, there is no question Stalin merited being consigned netherward.   Moreover, as his daughter Svetlana's recollection of the dictator's death agony makes clear, Stalin himself both feared and raged against this judgment.  Svetlana recently died, after becoming a Catholic in recent years.   Francis Philips has more here.

*From the silliest defense of Stalin ever, at Workers of the World

Thursday, February 16, 2012


The reform of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council dropped Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays from the calendar.  These had formerly marked the pre-Lenten period of Shrovetide.  As Ash Wednesday is almost upon us, we are nearly at the end of this discontinued liturgical season.  From his fifteen volume work, "The Liturgical Year", here is Dom GuĂ©ranger, abbot of Solesmes from 1837-1875, on Shrovetide:

Let us now meditate on the doctrine hid under the symbols of her Liturgy. And first, let us listen to St. Augustine, who thus gives us the clue to the whole of our Season’s mysteries. “There are two times,” says the Holy Doctor: “one which is now, and is spent in the temptations and tribulations of this life; the other which shall be then, and shall be spent in eternal security and joy. In figure of these, we celebrate two periods: the time ‘before Easter’ and the time ‘after Easter.’ That which is ‘before Easter,’ signifies the sorrow of this present life; that which is ‘after Easter,’ the blessedness of our future state. * *  Hence it is, that we spend the first in fasting and prayer; and in the second, we give up our fasting, and give ourselves to praise.” [Enarrations; Psalm clviii.]

St. Augustine, pray for us.