Category Archives: The Cost of Discipleship


I just finished reading a book. I recommend it to you, especially, to read during these forty days (not too many of which are left…) The nice fellow who wrote an introduction to the book said: “The thinkers examined in this book have all grown unbearably uncomfortable with the current metaphysical arrangements. Each reimagines the Judeo-Christian epic in global, transcultural, and macrohistorical terms and in the process refigures our relationship to God and our place in the cosmos.” (Goodness! One of the ways to know you are quoting from a brainy tome these days is to look at what your spell-checker doesn’t know.)

Father O’Sullivan, may he rest in peace, used to recommend me to the care and protection of Our Lady of Divine Discontent when as a young man I would sometimes sit with him and grumble about structures and strictures, position and privilege…and stupidity. He liked a letter I wrote which was published in my college newspaper; and smiled at me.

In that letter I had grumbled about buildings and busyness, rules and rites, walls and wished for no walls at all before finishing by writing: “I would have no church at all.”

Along with one of my teachers the long suffering priest said, “You are young, Peter.”

Now I know that without walls there is no way to have windows to open.  Or, to have windows to break.  Without walls what use is a portico?

Towards the very end of his book (proof that I read that far) the author writes about something he calls “ontological dissent”, and quotes some fellow who goes on a bit about “rules” of one kind or another which he he uses to argue that we should finally consent to only one rule: “the rule of the way of the world.”

Fine, I supposed.  “What is that?”

The author doesn’t say.  What he does say is this:  “The thinkers here would undoubtedly agree, but they would point out that there is another rule: the Rule of St. Benedict.  And that in the monastic life, we see a synthesis of distributist economics combined with a metahistorical critique.”  He could have saved the jawbreaker words and simply said “it’s common sense.)

My spellchecker needs a check-up.

Let me know if you would be interested in reading the book, and I will tell you its name.  There are no pictures.

The New Dhimmitude

A Reflection on an Article by R.R. Reno

“When people talk about religion in America they almost always mean
Christianity. The desire of many on the left to restrict religious freedom
reflects their commitment to limiting the influence of Christianity over
American society, especially in the area of sexual morality, which has
become a preoccupation of contemporary liberalism.

Today elite institutions can be relied upon to provide anto-christian
propaganda. Steven Pinker and Stephen Greenblatt at Harvard publish books
that show how Christianity pretty much ruined, and ruins, everything, as
Christopher Hitchens put it so bluntly. The major presses put out books by
scholars like Elaine Pagels at Princeton that argue that Christianity is for
the most part an invention of power hungry bishops who suppressed the
genuine diversity and spiritual richness of early followers of Jesus.
Journalists like Garry Wills reprocess and reassemble this sort of
scholarship to show that Christianity is a tissue of lies. They can count
on the New York Times to praise their books.

We can dispute the accuracy of these works, and generally there’s a great
deal to be criticized on scholarly grounds. This is necessary, but unlikely
to be effective in altering the influence of someone like Greenblatt, whose
recent book The Swerve was panned by scholars but nevertheless received the
National Book Award for nonfiction. That’s not surprising, because he and
others serve an important ideological purpose. Many liberals today want
Christianity to be discredited, because Christianity and Christians are in
the way. This is clearest in fights over abortion and gay marriage, but we
can see it elsewhere.

We’re in the way of medical research unrestricted by moral concerns about
the use of fetal tissue. We’re in the way of new reproductive technologies
and genetic experimentation. We’re in the way of doctor-assisted suicide.
In other words, we’re in the way of liquifying traditional moral limits so
that they can be reconstructed to accord with the desires and needs of the
powerful people who don’t like being hindered.”
R.R. Reno, “The New Dhimmitude”, First Things, April, 2013, p.5

How come I took the time to type this and then send it to you? Well, I was
struck by Reno’s mention of this guy Garry Wills, who has only recently
risen above the horizon for me. He was once in a Jesuit seminary. When I
was a kid he would have been called a “failed priest”. He was recently
praised, and his ideas and writing applauded in all the right places, and
among all the “smart” people; the ones for whom the inside of a church is
most likely only viewed when it has become the venue for a nice evening of
music, and then praised for its acoustics. But others too have been
generous in their praise of the man, and see merit in his ideas, and hope
for a better day which they are sure will come if things were just a little
bit easier; only just a little bit, after all.

Many of those who write books, folks like Pagels and Greenblatt, would have
been called what they are years ago too, heretics, and not scholars, they
and their works condemned. Certainly, what Reno mentions, here, as being
the reason for their ascendancy may strike some who read this as being just
a little paranoid. I mean who, really is in favor of creating human animal
chimerae? They would be the fools who rush in where angels fear to tread,
the “useful idiots” Vladimir Ilyich loved so much.

Who is in favor of such wild and dangerous science, such crazy
experimentation with the human race? Very crudely, Hitler’s Third Reich
was, and millions thought nothing of it. They were filthy Jews, Poles,
Russians, Gypsies, subhumans all whose sacrifice in the name of science was
merely the moral equivalent of mixing reagents for a chemical reaction; if
morality is a term that applies to anything the Nazis did except in the
negative. Today, I could probably produce a rather impressive list of
“scientists” who are embarked on the same Mengelean madness, and of their
supporters in the wide world from a short Google search. We know how many
millions just “love” reproductive rights. We have a president who probably
has a vigil light before a picture of Margaret Sanger on his bedroom wall.
Is he not powerful? And, has he not been more than ready to show in his
actions that Christianity, and particularly the Catholic Church, is “in the
way” ?

Reno’s is a piece of prophecy, a sort of warning of what is coming. And, it
doesn’t look good. He ends on a hopeful note, in a minor key, a paragraph
or two about a faithful remnant which he precedes by thise ominous words:
“…I think many powerful forces in America would like to impose a soft but
real dhimmitude upon religious people, especially Christians, that severely
limits the public influence of religion. To some degree, they want to do so
by legal means. But the larger project involves cultural intimidation.”

“Church? Oh, yes, ” she said,  “I went to church a couple of months ago, when Tony and Tina got married. It was a scream! You should really see it. Very campy.”

(This appeared in a slightly altered form on the Facebook page of The Christian Book Corner.  Visit them for great discounts on good books and other things.)

Do Ya Think?

Yesterday I read a short article in a British paper: The Telegraph.  The article was a report on a study conducted on the life, and the prospects for life, of Christianity in the Middle East.  Those few of you still familiar with the word, Christianity, comfortable in its presence, inclined to use it favorably and with some affection and loving attachment will know what I have reference to.  For the growing majority of people whose understanding of and connection with the word and its meaning is arguably much less than their knowledge of the leading actors in The Walking Dead or the line on next week’s NFL games let me try to place it for you; to contextualize it.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day.  You will immediately see there is a similarity between the words Christianity and Christmas.  I will not belabor the thing, but simply point out that the first syllable is, itself, a word: Christ.  And the word signifies a man.  Tomorrow is, despite the amazing amount of evidence to the contrary, the celebration of the birthday of that man, the annual observance of that event by the dwindling few who happen to believe in the man and the stories told about him; what he said and did.  Simply put that is the astounding fact that Christ is at one and the same time God incarnate and the savior of the World and a man “born in time, born of a virgin.”  No, I mean it, really.  (Actually His name is Jesus, and Christ is, more or less, a title.)  I happily count myself among the remnant who think this way about Jesus Christ; that He is truly God and truly Man.  And, that is just the beginning of the amazing facts about Him.  But, let us not get ourselves involved in that.

For those who know it is not necessary to do so; for the rest, they will be made aware sooner of later, here or there.

The prognosis is not good.  That is, the prognosis for Christianity, that system of beliefs and practice, that way of living that grew from the testimony of some few people who knew and lived with this man Jesus about what he did and said so many years ago in Palestine, in the Middle East.  It is dying, they say in The Telegraph; dying in the place where it was born and where it has lived longest.  The prognosis for the “rest” I have reference to above; that they will be made aware of certain “amazing facts” at some time is certain: they will.

The study reported on in The Telegraph did provide a cause for the imminent demise of Christianity in its homeland, may it rest in peace.  Militant Islam (MI) is infecting Christianity in the Middle East, and the disease, so says the article, is likely to cause its quick death.  “Sic transit gloria coeli et terra” to corrupt a phrase.

How is this being accomplished, and how, better yet, is it so being done right under the eagle eyes of our many media snoops?  Does no one have any idea except some old rag in Blighty? And, finally, why have not those in powerful places and positions, guardians of freedoms, protectors of widows and orphans, weak and underprivileged the world over raised even an eyebrow at this rather depressing (to say the least) bit of news?  Well, I have my ideas about who might have gathered a rumor here and there, and why they haven’t whispered a word, but then, I am a suspicious type.  I’ll leave it to more rational folks to explain why the imminent death of Christianity in the land of its birth means simply nothing here in the West which owes simply everything to it.

What interests me, just as much, is this little fact; call it a sidebar.  It, too, will never appear anywhere soon.  Maybe it is simply too boring?  That fact is this: 150,000 Christians a year are killed for being Christians.  What, some editor might reasonably ponder is newsworthy about that, or a burnt village in Africa when compared to Our Dear Leader bodysurfing in Hawaii?  Many, many more are imprisoned without trial, little girls raped, women raped, churches blown up or burned to the ground, homes burned, villages burned, neighborhoods attacked by armed fanatics and , well, sad to say, more schoolchildren, murdered in Muslim countries simply because they are Christian than are murdered by our own madmen.  Again, one wonders about the silence, the the lack of interest.

Tertullian was an early Christian Father, a theologian whose work helped form what was becoming Christianity.  He was from Carthage, part of the Middle Eastern world where Christianity is now dying of that disease called MI, also known to be fatal to Ambassadors and people in tall buildings in places like New York City.  Among other things he is famous for having said is this, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.”  Now that might scare a good atheist or modern day secularist in a corner office somewhere.

And now, before I leave you to turn on your Santa Claus lights, your reindeer with their red noses, your Frosty the Snowmen in their hats, to fill your living rooms with wrapping paper and your bellies with rich foods and rare vintages, and to taste deeply all of the other signs of our winter holiday, may I ask you to wonder this.  Will there be more to mourn over the death of the last winged cardinal at your feeder or the death of the last Christian once from some place west of the Indus and east of Eden?  I do not think so, because you will not know.  Few are those in any position to let you know who hazard saying a word about it.  Fewer still are those who think anything should be done.  Many, I suspect rather hope that nothing will be done.  Ever.

We are being flooded with the blood and the bodies of the dying victims of militant Islam as the story in The Telegraph has it.  The dead are the seed.  The raped and beaten and dispossessed are the soil, the field and the planting where will grow anew the the fruit of their sacrifice.  It has suddenly occurred to me that “they” are afraid of what this way comes when , some day, the once and future Christianity appears.  I can think of no other reason for such a black curtain over this news, a holocaust across a third of the world.  As Special Agent Gibbs often says, “Do ya think?”

Merry Christmas!


He has let the other shoe drop.  BOOM!  It hit the floor and knocked loose a few chunks of plaster on me down here just sitting quietly watching nothing on one of the 500 available channels from All Silliness All the Time Satellite Direct to Me Anywhere.  (I swear that it’ll only be a few years before some brilliant soul will be able to come up with a hard wire TV feed right into the brain..and only a few years after that the Supremes will rule that TV brain feeds are a a Constitutional Right protected under the First Amendment, and the surgery necessary to get one is allowable for free under our Universal Cradle to Grave…if you can get to the first and avoid the second long enough…Medical Care.)

And, while we are on the subject of Constitutional Rights, the dropped shoe above?  That was all about The Great and Hopeful Ozbama saying he’s OK with guys marrying guys and girls marrying girls.  I guess I’m OK with it, too, if that’s all there is to it.

I mean, I remember when we were little kids my sister sometimes used to marry her dolls to each other, and they were only dolls.  And don’t comic book characters get married?  They don’t even exist except in cartoons.  I think Bugs Bunny even got married once.  Micky and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Dagwood and Blondie.  Those aren’t real folks having real marriages.  It’s all make believe.

I remember when I married Gloria Smith.  I think I was four.  We kissed, made a mud pie wedding cake and then my mother called me in for supper.  I never even got to say, “I’m home, Honey.  What’s for supper.”

That time.  The next time we got married, we did it a little earlier so I could go to work.  “What do I do now?”  “You go to work silly.  Go outside and wait until it’s time to come home.”  I went outside and me and Eddie Haviland went looking for salamanders down by the railroad tracks in the drainage ditch.  I never came home, never did get to say my line.  For all I know we may still be married.

Don’t get me wrong,  I’m not saying that Fred and Bob, Donna and Lobelia, aren’t real.  I’m not even hinting that what they want to do is merely imitate folks like Michelle and Obama, and play grown up.  No, they love each other with great devotion and tenderness, and would like such things as joint ownership, joint tax returns and medical insurance.  But most of all they want to be known as Mr. and, umm, well, as a couple.  Which, I think is just fine.  That horse has left the barn, anyway.

Let them have the word. After all!  It’s only a word, for heaven’s sake. Well, it’s several words, at least; a noun, a verb, an adjective; several parts of grammar: subject, object, predicate, modifier. Nothing more. Right? So, why not give them the use of the word and come up with something else, some nice other word or term? Something that describes the Life Long Covenantal Spousal Relationship Between Persons of the Opposite Sex Which Is the Only Human Relationship Open to Bearing Children Naturally and Raising Them Within the Safety and Security of a Traditional Human Family Where Both Spouses Willingly Accept Traditional and Natural Roles of Nurturing and Support,  Cooperate in the Education of Their Children and Vow to Love, Honor and Obey Each Other, Forsaking All Others Until Death Parts Them Tens of Years Hence, God Willing. I know it’s a big word, but if someone can come up with a shorter one, maybe after a sufficiently brief evolution we can get a Presidential endorsement of it and get over this silliness.

I did say silliness, didn’t I.  Not that I really meant it, because I know that the people who would like to see a re-definition of marriage are not at all of the same mind about it as I might be.  They are dead serious about it; seize the moment, take no prisoners serious.  Which is why I am all in favor of letting them have that word for their very own, and any others they want to go along with it.

If , as I said before, if that is all there is to it.  About that, though, I wonder.

I’ll let others argue about what marriage should be, or point out that it can’t be whatever we want it to be because.  I ain’t smart enough.  But this scares me:

About five years ago I went to ameeting in my home town.  New Hampshire was considering a law to allow same ses marriages, and a committee was formed to travel the state and gather public input.  One of the people on the film, David Parker came and offered his testimony about what was happening in Massachusetts, and how he had been jailed for not wanting it to happen to his children.

That’s the part that scares me.  If it’s only about words, who cares.  If it’s about more than that, I begin to worry, and I think you should,



A Letter to a Friend

Someone recently communicated with me urging on me their understanding of this pas de deux between Holy Mother Church and Uncle Sugar’s current mob in DC over whether or not it would be right and just, proper and helpful toward salvation for the latter organization to insist that the former one knuckle under and forget all this drama about rights of conscience and freedom of religion, and concentrate simply of ponying up the money simple folks need for recently defined simple medical procedures, medications and/or apparatuses.  He took the road more traveled.  Below I try to tell him why I will not.

Have I made it simple enough for him?

Dear “N”,

It is simple, actually.  Pay attention, here.

Let us say that you  have a little business, and the business has three employees.  Let us say further that the government has recently passed a law that anyone who is an employer (you) has to buy health insurance for their employee(s).  That would be the fellow working for you, Billy Bucketbellie.  Still further, let us say that the law requiring you to buy that insurance also states that cosmetic plastic surgery (Nips and Tucks, botox in the butt, nose jobs, etc., even such things as multiple piercings and outlandish tattoos in strange places) are legitimate treatments for legitimate medical problems for the purposes of this new law (We will call the whole thing Reconstructive Health, which term was born as the twin of the Supreme Court decision granting to everyone everywhere their Reconstructive Rights), such that if someone has a skinny butt or a droopy neck and they don’t want it, they have every right to get it taken care of.  And let us say that such Reconstructive Health procedures will be provided absolutely cost free  under the new government ordered and employer paid for health plans that you, thee employer now must get for your employee(s).  There will be no charge to anyone at any time if they want to avail themselves of Reconstructive Health treatments or devices (push up bras are covered…even for men) including no co-pay at the providers office.

It is odd this, is it not?  I mean heart disease, cancer, diabetes and bee sting allergies will all require at least co-payments, but  Reconstructive Health  is provided absolutely cost free.  But, the  Reconstructive Health industry, by the way, is known to have a very strong lobby, and Congress, all of Washington DC is filled with a lot of pierced and tattooed people and people who know them.  Anyway, I continue.

Let us say that you and your family are  True Believers , and what you are true believers of is the  Church of the Original Form .  You believe that the body you were born into the world with is the one God wanted you to have; that since God is all knowing and all good, in His Divine Wisdom he gave you the one body in all eternity that most perfectly fits His image in you and for you, and is a reflection of His Mighty Power and Love to all the world.  Let us say that.  Finally let us say that one of the most sacred doctrines and dogmas of the COF and its believers is that because of this belief in the originality and uniqueness of one’s body it is a grievous sin and an offense against one’s deeply held beliefs actually to alter it in any way through surgical or other means, unless in the course of treatment for a disease or a serious accident.  Furthermore, it is also a serious sin to participate knowingly in someone else’s willing resort to any  Reconstructive Health Procedure.  Your conscience tells you that you cannot participate in this government mandated insurance program as it it presently constructed.  To do so would involve you directly in grave sin.

While you would feel sorry that your employee Mr. Bucketbellie had an operation to remove his wattle, and you would pray for his soul, you cannot in however small a way, join him in that decision, and you consider it a violation of your Constitutional right freely to practice your religion without the interference of government now to be required to provide the insurance which will allow him so to do.

No one anywhere is saying that the Bucketbellie’s of the nation may not pierce, cut,and color themselves as they wish.  They are simply saying that the government should not force them to provide insurance for those poor fools to do so.

I’ll make it more simple, if I can.  Perhaps you don’t smoke, you never smoked and you don’t like to breath second hand smoke. Let us put you back in that business again, and suppose that you have hired Bob Rawthroat, a chain smoker who goes through six packs a day (God help him).  Now comes the government with another plan to save the tobacco growers of the country from ruin and poverty.  You must contribute half the cost of Bob’s half carton of coffin nails each day.

Wanna do that?  I don’t.  While I have no employees yet, I do own a small business and I will not participate in any plan that requires me to pay for something I consider it would be a violation of my conscience so to do.  The bargain I had with this Republic guarantees me the right to do that.  It has broken faith with me, and that is not only wrong, it’s downright despicably wrong, and the people responsible for it are as a former teacher of mine was wont to say, cruds and worms, cruddy worms, for so doing.  I do not like them and applaud the decision of anyone not to obey the law.  It is a treacherous thing to do to a citizen, and makes me wonder if a government can commit the crime of treason against its own citizens.

Yours In Patriotic Duty,


Bringing the Heat!

In The Game, a really good pitcher is the kind of guy who has speed and whose best pitch, a hot fastball, “moves” while it burns through the air and makes a solid “WHUMP” in the catcher’s mitt.  That kind of pitcher “brings the heat”.  That kind of pitcher leaves even the best hitters standing in the box with their bats on their shoulders looking sad as the umpire punches down the third strike in a row; or they unwind after another futile attempt to make any kind of contact with an irresistible force.  That kind of pitcher leads his team to victory.

The newspaper article talks about the priest’s working class accent.  He’s from Lowell.  It also mentions that he went to Harvard.  Perhaps one is supposed to think that working class accents at Harvard are reserved for the groundskeepers.

The article is all about how Father Landry “brings the heat” in his sermons about contraception.  It calls him a “traditionalist” and goes on to say he is “eager to share his opinions with his flock.”  (And, oh, Mr. Times Reporter, with anyone else who’s listening.)

I’m puzzled about the use of that word “opinion”, because nothing I read in the article indicates to me that Father Landry is doing anything other than telling the truth about what the Catholic Church teaches.  He is, then, eager to share the facts with his flock.  And, it also appears that they haven’t heard much about the facts for a long, long time.

You will read, and you may know from your own experience, that Father Landry might be considered not exactly an exception, but something of an anomaly.  So was St. John the Baptist.  I don’t see him losing his head…any time soon.  In any case St. John didn’t much care for his head if it wasn’t being put to good use.  So, too, I suspect the same of Fr. Landry.  Would there were more of him, and more like another priest I came across in New York a couple of weeks ago.

While in New York recently for the marriage of two lovely people, my wife and I attended Mass in Freeport, LI, on Sunday February 12.  Oddly enough that day was the 74th anniversary of my parents’ wedding.  I remembered both of them and the newlyweds in my prayers when we were commended to do so during the Prayers of the Faithful, that part of the Mass when we as a body petition God on behalf of the church and the world.  But my attention was a bit distracted from my purpose by the first general petition that the lector read in a clear voice, and the people answered with a kind of intentional force:

That all Catholics, in union with Pope Benedict XVI and our Bishops, will continue to speak out whenever governments fail to secure our inalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, WE PRAY:  (It is here on this page in the same form as it appears on the page from which it a was read at Mass.  No, not read, proclaimed, if it can be said one proclaims a prayer.)

I’ll add the others, now, more calmly:

That Catholics in the United States will stand up for their faith and their right to exercise it, despite recent attempts by the President to suppress that right, WE PRAY:

For Catholics who suffer persecution because of our beliefs about Marriage, human sexuality, the Unborn Child, and the Terminally Ill, WE PRAY:

In thanksgiving for the members of our Armed Forces and for an end to war, WE PRAY:

In thanksgiving for everyone who takes care of the sick, especially our Priest-chaplains, Nurses, Doctors and everyone who will participate in this year’s Catholic Ministries Appeal, WE PRAY:

That through the Intercession of St. Valentine, the gift of conjugal love will be shared only between a man and a woman and only in Marriage, WE PRAY:

For the sick, especially (N), and for thoses who have died, especially (NN) and for the intention of this Mass (____), WE PRAY:

By the time this exhortation ended I was on the point of raising my hands and shouting a mighty “AMEN!“.  But, I didn’t.  You know what?  I’m sorry I didn’t.

Only rarely have I heard the Holy Father prayed for by name in our churches.  He is simply The Holy Father, the Pope, some guy far away with a title.  And the prayer response is muttered and mumbled, something to be gotten through, like waiting for the bus.  Never have I heard the President referred to as an oppressor of Catholics.  Never have I heard a prayer asking God’s intercession on behalf of Catholics suffering persecution; especially for their beliefs about Marriage, human sexuality, the Unborn Child and the Terminally Ill.  And never, while praying for those who help the sick ( praying in the normal way we pray…indefinitely, anonymously, blandly, indeterminately) never have I ever heard a prayer in thanksgiving for “the priest -chaplains”.  Never have I heard “Us”, we Catholics, mentioned in a Prayer of the faithful.  It is always some bland pronominal word or phrase; people of faith, the poor and humble of the earth, Christian peoples  or those deprived of freedom of worship.  Sounds good, means nothing.  I have never heard a prayer of the faithful like this one.  Simply, never.

I decided that I would take home a copy of the Prayer of the Faithful while wondering if it would ever be voiced in any church I knew.  So, after Mass was over I went into the Sacristy and met the pastor, a young looking slim man of medium height, Father Douglas Arcoleo.  He greeted me with a smile and showed real delight when i told him I was from New Hampshire.

“You have Bishop Libasci, now.  He’s a great man,” he said.  The he told me to meet him over at the rectory and he would give us a copy of the Prayers of the Faithful.  Soon we were inside, and soon enough after that he appeared with the the sheet that’s on the desk in front of me.  I don’t know whether or not I should frame it.

We spoke for a few minutes more and then began to leave.  “Wait,” he said.  “I will bless you.”  We knelt together there in the little room while he did just that, and wished us a safe journey home to New Hampshire, and Bishop Peter Libasci. If Father Arcoleo is any indication of the kind of men coming out of that diocese, our new Bishop will have a great fast ball.

The game is about to get interesting, I think.

Conscience? You Don’t Need No Stinking Conscience!

The recent decision by the current government of the once (and future?) Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, to restrict the rights of believers marks the end of the long beginning of a new form of National Socialism here, complete with the same scabrous obscenities that characterized  the last century’s woeful descent into depravity and death; organized cruelty, compelled thought and Orwellian distortions of language.  The most recent example of the latter being found in the term “freedom of conscience” which now means exactly its opposite.  I do think we have crossed the threshold into hell here in these Untied States, and I see over everything the growing shadow of the face and form of evil; a dark ugliness.

Bad luck to those responsible for it.  Bad luck to them all, the ones who worked to make it happen, the ones who welcome it, the ones who wish for more of it, the lords of power and lovers of death..

It is the brightest of mornings outside my window.  The air is still after cold and ill winds all night long.

I am home now and reading.  The things I read tell me that nothing very much has changed.  My Facebook friends still post their status reports on their comings and goings, and updates on room makeovers, music favorites, films they will see, wines they will drink, children’s plays they will watch.  The newspapers all over the world report on the doings of nations and their great ones, especially the great ones and the near great ones here in these Untied States.  The MSM pundits speculate on who will win in the next primary and the next game, often the two being inseparable in my mind.  And, the Sunday Supplements are filled with photos and stories of new things for your skin, your body your house and your mind; newer than last week, not yet as new as next week.

No one notices thing have changed, here.  But, they have.

I’ll tell you the truth.  This bad decision has changed the way we live.  The givernment (what an interesting typo?) of the people, etc. has broken faith with us; the contract between us tossed out the window.  In their desire to give the bum’s rush to western civilization and welcome in the new age of death they have included…indeed it’s necessary to accomplish the goal…they’ve begun to destroy the Bill of Rights, the first floor erected on the foundation of the Constitution.  What else could be the purpose for it than that.

Father George Rutler is no one’s fool.  Here he calls a spade a spade.

I like his observation on the specious promise of the Sebellius HHS to “consider” the objections of the leaders of many Christian and other denominations to the provisions of this Obamacare bill which would force them to violate their beliefs and become complicit in immoral activities: “But “peace for our time” only lasts until Poland is invaded.”

He makes the right connection between the murderous Nazi regime and the one which squats in Washington, DC.   May God have mercy on their souls.

FB This!

The Feast of St. Lucy was a few days ago on December 13th.  She was a young girl who was murdered by the Romans during the persecution of Christians under the reign of the god emperor Diocletian, who, as the saying might go, was a jealous god, etc.  Anyway, Lucy’s troubles began when her mother decided she should get married to some pagan fellow.  Lucy told her mother she wanted, instead, to stay unmarried, a virgin, and consecrate herself for life to Christ.  This didn’t go down well with her intended who denounced her to the authorities.  Eventually she was dragged off to be executed.  After boiling in oil failed they simply decided to put her to the sword.  It’s quicker and not as much fun as oil boiling, but it has the advantage of never failing.  Besides oil pollutes, I guess, and maybe the Roman Greenpeace would have picketed the execution.

Since her name is derivative of the Latin word for light, she became patroness of those who suffer diseases of the eye.  Sometimes she is portrayed holding a plate on which are two eyes, a rather gruesome and graphic depiction in no way connected with her death.  But that was then, back in the good old days when folks didn’t scruple to make a point if it needed to be made.

Some people I know got into a discussion on Facebook about St. Lucy and her plate of eyeballs.  While the exclamation “Eeewwwww!” did not appear in print that was the general tone of the remarks on such things as those which were rather common in the good old days.  Someone brought up the many paintings of St. Sebastian, and most of the reactions to those ranged from horror to a kind of air-sick queasiness about the way he’s always depicted; tied up and as full of arrows as a pincushion.

Truth is, though, that while he was filled with arrows, he didn’t die that way.  He was healed by another saint, Irene, but insisted on remaining a Christian.  So, he was simply clubbed to death; no swords being handy, I guess.  Or, since this was during Diocletian’s persecution, perhaps Lucy was being sliced up a few doors down with the sword used for Christians who just wouldn’t take a hint.

As I read the variously horrified and recoiling reactions to these distasteful displays of suffering I couldn’t help thinking about them myself.  I remembered being at the christening of my granddaughter Mary, now twenty.  Just before he poured the water over her, the priest held her up for all to see and said that what was going to happen to her was, in many cases, a dangerous thing.  It could, some day, lead to her death; in this world.  Also I remembered the story I had read only a while before this discussion which so paralleled St. Lucy’s that  it took my breath away.

In a small town in Pakistan recently a young Catholic girl’s home was invaded by some men.  They held her mother and her hostage demanding that the girl become a Muslim and marry one of them who wanted her for a bride.  She refused on both counts and was shot dead, no swords or oil being necessary, obviously.  Her mother was forced to flee, and the police aren’t really interested in doing much.  Yawn.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it but my favorite stained glass window is in the nave of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, my home town. You can see it above you on the right as you walk down the center aisle toward the altar . It is a vivid rendering of the death of St. Lawrence.

He is on the grill, his flesh beginning to roast, the flames beneath him turning the metal a deep red. I first saw it when I was a young fellow of about ten  at a Holy Name Society Mass with my father and about 3,000 other men from around the city. Today we avoid like the plague installing such bloody and gruesome things in our churches, preferring not to think of such things as burnings and worse some are forced to suffer for being Catholics, Christians.  In my own parish there is a nice sanitized window devoted to the North American Martyrs.  To look at it one would wonder whether or not they had all died peacefully in their sleep.  I’ve been to their shrine and read the account of their sufferings.  Peaceful death is as far from their actual deaths as is the east from the west.   (NOTE:  I wonder if we could gather even 300 Catholic men and boys anywhere for a Mass today.  I expect I will hear from the folks who will mention WYD in that vein, and the visits of pontiffs here and there, which only prove my point I’d say.)

What would be the case if some church were built today with one of its windows showing St. Maximilian Kolbe naked in the death cell surrounded by the corpses of his fellow prisoners as the Nazi guard injects him with cyanide? I do not think it would be quiet contemplation.  I have never seen any rendering of his actual martyrdom; nothing beyond a few photos of him long before that horrible act was committed.

But such things are done, and in some places the truth is told and the acts represented for one’s contemplation.  I was in a church in Gdansk several years ago and saw a statue of Fr. Jerzy Popiulsko. It was on the floor, he trussed in chains and beaten and bruised. They don’t pull punches over there.  Someday perhaps there will be another window in a church in Pakistan showing a young girl held by some men while another, face contorted with lust and rage shoots her brains out as her mother looks on in horror. It might be just the needed to remind us all of the real cost of the”Pearl of Great Price”.

I think I know the reason for those very graphic depictions of the saints’ and martyrs’ sufferings.  We should know, we need  to know “the wages of sin” and the “cost of discipleship”.  When we begin to value life too highly, to desire our ease and comfort here more than joy “ever after”, our real death begins.  How yucky can that get?  Maybe the first step to heaven is always down the path labelled martyrdom…of one kind or another.  It isn’t something to be shied from you know, if one is at all interested in the imitation of Christ.   And, there will certainly be an awful lot of company along the Way if recent events are any indication.