Friday, January 31, 2003

Fr. Rob Johansen is finally back to blogging after three months nearly four months off. Here is his return post - which highlights well the distinction between being proactive and the too-common mentality of being reactive:

Fr. Rob's Return

And for those who are interested, here is one of his posts from the "Thrownback Archives":
New Hope for Translation of the Mass

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Reiteration of Guest Editorial Policy:

From the archives circa September 30, 2002:Guest Editorial Policy Since the George Weigel two part guest editorial on Catholicism In America and the Century Ahead,which ran November 6th-7th: there have not been any guest editorials run at this weblog. Nonetheless, I want to reiterate the feature and extend it to the readers of this weblog should they want to comment on an issue that they feel is not being covered somewhere or another.

My policy has been to split these about 50-50 theological and political/social. To that end, we are thus far at three theological and two political-social editorials. Therefore, I am most inclined towards possible socio-political editorials at this time to regain the 50-50 balance. Anyway, mull it over and let me know if you have something you would like to run. The guidelines for this are at the link above.


New Amazon Book Review:
(of George Weigel's 2002 book "The Courage to be Catholic")

This is "hot off the presses" as it was posted to Amazon literally less than five minutes ago.

(5 Stars) The timeliness of this book could not have been better...

...and for that reason, I was worried that the quality of the work would not be up to par. Fortunately my concerns were ill-founded and the work being reviewed here can be given four and a half stars for content and a half a star for its timeliness. My only real criticism is that George Weigel almost seems to fall into the trap of equating "Catholic" with "Latin rite". Thus when he speaks of the celibacy of the Catholic priest - and while giving a cursory mention of the eastern tradition - he does not do full justice to the complexity of the eastern and western traditions on this subject. (He is right though that celibacy of the western clergy is not the problem that many of the contemporary ignorant portray it to be.) But I am getting a bit ahead of myself here.

George Weigel starts off by identifying the crisis under four headings:

1) The three-headed monster of pedophilia, priests having illicit sexual relations with women - including some minors, and "homosexually oriented priests, seemingly incapable of living the celibacy they had promised to God and the Church, and abusing teenagers and young men committed to their care" (cf. Weigel).

2) Crisis of Priestly Identity

3) Crisis of Episcopal Leadership

4) Crisis of Discipleship

He then goes on to highlight what the crisis is not and deals well with the red herrings of (i) Celibacy (ii) the "authoritarian Church" model (iii) a "failure to implement Vatican II" - according to its so-called "spirit" (iv) the crisis being "a pedophilia crisis" - as it is much more then that (v) the "problem" being the Catholic Sexual Ethic itself. From there he delves into the problems of dissent from magisterial teaching which started with Humanae Vitae in 1968 and continues today by both "liberals" as well as so-called "traditionalists" and how the Vatican ended up hamstringing American bishops in 1968. The fear of creating a schism was of course legitimate but the results of the policies to address the problems have created in essence an implicit schism in the American Church at many levels.

Weigel deals well with how the aforementioned dissent filtered down from not a few theologians to the faithful, influenced the seminary development of a generation of priests, problems with certain psychological attempts to fix the problem, and the Vatican's moves under the pontificate of Pope John Paul II to reverse this trend which started turning around in 1984. (And how more recent seminarians have benefitted from the changes made thus far.) Weigel also identifies well the culture of dissent that has developed and points out how it in all of its manifestations - from liberal to self-styled "traditionalist" - have played a role in the deepening of this problem. The lie of "faithful dissent" is not detailed as well as it could have been but Weigel sought to cover a lot of subjects so in that respect can be pardoned for only covering the above subject in a brief overview manner.

From there, the author goes on to examine in detail the reasons why the bishops failed in their ministry, the role of Rome in the Crisis, the beginning of reform in the Seminaries - starting with the 1985 Apostolic visitations, the elements that go into priestly reform (here he touches on the rich teaching of the Council and Pope John Paul II on the priesthood), and the selection of bishops - including an idea for some lay participation. (Hardly the "novelty" that many Catholics may presume that it is.) Weigel sums the work up with a call to renewal by being authentically Catholic and not "Catholic Lite" - the latter being what is sadly not uncommon today with the cafeteria Catholicism of picking and choosing what the individual likes and disregarding the rest: for it is that very element that was the genesis of this crisis and what has prolonged it. It therefore is a mentality that needs to be killed and buried and Weigel outlines in this book a good program for doing that that is in essence "back to basics".

In short, this is a good book that all Catholics concerned with the problems in the Church today should read. Crises after all are only cured by a renewed fidelity and that is of course what George Weigel means by "the courage to be Catholic" - and this is something that all Catholics need to take into account and strive to do.

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Eve Tushnet on Tradition vs. the Past:

As I have noted in my writings, authentic Traditionalism "is not and cannot be found in externals - even those which may have the hallowed sanction of time" because it is an integral element. Eve blogs on this subject, a small taste of which I present here:

TRADITION VS. THE PAST: When people talk about tradition and "traditionalism," they're often thinking of something that I would consider to be closer to nostalgia than to love of tradition. Jaroslav Pelikan has the sharp one-liner, "Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living," and I think there's a lot of truth there. I had never entered into an explicitly traditional institution until college, and so figuring out what tradition is, how it operates, its development and its beauties and its characteristic drawbacks and tensions, has interested me for years.

The first and most basic point is that tradition is not about restoring some real or imagined past era. Tradition gives an institution (a nation, a debating society, a university) a persona; it makes the institution more like a person. And this is necessary in order to make the institution a possible object of human loyalties, since all our loyalties are to persons. (This was what I found the most interesting insight of Reflections on the Revolution in France.) But like a personality, a tradition-based persona must be adaptive and constantly renewed. Traditions need to link the present to the future as well as to the past. A society with a living tradition is instantly distinguishable from a Miss Havisham society desperately trying to capture the past... Click here for more...

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Reforming the Tridentine Missal:
(aka "Stirring Up A Hornets' Nest" Dept.)

These suggestions back at the Envoy weblog got some rather strident objections from a few self-identified "traditionalists". The most hilarious was Mark Cameron who implied that my suggestions were of dubious merit since I do not attend the Tridentine liturgy. Short memo to Mark: I doubt it is an exaggeration to say that I have almost certainly attended more Tridentine liturgies than probably you, Jeff Culbreath, and David Smith combined. (I am not sure whom you thought you were conversing with but I am no stranger to the Tridentine liturgy - a mass I have not only attended but used to serve and also was a sacristan for.)

Having gotten that out of the way, it is worth noting that these people love to postulate on what to do with the Pauline liturgy but if anyone talks about changing a hiccup of the Tridentine liturgy, they tend to not take that suggestion well. Nonetheless, here are the suggestions that I made at the Envoy weblog back in December:

(i) Encouraging the dialogue mass format and discouraging private devotions during mass. (With of course respect shown for the elderly who are either too infirm or otherwise not in a condition to adapt accordingly.)

(ii) Eliminate the Latin reading of the Epistle and the Gospel at the altar preceding the vernacular at the pulpit. This is unnecessarily duplicative and fosters the myth that the readings *have* to be in Latin. Moving this part of the liturgy to the pulpit makes far more sense.

(iii) Revising the calendars so that the two Roman Missals have the same feast days. (Including moving all feast days initially moved unnecessarily back to their original dates of celebration.)

(iv) Adding an OT reading to the Tridentine Missal and giving the Tridentine users the option of retaining the traditional Epistle and Gospel readings from the Pius V Missal. (Over the three year lectionary of the Pauline Missal.)

(v) Making the Leonine Prayers optional.

I should add here that I meant to include the Last Gospel in the statement on the Leonine Prayers. Anyway, there are suggestions for improving the Tridentine Missal. Does someone care to tell me what is unreasonable about any of them???

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Thursday, January 30, 2003

Points to Ponder:

If there is one phrase that stands before history as typical of Thomas Aquinas, it is that phrase about his own argument: "It is not based on documents of faith, but on the reasons and statements of the philosophers themselves." Would that all Orthodox doctors in deliberation were as reasonable as Aquinas in anger! Would that all Christian apologists would remember that maxim; and write it up in large letters on the wall, before they nail any theses there. At the top of his fury, Thomas Aquinas understands, what so many defenders of orthodoxy will not understand. It is no good to tell an atheist that he is an atheist; or to charge a denier of immortality with the infamy of denying it; or to imagine that one can force an opponent to admit he is wrong, by proving that he is wrong on somebody else's principles, but not on his own. After the great example of St. Thomas, the principle stands, or ought always to have stood established; that we must either not argue with a man at all, or we must argue on his grounds and not ours. We may do other things instead of arguing, according to our views of what actions are morally permissible; but if we argue we must argue "On the reasons and statements of the philosophers themselves." [GK Chesterton: From his book Saint Thomas Aquinas]


Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Courtesy of Bryan Preston is this making of the Michael Jordon Superbowl commercial. The technology and intricacies of method alone in such a project are staggering. (Certainly they befuddle this "reasonably-computer-literate-but-not-spectacularly-so" computer user.) But the best parts of the piece are in some ways the psychological elements that the author touches on:

Every one of us can imagine (probably has imagined) being where MJ is in this moment. Were we more powerful back then, when our reflexes were quicker, when we could jump and reach a little (maybe a lot) higher than we can now? Or is experience the thing? Can we think our way into and out of possibilities and scrapes now that we would only have stumbled through then? And is that the power?

Anyone who remembers the vigor of their youth and the experience of their later years has asked these questions. (Particularly when it comes to sports competitions.) For example, I think back at how strong physically I used to be and - while never a bastion of endurance I certainly had significantly more of that then than I do now. As of this very moment I am pretty sure the younger me would prevail in such a matchup - if the older me avoided underhanded tactics. Nonetheless, I hope in the coming year to approach my old conditioning - possibly even be stronger physically though I doubt that the endurance element is fully regainable. (And I *know* the durable element of youth is to some extent irretrievable.)

On the whole I prefer being older and wiser to younger and less wise. (Particularly since my knowledge of human physiology and physical development is much better now than it was then.) My father used to say that "old age and treachery will beat youth and strength and skill every time". And while I have no doubt that is the case with the high-school Shawn, I am not so sure about if the current "me" went up against the young adult Shawn. (He was quite a bull.)

But like the ad itself perhaps, the answer is likely one that can be debated continually and never settled - at least not in this life. (And not even cloning could settle it.) That is one of the things that makes sports debates so interesting sometimes. But yet again I digress...

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"I'm With Stupid" Dept.

Guess who will be chairing the UN's Disarmarment Conference??? If you said it could not possibly be Iraq...well...the UN is out apparently to prove that they really are as braindead and inept as many of us have claimed for years.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Brief Comments on the State of the Union Speech:

Well, W did a very good job tonight. I thought covering the domestic stuff first was an excellent way to silence those who thought he was going to make the war issue predominant. And the war subject was covered adequately enough - I think Hans "Inspector Clueso" Blix actually made W's life easier in that he did not have to detail the war subject as much as he would have otherwise.

Oh and as a Washingtonian, I most assuredly do *not* endorse Gov. Locke's Democratic rebuttal. I never once voted for the man either by the way. Further still, it was hilarious to hear Gov. Locke speak of reducing class sizes when that was only done in Washington State by Initiative as Locke and the Democratic legislatures would not do it. Yet he has challenged this Initiative by seeking to enact other legislation that will roll back the classroom reductions in two years time. Can anyone say "hypocritical"???

In summary: Bush did well. Locke demonstrated why the Democrats are - to paraphrase that great western philosopher Tom Petty: "rebels without a clue"...

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On Death Camps and Dead 'Traditionalism':
(A Response to My Friend Albert)

In an NBC story about North Korean death camps here:

our milquetoast President Bush is described as being able to generate a "visceral reaction" to that Communist country's barbaric ways such that he included it in his "axis of evil."

Yet the Church cannot mention it.

The Church has mentioned communism many times. Communism was condemned directly by Popes Leo XIII, Pius XI, and Pius XII. Lots of condemnations but little in the way of a functional agenda for following the traditional Catholic assimilation procedure with communism. Your criticism here is akin to the criticism of the critics of Pope Pius XII who castigate him for not speaking out forcefully against the Nazis. The Church had done so with the communists in the 1930's and they continued to butcher people left and right. The Dutch bishops explicitly condemned the Nazis and the Nazis responded with even worse persecution and butchering. But this is of course no big damn deal I suppose to an armchair abstract philosopher/critic.

Vatican II reiterated the Church's condemnations of communism but not explicitly. Further still, the social teachings of John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II opposed Communism generally in similar non-direct ways. But of course like the so-called "silence of Pius XII", these popes taking a very indirect policy with the Communists as Pius XII did with the Nazis is another example of giving a "get out of jail free" card to Pius while you lambaste his successors right??? All of this is sad yet predictable.

It is too busy having conferences on how to deal with its own sex crimes. The pope, leader of the Church that our Lady of Fatima said must confront Communism, was even unwilling to "confront" the criminally complacent Cardinal Law by "asking" him to resign.

That is right, the popes have done *nothing* about Communism at all right??? I really wonder sometimes how you think you are credible on these issues when you make monumentally boneheaded statements such as this. You somehow think that if Vatican II and the popes are not vocally condemning communism that somehow they are not fighting it. This is an example of what happens when you do not care to see the forest for the trees.

For there is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that the Communists would have laughed at a condemnation from the Council and it would have been a pious and empty gesture. Because you see, typically condemnations of communism had achieved nothing in the way of proposing viable alternatives. It is not enough to simply say to do something anymore - indeed the fact that I have to state the obvious with you here is evidence of that. Why do you think that the Communists or communist sympathizers would somehow obey the pope when you personally disobey him at every turn??? (And I will not enumerate the ways you do this here for the sake of economy of response to the extent that this is possible.)

The more indirect references to communism actually started in the pontificate of Pius XII. John XXIII reiterated indirectly the condemnation of Pius XI in his social encyclical, Paul VI reaffirmed the Church's position against atheistic socialism in his first encyclical letter in 1964. (Written before the Third Session of the Council.) He also mentioned the problem of "totalitarian ideologies" in his first social encyclical. John Paul II likewise was critical of communism both as Archbishop of Krakow and as Supreme Pontiff both in words and in actions. (If not for time constraints I could detail this pope's brilliant undermining of communism both politically as well as in his social teachings.) But enough on the popes and let us turn now to Vatican II.

What the Second Vatican Council did was get at atheistic totalitarianism by addressing all of the constituent elements which fueled the philosophy and gave it life. Then the popes subsequent to the Council reaffirmed and developed these and other contingent themes. One advantage that John XXIII and his successors had is that they were not merely engaging in ivory tower abstractions as many of their predecessors had but instead had experienced totalitarianism to some extent directly. John XXIII as Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey and Bulgaria, Pope Paul VI as one of the most powerful men in the Curia for nearly thirty years and then as Archbishop of Milan for nine years. (The largest dioceses in Italy and one where Paul VI successfully undermined communism with his pastoral policies. Prior to his appointment to the Chair of St. Ambrose the communist menace had been growing in Milan for many years.)

And of course the exposure of Pope John Paul II to this menace directly is a well established fact beyond credible debate. But of course the question is, how much of the truth do you really want to know if it casts a funeral pall over the mythical "trad" world that you want apparently to adhere to???

Vatican II, which was supposedly called to reconcile the modern world to the Church, in all its voluminous documents, did not even mention the word "Communism" once.

Your presumption here is in error. Vatican II was called to (i) reaffirm the corpus of Catholic doctrine (ii) present the Catholic Faith in its entirety to the world in a comprehensible manner (iii) develop doctrine where needed to deal with certain contemporary situations (iv) establish a functional agenda for the reunion of the Churches that was in conformity with Catholic tradition (v) by extension reinvigorate the missions - particularly in those areas of the world where the Church had failed so miserably in previous centuries. Dialogue with the modern world was only one element of the equation - and an element that was at least a hundred and fifty years overdue.

Besides, John XXIII simply put into action what his two predecessors had wanted to do but were not able to. And when the definitive history of the Council is written, many 'trads' will be shocked to see that Popes Pius XI and Pius XII - particularly the latter - planted many of the seeds that came to fruition by the early 1960 with the preparation for the Council and the final texts which were promulgated.

And that was at a time when the Communists had just finished precipitating the Cuban missile crisis that nearly blew up the entire world. Yet the Church dared not even mention the menace responsible for virtually all the ills of the modern world. Why?

I just explained why. Sometimes when sent out as sheep amongst the wolves, it helps to be as wise as serpents and as guileless as doves (cf. Matthew x,16).

The pope promised not to mention Communism if the Communists would send their Orthodox bishops (KGB agents in robes) to the council.

Even if you were right about this assertion, what I outlined above highlights exactly why this approach was one which conformed to the advice given by Our Lord above (wise as serpents and guileless as doves).

That is what passes as the new and improved Catholic Church today which has become reconciled to the ever-new and ever-improving modern world. That is the Church I am no longer a part of.

Then you are without hope of salvation my friend. I suggest you innoculate yourself of this festering disease and do so soon. You can start with this writing. I know you read the first version but this one is a much better product in every parameter. I will pray for you certainly but I am tired of reinventing the wheel with people who continue to read spiritual pornography (i.e Remnant, Angelus, etc) and who seem intent on not properly informing themselves. Much as I noted earlier, there are certain things I expect now from people I am going to dialogue with. The first link above now serves as a "pre-requisite" in my mind because you and I have gone in circles on some of these issues for nearly three years now. For the sake of my sanity, I have to make sure you are at least meeting me halfway now and that includes informing yourself properly and from reputable sources before you decide to be critical.

I was going to respond to this letter on the Lidless Eye Inquisition blog but I changed my mind since however affiliated with the Lidless Eyes you are, we are nonetheless good friends and therefore a courtesy should be extended that I would not normally do for that reason. While the first link above is not exhaustive, at least the material there provides a foundation for moving up the ladder of theological discourse.

I am afraid I do not know what else there is to discuss if you do not take a serious attempt to look at things both with informed eyes and also with eyes of faith. Both of these are constantly lacking in your syllogisms and philosophical speculations. As St. Thomas Aquinas noted (and as I have told you at least fifty times): philosophy is the handmaiden of theology. Further still (as I have also told you countless times), while faith and reason do not contradict, faith does transcend reason much as the supernatural transcends the natural. Therefore, to constantly come at these matters from a predominantly rationalistic, naturalistic, and philosophic approach is to do yourself and your audience a disservice. I will close this response by citing some of your own words:

Whether you pull citations from the bible or from magisterial documents makes no difference. It is no substitute for being theologically logical. It is no substitute for taking up the challenge of harmonizing selected citations with ALL citations, integrating conclusions with conscience, and reconciling God's ways with justice. An unwillingness to do this is to reveal that one is afflicted with the fundamentalist mindset and is fair game to the cult of rattle snake handlers who do what they do without fear, cuz the bible says so. [Mark 16:18]

I truly hope that you can learn to do this with the charade of 'traditionalism'. But I cannot continue to play "musical topics" if the root and matrix issues are continually passed over. And I think after nearly three years of patience my request for you to meet me halfway is not at all unreasonable.

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A Discourse on Leisure:

Dear Shawn,


I thought in light of this email that it would be fitting to respond to you today - as it is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Here's what Dr. Peter Chojnowski had to say about leisure in the August 1994 issue of The Angelus entitled "Leisure as the Basis of Culture":

Angelus Magazine has much more chaff in it than wheat.

“The contemporary refusal to acknowledge the contemplative core of the faithful’s participation in the Holy Sacrifice is perhaps the principle cause of the contemporary liturgical chaos in the Church.

It is in this refusal that we can discern the final result of viewing man solely as a worker. The contemplative watching of the sacred action is denigrated as attributed to the spiritual immaturity of a past age. Participation must now involve the physical doing of the whole community. The worshiper must be doing or he is not engaged.”

This is a fine example of a half-baked half-truth.

1) The faithful were more active in the liturgy the first eleven centuries of Church history than they subsequently were. (The function of the choir at High Mass used to be the function of the lay active participation.)

2) The manner whereby the SSPX celebrates mass is for this reason untraditional.

3) While there is some truth to the assertion that the way in which active participation is sometimes misunderstood is based on a false Kantian notion of virtue consisting in action per se (a topic for another time perhaps), it is manifestly false that there is an "either/or" factor involved here.

For the idea of all liturgical functions being reserved to the priest was an early second millennium innovation born out of the abuse of private masses and increasing recourse to the Low Mass format. This is not even debatable for anyone who has studied liturgical history from sources that give at least a modest attempt at objectivity. (Which disqualifies virtually all "trad" sources out there.)

The puerile principle of active participation that is the basis of the modern Mass clashes with St. Thomas Aquinas who understood the most perfect form of participation to be man’s perfect intellectual contemplation of God’s Essence in the Beatific Vision (Summa Contra Gentiles III, 37).

This is an egregious misrepresentation of SCG III §37. (As far as "puerile", well it is standard fare for the "wise and prudent" to despise the "little ones" as per Our Lord's discourse ala Luke x,21-23.) Here is the text in its entirety:

SCG III §37: That the Final Happiness of Man consists in the Contemplation of God

IF then the final happiness of man does not consist in those exterior advantages which are called goods of fortune, nor in goods of the body, nor in goods of the soul in its sentient part, nor in the intellectual part in respect of the moral virtues, nor in the virtues of the practical intellect, called art and prudence, it remains that the final happiness of man consists in the contemplation of truth. This act alone in man is proper to him, and is in no way shared by any other being in this world. This is sought for its own sake, and is directed to no other end beyond itself. By this act man is united in likeness with pure spirits, and even comes to know them in a certain way. For this act also man is more self-sufficient, having less need of external things. Likewise to this act all other human activities seem to be directed as to their end. For to the perfection of contemplation there is requisite health of body; and all artificial necessaries of life are means to health. Another requisite is rest from the disturbing forces of passion: that is attained by means of the moral virtues and prudence. Likewise rest from exterior troubles, which is the whole aim of civil life and government. Thus, if we look at things rightly, we may see that all human occupations seem to be ministerial to the service of the contemplators of truth.

Now it is impossible for human happiness to consist in that contemplation which is by intuition of first principles, -- a very imperfect study of things, as being the most general, and not amounting to more than a potential knowledge: it is in fact not the end but the beginning of human study: it is supplied to us by nature, and not by any close investigation of truth. Nor can happiness consist in the sciences, the object-matter of which is the meanest things, whereas happiness should be an activity of intellect dealing with the noblest objects of intelligence. Therefore the conclusion remains that the final happiness of man consists in contemplation guided by wisdom to the study of the things of God. Thus we have reached by way of induction the same conclusion that was formerly established by deductive reasoning, that the final happiness of man does not consist in anything short of the contemplation of God.

St. Thomas' entire discourse is on the final happiness of man. To appropriate this in a discussion on the liturgy is manifestly disingenuous. It would have been far more honest to have referenced SCG III,119 which touches directly on the subject of latria - or worship of God. (For that is what we are supposed to do at mass.) Here are the relevant parts of SCG III,119.

SCG III,119: That by certain Sensible Rites our mind is directed to God

BECAUSE it is connatural to man to gather his knowledge through the senses, and most difficult for him to transcend sensible things God has provided for man that even in sensible things there should be made for him a commemoration of things divine. To this end sensible sacrifices have been instituted, which man offers to God, not as though God needed them, but to bring home to man the lesson that he ought to offer himself and all he has to God, his end, Creator, Ruler, and Lord of all. There are also exercised upon man certain hallowings through certain sensible things, whereby man is washed, or anointed, or given to eat and drink, along with the utterance (prolatione) of audible words, to represent to man by these sensible signs the augmentation of spiritual gifts wrought in him from without, namely, by God, whose name is expressed in audible words. Also certain sensible rites are performed by men, not to rouse God to action, but to prompt themselves to divine service. Of this nature are prostrations, genuflections, vocal cries and chants: which things are not done as though God had need of them, who knows all, even the affection of the mind, -- whose will is unchangeable (Chap. XCV), and who moreover does not accept the movement of the body for its own sake: but we do these things on our own behalf, that by these sensible rites our intention may be directed to God and our affection inflamed. At the same time also we hereby make profession of God being author of our soul and body, in that we pay Him acts of homage spiritual and bodily.

Hence it is not surprising that the [Manichean] heretics, who say that God is not the author of our body, blame these bodily observances being paid to God. In which censure they evidently fail to remember that they themselves are men, not seeing that sensible representations are necessary to us for inward knowledge and affection. For it is experimentally shown that our soul is excited by bodily acts to think and feel: hence we properly use such acts to raise our mind to God.

In the payment of these bodily observances the cult, or worship, of God is said to consist. For we are said to cultivate those objects to which we pay attention by our works. Now we busy ourselves in paying attention to the things of God, not as though we were of service to Him, as is the case when we are said to tend, or cultivate, other things by our attentions, but because such actions are of service to ourselves, enabling us to come nearer to God. And because by inward acts we go straight to God, therefore it is by inward acts properly that we worship God: nevertheless outward acts also belong to the cult, or worship, of God, inasmuch as by such acts our mind is raised to God, as has been said.

No more needs to be referenced to refute Dr. Chojnowski's manifest abuse of St. Thomas Aquinas to prop up his obvious ignorance of liturgical history.

According to Dr. Chojnowski, “True leisure is activity which culminates in the silence and joyful repose of those who affirm and celebrate the whole, the Creator of the whole, and our respective individual places within the whole. False leisure only involves and leads to more activity.”

There is some truth to the above statement. It might help to point out that the Greek word for leisure is "skole" which means literally "school". It is a kind of passive reception of knowledge and wisdom and is strongly contemplative. However, Dr. Chojnowski appears to come dangerously close to espousing a kind of Manichaean dichotomy between spirit (good) and matter (bad).

The Scholastics claimed that leisure and sloth (acedia) are spiritual conditions directly opposed to one another.


If we were the autonomous master and fashioner of our world as the contemporary world imagines, then to be at ease would be synonymous with laziness. If, however, one of the most perfect acts of the human soul is to calmly affirm the order given to reality by God, then true leisure, which is precisely this affirmation, can in no way be equated with laziness.

This touches on the fallacious view of virtue and action as espoused by the Enlightenment rationalists.

It is the refusal to affirm the order given to creation by the Creator which is, according to St. Thomas, the highest instance of slothfulness (Summan Theologicae, Part II - II, Question 21, Article 4). It is precisely modern man’s resltessness amidst the created order which is a true instance of laziness.

ST II,II Q 21, Art 4 discusses the sin of presumption. There is no mention whatsoever of slothfulness, laziness, or the like anywhere in the reference that is give above. Instead it is another non-applicable citation of St. Thomas - spiritual malpractice by this "Dr" yet again.

What is fundamentally refused is the gift of reality. St. Thomas identifies sloth as the well-spring of despair.

Yes sloth is the well-spring of dispair. And as (i) dispair is the opposite of presumption and (ii) the citation by the Dr. above was on presumption and vainglory then (iii) he has apparently not read the sources he is quoting very closely. Very shoddy work indeed but par for the course in Angelus Magazine.

Having deprived himself of the joys of the spiritual life, modern man inevitably succumbs to the mundane sadness which Sacred Scripture describes as the tristitia saeculi (Quest. disp. de malo, 11, 3).

Well, at the very least I can agree with the Dr. in his conclusion, though virtually all of his arguments to support the conclusion are manifestly faulty.

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"Hap-py Birth-day Ca-non Lawwww" Dept.
(Okay, I am admittedly three days late here...)

Though probably not on the average family's feast calendar, I am wondering if January 25, 2003 was a particularly festive day for the Vere family. After all, that was the twentieth anniversary of the signing into law of the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

Pope John Paul Signing into Law the 1983 Code on January 25, 1983

Which of course bring to mind the question of exactly how canonists celebrate feasts anyway. Methinks the combination of beer and a game of "name that canon" factors into the equation somehow...

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In anticipation of upcoming war, I added Bill Cork's Flag banner to the top of this weblog so that my position is made eminently clear. I go into details in several archive posts - some of which are in the margin column of this weblog and the most recent (not in the margin) comment on this was January 25th. Nonetheless, if there is any preceived ambiguity to my stance at the present time, hopefully adding the flag will remove any remaining doubts on the matter.

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Monday, January 27, 2003

"JunkYard Blog" Dept.
(A Rerum Novarum Triple Spin)


Saddam's son has just given us the "smoking gun." He has said approximately: If America attacks Iraq, we will produce devastation in America that will make 9/11 look like a minor problem.

Well now.... since we know that Iraq has no
long-range ICBMs, and doesn't have enough bombers to get through our air defenses, this can only mean one thing: Iraq has a terrorist network already in place within the US.
For more go here

How serendipitous that I discussed the subject of treason just a couple of days ago on this very weblog. See the January 25th Bill Cork entry for details on that.


I've speculated a bit on the motivations behind French obstinance when it comes to war with Iraq. I believe their current position, that they will do everything in their power to avert war not by forcing Saddam's compliance but by thwarting us, is based on oil and the cheap supply of it they get from Saddam. In the past few years France has become Saddam's leading oil customer. In part, French obstructionism is also a result of its antipathy toward the US, rooted ultimately in its jealously of our position. To France, we are the "cowboys," the young upstarts who inherited the world in the ashes of World War II. To them, their culture is superior, their history more glorious, their cheeses smellier (on that last point, they're right). We're Johnny come latelys to them, without any right to the position we hold. Thus, when English words enter common usage in Paris, the French government bans them. When American companies try to do business in Europe, Paris puts up barricades, even nixing the GE-Honeywell merger a couple years back, a move that resulted in layoffs here in the US.

But there's more to the story. And Saddam's former bomb-maker, Dr. Khadir Hamza, lays it out: France wants to avoid invasion because in our victory its own role in Saddam's nuclear program will at last be exposed... For more go here


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I posted a response to a sedevacantist who emailed me this morning at the following link: "Wasting Away in Sedevacantaville" Dept. - a Lidless Eye Inquisition exclusive.

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Points to Ponder:

Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of "touching" a man’s heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it. [G.K. Chesterton]


Sunday, January 26, 2003

The Domestic Abuse/Abortion Connection courtesy of Pete Vere JCL

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I made a few minor changes to the weblog this morning including (i) Removing my "Open Letter to Albert" from the margin links (ii) Adding my essay contra sedevacantism - which was just revised as of last night - to the side margin in its place (iii) Added the link to a new group weblog "The Lidless Eye Inquisition" in the side margin. The "Letter to Albert" was added to my "Writings" link in the side margin. Anyway, those are the modifications made as of this morning.

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I have issued a clarification on interaction with regards to self-styled 'traditionalists' at my Miscellaneous BLOG. The link can be read HERE.

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Writings Update:

I mentioned in passing back in November and December that I was revising my treatise. Well, the end result is more than a mere revision but instead it is a substantial modification of the work. I also made revisions - albeit mostly of a minor nature - to twelve other essays. (Though three of the essays which received more substantial revisions in the form of additions or deletions - or both - were my essays on various 'traditionalist' subjects.)

I sent a revised "Writings of I. Shawn McElhinney" url to Matt last night but forgot to change the date on it. So do not let the "Last Revised November 28, 2001" line of the current url fool you as I revised that list yesterday. (Hopefully Matt will have the url I just sent him which made that correction up shortly.)

I plan to add some material to url 3 of the treatise later in the week. It will almost certainly be in the form of an Addendum and will simply be additional reinforcement of one of the points in that treatise url. My goal initially was to have an average url page length of 30 pages. Upon calculation, the average url length in this version is 23.5 pages; ergo, the most common criticism of the previous versions of this work (that the urls were too long) is hopefully no longer of any merit whatsoever.

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Bill Cork goes over his recent about-face on the war issue here. I have to admit that these so-called "war protesters" have moved me towards a more hawkish stance myself then even the one I outlined here. I anticipated in that entry the war protesting angle and my view has not changed about protesters.

If Bush was handling this as Johnson handled Vietnam, then to some extent I could grant the protesters some leeway. But in my gut I know this is simply liberal idiots trying to play politics. After all, where were they when Clinton was bombing Kosovo???

If they were truly against the war then they would be carrying signs demanding that Saddam cooperate with his disarmarment or go into exile. Because that is the way to guarantee that there will be no war. But they are not going to do this which tells me that they are not truly anti-war but are instead anti-Bush. And that brings me to the subject of what to do with protesters should we actually go to war.

If we do go to war and these people try to gum up the machinery, they should be treated the same way a soldier would be treated if he tried to abandon his unit in battle. That is all I will say on the matter at this time because I am starting to get livid thinking about these clowns and that is not a good mindset to be in for blogging. Read this article and see if your blood does not start boiling too.

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