Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Good Shepherd

Next Sunday's gospel is the good shepherd, and Fr. Speekman (Homilies and Reflections from Australia) posted the lovely picture above.

Of course, the Good Shepherd is Jesus...

This morning an Air Force pilot pointed out that flying close to the deck in Afganistan and Iraq, you can always tell what kind of animals you are coming up on. A flock of goats scatters in every direction in response to the noise of the aircraft, whereas the sheep all run to the shepherd; so before you are even close, you know what kind of animals the flock is made of.

That said, this seems like one occasion to make a shameless plug. The scripture doesn't make mention of the assistant that the shepherd has, the dog. Now the dogs' job is not just to herd the sheep, but to bark when the wolf comes, and to defend the sheep and the shepherd, even at the cost of their own lives. It is worth noting in this context that the dog has always been associated with St. Dominic, appearing in art at his side, and the word "Dominicans" being derived from Domini canus - God's dogs.

Isaiah says of the silent dog: His watchmen are all blind, they are all ignorant: dumb dogs not able to bark, seeing vain things, sleeping and loving dreams. And most impudent dogs, they never had enough: (Is 56:10-11a)

Now most of us don't like the incessant barking of yappy dogs, but in this case, I hope you'll indulge me for my yapping.

Cogent analysis

Author Michael Greaney, at The Just Third Way blog, has an interesting analysis of our times through the lense of history. These full essays are well worth reading.

The State is God, God is the State, Part V

If we assume that man creates God in man's own image and likeness, then (logically) man, not God, is the supreme ruler of the universe and the only standard for determining what is good or evil. Reality depends not on some objective actuality, but on subjective opinion. Everything becomes relative, based on the opinion of whoever can force others to accept his or her version of reality — for it becomes, ipso facto, reality by the mere fact that people "agree" on it. Black can become white, and up can become down, simply by convincing people that such is the case. You only think the Emperor is walking down the street naked, because your consciousness hasn't been raised and your perceptions corrected.

We can therefore easily understand the attraction that basing the natural law (and thus the social order) on the Will has for many people. In essence, you can do anything you want, as long as you have enough faith in your own interpretation, enough of an ego to maintain your position in the face of all argument and evidence to the contrary, enough inventiveness to dismiss objective facts and truth, and enough power to force others to comply with your will.

The State is God, God is the State, Part VI

While Judgment at Nuremberg used an obvious situation to make its point, the very obviousness of the point obscures it. People assume that what was done was wrong because "the Nazis" did it, not because it was wrong by nature itself. To this day we find many people asserting that there must be some flaw in the German national character that allowed them to give in to Hitler. They forget, ignore, or never knew that every tendency, even the philosophy itself that led to Hitler and the Holocaust is still with us today, and is much stronger and more pervasive now than then.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Protestant scholar's words

ALthough published in 1870, this remains remarkably cogent for today:

"Only superficial minds, that disdain the study of documents, and are blinded by the pretended superiority of our epoch, or by systematic hatred, dare accuse the Church of having favored ignorance"

Protestant historian Frederick Hurter, History of Innocent III, book xxi, quoted in The Invitation Heeded, by James Kent Stone

If anyone wants to read Hurter in the French, and has 55 eu to part with...

HURTER, F.E.Histoire du pape Innocent III et de son siècle,
d'après les monuments originaux. Traduction nouvelle, augmentée d'une introduction, de notes historiques et de pièces justificatives, par L'Abbé Jager et Th. Vial. Tome I-II. Paris, A. Vaton & Gaume Frères, 1840. [iv],xxxvi,792; [iv],852p. 2 vols. 8vo. 21x13 cm. Later library binding. Good copy. Interesting history of Innocent III (ca 1160-1216), champion for the freedom of the church against the kings & striving for peace for the people, by F.E.Hurter (1787-1857) official historiographer of the Austrian empire.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Church the Guardian of Morals

From "The Invitation Heeded" by James Kent Stone (Fr. Fidelis of the Cross)

No Catholic ever turned Protestant in order to reform his morals and lead a better life. So undeniable is this fact that the Duke of Brunswick and Lunenburg numbered it among the Fifty Reasons which induced him to abjure Lutheranism and return to the Church of his forefathers. Let us put the matter in such a shape that no one will have the hardihood to demur. No Protestant ever because Catholic in order to throw off restriction and indulge his passions. The system of the Catholic Church is a system of restraints; the sinner is hedged about by her on ever side, and, if his heart be not right, her yoke is galling.* I have been asking for an explanation of the fact that the Church has so long withstood the assaults upon her; if I am requested in turn to furnish an intelligible reason why mankind should cherish against her such undying animosity, here is a sufficient answer: the Catholic Church wages ceaseless warfare against the lusts of the flesh.

*Erasums wrote, while the Reformation was yet in progress: "It seems as if the Reformation aimed at nothing more than to strip a few monks of their habits, and to marry a parcel of priests; and this great tragedy terminates at last in a conclusion that is entirely comical, since, just like comedies, all ends in marriage." "What an evangelical generation this is!" "Nothing was ever seen more licentious, and, withal, more seditious; nothing, in a word, less evangelical than these pretended evangelists." "They set fire to the house in order to cleanse it. Morals are neglected; luxury, debauchery, increase more than ever; there is no order, no discipline among them. The people indocile, after having shaken off the yoke of their superiors, will believe no person; and in so disordered a licentiousness, Luther will soon have reason to regret what he calls the tyranny of bishops." "I find more piety in one good Catholic bishop than in all these new evangelists." Epist., Bossut.

James Kent Stone converted to the Catholic Church after Pius IX, on convoking the Vatican Council, invited Protestants to return to the Church which Christ established. His unprejudiced response, after long and careful examination of conscience, was to leave the priesthood of the Protestant Episcopal Church (USA) and enter the priesthood of the Catholic Church and entered the Passionists, where, known as Fr. Fidelis of the Cross, he late in life, served in their highest office.

Today from Divine Intimacy (repost)

From Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.,

In truth, Jesus could well repeat to each one of us: “What more could I have done for you that I have not done?” (cf. Is 5:4). Oh, would that our generosity in giving ourselves to Him had no limits, after the pattern of His own liberality in giving Himself to us!

“O good Lord Jesus Christ, my sweet Shepherd, what return shall I make to You for all that You have given me? What shall I give You in exchange for Your gift of Yourself to me? Even if I could give myself to You a thousand times, it would still be nothing, since I am nothing in comparison with You. You, so great, have loved me so much and so gratuitously, I who am so small, so wicked and ungrateful! I know, O Lord, that Your love tends toward the immense, the infinite, because You are immense and infinite. Please tell me, O Lord, who I ought to love You.

“My love, O Lord, is not gratuitous, it is owed You…. Although I cannot love You as much has I should, You accept my weak love. I can love You more when You condescend to increase my virtue, but I can never give You what You deserve. Give me then, Your most ardent love by which, with your grace, I shall love You, please You, serve You, and fulfill Your commands. May I never be separated from You, either in time or in eternity, but abide, united to You in love, forever and ever: (Ven R. Jourdain).

I've reposted this before I realized I'd posted it before. This time, what I have realized is that although we are not capable of gratuitously returning love to God who has gratuitously loved us who did not merit His love, we can "walk in His way" by gratuitously loving those who do not merit our love. (Love the Lord your God... (not gratuitous, but owed) and your neighbor (gratuitously, as God does).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

UNICEF Calls for Legal Abortion in Dominican Republic

United Nations imperialism.

"...Nils Kastberg, UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, interjected himself, calling on Dominican legislators to consider liberalizing abortion so women would not be forced into “unsafe procedures.”

This type of interjection carries the weight of the United Nations behind it and is quite intimidating to smaller countries. That is why it is commendable that the land of St. Dominic [Santo Dominigo] has stood its ground so far against this type of domination.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

News from Mike Lee

Christos Anesti! (Christ is Risen!)
Alithos Anesti! (Indeed He is Risen)

Dear Friends of Mike and Family,

Here is the link to the latest news from the Lee family in Austria. Read to find out about Mike's accomplishments and his gratitude, and also find out where the family will be spending the summer!!


Bless you and thank you for your continued prayers and support!
The Friends of the Mike Lee Family

Sign of the times - Coup de Culture

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Gospel according to Fred

One of our chapter members has been engaged in an email discussion with a Baptist whom I will call “Fred,” who has written extensively and with presumed authority, establishing rules by which the Holy Scriptures are to be understood. This is just a look at a corner of

The Gospel according to Fred:

I do depend with my heart upon that great Teacher that Jesus promised would lead the dedicated, studious, and committed child of God into "all truth," (John 14:16-17; 15:26; 16:7-16)!

Looking at this statement using Fred's rule; “consider every passage under these guidelines: Who is talking, who is being taught”

14:16. And I will ask the Father: and he shall give you

another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever:

14:17. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,

because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him. But you shall

know him; because he shall abide with you and shall be in


In Fred’s first citation, Jesus is speaking, the Apostles are being spoken to. Here is a record of a promise made to them (the Apostles) forever, which in the Church for almost 2000 years has been continuously interpreted to mean “the Apostles and their successors.” Fred has chosen to interpret it to mean the promise is made to the “dedicated, studious, and committed child of God” This is an interpretation completely without support in the text. In fact, the condition applied is not being studious or dedicated or committed, but “keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).

15:26. But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you

from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from

the Father, he shall give testimony of me.

Jesus is speaking, the Apostles are present, and to them He makes a promise. In order to apply this to ourselves, we have to insert an interpretation into these words. No where is there a clear statement that the “dedicated, studious, and committed child of God” will be led “into all truth” Fred has made an leap from the Apostles to himself, and then from “testimony of me” to “all truth”

Fred’s last leap is even more extensive (Jn 16:7-16).

16:12. I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot

bear them now.

16:13. But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will

teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself: but

what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak. And the

things that are to come, he shall shew you.

Jesus is clearly speaking to the Apostles. Fred believes he personally is being taught that he is in possession of the Holy Spirit’s personal guidance into all truth (John 16:13) rather than there are many things which he, Fred, cannot bear (John 16:12). We can test this, as John has elsewhere instructed us to (1 Jn 4:1) when spirits are claimed.

Now, if Fred is lead by the Holy Spirit to “all truth,” then because Truth is Truth, and Truth is One, there will be agreement in Truth between Fred and every other Christian (actually and in fact) led by the Holy Spirit to “all truth.” If there is disagreement between those who claim to be led by the Holy Spirit to Truth, then one or both are in error, having not yet arrived at truth. Since I can easily find a Christian making the same claims as Fred, and yet disagreeing with him, how am I to tell the difference? Who really has the truth, and who is in error?

The bible bears testimony of the place to find the answer, although Fred rejects it because Fred does not really believe the bible, Fred believes what he thinks the bible means.

1 Tim 3:15. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou

oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is

the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rising from the dead

In 1984 when I worked at JPL I was given an "Otrona Attache." The Multimission Image Processing Lab (MIPL) building had just been wired with coax for a "network" (that wasn't completed by the time I left).

I'm sure by now that the coax has either been ripped from the walls, or is unused. The Otrona Attache will never "come back from the dead." But that's only a metaphor, as the device itself was never "alive" to begin with, its "life" only being measured in motion and utility, a mere metaphor. When it ceases to move, to have any usefulness, it's metaphoric "life" is over. Dustbin time.

It strikes me how much this parallels the view of human life as being nothing more than a biological machine, a machine without a soul; a machine that is dead when it doesn't move, and a machine that can be considered dead when it has no more utility. a machine that can be destroyed under myriad circumstances; but once gone, is gone.

Our vast array of junked machines do not turn themselves back on and work as good as new after being destroyed. While I would love to see my old 1967 Austin Healey back in the driveway with 0 miles on the odometer, pristine and new, the machines just don't do that and we don't pretend that they do.

Likewise, "reason" and experience indicates the same understanding of the biological machine, a thought that has gained the ascendency in the popular imagination; a machine that is used and is gone for good. They don't come back from the grave. So if it is reported to have happened, even once, it is dismissed as false, not because the evidence is lacking, but because since it is believed a priori that it cannot happen, it didn't because it is outside the realm of possibilities the modern mind will accept.

This is the corner the materialist has painted himself into. To be a materialist, contrary to popular miss-use of the term, is to believe only in the material, to deny the existence of the immaterial, first among which are God and the immortal soul. The materialist and skeptic have always been around, refusing to believe without a "proof" attainable to the senses, and refusing to believe even when it is provided. Jesus has certainly told us of them:

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." He said to them in reply, "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. Mt 12:38-40

The modern skeptic usually fails to consider that in a court of law, the testimony of reliable witnesses is the “proof” which is enough to prove a material fact beyond a reasonable doubt. The modern skeptic demands proof beyond an unreasonable doubt because he has made up his mind already and no amount of evidence will persuade him to change it. In a courtroom, the defense, prosecution, and judge will dismiss him from jury duty because he is hopelessly prejudiced; one cannot sit in judgment of what they do not know when they think they already know what they do not know.

There is only one sign for our skeptic; it is a narrow doorway to life, to the fundamental thing that the heart of man desires, and never attains with satisfaction; Love. As St. Augustine put it, "You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You."

Those who stand outside, please examine the testimony. Contrast it to the testimony of what you already believe. Perhaps you believe that life exists on other planets and that faster than light space travel is possible and even is going on somewhere in the universe; what does this represent but hope, rather than a belief based on testimony? The testimony of reliable witnesses regarding spaceflight (the discipline of physics), in fact, indicates the opposite. Perhaps you believe that Reiki does channel energies that can 'cure' your health problems. You have accepted the testimony of the Reiki boosters, and dismissed the testimony of the "scientists" who demand objective and verifiable facts, and do not find them.

My point is, that we become a maze of contradictory beliefs, all cobbled together on the most shaky of evidence, rather than selected because evidence indicates truth, but that what is offered somehow appeals to us and we "like it." Yet, when it comes to the case of the Christian Thing, all of a sudden, rules are applied which are not applied elsewhere. "But this is too important!" it is objected, not to apply a more stringent rule. Ah, that is indeed an intelligent thing to do when the stakes are high, but to then fail to do so, to dismiss out of hand the evidence, is not intelligent at all. This is too important for that.

The thing I find odd, is of all the goofy things that we as goofy people are prone to believe, the idea that an all-powerful God could and did raise a dead man from the grave, seems, well, not that big a deal. Perhaps it's because to enter the narrow door means new life; and that means change. The platitude “change is good,” it is often parroted, but it always comes with the implied caveat “you first.”