19 August 2014

Fantastic Photo Galleries from the August 5 Ordinations at St. Francis de Sales Oratory

There are two links of great photo galleries at the Institute's website, with some nice background information, too:  here and here. All photos, including the two here, by Donald Lee Photography.

Archbishop Robert Carlson on the Ferguson Situation

Posted at the Archdiocesan website:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are all aware of the turmoil and tragedy our St. Louis community is experiencing. The residents of Ferguson, Missouri, are struggling to find peace in the chaos. As people of Christ, we are struggling to find direction in the unrest.
I have personally visited Ferguson and Michael Brown's memorial to offer my prayers for everyone affected by this tragedy. As I have been observing this situation and reflecting on it through much prayer, I find strength in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace." In all circumstances, but especially in these difficult times, we are all called to be instruments of peace through our words and actions. Pope Francis recently stated that, "All men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace."
To that end, I invite the Catholic faithful to attend a Mass for Peace and Justice which I will celebrate at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, on Wednesday, August 20th, at 5 p.m. During the Mass a special collection will be taken to assist food pantries and parishes in the Ferguson area that offer assistance to those who have been affected by the looting and destruction of property. Additionally, I encourage all parishes to offer Masses for peace in our community. The Office of Worship will contact pastors to provide the appropriate resources. Additional parish activities could include Holy Hours, a parish rosary, or a special collection this week to assist in the effort.
Because many Catholic schools are beginning classes both this and in the coming weeks, I have asked our Catholic schools to begin a daily rosary for peace and to offer special intentions during all school Masses. Catholic Family Services, an agency of Catholic Charities, has made counselors available to any Catholic school that requests assistance. Catholic Family Services has also publicized tips for parents and schools when dealing with crisis situations.
Pope Francis has encouraged us again and again to ask Our Lady, the Undoer of Knots, to intercede for us in difficult circumstances. So too, I ask all the faithful in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to join me in praying to Our Blessed Mother and to her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, for peace and justice in our community.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson
Archbishop of St. Louis

18 August 2014

Christopher Ferrara is on a Roll

Christopher Ferrara over at The Remnant has been on quite the roll.  He is incisive, sometimes acerbic, but always sensibly Catholic.  Good stuff.  The past week or two have seen the posting of the following excellent articles, which I link below with a telltale excerpt:

In departing for Seoul, Pope Francis flew in a personal helicopter to a chartered jet embossed with a Vatican logo for the trip. During the flight an Alitalia crew provided first-class treatment to the Pope, who occupied “the first seat in business class with no one next to him,” and his large entourage. The service included a four-course Italian dinner... On arrival, the Pope walked down a long, red-carpeted airstair, and then a red carpet that appeared to be at least 200-feet-long, at the end of which he was greeted by leading South Korean dignitaries.

But then, at the end of the red carpet, Francis squeezed into the back seat of a Kia Soul, the kind of car a high school student might drive, provided upon his specific request for the “the smallest South Korean car during his visit” (that model is actually the second-smallest). This was supposed to demonstrate the Pope’s humility and frugality—after a chartered flight with first-class dining that must have cost more than a million dollars for the Pope and his entourage.

Is anybody really still buying this humility offensive? And how is it humble to refuse transportation suitable for a head of state in order to make a big show of riding around in a tin can during a trip that will cost tens of millions for chartered jets, rather sumptuous in-flight meals, security, food and accommodations on the ground, and the staging of massive public events? The whole spectacle is infuriating to anyone who recognizes that the manipulation of images typical of politicians is being applied to this pontificate, probably under the supervision of the Pope’s “PR genius” and “marketing mastermind,” Greg Burke.

Over the next two months the microbes of the neo-Modernist rebound infection that is the “Francis effect” will be moving rapidly toward the site of what could be a devastating flare-up of the infection: the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. First they came for the Roman Rite, which they destroyed. Then they came for the Church Militant, which they disarmed and surrendered to the spirit of the age. Now, at the Synod, which threatens to become Vatican II rebooted, progressivist bishops and their apparatchiks will be coming for the moral law itself under the guise of a search for “pastoral solutions” to “challenges facing the family”—more of the seditious slogans by which the ideology of Vatican-II-ism has eclipsed the doctrines of the Faith.

Alarmism? Read this: “The goal of the Synod of Bishops on the Family is not just to repeat doctrines but to find solutions for remarried divorcees and for everyone.” So says Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, no less than President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

But what “solutions” for the divorced and “remarried” do progressives like Paglia have in mind, given that for 2,000 years the Church has offered the only solution permitted by obedience to the teaching of Christ Himself: confession, absolution, and an end to adulterous relations, even if the couple must remain under one roof for the sake of the children. We do not need a Synod on the Family to “find” the same solution the Church has always insisted upon in fidelity to the Gospel, and which John Paul II reaffirmed unambiguously a mere 33 years ago in Familiaris Consortio.

As we see our Pope high-fiving a Protestant televangelist and prescribing ten rules for right living that Oprah would applaud, not one of which has anything to do with the Catholic Faith or eternal life, we realize that the embarrassing comedy of this papacy is not going to end. Indeed, it appears that Francis is just getting warmed up and that we may be dealing with a bottomless bag of tricks.

Someone whose vocation or avocation is commenting on Church affairs has three ways to approach this unprecedented situation: First, simply ignore Francis entirely while bashing the bishops for following his lead. This appears to be the neo-Catholics’ prescription in keeping with their historical role as enablers of the post-conciliar revolution, which is clearly entering a new and probably terminal phase. Second, raise an objection every time Francis says or does something objectionable, which would be almost every day. (As one wag put it: “If he doesn’t talk he’s not a bad Pope.”) Third, limit one’s objections to papal stunts that have serious theological implications as opposed to being merely ridiculous.

Holder Orders Autopsy-- a Third Autopsy

Again, Ferguson.

It's always dicey when a criminal case goes political.  Not just because of the obvious danger of the facts getting bent to the political end, but also for the opposite danger of the political end making dubious what would otherwise be easily-established facts.

Now we have a third autopsy on Michael Brown.

The second one, as a matter of prudence, I understood.  This one is a bit strange.  Maybe a criminal lawyer can comment if this happens very often.  But I wonder if the findings of the autopsies already conducted make the political agents uncomfortable:

From the New York Times:

FERGUSON, Mo. — Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was killed by a police officer, sparking protests around the nation, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday found.
One of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family’s request to conduct the separate autopsy. It was likely the last of bullets to hit him, he said.
Mr. Brown, 18, was also shot four times in the right arm, he said, adding that all the bullets were fired into his front.
The bullets did not appear to have been shot from very close range because no gunpowder was present on his body. However, that determination could change if it turns out that there is gunshot residue on Mr. Brown’s clothing, to which Dr. Baden did not have access.[...]
Again, it bears repeating that it is too early, and we have too few facts, to determine anything.  But the published autopsy reports, showing all shots hitting in the front, and Brown's head leaning forward, cast serious doubt on the claims of the eyewitness already made public.  There apparently is another tape found that recorded a conversation between witnesses at the scene (who didn't know they were being recorded) which fits with these autopsy findings.
My previous opinion that there was a 99% chance the officer gets convicted of some form of wrongful homicide has moved to 85%.  It might be lower, but politics are involved.
If there is no charge filed, or not conviction obtained, may I suggest you remain indoors awhile?

16 August 2014

Hmmm, I Wonder What Could Have Possibly Happened to Cause This?

Ferguson. It's on everybody's mind in St. Louis. Elsewhere, too, maybe, but it's different when these things happen in neighborhoods you know, to people you know.

The coverage locally has ranged from horrific propaganda to high quality old-school reporting. The Post-Dispatch's coverage at the scene has been terrific; its overall coverage in print and online is dimmed by its predictable, Stalin-era editorial template.

One really insightful item was printed today: a letter to the editor that really put its finger right on an issue I have been groping to figure out for days. I read it just after reading my brother's text to me wondering why St. Louis was chosen to be the scene of this shooting/riot/war zone/libertarian movement/Big Brother/budding race war media-driven agitprop.

I texted back, not really thinking about it: because it's Catholic.

But, as the above letter states so well, it's actually because it's not.

First, the letter, in its entirety:

"Catholic Church had role in keeping away '60s riots, but not today"

As a child growing up in St. Louis, I watched the news of LA, Chicago and New York City burning during the riots of the late 1960s. I remember being afraid that St. Louis would be next, but the riots did not come. Thank you for Tim O’Neil’s article reminding us of this time ("St. Louis area largely spared by civil rights-era rioting that hit other cities," online Aug. 11).

I wonder if the role and influence of St. Louis Roman Catholics had some impact on those who might have been inclined to riot. I am not suggesting that Catholics were devoid of racism (I know firsthand we weren't) but St. Louis had a rich history of Catholics standing up publicly and forcefully for racial equality.

One of the first acts of Archbishop Joseph Ritter when he was appointed to St. Louis was to desegregate the Catholic schools in 1947 and later Catholic hospitals. He urged priests, brothers, sisters and rank-and-file Catholics in the Archdiocese to support the civil rights movement in the early ’60s.

And, what kind of influence did our Catholic sisters in St. Louis have on keeping us from riots? Notre Dame, Josephite, Charity, Loretto sisters and others took very visible and strong positions in supporting civil rights, but most important they were in our schools and neighborhoods serving both black and white people and advocating social justice and equality.

We had a strong church in those days, which took unwavering and visible stands for equality and justice, unlike today with Catholic leaders who content themselves with protecting pedophiles and fighting basic civil rights protections for some of the most vulnerable in society. We had a church that was deeply involved in the inner city, unlike today a church that has largely abandoned it. We had a church that encouraged our sisters to speak up for social justice, unlike today when we have church leaders criticizing and castigating our sisters for doing just that.

Maybe that is a small reason why we did not have the riots other places did in the ’60s and we are a tinderbox today.

The writer gets it half-right. And makes the same mistake all those well-meaning 'reformers' made, and still make. He divorces the Catholic action from its essential Catholic Faith. It was no accident that those fed with the faith acted as Catholics, and that those who are not so fed do not so act.

He doesn't get it. What could have happened?

St. Louis: the Rome of the West. This description of our city is ancient and venerable. This city, named after a Catholic saint who knew how to govern, this city of so many beautiful Churches, is still with a superficial Catholic veneer. There is still a Catholic Culture of a sort. But it doesn't compare with that of the era the writer describes.

Let's see, in the 1960s, Catholics were located in these local neighborhoods. There were parishes. Schools. Priests and nuns. How ironic that the names of the religious orders the writer lists above are dead, either by aging out or embracing heresy, or both. And how few are the ranks of our priests.

In the 1960s, all Roman Rite Catholics assisted at the Traditional Mass. It calls for right conduct because it places an undeniable claim on the conscience of the believer. It fits the faith we profess, it explains that faith, it informs it and is informed by it. The personal holiness called for by it, and which holiness is increased by it, inevitably translated into Catholic action in a way that no worldly accommodation and compromise ever did. The "living waters" from inside the grace-filled believer well-up and spill over.

In the 1960s there were lots of Catholics, and lots of Practicing Catholics, and lots of Catholics with a long and proud history of standing firm against injustice and persecution.

I keep trying to figure out what could have happened since those days to make Catholics so few, so milquetoast, and so without leadership.

One thing for sure, we are told, is that it couldn't possibly be Vatican II.

The priests and nuns are gone. The Mass was nearly gone, and is just beginning to come back. Faith is no longer believed. Parishes in these troubled neighborhoods (and many other places) are closed. Lay Catholics act just like everybody else. And even of those who self-identify as Catholics, so few practice any part of their faith.

There is no meaningful force of Catholics to provide a moral backbone for our poorer communities. They aren't there to check violence. They aren't there to speak out against criminal injustice on either side of the police barricades. You're looking for the Loreto sisters, are you? Those still ambulatory are at the 'gay pride' parade, or deploring pollution. If 100 of them-- or a hundred of us-- were to kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament it would do more good than all the letters to the editor ever written.

It ain't happening. And don't blame Vatican II and the suppression of the Mass. Can't be that.

Keep thinking, though, because I'd really like to know.

What we have with a Church that has ceded the public moral sphere is this:

Power and self-indulgence.

With death all around.

15 August 2014

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

A blessed Feast of Our Lady to you all.

The Oratory's Mass schedule for this Holy Day of Obligation is as follows: Low Masses at 8 a.m. and 12:15p.m.; Solemn High Mass at 6:30 p.m.

14 August 2014

Ferguson and the Question of What Policing Means

To Serve and Protect

When I was growing up, the above motto summed up what the mission of the police was-- if not in every circumstance, at least in its own intent and in the public's desire.

Dragnet, that wonderfully cardboard propaganda series, and its slightly more dashing spin-off, Adam-12, are the poster children for this paradigm.  Norman Rockwell's famous depiction of the little boy seated at a diner counter with the friendly local cop-on-the-beat comes to mind.

Policing is necessary to ensure order in any society made up of human beings born in original sin.  It is often thankless, often dangerous.  Many fine men and women still take as their mission To Serve and Protect.  They still exist, they are out there, and deserve our thanks.

But this mission has not seemed to prevail in some circumstances and places, those places and circumstances seem to be on the rise.  Instead of the policeman in the blue uniform with the soft-cloth, brimmed, octagonal hat, armed with the authority of his office and a sidearm, we now see the Kevlar-encased, military-helmeted, AR-15 toting pseudo-warrior.


We are told the threats to the police are more dangerous.  Criminals have more firepower, and thus the police need to have more firepower.  Allowing some truth in this, the question remains.  Why? 

Take Ferguson, for instance.  On the first night of trouble, the police were out in force, dressed for trouble.  They got trouble.  The crowd was angry and things got out of hand.  Many stores were looted.  The police did nothing to interfere with this.  Many citizens' stores and property were destroyed or taken, and their lives were in danger.  Whom were the police protecting that night?

In the following days, the police, even more well-armed and using armored vehicles and tear gas, kept crowds from forming at all.  Looting was prevented.  One person was shot.  A reporter was arrested. Other reporters were made to disperse. 


After night one, I was appalled at the looters.  Very quickly I became disturbed by the authorities.

Police are supposed to serve and protect the citizenry, to defend lives first, and to ensure law and order.  Your rights, to life, liberty and property, are objects of this protection.  Yet in Ferguson, it seems that the police are seeking to protect the government they serve from the citizens it used to serve and protect.

Because of the racial powder keg that to date has not been in play in other military-style repression ops like Boston or Nevada, more people of influence have noticed:  why do the police look like soldiers? Because if you think about it, get enough soldiers in one place, and there is a term for that:  it's called an army.

Four articles in the press in the past 12 hours are relevant here: 

Gov. Nixon promises 'operational shift' in handling of Ferguson protests

St. Louis police chief says he does not support militarized tactics in Ferguson

Rand Paul: "We must demilitarize the police"

Police Chief rips Obama remarks

I don't pretend to know exact answers.  There is a need for an adequately armed police force.  That type of police force, with a proper mission, requires the support of citizens.  But we need to have a debate and a decision soon:  what is the mission of our police, and what are the appropriate means to effect it?

12 August 2014

By the Church or by the Gate?: "They do not seem to be your friends out there."

"You have given us a great deal of labour," he said, "and to no purpose. We shall have to report it all to my Lord Cromwell. I understand that you were the two who refused to sign the surrender. It was the act of fools, like this last. I have no authority to take you, so you had best be gone."

Dom Anthony answered him with an equally steady voice.

"We are ready to go now," he said. "You understand we have yielded to nothing but force."

Ralph's lips writhed in a smile.

"Oh! if that pleases you," he said. "Well, then--"

He took a step aside, and made a movement towards the gate where there sounded out still an angry hum beneath the shouting voice that was addressing them.

Chris turned to his father behind, and the voice died in his throat, so dreadful was that face that was looking at Ralph. He was standing as before, rigid it seemed with grief or anger; and his grey eyes were bright with a tense emotion; his lips too were as firm as his son's. But he spoke no word. Sir Nicholas was at his side, with one foot advanced, and in an attitude as if to spring; and Morris's face looked like a mask over his shoulder.

"Well, then--" said Ralph once more.

"Ah! you damned hound!" roared the young squire's voice; and his hand went up with the whip in it.

Ralph did not move a muscle. He seemed cut in steel.

"Let us go," said Dom Anthony again, to Chris, almost tenderly; "it is enough that we are turned out by force."

"You can go by the church, if you will," said Ralph composedly. "In fact--" He stopped as the murmur howled up again from the gate-- "In fact you had better go that way. They do not seem to be your friends out there."

"We will go whichever way you wish," remarked the elder monk.

-- Robert Hugh Benson, The King's Achievement

It is impossible to contemplate the events in St. Louis during the last 72 hours without reflecting on how thin the veneer of society-- of law, of peace-- really is. Perhaps as every good Catholic should meditate on the Four Last Things, we should also meditate on the prospect of mob rule in our communities as a real possibility. And as the meditation on the Four Last Things ought not to paralyze us with fear, but instead spur us to holy preparedness, so too here.

Our Lord warned us of persecution for the faith, in the Last Days and also at other times not so dramatic. Sometimes persecution is robed with the appearance of law and process, as when our ancestors were killed by Roman emperors or English monarchs. Sometimes the mob will have its way with us, as the crowds that sought to stone Our Lord and St. Paul, or the Masonic revolutionary mobs of France with their guillotine.

Other times, as Grampa Simpson would say, it's a little bit of column A, a little bit of column B.

If you have seen old black and white photos of Americans during the Great Depression, you can picture the scene: almost quaint-- lines of patient job seekers calmly lined up around the block, as well-dressed as their circumstances allowed, seeking the dignity of work, respecting each other. These people had a common Christian outlook, a common set of societal principles. Despite economic collapse, society held.

If you think that scenario would be repeated today, you are delusional. If you haven't marked Ferguson as a preview coming attractions, you probably ought to wake up soon.

Society is on edge, the economy teeters. Catholics are about the only group safe to blame for our problems. If the Nero of antiquity did it, wouldn't today's Nero do the same? And Catholics themselves seemingly are without firm leadership on the ground. It can be easy to feel alone.

Pray. Hope. Love. We will go by the Church, to safety; or by the gate, where the mob awaits. One will be taken, one will be left. It is in God's hands; we must ready, awaiting Him as a servant expects his Master's return. Blessed is that servant whom His Lord finds ready at His return.

Back to work.