Sunday, July 19, 2009

Update part deux, electric boogaloo

It seems only courteous that I inform my readers that I received my acceptance letter from the seminary on Friday. So I am now officially a seminarian. I no longer need any adjectives to hedge my bets against a possible, if unlikely, change of circumstances. I am a seminarian.

I move down to the seminary on August 26. I'll be spending the remaining month trying to tie up a number of loose ends on various other fronts, as well as making sure I have everything I need. I am going to have to go get measured for a cassock so I can have a properly fitted one for cassock day in October. This is simultaneously very cool and a little scary.

Your prayers, as always, are very much appreciated.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Incredible claims

"Incredible claims require incredible evidence," can only mean, "claims that I choose to reject willfully and a priori require evidence that I will not choose to reject willfully and a priori." This is entirely a matter of the speaker's intellectual and volitional dispositions. But a speaker's intellectual and volitional dispositions have no effect on the truth, i.e. the reality, of a claim. Thus the the idea that, "incredible claims require incredible evidence," is not relevant to judging the truth or falsity, i.e. the reality or non-reality, of any particular claim.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

An Update

I know that some are interested in an update on my status as a candidate for seminary.

Here it is: I am in. After reviewing my information and the recommendation from the diocesan Commission for Orders and Ministries, my bishop has given his approval for my sponsorship as a seminarian.

I literally just got the letter from the diocese this past Saturday. And on that same day the diocesan vocations director called me and invited me to the seminarians' summer get together on Tuesday and Wednesday. So I spent Monday getting ready and taking care of various errands.

I still need to be accepted to the seminary itself, since it is run by another, neighboring diocese. According to the vocations director, as well as every other priest I know, this is a formality. No one approved by their bishop has every been denied acceptance. So I am now, for all intents and purposes, a seminarian.

I would like to thank everyone who has prayed for me and my discernment. If you could continue to remember me in your prayers and ask God to help me further discern His will in my life, I would be grateful.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Prayer request

Today, June 15, 2009, at approximately 2:30 PM, EST, I will be interviewed by the Commission for Orders and Ministries of my diocese. This is a panel of priests who have been given the various material I have had to submit as part of the process for applying to seminary. Having gone over it, they will use this time to ask me any questions this material may have brought up. After the interview they will suggest to my bishop whether or not I should be accepted as a seminarian. His Excellency will take their suggestion into account when he makes his final decision.

This is one of the last steps in the process of becoming a seminarian. If any of you would be so kind as to remember me in your prayers today, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My how the Liturgy of the Hours for today is difficult

OK, so...

Today is Corpus Christi... except, in the U.S., it's not. Fine. I think that moving the Solemnity so people don't have to attend Mass more than once a week is a bad idea, but I'm not in charge and - since I don't have access to a 1962 Breviary and thus cannot choose to use the old calendar for today - I am obediently praying the Liturgy of the Hours for St. Barnabas the Apostle.

One problem. St. Barnabas is on the calendar as a memorial. Both the Ordinary of the Liturgy of the Hours, i.e. the rubrics written in red, and the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours say that memorials are not celebrated during the daytime hours of terce, sext and none (or midmorning, midday, and midafternoon prayer, if you prefer). But St. Barnabas has proper readings for terce, sext and none. So what's a man to do? Does the fact that he has proper readings trump the general norms? I am leaning towards not using the readings in his proper since both the rubrics and the praenotanda seem to say that I shouldn't.

Does anyone out there have a 2009 Ordo for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite in the United States? What does it say?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

On textual criticism

I would never deny that textual criticism can have its uses in the study of Sacred Scripture. But I am skeptical about how all-powerful this usefulness is.

For example, the Fathers confirm that the Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John and the three Epistles of John. Some textual critics argue that this cannot be correct because of the difference in writing style.1 To investigate this further, I will propose and experiment.

Here is something I wrote on a lark in college. Read it and, if you are familiar with the general tone of this blog, tell me if you would have guessed it and this blog were written by the same man if you had not been told:
I don't trust the Care Bears. They're up to something. I believe that they are an alien species bent on conquering the Earth. Think about it. They live in the sky, among the stars. They fly around in strange vehicles.

And how comes they're always trying to spread peace and love? Because they want us all to be shiny, happy people? I think not. They're trying to disarm humanity and take away our ability to fight. When we have disarmed and all people are living in harmony, they will launch their quick and devastating attack, destroying our communications infrastructure and murdering world leaders. After this quick coup they will rule us all with an iron fist... er, uh... paw.

What I don't understand is how I am the only one to see it. They fire lasers from their freaking stomachs. FROM THEIR FREAKING STOMACHS PEOPLE! They use these tummy-lasers to eliminate any enemies that stand in the way of their diabolical plan of slowly sifting the fighting spirit out of the human race.

Once this information goes public, I will probably be targeted for "caring." I can only hope that this message reaches enough people in time. Don't let this cuddly alien menace get away with it. Fight these hibernating hell-bringers with all your strength. Do it for humanity.
I hope this experiment has been useful to you.

1 I'm honestly not all that up on the current ins and outs of Biblical scholarship. Is this still a popular view? It certainly was when I was in high school and college.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The logic of modernity

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State. ~Planned Parenthood v Casey
I believe that I've written explicitly enough that the killing of George Tiller was murder, and that it was both evil and foolish for Roeder to do so. That being said, let us reason together.

The quote above is, as stated, from the decision in the Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v Casey. That means, at least insofar as the present day workings of the legal system of these United States goes, that the quoted position is to be taken as a basic principle contained in and protected by the Constitution of the United States. Now assume the following: Roeder defines human life in such a way that abortionists are not included under it, or at least under the category of human life whereby one is protected by a right to not be killed. Or assume Roeder defines the universe in such a way that it is a moral imperative for abortionists to be killed because of what they do. Or assume both, or any similar type of position, or every similar type of position.

Under such an assumption, how can Roeder be prosecuted for murder? He has a basic Constitutional right to define these things for himself, and to do so without any compulsion from the State. That compulsion obviously includes using laws against his position to punish him. This is the same logic that says abortion must be legal, else we would we using "compulsion" to define things like life for people and thus denying them their liberty. If Roeder holds any position similar to the ones given above, then he should be immune from prosecution under the Constitution of the United States as authoritatively interpreted by the United States' Supreme Court.

In other words, the logic of modernity and basic consistency demand that Roeder be free from prosecution by the State. If they were truly consistent, then pro-aborts would be decrying Tiller's murder, but at the same time they would be decrying any attempt to prosecute Roeder. They would admit that they do not like the murder of abortionists. But the answer to that is simple: if you don't like abortionists being murdered, then don't murder one. They would reach across the aisle, extending hands of peace and cooperation, so that both pro-lifers and pro-aborts could work together to make the murder of abortionists safe, legal and rare.

This is what logic would demand. Moderns love to claim the mantle of logic and reason. Let us see if any actually follow their first principles were logic leads.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


This is interesting, especially the Habermas quote. But, as far as practical matters go, demographics are destiny. If Europeans don't start having children, there soon won't be anybody left to practice the faith, comeback or no.

And now for something completely different...

I was browsing "teh interwebs" and saw this post by (amazing) sci-fi author John C. Wright. And, because I'm tired and feeling a bit whimsical, I thought I'd roll with it (even if I don't use ::shudder:: LiveJournal).

My wallpaper is a picture of one of the marines from Warhammer 40,000's Black Templar Space Marine chapter. Someone, somewhere on the web, used the drawing to make one of those "motivational poster" parodies. I'm using it because, for all its faults, the 40k universe can be fun. And because I like the caption. And because the Black Templars are kind of awesome.

You can click on the thumbnail for full size version of my desktop. AWE at a chance to get a glimpse into parts of my mind to which you have never before had access! MARVEL at the number of icons and files on my desktop! CRINGE as I continue to write cheesy lines like this one!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Contraception, abortion, euthanasia and the slippery slope

(N.B. This is a slightly modified form of an argument I first wrote in one of Mark Shea's comment boxes. The original is available here.)

There are a number of people who have pointed out that the acceptance of contraception will lead to the acceptance of abortion and euthanasia. Think, for example, of the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI in Humanae vitae. Yet there are many who argue that such a stance is an example of the fallacious slippery slope form of argument.

The argument that the acceptance of contraception logically leads to the acceptance of abortion and euthanasia is not a slippery slope. It entails necessary conclusions drawn from what the acts of contraception, abortion and euthanasia are, and from the principles that must be accepted to view these acts as morally acceptable.

Sex causes babies. This is what sex does. To say that there is a right to contraception entails holding that one has a right to the cause of babies - sex - without the result that naturally follows - the babies themselves.

Principle 1: a right to sex without babies.

There is, however, a problem: no form of contraception is 100% reliable. Barrier methods fail, pills fail &c. But we already necessarily hold that there is a right to sex without babies. Thus there must be an all purpose backup that will eliminate babies in the cases were contraception fails. This is abortion. This is how abortion was historically argued for by a number of people, i.e. as a necessary backup to contraception.

Moreover, it is still how abortion is argued for today. Please see this HuffPo article that Mark Shea links to here: "Others find that their dignity depends on being able to end the pregnancy." Human dignity depends on Principle 1, on the right to sex without babies. Thus human dignity depends on abortion.

There is, however, a problem. From the moment of conception there is a genetically unique, self-contained, self-directed, genetically human life. This is a fact that science - today's great god-king of all that is knowable - confirms. There is no logical way to say that this life is anything other than a human being. But Principle 1 necessarily demands that this innocent human being can be killed if it is not desired. Thus it must follow that human life only has worth dependent on circumstances. It has no inherent worth in itself.

Principle 2: Human life has no inherent worth.

Now, the chronically sick and the elderly can be difficult to care for. Caring for them can be just as difficult, if not more difficult, than raising children. But we have already posited a right to sex without children. How can we have a right to be free of the latter "burden," but not the former? We cannot, and Principle 2 gives us the way out.

The chronically sick and the elderly live lives that are of a lesser quality than others do. They live with pain. They suffer a loss of qualities such as speed, strength, agility, beauty &c. They are a "burden" on those who have to take care of them and are usually without a means giving much of anything back as compensation for being such a "burden."

We would certainly appraise the value of anything else that had so many detriments with so few benefits as being of little worth. And since Principle 2 holds that human life has no inherent worth, we can appraise the value of a human life the same way we would appraise the value of anything else. Thus we can appraise the life of the chronically ill and the elderly as being worthless and eliminate them is we so choose.

Contraception necessarily requires abortion because the principle behind the acceptance of contraception is that we have a right to sex without babies, and the only way to fully guaranty sex without babies is to have abortion as a backup for the failure of ontraception. The acceptance of abortion necessarily requires that some innocent human life is worth less than others and can thus be taken if it is undesirable. It thus becomes a necessary principle that human life has no inherent worth. And if human life has no inherent worth, then there is no reason why the life of the chronically ill and elderly cannot be appraised as having little worth and eliminated so as to relieve the burden that would otherwise be imposed on those who would have to care for them.

In proof form:

If you accept a right to contraception, then you accept Principle 1.

If you accept Principle 1, then you accept that abortion is a right.

Therefore, if you accept a right to contraception, then you accept that abortion is a right.

That is a valid hypothetical syllogism.

If you accept that abortion is a right, then you accept Principle 2.

If you accept Principle 2, then you accept euthanasia.

Therefore, if you accept that abortion is a right, then you accept euthanasia.

That is another valid hypothetical syllogism.

If you accept a right to contraception, then you accept that abortion is a right.

If you accept that abortion is a right, then you accept euthanasia.

Therefore, if you accept a right to contraception, then you accept euthanasia.

This is yet another valid hypothetical syllogism.

The conclusion is thus proved: If you accept contraception, logical adherence to principles demands that you accept abortion and euthanasia.

Monday, June 01, 2009

On the murder of George Tiller

I have seen a number of Catholics question whether the killing of the child-murderer George Tiller was actually an act of murder. In more than one place I have seen an analogy drawn between the act of the killer and the assassination of Hitler planned and attempted by Colonel Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. The thinking seems to be that, since both Hitler and Tiller were mass murderers, if killing one can be justified, so can killing the other. The analogy not only fails, but it does dishonor to the memory of Colonel Stauffenberg by associating him with a murderer. I will take the time to spell out why and in what ways the analogy fails for the sake of honoring a true German patriot and hopefully shedding some light on some bad moral philosophy and theology.

First, the analogy fails because Stauffenberg did not attempt to assassinate Hitler simply qua mass murderer, but qua tyrant. And even this can be argued as potentially suspect, since tradition has generally held that a tyrant by usurpation can be justly killed but a tyrant by oppression must be deposed by legal, not extra-legal, means. Indeed, the Syllabus of Pius IX condemned the proposition that, "It is lawful to refuse obedience to legitimate princes, and even to rebel" (prop. 63). See the article from the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia for more information.

Now, it can be argued that a tyrant by oppression can become a tyrant by usurpation when they extend their power in a manner that is contrary to the law and constitution of their nation. As far as I can see, such an argument appears sound. Thus Hitler would have been a tyrant by usurpation after illegally taking the presidential power for himself following the death of President Paul von Hindenburg, if for no other reason - and I'm sure that at least a few more, if not many, could be found. But even given this, the analogy fails.

The second reason the analogy fails as follows: even if one is acting against a tyrant, one is only justified in acting if doing so will do less harm to the tyrant's subjects than the tyrant's continued rule (Summa Theologia (hereafter ST), II-II, q. 42 ad 3). Even if Tiller where somehow analogous with a tyrant qua tyrant, this does not hold. The potential lives saved - and they are only potential, since we neither have evidence that anyone who was signed up for an abortion with him would have gone through with it, nor that he would not have eventually been stopped by legal means due to performing abortions after it was legal to do so, nor that the grace of God would not have moved him to repentance, nor that some other doctor will not now willingly step in and take his place due to the fact that the pro-abortion crowd can now treat him as their own twisted version of a martyr - these potential lives saved do not seem to outweigh the potential lives lost due to the marginalization of the pro-life message that will be attempted following the act, a marginalization that will further set back the legal battle against abortion.

But even if the lives saved do potentially outweigh the lives lost, the analogy still fails for a third reason. Tiller was not a tyrant. He did not have any special authority over the abortion laws of his state or of the union. Indeed, he willingly violated those laws that did exist. He was an evil man, but no private individual has the right to take the life of an evil man of his own volition. This authority rests with those people who have responsibility for maintaining the common welfare of society, and here only through those means as set out by the law (ST II-II, q. 62, a. 3c).

Finally, some have offered a hypothetical situation: suppose we find out that the man who killed Tiller was acting in the defense of a child or grandchild who was scheduled to be aborted by Tiller later that week? Even if this hypothetical is true, the act would still be murder for at least two reasons.

First, because self-defense must be proportionate to the threat (ST II-II, q. 62, a. 7c). Since the hypothetical child we are speaking of was not immediately under Tiller's knife, the violence used was not proportional to the immediate threat to the hypothetical child's life. Tiller's attacker could have first attempted to convince the mother of the hypothetical child not to go through with the abortion. Failing that, he could have restrained her until she gave birth. Such an act would have been illegal, but the attacker apparently had no qualms in breaking the law, and such an act would have been proportional to the threat at the time.

Second, even if the physical force used would have been proportional to the threat, a private individual still cannot intend to kill an attacker, only to repulse the attack with the force necessary for doing so (ibidem). To intend otherwise would be to violate the aforementioned rule forbidding private individuals from taking the life of an evildoer of their own volition.

There is no analogy between Tiller's killer and Colonel Stauffenberg. The tradition of Catholic moral philosophy and theology clearly appear to condemn the killing of Tiller as an evil act of murder. We may not do evil that good may come of it. And of those who say we can, I offer only the words of St. Paul: damnatio iusta est, "their damnation is just" (Romans iii.viii).

As for the fall-out of this act, my opinions have already been written. They once again boil down to this: "Unfurl the black banner. Quarter neither asked for nor given. No Surrender, no retreat."

I know that, given the ludicrous, hysterical and void of documentation Homeland Security Report we found out about not two months ago, I may be suspect as a "domestic terrorist" simply because I called a spade a space and said that Tiller was a murderer and evil, even though I did it while condemning his own murder. But I already had a Ron Paul bumper sticker on my car, so I was suspect long before writing this. I plan to become even more suspect by eventually adding a Gadsden flag bumper sticker, a Bonnie Blue flag bumper sticker, a 1st National flag bumper sticker, and maybe even a Jolly Roger bumper sticker. So color me not all that frightened.

Indeed, given that same report, and the fact that the last such murder or attempted murder was over ten years ago, I am not yet certain that this whole thing is not simply a false flag. But I take heart in the fact that today is the memorial of St. Justin Martyr. To quote the saint: "For as for us, we reckon that no evil can be done us, unless we be convicted as evil-doers or be proved to be wicked men; and you, you can kill, but not hurt us" (First Apology, Chapter 2). "You can kill, but not hurt us." Words to remember when things seem darkest.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Swiss Option

An interesting quote:
In the First World War, General Ulrich Wille led the Swiss to victory. Victory consisted of successfully avoiding the conflict. As someone put it, "We won by having no war." In the Second World War, the victorious Swiss general was Henri Guisan, of the Canton de Vaud. There is a General Guisan Quai in Zurich, a Quai General Guisan in Geneva. In every part of Switzerland, there are streets and plazas and equestrian statues—there are busts on plinths overhung with banners and flags—doing honor to the general of an army that did not fight. Switzerland defends itself on what it calls the Porcupine Principle. You roll up into a ball and brandish your quills. In the words of Divisionnaire Tschumy, "The foremost battle is to prevent war with a price of entry that is too high. You must understand that there is no difference between the Swiss people and the Swiss Army. There is no difference in will. Economic, military—it’s the same thing. For seven hundred years, freedom has been the fundamental story of Switzerland, and we are not prepared to give it up now. We want to defend ourselves, which is not the same as fighting abroad. We want peace, but not under someone else’s condition...."
John McPhee, La Place de la Concorde Suisse, 12-3.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Our socity's big lie

N.B. Off the cuff at 3AM, when I'm mad because I can't fall back to sleep and made even madder by some lies that I just read.

One is often told that one cannot impose one's morality on others. One may disapprove of abortion, contraception, feminism, divorce, homosexuality &c. One may believe these things to be immoral, and one may even be correct about it. But one cannot use coercive force, such as the force of law, to impose such a moral code upon others against their will.

People who argue this way are essentially arguing that we live in a libertarian society. The basic principles of such a society are that my life and property belong to me, and I can do anything I wish with them as long as it does not do harm to the life and property of others. Generally, when someone argues this way with you, the best response is to laugh in their face.

I wish I lived in a libertarian society. It would be an improvement.

Why do I say this? Because the idea that these United States are a libertarian society is a big lie.

Suppose I am a property owner seeking to rent apartments in a building I own. Now suppose some homosexuals came seeking to rent one of my apartments. Further suppose that I tell them I will not rent them an apartment because the acts they engage in are an abomination against God and the natural order, so would they please remove themselves from my property posthaste and never darken my door again. Tell me what would happen.

I will tell you what would happen. I would be sued for discrimination and I would almost certainly lose.

Suppose I am a business owner seeking to hire a new employee. Now suppose a married woman with feminist leanings applies for the position. Further suppose that I inquire if her husband works and, if so, why it is necessary for her to work as well. Suppose, after hearing her response - whether it be an answer or a refusal to answer, telling me the reasons are none of my business - I tell her that I will not hire her because, as a wife, her primary job should be in the home unless circumstances demand otherwise, and she has not convinced me that her current circumstances make such a demand on her. Tell me what would happen.

I will tell you what would happen. I would be sued for discrimination and I would certainly lose.

And that is why we do not live in a libertarian society, a society that is neutral on anything that is not an immediate threat to life or property rights. In a libertarian society I would have every right to respond in the manner described above. No one has a right to the use of my property until I enter into contract with them and give them such a right in exchange for some wealth or services. No one has a right to my wealth until I enter into contract with them and give them such a right in exchange for some goods or services.

That is the lie at the heart of our society: the idea that it is neutral on the question of what is good and simply enforces the basic rights of life and property while allowing each one of us to decide for ourselves. If that were true, then homosexuals, feminists, pro-aborts &c. could not use the force of the law to force us to acknowledge their lies. Pharmacies could not be forced to sell contraceptives, adoption agencies could not be forced to place children with homosexuals, doctors could not be forced to perform - or to refer patients to those who will perform - abortions &c.

In a truly libertarian society the worst the cultural and moral destroyers could do is denounce us as bigots and try to convince people not to associate with us or patronize our businesses. That might be bad, but at least they could not use the coercive power of the state to force us to cave to their demands, to ruin us financially, or to fund their degeneracy. That is why I wish I lived in a libertarian society. It might fall short of a truly Catholic society in any number of ways, but in such a society I could at least live freely as a Catholic without being forced to cooperate formally or materially with any number of grave evils.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The true nature of our conflict

I would encourage anyone who wants to better understand the true nature of our conflict to read this lecture by Fr. Thomas Crean O.P. It discusses the meaning behind the idea of the two cities, the City of God and the city of man, using the thought of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Popes.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What to do?

I have spent some of the last week thinking, "What to do?" Not necessarily what I should do personally, though that is part of it, but more along the lines of what we, Catholics of the Church in these United States and throughout the world, should do.

The only answer I can come up with is this: unfurl the black banners.

I am not sure how familiar anyone is with this phrase. Daniel Larison uses it from time to time. From reading what he has said about it, it appears that he picked it up from a novel entitled Black Banners, by the late Erik Maria Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn.

The black banner has been used by various groups throughout the years. Pirates have used it - it is the origin of the Jolly Roger - anarchists have used it, reactionaries have used it &c. Its meaning is simple. It is the opposite of the white banner. A white banner means surrender, it is a plea that quarter be given. The black banner declares that there will be neither surrender nor retreat, that quarter will neither be asked for nor given. In short, the unfurling of the black banner states that there are only two acceptable outcomes: victory or death.

There is a reason that the Church on earth has traditionally been called the Church Militant. It is because we are at war. At war with the world, at war with the flesh, at war with the devil. One can either be a partisan of truth or a partisan of error. One cannot choose not to choose. In the end, choosing not to choose is choosing the side of the enemy. It is long passed time to pick sides and draw swords, gentlemen. To quote Fr. Angelo's sidebar, "Attend upon your weapons and commence at will."

Etymology and hatred

Inspired by, "an act of contempt," which jumped out and presented itself to me as another one of the many reasons I shouldn't use Facebook.

Etymology is interesting. Take the word 'contempt' for example. It is derived from the Latin word contemnere, which means, "to despise," or, "to think little of." Contemnere itself is derived from the Latin word temnere, meaning, "to scorn," or, "to despise," and the prefix, "con-," a form of cum, which means, "with," or, "to associate with." 'Contempt' refers to associating a thing with scorn or disdain. 'Disdain' is itself and interesting word. It is derived from the Latin dedignari, a combination of the verb dignari, meaning, "to deem worthy," and the prefix, "de-," which means, "out of," or, "from," leading to it being associated with the idea of removal or reversal. So disdain is the reversal of deeming a thing of having some worth, i.e. to deem a thing to be of no worth or value.

Now what is interesting here is that a man who deems a thing to be of no value does not go out of his way to attack it. He simply walks away from it and ignores it. A man who has contempt for the penny does not start a campaign to eliminate the penny, he simply refuses to to use them, leaving them behind in those little dishes at check-outs or turning them into larger change. He will not stoop to pick up a penny, but he doesn't denounce the penny at the top of his voice. To do so would to give it more attention than it is worth. A man does not attack what he despises, what he has contempt for. He attacks what he hates. But hatred, for all its negative connotations, does not deal in worthlessness, in insignificance. It is not insignificant things that we truly hate, it is significant ones. Annoyances can he ignored, it is monsters that must be killed.

This leaves us with a question we must ask: "What does it say about a man who hates - truly, viscerally hates - the single longest continuing organization of the West? An organization that, for whatever good or ill one might accuse it of, is at the roots of the civilization in which he lives.

Does he care for reason? It is this organization whose monks preserved learning, both practical and theoretical, when the lights went out on civilization and the barbarians ran rampant over the land. It was this organization that civilized the barbarians. It was this organization that created the university and the hospital.

Does he value freedom? It is this organization that said the authority of kings has its limits, and that the use of power was not a rule in itself but was rather ruled by justice. It was the organization that said that there was more to life than the state, which must be contained to its proper sphere.

To hate the Catholic Church is to hate Western Civilization. To hate Western Civilization is, for western man, to hate himself, for he is its product and heir. Hatred of the Catholic Church - true, pure hatred of it - is born of self-hatred. And true self-hatred is born of a guilty conscience, one that continually whispers, "This is not how man was meant to live. The pleasure you pretend to revel in is empty, the pain you ignore is deep and true."

A man who does evil must necessarily hate himself in some way. He must either hate the evil he does, and seek mercy; or he must hate that in himself which accuses him, and seek to destroy it. And if he wishes to destroy it, he must try to destroy that which constantly reminds him of the accusations.

The Church is the conscience of this and every age. An age that despises and seeks to kill conscience is one that must despise and seek to kill the Church. We live in such an age. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri. Have mercy on us, Lord, for all our foolish hatred. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

NB: This is a reductio ad absurdum, not serious moral advice.

I urge all married men to give into their urges to seduce that co-ed who babysits their children or that young secretary at work. It's no big deal. If your wife catches you and feels betrayed, just say, "Honey, it couldn't have been evil. After all, I've done the same thing with you and you thought that was just fine."

After all, the same hip-thrusting action is going on in both activities. It's as absurd to call one "adultery" as it is to call the waterboarding of prisoners "torture." After all, we perform the same actions on our own troops in training, right? So it can't be evil.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Love Our Pope

Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Remission of the Excommunication of the Four Bishops Consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre

A highlight:
The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life (Emphasis added).
And another:
The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects (Emphasis added).
And finally:
At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint (Emphasis added).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Something worth reading

Sandro Magister, "A Philosopher Reissues the Pope's Wager: To Live as if God Exists."

A brief article on Robert Spaemann's newest - at least as of October 31, 2008 - book, which does not yet seem to be available in English. Following the article are some excerpts.

My favorite bit:
With the loss of the idea of truth comes the loss of the idea of reality. Our speaking and thinking that which is, is structured in an inevitably temporal form. We cannot think of something as real without thinking of it in the present, meaning that it is real "now." Anything that has been only in the past, or will be only in the future, has never been and never will be. That which is now, at one time was in the future and will be in the past. The "futurum exactum," the future perfect, is inseparable from the present. Saying that a present event will no longer have been in the future means that in reality it does not exist even now. In this sense, everything real is eternal (emphasis added). There cannot be a moment in which it will no longer be true that someone has felt a suffering or joy that he is feeling now. And this past reality is absolutely independent of the fact that we remember it.
That might be the most profound thing I've read in awhile. I wish I read either German or Italian so I could pick up a copy of this book. Hopefully we'll eventually get an English translation. Or, barring that, I'll eventually work my way through my list of "Languages to Learn" to German or Italian.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

"For dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return" (Genesis 3:19).

"Repent, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm glad I'm not looking for a teaching position anytime soon.

See this petition.

The most interesting bit:

Read this:

"Many colleges and universities require faculty, students, and staff to follow certain 'ethical' standards which prohibit engaging in homosexual acts" (Emphasis mine; also note their use of scare quotes).

Now compare it with this:

"The American Philosophical Association rejects as unethical all forms of discrimination based on... sexual orientation..." (Emphasis mine).

Sing all together now: ♫ One of these things is not like the others,/One of these things just doesn't belong,/Can you tell which thing is not like the others/By the time I finish my song? ♫

I learned about Aristotle’s categories when I was a first year undergraduate philosophy major. Perhaps that is not how it is done anymore, or how it was done in most places even then, but that’s how it was done at my undergraduate university ~7-8 years ago.

An orientation is a disposition, an inclination, a tendency. This would fall under the category of quality.

Acts, on the other hand, would obviously fall into the category of action.

The categories are the supreme genera. Orientation and acts fall into different categories. Thus orientation and acts do not share even the most basic genus and must be recognized as fundamentally different. One would think a group of philosophers would realize that.

Well, a group of philosophers would. A group of philosophy professors, on the other hand...

Hat tip: Dr. Francis Beckwith at What's Wrong with the World, who offers his own commentary here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Novena for the Pope

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has asked the members of the Fraternity and all the lay faithful in their Apostolates to pray a novena for Pope Benedict XVI, starting today, February 14, and going until the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, February 22.

The novena, in Latin and English, and further information are available here. I have reproduced the English below. I ask all who read this to consider joining them and offering prayers for our Papa, so that God bless and keep him, and that he "may not flee for fear of the wolves."

God bless our Pope! The great, the good!
Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory be.

V: Let us pray for our Pope Benedict.
R: May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

V. Thou art Peter,
R. And upon this Rock, I will build My Church.

Let us Pray,
Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon your servant, Benedict, our Sovereign Pontiff, and guide him in your goodness on the way of eternal salvation; so that, with the prompting of your grace, he may desire what pleases you and accomplish it with all his strength. Through Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.

V. Mother of the Church. R. Pray for us
V. St. Peter. R. Pray for us

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Rabbi speaks

"Left Wing of the Catholic Church Destroying the Faith Says Orthodox Rabbi," by Hilary White.

Hat tip: Fr. Zuhlsdorf, who offers his own commentary here.

Martin Mosebach on the Pope and the SSPX

Martin Mosebach, author of The Heresy of Formlessness, has an article on the Pope's lifting of the excommunication of the four SSPX bishops in the German magazine Der Spiegel. An English translation of the article has been posted on the blog of the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny and can be found here.

Hat tip: Fr. Zuhlsdorf, who offers his own comments of the article here.

Monday, February 09, 2009

On religious liberty

If one actually wants to understand the "plain meaning" behind the Church's teaching on religious liberty, one might want to look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2104-9) and follow up on its footnotes. One would then be pointed towards Leo XIII's Immortale Dei and Libertas praestantissimum; various writings of Pius XII in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis; Pius XI's Quas primas; Pius IX's Quanta cura; and Pius VI's Quod aliquantum. One might find one's self surprised at how many restrictions on false religion can fall under "due limits" when prudence properly takes into account the objective moral order.

Catholicism is true and other religions are false. The truth is owed duties that falsehoods are not. I know such an idea is radically contrary to modern pieties, but it is true none the less.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Between two thieves...

And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil. And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom. And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise
"Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds..."

One criminal refuses to admit that he is being justly punished and tries to escape it. He dies with blasphemies fresh from his lips.

The other admits that his punishment is just and accepts it. He obtains a moment of grace and the promises of eternal joy.

The conclusion to be drawn from this I will leave to the reader.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Support the Holy Father

Please go here and sign the letter.

Hat tip: Fr. Zuhlsdorf.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

God vs. Chance

Formerly anonymous Thomist James Chastek writes rants in his comments more profound than most of my posts on the same issue. Go and read.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On empiricism

I have no problem with empiricism properly understood. Aristotle and St. Thomas were both empiricists: "All knowledge begins in the senses."

I do, however, have a problem with the kind of "empiricism" that moves from, "all knowledge is derived from sense experience," to, "sense experience is all that we know." To which I can only respond: "Please show me Newton's law of universal gravitation."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Day of Mourning

Today is the 34th anniversary of the travesty and abomination that is Roe v. Wade. Please remember in your prayers the countless lives lost.

Please pray for an end to abortion in the United States and the world.

Prayer to End Abortion

Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Written by Priests for Life

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Aphorism XV

Contra Voltaire, it is to the living that we owe truth; to the dead we owe only respect.

Update on the Seminary

Since someone asked, and since it is National Vocation Awareness Week - even if it is the last day of it - I thought I would offer an update on my current situation.

On the licentiate front:

No news, which may be good news. Classes have only recently resumed after Christmas break, and even professors deserve some time off. My director received at least two other thesis papers the day before mine, so he is reading them in the order that he received them. Hopefully I will hear something in the next few weeks.

While I wait I am preparing to answer the questions I may be asked during my oral examination.

On the seminary front:

I have had my first interview with the Diocese vocations director and have truthfully sworn that I have never committed any actions that would pose an impediment to my potential ordination - i.e. that I have never killed anyone, adhered to heresy with full knowledge and consent of the will &c.

I have visited the seminary my diocese sends her candidates through.

I have received and begun filling out the application for the seminary and sponsorship by my diocese.

I have signed most of the necessary waivers and permission forms.

I have just finished my handwritten letter to my bishop telling His Excellency that I am entering into this under my own free will, that I am doing so for the good of the Church and my own soul and that I understand, insofar as I am able, that the priesthood entails commitments to celibacy and obedience to His Excellency and his successors.

I have scheduled the necessary physical.

I have scheduled the first part of the necessary psychological exam - the written portion.

I have contacted most of the people I am going to ask for recommendations. Three have already sent them in. One has the necessary information and should be working on it (I had better give him a gentle reminder). Two or three others all work in education, so I will contact them in another week or two after first giving them time to ease into and prepare for the new semester.

I still need to write a detailed autobiography. (I was asking my mother some questions the other day, making sure I remembered various childhood details correctly. She asked me why I was writing an autobiography. She had forgotten I needed to write one for the diocese's application process and so she though I was beginning my memoirs a little early.)

I need to begin answering some of the longer questions on the seminary application. If any of them are interesting, I may share my answers here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rosary Novena

Someone at my parish was passing out this information. I thought I'd pass it on. I've already started, since it began today.
If you are apposed to abortion then there is bad news on the horizon. For those of you who do not know, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is set to be signed if congress passes it on January 21-22 of 2009. The FOCA is the next sick chapter in the book of abortion. If made a law then all limitations on abortion will be lifted which will result in the following:

1) All hospitals, including Catholic hospitals will be required to perform abortions upon request. If this happens Bishops vow to close down all Catholic hospitals, more then 30% of all hospitals in the United States .
2) Partial birth abortions would be legal and have no limitations.
3) All U.S. tax payers would be funding abortions.
4) Parental notification will no longer be required.
5) The number of abortions will increase by a minimum of 100,000 annually.

Perhaps most importantly the government will now have control in the issue of abortion. This could result in a future amendment that would force women by law to have abortions in certain situations (rape, down syndrome babies, etc) and could even regulate how many children women are allowed to have.

Needless to say this information is disturbing, but sadly true. As Catholics, as Christians, as anyone who is against the needless killing of innocent children, we must stand as one. We must stop this horrific act before it becomes a law.

The Plan :

To say a novena ( 9 days of prayer ) along with fasting starting on January 11th. The prayer of choice will be the rosary with intentions to stop the FOCA. The hope is that this will branch and blossom as to become a global effort with maximum impact. We have very little time so we all must act fast. Just do three things:

1) Pass this letter to 5 or more people
2) Do it in three days or less
3) Start the novena on January 11th and pray for nine consecutive days. (please also fast for at least two days during the novena)

Remember that with God all things are possible and the power of prayer is undeniable. If you are against the senseless killing of defenseless children then the time is now to do something about it!
Please join in if you can.