Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Good thing we disarmed all the law-abiding Canadians...

Oh wait...


Experiencing mental stress and anxiety

Bad dreams... very, very, very bad scary dreams.

Moving is, I'm told, listed by headshrinkers along with the death of a spouse or child, divorce and loss of a job as the most stressful things we can do.


Laying off the coffee for a while.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What was it like to be in the war?

A journalist friend in Canada has just asked me what it was like to be up close and personal during ... recent events...

I respond:

Have you ever been swimming in the sea on a rough weather day?

It's sort of fun, but the waves just keep coming and coming, and some of them really pick you up bodily and toss you around, and sometimes you land in the same spot and it's still fun, but other times, which are totally random, it drops you in a spot where the water's over your head and then you realise it's not fun any more and you might be in a bit of trouble, but you're in the sea to have fun so you start struggling through the waves back to the fun spot because it's supposed to still be fun, but really, it's the sea we're talking about, which isn't actually a theme park ride but the frickin' SEA and it doesn't care at all if you're having fun or if you're fish-food.

It was kind of like that.

Only with more pizza.



Also, learning some important caffeine lessons. One cup, means alertness and ability to pay attention. Two means jumping around the house every few minutes to burn off excess energy. Three means having your arguments with the internet out loud in high-pitched incomprehensible yelling.

Normal Hilary

Hilary at third cup.


Gettin' outta Dodge

Well, that's two bits of moving news back to back: the moving guy came, looked at my stuff, wrote some stuff down on the clipboard, and said, 1000 E. Which is a little under what I was expecting.

Called Sandro the realtor, and he said, "You-ra 'ouse is a-ready. When-a you come?" It's going to be 1140 E for the flat: first, last and deposit. Then later I have to give Sandro his finder's fee, because the worker is worthy of his hire. I've learned that in Italy, your realtor will often become your biggest helper when you're moving to a new town, and will be your introduction to the whole community, esp in a place as small as Norcia.

My previous realtor, Mrs. Mazzei, the mad, sweet old creature, took a real shine to me, and helped me find a fix-it guy who came and made all my electrical sockets work, for five E. When I said I couldn't do without a freezer, she gave me one she had in her garage. She helped me with legal paperwork to get registered as a legal "guest" at the cop shop, and helped me get connected to the gas and electric and phone and whatnot, and introduced me to all kinds of helpful people. After I moved in and was settled, I made sure to bring her a bottle of something nice once in a while. She retired after year two in this place, but still greets me very warmly. I will miss her and am often at a loss without her when I'm trying to get things done.

Sandro has offered to help me get the paperwork done for a Rezidenza, which means that I would go from being a settled visitor to an actual immigrant, legally and whatnot. I'd have to start paying Italian taxes, but it would mean all kinds of useful official status (including no more annual fees for the health coverage, which is kind of important for me). He also said he knows a place that sells refurbished furnishings and appliances (doubtless his cousin or brother-in-law). This really is the way you have to do things here, and it really does help.

This weekend is the Traddie pilgrimage in thanksgiving for Summorum Pontificum, when Cardinals Pell, Burke and Brandmuller will be saying Masses for the Traddies, and then we all get on a bus and go up to Norcia for a talk from Fr. Cassian.

I told Sandro I'd drop by the office and sign things and give him the rents and deposits. I'm going to ask him if he knows a guy who can get me a gun and a hunting license: it's wild boar hunting season.

Oooo! It's really going to happen! Eeee! I'm excited!

This is the Abbey of San Eutizio, one of the ancient monastic foundations of the Valnerina. Just up the road in Preci.


Monday, October 20, 2014

How to think in three easy lessons

Now my expression, "people who don't know what the jiggety they're talking about" will become famous!

Why is it just nonsensical to say that "doctrine" and "pastoral care" are opposed? Because they are both about the same truth, the Truth, in fact.

Saying "The truth is true" sounds like it shouldn't need saying, but in the last two weeks, we have seen it denied either explicitly or implicitly by many, many people who are supposed to know better.
But what does "nonsensical" mean, really?

"Aristotle wrote: “there cannot be an intermediate between contradictories…This is clear, in the first place, if we define what the true and the false are. To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says of anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.”

My first post at Steve Skojec's project 1Peter5

Also, I looked things up to write it, even in a BOOK! So it's a really good one.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.'

Robert Hugh Benson died exactly 100 years ago today.

It's funny, because during the first week of the Synod, I just happened to be re-reading LotW and we were sweltering in some of the most miserable weather I've yet to experience in Italy in October, which is usually our month of relief from the Summer's Awful.

It was (and remains) unseasonably hot, incredibly dense, thick and humid, the kind of weather that makes showering redundant and in which one feels disinclined to breathe too deeply for fear of choking on the water. The air clings to you in a way that makes you wake up from suffocating dreams of being wrapped in a honey-dipped velvet blanket.

Towards the end of the book, when the final confrontation of the Antichrist was coming, Benson wrote of the horrifically and freakishly hot weather that was oppressing everyone and that in the end culminated in a colossal black lightning-riven cloud over half the world...

And then...


Dr. Shaw asks, "Where do we go from here?"

Cue catchy Buffy song which will now play relentlessly in my head until at least bed time.

What we have seen this fortnight is, nevertheless, quite scary. We have witnessed the operation, exposure, and defeat, of a ruthless attempt to manipulate the synod and, through the synod, the whole Church. There is no reason to imagine the threat this represented is going to go away.


How it's done in the old town

Allow me to help people understand what just happened by making a comparison with a piece of legislation that is ongoing in Italy, and the political concept of the "ratchet effect".

The Italian anti-homophobia bill started out an absolutely absurdist, almost parodic piece of legislation that no government could possibly pass. It included, among other things, provisions for the arrest and detaining of people suspected of being likely to cause offense to gays, and allowed the courts to order such people to undergo re-education programmes, part of which was to work for the gay lobbyist groups.

Of course, the response was howls of outrage from the right, and from (likely carefully coached) people on the left, defending civil freedoms like freedom of expression and religion, but with everyone carefully saying, "But of course we deplore the evils of homophobia itself... "

Parliament carved out all the really outrageous stuff in committee, and presented the bill, with its 400+ amendments, in a new and acceptable form. The gay lobby groups dutifully issued press releases complaining that it was now toothless, and the bill is now peacefully sailing through the Senate more or less unopposed, and we are about to insert for the first time into Italian law the concept of "homophobia" (still undefined) as an offence. Mission accomplished.

Ratchet effect.

Now, ask yourself how the mid-way relatio at the Synod could have fulfilled such a role. The first one was a red herring; it was so obvious a piece of liberal engineering that anyone, even those bishops who are not that... shall we say... attuned to the Traditional end of the Church were shouting from the rooftops that it was impossible. Then, a revolt in the synod aula, and everyone congratulating each other on having thwarted the forces of darkness.

Two days later, presto! Along comes the final document with most of the squelchy stuff taken out (sort of) and everyone is shouting that it's a major victory for the faith, and Sauron's Morlocks have been defeated... cue swelling Aragorn coronation music...

Everyone now goes home to carry on our "weak and ambiguous" business as usual.

Wondering if I'm making it up?

Ask our friend Mr. Terrence Weldon over at Queering the Church what he thinks...

"Two (or Three) Steps Forward, One Back Is Still Progress"

"The interim report got such a strong reception on Monday precisely because it was so very much more supportive than anybody had been expecting. The fact that the same language did not make into the final report therefore, should have surprised nobody..

"The LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council press release draws attention to just how close we came to an endorsement of full and explicit inclusion (emphasis added):

'We note that the paragraphs on homosexuality which did not receive the required 2/3 rd‘s vote, failed by only two votes, notwithstanding significant support from a majority of bishops.'


"If the more welcoming / progressive bishops failed to retain the positive language originally proposed, for us or for those who have divorced and remarried, because they only just failed to secure the required two – thirds majority, it is far more important to note the far more dismal failure of the reactionaries to secure even a simple majority..."


Saturday, October 18, 2014

So far from over.

So very, very far...

But Fr. Blake puts into words something I've been thinking: one of the better things to come out of this whole bizarre thing, as painful as it has been to watch, has been the absolutely undeniable fact of two utterly opposed and utterly implacable "factions" in the Church, and the war between them.

What will be very apparent is that there are definitely two factions, let's not be over dramatic, there is not a schism but there is a very visible split. And splits tend to multiply. [And I would say, widen, HJW]

The highly significant Kasper interview identifies it as a North South, black white split but there is also, significantly, a demographic split. Burke will be voting in the next Conclave or two after Francis is laid to rest, and possibly on his way to Beatification.

There is recognition too that Francis is partisan and really against collegiality, as much as any renaissance pope. I suspect that many Cardinals who voted for him are being forced to have serious second thoughts. His high-handed approach is more reminiscent of Vatican I, than Vatican II.

Too bad that war highjacked the Synod from its actual purpose, but maybe in the end that was really the more important topic...The catastrophe in the Church has been this Civil War that has not let up for 50 years. the aggressors were slowed and forced to be more stealthy and quiet for a long, long time, so much so that a lot of people almost forgot the threat. But they have roared back to life like the monster at the end of a horror film.

During this last two, agonizing, exhausting and incredibly stressful weeks a lot of things have come glaringly into the foreground that had previously remained the stuff of whispered, unofficial, backroom and coffee bar conversations. One of the biggest handicaps we have had has been the fact that very, very few have been willing to talk openly about the Church's civil war. Well, here it is, in all its glory, now undeniable, even to those whose strategy it has been to deny that it is going on.

More later.