Saturday, May 31, 2014

Then paint!

It's a funny thing about Italy. Whatever your reasons for coming here, there is a kind of bug you catch, and those who get bitten by the Italy bug just seem unable to bring themselves to leave. When a new person arrives (and we get a fresh batch every year) you can tell right away whether he's going to just finish whatever it is he came for or be a long-termer. The long-termers get that look very quickly that says, "I'm going to stay here, even if I have to fake my death and create a new identity to do it."

The lovely and talented Kelly Medford nails down a few reasons why...

... the warm light in Medford's paintings is a dependable constant in her work from Rome. "When I moved here from Florence, what I noticed is that the light in Rome is so dramatically different," says Medford. "It's really warm, almost a rosy pink. When I moved here I had to keep buying so many different cadmiums because I couldn't find the strength I needed to depict it. I made a conscious choice to exaggerate the warmth here. Now I really see it that way -- that is really how I see Rome, and how I paint Rome."

I went into town yesterday to have a drink with my art teacher and said, "I still fear paint though." She said the obvious thing: then paint!!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Knock knock! Who's there?

What do you get when you cross a surrealist with a mafia don?

An offer you can't understand.


Holy Father, the government is threatening to arrest priests who preach against homosexuality!

That's terrible! We must ban Communion on the tongue immediately! I'll be covering that in my encyclical on the environment!


I'm starting to have trouble coming up with appropriate comparisons here... It's starting to seem like this pontificate is just one vast non-sequitur. Is it just me, or is it getting to feel like we've fallen through the looking glass? Things that you expect to match up no longer match up. Corners are detached from their directions and parallel lines converge and tangle.

It is starting to make me do what we do when presented with a totally inappropriate non-sequitur... you just sort of stand there and blink while your brain tries to make sense of it. "Err... hang on a sec, my brain is buffering..."

This is from Marco Tosatti who seems to be doing that standing and blinking thing...

The encyclical on the subject of poverty, environment and climate change will be ready in seven or eight months, the Pope said during his audience at the General Assembly of the Italian bishops, in the part of the session open to the public. It is likely that the document - which will deal not only with creation as such but also of the dangers of a tumultuous environment and in particular its impact on the poorest - will appear at the beginning of 2015.

The bishops were very happy that the pope had given space for questions, saying, 'Ask me whatever you want.' But some of the answers to specific questions seemed rather indefinite.

When asked about the reports of [relations between the Church and] public authorities [Pope Francis] replied that the responsibility of dialogue with the country's politicians is the responsibility of the Bishops. The Holy See has nothing to do with it, much less the Secretary of State.

In the light of past battles ... about who should be the protagonist of the dialogue, the Pope's words may sound like support for the CEI [Italian bishops' conference - this is a huge issue in Italian Church politics but it tends to be extremely arcane to outsiders- ed.]; but at the same time you cannot forget that the Pope is Primate of Italy, and the bishop of Rome, as noted often, is therefore not an office unrelated to the life of the country. And the Secretary of State, in particular in the Second Chamber, is his most direct operational arm.

A bishop posed the problem of how to respond to the ideology of "gender," advocated by the majority party responding to the demands of [the Council of] Europe, where it is happening like a divorce from God the Creator, and where the man wants to be a creator. [No answer here? Tosatti doesn't say what the pope responded to this- ed.]

More explicit and precise instead was the answer to the question posed in "desperate" tones by a bishop of a small diocese (forty thousand inhabitants) who complained that a part of the clergy is "conservative" and does not want to give Communion in the hand. The Pope advised him to take strict measures, because "you cannot defend the body of Christ while offending the social Body of Christ."

Tosatti: One wonders to what extent is the phenomenon (are there reports of rioting crowds in the streets begging for the Host on the hand?) and how great is this prelate's ability to manage human situations...


Friday, May 23, 2014

LCWR and "conscious evolution"

I realise that it's kind of redundant to be writing about how the LCWR anti-nuns went wiggy because of the influence of the New Jesuits, but I really do think the pleasures of shooting fish in a barrel have been unfairly maligned.

And this is one of the clearest explanations I've seen yet in a mainstream journal about what's been going on in there since the 60s.

To many ears, “conscious evolution” probably sounds like a squishy catchphrase picked up after too much time in a New Age sweat lodge, and that’s pretty much how Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, views it.

The German theologian bluntly told heads of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious last month that the principles of “conscious evolution” — that mankind is transforming through the integration of science, spirituality and technology — are “opposed to Christian Revelation” and lead to “fundamental errors.”

That’s tough talk, and Mueller warned them that if the nuns persist in pursuing such dangerous ideas, Rome could cut them loose.

Yet those principles, and indeed the very term “conscious evolution,” also lead directly back to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), a French Jesuit who was by turns a philosopher and theologian, geologist and paleontologist."

Oh, and a professional liar: apart from being one of the fathers of the New Age gibberish, he was also one of the lead proponents of the Piltdown hoax...

Oh yeah, and a eugenicist..

Teilhard was one of the first to articulate transhumanist themes. Transhumanists advocate the ethical use of technology for human enhancement. Teilhard's writing likewise argues for the ethical application of technology in order to advance humanity beyond the limitations of natural biology. Teilhard explicitly argues for the use of both bio-technologies (e.g., genetic engineering) and intelligence technologies, and develops several other themes often found in transhumanist writings.

aaand a supporter of the Nazis,

Personally, I stick to my idea that we are watching the birth, more than the death, of a World. The scandal for you, is that England and France should have come to this tragedy because they have sincerely tried the road of peace. But did they not precisely make a mistake on the true meaning of "peace"? Peace cannot mean anything but a HIGHER PROCESS OF CONQUEST. … The world is bound to belong to its most active elements. … Just now, the Germans deserve to win because, however bad or mixed is their spirit, they have more spirit than the rest of the world. It is easy to criticize and despise the fifth column. But no spiritual aims or energy will ever succeed, or even deserve to succeed, unless it is able to spread and keep spreading a fifth column.

But hey, who are we to judge, right?

Oh, and this is the "conscious evolution" proponent the good sisters thought would make an ideal keynote speaker at their annual meeting.

Isn't she great, ladies and gentlemen? Let's give her a big hand.

But hey, points go to the Washington Post guy for figuring out what she was blithering about..."that mankind is transforming through the integration of science, spirituality and technology" ... more than the rest of us could do.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Goings on

So many reasons not to go to Australia
Sooo many...


Sometimes it goes the other way... sometimes.


"This too shall pass" (One of my favourite videos of the "famous things falling down" genre.)


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Order is better than chaos...creation better than destruction..."

Here is Sir Kenneth Clarke's message for the ignorant savages who have, apparently, briefly taken time out of their busy days of beheading Syrian Christian children, to break into the museums and smash to powder the some of the planet's most precious cultural treasures and antiquities.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Christian vision of the dignity of the human person is one in which the European Union finds its values reflected and supported..."

Where do they dig these people up?

I did a thing yesterday on a voters' guide published on the website of the Irish Bishops Conference. It really has to be read to be believed. I don't think I've ever seen a more brazen bit of EU-speak bureaucratic rubbish in my life. It really is so outrageous that it tells me one thing very clearly: they don't care any more who knows the people in charge of the Catholic institution in Europe have not got the slightest interest in the Catholic religion.

The new one is so much cooler and more shiny!

This was the comment of a friend in Ireland:

Its opening line: "The Christian vision of the dignity of the human person is one in which the European Union finds its values reflected and supported." I thought this was just a poorly constructed sentence
but its real problem isn't its syntax. Leaving aside the fact that this claim is entirely untrue, it appears to be an assertion made from the point of view of the EU. The statement also calls the EU parliament "the House of the people of Europe." Does anyone outside the European institutions even speak in such terms?

Later on it says: "The goal of European integration has not yet been fully realised." What exactly does the Gospel tell us about European integration? Do Catholics really need to ask themselves whether our current foreign policy reflects the founding vision (not of Christ) but of "those committed to the European project."


Seriously, just run that sentence through your brain a few more times to see if the sense of it sticks:

"The Christian vision of the dignity of the human person is one in which the European Union finds its values reflected and supported."

Didja catch it? Took me a few tries, but then I got it...Yeah... the lead voice here is not the Catholic Church; it's the EU patting the Catholic Church on the head for "getting" its own "vision".

The religion being pushed here has nothing whatever to do with the goals of Jesus Christ in founding His Church. And what did Our Lord have to say about people who were not with Him?

In the last few years of keeping track, it has become clear that there are quite a few of these EU toadys squatting in the Church in Europe, belching out their neo-Marxian poison. It has become such a part of my daily life that it usually just makes me smile a little when I hear someone else saying breathily, "Do you think it's possible that this document was drafted by someone from the EU?"

Is it still a conspiracy when they come right out and say things like this and post it to the internet?

Go on over and have a little gander if your stomach is feeling up to it. It really is an excellent example of the kind of blither that gets published every day, with complete earnestness and deadly serious faces, at the EU.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right


The wasp in the room

There is nothing nice about wasps. As larvae, they are unspeakably horrible. As adults, their sole purpose for existence is to hurt you.

I was once lying on the grass of my front garden, thoroughly enjoying the summer day, on my blankie with a pitcher of iced tea, a book and my little radio. It was the perfect day.

Lying there, I happened to see a little green caterpillar in the grass, so I just watched it, peacefully chomping its little grass stalk. As I was wondering what kind of butterfly this little fellow would turn into, along came a creature that looked like it had flown straight out of the demonically twisted imagination of HR Giger. I recognised it from my bug books as some kind of ichneumon wasp. And it recognised my little caterpillar friend as exactly what it was looking for.

It was over for the caterpillar in an instant. The horror hovering overhead just reached out its ovipositor and, *ting!*... The caterpillar, not knowing what had just hit it, just flinched a little and continued chomping its leaf. But I knew exactly what had just happened.

Nope, there really is nothing at all to like about wasps.

Someone asked me a while ago why I have become so obsessive about the news, particularly the Church politics news. I think the answer is that I watch Church politics for the same reason one watches a wasp when it has flown into the room. Once you've become aware of its presence, you don't want to take your eyes of it for a second.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Soon, soon...

"...multiple sources are telling Rorate that a large number of FI friars -- possibly 100-150 -- are petitioning Rome to be released from their pontifical vows and to be placed under diocesan bishops.

As we have reported from the beginning, the order assigning a commissioner, which has led to the rapid destruction of a growing order that was increasingly attached to Traditional Catholicism, and has led numerous Faithful to lose access to the Traditional Latin Mass, was approved directly by Pope Francis.

We do not know what Pope Francis meant when he told the distressed parents "soon, soon." In Roman time, soon rarely means quickly. Let us pray that soon the Holy Father will end this drastic intervention that he approved and save a beautiful order currently in critical condition."

The Rorate Caeli article refers to that weird report about Francis meeting the parents of an FFI seminarian. Asked when the pope is going to stop torturing their son, Francis reportedly replied, "Soon, soon..." Which, I'm afraid, did very little to reassure anyone.

All times may be "soon" to Aslan, but what does that mean to Francis? Perhaps if I were there, I might have been tempted to interject, "Your Holiness, does 'soon' in this case mean before or after there are no more FFIs left?"


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Starting the day off right

A friend who has a blog where she gets absolutely scorching about Francis, enough to make me look like Mary Poppins, usually starts her day of writing off with the following admonition:

Start the day off right: Pater noster, qui es in caelis...

I took the idea and ran around the block with it a few times.


Crank up your computer speakers, and click this.

Now, stand up and say,

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.

Seriously, it does stuff to your head. Like espresso for your soul.


Crucify them!

Received the following message privately that seems worth passing on:

On a trad board, one of the forum members said the following: "My brother is in the FFI and he has told me that Francis has admitted making a mistake in appointing Volpe and will soon remove him.
He will also overturn the ludicrous ruling of not allowing the FFI from offering the TLM and the Traditional breviary."
I hope I'm wrong but I believe they're overly optimistic.

Our friend Dorothy adds the amusing comment: "Craziness. The president of Harvard is named Faust, and the nimrod in charge of destroying the FFI is called Volpe. Has life turned into a Harry Potter novel or what?"

Another friend comments:
When this ends, if not with total destruction of the FFI, they will have Volpi lift the restrictions under some pretense that his draconian measures have effected some good in the organization. But I fear that nothing short of total destruction will be the end, for this is their purpose, to send a message that traditionalism is fatal. Anything short of this sends the wrong message. The FFI cannot be allowed to survive.

Hard to argue with this. It is certainly a very visible form of public execution. There really can be no doubt that a clear and hard message is being sent by this "pope of mercy and forgiveness". One might almost be inclined to call it a crucifixion.


Monday, May 12, 2014

No Spooky; No Religion

Today someone who works for a Catholic apologetics website posted a thing saying the "Black Mass" planned by some foolish secularists at Harvard University is just a lot of showy nonsense.

But you see, this is exactly what the secularists believe. The point, they say, is to show that religion is just a load of bosh because, look! you can directly tempt God with his holiest things and, Bazinga! No lightning strikes.

So, my question is not why do the dumb secularists at Harvard think this, but why a man who claims to be a follower of Christ is promoting their agenda.

He writes:
I've been told I have leaden instincts and maybe this is just another example thereof, but I can't get too worked up over the Black Mass (presuming that that there won't be Eucharistic desecration at it) at Harvard. Seems to me that higher academia has for a long time featured plenty of anti-Catholic goings-on, many more grave than this silly pageant they're planning tonight.

Or to put it another way, if a bunch of Ivy-Tower secularists who don't believe in Satan recreate a Satanic rite to get attention, how much attention should we give it?

I suppose he's trying to help people not freak out. Because in our times in the Church, getting worked up about religious stuff is bad form. We're supposed to be as cool as the other guys.

Well, I can't help but remember that Christ wasn't really all that "cool" about the influence of the demon.

I respond by re-posting an old thing on the difficulty modern Catholics, however sincere, have with the crazy, scary, crawling-backwards-up-walls, demons, angels and mystical part of the Faith. They're good with the rules, and can expound (ad nauseam) on the meaning of the latest encyclicals.

But have they fallen into the world's trap? Have they got the details but failed to get the point?

I have often thought that there seems, at least in the way most people practice the faith, two kinds of Catholicism. What I have arbitrarily designated "The Rules" and "Spooky Catholicism".

Of course, a balanced Catholic lives his life according to The Rules because he knows that Spooky Catholicism is real. This is the correct way of looking at it. The supernatural really actually exists in the really real world and therefore things like the difference between good and evil is not merely the subject of dry academic debate but an urgent and immediate reality to be contended with daily.

The reality of the supernatural is something that seems quite difficult for modern people to understand. And this despite the vast and growing proliferation of the occult in popular culture, which seems odd.

As you know, I have just finished reading a series of very dumb teenager vampire romance novels. (Yes, I enjoyed them ... sort a weird way.) One of the things that made them dumb was the fact that the authoress, Stephanie Meyer, did not seem to understand the difference between the natural and the supernatural. She regularly referred to her vampire and werewolf characters as being part of the supernatural world, but then said that tests had revealed that they had a different number of chromosomes in their cells from humans.

She indicated that the change from being a natural human to a supernatural vampire was merely a physiological change, the vampire "venom" (good grief!) would work its way though the body via the bloodstream re-writing the person's DNA to give them super-powers. (No, it really wasn't very well thought out, but that's not why all the teenyboppers are reading it.) And that was it, really, no more to it than that.

I suspect the banality, the flat-universe quality, of her books is a result of Stephanie Meyer's Mormonism, which does not even try to address the issue of "where does the universe come from". Mormonism also doesn't understand or acknowledge the difference between the supernatural world and the natural world. In Mormonism, the gods are more or less just humans with superpowers, and no one ever notices that the question "Who or what is the Prime Mover" is never asked.

At least with Buffy's vampires, there was a supernatural exchange of "souls" and the vampired person would become, essentially, possessed by an incorporeal demonic creature. (This system often broke down in Buffy, but that was the idea). In the Buffyverse, there are any number of "demons", "gods", "oracles" and assorted representatives of classical, pre-Christian and extra-Christian entities of varying degrees of supernaturalness (though perhaps significantly, never any angels. In all of Buffy, I think God only got a mention once or twice). And as the series progressed the rules about them seemed to shift according to the needs of the plot.

I note, however, that in Buffy, and even more later in Angel, the "demons" were again just a different kind of natural being. In Angel, there were actually different "species" of demons who were just modified humans and the damage they could do was not moral damage to a person's soul, but physical damage according to the potency of their super-powers. Plus, you could kill them with a gun or a sword. So ... you know.

It all gets a little fuzzy, really. It's not like I was really looking for theological consistency in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I believe that Harry Potter has solved the literary problem of the supernatural by more or less proposing that the wizards are a different species from the regular humans. A species that can naturally manipulate natural "forces" and that magic is essentially just another physical force like electricity. Again, this kind of breaks down in practice during the course of the books (which I haven't read), but that seems about the gist again. Once again, the modern occult writer does not seem to know what the supernatural really is.

I have noted several times that the universe accepted by the sci-fi writers is dualistic, that there is a distinct split between the physical and the incorporeal, the old mind-body split, but still no actual supernatural. Despite all the story lines of people exchanging bodies with each other and "ascending to a higher plane of existence" and whatnot, all of this is still strictly within the realm of the natural, the physical, the scientifically recordable. It's really just Cartesianism with special effects.

Nothing in, for example, Star Gate SG1's ideas about "ascended Ancients" was remotely supernatural. You just spent a few decades meditating and, pow! you got a pretty, glowy, kind of ghostly-looking body that could fly and control weather or whatever and live in some other "higher plane" that was, essentially, just another "dimension". This seemed to be as close as the sci-fi world could get to the idea of something "outside nature".

Whether we like it of not, we live in a culture that has, for 400 years or more, been rejecting the existence of the supernatural. And now that we're looking for it again, we don't know it when we see it and think we see it when we really don't.

I think that our modern obsession with the occult is not in fact a result of an innate human fascination with the supernatural. Or perhaps the purveyors of the occult pop-culture are so unimaginative that what they are peddling is merely naturalism dressed up in sparkly CGI costumes.

As a result, we Catholics seem to have a hard time understanding what the actual supernatural is. We have popular Catholic literature that talks about things like birth, and sunsets and butterflies as "miraculous". Well, it might be a poetic way of speaking about how great nature is, but it is misleading too. Natural things are not, by definition, miraculous. The supernatural is not just the natural with super-powers.

We really have a hard time with the idea of something that is real, has a will and an intellect and the ability to do things in the natural world, but no body at all. A spirit, in the strictest sense.

We have a heck of a time understanding the thing about God being outside, above and preceding time and space.

Now that the Church has more or less given up talking about the supernatural and continues to justify its existence based on its record of social work projects in the third world, we Catholics have fallen into the habit of thinking naturalistically. So much so, I think, that things like the "Catholic charismatic movement" have sprung up in reaction.

People who are interested in religion are really interested in the Spooky parts. They want to know about the grand movements of Heaven and Hell, of angels and demons and the Great War between them. They want to know that their own moral struggles are about something greater, taller and more grand than global warming or the dangers of smoking. Something better, that is, than what the secular world offers.

It's the real reason movies and books like the Da Vinci Code are so wildly popular. Why Hollywood always dresses its pretend nuns to look more like real nuns than the real nuns have looked in 40 years. And why the Godfather movies all have depictions of the brocade and velvet, pointed arches, gold-curliqued and marble-columned Catholicism of the pre-Vatican II era. No one who is looking for the real, Spooky, Supernatural version of religion wants a priest to dress in a polyester poncho and sing folk songs.

There's The Rules, yes, and we give intellectual assent to the doctrines of the Faith, (which is what "The Rules" is shorthand for.) But what are The Rules guiding if not the supernatural life of the soul?

What is it all for if there's no Spooky?


Missing friars

So, went to the March for Life in Rome, as you probably know.

Also went last year.

Bit of a difference. One thing that really stood out was the absence of these guys.

It's funny, cause there was a whole flotilla of them last year...

Do you think they were busy?

Scheduling conflict, maybe?

(Someone there who knows them well told me they were there but in civies. 'Cause that's what we've come to. #thefranciseffect)


Friday, May 09, 2014

Sowing confusion

I've been saying it from the earliest days: "Don't like something Pope Francis has said? Wait 24 hours. He'll say exactly the opposite tomorrow."

"It is one of the cleverest devices of the Modernists (as they are commonly and rightly called) to present their doctrines without order and systematic arrangement, in a scattered and disjointed manner, so as to make it appear as if their minds were in doubt or hesitation, whereas in reality they are quite fixed and steadfast."
Pope Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis


Beware the demons "tenderness" and "compassion"

Watch out for the people preaching "compassion".

Flannery O'Connor, as usual, has summed up the problem:

“If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber.”

We hear a lot of this kind of language from the world. We are to be compassionate, tender, with people who suffer terrible emotional traumas from being denied their rights...

We have heard a great many words about "tenderness" coming from this pontificate. It all sounds just fine on the surface, doesn't it? And it is playing well with the world. It seems to be making people weep with joy to hear about "tenderness" from the pope. "Never be afraid of tenderness..."

Yes, be afraid. Be very afraid.

"Compassion," "mercy" and "tenderness" as well as care for "the poor" seem to be the watchwords. The trouble is that without the correct definition and framework, these concepts come to mean something quite different from the Biblical interpretation.

We have certainly got a lot of the same kind of talk from the world: "Every child a wanted child..."

At the same time, we have heard not much more from this pope than an apparently never-ending stream of invective and insults aimed pretty unmistakably at those Christians who are interested in their eternal destiny and think it's important enough to devote time and energy to.

I am beginning to understand that there is a vast, and perhaps uncrossable, gulf between the goals and interests of NuChurch under this pontificate and the goals and purposes of Christ in founding His Church. These people seem to be completely focused on this world, the material and worldly. The pope talks a good deal about 'tenderness' and "the poor" and the things we need to do about them. Most recently we have been told that there must be an "appropriate redistribution of wealth" so that the poor will no longer be the poor. Won't that be nice? (Please leave your bank account details in the commbox...)

It is making me wonder if he is at all concerned about the salvation of souls. Are we to take away that "the rich" save their souls by giving their wealth to the poor? Doesn't this just mean that there will be new poor? Or maybe "salvation" in the classical sense is just not on the radar at all...

What to do, what to do...? I still don't know.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? With a perfect hatred do I hate them: I account them mine enemies.

The hatred of the Faith quite often seems to include a direct hatred of Scripture. So much so that there has for a long time been a huge impulse among the lily-livered "Christians" of our time (and previous times) to edit it, to make it more palatable to modern sensitivities.

This desire was played upon mightily by the people who "reformed" the Divine Office. The little shreds, shards and fragments of the Faith that are left to us once all the difficult bits are taken out, were all neatly packaged up and re-sold (accompanied by a bunch of unsingable American Jesuit hymns) as the four-volume "Liturgy of the Hours". I was shocked to see that this monstrosity of the Church of Nice is STILL being used by a bunch of "conservative" religious orders. Mostly, I imagine, because the good sisters don't know there is anything else. Sigh...

I note it because I've been having an interesting time with my Benedictine Monastic Diurnal, an older edition of which I was given recently by some nice Benedictine nuns in Tuscany. In using it ever day, I've discovered that a previous owner, presumably a female, has gone through and minutely corrected a bunch of the English translation of the psalms in pencil, crossing out offensive parts and a bunch of the "thees-n-thous" kind of language (the "st" crossed off of "didst" etc.) and carefully re-writing them with "updated" language.

I was amused to note that the REALLY offensive bits of scripture have just been expunged. The scary bit at the end of Psalm 137, for example, is firmly crossed of with a big penciled "X".

"Thou wretched Babylon's daughter, * Blessed be who shall repay thee what thou didst to us!

Blessed be who taketh thy babes, and dasheth them against the rock!"

It's been interesting observing exactly which changes have been made by this unknown female Catholic hippie of the past. One of them that I thought telling was this: "How weighty for me are Thy thoughts, O God, * how imposing is the sum of them!" But "for me" is crossed out. It gives a tiny little insight into that kind of mind that is quite fascinating. Though depressing as all hell.

She pencilled her name in the front page: "Sue C." so maybe someone could say a prayer for her? Perhaps fortunately, she seems not to have persevered in her vocation, because the corrections and annotations can only be found in small sections of the book.

Anyway, I suppose it gives us a bit of a hint about the attitudes of a certain kind of Catholic. It should perhaps not be surprising to us when we see some members of the hierarchy telling Our Lord that His instructions, regarding marriage for instance, are just too much for modern people to handle.

"Truly I tell you that Moses only allowed you to divorce out of the hardness of your hearts..."

"Ah yeah...Thanks, dude, but we'll take it from here..."


Monday, May 05, 2014


Little Winnie is showing some very bad signs today. For some time now she has found it more difficult to jump up onto her chair and to her favourite spot in front of the window, but today she almost can't do it at all, and seems to be having trouble walking. Poor little thing is 13 now, so it's not surprising, but still very hard to watch.

I'll be taking her to the vet, but I fear a bad diagnosis. Do say a little cat-sized prayer today, if not for her, then at least for me. Not looking forward to what might be coming next.


Ci sei mancato...

I have a question to put to all able-bodied priests and bishops who were in Rome yesterday.

What were you doing while thousands of lay people were Marching for Life?

I went to the front of the March, and stood by the side of the road for the whole procession to sweep past me so I could get an idea of the size and make-up of the crowd. I observed that there were huge numbers of younger people, that in fact, probably the most prominent demographic was people in their 20s-30s, a great many pushing baby strollers. The pro-life movement in Italy appears to be very big with the family set. This is a bit of a contrast with the DC March where the largest single group seems to be teenagers.

The other thing I noticed, and this was a VEry sharp contrast with last year, was the absence of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. There was a small (very small) contingent of the sisters, but not. one. single. friar. Last year, there was an entire flotilla of FFIs. And I can't imagine that they were absent by their own will.

The third thing I noticed was that the number of priests (at least, priests wearing recognisable clerical dress) was - being very generous - about 1 in fifty. In Rome.


Where were the clergy?


Why we're not married

Though I was a Star Wars fan as a child (the first of the three first ones came out when I was 11) and I retain enough nostalgia about it to not be very happy with George Lucas and to be looking forward to the reboot, I find it quite difficult to disagree with Kathy on this.

"Successful, mature men do not play computer games, attend 'cons,' and get excited about overrated science fiction movies from the 1970s...The extension of adolescence throughout the West is a serious matter. The never-ending obsession with Star Wars is but a symptom of this arrested development."

It's fun sometimes to talk about the Star Wars universe as if it matters, or even, as if it's real. It's fun to talk about how I think Palpatine really was justified in declaring martial law (and as we all know, the Jedi totally were planning on taking over!) and to get your fan-friends faux-wound-up when you say that the Empire would have been fine if it hadn't been for the rebel scum and was better off without those meddling Jedi.

But the thing is, it's a game. It's goofing off.

Once you've started to actually care about it, and you're over, say, 10, it's probably a good sign you've got a maturity problem.

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of spending a few hours in Rome with one of England's most venerable and sensible grown-ups. He's a medical doctor and a physician, the father of 5 and grandfather of 13. He watched the entire Catastrophe of the 60s, 70s and 80s settle like a poison cloud over the world. He asked me and my also-unmarried friend what happened to put us off. The first thing she said was that it is very, very difficult to meet men who are grown-ups, who are even interested in living like adult men, with jobs and who are keen to take on responsibility for a family.

I added that this was only one half. There are very few people of our generation and below who are able to leave off trying to recreate the childhood they feel they never had. They are looking for fathers and mothers to look after them, to replace the ones they missed having. Which means they are not interested in becoming those parents for someone else.


Also, Alec Guinness hated Star Wars, but he took the job anyway. Why? Both for the same reason: he was a grownup, and its a characteristic of grown-ups that they take crappy jobs for the money.

Alec Guinness being a grown-up.