Some Of My Favorite Things

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mocking the Mass

This photo was posted by a priest who likes "Catholic traditionalism". Some of the responses from his Catholic friends and followers:
"that's cool"
"Took me a minute but I like the idea now that I got it. You don't want the driver facing you. You want him facing the direction you are all going."
"Hilarious! Well, whether or not one cares for the implications of the cartoon, the end result has proven to be accurate."
"WOW really Fr Jeff???"
"Though to be fair, facing the people isn't necessarily an aspect of the OF. My parish uses both forms, both facing the correct direction."
"the one with the driver looking where he's going"
"That is too funny" 
"Love it!"
Now think for a minute.
When I am sick, do I want the doctor facing away from me or towards me?

The priest is celebrating Mass, not driving a bus. Both facing towards and away from the people are reasonable positions - neither one is "better" than the other. It is just a question of whether or not you want to view the priest as primarily presenting the people to God (as the Jewish priests did) or presenting God to the people (as Jesus did).

The High Priest, standing alone in the Holy of Holies or at the altar of sacrifice, faced towards God on behalf of, and in spiritual union with, the people because he was man, but not God. Jesus, hanging on the Cross, faced towards the people, because He was fully God, and not just fully man. So, the "traditionalist" Catholic priest is acting as the Jewish High Priest acted, while the Novus Ordo Catholic priest is acting as Jesus on the Cross acted.

The Catholic priest is only a man, but while celebrating Mass he is in persona Christi, Who is both High Priest and Victim, thus either stance is fine.

But consider the responses. The cartoon mocks the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The priest who posted it has now mocked the Mass. Most of the Catholics who found it impressive or funny have participated in mocking the Mass. Mocking the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should really be reserved to dissenters, it should not be the habit of Catholics.

Now, to be fair, there IS a strong tradition of making mockery of the Mass, but this is mostly a tradition popular among non-Catholics. Unfortunately, this non-Catholic tradition appears to be a habit among "Catholic traditionalists". This makes me think "Catholics traditionalists" are definitely into tradition, they just are not into CATHOLIC tradition. 

"Catholic traditionalists" spend a lot of time on little "t" visions and mockery. They don't seem to register the fact that ALL liturgy is holy - an odd lacunae for both Catholics and those who claim to adhere to Tradition.

Now, a deacon responded to all of this by saying:
"What seems to go sadly unnoticed in these threads is that in these two priest-centric cartoons is that, in either 'form', the children aren't paying any attention to him...they are simply looking out of the windows.
What does that tell you?"
It tells me the Mass was created for adults, not for children. And it WAS created for adults, not for children. As I point out in my book, the Catholic school system actually encourages adults to leave the Faith, and this is one of the ways the schools do it: they put the smallest children at the front of a school Mass, the oldest at the back.

Over the course of years, this rotation teaches the oldest children an important lesson - as you get older and more mature, you should move closer to the door. Really mature adults stay as far away from the Mass as possible. 

You want to get the little kids? Don't let them see the Mass. Put them in the back. Tell them they aren't old enough, mature enough to really fully participate. Only adults get to sit near the front. Then watch the kids clamber over each other trying to prove they are big enough to do it.

Unfortunately, Catholic schools subtly teach a meta lesson.
Catholic traditionalists teach a complementary meta lesson.

Both lessons are designed to destroy the Catholic Faith.

Good job, Catholic traditionalists - you are driving home the very point made so subtly by the Catholic schools you so adore. Another home run for you both.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In Praise of Welfare Queens

Are conservatives born hypocrites, or do they study to become so? Consider the frequent outrage visited upon those individuals who accept government welfare via the food stamp, WIC, or similar government programs. From whence comes this outrage? Are not the people who scream about welfare also the same people who burble with praise at the new highs the stock market has reached? And therein lies the hypocrisy.

What has the Bush-Obama "Quantitative Easing" (tm) nonsense accomplished? That money was not sent in checks to taxpayers. It was ladled out to banks and corporations, who promptly used it to inflate stocks and real estate prices. Given the economy, do you really think the endless rise of the stock market to repeated new highs since 2009 actually has anything to do with the underlying fundamentals? Seriously?

All that money had to go somewhere. It went into bidding up the price of existing assets - this is called asset inflation.  How is the rise in my stock portfolio NOT the result of government welfare? How is it NOT government money poured directly into my 501K in one of the most enormous contribution matching programs in the history of the country? Anyone who has a home loan at under 5% is receiving government welfare. The federal government does, after all, set the interest rates.

Same goes for Social Security. I will take out more than I ever put in, as my parents did before me. It was always and will always be a Ponzi scheme. It is accepting a government welfare check. But who turns it down?

Do you think Con Agra, Shell Oil, or any other large corporation got where they are by refusing to take government subsidies? How many colleges - many of whom employ professors preaching against welfare - have fattened their coffers and continuously raised the price of their tuition at rates far exceeding inflation? How do you think they managed that? That's right: it is due solely and only to the government welfare checks they receive in the form of government education grants and loans.

Everyone takes government welfare, but the high and mighty launder the money. They look down their noses at those who receive it via a direct government check. The rich much prefer that their welfare checks first be laundered through their stock market picks or corporate subsidies. That way, they can pretend they actually had something to do with the rise in the value of their chosen asset. It makes them feel important, smart. But it is government welfare, all the same.

How to Earn Your Welfare Check
200 years ago, if my only skill was knocking a small white ball into a hole in the ground, I would have starved. Today, I would be paid millions for my golf game. If it was a large orange ball that went through a hoop, it would be millions for basketball. There is no rhyme or reason to why these skills pay millions today apart from the fact that people perversely enjoy watching someone else do it.

But there are all kinds of skills that are worth money. Perhaps you're good at filling out paperwork. That might win you a lot of college scholarships. You might make a profession out of it as a grant writer. Or that skill might win you a lot of welfare checks. As long as you didn't lie when you filled out the forms, where's the moral problem here? It's a skill. It brings joy to thousands of mid-level government bureaucrats. Those lovely men and women feel like they are doing a very nice thing by getting you your welfare check after you successfully pass their vetting. In fact, without you they wouldn't have jobs. They need you in the same way that the people who run a scholarship trust need college applicants. The same way that grant-funding organizations need grant writers.

If Keanu Reeves can earn millions for acting (which I still don't understand how that's possible - Reeves must playing to a very niche audience), then why can't a welfare queen earn millions for pleasing a different niche audience, government officials?

I hate Keanu Reeves acting, you hate the welfare queen's paperwork skills, but somebody somewhere really likes both of them, which is how they earn their money. As long as no one is lying, there is nothing wrong with that. It's like winning a scholarship for left-handed red-heads. Luck of the genes, but you still get the money, right?

And why shouldn't you? You're red-headed and you're left-handed. The money was set aside for anyone like you who had the sense to fill out the form.

Whose Money?
But consider further. Once Keanu or I actually get that money for our respective skills, who are you to tell either one of us how to spend it? We earned it, him by acting, me by filling out the forms. It may have been your money once, but it was given to us and now it is ours. When you hand out Christmas presents, do you make the recipients urinate in a little cup first? They pass drug tests for you before they get birthday presents, do they? When you give Keanu Reeves your money at the theatre, do you tell him he's not allowed to buy mansions with it?  Do you follow your friends around to make sure you approve of the way they spend the money they got from you?

Because that's part of the job that comes with filling out the forms for government money. Government uses welfare as a form of control. Government is happy to get outraged at the idea that a small business might put restrictions on purchasing birth control through the business health plan, but government is quite happy to tell welfare recipients exactly where they can live (HUD), what they can eat (WIC), it puts a thousand restrictions on how welfare recipients can spend their money. When churches give money to the poor, they don't put restrictions on it - they just hand out the cash. But government uses it as a means of social control. It becomes a way for bureaucrats to manage every aspect of someone else's life.

And we conservatives get upset if the welfare queens figure out how to get around that level of micromanagement? Seriously?

The welfare queen deserves her check just as much as I deserve my stock portfolio. In fact, she probably worked harder to get her check than I did to get my stock increase.

I don't want to hear another word about the horror of welfare queens.
As long as they didn't lie, they earned their money and it is their money.
Quit telling them how to spend it.

If the reception of welfare really upsets you, then mind your own business so well that not even the smallest aspect is government subsidized. By the time you manage that, you'll be living in a cave somewhere in the Rockies, too busy growing your own food to be outraged at anything.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Children Exposed To Religion Have Difficulty Distinguishing Fact From Fiction, Study Finds

I think what the Huffington Post meant to say is that religious people have rich imaginations while atheists have none. Think Miracle on 34th Street, with Maureen O'Hara. That was a very sad child, who couldn't even imagine or embrace Santa Claus.

I especially like this quote:
"religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.” 
Religious people went to the moon, because it was impossible. Now that we know it's possible, we don't go anywhere at all. As Humpty-Dumpty might say, "That's cause and effect for you.!"

Atheism has to be wrong if only because it's so boring.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stirring the Pot

Fr. John Zhulsdorf is a man with a mission. Unfortunately, his mission has very little to do with Catholic Faith. Like Father John Corapi before him, Fr. Z has discovered the secret to making money - get people angry. If they are angry, they will give you money and treats, they will beg you to keep feeding them things that will keep them angry.

When you are angry, you feel powerful, important. You feel like the world should shake at your company, because you shake. We like it when people make us angry, especially if we can be made to think we feel righteous anger. So, Fr. Zuhlsdorf highlights things like this. Then he questions what is happening, as if he has the right to question. And when you see a priest question this, you think you have the right to question it as well.

But you don't have that right. Neither does Rev. John Zuhlsdorf. The Church is not a democracy. As long as the parish boundaries aren't changed, bishop and priest have the right to do whatever they want in a parish. The Church is not a democracy.

There are certain areas where you simply have no rights. Liturgy is one of those areas. Your voice is not only not important, it can be positively scandalous (in the mortal sin sense of the word).

It. Does. Not. Matter. if you like communion on the tongue versus on the hand or if you prefer Raphael to Dali. Liturgy comes from Rome, not from lay people, not from priests, not even from bishops. If Rome approves something, then I have no further right to complain. Period. End of sentence.

This is why I can still kneel and receive in a church that has no altar railings. This is why, technically, a Catholic can demand communion in the hand at a Tridentine Mass. It is permitted. I don't care if you like it. I don't care if I personally hate it. You and I don't have a voice. It is not our business. The Church is not a democracy. The conversation is done.

Bishop does what bishop wants in his own diocese. As long as he is not infringing on anyone's canonical rights, he has complete authority to do whatever he wants. Parishioners do not have a right to decide what they think constitutes a beautiful church (as if you could ever get parishoiners to agree if you were so foolish as to allow them their opinion). That right belongs to the bishop and the bishop alone. He delegates some of this to his pastors, but even there pastors generally have to get all major church changes approved by the bishop's diocesan liturgical committee.

If pastors deign to listen to your opinion, count yourself unusually blessed. They are under no requirement to do so. This is bishop's church, not yours.

Now I am the person who designed every poster at and I have very definite ideas about what kind of art I like. But my opinion is my opinion, and no bishop is under a canonical requirement to listen to me or even to allow me to speak publicly on the matter. I can make known (privately) my thoughts to the pastors, but he is not required to seriously entertain anything I have to say.

As long as no canonical rights are infringed, I have no business yelling about what a pastor is doing in his own church. Rev. Z has the habit of getting outraged about things that are really none of his business. That's why I stopped reading him years ago. All he does is foment dissension. Catholics need to recognize boundaries. Traditionalist Catholics don't like boundaries, they like anger. Rev. John Zuhlsdorf is in the business of stoking anger. Rev. John Zuhlsdorf keeps throwing his opinion around like somebody should care. No one should care. His opinion on church art and fifty cents won't buy you coffee at Starbucks.

But, speaking of coffee, coffee pretty much seems to be the purpose of his blog.

As far as I can tell, his blog exists solely in order to encourage lay people to pay for his bird feed, coffee, sweets, and favorite books. Because most of what he says is not really Catholic, it's just stirring the pot.

He is part of the reason that trads have a reputation of being angry and mean. Trads read him and like him. Trads get angry and yell at or about or around the bishop. Bishop decides he can be treated like this by the secular press - why encourage Catholics who do the same? And thus trads are ignored, relegated to the back burner and treated like red-headed stepchildren. Because all trads do is throw tantrums. They like standing around the pot as it is stirred. And then they cry when it is ladled out to them.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Suffer the Children

I don't understand why Americans are opposed to importing other countries' children. Caucasians aren't having babies anymore. They currently make up 70% of the population, but have less than 50% of the babies and we've been in this situation since 2011. It won't change. By 2050, this will be a majority "minority" country even if all immigration stopped today. And the only people who have children are first-generation immigrants. Second-generation has the same birth dearth that the native population has - by the second generation, the American Borg have assimilated them.

The situation is brutally simple: we aren't having enough babies to sustain economic growth. We *HAVE* TO steal other countries' children if we want to maintain the economy we are used to.

That's why no one is really going to stop immigration, ever. The only shocking thing is that we're actually going straight for the kids this time, instead of importing parents and waiting for them to have children, which is what we always used to do.

Screw the countries that are losing the kids. Human beings are the greatest resource any country can have, and we're stripping Central and South American countries of that resource just as quickly as we can. George Will recognizes this, which is why he's four-score FOR the immigration.

What is rather more shocking is that the USCCB hasn't addressed this issue at all. A strong argument can be made that we are actually violating Catholic teaching by importing other countries' children, directly stripping these other countries of their future. Sure, the argument FOR immigration, that we're re-uniting families, is undoubtedly more powerful, but the argument against is not exactly weak.

The more children we take from any country, the more completely destroyed it will be within a generation. Why do you think Russia has outlawed adoptions abroad? They already have a birth dearth that will essentially destroy them in a century. They don't need to hemorrhage any more children. China is in a similar situation. Inside of 50 years, every country in the world will be in this situation.

By stealing children, we are buying time. Sure, the country won't look the same as it did, won't have the same values as it did, but it doesn't look the same now as it did in the 1930s, nor did the 1930s look like the 1870s, and none of these decades looked like 1789. We've had one Constitution but several Americas over the course of the last 200 years. This immigration policy merely assures that we will have at least one America more before the Baby Bust destroys everything.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Creative Minority Fears

Creative Minority Reports has is apparently running scared. Patrick apparently fears the accuracy of what I have to say to him, he deeply fears public chastisement and correction. He told me as much in a private communication to me.


Well, because he's acting like a Protestant. Protestants proof-text Scripture. He proof-texts the Magisterium, choosing papal quotes without benefit of the context in which they were presented or the audiences to which they were addressed. 

Just as Freemasons try to subtly undermine Church authority, so he attempts the same by pretending that one Pope can be set against another. 

The sedevacantists (i.e., Protestants) LOVE what he is doing. Yes, there is a lesson in this. He is drifting away from the Church and taking a lot of ambivalent Catholics with him. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Seal of the Confessional

After reading this article concerning the Louisiana Supreme Court's attempt to jail a priest for refusing to break the seal of the confessional, it occurred to me that people only associate this seal with priests - they fail to associate with lay people. And that is a serious mistake.

Note two pieces of information:
Fr. Bayhi is not accused of any physical or sexual wrongdoing himself, but refuses to confirm whether the girl, who was 12 at the time of the alleged abuse, did confess to him, and what the contents of the alleged confessions were...
In an unusual move, Fr. Bayhi’s diocese — which typically has a policy against commenting on legal cases — released a statement in opposition to the ruling.
“A priest is compelled never to break that seal [of confession],” it says. “Neither is a priest allowed to admit that someone went to confession to him. If necessary, the priest would have to suffer a finding of contempt in a civil court and suffer imprisonment rather than violate his sacred duty…. A priest/confessor who violates the seal of confession incurs an automatic excommunication.”
Note the two elements of the seal of the confessional. A priest not only cannot indicate what sins were confessed, he is not even permitted to indicate that someone went to confession with him.

And lay people are under the same seal. Let us assume, for instance, that through some quirk of remarkably bad luck, I were to hear part or all of someone's confession. I would violate the seal if I were to reveal what I had heard. But I would also violate the seal if I were to indicate that I knew this person had gone to confession at all. And in both cases, I would be subject to the same penalty a priest would be subject to for having broken the seal - automatic excommunication.

Now, let us say I saw Joe Smith in the confessional line. Could I remark on that to someone else? Yes, because I don't necessarily know why he was in line.  Perhaps he only appeared to be in line, but was actually waiting for some event to start. Perhaps he was standing in line to hold a place for someone else. Even if I saw him enter the confessional, I would not necessarily know that he did so in order to confess and receive absolution. Perhaps he and Father had a pre-arranged agreement whereby he was able to receive five minutes of spiritual direction this way, without confession or absolution, because he had no other time in which to arrange it. I don't know.

But insofar as I do know that Joe Smith confessed his sins and received absolution, I am no more permitted to remark on it publicly than any priest would be.  And no priest is permitted to remark on it at all.

Indeed, even speaking in a way that implied I had such knowledge when, in fact, I did not would be a gross violation of Joe's rights as a Catholic. This is between him and Jesus. I am not part of his conversation with God, nor may I pretend that I was.

I cannot say that someone is in a state of grace or not, I cannot publicly imply knowledge of a penitent's reception of absolution. These things are not known by me and I violate the penitent's dignity and the very Truth to pretend that I know either one.

So, let us imagine a hypothetical situation in which a parish staff member was given to understand in some way that someone had gone to confession. Insofar as that parish staff member was given that understanding by a priest, the priest has violated the seal of the confessional. Insofar as that staff member made public his/her understanding, whether actual or implied, of the penitent's reception of absolution, that staff member may well also have violated the seal of the confessional. Insofar as that understanding was made public, both the staff member and the priest responsible for that staff member bear responsibility before the bishop and before God.

Now, we all condemn the sin of child rape. But a priest who commits such a sin is not excommunicated by the very act. True, he is in a state of mortal sin by having knowingly and willfully committed the act, but he is not automatically excommunicated. But breaking the seal of the confessional is a much more heinous sin than even the rape of a child.

Just as a parishioner would be duty-bound to report to the bishop the possibility of impropriety between an ordained man and a child, so much more is a parishioner duty-bound to report the possibility of impropriety concerning the confessional seal.

If I have in any way misunderstood the seal, I would be gladdened to be corrected in the comments. But this is the understanding I was given in my graduate theology training, and this is the understanding every priest I have ever met has communicated to me.

Pray for priests, especially the priests of Louisiana, but also the priests throughout the nation, that they may successfully avoid this most grievous sin. And insofar as any of us laity become aware of the possibility that this sin may have been committed, pray for the laity, that we have the courage to say what needs to be said to the bishop whose responsibility it is to guard the seal of the confessional. For if we stand silent while the confessional seal is being violated, it is worse than if we stood silent while a child was being violated.