Thursday, February 28, 2013

the freaks come out at nine...

...and it's twenty to ten.

First voluntary papal resignation in, oh, 719 years, so sure, WHY NOT quote an old Skid Row song?

Well, because, thanks to Mark Shea, monkey business like this is afoot.  OK, 1) Andrew Sullivan is a leading blogger, but despite his or anybody else's protests it's not accurate to label him a leading Catholic blogger.  Especially when he suggests that 1) Benedict is gay; and 2) that's why he resigned.

FURTHERMORE, Chris Johnson tells us that the blogosophere's savant now all fancy themselves papalistas--experts in the field, ya'know--including, gah, Episcopalians.  Johnson, being the level-headed St Louisan that he is, realizes that this is all basically wish-fulfillment.  These folks--the lefty Episcopals, Sullivan, heck even a chunk of American Catholics themselves--want the conclave to elect a pope who will affirm their already chosen paths.  Gay?  Don't worry--the next pope will make it all good.  Ordained women? Puh-leez, he'll handle that in the first 15 minutes after the Urbi et Orbi blessing.  Reverse Church teaching on artificial birth control, abortion, and masturbation?  Easy--before the wine's opened at dinner the first night.

To all of which I say:  spiritual diabetes. 

an amazing view

Just watched Benedict XVI's helicopter take off from the Vatican and land at Castle Gandolfo.  What a sight to see--and that we can all watch it live on TV, computer, phone, etc.

the new front door

May God continue to bless our pope emeritus, Benedict XVI

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


First off, this blog is now officially official:  we've topped 1, 000 page views!  Father Z, Mark Shea, and Amy Wellborn had better watch out.  It's like that line in House of Pain's "Jump Around:"  "I'm comin' to getcha, I'm comin' to getcha..."

More importantly, it's "Sedevacante Eve" a day not customarily on the Church's calendar.  Yesterday, Rocco Palmo notes, almost 200, 000 jammed St Peter's Square for Benedict's last audience.  In October providence allowed me to count among the (comparably paltry)  50, 000 attending the canonization mass for St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Mariann Cope, and five other saints.  It was an amazing day--and an amazing moment.  All of which to say that yesterday's papal audience must've been mind-blowing.  And THAT will pale by comparison when the conclave announces its decision.  Yes, the Church has problems;  everybody can see them, and quite frankly we shouldn't be too surprised given its human membership.  (Doesn't anybody read St. Augustine anymore???)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

glass half full, half who knows

Two and a half weeks ago, around 6:15 am EST, drinking coffee and figuring I ought to wake up some family, flip channels and WHAM-O!  Pope Benedict XVI had announced his resignation.

The first voluntary such act since Celestine V in 1294.

Now, I probably should've blogged about that alone, but that moment has passed so now it's "who will be pope next."  Along with the rest of the known blogosphere, I watch what John Allen says.

Now the entire world's caught up in this whole "we get to have a new pope while the old pope's still alive!" shtick...some damning the Church for not changing, some for changing too much, etc.  And, of course, it's not a party until some parts of the American Catholic Church decide to contribute their own two cents.  Usually not for the best, as R. R. Reno points out.  There are others who help counterbalance some of the fluff.  But, really, Sonia Sotomayor?  A nun?  I'm no way criticizing the faith of Justice Sotomayor or any religious sister, but really--this is not helping.

Then there are columns like Vince Miller's and Nancy Dallavalle's.  These voices are particularly problematic, because, quite frankly, Vince and Nancy should know better.  1) It is disingenuous to laud, as Vince does, Benedict's 'humility' for resigning the papal office (and 'breaking with the modern papacy since Pius IX')--but then selectively read Benedict's encyclical tradition when it suits one's political purposes. 2) It is equally problematic to presume that "all bets are off" because of the (admittedly unforeseen) papal resignation. As if the resignation thus entails a wholesale shift to embrace the social-political agenda of the American left.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Just hear and saw news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation.  Much more will be said in due time.  Prayers now for the pope and the conclave that will elect his successor.

Friday, February 8, 2013

risky business

OK, bandying about the Catholic blogosphere is one thing.  Lots of good folks out there, lots of good readers, and yes the occasional whack-a-doodle-nut-job but hey that's life.  This blog has discussed Shea, Scalia, Poust, and others and still many more left as-yet undiscussed.

That's one thing.  Tackling something by Andrew Sullivan is another matter entirely. That's basically Dan Savage territory.  Make too snide a point and WHAM-O the entire Internet hates you.

Still, consider this, apparently a conversation (recorded?  actually occurred?  or stylistically recreated by Sullivan?) between Christopher Hitchens, well-known cultural critic and atheist who died in 2011, and Andrew Sullivan.  Very interesting reflection on the place and authority of faith.

And, to refer to this blog's theme, an example of spiritual veganism.  The spiritual diabetic consumes and still remains thirsty, since the pattern of previous consumption leaves one unable to digest, break down, and use the spirituality consumed.  (I.e., like actual type II diabetes--eat yet still hungry and thirsty, and as we get heavier, the less able we are to burn what we consume.)  Spiritual veganism, on the other hand, makes a virtue of forgoing anything deemed 'wrong,' in this case religion itself.  It's an attempt to label the apparently spiritual pursuits of the intellectual/cultural elite (like Hitchens, Sullivan, and Savage) who insist that they're not spiritual.  If none of this truly mattered, then why did Hitchens spend his last days fighting the religious impulse (which, upon his death, insisted that his soul stood in need of prayer like everybody else's)?  Why does "Herr Ratzinger" matter at all to Sullivan and Hitchens?  Is the pope that much of a threat?

The emaciated appearance of vegans makes a telling claim.  While the vegan mindset fosters self-satisfied superiority ("I'm not like them--I don't consume the harmful trash preferred by the ordinary"), the rest of us see someone who's painfully skinny.  Contrasted with the diabetic frame, perhaps that's better--but really?  We should surrender on-going, unslakeable spiritual thirst for the thorough-going refusal of all things spiritual? Sullivan's contributions to the conversation indicate a "spiritual vegan"--notice the attempt to claim a 'more humble' view of divinity.  This is spiritual veganism;  he's willing to forgo the grander claims of belief he identifies with Ratzinger.  However, that's precisely what some folks like.  Think about it:  the bacon-eater simply cannot understand the vegan's self-satisfaction (and self-deprivation).

It's no wonder that some folks continue eating/consuming spirituality forms;  they know it's probably killing them, but it seems better than the supposedly healthy alternative.

This is a blog, so there' no need to be coy:  the cure lies in the Roman Catholic tradition, which allows for, and celebrates, both consumption and abstinence--spiritually as well as physically.  The Church sustains, protects, and embraces life--but in so doing reminds us of life's spiritual foundation.  This "diet and exercise" plan, though, like many such programs, rarely seems as rewarding as the diabetic and vegan extremes.

But that's what'll actually put us on the road to health.

Monday, February 4, 2013

that boot-on-your-neck feeling

So this past Friday the Obama administration wheeled out yet another tweaking of the HHS mandate.  The Catholic Twitterverse and blogosphere promptly lit up.  MAYBE THIS TIME WE WIN...

(First off, remember back in the day when the Left complained about the Bush administration releasing information on Friday afternoons?  Well, at least one person was taking notes because look who's doing it now!)

Anyway, the point:  no sense in relenting now.  The Obama admin insists on miniscule tweaks in attempts to placate the unanticipated religious opposition to the HHS mandate--while still maintaining the mandate.  Otherwise, the Obama base will go ballistic over a "concession" to the religious Right and its so-called "war on women."  See Amanda Marcotte, Sandra Fluke, Valerie Jarrett, Joe Biden, et al.

Meanwhile, the Catholic blogosphere has recovered from its Friday swoon and the cold reality remains:  the Obama administration will stop at nothing--and will use every rhetorical, media, and cultural leverage point it can find/acquire/borrow/steal--to implement its HHS mandate.  So the boot's still on the throat; now they're simply asking if we 1) prefer a left or right-footed boot; and 2) a modern gore-tex low-profile hiking boot or a good-old fashioned metal-studded black biker leather boot.

But it's still a boot and it's still on the throats of any person/group/church/whatever that has decided to resist the Obama administration's plans.  May these folks be strengthened in their resolve.  It's a long fight and there's still a lot of time to go.

Meanwhile, the good ol' Catholic left continues to insist that nothing's wrong.  This is the real scandal.  There will always be powers seeking to delegitimatize, marginalize, or otherwise impede and/or dissolve the Catholic Church.  This welling-up from within, though, that openly seeks alliance with the oppressing powers precisely when it's clear that the Church is under attack...THAT is a problem.  At what point do we move from admonishment of sinners to simply distancing ourselves?  Have the ends of the ideological spectrum become so ingrained, so enmeshed, in the Church that we no longer see the Church as a respite from the world but instead just a continuation of it?  How much longer must we, who see the Obama administration's HHS mandate as a grossly unjust imposition on our religious freedom and that of other groups, suffer the ridicule and dismissive attitudes of our own co-religionists?