Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jennifer Haselberger and Kevin McDonough: Whom shall we Curse and Whom shall we Bless?

[Editor's note:
The top leaders of the archdiocese in Saint Paul, Minnesota, have been under investigation ever since Miss Haselberger resigned her position as Chancellor for Canonical Affairs in the spring of 2013. 
Archbishop Nienstedt and his two predecessors -- Flynn and Roach -- are under suspicion of having failed to protect young people from abusive priests.
Father McDonough has been the second-in-command, the "power behind the throne," for many years (he was Vicar General from 1991 until 2008, at which point he became "delegate for safe environment.")
Doc Pence has been arguing for a decade that officials of the archdiocese have been passive in the face of wide-spread corruption.] 

by David Pence

A brave woman has told the truth. The corrupting de-sacralization of the Catholic priesthood in the Saint Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese has been revealed. Too many "faithful Catholics" heap abuse upon this woman for playing exactly the role of Joan of Arc and Catherine of Siena centuries ago. Like those heroic female saints, she challenged men of high office to do their duties. She did not ask to be bishop or priest. She asked bishops and priests to be fathers. Read her deposition; and read the depositions of the clerics. Only she describes the central conflicts in the language of sacraments and theology.

The Minnesota Public Radio presentation, "Betrayed by Silence", is an exquisite unveiling of the deep evil behind the smiling face of Archbishop Harry Flynn, and the smooth blarney of Vicar General Kevin McDonough. A courtroom scene of diocesan priests weeping at the sentencing of serial predator Gil Gustafson, while the victim's family sat alone, is a soul-wrenching emblem of the wretched spiritual state of our priestly fraternity. The program's placement of our local clerics in their historical roles in the American bishops' bureaucracy is superb investigative journalism. The radio program is excellent on history, utterly misguided about celibacy, and conveniently silent about the homosexual subculture in the archdiocese. When the secular press gets one of three right, we should thank them.

Miss Haselberger has been criticised for speaking with MPR, Commonweal, and the National Catholic Reporter. They all have a deep animus toward Archbishop Nienstedt (for all the wrong reasons) and are lifting this drama to the national stage. The "orthodox" Catholic press, however, is too confused or frightened to face the facts of her story. What could she do? Who will explain this very explainable story with real names and real spiritual causes and remedies? Who will speak the mind of Christ when his shepherds are scattered?

It is time to rip up the separate concordat that our local priesthood has made with homosexuality. This subculture of deceit emerged from a sacral identity crisis. The priesthood as a collective culture was opened to perversions and horrors when they stopped believing in their acquired ontological character which allowed them to exorcise a real Satan at Baptism, forgive sins in Confession, and confect the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As floundering clerics questioned the sacral identity of Ordination that engaged them in the ultimate spiritual realities of the Sacraments, a thousand counterfeit flowers bloomed.

The spritual cleansing of the local presbytery will aim at Principalities and Powers. It will take more than a change in policies and procedures. Joan of Arc and Catherine of Siena urged the French soldiers and deposed pope of their different eras to do their duties. Jennifer Haselberger utters a similar cry today. Let Catholic men, priest and lay alike, heed these good women.

UPDATE: The reporters at MPR have now posted an expanded summary (in four chapters). More excellent work on their part!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Religious Sociobiology: Catholic Men, the Queen Bee, and the Democratic Party

[Editor's note:

We thought that today -- this day of fasting on the Seventeenth of Tammuz -- would be an appropriate time to offer this essay by Dr. Pence.
(It commences three weeks of mourning, leading up to the "saddest day in the Jewish calendar": Tisha B'Av.)

What does the Fast of the Tammuz commemorate? The breaching of the wall of Jerusalem which led to the destruction of the Temple and the dispersal of the Jews.

When the walls of the city crumble, the family is left unprotected and the Temple for worship is laid waste. Those sacred spaces (home and Church) need the masculine wall around them which is the city or nation. It is built on man's natural attraction to sociability with other men.]

                    "The splendor of Jerusalem is a thing of the past"

by David Pence

Our all-male Catholic high school in 1960 taught us to be Knights. That was our school name. There were posters in the hallways that upheld the categories of maturation: Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, and Social. Catholic men in public life made the posters flesh and blood. Vince Lombardi, a daily communicant, was coaching the Green Bay Packers. Mayor Richard Daley, another daily communicant, was building Chicago. John Kennedy was the Catholic alpha male who wrested political leadership from the Brahmins of Massachusetts; and then broke open the Protestant lock on the American Presidency. There were Catholic Republicans in the countryside, but most Catholic political culture was urban, union, and ethnic. Police and fire departments were Democratic cauldrons that molded Catholic ethnics into local patriots. The Democratic Party was not just a civic platform for the individual Catholic; it was a confederation of tribes, and our tribe had its home there. We were a Catholic school, not a prep school, so at least half our students were not headed to college -- but they were being formed as men in full, as Catholics, as Americans, as literate workingmen and soldiers.

A Catholic man was trained to be a morally disciplined warrior, first on school playing fields and then on national battlegrounds. Notre Dame established the American Catholic synthesis on the gridiron before the classroom. A Catholic man respected the codes of combat, but was also taught a reverence in the sacred space of Church. He crossed himself with holy water on entry and went fully to his knee in acknowledgement of a Presence in the golden tabernacle on the high altar. No adult had to be in the church to silence a young male or force his genuflection. Someone Else was watching and the red light on the altar meant He was there. We understood what it meant to be knights. We were building a social order because we were part of a sacred order.


We were shaped to be intellectually alert, physically fit, spiritually disciplined, and ready to play a role in a group endeavor. A few men were natural leaders, most men played other roles; all men needed the group. There was a book called The Authoritarian Personality (which was all the rage among enlightened atheists after WWII) that basically blamed the pathology of Nazism on cultural formation that looked a lot like our Catholic high school. We, of course, thought this kind of manly corporate formation led to NFL championships after years in the desert; to cities with big shoulders; to a president who saved his men in the Pacific and led his nation in the Cold War. Maybe to the university crowd, cultures extolling authority and group identity led to fascism; we thought it was just such cultures that formed the men who beat the Nazis.

What does the JFK/Mayor Daley Catholic man see when he looks at today’s Democratic Party? Does any man who works with his hands think the great economic injustice of our time is that women are not being paid enough for indoor work? Does any young male who needs to learn a trade in high school believe that college prep schools and more subsidies for feminist-dominated universities are the agenda of the working man? Does any Catholic man not recognize the immigrant who harvests our food and roofs our houses as a working brother? And, yet, what Catholic man will not enforce the borders that define us as a territorial nation with armed force? And won’t a Catholic man who still opposes the burning of our flag view the coupling of Old Glory with the rainbow emblem at our embassies as a desecration of our nation’s most sacred symbol? Is this really the ordered American liberty of Catholic political theory and American military history, or its betrayal to license?

As religious men ourselves, Catholics understand that other men will fight for their religion. As Catholics we remember Oliver Cromwell who said he spoke for all of Christianity as he butchered the papists and “moderate” Christians who did not join him. We have seen purification movements try to assume the mantle of all Christianity. We have seen our altars, statues, convents, and Eucharist made physical targets for death and defilement. We have learned how to fight religious battles, and we know the importance of isolating the force you fight from the larger religious group the extremist is trying to lead. Extremist religious movements depend on the cultural ignorance, religious prejudice, and military clumsiness of their foes who strike members of the whole religion when aiming at the extremists. Blanket acts of violent overreaction link the extremist and his co-believer by an experience of common suffering. Religious men who fight religious terrorists must take seriously the religious differences -- not just between us and our foes -- but between the extremists and their coreligionists who are being dragged into a war against us that they do not desire. The strategic task is to define the enemy narrowly to isolate him while widening the circle of allies who oppose him. This demands religious, historical, and geographic literacy.    

President Obama, not out of religious acumen but a propensity for caution, has discouraged our entering the wrong side of conflicts with both Syria and Iran. In each case, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain would have enrolled us on the side of Sunni extremists against states who should be our most natural allies. Neither of his old election opponents understands the role of religion in the social organization of fighting men any better than he does. But the president's caution has spared our nation the disaster that their leadership would have imposed. The emotionally careening veteran and the emotionless female careerist carry no historical map in their heads nor religious compass in their hearts. Gender violence theory from State Department feminists is not clarifying our situation. Pique, bravado, and insults to the presidents of both the U.S. and Russia is not a thoughtful critique from a loyal opposition.
The absence of a post-Cold War strategic national consensus forged by a masculine synthesis of civil and military leaders is not the fault of President Obama. All of us -- from religious thinkers to military generals to journalists to academics and, especially, our national senators -- have failed in the strategic task of defining the role of America amidst the nations. We have been living in a fantasy world created by the sexually inverted baby-boom culture, and it is time to grow up and enter the real world of religion, nations, and armed men. Baseball got a lot better when black men, and then Latinos, were fully integrated into the game. Has the affirmative action plan to feminize our military and diplomatic corps yielded similar fruits? Does anyone think our State Department -- from Albright to Rice to Clinton -- has been elevated in our geo-strategic clarity by the plethora of female spokespersons trying to explain the world to the very good-looking but equally perplexed ladies of Fox News?

The fighting male Sunni purification movement is the enemy of our nation. The movement has been empowered by the passing or killing of secular leaders from Ataturk to Hussein to Khadafy. All in the path of the Wahabi Sunni movement are its natural enemies (and our potential allies). That includes Shiite Muslims, Sunni nation-states, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and the nations who represent them. Why hasn’t a Catholic warrior emerged to chart a proper definition of our foes and friends to lead his countrymen in clear speech and measured deed? This is no time for the Unitarians of the Adlai Stevenson mold. An Andrew Jackson Protestant, a Catholic Kennedy, a Deist Washington, or a scriptural Truman would all do fine. Where are such men in the Democratic Party of manual laborers, citizen soldiers, and religious patriots? Have the suburban committeewomen and gay blades really taken over?
Let us propose a biology thesis.  A nation is both a spiritual and biological organism. Among the social insects such as bees, the queen bee puts out a chemical message called a pheromone which signals to all the females in the hive: Do not ovulate!  This is not simply a restriction on pregnancy or rebellion -- it is a chemical command against ovulating. It isn’t an argument -- it is something in the air that never lets the hive even have an argument.


Sometime about a decade ago the cigars came out of the smoke-filled backrooms of the Democratic Party, and the feminist pheromones filled the air. Some call it the "feminist implant" that we are all carrying in our brains and speech patterns, implanted by English departments that quit teaching grammar to devote decades to eliminate the masculine representative personal pronoun in thought and speech. In a televised twisting of sexual reality as the first baby boomer took office, the national imagination was filled with a lying male performing counterfeit sex acts with a servant girl. The privately humiliated wife was transformed into a socially dominant figure of sympathy. The servant girl was abused by all and discarded. Feminism showed her true face not as the sweet sister of solidarity but as the craven crone of careerism.

When the aggrieved wife reappeared on the national stage, all the old rules of battle were declared invalid. Men, especially from Texas, would come on the new stage and appear as fools. Their language and thought patterns could not adjust to the new milieu. There was a message to the males -- you may file for office, but do not run as a man. You are not establishing yourself as the alpha male among the warrior males who must protect the nation. Now, it turns out, if a woman runs as a woman and a man runs as a gelding -- the woman will usually win.

In 2008 one man didn’t get the intra-party memo; a black man could still run as a man, and he did. He upset the Queen-designate. He was the black man who had the usual claims to be militant, but had enough Asian training in public manners to not threaten. He was embraced. Catholic men voted for the black man who said he was the new Joshua to Martin Luther King’s Moses. But he did not bind the men together, as Joshua had in fighting as one nation for the Promised Land. He inaugurated the confusion of the sexual revolution in a far more definitive way than a female ever could. For he had a secret bankroll: the large reservoir of social capital won by the Christian brotherhood movement of fifty years ago. He spent that social capital as we (myself included) proudly voted him our first black president. But he was not what he seemed. He didn’t come from the black churches, though he knew their language. He was not a child of the Third World national liberation. He is the softer child of black entitlement, the sexual Left, and the university faculty lounge. He didn’t support the African Christians beset by Muslims from the north. He didn’t defend Nigeria from the European atheists from even farther north. He has never defended the global South from the atheist North -- the Christians of color from the white bureaucrats. In every forum he was the son of his white anthropologist feminist mother, and no president has better waged the war against patriarchy than he. Still, in God’s Providence, it was he who protected us from the wrong wars of the queen bee and the intemperate veteran senator from Arizona.
But for the Catholic men who made the old Democratic Party, there was a deep problem. Catholic workingmen are not against patriarchy. We were taught to pray for the Father’s rule on earth as it is in heaven. And so we must look again for a more fitting leader. We do not apologize for seeking a leader. That is how nations act -- under good leaders. We will not hate President Obama, as we did not hate President Bush. We will scapegoat neither man. The Presidency is a tough job, and if our policies have been confused so has been our whole culture. In the next election we will look for a new national leader. Parties are meant to help us find and coalesce behind such a man. We look for a man to stick a world map on the wall, and explain how he will lead us in this new landscape suddenly war-strewn. No man will figure this out alone, but some man must be able to convoke a body of advisors to strategically assess our international situation. His best advisors may be one religious/political wise man, two military regional commanders, five top ambassadors, seven State Department officials, or ten good Senators. As Moses was told: no man can lead alone. But, as of now, no man is putting up a map and giving the history-geography-religion lesson necessary. We ask why are we not hearing such a lesson? Why is such a statesman not emerging to lead?

The pheromones fill the air. These are not the pheromones of the queen inside the hive against the estrogen of females who might be mothers, but an outside signal to block the testosterone of any male contesting to lead the group. There are many good, strategic, patriotic, and religious military men who could lead the Democrats -- but there is a paralysis.There is no staging ground where the bulls can fight hard, and then shake hands and accept the winner. The rules are different -- there are no rules -- just a chemical in the air, an implant in every head.  
                                                                  [Mayor Richard Daley in 1966]

The Queen looks out and warns: "Do not run as a man. You are not going to lead your brother countrymen in a time for war. The patriarchy is dead, and so is the masculine fraternity that always supported it. We don't talk like that anymore. You are allowed to talk with each of your fellow country persons in the language of the drawing room. Do not speak in declarative sentences. That doesn’t mean you can’t shout against the rich or denigrate the servant girls or roll your eyes at the too pious. We prefer our older male veterans a bit impaired, and we paint the younger ones in need of counseling and benefits. As for us healthy leaders who have never been damaged by the battlefield, we will all run as feminists."

This is coming from a woman who in her time of crisis was “too exhausted” to speak clearly to her nation. A woman who several weeks later could not speak to the Senate because she had fainted and hurt her head. She described her State Department office in Washington D.C. as befuddled by the fog of war for weeks after the real fog of war had filled a room during a single night of smoke when our ambassador was slain.

For now, the Queen has paralyzed the religious men, as well as the fighting men, as well as the men of the cities, and the men of manual labor. If Democratic males file for office, will they look like the forlorn drones that filled the stage six years ago with their queen? This time, there will be no “first black President” to break the spell. No man will break the spell until he understands this is not about political fights for leadership among men; this is about pheromones and queen bees. The nation needs the men of both parties to put forth their best men. This is about mustering men for duty, not clustering around celebrities. Real arguments must be made about why we are seeking a godless, anti-nationalist, military alliance called “the West” against the Orthodox Christians of Russia. An open well-attended Senate floor session, and a full campaign evening debate, must address why we still ally with the Saudis -- who bankroll the deadly variant of global Sunni jihadism which has targeted our country. Before the maps will be displayed and arguments can be made, the chemical must find its antidote and an implant must be extracted.

                                                                          [Our 7th president]
Andrew Jackson and John Kennedy faced tougher foes than these. Hubert Humphrey, and the ADA Democrats in the post-war years, rescued the compromised Democratic party from the pacifists and Leftists who really did think that the Soviet Union was the inevitable face of the future. Old Hickory, HHH, and JFK were all told (as those of us who cannot drink the Kool-Aid of the sexual Left have been told) that their opposition to the spirit of the times would put them on "the wrong side of history." But there is a deeper sacral order which Christian men must always obey over the fads of any age. Let the fighting liberalism of those happy warriors rise again. May that true and beautiful rainbow of interracial colors which marks the Democratic Party form a national brotherhood again in service to God and country.


"In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
'We have a strong city;
 he sets up salvation
 as walls and bulwarks.
 Open the gates,
 that the righteous nation which keeps faith
 may enter in.' "    (Isaiah 26)

Friday, July 4, 2014

JULY 4 -- The American Covenant: Brotherhood under God

David Pence writes:

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were fought by local militias on April 19, 1775.  American militiamen were protecting a large cache of military supplies in Concord from British seizure.

The militias would not be enough to defeat the mighty British Army, so the Continental Army was formed by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775. The Congress commissioned George Washington as Commander-in-Chief of that army five days later.

                                     (Gen. Henry Knox: self-educated artilleryman)

The British evacuated Boston – on March 17, 1776 – after militia and Continental forces besieged the city for 11 months.  The stalemate was turned when the Knox Expedition to the newly captured Fort Ticonderoga brought 60 tons of captured heavy artillery over difficult terrain in mid-winter to bear on the encircled British.  (This is now celebrated as “Evacuation Day” in Massachusetts along with another feast of national identity: Saint Patrick’s Day.)

The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.
It was, indeed, a declaration of inalienable rights:
'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'

But if  all men are born free and equal, why everywhere are men enslaved?
Because their fathers did not secure these rights by forming a well-armed covenant with other men by which rights could be protected against tyrants, criminals, and unfettered passions.  Our founding fathers made and enforced such a covenant.  They protected their armaments at Concord and captured the cannons of Ticonderoga, one year before they declared on paper their Independence.  As my daddy used to say: "You want to change the world?  Bring large groups of armed men into agreement."  That’s why we are grilling hot dogs and waving flags on July 4th.

We rejoice because men loved each other with the sacrificial love of fellow citizens under God. They broke one form of blood kinship and hereditary rule with the English to assert the more powerful and democratic blood brotherhood of republican military duty. They formed a nation for all on a brotherhood for adult males only. Their brotherly love spoke in the language of honor codes and Providence.

'That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.'

If the oft-quoted second paragraph of the Declaration is about the rights of every person in principle, then the seldom quoted last line is about the sacred masculine blood oath which won those rights in practice.  The words declaring the rights of men were sealed authoritatively by the sacrificial fraternal acts at Lexington and Concord.

While the nation as a single organism embraces all men, women, and children, the fundamental bond which makes the nation possible through time is a trans-generational masculine fraternity of sacrifice. No authoritative covenant by men in arms – no rights of man. No communal authority – no individual liberty.

We are not the founders of our nation. The adult men of this generation are challenged to receive and transmit a patrimony already established. Some men find themselves in a time and place which demand a founding. This is not our situation in the America of 2012. The fireworks of the Fourth celebrate our good fortune. We are not called to found a city, but to be the watchmen of her walls already built by the sweat and bought by the blood of men who went before us. 

America is the sweetest fruit of the Protestant Reformation. Laymen had to separate themselves into the communal fellowship of nations, to free themselves from the temporal rule of the Catholic Church. (This freed the Church to clarify Her spiritual mission.)

The American continents provided a vast and separate land where the dynamic interplay of the nations of Noah and the seed of Abraham might bring forth the will of Providence. Adam and his sons, Noah and his sons, Abraham and his seed, Jacob and his sons – these communal forms of patriarchal fraternity are now found in the apostolic Church and the national brotherhoods. In America they were made incarnate  by the biblical leadership structures of Protestant congregations, and the military structures of local and state militias. These sacred bonds of civic and ecclesial masculine duty settled the wilderness and – in God’s appointed time – will cast out the Father of Lies and restore all things in Christ.  

BACKGROUND: Monsieur Renan on the spiritual nature of the nation.

Pence on America as a Christian nation: part 1 and part 2.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


by Dr. David Pence

Every Sunday at Mass, Catholics stand to profess in the Creed that we believe in "the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." What does it mean to say the Church is Apostolic, and why is the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul one of the ten holy days of obligation in the Catholic Church? The feast day reminds us that the Church wants us to reflect on these men and their office as apostles, in the same way we reflect on Mary’s Immaculate Conception or Christ’s Ascension into heaven. These are central truths that organize the way we understand reality and live our common life as a Church.

                                                                                   (Saint Paul)

Both Peter and Paul had their names changed in their encounter with Christ.  Saul became Paul and Simon was re-named Peter.  Christ the new Adam re-organized humanity, not as the blood sons of Adam and Eve, but now as a sacral brotherhood that would allow entry into the life of the Trinity. “Those whom He foreknew, he predestined to share the image of His Son, that the Son might be the firstborn of many brothers.” David drew Jonathan (the blood son of Saul) away from his own kinship claims to succession, into the newly anointed Davidic Kingdom.  So Christ configured the first twelve apostles -- all loyal sons of Jacob -- into the new priesthood that would be the twelve foundation stones of the Church. Calling Paul an apostle a decade later showed that some vital aspect of the apostolic duties and office of the original Twelve would live on in other elected men through the ages. The joining of Paul to the apostolic office and his mission to the Gentiles gives evidence that the Church built on a highly localized brotherhood of Galileans was to spread all over the earth, and yet still be fully manifested in such crucial Catholic local forms as the parish Mass and the diocesan Bishop.

The fraternal relationship of Christ to his chosen men forms the living sinew of the new Temple, in which the presence of God will be carried to the ends of the earth. This is the sacramental order that the Church establishes as the central organism to reorder humanity under the Father. Holy Orders is the third of the sacraments which imprint an indelible mark on the soul; and, like Confirmation, it shows again how indispensable is the communion of the bishops to the Church’s sacramental order. Peter and the apostles live on in the pope and the bishops, and the bishop and his diocesan priests. These are the patriarchal fraternities that mirror the Trinity, and provide the Catholic framework for the baptizing of nations, and the public ordering of human beings necessary to prepare for the Second Coming.

To this priestly apostolic order are given particular powers to forgive sins, cast out demons, and definitively proclaim the message that God dwells among us and invites us to dwell in Him.  This priestly authority to beseech the Father -- to send the Spirit to bring us back in the presence of the Son’s sacrifice -- is the Mass. The priests have been given the keys to a mysterious "time/space machine" which binds dispersed humanity into the one Body of Christ.

                                                                         ("Crucifixion of St Peter" -- Rubens)

It was Peter’s proclamation, not that Christ was the Messiah (a big deal in itself) but that he was the Son of the living God, that evoked from Christ His ordaining of the Petrine office. Christ did not award Peter’s faith. In fact, he told him clearly that Peter was not talking on his own. The Holy Spirit allowed Peter to profess the divinity of Christ, and upon that central theological truth was the Church built. The real rock is not so much Peter, but the accurate testimony of Peter that Jesus is God-become-man.  Christ is the cornerstone, and the apostles are the twelve foundation blocks. The keys are given to Peter to unlock mysteries in teaching, and unlock jail cells in releasing men from their sins. It is no mistake that the second reading of the feast day is an angelically engineered jailbreak for Peter -- recalling an earlier prison tomb that was evacuated so that hell might be harrowed. The priestly powers  are conferred, not on every man who chooses Christ, but on certain men whom Christ chooses.  Peter was not Superman dressed like a fisherman who burst out of prison to work miracles.  He was Peter who was led out of prison by an angel, and called out of his fishing boat by Our Lord. And that Peter was given the authority to work the miracles of healing the sick and, more importantly, forgiving men their sins.

Christ asked, “Who do men say the Son of Man is?”  Whenever Christ called himself the Son of Man, he was affirming his human identity. In Hebrew, he would have called himself the Son of Adam.  Peter, by power of the Holy Spirit, answers Christ’s directed question to the apostles about his identity: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That was the instance the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter, speaking for the whole church with an infallible statement. We share that infallible authority every time we also comply with the Spirit, and read Scripture or profess the Creed together at Mass. It is all part of being an apostolic church with real authority given by Christ through the Spirit.

In these recent weeks of the Church liturgical year, we meditated on the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Trinitarian nature of God on Trinity Sunday, and the presence of Christ in the Eucharist on Corpus Christi. Today let us give thanks and praise for the Apostolic priesthood that makes the bridge between those spiritual realities and our lives in the practice of our sacramental life.  


Friday, June 27, 2014

FEAST OF THE SACRED HEART: "It is the Father’s will that men should see him in the face of his beloved Son"

"O Sacred Heart of Jesus, to Thee I consecrate and offer up my person and my life, my actions, trials, and sufferings...
    I take Thee, O Sacred Heart, for the sole object of my love, the protection of my life, the pledge of my salvation...
Be Thou, O Most Merciful Heart, my justification before God Thy Father, and screen me from His anger which I have so justly merited."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Friday BookReview: LBJ as the pathfinder for Joe McCarthy

You may remember the Havana-born Miss Ruiz, that Artful Dodger who was cheered to victory across the Boston finish line, before it became clear that she had run only a portion of the twenty-six mile race. (Her best line: "I got up with a lot of energy this morning.")

She sometimes comes to mind when I hear Lyndon Baines Johnson mentioned in the same breath as Abraham Lincoln. (One of those who accepts the comparison is the estimable Robert Caro.)

There is no question that LBJ was a legislative genius, but much of his power lay in his viciousness and absence of normal scruples. President Kennedy's death was the only thing that saved the Vice President from probable indictment at the time of the Bobby Baker scandal. Years earlier when the IRS was closing in on the criminal corruption of one of Johnson's campaigns, it was President Roosevelt who saved his bacon by calling off the investigators [see chapter 35 of Mr. Caro's The Path to Power].

LBJ was as self-aggrandizing and crude as Lincoln was humble. (As one commentator said of Johnson's preferred mode of humiliating Hubert Humphrey and many others: "In the full flush of his egotism, a toilet for LBJ was just another seat of power.")

He consistently voted with the segregationists during his congressional career. As a new Senator in the spring of 1949, Johnson's first speech was a ninety-minute defense of the South against President Truman's anti-lynching law.

Lyndon Johnson shamelessly employed McCarthyite tactics -- months before the Wisconsin senator rose to prominence -- as he set out to destroy the reputation of Leland Olds and drive him from the chairmanship of the Federal Power Commission. The Texas oil and gas interests didn't cotton to Mr. Olds (an Amherst-educated economist who had worked for FDR during his governorship of New York) or his push for more cooperative public power systems.

(Take a look at Caro's Master of the Senate for the details of the Olds case, and the spineless reaction of the New Deal crowd to the character assassination. No wonder that Joe McCarthy came tearing out of the scoundrel gate with a full head of steam!
LBJ railed and ranted on the Senate floor against Mr. Olds, who had been chairman of the power commission for more than a decade: "Shall we have a commissioner or a commissar?" 
And despite Democratic control of the White House and both houses of Congress, the vote against Olds was overwhelming -- with only 13 of the 53 Democratic senators supporting him.)

Folks can make up their own mind about President Johnson -- you won't find a nobler guide than Mr. Caro -- but the image that's left with me is of a Jumbo Sleazeball crashing the civil-rights party, basking in applause as he carries the torch of equality into the winner's circle.

"If you want the truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it... It is well said in the old proverb, 'A lie will go round the world while truth is putting its boots on.' "   (English preacher Charles Spurgeon, d. 1892)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

CORPUS CHRISTI: Lessons from Nature and History

Pence writes on this feast day, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (a holy day of obligation in the universal Church; and a national holiday in countries such as Brazil, Portugal, and Poland) --

The feast of Corpus Christi seldom inspires dialogue with Protestants. This is unfortunate, for much more than theological formulations of justification and faith, it is the sacral priesthood’s irreplaceable role in forgiving sins and bringing the Eucharist to the faithful that divides Catholic and Protestant.  The consecrated Apostolic Priesthood and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist are indivisible truths. The faithful Protestant with a Bible in his hand, a heart for his Savior, and the name of Jesus on his lips cannot fathom that liturgical actions of the sacramental priesthood are an indispensable means to proximity with Christ. The personal faith of the Reformers has trumped the priestly works of the Papists.

In the same way as Andrew did with Peter, Catholics run to our brothers saying: “We see the Messiah. Come and be with Him; come and be with us.” We know that believing Protestants want to hear us, but it is a hard saying. They want to be close to Christ. They say He is their personal friend and Savior, and they mean it. But especially during Corpus Christi processions and Eucharistic Adoration hours, the Catholics seem so radically different.

Catholics kneel and say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God” – expressing the awe and veneration owed to the God who made heaven and earth. We join the centurion in saying that we are not worthy that Christ should enter under our roof. In the Holy Communion that immediately follows, He enters under our roof and our souls are healed in an act of incorporation beyond any act of friendship.

             [detail from "Last Communion of Saint Jerome" by Botticelli]

Why don’t Catholics display the continued unrelieved intensity of a “personal relationship with Christ”?  Because we live in a different sort of emotional universe.  At times we do not dare the familiarity of friendship, as we take off our sandals with Joshua and “fall down and worship.” Other times we know the communion of theosis for which friendship is too sparse a term.  We admire the intensity of our Evangelical friends, but we should neither envy nor imitate the one-dimensional emphasis on friendship that compensates for centuries apart from the Eucharistic presence. Receiving the Lord in the Eucharist introduces a kind of interpersonal consummation, which generates an abiding peace.  This rhythmic liturgical experience of Presence is less excitable than the enthusiasm of college friends; but like marriage, it is a deeper communion.

Corpus Christi invokes an irresistible lesson from the Book of Nature as well.  Bacteria were the first forms of physical life created 3.8 billion years ago. Bacteria live as single cells or in colonies. They consist of prokaryotic cells, which have no nuclei and multiple coverings – a membrane, a cell wall, and a capsule. Around 2 billion years ago, one of the great transformations in life-forms occurred as certain bacteria lost some of their external coverings (the capsules) and merged with other bacteria to form something new: eukaryotic cells. This type of cell was larger and had a nucleus. Most importantly, the new cells had fewer coverings, and the membranes of their cells were capable of much more complex social interaction with other cells. These cells would develop over time with a capacity to “incorporate” into multi-cellular organisms.

These new eukaryotic cells would become the multi-cellular organisms of the protist, fungal, plant and animal kingdoms.
[The protist kingdom is that of amoeba and algae; the ‘silly putty’ of the biological world, or the living goo from which emerges the more defined forms of plants and animals].


I have always pictured this event as the best biological analogy to the capacity of persons with spiritual souls to be incorporated in the Body of Christ. There is something about shedding an outer self to allow a deeper bonding in a new multidimensional organism that resonates. The sacraments of Initiation and Holy Orders seal our souls with indelible characters that configure us in a radically transformed mode of living. The feast of Corpus Christi calls us to consider this truth: that Christ is fully present in the Eucharist and being incorporated in Him (and participating in His Sonship) is the way members of our species are going to live forever in the Father’s household.  

UPDATE:  From a letter of J.R.R. Tolkien to his son (November 1, 1963) --
“But for me, that Church of which the Pope is its acknowledged head on earth has as its chief claim that it is the one which has (and still does) ever defended the Blessed Sacrament and given it most honor and put it as Christ clearly intended in prime place.  ‘Feed my sheep’ was His last charge to St. Peter… It was against this that the West European revolt (or the Reformation) was really launched – ‘the monstrous fable of the Mass’ – and faith/works a mere red herring.”