Social Commentary

The Day After the Darkness: A Double Marian Feast!

In His great mercy, Our Blessed Lord gives us His Mother today in a glorious double Marian feast....it is the feast of the Heavenly Queenship of Our Lady in the new calendar and the feast of her Immaculate Heart in the old.  He struck a sword through our heart just yesterday, but today reminds us that we always have recourse to the one who knows this sword well.  Her own heart was stricken seven times with the sword and she knows just how many babies were slaughtered in their mother's wombs across that very path of darkness through our country yesterday....how many impure acts, blasphemies, lies, drug overdoses, suicides...she sees it all.  The Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States of America, comes today to us with her graces, the Mediatrix, in her Queenly crown, with her bleeding heart....to show us the way out.

As darkness descended in the Northwest yesterday, the musical piece "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence," began to play on the Pandora channel in my kitchen.  When I noticed this, I was amazed, shut the music off in obedience, went to the live-cam, and saw the eclipse approaching total blackness.  Following are the words to this beautiful hymn, from the 4th Century Liturgy of Saint James.  They seem frighteningly appropriate:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand,
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand....

Rank on rank the host of Heaven,
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of Light descendeth,
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of Hell may vanish,
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six-winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the Presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry,
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

And ponder the words of Saint Francis of Assisi, from his "Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon:"

"Praised be Thee my Lord with all Thy creatures
Especially Sir Brother Sun
Who is the day through whom Thou givest us light
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor
Of Thee Most High, he bears the Likeness"

If we follow Saint Francis' theology, then it is God who has been eclipsed.  Look around.  It would seem so.

As the journey of the Total Eclipse across our land was reaching completion, I was inspired to write the following poem on the Long Island Railroad, on my way to Forest Hills...traveling the same path as those who were massacred on the train 24 year ago (though they were heading the other direction):

O Brother Sun!

O Brother Sun!  O Sister Moon!
What dost thou do?
In thy marriage, we are convicted
In this darkness, our blindness dispelled
As it once was, so long ago
When Our Savior hung upon the Cross
How Father orders the cosmos
To speak to His children!
Even from the beginning of time
He orders it according to our sins
O Brother Sun!  O Sister Moon!
What dost thou do?
May all mortal flesh keep silence
In this hour
And as thou shinest once again, Brother Sun,
May we in turn, shine brilliant
, resurrected
Returning to innocence, O may it be so!
By Mother Immaculate, our Patroness
Showering her graces, like a storm
O Brother Sun, see and rejoice!

We are not to forget this great sign given us at a most critical hour in human history.  The rest of the world, with its short attention span, will forget even this....and many have seen the Total Eclipse of the Sun, but have not seen at all.  But we, cherish these things and keep them in our hearts.

      Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Forest Hills, NY

      Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Forest Hills, NY

The eclipse was very subtle in New York, but there was a feeling, a slight darkening, like an impending storm.  My niece in Pennsylvania said it was subtle there also, difficult to describe, and "eerily still."  Above, you see Our Lady, triumphant, in total brightness later in the day, her feet trampling the serpent, with blue roses to honor her. 

"In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph!"

 

PS-I have not forgotten about Our Lady of Knock-I am researching this and will post on it when I can.

Solar Eclipse Today: A Warning for America?

The solar eclipse across the United States today is being called, "The Great American Eclipse."  From the Northwest to the Southeast, it will cut a strike right through the heart of the Home of the Brave.  If we were looking for some kind of sign, we might look for something....just like this? 

We know that God uses celestial events to give signs.  The Star of Bethlehem is the best-known such event, but Holy Scripture speaks of others, particularly at the End of Time.  And we know that the Fatima apparitions culminated in a celestial phenomenon-some say this was merely a depiction of a future event.  As we celebrate the centennial of these extraordinary visions, the most powerful nation in the world is darkened through its very heart....perhaps an illustration of what has happened to many hearts these days.  Just look around you.  Need I elaborate?

On this date in 1879, the complex and unusual apparition of Our Lady of Knock appeared in Ireland.  What was the significance of this event and does it still have relevance today?  Could it be related to our solar eclipse today?  More on this in my next post.....

Pray for an end to the darkness of hearts!  Pray for mercy!

 

Random Thoughts.....

Sometimes, by the time I get around to writing about something, it's already old news.  Its amazing these days, how a big event could take place and literally a week later, no one is talking about it.  So, what's the stupid old news I want to provide a random thought about?  The Oscars.  Yes, stupid and old.  The night they were on, I was sitting in a booth in an Italian restaurant waiting for my veggie pizza and there it was, on the big screen right in front of me.  For a moment, I had a macabre fascination, like rubber-necking when you pass a car accident.  You just can't help yourself, even though you know you might see something you don't want to.  When I finally came to my senses, I moved to the other side of the booth and felt a great sense of relief, like I had just been dangling off the edge of a cliff and someone rescued me.  After all, why would I be interested in watching a bunch of creepy people giving themselves awards?  They don't have the great sacrament of Penance.  All they can do to assuage their guilt is praise themselves.  When we don't worship God anymore, we make men our gods.  Do they know how foolish they look?  Grown women posing in their princess dresses like 4-year-olds, our modern-day clowns and jesters (freak show might be more like it) preaching to us about politics, a collection of drug-addicts and adulterers, people who can't even run their own lives, telling us what we should think.  Theater....of the absurd.....

This is what the world does to us....its like a many-tentacled evil octopus (yes, I just said that-go easy on me-I'm trying to get through this day without Advil)....attacking us from all angles, even when we are innocently waiting for a pizza, reaching around our throats.  We must use our heavenly sword to cut the tentacles, free ourselves....the fact is, we are indeed dangling off a cliff....and below is hellfire.  If it were an actual cliff, would you go right up to the edge?  Or would you stay far from the edge?  We must remind ourselves, in this increasingly pagan, atheistic culture, of the spiritual dangers all around us.  What is the true answer?  I believe the answer is radical:  a new culture.  But that's another post for another day!

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How do I know there is a God?  Coffee.  Its the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.  When I take those first few sips of that divine liquid, hot and fresh....yes, I know there must be a God.  If you're not a coffee drinker....no idea what you're missing!

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And another morning contemplation:  There is a sparkling white marble staircase that leads straight to Heaven.  Each and every day, we as faithful Roman Catholics, ascend one step higher...now that's exciting!  Better than coffee and better than....the Oscars!

What does Michael Moore have to say about THIS? Part II

Courtesy nytimes.com, below is all business-related content of Trump's press conference speech of last week.  Pay particular attention to the last paragraph, which specifically mentions jobs in Michigan, Michael Moore's home state, which he supposedly has been so concerned about.  It even mentions General Motors, the company that "Roger & Me" was centered on, Roger Smith being the CEO.  It even mentions Ford abandoning plans for Mexico, which was the issue which "Roger & Me" focused on...jobs moving from Michigan to Mexico.  Trump is moving jobs from Mexico to Michigan and still Mr. Moore is unhappy with him!

What "Roger & Me," really is, and what all Moore's films really are, is a diatribe against capitalism.  He is an admitted socialist.  Yes, he wants jobs, but he wants the government to provide them....and everything else apparently.  The same people who scream "Freedom!  Freedom!," don't seem to realize (perhaps the intellectuals do, but not the average college kid holding a placard) that with EVERY government regulation, comes one LESS freedom.  When the state gives, it is in control.  Let us remember the words at every traditional Catholic Mass, during the Washing of the Hands, from Psalm 25:  "In whose hands are iniquities, their right hand is filled with gifts."  In one line, we have our description and indictment of socialism.  Oh, the genius of God's word!

President Trump is Moore's latest male obsession of hatred.  I'm no psychologist, but this guy sure seems to have Daddy issues.  He has a habit of focusing on male figures to an irrational, obsessive degree.  He did it to Roger Smith, to Charlton Heston in "Bowling for Columbine," and now his latest Dark Lord of All Evil is Donald Trump.  He seeks power over these individuals, even to the point of lies and distortions.  Its sad, really, because Moore is quite talented, perhaps a genius.  His films are riveting, he re-created the documentary genre, everyone copies him...if he put his talents to some good use, he could actually make the world a better place.  I do have to give him credit for shedding light on some very real problems but at the end of the day, he is a socialist propagandist, waving his flag at just the right time...when Americans have become terribly vulnerable to it.  It is a war we are fighting and Moore knows this.  He is waging it and we must also.  Remember the words of Saint Paul: 

"Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.  For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.  Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace:  In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.  And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God)."  Ephesians 6:11

Mr. Moore came out with a film entitled "Michael Moore in Trumpland," just a few weeks before the election.  This film followed Moore interviewing Trump supporters (not very articulate ones) and performing a one-man anti-Trump show.  Didn't swing the election, did it?  Moore's latest fun is, "Do these 10 things and Trump will be toast."  After Trump's pronouncement that jobs will now be coming in droves to Moore's beloved home state, it took the filmmaker all of 5 days to publish his oh so shiny & streamlined set of directives, apparently to make sure these jobs get immediately directed back to Mexico.  Has he turned his back on Flint after all these years?  He and his friends have also come out with something called "The Resistance Calendar," which provides local event info for those who oppose Trump.  How about a Catholic response to Moore's "10 Things?"  He was actually raised Catholic, once considered becoming a priest and used Christianity to attack capitalism in his film "Capitalism: A Love Story," complete with several interviews of Catholic priests.  But we know the truth:  the state is no friend of the Church.  So what 10 things can we do this coming Lent for the good of souls and the good of our country?  I can certainly come up with a few....and you'll have to stay tuned for Part III to see some of my ideas!

"No one can be at the same time a sincere Catholic and a true socialist."  Pope Pius XI

Business-Related Content of President Trump's Press Conference Address, February 16, 2017:

"The stock market has hit record numbers, as you know. And there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world, which is — to me means something much different than it used to. It used to mean, 'Oh, that’s good.' Now it means, 'That’s good for jobs.' Very different. Plants and factories are already starting to move back into the United States, and big league — Ford, General Motors, so many of them...

We’ve withdrawn from the job-killing disaster known as Trans Pacific Partnership. We’re going to make trade deals but we’re going to have one on one deals, bilateral. We’re going to have one on one deals.  We’ve directed the elimination of regulations that undermine manufacturing and call for expedited approval of the permits needed for America and American infrastructure and that means plant, equipment, roads, bridges, factories. People take 10, 15, 20 years to get disapproved for a factory. They go in for a permit, it’s many, many years. And then at the end of the process — they spend 10s of millions of dollars on nonsense and at the end of the process, they get rejected...

Now, they may be rejected with me but it’s going to be a quick rejection. Not going to take years. But mostly it’s going to be an acceptance. We want plants built and we want factories built and we want the jobs. We don’t want the jobs going to other countries. We’ve imposed a hiring freeze on nonessential federal workers. We’ve imposed a temporary moratorium on new federal regulations. We’ve issued a game-changing new rule that says for each one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. Makes sense. Nobody’s ever seen regulations like we have. You go to other countries and you look at indexes (ph) they have and you say 'let me see your regulations' and they’re a fraction, just a tiny fraction of what we have. And I want regulations because I want safety, I want environmental — all environmental situations to be taken properly care of. It’s very important to me. But you don’t need four or five or six regulations to take care of the same thing....

We have also taken steps to begin construction of the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipelines. Thousands and thousands of jobs, and put new buy American measures in place to require American steel for American pipelines. In other words, they build a pipeline in this country, and we use the powers of government to make that pipeline happen, we want them to use American steel. And they are willing to do that, but nobody ever asked before I came along. Even when this order was drawn and they didn’t say that. And I’m reading the order, I’m saying, why aren’t we using American steel? And they said, that’s a good idea, we put it in....

So we’ve begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare, and are deep in the midst of negotiations on a very historic tax reform to bring our jobs back, to bring our jobs back to this country. Big league. It’s already happening. But big league...

Jobs have already started to surge. Since my election, Ford announced it will abandon its plans to build a new factory in Mexico, and will instead invest $700 million in Michigan, creating many, many jobs. Fiat Chrysler announced it will invest $1 billion in Ohio and Michigan, creating 2,000 new American jobs. They were with me a week ago....General Motors likewise committed to invest billions of dollars in its American manufacturing operation, keeping many jobs here that were going to leave. And if I didn’t get elected, believe me, they would have left. And these jobs and these things that I’m announcing would never have come here. Intel just announced that it will move ahead with a new plant in Arizona that it probably was never going to move ahead with. And that will result in at least 10,000 American jobs. Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives. There will be many, many more, many more, these are a few that we’re naming."

Prayer for the USA

Following is a wonderful traditional prayer (abbreviated), written specifically for the United Stated of America, in 1791 by Archbishop John Carroll.  He was the first bishop, and later the first archbishop of this country, of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  His cousin was Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence....

Traditional Catholic Prayer for the United States of America

We pray Thee, O almighty and eternal God, Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.  We pray Thee, O God of might, wisdom, and justice, through Whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude, the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides, by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion, by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy and by restraining vice and immorality.  Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.  We pray for the Governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled by Thy powerful protection to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.  We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy Law, that they may be preserved in union and in that peace which the world cannot give, and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.  Amen.

January is the Month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Nomen Christi) ~ Happy New Year!

[this post has been edited since publishing]

This is a bit late due to computer issues, but here we go....

Our year commences with a month which Holy Church dedicates to the Holy Name of Jesus.  A Name which is so often disrespected in our culture, a sin against the Second Commandment of God, Lord have mercy.  How do we respond when those around us take this Name in vain?  It is in these moments when our friendship with Christ is truly tested.  Do we allow entertainment in our home which freely disregards the holiness of God's Name?  What effect does this have on us?  What effect does it have on our children?  Perhaps we can all do better in these matters in the coming year.  If we defend Christ before man, He will defend us before the Father!

Here are some of the notable feastdays of this month:

1/1-Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary/Circumcision of Our Lord (trad)

1/2-Most Holy Name of Jesus (trad)/Saint Basil the Great

1/3-Most Holy Name of Jesus (new)

1/4-Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

1/5-Saint John Neumann

1/6-Epiphany of Our Lord (trad)/Saints Caspar, Balthasar & Melchior, the Three Wisemen (non-standard)/First Friday

1/7-First Saturday

1/8-Epiphany of Our Lord (new)/The Holy Family (trad)

1/9-Baptism of Our Lord (new)

1/13-Baptism of Our Lord (trad)

1/15-Our Lady of Prompt Succor/Saint Paul the First Hermit

1/16-Our Lady of Refuge (non-standard)

1/18-Chair of Saint Peter at Rome (non-standard)

1/19-Saint Canute

1/21-Saint Agnes, Martyr

1/23-Espousals of the Blessed Virgin Mary (non-standard)

1/24-Saint Francis de Sales (new)

1/25-Conversion of Saint Paul

1/27-Saint John Chrysostom

1/28-Saint Thomas Aquinas "The Angelic Doctor"

1/29-Saint Francis de Sales (trad)/Saint Gildas the Wise (non-standard)

1/31-Saint John Bosco

The 12 Days of Christmas / Epiphany of Our Lord

Happy New Year and I hope all of you, wherever you are in the world, have had a wonderful Christmas!  I have been having computer problems, so I am behind on my posts.  I was going to write about the 12 Days of Christmas in a more timely manner, but now they are over, and we have arrived today at the Epiphany of Our Lord in the traditional calendar.  The Epiphany is celebrated this Sunday in the new calendar.  I have several other posts in the works, including the Month of January-will get that up as soon as possible!

About the 12 Days of Christmas, I wanted to share an idea I have been doing with my family for a number of years now.  I think I came up with this idea on my own and have written about it previously.  You may be aware of the theory that the song "The 12 Days of Christmas" originated as a covert teaching tool in England, during the persecution of Catholics.  I am not concerned about the theory itself, nor even the song.  What does concern me is the re-creation of authentic Catholic culture for our times.  What is wrong with creating new traditions?  I think we are at such an hour in history, when we must take the bull by the horns and move things forward aggressively (moving forward may at times require that we look back-if you have taken the wrong fork, you must go back before you can truly go forward). 

It is sad that the 12 Days of Christmas have largely been forgotten and no one seems to know how to celebrate them anyway.  One idea is to discuss points of the Faith on each of the 12 Days, that correspond to the particular number of the day.  You can be creative with it.  For instance, Day 3 could be about the Holy Trinity or the Three Theological Virtues.  Day 7, you could discuss the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost or the Seven Deadly Sins.  In addition, you can say prayers and sing songs that also correspond to the topic of the day....the song "Holy Holy Holy" for the Holy Trinity....or a Litany to the Holy Ghost for the Seven Gifts.  The possibilities are endless and you can have a lot of fun with it!  So, now that the 12 Days of Christmas are over, just thought I'd share that idea:)

As for the Epiphany, there is a beautiful traditional Blessing of the Home that you can find online, which includes writing above your doorway with blessed chalk.  We must give our children something to love about the Faith....real, concrete ways to BE Catholic that they in turn will continue with their own children.  And these practices enrich life so much and add a dimension to life that simply cannot be fulfilled through any secular pursuit.  This is what the world does not understand:  that all things pale in comparison to the Holy Faith, the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  This is what we must show them.  Love demands it!

More on Father Alfred Delp.....

[Originally published December 11, 2015.]

I gave a brief introduction to Fr. Alfred Delp and the book Advent of the Heart in [a previous post]. Advent was a topic that concerned Fr. Delp throughout his life (1907-1945). It became a metaphor for his own experience "waiting" for the end of the terrifying Nazi regime. In his case, Christmas became his own martyrdom, when he encountered, not a porcelain baby in a creche, but Christ Himself as the Second Person of the Beatific Vision. Almost in anticipation of this extraordinary journey, his preaching and writings on the subject were gripping theological genius...and very appropriate for our own times. It is ironic that the United States of America, rolling into Germany in 1945 with her tanks of salvation, would one day need so desperately this martyr's words of warning and instruction.

The book divides into the 4 weeks of Advent, with appropriate selections of Fr. Delp's writings. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the Season of Advent, but not at all for the faint-hearted. If you take these writings to heart, they will challenge and change you in the most fundamental, deep ways. So....consider yourself warned. As it states in the introduction to Saint Louis de Montfort's The Secret of Mary, these words will exact a responsibility from you:

"...beware, then, of remaining inactive...it would turn into a poison and be your condemnation."

To proceed, I'd like to offer a few brief excerpts from the various introductions to Advent of the Heart, which I feel are essential to the understanding of Fr. Delp:

"Delp wrote the 1944 meditations in Tegel Prison, usually while his hands were in handcuffs. These meditations were smuggled out of the prison as seret messages...

This book presents Advent sermons from Father Delp's parish work in Munich, alongside the powerful messages from his prison Advent experience of 1944...

Their roughness evokes a powerful sense of immediacy rooted in the suffering and danger of the times."

Fr. Delp was originally arrested for suspicion of having knowledge of the attempt on Hitler's life which took place on July 20, 1944.....

"Although all charges related to the assassination attempt were dropped, the irreconcilable opposition of Christianity to Nazism became the focus of the proceedings...Delp was convicted of high treason and sentenced to death by hanging."

Dear Father Alfred Delp, pray for us!

Thought for the Day: How we navigate in darkness....

Did you ever witness something and 10 minutes later your friend relates it to someone else and you think to yourself, "That's not exactly what happened"???

Many years ago, I attended a pro-life event in NYC, where a number of pro-aborts were arrested for disorderly conduct.  The front page of the newspaper the following day said it was the pro-lifers who were arrested.  Anyone reading this blog probably already knows how "accurate" the mainstream media tends to be.

So I wonder....how much of what we hear about the present is false?  Should I take a stab at it?  25%???  I have no idea.  Now let's apply that to the past....even less percentage of truth.  We must assume history is largely fiction.  Orson Welles said the same thing once in an interview, after relating how a journalist quoted him inaccurately.  Now let's think about speculations on the future-completely off the wall!  I recently watched a film about the first "human cloning" experiment, in which someone said they believe cloning will ultimately eliminate all birth defects.  I also watched a film featuring a billionaire from Russia who wants to become a hologram....and is actually working on it.  We hear a lot about the coming "sentience" of computers as well....which some dramatically call "The Singularity."  I contend the future will be nothing at all like the above.  That's because I walk by Faith.  There's got to be some point when God steps in and says, "Okay, My patience ends HERE!"  I am actually amazed that He hasn't stepped in yet.

How much of our own perception of reality is nothing more than a reflection of other people's lies and fantasies?  I wonder.