Saturday, July 18, 2015

There is nothing worse than this ... nothing more wicked ... nothing ...

Arise O Lord, and may your enemies be scattered.
May those who hate you flee before your holy face.

+ + +

Arise then, Lord, lift up your hand!
O God, do not forget the poor!
Why should the wicked spurn the Lord
and think in his heart: "God will not punish"?

But you have seen the trouble and sorrow,
you note it, you take it in hand.
The helpless trusts himself to you;
for you are the helper of the orphan.

Break the power of the wicked and the sinner!
Punish their wickedness till nothing remains!
The Lord is king for ever and ever.
The heathen shall perish from the land he rules.

Lord, you hear the prayer of the poor;
you strengthen their hearts; you turn your ear
to protect the rights of the orphan and oppressed:
so that mortal man may strike terror no more.

+ + +

Repay them as their actions deserve
and the malice of their deeds.
Repay them for the works of their hands;
give them their desserts.
For they ignore the deeds of the Lord
and the work of his hands.
(May he ruin them and never rebuild them.)

+ + +

Arise O Lord, and may your enemies be scattered,
May those who hate you flee before your holy face.
As smoke is blown away so will they be blown away;
like wax that melts before the fire,
so the wicked shall perish at the presence of God.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Finally, reality sets in: Harvesting organs of vulnerable prenatal children.

Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services 
mentions multiple times that they will take the organs from 
babies as old as 20 weeks. This is a photo of what such a child looks like. -CC

It should shock us into admitting we kill the most vulnerable of human beings for financial profit.

And convenience.  We get rid of the unwanted in the same way the Nazis did - but it is more clinical, more sanitized and socially-economically-medically necessary.  It is a process of dehumanization.  Those of us who are pro-life, anti-abortion know that the victims are human beings, vulnerable children - prenatal children are unborn babies.  Vulnerable means defenseless.  They are children - crushing the head of a child is not unlike decapitating a person - in fact it is quite similar to what ISIS does to terrify the world.

'As important as the legal questions are, the moral questions are even more important.' - Camosy

That said, I found something on Fr. Martin's Facebook page which speaks to this issue - for me it clarifies the significance of the Planned Parenthood revelation that party parts are harvested from prenatal children.  Baby body parts on the market.  We should have known this - especially with the controversy surrounding the push for embryonic stem cell use.  The Chinese harvest organs from adult prisoners - doesn't affect our bottom line or stop trade with them.  As the author I link to observes, noting the Pope's reference to abortion in Laudato si: "Pope Francis laments a view which "sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one's own immediate interests" and "treats others as mere objects." Our "use and throwaway" culture:
"leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted?" - Laudato si

I can't express it better than what Charles Camosy says in his article, so I will post an excerpt - I apologize for the length, but sometimes readers just don't want to finish reading at a different site.

'If there is a silver lining in this horrific story, it is the possibility that our culture will be forced to confront the moral reality of vulnerable prenatal children.' - Camosy

This beautiful formulation of the consistent ethic of life is an important lens through which to look at the "baby body parts" story. The moral reality of the child is erased from the scenario, with the only thing left being a mere object to be crushed, used and thrown away - especially when there is a financial profit to be made. Our own immediate interests dominate such that we become unable to see the vulnerable person who is (quite literally) objectified by our behaviour. The dignity of such persons is simply too inconvenient for us to acknowledge and thus must be ignored if we are to get on with the business of pursuing our interests.
If there is a silver lining in this horrific story, it is the possibility that our culture will be forced to confront the moral reality of vulnerable prenatal children. In the video, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services mentions multiple times that they will take the organs from babies as old as 20 weeks.
For most of our history, vulnerable persons like these were hidden from view such that those with power over them were rarely forced to confront their reality. But the current controversy over distributing aborted baby body parts brings the focus squarely onto their reality. Over and over again, this story includes references to the various human organs of the child: heart, liver, lungs and so on. We've received horrific but telling descriptions of how, in an attempt to acquire these organs during an abortion, the best practices involve crushing the feet and legs of the child first, leaving the bodily organs largely intact, with the final part being the evacuation of the baby's head. 
This reality, in all its gruesome detail, resists any Orwellian euphemism which might disconnect us from the reality of the child. In other contexts, we might be able to get away with calling a baby a "foetus" or the "product of conception." Or, as the video transcript mentions, calling the body a "thorax" and the head a "calvarium." Not in the context of this controversy. With these kinds of images and descriptions, it becomes clear that what we are talking about is a human baby - a baby whose reality, dignity and vulnerability cannot be euphemized away.
Can our culture maintain the focus necessary to move to protect our prenatal children? News cycles are notoriously short-lived, and the reality of what Planned Parenthood does to these babies is very difficult to face for any length of time. The major media in the United States, to the extent they have seriously covered the story at all, have already attempted to push our focus away from babies and onto other things: the motives of the people who took the video, what the legal definition "selling" means and so on.
But Pope Francis challenges us to resist these distractions - and the throwaway culture they end up serving - by consistently lifting up the dignity of the most vulnerable. Even (and perhaps especially) when it is difficult and inconvenient for us to do so. How we will respond to his challenge remains to be seen.
Charles Camosy is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Fordham University. His most recent book is Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation.

A couple of devotional shrines ...

Since I had the camera handy yesterday ...

For Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
[Spanish Colonial painting on canvas.]

Japanese Shinto shrine...

Tabernacle for the Holy Face.

St. Alexis, Man of God

Every year I rejoice in the feast of St. Alexis.

"Let us go to him outside the camp, bearing the insult which he bore.  For here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which is to come.  Through him let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which acknowledge his name." - Hebrews 13: 13-15

Story of St. Alexis.

St. Alexius the only son of Euphemianus, a wealthy Christian Roman of the senatorial class, fled his arranged marriage to follow his mysterious holy vocation. Disguised as a beggar, he lived near Edessa in Syria, accepting alms even from his own household slaves, who had been sent to look for him but did not recognize him, until a miraculous vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary singled him out as a "Man of God." Fleeing the resultant notoriety, he returned to Rome, so changed that his parents did not recognize him, but as good Christians took him in and sheltered him for seventeen years, which he spent in a dark cubbyhole beneath the stairs, praying and teaching catechism to children. After his death, his family found writings on his body which told them who he was and how he had lived his life of penance from the day of his wedding, for the love of God. (Source)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Summer Garden ... the one the rabbits eat, winter, spring, summer and fall

Rabbits ate all the blooms - they love roses ...

Our Lady, Vine blossom laden,
pray for us.

Topiary - severely trimmed this year.

Hosta blooms needing to be cut back.

Joy of all who sorrow.

How can I draw closer to you, O Blessed and Immaculate Virgin?

How can I take refuge in your Immaculate Heart?
Your Heart, the way that leads me to God?
In Holy Communion of course - the devout reception of Your Son ...
I find communion with God in the arms of my Lady, Holy Mary of Carmel.

Yet failing that ... always unworthy and often unable to receive Holy Communion,
for whatever reason ...

I reach out to cover myself in your Scapular of Mt. Carmel,
or rather, I beg you O Blessed Virgin - cover me as Rebekah covered Jacob.

Your holy Scapular symbolizes your embrace, O Blessed Virgin,
it signals your protection, your companionship, your maternal patronage.

Clothed in the holy scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary ...
how can I repay my Lady for her goodness to me?

The rosary of salvation I will raise,
In the house of my Mother,
    I will call upon the Lord's name.

Holy Mary,

Mother of God,

Pray for us sinners,


and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

This is ridiculous. Rachel Rose Dumont - Bride of Christ

Nothing wrong with Consecrated Virgins ... but.

I once had a spiritual director who thought the revision in canon law (Canon 603) permitting the  eremetical life once again was a mistake.  If I remember correctly he said it would give canonical status to a host of misfits who didn't belong in religious life.  At least that's how I interpret what he said these 20+ years later.  Look at all the hermits and you'll see what I mean.  What?

So anyway - Consecrated Virgins keep popping up in the news - now that the rite was restored.

Nothing wrong with that either.

Unless you make a big deal about it - then it's weird.
Rachel Rose Dumont, 28, is a consecrated virgin in the Catholic Church, having professed solemn vows in a ceremony on Sullivan’s Island, S.C., on October 15, 2014, the memorial of Saint Teresa of Avila. As a “bride of Christ,” the ancient title bestowed on women who forsake conventional marriage to enter into a chaste union with the man they love and believe to be God incarnate, Dumont arranged for a wedding replete with “insignia of bridal consecration,” in the words of the little-known Rite of Consecration to a Life of Virginity. Her plans included bridesmaids, groomsmen, and a stately procession down the aisle of her parish church, Corpus Christi. - National Review
Say what you want, that's just weird.  Weirdness all the way.  St. Therese did a wedding invitation for her profession - but it was spiritual - not religious.  Yes it was.  Carmelites have ceremonies for clothing and religious profession which can look like nuptials - that is religious within a religious context - it's not a wedding parody, nor is there a wedding 'party'.  In my opinion, the eremetic and the consecrated life is summed up in this: "Hidden in Christ with God."  Indeed, it seems to me, the consecrated virgin/bride should be more hidden than flashing around a wedding ring ... as the Song of Songs reveals:

Descend from the peak of Amana,
from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
From the lairs of lions,
from the leopards’ heights...
A garden enclosed, my sister, my bride,
a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed!

Instead, this woman's story sounds like a Princess Bride fantasy.

Civil recognition?

Ms. Dumont Bride'O'Christ is suing for civil recognition of her marriage since the SCOTUS gay marriage decision; asking that the principle of marriage equality be extended to women in her state of life."  I don't know - that quest for attention and recognition should be cause for an annulment right there.  Given her claim for legal recognition, perhaps since Christ has so many brides already, maybe someone should file a suit disallowing religious profession because it's ritualized polygamy.  Oh!  Oh! Maybe her big idea could be considered precedent to legalize polygamy.  I'm being facetious, but Ms. Bride'O'Christ started it.
“The law of the land is that pretty much any two consenting adults can be civilly married,” she argues. “Civil marriage confers a certain ‘nobility and dignity’” — the reference is to Obergefell — “that, yes, I could live without, but I don’t have to. I have a legal right to it.” She breaks eye contact for a moment and looks at the window, on the other side of which a mother plays with her splashing children at the edge of the pool. “We’re a traditional male–female couple who have committed ourselves to each other in a lifelong union. What part of that makes the State of South Carolina conclude we’re not married?” - Ms. Bride'O'Christ
She's so serious.  That's not what it's about though.  This lady is a new convert - she came into the Church in 2012, became a Consecrated Virgin in 2014.  That's not much of a 'novitiate' if you know what I mean.  Now embroiled in controversy, that doesn't strike me as worthy of a vocation as a consecrated virgin.  It's rather imprudent, to say the least.  (She also talks about visions she experienced...)

That said, a theologian friend of Dumont's commented on the story saying in part:
[...] her demand that South Carolina bless it is a grave misstep. The secular state has seduced her, don’t you think? Only the Church can give her what she seeks. She longs profoundly for the sacrament of matrimony. Should the Church extend it to women in her state? I don’t know. I know only that she would like it to, though probably she doesn’t realize that yet. She has yet to learn that the civil law is sterile in this regard. It has nothing to offer that she needs. Rachel Rose, you are knocking on the wrong door. - Roberto Lambertini
Professor Lambertini is nicer than I would be.  

Who is this woman's spiritual director?

It's parody.

I didn't say that! You said that! Did I say that? I didn't say that! 
I think that's so funny that you think I said that! I didn't say that! 
Why do you think I wouldn't know that! I know that!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.


You were seen as our light and surety, we therefore shout to you:
Rejoice, O unsetting star which leads the great Sun into the world.
Rejoice, O pure one, for you opened Eden.
Rejoice, fiery pillar ushering humankind to life on high.
Most-holy Theotokos, save us.


Behold, we cry out to you, rejoice.
Become for us a harbor and haven,
for we are tossed about on the sea of adversity,
and of the many scandals of him who wars with us.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Before he is made Anti-Pope, Cardinal Burke should maybe make an attempt to rein in his followers and promoters.

I love Cardinal Burke - as do many Catholics - but there is a vocal contingent among his most devoted admirers who play him against other bishops and cardinals, and even in some cases, against the Pope.  I was a bit startled by something I read at another blog, asking:
Who will you follow: the Wuerl-Cupich axis, or the Augustine-Aquinas-Leo-John Paul II-Burke alliance?*
Sometimes it seems to me these people are like Christian fundamentalist politicians who want to try and hasten the Second Coming by expanding the wars in the Middle East.  In this case, they seem to be attempting to realize the message of Our Lady at Akita:
The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops against other bishops.
While that may be happening on some level, extremely vicious attacks are being made regularly upon the Holy Father and the hierarchy - by Catholics who insist they are devout.  Creative Minority Report and 1Peter5 as well as Rorate Caeli are extremely divisive and very nearly schismatic in tone.  Pat Archbold featuring Ann Barnhardt comes very close to schismatic, pretty much condemning the Ordinary Form of Mass.

Cardinal Burke will be in Minneapolis this fall and is scheduled to celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form in September at the Basilica of St. Mary.  He is will be here for the
Annual Meeting and Investiture Weekend, of the Northern Lieutenancy of the United States Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.  Perhaps someone could approach him there and request that he intervene?

*I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? - I Corinthians 1:12

If someone offers you membership status - just say no.  Despise honors and capes.  What?

Just remember:

"This is the one whom I approve: the lowly and afflicted man who trembles at my word." - Isaiah 66: 2

Vampires: They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.

Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.

In addition to Therians, Furries, Otherkin and every category of trans you can imagine, you got your Vampires - coming out of the coffin...
“Most vampires believe they were born that way; they don’t choose this,” Williams said.
Research led by D.J. Williams, director of social work at Idaho State University, indicated that people who identify themselves as “real” vampires – that is, needing others’ blood to gain energy – would not disclose their practices to those in the helping professions and risk reactions like ridicule, disgust and possible diagnosis of a mental illness.
Williams, who has studied self-identified vampires for nearly a decade, finds they come from every walk of life and profession, including doctors, attorneys and candlestick makers.
“They are successful, ordinary people,” he said. - Reuters
That's what he thinks.

So anyway ...

Don't judge me.

H/T Nan

Monday, July 13, 2015

One priest keeps asking, "What does it mean to be spiritual and not religious?"

Father keeps asking but I don't think he's listening.

That happens with grown-ups.

This is my best reply: (His com box is closed - so he's definitely not listening.)

Spiritual but not religious means non-binary in all its forms.
It seems to me there is a gnostic strain at work in gender ideology - a sort of crypto-Catharism. It might be described more at 'spiritual - not religious' - which is why I tend to equate the multifaceted aspect of gender/identity with the Otherkin/Therian type spiritual movements. One gets the distinct impression from many of the discussions that it is a cocktail of neo-pagan/Theosophical/Hindu syncretism. One needs to peel back the layers of language and dissimulation to expose the root of the phenomenon. 
I said that.

Spiritual but not religious encompasses all of that.  Institutional religion is rejected.  There is no religious order, no one spiritual direction, no set of doctrine, no dogma, no authority, no one set of rules - it is non-binary.  It is permissive of everything... relatively speaking.  One cannot harness the wind.

William Bloom who combines a long-standing interest in New Age approaches to spirituality with an identity focus in international relations, wrote:

"We are in changing times. Our culture and technology are continually transforming, and the intellectual certainties of the last few hundred years are no longer secure…It is our need to find a new authenticity in our spiritual lives — to bring back fully into our consciousness — the sacred dimension of life, but we want to do this in a way that honours personal freedom and personal growth. In essence, then, we are turning to the teachings and experiences of what is called the ageless wisdom, but we are doing so with completely new attitudes."
A key element of our changing culture is that we are discarding old religious forms and re-creating our spiritual and sacred world. - Theosophical Order of Services

People are not listening.  They ignore the signs of the times.


What Pope Francis might have said to Catholic Bloggers ...

"The devil wants quarrels, rivalry, division ... Don’t let him play with you. Keep working to make progress, together.” - Pope Francis

I may do a list of blogs which should be vaporized.


Immunized against the plight of others.

Portrait Of Adele Bloch Bauer I
Gustav Klimt

More tortuous than anything is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? - Jeremiah 17

Look how we continue to take in stride the displacement of peoples, not to mention the confiscation of their property and lands.

I was reminded of that while watching one of the best films of the year - in my opinion:  Woman In Gold, with Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.  It is the true story of Maria Altman, a Jewish immigrant to the United States after she escaped the Nazis in Vienna, and her long legal battle with the Austrian government to reclaim property stolen from her family.  Reynolds plays her lawyer who aided her in the decade long fight.  The stolen property included a portrait of her aunt by Gustav Klimt, which had been celebrated as the 'Mona Lisa' of Austria.

Flashback footage dramatizes the dehumanization of Vienna's Jews, their humiliation, the confiscation of their businesses and property, as well as their arrest and deportation.  The worst part of the story is how complicit the Austrians were in the persecution of Jews and how envious they were of their apparent wealth and social status.

In one poignant scene, a man on the steps of the court in Vienna insults Mrs. Altman telling her 'it is never enough for you people' - in other words, she should leave well enough alone and not seek justice or restitution for stolen property.  His contempt revealed an underlying antisemitism one senses continues to fester in certain segments of European society and elsewhere.

My first thought was that there is a 'Nazi heart' in people.  There is greed and envy and hatred and oppression - these are the evils within, which come out of man's heart and defile him.

As a culture, we continue to ignore the plight of people whose lands are confiscated, along with their property; those who, unless they are fortunate enough to escape, face servitude, outright slavery, and in some cases extermination.  We see these atrocities repeated time and again, currently in Syria and Iraq - but it also happens elsewhere, Africa, South America - middle class people,as well as the poor, are robbed of everything.

Like the fellow who confronted Mrs. Altman on the steps in Vienna in the film Woman in Gold, many today appear to be immunized against the plight of others and object to any reminder of the injustice they have been made to suffer.

One sees the attitude repeated in the criticisms of many people regarding the Apostolic visit of Pope Francis to South America, misrepresenting so many of his efforts at reconciliation and reparation.  I wonder how many people are conscious of what happened to the indigenous people in Paraguay - even as recently as the 20th Century?
There are 17 indigenous tribes who live primarily in the Chaco region of Paraguay. In 2002, their numbers were estimated at 86,000. During the period between 1954 and 1989, when the military dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner ruled Paraguay, the indigenous population of the country suffered from more loss of territory and human rights abuses than at any other time in the nation's history. In early 1970, international groups claimed that the state was complicit in the genocide of the Aché, with charges ranging from kidnapping and the sale of children, withholding medicines and food, slavery and torture. During the 1960s and 1970s, 85% of the Aché tribe died, often hacked to death with machetes, in order to make room for the timber industry, mining, farming and ranchers.  According to Jérémie Gilbert, the situation in Paraguay has proven that it is difficult to provide the proof required to show "specific intent", in support of a claim that genocide had occurred. The Aché, whose cultural group is now seen as extinct, fell victim to development by the state who had promoted the exploration of their territories by transnational companies for natural resources. Gilbert concludes that although a planned and voluntary destruction had occurred, it is argued by the state that there was no intent to destroy the Aché, as what had happened was due to development and was not a deliberate action. - Source

Pope Francis knows these things - he doesn't distance himself, neither is he immunized against reality, nor would he say to a Jew: "It's never enough for you people ..."

I highly recommend the film - Woman in Gold - it is still in theaters.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Now you can dismiss your servant, O Lord ...

"The poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” - Luke 7

“Now I can die peacefully,” said Francisca de Chamorra, an 82-year-old widow who moved to the shanty in 1952. “It’s a miracle that a pope has come to this muddy place.” - pope francis visits bañado norte asuncion paraguay

Francis has referred frequently during his week-long trip tour of South America to the plight of the region’s landless poor, encouraging them to work together.
On Sunday, he said he wanted to visit Banado Norte*, a neighborhood of shacks of plywood and corrugated metal on the banks of the River Paraguay, to encourage residents’ faith despite the difficulties they encounter. In addition to the lack of services, heavy rains regularly burst the Paraguay River banks and turn Banado Norte’s dirt roads into impassable pools of mud.
Francis said he wanted “to see your faces, your children, your elderly, and to hear about your experiences and everything you went through to be here, to have a dignified life and a roof over your heads, to endure the bad weather and the flooding of these last few weeks.”
Some of the estimated 100,000 residents shrieked as Francis walked by, reaching out to touch his white cassock and snap a photo with their cellphones. - Source

*Many residents of Banado Norte are squatters on municipal land who have come from rural areas in the northeastern part of the country where farmland has been increasingly bought up by Brazilians and multi-national companies. - Source

In this May 29, 2015 photo, members of Palacios-Espinola family eat breakfast outside their shack home in the Banado Norte neighborhood of Asuncion, Paraguay. The family said they earn about $100 dollars total per month by collecting and selling aluminum cans and plastic. From left are one-year-old Dana, Victoria, four-year-old Deidamia, Candida and Sergio. JORGE SAENZ — AP Photo
Read more here:

Bonus - On our lack of awareness of problems which affect the poorest of the poor:

This [lack of "awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded"] is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. (49) - Laudato Si'

In him we were also chosen ...

Nuestra Señora de los Milagros de Caacupé

I love the readings for today.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.

In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ. -2nd Reading, Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

So they went off and preached repentance. - Today's Gospel

"I have found my heaven on earth, 
since heaven is God, and God is in my soul."
Elizabeth of the Trinity