Sunday, July 6, 2014

Here Until the End

"Either Christ has a Church in the world continually and until the end of the world, or else He has a Church sometimes, and sometimes not at all. Could we think that He had a Church while He was here Himself, and perhaps awhile after, but -- mysteriously -- none since?...No that can in no way be, since He must necessarily still preserve His Church somewhere; otherwise, how could He be with His followers continually until the end of the world?"
- St. Thomas More (1478-1535 A.D.) on the Catholic Church

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

At the Bird and Baby

Here's a shot of yours truly at the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford, England. Today is just about 12 years since the photo was taken.
Himself at the Bird and Baby

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Modern Polytheism

Modern Polytheism holds that one ought to accept everyone's personal truth on the grounds that said truths are sincerely held - and this in spite of the contradictions between the many personal truths. Diversity is to be celebrated, not strictly examined, and certainly not reconciled.

A corollary to this is that one should exclude considerations of revealed knowledge on the grounds that truths rooted in external agents cannot ever be genuinely one's own. Also, the many contradictions between those who claim divine inspiration is deemed sufficient proof in support of the premise.

Instead, one should rely primarily on reason. The many contradictions between those who appeal to reason, meanwhile, are no argument against said reliance.

If this seems like a contradiction or a case of special pleading - well, the modern polytheist will say, that's just your own truth; don't bother inflicting it on others.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Prayer in Stone

“’Haec est domus Dei’, ‘This house is the house of God’, it is like heaven. We love going into a true chapel, a true church, because when we are in the church, we are like in heaven. It is the beginning of heaven. God Himself is in this house – God, and also holy images, statues…The holy images give us good ideas which prepare us to pray, because this house is also the house of prayer: ‘Haec est domus orationis’…”
- Archbishop Lefebvre, during one of his visits to America, for the blessing of a church

“The (church) is itself an act of worship – as its planning, building, and furnishing were acts of worship – it is prayer in stone. We worship with a church as well as in it…The material building and its contents flow from, and are an expression of, the faith, the hope and the love of God of those who erected it. Accordingly, the church is a place of awe and majesty, the tabernacle of God among men…A church by its very appearance should proclaim its character and the grandeur of its high and enduring purpose. It should not only be a church but look as one; it must be distinguished from the town hall, or the factory, or the cinema theatre not merely by the cross on its roof top…The church should be an edifice worthy of its high purpose, with that atmosphere of holiness, dignity, majesty, nobility, reverence, calm, peace and joy that befits the perfect House of God.”
- Church Building and Furnishing, by John Berthram O’Connell

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lose One's Life to Save It

The spirit and example of the world imperceptibly instil the error into the minds of many that there is a kind of middle way of going to Heaven; and so, because the world does not live up to the gospel, they bring the gospel down to the level of the world. It is not by this example that we are to measure the Christian rule, but by the words and life of Christ. All His followers are commanded to labor to become perfect even as our heavenly Father is perfect, and to bear His image in our hearts that we may be His children. We are obliged by the gospel to die to ourselves by fighting self-love in our hearts, by the mastery of our passions, by taking on the spirit of our Lord. These are the conditions under which Christ makes His promises and numbers us among His children, as is manifest from His words which the apostles have left us in their inspired writings. Here is no distinction made or foreseen between the apostles or clergy or religious and secular persons. The former, indeed, take upon themselves certain stricter obligations, as a means of accomplishing these ends more perfectly; but the law of holiness and of disengagement of the heart from the world is general and binds all the followers of Christ.
- Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Vol. I, pp. 711-12

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dad, RIP

In your charity, please remember in your prayers the repose of the soul of my father, Robert. He passed away today; his death was due to complications arising from multiple sclerosis.


Sunday morning I woke to dad calling my name; he told me to get an ambulance. When we got him to the ER he was in great pain and his breathing was shallow. The hospital did a CT scan and ran tests, after which the ER doctor told me and my brother that dad's colon had ruptured; there were also signs of colon cancer. He said that we could take dad home to be comfortable and he would die in a few days, or he could have surgery which he would not survive. The doctor emphasized that in his opinion, there was no way that dad could survive the surgery in his frail state.

Dad was still alert, so I said the question should be put to him.

"Go for it," he gasped to the doctor. The doc wasn't sure exactly what that meant, so dad added, "The surgery - go for it." Dad knew that if he was going to live, it would be by surgery; he didn't want to await the inevitable for a few days in hospice care.

I'd twice before asked dad if he wanted me to get a priest, and he'd always refused. With certain death now looking him in the face, I leaned over close to his ear and told him, "I'm going to get Fr. Vernoy." Dad looked at me and said, "OK." His tone indicated he said this at least in part to humor me, but it was enough for me to act. He knew who Fr. Vernoy was because each Sunday after I got home from Mass I told him one fact or detail from the day's sermon - it's all he would indulge me after having been away from the Church for over 40 years.

Fr. Vernoy was on a plane to a mission, so he could not come. Fr. Haynos, meanwhile, was driving back to Orlando from Miami, so he was unable to arrive before the emergency surgery. I told my beads and saw dad to the surgery room.

A few hours later, the surgeon greeted the family in the waiting room. He said it was amazing, but dad had lived. The entire colon had been removed; he would have a very long recovery time in the ICU; he was still not conscious.

Yet dad woke a few hours after that; we were all astonished and delighted and began to allow ourselves to feel a hint of optimism. He was not entirely alert, but he would turn to look at you when you spoke to him, and he seemed to recognize us.

Soon after I again spoke with Fr. Haynos, and he said that he would visit dad because the danger had not passed. About 8:30 in the evening Father arrived at the hospital; we went to the post-op room (ICU was full and did not have a bed), and Father gave dad absolution, last rites, and the apostolic blessing. He told dad what he was doing as he administered the sacrament, explained that he needed to be sorry for his sins, and reminded to him to say the name "Jesus" when he knew he was at the moment of death. I saw Father off, grabbed a bite to eat, and then tried to get some sleep.

At 2:30 in the morning the hospital called. Dad had been moved to the ICU and then taken a grave turn: his heart rate had been 150 for 24 hours straight, and he'd finally had a massive heart attack. The doctor had issued a DNR order: dad was in such sad state that any effort to revive him could only do harm. It was
just a matter of hours before he'd be gone.

I got to the hospital at 3:00 and stayed with dad until he died. My brother and one sister were in town and soon joined me; our other sister several hours away started driving. The hospital had dad on straight adrenalin, but his heart rate continued to steadily drop through the morning. Several times throughout the morning I leaned over and whispered in dad's ear - "Remember dad: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus..." Finally my last sister arrived. She walked in, kissed dad on the head, told him she loved him, and sat down. Less than 30 seconds later his heart rate fell to 0 - he was gone.

Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine, et lux perpétua lúceat eis. Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tolkien Lecture

Michael D. C. Drout, professor of English and director of the Center for the Study of the Medieval at Wheaton College, recently visited his alma mater at Carnegie Mellon (home of CAPTCHA) to gave a worthwhile lecture on how to read Tolkien.

Have a gander at