Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pius XI on Charity

Feast of St. John Bosco


"This charity, intelligent and sympathetic towards those even who offend you, does by no means imply a renunciation of the right of proclaiming, vindicating and defending the truth and its implications. The priest's first loving gift to his neighbors is to serve truth and refute error in any of its forms. Failure on this score would be not only a betrayal of God and your vocation, but also an offense against the real welfare of your people and country."

- Pope Pius XI, 1937, Mit Brennender Sorge

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Corporate Voodoo

Yesterday a colleague made passing reference to our old office in Peachtree Center. That space had been home to a y2k dotcom who had gone belly up. The office sat vacant for about three years before we moved in. When we arrived, the old company's stuff was still there: office furniture, project files in cabinets, company logo in the elevator lobby, etc. Apparently they'd packed up and gotten out in a hurry.

While we were moving in and making the place our own, we made an interesting find. The previous tenants had gone for the loft effect, but they'd taken only half measures: they'd simply removed the ceiling tiles, so you had an exposed dark ceiling with the frames for the tiles still in place.

One day I poked my head up top to see how readily the frames could be removed when I made a discovery: a small color printout of the former company's owner with a dunce cap tacked on, stashed in the ceiling on top of an AC duct. It had been up there for years, out of sight unless you happened to climb half way into the ceiling. I don't know if the effigy was merely a prank, or some species of corporate voodoo; it was good for a laugh in any event.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pope: Reduce Number of Annulments


Pope Benedict XVI has urged church tribunals to work harder to encourage couples to stay married and not resort to granting annulments "at all costs."

An annulment is the process by which the church effectively declares that a marriage never took place.

Many Catholics seek them so they can remarry in the church and receive Communion.

Church laws
Benedict told members of the Roman Rota, the Vatican tribunal that decides marriage annulments, that they shouldn't confuse "pastoral charity" in granting annulments with their need to uphold church law.

The Vatican's concern largely is seen as being mainly directed at the United States, which in 2006 had more annulment cases launched than the rest of the world combined.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Spy vs. Spy


NCR reporter Tom Hoopes relates a few details he picked up from two Vatican experts about Ven. Pius XII's efforts to thwart Nazi abuses and atrocities.

* The Nazis considered the Catholic Church in general and the pope in particular threats to their regime.

* The Catholic hierarchy and clergy were monitored closely by the Nazi secret police through the use of informants, phone taps, and mail surveillance. One effort involved establishing a phony seminary and filling it with seminarians who were actually German agents.

* In the winter-spring of 1939-40 Pius deliberately served as a channel of communications between London and the German resistance inside the German army and intelligence service.

* In Rome's Central Synagogue there is a bronze memorial plaque mounted near the entrance from Israeli Premier Golda Meir thanking the Vatican for saving Jews from Nazi persecution.

* According to Israeli Orthodox Jewish Rabbi and diplomat Pinchas Lapide, Pius XII was repsonsible for saving over 700,000 Jews, and perhaps as many as 860,000.

The Nazis are "in reality only miserable plagiarists who dress up old errors with new tinsel. It does not make any difference whether they flock to the banners of social revolution, whether they are guided by a false concept of the world and of life, or whether they are possessed by the superstition of a race and blood cult."
- Cardinal Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII), in Lourdes, France, 1935

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Non-Explicit Cues

I was making my routine excursion to the office by way of the train station this morning when I arrived at the station’s entrance. The auto entrance has three ticket gates. The gate in the middle had an orange pylon in front of it, indicating it was out of service (explicit cue). The gate on the left had no pylon, but no cars were lined up to use it (non-explicit cue). The gate on the right, meanwhile, had a line of cars waiting their turn. The scene looked like this:

Why would everyone line up on the single gate when there was an open gate with no pylon in front of it just a few feet away? Because the drivers noticed the non-explicit cue and arrived at the conclusion that the left gate was also out of order.

All but one driver, that is: the chap in the photo at the left gate broke ranks and tried his luck at the left entrance. Predictably, the gate didn’t open, and the driver had to back his car up and wait his turn to get into the long line.

Perhaps almost as predictably, no one would let him back in.

Anyway, this reading of non-explicit cues serves as an illustration for how the Catholic Church’s traditions work. A tradition is a handing down of what has been received, be it a teaching or a practice. Catholics don’t simply have an attachment for old things; they keep the traditions because they are a reliable guide for how to reach Heaven. Traditional Catholics are not infrequently ribbed and jabbed and abused for insisting on Mass in Latin even though we aren’t Latin scholars (e.g. the reader comments for the news article
here). The fact that the Latin Mass has produced countless saints since time immemorial is sufficient evidence for us to stay with it – like the drivers in the long line, we’ve read the non-explicit cues and made our decision. Sure you can laugh at us standing in a long line of traditions and rush to the other gate; just don’t expect it to open for you.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

360 View of St. John Lateran

See St. John Lateran's Cathedral in Rome in 360 view at

The Cathedral is the Pope's "home" basilica. St. Peter's is the most famous basilica in Rome (and in the world), but the Lateran is where the Pope rules as bishop of the Eternal City: it the place where the Pope's throne resides, and it serves as the mother church of all the churches in the world.

I recommend starting with the exterior eastern view and working your way in from there.

Mirabantur omnes de his, quæ procedebant de ore Dei.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Relics in Space


Russian Cosmonaut Maksim Suraev wrote on his blog that the Russian side of the International Space Station houses four icons, a large cross, and the Gospels. A recent post included photos of icons and crucifixes floating in zero gravity.

Relics have been on previous spaceflights -- for example, U.S. astronaut Ronald Garan brought a relic of St. Therese of Lisieux with him on the space shuttle Discovery in 2008.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Possible Miracle for Pius


In 2005 an Italian mother of two who was expecting her third child began manifesting symptoms of Burkitt's lymphoma.

Her husband dutifully prayed to Pope John Paul II for his intercession. The man reported that the late pontiff appeared to him in a dream and said, "I can't do anything, you must pray to this other priest," and then showed him the image of a thin, tall, lean priest. By chance several days later the husband came across the picture of the thin priest in a magazine.

It was the image of Pope Pius XII.

The husband bombarded Pius XII with prayers for his wife's healing. Following her very first treatments she was declared free of the cancer -- the tumor had disappeared. In fact, she was cured so quickly that her doctors pondered the notion that they may have originally misdiagnosed the pathology.

The matter is under investigation by a diocesan Tribunal.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Passing the Torch

After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the Pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an Ecumenical Council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the Pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The Pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith…

— Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), The Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Campion Betrayed Again

Yesterday the Jesuit journal America made the announcement below. Edmund Campion is a saint in Heaven now and incapable of experiencing sorrow, but those of us still below in the Church Militant are grieved by this betrayal of the legacy of one of our heroes.

The Editorial Board of America is proud to announce that The Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, is the 2009 recipient of the Campion Award. The award is given on a regular basis to a noted Christian person of letters. It is named after St. Edmund Campion, S.J...

A martyr of the English Reformation, Edmund Campion stirred Elizabethan England with his daring missionary efforts and the great power of his pen. His “Brag” in defense of his faith has become a classic. He was known for his faith, chivalry and unusual literary talent—qualities shared by the Archbishop Williams...


Campion's Challenge to the Privy Council
aka Campion's Brag

To the Right Honourable, the Lords of Her Majesty's Privy Council:

Whereas I have come out of Germany and Bohemia, being sent by my superiors, and adventured myself into this noble realm, my dear country, for the glory of God and benefit of souls, I thought it like enough that, in this busy, watchful, and suspicious world, I should either sooner or later be intercepted and stopped of my course.

Wherefore, providing for all events, and uncertain what may become of me, when God shall haply deliver my body into durance, I supposed it needful to put this in writing in a readiness, desiring your good lordships to give it your reading, for to know my cause. This doing, I trust I shall ease you of some labour. For that which otherwise you must have sought for by practice of wit, I do now lay into your hands by plain confession. And to the intent that the whole matter may be conceived in order, and so the better both understood and remembered, I make thereof these nine points or articles, directly, truly and resolutely opening my full enterprise and purpose.

i. I confess that I am (albeit unworthy) a priest of the Catholic Church, and through the great mercy of God vowed now these eight years into the religion [religious order] of the Society of Jesus. Hereby I have taken upon me a special kind of warfare under the banner of obedience, and also resigned all my interest or possibility of wealth, honour, pleasure, and other worldly felicity.

ii. At the voice of our General, which is to me a warrant from heaven and oracle of Christ, I took my voyage from Prague to Rome (where our General Father is always resident) and from Rome to England, as I might and would have done joyously into any part of Christendom or Heatheness, had I been thereto assigned.

iii. My charge is, of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors—in brief, to cry alarm spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many of my dear countrymen are abused.

iv. I never had mind, and am strictly forbidden by our Father that sent me, to deal in any respect with matter of state or policy of this realm, as things which appertain not to my vocation, and from which I gladly restrain and sequester my thoughts.

v. I do ask, to the glory of God, with all humility, and under your correction, three sorts of indifferent and quiet audiences: the first, before your Honours, wherein I will discourse of religion, so far as it toucheth the common weal and your nobilities: the second, whereof I make more account, before the Doctors and Masters and chosen men of both universities, wherein I undertake to avow the faith of our Catholic Church by proofs innumerable—Scriptures, councils, Fathers, history, natural and moral reasons: the third, before the lawyers, spiritual and temporal, wherein I will justify the said faith by the common wisdom of the laws standing yet in force and practice.

vi. I would be loath to speak anything that might sound of any insolent brag or challenge, especially being now as a dead man to this world and willing to put my head under every man's foot, and to kiss the ground they tread upon. Yet I have such courage in avouching the majesty of Jesus my King, and such affiance in his gracious favour, and such assurance in my quarrel, and my evidence so impregnable, and because I know perfectly that no one Protestant, nor all the Protestants living, nor any sect of our adversaries (howsoever they face men down in pulpits, and overrule us in their kingdom of grammarians and unlearned ears) can maintain their doctrine in disputation. I am to sue most humbly and instantly for combat with all and every of them, and the most principal that may be found: protesting that in this trial the better furnished they come, the better welcome they shall be.

vii. And because it hath pleased God to enrich the Queen my Sovereign Lady with notable gifts of nature, learning, and princely education, I do verily trust that if her Highness would vouchsafe her royal person and good attention to such a conference as, in the second part of my fifth article I have motioned, or to a few sermons, which in her or your hearing I am to utter such manifest and fair light by good method and plain dealing may be cast upon these controversies, that possibly her zeal of truth and love of her people shall incline her noble Grace to disfavour some proceedings hurtful to the realm, and procure towards us oppressed more equity.

viii. Moreover I doubt not but you, her Highness' Council, being of such wisdom and discreet in cases most important, when you shall have heard these questions of religion opened faithfully, which many times by our adversaries are huddled up and confounded, will see upon what substantial grounds our Catholic Faith is builded, how feeble that side is which by sway of the time prevaileth against us, and so at last for your own souls, and for many thousand souls that depend upon your government, will discountenance error when it is bewrayed [revealed], and hearken to those who would spend the best blood in their bodies for your salvation. Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.

ix. If these my offers be refused, and my endeavours can take no place, and I, having run thousands of miles to do you good, shall be rewarded with rigour. I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almighty God, the Searcher of Hearts, who send us his grace, and see us at accord before the day of payment, to the end we may at last be friends in heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dissent from the Dissent?


The Wall Street Journal published a Charlotte Allen op-ed today titled "As the Flame of Catholic Dissent Dies Out."

The key point of the column is that as the dissidents who inflicted fratricidal revolution on the Catholic Church starting in the 1960s die out, no new iconoclasts are stepping in to fill their shoes.

Perhaps when enough of those who are committed to the "reform" visited on us by individuals who indulged in unmitigated hubris, willful deceit, and/or unthinking rage are out of the picture, the business of cleaning up the awful mess they caused can be properly carried out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Give It Up Death!

Peter Mayhew is the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies -- at 7'3" he said that all he had to do to win the part was stand up at the audition.

Chewie's alter ego still puts in appearances at Star Wars conventions, along with other Men Behind the Mask:
David Prowse / Darth Vader
* Kenny Baker / R2D2
* Jeremy Bulloch / Boba Fett

Back in high school I spent not a little time at the sci-fi/fantasy gaming conventions where these chaps still put in appearances -- it was part of my formation in things Tolkien. Just as gun collectors and automobile aficionados have their shows, readers of science fiction and fantasy, Star Wars and Star Trek geeks, and comic book fans and the like have their regular gatherings.

Last weekend a group of us gathered for Dave's birthday party -- he's a fandom cohort I've known since the early 1980s. Over dinner Paul, one of the other party attendees, related this account of one of Dave's con appearances.

About 12 years back Dave and Paul attended
Chattacon a few hours north of Atlanta. Like many fans of the various genres represented at the con, Dave went in costume: rather than imitate Chewbacca or Darth Vader, Dave struck out on his own and donned a long dark robe with an over-sized hood -- witnesses said it had a Grim Reaper aspect to it -- and meandered about, sans scythe but briefcase in hand.

Dave at Chattacon
One common activity at these conventions is buying works of art, either at an artist's booth or at auction. One painting caught Dave's eye, so he sat down in front of the auction room and proceeded to bid. Soon the competition was down to just Dave and another participant in the back of the room. Dave almost pulled it off, but the other bidder came up with an ingenious solution: when she ran short of cash, she borrowed money from her friend, and when that source ran out, she approached other people in the auction room, and eventually she made her way into the hall to ask help from strangers, explaining, "Can you lend me a few bucks? I'm bidding against Death."

Poor Dave was up front and had no idea of what was transpiring in the back of the room, but Paul was well-positioned to see the whole thing. When it became apparent that enough people were willing to spot the second bidder enough cash to win the auction, one daring soul shouted out, "Give it up Death!"

By the time the bidding finished, a painting that had a $70 quick-sale value went for $200. The artist, meanwhile, invited Dave-as-Death to attend all his auctions.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chapel in the News

Last March a county paper published a favorable article about the Atlanta SSPX chapel of St. Michael's -- the reporter was doing a series of stories about local churches in the area. The pastor and one of the parishioners were interviewed.

The article is online here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Missing Months

The company where I work was sold a few months ago. The new owners are a French outfit, and they've expanded our list of company-sponsored days off for 2010 (see below).

You’ll notice that there are gaps in March, April, June, and August. As a step towards a remedy, I added suggested days off that the company could sponsor in red (except for March’s day, which is green for reasons that I trust are obvious).

* New Year’s Day (Friday, January 1)
* Day After New Year’s Day (Monday, January 4)
* Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 18)

* President’s Day (Monday, February 15)

* St. Patrick’s Day (Wednesday, March 17)

* April Fools’ Day (Thursday, April 1)
* Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
(as an extension of AFD) (Thursday, April 22)

* Friday Before Memorial Day (Friday, May 28)
* Memorial Day (Monday, May 31)

* Flag Day (Monday, June 14)
* Summer Solstice (Tuesday, June 22)

* Day Before Independence Day (Friday, July 2)
* Independence Day (Monday, July 5)

* International Beer Day (Thursday, August 5)

* Friday Before Labor Day (Friday, September 3)
* Labor Day (Monday, September 6)

* Columbus Day (Monday, October 11)

* Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 25)
* Day After Thanksgiving (Friday, November 26)

* Christmas Eve (observed Thursday, December 23)
* Christmas Day (observed, Friday, December 24)
* New Year’s Eve (Friday, December 31)

I circulated these at the office, and received a few responses.

Will offered these:
* St. George’s Day (Friday, April 23rd) – rationale: cause the Irish can’t have all the fun
* Bastille Day (Wednesday, July 14th) – rationale: we are now owned by French company
* International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sunday, Sept 19th)

St. George led a fascinating life (thus his honorific of saint). He may have actually spent time in England too as a Roman officer. He was in the news a few years back because some Englanders thought they wanted a more contemporary figure, but the old patron weathered that storm.

July and September already have days; the exercise was to fill the gaps. Thus, Bastille Day is overkill (that seems an appropriate adjective for Robespierre’s handiwork), and though I’m sympathetic to Talk Like a Pirate Day, I suspect that if it were submitted it would be obliged to walk the plank.

Rebecca added a few as well:
* Public Sleeping Day (Sunday, February 28)
* Clean Up Your Room Day (Monday, May 10)
* National Relaxation Day (Sunday, August 15)
* Start Your Own Country Day (Monday, November 22)

I especially like this last one, and I already have my political campaign slogan in place: “To make the world safe for feudalism.” I already noted the benefits of such a system here. Think about it: bureaucratic red tape counts for nothing against the arbitrary decisions of an enlightened monarch.

All I ask is an open mind.

What are your ideas for days off?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

12th Day of Christmas

Feast of the Epiphany

From a sermon by Pope Saint Leo:

Dearly beloved, rejoice in the Lord; and again I say, rejoice. Only a few days are past since the Solemnity of Christ's Nativity, and now the glorious light of the Epiphany is breaking upon us. On that day the Virgin brought him forth, and on this he was made known to the world. For the Word-made-Flesh was pleased to reveal himself by degrees to those unto whom he had come. When Jesus was born, he was first manifested to the believing, but hidden from his enemies. However, the heavens declared the glory of God and their sound went out into all lands, namely, when the herald-Angels appeared to tell the shepherds the glad tidings of a Saviour's birth. And now the guiding star leadeth the Wise Men to worship him, that from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down thereof, the birth of the true King may be known abroad; that through those Wise Men the kingdoms of the East might learn the great truth, and the Roman empire remain no more in darkness.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.
R. Arise and shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, * And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
V. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Dearly beloved, we recognize in these Wise Men, who came to worship Christ, the first-fruits of that dispensation to the Gentiles wherein we also are called and enlightened. Let us then keep this Feast with grateful hearts, in thanksgiving for our blessed hope, the dawn of which we do commemorate on this day. From the worship paid to the new-born Christ is to be dated the entry of us Gentiles upon our heirship of God and joint-heirship with Christ. Since that joyful day the Scriptures which testify of Christ have lain open for us as well as for the Jews. Whose blindness rejected that Truth which, since that day, hath shed his bright beams upon all nations. Let us then honour this most sacred day, whereon the Author of our salvation was made manifest. As the Wise Men fell down and worshipped him in the manger, so let us fall down and worship him, enthroned omnipotent in heaven. As they opened their treasures and presented unto him mystic and symbolic gifts, so let us strive to open our hearts to him, and offer him from thence some worthy offering.

Thanks to Renel for the article.

Today mom also celebrates the anniversary of her 29th birthday. Happy Birthday mom!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Expectorate Elsewhere


The Jerusalem Post published a December 30 statement from the Orthodox Jewish tribunal of Beth Din Tzedek, who asked Jerusalem's Orthodox community to quit spitting on Christian clergy in the Holy City.

The statement read in part, "Provoking forbidden and is liable to bring tragic consequences upon our own community...we hereby call upon anyone who has the power to end these shameful incidents through persuasion, to take action as soon as possible to remove these hazards, so that our community may live in peace."

Aside from being gross, spitting in this instance is an act of contempt that is akin to cursing at a person. As such, it is a violation of the Second Commandment, which specifically prohibits taking the Lord's name in vain, but by extension also covers taking rash oaths and cursing people, places, and things.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Church Architecture

Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Moyra Doorly is an English architect, journalist, and writer who authored No Place for God: The Denial of the Transcendent in Modern Church Architecture. She also started the Ouch! Campaign (Outcry against Ugly Churches) to fight back against iconoclastic trends that make for the ruination of sacred places.

Here's an excerpt: "The modern age has witnessed the construction of the most banal and uninspiring churches in history. The attempt to create a church architecture that would meet the needs of the age has resulted in churches that are unfit for any age. Contemporary church buildings, as well as being the ugliest ever built, are also the emptiest...Many commentators have noted with regret the elimination of mystery, awe, and reverence from the contemporary Church and her liturgy. Just as regrettable, surely, is the impulse toward self-worship that has declared the contemporary church building to be 'no place for God'."

Noting the similarities between her observations and experiences as an architect working with sacred buildings and the same liberalizing ugliness that has gone on in the Catholic liturgy, the past several months Moyra has been part of a public discussion with theologian
Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P. in which she asks him to elaborate on whether the SSPX has been correct after all.

The exchange is worth reading; it is being published online in the Catholic Herald.

Letter from a confused Catholic: Could the liturgical crisis stem from the Council itself?
- Moyra Doorly (July 3, 2009)

Reply a confused Catholic: The contrasts you draw are unnecessarily sharp
- Fr. Aidan Nichols (July 3, 2009)

Is the SSPX right about the liturgy?
- Moyra Doorly and Fr. Aidan Nichols (October 30, 2009)

We remain the Church of Tradition
- Moyra Doorly and Fr. Aidan Nichols (December 25, 2009)

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 and Beyond

Feast of the Circumcision

For 2010, my general resolution is to sincerely sacrifice myself to God and dedicate myself to a devout life. Specifically, it is to faithfully maintain the
Rule of the Third Order of the Society of St. Pius X, including making a retreat.

To get it going right, here's something on the subject from a Doctor of the Church, the Genevan Bishop
St. Francis de Sales.

St. Francis de Sales

As soon as worldly people see that you wish to follow a devout life they aim a thousand darts of mockery and even detraction at you. The most malicious of them will slander your conversion as hypocrisy, bigotry, and trickery...

All this is mere foolish, empty babbling. These people aren't interested in your health or welfare. "If you were of the world, the world would love what is its own but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you," says the Savior. We have seen gentlemen and ladies spend the whole night, even many nights one after another, playing chess or cards. Is there any concentration more absurd, gloomy, or depressing than this last? Yet worldly people don't say a word and the players' friends don't bother their heads about it.

If we spend an hour in meditation or get up a little earlier than usual in the morning to prepare for Holy Communion, everyone runs for a doctor to cure us of hypochondria and jaundice. People can pass thirty nights in dancing and no one complains about it, but if they watch through a single Christmas night they cough and claim their stomach is upset the next morning. Does anyone fail to see that the world is an unjust judge, gracious and well disposed to its own children but harsh and rigorous towards the children of God?

We can never please the world unless we lose ourselves together with it. It is so demanding that it can't be satisfied. "John came neither eating nor drinking," says the Savior, and you say, "He has a devil....The Son of man came eating and drinking and you say that he is a Samaritan."

It is true that if we are ready to laugh, play cards, or dance with the world in order to please it, it will be scandalized at us, and if we don't, it will accuse us of hypocrisy or melancholy. If we dress well, it will attribute it to some plan we have, and if we neglect our dress, it will accuse of us of being cheap and stingy. Good humor will be called frivolity and mortification sullenness. Thus the world looks at us with an evil eye and we can never please it. It exaggerates our imperfections and claims they are sins, turns our venial sins into mortal sins and changes our sins of weakness into sins of malice.

"Charity is kind," says Saint Paul, but the world on the contrary is evil. "Charity thinks no evil," but the world always thinks evil and when it can't condemn our acts it will condemn our intentions. Whether the sheep have horns or not and whether they are white or black, the wolf doesn't hesitate to eat them if he can.

Whatever we do, the world will wage war on us. If we stay a long time in the confessional, it will wonder how we can have so much to say; if we stay only a short time, it will say we haven't told everything. It will watch all our actions and at a single little angry word it will protest that we can't get along with anyone. To take care of our own interests will look like avarice, while meekness will look like folly. As for the children of the world, their anger is called being blunt, their avarice economy, their intimate conversations lawful discussions. Spiders always spoil the good work of the bees.

Let us give up this blind world. Let it cry out at us as long as it pleases, like a cat that cries out to frighten birds in the daytime. Let us be firm in our purposes and unswerving in our resolutions. Perseverance will prove whether we have sincerely sacrificed ourselves to God and dedicated ourselves to a devout life. Comets and planets seem to have just about the same light, but comets are merely fiery masses that pass by and after a while disappear, while planets remain perpetually bright. So also hypocrisy and true virtue have a close resemblance in outward appearance but they can be easily distinguished from one another.

Hypocrisy cannot last long but is quickly dissipated like rising smoke, whereas true virtue is always firm and constant. It is no little assistance for a sure start in devotion if we first suffer criticism and calumny because of it. In this way we escape the danger of pride and vanity, which are comparable to the Egyptian midwives whom a cruel Pharaoh had ordered to kill the Israelites' male children on the very day of their birth. We are crucified to the world and the world must be crucified to us. The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad.

- St. Francis de Sales, excerpted from Introduction to the Devout Life