Monday, March 28, 2011

Uglified Utterances

Over the weekend the office was reconfigured and desks were reassigned. The goal was to modify the seating arrangements to make for a more efficient use of space.

This morning one colleague sitting near me asked if I was going to be able to tolerate working among so many foul-mouthed people. She described herself as a "potty-mouth" (her term) and rattled off the names of a few other people in the vicinity who are known for using earthy language.

The irony here is that this was a response to my reputation for not using obscenities. Abstaining from naughtiness is my crime; not once have I been involved in an ugly exchange where I put a finger in the face of these particular individuals for their scurrility. The potty-mouth phenomenon is common even in professional places of employment these days, so I stand out by virtue of never indulging. I work with people who earn their living as consultants whose job it is to be aware of what others want and need, and they've generally picked up on the fact that I don't share their language or laugh at their ribald jokes; as a rule they usually refrain when I am present. It helps that I have a reputation for doing good work and being a team player. They normally like my jokes too.

This isn't to say that I've never corrected anyone. I was the chap who said that the use of certain repugnant word is comparable to the use of a certain racial epithet. I'm even prepared to back up the comparison if put to the test. A few more harassing remarks like the one I received this morning, in fact, and that might just come to pass.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Marriage Revisited

What worked for the ordinary form of the Mass will work for Marriage too

An interview with His Eminence, Cardinal Altus Malum, Secretary for the Conciliar Reform of the Institution of Marriage

Maps, Keys, and Clocks
wishes to express its thanks to the Office of Reform of the Institution of Marriage for allowing this transcript to be printed.

MAPS, KEYS, AND CLOCKS: Your Eminence, thank you for granting this interview.

CARDINAL ALTUS MALUM: I was gratified to accept your invitation. The reforms of the Office require careful explanation to be correctly understood and implemented.

MKC: I am certain that is so. Updating the form of a Sacrament must be a great challenge. Do you find it so?

CAM: Indeed, very much so. There are quite a great many old notions covering the topic that must be swept away like so much dust. But it is all part of the duty of the cleaning that comes with the new springtime. We live in a brave new world of progress and improvement, and the journey forward requires we make way for the exciting possibilities of tomorrow.

MKC: I would think that would make for very engaging work. And those who do it must be erudite individuals.

CAM: That adjective is indicative of a non-strategic mindset; we prefer to say “informed.” And to be informed requires that one be aware of the latest trends and developments so as to ride the whirlwind and direct the storm. It is a dynamic time in which to live.

MKC: How do you approach the task, Your Eminence? How is a Sacrament of the Church updated?

CAM: As a preliminary, remember that authority is based in consensus. With so many people in the world today who are informed and educated and capable of holding their own opinions, there is no longer a need to rely on an autocrat to tell them what to think and say and do. My colleagues and I seek to manifest that simple truth in the activities associated with the new rite of marriage.

MKC: I notice you said “activities” and not “rituals.”

CAM: It is pleasing to see that you noticed the distinction. This change of language is key to the program of reform. Actions follow our thoughts, and a new way of living follows from a new way of thinking. For instance, you will recall that in the old form of marriage, the couple being wed actually stood at the front of the Church with their backs to the audience. This example more than any other reinforced the passé notion of a top-down order to the events, one that relegated onlookers to a non-participatory and secondary role.

MKC: Perhaps the “audience” might have said that they thought it proper that the couple being married was placed in a position and posture of prominence, what with it being their wedding day and the reason everyone had gathered.

CAM: If they’d been taught to blindly accept what they were told, then they might have said as much, of course. And here you have demonstrated well one of the endemic challenges of the sophomoric mindset that my Office is attempting to correct. What matters here is conformity with the new and popular way of looking at things. Uncritical adherence to outmoded mental constructs stands in the way of the new freedoms that await those who are eager and bold enough to seek them.

MKC: I have no desire to seem sophomoric, but please pardon the candor of my next question. You have said that you place chief emphasis on conformity to contemporary modes of thought and expression, but it would also appear that you fault people like myself as being sophomoric for our adherence to a previous mode. Is there a contradiction?

CAM: To answer your question, young grasshopper, let me put a question to you. By people, do you mean only the plebeian crowd, or do you mean the phenomenon of fully actualized men who recognize the organized complexity towards which the universe is evolving?

MKC: Two standards, to be sure, and your Eminence demonstrates insight by distinguishing between them. Please allow me this follow-up question: how can you maintain that you represent a popular outlook on the issues of the day before your ideas have become popular among the plebeian crowd?

CAM: It is a source of great anguish that my Office attempts to generously aid and help people who are incapable of truly appreciating what is being done for them! We are misunderstood and maligned by reactionary conformists and integrists; they cannot grasp the sublimity of what we are about. But we move forward anyway, knowing what is best for them, educating them about the benefits they will receive if they quietly trust their leaders, ostracizing and quarantining the few obstinate and opinionated recalcitrants.

MKC: That’s a grave responsibility to take on, don’t you think, Your Eminence?

CAM: If Providence had not intended the people to yield to the direction of their shepherds, He would not have likened them to sheep, no?

MKC: So you are critical of a top-down order when it comes to the old rituals, and yet you insist that the laity do as they are told when it comes to the new activities. Is this not a contradiction?

CAM: No, I think not. The men of the old hierarchy were conformist autocrats. Our Office, however, is enlightened and beneficent.

MKC: To the uninformed this might seem like an arbitrary distinction. How do you safeguard against the possibility of corruption?

CAM: Your meaning is unclear. The vast majority of the Church’s bishops support or tolerate the new agenda. Where is the possibility of corruption?

MKC: I crave your pardon, Your Eminence, but is there not at least a risk of corruption in any merely human endeavor? And with the new ideas subject to constant refinement and change based on current trends in thought that are often at odds what the historical Catholic Faith, is there not a risk that the ideas themselves are not worthy of fidelity? Is there not at least the possibility that without reference to an external objective measure, people are merely reinforcing one another in a self-indulgent delusion so as to avoid being labeled obstinate and recalcitrant by their peers?

CAM: Indulgent? Yes, I see you are still indulging in the old way of thinking. Even if there were such a thing as an external objective measure, how could our limited subjective minds ever comprehend or even approach it? Your concept is improbable. And as long as the people who still attend church sit docile and content in the pews and make no great fuss, how likely is it that there is corruption? A moment ago I thought you showed promise, but now I see that you still do not understand the evolving ways of our Office. How distasteful and sad.

MKC: But I think I begin to understand more of it now. Allow me to return to a matter you mentioned earlier, when you said it was undesirable for the wedding couple to stand with its back to the audience. What is the desirable alternative?

CAM: A wedding is a public and corporate act, and the structure of the events should reflect this. In the new order of activities, the couple sits on a comfortable couch and faces the audience. In this way two life partners invite the entire community to be witness to their public profession of love.

MKC: How is this couch situated? Does it rest at the end of the aisle?

CAM: Oh of course not, it takes the place of the altar. This necessitated the invention of a new type of altar on wheels – progress once again! – that can be readily moved out of the way at need for the new wedding ceremony.

MKC: An altar on wheels?

CAM: One enterprising parish actually built a sofa into the back of its altar, so that instead of wheeling the altar offstage, they would just spin it around.

MKC: That must have been quite a memorable sight. And so from this sofa the couple pronounces its wedding vows?

CAM: Not at all! We have dispensed with vows and other medieval eccentricities. No, the couple makes a public profession of their love and affection in a form that best suits their personalities and cultural heritage, or lack thereof. We leave it to the artistic spirit of each couple, but we encourage unique and heart-felt expressions of their mutual regard. For example, one groom whose ancestry included indigenous peoples crafted a papier-mâché cow head filled with candy that he broke open with a broomstick to signify the sweet life he and his partner would have together.

MKC: I recall hearing about that wedding – the blindfolded groom lost his grip on the stick and nearly hit the bride in the head.

CAM: I say, that is too bad! You mustn’t focus on the insignificant transitory aspects! The important consideration is that he was acting in an original way that was true to his heart and to his character. That was the beauty of the moment! The young woman was unhurt – in fact, when her turn came, she played a recording of herself reciting a poem of her own invention:

The poor little clown-

The one with a frown:

What he thought was a hat

Was really a cat.

Yes, you’re better off dead

Than with a cat on your head!

MKC: She actually had that played in public?

CAM: Indeed! It was a private joke between the two of them, and making it public helped turn the event into a truly personal and memorable one. A wedding should be a celebration, one that everyone will remember with fondness and talk about to the end of their days. Is it not so in your view?

The reporter dropped his pen at this point. After he somewhat regained his composure, the interview continued.

MKC: Forgive me. Now, after the couple makes a mutual exchange of their…personal creations…what comes next?

CAM: Then, my young fellow, the audience is invited to introduce their own contributions. It is all part of the communal aspect of the day, you see. Naturally, we encourage creativity and spontaneity. Remarks, toasts, testimonials, gifts, reminders, taunts, all that and more.

MKC: Um…fifty years from now, suppose a man wanted to try a marriage as you’ve described today as a way of manifesting an appreciation for his own cultural heritage. What do you envision would be said to him?

CAM: In that time the changes would have been further modified in ways we could never begin to imagine just now. If a nostalgic fellow were to inquire about the wedding activities you and I know today, someone would point out that nobody else is asking for them and tell him he should quit wasting everyone’s time. And speaking of time, I am afraid ours has run its course.

MKC: Thank you, Your Eminence.

CAM: Naturally.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Marxists With Rosaries


Below is the review I wrote recently on for The Catholic Worker Movement (1933-1980): A Critical Analysis.

If you're interested in the subject of Catholic views of economics, then avoid anything coming from Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, or the CWM. What a horrible mess those people made!


"The Catholic Worker Movement (1933-1980): A Critical Analysis" by Carol Byrne is a well-researched analysis of the writings and activities of the two founders of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.

I approached the book with the understanding that Day was a dupe for the Communists -- and it was a role she didn't particularly mind playing: she struck me as a mole with one good eye. She misidentified the source of many of the world's woes (liberal capitalism with its materialism yes, but not original sin, which would have implicated herself and her comrades as well) and so adopted incorrect remedies (liberation theology; agrarian reform; bolshevism -- materialist creeds all, a fact that she managed to reliably overlook in her efforts to overthrow capitalism). I gave Day credit for intending well, but not for having the wherewithal to completely overcome her radical Communist past. I read Byrne's offering to see how well that postulate held up under closer scrutiny.

The author provides numerous examples that illustrate how the truth was far sadder than I suspected. Byrne thoroughly demonstrates that Day maintained a radicalism steeped in Marxist thought: she was a Communist who became a Catholic, but rather than repudiate her old erroneous ideas, she set about to create a synthesis between the two contradictory creeds. It was an oil and water mix steeped in false pretenses, one in which the Catholic element lost out almost every time to Marxist angst.

To wit, Day and Maurin:
* were nurtured on a Socialist ideology,
* campaigned with active Communists and their travelers,
* unfailingly supported Communist teachings and activities,
* attended conferences organized by Communists in the USSR,
* promoted Communist writings and propaganda,
* advocated worker strikes that were started by Communist-infiltrated unions,
* denigrated cash given by capitalists but accepted it willingly from socialists,
* defended the use of violence and class warfare to achieve joint ownership of property and the forcible redistribution of wealth,
* maintained a posture of hatred for Western democracy and admiration for Leninist and Stalinist totalitarianism,
* weakened the West in its defense against Communist aggression in the name of pacifism,
* praised Garibaldi in Italy, Castro in Cuba, and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam -- men who used armed force to brutalize and murder their enemies,
* refused guidance from orthodox Catholic clerics, and
* re-interpreted the Gospels and papal encyclicals to support their radicalism.

Hats off to Carol Byrne for providing the documentation needed to provide the correct context and background for a more complete understanding of the CWM.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Prayer for a Humble Servant

Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Prayer for the Canonization of His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

O Jesus, Eternal High Priest, who deigned to elevate Thy faithful servant Marcel Lefebvre to the episcopal dignity and to grant him the grace of being a fearless defender of the Holy Mass, of the Catholic Priesthood, of Thy Holy Church, and of the Holy See, of being a courageous apostle of Thy Kingdom on earth, of being a devoted servant of Thy holy Mother, and of being a shining example of charity, of humility and of all virtues; bestow upon us now, by his merits, the graces we beseech of Thee, so that, assured of his powerful intercession to Thee, we may one day see him elevated to the glory of the altar. Amen.

After Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, 11/29/05 - 3/25/91

Tolkien Reading Day

Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Since 2003, March 25 has been the Tolkien Society's Tolkien Reading Day.

Read more here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guidance on Charitable Giving

Guidance on Charitable Giving
From the Bishops of North Dakota

Catholics are compelled by the Gospel to responsibly promote the protection of human life, families, and the common good. We applaud the charitable giving and social justice efforts of our parishes, Catholic schools, and individuals. At the same time, we urge attentiveness to the possibility of endorsing an organization whose mission or affiliation may be morally objectionable or, at least, questionable. We call upon pastors, clergy, and the lay faithful to use guidelines based on the virtue of prudence and justice when making charitable giving decisions.

Church teaching: All human life is sacred and must be protected. This is why we should not support or endorse individuals and organizations that provide, promote, or advocate for abortion, contraception, “reproductive rights/ family planning,” or embryonic stem cell research. Marriage, a lifelong partnership between a man and a woman, is the foundation of the family and, therefore, essential to the common good. Accordingly, we should not support individuals and organizations that seek to redefine marriage or whose activities devalue its importance.

Guidelines: When evaluating the appropriateness of participating in, publicizing, or otherwise providing support to a fundraising effort, Catholic entities should consider whether the mission and activities of the organization are consistent with Catholic teaching, particularly as it pertains to human life and marriage. Church facilities should not be used to promote, endorse, or fundraise for such organizations if their policies are contrary to Church teaching.

We take this opportunity to mention certain organizations that Catholic entities should not support.

American Association of University Women: AAUW's stated mission is to advance “equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research” and often provides local scholarships with money raised through book fairs. AAUW, however, strongly supports abortion rights and same-sex “marriage,” and opposes parental choice in education.

Amnesty International: In 2007, Amnesty International abandoned its neutral stance on abortion and adopted a pro-abortion position.

Crop Walk/Church World Service: CROP Walk, an annual hunger awareness and fundraising effort that benefits many local food pantries, is sponsored by Church World Service (CWS), an agency of the National Council of Churches. Catholic Relief Services withdrew its name from the list of funding recipients since some of the partners of CWS support the provision of contraceptives in their overseas missions and programs and CRS could not guarantee that donations, particularly Catholic donors who have earmarked their contribution to those efforts consistent with Church teaching, would not be utilized for objectionable services.

March of Dimes: The March of Dimes' focus is the prevention of birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. March of Dimes, however, also supports embryonic stem cell research, preimplantation diagnosis for untreatable conditions, and mandatory contraceptive coverage for insurance plans.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure: This anti-breast cancer organization is known for its “Race for the Cure” fundraising activities (not to be confused with “Relay for Life.”) Money raised at these events has gone to Planned Parenthood and the organization refuses to acknowledge the link between abortion and breast cancer.

UNICEF: The Holy See suspended an annual symbolic contribution in 1996 due to the “shift in UNICEF activities” that were once solely focused on child welfare but now includes contraceptive and abortion services.

†Most Rev. Paul A. Zipfel
Bishop of Bismarck

†Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila
Bishop of Fargo

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SSPX mission in India

The French SSPX web site LaPorteLatine produced this video about the SSPX mission in Palayamkottai, India.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fibonacci Numbers

Leonardo da Pisa was an interesting chap. He also gets credit for introducing Indian-Arabic numerals to the west. Up until then, Roman numerals were in common use, and it was painfully difficult to do advanced algebraic calculations with the Roman system (it makes the marvels of Roman angineering and science all that more impressive!).

The Fibonacci numbers are fascinating as well. Plenty of smart folks have pointed out that with such a frequently recurring pattern in so many unrelated places throghout the universe, to say that all of it happened randomly or through chance is simply too great of an improbability; that the universe is the deliberate work of an great intelligence is the better explanation than a long series of evolutainary accidents.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Holy Family Update

In this post I sent out an appeal on behalf of the Holy Family assisted living facility in Idaho. Sad to say, the facility was not able to raise the needed funds, and is closing effective April 1.

Please pray that the residents who were living there are able to find accommodations elsewhere in a timely manner. And pray our Lord and Lady bless the dedicated workers who in their charity did what they could to care for the elderly.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Mary's Jog-a-Thon

The students of St. Mary's Academy in St. Marys, Kansas is conducting a jog-a-thon fund-raiser. The school needs new roofs, alarm systems, and other safety improvements.

This year's jog-a-thon will be in mid-April. Each lap is 1/4 mile. Students have one hour to run or walk. Students average 8-15 laps walking and 25-35 laps running.

You can donate a Pledge Per Lap from $0.25 to any amount, and the school will send you a card with your total pledge results. Or contribute a one-time donation now.

Contributions will be used for repairs and remodeling of several buildings, as well as other grounds upkeep and improvement requirements on our beautiful historic campus.

Send donations to:
St. Mary's Academy and College
P.O. Box 159
St. Marys, KS 66536

Or donate online at and please specify our names when donating in either fashion.

Thank you and may God bless you for your donation.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wrong Number

Today during my lunch hour I called Luis from my cell phone to discuss the upcoming pilgrimage in June to Austria and Switzerland -- a trip that culminates at the SSPX seminary in Econe for ordinations.

Luis has help in his business from his wife and two daughters. When I phoned, instead of reaching Luis, I heard the voice of a young woman.

"Hi!" she said. Ah, she must have recognized my number on caller ID.

"Hi," I replied. "I've been playing phone tag with your father. We keep leaving each other messages, but so far we haven't been able to connect."

"With my father?" she asked.

Her tone caused me to raise an eyebrow. Had I mistakenly called one of Luis' daughters directly?

"That's right, we've both been so busy, we keep missing each other."

"Sean, do you know who this is?" she asked.

"Yes, this is Christina."

"No Sean, this is Kat."

My mind took a moment to process this, and then I put it together. Kat is a colleague from my company's Arlington office. It turned out that I'd recorded her phone number on my cell but mistakenly assigned it to Luis.

"Oh, hi Kat" I said. She laughed. We had fun with that one for a minute, did some quick catching up, and then went back to our normal routines.

Later I chuckled over what could have happened if I'd made the mistake with one of these numbers stored in my phone:
* boss
* dentist, physician
* parish priest
* insurance agent
* car dealership
* local hospital
* local police officer contact
* any number of business clients

What a mess I could have made!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

One More Eagle

Today young Everett was formally recognized as an Eagle Scout. I was able to attend the Boy Scout ceremony in picturesque Helen, GA.

As a lad I'd made it to the rank of a Cub Scout WeBeLoS myself -- received my Arrow of Light, earned a gold and four silver arrows as a Wolf and again as a Bear. By then my own interests had turned more towards sports, especially soccer, but I still have happy memories of my scouting years.

A few years ago Everett asked me to be his sponsor for his Confirmation, which I was glad to do.

Congratulations to Everett for twelve years of persistence and hard work.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

SSPX Clerics: Never Suspended, Never Excommunicated

An anonymous contributor left a message this evening that after the decree of excommunication of the SSPX bishops was retracted by Rome, said bishops "became the same as that of the other clergy of the Society, who are suspended a divinis."

In fact, the clerics of the SSPX have never been suspended or excommunicated.

On July 1, 1976 -- following the ordinations of June 29 by Abp. Lefebvre -- Cardinal Villot and Archbishop Banelli attempted to follow through on a threat to suspend the SSPX.

Upon examination of the legality of this action, it became apparent that the proceedings were entirely irregular and not canonical (i.e., not lawful), had no foundation in law or precedence, and therefore had no validity. Rather, it was simply two liberal clerics acting beyond their authority or competency to illicitly thwart the continuation of the traditional practice of the Faith.

Rome's subsequent actions tacitly confirmed this assessment.

* December 1987: Cardinal Gagnon attended as a prelate the Pontifical Mass of a non-suspended Abp. Lefebvre.

* May 1988: Cardinal Ratzinger agreed to the principle of having a bishop consecrated from among the Society’s priests.

* 2001-02: At the behest of Pope John Paul I, Cardinal Castrillion-Hoyos of the Ecclesia Dei Commission conducted negotiations with Bp. Fellay in full recognition of the latter's non-suspended status.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent Begins

Ash Wednesday

Ashes will be administered today at morning Mass, after which yours truly will show up at work and be subject to remarks about how he has a smudge on his forehead. The obtuse and uninformed will mean it kindly, the mischievous and the anti-clerical will intend a slight of some sort, and all will be the beneficiary of a brief catechism lesson. Deus vult!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Heart of the West


this post I listed a number of outstanding individuals of science and medicine who were also solid -- and in many cases canonized -- Catholics. A key point of the essay was that the Catholic Church has historically been an exemplary sponsor of the sciences. Objectors that say the way the Galileo affair was handled illustrates an inherent hostility for science, I empirically demonstrated, ignored mountains of evidence to the contrary. The Galileo affair, it turns out, was a one-off case, an outlier, an exception. Then how do we explain what happened to Galileo, the modern critic of the Church will ask? The answer is that it had far less to do with the science than it did with the personalities. Galileo was an agitator and a polemicist for views that he had not adequately demonstrated scientifically; though many of his observations and some of his conclusions were valid, a number of his proofs and explanations have long-since been refuted scientifically. When the weakness of his explanations were scientifically demonstrated to him, he abused, humiliated, and denigrated his fellow scientists and Churchmen for differing with his genius. In short, Galileo was told to shut up and stay in his country villa not so much for his science as for being a supreme jerk.

But today the Galileo affair is a side-bar. The source link above to the Iona Institute's web site leads to a report coming from modern China: the reason for the West's success, say China's best thinkers, is due to Christianity.

The source is a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:

"One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world.

"We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had.

"Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system.

"But in the past twenty years, we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful.

"The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible...We don’t have any doubt about this."

For the record, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is an instrument of the Chinese Communist government which spends a not inconsiderable amount of time and money persecuting Christians and is officially atheistic.

The speaker, true to his Marxist stripes, attributes the ultimate success of the West to "the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics." Thus, like Galileo, though some of his reasoning is off, his chief conclusion is sound.

From the article: "It has long been accepted that Christianity is one of the core elements of Western civilisation; it is too little understood that it is also one of the secrets of the stunning success of that civilisation."

This success story is the by-product of Christendom. Wherever Catholicism is the Faith of the land and the Social Reign of Christ holds sway, there you see the spread of culture and the rise of civilization. Anything else devolves into barbarism and tyranny.

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Web Site for the Benedictines

The traditional Benedictines in Silver City have a new web site -- see

There's a number of nice photographs of life at the monastery. The place is off the beaten track, way out in the country of the American southwest among mountains and forests.

The Rule of a Benedictine monastery is rooted in the principles of Ora et Labora, which is Latin for "Prayer and Work."

The monks are obliged to be self-supporting through their own work, which includes a range of craftsman's skills from carpentry to leatherworking to bread-making; meanwhile charitable contributions allow them to erect new buildings and the like -- something they need to do, because they have more men wanting to join the monastery than they accommodate!

In addition to the work, they pray, which is what the singing is: each week they sing the Psalms in plainchant, singing a few dozen Psalms each day (with a number of hymns as well). The sung prayers are done at a fixed time each day, which sanctifies the hours of the day; it also commemorates events in the life of Christ: the middle of the night is when Christ was put on trial; in the morning He stood before Pilate; at noon He was nailed to the Cross; at 3PM He expired on the Cross; etc. It's all a life of love undertaken for the honor and glory of the Almighty.

The recent big news at the Monastery was its canonical erection, complete with a formal ceremony involving a Bishop. Essentially this was a kind of promotion for the monastery, where it was formally raised in rank and significance.

You can also poke around through the old newsletters here, and if you're of a mind to you can sign up to receive a copy in the mail.

They also have an online gift shop, which has some pretty neat items:
* books,
* CDs of the monks singing plainchant,
* Crucifixes, Rosaries, and medals,
* handsome pens and stationery paper complete with sealing wax,
* and even satchels.

There's a number of other pages to look at when exploring the site.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Digital Absolution


The title of the article linked to above is "'Confession: A Roman Catholic App' allows iPhone, iPad users to repent for sins on the go." What rubbish.

Here’s my perspective, which is that of someone who designs web sites and mobile applications for a living.

This is yet another item that got sensationalized and distorted by the press. Keep in mind that the titles of news articles are written by editors, while the reporters are the authors of the stories themselves. In this case the title makes an amazing claim -- i.e. "repent for sins on the go" -- that is nonsensical and is actually contradicted by facts presented in the content of the article itself.

The mobile phone application is a tool to help Catholics prepare for Confession. It's a program that serves as a checklist (i.e. review these points for an examination of conscience) and a note-taking device (i.e. store a list of your transgressions on your mobile phone). The Vatican has said that as such it is permissible. Not surprisingly, insufficient care was taken (in my view) to make clear that people cannot receive absolution by using the device. No Catholic who knows his faith would think such a thing was possible, and I suspect it's unlikely that Rome seriously considered the possibility.

Enter the media, who promptly started running news stories about digital absolution using the application (absurd, I know, but the press usually misses the mark when reporting on religious stories). Only after that absurd story started to get traction did the Vatican issue a clarifying statement that no such thing was possible; they've been trying to refute that misunderstanding ever since, with limited success. It doesn't help at all that the press, often enough, doesn't care enough about the Faith or whether they get their facts straight regarding dogma and doctrine; dramatic headlines sell papers. Besides, they might have rationalized, those with any kind of attention span can actually get some of the correct facts by reading the whole story.

In my view the Vatican's approval of the application is ill-advised.
* People who take Confession seriously would already have methods for preparation, and they wouldn't need a digital device like this, so the whole thing is superfluous. I think someone in Rome just wanted to appear trendy and topical.
* Given the lack of consistent security standards in mobile applications and devices right now, I wouldn't ever store information about items I need to confess on a mobile application. There's sufficient uncertainty and unnecessary risk to make using it imprudent.
* Finally, if someone wants to promote an application that helps Catholics make Confessions, that's one thing. By giving approval (whether as endorsement or as a declaration of merely tolerating the tool, I have no idea), the Vatican (whoever that is; it might or might not be the Pope himself) has given the appearance of changing the way the Sacrament of Confession is administered, leading to the risk of confusion and misunderstanding among both Catholics and non-Catholics.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Game


The Game is the annual hockey match between priests (a.k.a. the "Flyin’ Fathers" who play in cassock) of the SSPX and seminarians at Bud King Ice Arena in Winona, MN -- home of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary. It's been going on every year since 1988.

Rivalry? Yes. Trash-talking? No. It's a gentlemanly match, competitive, done for fun and love of the sport.

Click the link above to read the full story.