Saturday, February 16, 2019


The deeper illness is that we have forgotten the sense of mysticism and participation in the transcendent and swapped divine worship for a happy meal, campfire songs and a pep talk. As someone else wittily put it, “We have traded our birthright not for a mess of pottage, but for a pot of message.”
It gets worse I’m afraid. This travesty of worship which passes for the majority of Catholic masses in the USA is the sign of an even deeper disease–a fundamental lack of belief in the transcendental and supernatural aspect of our faith. We are not reverent in God’s house because we don’t really believe he is dwelling there. We do not kneel to receive him because we think our “human dignity” is more important than his divine majesty. We do not truly worship because we have come to believe that the church is just a place to meet our friends and talk about changing the world.
What is the answer? I’m not sure, because in our utilitarian consumerist society the language of sign and symbol of liturgy and drama has largely disappeared.
I sense, however, a return of the human spirit to these fundamental things, and it is in the stirrings of the religious life. I think more and more young men and women will be called to the enclosed life of prayer and from that source will come to the renewal of the imagination that will spark a counteraction.

Sunday, January 20, 2019


O hermit;
Replace the shoulds
of your life

God's love for the world,
through you.

Friday, January 18, 2019

FROM: The Book of Elders

# 15. A brother asked Abba Isaiah. "How does one maintain hesychia in the cell?" The Elder answered, "To maintain hesychia in the cell is to thrust oneself into the presence of God and, to the best of one's ability, to withstand every logismos sowed by the enemy, for that is to flee from the world." The brother said, "What is the world?" and the elder replied, "The is distraction by affairs; the world is to perform what is contrary to nature and to satisfy one's own desires of the flesh; the world is to think that one is remaining in this age; the world is to care for the body rather than the soul and to boast of what you are leaving behind. I did not say this on my own authority; it is the Apostle John who says this: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." [1 John 2:15]

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Enough Already by Anthony Esolen

Let us hear no more from priests, prelates, and Catholic writers dissenting from the truth – from reason, from Scripture, from the constant and clear teaching of the Church in the matter of the creation of mankind male and female, the one-flesh union willed by God from the beginning, the raising of boys to be men and girls to be women, made for one another, the goodness and the reality of sex and its natural expressions in human culture, the created nature of marriage which is as obvious to the old pagan as to the Christian, the inadmissibility of severing the pleasure of the sexual act from its biological aim and its bodily meaning, the indissolubility of marriage, and the warnings by the last several popes, of loneliness and confusion and unhappiness that result from the evil of all kinds of mockery of marriage, including consensual and habitual fornication.
Let us hear no more about softening the sense that acts that violate the structure of the sexes themselves are perverse. Let us have no more ungrateful denigration of genuine masculinity and femininity. Let us see no more of the craven submission to all of the foul lies of mass entertainment and mass education, so that a Catholic school is but a year or two behind the times – the New York Times.
Let us hear no more about pronouns from you priests, prelates, and Catholic writers who perpetrated outrages upon the souls and bodies of young priests and seminarians, and you who covered for them, for reasons best known and kept to yourselves, but for no reason sufficient to excuse you, and to prevent you from doing the honorable thing. If you have a position of authority, and you did nothing, you should resign. You may be replaced. You are not indispensable. Enough already.
Several years ago, the bishop of the Canadian diocese where we live in the summer was caught in a routine check at an airport. He had pornographic images of children in his possession. The Canadian media would not be more specific than that. He had to resign in disgrace, and he did a little bit of time, not much, in prison. He is now, according to word I have from an orthodox priest, living with another man. No surprise to anyone. He had made a habit of flying to peculiar destinations across the world, destinations that had no connection whatever to the ethnic or cultural character of his largely rural diocese. In those places flesh is cheap.
If it is true that he has settled down now to a comfortable elderly life of sin, it is an example not of repentance but of contumacy and defiance. Where is the shame? This diocese was not rife with homosexual priests preying upon adolescent boys, but it had a few, and the parishes, hardly flush with money, have been reduced to penury by the costs of the settlements. He knew that at the time and he knows it still. An elderly lady in our village bequeathed $165,000 to her beloved neighborhood church to keep it open, and the parishioners sweat blood to do work on the building themselves rather than hiring a contractor. All of that money was rifled.
Dancing with Demons by David Rijckaert III
Every single parish was picked clean, and now the diocese has no seminarians, and still there is no shame from the chancery.
I do not pretend that the faithful in the pews are without sin. In part, we have gotten even worse leadership from our shepherds than we deserved, but we did not deserve much. Everyone has been scorched and smudged and smutted up by the sexual devolution. Everyone has made a habit of winking and turning away. No one is blameless. “The Church is a harlot in the stews because I helped put her there” – that is what every Christian ought to say, because it is no more than the truth.
Yet some Christians, some Roman Catholics, have been fighting a thankless fight not only to repent of their wrong but to heal what they have hurt, and rebuild what they have knocked down.
Now it is that we need our shepherds to lead us in that fight, not to check us at every pass, to weigh our spirits down with the smog of their bureaucratic verbiage, and to smile at those in the know and give them the tacit sign that nothing will change. 
I lead no battle against the episcopacy, which was most to blame for the scandals of the last fifteen years and which administered to itself no punishment at all, but instead laid a flattering unction to their collective episcopal souls.
I want to believe in the bishops. I certainly accept the authority of the office. But if you do not want to fight the fight that is before us, you need to get out of the way and let a man who is willing to do it be the general. No more blandness and tea. 
Every single prelate, priest, or Catholic author who knew about the spiritual incest and the creepy perversions of the now disgraced former bishop of the nation’s capital and who did nothing should, for just this once, own up to the failure and leave.
Please, leave. Retire, pray, read, think, do anything at all that the Lord may smile upon, but do not any longer for one moment burden the Church with your dead weight. You are an embarrassment to both believer and infidel. Leave.
Let us give a chance, meanwhile, to the true young men, priests of God who are young enough to be under no illusions about what has happened in the generations before theirs. How could they possibly fare worse than have their never-maturing elders?


Friday, August 3, 2018

What About the Rest of It?

We are angry because bishops, who should be leading the flock rather than roasting them on a spit, winked and smiled at sexual misbehavior in their peers. This is the same kind of thing we ourselves have been doing for a long time now. Every one of us, without exception. It is almost impossible to live in this whatever culture without compromising yourself at every step. You say nothing about fornication, nothing about cohabitation, nothing about divorce, nothing about obscenity, nothing about sins against nature, and nothing about contraception, and you are shocked to find that your bishops are bad, your president is a pig, his opponent was a sow, the entertainers you watch on television grunt and squeal, and the ordinary banter at your middle school is fouler than the graffiti on the wall of a Roman bathhouse.
We may also ask how it is that a man like McCarrick rose to the status of chief boar in the bog. What signal accomplishments of the intellect, what conspicuous acts of holiness, or what merely worldly successes in building up institutions qualified him to rise so high? Anyone who has ever worked in a bureaucratic setting, whether in private industry, in education, or in government, will be able to provide the answer. You rise by giving the “right” people what they want. It is another neat trick. You draw down the capital of your institution, whether it is monetary, cultural, or intellectual, in order to reward a certain group of people, often the most worldly and vocal and ambitious, rather than others—the old-fashioned, that is, the people who want mainly that things be sane and decent. Thus do you harm the institution itself while firming up your position in it. You rise by means of the right kind of managed failure.
As long as the “right” people are with you, you may give the others the whistle. Again, the habit of looking at Other People’s Sins stands you in good stead. We are all censors when it comes to those. Thus you claim a success when the congregation at your church, Our Lady of Perpetual Motion, fills the pews and is chatty and noisy with its semi-Christian sing-along that follows the bouncing dotted eighth-note ditties, but you do not ask whether that is a confessional in back or just the broom closet, and you do not inquire too closely into the age of the parishioners or whether they actually believe all that the Church teaches. You yourself do not believe all. You at least are not grimly traditional and censorious, like the people over there. Or you do as I have just done, and see those sins against orthodoxy, good taste, and even grammar, which sins are many, and fall to a sinister temptation, namely, to be animated more by scorn for the wrong than by love for the right.
We may have worse bishops than we deserved, but not much worse; we certainly have not deserved good and wise and holy bishops, because we have not been a good and wise and obedient flock. It is time to see to our own corners of the bog. McCarrick was not only the cause of misery. He was a product of it and a symptom of it. For someone who contributed his or her share to the cause, look in the mirror.
It is time to get to work, cleaning.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Archbishop Sheen’s Warning of a Crisis in Christendom

With a saintly long-ranging spiritual vision, Bishop Sheen saw the roots of today’s crisis firmly planted and growing in 1974, but gave us an antidote.

Joseph Pronechen

“First of all, we are at the end of Christendom,” Bishop Fulton Sheen solemnly said during a television show in 1974. “Now not Christianity, not the Church. Remember what I am saying.”

Then he defined what he meant. “Christendom is economic, political, social life as inspired by Christian principles. That is ending — we’ve seen it die. Look at the symptoms: the breakup of the family, divorce, abortion, immorality, general dishonesty.”

That was 1974. Today we know it’s even worse with the definition of marriage and gender drawn into the picture. And the crisis within the Church.

He reminded that of 22 civilizations that have decayed since the beginning of the world, 19 rotted and perished from within.

“We live in it from day to day, and we do not see the decline.” Remember, that was in 1974. “We take it for granted—we get used to things, and almost accept them as the rule.” Despite the decline blaring today, isn’t that a rule? How many Catholics accept the counter message to Humanae Vitae?

Sheen pointed out “the press that we read, the television that we see, is in no instance inspired by Christian principles. As a matter of fact, there is, on the part of many of us, the tendency to go down to meet the world — not to lift the world up. We are afraid of being unpopular — so we go with the mob.”

The good bishop noted we were living in the fourth 500-year period of Church history, explaining “the Church is not a continuing thing — it dies and rises again. It proceeds on the principle of Christ himself as priest and victim.

“And there comes the defeat, the seeming decay, we are put in the grave, and then we rise again. We have had four deaths in our Christian history.”

First Three Falls and Rises

The first time the Church was in dire straits was in the fall of Rome, the first 500-year period. It had a rebirth when great saint missionaries like Augustine in England and Patrick in Ireland spread the faith.

Then came a second “decay” around the year 1,000 with the Moslem invasions and the split of the Church with a schism in Constantinople.

“It seemed to be the end of everything. And then we came to life again,” Sheen said.

In the third 500-year period he said the Church became “rotten” as nuns and priests were defecting. Then came the reformers who “almost always reform the wrong things. And they began reforming the faith, and there was nothing wrong with faith — it was the morals that needed to be reformed. It’s not renewal — it’s really a moral reformation that is needed today, too.” Remember, that was 44 years ago.

All the more so in our day. On just one point, how many listened to, and took to heart, Humanae Vitae? Even theologians defected from it.

After that period the Church came to life again, Sheen said.

“And now we’re at the fourth period, and we’re rotting — we’re spoiled — no great zeal, no great learning, no great fire.” Yet there’s hope because “anyone who knows history is not particularly disturbed.”

Church’s Enemies

“But the enemy in each of the 500-year periods has been separate and distinct,” he continued. “We had, and here I am speaking generally of enemies within the Church, in the first 500 years, false doctrine centering around the person of Christ…the Christological heresies. So the Church was just split open, and that was one of the reasons that made it possible for the Moslems to develop.”

The next period saw attacks on the head of the Church, leading to the Eastern Church breaking away.

By the 16th century the attack was on “the body of Christ, the mystical body, the Church.” It was Reformation time.

Today’s 4th Enemy

“Our enemy today is the world — the spirit of the world,” Sheen made clear.

“Today we have to conform to the world or we’re branded” he said. Must be politically correct. “Our Lord said, I have taken you out of the world. We say, ‘No we have to win the world, and to win it you have to be one with it.’ Our Lord says, I pray not for the world. He was praying for the spirit of the world. And this is the easiest kind of way to fall off the log — worldliness. It’s so simple, and it can be justified for a thousand reasons; namely, the Vatican Council said we have to go into the world — indeed, but not to be world, which is quite a different matter. So this is our attack today.”

Sheen saw this as “one of the basic causes of our degeneration, of our death. We’re dying. What about it? What’s the answer?”

“The answer is: these are great and wonderful days in which to be alive. I thank God… that I can live in these days, because these are days of testing.” Since 1974 the testing pressure has increased.

Sheen explained it was easy to be Christian in the three decades before his talk. “The atmosphere was Christian; morals were Christian; there was no great problem in adapting ourselves to a Christian society. But now, when everything is turned around, these are days when the masks have got to come off, and we reveal ourselves just as we really are.”

“Today the current is against us. And today the mood of the world is, ‘Go with the world, go with the spirit.’ Listen, dead bodies float downstream. Only live bodies resist the current. And so the good Lord is testing us.”

“And he is testing Western Christians with worldliness, and how many of us are falling?” Would Bishop Sheen be surprised on how far the decadence and corruption have piled up?

He gives the example of the Israelites being tested by God in the desert. “That is what he is doing to us. We are showing what we really are now,” Sheen said. “St. John says in his Epistle: ‘They did not love us really from the beginning. That is why they left us.’ And so the souls that are falling away have just failed to meet the test. It is very much like the test that the Jews had.”

The farsighted bishop highlighted how the majority of Israelites scouting the Promised Land told the people they couldn’t enter because the dwellers there were too strong. But “the majority is not always right!” Only Caleb and Joshua, “the minority report,” disagreed. They were right.

Sheen warned “what we are going to have in the Church is a minority report: a minority report of sisters, a minority report of priests, a minority report of laity — not the minority that is aggressive and troublemaking, but the minority that like Caleb and Joshua, trusts in God. So we are tested just as the Jews were tested.”

He went on, “not far after our time, and perhaps in the time of some, then will come the battles and the testing. Our Lord said, Satan would sift you as wheat. And we are being sifted as wheat. So we can all thank God that we live in these days. Really, it’s beautiful. Now we can say, ‘aye’ or ‘nay,’ and we can bear up under assault, criticism and ridicule, because this is the lot of the Christian in the days of the spirit of the world.”

Surprising, Unexpected Advice

The saintly bishop made clear the situation was really not “gloomy.”

Why? Because “it is a picture of the Church in the midst of increasing opposition from the world. And, therefore, live your lives in the full consciousness of this hour of testing, and rally close to the heart of Christ.” Be the “minority.”

He really had ears perked up with his next revelation and recommendation.

“And if there is anything that has to be restored in our day, I would say it would be violence. Violence! The kingdom of heaven is won by violence. And only the violent shall conquer it.”

Shouldn’t it be about peace? Let’s hear the great Bishop Sheen explain. And Biblically too.

He observed how when the Church drops things, the world picks them up but twists them in the wrong way. For example, mysticism drops, and the young turn to pharmaceuticals and drugs.

“And we drop violence, discipline, commitment to the Cross, and the world picks it up…That’s why there’s no stopping the violence of this country. We just have to…hire more police guards, build more hospitals for the addicts. Why? Because there’s no moral reason on the inside why they should stop.”

Isn’t he right on today’s beam? What’s the usual first response? More government spending and more laws will fix the problem. Uh huh.

Sheen explained, “Our Blessed Lord said I have come to bring the sword. Not peace! We are always talking about peace, peace, peace! Yes, because that war (World War II, Korean War, etc.) happened — but we aren’t making war in ourselves — and there’s not going to be any peace in the world until we make war. Our Lord said, I came not to bring peace, but the sword! He never used the word ‘peace’ until after Easter.”

“The Lord brought a sword. It’s not the sword that’s thrust outward against the enemy. It’s a sword that’s thrust against ourselves, cutting out the seven pallbearers of the soul: pride and covetousness and lust and anger, envy, gluttony and sloth. And we’ve given up the sword — someone else has taken it up, and we have to restore it! Then we’ll get peace! And peace is never corporate — it’s never social — until it’s first individual.

Social peace, world peace, is the extension of individual peace in our hearts. When we are right with God, then we will be right with our fellow man. When are not right with God, then we will be wrong with everyone else.”

He told everyone to take seriously spending an hour before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament every day “not only for our own souls, but for the world, and to strengthen our minority.” It’s “violence” to ourselves, easily enough understood.

Archbishop Sheen emphasized, “The Lord is keeping reserves. He is training us. We’ll make the entry. We’ll prepare for a new Church. And he is with us — we just simply can’t add rules — only we’ve already won as a matter of fact, only the news has not yet leaked out — and so it’s violence that has to be restored.”