Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The New Encyclical

I have just finished reading Benedict XVI's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. It really is quite an achievement. Once again, the new Pope reveals himself to be a thinker of tremendous depth and power, writing with a clarity and heart-felt devotion that is a joy to read.

In his usual incisive manner, Chiesa's reporter Sandro Magister, in an article that appeared on Chiesa's website to-day commented not so much upon the encyclical itself, but on the resistance to the new Pope. One way in which this has manifested was apparently in the delay of translation of the document --- a translation the Pontiff himself felt impelled to correct. The first of three such "resistances" that Mr. Magister touched upon was that of the Neocatechumenal way, which has crossed swords with the Pope over its litugical style. As the article informs us, "...instead of simply obeying, the Neocatechumenals disobeyed while asserting that they were perfectly obedient." This is a tactic those of us living in such places as Los Angeles are entirely familiar with.

That aside, the encyclical is in many ways a radical document, in the sense of returning to the roots. Love --- carefully defined as the Pope does --- must lie at the root of all Catholic endeavour. But he takes pains to show us that this love must be both mystical and concrete, and does so in an easily comprehended matter.

His Holiness touches upon the role in politics that love must carve out for Catholics. While, as is his wont, he goes out of his way to be conciliatory to the temporal authorities, he includes a passage from St. Augustine that --- whether Benedict knows it or not --- is extremely condemnatory: "a State which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves." With a very few exceptions (Liechtenstein until its recent acceptance of abortion comes to mind)that pretty much somes up the totality of the governments with which the Church as a whole and Catholics as individuals must deal.

In that context, one cannot look at this letter as a practical "how-to" guide for dealing with the State. But it will certainly serve to refocus our energies in the proper direction. By the same token, despite the loving manner in which the Pope puts forth his programme, there can be no doubt that --- deficient as it may be to some Traditionalists --- it is sure to bring him nasty assaults from the powers that be, in Church as well as State. This, surely, is an area in which we must defend him; and there is no better start to that than reading Deus Caritas Est and meditating upon its contents.


The Pope's Christmas message to the Curia featured three interlocking themes:

    a)The Contingency of the Church's Pre-Conciliar approach to the Modern World (and, therefore by logical extension, that of the Post-Conciliar approach)

    b)the contrast between two "heremeutics" of the Council --- that of "Reform," and that of "Change"

    c) a certain number of historical references intended to bolster His Holiness' arguement

In this second section, then, we will look at Benedict's second theme. Before we do this, however, I must share with my brother internauts art of an e-mail I received regarding the reaction of Bishop Fellay of the SSPX to the document we are studying. It is a fragment of "a translation of the interview(French)which the Superior-General of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, granted at Radio-France to the [French] Association of Religious Information Journalists." We will look only at the two questions asked the Bishop about the Curia message, rather than his comments on possible reconciliation with Rome. These are interesting, but not germain to the current discussion. Here are the questions posed by Jean-Claude Noyé, Apic journalist in Paris, and Bishop Fellay's answers.

Q.: Differently from you, Benedict XVI defended, on his speech to the Curia of December 22, 2005, that the Church has been constant in this question... [of religious liberty]

B.F.: Not at all, for he introduces a distinction between a rupture in the action and a continuity in principle. In any case, the pope has the will to re-read the Council, to present it otherwise.

Q.: Has this papal speech pleased you?

B.F.: Yes, because of its clarity, its precision, and the will to propose true questions. Though, in my opinion, it does not go today far enough.

Regardless of how critical one may be of Benedict XVI's approach, it cannot be denied that His Holiness is actually willing to enter into discussion about the Council, rather than simply praise it and demand submission.

Now then, on to the Pope's description of the "two hermenuetics" or interpretations.

"The last event of this year on which I wish to reflect here is the celebration of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. This memory prompts the question: What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, even without wishing to apply to what occurred in these years the description that St Basil, the great Doctor of the Church, made of the Church's situation after the Council of Nicea: he compares her situation to a naval battle in the darkness of the storm, saying among other things: "The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement rise up against one another, the incomprehensible chatter, the confused din of uninterrupted clamouring, has now filled almost the whole of the Church, falsifying through excess or failure the right doctrine of the faith..." (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX, 77; PG 32, 213 A; SCh 17 ff., p. 524).

We do not want to apply precisely this dramatic description to the situation of the post-conciliar period, yet something from all that occurred is nevertheless reflected in it. The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?

Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or - as we would say today - on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call 'a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture;' it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the "hermeneutic of reform", of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council's deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.

The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself."

I have quoted this section at length simply because it so masterfully captures the nature of the changes imposed after Vatican II. Never have we seen a post-conciliar Pope describe so well the intellectual current that flowed from the Council. Yet, here, although I cannot endorse all that Bishop Fellay says or does, I must agree with his opinion that "it does not go today far enough."

The problem is that one would get the notion (if one were only reading this message, and had not lived the reality of the past several decades)that this "hermeneutic of discontinuity" was a purely intellectual concept, perhaps restricted to a few scholars, rather than the standard way in which the conciliar decrees were applies in most dioceses, by the Curia, and in many cases by Paul VI himself. What Benedict describes was simply the modus operandi of the greater part of the Church's organisation --- and, indeed, what the nuns and priests who taught me actually said during the immediate aftermath of Vatican II. The veteran of those times, and indeed, of our own, is left with the feeling that while the Pope has accurately diagnosed the disease, he has not noticed the symptoms. To be fair, of course, no doubt many in the crowd he was addressing were adherents of these ideas themselves. In keeping with his whole approach, he may well have felt that it was better to teach than to condemn.

But what of the "hermeneutic of reform?" Benedict XVI goes on to describe it thusly:

"The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council's conclusion on 7 December 1965.

Here I shall cite only John XXIII's well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes 'to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion.' And he continues: 'Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us....' It is necessary that 'adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness...' be presented in 'faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another...,' retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).

It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.

However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened. Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing."

His description of said heremeutic is inspiring.But the Pontiff's last paragraph is puzzling. To put it simply, I know of few places where "this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council." There are a few favoured spots --- the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul, Minnesota, comes to mind, for example, or the Brompton Oratory in London. Yet such areas are few and far between, and often resemble cities under siege by their local bishops, rather than models for their dioceses. It is certainly true that younger priests tend to be more orthodox than their elders, and this presages a hopeful future. Moreover, many new orders and communities are being formed, a large number of which are filled with just the sort of spirit that the Pope indicates he favours. Yet a large number of these (though by no means all) are products of the Tridentine Indult. Like the new generation of priests, they would appear, at least superficially, to have grown up despite the Council's actions, not because of them. And here too, they are all often besieged.

That having been said, no one could argue with Bendict XVI's hopes for what the Council may one day produce; but one could take exception to the idea that such good fruit is actually here in abundance. At any rate, much of His Holiness' views on the Council's project of "reconciloiation" between the Church and what was "modernity" in the 1960s depends upon his historical analysis, and it is to that we will turn our attention in the third and last instalment of this post.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Forty Years After

Pope Benedict XVI's Christmas Message to the Curia will doubtless get many Trads further annoyed, and reassure Sedes that they are correct, after all. Sandro Magister, in his usual perceptive manner writes of this message in Chiesa, to which I refer my readers.

In a nutshell, the Pope proposes that Vatican II corrected prior Church policy in three different areas:

    a)the relationship between the Faith and "Modern Science" (or at least what passed for that notion from the 18th century to almost the present)

    b)the relationship between the Church and the "modern" secular State

    c)the relationship between the Church and other religions, especially, in the light of Nazi atrocities (bearing in mind that Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict himself, as well as the European Council Fathers had all suffered under them in a way Americans cannot really understand), the Jews

The Holy Father explains, as only a participant of the Council could (a sincere one, that is --- the Rahners and the Kung's had their own views). As Cardinal Ratzinger, His Holiness described the Council as a sort of "Counter-Syllabus" --- in reference to the Syllabus of Errors of Bl. Pius IX. This was a description that infuriated such as Archbishop Lefebvre (and myself, for what little that is worth). But loyalty to the Holy See requires that such a sincere explication as the Pope has presented be returned, not with fury, but with the same sort of sincerity.

Benedict declares that the former attitude of the Church toward the modern world, "a harsh and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age," was in itself flawed. As he writes, "It was becoming clear that the American Revolution had offered a model of the modern state that was different from that theorized by the radical tendencies that had emerged from the second phase of the French Revolution. Natural sciences began, in a more and more clear way, to reflect their own limits, imposed by their own method which, though achieving great things, was nevertheless not able to comprehend the totality of reality. Thus, both sides began to progressively open up to each other. In the period between the two world wars and even more after the second world war, Catholic statemen had shown that a modern lay state can exist, which nevertheless is not neutral with respect to values, but lives tapping into the great ethical fonts of Christianity."

Despite the apparently authoritative manner of Bl. Pius' Syllabus and similar teachings, "In this process of change through continuity we had to learn how to understand better than before that the Church’s decisions about contingent matters – for example, about actual forms of liberalism or liberal interpretations of the Bible – were necessarily themselves contingent because related to a reality itself changeable." So it was that "We had to learn how to recognise that in such decisions only principles express what is lasting, embedded in the background and determining the decision from within. The concrete forms these decisions take are not permanent but depend upon the historical situations. They can therefore change."

As an historical precedent, Pope Benedict offers this one, dear even to most who call themselves Traditionalists: "When Medieval Christianity, largely schooled in the Platonic tradition, came into contact with Aristotle’s ideas via Jewish and Arab philosophers in the 13th century, faith and reason almost became irreconcilable. But saint Thomas Aquinas was especially able to find a new synthesis between faith and Aristotelian philosophy. Faith could relate in a positive manner with the dominant notions of reason of the time."

His Holiness goes on to effectively critique what he sees as the erroneous interprestation of the Council, which sees it as a radical break with all that was taught before, although he does not mention that this is, regrettably, the dominant view in most Catholic institutions, to include diocesan chanceries and Roman Curia departments. Against this particular threat he writes, and --- I have no doubt --- intends to act.

There are, I think, two ways to react to this and similar pronouncements. One is simply to brand him as a modernist out to destroy Catholic Tradition, consciously or unconsciously, in a a far cleverer manner than his last few predecessors. Perhaps predictably, our friends in the SSPX tend to take this view. In his January 2006 "Letter from the District Superior [of Great Britain]," Fr. Paul Morgan opines, after acknowledging that the Tridentine Mass is likely to prosper under the new management in Rome, "Whilst we can expect something of a return to a more conservative situation under the new pope, at least compared to John Paul II's pontificate, we ought not to imagine that everything is resolved. As it was Napoleon who introduced a certain order in to the Revolution, and then carried the revolutionary principles across Europe with his victorious armies, so now is there a real danger of a more conservative pope propagating the revolutionary principles of Vatican II."

While I fully understand this view, I just as fully do not share it. The second possible response is of loyal discussion of the views advanced by the Pontiff,in precisely the terms in which he advances them. For either the views adavnced by Bl. Pius IX remain binding (as I believe) or they are contingent, as His Holiness declares. But if this last is true, then denial of them is just as contingent, and may be discussed, or even discounted, if it is found to be factually erroneous or the times require such discounting, even the Pope has said of the Syllabus of Errors. If, as then Cardinal Ratzinger replied to Archbishop Lefebvre's declaration that Vatican II contradicted the the Syllabus, that "we do not live in the times of the Syllabus," one must reply that neither do we live in the times of Vatican II. To those who neither lived under the Nazis and nor were old enough to have participated in the heady emotions unleashed by the Council,it may well be easier to "discern the signs of the times," even as Vatican II itself commanded.

Thus, it seems to me (albeit this is a personal judgement --- which kind of judgement it appears the Holy Father himself has legitimated in his Christmas Curia message)that we must evaluate the Conciliar project on the basis of the assumptions under which it was formed.

Vatican II occurred before a number of key events which shed a great deal of light on the veracity or otherwise of those assumptions. Genetic research and such things as the discovery of invertebrate fossils have demolished both the Darwinian theory of evolution and the dating system upon which it was based; the "New Physics" have not only blown Newtonian scientism to smithereens, they have indicated existence of an "information universe," redolent of the much feared "intelligent design;" the discovery of frag,emts of the Gospel of St. Mark among the Dead Sea scrolls has voided the formerly "new" Biblical criticism; the onward motion of government and society in destroying marriage, family, and all things decent in an increasingly totalitarian manner has demolished the hopes of the 20th century Catholic politicians the Pope rightly praises, as well as calling into question the supposed uniqueness of the American Revolution, a uniqueness much beloved of conservatives and liberals alike; and the continuing hatred of the vatious non-Catholic religions for the Church surely must bring doubt upon the wisdom of the post-Vatican II ecumenical project (save, of course, toward the Orthodox and certain Anglican and Lutheran conservatives).

In a word, the contingent world view upon which the Vatican II generation's assumptions were built have been broken. That World View is like a gigantic dinosaur that does not yet realize that it is dead. But what Pope Benedict XVI has done, even while espousing this world-view to a greater or lesser degree,is to legitimise debate on it. As the generations that are emotionally wedded to it die off, such debate, will, in the end, kill it. Even now, such works as Fr. Aidan Nichols' "Christendom Awake" indicate that this process is under way. Let be noted that Fr. Nichols and his ilk could hardly be called "Traditionalists."

What must be determined, and the Pontiff's methodology urges us to so determine, is which approach is more appropriate to the new world in which we live --- that of the Council, or that of the Syllabus. It is my own view that, in time, the latter will emerge as the victor. But it will require the passing from the scene of those who were brutally abused by the Nazis and/or Communists, and those who felt to the bottom of their hearts that a New World dawned in the 1960s, before all these things can be evaluated calmly on their own merits. As Fr. Morgan charitably admits, "due to [Benedict XVI's]perspective of things it seems impossible for him to renounce or to reject the Council." Unhappily, it may also be neccessary for those of us who were brutalised by post-Conciliar developments also to be gathered to our ancestors before this process can be completed.

In the meantime, it is necessary for those of who do not share the world-view of the Council Fathers to show love and loyalty to our Pope, even as the Scotist school, who upheld the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception against the Thomists, showed toward Pontiffs like St. Pius V, who forbade them to call their opponents (proved at last, after several centuries to be wrong)heretical. Moreover, it is essential that we know our facts. We must know and internalise documents like Bl. Pius IX's Syllabus and Gregory XVI's "Mirari Vos" and "Singulari Nos" which so many who call themselves Traditionalists defend without ever reading. We must also keep abreats of the latest developments in science, politics, culture, and all the rest, sifting them, even as the Pope has called upon us to do. How many of us, for example, are familiar with the work of Fr. Jose O' Callaghan? For that matterm it would help to throw ourselves into the Church Fathers, and the traditional liturgies of all rites, East and West. We cannot defend Catholic Tradition if we do not really know it ourselves.

But there is more. We must avoid any arbitrary division of Catholics into "Traditional" and "Conciliar." All of us, (save those clerics and theologians who deny the basic tenets of the Faith) are Catholics. We may be ignorant, willful, deluded, or anything else you please. But anyone who can recite the four creeds, meaning every word of them in the light of St. Pius X's anti-Modernist oath, are Catholics. As such, we must both give and expect a certain amount of decency to and from our brother catholics. We must seek to convert, to reconcile, to assuage, to unify, on the basis of both Truth and Charity. This is important not merely for the Salvation of other souls, but for our own. It is notable that the salvation of individual souls, that is to say, of engineering their escape from the jaws of the Hell that lies in wait for each and every one of us, is almost completely absent from virtually all these sorts of debates.

The reason for this, I believe, can be found in the historical precedent for the changes of Vatican II cited by the Holy Father in his Christmas message --- the discarding of Patristic and Medieval neo-Platonism for Aristotelianism of various schools. I have written of this elsewhere in more detail, and doubtless will do so again. But here too, it is my belief that the two sides in that long-ago struggle also must be reevaluated in the light of what has happened in the centuries since.

But regardless of whether I am right or wrong in that, I happily reaffirm my loyalty and submission to Pope Benedict XVI, and wish him and all of us a happy and blessed 2006.

Friday, December 30, 2005

An outrage to St. Nicholas!

Well, in the spirit of the non-sectarian holidays, I offer this tidbit from "Asia News," published by the P.I.M.E.

7 December, 2005
Church of St Nicholas open to local mufti, but closed for mass on the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas
by Mavi Zambak

Although the church belongs to the Orthodox Patriarchate, the authorities have turned it into a museum where the Eucharist cannot be celebrated. The local mufti can however use it for his Santa Claus association.

Demre (AsiaNews) – In a warm and fertile land where a turquoise sea gently splashes against a beautiful shoreline rises a small Turkish town, Demre, which would have been lost to history were it not for the fact that it once was the Episcopal See of Saint Nicholas, the same Saint Nicholas whose venerated mortal remains now lay in the Cathedral of Bari (southern Italy), the same Saint Nicholas known to the many as Saint Nick, Old Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santa Claus, Santy, or simply Santa—whose home is usually given as either the North Pole in the United States (Alaska), northern Canada, Korvatunturi in Finnish Lapland, Dalecarlia in Sweden, or Greenland, depending on the tradition and country—, the same old, bearded man who on Christmas Night travels the world in his red and white costume bringing gifts to children.

According to one tradition in fact, the practice of gift-giving comes directly from Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, who put three bags of gold in stockings left to dry belonging to three young women, who had no dowry, so that their father may not sell them into prostitution.

A recently renovated church in Demre is dedicated to the same Saint Nicholas, a church, according to tradition, that was built in the 4th century, when the town was called Myra and Saint Nicholas was its bishop.

Despite complaints, the church has now become a museum open to the local mufti and his Santa Claus Association but closed to the Eucharist by a decision of the local authorities. Gone is also the statue of the Saint.

The Saint, who was buried in the church until a group of merchants from Bari spirited his remains away in 1087, had fame as a thaumaturge, drawing pilgrims and believers from around the region.

According to ancient chronicles, pilgrims came to the shrine, poured oil into the tomb and collected it after it was sanctified by contact with the Saint’s bones so that it could be used on the sick.

Today, although the building is the property of the Greek Orthodox Church (but known to local Turks as the Santa Claus Church), it is used as a museum. The Saint’s sarcophagus may be empty but tourists are charged a fee to visit the burial chapel

And it is this church, the church of the bishop of Myra, famous for his generosity and piety that has become a bone of contention and a source of conflict.

The statue of Saint Nicholas, a bag full of gifts over his shoulder, surrounded by children, which was a gift of the Russian Orthodox Church, no longer stands in the square in front of the building. It has been replaced since last spring by order of the town’s mayor, Suleyman Topcu, with a modern and multicoloured painting of Santa Claus.

Furthermore, for the past two years, the Eucharistic celebration has been banned on the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas.

Yesterday, the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas, Orthodox Christians had to meet in a private home for mass despite repeated formal requests by Patriarch Bartholomew I they be allowed to use the church.

The church-turned-museum was instead made available to the city’s mufti who had organised a “prayer for peace” during which, and this takes the cake, the local Turkish Santa Claus association handed out its annual Santa Claus Peace Prize to Jeannine Gramick, an American Catholic nun, who was being acknowledged for her ardent defence of gay and lesbian rights, Turkish newspaper Radical reported.

In her acceptance speech, the 63-year-old nun asked for forgiveness for the Pope and believers who do not respect homosexuals.

Local Christians were left dumbfounded and baffled over what the Turkish state is trying to achieve with such impudent and contradictory actions.

Now, there is little that can be done vis-a-vis the Turkish authorities. But Sister Jeannine is another matter. As an American Sister of Loretto, she is definitely over here. Write her community, and demand that they issue an apology to the Patriarchate of Constantinople for her apparent encouragement of this outrage. Their address:

Loretto Motherhouse
515 Nerinx Rd.
Nerinx, KY 40049-9999
(ph.) 270-865-5811
(fax) 270-865-2200

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas is still here!

Ah, dear old Christmas is with us still. Having kept Advent without booze, meat, or tobacco, I was ready for Christmas Eve! After getting and trimming the tree, and putting the Christ-Child into his place in the Nativity scene, I watched the Pope's Midnight Mass. Then I scarfed up some of the leg of lamb I had had roasting for the last several hours of the Eve.

Christmas Day, I went to the Tridentine Mass, then out to brunch with friends. When I got home, I read the Christmas messages of the King of Spain, the Queen, and various other worthies. After reading Lovecraft's poem, "Old Christmas," I served ham, lamb, turkey, and tamales to still more friends, the whole washed down with champagne.

St. Stephen's Day was spent driving around visiting yet more acquaintances (mostly different people I have known since childhood).

St. John's Day was a recovery day!

Holy Innocents has been spent receiving messages from people, shopping, watching TV, and resting.

I expect a quiet time with St. Thomas of Canterbury, but my New Year's festvities begin on Friday.

I do love this time of year. What has made it better is that for the first time in my memory folk have begun to rebel against "Happy Holidays." Of course, I have to explain to people that I have no animus against Hanukah, just surprise that the Jews celebrate it. After all, the events it commemorates occur in a book of the Bible accepted only by the Catholics and Orthodox, and not by the Jews or Protestants!

At any rate, I will do my best to fend off what passes for reality until the Epiphany. This is the time of year to return ourselves to what we believe in, and to shed the dross of an anti-Catholic society. It is a sort of retreat, if taken in the right spirit.

At any rate, I want to wish my fellow bloggers, and all internauts, a very Merry Christmas, and an excruciatingly happy 2006!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Filled with admiration!

I see that there is a whole world of blogging out there, which my lack of skill effectively keeps me from! No matter; it is thrilling to read the work of such as Jovan, Der Tommissar, the Inquisitor, W, and so many others.

But how do they find the time? What they write is not only good --- it ought to be paid for! But who would do it? Blogging gives alternative voices, all right, and ensures that things that ought to be written are. But presumably the demi-gods who reign over us in Church and State need not care. Well, never mind! Write on, O friends! Keeping ideas alive sometimes leads to their eventual triumph!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas is coming!

Well, it has been about a month since last I posted --- and what a month! All the feasts I wrote of earlier, and of course Advent. The annual "Happy Holidays" struggle is underway, with, I am happy to report, more noise and thunder from the pro-Christmas side!

The Queem has received her Glastonbury Thorn flower, and the world is its usual screwy self. The new Archbishop of San Francisco is a classmate of Cardinal Mahony's, so supporters of the status quo should be able to breathe easier. Despite hopes for change, it looks like all will remain in its current antique state; so, Catholics everywhere, don't throw away those "Peter, Paul, and Mary" albums just yet.

The old year 2005 is tottering on to its death, and 2006 will arrive shortly. Where, indeed, are the snows of yesteryear?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

To-day I left the G.O.P.

I am currently dealing with post-partum depression. T0-night, for the first time since I was 18, I am going to bed outside what George H.W. Bush called "the Big Tent of the Republican Party." I reregistered this day as an American Independent.
My annoyance with the G.O.P. has been growing for a long time, and I suppose this step wasinevitable since the time I voted third party back in the 80s, when pro-abort Republican Ed Schau was running to unseat pro-abort Senator Cranston. Why this action?
Well, of course, as a committed Monarchist, I never really liked the party name. But beyond that there was the growing conviction that I was simpky participating in a meaningless political ritual, a sort of political Kabuki. Apart from tone and rhetoric, it becomes increasingly obvious that there is little or no difference between the policies of the Clinton and Bush II administrations. Whether or not one is pro-Iraq war, the fact remains that our intervention there was conducted according to the Clinton Doctrine, the idea that we would intervene anywhere we deemed a threat, regardless of national sovereignty. The feminisation and homosexualisation of the military continues apace, there will be no advocates of overturning Roe v. Wade appointed to the High Court, and on and on.
Yet the G.O.P. continue to take the "social conservative" vote for granted, all the while giving them nothing, materially. The Democrats do the same to their core constituencies, the minorities and organised labour. The central committes of both parties have more in common with each other than with their own rank and file. (Of course, the SC, labour, and minorities have much more in common with each other than either do with their party leadersip).
The rivalry between the two parties is more apparent than real. The British, Canadians, Australians, and subjects of various other Crown Commonwealth realms are wonderful for their own empty political rituals. The openings of Parliament by the Queen, Governors-General and other viceroys always showcase the Monarch or her standins offering the "Speech from the Throne, in which she or they offer the current government's agenda (although she menions "my government in the course of the oration, she has no control over the contents pf what she utters.
This is responded to by the "Address-in-Reply." Debate over this introduction constitutes the first debate on new policies. The debate may be lively, but the formla of the address is unchanging. The version used in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales is typical:
"To His/HerExcellency [name of the Governor], Governor of the State of New South Wales in the Commonwealth of Australia.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY___We,the Members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our thanks for Your Excellency's speech, and to express our loyalty to the Sovereign.
2. We assure Your Excellency that our earnest consideration will be given to the measures to be submitted to us, that we will faithfully carry out the important duties entrusted to us by the people of New South Wales, and that the necessary provision for the Public Services will be made in due course.
3. We join Your Excellency in the hope that our labours may be so directed as to advance the best interests of all sections of the community."
It would be easy to smile at the idea of the primarily republican NSW Assembly expressing their loyalty to the Sovereign, considering how many of its members want to overthrow the Monarchy. But it is no more fanciful than the Governor referring to "My Government" during the throne speech.
Now, so long as the republicrats have a lock on power, our elections are essentially meaningless exercises in Kabuki (admittedly without the beauty or grace of that ancient Japanese artform). I wish it were not so (though, to be sure, I wish that Speeches from the Throne and Addresses in Reply meant what they said too). But things are as they are, not as we would wish.
Friends have told me that voting Third Party is a waste of vote; but having voted Republlican all my life, with the likes of Anthony Kennedy as reward, I think that I have been doing so my entire adult life. Perhaps, now, my voting really will mean something!