Thursday, May 29, 2014

Caption Contest!

Well, perhaps contest isn't the right word, as it implies a prize.

How about this: the best caption, as judged by the Bear, will receive a free bar of Zoar Genuine Goat Milk Soap, if and when such become available. Void where prohibited by law, etc. etc.

The only rules are to relax, have fun, and trust in your complete anonymity.

In the "It Could Be Worse" category, members of His Holiness Shri Ashutosh Maharaj's cult in India claim their leader -- who is evidently worth a bundle -- has been meditating since January, and is not dead, as his family claims.

Wow, imagine belonging to a religion where your leader didn't do or say anything.

The Bear heard that.

Only YOU Can Prevent Heresy

Bear as Watchman

Bears are known as "the watchmen of the forest." As the largest and mightiest of all the forest animals, they are divinely-appointed sentinels, protecting the woodland creatures against fire and foe.

Like Smokey.

Behold the Cunning Bear

What is surprising, given their reputation for laziness and the popular depiction as lovable rogues, is that they take things seriously. They may laugh at the world, the flesh and the devil, but the laughter comes from behind very large, sharp teeth. They are the second most cunning beast of the field God ever made.

Bears are also loyal and true, as anyone who has ever had a Teddy Bear knows. It pains them to mistrust their natural leaders, still more to criticize them.

Bless Me Father, For I Have Blogged

Bears are also very well versed in scripture, at least those who have been taught it. It is relatively common for holy men in Russia to teach Bears bible verses, and, of course, the Bear can read and write. He finds verses that say he must keep quiet, and verses that say he must speak out. The Bible pretty much says that all bloggers are going to Hell, except for the writer of Princess Fluffy Bunny's Pretty Flower Blog, and maybe her, if she says something nasty about nasturtiums.

Surely, it is better to keep quiet about the strange doings of a pope. The pope is in a better position to know and judge things, and is gifted by the Holy Spirit to avoid leading the Church into error.

Yet we, too, enjoy this priesthood of all believers that the progressives are always yammering about. The Bear meditates on two things; three does he consider.

  1. The, shall we say, more creative or lackluster Catholics seem to find little objectionable in Pope Francis' sayings and doings. Non-Catholics seem to really like him, especially those addicted to sin, e.g. sodomy. 
  2. The ones who are in the middle of the still-fresh current of Church history and teachings, who take the faith seriously, and not to change everything about it, either, but to preserve and defend it against all enemies, seem to be troubled by Pope Francis so far.
  3. The consensus of the second group seems coherent and worth broadcasting, so that an element of the Catholic blogosphere -- the magisterium of the keyboard -- stands up for Truth, employing all the rhetorical weapons at their disposal, including agitprop and even ridicule.

The problem with point three is that anyone who opposes Peter to his face by the means available to us in the 21st century may be buying a one-way ticket (is there another kind?) to Hell.

It is not enough to say, "Well, the Bear will keep his trap shut and let other bloggers do all the dangerous stuff." It seems that the only justifiable response is to sound the alarm or follow the Pope without question. Michael Voris has made his choice. The Bear has made his. Hopefully zeal covers a multitude of sins.

Know Your Enemy: Modernism

This is important stuff. We've seen our Church gutted like a fish before, and not long ago. Nobody stood up then. We didn't know. We do now. We are weary, yet capable veterans. We are on the alert, because heresy, like the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. This time, nobody gets away with anything. Not priests, not bishops.

Not the Pope of Rome.

If the Pope wants to change course for the Church, let him come out and say so. Let him stand up and cast out previous solemn pronouncements of the Church with bell, book and candle. 

The annoying and unending trail of "gestures" he leaves behind on his crooked path is not only stale, but appears to be leading toward the swamps on the edge of the forest where the woodland creatures don't go.

The heresy in question is Modernism, if we have to name it. (And the Bear thinks we do, otherwise it just seems like "stuff traddies don't like.")

Modernism is slippery. It is hard to pin down, because there is always an escape built in to every proposition and instance. You may hear something that doesn't seem right, but someone can always say, "but if you look at it this way, it is perfectly acceptable."

The Pope, for example, says he doesn't believe in a Catholic God. Why, of course not! God is God, he doesn't belong to the Catholic faith!  However, the meaning that is really taken away is that Catholics don't believe in God as taught by the Catholic Church for 2000 years.

Modernists are masters of ambiguity. They are rhetorical slight-of-hand artists, able to sound orthodox enough to deflect criticism, even as they subvert the faith on a daily basis.

Think about that for a moment. Is it acceptable to have a Pope whom we are always having to decode? Whose actions and sayings may just as well be anti-Catholic as Catholic? Why can nothing be clear and unambiguous? It smells fishy, doesn't it? With something as important as the Catholic faith, we deserve absolute clarity, not the weekly game of "what did the Pope mean?" 

Another pope gave us our briefing on Modernism. Nowadays, we cringe at the word "encyclical," because we imagine some long and gaseous opus we won't understand. They didn't use to be that way. That's why you can read Pascendi from St. Pope Pius X in just a few minutes and be much the wiser for it.

The Bear highly recommends it. Every woodland creature must do his part to educate himself and others. We cannot get by with just reacting. We need to be able to articulate our fears and objections.

Remember, only YOU can prevent heresy. Sad commentary, and call to action.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Just An Observation

Judging from St. Corbinian's Bear's stats, it appears that people want to read about something scandalous 10x more than they do about something edifying.

It's a little depressing, because comparatively few people seem to enjoy my better posts. Fortunately, my stats mean nothing, since I'm not advertising anything, and ego considerations are... well, let's just say I'm a Bear, so that's not a problem. But the one about the Pope apparently hiding his cross easily beat out the previous most-viewed article, which was about the hymn that goes "Every heretic I detest..." just a few posts back.

We have found a bear paw mold for goats milk soap, however. Hmm... each piece of soap could be named after the goat who gave the milk. "Ava Soap" could be lilac-scented, for example. I just need two things to go into business. A logo/packaging design, and knowing how to make soap. It would be fun for Missus Bear.

If you don't know what the occasional talk about Zoar is, Zoar is the "little place" in the environs of Sodom and Gomorrah to which Lot and his sex-starved daughters escaped before he made the bad decision to go live in some nearby caves. Zoar represents our haven from the world, in a "crunchy con" sort of way, if you're familiar with ex-Catholic writer Rod Dreher's term.

Rod Dreher became Orthodox. The Bear also had his Orthodox adventure. He needs to tell the story some day. Like he needs to tell the story about how he dropped out of his post-graduate theology studies.

The Bear excels at being a bad example.

Wear Your Crucifix

The Bear wears a crucifix at all times. A lot of Catholics do. But most of the time it is underneath his clothing. Usually, on Sunday, he'll wear it on the outside, even if we go out to eat afterwards. 

When the Bear does not wear it on the outside, he is more likely to be sparing Jesus the indignity of being associated with a Bear. Honestly, any sort of necklace feels awkward to most men. The exceptions would be along the lines of urban youth with bling, or the hipster at the bookstore with a hemp necklace. Old white lawyers just don't wear them.

It's different for women, of course.

But how about we consider making reparation for all indignities suffered by the cross hiding by visibly wearing ours? Perhaps it sounds mortifying. If so why? If one must wear a suit, or a necklace is otherwise inappropriate, how about a small pin? The Bear has a St. Benedict Oblate pin he wears when he must suit up.

Here is an act of reparation for the really ambitious, along with your daily dose of lovely art Saint-Sulpice:

Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before Thee, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which Thy loving Heart is everywhere subject. 
Mindful, alas! that we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask Thy pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation, not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those, who, straying far from the path of salvation, refuse in their obstinate infidelity to follow Thee, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the promises of their baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of Thy law.  
We are now resolved to expiate each and every deplorable outrage committed against Thee; we are now determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in unbecoming dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holydays, and the shocking blasphemies uttered against Thee and Thy Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which Thy Vicar on earth and Thy priests are subjected, for the profanation, by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very Sacrament of Thy Divine Love; and lastly for the public crimes of nations who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast founded.  
Would that we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of Thy divine honor, the satisfaction Thou once made to Thy Eternal Father on the Cross and which Thou continuest to renew daily on our Altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of Thy Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense, as far as we can with the help of Thy grace, for all neglect of Thy great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past. Henceforth, we will live a life of unswerving faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel and especially that of charity. We promise to the best of our power to prevent others from offending Thee and to bring as many as possible to follow Thee.  
O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother, our model in reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by the crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death in our duty and the allegiance we owe to Thee, so that we may all one day come to that happy home, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit Thou livest and reignest, God, forever and ever. Amen. 

Mystery of the Papal Pectoral

What is clear is that there are pictures where Pope Francis has tucked his cross into his sash. The Bear is satisfied this could not happen by accident as a "wardrobe malfunction." Yet there are indeed photos where the cross is not hidden. How that is supposed to erase the photos where he does have the cross hidden is not stated, though.

Why the Pope would hide his cross during some meetings and not others remains a mystery. If indeed he was making a gesture, it would seem to be inconsistent to display it sometimes and not others. Perhaps some situations were deemed more sensitive than others, or some people in the official photo op more squeamish than others. (Since the pope could hardly be hiding his cross for some, then taking it out for others, it remains hidden.)

On the whole, while the Bear thinks it is odd, and believes the "wardrobe  malfunction" argument is ridiculous on its face (he's been Pope a year, surely that would have been sorted out by now; the cross would have to defy the laws of physics to lift itself up and jam itself into the tight sash; no aide to say before a photo op, "Holy Father, your cross") there is no conclusive proof of the original premise, i.e. that it was done out of an unseemly sensitivity.

So, it remains a mystery.

It is, however, mysterious enough to justify commenting, and the conclusions the Bear took away from them are not unreasonable. When we have a pope known for grand gestures that depart from the norm, it is likely that he would show some sort of interfaith sensitivity.

Therefore, in the spirit of innocent until proven guilty and proof beyond  reasonable doubt, the Bear hereby retracts the negative and inflammatory inferences made previously. It will remain a mystery until a reasonable explanation is put forward, but no, "wardrobe malfunction" doesn't cut it here.

The cross is the symbol of our faith. The pope wearing the cross is symbolic. By tucking the cross into his sash, whether because it is an annoyance to him, or out of sensitivity, Pope Francis is creating a public "anti-symbol." Even if it repeatedly happens by accident -- which the Bear doesn't buy for a minute -- the effect would be the same. (And no aide to tell the Pope his cross is tucked in his sash before a formal photo op?)

Pope Benedict with Cross in Sash
So while the motivation is a mystery, the fact is indisputable, and scandalous. Or are we now saying it is okay for the Pope to hide his cross sometimes and leave the faithful to wonder? The Bear thinks what he thinks, but will give the Pope the benefit of public doubt in light of the ambivalent nature of the evidence.

Update: Looks like it is possible the way Pope Benedict wore his pectoral cross to get it into the sash. One can find several pictures of Pope Benedict standing and sitting with his cross inside his sash. Furthermore, there seems to be no discernible motivation for any of these instances. One difference is that Pope Benedict appears to have had his cross attached, not actually suspended from the chain by itself -- you can see the chain hanging from where it is attached in front -- while Pope Francis just lets it hang from a chain. Nonetheless, there is certainly enough evidence to support the claim that Pope Francis did not do it deliberately. Of course, one may still believe it was deliberate, but it would seem that Pope Francis legitimately deserves acquittal on the allegation of scandal. The Bear's private doubts remain, but Bear rhymes with fair, no?

Pope Benedict Arrives in Israel

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

War Story: Everybody vs. Bear

As you might expect from a 1300-year-old Bear, he has many tales. The Pope's trip to Israel recalls one of the more bizarre episodes from his human career, and quite recent.

The Bear -- again, in his human form -- served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps: JAG. He was stationed in Sigonella, Sicily, and was one of a handful of lawyers providing various legal services throughout the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf during and after Operation Desert Storm. 

One memorable trip took him to the Holy Land. It is hard to speak of such things without coming across as "yes, see how cool I am," but it was indeed a wonderful trip.

Lieutenant Bear had a lot of free time on his hands, so he promptly motored into the West Bank in a rental car. It was in Nablus that the natives demonstrated their welcome by the curious custom of throwing large rocks at the Bear's rental while he spent ten minutes making a 27-point turn, back and forth, to extricate himself from a cul de sac in a market. How curious, yet oddly frightening. (You must remember, the Bear was only a puny human, not a Bear at that time.)

After visiting the border with Syria (Israel is very, very small, if you're used to the expanse of the U.S., and it is easy to wind up in places better avoided) the Bear set up shop aboard USS Wasp in Haifa. Wasp is a smaller kind of aircraft carrier built to deliver Marines when Uncle Sam cares enough to send his very best. It's still a very big ship.

Haifa is also at the foot of Mt. Carmel. It has a great USO facility.

The case involved a senseless "wilding" attack on an elderly Jewish woman in Haifa. The Bear was remarkably successful with such an unpromising set of facts, which did not go unnoticed in the Israeli government. The C130 that was sent to retrieve Lieutenant Bear was refused landing in Israel. He finally flew out on Alitalia, which was much nicer than a C130 anyway.

Later, when Lieutenant Bear wanted to return to Israel, the U.S. State Department said poor old JAG Bear was persona non grata, er, ursus non gratus in that country.

The legal joke was that the preliminary hearing was held not in Israel, but Valencia Spain. Yes, I know, tough duty, huh? The Bear traveled to the following countries on this one case:
  • Israel (Haifa)
  • Greece (Hania, Crete)
  • Italy (Naples)
  • France (Marseilles)
  • Spain (Valencia)
And he got a nice Mediterranean cruise until the Captain got tried of him and put him on a helicopter as soon as we were within range of Sigonella, sending his bags later. 

Yes, he got kicked out of Israel, then thrown off USS Wasp. That's a Bear for you.

Anyway, when they held the preliminary hearing (called an Article 32) in Valencia, the Bear kept requesting witnesses. The requests, of course, were denied due to the distance involved, as he knew they would be. Fast-forward months later, on the eve of trial, the military judge was hearing a number of motions, including the Bear's motion to reopen the Article 32 because the government denied all his witness requests.

The prosecutor argued he didn't have to bring my witnesses to testify because Valencia, Spain was way too far from Haifa, Israel. The judge asked him who decided to have the Article 32 in Valencia, instead of Haifa?

And so ended the Bear's famous Five Country Case, because the prosecutor had the choice of going back to square one and reopening the Article 32 in Haifa -- from which the defense counsel was barred, remember -- or agreeing to a ridiculously favorable deal in return for a guilty plea.

The Holy Land is a wonderful place, though. Surprisingly, there are places that are easy to imagine as they were in Our Savior's time.

Pope Reminds Jews They Crucified Christ

UPDATE V: Since posting this, readers have questioned whether this was a deliberate gesture. After finding pictures of Pope Benedict with his pectoral cross inside his sash -- including one upon arrival in Israel -- the Bear cannot make a conclusive claim that this was, in fact, a gesture on the part of Pope Francis. The pictures are there for you to make up your own mind. From video, one may see some of the assembled bishops also have their pectoral crosses tucked in their sashes, others do not.

The take-away message for us is (a) to sort out things thoroughly, unless we just want to run an agitprop blog (which the Bear emphatically does not); (b) to examine ourselves to see if we are not hypervigilant when it comes to Pope Francis; and (c) to put our money where are mouths are by WEARING OUR CRUCIFIXES IN PUBLIC. It is harder for most guys. It is really hard when you wear a suit and tie most days. Nonetheless, the Bear pledges to wear his crucifix exposed when he is not formally attired.

Res ipsa loquitur

"Francis! Put that thing away!"

"For he that shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: the Son of man also will be ashamed of him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Mk 8:38

"But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven." Mt 10:33

"And Jesus saith to him: Amen I say to thee, to-day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice." Mk 14:30

"But Peter seeing, made answer to the people: Ye men of Israel, why wonder you at this? Or why look you upon us, as if by our strength or power we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom you indeed delivered up and denied before the face of Pilate, when he judged he should be released. But you denied the Holy One and the Just: and desired a murderer to be granted unto you. But the author of life you killed." Ac 3:12–15

"If we deny him, he will also deny us." 2 Ti 2:12

"Having an appearance indeed of godliness but denying the power thereof." 2 Ti 3:5


This makes the Bear very, very angry. He's the Pope. If Israel receives the Pope into their country, they must bear with the insignia and symbols of the Vicar of Christ. It is unconscionable for a Pope to hide his cross. Pope Francis should be ashamed, no matter what the diplomatic niceties or all-important courtesies suggested.

Once again, Francis the man tries to send one message, and the voice of Peter rings out, just as it did in the the book of Acts. Francis hides the crucified Christ out of politeness, which is the shibboleth of the Lord of the World. However, Peter once again reminds the world that the ancestors of the Jews demanded that Pilate crucify their Messiah, and even today they cannot bear to see the Crucified One, even in representation, because it pricks their conscience.

The Bear would never say that, and it is quite a surprise for Pope Francis to send that message, even inadvertently, but one cannot read anything else into it. One hides what gives offense. What is it about a crucifix that might give offense to Jews?

This is a very bad message to send: very non-interfaith, very insensitive, and very impolite to his hosts. The Bear would never suggest such a thing, because he doesn't want his blog to be blacklisted by the Southern Poverty Law Center. But we have a Pope who cannot help but prophesy truly, just as Caiaphas did, because he was high priest when Jesus was condemned by the Jews, Caiaphas saying that it was better for one man to die for the people. Francis peeps one message, the raucous voice of the fisherman shouts another.

Update: St. Louis Catholic wonders if it is a "wardrobe malfunction." Answer: no.

In January, Pope Francis met with rabbis at the Vatican, and he similarly hid Christ's image. This seems to be a thing of his.

But the Bear wishes to reiterate how offensive and hurtful the well-meaning gesture is. He should give his guests or hosts credit for knowing that he is, after all, the head of the Catholic Church, whose symbol par excellance is the cross, even the crucifix. Is he saying that they are so fanatical that they, like vampires, cannot bear the sight of a cross? Or that they would feel guilty or something, so that he has to spare them?

How very wrong of the Pope. Sometimes you bend over backward trying not to call attention to something, but in doing so, you might as well put up a sign. Jews are a tough and noble people, certainly big enough to permit the Pope to wear a cross in their presence.

Anyway, the wardrobe malfunction theory is implausible, since the cross would have to be lifted and tucked into a tight cummberbund. This is not something that happens by accident.

Update II: Some are failing to find pictures of Pope Francis hiding his cross before. Here is a picture from the Vatican meeting mentioned in the previous update:

There are also pictures of the cross exposed at the same meeting. Perhaps here, Pope Francis has tucked his cross into his sash so it doesn't bang against the table or get dragged through his entree. Image found at the blog "Call me Jorge," which also has an additional picture (below) from the recent meeting (emphasis in original). Look at the pictures and decide for yourself if they look like the very same deliberate act, or an accident.

Here is a picture from the same blog of from his days in Argentina, where it seems to be the style. Perhaps both clerics were involved in a roll-over accident on the way and did not put themselves quite back together before this meeting?

Under the best-case excuse, is there not also a danger of scandalizing the faithful, who may conclude that Pope Francis is hiding his pectoral cross so as not to offend the sensibilities of those who he thinks might be offended? After all, it is kind of a big deal to hid one's crucifix. The Bear feels guilty when he doesn't wear his outside of his clothing. What if the president visited a foreign power with whom relations were historically strained, and did not have the national anthem played, or the flag displayed. Wouldn't that seem weird, and even offensive?

Anyway, perhaps some other blogger with far greater knowledge and readership than a dumb old Bear will come along and prove that, why, ALL clerics tuck their pectoral crosses into their sashes because one time Pope Pius XII made a sudden move and a small child's eye was put out.


Update III: This is an easy article to play that "Trads going nuts!!!" card on. (They have extra-large sleeves to keep all of them in, but surely they are running out by now, no?) "HOW could they POSSIBLY believe that Pope Francis, a model of decorum and adherence to tradition, could hide his cross as as gesture of good-will or apology to anyone?"

First off, the Bear is not a Trad. He's just a regular old Novus Ordo type who has been to one Latin Mass in his entire life.

And, to be fair to Pope Francis, there are times on the visit where the cross is worn exposed, and times when it is tucked out of sight into his sash. 

But here's the nearest secular analogy the Bear can come up with. You go to a bar, and your wife happens to walk in as you're chatting up a woman. She notices your wedding ring is missing. You say, "Honey, it slipped off my finger! Here it is, right in my pocket!" And let's further say it wasn't the first time.

Now your wife might believe you. Or she might not. I'll leave the answer to the ladies. I'm just a dumb old Bear.

Update IV: Moslem holy place, Dome of the Rock. Now you see it, now you don't. Accident? (There are other photos where it is visible.) Why is this pectoral jiggery-pokery relevant? Because we fear we have a pope who is capable of putting interfaith relations above respect for Jesus.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cats of Chrysolite

Since the Bear posted Faith and Risk the other day, he has been thinking about faith in general, and how our faith can seem overwhelmed by the world around us.

There's our first mistake: life only seems ordinary, because we are doubly blind: we see too much and not enough. It is beyond dispute that the universe is so full of the extraordinary it is properly called ordinary. The Book of Revelation talks about a city made of jewels and paved with gold. In a sense, we already live in that city. Our cats are chrysolite, our spoons are sapphire, and our goldfish really are made of gold.

Your body alone is a marvel of unexplained tricks from consciousness right down to the incredible cascade of events that clots the blood just where you cut yourself shaving this morning. We can't see the forest for the nymphs.

But let's say the everyday miracles the Bear alludes to aren't anything special at all, really. Just a fortuitous interplay of molecules in time and space. If we concede that 99.99% of the world around us is entirely naturalistic in origin and function, materialism still has to worry about a single, tiny trace of the supernatural somewhere in the cosmos. The spotless machine must really be literally spotless. because the fingerprint of the tiniest angel on a pebble on the most remote moon on the edge of space sabotages all of the fond certainties of materialists.

Out of a thousand of pious legends, one real miracle scuttles materialism.

The Plausibility of Christianity

If the "converging and convincing arguments" alluded to in the previous article introduce the slightest stir of doubt about materialism, there's more.

Once we concede the possibility of the supernatural, if only as something to be toyed with, anything is possible. More to the point, Christianity -- once we feel that mote of the supernatural irritating our jaundiced eye -- becomes not only possible, but plausible.
  • If there is a god, he may have created the universe
  • If he created the universe, its fine-tuning for life is understandable
  • If the universe is fine-tuned for life, it is possible he cares for us
  • If he cares for us, we must share some qualities, since we care for others, too
  • further, there is no reason not to extend that care to intervention in our history and lives
Of course, this does not prove anything. That's not what the Bear is up to. But, having admitted that speck of the supernatural, there is no principled reason to reject Christianity. In fact, of all religions, Christianity is the one rooted in historical miracles, particularly the great one of the resurrection.

Christianity is very logical, once the simple premise that there is a God is introduced. Those doubts we have are based not on logic, but on fear, fear that we may be deluded. That's natural. We tend to fear the loss of things that are important to us, but often, if not usually, those fears are not based in reality. In fact, if we admit the supernatural, there is no principled reason to reject supernatural adversaries, who may contribute to those fears and doubts, and much more besides.

Scientism and Militant Atheism

Of course, our faith in this post-Christian era is assaulted in ways our ancestors didn't have to face.
  • militant atheism
  • a hostile material culture
  • popular scientific materialism (e.g. "Darwinism")
  • college professors who attack the faith of poorly-prepared young students
Increasingly, the Christian must swim against the current of his age, when for centuries, he could float serenely downstream with it. 

There are a few things to keep in mind, however.

Both the popular press and scientific journals are guilty of overselling their claims. Even if you believe every news story that begins with "Scientists say..." science -- real science -- has its difficulties, too. The "hard problem of consciousness" and unacknowledged cracks in the foundation of Darwinism to name but two. (The Bear does not believe any story that begins with "Scientists say..." He's sure to be right more that he's wrong that way, and he knows that neither grants nor bylines are won by "Scientists fail" stories.

The arguments of the "New Atheists" are nothing the Church hasn't seen before. They are not more palatable for having been reheated and served up by some -- frankly -- rather obnoxious spokesmen. Still worse is the pathetic atheist agitprop one sees online. The Flying Spaghetti Monster? A picture of Jesus with the caption "because believing in the Easter Bunny would be silly?" This is what passes for serious thought in the atheist community. It is pathetic, and its existence should not trouble Christians. The village crackpot with a degree or an internet connection is still the village crackpot.

Calling the Devil's Bluff

Catholicism is a very logical religion. St. Thomas Aquinas is as relevant today as he ever was. We are not called to fideism, but a mature belief. 

St. Paul's warning to the Colossians about false philosophies is as relevant today as when it was written.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Col 2:8). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

The One True Faith is as relevant, appealing and satisfying as it ever was. Do not let your faith be overwhelmed by a hostile world. We have good cards but Lord of the World is an excellent bluffer. Only God knows what the hole card is, but the Bear is betting everything that it's a winner.

California Killer

Update: Autism?

One must not try to score points off senseless tragedies, such as the opponents of gun ownership do every time there is a shooting. Nonetheless, at some point the killer's confessed motivation must be considered. Here is what his message said, in part, according to MSNBC.
"I'm 22 years old, and I'm still a virgin. I've never even kissed a girl," Rodger says 
"College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years, I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair.  
"If I can't have you girls, I will destroy you," he says, sometimes laughing at his own audacity. Afterward, he promises, "I will take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there."  
"You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one — the true alpha male," he boasts. 
The Bear will not try to read too much into this, because you never know when it comes to mentally unbalanced persons. One should not assume he had the insight to know what demons he was really wrestling with. The cultural commentary is on the face of it, if you wish to go there. Ultimately, he was in misery, and wanted to wash it away with the blood of innocent people.

Sometimes believing in the demonic makes so much sense.

A good young Catholic man would feel the same temptations, but would not see them as "unfair." He would not feel a sense of entitlement toward the young women he encountered, our good young Catholic man. Well-formed young men are chivalrous -- yes, still. He would know enough about vainglory to beware of the urge to be "the superior one," and if he was particularly knowledgeable, he might even know that the Church considers Pride a capital sin (not to mention Lust), and recall the story of Lucifer.

Are there no evil, demented Catholics? Of course there are. But the Catholic stream runs in the other direction. The culture of the West has left its course, and carries all sorts of evil with its current.

Update: Autism?

There are reports that the killer was afflicted with autism spectrum disorder, although he would seem to be rather high functioning. If this were true, the social awkwardness characteristic of autism could certainly be socially isolating.

If a mental condition can be linked to violent crime, the Bear has probably made the connection in one case or another. In criminal defense, you play the cards you're dealt. You also play the cards you happen to find up your sleeve. (No, the Bear is not making any admissions; he doesn't know how they get there.) The Bear has experience with autism in a capital case, which was, in fact, turned into a non-capital case due to autism and some inventive maneuvering among laws.

People with autism are not violent per se. Any time a person is not well-functioning in society, however, it is not a healthy situation. Could a sense of social isolation and hopelessness manifest in homicidal behavior? The Bear suspects it is possible, but it would be wrong to say "this is because of autism."

Autism is very controversial. It is an epidemic nowadays. Are kids different from how they were in the 50s or 60s? The Bear suspects they probably are, but also suspects the DSM5 covers a multitude of sins.

Guns, autism, anything but a culture that despises virtue and rewards grand homicidal gestures.

Meanwhile, 160 were killed recently in Nigeria, and a few more today, by Boko Haram Islamanics. Culture matters.

Friday, May 23, 2014

New Goat!

Update: New Picture of Ava being a bottle baby.

Her real name is Ava.

"I LOVE my new home."

This is Ava. We got her yesterday. (No, our goats don't live in the house.) She is Saanen Swiss and Nubian cross, which are both dairy goats. She may give up to nine pounds of milk a day.

She is completely in love with my son, and follows him wherever he goes, and bleats loudly if he gets out of sight. Ava's a very leggy girl. She's a bottle baby, and gets fed from an oversize baby bottle twice a day. She wags her tail vigorously at feeding time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Saint's Hymn You Will Never Sing: "Every heretic I detest..."

The Franciscan Tour of the Holy Land 2014

The Three Great
Abrahamic Religions!
As you probably know, Pope Francis' Rainbow Tour of the Holy Land has come amidst news of failing health, tagalong representatives of the other two members of The Three Great Abrahamic Religions™ and some folderol involving the Ecumenical Patriarch, the closest thing the Orthodox have to a Pope since they walked out on the real one (and he's not very close).

For a few days, we shall be one big happy family of Chrislemews, provided, of course, the lems don't blow up anybody, the ews dont raze any houses, and the Orthodox don't fission on live TV. Since this is the kind of press you can't buy, one hopes everyone will be on their best behavior.

To show you how far the Catholic Church has come -- coincidentally with its decline to a Third World curiosity -- here is a stanza from a hymn written by a great Marian saint, perhaps the greatest, St. Louis de Montfort. In it "Faith" says:

Every heretic I detest,
The pagan, Turk, and the Jew,
The scismatic and the apostate,
Only the Catholic is my good.

The Pope is the Message

Of course, today we cannot endorse such sentiments. To quote the great Catholic theologian John Wayne from the movie McClintock, "I won't."

But if you watch any of the coverage, turn the volume all the way down. Then you will see the reality. Representatives of other major religions for a moment relevant only because of the man they are standing next to, the successor of Peter, the Pope of Rome, Francis. That's not the message Pope Francis' wants to send, but he can't help it. The medium is not the message, and the message is not the message. The Pope himself is the message.

This papacy could be described as one good man's desperate attempt to run away from Peter, but -- unlike the race to the empty tomb with John -- Peter is easily the faster.

The Scandal of Ecumenism

The stark truth is that the Catholic Church does not need any of these people. It is complete, the body of Christ. The others, however, desperately need the Catholic Church.

In fact, there is nothing more important to them. Not the State of Israel, not the Palestinian State, not keeping the Christian treasure of Hagia Sophia from being turned into a mosque, and -- because surely a Protestant or two is along for the ride -- not whatever Protestants would find most important if they ever agreed on anything. Until they cease to be what they are and become Catholic, their salvation depends upon the slenderest of technicalities in the gaseous language of Lumen Gentium.

Ecumenism does nobody any favors. Say you have a friend with a deadly, but treatable illness. Unfortunately, he continues going to a faith healer even as his health declines toward inevitable death. Instead of encouraging him to get real medical treatment, you praise the quack and do everything you can to stop others from telling him the simple truth that unless he goes to a real physician he's going to die. "Shhh! Don't be impolite!" you hiss at your friends.

Why would you do this? Perhaps you really are more afraid of appearing impolite than seeing your friend die a preventable death. Perhaps you have concluded, like your friend, that medical science isn't what it's cracked up to be. Perhaps you have some noble scheme that will be furthered by your friend's lamentable death. The Bear has long suspected there are elements of each of these in the ecumenical and inter-faith Catholic push.

The Bear said the Catholic Church does not need other religions. But the Bear doth not wax polemical at their adherents. They are brothers and sisters trapped below decks in a sinking ship. It is enough to make even a Bear's heart break to watch Catholic prelates and opinion leaders standing on the deck of the unsinkable Barque of Peter, cocktails in hand, waving politely as the screws and fantail of the non-Catholic Titanic slowly slide beneath the waves.

Truth is a Hell of an iceberg.

Don't forget to watch the clip. The Bear won't sing St. Louis de Montfort's hymn.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Faith and Risk

It occurs to the Bear that baptism by a good old-fashioned dunking is a perfect representation of Faith. A jump into deep water from the high dive. Once I was dry, but now I am wet, was blind, but now can see. Once you jump, you can't stay suspended in the air. You're committed.

A Snail Crawling On the Edge of a Razor

In the movie Apocalypse Now, the maddeningly sane Colonel Kurtz broadcasts a message about a snail on the edge of a razor blade. This is, at least for the Bear, a better description of the either-or proposition of faith than the common notion of "struggling." There are few difficulties and no doubts at all, only let the snail stay cleanly on the razor's edge.

Another image is the charmed circle. As long as you're in the charmed circle of faith, you're safe. Step outside, though, and the whole thing: the Church, apparitions, miracles, angels, devils, Heaven, and Hell, and all the rest look utterly ridiculous. It dissolves like the dew before the sun of reason and common sense.

The Bear has sympathy for those on the outside who can't even imagine what it is like to believe. If you look just at the faith, it does run counter to ordinary expectations. We simply don't see showy miracles like seas parting, virgins don't get pregnant, and no one ever comes back from the dead.

Converging and Convincing Arguments

But if you turn away from the faith and look at the world, it is no less mysterious. There are what St. Teresa of Avila called "lovers games," the flashes of divine inspiration, to which the Bear would add odd coincidences, intuitions and hard-to-explain experiences. Not to mention a whole universe popping out of nothing, and birds and bees performing unexplainable feats.

Then there is the one who marvels at all of this -- and if his head is on straight he cannot help but marveling -- the greatest marvel of them all: a conscious and curious observer capable of a sense of wonder.

So, taking it all together, this fine-tuned cosmos, and a Creator God, each sheds light on the other. "Converging and convincing arguments" is the elegant phrase the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses (31). Either fideism or materialism are unsatisfying. But put them together, and you have a glory of truth.

Risks of Trust

This leads to a related thought. The Bear suspects the most argumentative among both materialists and believers are the weakest in their faiths. As long as they keep their nose buried in Darwin and St. Paul, respectively, they don't have to really look at the world as it is. 

The Bear has sometimes wondered if we Catholics don't become addicted to the dramas within the Church because it is a very comfortable place where we need never be challenged. After all, Puppet Masses do not pose a close question. We can be 100% sure of our ground. It feels good to be right. We like blogs that validate what least needs validation: our certainty that we're right.

And this is not to say we're not right. It is only to wonder why we keep beating dead horses week after week, long after they are well-tenderized. Yes, the Bear is being introspective again. Could it mean our faith is not all it could be, and we need to take more risks of trust?

The Peaceable Kingdom

How many goats can you find?

Sunday brunch at Zoar. Quite a dorsal stripe on Bramble, whose head is out of sight and buried in goat chow. Blanquette looks like she's not shy when it comes to vittles, either.

Looks like Blanquette has staked out a claim.

Blanquette begs to be picked up.

Jane the rooster in mid-crow -- don't ask.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mr. Bear Goes to the Doctor

Bruno, Bavaria's Last Bear (killed 2006)

Today the Bear visited the itinerant sawbones who sets up at the edge of the Woodlands. The Bear endured the usual litany of his lifestyle sins.  Apparently some people consider "I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse," merely a picturesque expression. The doctor made it clear that the visit was a tragic waste of his valuable time. Without question, the Bear is a lost cause as far as the medical arts are concerned, fit only to be stuffed and displayed in some humiliating pose next to Bruno in the Bavarian Museum of Man and Nature.

Perhaps sitting at a computer, gnawing on a horse's leg.

When, for a second time in a fortnight, the Healthy Weight Chart was shoved in front of his nose, the Bear snapped the doctor's hand off neat as a pretzel stick. What the Bear really means is that he distracted himself with a fantasy. What if the Bear treated his clients like doctors treat their patients?

Wavy dissolve to Bear in his office, seated with a nervous criminal.

Bear:  "You know, you have quite a criminal history."

Criminal:  "Ya think? But not all of those are convictions."

Bear:  "Yes, well, I think I know the problem."

Criminal:  "What?"

Bear:  "You're a criminal."

Criminal:  "Do you think I don't know that? My dialogue is even identified by the word, 'criminal.'"

Bear:  "Here. Let's go over your criminal history in detail. Because the most important thing right now is to establish that you are entirely to blame for your problems. Let's just start with these juvenile records--"

Criminal:  "Look. I know all that. But what about now? What are we going to do about my case? I thought you were a lawyer."

Bear:  "--and at age 15, you stole 27 Lions Pancake Day signs.  I mean, who does that?"

Criminal:  "I don't care! Just stop. We're not talking about pancake signs. I'm charged with attempted murder!'

Bear:  "Yes, I'm seeing a pattern. You're not one to finish what you start. You're going to have to make some changes."

Criminal:  "No, you're going to have to defend me. That's the way this works. What, you only defend innocent people?"

Bear:  "Well, as a matter of fact, yes. Innocent people are so much easier. There' s hardly any real evidence against them, usually. I much prefer them to criminals. Criminals -- no offense -- make me work, and they're not usually pleasant to be around."

Criminal:  "And you call yourself a criminal defense lawyer? That's as stupid as a doctor who only wants to see people who aren't sick."

Bear:  "Whoa, look at you get mad! Pretty obvious where those aggravated battery convictions come from. Anyway, back to this criminal history, because, after all, that is so much more important than what brings you here today. It really makes me feel superior to point out other people's foibles."

Criminal:  "I don't have time for this garbage."

Bear:  "Fine, then, have it your way. We won't talk about the past."

Criminal:  "Finally."

Bear:  "Let's talk about coping with spending the rest of your life in prison."

Criminal:  "You're not even going to try to help me, are you?"

Bear:  "Of course I am!  Insight into the way you've totally screwed up your life and have no hope whatsoever can be very valuable! And it requires nothing more than a smug attitude from me!" Bear starts laughing maniacally as criminal begins to weep.

Wavy dissolve back to doctor's office.

Bear sees doctor, on floor, face down in a pool of blood; there is a jawbone in the Bear's paw.

Wavy dissolve from brief violent fantasy back to doctor's office. Really.

Doctor:  "So, we're going to get you set up with a nutrition and exercise program."

Bear:  "Thank you so much, doctor! Please, I beg of you, allow me to leave my cane as an ex voto as I crawl out of your office. Who knew that everything that ails a bear can be cured with good old fashioned clean living! Deteriorating joints, crippling pain, hippophagy, yes, it's all so clear to me now. I deserve this suffering!"

And they say the Puritans all died off. Not at all. They just went to medical school so they can continue to work their killjoy zeal against the reprobate. The Bear prefers Belloc's poem:

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Franciscan Flu

Outliving One's Parents

One expects to outlive one's parents. Indeed it is counted a tragedy for a parent to outlive their children. The first anniversary of my mother's death passed without comment on January 23.

Aside from not being Catholic, her death was such to make a person envious. Painless, peaceful, with her son reading her favorite psalm -- Psalm 91. She recited it every night before she went to sleep. Before she passed away there came a point where the only words she could say were "upon this rock." Perhaps she was signifying her desire to die with Peter.

There is another way to outlive a parent, however. My dad lived to be 56, a mark I recently passed. He died suddenly, without warning. He was a good man who delighted in helping other people. I was 19 years old. I had just been promoted to SGT at Defense Language Institute, where I was back for more Arabic training. In fact that was the last conversation I had with him.

I had always figured 56 was a ripe old age, and felt that my internal doomsday clock was set for the same year. As 57 nears, I think two things, three do I consider.

On Nearing 57

The age of 56 is by no means as old as I once imagined. I think of clients who will be going to prison until they are 35 and wailing that their lives will be over. I always get a mordant chuckle out of that.

I am not likely to go anywhere soon. In theory, I could be elected pope twenty years from now, and have an important and demanding job. The "sell by date" feeling needs adjustment. I need to become forward-looking again.

On the other hand, the fifties are a dangerous decade. A man hasn't quite outlived the more common causes of death, especially sudden death that become rarer in later decades. There's a new sense of urgency in spiritual matters. We all need to be ready, but 56-year-old men perhaps more ready than most.

I have been spiritually ravenous. Lent seems to have carried over for once. The good habits -- some of them -- seem to have stuck. There is a sense of perspective about things, especially about controversies.

Buenos Aires Ennui

I was reading St. Louis de Montfort last night. The Church in France was in terrible shape at the end of the late 17th -- early 18th centuries. I am not going to play the "the Church has always been in a mess" card, because I do not believe we have ever seen a heresy sweep the field as thoroughly from the very top to the bottom as Modernism has. But there is some truth to it. The Church has never been cared for as well as those who love her best want. The most ardent have often had to settle.

Those of a similar age to the Bear's current human incarnation have seen what can only be called a palace coup. Most Catholics cannot remember pre-Vatican II days. How can we so long for that we have never known? There is a holy instinct, I believe, at work. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has marked a remnant.

I don't think, however, the Holy Spirit wants us to constantly stoke the fires of indignation that power the element of the Catholic blogosphere to which St. Corbinian's Bear belongs because it doesn't fit anywhere else. Indignation is a valuable commodity because there is an insatiable market for it these days

We should comment occasionally, but it is, frankly, lazy to run a blog like that. The easiest thing in the world is to check out the Vatican website and write about Pope Francis' latest bizarro comment. Is there anyone reading this that hasn't heard it all before?

We never know how much time we have left. The Bear will comment on new developments, but somehow he has to get out of the Pope Francis Rut. And he's not just talking about the blog. What do you think? Do you suffer from a case of the Franciscan Flu? Argentinian Ague? Buenos Aires Ennui?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Just Another Day in Zoar

Zoar, where men are men and goats are clothing.

Perhaps you have wondered about Zoar, the land that abuts the Woods, toward which you sometimes catch the Bear ambling before he disappears for weeks at a time.

Here is the Bear in his human form, along with his faithful driver, bodyguard, and factotum, Red Death. Just another misty day among the goats and crags of Zoar, where we carry livestock around and such.

IN OTHER NEWS, the Bear recently posted about divorce and remarriage being a "reverse Trojan Horse." If the meaning wasn't clear, besides the issues at hand, there is the Synod itself, which is a threat. Bishops should care for their own sees. It is bad enough that we have parasitic bodies like the USCCB sucking the money and life from the Church in America. We sure don't need bishops to organize in national voting blocks for routine synods.

If the Church needs instruction, that is in the Pope's job description. If we need a Council to deal with some great controversy, then fine (although after the last one, maybe not so fine). Synods may become the smiling face of heresy.

Why the End of the Church As We Know It Is Inevitable

O'Sullvan's Law is as close to prophetic as worldly wisdom can be.

John O'Sullivan is a conservative journalist who has been involved with, among other enterprises, National Review. He is most famous, however, for one short, easy-to-understand sentence that has become known as O'Sullivan's Law.

"All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing."

The popes of the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th intuited this law, or, more likely, were inspired by the Holy Spirit when they began to mobilize the Church against a new heresy. This heresy came to be known as Modernism. This is not the first time the Bear has written about Modernism. You can read about it here.

Modernism is the "synthesis of all heresies," according to St. Pope Pius X. The mother of all heresies, according to the Bear.

Once an organization ceases to be fundamentally and actively conservative, it is simply a matter of flipping the switches in the machinery of that organization from "conservative" to "liberal," one by one. Large organizations take time, but it is as inevitable as death.

Once the Church started to turn her face away from heaven and toward the world  -- and, sad to say, every day brings new evidence that this is happening -- it is just a matter of time. The faithful are like heirs living off the dwindling legacy from their ancestors. Once they were rich, but now they are just keeping up appearances, and, soon, even that will be too much. Their hopes are pathetically small: a mass without too much impiety; keeping perhaps one of their children in the Church; a pope who doesn't upset them more than once or twice a month.

To use a biblical metaphor, they are straining to hear the shepherd's voice, but there are only fading echoes.

Sooner or later, a crisis will reveal what people have known in their hearts all along: the unthinkable has happened. The Church of the West is no more.

But what about the "gates of hell not prevailing" against the Church? "Gates" never came after anybody. The Church should be minding her own gates and not worrying about an external threat. You don't march against the enemy's gates (the more probable meaning of the saying) until you have disposed of the Fifth Column in your capital.

So what happens then? The Bear doesn't know. Maybe he'll go all Jeremiah, if that's what God wants. He'll probably hang on to illusions and let his children and grandchildren deal with it. Boomers did not make this problem, but they didn't fix it, either, although the Bear doesn't know what they could have done. Hindsight is 20/20, and who could have envisioned the Church of the 50s being demolished in a few short decades?

O'Sullivan's Law was written for secular institutions. Perhaps it will not apply to the Church. Perhaps we have looked into the abyss and all but the most evil-hearted and cowardly will shrink back and throw the pirates off the Barque of Peter. More likely, something will happen that will force a decision while the pirates remain in control. The post-Christian era will become the post-Church era. The Bear doesn't know how or when that will happen, or what he will do, but he has faith that when the time comes for action, we will all know beyond a doubt.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pope Francis Will Baptize ET

Pope Francis said he would baptize an extraterrestrial. This fits in with the New Evangelization. If someone comes knocking on the church door, we'll welcome him. But we're not allowed to go, say, door-to-door, lest we proselytize.

Even so, this is a positive development. Mean old Pope Benedict never said he'd baptize aliens.

The Trojan Synod

The soldiers of Modernism, proclaiming communion for divorced and remarried, mounted their wooden horse, named "Synod," while others pushed the giant wooden beast, crawling with cackling cardinals and bishops into the Holy City. "Heigh Ho, Synod!" cried Cardinal Kasper while the Pope looked on benignly.

The woodland creatures, watching from the Big Hill of the Forest, were dismayed as the prelates leaped off of the horse in their companies, followed by artists and chroniclers to record the coup.

"They're not going to change anything," said the Bear.

"But look, they've been preparing for months! They've gotten inside," cried the Badger.

The Bear just shrugged and ambled away to find something to eat.

Lo and behold, by the end of the Synod, nothing had changed.

"Hoorah!" shouted the Beaver. "You were right! Nothing has been changed! Everything is just as it was before."

The Bear rumphed deeply, and ambled away to find something to eat. That night, he returned to the Big Hill and stared down at the Holy City. There the moonlight revealed, abandoned and unnoticed, the horse. The Bear shook his head and ambled away on his solitary nightly patrol. For the kind woodland creatures were no match for their clever enemies.

Homosexuality for Dummies

The Bear believes the Church, especially the clear teachings before Vatican II, but also those, even as he struggles with them (like most Catholics). He also believes that Holy Scripture is inspired and is a reliable guide as interpreted by the Church. That is because that's what the Church teaches.

The Church teaches homosexual acts are seriously sinful. The Bible says the same. This has always been the teaching of the Church.

If anyone says homosexual acts are not sinful, that gay marriage is a good thing, they are contradicting firmly established Church teaching and inspired Scripture. They present a danger to souls.

Therefore, the Bear will call them out.

Here is something that liberals can understand.

If the Bear made a statement, "All redheads are half-human parasites that should be shipped out of the country," a liberal would spring at the Bear with words like "bigot" and "hateful," and start wailing about judging, etc. [Note: actually, "redheads" are not a Recognized Victim Group, so they wouldn't really do that. They only get tolerance points for RVGs.]

And they would be right.

Sometimes it doesn't take much of a sample to know the whole sandwich is spoiled.

That's how the Bear knows that someone who contradicts well established Church moral teaching is in trouble with their concept of the Church. There are many other belief systems they could join other than the Church. But the Church says, (a) you don't get to make up your own moral theology; (b) you are not always safe following the world's beliefs; and (c) you must accept the Church's moral teachings.

There is nothing difficult to understand. If there were no clear moral teachings from the Church on homosexuality, the Bear couldn't care less. But it so happens that there are.

The Bear's natural inclination is to live and let live. He bears no animus against homosexuals. But his moral life does not stop at the end of his cute snuffly nose. He is docile to the Church's teaching on moral matters. That is why he shrugs and must follow the Church's lead on this.

Again, this is not difficult. It is not a close question, or something reasonable Catholics may disagree about. Once you espouse the Cause of Homosexuality, you have stepped outside the Church's charmed circle of safety. You are imperiling souls by celebrating serious sin for which they may go to Hell. And God only knows what you will do or say next.

The real question is this:

Why is liberals' need to feel socially superior by holding to so-called "correct" views taught by the Prince of this world greater than their compassion for brothers and sisters who are trapped in sin and at risk of Hell?

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:14.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Butt the Pope!

Pope Francis had some interesting Mother's Day comments before the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter's Square. (Via Rorate Caeli.) Reminder: the definition of importune is, "to press or urge with troublesome persistence."
When the calf is hungry, he goes to the cow, to the mother, to get milk. The cow, however, does not immediately give it to him: it seems that she is keeping it for herself. And what does the calf do? He knocks against the cow’s udder with his head so that the milk comes out. It is a beautiful image! “So you too,” the saint says, “must be like this with the shepherds. Always knock at their door, at their heart, so that they give you the milk of doctrine, the milk of grace and the milk of leadership.” And I ask you, please, to importune the shepherds, to disturb them, all of us shepherds, so that we can give you the milk of grace, of doctrine and of leadership. Importune [us]! Think of that beautiful image of that calf, how he importunes the mother so that she gives him something to eat.
The Bear can tell you this is the way of goats, too. They butt mama's udder. It is not a gentle nudge. Say what you will about Pope Francis, but he does not act like some perfect, ethereal being floating in a realm beyond complaint. If his persona is equal to the man, he is engaging us. He can not only take it, he wants it.

Are you a hungry calf? A hungry kid? Then you have the right, the license to butt -- with all due respect -- your priest, your bishop, and even the bishop of Rome. After all, he was the one Jesus told, "Feed my sheep."

Blanquette says, "Fill 'er up! And with the GOOD stuff!"

A Present From the Bear

Here is a 1920 x 1080 desktop for you. It is the medal of St. Benedict. Hopefully, you can click on it and save it full-size. It is a color inked design of the famous Jubilee Medal of St. Benedict with the prayer from the medal in Latin below.

The C, S, P, B stand for Holy Cross of Father Benedict

Around the edge, the letters stand for:

Get thee behind me Satan
Never suggest vain thoughts to me
The cup you offer is evil
Drink the poison your self

The cross is, in the vertical:

Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux 

And in the horizontal:

Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux

Which means, respectively: The sacred cross is my light: Let the serpent not be my leader.

The origin of the design are clouded in mystery, but it became known when the Benedictine abbey at Monte Cassino  struck it to celebrate St. Benedict in 1880. It is therefore known as the Jubilee Medal of St. Benedict.

It is considered to be a very powerful sacramental. St. Benedict was blessed with a peaceful death, and his intercession is requested for that purpose. There are also a number of traditional benefits.

  1. It wards off from both the soul and the body all dangers arising from the devil.
  2. The Medal is powerful in obtaining for sinners the grace of conversion.
  3. It obtains protection and aid for persons tormented by the evil spirit, and in temptations against holy purity.
  4. It procures assistance in the hour of death.
  5. It has often proved an efficacious remedy for bodily sufferings, and a means of protection against contagious diseases.
  6. Expectant mothers have obtained special assistance for a safe delivery.
  7. In time of storms, tempests and other dangers on land and sea it has been found to be a protection.
  8. Even domestic animals have been visibly aided by it when infected with disease.

It is customary to warn people about the superstitious misuse of sacramentals, to which the Bear says whatever. It is what it is, and it helps the Bear, and it might help you. Obviously all good flows from God, but it has pleased His Majesty to employ humble means such as people, medals and bears to cooperate in doing his will.

Many miraculous stories are told of St. Benedict. St. Benedict's holiness aroused the ire of folks that tried to poison him. A small group of monks asked the saintly hermit to be their Abbot, and St. Benedict, though dubious, agreed. Before long the monks realized they had made a terrible mistake, because St. Benedict actually wanted them to be monkly. So, they poisoned his wine. (Monks were granted a half-bottle of wine a day in Benedict's famous rule.) When he blessed the chalice, it shattered and the plot was revealed.

St. Benedict's Raven
But the Bear's favorite involves the animal companion of St. Benedict: a raven. Some people attempted to poison him with bread, but, once again, the plot was exposed. St. Benedict bade his feathered friend to carry the loaf far away where it could do no harm.

No particular method of use for the medal is prescribed. The Bear has his attached to his rosary, the one he once touched to a reliquary containing first-class relics of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. Since he always carries his rosary, the Bear is never without the benefits of the medal. Otherwise, one might wear it. (We have a decal of the image in the back window of our Kia Soul!) So a windows desktop seems legit.

The 13th Day

Here is a wonderful way of celebrating Our Lady's appearance at Fatima. The 13th Day is an excellent indie art film that anyone should enjoy.

The Bear respectfully suggests that there is too much speculation and unedifying interest in private revelations among some Catholics. And yes, Fatima is a private revelation, although the Church has deemed it worthy of belief. The story told in The 13th Day is sufficient. 

Was it enough that popes have consecrated the whole world to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart, without mentioning Russia explicitly? Bears don't know these things. Right now it's a toss-up between whether Russia or America is spreading more evil in the world. The future will unfold as it will unfold according to God's master plan -- his oikionomia, as St. Paul speaks about in the first chapter of Ephesians. His "economy," His "administration," His master plan, accomplished through His Divine Providence. We must pray the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary whether the coming years bring a renewal or ruin. 

They are all in God's hands, as are we, amen. The Bear humbly suggests you join him in saying a Rosary today, perhaps with your family, if you are able.

Official trailer, The 13th Day:

Bear Fiction

You never know what the Bear will drag out from his cave. Some people may like that; most people like to know what they're getting into when they follow a blog. Sorry, but bears are notoriously unpredictable. Here is a short story. Legal fiction, if you will. After spending the bulk of his career doing death penalty cases, the Bear can tell you this day is nearer than you know.

Paper Roses

By: St. Corbinian's Bear

Twelve months probation was not a bad deal for a case like this. Better than any Steiner had seen in his brief time in the public defender’s office, though certainly not unprecedented. It was a good deal, and a foolproof case, and that’s why an attorney as… pre-experienced, Steiner thought, had been assigned. But then there was his client. “Difficult” was not quite the word. He was actually polite. Polite and maddening.

Twelve months... anniversary. His brain had waited to present that thought until his palms were clammy and he was actually walking into the courtroom. He had forgotten his second anniversary until now.

The judge began the sentencing litany. “Let’s go on the record. I have read the presentence report and attachment A consisting of the neurobiological report. It includes the Kiehl Future Dangerousness Scale as required by statute. Does either side have any evidence to present before sentencing?”

“None from the People,” answered the prosecutor. He did not sound happy, but he was old, and everything seemed to annoy him.

Now comes the train wreck, Steiner thought, rising to his feet. “Your Honor, my client informed me in detention this morning that he wished to represent himself.”

The judge did not blink. He looked at the defendant evenly. “Sir, your lawyer has informed me you wish to represent yourself. You have that right. Judging from your presentence report, there is no doubt you are competent to do so. However, there do not seem to be any remaining issues. You are probably going to get probation. That means, sir, you are likely to walk out of here today a free man.”

“I understand all that.” He added, after a pause: “Your Honor.” His voice was soft. He seemed unsure.
Steiner’s brain now decided to occupy precious neurons wondering if he had ever seen the judge blink. Maybe he’s a robot. But if they could make a robot that good, they would make it blink. Unless there were a glitch, or

“Mr. Steiner?”

Steiner’s attention snapped back to the proceedings. “I’m sorry, your Honor, I was—“

“I am appointing you as standby counsel. You’ll be here in case your client has any questions, but otherwise you will not insert yourself into these proceedings. Do both of you understand that?”

Steiner agreed. His client seemed to stand up a little straighter. “Yes, Your Honor.”

The judge nodded. Steiner would have sworn he had still not blinked. “Very well, sir, you may put on what evidence you wish. The rules are relaxed for sentencing, but you will still be held to the same legal standards as anyone else appearing before this court.”

“I understand, Your Honor,” the defendant said firmly, even confidently. “I have something I want to put in evidence.”

“Very well,” the judge answered. “Please show it to the prosecutor and have the bailiff mark it.”
“I want to put myself into evidence.”

The prosecutor’s eyes slid over to Steiner, revealing a hint of amusement, but no sympathy.

Technically, it was out of Steiner’s hands, anyway. The defendant was representing himself. “You can’t put yourself into evidence,” the judge explained after a pause.

“I’ve been reading some law books while I was in lockup, Your Honor. They say a person can be shown in court. Anyway, you said the rules were relaxed. So I’m motioning for myself to be in evidence. What I say, what I do. You can take a picture of me if you want. Isn’t this all on camera, anyways?”

“Sir,” the judge countered reasonably, “you are entitled to make a statement. You can even take the stand and testify, although you’ll be subject to cross-examination if you do.”

“I know, Your Honor. But it isn’t about saying. I don’t understand all that stuff in that report. I wouldn’t know where to start. But I know there’s a lot they left out. I want to be an exhibit.” He said these last words with the firmness of one who will not easily be talked out of a course of action.

“Sir, I’m not going to make you an exhibit. But I will take into account everything you say and do this morning. It will be exactly like you were an exhibit. Fair enough?”

“Well, in that case I guess so.” The man answered, but he was clearly not satisfied. For a moment Steiner thought he was going to just sit down.

“Can I have a glass of water, Your Honor?” his client asked.

“Of course you may. There’s a pitcher and glass on the counsel table.”

He poured the glass full of water, right to the brim, and slowly brought it to his lips without spilling a drop. He downed it in long swallows and let out a smacking sigh of appreciation. “Nothing like cold water. You know, a lot of guys like beer, but I’ll take water any day, I’ll tell you.” He paused to see if the judge might say something, perhaps, you know, I really enjoy water, too. But the judge said nothing, and once again silence fell over the courtroom.

“I did that to that girl,” he said distinctly. There was no response. He had pled guilty months ago. “Do you want to know why?”

The question seemed sincere. Steiner doubted there was much art in him. The man waited for a response from the judge, but the judge just stared like a kindly basilisk. “Oh, sure. You think you know. You got it all down in my paperwork. My lawyer explained it all to me, but the only thing I understood was that those people don’t know anything. They said there was something wrong with my brain. Do you mind if I sit down, Your Honor?”

“You may be seated,” the judge conceded amiably.

“Thank you.” The man sat down next to Steiner. “This is a pretty comfortable chair. They don’t have chairs like this in lockup, you know. I like to sit, sometimes, and just think. Now this is important, judge. I’m sitting here. What do you say when you want the transcript or whatever to show something?” He turned to Steiner, who whispered a reply. “Okay. I want the record to show that I have made a choice to sit here. Now, before, when I would sit, I would think about young girls. I wanted to.” The man rose from the chair into a silence that was suddenly uncomfortable.

“You know, I wanted to represent myself. I wanted a glass of water. I wanted to sit down. Then I wanted to stand up. These are all things I wanted, and I did them because I wanted to. They were my choices. When I sat and thought about girls, I knew it was wrong, what I done to that girl, but, even so, I wanted to. That was my choice. Mine. Now, I don’t want to do that sort of thing anymore. Somehow whatever was wrong with my brain got better, as I understand it. That’s why you’re not sending me to prison, right?”

“Sir,” the judge explained, “we have this Future Dangerousness Scale. It’s scientific. You went through a lot of tests, as you know. Brain scans. Your risk assessment is less than one-tenth of one percent. You had a lesion on your brain that, like you said, got better. Anything else is irrelevant for sentencing. By law, I can’t even consider it. We’ll keep you on probation for a bit just to help you back into society, but the legal system is, for all intents and purposes, done with you.”

“But I did wrong and I’m sorry.”

“Irrelevant,” the prosecutor said. The effort made him seem more annoyed than usual.

“Sustained,” the judge ruled. “I will not consider the defendant’s claims of subjective feelings.”

The defendant stood alone in the middle of the courtroom. “The bad feeling inside of me is irrelevant? What I did is irrelevant? The suffering of that sweet little girl is irrelevant?” The bailiff took a couple of steps closer to the man, because the man was beginning to become agitated.

“Science advances, and the law must follow,” the judge answered. “The only thing that matters is what caused an unfortunate incident. We are not going to punish you for having… let’s call it a bad brain.”

The defendant had reclaimed his earlier calm. “And now my brain is fine.”

“That’s what the report says.”

“So what if I do something bad again?”

“We’re confident you won’t. Otherwise we wouldn’t be letting you go.”

“But say they’re wrong? Whose fault will it be? The doctors? Yours?”

“Fault doesn’t really enter into it,” the judge answered patiently. “Belief in guilt implies a moral judgment, not to mention a capacity for free choice. We deal scientifically and humanely with brains in this courtroom, sir. Every day we answer one question: does this or that person’s brain make him dangerous? We’re not here to deal with abstractions like remorse, or punishment, or guilt. Once they would have executed you. Hanged you. Put you in an electric chair. Given you a lethal injection. Just for having a brain that didn’t quite work right. Does that make any sense in this day and age?”

“I think you should execute me for what I done.” Now, he was on the verge of tears, but there was anger in his voice, too. The bailiff took a step closer, wary.

“That’s not an option, sir. Is there anything else?”

The man thought a moment, then glanced at the bailiff, his eyes flicking to the gun on his hip. He looked back at the judge, his brow furrowed in thought. Then he shrugged. “No, I guess that’s all there is,” he said, and resumed his seat next to Steiner. He grasped Steiner’s hand as if to shake it, but held it. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. Steiner did not know what to say. What could he say to that? What did the man’s statement even mean, really? Steiner smiled uncomfortably and withdrew his hand. “The least they could do is punish a man,” his client said, choking back tears.

“That’s all there is,” Steiner said lamely. “There isn’t any more.” Somehow the words seemed awfully thin and unsatisfying, like stale crackers in his mouth.

As Steiner packed up his briefcase, the prosecutor came over. “Good day for the defense,” the older man growled.

“Yeah,” Steiner said. “But tomorrow we have a mom of three facing 40 for shoplifting. Really bad fMRI. Kiehl Scale of 92. Amygdala a total mess. You’ll be calling her a crime spree waiting to happen.”

“Maybe,” the older man said. “Back in the day, that guy—"

“Walk it off,” Steiner said. “You know what they say. You can’t beat the brain.”

“No,” the older man repeated sourly, “you can’t beat the brain.”

On the way home, Steiner again remembered his anniversary. What to get his wife? The decision had already been made, he knew, somewhere in the twining nest of neurons inside his head. He would play it out, get some roses and a card. There was no real choice to it at all. It just seemed that way. Somewhere, a man would kill his wife tonight. Steiner would give his wife roses. The difference was a few molecules in the wrong place.

He bought a bouquet. They smelled like paper.

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