Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sensus Fidelium

The Bear's readers will have at least heard of this mysterious power they possess called the sensus fidelium: the sense of the faithful. This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about it.

91 All the faithful share in understanding and handing on revealed truth. They have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who instructs them and guides them into all truth.54 (737) 
92 “The whole body of the faithful … cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, ‘from the bishops to the last of the faithful,’ they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals.” (785) 
93 “By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium), … receives … the faith, once for all delivered to the saints.… The People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life.” (889)

Catholic Church. (2000). Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Ed., p. 28). Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.

Before the Bear tries go on further about what it is, what it isn't almost more important.

  • it doesn't operate independently of the magisterium
  • it doesn't protect individual Catholics from error

In other words, the Devil can fool some of the faithful some of the time, but he can't fool all of the faithful any of the time. Or, to put it positively, we, as sheep (and the occasional Bear) know our Master's voice.

One sometimes sees the sensus fidelium spoken of like it is a new lay superpower, possibly invented at Vatican II. There are plenty of people that want to transfer power and prestige from the clergy to the laity. But that's not the way it works.

The magisterium still calls the shots, and the faithful -- as a whole -- adhere to its teachings. One supports and, the Bear supposes, cross-checks the other.

Occasionally, some bishops and their claques of theologians, will float novel ideas. Ideally, those ideas are legitimate developments of Church teachings, but not always. If recent history has taught us anything, it is that bishops can have unsound ideas and make bad decisions. They are men, subject to the temptations of pride, limitations of intellect, deformation of character and coolness of ardor. Same with theologians. It is the sensus fidelium that allows the faithful to discern sound doctrine from codswallop.

A single bishop or some collection of bishops do not teach infallibly. That doesn't mean the faithful are free to disregard what they say, only that the faithful must have a surer teaching on which to base their disagreement.

Let's say the Bishop of Bugtussle, perhaps enthused by the upcoming Synod, declares that in his diocese, all second marriages of divorced persons are in the same position as legitimate first marriages. Divorced and remarried Catholics may take communion in the diocese of Bugtussle. Catholics might disagree with the bishop by appealing to Holy Scripture, and everything the Church has done and taught during its history. The foundation for their objection would be superior to the fallible ordinary magisterium of the the Bishop of Bugtussle.

Catholics who dissented from that bishop's novel teaching on divorce and remarriage would be doing a service to the Church by upholding superior teaching and gently coaxing their shepherd back into heartland of the Church's teaching.

One might object that a large percentage of Catholics agree on various topics. Perhaps most, for example, think there's nothing wrong with contraception, and there are probably a disturbingly large number that accept their friends' trendy opinions on homosexuality. How do we know they're not using their supernatural insight to arrive at the truth?

Simple. There's a reason it's called the sense of the faithful, and not the sense of nominal Catholics. It belongs to the faithful, not dissenters and innovators. For that reason, it might be only a minority of Catholics who comprise the faithful, and whose sensus fidelium is in operating order.

Earlier, the Bear said that it does not empower individual Catholics with their own personal infallibility or anything, but was exercised collectively. Yet that collective experience of faithful adherence to and valid insights into Church teachings is exercised by individuals. So, in a sense, it does keep faithful Catholics in the fold and close to the shepherd.

Are the teachings of a synod infallible? They are certainly worthy of serious consideration. However, the Bear has not seen anything to suggest that a synod is infallible in the way an ecumenical council or a pope speaking ex cathedra is infallible.

The Bear and his readership are -- the Bear hopes -- among the faithful. We all try to accept the tried and true teachings of the Church. We share a sense of what's true and proper. And that is what will protect us in the coming months and get us through this papacy.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Elegy for a Collector

It seems as if everything from my childhood, everything I grew up with, is all spread out in a sort of barn, all brightly lit up. From the largest piece of furniture (how big it seemed when I was small!) to the smallest toy soldier (kilted highlanders!): everything is on display.

There are people I knew from the past. ("You ran for office, didn't you?") Now someone is calling my name. A pregnant woman. She seems happy to see me, but I can't place her. "It's Heidi! You remember me! I went to federal prison. You was my lawyer." Heidi, yes. Out already? All of her brothers and sisters were named starting with the letter H. She had a brother named Heineken.

There are crowds of people. A woman puts on a headset with a microphone, and begins talking very fast. I can't understand, but people are nodding, or making small gestures. Someone is selling popcorn, so I buy a bag, and sit down to watch the mysterious pageant.

One of the Bear's vivid dreams brought on by too much rich salmon and honey? It felt like it, but no, it was the estate auction from the Bear's childhood home, another step on the long journey of handling his mother's estate.

So much stuff! Mom might not have qualified for Hoarders, but the Bear doesn't think she threw away much. She was a collector, an antiquer, and an occasional junker. Far too much stuff. So much acquired in younger days was a burden later on. And now it was the Bear's burden.

It is hard not to be philosophical as you watch a lifetime being auctioned off.
  • you really can't take it with you
  • it's easy to accumulate too much stuff
  • being able to let go of things is a virtue
  • whatever you leave behind becomes somebody else's immediate problem
  • things that seem important don't seem so important in the face of eternity
  • time like an ever rolling stream really does bear all its sons (and daughters) away
There were moments of sadness: sudden and inexplicable. But there is something about an auction that defies low spirits.

The Bear marveled at how everyone was getting what they wanted.
  • the auction company was getting a percentage of the proceeds
  • the people were getting things they wanted
  • the Bear was wrapping up -- and adding value to -- the estate
It was free enterprise at its best. 

It wasn't just stuff, it was energy: my parent's toil was turned into money; there was effort in hunting for the stuff; then it all magically became new possessions. Sadly, there was energy in holding on to it all, as well. Far too long, far too much energy. Now that energy was being broken up, becoming part of other people's stories. 

St. Corbinian's Bear may be used to carrying burdens, but this is one he will be especially happy to lay down.

He has been out of sorts the past week, however. A kind of mental distemper has clouded his normally happy go lucky Bearishness. Handling an estate has all the worst elements of drudgery, fiduciary responsibility, family drama, and emotion.

Take this as a cautionary tale. As we get older, we imperceptibly pass from owning things to being owned by them. It was otherwise with the saints.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

You Cannot Serve Both Blog and Mammon

Oh dear, where has the time gone? Last week, the Bear's precious Nexus 7 tablet took a very short fall to the carpet. When the Bear looked, the screen was shattered. It seemed odd, but at least it was an opportunity to take a serious look at the iPad Retina Mini. Monday it arrived from Amazon. What with migrating to the new platform and frustration and fun in equal measure, the Bear has fallen down on his blogly duties.

He is sure, however, that the woodland creatures will be warmed by the thought of their Bear enchanted by his new gadget. He found several good games that look great on the Retina display.

The end to the story is that Sunday the Bear opened the glove compartment to retrieve his missal. Miraculously, there was his Nexus 7, completely undamaged! His son had trashed his months ago, and for some reason set it out where the Bear would assume it was his, and not notice the damage until that short drop. A convoluted, unnecessary, and improbable tale, but there you have it.

(If anyone is interested, the two are both great, but the iPad Mini has a lot of little advantages that add up.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

That Voodoo That We Do

People pointing at me
causes circus flashbacks.
Sunday was Catechetical Sunday. How was it celebrated in your parish?

In ours, the Bear and the other RCIA teacher were summoned to the front of the Church after a "reflection" [homily] by the lay pastoral assistant.

Did you ever have someone try to do something nice for you that just made you cringe, but there was nothing for it but to grin and bear it? Father had the entire congregation extend their hands "in blessing," while he recited a nice prayer.

Now the Bear needs all the prayers he can get, and appreciates the intent, but the "tradition" of everyone extending one hand in the "Nazi Salute," or -- in this case -- both hands just seems wrong.

First of all, as far as the Bear knows, only priests can properly bless, other than maybe the paternal blessing for children. For example, it bothers the Bear to see "Eucharistic Ministers" bless people who do not take communion.

Also, there is a New Age vibe to it that troubles the Bear. It is just barely possible that New Agers are onto something, and that a group of people focusing their attention on someone can indeed manipulate energy, or channel light, or direct chi, or however you want to put it, according to a particular intention. Without going into detail, let's just say the Bear wouldn't be surprised and doesn't want any part of it.

Finally, it's just a bit too Pentecostal for the Bear. (For the record, the Bear does raise his paws in front of him in a discrete "receiving" gesture during the Our Father because, well, just because. If nothing else it keeps his neighbors from grabbing them. He does not gesture toward the priest at "and with your Spirit.")

Call it what you want, but the Bear calls it odd at best, and voodoo at the worst.

So, what do you think? Is the Bear a carping ingrate? Does he need to loosen up and go with the flow?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jack Weston

The Bear mentioned Jack Weston is his choice in the Twilight Zone production of "The Laughing Man." He realizes you probably wouldn't recognize the name, but bets the face will be familiar.

On the topic of creative writing, there is a bit of new traffic over at Judging Angels (see the sidebar) -- pinging Jane. The Bear is up to Chapter 13 posted from his Charles Williams inspired spiritual thriller, Judging Angels.

The Bear vs. the Jehovah's Witnesses

A Knock at the Door

The Bear just loves JWs
and Mormons!
Two Jehovah's Witnesses came by the Bear's home Saturday, a rookie and a seasoned pro. The Bear welcomed them in and offered them cold drinks. Once we were all seated around the dining room table, they handed the Bear a slick tract about "what the Bible teaches." They assured the Bear that "proselytizing is solemn nonsense," or words to that effect. The contest began with both parties trying to put the other at ease.

There can be no doubt the Bear is Catholic, what with the statue of Mary in the yard and home shrine in the corner of the dining room, so they probably felt the Bear would be an easy mark. So much the better.

The Bear hopes you will not be too disappointed that the visit did not end in a grisly scene of jawbone-ripping. The Bear had a twin mission: inject reasonable doubt about their particular heresy, and project the image of a contented, well-educated Catholic. He will nonetheless try to make the account as entertaining as possible, and offer some thoughts on counter-proselytizing.

If there is interest in apologetics, the Bear could run more articles, zeroing in on different topics.

Bogus Bibles

They each had their New World Bible, which the Bear knew to be bogus. It purges scripture of any hint of Christ's divinity. Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in the Holy Trinity, nor do they believe in Hell.

Over the next hour and a half, they tried to stick to a memorized program of daisy-chained proof texts, while the wily Bear led them on, circled around and kept them off message. As long as they were permitted to deliver their canned presentation, they were confident. However, the Bear quickly spotted their weakness. Their understanding of scripture and familiarity with history was shockingly inadequate. They had obviously worked hard memorizing proof texts and talking points. But they were unable to handle anything they hadn't prepared for.

The Bear chose his copy of the New American Standard Bible, respected by most Protestants for its literal translation. (Sixty-six books was plenty for the Bear's purpose, and they would have nothing to complain about.) They smiled to each other and assured the Bear that whatever Bible he had was just fine. (Aw, a Catholic with a Bible, isn't that cute!)

They opened with a couple of proof texts from Ecclesiastes. If ever a book of the Bible cried out for context and discernment, it is Ecclesiastes, whose message seems to be "life sucks, and then you die." They were just looking for out-of-context statements, however. Bizarrely, they had no idea of how to actually read the Bible.

The first point they were trying to make was that planet Earth was eternal. (The Bear could not tell you why this was so important, but it was the first point on their program, so they would not let it go.) Indeed, the verse said that generations of men come and go, but the earth remained. The Bear politely asked them to consider that the point was really that human life was transitory. (They missed the point of every verse they used, by the way.)  They insisted, however, that that verse must be literally interpreted as saying the earth was eternal.

Then the Bear pointed to the next verse, about the sun rising in the east and going down in the west. "Do you interpret that literally, too?" They said they did. "Would you agree that the sun is in the center of the solar system and only appears to move through the sky? Just as the earth -- from our point of view -- appears to last forever. Don't you think it is important to try to understand what the inspired writer was trying to say, rather than just looking at the words out of context?"

They seemed flummoxed by this, but they had a program to run through, so they skipped through some more proof texts as the Bear followed along in his Bible.

The Catholic Counterattack

After about ten minutes, it was time to derail the Jay Dub Express.

"I see you rely on that Bible a lot. But did you know Jesus didn't write any of it, and fewer than half his apostles wrote anything at all, as far as we know? If Jesus had wanted to leave us with a book, do you think he could have written one? But you know what Jesus did leave us with, though? He founded a Church in history. You can read all about it in Matthew 16. The great thing about being Catholic is that I can read my Bible and know that I have 2000 years of Church guidance to keep me from making mistakes. Without that authority, you wind up with the 30,000 different sects we have today. I think you would agree with me that all those folks are wrong on a lot of things."

"Well, we know there was a great apostasy," the pro asserted confidently.

Now they were off-message and winging it. Big mistake. Now, all Protestants have to believe there was some "great apostasy," so you can expect it. But it's a gimme for our side.

"A great apostasy?" Butter wouldn't melt in the Bear's jaws. "That's interesting. Can you give me the date, and just a summary of it?"

"Umm... Constantine, well, he was the emperor, and... umm..."

"Do you know where you got that Bible?" the Bear asked, lunging from a different direction while the pro was on his back foot. "Can you show me in your Bible where it tells you what books should be in it? It didn't come with a table of contents, did it? The Catholic Church established the canon of scripture. The Church sifted through all the manuscripts floating around, and chose those sixty-six books in your Bible. I bet you didn't know that you have the Catholic Church to thank for your Bible!"

"Well, God used men --"

"Men in the Catholic Church, and nobody else!" the Bear said amiably. "Kind of weird, huh?"

The Bear Offers a Concession

"But let's talk about your particular Bible." Killer instinct had kicked in. "Now I know your version is different from mine. Look at John 1:1. Mine says the Word was God. What does yours say?"

"You're not going to like this," the pro answered, "but it says 'Jesus was a god.'" The Bear allowed them to direct him to several out-of-context verses that supposedly proved Jesus was not God.

The Bear briefly argued their anti-divinity verses in context, but knew that allowed them to direct the argument, so he went back on the attack, starting with a concession.

"You know," the Bear said affably, "I sort of get it. If I was just a guy with a Bible, doing my best, I might get the Holy Trinity wrong, too, although when you read everything in context, it's clear enough. But the great thing about being Catholic is that I'm not just a guy on his own with a Bible. The Holy Trinity is a mystery."

Here the pro actually smirked. "A mystery? It's illogical. And a lot of pagan religions have trinities."

"What, like the ancient Egyptians with Isis, Osiris and Horus?"


"I suppose that looks something like a trinity," the Bear pondered. "There's three of them, anyway. But those are really three different gods, aren't they? Now you don't believe in the Trinity, do you?"

"We believe in Jehovah God."

"That would be like saying Allah is one, so Jehovah's Witnesses are Muslims! You know, they don't believe in the Holy Trinity, either! You're not Muslims are you?"

The Big Question

They tried to get their programmed message out -- something about being resurrected and having a second chance to choose an eternity under a 144,000-member ruling class on this same earth. But the Bear was having none of it.

"I'd like for you to answer one question," the Bear finished. "You would agree that God desires that we worship Him in truth, right?"

"Of course."

"To know Him and to love Him?"


"Can you tell me why God would permit all Christians everywhere for 2000 years to be deceived? Because if Jesus is not God, then everybody but you is committing the sin of idolatry, aren't they? From apostolic times to the 1800s when someone came up with your religion, God was content to leave everybody in the dark. Why did God do that after sending his Son, starting a Church, watching Christians being martyred by the thousands -- all for a big mistake? Why would He let His whole plan instantly self-destruct and not bother to correct things?"

The pro stammered, but as with the previous challenges, had no answer.

As they were leaving, the Bear said, "Wait, I don't want to finish this great conversation without a blessing." The Bear stood and prayed sincerely that God  would reveal His truth to everybody that had been brought together.

They couldn't get out the door fast enough. The Bear has to give them credit for going twelve rounds. But they were not prepared for a Bear fight.

Some Thoughts On Counter-Proselytizing

First of all, the Bear has some excellent, brief apologetics resources for JWs. Unfortunately, he had only browsed through them. While even that helped (like knowing about their bogus Bible, their rejection of the Holy Trinity, etc.) it would have been nice to be better prepared. But you can see how effective you can be with the Bear basics of apologetics. It is worth preparing for, because you know JWs and Mormons are going to come knocking.

Image is so important. Be genuinely courteous, and that means letting them make their points (some of them, anyway). You want them to leave thinking, "that was a nice guy who sure seemed to know what he was talking about!" You don't have to "keep score."

Know that all of these folks are bringing a canned presentation. As long as they're following their script, they don't have to think -- which is what you want them to do. You must pick your moments to derail them and press your advantage when you can. Let them lead you through a few proof texts, but remember, that's their strength. Don't be steamrollered by a long string of daisy-chained Bible verses.

Leave them with questions that might cause them to think later. That was the purpose of the Bear asking why God would let everybody, everywhere in every time be deceived into idolatry except for one tiny group that started in the 1800s. Get them to see the Church's role in creating their Bible, and witness to the positive benefits of being Catholic. You never know. Even cultists might have a moment of clarity at 3 a.m.

Finally, you don't have to be an apologetics whiz to be effective. You don't have to be able to explain the Holy Trinity to smile and say that Christians have always believed in it, right from the beginning, you trust your Church, and what a difference it makes in your life. In one sense, Pope Francis is right: you are the product offered for the other party's approval. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kid is Skeptical of Cardinal Dolan

Why the Bear Does That Thing

It recently occurred to the Bear that he blogs in the third person, no matter how challenging that can be. Why does he do that?

Is it some sort of necessary psychological distancing between writer and blog? Is he afraid readers might forget that he is The Only Real Bear Catholic Blogger if he wrote in the more ordinary fashion?

The Bear is sure he had a reason when he began blogging. Today, however, he has no idea. Rather, he does it for the best reason of all: the Bear has always blogged in the third person. Furthermore, he wagers you would think it odd if he started saying, "I" this and "me" that.

At the inception of St. Corbinian's Bear, the, er, Bear knew he wanted to treat serious matters without being so serious. God knows how depressing things can be in our times.

And that, my friends, is why I always blog in the third person.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Laughing Man

The voice was that of a tired man, past middle age, but not old. It was nearly accentless, and unemotional, like a small market radio announcer reading bean futures. If patience had a voice, this would be it. It belonged to someone who had seen everything and was long past surprise.

"Will the next person please step up to the podium." 

Two uniformed guards with revolvers on their hips indicated a man in the crowded waiting room. He was a big man, with a big, meaty face that might have been designed for jollity. He stirred, stretched and approached the worn, wooden podium before the judge. He carried himself well and radiated confidence.

"I imagine you know why you're here, friend. I've reviewed your file. Let's cut to the chase."

"I'm sure my file is in order."

"Actually, it's not. There are numerous homosexual acts."

The man gave a disbelieving smile. "Seriously?"

"Can you imagine why I would be joking under the circumstances?"

"No," the man answered, a shadow of confusion clouding his face for the first time. "No, I just meant that I can't believe in this day and age we're standing here talking about homosexuality. I think we can all agree its time to move on. We know now that gay people are born that way. There's... like a gene, or something. I'm pretty sure that was proven. In any case, it isn't their fault. I mean, not that there's anything wrong with that."

"We've always seen things differently, as you know. Did not all the warnings impress you?"

A smirk of disbelief once again broke through the man's clouded face. "Well, perhaps for their time, but you hardly expect people to believe all that in this day and age, and... and I'm sure, I know I read it somewhere, that there was... okay, I'm not sure if it was a gene exactly, or a part... part of the brain or whatever, but the point is there was nothing to be done about it! Seriously? That's what we're going to talk about?"

"Yes." The judge flipped through a thick file, finally fixing his eyes near the bottom of a page. "Yes, that's what we're going to talk about," he said with a sigh. "We're going to talk about nintey-seven million, nine-hundred and fifty-two thousand, six-hundred and twenty-seven individual acts of the mortal sin of sodomy."

The man at the podium's face went blank, then broke out in a grin. "No, there must be some mistake. No, that can't be me. That couldn't be anyone! You've got the wrong file. I never... no, not even once. In fact, I was celibate. It's just a matter of finding the right file. You'll see. I'm a priest. In fact a bishop. This is all a misunderstanding."

"There's no misunderstanding. How many homilies did you give about homosexuality?"

"Oh, several. Many!"

"I mean condemning it."

"Why, none, of course. I always believed in a pastoral approach."

"Each one of those ninety-seven million homosexual acts was committed by people to whom you had an obligation to instruct, to warn, and to encourage in virtue. Committed by them, and by the people with whom they engaged in vice, and so on, in a geometrical progression. That's all on you, friend."

"But I didn't do any of it! It's not fair! I didn't know."

"You knew. As for it being fair, tell that to the millions of souls were lost to the vice you did nothing to discourage, no, that you encouraged by your bland smile and cosmopolitan sensibilities." The judge remained seated, but squared his shoulders. When he spoke it struck fear into the souls of all present. "Depart from me. I never knew you."

The guards approached the man from either side and led him to a door on the left. Over it was the silhouette of the profile of a bearded goat. The man recovered his composure. "A goat? What is this supposed to be, Hell? We both know there's no such thing!" He shook off the guards, and with a hearty laugh, stepped through the door on his own.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cardinal Dolan's Horrible, Dishonest Defense

Have you seen Cardinal Dolan's explanation for not stepping down as grand marshal of the St. Patrick's day parade? You can spare yourself the aggrieved tone and lame attempts at humor and skip all the way to the bottom of his piece.

The defense goes like this. The Church does not condemn homosexuals, you see, only what homosexuals do. Therefore, their mere presence -- so long as they are not actually committing sodomy on the curb -- is unobjectionable.

However, the Cardinal slides over the fact that you cannot separate "are" and "do" in the national conversation about homosexuality. The kind of homosexuals that are proud enough to want to march as a troop in the Cardinal's parade are especially the kind that have no qualms about the "do" part. They are not contrite, they are not "struggling." They want you and everybody else to approve of their vice. Since everybody knows this, the Cardinal's intellectual dishonesty shouldn't fool anyone. By presiding over their march, the Cardinal is demonstrating tolerance for the private deviance the marchers are publicly celebrating. What a coup for homosexuality!

By the Cardinal's rationale, we could have a Swinger's Group, or a Masturbation Brigade in the parade. After all, the Church condemns adultery and masturbation, not the people who do those things, right? Bravo!

But for some odd reason, only homosexuality gets special treatment by the Church. It alone is defined by what people supposedly are, not what they do. The Bear calls this the "race model" of homosexuality. Without a scintilla of scientific evidence, homosexuality is spoken of -- even in the Catechism of the Catholic Church -- as an immutable characteristic, like race. The advantages of this to homosexuals should be too obvious to require explanation. We must speak in hushed tones of our admiration for their "struggle," which is somehow unique. Their "right" to engage in unspeakable perversions is right up there with Rosa Parks on the bus.

And there's Cardinal Bravo, driving the lavender bandwagon.

Frankly, the Bear suspects elements within the Church know which side the culture is coming down on, and are desperately afraid of being on the wrong side. In their minds only cretins like the Westboro Baptist Church are against homosexuality. Some mangy old Bear in flyover county might take that Old Testament stuff seriously, but the Archbishop of New York City? You've got to be kidding!

Let's not complicate what is a simple reality.

Homosexuals are people tempted in a particular manner known from ancient times. We're all tempted by some things. It's a spiritual war out there, in case no one has told you. Why, some men are tempted by attraction to adolescent boys. Some married men find it difficult to leave other women alone. Some enjoy gambling, or are angry, or unforgiving, or gossips. "Everyone's looking for something," as the Eurythmics song goes.

To be honest, we don't know the role of genetics, environment, psychology, devils and bad choices in any propensity to sin. That is probably one reason the Church is merciful. It has always taught we're all "born that way:" burdened with a fallen nature and afflicted with concupiscence.

Cardinal Dolan's slippery defense is intellectually and morally sloppy. One could not make a principled objection to any group under it. After all, as one man outside a gay mass told Michael Voris in an episode of The Vortex, God made homosexuals, and He doesn't make mistakes, right? (Because somehow, "God made psychopathic spree killers, and He doesn't make mistakes, right?" just doesn't sound as good.)

Some people love to say, "Hate the sin; love the sinner." They forget the first part, though. Especially when it comes to the vice that one dare not criticize.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cardinal Burke to Malta?

Pope: I'm putting you in charge of the Knights of Malta.
Cardinal Burke: Excellent. We sail at dawn.

Just in time for
Lepanto Day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Dog Ate My Blog

Dahlia: the (strange) Yorkie that
ate my blog.
The Bear wrote four different articles today. Not one was deemed suitable for publication. What's going on here? The Bear hope he is not coming down with writer's block!

At least you know we have standards around here.

Since sort of retiring, the Bear has been feeling the motivation sloooowly slipping away, and that goes for everything, not just the blog.

Blogging is a great gig, other than not making money. (Note to self: check into getting some of those underwear ads he sees on other blogs.) You set your own hours, write about whatever interests you at the moment, bask in the adulation of thousands of readers (okay, maybe not quite that many) and generally have fun discussing interesting topics.

He delivered a lecture tonight on false police confessions, a topic on which he claims a considerable degree of expertise. The ten or so students were rather unresponsive until the Bear got them warmed up. The Bear doesn't remember what weeknight college classes are like, maybe.

Hey, speaking of confession, when is the last time you went? Maybe it's time, huh? It has been too long for the Bear. When you get out of the habit of regular confession, what is it?

Make that five articles unworthy of publication, but, hey, something's gotta go up.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Calm Suggestion

The Bear wrote quite a rant today. (99% of what he writes goes into the Bear's Private Collection of Growls, Rants and Roars, never to see publication.) But no one wants to read a rant, right? So let's see if the Bear can distill it down to something nice and calm.

The Bear is experiencing cognitive dissonance from the apparent abandonment of the Church dogma that there is no salvation outside the Church. The Bear is confident that a minority of bishops would be willing to assert such dogma, "minority" meaning none. Coupled with recent statements about the holy "polyhedron," and developments in ecumenical and interfaith relations, the abandonment of the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus leaves the Bear rather nonplussed.

It would seem to be desirable to clarify, or, failing that, to stop making the claims that the Church has traditionally made about itself. Perhaps an ideal solution would be to liquidate Church assets to the extent necessary to comfortably retire the entire establishment, and reopen under new management that would be faithful to the Church's history, tradition and teachings.

That is all.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is There a Problem With the Weddings?

A Nice Day for a White Wedding

UPDATE II: How is this playing the press? Predictably. If there is an expectation game with the October Synod, this plays into the hands of those who want a "more merciful" Church, as Reuters has it.

  • Reuters: " the latest sign that the Argentine pontiff wants the Catholic church to be more open and inclusive."
  • Reuters: "The pope has said the Church must end its obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality, and become more merciful, or risk collapsing "like a house of cards".
  • Time: "Some hope a major Vatican meeting next month on family concerns might lead to permission for divorced Catholics who remarry to receive Communion.

Why be negative about the grand weddings of cohabitating couples in St. Peter's Basilica? Isn't it wonderful that they are doing the right thing? After all, nobody's perfect. Do you imagine, Bear, that there are no improprieties before many Church weddings?

First of all, this is not the hill the Bear would pick to die on. In the great scheme of things, this is small potatoes. Nonetheless, it feels like there is something off about it. Is there, or is the Bear just being growly?

The problem is that these are couples who have approached a relationship God wants as marriage as some cheap imitation. The quaint expression "living in sin" really does capture it. One assumes they have gone to confession, but, even so, should we pull out all the stops? What message are we sending? That there are multiple paths to your big Church wedding, including concubinage? Shouldn't there be a whiff of the penitential?

Yes, by all means have the weddings, but do it in a way that does not ignore the irregularity of the situation. Not to punish anyone, but to avoid scandal, to send the message that it is good to get married if you are living in sin, but better not to have lived in sin at all. A nuance? Perhaps. But in religion, as in conversation, nuance matters.

UPDATE: The Bear and his mate seldom disagree. (It is foolish, after all, to disagree with someone called "Red Death.") The last time was over the baptism in the church of the baby obtained by the lesbian pair in Argentina. Her argument was, "It's a baby!" But she disagreed on the Bear's cautious disapproval of the weddings, arguing, "Who am I to judge?"

So the Bear must think upon this matter again, since he respects his mate. (In fact he respects her enough to have married her 35 years ago.)

The Bear's argument is subtle, and easy to mischaracterize.

First, let us stipulate that all of the Catholic parties have repented, gone to confession, and everyone concerned is ready to enter into Holy Matrimony as the Church sees it.

Second, let us all agree that their being married is better than their living together without being married. As far as they go, weddings are a good thing, and a joyful occasion that would ordinarily be unclouded by controversy.

Third, let us all cast aside opprobrium and not only hold nothing against the couples, but wish them the very best.

So on what grounds might one object?

Simple. Concubinage, or living in sin, or cohabitation, or whatever you want to call it is a public sin, and an ongoing offense against Holy Matrimony. Sorry to smudge the frosting on the wedding cake, but it is fornication plus a public, though no doubt, unintended, insult to the sacrament of matrimony, which, if you have not noticed, has taken a lot of flak lately.

Public sins cause scandal, and should be treated differently than private sins, because they can cause more evil. As noted originally, if years of concubinage end with the public approval of the pope himself, not to mention a white wedding in St. Peter's Basilica, what does that say about living together? That it is just another path to the nice church wedding? That the Church treats those who have cohabitated for years the same as the bright-eyed kids who have remained chaste? What message does it send about chastity in general?

Everything is a message with Pope Francis. One supposes his message here is, "If you're cohabitating, why, you should get married! We're all about forgiveness! The Church will welcome you!" The Bear doubts those cohabitating need the reminder, but let's hope the Pope is right.

On the eve of the October Synod, the Bear has to wonder if another message is intended. "The Church's old way of thinking about marriage is loosening up. We all need to relax about these matters and meet people where they really live."

What better way to frost the the Synod than with wedding cake icing?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

It's a Nice Day for a White Wedding

White Wedding

In answer to a question concerning plans to marry cohabitating couples at St. Peter's basilica, the Pope smiled and said, "It's a nice day to start again."

What happened next was unprecedented even for a pope known for shaking things up. 

Rising from the folding chair that has replaced the papal dining room chair since the beginning of September, Francis sang out: "It's a nice day for a white wedding," and begin laughing. Then he playfully sang Billy Idol's 1982 hit, "White Wedding." Francis flashed his trademark smile as he substituted some lyrics, such as singing "Hey little sister, I don't care what you've done." A clearly exhausted, but happy pontiff returned to his chair to heavy applause.

People Can Live Without Brains

Doctors in China made a shocking discovery when a 24 year old woman reported to the emergency room feeling dizzy. Her entire cerebellum -- a section of the brain normally necessary for life -- was completely missing, leaving -- literally -- a large hole in her brain.

She joins a small group of people known to be missing part, or in rare cases, almost all of their brains. Yet somehow, these people manage to live normal lives. In fact, there is no way of knowing how many people comprise this group, since the condition is only disclosed by brain imaging.

In other news, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick uttered the Muslim prayer "In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate," at a conference organized by the Muslim Public Affairs Council on September 10. The Cardinal said that Catholic social teaching was identical to the Prophet Mohammed's ("peace be upon him," the Cardinal added). 

[Bear: perhaps the old fellow, just wants a religion he can kneel in.]

In related news, President Obama said that the terrorist Islamic State known as ISIS is "not Islamic." The Washington Post cited a Gallup poll from 2010 indicating Protestants are far more likely to support terrorism than Muslims, who had "promised to be completely honest with us, because, seriously, why would they lie?" according to Gallup. 

[Bear: that would explain all those beheadings in the South we've been reading about.]

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Bear's Unpopular Truth Challenge

The current reign of the Prince of the World discussed in the Spengleresque-titled Fall of the West is more easy-going than one normally associates with the diabolical. In fact, it is a neat reversal of that old serpent's first conquest. We may eat freely of any tree in the world, so long as we forget the knowledge of good and evil. Once you accept that the cost of truth is too high, and pretend there is no difference between good and evil, there is no reason you can't enjoy life, even attain to the highest offices in the secular and religious worlds.

In That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis named the infernal agency managing the novel's diabolical conspiracy the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments -- N.I.C.E. George Orwell's Ministry of Love was in charge of repression and torture, and his Ministry of Truth was exactly the opposite.

Today's exercise: speak an unpopular truth. You don't even have to do it to another person, but you must say it out loud.

The Bear wagers it might be harder than you imagine! The most effective censorship is self-censorship. Feel free to comment on your results.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bearanoia II

Blogger is a free service of Google that makes it easy for Bears to create and maintain blogs. But, you know, every time the Bear blogs unfavorably on certain topics such as homosexuality or Islam, he is arguably in violation of Blogger terms of service. (That goes for any of you bloggers.)

If the Bear annoys someone, all a malcontent has to do is go up to the top of the page and report him for abuse. St. Corbinian's Bear blog could presumably vanish without a trace one day. Some bloggers have speculated that Blogger has other punitive measures, such as de-indexing. Suffice it to say, the Bear doesn't trust Blogger.

Bears, however, are cunning, and not without a sense of humor.

The Bear has a backup site:

The bishops are finally making
Feel free to LOL. The story behind this is that the Bear learned how to buy domains after several bottles of Korbinian's Doppelbock. A bad idea that does not bear discussion here never materialized, but to this day, many lucky souls looking for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are redirected to SCB.

Oh, sure, the Bear will probably never have to use it, any more than the disaster shelter he dug in the backyard. But the motto of a Scout is Be Prepared.

Should SCB ever be declared a "hate site" and be sent down the memory hole, the Bear will regroup at

That should be easy to remember.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Cloud of Witnesses

Bear for the defense.
The Bear is off to federal court to resolve two of a dwindling number of cases. After today he will be one step closer to the "actually retired" phase of retirement, as opposed to the "not taking any new cases" phase.

He feels no nostalgia for the practice of law. Especially not for federal court where defendants don't even have a fighting chance. (In the district in which I practice, federal prosecutors have never lost a drug case.)

Funny, in all the drug conspiracy cases the Bear has handled, there have never been actual drugs in evidence in any of them. They are all made up of cumulative eyewitness testimony. Testimony by fellow druggies.

This is not to say they are bad cases, because if enough people say the same thing -- even bad people -- it can be very compelling. Indeed it can be proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest standard of proof known to the law. In other words, a jury does not have to actually see something in order to believe it.

The prosecutor's case would be all the stronger if the witnesses were upstanding citizens, instead of criminals.

Imagine how powerful a case it would be if the witnesses were not just upstanding citizens, but saints.

Monday, September 8, 2014


True to his word, the Bear presents the traditional St. Corbinian's Day cookie! Just as delicious as he remembers from the Old Country.

Even Buster, the Bear's faithful Yorkie, got into the spirit of things, by getting up on the kitchen table and eating one of the cookies. He was reenacting the part of St. Corbinian's Bear.

So the Bear hopes that next year, many beloved woodland creatures will have their own pony cookie cutter and celebrate the day in style! Maybe by then the Bear can locate a source for Korbinian's Doppelbock.

Although cold milk tastes pretty good with cookies.

(Thanks to the Bear's driver, bodyguard, personal pastry chef and factotum, Red Death, for making the cookies.)

Bear Update

Say JEPD one more time,
I dare you.

The New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) is owned by the U.S. Bishops. It is a good translation, but the USCCB won't let it be published without its horrible, faith-destroying, Modernist notes. You know the kind: assume the anonymous writers were dolts; anything supernatural was made up; and everything is dated as late as possible to eliminate prophecy. Maybe you're the type that doesn't get ruffled by bad notes, but not the Bear.

There are other good translations out there that don't cause the Bear to tear out his hair, such as the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (or the Second Edition), the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, or, last, but not least, the Douay Rheims.

St. Benedict Press is a reliable publisher. Their "UltraSoft" feels better than leather, softer, in the Bear's opinion. They have the RSVCE and the Douay Rheims in nice editions.

Ignatius Press is another good one. They have the RSVCE 2nd Ed. which gets rid of most of the "thees and thous," and makes a few changes to please conservatives, e.g. Isiah 7:14 they translated "virgin" instead of "young woman." (The Hebrew is actually "young woman," but translating it "virgin" is justifiable, and certainly traditional!) Between the two, most Catholics probably like the 2nd Edition a bit more, but it is really personal preference in both the translation and the edition.

The Bear just ordered the RSVCE from St. Benedict.

Reports of Ineffective Foot-Nailing

The Bear is alarmed to learn that since Cardinal Dolan decided to give his blessing to homosexual
depravity at the next St. Patrick's Day Parade, people who have followed the Bear's advice to "nail your foot to the floor in front of your favorite pew and die there," have nonetheless been bolting.

So for the duration of the current crisis, the Bear is making available:

  • three foot long augured stake
  • cold forged heavy-duty chain
  • 3-inch thick adjustable steel ankle bracelet that cannot be unlocked once applied. 

This gear has been tested in worst-case scenarios from the upcoming October synod without a single escapee. (During the "Pope Dolan" test one subject did chew his leg off.) Watch this space for further announcements.

The Traditional Works of Mercy

One thing the Bible envisions us doing is encouraging one another. The wonderful word used by the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE) is edifying, or building up. "29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. (Eph 4:29)."

Now edifying doesn't mean going around saying nice things all the time. When you build up a building, you do many different tasks. Some of them might look pretty destructive in isolation, but it is all part of the great project. The Church has provided further guidance in the old spiritual works of mercy, which we don't hear much about anymore (like so much else).
  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offenses willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.
Add to that the commission to spread the Gospel. The Bear supposes God expects you to use common sense in doing these things. The Bear tries to offer a little instruction (not to imply his readers are ignorant, or he's all that smart); to occasionally counsel the doubtful; to comfort the afflicted; and, once in awhile, to admonish sinners. Being a Bear, he is probably not doing a very good job, since to chase horses and to eat honey aren't on the list.

He does, however, remind you of this sound counsel of the Church. You can keep it in mind, if you wish, as a sort of mental checklist of things you should be doing. Certainly, we can all at least forgive offenses patiently and pray for the living and the dead.

And those are just the spiritual works of mercy. Here are the corporal works of mercy.
  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbor the harborless (or shelter the homeless);
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive (or visit the prisoner);
  • To bury the dead.
If you do these things, you will please God.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Watchmen

From Sunday's Old Testament reading.

7 “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.

RSVCE (Eze 33:7–8).

How is it that bloggers seem to be doing a better job at this than princes of the Church? Maybe we're collectively used by God. Or maybe God put this electronic printing press into the hands of the faithful just when some leaders can't shut up and others can't find their voices.

There has been a tiny thought scrabbling at the back of my skull ever since Dolan sat down next to Lot as one of the poobahs of Sodom. Dolan looks like such a jolly, open-faced fellow, it's easy to hope that he's in over his head, trapped, well-meaning, etc.

But then, he is a Cardinal. He is the Archbishop of New York. It is consistent with his previous remarks.

So, there is no reason to suppose this whole thing isn't exactly to his liking. Remember, this is the same Dolan who visited a madrassa and told Muslims he hoped they did a better job than Catholics at keeping their faith.

Heck, they truck in Brasso by the tanker full so Cardinal Dolan can polish his tolerance awards. Its one thing for us hicks in flyover country to be scandalized by homosexuality, but we're talking New York City! You may not have to be gay to be taken seriously, but you had better not make them mad.

If only they could find a gay Muslim group to march. Cardinal Dolan might leap down from the reviewing stand himself.

You Thought the Bear Was Kidding

Cookie cutter, icing mix, dye, pastry bag, and decorating tip.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

St. Corbinian's Day September 8

St. Corbinian's Bear carries the saint's baggage
after killing his delicious pack horse.

September 8 is St. Corbinian's Day! The Bear invites everyone to join him in celebrating the brave Gaul that tamed the savage Bear and undertook the difficult task of also taming the Germans of Freising in Bavaria. You can read all about St. Corbinian here, and there is some totally unofficial material here. Some other ideas are:

  • go backpacking
  • find a store with a sign that says Carne Equina and buy a delicious roast
  • dig out your old Teddy Bear and see if he still makes you feel nice
  • commune with nature
  • evangelize someone
  • drink some wonderful Korbinian's Doppelbock
  • remember Pope Emeritus Benedict, whose coat of arms bears the Bear
  • make St. Corbinian's Bear cookies: find a horse cookie cutter, decorate with icing and make little Xs for the eyes (if a leg should become detached, so much the better)
You and your kids can recreate the
Bear's fateful dinner.


St. Corbinian,
A heavy burden was laid upon you,
yet you accepted it with grace.
You tamed the savage bear,
and evangelized the Germans.
Help us accept the burdens God lays upon us,
and help us tame our own bearish inclinations.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A New Link to Check Out

I am adding a new link on the sidebar to the right. Uncommon Descent is officially an Intelligent Design blog, but Denyse O'Leary does a great job populating it with intellectually stimulating articles on the train wreck that is consensus science.

Denyse is a Canadian journalist who coauthored The Spiritual Brain. We corresponded back when I headed up one of the Illinois Death Penalty Trial Assistance offices. "Neurolaw" was (is) all the rage, and I wrote several articles for lawyers on what is mostly bunk.

Besides Intelligent Design articles, you can also find the latest on fraudulent science, the silly multiverse, and other interesting topics. This one on the multiverse is typical. (Don't forget to check out the links.)

So if you are interested in the intersection of faith and science, and the abuses of science in the cause of atheism, you will probably like Denyse's writing.

Why a Parade Matters

The Bear has collected his thoughts on why a parade matters. This story is emblematic of what's wrong with the Church.

As the recent flap about homosexuals marching in the St. Patrick's Day parade shows, Catholics are not all on the same page when it comes to controversial issues.

No one is suggesting that individual homosexuals be identified and prevented from marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade, or attending Mass, for that matter. If anyone raises a defense that sounds like that, they are being disingenuous. Let them march, but individually, not as demonstrators.

You see, the problem arises when homosexuals wish to make a cultural point by demonstrating as a group for the purpose of promoting their vice.

It is ludicrous that a Cardinal of the Church would entertain the possibility of presiding over such debauchery. But, incredibly, Cardinal Dolan sees no problem with it.

Some days it's hard to
get your Catholic on
What is going on in our Church? How has its public moral compass become so deranged? Perhaps people like Cardinal Dolan see the culture wars as a public relations loser, and believe it is best to make peace with the world, even on the world's terms. Homosexuals aren't going away. Does the Catholic Church really want to be seen as the Westboro Baptist Church on the Tiber? So, it looks like some want the Church to retire from the public square and hunker down in the Catholic Ghetto.

The solitary, pathetic goal of the V2 Church is to be the Nicest Church in the World.

Frankly the Bear is getting tired of being told what Catholic things he can't do anymore.

  • don't kneel for communion
  • don't proselytize (which is code for effective evangelization)
  • don't be salt
  • don't be light
  • don't be the city on the hill
  • don't try to shape the culture
  • don't insist on the uniqueness of the Catholic Church

Why does a parade matter? You might as well ask why does anything matter. Let's put this in context.

We could just relax, and go with the changes. If the Church says divorce and remarriage are fine, it will make a lot of people happy. Gay marriage is obviously what people want. It doesn't affect you, so why do you care? We care because:

  1. The Church claims to be a unique, divine institution. It does not follow the world, but revealed truth. If it merely follows the world, it is revealed as an institution of the world, and its claims to be divine are exposed as fraudulent. 
  2. Jesus specifically considered the "pastoral approach" of Moses toward divorce and rejected it. (Mat 19:3-9) If we ignore the teaching authority of Jesus, we must also deny his divinity: he was just a man of his times, perhaps wise and good, but no one to set standards for all time.
  3. The Church instructs the world, not the other way around. To be blunt, we have had 50 years of throwing the windows open and letting in the world, and the results are painfully obvious to everyone. When we get things backwards the Church decays in a thousand unpredictable ways.
  4. If the Church gets into the business of "de-sinning," what are the standards? What gets legalized? For every homosexual, there are 1000 or more people who enjoy pornography. Perhaps its reality as a legitimate expression of human sexuality should be recognized. Doctors tell us it's all perfectly natural and healthy, don't you know. Or perhaps we should permit a vote, so those who indulge in that vice can have their say, too.

If the Church changes to accommodate the sinful appetites of the world, it will be revealed to be something other than the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. It will be exposed as another worldly institution that lacks divine authority. The validity of the sacraments will be in doubt.

In short, if nothing matters, the Church is a fraud.

So that is why we care. One must conclude that those constantly pushing for change simply don't believe in the Church as a divine institution founded by Christ. Oh, the Bear is sure they don't admit that to themselves in so many words. But they've lost something.

They know the words, but they don't know the music.

You do. We know our Church is not a fraud. Some people in it, well, the Bear's not so sure.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dolan to Catholics: Everybody Into the Ghetto

One lesson the Bear had to learn about blogging was that he didn't have to write about every aspect of a story. So he's going to focus on just one thing about the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade controversy.

In case you've missed it, Timothy Cardinal Dolan is going to be grand marshal of next year's parade, which is fine. Unfortunately, it is going to be the first parade to allow openly gay marchers. Worse yet, Dolan has gone on record as saying he supports the decision.

The one thing the Bear wants to talk about is The Catholic Ghetto.

You see, nobody cares what Catholics do in their churches or their homes. Priests can give homilies about whatever they want. Catholics can eschew contraception and have ten kids apiece. Sure, the public might disapprove of much of Catholic life, but as long as we keep it on the down low, they'll tolerate us.

What makes them flip out is when Catholics step out of their churches and into the public square. They don't want to hear about our pro-life, pro-marriage propaganda. In an instant they'll go from "coexist" to screaming "keep your rosaries out of my ovaries."

Actions speak louder than words. What Cardinal Dolan is really saying is that the Catholic Church recognizes a difference between what goes on at St. Umptyfrat on Sunday morning and the real world. (By extension, he is insinuating that what goes on at St. Umptyfrat on Sunday morning isn't real, but the Bear wants to stay focused.) 

To Cardinal Dolan, the St. Patrick's Day Parade is not strictly a Catholic event (unless you count St. Patrick). It is a cultural event with sponsors, such as Guinness. (Guinness' threat to pull out was one reason the organizers let the homosexuals in. The Bear suggests Korbinian's Doppelbock as an alternative, a fine Benedictine brew that's a meal in a bottle.) In Cardinal Dolan's mind, Catholics must go along with whatever rules the organizers set. If it promotes a sin, Catholics must not only stay quiet, but pay ritual obedience to the Prince of the World by expressing approval.

There is an alternative. Cardinal Dolan can't change the rules. What he can do, however, is to refuse to burn a pinch of incense before the emperor's statue. Christians died rather than perform that one, small gesture of civic responsibility. He has a splendid platform and a huge audience at this moment. He could explain that the Catholic Church believes homosexuality is a grave sin, and that it is impossible for a Cardinal of the Catholic Church to be associated with any event that promotes it. It's not like he's going to be thrown to the lions, after all, so it would not take very much courage.

Of course, Cardinal Dolan would lose the good opinion of men if he actually spoke like a prince of the Church. So instead, he is essentially telling Catholics to get into the ghetto.

Because what else is it when we put on our Catholicism like our best Mass clothes on Sunday, but dare not speak of it anywhere else? Cardinal Dolan is saying this:

I am happy to lend the name of a beloved saint and the prestige of my office to a parade that will celebrate homosexuality. You see, this is not a religious event, therefore, I don't have anything to say about it. It is not my place as a Catholic to butt into secular affairs. Whatever the organizers decide is fine with me. It's not like they are coming into our churches and telling us what to do. So why should we tell them how to run their parade?

A ghetto is any ethnic or religious enclave. The Catholic Ghetto is the place we live if we do not challenge the world's immorality. The Catholic Ghetto is where we live when greet public immorality with "who am I to judge?" or "bravo!" or "I approve." Our prelates are building the Catholic Ghetto not to protect us from the world, but, bizarrely, to protect the world from us. Don't be salt. Don't be light. Don't be controversial. Don't judge. Don't proselytize.

This is the Bear's prayer. That one day all the cowards in high places may put the last brick in the wall of the Catholic Ghetto, only to find themselves the sole residents, where they can do no harm, and a vibrant, growing Church, filling the streets, transforming the world without them.

Why the Church Needs More Gay Bishops

Look. Homosexuals comprise less than 2% of the population in the United States. They've accomplished more in five years than the 25% of the population who are Catholic have accomplished in fifty. They have completely transformed the culture, morals and laws of the United States.

Isn't that what we want?

Homosexuals are change agents par excellence. Dolan gets this. They've got backbone, are tenacious and aren't afraid to ruffle feathers for their cause. Say what you want to about Dolan, but whether it's yucking it up with Obama, saying "bravo" to a homosexual athlete, or giving a hearty "booyah booyah" to drag queens in the big St. Patrick's Day parade, Dolan shows he can pick the winning pony.

As Grand Marshal of next year's St. Patrick's Day parade, he can make a powerful statement to homosexuals:

The bishops need you. You and whatever gay voodoo you do. Because whatever it takes to change society, we don't have any.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Upon This Rock

This is a followup to Monday's article on the important "upon this rock I will found my Church" declaration by Jesus in Matthew's gospel. The Bear wanted to connect the dots from an apologetics perspective. "Apologetics" means defending the Catholic faith. Catholics should know this, because it refers to the beginning of our Church and the papacy. Fortunately, it is not a hard argument to follow.

Upon This Rock

So simple, even a Bear
can understand it.
Simon was chief among the twelve apostles. It was Simon who first professed Jesus to be "the Messiah, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)

You can almost hear the delight in Jesus' voice when He responds. "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (vv. 17, 18.)

When God renames someone, it inaugurates a change in the person's life. Tricky little Jacob, in fretful sleep before meeting his estranged brother, Esau, wrestled with an angel. He was renamed "Israel" after the encounter. Jesus does not rename Simon just to make a clever pun, but to mark a major occasion. From now on Simon would be known as Peter. But what new role did God have in mind for Peter?

St. Pebbles?

Peter means "rock" in Greek. Protestants try to distinguish petros -- small stone -- which becomes Peter's name, from petra -- large rock -- for the rock of foundation. So, they argue, Peter is really more like "Pebbles," and could not be identified with the massive rock of the Church's foundation. That has to be something else, such as Peter's faith in Jesus as the Christ, not Peter himself.

There are problems with this interpretation, however. One is that there is no evidence in the Koine Greek of New Testament times for a distinction between petros - little rock and petra - big rock. So why Petros vs. petra? Well, it would hardly do to give a man a name with a feminine ending, would it? It would be like referring to George Clooney as an "actress."

But even more to the point is that Jesus never spoke the words in Greek! In Aramaic the word in both instances is kepha. So it goes, in Aramaic, "you are kepha, and upon this kepha I will build my church." So, in the memorable Aramaic words of Our Lord, there is only one word for "rock" used both for Peter's name, and for the foundation of the Church.

Peter the Foundation?

Protestants sometimes prefer a strained interpretation to counter a Catholic truth than accept the most natural and sensible interpretation. If Jesus is not founding his Church on the person of Peter what is he using as the foundation? Protestants will usually say it is what Peter said, his expression of faith. That is why it was so surprising to hear that Protestant argument from the Pope. 

The problem is, there is no need to rename Simon if it was only his faith, not his person. Jesus would have said -- if he had wished to avoid confusion -- something like this: Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, your faith is the rock on which I will build my church. 

Of course, without the name change, there is no need for any mention of "rock" at all. Better would have been: this is the foundation upon which I will build my Church. If Catholics are wrong, Jesus merely confused things by talking about rocks and changing Simon's name. (Sort of like the Eucharistic Discourse in John, but that's another topic.)

But Catholics are not wrong, and the passage makes sense only when understood as Catholics have always understood it. 

The Keys to the Kingdom

And keep in mind Jesus was not finished. Without missing a beat, Jesus goes on to give the newly renamed Peter some pretty amazing authority. "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (v.19.)


Keep the context in mind. If Peter wasn't so special -- as the Protestants claim -- why does Jesus immediately grant him the power of the keys? This passage is all about Peter. Peter is the rock of foundation.

This grant of the keys to Peter is unique. Now, Jesus knew that the Church would extend into the distant future. Are we to imagine that this power would only need to be exercised until Peter's martyrdom in 64 A.D.? Clearly Christ was doing exactly what he said: founding a Church on the person of His chief apostle, and establishing the authority for continuing governance. 

Doesn't it feel good to know you're in the Church?

This is the message that should be sent out. If you are not in the Church, you have chosen a self-imposed exile in a howling wilderness of error. Christ established the Catholic Church as a visible feature of history with well-defined boundaries. That's what so many seem to be uncomfortable with. A real Church, with a mission, a history, and hard edges. It's the Church Militant, not the Church Imaginary. 

Apologetics remind us of the facts behind our Faith. We should be able to correct sloppiness, no matter where it comes from.


Generally, Beginning Apologetics 1, pp. 16-20, Fr. Frank Chacom and Jim Burnham (2010). NOTE: the Bear has the entire set, which does a good job of setting forth the arguments supporting Catholic doctrines which are most often disputed.

Scripture quotes are from the New American Bible. (2011). (Revised Edition., Mt 16:13–19). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Any Changes in The Vortex After Church Militant TV's Break?

Michael Voris is back after the Church Militant TV spiritual and professional retreat. The Bear was curious if they would decide to talk about Pope Francis.

So far, no. They are hitting the bishops hard, as we have seen before, and promise to take on EWTN. The tease seems to indicate Mother Angelica's network has been co-opted by the "Church of Nice," as Voris likes to call the Catholic establishment.

So, in case you don't watch The Vortex regularly, the Bear will continue to highlight interesting episodes. He will also be watching for signs of any change in approach by Mister Vee and company.

RCIA Starts; Bear's Mate's a Witch

The Bear has been allotted one evening, and the topic is Dogma and the Papacy.

Delicious, yes.

It gets even better. On the prepared syllabus it says "Vatican II -- non-dogmatic."

Maybe she's just a Bat Christian.
Now, about the Bear's mate. He has mislaid his copy of Malleus Maleficarum, but is pretty sure the following evidence would secure her conviction of witchcraft (at least by some judges the Bear has practiced before). Yesterday, when she opened her umbrella, inside were two wasps, a spider web, and a bat.

So, she's either a witch, or she needs to use her umbrella more often.

Come to think of it, this is not the first bat event with her. One evening we went out on a lake in our canoe. Since the canoe is required to have lights, she attached powerful LED lights to her head. When it got dark, bats started dive-bombing her head.

She said the lights attracted bugs, which attracted hungry bats.

Up until this latest incident, the Bear believed her.

Now he's thinking the evidence is tipping toward witch. But this sort of cute witch.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pope: Rock Not Peter After All

St. Peter: rock, or a guy with a great idea?
Pope Francis said a curious thing in his Angelus message of August 24th.
"The Lord has in mind a picture of the structure, an image of the community like a building. This is why, when he hears Simon’s candid profession of faith, he calls him a “rock”, and declares his intention to build his Church upon this faith."
Ever since there have been Protestants, Catholics have been arguing that Matthew 16:15-19 means Jesus founded his Church on the person of Peter as the first of many popes. Protestants have been arguing everything except that, but especially that Jesus was referring to Simon Bar-Jonah's faith.

It may seem like the Bear is being picky, but this is an important Catholic proof text, and one that always comes up when Protestants attempt to proselytizing Catholics.

Here's the passage:
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 
New American Bible. (2011). (Revised Edition., Mt 16:15–19). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church's glossary identifies the person of Peter as the rock upon which the Church would be established. The following is typical of Catholic apologetics.
Until Jesus named Peter, Scripture only referred to God as “rock,” in the sense of an unfailing bulwark against the powers of evil. By making Peter the “rock” of His Church, Christ grants him divine authority over the Church on earth as His universal Vicar. He gives Peter divine power to fulfill his mission. The name “Rock” identifies Peter’s mission with the authority of Christ. The primary function of this authority is unity (cf. Lk. 22:31–32).
Suprenant, L. J., Jr., & Gray, P. C. L. (1999). Faith Facts: Answers to Catholic Questions (Vol. 1, p. 26). Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing.

Again, it has been Protestants who have argued that Jesus meant Peter's faith, usually followed by specious arguments based on bad Greek and obliviousness to Aramaic. This is a killer text for them, and they know it. That is why they bring their best arguments.

By suggesting that the Rock means anything but Peter, the scriptural underpinnings of the papacy are attacked, and a huge point is conceded to Protestants. To put it another way, Pope Francis is sawing off the branch on which he is sitting! Why?

The Pope adds:
On his side, Peter is the rock, the visible foundation of the Church’s unity; but every baptized person is called to offer Jesus his or her lowly but sincere faith, so that He may continue to build his Church, today, in every part of the world.
Now Peter is given back a unique position, at least, but not of authority, not of binding and loosing, but as "the visible foundation of the Church's unity." Presumably that means there is an invisible foundation of an invisible and greater Church. Because, at the same time, "every baptized person is called to offer Jesus his or her lowly but sincere faith, so that He may continue to build his Church."

People messing with the Church
makes me go all 2 Kings 2:24
Not just Catholics, mind you, but all baptized persons add their little rocks of faith so Jesus may build his (invisible) Church (of all believers). The Bear might wonder if he was reading too much into this except this isn't the first time we've heard this. Pope Francis speaks in code, but we're getting pretty good at reading him by now.

This idea of a "Church of Christ" that is "bigger" than the mere Catholic Church was sort of floated in Vatican II. Not officially, but it unnecessarily muddied the waters by references to a "Church of Christ" seemingly not exactly the same as the Catholic Church. It is hard to distinguish it from the "invisible Church of all believers" beloved by Protestants. It has been officially swatted down within the Church, but it just shrugs off the blows and eventually pops up whenever a true Vatican-2-nista talks about the Church.

Of course Protestants, lacking any historical Church, need this invisible, made-up Church. It makes sense that they have invented it. Catholics, however, don't need it and should be crystal clear about the real Church.

This is so important, the Bear must say it again. The visible, historical Roman Catholic Church is the Church. It is the Church founded by Jesus Christ upon the Apostle Peter, the first pope, to whom Jesus gave the keys. There is no invisible "superchurch" whose boundaries are more extensive than the visible Church's, encompassing all sorts of Protestants, people of other faiths and atheists who aren't ax-murderers or anything.

Peter? According to Pope Francis, he's a symbol of unity and an example of faith. Maybe that's something the Protestants can finally get behind, no?

What is one to make of this mess, except that it doesn't sound very Catholic? Read it all in context here to see what you think. But you would have to twist the words to get them into any sort of Catholic shape. The Bear believes these little "slips" add up to a novel perspective on most of what well-catechized Catholics understand to be the truth.
Is it too late for Francis to
become a Trappist?

We can seldom say exactly what Pope Francis is saying. But this does not keep us from having a pretty good idea what he's thinking.

Here, At a minimum he is obfuscating a key point in Catholic apologetics and smudging the Church's bona fides. Not that it matters to him. Apologetics is tainted by proselytizing.

But that's why it's important to clean up after him. We've heard this meme twice in our parish since, that it was Peter's faith that was the rock, not Peter himself. We all need to be clear that Our Lord established His Church on the person of Peter and gave him the keys to the kingdom.

Why do we have to re-argue these old Seventh Day Adventist chestnuts with our own Pope?

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