Friday, October 31, 2014

Burke Gets It

From an article in Vatican Insider about more comments from Cardinal Burke.

The Pope rightly speaks of the need to go out to the peripheries,” the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura said. “The people have responded very warmly to this. But we cannot go to the peripheries empty-handed. We go with the Word of God, with the Sacraments, with the virtuous life of the Holy Spirit. I am not saying the Pope does this, but there is a risk of the encounter with culture being misinterpreted. Faith cannot adapt to culture but , must call to it to convert. We are a counter-cultural movement, not a popular one.

The common thread running through "The Francis Effect," is not the Church's transformation of the culture, but the Church's adaptation to the culture, or, to say it in Biblical terms, the world. Cardinal Burke's words are pure gold.

Fortunately for us, all of this is way above our pay grade. God will handle all of this in his own way and in his own time. The Bear isn't just saying this. This is what he believes. Not a single one of our duties has changed. Sleep soundly tonight, for a far greater and more loving presence than the Bear watches over the woods.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

May the Force Be With You

It's in the Bible!

More than half of Evangelicals believe the Holy Spirit is "a force," according to a poll conducted by LifeWay Research.

And this, kids, is why we need a rock solid magisterium, and what happens when people depart from the Holy Catholic Church. The Bear believes people have no idea just how different Protestantism is from Catholicism.

If an intelligent Catholic is puzzled by something, she will consult what the Church teaches, and perhaps inquire of some of the greatest minds in Christian history, or maybe ask Father.

Yeah, they got hair, too.
A Protestant will open his Bible and try to figure it out on his own, or, possibly, "ask Pastor." (There is also Beth Moore's latest book.) You see, one's personal interpretation of the Bible (or, rather, the part Protestants retained) is the first and final authority. They are a religion of the book, like Muslims.

Catholicism is a religion of the Church. The Bible is honored as inerrant (by some more than others) but is always interpreted within the protective hedge of the magisterium.

Protestant = Book. Catholicism = Church. There are huge implications to this simple contrast.

Nonetheless, the more we can accommodate these people and adopt their methods and beliefs, the happier most in the Church leadership are. The question is, why?

Pope Makes Headlines by Saying Something

The Bear will be busy doing autumn chores like sleeping and eating pot roast. Therefore he is pre-writing his blog for the next day or two:

(Rome) Pope Francis today uttered a bourgeois commonplace that sent shock waves through the Catholic Church.

A typical reaction was that of thirty-two year old Catholic mom Mary Summerville, of Brook Lawn, Massachusetts. "I just love this Pope. I can't remember a pope who, like, said stuff."

Of course, not everyone was happy with the Pope's comments. "He's reckless," charged Michael Wentworth, who writes a conservative Catholic blog called "Burn In Hell Forever, O Damned." "We get statement after statement, but there's never any theological context. Does he have an agenda?  Or is he just a guy who likes going around saying stuff like the stuff he said?"

Sources close to the Vatican say Pope Francis plans on saying something again over the next few days that will cause similar reactions among the same groups.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Descent Into Hell

The Bear thinks he mentioned he is reading Charles Williams' 1937 novel Descent Into Hell.

It is a challenging book, but one of the scariest the Bear has read. It is about the small ways people send themselves to Hell.

One character is a military historian who has had a scholarly feud with a peer over the position of some troops in a single battle during the War of the Roses. It means nothing, really, except that his position is his, and the other historian's position isn't.

On one particularly disappointing day, the scholarly gentleman opens the newspaper to see that his rival has received a knighthood! Just at that moment, he could have rejoiced in his friend's good fortune. At the very least, if he couldn't manage that, he could have willed the intention of joy. That's all. But no, he gives himself utterly over to envy and hatred and self-pity. Such petty decisions are the stuff of damnation in Descent into Hell. Titanic battles are waged in the small precincts of everyday life.

The Bear has always thought headlines in Heaven are much different from ours. Instead of great affairs of state, they blare that Sidney Settlemeyer wanted to ask for seconds, but didn't.

This being a fantasy novel, there is a doppelganger, a succubus, the ghost of a suicide, places where the past is uncomfortably near to the present, and more. The prose borders on the poetic. It is not a book that would be published today, but makes an excellent Halloween read for the patient and carries a profound spiritual message.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Frankly, My Dear...

The Big News is that the Pope has an opinion on evolution, and that Cardinal Burke was misquoted in the story about him criticizing the Pope. Both of these are stories.

Cardinal Burke Quote

What he said: "I can't speak for the pope and I can't say what his position is on this, but the lack of clarity about the matter has certainly done a lot of harm."

What Buzzfeed said he said: "According to my understanding of the church's teaching and discipline, no, it wouldn't be correct," Burke said, saying the pope had "done a lot of harm" by not stating "openly what his position is."

The Bear reads these two, and, while the original Buzzfeed text is a bit punchier, and made for a more dramatic opening to the piece Michael Voris did and later apologized for, it is hard to say Cardinal Burke was flat-out misquoted. Both convey that the Pope's failure to stake out a position has either "certainly done a lot of harm," or "done a lot of harm."

The Bear's Vaticanometer must be not be calibrated finely enough to get excited about this.

The Pope on Evolution

The Pope has an opinion on cosmology and evolution, so, of course, he shared it with the world. First of all, do we even need to talk about this? Do we need to gather 'round the table every time Pope Francis opens his mouth and have a family discussion?

The Bear submits that his opinion on cosmology and evolution is at least as good as Pope Francis'. What does it mean that God is "not a magician" who can wave his wand and do whatever he wants? What does it mean for dogmas like original sin, like the immaculate conception, for Paul's arguments in the Bible contrasting Christ with Adam if there is no Adam, or Eve? Is there reason to think God did not, or was unable, to create Adam and Eve by direct and miraculous means? As for waving his wand like a magician, what does that mean? Like instantly turning water into wine at Cana? Is this now also too unscientific for the Franciscan Church?

Ironically, the HMS Darwin is more than happy to be lashed to the side of the Barque of Peter because many informed and independent thinkers are moving away from the old Selfish Gene / Survival of the Fittest Darwinian paradigm. The Bear wonders if the Pope is up on his epigenetics, and intelligent design theory? One doubts. As with so much else, Pope Francis is simply reciting conventional wisdom as held by an elderly man of apparently average intellect ("evolution;" "who am I to judge?") that is news solely because he happens to be Pope.

Like so much Pope Francis says, its purpose seems to be to assure Modern Man that it is respectable to be Catholic.

Gays? Hrumph, certainly, well, don't you know, indeed, good show there. Evolution? We're all evolutionists! No 'magicians in the sky' here, no sir, don't get us confused with the fundies, not that there's anything wrong with that.

With all due respect, the Pope would really be much happier as a blogger. Then he could tip-type away with all his fingers every day about What Jorge Thinks About Everything, and it would mean nothing. (Trust the Bear, he knows.) This papacy has the lowest signal to noise ratio of any papacy in history.

Oh, what does the Pope think about cosmology and evolution? Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

The Death Penalty

It is rare that the Bear gets to address a topic he actually knows something about. The Bear has defended many (and prosecuted one) death penalty cases. He was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to screen death penalty lawyers, and has presented at death penalty seminars from one end of the state to the other.

Only one of his cases wound up on death row -- the one he prosecuted.

The Pope has just mentioned the death penalty. ("Mention" is the weightiest description one can ascribe to the Pope's incessant commentary.) The Bear thought he would toss his own few biscuits into the brunch.

  • The more traditionalist the Catholics (or conservative the Protestants) the more favorable they are to the death penalty. The Bear has found it ironic that a religion whose chief symbol is a man being executed should not find some spill-over compassion on the practice in our own day. Are political leanings always or necessarily a predictor of religious views?
  • In one mock jury done in trial preparation, the most effective argument in favor of life was mercy. People still respond to an appeal to the sheer grace of mercy.
  • The best argument against the death penalty is that we know for certain innocent people are occasionally imprisoned, usually through one or both of mistaken eyewitness evidence or false confession. Many wrongfully imprisoned prisoners have been freed. The Bear cannot recall a wrongfully executed person come back to life.
  • Long imprisonment is, indeed, a severe punishment. Sometimes it seems like the fight is over execution vs. letting someone go entirely. The Pope even spoke against life without parole (LWOP). While the Bear thinks it is proper for the Pope to be the voice of mercy in this matter, he has no strong feelings about LWOP. As a practical matter, few senior citizens are a menace to society, and the Bear sees no harm to promising inmates a light at the end of the tunnel, however remote. A man with hope is more likely to incline to good than a man who knows he will only leave prison in a box.
  • The father of all murderers was Cain, whom God did not only decline to kill, but forbade others from killing. Of course, the later code provides for execution for nearly anything, including fighting with your parents! The Bible certainly does not forbid capital punishment, nor was the Church a stranger to it.
  • Capital punishment made more sense before the modern corrections system made long-term imprisonment a practical reality.
  • Everyone imagines the appeal to victims' families' "need for closure," or revenge is a strong argument. But since when do we allow the most interested parties' indulgence in their worst -- if perfectly understandable -- instincts to drive policy? For, surely, we can agree that the grieving parent who forgives a murderer is heroically like Christ, who forgave his murderers? Isn't that the better course, for those who can? If someone -- God forbid -- harmed a family member of the Bear, heroic charity is the last thing you would see. But he would have to admit he was more of a Bear, and less of a Christian. Why should the law be driven by the desires of the very most interested parties, rather than step back and act disinterestedly?
  • Capital punishment is not a deterrence. It's just not. The Bear has studied many murders in minute detail, and got to know many murderers better than their own mothers. Fact: people who kill other people are not thinking ahead. Of course, there are always exceptions, but the typical murderer is stupid and drunk and/or high and kills on the spur of the moment, or with a poorly though-out plan that leaves out important details like how to dispose of the body or escape. These are not masterminds who will consider the death penalty before killing. For one reason, they don't think they'll be caught, or don't even consider the possibility.
  • There are particularly heartless, selfish, and premeditated crimes that seem to bury the Pope's words in their sheer enormity. One thinks of Chris Coleman, who pleaded guilty to an elaborate scheme to murder his lovely wife and two beautiful sons in order to run off with a dog track waitress. It is an odd thing to compare murders, although lawyers find themselves having to do it all the time. Every murder leaves a hole in the world, and in people's heart, but seem seem particularly wicked. A hard discussion on capital punishment can't leave out those crimes, but emotion shouldn't dominate policy.
  • There are psychopaths, who are intraspecies predators. There is evidence that their brains function differently. They don't get better, and they aren't treatable. They are dangerous on the outside, but what if their brains rob them of empathy and otherwise predispose them to violence? Oddly, they couple the best arguments for both sides: they are the "mad dogs" if ever there were, yet they also aren't completely responsible due to (research strongly suggests) brains that don't work right.
  • The current experiment with drawn-out and botched lethal injection is a failure. If we're going to do it, there are older, and surer, methods.
You might imagine the Bear would be an ardent opponent of capital punishment. His career has undoubtedly made him more willing to listen to the Church on this matter, but he isn't much of a movement Bear.

From his own experience, the Bear can say one thing. He has seen a criminal on television, and felt the visceral hatred rise, only to end up representing that very person. The more you learn about someone, the more you see him as a person, albeit a person who has committed a murder. It is hard to contemplate someone you know being executed. Those who support the death penalty always deny the humanity of the accused. "Monster," or "inhuman," or "animal" are words you will always hear around a murder case.

The Bear learned that there are no monsters. There are only people who are capable of doing very bad things, and that the difference between him and a murderer is one of degree, not kind. He honors the image of God in the victim, but also in the killer, no matter how disfigured it may be. It is easy to kill a monster. Few people ever get to know the unique person facing execution, or they might think twice.

So these, then, are the Bear's thoughts on the death penalty. They have been formed by an unusual career, and articulated by the Church. The Bear does not expect anyone to agree with him, nor does he think anyone has to. You probably have to have been there to get some of this. The Church's position on the death penalty is in some ways a novelty, although the Bear thinks it is sound.

Pope Bows to Ecumenical Patriarch, Does Not Kiss Feet for Some Reason

Featured post from the past.

Acting on a whim originating in his idiosyncratic view of the Church he leads, Jorge Bergoglio bows and seeks a blessing from the schismatic Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch.

Unless he is willing to give up entirely the role and position of the Roman Catholic Church -- which he may be, were it possible -- this is just wrong. He is Peter. The lower does not bless the higher. The lower is blessed by the higher. The lower bows to the higher, the higher does not bow to the lower. In Jorge Bergoglio's mind, however, all questions of supremacy and hierarchy are set aside in the warm glow of confusion that characterizes his life.

Of course, he has always had this impulse to bow to heretics and schismatics.

This man, Jorge Bergoglio, seems willing to abandon the Petrine Office and act on his eccentric,  private impulses at the drop of a hat. He may always be the Pope, but it seems he often sets aside the responsibilities of that office -- not the least of which is keeping up appearances -- and bumbles along with his personal Humble Jorge schtick.

Senor Bergoglio, please. You must know that reunion with the Orthodox is a fool's errand. Yes, it would be a glorious feat were you to pull it off, and you would be very, very famous in history, and even more people would love, love, love you.

But the Orthodox are still mad about the sack of Constantinople by Crusaders, and reject the filoque. As is the fate of all who leave Peter's side, they have split into their national churches, and countless subsects. Orthodoxy is not catholic, but nationalistic. Surely Senor Beroglio knows this? Even if Bartholemew were charmed into going along (retaining the odd heresy here and there, of course) the Russians and Bulgarians and all the rest of the Orthodox crazy quilt wouldn't follow, nor does he have the authority to make them.

Perhaps Pope Francis will give up primacy, and achieve reunion with Orthodox and Anglicans in one fell swoop as the Bishop of Rome among brother bishops. Of course, he cannot, but he seems to enjoy dancing to that music.

At what point does humility become a twisted pride in one who imagines he can personally transcend all, and change the world by his example? The Bear cannot read Jorge Bergoglio's heart, but only watch what he does, and listen to what he says.

And the problem with this picture is that it is worth a thousand words.

Thanks to Rorate Caeli.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

John Allen at the Snows

Is anyone planning on going to see John Allen at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Saturday for "The Francis Revolution?" Here is how the Snows describes it. 

Throughout his public life, both as an individual and as a religious leader, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, his concern for the poor and his commitment to dialogue as a way to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, beliefs and faiths. 
Join us as John Allen, an author and reporter for the Vatican, talks about Pope Francis’ first year in the papacy.

The Bear is probably going. Tickets are $25; call here: (618) 394-6270.

The Bear does not think Reuben sandwiches or the salad bar are included, though.

New Poll

So, what do you think about Michael Voris and his Vortex program? The Bear is curious. If you care to note any changes in your opinion, and the reason therefor, please leave your comments here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Infant Jesus of Prague

The Bear and his mate visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois yesterday. (It's the only place around here you can find a good Reuben sandwich, among its other attractions.)

In the gift shop, the Bear's eye was caught by a doll of a crowned child. One hand held an orb, the other was raised in blessing. Little fancy garments were offered for sale alongside it. It was the Infant Jesus of Prague, of course, but beyond that the Bear knew little. He had seen a few in Catholic homes, usually under a glass dome. Frankly, they seemed weird and a little over-the-top.

After returning home, however, the Bear's mind kept returning to the innocent, if strange, image. Each time his thoughts rested on the Infant Jesus of Prague, his heart felt an unaccustomed lightness. The infancy, the childhood of Jesus, spent within the loving embrace of Mary and Joseph. Why not have a devotion to the Child Jesus? After all, many saints have. St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis, and Bernard of Clairvaux come to mind. That night, pleasant dreams followed, involving a baby.

How strange for a Bear to be touched by a dressed-up baby doll!

The origin of the Infant Jesus of Prague can be traced to Spain, where pious legend says it was once owned by St. Teresa of Avila. It came into the hands of a noble Spanish family, and was brought to Prague when a daughter of the family married a nobleman there. The woman's daughter later presented it to some Carmelite novices, and the Hapsburg Emperor Ferdinand II provided funds for its honor and upkeep.

In 1630, the Protestant army of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden rampaged through Prague and sacked the oratory where the Little King was installed. The statue was buried in trash, its hands broken off. Seven years later, Fr. Cyrillus is said to have been miraculously led to the statue. It remains to this day displayed in an elaborate shrine in Our Lady of Victory, Prague.

Like many Catholic devotions, it is surrounded by an extravagant growth of promises and reported miracles. Perhaps we have learned to be too cynical in our day as we believe our ancestors to have been too credulous.

The clothes are modeled on the fashions of 17th century aristocrats -- He may be a child, but He is a king, after all! They are often changed in keeping with the colors of the Church calendar.

The motto associated with the statue comes from Fr. Cyrillus' vision: "The more you honor me, the more I will bless you." The devotion was granted a plenary indulgence by Pope Leo XIII.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Michael Voris Still Michael Voris

Michael Voris of Church Militant TV has publicly fallen on his sword for going with Cardinal Burke's comments about the Pope "harming the Church"  in a way that led we "third rate" bloggers and those in our comboxes to claim Voris had finally succumbed to the temptation to criticize the Pope.

The Bear has always shrugged and said the policy of Church Militant TV is whatever they want it to be. It isn't the Bear's place to even comment on it.

As for those who thought Voris was at long last going to start criticizing the Pope, this is what the Bear wrote on October 18 :

You know in his heart of hearts, Michael Voris has felt that Pope Francis is harming the Church. It must have been very satisfying for him to, at long last, say it, even if they were someone else's words. The Bear does not expect this to signal a change from the "hey, nobody toucha the pope, capice?" policy. If anything, there is less reason now than before, after the Pope appears to be hoist on his own petard.

So, perhaps we have risen to the status of a second rate blog!

Michael Voris, does however, feel it is his place to comment on those who disagree with his policy.

The Bear does what he does. No doubt some of it is edifying, and some of it isn't. Some of it is done with a pure heart, and some out of a mixture of pride in his own imagined cleverness. Has the Bear ever bragged about how wonderful or impressive his apostolate is?

No. He knows his limitations.

Right from the start, anyone who wanders into the forest knows that the author of this blog is nothing but a Bear. Not even a human being, but a beast that struggles to walk on its hind legs in pathetic imitation of real men. (Take that for a metaphor, if you wish.)

Expect some clowning, and expect some roaring. Beyond that, the Bear can't make any promises.

Except that he'll be honest with you, and not play any have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too-while-scolding-you-for-having-your-cake games

The Bear could say more, but Michael Voris seems pretty upset already about the whole thing. The Bear still considers him a friend, but feels a bit Bearish at the moment.

Here's the "Clarification" for your perusal. What do you think? It's all fascinating to watch, but pay particular attention at the 3:00 minute mark.

Query: just a couple of pieces down here, the Bear wrote about the "Best Vortex Ever." Do you think THAT is really the broadcast that got things stirred up?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Jenga Problem

Rorate Caeli has an excellent piece by John Zmirak that says better what the Bear has been arguing for some time. It is so basic, how can prelates who would even think to come up with the infamous Relatio not get it?

The Bear calls it the Jenga Problem. As you know, Jenga is a game in which long wooden blocks are stacked into a tower. Play consists of players removing a block each in turns, until a block is pulled that brings the whole thing down.

If you pull the Guardian Angel block, sure, that's an important one, but in the hierarchy of Catholic teachings, it is "only" theologically certain, not dogma. You have every reason to believe you have a guardian angel, but it is not de fide. You can deny your guardian angel and remain a Catholic in good standing. (You may wish you were a little more appreciative when he's standing next to you come Judgment Day.)

But marriage? Holy Matrimony isn't just another block. It's a sacrament. On the face of it, it is what secures future generations of Catholics. That means priests and bishops, provided Catholics start breeding like good Roman rabbits again. (And don't say it can't be done these days; look at the pew-filling, philoprogenitive traddies at your local Latin Mass.) But beyond the obvious, the indissolubility of marriage was defined infallibly by the Council of Trent.

So if the Church were to change its teaching on marriage, there goes the infallibility block. Make no mistake, it would mean the end of all infallibility in principle. This is so because, if the Church got even one infallible teaching wrong, there is no reason to believe any other so-called "infallible" teaching by a council. It is like a bursting bubble. Everything, from the divinity of Christ to Papal Infallibility is up for grabs.

Papal Infallibility? Why yes. It was defined as a dogma by the Vatican I council in 1870. All councils are suspect, remember. So there goes the papal infallibility.

But the disaster is just beginning. The Bible records Jesus Christ as saying if someone gets divorced (for reasons other than sexual immorality) then remarries, that person and their new spouse commit adultery. No more scriptural inerrancy if Jesus never taught that.

But wait, what if the Bible got it right? What is the implication of the Church teaching something directly contrary to what Jesus said? One of two very bad outcomes. Jesus didn't know what he was talking about, OR the Church is deliberately rejecting an important teaching from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself. Either way, by now, there goes the whole Jenga tower of the Church.

Game over, man.

What in Hell's name are these men playing at?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Best Vortex Ever?

Got to hand it to Michael Voris and Church Militant TV. He's saying it without saying it, but everybody knows he's saying what needs to be said. And -- this is the important part -- he's adding what needs to be remembered after all is said and done. The Bear salutes the Hair!

The results of the Bear's last poll demonstrated that his readers are in it for the long haul, no matter what. Good job! And, please, do read the piece below about Pascal and Jesuitical casuistry. It's pretty amazing that the current leadership of the Church is using a 500 year-old playbook and no less than Blaise Pascal was writing against them in the 17th century.

Pascal and the Casuistry of Jesuits

Francisco Suarez was a 17th century Jesuit who is remembered chiefly for his "casuistry," or tackling moral problems on in a case-by-case basis. As a practical matter, this led to moral laxity, although Suarez himself led an upright life. Indeed, it was said he "purchased Heaven dearly for himself, but gave it away cheaply to others."

The Bear wagers you know Pascal.
Blaise Pascal wrote against the casuistry of Jesuits in his Lettres Provinciales, particularly letter VI, from which the Bear shall quote below. There was hardly any sin which Jesuits might not excuse. Today, the word "casuistry" is only used in a negative connotation, as avoiding guilt through clever argumentation. The reality, though, has never been more alive.

Instead we use terms like "pastoral approach," or "mercy," or "gradualism."

Pascal turned the writings of the Jesuit casuists against them wittily, although in an admittedly polemical fashion. Here is how they introduce a new doctrine into the Church without doing anything officially, as explained by a Jesuit character:
Pay attention now, while I explain our method, and you will observe the progress of a new opinion, from its birth to its maturity. First, the grave doctor who invented it exhibits it to the world, casting it abroad like seed, that it may take root. In this state it is very feeble; it requires time gradually to ripen. This accounts for Diana, who has introduced a great many of these opinions, saying: ‘I advance this opinion; but as it is new, I give it time to come to maturity — relinquo tempori maturandum.’ Thus in a few years it becomes insensibly consolidated; and, after a considerable time, it is sanctioned by the tacit approbation of the Church, according to the grand maxim of Father Bauny, ‘that if an opinion has been advanced by some casuist, and has not been impugned by the Church, it is a sign that she approves of it.’ 
Sound familiar? Recall that Pascal was writing in the 17th century! And what was the goal of the Jesuit casuists? Pascal places into the mouth of his Jesuit character a little speech that rings shockingly true today.
Men have arrived at such a pitch of corruption nowadays that, unable to make them come to us, we must e’en go to them, otherwise they would cast us off altogether; and, what is worse, they would become perfect castaways. It is to retain such characters as these that our casuists have taken under consideration the vices to which people of various conditions are most addicted, with the view of laying down maxims which, while they cannot be said to violate the truth, are so gentle that he must be a very impracticable subject indeed who is not pleased with them. The grand project of our Society, for the good of religion, is never to repulse any one, let him be what he may, and so avoid driving people to despair.
When Pascal tries to interpose the laws of the Church as an objection, his imaginary Jesuit interlocutor is unruffled.
“True,” he replied; “but this shows you do not know another capital maxim of our fathers, ‘that the laws of the Church lose their authority when they have gone into desuetude — cum jam desuetudine abierunt — as Filiutius says. We know the present exigencies of the Church much better than the ancients could do.
Even homosexuality was excused. When Pope Pius V's legislation against homosexual acts among clergy was brought up (without mentioning the sin itself) Pascal was invited to examine the Jesuits' written response. He writes: "I did so that very night; but it is so shockingly bad that I dare not transcribe it."

The Bear has written before of the importance of the concept of "desuetude." Notice how former dogmas are merely silently abandoned when they become inconvenient?

The historical memory is an important thing. As Jeremiah 13:23 reminds us, the leopard does not change its spots.

The Church is merciful to the repentant. How much more merciful could she be than to forgive every sin, no matter how horrible, to those who confess them sincerely?

But we are worse off with our present-day casuists than was the Church in Pascal's day. Today sinners don't want forgiveness. They feel entitled to denial of the sin and themselves to be granted vindication and acceptance. The casuists of our day seem more than happy to comply.

Even Francisco Suarez would probably be scratching his head at that.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Unfamiliar Taste of Victory

One of my Army sons called tonight. I could hear the smile in his voice. "I just wanted to say I've been reading your blog. Things went well. I wanted to say that to you. Nothing ever goes right, in elections, or the Church, but it did this time."

Here's a man in his mid-20s, whose first elections when he was paying attention put Barack Obama in the White House. Then Obama was re-elected. His first grown-up papal election brought us Pope Francis. (The Bear will never forget his other Army son calling so we could share the "white smoke moment" when Pope Francis was elected.)

In his experience, the world doesn't get it right very often. He's never had a Ronald Reagan, or a St. John Paul II. When it comes to a leaders, it's always an Obama or a Francis.

The Bear can't seem to stop saying it, but we witnessed something remarkable, even historic. For once, the news made sense. The outcome brought a big smile and the need to share it with another. He's tasted public victory for the first time.

Here is where all the caveats go: Francis is still the Pope; there's another synod coming; the world will continue down the wide road of homomania; there are still Germans, etc.

But not tonight. It's a crisp fall evening and glad tidings are in the air. A glass of Korbinian's Doppelbock and a good briar pipe with a fine English blend call. God is in His heaven and all is right with the world.

10 Things to Know and Share About the Middle Way

Now that Pope Francis has exhorted Catholics to avoid extremism on both sides, the Bear offers a few tips so you can be Catholic enough, without being too Catholic.

  1. Go to Mass every other week.
  2. Drive to Mass on the center line of the street, taking up an equal amount of each lane.
  3. Go to confession seldom, and don't get bogged down in a bunch of scrupulous details. God knows you're trying, no matter what you've done. (Yes, no matter what.)
  4. If you must read the Bible, only pay attention to "nice Jesus."
  5. Hang out with outcasts like prostitutes. (See No. 3)
  6. Do not read St. Corbinian's Bear (extreme traditionalist) or Women Priests (just a tad too progressive). There's always Patheos for good, solid Catholicism. (But not too solid.)
  7. Best not to read at all, except for Pope Francis' homilies. (That's why there are so many of them!)
  8. Rosary? Seriously? Put that time into community organizing.
  9. Never listen to an African. Or a Bear.
  10. Most of all, study Buddha. After all, he's the one who invented The Middle Way.

Can readers contribute any tips of their own?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The False Middle Way Rejects Traditionalism

Beware the liberals on one hand, and the traditionalists on the other. The first would turn stones into bread to be merciful, the other would turn bread into stones to cast at sinners. This was Pope Francis' message at the end of the council.

And who, do you suppose, positioned himself in the middle?

The author of this blog may be a disreputable old Bear, who has never been closer to the Vatican than the Parco Zoo. However, he was somehow licensed by the State of Illinois as a lawyer, and certified among less than 1% of the lawyers in the state to serve as lead counsel in death penalty cases.

In other words, he is a trial lawyer who recognizes a rhetorical technique when he sees one.

Not that there is anything wrong with rhetoric. Good speakers are permitted their "tricks of the trade." Francis' classic three-point homilies are good examples. But there's nothing wrong with pointing them out from the peanut gallery.

Ah, liberals and conservatives. The press is always calling non-liberals conservatives, or, better, arch-conservatives, or hardliners. What politicians or churchmen are identified as "liberal," though? Liberals are just "our sort of folks." They are right-thinking, the way people are supposed to be. There is literally nothing remarkable about liberals.

Cardinal Burke, however, is always a "conservative," or "hardliner." Has the mainstream press ever described Cardinal Kasper or Pope Francis as a "liberal?" Do fish feel wet?

You will hear this theme again from Francis. (Pope Francis almost obsessively repeats a small collection of tropes: walking, smelling, etc.) "Traditionalists" are unimaginative brutes who want to stone sinners. Jesus wouldn't have liked them.

Like the Bear said, he's no churchman. But he does grasp that you cannot make major change to practice without implicating dogma. It's like a game of Jenga. You pull out the ban on communion for divorced and remarried, and value the homosexual orientation. There goes the Real Presence. Uh-oh, now Holy Matrimony is teetering. Oh no! There went scriptural inerrancy! We just lost Papal Infallibility! It's all tumbling down!

Everything is connected to everything else. As a living thing, the Church is properly called the Bride. Those mean old Traditionalists have always stood between the Bride of Christ and those who would make her the Bride of Frankenstein through ignorant or malicious surgery.

So when the Pope tries to put himself right in the middle -- always the most sensible place, no? -- recognize the trick he is playing. Is he walking in the middle, or just talking about the middle? The Catholic center is always and only occupied by the Traditionalists. All proper Catholics are Traditionalists! It is the nature of the the Church to be she who keeps.

The Catholic center is where the sheep are safe from the wolves. Don't be fooled by any wolf who tries to convince you that, no, over here to the left, in the gloomy forest, is the real center. The Catholic center remains, and the path is easy to follow, having been beaten down by centuries of those on the way to salvation.

Synod Snapshots

"Pope Francis is harming the Church," quoth Michael Voris in his professional broadcaster's "headline voice." Of course, as you now probably know, the quote is from Cardinal Burke, our own Cardinal Ottaviani. Things are moving fast, faster than a pony with a Bear after it. So we'll do this in snapshot format.

You know in his heart of hearts, Michael Voris has felt that Pope Francis is harming the Church. It must have been very satisfying for him to, at long last, say it, even if they were someone else's words. The Bear does not expect this to signal a change from the "hey, nobody toucha the pope, capice?" policy. If anything, there is less reason now than before, after the Pope appears to be hoist on his own petard.

Cardinal Kasper and Edison-Talking-Machine-gate. This was his big show, one more chance to send his dodgy German theology down the Rhine and into the Tiber like a leaky WWI U Boat. Then, one of the least unfortunate remarks he makes triggers an outright lie.

Do people past a certain age (in Cardinal Kasper's case 81) really not just assume they're being recorded? Perhaps he did not recognize the iPhone's capabilities, and assumed he could tell Africa "don't call us, we'll call you." Talk about an unforced error. It certainly did not enhance his credibility. Maybe the Bergoglio circle assumes all journalists operate by the Scalfari rules -- no recording, no notes.

Cardinal Burke, on the other hand, was dignified and straightforward. Here is an Israelite in whom there is no guile! He was critical of the synod and -- in a measured way -- critical of the Pope. Suddenly it wasn't just crazies who had reservations about Pope Francis' agenda! He probably won't change any minds, but it's nice to be validated by someone of his stature, isn't it?

As for the synod cheerleaders, well, the cheer must be pretty complicated now to cover secrecy, lies, palace plots, not to mention sharp deviations from Catholic teaching.

Hey, hey, ho, ho,
Africans have got to go!
It wasn't me, no, no,
I never said they have to go!

Ho, ho, hey, hey,
We must value what is gay!
Marriage eight or marriage nine?
Step in the communion line!

etc., etc.

So, at the end of the synod, what do we know that we didn't know going in?

The Bear thinks we correctly smelled the intent months ago, but we -- at the least the Bear -- were surprised at both the boldness and ineptness. We accept that Roman games are played by old men, but perhaps some are just a little too old for such a revolution.

Before the synod we had suspicions, and our instincts were sound. What's different is we have evidence. If soon-to-be canonized Pope Paul VI was Hamlet, kindly old Grandfather Bergogilo has been unmasked as Nixon.

Finally, we must not forget these are determined men carried by the wave of worldly opinion who know time is running out. We have not heard the last of homosexual acceptance, and communion for divorced and remarried for one reason: Pope Francis wants those things very badly and will do anything to get them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Poll

Update: Burke admits to being "demoted," and more at Rorate Caeli. While probably most of the Bear's readers are familiar with Rorate Caeli, they have really been indispensable during the Synod. Is it just the Bear, or have they really seemed to have gelled into a professional news outlet over the past few months? No, you won't be able to enjoy the "odor" of the Bear, as Pope Francis might say, but when you're done inhaling the complex bouquet of multifarious fragrances here, you might "walk" over to RC.

What does the Bear smell like? Of course, even his keen nose can't smell himself, but:

  • incense (sometimes)
  • fish
  • musk
  • blood (someone else's)
  • marmalade
  • napalm (don't even ask)

Please take a few seconds to participate in the Bear's new poll. He wants to know how negative news affects your steadiness in the Church. This is more than idle curiosity, because the last thing the Bear needs is to shake people's faith.

The Bear hopes you have enjoyed a chuckle or two while the news was particularly depressing.

Cardinal Ottaviani Is Smiling

And the woodland creatures
Sandro Magister, as usual, provides a good summary of the Synod to date. There has been rejoicing among the woodland creatures, but the thrust of the article is that the long-term publicity gains may outweigh the the clear victory by the forces of fidelity.

To recap, the bishops rebelled against having the infamous relatio (working paper) foisted upon them. The details about who wrote what are not as important as it was a nasty piece of work by Pope Francis' gang. It denigrated sacramental matrimony and exalted homosexual orientation as a thing of value. The world watched the wheels come off of first the synod, then Cardinal Kasper, and, ultimately, Pope Francis himself.

The Pope was forced to pepper his hand-picked enforcers with with the formidable Archbishop Hart and Cardinal Napier. Furthermore, the members would release their own reports.

It was a disaster for the Franciscan minority, who looked so thuggish and bumbling a new word is required: thugling.

Yet, what is the meta-narrative? Reactionary hardliners slam the door on gays and the remarried? And, this is not the end. Francis is, after all, still Pope, still beloved of a slobbering media, and still riding uninformed, but popular sentiment for the relaxation of every below-the-belt issue.

One cannot, however, but smile when remembering Vatican II. Then Cardinal Ottaviani was almost the lone voice that remained faithful to tradition, and he was literally hooted down by the council majority. Those of us who feared history would repeat itself can afford that smile. Let's enjoy our victory.

And, one may imagine, Cardinal Ottaviani, is smiling, too.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pope, Kasper Admit to "Understandable Mistake" About Synod

In a short statement released this evening from the Vatican, Pope Francis said he and Cardinal Kasper thought the synod was going to be a meeting about ABC's hit comedy "Modern Family." Cardinal Kasper said the similarity between "Synod on the Family," and "Sit-com Modern Family," caused an "understandable translation mistake."

The show features three unconventional families, including a lovable homosexual couple with a child.

"I'm sure you can understand why we veered a little off course," a contrite Cardinal Kasper told reporters. "Just forget about the relatio," the Cardinal said with a dismissive gesture, referring to the interim working document that has caused so much controversy among ultra-conservatives who believe Jesus was an actual historical figure who taught important lessons.

Kasper, who has described himself as the show's "number one fan," had a cameo appearance last season as a priest who taught dour, unloving, conservative Catholics in his parish to accept the gay family after one of the men sang a beautiful rendition of "Ave Maria."

In another matter, Cardinal Kasper was reported to have been dismissive of African input to the synod. The Cardinal denied making the statement, but the journalist who broke the story posted audio that he had recorded using his iPhone. Kasper still insisted he had never made the statements, first calling the device "the Devil's music box," then saying "it could be anyone's voice." He said the press has it in for him, and ended with "you won't have Walter Kasper to kick around anymore."

Verbum, Divine Office and Universalis

Just a quick reminder about Verbum, and some other resources for your computer or tablet.

Verbum is a program that ingests Catholic content such as Bibles (DR, RSV, RSVCE, NRSV, NABRE) and commentaries (e.g. Haydock's or Navarre), as well as patristics, the catechism, encyclopedias, Denzinger, councils, spiritual classics... pretty much anything you want (and care to pay for). It is all indexed, and there are a staggering number of markup options. This means it is actually useful, instead of just sitting there.

One neat trick is clicking on a word for a word study in Hebrew or Greek!

On your laptop, you can open multiple resources, each in their own panel. Even on your tablet you can open two panes. That way you can have your Bible at the top, and your commentary on the bottom, as an example.

The apps are free at your favorite app store, and you can start out with a Bible and a few other resources for cheap. If you like it, you can expand your library. It can get pricey, but that's entirely up to you.

Divine Office is another app the Bear plugs from time to time, because: (a) it's good; and (b) the Divine Office is a great way to pray through the day. They say they are replacing the "dramatic" readings that set the Bear's and others' teeth on edge with straight-up readings. They are also including some talent from the British Isles, as well. In case it isn't clear, what sets Divine Office apart is that there is audio, both for the hymn and the prayers. The idea is that you "pray along."

You can also pray the Divine Office free from their website on your computer.

Finally, there is Universalis, another digital solution to the Breviary. It does not have audio, but does not require an internet connection like the Divine Office app.

Any or all of these are worthwhile to own and use, as does the Bear.

Evil Jesuits Ain't What They Used to Be

Perhaps what is most disappointing about the Synod on the Family is how inept the villains are. The Bear wants menacing, pointy-beard-stroking Jesuitical geniuses from the Black Legend dandling their pet tarantulas on their knees as they spin their plots. (Pyrates by the late, great George MacDonald Fraser, better known for his Flashman books, is a rollicking great example of how evil Catholics should act.)

These guys are more like Cardinal Fang and the other Monty Python inquisitors.

Pope Francis has formed the greatest Argentine-German conspiracy since the rat lines at the end of WWII, and how does his Teutonic genius answer criticism from African prelates? When we want Sambo's opinion we'll ask for it. (Nothing could make homosexuals' top peg on the sensitivity totem pole clearer than the absence of voices crying out for Kasper's head on a platter.) Well, Cardinal, at the rate you're going, Catholicism will still be going strong in Africa long after the last Mass is said in Germany (sometime next week, the Bear hears). The Bear can't help but think if the Germans, not the Africans, had been shoved to the back of the bus, this would be a much saner synod.

The prelates fielding reporters' questions for the most part looked like a line-up of Obama press secretaries. Arrogant, evasive and mendacious. And for Pete's sake, is it too much to ask that they manage things so you can't actually see Pope Francis manipulating the strings from the overhead platform?

Speaking of Francis, the Most Humble, the most Compassionate, the Most Merciful -- another year and he's going to have more titles than Allah -- there are reports he is passing notes -- passing notes -- to the show runners during the synod. Could we at least try, gentlemen? Black rats with little pouches could scurry across the floor and climb up some cardinal's leg. Or a large spider could lower itself right in front of his nose, bearing a message. Heck, even a sinister masked figure would at least be an effort.

Funny how all those things Pope Francis has said, starting five minutes after becoming Pope, seem reflected in this document no one seems to know who wrote. Could we be more transparent? What happened to Jesuitical subtlety? Of course Pope Francis wrote the Relatio, no matter which hand puppets get shoved in front of the cameras. We know the bishops didn't even get a chance to see it, so do you really think it doesn't contain a jot or tittle that Pope Francis didn't want?

The Bear calls BS on the whole thing. (That is Bear Suspicion.)

"Make a mess." Now there's some sound, spiritual advice, because if there's one thing religious people like, it is buffoons screwing around with what they hold most dear. So, here's our mess. In the end, these are all settled topics, and few are unable to determine the truth. To the extent sins are committed in reliance on the synod, the clerics will share the guilt.

I'd much rather be called to account for poking a little fun at wickedness in high places than encouraging sins that cry out to heaven.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"The Children are Right to Laugh at You."

There is a time to blog, and there is a time to refrain from blogging. The Bear is pretty sure that's in the Bible somewhere.

Once when the hapless Ralph Wiggums, a kid in the Simpsons, uttered one of his trademark stupid comments, and the teacher said, "The children are right to laugh at you."

At long last, the Catholic Church has reached its Ralph Wiggums moment.

The world's largest employer of homosexuals demands that we all value gay super powers the Church needs now more than ever.

Indeed, the children are right to laugh at the Church.

The Bear will resist the temptation to further ridicule. There's really not much more to say about this fiasco in the Bear's opinion. The Church's ability to communicate has become deranged since Pope Francis came on the scene.

Of course, it isn't about homosexuals. They are a minuscule percentage of the population, at least outside the Church. However, they are a minuscule percentage that has become the touchstone for social acceptability. What it is really about is the Church turning away from Christ to dance to the tune of the Prince of the World. It's that old pinch of incense in new form, and the sickly sweet smoke is billowing from the synod chambers.

Does this mean the Church is merely a human institution that follows worldly fashions, only one bad pope away from a crash-and-burn?

You see, this is the Bear's secret fear. This doesn't look like much of a rock, not very gates-of-Hell-won't-prevail. This looks like the floor of the Democratic national convention, although no one has actually -- yet -- booed God. This looks like all the other so-called Catholic institutions that can't wait to demonstrate their relevance, their tolerance, their godlessness. This looks like the Israelites of old whoring after those hip, fun-loving Canaanite gods.

In a word, the Church looks like a fake. Phoniness is becoming the Catholic rule, not the exception.

More precisely, it reminds us that the Church has looked like a fake since Vatican II struck with all its fury and wiped away centuries of truth and beauty. The cognitive dissonance is cranked up as far as it will go, and there is surely more to come.

The Bear thinks it is good to vent these fears. So now where do we go?


The Pope loves to talk about walking, even more than smelling. This is a time for sitting, like Job's friends: sitting, lest we keep on walking. We go nowhere and we formulate no answers. We wait, like Job, and we wait like the exiles of the prophet Jeremiah's time. Better times may come. Or they may not. May the Bear be found waiting in either case.

"And I am brought to nothing, and I knew not. I am become as a beast before thee: and I am always with thee."

St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor and Virgin

Today is the memorial of one of the Bear's favorite saints, Teresa of Avila. She lived in Spain from 1515 to 1582 and combined a life of mysticism with writing and vigorous activity within the Church. Her greatest work, The Interior Castle, is a wonderful classic every Catholic should read. (Slowly, and with a highlighter.) It is not an easy read, but that has to do more with the circumstances of its writing, rather than difficulty of the material. She wrote as poor health and duties time, and did not have access to earlier portions of the manuscript. She was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

The Interior Castle was the Bear's Lenten reading last time, and he cannot recommend it highly enough.

"St. Teresa's Bookmark" was a prayer found on card in her breviary after her death. It is particularly helpful today.

Let nothing affright thee,
Nothing dismay thee.
All is passing,
God ever remains.
Patience obtains all.
Whoever possesses God
Cannot lack anything
God alone suffices.

Prayer from Today's Morning Prayer

O God,
who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus Resources

A friend from Church Militant TV provided these links on the topic of no salvation outside the Church. Since the piece about extra ecclesiam nulla salus has been pushed back off the current feed by the Bear's comments on the Turkish seal show in Rome, here they are for your enjoyment.

Have you ever seen Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome? It's great, for that kind of movie. In it are some feral children who survived a plane crash when they were younger. They have tried to piece together their personal history and the history of their lost world, and they preserve it through the nightly "tell."

The Bear sometimes feels like one of those children. We gather together and preserve the faith in our little internet bands. We are as faithful as we know how to be, holding on to the unchanging past. Because you're never going to see stuff like this from any mainstream Catholic source. For them, it's all about ecumenism.

EWTN Debunks Synod "Gay Super Powers" Document

EWTN's advice to Catholics upset over the synod document is for everyone to "do some centering prayer or pop a benzo."

EWTN claimed that the document is "no more official than a shopping list," but, rather, is just some anonymous notes scribbled down over the weekend.

The story chided the Catholic blogosphere for "freaking out over nothing." It added that just because "there's some document floating around about gay super powers the Church needs now more than ever, doesn't mean it's legit." ("Not that there would be anything wrong with that," the article added). In fact, the article claimed, no one is sure exactly where the document even came from.

"Furthermore," the article said, "there is absolutely no chance that the media will seize upon whatever this is to spin expectations on the Church's position on homosexuality and other matters. If we've learned one thing during this papacy, it is that the mainstream media completely ignores statements about homosexuality."

Pope Francis' "Glee"

Feel free to share, as always.

Take Heart!

After his sojourn in Orthodoxy, the Bear was dispirited and confused. Where was he to turn if the liturgically magnificent East had failed to fulfill?

The answer came in a name: Peter. The only clear and historically satisfying answer was to stay close to Peter. God gave us an unbroken line of popes, some stars, and some cinders, but all popes, to follow. And Peter was to be found in one place only: the Roman Catholic Church.

And so the Bear returned to the Church, eyes wide open, fully aware of the faithlessness and clownishness, venality and banality he would find. It was a foolproof plan. And his expectations were low.

With Pope Francis and his current Turkish seal show in Rome, those low expectations have been blown out. The Bear no longer expects the Church to teach the faith badly, nor even not at all. Pope Francis has ushered in the era of anti-teaching. In a way, he is an anti-shepherd, for all his sheep-sniffing. He's positively intoxicated on the smell, and has forgotten everything else.

The Catholic Church is no longer a reliable source of Catholic teaching.

This is our strange, new reality. It bears thinking about, calmly, once the shock wears off.

The good news, however, is that the office of Peter remains, and we all have a foolproof way of finding and remaining in the Church. Furthermore, the Pope and his Bishops can't erase the past. They have tried in their synod, just as they tried with Vatican II, and, more exactly, the "spirit of Vatican II." But, like weeds growing toward the light through cracks in the sidewalk, real Catholicism is sprouting up in a million different ways.

No pope, no prelate, no parish priest can destroy the Church that lives in our hearts. The real Church Militant.

Only we can do that. Disgust, discouragement, hatred -- these are sure ways to extinguish the Church in our hearts.

Whatever is spewed out by the synod is not binding on the Catholic conscience. It is not infallible. If we have superior authority -- such as Holy Writ and Sacred Tradition -- to correct the errors that are being peddled, then we are free to rely on the more authoritative teaching. So what if they call us "Cafeteria Catholics?" That just betrays ignorance and pettiness (as well as unoriginality).

The real Church is not limited to the sliver of the present moment. It stretches forward from the ancient world and angels say: "Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?" (Song of Solomon 6:10.)

Charles VII of France
And at the front of that army is Peter! Oh, he may seem dense, or doubting, or confused, or cowardly. Or he may slash wildly with unaccustomed sword. We are spoiled by our occasional lion popes! Are the heroics of St. Joan of Arc any less for being in the service of the weak Charles VII?

The Bear has always thought it a little beside the point when well-meaning people say "well, the gates of Hell won't prevail against the Church," or "we win in the end!"

That's all very well and good, but right now we're up to our necks in purple vipers. Now is the time to turn to the saints. Fighters like Joan, and saints who lived in troubled times like Teresa of Avila. And, above all, Mary, whom the Orthodox call "Our Champion Hero" and who granted victory to the outnumbered Christian fleet at Lepanto, as we just celebrated.

In every battle, there are those who fall before seeing victory. This will probably be our fate. But sell yourselves dearly, confident that your joy in the fight will be perfected if you win your place among heroes.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Synod: Catholics Must "Value" Sexual Orientation of Homosexuals

Of all the articles the Bear has written about the Church, this one is by far the most doleful. We're in really bad shape.

The Synod's "Relatio Post Disceptationem," or interim document, has been released. It reminds the Bear of two things:

  • The line from old westerns "speak with forked tongue."
  • The gaseous imprecision of Vatican II documents.

Are Catholics doomed to be subjected to this kind of twaddle forever? Oh, for a real anathema or two. But on second thought, probably none of us want to see the kind of anathema the Franciscan Church would issue.

The "forked tongue" is used when the author wishes to satisfy two opposing camps. As an example, they have the temerity to quote Jesus' own words about the marriage being for life. In context, however, it is hard to say exactly what it is supposed to mean. As an example of divine "condescension," it may even mean the opposite of what Jesus said!

Trying to satisfy two camps by inserting contradictory language into a document is an old Vatican II trick. The tone, however, clearly favors a departure from Church teaching and practice. The Bear wagers it will not be thirty days before someone utters "the spirit of the Synod," in favor of some deviation from sound morals.

It even borrows one of the more troublesome passages of the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium. Lumen Gentium imagined that non-Catholic Christian faith communities had some part of whatever makes the Catholic Church the real deal. The Synod applies that principle to couples living together, "without benefit of clergy," as the old, quaint saying goes. Marriage is the ideal, but the couple who is living together up resemble marriage (i.e. one roof, sex) and, therefore, must share in at least part of whatever it is that makes marriage the real deal.

That's right. If you're a Catholic couple, your Church has just told you that the difference between your sacramental marriage and the couple across the street who are shacked up together is one of degree, not kind. How else are we to interpret the claim that the good "Catholic marriage stuff" we enjoy is also enjoyed by them, only not quite so much?

This is beyond sad. And it gets worse.

"While not denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions," the Synod goes on to celebrate them. This is "who am I to judge?" writ large. The Franciscan mode of operation is revealed. Pope Francis sets expectations with a seemingly innocent statement or action, then watches the noxious seed sprout and grow until it blocks out the light.

You must read this:

Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

That's right. It is not enough to welcome them as struggling sinners. We must "value their sexual orientation." The good news is that homosexual unions are not to be considered "on the same footing" as legitimate Catholic marriages, but the language is ambivalent enough to permit anything.

As it turns out, the Church of our day came to its end with neither a bang nor a whimper, but a shrug. No, it's not dogma, but it is the official view of the Church.

Timman at St. Louis Catholic has his own take.

Michael Voris: Please Don't Leave Church

The Church Militant TV Facebook page ran this tonight:

We have heard various people say they may leave the Church because of all the confusion emanating from Rome. 
It would be a huge victory for Satan to get you to leave the One True Faith, the Church established by Our Lord, outside of which there is no salvation. 
Holy Mother Church is suffering--often at the hands of Her own sons. Do not abandon Her in Her hour of need. She needs soldiers who will stay and fight--through prayer, sacrifice, evangelism in word and deed. 
"Catholics are born for combat" (Pope Leo XIII)--and never more than now.

There is an irony -- in which no doubt the devil delights -- that legitimate organizations like Church Militant TV and disreputable old Bears are organs of demoralization among the faithful. The more we tell the truth, the worse everyone we meet feels. Many come to feel like chucking the whole thing and bolting for the SSPX, or Orthodoxy, or the franchise evangelical Church down the road, The Vibe, or The View, or whatever the one near you is called.

Readers know the Bear's apostolate of holy stubbornness: nail your foot the floor in front of your favorite pew and die there.

But isn't there something a little hypocritical in making people feel like running away, yet issuing an occasional disclaimer: WARNING! People who leave the Catholic Church are at an increased risk of hellfire.

For that matter, it is amazing how often keeping one's tongue is recommended in the Bible as a way of avoiding sin. We're not supposed to speak ill of others. We're supposed to edify our brothers and sisters.

Bless me Father, for I have blogged.

The Bear thinks the unspeakable and speaks the unthinkable. Do those of us who publish our clever little articles about the crisis in the Church have only the interest of our fellow Catholics at heart? Or, if we are completely honest, is there the thrill of the hunt, the killer instinct, the urge to gossip and plain old pride behind many of our pieces?

After all, we know what brings in the audience.

The Bear might write a careful article about how to get into praying the Divine Office, but he knows relatively few people will be interested. But (yet another) piece on POPE FRANCIS OMG HE'S DESTROYING THE CHURCH is going to provide a nice Pewsitter bump, generate lots of comments, and build the Bear's audience.

What a dilemma.

The Bear could docilely put on his muzzle and never breath another word about all the bad stuff going on in the Church. After all, it's not like there are no other places to find -- what was the term used by someone? -- "ecclesiastical porn."

And yet, before we all got to really know Pope Francis, this blog was pretty positive. We had fun with Herr Doktor Bear and his "All Dogs Go to Heaven (Unless They're Catholic)" explanation of Lumen Gentium, and the Bavarian Bible Bear. We had good, clean, fun.

Then he knocked our
marshmallows in the fire...
Then Pope Francis had to come along and spoil the picnic in the Big Clearing for the woodland creatures.

The Bear's tentative answer is that he didn't choose this beat. If he's going to be a Catholic blogger, though, things are going on that require one to pick a side. So, the Bear will continue to blog, and continue to blog Bearishly. But don't imagine it doesn't make him queasy from time to time.

And don't you dare think of leaving the Roman Catholic Church, whose Pope, such as he is, is Francis. Perhaps we might learn to develop a kind of pity, nay, even dim affection, for his obvious limitations. When I defended criminals in Cairo, Illinois, at the very tip of the state, the resolution of many a case began with a frank agreement that "he just ain't right."

Maybe we should all practice shaking our heads and saying, "God bless him, Pope Francis just ain't right."

And if you're still thinking of bolting, do you really want the humiliation of being dragged to Mass by a Bear?

The Dogma That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Update: Church Militant TV (i.e. Michael Voris' outfit) has run a warning on their Facebook feed that no Catholic should consider leaving the Church. Some of the comments raise disinformation one finds in connection with the dogma of "no salvation outside the Church." Some have claimed that it means no salvation except through the Church and her merits; actual membership is optional.

Others have floated the old Protestant idea of "the invisible Church of believers," where those outside of the Church might be more Catholic than those inside. Language in the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium is often cited for the proposition that "all dogs go to heaven."

Then we have Catholic superstar Fr. Robert Barron opining that there is a reasonable hope that all are saved. (He doesn't explain why Jesus taught the opposite.)

Make no mistake. The language is plain. Like it or not, it is what the Church has defined as dogma no less than three times. If you don't like it, then chuck infallibility out the nearest window. What you do with whatever you have left is up to you, but it won't be Catholic.

* * *

Here's a good collection of material on the Dogma That Dare Not Speak Its Name, a.k.a. Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, or No Salvation Outside the Church.

It is clear that EENS, as we'll call it for convenience's sake, is no longer taught, and presumably no longer believed by anyone that matters.

Since this is the case, somebody really needs to do some historical and intellectual heavy lifting and explain authoritatively just why something taught as clearly as EENS was never a dogma of the Church, but, rather, merely a mistaken idea held by many. Such as, oh, popes and everybody else in the Church.

Because right now the Bear cannot explain how the Church could be wrong then, but right now.

For a Church that has relied on intellectual rigor, it is really unforgivable to be so sloppy, but not surprising these days. To be perfectly honest, the unspoken message is, yes, we admit we proclaimed a false dogma in the past, but we don't do it anymore. We were wrong then, but we're right now.

So much for your infallible Church.

The alternative -- that the Church was right on the dogma of EENS, and wrong now -- is too horrible for the Franciscan Church to contemplate. That would mean that the Church is encouraging billions of souls to be happy outside of the Church, lulling them into a false sense of confidence in their salvation, and ignoring Christ's commandment to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to all peoples.

This is the legal principle of "desuetude" in action. Nothing is ever stricken from the books, but it is just ignored, and allowed to die a slow, lingering death.

It appears that the Church's teaching on divorce and remarriage will suffer the same fate. Do not expect anyone to come right out and say the Church is changing its teachings. After all, it can't be seen as doing that, can it? But changed they will be. How many English martyrs died for a doctrine that fell from the very lips of Christ, that will now be discarded by the brood of vipers now gathered in Rome?

Note that both doomed doctrines must go in order for the Church to be more Protestant.

Desuetude. The dishonest game of the Modernist Church.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

We Lost a Good Catholic Blogger

The Bear is saddened to report the passing into eternity of Richard Collins, living in Wales, whose traditionalist blog Linen on the Hedgerow set the standard for literacy and wit. He received the grace of the sacraments in his last hour.

Richard had been struggling against cancer for some time. He had been unable to do much blogging recently, but he leaves behind a rich collection of articles at his blog. The Bear encourages his readers to drop by, read a few, say a prayer, and leave a message.

He will be missed.

The masthead to his blog said:
More than ever I feel the need of having Thee close to me. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong. Corinthians 12:7-10
 Requiescat in Pace.

Beau and Ava

Enough about saucy Aussies and Turkish seal shows. Let's have a farm report.

An Aussie of another sort.
Beau is much bigger since you last saw him. He has a funny habit of sitting back on his rump. He is still afraid of the goats, not a desirable trait in a herding dog,

Speaking of goats, the Bear feels a little sorry for Ava. She's our leggy little white Saanen dairy goat. She has a slightly crooked face that gives her a permanent, quizzical expression. She has a great zest for life which has led her to escape and explore the neighborhood. She enthusiastically tries to engage the other, bigger, goats, but they chase her away. Poor Ava.

Once we can breed her perhaps we'll have milk, and if we have milk, we can finally have soap.

We know what's real. You do, too. A Bear knows there are many side-shows on the outskirts of a circus, but only one center ring. A performing Bear must keep his eyes on the Tamer, so that, when the show ends, as all shows do, he will pat the Bear on the head and say, "Well done, good and faithful Bear," and. at long last, remove his muzzle, and remove his chain.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

How the Synod Has Already Damaged the Church

Premature? Perhaps. But news coverage is already forming the opinions of Catholics. (Likely the only formation most Catholics are getting these days.) The mere fact that today's sexual and marital couplings in all their variety appear to be on the table is changing perceptions.

The fact that these perceptions may not be accurate doesn't matter. Catholics who want their kink or failures validated will seize on stories that seem to do so. They are going to have new expectations. And let's not forget priests. Want to bet how many of them will seize on buzzwords like "mercy," and "gradualism," and "pastoral" to make a de facto change on the parish level? We already saw this with Humanae Vitae.

Anyone who tries to uphold the right will get shot at with language right out of Pope Francis' mouth: legalist. The Pope does a grave disservice to the Church by pitting fidelity against mercy.

Aside from the issue of marriage, is it unreasonable to foresee a tolerant new world where all sin is seen as a challenge, an opportunity for growth, and not an evil to be abhorred? If the Church is taking a fresh look at how people really live their lives and becoming less "legalistic," and more "merciful," doesn't that apply to all sin? Virtue is just too hard. Sin is inevitable, the Church is merciful, so don't worry about it.

Now, as a matter of fact, yes, none of us are going to live a perfect life. We will go on sinning. The Church has recognized this for a very long time. It is fatuous to pretend the 21st century has discovered something new at long last. The remedy of the Church has never been to wink at sin! The remedy is the sacrament of confession! There is your mercy. (And yet how few avail themselves of it, possibly because it involves directly acknowledging one's sins.)

If some are in second marriages (or third) the Church offers a rich, and sufficient (if incomplete) devotional life. As precious as communion is, it is not the only reason we go to Mass, nor is it a "waste of time" if we cannot communicate.

For months now, the Bear has been saying "wait until October and the Synod." Well, the Synod is here, and it is not off to an encouraging start. It may yet end well, but if so, it will only be after overcoming evil that is already spreading abroad like the smoke of Satan.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Secret Synod

Board Game "Junta" -- One of the Bear's Favorites

This remarkable piece on the Synod, from Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing:

I reported on some of the pope’s harshness towards upholders of tradition in yesterday’s Synod Report, an odd homily that might be taken to mean all those over the centuries who had upheld the indissolubility of marriage were somehow authoritarians and self-serving legalists. But the responses to the pope in private – again, beyond the usual conservative suspects and into more neutral, mainstream figures – has been equally tart: “a Latin dictator,” “a Peron,” someone who likes to be center stage in the limelight. And perhaps the most shocking comment of all from more than one person: “His health is bad, so at least this won’t last too long.”

The rest is here.

One might argue that proceedings should be secret so that all may feel free to speak their minds. It may be, however, that many do not feel it wise to raise a voice against the Bergoglio claque. In any case, secrecy is out of place when such sensitive and perilous subjects are debated. Vatican II at least had the virtue of openness, so that future generations could determine for themselves who acted nobly, and more who acted crassly.

The Bear has long thought that there is the whiff of Peronism. The Synod seems to be leaky, though, and the members of the Franciscan Junta will be no secret.

You may note that the Bear has ratcheted up his criticism of the Pope. If the Bear knows his left paw from his right, so he knows he is not a man to be trusted. It is a sad commentary on the electors, although we have the advantage of having heard the man on a daily basis since. Whoever has not reached the same conclusion as the Bear -- well, the Bear is tempted to say simply lacks the Catholic sense.

The Bear has noticed that those out on the peripheries -- and beyond -- so beloved of Pope Francis, are the very ones who think most highly of the Pope. The Bear has been amazed -- and tell him if you have had the same experience -- at non-Catholics who have said, "So, what do do you think of that new Pope?" or "I really like this Pope!" Meanwhile, here in Zoar, sensible, apparently well-formed Catholics, are dismayed. Whose judgement should we trust? Non-Catholics? Nominal Catholics? Catholics who have never bothered to learn, let alone obey, the precepts of the Church? Or those who take it all seriously and value friendship with God over friendship with the world?

One might say the Bear is being judgmental. That rhetorical judo trick doesn't work on Bears. Few things say "judgment" like an angry Bear.

Bear Introdooces Gradualism

The Bear has discovered a wonderful new concept from the sin odd: gradualism. Shure there are roolz for spelling. And grammer. But they slow down blogging. The Bear does not propose getting rid of these roolz but hey he's just not gonna sweat the small stuff cuz he's a Bear on a Journey you know?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Turkish Seal Show Gets Underway

Greetings Woodland Creatures and Welcome Strangers,

Inscrutable utterances by the Oracle of Santa Marta, wacky lay people and who knows what else as this Turkish seal show of a Synod gets underway. It would be easy to get discouraged -- if this wasn't the Roman Catholic Church. You know the same Church who prayed its way to victory against a larger Islamic fleet on October 7, 1571. Why, this very day! Yes, the Bear acknowledges tens of thousands of Turks is less scary than the current pope and Cardinal Kasper's Krazy Krew. However, unlike the Turks, today's enemies are on the inside chewing through the foundations. But, after all, God does have a hand in matters.

Many bloggers will be hanging on every word. Not the Bear. He hasn't the stomach for it, especially while suffering from ursine distemper. After the dust settles, things probably won't be much worse than the were before the synod. As the Bear has said before, we don't get the cool Church, the stable and has-it-all-together Church. On the best of days, we get the lavender Church teetering on outright heresy as Father Mario preaches unhinged homilies from the rafters.

We get to be the Bat Christians in a sad little Church that has seen much better days. If so, then this is God's will, which might have something to do with what we all do with this situation. Or not.

All things considered, however, the Bear would rather hang upside down (which was a crowd-pleaser in Munich back in the Bear's performing days) as a Bat Christian than be an about-to-be-tortured Christian. The Bear's not going anywhere. But he might get really angry, which would do no good, for all its entertainment value.

In fact, let the Bear just hoist the yellow banner and declare October Bear Danger Awareness Month,

Monday, October 6, 2014

Happy Lepanto Day

A great and enjoyable poem, Lepanto by G.K. Chesterton. This was the battle where Christendom looked to the rosary and found a victory where defeat was feared.

     White founts falling in the Courts of the sun, 
     And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run; 
     There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared, 
     It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard; 
     It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips; 
     For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships. 
     They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy, 
     They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea, 
     And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss, 
     And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross. 
     The cold queen of England is looking in the glass; 
     The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass; 
     From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun, 
     And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun. 

     Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard, 
     Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred, 
     Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall, 
     The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall, 
     The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung, 
     That once went singing southward when all the world was young. 
     In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid, 
     Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade. 
     Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far, 
     Don John of Austria is going to the war, 
     Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold 
     In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold, 
     Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums, 
     Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes. 
     Don John laughing in the brave beard curled, 
     Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world, 
     Holding his head up for a flag of all the free. 
     Love-light of Spain--hurrah! 
     Death-light of Africa! 
     Don John of Austria 
     Is riding to the sea. 

     Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star, 
     (Don John of Austria is going to the war.) 
     He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri's knees, 
     His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas. 
     He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease, 
     And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees; 
     And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring 
     Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing. 
     Giants and the Genii, 
     Multiplex of wing and eye, 
     Whose strong obedience broke the sky 
     When Solomon was king. 

     They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn, 
     From the temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn; 
     They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea 
     Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be, 
     On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl, 
     Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl; 
     They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,-- 
     They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound. 
     And he saith, "Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide, 
     And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide, 
     And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest, 
     For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west. 
     We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun, 
     Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done. 
     But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know 
     The voice that shook our palaces--four hundred years ago: 
     It is he that saith not 'Kismet'; it is he that knows not Fate; 
     It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate! 
     It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth, 
     Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth." 
     For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar, 
     (Don John of Austria is going to the war.) 
     Sudden and still--hurrah! 
     Bolt from Iberia! 
     Don John of Austria 
     Is gone by Alcalar. 

     St. Michaels on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north 
     (Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.) 
     Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift 
     And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift. 
     He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone; 
     The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone; 
     The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes, 
     And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise, 
     And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room, 
     And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom, 
     And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,-- 
     But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea. 
     Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse 
     Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips, 
     Trumpet that sayeth ha! 
         Domino gloria! 
     Don John of Austria 
     Is shouting to the ships. 

     King Philip's in his closet with the Fleece about his neck 
     (Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.) 
     The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin, 
     And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in. 
     He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon, 
     He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon, 
     And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey 
     Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day, 
     And death is in the phial and the end of noble work, 
     But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk. 
     Don John's hunting, and his hounds have bayed-- 
     Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid. 
     Gun upon gun, ha! ha! 
     Gun upon gun, hurrah! 
     Don John of Austria 
     Has loosed the cannonade. 

     The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke, 
     (Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.) 
     The hidden room in man's house where God sits all the year, 
     The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear. 
     He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea 
     The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery; 
     They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark, 
     They veil the plum├Ęd lions on the galleys of St. Mark; 
     And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs, 
     And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs, 
     Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines 
     Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines. 
     They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung 
     The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young. 
     They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on 
     Before the high Kings' horses in the granite of Babylon. 
     And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell 
     Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell, 
     And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign-- 
     (But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!) 
     Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop, 
     Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop, 
     Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds, 
     Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds, 
     Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea 
     White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty. 

     Vivat Hispania! 
     Domino Gloria! 
     Don John of Austria 
     Has set his people free! 

     Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath 
     (Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.) 
     And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain, 
     Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain, 
     And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade.... 
     (But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

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