Thursday, July 30, 2015

When Papacy Fails -- There's a Reason Pope Francis Drives You Crazy

It is late in the evening of December 20th, 1954. A group of expectant men and women have gathered in the home of Chicago housewife Dorothy Martin. As midnight approaches, they begin to remove zippers, bra straps, anything that might contain metal. Many have gotten rid of more than that: jobs, college, possessions, even spouses. According to Martin, the world was about to end for everyone except these few believers, who would be rescued by a flying saucer at midnight.

Those gathered are stunned when midnight comes and nothing happens. Some possible explanations are floated, and discarded. At 4 a.m. Martin begins to cry.

Then at 4:45 a.m., Martin receives a message through automatic writing. The God of Earth has taken note of their faith and has decided to spare the world.

Far from giving up, the previously reclusive cult initiates a publicity drive, and engages in fervent proselytization.

This bizarre story is the basis for a 1956 book, When Prophecy Fails, by Leon Festinger, a psychologist who had actually infiltrated the cult. It was Festinger who came up with the concept of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is when a person holds two incompatible beliefs at the same time. The result is an uncomfortable psychological feeling of dissonance. If we find ourselves suffering from cognitive dissonance, we will naturally take measures to reduce the dissonance, and to feel better.

In the case of the flying saucer cultists, they channeled their energy into growing their ranks, reducing their cognitive dissonance by recruiting more believers. History is full of failed doomsday cults that have bounced back with even more vigor than they previously enjoyed. (Someone should do a study on climate change!) Faithfulness and proselytization can often be psychological defense mechanisms.

Pope Francis and Cognitive Dissonance

St. Corbinian's Bear Poll
The Bear suggests many Catholics are experiencing this today, in what might be called When Papacy Fails. Pope Francis may not be driving you crazy, but there is reason to believe he might be causing you very real psychological stress.

There is nothing scientific about the blog poll to the left, of course. This is a self-selected group visiting a blog that is one of the most critical of this papacy. The Bear only added the psychological questions at the last minute, and did not suspect they would see much interest.

So imagine the Bear's surprise when he learned that nearly as many people thought the Papacy of Francis had harmed them psychologically as spiritually. But why not? Couldn't this sample, and many, many more Catholics beyond the poll's reach, be experiencing real psychological discomfort due to cognitive dissonance?

If you believe that the Church is a divine institution, carrying out God's plan of evangelization and the cure of souls, maintaining a tradition that ensures its integrity, and if you envision popes in the mold of Benedict XVI, John Paul II, and even Pius XII, Pope Francis comes as much of a shock as a spaceman from Dorothy Martin's planet Clarion.

Sixty years late, but I'm finally here!

You can't shake the feeing that something is terribly wrong. It's not supposed to be this way. Popes aren't supposed to be as off-kilter as Pope Francis. The Church is not supposed to be talking about changing things as settled as Jesus' condemnation of remarriage after divorce, let alone homosexual unions. Nor should it be refereeing scientific debates, and in general showing interest in everything but the supernatural.

So, on the one hand, you have everything you believe in your core about the Catholic Church. On the other, you have the undeniable fact of Pope Francis. If a Grand Canyon sized split like that is not enough to cause cognitive dissonance, the Bear does not know what is.

Of course, if you don't hold a view of the Church similar to the one described above, then, naturally, you're not likely to experience dissonance. You can be Catholic and enjoy it, free from the slightest cognitive dissonance, no matter what happens! (Also, you have to be seriously invested in a belief before it can generate cognitive dissonance.)

By the way, cognitive dissonance is not a mental illness, but the mind's natural reaction to conflicting beliefs.

Dealing With Cognitive Dissonance

So how do we deal with cognitive dissonance? The Bear is not pretending to provide counseling, but will propose a few ideas. In general, there are four effective defense mechanisms that kick in to reducing dissonance.

The perfect example (perfect as an example, not as a model) is the sedevacantist. Get rid of the Pope and you get rid of the dissonance! They have changed one of the conflicting cognitions ("Francis is Pope"). Similarly, others may leave the Church. They have changed their cognition the opposite way from the sedevacantists by getting rid of the Church.

Another way is to keep the Pope and the Church while turning a blind eye to anything distressing that the Pope may do or say. This is the ultramontanist solution. A variation is to blame everybody in the Church but the Pope. This is the well-known position of Church Militant's Michael Voris. It's the Pope's "bad advisors," or the bishops. Both simply ignore the conflicting cognition. This means simply disregarding all evidence that Francis' Papacy is deeply flawed. The Bear, by the way, is not saying this is a bad approach. In fact, it is probably very effective for some for whom criticizing the pope is off limits as a means of relieving dissonance. (Blaming everything unfortunate on advisors and bishops might also be considered as adding another cognition, discussed two paragraphs down,)

Still others may physically stay in the Church, but just disengage. It's easier to shrug it all off than deal with the pain. "Oh, I don't follow all that." They have justified the conflicting cognition by changing it ("It's not all that important").

One might also find a way to justify a cognition by adding another cognition to it. Perhaps by telling oneself, "Pope Francis may be Pope, but is so bad that normal pope rules just don't apply to him." This is probably where St. Corbinian's Bear falls. If it were just an ordinary difference on a papal opinion or two, the Bear would not dare growl so.

These are all natural psychological defense measures that may kick in according to the individual's needs and beliefs. Some of them have very bad "side effects." What can we do consciously to help us deal with cognitive dissonance caused by Pope Francis?

Self Care for Cognitive Dissonance

If you are reading this, you are probably remaining faithful, but experience real psychological distress to a greater or lesser degree. We do not quite know what to do with a Pope who seems to have departed from the Petrine program, if not the neighborhood of reason. Even worse, we have the added stressors that we are not supposed to criticize the Pope, and that we can rely on his ordinary magisterium. The problem is exacerbated by the relentless train of unfortunate comments and visuals.

So what can we do? These are some ideas. You may find some more appealing than others. Not all of them are for everybody.

  • nail your foot to the floor in front of your favorite pew and die there (Holy Stubbornness)
  • seek out the pre-1960 comfort zone of the past in different ways, e.g. the traditional Latin Mass, Douay Rheims Bible, etc.
  • draw comfort from like-minded people at blogs like St. Corbinian's Bear and others (if others are with you, you will feel safer), and that may include using comment boxes
  • on the other hand, avoid, as much as possible, all news and discussion of Pope Francis
  • more Jesus, less Francis -- a regular classic prayer life (Divine Office, rosary, etc.), reading scripture (which has many examples of suffering under bad leaders)
  • recognize that this will be a relatively short papacy, and things will undoubtedly get better
  • therapy -- the biggest thing in your life is being seriously messed with; people who are particularly at risk might benefit
  • God permitted this to happen -- you don't need to know everything, but it does test our faith

In the end, perhaps the best we can do is hold on to our beliefs about the Church, while at the same time acknowledging the problems Francis poses. We don't have to have all the answers. But we know what is right, and what is wrong, and we know nothing Pope Francis can do is able to change one to the other.

Bruno and Cecil -- Together

Together in Large Predator Heaven: Bruno and Cecil
How long will humans' war against nature continue?

Assassinated 2006 by order of Bavarian President Edmund Stoiber.

Assassinated 2015 by a dentist.

Bears and lions don't usually hang out together. But the Bear imagines them now, each cut down in his prime, but enjoying textured vegetable protein antelope and faux guinea pigs. (Yes, guinea pigs. One of the animals Bruno supposedly killed as he roamed through Bavaria under diplomatic immunity was a guinea pig. Seriously, who leaves their guinea pigs out to get eaten by larger animals, which would include just about all of them?) Neither one of these stories stack up. Call the Bear crazy, but it's almost like men are deliberately killing us for some reason!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cookie Message

Apparently having nothing better to do than bother innocent Bears in their own woods, the European Union has decided poor Bear must spend hours of his life telling everybody that, like everyone else on the planet, he uses cookies on his website. Not even so much the Bear as the wonderful folks at Google that make all this possible. So you may get a pop-up you'll have to click.


The Bear would hate to have jackbooted Europeans marching through Zoar again, frightening the chickens and snapping photographs of themselves next to Zoarian landmarks like the Goat Log, and the Barn.

Go here if you want all the gruesome details. Or better yet, save yourselves the boredom and don't.

Besides, the Bear has been shaking his laptop for an hour and no cookies have fallen out. So this is probably all for nothing.

Bloggers: Beware the EU Cookie Monster

Someone Else Tries to Explain Pope Francis

Reader Marcel Ghost drew this excellent article by James V. Schall, S.J. in Catholic World Report to the Bear's attention. It isn't short, but is well worth the time. The Bear wishes he were up to such analysis, but God made Bears as his humble polemicists.

Juan and Evita Peron

Pope Francis speaks of an invisible force that steals from the poor and gives to the rich while despoiling our planet. Notably, Francis is mainly silent on the supernatural mission of the Church and the destination of each of us in eternity.

Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet

It's true. Pope Francis' world is essentially conspiratorial. His fever dreams are full of rich plantation owners, power-hungry generalissimos and noble descamisados. The Great White Fleet is steaming up the Tiber! Santos Juan y Evita protect us, he murmurs in his sleep upon the Santa Marta rollaway, only to find himself in a room, a hot room, the thermometer rising, breaking the glass!

The Bear is still waiting for someone to examine Pope Francis from the perspective of Spanish American magical realism. There is indeed something magical -- as opposed to Catholic or logical -- in his thinking. He seizes fact A, folds space, and suddenly -- although nothing has moved -- Fact A is connected to Fact Z. Pope Francis is ever the rhetorical bateleur, never letting us see the movement of the ball on the table-top, until he is ready to remove the cup, and voila! Solidarity! The Planet! Arms Merchants!

Perhaps this is why he is not particularly troubled by the dubious scientific bona fides of global warming. It is impenetrable to the masses and only a means to an end, anyway. In short: it is magic. Things don't have to connect neatly up with lo real maravilloso americano.

The rhetoric is troubling. Pope Francis talks a lot about the world and its problems -- a strange amount for a Pope if you think about it -- but he does not lift so much as a corner of his Portrait of Evil. Some lesser devils -- those arms merchants, for example -- are conjured for our shock and awe, but if there is a grand unified conspiracy theory, he has not revealed it. Even to speculate would be unfair and inflammatory, or at least inflammatory. There is such a thing as invited comment. There are historical precedents. But shrug those aside. We can probably cross off the list of suspects Communism and Masonry.

Creep onstage at midnight, while Pope Francis tosses and turns, muttering in his dreams, and tip-toe up to the shrouded portrait. In a surge of bravado, you reveal El Supremo behind all the world's evils, and who do you see... in the mirror?

Rorate Caeli and the Missing Verses


Let's face it. The current, bowdlerized version of the Liturgy of the Hours leaves you cold. You want all the gory bits of your psalms (and who doesn't?) Well, fret not, fellow woodland creatures. You can get the Liturgy of the Hours for Benedictine Oblates from St. Meinrad Archabbey Gift Shop. Heads are shattered far and wide! Also, it is meant to be chanted, and has the Archabbey's set of tones. Grab the iChant app and soon you'll be confidently chanting the four-week cycle of psalms that form the backbone of what St. Benedict called "The Work of God." (It does not include seasons or feast days, and, sadly, their projected volume that was going to has been abandoned, per the Bear's chat with their oblate director this morning.)

Rorate Caeli has a story on a topic dear to the Bear's heart: the Liturgy of the Hours. As Benedictine oblates, the Bear and his mate are expected to pray Lauds and Vespers. Among the changes of the last fifty years was a purported reform. If you guessed that Rorate Caeli is unhappy, you would be correct.

The Bear might as well blow his traditonalist street cred by admitting that he likes praying the hours as the Church has now provided them to us. Over time, one gets familiar with the hours and their individual psalms, and the hymns (most of them decent). There is a comfort in just flipping the ribbons, turning the pages, and allowing the prayer to flow. If the rosary is right-brained, the hours are more left-brained. The Bear cannot express how blessed he is to have a mate to share it with.

The backbone of the Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH) is a four-week cycle of psalms (and occasional canticles). Feast days and the seasons of Advent, Lent and Easter are taken into account. We use the one-volume Christian Prayer from Catholic Book Publishing Corp., since we normally only do morning and evening prayers (formerly Lauds and Vespers), plus night prayer (formerly Compline).

Before addressing the main complaint over at Rorate Caeli, the Bear would observe that what is suitable for one age may not be suitable for another. For example, St. Benedict, in his rule, makes this sad concession:
For monks who in a week's time say less than the full psalter with the customary canticles betray extreme indolence and lack of devotion in their service. We read, after all, that our holy Fathers, energetic as they were, did all this in a single day. Let us hope that we, lukewarm as we are, can achieve it in a whole week.
So if you want to blame someone for introducing laxity praying the hours, you might as well start with St. Benedict. Now we pray the psalter in four weeks, instead of one. The Bear, for one, is grateful for this.

What really has Rorate Caeli upset is missing verses. For example, they complain that Psalm 109 (110:6) has been expunged to protect the delicate sensibilities of the faithful. "He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter heads over the wide earth."

As you might imagine, this is one of the Bear's favorites. It is not included in Christian Prayer. Nor is dashing little ones against a rock, 136 (137:9); or hating people with a perfect hate, 138 (139:22).

Oh bother.

If there is one thing that keeps the Bear from being a full-bore traditionalist, it is that he can only nail himself to the floor in front of one pew and die there. Or, as the original fire protection Bear, not every smoldering campfire can be a five-alarm blaze. He loves the LOTH, and isn't going to get too upset over Rorate Caeli's missing verses. And the Bear would hate for someone to be dissuaded from trying the gift of the LOTH on account of thinking they were some modernist abomination.

Was the removal of the verses misguided? The Bear suspects yes, but is also sensitive to stumbling blocks before weaker woodland creatures.

Fortunately, the Bear has a Bible, which he reads regularly. Those verses are not lost to him.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pewsitter Gets Eye of the Tiber Treatment

Pewsitter's headlines they come up with for the Bear's articles are better than the ones the Bear comes up with!!!

Ready to roll out: the FrancisMark    >P

The Bear's Been in His Secret Workshop

The Bear has finally managed to complete his first project in Photoshop CC. Use as you like. (The Bear suggests printing hundreds of copies and thoughtfully leaving them at your local church as bookmarks. Father will appreciate that.) What do you suppose the Bear has in mind?

God and Mammon

[Note: this is the third and last article dealing with the current papacy's preference for the worldly over the supernatural, as illustrated from events in the life of Christ.]

"Those who set out to serve God and mammon soon discover there is no God."
-- Logan Pearsall Smith

In the Gospel of Matthew, the oil that so exercised the Apostles is not given a specific worth. In the Gospel of Mark, however, the amount is fixed at "300 day's wages," as the NABRE puts it, or, literally, 300 denarii. That is indeed a large amount. We know this because in John's account of the feeding of the multitude, lunch for five thousand men plus their women and children was greater than 200 day's wages could purchase.

So, it seems reasonable to imagine that 300 day's wages would have covered it, according to Philip's cautious estimate. Which just happens to be the value of the costly oil poured on Jesus' head. The oil that caused such indignation on behalf of the poor.

The oil for Jesus' head was worth 300 denarii. Coincidentally, the price of feeding 5000 poor plus their women and children was also 300 denarii. The Bear suspects this is not a coincidence.

Perhaps your parish priest told you in his homily that Jesus did not perform a miracle at all. Perhaps he slyly suggested the boy's example led everyone in the crowd to bring out their secret lunches and share with those around them. Why do priests wish to join the Roman soldiers in mocking Christ's divinity? When did Our Lord's miracles become a scandal to them? If they cannot accept the feeding of the 5000, how do they accept the Resurrection? The Bear thinks he knows the answer and he trembles.

In these three little essays on the costly oil, the hungry poor, and, now, the 300 denarii, we have have been pondering a Church that cannot abide a divine Jesus. That has forgotten her supernatural mission. This has been most pronounced in the current papacy.

Pope Francis' Goal: "To solve the problem of poverty."

Had the apostles prevailed and the costly oil been sold for the poor, 5000 men, plus their women and children, might somewhere have been given a meal. Where would the next meal have come from? "The poor you will always have with you." But there are those in the Church who would rather withhold the costly oil from Christ's head and make him a liar by turning the Church into an engine to  "solve the problem of poverty" (Laudato, Si, 27).

More importantly, had Jesus attempted to "solve the problem of poverty" by material means, and had fed those people out of the purse, there would have been no opportunity for the miracle. It is the miracle that ultimately leads to the sublime Bread of Life discourse in John 6. The two are connected. Here Jesus is emphatic. He did not come to deliver earthly bread, even to the hungry. He came to bring down heavenly bread, even to the dying.

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24. One does not have to amass great personal wealth to serve mammon. Mammon is satisfied so long as your eyes are fixed on it, even if on behalf of others.

Which master are our churchmen great and small serving? What kind of Church are they making for us?

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Old Rabbi-Tricking-People-Into-Sharing-Their-Lunches-Trick

Training Hermes to attack bad homilies with beak and spur.

Anybody hear the one where the rabbi pretends to multiply bread, but really just tricked the people into sharing their secret food? Somehow the Bear was spared that scat this year. How about you?

Fight Club and a Campfire Chat

Apparently, the first rule of Fight Club is don't talk about Fight Club. The Bear cannot be less cryptic, but everything is smoothed over and certain elements are back in place for your shopping convenience.

The Bear is humbled, and grateful to those who have donated. When you drop something in the Bear's tin cup, you are not just supporting this blog in some generous, but vague way. You are providing material assistance to its author and his mate, and the caprine, avian and canine residents of Zoar. The Bear will say this once, because if he's going to lurk about your kitchen table (or wherever you read this blog) panhandling, you deserve a sob story, however brief.

The Bear subsists on a very small Navy disability pension. The Bear is longer the dashing criminal defense lawyer (which never paid very well, anyway). Like Forest Gump, that's all he's got to say about that.

On the other hand, the Bear's unexpected retirement has made this blog possible. Perhaps God would rather see the Bear roaring here, than representing the criminal poor. (Do not believe romantic South American myths about poverty and virtue being mystically linked. Maybe as a class, the poor are virtuous, but as individual members, not necessarily.)

It is also very nice to feel like the Bear is contributing something to the household budget. (The Shepherdess has her hands full at home.)

God has blessed St. Corbinian's Bear and it has become much bigger than the Bear ever hoped for. Yesterday, the Bear found one of his articles translated into Croatian. The two most recent articles are in the top ten of all time. The Bear would be remiss not to thank Pewsitter for their exposure. Of course there are many great blogs, and many far bigger than SCB.

It seems like yesterday the Bear was talking with Jane Chantal (who, with Pete at Et Cum Spiritu Tuo is his earliest and dearest reader) about folding SCB due to lack of interest. They have always encouraged the Bear, though. Without them, the Bear would have probably wandered off into the woods ong ago.

Finally, there is Pope Francis.

A blogger has to feel like Colonel Kilgore from Apocalypse Now, barely holding back tears as he says, "Someday this war's gonna end." If there is anyone to whom the Bear must attribute whatever success he has, it is Pope Francis. You must believe the Bear when he says that he does not want to write about Pope Francis. But the ponies... they're so fat, so slow, and they're running in the wrong direction. Sometimes, in all seriousness, the Bear imagines that the few traditionalist bloggers serve a genuine prophetic function. We cannot but stand up for the Church in her glory and truth, and for our Living  Savior.

So, once again, thank you for joining a disreputable old Bear. Nail your foot to the floor in front of your favorite pew and die there.

Friday, July 24, 2015

When Jesus Left the Poor Hungry

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes has a coda in a minor key. Jesus flees because he knows the crowd will try to make him a worldly, bread-giving king. Then he escapes across the sea of Galilee under cover of darkness, leaving the crowd hungry and without food. Urged on by their empty bellies, the crowd pursues Jesus.
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.
John 6:24-26 (NABRE).

The crowds had been fed by the multiplied loaves. Their empty bellies had been filled. When they woke up to find Jesus gone, they determined to hunt him down. Not because they loved him, or even because they were impressed by his miracles, but because of the brute fact that he had filled their bellies with bread.

Like many Catholics today, they have lost sight of (or never known) the divinity of Christ and the supernatural reality of the Church. To "solve poverty" is the thing. ("The exploitation of the planet has already exceeded acceptable limits and we still have not solved the problem of poverty." Laudato Si, 27.) To solve poverty? Not just feed the hungry, but "solve poverty" as if some philosophy or program were capable of such a thing! In their pride they imagine they can and must save a 4.5 billion year old planet designed, made and sustained by God.

Returning to the Gospel, what words would they have for a Jesus who leaves the poor hungry? Probably nothing very nice, although if He were willing to learn, they would be happy to teach Him.

Pope Francis: "We have still not solved the problem of poverty!"

The modern current of the Church is that of Dostoyevsky's famous Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov. "Feed us first, and then command us to be generous!" The Grand Inquisitor tells Jesus the poor will write that on their banners. In this tale within the novel, told by atheistic Ivan, the Catholic Grand Inquisitor holds Jesus prisoner. He condemns Him for rejecting Satan's three temptations. Mankind cannot bear the Gospel. Better to treat him as contented cattle.

The Grand Inquisitor has lost faith in God, and bears a cold, godless faith in the world.

When Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days, one of Satan's three temptations could not have been more simple: turn these stones into bread! But Jesus knew he had not come for bellies, but for souls. Almost gently, he redirects the worldly temptation into a ringing supernatural truth.
One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4 (NABRE).

Today many of our prelates seem to be saying, "Let us see to bread on earth; then we shall worry about pie in the sky later."

"Pie in the Sky" was Socialist agitprop which made fun of the idea of heaven.

You will eat, by and by,
In the glorious land above the sky.
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die,

It might have been sung in fun by the poor who wanted to make Jesus their bread-giving king. It has probably been sung by more than one cleric, Little Red Songbook in hand. Clerics who have lost the whole point of their vocation.

But what comes next makes clear the supernatural purpose of Christ's coming. It was to these poor, hungry, confused people that Jesus patiently explained that He was the Bread of life.
So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 
 So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe.
John 6:32-40 (NABRE).

Of course, most thought this supernatural business was nonsense. (They still do.) They turned their back on Jesus, and no doubt went in search of breakfast, angrily singing "Pie In the Sky" as they went.

It is not recorded that Jesus fed the poor here, although he could have. If that is what the Christian religion is about, why did Jesus not set a better example?

Next: God and Mammon

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Poor and the Costly Oil

Now when Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil, and poured it on his head while he was reclining at table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant and said, “Why this waste? It could have been sold for much, and the money given to the poor.” Since Jesus knew this, he said to them, “Why do you make trouble for the woman? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me. In pouring this perfumed oil upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be spoken of, in memory of her
Matthew 26:6-13 (NABRE).

Care for the poor is part of the basic social justice and charity toward neighbor that God has always demanded. Yet here, the Apostles -- Judas traditionally being the chief instigator -- had lost sight of the supernatural nature of Jesus' mission and His divinity. Jesus reminds them that their focus was in the wrong place.

The demagogue with his voters. The Communist with his proletariate. The Peronist with his descamisados. The Liberation Theologian with his poor. They withhold the oil from Jesus' head.

Worst of all, there are prelates who see the Church as just another political party to pursue worldly goals. Having, perhaps, lost faith in God, they have fashioned for themselves an idol of The Poor, or, worse, their own love for The Poor. Such prelates are frauds if they burn for The Poor, but not for Christ and the salvation of souls. Once again, they have lost sight of the supernatural nature of Jesus' mission and His divinity. Incredibly, they do not understand the purpose of the Church.

"The poor you will always have with you." This is Jesus' prophecy. Yet that is not what one hears today. If only we curb global warming. If only we redistribute wealth. If only we get rid of capitalism, then we could eliminate poverty. The poor we will not have anymore, for we have willed it, and our will be done on earth.

Judas is still clamoring, Peter is scolding, the apostles are still indignant, all snatching at the alabaster jar of costly oil lest any be wasted on the sweet head of their Savior. It must instead be sold for much and the money given to the poor.

Here are two observations, one easy and one, perhaps, challenging.

God has always demanded that we care for the poor, and we should, as the Church always has. Yet, lately, the Catholic Church seems to care more for the world than for Heaven. Between temporary bellies and immortal souls, the Church has made a bewildering choice. We are told that The Poor are somehow magical just because they are poor. This is Liberation Theology pure and simple.

The second observation is just a personal one. But the Bear senses that God wants you to feed a hungry person more than he wants a hungry person to be fed. God wants us to act for the glory of His Name, and in charity for our neighbor. He doesn't want us to come up with grand bureaucratic schemes to eliminate poverty or save the planet. Like all of us, The Poor will soon be called to judgment and be spending eternity in either Heaven or Hell. The planet is slated for destruction according to God's hidden and unchangeable will.

One pictures the scene: the squabbling apostles, the frightened woman. But at the center, at peace, is the serene figure of Christ speaking words of rebuke and comfort. That is where our eyes must rest, on Jesus Christ alone.

Next: When Jesus Left the Poor Hungry

Father Eugene the Snows Blessing Priest

Today the Bear had to see his veterinarian in Belleville, Illinois. (Believe it or not, not just any vet treats Bears.) This permitted a visit to Our Lady of the Snows National Shrine.

Normally, a post on OLS would be an occasion for complaints by the Bear. However, the hideous, rusted iron abomination featuring tentacles that served as a crucifix in the chapel of Hope and Healing has been replaced by a much less hideous rusted iron abomination featuring a figure in a grass miniskirt.

Trust the Bear -- it's a great improvement.

It was also a good visit because the Bear's mate bought him a Miraculous Medal for his birthday! And a St. Dymphna pocket coin. (It will join his St. Benedict Medal coin, so anyone rifling through his pockets may conclude he is a crazy Benedictine oblate.)

And lucky for us, Fr. Eugene the Blessing Priest was on duty.

Fr. Eugene regularly sets up outside the gift shop (still inside the building) and blesses purchases. The Bear suspects he is one of their retired Missionary Oblate priests; at any rate he is is quite old. He has an expansive personality the Bear finds attractive.

He greeted us by telling us not to be afraid of a book he was reading, entitled Zen and the Body. It's for a Tai Chi class which he said wasn't doing him any good. "It's free, though," he added, "so the price is right."

When we got to the blessing part, Fr. Eugene did not so much "read the black" as allude to various sections in a binder filled with photocopied pages. They included an epistle, a mini-homily and (eventually) a blessing. It was charming, actually, because he was sincere, and maybe because it is nice to see someone feeling useful. (The Bear is sensitive to this since his involuntary retirement.) The Bear suspects any shortcuts were a concession to our assumed short attention span.

At one point he said, "and here we have the prayer of the faithful for various things, such as" -- dropping his voice and shaking his head -- "same sex marriage." The Bear is still puzzling over what the intercession actually was. You never know these days. At any rate, it was clear Fr. Eugene was not a fan.

The Bear had originally intended to describe Fr. Eugene as "colorful." But the Bear's mate gently corrected him to use the word "sweet." And she's right. Fr. Eugene was saying the rosary when we came up, and, despite being clearly over eighty, he stood for the entire blessing. The Bear prays that God grants him many years in his gift shop ministry.

Pope Francis Bobblehead

The gift shop is a mere shadow of its former self. They tell me people do all their shopping online. However convenient shopping at the click of a banner is, the Bear is a bit skeptical. Is browsing dead? Impulse buys? Is there no obligation by a Catholic order at a national shrine to stock an edifying collection of books, as well as Pope Francis bobbleheads? (Oh, so many snarks must be strangled on the altar of good taste!)

But the Bear did find one treasure. Anyone remember these? It was originally published in 1954, what surely seems like a Golden Age of American Catholicism. There were other Confraternity titles, too. Some of them, the Bear recalls, were filled with engravings of a man in a suit carrying a cross and otherwise acting out Christian scenes. Just solid Catholic formation in a time when Catholics were presumed to care about such things.

It seems so long ago. Far too long.

Confraternity of the Precious Blood

ISIS, Don't Forget Who Number One in Terror Is

ISIS is trying to intimidate a nation that dismembers millions of babies in the womb and sells them to get rich. The Bear thinks they're going to have to do more than execute the occasional grownup if they want anything more than a shrug from America.

The trouble is, the Bear can't think of anything more horrifying than dismembering babies in the womb and selling them to get rich.

In a way, our own inexpressible, clinical evil is our defense against the mere savages of the world. And ISIS will forever be a distant second.

Anyone care to argue we're better because we're a "Christian nation?"

No, the Bear didn't think so.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Modernism Resources

UPDATE: Here's a piece the Bear devoted to Modernism about a year and a half ago. Since we're on the subject, you are respectfully invited to have a look at it, especially if you are a newer reader who may have missed it.

Here's a lecture by Rev. Paul Scalia on the Errors of Modernism, suggested by reader Michael Dowd. It is well worth the 48 minute run time, especially if you are not that familiar with this crucial battle for the heart of the Church. The Bear would probably find more Modernism at work in the past few decades than Fr. Scalia would credit, but Bears have an incredible sense of smell. They can literally sniff out heresy. (It smells like the remains of a cold, wet campfire on a hot, humid day.) And Modernism is nothing but, no matter which of your favorite recent popes have turned a blind eye to it.

Another good place to start (and revisit from time to time) is Pope Pius X's 1907 encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, which is all about Modernism. It isn't short, but they didn't have to bind it and sell it as a book, either.

Time Running Out for Poll

Only one day left to participate in a poll concerning Pope Francis' effect not only on the Church, but on you personally. The Bear is fascinated (and horrified) by the results so far. Is Francis a hazard to your mental health? The Bear thinks he may be, and has an idea exactly why. Researching it now.

Sure, it's easy to sneer, "Oh, what won't they blame on poor Pope Francis?" And, the Bear admits it sounds a bit silly. Wait, read and decide. It's even got UFOs. Even so, follow the Bear and see if you don't agree in the end.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cardinal Videoed Worshipping Demoness

You've got to see this pathetic yet nonetheless evil performance by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi via Rorate Caeli. "For the gods of the nations are idols." Psalm 96:5 (NABRE). Or, as the Douay Rheims more colorfully puts it, "devils."

Odd, most cultists with whom the Bear has been familiar always process sunwise in lodge. Perhaps they are processing widdershins because they are south of the equator, like water circling the drain opposite the way it does in the north? Or perhaps, simply they're extra evil? Why is the Cardinal not telling them they should be worshiping Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church and not the goddess Pachamama by walking glumly around a blanket?

But who is the Bear to judge, eh?

Then again, the Cardinal is the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, so it's not like he could have refused to worship the goddess Pachamama. When in Argentina, do as the Argentinians.

Pope Francis is a Good Shepherd

The Church's One Foundation

Before the Bear proceeds to the chief business of the day, he is forced once again to address a familiar summertime complaint: weapons of mass distraction.

The Bear surmises that dressing themselves is a very confusing task for many ladies. The Bear is hardly an expert at putting on women's garments, so he has done some research. As he suspected, a lady cannot consider herself completely dressed for Mass if she contents herself to wear a frock, sheer blouse or bicycling attire with nothing -- the Bear blushes beneath his fur to say this -- underneath.

As a public service, the Bear has provided the rotogravure to the left to illustrate the appropriate type of foundation garment women should consider when visiting the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Note that it provides a layer of decency both south and north of the border, if you get the Bear's drift.

All things considered, the Bear felt transported to one of the remoter areas of Africa whenever his eye was inadvertently caught by one of the young ladies in attendance.

Finally, it is common wisdom that to be involved in an automobile accident without such precautions leads to newspaper headlines such as, "Underwearless Miss Mabel Jones Rescued From Motorcar After Accident Following St. Francis Xavier's Ten O'Clock Mass."

Now to change tone and get perfectly -- one might say deadly -- serious.

Pope Francis the Good Shepherd

Today's Old Testament reading seemed appropriate enough. It is one that would make the Bear tremble like an aspen leaf if had the slightest authority over the sheep. It is obvious to any real Catholic that many of our shepherds delight in misleading the sheep, from the lowliest priest to cardinals closest to the Pope himself.

They mislead. They scatter. They drive away. They do not care for the sheep. By any ordinary measure, faithful Catholics are indeed a remnant. Here is the reading, from Jeremiah 23:1-6 (NABRE).

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture—oracle of the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people:You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have banished them and bring them back to their folds; there they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear or be terrified; none shall be missing—oracle of the Lord. 
See, days are coming—oracle of the Lord —
when I will raise up a righteous branch for David;
As king he shall reign and govern wisely,
he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name to be given him:
“The Lord our justice.”

Smiling Pope Francis has proved himself a good shepherd.

But not by the standards of today's reading.

Pope Francis is a good shepherd according to the lights of the world, and it's Master, Beelzebub. He is adored by the world and its puffed-up organs. He sows confusion and discouragement. (Look at the poll in the right sidebar to see the verdict of the Bear's readers.) He is happiest when the Catholic Faith is in retreat and Francis is put forward.

In the neglected (granted, Puritan) classic, Pilgrim's Progress, Christian and Hopeful get into an argument with Mr. ByEnds and his worldly companions over using religion to attain worldly ends. Christian's final argument is devastating.

"Fifth," concluded Christian, "don't think this simply a fabrication of my own mind that a man who becomes religious for the purpose of gaining the world will be just as willing to  throw away religion to obtain it. As surely as Judas had designs on the world in becoming religious, he just as surely sold religion and his master for the same thing. To answer the question [whether one might use religion to advance oneself and one's aims] in the affirmative, therefore, as I perceive you have done, and to accept such an answer as correct, is irreligious, hypocritical and devilish. Your reward will be in accordance with your works."

There are all sorts of men who lust after the world. The least dangerous are those who are dazzled by its treasure. The worst are the ones who gaze at the world, and see their own reflection as big as the world.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pre-Painted Easter Eggs!

Araucana Egg

Our rescue chicken Sophie showed her gratitude by laying her breed's characteristic blue-green egg. City folk miss out on a lot of God's little "Easter eggs."

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Bear's Struggles With Species Dysphoria

The Bear wants to stop mugging and juggling for a moment and address a serious problem: Species Dysphoria.

Nobody knows how many rational beings SD affects. It is the disease no one takes seriously. Believe the Bear, it is no laughing matter. Allow him to share his personal story.

If you saw the Bear, you'd think, "Oh, crap! There's a freakin' Bear!" How could you know that deep inside, in his most authentic part, he's not a Bear at all, but a Man. He thinks like a man, and dresses like a man. (So, it would be more like, "Oh, crap! There's a freakin' Bear! And he's wearing clothes.")

SD Sufferer in London

Obviously, God totally messed up in placing a human soul in a Bear body. But there is a way to fix it. By means of a long series of complex and dangerous surgeries coupled with drug treatments, the Bear can be transformed into a ghastly, 8-ft tall man covered in dense fur.

SD coupled with Gender Dysphoria. We are not circus freaks!

The Bear's situation is complicated by the fact that he is apparently immortal, having lived 1300 years. St. Corbinian would talk to the Bear in those early years about his nature. He said that, Bear though he might be, his Bear could, just maybe, transform into something less beastly. He said people did that by choosing good over evil, by loving God and their neighbor. By concentrating less on themselves. He assured the Bear that he was exactly what God intended him to be, at least for the time being, and the answer was to be found in the Catholic faith.

But if there's one thing the Bear has learned in 1300 years, being Catholic is really hard. And often annoying. Have you ever had to wake up from hibernation every single week and trudge through six feet of snow to Mass? Without shoes?

So the Bear has decided to go through species reassignment therapy. He will no longer be the Bear, but... well, he can't be "The Man," so he'll have to pick a name. Something manly. Like Cliff. or maybe Rock.

And this blog will sound like, "Greetings, fellow people, this is your commentator, Rock, writing something new about our Pope, Francis the Great. Today, I (wow, a first person singular pronoun!) I want to write 27 things to know and share about Pope Francis' the Great's toothbrush. I know you'll find this just as fascinating as I did, so pour yourself a steaming mug of hot, steaming coffee, and settle down for some fascinating information that I, as a man, not a Bear, just know you will enjoy."

One of the first things they'll do is remove the Bear's snark gland, so might as well enjoy it while he's still got it!

Then we can get to work on the Bear's Yorkie, Buster, who also struggles with Species Dysphoria.

Note: The Bear has no doubt that some people don't feel right about themselves, and that this causes distress. What the Bear finds absurd, and, in a way, cruel and exploitative, is the fact that this mental illness is "fed" in a way similar to the way homosexuality is catered to, rather than treated. Maybe there isn't a cure for either one. Many, if not most mental illnesses are treatable (if you're lucky) but not curable. Somehow, it is only when it comes to sexuality that we must become mad ourselves, rather than treat it.

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