Friday, October 30, 2015

Farewell to Reality

[Originally published one year ago. The Bear shows his prescience, but has to admit it's not much of a trick these days.]

Denyse O'Leary writes here about a book, Farewell to Reality, a critique of modern science. Her article addresses the waste of time known as String Theory and its bastard child The Multiverse. Those theories may be flops as science, but they are superstars for atheism. Everybody recognizes that our Goldilocks "just right" universe has astronomical odds against it. However, if you spread those chances around an infinity of 'verses in The Multiverse, you no longer have to have nightmares about a Creator who may care what kind of existence you lead.

We're constantly assured that we would believe in the Multiverse, too, if we could "only understand the math." The trouble is, real scientists who can understand the math are saying it's a crock and science should get back to figuring out real stuff instead of chasing imaginary philosophical rabbits.

It occurs to the Bear that Farewell to Realty might just as well be said about the rest of the world. What actually is, is less important than what people say it is.

For example, there is no amount of murder that could be committed by Muslims in the name of Islam that would cause the "Islam is a religion of peace" refrain to falter. To use a less bloody example, no amount of dialogue will ever be enough to accomplish whatever it is dialogue is supposed to be accomplishing. (The Bear believes the goal is actually dialogue.)

In our own Church, we are seeing that the battle is no longer over dogma. Dogma is in dusty old copies of Denzinger that nobody reads anymore. What is, isn't important. Now it's all about impressions, the buzz. Create enough extra-dogmatical buzz, and anything's possible.

It's really a very neat trick.

I prefer the buzz of bees.
The buzz factor is the reason why it matters what Pope Francis says, and why it matters what we say. Take the Synod. Certainly, the Farewell to Reality side didn't win outright. But they marched out as far as they were able and hammered in their stakes, marking the boundaries of the new consensus that will be growing in the coming year.

To the extent there remains any reality aside from the brute laws of nature, consensus is the only thing that matters. And consensus follows buzz. This is why the Bear feels obligated to contribute to the counter-buzz. If the woodlands are a bit darker these days than they were in the past, that is unfortunate, but not all days are sunny. Perhaps it is easy to forget the moments of humor and fun (at least fun for the Bear) we still enjoy here in Zoar.

The Bear truly hates to disappoint or alienate his readership. Heck someone with the on-line Catholic clout of Michael Voris can't keep his audience happy, so what chance does a poor old bear? Things were easier when all he had to do was ride a bicycle around the ring or drink a bottle of Coca-Cola. Times change.

Physicists playing cat's cradle with String Theory, politicians praising the peacefulness of Islam, and prelates contradicting Christ about marriage. The Bear doesn't see much difference. They all demonstrate how the West, at least, is saying Farewell to Reality. Perhaps one day soon, we will meet a reality that is more insistent than these.

The Bear wonders what we will do then.

Are Lawyers Over-Represented in Catholic Blogdom?

Is it the Bear's perspective, or does Catholic blogging have more than its fair share of lawyers? Why might that be?

  • Lawyers are drawn to controversy
  • Lawyers are rules-oriented
  • Lawyers respect precedent 
  • Lawyers are experienced in writing relatively short, persuasive briefs
  • Lawyers can digest facts quickly and accurately
  • Lawyers can be very passionate about their side winning
  • Lawyers feel right at home in an adversary environment
  • Lawyers tend to be smart people, who are often worthwhile writers
  • Lawyers have to understand both sides of a case
  • Lawyers have a state-of-the-art BS detector developed over years of being lied to
  • Lawyers enjoy a forum where the rules are relaxed and they don't have to be courtroom stiffs

Am I right about there being a lot of lawyers out there, especially in traditionalist circles?

Any lawyer bloggers want to chime in?

While the Bear's last piece was tongue-in-cheek, he does feel lawyers have a good skill set for blogging (although not exclusive qualifications).

Any other professions over-represented in Catholic blogdom? Under-representated? Where are Catholic physicians, Catholic dentists, Catholic car salesmen? Is it only the "writing professions" that provide the most bloggers?

How about women vs. men? Who is doing more blogging?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Qualifications Necessary To Be a Blogger

Blogs are essential to the well-informed and motivated Catholic. Therefore, it is important to know which blogs are edifying, while avoiding the gimcrack offerings of slipshod shysters. To this end, the Bear offers the following qualifications you should demand from anyone who seeks your valuable time and attention. If you follow the Bear's advice, you will avoid bloggers who are just sensationalistic click-prostitutes out to make a buck.

The kind of blogger you want must combine the following education and experience.

A blogger must be able to persuade people to follow the right course of action. Someone equally skilled in forensic debating and arguing before regular folks is required. To give an example of someone who should not be in Catholic media is a journalist. Journalists strive to maintain a detached objectivity. Is that who we're looking for in these dark days? No. We need advocates!

A good blogger should be able to sort out competing claims using a well-developed instinct. He should be able to employ relentless questioning to wring the truth out of unwilling witnesses. He must have a razor sharp intellect.

A good blogger, it goes without saying, should be more than a pretty face. In fact, good looks are definitely not a requirement, because, after all, this is not television! He should be capable of writing his own material, employing all the tools of the wordsmith: interview, narrative, analysis, and even humor and irony. He must be persuasive, even as he remains fair and accurate.

A good blogger is capable of doing his own tireless research. He must be able to put together the jigsaw puzzle of complicated situations, and determining the means, motives and opportunities of the various actors.

If you look at these qualifications, you'll see that there is really only one profession that should be allowed to blog:


The blogger must have a JD. Lawyers are even licensed, so you know they're legit. Are journalists licensed? No. Anybody can call himself a journalist and scribble for whoever will hire him.

But, still, something is missing. Not just any lawyer will do. Not even a good one. He must have an appeal that combines scary and cute.

When necessary, he should have the talent to employ the Old Razzle Dazzle. This requires extensive experience in secular show business:

It's all show business kid,
These trials, the whole world, show business.
But kid, you're workin' with a star, the biggest!

So, unless your blogger combines all of these qualifications, he's just in it for the money and should be avoided at all costs. 

Wait! The Bear just realized that only he fulfills all of these qualifications! He's a lawyer, licensed to practice; and his extensive career in criminal defense has honed all those required skills to a sharp edge. And, Bears are both scary and cute! Finally, he has many centuries of show business experience (granted, mostly unwilling), including the fabled Pablo Fanques' circus, where he became personal friends with the Hendersons. (They would always drop by with an extra fish. But the Bear wonders if they were really satisfying the Bear's appetite for the safety of Henry the Horse.)

And to top it off, he is award-winning. He received the New York City Bar Association's Committee on Military Justice's Award, and the Richard E. Cunningham Award: "In recognition of a career marked by extraordinary legal representation, compassionate concern for the welfare of capital clients and zealous advocacy in support of the constitutional precepts of due process and equal protection of the law."

Just think of it as an Emmy for defense lawyers.

And just to put a cherry on top of the Bear's love-me cake, he has experience in both print and radio journalism, including news director at a small market AOR FM station. Just because a station is small market doesn't mean you don't do all the things done in bigger markets. You still have to go out and cover crime, politics, and other beats, do your interviews, select your actualities, and produce your newscast. The Bear also did features for his local NPR affiliate, and even did some legal commentary in the form of essays which were picked up from one end of the state to the other.

The Bear is a half semester away from finishing his Radio-Television degree. (Something the Bear did after law school; the U.S. Navy called him up earlier than expected.)  

Not that journalism experience matters, of course.

Trust the Bear; when he set out to provide the qualifications of a blogger, the farthest thing from his mind was that he would end up as the only one in the entire world qualified to blog on Catholic affairs. This is truly an amazing coincidence.

Which makes it all the more important for you to consider joining the Bear's readers who make donations. If a large percentage of the Bear's readers tossed a couple of bucks into the Bear's tin cup every time they really liked a story, that would add up. And the Bear always appreciates the bigger donations. (Someone just made a recurring $10 donation, which just happens to be the price of a Premium Membership at CMTV!)

And remember, all the Bear's content is free.


Note: it does seem that lawyers are over-represented in Catholic blogdom. But that's besides the point. It seems unnecessary, but the Bear has learned how easily people are offended. This is a lampoon of Michael Voris making the case that only those with both an academic background in theology plus extensive secular experience in journalism were qualified to participate in Catholic media. 

Are lawyers really better suited than journalists? The Bear thinks they both have good skill sets. As for theology, trial lawyers have to become "mini-experts" on topics at issue. The Bear has had to master forensic odontology, dentistry, fingerprint analysis, DNA, "Shaken Baby Syndrome," and all manner of brain injuries and other trauma, fMRIs, blood spatter analysis, false confession, psychopathy and other mental illnesses plus hundreds of other matters normally the domain of experts. By "master," the Bear means know enough to effectively examine expert witnesses, including those (hostile witnesses) put on by the opposing side. Also, the Bear had to know enough to explain it in a way a jury could understand it. That's the real test. Lawyers will know exactly what the Bear means. 

While he concedes it might be a plus, the Bear does not believe some degree in theology to be the sine qua non of Catholic media. The Bear took masters level courses in theology, and concluded that much of what he was being taught shaded away from orthodoxy.

To be serious, the Bear thinks there are wonderful bloggers with all sorts of experience. Sometimes, a particular blogger's qualifications will make him (or her) ideal to comment on a particular issue. Pete, at Et Cum Spiritu Tuo is an economist, for example. It is ludicrous and arrogant to presume to dictate who can participate in a volunteer effort of free speech. This is an example of why the Bear has been keeping an eye on Michael Voris lately. That was a very odd episode, and the Bear wonders what's going on.

For the record, the Bear does not dislike Mr. Voris, and remembers his premium programming to be mostly worth the $10 a month the Bear was paying. The Bear coudn't tell you why he stopped watching, except it lacked organization and seemed a bit overwhelming. To someone else, that might be a treasure trove.

The Vortex, however, is another matter. It seems to have a fundamental flaw that the Bear has discussed elsewhere, and he is certain everyone is tired of his discussion of these issues, anyway.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Voris to Bloggers: DROP DEAD

Michael Voris is once again under the Bear's scrutiny, because once again he has done something noteworthy. Since the Bear is not a Professional Broadcaster, he will go with an easy-to-understand, lawyerly chronological outline at the risk of burying the lede.

Voris' Premise

Voris' premise is that the bad guys are playing a game of pointing fingers of blame at conservatives when conservatives criticize Pope Francis. This is a welcome clarification of his recent "Failed Papacy?" Vortex, which the Bear found impossible to understand. Voris' premise depends upon the idea that ordinary folks follow ecclesiastical politics and care. Voris gave three examples of how this has been tried.

First: "The Letter." The letter circulated by some prelates was spun into an attack on the Pope. Some of them who had supposedly signed it, denied signing it. Voris apparently supposes this had traction with the man on the street.

Second: "The Tumor." There was some speculation that the story released by an Italian newspaper was planted by evil conservatives to undermine Pope Francis' papacy, although there were never any names suggested to the Bear's knowledge. Again, Voris imagines that people follow this sort of "inside baseball."

Third: "The Pope's Enemies." Cardinal Wuerl speculates about the Pope's enemies. Once again, people are supposed to hear this, know who Cardinal Wuerl is, and agree with him. Thus we, the good guys, take heavy damage, according to Voris.

Liberals and Modernists use these tactics because they know they work, Voris says. In secular politics, criticize President Obama and liberals will call you a racist. Similarly, criticize the Pope and Modernists will say you, well, criticized the Pope. (A quibble: America has a built-in race factor bubbling under the surface that liberals can tap into in a way Cardinal Wuerl can't in ecclesiastical politics.)

Now the reason we should not attack the Pope is because it is a bad tactic. For this reason, according to Voris, we should attack the evil men around the Pope.

Voris' Solution: Ditch Blogs and Rely on the Professionals

This is where it gets interesting. It reminds the Bear of the scene in Ghostbusters where Venkman tells the guy at the library, "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." Except now it's "Back off, man. I'm a Professional Journalist."

First, you have to have a real theological education to detect "subtleties and nuances."

Second, you have to have professional, secular media experience.

Why, what do you know! We're in luck! Michael Voris has both of these qualifications. In case you have failed to connect the dots, Voris actually states Church Militant TV has these ingredients. And they're no fly-by-night blogs sensationalizing things for a few extra clicks.

And then he immediately asks for money: to buy a Premium Membership.

So do you get this? Don't bother with a bunch of amateurs who will hose it all up. Stick with professionals, like, why, me! It's like the famous 1975 Daily News headline, "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD." Except this time it's "VORIS TO BLOGGERS: DROP DEAD."

The Bear's Reaction

The Bear can't help but observe that if you allow the other side to control the debate, you've already lost. When the Bear practiced trial defense, he would always pick the prosecution's most shocking piece of real evidence, maybe the murder weapon, to pick up and use before the jury. It showed everyone that the Bear was not afraid of anything the prosecution could present. It also desensitized them, thus eliminating the shock value.

The other side is going to do their thing, period. There are givens. You can't let that dictate your strategy.

So the Bear is not sure he even agrees with Voris' premise. This just sounds like the same old lyrics of "don't criticize the Pope," set to a different tune. The Bear is not convinced that most people are attuned to ecclesiastical politics as are we visitors, friends and woodland creatures, or Michael Voris' Premium Members.

But that's not even the main thing that moved the Bear to put paws to keyboard.


In case you missed it, unless you're Michael Voris, you bloggers should take your cheap quest for clicks somewhere far from Catholic news. You don't have a degree in theology? You don't have extensive secular broadcast experience? Then you don't have what it takes to be in the big boy's game. You'll miss the subtleties and won't know how to present the story. And you don't even have a rich backer to send you to Rome where you can look like a journalist, "live from Rome," even though you have said you don't act as one. (Which makes one wonder what the use of that formidable professional experience is, since Voris apologized for acting like a journalist in the "Harming the Pope" incident with Cardinal Burke on October 22 of last year.) 

There are problems with Catholic blogdom. Maybe one day -- with Mr. Voris' permission -- the Bear will even write a blog about them. But one of them is not their existence. The Bear could go on (maybe even Michael Voris pays attention to Bears) but it's not the Bear's job to tell you how you should feel.

The Bear always posts the videos for you to watch so you can make up your own mind. The Bear has never seen a more condescending, take-your-toys-and-get-off-the-playground, and by the way, give me some money, exhibition. We're here, Michael, because you're not infallible. No one is. You don't always get things right. Lately, as the Bear expressed in his last blog referencing you, your product seems to have issues.

But that's just one Bear's opinion.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Michael Voris -- Claws Out on "Pope Benedict's Fingerprints"

Voris: Now Okay to Criticize Francis

As the Bear watched the Vortex "Pope Benedict's Fingerprints," he was shocked at what can only be called vitriol toward the Pope Emeritus.

The first thing that struck the Bear, though was Voris' saying that Pope Benedict piled up the dynamite and Pope Francis lit the fuse. He also admitted unspecified "problems" with Pope Francis' papacy. So the "don't criticize Pope Francis policy" has been dropped, at least to that extent.

You Missed Hitler Youth, Michael

Most of the Vortex was a hate-fest toward Pope Emeritus Benedict. Voris was brutal in condemning Benedict for "abandoning" the flock to "wolves he himself let in." (Ironically, Voris included Pope Francis in this pack of wolves.) Benedict was also criticized (along with St. Pope John Paul II) with creating many of today's troublemaking cardinals. Including the biggest troublemaker of them all, Jorge Bergoglio, whom Voris mentioned by name.

The SODDI Defense

So now that the that defense of Pope Francis is no longer credible, Voris opens phase two: deflect the blame to Pope Emeritus Benedict. Oh, and also to ignorant bloggers who have no "secular experience," whatever that means. (The Bear has secular experience in print and radio journalism, as well as law.)

In defending Pope Francis, which seems to be the one and only mission of Church Militant TV now, Voris implied that Benedict lied about his health to get out of the papacy, called his retirement "possibly immoral," called his retirement a "cataclysm" that may take centuries to fix, said Benedict as a father, abandoned his children, and blamed the whole Synod on him, not Francis. The classic SODDI defense: some other dude did it.

But what was truly shocking was what can only be called disgust, even hatred directed toward Pope Emeritus Benedict. Anticipating objections, he gleefully pointed out that Benedict was no longer a pope, so he could say whatever he wanted about him. However, unless Michael Voris knows for a fact that Benedict was in good health when he resigned, he may very well be committing sins of calumny and detraction.

Sometimes you have to wonder about Michael Voris' health. He is capable of a good show, but, every once in awhile, we get a bizarre rant. Maybe he needs a new producer. If Terry Carroll still reads this blog, Mr. Carroll, the Bear respectfully tenders his opinion that we've had a couple of very strange Vortex episodes lately. Something is wrong, and it's showing.

Personally, the Bear liked Pope Benedict XVI's bear on his coat of arms, but he was always the German theologian. Some love him for making it possible for some to use the old liturgy, but the Bear cares not for such things. The Bear remembers not caring for his Jesus books, but could not say why, now. The Bear liked Pope Benedict, because he seemed to be popely and relatively conservative. He was not, however, the man the hour seemed to call for.

The Bear thinks it is hilarious that Michael Voris is protecting Pope Francis by blaming Pope Emeritus Benedict for opening the door by first advising St. Pope John Paul II to make him a cardinal; then secondly by retiring, and making his election possible. Yep, Pope Francis may be a snake, goes this argument, but it's all Pope Benedict's fault that he was permitted to slither onto the throne of Peter.

As a defense, that doesn't pass the straight face test, Michael. Even if someone buys it, all you've done is create two guilty men. Juries are cool with that, and will punish whomever is available.

From someone with a whole lot of secular experience.

Vortex -- Don't Fall Into Defeatist Mind-Set

There has been spirited debate on St. Corbinian's Bear blog whether the Synod was a victory or a defeat. I believe it is fair to say that more traditional Catholics seem to be the ones denying that we won a victory.

Michael Voris makes an excellent point -- we must not succumb to a "defeatist mind-set." (The Bear is just going to ignore the execrable "Blame It On Pope Emeritus Benedict" Vortex from the day before.)

The Bear would like to clarify some things.

First of all, the Bear may get frustrated and growly when debating. That's just a Bear. In the courtroom, there are rules and traditions that channel polite debate into useful issues based on evidence. While his commenters are smart, and do a pretty good job, the Bear misses a referee to rule on (and require!) evidence.

Maybe he should just stay out of the comment box altogether. The problem is that this is no ordinary blog. It has a mission to support the Plain Ol' Roman Catholic Church without bringing avoidable scandal into the picture. If the Bear abandons the comment box, he is certain you can see how that mission could be quickly overwhelmed. (And the Bear is not thinking about anyone in particular. so relax.)

He could also simply not allow comments, or heavily moderate. That is pretty much up to the commenters. This would grieve the Bear. You guys usually have good comments, but the Bear is asking you to step up your game so there don't have to be any changes.

Victory. If you're going to discuss it, you have to define it, agreed? The Bear might agree with you that we did not win a victory if crushing Modernism was the condition. That's why we try to keep things within the realm of reality.

In the Bear's case, it seems clear that they had every advantage in the world. Counting on that, they raised expectations with the help of a complaisant media. And yet, at the end of the whole unnecessary mess, they managed to eke out some wishy-washy language in a document that doesn't really mean much anyway. Who knows, maybe it was your rosary that tipped the scales, that one you prayed when you really didn't feel like it.

By any reasonable measure, this was a victory. We've had over a year of celebration dances by our enemies that have not stopped to this day. But they were beaten, even humiliated by any reasonable standard. But our glum attitude makes their charade look true.

Why are the Modernists and their fellow travelers able to pretend like they won, while we, having actually won, huddle in the corner straining, blood vessels near bursting, trying to make a cloud of defeat appear over our heads?

Why is it only the Modernists who are capable of never giving up, and always pursuing their tangled plots? We, on the other hand, throw in the towel after the first punch.

Why is it that only Modernists can argue the language on what an ultimately meaningless document permits? Do we have no one to argue against them, so we must hang our heads in defeat?

Why do Modernists always project optimism, while we are not only far from joyful, but make fun of Pope Francis when he urges us to be so? Which group would you rather join, the glum defeatists, or the confident and happy Modernists?

Where is the supernatural element in the way we attack, attack, attack, retreat, retreat, retreat, and why does it seem so absent from our attitudes?

Bears don't lose. The Bear never lost a death penalty, and he tried many. Those are hard cases. Everything is against you. But every time the Bear found a way to win as the underdog.

We need to think like generals, recognizing our wins as well as our losses. The enemy observes our reaction. If we project defeat, evil rejoices in both natural and supernatural realms. They sense our weakness and fear. A demoralized enemy is one you have already defeated.

We won the Synod. And even if we didn't, we should celebrate as if we had.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Oh No! We Won!

BREAKING -- Synod report out: liberals defeated and conservative bloggers delete thousands of articles announcing the end of the Catholic Church.

The Telegraph. "Synod Verdict: the Catholic Church is still Catholic. Liberals need to back off and traditionalists can calm down. The synod upheld Catholic doctrine and the future rests with orthodoxy." [A+]

The Advocate. "Disappointment, yet hope remains." [Coincidentally, last entry in Hitler's diary.]

The Guardian. "Vatican synod holds it's line on gay couples, but offers new hope to Catholic divorcees." [Church to stop hanging them?]

New York Times. "Vatican splits on rules over a more inclusive Church." [LOL]

The Synod labored and brought forth a mouse, but we shall see. Pope Francis could say, "Oh well, so much for collegiality," and marry two priests in front of the Bernini baldachin in St. Peter's next week. That's what makes being Catholic so exciting!

The Church is like Gotham City, with all the same colorful troublemakers hatching their schemes, but good always manages to triumph in the end. This time, the Joker: Cardinal Kasper with his trademark gap-toothed rictus; Bane: the bald and bulky Cardinal Marx; Poison Ivy: the, well, Fr. Rosica (the Bear is totally not implying that, despite Fr. Rosica's well-known fondness for homosexuals, Fr. Rosica is in drag or is himself a homosexual); The Penguin: Cardinal Cupich; and Catwoman: Cardinal Daneels. (Feel free to add your own.)

And, silhouetted against a full moon, standing atop Gotham Cookie Factory, is the rotund figure of The Bear.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Is "Failed Papacy?" Most Confusing Vortex Ever?

Michael Voris and Another Reason not to Criticize the Pope

This is what the Bear took away from Michael Voris' latest "Vortex." This may not make sense.

The bad guys -- who appear at the moment to be a small minority -- need the "hope and change aura" of Pope Francis to promote their heretical agendas. At the same time, the Holy Father has frequently talked about the devil and condemned homosexual unions. (The Bear confesses missing the latter, but will take Michael's word for it.) So it appears that the Pope is actually against the "reforms" promoted by heterodox bishops.

Yet the Pope has a habit of promoting people on the basis of whether he likes them. Hence, if he likes heretics, they get the jobs, while more orthodox men don't. The Pope is probably grieved by their heretical positions, but is psychologically incapable of doing more than wringing his hands in private. The Bear supposes we are to take from this that we are not to draw any conclusions from the heresy of men in Pope Francis' circle. Hey, he just likes the guys and can't help himself.

Add to that a terrible press office that every day rams homosexuality down our throats through the person of Fr. Rosica, who seems to favor that agenda for some reason. (The Bear wonders if it is because Fr. Rosica is himself homosexual. The Bear has no evidence besides Fr. Rosica's constant promotion of the gay old lifestyle. That, and "sodomite" is a resume enhancing bullet in the Vatican.) The result is that, thanks in large part to Fr. Rosica, whom the Bear is definitely not actually calling a homo, the official Vatican policy seems to favor a pro-homosexual agenda. But, remember, that does not reflect Pope Francis' ideas. Once again, Francis -- the Pope -- is powerless to change this. (Perhaps he really likes Fr. Rosica.)

So, the press (using careless statements made by the Pope) has created a false image of Pope Francis that he will not and cannot live up to. In one sense, one may begin (and some are beginning) to talk about Pope Francis' papacy as a failure. Michael Voris is totally not discounting the possibility, by the way, just shrugging it off as a matter for some future determination. The problems are exacerbated by poor personnel choices (made by the Pope) that represent a heterodoxy not shared by Pope Francis. 

Pope Francis is only now realizing something he could not know in Buenos Aires -- just how big the Roman Catholic Church is. (Yep, that's on the Vortex.)

Therefore, while Pope Francis is clearly vulnerable due to his own incompetence, by criticizing him, we are helping the bad guys. Perhaps because they can point at evil conservatives as the ones who are doing the criticizing, while the heterodox can position themselves as upright defenders of Francis. Because they want to tie themselves to a failed papacy. For some reason.

Or something.

The Bear doesn't either.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Into the Heart of Darkness (Entire Article)

The foundation of foundations is the family, not the individual.

If one remembers just this, he will not go far wrong in sociology, psychology, economics or ecclesiology. No honest mistake by sound minds could have gotten this simple fact so colossaly wrong as some bishops. "Oh, dear," his Excellency might exclaim, "I always get gravity's direction wrong. Up, down, I mean who can keep all that straight?" That might be forgivable if a bishop were equipped only with whatever ambition and little claws necessary to obtain a purple outfit. But how does an entire assortment of bishops from all over the world not know the -- literally -- first thing about families, and then have the audacity to dictate its rules at a synod devoted to the family?

Of course, the Bear is having you on.

This is not a synod about "the family;" about husbands and wives, moms and babies and the like. No, scratch that, "and the like," and leave the rest in simple peace. A synod whose keynote speakers were ancient Aussies on walkers boasting about their 57-year-sex-life (some of it even within holy matrimony; nor to forget a shout-out to homosexuals), was never about the family. When Al Goldstein started his pornographic magazine in 1968, he had more integrity than the people behind this synod. He forthrightly called it "Screw."

Once again, the foundation of foundations is the family.

Since we live in an insane age, the Bear shall have to define "family" as papa bear, mama bear and baby bear. Furthermore baby bear belongs to papa bear and mama bear. Mama bear is the only bear papa bear has mated with and that was inside of marriage. Also, papa bear and mama bear are the same sex and species they were born as. (The Bear is certain he has overlooked some permutation with its own slogan and probably awareness month. Please be forgiving in these troubled times.)

A whole paragraph for what any first-grader with a few crayons and a blank sheet of paper would draw, with a house behind and a shining sun overhead. A foundation more solid than the roots of the tallest mountains rests under that picture, little more than a scribble. Well, little artists, we have some bad news for you. Your fond natural security is being shattered by bishops more interested in the sex habits of bonobos than you, tiny ones, in the image of Christ.

Let us visit the environs of the Vatican at night  to discover churchmen who, knowing the pathologies of the family through the confessional and agitators, somehow imagine they can redesign the fundamentals. It would be as if the laborer who fills the potholes on the road that goes over the bridge were to suddenly redesign the piers! Since our journey is lightless, you must trust to the greasiness between your fingers to know when you have arrived. Ambition and pride never fail to leave behind their characteristic, foul-smelling oil. And don't sniff, unless you want to have your nose stung by the acrid smoke of malice.

Part II


Ah, we have found our first cabal! Seeing the healthy family, these men would inject a deadly contagion. This party can only be called by its original city of infamy, that God could do no other than destroy with fire from heaven. Whether you actually indulge yourselves or not, your Excellencies -- and we cannot give a confident negative, so shall pass over the question in silence -- you play Lot's wife and look back. Is it a pseudoscientific mirage you see, the microcosm of global warming, or is it a turn of simple curiosity: a flirtation with the forbidden? It doesn't matter, for you are all dead. Dead pillars of salt, your Excellencies in this cabal, where neither natural nor supernatural life will grow. Certainly not any sound ideas about the family.

Earlier the Bear had said our bishops are like laborers who fill the potholes on the road that goes over the bridge, who suddenly take it upon themselves to redesign the piers. These pothole fillers have succumbed to homophilia, and are trying to convince us that more and deeper holes are what we need.


It should not surprise us that polygamy has come up at this synod. A major portion of the debate has apparently been devoted to that inferior Western knock-off of real polygamy, serial polygamy.

The rules of serial polygamy are simple. You can have as many wives as you want, just so you have only one at a time. For some strange reason, this makes perfect sense to our law, culture, and subversive elements within our Church. I'm sure African polygamy has its problems, but the Bear doubts Jobabi has four mommies is one of them.

We know that Jesus was dead set against serial polygamy, i.e. divorce and remarriage.

The Bear is not joking that if he had to choose between horribles, he'd probably go with Mormon sect Big Love style polygamy than a man emotionally brutalizing woman after woman, child after child. (The Bear is sure men are also victimized, but he's keeping some things left to your imagination in the interest of a reasonable length.)

Only a cruel and selfish society based on the individual could come up with serial polygamy, er, the Bear means divorce. The ex doesn't matter, kid's don't matter. Only the great and compass-less wanderer in the vast consumer wasteland, Self, matters. 

Oddly, we've heard a lot about what adults want, which apparently center on organs below the navel, but not much on what kids want. So the Bear will tell you. Kids want their imperfect families, barring some Monty Pythonesque life like this:
Well we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the shoebox at twelve o'clock at night, and LICK the road clean with our tongues. We had half a handful of freezing cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at the mill for fourpence every six years, and when we got home, our Dad would slice us in two with a bread knife.
They want mom and dad to deal with their insecurities, ditch the hot intern dad thinks they don't know about, and be brave in an imperfect and necessary situation. The Bear has seen kids in horrible straits. Most of them want to use those crayons and draw a picture of their family, with the house in the background and a shining sun overhead. Protecting that innocence should be the reason for this synod. (Avoiding evil seems to be the best we can hope for now, and would be a major victory.)

The Bear asks the Court to take judicial notice that divorce is wrong, and that the Church has always said so. Any action that changes that stand in the slightest way is (a) bad on every level imaginable; and (b) won't solve any problem -- except Germany's kirchensteuer.

The German Church Tax

It is dreary to have to explain this. German Catholics pay a "church tax." It amounts to 30 pieces of silver each year for each German signed up to pay the tax. The problem is, Germany is hemorrhaging pew sitters, and hundreds of thousands of Catholics are leaving the tax rolls each year. It is believed by some that if adulterers were able to take communion, they'd feel all warm and fuzzy and pay their tax.

Actually, the Bear doesn't know if it's 30 pieces of silver, although considering some of the sacrilegious proposals that have been floated, it seems appropriate. What the Bear does know is that it does amount to billions of dollars per year, though. So the Germans have a simple cash problem.

So behind all the talk of "mercy," is a very expensive Mercedes-Benz convertible with Cardinal Reinhard Marx of St. Corbinian's old see at the wheel, and Cardinal Karl Kasper in the passenger seat holding the roadmap upside down, with bags of loot filling the back seat, scattering euros in their wake. And Pope Francis has the gas pump in his hand, waving good luck.

Pope Benedict and Divorced and Remarried (i.e. adulterous) Catholics

Here is Pope Benedict's sensible approach. Too bad he wasn't invited as a speaker.
Yet do we not feel a slight uneasiness at times in the face of an entire congregation coming to communion? Paul urgently insisted that the Corinthians should “discern” the Lord’s body (1 Cor 11:29): Is this still happening? Occasionally one has the feeling that “communion” is regarded as part of the ritual—that it goes on automatically and is simply an expression of the community’s identity. We need to regain a much stronger awareness that the Eucharist does not lose all its meaning where people do not communicate. By going to Communion without “discernment”, we fail to reach the heights of what is taking place in Communion; we reduce the Lord’s gift to the level of everyday ordinariness and manipulation. The Eucharist is not a ritual meal; it is the shared prayer of the Church, in which the Lord prays together with us and gives us himself. Therefore it remains something great and precious, it remains a true gift, even when we cannot communicate. If we understood this better and hence had a more correct view of the Eucharist itself, many pastoral problems—the position of the divorced and remarried in the Church, for instance—would cease to be such a burden. 
B16 nails it. The whole manufactured controversy resolved. We don't need some new and special accommodation for divorced Catholics. We need to view the Eucharist in the right way. It's not your reward cookie for getting out of bed when you could have slept in.

It's not the end of the world that a Catholic who has knowingly and deliberately made the choice to leave one marriage and enter into another cannot receive Communion. Some things are worth making a stand for. Divorced and remarried Catholics made a choice. The mercy is that the Church can teach them a role. Granted, it may not be the role of lining up and receiving the Body and Blood of Our Lord, but it is not nothing.


Which brings us to the most important topic of the synod, catechesis.

Unfortunately, like the synod itself, the Bear finds himself out of time. This will have to be addressed another day. What a pity.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chicken Divorce

All of our hens went missing, having abandoned the lovely chicken coop we made them. The rooster remained. After much of the day spent worrying about our precious chickens, our son discovered them behind the barn. They had established a hen colony apart from the rooster, Hermes.

Hermes is just mean to both fowl and humans. At least to the Shepherdess, whom he spurs mercilessly at every opportunity. She usually takes a large bucket with which to "bucket" him, i.e. put the bucket over him, where it remains until he works himself out from under it.

Napoleon is being weaned, and the whole neighborhood knows it. They're frisky in the chill. We have to do something about way too many male goats! Zoar is cursed with an inability to produce does! Zoar is just petting zoo of randy male goats. Nobody wants that.

We had representatives of all species at the Blessing of the Animals Sunday afternoon.

The attack of the giant goat!


The Bear apologizes for the recent scandals that have rocked St. Corbinian's Bear blog. He asks your forgiveness.

First there was that thing.

Then who can forget that other thing?

And those are just two of the things. There may be many others. Or not.

And maybe what you believe the Bear is apologizing for is actually the opposite of what you think. Or maybe the Bear is really apologizing in order to shame other people or make a point.

The Bear apologizes for not actually telling you what he is asking forgiveness for. It does make the whole unpleasant process easier on the Bear. However, it is also an excellent way to generate confusion. It's always healthy to have everyone speculating on what the Bear means, especially when scandal is involved.

Or maybe not, in which case the Bear offers his apologies.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Duties and Promises of the Benedictine Oblate


  • Pray daily the Liturgy of the Hours. Morning and evening prayer are included in the Liturgy of the Hours for Benedictine Oblates, available for sale from the Oblate Office.
  • Read from the Rule of St. Benedict each day.
  • Practice lectio divina each day. This meditative reading from the Scripture or other religious writings expands the oblate's love, knowledge and appreciation of the spiritual way of life.
  • Participate frequently in the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. (Oblates who are not Roman Catholic should be faithful to their denominational beliefs of church and prayer.)
  • Be attentive to God's presence in ordinary, daily life.


  • Stability of Heart - This promise expresses the oblate's commitment to a particular monastic community. Stability of heart reaffirms the basic promise of conversion made at baptism.
  • Fidelity to the Spirit of Monastic Life - This promise expresses a commitment to live a life of spirituality, piety and balance.
  • Obedience to the Will of God - This is a promise to grow in discernment of God's will through prayer, spiritual direction and faithfulness to one's religious traditions. Obedience is not a series of acts grudgingly done, but the response of a willing heart in service to God.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

How's Your Sex Life?

NOTE: Remember how the synod started last year?

If only Pope Francis weren't running a Secret Synod, the Bear is certain we could be laughing as much as we are crying.

Any synod that has an elderly couple bragging about their 57-year sex life has to be rich. The Bear can see it now. Cut to a tight shot of the man's face (which wears a satisfied expression), as he says, "Ask your doctor if Cialis is right for you."

Alas, there is little humor in this sorry synod, and the Bear's pot of poison in which to dip his pen is running low.

Here is a quote from G.K. Chesterton, though.

Christianity is always out of fashion because it is always sane; and all fashions are mild insanities. ...The Church always seems to be behind the times, when it is really beyond the times; it is waiting till the last fad shall have seen its last summer. It keeps the key of a permanent virtue.

And the contrary sums up the synod. The Church is chasing after the world, not instructing it, not inspiring it, not encouraging it to be a better place. The "key of permanent virtue" turns out to be not so permanent after all. In a very real sense, the problems the synod is addressing are the fruits of the sharp rebellion against Humanae Vitae, which rebellion grew from the same rotten soil as Vatican II.

Sex is recreation. That is the motto and epitaph of the West, the Church not excluded. As the Aussie couple with the 57-year sex life -- 55 of it married -- boasted, "marriage is a sexual sacrament with its fullest expression in sexual intercourse." (Kids, don't worry: mom and dad will never embarrass you by publicly discussing their elder-sex, no matter how smokin'.)

Sex is recreation. And across the West the greatest demographic disaster in history -- greater than the Black Death -- is snuffing out an entire civilization. The priest who bemoans the lack of vocations is the same priest who "pastorally" encourages young couples to let their conscience be their guide when it comes to contraception. We have entire generations of priests who cannot grasp the simple math that it takes a bit over two children, on average, just to maintain a population. You want vocations? Lead us back to big, Catholic families. Because mom and dad (did the Bear mention they have a great sex life?) are unlikely to encourage their precious only child to become a priest.

Sex is recreation, and the only sacrament the world is willing to recognize. Real Presence? Medieval superstition! Sex? Now we're talking!

If the Church fathers were right to find features of the Christian era in the Old Testament, some pungent language from Ezekiel and Jeremiah comes to mind. Israel's unfaithfulness is described as prostitution. Now there's some sexual recreation! "But trusting in thy beauty, thou playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and thou hast prostituted thyself to every passenger, to be his." (Eze 16:15).

Pray that the Church does not play the harlot in this synod. Pray that she listens to the voice of her Bridegroom: "And it hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery." (Mt 5:31–32).

At the end of the sexy septuagenarian's talk (which also included an endorsement of homosexuality) the clerics clapped. Ironically, the frisky Aussies discerned the real issue behind the bishops' hand wringing. As Malcolm Muggeridge observed, "Sex is the mysticism of materialism and the only possible religion in a materialistic society."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Cubs or Cardinals?

The Cardinals have been disappointing. Tonight, so is the St. Louis baseball club. Geographically and historically, the Bear has been a Cardinals fan. Now that fate has pitted these two rivals in post-season play, the Bear may have to go with his species and root for the ursine team in Bear solidarity.

If, that is, he retained the slightest interest in sports. The Bear's not above it all, just suffering from sports ennui since the eighties and Whitey Herzog's heyday.

Is the Church One of the Family's Problems?

"'We've got to accentuate the positive,' synod bishops say."

Eliminate the negative,
and latch on to the affirmative,
Don't mess with Mr. In-Between.

Well, at least some synod fathers are saying the first part of Johnny Mercer's classic upbeat lyrics, according to John Allen, writing for CRUX

The news is welcome.

Bishops don't want to send a negative message that normal family life is some unattainable goal. In fact, they acknowledge that many Catholic families are doing just fine, despite a culture that is not always supportive. This is music to the Bear's ears.

In an amazing demonstration of insight, some bishops want to include the Church as a challenge to families. The Bear can hardly resist adding an LOL after reflecting on that. Yes, the Church is a huge problem for families. The bishops need to get their act together and develop a program to teach virtually uncatechized pew sitters of all ages. Stop scaring the sheep all the time would also be a good step. Here we are waiting for the results of a secret synod where many anti-family ideas have been floated in one way or another.

What stands in the way of the bishops addressing the family in any meaningful sense? They just don't care about the family. They care more for trendy causes and feel-good conferences. They'll devote one-hundred times the resources to global warming than they will to the family. They think in terms of "position papers," not actually doing anything. 

They're not so much anti-family, as they just take the family for granted. Empty seminaries and the percentage of Catholics contracepting are clues that the humble, ordinary family is the earthly foundation of the Church, even as Peter is the supernatural foundation. And that earthly foundation is crumbling before their eyes, but what are the shepherds doing?

Yes, the synod should add the Church to the family's problems.

One thing they could do would be to immediately call off the synod on the family and burn every document produced or presented. Wouldn't that be a relief?

The Bear hopes the synod fathers remember the rest of Johnny Mercer's song:

You've got to spread joy to the maximum,
Bring gloom down to the minimum,
Have faith or pandemonium's
Liable to walk upon the scene.

The last place the Church should be is Pandemonium. That, of course, is the capital of Hell in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Pandemonium literally means "all-demons." We haven't seen all of 'em, but we've seen enough. The Bear says issue a statement that "The family is an excellent thing," and go home.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Your Choice: Museum, Do-It-Yourself, or The Church

"If you are trying to be Catholic by defining your religious identity according to the correctness of your beliefs and the way you worship, instead of simply belonging to the plain ol' Roman Catholic Church, then you may have a difficult reevaluation before you. "

Three Models of the Church

Practically speaking, there are three models of the Church.

There are the Orthodox, who scrupulously practice right belief. That's what "orthodox" means. The Catholic Church has little argument with them about what they believe, but still considers them in schism. Heck, Catholics can even receive communion from an Orthodox priest (although the Bear wouldn't advise trying it). The Orthodox have plenty of objections to Catholic doctrines, because they continued to develop after the Great Schism in the 11th century. The Orthodox pretty much think the Catholic Church is a disaster. Of course, they reject the Pope. Not just Pope Francis, but any pope in principle, at least as far as any non-symbolic role goes.

Toss in the Pharisees and add "right practice" to "right belief" as an illustration.

Then there are Protestants, who are heirs to the Reformation started by Martin Luther in The 16th century. Of course, they reject the Pope, and also the Roman Catholic Church. They don't have real sacraments or priests like the Orthodox do. Their Church is the "invisible Church of believers," they like to pretend their Bible is the sole source of doctrine, and the final authority is what Martin Luther called "The great Pope, Self." They have split into approximately 40,000 sects by some estimates, as would be expected of such an individualistic religion.

Toss in pagans, new-agers, and anyone of the DIY religious persuasion by way of illustration.

Then there is the Roman Catholic Church, to which the Bear sincerely hopes you safely belong. It has dogmas and other teachings that must believed, but unlike Orthodoxy, that is not what defines it. As we all know, Jesus did something very interesting, even bold, that is recorded in Matthew 16:18. "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."

How Jesus Founded the Roman Catholic Church

First of all, against the Protestants, He founded a Church. And against the Orthodox, he founded it on a leader, a pope. At least that is how the Roman Catholic Church has understood this passage from the beginning.

Jesus is God, and He had complete knowledge of the future when he built His house on the rock: weak, impulsive, changeable Simon, whose name he changed to Peter, "Rock." Perhaps Our Lord was being ironic, or perhaps He was giving Simon a name to live up to. He knew one of those Peters would be John XXIII, and foresaw Vatican II. Our own Year of Our Lord 2015 was not beyond Him, and He knew every breath Pope Francis takes and every thought in his head. We don't know what God thinks of Pope Francis, at least the Bear doesn't. We do know Jesus didn't provide a "Francis Exception" in Matthew.

Did Jesus Mess Up Founding His Church?

We may not think that Jesus did a very good job founding his Church. One might even say that obviously Jesus made a huge mistake giving the vast responsibilities of the keys to mere mortals. Clearly, Jesus should have done what the Father did back in Moses' day: give a list of rules and right beliefs to follow and adhere to! Details of worship! With all due respect, let's face it: the Gospel is a bit light on the details.

The "man-rock on the rock" plan was a disaster from the beginning and has made a wreck of the Church in our day.

Peter proved unworthy his whole career. One minute lopping the ear off a slave, the next so scared of a girl he's cursing like a fisherman. Then he's afraid of the Jews and gives the cold shoulder to Gentile Christians. Paul has to set him straight. In fact, Paul winds up doing all the heavy lifting. While Paul practically writes the New Testament, producing long, carefully reasoned theological monographs, Peter -- the first Pope -- writes two short letters. Peter was an underachiever.

And who knew but that someone even worse might be chosen as pope in the future? The Orthodox seem to get along fine without a pope. They tenaciously cling to the ancient faith without too many distractions.

And Protestants, with their own "great Pope, Self" enlightened by the Holy Spirit (they believe), at least have the liberty to make up their own minds when Pastor obviously goes off the rails.

Clinging to right belief, or relying on one's own enlightened personal judgment. Either one is far better than the ridiculous idea of old men choosing other old men according to the politics of the day, don't you think?

If You Want to Be on the Rock, Look for the Fisherman

If we want to be on the rock, we must find where Peter is standing.

Whenever you see some apocalypic comment that the house built on the rock is falling down and we must look elsewhere, you should know immediately that nothing could be further from the truth. We have Jesus' guarantee that the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. The same Church that taught all the doctrines approved of by people who make such comments also taught that it was indefectible. That means it cannot depart from sound teaching or morals, no matter what we fear might happen, or seems to be happening.

If correct doctrine is how a person defines his religion, then the Orthodox have proved you don't need a pope to hold onto the past. Those people who define their religion by correct doctrine of the past would be infinitely happier in the Orthodox Church. In practice, however, the Bear can state from experience that it feels a bit like a museum.

If the visible Roman Catholic Church just isn't to your taste, and you want to reserve the personal freedom to pass judgment on everything that is said, done, taught or decreed, then Protestantism would seem to be the best choice.

But if you trust Jesus' plan for building his Church, and believed the Church when it taught that it is indefectible, you define your religious identity not by correct doctrine (Orthodox) and not by personal opinions (Protestants), but by belonging to the plain ol' Roman Catholic Church. Period. And then you take it from there. Within the Church.

If you are trying to be Catholic by defining your religious identity according to the correctness of your beliefs and the way you worship, instead of simply belonging to the plain ol' Roman Catholic Church, then you may have a difficult reevaluation before you.

Be Catholic. Listen to the Church. If you don't understand something, or something seems wrong, put it on hold. Then try to do your best with everything else until it's clarified in some fashion. That doesn't sound like the best option to you? There is one option we know is wrong. Leaving the Roman Catholic Church in any way, shape or form. The Bear would include in "leaving" developing a "schismatic mind-set:" recognizing any other body as the chief spiritual authority of God's Church on matters of doctrine and liturgy.

Above all, recognize that obedience and humility are precious virtues. Pride has a habit of lurking in the best of intentions. This isn't a contest over who's "more correct," or preserves the "pure Church" of some particular period in the past. It's not about winning an argument. Even if you conclude something is bad, it is still your choice to "bad-stay," and not "bad-leave."

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Communion in the Hand

From a recent reading from the Holy Rule of St. Benedict:
The fourth step of humility is that in this obedience under difficult, unfavorable or even unjust conditions, his heart quietly embraces suffering and endures it without weakening or seeking escape.
Before was this:
The third step of humility is that a man submits to his superior in all obedience for the love of God, imitating the Lord of Whom the apostle says: He became obedient even to death. (Philemon 2:8)
It is easy to obey when we agree. When the Church is just the way we like it. When we have a Pope we like. But St. Benedict talks about obeying under hard, or even unjust, conditions. Those times when we know we're right, but a higher authority demands something else of us.

Nonetheless, obedience may make us uncomfortable, because, seriously, we're right!

The Bear has been a "line jumper." If the priest is not in front of your line, you jump over to the other line to avoid receiving communion from a "eucharistic minister." The Bear doesn't much care for that tribe.

Nothing is less subtle than a Bear jumping from the right line to the left the moment a sufficiently large gap appears.

Some time ago, the Bear decided to take communion from whoever, dressed however, in his line. For awhile he was the only person taking communion on the tongue. He discovered that some EMs were less than expert with this strange practice, and he feared Our Precious Lord might be dropped. So he started taking communion securely in his hand like everyone else. Like it or not, this is the common usage in the Bear's parish.

How much of the Bear's previous antics were out of reverence to Christ's Precious Body and Blood, and how much were out of a psychological need or willful desire to "be right" in his own eyes? Only God knows the mix. What the Bear was doing was causing a minor disturbance every time he took communion, and was approaching his Lord with the attitude, "I'm right." There was probably a bit of unspoken, "and they're not."

The safer course is to exercise humility and obedience. Right or wrong, this is the way it is. The Bear will not argue the point, but it is self-evident to him that there is nothing inherently sacrilegious about taking communion in the hand from an EM.

Even if it is not the Bear's preference.

Ah, that is hard. It is always hard to put our own psychological needs, informed personal preferences and plain old prejudices in the background.

"But communion in the hand is an abuse!" some will object. That ship has sailed. The idea was that it would be an exception, but it became the norm. Abuse or not, it is the way things are done in much of the plain ol' Roman Catholic Church. The Bear hopes the humility and obedience he exercises will be more rewarding than being the Bear who is "correct."

It makes him more peaceful, at least.

And if someone should read this and wish to cite the history of the practice, and rail against the abuse, the Bear would say, with all due respect, that everyone must weigh the very substantial virtues of humility and obedience versus "being correct" all the time. You would not be educating the Bear. He knows the history.

The whole point is that, knowing that this is not what was originally intended, can you do as the Church actually does in a spirit of humility and obedience? Or is your attitude during communion going to be "I am right," if not also, "and they are wrong?" Risky, the Bear thinks.

The Bear does not urge one method or another. He doesn't care about that. Communion in the hand is more of an illustration, really. His own experiences are what came to mind when he read Father Benedict's Rule today. How do you know if you're exercising the virtue of obedience? When you don't like the rule, or the Abbot is unreasonable, or the prior is treating you unjustly. When it's hard and you have to grit your teeth and put your own will away.

Especially when you're right.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Eighth Step of Humility -- Don't Pray Your Way?

"Why can't I have things my way?"

The eighth step of humility is that a monk does only what is endorsed by the common rule of the monastery and by the example set by his superiors.
The Rule of St. Benedict.

As Benedictine oblates, are are obligated to read from the rule every day, and think about how to apply it to our "life outside the walls."

It was more than likely that the other, or additional, devotions monks would practice were good ones, of course. So why would St. Benedict ban them? And what does that have to do with humility?

There is a story about an oblate director who had an oblate who insisted on praying the rosary instead of the Liturgy of the Hours (or Divine Office). He did not question the merit of the rosary, but gently pointed out that the modest rule for oblates required morning and evening prayer (Lauds and Vespers). Besides, one of the promises an oblate takes is "obedience." As an oblate, not a monk, she was welcome to say the rosary, too, but really needed to pray the Hours. After all, that was what St. Benedict called the opus dei -- the Work of God.

The director know what a wonderful and unique prayer the rosary is. The oblate nonetheless told him all about it, as if he did not. She was missing the point. In the end, the director left her to her own devices, and we may hope that the benefits she derived from her refusal to say the Divine Office outweighed the habit of pride and disobedience she had established.

The Bear wonders if there is not a benefit to putting our heads down (like St. Corbinian's Bear when he is wearing the pack saddle) and doing what the Church would have us do. The typical liturgy may not be as technically "correct," or symbolically rich, or beautiful. Yet, is there a risk -- being sinful humans -- of feeding the twin devils of Pride and Disobedience if we insist on having it according to some fashion other than the plain ol' Mass? Can we be 100% sure that it is not because "this is what I like" to some degree? Can we honestly hear the SSPX decry it as "an outrage to God," and tell us to stay home and say a rosary instead without the slightest twinge of wonder about that sort of mind-set?

The liturgy in the Bear's parish is simple and reverent. It was quite a shock, though, coming from the Orthodox Church. We got used to the piano behind the altar and the choir up front. It took some time, and isn't how the Bear would do things. But, except for the old folks loudly babbling before Mass (which is ultimately the Bear's problem) it works fine. The element of the "meal" is better presented, too, while still retaining the sacrifice, although not as clearly as in older liturgies. There has never been a clown mass, and the Bear doubts there ever will be, in his parish and the vast majority of parishes in this country.

As the Bear said, it is not how he would do things. But, for better or worse, nothing is. His parish Mass is where he receives Our Lord. If the trappings do not suit him, perhaps he will gain greater merits by exercising humility and obedience by doing what is endorsed by the common rule of his [Church] and the example set by his superiors.

Our Lady of the Rosary and The Battle of Lepanto

The Church has been in dangerous times before. One of the worst was one of the recurring invasions by Muslims intent on overrunning Christendom. In 1571 the West was fractured by the Protestant revolt, and even Catholic monarchs were distracted. The news was bad. On August 1, the Venetian garrison of Cyprus had finally surrendered after a long siege. Despite assurances of safety by the Muslim attackers, the Catholic commander was flayed alive and his lieutenants beheaded.

Faced with this threat by imperialistic Islam, Pope Pius V helped cobble together The Holy League. It would be led by Don John of Austria. Don John was the illegitimate son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and had been put in charge of the Spanish Mediterranean fleet at the age of 21. By the battle of Lepanto, he was an experienced military leader. This would help overcome the Christian fleet's inferiority in numbers.

Pope Pius V asked all Catholics to pray the rosary for victory, which is why the name of today's feast became Our Lady of the Rosary, and used to be called Our Lady of Victory. But that was not the only spiritual weapon available to the Catholics. A reproduction of the miraculous image from the New World -- Our Lady of Guadalupe -- was used as the standard on Andrea Doria's flagship.

In a world without instant communication, the Pope was miraculously given knowledge of the Catholic victory against the Muslim invaders.

Don John's message to his troops was "Paradise is not for cowards."

Today the Bear's message is: "Nail your foot to the deck in front of your favorite rowing bench and row well!"

Chesterton wrote a wonderful poem about the battle -- and the European politics at the time -- called "Lepanto," which should be easy to find online.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

In Cauda Venenum: the Pope's Homily

The old Latin phrase "in cauda venenum" came to mind when the Bear read the Pope's homily at the synod.

In his storied career as a trial lawyer, the Bear learned that he was the best lawyer in the world as a prosecutor. He had to adjust his expectations as a defense lawyer. He knew that nearly all defense pre-trial motions would be denied by the court. The Bear noticed something else. The judge would always praise his argument at first, and only at the end pivot and give his reasons for denying the motion.

This happened every time.

The Bear supposes that was a way of appearing to be fair, and making a record should it be appealed.

But in the end, it was always "in cauda venenum."

The Pope's statement started out being a powerful defense of marriage. Of course the Pope must have an assistant whose only job it is to make sure the words "migrants," "war," "consumerism" and "social and environmental pollution," and so forth get stuck in, however awkwardly. Still, the overall emphasis was clearly on traditional marriage.

"To carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions," said Pope Francis. It was so good, the Bear felt sick.

Because then comes the sudden pivot.
To carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgment of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation.
"The sabbath is made for man, not man made for the sabbath," Pope Francis said. (Jesus broke the sabbath rules by eating handfuls of grain as the walked; what rules-breaking does Pope Francis contemplate?) Now he's quoting Our Lord about "the sick" and "sinners." "The Church must be a good Samaritan to a wounded humanity," the Holy Father said. (And so the Church is, already!) He quotes St. Pope John Paul II that, “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time” The Church must not close its doors; must be a bridge, not a roadblock.

"The man of our time."  Whatever encounter with "the man of our time" St. Pope John Paul II contemplated, it was not turning over St. Peter's keys to him and allowing him to change the doctrines of the Church to suit himself!

"In cauda venenum." 

The venom is in the tail. 

The end of the speech is what Pope Francis wanted to say. It does not bode well this October day. The only question is how far will he go?

The Reinhard Horror Picture Show -- Agitprop

The Transylvanians assemble in the gay lobby (just off the offices of the CDF) and watch with rapt attention as events unfold as an attractive fraulein serves Reinhard Marx's favorite Bavarian brew.

Don't dream it, be it.

That is, a loyal member of the Plain Ol' Roman Catholic Church. Who knows what abominations our generation may have to endure? We have faith that there will be a course correction for the Barque of Peter. Maybe not the next pope, or the one after, or any pope in our lifetimes.

The Adversary is at the peak of his power, feels the Bear. October is not as invigorating, the leaves are weak in their color, as if the very life is being sucked out of our world. We should be afraid, and cling to our pitiful weapons: the Mass, the Rosary, scripture, prayer, good works. They only seem pitiful. They're actually powerful.

Far more powerful than our anger. Our anger towards the Church pleases the Devil, because we are not peaceful, but prideful; not like little children, but disobedient, or on the verge of it. The Church remains the Church. If you're all in, you believe this.

Above all, we should pray for God to intervene. Don't tell Him what to do, just pray for Him to rescue us and set things right! The Jews were captured, and taken to Babylon, leaving behind a destroyed temple and a ruined Jerusalem. Seventy years later the most unlikely thing happened. Cyrus conquered Babylon and ordered the release of the Jews. What's more, Cyrus commanded that all the treasures of the temple seized by Nebuchadnezzar be returned to Jerusalem! Cyrus made funds available to assist with rebuilding the temple. Later the Jews received permission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, too. (A big deal in the days when a walled city had the ability to resist its overlord.)

Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered;
let those who hate him flee before him!
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;
as wax melts before fire,
let the wicked perish before God!

Amen! Psalm 68. That is a very powerful prayer, worth memorizing. The Bear loves to memorize scripture. He usually forgets it, but retains enough of a memory to be able to find favorite passages.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bearonet of Beesworth, Sir Bear on Synod


The Bear spent a long time with Pablo Fanques' circus in England (and yes, he knows the Hendersons), and was a show bear long before that, often appearing in a top hat and monocle. He would say things like what's below, the English being much broader minded than others about talking bears, viz. Pooh and Paddington. So "the Bearonet of Beesworth, Sir Bear" says:

What if the Synod recognizes gay unions?

"That seems a bit rum, wot? What's going on in my Roman Catholic Church, anyway? We're not going to have to participate in any damned sodomy, like when we're all expected to clap for someone at Mass? Rather beneath my dignity. The church isn't a music hall. I say, those homos had better steer clear!"

As to divorce and remarriage:

"Well, none of that applies to me and the missus. The Bear knows what Jesus said, and he's all for sola scriptura, you know. Nevertheless, he supposes the Church has the power to decide who can receive communion, what with those great bloody keys and all, binding in Heaven and Earth. Still, it all seems a bit shady, doesn't it? Thank God it's all academic to me."

As to the Synod:

"Seems a bit like cheating at cards. The Bear hates to say it, but some of those chaps aren't gentlemen. Especially the huns. Always up to some nasty business. Churchill said 'the hun is always at your throat or at your feet.' Don't know a soul that trusts in an honest synod. And, hope this isn't a sin, but the Holy Father is a bit on the slippery side, don't you think? He's a Jesuit, and an argie. Who thought that combination would make a good pope?"

Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa's Coming Out Party

"Well, that's a bloody disappointment! The Bear thought those Polacks were straight arrows.   Winged Hussars, Battle of Vienna and what not. Not to mention that fellow who made a capital Pope! Well, I guess there's your Gay Lobby, Pope Francis, under your nose right in the CDF! Was he wearing a name tag? Haw-Haw!"

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