Image courtesy of An Internet Globetrotter.
The northern California fires continue unabated. The skies are still heavy with smoke. Every day we have air quality alerts. Some of our friends have left the valley and won’t be returning until the smoke clears; those of us with farm animals are simply stuck. There are hundreds of fires burning in the Coast Range to the west, and in the Sierras to the east, most started from dry lightning. There is more dry lightning predicted this weekend.
The SSPX has refused yet another offer of regularization, this time with terms that could not possibly be more lenient. Rome asked for no doctrinal concessions, no liturgical compromises, no subjection to hostile bishops – only the Christian respect that is owed by every Catholic to the Vicar of Christ. This refusal, combined with the worldwide restoration that has been launched by Summorum Pontificum, likely means permanent marginalization for the SSPX. It is probable that heavier sanctions will be coming against them. At present their bishops are excommunicated, their priests merely suspended, and the laity more or less free to attend SSPX masses as their consciences dictate. But I would be very surprised if Rome did not view this latest refusal as the order’s final, definitive act of schism which must be finally, comprehensively and definitively condemned – for the good of souls. If I had to guess, I would predict the following: just as Ecclesia Dei Afflicta announced both the excommunications and the indult, so as to provide for those priests who left the SSPX in fidelity to Rome, the next round of discipline may contain both a stick and a carrot, further strengthening the position of the the orthodox/traditionalist movement within the Church.
“This recession, it’s just beginning”. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Possibly much worse.
A surprising victory in pro-life South Dakota: Court overturns abortion law injunction.
“A federal appeals court ruled that South Dakota can begin enforcing a law requiring doctors to tell women seeking abortions that the procedure ends a human life … The 2005 law would make doctors tell women ‘that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.’ Women also would have to be told they have a right to continue a pregnancy and that abortion may cause women psychological harm, including thoughts of suicide.”
My industrious wife has made her first batch of soap from our surplus goat milk. I washed my hands with it the other day. It works very well, feels great, and is completely odorless. They say it is much better for your skin than commercial soaps. Hmmm, maybe a business idea there? If we manufactured St. Isidore’s All Natural Semi-Organic California Goat Milk Soap, would you buy it?
You have, Dear Reader, perhaps had stuck between your teeth something vegetable; a poppy seed, spinach, whatnot.
Likewise indecent exposure. To rectify one’s unintended display, be it buffet or bosom, it is always better to know.
So when a lady has fallen the rest of the way out of her summer top, it is not proper for the gentleman to assume she meant to, whatever the prevailing fashion of the place.
Though he be divided between his own discomfort at raising the topic and the plight, unsightly or otherwise, of the hapless lass, the truly decent gentleman willingly undertakes in all things to subordinate his own comfort in service to the other.
He may not shirk, lest, imagine the tumult, the exposed lady next meet her clergyman or her grandfather.
Neither may he snicker or leer. Leering is to be saved for his wife and snickering for later.
So the gentleman will proceed, delicately, thus:
“Forgive my noticing, Miss, but to save you a felony charge it is my profound discomfiture to inform you that you appear to have misplaced your areola. Not, mind you, that it is lost. Rather, Miss, you see it is very much in evidence. I thought it best you should know. Good day.”.
His duty done, he may retire for cocktails.
Non-Californians shouldn’t get complacent. The Lavender Army is coming to your state, city and neighborhood.
To those of you out there in flyover country: please don’t let this sneak up on you. Thousands of California refugees may soon be looking for a state that hasn’t turned into a lunatic asylum. We’re counting on you.
“I don’t miss them”, Amy said calmly. That was on Tuesday, and her brothers had been gone for two days. They left for Camp Sacred Heart (see here and here) the previous Sunday. Amy seemed to be enjoying herself in their absence.
“Are you sure you don’t miss your brothers?” I asked on Wednesday.
“I don’t miss them. Except maybe I miss them helping take care of Annie and doing the chores.” She said it matter-of-factly.
“Are you sure you don’t miss them at all?”
“Yes, I’m sure! And they don’t miss me either!”
Amy is always quiet, but by Thursday she was unusually quiet. That evening I asked her how her day was, and she said “not very good” because there wasn’t much to do. I reminded her of all the things she had been doing, but that didn’t seem to help. So far this week one of our cats had four kittens and another goat had a kid. The best smile I saw on her face was Wednesday afternoon when she carried the new white kid in her arms all the way to my office to tell me the news. She was beaming then, but the smiles didn’t last.
Friday was no different. Amy still insisted she didn’t miss them. Would she be happy to see them? “They’re just going to talk and talk about camp when they get home. Just like last year.”
I picked the boys up on Saturday morning and returned to the ranch around 2:00pm. Melancholy Amy lit up like a candle and the smile still hasn’t left her lips. She listens eagerly to their stories and asks lots of questions. Last night she picked up a rubber band and fired the first shot at Jonathan, who chased her down and fired back. At dinner she teased Christopher playfully and couldn’t take her eyes off of his sunburned face. No, she didn’t miss them at all.
Amanda, my little five-year old chatterbox, couldn’t be more different than Amy. She relished having more of her parents’ attention last week. She often accompanied me on my evening chores and tried her best to be helpful. Fatherhood sure makes a man feel big. She thinks I know everything (except not as much as mommy). Amanda and Christopher often play together, and for the most part Christopher is good big brother to her. They get along well about 75% of the time, but they’re both hard-headed choleric personalities and they can clash fiercely. She told me during the week that she missed her brothers but she didn’t miss fighting with Christopher. This morning, however, Amanda burst into the bedroom to tell me that she had been playing with Christopher and “we didn’t argue at all”!
My boys have changed. Jonathan, who inherited my boyhood social awkwardness, is standing a little taller. He has a spring in his step and a new confidence in his voice. Christopher, too, seems a little more mature and a little less goofy. They both obey a little more promptly. This is Jonathan’s third year, and Christopher’s second. Camp Sacred Heart has been good for them both. The priests, seminarians, and counselors are extremely dedicated and work very hard to be good examples for the boys. Most of the boys come from strong Catholic families and are exemplary role models themselves. Some of these boys see each other only once a year – at camp. Camp Sacred Heart must be the only boys camp of its kind in California: rigorous, adventurous, disciplined, deeply devout, and fully traditional. It’s an incalculable blessing to all of us.
Watch this video and weep for your country. There is no other “America” waiting to take in refugees. God have mercy.
Courtesy of The Common Room.
The end, I think, is very near. It isn’t that Americans today are worse than they have ever been. Most men, in most times and most places, are neither saints nor paragons of virtue. They don’t concern themselves much with ideas or with the business of sustaining a civilization. Their politics are selfish, their interests petty, their opinions conflicted and contradictory and fickle. So what is different about today? Why is our society disintegrating before our eyes? Why is there no one in power who is willing or able to resist? Why, out of 58 counties in California, is there not a single county clerk willing to say “we will not issue licenses for sham marriages!” Why isn’t there a coalition of counties telling the state Supreme Court to go jump in a lake? It is possible that the only way anyone advances a political or government career today – even on the level of cities and counties – is by not having any serious convictions. Convictions, sure, but nothing deep enough or serious enough to lose a job over. Nothing worth jeopardizing a career track. “I don’t like gay marriage, but hey, I didn’t make the rules, so let’s do what we’re told get on with our professional lives.” That’s how deep our “conservatism” is here in the red counties of California. And, left to their own devices, our great-great-grandfathers would probably have behaved in the same way.
So what’s the difference between our generation and that of our forefathers? The difference is that our forefathers were not “left to their own devices”. On balance they were probably just as shallow and conflicted as we are, except for one thing: authority. They deferred, willingly, to an authority beyond themselves and higher than the state. That authority was the Christian religion in one form or another, sometimes distilled through institutions and sometimes through exalted persons. The average man 150 years ago was keenly conscious of his own shortcomings and did not trust himself to answer the Big Questions in life. He relied upon his church, his parents, his community, and his received tradition – and in these he had a set of values in common with other men. Of course, 150 years ago that shared “authority” had already been diluted and compromised by the Protestant Revolt, and so it was well on the way to becoming irrelevant. But old habits die hard, and Western man, despite himself, was still not completely comfortable with making up his own rules without regard for inherited knowledge and revealed truth.
What he had – and what our contemporaries do not have – is humility. It is humility that allows one to receive truth with conviction, in deference to a trusted authority.
That world is completely gone. Today, everyone is a democrat and an individualist. It is forbidden to “appeal to authority” – especially religious authority – in the public square. Everyone is supposed to be an original thinker, and today’s herd of original thinkers has come to the unanimous conclusion that religious authority is illegitimate. You are free to argue for traditional marriage on the basis of natural law, but the original thinkers don’t believe in natural law; neither do they respect any of the great doctors and philosophers who have articulated the natural law; neither do they believe in the Church which sanctions natural law; neither do they believe in the God who established natural law. The original thinkers are a law unto themselves. Their moral frame of reference is a prison of their own feelings and prevailing ideologies, which they don’t recognize but from which they cannot escape.
The only arguments that matter are therefore impossible to make in today’s social climate. And even if they were not, there is no cultural consensus to which we can appeal. A consensus will have to be created anew, and that project will take generations. In the meantime, we are left with a civic polity that has only survived by feeding upon the remnants of a shattered Christendom and is now, finally and dramatically, running out of fuel. Our society’s moral capital is exhausted. All that remains is politics, a contest of wills. Power and money will win this contest: let’s not be deluded.
What of the Christian families of America, presently isolated and scattered to the winds? Should we abandon politics? For my part, I still hope for conversions, for miracles, for surprises. I will continue to vote and work with the system we have. At the same time, though, it is foolish to depend upon miracles that have not been promised. We need to prepare ourselves and our children for some very difficult times. Religious vocations are extremely important at this juncture. The next generation’s priests and monks and nuns will lead the Church through a new Dark Ages. If possible, it would be good to build new Christian communities with sustainable economies, where there would be strength in numbers and some refuge from the approaching chaos. But the most important thing is to get one’s spiritual life in order. Go to confession. Love your neighbors. Make war on your habitual sins. Increase your devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. Increase your devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Do penance, for yourself and for others. The world may seem hopeless, but there is one thing that can turn it all around: a harvest of saints.
… how this story will end. Now that we know how the California Supreme Court “thinks”.
Criminey, where is this flurry of madness coming from? I’m seriously beginning to wonder whether Californians will ever wake up. The long term solutions appear to be limited to: 1) secession of interior CA; 2) emigration; or 3) a miracle.
The first traditional Catholic priest I ever met was Fr. John Rizzo, F.S.S.P., a fiery preacher with boundless energy who would have received us into the Catholic Church had he not been transferred. Apparently he has just arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand, to give the Gregorian Rite (a name worthy of replacing “TLM” for good!) a boost in this land where traditional Catholicism is barely present. He will be celebrating daily Mass at the historic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, said to be the “finest renaissance style building in New Zealand”.
Here’s a recent article:
“Father John Rizzo arrived in New Zealand from Sydney this week. Trained with the traditional Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in America, he will lead the daily Latin masses held in the cathedral chapel starting next week.
Rizzo says the Christchurch diocese is following a worldwide conservative trend in the Catholic Church.
Latin is a living language in the eyes of the Church and with the approval of the Pope, more and more priests are learning the Latin liturgy, he says.
During the Traditional Mass, priests face away from the congregation. Rizzo says this is not to separate priests from the people, but to lead the people towards God.
Catholic layman Pat Barrett says he will consider going to Latin mass once it becomes available daily.
‘It’s something I would take my children to. What Latin mass does is bring back the sense of the sacred which can be harder to find in English mass,’ he says.”