A Response From Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

We interrupt this blogfast for a public service announcement. Quite unexpectedly, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has responded to an earlier post regarding their support for a Chico abortion mill. Here’s the e-mail I received last Tuesday:


Mr. Culbreath,

I wanted to take the time to contact you regarding a recent blog post and your concern with our sponsorship of The Women’s Health Specialists.

Sierra Nevada supports many federally regulated non-profit organizations, and have a long history of charitable giving in our community. We assist hundreds of local and national organizations that make contributions to our community, many times (as in this example) with the donation of beer for an event.

Many organizations we support, The Women’s Health Specialists among them, provide free screening of breast and cervical cancer to women who might otherwise not receive the attention and care they need. Additionally, this organization provides adoption education, menopause services, fertility health services, and health services for men, as well as many other education services.

When choosing organizations to support, we try to focus on the larger picture when making donations to our community. The support we give goes to a myriad of needed services (not just one) that might not be available for our community if we had not supported them.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. concentrates its charitable giving on education, the environment, and the promotion of children’s and family issues. We strive toward responsible corporate citizenship and give back to our community in ways we feel benefit it.

I hope this addresses your concerns, and explains Sierra Nevada’s charitable contribution philosophy.


Sierra J. Grossman
Brand Manager

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
1075 East 20th St
, CA 95928
Tel: (530) 893-3520
Fax: (530) 893-1275


Dear Ms. Grossman,

Thank you for taking the time to respond. Clearly, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company cares about the community of Chico and would like to better the lives of its neighbors. I am especially pleased to learn that your company focuses on “the promotion of children’s and family issues”.

May I suggest that children are not particularly well-served by killing them? May I also suggest that families are not particularly well-served by eliminating their youngest members?

You claim that Sierra Nevada Brewing Company looks at the “big picture” when making donations. In this you seem to be saying that you don’t mind helping an organization kill babies so long as it also screens for breast and cervical cancer and does other good things for people. Clearly this is absurd.

Perhaps the directors of your company really haven’t given the abortion issue much thought. If that is truly the case, then you may want to help educate them on the matter. Here’s a good place to start. Here’s another. And here’s another.

No amount of good that is done by an abortion mill can justify your company’s moral or financial support. Anyone who needs cancer screening or other health services can find plenty of help in Chico. Even if they could not, these services are not worth taking the life of even one innocent unborn child.

I am confident in saying that the pro-life community in northern California and beyond – many of whom are hearty beer drinkers – will simply choose not to consume Sierra Nevada products until such a time as your company retracts its support for Women’s Health Specialists and similar organizations.


Jeff Culbreath
Orland, California


“In the multitude of words there shall not want sin: but he that refraineth his lips is most wise.” – Proverbs 10:19

“But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.” – Matthew 12:36

It’s that time again, dear readers. Thank you for reading and commenting. I have written much on this blog – not all of it edifying, charitable, or reasonable. Too many words. I sincerely ask pardon from those I may have offended. If you are so inclined, your prayers for Mrs. Culbreath and the baby would be most welcome. I do expect to return but, as usual, am making no promises as to when. God bless you all.

A Theological Disaster

The differences between the TLM and Novus Ordo liturgies are not insignificant. As has been said many times, the Latin language is not really the issue. The fundamental problem lies with the spiritual and theological defects inherent in the Novus Ordo Missae – defects which are not removed by praying in Latin, restoring the ad orientem posture, or eliminating the usual liturgical abuses. The new collects, for example, present such a radical shift in theological emphasis that essential Catholic teachings are completely obscured. The disaster is exposed in a 2005 paper titled “The Collects at Sunday Mass: An Examination of the Revisions of Vatican II”:

“The picture painted by the verbs in the 1970 [Advent] collects are quite different. It is not simply that the imperatives are far fewer (three) and weaker (grant and pour out); but that the human subjects, however they are named (variously the faithful, we, your people), are far more active; indeed they are the subject of the five active infinitives. In one collect God is described as seeing their activity (they are faithfully awaiting), and in others he is asked to make their activity fruitful: to grant that they may inherit the kingdom, be made partakers of Christ through training in heavenly wisdom, to attain the joys of salvation, to celebrate these joys with solemn prayers and ready rejoicing. Moreover, the motion verbs of the two sets describe exactly opposite movements: in the 1962 collect Christ comes to meet us; in the 1970 collect we go to meet Christ, arrive, are brought to, and so forth. In the 1970 set, Christ is described as coming only in the collect of the first Sunday.

A second difference is that the 1970 collects name no overwhelming obstacles. In contrast to the 1962 collect in which we ask God to rouse our hearts in order that we may prepare for the coming of the Son, in the 1970 collects we are twice described as already hastening to meet him and once as faithfully awaiting the feast of his birth. The only suggestion in the 1970 collects that there are things that could cause us to stumble is the prayer that God let no works of earthly deed impede us as we hasten, where the works can be understood as either our own or those of others. In other words, the collect does not insist upon the existence of interior impediments.

In fact the 1970 prayers contain no reference to sin or its dangers; to darkness or impurity of mind; to human weakness or need for mercy, forgiveness, protection, deliverance, purification; nor to the fact that any or all of us require a divine jump start to begin preparations for Christ’s coming. Also, the idea that we must undergo a transformation in order to enter heaven is intimated only by the word eruditio, instruction or training, in the collect of the second Sunday.

A third difference is that those who pray the 1970 collects do not seek divine assistance to survive perils or to begin to do good things. Indeed they express no need for such helps. Rather they ask to enter heaven at the last. In contrast, those who pray the 1962 collects do not explicitly seek heaven, but demand (the imperative verbs) immediate and personal daily help on the way.

In these three differences we come to something very delicate. Put simply the Catholic faith holds that every good deed which advances us toward salvation depends upon divine grace. This doctrine is formally defined and is not susceptible to modification that would reverse its import. Every nuance of the 1962 Advent collects expresses this Catholic doctrine of grace unambiguously in the somewhat subtle, non-expository manner proper to orations. While the 1970 collects do not explicitly contradict the Catholic teaching on grace, they neither articulate it nor, more worrisomely, seem to assume it. The delicate bit is how to sum this up fairly for while the 1970 collects may not legitimately be understood or interpreted in a way that is inconsistent with Catholic truth, they are susceptible to being misunderstood by those who are inadequately schooled in Catholic truth.”

The Loretto Chapel’s Miraculous Staircase

Many of you are aware of the famous staircase at the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As the story goes, a group of nuns discovered a serious flaw in their newly constructed chapel: there was no means of access to the choir loft! Various carpenters had been asked to solve the problem, but there wasn’t sufficient room to build a stairway. So the nuns prayed a novena to St. Joseph, and on the last day of the novena, their prayers were answered. A man showed up and built a beautiful circular staircase. He left before the sisters could pay him. They did not even know his name. The staircase, it turns out, has no visible means of support that is readily understood by engineers. The origin of the wood is uncertain: the only thing known for sure is that the wood isn’t native to the region. Only wooden pegs were used: no nails. There are exactly 33 steps – one for each year of Our Lord’s earthly life. The nuns believed that St. Joseph himself showed up and built the staircase.

Now the miraculous staircase has some interesting detractors. As to the identity of the carpenter, there is an interesting theory here:

“But wait a minute, says historian Mary J. Straw Cook in the newly revised edition of her 1984 book, ‘Loretto: The Sisters and Their Santa Fe Chapel.’ The carpenter, she says, was Francois-Jean Rochas, a member of ‘les compagnon,’ a French guild of celibate and secretive craftsmen. And he was far from saintly. Reclusive and irascible, he ended up dead in his Dog Canyon cabin, a victim of either suicide or assassination. Cook reached her conclusion after seven years of research and seven trips to France, combing through archives, chancing upon relatives and piecing together scattered bits of history. ‘You try to document everything,’ she said. ‘I have proved this to most historians. They’re convinced this was, in fact, the man.’

Her evidence includes an 1895 article in The New Mexican, in which the chapel’s contractor, Quintus Monier, names Rochas as the staircase’s builder. And a 1881 entry in the sisters’ daybook indicates that a Mr. Rochas was paid $150 ‘for wood.’ Cook has found a freight slip for wood delivered by ship from France and speculates that Rochas brought it over himself. Upon his mysterious death in southern New Mexico, Rochas left three unmailed letters that mention Lamy, later the title character in Willa Cather’s book, ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop,’ and another craftsman who worked on the chapel. The book containing Cook’s evidence was released last month to glowing reviews in various newspapers. The word was out. The legend was solved!”

Solved? Maybe her book is more persuasive, but this article certainly isn’t. If Rochas was in fact employed by the nuns at one time, for who-knows-what kind of work, and if he did – as seems probable – claim to have built the staircase himself, this still does not solve the mystery. What are the chances that a virtually unknown 19th century hermit from Dog Canyon chose to use such extraordinary talent for an obscure chapel in the New Mexico desert? Did he construct other similar marvels anywhere else in New Mexico? In France? Has anyone else been able to reproduce this design, or come close to it? And how does this square with the theories of other skeptics, who propose that the staircase was built in France, shipped to the United States, and merely installed by Rochas? It is not uncommon for men – especially those who are “far from saintly”, as Rochas is described – to take credit for things they didn’t do.

But let us suppose that it was indeed Rochas who built the staircase. That really doesn’t take much of the mystery out of it. So he wasn’t exactly Saint Joseph himself – but one is certainly left wondering what sort of a man he really was, what kind of a hidden life he may have lived, and how he may have been used by Divine Providence.

The real mysteries have to do with the construction of the staircase. This site tries to debunk those mysteries, but does a very poor job of it. “No support? Just look at this iron bracket!”

Right. That ought to do it. In any case, if the staircase is nothing special, the skeptics ought to be able to reproduce it somewhere. Or point to where something similar has been built. I have a feeling it’ll be awhile before that happens.

The Great Chasm

The vast chasm between the modern world and the Catholic Faith is striking. There are three things which underpin Catholic culture but which the modern world finds intolerable:

1. Religious authority. Modern man likes to imagine himself a totally independent and autonomous being. What he calls his “conscience” is absolutely supreme, and if he is “spiritual”, he recognizes no religious authority higher than himself. “I’m spiritual, not religious”. “I don’t believe in organized religion.” Although he may go to church, he does so because he happens to agree with his church, not because his church has authority to teach him anything. And when he ceases to agree with his church, he simply takes up with another. (He treats marriage in much the same way.) Catholicism’s reliance upon the teaching authority instituted by Christ is therefore repugnant to him.

2. Absolute truth. The modern world is essentially relativist. It does not accept the idea of a thing being objectively true to the exclusion of other “truths” – especially when it comes to moral or spiritual things. It does not understand that an act can be morally good or evil in itself, without regard to circumstances. The Church’s absolute ban on contraception, for example, is hard for moderns to take. The same goes for divorce. What about this situation? And that? And the other one? Shouldn’t contraception then be justified? Isn’t divorce the lesser of evils?

I know of a young couple who have two children, each born with a fatal genetic disorder. If they have another child, it is likely that the next one will also have this same disease. What are they to do? They cannot divorce and find a better genetic match for themselves. They cannot practice contraception. The answer is nothing short of heroic virtue, a taking up of the Cross. They are called to stay married, no matter the hardships. They might be called to have more children with the same kinds of problems. Alternatively, they may be called – and this is what is really intolerable to moderns – to a lifetime of marital celibacy, or at least sexual restraint. There is no soft and comfortable answer. It is all the Cross … or so it seems to a world blind to the joys of obedience, ignorant of the freedom that comes only with living the Truth.

3. Miracles and supernaturalism. I’m not a Spirit Daily kind of Catholic, but there can be no doubt that the Catholic faith is both rational and mystical. The world sees a contradiction here. How can a religion which is so intractable in its insistence on earthly authority, and so relentlessly consistent in its theological and moral teaching, be the same religion that embraces miracles and signs and wonders which seem so … wild and personal and individualistic? Isn’t it afraid of the supernatural undermining the natural? Ah, but it is all of a piece! This dichotomy of the natural and the supernatural is rooted in a proper distinction, but the modern world takes it too far, compartmentalizing each, so that one may have nothing to do with the other. Yet the fact is that each depends upon the other. There would be no “nature” without the supernatural events that brought it into existence and keep it going. And there would be no miracles apart from the backdrop of nature.

Rather than being a threat to Catholic dogma, authentic mysticism is instead a threat to modern ideas of individualism and autonomy. If such things are real, then God might be real too – and much too close for comfort. As a Protestant, it was once explained to me that Protestants shy away from the Blessed Virgin Mary because she makes God too intimate. I had to admit this was true. If God could be as close to any human as He was (and is) to the Blessed Mother, then I had some explaining to do. Funny how Protestant immanentism results in a too-distant God, whereas Catholic transcendence results in the highest degree of personal intimacy with the divine. To the Protestant, God is certainly real and “close”, but He is thought of in strictly spiritual terms. He doesn’t reach out into our dirty, earthy, material world through miracles and merely human oracles.

Moderns, whose skepticism is rooted in the dichotomies of Protestantism, are therefore contemptuous and dismissive of things like the Holy House of Loreto, in which the original home of the Holy Family in Nazareth was transported by angels to the hills of the Italian countryside; the Miracle of Lanciano, a consecrated Host which has been bleeding for more than a thousand years; the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, in which the sun was observed to hurl towards the earth by more than 70,000 witnesses; the mystical stigmata of St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, and many others; Etc..

I don’t think there has ever been a time when the Church and the world were so fundamentally at odds about everything. The pagan world, though violently hostile in many ways, proved to be a fertile soil for Christianity. The ground had been prepared for receiving the Gospel. The modern world, by contrast, has rejected not only the Faith but the necessary underpinnings of Christian belief. It was a diabolical masterstroke. To paraphrase Dr. Peter Kreeft: Paganism was like a virgin, ripe for the Gospel. Modernity is like a divorcee, whose heart is hardened against her first love.

October in the flatlands

Here are some photos I took around the ranch this afternoon.

A view of the homestead from a corner of the fruit orchard.

This is our famous super-deluxe-custom-built-late-model-chickenhouse – the jewel of the west side, the pride of Orland, the envy of neighbors for miles around, and St. Isidore Ranch’s main attraction. Note the exterior doors for the nest boxes, so that eggs may be easily retrieved from outside. Note also the ventilation windows at the top. A low-maintenance automatic watering device can be seen to the right. There are twelve nest boxes inside, and sixteen feet of comfortable roosting rods. The spacious building measures 8X8, so it can double as a guest house if needed.

Looking west from the goat pasture towards the city of Orland.

This cinderblock building once functioned as a milking barn for a dairy operation. We converted it to a workshop and a home office, where I am sitting now.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Farmer Jonathan, Amy, and Angel our Great Pyrenee.

To my eyes, the most beautiful sight on this earth. Mrs. Culbreath is due any minute …

Latin Mass F.A.Q.

I’m working on a hymnal for our little TLM community, and in the front of the hymnal will be an F.A.Q. for newcomers. The F.A.Q. should be short and concise while covering the basic questions people are likely to have. Would you mind proofing this for me? Tell me if you think I’ve made any errors, missed something, or as I’m prone to do, included too much.


What is the Traditional Latin Mass?

The Traditional Latin Mass is the most ancient form of the Roman Rite approved for general use today. Although formally codified by the Council of Trent in the 16th century, the canon dates back to the time of St. Gregory the Great. Due to the great solemnity, reverence, and otherworldliness of this liturgy, it has often been called “the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven”.

How is the Latin Mass Different?

The Traditional Latin Mass is not a Latin version of the Novus Ordo Missae. The prayers themselves are different. They tend to be theologically precise and spiritually effusive. The rubrics are also quite different. There are fewer options, and there is little room for innovation. The priest faces the altar, or “liturgical east”, in the direction of the risen Christ. There are long periods of silence in which to contemplate the mystery of divine love as revealed in the liturgy. There is more kneeling, genuflecting, bowing, and crossing, all of which are symbolically important and give the rite a pronounced God-ward orientation.

Do I Need to Know Latin?

No. The Traditional Latin Mass is for everyone. This is the same rite that formed countless numbers of holy men and women over the centuries, few of whom knew Latin, and many of whom were illiterate. The content, structure and form of the Mass may be learned and richly appreciated without any knowledge of Latin – although one can’t help picking up some Latin along the way.

Why is the Mass Celebrated in Latin?

Here’s what Blessed John XXIII – the Pope who convened the Second Vatican Council -wrote in his great Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia:

“Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.

Nor must we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin’s formal structure. Its ‘concise, varied and harmonious style, full of majesty and dignity’ makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of expression …

Furthermore, the Church’s language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. It has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use …

Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.”

How Should I Worship at the Latin Mass?

If you are new to the Latin Mass, you should use a missal with an English translation alongside the Latin. These missals are available at the entrance of the church. Larger missals, with the propers for each day and rubrics for other celebrations, are available for purchase in various places. Ask a fellow worshiper after Mass where you might obtain one of these.

As you follow along with the priest, don’t be too concerned about falling behind or losing your place. The contents of these ancient prayers are rich with meaning: one does well to linger on the words for a time. In this way your soul will be drawn toward communion with Jesus Christ and, if you are well prepared, the reception of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at the altar rail. At certain times – such as the Sanctus, the Credo, the elevations, the Agnus Dei – you will be reminded to “catch up” with the liturgy in order to participate fully.

In some churches, the altar servers normally say the responses alone. In other places the congregation joins with the altar servers in responding to the priest – sometimes very quietly, and sometimes more audibly. It is best to follow the custom of your parish. If unsure, ask the celebrating priest what he prefers.

How Should I Dress?

Assisting at the Holy Sacrifice on Sunday is the most important thing you will do the entire week.

Acceptable attire varies from place to place, but in the United States the following norms apply:

For men, long pants and a collared shirt is the acceptable minimum, preferably with a coat and tie.

For women, any kind of modest feminine clothing is acceptable, while a long skirt or dress is to be preferred.

All should avoid loud, ostentatious, and immodest clothing. Skirts and dresses should cover the knees while sitting. Sleeves should cover the shoulders. Shorts, t-shirts, tank-tops, bare midriffs, low necklines, and revealing or tight-fitting clothes are always inappropriate.

What Are Chapel Veils?

Until very recently it was the universal custom of Catholic women to cover their heads whenever they found themselves in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. This requirement was even written into Canon Law, and is based upon the instructions of Saint Paul in Sacred Scripture. Veiling is an outward sign of submission to the Divine Order:

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered, disgraceth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven. For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head. The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. For the man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man. Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels.” (1 Cor 11:3-10)

Although the veiling requirement has been relaxed in recent years, the practice is still encouraged at the Latin Mass. Chapel veils may be borrowed at the entrance of the church for ladies who wish to recover this beautiful tradition.

Is Talking Allowed Before or After Mass?

At the Latin Mass, it is customary for worshipers to make their preparation and thanksgiving prayers in church where Christ is reserved in the Blessed Sacrament. Very often the rosary is said just before Mass commences. Talking in church before or after Mass makes it difficult for people to concentrate on their prayers. Even if no one else is in the church at the moment, silence should be observed so as not to discourage others who may enter at any time.

Are Children Welcome?

Absolutely! The traditional liturgy is a wonderful school of reverence and devotion for young children. A quiet, worshipful atmosphere is not inconsistent with a certain tolerance for childish noisemaking. Nevertheless, out of respect for others, parents should remove children who are crying or making excessive noise. At the same time we ask everyone to be kind and understanding towards those who are struggling with young ones.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company … and Abortion

This is sad news. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company produces excellent beer, much loved by traditional Catholics in California and beyond. Unfortunately we recently picked up some literature from Chico’s most notorious abortion provider: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is listed as a supporter. So long, Pale Ale! Sure, it’s been fun, but there must be other west coast microbrewers who don’t spend their profits on the destruction of human life.

Front Royal, Virginia

“Finally, I would like to say a few words about Front Royal, Virginia. Within a stretch of about a mile in Front Royal are located the campus of Christendom College, as well as the world headquarters of Seton Home Study School and Human Life International. There are many stories about the origin of the name Front Royal. It is believed that during the Revolutionary War, when captains were mustering their troops, they called the men to ‘Front the Royal Oak Tree’.

If we look carefully, however, there is another meaning for the term Front Royal. When a country is at war and the king has gone to battle, the area or ‘front’ where the king is located to lead his soldiers, that area is called the Royal Front or Front Royale. So we believe it is no coincidence that Seton, Christendom, and Human Life International, certainly in the forefront of the Catholic battle against the secular culture, are to be found at the Front Royale. Because we are engaged in a battle royal, with the Heavenly King of Kings at our side.

St. Peter tells us to be ready to give reasons for the hope that is in us. If you would like to see more reasons for hope, I invite you to come to the Front Royale and visit us. You will find it is worth your effort to visit the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and drive down the stretch of road where Jesus Christ is King.”

– Dr. Mary Kay Clark, President of Seton Home School 

Happy Columbus Day

A few items …

My dear friends, Sancta Sanctis is back! – one year to the day since her last post. Enbrethiliel has always been one of St. Blog’s most unique and endearing personalities. We have all missed her.

William Luse is waxing eloquent once more on the riddles of life. What can I say? The man can flat-out write. Don’t let the pop culture and political commentary fool you: persevere unto the very end, and great wilt be thy reward.

The Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary is now online. (Courtesy of the Cornell Society For a Good Time.)

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. on Morality and Columbus Day.

Hispanic Catholics to be enlisted in California’s fight for marriage.