Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Marie-Antoinette began each day with a cup of chocolat. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Chocolate was often consumed at breakfast, usually in the privacy of the bedroom or dressing room. Here, a servant is presenting the beverage to a woman in a dressing gown; there are also sweet Savoy biscuits on the table. Chocolate was considered healthy, particularly for the stomach and the voice, and its consumption was permitted even during the fasting days of Lent, provided it was served without milk or eggs. (Read more.)

The Destruction of the Church in Iraq

Who needs to apologize? From Opus Publicum:
Alot of focus has been placed recently on Mark Movesian’s First Things (FT) blog piece on the deplorable situation of Christians in Iraq, “A Line Crossed in the Middle East.” You should go read it; it’s quite good. The article does, however, inadvertently raise the question a friend of mine asked, “What responsibility does FT bear for Iraq?” For those of you too young to remember, during the 1990s and 00s, FT was the main hub for neoconservative Catholicism. The late Fr. John Neuhaus, along with his ideological sentries George Weigel and Michael Novak, beat the war drums leading up to the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 while trashing those Christians who stood in the way.

While FT has undergone some significant internal shakeups since the death of Neuhaus in 2009, the magazine—which at this point is a minor Catholic institution—has never publicly repented of its support for the Iraq War and, by extension, the misery which followed it.
Soul searching does not come easy for Americans. When we do it, we do it begrudgingly. When political leaders such as our current President, Barack Obama, issues public apologies on the world stage, it is taken by many as a sign of weakness and shame. To own up to a past mistake or bad intellectual bet amounts to a self-inflicted reputational gunshot wound, or so we often fear. While it is understandable—though hardly defensible—that overtly ideological rags such as The National Review, The Weekly Standard, and Commentary aren’t falling over themselves to issue mea culpas for America’s Mid East debacle, shouldn’t we expect better of a Catholic publication? It seems almost self-serving and shallow for FT to run pieces condemning the genocide in Mosul without first coming to grips openly for its support of the military action which made a murderous band of radicals like ISIS possible.

Now, some might say that FT only had a “minor role” to play in the Iraq affair, and to a certain extent they are right. In the grand scheme of things FT is a small-time player compared to mainstream conservative publications. For American Catholics, however, FT was, and still remains, a powerful voice. At the very time when certain Catholic intellectuals in America and Europe were expressing skepticism toward the justness of going to war with Iraq, FT was there to set consciences at ease that invading a country which had not attacked the United States was meet and right. There are more than a few Catholics in “my generation” (I am 34) who will say with a straight face that FT tipped their hearts and minds to backing the American invasion of Iraq. Besides, no matter how one judges “influence,” there is no doubt that FT came out for the war and dedicated column space to defending it. That is sufficient for putting them on the culpability hook.

Others might argue that while the FT of the 1990s and 00s bears responsibility for getting into bed with neoconservatism and supporting the Iraq War, today’s FT is a different story. The editorial leadership has changed and many of the regular contributors were not around back then. Ideologically speaking, FT appears to be more diverse than it ever was. Are the children responsible for the sins of their fathers? Well no, not directly. However, as custodians of a publication which committed itself to a disastrous political position, the current editorial leadership, along with its supporting staff, owe it to the Christians now suffering terribly in Iraq to repent of the publication’s misdeeds. Perhaps no single editor or writer on FT is responsible, but here we are talking about a publication/institution which still carries a lot of heft. Shouldn’t it be easier for the current leadership at FT, as compared to the old guard, to take a hard look at the magazine’s past position on Iraq and publicly distance themselves from it? (Read more.)

Via A Conservative Blog for Peace. Share

Monday, July 28, 2014

Touching His Robe: Reaching Past the Shame and Anger of Abuse

Touching His Robe by Leslie G. Nelson is a must-read for survivors of trauma, particularly the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. Let me first say that this sort of crime has occurred throughout history; it is not endemic to our own corrupt times as many think. I once read from an old manual for parents written by a priest in which the author enjoined mothers to have the greatest vigilance about whom they chose to care for their small children. The priest said that if they knew what he had heard in confessions they would never leave their children at all. The problem is that today, because of the easy availability of pornography on the internet, persons with such a weakness are probably more likely to transgress the laws of God and of nature than in the past, having built an almost incurable obsession. At any rate, we are speaking of a disease from which children must be protected. And, if having failed to protect them, we must be grateful for those like Mrs. Nelson who are able to articulate, through their love for Christ, both the their agony and their pilgrimage to wholeness.

In reading Touching His Robe what struck me the most is the recurring tendency in the victims to struggle with the overwhelming urge to commit suicide. More than anything else, this made me understand the damage done to their psyches as small children, when  not only their bodies but their souls were violated by a person whom they trusted. Part of the mystery of each person is the mystery of their sexuality, and when that mystery is violated, then there is no other mystery but that of death. This became clearer to me more than ever while reading the book.

While the subject is a bitter one, Mrs. Nelson infuses the book with hope which comes directly from her love for her Savior. Touching His Robe is full of the wisdom the author has gleaned from her own experience and from working with other victims. It comes from her life of prayer and her pondering of the Scriptures. There are many practical suggestions and resources offered for those suffering from the trauma perpetrated upon them when they were too young to process it. It shows the support which can come from the ecclesial community when a member of the Body of Christ is enduring torment. What is offered in Mrs. Nelson's book is the best of pastoral and psychological counseling, helpful in its brevity and frankness. Every parish library should have a copy of it. There are no words of praise lavish enough to express the admiration I feel for persons such as Mrs. Nelson who have the courage to speak out about their journey towards healing

(*NOTE: This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.) Share

Mysticism and the Magisterium, Part I

From Fr. Angelo:
I begin this series on Mysticism and Magisterium with the notion of “thinking with the Church” because discernment is so basic to the spiritual life.   For a Catholic, every authentic spirit is characterized by its “ecclesiality,” which means that the Holy Spirit works in and through the Church and always leads to communion with the Church.
In recent years, the sacred magisterium has frequently recommended the sentire cum ecclesia in order to remind us that a true sense of faith implies “a profound agreement of spirit and heart with the Church” (Donum Veritatis  [DV] 35).   One’s personal faith must be the faith of the Church.   It is “never an isolated act” of an individual or even a group within the Church.   In fact, St. John Paul II told religious that by thinking with the Church they become “experts of communion,” and “architects” of God’s plan for unity within the Church (Vita Consecrata [VC] 46).   We are one with Christ because we are of one mind and heart through our communion with the Church.

This ecclesiality runs directly contrary to the modern religious spirit, which is the worship the autonomous personal conscience.   Most often today this radical autonomy takes the form of personal moral relativism, which is a private disregard for what the Church teaches, say, for example, in regard to its condemnation of contraception.   More serious, however, is public dissent from Church teaching, especially by well-known figures, whose scandal harms the unity of the Church in a profound way.

Unfortunately, it is not only the progressives who have adopted this individualistic spirit. Even in the name of Tradition, some today speak of a pre- and post-conciliar Church, thus creating a rupture between the past and the present.   In this way, they submit everything the magisterium has to say to a test that ultimately sets the Church against itself.

Finally, the autonomous personal conscience sometimes lays claim to a false discernment when it sets private revelation and presumed personal graces against the magisterium.   The desire for union with God sometimes leads individuals to attach themselves to extraordinary manifestations of the “spirit,” but in such a way that weakens their attachment to the Church.   Thus, Catholics continue to embrace New Age spirituality, or some dubious private revelation, or a personal insight even though they know that their conviction runs contrary to Church teaching or discipline.

The discernment of spirits is so important today because there are many voices competing for our attention, and it is all so easy to assume that that what we hear, or even what we think and say comes from God.   We need to be careful, especially when we are tempted to think differently than the Church—to disregard or disparage her doctrine or choose a path that sets us at odds with the sacred magisterium. (Read more.)
 Via Terry Nelson. Share

Sunday, July 27, 2014


From Tiny-Librarian:
“Louis-Auguste, please understand one thing. I will never agree to leaving you. If I die, it will be at your feet, the children in my arms. My place is at your side; to escape without you would be cowardice and only playing into the hands of our enemies. Whatever storms assail us, we will face them together.”
Trianon - Elena Maria Vidal


Tolkien on Modernity, Part I

From Mary Victrix:
I would suggest that the meaning of “Death and Immortality” is related to the theme of contempt for the Machine in a fundamental way, and I speculate that this will come out more fully in the recording. Men use the Machine to control death, to quicken it upon their enemies and to delay it for themselves. Both temptations are in the Ring: power and lengthened life. Elves use Magic not to lengthen their own lives but to preserve the earth against their quasi-immortality. So men unnaturally attempt to lengthen their lives in order to cling to the world, and elves unnaturally attempt to lengthen the life of the world so they can longer enjoy it. This was Galadriel’s temptation to take the Ring. It would empower her to save Lothlorien and prevent her from having to leave Middle Earth. (Read more.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

La Siesta

La Siesta
By Joaquin Sorolla.

La siesta en el jardin

Fertility Is Not a Disease

Young women explain why they choose not to use birth control. To quote:
As Catholics, we should know and understand that any form of contraception, even for “medical purposes” between a sexually active couple is never permitted. (http://www.catholic.com/tracts/birth-control.) Ironically, most all of these “pro birth control” articles have been written in response the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, and most of them address birth control that was never included in the ruling to begin with. Several of us have decided to write a response to these articles, sharing some of the health risks associated with the use of birth control as well as other reasons we opt not to use it. We do not use birth control……
“Because I don’t need anything to control me, I can control myself.”
“Because I like my water without other people’s estrogen in it.”
“Because it perpetuates the objectification of women as worthless sexual objects, constantly at the disposal of men in our commodity driven culture.” (Read more.)