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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Academic chap uniform

How do they all know about it? The number of academic chaps who wear beige-ish trousers, blue-checked shirt and navy sweater is quite absurd. Is there a secret sartorial briefing session for blokes after all the rest of the postgrad introductory stuff? (Someone here began a how-to-be-a-postgrad session with: 'The most marked feature of my postgraduate life was loneliness. Intellectual loneliness, social loneliness, lots of different sorts of loneliness..' Um, thanks...)

Now, if someone could tell the rest of us how to look sensible without being either over-dressed or slatternly, that would be nice. Or maybe putting an end to women's judging each other on appearance would be a better first step: 'Nice seminar, shame about the shirt' sort of thing... (And is that better or worse than, 'The paper was a bit dubious, but she had these really great shoes'? Which I seem to find myself thinking more and more often. Sigh.)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Say the Rosary with Pius and Leo!

non praevalebunt

Cardinal Cardinal Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán appears to be backtracking. No doubt there will be no retraction from the BBC or reporting of this fact. Who is David Willy anyway? He sounds like an Anglican. Sometimes the BBC is so biased it is like listening to some kind of propaganda service. Occasionally I listen for four or five programmes in a row where there is some reference to the benefits of homosexuality, religious abandoning their vocations or the intellectual bankruptcy of theism as though someone has picked this as theme for the day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Silent No More

For readers within striking distance of Edinburgh who haven't heard about this from SPUC, or read about it on Patter Noster, or been nagged about it in person by me -

- there is a very worthwhile pro-life event on Wednesday which you are warmly encouraged to support!

Georgette Forney, of the American organisation Silent No More, will be speaking in Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, at 7.30pm on Wednesday 26th April. Ms Forney is the co-founder of the Silent No More awareness campaign, which, in its own words, aims to 'raise awareness about the physical, spiritual and emotional harm abortion does to women,' and 'to let those who are hurting from abortion know that help is available.' As far as I know, Ms Forney will be speaking about her own experience of abortion and how she subsequently found healing. Not jolly, but very important. Ms Forney will also be speaking in Glasgow and Dundee Universities this week, and at the SPUC Scotland conference on Saturday.

Trojan Horses

This Condoms business is extremely irritating. It is a little known fact that the grounds on which Paul VI was expected to say that the pill was ok in the late 60s was that it was not a contraceptive but a way of regulating the menstrual cycle. You never hear that mentioned now because the people who put it forward never believed in it in the first place, they just wanted the Pope to say the Pill was ok and they were prepared to use any reasoning however tortuous to get there. It's like the people who want the Church to say that sodomy is ok as part of a stable loving relationship have no intention of advocating abstinence from sodomy before the contraction of an indissoluble stable loving relationship. Now the Trojan horse is the use of barrier contraceptives to prevent Aids. It is almost impossible to get Aids if you and your spouse follow the Church's teaching. If you get it because your spouse doesn't follow that teaching you still cant transmit it to anyone else so long as you do. So saying that married couples can use condoms to prevent the spread of Aids would have no practical impact whatsoever as they cant spread it unless they reject the Church's teaching. If both spouses knew that one spouse had Aids it would of course be sinfully irresponsible to engage in sterile sexual activity at the risk of the other's life. So the only possible circumstances in which one could use a Condom according to this proposed 'new teaching' would be when one's spouse suspected the other of infidelity but the other did not admit it. This of course would be sinfully to impugn the good faith of the other spouse. So in order to avoid that one would have to make the use of condoms routine for all couples except when they decide to 'try for a baby'. QED Trojan horse installed in the City of God.

Another powerful side effect this 'new teaching' would have would be to unravel the whole of the church's moral teaching by conceding the point that one can do evil that go may come of it. For the use of contraceptives is intrinsically evil. And, as the Compendium says, the sexual act can never be sterilised either as a means or an end. So why would anyone be calling for this? For the same reason as last time, they don't believe in the church's teaching in the first place and they want to see the Church's teaching authority implode. If they can't get the Pope to err then at least they can create the impression he is going to and then if he says nothing they will claim that silence is consent and if he condemns them they will complain he has disappointed the widespread expectations of the laity. Sound familiar?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Divine Mercy Sunday

Eternal Father, we offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of Your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy upon us and on the whole world.

Sancta Faustina, ora pro nobis!

Beeb missing the point

The most recent Reporting Religion on the BBC World Service (should be up for about six more days) was a special on Benedict's first year as Pope. It wasn't uninteresting - as far as I could tell at 1.30am, when my critical faculties aren't at their sharpest - though there was a fair seasoning of the 'goodness me, he hasn't excommunicated everyone' sort of commentary. It did, however, have a very strange absence of references to Benedict's love of Our Lord, and his insistence upon pointing to Jesus, not to himself. How (even from a purely journalistic point of view) do you expect to understand a man if you ignore his deepest passion? How can anyone hope to understand the Church by ignoring the point of her existence?

God does not enter into competition with earthly powers in this world. He does not marshal his divisions alongside other divisions. God did not send 12 legions of angels to assist Jesus in the Garden of Olives (cf. Mt 26: 53). He contrasts the noisy and ostentatious power of this world with the defenceless power of love, which succumbs to death on the Cross and dies ever anew throughout history; yet it is this same love which constitutes the new divine intervention that opposes injustice and ushers in the Kingdom of God.

God is different - this is what they now come to realize. And it means that they themselves must now become different, they must learn God's ways.[...]

It is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true. True revolution consists in simply turning to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love. And what could ever save us apart from love?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Charles & Camilla

Apparently, after their divorce, the marriage of Andrew Parker-Bowles and his putative wife Camilla Shand was declared null by the Church. Because the 'Church' of England doesn't exist canonically (having neither orders nor jurisdiction) it is irrelevant to the validity of Miss Shand's later marriage to the Prince of Wales whether it occurred in one of their 'churches'. While a Catholic in full communion with the Church cannot contract a valid marriage without observing canon 1108 of the Code of Canon Law or the equivalent provisions of the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches; this does not apply to baptised non-Catholics, including Anglicans. Such persons can validly contract a sacramental marriage through a public exchange of consent regardless where or before whom this occurs. The 'Church' of England treats all marriages that are recognised in law as valid regardless of whether the parties were free to marry or not. Accordingly, the Anglicans have to believe that their future supreme governor is living in sin with another man's wife, while as far as the Catholic Church is concerned Charles and Camilla, though benighted heretics, are validly married. The same logic applies to C.S.Lewis and his wife Joy. She had been 'married' to a divorcee and so when she divorced him the 'Church' of England wouldn't let her marry C.S.Lewis. The Catholic Church considered her to be unmarried and so recognised her 'illegal' marriage to C.S.Lewis as valid.

Kirk further loses integrity

The Church of Scotland's 'Society, Religion and Technology Project' decides that 'the moral status of the human embryo is not established until some time into its biological development after conception'. (Or, at least, most people on the committee thought this, according to the press release.)

Sheila McLean, professor of medical ethics at Glasgow University, described the Kirk's stance as "brave" and worthy of admiration.

"The Church's stance, while still being pretty conservative, could be considered radical for a faith group," she said.

So as usual, a.n. religious group is all right insofar as they agree with the liberal establishment. So generous...
Note, incidentally, the Kirk's theoretical position on abortion (that is, positions articulated by General Assemblies in the past). It's slightly better than one would expect, given the Kirk's consistent silence upon the matter in the recent past - which, I suppose, demonstrates that, once you concede that an innocent individual may be deliberately and individually killed, you've lost any right to define limits to such killing.
Sta Gianna Molla, ora pro nobis!
(Bah, just realised I've been totally forgetting about the Divine Mercy novena. St Faustina, pray for us, please, even if I'm forgetful of you and your apostolate...)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"To each one of you, I ask you to continue to support me praying to God to let me be his gentle and firm pastor of his church"

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Done is a battell on the dragon blak;
Our campioun Chryst coufoundit hes his force:
The yettis of hell ar brokin with a crak,
The signe triumphall rasit is of the croce,
The divillis trymmillis with hiddous voce,
The saulis ar borrowit and to the bliss can go,
Chryst with his blud our ransonis dois indoce:

Dungin is the deidly dragon Lucifer,
The crewall serpent with the mortall stang,
The auld keen tegir with his teith on char
Quhilk in a wait hes lyne for us so lang
Thinking to grip us in his clowis strang:
The merciful lord wald nocht that it wer so;
He maid him for to felye of that fang:

He for our saik that sufferit to be slane
And lyk a lamb in sacrifice wes dicht
Is like a lyone rissin up agane
And as a gyane raxit him on hicht;
Sprungin is Aurora radius and bricht,
On loft is gone the glorious Appollo,
The blissful day depairtit fro the nycht:

The grit victour agane is rissin on hicht
That for our querrell to the deth was woundit;
The sone that wox all paill now schynis bricht,
And dirknes clerit, our fayth is now refoundit;
The knell of mercy fra the hevin is soundit,
The Cristin ar deliverit of their wo,
The Jowis and thair errour ar confoundit:

The fo is chasit, the battell is done ceis,
The presone brokin, the jevellouris fleit and flemit;
The weir is gon, confermit is the peis,
The fetteris lowsit and the dungeoun temit,
The ransoun maid, the presoneris redemit;
The feild is win, ourcumin is the fo,
Dispulit of the tresur that he yemit:

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"If he should be called a man..."

NOR article reassessing the value of texts attributed to Pilate and sections of Josephus usually taken as pseudo-epigraphical/interpolated by modern scholars. Argues the too-good-to-be-true fallacy is at work.

Sodom Must Fall!

Two articles on a priest and a bishop persecuted for their fidelity to the Church's moral teachings. Depressing stuff. I wonder how much harm has been done by Pro-Life organisations keen to build cross-confessional support ignoring issues like homosexuality and contraception. There is no objective justification for such exceptions both practices can be shown from natural reason to be gravely immoral. Both ought to be proscribed by the civil law even in a 'confessionally neutral' State. Of course the fundamental problem is the failure among nominal Catholics at all levels to believe that there is anything basically wrong with the world. This failure quite simply stems from a lack of Faith. If there is nothing basically wrong with the world then practices such as abortion, sodomy and fornication can't really be wrong because they are not just accepted but central to modern culture. The Church's refusal to accept these practices as legitimate stems from an historic lack of judgement which, like the Galileo case, will be overcome in the face of the greater power to achieve truth possessed by secular culture. The transition however will be painful because of the lack of judgement shown by Rome. Rome's fundamental failure for such bishops is in not grasping that the central importance of Vatican II was not in saying anything in particular but in contradicting the former magisterium. This proves that the Church is not infallible in anything but a pickwickian sense and so loyalty to the teachings of the church is like loyalty within a political party, one keeps to the party line at election time but one hopes for changes in the next manifesto and a certain amount of overt dissent within the ranks helps to move things along. If the faith cannot be certainly known what is point of adhering to it? Does adherence to the faith result from a combination of a desire to fulfil the requirement of the natural law that we worship God as best we can and a probable judgement that Christianity is the best way for me? This position too is no use to the individual who cannot accept that there is anything truly evil in sodomy, fornication and abortion because he cannot consistently reconcile such a belief with adherence to the concept of natural law. To escape from the natural law he has to make the existence of God a matter of 'faith' rather than reason. The failure to believe in the availability of theism to natural reason cuts the link between the Church and the world. If an acceptance of the existence of God is exclusively a matter of faith then nothing in the natural law drives man to seek to worship the one true God in the best manner possible. This is why 'faith' is spoken of as if it were something that non Christians have ('interfaith dialogue', 'those of all faiths and none' etc.). A generic virtue of believing nice things without rational basis that is helpful for some people. Pius X saw all this and where it was going that is why he described the availabilty of God's existence to natural reason as first among the principal truths directly opposed the errors of this day. Hence the oath against modernism, "I N. firmly embrace and accept each and every definition that has been set forth and declared by the unerring teaching authority of the Church, especially those principal truths which are directly opposed to the errors of this day. And first of all, I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (cf. Rom. 1:90), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated… I hold with certainty and sincerely confess that faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source. By this assent, because of the authority of the supremely truthful God, we believe to be true that which has been revealed and attested to by a personal God, our Creator and Lord." Amen

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Another Scottish papist

With a particularly amusing take on Romano Prodi, 'The man with the world's most ecumenical name.' Yes, it definitely takes a certain sort of Scottish thinking to spot the comic potential...
'My first act of parliament will be to introduce enforced ecumenical services on every parish of every denomination in this country. Ciao.' Spokesman for the Church, Pope Benedict XVI said, 'Naw he willnae.'


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Rumours suggest the Pope will declare the 1962 Missal in force this Easter. Does this mean that any Roman Rite priest will be able to use either Missal without reference to any higher authority? The tension is painful.

Edification from il Papa

One can be materially poor but have a heart full of anxiety for wealth and power, which comes from wealth. The fact that one lives in envy and avarice shows that, in one's heart, one is part of the rich. One wishes to reverse the distribution of goods, but only so that oneself will be in the situation that the rich occupied before. Poverty in Jesus' sense -- in the prophets' sense -- presupposes above all interior freedom from avarice and the will to power.

It is about a much greater reality than a different distribution of goods, which would be limited to the material realm, and which make hearts even harder. Above all, it is about the purification of the heart, thanks to which one recognizes that possession is responsibility before others which, in the sight of God, allows itself to be guided by Jesus who, being rich, became poor for us (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).

Interior freedom presupposes the surmounting of corruption and avarice which at this point devastate the world; this freedom may be found only if God becomes our wealth, it may be found only in the patience of daily renunciations, in which it develops as authentic freedom. On Palm Sunday we acclaim Jesus, the king who points out to us the way to this goal, and we ask him to take us with him on his path.

I am puzzled by two translations of one word, sguardo. In one place this is translated 'look': che diventò anche per i suoi discepoli la chiave per la comprensione dell'evento quando, dopo la Pasqua, ripercorsero con uno sguardo nuovo quelle giornate tumultuose, 'which became for his disciples the key to understand that event when, after Easter, they recalled those tumultuous days with a new look.' This makes it sound to me as if the disciples have just had a wardrobe makeover. And at another point, it is translated 'glance': Penetrando con lo sguardo le nubi della storia che separavano il profeta da Gesù,, 'Penetrating with a glance the clouds of history' (the second part ['which separate the prophet from Jesus'?] is absent in the English). Again this seems odd - glances are not penetrating, surely? (Unless the idea is that, precisely by looking quickly from one to the other, one sees the connection more surely than if one took the intervening centuries into account and got lost in the mists of time?)

In no way do I wish to criticise Zenit's tireless translators, especially as I don't understand Italian. It just so happened that these two sentences in the English struck me as odd, and when I looked at the Italian they turned out to involve the same word. Now in my (wee Collins) dictionary, 'look' and 'glance' were the translations suggested; yet in neither case do these words seem quite appropriate. Something like, 'they recalled these tumultuous days with new eyes', in the first case, and 'gazing through the clouds of history', perhaps? Or are those making unacceptably free with a simple wee word? Can anyone out there comment usefully?

Anyway. More importantly:

The new weapon Jesus puts in our hands is the cross, sign of reconciliation, of love that is stronger than death. Every time we make the sign of the cross, we must remember not to respond to an injustice with more injustice, to violence with more violence; we must remember that we can only overcome evil with good, without returning evil for evil.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A very good letter

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More Controversial Stuff on Mohammedanism

See also: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2006/03/27/opinion/14924.shtml

I don't know how to assess this stuff. It seems rather consistent with the history of Mohammedanism. I would like to know what an honest authority on the subject would say about it. Would Bin Laden agree with this exposition of Mohammed's teaching? I have also heard it claimed that Mohammed permits his followers to lie about his teachings for the sake of conversion. Does anyone know if that is true and where the text is that says so?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I'm currently engaged in discussion with a Protestant chap about all the usual stuff - Scripture and Tradition, mostly - which is quite interesting though rather frustrating. (Pray for both of us!) Last week I was trying to remember the various parables which show that the Church on earth includes both the elect and the reprobate (if I may use such terminology without Calvinist implications). For entirely unconnected, work-related reasons I also happened to be reading the Common for a Virgin-not-martyred in the Aberdeen Breviary (1510; basically Sarum Use, and in that instance very similar to the post-Trent Roman Rite). The Gospel for the Mass is about the wise and the foolish virgins, and three of the lectiones for Matins are from a homily by Gregory the Great... about why this parable shows that both the elect and the reprobate are included in the Church on earth...

Laudetur Jesus Christus!!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Slow news week for the Sunday Herald?