Sunday, 31 December 2017

Passing On the Past

As I've mentioned, I grew up on a farm in North East Kansas. About 20 years ago, I was living in the city with my Cuter, Shorter Half and our children, who were young teenagers. We lived just a short drive from the US National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame, a museum and educational facility in Bonner Springs, Kansas, the CSH's hometown.

I decided to take the children to the 'Ag Hall' as it's called in the area, to give them an idea of what my life had been like as a boy. I often joke that I didn't grow up in the 1950s and 60s, but much earlier. My family still clung to many of the older ways of the farm.

As I said in my post, The Vagaries of Diet,
I was raised on a farm in Northeast Kansas. We kept cattle, hogs, and chickens. Every year, I helped butcher a steer and a hog. I also got to pluck the feathers of lots of chickens after Mum or my Grandmother chopped their heads off.  Most of the meat was taken into town to the cold storage locker, but Mum and Grandma always canned some beef, parboiling it, adding tallow, and sterilising the jars. That was just in case we got snowed in and couldn't make it to town! We rendered the pork trimmings into lard, and I got to eat a few of the cracklings, the very deep fat fried scraps of meat left after the liquid lard had been pressed out. We stuffed our own sausage in sheep guts we bought at the locker. It was smoked in a 55 gallon drum, and then hung in the 'big pantry', a large walk-in closet/small room off my bed room.
We still had a small patch of corn that we harvested by hand. It was immediately north of the farmstead, and acted as a snow break in the winter, catching the snow that would otherwise drift around the buildings.

Amongst the items in the Ag Hall Museum was a corn shucking hook. It is used to rip the husk off the ear of corn, which you then snap from the husk and throw in the wagon.



It also exhibited a hand corn planter, which we used to plant the sweet corn in our (very large) garden. It is a device which has two upright, flat boards, hinged together at the bottom by metal nose-pieces. A seed can was attached to one board, and handles were set on the top of both. To use, the handles were held apart, the nose stuck into the ground, and the handles were pushed together to open the bill and released the seed. Other variations existed, but all designs operated on the same principle.


And, occasionally, if we just need a bit of corn shelled, for chicken feed or such, we used a hand cranked corn sheller, which was also on exhibit.


As we walked by each item, I asked the youngsters to guess what it was. Their batting average was .000! I enjoyed explaining each one to them and its uses. I doubt they enjoyed it as much as I did, but I hope they learned something!



Gingerbread 'Cookie'



Our daughter brought gifts! I got Christmas crackers from England (No, they are not food! They are a noise making toy, associated with Christmas.), a toiletry set, and a gingerbread man. It was a gingerbread MAN, but in our 'politically correct' times, obviously calling it a man would be 'sexist', so the package, as you can see, called it a 'cookie'. 

How can you sing the Gingerbread Man song about a 'cookie'??


Her Majesty's Christmas Message, 1957

When I posted Her Majesty's Christmas Message for this year, I said that it brought tears to my eyes as she mentioned that young woman 60 years ago who had given the first televised Christmas Speech.

Well, here is that speech. 

God save the Queen!

Antonio Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day, 31 December

The Last Day of the Year



1. The last day of the year has come. It should be a day of reckoning and of resolution. Think of the many benefits which God has conferred on you throughout your life, but especially in the year which is now drawing to a close.
Count the temporal favours which you have received. Many of your friends and acquaintances have died during the year, but you are still alive. God has rescued you from innumerable perils and illnesses. He has allowed you more time in which to perfect your spiritual life and to perform apostolic work on your neighbour's behalf. Try not to be like the barren tree in the Gospel, because this could be your final year of trial.
Count the spiritual blessings which you have received. Think of the graces and good inspirations which God has given you during the past twelve months. How often have you received forgiveness for your sins, been restored to the friendship of God, and experienced anew the joy and peace of being in the state of grace? How often has Jesus come into your heart under the guise of the Blessed Eucharist? How often have you been enlightened and encouraged by hearing or reading the word of God? Think, too, of the good example which you have received in private and in public, and recall the many occasions on which the helping hand of God has reached out to save you from falling into sin.
You could never show sufficient gratitude for all these favours. Spend this day at least in acts of repentance and thanksgiving, and promise God to be faithful to Him in the coming year.
2. Now that the year is almost over, cast your mind back to the good resolutions which you made at the beginning of it. Have you put these resolutions into effect? Has there been any improvement in your spiritual life during these twelve months, or must you confess that it has deteriorated? How often have you committed sin, perhaps even grave sin, during the year? When God appealed to you to perform some good action, how often did you refuse Him?
Your future outlook is very dark if your life has developed into a gradual descent towards evil. Any day God could grow tired of your ingratitude and obstinacy and send death to end your infidelity. Then you would almost certainly be damned forever. If you have surrendered to spiritual languor and mediocrity, therefore, it is time for you to stir yourself. It is time to become more generous with God, to display a greater spirit of self-sacrifice in responding to His appeals, and to form firmer resolutions.
Virtue cannot co-exist with spiritual tepidity, which leads inevitably towards sin.
3. After he had spent a night fishing on the lake of Galilee without having caught anything, St. Peter was ordered by Jesus to cast his nets back into the sea. “Master,” the future Apostle replied, “the whole night through we have toiled and have taken nothing; but at thy word I will lower the net.” This act of perfect confidence in our Lord was soon rewarded, for when the fishermen lowered the net, "they enclosed a great number of fishes." (Luke 5:5-6)
Perhaps we have toiled hard and made many sacrifices during the past year. But have we worked with and for Jesus Christ? We may have thought more of ourselves than of Jesus and as a result achieved little or nothing in the spiritual life. The remedy is clear. We must remain close to Jesus, working with Him, in Him, and for Him. Then He will bless and strengthen the good resolutions which we are about to make. The secret of perfection is to live in constant union with Jesus Christ.

Happy Seventh Day of Christmas and Happy Sylvester!

Today is the Seventh Day of Christmas. It is also the Feast of Pope St Sylvester, who reigned from AD 314 to AD 345. 




Since St Sylvester's Day is also New Year's Eve in the Gregorian Calendar, several countries, primarily in Europe, use a variant of Sylvester's name as the preferred name for the holiday; these countries include Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Slovenia.

Some of the customs from various countries of Europe that are observed on this day.

Austria and Germany

In the capital of Austria, Vienna, people walk pigs on leashes for their Saint Sylvester's Day celebration in hope to have good luck for the coming year. Many Christian households in Germany mark the Saint Sylvester's Day by practicing the custom of Bleigiessen using Silvesterblei (Silvester lead), in which Silvesterblei is melted over a flame in an old spoon and dropped into a bowl of cold water; one's fortune for the coming year is determined by the shape of the lead.[7] If the lead forms a ball (der Ball), luck will roll one's way, while the shape of an anchor (der Anker) means help in need, and a star (der Sterne) signifies happiness.

Belgium

Christians of Belgium have a tradition that a maiden who does not finish her work by the time of sunset on Saint Sylvester's Day will not get married in year to come.

Brazil

Along with exploding fireworks, the Saint Sylvester Road Race, Brazil's most oldest and prestigious running event, takes place on Saint Sylvester's Day and is dedicated to Pope Sylvester I.

Italy

On Saint Sylvester's Day, "lentils and slices of sausage are eaten because they look like coins and symbolize good fortune and the richness of life for the coming year."

Switzerland

On the morning of Saint Sylvester's Day, the children of a Christian family compete with one another to see who can wake up the earliest; the child who arises the latest is playfully jeered. Men have, for centuries, masqueraded as Silvesterklaus on Saint Sylvester's Day.


Here are the readings from Matins for today, that were used until Venerable Pope Pius XII's reform of the Roman Breviary in 1955, at which time St Sylvester's Day was suppressed because of the Octave of the Nativity.

Sylvester was a Roman by birth, and his father's name was Rufinus. He was brought up from a very early age under a Priest named Cyrinus, of whose teaching and example he was a diligent learner. In his thirtieth year he was ordained Priest of the Holy Roman Church by Pope Marcellinus. In the discharge of his duties he became a model for all the clergy, and, after the death of Melchiades, he succeeded him on the Papal throne, ,during the reign of Constantine, who had already by public decree proclaimed peace to the Church of Christ. Hardly had he undertaken the government of the Church when he betook himself to stir up the Emperor to protect and propagate the religion of Christ. Constantine was fresh from his victory over his enemy Maxentius, on the Eve whereof the sign of the Cross had been revealed to him limned in light upon the sky; and there was an old story in the Church of Rome that it was Sylvester who caused him to recognise the images of the Apostles, administered to him holy Baptism, and cleansed him from the leprosy of misbelief.

The godly Emperor had already granted to Christ's faithful people permission to build public churches, and by the advice of Sylvester he himself set them the example. He built many Basilicas, and magnificently adorned them with holy images, and gifted them with gifts and endowments. Among these there were, besides others, the Church of Christ the Saviour, hard by the Lateran Palace; that of St. Peter, upon the Vatican Mount; that of St. Paul, upon the road to Ostia; that of St. Lawrence, in Verus' field; that of the Holy Cross at the Sessorian hall; that of St. Peter and St. Marcellinus, upon the Lavican Way; and that of St. Agnes, upon the road to Mentana. Under this Pope was held the first Council of Nice, presided over by the Papal Legates, and in the Presence of Constantine, and three hundred and eighteen Bishops, where the holy and Catholic Faith was declared, and Arius and his followers condemned; which Council was finally confirmed by the Pope, at the request of all the assembled Fathers, in a synod held at Rome, where Arius was again condemned. This Pope issued many useful ordinances for the Church of God. He reserved to Bishops the right of consecrating the Holy Chrism; ordered Priests to anoint with Chrism the heads of the newly baptised; settled the officiating dress of Deacons as a dalmatic and a linen maniple; and forbade the consecration of the Sacrament of the Altar on anything but a linen corporal.

This Sylvester is likewise said to have ordained that all persons taking Holy Orders should remain awhile in each grade before being promoted to a higher; that laymen should not go to law against the clergy; and that the clergy themselves were not to plead before civil tribunals. He decreed that the first and seventh days of the week should be called respectively the Lord's Day and the Sabbath, and the others, Second Day, Third Day, and so on. In this he confirmed the use of the word Feria for the weekdays, the which use had already begun in the Church. This word signifieth an holiday, and pointeth to the duty of the clergy ever to lay aside all worldly labour, and leave themselves free to do continually the work of the Lord. The heavenly wisdom with which he ruled the Church of God, was joined in him to a singular holiness of life, and an inexhaustible tenderness towards the poor; in which matter he ordained that the wealthy clergy should each relieve a certain number of needy persons; and he also made arrangements for supplying the consecrated virgins with the necessaries of life. He lived as Pope twenty-one years, ten months and one day, and was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla on the Salarian Way.. He held seven Advent ordinations, and made forty-two Priests, twenty-five Deacons, and sixty-five Bishops of various sees.


It is traditional to recite the Te Deum laudamus at midnight on St Sylvester's Day.

We praise thee, O God, * we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, * the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud, * the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim * continually do cry.

(bow head) Holy, Holy, Holy * Lord God of Sabaoth;

Heaven and earth are full * of the Majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles * praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets * praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs * praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world * doth acknowledge thee;
The Father, * of an infinite Majesty.
Thine honourable, true, * and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, * the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory, * O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting * Son of the Father.

During the following verse all make a profound bow:
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, * thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.

When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, * thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, * in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come * to be our Judge.

Kneel for the following verse
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, * whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious Blood.

Make them to be numbered with thy Saints, * in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people, * and bless thine heritage.
Govern them, * and lift them up for ever.
Day by day * we magnify thee;

During the following verse, by local custom, all make a profound bow.
And we worship thy Name * ever, world without end.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us * this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, * have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us, * as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted, * let me never be confounded.






Memes of the Day





Saturday, 30 December 2017

Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

As more and more people on the modern radical left argue for 'equality of outcome', rather than 'equality of opportunity', I wonder how many of them have thought about what this logically leads to? Communists and socialist of the past never argued for equality of outcome, as a bit of research will show. As much as I disagree with the underlying philosophy of the old left, at least they had thought their positions through. In the 21st century, the new left doesn't seem to be capable of the thought process to do that.

Many years before the rise of this new irrational 'leftism', the well known author, Kurt Vonnegut, wrote the following story. It was copyright 1961, when most Americans believed in equality of opportunity and could never have imagined that in just over five decades there would be people seriously advocating equality of outcome.

This short story is the prophecy of the logical end of the cry for equality of outcome. Read it and resist!


Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron's fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.


(Read the rest of the story)

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Antonio Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day, 30 December

Dissipation



1. Dissipation leads to tepidity, and tepidity leads to sin. Why are we dissipated? So much beauty and goodness surrounds us, created by God for our benefit. It often happens that when we gaze on worldly beauty, we become inordinately attached to it. We see worldly goods and desire too ardently to possess them. We forget that the beauty of this earth is only a fleeting reflection of the eternal beauty of God, and that the good things of creation are gifts from God. Everything which is good and beautiful in this world, therefore, should raise our minds and hearts towards God and prompt us to love Him Who created it. Unfortunately, we often stop half-way, forget God, and begin to seek in creatures the perfect satisfaction which they are incapable of giving us.
Dissipation is the neglect of spiritual things and the inordinate attachment to creatures. It causes us to lead worldly lives and to think only of material interests, money, pleasure, and sometimes sin. If we find that we have fallen into this wretched state, let us act at once. Let us remember that we were not created like the animals for the satisfaction of the senses, but were made for everlasting spiritual happiness. Only God can satisfy our immortal souls, whereas created things, loved for their own sake, eventually leave us bitter and disillusioned. “What does it profit a man,” asks Sacred Scripture, “if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Mt. 16:26)
2. If we forget God in our frantic search for creatures, God leaves us alone. No longer do we experience His inspirations and the desire to be holy and to gain Heaven. Our lives become mediocre. We do not wish to fall into serious sin, because we have not lost the fear of God and are still capable of remorse of conscience. Our intellects and wills, however, have become entangled in worldly objects. We rarely think of God, because we are preoccupied with worldly affairs.
What is to be the outcome of all this? We cannot remain in this state very long. Our spiritual life lacks the supernatural nourishment of grace, with the result that slowly but surely we slip from dissipation into sin. “With desolation is all the land made desolate,” laments the Holy Spirit, “because there is none that considereth in the heart.” (Jer. 12:11)
3. Imagine the death of the dissipated man. When he reaches the end of his earthly journey, it will seem to him as if he has awakened from a dream. Everything is over now. Gone forever are the objects of desire which he exerted himself so feverishly to acquire. He is alone before God. Money, ease, and pleasure have vanished like snow melting in the sun.
Please God we shall never experience this fearful reawakening. Let us rouse ourselves now, while there is still time, from our spiritual torpor. May God be our first thought and our first desire. May constant prayer, detachment from the world, and steady progress in perfection win for us the everlasting happiness of Heaven.

Memes of the Day



Happy Sixth Day of Christmas!

Today is the Sixth Day of Christmas. There is no Saint's Feast today so here is a Christmas Carol.


Friday, 29 December 2017

A Short Hiatus

I will be taking a short break from blogging. We are, God willing, being visited by four of our five children and three of our six grandchildren. One son has already arrived, and we await the imminent arrival of a son, daughter and two grandchildren. If the third son, with his wife and the third grandchild make it, they will arrive tomorrow.

I do have some posts scheduled, and I might get in one or two short ones, however.

Antonio Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day, 29 December

Our Frequent Lapses



1. It is sad to have to admit that, in spite of our good resolutions and in spite of the graces which we receive from God, we continue to fall into sin. Our continual lapses can cause us to become discouraged. This, however, is a device of the devil, who has already lured us into sin and now proceeds to suggest thoughts of despair. He wishes to convince us that resistance is useless, that our nature is completely corrupt, and that there is no escape for us.
“My dear children,” wrote St. John to the early Christians, “these things I write to you in order that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the just; and he is a propitiation for our sins, not for ours only but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2) “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful, and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity.” (1 John 1:9) “He who says that he knows him, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But he who keeps his word, in him the love of God is truly perfected.” (1 John 2:5)
It is clear, therefore, that we ought to avoid sin by every means in our power, because it extinguishes our charity and brings death to the soul. Nevertheless, even if we continue to fall into sin, we should never lose heart. Discouragement and despair are stratagems of the devil. No matter how great and how numerous our sins may be, God is always prepared to pardon them. Let us recall the example of Mary Magdalen, of the repentant thief, and of the prodigal son. As long as we repent sincerely we may be sure that God will forgive us and clasp us to His breast, for God is infinitely merciful.
2. The mercy of God, however, should not provide us with a reason for continuing to fall into sin. On the contrary, it should be a motive for greater gratitude and love. We cannot claim that it is impossible for us to conquer temptation. If we implore God's grace and employ all the means of resistance at our disposal, temptation cannot overcome us.
How often in the past, when we prayed fervently and fought with determination, have we not successfully routed temptation ? Why cannot we do the same again? Then we shall have interior peace in this life and an everlasting reward in the next. “God is faithful,” St. Paul assures us, “and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)
3. There is a golden rule which we should always remember, as it will be helpful to us in fighting temptation and in resisting discouragement. It is simply this: As long as we implore God's grace and do all we can and ought to do in order to withstand the onslaught of temptation, God will do the rest.
If God nevertheless allows us to fall, this will be in order to humble us and to make us understand more clearly that we can do nothing without Him. When we, fall, moreover, we may be certain that in His infinite goodness He will accept our repentance and forgive us.

Happy Fifth Day of Christmas!

Today is the Fifth Day of Christmas. There is no Saint's Feast today so here is a Christmas Carol.



Memes of the Day



Thursday, 28 December 2017

Mortimer J. Adler, R+I+P!

Today would have been the 115th birthday of the great Aristotelian-Thomist philosopher, Mortimer J. Adler (R+I+P. Please pray for his soul! Memory Eternal!) I was privileged to meet Dr Adler in the 1970s. I asked him why he wasn't a Catholic, given his philosophic interests. He had been raised in a non-believing Jewish household and he told me he wasn't able to make the leap of faith. He finally did, becoming an Anglican because of his wife, and after her death being received into the Catholic Church before his death. I'm sure he and the Angelic Doctor are having some great conversations!

Antonio Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day, 28 December

The Value of an Hour



1. There are twenty-four hours in a day, eight thousand seven hundred and sixty in a year. How have you spent all the hours which God has given you in the past? How do you intend to use the hours which He will give you in the future?
When you examine the past, you will find much to regret. Perhaps you have spent many hours in sin, in idle gossip, in useless or dangerous pastimes, or in innumerable business transactions, all of which will contribute nothing towards your eternal salvation, which should be your main concern in life.
How much time have you spent thinking of God, your Creator and Redeemer? How many hours have you devoted to prayer, thanksgiving, and penance? How many have you spent in apostolic work on behalf of your neighbour? It may be that the service of God and your spiritual welfare have so far been the least of your worries, on which you have expended no more than the few odd moments left over from your other preoccupations. You are well aware, nevertheless, that the purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God. You know that you ought to offer Him all your thoughts, affections, and actions, for He alone can make you happy.
2. This does not mean, of course, that we are obliged to spend all our hours engaged either in prayer or in penance or in apostolic work. God does not demand this much. The bow which is extended too far will snap. We need rest, sleep, and recreation. But the most pleasant hours should be those which we dedicate to the love and service of God. The hours, moreover, which we devote to our work, rest, or enjoyment, should be spent in the presence of God. From time to time we should think of Him and speak to Him. We should love also to interweave our conversations in a natural manner with spiritual reflections for the edification of our neighbour.
3. Let us now contemplate the fact that our eternity can depend on a single hour. Within an hour the repentant thief was converted and gained Heaven. In one hour Mary Magdalen, St. Paul, and many other Saints finally yielded to the grace of God and set out on the road to sanctity. There are vital hours in our lives, too. It will be disastrous for us if we ever let the hour of grace slip away neglected. Let us listen when God calls us and let us be generous with Him as He has been infinitely generous towards us. If we behave in this manner, we need never fear the hour of death. It will still be the hour on which our eternity depends, but it will be an eternity of everlasting happiness.

Her Majesty's Christmas Message

I just got round to watching it. It brought tears to my eyes as she mentioned that young woman 60 years ago. Her reference to 'platinum anniversary' not being invented when she was born because people weren't expected to live long enough to be married 70 years was poignant. I was born just a few months before she and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh were married. My first memory outside my family is of 6 February 1952 when we heard that the King was dead and she was now Queen. She is the only Monarch I have known.

One of the proudest moments of my life was when I swore the (Canadian) Oath of Allegiance to her before a Commisioner of Oaths on 19 October 2007, ranking with my wedding day and the births of my children, And I told her so in my letter congratulating her on her 70th wedding anniversary. May God grant her many more years!

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!



Happy Fourth Day of Christmas!

Today is the Fourth Day of Christmas. It is also the Feast of the Holy Innocents, all the male children under the age of two, in Bethlehem and its surrounding district, who were killed on the orders of King Herod, in hope of killing the Messias.



The Massacre of the Innocents, by
Peter Paul Rubens

The record from the Gospel According to St Matthew, Chapter 2,

16 Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying:
18 A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.




Here is the reading used at Matins today, from the Sermons of St. Augustine, Bishop,

Dearly beloved brethren, today we keep the birthday of those children, who, as we are informed by the Gospel, were massacred by the savage King Herod. Therefore let earth rejoice with exceeding joy, for she is the mother of these heavenly soldiers, and of this numerous host. The love of the vile Herod could never have crowned these blessed ones as hath his hatred. For the Church testifieth by this holy solemnity, that whereas iniquity did specially abound against these little saints, so much the more were heavenly blessings poured out upon them.

Blessed art thou, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, which hast suffered the cruelty of King Herod in the slaughter of thy children; who art found worthy to offer at once to God a whole white-robed army of guileless martyrs! Surely, it is well to keep their birth-day, even that blessed birthday which gave them from earth to heaven, more blessed than the day that brought them out of their mother's womb. Scarcely had they entered on the life that now is, when they obtained that glorious life which is to come.

We praise the death of other martyrs because it was the crowning act of an undaunted and persistent testimony; but these were crowned at once. He That maketh an end to this present life, gave to them at its very gates that eternal blessedness which we hope for at its close. They whom the wickedness of Herod tore from their mothers' breasts are rightfully called the flowers of martyrdom; hardly had these buds of the Church shown their heads above the soil, in the winter of unbelief, when the frost of persecution nipped them.



Innocent is a not uncommon name in religion. There have been thirteen Popes named Innocent from Pope Innocent I, who reigned from Ad 401 to AD 417 to Pope Innocent XIII, whose reign lasted from AD 1721 to AD 1724. The Orthodox, as well, use the name, as is shown by St Innocent of Alaska, born Ivan Evseyevich Popov.




Here is the Coventry Carol for the Feast Day. It dates from the 16th century in Coventry, Englsnd, where it was sung in mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors.



Memes of the Day





Wednesday, 27 December 2017

New Computers!

May God richly reward my Cuter and Shorter Half! My Kindle died a few weeks ago, leaving me with only my laptop and my smart phone. Then, as I posted a couple of days ago, my laptop bit the dust. I can blog on my phone, but it is quite difficult, so I posted a warning that posts might be few and far between.

Yesterday she expressed concern that a package she was expecting had not arrived. She said she had paid for expedited shipping, and let slip that she had done so because she does not have Amazon Prime. This lit a light bulb above my head, because I do have Prime. The only reason that she would pay for expedited shipping from Amazon is if it was something she didn't want me to know of!

So her package arrived today. After supper, she opened it and handed me a brand new Kindle Fire HD 8 (7th Generation)! As I was thanking her for that, she handed me a larger box, which was plainly labeled as containing an Acer laptop computer.

So now, thanks to her generosity, I have a computer and a Kindle, both of which are easier to blog on than my phone.

Be warned! The Old Curmudgeon is back!

The Lost Condemnations of Capitalism

An excellent article on how the Social Magisterium of the Church opposes materialistic hyper-capitalism just as much as it opposes left-wing collectivism.


As many know, when the Second Vatican Council assembled in 1962 the preparatory commissions established by Pope John XXIII had already prepared draft schemas which, it was assumed, would be simply ratified by the Council with little ado. Sadly this did not happen, and the schemas were rejected and eventually replaced with other documents. Recently, some of these preparatory schemas were translated into English and made available on the Internet. These schemas and parts of schemas have been entitled fittingly, The Lost Condemnations of Communism of Vatican II as they deal with atheistic communism and methods to combat it.

Today communism seems like merely an historical incident. Many people alive today have no memory of communism as an active menace or political movement. But at the time the Council assembled, communism posed a serious threat, a powerful ideological and political movement backed by a nuclear superpower, one which already controlled large parts of Europe and Asia, and was actively seeking to expand everywhere in the world. Although the threat of a communist takeover in the United States was exaggerated in the 1950s, in western Europe powerful Communist parties existed, and it was by no means certain that France or Italy would not elect communist governments.
Thus it was certainly not an anachronism or an instance of hysteria that documents on communism and its dangers should be prepared for the upcoming council. While this should surprise no one, what might surprise those unfamiliar with the body of social teachings of the Church is that the schemas on communism make it clear that while communism is directly opposed to Catholic faith and morals, a capitalist economy is likewise opposed to Catholic doctrine, and at bottom for the same reason: materialist atheism.
The chief passage in the schemas dealing with capitalism deserves to be quoted in full:
While Marxism, which Pope Pius XII personally reprobates and condemns, is the most grave form of materialism and the one most hostile toward the Christian faith, it is yet not the only form of modern materialism. In this day, there are many men who, although they openly profess themselves to be Christians, passively consent to the daily course of events, identify human happiness with technological and economic progress, covet riches, strive to construct a world based on them, and gradually withdraw themselves from God, whom they remove little by little from their own lives. This practical materialism to a greater extent infects those who refuse to manifest the social doctrine of the Church, decline to recognize the rights of the poor and the weak, offend against social justice, and refuse to prevent open and unjust inequalities or at least to diminish them. All of these undoubtedly open the way to every kind of perverse doctrine.
Marxist materialism cannot be properly combated if these other forms of materialism are not likewise openly rejected; nor can there be any hope whatsoever of someday eliminating Marxist atheism from the world and from the heart of man, while the latter is given over to some other form of materialism, to that, indeed, which is undergirded by a so-called “capitalist” economic regime, and is promoted by the same, and is pervasive in the daily life of man.
Anyone who is familiar with the papal social encyclicals, especially Quadragesimo Anno and Divini Redemptoris of Pius XI or Centesimus Annus of St. John Paul II, will have read numerous similar passages, and will know that while always stridently opposing communism, the Catholic Church has never accepted the logic of capitalism or of free-market economics, and that although communism is a false and harmful ideology, the popes were aware that those who supported it were “sometimes moved by an impulse against injustices which we have received in our day as an inheritance from an unjust economic regime,” as one of the schemas notes.
In addition to what I have already quoted, there is another section in the Vatican II preparatory schemas that deserves our attention. It reads as follows:
The clergy and religious should not be prohibited from rightly and prudently seeking the resources of wealthy or powerful men and applying them to the fulfillment of acts of divine worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, but they are to most diligently beware lest they become altogether subject to such people in any way, or seem to be so; among people of more humble means the Church is more often accused of being the instrument in the hands of those who have control of the economic or civil or political power.
Recently a rich Catholic by the name of Tim Busch, who runs a chain of hotels in California, has proclaimed, in open opposition to the repeated teaching of a long line of popes, that there is no need to pay just wages. He asserts
that it is the job that is essential, and the pay secondary. Once people are working, they can acquire additional skills or be promoted from within to earn higher pay. But the minimum wage can eliminate them from having any opportunity to work in the first place.
I discussed elsewhere the gross ethical and economic violations that Mr. Busch is engaged in. Likely he would pay his hotel workers even less than he does now if only those pesky minimum wage laws didn’t get in his way.
It is hardly rare in our day for Catholics to openly contradict Catholic social doctrine or to pay sweatshop wages. What makes Mr. Busch different is that in conjunction with one of the Koch brothers and some others, he recently bought himself a school of business and economics at Catholic University in Washington. When I say “bought himself,” I mean the school is now named after him and his wife, and is ex professo dedicated to promoting the sorts of ideas that Mr. Busch and his fellow rich folks find gratifying—and profitable too, no doubt, all under the veil of “working to reduce poverty through prosperity,” and of a “virtue-based free enterprise to lift the human person and transform the culture of business.”
This is the language that has been peddled for some decades now, and is more accurately known as “trickle-down economics”. It is not the language found in the social teachings of the Church. One wonders how the minimum-wage employees of Mr. Busch’s hotels will achieve their prosperity or how whatever personal virtue he himself may have will lift those employees of his trying to live on a minimum wage. I do not doubt but that if Mr. Busch and his political allies have their way, they will abolish the minimum wage entirely. After all the “minimum wage is an anti-market regulation that leads to unemployment,” so he says. But if Mr. Busch doesn’t like being compelled to pay a certain wage by law, let him generously pay his employees higher wages with no compulsion by the state and show by his actions that he has those virtues that his school claims to teach.
“The clergy and religious … are to most diligently beware lest they become altogether subject to such [wealthy] people in any way, or seem to be so….” Catholic University is controlled by the U.S. bishops. Are they aware, do they care, that a part of their university has become “altogether subject to such people,” and openly promotes a social philosophy that has been condemned by pontiff after pontiff?
Do they care that this latest victory by the forces of neoliberalism makes it appear as if the Catholic Church is simply on the side of the rich? Do they care that they are thereby contributing to the alienation of our contemporaries from the Church, from religion altogether?
The tradition of Catholic social thought, of which these schemas are merely one example, was hard-hitting in its indictment of the commercial society created by capitalism, of its ideals, its motivations, its attempted justifications. But this has been largely forgotten today as Catholics have thrown away their own identity and embraced one or another of our secular cultural-political blocs, that is, conservatives or liberals, on the surface bitter enemies, but both in truth ideological descendants of the classical liberalism of John Locke.
If there is to be any hope of restoring Catholic identity and discipline, then in addition to such vital matters as the liturgy or catechetics, the question of the Church’s social doctrine must be an important part of our efforts at Catholic renewal and restoration. Far from being an optional or questionable part of Catholic teaching, it is simply the application of the Gospel to the social order. Without it, the Catholic faith becomes a mere matter of personal morality and the social and political order is given over to the Devil. But our Lord came to redeem us both individually and socially, and we will be false to him and to his teachings if we fail to work and to pray for what Pius XI called “Reconstructing the Social Order and Perfecting It Conformably to the Precepts of the Gospel.” This is simply a command for us; we have no choice.