31 May 2022

The Fonts of Morality

Lesson Three in Principles of the Moral Life, with Fr Thomas Petri, OP, BA, STB, STL, STD, Assistant Professor of Moral Theology and Pastoral Studies and President of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception.

“The question [of morality] is not so much about rules to be followed but about the full meaning of life... This question is ultimately an appeal to the absolute Good which attracts us and beckons us; it is the echo of a call from God who is the origin and goal of man’s life.” - Pope St. John Paul II

Off the Menu: Episode 233 - Do the Locomotion

Topics include Memorial Day, Roe v. Wade, and John Paul II.

0:00 Intro 10:00 Memorial Day 18:00 California 25:00 Calendar 29:00 Election Day 37:00 Memes of Production 57:00 State of the Week: New Jersey 1:09:00 French vs Italian Cooking 1:13:00 Men's Style of Clothing 1:11:30 Roe vs Wade 1:25:00 Fitness & the Faith 1:31:00 JPII

The Angelic Doctor Against the Errors of the Greeks - Chapter 30

How the assertion that faith is not ministered to us by angels is to be understood.

A further difficulty centers on Athanasius’ assertion that “faith is given us neither by angels nor by signs and wonders,” Footnote whereas in Hebrews 2:4 it is said that faith was proclaimed, God bearing witness by signs and wonders.

But our faith is to be understood as deriving its authority not from angels nor from any miracles worked, but from the revelation of the Father through the Son and the Holy Spirit; although angels also revealed some matters pertaining to our faith to certain persons, such as Zachary and Mary and Joseph, Footnote and many miracles were also worked to strengthen the faith.

The 150 Points of the Phalange, Catholic, Royal, and Communitarian - Point 32

Point 32. Against the Universalism of Maritain

Impatience with the world’s religious divisions and with the Church’s too narrow confines, produces damaging effects that are comparable to the progressivists’ impatience with the slowness of history and the Church’s longstanding imperfections.

1. To certain large-hearted moderns, of whom Jacques Maritain is typical, the unity and catholicity of mediaeval and classical Christendom – still as yet obscured and damaged by the Protestant Reformation – appeared too narrow, too intolerant, and ultimately unworthy of the Holy Spirit, who cannot be confined to such a ghetto nor stopped by any barrier! They therefore advocated “ a new Christendom ”, one which would have greater breadth, openness, and universality by not being “ sacral ” but “ profane ”. Instead of being the King of kings and the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ would be the servant of the world, and that incognito. Instead of presiding over the world as its “ mother and mistress ”, the Church would merely be its servant, offering her Gospel as a discreet leaven, anonymous and invisible, in the dough of a pagan world.

2. This immense mutation – willed by the Spirit, announced by the signs of the times, and demanded by the modern world – would be accomplished by a “ quiet revolution ”. Instead of being founded on faith in God and subject to the Roman Church, this new Christendom would be founded on faith in man, the basis of modern civilisation, and governed by a world democratic assembly. Christ’s Gospel, transposed into neutral terms, would correspond to the common denominator of all the ideologies and beliefs, formerly in competition but now convergent: the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Declericalised and secularised, Christendom would become the universal organisation of peoples, yesterday’s League of Nations and today’s United Nations Organisation, galvanising the peoples’ energies and their feeling of solidarity through the ideal of a world democracy, respectful of the dignity, liberty and equality of all men.

3. The Phalangist rejects this fantasy straightaway. He smells the blasphemy in it. He sees a very thinly disguised apostasy in this bold substitution of the cult of man for the cult of God at the centre and summit of this so-called new Christendom. The Church is dragged down by the dethronement of her Spouse. As the soul of sacred Christendom, we behold her violently despoiled of her social historical body and prostituted to new masters, amongst whom international judaeo-freemasonry can be recognised in the front line.

Maritain’s Integral Humanism is a truly dark and satanic adventure which, together with Father Congar’s reformism, has become the second driving force of the conciliar and postconciliar subversion of Pope Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council.

The Church As Culture

'If Christian culture is to be renewed, habits are more vital than revivals, rituals more edifying than spiritual high.' A great essay!

From First Things (April 2004)

By Robert Louis Wilken

Last spring on a trip to Erfurt, the medieval university town in Germany famous for its Augustinian cloister in which Martin Luther was ordained to the priesthood, I learned that only twenty percent of its population professed adherence to Christianity. In fact, when the topic of religion came up in a conversation with a young woman in a hotel lounge, and I asked her whether she was a member of a church, she replied without hesitation: Ich bin Heide—“I am a heathen.”

It is hardly surprising to discover pagans in the heart of Western Europe where Christianity once flourished: a steep decline in the number of Christians has been underway for generations, even centuries. What surprised me was the absence of embarrassment in her use of the term “heathen.” She did not say that she no longer went to church or that she was not a believer. For her, Christianity, no doubt the religion of her grandparents if not her parents, was simply not on the horizon. I remembered that two days earlier my train had stopped at Fulda, where St. Boniface, the apostle to the Germans, is buried. Boniface had gone to Germany to convert the heathen, and in a spectacular and courageous gesture he felled the sacred oak at Geismar. The astonished onlookers soon hearkened to Boniface’s preaching and received baptism. It would seem that if Christianity is ever to flourish again in the land between the Rhine and the Elbe, a new Boniface will have to appear to fell the sacred oaks of European secularism.

Yet what made an even deeper impression on me in Europe was the debate over the preface to the new constitution of the European Union. I was living in Italy at the time and had been following the discussion in the Italian press. All the nations of the EU are historically Christian, and the very idea of Europe was the work of Christian civilization. The Carolingians, Christian kings, first brought together the peoples west and the east of the Rhine to form a political alliance, with the blessing of the bishop of Rome. The story of Europe is a spiritual drama impelled by religious convictions, not by geography, economics, or technology. Yet the framers of the EU constitution refuse even to mention the name of Christianity in its preface. While readily acknowledging the inheritance of pagan Greece and Rome, and even the Enlightenment, Europe’s political-bureaucratic elites have chosen to excise any mention of Christianity from Europe’s history. Not only have they excluded Christianity from a role in Europe’s future; they have banished it from Europe’s past. One wonders whether the new Europe, uprooted from its Christian soil, will continue to promote the spiritual values that have made Western Civilization unique.

Talking to the young woman in Erfurt and listening in on the debate about the EU constitution I found myself musing on the future of Christian culture. In my lifetime we have witnessed the collapse of Christian civilization. At first the process of disintegration was slow, a gradual and persistent attrition, but today it has moved into overdrive, and what is more troubling, it has become deliberate and intentional, not only promoted by the cultured despisers of Christianity but often aided and abetted by Christians themselves.

Take, for example, the calendar. I am not thinking primarily of Santa displacing the Christ child or the Easter Bunny replacing the Resurrection; nor do I mean the transfer of festivals that fall in midweek (e.g., Epiphany or Pentecost or All Saints) to the nearest Sunday. I mean the dramatic, wholesale evacuation of Sunday as a holy day. At eleven o’clock on Sunday morning at Home Depot or Lowe’s the lines of folks with cans of paint, two-by-fours, and joint cement stretch almost as far as they do on a Saturday morning. The only lingering difference between Sunday and other days of the week is that the malls open later and close earlier. The churches, particularly the bishops of the Catholic Church, were complicit in the desacralization of Sunday as a holy day when they introduced late Saturday afternoon liturgies, called Vigil Masses. A more fitting name would be McMasses. The faithful can fulfill their obligation by slipping into church for a half hour or so on Saturday afternoon and then have Sunday to themselves without the pesky inconvenience of getting the family up for Mass.

Of course, one might retort that in the United States (unlike in Europe) the churches are flourishing and the number of Christians is growing. Yes, there are many Christians in the U.S., but can we still claim to be a Christian society? If one uses any measure other than individual adherence (what people say if asked) or even church attendance, it is undeniable that the influence of Christianity on the life and mores of our society is on the wane. And the decline is likely to continue. Which leads to a question: Can Christian faith—no matter how enthusiastically proclaimed by evangelists, how ably expounded by theologians and philosophers, or how cleverly translated into the patois of the intellectual class by apologists—be sustained for long without the support of a nurturing Christian culture? By culture, I do not mean high culture (Bach’s B-Minor Mass, Caravaggio’s The Calling of St. Matthew); I mean the “total harvest of thinking and feeling,” to use T. S. Eliot’s phrase—the pattern of inherited meanings and sensibilities encoded in rituals, law, language, practices, and stories that can order, inspire, and guide the behavior, thoughts, and affections of a Christian people.

When one understands culture in this way, the classical distinction between Christ and culture, popularized in H. Richard Niebuhr’s 1950s book by that title, gives us little help. Some have observed, accurately in my view, that one difficulty with his analysis is that “culture” is really another term for “world,” the unredeemed territory in which human beings live. For Niebuhr the question is how the gospel, Christ, can penetrate the world, culture, without losing its distinctive character.

It seems to me, however, that the deficiency with the Christ-and-Culture scheme lies not in Niebuhr’s understanding of culture but in his view of Christ. For Niebuhr, Christ is a theological idea, and most of his book is taken up by an analysis of Christian thinkers who illustrate five basic types of the relation between this theological idea and culture. Niebuhr is largely silent about the actual historical experience of the Church, about culture on the ground, about institutions such as the episcopacy and the papacy (there is no mention of Gregory VII and the investiture controversy), monasticism, civil and canon law, calendar, and the ordering of civic space (the church standing on the central city square). But Christ entered history as a community, a society, not simply as a message, and the form taken by the community’s life is Christ within society. The Church is a culture in its own right. Christ does not simply infiltrate a culture; Christ creates culture by forming another city, another sovereignty with its own social and political life.

With these admittedly sketchy observations in mind, let me turn to three moments in the Church’s history to illustrate how Christ becomes culture and endures as culture.

By the middle of the second century, Christians were beginning to be known in the Roman world, but they did not bear the marks usually associated with a distinctive community. In the oft-cited passage from the so-called Epistle to Diognetus (it is really an apology), Christians are distinguished from others not by nationality, language, or by custom. They do not have their own cities, and their way of life is inconspicuous. It was known that Christians honored Christ as God, refused to venerate the gods and goddesses of Greece and Rome, and gathered regularly for a ritual meal. Yet there was little else to identify them. They met in the homes of the wealthier members; they used in their worship the language of the city in which they dwelled; they owned no land; they had no temples (in fact, no buildings at all), no cemeteries of their own, and no religious calendar. The bishop was not a public personage and the Church, as a social entity, was invisible.

Take, for example, the earliest Christian art. If a Christian living in 200 a.d. wished to have an object in his home that gave artistic expression to Christian belief, what might it be? He would go to a craftsman and select a lamp stamped with a conventional symbol that could yield a Christian interpretation: a dove, a fish, a ship, an anchor, or a shepherd carrying a lamb. When placed in a Christian home, a symbol which had one meaning to the Romans was invested with a Christian meaning: the dove for gentleness; the fish for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior; the shepherd for philanthropia or Christ the good shepherd. In buying and displaying objects such as lamps or rings or seals, Christians created the first Christian art (of which we have knowledge), but what the symbols represented lay in the eyes of the beholder, not in the object. As far as Roman society was concerned Christianity was invisible.

At the beginning of the third century, however, Christians in Rome took a bold stride. They pooled their resources to purchase a plot of land on the Via Appia Antica outside the city; there they constructed an underground burial chamber and commissioned artists to decorate the walls and ceilings with frescoes. A Roman Christian by the name of Callistus, who later became bishop of Rome, oversaw the construction, which today is known as the Catacomb of St. Callistus. Only a few of the paintings have survived, but the catacomb itself is largely intact. It is not simply a few burial niches, but a vast underground cemetery with chapels, ceiling and wall decorations, and paintings that depict persons and stories from the Bible. Its construction represents an organized effort (diggers, designers, plasterers, painters) on the part of the Christian community in Rome to create a distinctively Christian space. The catacombs were not hideouts during persecution; they were burial grounds and places of worship, and their location was not secret. When Christians buried their dead or went to the catacomb to celebrate the Eucharist their activities were evident to their fellow citizens.

The construction of a Christian catacomb required planning and money to choose the layout and décor and to pay the workmen. Most of the rooms are square, allowing for a symmetrical design to be imprinted on a ceiling of white plaster. The ceiling generally has a painted medallion at the apex to highlight a prominent image. In some rooms the figure of a young shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders occupies this central medallion. Other images portray the figure of Orpheus (understood as Christ) holding his lyre and surrounded by animals (Christ, unlike Orpheus, tames even the wildest of beasts, the human being, said Clement of Alexandria), Daniel as a heroic nude, and Jonah being cast overboard. The form of the images is familiar from Roman art, but by putting them together with wall paintings—Abraham with Isaac, Moses striking the rock in the desert, Daniel in the lion’s den, and Jesus being baptized in the Jordan—these Roman Christians created a uniquely Christian sanctuary.

What the Christians undertook on the Via Appia Antica was being done by other Christian communities at about the same time. As the art historian Corby Finney has observed, “A cultural event of some importance was taking place,” and we can see here a “transition from models of accommodation and adaptation that were materially invisible to a new level of Christian identity that was palpable and visible.” For the first time Christians were beginning to create a “material culture,” something that is tangible, occupies space, is public (though underground), and is distinctively Christian.

The Christians who planned and built this catacomb had given as much thought to their undertaking as bishops and philosophers had invested in defending the faith, expounding the Scriptures, or meeting the arguments of critics. Significantly, Christian culture first takes material shape in connection with caring for and remembering the dead. Memory, especially of the faithful departed, is a defining mark of Christian identity. The living joined their prayers with the saints’ prayers, which, according to the book of Revelation, were “golden bowls full of incense.” In organizing the community to construct a burial place and in decorating it with pictures depicting biblical stories, Christians were fashioning a communal public identity that would endure over the generations. As the Apostles’ Creed has it (in its earliest meaning), “I believe in communion with the saints.” Their aim was not to communicate the gospel to an alien culture but to nurture the Church’s inner life.

Asecond moment at which we see Christ becoming culture comes from a later period, and here the idiom is not space but time, the creation of a Christian calendar. Theologians and biblical scholars have made much of the New Testament understanding of kairos, the time when something decisive is to happen, an extraordinary moment long awaited. “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). But there is another kind of time, the marking of days and seasons. For the earliest Christians there was only one day, the day of the resurrection celebrated each time the community gathered, normally on Sunday. Already in the book of Revelation there is mention of the “Lord’s Day,” the Kyriake Hemera (Revelation 1:10) and in the Didache we hear of the “Day of the Lord” (Didache 14). By the middle of the second century, Christians had begun to celebrate a yearly festival, the Paschal Feast (death and resurrection of Christ) that began with a vigil on Saturday evening and continued through the night until the morning.

Over time other feasts were added. Christmas had begun to be observed in Rome in the middle of the fourth century. The Chronograph of Rome, a kind of calendar compiled for Roman Christians around the same time, lists Roman holidays, burial dates of Roman bishops and martyrs, and the birth of Christ, all in calendrical, not historical, order. “On the eighth day of the calends of January Christ was born in Bethlehem in Judea.” Christmas was soon complemented by the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, forty days after his birth. Ascension and Pentecost became fixed days. The Christian year was organized into two major cycles, one centered on Christ’s birth, the other on his suffering, death, and resurrection. Like the earliest (and later) Christian art, the liturgical year (as we now call it) had a narrative shape drawn from the Scriptures, particularly the Gospels. Through ritual it imprinted the biblical narrative on the minds and hearts of the faithful, not simply as a matter of private devotion but as a fully public act setting the rhythm of communal life.

At the beginning of the third century, Christians were less than one percent of the Roman empire’s population of some sixty million. By 300 a.d., there may have been six million Christians in the empire, but by mid-century the number had risen to over thirty million, about half of the total population. This rapid growth, with the conversion of the emperor Constantine to Christianity and his vigorous program of building churches, changed public practice. Significantly, the Christian calendar became a civic calendar. In 321 Constantine made Sunday a public holiday. It is shallow and petulant to rail against the political aspects of Constantinianism while ignoring the efforts of Christians of ancient times to stamp the face of Christ upon their society, in the ordering of time, in architecture, and in law (e.g., prohibiting the exposure of infants, a traditional form of “birth control”). The purpose of making Sunday into a holy day was to provide time for Christians to attend public worship, but it had the secondary effect of making Sunday a day of leisure, thereby laying the groundwork for a Christian Sabbath.

It should also be remembered that the success of Christianity also altered the marking of historical time. Dionysius Exiguus, a Scythian monk in the sixth century, was the first to date events “from the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Anno Dominia.d.). His scheme was adopted in the seventh century in England at the Synod of Whitby and was used by the Venerable Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

To the calendrical framework of Christmas, Presentation, Pasch, Ascension, and Pentecost were added special days remembering the martyrs and saints. Over time, the turning points in the year—the changing of seasons, the planting and harvesting of crops, the slaughtering of animals—took place on days named for saints or for events in the life of Christ.

The liturgical calendar makes religious remembrance habitual and familiar. The repetition of saints’ days and festivals of the Lord is a kind of spiritual metronome helping communal life to move in concord with the mysteries of the faith.

We should not underestimate the cultural significance of the calendar and its indispensability for a mature spiritual life. Religious rituals carry a resonance of human feeling accumulated over the centuries. They cannot easily be created and are hard to recover once left to languish. They touch us more deeply than national commemorations, such as the Fourth of July or Memorial Day. The season of Advent, for example, is a predictable reminder that the Church lives by another time, marked in the home by a simple ritual, the lighting of a violet Advent candle set in an evergreen wreath on a dark evening in early December.

Because feast days and sacred seasons run at right angles to the conventional calendar they offer a regular and fixed cessation of activity and, thus, the gift of leisure (a sine qua non of culture, as Josef Pieper has taught us). Feast days become times of reflection and contemplation that open us to mystery and transcendence. How soon, wrote W. H. Auden, “must we reenter, when lenient days are done, the world of work and money and minding our p’s and q’s.”

Athird mode in which Christianity formed its own culture is language. In his magisterial Saint Augustin et la fin de la culture antique, historian Henri Marrou describes the grammatical and rhetorical milieu in which Augustine was educated in the Roman Empire of the late fourth century; he reports that in Augustine’s day educated Christians were the beneficiaries of an educational system that had been in place for hundreds of years. When Augustine wrote his treatise On Christian Doctrine (an essay on interpreting and expounding the Scriptures), he could assume that his readers knew Latin grammar and the standard rhetorical techniques.

But a hundred years later such knowledge could no longer be taken for granted. Few cities could any longer meet the expense of paying teachers and maintaining schools. Beginning in the sixth century a number of distinguished educators emerged in the Church, persons such as Boethius, Cassiodorus, Benedict of Nursia, Isidore of Seville, and the Venerable Bede. Their task was not, as Augustine’s had been, to transform what had been received; it was, rather, to preserve and transmit what was being forgotten or to translate what could no longer be read. Christianity now assumed responsibility for managing the mechanisms of the Latin language.

Cassiodorus was born in 485 to a southern Italian senatorial family. During his middle years he served in the court of the Ostrogothic kings of Italy, putting his literary talents to work compiling edicts and official letters and recording notable events. When he was seventy years old he returned home and founded a monastery at Squillace on the southernmost coast of Italy. There he moved his library and gathered a company of scholars to make copies of the Scriptures and the classics of Latin Christian literature, to translate Greek works, and to write a compendium of Christian and secular learning.

Cassiodorus’s compendium is markedly different from the writings of Augustine, Ambrose, or Jerome. Its chief purpose was to provide his readers with elementary instruction in “divine letters.” So Cassiodorus begins with a listing of the books of the Bible, the order and division of the books, how they are to be interpreted, and brief comments on Christian teachers, such as Hilary, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Jerome. But then one comes upon a chapter entitled, “On Scribes and the Remembering of Correct Spelling.” In the second part of the book, on “secular letters,” he devotes a section to grammar, which he calls “the foundation of liberal studies.” His aim was to transmit the basic skills of grammar and rhetoric for the purpose of copying the Scriptures accurately, because “every word of the Lord written by the scribe is a wound inflicted on Satan.” When Cassiodorus was ninety years old he wrote On Orthography, a spelling handbook for his copyists. (The Latin letters v and b were particularly troublesome to copyists who worked by ear.)

Another writer known almost wholly for his grammatical, linguistic, and encyclopedic studies is the Spanish bishop Isidore of Seville. Though not a thinker of the first rank, he is comfortably seated in the second. (Dante places him in the fourth heaven, along with the Venerable Bede and Richard of St. Victor.) Born into the landed gentry of Cartagena, he was educated in a monastic school in Seville under the supervision of his brother Leander, who was the bishop of Seville. In 600 he succeeded his brother as bishop and subsequently had a profound influence on the liturgy and laws of the Spanish Church.

Isidore’s Etymologies is an immense encyclopedia, an attempt to summarize all knowledge by drawing on the vast reservoir of classical writers, and his Liber differentiarum sive de proprietate sermonum deals with the meanings of words and the distinctions one must make to use them correctly (something like a Fowler’s Modern English Usage).

Isidore recognized that grammar, “the science of expressing oneself correctly,” is crucial not only for reading, writing, and speaking, but also for thinking and understanding. Grammar is knowledge of the way language works and of the rules that govern the relation of words and concepts. Without grammar there can be no transmission of the text of the Scriptures and no understanding of its content; hence, no grammar, no Christian culture.

Culture lives by language, and the sentiments, thoughts, and feelings of a Christian culture are formed and carried by the language of the Scriptures. St. Augustine, for instance, believed that there was a distinctively Christian language, what he called the Church’s way of speaking (ecclesiastica loquendi consuetudo). He considered the term “martyr” (witness) to be a word sanctioned by the Bible (notably in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles) and hallowed by early Christian usage. It would be “contrary to the usage of the Church,” said Augustine, to replace it with the conventional Latin term for hero, virSalvator (savior) is also a biblical word with pronounced Christian overtones: natus est vobis hodie Salvator, qui est Christus Dominus. In conventional Latin salus meant health, not salvation. Christians, however, coined the words salvare (to save) and salvator (savior); in doing so they began to create a Christian language formed by the Scriptures.

There are some words and phrases in Christian culture that are simply irreplaceable. Words and phrases such as “obedience,” “grace,” “long-suffering” (the biblical form of patience), “image of God,” “suffering servant,” “adoption,” “will of God”—when used again and again—form our imagination and channel our affections. The recitation of the psalms day after day, week after week, transforms the words of the psalmists from texts to be interpreted into words we use to praise, beseech, confess, thank, and adore God—as well as words by which we know ourselves before God, “O Lord, Thou has searched me and known me! . . . Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether.”

If there is a distinctly Christian language, we must be wary of translation. We cannot hand on to the next generation what the words signify if we do not hold fast to the words. Jerusalem cannot become Paris or Moscow or New York without losing its rootedness in the biblical narrative. Certain words must be used as they have been received in Christian speech, e.g., “Father,” “Son,” “Holy Spirit,” “Lord” (as in “Lord, have mercy”), “glory” (as used in the Gospel of John for Christ’s passion), “sin” (“against thee only have I sinned”), “emptied” (as in “emptied himself taking the form of a servant”), “resurrection” (as in “raised from the dead on the third day”), “flesh” (as in “works of the flesh,” i.e., mental acts such as idolatry and jealousy, not only sins of the body, such as fornication), even “self” (as in the parable of the elder brother—“he came to himself”). It will not do to erase the term “self” and put in its place “came to his senses,” as the current Catholic lectionary has it; nor will it do to reword, out of ignorance and ideology, the first verse of Psalm 1, turning “blessed is the man,” into “blessed are those who” (as the New Revised Standard Version does), thereby excluding the ancient christological reading of the psalm.

Material culture and with it art, calendar and with it ritual, grammar and with it language, particularly the language of the Bible—these are only three of many examples (monasticism would be another) that could be brought forth to exemplify the thick texture of Christian culture, the fullness of life in the community that is Christ’s form in the world.

Nothing is more needful today than the survival of Christian culture, because in recent generations this culture has become dangerously thin. At this moment in the Church’s history in this country (and in the West more generally) it is less urgent to convince the alternative culture in which we live of the truth of Christ than it is for the Church to tell itself its own story and to nurture its own life, the culture of the city of God, the Christian republic. This is not going to happen without a rebirth of moral and spiritual discipline and a resolute effort on the part of Christians to comprehend and to defend the remnants of Christian culture. The unhappy fact is that the society in which we live is no longer neutral about Christianity. The United States would be a much less hospitable environment for the practice of the faith if all the marks of Christian culture were stripped from our public life and Christian behavior were tolerated only in restricted situations.

If Christian culture is to be renewed, habits are more vital than revivals, rituals more edifying than spiritual highs, the creed more penetrating than theological insight, and the celebration of saints’ days more uplifting than the observance of Mother’s Day. There is great wisdom in the maligned phrase ex opere operato, the effect is in the doing. Intention is like a reed blowing in the wind. It is the doing that counts, and if we do something for God, in the doing God does something for us.

The poet Dana Gioia, the current director of the National Endowment for the Arts, puts it nicely in the poem “Autumn Inaugural”:

There will always be those who reject ceremony,
who claim that resolution requires no fanfare,
those who demand the spirit stay fixed
like a desert saint, fed only on faith,
to worship in no temple but the weather.

Gioia acknowledges the point:

Symbols betray us.
They are always more or less than what
is really meant.


But shall there be no
processions by torchlight because we are weak?

Praise to the rituals that celebrate change,
old robes worn for new beginnings,
solemn protocol where the mutable soul,
surrounded by ancient experience,
grows young in the imagination’s white dress.

Because it is not the rituals we honor
but our trust in what they signify, these rites
that honor us as witnesses—whether to watch
lovers swear loyalty in a careless world
or a newborn washed with water and oil.

If Christ is culture, let the sidewalks be lit with fire on Easter Eve, let traffic stop for a column of Christians waving palm branches on a spring morning, let streets be blocked off as the faithful gather for a Corpus Christi procession. Then will others know that there is another city in their midst, another commonwealth, one that has its face, like the faces of angels, turned toward the face of God.

Happy Name Day, Grandma!

Today is the Feast of St Petronilla, the Name Saint of my Grandmother, Nellie Weismiller.

My Grandmother Weismiller was born Pitronella Fredrika Peterson in the village of Ornunga in Västergötland, Sweden, just five months after Alexander Graham Bell 'called' his assistant, saying, 'Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you', the first successful telephonic transmission in history. So, needless to say, she had seen a lot of technological development in her long life!

On 20 July 1969, I was visiting family in Spencer, Iowa. As those of my readers old enough might remember, that was the day that Neil Armstrong took 'One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind', when he stepped on the surface of Luna. I had been fascinated by the space program and the whole concept of space travel since I first read Jules Verne, so I was following the whole thing very closely.

After my visit, I was hitchhiking back to Topeka, KS, where I lived at the time, and I stopped to see my Grandmother on the way. I arrived on 24 July, the day the astronauts of Apollo 11 returned to Terra. We were watching the recovery on TV when I asked her what she thought of men getting to the moon. She shrugged!

I wasn't overly surprised. Within her lifetime, she had seen the development of telephony, the invention of a practical automobile, the aeroplane, the radio, television,  the beginning of the computer age, and sliced bread! The fact that men had made it to the moon and back was not particularly exciting to her.

However, I had mentioned that Colonel Aldrin was of Swedish descent. About ten minutes after I had asked her opinion, she turned to me and said, 'Johnny, you mean there was a Swede on the moon?' The fact that men, in general, had gone into space was no big deal, but the fact that one of her people had gone to the moon was impressive!

She died four years later in a house fire at the age of 97. We buried her in the plot she had bought in 1916 to bury her husband, and under the gravestone that she had engraved, 'Maximilian Weismiller, 1863-1916, Nellie, His Wife, 1876-....'. We had 1973 engraved on it, and there she rests, gone but never forgotten. Rest in Peace, Grandma!

Au Milieu Des Sollicitudes - On the Church and State in France

This extremely ill-advised Encyclical and the 'Rally' to the Satanic Republic, dealt the Church in France a blow from which it has never recovered.

Pope Leo XIII

16 February 1892

To Our Venerable Brothers the Archbishops, Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of France.

To the Bishops and Faithful of France,

Amid the cares of the universal Church We have many times, in the course of Our Pontificate, been pleased to testify Our affection for France and her noble people, and in one of Our Encyclicals, still within the memory of all, We endeavored solemnly to express the innermost feelings of Our soul on this subject. It is precisely this affection that has caused Us to watch with deep interest and then to revolve in Our mind the succession of events, sometimes sad, sometimes consoling, which, of late years, has taken place in your midst.

2. Again, at present, when contemplating the depths of the vast conspiracy that certain men have formed for the annihilation of Christianity in France and the animosity with which they pursue the realization of their design, trampling under foot the most elementary notions of liberty and justice for the sentiment of the greater part of the nation, and of respect for the inalienable rights of the Catholic Church, how can We but be stricken with deepest grief? And when We behold, one after another, the dire consequences of these sinful attacks which conspire to ruin morals, religion, and even political interests, wisely understood, how express the bitterness that overwhelms Us and the apprehensions that beset Us?

3. On the other hand, We feel greatly consoled when We see this same French people increasing its zeal and affection for the Holy See in proportion as that See is abandoned — We should rather say warred with upon earth. Moved by deeply religious and patriotic sentiments, representatives of all the social classes have repeatedly come to Us from France, happy to aid the Church in her incessant needs and eager to ask us for light and counsel, so as to be sure that amid present tribulations they would in nowise deviate from the teachings of the Head of the Faithful. And We, in Our turn, either in writing or by word of mouth, have openly told Our sons what they had a right to demand of their Father, and, far from discouraging them, we have strongly exhorted them to increase their love and efforts in defense of the Catholic faith and likewise of their native land: two duties of paramount importance, and from which, in this life, no man can exempt himself.

4. Now We deem it opportune, nay, even necessary, once again to raise Our voice entreating still more earnestly, We shall not say Catholics only, but all upright and intelligent Frenchmen, utterly to disregard all germs of political strife in order to devote their efforts solely to the pacification of their country. All understand the value of this pacification; all continue to desire it more and more. And We who crave it more than any one, since We represent on earth the God of peace, urge by these present Letters all righteous souls, all generous hearts, to assist Us in making it stable and fruitful.

5. First of all, let us take as a starting-point a well-known truth admitted by all men of good sense and loudly proclaimed by the history of all peoples; namely, that religion, and religion only, can create the social bond; that it alone maintains the peace of a nation on a solid foundation. When different families, without giving up the rights and duties of domestic society, unite under the inspiration of nature, in order to constitute themselves members of another larger family circle called civil society, their object is not only to find therein the means of providing for their material welfare, but, above all, to draw thence the boon of moral improvement. Otherwise society would rise but little above the level of an aggregation of beings devoid of reason, and whose whole life would consist in the satisfaction of sensual instincts. Moreover, without this moral improvement it would be difficult to demonstrate that civil society was an advantage rather than a detriment to man, as man.

6. Now, morality, in man, by the mere fact that it should establish harmony among so many dissimilar rights and duties, since it enters as an element into every human act, necessarily supposes God, and with God, religion, that sacred bond whose privilege is to unite, anteriorly to all other bonds, man to God. Indeed, the idea of morality signifies, above all, an order of dependence in regard to truth which is the light of the mind; in regard to good which is the object of the will; and without truth and good there is no morality worthy of the name. And what is the principal and essential truth, that from which all truth is derived? It is God. What, therefore, is the supreme good from which all other good proceeds? God. Finally, who is the creator and guardian of our reason, our will, our whole being, as well as the end of our life? God; always God. Since, therefore, religion is the interior and exterior expression of the dependence which, in justice, we owe to God. there follows a grave obligation. All citizens are bound to unite in maintaining in the nation true religious sentiment, and to defend it in case of need, if ever, despite the protestations of nature and of history, an atheistical school should set about banishing God from society, thereby surely annihilating the moral sense even in the depths of the human conscience. Among men who have not lost all notion of integrity there can exist no difference of opinion on this point.

7. In French Catholics the religious sentiment should be even deeper and more universal because they have the happiness of belonging to the true religion. If, indeed, religious beliefs were, always and everywhere, given as a basis of the morality of human actions and the existence of all wellordained society, it is evident that the Catholic religion, by the mere fact that it is the true Church of Jesus Christ, possesses, more than any other, the efficacy required for the regulation of life in society and in the individual. Would you have a brilliant example of this? France herself furnishes the same…. In proportion as France progressed in the Christian faith she was seen to rise gradually to the moral greatness which she attained as a political and military power. To the natural generosity of her heart Christian charity came and added an abundant source of new energy; her wonderful activity received still greater impetus from contact with the light that guides and is the pledge of constancy, the Christian faith, which, by the hand of France, traced such glorious pages in the history of mankind. And even to-day does not her faith continue to add new glories to those of the past? We behold France, inexhaustible in her genius and resources, multiplying works of charity at home; we admire her enterprises in foreign lands where, by means of her gold and the labors of her missionaries who work even at the price of their blood, she simultaneously propagates her own renown and the benefits of the Catholic religion. No Frenchman, whatever his convictions in other respects, would dare to renounce glory such as this, for to do so would be to deny his native land.

8. Now the history of a nation reveals in an incontestable way the generating and preserving element of its moral greatness, and should this element ever be missing, neither a superabundance of gold nor even force of arms could save it from moral decadence and perhaps death. Who then but understands that for all Frenchmen professing the Catholic religion the great anxiety should be to insure its preservation, and that with all the more devotedness since in their midst the sects are making Christianity an object of implacable hostility. Therefore, on this ground, they can afford neither indolence of action nor party divisions; the one would bespeak cowardice unworthy of a Christian, the other would bring about disastrous weakness.

9. And now, before going any further, We must indicate a craftily circulated calumny making most odious imputations against Catholics, and even against the Holy See itself. It is maintained that that vigor of action inculcated in Catholics for the defense of their faith has for a secret motive much less the safeguarding of their religious interests than the ambition of securing to the Church political domination over the State. Truly this is the revival of a very ancient calumny, as its invention belongs to the first enemies of Christianity. Was it not first of all formulated against the adorable person of the Redeemer? Yes, when He illuminated souls by His preaching and alleviated the corporal or spiritual sufferings of the unfortunate with the treasures of His divine bounty, he was accused of having political ends in view. “We have found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he is Christ, the king[1]. If thou release this man, thou are not Caesar’s friend. For whomsoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar…. We have no king but Caesar.”[2]

10. It was these threatening calumnies which drew from Pilate the sentence of death against Him whom he had repeatedly declared innocent. And the authors of these lies, or of others of equal strength, omitted nothing that would aid their emissaries in propagating them far and wide; and thus did St. Justin, martyr, rebuke the Jews of his time: “Far from repenting when you had learned of His resurrection from the dead, you sent to Jerusalem shrewdly chosen men to announce that a heresy and an impious sect had been started by a certain seducer called Jesus of Galilee.”[3]

11. In so audaciously defaming Christianity its enemies know well what they did; their plan was to raise against its propagation a formidable adversary, the Roman Empire. The calumny made headway; and in their credulity the pagans called the first Christians “useless creatures, dangerous citizens, factionists, enemies of the Empire and the Emperors.”[4] But in vain did the apologists of Christianity by their writings, and Christians by their splendid conduct, endeavor to demonstrate the absurdity and criminality of these qualifications: they were not heeded. Their very name was equivalent to a declaration of war; and Christians, by the mere fact of their being such, and for no other reason, were forced to choose between apostasy and martyrdom, being allowed no alternative. During the following centuries the same grievances and the same severity prevailed to a greater or less extent, whenever governments were unreasonably jealous of their power and maliciously disposed against the Church. They never failed to call public attention to the pretended encroachment of the Church upon the State, in order to furnish the State with some apparent right to violently attack the Catholic religion.

12. We have expressly recalled some features of the past that Catholics might not be dismayed by the present. Substantially the struggle is ever the same: Jesus Christ is always exposed to the contradictions of the world, and the same means are always used by modern enemies of Christianity, means old in principle and scarcely modified in form; but the same means of defense are also clearly indicated to Christians of the present day by our apologists, our doctors and our martyrs. What they have done it is incumbent upon us to do in our turn. Let us therefore place above all else the glory of God and of His Church; let us work for her with an assiduity at once constant and effective, and leave all care of success to Jesus Christ, who tells us: “In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.”[5]

13. To attain this We have already remarked that a great union is necessary, and if it is to be realized, it is indispensable that all preoccupation capable of diminishing its strength and efficacy must be abandoned. Here We intend alluding principally to the political differences among the French in regard to the actual republic — a question We would treat with the clearness which the gravity of the subject demands, beginning with the principles and descending thence to practical results.

14. Various political governments have succeeded one another in France during the last century, each having its own distinctive form: the Empire, the Monarchy, and the Republic. By giving one’s self up to abstractions, one could at length conclude which is the best of these forms, considered in themselves; and in all truth it may be affirmed that each of them is good, provided it lead straight to its end — that is to say, to the common good for which social authority is constituted; and finally, it may be added that, from a relative point of view, such and such a form of government may be preferable because of being better adapted to the character and customs of such or such a nation. In this order of speculative ideas, Catholics, like all other citizens, are free to prefer one form of government to another precisely because no one of these social forms is, in itself, opposed to the principles of sound reason nor to the maxims of Christian doctrine. What amply justifies the wisdom of the Church is that in her relations with political powers she makes abstraction of the forms which differentiate them and treats with them concerning the great religious interests of nations, knowing that hers is the duty to undertake their tutelage above all other interests. Our preceding Encyclicals have already exposed these principles, but it was nevertheless necessary to recall them for the development of the subject which occupies us to-day.

15. In descending from the domain of abstractions to that of facts, we must beware of denying the principles just established: they remain fixed. However, becoming incarnated in facts, they are clothed with a contingent character, determined by the center in which their application is produced. Otherwise said, if every political form is good by itself and may be applied to the government of nations, the fact still remains that political power is not found in all nations under the same form; each has its own. This form springs from a combination of historical or national, though always human, circumstances which, in a nation, give rise to its traditional and even fundamental laws, and by these is determined the particular form of government, the basis of transmission of supreme power.

16. It were useless to recall that all individuals are bound to accept these governments and not to attempt their overthrow or a change in their form. Hence it is that the Church, the guardian of the truest and highest idea of political sovereignty, since she has derived it from God, has always condemned men who rebelled against legitimate authority and disapproved their doctrines. And that too at the very time when the custodians of power used it against her, thereby depriving themselves of the strongest support given their authority and of efficacious means of obtaining from the people obedience to their laws. And apropos of this subject, We cannot lay too great stress upon the precepts given to the first Christians by the Prince of the apostles in the midst of persecutions: “Honor all men: love the brotherhood: fear God: honor the king”;[6] and those of St. Paul: “I desire, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings and for all who are in high station, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior.”[7]

17. However, here it must be carefully observed that whatever be the form of civil power in a nation, it cannot be considered so definitive as to have the right to remain immutable, even though such were the intention of those who, in the beginning, determined it…. Only the Church of Jesus Christ has been able to preserve, and surely will preserve unto the consummation of time, her form of government. Founded by Him who was, who is, and who will be forever,[8] she has received from Him, since her very origin, all that she requires for the pursuing of her divine mission across the changeable ocean of human affairs. And, far from wishing to transform her essential constitution, she has not the power even to relinquish the conditions of true liberty and sovereign independence with which Providence has endowed her in the general interest of souls… But, in regard to purely human societies, it is an oft-repeated historical fact that time, that great transformer of all things here below, operates great changes in their political institutions. On some occasions it limits itself to modifying something in the form of the established government; or, again, it will go so far as to substitute other forms for the primitive ones-forms totally different, even as regards the mode of transmitting sovereign power.

18. And how are these political changes of which We speak produced? They sometimes follow in the wake of violent crises, too often of a bloody character, in the midst of which preexisting governments totally disappear; then anarchy holds sway, and soon public order is shaken to its very foundations and finally overthrown. From that time onward a social need obtrudes itself upon the nation; it must provide for itself without delay. Is it not its privilege — or, better still, its duty — to defend itself against a state of affairs troubling it so deeply, and to re-establish public peace in the tranquillity of order? Now, this social need justifies the creation and the existence of new governments, whatever form they take; since, in the hypothesis wherein we reason, these new governments are a requisite to public order, all public order being impossible without a government. Thence it follows that, in similar junctures, all the novelty is limited to the political form of civil power, or to its mode of transmission; it in no wise affects the power considered in itself. This continues to be immutable and worthy of respect, as, considered in its nature, it is constituted to provide for the common good, the supreme end which gives human society its origin. To put it otherwise, in all hypotheses, civil power, considered as such, is from God, always from God: “For there is no power but from God.”[9]

19. Consequently, when new governments representing this immutable power are constituted, their acceptance is not only permissible but even obligatory, being imposed by the need of the social good which has made and which upholds them. This is all the more imperative because an insurrection stirs up hatred among citizens, provokes civil war, and may throw a nation into chaos and anarchy, and this great duty of respect and dependence will endure as long as the exigencies of the common good shall demand it, since this good is, after God, the first and last law in society.

20. Thus the wisdom of the Church explains itself in the maintenance of her relations with the numerous governments which have succeeded one another in France in less than a century, each change causing violent shocks. Such a line of conduct would be the surest and most salutary for all Frenchmen in their civil relations with the republic, which is the actual government of their nation. Far be it from them to encourage the political dissensions which divide them; all their efforts should be combined to preserve and elevate the moral greatness of their native land.

21. But a difficulty presents itself. “This Republic,” it is said, “is animated by such anti-Christian sentiments that honest men, Catholics particularly, could not conscientiously accept it.” This, more than anything else, has given rise to dissensions, and in fact aggravated them…. These regrettable differences would have been avoided if the very considerable distinction between constituted power and legislation had been carefully kept in view. In so much does legislation differ from political power and its form, that under a system of government most excellent in form legislation could be detestable; while quite the opposite under a regime most imperfect in form, might be found excellent legislation. It were an easy task to prove this truth, history in hand, but what would be the use? All are convinced of it. And who, better than the Church, is in position to know it — she who has striven to maintain habitual relations with all political governments? Assuredly she, better than any other power, could tell the consolation or sorrow occasioned her by the laws of the various governments by which nations have been ruled from the Roman Empire down to the present.

22. If the distinction just established has its major importance, it is likewise manifestly reasonable: Legislation is the work of men invested with power, and who, in fact, govern the nation; therefore it follows that, practically, the quality of the laws depends more upon the quality of these men than upon the power. The laws will be good or bad accordingly as the minds of the legislators are imbued with good or bad principles, and as they allow themselves to be guided by political prudence or by passion.

23. That several years ago different important acts of legislation in France proceeded from a tendency hostile to religion, and therefore to the interests of the nation, is admitted by all, and unfortunately confirmed by the evidence of facts. We Ourselves, in obedience to a sacred duty, made earnest appeals to him who was then at the head of the republic, but these tendencies continued to exist; the evil grew, and it was not surprising that the members of the French Episcopate chosen by the Holy Ghost to rule over their respective illustrious churches should even quite recently have considered it an obligation publicly to express their grief concerning the condition of affairs in France in regard to the Catholic religion. Poor France! God alone can measure the abyss of evil into which she will sink if this legislation, instead of improving, will stubbornly continue in a course which must end in plucking from the minds and hearts of Frenchmen the religion which has made them so great.

24. And here is precisely the ground on which, political dissensions aside, upright men should unite as one to combat, by all lawful and honest means, these progressive abuses of legislation. The respect due to constituted power cannot prohibit this: unlimited respect and obedience cannot be yielded to all legislative measures, of no matter what kind, enacted by this same power. Let it not be forgotten that law is a precept ordained according to reason and promulgated for the good of the community by those who, for this end, have been entrusted with power. . . Accordingly, such points in legislation as are hostile to religion and to God should never be approved; to the contrary, it is a duty to disapprove them. It was this that St. Augustine, the great Bishop of Hippo, brought out so strongly in his eloquent reasoning: “Sometimes the powerful ones of earth are good and fear God; at other times they fear Him not. Julian was an emperor unfaithful to God, an apostate, a pervert, an idolator. Christian soldiers served this faithless emperor, but as soon as there was question of the cause of Jesus Christ they recognized only Him who was in heaven. Julian commanded them to honor idols and offer them incense, but they put God above the prince. However, when he made them form into ranks and march against a hostile nation, they obeyed instantly. They distinguished the eternal from the temporal master and still in view of the eternal Master they submitted to such a temporal master.”[10]

25. We know that, by a lamentable abuse of his reason, and still more so of his will, the atheist denies these principles. But, in a word, atheism is so monstrous an error that it could never, be it said to the honor of humanity, annihilate in it the consciousness of God’s claims and substitute them with idolatry of the State.

26. The principles which should regulate our conduct towards God and towards human governments being thus defined, no unprejudiced man can censure French Catholics if, sparing themselves neither fatigue nor sacrifice, they labor to preserve a condition essential to their country’s salvation, one which embodies so many glorious traditions registered by history, and which every Frenchmen is in duty bound not to forget.

27. Before closing Our Letter, We wish to touch upon two points bearing an affinity to each other and which, because so closely connected with religious interests, have stirred up some division among Catholics — One of them is the Concordat, which for so many years has facilitated in France the harmony between the government of the Church and that of the State. On the observance of this solemn, bi-lateral compact, always faithfully kept by the Holy See, the enemies of the Catholic religion do not themselves agree-The more violent among them desire its abolition, that the State may be entirely free to molest the Church of Jesus Christ — On the contrary, others, being more astute, wish, or rather claim to wish, the preservation of the Concordat: not because they agree that the State should fulfill toward the Church the subscribed engagements, but solely that the State may be benefited by the concessions made by the Church; as if one could, at will, separate engagements entered into from concessions obtained, when both of these things form a substantial part of one whole. For them the Concordat would amount to no more than a chain forged to fetter the liberty of the Church, that holy liberty to which she has a divine and inalienable right. Of these two opinions which will prevail? We know not. We desired to recall them only to recommend Catholics not to provoke a secession by interfering in a matter with which it is the business of the Holy See to deal.

28. We shall not hold to the same language on another point, concerning the principle of the separation of the State and Church, which is equivalent to the separation of human legislation from Christian and divine legislation. We do not care to interrupt Ourselves here in order to demonstrate the absurdity of such a separation; each one will understand for himself. As soon as the State refuses to give to God what belongs to God, by a necessary consequence it refuses to give to citizens that to which, as men, they have a right; as, whether agreeable or not to accept, it cannot be denied that man’s rights spring from his duty toward God. Whence if follows that the State, by missing in this connection the principal object of its institution, finally becomes false to itself by denying that which is the reason of its own existence. These superior truths are so clearly proclaimed by the voice of even natural reason, that they force themselves upon all who are not blinded by the violence of passion; therefore Catholics cannot be too careful in defending themselves against such a separation. In fact, to wish that the State would separate itself from the Church would be to wish, by a logical sequence, that the Church be reduced to the liberty of living according to the law common to all citizens….It is true that in certain countries this state of affairs exists. It is a condition which, if it have numerous and serious inconveniences, also offers some advantages — above all when, by a fortunate inconsistency, the legislator is inspired by Christian principles — and, though these advantages cannot justify the false principle of separation nor authorize its defense, they nevertheless render worthy of toleration a situation which, practically, might be worse.

29. But in France, a nation Catholic in her traditions and by the present faith of the great majority of her sons, the Church should not be placed in the precarious position to which she must submit among other peoples; and the better that Catholics understand the aim of the enemies who desire this separation, the less will they favor it. To these enemies, and they say it clearly enough, this separation means that political legislation be entirely independent of religious legislation; nay, more, that Power be absolutely indifferent to the interests of Christian society, that is to say, of the Church; in fact, that it deny her very existence. But they make a reservation formulated thus: As soon as the Church, utilizing the resources which common law accords to the least among Frenchmen, will, by redoubling her native activity, cause her work to prosper, then the State intervening, can and will put French Catholics outside the common law itself. . . In a word: the ideal of these men would be a return to paganism: the State would recognize the Church only when it would be pleased to persecute her.

30. We have explained, Venerable Brethren, in an abridged though clear way, some if not all the points upon which French Catholics and all intelligent men should be at peace and unity, so as to remedy, in so far as still remains possible, the evils with which France is afflicted, and to elevate its moral greatness. The points in question are: Religion and country, political power and legislation, the conduct to be observed in regard to this power and legislation, the Concordat, the separation of Church and State….We cherish the hope and the confidence that the elucidation of these points will dissipate the prejudices of many honest, well-meaning men, facilitate the pacification of minds, and thereby cement the union of all Catholics for the sustaining of the great cause of Christ, who loves the Franks.

31. How consoling to Our heart to encourage you all in this way and to behold you all responding with docility to Our appeal! You, Venerable Brethren, by your authority and with the enlightened zeal for Church and Fatherland which so distinguishes you, will give able support to this peace-making work. We delight in the hope that those who are in power will appreciate Our words, which aim at the happiness and prosperity of France.

32. Meanwhile, as a pledge of Our paternal affection, we bestow upon you, Venerable Brethren, upon your clergy and also upon all the Catholics of France, the apostolic blessing.

Given at Rome, the 16th day of February, 1892, in the fourteenth year of Our Pontificate.


  • 1. Lk 23.2.
  • 2. Jn 19. 12-15.
  • 3. Dialog. cum Tryphone.
  • 4. Tertull. In Apolog.; Minutius Felix, In Octavio.
  • 5. Jn 16.33.
  • 6. I Pt 2.17.
  • 7. I Tm 2.1-3.
  • 8. Heb 13.8.
  • 9. Rom. 13.1. 10. Enarrat, in Psalm. CXXIV, n. 7, fin.

'Biggest Fake News Story in Canada': Kamloops Mass Grave Debunked by Academics

More on the scam that led to Church burnings across Canada.

From the New York Post

By Dana Kennedy 

One year ago today, the leaders of the British Columbia First Nation Band Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announced the discovery of a mass grave of more than 200 Indigenous children detected at a residential school in British Columbia.

“We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” Rosanne Casimir, chief of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, said in a statement on May 27, 2021.

The band called the discovery, “Le Estcwicwéy̓” — or “the missing.”

What’s still missing, however, according to a number of Canadian academics, is proof of the remains in the ground.

Since last year’s announcement, there have been no excavations at Kamloops nor any dates set for any such work to commence. Nothing has been taken out of the ground so far, according to a Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc spokesman.

After the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc band announced the discovery of 215 dead bodies at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, there was an outpouring of outrage and mourning.
After the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc band announced the discovery of 215 dead bodies at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, there was an outpouring of outrage and mourning.

The alleged burial ground, which is said to include 215 bodies — some as young as 3 years old — was located with the help of ground-penetrating radar at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, which was run by the Roman Catholic Church from 1890 to 1978. The number of bodies was based on irregularities in the ground ascertained by the radar waves, according to an anthropologist hired by the band to scan the site.

Kamloops was one of a network of residential schools across Canada run by the government and operated by churches from the 1880s through the end of the 20th century. Experts say an estimated 150,000 children attended the schools.

The band called the discovery, “Le Estcwicwéy̓” — or “the missing” – but no bodies have been found, and there are no plans to excavate the site.
The band called the discovery, “Le Estcwicwéy̓” — or “the missing” — but no bodies have been found, and there are no plans to excavate the site.

“The system forcibly separated children from their families for extended periods of time and forbade them to acknowledge their Indigenous heritage and culture or to speak their own languages,” according to the website of the First Nations and Indigenous Studies of the University of British Columbia.

Jacques Rouillard, a professor at the Université de Montréal, said if cultural genocide happened at the school, “there should be excavations.” But “everything is kept vague. Canadians feel guilty so they keep quiet.”
Jacques Rouillard, a professor at the Université de Montréal, said if cultural genocide happened at the school, “there should be excavations.” But “everything is kept vague. Canadians feel guilty so they keep quiet.”
Université de Montréal

Last May’s news sent shockwaves through Canada and across the globe. Within days, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decreed, partly at the request of tribal leaders, that all flags on federal buildings fly at half-mast. The Canadian government and provincial authorities pledged about $320 million to fund more research and in December pledged another $40 billion involving First Nations child-welfare claim settlements that partially compensate some residential school attendees. Pope Francis issued a formal apology on behalf of the Catholic church, which ran many of the residential school facilities and asked for God’s forgiveness. He said he planned to visit Canada later this year to further assist in healing and reconciliation.

But a group of about a dozen academics in Canada don’t believe the whole story.

“Not one body has been found,” Jacques Rouillard, who is a professor emeritus in the Department of History at the Université de Montréal, told The Post. “After …months of recrimination and denunciation, where are the remains of the children buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School?”

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc spokesman Larry Read confirmed to The Post this week that no bodies have yet been exhumed from the Kamloops school and no dates have been set to start excavations. He added that the report showing the results of the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) has not been released by the band but may be at some point in the future.

First Nations people pay tribute to the children whose remains were "discovered." Within days of the announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decreed that all flags on federal buildings fly at half-mast.
First Nations people pay tribute to the children whose remains were “discovered.” Within days of the announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decreed that all flags on federal buildings fly at half-mast.

Rouillard, who first made his case for what he said was a total lack of evidence for the mass graves in a January essay, doesn’t deny that serious abuses may have occurred at residential schools.

But he and others question the highly-charged narrative about Kamloops school that includes children being murdered and buried in what some past school attendees say was an apple orchard.

Sarah Beaulieu, an anthropologist from the University of the Fraser Valley, was hired to scan and survey the site. She said that remote sensors picked up “anomalies” and “reflections” that indicate the remains of children.
Sarah Beaulieu, an anthropologist from the University of the Fraser Valley, was hired to scan and survey the site. She said that remote sensors picked up “anomalies” and “reflections” that indicate the remains of children.
University of the Fraser Valley

“They use a lot of words like ‘cultural genocide,’” Rouillard told The Post. “If that’s true, there should be excavations. Everything is kept vague. You can’t criticize them. Canadians feel guilty so they keep quiet.”

First Nation members had long believed that the area held the remains of Kamloops students, according to both Casimir and Read. When they decided to use federal funds they got during Covid to contract with an expert to look for the remains, the results were lightning quick, Read told The Post.

On May 17, 2021, the band hired Sarah Beaulieu, a young anthropologist from the University of the Fraser Valley, to scan and survey the site. Beaulieu scanned the site between May 21 and May 23 and the band announced her shocking findings on May 27.

Beaulieu said that remote sensors picked up “anomalies” and what are called “reflections” that indicate the remains of children may be buried at the site. Beaulieu did not respond to emails sent by The Post.

“My findings confirmed what Elders had shared,” Beaulieu said after she presented a report about her work in July 2021 that did not include specific evidence. “It’s an example of science playing an affirming role of what the Knowledge Keepers already recognized.”

A four-year-old girl places a pair of her own shoes in front of the St. Francis Xavier Church in Kahnawake, Quebec, as a memorial to the children at the residential school in Kamloops.
A four-year-old girl places a pair of her own shoes in front of the St. Francis Xavier Church in Kahnawake, Quebec, as a memorial to the children at the residential school in Kamloops.
After the announcement of a mass grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, the Pope issued a formal apology on behalf of the Catholic church, which ran many of the facilities.
After the announcement of a mass grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, the Pope issued a formal apology on behalf of the Catholic church, which ran many of the facilities.

The “Knowledge Keepers” are living guardians of the cultural traditions of regional, local and indigenous communities.

Since the Kamloops discovery, investigators using ground-penetrating radar say they’ve located what may be the unmarked graves of another 800 or so children at residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, according to reports.

But, like Rouillard, Tom Flanagan, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Calgary, isn’t buying any of it.

Tom Flanagan (above), a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Calgary, doubts the findings, calling it “the biggest fake news story in Canadian history.”
Tom Flanagan (above), a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Calgary, doubts the findings, calling it “the biggest fake news story in Canadian history.”
Fraser Institute

“This is the biggest fake news story in Canadian history,” Flanagan told The Post. “All this about unmarked graves and missing children triggered a moral panic. They have come to believe things for which there is no evidence and it’s taken on a life of its own.”

Strangely, Rouillard, Flanagan and their associates have an ally of sorts in Eldon Yellowhorn, a professor and founding chair of the Indigenous Studies department at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

Yellowhorn, who grew up on a farm on the Peigan Indian reservation with many family members who attended residential schools, is both an archaeologist and anthropologist. He is part of the Blackfoot nation. He’s been searching for and identifying the grave sites of indigenous children at residential schools in Canada since 2009 after being hired by Canada’s powerful Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Many of the graves he’s identified at residential schools in other parts of the country, though, come from actual cemeteries and it’s not always clear how they died.

Students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in 1937.
Students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in 1937.

Some of those found had succumbed to disease, Yellowhorn said, citing one cemetery where it became apparent many children perished from the Spanish flu a little over a century ago.

“I can understand why some people are skeptical about the Kamloops case,” Yellowhorn told The Post. “This is all very new. There’s a lot of misinformation floating out there. People are speaking from their emotions.”

People visit a makeshift memorial on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
People visit a makeshift memorial on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

As Yellowhorn sees it, the actual evidence for the mass grave at the Kamloops site is thin.

“All the radar shows you is that there are anomalies or reflections,” he said. “The only way to be certain is to peel back the earth and ascertain what lies beneath. We have not gotten to the point where we can do that. It’s a huge job.”

Despite his own skepticism, Yellowhorn says it’s entirely possible that if excavations are ever carried out at Kamloops — actual human remains could be found, much as they were in 2014 in Ireland after ground-penetrating radar showed anomalies at one of the country’s notorious mother and baby homes.

Eldon Yellowhorn, a professor and founding chair of the Indigenous Studies department at the University of Fraser Valley, said the only way to know for certain is to excavate the ground.
Eldon Yellowhorn, a professor and founding chair of the Indigenous Studies department at the University of Fraser Valley, said the only way to know for certain is to excavate the ground.
Simon Fraser University

Canadian professor Frances Widdowson said that no one dares question indigenous leaders in Canada these days, which makes it difficult to check their claims about buried remains of children.

“Knowledge Keepers, after all, cannot be questioned, because to do so would be perceived as ‘disrespectful,’” wrote Widdowson in “The American Conservative” in February. Widdowson is a former tenured professor at Mt. Royal University in Calgary.

Widdowson wrote that “lurid” talk of buried indigenous children has circulated for more than 25 years and is “now firmly ensconced within the Canadian consciousness.” But she said there’s still no hard evidence.

The Canadian professors also take issue with reports that at least 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools, which is now accepted as gospel in Canada.

Flanagan and others say the number is misleading at best — because a large percentage of Indian parents willingly opted for residential schools as they were the only way for their children to get an education.

Talk of buried indigenous children has circulated for more than 25 years and is “now firmly ensconced within the Canadian consciousness,” wrote one professor, who said there's still no hard evidence.
Talk of buried indigenous children has circulated for more than 25 years and is “now firmly ensconced within the Canadian consciousness,” wrote one professor, who said there’s still no hard evidence.
The grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Tomson Highway, a full-blood Cree, is a well-known Canadian composer, author and pianist. Now 70, he was born the youngest of 12 in a tent pitched on a snowbank on an island in a lake in remote northwestern Manitoba.

The nearest school to where his family roamed as nomads was 300 miles south, Highway told The Post.

Tomson Highway, a full-blood Cree and well-known Canadian composer, author and pianist, said he was grateful to attend an Indian residential school as a child.
Tomson Highway, a full-blood Cree and well-known Canadian composer, author and pianist, said he was grateful to attend an Indian residential school as a child.
Toronto Star via Getty Images