True Comfort For the Storm

Winston-Churchill-and-the-Troops

By Charlie Johnston

I know people are edgy and need comfort now. The turmoil throughout the world has gotten so bad that only the most vainly self-absorbed and ambitious can ignore it. The stark division in families has become so great that it distracts some from how bad the world has become in their puzzled grief over how divided their family has become.

We have badly mangled the glorious liberty God bequeathed us through the many heroes who sacrificed, who lived lives of true martyrdom, that we might be free to love and serve God by loving and serving each other. This is what we have sown. Now we see, once again, what it reaps. Some are so captive to the feeding frenzy of their self-absorbed ambition they cannot see tragedy and chaos in any light except how they can manipulate it to make themselves seem more important without absorbing blame for it. I am often angry at such people, but more often I pity them. How empty a life without love must be! How desperately miserable a life devoted to proving itself a superior and entitled specimen of humanity when we are all such schlubs! How agonizing it must be to try to convince oneself of such things when one’s sins and failings are ever in one’s own mind, whispering to the arrogant from their own skull of their perjury! Unless they repent and turn back, it will go as hard for them as for Pharaoh’s Army.

Our societies – throughout the world – are crumbling. Like a once-vigorous 97-year-old man, they are so enfeebled a simple cold could kill them. No matter how devoted and pious we think ourselves, every one of us is complicit in this. We all killed Christ, whether by hammering in a nail or slinking away for cover instead of resisting effectively; whether by assaulting the faith or by ineffectively screaming instead of actually repelling the assault. If God were to leave us to our own devices, we would be doomed – and we would have well earned it. But God does not despise those He has created. As He has throughout Salvation History, He opens up a path back to Him. In His mercy, He allows the Storm we have brought on ourselves to proceed to collapse – that all the more might know how much they need Him, that as many as possible might be reclaimed to life, to Him.

In mid-May of this year, I was given intense instruction from the Lord over two days. He did not tell me when or how final collapse would come, but He did show me what would be the signs that I must act. He started out by rebuking me. It certainly isn’t the first time that has happened, but there has always been a gentle instructive character to His rebukes. Not this time. To put it charitably, He tersely chided me for being too gentle – that my purpose was not to get along with everyone, but to get as many safely to the shore of Rescue as I could, by whatever means I could.

Nine years ago, I was instructed to begin planning temporally for the period of Restoration – or Regency. Our Lord made it clear that I was accountable to Him for that period. Now some jump to the conclusion that that means I will be the Regent. That could be, but it could also be that I would act as an advisor to the Regent, or that I could continue to simply exhort people publicly on a larger scale. Or it could be by some means I cannot conceive of. God is a very tricky Fellow. You must be prepared for what the obvious is, at least in terms of our frail logic, but you learn to routinely see Him act in ways that never occurred to you – and even astonish you. What I know is that I am personally accountable to Him for this period. In all things, I am to carry the message of, “Be not afraid: God calls all men to salvation.” I reiterate that my three prime duties are to 1) defend the faith, 2) hearten the faithful and 3) defend the faithful. I am, in fact, to defend the Shepherds of our Church with vigorous abandon, even while being obedient to their lawful authority in all matters of faith and morals. The heart of my work is temporal, informed by my faith and joyful obedience to my Church. It has ever been. You have seen my work to hearten the faithful in preparation for the collapse – and many have thought it the heart of my work. It is, rather, the prerequisite. Yet as tough as what I am held accountable for is, you all have a tougher assignment. I only have to keep things temporally steady on the way to Rescue. Afterwards, you all have the responsibility of setting a permanent system that is fertile soil for the faith, but respects the freedom of all.

In God’s plan for Restoration, there is no violence – at least not from Christians (except perhaps for a few cases of actual self-defense – and most decidedly NOT aggression playing at self-defense). Oh, there is plenty of violence. We see it right now in places such as Milwaukee, Dallas, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Baltimore, France, Germany, the Middle East, Ukraine – just to name a few recent places. That is the violence incident to a dying culture going through its death rattle. We can’t help that. It must come and all we can do is to endure until it is complete. We had a part in it, but we have no part in it now if we have chosen to be participants in preparing the way for Rescue.

As I said, in mid-May I was given explicit instructions on when to act and how to begin. It shook me for a while. By any human reckoning, the instructions would have me walk defenselessly to my certain death. It was my son who soothed me in the first week of the aftermath when I told him of it. Recognizing my fear, he said, “Dad, don’t you know that is how God always acts? If you aren’t killed that will be a sign in itself to help give heart to people when they need it desperately.” He was right, but it did not completely erase my concerns. Oddly, my fear is not primarily over my own death, but that a premature death there would rob many of hope. Yet I am resolved to live obedience to the end, however scary it is.

There is a time for a captain to soothe his frightened troops, to put his arm around them and give them comfort. But that time is not after they have been called to battle stations. People are human – and can’t help but sometimes lose it in the face of terror if their temperament is not suited to it. But they can’t have arms wrapped around them when on the verge of battle. If they lose it then, they must get a grip or get out of the way and go back to their berth. We must stare death in the face and resolve, with Thomas, after hearing Jesus’ determination to go up to Jerusalem even amidst the mortal plots against Him, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16) Thomas was not convinced they weren’t going to their death, but He chose to go with Jesus until the end. For a time, that sort of resolve may be all we have to sustain our purpose.

I know people need comfort. For a time, though, the only true comfort you will find will be that of comforting those around you. God DOES have a plan.

Posted in Culture, The Regency, The Rescue, The Storm | 742 Comments

Stormy Transition

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(Some readers have spoken of my “proposed” rules of regency. It has sparked a vigorous – and somewhat useful – debate here. It is useful because after the Rescue is complete, people will have to decide how to govern themselves on a long-term basis. It is only somewhat, though, because it has obscured the main focus here. I am proposing nothing. Rather, I am informing you of how it will be during the period of Regency as we enter into Restoration after this broken culture finishes its collapse.

Periods of transition are tough. If you move from one house to another, you were comfortable in the first house, will be comfortable in the next, but the moving from one to the other can be chaotic and is always stressful. We are in a big period of transition right now.

I will write more on that this weekend, then put up the last piece on the Rules of Regency Sunday. Yesterday, our reader who goes by the screen name of ‘Storm Tracker Ed’ made a lengthy comment that brought the focus back to where it should be. It is a truly inspired piece. I reprint it here.

By Storm Tracker Ed

I am getting a bit distressed that the discussion here of late surrounding the Government, and its services and its workers is knocking us off the important thought process which drew me and I’m thinking a lot of people here in the first place.

I say this as a retired 35 year Federal Civil Servant.

I think a lot of people have made a lot of valid points and also have perpetuated a lot of stereotypical misperceptions about Government.

Let me just say it all seems fairly irrelevant to the situation at hand. Griping about how bad Government is when Government is about to fade away from our lives perhaps altogether in a new kind of Regency is like griping about the crew and the Captain of the Titanic as the band plays Nearer My God to Thee. A little late in the game.

I’d enjoy a spirited discussion of the relative efficiencies of large private enterprises vs a vis the efficiencies of large public bureaucracies and my own personal interactions and experiences with both but frankly it is just not worth the effort and folks are pretty hard to persuade or convince on much of anything these days.

Charlie is documenting The Storm which has been building for quite some time. It is raging all around us right now. For some the Storm has made a wreck of their lives already. Killed them. Injured them Ruined them. Flooded them out. Burned them out. Run them out. Turned them into refugees. Cost them their jobs. Cost them their homes. Cost them their neighborhoods. Riots. Massive unemployment. Nearly 100 million Americans out of the workforce. Hunger. Homelessness. Poverty. A loss of Hope in the future.

Coincident to all of that turmoil is the collapse of our most basic institutions. All of them. From the Family on down. The Church is in turmoil. Not just the Catholic Church. Academia. Our financial system is near collapse awaiting one stiff breeze or misstep by the Federal Reserve. Businesses are failing. We are failing to create new businesses. Our services and products are increasingly shoddy and defective.

We are experiencing systemic breakdown of major, major civilizational infrastructure needed to hold the whole thing together. It is eroding not just at the edges but at the core. It is obvious. It is alarming.

Add to all that our Government at virtually every level is failing in increasingly obvious ways. Government is too remote and too unaccountable and lacks any kind of transparency and now increasingly credibility or the trust of the people.

There are lots of reasons and many places to point the finger.

How to organize a collapse of society? Without specific orders from a Divine source that everyone recognizes as Divine?

Arguably the last time America faced anything close to our current predicament was the Great Depression. At that time FDR faced a lot of hungry bellies and did what he had to do to put food in those bellies and clothes on those backs and hope in those hearts. He entered into Office inheriting a miniscule Federal Government and a small budget. A Government TOO SMALL for the problem facing it. A Government inadequate to the problem. A Government too small to be effective or efficient. FDR’s task was to build it up to something capable of addressing the catastrophe he faced.

Today, the Storm presents a problem for a different kind for Government. Today our Governments are TOO BIG. Too big to be efficient. Too big and paralyzed by its own Leviathan ineptitudes as rather exhaustively discussed and lamented on this discussion board.

Who cares whose fault it is?

Charlie is pointing toward a very far reaching dismantling of the Federal apparatus which, take it from me, is a very dicey operation from a practical perspective. Some would like to use dynamite to implode it like the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. Boom. Down in one heap. Won’t work. Not even in the short run. Especially in the short run. Here’s a fact: It costs more to shut down a Federal Government operation than to keep it going. Think of it as the comparative cost of the Death Penalty vs Life In Prison. Costs far more to end a criminal’s life than to keep him in a cell.

The Federal Government needs to be transformed into something closer to Herbert Hoover’s kind of Government. Focusing on the essentials. To tame it. To clean it up. To make it more transparent and more accountable. To make it more comprehensible to the elected officials sent to Washington to control it. As it stands those people are too unequipped for the job. As well, they are not interested in doing that job. Because for the most part it is a boring and tedious task. Reading through bills. Nobody reads through bills. Especially the 2,500 page variety. Nobody.

Stick by stick. The Federal Gargantua must be taken down stick by stick. Carefully. A little bit like it was put together. Pull off a piece and stand back and see if the whole thing collapses on the people causing more harm than good. Then go on to the next stick. Carefully.

Problem with that is that approach clearly takes time. If Charlie is right we are out of time. There is no more time.

An imploded Federal Government in a very short time is a huge problem for not just America but the whole world. It doesn’t work well now. Large parts of it fails to deliver anything useful. It has got to go. But HOW it goes does make a difference.

I believe we will be forced into doing something that perhaps not many of us reading and commenting on this site have ever done much of before in the aftermath of a total collapse of our society…..GET INVOLVED.

We will be called on to undertake a much more intensive type of Citizen Participation. We will have to show up. We will have to speak up. We will no longer BE ALLOWED the luxury of “I don’t want to get involved”. Our very lives will depend on more active participation in the communities that will be around us.

Another thing we will have to get used to. Hard work. Hard ,hot, heavy physical work. To grow our food and make our dwellings and put clothes on our backs. Without a lot of complaining.

We all ought to study Pope Francis’ Angelus Message on WORK a year ago this month.

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2015/documents/papa-francesco_20150819_udienza-generale.html

“….St Paul would not fail to warn Christians: “If anyone will not work, let him not eat” (2 Thess 3:10) — that’s a good recipe for losing weight, you don’t work, you don’t eat! The Apostle explicitly refers to the false spiritualism of some who indeed live off their brothers and sisters “not doing any work” (2 Thess 3:11). Commitment to work and the spiritual life, in the Christian conception, are not at all at odds with one another. It is important to understand this properly! Prayer and work can and must be in harmony, as St Benedict teaches. The absence of work damages the spirit, just as the absence of prayer damages practical activity.”

We are going to work in this new post-Storm world. All enterprises are going to have to WORK in the sense that they contribute something positive to the common good. We are going to work in community. Together. Helping each other to live and thrive.

Our present form of Government with its negative inducements and perverse incentives to getting work done. That kind of Government, the kind we have today, has a short shelf life remaining. If it doesn’t “work” it won’t prevail. It won’t be tolerated. It won’t be allowed to exist. Because there won’t be the resources to waste on such madness.

Going to work, stepping up to our newly required by necessity active Citizen Participation, is, IMO, going to be a defining characteristic of The Next Right Step. And the fallout from that will be a sign of Hope for all those around us.

And the inefficiencies of our present system or lack of system at the Federal level?

Yesterday’s news.

Posted in Culture, Discernment, The Regency, The Storm | 382 Comments

Don’t Flail Away at the Branches, Get to the Root

irresistable force

By Charlie Johnston

When I wrote the second installment of the “Rules of Regency,” I seriously pondered softening my description of what government work is. In the end, I only softened it by noting that some parasites are beneficial, even necessary, in symbiotic biological systems, but that a profusion of parasites, even of the beneficent kind, ultimately kills the host. I left it pretty stark because a little shock can be useful to provoke new lines of thinking; to get out of ruts we unconsciously get stuck in. It was entirely true and reflects my thinking on the matter, but I wanted to see what type of response I would get from readers to gauge how well I am getting across the concept of a dramatically different framework of thinking. The results gave me more optimism than I actually expected, but there are three areas where I encourage you to contemplate a little more:

1)      The difference between administrative and systemic change. Some commenters decried the bureaucratic regulatory regime, then turned around and suggested which regulations they would prefer to impose. My point is that if you have a large regulatory regime at all, you have a constant contest over who will hold the whip hand. I do not propose a reversal of who imposes their will on the unwilling: rather, I propose everybody minding their own business and leaving each other alone except in those areas where it is absolutely necessary for the public safety. The ability to impose regulations is a source of power. Any source of power is like the body of a dead animal on the side of the road – it draws the intense interest of scavengers, those whose miserable lives have no meaning unless they can boss others around to feel better about themselves. I am not interested in refining the existing system, but in dismantling it. This is important for you to internalize. As Ronald Reagan once said, “A government big enough to give you all you want is also big enough to take everything you have.” I do not think in terms of how to domesticate the beast, but how to defang and declaw it, then put it on a chain.

2)      The efficient organization of society, with concern for the good of all. I was a little shocked at how many people cannot imagine a society that does not have federal bureaucracies micro-managing every aspect of everyday life. Some in fearful tones asked how I would keep tainted milk and food products from being sold to the unwary. Really!? Do you not know for the great majority of its history, America did NOT have a large regulatory regime? Yet even so, people were not dropping like flies from tainted milk and such.  In a true market economy, it is in the interest of a merchant to maintain quality, lest he lose his business and investment entirely. It takes a lot of work to build a reputation – and only a few slips to destroy it. People are generally decent in small, every day transactions – both because it is in their interest to be so and because they are basically decent. Even so, for those who cannot imagine life without authorities from on high policing everything, I left substantial regulatory authority to the states, though with the proviso that it must be reasonably related to a genuine and compelling public interest, not just raising a governmental revenue stream. Abuses of the latter can give rise to a citizen lawsuit against local authorities for denying individuals’ rights in property. I read a few years ago that in New York City you must get 32 permits to open a hot dog stand. I’ll guarantee that at least 29 of those have little – or no – connection to public safety, but are just bureaucratic ATMs. Under my system, citizens may sue the governments both for damages and to rid themselves of such a proliferation of legalized extortion. I do not suggest some new-fangled dangerous theory, but a practical system that worked for most of American history and kept the scavengers at bay.

3)      The phrase that drew the most ire was my description of public workers as parasites. Actually, that was not new for me. I first used it when speaking at a political dinner in Southern Illinois 10 or 15 years ago. I was representing some candidate and was one of a host of speakers. Those before me seemed to all wax eloquent on the subject of public service and the sacrifice they make. It grated on my last nerve. So when I got up to speak I said:

4)      “I am a parasite. Like all government workers and political operatives, I depend on the active productive capacity of all of you who work in the private sector to survive. I, too, want to congratulate and thank all the public servants here tonight – the public servants who are builders, contractors, carpenters, restaurateurs, shop owners – the people who produce things that make our economy grow and create real jobs that do the same. You take risks in order to create something useful. If you succeed, it is right that you should enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you fail, the failure is yours. You take the risks and should reap the rewards when you succeed, for you surely suffer the consequences when you fail. People like me are dependent on you, not you on us. Now a parasite can be – and often is – a useful thing, but it always must feed on the active productive capacity of its host. I would not for a minute rid ourselves of the parasites who wear the uniform of this country and keep us all safe, nor the first responders who rush into danger when the rest of us rush out. But let us be clear, without the public service you provide of producing the goods and services that make this society work, we could not even afford those vital parasites. As for sacrifice, certainly our military and our first responders live sacrifice every day. But most of us who work in government get a job, can’t be fired, get a gold-plated pension you can only dream of, and are set for life regardless of whether we do a good or bad job. Some sacrifice! I work in the political end of things, so I don’t have that sort of security – but it has been offered me many times. I live off of your political donations. I endeavor to be a useful parasite – to work full time to give you an effective voice in public affairs that is useful to you. But I never forget that, at bottom, I am a parasite, not a master of the universe. So I thank all you public servants out there who live sacrifice and risk every day. I seek not to overburden you and to continue to be a valued parasite to you. But I know my place in the scheme of things. Thank you.”

5)      I got a standing ovation for that impromptu little speech. Even better, during a campaign season, I would speak to an average of about 100 events per cycle. After that, every politician who was at an event at which I was scheduled to speak took great care to go easy on patting themselves on the back about their public service and sacrifice – at least until I had already spoken and was safely seated.

In the work I have done the last nine years in developing these principles, I have endeavored to avoid chopping away at the branches of the problems facing us, instead getting right to the roots. To get the full implications of them, try to avoid overlaying what you expect from the existing system and see it from a completely different perspective. I have great sympathy for those who objected that they work very hard. But if you actually work very hard and keep the needs of those you serve at the forefront, you will thrive in almost any system – and a system designed to reward merit and initiative rather than treat everyone the same will be a godsend, not a curse, to you – but it will be different than what, in part, you are already comfortable with..

*******

Susan Skinner’s marvelous piece on “Purity and the Domestic Church” drew an interesting response. Much of it was profoundly insightful. Some, though, while not quite crossing over into the offensive, was notably prickly. I asked Susan to write this piece because I know her to be completely faithful to the Church, but well and passionately informed on this issue. I think some people have come to assume that any new initiative that comes out must automatically be offensive or a plot to undermine the faith. In fact, some people, like the Queen of Hearts in ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass,’ decide first and reason later…and some are on a hair trigger to discredit the Vatican or the Pope. On the other hand, some treat any criticism of Vatican initiatives, no matter how reasoned or steady, as an attack on the Pope, himself. If any criticism of Vatican initiatives and personnel is an attack on the Pope, you are also going to have to indict at least the last three Popes, who often complained of Vatican politics and initiatives.

I call on all of you to judge righteous judgment and call things by their proper names. Indeed, it is true that in the rising tide of confusion, more than a few things coming out of the Vatican have been puzzling and troubling. But do not let that make you a reactionary ready to condemn anything coming out of the Vatican even before it has come out. Similarly, the toxic, disrespectful treatment of the Pope and hierarchy has become a cottage industry, most shockingly from much of the Catholic Press. But don’t let that put you on a hair trigger to condemn everyone who raises legitimate questions or offers respectful criticism. When so much confusion rises around us, we are called to be an island of measured, honorable, respectful discourse. Steady on.

I have always liked the Socratic Method. Get people of genuine good will and genuine expertise, but varying perspectives, to question and debate an issue. The dynamic tension that arises from that helps to clear the path to greater insight for all of us. Shoot, when I was a newspaper editor, one of my favorite features was to take a subject of local interest and controversy and get two substantial people from opposing sides to write separate articles that appeared across from each other on the op-ed page. I ran that nearly every week. I wanted our readers to get solid information from each side and become well informed, in order to make good decisions. In almost every campaign I ran, I had a serious contrarian in my councils. I hate tunnel vision and echo chambers. It causes you to stumble into bad mistakes.

But for the Socratic Method to work, you must presume the goodwill of everyone involved and stay away from cheap “gotcha” moments.

I have great sympathy for those who try to come up with innovative ways to deal with the dysfunction of modern culture, particularly involving family life and sexuality. We are in battlefield mode, and many of the old ways are not sufficient to the disorder we face. But I also have great sympathy for those who hearken back to the fundamental goal of purity – and want to guard against coarsening the culture as we deal with these issues. I don’t have the answers, though I ponder it – and I value the people of goodwill who put emphasis on varying elements in the discussion. From the dynamic tension that arises from that discussion I think we will come up with workable answers.

So let us presume each other’s good will…and not decide that because someone has a different emphasis – or even a different opinion – than we do, that it must be because of bad intentions.

*******

Next Saturday, August 20, I will give a public presentation in the Denver area. I am delighted that some of my coordinators from around the country are coming in for this talk. There are a couple from California, one from Texas, another from Louisiana, and one from Nevada that I know of. It will be so cool to have these wonderful folks here in my hometown. I started these visits in hopes of having people in cities across the country see that they are not alone in their faith, their trust in God. My original primary purpose was to have people gather and see that they have serious fellow believers right in their own neighborhood, even as the culture tries to isolate and marginalize them. Now, having made well over a hundred presentations (both public and private) across the country, it is helpful that the some of the primary organizers of these events meet their counterparts – and know that they, too, are not alone. Any of you who happen to be in the Denver area next Saturday, come on up. We’ll leave the light on for you. The details are:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

4:00 pm:  Public talk

6:00 pm:  Potluck (see below) and Q & A session with Charlie

Apex Community Recreation Center, McCormack Hall, 6842 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, CO  80003

Volunteers Needed

Contact Mary at   tnrs.denver@gmail.com

Potluck:

Please bring one dish that will serve 10 to 15 people.  If your last name begins with:

A-G:  Please bring an appetizer, salad or side.

H-S:  Please bring a main dish

T-Z:  Please bring a dessert

Hotels in the area:

Residence Inn Denver North 5010 W 88th
Denver Marriott Westminster 7000 Church Ranch Blvd
Holiday Inn Express & Suites 10101 S I-70 Service Rd (kind of iffy area)
Hampton Inn Westminter 5030 W 88th Pl
The Westin Westminster  10600 Westminster Blvd
La Quinta Inn Denver Westminster – 8701 Turnpike Dr, Westminster
Posted in Church Governance, Culture, Family of God, Musings, Solidarity, Speaking Tour | Tagged , | 423 Comments

Purity and the Domestic Church

guardian angel with children on bridge_ storm_ antique postcard German

(I have added our regular commenter, Michael Patrick’s marvelous website, ‘Sweetwater Haven’ to the links under my favorite spiritual sites and the Surrender Novena, one of the best ever, to the Devotions links.

Susan Skinner writes the elegant Veil of Veronica site. She lives in Tennessee. Both she and her Priest have become trusted friends. Susan has genuine expertise in Christian sexual education, so I asked her to put together a piece here on the subject in light of the Vatican’s controversial new program.-CJ)

By Susan Skinner

Charlie asked me to write up a piece on the Vatican Sex Education program.  He told me that I had some genuine expertise in this area.  I do not feel that I do.  In fact I feel wholly inept, except in one area and that one area is Motherhood.   As the Mother of  three  young children my husband and I are daily battling a culture that brings lust, sex, and “hook ups” into the world of my children every day.  My 14 year old can’t go to the Mall without seeing a half-naked Victoria’s Secret model, or a man in his underwear at Abercrombie and Fitch.  Let’s not even get into the social media where I struggle every day to maintain parental control.  I have to talk to my kids every day about these images we see all around us.  I have also seen friend’s marriages ruined by the readily available pornography.  It sometimes feels the wolf is at the door but through prayer and catechesis with my family, we are keeping the wolf at bay.

The respite in my life has always been my church.  The church has always been clear on matters of sexuality and morality.  The rights of the parents, in the eyes of the church, has always been inalienable.

“At the same time I feel it important to reiterate that the overall education of children is a “most serious duty” and at the same time a “primary right” of parents.   This is not just a task or a burden, but an essential and inalienable right that parents are called to defend and of which no one may claim to deprive them.” Paragraph 84,  Pope Francis – Amoris Laetitia

I was so thankful to have this guiding light for my family through these tumultuous times we live in.  The church’s rules are not to suck the fun out of life, but are a guide that can lead to great and joyful living.  When we love God with our whole heart, our response is to keep His commandments.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15 

My husband and I chose Catholic Schools for our children in an effort to help catechize them.  We sacrifice and pay large tuition in order to be able to do so.  We did this because we felt safe, and we trusted that what is being taught aligns with our Catholic values at home.  While some experiences with the Catholic school system have been great, I have unfortunately also personally found out not every school is aligned with our values.  And it is a heart ache to have to battle the Catholic Institutions when they should be a refuge from the world.  Still I keep my eyes on Christ.

susan skinner and me

Susan Skinner, author of the Veil of Veronica website, and me.

 

Further disheartening was seeing the sex education curriculum that came out of the Pontifical Council on the Family.  If I had time to, I could dissect each part of this curriculum.  I could tell you why it’s inappropriate to show a woman’s chest with XXX on top of it, or why bringing a biology teacher into a mixed class to teach anatomy (see link above), is inappropriate, but it begs the question, whose right is it to teach our children on matters of sexuality regardless of the content?  If the church really wanted to help teach the children about sex education why wouldn’t the curriculum be formulated for the parents to teach their own children with the school in a secondary supportive role?  We are being asked it seems, by our own church members, to abdicate our rights.  The family is the domestic church.  This is where we should start if we want to help people.

I was heartsick when I first saw this sexual education curriculum.  What have we done?  Long gone are the days when a parent could expect that their child would discover the beauty of sexual union on their wedding night.  The culture bombards them with sex and pornography.  Sex is portrayed everywhere divorced from its Sacramental purpose, and devoid of truth and beauty.    Children don’t even know what a mortal sin is, and this new curriculum doesn’t appear to want to mention it.  Instead of responding with truth and beauty this curriculum embraces the culture and provides graphic photos that I already have to address every day and they bring it in under the guise of providing “information.”

My Spiritual Director once told me the litmus test for anything we do… anything we teach, read, watch, is – if the Blessed Mother were standing in the room with you, could you show her what you were doing without feeling shame?  I believe it would be hard to look at the Blessed Mother and tell her as a church, we have infringed on parental rights, and we are showing pictures of teenagers grind dancing because we know it’s in the culture.

Why are we caving into the culture?  The message of the Gospel should not be watered down.  If there is anything at all in this curriculum (which I believe there is), that could lead even one child into mortal sin, then the church has failed in Catholic Education.  The salvation of souls is our goal, and our educators are at risk of their own souls if they lead a child to sin.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  Matthew 18:6 

We have invited the culture into the classroom.  A culture which teaches depravity and mediocrity.  I am here to tell you that the only way to change the culture is to aim for the ideal.  No one would ever said that when St. Francis set out to reform the church that he was realistic in his goal.  He sought God’s ideal.  The same goes for Mother Teresa.  We have lost our sense of the wondrous works that God can provide if we only aim for them.  We have also lost our sense of modesty, a tragedy to me since we have Saints like Agnes and Maria Goretti who went to their deaths defending it.

Our children are dying.  They are literally dying due to a culture that feeds them death, and they are spiritually dying because their souls are not being fed truth.  We need to feed them truth and beauty.  We need to show them that our church offers a better way of living that leads to peace and joy in our souls.  Many of our children have all the material wealth they could possibly want, and yet, they still feel alone, they get addicted, they see the sin offering of the culture and more and more often, they choose that path.

We have the answer, and yet the best we can do as a church, is seemingly put out a curriculum that invites the culture in, and takes away the role of the parent.  God help us all, and we wonder why our world is in the state it’s in.

So to all the parents out there, I urge you, do not abdicate your rights.  Do not let the school system take what is yours.  If you do, you will likely not get those rights back anytime soon.  Do not be afraid. Teach your children truth and beauty.  And to the educators out there, partner with the parents, don’t dictate to them, otherwise you are no better than the mandate to the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Lastly, pray the Rosary every day.  The Blessed Mother can cover us and our children over with her Mantle.  We can change the culture, but we must live the Gospel. We have nothing to fear because the gates of hell shall not prevail, and our God is a God of great love.

We can teach our children better.

If any of parents out there have come across a Catholic Institution that is violating Doctrine and you need assistance in getting it corrected, please contact the St. Joseph Foundation Canon Law.  They are an invaluable resource.  They are funded by donations, so please also consider making a donation to this invaluable organization.

 

Posted in Culture, Family, Guest Columns | Tagged , , , , | 499 Comments

Rules of Regency – Part II

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(The coordinators for my upcoming visits to Omaha, Houston, and Dallas need volunteers to help them prepare. If you live in one of these areas and want to help, contact my volunteer assistant, Mary, at lovedbyhim1026@gmail.com. Meantime, we have volunteers for the New Orleans area, but no coordinator. Unfortunately, if no coordinator steps up, my meetings there will all be private.-CJ)

By Charlie Johnston

Following is Part II of the Rules of Regency. You can see Part I here. It is, of course, America-centric, as I am an America and that is where I can have the most immediate impact. It is also, however, a template for any country which seeks to restore a harmonious social order. Some adjustments would have to be made for various local cultures, but the big principles are universal.

Accountability

The American system was set up to make the government accountable to the American people. Once elected, officials would hire their team of people and voters would judge them according to how their team performed.

Now, legislators and executives make big promises that they don’t keep. When voters complain, the officials note that their intentions are good, but they are not allowed to fire the holdover government workers from previous officials – workers who thwart their wonderful plans. Bureaucrats, meanwhile, sometimes joke that presidents come and presidents go, but the bureaucracy goes on forever. Officials have the built-in excuse that there is nothing they can do -and it is harder to fire a bureaucrat than to knock down the milk bottles at the local carnival. It is a good deal for both the officials and the clerks, whose power and perquisites grow while they are accountable to no one. But it is a terrible deal for the public – and for social cohesion. Yet it is called ‘public service.’

Abolish almost all civil service laws and all public employee unions. The American system is not supposed to guarantee jobs for life for bureaucrats – who can then snub their nose at both the officials who are supposed to be their bosses and the people who elect them. Let each official hire and fire, at will, those who will work under him – and then hold him completely responsible at the ballot box for the results. This will return the whip hand to the people who are supposed to be served, not ruled.

It will also make the “sacrifice” that government workers and officials constantly boast of into a reality. To go into government work when it offers no guarantee of security, a person will either have to be so committed to accomplishing a particular task that he will take a break from his real career in order to actually serve – or be so non-politically competent that he holds onto his job from administration to administration by sheer ability. If a person wants job security, he will work for or build a private company that produces real goods and services and real jobs. That would be a true public service.

The reality is that all government workers are parasites of a sort. In most biological systems, some parasites are necessary and good – and form a symbiotic relationship with their host. But when even benign parasites multiply beyond the symbiotic level, they start killing the host. We are long past that point.

There are other structural changes in the political system which would enhance accountability without denying the true masters, the people, their right of collective sovereignty. In the legislature, the House of Representatives was supposed to be a citizen legislature, reflecting the churn of public passions. I don’t like term limits, for that deprives citizens of the right to vote for whom they choose. Rather, I prefer to allow House Members to run for as many terms as they wish – but however many terms they win, there is no pension. If they want a retirement plan, they each have to fund their own. The Senate is supposed to be a haven for experienced professionals, chosen by the states as a check on the unbridled passions of the House. It was a stabilizing element injected into the peculiar American system of a hybrid democratic republic to prevent the instability inherent to democracy. Return selection to the States and offer a pension there. Eliminate most campaign finance laws, except for disclosure of very large donations and to prevent foreign influence. Campaign finance laws, if truth in advertising applied, are incumbent-protection schemes. Appoint federal judges to a ten-year term rather than an unreviewable lifetime.

 

Subsidiarity

The principle of subsidiarity holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. St. John Paul emphasized this principle in his 1991 Encyclical, ‘Centesimus Annus,’ as a corrective to the statism which was disfiguring the application of authentic principles of social justice.

There are many problems with centralization. Three that are critical here are that:

1)      It is inefficient

2)      It enfeebles and disables the means that are efficient, treating them as competitors for resources.

3)      It is fertilizer for a massive corruption that is beyond the control of ordinary people.

St. John Paul, in his classic, concise elegance, said it, “…leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.” Read his full Encyclical to get a solid primer on the subject (which will help in understanding the rest of this small section.)

Big unwieldy centralized agencies do not take into account unique local needs and peculiarities, insisting instead on a one-size fits all approach – that often does not fit any. Meantime, it saps the life and energy out of those smaller, more local agencies and volunteer associations that do handle problems well.

Centralization, accompanied by a lack of public accountability, is a hothouse for virulent corruption. Progressives think that corruption can be ended by a massive centralized regulatory regime. American founders understood that corruption is endemic to much of human nature – and that centralization just made corruption massive and impervious to public oversight. Their system of rigorous accountability and equally rigorous subsidiarity made for a self-policing and healing system. With numerous, competing centers of localized authority, corruption would be localized. When it became endemic in one center, it would be advantageous to the ambitious in another center to expose and uproot it. Thus, though corruption is always with us to some extent, it would keep it local, easily uprooted, and make it in the interest of the ambitious to uproot it.

Therefore, all powers that are not explicitly granted to the federal government would be returned to the states. As I mentioned under the “Federalism” section,  most regulatory agencies would be dismantled or reduced to boards whose sole purpose is to arbitrate disputes between the states over an overlapping issue. Big internal crises that are beyond the Constitutional power of the federal government would, upon petition by a majority of the states or two-thirds majority of the house, lead to the creation of a temporary federal task force to address the problem, with a specific date of expiration of not longer than 10 years. Once again, public ‘servants’ would have to actually serve and make sacrifice rather than rule and call their unaccountable sinecures ‘sacrifice.’

Volunteer associations would be encouraged and made easy to begin, rather than regulated to death and made to heel to a state’s political preferences.

Since Congress would have less to do (no longer deciding winners and losers in the field of commerce and public policy questions unrelated to its legitimate authority) the size of Congressional staffs and the profusion of lobbying would be dramatically decreased. That would also give officials time to pay serious attention to their legitimate duties rather than distracting the public with what type of light bulbs they will be allowed or what size soft drinks they may purchase.

The federal income tax will be abolished as a bad experiment that intruded on the freedom of all and was weaponized to target dissent. Alternate means of taxation, through sales and excise taxes among others will be found. If taxes are tied to productivity and commerce, it will give government officials incentive to promote productivity and commerce rather than strangling it.

Read Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” a concise two-volume explication of the philosophical underpinnings of the American experiment in a hybrid democratic republic to understand why American worked so well for so long – and how to restore that framework.

 

Justice

In the first place, the law should apply equally to all, both great and small. The routine practice of the Congress of exempting itself from rules it imposes on lesser mortals will cease. It will be allowed to impose no rules that are not Constitutionally enumerated to its authority.

In the short term, our society has been divided into levels of division that led to sudden mass slaughter in Rwanda. A few large principles are required to keep that division from exploding into massive violence.

When large segments of society seek to get their way by violent aggression, that aggression is fueled, not quenched, if the response is not resolutely decisive. When large numbers of political office holders seek to weaponize the law to punish their opponents or those who merely disagree with them, it undermines the legitimacy of and public respect for the law, planting seedlings of violent opposition when that becomes the only effective means of redress of legitimate grievances.

Therefore, substantial early arrests must be made of public officials who have weaponized the law to punish dissent. That means a lot of federal agents, especially high officials in the IRS, will be going to jail. Also headed for jail are those state attorney generals who seek to make it a felony to disagree with them politically – right now most publicly on ‘climate change.’ Judges and human “rights” commissioners who have imposed penalties on Christians for simply living their faith – refusing to participate in offensive ceremonies, but discriminating against no one – will not just lose their office, but go to jail for a time. I have always loathed abuse of public power against ordinary citizens. A small number of early, vigorous arrests should get the message across and take the wind right out of this modern penchant.

No one shall be arrested during the time of emergency for merely advocating an opinion, but protests that depend on rioting will result in mass arrests of the rioters. Those who try to deprive others of their civil liberties will be arrested. Radicals on campus and in such movements as BLM will be given the opportunity to suffer for their beliefs if they express them violently or hinder others from the free expression of competing beliefs.

When disorder is small and sporadic, the public interest and safety is usually best-served by the incarceration under criminal law of the few who commit actual crimes. When it is widespread and an entire culture has degenerated into disorder, the primary goal is the re-establishment of a stable public order and the reintegration of the offenders into that order. That is why, after the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln did not seek to punish and jail rebel leaders, but to knit them back into the common family the nation was intended to be.

The need for temporary jails will be great in order to check the abuses of public corruption and arrogance and the violent aggression of rioters. But the duration of incarceration for such offenders must only be for the duration of the Storm. The purpose of incarceration is to prevent an explosion of violence while society is rising to the challenges of the Storm and to re-knit it into a common culture once again. All such offenders should be released within six months of the Rescue, with a return to normal criminal law – with the exception that those who abused a public position of trust to punish enemies may be permanently barred from holding any office of public honor or authority.

Posted in Culture, Preparation | Tagged , , | 315 Comments

Great Expectations

(Once I got back to the Conference yesterday, the Internet was not working properly, so I had to wait to get home to put up this fabulous short post by our friend and regular commenter, Michael Patrick. He gives us lots of special photos of his own design – CJ)

By Michael Patrick

I’ve been contemplating a couple of things and keeping folks in my prayers. One thing I wanted to share in general has to do with our TNRS blog family. I kinda think that this is what Charlie intended for folks to see/encounter upon arrival:

MP - front door

Probably some folks just see this:

MP - storm door

I suppose I see things with my own little twist:

MP - sweet door

(but then again, I came here looking for encouragement… and found it.)

Something to ponder.

God Bless!

(I had the good fortune to meet Michael when I was in Arizona. I hope you enjoyed his little reflection as much as I did-CJ)

 

Posted in Discernment, Guest Columns | Tagged | 328 Comments

Crosses in the Year of Mercy

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(I am criss-crossing between a Conference and another Prayer Meeting this weekend. Those of you who have complained that I am overdue for the second installment of the Rules of Regency are now completely right. I get home late tomorrow afternoon. If I am worn out, I won’t put it up tomorrow. But Job One on Monday will be to get that up. Except for attending morning Mass, I will do nothing else before I have finished and posted that piece.

In the comments section, I have started getting some notes from Islamic apologists, explaining that Islam is a religion of peace and there is no violence in it. I have deleted them thus far. If you want to make a case on how Jihadists are mutilating Islam, I will be glad to print it. Even better, if you decide to offer real discussion of how to stop the violence flowing from Jihad, I will love to print it. But if the sum of your point is to ask people, on violence in the name of Islam, “Who are you going to believe; me or your own eyes?” it is not helpful and I am not interested in it. If you can’t acknowledge the facts on the ground when every week several major atrocities against ‘infidels’ are committed, your comments may be passionate, but they are not helpful.

I am also going to tighten up on comments that are based in mere assertions without evidence, leaning towards conspiracy theories. This, if you say that some holy Bishop – or even some dicey Bishop – is a freemason plant or whatever I will no longer patiently (or even tersely) argue the point with you. I will just delete the comment.

There are also many new readers here, some who like to pretend to an erudition they don’t have to make definitive statements based on some elementary reading that they have done – and often misconstrued, even then. We are a site welcoming to all of good will. Some of the most breathtakingly beautiful comments come from those of the simplest faith. We also have top professionals in almost every field here, both secular and religious. If you want to express an opinion, ask a question, share a story, it all helps build this little community up. Use the readings you have actually studied to bolster your case. But if you have merely read a few serious things and now want to show off an expertise you don’t actually have, this is SO not the place for that. Sometimes a reader who posits ‘gotcha’ questions or claims near Magisterial authority because they read an Encyclical or two reminds me of a man who vainly thinks that, because he bought an Italian-English dictionary, he is now fluent in Italian. He might get away with it a little – but as soon as he tries that schtick with someone who actually speaks Italian, he is recognized as a blowhard. Theologically speaking, there are a LOT of people who speak Italian here. Make your point, make your case, use the documents you actually have studied to bolster your case, but do not pretend to an erudition or authority you don’t have in a place where a lot of the participants actually DO have such erudition and authority.

The times are very serious now and we need serious, honest discussion. I loathe the idea of letting any who might have a mote of sincerity go unanswered or unacknowledged. But some of the abuses I mention above are distracting from the serious discussion we need in perilous times, so I am going to get more restrictive about them. All you regulars, whether you are a top scholar or a regular parishioner, you already know the tone and scope of how we speak honestly and openly, while building each other up in mutual affection. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

Janet Klasson, also known as Pelianito, proposed that this column she wrote in her ‘Joy of Penance’ website might be a timely guest column here. I completely concur. I know many families are suffering enormously right now. It does remind us how much we need God and Rescue – and for those who mourn and grieve right now, how much more your jubilance will be when we are Rescued!

By Janet Klasson

…Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-4)

As each day passes I hear of more and more people of faith being asked to carry heavy crosses. I believe this cross-ifying will intensify as the Year of Mercy draws to a close. What is the connection?

I believe there is a far deeper significance to this jubilee year than we can even imagine. What an extraordinary grace this year has been for us and for those we are praying for. Jesus told St. Faustina:

“Before the Day of Justice, I am sending the Day of Mercy.” (Diary 1588)

“He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice.” (Diary 1146).

Jesus speaks of the “door of mercy” and as providence would have it, we have been gifted with holy doors in this Year of Mercy. This is an unimaginable grace. But why are we surprised? Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. The level of sin has caused the God of all mercy to shower unimaginable graces upon us. All glory to God, through whom even sin brings about His victory!

There are scant few weeks left in the Year of Mercy, which concludes on November 20, Feast of Christ the King. If you have been asked to carry a heavy cross in the Year of Mercy, you, chosen soldier of Christ, have been given a field promotion, and have been equipped with a weapon that is tailor-made. For the battle is upon us. Souls are at stake.

Of course, in the battle for souls, God’s secret weapon is and always has been the cross. Archbishop Sheen described it in this way:

“Never ask what did I do to deserve this? Because Jesus may say to you what did I do to deserve the Cross? If God the Father permitted His Divine Son to feel the agonies of Calvary, it must be that Crosses fit into the Divine Plan. If your cross is mental, change your behavior, confess your sins, and make peace with God. If your cross is physical, offer it up in union with Our Lord on the Cross for the conversion of souls. There is a price tag on every soul. Every soul costs something. Some souls are bought by prayers; others are bought through the kindness of alms; but most of them are bought the way Our Lord bought us, through pain and suffering.”

In this Jubilee of Mercy, God is calling all those who bear his name to take up the arms he himself took up, the precious wood with which he conquered sin and death. This is our hour of decision. Our victory is assured, but make no mistake, there can be no resurrection without a crucifixion.

Several times a day we make the sign of the cross, touching our heads to show our belief in the Cross, our breast to show our love of the Cross, and our shoulders to show our willingness to bear the Cross. So, when Christ asks us to carry a cross, let us respond with complete abandonment and trust in the way of the cross which that holy sign signifies.

And let us not forget the Divine Mercy Chaplet in the Hour of Mercy, 3:00, am or pm. Jesus told St. Faustina, “Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.” (Diary 1731)

The Year of Mercy is the jubilee year of miracles and hope. Let’s not waste another minute of it but as soldiers completely abandoned to our General, carry our crosses with Christ, for souls, in the glory of God! Jesus I trust in you! Save souls!

Prayer: O my Jesus, in the Divine Will I offer you all the unused shards of suffering, including my own, all those treasures discarded from the time of the fall of Adam and Eve to the last man. I offer them as a spiritual bouquet through the Flame of Love of our Immaculate Mother in reparation to the Holy Trinity for all sins ever committed, for the conversion of all those whose hearts are far from you, for the fire of pure love to be ignited in the lukewarm, and for all the intentions of those here and in my spiritual territory. Jesus and Mary I trust in you. Take care of everything, and everyone. May this Jubilee Year of Mercy bear abundant fruit for the Kingdom. May your Kingdom come and come quickly! Amen.


From my other blog, www.pelianitoblog.wordpress.com

Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

“My beloved, do not imagine that the journey of my faithful ones is so different from the journey of their Lord. On the contrary, I AM the way and all paths lead through the cross. Remember, my children, that each cross is tailored to the soul. Each is unique, as unique as the soul that bears it. The only similarity in all crosses is that I am with you all in your passion. You need only turn to me and all the strength I had in my passion will be made available to you. This is especially true when one is being persecuted for my sake. Would I abandon that poor soul? Would not the Father see me when he looks at him? When I say that your reward will be great in heaven, do not imagine that I am being trite. Those who suffer on my behalf will be eternally grateful for what that suffering has purchased for them. Indeed, it will seem a far greater reward than the soul feels he deserved for it. In comparison, the trial will seem a small thing—even a large trial. My children, you cannot possibly imagine with what magnanimity your infinitely generous God can act. Be therefore consoled. All that happens in this life is as a passing shadow, over in the blink of an eye. Endure all with faith, fortitude, and great trust. I am with you through it all. Shalom.”

O my Jesus, help me not to get caught up in my daily trials, big or small, but help me to link all trials to the cross so that I may in some way participate in your redemptive act. O Jesus, in your mercy, give me grace, faith, fortitude and ever-greater trust, that I might endure all trials with great love for your glory. I love you Jesus! Amen.

Posted in Conversion, Discernment, Guest Columns, Solidarity, The Storm | Tagged , , | 279 Comments

First Things

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By Charlie Johnston

On December 20, 2014, I had a great vision of demons spewing across the world to raise confusion and chaos, to create divisions in families, marginalize Christians, and spread despair and fear in all, specifically targeting the most pious. I touched on the vision in this column of Dec. 28, 2014, then wrote more extensively on the whole matter on New Year’s Day of 2015.

The chaos, confusion and bitter recriminations are nearly at full boil.

Over the course of my life, whenever things have grown frantic and confused, I have always gone back to what I call “First Things,” foundational principles and realities. It doesn’t matter whether it involves private or public affairs; this method has always helped me to clear away the weeds of detailed strife and find a true (or nearly true) path out of confusion. The very act of contemplating and boiling things down to First Things calms and steadies me.

Let’s consider a few First Things here:

1)      We have entered into the sequence of events that will end in the catastrophic collapse of civil society.

2)      From the chaos of collapse, God’s plan will rise, enabling us to confront the remaining challenges of the Storm.

3)      Nothing will ultimately prevail against God’s Holy Church. The bones of all-powerful emperors who once persecuted her are so much dust – along with their once-glittering empires. Since Judas at the beginning, some apostles have tried to hijack her. They, too, are so much dust – while the Church endures.

4)      Jesus promised us Peter’s faith will not fail.

5)      Ever since Jesus ordered His listeners to “…render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s,” the Church has acknowledged a spiritual order in which the Bishops are authoritative and the laity subject, and a temporal order in which the laity is authoritative and the shepherds involved.

6)      God wants all His kids back.

When I start with these premises, several consequences logically flow.

Taking the first three premises into account, civil society is crumbling around us in real time. Such a thing is always accompanied by shocks, offenses, explosions, rubble, mud and blood. It is frightening because it is the end of an order. But it is not the end of order. There is plenty of dust and rumbling during the period of transition, but it is not what it seems. If God is going to intervene to raise up order from this, the best thing would be to prepare well for that Restoration.

I think of it in terms of the Parable of the Wise Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). While not neglecting to do the good we can as the crumbling continues, we must not allow the growing disorder around us to distract us from keeping our lamps filled with the oil of our faith. I do what good I can in the midst of confusion, but I do not lose my peace over all the offenses that now swirl around us. Terrorists rage in a rising tide, most of our freedoms are under assault by the very entities that are supposed to defend them, Christian faith is attacked, belittled and punished at every turn. Sometimes a day goes by without a major atrocity, but rare is the week that goes by without several. I certainly notice these things, but a part of me thinks, what did we expect in the crumbling of the old order?

Meantime I know that the greatest villains in history, the most powerful emperors and brutal atheist autocrats, have not prevailed against the faith. Anti-Christian progressives think they are bounding from victory to victory. I know they are actually discrediting themselves – and knitting together the shrouds they will lay in if they don’t repent. In reality, we have all been delivered up to judgment. The Lord is asking us, “Do you love Me?” If, in these times of turmoil, we make accommodations on the fundamentals of our faith, whatever we answer with our lips, the answer of our actions is, “No.” On the other hand, if we go into despair and condemnation of the world crumbling around us, we do not trust Him enough. We are called to ready the ambulances of the field hospital for those in need around us in the chaos – and to do it with confident resolve. If we go chasing after a strange god because we are shaken or if we start to sink because of our fear of the wind and waves that surround us, we fail. Like the wise virgins of the parable, we are to keep our lamps full of the oil of faith that they may burn brightly when the Master calls us to account.

A few Sundays ago, the First Reading was from Genesis 18:16-33. In it, Abraham bargained with God over the fate of Sodom. In the end, God said He would spare Sodom if even 10 righteous people could be found there. Given the situation, a man in Sodom would have been better advised to endeavor to be righteous than to spend time merely deploring disorder. A genuinely upright person is a sweet incense to the Lord that justifies the extension of much mercy. We are all called to be ambassadors of mercy in this horrible year.

I know that many are – and will be – wounded in the tumult of the collapse around us. I am called to defend against what depredations I can during this chaos, but never to let it distract me from preparing the field ambulances needed to inspire hope and healing – including ultimately the healing of many of those who have wounded themselves by visiting those depredations on us, reigniting the light of the hope that is in Christ when they have burned themselves out. God wants all His kids back.

As to items four and five, it seems to me that to call any validly elected Pope an anti-pope is not to doubt the Pope, but to doubt Christ’s promise that Peter’s faith will not fail. I simply will not do that. To do so is to leave the Church Christ, Himself, founded and search after another. If Christ’s promises were without effect, why would we bother being Christians at all? That is critical and decisive.

The Pope’s formal authority lies in matters of faith and morals. It is decisive when he speaks Magisterially, but is very weighty even when he speaks off the cuff on such matters. This authority adheres to his office. When he speaks Magisterially, it is akin to a judge ruling formally on a matter: decisive. When he speaks off the cuff, it is like a judge penning a formal op-ed column – not decisive, but demanding of weighty consideration. His Magisterial authority is guaranteed by God, Himself.

On temporal matters, the Pope has the right of everyone else to express his views. The worthiness of those views, however, are a function of his person, not his office. They rise or fall on their own merit and as an ancillary function of his public influence: there is no divine authority attached to them. The Pope is not infallible on matters of gardening or architecture – and any errant statements he made on those subjects would have no effect on his actual authority at all. He is also not infallible or authoritative on matters of politics and economics – or any other temporal thing. Whatever merit or lack thereof on such matters flow from his person, not his office. Any mistakes he may make on such matters have nothing to do with his formal spiritual authority.

In the late 90’s, during a large statewide campaign, I was fortunate to have one of the most gifted computer programmers I have ever known at my disposal. I would tell him what I wanted a program to do…and he would design it. Frequently, he would try to regale me with technological details of how he did it. I told him I did not want to know how to design programs – that was his portfolio. It would have been a mess had I tried to design the means to the ends I sought, myself. But he would have been rudderless had I not told him what those ends were.

There is no Pope I have admired more than St. John Paul the Great. The closest candidate would probably be Pope Leo XIII. Even so, I occasionally disagreed with St. John Paul on certain temporal matters. It did not disturb my peace in the slightest, for though John Paul was far more influential and wise than I, we had the same duty and authority on strictly temporal matters of policy. I much appreciated that St. John Paul rarely spoke on temporal matters without first developing a refined knowledge of the details and considering all angles. Even then, he took some pains to recognize the legitimate authority of lay officials in such matters. I heard him in St. Louis in 1999. He made an impassioned plea against the death penalty – even as he recognized that it could be licit under some circumstances and that lay authorities had not just the right, but the duty, to ensure the safety of the public whose welfare they were entrusted with. His passion – and his humility in commenting on it – changed some of my thinking on the matter.

I have been troubled by many of Pope Francis’ comments on temporal matters. The spiritual ends he enunciates are notably orthodox and sound. But many of the means he instinctively prefers have historically produced results that damage his preferred ends rather than enhance them. Even worse, he often does not take pains to consider all angles before speaking on what he is not authoritative on – and shows little regard for the legitimate responsibility of the lay officials who do have authority for them. To tell European countries to accept nearly unlimited immigration from countries that export terrorism without acknowledging their duty to protect their own citizens or offering some concrete advice on how to do so is insulting and disrespectful. It thoroughly discounts the authentic duty of lay authorities – and in the process causes the public to mentally dilute the legitimate authority of the Holy Father. It strikes me as almost as clumsy as if I had presumed to instruct my computer programmer on how to write code instead of telling him what ends I wanted that code to accomplish.

On the other hand, on matters of faith and morals, I have been deeply impressed on how focused Pope Francis is on working to effectively draw souls back to the fullness of the faith and the Sacraments. If this is a great Storm and the Barque of Peter is the vessel which will carry us to the harbor of Rescue, I often imagine the last three Popes as all Popes of the Storm. St. John Paul was the great rehabilitator of the ship. He pulled away all the rotted wood from misinterpretations of Vatican II and refitted the ship with fresh, new, well-seasoned wood, making it fully seaworthy. Pope Emeritus Benedict checked to insure that all systems were in proper running order. Pope Francis is neither of these: he is the captain standing on the deck shouting, “All Aboard!” He does that with marvelous aplomb. Even in his occasionally unclear comments on marriage, I appreciate that he is entirely focused on how to draw all back to the fullness of Sacramental life. The stale dualism that insists on either enabling the very disorders that have made us sick or are content to merely condemn the sick for being sick have accomplished little to heal anyone. Pope Francis is doing a passionate job of working to draw all back to spiritual health. That he does not flag in that effort over worries about making the occasional errant comment is, in my mind, a recommendation of his work rather than a criticism of it.

I have been simultaneously delighted and occasionally dismayed by Pope Francis. I am delighted because, unlike Pope Emeritus Benedict, he has the jubilant swashbuckling character and style I had been led to expect in the Pope who would guide us through the Storm. I have occasionally been dismayed because he is too often inadequately informed on the temporal matters he speaks of and shows little respect for the legitimate authority of those who actually do bear primary prudential responsibility for those things. In fact, I think that speaking so frequently and casually on temporal means is a real blunder on his part. But then, when I am confronted with significant dissonance between what I expected and the reality of a situation, I am more prone to ponder and pray over what God intends in this than to bitterly complain about it.

In this case, we have been spoiled by several Popes who had a refined understanding of many temporal matters, as well as divinely appointed authority on spiritual ones. We have grown accustomed enough to it that we have largely come to think it a function of the office rather than a function of the person of some gifted leaders. Confronted with one who is not as gifted on such things, we question the office and his legitimate authority. In the process, we have neglected our own duty to what is our primary prudential responsibility, while blaming the Pope for what is OUR own neglect of that duty. Our duty to him is neither to attack his legitimate authority, nor to neglect our own. Rather we are called to work together to devise means that are most likely to accomplish the noble ends he speaks authoritatively on. On the matter of his beginning the great work of finding effective ways to bring everyone back to the fullness of Sacramental life, it is our duty to help him, using all our hearts and minds to help refine his thinking when it is not definitive and to fully support him when it is.

These thoughts lead me to these primary conclusions for these times:

1)      It should be no surprise to us that the course of the Storm is…very stormy. These things must come.

2)      God will prevail. We are called to participate in the Rescue He has devised, not contribute to bitter acrimony and confusion.

3)      This Pope IS the Pope of the Storm. He is fitted to this time in Salvation History both by his personal strengths as an inspiration for us and by his personal weaknesses as a rebuke to our neglect. He is protected by the promise of Christ from definitive doctrinal error.

4)      We are called to live our duty of obedience to the formal spiritual authority of the Pope while fully exercising our legitimate responsibility on temporal affairs to secure the ends the faith authentically prescribes.

5)      Christ is asking all of us whether we love Him. It is a great audition. Those who keep their peace amid turmoil and spark hope in their fellows will become useful tools in the Master’s hands for these times. Those who bitterly sow discord and confusion will reap what they have sown.

 

Posted in Christian Persecution, Church Governance, Discernment, Obedience, The Rescue, The Storm | Tagged , , , , , | 310 Comments

Housekeeping Items

I do intend to have the post I have been speaking of up tonight. It is a critical one and I need to get it right. The next post after that will be the second part of the Rules of Regency.

I won’t get to the ‘Jesus King of All Nations’ Conference in Colorado Springs until about noon on Friday.

Mary, my volunteer coordinator, says we have plenty of volunteers for Covington-New Orleans, but we need a coordinator for the region to tie things together. Next month I will be all over the map; Portland, Montana, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, at least. In some states, the meetings are private. I will be at the Texas Right-to-Life Dinner in Houston on September 17. If you can act as coordinator in New Orleans – or want to put an event together, contact Mary at lovedbyhim1026@gmail.com. I am going to make next month a short trip, but I will add on a few visits in areas of any region of the US where people want to put something together quickly.

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The Fog of War and a Papal Field Hospital

3_popes, faith hope and love

(As I get back to work focusing here, I am worried that we are spending way too much time finding things to deplore and getting the vapors over everything the Pope says. If we are reduced to defining ourselves almost exclusively by what we are against rather than by what we are for, we cede a big battle to the devil and go more easily into despair. If we treat debatable comments by the Pope as if they are fearful pronouncements, we could spend all our time in panic. I have been contemplating since the weekend. I have a post going up on it tonight, but our regular commenter, James I McAuley wrote a nice piece that I think is a good lead-in.-CJ)

By James I McAuley, Esq.

Throughout the internet there is an angst, unease with the pronouncement of Pope Francis, especially those that are off the cuff or given at press conferences. Regrettably, this angst has led to the Pope being treated in a disrespectful matter. It is much ado about nothing.

The Catholic faithful throughout the 20th century had a series of popes who were articulate and precise in their public speaking. Three of these popes, Venerable Pius XII, St. John XXIII, and Blessed Paul VI were at one time diplomats and thus were trained to speak in a fashion that was appropriate to the circumstance. To illustrate this point, as Americans, we could compare these Popes to great orators of our history such as Daniel Webster or that great Secretary of State and ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson. When these Popes spoke or wrote, there was no ambiguity in their statements.

With Pope Saint John Paul II we had a Pope  who was a trained actor, teacher, diplomat, pastor and philosopher. St. John Paul came into a Church in crisis and a world in crisis. Swinging his rosary, he examined the big picture and then went to battle. The soul saving Divine Mercy devotion was encouraged, and magisterial, philosophical and theological issues were addressed in a series of incredible encyclicals (Evangelium Vitae and Veritatis Splendor and Dives in Misericordia, to name a few). Rounding out this spiritual arsenal was a new catechism of the Church that John Paul issued. His ability to see the big picture made John Paul much like General George Washington or General Ulysses Simpson Grant. Like these men, John Paul never lost focus of the grand strategic picture of the spiritual war we are engaged in, and no mistakes or scandals could make him lose focus. Like Washington at Monmouth or Grant in the Wilderness, John Paul never lost his head in any crisis. Such a leader restored the confidence of Catholics worldwide.

Pope Benedict XVI was cut from a different cloth. Primarily an academic, he was a theologian. In his position as the head of the Holy Office, Benedict acted as theological Chief of Staff for John Paul. On any major theological issue, John Paul knew he could rely on Benedict to give him a clear answer. As Pope, Benedict kept this approach and it showed in his great motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. Benedict could be compared to General George C. Marshall, a behind the scenes planner who saw the big picture and, by his clear and precise articulation of theological issues, gave orthodox Catholics confidence in the stability of the Church, despite the growing storm.

However, Benedict was a man not comfortable with being on the public stage. Recognizing the growing strength of the spiritual storm, Benedict, like a true chief of staff, thought it prudent to resign his post as Captain of the Barque of Peter and hand the wheel of the ship over to someone else.

Enter Pope Francis, a man best known for speaking imprecisely, but a man who gained managerial skills overseeing a Jesuit province and a south American Archdiocese. Through it all, he has been primarily a pastor. In other words, Francis has spent a lot of time during the reigns of Saint John Paul II and Benedict in the spiritual trenches, field hospitals, and fields of battle. Because of this background, Francis has learned to deal with situations in a matter appropriate for a parish priest. Think about it – have not each one of you heard his parish priest answer a question in language/manner that is more like that of Pope Francis? Francis has not been refined in the papal diplomatic service as Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI. He is not a man with stage talents such as John Paul II. He most certainly is not an academic theologian as Benedict XVI. Rather, he is a pastor, first and foremost. As a pastor, he is looking at the operational situation. In this he is like General Patton – inclined to open his big mouth and stick his foot into it, but at the same time, tell the truth and get the job done by addressing the problem. Because of this background, Francis is not equipped to answer questions/issues in the way we are accustomed to. Unfortunately, in response, many people respond by getting angry, hysterically losing their heads and then spew statements that cause only spiritual harm. Others play the diplomat and attempt to spin/nuance Francis’s statements in whatever fashion that suits their particular opinions.

But take comfort, with Francis we now have a trained pilot at the wheel of the Barque of Peter. Like Admiral Farragut at Mobile Bay, it is damn the torpedoes of Satan and full speed ahead. The storm is not stopping Francis from preaching the truth in charity, as confusing as it may be – do captains on board ships in the middle of storms have the time to sit down and write detailed orders? No, of course they do not! Rather they give brief, terse and often confusing answers/orders, such as Custer’s last message at the Little Big Horn. Now the smoke is thick, the enemy is weakening, and the battle has not even reached its crescendo yet – but let us man our battle station on the Barque of Peter and keep praying for the pope! We will win, and Francis is leading us to victory with our Lady of Tepayac, as sure as Don Juan and St. Pius V did at Lepanto!

 

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