Category Archives: Featured
After years of scandal and controversy, it’s easy to forget how heroic so many of our priests are. We must support them and pray for them.
And we, Catholic brothers and sisters, must remain brave ourselves, and firm in our Faith! Tribulations are coming. One could easily argue (Wuhan Virus, anyone?) that they are here already.
“Take it, lad. You need it more than I do.” – Chaplain George Rentz, giving his life jacket to a seaman following the sinking of USS Houston during the Battle of Sunda Strait, 1942.
Commander George Rentz was a Chaplain aboard USS Houston, a cruiser sunk during a fierce naval battle with superior Japanese forces in the dark days of 1942. Clinging desperately to a hopelessly overloaded piece of wreckage with several other sailors, he relinquished his spot of safety. Giving his lifejacket to a young seaman with those words, he pushed away, treading water for a while before his strength gave out and he sank below the waves, joining 800 other men from Houston who perished that day. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his action, the only chaplain so honored during the Second World War.
Please God that he has received a far greater reward.
Rentz’s words became one of a handful of famous naval sayings which (along with better known phrases like “Don’t give up the ship” or “I have not yet begun to fight”) my Naval Academy classmates and I were ordered to commit to memory over 45 years ago.
It’s funny how those words stick with you. Thinking about it now, those three phrases (which I shouted with gusto as a sweating frightened Midshipman 4th Class whenever prompted by an upperclassman) can apply to us Catholics of a traditional/orthodox bent during these troubling and apocalyptic times for our Church. And surely 2020 will be a year as dark for our beloved Catholic Church as was 1942 for the U.S. Navy, the year Rentz laid down his life.
Hopefully, nobody reading this will be scratching their heads wondering why I lament the state of things in our Church. If you don’t know the situation, you simply haven’t been paying attention. For the rest of us, perhaps those three phrases will seem like good advice.
“Don’t give up the ship!” – I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I’m abandoning the Barque of Peter, no matter how hot the battle.
“I’ve not yet begun to fight!” – The enemy is demanding our surrender. Far from complying, we’re about to renew the battle with fierce determination.
“Take it, lad. You need it more than I do.” – Well, maybe this one isn’t as clear. Let me explain.
My response to the desperate battle facing us is nowhere near as noble or heroic as what that chaplain (only a month away from full retirement) did amidst one of the fiercest naval battles of World War II. It’s really pretty trivial and cheezy in comparison.
Instead of giving up my lifejacket, I’m giving up my seat at my FSSP parish.
My FSSP parish is small. When FSSP was granted permission to have a parish in my city, the small run-down church had been closed and abandoned, stark evidence of Catholicism’s post-Vatican II continual collapse. After three years of effort (including some pretty serious engineering), the building had been restored to its former beauty. The high altar was in place, and all vestiges of the Novus Ordo experiment were gone.
And our little parish began steadily growing. It wasn’t just cranky old timers incapable of “getting with the times,” as the Traditional Mass’ detractors like to paint us. Nope. More and more young families came through our doors. In ten years our little outfit produced five vocations.
The growth was steady but manageable. Then came the Summer of Shame.
When it became evident how rampant the scandals, how deep the rot, how Modernist the hierarchy, and how big the mess confronting our Catholic faith, attendance at my little parish exploded. We ushers saw more and more new faces every week. There were more and more new families showing up. They were curious first-timers, and they had questions which we tried to answer, always encouraging them to come back.
And, boy, did they come back! Our job as ushers, of course, included finding seats for our parishioners and visitors. These days we look less like ushers and more like those famous Japanese train conductors who have to pack passengers like sardines! Our three FSSP priests laid on additional Sunday Masses to alleviate the strain, but the crowds kept growing. We’re now at the point where if you don’t show up for Mass at least a half hour early, you’re not going to get a seat…at least not in a pew inside the church.
During good weather (which is abundant in our state), we leave the double doors open and set up two rows of folding chairs under a portable canopy. People sit outside, peering in and listening to the homily broadcast on exterior speakers. During the parts of the Mass where you’re supposed to kneel, they kneel uncomplainingly on the concrete sidewalk. We’ve taken two of our classrooms and made them overflow rooms where the Mass is relayed via WiFi onto large screen displays.
A first-time visitor to our parish shouldn’t be forced to watch from such disadvantaged locations, so it isn’t uncommon for parish “regulars” to give up their pew for a visitor.
Such is the state of our little Latin Mass parish.
The good news is that we’re not the only place in our city where the Mass is offered in the Extraordinary Form. Two much larger parishes have brave priests who offer the Latin Mass at least once a week, offering their parishioners the opportunity to attend the Extraordinary Form in addition to their regular Novus Ordo Masses. I say these priests are brave for two reasons: first of all, they haven’t had the extensive training which Latin-only outfits like FSSP, ICKSP, and SSPX seminarians go through. The Latin Mass is beautiful, but certainly difficult for a man not trained from the ground up in saying it. Secondly, our city is home to one of the more liberal bishops in America. So far, he has been tolerant of these pre-1969 Masses being said by his diocesan priests. That, of course, could change at any moment.
I’ve attended these Latin Masses, and they are growing as well. They’re both said in very large churches, so there’s still plenty of room. I’d put the attendees at a Novus Ordo parish Latin Mass at about (this is a very unscientific wag) 40% Traddie and 60% Novie. Many, many families are being exposed to the old rite. It’s good to have a significant number of Traddies in the pews there. We act as guides of a sort, I guess. If you’re a Novie Newbie and are struggling to keep up, it’s helpful to keep an eye on the people wearing mantillas and sporting those massive black missals. When they kneel, you kneel. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!
I’ve also struck up a friendship with the pastor of one of these Novus Ordo parishes. He’s a wonderful guy, orthodox in his theology and eager to bring authentic Church teachings to his people. I love encouraging and supporting him. Due to logistical imperatives (dealing with chronically ill family members), my wife and I have been attending separate Masses on Sunday in order to always have somebody at home. She’s been going to this Latin Mass at the big Novus Ordo church for a couple of years now.
Now, I’m doing likewise.
I’m still a member of my FSSP parish, and continue to support them financially. I still plan to get there at least once a month. But I think it’s time to give up my pew there to make room for that next confused and battered Catholic who stumbles through the door in search of the genuine Faith which seems to be evaporating before our eyes in far too many places.
To that Novie looking for a pew where they can experience the full beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass, I gladly say, “Take it, lad (or lass). You need it more than I do.”
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in early 2019. We’re re-publishing it now to coincide with the recently concluded annual March for Life.
Sorry, Your Eminence. Despite your best efforts to downplay the scandal, excommunication very much remains “a thing!!” It is considered a harsh remedy for the salvation of a soul in desperate danger of damnation, but it is still very much a tool which a caring shepherd can use in a situation like this.
Notwithstanding our silly little meme which opens this article, why haven’t our bishops acted to excommunicate notable (and notorious) Catholic politicians who actively support infanticide and abortion? Here are three reasons. You might find Reason #1 hard to take, but please consider it.
Reason #1: “It’s not ‘pastoral.'”
“Pastoral” is one of those handy post-Vatican II buzzwords that can mean pretty much just about anything the priest, bishop, or trendy theologian using the word wants it to mean. In its most common use, “pastoral” appears to mean “we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” If you pair this word up with the equally-potent term “mercy,” you have a powerful incantation which permits you remain inactive, even if public figures in your diocese are actively defying Church teachings, committing egregious mortal sins, and encouraging everyone around them to do likewise.
“We must show mercy. We must be pastoral.” That’s number one on on our hit parade. Upon further considerations, that really isn’t a reason, so much as it’s an excuse.
Mercy is absolutely essential to our salvation, there’s no debating that point. What is conveniently overlooked by so many of our modern theologians, prelates, and celebrity priests is the fact that mercy as a concept is meaningless if it does not remain paired with the concept of justice. A person who sins (that’s all of us) will be subject to the Divine Justice unless they are saved by the Divine Mercy. Mercy manifests itself through the sacrament of Reconciliation: you acknowledge your sins in the confessional, you show true sorrow and perform penance, and you are once more under the protection of Mercy because you’re once more in a state of sanctifying Grace.
In His earthly ministry, Jesus showed true pastoral care and mercy towards His lost sheep by living among them, sharing meals with them, and calling them to repentance. When He was dining with publicans and sinners, he wasn’t “accompanying them on their journey.” While he was eating with them, He wasn’t affirming their present lifestyle; he was calling them out of it. And in his preaching, Jesus made it abundantly clear what would happen to their souls if they failed to turn away from sin; if they failed to repent and follow Him.
He reminded them of the reality of hell, and of the horrifying consequences of dying in a state of mortal sin. He offered them a way out of this eternal damnation which they had earned, if only they repented and accepted His gift of salvation through the Cross. Now that’s being pastoral!
That’s what excommunication does: it points out–in no uncertain terms–the state of danger a person’s soul is in as a result of mortal sin and calls that person to repentance. And not only the person who is the object of this public call to repentance…an excommunication serves as an exhortation for all of us to repent, confess our sins, and to avoid the types of sins which have produced this grave set of circumstances for the public figure who is the object of this harsh remedy.
Bishops and cardinals: you want to be pastoral? Then call your people away from sin through whatever means necessary–including excommunication–in order that they may benefit from Christ’s divine Mercy!
Reason #2: They don’t want to upset the applecart.
These bishops have a pretty good racket going. They’re respected (well, maybe not so much these days), they’re considered pillars of the community, and they perceive themselves as being beloved of their people. If they’re a big-city bishop, they’re probably rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. They’re accepted by the local glitterati, and just might be considered a major celebrity in their own right. They’re like the unpopular kid in school who suddenly finds themselves accepted by and hanging out with all the kids in the highest rung of the social ladder…jocks, cheerleaders…heck, they might even get chosen to have a big role in Homecoming!
And, equally important, there are those financial considerations. Dioceses and archdioceses are big money operations. Many of them receive government money to engage in social and charitable work. These are not insignificant sums. Initiating a God-vs.-Caesar type of conflict by excommunicating a very powerful politician could have some very serious financial implications.
And that’s unfortunate. The role of a bishop is first and foremost to defend his sheep and do everything they can to help them get to Heaven. When their excellencies and eminences look into the mirror each morning, they’re supposed to see shepherd willing to lay down his life for the sake of his sheep staring back at them. Instead, too many of these men instead see the CEO of a charitable NGO (non-governmental organization) with obligations to “the bottom line”…and that vision informs all their actions.
Yes, there are certainly going to be consequences to a public excommunication. Reason #2 means you’re more concerned with the temporal consequences than you are with the eternal ones.
Reason #3: Moral cowardice and/or lack of supernatural faith.
Lacking the guts to do the right thing and call a Catholic politician who is endangering their own soul (and countless souls around them) to Judgement and everlasting fire…what can that be called other than cowardice? This ties in with Reason #2 to a great extent; something as profound as a public excommunication is going to have consequences. If the fears of earthly retaliation (social, political, economic) are strong enough, the prelate fails to act…even if he knows in his heart he is doing the wrong thing; knows in his heart that souls are in danger but he simply can’t muster the courage to do the hard thing…the right thing.
Pray for these men. They are like the Apostles who dearly loved Jesus, but fled in terror from Gethsemane when confronted with the specter of temporal suffering which would arise from remaining at their Savior’s side. They love their Lord, and may yet find their backbones. Pray for them, support them, and encourage them to do the right thing.
And the other component of reason number one is a most terrifying theory: what if these men simply don’t believe that it matters?
Has their faith been deadened to the point where they really don’t believe in the consequences of personal sin? What if “mercy trumps all” dominates their mind to the point where they completely disregard justice? Have they convinced themselves that there truly is “a reasonable expectation that all people go to heaven,” and–that aside from Hitler and people who throw plastics into the ocean–nobody will merit everlasting punishment? It almost seems as if some of them are acting that way.
Pray for these men as well.
And, by all means, pray for the souls of those who promote, procure and perform abortions, as well as for those who support or assist them. They–along with us–are being called to accept God’s eternal Mercy, but if they reject the gift of the Cross, what happens then? “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)
Your Excellencies and Eminences, listen to Hank Igitur in this video. He’ll explain it to you…
Take a close look at this “O-Antiphon” tweet by the USCCB from Wednesday, 18 December. Do you see any symbology which looks a little…well…Masonic?
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge! pic.twitter.com/VGfU3QW43W
— U.S. Catholic Bishops (@USCCB) December 17, 2019
And, yes, I do know that the eye within the triangle, the “All-Seeing Eye of God” has a Catholic history. You can see it displayed in the artwork of old churches and manuscripts. But for the last several hundred years, it has been co-opted by the Lodge as a distinctly Masonic symbol. As such, it has gained a fair degree of toxicity. It’s no different than the rainbow. What was once thought of as the universal sign of God’s pledge never again to destroy the world with water, it has now become the universal sign of something rather different, hasn’t it? So it is with this symbol.
The question begs itself: was this simply a slip-up by the poor seminarian whose collateral duty it is to pretend he’s tweeting on behalf of all the bishops in the USCCB? Or was the symbology fully understood ahead of time.
Has the USCCB, in fact, gone “full Modernist?”
Confused about some of the perplexing pronouncements being issued from press conferences in aircraft or even papal documents? You’re not alone!
There has been quite a bit of “churn” over the past few years, and the tempo seems to be increasing daily. What has the Catholic Church always taught about things like divorce, homosexuality, the legitimacy of other religions, or even the death penalty? If you’re attempting to follow the news coming from Rome (whether through official press releases, established news organizations, or the blogosphere), it’s small wonder if you reach the troubling conclusion that doctrine is “up for grabs” and subject to modernization.
Well, it isn’t. If you want some reassurance on that point, read on.
It’s only eight pages, but if the last few years have left you feeling confused or uncertain about the true teachings of the Church, you owe it to yourself to read “Declaration of the Truths Relating to Some of the Most Common Errors in the Life of the Church of Our Time.”
Read New ‘Declaration of Truths’ Affirms Key Church Teachings in the National Catholic Register.
If you want to purchase a hard copy (might make a dandy Christmas or birthday gift), you can pick it up for just a few bucks at MarianCatechist.com.
It’s a thing that’s all the rage in our politically-correct culture (“rage” in the sense that it’s wildly popular and also “rage” in the sense of those who delight in virtue-signaling their imagined outrage at something unspeakably offensive): If you dare to don a sombrero but you’re not Mexican, that’s “cultural appropriation.” It’s a BIG no-no these days. At best, those guilty of cultural appropriation are insensitive and ignorant. At worst, they’re intentionally evil bigots or racists, probably both. It’s all part of the Snowflake Syndrome rampaging through college campuses and trendy social circles.
And that got me thinking. If it’s inappropriate for somebody to wear garb considered unique to one particular race, nation, or culture, why is it not considered inappropriate to hijack the second most important holiday for a billions of Christians and use it as an occasion for commercial profiteering, donning the stylized garb of a completely misunderstood/mischaracterized Catholic saint, or trivializing it with the addition of reindeer and dancing snowmen?
Take that peppermint chip off your shoulder.
Should Christians take offense when we see people who are obviously clueless about our holiday going to great lengths to appropriate the holiday for their own use, tossing out doctrines they find uncomfortable while retaining the emotionally-satisfying portions (and adding ridiculous components of their own invention to boot)? Would a Muslim tolerate such behavior by the population at large during Ramadan? (Imagine for a moment a clever ad agency executive who invents “Robbie the Ramadan Raccoon” as an appealing way to sell toys and seasonal apparel to celebrate the holiday…that kind of hijacking of a religious holiday probably wouldn’t be too well-received.)
If we’re bold in proclaiming our faith, we might respond with a gentle reminder like “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” and leave it at that. It’s a subtle way of saying, “Hey, Christmas is important to me, and maybe it should be important to you as well.” But that’s about as far as it goes.
Do I think we should all put a big peppermint chip on our shoulders starting the first Sunday of Advent and stomp around just daring anyone to knock it off, then howl “cultural appropriation!” when they do?
Of course not. The Christmas message is meant for the entire world. And while committed Christians understand that the Crib leads to the Cross, this most essential aspect of Christmas is pretty much entirely lost to our secular friends and neighbors. Throwing a hissy-fit because secularists have hijacked Christmas to suit their own materialistic and/or self-satisfying ends doesn’t do anything to promote the salvation of their souls. We just need to figure out a way to re-direct the world’s attention away from the cash register and back towards the Creche (and ultimately, the Cross). And, considering that for so many people, a Nativity scene has value only if it can serve as a backdrop for that awesome Christmas selfie to go on Instagram, this is quite a challenge.
A chance to evangelize…just a little, anyway!
Should we, as believing Christians, take advantage of the numerous teaching moments presented to us as a way to share our faith, and just maybe evangelize the lost and unbelieving world which surrounds us?
Here’s an example of one potential “teaching moment:”
“Do you know what the origin of your candy cane is? It’s based on something called a crozier, the staff carried by Catholic bishops like Saint Nicholas.”
That lead-in sentence, inoffensive and disarming as it appears on the surface, would allow me to enter into a broader discussion on the real St. Nicholas, tying the entire modern and utterly ridiculous “Cult of Santa Claus” back to an authentic historical (and Christian) origin. Such a conversation isn’t an In-Your-Face/Take-This-Pamphlet type of event. It’s more of a non-threatening “fun fact” type of thing which nonetheless diverts the listener’s attention back in the general direction of our Christian understanding of Christmas…even if tangentially, and even if only for a moment.
They’re on OUR turf now!
And, of course, the few remaining Nativity scenes I might see in public offer me a similar opportunity for a casual, two to three sentence evangelization opportunity. In a way, we can consider somebody stopping to admire a Creche (even if only pausing for that all-important Instagram selfie) as having stepped onto “our turf,” and speaking to them in a friendly manner about the display’s meaning is not an intrusion. If they’re showing even passing interest in the trappings associated with Christendom’s second most important holy day, then in a way, they’re pretty much “fair game.”
Imagine yourself stopping to admire some brightly colored lights strung up for the commemoration of Ramadan. If you stopped to admire them, and a well-meaning Muslim came up to you and said, “Hi. Do you know why we celebrate Ramadan?” would you take offense? Probably not. If you have any manners at all, you’d probably listen politely, and perhaps even engage in a friendly conversation.
We can take that attitude as well.
IF I have to guts to actually go through with it.
I get excited when I see a bishop brandishing a Louisville Slugger. I’m hoping that he’s going to smash a couple of those Pachamama statues, but alas, that’s rarely the case these days. It’s more likely that he’s going to take a swing at Catholic dogma instead.
Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville made waves on social media the last week of November 2019 by making some outlandish statements on Twitter regarding the worship of Jesus during Mass. As of the time of this posting, you can’t find those direct quotes on Twitter (they’ve been taken down, it seems), but as they say, “The Internet is forever.”
Here they are for your consideration:
OK, so there’s that. Odd.
And certainly heterodox. Why would a bishop even say such a thing? Is he one of those post-Vatican II “the Mass isn’t a sacrifice, it’s a community meal” kind of guys? Did he simply misspeak?
Anyone can make a mistake on Twitter, especially with that darned talk-to-text feature! (Who hasn’t gotten themselves into trouble using that on a smart phone?!)
But we also have this:
As a bit of a rebuttal to the good Bishop (whom we should all pray for), please consider this short video:
I thought we had hit rock bottom in 2018, but boy, was I wrong. 2019 has been one whopper of a year when it comes to inexplicable and hurtful actions by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
With a sad smile to my sedevacantist friends, yes I still do call him my Holy Father. Abusive as my spiritual father may be, I still need to pray for him. It’s difficult to simply pray for “the intentions of the Holy Father,” because I frankly mistrust his intentions. What I do pray for is his conversion. For his return to orthodoxy. For God to mold him into the man He truly intends for him to be.
And, in the meantime, I will–to whatever extent I am able, pathetic though it might be–resist the Holy Father when he’s wrong.
It’s difficult for me to put into words the pain and sense of betrayal I feel when I consider how Pope Francis has led our Catholic Church. Perhaps you feel the same way. May I recommend the Open Letter to Pope Francis penned by Michael Matt of The Remnant newspaper.
You can read the letter at the link above, or you can hear it in this moving video:
“We should be introducing — we were thinking — in the Catechism of the Catholic Church the sin against ecology, ecological sin against the common home, because it is our duty.” So said Pope Francis in an off-the-cuff remark to a gathering of prosecutors and criminologists in Rome on November 15th.
According to the much-respected (among Modernists, anyway) America Magazine:
Today’s throwaway culture, as well as other “psycho-social phenomenon” pose threats to the common good while insidiously promoting a “culture of hate,” he said. These threats, he added, often take the form of “symbols and actions that are typical of Nazism.”…
Chief among those crimes, he added, are acts that “can be considered as ‘ecocide’: the massive contamination of air, land and water resources, the large-scale destruction of flora and fauna, and any action capable of producing an ecological disaster or destroying an ecosystem.”
Pope Francis also called on the international community to recognize ecocide as a “fifth category of crime against peace.”
How about you, friend? Are you a wretched sinner, guilty of transgressions against our common home? Repent now, or you will face Mother Earth on the terrible Day of EcoJudgement.
The Pontifex Maximus is dead serious about these crimes against Holy Mother Earth. Methinks Hank Igitur and Mr. Dogma are in BIG TROUBLE…
Or…follow the link to see Hank’s environmental crimes on YouTube here:
Pope Francis condemns ecological sins and Nazi-inspired rhetoric, Religion News Service
Pope Francis: Catechism will be updated to define ecological sins, America Magazine