Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

You're not going to like it.

I'm working on a post that encompasses much that has buzzed the more robustly traditionalist segements of the Catholic blogosphere, as re. Pope Francis.

As it takes shape, I am VERY happy that it will almost certainly provide excellent reasons for both upper-case-p Progs and upper-case-t Trads to be displeased with me. Stand by.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Impotence of Being Earnest

I know I'm s'posed to be working on this, as promised. But something came up and I wanted to catch it while it was fresh.

Earlier today, on Facebook, I posted the following:

"We're never going to win the struggle for the culture unless and until we're (also) more clever and wittier than The Other Side. Neverevereverever."

As the whole Supreme Court/Prop. 8 thing is playing out, some of my friends started changing their avatar to that pink-equal-sign-on-a-red-square. Those people who are not especially hip then start wondering "What IS up with that pink-equal-sign-on-a-red-square?" and thus the whole "fairness" thing goes viral, in a way.

So I changed mine to a Humpty Dumpty to underscore my point.

Some other, more stalwart friends of mine, started changing theirs to a pink-something-NOT-equal-sign-on-a-red-square with, of course, Scripture verses.

So here's the problem.

The pink-equal-sign-on-a-red-square crowd are making a VERY simple point (one with which I disagree) in a very direct way. They are getting their point across VERY effectively as witnessed by the massive shift in public opinion over the last, say, 10-15 years on this issue.

Responding with Holy Writ, while establishing our bona fides as True Believers does relatively little to convince the vast and squishy middle. So the argument becomes People Who Are Fair vs. People Who Go Around Spouting Bible Verses. Regardless how you feel about this, it's a colossal turnoff to anyone not already a committed Christian.

There. I said it.

People shut down and immediately Not Hear anything you have to say on the matter. There isn't anyone -- and I mean ANYONE -- who'll say "Oh, wait, St. Paul said that? I'm changing my mind, then." Rather than making a sharper point, to pique the curiosity of someone not fully bound to one argument or the other, to get them to see, in a pithy way, your point (i.e. We're redefining an institution millenniæ old because of people's feelings.) we simply assuage ourselves that hey, we're standing up for what's good and true.

That's as maybe, but it's not bringing anyone over to our side. If we want to win the struggle for the larger culture, we might want to fight like we intend to win.

Friday, March 22, 2013

What I'm working on.

A LONG post on Pope Francis and Catholic politicians in a state of public sin and their receiving Communion. Fireworks fun for the whole family!

Stand by.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Quick note, on how humility works.

For reasons which God'll understand eleventy squajillion times better than I do, you'll recall, I've translated a few pieces from then-Cdl. Bergoglio/now-Pope Francis. Which is fine and great and all that.

That has led to my being contacted by some Professional Catholics® on this matter, seeing as how, if someone should squint REALLY hard he can convince himself I am some sort of "expert" on the Holy Father. (I am not, by any means.)

But it is cool to be quoted in the various places as someone with some insight on the thinking of the Pope.

So I was feeling extra-special good about my 15 minutes of fame until I ran across this gem in a combox that put me in my place:
You should try and get his Lenten Letter for this year [LINK] and his 2008 Palm Sunday Homily [LINK] They are great. Though unofficial and rough translations, they give one a sense of his thought and preaching. Perhaps someone could re-translate or touch up these translations.



P.S. I will grant that my typing is rough...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Me and Pope Francis/Cdl. Bergoglio...sorta.

I'll tell you a story, since there's nothing good on the Internet right now.

Every morning, after the (usually) 8am Mass, I carve a few moments for Adoration. When I heard that Benedict XVI was retiring, I made it a point to bring his ministry to Adoration.

After a few days -- because I'm quick like that -- it dawned on me that I should also bring to Adoration the College of Cardinals who'd be huddling up... all Conclave-like to elect a successor.

In the process of doing so, for some reason it came into my mind after a few days (again...because I have reflexes like a lynx) while in Adoration, to pray something like this:

"Lord, ONLY IF SUCH A PONTIFICATE WOULD BE PLEASING TO YOU, please place Cdl. Bergoglio in the minds of the Cardinal Electors to ascend to the Chair of St. Peter."
Obviously, my regard for then-Cdl. Bergoglio was (and is) quite strong, as evidenced by the number of homilies, letters, etc. which I translated -- translating is kind of a pain in the [bad word] so that should be an indication of the esteem in which I hold our current Holy Father -- to say nothing of the other over ones to which I haven't yet gotten to, over the course of years and years.
No johnny-come-lately I.
But, so as not to get you too hopped up, God has not yet gotten into a pattern of granting me my requests exactly as I phrase them. (Dum spiro, spero.)

Still, I feel like the nerdy kid who hits a grand slam after many, many at-bats.

Friday, March 15, 2013

...and NOW, for what I think.

I have tweaked the blogroll. Updated some links and, sadly, deleted some links to websites where their authors posted (or irresponsibly permitted the posting of) inexcusably uncharitable comments on Pope Francis. Not particulalry in the mood to send readers their way. Whatever consequences ensue will not prove to be something which will weigh heavily upon my conscience. Pray for them.

To all the new kids...hi. Some very kind retweeting/reposting/linking -- contrary to some third hand accounts, I am not a Jesuit; just a regular guy educated and formed by many saintly ones -- has led a whole swarm of people to discover my semi-neglected blog, on the strength of some translations I had done of then-Cdl. Bergoglio's pastoral letters and homilies (found here, if you can manage in Spanish). The good news is that I have translated more than is posted on this blog, the bad news is that those translations were on my pal Karen's now-defunct blog, the late, lamented Some Have Hats. [Moment of silence.] I am trying to retrieve those translations and will post them when I do.

Please pray for the Holy Father. He is getting a lot of flak from the Usual Suspects (yawn!) and, sadly, he's also getting flak from people who really, really should know better. Pray for them also, s.v.p.

And now, we rejoin my blog post, already in progress.

If you have been with this blog from Back In The Day, you will recall that I have been strongly drawn to then-Cdl. Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.

So I had an unfair advantage on Wednesday.

I was listening to some rather excellent tropical exotica music, when my wife texted me
Immediately I turned to a news station on the radio. Yes, there had been white smoke, and the news anchors blathered and repeated and reiterated the dullest talking points imaginable as the world waited. But in the back of my mind, I was glad. I ached to be in front of a TV screen.

"Please, God, don't let me miss this."

Some unwise driving maneuvers and uncharitable honking later, I screeched to a halt in my driveway, lowering property values in the process. I sprinted inside the house like when I had too much espresso and San Pellegrino and foolishly didn't avail myself of the facilities before setting off.

I turned on the TV, fumbled with the remote to find EWTN.

At that nanosecond, the curtains to the loggia opened and a thin, frail Cardinal (Cdl. Tauran, the Protodeacon, who suffers from Parkinson's) came out and, looking like it took all his strength and might, said:

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum...habemus papam!
Crowd goes wild.
Then the din dies down.

Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum,
Yes? Go on.

Dominum Georgium
George? Y'mean PELL is the new Pope?

WHOA. It's Bergoglio!

Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Bergoglio,
It is! It IS Bergoglio!

Qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.
At this point all my Steubenville pals get all excited.

Karen (Remember her? Many of Cdl. Bergoglio's best stuff, as translated by me to English, was on her old blog.) called me, her girlish glee barely restrained. Five years ago we had had a casual dinner with several Jesuit pals of ours -- whose holiness was evident by the fact they said Grace when the cocktails arrived -- and the name Bergoglio floated by. The assembled Jesuits all nodded reverently at this mention.

"Did they really pick a Jesuit?" We were overjoyed, knowing something about the man. Here was a guy who could swing the axe; had, in fact, swung the axe. Swung the axe when it would have been infinitely more expedient to leave said axe unswung. Swung it and not counted the (considerable, at times) the cost.

Now, among some of my Traditionalist confreres (including my pal Michael Brendan Dougherty), there was some worry. In some cases, outright desolation. Despondency. Anger. They were, as Jackie Mason puts it, "nauseous and disturbed." The inmates at Rorati Cæli were particularly throbbing with indignation, and some of the posts thereat, and comments thereto, were (in my considered opinion) in their scandalous lack of charity -- or basic research -- woeful, disgraceful and appalling. But, hey, I'm used to being appalled so I was able to soldier on past the wailing and gnashing of Jansenist* teeth.

To say that a riptide of discomfort has manifested itself in some of the "Trad" ranks is an understatement. I theorize that Burkean conservatism runs in many a Trad vein, and that carries with it a sort of genetic predisposition for melancholy and despair with it.

(That the outer fringe of the "Spirit of Vatican II" contingent is, or will be, mightily disappointed in this Pope is a given. I cannot say the matter weighs heavily upon my conscience.)

It must be said the Holy Father and I do not seem to share liturgical sensibilities. I harbor no illusions he will lead that particular charge. I share the concerns of those who are especially attached to the EF Mass. (Irony of ironies, it is at our Jesuit-run parish where the TLM is closest to me.) I am not downplaying that.

Color me Pollyanna-on-XTC but even that -- and I am on record as being as big a fan of High Church traditionalism as can be managed without genetic engineering -- is not sufficient to dampen my enthusiasm for the current Holy Father. I note the Pope has actually spoken bluntly about the "hot button issues" and called them for what they are. He could have very easily mumbled vague disapproval as so very, very many of his brother bishops have. But to call something -- openly, without even the merest chemical trace of shame or compunction -- the work of Satan? Who else within the last 25 years has said that? Or, what's more, said so relentlessly and without pause?

And he picks the theme up in his 1st papal homily, all the while as he extemporizes a beautiful catechesis on how the Church must profess Christ and His cross.

Yes, I have my liturgical concerns. But I am hopeful and, at least for now, remain very pleased.



* For those of you who cannot be bothered to read up on Jansenism, every time you come across the term, just replace it with "prissy pessimism" and that'll be close enough for Curial work.