Thursday, March 22, 2012

St. Benedict - Patron Saint of the Politically Incorrect?

Yesterday, March 21, was the Feast Day of St. Benedict Abbot, born around 480 A.D.  He is not very well known, and his feast day is no longer celebrated in the Novus Ordo calendar.  But we still celebrate him on the Traditional Calendar.  Below is the story of his life taken from the Traditional Breviary.  St. Benedict's story struck me as the story of someone with tremendous courage who was not afraid to stand up for what he knew was right, even when such a stand put his life in danger.  In our days of political correctness, he would be demonized as intolerant and bigoted.  There is only one sin left in our society, and it is that of intolerance.  But intolerance is a sin only when it is directed towards what use to be called sin, such as immorality, lying, stealing, cheating, etc.  Tolerance of "what was formerly known as sin" is now seen in our world as loving and compassionate - after all, we are all merely victims of our circumstances and environment.  And the taboos of the past - such as homosexuality, adultery, promiscuity, etc. - are nothing more than the neuroses of repressed people. 

St. Benedict's story also tells us how he dealt with severe temptation - he rolled around in thorns until the physical pain drove out the temptations of the flesh.  This is in direct contradiction to the philosophy of the modern world which says, "If it feels good, do it."  This "feel good" philosophy is directly from Satan himself, and can and does lead to our destruction, both physical and spiritual. 

So here is the story of St. Benedict from yesterday's Matins:
Benedict was born of a noble family at Norcia, and studied letters at Rome. Desiring to give himself to Christ Jesus, he betook himself to a very deep cave at the place now called Subiaco. In this place he lay hid for three years, unknown to all except the monk Romanus, by means of whom he received the necessaries of life. While he was in the cave at Subiaco, the devil one day assailed him with an extraordinary storm of impure temptation, and to get it under, he rolled himself in brambles till his whole body was lacerated, and the sting of pain drove out the sallies of lust. At last the fame of his holiness spread itself abroad from the desert, and some monks came to him for guidance, but the looseness of their lives was such that they could not bear his exhortations, and they plotted together to poison him in his drink. When they gave him the cup, he made the sign of the Cross over it, whereupon it immediately broke, and Benedict left that monastery, and retired to a desert place alone.

Nevertheless his disciples followed him daily, and for them he built twelve monasteries, and set holy laws to govern them. Afterwards he went to Cassino, and brake the image of Apollo which was still worshipped there, overturned the altar, and burnt the groves. There, he built the Church of St. Martin and the little chapel of St. John ; and instilled Christianity into the townspeople and inhabitants. He grew in the grace of God day by day, so that being endowed with the spirit of prophecy he foretold things to come. When Totila, King of the Goths, heard of it, and would see whether it really were so, he sent his spatharius before him, with the kingly ensigns and attendance, and feigning himself to be Totila. But as soon as Benedict saw him he said : My son, put off that which thou wearest, for it is not thine. To Totila himself he foretold that he would go to Rome, would cross the sea, and would die after nine years.

Some months before he departed this life, Benedict forewarned his disciples on what day he was to die ; and he ordered his grave to be opened six days before he was carried to it. On the sixth day, he would be carried into the Church, where he received the Eucharist, and then, in the arms of his disciples, with his eyes lifted up to heaven, and wrapt in prayer, he gave up the ghost. Two monks saw his soul rising to heaven, clothed in a most precious garment and surrounded with lights, and One of a most glorious and awful aspect standing above, whom they heard saying : This is the way whereby Benedict, the beloved of the Lord, goeth up to heaven.

The Glory of St. Benedict
Whitney Houston
in her last hours on earth
I think of the recent death of Whitney Houston, who lived a hedonistic lifestyle where she did whatever she wanted.  This did not give her the freedom she was looking for, but instead enslaved her until her addictions finally killed her at the age of 48. Would she have done better to roll around in the thorns as St. Benedict did?  Certainly it would have been better for her soul than putting cocaine up her nose and guzzling pills and booze.  Am I advocating such severe mortifications as those engaged in by St. Benedict?  No, of course not.  But we have to learn to say no to our own lusts and do whatever it takes to turn away from sin.  We must, as our Lord commanded, take up our cross and follow him.  If we do, like St. Benedict, we will one day rise in glory to our Creator.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

American Freedom - Down The Toilet

During the past 10+ years, since the attacks of 9/11, we have seen our constitutional rights increasingly eroded.  First there was the Patriot Act, which took away our 4th Amendment right because the Act allows surveillance without probable cause.  We have warrantless surveillance, extended by Obama.  We have the TSA either groping or radiating us at the airports.  Here in New York City, we are told that we can have our bags searched at any time in the subway and there is nothing we can do about it.  We have cameras watching our every move. 

All of this is completely unconstitutional, and too many Americans, sadly, are accepting it because they are told it is the only way to be safe.  On December 31, 2011, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law, which gives him and any future president the power to order the military to take any American into indefinite custody without a charge, trial or conviction. 

Now we have a new Executive Order signed by the President on March 16, 2012, which gives the government the ability to take anything and everything away from us. 

Let's face it, folks, we live in a de facto dictatorship, and it's only going to get worse. 

Here is an article describing the newest attack on our freedom.

New Obama Executive Order Seizes U.S. Infrastructure and Citizens for Military Preparedness

Brandon Turbeville

In a stunning move, on March 16, 2012, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order stating that the President and his specifically designated Secretaries now have the authority to commandeer all domestic U.S. resources including food and water. The EO also states that the President and his Secretaries have the authority to seize all transportation, energy, and infrastructure inside the United States as well as forcibly induct/draft American citizens into the military. The EO also contains a vague reference in regards to harnessing American citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of national defense.

Not only that, but the authority claimed inside the EO does not only apply to National Emergencies and times of war. It also applies in peacetime.

The National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order exploits the “authority” granted to the President in the Defense Production Act of 1950 in order to assert that virtually every means of human survival is now available for confiscation and control by the President via his and his Secretaries’ whim.

The unconstitutionality of the overwhelming majority of Executive Orders is well established, as well as the illegality of denying citizens their basic Constitutional and human rights, even in the event of a legitimate national emergency. Likewise, it should also be pointed out that, like Obama’s recent Libyan adventure and the foregone conclusion of a Syrian intervention, there is no mention of Congress beyond a minor role of keeping the allegedly co-equal branch of government informed on contextually meaningless developments.

As was mentioned above, the scope of the EO is virtually all-encompassing. For instance, in “Section 201 – Priorities and Allocations Authorities,” the EO explains that the authority for the actions described in the opening paragraph rests with the President but is now delegated to the various Secretaries of the U.S. Federal Government. The list of delegations and the responsibility of the Secretaries as provided in this section are as follows:

(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;
(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;
(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;
(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;
(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and
(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.
One need only to read the “Definitions” section of the EO in order to clearly see that terms such as “food resources” is an umbrella that includes literally every form of food and food-related product that could in any way be beneficial to human survival.
That being said, “Section 601 – Secretary of Labor” delegates special responsibilities to the Secretary of Labor as it involves not just materials citizens will need for survival, but the actual citizens themselves.
Obviously, the ability of the U.S. government to induct and draft citizens into the military against their will is, although a clear violation of their rights, not an issue considered shocking by its nature of having been invoked so many times in the past. Logically, this “authority” is provided for in this section.
However, what may be shocking is the fact that Section 601 also provides for the mobilization of “labor” for purposes of the national defense. Although some subsections read that evaluations are to be made regarding the “effect and demand of labor utilization,” the implication is that “labor” (meaning American workers) will be considered yet one more resource to be seized for the purposes of “national defense.” The EO reads,
Sec. 601. Secretary of Labor. (a) The Secretary of Labor, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other agencies, as deemed appropriate by the Secretary of Labor, shall:
(1) collect and maintain data necessary to make a continuing appraisal of the Nation's workforce needs for purposes of national defense;
(2) upon request by the Director of Selective Service, and in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, assist the Director of Selective Service in development of policies regulating the induction and deferment of persons for duty in the armed services;
Notice that the language of the EO does not state “in the event of a national emergency.” Instead, we are given the term “purposes of national defense.” This is because the “authorities” assumed by the President have been assumed not just for arbitrary declarations of “national emergency” but for peacetime as well. Indeed, the EO states this much directly when it says,
The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 107(b)(1) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2077(b)(1), to take appropriate action to ensure that critical components, critical technology items, essential materials, and industrial resources are available from reliable sources when needed to meet defense requirements during peacetime, graduated mobilization, and national emergency.
Presidential Executive Orders have long been used illegally by Presidents of every political shade and have often been used destroy the rights of American citizens. Although history has often come to judge these orders as both immoral and unconstitutional, the fact is that the victims of the orders suffered no less because of the retroactive judgment of their progeny. It is for this reason that we must immediately condemn and resist such obvious usurpation as is currently being attempted by the U.S. government.
Nevertheless, some have no doubt begun to wonder why the President has signed such an order. Not only that, but why did he sign the order now? Is it because of the looming war with Iran or the Third World War that will likely result from such a conflict? Is it because of the ticking time bomb called the economy that is only one jittery move or trade deal away from total disintegration? Is it because of a growing sense of hatred of their government amongst the general public? Is there a coming natural disaster of which we are unaware? Are there plans for martial law?
Whatever the reason for the recent announcement of Obama’s new Executive Order, there is one thing we do know for sure - “It wouldn’t happen here” has been the swan song of almost every victim of democide in modern human history.
I actually lay all the blame for the disintegration of the United States and all of the other horrors that are happening in the world at the feet of the Catholic Church.  Why?  Because we have not done our duty as the ark of salvation.  We have been given the Keys to the Kingdom, and instead of sharing it with the world, we've just tried to blend in with everyone else and hide what we are - the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ.

And certainly the most obvious act of disobedience of the Church is not to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1960 when she asked us to do so.  Everything that has happened in the church and the world since then is a direct consequence of that disobedient act.  And leaders in the Catholic Church must answer for all of the horror and evil that has ensued and is still to come.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spiritual Warfare

I have my problems with Father John Zuhlsdorf.  He posts some wonderful things on the liturgy and traditional Catholicism, but I think he tends to be politically partisan, siding with the Republicans, promoting people like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, who I feel are just one side of the same coin.  As I quoted Dr. Michael Jones, the Democrats are the party of sodomy, and the Republicans are the party of usury, and they have made a vow not to interfere with each other.  I think that can be plainly seen from the fact that no matter which party is in power, nothing ever changes except that everything keeps getting worse.  Abortion is still the law of the land, same sex marriage is spreading from state to state, we are still entering into war after war, our economy continues to spiral out of control, etc.  As I heard one person say, when it comes to choosing between Republicans and Democrats, it's like choosing between Satan and Lucifer. 

Father Z pushes the idea that if we just vote the right party into power - in his opinion, the Republicans - everything will be okay.  He has written on his blog that if the Republicans can take control, then the right judges will be appointed and that will solve many of our problems.  He tends to pit one side against the other.  He is, after all, a veteran of Fox News, where that seems to be what they are expert at - pitting one side against another. 

But Father Zuhlsdorf posted something well worth reading about the spiritual warfare going on in the world and how to deal with it.  And lo and behold, he did not use this post to push his "swag store" or ask for money or for someone to buy an item for him from his Amazon wish list. 

Maybe Father Z is having second thoughts about what will really destroy the evil in the land, and that it goes far beyond politics?

Of Penance and Preparation and Pilgrimage

We are headed into a time of true spiritual warfare [headed?  I think we are already there, and have been for some time]. The signs of this are thick in the air about us now.

We would do well to get ourselves ready. We need good examinations of conscience, good confessions, good Communions - always GOOD Communions. We might also do well to unite ourselves to larger groups in specific tasks. One reader here in another thread suggested a daily Rosary until Divine Mercy Sunday for the reconciliation of the SSPX. That’s just one idea, but it is a good one, since the potential division of those many good people from the Church is one of those signs I am talking about, especially when the Church is under grave attacks from secular forces.

We need good spiritual reading, and some silence each day [the Holy Father has been stressing the importance of silence, as I posted here and here]. We should introduce small mortifications if we haven’t already.

My I also suggest trying to cultivate a habit of saying during the day (along with your Angelus, etc.) and quite often little phrases such as “My Jesus, mercy!”?

I am talking about basics, right? Things we should be doing anyway? Prayers before meals? Examining our consciences daily? Mortifications? Turning our minds to God and calling on help from His holy saints? Asking our Guardian Angel for help? Works of mercy? Catholics should do all these things. I suppose what I am driving at, beyond just doing them, is to do them with an increasing sense of gratitude for God’s gifts and a rededication of our hearts to His.

As I have mentioned more than once, the concept of the pilgrimage, in particular the Camino of Santiago de Compostella, has been growing in my mind.

Another Catholic practice for doing penance for past sins or also readying oneself for a major change in life is a pilgrimage. Arriving at a Holy Shrine and praying there can be a grace-filled turning point, but so is the actual journey to get there.

We of the Church Militant are warrior pilgrims on the march to our heavenly Fatherland. In making a pilgrimage we manifest outwardly something of that interior identity we have as baptized members of the Lord’s Mystical Body here on earth.

Perhaps you could think about a trip to a nearby Shrine, if not that of Santiago or the other great pilgrimage places. There are any number of “National Shrines” around our respective countries. For example, in my neck of the woods there is the National Shrine of St. Paul, the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota. Near Detroit is the Shrine of the Little Flower. In Washington DC is the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In NY state there is a Shrine of the North American Martyrs. In England there is a Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. In Quebec there is St. Anne de Beaupre. Once you start paying attention, you find shrines everywhere.

Just a few rambling thoughts, for what they are worth.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fasting and Gluttony

I do not like to fast.  I would be dishonest if I said anything else.  I personally find fasting one of the most difficult spiritual exercises.  My only hope is that because I find it so difficult, it is more meaningful when I do it.  I've heard people "pooh pooh" the Catholic way of fasting - which is two small snacks per day with one regular meal - as being "sissy."  Well, I guess I'm a sissy because that is what I do and I still find it very difficult.

But all that aside, fasting - the denial of self - is one of the most important and powerful spiritual tools we have been given. Every time we say no to self, it enables us to say yes to God.  Fasting is a major spiritual tool that Catholics use during Lent.  It cleanses both our minds and souls and prepares us for the solemnity of Holy Week and Good Friday and the great feast of Easter when we celebrate our Lord's resurrection.  Prior to Vatican II, it was a requirement for all adult Catholics to fast the entire 40 days of Lent (those with health problems, pregnant women, etc. were exempted from this requirement, of course).  The thinking since Vatican II is that we don't want to place too many "burdens" on people, so that was scrapped with so many other things, all to the detriment of people's souls.  But that's for another time.

There was a very good reading in today's Traditional breviary about fasting and gluttony which I would like to share.  It centers around Moses - who spent 40 days in complete fasting and prayer before God - giving the 10 commandments to the people of Israel, who were engaged in gluttony and sin.
Moses Giving the 10 Commandments
to the Children of Israel
The Lesson is taken from a Sermon by St. Basil the Great
We know that Moses went up with fasting into the Mount. For he would not have dared to go unto its burning and smoking top, nor to have entered the thick cloud, except he had been made strong by a fast [when we feel weak physically, that is often when we are strongest spiritually]. And it was during this fast that he received the Commandments written with the Finger of God on tables of stone. Thus was fasting the means of the giving of the Law on the mountain-top. But below at its foot, gluttony was the means of leading the people into the worship of idols, and so of polluting them. It is written : The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. One drunken bout of the people made void, and of none effect, all the toil and patience of the forty days, during the which the servant of God had fasted and prayed unceasingly. Those tables of stone, written with the Finger of God, were received through fasting and were broken through drunkenness. For the holy Prophet thought it not meet that a people filled with wine should receive Law from God.

In one moment of time that people, who had by means of great wonders been taught to worship God, fell headlong through gluttony into the cesspool of Egyptian idolatry. The which things, if thou wilt consider, thou shalt see that fasting leads to God, and feasting to the loss of salvation. What was it that degraded Esau, and made him a slave to his brother? Was it not but a dish of pottage―a toothsome morsel of food stewed in a pot―for which he sold his birthright? And Samuel, was he not granted to his mother's prayers through fasting? And Samson the mighty, what was it that made him invincible? Was it not fasting, wherewith he was conceived in his mother's womb? Fasting conceived him ; fasting nurtured him ; fasting made him the man he was ; even as the Angel of the Lord had commanded his mother, saying : She may not eat of anything that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink. Fasting begat Prophets. Fasting is the strength and mainstay of mighty men.

Fasting giveth wisdom to rulers ; it is the trustiest keeper of the soul, the sure ally of the body, the strength and armour of brave men, the training of athletes, and wrestlers. It is fasting which maketh us strong against temptation, which prepareth us for the service of God, which dwelleth with sobriety, and is the author of temperance. Fasting maketh men valiant in war, and gentle in peace. Fasting maketh a Nazarite to be holy, and a priest to come unto perfection. Without fasting it is unlawful to touch the Sacrifice, not only in that mystical and true worship of God which now is, but also according to the Law, in those sacrifices which of old time were offered as figures of the true. Fasting opened the eyes of Elias to look upon a great vision, for when he had cleansed his soul by forty days of fasting, there on Horeb the Mount of God, he was made able, so far as man may be made able, to see God. Moses, receiving the Law a second time, a second time prepared himself by fasting. Except the Ninevites had fasted, both man and beast, herd and flock, they had not escaped from the ruin that hung over them. In the wilderness fell some, and who were they? Yea, they were such as lusted after flesh meat.
If we set our eyes and desires on the physical, we will perish along with it.  If we look instead to the heavenly, spiritual things of God, we will gain eternal life.  That is one of the major lessons of Lent.

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