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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Father Rutler: The Triumph of Divine Love

Father George W. Rutler
While it is easy to identify bold personalities that enjoy a good fight, and others that shrink shyly from any kind of confrontation, psychologists do not find it easy to define the middle type that tries to control without seeming to do so. If it is hard to define “passive aggression,” you can recognize the indirect expression of hostility when you see it at work: sullen, procrastinating, self-pitying, cold and silent in a way that is far from golden.
It is wonderful that the Risen Lord did not say to the trembling apostles in the Upper Room, “I told you so.” There is no tone of vengeful vindication or even the slightest condescension. He just serenely explains how these events had to be. The Lord has an assignment for the apostles, just as he offers each of us a plan for life. And he takes us seriously, only asking that we take him seriously in return. That is why he shows his wounds. They have not vanished in the glory of the Resurrection, for they are reminders that the new course of history will be fraught with challenges for which the Church must be prepared.
On June 28 in 1245, Pope Innocent IV convened an Ecumenical Council in Lyon, France, where he would stay for several years for safety from the emperor Frederick II. He opened the Council with a sermon on the Five Wounds of the Church. They were: 1) public heresy growing out of personal immorality; 2) the persecution of Christians by Muslims; 3) schism in the Church; 4) the invasion of Christian countries by unbelievers; and 5) attempts of civil governments to control the Church. Does this sound familiar?
In his day, lax and immoral Catholics were trying to justify their lifestyle by “paradigm shifts” in doctrine, Muslims were terrorizing Christians in the Middle East, the rift between Western and Eastern churches was growing and would not be checked even by the attempt of a second Council of Lyons some thirty years later, Mongol hordes were invading Hungary and Poland, and the Holy Roman Emperor was claiming political authority over the bishops.
The French philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, said: “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.” Having risen from the grave, he can die no more, nor can he suffer as he once did. But the Church is his body and “inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these little ones, you have done it to me.” Christ’s supernatural agony is a triumph of divine love for those whose salvation he bought with his own blood. He is not passively aggressive, because his confrontation in every age is a direct one against “the Devil and all his pomps.” There is no need for revenge, for to get even is never to get ahead.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Saint Patrick's Church, Huntington, New York - "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today"

This is the parish of my grandparents, parents, and where I received Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation and a love for our holy Church.  Here are the Youth Choir, Adult Chorale, and Brass Quartet of the  St. Patrick's Church, Huntington, Long Island, New York.  Matthew Koraus, director and organist from their CD recording, "A Year in Music: The Choirs of the Church of St. Patrick, Huntington, NY."

Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Easter Vigil 2009


Saint Peter's Basilica
Holy Saturday, 11 April 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Saint Mark tells us in his Gospel that as the disciples came down from the Mount of the Transfiguration, they were discussing among themselves what “rising from the dead” could mean (cf. Mk 9:10). A little earlier, the Lord had foretold his passion and his resurrection after three days. Peter had protested against this prediction of death. But now, they were wondering what could be meant by the word “resurrection”. Could it be that we find ourselves in a similar situation? Christmas, the birth of the divine Infant, we can somehow immediately comprehend. We can love the child, we can imagine that night in Bethlehem, Mary’s joy, the joy of Saint Joseph and the shepherds, the exultation of the angels. But what is resurrection? It does not form part of our experience, and so the message often remains to some degree beyond our understanding, a thing of the past. The Church tries to help us understand it, by expressing this mysterious event in the language of symbols in which we can somehow contemplate this astonishing event. During the Easter Vigil, the Church points out the significance of this day principally through three symbols: light, water, and the new song – the Alleluia.

First of all, there is light. God’s creation – which has just been proclaimed to us in the Biblical narrative – begins with the command: “Let there be light!” (Gen 1:3). Where there is light, life is born, chaos can be transformed into cosmos. In the Biblical message, light is the most immediate image of God: He is total Radiance, Life, Truth, Light. During the Easter Vigil, the Church reads the account of creation as a prophecy. In the resurrection, we see the most sublime fulfilment of what this text describes as the beginning of all things. God says once again: “Let there be light!” The resurrection of Jesus is an eruption of light. Death is conquered, the tomb is thrown open. The Risen One himself is Light, the Light of the world. With the resurrection, the Lord’s day enters the nights of history. Beginning with the resurrection, God’s light spreads throughout the world and throughout history. Day dawns. This Light alone – Jesus Christ – is the true light, something more than the physical phenomenon of light. He is pure Light: God himself, who causes a new creation to be born in the midst of the old, transforming chaos into cosmos.

Let us try to understand this a little better. Why is Christ Light? In the Old Testament, the Torah was considered to be like the light coming from God for the world and for humanity. The Torah separates light from darkness within creation, that is to say, good from evil. It points out to humanity the right path to true life. It points out the good, it demonstrates the truth and it leads us towards love, which is the deepest meaning contained in the Torah. It is a “lamp” for our steps and a “light” for our path (cf. Ps 119:105). Christians, then, knew that in Christ, the Torah is present, the Word of God is present in him as Person. The Word of God is the true light that humanity needs. This Word is present in him, in the Son. Psalm 19 had compared the Torah to the sun which manifests God’s glory as it rises, for all the world to see. Christians understand: yes indeed, in the resurrection, the Son of God has emerged as the Light of the world. Christ is the great Light from which all life originates. He enables us to recognize the glory of God from one end of the earth to the other. He points out our path. He is the Lord’s day which, as it grows, is gradually spreading throughout the earth. Now, living with him and for him, we can live in the light.

At the Easter Vigil, the Church represents the mystery of the light of Christ in the sign of the Paschal candle, whose flame is both light and heat. The symbolism of light is connected with that of fire: radiance and heat, radiance and the transforming energy contained in the fire – truth and love go together. The Paschal candle burns, and is thereby consumed: Cross and resurrection are inseparable. From the Cross, from the Son’s self-giving, light is born, true radiance comes into the world. From the Paschal candle we all light our own candles, especially the newly baptized, for whom the light of Christ enters deeply into their hearts in this Sacrament. The early Church described Baptism as fotismos, as the Sacrament of illumination, as a communication of light, and linked it inseparably with the resurrection of Christ. In Baptism, God says to the candidate: “Let there be light!” The candidate is brought into the light of Christ. Christ now divides the light from the darkness. In him we recognize what is true and what is false, what is radiance and what is darkness. With him, there wells up within us the light of truth, and we begin to understand. On one occasion when Christ looked upon the people who had come to listen to him, seeking some guidance from him, he felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mk 6:34). Amid the contradictory messages of that time, they did not know which way to turn. What great compassion he must feel in our own time too – on account of all the endless talk that people hide behind, while in reality they are totally confused. Where must we go? What are the values by which we can order our lives? The values by which we can educate our young, without giving them norms they may be unable to resist, or demanding of them things that perhaps should not be imposed upon them? He is the Light. The baptismal candle is the symbol of enlightenment that is given to us in Baptism. Thus at this hour, Saint Paul speaks to us with great immediacy. In the Letter to the Philippians, he says that, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, Christians should shine as lights in the world (cf. Phil 2:15). Let us pray to the Lord that the fragile flame of the candle he has lit in us, the delicate light of his word and his love amid the confusions of this age, will not be extinguished in us, but will become ever stronger and brighter, so that we, with him, can be people of the day, bright stars lighting up our time.

The second symbol of the Easter Vigil – the night of Baptism – is water. It appears in Sacred Scripture, and hence also in the inner structure of the Sacrament of Baptism, with two opposed meanings. On the one hand there is the sea, which appears as a force antagonistic to life on earth, continually threatening it; yet God has placed a limit upon it. Hence the book of Revelation says that in God’s new world, the sea will be no more (cf. 21:1). It is the element of death. And so it becomes the symbolic representation of Jesus’ death on the Cross: Christ descended into the sea, into the waters of death, as Israel did into the Red Sea. Having risen from death, he gives us life. This means that Baptism is not only a cleansing, but a new birth: with Christ we, as it were, descend into the sea of death, so as to rise up again as new creatures.

The other way in which we encounter water is in the form of the fresh spring that gives life, or the great river from which life comes forth. According to the earliest practice of the Church, Baptism had to be administered with water from a fresh spring. Without water there is no life. It is striking how much importance is attached to wells in Sacred Scripture. They are places from which life rises forth. Beside Jacob’s well, Christ spoke to the Samaritan woman of the new well, the water of true life. He reveals himself to her as the new, definitive Jacob, who opens up for humanity the well that is awaited: the inexhaustible source of life-giving water (cf. Jn 4:5-15). Saint John tells us that a soldier with a lance struck the side of Jesus, and from his open side – from his pierced heart – there came out blood and water (cf. Jn 19:34). The early Church saw in this a symbol of Baptism and Eucharist flowing from the pierced heart of Jesus. In his death, Jesus himself became the spring. The prophet Ezekiel saw a vision of the new Temple from which a spring issues forth that becomes a great life-giving river (cf. Ezek 47:1-12). In a land which constantly suffered from drought and water shortage, this was a great vision of hope. Nascent Christianity understood: in Christ, this vision was fulfilled. He is the true, living Temple of God. He is the spring of living water. From him, the great river pours forth, which in Baptism renews the world and makes it fruitful; the great river of living water, his Gospel which makes the earth fertile. Jesus, however, prophesied something still greater. He said: “Whoever believes in me … out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7:38). In Baptism, the Lord makes us not only persons of light, but also sources from which living water bursts forth. We all know people like that, who leave us somehow refreshed and renewed; people who are like a fountain of fresh spring water. We do not necessarily have to think of great saints like Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and so on, people through whom rivers of living water truly entered into human history. Thanks be to God, we find them constantly even in our daily lives: people who are like a spring. Certainly, we also know the opposite: people who spread around themselves an atmosphere like a stagnant pool of stale, or even poisoned water. Let us ask the Lord, who has given us the grace of Baptism, for the gift always to be sources of pure, fresh water, bubbling up from the fountain of his truth and his love!

The third great symbol of the Easter Vigil is something rather different; it has to do with man himself. It is the singing of the new song – the alleluia. When a person experiences great joy, he cannot keep it to himself. He has to express it, to pass it on. But what happens when a person is touched by the light of the resurrection, and thus comes into contact with Life itself, with Truth and Love? He cannot merely speak about it. Speech is no longer adequate. He has to sing. The first reference to singing in the Bible comes after the crossing of the Red Sea. Israel has risen out of slavery. It has climbed up from the threatening depths of the sea. It is as it were reborn. It lives and it is free. The Bible describes the people’s reaction to this great event of salvation with the verse: “The people … believed in the Lord and in Moses his servant” (Ex 14:31). Then comes the second reaction which, with a kind of inner necessity, follows from the first one: “Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord …” At the Easter Vigil, year after year, we Christians intone this song after the third reading, we sing it as our song, because we too, through God’s power, have been drawn forth from the water and liberated for true life.

There is a surprising parallel to the story of Moses’ song after Israel’s liberation from Egypt upon emerging from the Red Sea, namely in the Book of Revelation of Saint John. Before the beginning of the seven last plagues imposed upon the earth, the seer has a vision of something “like a sea of glass mingled with fire; and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb …” (Rev 15:2f.). This image describes the situation of the disciples of Jesus Christ in every age, the situation of the Church in the history of this world. Humanly speaking, it is self-contradictory. On the one hand, the community is located at the Exodus, in the midst of the Red Sea, in a sea which is paradoxically ice and fire at the same time. And must not the Church, so to speak, always walk on the sea, through the fire and the cold? Humanly speaking, she ought to sink. But while she is still walking in the midst of this Red Sea, she sings – she intones the song of praise of the just: the song of Moses and of the Lamb, in which the Old and New Covenants blend into harmony. While, strictly speaking, she ought to be sinking, the Church sings the song of thanksgiving of the saved. She is standing on history’s waters of death and yet she has already risen. Singing, she grasps at the Lord’s hand, which holds her above the waters. And she knows that she is thereby raised outside the force of gravity of death and evil – a force from which otherwise there would be no way of escape – raised and drawn into the new gravitational force of God, of truth and of love. At present, the Church and all of us are still between the two gravitational fields. But once Christ is risen, the gravitational pull of love is stronger than that of hatred; the force of gravity of life is stronger than that of death. Perhaps this is actually the situation of the Church in every age, perhaps it is our situation? It always seems as if she ought to be sinking, and yet she is always already saved. Saint Paul illustrated this situation with the words: “We are as dying, and behold we live” (2 Cor 6:9). The Lord’s saving hand holds us up, and thus we can already sing the song of the saved, the new song of the risen ones: alleluia!


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Tale of Two Colleges

But these budding collegians will discover that it isn’t always easy to differentiate among schools. The colleges that emphasize vocational courses of study — such as nursing or engineering or accountancy, for example — will tout job placement statistics. Liberal arts colleges, on the other hand, will offer bland assurances that their students will learn to think critically — without specifying what it is that their students should learn to think critically about. At today’s liberal arts colleges, subject matter doesn’t seem to matter much at all. The consensus as to what is required to become an educated citizen, and a potential leader, has broken down.

On occasion, however, a college will reveal what it deems truly worthy of attention, either by commemorating an historical event, or by celebrating the life and work of an important individual.

This is a tale of two such colleges, each of which has chosen, this school year, to mark the bicentennial of the birth of an influential figure. One is celebrating the life of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895). The other has decided to honor Karl Marx (1818-1883).

Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University is named for two titans of American business, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie and the financier Andrew Mellon. CMU is deservedly renowned for its focus on technical training, and the school is enjoying a prosperous moment in its history. It enrolls about 6,000 undergraduates, and a significant percentage of these are international students, whose affluent parents are willing to pay CMU’s full sticker price, which currently amounts to approximately $70,000 per year.

It was Andrew Carnegie’s intention that the school (known until 1968 as Carnegie Tech) should provide a practical education, and this mission has shielded CMU from much of the criticism leveled at higher education in America today. The supposed impracticality of the liberal arts isn’t an issue at a school where students are for the most part training to become engineers and research scientists and corporate managers.

Now, fifty years after the merger of Carnegie Tech and the Mellon Institute, the school continues to attract the patronage of practical men of business. In 2011, the steel executive and philanthropist William S. Dietrich II gave $265 million to CMU. And the grandest building on campus, now nearing completion, will house the David A. Tepper School of Business. Tepper, the billionaire hedge fund manager, is one of CMU’s most generous benefactors.

Situated some 300 miles west of Pittsburgh, in the farming country of south central Michigan, is a much smaller institution with decidedly more humble origins. Hillsdale College, founded in 1844 by abolitionists, identified its mission as offering “all persons, irrespective of nationality, color or sex… a literary and scientific education.” The men who established the college found inspiration in the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence. The preamble to Hillsdale’s Articles of Association cites “the inestimable blessings resulting from the prevalence of civil and religious liberty and intelligent piety in the land.” It goes on to assert “that the diffusion of sound learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings.”

Consistent with its mission, Hillsdale College admitted women and blacks prior to the Civil War. When the war came, some 400 Hillsdale students enlisted in the Union army — a higher proportion of its student body than any other college in the North, excepting the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Sixty Hillsdale students died while fighting for the Union; four received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Hillsdale has remained faithful to its founding mission, and it has also remained thoroughly and fiercely independent. Unlike virtually all of the nominally private colleges and universities in the United States, Hillsdale refuses both direct and indirect government funding, and students may not avail themselves of taxpayer-subsidized loans to help pay their tuition. Not coincidentally, a year at Hillsdale (tuition, room, and board) runs about $37,000 — considerably less than the inflated sticker prices at other leading, private colleges (and probably a pretty fair approximation of the true cost of a year at a private residential college in America today).

Like CMU, Hillsdale is experiencing a relatively prosperous moment in its history — but for different reasons. The college enrolls 1,450 undergraduates, compared to 1,000 twenty years ago. The school is oversubscribed, and many more young men and women than the school can accommodate wish to enroll there. Hillsdale has attracted a very large and very loyal group of private donors, and the school distinguishes itself by providing its students with something that has largely vanished from the landscape of American higher education: an authentic, traditional liberal arts curriculum.

It will come as no surprise, then, that Hillsdale College has chosen to commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass. Born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland, Douglass fled north to freedom in 1838. Eventually, he became a celebrated orator, and a leading figure in the abolition movement. He embraced, as did the founders of Hillsdale College, the revolutionary principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. All men are created equal. All men are endowed, by operation of the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, with certain unalienable rights, including liberty.

During the Civil War, Frederick Douglass became friendly with, and an informal advisor to, President Abraham Lincoln. Douglass also became a friend of Hillsdale College. He was twice an honored guest of the college. His first visit took place in January 1863, a few weeks after the final issuance of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. On that occasion, Douglass delivered an address entitled “Popular Error and Unpopular Truth.”

It is rather more surprising — indeed it is jarring — to learn that Carnegie Mellon University, a school established and sustained to this day by exemplars of American capitalism, would choose to mount a year-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx. This celebration, denominated “Marx@200,” takes the form of a series of lectures and symposia, sponsored (ironically enough) by the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The faculty organizers of Marx@200 believe that Karl Marx “has gotten a bad rap.” He was, they claim, a “great man” with an “incredibly optimistic vision.” Marx “is best understood as a liberal” who valued and promoted “individualism.” “What motivates Marx is freedom.”

These remarks reflect a very curious and disturbing appraisal of the father of communism — a political ideology that has never been implemented anywhere except at the point of a bayonet. Murderous Marxist regimes, operating in such places as Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and Fidel’s Cuba, are responsible during the twentieth century for snuffing out the lives of 100 million human beings. This is scarcely the fruit of an “optimistic vision.” The organizers of the Marx@200 festivities may hold professorial appointments, but even folks without doctorates know enough to know that collectivism is not the same thing as “individualism” and that repression is not the functional equivalent of “freedom.”

Frederick Douglass, a runaway slave, managed to acquire during his lifetime a much sounder grasp of human nature than did the formally educated Karl Marx. And it would be nice to think that Douglass’ conception of human nature is the one that prevails at our institutions of higher learning. After all, is it not the aim of the liberal arts to provide the young with insights into the human condition, and an understanding of what it means to be a human being?

Tragically, the traditional liberal arts curriculum has been dismantled and largely repudiated by those now in charge of American higher education — to the point where what currently masquerades as the liberal arts is widely and roundly ridiculed as worthless by those not in charge of our colleges and universities.

The professors at CMU who put together the Marx@200 celebration are by no means atypical. Marxism, or cultural Marxism, or neo-Marxism, informs much of what is taught in English and history and economics departments throughout American higher education. The classical liberal arts curriculum that is taught at Hillsdale College (and which was taught nearly everywhere until the 1960s) has become very rare, and all the more precious for that reason.

CMU will likely survive any embarrassment that its ill-considered Marxathon may engender. At CMU, a school that emphasizes practical education, the humanities and social sciences occupy a rather lonely outpost within overall structure of the university. Still, one is tempted to wonder whether CMU’s trustees and administrative officers are supportive, or even aware, of the Marx@200 activities now underway in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

May 1st is a big day on the communist calendar. It is also a big day in the lives of high school seniors, because it is the deadline by which they must declare which colleges they will attend. During the coming weeks, students will make final visits to the schools where they’ve gained admission, in an attempt to narrow down their choices. Those that visit the Hillsdale campus will encounter a newly erected bronze statue of Frederick Douglass, along with statues of the other statesmen that populate Hillsdale’s Freedom Walk: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Churchill, Thatcher, and Reagan. They will also find, at the front entrance of campus, a bronze statue of a Union soldier, installed in 1895 to honor the sixty students who never returned.

Students who visit the Carnegie Mellon campus will not, as of this writing, encounter a statue of Karl Marx. Then, again, neither will they encounter statues of Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon.

Michael Cook is a businessman and attorney (non-practicing). He lives in Pittsburgh, a short walk from the Carnegie Mellon campus.

Jacob Rees-Mogg: I try to Say the Rosary Every Day

From The Catholic Herald (UK)

The Catholic MP also spoke of his love of the Old Rite Mass

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he tries to say the rosary daily and also praised the Tridentine Mass in an interview for a political website.

In a wide-ranging discussion on his faith with the website ConservativeHome, Rees-Mogg that although he tries to keep his Catholic faith a private matter, he feels obliged to answer honestly when people ask him about it.

“I don’t aim to ‘do God’,” he said, but “I get asked questions that relate to my faith and I answer the questions that I am asked.

“I don’t see my role as being a proselytising role or a theological role or a teaching role, but I think one has to admit and bear witness to what one believes.”

He said that he has never had any real doubts about the faith, nor wondered whether it was all true. “I’ve always believed it, even though as a child I did not enjoy going to church,” he said.

The MP also confirmed that he did not have a Tridentine Mass at his wedding, despite repeated claims, but instead had a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin. He explained that the celebrant thought that people unfamiliar with going to church would start chatting during the long periods of silence.

“I do go to the Tridentine Rite when it is available near me in Somerset,” he said, however he does not go out of his way to look for an Old Rite Mass. “The New Rite is in all senses valid, it is not a lesser rite, it is not a subsidiary rite,” he added.

Nonetheless, the Old Rite still has a particular appeal. “I think it is richer, the texts are fuller – a lot has been taken out for the New Rite – it focuses more centrally on the Eucharist, rather than on the other parts of the Mass which in my view are less central, and it is more thoughtful – there is more silence.”

In terms of his own prayer life, Rees-Mogg said that he tries to pray the rosary every day, although not the “full 200 Hail Marys”.

The Catholic politician faced a media storm last summer when, in an interview, he stated his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. However, Rees-Mogg said that as a backbencher he has little say over such issues.

“The issue is whether you would try and make it party policy, not whether you would vote one way or another as a matter of conscience.” He explained that many parliamentary votes depend on what the party leadership says, rather than individual MPs.

“I think what people are worried about is that somebody who is Catholic might influence the party bosses to make them insist that their religious view became a whipped vote. I am very clear that I would not seek to do [that], I think that is a matter for people’s consciences.”

“There is clearly in parliament no majority for my views on life,” he added, “but as an individual MP I would vote in favour of life.”