Sunday, August 18, 2019

Woodstock 50: What Went Wrong Then and Now

Woodstock 50: What Went Wrong Then and Now

If America is polarized and directionless today, it is partly due to the cultural revolution that emanated from Woodstock. The solution is not to recreate Woodstock fifty years later, but to reject it as the cultural and moral disaster that it was.
Woodstock represented what America would eventually become—a broken and dysfunctional society. It shows what happens when “you do your own thing” without self-restraint.





















* Sisario, Ben. “The Disastrous Woodstock 50: What Went Wrong?” The New York Times, August 1, 2019.
Editor’s Note: The featured image is a photo taken near Woodstock in August of 1969 by Ric Manning, and is licensed under Creative Commons 3.0.
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Shoes Off In House

Is a shoes-off policy at home really worth it?

The decision is about more than just being a neat freak.

Growing up, whenever I was asked to remove my shoes in someone else’s house, I figured the host was either excessively concerned with the well-being of their floors or simply a neat freak. Having had zero concept of bacteria, it never crossed my mind that potentially harmful pathogens subsisted on the bottoms of my shoes.

Nowadays, as a mom who’s slightly more familiar with microbiology and has suffered the ramifications of bacterial spread, the shoes-off-in-the-house rule is one I firmly enforce. Don’t get me wrong: I’m far from a clean freak (though my husband might disagree) and I’m aware of the importance of exposing children to germs in order to build their immune systems. My kids have crawled around on airport floors and eaten many a stale Cheerio out of grotesque corners and crevices. But when it comes to keeping the microbes accumulated on our shoes off the kitchen floor, I don’t mess around.
Apparently, research affirms this stance, at least according to studies conducted at the universities of Houston and Arizona and summed up by LifeHack. Dr. Kelly Reynolds, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, reveals, “potentially harmful bacteria can survive on your shoes for days or even weeks.”

For starters, the most prominent type of pathogen found on people’s shoes was Clostridium difficile, often called C. diff for short. It appeared on 40 percent of the bottoms of sampled shoes. Although not necessarily life-threatening, since “C. diff actually exists all around us … in the air, water, soil” as WebMD explains, this particular bacterium is extremely resistant to antibiotics. In other words, if it proliferates and causes an intestinal infection, it’s tremendously difficult to treat. Despite the fact that “many people have the bacteria in their intestines and never have any symptoms,” it’s certainly one worth avoiding when possible in order to keep it at bay.
Escherichia coli, aka E. coli, was another type of bacterium the researchers identified on shoes. Like C. diff, E. coli is not something we ought to avoid at all costs. “Most E. coli are harmless and actually are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract,” the Center for Disease Control and Prevention explains.

However, there are some icky strains of E. coli, like E. coli 0157:H7, that are far less welcome guests in our intestines. This one is responsible for “severe stomach and intestinal problems leading to vomiting and diarrhea.” Needless to say, we all probably want to steer clear of that if at all possible.
Finally, LifeHack notes Klebsiella pneumoniae as another bacterium on the bottoms of shoes. This is one we don’t want to take any chances with, since it contributes to lung damage and even pneumonia. In fact, the death rate from Klebsiella pneumonia is pretty significant, at 50 percent of those who contract it.
In total, the University of Arizona found about 421,000 different bacterial units on shoes.

Thankfully, the risk of contracting a disease due to bacteria from shoes worn inside the house is actually relatively low. Michael Loughlin, principal lecturer at the school of science and technology at Nottingham Trent University explained to The Independent that “there’s [no] cause to be concerned about the bacteria spread from wearing shoes indoors, unless you’ve had the misfortune of walking through animal feces.”

Still, it’s only natural for homemakers to desire cleanliness for their floors, especially if there are toddlers crawling around. Loughlin stated, “It is all about managing risk” and taking simple, sanitary actions like using detergent to clean shoes can eliminate traces of fecal matter and decrease overall bacterial content by 90 percent.

But aside from sparing the floor from whatever gunk manages to accumulate on soles, the-shoes-off-at-the-door rule can be a refreshing reminder to family members and guests of their transition from outside to inside. Jenny Nakao Hones, interior designer and co-author of Feng Shui: Truths, Myths & Misconceptionsexplained to Reader’s Digest, “taking off your shoes … mentally prepares you to make the transition of leaving the outside energy at the door and reminding you that you’re entering a different space.” She added, “It’s also a sign of respect. You are respecting the hosts, the environment or structure, and others that use the place.”

A home should feel like a haven for family members and a peaceful space for guests. In order to achieve this aura, it helps to emphasize the distinction between interior and exterior, and the removal of footwear is a simple, customary way to do this.

Brian Sansoni of the American Cleaning Institute once remarked, “There’s something about a clean house, a clean room. It does wonders for the psyche.” Maybe amidst the chaos and frequent clutter of flitting family life, one of the easiest ways to maintain a home’s cleanliness is to leave the grit from the ground outside and prepare our feet for the atmosphere within.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Gender Confusion

The Gender Confusion Challenge to Army Recruitment

One thing that you can say for ISIS, the Middle-East terrorist army, is that it doesn’t have a recruitment problem. Young men are streaming to Syria and Iraq from all over the world to join the cause. And they come not just from the Muslim world, but also from England, France, Sweden, Australia, and the U.S.
Perhaps hoping to put a dent in the appeal of ISIS, some Western newspapers have made much of the expensive stolen watch visible on the wrist of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during his first public appearance at the Grand Mosque in Mosul. According to several articles, this proved that al-Baghdadi was a hypocrite because such a show of stolen worldly possessions is contrary to the spiritual nature of Islam.
As usual, the mainstream media is all wrong about Islam. In FrontPage Magazine, Daniel Greenfield points out that “looting was the core of Muhammad’s conquests.” And it came with Allah’s seal of approval. Numerous passages in the Koran and in the biography of Muhammad attest to the legitimacy of booty as the proper reward of fighting. Islam has no trouble with looting, says Greenfield, because it is “innately a gang religion”:
The gang … finds meaning in the ethos of the fight and in the comradeship of fellow gang members. That is why jihad is so central to Islam … Jihad is the gang culture of Islam. Its bonding rituals are central to Islam, whose original elements derive mainly from the raids of Mohammed and his companions…
Young men don’t join gangs just for the booty, but also for the sense of brotherhood the gang confers, and, perhaps primarily, for proof of masculinity. Psychologists and sociologists have known for a long time that gangs are particularly appealing to fatherless boys because boys who lack the guidance of fathers are most likely to feel insecure about their masculine identity, and thus most likely to seek confirmation of it in the ultra-masculine activities of gangs. Social scientists were hardly the first to discover this basic fact of male psychology. From the earliest times, almost all societies developed special rites of initiation for males to assist them in the passage from boyhood to manhood, and to channel them away from anti-social activities.
When boys grow up in communities without the guidance of fathers and elders and without established rites of initiation and confirmation, they tend to create their own initiation groups and rituals of passage. This is why modern urban areas with high concentrations of fatherless boys are the places where gang formation is highest.
The epidemic of fatherless boys is a worldwide phenomenon and it spells more recruits for the Islamic jihad. The reason the jihad doesn’t have a recruitment problem is that it appeals to basic masculine psychology. It promises action, male bonding, legitimate looting, a cause to fight for, subservient females in this world, and dozens more in the next. It’s the reason Muslims have been extremely successful in recruiting prisoners to Islam both in Europe and America. As I noted in Christianity, Islam, and Atheism:
In the United States, roughly 80 percent of inmates who find faith during their incarceration choose Islam. Many of these men are in prison in the first place because they were attracted to the masculine world of gangs. Now they’re being offered the chance to join the biggest, most powerful “gang” in the world. We’re seeing the beginning of a trend in the West: fatherless boys joining gangs, then ending up in prison, then coming out of prison as converts to Islam and the jihad. (p. 169)
There seems to be no shortage of young men willing to join up with the warrior culture of Islamic jihad. How about our own warrior culture—the U.S. military? The military still produces warriors, but the military culture is changing in ways that may make it less attractive to potential future warriors. Traditionally, the military has served, among other things, as an initiation into manhood. Past Marine recruiting campaigns, for example, were built around themes such as “The Marines Make Men” or “A Few Good Men.”
Exactly what today’s young male recruit is being initiated into is a little more difficult to say. In 2011, Brigadier General Loretta Reynolds was put in charge of Parris Island, the base where approximately half of U.S. Marines receive their basic training. By all accounts, she’s a competent person. As a fellow officer put it, “take the female part out of it, she’s an outstanding officer.” Take the female part out of it? But how do you do that? As General Reynolds admitted in an interview, it’s confusing for some of the men who “stumble on occasion and address her as ‘sir’ instead of ‘ma’am.’” Well, yes, it can be a bit confusing when the person in charge of manhood training is a woman. It’s not a question of competency, it’s a question of gender roles. Perhaps the Marine Corps can get away with putting a woman behind the top desk at Parris Island, but how would it work if the drill sergeants were women? Boot camp is a process of maturation through challenge and identification. The drill instructor is the supervisor of a male initiation rite. If he’s doing his job right, he offers himself as a model of masculine excellence. But how can a woman be a model of masculinity and how can a man identify with her as such?
Confusion about gender seems to be the order of the day in the Army. When Private Bradley Manning was tried for his part in the WikiLeaks intelligence leak, his lawyers argued that the transgender soldier suffered from “gender identity confusion.” While the Army can survive one or two gender-confused soldiers, here and there, what happens when the top command itself is confused about matters of sex role, sexual identity, and sexual orientation? Here are some not untypical headlines:
The matter becomes even more complicated when you add mission confusion to gender confusion. The main mission of the Army is to win wars, but it hasn’t been allowed to do that in quite a long while. Moreover, at one time it was thought a good idea to name your enemy and, for the sake of morale, you could even poke fun at him. Nowadays, enemies are identified only vaguely (as in “violent extremists”), and name-calling is not allowed. A manual for U.S. troops in Afghanistan cautions them to avoid “making derogatory comments about the Taliban.” The Army’s mission also has something to do with instilling a sense of the values you are fighting for. General Eisenhower spoke of the war against the Nazis as a “Crusade in Europe.” Woodrow Wilson said that our participation in World War I was to “make the world safe for democracy.” Now that the military has become a lifestyle laboratory, it’s a bit more difficult to discern the mission. Here’s a 2011 headline from the LA Times:
  • “Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches, and wiccans: Officials say an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship center underscores a commitment to embrace all religions”
We may not think very highly of the ISIS soldiers, but at least they’re clear about their mission—fighting for the sake of Allah and the rewards that come of it. But what’s the mission of our troops? To make the world safe for wizardry? Affirmative action for transgender school teachers?
The administration and the Pentagon may deny it, but the feminization and gaying of the military, together with the blurring of the Army’s mission, is bound to have an effect on the attractiveness of the military for young men. It’s not a question of whether gays can fight or whether women make good warriors, it’s a question of what kind of culture is being created. Right now the U.S. military is in the process of creating the kind of culture that is a guaranteed turn-off for many potential enlistees. And it’s not as though they have an abundance of qualified candidates from which to choose. At a time when 71 percent of American youth would fail to qualify for military service because of obesity, tattoos, prescription drug use, felony convictions, and educational level, the Pentagon can ill-afford to gamble that their unprecedented social experiments will work out for the best.
By all appearances, ISIS doesn’t face an obesity crisis among its pool of potential recruits. Men who, for religious reasons, are willing to fast till evening every day for the month of Ramadan are already used to the kind of sacrifices that the warrior life requires. Moreover, ISIS and other similar groups can count on the gender-confused West to churn out even more recruits for Islam. The breakdown of the idea that men have a special role to play as protectors and providers has led to a widespread collapse of the family. And that in turn has resulted in an epidemic of fatherless children.
There are armies of teens in the West who are looking for an army to join. It doesn’t have to be a real army. A gang will do—so long as it provides male bonding, a warrior ethos, and the “reputation” that goes along with gang membership.
If you’re a young man without a father around, you’ll be looking, naturally, for the biggest, toughest brotherhood on the block. Increasingly, that looks like militant Islam. It promises everything that a wannabe warrior could ask for, and it commands far more respect than your average street gang ever will.
Our own military should take note. When the armies of Islam are drawing young men from around the world to join the jihad, it might not be the best time for the U.S. Army to emphasize its feminine side.
FROM THE VAULT
This article originally appeared in the July 17, 2014 edition of Crisis.

Corruption in the Church: Bad News and Hopeful Possibilities

Corruption in the Church: Bad News and Hopeful Possibilities

Thanks to Pope Francis, the Vatican now joins the growing list of the world’s sanctuary cities. If you’re a clergyman wanted by civil authorities or Church authorities in your native land, the Vatican will offer you a safe haven and, quite possibly, a cushy job.

When Monsignor Battista Ricca got in trouble over a string of sex scandals, he was rewarded with a prominent position in the Vatican Bank. And when Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta of Oran, Argentina, was credibly accused of abusing seminarians, he was whisked off to Rome and ensconced in a position specially created for him in the Vatican’s other major financial institution, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.
Now comes news that Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra of Maracaibo, Venezuela was installed in October as the Substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State, making him the Vatican’s third most powerful prelate. This despite numerous accusations of serial sex abuse, possibly including a “sex game” that led to the deaths of two men.

The information is contained in an unpublished section of a Washington Post interview with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal nuncio to the United States. The interview excerpt was subsequently obtained and published by Life Site News. Viganò is also the author of the bombshell testimony published a year ago which accused Pope Francis of involvement in numerous cover-ups of sexual abuse.

Considering the large number of scandals and cover-ups touching the pope and his circle, one would think that by now they all would have resigned their offices and hid themselves away in secluded monasteries. Ironically, however, it is Viganò who has chosen to go into hiding. He refuses to disclose his location and has reportedly turned off his phone.

What is he worried about? An “accident”? Commitment to a mental institution for treatment of “paranoid delusions”? Since the sudden death of Pope John Paul I, there have been a number of mysterious deaths of people connected to the Vatican. For someone like Viganò, who knows where the “bodies” (i.e., incriminating documents) are hidden, it might not be prudent to discount all of the many rumors that swirl around the Vatican.

Archbishop Viganò has alluded several times to a “gay mafia” which wields an outsize influence in the Church, and which, he claims, is “sabotaging all efforts at reform.” Members of the “mafia” seem to be able to defy Church teachings with impunity. For example, the American branch of the “mafia”—Cardinals Cupich, Tobin, Farrell, and Gregory—are known to be strong supporters of the LGBT agenda, yet they have been consistently promoted by Francis to powerful positions in the hierarchy. When, during last October’s meeting, Cardinal Cupich more or less ordered his fellow bishops in the USCCB to table the agenda they had been diligently working on, they meekly complied.

Given the fear that they inspire among other prelates, it might well be that the gay mafia employs tactics not unlike those used by the real Mafia. This may help to explain why so many bishops act as though they live in Mafia-controlled neighborhoods. They’ve known about the scandals and cover-ups for a long time, yet, except for a few courageous souls like Viganò, they’ve remained silent, as though they had no choice other than to obey the code of omertà.

Why have they been so silent? Or so reluctant to take decisive action against those bishops who seem intent on wrecking the Church? One increasingly plausible answer to that question is the threat of blackmail. As the incidence of homosexual involvement among clergy grows, so, too, does the likelihood that blackmail will be used as an instrument of coercion. In his book, Inside the Closet of the Vatican, gay journalist Frédéric Martel estimates that 80 percent of the Church’s most senior figures are homosexual. That is probably a huge exaggeration, but if only half that number are so inclined, it means that not a few of their eminences may be eminently blackmailable.
Even among those bishops who are not homosexually inclined, there will be a fair number who have other things to worry about: the possible exposure of youthful indiscretions, heterosexual affairs, DUI convictions, financial improprieties, and so forth. The possibility also exists that bishops who oppose the “mafia’s” agenda may be falsely accused of sexual abuse. Some have suggested that the accusations against Cardinal Pell were manufactured in order to prevent him from looking any further into the mishandling of Vatican finances.

There are still other disincentives for bishops who might be tempted to blow the whistle on corruption in the hierarchy. Bishops who don’t play along won’t get promoted. Or worse, they might be demoted. The possibility that one’s next assignment could be to the diocese of Tierra del Fuego is a strong incentive to mind one’s own business.

The immediate future of the Church looks precarious. However, there is always reason to hope.
One possible bright spot in all this is that a growing number of bishops already live in “Tierra del Fuego” or, at any rate, in places which Westerners would consider the equivalent of Tierra del Fuego. Many Third World bishops and cardinals don’t worry too much about being exiled to remote, dangerous, or poverty-stricken regions of the world because those are the places they call home.

One of the advantages of living in the Third World is that one develops a certain realism about life. If you live in Northern Nigeria surrounded by hostile Fulani herdsmen, you can’t afford to indulge in fantasies about Noble Savages as a German bishop might. Or if you’re a Catholic living in Uganda where there is a powerful social stigma attached to homosexuality, you will find it difficult to understand why European bishops are so keen on celebrating the LGBT lifestyle. Being relatively new to the game,  bishops from developing nations have up until recently been willing to take their cues from European and North American bishops, but that may change as it becomes more apparent that Northern bishops often entertain very strange ideas.

There is considerable worry among orthodox Catholics that when the next conclave gathers to elect the next pope, the College of Cardinals will be so tightly packed with Francis appointees that Pope Francis II will be indistinguishable from Francis I. But it may not turn out that way. Like Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, many (though certainly not all) of the Third World cardinals are as committed to the Gospel of Christ as their European counterparts are committed to the gospel of what’s happening now. Now that they can more clearly see the destruction Francis has wrought, they are unlikely to vote for his twin.

So, too, it’s likely that a goodly number of Western cardinals who thought in 2013 that Jorge Bergoglio would lead the Church in refreshing new directions can now see that he has led it to the brink of a precipice. They may be silent now out of fear or simply because they are at a loss to know what to do, but in a secret ballot they will be free to vote their conscience rather than the party line.

There are bad cardinals, and good cardinals, and in-between cardinals. And one must suppose that even the bad cardinals have consciences.  One must further suppose that as layer upon layer of corruption is uncovered in the Francis Church, their consciences will begin to bother them. None of them are getting any younger, and those of them who still believe know that they will have to answer for their vote before God.

On the surface, the future of the Church looks bleak, but it may be that the excesses of the Francis papacy will generate their own antidote. There is a good chance that next time around the voting cardinals will be paying more attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit than to the spirit of the times.
This article originally appeared in the July 11, 2019 edition of Crisis.

WATCH: Polish archbishop decries LGBT ‘rainbow disease’ that’s spreading across country

WATCH: Polish archbishop decries LGBT ‘rainbow disease’ that’s spreading across country

Featured Image
Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski 
August 6, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The archbishop of Krakow, Poland, has said that his country is under siege from the “rainbow disease” of LGBT activism.
While his country is no longer beleaguered by the "red plague" of Soviet communism, Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski said, it is now afflicted by the "rainbow" plague of LGBT ideology, which denies human dignity and aims to control the souls, hearts, and minds of the Polish people.

"A red plague is not gripping our land anymore,” the archbishop said, “which does not mean that there is not a new one that wants to control our souls, hearts and minds.” 

"Not Marxist, Bolshevik, but born of the same spirit, neo-Marxist," he said. "Not red, but rainbow."

The archbishop’s remarks came in his sermon during Mass at St. Mary's Basilica marking the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, CNS News reports.
Jedraszewski recalled in his homily the heroism of Poland’s Home Army against Nazi occupation, and the country’s struggles under fascism and then decades of 'Bolshevism' rule as a Soviet satellite state, a report from the Irish Times said.
He said that “promoting LGBTI ideology denies human dignity” because the “rainbow disease” was “neo-Marxist” in its absolutist ambition.

The day before at the Polish Catholic pilgrimage site of Czestochowa, Jedraszewski had urged the Catholic faithful to “defend the truth about the creation of a woman and a man to live together and to have children.”
Jedraszewski’s homily remarks about LGBT ideology drew denunciation from U.S.-based LGBT activist Jesuit Father James Martin, who called the archbishop’s comments incendiary, adding that they promote hatred and violence toward LGBT individuals.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are "objectively disordered," and that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered," against natural law and cannot be approved under any circumstances.
People with same-sex attraction are called to chastity, the Church’s teaching says, as are all people.

Same-sex sexual activity has never been criminalized in Poland and its legality was reconfirmed in 1932. Homosexuality does not have special protection in Polish law, and gay “marriage” and the adoption of children by gay couples in Poland remain illegal.

The majority Catholic country is having turmoil and tension between LGBT activists working to advance their agenda and traditional Poles.
Jedraszewski, 70, was appointed auxiliary bishop of Poznań in 1997 by then Pope St. John Paul II, just before Jedraszewski’s episcopal consecration. The two clerics were close friends, CNS reports. 

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Jedraszewski the archbishop of Lodz in 2012, and in 2017 Pope Francis named him archbishop of Krakow. 
In remarks made in 2013, Jedraszewski said gender ideology is the "direct path to the self-destruction of our civilization."
"It is an extremely dangerous ideology that leads directly to the death of our civilization," he said.

Francis Houle: A middle-class husband and father from Michigan … and a stigmatic

Francis Houle: A middle-class husband and father from Michigan … and a stigmatic

Our Lord told him, "I am taking away your hands and giving you mine ... touch them."

A number of saints and holy people have been known to share in the suffering of Christ in a special way: by literally having his wounds in their own flesh. Among this group are such beloved saints as Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena and, closer to our own times, Padre Pio. 

Then there is Irving “Francis” Houle, just a regular guy from Michigan.
Irving was born in northern Michigan, in the town of Wilson, in 1925. He was one of six boys and one girl born to Peter and Lillian Houle. The family prayed the Rosary every day during Lent and their dad had them say the Stations of the Cross every Sunday after Mass. The Houles were surely a devout Catholic family.
Irving’s life was stereotypical middle-class midwestern, and he lived as we might imagine. He graduated from high school in 1944 as World War II was raging. The very next day he joined the U.S. Army. He served in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and received the American Theater Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal. He was discharged in 1946.

Irving, following the example of his dad, began living the traditional life of a young, Catholic man. He married Gail LaChapelle in 1948 and they had five children: Stephen, Peter, John and twins Matthew and Margo. Raising his family in northern Michigan, Irving worked for Montgomery Ward, for a chemical supply company, and as a plant manager. He was an active parishioner at St. Joseph’s and an active member of the Knights of Columbus, where he was a District deputy and a member of the Fourth Degree with the honor of being addressed as “Sir Knight.” The Houle family could have been the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting. 

Francis was 67 years old when, on Good Friday, April 9, 1993, the stigmata first began to show itself. Francis told his brother and a priest, Father Robert Fox (who would go on to write a book about him), how Jesus appeared to him when Lent began on Ash Wednesday. He told them Jesus said to him, “I am taking away your hands and giving you mine … touch them.” 

On Good Friday, the swelling that had been obvious on the top and bottom of his hands broke open and began to bleed. Walter Casey, a retired policeman who had been appointed by the bishop to stay with Francis at all times, explained how every morning between the hours of midnight and 3 a. m., 365 days a year, Francis endured sufferings of the Passion of Christ. Francis told him that the Blessed Mother had come to him 19 times and during those visits told him that she would bring many people to him and him to many people.

It is estimated that Francis prayed individually over 100,000 people while he was still alive. Folks would wait for hours on end to see the elderly grandpa who bore the stigmata and would lay his hands on them. People would be crying and would touch him and kiss his hands.

Houle never sought any personal attention, financial donations or financial support. He was adamant in the fact that any healings were from God and that no one should look to him but rather to Our Lord Jesus Christ as the true cause of any spiritual or physical healing. 

He passed away on First Saturday, January 3, 2009. He was 83 years old and had borne the stigmata of Christ for more than 15 years. He is one of the few laymen in the history of the Church who has borne the stigmata.
Two bishops in the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, Bishop James H. Garland and Bishop Alexander K. Sample, found “no fault” with the activity of Houle and gave him their blessing. These findings have not yet been forwarded to Rome.
Houle wrote the following prayer:

Oh! my Jesus. My heart is so heavy. Your burden is too much for me to bear.
Please, my Jesus, let me take your Cross for a while. Just to let you know I care.
Look upon me, dear Lord with eyes of your mercy. May your healing hands rest upon me.
If it be your will, please give me health, strength, and peace.
Amen.

How Fitness Affects Our Spiritual Lives

How Fitness Affects Our Spiritual Lives

Show me a Catholic who doesn’t exercise and I’ll show you a person who wished they lived life more fully integrated with a strong and stable connection in body and soul.

Because of the intricate fusion of such, we have not only the right but this duty by which to glorify God with our flesh. 

The body, therefore, must necessarily make opportunities to glorify its Maker: “For you are bought with a great price, therefore, glorify God in your body.” 1Cor. 6:20

The body is good, and while we seem to understand this in light of procreation, postures aiding prayer, and service to others, why are so many Catholics still incredibly unhealthy in their flesh?

Why do most want beautiful souls, yet leave their body to drag, drag, drag them down letting everyone perceive they’re disconnected at deeper levels?
We must use sport and physical fitness to subdue our unruly flesh which is apt to cater to our lowest nature. If we can do the next hard thing and the next right thing at a meal or on the track, maybe we can do it in the face of present or future temptations and persecutions. 

We have to build the muscles of interior character and exterior action. We must fortify the armor and the warrior, according to St. Amma Syncletica.
Most people report being in a better mood if they get fresh air, in stable mental/emotional space if they do physical activities, and in a better position to parent or work positively if they have met these personal needs.
These are the same people who know that getting movement built into their day helps them cope with anxiety, sleep better, and study with more clarity just to name a few key benefits.

Simply understood, to care for one’s self is to care for others. Subscribing to this thinking related to the soul should lend itself to the same realization for a healthy theology of the body. 

Building physical strength and stamina will make the spiritually mature person serve with greater fullness, not compromising their gift of self, but sustaining them to be more substantially poured out. 

The thirtieth chapter of Sirach reminds us that, “It is better to be poor, but strong and healthy, then to be rich, but in poor health. A sound, healthy body and a cheerful attitude are more valuable than gold and jewels. Nothing can make you richer or give you greater happiness than those two things.”

So, realize that you are a body and a soul and there must be a “holy tension” in your person in order to actually thrive. It’s not life to one, and death to the other. Be alive in Christ and witness to the world that you are an attractive Catholic, attracting others to Truth, body and soul.

Rebecca Dussault trains Catholic women to “find their forward” through a lifestyle of health and holiness at Fit Catholic Mom. Contact her with your interest in being personally trained and follow her efforts @fitcatholicmom on social media.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

St. Alphonsus Liguori: Patron Saint of Confessors & Lover of Souls

St. Alphonsus Liguori: Patron Saint of Confessors & Lover of Souls

St. Alphonsus Liguori: Patron Saint of Confessors & Lover of Souls
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori: priest, moral theologian, Doctor of the Church, founder of the Redemptorists, and ardent lover of souls. St. Alphonsus Liguori is also the patron saint of confessors. In a time when Confession has fallen by the wayside for far too many Catholics, including some priests, St. Alphonsus shows us how much we need God’s love and mercy in this Sacrament. 

Along with saints such as St. John Vianney and St. Padre Pio, St. Alphonsus is an example to the priesthood of how a priest must exude the love and mercy of the Sacred Heart in their person. Spiritual fathers should always seek to draw sinners back to God. This means a much needed return to the balance between sound moral theology and mercy and a renewed effort to draw the faithful to regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

St. Alphonsus Liguori was a spiritual father who sought the spiritual welfare of those entrusted to him. He knew the damage that sin causes each person, which is why he repeatedly called people to seek God’s forgiveness and mercy in Confession. A spiritual father who loves the flock entrusted to him always seeks to bring people to the truth so that they can become the saints God is calling them to be. St. Alphonsus is a guide for priests in drawing souls to Christ through Confession. He is also a great intercessor for the faithful who want a greater devotion to this Sacrament. He understood that truth and mercy are both required in the spiritual life.

St. Alphonsus frequently walked alongside the members of his flock in order to draw them into deeper communion with Christ. He was known to be a man of considerable patience and charity. Accompaniment—which is a watchword of our day—does not imply a change in moral teaching or turning a blind eye; rather, it is a movement of authentic love that seeks to bring others to an encounter with Christ. It is an aspect of communion through which the priesthood, religious, and the laity move into greater union with God by walking the path to holiness together. Part of the spiritual life is wrestling with what God requires of us, but never in a way that intentionally betrays the laws God has given to His Church. Our ultimate happiness is found by living in the truth. To love is to seek the truth.

Our Lord speaks forcefully about those priests who would lead others to sin, which is why any form of accompaniment that turns a blind eye or encourages someone to ignore God’s laws is to rupture communion, destroy charity, betray their ordination, and to ignore the spiritual fatherhood priests are called to live. God’s mercy is a form of leniency, but not as a departure from the truth. 

St. Alphonsus knew that people were hungry for Christ, especially those who were trapped in sin. It is the same today. All priests who have experienced the immense love of the Holy Trinity should want to draw others into that love. Like St. Alphonsus, priests as spiritual fathers are meant to be ardent lovers of the souls Christ has entrusted to their care. This means a constant desire on the part of priests to call people to frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

St. Alphonsus, St. John Vianney, and St. Padre Pio spent considerable amounts of time in the confessional and they repeatedly encouraged their flocks to receive the Sacrament. Not as an afterthought or to meet a once a year minimum, but as an essential aspect of the spiritual life that will lead souls to holiness. Priests are privileged to see those who are spiritually dead come back to life. The moral decay of our own time is nothing new in the history of the Church, nor is it an excuse to take a minimalist approach to this gift given to us by Christ.

St. Alphonsus was a brilliant moral theologian. He understood the teachings of the Church and he called all souls in his care to live in accordance with God’s law, but he also extended to the sinner the great mercy of Christ. 
According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his book Doctors of the Church:
“Alphonsus recommended to pastors of souls and confessors that they be faithful to the Catholic moral doctrine, assuming at the same time a charitable, understanding, and gentle attitude so that penitents might feel accompanied, supported, and encouraged on their journey of faith in the Christian life.
St. Alphonsus never tired of repeating that priests are visible signs of the infinite mercy of God who forgives and enlightens the mind and heart of the sinner so that he may convert and change his life. In our epoch, in which there are clear signs of the loss of the moral conscience and —it must be recognized—of a certain lack of esteem for the sacrament of Confession, St. Alphonsus’ teaching is very timely.”
A renewal of the Sacrament of Confession is sorely needed. The Sacrament should be encouraged on a regular basis and made available to all the faithful. St. Alphonsus is the perfect intercessor for so great a need. He is also a much needed intercessor for the priesthood during this time of scandal. St. Alphonsus was enkindled with an ardent love for souls. 
May our priests burn with that same love and may the Holy Spirit increase within us the desire for the mercy poured out upon us in Confession.

By 

Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate with an M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in philosophy.  Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths (www.swimmingthedepths.com).
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Monday, July 29, 2019

Show #120 "Death & Purgatory" Father Benedict Groeschel CFR

The Devil & the Diabolic - Venerable Fulton J Sheen

St. Mary Magdalene

St. Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene, called “the penitent”, was a woman of great beauty who was known as a sinner, but was touched in her soul by the merciful power of Our Lord Jesus Christ and made a great conversion. Scriptures speak of the Lord driving out “seven demons” from her, symbolic of the seven capital sins (Mark 16:9).
Thinking to trick Our Lord, she had been presented to Him by the Scribes and Pharisees whilst He was teaching in the temple. Mary Magdalene had been caught in adultery and the Law of Moses was quite clear as to its punishment: death by stoning. In silence, Our Lord began to write with His finger on the ground. At their persistent questioning, He lifted Himself up and replied: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone,” and stooping down, He returned to His writing in the dust. One by one they left until none remained but the Judge and the Accused. “Then Jesus lifting up himself, said to her: Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee? Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more” (John 8:10-11). From that moment onwards, her heart was won over completely.

At the house of Simon the Pharisee, the repentant Magdalene poured costly ointments on Jesus’ feet and then dried them with her hair (John 7:38). On her action being censured by the host, Our Lord said in her defense: “Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much” (John 7:47).
Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha and Lazarus of Bethany whom the Lord raised from the dead after four days.

She along with the Lord’s mother and other holy women stood at the foot of the cross unafraid for herself. She it was also that, along with others first discovered the empty tomb after the Lord’s Resurrection. And it was to Mary Magdalene that the Lord first appeared after He was risen.

After the martyrdom of the Apostle James in Jerusalem, as persecution intensified, tradition says that Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalen, along with others, were placed in a boat and set out to sea. This boat landed on the southern shore of France. While Lazarus and Martha went on to evangelize Provence, a fact claimed in French history, Mary retired to a cave in a mountain, known as La Sainte-Baume, or The Holy Cave. In this cave she lived the life of a penitent for thirty years until her death. Today, at this site, there is a shrine where her relics are venerated.
http://americaneedsfatima.blogspot.com/2019/07/st-mary-magdalene.html

The LGBT Conspiracy and Eros, the Demon of Love

The LGBT Conspiracy and Eros, the Demon of Love

It’s become impossible to keep up with the activities of the relentless juggernaut known as the “LGBT community.” Seemingly every day, we see a new story more outrageous and shocking than the last. University professors and children’s book publishers are defending the practice of bringing young children to “Pride” events, not by downplaying their sex-fueled and nudity-filled nature, but by assuring us that “nobody likes nakedness more than children” and that witnessing “kink” and nudity is “an excellent opportunity for parents to do unbiased sex education.” In March, a library in Texas hosted one of the now infamous Drag Queen Storytime events, accidentally featuring a 32-year-old convicted sex offender. Let’s not forget Desmond Is Amazing, the 12-year-old drag queen who seems to know a lot about hard drugs.

Many decent people get the sense — and rightly so — that the wholesale normalization of pedophilia is next on the LGBT lobby’s tyrannical to-do list. The above examples of mass child grooming are only a highlight reel, and at any rate, looking at these events in and of themselves is useful only to a certain point. What we are dealing with is, in fact, a global conspiracy made up of tens of thousands of people, poised to reconfigure society as we know it. I’m quite serious. Back in March, I wrote about the dangers of a surface-level opposition to feminism:
The present feminist domination of society and politics is not surprising when we understand that the very language we often use in regard to our opponents is based not on truth, but on usefulness – that is, language that has no regard for truth and therefore no regard for us as human beings created in the image of God. This is justified in the minds of many who use such abusive language (if they consider the implications of their language at all), because we as well as they have accepted a priori that the moral superiority of feminist thought is self-evident.

Thus, it becomes a self-perpetuating system. There is no need for a shadowy cabal of man-hating feminist overlords. All that is required is that the masses never question whether the two statements of belief qualifying radical feminism (listed above) are acceptable or not. All that is required is that the very same people who can see the “problems with feminism today” go on to de facto accept the feminist version of history, of language, of first principles, as gospel truth.

We can observe similar phenomena within the LGBT movement. They’ve been highly successful in their general abuse of history and language, not to mention their ability to frog-boil us to the point where hearing of young boys in women’s outfits stripping for grown men warrants at most an exasperated petition signing or Facebook share. It is difficult to understand the seemingly impossible cohesion of various revolutionary movements when examining only the material evidence.
Not only do various groups work toward their own goals with remarkable efficacy, but they also manage to aid the groups around them in attaining theirs — even those that are completely disparate, such as the aspirations of feminism, LGBT groups, and Islam. In this way, these become the most dangerous and baffling conspiracies of all. Those who decry “conspiracy theorists” are quick to point out that the more people a conspiracy involves, the less likely it is that it will be able to maintain the secrecy it needs to operate. They’re right, and it’s right to ignore them.

They’re missing the point, because they do not understand the supernatural forces guiding these seemingly fragmented conspiracies. It’s true that purely ideological means can bring a conspiracy far, but the more I witness the decay around me, the more I am convinced of the direct influence that God is allowing the prince of the world and his cronies to have in shaping our societies.

I was at a great disadvantage when writing the aforementioned contra-feminism article, as I had not yet read an incredible book called The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. Understanding the “spirit of feminism” seems obvious enough from Sacred Scripture — it subsists largely within the sin of pride. However, though the LGBT movement shares in the spirit of pride as a root cause (the celebration of it alone should be a warning bell), upon reading this book, I have come to believe that a warped spirit of love — specifically Eros, romantic love — is what plagues them most intensely. More importantly, it is this same spirit that has led the majority of normal, “cisgender,” “straight” people to their incredible tolerance for the collapse taking place around them.
Lewis writes:
The real danger seems to me not that the lovers will idolise each other but that they will idolise Eros himself.

I do not of course mean that they will build altars or say prayers to him. The idolatry I speak of can be seen in the popular misinterpretation of Our Lord’s words “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven her, for she loved much” (Luke VII, 47). From the context, and especially from the preceding parable of the debtors, it is clear that this must mean: “The greatness of her love for Me is evidence of the greatness of the sins I have forgiven her.” (The for here is like the for in “He can’t have gone out, for his hat is still hanging in the hall”; the presence of the hat is not the cause of his being in the house but a probable proof that he is). But thousands of people take it quite differently. They first assume, with no evidence, that her sins were sins against chastity, though, for all we know, they may have been usury, dishonest shopkeeping, or cruelty to children. And they then take Our Lord to be saying, “I forgive her unchastity because she was so much in love.” The implication is that a great Eros extenuates — almost sanctions — almost sanctifies — any actions it leads to.

When lovers say of some act that we might blame, “Love made us do it,” notice the tone. A man saying, “I did it because I was frightened,” or “I did it because I was angry”, speaks quite differently. He is putting forward an excuse for what he feels to require excusing. But the lovers are seldom doing quite that. Notice how tremulously, almost how devoutly, they say the word love, not so much pleading an “extenuating circumstance” as appealing to an authority. The confession can be almost a boast. There can be a shade of defiance in it. They “feel like martyrs.” In extreme cases what their words really express is a demure yet unshakable allegiance to the god of love.
I immediately recognized the painful truth of these words in many regrettable actions I have undertaken in my own life. When Eros becomes a god himself rather than being submitted to God, we give him powerful sway over us. He can lead us to do the unthinkable out of this hollow feeling of intense love — and perhaps even more dangerously to society at large, he can lead us to justify the unjustifiable in the behavior of others.

Mere decades ago, the cry of love became an argument for couples of the same sex having relationships together, with a demand for “marriage” following soon after. Is it so hard to imagine that most people in the not too distant future will find themselves able to stomach “consensual” ephebophilia and pedophilia, slaves as they are to this unchained Eros? The foundation for this acceptance is already being laid.

It’s easy to view the LGBT lobby and especially the pedophilia-as-sexual-orientation faction purely from the perspective of carnal desire. Even aside from the most sex-crazed antics of “Pride” parades and gay bars, they base their entire existence as group on the erroneous concept of “sexual orientation.” We need to understand once again as a society that sexual desires may be complex and nearly infinite, but chastity in spite of temptation is simple and universal (and, with the aid of grace, possible!). This must be emphasized, particularly now, as we see the push for severely disordered pedophilic tendencies to be recognized as an “identity.”

However, though it is undoubtedly important, it is not enough to control what C.S. Lewis calls Venus — sexual love. We must think broadly of Eros, of romantic love, as well in order to truly understand the actions of these confused human beings, particularly when we consider just how many of them are victims of sexual abuse themselves. They, like us, live in a world awash with free pornography, immodesty, and contraception, which no doubt fuels their disordered inclinations even further. Instead of speaking the truth in charity, we await their evil actions with open arms, closing our hearts to the person whom God has made in order to embrace a ghost crafted by human hands. We’re all looking for love, in one way or another, and it is those most starving for love whom Eros is quickest to devour.

It would be foolish to ignore him in this clash of mores, thinking that once we sort Venus out, all will be well. Eros is not to be underestimated. He’s a lot harder to keep on a leash.

Image: Joseph Kranak via Flickr.