Monday, October 16, 2017

Shocking! 84% of Catholics Reject that Satan is a Person and Hell Exists

Shocking! 84% of Catholics Reject that Satan is a Person and Hell Exists

The Church is Ready to Capsize!

By Fr. Daniel Doctor,
The Roman Catholic Church, that is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is the Bride of Jesus Christ.  This Church was established by Christ Himself to be the sole means of salvation for
all of humanity. As Catholics, we know of no other way to salvation except through the sacramental system established by Christ and given to His Apostles.

Why is the Catholic Church in Near Chaos and Confusion?

Careful analysis of recent studies and polls taken among Catholics reveals that an overwhelming majority of U.S. Catholics simply do not believe in the Devil, or sin, or it’s logical consequences – eternal damnation in hell.  As we can see, with any kind of an reasonable observation of that the outcome, is that the Church is in a state of near chaos and confusion over what She teaches and what She does not teach.  The overriding reason for this is because bishops, the clergy, teachers and parents, have completely failed in their duties to transmit the Faith to each of the successive past four generations.  And there are huge consequences for this failure.
Pray for Our Church
A lack of a belief in the Devil, sin, or hell makes it very awkward for all of us during the Easter Liturgy, when it comes to the renewing of baptismal promises.  When the priest asks the people, “Do you reject Satan?” . . .  “Who Father? We don’t believe in him anymore.  Silly priest, asking us such stupid questions . . . believing in such archaic things . . . .”

What most of us were not taught – is that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith is an integrated belief system, where one teaching is dependent on every other teaching, creating a whole and concise theology.  Rejection of the Devil as a personal evil, or sin, or even hell, does incredible theological damage to the whole of the Catholic Faith. In fact, like any teaching we like to change, reinterpret, or ignore, the entire faith is undermined and in some cases can even be destroyed.

Consider for a moment, if there is no personal evil like the Devil, Satan, or Lucifer, then much of Catholicism simply disintegrates. Who was it exactly that St. Michael the Archangel fought against?  Or is St. Michael merely symbolic as well? And if he’s symbolic, then are all angels also just symbols? If the Devil is not real, then who tempted our first parents in the garden, which caused the Fall? Who tempted Christ in the desert? Whose head will Mary, our Mother crush? Who did the Saints warns us against? And if all these things didn’t really happen, or will not happen,  then why would we need a Savior?

St. Teresa of Avila, the great Doctor of the Church said, “we need to focus on the things that Jesus saved us from.”  But if sin and hell are not real, and devil and His fallen Angels are just symbols, then why do we need a Savior?  A Savior, who saves us from what?  Therefore, we rob the cross of Jesus Christ of all its meaning.  And Jesus was simply a fool, a poor misguided individual who died on a cross for no good reason.

Jesus Christ told us plainly in scriptures that Hell was created “for the devil and his angels.”  But if these persons are symbolic, does that mean Hell is too? And if Hell is symbolic, why wouldn’t Heaven also be symbolic? The two are intimately related to each other, as we come to understand when we study “The Four Last Things.”

The other consequence if there is no Hell, then there is no justice, and if there is no justice there is no God.  This would also mean that if there is no justice, then humanity does not possess free will.  For justice is the natural end of free will, that individuals at the end of their life are given what they deserve, their due.

I Am Completely Dumbfounded

I am, like many young priests today are, completely dumbfounded that it is possible that 4 out of every 5 Catholics in America, over 84%, reject the Church’s Dogmatic teaching that Satan is a personal evil being and that hell and sin exist.  In fact, Catholics reject the belief in the Devil more than any other religious group in the country!  In fact, belief in the Devil was almost as rare
among Catholics as it was among those who had no religious affiliation or belief.
For years now, I have been saying, and a lot of other priests too, that the number of authentic Catholics, real Catholics, who actually embrace all the Church’s teachings, is somewhere less than 10% of the roughly 70 million baptized U.S. Catholics.  But the sad fact is, it is closer to 5%.  Polls and surveys continue to reveal and confirm this fact more and more.  When it comes down to it, there is an overwhelming number of Catholics in the U.S., including most of the bishops and priests, that are simply not Catholic anymore or at least not Catholic in any meaningful way.

We are now in the fourth generation, going on the fifth, that has grow up in an environment within the Church of deconstruction or flat out denial of the authentic faith. The average Catholic, does not understand the integrity of the Church’s teachings, or even that Her teachings are interdependent on each other.  And sadly, not too many Catholics are really saying a word about this terrible situation.  Nor are many Catholics even declaring that these Dogmatic teachings are Divinely revealed Truths, not made up by men, but revealed by Jesus Christ Himself, while He was on earth.

Nearly everyone has compromised with this evil, most certainly those who are bishops and priests.  But the great Saints of our Catholic Faith forcefully taught us that we never compromise with evil or heresy.  Most of the ordained simply will not state the Truths of the Catholic Church anymore because they know if they do, a large portion of the few remaining Catholics who are still coming to church will get up and leave, or stop donating.

The vast majority of Catholics simply do not accept, believe, or practice the Faith anymore.  The results of this can be clearly measured in the lack of priestly ordinations, the increasing number of priests leaving active ministry, the number of priests who have been exiled, punished, and persecuted for speaking the Truths of the Catholic Faith, the closing of parishes, schools, hospitals, and other Catholic institutions, forced collaboratives, the clustering of parishes, and the constant moving of priests.  This is also seen in the burnout among the clergy because of the increased workload and the lack of any true support system from their Bishops or the people of God.  But all of this that is occurring in the church today, is giving to those of us who pay attention a much more truthful picture of reality of the Catholic Church in America.

I feel so sorry for the number of Catholic families that this present situation has caused.  It means that all of us, most especially parents and priests, must become more pro-active, more aggressive in learning the true Catholic Faith and holding firm to it.  And then teaching this authentic faith to the next generation as well as to the current generation that has lost their faith.

I am here to tell you, and you can believe me or not, but there is a real active evil person, working every day to destroy us and our children. The same is true for so many young adults who are unprepared to counter or even believe in the diabolical, the true evil of this world, which has intensified greatly over these past few years.  This evil has gone unchecked by Faithful Catholics as well as the Church’s hierarchy.

We must, like the Saints, who have gone before us, learn the Catholic faith that we so casually say we believe in.  We must stand up for the Doctrine She has wonderfully taught for over 2,000 years and practice it wholeheartedly.  When we take the time to study and learn the true Faith, this is meant to energize our prayer life.  Do we as Catholics even have a prayer life anymore?  Are we developing a prayer Life?  The relationship with God, that the Church asks us?  This education in the Faith is meant to help us fall in love with the Catholic Church, Her teachings, and give us the strength and courage to oppose the Devil.  I can assure you, as a Roman Catholic Priest, the Devil is absolutely real.

For as St. Peter, our first Pope, taught us in his letters, “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.”

If you feel, like I and a whole bunch of other people do, that things are spinning out of control in our world, and most especially in the Church today,  you’re right.  The underlying reason is because the Church is in a state of near chaos and confusion.  As Pope Benedict stated recently, “ready to capsize” this is all brought about by the Church’s chief enemy the Devil, and he is real.  Be assured, we have not arrived at this place in history by accident.  There is an intelligent evil being behind all of this work, bent on our destruction and the destruction of our Lord’s Catholic Church.

We must rededicate ourselves, as good Catholics, to knowing and studying the Faith.  This way, we can resist and fight with all our might against the evil that has plagued us for far too long.  Part of the answer to this problem involves setting aside time to study the Faith, to be enraptured by its glories and mysteries, its blinding truth.  This cannot happen if we don’t make the effort to learn our wonderful Faith, and then follow through with our good intentions.
There is no way to fight against the Devil other than to love God more. And we cannot love what we do not know. Knowledge of the Faith is absolutely crucial for any spiritual growth, and we need to get back on our knees and beg God to deliver us from the sinful evil of this current generation, and the filth, greed, lust, and heresy that has entered our church.

We are not alone in this fight.  We have never been alone. God, His Holy Mother, the Angels, and all His Saints, the whole of Heaven, watches and encourages us to get involved in this fight for the salvation of souls, as well as for the liberty and exultation of Holy Mother the Church, our only known source of salvation.  For as St. Thomas Becket, a martyr for the Faith so wisely taught us, as well as the testimony of so many Saints, without real effort no one ever wins the crown of everlasting life.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Cora Evans: A Californian housewife and mystic on the way to sainthood

Cora Evans: A Californian housewife and mystic on the way to sainthood

She was known to bi-locate and her children witnessed many of her spiritual gifts.

Born in 1904 in Utah, Cora Evans began life in a Mormon household. However, from the outset it was clear God had a special plan for her.
At the age of 3, Evans experienced a mystical vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, though at the time she didn’t fully understand it. For the remainder of her childhood she lived according to the Mormon religion and eventually married her husband at the Utah Temple.

Shortly after her wedding Evans started to have doubts about the Mormon faith and began a long road of investigation. She searched and searched, but couldn’t find the religion her heart was longing for.

Then in 1934, while lying sick in bed, she heard a radio program called the “Catholic Hour” and afterward contacted a local Catholic priest. Evans met with the priest on multiple occasions and soon became convinced that God was calling her to be Catholic. A year later Evans, her husband, and two daughters, converted to the Catholic faith.

In 1938 her mystical experiences started again and she dedicated the rest of her life to God. She wrote, “It was necessary for me to live my chosen vocation with him as my companion. By loaning Jesus my humanity for him to govern as well as dwell within would make my life a living prayer, for he was life, living life within me, and my body now dead to me was his living cross, his cross to take to Calvary — Calvary, the door to eternal life.”

After converting to the Catholic faith, Evans and her family were severely persecuted by the local Mormon community, making it impossible for her husband to secure a job. They decided to move to California to find gainful employment.

Once there Evans continued to have heavenly visions of saints and searched for a spiritual director to help bring light to her situation. A Jesuit priest, Father Frank Parrish, agreed to the assignment and guided her through the mystical experiences.

According to the website for her canonization, Evans discovered God’s mission for her; “the Mystical Humanity of Christ, a way of prayer that encourages people to live with a heightened awareness of the indwelling presence of Jesus in their daily lives. It is Eucharistic spirituality, and Jesus promised to foster the devotion.”
Evans wrote about this spirituality and her mystical experiences in a diary. It was a difficult task for her as she had little education and was still rather new to the Catholic faith.

Her intense devotion to God brought with it many spiritual gifts. Our Sunday Visitor reports that Evans “had the stigmata (wounds of Christ), bilocation and the fragrance of roses associated with her presence.” Evans tried to hide these gifts from her family, but her daughter still witnessed the stigmata and was greatly impacted by it.

During her life she was a hidden mystic, unknown to the world besides her family, friends, a few priests and religious. She was a humble housewife who led a beautiful interior life dedicated to God.

Evans died in 1957 and before her death asked God to grant her the same ability as St. Therese of Lisieux — to spend her heaven doing good on earth. Since her death, Evans’ writings have been widely read and are a source of spiritual refreshment for many people.

Her cause for canonization was officially opened in 2012.

See more in our series on the Saints of the United States.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Dark-Forces Assault on the Church?

A Dark-Forces Assault on the Church?

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and powers … against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)

It’s not easy to discern the role played by the spiritual hosts of wickedness in world affairs. No one knows with any certainty what is going on in that realm, or what part the principalities and powers play in shaping events. But these are exceedingly strange times—so strange that it is difficult to make sense of some of what is happening from a this-worldly perspective. So it seems worthwhile to try to understand some phenomena from an other-worldly viewpoint.
One of the strangest developments of our times is the Church’s response to Islam and Islamic migration. Since the response runs entirely counter to the Church’s historical response, it seems legitimate to wonder if other-worldly forces are at play. If that’s the case, it should not be unexpected. Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, but the implication of his words is that hell would surely try.

Over the years, various popes have testified to this effort. In the late nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII reportedly had a vision of demonic spirits during the celebration of Mass. This led him to institute the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel (“be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil”), which is said at the end of a Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form. In more recent times, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in 1972, Pope Paul VI delivered a sermon warning that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

What may come as a surprise to those who worry about Pope Francis’s liberal tendencies is that he also has frequently warned of Satan’s influence. A few months after his election, he consecrated Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel who “defends the people of God from the arch-enemy par excellence, the devil.” When he was a cardinal in Argentina, he described a legislative proposal to redefine marriage as “a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

If the smoke of Satan can enter the Catholic Church, there is no reason to suppose it cannot enter other religions as well. Without getting into the question of whether Muhammad was deceived by Satan, as some maintain, it is probable that Satan seeks to influence the direction of Islam just as he strives to have a malign influence on the Catholic Church.

It may be, then, that the current situation of the Church vis-à-vis Islam is due in part to a dual assault—one aimed at heightening Islam’s traditional aggressiveness, and the other aimed at weakening the Church’s traditional defenses. The result is a kind of dance of death: a ramping up of Islamic militancy matched by an exaggerated emphasis on tolerance, openness, and welcoming on the part of Catholics.

If this is the case, then one manifestation of the Catholic folly might be the Church’s attitude toward mass Muslim migration. Many Catholic leaders think of Muslim migration as no different from other migrations. For them it is simply a question of being welcoming or unwelcoming, of being charitable or uncharitable. But many Muslim leaders view migrations in a different light. For them it is not a question of loving one’s neighbor, it is a question of who is to be master.

If history continues on its present course, Islam will be the master of much of Europe within a relatively short time. This change of ownership will result from a combination of migration, high birth rates, and willful blindness on the part of Europe’s leaders. And it will result in a great deal of misery. The astonishing thing is that this massive threat to Europe and European Christianity scarcely registers in the Vatican. To the extent that it does register, it is dismissed as a low priority concern. Witness the pope’s recent claim that the safety of refugees should be given priority over national security.

For the most part, however, concerns over Muslim aggressiveness are simply brushed aside. Such concerns are viewed by Church leaders as signs of intolerance, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. Since the term “phobia” refers to an irrational fear, the suggestion is that the fears are groundless. But those who fear Islam’s spread seem to have the facts on their side. Their concern are grounded not only in the frequent knife, bomb, and truck attacks, but also in extensive data about the connection between Muslim migration and skyrocketing rates of violent and non-violent crime in Europe.

Against the hard evidence that increased immigration will be suicidal for Europe, the pope offers vague humanistic sentiments about “encounter,” “mutual enrichment,” and the beneficial effect of “the exchange between cultures.” Pope Francis says that those Europeans who resist migration are guilty of “intolerance, discrimination, and xenophobia.” That may be true of some, but many are simply worried that they or their children will become victims of assault or worse. The failure to recognize these legitimate fears is a form of hardheartedness. Moreover, the pie-in-the-sky attitude toward the migration situation on the part of many in the hierarchy could be considered a form of presumption.

Consider a couple of lines from Pope Francis’s address to the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE) in September. “Temptations to exclusiveness and cultural entrenchment have not been wanting in the history of the Church,” said the pope, “but the Holy Spirit has always helped us to overcome them, guaranteeing a constant openness toward the other, considered as a concrete possibility of growth and enrichment.” He continues: “the Holy Spirit will help us to keep an attitude of trusting openness that will allow us to overcome every barrier and scale every wall.”

This seems to border on presumption. It’s a little akin to saying “If you jump off the cliff in a spirit of trust, the Holy Spirit won’t let you fall.” It was “trusting openness” that got Europe into its present predicament, but Francis is suggesting that the Holy Spirit will get us out of whatever further mess we create if only we accelerate the rate of trusting openness.
I may be overlooking something, but I don’t recall any Biblical injunctions to “constant openness” or “trusting openness” in regard to one’s fellow man. Instead, there are quite a few warnings about the untrustworthiness of fallen man.
Pope Francis appears to be ignoring the warnings. 

As social critic Hugh Fitzgeraldputs it:
At any time, such naivete and heedlessness as Pope Francis exhibits would be difficult to take. At this moment in world history, when the leader of the Catholic Church appears determined not to understand the meaning, and menace, of Islam, while Christians are everywhere under assault by Muslims, and Muslims are knocking at Europe’s gates and demanding to be let in without delay… his complacent buonismo [goody-goodiness] is intolerable.

In short, the pope’s response is almost the exact opposite of the response that the times seem to require. The major event of our time is the reemergence of Islam on the world stage. Yet Francis, along with others in the hierarchy, is acting as though this were still the sixties—a time when Islam was relatively quiescent. As a result, he responds to the resurgence of Islamic terror with 60s-era bromides about “encounter” and “openness.”

By all accounts, the devil is immensely intelligent. It’s been said that one of his greatest achievements in modern times is to convince people that he doesn’t exist. It may be that his second biggest achievement is to convince Church leaders that Islam is not a threat at that precise moment when the threat to Christians is growing exponentially.

If indeed the Church leadership is being subject to an assault from below, it is a particularly clever one. That’s because it takes advantage of the best Christian instincts—particularly the impulse to charity. The most persuasive part of the hierarchy’s appeal to welcome Muslim migrants, no matter how many, are the constant reminders that this is what Christ wants us to do. When the pope recently launched the “Share the Journey” campaign for solidarity with migrants, he observed that “Christ himself asks us to welcome our brother and sister migrants with arms wide open.” On other occasions he has said that “we see the face of Christ himself” in the face of migrants. On still other occasions he has likened the journey of refugees to the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt.
Even if it’s being misapplied, the appeal to scripture is difficult to resist. It somehow seems small-minded and selfish to worry about personal safety when we are reminded of Christ’s words, “I was a stranger and you took me in.”
Still, one has to wonder about charitable impulses that facilitate the takeover of Europe by a decidedly anti-Christian religious ideology. How charitable is it to consign Europeans, their children, and their grandchildren to a life of bloodshed and civil war, or else to a life of subservient dhimmitude such as Christians now experience in many parts of the Muslim world?

So, the Church’s welcoming response to Islam and Islamic migration can be looked upon as a shining example of Christian charity, or it can be looked upon as an example of stubborn foolishness and presumption in the face of a fast-spreading evil. It’s a devilishly complicated situation. And that should make us wonder if the devil himself isn’t intimately involved in it.

Of course, as I admitted at the outset, this is speculation. No one knows for certain how supernatural powers affect human events. It could be that, looked at from the perspective of eternity, the pope has chosen the right path. The subjugation of Europe by Islam could be a necessary part of God’s plan. An Islamic takeover of Europe might conceivably be a chastisement for European decadence: the natural and supernatural effect of decades of birth control, abortion, and self-centeredness.

Or it could be that the entry en masse of Muslims into Europe will be the occasion of their conversion. Pope Francis seems to be of this mind. On several occasions he has spoken of migration as a cultural encounter and exchange which leads almost inevitably to the mutual enrichment of the cultures involved. In his talk to the CCEE, Francis said that “the Church has spread through every continent thanks to the ‘migration’ of so many missionaries.” Now, he seems to envision a reverse process in which potential converts migrate to Christian lands and encounter both the generosity of Christians and the spirit of European humanism. The pope seems to believe that this encounter can lead to conversion as long as we have faith that “the Holy Spirit will help us to keep an attitude of trusting openness that will allow us to overcome every barrier and scale every wall.”
Maybe so. But, once again, this smacks of presumption. All the historical evidence suggests that when Muslims move into other cultures either by migration or by conquest, conversions are a one-way street. With a few exceptions, Muslims don’t convert to the faith of the people they encounter. The non-Muslims convert to Islam. Christian North Africa—the land of St. Augustine—succumbed to Islam in the seventh and eighth centuries, and it has never been re-Christianized. To expect that today’s European Christians can accomplish what the hardier Christians of 1300 years ago could not is highly presumptuous.

As mentioned earlier, Pope Francis is acutely aware of Satan’s ability to manipulate Christians. But he is also in many ways a man of the left. As such, he is vulnerable to the liberal illusion that there is no enemy on the left. He also seems disposed toward the multicultural illusion that there can be no enemy among the “other.” Thus Francis would have difficulty accepting the reality of a major threat from Islam, let alone from a left-Islamic alliance.
The pope is not oblivious to the possibility of a dark-forces assault on the Church. But in all probability he is expecting the devil to strike from the right by exploiting the fears of all those culturally entrenched xenophobes and Islamophobes who want to build walls instead of bridges.

That’s one way of looking at it. But another, more likely scenario, is that the devil is exploiting the gullibility of liberal clergy and laymen—those Catholics that barely believe in his existence, but believe very firmly in openness, encounter, and the peaceful intentions of Islam.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The 9 choirs of angels and the roles given them by God

The 9 choirs of angels and the roles given them by God

Angels are spiritual beings created by God, naturally invisible to the human eye, but all around us and constantly carrying out the tasks God has given them.
Traditionally the angels are classified into what are called nine “choirs” or “ranks.” This division is based on nine names of angels found in Sacred Scripture.
Saint Paul writes about them in his letters:
[May] The eyes of your heart [be] enlightened, that you may know what the hope is of the glory of his inheritance in the saints … Which he wrought in Christ, raising him up from the dead, and setting him on his right hand in the heavenly places. Above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:18, 20-21)

For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him. (Colossians 1:16)
The Old Testament adds Cherubim and Seraphim (in multiple places) and “archangels” are named both in the New Testament (Gabriel, Michael) and in the Old Testament (Raphael and Michael).

St. Gregory the Great puts all of these “choirs” into a single list in one of his homilies. “We know on the authority of Scripture that there are nine orders of angels, viz., Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Throne, Cherubim and Seraphim.”

It is believed that each of these choirs was given a specific task by God. Theologian and philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft gives a nice summary of these different choirs and their roles in his book Angels and Demons:
The first three levels see and adore God directly:
The seraphim, the highest choir, comprehend God with maximum clarity, and therefore their love flames the hottest. (“Seraphim” means “the burning ones.”) Lucifer (“Light-bearer”) was once one of them. That’s why he’s still very powerful and dangerous.
The cherubim contemplate God too, but less in himself than in his providence…(“Cherubim” means “fullness of wisdom.”)
 The thrones contemplate God’s power and judgments. (Thrones symbolize judicial, juridical power.)
The next three choirs fulfill God’s providential plans for the universe, like middle management personnel:
The dominations or “dominions” (…”authority”), command the lesser angels below them.
The virtues receive their orders from the dominations and “run” the universe, so to speak, especially the heavenly bodies. (“Virtue” used to mean power, might, or energy.)
The powers serve the virtues by fighting against evil influences that oppose the virtues’ providential plan.
The last three choirs directly order human affairs:
The principalities care for earthly principalities, that is, cities and nations and kingdoms.
The archangels (such as Gabriel) carry God’s important messages to man.
Ordinary angels are the “guardian angels,” one for each individual.
This traditional ordering of angels is an accepted Catholic belief, though not part of official Church dogma. St. Thomas Aquinas is another Church theologian who found these different choirs of angels throughout Scripture and sought to find a coherent way to arrange them. Aquinas devotes an entire question in his Summa Theologiae to this concept and Kreeft’s summary above is partially derived from it.

What’s interesting is that according to this arrangement, only archangels and (ordinary) angels have direct dealings with humans. The many multitudes of the other choirs of angels are either with God or govern the world invisibly. An exception is St. Francis of Assisi, who was given the stigmata, or wounds of Christ, by a seraph. For this reason he is known among Franciscans as “our Seraphic Father.”

What a feast it will be for our eyes when, as Christ told Nathaniel, we “will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Virtue Signaling and Secular Redemption

Virtue Signaling and Secular Redemption

Ever since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling before preseason games in 2016, taking a knee in protest has become all the rage among the self-styled athletic elite. Spreading out from Kaepernick’s banal act of “defiance,” more and more players on more and more teams began refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem. The madness has now reached such a pitch that team coaches—the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, for example—and even team owners—such as the Cowboys’ Jerry Jonesare showing ingratitude toward the very nation that has enriched them. Players from awful inner city neighborhoods are protesting the police presence which keeps those places from descending into full chaos—and are also destroying the league that was their one ticket out of poverty.

In all of this, they are cheered on by their echo chambers in academia and the media, the semi-literate millionaire gladiators who staff the phalanxes of Sunday bloodsport, along with their keepers, have suddenly entered the pantheon of secular saints, heroes of political correctness who have found a way to regurgitate the cant of the liberal guardians without uttering a single word. As anyone could have predicted, ESPN—the sports-themed social justice clearinghouse whose anchoress Jemele Hill recently called Donald Trump a “white supremacist,”—has been supportive of the kneelers. The returning Apollo 11 astronauts were met with less fanfare than the linemen and tight ends genuflecting while our nation’s song is played.

But kneeling and pigskins were not always looked upon with such favor by the arbiters in the institutional politburo. Just last month, for example, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that former high school football coach Joseph Kennedy, whose pregame practice included kneeling at midfield in silent prayer and who was fired when he refused to stop praying, had no First Amendment grounds to sue for reinstatement. As reported in the Washington Examiner, the court found that Coach Kennedy “took advantage of his position to press his particular views upon the impressionable and captive minds before him.”

And then there was Tim Tebow. As an undergraduate quarterback at the University of Florida and then a player in the NFL, Tebow used to kneel in prayerful thanksgiving for touchdowns. He was roundly mocked by the media for this, subjected to intense ridicule for daring to express his faith in the public square. Tebow’s good nature allowed the scorn to roll off his back, but for many his treatment by the gods of broadcasting was a wake-up call. The term “post-Christian America” became a virtual slogan for our first post-Christian president, but even before it caught on the PC pillorying of Tim Tebow alerted us to the hard shifting of the cultural winds. Really and truly, the Christian hawsers anchoring the ship of the United States were being heaved back into the deep at lightning speed.

Long before Tim Tebow was born, of course, the takeover of America’s institutions by cultural Marxists and dyed-in-the-wool atheistic communists was well underway. By now, no one should be surprised to hear that most mainline churches are in full, fawning thrall to homosexual “marriage,” for instance. Recently, to take just one example, Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit who has made a career out of bending his own knee to the idols of the age, published a book which surely charts a course toward the homosexualization of even the Catholic Church. But it isn’t just churches. Academia, print media, broadcast media, the armed forces, the courts, the intelligence services, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the medical profession, the public schools, charities, large corporations, and every last labor union in the country—all have been swamped by politics. And politics, for the cultural Marxists, is a way of freezing natural human interaction and paralyzing resistance to infiltration. The strategy has worked everywhere it has been tried.
Except, until now, in sports. While some athletes have been outspoken about their political views, the tradition until just yesterday was for players to keep their politics part of their private lives. We knew Michael Jordan was friends with Bill Clinton and we knew Mike Tyson was a supporter of Donald Trump. We knew Tom Brady leaned right and Ray Lewis leaned left. But we didn’t care. Politics and sports were anathema, we thought. We had given up on religion and on shared moral tenets, but Sundays (there is no small irony in this) were days when we could put our differences aside and come together as one.

This began to change several years ago with the advent of virtue signaling. Virtue signaling is the practice, now endemic in the United States, of letting everyone know that you embrace the right views, hold the right opinions, and vote for the right candidates. (And by “right” here, I of course mean “left.”) Akin to Thorstein Veblen’s conspicuous consumption, virtue signaling is a typically American way of showing off one’s newfangled achievements to one’s equally clueless neighbors. Virtue signaling requires no thought and no investment of either time or reputation. All that is necessary is to parrot what one hears on TV. It is as simple as that.

One may have supposed that football, of all activities, would have been safe from the encroachments of virtue signaling, however. Once held up by Progressive champion Teddy Roosevelt as the perfect training for young men to fight imperialist wars, football has always been violent barbarism. Beyond considerable athletic prowess and the ability to strategize and remember plays, it requires no formal education of its practitioners. It is, in fact, horribly detrimental to the cognitive abilities of those who play it. But it is precisely for this reason that football, once the apolitical axis of shared American cultural life, lay open to political takeover after all.

It is no coincidence that the advent of virtue signaling in football was simultaneous with the revelations—leaks at first, but now a horrifying torrent—that repeated concussive hits were causing devastating, debilitating brain damage in football players at all levels. The NFL, which has some of the most powerful and highest-paid lawyers on the planet, denied it all at first. But then one after another player came forward with the same story. Some players committed suicide. Others—or their widows—filed suit. The NFL began to look monstrous even in the eyes of the proletariat, which formed its most loyal revenue base. The NFL had a public relations problem. What to do?

The answer was as brilliant as it was shrewd. The NFL, virtually overnight, transformed itself from a league of pile-driving body blows and periodic maimings (all of which were played back in slow motion as the ratings numbers climbed) to a troupe of pink-clad activists who just happened to play a ball game but whose real purpose was “raising awareness” about “women’s issues.” And it was not to be chalked up in the debit column, either, that the new “woman friendly” NFL served to distract attention from Adam “Pacman” Jones, Adrian Peterson, Brandon Marshall, Johnny Manziel, Daryl Washington, and the dozens of other NFL players who have been either accused or convicted of violence or sexual assault against females. Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers quarterback who so boldly sat out the anthem before last Sunday’s game, has twice been accused of sexual assault. He is now, naturally, a secular hero for showing contempt for the country whose criminal justice system allowed him twice to walk free.

The NFL’s new virtue signaling strategy worked like a charm. Female viewership soared, the league was able to appear humanitarian (despite the fact that its employees were being beaten to senseless pulps each weekend), and, for once, the players were able to give the world a peek into their political views. Was anyone surprised that an organization devoted to wanton violence for money would team up with the Susan G. Komen outfit, which funds precisely the same activity with its support for Planned Parenthood? But it doesn’t matter, because Planned Parenthood uses Susan G. Komen for cover, too. Everyone likes to signal their own virtue. Football players and coaches are hardly the exception.

It was only natural that, eventually, someone should take the virtue signaling to the next level and inject real, unmistakable politics into the game. Enter Colin Kaepernick. Now infamous as the little free agent who started this big war, Kaepernick took cues from his radical Muslim girlfriend and turned the NFL into a stage for his own self-righteousness. The temptation must have been almost irresistible. He knew he would be crowned with glory on SportsCenter the next morning. He knew the New York Times and the Washington Post would fall all over themselves to gild him with accolades. The NFL—and the sports world in general—was the Great White Whale, the last frontier of non-politics in a country now overrun with the stuff. All it took was a flash of insight to realize that the citadel was undefended and all the soldiers in the keep had long since switched sides.

What does this mean for the country? It was never any secret that the American elite hate the United States. We knew that before Jane Fonda mounted her first anti-aircraft gun in North Vietnam. But there is a much larger import to the genuflecting of the barbarians. Just as Christians realized ten years ago, during the mocking of Tim Tebow, that America was not a Christian nation anymore, Americans—even non-religious Americans—with any shred of patriotism left now realize that America isn’t an American nation anymore. We are a nation of virtue signalers. We bow to no God, and certainly to no flag or higher calling. We bedeck ourselves with the rainbow hues and brightly colored bows of our raised awareness, mechanically mimic the lessons we get from all sides from the cultural Marxists, and reverently bend our knees to our own virtue, to our own gloriously virtuous selves—right there on the big screen, for all the world to see.

But this very visibility may prove to be the NFL’s undoing. How much scrutiny will the private lives of its players and owners bear? As the Novena for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost has it:
If Thou take Thy grace away, nothing pure in man will stay, all turn’d to ill.
Like the rest of us, the NFL may want to think twice before venerating its own piety in public. But a larger problem remains: in a post-Christian, post-patriotic, and now, probably, post-football America, what is left to hold us all together?
Editor’s note: Pictured above, Detroit Lions players take a knee during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. (Photo credit: Paul Sancya | AP Images)

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Normalization of Delusional Thinking

The Normalization of Delusional Thinking

I sometimes wonder how so many people can be in denial about the danger posed by Islam to the rest of the world.

The textual, historical, and statistical evidence that Islam is an aggressive religion is overwhelming, but very few are willing to look at it. On the one side, you have a ton of hard evidence, and on the other side, you have ten megatons of wishful thinking: priests, prime ministers, and Hollywood celebrities assuring us that Islam is more peaceful than Christianity, more feminist than Gloria Steinem, and more caring than the Red Cross.

It’s the textbook definition of a delusion—“a false belief or wrong judgement held with conviction despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.” But, as I’ve come to realize, this delusional thinking is not specific to the crisis posed by Islam. Rather, it’s part of a larger pattern. In many ways, delusional thinking has become a main feature of the modern mind.

Take the transgender issue. All of a sudden, a significant percentage of our social and intellectual elites have succumbed to the delusion that a girl can be a boy, and a boy can be a girl, or whatever he, she, ne, ze, zir currently desires to be. This is not merely a rebellion against social convention, it’s a rebellion against reality. It’s a rejection of basic biology.

The most disturbing aspect of the “gender fluidity” fad is not that there are young and not-so- young (e.g. Bruce Jenner) people who are badly confused about their gender, but that there are legions of professionals—doctors, psychologists, teachers—who stand ready to confirm them in their delusion and even pump them full of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones.

More sinister still, there are other authorities who want to punish those who fail to honor the delusion. The California Senate recently passed a bill to fine and even imprison nursing home workers who fail to address patients by their preferred pronoun. Meanwhile, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued a “guidance” to business owners requiring them to use a person’s preferred pronoun or face a fine of $125,000 for “misgendering.”

In the old South there used to be laws against miscegenation, but nowadays in sophisticated, modern Manhattan, you can be fined for “misgendering.” Imagine that. If Max, the doorman, wants to be called “Maxine” today, you’d better go along with it, or else risk bankruptcy. And if on Thursday he decides he’s Maximilian I, the Emperor of Mexico, you’d be wise to address him as “your imperial majesty,” just to stay on the right side of the Human Rights Commission. In short, you are at the mercy of Max and his multiple identities.

There are several parallels here to what has become the standard response to Islam. As with transgenderism, we see an official denial of reality: Islamic terror has nothing to do with Islam, the terrorists (who are only a “handful”) “misunderstand” their faith, Islamic values are just the same as Christian values, and so on.

Likewise, just as you’re not allowed to call Bruce Jenner “he,” you’re not supposed to say “radical Islamic terror” or “migration invasion” or any other words that might be offensive to Muslims. If you slip up and use “Islamophobic” language, you can expect the same consequences that would follow if you called Maxine, “Max” on the wrong day of the week—namely, ostracism, job loss, and a heavy fine. Years before the New York City Human Rights Commission started policing transgressive words, columnist Mark Steyn was hauled before three Canadian human rights commissions for defamation of religion. His crime? In an article for Macleans, he noted the readily verifiable fact that Muslim birthrates in Europe were outstripping those of native Europeans.

Steyn is not alone. Dozens of prominent Europeans have faced similar trials, not because they said anything false about Islam, but because they made factual statements that Muslims found offensive. That sort of treatment sends a message, and most people have no trouble understanding the message. Whether the topic is Islam, or gender ideology, it’s not prudent to speak your mind. For example, although most adults realize that boys can’t be girls or vice versa, most are too cowed to say otherwise, except to trusted friends and relatives.

As Matthew Hanley observes in an incisive piece on the subject, such compelled speech is “degrading;” moreover, “making [others] agree to something they know is a lie is a hallmark of totalitarianism.” True enough, some people don’t know it’s a lie. They’ve been conditioned in school and college to believe that boys can be girls, that same-sex “marriage” is the equivalent of heterosexual marriage, and that Islam is responsible for most of history’s great cultural and scientific breakthroughs. The fact that these lies are believed by so many is testimony to the soft totalitarian takeover of our educational system.

The totalitarian creep has been going on for quite some time. I remember a university colleague who, back in the early nineties, excitedly told me that the big new thing in educational theory was “constructivism.” Actually, constructivism had already been the new thing in educational circles for at least a couple of decades prior to his personal revelation. It’s the idea that there are no objective truths, and hence each individual has to construct his own reality. According to this school of thought, Huckleberry Finn has no objective meaning, only the meaning you read into it. If you decide that Huckleberry Finn is a story about a transgendered adolescent seeking his true gender (your teachers will happily encourage you in that direction), then that’s the meaning of Huckleberry Finn. Whatever Mark Twain had in mind is irrelevant.

These as-you-like-it educational theories, arose in tandem with the self-esteem movement that began to sweep through schools, colleges, and seminaries in the 1960s and 70s. The self-esteem craze came out of the work of Carl Rogers, the pioneer of non-directive, non-judgmental therapy. Rogers taught that we should trust our inner selves, that morality is subjective, and that what’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for me. In his later years, as he developed an interest in Eastern thought, Rogers began to doubt the existence of objective reality. Reality, he came to believe, was something that each person created for himself.

Post-Rogers, the whole direction of education shifted—from exploring the world to exploring the self; from grappling with objective realities such as mathematics, history, and geography to discovering every nook and cranny of the subjective self. Non-directive education was the prelude to what we have now: in the case of gender ideology, the triumph of feelings over biological facts, and, in the case of Islam, the triumph of feel-good narratives over historical realities.

Another objective reality that came under attack during the self-esteem era was the existence of God, or, more accurately, the existence of the God who reveals himself in the Old and New Testaments—the God who make demands on the individual self. In his place, many substituted vague, New Age-ish forms of spirituality. Either that, or they began to conceive of God as a servant of their emotional needs—an all-understanding therapist in Heaven who just wants everyone to feel good about himself, herself, zeself, zirself.

The famous maxim attributed to Chesterton applies here: “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything.” Once you lose sight of the central objective reality in the universe, it’s easy to lose sight of all the other realities, and you end up believing in anything—no matter how counter-factual the “anything” might be. You might believe that same-sex couples are truly married, you might believe that males can become females. You might even believe—heaven help you—that Islam is a religion of peace.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Saints of suffering and genius: Bl. Herman and St. Pacificus

Saints of suffering and genius: Bl. Herman and St. Pacificus

These two holy men with great physical challenges stand as powerful witnesses to the truth that every life has dignity.

We live in a society that looks at suffering and disabilities as curses, circumstances to be avoided at all costs. If an unborn baby is imperfect, she should be aborted. If an adult becomes infirm, he should be able to end his own life. In the name of compassion, we eliminate the flawed and congratulate ourselves on being good enough.

The Church stands strongly in opposition to this inclination, fighting for the unborn, the elderly, and the handicapped, for their dignity and their very lives. People with disabilities have something to offer the world, not only when they happen to have some particular talent. Human beings are a gift simply because they exist.

This week, Mother Church offers us two saints with disabilities to contemplate. September 25 is the feast of Blessed Herman of Reichenau (also called Blessed Herman the Cripple). Blessed Herman was born in the 11th century with cerebral palsy and a cleft palate. He also suffered from spina bifida or spinal muscular atrophy, all of which combined to make moving and even speaking very difficult for him.

By all worldly measures, Herman was a burden. He could contribute nothing to his noble family and caring for him was extremely difficult. Then as now, however, the Church valued every life. Herman was entrusted to a Benedictine monastery when he was seven, there to be cared for in obscurity.

But Herman was no ordinary man. He was a genius. Though his body was weak, making both speaking and writing a terrible chore, his mind was brilliant beyond all telling. As the monks began to care for him, they realized that his disability was only a small obstacle between Herman and greatness.

Herman’s education began, but soon he outstripped his tutors. He was a musicologist, an astronomer, and a mathematician. As a historian, he wrote a detailed history of the Western world in the first millennium after Christ. He read Arabic, Greek, and Latin. He wrote theology and poetry. He built musical instruments and astronomical equipment. He was called “The Wonder of His Age,” and all this before turning 40! Towards the end of his short life, Bl. Herman went blind. No longer able to study as he had, he turned his unparalleled mind to composition, writing the Salve Regina and the Alma Redemptoris Mater before dying at age 40.

Saint Pacificus of San Severino (1653-1721), on the other hand, lived a golden life. Born into a noble family, his body was perfect and his mind along with it. He entered the Franciscan order and became a priest and a professor of philosophy.
Respected as he was, Fr. Pacificus was well aware that his salvation wouldn’t come from learning or the esteem of the world. His task was the salvation of souls, and he begged to be sent out as a preacher, encountering sinners in their struggles and leading them back to the embrace of Christ. For five years he wandered the Italian countryside preaching, until his feet began to develop crippling, untreatable sores.
Pacificus accepted this cross, giving up his successful preaching ministry to sit for hours each day in the confessional. There, too, he was useful. But Pacificus’ goodness didn’t lie in his usefulness, and as his disease progressed God was teaching him (and us) just that.

Next, Pacificus lost his hearing. Sign language was very limited at the time but he got by with crude gestures. Still, Fr. Pacificus submitted, rejoicing to carry the Cross with Christ in some small way.

He could no longer teach or preach or hear confessions, but he could still celebrate Mass. Until his sight, too, was taken. The great orator was now blind, deaf, and crippled. And in this lay his great gift to the world. He was holy in his usefulness, but he became a saint not by accomplishing but by being. Pacificus suffered joyfully, even when abused by his nurse. His peaceful acceptance of God’s will so conformed him to the heart of Christ that he experienced ecstasies and was eventually elected superior of his community, his holiness being far more important than his worldly abilities. For nearly 30 years, he lived in pain and isolation, dying at age 68 on September 24, which became his feast day.

Blessed Herman and Saint Pacificus stand as powerful w
itnesses to the truth that every life has dignity. Blessed Herman was counted useless but offered great gifts of beauty, truth, and goodness to the world. Saint Pacificus became useless in the eyes of the world so that God could show what a gift his life was. Let’s ask their intercession for all people with disabilities, for all who suffer from chronic pain, and for our culture, that it may once again become a culture of life. Blessed Herman of Reichenau and Saint Pacificus of San Severino, pray for us!

Fifty years after St. Pacificus’ death, Charles Michel de l’Épée, a French Catholic priest, created the first systematic sign language and became known as the “Father of the Deaf.”

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Role for Government that Nobody Thinks About--REDUCE GOVERNMENT TAXATION

A Role for Government that Nobody Thinks About

A few years ago, as Obamacare was being put in place, Republican governor John Kasich of Ohio suggested that the Christian obligation to assist the poor was a reason for expanding Medicaid in the state. Catholic social teaching does indeed make clear that the state has a role in assisting the needy, but only—in line with the principle of subsidiarity—when there is no other way it can be done. Is that the case with providing access to health care?

Subsidiarity is hardly just a sectarian principle. Even though hardly an American politician ever mentions it, it is a basic principle of social ethics—part of the natural law. As Pope Pius XI famously stated it in his encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, it is at the same time “an injustice,” “a grave evil” and “a disturbance of right order to transfer to the larger and higher collectivity functions which can be performed and provided for by lesser and subordinate bodies” (#79). In other words, when something can be done in the private realm—starting with the family and also including private associations, whether for-profit or non-profit—it is a moral imperative that it be done there. It is only when the evidence shows that something is truly needed in the first place and that it cannot be done privately that it is justified bringing it into the governmental realm. If so justified, it must then be shown that it cannot be done at the governmental levels closest to the people before it can go to the higher and more distant levels. In other words, while there is a moral obligation to assist the needy, it can be immoral if it’s done in a way that involves government when it’s not necessary.

It’s also not just a question of morality, but of practicality. When the attempt is made to do all sorts of things from the center, they can’t be done adequately or efficiently. As I’m fond of telling my students, it’s a good thing that the federal government isn’t in charge of trash collection in communities all over the country because it probably wouldn’t get done. In the encyclical Centesimus Annus, Pope St. John Paul II ran down a whole list of the troublesome results of the welfare state: the loss of human initiative, massive increases in public spending, and less concern with those being served than with “bureaucratic ways” (#48). In Europe we now witness national economies being crippled because of bloated public social welfare spending and a host of problems—including terrorism—resulting from easy immigration motivated in part by trying to get more people to tax to sustain the welfare states.

It’s curious that such a prominent American liberal intellectual as Alan Wolfe in his book The Future of Liberalism would say that it’s better for the needy to be taken care of by a government bureaucracy than private charitable organizations, which he says would be kind of “groveling.” He should have consulted John Paul before saying that and, for that matter, just observed how government bureaucracies treat people—with the additional fact that they have the full force of law to club people with. He might also have noted how when the elderly have turned to Medicaid for nursing home assistance, the state readily seizes any lingering assets they may have upon their deaths. Perish the thought of even any tidbits going to their offspring. Could anyone envision a private charity doing that?

The massive increases in public spending that John Paul alluded to raise a related problem that also has moral implications: the high taxation needed to sustain it. Pope Leo XIII’s admonition in the encyclical Rerum Novarum should be remembered: the state acts unjustly when it takes “more than is fair” from its citizens by taxation, as it is an indirect violation of the right of private property (#47). So, excessive taxation can be immoral. One of the criticisms of Medicaid expansion in Ohio and other states occasioned by Obamacare is the many millions it will add to state budgets—which is likely to mean, sooner or later, higher taxes. Those higher taxes won’t come just from the super-wealthy, of course, but will reach into the working and lower middle classes and will be an additional strain on them.

Do the facts show that aiding the needy on matters like health care mainly requires government? The members of Congress apparently thought that when they enacted Medicaid during LBJ’s Great Society. They simply made that assumption, probably without doing—or even wanting to do—much research about it. As historian Allen J. Matusow has written, however, there is no evidence that since its establishment Medicaid has provided either more access to health care or a better quality of care for the poor than the previous charitable care did. Following from what his predecessor said, Pope Benedict XVI in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate made clear that it is in no way inevitable that centralized, bureaucratic structures are needed to provide social services and assistance. He called on nations to develop a “more devolved and organic system” (#60).
Almost certainly, this especially refers to the non-profit sector—like the old charity-provided health care that Matusow speaks of—but perhaps to some extent even the for-profit sector, since Benedict says the distinctions have blurred in some ways as even certain for-profits now address some social welfare needs (#46). It’s worth noting that one of the consequences of the expansion of government’s social welfare role has been to weaken the non-profit, charitable sector or make even it increasingly dependent on government.
Actually, there is no danger that the poor would not get badly needed care from medical institutions even in the complete absence of Medicaid, since they are required by law to provide it. Many health care institutions don’t even need such legal prodding, however. They have arrangements to reduce the cost of care based on income.

In light of the history of successful charitable care in the U.S., one wonders if instead of proposing the expansion of Medicaid in their states, governors should seek to change state law and use the prestige, persuasive power, and even bully pulpit of their executive offices to encourage the reinvigoration and expansion of non-profit health care institutions and various efforts at charitable care. For that matter, the president ought to push in similar ways for this nationally and by encouraging legislative action to make it more possible. As charitable care would be strengthened and show people anew what it did before the era of Medicaid, Medicaid could actually be gradually wound down and, ultimately, retained only in the health care areas where government involvement is clearly needed.

It is problematical to suggest, as Governor Kasich does about health care, that the Christian obligation to assist the needy should be carried out via government programs. While, to be sure, government is sometimes needed and the obligation may in some cases be one of justice more than charity, to dismiss charity entirely from the picture makes it all seem like a redistribution-of-income scheme. It is hard for people to think they are carrying out a moral obligation to assist others when government gives them no choice and just forces them to pay up through the tax system. The case can certainly be made that, besides helping to avoid the pitfalls spoken of here, charitable institutions are both more effective than government in addressing human needs and—the Alan Wolfes notwithstanding—better at respecting and having concern for the individual than, as Pope John Paul recognized in mentioning “bureaucratic ways,” a distant, impersonal bureaucracy.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is St. Camillo de Lellis saving the sick of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit Sassia during the flooding of the Tiber of 1598, painted by Pierre Hubert Subleyras, c. 1746.