Friday, November 26, 2004
E-MAIL FROM DR. BOND
The Bishop of Scranton, Joseph Martino, has issued a decree suppressing the Society of St. John. The decree was published on November 25, 2004 on the front page of the Diocese of Scranton's newspaper, The Catholic Light. I have reproduced the decree below.
We will comment more extensively in our next e-mail letter on the content of the decree, especially the new revelation that the SSJ "caused grievous financial burdens for the Diocese of Scranton" when the Diocese had to "secure a $2.6 million loan in August 2003, because of the Society's indebtedness." Those who have followed this scandal closely will remember that then Bishop James Timlin, in an August 10, 2003 interview with reporter Mark Guydish of the Times Leader, denied that the Diocese of Scranton would guarantee the repayment of the loans that Timlin was helping the SSJ secure. We now know that Timlin's statement to Guydish was yet another Timlin lie to cover up his cozy relationship with the SSJ.
For now let us rejoice that the pervert priests of the SSJ may no longer wave the Church's flag in defense of their crimes against God and men.
Dr. Jeffrey M. Bond
The following decree has been issued by His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton:
In the name of God.
The Society of St. John, Shohola, Pennsylvania, erected as a Public Association of the Faithful in the Diocese of Scranton on May 24, 1998, is the subject of this decree.
Exercising the competency granted in this matter by canon 320 2, C.I.C. and having heard the Society's moderator and major officials, in accord with the norm of canon 320 3, C.I.C., I, the undersigned Bishop of Scranton advance the following reasons for the suppression of the Society of St. John:
1) Six years after its erection the Society has shown no progress in attaining its stated purposes. It is principally a debt servicing operation currently and can be seen continuing as such for many years to come.
2) The Society of St. John has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the Bishop of Scranton in the fulfillment of canon 319 1 and 2, C.I.C. As a result, the Bishop of Scranton is at risk of being charged with failure to supervise if donors to the Society judge that they have been deceived.
3) Allegations of sexual misconduct against two members of the Society have caused public scandal. If the allegations are not true, there, nevertheless, have been acts of commission and omission by members of the Society in general that have given rise to these allegations and the resultant scandal.
4) Past financial decisions and conduct on the part of the Society of Saint John have caused grievous financial burdens for the Diocese of Scranton. These burdens include the Diocese being named in a civil suit for over $1 million and the need for the Diocese to secure a $2.6 million loan in August 2003, because of the Society's indebtedness.
For these reasons I hereby decree the Society of Saint John, Shohola, Pennsylvania, suppressed as a juridic person, a public association of the faithful, as of November 24, 2004.
Given at the Chancery on November 19, 2004.
[Signature of Joseph F. Martino]
Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.
Bishop of Scranton
[Signature of James B. Earley]
James B. Earley
Diocese of Scranton
Note: Canons 1732-1739 provide applicable norms to seek the suspension of the effects of this decree and for hierarchic recourse against the same decree. At the direction of the Most Reverend Bishop, the Society of Saint John, Shohola, Pennsylvania, has been advised of these canonical norms by James B. Earley, Chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton.
E-MAIL FROM EARL APPLEBY
This month's issue of "Catholic World Report," features "The Struggle to
Save Terri" by CURE advisor Fr. Rob Johansen as the cover story. As Fr.
Johansen writes on Thrown Back:
"In this article, I relate some of the personal experiences of the
Schindler family, and my own experiences in helping them, in their
efforts to save Terri's life. I describe the circumstances of how I came
to be involved in her case, and my reactions to the inhuman treatment to
which she is subjected, such as her husband Michael's denial of a
"I had never heard of a patient being denied pastoral care before. I
can't even imagine the kind of hardness of heart required to take such a
position. Even condemned criminals are given access to clergy! But Terri
Schiavo, who was guilty of no crime, was denied something we commonly
provide to the most heinous of criminals. It seemed to me that Judge
Greer had decided that Terri was so sub-human that she is could be
denied even spiritual comfort and consolation. I wrote at the time:
"As a priest, I cannot imagine being in Msgr. Malanowski's position. I
simply could not stand for such interference with my ministry. I would
be inclined to seek every means possible to disobey the order and visit
Terri. An unjust law is no law at all. Similarly, a capricious, inhuman,
unjust and gratuitous judge's order is no order at all.
"There is a long standing tradition in the Church of defying Caesar when
he trespasses beyond his rightful authority. There is a well-established
tradition of resisting Caesar when he attempts to deprive the Church of
her legitimate prerogatives. And so, I reiterate the suggestion I made a
couple of weeks ago: It is time to consider civil disobedience.
"It seemed to me that this deprivation of Terri's right to spiritual
care was the final indignity. If this wasn't sufficient motivation to
condemn Terri's treatment and mobilize opposition, nothing would be."
The article isn't available on line yet, but we will provide a link on
Life Matters! (http://cureltd.blogspot.com) as soon as it is. Our appreciation, as always, to Fr. Johansen.
FROM THE CATALOG OF ROMAN CATHOLIC BOOKS
The Sword of the Prophet
"It's beginning to dawn on Americans of all persuasions that Islam is no friend..."
THE LATEST BOOK ON GRAIL QUESTING
from a BBC story linked at Crux News:
Erling Haagensen is co-author (with Henry Lincoln) of The Templars' Secret Island: The Knights, The Priest and The Treasure, which claims that "something" is hidden on the tiny island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.
"I do not know what the Holy Grail is," says Haagensen. "Something very important and with strong connections to the Holy Grail is hidden on the island of Bornholm. The Ark of the Covenant might theoretically be hidden there.
"But there is something even more important, which always followed the Ark of the Covenant, and which we can now prove is found at Bornholm. This will be revealed in our coming book," he adds, mysteriously.
ROBERT DUNCAN DISCUSSES HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE AND TOLERANCE
over at Sanctificarnos.
CRISIS MAGAZINE E-LETTER
Attacking The Helpers
November 24, 2004
I have two quick items to bring to your attention... two further
examples of our culture's continuing problem with anything that
smacks of religion.
First, as you might have heard, the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) is at it again, working tirelessly to defend America from the
Boy Scouts. Their complaint this time is that U.S. military bases
frequently sponsor Scout Troops. Why would that be a problem? Well,
membership in the Scouts requires one to believe in "God." Since
military bases are federal institutions, this results -- according to
the minds at the ACLU -- in the federal government supporting
Never mind, of course, that the Scouts merely ask their members to
affirm belief in some kind of divine Being... hardly catechesis for
Christianity. A scout need only believe in a transcendent "other" to
fulfill the requirement. But that small bit is still a bit too much
for the forces of the far Left.
How foolish and how embarrassing that the ACLU has descended to
this. I'm sure that the organization can boast of some truly valuable
accomplishments in their 84-year history, though I can't think of any
offhand. But this? Who would be foolish enough to fall for it?
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the United States Pentagon.
Yes, the Pentagon actually caved in to the demands of the ACLU. As a
result, military bases must now withdraw their sponsorship of local
scouting troops. This is doubly sad, as the fathers of many of these
boys are away for long periods of time -- some risking their lives in
Iraq and Afghanistan. The Boy Scouts provide these young men with
strong father figures and healthy and upright companionship. That
this is being taken from them because of the hysteria of the ACLU is
Which brings me to my second item...
It's common at Christmastime to see Salvation Army bell-ringers at
store and mall entrances. However, you'll no longer be seeing them
outside of Target. The superstore chain has now forbidden the
Salvation Army from collecting donations on their property.
In making the decision, Target said that they receive a lot of
requests from groups asking for permission to collect money or
signatures in front of the stores; if they continue to allow the
Salvation Army to stand there, they claim, they'll have to let
everyone else do the same.
This is a silly argument. As a private organization, Target has the
right to choose who may or may not use their property for
solicitations. Furthermore, the Salvation Army bell-ringer is an
American institution -- no fair-minded person could complain if
they're given an extra measure of deference.
Target's decision will really hurt the Army's charitable work. Last
year, the organization raised about $9 million outside of Target
stores -- making the chain one of their best locations. Now, with the
dramatic loss in donations, they'll have to curtail some of their
work. Of course, the hardest hit are the poor children, disaster
victims, shut-ins, and the elderly that the Salvation Army helps so
selflessly, year after year.
While it's certainly true that Target has every right to decide who
collects money on their property, you and I have every right to
decide where we'll spend our money.
If you're like me, you'll no longer be spending it at Target.
I wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
All the best to you,
P.S. If you happen to see a Salvation Army member collecting
donations, do think about giving them a little extra, to try to make
up for the short-fall they'll be experiencing. It's hard to overstate
the good work they do.
To learn more about CRISIS Magazine, visit:
I have just one thought regarding the Boy Scouts. Historically it has often been the case that Masonic Lodges were attached to military groups. Assuming that is still being done, will the Masons be the next target of the ACLU? The Masons, afterall, require belief in God in the form of Grand Architect of the Universe.
Somehow I don't think the ACLU will be taking note of it, however.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
IT'S FR. GRUNER'S WEBSITE, BUT...
it talks about a documentary to be aired on PAX...
VATICAN IGNORES PEACE PLAN, SAYS CATHOLIC DOCUMENTARY
A leading conservative Catholic organization is about to air a nationwide television documentary that accuses high Vatican officials of putting the whole world at risk by ignoring a divinely inspired peace plan.
In the hour-long program, various Catholic priests and authors explain how the Vatican has been in possession of a plan to achieve world peace for more than 47 years, but has failed to take the simple steps necessary to implement it. These charges are made against many of the same Vatican officials already feeling pressure from conservative factions rallied by Mel Gibson’s controversial movie "The Passion of The Christ." Many disaffected Catholics share Gibson’s desire to restore traditions the Church has abandoned since the 1960s.
Entitled "Heaven’s Key to Peace," the documentary was produced by The Fatima Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the Message of Our Lady of Fatima. It is scheduled to air on December 8 on the PAX network, which reaches about 95 million homes in the U.S.
It will air December 8, 2004 on PAX TV Network at
11:00 a.m. (Central/Mountain) — 12 Noon (Eastern/Pacific)
and 11:00 p.m. (Central/Mountain) — 12 Midnight (Eastern/Pacific)
You can read the rest of the story at the website. It talks about the Fatima consecration of Russia. And there is that word "tradition" again. So, is this the Traditionalism of Rama Coomaraswamy, or is this something else? I sure don't know. It's getting harder and harder to sort out the players in this Roman Catholic Church game.
Also, how is this going to look to non-Catholic Christians if the documentary paints the Vatican as interfering with the peace plan?
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
TRYING TO FIGURE THIS OUT...
The turkey is roasting, the family is watching the parade, so I'm here, and having a hard time comprehending how sacramentals cause "damage" in a Catholic church. It's sort of a left-hand-doesn't-know-what-the-right-hand story.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
SECULARISM PROGRESSES IN SPAIN
according to an article at Chiesa.
The pope did not refer to it directly, but he undoubtedly had Spain partly in mind. There, the government headed by the socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is carrying out substantial initiatives to make divorce easier and quicker and to make gay and lesbian unions equal to marriage, including the ability to adopt children. "There will be no turning back" was the response to protests from the Church, given by deputy Ramon Jauregui, who is in charge of Catholic-related matters for the socialist party.
But this is only the beginning. The Spanish Church's fear is that the secularist "revolución" launched by Zapatero will rapidly be extended to other areas: Catholic religious education in the schools, Church funding, embryos, abortion, euthanasia.
To raise an early alarm for the faithful against the legalization of euthanasia, the Spanish bishops' conference distributed seven million flyers on Sunday, November 7: the first part of a campaign in defense of life, freedom of education, and the family.
In opposition to the legalization of homosexual marriage, the Spanish Forum for the Family has launched a citizens' legislative campaign which has already gathered half a million signatures and is expected to reach two million.
Other associations have announced marches and demonstrations.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
SECULARISM IS AN ATTACK ON THE CHURCH
Continuing with the theme of the above story on Spain, Chiesa also reports on general conditions in Europe:
ROMA – They're more convinced of it than ever in the Vatican. There is a systematic assault by secularism against Christianity underway, centered in Europe and with the Church of Rome as its main target.
In an interview with the newspaper "la Repubblica" on November 19, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger described it as follows:
"We are faced with an aggressive secularism, one that even shows intolerant characteristics sometimes. [...] In Sweden, a Protestant pastor who preached on homosexuality on the basis of a Scripture passage was jailed for a month. Secularism is no longer that element of neutrality which opens up areas of freedom for everyone. It is beginning to turn into an ideology that imposes itself through politics and leaves no public space for the Catholic and Christian vision, which thus risks becoming something purely private and essentially mutilated. We must defend religious freedom against the imposition of an ideology that presents itself as the only voice of rationality."
One month earlier, on October 18, Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was even more blunt. Presenting a collection of all the diplomatic speeches of Pope John Paul II, he denounced the fact that the voice of the pope and of the Church "are deliberately made to disappear, submerged beneath the tumult and shouting orchestrated by powerful cultural, economic, and political lobbies, which are mostly motivated by prejudice against everything that is Christian."
In the judgment of the Vatican authorities, there are countless proofs of this secularist aggression. Cardinal Martino, who represented the Holy See at the United Nations for sixteen years, recalls "the attempt to eject the Vatican from the UN because the Church has always defended life and opposed abortion." As for the present situation, he added: "Just think of the carefree and cheerful manner in which these lobbies tenaciously promote the confusion of [sexual] roles in gender identity, ridicule marriage between man and woman, and attack life, which is made the object of the most extravagant experiments."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
FR. PETER JOSEPH DISCUSSES APPARITIONS - TRUE AND FALSE
and in connection with them, the capabilities of devils, at Christian Order:
What the devils can and cannot do
The devils cannot do the following:
(1) Produce any kind of truly supernatural phenomenon;
(2) Create a substance, since only God can create;
(3) Bring a dead person back to life, although they could produce the illusion of doing so;
(4) Make truly prophetic predictions, since only God knows the future absolutely, and those to whom He chooses to reveal a portion of it. However, the devil’s intelligent conjecture about the future might appear to mere mortals a prophecy;
(5) Know the secrets of a person’s mind and heart. However, their shrewd intelligence and observation may enable them to deduce many things about a person.
But the devils can do the following:
(1) Produce corporeal or imaginative visions;
(2) Falsify ecstasy;
(3) Instantaneously cure sicknesses that have been caused by diabolical influence;
(4) Produce the stigmata;
(5) Simulate miracles and the phenomena of levitation and bilocation;
(6) Make people or objects seem to disappear by interfering with a person’s sight or line of vision;
(7) Cause a person to hear sounds or voices;
(8) Cause a person to speak in tongues;
(9) Declare a fact which is hidden or distant.
Further along in the article he discusses "Signs of the divine spirit" including:
GRAVITY. God is never the cause of things that are useless, futile, frivolous, or impertinent. When his spirit moves a soul it is always for something serious and beneficial.
Sort of goes directly to the heart of discussions of mysticism, doesn't it?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
ESOTERICA JOURNAL REVIEWS CHRYSSAVGIS' BOOK
John Chryssavgis, In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2003) paperback, 163 pp.:
Although this book is not, strictly speaking, on the subject of Western esotericism, it concerns a form of esotericism, that of Eastern Orthodox monastic praxis and the spiritual struggles of the early Christian desert recluses. John Chryssavgis is himself a Greek Orthodox priest as well as a professor on the East Coast of the United States, and his earlier book is entitled Soul Mending: The Art of Spiritual Direction (2000). So it is clear that he comes to the themes of this book from a practical and personal rather than totally academic perspective. This quality lends the book a direct quality that makes it particularly compelling. Included in the book is his translation of The Reflections of Abba Zosimos that complements well this valuable book of spiritual advice. Those who wish for a more profound understanding of inner spiritual transformation in early Christianity would be wise to find themselves a copy of this work.
If you look further down the website you will find one of Cutsinger's books reviewed as well.
James S. Cutsinger, ed., Not of This World: A Treasury of Christian Mysticism, (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2003) paperback, 272 pp.
As the title suggests, this is an anthology of Christian mysticism, but it includes a number of authors whose work might not ordinarily be included—for instance, Jean Borella, Philip Sherrard, and Bernadette Roberts. The anthology is thematically organized around primary topics of "Purification" and "Illumination," and "Union," and the selections work well together. The editor, in his introduction, sets forth his central argument: that Christianity in its various contemporary denominations should recognize the significance of the traditional teaching of deification, and not encourage belief in an unbridgeable abyss between Creator and the created.
Cutsinger is the editor of _Paths to the Heart_, a topic of discussion here yesterday. Once again here is evidence of reducing belief in Christ to an equal playing field with belief in a variety of "spiritual" phenomena. Once that is the worldwide accepted notion, the next step would be to show that all of the other religions are in agreement, while the Christians refuse to cooperate, I suspect. At which point Christians will be the enemy of world peace and harmony. There seems to be a trend in this direction developing in Europe.
The current volume of "Esoterica Journal" also offers a link to "Recent Traditionalist Books" which doesn't work, unfortunately.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I suppose I should get back to the turkey now.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Enable me, O my God, to thank You as I ought for all Your great blessings and favors. You formed me out of nothing. You redeemed me to share in the divine life of grace. You made me a member of the body of your Son, the Church. You have given me the opportunity of working for the building up of that body. You have preserved me from the punishment I deserve for my sins and have given me the grace of repentance even though I have not ceased to offend you. What return, O my God, can I make for Your inumerable blessings and particularly for the favors of this day?
Teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve You as You deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to ask for rest, to labor seeking no reward but that of knowing that I do Your will.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And now for a little humor...
A turkey farmer was always experimenting with breeding to perfect a better turkey. His family was fond of the leg portion for dinner and there were never enough legs for everyone. After many frustrating attempts, the farmer was relating the results of his efforts to his friends at the general store get together. "Well I finally did it! I bred a turkey that has 6 legs!"
They all asked the farmer how it tasted.
"I don't know" said the farmer. "I never could catch the darn thing!"
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE !
EMAIL FROM LEE PENN
Check this out:
washingtonpost.com: Of Mice, Men and In-Between
Read the whole story, carefully. This is the fruit of our "advanced" society. It's beyond Brave New World.
After reading this story, re-read C.S. Lewis' Hideous Strength ... and reflect that we all live in Belbury now, and the N. I. C. E. are in charge. And re-read the Lord of the Rings, and recall who was interbreeding Orcs and Men. To see the meaning of this in non-fiction terms, re-read C. S. Lewis' Abolition of Man,
In his last published essay, "We Have No 'Right to Happiness'," C. S. Lewis concluded:
"Though the 'right to happiness' is chiefly claimed for the sexual impulse, it seems to me impossible that the matter should stay there. The fatal principle, once allowed in that department, must sooner or later seep through our whole lives. We thus advance toward a state of society in which not only each man but every impulse in man claims carte blanche. And then, though our technological skill may help us survive a little longer, our civilization will have died at heart and will - one dare not even add the word 'unfortunately' -- be swept away."
He wrote this in 1963. and this prophecy is being fulfilled in our hearing.
Of Mice, Men and In-Between
Scientists Debate Blending Of Human, Animal Forms
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 20, 2004; Page A01
In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins.
In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human.
In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls.
These are not outcasts from "The Island of Dr. Moreau," the 1896 novel by H.G. Wells in which a rogue doctor develops creatures that are part animal and part human. They are real creations of real scientists, stretching the boundaries of stem cell research.
Biologists call these hybrid animals chimeras, after the mythical Greek creature with a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail. They are the products of experiments in which human stem cells were added to developing animal fetuses.
Chimeras are allowing scientists to watch, for the first time, how nascent human cells and organs mature and interact -- not in the cold isolation of laboratory dishes but inside the bodies of living creatures. Some are already revealing deep secrets of human biology and pointing the way toward new medical treatments.
But with no federal guidelines in place, an awkward question hovers above the work: How human must a chimera be before more stringent research rules should kick in?
The National Academy of Sciences, which advises the federal government, has been studying the issue and hopes to make recommendations by February. Yet the range of opinions it has received so far suggests that reaching consensus may be difficult.
During one recent meeting, scientists disagreed on such basic issues as whether it would be unethical for a human embryo to begin its development in an animal's womb, and whether a mouse would be better or worse off with a brain made of human neurons.
"This is an area where we really need to come to a reasonable consensus," said James Battey, chairman of the National Institutes of Health's Stem Cell Task Force. "We need to establish some kind of guidelines as to what the scientific community ought to do and ought not to do."
Beyond Twins and Moms
Chimeras (ki-MER-ahs) -- meaning mixtures of two or more individuals in a single body -- are not inherently unnatural. Most twins carry at least a few cells from the sibling with whom they shared a womb, and most mothers carry in their blood at least a few cells from each child they have born.
Recipients of organ transplants are also chimeras, as are the many people whose defective heart valves have been replaced with those from pigs or cows. And scientists for years have added human genes to bacteria and even to farm animals -- feats of genetic engineering that allow those critters to make human proteins such as insulin for use as medicines.
"Chimeras are not as strange and alien as at first blush they seem," said Henry Greely, a law professor and ethicist at Stanford University who has reviewed proposals to create human-mouse chimeras there.
But chimerism becomes a more sensitive topic when it involves growing entire human organs inside animals. And it becomes especially sensitive when it deals in brain cells, the building blocks of the organ credited with making humans human.
In experiments like those, Greely told the academy last month, "there is a nontrivial risk of conferring some significant aspects of humanity" on the animal.
Go to the website to read the rest of the story...
THE REIGN OF QUANTITY & THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Rene Guenon's Collected Works, a book with 279 pages, 40 chapters, and a useful index; written in 1945, translated from the original French by Lord Northbourne, third and fourth editions printed by Sophia Perennis, Ghent, N.Y., ISBN 0 900588 67 5.
The basic premise of the text is that civilization has degenerated, via the loss of belief in the transcendent and the embrace of a scientific worldview, to a state in which all that is considered valuable is that which can be categorized as sense data. If you can't hear it, see it, smell it, touch it, it doesn't matter. Guenon believes this focus has turned humanity into a society of bean counters who are primarily focused on the quantity of reality rather than the quality of it. He believes this reduces us to the lowest common denominator in any and every specific category, because a mass grouping, such as is required in order to generate statistical data, necessitates sameness.
We have exchanged our individuality for our numbered place in line, while being kept amused as we shuffle along in step, by the toys that a society focused exclusively on material reality acquires. He writes:
Man 'mechanized' everything and ended at last by mechanizing himself, falling little by little into the condition of numerical units, parodying unity, yet lost in the uniformity and indistinction of the 'masses', that is, in pure multiplicity and nothing else. Surely that is the most complete triumph of quantity over quality that can be imagined. (p. 194)
To a large extent he is correct. We do tend to think alike. We embrace the latest trends in dress, eating habits, entertainment, lifestyles. Those who are not "with it" as in adopting these trends, are considered backward geeks hardly worthy of acknowledgement. We take it for granted that mostly we will like the same things. Television helps to insure that we do. It is not politically correct to have a different opinion. The ad man tells us what to buy, using psychological games to generate sales. There is a high financial stake in sameness.
Guenon further indicates that our shift from an arts and crafts society to an industrial society necessitated this emphasis on conformity. Production lines produce sameness. Workers must be attuned to repetition in order to be effective on the production line. There must be many customers for the produced sameness. Ultimately man becomes an extension of the machine he runs, while the machine enjoys primary importance, since there will be financial loss if it ceases to function, holding up production. Man is more dispensable than the machine.
Guenon argues that we need to recover our spiritual life; and warns that when we attempt to do so, we are in danger of looking for the spirits of hell who are more in tune with this dreary sameness than is the spirit of our Creator who makes an abundance of difference reflected in His creation. Guenon believes this drab existence of sameness has been brought about at the direction of an unseen hand that he does not identify.
He condemns spiritualism (the practice of calling up discarnate spirits), calling it "profane", and claiming that it arose out of somnabulism. He writes:
This state of affairs had its beginning at the time when the study and the control of certain psychic influences descended, if it may be so expressed, into the profane domain, and this in a certain sense marks the beginning of the phase of 'dissolution' properly so called in the modern deviation. (p. 124)
...spiritualism...inherited the conception all the more naturally through being predisposed to it by an original connection with magnetism; and this connection is much closer than might be at first supposed, for it is highly probable that spiritualism could never have reached any very considerable development but for the divagations of the somnambulists, and also that it was the existence of magnetic 'subjects' which prepared for and made possible the existence of spiritualist 'mediums'. (p. 125)
He also condemns Theosophy and shamanism.
The book offers food for thought and many points for agreement, but there are also shortcomings.
The one most prominent is his reference to this process as being a cyclical manifestation which of necessity must repeat itself as a result of cataclysm that mark the beginning and end of time spans. Current life on planet earth is not the first manifestation of reality, nor is it going to be the last.
This is a cosmology significantly different from the Catholic cosmology. It has the advantage of being a concept that can't be disproved, which means that no one can say he is wrong. How do you argue with someone who believes human life began on Atlantis or believes the earth is hollow, and that there is a colony of beings located there?
Yet in spite of this cyclical worldview, the arguments presented by his theory of degradation are arguments based on straight-line lineal thinking...straight-line within a cycle...which he believed repeated itself. He uses the words "Manvantera" and "Yuga" to designate periods of time. The terminology, and I presume the cosmology, is Hindu.
He believes we are nearing the end of a cycle--approaching a cataclyism--after which a golden age at the beginning of the next Yuga will follow. Never does he set out the state, in concerte examples, that he credits with being "golden", nor does he indicate when our present cycle began. Thus the reader, while acknowledging that "deterioration" in the culture is probably taking place, has no clear idea when or how he believes this deterioration began, apart from his reference to the beginning of spiritualism. He writes:
...time, in its active opposition to the antagonistic principle, unfolds itself with ever-growing speed, for it is far from being homogenous, as people who consider it solely from a quantitative point of view imagine, but on the contrary it is 'qualified' at every moment in a different way by the cyclical conditions of the manifestation to which it belongs.
We experience time differently as we age. This concept seems to argue that the world also experiences time differently as it, or a cycle of it, ages. Seems rather contrary to the evidence of the alarm clock.
Another shortcoming is his constant use of run-on sentences, necessitating too frequent re-reading.
His thinking is elitist. If you "get" his theories, you are one of the few remaining persons of "quality." It is not difficult to see how Julius Evola morphed Guenon into Nazism.
He mixes cosmologies at random, borrowing from religions where he will, and combining disperate structures into a philosophy that is entirely his own. Yet despite his enthusiasm for a variety of religions, he is critical of quantity in general. This theory of quantity bringing degradation, combined with mixing cosmologies hints at primordial unity; and in fact he discusses it. But an argument for quality as opposed to quantity is an argument for the Catholic faith in which he once believed and subsequently abandoned. While arguing for a lost "quality", he fails in his own life to give witness for that quality, and instead demonstrates use of "quantity" in his very arguments. In other words, he fails to practice what he preaches.
Guenon believes that there was a continent of Atlantis where the Nephilim - an angelic or godlike being - mated with humans, inciting the wrath of God which brought about the destruction of one civilization. The Nephilim are in Scripture, yet I have never gotten the idea from Scripture that there was another world which they inhabited. Guenon writes:
...[the] most ancient things so far made known to us by archaeological research do not belong to a period more remote than about the beginning of the Kali-Yuga, where naturally there is situated a second 'barrier'; and if some means could be found for crossing this one, there would be yet a third, corresponding to the time of the last great terrestrial cataclysm, and the cataclysm traditionally referred to as the disappearance of Atlantis.
I could make claims that can't be proven, too. Why should anyone believe them? Why should anyone believe his?
In one chapter he speaks of "squaring the circle" (p. 142), a familiar Masonic concept, though I don't think they invented it. This entire chapter, in fact, discusses Masonic concepts, speaking of cubes, squares, compasses, "egg of the world", and the Hermetic Androgyne.
Chapter 4 focuses on the Masonic concept of geometry having spiritual values, a prominent feature of Kaballah, occultism, and esoteric Freemasonry. On page 27 he refers to "order out of chaos," a theme of Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
In the latter chapters of the book he applies what he learned from his days in the occult movement, identifying the dangers inherent in sorcery, shamanism, psychic residues, anti-traditional action, inversion of symbols, the problems with psychoanalysis, initiation, and anti-initiation. Here he differentiates between spiritual paths. With little effort it is possible to read into the material the activities of Luciferians such as Ordo Lapsit Exillis. He condemns the activities of the occult revival. In these chapters he gets much closer to a Catholic cosmology.
In conclusion, while I found some of his points valid and interesting, especially in those last chapters, there was too much of airy-fairy ethereal new age thinking in the book for me to be converted to Guenonian Traditionalism. We do not as a society need a return to traditionalism described in as many ways as man can conceive of it. What we need is a return to belief in the transcendental Trinitarian God who made heaven and earth, who sanctifies and redeems us, who is our light and our hope. We don't need a return to a traditionalism of quantity, but rather a return to quality in the truth that is Jesus Christ.
STILLNESS IN MEDITATION
Robert brought up the issue of emptying oneself during prayer vs. filling oneself with thoughts of God.
John Paul II has indicated that we need to recapture the mystery of Eastern Christianity, and so Orthodox meditation practices are of primary interest.
In PATHS TO THE HEART: SUFISM AND THE CHRISTIAN EAST, Vincent Rossi is describing hesychia with this quote:
Summing up the value of stillness coupled with the Prayer of Jesus, St. Hesychios adds that the way of hesychia with the invocation of the Jesus Prayer preserves all the precious gifts that keep all evil at bay:
(Quoting St. Hesychios:)
We should strive to preserve the precious gifts which preserve us from all evil, whether on the plane of the senses or on that of the intellect. These gifts are the guarding of the intellect with the invocation of Jesus Christ, continuous insight into the heart's depths, stillness of mind unbroken even by thoughts which appear to be good, and the capacity to be empty of all thought. (p. 76-77)
While it's true that repeating the Jesus prayer is not the same as a completely empty mind, his description still more closely fits an empty mind of Eastern meditation than it does western meditation which concentrates on thoughts of God, such as the mysteries of the rosary.
As you can guess, I had a hard time with that particular passage.
(For readers who are not familiar with the Jesus prayer, it has a couple of forms. One of them is "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner." Another form is simply repeating the word "Jesus" over and over. Justin, are there other forms?)
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
THE CONFUSION DERIVED FROM INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
It's a Yoga website sent in by a reader who had not heard of Hesychism until reading the word here today. Heaven only knows what these Yoga practitioners think they are trying to say here, but this is what results when a syncretistic mix of religion and religious terminology is applied.
Then we can become one with the so-called Universe. This can happen when kundalini has been awakened and sushumna is open, so the energy can climb to the highest level, to sahasrara, and enable unity with shiva, the male principle and shakti, the female principle. This condition is known as Samadhi in yoga, nirvana in Budhism, satori in Zen and enlighment in Hesychism...
(If you are having trouble locating the passage, it's under the sub-heading "Kundalini - part of the universal power.")
THE MYSTICAL CONCEPT OF CHURCH
Last Sunday in the Latin Church was the Feast of Christ the King - the last Sunday of the Church year. It's one of my favorite because it's so filled with the certainty that Christ rules and the ultimate outcome of the struggle of good and evil will be His.
Father gave a homily I don't ever recall hearing in the Roman Catholic Church before, but one that will be familiar to Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic readers. He talked about the purpose of Mass being primarily worship and he spoke about time stopping at the church doors where we enter into eternity--a corner of heaven on earth--when we enter the church.
Most Roman churches lack any sense of mysticism in their furniture and decoration. They appear very much places of the earth. That is not true of the otherworldly interior of a Byzantine/Orthodox church. Yet this concept of entering into eternity when we enter the church is equally valid in both Eastern and Western Catholicism.
If mysticism is the nature of the future of religion, our shepherds need to recapture for us the mystical side of our faith. The fact that our churches have been stripped of reminders isn't going to help much.
A reader sent in this link to a Hindu saint.
In reading through the description, images of Toronto Blessing come to mind when the article mentions extended periods of laughing. Images of Hesychism as described by John Chryssavgis in _Paths to the Heart_ come to mind in reading of her extended periods of crying. Her whirling dances sound like Sufi dervishes.
All of these practices denote advanced holiness in whatever religion they appear in. That is the premise of _Paths to the Heart_ and in Guenonian Traditionalism. So readers, what is your opinion? Is this an example of grace? A psychological state? Hypnotism? Demonic possession? In thinking about it, remember that grace builds on nature.
We are going to need to get a grip on what is from God and what is not, because these practices are being put forward as evidence of a syncretistic religion with a common denominator.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
MYSTICISM REPLACING RELIGION
A reader sent in this link to a Times Online article:
It is unlikely that you, the average punter going to your aromatherapy or meditation group this evening, imagine that you are revolutionising the sacred landscape of Britain. But, little by little, you are.
Study after study appears to prove that people are increasingly losing faith in the Church and the Bible and turning instead to mysticism in guises ranging from astrology to reiki and holistic healing. The Government, significantly, said this week that older people should be offered t’ai chi classes on the NHS to promote their physical and mental wellbeing.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
WAS THE KAABA A HINDU TEMPLE ?
the website asks.
In reading material on Sufism, the relationship between Sufism and the Hindus comes up frequently. A reader sent in this website that claims they may be related.
BERIT KJOS DESCRIBES THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP
otherwise known as apostasy, U.N.-style.
It's a good article on the mind games being planned to generate the new globalism. Frightening to see how we can be manipulated. There are links on the left of her website which will further explain these mind games, including leadership by concensus, a widespread and notoriously effective brainwashing technique.
One thing needs to be kept in mind to avoid being sucked in - "Jesus Christ is Lord."
Thanks to a reader for the link.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
ARTICLE AT ZENIT ON POSTMODERN RELIGIONS
MADRID, Spain, NOV. 18, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Christianity must be centered on Jesus Christ and have no truck with astrology or superstitions, warns a scholar of religions.
José Luis Vázquez Borau, author of "The New Religious Phenomena: New Age, Occultism and Satanism," holds a doctorate in philosophy and a licentiate in moral theology. He has spent much of the last 20 years dedicated to the study and teaching of the religious phenomenon.
Q: There is a somewhat chaotic resurgence of religion: spiritualisms, esotericisms. Is this phenomenon leading to
Vázquez: It is difficult to predict if this phenomenon is leading to something more. What can be affirmed is that to the degree that the human being wishes to deny, cover or dissimulate, as if it did not exist, the "religious sentiment which is innate," the latter will seek a thousand ways to make itself present and to manifest itself.
We have a recent example in civil baptisms. The human being has imprinted in him a divine presence which we can go so far as to say that it does not exist. But not because of this will it cease to exist and to manifest itself.
Therefore, three things are necessary: Christian communities that give joyful testimony of the faith and at the same time are involved in the problems of people's lives, especially the poorest; witness of the Absolute; and an adequate religious formation, without which any charismatic sectarian leader, in the pejorative sense of the word, can take over people's uninformed consciences.
Thanks to a reader for the link.
LES FEMMES' MARY ANN KREITZER
Comments on the Bishops Meeting:
The U. S. bishops' November meeting ended Thursday, November 18. In line with the unbroken tradition of the Vice President rising to the post, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington was elected to succeed Wilton Gregory as head of the USCCB. An unprecedented election did take place, however, when Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, PA was nominated from the floor and won chairmanship of the Liturgy Committee, a post he also held from 1992-95. The return of Trautman, a champion of inclusive language and liturgical "reform" in the spirit of Vatican II, sends a bad signal to those hoping to see reverence restored to the liturgy. The bishops' embarrassing opening Mass will likely be repeated often in the future. Participants watched it degenerate to a silly spectacle with "Gimme that Old Time Religion" and some shepherds clapping and swaying to the closing hymn before processing down the aisle. Do our bishops have any dignity left?
How should the sheep in the pew regard this meeting? Unhappily, it mirrored the simultaneous secular battle in the Republican party over the nomination of Arlen Specter to head the Judiciary Committee. As the Republicans circled the wagons to defend protocol over principle and elect a radically pro-abortion senator to screen Supreme Court and federal judgeship nominees, it was also business as usual for the club of Church politicians which the USCCB has become. By electing Skylstad the bishops signaled they have no intention of true reform. They will protect their man-made protocols including the automatic election of a bishop whose diocese is bankrupt and who shared his rectory as pastor with a notorious abuser. "Without a vision, the people perish," [Proverbs 29: 18] but it seems unlikely the vision will be restored any time soon by the Bishops' Conference.
MATT C. ABBOTT WRITES...
"Persecuted Priest Lashes Out at Fellow Clergy"
In an e-mail I received, Father Haley laments:
."All of this, so far, is about me. Bishop Loverde is not on trial, Father Rippy is not on trial, Father Mealey is not on trial, and the Church is not on trial. Their faculties have not been removed, their permission to preach has not been denied, and their financial pay has not been discontinued while they wait — I have been waiting three years, one month and counting — for some recourse to some sort of Church 'justice.'
"And yet, I am not the one hiding homosexual priests and bishops, or homosexual misconduct and abuse, or homosexual pornography. I am not the one stealing large sums of money from parish collections. I am not the one using money, donated by the people of the diocese to further the Gospel proclamation of the truth, to pay for canon lawyers, civil lawyers, public relation firms and the salaries of diocesan spokespersons in order to intimidate, control, and hide the truth about the real moral crisis.
"I am not the one using public media, diocesan newspaper and pulpit announcements, to falsely malign and defame a priest of the diocese with knowingly false information about not being under a legal subpoena to testify, or of purposely publicizing information about homosexual priests in the diocese.
"That information was part of the deposition questions asked in the Lambert lawsuit tying to show a trend, or history, of not addressing priest problems and of protecting guilty priests from exposure, correction or removal from ministry — although this 'protection' seems to highly favor homosexual abuse problems. I am not the one who has promoted homosexual men to positions of authority and power — chancellors, vicar generals, vocation directors, seminary rectors, even to the office of Bishop and Cardinal.
Why is this priest being persecuted?
Why is Arlington exempt from Dallas News and Boston Globe investigations?
What could be worse than the scandals that have already come out?
And with a little stretch I also ask...Does it have anything to do with Dignity's group The Defenders?
The Washington Times is reporting this persecution of the whistleblower:
But it's far from over, says a local Catholic priest who says the true source of the crisis is a priesthood that is "honeycombed" with homosexual clerics, especially in the Diocese of Arlington.
However, attempts by the Rev. James Haley, 48, to persuade his bishop of the problem have backfired. After hearing from the priest about numerous instances of homosexual activity among diocesan clergy, Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde ordered the priest silenced Oct. 23, 2001. This "precept of silence" — usually only employed during church trial proceedings — is rarely used to silence a whistleblower.
What is Loverde covering up? Catholic minds want to know!
Monday, November 22, 2004
WHAT DOES THE CHURCH SAY ?
Before blogging comments about Guenon's _The Reign of Quantity_, I'd like to look briefly at the Church's position on Perennialism.
Guenon joined Catholic circles at the Catholic Institute in Paris in 1916, where he gave lectures on Hinduism. He was viewed as a scholar of what today would be called comparative religions. The Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain promoted his book, _A General Introduction to the Study of Hindu Doctrines_. This book consisted of the material Guenon had assembled for a doctoral dissertation that was rejected by French Indologist Sylvain Levi. One Pertinent reason for Levi's rejection was Guenon's belief that a mystical transmission of a primal truth that appeared to humanity in the first ages of the world, a belief Levi found ridiculous according to Mark Sedgwick, but which appealed to Maritain. (_Against the Modern World_, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 22-23).
Even prior to his tenure at the Catholic Institute, Guenon's articles in "Christian France," a publication that specialized in attacks against Freemasonry and occultism, earned points with the Catholics. (ibid. p. 29)
Ultimately, however, Guenon lost the support of Maritain who came to the conclusion that "Guenon's metaphysics are radically irreconcilable with [Catholic] faith. The remedy [for contemporary problems] proposed by Mr. Guenon - which is frankly, a Hinduist restoration of ancient Gnosis, mother of heresies - would only make things worse." His later publication of _Orient and Occident_ accelerated his break with Catholic support at the Institute.
A Dominican whom Sedgwick does not identify:
...went further, warning against taking Guenon for an ally of Catholicism on the strength of his "brilliant execution of Theosophy..., his horror of Protestantism, and of secular and scientist morality". The Dominican concluded, "Our naivete does...have some limits": Guenon was clearly on the other, Oriental side. (ibid., p. 30)
After this his work with the Catholic Institute came to an end though his on-again, off-again relationship with Catholics continued.
Turning to the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris, an encyclical which praises the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, I found comments that seem to address the specific philosophy at issue:
For, the teachings of St. Thomas...have very great and invincible force to overturn those principles of the new order which are well known to be dangerous to the peaceful order of things and to public safety. (No. 29)
While in this encyclical Pope Leo refers to "ancient Philosophy," it is clear from the context that this ancient philosophy is the truth of the Catholic faith, and not a philosophy patchworked together out of the combined teachings of numerous religions of the world. He says further: "be careful to guard the minds of youth from those [sources] which are said to flow [from St. Thomas], but in reality are gathered from strange and unwholesome streams." (No. 31)
Since the Perennial Philosophy is often referred to as an "underground stream," the passage is pertinent.
Turning to the Encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, I found what appears to be a specific condemnation of Traditionalism:
There are many who, deploring disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through an imprudent zeal for souls, are urged by a great and ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides good and honest men; these advocate an "eirenism" according to which, by setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma. (No. 11)
He makes an even stronger condemnation of Traditionalism, describing the procedure he rejects in this way:
In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents. (No. 14)
...still the duty that is incumbent on the faithful to flee also those errors which more or less approach heresy, and accordingly "to keep also the constitutions and decrees by which such evil opinions are proscribed and forbidden by the Holy See," is sometimes as little known as if it did not exist. What is expounded in the Encyclical Letters of the Roman Pontiffs concerning the nature and constitution of the Church, is deliberately and habitually neglected by some with the idea of giving force to a certain vague notion which they profess to have found in the ancient Fathers, especially the Greeks. (No. 18)
In passage 32 he speaks of "traditional philosophy" and "perennial philosophy." Yet again, the philosophy in question is that of the Angelic Doctor Thomas Aquinas as he explains in passage 31. Pius describes Guenonian Traditionalism rather accurately with this passage:
While scorning our philosophy, they extoll other philosophies of all kinds, ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem to imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with a few additions and corrections if need be, can be reconciled with Catholic dogma. No Catholic can doubt how false this is
Turning to recent work of Cardinal Ratzinger who has written a book to address this trend, I found in a review of _Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief in World Religions_ at Ignatius Insights, sent in by a reader:
Yes, Christianity has a European element. But above all it has a perennial message that comes from God, not from any human culture, argues Ratzinger. While Christians have sometimes pushed their cultures on other peoples, as have non-Christians, Christianity itself is alien to no authentically human culture. Its very nature as a free response to God's gift of himself in Jesus Christ, means that Christianity must propose itself to culture, not impose itself.
This could be taken to be approval of Traditionalism were it not for the reference to Christ. As the article further says:
At the heart of the discussion about the diversity of religions, contends Ratzinger, is the identity of Jesus Christ. ...The divinity of Jesus is "the real dividing line in the history of religions"...
Ratzinger further adds:
...there is a kind of mysticism in which one seeks to merge into or become identical with everything in an all-embracing, impersonal unity. Many Eastern religions and the New Age movement are religions of that sort.
Lastly, a paper online by Stratford Caldecott, titled "The Deep Horizon" addresses Traditionalism. Caldecott, too, finds that this belief runs aground on the unique person of Jesus Christ who cannot be equated to spiritual leaders in other faiths.