Saturday, April 09, 2005


A reader sent this article from USNewswire about the ladies who want to be heard in conclave:

The female perspective on the legacy of Pope John Paul II and the future needs of the Catholic Church is critical, for women have significant presence within the Church. Women comprise an estimated 82 percent of employed chaplains and parish ministers in the U.S., and they volunteer in droves within their parish communities. Worldwide, there are 783,000 women religious serving the church's 1.07 billion Catholics compared to 405,000 priests.

That's nearly two for one! Guys, you are underrepresented. Are you gonna let that happen? The Church needs at a minimum 378,000 more of you just to even the score! Come on and listen up...I know the Lord will be calling now that at least some of the seminaries have been cleaned up. The women have mixed theology up more than enough. We are in need of male leadership!

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


Just in case some of you haven't seen it over there. I sure do hope Mark Steyn is right and we will get an orthodox pope at the conclave. It is not impossible that the next pope will be a liberal, since Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan is a front runner, and Dr. Moynihan indicated he is about as liberal as liberal gets.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


I've lived through the death of Pius XII (Oct. 9, 1958), John XXIII (June 3, 1963), Paul VI (Aug. 6, 1978) and John Paul I (Sept. 28, 1978). Never do I remember the media event we have witnessed this past week, the past funerals were far less of a media spectacle.

Of course we have satellite coverage now. In 1978 that was not yet possible. Then too, on August 6, 1978, I had a new baby less than a month old, and my attention was not exactly focused on media events. Sept. 28 is my husband's birthday, and I remember the birthday of 1978. His parents had come for dinner. Just as we sat down to eat, our new baby decided to announce to the world and outer space that she was not happy. There was no quieting her no matter what I did. Her grandmother took over but had no more luck than I had. Neither of us could figure out what was wrong. About the time dinner was stone cold she stopped crying and went to sleep, and by that time no one was very hungry any longer.

That birthday dinner took place around 5-6 p.m. Ohio time, which was 11-12 p.m. Rome time, and just about the time that John Paul I died. It's odd to remember it that way.

In any event, does anyone else remember what they were doing when John Paul I died, and what the media coverage was like then?


From Spirit Daily:

A friend of ours close to Medjugorje seer Ivan Dragicevic of Bosnia-Hercegovina writes, "At Ivan's apparition tonight (4/2 in U.S.) Ivan was recommending intentions to Our Lady when the Pope appeared on her left. He was smiling, young and very happy. All in white with a long gold cape. Our Lady said to Ivan: 'this is my son; he is with me.' Personally, I have never seen Ivan so happy."

Friday, April 08, 2005


30 Days reports an odd statement:

Herranz and communion to remarried divorcees

On the occasion of the presentation of the instruction Dignitatis connubi, on 8 February, Cardinal Julián Herranz, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, is reported as stating: «Remarried divorcees are not excommunicated, they are fully in the Church. Receiving communion or not, is also related to the public scandal that their situation can provoke within a specific Christian community. Where there is no such scandal, these Christians can receive communion». The words of the cardinal were reported by La Repubblica the day after the presentation, in an article signed by Orazio La Rocca.

Thanks to a reader for the heads up on this one.


My husband and I made a quick trip to the store for groceries this evening. This store happens to be across the street from city hall in a nearby community. While loading the groceries into the trunk I happened to look up. There was the flag out in front of city hall flying at half mast. "Why?" I asked the man who was loading the trunk. "For the Pope" he responded.

So what happened to the separation of Church and State tonight? If the separation can be breached for the death of the Pope, what is to stop it being breached for other reasons, like say a nativity scene on the city hall lawn at Christmas time?

Yet this same community was engaged in a legal battle not long ago because of the Christian images on the city seal. If the flag can fly at half mast for a Catholic religious leader, why can't the seal carry a Christian image?


"We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the father's house, that he sees us and blesses us," he said to applause, even among the prelates, as he pointed up to the third-floor window above the square.

With those words used during the homily of the funeral Mass, Cardinal Ratzinger echoed the demands of the crowd:

Ratzinger was interrupted again toward the end of the Mass by several minutes of cheers, rhythmic applause and shouts of "Giovanni Paolo Santo" or "Saint John Paul," from the crowd. The eruption of cheers came right before the Litany of Saints chant, in which the names of the saints are read.

Prior to Vatican II, funeral Masses were solemn affairs intended to bring grace to the recently departed in the hope that the stay in Purgatory would be shortened. Since Vatican II the change in the color of funeral vestments from the somber black reflects a change in thinking to one of celebration that the deceased is most likely already in Heaven. This morning's Mass certainly reflected that new thinking.

The unembalmed body of John Paul II--a body that nevertheless did not repulse anyone with evidence of decay--was laid to rest:

The coffin was definitively closed with red bands and both papal and Vatican seals, and nested inside a second casket of zinc and then within a third of walnut. The outside casket bears the name of the pope, his cross and his papal coat of arms.

When will those seals be broken?

The fact that his body was not embalmed brought the story of Lazarus in the tomb immediately to mind when it was announced. That reference to Lazarus was re-echoed today in the final words of the funeral Mass: "May you have eternal rest with the poor man Lazarus in Heaven."

How long will it be before the official canonization is announced?


Newsday.com reports:

Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston over his role in the clergy sex abuse crisis, has been given a role of honor in the mourning for Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican announced Thursday he will lead one of the daily Masses celebrated in the pope's memory during the nine-day period that follows the funeral, called Novemdiales. The service will be held Monday at Rome's St. Mary Major Basilica, where Law was appointed archpriest after leaving Boston.

Some Roman Catholics in his former archdiocese immediately protested.

Suzanne Morse, spokeswoman for Voice of the Faithful, a Massachusetts-based reform group that emerged from the scandal, said Law's visibility since the pope's death has been "extremely painful" both for abuse survivors and rank-and-file Catholics.

"It certainly shows and puts a spotlight on the lack of accountability in the Catholic Church, that the most visible bishop in the clergy sexual abuse crisis has been given these honorary opportunities," she said.

David Clohessy, national director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called it "terribly insensitive."

Cardinal Law is surely aware of the response of the victims to his position of honor. Why, then, didn't he refuse to say this Mass. Surely he could have invited another cardinal to do the honors. Out of deference to the victims and out of what we hope is a contrite heart, he should have stepped aside.

Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said he did not know why Law was chosen, but said it was likely because the basilica is one of the great churches of Rome.

"It would be a natural selection," McCarrick said. "The choice was certainly not made for any reason except to honor St. Mary Major."

Does this, then, do honor to St. Mary Major? Somehow I doubt it.

Blogger credit to Novus Ordo Watch.


From LifeSite:

Popular protestant minister and television personality, David Mainse, who is in Ottawa lobbying legislators on the impending same-sex 'marriage' bill has called upon Paul Martin and other politicians who claim the name 'Catholic' not to receive communion when attending Pope John Paul's funeral tomorrow.

Mainse has been a vocal supporter of Calgary bishop Fred Henry who is being hauled before a Human Rights tribunal for his strong stand against homosexuality. Referring to Henry, Mainse said, "I intend to say the very same things as he has said. He's a brave man and I appreciate him more than I can tell."


“John Paul, we love you.” Karol Wojtyla heard it chanted by countless crowds around the world. In what may go down in history as the largest funeral in the West has seen, their presence told him one more time, “John Paul we loved you.”

He lost his mother in childhood and his father by the time he was twenty. He witnessed the horror of Auschwitz 20 miles away from the town where he grew up. He watched his neighbors being marched away never to return. His love and his need for love was generated in the midst of one of the greatest tragedies that man has wrought. Perhaps it could be said that his love was a reaction to that horror—a reaction that never went away. His Pontificate was a never-ending expression of that tragedy that shaped him. The 264th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church substituted the family of God’s Church for his own lost family. Perhaps he needed the love of the crowds as much as they needed to give it to him.

Always the crowds knew that he loved them back. Unconditionally. He loved the world with no strings attached, and the world got the message. This love could be had for free.

If he is now called “Great” it is not for the end of communism he was instrumental in bringing about; it is not for his teachings though he was an untiring teacher right up to the day he died, and left writings that will be studied for generations. If he is called “Great” it is for those exchanges of love that took place whenever people were in his presence.

Emotions are running high today. In time they will cool. Then the reality must be addressed. While the world loved him, Catholics in the Western world often ignored what he had to say. There may be more Catholics in the world today than ever before. Do they practice the faith? Are they all at Mass on Sunday? Are there unprecedented numbers of students in the seminaries? Are marriages healthy? Are families counted as the greatest value the world offers? Is all life treasured? Are we witnessing unprecedented holiness in the clergy?

Love, it would seem, has not generated goodness. Love, it would seem is little more than high emotion. If he convinced the world to love, he did not convince the world to keep God’s Commandments. He did not draw the world to the practice of the faith. Love as merely emotional outpouring, is not worth much.

John Paul II was no disciplinarian. He couldn’t bear to impose consequences. Did he see Auschwitz in the very effort to govern, and so rejected it? He didn’t uphold standards in the way that he was uniquely suited to uphold them. Perhaps he couldn’t bear the thought that the world would love him less for doing it.

He invited the world to come through the Needle’s Eye, and the world trampled down the gate in the name of love.

What will be the legacy of the man who loved? Now that he has gone and the love fest has ended, will the world finally get around to listening to what he told us, that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that He gave us Commandments and a Church to mold us into the people He wanted us to be? Or will the emotion cool and the world move on its merry way still trying to mold Christ into whatever image the mood of the moment dictates?

Love is worth little if it excuses vice, if it fails to draw forth holiness, if it doesn’t change us. Love is worth nothing if it ignores the God-Man of Love who came to draw all of humanity to Himself.


Fr. Rob Johansen reports:

It's Happening Again:

Georgia Woman Being Starved and Dehydrated

85 year-old Mae Margourik of LaGrange, Georgia, is currently being deprived of nutrition and hydration at the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy. Mrs. Margourik suffered an aortic dissection 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized. Though her doctors have said that she is not terminally ill, Ms. Gaddy declared that she held medical power of attorney for Mae, and had her transferred to the LaGrange Hospice. Later investigation revealed that Ms. Gaddy did not in fact have such power of attorney. Furthermore, Mae's Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal.

Father has checked with one of the relatives as he reports at his website, and this really is happening again.


However, I did go through Google listings for Blogger and found out that a lot of Bloggers were able to get posts up during the time when it was not working for me.

I see now that comments have disappeared. Sigh.


has written a comparison of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Paul II. The parallels he points to are convincing. They shared a lot in common. Perhaps they are comparing their stories in Heaven at this very moment.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


sworn in today, and two new Vice Presidents, one a Suni and one a Shi'ite, according to Reuters.


Reuters reports:

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the conduct of the United Nations' human rights body was undermining the credibility of the entire U.N. organization and urged governments Thursday to support his plan to reform it.

"Unless we re-make our human rights machinery, we may be unable to renew public confidence in the United Nations itself," he told the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which is holding its annual six-week session at its Geneva headquarters.

"We have reached a point at which the commission's declining credibility has cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system ... and where piecemeal reforms will not be enough," he said in a speech.


According to this account it doesn't appear to contain any surprises except that he agonized over whether to resign in 2000 after he had led the Church into the new millennium.


the best, most balanced, assessment of the life and contributions of Pope John Paul II that I have seen yet. Naturally I agree with him. I remember the mess JPII inherited. It is probably wishful thinking that it could all have been cleaned up by one man. He did much to remedy the situation. What orthodoxy we find in the Church today we must thank him for, but as Rod points out, the fact remains that his governance left room for the next pope to shine.

God grant us an orthodox pope. Holy Spirit bring to us an orthodox pope who will govern. Jesus guide the thinking of the cardinals that they might choose wisely. Our Lady of Fatima intercede for us.

Thanks to a reader for pointing out the commentary.


for anyone who is curious, is online at this link.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


has arrived in email. Dr. Robert Moynihan has noted that rumors are flying around Rome including one about what will be in the Pope's will that is set to be read tomorrow, specifically that John Paul has named his successor.

The following portion of the Newsflash is probably of greatest concern:

This betting page gives the best odds to Milan's cardinal archbishop, Dionigi Tettamanzi, who is regarded as a conservative. But one of our colleagues has compiled this special report entitled "Two Italian Cardinals":

"Gentlemen: It has come to my attention that there are two Italian cardinals in the running to become our next Pope -- one excellent, the other exceedingly bad.

"First, the bad news:

"1.One of the men being heavily promoted to become our next pope is the notorious Dionigi Tettamanzi, the Cardinal-archbishop of Milan. This has caused great apprehension among orthodox Catholics concerned about the future of the Church. Tettamanzi is frequently described in the media as a 'conservative,' but in reality, from what I have been told, there is nothing conservative about him. He is -- I quote trusted sources -- a 'wolf-in-sheep's clothing,' a dangerous innovator, who, if given a chance, might make John XXIII and Paul VI look like Hard-Right Traditionalists -- I kid you not -- Tettamanzi's detractors believe he would usher in ANOTHER REVOLUTION were he to become pope.

"What is the evidence for this? Well, for starters -- and even the Encyclopedia Britannica might not be able to contain all of this man's antics, were it to chronicle them -- Tettamanzi is best known as the main contributor to a book of essays on 'Christian Anthropology and Homosexuality,' in Italian: Antropologia cristina e omossessualita -- now in its THIRD PRINTING. The essays caused a sensation when they first appeared, and have now been immortalized in a book -- popular among liberal psychologists and 'forward-thinking progressives' -- but Tettamanzi's book has flown beneath the radar screens of most Americans, and certainly the media. It is an overt attempt to 'understand' the homosexual ethos, from a 'new' Christian perspective -- the same perspective which has led to so much
permissiveness in our seminaries and beyond.

"Tettamanzi has successfully fooled certain Catholics into
believing he is a 'conservative' because he uses traditional, even pious language, even mentioning the influence of Satan, in a transparent effort to inoculate himself from any suspicion. He apparently even has the support of some in Opus Dei. Also, he has an innocent, roly-poly look which leads some to believe he is a jovial, harmless prelate, not at all looking to rock the boat. But if you get beyond the 'conservative' reputation, and his disarming appearance -- if you read him carefully, and you talk to people in the know, they will tell you that Tettamanzi, were he to become Pope, would be the worst disaster to befall the Church in many a century. In fact, one colleague admitted to me privately: 'If the new Pope walks out onto the papal balcony, and I see Dionigi Tettamanzi's smiling face, I think I'm going to collapse. I'll be curled up into a fetal position, and it will take several weeks for friends to rouse me. The Church, as we know it, will be over.'

"Over and above his sympathy toward the homosexual ethos is Tettamanzi's ambition, which is looked down upon in Rome. Indeed, if there is one thing which may prevent Tettamanzi from becoming Pope -- perhaps our best hope -- it is this unbridled ambition -- in today's Church, ambition is less forgivable than adopting a 'new' perspective on sexual immorality. Among the orthodox, a cry has gone out to the faithful Cardinals gathering for the Conclave: 'No to Tettamanzi!' and even 'Anybody but Tettamanzi!' (Well, almost anybody -- we wouldn't want anybody from the Netherlands, for example).

"2. In contrast to Tettamanzi, is my choice for Pope, a man I am praying and even predicting will be our next Pope -- a cardinal who has not gotten too much media attention but is a favorite among the orthodox, and very much in the mold of our best popes like Pius XII -- a pastor, a diplomat, and intellectual -- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, now the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

"He is known to be quite faithful, severe when he needs to be, but also open to change and reform that would strengthen the faithful (he has been in the forefront of fighting the evils of homosexual priestly child abuse, unlike many other Church officials), and immensely compassionate, intelligent and aware of the Church's -- and the world's -- most serious problems.

"He is a man of peace and conciliation whose reach is not limited to Europe -- he has very close connections to the Third World -- but he is not naive about real dangers in our age of Terror, and has a very realistic appreciation of the contemporary world. He is not afraid to preach the Gospel and/or the truths of the Church to anyone, and has an excellent relationship with the world's bishops. Everything else I have been told about Cardinal Re, who attends confession frequently -- so sensitive he is to
sin -- leads me to believe that 'he will be a magnificent Pope' -- as Pius XI said of Cardinal Pacelli, before the latter became Pius XII -- who would lead the Church into the twenty-first century, picking up and extending the great legacy of John Paul II, while also -- if I can say so respectfully -- clean up some of John Paul II's underreported messes.

"Here is a very telling comment, on Cardinal Tettamanzi, from Time magazine's cover story (April 11th) on the passing of John Paul II, and who is hustling to take his place: 'The former Archbishop of Genoa who has succeeded Martini (the very liberal Jesuit and one-time Great Hope of the liberals) in Milan. His [Tettamanzi's] philosophical approach is sufficiently unclear that neither the progressive Cardinals nor the doctrinaire are likely to oppose him.' A perfect -- and chilling -- description of Tettamanzi's elusive, deceptive, oh-so-seductive thinking: he is like the German philosopher Heidegger, or the impenetrable Immanual Kant: his philosophical novelties are like little time bombs; but they are so dense and incomprehensible that nobody understands them at first... but Tettamanzi's got that smile, and he reminds people of John XXIII, so people think he must be great. But wait: ecclesiastical in-fighting to the rescue: Time indicates that the liberal Cardinal Martini--whom the ambitious Tettamanzi replaced in a bitter transition -- is still upset with the way he was unceremoniously forced to retire, and Time indicates that Martini may enact revenge at the Conclave: 'Martini, the man who might have been Pope, could work to derail Tettamanzi's candidacy.'

"Yes, go Cardinal Martini! Martini is far too liberal to ever become Pope; but he can block Tettamanzi, so Cardinal Re can score a theological touchdown and become Pope.

"Note: the following article, on who may be the next Pope, from the Chicago Tribune, says the odds-on favorite is the
'conservative' Tettamanzi, but Cardinal Re is closing in on him as a rival -- of course, the Italians could cancel each other out, and we could usher in a Third World Pope; but if not, Re could emerge from the conclave as...Pope John Paul III.

(Editor: You must register with the Chicago Tribune to access this article.)

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!


at Front Page Magazine:

I am European and came to America in 2002, where I teach at an elite Liberal Arts College. My native country is among the most socialized in the world, with strong leftist parties, from democratic socialists to outright communist. All across Europe the left – the far left, somewhere between Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean – has a very strong political position, as well as a clearly visible presence on university campuses.

Despite my European background I found myself deeply surprised by the political bias on college campuses here in America. Left-wing bias is almost undetectable among European college faculty compared to America’s academic institutions. The bias that I have encountered has so many facets that I am still encountering new ones.

One of the first signs of political bias was an unqualified admiration for Europe in general and its welfare systems in particular. Having both personal and scholarly experience of those, I told new colleagues of all the problems that I saw there: unemployment twice as high as in the U.S., heavy welfare dependency, high crime, health care rationing, perpetually rising taxes, etc.. This image of Europe did not accord with what my new-found colleagues – overwhelmingly liberal – had decided that they saw over in the Old World.

In fact, their uncritically positive image of Europe astonished me so much that I began trying to convince them that they were wrong. (In the name of free speech and an educated academic conversation – things that you would expect to find on a college campus.) This turned out to be a bad idea: my colleagues slowly but steadily changed their attitude toward me. I refused to acknowledge that the politics in Europe was as superior as European wine, cars or cuisine. (In fact, I prefer California wine, I drive a Chevrolet and I love pumpkin pie!)

The most feverishly liberal among my colleagues now began looking at me as a traitor. One told me to stop expressing my political views when other faculty was around. Why? Because, he said, “I do not want to have to defend why we have a conservative here” at our department.

The writer has a lot more to say, none of which is very encouraging. Unfortunately it is very believable.


From LifeSite:

QUENSEL, BC, April 5, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a decision handed down yesterday, Quesnel School District Superintendent Ed Napier suspended school counsellor Dr. Chris Kempling for three months. Dr. Kempling has been employed as a counsellor since 1990, and has been active in a wide variety of volunteer positions in the community. He is also the local spokesperson of the federal Christian Heritage Party, and had written a letter to the editor of the local newspaper on behalf of his party, criticizing the Liberal government's same sex marriage legislation. The school district did not provide a single example of disruption to the school system, or any negative effect of the letter. They also ignored over a dozen letters of reference from supervisors and community members written in support of Dr. Kempling.

Thanks to a reader for the tip.


I've emailed Dom about this. He has blogged all he knows for now, which is not a lot more than we have speculated on.


A reader sent in this website that contains portions of a speech by Dr. William Mara in which he discusses the difference between belief and obedience, the protection provided by the Holy Spirit for the teaching of the Pope, and how it applies to a conclave and to decisions made by the Magisterium. The speech was given in 1995, but it is just as applicable today.


The crowds are still there this morning, still silent, still processing past as they were when I shut down the computer last night. Prayers are being said in various languages including Latin. No other sound is to be heard except the responses, said and sung, as the coverage on Vatican TV continues. It is a much different experience to watch this coverage than to watch the news media cover the event.

The crowds, the magnificence of the setting, the costumed Swiss Guards, the prelates in cassock and scarlet, the silence, all speak of something greater than the man who has died. The reason for the event, John Paul is still only a part of what is happening over there. If it were only about a man, it would not have the impact. There is a sense of things greater than man can comprehend. There is a timelessness surrounding the body of John Paul II and enveloping all those present. It even comes through the television cameras. The world does not intrude into this space. Rather, stepping through the doors or checking into the website places the believer in a world beyond--a visit to eternity.

As I watch the coverage, I can almost imagine the seeds of the New Springtime he talked about being planted there. Unlike the emotional highs of his Papal Masses all over the world, a solemn grandeur and dignity pervades this space, a dignity beyond man's kin. It speaks of the unique God-Man, the One and Sole Incarnation in all of creation that can rescue us from ourselves. It speaks of hope that John Paul has entered Heaven and that we also have the means to enter Heaven if we choose to embrace it, a place where every tear will be wiped away, a place where he waits for us to join him.


Hello Everyone,

Friday's papal funeral will feature thousands of mourners and hundreds
of international dignitaries.

In short, it's an Islamic terrorist's dream.

Consider the amount of damage Islamic terrorists can do with a
well-placed bomb under potentially compromised security.

Consider the boost in morale if such an attack succeeded at the
Vatican, which al-Qaeda has wanted to attack.

We must start praying for the safety of all those attending. Islamic
terrorism must not be allowed to achieve this potential "victory."

Those of you who have blogs, please post this and pass it along to
other bloggers. It is your moral obligation to do so.

I realize that a couple of you don't like me. So what? If you value
your distaste for me over your obligation to protect the innocent, then the heck with you. They matter; your opinion of me doesn't.

Time is short. Start praying now.

Joseph D'Hippolito


I tend to see the same potential that you do, Joseph. Consider the Third Secret that the Vatican released not long ago. It speaks of dead and dying bodies in the streets around the Pope and would seem to be about John Paul II if the interpretation we've been given is accurate.

My husband mentioned last night that he supposed there was tremendous security there that is not visible. However, once before an assassin got through the net. Some prayer cover would certainly be appropriate.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle...



He isn't going to be buried until Friday!

According to Yahoo News:

VATICAN CITY - Departing from tradition, Pope John Paul II was not embalmed, only "prepared" for viewing by hundreds of thousands of mourners, the Vatican said Tuesday.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls did not elaborate on the procedure, but an embalmer in Rome said it appeared John Paul's remains were only touched up with cosmetics.

Massimo Signoracci, whose family embalmed three other popes, said he could not be certain what had been done without examining the body.

Signoracci said even a light embalming is necessary for a body that is exposed for several days.


One woman knelt down and kissed the floor. Another woman genuflected.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


The San Francisco Chronicle has posted an article about him which is dated tomorrow. If you check out this article, you will be getting your news a day early. (Don't try taking it to the stock market, though):

Saul Bellow, the 1976 Nobel Prize-winning Canadian-born writer whose groundbreaking 1953 novel "The Adventures of Augie March" helped craft the template for half a century of first-generation American fiction, died Tuesday in his home in Brookline, Mass. He was 89.

"The backbone of 20th-century American literature has been provided by two novelists -- William Faulkner and Saul Bellow," Philip Roth said Tuesday. "Together they are the Melville, Hawthorne, and Twain of the 20th century."

Word-sozzled, life-hungry, Bellow's semi-autobiographical antiheroes marked the close of World War II by crashing the country club of American literature. They chiseled and loved, they humped and swore, and they did it in a vernacular that owed a leg-breaking debt to Yiddish, and borrowed from Greek and Latin to pay it back.

I never did master reading Bellow. Just couldn't get into his way of thinking, and didn't know why. Then a couple of years ago while researching Rudolf Steiner for the Spiritual Counterfeits Project I found out why. Bellow had a different worldview as the reviews of Humbolt's Gift at the Saul Bellow Society website explains:

HG, unlike other novels, explores the dialectical tension between human ideals and human actuality, between the spirit and the void, within the framework of Steiner's anthroposophy—a new influence on Bellow's fiction. Connects Steiner's thought with that of the American transcendentalists and with Goethe's World-Conception. Bellow uses Steiner's ideas to foster a more complete defense of man.


Examines the use of rational and apparently neutral discourse as it defines the modernist's project using Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of heteroglossia or competing discourses. Shows how the appearance in the text of an occult discourse deriving from Rudolph Steiner's turn-of-the-century lectures on anthroposophy has caused critical debate, but may now be explained by further reference to Bakhtin's concept of interillumination as a means of deprivileging language.

Well, you can't have an Anthroposophical worldview and a Christian worldview at the same time, though Steiner would have claimed to be Christian, I suppose. Back when I tried to read Bellow, I just knew something wasn't right, and was darn glad I didn't inhabit the world I found in his book.


The link will take you to

Saint Alphonsus Ligouri’s thoughts on the election of a new Pontiff. The letter [which follows] was written to an unnamed bishop in 1774 before the election of Pope Pius VI. When we read what Saint Alphonsus Ligouri had to say in the late 18th Century, we can hardly imagine what his comments would be today. To quote Saint Alphonsus, “There is need for prayer and much prayer”.

Go to the website to see what the saint had to say.



While driving in Holmes County, Ohio, a family caught up to an Amish
carriage. The owner of the carriage obviously had a sense of humor,
because attached to the back of the carriage was a hand printed sign:

"Energy efficient vehicle.

Runs on oats and grass.

Caution: Do not step in exhaust."


All over the web, I find essays about John Paul II that make him seem larger than life, that lament his passing as though the writer had thought he would live forever and is now in shock that he actually died. Tears seem to be the ticket of admission to St. Blogs. Every account I've read is invariably sentimental, yet here I sit dry-eyed before my computer screen, contemplating taking a blogging hiatus until after the funeral. Maybe it's just the age factor. Death is more familiar to someone who has been around for the death of four previous popes and a lot of other people as well. The older I get the less offensive death looks when it comes at the end of a long and productive life.

Lots of posters in St. Blogs remember only one Pope who reigned for all or most of their lives. Maybe someone that much a part of a person's personal landscape is harder to do without. Or maybe Catholicism and the Pope are all tied up in a single package. Is it that the Catholicism that existed before this Pope was so different that it looks like foreign territory making people think the Church can't go on without him? The faith is bigger than John Paul II. Christ remains. We must not lose sight of that.

There's no doubt that he had a major impact. Yes he had time to make many changes in the way we live the faith. And yes, he preached orthodoxy and opposed the topsy-turvy madness that has been such a plague since the Council. But it has always been orthodoxy with a twist, though a lot of younger people don't seem to know that, or don't want to. He did good. Some of those on the right and on the left who think he should have done what he chose not to do are silent now, as perhaps they should be. Even Novus Ordo Watch has tempered criticism.

He was not young. He had become frail and was in pain. Is it a tragedy for such a life to end? His reported serenity in the hours before he died would indicate otherwise. Death comes to everyone, and he deserved to move on, one step closer to his eternal reward. I think he would remind us of that.

People are reacting to this death as though he had been a family member. I never felt that way about him. I never felt personally close to him at all. I would be more choked up over the death of my pastor than I am over the death of John Paul, so maybe I'm missing something. Maybe I never got the message, whatever it is. Or was. I certainly never understood the cheering crowds gathered around him. What was it about him that drew this kind of emotional response?

I don't understand why so many people are praying so frequently for him. We pray for the dead so that their time in purgatory will be shortened--purgatory being the necessary purgation as a result of sin. So was he sinful? All of these prayers would seem to say that he was very sinful. I doubt that anyone else has ever received so many prayers as John Paul II. So he must have been a great and terrible sinner to need so many prayers, right? Well, no, that isn't what people think. What they think is that he is already in heaven. That he is St. John Paul II the Great. So why are they praying for him? What are their prayers supposed to accomplish? Perhaps those in tears see prayers as a kind of connection that transcends death? So long as we are praying for him he is still here with us? Are all of the prayers and all of the tears a way of holding on, of refusing to let go?

What all of this emotional outpouring reminds me too much of is the sort of emotion that follows the death of a cult figure--a John Lennon or an Elvis Presley or a Princess Diana kind of idol--a someone that a lot of people have turned into a god without whom they think their life cannot continue.

John Paul II was first of all a man. Worship was hardly appropriate when he was alive. Worship of him now that he is gone is not appropriate either. Will those who are so emotional over this pope embrace the next Pope in the same manner? Will the transition be that easy? Three weeks from now will they cheer over the newly elected pope as though he had become their long lost hero overnight? It takes longer than three weeks to get sufficiently over a dead pet so that a new one can be acquired. Somehow I suspect, though, that the next pope will enjoy the same cheering crowds that are sobbing crowds right now, at least in the beginning. If that turns out to be accurate, it will make the emotional response seem even more shallow than it already does.

Perhaps all the controversy in the Church over the last forty years has simply made me callous. I've learned not to expect much. I don't worship a man even if he fills St. Peter's shoes. And I don't cry over the loss of someone I've never even spoken to, no matter how great I think he was.

So like I said, I must be some sort of incomplete Catholic who is simply missing what is obvious to everyone else.


on press briefings in Rome, particularly the first and second General Congregations of the Cardinals where funeral arrangements were discussed.


A reader sent in this article about the verification of a lost tribe of Israel living in India. Arrangements are being made for their emigration to Israel.

A GROUP of 7,000 Indians who believe that they belong to a fabled “lost tribe” expect to emigrate to Israel after being recognised as descendants of the ancient Israelites.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar has acknowledged the status of the Bnei Menashe people and will send a team of rabbinical judges to a remote corner of northeast India, next to Burma, to convert them to Judaism.

The conversions will ensure that the group who claim to be “children of the tribe of Manasseh, a son of Joseph” will be able to emigrate to Israel under the Jewish Law of Return. It will allow them to circumvent an Interior Ministry ban imposed on the Bnei Menashe Indians two years ago.

Monday, April 04, 2005


An email from Robert Moynihan, Editor, Inside the Vatican magazine, has a couple of interesting points to make. First, a brief analysis of events that have transpired in 2005:

The death of John Paul II

soon after that of Sister Lucy dos Santos, the
Portuguese nun who as a young shepherd girl saw visions of Mary
at Fatima in 1917, and who died on February 13 at the age of 97,
and just two days after the death of Terri Schiavo, 41, whose own
13-day "descent to darkness" due to a court-ordered deprivation
of food and water riveted the attention of America in the last
half of March, made a "trinity" of deaths in early 2005 of great
significance to Catholics, to Christians, and to all people of
good will.

Lucy, Terri, and Karol: three deaths which seemed to bear witness
to our world.

Will these three deaths be linked in the history of the Church? Do they portend upcoming momentous changes, or is the timing merely coincidental? One change does seem to lie in the offing. Moynihan interviewed two cardinals,
Lubomyr Husar and Achille Silvestrini, and from those conversations concluded that collegiality and a need to unite the various factions is essential. He writes:

I deduce from these two conversations that, among the very many
issues of concern to Church leaders, ranging from issues of
sexual morality to Third World debt, one issue that is on the
"front burner" right now is summed up in this word "communio" or "communion." That is, how can the Church remain unified, while
allowing legitimate variation and difference. Finding the balance
point is an extremely delicate task, for too much allowance for
"difference" could fracture "communion" altogether, while too
much "uniformity" could be seen as an oppressive and stultifying
"centralism." This is by no means the only issue on the
cardinals' minds, but it is one issue, and a key one.

It is especially key because its solution could open the way for
something nearly everyone in the Church desires, but few believe
is possible: an end to the schism of 1054, the reunion of the
Orthodox Churches with Rome.

Lastly there is the question of where John Paul will be buried, Rome or Poland? Moynihan also puts forth the possibility that his body will be buried in Rome, but his heart will be buried in Poland.


No not that conclave. This one. I presume that Bridget Mary Meehan considers herself a candidate. Let's try this out...Pope Bridget I...Pope Mary I. Oh, I know... how about Pope Joan II? Yup, it was tried before. Didn't work out that time either. Ended in a rock throwing session. I'm sure Bridget Mary would prefer not to repeat the first attempt.

For some reason National Newswire is taking this foolishness seriously. Anything to capture attention, I guess. It's tough out there in newsland when the only Catholic story of consequence concerns a Papal funeral and election. There are just so many ways you can spin this story to grab the attention of the reading public, and you've gotta admit a women's conclave is different.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Justin sent in the following description of the Third Sunday:

The Third Sunday of Lent is called "The Veneration of the Cross." At the Vigil on that day, after the Great Doxology, the Cross is brought in a solemn procession to the center of the church and remains there for the entire week--with a special rite of veneration following each service. It is noteworthy that the theme of the Cross which dominates the hymnology of that Sunday is developed in terms not of suffering but of victory and joy. More than that, the theme-songs (hirmoi) of the Sunday Canon are taken from the Paschal Service--"The Day of the Resurrection"--and the Canon is a paraphrase of the Easter Canon. The meaning of all this is clear. We are in Mid-Lent. On the one hand, the physical and spiritual effort, if it serious and consistent, begins to be felt, its burden becomes more burdensome, our fatique more evident. We need help and encouragement. On the other hand, having endured this fatique, having climbed the mountain up to this point, we begin to see the end of our pilgrimage, and the rays of Easter grow in their intensity. Lent is our self-crucifixion, our experience, limited as it is, of Christ's commandment heard in the Gospel lesson of that Sunday: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34). But we can not take up our cross and follow Christ unless we have His Cross which He took up in order to save us. It is His Cross, not ours, that saves us. It is His Cross that gives not only meaning but also power to others. This is explained to us in the synaxarion of the Sunday of the Cross: -On this Sunday, the third Sunday of Lent, we celebrate the veneration of the honorable -and Life-Giving Cross, and for this reason: inasmuch as in the forty days of fasting we -in a way crucify ourselves...and become bitter and despondent and failing, the -Life-Giving Cross is presented to us for refreshment and assurance, for remembrance of -our Lord's Passion, and for comfort...We are like those following a long and cruel path -who become tired, see a beautiful tree and many leaves, sit in its shadow and rest for -a while and then, as if rejuvenated, continue their journey; likewise today, in the -time of fasting and difficult journey and effort, the Life-Giving Cross was planted in -our midst by the holy fathers to give us rest and refreshment, to make us light and -courageous for the remaining task...Or, to give another example: when a king is coming, -at first his banner and symbols appear, then he himself comes glad and rejoicing about -his victory and filling with joy those under him; likewise, our Lord Jesus Christ, who -is about to show us His victory over death, and appear to us in the glory of the -Resurrection Day, is sending to us in advance His scepter, the royal symbol--the -Life-Giving Cross--and it fills us with joy and makes us ready to meet, inasmuch as it -is possible for us, the King himself, and to render glory to His victory...All this in -the midst of Lent which is like a bitter source because of its tears, because also of -its efforts and despondency...but Christ comforts us who are as it were in a desert -until He shall lead us up to the spiritual Jerusalem by His Resurrection...for the -Cross is called the Tree of Life, it is the tree that was planted in Paradise, and for -this reason our fathers have planted it in the midst of Holy Lent, remembering both -Adam's bliss and how he was deprived of it, remembering also that partaking of this -Tree we no longer die but are kept alive...

[Taken from, "Great Lent" by the late Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, 1974. Available at: 800-204-book.]


and a reader wanted me to be sure to see the picture of it.

(Just pretend it's Friday. :) )

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