Archive for the 'Modernist thought' Category

Our Moral Compass

Each of us has the power to make decisions, and the cumulative effect of those choices results in the goodness or badness of our society. Every action we take has an impact not just on us but on the world. All we need to do is look around us, pick up a daily paper, or watch the evening news to verify that there is much that is not right. A great deal of what is wrong is the result of the attitude and moral climate of our times. There are some who insist that this age has lost its ‘moral compass’.

As soon as we begin to speak of morality, there are those who object on the grounds that each person’s opinion is his or her own and equal to that of anyone else. For some, there can be no objective and commonly agreed-upon moral norm. For such persons, morality is an illusion. How many times have we heard that morality is a completely personal and subjective choice? This position is probably the most widespread and pernicious challenge to morality that our society has ever faced. The issue today in much of our public discourse – and certainly on talk shows – is: ‘Do values have any value?’

As Catholics, we recognize that there is more to life and human action than fleeting personal preference. Human existence is not a meaningless show of smoke and mirrors. Each one of us knows deep down at the very core of our being that there is such a thing as right and wrong – that, while the wrong choice may be alluring at the moment, it is a choice with lasting consequences. While individually we may not know the answer to every moral question, we are aware that there are answers – answers that oblige all of us.

There is right and wrong, human freedom, and the choice that each of us makes. At the core of human freedom is knowing and doing what we ‘ought’ to do rather than what we ‘can’ do. It is the voice of conscience that keeps reminding us what we ought to do even though there are enticing reasons to do otherwise.

Catholic morality is not only for Catholics. It is for everyone, because all are called to follow God’s law manifest in the natural moral order, revealed in the Ten Commandments, and made complete in Christ. Catholic morality is the authentic, central, and integral form of morality. It is the fullness of teaching on the human condition before God. Apart from faith in Christ, the great questions about the reality of feedom, the rationality of conscience, and the value of pursuing human good unselfishly cannot be fully answered. It is for this reason that we look to Jesus and listen to his Church.

Where do we go to know right from wrong in all of the myriad forms that moral issues appear today? Jesus has not left us orphans. The pledge of the Holy Spirit in the fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel is verified today as it has been for twenty centuries in the teaching office of the Church. In the many issues before us today, when decisions are presented with a range of good attached to each of the multiple choices, we need to listen to the sure and Spirit-led voice of the teaching office. It guides us in issues as complex and emotional as artificial insemination, physician assisted suicide, the massacre of the powerless, and the range of social justice, bioethical, and medical-moral dilemmas that manifest the complexity of the human condition.

It is true that morality is rooted in the natural moral order, because that order follows from God’s creation. But it is equally true that God chose to reveal the moral order in the old covenant, through the Decalogue, and in the new covenant through Christ. When the Church calls the faithful to specific moral teaching, it does so with the full weight and authority of Christ, who has empowered his Church to speak for him. At the same time, the Church presents cogent and compelling reasons for her teaching based on an appeal to human nature and the natural moral order that we all share.

Life is complex. Moral decisions are difficult. But we need not fear, because we have a sure moral guide. Christ reveals to us the way. He sends the Holy Spirit to guide us and he enlightens his Church in a way that we can with confidence and trust follow its teaching in matters of faith and morals.


Unity of the Faith

There are many reasons which show the necessity for an authoritative tribunal if the words of the Apostle ‘One Lord, one faith’ (Eph 4:5) are to be realized in every age and in the uttermost parts of the world.

Human nature is and always will be the same. Man is inclined to be independent in his views and tries to force his ideas on others, until he is shown to be evidently wrong. Nor does he sometimes stop even then. He persists in his error and resists the known truth, thus sinning against the Holy Spirit.

There will always be scandals in the Church, but Christ said ‘Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come, but nevertheless, woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh’ (Matt 18:7). God, however, permits this evil, that the faith of the elect may be strengthened. ‘Power is made perfect in infirmity’ (2 Cor 12:9).

This is especially true of our own times. All manner of literature floods the world. There are too many people who consider themselves the judges of everyone and of everything. Teachers of all kinds raise their chair of pestilence in every corner of our cities and villages. Perhaps the grand old Church is still there, or it has just made its appearance. Its doors are open. But most people pass by and go to hear those who suit their passions and inclinations. New fads are the order of the day. Wind and pride are sown in their hearts. Very little is left of the old and eternal truths, which Christ and the Apostles proclaimed to the world. ‘For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine – but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables’ (2 Tim 4:3).

Thus is Christianity divided and subdivided. The books of Revelation are made the anvil of centuries, on which every Christian is allowed to pound at his own pleasure. Should not such a condition of things open the eyes of all Christians and make them realize the necessity of a living tribunal, to which Christ has committed the sacred right and duty of keeping intact, at any cost, the Deposit of Faith? ‘Preach the word, be instant, in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke, in all patience and doctrine’ (2 Tim 4:2).

But the world does not want Christ. Nations and societies are governed by their own laws. Living judges are appointed to interpret a dead-letter code of laws or by-laws, and their decisions are final and binding. The same treatment is not accorded the Church by those same children of the world. Are not perhaps the Scriptures and the laws made by man equally a dead letter in themselves? The Scriptures are indeed the Word of God but at the same time, they need living interpreters. If the laws of man, made by man and for man, need living and authoritative inter-preters for their enforce-ment, how much more does the Word of God need interpreters to explain it without error and enforce it with authority?

If the Scriptures are clear to understand, why did Martin Luther and his imitators make new catechisms of Christian doctrine? Why are libraries filled with innumerable books of interpretations, explanations and commentaries? Above all, why are there any churches where the Scriptures are explained, if the Scriptures are sufficient? And if there should be a church, why so many churches, of so many denominations, in every city and in every town?

If there is a clear statement in the Scriptures which all Christians should endeavor to put into execution, it is certainly the desire which Christ expressed in His prayer to the Eternal Father on the eve of His Passion and Death, ‘That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee – that they also may be one in us’ (John 17:21).

What else do such words mean than that all Christ’s followers should first of all have the same faith? – ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph 4:5).

Unfortunately, there are too many controversies which agitate and divide Christianity. How are they to be settled? If there must be a judge, can it be the Scriptures? Can the Scriptures speak and pronounce the sentence in such unmistakable terms that both litigants know who is right and who is wrong? Well did the old Roman wisdom proclaim more than 2000 years ago: ‘No one is judge in his own case’. Hence, it was not to the Scriptures, but to Peter and his successors that Christ said ‘confirm thy brethren’ (Like 22:32). Tertullian declared that ‘Religious controversies should not and cannot be settled only by the Scriptures because, not only does the Apostle forbid such disputes among Christians, but also because they bear no fruit. Avoid foolish questions (Titus 3:9) and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law. For they are unprofitable and vain. What good will it do if what you will defend shall be denied – or on the contrary, what you will deny shall be defended? You will certainly lose nothing but your voice in the contention – you will gain nothing but bile from the blasphemy ‘ (Tertull. Prescript, XV). And he comes to the following unanswerable conclusion: ‘We must not have recourse to, nor constitute a fight on the Scriptures, in which victory is uncertain or none at all but the order of things required to be first proposed, and what is now only to be disputed: To whom belongs the Faith itself, whose are the Scriptures? By whom, and through whom, and when, and to whom was the authority to teach delivered, by which men are made Christians? For where the true Christian discipline and doctrine are shown to be, there will also be the truth of the Scriptures and of their interpretation and of all Christian Tradition’ (Tertull. C. XIX).

A living, infallible tribunal is therefore essential and necessary to keep intact, not only the Deposit of Faith and to propose it without error, but also to keep everywhere and at all times the Unity of the Faith, which is so essential in the Religion of Christ.

Più rozzi e ignoranti?

Più ascolto la TV e più leggo i giornali, più sono convinta che insieme a valori e contenuti mancano maestri. Per educare, infatti, ci vogliono dei maestri. E maestri perché padri, altro che imbonitori di popolo, opinionisti, autori o intrattenitori del pomeriggio o della sera e opinion maker che dir si voglia.

Heinrich Hirt - I racconti della nonna

Nel corso degli ultimi due millenni la gran parte del popolo non era educata nel senso moderno del termine. Noi che siamo figli non solo della cultura cristiana ma anche di quella nata dalle grandi rivoluzioni ‘democratiche’ e dell’Illuminismo, consideriamo implici-to che una delle strade necessarie da percorrere per l’educazione del popolo sia la scuola obbligatoria per tutti, e questo è giusto e sacrosanto.

Consideriamo però che almeno il 90% delle persone vissute in Europa dall’Alto Medioevo fino al secolo scorso era analfabeta, e quando la domenica mattina andava a messa ad assistere alle funzioni religiose, ascoltava una lingua latina che non comprendeva, non aveva grandi conoscenze di quanto succedeva a qualche miglio di distanza nel borgo più vicino e tanto meno gli erano note le dotte speculazioni di teologi o scienziati. Eppure … questi piccoli agglomerati umani popolati di uomini incomparabilmente più rozzi e ignoranti di noi, seppero reggere e rispondere alle sfide dei loro tempi, trasmettendo intatti e difendendo i valori cristiani che hanno formato intere generazioni, per secoli. La Chiesa era maestra di vita, con i suoi padri e maestri, con i monasteri e le cattedrali, con l’esempio e la parola di vita tramandata.

Priva di padri e di maestri, la nostra epoca invece si sfilaccia e si decompone nell’individualismo più egoistico e sfrenato, nonostante tutte le sue mille occasioni di incontro e di riti collettivi. Lo psichico emozionale ha preso il sopravvento sul ragionevole.

Heinrich Hirt - Piccole sarte

Nuovi simboli collettivi, per lo più vuoti e senza senso si sono sostituiti alla potenza simbolica di riti e di tradizioni popolari che davano ai singoli il gusto dell’appartenenza e la forza di un’unità popolare vera. Era cultura di vita. Oggi si preferisce il centro commerciale alle chiese oppure lo stadio alla comunità. L’uso della TV sostituisce il rosario in famiglia e gli oratori sono soppiantati dalle discoteche, gli amici dalle chat.

Musica, arte e cultura in genere subiscono, oggi, questo degrado in modo evidente. Non è un caso poi che il degrado si trasferisca addirittura alla stessa forma pratica del vivere le nostre città: l’urbanistica e la viabilità. Impressionante. Non capisco questa voglia di distruggere e rifare interi quartieri. La città nasce edificio dopo edificio. Ma questa mania distruttiva del passato, in nome di un modernismo che dovrebbe essere a tutti i costi migliore, pervade con ancor peggior vigore molte altre discipline dell’agire umano. Mancano la conoscenza, il rispetto e l’amore per la tradizione, per la storia dei padri, per le radici della nostra cultura, per il popolo da cui proveniamo e per i valori che ci ha saputo trasmettere. Il gusto per il bello e la sua conoscenza. I contadini a contatto con la madre terra ne erano a conoscenza più di noi che viviamo con internet. I nostri nonni e bisnonni – che pregavano in Latino – pregavano con il cuore e con l’anima  e il loro credo era sicuramente più forte di quello di tutti noi messi insieme.

Questa battaglia ‘culturale’ non la si vince soltanto con dei no o con un semplice atto di denuncia. La battaglia dell’educazione dei nostri giovani si vince andando all’attacco e proponendo qualcosa di meglio che, anzitutto, sia vissuto e documentato da noi stessi. La battaglia dell’educazione si vince offrendo una compagnia che propone qualcosa di bello, di più giusto, di vero e, soprattutto, di più affascinante. Solo questo permette di affrontare e vincere la fatica dell’impegno con la vita. Questa battaglia si vince incitando i nostri figli a seguire modelli, letture, esempi, musiche, compagnie e contenuti che siano adeguati alla dignità del loro cuore e della loro mente, a partecipare negli oratori delle chiese tradizionali e ai campi estivi da queste organizzati che per fortuna sono in crescita. E’ solo così, imparando e insegnando il fascino di una bellezza nuova e sempre antica, che potremo, allora, essere una generazione che non abdica al proprio futuro.

Alla ripresa seria di questo compito di educazione alla verità e alla sua bellezza applicata seguiranno, ne sono certa, un nuovo umanesimo e un nuovo rinascimento.

A Catholic England?

The Roman Catholic Church is a constant source of controversy, as the ongoing outrage over clerical sexual abuse shows. But the Church also inspires great devotion and loyalty. The Spectator recently hosted a very interesting debate under the title ‘England should be a Catholic Country again’ (The Spectator, 3 April 2010). I quote part of the passionate argument for the motion by Piers Paul Read:

‘A weak priest inspires contempt’, wrote Francois Renee de Chateaubriand in the early 19th century, ‘a vicious one excites abhorrence – but a good priest, meek, pious, without superstition, charitable, tolerant, is entitled to our love and respect’. As it was then, so it is now. There have been degenerate popes, corrupt bishops and, recently, paedophile priests. The abuse of children by priests excites a particular abhorrence, and the cover-up of these crimes by some bishops is as bad as anything that has occurred in the past.

However, the wickedness of a few priests should not obscure the selfless and often heroic ministry of the overwhelming majority who work tirelessly and with little recognition at the core business of the Catholic Church, the saving of souls, through the sacraments of baptism, confession and above all the Eucharist which lies at the heart of Catholic belief and worship. There are also the Church’s corporal works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless. And when it comes to these tangible expressions of that love of God and one’s neighbor, the Catholic Church, both now and in the past, has a record second to none.

The overwhelming majority left alone in their tireless work for our souls ...

The Church’s teaching on sexual ethics is, I suspect, a big stumbling block in today’s permissive society. Jesus makes it crystal clear to his disciples, by referring them to the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, that the heterosexual married couple is the aboriginal paradigm of humanity. ‘Have you not read’, he says to them, ‘that the creator from the beginning made them male and female, and that he said: This is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body? They are no longer two, therefore, but one body’. How does this square up with today’s society? Clearly, not at all. We now have an institutionalization of sexual practices inimical to Catholic teaching – no fault divorce, gay adoption, same sex civil partnerships, etc., described by Pope Benedict as ‘pseudo forms of marriage that distort the Creator’s design and undermine the truth of our human nature’. The Catholic Church accepts that there is nothing sinful in being attracted to members of the same sex – it is involuntary. But a conflict arises when it comes to thoughts, words and deeds. Yet our politicians want to prevent Catholics from teaching an ethic on homosexuality which has existed since the beginning of history and is shared by all of the world’s religions. Nick Clegg has said that faith schools should be obliged by law to teach that there is nothing wrong with gay sex. Harriet Harman says that Catholic schools should be forced to employ teachers who reject Catholic teaching. David Cameron claims that ‘the Lord Jesus’ would favour the gay rights agenda. Elton John tells us that Jesus was in fact gay. How lucky we are to have so many Biblical scholars among our politicians and entertainers!

And there is birth control. People ridicule the Church’s teaching that every sexual act must be open to the transmission of life. At one time the Church of England shared that view but at the Lambeth Conference in 1930 it changed its mind. There are many church-going Catholics who refuse to accept it. Others assent to the teaching but find it difficult, if not impossible, to obey. But the dissociation of sex from procreation in the mindset of our culture has ramifications that extend far beyond the bedroom. It makes sex and end in itself. It raises expectations of sexual love that are rarely fulfilled. Partnerships are formed and then break up. There are fewer and fewer marriages and half of those that there are end in divorce. Recently the Conservative party has woken up to the damage done to England’s social fabric by the increasing number of broken homes. But think of what lies behind the cold statistics. Thing of the mute suffering of children when their parents part. There is much cant about protecting the rights of children but, as Pope John Paul II said, the right of a child to be brought up under one roof by its natural parents should be seen as one of the most fundamental of all human rights. And there is no doubt that it would be if children had the vote.


You may think that the link between people’s sex lives and the suffering of children is tenuous. Let me quote Matthew Parris, who so often puts things so well. ‘No man is an island’, he wrote. ‘There are ultimately no private acts. Everything we think, everything we say and do, however privately, shapes and influences us, our families and friends, and so touches the world outside. It is just fatuous to pretend that if a great many men are unashamedly making love to other men, however privately, that is without impact on the whole of society …’. What Matthew says about homosexuals applies equally to heterosexuals who embark on relationships where the love is tentative, probationary, conditional, not the wholehearted and fruitful giving of one’s entire person to the other which the Church teaches, and which we know in our hearts is the way love is meant to be.

The Catholic Church is not the preserve of the virtuous. A Catholic England would not be like Afghanistan under the Taleban. The Church is and has always been a refuge for sinners. We are a community of Prodigal Sons and Daughters. God loves the good and the bad alike. He understands human weakness. He forgives the sins of the repentant, and it is that confidence in God’s love, understanding and forgiveness, and the anticipation of an eternal destiny with God in heaven, that makes his yoke easy and his burden light.

There is no joy in the barren, selfish hedonistic individualism that defines our culture in the developed world today. It would greatly add to the sum of human happiness here in England if our country was Catholic once again.


God wishes us to seek the happiness He can give if we will let Him. A mother who has a wayward daughter desires nothing more than to penetrate into her mind to inspire her will – her greatest sorrow is her inability to do this. The happiness of both is conditioned upon the daughter’s allowing the mother’s love to operate, for no parent can ever guide a child who wars against the parent’s will. Neither can God guide us if we allow the animal in us to direct our will, demanding the satisfaction of each of its rebellious claims. As the whole order of the universe rests on the surrender of the chemicals to the plants, of the plants to the animals, of the animals to man, so the peace of man comes only in the surrender of self to God. Psychologists teaching that our animal needs are more important than the ideals of the superego, that a discipline of sex ends in a tension and neurosis that can be released only by carnal abandonment are all individuals who have increased the world’s selfishness, egotism, and cruelty.

The principal cause of all unhappiness is unregulated desire – wanting more than is needed or wanting what is harmful to the spirit. The modern world is geared to increase our desires and our wants by its advertising, but it can never satisfy them. Our desires are infinite – the supply of any good on earth is finite. Hence our unhappiness and anxieties, our disappointments and our sadness. The only exit from this state is by control of the senses through mortification. This is what Our Lord meant when He said ‘And if your hand, or your foot scandalize you, cut it off, and cast it from you. And if your eye scandalizes you, pluck it out, and cast it from you’ (Matt 18:8). Because, in our modern civilization, the biological is divorced from the spiritual, because freedom is isolated from dependence on God like a pendulum cut off from a clock, because liberty is interpreted only as freedom from something and not as freedom for something, it is especially necessary to revive the Christian practice of self-discipline.

Christian self-discipline is really self-expression – expression of all that is highest and best in self – the farmer plows under the weeds for the complete expression of the corn’s desire to grow. Self-control, through mortification or asceticism, is not the rejection of our instincts, passions, and emotions, nor is it thrusting these God-given impulses into unconsciousness, as the materialists accuse the Christians of doing. Our passions, instincts, and emotions are good,  not evil – self-control means only curbing their inordinate excesses. To take a little wine for the sake of one’s stomach, as St. Paul told Timothy, is to obey an instinct – but to take so much of it as to forget that one has either a head or a stomach is to abuse wine as a creature of God.

Once the instincts and passions are subject to the will, they can be controlled and guided. The Church does not repress passions when it restrains their unlawful expression. It does not deny emotions, any more than it denies hunger – the Church only asks that, when a person sits at table, he shall not eat like a pig. Our Lord did not repress the intense emotional zeal of Paul – He merely redirected it from hate to love. ‘Our Lord did not repress the biological vitalities of a Magdalene – He merely turned her passion from love of vice to love of virtue. Such a conversion of energies explains why the greatest sinners – like Augustine – sometimes make the greatest saints – it is not because they have been sinners that they love God with their special intensity, but because they have strong urges, violent passions, flowing emotions which, turned to holy purposes, now do as much good as they once did harm‘ (Fulton J. Sheen).

Strong passions are the precious raw material of sanctity. Individuals who have carried their sinning to extremes should not despair or say ‘I am too great a sinner to change’, or ‘God would not want me’. God will take anyone who is willing to love, not with an occasional gesture, but with a ‘passionless passion’, a ‘wild tranquility’. A sinner, unrepentant, cannot love God, any more than someone on dry land can swim – but as soon as a person takes his errant energies to God and asks for their redirection, he will become happy, as he was never happy before. It is not the wrong things one has already done that keep one from God – it is present persistence in that wrong.

Mortification is good, but only when it is done out of love of God. Mortifications of the right sort perfect our human nature – the gardener cuts the green shoots from the root of the bush, not to kill the rose, but to make it bloom more beautifully. As the perfection of the rose and not the destruction of the bush is the purpose of pruning, so union with God is the purpose of self-discipline. Good deeds that are done for human ends, such as to perpetuate one’s name, or enjoy praise and popularity, receive nothing but a human reward – only deeds of mortification, done out of Divine Love, perfect the soul. But they must be done from the right motive, and they must sacrifice the very things to which we wish to cling.

Ban the impact of Catholicism?

1Secularists have always taken delight in suppressing as many visible traces of religious expression as possible. Proof is the recent order by the European Court of Human Rights to ban crucifixes from the walls of Italy’s classrooms. According to the court, the practice of hanging crucifixes on classrooms walls violates the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit. In addition, the practice contravenes children’s right to freedom of religion.

But traces of the Catholic Church’s presence in our culture are so deeply embedded that if every Catholic aspect were to be removed from Western civilization (1) doing so would take 500 years or more, and (2) there would be nothing left! There are myriad ways in which the Catholic faith has made its way into the daily lives of everyone, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. I will leave out the obvious, like art and architecture, holidays and festivities, food and drink, manners and dining etiquette, etc., and just mention a few of the countless lesser ways in which  Catholicism – unbeknownst to just about everyone today – has influenced so many familiar things.

2For example, why do we refer to levels of a building as ‘stories’? In Romanesque and Gothic archi-tecture (both of which developed in a Catholic milieu) it was not uncommon for allegorical reliefs and sculptures to adorn the facades of churches or municipal buildings. Each of them told a story. Since by extension several strata of allegorical represen-tations told several stories, it became custom to indicate the height of a building by how many stories it had.

Also, it’s just amazing how deeply the Catholic influence has penetrated into the various nooks and crannies of Western legal practice. Law students, for example, often ‘clerk’ for a judge in the years following their graduation from law school. Law clerks and court clerks populate the legal system. It turns out, to many a secularists’ dismay, that the use of ‘clerk’ to designate such functions can be traced back centuries, to a time when practically everyone associated with the law had taken at least minor orders. Such clerics, being educated and literate, were especially suited to such work. The minor clergy eventually grew so closely associated with administrative and other bureaucratic duties that it became common to call these ‘clerical’ tasks and the people who carried them out ‘clerks’.

3How about the origins of sign language? It was the French priest and abbot Charles-Michel d’Epeè who made a most profound contribution in developing the natural sign language of the deaf into a systematic and conven-tional language to be used as a medium of instruction.

Various forms of games and recreation are also directly related to Catholicism. The Schutzenfeste – the shooting festivals that constitute one of Switzerland’s most popular sports – what were they originally? They were training exercises for marksmen whose job it was to protect the Blessed Sacrament in Corpus Christi processions against attack by violent Protestants. Chess, too, has its Catholic origin. It was embraced and enjoyed by a great many clergy and laity, including even St. Teresa of Avila, who possessed extensive knowledge of the game. The piñata is likewise of Catholic origin. What we currently associate as meaningless birthday-party fun from Mexico began as good old-fashioned Italian sin-bashing during the holy season of Lent. The seven-coned piñata was said to represent the Seven Deadly Sins, all of which appear attractive and beguiling. 4Since sin is difficult to overcome, the piñata danced on a rope in order to elude being hit, and since sin is difficult to recognize for what it is, the piñata hitter would be blind-folded. Evil, however, can be defeated by good, and so the hitter had several aids at his disposal. The first was Virtue, symbolized by his stick or bat. The hitter also had the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Faith helped him trust the directions shouted out by the crowd, Hope kept him persevering and directed his actions heavenward, while Charity materialized once he broke the piñata and the treats, representing divine gifts and blessings, cascaded out.

The word ‘dumbbell’ comes from a special contraption used to train people to ring the large and difficult bells that adorned churches. Using the real bells for training purposes was impractical since they would have disturbed everyone in the area. Silent ‘dumbbells’ were therefore employed instead. 6The healthy physique that came from practicing on these dumbbells proved so popular that even men who were not bell-ringers began to use them. Eventually the term was applied to exercise weights.

On and on: from ‘knock on wood’ to ‘something blue’ for the bride-to-be, from ‘tying the knot’ to our musical notation, traces of the Catholic faith, and of God himself, are evident everywhere in our world – even in places where Catholics themselves may never have thought to look. We should expect nothing less, of course, from a religion founded upon the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, for that extraordinary event was the ultimate meeting of the divine and the earthly.


There is a widespread attitude today which maintains that art, in all its forms, occupies a privileged position with respect to conventional morality – that it is separate from and superior to that morality, and not subject to its standards. This attitude is completely erroneous.

Censored music CDThe philosopher Jacques Maritain provides us with a plain and pointed response to this shallow and impoverished way of looking at things simply by calling attention to the common sense truth that the artist is a man before he is an artist. His point is that the artist is first and foremost a rational agent, a human being, and as such he is subject to exactly the same moral obligations as is the rest of humanity. His status as an artist gives him no special moral privileges, and least of all does it place him entirely outside the realm of conventional morality.

There are two immediate implications of this, the first having to do with the artist’s personal life, the second having to do with his professional life as an artist. The artist does not have leave to become a liar, a depraved person, or a thief, no more than does any other man. And as far as his professional life is concerned, the artist has to meet the same basic obligation as does every other human fabricator – that is, he must make sure that the products of his hands reflect the truths of the moral order. Just as no artist has a license to act immorally in his personal life, so too he has no license to produce immoral works of art.

Beautiful films - Lord of the ringsThe responsibility of the artist in this regard is especially grave, for in many cases he is someone who has been gifted by God with unusual talents, and because of this fact he is able to have a particularly powerful in-fluence on other people. And the greater the talents, the greater the influence, for good or ill. And anyone who thinks he is immune to the deleterious effects of immoral art is only kidding himself or herself.

Beautiful films - The Sound of MusicAn artist, if he uses his talents as they were intended to be used, can be a formidable force for good in any society, and indeed, if he is a truly outstanding artist, his influence can extend across many societies and down many centuries. One thinks of the positive impact of poets such as Dante and Shakespeare, of musicians such as Haydn and Mozart. On the negative side, if an artist abuses his God-given talents, he can be the cause of deep and enduring evil. What if an artist should choose not to live up to his moral responsibilities as an artist? What if he adopts the attitude described above and claims that art is not bound by the rules of moral law? He decides to use his art as a means of actively undermining the principles of conventional morality. Should the society in which such an artist lives and practices his art consider itself helpless in the face of irresponsibility of this kind, an irresponsibility that often parades itself as ‘artistic integrity’?

Censored book coverNot at all! Every society has not only the right, but the solemn duty, to protect itself against influences which, if left unchecked, could conceivably lead to the very dissolution of that society. And few things can prove to be more harmful to the health and well-being of any society than blatantly immoral art.

‘But, my goodness’, you might ask me, ‘you certainly are not talking about censorship, are you’?

I certainly am. We have been so bamboozled by carelessly liberal ways of thinking that we have to come to believe that censorship is the most heinous thing on the face of the earth. This is nonsense. As has been recognized by all sound thinkers since at least the time of Plato, censorship is a perfectly legitimate, and necessary, way by which any society seeks to protect and preserve the moral well-being of its citizens.

No smoking!We are able, with much zeal, to unconditionally outlaw smoking in public places (which is a very strong form of the censorship of behavior), and yet see fit to allow, in the name of ‘freedom of speech’, the rampant proliferation of the most pernicious and soul-polluting kind of pornography.

Talk about not having one’s priorities straight!

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My Patron Saint

Archangel Gabriel

God's Messenger

Another beautiful day! Praise the Lord.

August 2019
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The most beautiful thing this side of heaven!


e-campagna: Io sto con il Papa


Dopo due millenni di studi, di ricerche e di esplorazioni scientifiche, la genesi del canto gregoriano resta un mistero irrisolto



The story of our salvation!

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INDIFFERENTISM is a mortal sin; a condemned heresy. That's the Catholic view of the matter. INDIFFERENTISM paves the way to MORAL RELATIVISM. I have been accused of the opposite of ‘Indifferentism’, which is defined as ‘Rigorism’, and the charge is not without some merit. I believe in a rigorous following of Church doctrine and in strict accuracy in proper Catholic catechesis, and I openly attack watered-down Catholic doctrine and catechesis whenever and wherever I encounter it. Many friends scold me saying that for me it’s either my way or the highway. But here’s the thing … it’s not my way; I didn’t make up all (or any of) the rules of Catholicism. I’ve been told “you’re too rigid in your doctrine,” as if it were my doctrine. When it comes to Catholic catechesis, there is only one Church teaching, and it is represented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I’m prepared to defend any item in it, against any opponent. I draw the line at ‘indifferentism’ and ‘moral relativism’. All belief systems are not the same. The ones who push it the most are the ones who seek to replace it with something less. Again, indifferentism paves the way to moral decay. Don’t let it seep into your thinking. May you please God, and may you live forever.

“Oremus pro beatissimo Papa nostro Benedicto XVI: Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.”

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The Catholic Church doesn’t need progressives, Nor does it need Reactionary Conservatives - It badly needs Catholic Traditionalists that practice faith, hope and charity. So don’t be shy! Come forward.

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward - in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed and will not prevail against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing - the historic Catholic Church - was founded upon a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”
(G.K. Chesterton)

Anno Sacerdotale

Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father on June 19, 2010.

Quest'anno sia anche un'occasione per un periodo di intenso approfondimento dell'identità sacerdotale, della teologia del sacerdozio cattolico e del senso straordinario della vocazione e della missione dei sacerdoti nella Chiesa e nella società.

Let your light so shine before men that, seeing your good works, they may glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

In Domino laudabitur anima mea.

"That sense of the sacred dogmas is to be faithfully kept which Holy Mother Church has once declared, and is not to be departed from under the specious pretext of a more profound understanding."- Pope Leo XIII, Testem Benevolentiae

Nessuno di noi entrerà in Paradiso senza portare con sé un fratello o una sorella. Ciascuno di noi deve uscire dalla folla e reggersi sulle proprie gambe, fiero di essere un Cattolico e capace di testimoniare la sua Fede.
Ci stiamo comportando come se la Fede Cattolica fosse un affare privato. Questo non è affatto vero. Penso che potremo andare molto, molto lontano, se riusciremo a convincere tutti i Cattolici a farsi carico della salvezza del mondo intero.
Il mondo ha bisogno di essere salvato e deve essere ciascuno di noi a farlo.

Cantate …

Cantate Domino canticum novum. Cantate Domino omnis terra. Cantate Domino et benedicite nomini Ejus. Annuntiate de die in diem salutare Ejus.

Causa nostrae laetitiae

“We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe”.
(John Henry Newman)

Pueris manus imponit

Iesus vero ait eis - Sinite parvulos, et nolite eos prohibere ad me venire - talium est enim regnum caelorum.

“There is another essential aspect of Christianity: the interior, the silent, the contemplative, in which hidden wisdom is more important than practical organizational science, and in which love replaces the will to get visible results”.
(Thomas Merton)

Lo Spirito Santo

Uno dei Suoi nomi è "Consolatore"!


Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession.

“Almeno sei volte durante gli ultimi anni mi sono trovato nella situazione di convertirmi senza esitazione al cattolicesimo, se non mi avesse trattenuto dal compiere il gesto azzardato l'averlo già fatto”.
(G.K. Chesterton)

"Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me; I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give me only your love and your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more."

(St. Ignatius of Loyola - Spiritual Exercises, #234)

"Mia madre è stata veramente una martire; non a tutti Gesù concede di percorrere una strada così facile, per arrivare ai suoi grandi doni, come ha concesso a mio fratello e a me, dandoci una madre che si uccise con la fatica e le preoccupazioni per assicurarsi che noi crescessimo nella fede".
J.R.R. Tolkien scrisse queste parole nove anni dopo la morte di sua madre.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

“Beati sarete voi quando vi oltraggeranno e perseguiteranno, e falsamente diranno di voi ogni male per cagion mia. Rallegratevi ed esultate perché grande è la vostra ricompensa nei cieli”.