Thursday, June 29, 2017


[first published June 29, 2014]

by Dr. David Pence

Every Sunday at Mass, Catholics stand to profess in the Creed that we believe in "the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." What does it mean to say the Church is Apostolic, and why is the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul one of the ten holy days of obligation in the Catholic Church? The feast day reminds us that the Church wants us to reflect on these men and their office as apostles, in the same way we reflect on Mary’s Immaculate Conception or Christ’s Ascension into heaven. These are central truths that organize the way we understand reality and live our common life as a Church.

Saint Paul
Both Peter and Paul had their names changed in their encounter with Christ.  Saul became Paul and Simon was re-named Peter.  Christ the new Adam re-organized humanity, not as the blood sons of Adam and Eve, but now as a sacral brotherhood that would allow entry into the life of the Trinity. “Those whom He foreknew, he predestined to share the image of His Son, that the Son might be the firstborn of many brothers.” David drew Jonathan (the blood son of Saul) away from his own kinship claims to succession, into the newly anointed Davidic Kingdom.  So Christ configured the first twelve apostles -- all loyal sons of Israel -- into the new priesthood that would be the twelve foundation stones of the Church. Calling Paul an apostle a decade later showed that some vital aspect of the apostolic duties and office of the original Twelve would live on in other elected men through the ages. The joining of Paul to the apostolic office and his mission to the Gentiles gives evidence that the Church built on a highly localized brotherhood of Galileans was to spread all over the earth, and yet still be fully manifested in such crucial Catholic local forms as the parish Mass and the diocesan Bishop and his presbytery.

The fraternal relationship of Christ to his chosen men forms the living sinew of the new Temple, in which the presence of God will be carried to the ends of the earth. This is the sacramental order that the Church establishes as the central organism to reorder humanity under the Father. Holy Orders is the third of the sacraments which imprint an indelible mark on the soul; and, like Confirmation, it shows again how indispensable is the communion of the bishops to the Church’s sacramental order. Peter and the apostles live on in the pope and the bishops, and the bishop and his diocesan priests. These are the patriarchal fraternities that mirror the Trinity, and provide the Catholic framework for the baptizing of nations, and the public ordering of human beings necessary to prepare for the Second Coming.

To this priestly apostolic order are given particular powers to forgive sins, cast out demons, and definitively proclaim the message that God dwells among us and invites us to dwell in Him.  This priestly authority to beseech the Father -- to send the Spirit to bring us back in the presence of the Son’s sacrifice -- is the Mass. The priests have been given the keys to a mysterious "time/space machine" which binds dispersed humanity into the one Body of Christ.

"Crucifixion of St.Peter" - Rubens
It was Peter’s proclamation, not that Christ was the Messiah (a big deal in itself) but that he was the Son of the living God, that evoked from Christ His ordaining of the Petrine office. Christ did not award Peter’s faith. In fact, he told him clearly that Peter was not talking on his own. The Holy Spirit allowed Peter to profess the divinity of Christ, and upon that central theological truth was the Church built. The real rock is not so much Peter, but the accurate testimony of Peter that Jesus is God-become-man.  Christ is the cornerstone, and the apostles are the twelve foundation blocks. The keys are given to Peter to unlock mysteries in teaching, and unlock jail cells in releasing men from their sins. It is no mistake that the second reading of the feast day is an angelically engineered jailbreak for Peter -- recalling an earlier prison tomb that was evacuated so that hell might be harrowed. The priestly powers  are conferred, not on every man who chooses Christ, but on certain men whom Christ chooses.  Peter was not Superman dressed like a fisherman who burst out of prison to work miracles.  He was Peter who was led out of prison by an angel, and called out of his fishing boat by Our Lord. And that Peter was given the authority to work the miracles of healing the sick and, more importantly, forgiving men their sins.

Christ asked, “Who do men say the Son of Man is?”  Whenever Christ called himself the Son of Man, he was affirming his human identity. In Hebrew, he would have called himself the Son of Adam.  Peter, by power of the Holy Spirit, answers Christ’s directed question to the apostles about his identity: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That was the instance the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter, speaking for the whole church with an infallible statement. We share that infallible authority every time we also comply with the Spirit, and read Scripture or profess the Creed together at Mass. It is all part of being an apostolic church with real authority given by Christ through the Spirit.

In these recent weeks of the Church liturgical year, we meditated on the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Trinitarian nature of God on Trinity Sunday, and the presence of Christ in the Eucharist on Corpus Christi. Today let us give thanks and praise for the Apostolic priesthood that makes the bridge between those spiritual realities and our lives in the practice of our sacramental life.  


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 24

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

                                                               THE WEEKLY BRIEF

In Korea, we should remember the end game: to reunite an ancient people. The Koreans suffered terribly in the last century. They are still divided as were Germany, Vietnam, and mainland China through the Cold War. We should not forget that both North Korea (25 million) and South Korea (50 million) believe reunited Korea surrounded by superpowers who have colonized them in the past have a "right" to a nuclear weapon to defend themselves. The US lives very far away to be too dogmatic about that argument. We should also remember that our ships and military bases, not California, are the targets most at risk if there are hostilities. All Asian countries think of the last 200 years as a time in which their different cultures were occupied by white foreigners. If North Korea bombed foreign troops or US warships, that would be a popular move to more than the Chinese and Vietnamese. There are South Koreans and Japanese who do not consider American bases in their homelands as a force for peace. In Mr. Trump's early campaign, he was asking these very questions. They may be put to President Trump again in a more consequential and dangerous manner. Does the presence of our troops and our encircling navy help bring the Asian countries to peace?

This week the US State Department called into question the allegations from Saudi Arabia against Qatar.  This shows Washington may not rubber-stamp this incredibly aggressive move by the new Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MbS) against his smaller Sunni neighbor.  He is now demanding that Qatar close their news service al Jazeera, that they cut all ties with Iran, and that they  tell their ally Turkey to withdraw military troops. These are untenable requests. The 31-year-old bin Salman is the architect of the war against the Shiites of Yemen (he has not been aggressive against the Sunni al Qaeda radicals in Yemen who have grown stronger because of the war against the Houthis). Could he engineer an incident to implicate Qatar in an anti-Israeli move to win American support for a hostile takeover? The strong statement by the State Department is a good warning that we might not follow the young Prince into his next battle. This is a different message than President Trump sent in his first communication about the isolation of Qatar. Hopefully, the president will heed the mature voice of his Secretary of State in this matter. We have never seen such a clear rejection of Saudi initiatives as this statement from State. It is a real crisis that the fate of so many countries should  be in the hands of this young, bellicose, and pampered prince. The US had as recently as February 2017 shown a clear preference for Muhammad bin Nayef, his 57 year old predecessor. The new Crown Prince  is mindful of "Little Marco" Rubio who displayed the same petulant adolescent personality in presenting himself as a war leader for an office beyond his competence. Rubio shrunk from the presidential stage when confronted by an adult male personality who exposed his charade simply by conversing with him. (To compare Saudi Arabia and Qatar see AOA profile of The Gulf States).

Our alliance with the next generation of Saudi keepers of the Wahabbi flame is strategically untenable. Israel has been in a de facto alliance with them for years as an ally in their war against Iran. President Trump's willingness to act is eliciting a much needed discussion about US overall strategy that the press and antiwar left were remiss in bringing forth in the Obama years.

In Afghanistan we need Iran, India, China, and Russia to help us settle the porous border problem between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much more than a troop infusion we need a big power consortium. Our alliances with the Saudis and the UAE in the Mideast and our reliance on Pakistan in South Asia have entangled us in unwinnable wars. Our alliance with Israel has kept us close to a power that does not consider our confusion as all bad. It keeps us in the region and closer to their side. They say, "Welcome to our world." The problem in US strategy is not that we haven't "unleashed our military." President Trump is "unleashing " the military. Now, a statesman from the State Department or Senate has to play the Kissinger role and propose a grand new strategy. The tip of the spear is sharpened; but who are we pointing at?


SLOTH, TOLERANCE, DESPAIR: "The sixth Deadly Sin is named by the Church Acedia or Sloth. In the world it calls itself Tolerance; but in hell it is called Despair." — Dorothy Sayers

A RUSSIAN ON THE BENEDICT OPTION: The Benedict Option is nothing more than a person’s self-alienation from the affairs of the surrounding society, a refusal to strive for victory within this society. It is something more like heroic pessimism in the spirit of Max Weber: the world is dying, so let us be the courageous witnesses of its last days, not sharing in hopes for its miraculous salvation. In the aesthetic sense, this position is even very appealing. And yet it provokes questions along ethical lines.

A NEW LOOK AT LUTHER: Bishop Barron on the insights about Luther, love, and grace in a new History of Protestantism and the Modern World.

SOUTHERN BAPTISTS AND GENDER NEUTRAL TRANSLATIONSSome slippage. Jesus Christ the Son of God has been incorporated into humanity as the Head of the Body of Christ. This is the predestined communal form of humanity as we will exist for all time. Representing humanity by the male pronoun is a grammatical genuflection to the primacy of Christ. No matter atheists and feminists hate such speech - but why Baptists?


SUPPORTING QATAR: Iraq - the country the US liberated - knows that Saudi Arabia, not Qatar, has been undermining them. How did tiny but resourceful Qatar (2.2 mill pop; 300,000 citizens) became independent from the Saudis (33 million pop; 27million citizens ) - natural gas and making separate alliances is key including a military alliance with the US. Iran (80 mill), Turkey (80 mill), and Egypt (90 mill) are the giants, Iraq (36 mill) Saudi Arabia (33mill) and Syria (19 mill) intermediate. 30% of liquid natural gas is exported by Qatar. Their Arab neighbors are a tiny part of a market centered on Asian countries. They share their natural gas field with Iran. Exxon plays a role in the extraction. A small amount of LNG is shipped to UAE by pipeline but the majority of the market is moved by shipping tankers.

QATAR AND THE SAUDIS DEMOCRACY AND TRIBAL MONARCHIES: The real feud about press freedom and popular movements vs. old monarchs that led to the isolation of Qatar.

THE SUCCESSION IS MADE FORMAL - THE KING'S 31 Y/O SON IS NOW CROWN PRINCE: We have argued that the war in Yemen and the isolation of Qatar are both initiatives of the King's son to curry favor with clerics and solidify his claim to command of the Kingdom when his father dies. The line of succession is now formalized. The former Crown Prince, 57 year old Muhammad bin Nayef, has also lost more of his security portfolio which goes to another member of the next generation considered loyal to Muhammad bin Salman al Saud. The new young Crown Prince talks of a new Saudi Arabia for the gullible American media but his ties deepen the links of his part of the royal family and Wahabbi clerics. Maybe there will be a breaking news story for the Americans that women are about to sell cosmetics in a department store. Senators like John McCain  talk about "our allies" the reforming Saudis while the religious noose around Shiite necks grows tighter everyday.

ON SAUDI ARABIA - DEVELOPING A NEW OPPOSITION: A closer vote on arming the Saudis - there is now a huge Democrat opposition.


AFGHANISTAN - MORE TROOPS BUT STILL NO STRATEGYThe troops pay because the political elite has no plan.

CHINA HAS A STRATEGY AND IT INCLUDES PAKISTANA military base in nuclear-armed Pakistan where China is building a road to the sea.


AN INTERVIEW WITH CAMILLE PAGLIA: She is especially insightful in her description of the physical world of Trump - of aluminum and steel and copper. It is a great misfortune of our culture that deeply confused people like Camille Paglia and Milo Yiannopoulos have become truth-sayers for a certain brand of conservatives. They have pithy sayings and insights because they reject the usual feminist group think. But both of these sexually-disoriented Catholics are metaphysical catastrophes.


FINDING OUT THE REAL NEWS ON WHO SAVED THE DAY BY SHOOTING JAMES HODGKINSON: The shooter has been analyzed and profiled post-mortem on the internet. That is fortunate because the FBI seems perplexed after their investigation. It is not clear to them why this man who voted for Bernie Sanders and hated Donald Trump shot "Republicans." Their inability to come up with a plausible motive reminds us of the John Kennedy assassination in 1963. The Marxist assassin steeped in the dominating worldwide ideology of communism was treated as a lone wolf loser. Though the official report is no help, it is fairly easy to put together the thinking of the killer from multiple sources. It is less clear exactly how and by whom the shooter was killed. One would think that real reporters would be mildly interested in the basic facts of the lifesaving swift police work that saved lives. There were three capitol police officers and three Alexandria officers who responded. Each played different roles. It is peculiar that a week after the shooting a simple narrative of how Hodgkinson was killed and the role of the various protectors has not emerged. This is not a hunt for conspiracy but a request for a narrative we can learn from.

Friday, June 23, 2017

From Personal Piety to the Social Kingship of Christ: The Ordered Loves of the Sacred Heart

by David Pence

"There are others who reckon this same devotion burdensome and of little or no use to men who are fighting in the army of the divine King... [they] see it rather a type of piety nourished not by the soul and mind but by the senses and consequently more suited to the use of women, since it seems to them something not quite suitable for educated men."
    (Leo XIII 1899 encyclical Consecrating the Whole Human Race to the Most Sacred Heart)

Pope Francis says to trust the practices of the faithful people. "Reality is more important than ideas." But Really! All these bleeding hearts and pierced sides, talking angels and burning souls and then the secrets of a beautiful lady sealed by the miracle of the Sun. The Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the white and red lights of Divine Mercy from the wounded side of Christ, "entering the wounds to reach the heart," the promise of Fatima, the conversion of Russia, and the Kingship of Christ. Suddenly what seemed a host of disparate peasant devotions are converging. Men should not run away. The messages come from children and virginal young women. Old ladies have long heeded them. Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.

Kaki Katsuhiko (1872-1961), in preaching the Shinto nationalism that would propel Japan against the western imperialists colonizing Asia, gave speeches to the military called "One Heart, One Body." He was a law professor and a scholar of Shinto classics as well as a professor at the Japanese Naval  Academy for the 25 years before Pearl Harbor. He was the major intellectual/spiritual force who  welded law, statecraft, religion and military identity together to forge the Japanese people into that incredible social organism that defeated China and then Russia before expelling the British from Hong Kong and Singapore.  "One Heart, One Body, One Head." That is exactly the language he had taught. American soldiers learned to respect the resolve of that one heart as a fighting force, while Chinese civilians grew to hate the "Japanese devils" for their unspeakable barbarism. But no man can look at the history of the 20th century and fail to see there was some fundamental spiritual difference between the "Mystical Body of Japan" and those other bloody 20th-century forces of Soviet scientific socialism and the armed Darwinism of the German Reich. No man should hear the language of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart and One Body and dismiss these categories as the sentimentality of old ladies. There lurks a Serpent much more devious and horrible than any of the armies of the world wars. A great Heart beats and a Mystical Body is stirring to expel that monster.

The disciplines of the First Fridays and First Saturdays are deeply Eucharistic. We should remember that in 1673 (St Margaret Mary Alacoque) and 1879 (Sister Mary of the Divine Heart), frequent and early reception of Holy Communion was not common. A profound culture of love has been formed by the monthly devotions to what Pope John Paul II called "the alliance of the hearts." Buttressed by the liturgical reforms and sensibilities of the early twentieth century, these devotions set a rhythmic metronome for the practice of Catholic parish life: daily Mass and Communion, monthly confession, and daily meditation on the life of Christ through the Rosary. The Catholic week is centered on Sunday when the Father created the heavens and the earth, the Son rose from the dead and the Spirit inflamed the hearts of the faithful. Catholics devote Friday to acts of Penance and the Passion. Thursdays recall the institution of the Eucharist and that pivotal struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. Saturdays are Marian -- a day of faithful anticipation that the Tomb will become a womb bringing forth the first-born of creation. The renewal of the liturgical year in the last century was preceded by the renewal of the Catholic week by the devotions of the hearts. Those disciplines started out as monthly prayer practices, but they led to the daily and weekly keeping of Catholic time that would mark strong parish life. The centrality of the bishop and the Eucharist in the local Church emphasized at Vatican II was prepared for by setting hearts aflame for the Heart of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It is hard to convey the Real Presence in words; it is hard to miss His Presence in a church, quiet and full, during Thursday Holy Hour. The binding of the peoples' hearts with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary draws our thoughts to think with the mind of the Church and our wills to carry out the Will of the Father. This Christocentric culture consolidates and renews a worldwide community of shared attention and memory in the synchronous practices of local parish life.

These devotions linking the heart of the believer with the heart of Christ were meant to draw all of humanity into the human heart of Jesus. This targeting of humanity and not just particular souls as the recipient of grace was not always the emphasis of the Church. It was considered noteworthy that the Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Encyclical of Pope John XXIII in 1963 as well as  the opening statement of the Bishops at the Second Vatican Council were addressed not only to bishops and Catholics, but to all men of good will. Indeed, Pacem in Terris was much more about the harmony and order that is at the root of reality than a plea for "no more war." It opened: "That a marvelous order predominates in the world of living Beings and in the forces of nature is the plain lesson of modern research." Against the ontological conflict and violence inherent in the western ideologies of Marxism and Social Darwinism, the Catholics threw their lot in with the great philosophies and cultures of primordial order and harmony. Love made the Universe. Love called forth man in creation. And in thousands of chapels across the world, mostly women pondered the love of God in the loving hearts of Mary and Jesus. Countering the shadowy ether of practical atheism, the daily and weekly practices of Catholics held up the Body of Christ offered to the Father. Amidst the rubble of the great wars, the sanctuary lamps in parishes across the globe lit up the faces of the faithful reciting  more prayers, kneeling for more confessions, attending more Masses and receiving more Holy Communions. Attention and Piety were centered not upon a thousand different village saints but focused through the Mass and the Rosary on the central reality of Christ in nature and history.  The physical sinews for the theology of Communio were being drawn taut. When the young virgin asked the Supreme Pontiff (the Holy Father) to consecrate all of humanity to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, there were years of pause. Popes had spoken often to fellow bishop-apostles and other times to the whole Catholic faithful. The pope and his priests were used to speaking definitively with effect to a specific target. They repeated the words of Christ in special sacramental settings --"This is my Body", "Go, your sins are forgiven." The pope was careful with his words. Generally the Church invited people as individuals to enter her sacramental life and be consecrated. The Church was one kind of society; the world was another. What should be said to humanity? What could be said to all of mankind? The pope balked at the consecration of humanity. But the realization grew deeper as the Church reflected on her identity as Church. The sons of Adam and the descendants of Noah needed to hear a call from the Ark. Humanity is the Church in potential. In the Vatican Council's reflection on the Church (Lumen Gentium), the term "People of God" was used  at different times to describe three different corporate realities: the Jews, the whole Church, and mankind from the beginning.

Pope Leo XIII did consecrate mankind to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899. Pope Pius XII consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1942, one year before his encyclical on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. Henri de Lubac and the Communio theologians would remind us that the Church could not be fully the Body of Christ without embracing her mission as fulfilling the destiny of mankind. The nations apart from the Church were parts of the Body not yet awakened to their identity as members. Uniting ourselves with the Heart of Jesus shapes the whole human race into the eusocial species that we were meant to be from the beginning.

In 1925 Pius XI said that the annual consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart would be done each year on the Feast of Christ the King which he established in that encyclical. The empires of the Romanovs, Hapsburgs, and Ottomans had fallen in WWI. The Papal States had been taken 50 years before that. In Catholic Mexico and Catholic Spain the forces of Communism which had butchered the Orthodox clergy in Russia were now killing the Catholic priests. The war against clerics and the priestly authority of Christ had taken a bloody turn, and yet just then the pope established a Sunday every year to reassert the one monarchy that would never fall. The empires deposed their rulers, the mobs killed their priests, and just then the pope reminded us all that mankind still had a monarch. The pope crowned the liturgical year with the Kingship of Christ, not simply to announce his regal return in the end times but to reassert the Church's life is meant to build His Kingdom on this earth. A new decade of the rosary was dedicated to that truth and some Catholics began to hear for the first time that same charge in an old prayer they had said all their lives. The Holy Father said every faculty of man -- intellect, will, and body -- owed allegiance to the King. There was no square inch of social life or earthly territory that wasn't His.

A century later our allegiance abides in Christ the King. Christ as the Head of a Body with a beating Heart makes a King's claim on our hearts. The loss of Papal States and the passing of Christian monarchs has actually cleared our field of vision to see how we might better institute Christ's Social Kingship. The Soviet Union is no more but Holy Russia reappears. The Roman Empire has disappeared but Israel is a nation. The Church was torn asunder but Christian nations are on every continent. The world of politics, of war and peace, of poverty and development is not immune to His rule. How then shall we bring public life in concordance with the rules of love?

Political men must love the Father and love mankind as the Heart of Jesus does. This filial love for the Father invigorates and disciplines our special ardor for our countrymen and nation. Brotherhood under a Father is the public love of priests and bishops forming the living foundation stones for the Church. That is the Apostolic template that Christ loved into existence. Public brotherhoods of protective duty in defined territories under legitimate authorities constitute the form of love that makes the nations. Christ ordered his apostles not to reject the nations but to baptize them.
    Losing this Christian fraternal sense of patriotism has been disastrous for American social life. The rejection of color-blind Christian brotherhood as the means and goal of civic life has destroyed our urban black communities. Ignoring the tough purity and work codes of Christian manhood has turned our white working-class neighborhoods into drug ridden spiritual wastelands. Renewing a public Christian code of manhood and brotherhood cuts across the debilitating battle lines of color and class. Forging the Christian alliance of hearts can reverse our cultural disintegration and we can reverse it quickly. We are commanded as men to participate in the public brotherhood of protection and work. This is one of the ordered loves of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Our civic publics are spiritual communal bodies. To build the Kingship of Christ there must be authoritative male bodies in specific cities and countries living out the customs of love. Christ's heart wept for Jerusalem not Damascus. He ordained a band of Galilean working men (not an audience of ladies and gentlemen) into a public corporate body. Kingdoms require knights and they are established in homelands. The feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us that "all you need is love," but it is the structured love of religion, nation, and brotherhood that makes peace on earth.

Ordered masculine love is the way to peace. It is the antidote to murder and war. It is not to be trifled with. Masculine love is not erotic -- that is fake news. Incest destroys the family unit. Homosexuality destroys the public nature of civic and ecclesial brotherhoods. Its kiss is no more innocent than the kiss of Judas. Masculine love is a public brotherhood of fathers defined by laws and lands. It is high and noble. It allows us to meet the Russians and Chinese and Iranians as brothers in their own neighboring communities with their own customs and rules of law and leadership.

When a Cain picks up his weapon, the brotherhood moves to stop him. But when an Esau sets up his separate territory, Jacob respects his brother's border. Pope Francis says the high calling of politics is to establish fraternity. Civic fraternity is meant to rule, to exercise authority. The Sixties are over. The centuries of revolution are over. It is time to accept the duties of adulthood, the exercise of authority, and the public ordered love of fraternity.

The Sacred Heart gives a physical form to the greatest of all loves -- the love of Christ for the Father and the love of Christ for humanity through his particular loves for His mother and His apostolic brothers.  The Church enters into this love through a very definite form: the Eucharistic Liturgy. All of the devotions of the Hearts, Fatima, and Divine Mercy have led to a deeper Eucharistic sensibility. Masculine brotherhood and male-female love also have defined physical forms within which they are expressed. The nation and marriage are these forms of covenant love. The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Kingship of Our Lord are deeply entwined. All of humanity is being drawn into a kind of force-field defined by the Trinitarian template of ordered love. Public territorial boundaries of nations for men are foreshadowed by the territorial divisions of the diocesan Church. The paired love of man and woman in the unity of marriage is a sacrament of Christ and His Church. The wide encompassing waters of mercy that wash all of mankind come by way of a narrow wound in his side. The widest of loves are possible only if we conform to the limiting liberation of the fundamental resonating communal forms of ordered love.
John Eudes (1601-1680) a saint priest of France fostered devotion to the Sacred Hearts but never emphasized that above all "Jesus loves you." For Fr. Eudes knew that above all( and this cannot be repeated too often) Jesus loves His Father. Putting on Christ means putting on His loves and while that includes each of us, only the moderns think it starts there.  Eudes emphasized that putting on the heart of Jesus is "considering that the Lord Jesus  Christ is your true head and that you are a member of His body...He desires that whatever is in Him may live and rule in you, as the head lives and rules in the body...(let) these words be fulfilled in you: Glorify God and bear him in your body, that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in you.. He earnestly desires that you serve and glorify the Father by using all your faculties as if they were His." The good priest also grounded this devotion in the sacramental life of the church and 300 years before the present Catechism, he explained the sacraments of initiation: "These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from Baptism. They are increased and strengthened through Confirmation and by making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the Holy Eucharist, they are brought to perfection."

The forms of Christ's love are not restricted to the sacraments but are most manifest in them. Every man does not have to be baptized and confirmed as a Catholic for the Christian template of love to order the bonds of mankind. Christ has established forms of order. Conforming the "holy things" of matter and person in the sacraments exerts a field effect in cultures shaped by Christianity. The Catholic plan for politics is not a Catholic monarch in every country, though we have a special fondness for a good Catholic king. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council asked the leaders of the world to see them as a template. Their interracial brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God was a sign of how the nations could be. The Council Fathers established a sacral formation within which the great Spirit movement of Pentecostalism could be made incarnate.  The Marxists were wrong that class conflict was the driving force of human history. The capitalists and Darwinists were wrong that the nations and races must be in perpetual conflict. Nations can be fraternities and live in fraternity. Man is meant for community. Men are meant to be brothers, as surely as man and woman are meant to be spouses. National flags are not above the altar, but they are found in churches, because the flags of nations are as fundamental a sign of love and loyalty as the wedding bands of spouses.

Large groups of men in armed agreement should not evoke an image of Nazis. Large groups of men in armed agreement describes the form of love and loyalty that defeated the Nazis. It was religious men in arms and the nations at war which ended the brutal rule of scientific socialists. It was Catholic movements like the Cristeros and Catholic leaders like Franco, de Gaulle, Kennedy, and Diem who played their roles as armed Catholic men in the fight against the atheist ideologies of their century. May a hundred such men and a hundred such nations emerge in this century to work in harmony with the Church in pursuit of peace. The nations are not meant to war with one another, but sometimes only a just war will bring a true peace. We must make peace with one another. Our only permanent enemy is the Devil.
The devotions to the Sacred Heart deepen our sensibility of being one with humanity in the Body of Christ. In the soul, in the parish, and in the the celebration of the Mass, the acts of personal piety link us in our common humanity united in the Heart and Body of Christ. The Eucharist sends us out to incorporate the rest of humanity into this deep bond which is our common ultimate destiny. On the way to that perfection of the Mystical Body, we form the other fundamental societies and love covenants that radiate out from the core love. They are shaped by a field effect from the electromagnetic bonds of Trinitarian and sacramental life. The outer bonds feed back by providing a culture for the present age that allows the culture of eternity to be expressed in worship. The loves we live out in the rhythms of daily, weekly, and yearly Catholic Eucharistic culture are stronger, more truthful, and more full of joy than the disintegrating self-absorption of the modern west and the hateful violence of the jihadists. From our simple parish cultures of prayer and praise let us build the Kingdom of God. Let our hearts burn with the love of the Father and the bond of brotherhood in the priesthood. Let our love for the interiority of the Virgin and the practical kindness of the Mother lead us to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.  Let our love of God be made manifest in the unified hearts of our marriages and domestic life. Let our love of God be manifest in our love of countrymen and reverence for our flag. Let our nation seek fraternity with the other nations reflecting the Heart of Christ for all mankind. Let our loves be His loves. He taught us his loves on the cross. First He loves  His Father. He loves his Blessed Mother and his sacred brotherhood and he bequeathed them to each other. He loved the poor and outcast at his periphery and promised him Paradise that day.  Let us unite ourselves in the Heart of Christ to form one Body as we build the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The fate of Peng Dehuai (d. 1974)

 Peng Dehuai was a prominent military leader who served as China's defense minister in the late 1950s. Both he and Mao [pictured] were born in the province of Hunan.

He was the leader of the Chinese forces in the Korean War -- and was the one who informed the Chairman that his 28-year-old son, Mao Anying, had been killed in a U.S. air strike.

Later, "appalled by the suffering caused by the failed Great Leap Forward campaign [1958-1962] and other radical policies, Peng came into conflict with Chairman Mao and this led to his eventual downfall."

From a book about the Cultural Revolution by Dutch historian Frank Dikotter:
"In December 1966, Peng Dehuai, the marshal who had confronted the Chairman over the famine at the Lushan Conference in 1959, was hunted down in Sichuan and brought back to Beijing by a team of Red Guards acting on orders from Jiang Qing [the wife of Mao].
Peng's ordeal was predictable... [H]e was dragged out of prison to face interminable struggle meetings. One bystander remembers seeing him in an open lorry, surrounded by Red Guards. He was attempting to keep his head defiantly high, but a puny student kept on hitting him on the neck, trying to force him to bow in submission. 
'I watched with horror. Here was a man who had fought all his life for the revolution, a man whom everyone in China knew, almost as a legend. If even he had no protection in this anarchy, then what of us ordinary people? I felt myself choking and I wanted to cry.' "

Peng Dehuai was sentenced to life in prison, where he died a couple years before Mao. Later, when Deng Xiaoping came to power, he rehabilitated the general's reputation. Today, this statue stands in Peng's hometown.


The longtime personal physician to Chairman Mao -- Li Zhisui -- summed up Peng Dehuai: "He was the frankest, most honest man on the politburo, the only top leader who consistently dared to confront Mao. He accused him of behaving like an emperor, with a harem of three thousand concubines..."

[Li had a very different verdict on China's longtime premier: "I realized that Zhou Enlai was Mao's slave, absolutely, obsequiously obedient."]

Stamps issued recently by Mali (NW of Nigeria).
General Lin Biao was Mao's designated successor until his death
in a suspicious 1971 plane crash in Mongolia.

UPDATE: Another of the billion-and-one sad tales of Maoist China:
"[In the late 1940s] the chief of protocol had suggested that Chairman Mao conform to international convention and wear a dark suit and black leather shoes. He was fired. He subsequently committed suicide during the Cultural Revolution."

Mao joins the 70th birthday celebration for Joseph Stalin
[Nikita Khrushchev, whom the Chinese chairman came to detest for his "revisionism," is on the right]

Sunday, June 18, 2017

CORPUS CHRISTI: Lessons from Nature and History

(first published Thursday June 19, 2014)

Dr. Pence writes on this feast day, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (a holy day of obligation in the universal Church; and a national holiday in countries such as Brazil, Portugal, and Poland) --

The feast of Corpus Christi seldom inspires dialogue with Protestants. This is unfortunate, for much more than theological formulations of justification and faith, it is the sacral priesthood’s irreplaceable role in forgiving sins and bringing the Eucharist to the faithful that divides Catholic and Protestant.  The consecrated Apostolic Priesthood and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist are indivisible truths. The faithful Protestant with a Bible in his hand, a heart for his Savior, and the name of Jesus on his lips cannot fathom that liturgical actions of the sacramental priesthood are an indispensable means to proximity with Christ. The personal faith of the Reformers has trumped the priestly works of the Papists.

In the same way as Andrew did with Peter, Catholics run to our brothers saying: “We see the Messiah. Come and be with Him; come and be with us.” We know that believing Protestants want to hear us, but it is a hard saying. They want to be close to Christ. They say He is their personal friend and Savior, and they mean it. But especially during Corpus Christi processions and Eucharistic Adoration hours, the Catholics seem so radically different.

Catholics kneel and say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God” – expressing the awe and veneration owed to the God who made heaven and earth. We join the centurion in saying that we are not worthy that Christ should enter under our roof. In the Holy Communion that immediately follows, He enters under our roof and our souls are healed in an act of incorporation beyond any act of friendship.
   from "Last Communion of Saint Jerome" by Botticelli

Why don’t Catholics display the continued unrelieved intensity of a “personal relationship with Christ”?  Because we live in a different sort of emotional universe.  At times we do not dare the familiarity of friendship, as we take off our sandals with Joshua and “fall down and worship.” Other times we know the communion of theosis for which friendship is too sparse a term.  We admire the intensity of our Evangelical friends, but we should neither envy nor imitate the one-dimensional emphasis on friendship that compensates for centuries apart from the Eucharistic presence. Receiving the Lord in the Eucharist introduces a kind of interpersonal consummation, which generates an abiding peace.  This rhythmic liturgical experience of Presence is less excitable than the enthusiasm of college friends; but like marriage, it is a deeper communion.

Corpus Christi invokes an irresistible lesson from the Book of Nature as well.  Bacteria were the first forms of physical life created 3.8 billion years ago. Bacteria live as single cells or in colonies. They consist of prokaryotic cells, which have no nuclei and multiple coverings – a membrane, a cell wall, and a capsule. Around 2 billion years ago, one of the great transformations in life-forms occurred as certain bacteria lost some of their external coverings (the capsules) and merged with other bacteria to form something new: eukaryotic cells. This type of cell was larger and had a nucleus. Most importantly, the new cells had fewer coverings, and the membranes of their cells were capable of much more complex social interaction with other cells. These cells would develop over time with a capacity to “incorporate” into multi-cellular organisms.

These new eukaryotic cells would become the multi-cellular organisms of the protist, fungal, plant and animal kingdoms.
[The protist kingdom is that of amoeba and algae; the ‘silly putty’ of the biological world, or the living goo from which emerges the more defined forms of plants and animals].


I have always pictured this event as the best biological analogy to the capacity of persons with spiritual souls to be incorporated in the Body of Christ. There is something about shedding an outer self to allow a deeper bonding in a new multidimensional organism that resonates. The sacraments of Initiation and Holy Orders seal our souls with indelible characters that configure us in a radically transformed mode of living. The feast of Corpus Christi calls us to consider this truth: that Christ is fully present in the Eucharist and being incorporated in Him (and participating in His Sonship) is the way members of our species are going to live forever in the Father’s household.  

UPDATE:  From a letter of J.R.R. Tolkien to his son (November 1, 1963) --
"But for me, that Church of which the Pope is its acknowledged head on earth has as its chief claim that it is the one which has (and still does) ever defended the Blessed Sacrament and given it most honor and put it as Christ clearly intended in prime place.  'Feed my sheep' was His last charge to St. Peter… It was against this that the West European revolt (or the Reformation) was really launched – 'the monstrous fable of the Mass' – and faith/works a mere red herring."

"Oculi omnium in te spirant, Domine:
 et tu das illis escam in tempore opportune."

(The eyes of all look towards you in hope, O Lord:
 and you give them their food in due season.)

"Ecce Panis Angelorum, factus cibus viatorum."

(Behold this bread of Angels
Which hath become food for us on our pilgrimage.)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 17

                                               by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

                                                             THE WEEKLY BRIEF

The Senate's 98-2 vote to tighten sanctions on Iran and Russia, and remove presidential ability to change these policies was opposed only by Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders. President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson are in a distinct minority as they attempt to restore normal relations between the US and Russia. Maybe it is a blessing they will have to make their arguments to Congress. It is an argument long overdue. The neoconservative Republican war hawks led by John McCain in the Senate and Fox News in the media have opposed Trump's notion that Russia is not our enemy since his early candidacy. They now have many allies to revenge how the outsider walked through the lot of them in the Republican primaries. There are some men on the left like Oliver Stone and some at the Nation magazine who oppose the anti-Russian hysteria as part of a new Cold War. There are many others on the sexual left who understand that a nationalist Christian Russia is not a friend to their globalist individualist agenda. They are as viscerally anti-Putin as they are viscerally anti-Trump. As of yet there is no articulate Christian voice to fight for a new alliance of nations in a consort for peace.
A vote not to approve the huge arms sales to Saudi Arabia had 43 Democrats and four Republicans almost blocking the sale. Five Democrats joined the Republican majority. Only 27 Senators voted to block the last big Saudi arms sale under President Obama. There is now a majority Democrat vote available whenever an anti-Trump policy is suggested. This could even foster a real debate in Congress about our relationship to Saudi Arabia. When it was Hillary Clinton and John McCain carrying their water, there was very little action by the foreign policy establishment against "our friends"guarding the clerics of Wahhabi Islam. President Trump has not opposed the Saudis as some of us thought he might. He is mobilizing what McCain and Clinton favored. This will now lead to the reemergence of an antiwar left, just because it is Trump who is befriending the Saudis. One redeeming  feature of the Obama presidency was that he understood we were trapped by our Saudi alliance. He had run against and beaten both McCain and Clinton. He was no darling of the foreign policy elite when he opened relations with Iran. Obama was, however, ambivalent. He never embraced the Saudis but he armed then at an unprecedented level until Trump made a bigger deal. A long overdue strategic debate by Congress can help us learn from the insights that President Obama and Ben Rhodes shared in their last foreign policy interviews.
Catholics who believe this 100th anniversary of Fatima may be a crucial year in a re-conversion of Russia to Christianity need to lead a spiritual reform of our own country's foreign policy. Why shouldn't America reach out as a brother nation to Holy Russia after their atheistic nightmare of the 20th century?  Let us pray we might shed the atheist cataract that has blocked our own nation from formulating a foreign policy based on a Christian worldview of men and nations rather than the social Darwinism of atheist academics.  


POPE FRANCIS ON NOSTALGIA: "I am convinced that his (Don Luigi Giussani's) thought is profoundly human and reaches man’s innermost longings. I dare say that this is a most profound, and at the same time understandable, phenomenology of nostalgia as a transcendental fact. There is a phenomenology of nostalgia, nóstos algos, feeling called home, the experience of feeling attracted to what is most proper for us, most consonant with our being. In the context of Fr. Giussani’s reflections, we encounter instances of a real phenomenology of nostalgia." —Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, April 27, 2001, at the Buenos Aires International Book Fair, the largest in South America, presenting the Spanish edition of L’attrattiva Gesù (The Attraction That Is Jesus).
[Ed: In St Augustine's comparison of the three faculties of the soul with the Trinity, he associated the Father with memory. When man is reconstituted by grace he cultivates a primal memory of being called into existence by the Love of God. This metaphysical certitude about the gift and goodness of one's being reminds us of the initial status of Adam and Eve. The source of our transcendental nostalgia is that all human beings were imagined originally as part of the Body of Christ-our final destiny and original purpose.  Such nostalgia sure beats self-affirmation classes].


IN AFRICA - HOW TO TRANSCEND THE TRIBEA Nigerian dispute and the Pope.

THE AFRICAN MARTYRS OF UGANDA - REMEMBERED EACH YEAR IN JUNE: From his homily at their 1964 canonization by Pope Paul VI:
"Who could have predicted to the famous African confessors and martyrs such as Cyprian, Felicity, Perpetua and – the greatest of all – Augustine, that we would one day add names so dear to us as Charles Lwanga and Matthias Mulumba Kalemba and their 20 companions? Nor must we forget those members of the Anglican Church who also died for the name of Christ. These African martyrs herald the dawn of a new age... a rebirth of Christianity and civilization!

Africa has been washed by the blood of these latest martyrs, the first of this new age. The infamous crime by which these young men were put to death was so unspeakable and so expressive of the times. It shows us clearly that a new people needs a moral foundation, needs new spiritual customs firmly planted, to be handed down to posterity. Symbolically, this crime also reveals that a simple and rough way of life ... must give way to a more civilized life."
King Mwanga of Uganda was rebuffed by several Christian male pages who would not perform sexual acts on His Majesty. They saw the acts as a sacrilege. He saw their disobedience as a sacrilege against his royal personage. The protectors of the pages including Charles Lwanga and Joseph Mukusa who were burnt to death with at least 20 other African men in 1886 for their insolence. This dramatic story of purity and courage defying the perversion of the powerful is a many day celebration in Uganda. It is interesting that the story at Crux about this huge feast day sets the context as "the scramble for Africa." The nasty imperialists got a gratuitous kick while the King's peculiar crime was not mentioned.

Christian nations of Africa never did understand the obsessive identification of homosexual acts with human rights by the Obama administration (2008-2016). Fighting Salafist jihadists was often treated as a secondary concern in an American foreign policy dominated by the gender ideologists. The use of the weak by the mighty for desacralized sexual gratification is an old story. One century the villain is a powerful black king. A century later the rich white Americans demand sexual license as homage to their social dominance. In the name of human rights the privileged demand that abominations like sodomy and abortion not jut be allowed but be hallowed. Pope Francis calls this imposition on the nations of the global south an "ideological colonization".

GREGORIAN CHANT AND THE PSALMS SUNG BY JESUS - A COMMENTARY AND STORY FROM FR. JOSEPH FESSIO, SJ: From Fr. Fessio's two-part essay on the Mass of Vatican II from a talk in 1999:
"The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, issued on December 4, 1963, by the Second Vatican Council is one of the most important documents of the Council, one that has been the least understood and, I believe, has wrought the most havoc - not by having been fulfilled - but by having been ignored or misinterpreted...

Paragraph 114 adds: "The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care." Then in paragraph 116 we find another shocker: "The Church acknowledges Gregorian Chant as specially suited to the Roman Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services." That's what the Council actually said. If you are in a parish which prides itself on living the spirit of Vatican II, then you should be singing Gregorian chant at your parish. And if you're not singing the Gregorian Chant, you're not following the specific mandate of the Second Vatican Council.

Now, just a little footnote on the Gregorian Chant. In reflecting on these things about Church music, I began to think about the Psalms a few years back. And a very obvious idea suddenly struck me. Why it didn't come earlier I don't know, but the fact is that the Psalms are songs. Every one of the 150 Psalms is meant to be sung; and was sung by the Jews. When this thought came to me, I immediately called a friend, a rabbi in San Francisco who runs the Hebrew School, and I asked, "Do you sing the Psalms at your synagogue?" "Well, no, we recite them," he said. "Do you know what they sounded like when they were sung in the Old Testament times and the time of Jesus and the Apostles?" I asked. He said, "No, but why don't you call this company in Upstate New York. They publish Hebrew music, and they may know."

So, I called the company and they said, "We don't know; call 1-800-JUDAISM." So I did. And I got an information center for Jewish traditions, and they didn't know either. But they said, "You call this music teacher in Manhattan. He will know." So, I called this wonderful rabbi in Manhattan and we had a long conversation. At the end, I said, "I want to bring some focus to this, can you give me any idea what it sounded like when Jesus and his Apostles sang the Psalms?" He said, "Of course, Father. It sounded like Gregorian Chant. You got it from us."

I was amazed. I called Professor William Mart, a Professor of Music at Stanford University and a friend. I said, "Bill, is this true?" He said, "Yes. The Psalm tones have their roots in ancient Jewish hymnody and psalmody." So, you know something? If you sing the Psalms at Mass with the Gregorian tones, you are as close as you can get to praying with Jesus and Mary. They sang the Psalms in tones that have come down to us today in Gregorian Chant.

So, the Council isn't calling us back to some medieval practice, those "horrible" medieval times, the "terrible" Middle Ages, when they knew so little about liturgy that all they could do was build a Chartres Cathedral. (When I see cathedrals and churches built that have a tenth of the beauty of Notre Dame de Paris, then I will say that the liturgists have the right to speak. Until then, they have no right to speak about beauty in the liturgy.) But my point is that at the time of Notre Dame de Paris in the 13th century, the Psalms tones were already over a thousand years old. They are called Gregorian after Pope Gregory I, who reigned from 590 to 604. But they were already a thousand years old when he reigned. He didn't invent Gregorian chant; he reorganized and codified it and helped to establish musical schools to sing it and teach it. It was a reform; it wasn't an invention. Thus, the Council really calls us back to an unbroken tradition of truly sacred music and gives such music pride of place."


SAUDIS, THE MIDEAST, QATAR: Fareed Zakaria is right about the Saudis. Jerusalem Post on why Israel wants Qatar isolated. Ishaan Tharoor of Washington Post explains his understanding of Qatar. Qatar's alternative Salafism.

Qatar has been criticized in a unanimous letter from the 200 living male descendants of ibn And al-Wahhabi. They are not truly of the purified Salafi form of the religion. This language allows killing them as non-Muslims. While Qatar has been part of the Wahhabi tradition they have always been much less prone to condemn all Shiites including Iran, and the Houthis of Yemen. The Qataris treated  the widespread popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate form of Islamic political activity. Egypt's military government established by a coup against the elected Brotherhood candidate and the Saudi monarchy do not appreciate the more populist reporting from al Jazeera based in Qatar. It is interesting to remember that Osama bin Laden was generally against the anti-Shiite turning taken by al Qaeda in 2006. (He was killed in 2011). Both Turkey and Iran have been clear in their support of Qatar with Turkey promising to deploy more troops to the Turkish base established there since 2014.  The coordinated campaign against Qatar does not have the blessings of the US Secretary of State. This action like the war against the Houthis in Yemen has the fingerprints of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud. He has had serious rivalry with the young much more accomplished leader of Qatar-- 37 yo Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.  Deputy Crown Prince bin Salman is trying to build his case within the Kingdom so he can leapfrog a much more experienced Crown Prince to succeed his father as King of Saudi Arabia. His war in Yemen and now this Wahhabi cleric backed attack on Qatar is a display of his willingness to pursue aggressive purification campaigns favored by the clerics.  
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince 57 yo Muhammad bin Nayef (who US officials awarded a CIA medal for counterterrorism in Feb 2017) is quite assuredly not in favor of this abrupt move against Qatar. For now he bides his time as the King must indulge his son.

THE REEMERGENCE OF ISLAM: A Bernard Lewis essay from 2001. Some 15 years later, this historical writing is even more explanatory.




TWO SENATORS - ONE COHERENT AND FULL OF RELIGIOUS ANIMUS, ONE INCOHERENT AND FULL OF HIMSELF: Last week the argument for draining the swamp of two Senate elders was made eloquently by their own performances. Bernie Sanders in his opposition to Russell Vought for Deputy Director of the OMB quoted the evangelical Christian's remarks that Muslims are condemned because they do not accept Christ as their Savior. "Are the Jews condemned too?" asked Sanders. Now Bernie Sanders does not believe anyone is going to be condemned at some fairy tale trial known as the Last Judgment. He doesn't believe there is a Judge and he certainly doesn't think there is a Last Judgment. But the fact that an accountant held the traditional Christian formula for no salvation apart from Christ was proof to Senator Sanders that this man should not hold government office. The liberal but reasonable Atlantic Monthly sees this for what it is. Sanders was erecting a clear religious test for office. Watching the video clip, I saw Uncle Bernie suddenly morph into the Soviet commissar executing Orthodox priests in 1920 and then a Spanish Communist murdering Spanish priests and burning convents a decade later. The hatred that invigorates political atheism is very real. In recent years it has been hidden. This is a tape worth watching and pondering.

Meanwhile the baffling confusion of John McCain in his questioning of FBI director James Comey should serve as a wake up call for citizens who believe that for decades our foreign policy experts in the US Senate have been engaged in a role playing charade that is strategically incoherent. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have become the liberal media's favorite Republicans because of their anti-Trump bias. They played that role for the conservative media during the Obama years with their "Obama is weak." "Putin is a bully."  "Don't upset the Saudis."  trifecta of nightly news quotes.  This clip might give serious conservatives some pause in their trust of the leading Republican war hawk. His next day explanation was that his line of questioning "went over the heads " of his confused listeners.


WHITE RACISTS, MALE HOMOSEXUALS, AND THE MANOSPHERE: This fellow is confused but he is observing a very real phenomenon which reminds us of the huge role of Ernst Rohm and male homosexuals in the SA-Hitler's military arm in his rise to power. This perversion must be answered by a religious masculine national loyalty disciplined by Christianity. Hitler stepped into the void left by a divided Christianity facing the coalescing worldwide movement of atheistic Marxism.

CHINA - RELIGIOUS REVIVAL AFTER MAO: Outstanding growth (NY Review).

KHRUSHCHEV AND THE 20th PARTY CONFERENCE - THE FIRST THAW IN 1956: Mikhail Gorbachev thought of himself as a "child of the 20th Conference" when Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin. The "Thaw generation" of idealist communists were dedicated to social justice, altruism, and honest labor. A review of the book on this pivotal event.

INTERVIEWING PUTIN: Megyn Kelly was "persistent" in her obsession about Russian hacking. A world at war, grand geopolitical strategy, Russia's view of history, perspectives on the Mideast and the war on terror were all quite secondary to Kelly's belief she had to show she was a "tough journalist" asking the "tough questions" repeatedly.

On the other hand - taking a much longer view, Oliver Stone has rejected the anti-Russia phobia of the left and suggests we take this country, this civilization, seriously. His work may be a key in breaking the cultural logjam which is preventing Americans from taking advantage of the Trump presidency in reformulating a true post-Cold War foreign policy. Stone will have a four-part series at Showtime of interviews he conducted over a two year period with President Putin.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Catholic Sociobiology: Feasts of Communio -- Trinity and Corpus Christi

[first published May 24, 2016]

by David Pence

In the weeks after Pentecost, the Church meditates on the great communions at the heart of Catholic Sociobiology. The Octave of Pentecost, the Sunday after Pentecost, she meditates on Trinity Sunday. The Thursday after Trinity Sunday she considers the Body of Christ in the Feast of Corpus Christi. This day was chosen to recall the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. Thursdays were also often designated by parishes as the special day for short periods of Eucharistic Adoration.

Over the last century the practice of reception of Communion by Catholics at daily Mass in the local parish has become a trademark communal prayer where Catholics "think cosmically and act locally" by uniting themselves in the Living Organism of the Body of Christ through the Liturgy.
Priest in Nigeria


[first published June 15, 2014; additive edits June 11, 2017]

"When we speak of the Trinity, we must do so with caution and modesty, for, as St. Augustine saith, nowhere else are more dangerous errors made, or is research more difficult, or discovery more fruitful."    
                    (Saint Thomas Aquinas)

by Dr. David Pence

The coming of Jesus announced a Messiah for the Jews, proclaimed a new Kingdom amidst the nations, dethroned the Enemy Prince, and revealed the mystery we contemplate on this day -- that the God-made-man is one Person in a Trinity.

"Even our God is a community," said G.K. Chesterton. Humans will overcome death only by entering into this triune God as sons of the Father, incorporated into the Body of the Son. The Spirit will bind us properly if we humbly let Him act… and He acts through the sacramental Church. He indelibly conforms our souls into Christ's Body through Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. The Trinity, marriage and the family, Holy Orders and the Church – these are the communions we know as Catholics.

Our proposal here at Anthropology of Accord is that the Communio theology which takes its origin from the metaphysical reality we celebrate today must be further developed as the theological and anthropological principle of the public life of the Church and nations. The three persons of the Trinity are revealed to us in the masculine forms of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A serious theology will ponder and learn from the masculine apostolic priesthood and the male covenantal nature of the prototype nation: Israel. The Communio nature of the Eucharistic church and marriage are enriching themes of the last century. They have their champions and journals and institutes. Masculine public communio is a bit underdeveloped. Ubiquitous, fundamental, and yet (for fear of embarrassment) unmentioned.

The communal bond of men in nations is the natural polity which ensures the freedom of those more sacred bonds of Church and marriage. In different places and times in history the masculine public polity might have been fellow tribesmen and a warrior chief, or the Emperor and his subjects, or the 'polis' and its citizens. But, today, from Singapore to Germany, from Canada to China, from Brazil to Poland, and from Egypt to the Philippines the natural bond of men in public communal work and protection has developed in the form of territorial nations. The Scriptural template of this masculine national form is the ritual of circumcision and the forging of one nation under a Law from the twelve tribes of Israel. The nation was built on a forgiving act of brotherly reconciliation. It is deeply tied to the possession of a common land. It is ordered by a common law. Leaders rise as prophets, priests or rulers to keep the communal body in concordance with God. It is our hope that Catholic theologians and philosophers would spend some fraction of their attention on history and the relationships of the natural armed authorities, which constitute public life and the legitimate State.

Possibly the next three graduate students who request to study the Theology of the Body might be reassigned to a project studying how Singapore got to be the polity it is today. We could call it the "theology of the corporate body" if that would make this ancient study of the natural polity more palatable. It was such men making civic agreement and the peace of 'Tranquillitas Ordinis' whom Christ had in mind when He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

Marriage is an important but not all-embracing covenant. Neither the Church nor the nations are families writ large. Christ did not found His church on a sacral marriage, nor was the bond of sacred honor which forged America the union between George and Martha Washington! Both the Catholic Church  and the American nation are founded on sacral covenanted brotherhoods of adult men.  Religious and political public life are both defined by public communal and masculine loves which include the apostolic priesthood and the particular territorial loves of men for their fatherland. Christ wept over Jerusalem, not Antioch. More than 2000 years have passed and Jerusalem once again is guarded by a nation called Israel. Christ never ordered the apostolic Church to move beyond the nation. He said, "Baptize the nations." Those of us who believe the Trinity is the fundamental form of love and life can no longer ignore in our religious discourse the public form of communion -- the life of nations -- that God promised Abraham 4000 years ago.

The 20th-century Catholic thinker who best navigated in the waters of Christianity and the formation of political cultures in history was Christopher Dawson:

The most articulate explanation of the dilemma of present-day Catholic political thought, scissored between the sacral relations of marriage and the Church, has been presented by Russell Hittinger.

On Trinity Sunday let us pay heed to the nature of our communal bonds – all of which in their proper order give glory to that greatest of bonds – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

UPDATE: Here is an earlier review of Christopher Dawson’s Judgment of the Nations.

And a fascinating address given by Professor Hittinger on the troubled interaction of nations and theology.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, June 10

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch


The natural enemies of the resurgence of religious and national loyalties are the metropolitan elites who staff the globalist institutions and propagate the atheistic modernist worldview. In America that elite continues their frenzied resistance against President Trump. They are aided by "conservative intellectuals" who are champions of global free trade in the name of democracy and human rights. But democracy is turning up nationalists or religious movements as the winners of elections while Western human rights has morphed into what Pope Francis calls the new "colonization of gender ideology." A consistent theme of the conservative "never Trumpers" is their deep antipathy toward Russia. Thus the cosmopolitan elites can safely rely on John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Charles Krauthammer  to continue to undermine the President, especially in his most important foreign policy initiative of trying to bring an end to the cold war between Orthodox Russia and Protestant America.

South Korea under their new president is refusing a sophisticated US warning and air shield. China was against this deployment as well. They saw this technology as part of US encirclement more likely to be used against them than North Koreans. South Koreans understand that American bases are more likely targets than South Korean cities of a North Korean military initiative. The North Koreans are not stupid or crazy. They know the presence of western troops and dominance is a 200-year-old grievance that all Asian nations share.  Are they aiming at the cities of their countrymen or the military bases of the imperialists?  The South Koreans understand they may not need to protect their cities as much as we need to protect our bases. Our troops serve in Korea, as in so many places around the world, much more as a trip-wire than an effective deterrent. If our goal is Korean unification and true peace with China, we need a major rethinking of eastern theater strategy and military deployment for the United States.

The isolation of Qatar by the Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arabs and the condemnation of them by the 200 living male descendants of ibn Wahhabi splits the Sunni coalition aligned by President Trump and King Salman against Iran. It is Qatar's refusal to join an all-out war against Shiites and Iran that has earned them the Saudi expulsion. Qatar has always had an English side and an Arabic side. Qatar (pop. 300,000 -- but over a million foreign workers) is home to the bilingual media powerhouse Al Jazeera. They house CENTCOM's major airstrip in the Mideast and thousands of US troops.  They are an Islamist Sunni voice without being as radically Wahhabi as the Saudi religious establishment. They have reported about repression of Shiites in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia and by the Sunni king of Shiite Bahrain. They have supported a more populist form of the Islamic revival and with their media voice presented a challenge to the Saudi ruling family. They supported Hamas in the Gaza Strip and earned Israel's enmity. ( Qatar has expelled leading Hamas figures from their country in the last week as a concession.)  Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood against the military coup of President al Sisi.  They have many friends in Egypt but few in the ruling government. Here is a good comparative map and profile of the Gulf states. Turkey has assigned troops in Qatar to act as a tripwire against the Saudis. The Persian/Ottoman/ Arabic triangle is back with a deep Sunni-Shia divide in the background. But the deepest divide should be the Salafist jihadist Sunnis against other Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Qatar's openess to Shiites especially Iran does not make them worse than the Saudis. Quite the contrary--they could possibly stop the intra Islamic war against Shiites being waged in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.   The opposition to Russia from our foreign policy elite, our crippling association with Saudi Arabia, and the 38-year-old Israeli/Iran war are preventing us from forming the right coalition to isolate the real enemy and consolidate as allies the civilized nations against the jihadists.

The ISIS attack on Iran reminds us of the allies (Christian nations, Shiite nations and non-Wahhabi Sunni states) we think make most sense in this religious war. Our president and Defense Department don't see it that way. At least they are clear about how they see it. Here is a Brit who thinks it is time to stop demonizing Iran and build a coalition.


THE SUPERIOR GENERAL OF THE JESUITS - FR. ARTURO SOSA ASCOBAL - ON THE DEVIL: Before we discuss homosexuality, abortion, contraception, or communion rules let us correctly present the cast of characters in the Divine drama. The disbelief in the reality of the Devil is a much more fundamental error than disputes over the "ISSUES". Is the Devil a real being or a symbolic construct? Before people call for this man's removal as head of the Jesuits, let's get a show of hands (please take names) amidst the Jesuits how many of them agree with their superior. Get the big stuff out in the open so we understand how deep the reform must go. Right now there are a lot of priests and nuns who think the reality of Satan, as well as our single set of human parents, are issues already settled against Church teaching by modernist and scientific consensus. Many conservative intellectuals were shocked when Pope Francis said we cannot reduce the message of the Gospel to debates about homosexuality and abortion. But he never has failed to remind us that there is a much deeper  dividing line that exists between the mercy of God and the perfidy of Satan. Pope Francis wants the Church to be the sign of God's mercy to humanity. This clarifies for the Church and mankind our common perpetual enemy. There are a lot of clergy including the head of the Jesuits who don't see this fundamental struggle because they cannot see the fundamental foe. If we could agree as a Church on this basic reality, a lot of other "issues" might be clarified as well.

THE WITNESS OF THE COPTSNational Catholic Register editors.


A PLEA TO CONSERVATIVES TO IMPROVE DISCOURSE ABOUT ISLAM: David Rahimi of Texas at Witherspoon - an excellent lament naming the limited sources that are constricting Catholic internet discourse on Islam.

AN ARAB NATO: Friends of Israel never like the sound of that.

AFTER TRUMP VISIT - THE SUNNIS ARE SPLITTING, NOT UNIFYING: Qatar and Pakistan do not want an anti-Shiite alliance. The Wahhabi clerics speak as one and blast Qatar.

ARE WAHHABIS DISOWNING QATAR? The family which represents the clerical establishment in Saudi Arabia takes a stand against the home of Al Jazeera.


SHIITES IN BAHRAIN: IRANIAN PROXIES, GLOBAL TERRORISTS, OR AN OPPRESSED PEOPLE? Trump administration seems to have picked a side in the Saudi war against Shiites.


IN THE SINAI - BEDOUIN TRIBES VS. ISIS: Largest tribe fights back.

IRAN - A GOOD RECAPby Christopher Hill.


SENSELESS VIOLENCE OR SHIITE EXTERMINATION BY SALAFIST JIHADISTS? An ice cream shop with women and children blown up in Baghdad. Sounds like just more violence in the "endless cycle of violence." Not really. We must wake up. There is no Shia cry, "Kill all the Sunnis!" Most of the Sunni traditions do not cry, "Kill all the Shiites." But ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Wahhabi Salafists of Saudi Arabia advocate a purification of Islamic lands by ridding them of Shia Muslims, then Jews, and then Christians. This is the religious dimension of the war. This is the Sunni group that both Sunnis and Shia must defeat. This is who we must urge them to DRIVE OUT.

Can we blame Shia from Iran for helping the Shia of Iraq in defending their government from sabotage and their people from genocide? Can we blame the Shia anywhere for trying to stop the Wahhabi Saudi type of Islam from ruling their fellow Muslims? For all the welcome honest talk by the Trump administration, there are still things to be said that will make this conflict much more understandable and winnable. We are not with the Sunni against the Shia. We are with the Shia and the civilized Sunni against the Salafist jihadists - those evil losers are mostly Sunni from the Hanbali tradition taught in Saudi Arabia. Why are we killing Shia? The American left (especially the Nation magazine) has understood the brutality and nature of the Saudi religious cleansing in Yemen better than most conservatives. It is embarrassing that conservative Christians who honestly believe in religious liberty cannot learn enough about Islam to see the asymmetry in the Wahhabi vs Shia fight. It feels a lot like black on black violence in the inner city -- no time or effort to make crucial distinctions needed to side with the victims against the criminals.


MALE PROTECTORS KILLED WHILE DEFENDING WOMEN FROM PREDATOR: A Catholic military man and a good-hearted peacenik from Reed College: both did their duty. They are dead. The women are safe. This instinctual male readiness to protect, and the virtuous habit of overcoming fear. is the basic military bond that makes us a nation from sea to shining sea in every hamlet and village, on a transit train in Oregon and on an airplane in the skies of Pennsylvania.

TWO MALE EX-WHITE HOUSE STAFFERS WED BY JOE BIDEN: Another picture of male agreement blessed by the highest ranking Catholic official since John Kennedy. What was the cultural goal of the Obama administration? How deep is the acceptance of male homosexuality in that strange mix of Catholic urban culture mixing Democratic politicians, Chancery officials, Catholic Charities and social justice agencies?


RUSSIA AND INDIA: Short recap on their relations in terms of geopolitics of South Asia. A joint statement on nuclear power sharing.

ON RUSSIA: An outstanding essay by Eugene Vodolazkin at First Things. A few excerpts:
"He argues that men in the Middle Ages, compared to men in the modern age, were less individualistic, yet had much stronger and more stable personalities. In fact there is no contradiction. The modern age has promoted the development of distinct personal qualities and encouraged us to see ourselves as individuals rather than roles, but has isolated us from the truths that supply us with energy and rivet the mind. These were of course religious truths—they represent vertical connections."

"Celebrity marks an important instance. It is a status won by horizontal acclaim. The Middle Ages, by contrast, exalted sanctity, which flows from the vertical connection to God, not horizontal connections to others."

"The important point for our purposes is the following: A national leader, any national leader, does not appear accidentally, and when he does, he is called on to solve specific problems. At the same time, it is obvious that the problems, say, Charles de Gaulle faced were very different from those François ­Hollande faced. The example of Hollande testifies to the fact that the generation of faceless leaders is on the way out. The majority of those who are in leadership today serve as the final paladins of a departing historical cycle. What is coming will require a leader who is a reformer or even a revolutionary. As an epoch ends and a new one begins, such a leader is unlikely to exhibit the expected attributes of a responsible political actor. He comes to prominence because he manifests in the most vivid fashion the changes the majority has been waiting for. Perhaps this explains Donald Trump."

"But as often happens with phenomena that are not sufficiently grounded in reality, the ideas associated with globalism—peace through trade, world citizenship, an “international community”—took on a life of their own.

Where the Marxist utopia in Russia gave birth to terror, the globalist utopia in the West inspired “democratizing” wars and so-called “color revolutions.” This has been the subject of a great deal of discussion that I will not repeat. Leaving aside the damage inflicted on the countries subjected to “democratization”—a large number of direct and indirect victims, the replacement of traditional social structures by chaos—we can see the problems the globalist utopia creates in the West."

"Western Europe, Russia, and the United States represent various branches of a single tree. The basic systemic feature of this civilization is Christianity, both as a religious practice and as a specific kind of culture. If European civilization is fated to survive, it will require a rediscovery of Christianity. And that will take place both on the level of nation-states and at a pan-European level."
Finally on the article's theme of concentration:
"This age of concentration will also have a social dimension and expression. It will consist of the restoration of nation-states as the form for the existence of peoples. In comparison to the global frame of reference that was emphasized in the last half century, the national level will have priority.

One of the manifestations of the age of concentration will be the final rejection of any attempts to realize utopias such as communism in Russia and globalism in the West."