Saturday, December 28, 2019

December 28: The Feast of the Holy Innocents

[first published December 28, 2014]

David Pence writes:

The birth of a baby in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago revealed to chosen witnesses what his mother had kept hidden for nine months, and his Father in heaven had concealed before the foundation of the world. The angels sang hosanna from heaven, three wise rulers knelt to recognize a new kingdom was being established, and all wisdom would be recast in light of the star over the manger. The Jewish shepherds were there to acknowledge their Messiah and keep away the wolves. For whenever innocence and purity show their face in this still-fallen world, the wolves gather to destroy.

The day after Christmas, the Church reminds all whose hearts were warmed by the babe in the manger that Stephen was stoned for attesting to the baby-Savior’s true identity. Three days after Christmas, the Church liturgically remembers the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The three wise kings had bent their knees in homage and conformed their minds in faith. But a proud and ignorant Herod ordered a horrible bloodletting, so the screams of Jewish mothers losing their sons might erase the songs of joyous angels welcoming the Son of God.

Vigilant Joseph was warned in a dream of the danger and led his holy family hundreds of miles across hills and desert to the safety of Egypt. He must have pondered the death of so many sons of his countrymen as he guarded his sacred charges during the flight.

The Church also ponders their deaths on this day, and awards to those Holy Innocents the keys to the kingdom granted to martyred saints. Possibly their deaths and celestial fate may be a lesson for all who have suffered death as an "innocent:" the children at the time of Noah’s flood, the dutiful soldier drowned in the Red Sea, the cremated and tortured prisoners of the tyrants, the villagers buried by molten lava or a raging sea. This day we reflect on how deeply ingrained and inescapable is suffering to the Christian vocation. And, possibly, this day we can also find meaning in those other deaths of innocents -- the child or mother or father who appear on God’s strange and deadly list of patients afflicted by infection or malignancy. May all who experience the mysterious reality of human suffering know the crown of glory bestowed upon the Jewish baby boys who were killed at the births of Moses and of Our Lord.

UPDATE -- From a sermon by Saint Quodvultdeus (a student of Saint Augustine):
"When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and for ever in the life to come. 
"Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil...  
"How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory."

FINALLY -- on this day, we Americans are mindful of our own slaughter of innocents. In some ways it is more horrible that Rachel, instead of weeping, is the one who brings her babe to be slaughtered for career or convenience. Feminism is a bloody Pharaoh. When the sacred goods and the innocents are defiled, sometimes we must cover our own and flee as did Joseph. Other times we must remember  the Maccabees at Hanukkah and gather our brothers under the Father to stop the evil. For sure, we need a new approach as a profile movement organizing a culture of protection not making one more claim for rights.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

CHRISTMAS: “Mortals, join the mighty chorus / which the morning stars began”

[first published Christmas 2013]

David Pence writes:

On April 30, 1916, Germany and Austria introduced the first Daylight Savings Bill to reduce the evening use of lamplight fuel during the Great War. This resetting of clocks was to better harmonize man’s calculation of time with the physical experience of daylight in the summer months of the Northern Hemisphere.

On December 25th of every year, there is a world-wide resetting of our spatial-temporal and emotional clocks to an axial experience in the story of man. Every nation looks to Bethlehem, and remembers that in the time of Augustus Caesar a new Adam came to light their way. Our calendars pivot from B.C. (before Christ) to A.D. (annos Domini: the years of the Lord.) In the midst of that blessed night the Incarnation of Our Lord, which for months had been hidden in Our Lady, was made manifest to the Jewish shepherds of Israel. Days later the manifestation ('epiphany') would be experienced by the searching men of the Gentiles. It was a day that reordered the palette of human feelings by elevating joy in God’s presence over all the other emotions. The child in a crib reorganized the physical world bending a star toward Bethlehem to signal that all of matter had a new center of gravity.

Let angels and men sing the Good News – that the Creator of heaven and earth has come to pitch his tent among us. Let us rejoice and be glad. Let us never shrink this day that takes a season to celebrate into "all about family." To be sure families congregate to share the joy and awe but this is a cosmic feast day-an event for humanity.   The true Age of Enlightenment is upon us and our calendars proclaim the new beginning.



N.T. Wright on the word made flesh.

Chesterton on Christmas from The Everlasting Man.

The Poles share a special bread.

Puritans say a religious no while Victorians say a secular yes-A history of Christmas in America

And finally, from Dale Ahlquist and the American Chesterton Society --

Why is celebrating Christmas an act of defiance?

We should not be surprised that Christmas is controversial. After all, as G.K. Chesterton points out, the word consists of the two most controversial and divisive words in the world: Christ and Mass. And so, in a culture that is increasingly anti-Christian, and especially anti-Catholic, we can expect that celebrating Christmas is going to be counter-cultural.

But we are not celebrating it in order to defy the culture. We are celebrating it because we are happy. We commemorate a joyful event, and we commemorate it joyfully. Of course we will sing and pray and worship. We will also eat and drink and laugh. But the celebration is still an act of defiance. What we are defying, however, is much bigger than our current culture. It goes back much further. It goes back to Pagan times.

“Why, course!” you say. “The pagans didn't like Christianity, and so naturally, celebrating Christmas was an act of defiance against the ancient pagan culture.”

No, that's not what I'm talking about. In fact, Christmas is not an act against the Pagan culture, it is an act very much in keeping with the Pagan culture.

“What?” you ask, slightly startled.

You heard me. Chesterton says it is the one celebration that survives out of all the ancient festivals that once covered the whole earth: “Christmas remains to remind us of those ages, whether Pagan or Christian, when the many acted poetry instead of the few writing it.”

“What?” you ask again, because you have no idea what that means.

I will try to explain, and I will keep quoting Chesterton, who says there is in this old festival something that is both Pagan and Christian: “... that trinity of eating, drinking and praying which to moderns appears irreverent, the holy day which is really a holiday.”

You still seem puzzled, so you ask: “Are you saying Christmas is a Pagan celebration? That the Christians simply borrowed it from the Pagans?”

No, that's not what I'm saying. The Christian meaning of Christmas is certainly not borrowed from anywhere. It is unique. We believe that a virgin gave birth to God Incarnate, that the divine babe was worshipped by angels and shepherds and eastern kings, that he came into the world to save the world from the eternal self-destruction of sin. It was this good news that changed the Pagan world forever. How did it change? It became Christian.

But the celebration of Christmas, a feast that has continued for two thousand years and has spread across the world like light from heaven, has fulfilled a need that men have had for at least the two thousand years that preceded it, that continued through the next millenia after it as the Gospel spread to lands where similar feasts were held in the names of gods who are now no more than footnotes. The feast remained after the Pagan gods were gone. It became the Christmas feast, but the feast itself had an important meaning that also remained even after it was christened.

“Explain,” you say, now losing your patience.

No, I respond. I will have Chesterton explain: “Christmas occurs in the winter. It is the element not merely of contrast, but actually of antagonism. It preserves everything that was best in the merely primitive or pagan view of such ceremonies or such banquets. If we are carousing, at least we are warriors carousing. We hang above us, as it were, the shields and battle-axes with which we must do battle with the giants of the snow and hail. All comfort must be based on discomfort. Man chooses when he wishes to be most joyful the very moment when the whole material universe is most sad. It is this contradiction and mystical defiance which gives a quality of manliness and reality to the old winter feasts which is not characteristic of the sunny felicities of the Earthly Paradise.”

A feast in the middle of winter is defiant of the winter. A fire blazing indoors is defiant of the cold world outside. It is a bold act of faith to have such when the circumstances are completely against it. It represented hope on the part of Pagans. It represents fulfillment on the part of the Christians, for Christ has come. And it is fitting that Christ should come in our “bleak midwinter.” He is the light that comes into a dark world. He is the hope that comes in the middle of despair. The lonely world has been crying out for him. And he has come. His name is Emmanuel. God is with us.

The darkness has not overcome the light. The brute cold has not quenched the flame. So of course we celebrate. And the celebration itself has warmed the whole world. Even the newly-polished pagans and the half-hearted heathens of the modern world, who avoid Christ, cannot help celebrating with the Christians at Christ's birth. They want to join the winter feast rather than pretend to prefer the cold. Christmas is lovable, and they know it. Love and joy come to you, and to you a wassail, too.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Father and Sons Defending the Sacred: The Real Hanukkah Lesson for Christians

by David Pence

Hanukkah begins this evening. It will end in eight days. It is not "the Jewish Christmas." Several hundred years before Christ, the Greeks, the very cosmopolitan educated Greeks, ruled over Palestine. When Antiochus had become the ruler he sought a uniformity of customs and loyalty. Circumcision -- that sign between Abraham and G-d that all the males would shed their own blood to be united as a people in Covenant with the Almighty -- was banned. The sacred precincts of the temple were defiled. Women who had their sons circumcised "were publicly paraded with their babies hanging at their breasts and then thrown from the top of the city wall."


"... the Gentiles filled the temple with debauchery and revelry; they amused themselves with prostitutes and had intercourse with women even in the sacred court. They brought into the temple things that were forbidden, so the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the law." Most defilements were done by consenting adults and there were plenty of Jewish collaborators. "There was great mourning for Israel. Virgins and young men languished and the beauty of the women was disfigured. Her sanctuary was desolate as a desert. She became a stranger to her own offspring. Her feasts were turned into mourning, her sabbaths to shame, her honor to contempt. Her dishonor was as great as her glory had been and her joy was turned into mourning."

Against this sexual perversity so deeply linked with the defilement of sacral things, Mattathias and his five sons withdrew from the over-educated Greeks who scoffed at their ancient purity codes and rituals of divine worship. Before they organized to fight, the patriarch and the brothers "tore their garments, put on sackcloth and mourned bitterly." They knew the evil that had befallen their fellow Israelites followed their infidelity to G-d. They also knew they must organize to fight. They had seen a group of Israelites come before the Greeks and "refuse to profane the sabbath. Then the enemy attacked them and they did not retaliate... and they died with their wives and their children and their cattle to the number of a thousand persons." Mattathias resolved: "If we all do as our kinsmen have done and do not fight the Gentiles for our lives and our traditions they will soon destroy us from the earth. Let us fight against anyone who attacks us on the sabbath so that we may not all die as our kinsmen died in the hiding places." Mattathias and his men tore down the pagan altars. They also forcibly circumcised any uncircumcised boys they found in the territory of Israel." They stitched back together the only bond capable of ridding the land of abominations. They conscripted their state anew to guard the sacred of old.      
Sculpture of Mattathias by Boris Schatz (d. 1932)

"When the time came for Mattathias to die, he said to his sons, 'Arrogance and scorn have now grown strong, it is a time of disaster and violent anger. Therefore, my sons, be zealous for the law and give your lives for the covenant of our fathers." He appointed his son Simeon because of his wisdom to be "like a father to them," and appointed his son Judas (called Maccabeus, the 'hammer') to be "the leader of your army and direct the war against the nations." His sons and the men they gathered around them defeated the Greeks. They tore down the defiled altar and built a new one with uncut stones. They repaired the sanctuary and purified the courts. On the anniversary of the day the Gentiles had defiled the temple they reconsecrated the sacred precinct with song and acts of worship. For eight days they celebrated the dedication, and then "Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days…"

There are many tales of noble martyrs who refused to profane the commands of the Lord before the Maccabees restored a civic order in consonance with G-d's decrees. In the Book of Maccabees the most notable was the mother and her seven sons who refused to defile themselves by eating pork. The holy mother watched her sons be tortured and killed and urged them one after another to persist in courage. Then "her womanly heart with manly courage" was pierced as well. In the Babylonian Talmud there is the story of the miracle of the oil in which one day's supply lasted for eight.  When the Church recounts this re-dedication of the temple in her late November liturgy she couples the reading from Maccabees with the Gospel of Jesus cleansing the temple. Two centuries after the Maccabees, the Jewish convert from Tarsus asked Christians, "Do you not know that you are a temple of the  Holy Spirit?"

For eight days let us Christians look for the lights of the candles shining forth from Jewish homes. They are not lit for the use of the household, but to give glory to G-d by reminding all who see them that the sacred practices of a culture can only be protected if there are fathers and sons who will covenant together under God to fight for them.
Hanukkah candles in Jerusalem

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21

by A. Joseph Lynch


We now know the House Democrat's impeachment strategy was a kind of non-impeachment impeachment. The news tells us that Trump was impeached on two counts, yet Noah Feldman, a pro-impeachment Harvard professor and Democrat witness during the investigation, explains that impeachment is a process, not a vote. Impeachment, in other words, does not take effect until the two articles of impeachment have been sent to the Senate for trial. Trump is not impeached until the House tells the Senate he is impeached. It is now uncertain that this will take place.

Despite what Pelosi says, Trump has not officially been impeached.

The fact of the matter is that the Democrats have now fired everything they have at President Trump. From the "bullets" of their pundits to the "missiles" of the Leftist mainstream media - and now the "nuclear bomb" that is impeachment. The Democrats have nothing left to fire on the President.

Yet Trump's approval has risen and his advantage against Democrat presidential candidates grows.

If Pelosi refuses to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Trump will call impeachment "fake news" while McConnell in the Senate will continue to call Democrats "chicken" with cold feet. And if Pelosi makes impeachment official, the coming Senate trial will reveal the emptiness of the charges while derailing the candidacy of many Democrat presidential candidates from the Senate (who will be silently locked away in the Senate for six days a week during the trial). If questions emerge about Hunter Biden and Ukraine, it could also prove irrevocably damaging to Joe Biden's campaign.

Neither official impeachment nor non-impeachment impeachment are winning strategies. And in the battle for political power, the Democrats just ran out of ammo. 2020 looks to be a good year for President Trump and America.


FRANCIS AND MARY: Pope Francis has a deep devotion to Mary, in particular Mary as the Untier of Knots. Francis was blasted by conservatives this week after he rightly called the addition of new Marian dogmas "foolishness". As we wage war against the dark forces operating in the world, it is highly unlikely that we will rally our Protestant brethren to our cause by declaring Mary the Co-Redepmptrix or Mediatrix of all Graces, much less declare her the "quasi-Incarnation" of the Holy Spirit. Such unnecessary dogmas will create more knots that untie the many that confront us.

NO MORE SECRECY: Pope Francis has abolished the use of "pontifical secrecy" in its investigations of sexual predation among the clergy. More work remains, but this is a good move towards transparency.

QUO VADIS, HANNITY? FoxNews host Sean Hannity has officially left the Catholic Church. Hannity had questioned Church teaching the past, but has sadly now allowed the conservative assault on the Holy Father to drive him out of the arms of Mother Church.

THERE THEY GO AGAIN: Another Minnesota bishop is in the hot seat for covering up a homosexual predator priest. More from Church Militant.


IG REPORT: Some viewed the IG report as a bit of a mixed bag for conservatives, yet the Horowitz had a more limited scope and could not prosecute crimes. The report, however, was nevertheless damning. The fact that John Durham, who is in the middle of a much larger investigation with prosecutorial powers, publicly disagreed with some findings in the report, is a sign of things to come. Durham is now requesting the CIA for all communications records of former CIA head John Brennan, including Brennan's communications with former FBI Director James Comey. Brennan could face prosecution for lying to Congress after the IG report contradicted his testimony that the Steele dossier was not used during the Trump investigation. Last Sunday Comey faced off with a surprisingly fierce Chris Wallace. The IG report may not have had everything conservatives wanted, but there was enough there to brace us for what will come later this year in the Durham investigation.

DEMOCRAT FLIP: The Democrats in the House have gone so far to the Left, that they've officially forced one of their members - Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey - to join the Republicans. With all but two "moderates" voting to impeach, do they really expect to keep the House next year?

HARD LEFT "MODERATES": A smaller and whiter pool of Democrat presidential hopefuls debated this week. So-called "moderate" candidates Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg argued respectively for the destruction of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the name climate change and for $2.2 trillion in reparations to illegal immigrants. If these are the moderates, who can beat Trump?

CHRISTIANITY TODAY: Founded by Billy Graham, the Evangelical magazine is calling for Trump's removal from office. This has sparked quite a reaction from conservative Evangelicals, including Graham's son, who has declared his father indeed voted for Trump. Although it is shrinking there is still some fight left in the conservative "Never Trump" movement.


SAUDIS AND PAKISTANIS OPT OUT: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were noticeably absent from a large gathering of Islamic leaders in Malaysia this week. It is said that Pakistan's prime minister, who played a large role in organizing the meeting, was pressured by the Saudis to pull out of the meeting at the last minute. While other Muslim nations seek to address Islam in the world the Saudis refuse to share the stage with rivals and continue on their own path of Wahhabi radicalism.

INDIA AND RELIGIOUS IMMIGRATION: As Muslims met in Malaysia, the Indian government moves forward on its religiously-based citizenship legislation. Despite accounting for less than 15% of the total population, India is now the third largest Muslim nation in the world. India's new law has been criticized for not extending citizenship to Muslim migrants, yet it must be noted that Muslim migrants in India have Pakistan and Bangladesh bordering India - both are in the top five largest Muslim countries in the world. For the Christian migrant - in many cases persecuted by Muslims precisely in Pakistan or Bangladesh - where's the nearest Christian nation? We should applaud India's move to extend citizenship to those religiously persecuted with no where else to turn.

BREXIT MOVING FORWARD: After 847 days of campaigning against Brexit, the Brit known as "Stop Brexit Man" has officially given up. After clearing Parliament this week with a massive 124-vote majority of 358 for Brexit to 234 against, Brexit is set to take effect January 31. We hope other European nations will follow suit.


MEN'S ROOM TAMPONS: The ACLU is demanding the defense of "menstrual  justice" by ensuring access to tampons in men's restrooms. Another reason why we need laws protecting gendered bathrooms.

SANTA'S GENDER: Liberals demand an end to "Father" Christmas.

FLAG BURNER GETS 15-YEAR SENTENCE: No, he didn't burn an American flag. That's "protected free speech". He burned a gay pride flag. The inversion of justice continues.

MORMON'S ARE OUT: Around 400,000 Mormons are in the process of leaving the Boy (and not Girl) Scouts. The number accounts for about 18% of the organization's membership. Member dues are now set to nearly double next year. None of this bodes well for the "diversifying" organization.

HOMELESS DIRECTOR RESIGNS...: ...after hiring a transsexual stripper to perform at a conference on homelessness. We can't make up insane stories such as this. 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14

by A. Joseph Lynch


For all their talk about quid pro quos, extortion, and bribery - not to mention the obstruction of justice argument laid out by Bob Mueller last July - Democrats refused to include any of them in their two official articles of impeachment.

Instead we hear of the nebulous "obstruction of Congress" and "abuse of power." Neither are "high crimes" nor impeachable offenses. Under scrutiny, both utterly fall apart.

It its defense against the obstruction charge, the Trump administration reminds us that there are three branches of government, not two. If Congress wants documents and testimony from that which is under executive privilege, Congress will need to take it up with the courts. Trump is invoking and defending the constitutional rights of the executive branch, not committing an impeachable act of obstruction.

As Pat Buchanan recently wrote in this regard: "Can Pelosi seriously expect a Republican Senate to convict and remove a Republican president for defending what that president is claiming in open court are the constitutional rights of the Executive Branch that he, as its present occupant and leader, is obligated to defend? Trump would be derelict in his duty if he allowed a rogue House to run roughshod over the White House."

The abuse of power charge is even more laughable. It has two parts. The first part claims that Trump used his office to hurt Biden's election campaign. Yet as we've seen time and time again (see below for the most recent example), the gaffe-prone Biden is always his own worst enemy. Trump has nothing to fear from a Biden candidacy, and not once during the impeachment hearings was a witness asked whether or not Trump expressed any concern over facing Biden in the coming election. What's more, both President Trump and President Zelensky deny any pressure regarding an investigation into Biden corruption.

The other aspect of the abuse of power charge is a direct attack on Trump's plan - and right - to realign American foreign policy towards Russia. A recent article on impeachment explained that this realignment is "the core allegation against Republican Trump" and is "the sort of conduct the founders considered impeachable." It quotes a Georgetown law professor as saying: "The U.S. has a national security interest in Ukraine and it does appear that what the president was doing was putting that national security interest at risk..."

The law professor should stick to law and allow our elected officials to decide what is and is not a national security interest. Trump was elected to make foreign policy decisions and he must not be threatened with impeachment when he makes them.

At the heart of the impeachment debacle is not so much hatred for Trump or Trump derangement syndrome. The globalists see the nationalist Trump as an existential threat to liberalism's global domination. Unlike any other politician, Trump is re-framing American politics and foreign policy in terms of nationalism, populism, and religion. The globalists simply cannot abide any possible alliance with Christian Russia that may emerge from this shift.

Impeachment is their only solution. In the end, however, impeachment will not be based on quid pro quos, bribery, extortion, or obstruction of justice. It will be based on two articles that assault the executive branch's (1) right to executive privilege and (2) right to make foreign policy decisions. Impeachment on these grounds must fail.

It remains to be seen if it will even pass the House.


PETER'S PENCE: Reports emerge that a mere 10% of donations to the Vatican's leading charity goes to charitable causes. Much of the rest goes to pay Vatican bills. We'v heard of robbing Peter to pay Paul, but now it seems the Vatican is robbing the Poor to pay Peter. It's very unlike the poverty-minded Francis to allow this. Major financial reforms at the Vatican remain necessary.

TAGLE TO THE VATICAN: The Cardinal archbishop of Manilla is moving to the Vatican as the new Evangelization head. While not AoA's pick for next pope, this move does bring Tagle one step closer to the Chair of St. Peter.

FR. MARTIN'S NEIGHBORHOOD: A look at Fr. Martin versus love and martyrdom for truth.


NEW FRONT RUNNER: In a new survey, Hillary Clinton was chosen as the new front runner for the 2020 Democrat presidential race. This comes as Biden's "no malarkey" bus tour hit a road bump after Biden called a Democrat caucus goer a liar for questioning the Biden's connection to corruption in Ukraine. Biden went on to call the man "fat" and challenged him to a push up contest. The gaffe-prone Biden is at it again.

TRUMP WINNING: Axios released an article and excellent chart tracking Trump advantage/disadvantage in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It should be no surprise that impeachment is actually helping him pull ahead in all three swing states.

NO RECESS APPOINTMENTS: Trump has set a record for choosing to limit the exercising of his right to recess appointments. Thus far he has made zero recess appointments. With the exception of the short-lived presidency of William Henry Harrison, he is the only president to have no recess appointments.

TRADE DEAL - USMCA: The same day the House moved forward with impeachment, it secured the USMCA trade agreement between the US, Mexico, and Canada, which will update the bad deal that was NAFTA. The Senate, however, announced it must wait until the impeachment proceedings - including a Senate trial - are complete before passing USMCA, pointing out again how Democrats are holding America's economy hostage over faux allegations against the president.

TRADE DEAL - CHINA: This week it was also announced that a tentative deal has been reached with China. The deal is limited, but is aims to bring an end to the trade war.


BREXIT WINS: Our Lady of Guadalupe delivered Britain victory on Thursday's election. Conservatives won their biggest victory since Thatcher in the 80s. Brexit appears to be back on track. The conservatives picked up 47 seats, bringing them to a total of 365 (326 were needed to win a majority). Liberals meanwhile lost 59 and are now down to 203 seats, around half of what the conservatives now hold.

TRAINING CANCELLED: After last week's terror attack in Florida, the Pentagon was wise to cancel training for Saudi personnel - both pilots and soldiers - with the exception of classroom time. More is needed, but this is a first step towards recognizing our "ally" is not what it seems.


MOTHERHOOD OR CAREER?  Nearly 370 women lawyers who have had abortions have filed a brief with the Supreme Court ahead of an upcoming abortion case. They tell the court that the killing of their children helped their careers and that it should remain legal. In Isaiah, God asks the rhetorical question: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?" (Isaiah 49:15). According to these women, it appears the answer is: for a law career, yes.

LEWD LIGHTING: A woman in Kansas City decided to decorate her rooftop with sexually explicit Christmas lighting arrangements. Another sign the culture is losing the spirit and meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

December 12: Queen of Mexico, Our Lady of the Americas

[first published on December 12, 2014]

by David Pence

On October 12th of that seminal year of 1492, Cristóbal Colón named the land he sighted on the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar after her son: San Salvador. Thirty years later (1519-1521) Hernando Cortez would defeat Montezuma and the Aztec Empire, establishing the new Spain and eventually the nation of Mexico. Ten years later (1532-33) his second cousin, Francisco Pizarro, would defeat Emperor Atahualpa of the Incas in Peru. These military victories would set the groundwork for the Spanish nations of South and Central America.

In the same era another event would lay the "true spiritual foundation of America -- and of all the nations of the Americas -- North and South." The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Nahuatl convert Juan Diego (December 1531) would synthesize the indigenous natives and Spanish warriors into a single La Raza. She appeared as an Aztecan beauty and told Juan Diego’s uncle (whom she healed) that her name would be Santa Maria de Guadalupe. This was the same name as the black Madonna of Castile – an inspiration to the Catholic warriors who established the nation of Spain through the Reconquista against the Muslims. That centuries-long war ended in 1492 just as Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon) planted the Christian vine in the Americas. She said she would be “the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind.” She was both of the natives and of the Spaniards, and she left Castilian roses and the name of a river in Spain to accompany her beautiful native countenance. (The Spanish Guadalupe and the meaning of the Crescent)

As Catholics gather in ever growing numbers on this American feast day, let us honor Mary and her Son by deepening our public bonds of religion and  national citizenship. Our Lady of Guadalupe integrated cultures in her very person and provided a path to the syncretistic national identities of 8 million converted Aztec Indians and the evangelizing Catholic conquistadors.  Gathering to acknowledge her loving motherhood, hundreds of miles north and half a millenium later, may our liturgical actions forge the new personalities of Catholic nation men who belong to the supernatural organic community of the Eucharistic Church as well as the covenanted civic brotherhoods of our respective nations.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, who called her appearance “the spiritual foundation of the Americas,” has written a little masterpiece on immigration.  He categorizes immigration reform as a religious project, for America is a spiritual adventure. It is here in America that Chesterton says a “cosmic commonwealth” is being formed by “molding many peoples into the visible image of the citizen.” Archbishop Gomez, unlike all too many immigration proponents, sees a restoration of the idea of citizenship and an integrating Americanization as the necessary spiritual alternative to the "anarchy of diversity" and the destructive bias of "our elites" against "the ideals of citizenship and integration around a common national identity."

On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Catholics across the Americas will unite as brothers and sisters under our common mother. On other days our civic task will be to reestablish the distinct religious national brotherhoods of the United States and Mexico, which have been so frayed and torn in this age of atheism. May we mend our sacred flags and meet our complementary destinies as Christian nations acting in history to fulfill God’s Providence. We must ask the Queen to bring forth new Cristeros. Authoritative masculine civic personalities will be the blessed "peacemakers who will be called the sons of God.”  A strong Catholic Mexican leader must regain control over outlaw provinces and diabolic criminal networks. A renewed Christian America will be led by men reasserting the police power of  states to once again outlaw those federally sanctioned abominations that would make an Aztec blush.  May Our Lady of Guadalupe provide the spiritual ground where brother nations can stand in fraternity to do the Will of Our Father.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Dec 8th -- IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: She who is the greatest instrument of the Holy Spirit

[first published December 8, 2013]

In a pure act of mercy and grace God called Mary into existence free of original sin  to be the new Eve. This truth was long held by Christians, but formally acknowledged by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

Amidst these years of too many corrupted churchmen, it is no coincidence that the two infallibly declared papal dogmas of the last two centuries  define the spotless beginning and the incorruptible end of Mary’s life when she shattered the ultimate glass ceiling. These truths remind us that at her core the Apostolic Church is Marian, and she hath not sinned. It is a singular gift to the Catholic imagination that we have a feminine beauty to inspire our poems, our songs, and our prayers. Her ever-pure life cleanses the mind that contemplates her. Our understanding of Mary is a school in which we learn to understand our own human nature. For those of us who love her, humans are never by nature either neutered or depraved.

"Mary Immaculate, star of the morning,
  Chosen before the creation began,
Chosen to bring in the light of thy dawning,
  Woe to the serpent and rescue to man.

Here, in this world of both shadow and sadness
  Veiling thy splendour, thy course hast thou run:
Now thou art throned in all glory and gladness,
  Crowned by the hand of thy Saviour and Son.

Sinners, we worship thy sinless perfection;
  Fallen and weak, for thy pity we plead:
Grant us the shield of thy sov’reign protection,
  Measure thine aid by the depth of our need.

Bend from thy throne at the voice of our crying,
  Bend to this earth which thy footsteps have trod:
Stretch out thine arms to us, living and dying,
  Mary Immaculate, Mother of God."


On this feast of the Immaculate Conception, here is part of a prayer by Saint Maximilian Kolbe:
O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you…
For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin. 
R. Give me strength against your enemies.

Father Kolbe organized his spiritual Militia in fealty to her who "cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array" (Song 6:9).

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception  was recently crowned with its finally completed Dome of the Trinity. The Immaculate Conception is the patronal feast of the American Church. Ponder this prayer that Pope Francis wrote to the Immaculata:

"O Mary, our mother,
today the People of God feast in hailing you as Immaculate,
preserved forever from the contagion of sin.
Receive the homage I offer you in the name of the Church
that is in Rome and across the whole world.

To know that you, who are our Mother, are totally free from sin
gives us great comfort.
To know that, over you, evil has no power, renews our hope and strength
in the daily struggle that we must undertake
against the threats of the evil one.

But in this fight we're not alone, we are not orphans, because Jesus,
before dying on the cross,
gave you to us as our Mother.
We, then, while being sinners, are your children,
sons and daughters of the Immaculate one,
called to that holiness which shines in you from the beginning by God's grace.

Enlivened by this hope,
we today seek your motherly protection for us,
for our families, for this city, for the entire world.
May the power of God's love, which preserved you from original sin,
through your intercession, free all humanity from every spiritual and material slavery,
and make victorious, in our hearts and in events, the design of the salvation of God.

Make it so for us, your children, that grace might prevail over pride
and that we might become merciful
as our heavenly Father is merciful.
In this time that leads us to the feast of the Birthday of Jesus,
teach us to go against the current:
to strip ourselves, to lower ourselves, to give of ourselves;
to listen, to be quiet, to focus away from ourselves,
so to make space for the beauty of God, the source of true joy.

O our Immaculate Mother, pray for us!"

UPDATE -- It is on this day in 2015 that the Holy Father is instituting a Year of Mercy:
"I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: 'Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36).' "

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7

by A. Joseph Lynch


Each 9/11 anniversary, the late Dr. Pence reminds us to remember, reconsider, redirect. We must remember 9/11, reconsider our alliances, and redirect our strength to fight our true enemy. The terrorism that claimed British lives on London Bridge and American lives in Pensacola, came at the hands of Wahhabi - not merely Islamic - extremists. In the case of Pensacola, the killer - like the majority of 9/11 terrorists - came from Saudi Arabia and was a student pilot.

Saudi officials have condemned the attack, but when will we learn? It is now reported that Trump may send an additional 7,000 troops to the Middle East to counter Iran. Is this America First? Is this an end to needless foreign wars? And most importantly, is Iran really our enemy? While Saudis kill Americans, Iran announced this morning it is releasing an American student suspected of espionage.

In the wake of the recent killings, let us remember, reconsider, and redirect with Dr. Pence:
We now hear officials and some newsmen say that 9/11 was caused by "radical Islamic terrorism." That... is not enough. That brand of radical Islam which attacked us had a launching pad in Afghanistan but they had a home base as well. The Islamic radical movement which struck us comes from a particular school of Islamic law. They have a territorial address. But after seven years under President Bush, eight years under President Obama, and three years under President Trump, we have not given them a proper call back yet. Let us remember, let us reconsider, let us redirect.


NATIVITY SCENES PLEASE: Pope Francis has asked for Nativity scenes to be on display in town squares and in schools. We need to be reminded that Christ is the reason for the season. It revolves around Him, not consumerism.

SHEEN BEATIFICATION ON HOLD: Total nonsense from US bishops with a grudge against one of the finest men our nation has produced. More solid reporting from Church Militant.

BUFFALO BISHOP OUT: Bishop Malone of Buffalo has finally resigned. We covered Malone in July after it was reported that he "attempted to place a predator gay priest in a parish with a grade school, recently said that gay priests are here to stay, falsely asserting that gay men in seminary have only to be chaste for three years before ordination." There's much more that could be said about Malone, including another predator homosexual priest and a potential cover up of a dead Buffalo priest who might have been murdered.

DULUTH BISHOP DEAD: Bishop Sirba, who had some involvement in the Wehmeyer sex abuse cover up, is dead.


PEARL HARBOR AT 78: Today is the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A short AoA reflection.

POVERTY INTERNMENT CAMPS: California is on fire, rocking from earthquakes, and flesh eating bacteria is killing California drug addicts. With the extremely wealthy living next door to the poor, California is becoming a dystopian nightmare. Now California is considering the forcible internment of the state's homeless.

REPORTER FIRED: As President Trump surprised the troops in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving, a Newsweek reporter issued a story and tweet that the president was spending his Thanksgiving by "Tweeting, Golfing, and More." The fake news led to the reporter's rightful firing.

FAILED HARRIS CAMPAIGN: The Kamala Harris campaign is over. Her descent began with the Tulsi Gabbard take town we covered in an August Weekly Brief, and sputtered out after a damning letter from a former campaign aid accused her of poorly treating staffers. With Harris out and Booker narrowly holding on, Democrat presidential contenders are looking older, whiter, and wealthier every day - a problem Michael Bloomberg can't fix. More from Pat Buchanan.


CONSERVATIVES WIN IN URUGUAY: Check Turley video for more and with a list of other Latin American nations to swing right.

EPSTEIN AND ISRAEL: Was Epstein an Israeli spy?

LEGITIMATE WORRY: Gorbachev sees the danger in eastern Europe and warns against rising hostilities.


LONDON BRIDGE TERROR: Usman Khan, a Wahhabi extremist of Pakistani birth, was killed in a brutal knife attack on London Bridge. Overlooked in the reporting is the fact that a group of heroic men brought Khan's knifing to an end. These men - including a reformed prisoner involved in a previous killing - didn't let Khan's knife or bomb vest, which turned out to be fake, stop them.

THROWING PUNCHES: A new twist was revealed in a recent story about a group of boys attacking two lesbians in an "homophobic" attack: it turns out that one of the lesbians threw the first punch.

MANAGER FIRED: Both the barista and manager of an Oklahoma Starbucks have been fired after the barista labeled drinks for police officers on Thanksgiving as PIGS. This was absolutely the right move as the buck must stop with the manager - but now it's being revealed the manager is transgendered. He says he feels like a martyr and is considering a lawsuit. It remains to be seen how Starbucks will handle the new situation.

IT'S ABOUT MEN, NOT ENVIRONMENT: Radical Left-wing environmentalist, the newly popular Great Thunberg, now admits her efforts are not to fight climate change but to fight "patriarchal systems of oppression."

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

December 3: Saint Francis Xavier--Completing the Body of Christ in the East

Francis Xavier was among the original companions of Ignatius Loyola. They had a different view of male fellowship in their beginning. Instead of  "small group accountability self help sessions" or even worse the affectionate perversions of spousal friendships, the 16th century brothers in Christ took the globe and divided it among themselves for the Kingdom. Xavier was sent to the East.

A men's group feeling accountable:--Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Peter Faber

 In India he wrote:

"Many people hereabouts are not becoming Christian for one reason: because there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of going around to the Universities of Europe , especially Paris, and everywhere crying out like a madman riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: "What a tragedy; how many souls are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you."   

After his work in India, roughly five centuries ago, Francis Xavier stepped ashore the southern port city of Kagoshima.  The Gospel had arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Francis was enchanted by the people: “It seems to me that we shall never find…another race to equal the Japanese.”

From a letter that the Basque saint wrote to his fellow Jesuits back in Europe:
“The Japanese doctrines teach absolutely nothing concerning the creation of the world, of the sun, the moon, the stars, the heavens, the earth, sea, and the rest, and do not believe that they have any origin but themselves. The people were greatly astonished on hearing it said that there is one sole Author and common Father of souls, by whom they were created. This astonishment was caused by the fact that in their religious traditions there is nowhere any mention of a Creator of the universe. If there existed one single First Cause of all things, surely, they said, the Chinese, from whom they derive their religion, must have known it. For the Japanese give the Chinese the pre-eminence in wisdom and prudence in everything relating either to religion or to political government. They asked us a multitude of questions concerning this First Cause of all things; whether He were good or bad, whether the same First Cause were the origin of good and of evil. We replied that there exists one only First Cause, and He supremely good, without any admixture of evil.”

The Japanese who did come to embrace the fullness of the Faith were remarkable in never flinching at the “cost of discipleship.”      Our review of the chilling novel of Japanese Christianity, The Silence.   The unique view of Singapore's  Rev. Dr. Simon Chan on Christianity and evangelizing Asia-  Grassroots Asian Theology         Our Review.


The definitive authority on the interplay of Catholicism and Japanese national culture  is Professor Kevin Doak. Our review of Japan's Holy War by Walter  Skya on the sacral nature of Japanese Shintoism.

Pope Francis has a very Jesuit approach to the great eastern nations including China. He is not betraying the Church in China.  Just as the Church must breathe with both lungs and reconcile with Eastern Orthodoxy so the Body of Christ is incomplete without humanity's elder brother of China, and the other great civilizational nations of the East--  Japan, Vietnam, and Korea.  There is no better feast day to look seriously at true reconciliation of our nation with these great civilizational national cultures.  There are all sorts of candidates running for the American Presidency stoking enmity with Russia, Iran or China.  If there is enough hatred and fear, Americans might think we need the pugnacious leadership of a Niki Haley or Marco Rubio  to protect us from these perils. On this feast day let us remember the  Jesuit missionaries and especially Francis, the missionary of the East, who sought to draw men into Christian fraternity not Darwinian war.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

ADVENT and the three comings of Christ

(first published December 1, 2013; edited 2017)

by Dr. David Pence

The Church year begins today as we enter into the Advent season to prepare for the Coming of Christ in History, in Mystery, and in Majesty.

First we recall the long period of history before He came to Mary at the Annunciation and was born in Bethlehem the first Christmas night. We reflect on the setting aside of Israel and the setting aside of Mary – the perfect temple who is a template for our souls. But the significance of Christ's entrance into history cannot be confined to the short time humans have been on earth. His coming is the cosmic culmination of matter itself.  The Incarnation of Christ is the epicenter of natural history, in that physical matter now has a new interpersonal center of gravity in Christ and His Queen Mother. The great mass of the physical universe dissipates into space while the tiny earth is set aside for life. The garden is set aside for man, the Israelites for Mary, and Mary for Christ.  His life and death will form the center of human history as he makes holy the forms of interpersonal communion that will be the foundation stones of a Living Temple. He establishes his holy priesthood. His sacred brethren will man the Ark of the Church and lead the hunt to separate the Evil One from the communion of the living.  Christ has come in history.

The separative and unification acts which characterized His coming in history are continued in the liturgy. The Holy Spirit draws mankind into the Trinity by incorporation in the Body of the Son. The Apostolic Church fishes for men dispersed at sea and reconstitutes mankind through Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. This present-day coming of Jesus is fully experienced only in the sacramental life of the Church. His Real Presence is still with us here on earth. We are not just with Him but becoming Him through the Eucharist. Being in the state of grace secures us to an ark of angels and saints amidst the floodwaters about us. The unspeakable intensity of this Eucharistic incorporation has always made Catholics less likely to discuss our day-to-day "personal relationship with Christ".  Theosis  or becoming a member of the Mystical Body of Christ through sanctifying grace seem better ways to express this sacramental reality.  Christ comes today in mystery. 

Christ has established His Kingdom on earth and is reorganizing all social relations around the Eucharistic priesthood, the sacrament of marriage, and the covenants of the nations. He is moving history to its culmination when He will return amidst his angels and the Church to fully restore His kingship by uniting the submitting nations and dispersing the Evil One from the earth. We are not waiting for our individual souls to go to heaven. We are working to draw humanity into the Body of Christ. That is truly the Opus Dei which Christians share. Led by the Holy Spirit, we conspire to make humanity fit to be the Body of our returning Head. This is the one true world wide conspiracy. We have put on the Heart of Christ and are building the Kingdom on earth to be consummated in the fitting time of the Lord. Our mission is to be sure at that time of the final separation and expulsion, the Devil gets as few of our people as possible.   Christ is coming in majesty. 

So let us begin our Advent – the little Lent in which we set aside some part of ourselves to better attend these three comings.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30

by A. Joseph Lynch


Impeachment is failing. Time for Plan B. Don't take it from AoA; that's the headline from Left leaning, The Week. The hard-Left outlet, The Washington Post, hasn't had much better to say with their piece entitled, the Democrats' impeachment obsession is backfiring, which opened by saying their obsession with impeachment "could prove to be the biggest political blunder in modern times." In more news from the hard-Left news site, Mother Jones is admitting, "Yep, Impeachment Is a Yawner," and reporting that "the impeachment hearings appear to be a bust." During Thanksgiving week, Congressional Democrats from Trump districts were hammered by anti-impeachment ads and slammed at town hall meetings.

While the impeachment boondoggle is becoming an anvil around the necks of Democrats, it has become a boon for GOP fundraising and for Trump in particular. Congressional fundraising reports revealed that - no surprise - celebrity Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised the most money of any congressional Democrat. At $1.42 million this past quarter, Cortez out-raised Nancy Pelosi ($1.26 million) and Adam Schiff ($1.14 million). Yet many Republicans congressmen out-raised Cortez. It's reported that Steve Scalise ($3.45 million), Devin Nunes ($2.6 million), and Kevin McCarthy ($1.6 million) all out-raised the Democrats' biggest celebrity in Congress. With Trump out-earning Obama at the same period of their respective presidencies, we might soon see a repeat of 2004 and 2016, when the GOP swept the House, Senate, and Presidency.

Impeachment is becoming a no-win scenario for Democrats.

If the Democrats can muster enough impeachment votes from Trump district Democrats the Senate trial will not bode well for them. The GOP will now set the rules. After rejecting testimony based on hearsay, virtually every witness called by Schiff will be dismissed outright while Republicans will undoubtedly call the so-called whistle blower, Adam Schiff, and the seemingly corrupt father-son Biden duo to testify. The timing of course will also be terrible. While destroying the Biden candidacy, the trial will certainly keep the presidential contenders from the Senate - Booker, Harris, Warren, Sanders, and Klobuchar - tied quietly to their Senate season and off the trail during the heart of the campaign season. In the end, Trump will be found innocent and the Democrats - along with the Left wing media - will look like fools. Swing district Democrats - who ran on fixing America's problems - will certainly face a swift and terrible backlash at the ballot box come November.

The Democrats could instead opt not to vote on impeachment in the House and instead censure President Trump. The time for censuring, however, is past. As one columnist put it: A censure is "[n]ot happening. If Democrats walk away from impeachment now, Schiff and his enablers will not just have egg on their collective faces, they will have an entire omelet."

One way or another, the end of impeachment is nearing.


THANKSGIVING: Don't call it Turkey Day. Another article about the Puritans from Trevor Thomas.

EX-NFL PLAYER'S ANTI-CATHOLICISM: Ex-NFL star Larry Johnson took to social media to reject celebrating Christ's birth on December 25. Johnson repeated a tired myth (refuted by apologist Jimmy Akin) that the Catholic Church is pagan, commemorating Christ's birth on date common to paganism.

THE FAITH OF CHILDREN: Scientific research indicates belief in God is built in.

LIFE COMES FROM LIFE: You can't give what you don't have - biological life cannot exist without spiritual life preceding it.

POPE FRANCIS IN JAPAN: Pope Francis is the first pope in nearly forty years to visit Japan. Read our book review of Silence, a Catholic novel about 16th century persecution of Catholics in Japan.

FEAST OF ST. ANDREW: Read and reflect on the Apostle and the monks of Mt. Athos.


HURD'S BOGUS WARNING? Retiring Never-Trumper, Will Hurd, is warning the GOP that it must diversify if it is to survive. When the fellow Never-Trumper, Mitt Romney managed to win only 6% of the black vote while President Trump is currently polling at 34% approval among blacks, we can all tell where the diversity deficit can be found.

RECORD MARKET: The markets closed for their 100th record high under President Trump. If markets predict elections, Trump is looking very good for 2020.

IS ANYONE WATCHING? As liberal politicians, along with CNN, MSNBC, and the broader left wing media continue to cry wolf - first in the Russia hoax, and now in the Ukraine hoax - their loss of credibility is leading to a loss of viewers. Viewership of the impeachment inquiry dropped day by day while viewership of the latest Democrat debate hit another low of only 6.5 million viewers. Axios is reporting that the hit character "Baby Yoda" from the new Star Wars TV series is beating every 2020 presidential contender combined with the exception of President Trump.

THE FART HEARD AROUND THE WORLD: One Democrat member of the House Intel Committee let it slip that impeachment really is a bunch of hot air.


SYRIA FALSE FLAG: Last June we covered false flag allegations behind the chemical weapons attack in Syria. More allegations have been made and largely left uncovered - with the exception of Tucker Carlson (FoxNews' best newsman).

NO GAY MARRIAGE IN CHINA: Last May Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage. Meanwhile China recently affirmed it's adherence to traditional marriage. Why are we defending Taiwan again?

HINDU-INDIAN POLITICS: Modi of India continues to press home a Hindu nationalist agenda with particular animus to it's old enemy Pakistan and its Islamic population. He is now moving to extend citizenship to non-Muslims immigrants in India as a census is prepared that might undercut Muslim representation and lead other Muslims to expulsion from the predominantly Hindu nation.

NATIONALIST WINS SRI LANKA: A Buddhist nationalist has been elected to lead the tiny island nation off the coast of India. Dr. Steve Turley explains this results and the nature of Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka.

BREXIT TO WIN BIG? The Brexit party has evaporated as the Brexit vote is falling behind Boris Johnson's conservatives - who now hold a 19 point edge in the polls ahead of next month's elections. The numbers indicate the biggest win for British conservatives since Thatcher.

"BRAIN DEAD" NATO: Macron of France recently declared NATO "brain dead." Pat Buchanan concurs.


HAIDT ON RITES OF PASSAGE: Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explains the needs for initiation rites, especially for males.

BINGE DRINKING UP, BIRTHS DOWN: Binge drinking among childless women in their 30s and early 40s has doubled in the past ten years. Meanwhile the US fertility rate hit an all time low in 2018. Other reports have shown that wealthier zip codes have markedly lower birth rates. Careers and houses come at a cost more terrible than money.

LIEUTENANT GENERAL DEMOTED: Lieutenant General - make that Major General - Lee Levy was demoted and discharged after making comments he'd make to any other male officer... except it was to a female officer. Our language should change when speaking to ladies, but is the US military the appropriate place for "ladies and gentlemen" language or is the place where men learn how to speak to other men?

CRYING FOWL: Cambridge has removed the 17th century painting, The Fowl Market, after its depiction of butchered animals offended vegan students. If university is meant to help us prepare to enter the world, pulling down the fine art is not helping these students one iota.

Nov 30: Saint Andrew and the 2,000 Byzantine monks on the Holy Mountain

[first published November 30, 2016]

MOUNT ATHOS in northeastern Greece is one of the powerhouses of prayer that keeps our tired old world going -- because sturdy men of faith submit their hearts to God.

On this feast day of the Holy Apostle Andrew, it is right that we deepen our understanding of our Christian brothers in Greece and Russia. East and West, the bonds of a praying brotherhood define the monastic and Apostolic Church. But in the heart of this all-male environment where even the animals must be male, there is a special presence and she is decidedly feminine.

"There are 20 monasteries on Mount Athos of which 17 are Greek, one Russian, one Serbian, and one Bulgarian. There are also twelve Skites (similar to monasteries but much smaller), a large number of Kellia (large farm houses), Kalyves (smaller houses), Kathismata (small houses for a single monk) and Hesychasteria (hermitages or caves in desolate cliff faces, for the most austere hermits)."



From the parish bulletin of a Russian Orthodox church in Minneapolis:
Last October, Fr. Andrew and I visited Mt. Athos, affectionately known as the Garden of the Theotokos. As we experienced this beautiful place where God’s glory seems to radiate from everything, we were made aware of her presence. When we spoke to the monks in that holy place, they would refer to her and say things like: "Whatever the holy Mother wants." They live in humble submissiveness to her and understand the value of her intercessory prayers and guidance. We met an older monk on one of the remote walking paths by his hut (it was very old and abandoned-looking), who explained to us that he had lived 30 years alone with the Mother of God in "her garden." 

Sit back and enjoy one of the finest segments that has ever appeared on "60 Minutes."


UPDATE: Here is a short video of one of President Putin's visits to Mount Athos. He was joined by the Patriarch of Moscow.

Let us praise Andrew, the herald of God, / the namesake of courage, / the first-called of the Savior’s disciples / and the brother of Peter. / 
As he once called to his brother, he now cries out to us: / "Come, for we have found the One whom the world desires!"

Thursday, November 28, 2019

THANKSGIVING: Don’t call it Turkey Day

[first published November 22, 2012]

David Pence writes:

Thanksgiving Day is an embarrassing holiday for the atheists. Whom should one thank?

Nonbelievers first turned this day of formal national prayer into a rekindling of an earlier bliss betwixt Pilgrims and Indians. A little rewriting, and secularists turned the feast into a memorial of Pilgrim settlers thanking the native-born Americans for their ecological wisdom that allowed us a full table and survival through the winters. As usual, the guilt-ridden white folk reminded us of something true but missed the real story. There were formal acts of prayerful thanksgiving before we became a nation but unfortunately for the Protestant imagination the first such acts were in that old liturgical  form of the Catholic Mass.

The Pilgrim parable was soon debunked by Indian activists who reminded the well-meaning storytellers that the only gifts white men gave Indians were smallpox blankets. "Who wants to celebrate that, white man?"

Instead of returning to the first Congress or Washington or Lincoln to get the holy day back on track as a civic duty of a repentant nation to a Sovereign God, our adaptable consumer culture had a new answer. Let the appetites be sacralized! There was a surge to elevate not "Whom We Thank" but "What We Eat." Turkey Day was proclaimed!

No more messy cross-cultural narratives. Instead of asking that our sins be forgiven and as a nation we bow to God, a turkey was pardoned and the whole affair was consummated in a next-day orgy of shopping called Black Friday. That spin-off Feast Day is demanding a vigil service of its own, which may drive the whole embarrassment of public thanksgiving to God  back in the memory hole where school prayer now abides.

Contrast our evolving celebration of  Black Friday Eve with George Washington’s understanding of Thanksgiving Day in the first sentence of his 1789 Proclamation:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to recognize the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…” 
Contrast Turkey Day with the content of his prayer:
“And also that we may unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually…” 
This is a day as a nation we are supposed to perform a religious duty -- to ask forgiveness and give thanks to a Divine Ruler who governs not only the lives of men, but the public communal forms of men: the nations. That is what Congress requested Washington to declare; and that is what this national day of prayer for forgiveness and thanksgiving is still meant to be. Let us assemble in our houses of worship, at community kitchens, and at our family tables but remember we are acting as members of the larger national political community.  Let us ask God forgiveness for turning away from Him and allowing these sacred goods to be defiled: His holy Name, our sacred flag, our national brotherhood, the institution of marriage, the protective love of mother for child, and the sacred virginity and innocence of our young. In Lincoln's words: "with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience...we fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."

UPDATE: Be sure to check out Andrew Lynch's essay.

The Thanksgiving proclamation of our First Continental Congress.
 A reminder from "War on the Rocks" that Thanksgiving is a holiday forged in national wars.
  Lincoln declared the last Thursday of every November as a national holiday at the bequest of Sara Josepha Hale, editor of the popular magazine, Godey's Lady's Book. 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Bending the knee to "Christ the King of Fearful Majesty" as the Church Year ends with the final Drama

[first published November 25, 2011]

"Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice."  (Gospel of St. John)

Dr. Pence writes:

The liturgical year of the Church ends with this feast day to remind us how sacred history will come to its fulfillment with the return of Christ as King. Yes, Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior. He is also the Ruler of Nature, the Lord of History, and the Slayer of the Leviathan.  We know Him in the Eucharist as we are becoming not his friend, but incorporated in His Body. We remember his Incarnational transformation of physical nature at the Annunciation, and we await his triumphant coming again as Head of the Mystical Body incorporating all of humanity in Himself. Catholics are always living within these three comings of Christ. Maybe because the Eucharist is less like friendship and more like incorporation, we don’t emotionally emphasize our "personal relationship with Christ" -- but we look, instead, from the vantage of Holy Communion, both backward and forward to the actions of the Cosmic King.
          The feast of Christ the King was  instituted by Pope Pius IX in 1925 as atheistic movements were persecuting Catholics in Spain and Mexico and the Orthodox in Russia. In his encyclical Quas Primas he asserted the independent authority of the Church in relation to States. He also asserted that political communities were subject to the authority of Christ as well. Christ is King of the whole man and the whole of his social relations. This feast calls Christian men to understand that civic life cannot be divorced from God. As we deepen our bonds in the church we must shape our nations as well in a fraternal international order in consonance with Divine Providence. Establishing the Kingship of Christ is more a matter of ordered loves than creedal assertion. Christ the King and devotion to the Sacred Heart are deeply tied. Pius IX ordered on this day every year that MANKIND be consecrated to the Sacred Heart.  Politics is one of man’s  highest callings when understood as forming fraternal bonds to provide for the civic common good by enforcing justice. Such a city on a hill gives honor to Christ as King and Lord. A man is a sign of Christ when he exercises legitimate authority. This feast is a good day to reflect on this dimension of Christian identity. We are meant to be rulers over ourselves first. The father and mother are to rule over their children. Politically men are called to establish law and order to rule our civic communities and lastly as a human race we are ordered to have dominion over the earth. It is a great threat to both Church and State that the ruler as an integral part of the Christian personality has become so neglected. This is particularly true in the priesthood which is the primary Christian template of a fraternity of ordered love and authority.

Christ shows us not only the face of God, but He has enlightened us to our own true nature as well. Man is by nature a eusocial organism in which all of humanity is united in  an interpersonal union headed by the alpha male. That is our final perfection as creatures truly made in the image of an interpersonal Trinity. On our way to that final union we live in the communal forms of marriage and nations. Christ’s Kingdom on earth is His Father’s Kingdom. Christ is King, but he is a Son as well. We are incorporated in his sonship-filiation. This is what we pray for in the prayer He taught us, that the rule of the Father would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let us bow to the king and accept the order of patriarchy. A particular concern of Pius IX in declaring this feast was to reassert that modern man is not an emancipated individual but still a subject to the authority of the one true King. Let us contemplate this final feast in the Church calendar, in order to better greet the baby at Christmas and receive His Body in the Eucharist -- remembering that when the trumpet finally sounds, indeed, he will "bestride the narrow world like a Colossus" and Eternal King


UPDATE -- A stanza from a translation of the 'Te Deum':

"From Thy high celestial home,
 Judge of all, again returning,
 we believe that Thou shalt come
 in the dreaded Doomsday morning;
 when Thy voice shall shake the earth,
 and the startled dead come forth."