Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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!"

Sunday, November 28, 2021

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 27, 2021

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 27

by A. Joseph Lynch


TERROR IN WISCONSIN: Darrell Brooks, Jr. has been arrested for using his SUV to plow through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The suburb of Milwaukee had fallen prey to the far left takeover of the justice system as Brooks was out on a mere $1000 bail after allegedly attempting to run his girlfriend over with the same SUV he used to murder at least seven people in the parade. Brooks, a BLM supporter and amateur rapper, sung about being a terrorist and seemed to call for violence against white people. He may also be a sex offender and child sex trafficker. Although the local authorities resist calling Brooks' act of mass murder an act of terrorism, it's not hard for a citizen with common sense to disagree. Even a BLM activist has pointed out that Brooks' actions might be the beginning of "the revolution" - but what revolution? The war on working class whites? The creation of a new black nationalist nation? Brooks should be the living proof of the dangers of ethnic/racial nationalism in America and the BLM movement that pushes it.

BIDEN'S CABINET DISASTER: Although Biden receives his fair share of criticism, the level of incompetence among his cabinet members and closest officials is something of a marvel. Buttigieg is too busy calling America's infrastructure racist to fix America's commercial transportation system. The Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, has no idea how much energy America uses. Merrick Garland, the US Attorney General, is eager to weaponize the DOJ against concerned parents and investigative journalists. The head of the joint chiefs, General Mark Milley, embraces woke ideology while seeming to admit to back channeling with a potential US adversary. Jake Sullivan, Biden's National Security Advisor, appears to be caught up in the "Russiagate" affair. And last - but certainly not least - Biden's own VP, Kamala Harris, holds the record for the least popular VP in decades with a shocking 28% approval. If his goal was to surround himself with imbeciles, then bravo Joe Biden, you succeeded.

US OIL RELEASE: Biden has pushed forward with the release of some 50 million barrels of oil after he failed to gain much traction with other nations to do the same. It's been reported that 50 million barrels of oil will only support 2.5 days of America's oil usage. Meanwhile OPEC has threatened to cut production by whatever amount is released by the US and those nations cooperating with the US. In the end, Biden has helped to deplete our strategic oil reserves, angered OPEC, and made no impact on the energy crisis.

MORE COVID DEATHS IN 2021 THAN IN 2020: Despite the vaccine rollout that began in January, more Americans have died from the coronavirus in 2021 than died in 2020. One might wonder what good a vaccine mandate will really do, not only given these numbers, but also when one considers the emerging omicron variant spreading outwards from Africa.

FOXNEWS RESIGNATIONS: Trump-hating Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes have resigned from FoxNews over an upcoming Tucker Carlson special on the January 6 Capitol Riot. Carlson continues to be FoxNews' best host and investigative journalist. We applaud the resignations and look forward to the upcoming special.

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

Thursday, November 25, 2021

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. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

NOVEMBER 22 -- The Maturation of Christian Manhood: John Kennedy and the Spiritual Destiny of Nations

[first published 11/22/13]

Dr. David Pence writes:

"A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket." 
         (Charles Peguy)

A half-century ago, on the feast of Saint Cecilia, an armed atheist assassinated the first Catholic President of Christian America. It was a well-aimed blast. Those ringing shots of death silenced the voice of an elected Knight who was calling his nation and other nations into an articulate and armed defense of the ordered liberty that is the hallmark of Christian civilization. 

John Kennedy was a masculine liberal. He went forth to lead the land he loved, knowing that establishing a just political order amidst the nations was an assignment that God had given the laymen of the Church that claimed him since infancy. Deep in his heart, in his mind, and in his soul he understood that our shared identity as Americans was built on a band of brothers who had fulfilled a sacred obligation. When he spoke, the timbre of his voice called men into that band of brothers. Women cheered that such a bond would protect them.

When he spoke in 1960 to the Houston Ministerial Association on the religious question, he turned their eyes outward to the atheist menace that threatened Protestant and Catholic alike in our shared nation under God. He reminded them there was a military oath that secured religious liberty in the dangerous world of tyrants and the mass armies of paganism. That same military oath drew together Catholic and Protestant men at the Alamo. Only the record of their last names would attest their ancestral faiths, for "there was no religious test at the Alamo." It was this brotherhood of battle that Washington had hoped would leaven the national feelings of affection among Americans. It was such bonds that Lincoln proposed as the sinews of a new nation baptized in the bloodshed of Gettysburg. It was such bonds that the patriarch Abraham marked in that first shedding of male blood to forge a public. All nations were blessed in Him when he fathered the masculine covenant that sustains every nation.

On that day in Houston, Kennedy reminded the religious men of duty who gathered to hear him that he, his fallen brother, and they were bound by a common civic duty. He offered himself to fill the office, which would govern the military brotherhood, which secured their liberty as ministers to fulfill their religious obligations to God. He ended his oration reminding his listeners that the presidency was an oath, and he had taken oaths before -- "so help me God."

A decade before his speech to the Protestant ministers, Kennedy explained his understanding of the person, national loyalty and the Kingdom of God to students and faculty at Notre Dame.  

“You have been taught that each individual has an immortal soul, composed of an intellect which can know the truth and a will which is free.  Because of this every Catholic must believe in the essential dignity of the human personality on which any democracy must rest… A Catholic’s dual allegiance to the Kingdom of God on the one hand prohibits unquestioning obedience to the state on the other hand as an organic unit.”

Five months before his assassination, Kennedy demonstrated his providential view of the role of nations in the destiny of mankind during his visit to Ireland.


“For the Ireland of 1963, one of the youngest of nations and the oldest of civilizations, has discovered that the achievement of nationhood is not an end but a beginning. In the years since independence, you have undergone a new and peaceful revolution, an economic and industrial revolution, transforming the face of this land while still holding to the old spiritual and cultural values…

"Self-determination can no longer mean isolation. No nation, large or small, can be indifferent to the fate of others, near or far. Modern economics, weaponry and communications have made us realize more than ever that we are one human family and this one planet is our home.

" 'The world is large,' wrote John Boyle O'Reilly.
'The world is large when its weary leagues two loving hearts divide,
But the world is small when your enemy is loose on the other side.'

"The world is even smaller today, though… across the gulfs and barriers that now divide us, we must remember that there are no permanent enemies. Hostility today is a fact, but it is not a ruling law. The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God and our common vulnerability on this planet.

"Some may say that all this means little to Ireland... It may be asked, how can a nation as small as Ireland play much of a role on the world stage?

"I would remind those who ask that question, including those in other small countries, of the words of one of the great orators of the English language:
'All the world owes much to the little five feet high nations. The greatest art of the world was the work of little nations. The most enduring literature of the world came from little nations. The heroic deeds that thrill humanity through generations were the deeds of little nations fighting for their freedom. And oh, yes, the salvation of mankind came through a little nation.' "

John Kennedy as a Catholic man of the Irish tribe integrated the male citizenship of powerful and accomplished Anglo-Saxon Protestant America. He furthered this integrative work by proposing immigration reform no longer linked to racial ancestry quotas. He, slowly but then surely, argued the case for racial integration. Like Eisenhower before him, he sent federal troops to save black students from the fury of the huge popular protest movements against integration. The first cries of “power to the people” against authority in the 1960s were white mobs opposing integration.

Catholic Kennedy had argued that public offices could have no religious test. In his televised address to the nation on civil rights he proposed that America could not fight tyranny abroad if it was not colorblind at home. “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution… I want to pay tribute to those citizens North and South who have been working in their communities to make life better for all. They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency. Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom's challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage.”
Always he spoke of honor, courage, and shared duty.

That November when he died had begun with the assassination of two Catholic brothers who were fighting for their Asian nation in the struggle against the armed atheism of state tyrannies. On All Souls Day the president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu were assassinated in a military coup inflamed by newspaper reporters, and instigated by the new US Ambassador and members of our State Department. The CIA, the US military, and the Catholic Attorney General opposed the killing. President Kennedy mismanaged the rift in his government leading to the killing he called "abhorrent." The Mandate from Heaven was removed from both Catholic Presidents that month of the dead in 1963.

John Kennedy, like King David, marred his public life by sins of infidelity. Like King David he wept at the death of an infant son; and like David, his older son would die hanging between heaven and earth. He paid for his sins against marriage with the deaths of his male heirs. He paid for his betrayal of his Asian Uriah with his own death by the hand of their common atheist foe.

An ancient Roman liturgy, which he attended on Sundays and Days of Obligation, shaped John Kennedy. He knelt to pray and went to auricular confession. He lit candles in churches all over the world for the soul of his brother killed in a naval plane crash over the English Channel. He saw religion as a public duty to the Sovereign of the nations. He saw the nation as a brotherhood of protectors, and he understood an alliance of nations as the agents of History. He had a deep Catholic sense of humanity as one, and a sailor’s view of the earth as a small ship upon the sea of the universe. He knew what Nikita Khrushchev knew and Mao Tse-tung did not appreciate. He knew nuclear war must be prevented. He also knew what both of them knew: that there was a great conflict about how mankind should be organized. He wanted the flourishing of free nations under God. The Communists would use "national fronts" to re-institute the Tower of a Globalist Atheist Babel, which needed no god and would in time dispense of the churches, nations, and families.

A hero like Kennedy has many descendants who claim his name but few men who share his heart. He tried to replace the overwhelming technology of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) with Special Forces of men who would fight on the ground and win the hearts and minds of the new national leaders of Africa, South America, the Mid-east and Asia. He would replace the fleets of nuclear bombers with Green Berets and helicopters for security; and the Peace Corps and water wells for infrastructure and education. Launching unmanned drones inside Muslim nations and bombing the Orthodox cities of Serbia as a substitute for foot soldiers countered his legacy.    

He was no stuttering king in the war against the armed atheists of state tyrannies. Archbishop Philip Hannan, the combat veteran who gave JFK’s funeral homily, built it on Kennedy’s Scriptural syntax. The celibate combat bishop and the biblical fighting liberal are men our nation needs again. Their world was one of embedded un-chosen obligations, marked by protective duties assigned by gender, and priestly piety and purity proclaiming the supernatural order. On this feast of the virgin martyr, whose sweet life made her the patron of music, let us remember the warrior king who made words beat to move the hearts of his countrymen:  
“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

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."

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20

by A. Joseph Lynch


INTRO TO WORLD RELIGIONS: If you haven't watched, don't miss out on the livestreams over at Religion, Sex, & Politics from our very own A. Joseph Lynch. This past week Lynch hosted a livestream on world religions - the first in an eight-part series that not only examines the major religions of the world, but also places these religions within the context of geopolitics and the plan of divine providence.

VATICAN LOSING MONEY: The Vatican took a loss of $135 million on a scandal-plagued London property deal. The lost money of course comes from charitable donations by the faithful who never intended their donation to go to shady property deals. The scandal has already seen the indictment of ten, including one cardinal.

WOMEN WEARING VEILS: An excellent defense of women veiling in church from Dr. Taylor Marshall.


NOT GUILTY - RITTENHOUSE RELEASED: After a tense courtroom battle that included an astounding number of alleged acts of prosecutorial misconduct and a potential rogue juror or two, Kyle Rittenhouse - who had killed two in self-defense and wounded a third during last year's Kenosha riots - was found not guilty on all counts. Most reasonable lawyers believed this case should never have been brought, especially when video evidence clearly shows his innocence. Yet the far left has weaponized the office of district attorney throughout much of our nation, meaning more and more cases like Kyle's will be brought. One expert self-defense attorney is now recommending states pass "Kyle's Law", a law that will help restrict DA's from weaponizing their prosecutorial powers for partisan witch hunts. 

PARTISAN WITCH HUNT: Speaking of partisan witch hunts, as the Left implodes in the polls, all they can do is double down on their partisan witch hunt aimed at President Trump. The congressional commission on January 6 - a total joke of a commission - has now arrested Steve Bannon. Does anyone else remember when the Left warned Trump against legally pursuing Hilary Clinton, arguing it would make America a third-world dictatorship that weaponized the state to wage war on one's political opponents? 

BIDEN-HARRIS UNPOULARITY: The left-leaning polling outlets Quinnipiac and USA Today are giving poor marks to Biden and Harris. According to Quinnipiac, Biden now stands at a dismal 36% approval, while USA Today reports that Harris' approval is much worse at a mere 28%. Harris is the most unpopular vice president in decades, fairing worse than Dick Cheney. Now that's saying something. Meanwhile, "Big Tech" is seeking to prop up their partisan allies by hiding dislikes on Biden's WH YouTube videos (which receive massive "ratios" of dislike-to-likes).

US ECONOMIC WOES: Inflation in the US is skyrocketing. Projections for October predicted an inflation rate of about 5.9% in comparison to October 2020. The number was actually 6.2% - and many believe the number is much higher than that. It was the highest increase in decades. It's now said that the new infrastructure bill will ensure inflation continues through the midterms next year.  Meanwhile Pete Buttigieg - the homosexual transportation secretary who has no experience in transportation or commerce and is just now returning from a two month vacation - plans to focus on the "racism" built into America's infrastructure while admitting supply shortages will continue. And the woes continue at the pump as gas prices climb higher while Biden considers "helping the environment" by closing yet another pipeline. Prices are skyrocketing and shelves are emptying, but rather than fix America's economic woes, Biden and Buttigieg can do nothing but print more money, complain about racism, and place environmentalism above the needs of ordinary citizens. It's not so much that they seek to directly harm America, but rather that they can only think in terms of these economic and social categories. Ideology limits one's vision and reduces his conception of reality. Biden and Buttigieg are clearly held captive by their ideologies.


WAR ON RUSSIA CONTINUES: Although members of the GOP have a better plan for US domestic policy, they are still totally off base when it comes to Russia. Republican war hawks are demanding the US send troops and weapons to Ukraine - an act certain to cross a Russian "red line" - and sanction the new Russian pipeline to Germany (partly at the behest of Ukraine). The pipeline gives Russia the ability to bypass Ukraine, which will ultimately destroy Ukraine's economy as it depends on Russian energy transit fees for cash while siphoning off gas from the pipelines for energy. Europe, however, is dependent on Russia natural gas and depleting its reserves as the new Russian pipeline sits empty awaiting the EU's (delayed) approval. Any US sanctions or further EU delays put the people of Europe in jeopardy as the harsh winter approaches. It should be no wonder why France announced it will resume building nuclear power plants. Meanwhile the US has reactivated its hypersonic missiles in Europe for the first time in decades while indicating that in a future war with Russia the US will go nuclear more quickly than in the past. Why the belligerence against Russia? NATO (and Secretary of State Antony Blinken) claims the Russians are building up forces in preparation for a Ukrainian invasion. The problem is that both the Russians and the Ukrainians are denying any such build up!

BELARUS-POLAND BORDER CRISIS AND THE UK: The West recently attempted to overthrow the pro-Russian government in Belarus (a coup attempt seemingly organized by the US and UK). Given this it comes as no surprise that Belarus is taking advantage of the EU's pro-immigrant stance by attempting to release some 3,000 migrants into the EU via Poland. Poland is up in arms (literally) and perhaps rightfully so. Meanwhile the Russia-hating Boris Johnson of the UK - who foolishly asked the British people to sacrifice their winter heat and power in order to help Ukraine - has accused Russia of attempting to destabilize the EU and has sent UK troops to help "defend" Poland. This come as thousands upon thousands of migrants illegally enter the UK by crossing the English Channel from France (last week over 1,000 crossed illegally in just one day). Where are the troops to defend the UK? Where are the calls to punish France for "destabilizing" the UK through weaponizing its migrants? 

BOSNIAN SERB INDEPENDENCE? The leader of Bosnia's Serb region of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, is calling for greater independence of his people and closer ties with Serbia and Russia. War-torn Bosnia was once a part of Yugoslavia and is to this day divided into three ethno-religious groups: Croat Catholics, Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian Muslims (known as Bosniacs). On paper each group has its own semi-autonomous powers but all three have largely let federal control exercise these powers. Dodik, however, is calling for Bosnia to follow the laws as written - and he has the backing of Serbia and Russia. It's no longer the 1990s. Strong, Orthodox Russia will play a role to defend its Orthodox allies in the Balkans.


LEGITIMIZING PEDOPHILA: A "nonbinary" university professor in Virginia recently argued that "minor attraction" (also called pedophilia) isn't always immoral. She's currently been placed on leave following righteous outrage at her remarks. This is but the latest attempt to legitimize pedophilia - and sadly it will not be the last.

NO-NONSENSE IN RUSSIA: Russia continues to show it's serious about protecting the sacred in Russia. A couple has been sentenced to ten-months in prison for photographing themselves performing a simulated sex act with Moscow's grand Cathedral of Christ the Savior in the background. The Russians understand that a culture of life is a culture of protection - and the first thing to protect is the sacred.

NO CONTEST: A "gender-fluid" teenager in Virginia has pled no contest to a second allegation against him of sexual assault in a girl's bathroom. The case marks renewed calls to protect young girls from boys entering their bathrooms under the protection of "trans" rights. As we saw in the bogus prosecution of Kyle Rittenhouse, leftist control of state powers is used not to protect the innocent but rather to ensure the innocent can be preyed upon by allies of the left. Further proof of this weaponization of political power and institutions came as an FBI whistleblower revealed the DOJ activated its counterterrorism division against parents who protest matters like "trans" teens preying on their daughters. Everything the Left falsely accused Trump of doing is in reality being done by the Left. The midterms can't get here quick enough.

PROJECT VERITAS VS THE FBI AND THE NYT: Project Veritas - perhaps the only true investigative reporting outlet in the country - is in the middle of a lawsuit against the New York Times for defamation. It appears there is some collusion between leftist partisans in the US Government and the New York Times as the FBI recently raided Project Veritas and subsequently someone in the government leaked private communications between Project Veritas and its legal team. Would it be at all surprising for leftwing members of Biden's Department of Justice to use a bogus investigation to take information from Project Veritas and give it to the leftwing NYT? The lawyer for Project Veritas thinks it quite possible. Again we see the weaponization of state institutions to favor the Left and its allies.

NO PFIZER VACCINE DATA UNTIL 2076? The FDA wants to wait to release Pfizer's vaccine data... until 2076. Hiding data for the next 55 years makes us doubt this will make people feel better about getting the jab.

BUTCHERED DURING BLACK MAGIC RITUAL: A man turned to black magic after his wife left him not long after their wedding. But during the dark ritual the man was butchered by the occult practitioner whose help the man had sought. One might describe it as "black magic gone wrong" - but the reality is that black magic can never go right.

Friday, November 19, 2021

November 19: “Give rest, O Savior, to the soul of thy servant”

“…whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…”   
                           (Ishmael in Moby Dick)

Entering this week of high anniversaries of President Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg (Nov 19, 1863) and of John Kennedy’s death in Dallas – as well as the liturgical year drawing to a close, with the Church bowing before the authority and power of Christ our King – the opening scene of Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago came to mind:
They walked and walked and sang “Memory Eternal,” and whenever they stopped, the singing seemed to be carried on by their feet, the horses, the gusts of wind. Passersby made way for the cortege, counted the wreaths, crossed themselves. The curious joined the procession, asked: “Who’s being buried?” “Zhivago,” came the answer. “So that’s it. Now I see.” “Not him. Her.” “It’s all the same. God rest her soul. A rich funeral.” The last minutes flashed by, numbered, irrevocable. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and those who dwell therein.” The priest, tracing a cross, threw a handful of earth onto Marya Nikolaevna. They sang “With the souls of the righteous.” A terrible bustle began. The coffin was closed, nailed shut, lowered in. A rain of clods drummed down as four shovels hastily filled the grave. Over it a small mound rose. A ten-year-old boy climbed onto it. Only in the state of torpor and insensibility that usually comes at the end of a big funeral could it have seemed that the boy wanted to speak over his mother’s grave. He raised his head and looked around from that height at the autumn wastes and the domes of the monastery with an absent gaze. His snub-nosed face became distorted. His neck stretched out. If a wolf cub had raised his head with such a movement, it would have been clear that he was about to howl. Covering his face with his hands, the boy burst into sobs. A cloud flying towards him began to lash his hands and face with the wet whips of a cold downpour. A man in black, with narrow, tight-fitting, gathered sleeves, approached the grave. This was the deceased woman’s brother and the weeping boy’s uncle, Nikolai Nikolaevich Vedenyapin, a priest defrocked at his own request. He went up to the boy and led him out of the cemetery.

“Alleluia. Weeping at the grave creates the song.”

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul

[first published November 18, 2015]

by David Pence

The Catholic Church on this day each year celebrates the dedication of the churches of St Peter and St Paul in Rome.  St. Peter and St. Paul drank of the Lord's Chalice and were both martyred in Rome.  “Those two famous shoots of the Divine Seed burst forth in a great progeny.” Their sacral brotherhood of blood served as the foundation stones of the apostolic Church.

Their tombs were pilgrimage destinations from the beginning. The basilicas were built over their sacred remains by Constantine in the 4th century, and then refurbished and rededicated in later centuries. Christianity’s priesthood  is centered in Rome where the graves of the martyred blood brothers signal the early development of Christ's Body as surely as Bethlehem and Nazareth. The reclamation project of winning back territory from the Prince of this world is celebrated especially when a sacred space is carved out of the land and stone to consecrate a church.  

Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls

Interior of St Paul's

Basilica of St Peter

The Chair of Peter upheld by
Saints Ambrose, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Nov. 9th -- Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome: Sacred Space and the Cleansing of the Temple

(first published November 9, 2014)

by David Pence

It may seem odd that a feast day celebrates the consecration of a church. Think of it as a time to reflect on all the ways God and his Church have set aside sacred space to bring Creator and man in closer union. Out of nothingness, he set a platform of matter where man could stand and know and love. In the hostile expanding universe, He set the solar system and earth in just the right place for life. Then, from inanimate matter he enclosed a cell: a set-aside enclosed space which is the structure of all physical life. He set aside a garden amidst the earth for the best of his handiwork.

After man was cast out from the holy place because he defiled it, Noah and his sons were instructed to set aside an ark where they could survive the Deluge. God made all the men under Abraham a set-aside sacred brotherhood when he ordered them circumcised. When He gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He also instructed him in building a new sacred space: the Ark of the Covenant. There God would dwell amidst his elected people. That holy chest of the desert wanderers eventually became the Temples of the Promised Land. And from that Jewish culture came the Virgin-Mother, the new sacred Ark. She was set aide in her beginning by her Immaculate Conception and at her earthly end by her Assumption into Heaven. She was the ultimate sacred space. And He dwelt among us.

There is a setting aside of sacred spaces, and days and persons, because the whole of matter and living beings is not destined to be drawn into the Body of Christ. There is a separation which makes this ground here, holy; and that ground over there, profane. There is a separation that will send the devil to Hell, while drawing the poor in spirit into the Body of Christ. Maintaining this separation is so crucial to the divine plan that spaces and persons which have been consecrated must be destroyed or purified if they become contaminated. The root of the word "holy" actually means "set aside or separated."

The celebration of Hanukkah by the Jews is an 8-day commemoration of the Purification of the Temple after it had been defiled by a desecrating Greek king. When the Maccabees cleansed the temple altar from the Greek abominations, they destroyed the old altar and then rebuilt a new one. The Maccabees could end the desecrations only by warfare. They were led by a father and his sons. Once again we hear the biblical lesson that without a fighting patriarchal fraternity there is no defense of the sacred center. (Hanukkah really isn't "the Jewish Christmas.")

The liturgy of this day reminds us that human beings are temples of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God dwells within us. Ezekiel has his vision of the sanctifying sacramental graces flowing like a river from the new temple of the Church. This day's Gospel recalls the Maccabees. Christ swings a purging whip to cleanse his Father’s house. In that same week on the night before he dies, he will do his other great pre-Crucifixion purifying act when he cleanses his sacred Apostles of the Judas-priest and orders them to do the same through the ages. Today, let us reflect on sacred spaces and our duty to keep them pure.

by El Greco (d. 1614)

UPDATE: The Lateran in Rome  was dedicated in November 324. It was the first  Church built in Rome after Constantine's Edict in 313 allowed Christianity a recognized public identity.  Emperor Constantine convoked the first Ecumenical Council - at Nicaea -- the following May.

"The beauty and harmony of the churches, destined to give praise to God, also draws us human beings, limited and sinful, to convert to form a “cosmos,” a well-ordered structure, in intimate communion with Jesus, who is the true Saint of saints. This happens in a culminating way in the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the “ecclesia,” that is, the community of the baptized, come together in a unified way to listen to the Word of God and nourish themselves with the Body and Blood of Christ. From these two tables the Church of living stones is built up in truth and charity and is internally formed by the Holy Spirit transforming herself into what she receives, conforming herself more and more to the Lord Jesus Christ. She herself, if she lives in sincere and fraternal unity, in this way becomes the spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.
Dear friends, today’s feast celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: God’s desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-24). But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God. Every community therefore has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony. For this we call upon the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she help us to become, like her, the “house of God,” living temple of his love. "
— Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, November 9, 2008

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Religion, Nations, and Geopolitical Review: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6

by A. Joseph Lynch


RELIGION, SEX, & POLITICS LIVESTREAMS: If you haven't watched, don't miss out on the livestreams over at Religion, Sex, & Politics from our very own A. Joseph Lynch. Thus far there are one hour long presentations on the Mass, the Bible, the Eucharist, and Evangelization. Next week, in honor both Veteran's Day and Dr. Pence's birthday, Lynch will be hosting a livestreamed Men & Maps presentation on Geopolitics in 2021.

BIDEN MEETS WITH POPE FRANCIS: Rumors swirled that Biden was pressuring the Pope to say Biden's stance on abortion was in line with Catholic teaching - so the Pope cancelled all live press coverage of the meeting. What was said between them behind closed doors is up for grabs, but judging by his botched answer to a reporter's question about his discussion with Francis on abortion, Biden's answer seemed rehearsed and likely untrue. Also stemming from the meeting was #poopgate. According to rumor around the Vatican and Rome, Biden had a "bathroom accident" during his papal meeting.


STEEL DOSSIER SOURCE ARRESTED: The Durham investigation was supposed to be complete before the elections... in 2020. Yet as the 2021 elections are in the rearview mirror, Durham's investigation marches on. It now has taken a perhaps explosive turn as the source behind Christopher Steele's infamous dossier has been arrested as part of the investigation. Some suggest he is the type of defendant a prosecutor would hope to flip. We'll have to wait and see.

2021 ELECTION RESULTS: Not only did the Republican Glenn Youngkin win an astonishing victory in Virginia, but Republicans won state elections for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. The GOP also won victories in New York - and a New Jersey truck driver spent $156 on his successful campaign to unseat the longest running Democrat Senate president. While many Democrats are arguing that their candidates weren't liberal enough, far Left candidates fared far worse than their mainstream establish Democrat counterparts. Even the "defund the police" movement in Minneapolis failed at the ballot box. If this is a sign of things to come, the GOP is in for a very good year in 2022.

GIVING UP ON WHITE WOMEN? The Democrats used racism as a means to push white women to vote blue in 2020. Indeed, they were emotionally manipulated, and told that they were bad people and racists if they didn't vote for Democrats. Flash forward a year later. Young white girls are coming home from school asking their mothers if they were born evil because of their skin color. Other girls are being sexually assaulted by boys allowed into girl's bathrooms. White women are having enough of it. They're even turning on BLM (which polls show no longer has positive support from white women). Yet rather than see the 2021 election results as repudiation of their BLM-CRT-Transgender policies, Democrats are doubling down and even calling for the abandonment of white women to the GOP - hardly a winning strategy! The red wave is coming.

TRANSPORTATION BREAKDOWN EXPLAINED:  A Class A truck driver with twenty years of experience explains the problems going on at our ports.


ABIGUITY OR INCOHERENCE? The US has long embraced a policy of "strategic ambiguity" in its formal relations with Taiwan. But as the US has doubled down on a more hawkish position regarding the island, Pat Buchanan points out that we are now entering an era of "strategic incoherence" in American foreign policy.

PUTIN ON RUSSIA-UKRAINE HISTORY: To better understand the history of Russia and its connection - or even unity - with Ukraine, we suggest reading this recent essay by Vladimir Putin.

ENVIRONMENTALIST SUMMIT AND G20: World leaders gathered in Glasgow to meet about the dangers of global warning. It was such a pressing issue that VIPs, including Jeff Bezos, flew on 400 private jets while Biden cruised Rome in an 85-car motorcade. Indeed, Biden seemed so concerned with global warning that he fell asleep during the climate summit. Biden's American leadership was also on full display during the world leader photo session of the G20, where Biden's position in the photo was a clear depiction of America's leadership in the world - at the periphery, not the center.

Biden's place in the picture is at the bottom left
Biden can be seen at the bottom left - an excellent depiction at the peripheral role of America's leadership in global affairs under this administration. 


RUMBLE BUYS LOCALS: As leftists take over the nation's mainline institutions, conservatives have attempted to create their own parallel intuitions free of censorship. Rumble was built as a censorship-free, pro-content creator video site to counter YouTube, while Locals did the same as a counter to the crowdfunding site Patreon. Now Rumble has bought out Locals and brought the two under one umbrella. But does this endanger both sites should Ruble ownership one day be taken over by the left?

SCHOOL LAP DANCES? Officials at a Kentucky high school are in hot water after images appeared of a highly sexualized school pep rally. It's simply another sign of the corrupting influence that the Left is having on our public institutions, and a driving factor behind more mom's voting for conservatives in local, state, and national politics.

PFIZER VACCINE DATA FALSIFIED? A whistleblower has come forward with evidence that must be investigated. More from Zerohedge.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

NOVEMBER 2: The assassination of President Diem

[first published November 22, 2012]

The tumultuous November of 1963 began with the assassination of a Catholic president: Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. Three weeks later, another fell.

For years the U.S. strongly supported Diem, but the turning point was JFK’s appointment of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (Nixon’s running mate in 1960) as our ambassador – replacing Frederick Nolting.

Lodge – with allies such as Averell Harriman and newspaper reporter David Halberstam – completely undermined the Vietnamese leader.

Diem’s younger brother and top advisor, Ngo Dinh Nhu, was killed along with him. The widow of the latter, Madame Nhu, had acted as first lady since 1955 when the unmarried Diem had become the country’s first president.

(The always colorful Madame Nhu lived long in exile; she died last year in Rome on Easter Sunday.  After the Saigon assassinations on the second day of November, All Souls Day 1963, she said: "Whoever has the Americans as allies does not need enemies.")

Dr. Pence says that JFK’s greatest failure as a public leader was his betrayal of our ally, President Diem. Kennedy was never proud of having allowed his underlings to give the green light to the coup; and in a mysterious way, it marked the loss of the American leader’s ‘Mandate of Heaven’

[Diem’s older brother, Thuc (d. 1984), was the archbishop of Hue. One of the nephews of Diem was Cardinal Thuan (d. 2002), who after being imprisoned for years in the North, served as head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace].

Check out this interview with Ambassador Nolting, in which he calls our involvement in Diem's overthrow "disastrous."

 Here is a review of Philip Catton's book, Diem's Final Failure: Prelude to America's War in Vietnam.

2017 UPDATE: Interview with Geoffrey Shaw, the author of  The Lost Mandate from Heaven: The Betrayal of Ngo Dinh Diem, President of Vietnam. This is the definitive account of the greatest blunder of the Vietnam war-the American inspired assassination of President Diem in Nov, 1963.  The man with the heart of darkness was Averell Harriman of the State Department. The young atheist news reporter David Halberstam could never understand the Catholic Confucian president who was much more an authentic nationalist than Ho Chi Minh. Replacing Ambassador Nolting with the Brahmin Henry Cabot Lodge left no one to counter Halberstam's prejudicial reporting and Harriman's sinister machinations. The champions of secular liberal democracy orchestrated the murder of the one leader who could have negotiated a settlement in Vietnam. This  primal political lesson of the Vietnam War was hinted at but inexcusably misrepresented by the Ken Burns PBS series. It is easier to paint an Asian Catholic as a tyrant than accuse a liberal Democrat and secular journalist of leading roles in a generation's greatest tragedy. The wrenching Last Man Out account of the fall of Saigon.

Here are State Department documents and analysis-Did JFK order Diem assassination? by John Prados.

All Souls Day: Remember, Venerate, Pray

[first published November 2, 2014]

by David Pence

We live in a reality both visible and invisible. We trust our senses so much that we can become tricked into thinking realities which are not accessible through the senses are somehow not real. Some people call that epistemological error "the Scientific Revolution." They even boast of that great sundering of Truth as progress!

The Church begins the last month of the liturgical year by remembering the dead. Yesterday -- the saints. Today -- all the souls departed. Almost every human culture knew the dead were not really dead. It took modern intellectuals to deny the reality. We keep pictures of those who have passed in our homes. Other cultures keep a flame and incense. Let us learn from the veneration of ancestors that marks Chinese and other Asian cultures. (See our review of Simon Chan's Grassroots Asian Theology).


Let us embrace the Mexican tradition of gifts for the little ones on one day, and good drink for the adults on the next. Let us remember the ever-present skull in the paintings of a wiser age 500 years ago. So often the Church reminds us of the truth. On Ash Wednesday we are dressed in the ashes to remind us from whence we came and where we are headed. For Catholics the Mass is where we always, and everywhere, make trek with the dead. Let us, as Catholics, especially keep sacred the liturgy of the Mass so there is the distance and formality that allows us to live amidst the angels and the saints and truly recall the dead in our prayers. Nothing so distracts us from the invisible as too heavy an emphasis on those around us as the fundamental unit of community. There is a Capuchin church in Rome with crypts of bones on the walls. A placard in five languages reminds us of the lesson of this day: "What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be..."

Monday, November 1, 2021

All Saints Day: Four Men striving to imitate our Lord, the true Man In Full

(first published November 1, 2014)

An interview with Dr. David Pence

Pope Pius (d. 1914)

You describe most men as falling into four main groups: soldiers, teachers, workers, and priests. How did you come up with that?

"Orare, laborare, studere, contendere." Those four Latin words describe the basic duties of the Catholic man. Each of us embody them in a greater or lesser fashion.

In my youth I attended  an all-boys high school, a Catholic seminary, and a federal prison. Each of those groups had different rules for finding one's place in the social order. I met the different types of men there. Some groups try to weed out certain character types. Leaving out one of these types of men always leaves a deficit. I went to a true Catholic boys school which did not define itself as "college prep." About 30 percent of the boys in our school were being prepared for college and life; the others were being prepared for life and some other kind of work. It was the most democratic and healthy maturation experience I can imagine. The modern university is, of course, dominated by teachers who -- with a vengeance -- have divorced religion from knowledge (out go the priests), military history from economic history (expel the soldiers), and the technology of the trades from engineering and science. The men who carry those disciplines are absent while bookish females are glad to fill in. Our seminaries seem to weed out warriors and workers.

Every man will have one or two of these tendencies more strongly than others, but you must know and appreciate all of them. This is also a good initial screen when your daughters are dating. My daughters and I always know pretty early with suitors which two of the four characteristics are present in their potential mates. My daughter in the convent says she has found a man who was a master carpenter, beat Satan at war, is the light of the world for knowledge, and gave the world the Our Father and the Mass as a priest. She plans to be his bride.

We've chosen a holy man or two, as examples for each of the categories. 

THE PRIEST: Why John Vianney (19th-century France) and Pius X (the pope immediately before WWI) for the priests?

The priest mediates between man and God. Saint Pius X was the great reformer of the seminaries, and a teacher against atheistic modernism. But his greatest priestly act was centering the lives of Catholics and our parishes in the miracle of the Eucharist by encouraging earlier (age of seven) and more frequent reception. He brought Christ in the Eucharist to the center of Catholic life. The Protestant Reformation scattered the Christian sacramental order by elevating the individualistic aspects of Baptism and faith. Pius X reordered the daily practices of Catholic life and the  sacramental order around the communal priestly acts of the Eucharist.

Saint John Vianney, the patron of parish priests, was willing to stay in the confessional for hours to help set his parishioners free from sin. To be saved is to be delivered from the grip of the Flesh, the World, and the Devil. Nobody can do that on his own. On the day he rose from the dead, Jesus breathed on the apostles and gave all priests the authority to deliver us from evil. John Vianney (the Cure of Ars) reminds us that the path to the red light of the tabernacle showing Christ's true Presence passes through a priest in a confession box. I think John Vianney would measure the health of a parish more by the length of confession lines on Saturday, than percent at communion on Sunday.

THE SOLDIER: Modern Jesuits, contra the 16th-century Spanish knight, think all problems can be cured with 'oil, soap, and caresses' (to borrow a pejorative phrase from Saint Pius). How did things go off the rails with today's company of Ignatian soldiers?

When Ignatius Loyola put away his cannons, he did not stop being a soldier. In every situation, he said, we must discern the spirits. It is not always apparent which is Satan and which is the Lord; but make no mistake, there is a battle of spirits and we are always helping one side more than the other. Chesterton once said we wake up on a battlefield, and there are hundreds of platoons and hundreds of different flags at battle. Which flag, which platoon, which battle? -- that is always the question. Ignatius is the warrior because he keeps the real enemy in front of us at all times. The modern Jesuit quit believing in Satan, and lost the emotion of hatred which is meant for Satan. Love without the discipline of a corresponding hatred becomes a syrup. It loses its ordering function. Let us hope the modern Jesuits can learn from our first Jesuit pope. Pope Francis keeps the reality of Satan and the discernment of spirits uppermost in his consciousness. One of the reasons he doesn’t draw the old lines of battle around abortion, contraception, and homosexuality is that he thinks there is a deeper line to be drawn against an Older Foe on other battlefronts we have too long ignored.

You teach at a seminary named after a new saint [Oct. 2016]: Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio (1913-1928). You say he, too, was a soldier saint. 

He was a Mexican Cristero fighting against an atheist government. He is the patron of all American men who will fight to align our nations under the sovereignty of God. He was only 15 when he gave his horse to a commander so the "more needed" commander  could escape from government encirclement. When Sanchez was captured, they asked him why he quit shooting. His answer was not exactly that of a pacifist: "I ran out of bullets!" He was imprisoned. The soles of his feet were peeled of skin, and he was marched to a graveyard. There he was shot for not renouncing Christ his King. Viva Christo Rey! We should not let it escape us that Saint Jose Sanchez and the Cristeros were establishing the rule of Christ by reforming their nation. The nations in all their splendid diversity are the communal forms by which men organize protection and law as fellow soldiers. There is only one King but there are many national callings.


THE TEACHER: You have been a teacher for years, along with your doctoring. Teaching the young is a high art. What, principally, do you try to pass on?

A teacher transmits the practices and wisdom of his culture to the souls of his students.
I've tried to teach them there is a God, that they have a soul, and we are a Church.

One of G.K. Chesterton's most popular smaller books is his biography of Thomas Aquinas. Give us your reaction to a few lines:
"On a great map like the mind of Aquinas, the mind of Luther would be almost invisible... [Luther] destroyed Reason; and substituted Suggestion."

Thomas Aquinas saw both nature and the God of nature. He explained how man fits in the whole scheme of reality. Luther feared for his soul, and squeezed the Lord into his pocket grasping the tiny rabbit's foot of personal salvation. Even if Luther had to bypass the purpose of the universe or overlook the fate of mankind, he was content if he could see his place set at the table. Aquinas got on his knees as his most natural posture, and from there he could see the universe -- and felt it his duty as a teacher to explain it to others. He was taught by the greatest natural scientist of the age, Albert the Great; and they shared the compulsion of all great teachers: to participate in external reality  and then invite students to participate with them.

"[Thomas crafted] the great central Synthesis of history... An acute observer said of Thomas Aquinas in his own time, 'He could alone restore all philosophy, if it had been burnt by fire' ...There is not a single occasion on which he indulged in a sneer. His curiously simple character, his lucid but laborious intellect, could not be better summed up than by saying that he did not know how to sneer. He was in a double sense an intellectual aristocrat: but he was never an intellectual snob."

Certain learned men accumulate knowledge like a bag of precious stones. They can display it for honor, share some with favorites, or use it to flail their foes or underlings.
There are other great teachers whose knowledge is a participation in reality. They are always inviting others: "Do you see what I see?" They are much more impressive than the bag-men; they do not seek to impress their students, but infect them. St Thomas Aquinas taught his students the unity of truth,  the reality of God and the purpose of human beings.  He is the teacher's teacher.

THE WORKER:    Benedict (d. 543) taught monks to pray, and by his rule he kept them disciplined but not fanatic. They were stable, so they could be hospitable -- and yet you identify Benedict, first, as a worker. Why?

The worker is the missing man in seminaries, universities, college-prep high schools, and both political parties. After men are ordered in prayer, they carry out God's command to cultivate the garden and subdue the earth. From the communal monastery of prayer the men set out to till fields of agriculture, and craft the shops of technology. They sanctified labor in a way the Greeks and Romans would never do. The Greeks elevated the philosopher and the Romans praised the warrior. They both consider physical labor the province of  slaves. The monks of Benedict radically changed this social norm.  This Christian form of men under God working cooperatively to produce wealth became the basis of the corporations and cites of Europe. Look outside at your city or town. Every bridge, every office  building, every house, every sewer sytem and telephone pole is the product of free men working in groups. The Benedictine monastery is all about us. Around the monasteries, communal economies become templates of productive towns and cities. This model of men linked first by prayer and then by productive work forms the Christian commonwealth. This cannot be reduced to  either capitalism or socialism. Benedict and his men show us that Christians are doing something different. Christ grew up under the tutelage of  St Joseph the  carpenter.  When he picked his apostles He chose fishermen. Benedict and his men carried this "working man’s party" of Christianity into the desolated hillsides of fallen Rome and gave us Europe.