Monday, April 28, 2014

Abbey Road on the Tiber?

The canonizations of Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II has been characterized as the day of four popes as Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI concelebrated the Canonization Mass with Pope Francis.

[L] Pope Francis and [R] Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI at Canonization Mass 27 April 2014 

One wag visually depicted this monumental moment in a homage to the Beatles.

As unprecedented of an occurrence as this "Day of Four Popes" was-- Sorry John (sic), it was not bigger than Jesus either.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mahmoud Abbas on the Holocaust

On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen released a statement which extended his first official condolences of the Shoah.  Unlike prior Palestinian leaders (namely Yasser Arafat) who would say moderate things in English translation but would be undaunted anti-semitic in the Arabic original, Abbas' statement was released in both English and Arabic.

This statement is in stark contrast to his doctrinal thesis from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow later published as  The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism (1984) in which he claimed: the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed” and claimed that only some 890,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis.  Moreover  these were chiefly the victims of a Zionist-Nazi plot in the Havaara Agrement (1933) to facilitate German emigration to the Palestine Mandate.  Such a theory contributes to the fever swamp frenzy of Holocaust deniers.  Abbas had backtracked from this thesis in 2011 when he asserted that he could accept that six million people were killed during the Holocaust.

Abbas' conciliatory statements are not being welcomed with open arms by the Israeli government.  As Abbas reiterated his Holocaust condolence statement, Abbas' ruling Palestinian Fatah party (which prevails in the West Bank) made a rapprochement with Hamas, the terror organization which is based in the exclave Gaza Strip.

As Hamas is still dedicated in its charter to the destruction of Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet unanimously decided to break off negotiations with a Palestinian government which incorporates Hamas.  In addition, Israel is planning to impose economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority by withholding tax revenue collected by Israel on behalf of the PA.

Pope St. John XXIII on the Holocaust

John XXIII Holocaust

Etty Hillensum on Faith

Etty Hillesum Holocaust Remembrance Day

 Note how all traffic stops on ten lanes of the busy Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, Israel when the sirens sound marking the moment of silence to remember victims of the Holocaust.


Pope Francis on Canonizations

Pope Francis Canonization JP II  John XXIII

Friday, April 25, 2014

Jersey City Mandala Imparts Art Lesson Early

Three Tibetan Monks work on mandala in Jersey City, NJ City Hall [photo: Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal]

Three Tibetan Buddhist monks from South India  worked on a sand mandala for several days at the Jersey City, NJ City Hall.  These mandalas use millions of grains of sand in various colors  arranged in an intricate Medicine Buddhist pattern.

Centerpiece of Tibetan Buddhist Medicine Mandala at Jersey City, NJ City Hall  [photo: Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal]

Traditionally, after the work is created, it is then destroyed in a ceremony to symbolize the fleeting nature of life.

Well, this mandala went down differently.  When there was only an hours work left on the mandala, a toddler, whose mother was participating in a US naturalization ceremony with dozens of other new citizens, mistook the mandala as a play area. The boy jumped onto the mandala and significantly smudged the center portion of the center portion of the sand sculpture, thereby destroying days of painstaking work.

When the monks arrived to finish their work, the mortified mayor's aide greeted them with an ashen faced demeanor and revealed the damage.

Tibetan Monk prepares to repair smudged mandala at Jersey City, NJ City Hall  [photo: Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal]

The monks worked on repairing what they could so as not to disappoint the sides of the mandala which only had small portions disrupted.  Unfortunately, the middle section with  an array of eight Buddhas was an unsalvageable swirl of colored sand. It took about two hours to make the mandala presentable.

Smudged mandala at Jersey City, NJ City Hall  [photo: Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal]

Geshe Wangdu, the Buddhist monk who arranged for the three Tibitan artists to come from Sera Mey Kongpo Khangtsen for the display, brushed off the trouble.  In fact, Wangdu suggested that the child taught everyone the lesson which the mandala is support to impart. As Wangdu put it: "It's so beautiful, and then it's gone."  As former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey (D-NJ), who arranged for the peace tour to stop in Jersey City, later exuded: “This is so fitting that the hand of a child once again reminds us of life’s fleeting nature and of the need to do good while we’re present.

The official ritual mandala destruction ceremony was scheduled for later that day. The mandala was dissolved in a private ceremony.  Afterwards, the monks and a crowd of spectators marched down to the Hudson River to throw the sand in the water.

h/t: Jersey City Journal

Seth Meyers on Being Jew-"ish"

Seth Meyer Jew-ish

While Seth Meyers' paternal grandfather was Jewish and Seth has performed at some Jewish community centers, he does not consider himself Jewish.  

Judaism is a religion which is dependent on matriarchal lineage. But based upon his quip, it seems that based upon his persona, he is considered a member of "The Tribe".

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Considering the Heroic Virtues of Pope St. John Paul II

At his funeral in St. Peter's Square in 2005, there were prolonged chants from the multitude gathered for “Santo Subito” (Sainthood Now!).  On April 27, 2014, the Catholic Church  celebrated the canonization of the 264th pontiff Pope St. John Paul II (born Karol Józef Wojtyła) along with the 262nd Vicar of Christ Pope St. John XXIII (ne Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

Three American Presidents paying respects to Pope John Paul II, April 2005

Some Protestants bristle at the notion that the Church “makes” saints, as nobody (but Christ) is perfect and that we are all supposed to be called to sainthood in our Christian identity.  Certainly our baptism marks us as part of the Lord’s people and calls us to holiness.  The Catholic Church can recognize, based on investigation and guidance from the Holy Spirit,  that a person is already a saint, definitely in heaven and having led a life of great holiness that is worthy of veneration by the faithful.  Canonized saints are important examples to the faithful of how to live a heroic (not perfect) Christian life.

Pope John Paul II was a remarkable man who wore many hats in his life. He was a Laborer, Thespian, Playwright, Patriot, Priest,  Philologist, Philosopher, Pilgrim, Bishop, Theologian, Sportsman, Scholar, Statesman and Vicar of Christ.  The cause for John Paul II's canonization however  is not premised on doctrinal dissertations, academic accolades or even geopolitical accomplishments.  It is about how John Paul II lived his life to reflect the Christian virtue which still touches the faithful today.

After several years of investigation led by postulator Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints recommended Servant of God John Paul II’s heroic virtue to the Pope. On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed John Paul II as “Venerable”.  The Church normally requires that one miracle is attributable to intercessions of a Venerable, but the Vatican only investigates possible miracles after a candidate is declared Venerable. These miracles are almost always miraculous medical cures as these are the easiest to verify.

Sr. Marie Simon Pierre
Sister Marie Simon Pierre, a nun from the order of Little Sisters of the Catholic Motherhood in Aix au Province, France, had suffered with Parkinson’s Disease, like John Paul II, for four years. She intensely prayed along with her community for healing through the intercession of John Paul II only two months after John Paul II’s death.  Doctors determined that Sr. Simon Pierre’s neurological symptoms had disappeared inexplicably.  

After the Congregation for the Causes of Saints scrutinized the medical evidence that the healing was rapid, lasting and inexplicable and that is was the result of praying for the Venerable’s intercessions to God, they made their recommendations to the Pope.  On January 14, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI determined that the criteria were met to refer to John Paul II as “Blessed”. Such a beatification is a formal statement from the church that it is “worthy of belief” that a person has some to salvation but is not to be taken as a sign that canonization is certain.  Pope John Paul II was declared venerable on May 1st, 2011.

Floribeth Mora Diaz
In April 2011, Floribeth Mora, a 50 year old  Costa Rican grandmother, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain aneurysm  and was sent home to die.  But on the day of John Paul II's beatification, Mora saw a photograph of John Paul II and the photograph spoke to her saying "Get up" and "Be not afraid".  Remarkably, her aneurysm disappeared that same day. Neuro-surgeons in Rome could not medically explain the disappearance.  This miracle satisfied the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican.

It should be noted, however, that the Pontiff can give a dispensation for the requirement of a second miracle for sainthood, as Pope Francis did for the cause of Pope St. John XXIII, who will share the spotlight with Pope St. John Paul II in the canonization ceremony.  In the case of Pope St. John XXIII, there were calls to make him "Santo Subito" too in 1962 , as well as at the end of the end of Vatican II in 1965, but the Church has waited until today to accord canonization.

The date of the canonization may well have been chosen because it was the 2nd Sunday of Easter, which Pope John Paul II instituted during his Papacy as “Divine Mercy Sunday”, due to his Devotion to St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938).  The vigil mass of the feast of Divine Mercy had just been celebrated at John Paul II’s bedside when he fell into a coma and soon after died.

Pope John Paul II at Auschwitz (1979)
The date of John Paul II’s canonization also occurs on National Holocaust Rememberance Day in Israel and during the March of the Living where people  gather in in  Krakow,  Wojtyła’s home for 40 years, to march between the Nazi death camps of  Auschwitz to Birkenau to remember the Holocaust.  John Paul II had strong connections with the Jewish community in his childhood home off Wadowice, where ¼  of the town’s 8,000 residents were eradicated for anti-Semitic aspirations of Nazi racial purity.  These events strongly influenced John Paul II’s weltanschauung, since during his pontificate, John Paul II made great strives to acknowledge the sin of anti-semitism, especially in the Holocaust, and to strengthen the Church’s relations with the Jewish Community. In May 1998, Pope St. John Paul II gave a formal apology about Catholic shortcomings in the Holocaust in the proclamation "We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah".   

As a Pole, Karol Wojtyła was shaped by victimization by totalitarian domination, first by the Nazi’s then by the Communists.  We rightly remember the suffering of several million Jews being interned and murdered as part of the Holocaust of World War II, but Nazi Germany intended to eradicate any ‘deviant” culture, which also included non-Aryan intellectuals, Slavs, Catholics, gypsies and homosexuals.  The Nazi closing of Polish Universities came as Polish intellectuals were being slaughtered.  During the Nazi occupation, Polish culture was systematically being eradicated and the Slavs being treated as slaves for the Reich.  

After the Nazi’s invaded Poland, Jagiellonian University was closed and all able bodied males were conscribed to labor to avoid deportation to Germany.  So the young  Karol Wojtyła worked as a limestone quarryman and in a chemical plant.    But the way that Karol Wojtyła reacted to these events was answering the call to the priesthood clandestinely and by participating in Rhapsodic Theater, a clandestine company dedicated to preserve some measure of Polish culture. The group’s concentration on the interplay of personal relationships and the power of the human word had a profound impact on how Karol Wojtyła lived his faith under the domination of the communists and as Pope. John Paul II  fought against his ideological adversaries with the power of the word, sublime yet suggestive symbolism and fostering a sense of connection and community.

After the Second World War, Poland suffered under the domination of Stalinist inspired Communism, which sought to reshape humanity into a Godless existence where the average worker was no more than a cog in the machine.  The communists built Nowa Huta (“New Steel Mill”) on the eastern outskirts of Krakow in 1947 as a Socialist Realist worker’s paradise with everything but a church. The faithful kept erecting crosses which communist officials would tear down.  Eventually the piety of Poles caused the people to want a church to be built, but the atheistic state first refused, then reluctantly agreed to quell unrest only to renege on the understanding  and then crush any dissent.  

Arka Pana in Nowa Huta, Poland
Crucifix at Arka Pana, Nowa Huta Poland
Karol Wojtyła was then Auxilliary Bishop of Krakow who defended the faithfuls’ spiritual cri-de-coeur but who shepherded a compromise with unwilling authorities.  When the Arka Pana (“Ark of God”) Church was eventually built in 1977, prominent features include a 70 meter mast shaped cross and triumphant pose of the crucified Jesus Christ, made from 10 kilos of shrapnel taken from the wounds from Polish soldiers. These elements show the influence of Karol Wojtyła by fusing symbolism with Christian faithfulness, the prominence of the Cross, converting suffering into constructiveness and fidelity to Polish patriotism. 

Then Cardinal Karol Wojtyła was elected Pontiff in October 1977 during the Year of Three Popes.  While Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 454 years and was from a nation behind the Iron Curtain, he was chosen because of his theology.  John Paul II chose as his papal motto “Totus Tuus”, which reflected his Reflected his personal consecration to Mary which was based on the spiritual approach of St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)—“Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt" ("I am all yours, and all that I have is yours").  In Crossingthe Threshold of Hope,  he explained that the “Totus Tuus” motto expressed the understanding that he “[c]ould not exclude the Lord's Mother from my life without neglecting the will of God-Trinity”.  Polish born composer Henryk Gorecki (1933-2010) wrote the choral piece “Totus Tuus” in honor of Pope John Paul II’s 3rd visit to Poland in 1987.

From the start of his Petrine ministry until his eventual death from Parkinson’s Disease 26 ½ years later, John Paul II’s message to the faithful was the Lucan exhortation “Be not afraid”.   In fact, John Paul II uttered the phrase three times during his homily at the Papal Inauguration.  This message “Be not afraid… open the door wide to Christ” was chosen as the slogan for his beatification.  

It was the same message that he brought when he first visited his homeland of Poland in June 1979.  The documentary Nine Days That Changed the World showed the power that John Paul II message of “Be not afraid” had with the Polish people to instill the dignity of the individual to live out their faith and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, renew the face of the Earth and their land.

The  millions of Poles who flocked to their favorite son's first pilgrimage back to his homeland showed that the faithful were not alone in that officially atheistic state and served as a real retort to Stalin’s taunt of “The Pope! How man divisions does he got?"  Both LechWalesa, the piously Catholic worker who lead the Solidarity movement (and eventually became Poland’s President), and Vaclav Havel, the less spiritual leader of a free Czechoslovakia, credit the fall of the Iron Curtain to the message “Be not afraid” embodied in John Paul II’s 1st visit to Poland. 

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot  four times at close range and critically wounded in St. Peter’s Square by Mehmet Ali Ağca, a trained Turkish gunman. Many belief that this assassination attempt was a hit job coordinated by the Bulgarian Secret Police with the complicity of the Kremlin.  Yet less than two and a half years later, John Paul II met with Mehmet Ali Ağca and forgave the gunman on Christmas, 1983.

[L] Pope John Paul II shot May 13, 1981, [R] Pope forgives Agca December 25, 1983

Pope St . John Paul II was convinced that Our Lady of Fatima kept him alive during the ordeal where he lost 3/4ths of his blood.  TheThird Secret of our Lady of Fatima can be seen as predicting the assassination attempt on the Pope. The John Paul II’s faith filled connection between his assassination attempt and the visions of Fatima that a bullet from his wounds now tops the golden finery of the Our Lady of Fatima processional statue. 
One of the hallmarks of Pope St. John Paul II’s reign was being a Pilgrim as Vicar of Christ to proclaim Jesus as the Redeemer of Humanity to all the Earth. Frankly, he came pretty close to covering it all.  It is speculated that the curia spent about a fourth of their time planning for and executing his 104 foreign trips to 125 countries which totaled 725,000 miles.  While John Paul certainly visited countries with large Catholic populations many times, he also visited places which had no discernible Christian populations.  John Paul II not only sought to evangelize for Christ, he wanted to foster interfaith dialog. For example, in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on America, John Paul II kept his planned itinerary to Kazahkstan, which is mostly Muslim nation.

At the behest of Pope St. John Paul II, World Youth Days were held every couple of years at rotating international locations. Skeptics certainly questioned in disengaged youth would care about such events, but the youth loved to rally around the Pope and open themselves to the new evangelization.  The vitality of  World Youth Day tradition has not subsided in the loss of John Paul II.  These large conclaves of young people meeting to renew their faithful inclinations echoes how John Paul II loved to channel the energy of crowds in a positive manner to allow people to feel connected in a vibrant and visceral way.

The message of “Be not afraid” was epitomized by Pope John Paul II’s reaction to a musical gift when he visited Los Angeles in 1987.  To demonstrate courage,Tony Melendez, a musician without hands played a guitar song with his feet.  John Paul II was so moved by the performance that he leaped off the main stage to embrace Melendez on the satellite stage.  John Paul II’s spontaneous and evocative human gesture along with his message of how courage gives hope to all continues to touch the faithful..

While Pope Benedict XVI did not formally recognize John Paul II as a martyr in his beatification mass, many feel that the manner in which John Paul II lived with his debilitating disease and how he died with dignity in the Vatican was exemplary.  His final words were uttered in Polish "Allow me to depart to the house of the Father".  John Paul II had run the good race and was not afraid to go home to the Father by extending his life through extraordinary medical procedures for terminal illness.

In addition, Pope St. John Paul II left a large body of theology during his long pontificate, which will have a long lasting influence upon the Church.  These writings centered on phenomology and personalism.  His encyclicals considered Christ the Redeemer, morality in the Splendor of Truth, Mariology in Mother of the Redeemer, the Gospel of Life, and Faith and Reason.  Many feel that Pope St. John Paul II will be best remembered for his "Theology of the Body", which was based on 129 lectures from his Wednesday audiences, which focused on Christian marriage, celibacy and virginity, contraception and the sacrament of marriage. 

The liturgical feast day for Blessed John Paul II will be October 22nd. In the Liturgyof the Hours for that day is part of the Papal Inauguration "Do not be afraid" homily.  The prayer for that day in the Office of Readings is:

O God, who are rich in mercy and who willed that the blessed John Paul the Second should preside as Pope over your universal Church, grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind. Who lives and reigns.

In Washington DC, the new seminary has dedicated to the now Pope St. John Paul II.  The John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington DC has been converted into a Church and Shrine and will be rechristened the "St. John Paul II National Shrine".

Pope St. John Paul II's example of the new evangelization, his example of forgiveness and fearlessness for standing up for the faith certainly gives the model to “Be Not Afraid” in our own paths toward being part of the Community of Saints.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gosnell: The Movie--Trying to Tell the Story of an American Serial Killer Which Strikes Too Close to Home

[L] Ann McElhinney and [R] Phelim McAleer
Last spring, husband and wife veteran filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Anne McElhinney were publicizing their feature documentary Fracknation as the murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell was occurring in Philadelphia.  McAleer was amazed at the lack of coverage of a prolific serial killer that murdered two women in botched late term abortions in unsanitary conditions, used a brutal snipping technique to kill a thousand children beyond the legal limit for abortion and also dealt prescription drugs.

Yet the national mainstream media ignored the Gosnell case, dismissing it like a local murder case while lavishing attention on the concurrent Jodi Arias murder trial. McAleer did man on the street interviews in California to learn about what the public knew about sensational murder trials.

As Katherine Graham, the former publisher of the Washington Post, proclaimed: "What we cover and what we don't matter a lot...The power is to set the agenda."  Fox News commentator Greg Gutfeld recently speculated about the reasons why most of the mainstream media (including Fox) did not cover the Gosnell trial closely:

"The reason why they don't do this one is not because the evil is so grotesque.  It's that it's too close to a moral choice they've made.  That's what it's about.  It's not that like, ah it's so hard to do something on this man who butchered babies.  It's because it's too close to the pro-choice mindset."

However, McAleer and McElhinney were so haunted by the Gosnell trial that they backed away from other crowd-source funded projects so as to make a movie about Gosnell.  Yet Anne & Phelim Media encountered more velvet gloved censorship by Kickstarter, which claims to not curate projects but would not allow them to describe their dramatized movie idea as being about a mass murderer who killed a thousand children as it allegedly violated community standards which Kickstart "encourages and (selectively) enforces".  McAleer believes that it is within Kickstarter's right to not facilitate funding but that it should be forthright that it is due to the project matter not a transparent lie about community standards which it does not enforce for sundry other offensive projects.

So they moved their crowd-source funding efforts to Indiegogo, where they have raised $1.2 million  of a fixed target $2.1 million.  If they do not make their designated funding mark by May 12th, the money reverts  back to the prospective investors.

There is already an excellent documentary film 3801 Lancaster, which interviews victims of Gosnell's House of Horrors.  So McAleer and McElhinney want to make dramatized version of the Gosnell story which would run on the Lifetime  Movie Network rather than a feature documentary to reach a wider audience.

 It is easy for seaboard elitists to dismiss a film about Gosnell as just being by religious zealots with pro-life propaganda, which is a touch charge to apply to McAleer and McElhinney. In addition, this dismissive instinct ignores how Dr. Gosnell was a racist as he gave his white patients much better and cleaner abortion services than his clients of color.

A film about Gosnell must also include a political angle.  Former Governor Tom Ridge (R-PA) was elected as chief executive of the Keystone State as a moderate Republican.  The governor's office made it clear that the Commonwealth should do nothing to impede abortion services, so Gosnell's clinic was not properly inspected for 17 years, despite gruesome reports and several deaths. 

Gosnell's clinic was raided because Gosnell was writing prescriptions like a pell mell pill mill for Oxycotin and the ilk.  That raid permitted police to stumble upon an unsanitary abortion butchery, where Gosnell kept severed limbs as trophies.

Hearing the filmmakers promote their project, it is clear that they yearn to tell a compelling true story about a prolific American serial killer and pull back the curtain on details which a progressive public would rather ignore.

If one wishes to help actuate the Gosnell movie project, one can contribute to the efforts at  Those who contribute $25 will get a DVD of the film.  But the filmmakers also implore people to contribute anything to show that people care.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Atheists Fight to Forbid High School Wrestlers from Wearing Shirts with Bible Verse

For over a decade, wrestlers from the Parkersville South (West Virginia) High School have chosen to wear shirts which bear the scriptural verse: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."  This motto was also emblazoned on the team's website.

After a complaint from the Wisconsin based Freedom from Religion Foundation, Wood County (WV) School Superintendent Pat Law, demanded that the team take the motto off their web presence, but for the time being the students can continue to voluntarily wear the shirts. It was prudent for the grapplers to take the verse off their website so that there is no question about the separation of church and state.  But the privately funded tee shirts with the empowering message are another story altogether.

The school is concerned about agitation from aggressive atheist groups who want to wipe any expression of Christian faith from the public square, while balancing the rights of citizens.
Even though the Parkersburg South wrestlers had been voluntarily wearing these shirts (paid for by parent boosters), the school system rolled at the raising of one complaint.  Presumably this was to avoid costly law suits.  It is dubious if the Wood County will dare to bar other t-shirts which others might find "offensive".

The Freedom from Religion Foundation proclaim that it "works as an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church." Yet their news over the past three months only consists of Judeo-Christian agitation.  No mention is made on the FFRF website about the many municipal accommodations which are made for Muslims. None of their current lawsuits tackle topics like the incorporation of Sharia law, New York schools taking days off for Muslim religions holidays, public foot washes etc.  Their fight to enforce the separation of church and state could be given more credence if it took on those troubling topics instead of just being contrarians curmudgeons against Judeo-Christian traditions.

Even though the Parkersburg South wrestlers had been voluntarily wearing these shirts (paid for by parent boosters), the school system rolled at the raising of one complaint.  Presumably this was to avoid costly law suits.


Aside from the outcomes of games, high school sports teach valuable lessons. The Parkersburg South Wrestling kerfluffle demonstrates that a lone dissenting voice can overcome an empowering message with the quisling support of a politically correct administrator.  The Plymouth/Canton bleacher imbroglio exemplifies that a politically correct America will enforce equality at all costs and the PC government  can override and rip out privately funded improvements to make its point.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Bunnies Bringing Easter Joy

The rabbit has long been associated with Easter. Pagan Germanic tribes worshiped Eostroa, a Teutonic goddess of fertility, whose symbol was a rabbit around the vernal equinox. The Catholic church syncretically incorporated this traditions in the 15th century with Christian overtones. The fecund fertility of the rabbit reaffirmed how the feast of the resurrection brought new life to the world. Moreover, medieval people thought that the rabbit could reproduce without losing its virginity, thus it was a reminder of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 The Easter Bunny originated among German Lutherans in the late 17th century as the Easter Hare acted as a judge as to whether children were naughty at the start of Eastertide. Pennsylvanian Dutch folklore in America had the Osterhase giving gift of colored eggs that they made in their caps and bonnets only to the good children. Germans were also the first to make chocolate Easter eggs in the 19th century. The tradition spread in America that the Easter Bunny delivered baskets of treats to children on Easter. Walt Disney built upon this folk tradition with his Silly Symphonies Funny Little Bunnies (1934) short.

But what would make these funny bunnies really happy is Bos Keun a seasonal Passbier (Easter Beer)  brewed by Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers in Essen, Belgium.

These Flemish "Mad Brewers"produce Bos Keun (meaning "rabbit in woods") is a blond Belgian strong beer which is 7% ABV that uses pale malt, Goldings hops, candy sugar and is bottle conditioned.  Let the children enjoy their chocolate Easter eggs and let the beer connoinsseurs "Paas" with some Bos Keun

Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI on Easter

Friday, April 18, 2014

B.C. and A.D. on Good Friday

Johnny Hart was cartoonist who produced the comic strip B.C. from 1958 until his death at the drawing board in 2007.  After Hart's renewal of religious faith in 1977 in Presybyterianism, the comic strip often incorporated Christian themes into the pre-historic backdrop.

This was even more evident for pieces run during  Holy Week.

Some Jewish critics argued against a depiction of replacement theology.  But Hart  offered an apology "if I have offended any readers," but still thought the strip could increase "religious awareness" and claimed that he had meant the strip to be a tribute to both religions.

If one needs more traditional timber for the conveyance of scripture, one can certainly rely upon the charismatic current Archbishop of New York, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, to contextualize Good Friday.

h/t: Johnny Hart 

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty on Suffering

140418b Aaron Kheriaty

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Al Sharpton on Easter

The Reverend Al Sharpton gave an unusual Easter message on the Tom Joyner Show.  Sharpton tried to be ecumenical to reach out to Christians, Jews and atheists with an anti-materialist message to remember the reason for the season.

Sharpton alluded to every man challenges where people feel crucified. Sharpton encouraged folks to rise above their suffering and not become like the disease they fight. Sharpton closed his secular preaching by alluding to an alleged crucifixion of Barack Obama.  The Reverend claimed that he was not comparing Obama to Jesus but for every crucifixion there is a resurrection for those who believe.

So the question is on the orthodoxy of Reverend Al Sharpton's Easter message that to every crucifixion there is a resurrection for those who believe, so rise above your unearned suffering.

Did Rev. Al Sharpton correctly convey the Easter Message? free polls 

For those who want to hear more of Reverend Sharpton's preaching, you will not find him in church but on PoliticsNation, 6 PM et on MSNBC. 

Michael Bloomberg on Heaven

As Michael Bloomberg engaged in a publicity campaign with the New York Times which highlighted his $50 million personal contribution to support gun control, the three term former  Mayor (D,R,I, D- NYC) offered some insightful opinions on his eternal reward
While Mr. Bloomberg is Jewish in origin and agnostic in practice, he is confident that his nanny state policies banning Big Gulps, trans-fats, salt and his efforts to grab guns has earned him an easy pass through the Pearly Gates, should it exist. 

Bloomberg's metaphysical musings seem counter to Christian concepts of sacrificial redemption from the Cross, which will be celebrated this weekend during the Triduum and Easter. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On the Siri Thesis, Conspiracies, Sede Impeditists and Canonizations

In anticipation of the dual canonizations of Pope Saint John XXIII and Pope Saint John Paul II, I wanted to examine the merits of the men whose heroic virtues the Catholic Church recognizes must be in heaven.

Contemporary memory of Pope John XXIII was that he was a portly septuagenarian  Patriarch of Venice who was elected in 1958 to be a caretaker seat warmer on the Chair of Saint Peter.  Yet “Papa Roncalli” audaciously called for  what became the Second Vatican Council which brought the liturgy into the vernacular. “The Good Pope John” died after a pontificate of just over four years and one third of the way into Vatican II.

That thumbnail sketch of Pope John XXIII’s papacy is simplified but accurate.  Yet it does not explain the apoplectic opposition from some traditional Catholics, who consider “Roncalli” an anti-pope.

To better understand objections by radical traditionalist “Catholics”, I braved the fever swamps of internet intrigue, old school insider catholic baseball as well as historical peculiarities.  I wanted to discern if their counter arguments were persuasive or held merit.

Those who are Sirianists strongly cling to an anomaly associated with the 1958 Conclave.  The College of Cardinals were reduced to 51 electors as Pope Pius XII only held two Consistories (in 1945 and 1953) during his 19 year reign, and many of the participating Cardinals  were quite elderly.  In fact two Cardinal electors died in the Interregnum prior to the Consistory so only 49 Cardinals participated.

On the first evening of the Conclave, white smoke was reported coming from the Sistine Chapel indicating “Habemus Papem”.   Even Vatican Radio announced:  "The smoke is white... There is absolutely no doubt. A Pope has been elected." However, no Pope appeared and after perhaps twenty minutes, the smoke changed to black.

Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, Archibishop of Genoa 
Radical traditionalist postulate that Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, the Archbishop of Genoa and leading conservative papabili allegedly had been unanimously elected  Pope and chosen the name Gregory XVII.  However, they claim that while still in Conclave, Siri’s election was suppressed under duress by grey eminence Dean Cardinal Eugene Tisserant to prevent the assassinations of Iron Curtain Bishops. Some even believe that the Kremlin had imitated a nuclear threat on the Holy See. So  Cardinal Siri supposedly said: "If you do not want me, then elect someone else".   This Siri election was supposedly corroborated by a CIA report, but the pages concerning the event have been lost. Curious that there is confirmation without credible corroboration.

After votes are tallied in a Conclave, an elected is asked if he accepts the election.  If so, he is asked for his desired regnal name.  At that point, he is Pope.  So if the Siri Thesis has merit, the Archbishop of Genoa had accepted and given the name “Gregory XVII”.  Afterwards, the vote was suppressed with threats.

Yet according to the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 187: "Resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself." Hence, Siri was the legitimate pope who was prevented from taking his place– Sede Impeditists– and the succeeding popes were anti-popes,.

The 1958 Conclave remained deadlocked for two more days. Since Conclave proceedings are secret, conspiracy theorists string together conjecture with fragments of “facts”.  According to the intrigue, Cardinal Federico Tedeschini, an 85 year old curial cardinal, was elected as a “transitional pope” but his acceptance was immediately quashed with threats.

Eventually, another transitional pope was sought, but bitter radical traditionalists bemoan that another compromise candidate the Patriarch of Venice Cardinal Angelo Roncalli, an alleged free mason, was elected Pope John XXIII on the eleventh ballot, facilitated by B'nai B'rith (Jewsish Masonic) alleged collaborator  Cardinal Tisserant. Some Sede Impeditists allege that a cabal of free mason cardinals which planned a “satanic coup d’etat” to install Roncalli as the 262nd Supreme Pontiff.

So radical traditionalist Catholics question Pope John XXIII’s election due to the Siri Thesis. Moreover they allege that  Archbishop Roncalli was initiated as a 33rd degree free mason at the Grand Orient Lodge while as nuncio in Paris in 1935 in Paris and participated in the Istanbul Workshops.  This charge hinges on a Mason’s confession 44 years after Pope John XXIII’s election. Of course, any Catholic who knowingly becomes a free mason incurs latae sententiae excommunication.

These supposed free mason allegations are bolstered by charges that the “Good Pope John’s” pectoral cross had symbols similar to masonic signs.  Moreover, Pope John XXIII’s policies of seeking closer relations with the Orthodox and other Christians were deemed  heretical by catholic dissenters as being masonic and may have also been an accommodation to Soviet Communists.  Some Pope John XXIII detractors also question his early associations with Modernist priests and comfort associating with known free masons and socialists.  So if nothing can be proven, this technique smears on a guilt by association.  Such critics will claim that heretics can not be considered legitimate popes.

As a historian, the 1958 Conclave had some interesting elements which makes one wonder.  The 49 electors, with many being curial lends credence to some “palace intrigue”.  Furthermore,  the initial puffs of white smoke combined with confusion in the Sede Vacante Vatican on the first day of the 1958 Conclave was  interesting, but inconclusive.  Allegations of a fifth column or satanic coup d’etat seem like fantastic filaments in a rad/trad yarn.

If one were to believe some sources, Cardinal Siri was elected several times before he finally accepted after an unanimous vote, which was supposedly vitiated by Cardinal Tisserant, who was orchestrating Cardinal Roncalli’s election.  However, if this were the case, why would the election of Pope John XXIII take seven more votes,  including an election of Cardinal Tedeschini, which is then quashed with more threats?  Cardinal Roncalli must have been a simple man kept out of the loop, as he had only packed a small suitcase for the Conclave and expected to quickly return to Venice.

Also, catholic dissenters quote from a Cardinal Tisserant letter in 1977 which claims that the election of John XXIII was illegitimate as it was willed and planned by forces alien to the Holy Spirit.  This is coming from Tisserant, who other sources peg as the eminence gris against Cardinal Siri’s election AND who negotiated the Vatican Kremlin secret concordat in 1962 (negotiated by Vatican envoy Cardinal Tisserant).  These contradictory claims call into credence either the coup claim or later laments of illegitimacy.

Most of the radical traditional condemnations of Pope John XXIII’s reign attribute elements of change in practice (but not in doctrine) which they can not reconcile.  The outreach to the Jews and the Orthodox seem anathematic to people who believe in Catholic supremacy.  These radical traditionals would bristle at altering a jot or tittle of Pope St. Pius V’s one true Tridentine Missal from 1570 and would scoff at the People of God worshiping in the vernacular as they should be saying Mass in the Lord’s language of Latin (sic).

Delving deeper into research to find sources that did not seem shaky, I found other interesting angles on the Siri Thesis.  As for the 1963 Conclave, there were charges that Cardinal Tisserant left the Conclave after Cardinal Siri was elected (again) to speak with members of B’nai B’rith (characterized elsewhere as a Jewish Lodge).  The B’nai B’rith representative announced that persecutions of the Church would begin at once if Siri became Pope.  "Jewish" Cardinal Augustine Bea, SJ is alleged to have dug up dirt on other Cardinals to blackmail them to support Cardinal Montoni . As the story goes, this news caused the Conclave to then elect Archbishop of Milan as Pope Paul VI.  This source does not slander Pope Paul VI as a free mason or a socialist as do other detractors.  

This source cites conversations in 1985 with Cardinal Siri in which Siri denied knowing of anyone leaving the Conclave in 1963.  Yet Siri intimates that he was twice elected Pope, in 1963 which he refused and for the second 1978 Conclave, which Siri supposedly was obliged to refuse to prevent a schism.  Thus the source claims that Pope Paul VI and Pope St. John Paul II were anti-popes. If we choose to believe former Jesuit novelist and biblical scholar Malachi Martin, Cardinal Siri was also elected in the first 1978 Conclave.  Conservative Catholics claim that Siri was elected at four conclaves but never actually assumed the Chair of St. Peter.

This sort of claim is curious.  Pro arguendo, taking Cardinal Siri’s alleged claims at face value, then what happened to his  1958 election?  Cardinal Siri supposedly did not care for Pope John XXIII and despised Pope Paul VI, yet he referred to them as pontiffs.  Surely a conservative Cardinal could have applied Canon Law and either disputed their elections or he could have resigned so as not to be obliged to serve under anti-popes. Yet Cardinal Siri remained as Archbishop of Genoa until 1987.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrecina 
One qualm about Pope John XXIII which does not fit into the convenient correlation category concerns the suppression of the Third Secret of Fatima.  St. Padre Pio was perturbed that Pope John XIII did not release the Third Secret of Fatima as the Madonna requested in 1960.  So in 1963, Padre Pio proclaimed that the Secret was a chastisement that compromise with Communists would allow the devil to infiltrate the Church.

So Padre Pio essentially charged Pope John XXIII with disobedience to the Madonna.  Had the Secret of Fatima been revealed, it is thought that the Catholic Faithful would not have countenanced a concordat between the Vatican and the Kremlin which kept Vatican II documents from expressly condemning communism in return.

There may have been some tension between the two Saints.  Pope John XXIII expressed his private disdain for St. Padre Pio as a straw man. Yet Pope Paul VI, another supposed fellow traveler like Pope John XXIII on the Modernist/Free Mason highway to Hell, brought Padre Pio back into good graces with the Vatican.  It would seem that these anti-popes do not coordinate well.

Reading plethora of scant sources of radical traditionalists on the matter, it seems that they will seize upon anything to confirm their suspicions against Modernism, Free Masonry, Internationalism (the New World Order) and even more sinister conspiracies.  The sketchy sourcing calls into question their conclusions, but their contention is that Free Masons also control messaging in the Church and secular sources would not contradict their corrupted Church conspirators.

I found several striking leitmotifs in the radical traditionalist critique of   “The Good Pope John”.  That very moniker originates from the world-wide affection for the portly pontiff, who was able to be companions to those on the margins.  No where in their literature was any good perceived from (anti) Pope John XXIII’s reign.  Perhaps this should not be a great surprise as most of them condemn all Popes from 1958 onward to be anti-popes.

It is hard to miss the strands of antisemitism mixed into these Sede Vacante and Sede Impeditist conspiracy theories.  The 1963 Conclave smear against B’nai B’rith is classic. Pope John XXIII wanted to improve relations with our Jewish brethren.  Pope John XXIII sought a relationship of mutual respect and mutual understanding with "the relatives of Jesus". Thus, Pope John XXIII referred to himself as “A son of Joseph” which leads some radical traditionalists to speculate if Pope John XXIII was a Jewish infiltrator who ascended to the pinnacle of the hierarchy. So not only do radical traditionalist claim that Pope John XXIII was a free mason, a socialist but also a Jewish infiltrator. It seems that such critics will smear at any cost.

 Another interesting aspect was the reliance that these radical traditional sources had on prophecies and how little focus on scripture.  Their interpretations of events were influenced by the Prophecies of Malachy (a twelfth century saint, but whose prophecies gained circulation four hundred years later), the secret of Our Lady of La Salette (1846) and linkage with the secret from Our Lady of Fatima (1917).  These prophecies of apostasy seem to contradict scripture from the Petrine primacy (Mt 16:18), the promise that Christ will remain with us from age to age (Mt. 28:20) and long held understandings of the Magisterium.  So radical traditionalists would seek prophetic voices over scriptural assurances that the Vicar of Christ will not lead his flock astray or abandon us.

After reading many radical traditional assessments of the Siri Thesis and conspiracies about (anti) Pope John XXIII sound like the fare common on Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM, which Malachi Martin was a frequent guest.  These  challenges to Pope John XXIII parallel conservative critiques and rejection of Vatican II longing for the days of glory epitomized in the Tridentine Mass.  So questioning the authenticity of Pope John XXIII’s election by the College of Cardinals conveniently vitiate any innovations of the Council and their successors without thinking themselves as schismatic.

The shifting narratives of the Siri Thesis (if one believes various sources, being elected but impeded in 1958, 1963 and twice in 1978) along with the ad hominem attacks on Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II sound more like sour grapes than serious charges.

In the end, the Sede Impeditists arguments underwhelm me and do not shake my faith about the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.  Ion Mikail Papeca, the Romanian Intelligence chief who defected to the west, makes a compelling case in Disinformation that the Soviets had engaged in prolonged media campaigns to discredit the Vatican, such as the smear that Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope” despite scores of contemporary evidence to the contrary.  Moreover, there are several instances where Soviet directed agents tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II, almost succeeding in May of 1981.  So Spies in the Vatican is not implausible.  But these Soviet double agents are melded with a cabal of free masons and modernists, which sounds paranoid and merits skepticism unless substantive corroboration is proffered.

Understand that radical traditionalists object to the “aggornamento” (updating) which the Second Vatican Council brought to the Catholic Church which shifted control of the Vatican from a clubby curia and failed to treat the Church like a museum. Hence, attacking the Shepherd to takes them to that place discredits him while driving home their traditionalist message.

The period of time during Pope John XXIII's reign was a time when conspiracies thrived.  Fifty years after the assassination, there have been scores of books about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. So it should be no surprise that during such turbulent times of change and the Cold War that people want to explain the unclear, like the false puffs of white smoke in the 1958 Conclave and fill in the blanks with prejudices and conspiracy theories.

It would behoove believers to examine the heroic virtues of Pope St. John XXIII rather than delve into Sede Impeditist and Sede Vacante fever swamps.  Or as Pope St. John XXIII put it: "The habit of thinking ill of everything and everyone is tiresome to our selves and to all around us."