Catholic Encampment 2011

This year’s Catholic Encampment for fathers and sons will be conducted at Camp Canonicus, Exeter, Rhode Island, not far from the Griswold friary:

Friday, September 9 – Sunday, September 11

Click image to link to Encampment Page that includes the encamplment flyer, registration information and the registration and release form.

The image in the side bar has the link also and will remain there for the duration.

Templar Tragedy

Considering the fact that I have blogged quite a bit on the Templars in the past, I thought I might be obliged to take time out from my book to write something about the reptile, Anders Behring Breivik, who claims some kind of affiliation with the Templars.  That turns out to be more Templar baloney.

I am not going to waste much time on this, as his manifesto is revealed to be what one would expect, mostly a cut and paste of any kind of conservatism he could find to justify his racism and his plans for violent revolution.  Not that conservative thought leads to the recent events in Norway any more than liberal thought necessarily leads to the dirty deeds of Bill Ayers.

When I first read that Brievik was supposedly a “Christian Fundamentalist,” I thought to myself that he is more than likely some kind of esoteric “Christian.”  In fact, he is a Freemason, but that does not explain things either, because Norwegian Freemasonry is a “rectified rite” that has jettisoned the myth about the Templar origins of the Masons.

Brievik has founded his own “church.”   It is of a cut and paste construction, just like his manifesto: part Christian, part neopagan Odinist, part Freemason and whatever.  I would also add that his church is Nazi as well, but he says that Nazism has been so demonized that  “it is pointless to try to resurrect it in any way or form.”  His interest in Christianity is about cultural unity for Europe through the common patrimony that Christianity offers.  He says he is not interested in a relationship with Jesus.  He is interested in his Norse and European cultural and racial heritage.  And kill anyone who gets in the way.

In spite of his claim that he is a member of a larger cell, I will be surprised if that turns out to be true.  I think he is a lone nutbag, at least in terms of his terrorist agenda.

I once speculated that Europe’s choice to ignore its Christian patrimony in the formation of the European Union would result in the rise of nationalist fascism with a pseudo-Christian face.  There you have it.  Brievik has probably done what others have thought about doing but who were not crazy enough to actually do.  Europe has abandoned Christianity and that is a huge void to fill—rather it is a void that cannot be filled.  So Europe swirls with the liberal culture of death, Islamism and fascism.  Did I mention neopaganism?

The spirit of Benedict, Patron of Europe, resides in the heart of our Holy Father who, commenting on this tragedy said:

I want to again repeat my grief-stricken appeal to all to abandon forever the way of hatred and to run away from the logic of evil.

Shortly after his election to the pontificate the Holy Father explained the importance of the Patron of Europe and his relation to the name of the new pope:

he  constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization.”

His point was for the people of Europe “to hold firm Christ’s central position” in their lives.

Brievik mentions among other things the Battle of Vienna and the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary.  Unfortunately, he entirely misses the point.  Whose side is Our Lady on?   And a better question would be:  Who is on Her side?  This battle is not of flesh and blood but of principalities and powers.  Catholics need their fortitude back, but we can do without the romantic pieties of externalist chivalry.

Brievik is a chivalric fool, spouting crusading platitudes and quoting St. Bernard’s In Praise of the  New Knighthood, and then writing the following.

While being chivalrous is a good thing in ordinary day-to-day life, it will undoubtfully be fatal in any armed confrontation.

This Templar is a pure romantic.  What does he think chivalry was for, if not armed confrontation?  What he means by explaining away the purpose of chivalry is that one should not lack the pragmatism and cynicism to kill women.  Apparently, he forgot to mention the necessity of killing children in that section.  He gets all dressed up in his Templar tux:  a knight in shining armor, phonier than Lancelot.

Brievik is a self-proclaimed pragmatist, and a conspiracy nut, who in one breath ridicules conspiracy theory and then posits his own without blinking.

Brievik’s case is an example of conservative cultural engineering in the hands of a madman.  We have seen it before.  What Brievik has lacked is a charismatic personality.  He seems to have been pretty much a reclusive pseudo-intellectual who could not invest his time and energy in anything so philistine as deep personal relationships.  I guess it is easier to kill that way.

I think cultural engineering is a bad idea in anyone’s hands.  The long and the short of it is that culture is the result of organic change that takes place with the transformation of hearts and minds, usually over a long period of time with the cost of the blood, sweat and tears of a people’s ancestors.  Someone has to be willing to build a cathedral knowing that he will never see it finished.

What we need is Our Lady of Victory.  We had better be careful about what crusades we call and the drums we beat and the pseudo-elites we try to create.  Marian chivalry is a thing altogether different.

May God have mercy on the souls of Brievik’s victims and may God bring consolation to those who this killer has left bereaved.  And May God have mercy on his soul, as hard as that is to pray for.

May God have mercy on us all.

Still Here

Absorbed in my thoughts on the occult/Harry Potter book, I have not even thought about posting here recently.  I did take a break a month ago to write an article for Inside the Vatican on the Theology of the Body.  It was published in the June-July issue under the title “The Pagan Temptation” (39-41).  I am grateful for the opportunity.

Here is a short excerpt that touches upon a topic which will be addressed at length in my book:

If the imagination is the place where illustrative analogies must be devised for the sake of apologetics and evangelization, and if it is also the place where the mythological and magical way of thinking reorganizes images for the purposes of mystical experience and psychic control over nature, then we should be careful not to confuse these two functions.  Avoiding such confusion might prove to be particularly difficult if the matter at hand involves erotic images, because the imagination is also the place where we are particularly vulnerable to the demonic.

I will not be writing much about the issue of chastity in the book.  However, the imagination and its role in both evangelization and its abuse through the occult will be a major theme.

Please pray that I can successfully bring this book to a conclusion.  Thanks.

I will leave you with another article I wrote recently for our international magazine.

Our Lady’s Presence in Blessed John Paul II

I too wish to begin my reflection on the role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and on her active and exemplary presence in the life of the Church.

–Blessed Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater

In this way the new blessed of the Church, Pope John Paul II, describes the subject of his great Marian Encyclical in its opening section.  Mary, he writes, has a role “in the mystery of Christ,” and She has a presence within the Church that is “active and exemplary.”  In stating this, he is echoing St. Paul in the Letter to the Galatians where the Apostle writes of the fullness of time in which God sent for the his Son, born of a woman, so that we might receive the adoption of sons (4:4-6).  In his own Life Blessed Pope John Paul II showed that what he wrote about the Blessed Mother’s presence in the Church he also experienced personally.

Marian Mediation and Presence

In Catholic tradition this relationship of Mary with the Church has been called Her universal mediation of graces, though today in many Catholic circles the use of this language had come to be considered unfashionable and “unecumenical.”  In reality, the terminology is entirely consistent with scripture, because God did send His son through the mediation of a woman, as St. Paul says.  Jesus became a member of our family through Mary, so that we might become members of His family through Mary.

St. Paul’s statement puts Mary between God and our adoptive sonship.  That is what we mean by Marian mediation.  In fact, in the encyclical letter, Blessed John Paul II expressly states: “She puts herself ‘in the middle,’ that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother” (21).

The great pope of this Marian age, not only made it fashionable to speak about Marian mediation again, he gave our understanding of this role of Our Lady his characteristic personalist touch.  He calls it Her “active and exemplary presence in the life of the Church.”  Just as he says “she puts herself ‘in the middle’ . . . in her position as mother,” so he indicates that this middle position is a kind of “active and exemplary presence.”  Our Mother is with us and She acts from within and with power.

Mary’s mediation of graces is described by some theologians as functioning in a physical way, which is simply to say that it produces its effect by means of a kind of power.  Blessed Pope John Paul does not contradict this, but rather emphasizes that this power does not simply pass through Our Lady as though She was a conduit of spiritual energy, as it were, but her mediation is a function of Her spiritual motherhood by which She deeply and personally helps to constitute, maintain and augment a filial relationship between us and God, our Father.  Grace is the life of God and Mary is mother in the order of grace.  She is present in our lives in an “active and exemplary” way.

Active Presence

Mary’s active presence in the Church means precisely that She is more than a channel.  In the encyclical, Blessed John Paul really makes this very clear by using words in Latin to express the fact that Mary’s presence is deep and dynamic.  For example, “active” presence is designated by the word actuosa rather than activa, which indicates that the presence is not a matter so much of physical action, but of “a really deep, personal” kind of communion.  Incidentally, when today when the Church encourages “active participation” in the liturgy, the word used is actuosa (Ratzinger Report, 127), indicating that we should enter deeply and consciously into the mystery of the liturgical rite.  Mary enters deeply and personally into the lives of Her children.

Elsewhere in the encyclical, when Blessed John Paul writes about Our Lady’s presence he uses words that indicate a dynamic presence. For instance, seven times he uses a form of the phrase praesens adest (translated “is present”) in which the adest bears the nuance of “to be toward by way of action.”  He writes that Mary, “in a discreet yet direct and effective way” made the mystery of Christ present to humanity. This direct and efficacious mediation of Christ’s presence by Mary, the Holy Father tells us, continues to this day. “Through the mystery of Christ, she too is present within mankind”  (19).  He also writes that Mary is present “in the history of souls,” that is, through the interior pilgrimage of faith, which is both personal and immediate (25).

Exemplary Presence

Mary’s exemplary presence in the Church means that Mary is both the model and mother of the Church.  Blessed John Paul writes (again, using the verb praesens adhest) that Mary is a “permanent model” (perenne exemplar) or “figure” (typus) of the Church and that She, “present in the mystery of Christ, remains constantly present also in the mystery of the Church” (42).  Later on he says that to call Mary model and figure of the Church is not sufficient but instead relates Her role of model to Her motherhood of the Church (47).  And in a general audience of August 6, 1997, he clarified that by calling Mary type of the Church he was not referring to Her as an “imperfect prefiguration,” but as an “example of perfection to be followed and imitated” (3,4).  In other words, Mary is present to each of us as a living example who acts personally and deep within in us as a true mother.

We can say, then that the active and exemplary presence of Our Lady in the mystery of the Church, is a real, deep, immediate, personal and active involvement of Our Lady in the life of Our soul, where She imprints Her own thoughts, dispositions and virtues as Model and Mother and Mediatrix.

The Presence of Blessed John Paul II

In his homily for the beatification of John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI commented on the “theological vision” of the new blessed which he discovered as a young man and nurtured throughout his life.  Blessed John Paul contemplated Our Lady’s presence at the foot of the Cross next to Jesus.  This is what he meant to signify when he chose for his papal coat-of-arms, an “M” to the lower right of a cross, with the inscription, Totus Tuus, taken from the words of St. Louis Grignon de Montort, meaning “I belong entirely to you.”  In the homily Pope Benedict said:

Mary does not appear in the accounts of Christ’s resurrection, yet hers is, as it were, a continual, hidden presence: she is the Mother to whom Jesus entrusted each of his disciples and the entire community. In particular we can see how Saint John and Saint Luke record the powerful, maternal presence of Mary in the passages preceding those read in today’s Gospel and first reading. In the account of Jesus’ death, Mary appears at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25), and at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles she is seen in the midst of the disciples gathered in prayer in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14) [emphasize mine].

In this great new hero of the Church, we are blessed with his celestial presence, as we miss his earthly one, and we pray that we might have his vision of Our Lady, so that we might truly know how deeply and actively She is present within the Church and within our own souls.  This great Marian pope, has taught us the full truth about Mary and has lived that teaching in an extraordinary way.  He acknowledged Her presence in his own mission and especially in his extraordinary suffering, and he invoked her presence on the Church and on each individual soul.  May our own deep and personal participation in the presence of Mary lead us along the same path is this great Marian apostle. Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us.