Bloody Pirates on the Bark of Peter

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I wrote about ninety percent of the following essay more than half a year ago and then left it unfinished for some reason, which I don’t remember.  I thought it worthwhile to finish and publish at this time.

The age of chivalry was characterized—at least according to its ideals—by courtesy in warfare, that is, by a standard of fair play. Prowess was not pure aggression, and courtesy was not mere manners. Both were informed by fidelity and honesty, that is, by religious faith, human justice and sincerity. That was the Christian ideal anyway, not always realized, but as an ideal it created positive peer pressure that served to both perfect the arts of the warrior and check his ferocity.

Anyone who has heard or read anything I have to say on chivalry knows I say this often. It is fundamental.

In the last decade or so there has been a very happy resurgence of interest in that character of the Church we call “militant.” However, the peculiar keynote of Christian militancy is not the violent death of our earthly enemy, but the violent death and resurrection of our King, which puts death itself to death, and conquers our real enemy, the Prince of this World. Thus, the methods of alinskian secularism or of jihadist religion cannot be our methods. To put it another way, the belligerence of the pirate cannot be reconciled with the chivalry of the knight. Continue reading

Devotion

The president and the first lady are kind of like the mom and the dad of the country.

“Dad, will you protect us from all those nasty guns?”

“Sure, Johnny, we will have all the guns.”

“Dad, will you pay for our contraception?”

“Sure, Johnny, enjoy yourself.”

“Dad, will you let me marry Steve?”

“Of course, Jonny, as long as it makes you happy.”

“Dad, will you kill those bad men?”

“Jonny, you have no idea what they got coming,” thinking, “nor does anybody else.”

“Dad, you’re so smart!”

“You’re a good boy, Johnny.”

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.

Anne Rice Converts Back to Vampirism

“In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control,” the author wrote Wednesday on her Facebook page. “In the name of … Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

Rice will not be taking up vampires again, but she said she is a big fan of the HBO series “True Blood,” enjoyed the first two “Twilight” movies (she has yet to read any of the Stephenie Meyer novels) and is interested in seeing her most famous character, the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, return to the screen.

In spite of the above story’s emphasis on Rice’s non-return to vampire novels, Rice is, it seems, reverting to the back to the state of the undead.  I have not read her novels, but apparently, her vampires are sometimes homosexual (Lestat de Lioncourt), they are feminist (The Queen of the Damned), and certainly they are wildly erotic.  So when she says that she is leaving the Church because she refuses to stand against homosexuality, feminism and artificial birth control, she seems to be allaying herself once again with the world of vampirism.  (Here is the Anchoress’ take on Rice’s muddling of what the Church stands for and against.  The Church is not anti-anything.  It certainly is not anti-gay persons or anti-woman or anti-sex.)

This is particularly significant for me as I research the topic of the occult and literature.  The world of darkness is alive and well in the form of “new religious movements.”  Many of them propose themselves to be compatible with Christianity.  Rice goes on:

For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

This is the real peril of literary and theatrical occultism: the promotion of esoteric, occultist, non-conformist Christianity.  And that, my friends is blasphemous, sacrilegious and diabolical.  Satan is pedaling cheap peace, and when we accept it on his terms, he will cut our hearts out.

Hitchens on Gibson

Yet I still saw a report the other day about a fan site where the members were just beginning to ask, “What’s with him?” Why is there this reluctance to call something by its right name? It’s not as if Gibson was issuing a cry for help. On the contrary, what he is issuing is the distilled violence, cruelty, and bigotry—and sexual hypocrisy—that stretches from the Crusades through the Inquisition to the “concordats” between the church and Hitler and Mussolini. Yet he’s still reporting for work. When will Hollywood, and the wider society, finally decide to shun and spurn him utterly, both for what he is and for what he represents?

It is nice to know that even when he is sick Hitchens can fight bigotry with more bigotry.

Mel Gibson is an idiot whose mind has been polluted–not with the Catholic faith, but with the Rad Trad extremism coupled with Hollywood narcissism. I have to come clean because I did more than defend his movie in print.  I did so because it did not seem to me that there was anything in the movie that is not in the gospels or in the Stations of the Cross.   I see no reason to change that assessment, but Gibson sure does spoil the whole experience. . . it least he does for me.  Unfortunately, antisemitism is the soft, white underbelly of the Rad Trad movement.

The ironic thing is that the only one who is likely to salvage his sorry carcass is his Protestant wife, Robyn, whom he dumped for a chick half his age because he did not have a “spiritual connection” with his wife of nearly 30 years (according to him on one of the tapes),  and whom he thinks is going to hell, because she is not a Catholic, like him.

Hitchens is an opportunist, even when he is on death’s doorstep.  Gibson throws him a banana peel and he feels obliged to put his foot on it.

Pray for both of these knuckleheads.

Mystagogia

In my last post I promised more on the Holy Sepulcher and the Holy Grail and their relation to an Easter catechesis and the tradition of chivalry. There is much there to reflect on, much to be researched and assimilated, so it will take at bit more time.

Meanwhile, however, I thought I would point out that in the Office of Readings this week we have been reading from the the Jerusalem Catechesis, or otherwise known as the Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386).  The Catechesis consists in twenty-three lectures, the first eighteen of which were delivered to the candidates for baptism during Lent and the last five to the newly baptized during Easter, and is an excellent example of the mystogogia. In fact, at the end of the prologue for Lectures St. Cyril makes sure his readers understand that his instructions are only for those whose Baptism is imminent, and is to be seen neither by the other catechumens nor heathens.

St. Cyril admonishes the candidates for Baptism to shun all “secret hypocrisy,” in order to be fit for the Lord’s true service.   He compares the penetration of our souls by the judgment of God to a military review of recruits by one who levies for war.  He bestows his seal only upon those in whom He discerns a good conscience, in view of which the devils tremble and the holy angels recognize.  St. Cyril says:  “You are receiving not a perishable but a spiritual shield. Henceforth you are planted in the invisible Paradise . . .  it is God’s to grant grace, but yours to receive and guard it. Despise not the grace because it is freely given, but receive and treasure it devoutly” (Lecture 1, 3-4).  This is even before Baptism, hence prior to the mystagogia, but the saint is already admonishing the new recruits to be prepared for war and especially to to protect the paradise of their own souls.

During the mystogogia proper, when St. Cyril discusses the doctrine of the Eucharist:

Consider therefore the Bread and the Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to you, yet let faith establish you. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that the Body and Blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to you (Lecture 22, 6).

But he goes beyond the content of the doctrine and emphasizes to the newly baptized that the Eucharist has been prepared for those who have been anointed by the Lord, and thus they have been sealed against the afflictions of the evil spirits.  The Lord has set a “mystical and spiritual Table,” in opposition to table of corruption set against us by the enemy. Our hearts have been strengthened, he say,s and the “face of our souls” made to shine.

And your cup intoxicates me, as very strong. You see that cup here spoken of, which Jesus took in His hands, and gave thanks, and said, This is My blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Lecture 22, 6-7, 9).

This is the Holy Grail that we seek.  At the beginning of the mystogogia proper, St. Cyril speaks of the relation between the catechesis prior to baptism and that that is about to take place:

And these things were done in the outer chamber. But if God will, when in the succeeding lectures on the Mysteries we have entered into the Holy of Holies , we shall there know the symbolic meaning of the things which are there performed. Now to God the Father, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be glory, and power, and majesty, forever and ever. Amen (Lecture 19, 11).

We are not only searching, but we have already arrived.  We are in an in-between time, indeed.

The Easter octave is about to come to a close with the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday.  At that Mass we will pray:

O Lord our God, may we be healed now and forever by these sacred rites which You instituted to protect us in our new life of grace.

We have entered into the Holy of Holies, and that sanctuary is the Heart of Christ, whose mercy and grace is poured out as blood and water from His side.  We are healed and protected in Him, and in the Heart of His Holy Mother.  The true knighthood of Christ is the protection of these mysteries, first of all within our own Hearts.  That ultimately is the meaning of the crusade for the Holy Sepulcher and the Quest for the Holy Grail.  More on this next time.

St. Francis, the Sultan and Pope Benedict

The following excerpt is from yesterday’s Wednesday audience of the Holy Father in which he offered a reflection on the life of St. Francis.  This particular passage concerns St. Francis’ meeting with the sultan in Egypt in 1219, (my unofficial translation from the Italian):

Also the successor of Innocent III, Pope Honorius III, with the bull Cum dilecti of 1218 supported the singular development of the first Friars Minor, who went opening missions in various countries of Europe, and in Morocco. In 1219 Francis obtained permission to go and speak, in Egypt, with the Muslim sultan Melek-el-Kâmel, in order to preach the Gospel of Jesus there also.  I wish to underscore that this episode of the life of Saint Francis that has great relevance.  In an age marked by an ongoing conflict between Christianity and Islam, Francis, armed only with the faith and his personal gentleness, effectively followed the path of dialogue. The reports speak about a benevolent acceptance and cordial reception to us from the Muslim sultan.  It is a model that even today must inspire relations between Christian and Muslims: promote dialogue in truth, in reciprocal respect and mutual understanding.  (cfr Nostra Aetate, 3).

Continue reading

St. Francis, the Sultan and the President

I wrote the following essay some weeks ago, but never found time to edit and post it.  Since today is the feast of the Protomartyrs of the Franciscan Order, St. Berard and Companions, I thought it would be an auspicious time to bring this to light.

While I realize the historical figure of St. Francis lends itself to romanticizing and mythologizing because of the singularly extraordinary nature of his person, as a Franciscan it irritates me to see his life used as a political tool.  Paul Moses on the CNN Opinion website, does precisely this as he attempts to have St. Francis sucked into vortex of Obama-mania.  In addition to being the author of the CNN article entitled “Is Religion about War—or Peace?” Mr. Moses is the author of a new book called The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace. Mr. Moses is at pains to state that he does not “mean to liken Obama to Francis,” but, goes on to do precisely that and, in the process of expressing his admiration for Mr. Obama, he historically misrepresents the Seraphic Saint. Continue reading