[The difference between the old and the new education being] in a word, the old was a kind of propagation—men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda.
This is an old post that I have revised for today’s feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.
In 1940 during the Nazi occupation of Poland, St. Maximilian Kolbe was negotiating with the occupying commanders for permission to publish an edition of his magazine, The Knight of the Immaculate. The Nazis had taken control of Niepokalanow, the City of the Immaculate, located outside of Warsaw, where St. Maximilian had one of the largest printing operations in the world. The Nazis had sealed the printing presses with lead so that they could not be used.
They were well aware of the influence the saint had on the Polish populace and had endeavored to win him over to their cause. The Nazis had even offered to register him as a Volksdeutsche, because of his German sounding surname, so eager were they to have him as a collaborator and propagandist. St. Maximilian had boldly refused the offer, but kept on filling out applications for permission to publish his magazine, though in retaliation, the Nazis continued to reject them. Continue reading
Nobility is a patrimony of excellence handed on from one generation to the next. Fathers consider it their responsibility provide their sons with a better and more honorable life than they themselves have had. In turn, sons consider it their responsibility to treasure what they have received, to respect it and preserve it, and again, to augment it for the next generation. This is the ideal. The tradition of chivalry is one of the means by which it is strived for.
One can rightly say that the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have had the same noble responsibility, and tragically have failed to preserve and hand on the excellent patrimony of scouting in America to the next generation. Instead, through their capitulation to the homosexual agenda, they have created a profound contradiction between the broadbased ideals of scouting and the natural law. Worse, they make it impossible for Catholics to clarify and lift-up the scouting ideal in the light of the full revelation of Christ. Continue reading
Just took this in the Paddington train station. The gentleman said the Great Horned Owl is used for taking care of the pigeons, of which there are many at Paddington. I have seen the noble bird before at the station, but have not yet been fortunate enough to seem him in action. One has hope. I am not sure what “taking care of” exactly means, but I will let you know when I find out.
I would like to suggest the reason why I believe there may be a discrepancy between the way saints in previous times enforced the norms of modesty, and why the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not seem to promote those standards, at least not explicitly. This is a follow-up on my previous post, and especially on the comments which were pretty heated.
The catechism states “the forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another.” By extension, I would say also that these forms can also vary with time. Even the solutions provided by the saints vary, though clearly they are all very strict, at least the ones presented in the comments from my last post on this subject. But if St. Pio required eight inches below the knee for skirts, this is more than twice as strict, so to speak, as what was indicated by Pius XII. This tells me that the solutions are pastoral. In effect they are contingent applications of an unchanging principle. Such contingent applications do, in fact, depend on many things, not excluding the person doing the enforcing. What St. Pio might successfully accomplish by his strictness in an area of Southern Italy prior to or preserved from the sexual revolution, is different from what I might successfully accomplish now in secular England. Continue reading
We are not called to be mimics of the Blessed Mother, dressing as would be appropriate for a first-century Palestinian peasant woman (e.g., long veils, skirts to the floor, sandals). We are called to imitate the Blessed Mother in her virtues. In terms of modesty, that might mean dressing in a way that is appropriate to one’s culture and circumstances, not drawing undue attention to oneself either in one’s dress or undress, remaining circumspect about one’s own choices, and not denouncing the reasonable choices of others.
Overall, I agree with this article of Michelle Arnold. However, what tends to happen in discussions about modesty is that those on one side of the debate tend to present a caricature of the other side or generalize too much about the habits of the other side. In particular, I disagree with her remark about Fatima. I believe it is pretty clear what fashions Our Lady was referring to: the ones that lead many souls to hell. Enough said.
But I believe she is spot on with the last sentence in the quote. Modesty is both objective and subjective: it has to do both with the manner of dress and behavior of the one who is looked at, and the internal dispositions of the one who looks (or doesn’t look). Continue reading
“My attitude is … that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life,” he said.
“The Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to, you know, opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives, and I think that nobody should be barred (from) that.”
Uh, nobody is barred from it, unless they insist that the Boys Scouts condone something contrary to their purpose and oath.
Consider, for example, the widespread problem of pornography. One could speculate that there are a number of Scout Masters and Boy Scouts who have a problem with it. But no one would ever be barred from the Boy Scouts for that problem, unless they made their problem the Boy Scout’s problem. The policy of the Boy Scouts expresses a moral objection to the public legitimization of homosexual behavior.
This is not a political issue about which Dear Leader has anything more to say than I do.
I have tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger. Someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.
Love, sacrifice and the primacy of the ordinary life, enjoyed as the fruit of freedom, are the beginning and end of The Lord of the Rings. The story begins with the microcosm of the ordinary, the Shire, among Hobbits who have little knowledge or care for the bigger and darker currents swirling around their little world. The story ends with a bewildered Sam arriving back at his home, just having concluded a long hero’s journey, bearing all the tragedy and loss that it entailed, saying: “Well, I’m back.”
Although the conflict arising from the logic of power, symbolized by the Ring, dominates the story, Tolkien said that LOTR is really about love, sacrifice and the struggle for happiness that arises out of the limitations of our mortality. Frodo is an icon of those limitations. Small in stature, he was made even smaller in the comparison to his quest, the accomplishment of which Gandalf himself claimed was based only on a “fool’s hope.” That the Shire might be saved Frodo has to give up everything, including any rational hope of succeeding. And in the end it is precisely in his failure that he succeeds. In Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse, which some argue had a significant influence on Tolkien, Our Lady tells the Frodo-like figure of King Albert, whom She sends on a fools quest:
“I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
“Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?”
Here we go on to the next phase of the “redemption of desire” pop-spirituality ride. Matt McGuiness urges us to take “a second look at porn,” so that we can get in touch with the fact that illicit sexual desire is really a misguided attempt at finding happiness. Did I miss something? Isn’t that what Catholics have always believed? Isn’t all sin the choice of an apparent but false good over what is truly good in an attempt to be happy?
Of course, what separates the search for real happiness from that of its counterfeit is a lie. In his opening, McGuiness treats the lie of sodomy rather glibly with a raunchy pop-reference. Unfortunately, those things that St. Paul says must not even be named among you (Eph 5:3) are now part of the cultural fabric, so they have to be dealt with. But if it is true that a lie told over and over again gains plausibility just by the retelling, then our casual familiarity with depravity gives the perverse and diabolical an air of normality. The devil must be given his due: now we give porn a second look because it teaches us how happy we want to be. The problem with pornography according to McGuiness: it does not go far enough. I think McGuiness has taken the bait.
Christopher West has quoted me in his new book, At the Heart of the Gospel: Reclaiming the Body for the New Evangelization.
Here is West’s own description of the book which he relates to the debate that has rippled across the internet and to which this blog has contributed:
In the midst of these conversations, my work as a popularizer of John Paul II’s teaching has been the subject of some rather harsh critiques. During an extended sabbatical in 2010, I reflected prayerfully on the various challenges my work has received, seeking to glean as much as possible from what various authors were saying. This book is the fruit of those reflections (2).
Kevin O’Brien of the Theater of the Word Incorporated has posted on the subject of West’s critique of my statements. The source of those statements was a guest post I wrote for Dawn Eden. West does not cite his source, so his readers have no ability to assess my statements in their context or to familiarize themselves with my overall line of thought.
I have commented on Kevin O’Brien’s post, so you will find there the substance of my response. Below the images of West’s book in this post I will summarize.
I will summarize first by stating what I think West and both agree on:
- The body and sex are good and holy as God intended them from the beginning.
- Modesty is not simply a matter of hiding the body of the desirable, but also of the interior transformation of the one who desires.
- Sexual desire and pleasure in and of themselves are very good.
- Concupiscence in respect to sexual desire and pleasure is never entirely absent.
- An exalted view of the body and sexuality is helpful to developing a life of chastity.
- Repression, prudery and body hatred are counterproductive to living a life of chastity.
- Lustful desires are always sinful.
Before I state the points on which we disagree I need to make a clarification about what I understand to be West’s position. When he discusses issues of modesty there are two things happening. Even if he is only at that moment suggesting a course of action appropriate to a man’s dealing with incidental exposure to a woman’s values, beyond this West believes that sexual values in and of themselves are the appropriate objects of spiritual fascination. It is not simply a matter of dealing with potential temptations in the most appropriate and spiritually developed way. It is a matter of subduing concupiscence and concentrating on sexual values for their theological significance. This has tremendous import to West’s position.
After all West speaks about the language of the body precisely in terms of sexual values. Those values, sexual desire, sexual pleasure and the conjugal act itself point beyond themselves to desire for unity with God, the bliss of heaven and the mutual self-giving of God and the soul. So when West suggests that we should have a holy fascination with the body and sex, as he does, for example in Heaven’s Song (notice the bed floating on the clouds), there is no question that West is advocating a holy rejoicing in the sexual values of the body, sexual desire and pleasure, and the conjugal act itself precisely in the incidence of a man’s exposure to a woman’s nakedness (not one’s spouse).
So here is where I disagree with West; I will express it in terms of my own position:
- The Theology of the Body offers no magic bullet. Consider that the sexual values of the body, sexual desire and pleasure and the very conjugal act are in fact good and holy. In view of this it is impossible to deny that a true and religious appreciation for such values, particularly in the presence of visual stimuli, is supposed to arouse sexual desire and pleasure. But the tendency to indulge such things in reference to a woman who is not one’s spouse is a function of concupiscence and is disordered. Specialized knowledge, namely, TOB, changes none of this.
- A holy appreciation for the sexual values of the body, sexual desire and pleasure and the conjugal act itself excited in conjunction with stimuli, provided by a woman not one’s wife, goes well beyond the theological, philosophical, and artistic expressions of John Paul II. This is the doctrine of West, not Blessed John Paul II.
- West & Co. are living in a dream world if they want to tell us on the one hand that our pure and holy fascination is precisely with sexual values insofar as they are the object of sexual desire and pleasure, and yet as we rejoice in such desire and pleasure we experience none ourselves. What exactly is a holy fascination with sexual values of real persons who are not one’s spouse, precisely because those values excite desire and pleasure, and which do not function under the influence of concupiscence and tend toward lust? This is not true mysticism. It is mystagogery—old fashioned, pagan sex mysticism.
- Stating plainly that there is an objective component to modesty is consistent with both Catholic doctrine and common sense. The sensory exposure to sexual values has an objective and per se normal and in se wholesome effect of the arousal of sexual desire and pleasure, and therefore, in reference to the body of someone not one’s spouse, is inappropriate insofar as the body of someone not one’s spouse becomes the object of sexual desire and pleasure. The realtime resolution of actual instances is a function of prudence. Sexual values are always present, whether or not there is a real infraction of objective modesty. The language of the body speaks eloquently fully clothed. I am not arguing for a modesty police, but I do advocate for solutions in which the man takes as much responsibility for his own reactions to what he considers immodesty as he would like a woman to take for the way she dresses. In the end no amount of modesty regulation will solve a man’s problem with lust.
- To suggest that there is an objective component to modesty does not put the blame on the woman. Some men, I am sure, think that it does. That is not, nor has it ever been my position. Assigning blame solves nothing, and it most often is unjust and uncharitable. However, if there were potentially blame to assign, say by some god-like knowledge, the inference would not be freudian. To suggest that there might be sexual motives behind the revelation of sexual values need not be based on the premise that everyone always acts for sexual motives. This is a non-sequitur.