Spring Encampment Is Coming!

The Spring Encampment page is up. The even will take place on the weekend of May 23-25. The Advertising Flyer and Registration and Release Forms are available, plus all the details can be found there as well.

Please print out the Advertising Flyer and post it where you can. Let’s get the word out!

The linked thumbnail below will remain in the side bar, so it will always be visible on the site.

Click on the thumbnail:

Latest on the Slow Suicide of the West

British police tell a convert from Islam to Christianity who has been threatened by local Muslims that he should stop being a crusader and move to another place.

Mushy Muslim Mind Melt. Bye bye England. Tragic. Follow the source:

A British citizen who converted to Christianity from Islam and then complained to police when locals threatened to burn his house down was told by officers to “stop being a crusader”, according to a new report.

Nissar Hussein, 43, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, who was born and raised in Britain, converted from Islam to Christianity with his wife, Qubra, in 1996. The report says that he was subjected to a number of attacks and, after being told that his house would be burnt down if he did not repent and return to Islam, reported the threat to the police. It says he was told that such threats were rarely carried out and the police officer told him to “stop being a crusader and move to another place”. A few days later the unoccupied house next door was set on fire.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a British human rights organisation whose president is the former Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, is calling on the UN and the international community to take action against nations and communities that punish apostasy.

Its report, No Place to Call Home, claims that apostates from Islam are subject to “gross and wideranging human rights abuses”. It adds that in countries such as Britain, with large Muslim populations in a Westernised culture, the demand to maintain a Muslim identity is intense. “When identities are precarious, their enforcement will take an aggressive form.”

The Marian Dimension of Mother Teresa’s Dark Night

Not so long ago, with the publication of Blessed Mother Teresa’s letters to her spiritual director much misinformation was disseminated about her “dark night,” namely, that is Mother had lost her faith. The arch-atheist, Christopher Hitchen’s and other anti-Catholic enthusiasts were quick to vilify this holy woman, whose trial should be a source of edification.

Recently Zenit interviewed Missionary of Charity Father Joseph Langford, cofounder with Mother Teresa of her community of priests, the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, about his new book Mother Teresa: In the Shadow of Our Lady.

Blessed Teresa, like Our Lady, took the road to Jerusalem in obedience to Jesus: Unless you pick up your cross and carry it, you cannot be my disciple. Perseverance in the dark night of faith is spiritual chivalry, spiritual prowess and largess, and in the case of Mother Teresa, it is an extension of the Marian Way of Beauty.

One cannot argue with likes of a blasphemer like Hitchens. In an debate between him and Bill Donahue of the Catholic League he referred to the faith-based defense of Mother as “white noise.” All we can do is say to Hitchens is “come and see.” His only hope is the Way of Beauty . . . and of course, prayer and fasting. Here is an excerpt of the Zenit interview with Father Langford: Continue reading

Through Brunt of Battle to Glory of Victory

In my last post, I had mentioned the vow of blood professed by some friars to defend the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and how such conviction and devotion led to the Franciscan Triumph. It was certainly a form of chivalry, and not entirely bookish, especially by virtue of such a vow. Prowess directed toward the preservation of all that is true, good and beautiful: is this not true manliness?

Here is Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B. on the Triumph of the Immaculate Conception and Her Knights. (Notice how the good Benedictine is humble to tip his hat to the Friars Minor. Would that Our Lady’s Brothers of Penance in the Order of Penance be so self-forgetful.):

But, whilst thus mentioning the different nations which have been foremost in their zeal for this article of our holy faith, the Immaculate Conception, it were unjust to pass over the immense share which the seraphic Order, the Order of St. Francis of Assisi, has had in the earthly triumph of our blessed Mother, the Queen of heaven and earth. As often as this feast comes round, is it not just that we should think with reverence and gratitude on him, who was the first theologian that showed how closely connected with the divine mystery of the Incarnation is this dogma of the Immaculate Conception? First, then, all honour to the name of the pious and learned John Duns Scotus! And when at length the great day of the definition of the Immaculate Conception came, how justly merited was that grand audience, which the Vicar of Christ granted to the Franciscan Order, and with which closed the pageant of the glorious solemnity! Pius IX. received from the hands of the children of St. Francis a tribute of homage and thankfulness, which the Scotist school, after having fought four hundred years in defence of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, now presented to the Pontiff.

In the presence of the fifty-four Cardinals, forty-two archbishops, and ninety-two bishops; before an immense concourse of people that filled St. Peter’s, and had united in prayer, begging the assistance of the Spirit of truth; the Vicar of Christ had just pronounced the decision which so many ages had hoped to hear. The Pontiff had offered the holy Sacrifice on the Confession of St. Peter. He had crowned the statue of the Immaculate Queen with a splendid diadem. Carried on his lofty throne, and wearing his triple crown, he had reached the portico of the basilica; there he is met by the two representatives of St. Francis: they prostrate before the throne: the triumphal procession halts: and first, the General of the Friars Minor Observantines advances, and presents to the holy Father a branch of silver lilies: he is followed by the General of the Conventual Friars, holding in his hand a branch of silver roses. The Pope graciously accepted both. The lilies and the roses were symbolical of Mary’s purity and love; the whiteness of the silver was the emblem of the lovely brightness of that orb, on which is reflected the light of the Sun; for, as the Canticle says of Mary, ‘she is beautiful as the moon. The Pontiff was overcome with emotion at these gifts of the family of the seraphic patriarch, to which we might justly apply what was said of the banner of the Maid of Orleans: ‘It had stood the brunt of the battle; it deserved to share in the glory of the victory.’ And thus ended the glories of that grand morning of the eighth of December, eighteen hundred and fifty-four.

Allow Me to Praise Thee, O Holy Virgin

This is the title of the reatreat I am giving our sisters here in Bloomington, Indiana who are preparing to renew their vows on the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The line comes from a prayer composed spontaneously be Blessed John Duns Scotus, and which has entered into the language of the liturgy as an antiphon from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The full text is Allow me to praise Thee O Holy Virgin, give me strength against Thine enemies.

The story goes that Scotus was on his way by foot to Paris where he was to defend the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception during a disputation conducted at the great University of Paris. Along the way he passed by a wayside shrine of Our Blessed Lady, and was inspired to kneel down and say this prayer. Our Blessed Lady was pleased to acknowledge the humility and devotion of her servant by miraculously manifesting that the prayer had been heard and answered.

The statue animated and bowed to the Blessed John, and he went on to Paris to brilliantly defend Our Lady’s prerogative of Her Immaculate Conception. The Franciscan Order has generally been recognized as one of the principle instruments for the defense and articulation of the dogma. Blessed Pope Pius IX, in fact, used the argumentation of Blessed John Duns Scotus as the basis for the papal bull defining the dogma in 1854. That defining moment is know affectionately within the Order as the Franciscan Triumph.

St. Maximilian Kolbe believed that the dogma was a blueprint for Catholic life, a battle plan for the crushing of the serpent’s head in our godless age. His act of consecration is a chivalric commitment, in our order a vow of blood to fight under Our Lady’s banner for the extension of the kingdom of Christ. Allow me to praise Thee O Holy Virgin, give me strength against Thine enemies.

St Maximilian attached this antiphon to end of his solemn act of consecration and also composed a longer prayer inspired by it: Continue reading

Manly Marian Militance

On Saturday I conducted a day of recollection for the Knights of Lepanto. The question as to whether there is such a thing as Catholic masculinity was one of the main topics.

In the course of my presentation I brought up the controversy between Cardinal John Henry Newman and Charles Kingsley. Kingsley accused the recent convert to Romanism, Newman, and the Catholic clergy generally, of dishonesty. The polemical exchange between the two thinkers generated Newman’s masterful defense of his conversion and of the Catholic faith, Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

In the debate, much more was at stake than just the honor of the the Catholic clergy. Kingsley was an advocate of “Muscular Christianity,” a kind of manly expression of Christian faith, which emphasized physical exercise and sport as a necessary balance to a more bookish approach to Christian spirituality. While much can be said for a distinctly manly expression of Christian faith (as is often advocated here), Kingsley went further, by blaming Catholic Marian devotion and asceticism for the emasculation of the Church, and especially Catholic men.

Newman refuted Kingsley soundly, but the assertion that Catholic spirituality produces effeminate men is an idea that remains. Leon Podles in The Church Impotent: The Femininization of Christianity traces the current of bridal spirituality throughout the history of the Church, and even notes the Marian character of western chivalry as a contributing factor to the development of feminine spirituality. He also points out that while St. Bernard was one of the foremost influences on the development of bridal spirituality, he was also the great promoter of the Knights Templar, that is, of militant spirituality. While Podles critiques much of the ascetical and marian dimension of the western Church, he does admit that bridal spirituality is a part of the scriptural data.

Bridal spirituality cannot be jettisoned. Marriage is the fundamental metaphor for the spiritual life. It is the great sacrament as St. Paul says in Ephesians 5. It is the sacrament of nature; man is created male and female, and as such is the image and likeness of God. Christ is, in fact the Bridegroom and the Church the Bride. These realities are too fundamental to minimize.

If we adopt the language of Benedict XVI which he uses in the inaugural encyclical of his pontificate, Deus Caritas Est, and speak about the necessary balancing of eros (possessive love) by agape (oblative love), indeed if we assert the primacy of agape over eros, I think we have the answer to what sometimes might legitimately be perceived a feminizing tendency of bridal spirituality. Asceticism or perhaps better, spiritual discipline need not appear exclusively contemplative and oriented to religious experience. It is also part of the training of the whole man to confront the World, the Flesh and the Devil, our cosmic enemies. Likewise, Marian devotion is not merely the imitation of Our Lady’s virtues, particularly Her feminine virtues, but a commitment to defend all that is true, good and beautiful. Our Captain, Christ the Lord, enters into battle for the sake of His Bride and defeats the Dragon, but only at the oblative cost of His life. Yes, in the end oblation is a manner of submissiveness to the provident will of God. It is obedience. But it is also an undaunted militance. It is warrior spirituality. It seems that the real argument here is about the right balance.

On Saturday, one of the guys asked if I could give a practical example where the critique of Muscular Christianity against Catholic spirituality has shown itself false. After a little thought, I replied that perhaps the best example is the almost universal compromise of Protestantism with contraception. Wayward eroticism not only produces effete men who are more occupied with words and feelings than actions and principles, it also produces, as we know, men who brutally subordinate women to their own desire for sexual gratification. Only in the Church where the Virginity of Our Lady, and the ideals of consecrated chastity have been retained has the full doctrine on the sanctity of matrimony and chaste love survived.

Contraception is a plague upon our world which must be fought to the death, and those who choose to do so face humanly insurmountable odds. Even in nations where the demographics are radically changing and birthrates are well below the replacement rates, governments are finding that their efforts to encourage large families with entitlements are ineffective. The sort of self-indulgence which is involved in contracepting the future has certainly not produced a manly culture.  On the other hand, facing the monster and fighting against it, no matter how difficult or lonely the quest might be, is exactly the militant and evangelical spirit necessary to restore manliness to religious experience.

It seems to me that it is only chivalry, specifically Marian Chivarly, that guarantees for men, both prayer and action, chastity and strength, obedience and authority.  I will fully admit, though, that if Our Lady remains only and ideal and not the living and acting Queen Mother in the order of grace and prayer, then the extremes are not likely to be avoided.

Pope Benedict on Religious Liberty

The Holy Father just finished his address to the United Nations General Assembly. My friends we need to take this to heart. Don’t let the secularists shut you up.

It is inconceivable, then, that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves – their faith – in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature. The full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order. Indeed, they actually do so, for example through their influential and generous involvement in a vast network of initiatives which extend from Universities, scientific institutions and schools to health care agencies and charitable organizations in the service of the poorest and most marginalized. Refusal to recognize the contribution to society that is rooted in the religious dimension and in the quest for the Absolute – by its nature, expressing communion between persons – would effectively privilege an individualistic approach, and would fragment the unity of the person.

The Church of Oprah

Oprah has become a real cult prophetess. For some time, she has been in cahoots with sham artist and new age guru Eckhart Tolle, as was pointed out here by prolepticlife not so long ago. The latest information indicates that this is not just a passing interest. What is more, her new religion is also good for her bottom line:

And what’s different about the Tolle connection for Winfrey is that for the first time in her much-applauded Book Club’s history, she’s gone into business with the author. And the author is not one of a novel, memoir or cookbook; he’s the mysterious creator of a philosophy that Winfrey endorses and suggests her readers live their lives by.

I noticed that even Salon.com was scandalized by Oprah’s crooked promotion of The Secret.

Just how shameless is all this too-good-to-be-true hype that has become the hallmark of Oprahware? Salon author Peter Birkenhead refers to The Secret sham as a “bottle of minty-fresh snake oil.”

Here is just one example: when I was researching The Secret, I took a look at the cast of characters employed by the author Rhonda Byrne. One of her gurus is a gentleman by the name of “Dr.” Joe Vitale, who goes under the revealing nickname of Mr. Fire (take it as you like), and promotes himself as a marketing expert. Indeed. I checked out some of his books. If this is not a red flag, I do not know what is. That’s right, the title is Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words. Now that’s shameless.

I cannot emphasize enough how destructive this way of thinking is to our moral and cultural future. Turn Oprah off.

New Wave of Islamic Converts to Christianity (Video Added)

Here is an amazing story of a coptic priest, Father Zakaria Botros, who is bringing Muslims into the Christian faith by droves using the Quran in arabic and other primary sources for Muslims. He brings up some touchy points of Islamic law about which most of us in the West know nothing:

A third reason for Botros’s success is that his polemical technique has proven irrefutable. Each of his episodes has a theme — from the pressing to the esoteric — often expressed as a question (e.g., “Is jihad an obligation for all Muslims?”; “Are women inferior to men in Islam?”; “Did Mohammed say that adulterous female monkeys should be stoned?” “Is drinking the urine of prophets salutary according to sharia?”). To answer the question, Botros meticulously quotes — always careful to give sources and reference numbers — from authoritative Islamic texts on the subject, starting from the Koran; then from the canonical sayings of the prophet — the Hadith; and finally from the words of prominent Muslim theologians past and present — the illustrious ulema.

Needless to say, Father Botros has a big price on his head. God bless him for his courage.


Fr. Zakaria in action. This man has courage: