Good Night Sweet Gabe

It is with sadness, but confidence that I entrust here to the mercy of God the soul of Gabriel Altieri, a father figure, a spiritual son and a great friend.  After a long fight with cancer, Gabriel passed away in the Lord and the Immaculate yesterday around 2:00 PM. He was a long time friend of the community in Griswold, Connecticut and a faithful son of the Immaculate.  Please pray for the repose of his soul and the strength of his family and friends, especially his wife, Ruthy.

It might be a bit ironic to call such an old salt “sweet Gabe.”  He had a conversion late in life after many years of “being a hard man,” and he was just as uncompromising in virtue as he had been in the ways of the world.  But he was as easily brought to tears by compunction or devotion as he was to fierce zeal in the face of heresy and cowardice.

As a result of his rather colorful, Italianate pronouncements on everything from the beauty of our Lady, to the state of the nation, to food recipes (he was an excellent cook, and a great culinary teacher), as well as his escapades at the Father, Son Encampments (pictured above), we came to know him as “Sir Gabriel.”  We threatened many times to put him on camera and start up a channel on Youtube in order for him to deliver his daily address to the world on whatever topic was stuck in his craw.  But alas, this never came to pass.  We will all have to satisfy ourselves in the retelling of the many tales of “Sir Gabriel.” Continue reading

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The Dishonored Patrimony of the Boy Scouts

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

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.

Saints, Martyrs and More

I have been back from my London trip for about five days now. The workshop for the “A Day With Mary” was pretty intense. The day the workshop finished, Friars Roderic, Didacus and I had the opportunity of being driven to Oxford by Claudio Lo Sterzo, the very kind founder of “A Day with Mary.” I had a list of addresses associated with Blessed Henry Newman, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. We did not have much time and I did not know how much we would be able to see, but it turned out very well.

We arrived a the college in Littlemore where Blessed Newman resided for a time shortly before he left the Church of England and where Blessed Dominic Barbari received him into the Catholic Church. The college was closed but Brother Sean, a member of The Work, opened it for us and was kind enough to show us the room in which Blessed Newman lived and the chapel in which he confessed to Blessed Dominic and became a Catholic.

We then sped off to Wolvercote Cemetery and managed to drive through the gate just as it was closing, the caretaker was kind enough to show us the grave of J.R.R Tolkien. It is quite noteworthy how simple the marker is. There is a rose bush with several sets of rosary beads dangling from its branches. Tolkien’s wife Edith is buried there also. She died only shortly before him, and he marked the tomb below her Christian name with the fictional name Luthien. He also arranged to have “Beren” appended to the inscription of his name after he was buried. For those who are not aware of the significance of the names Luthien and Beren, see here.

We ended the day at the Oxford Oratory, where we arrived just before Vespers and were very kindly invited by the Oratorians to attend in choir, which we did. On our way out of Oxford, we passed The Eagle and the Child, known by the Inklings and “The Bird and the Baby,” the pub in which Lewis, Tolkien and the others met weekly to discuss literature and their own writing.

The next day, Claudio drove us to the Carmelite Monastery in Aylesford where St. Simon Stock was given the Brown Scapular. Aylesford is perhaps the oldest Carmelite foundation in Europe, the greater part of the current monastery was built after 1949, when the property was purchased back by the Carmelite Order, after having been lost to the Reformation in 1538.

On our final full day in England Fr Didacus and I went to the Tower of London and spent our time venerating the places were many of the great martyrs of England suffered and died for the Catholic faith.

The Way of Ugliness

It has come to my attention that Christopher West’s multi-media event, “Fill These Hearts,” has been designed to up the ante in our dispute over the Theology of the Body. He talks at great length in his recent interview about the power of beauty to convey the truth, to “make the invisible visible” (his definition for both art and mysticism).  So “Fill These Hearts” is all positive energy, showing forth the beauty of the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality.  Right?

Wrong.

No, Mr. West can’t get through the show without taking some pretty bitter swipes at the Church’s pre-TOB catechesis, in a rather ugly way.

I have not seen the show, but I have confirmed the accuracy of what is reported below.

“Fill These Hearts,” is a multi-media event that makes use of music, sacred art, video clips and, of course, Christopher West’s running commentary. Its tag line is

GOD, SEX AND THE UNIVERSAL LONGING: AN EVENING OF BEAUTY AND REFLECTION ON JOHN PAUL II’S THEOLOGY OF THE BODY.

Art has the power of reinforcing ideas.  It is a particularly powerful tool for creating and perpetuating myth.  The meta-narrative of the American TOB movement is that chastity education in the United States prior to TOB was the product of “prudish Victorian morality,” and that this single corpus of Wednesday general audiences rescued the Church from the “Manichaean Demon.”  The treatment of TOB as a kind of self-contained panacea for the sexual revolution is justified on the basis of this mythology.

Myths make use of the fantastic in order to deliver their effect.  In them the good is idealistically perfect and the evil almost unimaginably infernal. Beauty must be juxtaposed with the hideously ugly in order to make its deepest impression on the imagination.  So perhaps a better version of the second part of West’s tag line might read:  AN EVENING OF MORTAL CONFLICT BETWEEN BEAUTY AND UGLINESS IN THE SERVICE OF PROMOTING CHRISTOPHER WEST’S VERSION OF JOHN PAUL II’S THEOLOGY OF THE BODY.

I am not arguing that the Church was without problem regarding chastity education, or that there was no excesses along the lines of prudery.  But this is the way that West consistently chooses to characterize the Church’s stance prior to John Paul  II.  This meta-narrative is necessary as a marketing tool for TOB. We are led to believe that prior to TOB the Church was simply crippled in regard to handing on the truth about marriage and sexuality.  West does not look for continuity, but for rupture, and he is willing to go over to the dark side to find it.  It is necessary, as a matter of the means adopted for a specific end, to harp on the defects of pre-TOB catechesis and to exaggerate them.

In “Fill These Hearts” he uses the following clip from the 1985 comedy-drama “Heaven Help Us,” a.k.a “Catholic Boys,” about an all-boys Catholic high school set in 1965 Brooklyn, New York.  Please be advised by this WARNING that there is sexual content.  Now, watch the dear Father Abruzzi put the fear of God into the boys and girls:

The movie is a gloomy, morbid look at Catholic life around the time of Vatican II.  Even Roger Ebert, who is no friend of the Church, was put off by it:

Because “Heaven Help Us” does not have the slightest ambition to be a serious movie about Catholic high schools, I can’t understand why the classroom scenes are so overplayed. As the sadistic teaching brother (Jay Patterson) slams his students against the blackboard, all we’re really watching is a lapse in judgment by the moviemakers. The scenes are so ugly and depressing that they throw the rest of the movie out of balance.

Ebert was more than willing to have a little fun at Catholics expense, but as the scene above developed he changed his mind:

The strange thing about the movie is the way the moments of inspiration raise our hopes, and then disappoint them. Take the scene where the school plays host to the nearby Catholic girls’ school at a dance. The boys and girls are lined up on opposite sides of the room, and then an earnest little priest (Wallace Shawn, from “My Dinner with André”) stands up on the stage and delivers a lecture on The Evils of Lust, gradually warming to his subject. The idea of the scene is funny, and it has a certain amount of underlying truth (I remember a priest once warning my class, “Never touch yourselves, boys” – without telling us where). But Shawn’s speech climbs to such a hysterical pitch that it goes over the top, and the humor is lost; it simply becomes weird behavior.

Weird behavior?  No, the priest in question is the mythical incarnation of quintessential prudery. He is obsessed with sex and and projects that obsession onto innocent children.  The only thing the actor didn’t do in the service caricaturing a priest with the 1960’s “Catholic attitude” toward sex is drool.

The writer of the film, Charles Purpura, in an interview from the early 2000s, revealed his sentiments in respect to the Church. He had previously been a member of a band, Front Porch, and had written a song called “Only You Lady,” which he said

is about Mary, the mother of Jesus. I think. It should be clear to you by now that at the time I was still heavily influenced by my Catholic upbringing. As the Jesuits say, ‘Give us their first seven years, and we’ll have them forever.’ In any event, I’m better now.

West’s meta-narrative will tell us that poor Charles Purpura left the faith and made an anti-Catholic movie for the same reason Hugh Hefner became the king of porn: because puritanical functionaries of the Church let them down and burdened them with hatred for their bodies.

Ugliness packs almost as much wallop as beauty.  But not quite as much, because it is only a privation of beauty.  However, when you put the two ideals in opposition, ah, that is the stuff myths are made of.

Some myths are true.  This one is not.

On another note, it appears that all Father Loya’s articles have been taken down from Catholic Exchange (check the links).  What’s up with that? It is not nice to break links and then not explain oneself.  Perhaps I should look on the bright side and believe that the TOB train is changing tracks. One may hope.

Encampment Version 2.0 in Development

The Fall Father and Son Encampment has been cancelled for a number of reasons, not least of which is my current status of living mostly in New Bedford until November when a new Guardian will arrive to take over the run of the house there.  It may be a good time to take a break anyway, as we have been tossing ideas around about how to make the Encampments better and the preparations more manageable.

Right now we are talking about taking the weekend “off campus,” so to speak to a campground and conducting perhaps one larger event every year, instead of three smaller ones.  (We will continue to use the obstacle course at the friary for other events.)  I would also like to open the Encampment to boys who have no fathers (or fathers who are involved with them at this level), since fatherlessness is a big problem and one that has long concerned me.

Please pray for the Knights of Lepanto who have worked so hard to make these encampments a success.  We have had a great deal of positive feedback and are very much encouraged.  We hope to have something really great, innovative and powerful in the Queen of Lepanto to present for next year.  I will keep you all abreast of the developments from this forum.

Thank you for all your support and please spread the word about next years open encampment.