Wednesday, November 15, 2017

About to Do a Podcast Series about Thomism

Just got home from enjoying some pizza and wine with a group of gentlemen,  which I am new to, and I'm inspired by a talk I heard
which relates to my vocation.

And I wanted to announce I'm planning a series of 10 fifteen minute podcasts discussing Philosophy,  according to St. Thomas.   I'm thinking to do one every few days,  or at least once a week,  and to post here.

It'll be me sharing my love of wisdom and St. Thomas.   And you guys will get to hear my real voice!  :)  Should be fun.

1. Intro
2. What is philosophy?
3. Bio of St Thomas
4. Logic
5. Cosmology
6. Philosophical psychology
7. Ethics
8. Political philosophy
9. Metaphysics
10. Thomistic revival.

Guten nacht meine freunde!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Common Problems in Marriages. Solutions.

I recall sitting in a pew hearing a sermon from a traditional priest how marriages between traditionalist Catholics have a relatively high rate of divorce, not dissimilar to secular marriages.

And I also recall driving the same priest across town and talking about this subject.  As I recall, he said that basically the problem on the male side is that men put work and money first as their foremost priority, and fall into bad, immature habits.  Basically addictions:  addiction to work/alcohol/video games/eating/you name it.  On the female side, they fall into the attitudes of feminism.  They often partly reject the traditional roles of a woman as being subordinate to their husbands, but often end up wearing the pants in the relationship.

That was one priest's take.  Do you agree?

I have my own opinions from being a married man.  The pressures of society to have a certain material level of financial success are enormous.  Those are inhuman, transhuman, unnatural physical forces that the male psyche is not designed to conform to, and still maintain a state of peace, harmony, stability, and order.  At first glance, those last words might seem effeminate.  They are not.  From a traditional Catholic persepective, they are manly.

And at the same time, women feel the burden of living up to the  modern, American socio-economic ideal, in order to make friends in the church and community, and to gain much needed emotional support as mothers and wives.  They are pressured to worship at the same altar of $ as men.  And if the man shows imperfections which suggest he might not be quite up to speed to secure a steady flow of modern comfort and convenience, then those faults can be easily targeted, even if he is hard-working and responsible.

The work place, as is every sphere of society today, is being more and more ruled by social Darwinism.  And Darwinism is a false science and philosophy.  At its heart, it denies an all loving Creator who rules over us with an all wise, and providing Providence.  Whereas the Catechism instructs families to be open to as many children as God and nature sends, as long as they are working, being responsible, and trusting in God's Providence, the modern society of 2017 places its trust in the same exact things man has always been tempted to place there trust in--the world.  St. Augustine tried to warm us about the difference between the City of God and the City of Man.  And Our Lord taught that one thing that controls and rules over the hearts of ungodly men is the disordered emphasis on $.  Not $ itself, but on a disordered emphasis on it.

The world says we must "live to work," rather than "work to live."  The modern way is to serve the collective.  In the end, it doesn't matter if that collective is the socialist state, or a capitalist beehive of greed and material excess.  The false god is still the same. 


I defer to what the Church has been saying these last millennia.  She says to pray the daily rosary, consecrate the home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to participate in Catholic Action (especially through the parish), and to order the family life towards religion.  To make religious practices such a prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, or doing the spiritual and corporal works of mercry, a priority over the pursuit of a six-figure salary, the newest I-phone, or materially impressing friends and acquaintances.

But I offer my own ideas for what they are worth.  And I will just speak to the men, being a guy.  Guys, this includes me, we must get to the center of reality in our daily lives:  prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Those sacrifices will only strengthen us, and in the end also help us in our careers and material goals.  Our model should be St. Joseph, who was a very quiet, hard-working man, constantly praying and making sacrifices.

Here's praying I myself can become a better man, and husband!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Finding Peace as a Traditionalist Catholic

Re-posting this post I wrote last January.

peace-be-still-james-seward.jpg (448×322)

So I just finished watching an old 2003 EWTN interview (yes EWTN, I've warmed up more to them lately considering their support of The 4 Cardinals' dubia) of then Cardinal Ratzinger about the troublesome state of the Church.  At the end Raymond asked how we can maintain hope in the Church during this period of Crisis.  His answer was, like a good Bavarian that he is, very simple, to maintain our "faith in the Lord, especially in the Eucharist."

I'll be the first Trad to confess this is difficult in today's Church.  There are constant temptations to despair over the Faith today, and I do give in now and then, at least to discouragements.  Looking down deep inside, I have to admit to myself I am not entirely at peace being alive during this time in Church history, both as a Catholic within the Universal Church, and also as a traditionalist member in the Latin Mass movement.

I have to challenge myself, has my necessary adherence to Catholic tradition been drawing me closer to God?  Has attendance exclusively at the TLM and almost exclusive interaction in traditionalists circles given me greater peace, a deeper spiritual life?  Catholic tradition is integral to a living faith, but being a traditionalist in itself does not necessarily equate to a vibrant faith.  These are questions I ask myself from time to time as I navigate the Latin Mass movement itself.

When by all appearances the authentic liturgical, spiritual, and theological life of the mainstream Church has been largely set aside, it becomes a very relevant question--how to maintain one's faith, peace of mind, and sanity during this time, even when, as any trad priest will admit, the traditional movement itself is fraught with division and dysfunction?

Back in my days actively posting in the Fish Eaters forum, the forum owner Tracy made a habit (actually I think she still does), when people would make despairing comments about the state of the Church, of making a distinction about the errors happening in the human element of the Church today, and the divine Church itself. Our faith is in the divine Church, Her teachings, sacraments, divine authority, but not in the individual men themselves (but only in respect of their Authority protected by the Holy Ghost).  Men are weak and so can do some of the most diabolical things.  Even the pope can be a very bad pope or even heretical.

trash.png (1200×809)

The Seven Sacraments

But I'm finding myself more and more lately reminding myself that our faith is not in these men, but as Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) said, our "faith is in the Lord, especially in the Eucharist."  Focusing on the errors in the Church today, being overly preoccupied with traditionalist polemics, about which traditionalist Society is worthy of support, on the problems of Vatican II or the new Mass, one can weaken their faith in God.  I've fallen into that mentality before, and I can report firsthand that Yes, that does weaken your faith.

I have to remind myself our right focus is on God, Christ, the divine Church, Her liturgy, Her prayers, Her timeless traditions, and not focusing our main energies on the Crisis afflicting the human element of the Church.  The divine element, praise God, is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, absolutely trustworthy.  That's the way the Lord designed the Church after all!

Traditionalism is paradoxical.  As a movement it is necessary, for access to a lived Catholic tradition, but in my experience often the focus is on the wrong things.  Just follow the threads in trad forums; they often obsessively delve into polemical topics being discussed for the umpteenth time, like a broken record. That sometimes obsessiveness indicates mental and spiritual disorder.  And I'll be the first to raise my hand and admit I've suffered at times of its signs and symptoms.

Or consider your experience joining a TLM parish or chapel.  Perhaps your experience is the exception, but from my own experience, and most trads I've talked to about this (online and in the flesh), the TLM community has a tendency to be semi-closed off and privatized.  Nice people who can sometimes pick up their pitchforks in fear of the newcomer, easily explained by years of ecclesial shellshock.  When a stranger jumps into the trenches, its understandable to raise your rifle, but we're talking about parishes and church communities here.

private.jpg (500×333)

The trad parish/chapel is a semi-strange phenomenon to me, growing up in the parochial system.  I've observed a strain of anti-sociality and individualism that clashes with the very concept of a parish or church community.  In my opinion, usually this flows from the group dynamic and a groupthink that very understandably tends to turn away from the public Church to private devotion, from the institutional structures to separatist-like enclaves, or from treating the parish (or potential parish) as a "private association of the faithful" rather than what the Church says it really is/should be: a "public association of the faithful."

In general though, I don't think this groupthink is deliberate.  In my experience, as individuals, your average traditionalist Catholic tends to be more virtuous than your average novus ordo Catholic. After all, most are really there at the TLM with the clear intention of being a faithful, orthodox, practicing Catholic.

But traditionalism can become a distraction.  I think of wasted mental time I myself have used up dwelling too much on the problems in the Church and the inner workings of the traditional movement. Haven't many of us trads focused too much time on these things?  Don't get me wrong, I'm bound by the law of non-contradiction, so what I concluded with certainty over the years about the conciliar church and taking a traditionalist stance is not somehow now doubtful.  Its a question of setting or re-setting priorities in the proper order.

When your vocation is to being a husband, father, and professional, your priority is--or should be--daily work and prayer according to your domestic and work life. Grappling the paradoxes of traditionalism doesn't even come close to being added to the daily To-Do List.  It makes for recreative, Sunday blog posts, but even my trad posts can consume too much of my time and attention.

I guess what I'm confessing in this post is that I am not exactly 100% at peace as a traditionalist Catholic.  Perhaps you can relate.  I've come full circle more than once in my journey of faith.  As a teenager I studied Catholicism seriously before deciding to be confirmed, which was a kind of conversion experience.  Later embracing Tradition was another step.  Embracing the advice/point of view of Archbishop Lefebvre was another.  But, something has been stirring in me for a while to take another step.  Its hard to put in words.

I have no intention to start attending the Novus Ordo, or turning on my fellow trads or doubting my own traditionalist convictions.  I still very much want to write about matters of faith and church events, but to pick my battles while focusing on the good, true, and beautiful. I still intend to follow the line of Archbishop Lefebvre, as it were.  But I also have to re-adjust my focus according to my developing circumstances.

lefebvre2.jpg (853×1125)

Here's a crazy idea I'll throw out there, for a rad trad that I am: according to canon law, I belong to my territorial parish.  As liberal as it is (and it is!), there ARE jewels of traditional Catholicism to be found on its grounds.  What is stopping me from going to Adoration there, getting to know the pastor (imagine the conversations I could have with him about Catholic Tradition) or going to the occasional parish Bingo or Fish Fry?  There's normalcy in those kind of things, and true normalcy is an essential nutrient to sustain human nature.

Another crazy notion:  there's a phenomenon in the trad movement I've noticed over the years I've grown to appreciate:  Latin Mass trads, troubled by both conciliar and trad weirdness, finding solace in the East.   That is, focusing less--or perhaps just a bit less--on Latin rite devotion and spirituality, and spending some spiritual time with Eastern Catholic traditions, such as the Jesus Prayer.

Frankly, I find the Jesus Prayer more mentally easy to say than the Hail Mary.  If there was a Byzantine Mass in town, I'd occasion it. If every soul is its own species, and if every species has its own unique needs, then the soul needs what it needs.  If a Latin Mass trad needs to dip into Eastern Catholicism to balance out any spiritual distortions that inevitably enter the soul, then so be it.

The same line of re-orientation applies where to attend the TLM.  I've got access to the SSPX, FSSP, and diocesan TLM.  Each has their pros and cons.  Frankly, and you may have guessed this before, my preference is with the SSPX.  But a family man must weigh all the circumstances.  Truth is you can find wonderful examples of a vibrant turn towards traditional Catholicism even in diocesan parishes.  There are plenty of examples everywhere--which is one theme I have for this blog, to highlight traditional Catholic works in my own Local Church.

I must admit, I've always identified as a self-described "non-trad, trad."  I never quite fit the mold. Its one thing to be marginalized to the peripheries of the modern Church for your orthodoxy; and another to also feel on the outer edge of trad circles.  Not that I am a misfit.  I think its a common experience of many trads actually, because of the non-communal tendencies in many trad parishes/chapels. There are exceptions.

So my final thought is, perhaps my fellow Okie Trads can relate to what I'm putting out there in this post.  Our love of Catholic tradition and the traditional liturgy is what binds us together in a special kind of friendship.  We do tend to be a bit crazed and anti-social at times (that includes yours truely), but usually its no more than mild neurosis and difficulty coping with the ecclesial situation.  My personal goal, which I'd wish for all my fellow trads, is to be at peace during this time in the Church.

Thus ends my Sunday soliloquy.  I wish everyone a peaceful Sunday!  Pax vobiscum!

guinness.jpg (768×1024)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Up here at Arnie's Irish Pub Pondering Cigars vs. Pipes

Took a half day off from work to partake of the Feast Day.   That'd be the Feast of All Saints to all you non-papists or fallen away Catholics out there.   And thanks to Mark in the Comments box in the Kilkenny's post for recommending Arnie's Irish Pub downtown.   I'm sitting here for a spell before heading over to Mass.  The old Tridentine, that is. 

And guys,  this place is just awesome.   Kilkenny's is to Arnie's 
as central heat is to a wood-burning, potbelly stove.   It's as real as it gets.  No trendy,  hipster millenials here. Just Salt of the Earth people with all their flaws, which reminds me of the Irish.   Oh,  and they allow smoking,  for all you Tolkien Trads who love your cigar or pipe. 

Cigar or Pipe? 

Let's crack our knuckles and compare and contrast.   The cigar. 

They range from Swisher Sweets all the way up to your Cubans.   The cigar conjures up the hallowed image of the business elite making the toughest,  highest tier decisions in a smoke-filled room late a night.   The pipe reminds me of Gandalf sitting by the fire musing about the different kinds of humanoid beings in Middle Earth. 

I imagine that the Cigar fits well your Salesman,  with an expense account,  and a healthy bank account.   There is something symbolic about cigars and $$$.

It seems the cigar is a symbol of financial success. 

On the other hand,  I imagine the pipe fitting well the quiet, melancholic,  intellectual.   The teacher,  therapist, or  priest type. I
 don't know why.  But if I were to think of Chesterton, Lewis,  and Tolkien hanging out in a London pub (did those 3 ever get together I wonder),  I just can't imagine them smoking cigars as much as pipes. 
Maybe Chesterton would have pulled out a cigar. 

I'm more a pipe kind of guy I guess.   I mean,  as ya'll know from my posts asking for help with a laptop--and most recent one about a much needed new armchair (please,  pretty please) --my wallet is kinda thin right now.   A couple $5 bags of good quality pipe tobacco from Ted's Pipe Shop in Utica Square does me just fine.   

Reflects the Hierarchy of Life on Earth. 

Not my idea,  but God decided the world of Nature--and Human Nature which flows from it--is a Hierarchy.   A dog has higher value in the eyes of God than an amoeba.  Both are good,  but if excellence in design corresponds to being like unto God and thus superior to that which is less like God,  then sentient, thinking, feeling beings are superior to single-celled organisms.   Of course. 

And so too in the Human Kingdom. You've got your aristocrats (unfortunately today mostly devolved into a state of oligarchy), 

and your Common man.   God's design, not mine,  no sir.   Among common men,  you have the professions and trades,  both of which traditionally gave modest pay.   Until the second part of the 20th century,  for example,  doctors were at best middle-class. 

And so you will always have your smoke-filled rooms of cigar-smoking,  club member,  aristocratic (bad version = oligarchic) financial elites,  and your Common man who smokes pipes and cigarettes and drinks cheap Whiskey. 

Happy Feast of All Saints Fella Okie Trads!