Monday 2nd October 2023

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Visiting Boys Town… Where A World Of Care For Troubled Youngsters Rose On Nebraska Plains

September 26, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on Visiting Boys Town… Where A World Of Care For Troubled Youngsters Rose On Nebraska Plains



OMAHA — An Irish-born priest in Phoenix once recalled that when he and a young friend from the seminary in the Emerald Isle were told they were being assigned to Arizona, they got out a map. One of them was being sent to Phoenix, the other young priest to Tucson.
The two cities didn’t look far apart. The priests decided that on their days off, one of them could bike over to visit the other. They hadn’t noticed the scale of mileage on the map. Phoenix and Tucson are about 116 miles apart, hardly a distance for a morning’s quick bike ride, especially on a summer desert day.
Following God’s will can bring surprises, as also happened to another Irishman arriving in the United States. That would be Edward Flanagan, who emigrated to the United States in 1904, pursued seminary studies in Europe, then was ordained a priest in 1912 and returned to Nebraska.
Who would have dreamed that a quarter-century later, the work that this young Irish-born priest decided to pursue would result in a movie featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars having its world premiere on the plains of eastern Nebraska, in Omaha in 1938.
That would be the movie named after his pioneering work to provide non-punitive rehabilitation on a campus of youngsters outside Omaha, Boys Town, featuring Spencer Tracy as Fr. Flanagan himself and Mickey Rooney as a tough young kid who was reformed.
Visiting Omaha in late August, The Wanderer stopped by Flanagan’s two-story brick home, where the front parlor, his office, kitchen, and dining room are among exhibits of his life’s work, as well as a “Hall of History” museum, all set amid the daily activities of Boys Town today, located at the former Overlook Farm, where the program moved in 1921 after beginning in Omaha in 1917.
Flanagan, who became a U.S. citizen, believed there was no such thing as a bad boy if the youngster was given proper upbringing and support, but boys went bad due to such conditions as deprivation and cruelty.
In the movie, which has fictional elements, a condemned murderer rails against the plight he’d suffered as a youngster, homeless and in state institutions.
The morning after the movie premiere, the Omaha World-Herald reported on September 8, 1938: “Thirty thousand persons jam-packed all streets surrounding the Omaha Theater last night for a fleeting glimpse of a troupe of movie bigwigs who turned the city into Hollywood for a night. The city did more than imitate Hollywood for this — its first world movie premiere. It outdid Hollywood….
“While 110 policemen and 40 firemen worked strenuously but efficiently to keep the crowd in check, impatient persons who had stood in the middle of Douglas Street for more than two hours to see the event strained steel wires holding them back to near the breaking point,” the lengthy story added.
It said that Flanagan had made a special request to MGM Studios for the movie to receive its premiere before an Omaha audience.
Tracy received an Academy Award for his role as Flanagan, and the movie was a box-office money-maker, reportedly one of the most successful films of 1938, even though back in Hollywood there earlier was said to have been some concern that it lacked “sex appeal.”
Striking a modest note about portraying Flanagan when he received his Oscar, Tracy said, “If you have seen him through me, then I thank you.”
However, the Boys Town website says one flat note occurred when donations to Flanagan’s endeavor dropped drastically because the public mistakenly thought Boys Town was sharing in the movie’s financial rewards, and Tracy had to issue a statement to ask people to resume contributing.
After Flanagan’s ordination in 1912 and early service as a parish priest for the then-Diocese of Omaha, he was able to establish a hotel for poor workingmen and later said that he was told repeatedly, “It’s too late for me now, Father. If only someone had helped me when I was a boy.”
Bearing this in mind, in 1917 Flanagan borrowed $90 to pay a month’s rent on a building where he brought the first five residents of what would develop into Boys Town. He wrote later: “My first two boys came from the juvenile courts, and three others, whom I had been befriending in my own small way to keep their bodies and souls together, I picked up off the streets.”
An article at the website says Flanagan received permission to focus his efforts on this endeavor, with nuns assigned to help him, and soon there were 50 boys in their care, bringing about a move to larger quarters the following year, 1918, the abandoned German-American Home in Omaha, which had a capacity of 150 boys.
In late 1921 the move to Overlook Farm was accomplished, the article says, where “the boys raised some of their own food in a vegetable garden and had room for a baseball diamond, track, and football field. They planted corn, alfalfa, and potatoes, and tended their fruit orchard and vegetable garden. They also gathered milk from the cows.
“By March 1922, business and religious leaders and many Omaha residents had raised enough money to break ground for a new Boys Town structure,” the article says. “It was a five-story brick building, which would house the classrooms, dining hall, gym, dormitory, chapel, and infirmary.”
At the time the farm was 10 miles west of Omaha, but today the city has grown around it.
Boys Town willingly took in boys regardless of race or religion. As the project continued to grow, it had separate chapels to accommodate both its Catholic and non-Catholic residents, and sometimes encountered problems when its sports teams traveled elsewhere in days past and faced laws enforcing racial segregation.
As decades passed major changes occurred, including welcoming troubled girls to Boys Town, too, and replacing dormitory living with a number of family-style homes on the campus, each with a resident “family-teacher” married couple, even while the large majority of young people receiving attention no longer even lived there but were part of a Boys Town network of care.
Girls began living at Boys Town in 1979. Their presence reportedly even improved the behavior of the boys.
An article posted in May 2023 at the Boys Town website says: “The decision to welcome girls to Boys Town’s Family Home Program initially was met with much uncertainty and some resistance. But Fr. Robert Hupp, then Boys Town’s executive director, realized that young girls faced the same problems as boys, and that Fr. Flanagan’s mission had to include helping and caring for all children.
“Boys Town successfully weathered the storm of controversy that came with this new approach, and more and more girls were able to find success through our compassionate, family-style care,” the article says.
“Today, girls make up about half of the youth population that receives care in the Village of Boys Town and at several of our affiliate sites. Girls have served as the mayor and vice mayor of Boys Town, have excelled in academics, sports, music, art and leadership, and have represented the Home as inspirational ambassadors,” the Boys Town article says, adding:
“In 2017, during Boys Town’s Centennial celebration, a new statue depicting a boy carrying a girl on his back was dedicated on our Home Campus, joining our iconic ‘Two Brothers’ statue in symbolizing Boys Town’s commitment to helping children.”
The reference to the “Two Brothers” statue meant the logo with one youngster carrying a smaller one on his back and labeled, “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s m’ brother.” Today, the smaller child is a pigtailed girl.
An article on the local-news first page of the August 25, 2023, Omaha World-Herald said that a growing emphasis at Boys Town on providing preventive services that focus on keeping families together “has been in line with trends in child welfare nationally.”
Rather than remove youths to institutional settings, the World-Herald article said, “Boys Town says today more than 90 percent of the youths it serves never set foot on the campus.”
The article also reported that Boys Town’s executive director, Fr. Steven Boes, announced his retirement from that post after serving since 2005. In a September 7 message posted at the Boys Town website, Boes said: “Fr. Flanagan believed that faith was integral to the healing process and that belief continues to guide us today.
“As the leader of Catholic worship here at Boys Town, it has been my honor to work alongside the other religious leaders on campus to foster a community that warmly welcomes all, regardless of religious beliefs, race or creed,” Boes said. “I will remain eternally grateful for those partnerships and the inclusive community that is, and always has been, Boys Town.”
Following WWII, President Harry Truman asked Flanagan, by then internationally known for child care, to visit parts of Asia and Europe to see what could be done for children orphaned and made homeless by that conflict. While in Germany in 1948, Flanagan died of a heart attack at age 61. He is interred at the Catholic chapel at Boys Town.
The Boys Town website features a number of Flanagan’s quotations. Here are a few:
“No race that does not take care of its young can hope to survive, or deserves to survive.”
“There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.”
“A true religious training for children is most essential if we are to expect to develop them into good men and good women — worthy citizens of our great country.”
“I have yet to find a single boy who wants to be bad.”
“I know when the idea of a boys’ home grew in my mind, I never thought of anything remarkable about taking in all of the races and all of the creeds. To me, they are all God’s children. They are my brothers. They are children of God. I must protect them to the best of my ability.”
“When parents fail to do their job, when they allow their children to run the streets and keep bad company, when they fail to provide them with good examples in the home, then the parents, and not the children, are delinquent.”
“The poor, innocent, unfortunate little children belong to us, and it is our problem to give them every chance to develop into good men and good women.”
“Without God at the beginning, there can be only confusion at the end.”

Pope Francis Should Just “Move On”

September 22, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on Pope Francis Should Just “Move On”


Pope Francis said, “Move on.” I say he might want to follow his own advice.
Those were his words after he learned that some American Catholics reacted with dismay when he criticized, condemned and cursed them on the international stage provided him by one of his in-flight press conferences that have become a feature of his international travel on return legs to Rome.
Faithful Catholics in the Synodal Church need to just “move on”, while those who defy settled matters of faith and morals are given red-carpet and “Who am I to judge” carte blanche treatment. Bizarre to say the least. Just another in the long series of inversions under which Catholics have had to suffer in this nightmare “porntificate”.
Yes: Pope Francis, for his own spiritual health as well as ours, needs to follow his own spiritual counsel and just “move on”. Any spiritual director will tell you that his words and actions have consistently betrayed a spiritual sickness or ill health of some nature. He calls for gentleness and mercy while beating up on the Catholics who are most faithful to what being Catholic actually means.
What gave rise to all this? A Portuguese Jesuit brought up the subject of American Catholics in conversation with the Pope, providing yet another opportunity for papal target practice.
What do we know? The perpetual need for straw men is a common technique for those who feel the need to hide their true agenda. Make someone else the bad guy to get yourself off the hook lest somebody discover your own misdeeds. A common recourse for the corrupt.
I experienced this gaslighting and projection under corrupt commands in the military. Place a young Catholic priest in an environment already predisposed to anti-Catholic prejudice, as is the Navy, and you have the perfect distraction. One chaplain superior is shopping the crew for husband number three while plotting her second divorce and another is hitting it off in the gym with her on-board girlfriend. Fraternization, anyone? Both need to protect their career and pensions while pursuing their sexual peccadilloes. The Catholic chaplain is the perfect foil. The technique? Magnify his least shortfalls, of which regulation-heavy military life aboard ship at close quarters is rife, and thus employ projection and distraction to keep prying eyes far away from personal infractions of a far more serious nature.
How does this help shed light on the current malaise in the Church? When Archbishop Fernandez, an old papal Argentinian crony and new Vatican doctrinal czar, shortly to be made a prince of the Church, verbalizes such mental castles in the air as blessing same-sex marital simulation and proceed to connect them with a “living and active gift” of the pope which he calls the “doctrine of Pope Francis” we are fairly warned. When he proceeds to ominously threaten those who may be contemplating any words which can be characterized as “judging the “doctrine of the Holy Father”, we aint seen nothin’ yet. The foretaste and promise of yet another inquisition which threatens to put Savanarola to shame. The gaslighting that accompanies such childish fantasies accuses bishops who dare to question such tripe as guilty of claiming to have the special “inspiration of the Holy Spirit”. All of which is irrelevant. The simple faith of a young home-schooled Catholic is enough to disprove such an imposture.
When we speak of the competency of the pope, we concern ourselves with matters of faith and morals spelled out for all in the Catechism. Yes, the pope can deepen our understanding of such by declaring infallibly what we already know to be true. Two cases of such extraordinary exercise of infallibility, a concept defined by Vatican I, are the papal declarations of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Our Lady. These were consonant with Scripture and Tradition, already “true”, and later given greater prominence among the articles of belief necessary for salvation.
The Assumption and Immaculate Conception did not contradict any matters in the Catholic Deposit of Faith already universally accepted as true, as does the attempt to approve sacrilege with Amoris Laetitiae, calling as it does for Communion for adulterers and other souls in mortal sin without benefit of repentance and absolution. It serves not at all as a pattern for the nonsense of “blessing” sin, about which Fernandez publicly fantasizes in a number of his many interviews given after the shock of his poor qualifications for the new position dawned on already shell-shocked Catholics.
There are plenty of indications that the Rome October Synod will further seek to concretize these and other inversions of settled moral and sacramental teaching. This while Francis meets with cronies in the Vatican to deliberate the possibility of demanding the resignation of an outspoken and beleaguered Bishop Strickland. We suppress incredulous laughter as we learn, reportedly, that the courageous behavior of the Tyler, Texas, prelate is to be characterized a “scandal”; this after the many missteps of a pope who says and does things a pope should never say and do, a true continuing scandal with no course corrections in sight. If that becomes yet another decapitation in a pattern of such attacks on local churches it will serve merely as the tip of the iceberg in the systematic dismantling of yet another orthodox and burgeoning local church.
So what do we do? When I am asked by Catholics suffering “heresy PTSD” I always counsel they focus first on their own vocation to marriage and family life, and see first and most importantly to their responsibility for forming their children as saints. This is our daily work and calls for our utmost efforts. At the same time, do not let Pope Francis and Roman synodal fantasies distract from this one task about which the Lord will ask you at your final judgement.
What did I do about the shipboard gaslighting and projection back in my three years aboard the aircraft carrier? I took my orders from Christ and blithely and confidently did the work for which the Lord sent me to the ship. On the many good days I focused on the spiritual care of the many sincere Catholic believers on board. I never truly felt alone, no matter the sometimes thinly veiled jealousy and spite among fellow chaplains and departmental staff. We always without fail had real pastoral work to do as the true Church of Christ, always present among ships’ company. The Lord consoled me greatly in those days and my Catholic flock reminded me daily of the unimportance of the passing vanity of vanities which obsess the corrupt, who will always surround us in this vale of tears and sometimes, also, even aboard the barque of Peter.
We pray, worship and love as the Lord commands, though we smile or weep as history and fortunes material or spiritual rise or fall with the passing of years. We will never fail to feel His comforting hand upon our shoulders as we move always forward in Him, refusing the vanity of distractions which will always accompany us as we remain faithful in the big and the little ways. If we listen even with the simple faith of a child we always hear His voice encouraging and strengthening us for the journey, no matter how brief or how long in duration. We will never trade the inheritance of faith and morals for a mess of pottage no matter the credentials of those who seek to disserve our salvation.
Yes, Pope Francis should just “move on”. And we welcome him along on the journey. “Excelsior”. Onward and upward.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.

Love Is At The Heart Of Every Virtue

September 19, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on Love Is At The Heart Of Every Virtue


The word “virtue” is derived from the Latin vir, meaning man. It was once believed that virtue was virility (or manliness) and nothing more. Virtue, then, was the sole province of the male and was most clearly evident when men displayed courage on the battlefield. Virtue did not apply to women not only because of their sex, but, by and large, because they did not go to war.
Plutarch (c. AD 46 to AD 120) disagreed with the prevailing notion that only men could be virtuous. In his book, Mulierum Virtutem (The Virtues of Women), he sought to demonstrate that virtue applies equally to women as well as to men. If virtue belonged to those who displayed courage under difficult and dangerous circumstances, Plutarch reasoned, then they were as virtuous as men. And surely women face personal challenges that have nothing to do with war.
His proof consisted in presenting 27 historical or semi-historical accounts of various women whose habitats ranged from Salmantia in central Spain to the Persian royal city of Pasargadae. The one and only virtue he exemplified was courage. However, he ascribed virtue to women who committed acts of violence, including murder.
He tells the story of Chiomara who avenged the soldier who sexually violated her by having him decapitated and then triumphantly throwing his severed head at her husband’s feet. Plutarch, unfortunately, was identifying virtue with vice, though vices that were impressive and proudly assertive.
In the fourteenth century, Boccaccio authored De Claris Mulieribus (Concerning Famous Women). Like Plutarch, he identified female virtues with traits that are specifically male. He also contended that nature did not make women the equal of men and therefore, they had to work harder than men in order to be, using Boccacio’s term, “manly.”
In the year 2005, Barbara Coloroso produced a book entitled, Just Because It’s Not Wrong Doesn’t Make It Right. While she fully acknowledges that men and women are equally disposed to virtue, she does not understand the nature of virtue. This misunderstanding is exemplified by the questions she asks: “Do we emphasize the virtues of liberty and autonomy?” Neither liberty nor autonomy is a virtue. They are dispositions or opportunities. We need virtues to use our liberty and autonomy rightly. When she asks: “What happens when two virtues clash or contradict each other?” and “Do we value justice over mercy,” she loses sight of the basis and unifying factor of all virtues.
Barbara Coloroso speaks for many today who profess a belief in virtues but fail to see their unifying basis. Thus, they separate compassion from generosity in order to rationalize abortion, mercy from justice in order to spare people the demands of justice, and loyalty from courage in order to appease those in power. Virtues need each other in order to be truly virtuous. Justice cries out for mercy, chastity demands temperance, and courage requires wisdom. The more virtues a person has, the more complete he is as a human being.
Because virtues need each other, they need a common basis. St. Paul in Corinthians 13 shows that a broad array of virtues are all rooted in love: “Love is patient [patience] and kind [kindness]; love is not jealous [generosity] or rude [courtesy]. Love does not insist on its own way [humility]; it is not irritable [temperance] or resentful [graciousness]; it does not rejoice in wrong [compassion], but rejoices in the right [justice]. Love bears all things [courage], believes all things [faith], hopes all things [hope], endures all things [meekness].”
St. Paul is addressing everyone. Love is universal. It is also the basis for every virtue. Each virtue derives its virtuousness insofar as it is rooted in love. God can love us without using an intermediary. He loves us directly. We human beings, however, cannot express our love for another without using the intermediary of virtue. A fireman must use a hose in order to extinguish a fire. He cannot apply the water directly. We know how loving we are to another person by the virtues we employ in order to express that love.
St. Paul is offering us important and realistic advice. He is telling us that virtues harmonize with each other and are sourced in love. Courtesy alone is not enough. It is fulfilled through generosity. And both courtesy and generosity are rooted in love. Likewise, compassion is perfected through justice and determination is moderated by temperance. All virtues are blessed by wisdom and wisdom is balanced by humility.
Christians are commanded to love. Therefore, because love needs virtue in order to express itself, they are also commanded to be virtuous. Without virtue, love remains unexpressed. With virtue, love moves the world.

The Maritains And The Perennial Philosophy

September 15, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on The Maritains And The Perennial Philosophy


Two young people sat in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and reached a decision: If they could not find a meaning in life, they would commit suicide while still young. They were students at the Sorbonne at the beginning of the twentieth century, and the philosophy they encountered there seemed to lead to the conclusion that life is meaningless.
Their names were Raissa Oumansoff and Jacques Maritain. They found what they were looking for in Catholicism, particularly as manifested in the lives of the saints. Jacques Maritain later became one of the best philosophers in the twentieth century, an eminent follower of St. Thomas Aquinas.
What would have become of them had they never escaped from the materialism of the Sorbonne? Of course we don’t know, but the outlook was bleak. And it was bleak then and still is in major secular universities. When Raissa confided to one of her professors that she was seeking through philosophy to know the deep meaning of things, he was horrified and exclaimed: “But that’s mysticism!”
They were led away from materialism through attending the lectures of Henri Bergson, a very impressive lecturer. (Archbishop Fulton Sheen relates an occasion when he was leaving the lecture hall after listening to Bergson, and an American woman said to him: “Wasn’t he wonderful!” He got into conversation with her and found she didn’t understand French. Sheen’s comment was: “She hadn’t understood a word Bergson said, but she still thought he was wonderful!”)
After their conversion to Catholicism, Raissa, following the advice of her spiritual director, began reading the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, and she speaks of the trepidation with which she began. Surely even the Prince of the Schoolmen would throw some dust on their new faith! She describes her reaction as she read.
“From the very first pages I understood the emptiness, the childishness of my fears. Everything, here, was freedom of spirit, purity of faith, integrity of the intellect enlightened by knowledge and genius” (Raissa Maritain: Adventures in Grace, p. 182).
That response shows the character of her mind. Most cradle Catholics, whom one might expect to be more attuned to the thought of St. Thomas, would think him too abstract at their first reading.
Many young people, seeking the truth, are still today in the same situation as the Maritains: They are confronted with skepticism and tempted to think that there is no ultimate truth. Especially in philosophy, the typical courses in the typical university lead away from the truth.
I attended an open day at a university, and the vice chancellor asserted in his welcoming speech that the university student should begin by questioning every proposition — including that one!
The result of this attitude, and the opinion that there is no ultimate truth, is that instead of being educated the university student is de-educated. The natural commonsense truths which should provide the framework for a deeper understanding are instead weakened by skepticism.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) foresaw the coming of a universal skepticism affecting, however, only the learned. We are not too far from that today, except that with universal education it is not only “the learned” but the whole population who are affected. And Kant’s philosophy shares a large part of the blame. People accept the ordinary realities of everyday life but the thinking of most lacks a solid foundation, so when questions arise about the deeper realities, such as the existence of God and questions of morality, most people easily become uncertain.
It should be clear to everyone, for example, that abortion is intrinsically evil, and therefore always wrong, but most people are uncertain of this or deny it (and are uncomfortable if the question is raised).
In 1936 a young philosopher, A.J. Ayer, published the very influential book Language, Truth, and Logic, in which he argued that our minds are incapable of getting beyond sense knowledge. So if we claim to think about a Being beyond all sense knowledge we are mistaken. That is, our minds are incapable of forming an idea of such a Being.
So he concludes that theism, atheism, and agnosticism are equally nonsensical. To illustrate Ayer’s position: A dog is not a theist, an agnostic, or an atheist: It can’t have these concepts. And neither can we if we have only sense knowledge.
I heard a lecture by a university professor who claimed, correctly, that much modern philosophy rules out questions such as the existence and nature of God. And this is because, according to that philosophy, our minds are incapable of handling those questions.
So the dilemma about ultimate questions confronting the young Jacques and Raissa continues today, and young people seeking the truth are exposed to the same uncertainties. The Maritains found the answer in the scholastic philosophy of which St. Thomas Aquinas is the greatest Master.
But they came to it through their study of the saints, through the holiness shining in the lives of those who have given themselves wholeheartedly to Christ.
Jacques Maritain’s best work, I believe, is in metaphysics and philosophical psychology, not in social science. And after Vatican II, particularly in his work The Peasant of the Garonne, he deals well with the theological disruptions in the Catholic Church due to the distortions of the teachings of Vatican II.
I owe him a great debt for the enlightenment I got from the first book of philosophy that I read: Maritain’s Introduction to Philosophy. It is not an easy book for beginners but is well worth the effort.
Jacques and Raissa came to the Faith through the holiness shown in the lives of the saints, and near the end of his life, after Raissa and her sister Vera had died, he said: “I have lived with two saints.

What Catholic Education Is Really About

September 14, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on What Catholic Education Is Really About


There are many success stories in Catholic education. Many schools that were on the verge of closing turned to faithful religious education and a humanities curriculum which brought them new life. The disastrous policies of closing schools and the virtual learning initiatives during COVID have also revealed that Catholic schools remain superior to their peers in all measurable metrics. With the start of a new school year and a growing renaissance in Christian education, we must understand what the heart of Catholic education is really about.
Catholics must remain vigilant that their education is more than just an academic alternative to failing public schools. Catholic education must always remain Catholic in orientation, focused on the love of God and how love of God is the true and only source of wisdom in all things.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with earthly excellence nurtured through religious education. That is something that Catholic education does, in fact, strive to achieve. Excellence in all things can be an expression of the love of God and all things Good, True, and Beautiful.
Nevertheless, the focus of Catholic education should not be excellence in mere reading, arithmetic, writing, science, or sports. The excellence of achievement in the classroom and on the extracurricular playing field must always be tied to God.
To be made in the image of God is to be made in wisdom for wisdom and in love for love. As such, we are called to excellence of mind (and heart) and the fact that Catholic education remains the peak of educational performance is a good thing. But Catholic education must never lose sight of the fact, and it is a fact, that it is first and foremost involved in forming souls to God through Christ and inculcating into students a love for the Good, True, and Beautiful in all things.
If Catholics forget that their educational vocation is found in the love of God and the love of Truth (God is Truth), then what is Catholic about Catholic education?
In our age of pluralism there is a tendency to want to minimize what makes us distinctively unique. If there is anything distinct to celebrate it is the bland secularity of academic success. Promoting that Catholic schools do well in all the metrics of academic excellence subtly minimizes the Catholic nature of education while elevating the ordinary standards of education that can appeal to all persons.
This is not a bad thing in-and-of-itself. As Catholics, we should strive to have and be happy with high standards of excellence inside the classroom. That is part and parcel of what being made in the image of God demands.
But, as mentioned, the need to retain a Catholic identity and make it known that educational success is because of love of God is something that must remain at the fore of Catholic educational identity. Participating in Catholic education shouldn’t be seen as a means to success in the City of Man. It should always be known as a place in the training of virtue that guides one to the City of God.
Moreover, in our own secularizing society that association of educational excellence with the virtuous soul who loves God and creation is the only true spirit that can transform lives and the world. To attain mere secular success leaves the soul empty and estranged. The success that the soul achieves in the world, when illuminated from the light of eternity, makes those successes far more meaningful and transformative. It can, and often does, lead souls to seek to inspire the same love of learning as a love of God to others.
Part of the vision of Catholic education is the whole human life. The whole human life cannot be separated from God since we are made in the image of the Creator. The wholesome life we seek will never be whole when it only has half of the equation: We are more than matter, we are more than bodies, more than political animals.
While unpalatable for some, this fact is something that Catholics should always be joyful about.
The excellence in the classroom is but a steppingstone for excellence in one’s entire life. The love of learning is an expression of the love of God and answering God’s call to each and every one of us to strive for the greatness that humanity is called to as the crown jewel of creation.
As our public, even charter, schools continue down the path of destruction and failure, more and more eyes will turn to the bright light that is Catholic education. Here, though, exists a temptation that Catholics must not fall into: to become like the world bereft of the Goodness, Truth, and Beauty of God.
Eyes turned to Catholic education should always see the Catholic nature first and that all wisdom and education flows from that Catholic basis. As those eyes turn to the excellence found in Catholic education, those eyes should equally see that excellence flowing from the love of God through Christ and not just high-test scores, high levels of proficiency in reading comprehension, and large numbers of graduates attaining scholarship and prestigious university admissions.
If Catholic education swaps out God in favor of just secular excellence, then Catholic education will cease being Catholic and just become another outpost of the city of man which is destined for destruction. The failure of our public school system is precisely for that reason. Nothing divorced from God’s reality is permanent. Nothing divorced from God can be truly excellent.
Catholic education is about more than just academic excellence. It is, first and foremost, about the love of God and how that love can transform your soul and from that transformation all excellence flows. The excellence that Catholic schools exhibit is tied to love of God.
And in the throes of our educational crisis, that is the true bright light that illuminates the mere academic excellence that others see.

The Sign Of The Cross: The Earliest Sacramental

September 13, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on The Sign Of The Cross: The Earliest Sacramental


The concept of making the Cross upon which Our Lord died the ultimate symbol of His entire mission of our redemption came from the lips of Our Lord Himself, for it is implicit in His command that if we are to be His true disciples, we must take up our own crosses and follow Him. St. Paul invokes the image of the Cross directly:
“But far be it for me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). The expansion of the invocation of the Cross into all aspects of a Christian’s life arose quite early in the history of the Church. In his work De Corona, Tertullian (+c. 220) attests:
“At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the Sign [of the Cross]” (De Corona, chapter 3, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A. 325: volume III, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887, pp. 94-95).
Writing at about the same time, Origen (+c. 253) speaks of the Sign of the Cross as instilling fear and trembling in demons. In the fourth century, St. Cyril of Jerusalem gives instructions similar to those of Tertullian about the role of the Sign of the Cross in our daily lives:
“Let us, therefore, not be ashamed of the Cross of Christ; but though another hide it, do thou openly seal it upon thy forehead, that the devils may behold the royal sign and flee trembling far away. Make then this sign at eating and drinking, at sitting, at lying down, at rising up, at speaking, at walking: in a word, at every act” (Catechetical Lecture 4, n. 13, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series: Volume VII, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, New York, Christian Literature Co., 1894, p. 22).
The early references to making the Sign of the Cross refer mostly to making this sign on the forehead, a practice believed to have been inspired by a passage from the Book of Ezekiel:
“Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherubim on which it rested to the threshold of the house; and he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his side. And the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it’” (Ezek. 9: 3-4).
The Book of Revelation would have also given impetus to the signing of the forehead: “Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1).
In his book on Baptism, the Eastern bishop and ecclesiastical writer Theodore of Mopsuestia (+c. 428) explains that as “the highest and noblest part of the body” the forehead is a particularly appropriate locus for the Sign of the Cross, for it is also the part of the body to which the eyes of those we converse with are directed, and therefore if we exhibit this mark before the eyes of God, we will be given the reward of beholding Him face to face in the life to come (Liber de Baptizandos, chapter 2, cited in Brendan Lupton, “The Sign of the Cross in the Dialogues of Gregory the Great,” Downside Review, volume 138, n. 3, 2020, p. 101).
In addition to physical gestures of the Sign of the Cross, images of the Cross arose in the early Church by the fifth century and also found their way into the many different settings of a Christian’ daily life. Archaeologists exploring the ruins of the ancient abandoned city of Istros on the Black Sea coast of Romania have discovered thirty-four artifacts marked with the Sign of the Cross or fashioned in the shape of a cross, ranging from a pot and tableware to lamps and a scale.
One common thread that runs through the afore-cited early evidence for the use of the Sign of the Cross is that these crosses both in the form of gestures and as physical objects were made in plentitude. Both Tertullian and St. Cyril of Jerusalem could have chosen to say that the cross is so powerful that one Sign of the Cross upon rising at daybreak would suffice for the entire day. But instead, they enjoin the faithful to make the Cross many times a day, to sanctify every action of the day with it.
In this context we can see how the making of the Sign of the Cross over twenty times by the priest celebrating Mass while reciting the Roman Canon would have arisen quite naturally and organically. Early manuscripts of the Gregorian Sacramentary show that this practice was in place by the eighth century. Of course, in this case, the Sign of the Cross was made not on the forehead but rather with a crosswise motion of the hand over the Oblata upon the altar. It is likewise by the eighth century that we find the beginnings of the custom of tracing a cross upon oneself with a full sweep of the hand from the forehead to the sternum, and then from one shoulder to the other.
Elsewhere in the rites of the sacred liturgy, the Sign of the Cross became a widespread gesture. As a signing of the forehead, it was already a component of the baptismal rites in the third century. St. Basil the Great (+379) claimed that this practice had been handed down from the apostles. In the rites of extreme unction, the anointing of the five senses represented by five different parts of the body (eyebrows, ears, nostrils, hands, and lips) by tracing a cross with the oil of the sick had arisen by the ninth century.
By the eleventh century, the practice of signing oneself with the Cross not only on the forehead but also on the lips and over the heart had appeared as a preparation for hearing the Gospel at Mass.
From the beginning, the making of the Sign of the Cross was understood as a spiritual defense against demonic attacks. St. Anthony the Abbot had frequent recourse to the Sign of the Cross for this purpose.
The subject of the image of Cross is so vast that we can only address one further chapter of its long history here, namely, the remarkable role of the image of the Cross on the French and Belgian battlefields of World War I.

A Much-Needed Reminder

Much of the fighting during the First World War transpired across French and Belgian countryside terrain dotted with roadside crosses, largely in the form of crucifixes. Amid the horrific carnage and misery of the fighting that claimed the lives of so many soldiers, these crucifixes became a source of comfort not only to Catholic soldiers but also to those of other faiths who came to recognize a certain similitude between their own battle scars and the wounds of Christ: “Tommies [British soldiers] who may never before have seen crucifixes were attracted to the wayside calvaries they came across in France and Belgium” (K. Inglis, Foreword to Annette Becker, War and Faith: Religious Imagination in France, 1914-1930, Oxford, Berg, 1998, p. x).
These men of different faiths also noticed that in many cases these rural shrines of Calvary miraculously survived in the midst of landscapes of otherwise total devastation from the fighting.
A particularly striking example of this could be seen for many years in the cemetery of the French town of Ypres, where a wayside Calvary scene survived amid thousands of German shells that rained down during the fighting, one of which became lodged in the space between one of Christ’s outstretched arms and the wood of the cross without doing any harm to the image.
One British soldier was to fashion his own personal image of the Cross from his very close brush with death on the battlefield. In June of 1917 Rifleman Vincent Sabini was shot in the knee during fighting in Messines, Belgium. After recovering from his wound, he had the bullet extracted from his leg made into a crucifix that he wore around his neck for the rest of his life as an expression of his gratitude to God for having survived the battle.
Another British soldier named John Scollen made a little cross to send home to his wife and children with a farewell letter addressed to them just days before his death in battle in July of 1916 (Alexander Saunders, “Crucifix, Calvary, and Cross: Materiality and Spirituality in Great War Landscapes,” World Archaeology, volume 35, n. 1 [2003], pp. 14-16).
The solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14 serves as a much-needed reminder of the mystery of Good Friday and how that mystery touches every aspect of our lives. Each Sign of the Cross we make, from the Sign of the Cross we trace upon ourselves upon waking in the morning to the Sign of the Cross we make each time we pass a Catholic Church, takes us back in spirit to Golgotha and the love of God supremely revealed there.
May the Sign of the Cross protect us from every temptation and every evil until we are safely home in Heaven.

Like Former Singers . . . Today’s Politics One Day Will Fade Away, But They’re Hot Topics Now

September 12, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on Like Former Singers . . . Today’s Politics One Day Will Fade Away, But They’re Hot Topics Now


PHOENIX — On September 2 blogger and former Wanderer columnist Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, also known as “Fr. Z,” posted a video of the major twentieth-century rock group “The Who” in its young days, informally performing The Kids Are Alright in the open air, in a park by a lake.
This may have been London’s Hyde Park in the mid-1960s. Boaters casually floating by in the background, out for a little recreation, are captured on film forever in that moment as the rock group sings and plays, without microphones evident.
The acoustics we actually hear may have been dubbed in later because the sound is firm and clear, more of studio quality in the ’60s than open-air.
“The Who” members appear happy, although a touch or two at that time may have been regarded as defiant, like the drummer wearing a shirt that looks like the British flag. But their lyrics include a code of honor, beginning, “I don’t mind, other guys dancing with my girl. That’s fine, I know them all pretty well.”
In other words, the other guys are being trusted not to steal the girl.
No one is next to the performers. The camera cuts away briefly in the opposite direction in the park. We see mainly fewer than a dozen teenagers standing and watching, including some very pretty girls.
That would mean these cute teenagers — back before the United States achieved the first manned moon landing, in 1969 — are probably in their 70s by now, grandmothers or even great-grandmothers.
How time flies. People pass through this life and, before you know it, decades have vanished. People who rose to become major musicians fade away to being as unknown as they previously were. Their young fans eventually move on to retirement homes or communities.
Blogger Zuhlsdorf posted the video for that very reason. To explain the background of a parody. On September 2 he posted a parody of “The Who’s” The Kids Are Alright titled, “The Kids Are Old Rite by ‘Quis’.”
The parody of “The Who’s” lyrics pointed to young people today preferring the “Old Rite,” the Traditional Latin Mass, instead of “the revolution” imposed against tradition.
Zuhlsdorf asked, “Are you of an age that you do not know the song whence this [parody] is derived?” Then he supplied the video of “The Who” early in their career, before most people today were born. (He posted this item at
That’s a reminder that no person or event lasts forever, although what they do or mean can’t be erased from the record. They become history, but often they’re reversible. However, they’re not reversible, of course, in circumstances such as a baby’s life ended forever by abortion.
Today’s political battles, too, are very much with us, from the destructive, immoral Democrat Joe Biden administration to continued turmoil in Arizona after suspiciously convenient results for Democrats and the local establishment here after Election Day chaos in Maricopa County in 2022.
Arizona Republican attorney general nominee Abe Hamadeh continues to seek redress of his supposed narrow loss to radical leftist, pro-abortion extremist Democrat Kris Mayes, by only 280 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast. Statistically, they each received 49.9 percent of the vote.
But the Arizona Supreme Court surprised some observers on August 23 when it declined to expedite Hamadeh’s appeal, even though a Mohave County Superior Court judge, Lee Jantzen, had let months go by without formalizing his denial last December of Hamadeh’s request.
Conservative Republican political consultant Constantin Querard told The Wanderer on September 1: “We can’t read very much into this decision because the Supreme Court basically said Hamadeh can’t skip any steps on the way to the Supreme Court. He has to first appeal to the Court of Appeals.
“Abe wanted to save time since it is obviously very consequential if Arizona is being represented by the wrong attorney general,” Querard said, “but the Supreme Court sent him back to the Court of Appeals first, so he will still have his day in court.”
On August 23 the Arizona Daily Independent posted that Arizona Chief Justice Robert Brutinel “noted Hamadeh’s petition for special action ‘misrepresented’ efforts undertaken to obtain the signed judgments from Jantzen. Therefore, by ‘unnecessarily’ filing the petition, it required Mayes and Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes to incur ‘unnecessary expense’ to respond. This justified an award of attorneys’ fees incurred by Mayes and Fontes, the order states.”
This meant Hamadeh and his counsel would have to cover that cost.
Capitol Media Services reporter Howard Fischer said the order from the state Supreme Court had the effect that only “after the appellate court has had its say — something that could take months — would the justices be willing to consider his arguments.”
Fischer also wrote that Brutinel urged the two sides to moderate their language — for instance, the Democrat side having attacked those who “weaponize our courts, sow unfounded distrust in our election processes, malign our public servants, and undermine our democracy,” and the Republican side criticizing the secretary of state’s “churlish imperiousness.”
The Daily Independent said the state high court issued an order to Jantzen “to sign off ‘forthwith’ on two overdue judgments in the case, one of which dates back to December 23, 2022.”
With the approach of October in sight, Hamadeh sees almost three-quarters of the first year of the four-year attorney general term already gone. Perhaps some powerbrokers would be pleased if he simply gave up.
And the same for GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, the supposed loser to Democrat extremist Katie Hobbs by less than one percent of the more than 2.5 million votes cast, including results from the Election Day chaos in Maricopa County.
Lake currently has a two-day Maricopa County Superior Court trial scheduled for September 21 and 25 regarding accuracy of mail-in ballot signatures.
The Just the News website wrote on August 28: “Lake has been in court over the past few months challenging the results of the 2022 gubernatorial election after losing to current Democrat Gov. Katie Hobbs.
“She has pointed out major problems with the signature verification process for mail-in ballots and argued many voters in Arizona were disenfranchised on Election Day, when voting machine errors occurred in at least 60 percent of the voting centers in Maricopa County,” the Just the News story said.
Meanwhile, speculation continued on whether Lake would enter the Republican primary in 2024 for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by independent Kyrsten Sinema, who was elected as a Democrat in 2018 but resigned from the party in December 2022. She continued to caucus with Senate Democrats.
Blake Masters, the unsuccessful GOP U.S. Senate nominee in 2022, reportedly is preparing to announce he’s in the Senate race for 2024. However, Lake is considered notably more popular with GOP voters than Masters. Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff Mark Lamb already is in this GOP contest.
Sinema hasn’t said whether she intends to run for re-election, but left-wing Arizona Democrat Cong. Ruben Gallego is eager for that seat.

Getting The Troops Ready For Battle

September 11, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on Getting The Troops Ready For Battle


Any of you who have listened to my radio program on the Iowa Catholic Radio Network know that we always sign off with the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. We do that because we know the nature of our program, Faith On Trial, exposes listeners to the battle that is waging between the forces of Our Lord and those of, as C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape would say, Our Father Below.
I’ve mentioned this in a column before, but I think it is notable enough to repeat: The Prayer to St. Michael was an outgrowth of an interior locution that Pope Leo XIII had on the morning of October 13, 1884, which, incidentally, was 33 years to the date before the great Miracle of the Sun during Our Lady’s final appearance at Fatima.
As the story goes, the Pope had just concluded his daily Mass when he suffered what appeared to be a collapse and his aides feared for his life. He shortly awoke and told the most amazing story about hearing a conversation between God and Satan. According to reports, the conversation went something like this:
Satan: “I can destroy your Church.”
God: “Then go ahead and do so.”
Satan: “To do so, I need more time and more power.”
God: “How much time? How much power?”
Satan: “75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service.”
God: “You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will.”
And, as the story goes, the Pope was so shaken by this episode he composed the Prayer to St. Michael and later ordered it recited after every Low Mass throughout the world. That continued until shortly after Vatican II.
Of course, devotion to St. Michael did not start with Leo XIII. Devotion to the angels went as far back as Genesis. In Exodus, God tells Moses, “Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared” (23:20). In Daniel, Michael is identified as a “major prince” among the angels and he fights on Israel’s behalf as its protector, and in the Book of Revelation he is described as doing battle against the enemies of God.
Thus, by Leo’s time it would not be surprising that he would immediately turn to the one who does battle for the Lord as “prince of the heavenly hosts” to do battle against Satan’s plan to destroy the Church. So, he composed the short prayer to the prince of angels:
“St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”
And Pope St. John Paul the Great, said of the prayer: “The prayer can fortify us for that spiritual battle about which the Letter to the Ephesians speaks: Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from His mighty power (6:10)….Even if today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of the Eucharistic Celebration, I invite all to not forget it, but to recite it in order to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and the spirit of this world.”
Now consider what is happening currently: “Our great nation is ruled today by an anti-Catholic elitist class who not only tolerate anti-Christi bigotry, like we saw on display at Dodger Stadium this year but they also encourage and celebrate it,” said Brian Burch, president of, “That bigotry has given thugs silent permission to carry out actual violence against Catholic churches and symbols,” he added.
To counteract this, CatholicVote is conducting its Second Annual St. Michael Novena to combat the works of the Devil. And the attacks by the Devil are too numerous to mention, but CatholicVote notes just a few: “The United States has seen a dramatic increase in attacks against Catholic churches, especially since the controversial leak of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022. To date, there have been over 350 attacks on Catholic properties since May 2020,” CatholicVote said in announcing the novena.
“Most disturbing is the fact that while violence against pregnancy care centers has slowed, attacks on Catholic churches and sacramentals have only increased in frequency,” said CatholicVote Field Director Tommy Valentine.
In a press release announcing the novena CatholicVote said, “Catholics have always gone to St. Michael, the prince of the archangels, to help them in battle.
“We know that the anger and violence we see against our faith comes from the prevailing influence of the lies of the evil one. Abortion and the blasphemies of hate groups like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence open human beings up to the influence of the fallen angels, so we’re asking the prince of angels to fight for us.”
The novena will begin on September 20 and end on the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel, September 29. The intent of the novena is to draw Catholics from across the country together to pray for an end to the violence. “We know that the anger and violence we see against our faith comes from the prevailing influence of the lies of the evil one. Abortion and the blasphemies of hate groups like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence open human beings up to the influence of the fallen angels, so we’re asking the prince of angels to fight for us,” CatholicVote said.
“Each day of the novena promotes a special intention, and there will be days dedicated to specific parishes that have suffered vandalism, to Catholics who work in the trenches to support women and families, and to leaders in politics and in the Church,” said CatholicVote in its announcement.
“Everything we do must begin with prayer. This is the entire message of the Gospel: the battle belongs to the Lord. The battle for America’s soul is no different,” said Burch.
This week when we tape our program, we will have as our guest Erika Ahern, associate editor and co-host of CatholicVote’s LOOPcast. That program will air before this is printed, but if you are interested you can follow the link below to Episode 379 and listen to the podcast.
Remember, join us September 20 to 29. We’ve all been enlisted in this fight so let’s make the most of it.

  • + + (You can reach Mike at: and listen to him every weekend on Faith On Trial or podcast at

Dem Foes Try To Eat Trump Alive . . . But He Grows New Limbs

September 10, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on Dem Foes Try To Eat Trump Alive . . . But He Grows New Limbs


“I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!”
Through and through, that’s an exaggeration. No one believes that even a famished person could do that for a meal.
But what if an emaciated person not only did it, but also ordered up a second horse, and then a third and cleaned his plate — or whatever eating surface he needed to accommodate that size of repast. Only Clydesdales on the menu, please, no little ponies.
Look there, even the hooves and horseshoes went down the hatch.
That would be overkill for sure. Or at least remarkable overfill. It’s not only unreasonable but impossible that such enormous consumption would be demanded to solve the problem.
In a way that’s the equivalent of what’s being done on the legal front by the enemies of Republican Donald Trump, who’s being eaten alive by voracious foes. (Trump, however, manages to grow new arms and legs to replace the devoured limbs.) Their demands are insatiable.
These radical Democrats can’t get enough. Up and down the East Coast, they never seem satisfied with how many knives come out to carve up Trump. More, more!
He’s regarded as the worst man in U.S. history by foes out of control. Or maybe North American history? Or of the Western Hemisphere? This 77-year-old would face hundreds of years in prison.
Nor is the witch hunt confined along the Atlantic coast. Out near the Pacific Ocean, to take an example, the extremist Democratic Party governor and attorney general of Arizona — specially installed left-wingers Katie Hobbs and Kris Mayes, respectively — wanted to have their own go at assaulting Trump legally.
At least this is the landscape of opinion as it’s reported and mapped at the establishment level. Not so much attention is given to the perceptions and attitudes of the many Americans who see this as obvious overkill.
Occasionally a video appears of people on the street saying they recognize this banana republic politics for what it is. It’s not the pursuit of justice against a flagrant criminal. It’s a corrupt, decaying establishment terrified that finally a foe is confronting it who has the clout and popularity to end the uniparty’s unlimited schemes and frauds.
Both black and Hispanic voters are among those drifting away from the Democratic Party, making it increasingly vulnerable. And Asians see themselves being denied opportunities because of left-wing “woke” ideology that considers them a successful class that deserves some punishment.
Phoenix radio conservative talk host James T. Harris (KFYI, 550 AM) told listeners on September 5 that even rappers are coming out in support of Trump now, including one who during the 2016 presidential campaign dismissed Trump with an obscenity. Harris, who himself is black, noted that life was better under Trump.
The Daily Caller website posted an article September 5 headlined, “Biden’s Support Is Crumbling Among Nonwhite Voters, Analysis Finds.”
On September 3 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette posted an article by roving national writer Salena Zito about unhappy middle-class black voters. It was headlined, “Democrats beware: These Black voters are fed up, and looking for a political home.”
Zito said that she sat down with six such voters for hours to discuss the state of politics. She wrote: “What was most interesting is their shared belief that neither party is listening to them, with the Democrats taking the brunt of their criticism for promising change that never comes and taking them for granted, while Republicans struggle — sometimes comically — to give them a reason to support the party.”
A person might note that Trump made a point of not being a regular Republican — while he went on in the White House to post a mostly conservative record of accomplishment.
Three mostly conservative, pro-life Supreme Court justices were confirmed in Trump’s four years. But when other GOP presidents had the opportunity to appoint more than one justice, there were sore disappointments, like Ronald Reagan’s Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush’s David Souter.
When prominent Republican presidential candidates for 2024 held their first debate on August 23, Trump not only declined to join them but counterprogrammed with his own interview run at the same time with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
At that GOP debate, conservative viewers saw some candidates they’d consider worthy of their vote if one of them secured the presidential nomination, while other faces on stage represented the past.
The extent of uniparty presumption of a right to rule perhaps had reached its height in the closing years of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, when five people from only two immediate families either held the presidency or were put forward for it — on the Republican side, George H.W. Bush and sons George W. and Jeb, and on the Democrats’ side, Bill Clinton and wife Hillary.
Out of more than 300 million people, inhabitants under only two roofs deemed themselves suitable for the pinnacle of U.S. political service — but two of those five family members didn’t make it because Barack Obama disrupted Hillary’s plan, then Trump disrupted Jeb’s.

Biden’s Pathetic Path

Thereafter, Democrats became so desperate to thwart the threat that incumbent President Trump represented to establishment rule that they manipulated a campaign through the 2020 pandemic to install worn-out old loser and liar Joe Biden as some kind of savior for goodness and normalcy.
However, it took Biden practically no time at all to show the nation the pathetic path he planned to drag it along as he immediately threw open the southern border, installed pro-abortion radicals like Xavier Becerra at Cabinet level, and ordered a shameful rout of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.
Before long Biden’s public image was that of a confused clown who had dictators and tough guys around the world watching with glee at what the U.S. ruling class had chosen to install in power.
Reporter Zito’s interview with the six middle-class blacks included this paragraph about Biden’s image:
“Ardell Martin, who spent most of her career working for community newspapers, said…even looking at Mr. Biden makes her so uncomfortable. ‘I think he’s pathetic. In a way, I feel bad for him. I really do. I think he’s lost’.”
The most recent serious embarrassment for Biden as I write this story overnight on September 6-7 for The Wanderer occurred on September 5, when Biden simply walked out of the room after he awarded the Medal of Honor to an 81-year-old Vietnam War veteran, retired Army Capt. Larry Taylor.
While the audience was applauding Taylor as the ceremony continued, and before the closing prayer was said, Biden simply exited by walking down the aisle past the people, a few of whom could be seen on a video looking at Biden’s departing back as if they wondered what he was doing. Back up front, Taylor began looking uncomfortable.
Biden often has seemed lost during public appearances when he doesn’t know what to do or where to turn.
At least a few observations have asked how Biden can be so befuddled and yet also be an alleged evil left-wing genius. But that’s no problem if the befuddled one is just a figurehead.
From early on in his presidency people asked who’s really running Biden’s show. Ron Klain’s name sometimes was suggested while he served as Biden’s first chief of staff.
However, the answer may have been so obvious that it simply was overlooked — like eyeglasses that a person shoves on top of his head then forgets they are there. How about Biden’s old boss Barack Obama, who unusually lived in Washington, D.C., after his eight-year term was over, and who had expressed a liking for the idea of being able to serve a third term.
How better to do that than to call the shots for his Democrat successor? Obama has a huge ego, but he also shows fantastic discipline for enforcing his far-left agenda by removing himself from public notice while actually performing the work of the president.
Biden is surrounded by members of Obama’s former staff, and the far-left extremism of the Biden administration echoes Obama’s eagerness in 2008 voiced to begin what he called the fundamental transformation of America.
Shortly before the November 2008 election, Obama seemed confident about who would win, and it wouldn’t be his Republican presidential foe, U.S. Sen. John McCain. Obama boasted to a campaign crowd in Columbia, Mo., “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
At that time many who opposed Obama asked what was so bad about the traditional U.S. that it needed “transforming.” They soon were to see.
On September 1 the Washington Examiner posted a video of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich telling Fox News: “My personal guess is that the driving force behind the Biden administration is Barack Obama. Obama is the only president since Woodrow Wilson to stay in Washington,” and that was because Wilson had a severe stroke and couldn’t be moved.
“So, the fact that Obama’s here all the time, and the fact that his staff permeates, literally permeates, the Biden administration, and Obama is really, really smart,” Gingrich said. “Whatever Biden’s problems are at being kind of slow and cognitively decaying, Obama doesn’t have any of those problems.”
Obama is pro-abortion fanatical, too, like the Biden administration. Back when he was an Illinois state senator, Obama went so far as to oppose providing medical care to babies who survived abortion.
Pro-abortion dominant media’s promotion of permissive abortion tries to brush off the extremism of “good Catholic” Biden’s abortion stand, but Washington Examiner columnist Timothy Carney, a pro-lifer, posted on August 29 that Biden isn’t only coming after babies but born pro-lifers, too.
Carney said: “Biden has made it clear that he thinks pro-lifers are outside the bounds of acceptability and worthy of prosecution…. Biden has made it clear that he doesn’t merely disagree with pro-lifers, but that he hates us and wants to sic the federal government on us.”
Although Carney said he considers Trump “uniquely unfit” for office and never had voted for him nor would, he doesn’t agree with those who urge a vote for Biden as preferable to Trump.
“I know plenty of right-of-center folks who voted for Biden in 2020 and probably some who would vote for Biden over Trump again in 2024,” Carney said. But he concluded: “Biden thinks my views place me outside the bounds of acceptable politics, and he uses the DOJ to persecute people for holding those views. That makes it inconceivable that I would vote for him.”

School Unions Dig In . . . “We Want Your Kids!”

September 9, 2023 Frontpage Comments Off on School Unions Dig In . . . “We Want Your Kids!”


John Swett founded California’s oldest school union, the California Teachers Association (CTA), 160 years ago. Mr. Swett, a Unitarian and a diehard anti-Catholic, is famous for declaring that “children belong to the state, not to the parents.”
The CTA Union still runs the California Democrat Party. So true to form, this week California’s top law enforcement officer “took a school district to court for the alleged crime of notifying parents when their kids claim to identify as transgender,” the Daily Signal reports.
“That school district has gone out of its way to promote mental health and suicide prevention, and it has resources devoted to helping ‘LGBTQIA+ youth,’ but California Attorney General Rob Bonta has claimed that the parental notification policy ‘wrongfully endangers the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of nonconforming students who lack an accepting environment in the classroom and at home’,” Tyler O’Neil reports.
Michael Novak once observed that, when a guy gets hired by the government, his IQ goes up twenty points. Sometimes it seems that school union members enjoy the same self-perceived elevation of intelligence.
At our local county board meetings, union members sometimes claim that “we’re the best friends our students have.” They consider their classrooms to be a “safe haven” for children whose selfish parents don’t want the best for their children. In fact, their hostility toward parents and families has been on the rise of late.
But who cares? Unions are in charge now, of the schools and of the Democrat Party.
And yes, they think that our children belong to them.
Consider Chicago. Thousands of parents are pulling their children out of the Windy City’s collapsing public school system. No problem: The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) runs the joint. Newly elected (and already disastrous) Brandon Johnson ran for mayor only after Stacy Davis-Gates decided to run for president of the CTU — apparently the more powerful office of the two.
Johnson wants to ruin every neighborhood in town, defending rioters and looters instead of their victims.
In similar fashion, Davis-Gates wants to ruin every family in sight
“School choice was actually the choice of racists,” she once opined on Twitter. She also calls private schools “segregation academies.”
That charge might come as a surprise to members of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. The order runs Chicago’s De La Salle Institute. Founded in 1889, the school is named after St. John Baptist de La Salle, the order’s founder, who died in the seventeenth century.
We now learn that Ms. Davis-Gates sends one of her children there.
“Private schools for me but not for thee,” bray the school unions, and, in blue cities all over the country, parents have thrown up their hands. The unions have already won. They’re in power, their schools are collapsing, and so are the communities they serve. In urban areas throughout the country, crime and corruption are erasing the remnants of what was once vibrant city life.
They’ve won the blue cities, but the school unions want more. Today, in school board meetings across the country, the battle rages, and union money and heft are playing a pivotal role.

Singing The Virginia Blues

Here in Virginia, several counties surrounding Washington, D.C., are a focal point as the school year begins. Two years ago, those counties provided the margin for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s victory over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat. Youngkin stood up for the rights of parents, while McAuliffe, in a rare moment of truth, argued that parents don’t have any.
Victory in Virginia’s elections this year will be critical to advocates of parents’ rights. Democrats who hold a slim majority in the State Senate have done their best to thwart the pro-life, pro-family agenda of Youngkin and the Republican majority in the House of Delegates, but the redistricting that followed the 2020 census has introduced an added dimension of uncertainty going forward.
And as usual, the Federal Government has made the situation even more difficult.
Unfortunately, its endless expansion has led to a phenomenal growth of the number of bureaucrats, lobbyists, contractors, and their booming supply chains to Northern Virginia. Most of them are Democrats who live off the government or one of its countless mammary glands, and most of them are pretty well-off.
In fact, today the five richest counties in the United States surround Washington, D.C.
The richest of all, Loudoun County, owes its growth and its wealth entirely to government. Its population has increased by a factor of ten since 1973, when it was a predominantly rural community dotted with horse farms.
But that was then. Loudoun County is now booming, indifferent to the pervasive suffering elsewhere in the country.
But Loudoun is having growing pains of its own.
The past two years have been a long, hard slog for the radical Democrats sitting on the Loudoun County School Board (LCSB). Sexual assaults in two different schools, committed by the same grade-school male wearing a skirt in the girl’s lavatory, were bad enough. As usual, the subsequent coverups, LCSB outrages, lawsuits, and then outright malfeasance compounded the issue and made Loudoun a scar on the national map.
The scandal was topped off by the firing of Scott Ziegler, Loudoun County Superintendent of Schools last December. But that wouldn’t have happened, had it not been for Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, whom Gov. Youngkin asked to call a special grand jury to investigate the scandal when the LCSB stonewalled.
Miyares, a Republican and son of a Cuban refugee, was elected with Youngkin in 2021, and has proven to be a tough prosecutor.
The grand jury also blasted LCSB members for mishandling the sexual assault cases, but none of them quit. Arrogant board members sued to stop the investigation altogether, and it proceeded only when the Virginia Supreme Court dismissed the board’s objections.

Aiming Close To Home

The radical left and the school unions have been targeting school board elections for years, while parents have been focusing on taking care of their kids. But the sexual revolutionaries are on the warpath against the family, and the Northern Virginia Democrats are as viscerally anti-family, pro-sodomy, and pro-perversion as are Attorney General Merrick Garland and Joe Biden himself.
Unfortunately, Virginia’s Catholic Bishops, Michael Burbidge of Arlington and Barry Knestout of Richmond, have stayed out of the fray. While Bishop Burbidge’s excellent Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology was published two years ago, parents’ groups throughout the Commonwealth have been on their own in their battle to clean up school and public libraries, monitor curricula, cancel Gender Agenda in the classroom, and elect pro-family school board members.
In fact, many in the Catholic laity are concentrating on local elections, while their bishops concentrate on management and fundraising. Both Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Knestout continue to maintain their stubborn silence regarding the prominent Catholic Democrats in their dioceses who support abortion until birth abortion – Cong. Gerry Connolly in Arlington and Sen. Tim Kaine in Richmond.
Virginia’s off-year elections this fall have become a target not only for school unions nationwide, but for radical foundations and activists, who have already gotten several Marxist prosecutors elected in counties near the D.C. Beltway.
With the growth of government and the resulting influx of pro-abortion Democrats, Virginia’s political future is uncertain. Gov. Youngkin’s term ends in two years. He cannot run again, and is already being mentioned for national office.
Although he has put Virginia’s decline on hold, the odds are against us. Elections in Virginia will always be a toss-up at best.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

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Today . . .

German bishops in tug of war over blessing same-sex unions

The German Bishops’ Conference convenes its plenary assembly today, setting the stage for what promises to be a pivotal gathering amid a period of unprecedented tension within the Church in Germany — and with the wider Catholic Church.  On the official agenda for the gathering from Sept. 25–28 in the town of Wiesbaden are topics ranging from handling spiritual abuse to preparations for the upcoming Synod on Synodality in Rome. However, overshadowing discussions are the…Continue Reading

Bishop Strickland: ‘no communication from Rome’ following apostolic visitation

Following a report that Pope Francis and Vatican officials held a meeting earlier this month to discuss requesting the resignation of Tyler, Texas, Bishop Joseph Strickland, the prelate said on Wednesday he has not been contacted by the Vatican about such matters. In addition, Strickland said if Pope Francis were to remove him from office he would respect the Holy Father’s authority but would not resign if asked. 

Trump calls six-week abortion ban ‘terrible,’ gets slammed by pro-life leaders

(LifeSiteNews) — Former President Donald Trump stunned pro-life former supporters over the weekend with a Meet the Press interview in which he repeatedly touted plans for an abortion compromise he hopes will put the issue “behind us,” repeatedly refused to say if he believes the preborn have constitutional rights, condemned state heartbeat laws as “terrible,” expressed indifference as to whether the issue is resolved at the state or federal level, and reiterated his insistence that…Continue Reading

Pope Francis reportedly set to ask Bishop Strickland to resign

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis met with Vatican officials over the weekend to discuss asking Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, to resign, according to a report on Monday by The Pillar. Pope Francis met on Saturday with Archbishop Robert Prevost, OSA, the head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The Pillar reported that several sources close to the dicastery told the website ahead of the meeting that…Continue Reading


7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Welcome To The Big Tent

By PEGGY MOEN Catholics now are reading more Scripture than they did in earlier generations, possibly as a reflection of Vatican II and greater ecumenical involvement. But I think the increased reading might reflect another reality — the need for the consolation of the Word of God in trying times, with so many people moving…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading