Wednesday 26th January 2022

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Alice Von Hildebrand, 1923-2022: A Personal Remembrance

January 26, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on Alice Von Hildebrand, 1923-2022: A Personal Remembrance

By JAMES MONTI

The passing of Dr. Alice von Hildebrand on January 14, 2022 is a loss that touches the lives of so many that it is rightly eliciting a wave of wonderful tributes to what this very faithful daughter of the Church achieved in the service of God during a life spanning nearly ninety-nine years. What I would like to add to this great chorus of gratitude to “Dame Alice” is something far more modest, my own personal memories of this “valiant woman” (Proverbs 31:10, Latin Vulgate) who championed the faith with all her heart in a world hostile to truth.
It was in the late spring of 2018 when Dr. von Hildebrand had suffered a health crisis from an injurious fall that I began visiting her regularly. Our conversations always began with the recitation in Latin of the Anima Christi, a special favorite of hers and mine as well. Invariably, when we reached the words, “In hora mortis meae voca me. / Et jube me venire ad te….” (“In the hour of my death call me, and command me to come unto Thee…”), she would raise her voice and gesture with her right hand to say, “Et JUBE me,” stressing as emphatically as she could the word “jube,” “command,” to emphasize the consoling thought that at the dangerous and all-decisive moment of death, we may be so fortunate as to be commanded by our Lord to come to Him. But there was a very personal reason for her doing this — she could never forget what her husband had done on his deathbed, as she relates in her foreword to his book, Jaws of Death: Gate of Heaven:
“Dietrich von Hildebrand received Holy Communion for the last time on Tuesday, January 25 [1977]. I shall never forget the ardor with which he recited the Anima Christi, that prayer he loved so deeply. With an intensity of faith that sprang from the very core of his ardent soul, he repeated three times to Christ the words, ‘Jube me venire ad te!’ — ‘Bid me come to Thee!’ These were practically his last words — he who had spoken so often and so beautifully about eternal life” (Jaws of Death: Gate of Heaven, Manchester, NH, Sophia Press, 1991, pp. xi-xii).
Throughout the three and a half years that I had the privilege of visiting Dr. von Hildebrand, the subject of her own death was ever in her mind. Her friends would hear her speak of her life time and again as a wick nearly spent, an analogy with which she often ended our conversations. Yet her life was in the hands of Him who does not quench the smoldering wick (Isaiah 42:3). Despite her severely compromised health, she lived on as a witness to truth and to fidelity in the face of great physical suffering.
What emerged from these conversations with Dr. von Hildebrand was a picture of Dietrich and her as two souls equally devoted above all else to the Holy Eucharist and the sacred liturgy. She told me that each day she and Dietrich recited together antiphonally the offices of Vespers and Compline from their Benedictine Breviary. As I knew that Dr. von Hildebrand had attended Mass daily until her infirmity finally prevented her from continuing to do so, I asked her when this beautiful habit of hers had begun.
She replied that she started attending daily Mass as a teenager in Belgium, a practice she attributed not only to the good Catholic education she had received, but also to the stellar example of her father, who went to 6:00 a.m. Mass every morning. Dietrich von Hildebrand was equally committed to attending daily Mass, having done so from when he first converted to the Catholic faith until the time of his final illness. For both Dietrich and Alice, getting to daily Mass was paramount.
Dr. von Hildebrand described her husband’s yearning for daily Holy Communion as a “hunger.” It was a hunger she shared entirely. As late as 2018, she was still managing to make it to Mass on at least some Sundays, thanks to the indefatigable efforts of her tirelessly devoted and devout weekend nurse, Miss Rosemary Rodriguez (who always joined in our conversations). But from 2019 onward, she was permanently confined to her apartment. Nonetheless, at her request, Holy Communion was brought to her daily from her parish church.
And on three occasions during this period, the Traditional Latin Mass was celebrated in her presence within her apartment. For two of these occasions, the table upon which her husband had written so many of his books served as the makeshift altar. The third Mass was celebrated beside her deathbed, less than fourteen hours before her passing.
As is widely known, the von Hildebrands’ mutual love for the Mass was particularly made manifest through their ardent efforts to work for the restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass. In our conversations, Dr. von Hildebrand spoke time and again of the vital importance of this ancient form of the Eucharistic liturgy, unfailingly describing its immutability as “the golden cord of tradition,” an expression she attributed to her husband, and one not unlike that of their favorite Greek philosopher Plato, who in his Laws speaks of “the sacred and golden cord of reason” (Laws, book 1). Expanding her husband’s use of this expression further, she told me that he had a great sense of “the holiness of tradition — the golden cord that links us to the past.” By way of contrast, she noted that “modernism tried to cut off this connection with the past.”
Our discussions of the Mass almost invariably led us to the subject of reverence. One could say that Dr. von Hildebrand had formulated together with her husband a veritable spirituality of reverence. This came to the fore when I asked her to tell me what she would particularly want me to highlight in describing her husband’s love for the sacred liturgy. She replied by speaking of how the discovery of the Catholic liturgy played a crucial role in her husband’s conversion to the Catholic faith — of how he found in the Catholic liturgy “the way of relating to God on one’s knees…with trembling reverence.” Observing that “the liturgy can only be understood on one’s knees,” she explained, “To be on one’s knees enables us to see what we could never see when we stand up.” In a similar vein, she expressed this thought: “We are never closer to Christ than when we kiss His feet.”
Stressing “the importance of kneeling,” Dr. von Hildebrand would cite G.K. Chesterton as saying that “men easily forget how tall they are on their knees.” It seems likely that she was referring to the following passage from Chesterton’s book The Everlasting Man: “The crux and crisis is that man found it natural to worship…the gesture of the worshipper was generous and beautiful. He not only felt freer when he bent; he actually felt taller when he bowed. Henceforth anything that took away the gesture of worship would stunt and even maim him for ever….If man cannot pray he is gagged; if he cannot kneel he is in irons” (The Everlasting Man, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1926, p. 124).
Dr. von Hildebrand saw reverence as essential not only within the sacrosanct realm of the liturgy, but also in all the aspects of living our faith, going so far as to call it “the mother of all the virtues.” “The virtue that is most neglected or ridiculed is reverence,” she observed, adding that “ridicule is reverence’s archenemy.” She complained of the irreverence of those who upon entering a church begin talking, even in front of the Tabernacle. This sad reality is all the more reason to be grateful that, as she pointed out, the highlighting of reverence was “one of the great contributions” of her husband to Catholic thought.
Gratitude was another subject that Dr. von Hildebrand turned to time and again in our conversations. Describing the decline of her eyesight that she was experiencing as the greatest trial she could receive because of her lifetime love of reading, she told me that every day I should thank God for my eyes, adding that she wished she had thought to do so during her life. She said that words of gratitude should be the very first words upon our lips when awaking in the morning.
Among those things for which Dr. von Hildebrand expressed her deepest gratitude was the gift of friendship, which she repeatedly described as “a remnant of the earthly paradise.” To her friends she was ever saying, “I thank God that He has placed you on my path . . . ,” and as an expression of her unfailing hospitality, “My door is always open.”

Final Steps

Never far from Dr. von Hildebrand’s mind was the ongoing battle for truth and fidelity to the doctrines and traditions of our Catholic faith. Almost every time I visited her, she asked me to tell her the latest news concerning the Church. Paraphrasing a thought from G.K. Chesterton’s book, The Man who was Thursday, she said to me that “the real criminals” are “people who give us lies instead of truth.” Recalling what she was subjected to during her years at Hunter College, and the rampant relativism among her colleagues, she spoke of those who teach relativism as “traitors” for having betrayed their vocation of leading their students to the truth.
When discussing Sacred Scripture, she would often say, citing Soren Kierkegaard, “These things can only be understood on one’s knees.”
Reflecting upon the prospect of her approaching death, Dr. von Hildebrand said she was in the final steps of her life, but that these steps were the most important. She asked me to pray not that she be granted a “good death,” but rather a “holy death.” She spoke of what she wanted her final words on Earth to be: “Thank you, I love you, and Forgive me.”
When I visited Dr. von Hildebrand for what would prove to be the final time in the early evening of January 13, six hours before her passing, which came shortly after midnight on January 14 — just twelve days shy of her husband’s forty-fifth death anniversary — I had intended to recite for her the Anima Christi, but unfortunately I had misplaced my copy of the Latin text of the prayer and did not trust my poor memory enough to chance reciting it by heart. So I said it in English, twice. I feel sure she was reciting it too, in Latin, within her heart.
Dr. von Hildebrand once explained to me that the grave for Dietrich and her was deliberately chosen to be directly adjacent to the grave of their two dearest friends, Lyman and Madeleine Stebbins. Their reason for doing this was that on the Day of Resurrection the four of them might be together for that great day.
May we all be found together in the Lord on that great day!

A Beacon Of Light… Marriage — The Sacrament Of Service To Each Other

January 25, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on A Beacon Of Light… Marriage — The Sacrament Of Service To Each Other

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON JR.

(Editor’s Note: Fr. Richard D. Breton Jr. is a priest of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn. He received his BA in religious studies and his MA in dogmatic theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.)

  • + + There are two sacraments devoted to service. The Sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders are ordered toward the service of others. Today we will discuss the Sacrament of Marriage.
    The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines marriage as: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”
    Marriage is a special sacrament where a man and a woman are united to each other forever. In marriage, man and wife confer the sacrament upon each other by professing vows. The wedding ceremony can be performed either within Mass, or, outside of Mass. Whichever ceremony is celebrated, both follow the same form.
    Within the ceremony there is a certain order necessary to follow. First is the Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy of the Word allows the couple to listen to the word of God. The readings prescribed explain the importance of a sacred bond. Thus, this enables the couple to reflect upon the great gift that marriage is. This is followed by the homily in which the priest explains and reminds them of the importance of the sacrament they are about to receive.
    Second, through a series of questions, the couple offer their consent to willingly enter the sacrament with mutual love and fidelity.
    Third, they profess their vows to each other. This is the most important moment, because this is the moment the sacrament is conferred upon the couple. This is what they vow: I, (name), take you, (name), to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
    Fourth, is the blessing and exchange of rings. The couple offer their wedding rings, a sign of their love and fidelity, and present them to each other. The rings are a visible sign of their love to each other.

St. Augustine

For the Sacrament of Marriage to be valid, there are three requirements, or bona, necessary for a marriage to be a sacrament. St. Augustine discusses this in his treatise, De Bono Coniugali, On the Good of Marriage.
The first is bonum sacramenti, or permanence. Marriage is forever! Marriage is a sacrament instituted by Christ. It is a lifelong commitment in which a man and a woman unite themselves totally to each other. This includes the good times and the bad, in sickness and health, in sadness and joys until death.
The total commitment necessary in married life is currently under attack. Society teaches the opposite. Society says you can leave whenever you are want! When marriage gets difficult, most couples do not know how to fix the difficulties. Married life includes sacrifice. Today’s society no longer teaches one to sacrifice. Sacrifice in marriage involves giving up of oneself for the other.
The second bona of the Sacrament of Marriage is fidelity, or the bonum fidei. The bonum fidei is the exclusivity of one man and one woman to each other. Today’s society is suspicious of commitment. Because of this suspicion, couples have difficulty making lifelong commitments. We all want to be loved by someone, and to love someone in return. So often in today’s marriages, there is a disconnect in true and lasting love. When one of the spouses is suspicious of lasting love and is not totally committed to the other, then that spouse relegates themselves to total isolation and loneliness. Marriage has no part of this.
Jesus reminds us that we must have “total love,” love that goes beyond the things of earthly life. “Thou shall love thy spouse with all thy heart and shall cleave unto them and no other.” Fully committed love goes beyond personal preference in married life. The Sacrament of Marriage is a sacrament of sacrifice. Both man and woman are called to this sacrificial kind of life.
When I celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, I always remind the couple that marriage is not more for one or the other. They share in this sacrament together fully giving and receiving from each other. In marriage man and woman sacrifice a lot for each other. Recently, I had the privilege of celebrating the 75th anniversary of a couple in my parish. In my remarks to them I asked them how they have survived 75 years. Their answer was simple: through constant sacrifice and by allowing Jesus to be part of their marriage.
The third bonum of marriage is, bonum prolis, or, for the good of offspring. In Baptism we receive the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. The virtue of love is a gift from God meant to be shared. In marriage this gift of love is made manifest through the conjugal act.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2366, reminds us of this: “A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment.”
Having received the gift of children, married couples then take on added responsibility. Parents are now responsible for the education of their children. They are the first teachers of the faith. By their example they contribute to the moral, spiritual, and supernatural formation of their children.

A Divorce-Free City

Today the Sacrament of Marriage has many challenges. Society has stretched and mutated this sacrament and its gifts. This is evident in the high divorce rate of today. From civil unions and same-sex unions we are fighting a battle with the Evil One, who continually degrades the sanctity of the Sacrament of Marriage. The family is one of the institutions most affected by the crisis in our times. Religious and moral sentiments have practically disappeared as if torn to bits.
The divorce rate is overwhelming — an estimated 50 percent of marriages fall apart. Added to this, there are illicit unions, which are common and seemingly without consequences.
When the three bona of marriage are not present, then the marriage begins to deteriorate and it eventually dies. This can be changed. We can reverse the course society has taken and return the Sacrament of Marriage to its original holiness.
How do we accomplish this? We follow the example of the only divorce-free city in the world!
That is why it does so much good to hear — lo and behold! — that despite the malice of the times, there is a city in this world that has not surrendered to universal depravity and in which family bonds are so strong that there is no record of divorce.
This privileged city is Siroki-Brijeg. Located in Bosnia, its approximately 26,000 inhabitants of Croatian origin have always been ready to defend their Catholic faith even in the face of the worst adversities. This is what happened during the Muslim invasion centuries ago. Then, the country fell under the boot of atheistic Communism when the faith was tested in every possible way. What is the explanation for such a remarkable fact?
First, the population of this city is almost 100 percent Catholic, and they live their faith very seriously. They consider it an honor to defend marriage and the monogamous family formed by the union of a man and a woman. However, what marks this profoundly religious attitude is that they see marriage as a cross united to Christ. This leads spouses to face their union without romanticism, false expectations, or illusions. There is no mutual understanding without a mutual exercise of patience.
This Catholic view of marriage is what prevents the incidence of divorce and separations. However, this attitude finds physical expression in a custom.
During their married life, the spouses find strength by praying together before the crucifix they hold together during the Sacrament of Marriage.
In this ceremony, the priest blesses the crucifix presented by the bride and groom. He places the bride’s right hand upon the crucifix, then that of the groom upon hers, and covers them with his priestly stole. The couple then make their vows with their hands clasping the crucifix. The priest tells them they have found the ideal “partner” with whom they must share their lives with the following words: “You have found your cross! It is a cross that you must love and take with you every day of your lives. Know how to appreciate it.”
After kissing the cross, the spouses enthrone it in a place of honor in their homes, showing their profound belief that a family must be born of the cross.
When trials, misunderstandings, disagreements, and difficulties common to all marriages arise, both spouses kneel before the crucifix and with unwavering faith ask for strength to endure them, for our Lord’s yoke “is easy, and His burden, light.”
In closing I pray for all married couples and those seeking a holy married life. May the Lord always be part of your married life! May the daily struggles you endure be united to the cross of Christ!
Next week we will discuss the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Mea Culpa And Navy Seals

January 24, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on Mea Culpa And Navy Seals

By DEACON MIKE MANNO

I’m a bigot.
Yes, it must be true and I’m as surprised as you are. But alas, I’m trying to come to grips with my own white supremacy.
In my defense I don’t live in a compound, I’m not a member of any conspiracy group, I don’t fly the Confederate flag, and I don’t have a cache of weapons hidden in my basement.
And once in a while I take the American flag down and fly a team flag for an important game. Had it up for the Eagles, but I had to put it at half-staff after the game.
But, of course, if 52 U.S. senators can be bigots, I guess I could be one, too; but no one has chased me into a ladies’ restroom taking pictures and shouting at me, nor has anyone picketed my house or blocked my car from leaving. But I know they are all bigots because Chuck Schumer said so, and he should know — he is, after all, the leader of the Senate.
So I’m still trying to figure out just when I became one and how anyone found out.
I’m wondering if it was when I expressed my belief that voter ID laws were important to our democracy. Apparently they are a detriment because I know now that they work to disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Silly me! I always thought those folks were capable of getting the necessary identification for themselves. I was sorry to find out that apparently they can’t figure out the process, and that’s a darn shame. I guess there is some type of natural inferiority that I never suspected they had.
Or it might have been when I told a pollster that I favored signature verification for absentee ballots. That would be where the signature on the ballot should match the signature on file in the election office and not the signature on the absentee ballot application like they did in Georgia last time. Sorry but I thought that was wrong, too. Apparently I was wrong again.
Mea culpa.
Maybe it’s the police flag in my yard. Apparently from what I hear cops are bigots, too. After all I’m learning how horrible they are, beating and shooting poor people. I know that because Nancy, Chuck, and Joe told me so. After all they are three of the wisest people in the United States and I should take to heart what they tell me.
They are now my friends because they pointed out my sins to me. Thank you, o great trinity, for saving a wretched soul like me.

  • + + Last week on my radio program our guest was Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation with First Liberty who is participating in the representation of the 36 U.S. Navy Seals who challenged the military’s vaccine mandate.
    The 36 had objected to the mandate on religious grounds — mostly having to do with the use of aborted fetal cells in the vaccine’s development. They had all sought a religious exemption to the requirement and while a small number of Navy personnel had received exemptions for other reasons, none of the 36 religious accommodation requests had been approved. In fact, the court found that “denial” had become the Navy’s default position to the religious exemption.
    The Seals had also been threatened with discharge, possible criminal charges, court-martial, and reimbursing the Navy for all training expenses. Yet the government claimed that the Seals would not have been harmed by the mandate, a legal predicate that must be shown.
    The judge, Reed O’Connor however, found differently stating:
    “[The Seals] testify that they have been barred from official and unofficial travel, including for training and treatment for traumatic brain injuries; denied access to non-work activities, like family day; assigned unpleasant schedules and low-level work like cleaning; relieved of leadership duties and denied opportunities for advancement; kicked out of their platoons; and threatened with immediate separation. At least one Plaintiff has received an email for enrollment in the TAP course, a prerequisite for separation from the Navy.”
    The Seals won a preliminary injunction against the government which, for now will allow them to stay on active duty — although not necessarily with special warfare units — pending a possible appeal by the administration. According to the court:
    “Our nation asks the men and women in our military to serve, suffer, and sacrifice. But we do not ask them to lay aside their citizenry and give up the very rights they have sworn to protect….The Navy provides a religious accommodation process, but by all accounts, it is theater. The Navy has not granted a religious exemption to any vaccine in recent memory. It merely rubber stamps each denial. The Navy service members in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect. The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution,” he added in his written ruling.
    “To adjudicate a religious accommodation request, the Navy uses a six-phase, fifty-step process. Although ‘all requests for accommodation of religious practices are assessed on a case-by-case basis,’ Phase 1 of the Navy guidance document instructs an administrator to update a prepared disapproval template with the requester’s name and rank,” the judge wrote.
    “What’s concerning to me, and we’ve seen this both in the military and private contexts, is that there seems to be a real desire to judge the sincerity of belief that people applying for these accommodations present, and that is something the Constitution, the courts has long held. It is not the domain of courts or employers,” Dys said.
    The legal rule, he said, is that the employer is to take the reasons for the religious exemption request at face value and cannot sit in judgment of another’s belief or question its sincerity, he said.
    Sounds to me like the rippling wave of anti-Christian bigotry that has consumed the Biden administration. Of course they’ll fight to keep people with strongly held religious beliefs outside the mainstream. And they’ve hinted they will continue to do so: several federal agencies are making lists of federal employees who have asked for their religious exemption. The documentation includes reasons for the request and the individual’s religious status.
    You’ll hear more about this attack on our religious freedoms. Until, of course, government and big-tech shuts us down.
  • + + (You can reach Mike at: DeaconMike@q.com and listen to him every Thursday morning at 9:30 on Faith On Trial on IowaCatholicRadio.com.)

Alice Von Hildebrand . . . The Passing Of A Legendary Catholic Woman And Scholar

January 23, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on Alice Von Hildebrand . . . The Passing Of A Legendary Catholic Woman And Scholar

By PEGGY MOEN

Early in the morning of January 14, John Henry Crosby, president and founder of the Hildebrand Project, emailed to us and others a “Farewell to Alice von Hildebrand (1923-2022).” It read:
“With sadness suffused by joy, I write to share that our beloved friend and sister Alice von Hildebrand went home to the Lord at 12:25 a.m. this morning. She died peacefully at home after a brief illness.
“Those who knew Lily often heard her say that the wick of her candle was growing ever shorter. In fact, she yearned for death — to see the face of Our Lord, to be reunited at last with her husband Dietrich, her parents, her dearest friend Madeleine Stebbins — with the peace that only true innocence and profound faith can grant.”
According to a tribute by Dorothy Cummings McLean in LifeSiteNews, Alice von Hildebrand was born Alice Jourdain on March 11, 1923, in Brussels, Belgium. Known as “Lily” to her friends, Alice moved to the United States as a refugee in 1940. In 1947, she began a long career as a teacher at New York City’s Hunter College. She was named a professor of philosophy there and retired in 1984.
In the 1940s, Alice pursued graduate studies at Fordham University in New York City and took 18 courses with fellow refugee Dietrich von Hildebrand. Alice and Dietrich married in 1959. His first wife, Margarete, had died two years earlier. Dietrich himself died in 1977. He was the subject of Alice’s noted 2000 Ignatius Press biography The Soul of a Lion: Dietrich von Hildebrand.
It was my privilege and joy to do the copy-editing on many of Alice von Hildebrand’s priceless contributions to The Wanderer. One of the most outstanding of those essays was “The Treason of the Intellectuals,” which we are reprinting on p. 3A of this week’s issue. It first appeared in our issue of September 17, 2015 — not terribly long ago, but the article’s conclusion was clearly prophetic:
“The damage done by these ‘intellectual traitors’ — which like termites have undermined our schools and our society — is so grave that all that one can say is: Wake up before it is too late. May God have mercy on a society which has apostatized!”
I spoke by phone a number of times with Dr. von Hildebrand, and some of her comments during those conversations also heralded the present moment.
In the spring of 2007, Alice von Hildebrand met with Pope Benedict XVI, whom she greatly admired, for the fourth and final time. They spoke in German during that meeting in which, she told me a short time afterwards, Benedict praised her husband’s work. She told the Pope then — as she had before — of her hopes that the Traditional Latin Mass would be allowed more widely.
In a February 26, 2013 recollection for Catholic News Agency, she recalled this about that 2007 meeting:
“I once again requested his support for the Tridentine Mass. With a sweet and radiant smile, he said to me, ‘Very soon, indeed very soon.’ Some 100 days later, to my joy and immense gratitude, he granted an indult to all priests wishing to say Mass following the Traditional liturgy.”
That 2013 recollection was written in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the news of which broke on that February 11.
Alice von Hildebrand commented there:
“From the moment the future Pope left his beloved Regensburg until February 28, 2013, he accepted a mission which was not of his own choosing. Let me repeat emphatically: He did not like the limelight. He was never tempted by ambition. He did it in obedience, but an act of obedience which was to him, a subtle form of crucifixion. . . .
“When elected almost eight years ago, Benedict accepted the ‘crown of thorns’ in obedience, convinced that he had a mission to perform. I suspect that even then he had firmly decided to step down as soon as what he could contribute to the Church, was accomplished: to strengthen the holy cord of tradition, to give us back the treasure of the Tridentine Mass, and to further true ecumenism by opening the door of Holy Church to Anglicans distressed by what was happening in their community.”
Shortly after Pope Francis’ election, I again spoke with Dr. von Hildebrand. She seemed concerned and uneasy about the new Holy Father, saying that she hoped the College of Cardinals had picked the right one.
If it now seems like ever-darkening times in the Church, we can hope that the work of Alice von Hildebrand and other giants of the faith will yet bear fruit, through those whom they have taught and through the written works they have left behind.
Among Alice’s most noted written works are: The Privilege of Being a Woman, Man & Woman: A Divine Intervention, and By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride.
Here are some quotations from two of her other most outstanding contributions to The Wanderer:
From “Blindness and Blindness,” the issue of July 2, 2015 (commenting on how students do not object to conclusions reached by empirical sciences, but react quite differently to questions raised by philosophy):
“But quite different are the questions raised by philosophy: Is there a God? What is His relationship to us? Is there an objective truth? Is there an objective moral good and evil? Do we have an immortal soul?
“Once these questions are raised, many are the students who will wake up from their lethargy and start challenging the arguments offered them in defense of these crucial truths. Not only have they entered the classroom with their minds already made up, but they all realize that the answers reached might be very ‘uncomfortable,’ because these answers challenge them to examine their lives in their light.”
From “Holy Bashfulness V. Shame,” the issue of June 21, 2018, p. 5A:
“The twentieth century (which Chesterton calls the century of uncommon nonsense), under the leadership and inspiration of Freud, reacted to puritanism with a vengeance, and today to discuss sexual matters on talk shows, in books and magazines, in the classroom, in public places, in the living room, is not only highly acceptable, but a matter of course. We are now comfortable with the fact that we are trousered apes and that animals’ behavior can give us valid norms for our own conduct.”

A Catholic Icon

In comments to LifeSiteNews about Dr. von Hildebrand’s passing, Wanderer publisher Joseph Matt stated:
“The readers of The Wanderer have been blessed to read the wisdom and vast understanding of the Catholic faith that Alice von Hildebrand shared in her columns for over four decades.
“Her contribution to the Church and to the defense of Catholicism is immeasurable. The countless people she touched in her witness to the Catholic faith will not be fully known until the end of time. Her words are even more valuable today as our world continues to distance itself from our Creator.
“Alice von Hildebrand, a Catholic icon, will truly be missed. May her soul rest in peace.”

The Hard Slog Gets Longer

January 22, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on The Hard Slog Gets Longer

By CHRISTOHER MANION

Five years ago this week, Vice-President Joe Biden could have made a graceful exit from public life as the Obama-Biden administration drifted quietly into history.
He didn’t, and today, one year into his presidency, his increasingly ungraceful performance bears all the marks of a bitter failure.
This has caused a historic drop in Biden’s polls, prompting many Republicans to indulge in prognostications that are typical of even-numbered years in the U.S. election cycle.
They cheer as over two dozen Democrat members of the House of Representatives announced their retirements, with more coming every week. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy talks about what he’ll do as Speaker a year from now — whom he will appoint to chair key committees, what rogue Republicans he will remove. On a gambling site based in Las Vegas, the odds favor Republican victories in the House and the Senate in November.
So all we have to do is wait out the storm, and fix everything in 2023?
Two considerations come to mind.
First, between now and November, the Left has a wide range of options that they can use to prevent Republican victories next fall. And second, whoever wins, the unelected Left — and their number is legion — holds most of the high cards with regard to exacerbating the suffering that is now being experienced by the majority of Americans.
Joe Biden isn’t helping. Last week in Atlanta, he branded Americans who oppose his federal takeover of state and local elections as “racists.” This past Tuesday, he doubled down: His opposition is “Jim Crow 2.0, [which] is about two insidious things: voter suppression and election subversion. It’s about making it harder to vote, who gets to count the vote, and whether your vote counts at all.”
To overcome this “insidious” effort, Biden needs the Senate to change the rules and terminate the tradition of “extended debate” known as the “filibuster,” a practice which began two centuries ago (and which Joe Biden often defended in his days as a senator).
When the Senate voted on Wednesday night not to discard to practice, Joe the “uniter” became a divider: Those senators supporting the filibuster were all, well, “Jim Crows.”
Biden’s calumny that half of the country is racist goes far beyond the realm of semantics. Merrick Garland, Biden’s attorney general, has declared that the greatest terrorist threat facing America is “white supremacy.” He has enlisted the FBI to pursue those white “terrorists,” and Biden has just told Garland who they are:
They’re a couple of hundred million American citizens.
After all, if you oppose Joe’s takeover, you oppose “democracy,” and you’re a “racist” to boot. That makes tens of millions of Americans potential terrorists whose activism can easily be designated as “sedition” deserving of a federal criminal investigation.

A Crass Invitation To Chaos

“The best defense is a good offense, “said Knute Rockne. And Biden’s disasters are so indefensible that he refuses to discuss them. This week he held only his second solo press conference, a historic low. His performance was incoherent, embarrassing, and dismaying to Americans who are watching helplessly as Russia menaces the Ukraine, Communist China targets Taiwan, two million illegals cross the border with thousands more on their way . . . the list is endless: soaring inflation, weakened supply chains, the pandemic, school unions, shuttered classrooms. . . .
Without a defense, Joe Biden’s spiteful offensive opens the door to a vicious national mood fed by divisive epithets. His political goal is simple: Derail the GOP juggernaut that is on track to win both houses of Congress in November. The cultural consequences, however, are dire and long-lasting.
We recall how then-Bishop Wilton Gregory celebrated the 2008 victory of Obama and Biden as “a sign that in the United States the problem of racial discrimination has been overcome.” Unfortunately, that’s not what Obama had in mind. He intended to divide the country even more.
Any honest notion that Joe Biden campaigned as a “uniter” two years ago would have required that he renounce the reverse-racism stoked by Obama. But no dice.
Why not? We recall again the wisdom of Knute Rockne: “You don’t spit on a man’s head if you’re standing on his shoulders.” Joe is standing on Obama’s shoulders (and his administration features numerous key Obamanites).
Without Obama, Joe would be relaxing in his Delaware basement. So he goes back to the sewer.
The result is unlovely. Once upon a time, if you criticized a minority, you might be called a “racist.” A flagrant falsehood, but instead of rectifying the lie, Joe Biden perpetuates and intensifies it.
Today, if you oppose Biden’s election takeover, you’re a racist white terrorist extremist supremacist, and Merrick Garland’s message is clear: If you don’t behave, his Gestapo network is now established nationwide to “keep you safe.”
So much for civil discourse in the public square. Whether it’s accidental or intended, the result is the same. Intelligent conversation goes underground. Intimidation rules.

Death By A Thousand ’Crats

The Deep State has thousands of bureaus, offices, regulators, and lawyers who enforce literally millions of rules. While Joe Biden makes up new ones — his edicts on vaccinations alone have ravaged entire sectors of the economy — there are plenty of old ones that the bureaucracy can wield against “opponents of democracy.”
Obama’s HHS Mandate caused countless individuals and organizations to spend hundreds of millions defending their religious freedom in court — money they could otherwise have dedicated to good works (or, ahem….to opposing Obama).
Obama’s Department of Justice refused to prosecute IRS regulator Lois Lerner for malfeasance when she deliberately and illegally stalled over a hundred conservative organizations from operating until after Obama’s 2012 victory. Instead, Justice investigators cleared her and praised her as a “hero.”
Lerner was allowed to retire with full benefits. When over a hundred organizations sued, they won: After dragging its feet for years, the IRS was ordered in Federal Court to pay them $3.5 million for Lerner’s criminal malfeasance.
Of course, that $3.5 million was paid by the taxpayer, not Lerner.
A reminder: Jesus and Socrates both warned us: Perfect justice comes, but only in the next life.

The Culture Can
Cancel You Too

Mid-level bureaucrats can easily wield the “death of a thousand cuts” that are usually almost imperceptible. But that power is not reserved solely for government officials. A college professor can give a conservative student taking a class in her major a demeaning grade that guarantees she will not get into a top-flight law school.
Even tenured professors, who historically have been as impossible to fire as federal government workers, find themselves ostracized or worse for espousing the simplest of truths.
That sad reality has prompted a pioneering number of senior professors, fed up with the “ThoughtCrime” atmosphere in today’s academe, to leave their tenured positions and found the promising new “University of Austin” in the heart of the liberal capital of Texas.
But not all professors and students can enjoy such independence. For several years in the early 2000s, I volunteered to record the presentations given by various academics at an annual meeting of sane, which is to say, “conservative,” academics. The topics ranged across the fields of primarily liberal arts and cultural subject fields.
I was startled, a couple of years ago, to receive a frantic message from one of the participants at a college that many readers would recognize as a prominent liberal arts institution. He reminded me of his presentation given some years before. “Please,” he wrote, “do not distribute or share my remarks. I’m a candidate for tenure here, and in this atmosphere that presentation would be used to turn me down for sure.”
The Left will never quit. Not in November, not in 2024, never. The City of Man is ruled by Satan.
Plan accordingly.

Take My Son…

January 21, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on Take My Son…

BY JOE SIXPACK

I got the following in an email from a Joe Sixpack reader the other day, and I liked it so much I thought it should be shared with all of you:
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.
When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.”
The young man held out this package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.”
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.
The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.
On the auction platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?”
There was silence. . . .
Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.”
But the auctioneer persisted. “Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100? $200?”
Another voice angrily shouted, “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandt’s. Get on with the real bids!”
But still the auctioneer continued, “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?”
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.
“We have $10. Who will bid $20?”
“Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.”
The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.
The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!”
A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the collection!”
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over.”
“What about the other paintings?”
“I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!”
God gave His son over 2,000 years ago to die on a cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: “The Son, the Son, who’ll take the Son?” Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Although this isn’t a true story, it’s a fitting reminder of what God has done for us. Will you take the Son?
Would you like to see this and the other catechetical pieces that I write — pieces endorsed by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke — in your Sunday bulletin? Just reach out to me at Joe@CantankerousCatholic.com.

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Corporate America’s Embrace Of Wokism

January 20, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Corporate America’s Embrace Of Wokism

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

We have observed the striking phenomenon of the American corporate community embracing the woke worldview. These are the corporations that the political left — now so firmly ensconced in the Democratic Party, which is perhaps the major institutional advocate of wokism — had for so long claimed were against the people and the good of the country. What has changed the character of corporate America? Why has it embraced wokism and thus seemed to side now with the left that for so long despised it?
While the left likes to think of wokism as being against racial discrimination and what it considers to be social inequalities — without, of course, ever analyzing what the latter means — what wokism means at bottom line is embracing the socio-economic-cultural-political agenda of the left and seeing the world the way it does.
Different writers have identified why wokism has advanced so strikingly in the corporate world. Michael Rectenwald, a former professor who has emerged as a major critic of the present-day “social justice” movement, has said that one of the major reasons is simply to pander to corporate clients.
Corporate decision-makers especially want to appeal to their customers with the most disposable income: those between 25 and 54 who live on the coasts. This, of course, includes millennials, who tend disproportionately to lean left.
Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute concurs, saying that corporate executives want to expend their customer base and these leftist younger people are concerned that their consumer decisions should reflect their politics. (Ah, how for the left politics affects everything!)
Conservative commentator Ross Douthat concludes flatly that executives conclude that taking the leftist position on social issues is simply a good corporate strategy to please not just customers but also their increasingly leftist employee pool.
Responding to the ideological preferences of clientele and employees is not the only reason for the leftist tilt of corporations. Rectenwald tells us that CEOs and other business executives went to university business schools that have become more left-leaning as a result of their professors being influenced by their colleagues in the humanities and social science who have long been mainstays of the political left. Gregg says that not only were they shaped by their progressive universities, but like so many Americans have been influenced by the monolithic leftist media.
It’s not only the executives who are responsible for the woke transformation of corporations, but also according to Dan McLaughlin on National Review Online their human resource personnel. He says that leftist activists have been attracted to such positions partly as a way to promote extreme notions of diversity and they have effectively raised the (overstated) danger of lawsuits against their companies as a way to get their executives to let them push their ideological preferences.
Wouldn’t one expect that a concern about economic self-interest — i.e., the bottom line — take precedence over political views for corporate executives? Gregg says not necessarily, that it’s not unusual for them to prioritize progressive politics over profits — even if the results are not positive for their shareholders. He says that it’s not necessarily just investors, stockholders, and even customers who are the ones to be attentive to; now executives have to be prepared to consult and effectively seek approval from many “constituencies” before acting. That obviously prominently includes leftist elements. They have to act like politicians, checking with the people back home.
Rectenwald says, however, that economic self-interest is not out of the picture for corporate leaders. He says that effectively their embracing of wokeness is a way to buy off — without having to make any financial commitment to do it — their increasing number of leftist employees and customers.
Identifying with the woke worldview seems to be more important to many in the latter groups currently than higher wages, increased benefits, and cheaper prices. So, it becomes almost another strategy for businesses to avoid their obligations under the very social justice the woke left claims it is promoting — and also their obligations under commutative justice and distributive justice (which is really what the left means by social justice, since in ethics distributive justice concerns society’s duties to individuals).
Then, not surprisingly, there is the desire to satisfy or at least stave off government. Rectenwald says that if corporations try to curry the favor of liberal legislators and government officials, they are more likely to get favorable treatment from them. That, he says, might mean that they can avoid excessive regulations or even anti-trust actions. Gregg seconds this and says that companies won’t have to work so hard to compete successfully in the marketplace if they can get special favors from regulators and others in government.
Finally, Rectenwald reminds us that globalist ideology can’t be ignored in all of this. The leftist agenda of extreme internationalism — to the point of the debasement of national sovereignty — gender ideology, anti-family views, and, of course, pushing Christianity out of the picture is in line with what he calls global corporate dominance.

A Major Player

I will just observe that it’s interesting that globalist corporate ideology wants to eviscerate the foundations of sound culture just as Marxism did.
So, the corporate community has become a major player for an assortment of reasons in the latest — and perhaps most sweeping and virulent — assault on the principles and practices of Western culture (or at least what’s left of them) that is represented by wokism.
The corporations have joined the left. Those who are inclined to rally to their side — because of a concern about free market economics and the like — need to wake up and see the realities and consider the serious implications presented by these developments.

  • + + (Stephen M. Krason is professor of political science and legal studies at Franciscan University of Steubenville, associate director of the University’s Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life, and co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. His most recent books are Catholicism and American Political Ideologies: Catholic Social Teaching, Liberalism, and Conservatism and a Catholic political novel, American Cincinnatus.)

Archbishop Gómez . . . Sounds The Alarm On “Political Religions”

January 19, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on Archbishop Gómez . . . Sounds The Alarm On “Political Religions”

By CHRISTOPHER MANION

This past November, Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, gave a video address the Congress of Catholics and Public Life in Madrid. His topic: “The Rise of New Secular Ideologies and Movements for Social Change in the United States and the Implications for the Church.” His remarks focused on “the wider context of the global movement of secularization and de-Christianization and the impact of the pandemic.”
His bold condemnation of the “spirit of the age” in the Western World was simply stunning.
“An elite leadership class has risen in our countries that has little interest in religion and no real attachments to the nations they live in or to local traditions or cultures,” he said.
“This group, which is in charge in corporations, governments, universities, the media, and in the cultural and professional establishments, wants to establish what we might call a global civilization, built on a consumer economy and guided by science, technology, humanitarian values, and technocratic ideas about organizing society.”
Is this the same archbishop who presides over the USCCB, whose bureaucracy has for years been in the thrall of the very mentality he is criticizing?
He continues:
“In this elite worldview, there is no need for old-fashioned belief systems and religions. In fact, as they see it, religion, especially Christianity, only gets in the way of the society they hope to build.”
As a result, “for years now, there has been a deliberate effort in Europe and America to erase the Christian roots of society and to suppress any remaining Christian influences.”
His listeners have discussed the “cancel culture” and “political correctness” during their meeting, he observes. “And we recognize that often what is being canceled and corrected are perspectives rooted in Christian beliefs — about human life and the human person, about marriage, the family, and more.”
Spot on. The “cancelers” are targeting the fundamental truths so clearly and beautifully expressed in Humanae Vitae.
“In your society and mine, the ‘space’ that the Church and believing Christians are permitted to occupy is shrinking….Holding certain Christian beliefs is said to be a threat to the freedoms, and even to the safety, of other groups in our societies.”
In the past two years, Gómez observes, “The new social movements and ideologies that we are talking about today were being seeded and prepared for many years in our universities and cultural institutions [Who “prepared” them? We wonder, what is this enemy’s name?]. This pandemic did not change our societies as much as it accelerated trends and directions that were already at work.”
Correct. The Left has seized on Rahm Emanuel’s “never let a crisis go to waste” and doubled down on its efforts to control our lives, brand the majority of Americans as terrorists and extremists, close down our churches as “nonessential,” and sundered the limits imposed by the Constitution, all to guarantee their permanent post-pandemic power.

The Perils Of
Secular Religions

Gómez goes on to “offer a ‘spiritual interpretation’ of [these] new social justice and political identity movements.” He called them “America’s New Political Religions.”
Echoing political philosopher Eric Voegelin, who branded Germany’s National Socialism as an “Ersatz Religion” eighty years ago, Gómez says that “the best way for the Church to understand the new social justice movements is to understand them as pseudo-religions, and even replacements and rivals to traditional Christian beliefs.”
“With the breakdown of the Judeo-Christian worldview and the rise of secularism, political belief systems based on social justice or personal identity have come to fill the space that Christian belief and practice once occupied.”
These systems have various names: “social justice,” “wokeness,” “identity politics,” “intersectionality,” “successor ideology” — but they all “claim to offer what religion provides,” he says.
The archbishop’s Spanish listeners must have been scratching their heads as they watched the president of the USCCB describing the ideological contamination that has infested America’s elites, including a significant portion of its Catholic hierarchy, for the past 50 years.
He continues:
“They provide people with an explanation for events and conditions in the world. They offer a sense of meaning, a purpose for living, and the feeling of belonging to a community. Even more than that, like Christianity, these new movements tell their own ‘story of salvation’.”
“What we might call the ‘woke’ story goes something like this,” he says:
We cannot know where we came from, but we are aware that we have interests in common with those who share our skin color or our position in society. We are also painfully aware that our group is suffering and alienated, through no fault of our own. The cause of our unhappiness is that we are victims of oppression by other groups in society. We are liberated and find redemption through our constant struggle against our oppressors, by waging a battle for political and cultural power in the name of creating a society of equity.
Clearly, this is a powerful and attractive narrative for millions of people in American society and in societies across the West. In fact, many of America’s leading corporations, universities, and even public schools are actively promoting and teaching this vision.
This story draws its strength from the simplicity of its explanations — the world is divided into innocents and victims, allies and adversaries.
No doubt that we can recognize in these movements certain elements of liberation theology, they seem to be coming from the same Marxist cultural vision.
The Hispanic President of the USCCB is condemning the Marxist errors of liberation theology — including America’s version of it. Remarkable.

In Defense Of The Human — And The Divine

“Today’s critical theories and ideologies are profoundly atheistic. They deny the soul, the spiritual, transcendent dimension of human nature; or they think that it is irrelevant to human happiness. They reduce what it means to be human to essentially physical qualities — the color of our skin, our sex, our notions of gender, our ethnic background, or our position in society.”
He likens some of these errors to those occurring in “the heresies that we find in Church history,” he writes, mentioning the Manichees, the Pelagians, and the Arians.
Continuing: “These movements are Utopian. They seem to really believe that we can create a kind of ‘heaven on earth,’ a perfectly just society, through our own political efforts.”
“Again my friends, my point is this: I believe that it is important for the Church to understand and engage these new movements — not on social or political terms, but as dangerous substitutes for true religion.”
Is the archbishop condemning “social justice” as a political religion, even though many of its advocates call it “Catholic”?
“In fact,” he continues, “as we are witnessing in my country, these strictly secular movements are causing new forms of social division, discrimination, intolerance, and injustice.”
“What is to be done? My answer is simple. We need to proclaim Jesus Christ. We should not be intimidated by these new religions of social justice and political identity. The Gospel remains the most powerful force for social change that the world has ever seen.”
“The world does not need a new secular religion to replace Christianity. It needs you and me to be better witnesses. Better Christians. Let us begin by forgiving, loving, sacrificing for others, putting away spiritual poisons like resentment and envy.”
“That does not mean we remain passive in the face of social injustice. Never! But we do need to insist that fraternity cannot be built through animosity or division. True religion does not seek to harm or humiliate, to ruin livelihoods or reputations. True religion offers a path for even the worst sinners to find redemption.”
Archbishop Gómez’s remarks have received little attention since November. Indeed, many undoubtedly pray that they will be quickly forgotten. But his analysis pulls back the curtain powerfully and profoundly on the intellectual and religious errors that infect our own times. We are grateful to His Excellency and in coming weeks we will be prayerfully examining his remarks in this space.

A Beacon Of Light . . . The Ministry Of Jesus And The Anointing Of The Sick

January 18, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on A Beacon Of Light . . . The Ministry Of Jesus And The Anointing Of The Sick

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON JR.

(Editor’s Note: Fr. Richard D. Breton Jr. is a priest of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn. He received his BA in religious studies and his MA in dogmatic theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.)

  • + + Our survey of the Catechism of the Catholic Church has allowed us to examine one of the sacraments of healing, namely, the Sacrament of Penance. Today we will discuss the second sacrament of healing, which is the Anointing of the Sick.
    The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick finds its origins in the ministry of Jesus. As Jesus journeyed with His disciples, He encountered many who were sick. The sick sought out Jesus because they heard of the many miracles He was performing. They heard of the blind man who could now see. They heard of how Jesus had healed Peter’s mother-in-law. What if they could be the recipients of such a miracle? Imagine how their lives would be changed forever.
    There is a beautiful encounter of Jesus with a sick man in St. Luke’s Gospel. Do you remember the story of Jesus and the paralytic man? As Jesus was teaching in Capernaum, many came to hear Him speak. Some brought the sick to Him to be healed. There was a paralytic who wanted to be healed. His friends carried him on a mat and brought him to Jesus.
    When they arrived at the place where Jesus was, they could not even reach Him. There were so many people that even the door was blocked. They climbed the roof and made a hole in the tile above Jesus. Then they lowered the man on the mat. When Jesus saw their faith, He immediately healed the paralytic of his infirmities. He got up and took his mat and went home.
    Here is how St. Luke tells the story in chapter 5, verses 17-26:
    “When He saw their faith, He said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven.’
    “Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, ‘Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?’
    “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, ‘What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Rise and walk’?
    “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins’ — he said to the man who was paralyzed, ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.’
    “He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God.
    “Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, ‘We have seen incredible things today’.”
    All the encounters with Jesus, the Divine Physician, were met with great love and compassion because Jesus continually showed great love and compassion for the sick.

A Special Ministry

Ministry to the sick and dying is very special. I cherish my visits to the sick because every encounter is an opportunity to extend the healing hand of Jesus. When I was ordained, I could not wait to visit the sick!
I remember the first time I administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. I was in my first parish assignment and I had not been there very long. One night about midnight, the phone rang, and it was the local prison. There was an inmate in the infirmary who needed to see a priest.
I got myself ready and left for the prison. I was so nervous! I had never been to a prison before, especially a maximum-security prison! I thought to myself, What is Jesus leading me to experience? Was I going to minister to a murderer? I arrived and approached the guard house. I was led by two guards through the prison up an elevator, down dark hallways and up some stairs to a big metal door that was inscribed with INFIRMARY.
They approached one of these doors, opened it, and pushed me inside. Clank! I heard the door close behind me. I was shaking in my boots! I approached the sick man and we spoke. Soon I was celebrating the Sacrament of the Sick and hearing the man’s Confession.
It was a beautiful moment. I finished my visit and returned to the rectory.
The experience of ministering to a prisoner was very moving because it reminded me that all of God’s children are invited to experience the healing hand of God.
In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we read: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is Jesus’ way of fulfilling this very passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel. The Anointing of the Sick is the divine portal through which we receive healing, and we are touched by the hand of the divine physician! So often the faithful wait until the last moment to seek out this sacrament. I encourage the faithful to never wait! This sacrament is so important for the sick and dying. It is a sacrament of hope in healing, it is a sacrament of comfort in times of pain, and it is a sacrament of compassion and love.
What is involved in receiving this sacrament? First, and foremost, you need a priest. The priest is the minister of this sacrament. He is the instrument through which the healing grace of the Lord flows. The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick has three parts.
First is the prayer of faith. The prayer of faith is so important because it is an action of the whole community of faith. Within the rite the people of God seek to implore the healing hand of God. The entire Church is represented in the anointing because the priest, family, and friends are assembled together to pray with the sick person.
Somehow, there has developed a strange custom where the family leaves the room during the anointing of the sick. The family, friends, doctors, and nurses are encouraged to gather together in prayer for the sick person. When someone is sick, everyone participates and benefits from the prayers the Church offers.

What Great Faith!

I am reminded of the story in the Gospel of St. Luke about the woman with the hemorrhage. This woman suffered greatly for twelve years with blood flowing continuously. She had great faith, however, because she said: “If I could only touch the hem of His garment; I will be healed.” As she drags herself through the dirty dusty streets of Jerusalem, she is considered unclean and pushed aside. She perseveres and finds Jesus in the large crowd.
Immediately she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and the flow of blood dried up. What great faith!
The second part is the laying on of hands. The Gospels are filled with moments in which Jesus touches the sick. The action of touching someone instills within them a feeling of importance. The laying on of hands indicates the central role the sick person plays in this sacrament. This action blesses the sick and helps to restore them to good health.
The third part of the sacrament is the anointing with oil. Anointing with oil is a sign of healing and signifies the Holy Spirit. Both the Gospel of St. Mark and the Letter of St. James instruct us in the importance anointing has in this sacrament. Both New Testament writers offer examples of anointing as signs of healing.
The prayer prayed during the anointing is very powerful: “Through this holy anointing, may the Lord in His Love and Mercy Help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.”
When this prayer is prayed, the priest anoints the forehead followed by the hands of the sick person. Jesus touches them, blesses them, and heals them!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1523, describes the sacrament this way: “If the sacrament of anointing of the sick is given to all who suffer from serious illness and infirmity, even more rightly is it given to those at the point of departing this life; so it is also called sacramentum exeuntium (the sacrament of those departing). The Anointing of the Sick completes our conformity to the death and Resurrection of Christ, just as Baptism began it.”
Each time this great sacrament is celebrated, the divine physician takes hold of our hand and heals us of our infirmities. May all the sick and dying feel the hand of Jesus as He heals all their wounds! Do not wait until the last minute to receive this sacrament. The divine physician is waiting!

Social Justice Or Claptrap?

January 17, 2022 Frontpage Comments Off on Social Justice Or Claptrap?

By DEACON MIKE MANNO

Maybe I’ve been laid-up a little too long from my stroke, but without the ability to read well I’ve been left with only two options to keep me busy: watching TV and thinking.
TV loses its appeal the third time you see the same rerun or the sixth time you are force fed your most unfavorite commercial. Since football is almost over, and watching the news raises my blood pressure higher than my doctors want it to be, I’ve reluctantly turned to thinking.
But thinking is not my first choice, since it hurts my head. I think it is because I have a four-cylinder brain while trying to do some eight-cylinder thinking.
So to stave off boredom, I decided to risk the effects of severe brain damage to try to delve into some of the major societal and philosophical questions of the day.
But grappling with these problems is harder than it looks and I still can’t solve the problem of plain vs. peanut, which has perplexed me for some time, even though I have to admit that I am partial to almonds.
But on the less significant questions of the day, I think I have made some progress. And on one I am prepared to announce my decision: I do not believe that “social justice” really exists.
Now, before you start calling me names and sending me nasty emails citing St. Matthew’s Gospel, Leo XIII, Pius XI, members of the current crop of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, or worse yet, Nancy Pelosi, give me an opportunity to explain.
Justice is a concept that I think most Christians and Americans understand. My dictionary defines it as “the principle or ideal of moral rightness; conformity to moral rightness in conduct or attitude.” While there may be slight differences in how we define the term, I think they all mean the same thing: giving to each person his due and living accordingly.
Understand, please, that this is not to be confused with charity, which my book defines as “an act or feeling of benevolence, good will, or affection; forbearance in judging others,” or more simply providing for the needs of others, especially the less fortunate in both bodily and spiritual means.
While the two terms are separate concepts, both are valuable concepts for society and for Christianity.
But they are separate concepts and they should in no way be confused or treated as synonyms. Of course both can be used to manipulate others, such as the phony charities that pop up every holiday season that are only rackets disguised as humanitarian enterprises. Just as claims of charity can be used for nefarious ends, so can justice; but true charity and justice are, in and of themselves, pure and true.
Hearing no objections (or booing) at this point, I’ll move onto my thesis: There is no such thing as “social justice.” In fact, the term is an oxymoron, it is self-contradictory and thus is a perversion of the term “justice.”
You see there is only one justice; there is no special justice. There is only justice and its lack: non-justice, or injustice, anything else is a false justice.
The examples that usually crop up are in the area of civil rights where they often involve attempts to use so-called social justice programs as remedial action to correct racial or gender imbalances in workplaces and college admissions. That corrective action almost always creates winners and losers by favoring some individuals over others according to their race or gender — and that now includes racial and gender identity.
So do the losers, the folks who watched others jump the line in front of them, get any justice in this situation? Of course not. And while there was no justice for the loser, what justice could the winner claim, for his “rigged” victory was truly undeserved.
And yet the “social justice warriors” will claim that this affirmative action was necessary to even the playing field for the “disadvantaged.”
Are they right? Of course not. If they were looking for true justice in education, for example, they would level the playing fields by fixing the inferior schools that the poor and minority students overwhelmingly populate, and provide remedial assistance to those found left behind. But certainly not by denying another the opportunity that was rightfully earned.
If they want true equal opportunity in employment, rather than juggling the numbers to an artificially arrived outcome, why not make a recruiting trip to Grambling, Alcorn State, or any number of other traditionally black and minority colleges, or to one of those high schools populated by the “disadvantaged” that liberals are always complaining about where there are eager minority students looking to land that first job on their own and not by a weighted system.
The point I am trying to make is this: Those who espouse “social justice” should think hard about what that means in the particular circumstance in which they are involved. Advocating for a certain quota system by marginalizing some students, for example, does nothing to solve the problem of inferior inner city schools, and it surely does nothing for the student himself marginalized by the artificial manipulation of the system.
The bottom line my feeble brain is suggesting is that the term “social justice” is too often used as a quick fix remedy, or charitable endeavor, rather than an attempt to permanently fix the problem at hand.
Once I represented a young lady who had bought a house only to find that the previous owner had paneled over and painted its basement walls to cover up water damage that posed a significant threat to the house’s foundation.
Social justice, it seems to me, is a lot like what was done to that house: the problem, hidden from sight, only appeared fixed. But, of course, it wasn’t. The water damage was still there festering out of sight.
Think about that the next time you hear someone put an adjective before the word justice. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because they are blind to the true problem or just don’t have the will to tackle it.
And finally, don’t ever confuse it with charity. It is not that, either.
(You can reach Mike at: DeaconMike@q.com and listen to him every Thursday morning at 9:30 on Faith On Trial on IowaCatholicRadio.com.)

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