Due to an ongoing health crisis in the family, blogging will be 'on and off' as time and circumstances permit for the foreseeable future. I also beg your indulgence if I am slow in responding to emails. New posts will appear below this notice.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Economics and the Gold Standard

I enthusiastically refer the reader to the posted proposals for the reform of our economy (and society) posted by Owen the Ochlophobist. I am on board with most of them and really only object to one, his proposal to return the currency to the Gold Standard.

I used to be a huge fan of gold as a store of value to back money. However, over time I have come to the unhappy conclusion that an inflexible currency is a bad idea. It was almost certainly a contributing factor to the severity of the depression in the early 30's when the Hoover Administration refused to take the country off the GS. As the economic crisis gathered steam most people sought something safe to put their money in and gold was an obvious choice. Since money was backed by gold what happened is that people began to sit on their money. Thats not something you want happening in a period of economic trouble.

After the Bank of England took the pound off the GS in 1931 a run on currency occurred in the United States where money was still backed by specie. President Hoover was confronted with a major choice. He either had to take the country off the GS or sharply curtail the supply of money to prevent the out flow of specie. The alternative was to watch our nations gold reserves disappear, and with it our limited supply of money which was being hoarded. Unfortunately he chose to exert pressure on the Federal Reserve to tighten the amount of money in circulation. Interest rates were raised drastically and credit all but disappeared. The result was that what in the summer of 1931 was a serious economic crisis had by the summer of 1932 become a full blown catastrophe of epic proportions.

More than a few people today continue to feel that reviving the GS is a good idea. At least one candidate for president (Ron Paul) is a strong supporter of it. And as I said I was once an enthusiastic believer. But almost no serious economists believe it's a good idea anymore. A short and fairly readable (you won't need a PHD in economics) essay against the Gold Standard can be found here.

I am back... sort of

After an unexpectedly long delay I have rejoined the 21st century. That said I have to confess that I rather enjoyed my enforced time away from the internet. I had no idea how much time was consumed by blogging and it was a joy to be able to find the freedom to catch up on some reading or get out and enjoy a walk in the fresh (albeit very hot) air. I hope to catch up on things over the next few days but it's now August and I also find myself coveting a little time away from the keyboard for the traditional summer pastimes. Thus posts will be sporadic as things come up. Also Fr. David is taking a much deserved break with his family, so he will not be posting for at least the rest of the week.

Memory Eternal: Patriarch Teoctist

Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church has reposed in the Lord. May his memory be eternal!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Still waiting... sigh

Just a quick note to apologize for a much slower process of getting connected than I had expected. I am stuck using the library's public access computers which limit the user to one hour. I am giving priority to email right now. If you sent me anything important please send it again with the word "urgent" in the subject line. Hopefully in the next few days things will be back up.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hiatus

Friday is moving day. I do not know how long internet service will be down at this time. It could be back up in a day or it could take several days. However, barring anything really unexpected I should be back on not later than the first part of next week. But even in the best case scenario there is not likely to be any posts for a couple of days. Email will be responded to as soon as I get settled in. Wishing you all an enjoyable weekend...

ICXC
John

Russell Timoshenko: Memory Eternal


New York City Police Officer Russell Timoshenko was buried today with the full rights of the Russian Orthodox Church. He died on the 15th of July five days after he was shot during a "routine" traffic stop. His partner was also shot but his injuries were happily not severe. The New York Times has a story which can be read here. They also interestingly have a link in their online story to a website that has the text for the Orthodox Funeral Service. Timoshenko was 23 and had only been on the force for about a year. May his memory be eternal!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Still Proudly Obnoxious

It's been a good year for a lot of baseball fans, which for more than a few of us means the Yankees are having an awful year. However it seems that the loyal fans of the Bronx Bombers have not taken to their recent diet of humble pie. They remain unbowed and as throughly obnoxious and rude as ever. How rude? It used to be rumored that New York City cabbies were all required to be Yankee fans. (I personally believe it.) Anyway the Washington Post has this slightly humorous article for those of us who miss the perpetual baseball wars in the Big Apple or who are just happy to dish out a little well deserved crow.
FLUSHING MEADOW, N.Y. -- It takes a special kind of mook to turn up at Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets, wearing a Yankees cap when the Yankees aren't playing there. Michael Bredamus is that kind of mook.

After a recent Mets game, Bredamus could be found ambling out of Shea beneath his prize possession: a hat with the two-letter insignia of the Yanks. His team was in Baltimore, and the Mets were playing the St. Louis Cardinals. Bredamus showed up anyway, and stopped for a moment to give a brief master class in the art of annoying Mets fans.

"As long as you keep your mouth shut, you're fine," he said. But he couldn't help himself, or maybe he was being ironic. Surrounded by Mets fans, his voice started rising. "As long as you don't mention anything about how the Yankees are great, how they won the 26 championships. Twenty-six championships. As long as you don't talk about that, it's not a problem."


"They won't be playing in September," during the postseason, taunted a Mets booster.


"Two championships!" Bredamus fired back. "That's what the Mets have. Two!" This is a wretched year to be a Yankees fan. The team with the fattest payroll in baseball is nine games out of first place and widely considered a long shot for even a wild-card berth in the playoffs. On the field and off, everyone has a diagnosis -- the team is old, the pitching stinks, the players don't care. There is consensus only about the misery.

If it were any other squad, the rest of baseball would simply snicker. But this is the Yankees, whose historical success and strutting have made them arguably the most reviled team in American sports, and these are Yankees fans, undoubtedly the most loathed in the country. A snicker won't do. This calls for belly laughs. This calls for tankards and fiddles and torch-lit dancing. This calls for bunting and floats. We must savor this experience. We must pile on now, while the piling is good, because if history is any guide, the Yankees will rise again -- and when they do, their fans will be insufferable.
Living dangerously: Yankees fan Michael Bredamus wears his team regalia at Shea Stadium.

Read the rest here

+Benedict XVI Uses Extraordinary (Tridentine) Rite

CWN reports that since his election Pope +Benedict XVI has routinely used the older Missal of +John XXIII, often mistakenly referred to as Tridentine, when celebrating his private Masses. Although the Pope uses the Missal of +Paul VI (Novus Ordo) in public celebrations CWN says the Pope prefers the older Missal for his private liturgies. This is quite interesting...

The New Exodus

And the roll call of the martyrs continues to grow. Islam has replaced Communism as the newest creation of martyrs. And yet we continue to welcome almost unrestricted Islamic immigration into the Christian West. When will we wake up? From the July 23rd issue of Newsweek:

He refused to leave Baghdad, even after the day last year when masked Sunni gunmen forced him and eight co-workers to line up against a wall and said, "Say your prayers." An Assyrian Christian, Rayid Albert closed his eyes and prayed to Jesus as the killers opened fire. He alone survived, shot seven times. But a month ago a note was left at his front door, warning, "You have three choices: change your religion, leave or pay the jeziya"—a tax on Christians levied by ancient Islamic rulers. It was signed "The Islamic Emirate of Iraq," a Qaeda pseudonym. That was the day Albert decided to get out immediately. He and the other 10 members of his household are now living as refugees in Kurdistan.

Across the lands of the Bible, Christians like Albert and his family are abandoning their homes. According to the World Council of Churches, the region's Christian population has plunged from 12 million to 2 million in the past 10 years. Lebanon, until recently a majority Christian country—the only one in the Mideast—has become two-thirds Muslim. The Greek Orthodox archbishop in Jerusalem, where only 12,000 Christians remain, is pleading with his followers not to leave. "We have to persevere," says Theodosios Atallah Hanna. "How can the land of Jesus Christ stay without Christians?" The proportion of Christians in Bethlehem, once 85 percent, is now 20 percent. Egypt's Coptic Christians, who trace the roots of their faith back to Saint Mark's preaching in the first century, used to account for 10 percent of their country's population. Now they've dwindled to an estimated 6 percent. "The flight of Christians out of these areas is similar to the hunt for Jews," says Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-Italian author and expert on Islam, himself a Muslim. "There is no better example of what will happen if this human tragedy in the Arab-Muslim world is allowed to continue."

This is very grim reading. Read the rest here

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Feast of Grand Prince Vladimir

Today is the feast of one of the more important saints in the Orthodox Church, Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of the Slavs. The below is from the web site of the OCA.
The Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal of the Apostles. Few names in the annals of history can compare in significance with the name of St Vladimir, the Baptizer of Rus, who stands at the beginning of the spiritual destiny of the Russian Church and the Russian Orthodox people. Vladimir was the grandson of St Olga, and he was the son of Svyatoslav (+ 972). His mother, Malusha (+ 1001) was the daughter of Malk Liubechanin, whom historians identify with Mal, prince of the Drevlyani. Having subdued an uprising of the Drevlyani and conquered their cities, Princess Olga gave orders to execute Prince Mal for his attempt to marry her after he murdered her husband Igor, and she took to herself Mal's children, Dobrynya and Malusha. Dobrynya grew up to be a valiant brave warrior, endowed with a mind for state affairs, and he was later on an excellent help to his nephew Vladimir in matters of military and state administration.

The "capable girl" Malusha became a Christian (together with Great Princess Olga at Constantinople), but she preserved in herself a bit of the mysterious darkness of the pagan Drevlyani forests. Thus she fell in love with the austere warrior Svyatoslav, who against the will of his mother Olga made her his wife. The enraged Olga, regarding as unseemly the marriage of her "housekeeper" and captive servant to her son Svyatoslav, heir to the Great Kiev principality, sent Malusha away to her own native region not far from Vybut. And there in about the year 960 was born the boy with the Russian pagan name Volodimir, meaning peaceful ruler, ruling with a special talent for peace.

In the year 970 Svyatoslav set out on a campaign from which he was fated not to return. He had divided the Russian Land among his three sons. At Kiev Yaropolk was prince; at Ovrucha, the center of the Drevlyani lands, was Oleg; at Novgorod was Vladimir. In his first years as prince, we see Vladimir as a fierce pagan. He headed a campaign, in which the whole of pagan Rus is sympathetic to him, against Yaropolk the Christian, or in any case, according to the chronicles, "having given great freedom to the Christians", on July 11, 978 he entered into Kiev, having become the "sole ruler" of the Kiev realm, "having subdued the surrounding lands, some by peaceful means, and the unsubmissive ones by the sword."
Read the rest here.

Busy Week Ahead

Just a quick note to let you all know that this forthcoming week is going to be a pretty busy one. In addition to juggling work and other important things, I am also in the process of relocating. This will hopefully be completed by the end of the week. However I am not certain how long it will take to get internet service up and running at the new place. Posting is likely to be a bit thin at least for this week and possibly a bit longer. Also please forgive me if responses to emails are slower than normal.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson Memory Eternal

For the record

There is a follow up to the story of the Rev. Ann Redding, the Episcopal priestess who has announced that she is both a Muslim and a Christian. I had moved on but since I posted some very sharp criticism of a "church" that would permit a cleric to stand at the alter who professes to be a Muslim, I felt that fairness demands I take note here of the fact that apparently sanity has not completely departed from TEC.

The bishop to whom Rev. Redding is officially subject (that of Rhode Island) called her in for a serious chat. The bishop (a female, again for the record), explained that there were major theological obstacles to being both Christian and Muslim. She then placed the Rev. Redding on a one year leave of absence during which time she is presumably going to reflect on where she stands, and also presumably at the end of that year make a decision about her future in TEC as a cleric. During this one year she has been "inhibited" from her priestly office. That's the TEC equivalent to suspension from orders.

I must confess that this is absolutely the first time in memory that I can recall a liberal female TEC bishop stepping in to stop an obvious and egregious error by another liberal cleric. Others who keep closer track of TEC may be able to point to more examples, but this is a first for me. And so giving credit where it is due I will say that this seems by TEC standards to be a remarkably good move both in terms of pastoral care and church discipline. Obviously the matter would have been dealt with differently in the Orthodox Church. Not that I can imagine something like that happening here.

And so I will give a hearty 2 and a half cheers for Bishop Wolf...

Read the story here.

For Roman Nostalgics

I just discovered via the young fogey a wonderful blog that is chok full of rare images that are guaranteed to thrill the hearts of traditionalist Roman Catholics or anyone who misses the way things were over there.

See them here
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rome speaks on "other churches"

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) - ex Holy Office- has issued a document reaffirming the traditional Roman Catholic understanding of the nature of non-Roman religious confessions. Protestants are said to not be true "churches" because they have abandoned apostolic succession and departed from the apostolic faith. The Orthodox although recognized as "sister" churches with some nice things said about us are nonetheless deemed defective for want of our understanding of primacy and communion with the Roman See. In short this rather brief document seems to restate much of what was said in Dominus Jesus, a similar document Pope Benedict XVI authored while head of the CDF.

It's not completely clear why +Benedict has chosen to restate these positions now. However I suspect it is in keeping with a developing theme of his Pontificate, namely assertion of the hermeneutic of continuity in relation to Vatican II. This has been a major point of his going back decades. The former Cardinal Ratzinger was a consistent and vocal critic of those espousing the hermeneutic of rupture, i.e. the concept that Vatican II was the end of one church and the beginning of another. This was also reinforced by his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum issued this last Saturday (see most of the immediately preceding posts).

How is this likely to be received? I suspect that internally most Roman Catholics will not care greatly. However liberal Catholics will groan at yet another blow to their agenda, while conservative Catholics will feel that the man whose election to the Chair of Peter they cheered a couple of years ago seems finally to be emerging. Many Protestants will huff in indignation. And most Orthodox will say that this is not helpful in the cause of restoration of communion (and they are of course right). But since most Orthodox take the idea of restoration of communion with more than a grain of salt (more like the whole shaker), I think expressions of indignation will be a bit contrived.

I for one am not even remotely offended. This is the traditional understanding that Rome has always had and it’s on balance a good thing for them to reassert some level of orthodoxy (small ‘o’) in the face of the liberal wing in their church. Also it’s not terribly far removed from Orthodoxy’s understanding of the Church. We would generally agree with most of what the document says about Protestants although we might employ a different rational for reaching the same conclusions. Most Orthodox would say that Protestants lack the grace of the Holy Mysteries by virtue of being heretics, as opposed to simply having abandoned the mechanics of apostolic succession. Here we differ from Rome. Orthodoxy generally does not recognize that true sacramental grace exists outside of the Church, which of course we would argue subsists (what a wonderful term) in Orthodoxy. Whether or not a certain sect was careful to maintain the form and intent of Apostolic Succession is not terribly germane to us. In short, the so called “Dutch Touch” does not impress on this side of the Bosporus.

Broadly speaking this is a document which restores clarity where it was lacking, and helps to explain where Rome is coming from when they talk to other religious confessions. And that’s a good thing. True, it will not be helpful in the discussions with us (Orthodox) on important theological questions. But I think honesty is more important. And I think it may facilitate an agreement to disagree between the two sides on those issues where agreement is impossible or at least out of reach for the foreseeable future. This in turn could open the door to a very fruitful and productive level of collaboration on other matters where such is possible and in my opinion even desirable. Possible fields of joint venture or coordinated effort might include charity and combating the rising tide of secular humanism now rampant in Europe and much of North America. Both have already been proposed (several times) by the Moscow Patriarchate. Cooperation on this level over a long period of time might ultimately produce more positive results than more charity or a unified voice against post modernism. In time it might produce good will and trust, which in my opinion is a key ingredient to any substantive agreements on other more controversial subjects.

For now this Orthodox Christian will give a hearty two cheers for +Benedict XVI and his program for putting the Roman house back in order.

Why they are leaving

A member of St. Andrews Anglican Church in Vestal (near Binghamton) New York has written a thoughtful piece in defense of their secession from the Episcopal Church. He writes in part...
As a member of St. Andrew's Anglican Church, I was disappointed that the June 22 article "Vestal church to sever ties to Episcopal organization" on our separation from the Episcopal Church (TEC) emphasized homosexuality as the issue. The acceptance and blessing of homosexual behavior by TEC is only a symptom of the theological problems that we, and most Anglicans in the world, have with it.

Radical changes over the last 40 years or so have made it acceptable in TEC to deny the Trinity, the Resurrection, the divinity of Jesus, and many other basics of Christianity. Even some priests and bishops deny these basic tenets of the faith, and are not corrected or disciplined in any way. We know that no church on Earth can be perfect, but we cannot belong to a church that openly and blatantly contradicts the faith that we believe. Homosexuals are welcome at St. Andrew's. We do not reject them. We will accept and embrace them as we would anyone else. Their sins, whatever they are, are no worse than ours. Just don't ask us to bless any sins, either ours or theirs.

Read the rest here

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Orthodox Reaction to the Motu Proprio

Generally reaction to the MP on our side of the fence has thus far been rather muted. This is not terribly surprising since it mainly concerns another religious confession and one that Orthodoxy seems to have some conflicted feelings about. That said I hope to keep this as a running thread with updates over the course of the next few days as I find comments from Orthodox bloggers or persons of interest. We can start the ball rolling with an essay by Owen the Ochlophobist. Normally I would post some snippets to wet the appetitive but Owen's style of writing is not conducive to that. SO I will just encourage the reader to take a look at SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM: ochlophobic thoughts.

On a side note I hope to post a few thoughts of my own on this over the next day or two. However, for those interested in an earlier essay on my take vis a vis the Mass controversy I would refer you to The Tridentine Mass: Why do the Orthodox care?

More reaction to the Motu Proprio

Rumors suggest that some prelates were less than enthusiastic...

A parish priest had this to say in an announcement at Sunday Mass...
Many people over the years have been led to believe that Vatican II "got rid of all that." In previous homilies I have already explained that this was not the case, and our holy father makes this clear as well in this new document. Pope Benedict is convinced, as are many other theologians and scholars, and as I am myself, that the intentions of the Council fathers of Vatican II were not fully realized in the "new" Mass that we celebrate today, and that it is necessary to recover the fullness of our Catholic Tradition in order to live the fullness of our Catholic Faith.

I'm not going to go into the document in any detail here and now, as I've only read through the English translation a couple of times, and I'm still digesting the Latin original. I want to be sure I understand the document before I try to explain what it means. But it is already clear to me that the holy father's intent is to enrich and deepen the faith and life of the Church. In our first reading today we heard the prophet Isaiah tell the Israelites about the "prosperity" he would lavish upon Jerusalem. Well, the Church is the New Jerusalem and she lavishes her riches upon us in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church. Pope Benedict is giving us an opportunity to draw even more deeply and widely from these riches, so that our souls may be more truly fed.
Read the rest here.


Updated 07-08-07 at 2316 PST:

Mike Liccione has posted his take on the MP. He might take issue with my perception of his response, but it read like a well expressed yaaawwwnnn. Snip...
Before issuing any pontifications on my own account, I note that I take the Pope's "explanatory letter" at face value. He is clearly saying just what he believes; there's no reason to suspect any hidden agenda; and he's clearly consulted widely about this. His motives are pure, his intentions good. And I like having the older rite around, even though I vastly prefer a well-done Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, and once sung regularly in a polyphonic choir for such a liturgy. The Tridentine Rite has helped to keep appreciation for Tradition alive amid the massive loss of culture, and in some cases even of memory, that Catholicism saw in the generation following Vatican II. Even so, I don't think Benedict's new move will or can usher in anything more than a transitional phase.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Reaction to SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM

Reaction all over the world and the internet is starting to pore in. I will be updating this post periodically over the next day or two as I find interesting reactions from various sources. We can start with a PDF doc posted by the USCCB which provides their translation of the text of the relevant documents and also thirty questions and answers most of which I found to be fair and reasonable. The one glaring exception was the comparison of the attributes of the extraordinary rite with those of the of the ordinary rite. There one finds a clear and lamentable bias against the older form of the liturgy.

Read the USCCB post on the Motu Proprio.

I would also refer the reader to extensive discussion of the MP hosted by the following bloggers.

Rorate Caeli
Father Z

The New Liturgical Movement


Some suggestions for celebratory activities from Fr. Erik Richsteig...
Let their be much rejoicing as the classical Roman Rite is freed! I had several thing planned, even before Carolina Kat suggested one in her comment on the previous blog. Perhaps a felt banner burn and barbecue. Perhaps skeet shooting with Glory and Praise pamphlets. Perhaps a rock throw using porcelain and glass vessels as targets. Best of all, driving slow around the local 'progressive' parishes blasting Palestrina and Plain Chant on the stereo with the windows rolled down.
Read the rest here.

From the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX)

By the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI has reinstated the Tridentine Mass in its rights, and clearly affirmed that the Roman Missal promulgated by Saint Pius V had never been abrogated. The Priestly Society of Saint Pius X rejoices to see the Church thus regain her liturgical Tradition, and give the possibility of a free access to the treasure of the Traditional Mass for the glory of God, the good of the Church and the salvation of souls, to the priests and faithful who had so far been deprived of it. The Priestly Society of Saint Pius X extends its deep gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff for this great spiritual benefit.

The letter which accompanies the Motu Proprio does not hide however the difficulties that still remain. The Society of Saint Pius X wishes that the favorable climate established by the new dispositions of the Holy See will make it possible – after the decree of excommunication which still affects its bishops has been withdrawn – to consider more serenely the disputed doctrinal issues.

Lex orandi, lex credendi, the law of the liturgy is that of the faith. In the fidelity to the spirit of our founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the attachment of the Society of Saint Pius X to the traditional liturgy is inseparably united to the faith which has been professed "always, everywhere and by all."

Menzingen, July 7, 2007

Bishop Bernard Fellay


The highly respected Vaticanisti Sandro Magister over at Chiesa has some insightful comments...
This is how the Mass was celebrated before, during, and after Vatican Council II, until 1970. If the passage to the new rite has created divisions and ruptures among the faithful, the fault is partly that of the Church: a fault which the pope now means to remedy
Read the rest here.

Catholic World News (CWN) has an interesting and rather detailed analysis of the MP along with some glimpses of possible future implications. A few short snips...

Summorum Pontificum states flatly that the old form of the Mass, the 1962 Missal, was never abrogated. Implicitly the Pope is recognizing that many faithful Catholics have suffered a grave injustice, since they were told that the old form of the liturgy was now forbidden...

...With his new norms Pope Benedict recognizes that many bishops have not allowed the "wide and generous" access to the old form that his predecessor had encouraged. Citing St. Paul's words to the Corinthians (2 Cor 6), the Pope now exhorts all bishops: "Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows."

But Pope Benedict goes beyond exhortation, and establishes the rights of the faithful in terms of canon law. Every priest has the right to use the "extraordinary form," and needs no further permission. Wherever a "stable group" of parishioners asks for the old Mass, their pastor should "willingly accept" their request, the Pope adds...


...To be fair one must acknowledge that although many bishops have shown themselves unfriendly toward tradition-minded Catholics-- despite the pleas of John Paul II in Ecclesia Dei-- some traditionalists have been every bit as unfriendly in their attitude toward their bishops. Some traditionalists pounce on any opportunity to criticize the new liturgy, and a few-- a minority, certainly, but a very outspoken and divisive minority-- question whether the Novus Ordo liturgy is valid. The response to Summorum Pontificum in traditionalist circles will be another key test. If the motu proprio is warmly welcomed, that positive response might encourage bishops toward a generous implementation; if traditionalists fall into a pattern of carping criticism, bishops will feel that their hostility is justified.
Read the rest here.

This from an anonymous though grateful wit over at YouTube...

TE DEUM LAUDAMUS

Text of the Motu Proprio SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM

"Up to our own times, it has been the constant concern of supreme pontiffs to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty, 'to the praise and glory of His name,' and 'to the benefit of all His Holy Church.'

"Since time immemorial it has been necessary - as it is also for the future - to maintain the principle according to which 'each particular Church must concur with the universal Church, not only as regards the doctrine of the faith and the sacramental signs, but also as regards the usages universally accepted by uninterrupted apostolic tradition, which must be observed not only to avoid errors but also to transmit the integrity of the faith, because the Church's law of prayer corresponds to her law of faith.' (1)

"Among the pontiffs who showed that requisite concern, particularly outstanding is the name of St. Gregory the Great, who made every effort to ensure that the new peoples of Europe received both the Catholic faith and the treasures of worship and culture that had been accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries. He commanded that the form of the sacred liturgy as celebrated in Rome (concerning both the Sacrifice of Mass and the Divine Office) be conserved. He took great concern to ensure the dissemination of monks and nuns who, following the Rule of St. Benedict, together with the announcement of the Gospel illustrated with their lives the wise provision of their Rule that 'nothing should be placed before the work of God.' In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman use, enriched not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. It is known, in fact, that the Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to the spiritual life of many saints, has reinforced many peoples in the virtue of religion and fecundated their piety.

"Many other Roman pontiffs, in the course of the centuries, showed particular solicitude in ensuring that the sacred liturgy accomplished this task more effectively. Outstanding among them is St. Pius V who, sustained by great pastoral zeal and following the exhortations of the Council of Trent, renewed the entire liturgy of the Church, oversaw the publication of liturgical books amended and 'renewed in accordance with the norms of the Fathers,' and provided them for the use of the Latin Church.

"One of the liturgical books of the Roman rite is the Roman Missal, which developed in the city of Rome and, with the passing of the centuries, little by little took forms very similar to that it has had in recent times.

"'It was towards this same goal that succeeding Roman Pontiffs directed their energies during the subsequent centuries in order to ensure that the rites and liturgical books were brought up to date and when necessary clarified. From the beginning of this century they undertook a more general reform.' (2) Thus our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St. Pius X (3), Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII all played a part.

"In more recent times, Vatican Council II expressed a desire that the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of our time. Moved by this desire our predecessor, the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, approved, in 1970, reformed and partly renewed liturgical books for the Latin Church. These, translated into the various languages of the world, were willingly accepted by bishops, priests and faithful. John Paul II amended the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. Thus Roman pontiffs have operated to ensure that 'this kind of liturgical edifice ... should again appear resplendent for its dignity and harmony.' (4)

"But in some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms. These had so deeply marked their culture and their spirit that in 1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a concern for the pastoral care of these faithful, with the special indult 'Quattuor abhinc anno," issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted permission to use the Roman Missal published by Blessed John XXIII in the year 1962. Later, in the year 1988, John Paul II with the Apostolic Letter given as Motu Proprio, 'Ecclesia Dei,' exhorted bishops to make generous use of this power in favor of all the faithful who so desired.

"Following the insistent prayers of these faithful, long deliberated upon by our predecessor John Paul II, and after having listened to the views of the Cardinal Fathers of the Consistory of 22 March 2006, having reflected deeply upon all aspects of the question, invoked the Holy Spirit and trusting in the help of God, with these Apostolic Letters we establish the following:

"Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.

"It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church. The conditions for the use of this Missal as laid down by earlier documents 'Quattuor abhinc annis' and 'Ecclesia Dei,' are substituted as follows:

"Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.

"Art. 3. Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or "community" celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues.

"Art. 4. Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may - observing all the norms of law - also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted.

"Art. 5. õ 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church. õ 2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held. õ 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages. õ 4 Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded. õ 5 In churches that are not parish or conventual churches, it is the duty of the Rector of the church to grant the above permission.

Art. 6. In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognised by the Apostolic See.

"Art. 7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 õ 1, has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

"Art. 8. A bishop who, desirous of satisfying such requests, but who for various reasons is unable to do so, may refer the problem to the Commission "Ecclesia Dei" to obtain counsel and assistance.

"Art. 9. õ 1 The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it. õ 2 Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical, if the good of souls would seem to require it. õ 2 Clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962.

"Art. 10. The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with can. 518 for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law.

"Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", erected by John Paul II in 1988 (5), continues to exercise its function. Said Commission will have the form, duties and norms that the Roman Pontiff wishes to assign it.

"Art. 12. This Commission, apart from the powers it enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance and application of these dispositions.

"We order that everything We have established with these Apostolic Letters issued as Motu Proprio be considered as "established and decreed", and to be observed from 14 September of this year, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, whatever there may be to the contrary.

Given at Rome, at St Peter’s, on 7 July in the Year of Our Lord 2007, the Third of Our Pontificate.

BENEDICT XVI


(1) General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed., 2002, no. 397.

(2) John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," 4 December 1988, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

(3) Ibid.

(4) St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Motu propio data, "Abhinc duos annos," 23 October 1913: AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," no. 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

(5) Cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Motu proprio data "Ecclesia Dei," 2 July 1988, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.



The letter to the bishops:

LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS
BENEDICT XVI

TO THE BISHOPS ON THE OCCASION OF THE PUBLICATION
OF THE APOSTOLIC LETTER "MOTU PROPRIO DATA"
SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM
ON THE USE OF THE ROMAN LITURGY
PRIOR TO THE REFORM OF 1970

My dear Brother Bishops,

With great trust and hope, I am consigning to you as Pastors the text of a new Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio data” on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. The document is the fruit of much reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.

News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown.

This document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter.

In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions – the liturgical reform – is being called into question.

This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal. Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level. Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood. This was especially the case in countries where the liturgical movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier Form of the liturgical celebration. We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

Pope John Paul II thus felt obliged to provide, in his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (2 July 1988), guidelines for the use of the 1962 Missal; that document, however, did not contain detailed prescriptions but appealed in a general way to the generous response of Bishops towards the “legitimate aspirations” of those members of the faithful who requested this usage of the Roman Rite. At the time, the Pope primarily wanted to assist the Society of Saint Pius X to recover full unity with the Successor of Peter, and sought to heal a wound experienced ever more painfully. Unfortunately this reconciliation has not yet come about. Nonetheless, a number of communities have gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the Motu Proprio. On the other hand, difficulties remain concerning the use of the 1962 Missal outside of these groups, because of the lack of precise juridical norms, particularly because Bishops, in such cases, frequently feared that the authority of the Council would be called into question. Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer juridical regulation which had not been foreseen at the time of the 1988 Motu Proprio. The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations.

In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often. Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.

It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an incentive and guide for improving these. For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.

I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

In conclusion, dear Brothers, I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22: “Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet quae quidem est apud Apostolicam Sedem et, ad normam iuris, apud Episcopum”).

Nothing is taken away, then, from the authority of the Bishop, whose role remains that of being watchful that all is done in peace and serenity. Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of the Motu Proprio.

Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.

Dear Brothers, with gratitude and trust, I entrust to your hearts as Pastors these pages and the norms of the Motu Proprio. Let us always be mindful of the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of Ephesus: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Acts 20:28).

I entrust these norms to the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, dear Brothers, to the parish priests of your dioceses, and to all the priests, your co-workers, as well as to all your faithful.

Given at Saint Peter’s, 7 July 2007

Bendict XVI



Read SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM in the original Latin.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Rate your favorite (or least) president...

I stumbled on this (morbidly) amusing website earlier today and thought I would give it a little bump. If you ever wondered whatever happened to Franklin Pierce (who?) after he left office this is where you can find out. It's also where you can express your opinion on various presidents who now belong exclusively to history. I am sure you will all join me in trying to bring up the rating of Chester Arthur. Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Birthday

No… I am not talking about that 231 yr old republic. I am referring to the only President of the United States born on the 4th of July; a man often graded poorly among Presidents when ranked by historians. He also happens to be my favorite president.

John Calvin Coolidge (he would drop the John early in life) was born on July 4th 1872 in Plymouth Vermont. Although he would go on to a memorable political career in neighboring Massachusetts, Vermont would always hold a special place in his heart. This dour and taciturn New England Yankee would become the most conservative president of the last century and perhaps the only true Jeffersonian to occupy the White House. He had a lifelong suspicion of government and believed that people were best left alone. At his core Coolidge believed the answer to most problems was hard work, thrift and minding your own business. He was also deeply old fashioned in many other respects.

Coolidge was the last president who wrote his own speeches (all of them) and the last who never learned how to drive a car. He refused to allow a telephone to be put in the oval office and generally refused to speak on one. He claimed they demeaned the dignity of the office and you could never tell who was listening. On which point I think he was ahead of his time. Coolidge was the butt of countless jokes and he laughed all the way to the political bank. He was an extremely reserved and reticent man though he had a very dry wit of his own. It was said that he rarely smiled in public. (Oddly his wife Grace Coolidge was the complete opposite of her husband, a beautiful and socially graceful woman who was the life of the party and a ray of light in the darkest room.) One wag said that seeing Calvin Coolidge smile was like watching the ice break up on a New England river. Alice Roosevelt, the daughter of the former president, once quipped that Coolidge looked as though he had been weaned on a pickle. Newspaper columnist Dorothy Parker when told of his death in 1933 exclaimed “How can you tell?”

Calvin Coolidge presided over a period of great national prosperity and cut taxes twice. He balanced the budget every year he was in office (1923-1929) and reduced the public debt. He wielded the veto frequently cutting government spending at every opportunity. He briefly ordered government employees to type on both sides of each piece of paper in order to reduce paper expenditures. He threatened to fire the White House Chef once for cooking a whole ham for a state dinner with over 200 guests. It was popularly said that when Coolidge held a nickel he could squeeze it so hard you could hear the buffalo roar.

Nor was it only in his public life that Coolidge was parsimonious. Once while taking a walk late in his term as President, Coolidge stopped in front of an ice cream parlor and stunned his companion Col. Edmund Starling (Coolidge’s long time secret service guard) by offering to buy him an ice cream float. Starling explained that when Coolidge pulled out his change purse it appeared to be one passed down from his grandfather and that dust flew from it when the President opened it and extracted the requisite nickel for the treat.

Mrs. Coolidge once related how not long after they had married, she had been smooth talked by a door to door salesman and had bought a large volume of supposed home medical advice for the sum of $10.00 (a not inconsiderable amount in those days). Later she came to regret the purchase and worried what her husband would think. So she stuck the book on the shelf and waited for any reaction. None however seemed to come and she soon forgot about it. Several years later while preparing to move she found the book and sat down with it. When she opened it she found in her husbands crisp handwriting a short note inscribed on the inside of the cover. “I find in this work no cure for a sucker.”

This respect for the value of the penny appears to have been instilled in the future president at an early age. Coolidge himself related the story of how when he was a young boy in the summer of 1880 he asked his father for a penny so that he could buy a candy stick. His father soberly explained that it was an election year and it appeared that the Democrats were going to win. This would mean hard times and he would therefore need to learn economy. However in November Coolidge went back to his father and “I pointed out that the election returns indicated we were to continue a Republican administration. With that view presented I was able to secure the advance of the sum requested.”

But it was his legendary reticence for which Coolidge is best remembered. His nickname was “Silent Cal.” One probably apocryphal story has Coolidge seated next to two women at a dinner when one leans toward him and says “Mr. President, I have made a wager that I can get you to say more than two words.” Coolidge is supposed to have replied “You loose.” It was reported that a state dinner for the Queen of Romania the only words that passed his lips were “Salt please.” Mrs. Coolidge once told the story of how her husband had been invited to hear a famous preacher who was visiting Washington. Later that day while reading the paper together in silence she asked him what he thought of the sermon. “Good” he responded. After a few minutes of silence she decided to press on for more details. What was the subject she asked? “Sin” replied the President of the United States. Somewhat exasperated his wife soldiered on… “What did he have to say about it?” Coolidge now clearly annoyed at the distraction from his newspaper looked up and replied “He’s against it.”

All of this aside the 30th President had a very human side. He was a devoted family man who doted on his wife and deeply loved his two sons. He tried very hard to instill in them the same values he had been raised with, respect for hard work and thrift. While serving as president his younger son Calvin Jr. worked as a field hand at a tobacco plantation in Virginia. When one of the boy’s friends noted that if his father was President of the United States he would not be cutting tobacco in a field, young Cal replied “if your father was my father you would.”

In the summer of 1924 tragedy struck. Calvin Jr. took a short break and while visiting the White House with some friends went out to play lawn tennis. While doing this the boy got a blister which became infected. In this day and age such an infection would be cured quickly with antibiotics. But this was not available in the 1920’s. For days the President sat at his son’s side while he lingered in great agony. It was a presidential election year and in an age when partisan politics were not nearly as nasty as they have become in recent times, the Democrats interrupted the proceedings of their convention twice daily to read medical bulletins on the boys condition and offer prayer. When Calvin Jr. finally died his father was crushed.

Coolidge later wrote that when his son died, the power and glory of the presidency died with him. Not long after the boy’s death Col Starling reported that a boy was seen standing outside the White House fence. When asked what he was doing by a Secret Service man, the boy said he had come to tell the president how sorry he was about his son’s death. The guard then brought the boy in and took him to the oval office where he was introduced to President Coolidge. Coolidge was deeply affected and according to the guard nearly lost his composure. After the meeting the President instructed the Secret Service that if any other children came to the White House and asked to see the President they were to be admitted. Those orders were scrupulously observed for the rest of Coolidge’s tenure in office.

Calvin Coolidge quoted:

“Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character.”

“It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.”

“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of face within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity.”

“Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil. Our great hope lies in developing what is good.”

“Men speak of natural rights, but I challenge any one to show where in nature any rights existed or were recognized until there was established for their declaration and protection a duly promulgated body of corresponding laws.”

“No man ever listened himself out of a job.”

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

“Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.”

“Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped.”

“The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.”

“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.”

“We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”

“We need more of the Office Desk and less of the Show Window in politics. Let men in office substitute the midnight oil for the limelight.”

“Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.”

“Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.”

“I have never been hurt by what I have not said.” – on the virtue of silence

“Any man who does not like dogs and want them about does not deserve to be in the White House.”

Libby's Free Pass


Yesterday George W. Bush commuted the prison sentence of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby without him having served a day in jail. He did it without consulting the Justice Department in violation of strict guidelines that he had loudly trumpeted on entering office in the wake of Bill Clinton's highly scandalous pardon of fugitive billionaire Marc Rich on his way out the door. I think a reduction in his sentence was justified. In fairness the prisons sentence was extreme and seemed to ignore a number of extenuating and mitigating circumstances. Thus I would have been ok if it was reduced to say one year. However, I would feel a little better about it if it came from someone who had not firmly established the reputation for being among the most unforgiving presidents in history.

Bush has issued fewer pardons (a little over 100) and commutations (only 3) than any president in modern history. Per capita he holds the record for the fewest. His administration has consistently demanded that US Attorneys seek maximum sentences in all criminal prosecutions irregardless of extenuating circumstances, and that Federal Judges stick to the sentencing guidelines which Republicans crafted with a lock em up and throw the key away mentality. Those sentencing guidelines were scrupulously adhered to in Mr. Libby's case. All of which causes me to ask, was this a case of helping out a buddy or was it a case of buying someone’s silence? Neither appeals to me. Based on his record I am not inclined to accept that this was just George’s humane nature shining through. How does one square this sudden act of mercy with Bush’s extreme reluctance to use the clemency powers of his office?

Archbishop Christodoulos Hospitalized

Archbishop +Christodoulos, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church (national) has been hospitalized and is reported to be seriously ill. His health has been poor for some time.