God: “No, Israel, you don’t want a human king. Let Me be your king.”

Israel: “No.”

God: “Okay then, try it out with Saul as king . . . See, that didn’t work. <Sigh> I guess I’ll have to set up a divinely sanctioned monarchy so this man-as-king thing will work on some level. Samuel, get thee to Bethlehem.”

Adam and Christ:
God: “No, Adam, you don’t want to be God. Let Me be your God.”

Adam: “No.”

God: “Okay then, try it out with you as God . . . See, that didn’t work. <Sigh> I guess I’ll have to send My Son so this whole man-as-God thing will work out. Magi, get thee to Bethlehem.”

Please Don’t Write This Way

I enjoy reading the blog Just Thomism, though I think the author deserves criticism on some points. One is that he doesn’t allow responses to his posts, which means that he puts ideas out there without much fear of getting chewed out for them. And sometimes I think he deserves a chewing out.

I’ll give an example. In a recent post about Scriptural inerrancy (Material errors in Scripture), the author writes, “But assume Jacob was in fact Joseph’s biological father and Luke meant to speak of Joseph’s biological father, and failed. Now what?”

The problem is that there is no explanation for this assumption. Why are we assuming this? And from that assumption, the author reaches a conclusion:

“The question of why God uses material error falls under the same inquiry of how God uses any evil, making it a branch of theodicy.”

But the “question” arises from a mere assumption–the assumption that a material error occurred in the first place. And the problem is even more basic than that. How was this assumption admitted in the first place? Because the author’s starting thesis is this:

Thesis: Scriptural inerrancy demands the total absence of formal error.

The author nowhere states why his thesis is limited to formal error. Why does he introduce this limitation? Are there Church teachings to this effect?

I think the actual thought process went like this:

1.) We want to affirm that Scripture is inerrant.

2.) There sure do seem to be a bunch of factual errors in Scripture.

3.) I don’t find attempts to explain them away satisfying.

4.) How can I save Scriptural inerrancy? That’s the question.

5.) Let’s try limiting Scriptural inerrancy to formal errors, which will allow material errors. Everything I think the Bible gets right is formal and/or material, everything I think it gets wrong is merely material.

Hence, the thesis, which allows the assumption to proceed to its conclusion. If that’s the thought process, then just say that. Also, please define what “formal” and “material” even mean in this context. Thank you.

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

Happy feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of Mexico, Empress and Patroness of the Americas! Fun fact: the treaty that ended the Mexican-American War in 1848 is known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo because it was signed at the high altar of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, located in Villa Hidalgo (now part of Mexico City). The treaty was signed on February 2, 1848, the feast of the Purification of Our Lady (celebrated in the Novus Ordo as the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple). I assume that the tilma (miraculous image) of Our Lady was enthroned above the high altar at the time. Thus the Hispanic Southwest (California, Nevada, Utah, Texas, most of Arizona and New Mexico, half of Colorado, and parts of Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma) passed into the hands of the Americans under Our Lady’s watchful eyes.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for Mexico and the United States!


If someone somewhere writes a blog post in which someone somewhere observes that some traditionalists somewhere have behaved like jerks, here are some responses that betray a lack of self-awareness:

1.) No trads anywhere have ever been obnoxious, you Modernist tool!

2.) Yeah, some trads are obnoxious, but can you really blame them (us, me)? Aren’t we all just victims acting out our victimhood? Blame the (insert typical villain).

3.) Why are we jumping on trads? Aren’t the truly obnoxious people *other* people? Shouldn’t only *other* people receive all criticism?

4.) The Mass of All Times and Ages is the surety that we never betray the deposit of Faith, that we defend life, that we uphold the Church, that we detest heresy. I weep bitter tears that anyone anywhere could ever be such a despicable heretic as to descend into heretical depravity (insert approximately 230 more multisyllabic words saying the same thing with sustained histrionics).

Having recently read a rather poor response to a modest criticism of some traditionalists somewhere, with a combox full of responses 1-4, I have cleaned up my list of recommended links.


Epiphany as Pre-Pentecost

Regardless of the date stamp above, it’s still Epiphany (Jan. 6) as I type this. The purpose of this post is to draw some parallels between Epiphany and Pentecost. Why? Three reasons:

a.) Hopefully to render the Church calendar a bit more intelligible. If you don’t know what the calendar is about, it’s easy to think we’re arbitrarily and superstitiously celebrating one random event after another. This way lies Protestantism and/or rationalism.

b.) Hopefully to provide some food for prayerful meditation.

c.) Perhaps goad you to share the good news of the Gospel with others. The Gospel that was first made known at Pentecost is a reiteration and reinterpretation (in light of Our Lord’s Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension) of those manifestations of Our Lord celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany.

I’m not being original when I say that Epiphany is a sort of pre-Pentecost. Here are a few ways in which Epiphany anticipates Pentecost:

1.) They both close the preceding liturgical season. Pentecost closes Eastertide, and Epiphany closes Christmastide. A period of wearing white vestments yields to a period of wearing green vestments.

Think of it this way: Epiphany is to Christmas as Pentecost is to Easter. Christmas and Easter are the two major feasts of the Church year, celebrating Christ’s Birth and His Resurrection, which is a sort of Rebirth in Glory and certainly effects our own rebirth. Both feasts require a sort of pendant feast to close out their respective “afterglow” seasons. These parallel feasts are Epiphany and Pentecost. Continue reading

Advent Poem, Courtesy of Patrick Kavanagh

This is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a penitential season, and I definitely need to do some penance this Advent. Here is the opening stanza of a penitential poem by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967; RIP):


We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child’s soul, we’ll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.

Continue reading

Why Women Can’t Be Ordained to the Diaconate

I recently listened to a radio show where the participants discussed, “What can a deacon do that the non-ordained cannot?” I don’t think they ever came up with an answer that was satisfying. It seems to me that none of the tasks that are routinely assigned to deacons actually require the sacramental order of Deacon. I propose that the unique power of the sacramental diaconate is that only a deacon can be ordained priest. Seeing as the diaconate is what bestows upon someone the capacity to be ordained a priest, and women can’t be ordained priests, women can’t be ordained as deacons. QED.

Note: I grant that there was an office of “deaconess” in the early Church. Like the offices of widow, nun, abbess, and hermitess, it wasn’t a sacramental order.

Sad News and Glad News for Driftless Area Catholics

First, sad news. His Excellency, the Most Rev. Thomas G. Doran, Bishop Emeritus of Rockford, recently passed away.* A former member of the Roman Rota and a friend of the Traditional Latin Mass, Doran was bishop of the diocese where I grew up, which includes the Illinois section of the Driftless Area. He confirmed me. Requiescat in pace.

As we approach the anniversary of Sept. 11, I recall Bishop Doran’s response after American forces killed Osama bin Laden. Some people criticized the spontaneous outbursts of joy this occasioned. They said it was unworthy behavior. Bishop Doran said that he didn’t object. Instead of condemning the folks who celebrated, he reminded us that bin Laden would now meet Our Lord as Judge. Bishop Doran deserves credit for this.

Now, glad news. His Excellency, the Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, has announced that he will offer his public Sunday Masses facing ad orientem.** I currently live in the Madison Diocese, which includes the southern part of the Wisconsin portion of the Driftless.

One of my former bishops returns to the Lord; my present bishop turns toward the Lord. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!



Matrimony of Desire and Lifestyle Ecumenism

“For they shall sow wind, and reap a whirlwind, there is no standing stalk in it, the bud shall yield no meal; and if it should yield, strangers shall eat it.” Osee (Hosea) 8:7

Once upon a time, a Feeneyite* writer — Charles Coulombe, I think — made some remark about Baptism of Desire. The remark went something like, “Have you ever heard of Matrimony of Desire? Doesn’t make sense, does it? Neither does Baptism of Desire.” In other words, neither implicit nor explicit desire for a sacrament realizes that sacrament.

Except that is what Pope Francis seems to think. The canon law requirements for sacramental matrimony don’t matter — that’s just legalism. The vast majority of marriages that would pass the canon law definition are actually null, while cohabitations are valid marriages. Why can’t we extend this type of rationalization to any type of relationship at all, heterosexual or not? It’s about grace, not hard and fast definitions, right?

I’ve seen this attitude called “lifestyle ecumenism.” It follows pretty logically from religious ecumenism, the type promoted by all Popes since St. John XXIII. Continue reading