Friday, November 15, 2013

I was thinking and reading about Obamacare earlier today and I was suddenly struck by the parallels with the housing bubble:  a whole industry forced to make bad financial decisions for the alleged good of the less fortunate, without concern for how it would affect the less fortunate or the industry in the long run (economic LeChatelier's Principle, anyone?  You can't force a whole country to pretend nothing's different because changes are being made for a good cause).

The only defense I've heard against wiping the slate clean and starting over with deliberate care (other than "all those actuaries who had to scramble to accommodate recent changes will need to start all over, again")?  "Defunding the ACA would have a greater negative impact."

Maybe so, in the short run.  In the long run?  I can think of things a lot worse than both Obamacare functioning only as advertised and things being exactly as they were before.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's Halloween. Go ahead and have fun.

Halloween.  Short for All Hallow's Eve, or the vigil of All Saints Day.  Perhaps more transparently in Christmas Eve and the Easter vigil, celebrating a holiday the night before is certainly not some inherent mockery of the holiday.  If you lived in Detroit, you'd recognize that devil's night was the night was the night before.

Don't sweat any real or alleged pagan roots of the holiday.  Some trappings of Easter and Christmas are pagan too, and people know not to get upset because bunnies and evergreens are innocuous.

Heck, "Harvest festivals" are more pagan than Halloween; firstly because paganism isn't identical with satanism, it is--as Mark Shea puts it--mankind trying to reach the divine via imagination, which is informed by such larger-than-man phenomena as the changing of seasons; secondly because there's a world of difference between offering thanks or appeasement to Ceres and making a celebration out of "where, O Death, is thy sting?" But either way, pagans have harvests and contemplate their eternal destiny as much as Christians, and that doesn't make them satanic, it just makes them human.

We have nothing to fear from or on the holiday itself because death has been conquered.  All the macabre imagery is there to remind us that death (and yes, evil) are not to be feared.  The devil hates laughter and not being taken seriously; what better way to thwart his two-pronged attack of being either feared as some God-rivalling eater of souls or a human abstraction we don't need God's help to fight, than by acknowledging such a thing is real and then not giving it power over you?

To be fair, I'm not advocating glutting yourself on gorn, or saying the opportunity to dress up a something naughty is justification to do something particularly immodest (there was a comedian whose show I caught part of one time who had a routine that went something like "'What are you supposed to be dressed up as?' 'A witch.'  'Yeah, if she was a hooker.'" If you remember who it was, let me know in the comments); and I'm not saying it's a good idea to use ouija boards this one night of the year.  Like I've said, the devil is real.

He's real, but he only has the power you and God allow him to have.  Dressing up like a zombie is not opening yourself up to the demonic; that is a superstitious attitude, or at least a scrupulous one.  If you can't stomach it in one sense or another, I'm not saying you have to, but feel free to dress up as a saint, or a robot, or a Rubik's Cube (or a skeleton--everybody's got one).  It's not some imitation-is-the-highest-form-of-flattery thing; that completely misses the point:  it's a parody.  "It looks to me like something bad"--either a costume or the practice--"therefore the worst possible interpretation must be true" is the same argument I face from iconoclasts about veneration of the saints, and it's wrong when they make it, too.

Also, ah loves meh some canday.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

News penetrability of the pro-choice side of things

I was driving to the East Coast this week for business when I caught part (alas, not all; I would have loved to hear the whole thing) of a show where Abby Johnson, pro-life activist and former Planned Parenthood employee, was a guest on an upstate New York NPR radio station.

The show's host, whose name I didn't catch, reminded would-be callers to keep things respectful, and so the one call I heard was from a guy who was quite civil but seemed very concerned that Abby Johnson might be willing to relegate poorer women seeking abortions in an era after Roe v. Wade were overturned (since richer women could more easily travel to other abortion-friendly countries) to resorting to the much defamed back alley abortions.

Johnson pointed out that the statistics on back alley abortions before 1973 were grossly inflated, as had been admitted by the former abortionist (who also had had a change of heart) who inflated the statistics.  She then gave the example of a woman--her name was given, but I don't remember it and the Google results are sketchy, so if you know please post it in the comments--who went in for an abortion to a clinic, and afterwards continued to hemorrhage for four hours while the clinic didn't call for an ambulance, and the woman died from blood loss waiting at the clinic.  Following that up with the example of Kermit Gosnell, Johnson pointed out that illegal back-alley clinics don't get much worse than what he was doing.

The show's host then said that she thought she might have to go into the other room to help her sound engineer pick his jaw up off the floor.

It made me wonder:  why?  Did he not know this kind of thing went on?  Did he just not follow the abortion issue very closely, or did he only pay attention to information sources that believe that women dying of complications from abortion distracts from the "true and consistent compassion" message?

I pray it's the latter.  But either way, there's a lot of ignorance to be overcome.

Monday, September 30, 2013

More hot air

So Democrats are all cranky about Republicans trying to starve the federal budget in order to stop Obamacare before it gets entrenched in American society.  They’re talking like Republicans are hostage takers who shouldn’t be appeased, for fear of what they’ll demand next time.

I suppose, also, that the Republicans were asking for it.  When the bill was being discussed, the Democrats would say things like “you’ll have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it,” and would get responses like “I hope they’ll change the things I disagree with, but I’m voting for it anyway.”

It’s more than a little silly, since we’ve had budgetary crises resolved after the government shut down on more than one occasion in recent history with no collapse of civilization or explosion of galaxies, but I am concerned about the elevation of the threat language (see also the recent abrupt introduction of “war on women” talk regarding the Vatican’s longstanding and unchanging teachings on abortion and contraception), about how the landscape has apparently changed from conservatives and liberals being neighbors who could negotiate with each other over differences of opinion on how to achieve goals held in common, to viewing each other as alien powers incapable of dialog who each could only hope to modify the other's behavior.

That’s what alarms me.  Talk isn’t just transparently manipulative and senile to the hypocrisy of the speaker, it’s hostile:  we talk about Islamist terrorist groups this way.  What’s next? 

Sunday, September 01, 2013

The crowding out of childhood

As Mark Shea says, show me a culture that despises virginity, and I'll show you a culture that despises children.

Case #1:  Montana 14-year old Cherice Moralez is raped the first of several times by a teacher at her school, 35 years her senior.  The kind of person who had loved life and living, her mood deteriorated along with her grades, and within a month of her 17th birthday, she kills herself.  The judge, asserting that Moralez was equally in control of the situation along with her attacker, handed down a sentence of 30 days.  The age of consent in Montana is 14.  
I've heard of precocious juveniles accused of heinous crimes being tried as adults, but this is the first time I've heard of it for the victim of a crime.  The purpose of consent laws are in part to protect children who are not quite as mature as they think, from adults who think they are more mature than they are, and from adults who may be deterred by the force of law and to prosecutes adults who aren't, who would defend themselves with arguments like "She seemed older/more mature" or "she wanted to."  I wonder what this judge had in know, having actually gone to law school and all that.
Case #2:  Miley Cyrus does an obscene reprisal of a twerking video she made several months ago, showing the whole world that, just like all those girls before her who used to star in Disney sitcoms, she's not some wholesome tween anymore (if she ever was).  
Granted, she hasn't been a teen star in a while, but Hannah Montana is still her claim to fame.  I get that being typecast can kill a career, but it's not like we haven't seen this to varying degrees before (remember Fergie and Britney Spears).  In fact, working against the relatively wholesome model for the girls of America by doing something outlandish is almost a cottage industry for Disney girls, so it's sort of typecasting in itself.  Maybe the reason they keep trying harder and pushing the envelope younger and younger is audiences (the creepy old guys and the media peddlers, anyway) can always say"Yeah, we were titillatingly scandalized when we forgot that your predecessor had achieved her majority by the time she pulled a stunt like this; what are you going to offer us?"
She didn't even look that good.  She's not an unattractive woman, but they way she was done up?  Lots of skin contrasted to her androgynous mid-80s styling (which wasn't even a good look in the 80s) and uncomfortable facial expressions.  What kind of reaction is that supposed to elicit?
Case #3:  Creepy back-to-school ad campaign from some clothing store that will remain nameless because I've blocked it out.  The one where they show not just tweens but even kids with single-digit ages worrying about what kind of impression they want to make.  I’m not sure it’s bad to depict kids knowing they have some influence over how others perceive them, but it is strange to me to see kids that young being--no, acting--so savvy, and I am sure it’s not good that it’s teaching kids “other people’s opinions of me are worth worrying over,” even if it weren't just as leverage to get kids to manipulate their parents into buying them all the clothes the popular kids are going to be wearing.  Okay, others' opinions are important to the extent that you have to deal with other people, but nine year olds creating and projecting an image that you can put a label on?  That they can demand on the grounds that it will help them be more successful and likable than their parents were?  Come on.  They should hardly be recognizing it when their older siblings do that.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Prayer request

For my brother in law, and his family; for his job and his relationship with my sister.

The job he had for most of their marriage was not a well paying one, but they were saving money on day care by him going in to work very early and then coming home shortly before my sister would leave for the closing shift at her store, sort of a tag team arrangement.  After a few years it was starting to wear on all of them, with my niece's demeanor changing and my sister getting stress related illnesses.

Finally, last year a former boss of his asked him to apply for a position with his new company, one that sounded like it was created with him in mind.  It wasn't everything he hoped, but it was something he seemed well enough suited for him, and they had to make some kind of change, so my sister quit her job and they moved across the country.

A few months later it comes out that his boss seems to have adopted a "sink or swim" policy; he's leaving my brother in law to figure things out on his own, on the grounds that he'll learn it better, but it's to the point where he can hardly get ahold of his boss, and when he e-mails him, his boss waits until he leaves his desk and then leaves a note for him.

He's not the only one who feels this way; one of his other coworkers feels adrift and suspects their boss likes to travel on business to avoid whatever's going on at home or at least the home office, and has trouble delegating.

I've had bosses who had their own struggles at work before.  In the worst case, it cost me my job and then it cost him his (I can't blame him entirely, I wasn't quite ready for a job like that, but some timely mentoring might have made the difference).  So let's pray for his boss, too.

And this is weighing on the family as well.  Their kids--I'm back on my niece and nephew again--are doing better now than when he and my sister were doing the tag-team job thing where they're only all together about twenty minutes a day, but now my sister is home with the kids instead of being the breadwinner, which she's growing into, but my brother in law isn't used to having to shoulder all the financial responsibility alone.  I'm sure there's more going on that I'm just not hearing about, too.

Please pray, also, that he comes back to the church.  He's nominally Catholic but is pretty lukewarm; she goes to church every Sunday, but goes alone.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Abortion, the battle from on the ground

You sometimes see me post an example of something ludicrous and alarming and say "this is what we're up against."  These posts, while highlighting specific examples of whatever the issue at hand is, tend to have an abstract angle to them; a pro-choice politician may be saying what he personally believes, but being a politician his actions will tend to affect people more conceptually than personally.

I mentioned my un-PC coworker a few days ago.  In the conversation he was having with some of his other coworkers who are pretty liberal (I'm currently residing in a very blue state, so we're all soaking in it), the talk somehow turned to abortion.  My coworker said that, while he is perfectly happy with prevention, he won't countenance abortion especially when used solely as birth control.

I think he used the word "pro-abortion" at this point, because one of the others denied being pro-abortion, but rather was pro-choice...and that if she had a twelve year old daughter who was molested by some guy and ended up pregnant, the first thing she would do would be to drive her to an abortion clinic.

"So she doesn't get a choice."
"No!  At that age she's not mature enough to understand the consequences."
"What if she doesn't want the abortion?  Would you at least discuss it with her?"
"No.  She's not capable yet of making an informed decision."

Okay, she's a minor and the parent gets the last word on medical decisions; even the law agrees with this, except when the situation is reversed.  But the hypothetical daughter is 12, not an idiot; she's going to have an opinion, despite having been raised by an "I'll choose who has abortions in this household" mother, it might not be the same, and she's at least going to want to feel like her feelings and preferences are being considered before they're overruled.

This; this is really what we're up against.  People who have listened to the rhetoric and already made up their minds, who don't believe in Choice as a virtue and civic right to be protected so much as they believe abortion is just a means to some other end, who are going to vote for politicians and laws that will let them pursue those other ends without inconvenience.

This is the battle we have to fight:  not just beating with rhetoric the sin-darkened intellects of talking heads who themselves may only be using the abortion issue to achieve some other end, but breathing on the embers of conscience in the people who both who are on the fence or see abortion as a necessary evil, and those who have inclined themselves to using the last resort of abortion so cavalierly that it is the first resort.

We have to win hearts.  You can get a little traction by winning arguments, at least trying to plant seeds, but it's such a charged topic, like evangelization itself, that if you come after them with logical guns a-blazing, they'll retreat into emotional counterarguments that you can't touch.  The woman who said she would choose abortion for her underage daughter no matter what walked out of the room before I could add anything to the suggestion that her daughter's feelings should be considered whether or not her own choice would be.  The topic might come up again and I might have another chance to play the "kindler, gentler conservative" next to my other coworker, but it might not.

But I'm still curious:  if someone says "I'm not pro-abortion, I'm pro-choice," what does he think someone admitting to being pro-abortion would say differently?  That he just wanted to kill babies for the sake of killing?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

As a nation, we turned a corner yesterday.

I'm not sure which bothers me more, the fact that SCOTUS decided that no one has any business opposing gay marriage in California when Californian legislators can't be bothered to defend traditional marriage, or the fact that POTUS has merely promised that he would refrain from trying to bring to heel any dissenting groups.

I concede to painting with an overly broad brush.  I just had to read the verbiage about California residents not having standing to oppose the overturn of Proposition 8 several times before I gave up trying to see how the logic was not actually applied in reverse.  Would people with same-sex attraction be permitted to participate in the debate if they opposed gay marriage, or would they also be told that they don't have a right to promote their opinions or reasoned arguments because they're on the wrong side of history?  How tidy:  you're on the winning team or you're not allowed to play.

As for the president, well, I've seen him promise not to abuse his power in the past.  One time, he even said he wasn't going to get into the whole gay marriage thing.  Now he's reassuring Christians that they will be able to indulge their own bigotry undisturbed in private.  Of course, he won't be able to stamp out every last vestige of orthodox morality, that's too vast and tedious a task to bother with, but there are terms for an announcement like this.  In sparring, it's called a telegraph.  In literature, it's foreshadowing.  In naval warfare, it's a shot across the bow.  

I do think it's true that there's a supernatural conspiracy here, and possibly not a human one on top of it; and thus I agree that ultimately gay marriage is a vehicle to persecute the Church.  What scares me on this matter is I cannot imagine the circumstances in which homosexuals will be thrown under the bus when (that is, how) they cease to be useful to that end.

I wish people had some perspective.  Gay people have never been banned from marriage; they just don't have the right to marry absolutely anyone they wish.  This prohibition is in place for all of us.  Romance literature is chockablock with stories about unrequited or thwarted love.

"Why, Ed, don't you want people to marry whomever they love?"

Setting aside the question of whether the person they love loves them back and wants to be married, the government has no truck with whom someone does or does not love.  Marriage is to provide a stable environment for raising children, and well-raised children make for a healthy nation, so the government is wise to promote that.

Stray into emotional territory, and you open the door wide to abuse.  I promise you, there is nothing the government can do in applying itself to the emotional domain that is not going to be abusive.

Finally, an anecdote illustrating the "ruthless narcissism" Mark Shea describes comprising this whole movement.
I have a coworker who is terribly fond of using politically incorrect humor. He loves talking about cooking meat and killing animals in front of one of our technicians who is an on-again, off-again vegan; he talks in front of his female coworkers about how he orders his wife to do this and orders her not to do that, and how women shouldn't be allowed to do various things; when talking to one of our black technicians, he often refers to "your kind." He doesn't mean a word of it and he doesn't offend any of the people he teases (trust me, they dish it right back). But this morning, he was asked if he had talked to the sole admitted lesbian in the office. She's a sweetheart, but he said "What, are you crazy?  I'm not stupid!"
Some people just want to mind their own lives, and when they do it really is nobody's business, but it

Take a lesson from Evangelicals, abortion clinic bombers, and Phil Plait:  you're not going to prick consciences and win hearts and minds by being a jerk.  For every George Takei there are ten Andrew Sullivans, and the Sullivans are undoing whatever progress was being made by the no-big-deal desensitization plan.  Granted, a lot of progress has been made on that front, judging from prime time TV and the nigh-complete failure of everyone to articulate the fact that the Boy Scout thing from a few weeks ago now means that sexuality has to be discussed openly with ten year old boys instead of leaving the sensitive topic to be broached at a discreet time.

This ain't exactly Gandhi's M.O.  Don't pretend it's even close.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A little perspective on the privacy issue

I've heard more than one person say "Well, I've got nothing to hide, so I don't care what the NSA does."

This scares me as much as the proverbial government official saying "Well, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."  While in the latter case you have a threat from an authority figure hidden in a reassuring deflection, in the former, you have a civilian acquiescing to the encroachment of the police state because they are not exercising any forethought.

It amazes me sometimes how people see things like this and never consider what might go wrong.  It doesn't affect them now, so that's the end of the story, until they're shocked down the road that someone let something bad happen.  Haven't they noticed anything in human history?

You know, I don't have a lot to hide, either, but my concern isn't that the NSA was probably already doing something clandestine under the ECHELON protocols, or that the NSA might be doing something good with its burgeoning powers now.  My concern is that if it's out in the open and appears to enjoy the benefit of being legal, if unpopular, it is going to embolden and empower the government universally to do more of the same.

Whether or not abuses have happened in the past or are happening now, it creates vast new opportunities and temptations for abuses to happen in the future.  This isn't exactly new legal ground we're covering; there are already laws curtailing the actions of government forces precisely in order to minimize the damage to society, whether or not there is foresight to anticipate specific problems.

After all, we don't have the Fourth Amendment simply because Madison said "What if..." and Jefferson responded "Well, just in case...."  The Bill of Rights was largely inspired from abuses that really did happen that the Founders wanted to prevent from being repeated.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Post hoc procrastination roundup

I haven't had much time to write lately, as you might surmise. I'd try to jot down a few thoughts at work while on break, to e-mail myself later, but I never seemed to get around to checking my e-mail for this account and cleaning the prose up.  I'm taking some time now, though, and what with it being so far after the fact on some of these issues, I'm just going to take some pot shots at several of them at once.

Pope Francis: I like his style.  I think Benedict was more my speed, I think we would have benefited from having someone in charge who made a point of focusing on things like orthodoxy and liturgy, but God knows better than I do and it's not like I really have a problem with the preferential option for the poor. My only worry would have been if people would see Francis give an inch on social justice and then take a mile in the direction we're already headed.  But, maybe someone who doesn't give the first impression of "Oh, he's that kind of Catholic because he's politically conservative," which tended to be the [mis]understanding by modern pundits of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, would seem less threatening to people who....aren't politically conservative.  Apparently it's the right time to show that you can help the needy and still stand for something more foundational than the endless advance of novel civil rights.  Plus, it gives the old Jesuit conspiracy theorists lots of fodder to play with it, and we're one step closer to being done with the silliness of the alleged prophecy of Malachy.  Also, it was interesting to see early and frequent criticism from people who are ignorant of the College of Cardinals or at least ignorant of the limits of their understanding of the Church; after hearing and reading comments from both Catholics and non-Catholics like “There was no one of intellectual stature after Ratzinger,” “John Paul packed the College full of yes-men,” "The only thing we have to look forward to is a papacy of mediocrity, because there is no one to choose from other than lousy bureaucrats” and “I don’t like him; it was a political move, he’s just the first pope from Latin America,” I know I can sleep easily knowing he's already made all the right enemies.

The IRS scandal: Sure, maybe Republicans did much the same under Dubya. I don't know why it wouldn't have gotten more press; I'm still inclined to believe that reporting is more honest during Republican administrations because reporters are happier to air the GOP's dirty laundry, but whether it was just covered up better or they just focused more on warrentless wiretaps, it's happening now; as Mark Shea says, Obama voters, own this.

The Boy Scout decision to accept openly gay boys:  I don't think it was a mistake to be accepting, but I think getting drawn into the debate to where they felt they had to say something one way or the other was a mistake.  I don't know how much has changed since I was active in Scouts, but no, we didn't really talk about girls or sex much at all, what with busy doing boy stuff and camping and learning about good citizenship and character.  There was one boy I know of who came out of the closet in college, and I don't know if he was hiding it the whole time or hadn't quite figured it out for himself yet (my tangential knowledge suggests this was common, especially so before homosexuality got normalized), but it just didn't matter, and while most of the guys in my patrol probably would have been more scandalized if he'd said something to us when he was SPL, we still would have been a bit off-put if other guys just started talking about what he liked about girls.  It's just not the place for it, and that is the whole pitfall. If there's someone who can help a confused kid, great; I think that's why the national council ruled the way it did. But it introduces sexuality explicitly where it should never have been in the first place. On top of that, how are they going to handle all the gay Eagle Scouts when they hit their 18th birthday? It's one thing when all the concerned parties in a scandal are minors, but how long is the fear of gay ephebophilia going to withstand the pressure of youths who want to have their sexuality approved--and behind them, the pressure of real gay predators who have just been waiting for this target-rich environment to expose itself?  And I'm kind of surprised the LDS Church didn't kick up more of a fuss, what with Scouting being a huge component in its youth program for boys; for years, the Mormons provided the backbone in resisting encroachment by the gay agenda.  Again, just to summarize, I don't think gay boys should be kicked out of Scouting--a concrete, masculine but otherwise asexual environment is probably the most healthful place for a confused youth; but Scouting should never have gone down this road.  There's no way to answer "Have you stopped beating your wife?" without sounding guilty, and there's no way to address the issue without introducing it into Scouting culture.

Meh, I thought this was going to be brief, but it's late and I'm tired and I have to work today, so if I think of anything else worth going over old ground for, you'll be the first to know.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

So, Gosnell's guilty...

...and what little I’ve heard from the pro-choice side is in the vein of “Well, of course we need to make sure women have access to safe abortions.”

This really makes me think someone hasn’t been paying attention.  They used to say “safe, legal, and rare,” but really all that was being pushed was “legal.”  Gosnell might be an epitome but he’s not the only one.  I’ve known pro-life people who voted straight ticket pro-choice because they believed that all the other social policies advocated by pro-choice political candidates would lead to lower demand for abortion in the long run; meanwhile, pro-choice politicians end up compromising with other politicians who may have different goals and who may actually have a lot of the same values but want to follow a different path to the same goal.  The only thing clung to and promoted, the only thing there isn’t room for compromise on—come on, nobody really wants to perpetuate poverty, but there is a plethora of opinions on how to alleviate it—is access to the procedure.  So the wagons are circled around abortion clinics and the media are mute on the topic of badly run clinics, for fear of handing ammunition to the pro-life movement.

Well, folks, you shot yourself in the foot with that very ammunition, and no amount of “Pro-lifers made us resort to this” whining is going to change that.  You talk safety and then refuse to take steps that might even bring you a few allies from the pro-life movement in at least helping to ensure that expectant mothers were treated well, lest the disconnect between respect for women and the abortion culture become undeniably overt—maybe it doesn’t have to be the case that bosses fire pregnant employees for deciding to go to term, or that domineering boyfriends and husbands will insist on not becoming fathers but stay in relationships with women who are willing to become mothers; but all to often, it is the case.  More abortion isn't the answer.  If it's a symptom of greater societal ills, then we need to cure the greater ills; we need to put a bandage on whatever abortion purports to cure in the meantime, but in taking a stand at abortion, you gather the rhetorical points of choosing lesser goods over greater ones, and you win poster children like Kermit Gosnell.

Might as well put a briefcase nuke in the hands of every person on the planet, on the grounds that MAD worked for the US and the USSR, so it's got to work for individuals as well.  A few people set 'em off anyway?  Get more into the field, so we can really make our point that more violence means less violence; all this carnage is just a blip.  Still more?  It's not you, it's them; it should work, and we're not going to stop until they stop.  We just need to clap for Tinkerbell harder.

I wonder maybe if Moloch is really in the service of Mammon these days.  Help build up a controversy, recruit desperate people, offer them an escape to the nightmare of motherhood, and then...start cutting costs.  High school dropouts are a lot cheaper than certified anesthetists, and frightened and unsure expectant mothers have low sales resistance, even to snake oil.  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fortieth day of Lent

Doctor Leo the Great's seventy-second lecture, on the Resurrection (complete)

It's Holy Saturday.  Meditate on the Harrowing of Hell.

Easter Vigil begins in the evening.  Meditate also on the extended readings for the night's liturgy, which summarize the history of salvation.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Thirty-ninth day of Lent

Doctor Leo the Great's forty-ninth sermon, on Lent (complete)

It's Good Friday,  a day of fasting and abstinence.  Go to the Stations today if you haven't been able to before now.  If possible, meditate on the necessity of the Crucifixion at the Hour of Mercy.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thirty-eighth day of Lent

Doctor Leo the Great's twenty-first lecture, on the Nativity (complete)

It's Maundy Thursday.  Today will be the last mass before Easter.  Some churches will also have Washing of the Feet.  You may also find one where the Seven Churches Visitation is practiced.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thirty-seventh day of Lent

Doctor Leo the Great's twenty-eighth letter (complete)

Pope Leo I was the first to be called "the Great."  This letter, also called "The Tome," helped to resolve the controversy over the two natures of Christ at the Council of Chalcedon (which in turn brought the Monophysite heresy, easily confused with Miaphysitism, to schism).

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thirty-fifth day of Lent

Doctor Ambrose on the Mysteries (chapters 1-4)

Ambrose of Milan was an influential Christian writer who, like others of his era, faced an uphill battle against the Arians.  He once advised Augustine of Hippo to follow the liturgical norms of whatever locale where he happened to find himself (like the Sabbath, liturgy was made for man, not man for the liturgy):  "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sixth Sunday of Lent

No required reading today.  Feast when the Church feasts, fast when the Church fasts.

However, if you want to keep your momentum, I might recommend Book Five of Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, although this treatise is a little long in parts.

Holy Week starts today.  Make sure you get to confession and pray the Stations of the Cross, if you haven't done so yet!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thirtieth day of Lent

Doctor Cyril's nineteenth catechetical lecture

St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote (or spoke and later his words were committed to paper) twenty-three known lectures intended for new converts.  Along with a prologue, they can be found here.  The first eighteen are  intended for the season of Lent for catachumens; the final five are meant to be read to the newly baptized during the octave of Easter.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fifth Sunday of Lent

No required reading today.  Feast when the Church feasts, fast when the Church fasts.

However, if you want to keep your momentum, I might recommend Book Four of Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, although this treatise is a little long in parts.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Lent

No required reading today.  Feast when the Church feasts, fast when the Church fasts.

However, if you want to keep your momentum, I might recommend Book Three of Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, although this treatise is a little long in parts.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Twenty-first day of Lent

Doctor Athanasius on the Life of St. Anthony, chapters 1-10

Athanasius is known, amongst other things, in the Eastern Church as the "Father of Orthodoxy."  He had an important role at the Council of Nicea.  The Athanasian Creed seems more to be named after him than written by him.

This Saint Anthony is St. Anthony the Great, Desert Father.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Third Sunday of Lent

No required reading today.  Feast when the Church feasts, fast when the Church fasts.

However, if you want to keep your momentum, I might recommend Book Two of Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, although this treatise is a little long in parts.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Twelfth day of Lent

St. Justin Martyr's first Apology, chapters 1-11

Raised a Gentile, Justin sought the tutelage of several Greek schools of philosophy before finding that Christianity best answered his hunger for God.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Eleventh day of Lent

St. Ignatius of Antioch's Epistle to Polycarp

Polycarp, as you've seen by now, was mentioned by Ignatius in his letters to the Magnesians and the Ephesians.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Second Sunday of Lent

No required reading today.  Feast when the Church feasts, fast when the Church fasts.

However, if you want to keep your momentum, I might recommend Book One of Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, although this treatise is a little long in parts.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tenth day of Lent

St. Ignatius of Antioch's Epistle to the Smyrnaeans

Much of this letter is spent answering the Docetist heresy, which denied the Incarnation.  It is also the first known use of the term "Catholic Church," but with a lack of explanation, suggesting the term was already in common use.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ninth day of Lent

St. Ignatius of Antioch's Epistle to the Philadelphians

Another of the seven letters written by Ignatius.

This is the Philadelphia in western Turkey and mentioned as one of the seven churches in Revelation, not the city in eastern Pennsylvania, which was called Shackamaxon at the time if it was there to be inhabited by the Lenape that far back.

There's your random trivia for the day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sixth day of Lent

St. Ignatius of Antioch's Epistle to the Magnesians (complete)

Another of the seven letters written by Ignatius.

Pious tradition holds that Ignatius was the child mentioned in Mark 9:35.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fifth day of Lent

St. Ignatius of Antioch's Epistle to the Ephesians (complete)

Ignatius, another student of John the Evangelist, was made the third bishop of Antioch by Peter.

This is one of seven letters written by Ignatius on his way to Rome and martyrdom.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

First Sunday of Lent

No required reading today.  Feast when the Church feasts, fast when the Church fasts.

However, if you want to keep your momentum, I might recommend the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians.

Clement of Rome was the fourth pope, following Linus and Cletus after Peter.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fourth day of Lent

Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians (complete)

Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna, a contemporary of Irenaeus, and a disciple of John the Evangelist.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Third day of Lent

Epistle to Diognetus, chapters 7-12

All known copies of this document were made from a 13th century manuscript after damage caused the loss of two lines from the middle of the text.  The last two chapters are possibly additions from later in the second century or possibly early in the third century.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Second day of Lent

Epistle to Diognetus, chapters 1-6

An anonymous apologetic ("Mathetes" is not the author's true name but a word that means "disciple") from the late second century.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

First Day of Lent

The Didache (complete)

The Didache is one of the oldest non-canon documents of Christianity.  Written in the late first century AD, it is thought by some to be the constitution of the Council of Jerusalem mentioned in Acts 15.  Thought lost, it was rediscovered in the late 19th century in Constantinople.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

40 days of patristics for Lent

Since many bloggers largely stay offline for Lent, I thought I would try something different.  Lent is a good time to pray and meditate by turning to Christian writings that have already stood the test of time, but I don't mean to go against that.  Since I normally don't write very much (except when I really get going), and not all that well, I wanted to provide something worthwhile for people whose Lenten penances do not include avoiding the Blogosphere, to try facilitating some Patristic reading that everybody should at least develop some passing familiarity with.  Also, I compiled all the stuff I'm going to be posting over the next six weeks in advance, and I didn't personally have to write any of it, so it keeps this from becoming a chore for me as well.

When I was in grad school, someone turned me on to the Lenten Fathers devotion.  Over the course of the 40 days of Lent (Sundays excluded--they're feast days), with an average of 10-15 minutes of reading a day, you will have read some of the most influential documents of ten writers from the Patristic era.

Starting tomorrow, I will post links to the various Patristic writings from this reading plan at  I'd post the whole texts but I'm not entirely clear on the intellectual property rules for particular translations of documents in the public domain.  Most of them are short enough you can read the entire thing in one sitting, but for the longer ones I will link the whole document each day from New Advent, and list the chapters prescribed by for each day's reading because I don't know of a way to create links that navigate to specific locations inside a document that doesn't already have anchor tags where I'd want them.  If you know how, please let me know.

Since Sundays aren't included, in order to help keep in the habit of reading and reflecting every day, I have included additional Patristic documents to keep things consistent.  Some of them get a little long, but since Sundays are a day of rest, maybe you'll have more time for reading, anyway.