(1) - Cardinal Sarah, the Vatican’s Prefect of Divine Worship, has spoken forcefully about the need to insert more majesty and mystery into the Mass so that Catholics gain a deeper sense of its sacrificial nature. He notes that young adult Catholics increasingly do not believe in the Real Presence. Accordingly there has been a decline in Sunday attendance by younger Catholics.
(2) - The writer Christopher Manion has noted that the American Bishops have countered the drop off in participation by native born young Catholics with aggressive support for illegal immigrants particularly for those from Catholic countries, such as Mexico. Bishops have even aligned themselves with socially liberal, “pro abortion” Democrats who also wished to provide amnesty to these illegal immigrants. Today the majority of young adults who regularly attend Sunday Mass are Hispanics.
(3) - Manion further notes that the priest abuse scandal has drained the coffers of the church and caused many practicing Catholics to cut back on their regular contributions. Accordingly the Church now depends more heavily on government money to keep many of its charities funded.
(4) - Prof Anthony Esolen of Providence College have noted that the full Catholic message a) about the sacrificial nature of the Mass, b) about the doctrine of Real Presence, and 3) about the full meaning of Christ’s Passion and death are lost because of the modern non-realistic art used. This is particularly true of the unrealistic Crucifixes and the abstract renderings of the fourteen stations. He also bemoans the vague, overly generalized, and imprecise lyrics in modern hymns. These fail to covey doctrinal precision and fail to evoke deep emotion in the hearer.
(Note: For more information see these three links: 1) an article on Cardinal Sarah published by The Wanderer explains the crisis that Cardinal Sarah has identified , 2) an article by Christopher Mannion in the Lew Rockwell .com explains the current predicament of America's bishops , and 3) an article by Prof. Anthony Esolen’s published in the Wall Street Journal sets out the decline of art and music in modern American churchs .
The Church is currently in a downward spiral particularly in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Of course, Jesus promised the Church would exist until the end of time. However, the Church could become a mere shadow of its current size particularly in the areas where it first matured. Corrective action needs to be taken.
Pope Francis could drive some of these changes, but he seems focused on other issues (e.g. promoting Muslim immigration into Europe, curbing global warming, accepting people in “irregular relationships” to Holy Communion). He evidently is not opposed to more traditional approaches to the liturgy; after all he has issued various approvals for the priests of the conservative Society of Pius X to dispense the sacraments. However, he also permits more liberal bishops to insist on liturgicial standardization and to oppose moves by parish priests to insert more mystery, majesty, and respect for Christ into their Eucharistic celebrations............... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 4/28/2017)..........
(Opening Note: This essay was inspired by Whitaker Chambers' autobiography which is entitled Witness.
This book recounts Chambers' journey from his dysfunctional family on Long Island, NY to Columbia University. From college he went into the Communist Party were he began by working as a writer/editor for the Daily Worker. He was eventually made a cell leader in Washington DC during the later '30s. His cell contained half a dozen high level government officials including Alger Hiss a top official in the State Dept.
This book (like St. Augustine's Confessions) tells the tale of a troubled man's departure from immoral behavior and eventually deciding to become an active Christian. After leaving the Communist Party Chambers went into hiding at a small place he secretly owned in an Amish area of rural Maryland. The Amish befriended him and helped him find Christianity.
Once he was sure the Communist Party was no long attempting to assinate him for leaving the party. He became a writer/editor for TIME magazine.
Finally Chambers recounts his involvement with the Congressional Committees investigating Communist espionage in DC after WWII and even later to the famous Hiss trial which sent Alger Hiss to jail and total disgrace for lying to Congress.
It is good to remember that Alger Hiss was the State Department official that accompanied FDR to the Yalta Conference and helped convince him that Stalin's army should get sole occupational control over Eastern Europe following WWII. Recall this included Poland, Hungry, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, among others. This decision ushered in the Cold War which lasted another fifty years.)
Some man have an impossible belief that man’s mind can establish a world order free of war, economic disruptions, uncontrolled change, huge disparity in wealth, etc. Such ideas are always to be accomplished without reference to God.
Movements to impose near total control of human activity have popped up regularly, but particularly in the last century. Hitler thought he could design a perfect society called the Third Reich. Stalin thought he could design a perfect society in the Soviet Socialist Republic. FDR created many new government programs along with regulations to begin creating a "perfect" American society. Obama thought he could point America toward perfection with his executive orders. What are the common elements? Lack of reference to God and a belief that life is perfectible through expert driven, government compelled human activity.
However, all must recall the famous sayings ..... God’s ways are not man’s ways .... God has a plan that it is not for man to know. God is interested in human fulfilment within the limits of the natural law and the simple command to love God and your fellow man..
God has the hope that each individual will accept grace and then using his free will find fulfillment and eventually come to heaven. If government organizes and compels the bulk of human activity, God has less latitude to create situations in which an individual can respond for good, or ill, using his free will. With massive government control consider the areas of life that might fall outside the domain of each man’s free choice: the education of children, determining how he will speak to or relate to his fellow man, the choosing of an occupation or a home, perhaps even the choosing of a spouse, etc.
Chambers, in his autobiography Witness, addressed these questions. As he was assessing his position as a Communist spymaster. He wonders: Are all ideas of equal value? Does society need an over-arching framework for relating things one to another? Can a society without a core framework of truthful values be anything but a undifferentiated mass or mess? These questions led Chambers to belief in God and to Christianity.
Ultimately Chambers decided that Man without a sense of the divine, without a feeling for the Majesty and Mystery of God, becomes a Monster ..... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/4/2017).
The Political Side of Islam Looks Like Communist Russia - ..... (Author’s Note: While reading Whitaker Chamber's book Witness, the similarities between the Communist Party and the political side of Islam, called sharia, became more and more apparent.) .
This essay is an attempt to point out certain comparisons between the application of sharia under an Islamic regimen and the application of communist principles under the Leninists and Stalinists. To be fair to the Communists, they always taught the highly unsavory activities they engaged in would only be needed during the transitional phase from Capitalism to the universal acceptance of worldwide Communism. On the other hand, Islam does not envision an end of its unsavory practices as these are needed to enforce Islamic ideas of the good on society till the end of time.
Perhaps a word on a couple of these categories is appropriate because these tendanies are popping up in modern American "secular humanist" circles: lying to others, not accepting "the other" as equals, authorizing discrimination against “the other”, eliminating “the other’s” freedom, lack of protection of children, establishing consequences for leaving the fold, etc. Problems are cropping up in western countries where “politically correct - secular humanists” are coming to the fore and are demanding restrictions on “the other” similar to, but not yet as strong as, the restrictions found under sharia or communism.
1) Lying to others is found in Islam as terrorists are protected by fellow travelers who won’t speak truthfully to investigators about planned or completed terrorist events. It is represented in the Communist system where operatives, like Alger Hiss, lied to investigators, Congressional committees, in legal proceedings even though he was a trained lawyer, an officer of the court. It is represented by today’s “politically correct - secular humanists” who propagate fake news to friends.
2) Accepting “the other” as an equal is difficult for Muslims under sharia because the Koran specifically calls for discrimination against non-Muslims, for instance, in Malaysia non-Muslims may not enter college. Under Communism the more desirable occupations were only open to those who had rejected religion and joined the party. Today “political correct - secular humanist” believers openly discriminate against traditionalists in hiring and promotion decisions in America’s newsrooms and universities.
3) Injuring those who depart from orthodoxy is manifested under sharia by killing those who stray. Under communism those who strayed could be killed or imprisoned in Siberia. Today “political correct - secular humanist” silence those who stray from the liberal orthodoxy by damaging buildings where they plan to speak and/or rioting outside so interested attendees will turn away.
It is obvious that these "unsavory" tendencies found in Islam and Communism have not progressed very far in the "politically correct - securlar humanist" world of the modern west but worrisome tendancies are showing. ...... - (prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/4/2017
............ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 3/7/2017)
His travels and conversations were wide ranging and caused him to come up with several interesting observations which he shared during an interview carried on C-SPAN. ....... Here are items of particular interest: ......
1) Muslims who migrate toward ISIS feel an emotional emptiness inside. The only way they can fill this void is to act to try to fulfill the Muslim goal to bring all people to peace through submission to Islam in other words to have all people live under an Islamic government. This leads these Muslims to commit terrorist acts to restore the old Bagdad Caliphate (called the Abbasid Caliphate) which fell in 1258 AD. (As an aside, other terrorists wish to restore the even older Damascus Caliphate (called the Umayyad Caliphate) which fell in 750 AD; al-Baghdadi, who currently leads ISIS, falls into this latter category.)
2) Western leaders particularly those who are Muslim or lean toward Islam, like Obama, want to take the word Islam away from ISIS and other terrorists. This is an attempt to de-legitimize the terrorist in his own mind and, of course, in the minds of their terrified citizens.
3) Muslims inclined to become terrorists are accepted by ISIS. These recruits are given technical training on the tools of terror (e.g. how to build a bomb, how to drive a car in such a way as to kill the most people, etc.) but ISIS will also give the recruits training in conservative Islamic thought so they fully understand why terror is appropriate behavior to further the Islamic cause. (ISIS will accept nearly any Muslim and then work on their need for reformation and/or correction of any modernized or deviant thought. )
4) Terrorist recruits generally possess a glorified version of life under the Caliphate which makes the recruited terrorists believe that all will be well once the Caliphate is restored and given control over their home country. (Converts to ISIS have nearly all brought a feeling that the Caliphate will provide all the desirable things they lacked in their home country.) ....
As a interesting historical note, Egypt was the place where ISIS germinated from an idea to a functioning organization. This occurred during the time, following Mubarack’s overthrow (in 2010) when a member of the Muslim Brotherhood ran the Egyptian government. During this time the Egyptian state security agency stopped suppressing radical Islamic groups. ........... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 6/28/2017