Monthly Archives: October 2013

JP2 luv, Oct. 22

Somebody autotuned the Pope. Song goes a little something like this:

You are truly free
You are truly free
You are made truly free in Him
You are made truly free in Him
Truly free in Him
Truly free in Him
Truly free in Him
Him, Him, Him, Him,

Violence and arms will never resolve the problems of men. Pope Warns Against War, January 13, 2003

We miss youheart.

Heart-Tugging, Fog of War Rhetoric

National AMS Collection Poster

National AMS Collection Poster

**********The following was written by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy.**********

Here is the poster that has been sent out for every Catholic diocese and parish in the U.S. to display on behalf of the coming first-time-ever National Collection for the Catholic Military Archdiocese. The buzz phrase to entice people to contribute to the collection is “Serving those who Serve.”

“Serving those who Serve.” This is a heart-grabbing, marketing-speak sound byte that purports to say everything that needs to be said, but in fact communicates nothing except, “Open your wallet.” It is well chosen for a culture that has been labeled the “sound bite society.”

The problem with the sound byte, the ideograph, the one-liner, the catchphrase is that its catchiness overshadows the broader context in which it is spoken or written and thereby misleads people about the truth of the matter being presented. Senator James DeMint once said, “There is a reason why most politicians speak in sound bytes: Once they get out of that they open themselves up to questions.”

“Serving those who Serve” is similar to Notre Dame’s PR fund raising campaign sound byte strategy, “We teach values.” Of course Notre Dame teaches values, what educational institution doesn’t? There is no such thing as a value-free education. But what values does it teach by word and by example as genuinely worthwhile? Whose values does it teach by word and example? The values taught by Jesus? Or, are there values contrary to the explicit teaching of Jesus in the Gospels that are being taught? Or, both? One would have thought that a University that designates itself as Catholic and hence is utterly dependent on Jesus for its very existence and meaning would have no problem saying in a fund raising campaign, “We teach Gospel values,” or “We teach Jesus’ values.”

The Catholic Military Archdiocese is about the same process as was Notre Dame except with a different modus operandi geared to a different audience. The poster for its national collection accurately states, “Serving those who serve,” as Notre Dame’s fundraising program aimed at national television audiences and secular corporations accurately stated, “We teach values.” Who can be against teaching values? Who can be against serving those who are serving others? But, what values are being taught?  How are the Catholic military chaplains serving those who serve?

Since men and women in the military are engaged in the violence of killing and maiming other human beings, does the Catholic Military Archdiocese serve those who serve by making sure that each and every young Catholic recruit that comes into the U.S. military is thoroughly informed of the two, the only two, moral positions in relations to war that a Catholic may employ in order to evaluate whether the killing he or she is ordered to do is murder? How often do Catholic military chaplains give sermons or deliver platoon or company wide catechetical presentations on these two ethical options, i.e., the nonviolence and love of enemies tradition proclaimed by Jesus and the Catholic just war tradition initiated by Ambrose and Augustine in the late fourth century? Would not human reasonableness, spiritual honesty and moral rectitude in regard to those in one’s spiritual care demand, that since Catholics in the military are to be engaged in killing and maiming human beings, they should be well aware of what Jesus and their Church teach on the subject of killing and maiming other human beings? Is presenting this information accurately, coherently, intelligibly and in a pedagogically sound manner to those immortal souls in its spiritual care, the way the Catholic military chaplaincy “Serves those who Serve?”  

And, those whom the Catholic Military Archdiocese is serving, the Catholic military personnel, who are they serving? Jesus? If it is not Jesus, is the Catholic Military Archdiocese serving them spiritually by making it clear to them, as Catholics, that they cannot serve two masters—and what the logical network of moral obligations that derive from this truth is for a Baptized person who has irrevocably committed his or her life to Jesus as Lord, God and Savior, the Way, the Truth and the Life? Or, are the Catholics in the military being served by being led to believe, implicitly and/or explicitly by the Archdiocese of Military Services and/or its military chaplains, that killing and maiming other human beings on orders from the rulers of a kingdom of this world is serving Jesus?

When the above poster was sent to every Catholic parish in every Catholic diocese in the U.S., a letter accompanied it from the Military Ordinary, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, which reads in part:

Dear Fathers,

How can we, as witnesses to the Gospel, be there for those who put so much on the line to defend our nation?

Here again we encounter the heart-tugging, fog of war rhetoric calculated to elicit an unreserved, emotionally laden, positive response to a question that camouflages the truth of what the priest is being asked to religiously support?

So, I will restate the question so that it is unambiguously forthright about what the parish priests in the U.S. are being asked to support by the Military Ordinariate’s Archbishop:

“How can we, as witnesses to the Gospel, be there for those who put so much on the line to defend our nation and empire by killing and maiming other sons and daughters of the ‘Father of all’ and even killing and maiming fellow Baptized members of the Body of Christ, whom they have never met but whom they have been told are their enemies?”

By just this small addition to the Military Archbishop’s sentence to the priests, an addition that is 100% factually accurate, Catholic parish priests—and their Bishops—around the country would have clarity of mind about how much they, “as witnesses to the Gospel,” are being asked to put on the line in order to support in conscience before Christ-God this collection.

Bl. Giuseppe “Pino” Puglis, Oct. 21

This (beautiful) man died in 1993 and was beatified earlier this year. He was a priest in Sicily who stood up to the mafia. He is included here because he also challenged Church authorities.

His archbishop, Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini, had a passive attitude towards the Mafia, even claiming at one time that they were fictional, and that nobody knew what the Mafia really was: “So far as I know, it could be a brand of detergent.” However, Fr. Puglisi was well aware of the Mafia influence in his parish and suggested that Cardinal Ruffini needed to be corrected, albeit he added: “We should always criticize it [the Church] like a mother, never a mother in law.” He also tried to change his parishioners’ mentality, which was conditioned by fear, passivity and omerta (imposed silence).

Bl. Giuseppe "Pino" Puglis, Priest, Martyr

Bl. Giuseppe “Pino” Puglis, Priest, Martyr

He refused to permit known Mafia gangsters from marching at the head of religious processions, a Mafia tradition, and was the first known priest to confront men attempting to do so. Unable to control him with money or intimidation, Fr, Puglisi became a target for the organization. On September 15, 1993, two hitmen approached him in front of his parish. Fr. Puglisi spoke his last words, greeting the men saying, “I’ve been expecting you.” One of the men then fired a single bullet at point-blank range.

Following his death, there was a loud public outcry for justice. Anti-Mafia graffiti was painted across the region with his signature quote, “And what if somebody did something?

Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop of Palermo, told Vatican Radio that “the message Father Puglisi left is that one must not be afraid of those who threaten, [but] only of those who can destroy spiritual values.”


Just Look at Them and Sigh

Photograph by Diane Arbus

“Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park,” photograph by Diane Arbus

Here is the photograph that inspired Graham Nash to write his song “Teach Your Children.” Nash said the song is about the societal implications of messages given to children about war, among other things. The song first appeared on the album “Déjà Vu” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released in 1970.

 ▶ Teach the children well ( with lyrics) – Crosby Stills – YouTube

Teach Your Children Well

Matthew 18: 6-7: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!”

jesus-with-childrenAmerica’s Army is a series of first-person shooter video games, graphic novels, and other media costing over $32 million, developed by the United States Army and released as a global public relations initiative to help with recruitment. It is free to download and play. It has been dowloaded over nine million times. It has also been ranked as a top ten first person shooter game.

“Despite the game’s neurotic commitment to accuracy elsewhere, the small detail about killing people is brushed over gingerly. ‘We were very careful on the blood thing,’ says [one of the game’s developers]. There are no sound effects when players are shot; only a small red blotch appears, similar to a paintball hit. The sanitizing of violence also aids marketing efforts by earning the game a teen rating.” — America’s Army Targets Youth, The Nation, Sep. 2002.

via Video Game Recruitment.

Gamers do “lose points” for killing civilians.


Obey your superiors!

You can see a “Multi-Kill/Mini-Montage” from “America’s Army” here on YouTube. Here’s another YouTube video of a speech given by Darrell Anderson, who went to Iraq when he was 22: “They told us, in a crowded area, if one person shoots at you, kill everybody.


St. Paul of the Cross, Oct. 20

“On Dec 8, 1714, The Turks invaded and declared war on the Republic of Venice and the Christian west. The Pope considered this a war against Christianity and therefore, called for a crusade in order to help the Christian princes of Venice. Still full of zeal from his previous interior illumination experience, Paul thought he heard the call of God, so, in 1715, at age 21, he joined the crusade; he thought that this might be a good way of giving himself to God. Paul saw this crusade as a way to shed his blood in defense of his faith and for all who believed in Christ. Since it was a war for the faith, he saw the crusade as a way to martyrdom.

In February, 1716, while he was on his way to the front lines he stopped at a Church in Crema and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament (which was being exposed during 40-hours devotion). During intense prayer, an inner voice assured him that God was not calling him to a bloody battle in warfare, but to spiritual warfare. Being an unpaid volunteer, it was not difficult to receive a discharge, and he was on his way home.”


St. Ignatius of Antioch, Oct. 17

Icon of the maryrdom of St. Ignatius

Icon of the martyrdom of St. Ignatius

Here are the seven letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Born in Syria, Ignatius converted to Christianity and eventually became bishop of Antioch. In the year 107, Emperor Trajan visited Antioch and forced the Christians there to choose between death and apostasy. Ignatius would not deny Christ and thus was condemned to be put to death in Rome.

Ignatius is well known for the seven letters he wrote on the long journey from Antioch to Rome. The excerpt below is from his letter to the Romans. He had some experience with soldiers, and compares them to leopards.


“All the way from Syria to Rome I am fighting with wild beasts, by land and sea, night and day, chained as I am to ten leopards (I mean to a detachment of soldiers), who only get worse the better you treat them. But by their injustices I am becoming a better disciple, ‘though not for that reason am I acquitted.’ What a thrill I shall have from the wild beasts that are ready for me! I hope they will make short work of me. I shall coax them on to eat me up at once and not to hold off, as sometimes happens, through fear. And if they are reluctant, I shall force them to it. Forgive me — I know what is good for me. Now is the moment I am beginning to be a disciple. May nothing seen or unseen begrudge me making my way to Jesus Christ. Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the devil — only let me get to Jesus Christ!

Not the wide bounds of earth nor the kingdoms of this world will avail me anything. ‘I would rather die’ and get to Jesus Christ, than reign over the ends of the earth. That is whom I am looking for — the One who died for us. That is whom I want — the One who rose for us. I am going through the pangs of being born. Sympathize with me, my brothers! Do not stand in the way of my coming to life — do not wish death on me. Do not give back to the world one who wants to be God’s; do not trick him with material things. Let me get into the clear light and manhood will be mine. Let me imitate the Passion of my God. If anyone has Him in him, let him appreciate what I am longing for, and sympathize with me, realizing what I am going through.

The prince of this world wants to kidnap me and pervert my godly purpose. None of you, then, who will be there, must abet him. Rather be on my side — that is, on God’s. Do not talk Jesus Christ and set your heart on the world. Harbor no envy. If, when I arrive, I make a different plea, pay no attention to me. Rather heed what I am now writing to you. For though alive, it is with a passion for death that I am writing to you. My Desire has been crucified and there burns in me no passion for material things. There is living water in me, which speaks and says inside me, “Come to the Father.” I take no delight in corruptible food or in the dainties of this life. What I want is God’s bread, which is the flesh of Christ, who came from David’s line ;and for drink I want his blood: an immortal love feast indeed!

▶ The Skipperdees – Atomic City

I live in a music town. You can’t walk down the street at night without hearing the sound of a band coming from every bar. Last night, the music I heard while walking by one venue, its stage open to the night, people listening in the garden, sitting out under the stars, made me stop and listen, and then buy a drink and sit down.

Meet The Skipperdees. They introduced their song “Atomic City” as a protest song. I didn’t think people wrote those anymore. (You can read the lyrics here.) It’s about their hometown which, if I understand correctly, used to be a mining town and now has a factory where they make atomic bombs. They are super talented, and this song is incredible.

’cause here Fat Men and Little Boys
are bread and butter, our pride and joy

▶ The Skipperdees – Atomic City – Live at Crimson Moon Cafe – YouTube

Also, be sure to sit outside at night while you still can. Soon it will be cold.

Kreeft’s “The Pillars of Unbelief”

Peter Kreeft discusses six modern thinkers who have had an enormous impact on everyday life, with great harm to the Christian mind in The Pillars of Unbelief. You have to wonder how much their ideas, especially Machiavelli’s, have influenced/corrupted Catholics and led to a wholehearted embrace of militarism as an American way of life.

[Machiavelli] saw his life as a spiritual warfare against the Church and its propaganda. He believed that every religion was a piece of propaganda whose influence lasted between 1,666 and 3,000 years. And he thought Christianity would end long before the world did, probably around the year 1666, destroyed either by barbarian invasions from the East (what is now Russia) or by a softening and weakening of the Christian West from within, or both. His allies were all lukewarm Christians who loved their earthly fatherland more than heaven, Caesar more than Christ, social success more than virtue. To them he addressed his propaganda. Total candor about his ends would have been unworkable, and confessed atheism fatal, so he was careful to avoid explicit heresy. But his was the destruction of “the Catholic fake” and his means was aggressive secularist propaganda. (One might argue, perhaps peevishly, that he was the father of the modern media establishment.)

He discovered that two tools were needed to command men’s behavior and thus to control human history: the pen and the sword, propaganda and arms. Thus both minds and bodies could be dominated, and domination was his goal. He saw all of human life and history as determined by only two forces: virtu (force) and fortuna (chance). The simple formula for success was the maximization of virtu and the minimization of fortuna. He ends “The Prince” with this shocking image: ‘Fortune is a woman, and if she is to be submissive it is necessary to beat and coerce her’ (ch. 25). In other words, the secret of success is a kind of rape.

For the goal of control, arms are needed as well as propaganda, and Machiavelli is a hawk. He believed that ‘you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow’ (ch. 12). In other words justice ‘comes out of a barrel of a gun,’ to adapt Mao Tse-tung’s phrase. Machiavelli believed that ‘all armed prophets have conquered and unarmed prophets have come to grief’ (ch. 6). Moses, then, must have used arms which, the Bible failed to report; Jesus, the supreme unarmed prophet, came to grief; He was crucified and not resurrected. But His message conquered the world through propaganda, through intellectual arms. This was the war Machiavelli set out to fight.