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The Debate: Journalism is Dead by Fr. George W. Rutler



October 16, 2016
by Fr. George W. Rutler


There was a time when debates consisted in measured arguments, logical in syntax and respectful of the opponent. One thinks of the earlier, elevated exchanges between G. K. Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw, whose differences of belief about almost everything—including the most important things: religion and politics—were imaged in Chesterton’s corpulence and Shaw’s emaciation. When Chesterton said that Shaw looked as if there had been a famine in the land, Shaw said that Chesterton looked like its cause. Then they dined with laughter, for they were bonded by the conviction that there are high ideals that are objective, even if they disagreed about what they were.

When prejudice and sentiment replace love of truth, discourse yields to shouting. Serious conversations have given way to “talking heads” shouting rehearsed slogans at each other, not letting facts stand in the way of opinion. This is why a prominent media figure recently lamented that “journalism is dead.”

The irony is that this degeneracy of discourse is in the name of free speech, when it actually disdains such freedom. The power of an argument exists only in the exercise of power itself: might makes right. “But wisdom is justified by her children” (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:35). Every tyrant tries to defeat truth with drums. It is the consequence of ideology usurping logic. The decay of logic began when men confused the two.

The triumph of the will over the intellect was a subtle attitude even among such sophisticated mediaeval theologians as William of Ockham and Duns Scotus. Of course its most violent and vulgar expression was in Islam, but it leaked into modern attitudes through cynical people like Nietzsche and Freud who did not think themselves religious at all. All that may seem obscure, but you meet it daily in the “spin doctors” of TV talk shows and newspapers.

Einstein said that National Socialism took over Germany by suborning the media, the universities, and the courts of law. That corruption has free play in our time, when you can tell what a television channel will report simply by which one it is, when college students burst into tears when a lecturer says something that contradicts their conceits, and when judges render decisions according to their political allegiance.

This mentality is “Voluntarism.” It is a corruption of voluntas, which means will or desire, just as racism is a corruption of race, and sexism is a corruption of sex, and militarism is a corruption of the military. Our Lady was the opposite of the voluntarist: “Let it be done to me according to thy word.” And her Son, conceived by that selfless surrender to truth, redeemed all creation with the inner dialogue of truth with truth: “Not my will but thine be done.” Jesus was not a talking head. We know all this because the Evangelists were not spin doctors.
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Our website is http://www.StMichaelNYC.com

“It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness” by Fr. George W. Rutler



October 9, 2016
by Fr. George W. Rutler


Of all wars, the most vicious are civil wars and religious wars. Family and Faith are the two most intimate and transcendent elements of civilization, and when they are disrupted, the reaction is more volatile than any fracture over economics or territory. The conflict in our country from 1861 to 1865 divided brother from brother and cut psychological wounds nastier than the passions of the 1776 revolution. The clash between religions at the partitioning of India in 1947 was far more sanguinary than insurrections during the Raj.

Some of the basest human behavior sullies organized combat, but those conflicts also shape high valor. That was how the French Revolution was summed up in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”

The cynic sneers at the notion of heroism because he thinks that there is no light to be shed in a world that is all darkness. He logically concludes from that false premise that darkness is not dark because there is no light as its contrast, and nothing matters since there is nothing other than matter. But there are heroes, and they shed light in dark times. Valor defies villainy.

As one example, Lt. j.g. Aloysius H. Schmitt, a Catholic priest from a farm family in Iowa, was a chaplain at Pearl Harbor on the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941. Having been pulled out of a porthole where he had been stuck, he positioned himself for certain death in order to help crewmen to safety, blessing each one. This past month, enhanced DNA technology identified what remains of his bones. Previously his corroded chalice had been recovered along with his waterlogged Latin Breviary open to the Eighth Psalm: “Domine, Dominus noster, quam admirabile est nomen tuum in universa terra! O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is your name throughout all the earth!” On October 8 his remains were buried with those of his parents.

The most titanic war is the spiritual battle fought every day in each soul, even though it is commonly upstaged by the lesser fights over boundaries and politics that make the newspaper headlines. In that spiritual combat, “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it.” While no one wants to live in dark times, the Light of Christ is never brighter and more wonderfully blinding than when the nations live in shadows and human hearts are dark.
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Our website is http://www.StMichaelNYC.com

The Present Battle of Lepanto: It would be well to pray the Rosary on October 7



October 2, 2016
by Fr. George W. Rutler


Our faith is based, not on abstract speculation, but on historical events. Christ does not hover around us as a philosophical idea, for he “was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The Church’s feasts are acts of thanksgiving for actions of God that have affected the course of human existence. On October 7, the Church celebrates the victory of Christian naval vessels over those of the Ottoman Muslims who outnumbered the Christians by more than two to one, and whose ships were manned by upwards of fifteen thousand Christian galley slaves.

The Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was the greatest naval engagement until the Battle of Jutland in World War I, but it is not commemorated just as a lesson in the art of maritime war. The core of the feast is that it saved Christian civilization. Compared to it, July 4 and Waterloo and Gettysburg and D-Day are ancillary struggles to preserve what would not exist at all, had it not been for 1571. Pope St. Pius V, by divine inspiration while praying the Rosary, announced in the Church of Santa Sabina that a triumph of the Cross had been won, at the very moment the battle was won in the Gulf of Patras in western Greece, though news of it would have taken many days to reach Rome by courier.

We revere the “Star Spangled Banner” whose broad stripes and bright stars gallantly streamed in 1814, but quite more remarkable was the banner held by Gianandrea Doria, great-nephew of the Admiral Andrea Doria, at Lepanto. It bore the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Lady had appeared in Mexico forty years earlier, but reproductions of the image had made it to old Europe, and King Philip of Spain had given one to the fleet. It has been preserved in the cathedral of Genoa.

Had the battle ended differently, Sultan Selim could have fulfilled his vow to conquer Rome, turning the basilica of Saint Peter into a mosque, despoiling and upending its bells so that they might be filled with oil and burned in honor of Allah, as had been done in 997 at the tomb of Saint James in Compostela.

Is all this the dilettantish indulgence of the sort of people who watch the History Channel? We would not be here – nor would our holy religion, our universities, our science, our democracy, our enfranchised women, our justice, our social tolerance, and our entire moral fabric – were it not for Lepanto. The feast of its victory was instituted by Pope St. Pius V and, after the final defeat of the Ottomans in 1716 at Timișoara in present-day Romania, led by Prince Eugene of Savoy, Pope Clement XI made it a universal feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Given the terrors of our present times, i

Terrorists are Not Ghosts and Will Not Go Away by Fr. George W. Rutler



September 25, 2016
by Fr. George W. Rutler


Egyptian embalmers assumed that the brain would not be needed in the afterlife, and so they threw it away. Since there will be no need for sun or moon in the Heavenly City, for “the Lamb is the lamp thereof” (Rev. 21:23), the “glorified body” may enjoy immediate perception. But God expects us to use our brains in this temporal world. Jesus did not commend the dishonesty of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-12), but he said we should use our minds as justly as the steward did unjustly.

The human brain is the most complex machine in the universe, with 86 billion neurons. The Johns Hopkins neurologist Barry Gordon refuted the myth that people on average use only ten percent of the brain’s capacity. Although at rest the brain uses just a small fraction of its capacity, even then it is using around twenty percent of the body’s energy, while making up only about three percent of the body’s weight.

The Catholic faith is not a form of brainlessness. It needs reason to avoid superstition, just as reason needs faith to avoid rationalism. So Pope St. Pius X asserted in his Oath Against Modernism, “to be sworn to by all clergy, . . . religious superiors . . . and professors,” that: “…faith is not a blind sentiment of religion welling up from the depths of the subconscious under the impulse of the heart and the motion of a will trained to morality; but faith is a genuine assent of the intellect to truth received by hearing from an external source.” The first Bishop of Rome said that Christians must use their brains: “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Étienne Gilson wrote: “We are told that it is faith which constructed the cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Without doubt, but faith would have constructed nothing at all if there had not also been architects; and if it is true that the façade of Notre Dame of Paris is a yearning of the soul toward God, that does not prevent its being also a geometrical work. It is necessary to know geometry in order to construct a façade which may be an act of love . . .”

Within a ten-minute walk of our church in these past few days, one man attacked an officer with a meat cleaver, and another man planted two explosives. The first man had shouted Islamic slogans outside a Brooklyn synagogue in July and was declared “not a terrorist threat.” The human brain can rationalize unreality if it replaces true faith in God with its own agenda.

In 1899 William Hughes Mearns wrote about a ghost:

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

Terrorists are not ghosts and will not go away even if reasonably intelligent people misuse their brains to pretend they are not there.

God’s “Scandal of Particularity,” by Fr. George W. Rutler



September 18, 2016
by Fr. George W. Rutler


A certain kind of journalism thrives on scandals, but they are not what theologians or any kind of deep thinkers mean by a scandal. A “skandalon” is a stick in a trap that ensnares an animal that touches it and, intellectually, it is a mental trap on the path to truth. Saint Paul said that the concept of God becoming human in Christ was a kind of joke for the Greek philosophers who enjoyed playing with words, but for the Jews to whom God had revealed himself as singular and lofty, it was scandalous to the ultimate degree. The philosophers in Athens smirked, but the rabbis in Jerusalem beat their breasts in anguish.

The “Scandal of Particularity,” which has challenged theologians, is the fact that the immeasurable Creator of the Universe is concerned with the minutest details of his creation, to the extent that he both dwells in Eternity and also is born as a man in his own created time and space. But a related scandal is this: each human being is of huge value to God, so much so that he dies to unite each one of us to him.

Some serious theologians without the gift of faith might react to this with a shudder, like the ancient rabbis. Others who do not believe in God at all simply dismiss the idea with a flick of the hand. For them, the only value of a human is what he can produce for the benefit of others, be it scientific or artistic, or just cleaning windows and digging coal. In that calculus, an individual is worth a fraction of a crow and counts only as part of a mob. If an unborn baby is inconvenient to the mother, it may be aborted, and if an elderly lady finds it hard to climb stairs or remember who she is, she may be euthanized.

Unclear thinkers of our day who call themselves “spiritual but not religious” want a God who is an amorphous vapor, making no demands of them and merely justifying their animal passions and providing background music when they look at a sunset. That sorry misuse of the imagination will never understand why Jesus looks for the lost sheep and embraces the prodigal son who has tired of living like a pig.

How many people Josef Stalin killed is debated. Solzhenitsyn figured it was about 60 million, but a generally accepted figure according to one calculation is “only 20 million.” Jesus never spoke of “only one lost sheep.” Neither would he agree with Stalin that “one death is a tragedy; one thousand is a statistic.” In our culture, the proposition that each human life is of infinite value scandalizes, but it also is the substance of our faith in the Word made flesh. “You were bought at a price . . .” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
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A Son’s Prayer to the World: September 11, 2016

Finally! I found a YouTube video which captured the 9/11/16 remembrance. I downloaded it, edited it, and produced this 8 minute video for my Mom and all the other victims’ family and friends.

Can A Catholic Parish Pastor be Impeached? Seriously!

Can a Catholic Parish Pastor Be Impeached? Seriously!

I recognize that there are both good and bad priests. Here’s a quick, real story. Tell me what you think:

My Mom died on 9/11 at the age of 76. Each year I arrange for a Catholic Mass to be said each year for her on that day. For the past 7 years it has been standard to bring a photo of my Mom to display near the altar.

This year was no exception. I arranged for the Mass last November and I made arrangements for a family member to bring the photo to the designated Mass this 9/11. I could not be there as I was a reader of names at Ground Zero at the same time.

The night before as the clock was about to turn 9/11, the pastor wrote me to say he would NOT display her picture as he himself had done several times in the past. I wrote back to appeal and he dismissed me by saying, “This conversation is over” and said he would block my email if I wrote him again on the matter. He offered no justifiable reason.

This is the same pastor who last year blocked me from the parish Facebook Page after I refused to stop posting pro-life sentiments on that site.

And finally, this is the same man who threatened to remove me from my Lector, Committee, and other parish ministries if I didn’t stop asking for his support.
Not what I would consider a compassionate and merciful man of the cloth.

And please, don’t ask me to inform my Bishop in Trenton, NJ. I’ve tried in the past and they always pick up his tail.
So again I ask, can a “Catholic” pastor be impeached?


P.S. I am usually the last to air the Church’s dirty laundry in public, but I just can’t let this one stand. I and my family have been grossly disrespected. In fairness, I have not mentioned his name.


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