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Satan is a Dangerous Vaccine: by Fr. George W. Rutler

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FROM THE PASTOR
October 19, 2014
by Fr. George W. Rutler

While serving as chaplain in a large mental hospital, I quickly learned that one can be both mentally ill and highly intelligent. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and their superior in malice, Chairman Mao, were intelligent men who vandalized the attics of culture because they had some vestige of culture and hated it.

Thus it is with those who think of themselves as the culturally elect in our day. Politicians and the media that comment on them are the first generation of our society to have been badly schooled without being aware of the fact. Napoleon had the same problem, which is why Talleyrand lamented that a man so highly intelligent had been so poorly educated.

Atheists, who are politely called “secularists,” are different from the saints who are “in this world but not of it” because they are “of the world but not in it.” This explains why their solutions to the world’s ills are so wrong.

Much of the media are reluctant to report, let alone express outrage at, the beheading of Christian infants, the crucifixion of Christian teenagers, the practical genocide of Christian communities almost as old as Pentecost, and the destruction to date of many churches in the Middle East. Why is this moral obliviousness (a sanitized term for what Lenin called “useful idiocy”) so instinctive? Very simply, many disdain Judeo-Christian civilization and its exaltation of man in the image of God with the moral demands which accrue to that. Their operative philosophy is that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

The Nazis were promoted by many European aristocrats and, until the Nuremburg Racial Laws of 1935, even some prominent Jewish and other minorities, because the Nazis were seen as a foil to the Bolsheviks and a means to social reconstruction. Conversely, the Stalinists were supported by many Western democrats because they were perceived as the antidote to the Nazis. The U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938, Joseph Davies, wrote a book, Mission to Moscow, that whitewashed Stalin’s atrocities. In 1943, with the cooperation of President Roosevelt, Warner Brothers made it into a film that was hailed in The New York Times by Bosley Crowther as a splendid achievement. If the Nazis seemed an antidote to the Bolsheviks and vice versa, the bacilli unleashed nearly destroyed the world. Satan is a dangerous vaccine.

There are some today in public positions who underestimate terrorism, in some instances calling it “workplace violence.” They are like Ambassador Davies, who said: “Communism holds no serious threat to the United States.” Those who see good and evil as abstractions do not expect hatred of the holy to take its toll in reality. The Qur’an (Sura 4) says of Jesus, “. . . they killed him not.” St. Paul says, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping), that they are enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18). To deny the contradiction is to deny reality.
We are now posting MP3 audio files of the gospel and homily of the 10:00am Sunday Mass.

Access the MP3 files of this year’s homilies.

Battle of Lepanto and Our Lady of Victory: by Fr. George W. Rutler

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FROM THE PASTOR
October 12, 2014
by Fr. George W. Rutler

Having had father, uncles and cousins in combat on the high seas for our country, I may have been a disappointment to the family line, being prone to seasickness when doing anything more adventurous than rowing in college. I was taken aboard a Liberty ship in World War II as an infant, but only long enough to be shown to my father and have my diaper changed. So I lay claim to having been on a ship in wartime, although my service was an inferior one.

Naval historians still contend over which was the largest maritime engagement: Salamis in 480 B.C., Jutland in 1916, the Philippine Sea or Leyte Gulf in 1944, but Lepanto in October of 1571 ranks with them in historical importance. As it saved Christian civilization for a while, the Battle of Lepanto may have been the most decisive, and since it was done totally by sail and oars, it was a most breathtaking example of naval skill. Pope St. Pius V organized the battle and, having been supernaturally informed of the victory before human messengers brought news, he gave us the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. The pope’s weapon was the Holy Rosary, which is why the month of October is dedicated to this form of prayer—the most celestial, save for the Eucharist itself.

While pious belief attributes the invention of the Rosary to Saint Dominic in his struggle against the Albigensian heretics who denied the true divine and human natures of Christ, it goes back earlier, to when those monastic lay brothers known as conversi, not being able to read, used it as a substitute for the regular recitation of all 150 psalms. Originally, the Rosary consisted of just the Our Father (which is why the lane in London where Rosaries were made is still called “Paternoster Row”). During the twelfth century, the first half of the Hail Mary was added, and the second half was added somewhat later. Gradually, meditation on various Mysteries was encouraged. Saint John Paul II enriched the Rosary with the Luminous Mysteries. It is called a Rosary because it is a rosarium, or “rose garden,” and it offers God prayer made fragrant with the words of St. Elizabeth, the Archangel Gabriel, and Christ himself.

Our civilization now is threatened not only by the heretical forces that engaged the Christians at Lepanto, but also by the more subtle forces of atheism, euphemistically called “secularism,” that have insinuated themselves into our civil institutions. In 1985, a priest was deeply moved to see Saint John Paul II praying the Rosary humbly on his knees. He said, “I became aware of the density of the words of the Mother of Guadalupe to St Juan Diego: ‘Don’t be afraid, am I not perhaps your mother?’” From that moment the priest has never failed to recite all fifteen decades of the Rosary each day, even now that he is Pope Francis.

We are now posting MP3 audio files of the gospel and homily of the 10:00am Sunday Mass.

Access the MP3 files of this year’s homilies.

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Reading, Writing, & Arithmetic by Fr. George W. Rutler

Vice-Admiral_Sir_Roger_Curtis_(1746-1816),_by_British_school_of_the_18th_centuryFROM THE PASTOR
October 5, 2014
by Fr. George W. Rutler

The first part of the academic year of many schools in the English-speaking world is called “Michaelmas Term.” The opening day of the term has not changed much since Shakespeare’s time, with “the whining school-boy with his satchel / And shining morning face, creeping like snail / Unwillingly to school.” (As You Like It)

In 1825, Sir William Curtis (MP) coined the phrase “reading, writing and arithmetic,” which harkens back to the classical Greek and Latin curricula of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric and logic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy).” Pope Sylvester II, who died in 1003, had his own “Three R’s,” having been bishop sequentially of Reims, Ravenna and Rome. He was one of the most learned popes ever, as well as being the first French one: he invented the pendulum clock and the hydraulic organ, wrote on mathematics, natural science, music, theology and philosophy, and introduced to Europe the decimal system of Arabic numerals. Superstitious folk (including those who resented his strictures against simony and clerical marriage) read into his three R’s some sign that he had sold his soul to the Devil to get his phenomenal IQ.

The Liberal Arts, as the classical curriculum is known, are called that because they are meant to liberate man from ignorance and indecent slavery to falsehood. This is why tyrants and schemers hate classical learning. In Nazi Germany, Archbishop Josef Frings of Cologne lamented: “The clergy are no longer allowed to give instruction in the elementary schools, and religious instruction has been reduced to a minimum, if not cut altogether.” This was not a threat exclusive to Germany or occupied Belgium or Vichy France. In neutral Ireland the bishops opposed a “School Attendance Bill,” eventually ruled unconstitutional by the highest judiciary bench, the Cúirt Uachtaracha, which would have required parents to send children only to state-approved schools.

Pope Pius XII called the Catholic schools in the United States our Church’s greatest treasure. The encroaching Servile State compromises that. Already debilitated by attrition (in fifty years, enrollment in the Archdiocese of New York has dropped by nearly 150,000), there is a danger that the state will structure the curriculum in ways that contradict the liberating philosophy of classical education, and do so without consulting pastors and parents. A government-sponsored “universal pre-Kindergarten” program requires that Catholicism be taught only in a syncretistic sense, and that religious objects in our classrooms be concealed. This disdains the fact that frees the mind from servility to the state: the Three R’s need the great R of religion.

Archbishop Frings later became a Cardinal (and his theological advisor would become Pope Benedict XVI). He told the civil government, in words broadcast over the Vatican Radio: “It is the parents’ duty to see that the children learn the truth, the more so since everything is done on the other side to imbue our children with an un-Christian spirit and to prejudice them against the Church of Christ.”

Apocalypse: Stat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis by Fr. George W. Rutler

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FROM THE PASTOR
September 21, 2014
by Fr. George W. Rutler

It is my opinion as I write this on the evening of September 15, that the world will not end tonight. If you are able to read this on the following Sunday, you will know that I was right. If I am wrong, nothing made of matter really matters anymore. That is the whole point to thinking about the end of the world, or “apocalypse.” Every material consideration, concern, obsession and distraction will vanish when all creation is subsumed into the Creator, so that God will be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Our Lord warned that speculation about the end times is futile. He knew that there would be fanatics and demagogues stirring the crowds with claims that the end is just around the corner. We should not go “running after them” (Luke 17:23). False evangelists find that sort of thing good for business (though I suspect they invest some of their donations in long-term Treasury bonds), but Dr. Billy Graham, a far more estimable representative of the Evangelical school, says it is hard not to think that we may be approaching the end of the world when you see all the terrible portents these days. Pope Francis has not declared the end of the world, but he has said that it seems we are moving piece by piece toward World War III. Given technology, such a conflict could be hard to distinguish from the consummation of all that is, at least on this planet.

Secular thinkers may mock apocalyptic theology, but they have their own version of it in dire predictions about economic disaster (recall the Y2K hysteria of 2000) and global warming/cooling/change—or whatever may be its new nom du jour. There may be substance to some of that, but it is unscientific of scientists to treat an hypothesis as an absolute conclusion. Then ecology becomes its own theology, and anyone who disagrees is a heretic. Even if everything were to be melting or freezing, anticipation of the end of the world would not be a cause of reverence, but of anxiety. Instead of saying “Come, Lord Jesus!” the atheist cannot help but moan, “Oh my God!!”

Jesus says “Be not anxious about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34), because he is in control. Without him, we are out of control.

As William Butler Yeats wrote in The Second Coming:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

When things seem to be spinning out of control, just look to Jesus on the Cross. There is the love that made the world and that will bring it back to him. Stat crux dum volvitur orbis. “The Cross is steady while the world is turning.”

We are now posting MP3 audio files of the gospel and homily of the 10:00am Sunday Mass.

Access the MP3 files of this year’s homilies.

If you enjoy reading these newsletters, please express your support with a Donation, of any amount, to the Church of St. Michael.

Our website is http://www.StMichaelNYC.com

The war is being fought by enemies of God, deluded by the conceit that they are fighting for God by Fr. George W. Rutler

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FROM THE PASTOR
September 14, 2014
by Fr. George W. Rutler

I do not like most jargon, as it diminishes the creative power of the noble English language rightly used. For instance, I do not like to be told by bureaucratic sorts to “prioritize.” (Apparently, the first recorded instance of its use was in the 1972 presidential campaign.) As with all things, Christ the Living Word put it better when he said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). God and his promise of eternal life should have priority over every other desire or concern.

Recently, many television viewers complained about a news bulletin covering the beheading of the journalist and devout Catholic, James Foley. Their objection was not to the horror of the news, but that it had interrupted the broadcast of a soap opera. We are learning quickly that people with that defective kind of priority will soon find out the hard way that life is not a soap opera. We are now engaged in a war, whether or not some politicians hesitate to call it that, and it must have priority over all other interests.

This is so hard for an indulged and selfish culture to accept, inasmuch as it means acknowledging that good and evil exist, though many would prefer to ignore the latter. Christians are being martyred in the Middle East, and public officials still find it hard to mention that those who are being crucified, beheaded, and driven from their homes are suffering because they are Christians.

The auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, Shlemon Warduni, said on Vatican radio: “We have to ask the world: Why are you silent? Why do not you speak out? Do human rights exist, or not? And if they exist, where are they? There are many, many cases that should arouse the conscience of the whole world: Where is Europe? Where is America?” The genocide of Christians, who have been in Iraq since shortly after the Resurrection, does not seem to have priority in the attention of many in our country.

As this suffering continues, many in the United States are willing to tolerate heresy and moral decadence in a vain attempt to “get along” with others. While Christians must “love the sinner and hate the sin,” there are an increasing number of people who are intimidated into enabling the sinner to advertise his sin. In 1992, Cardinal O’Connor said that compromising Catholic truth for the sake of political correctness “was not worth one comma in the Apostles’ Creed.”

The holy martyrs in the Middle East honor the Church and atone for our degeneracy. Their bishops are willing to struggle and die with them. They must be amazed that bishops and people in other places have their priorities so wrong.

We are now posting MP3 audio files of the gospel and homily of the 10:00am Sunday Mass.

Access the MP3 files of this year’s homilies.

If you enjoy reading these newsletters, please express your support with a Donation, of any amount, to the Church of St. Michael.

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INDEPENDENCE DAY: Sympathy for King George? by Fr. George W. Rutler

george IIIFROM THE PASTOR
July 6, 2014
by Fr. George W. Rutler

The extended Independence Day weekend occasions some reflections on patriotism. The word is variously defined. Tolstoy called it an absolute vice, the essence of stupidity and immorality. In a famous essay in the 1980s, shortly after he converted to Catholicism, the Scottish philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre, called it a central moral virtue. He drew on Augustine and Aquinas to shape his case: “. . . if I do not understand the enacted narrative of my own individual life as embedded in the history of my country . . . I will not understand what I owe to others or what others owe to me, for what crimes of my nation I am bound to make reparation, for what benefits to my nation I am bound to feel gratitude. Understanding what is owed to and by me and understanding the history of the communities of which I am a part is . . . one and the same thing.”

Not long before St. Peter was crucified by a mad emperor, he had declared: “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17). This is more than pragmatic politics. Like St. Peter, St. Thomas More got the order of obedience right, saying that he was “the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” A true patriot would not think of honoring God as a mere ruler, nor fearing a mere ruler as God.

Just as there was an amazing explosion of artistic talent concentrated in Renaissance Italy, so too was the American Revolution a time of extraordinary acumen on display. George Washington had all the gifts needed to be a true Father of the Country. Alexander Hamilton put his unsurpassed genius to work in various ways of national service. Others knew the temptations of envy and venality, but managed to subsume them under a higher cause.

Sometimes around July 4, I make a case for the widely misunderstood King George III, most recently on the Crisis Magazine website. There still are people, unthinking thralls of cliché, who call him a “tyrant.” The King himself said that George Washington was “the greatest man in the world.” Had they ever met, they would have enjoyed each other’s company.

However one defines patriotism, Benjamin Franklin’s words still obtain—to paraphrase: We have been given a republic, if we can keep it. The patriot’s obligation to live a life of virtue is best kept by knowing the difference between earthly and heavenly cities. Thus the final stanza of Sir Cecil Spring-Rice’s poem:

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

 

 

We are now posting MP3 audio files of the gospel and homily of the 10:00am Sunday Mass.

Access the MP3 files of this year’s homilies.

 

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Remembering Sts. Peter and Paul by Fr. George W. Rutler

sts-peter-and-paulFROM THE PASTOR
June 29, 2014
by Fr. George W. Rutler

There are personal memories, such as those kept in diaries and scrapbooks, and sometimes kept only in the heart; and there are collective memories recorded on cenotaphs and invoked on memorial days and shared at family reunions. Cicero said that to be ignorant of the past is to remain always a child. That is not the childlikeness that walks the way to heaven; it is the childishness that sees no way at all. Moses said, “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness . . .” (Deuteronomy 8:2). And before that he said, “Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 6:12).

On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Church remembers how their deaths planted the Faith in Rome. It is rare for a saint’s feast to replace the ordinary propers of the Mass on Sunday. On a wall of the North American College in Rome is inscribed, “O Roma felix, quae duorum Principum es consecrata glorioso sanguine! (O happy Rome, which was consecrated by the glorious blood of the two Princes!)”

St. Peter urges us to “remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles” (2 Peter 3:2). St. Paul encouraged the Christians in unruly Corinth: “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2). Both of these men were very different, and did not enjoy compatible temperaments (saints are not inevitably easy to get along with), but they were bound by a holy memory that had changed their lives.

Christianity is what it is because it is much more than that kind of human remembering which when strong is fidelity and when weak is nostalgia. At the center of Christian living is a kind of hyper-remembering, the Eucharistic anamnesis, in both the Roman Canon and the Divine Liturgy of the Easter Church. This is not simply the antidote to amnesia: it is an active participation in what is being remembered. It is the difference between recalling and calling, between representing and presenting. Thus the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ: his Body and Blood and Soul and Divinity.

St. Peter had a vivid memory of the Perfect Victim’s crucifixion, which is why he asked to be crucified upside down, as he felt unworthy to imitate what he remembered seeing on Calvary. And St. Paul could remember every word the Master spoke to him on the Damascus road. They had no need of diaries or scrapbooks, because the Master was with them at the Holy Table, fulfilling his unfailing promise: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

 

 

We are now posting MP3 audio files of the gospel and homily of the 10:00am Sunday Mass.

Access the MP3 files of this year’s homilies.

 

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