Prayer of Thanksgiving for Deliverance From COVID

Restrictions are being reduced and the number of patients is declining. It seems to me an appropriate time to give thanks to God for delivering us safely through this pestilential season.


PSALM 94
Come let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God our savior. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
For in his hand are all the ends of the earth: and the heights of the mountains are his. For the sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. Come let us adore and fall down: and weep before the Lord that made us.

For he is the Lord our God: and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. To day if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts: As in the provocation, according to the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, they proved me, and saw my works. Forty years long was I offended with that generation, and I said: These always err in heart. And these men have not known my ways: so I swore in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest.

Amen


The prayer in times of pestilence was pinned from March 18, 2020 until May 18, 2021. The Prayer of Thanksgiving will be pinned for the same time plus one, until July 19, 2022

CCLI – Mary In The Coalmine

It occurred to me recently that it is a Divine gift that Protestant sects do not acknowledge or reverence Mary. I was raised Anglican, and the fundamental text which distinguishes the Church of England from Catholicism is the 39 Articles. It’s a fascinating document, and one I was not taught about or realize existed until I started exploring Catholicism. No surprise–it’s an incoherent mess. For example, Article XXV on the Sacraments lists Confirmation as a non-sacrament “grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles”–yet I looked up the Articles this morning in my copy of the Book of Common Prayer which I was given in 2004 when I was confirmed. Why I was confirmed, given the corruption noted in Article XXV, who can say.

I digress–I could wax philosophical about each and every of the 39 Articles but the one I am interested in is Article XXI, which is headlined “Of Purgatory” but which in one sentence dismisses several imporant doctrines including reverence of the Saints (and so Mary). See here:

XXII. Of Purgatory.
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

I say it is a Divine Gift that protestant sects do not acknowledge or reverence Mary because it helps us to avoid confusion. Through Mary, we can avoid the dangers of alluring theologies; through Mary, we can bring them back into communion with the Church.

Mary is important as medatrix of graces–befriending her through frequent prayer and devotion is never wasted effort. Including Mary in our lives is to enrich our lives. Her absence from protestant sects reflects the dearth of spiritual goods found in them. I wonder if Protestant sects formalized their non-devotion to Mary in response to feeling her absence, or if Mary abandoned them after they made their doctrines.

Fulton Sheen believes that Mary, through devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, will be responsible for the conversion of Islam. Fatima is the name of a daughter of Muhammed, who was the namesake of a Moorish princess who fell in love with a Portuguese Catholic prince, who gave their name to the place of the Apparition. Islam acknowledges Mary similarly to how the Church of England acknowledges Mary, but neither offers her special devotion.

Devotion to Mary must begin at home if souls are to be won for Christ, though. To Jesus, Through Mary!

(e) – Afterthought about Bad Sovereigns

It is easy to be obedient to a good Sovereign. It is hard to be obedient to a bad Sovereign. But the bad Sovereign needs our obedience more because our obedience (and also our forbearance) lends itself to both social stability and our sanctification. There are many stories of Saints whose path to holiness passed through a monastery with an ill tempered superior.

Our duty of obedience goes up to and no further than the point of Tyranny, where they become an evil Sovereign by enforcing some moral evil as truth, and our duty becomes one of disobedience.

I’ll leave you to figure out how that works in a Democracy.

CCL – The Enemy Knows Our Name (But Not Who We Are)

I want to connect a few dots I’ve seen recently.

  1. The Addams Family animated movie (2019)
    • A major theme of the movie is individualism, cinematically juxtaposed against “tradition”. Tradition, according to the movie, is the way our ancestors did things, and doesn’t make us happy because it doesn’t allow us to do things our own way.
  2. Klaus animated movie (also 2019)
    • A major theme of the movie is that tradition is bad, illustrated by the longstanding feud between the Krums and Ellingboes. They don’t know why they fight, they do because of tradition. This tradition has kept their town poor and angry and resentful; only when the tradition is cast off can the town be illuminated with kindness and fellowship.
  3. A roadsign by a gas station in Britain which is famous for Humorous quips
    • The sign said “Tradition is peer pressure from dead people”. It’s framed as a negative: Don’t let dead people bully you into doing something you don’t want to do.

What stuck out to me about these three data points is that Tradition is called out by name. The enemy is attacking Tradition, generally. But they don’t know which tradition or any specific things about the tradition which will save the world–the Christian tradition.

So that made me realize that the Enemy knows our name insofar as they know something about Tradition is worthy of their big-budget condemnation; they don’t know who we are insofar as they don’t know which tradition to condemn or what about it they don’t like.

CCXLIX – Winning With Parasitism

Wood over at his blog made a quip about liberalism, to which I had this to say:

“Liberalism wins by making you think that liberalism is a means to winning and not the end to be won.”

I want to follow up on this idea by thinking about what we mean by winning.

I think what Wood meant in his original post was political victory. By engaging in Liberalism–i.e. liberal institutions and rituals–any given group can achieve victory. It’s the “embarrassed millionaire” theory of politics. John Steinbeck said “In America, there are no poor, only temporarily embarrassed millionaires”. This was an economic point, but likewise, with liberalism, there are no lay-folk, only temporarily embarrassed Presidents. Winning in this sense means taking control of the political system through liberalism.

I added to Wood’s point by suggesting that, beyond serving as a means to winning (political victory), Liberalism is the end to be won. I wasn’t thinking about anything specific but considering it now, this takes a Darwinian sense.

If political ideologies are in a basic world and competing for fitness to survive, then Liberalism wins by reproducing. We know by discussing our faith that Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi can help us to be intentional about our faith life. It works with political ideology too: Your actions influence and are influenced by your beliefs and your prayers. In other words, Liberalism cares that you vote and not who you vote for because when you vote you consent that the mechanism is appropriate to address the problem foremost in your mind.

Lets keep the Economic metaphor going for a moment. Entrepreneurship is a mechanism for mobilizing resources to satisfy some unmet demand. If I demand clean gutters, an Entrepreneur can come along and offer to clear them in exchange for money. If I pay him, I am consenting that the exchange is appropriate to resolving the problem. Exchanging goods (money) for services (clean gutters) is a reasonable way of solving the problem.

If I offered the entrepreneur high-fives in exchange for clean gutters, and the entrepreneur accepts, then the entrepreneur has established that high-fives are a reasonable means of solving problems. The entrepreneur must accept high-fives both from the next customer and the next engagement with the same customer, or else be inconsistent with his own beliefs. Likewise, because one problem has been resolved with a sequence of high-fives, you have learned that high fives are reasonable and will try to solve other problems by offering high-fives as payment.

Likewise, if the problem you have in mind is “the tax rate is too high” and politicians offer to lower taxes in exchange for your vote, then when you vote you are consenting that voting is a reasonable means of exchange to resolve that problem. But really–politicians can’t promise to lower taxes the way the entrepreneur can promise to clean your gutter. So the politician can promise to try to lower taxes.

Both the voter and the politician are bound by that exchange. You agree that votes are reasonable compensation for attempting to solve a problem; the politician agrees that attempts at solving a problem are worth a vote. Both parties have consented and both parties must live by that consent.

Liberalism then perpetuates it’s species by inducing little acts of liberalism which allow the ideology to lay it’s eggs in our brain. Repeated acts of liberalism feed the parasitic eggs, and eventually the eggs hatch and larvae eat us out from the inside and we become empty husks with single minded loyalty to liberalism as an ideology. Liberalism has won.

Voting is a good macguffin for Liberalism because it is the primary means of exchange, just as money is the primary economic means of exchange. This is why when I refused to vote for the first time, I felt liberated. Some eggs in my brain atrophied and died, and liberalism as an ideology lost the battle for survival in my brain alone.

Another question becomes natural from this point: What other ideologies are competing for attention? What are their means of exchange?

A barter system is where both parties to a transaction receive some solution to a problem in exchange for giving some solution to a problem. I need a cow, you need a pig, I will give you my pig for your cow. Money is not essential to productively solve problems, but economics is fundamentally about solving problems and meeting demand. For lay-folk, politics is about our relationship with government, and just as money is not essential to solving problems, neither is voting essential to the relationship with government. So the alternative which I subscribe to is what I will call Neo-Feudalism. The problem to be solved is administration of the Public Good; the means of exchange is obedience. I want the public good to be maintained, the Sovereign promises to do so and in exchange asks for my obedience. I am bound by this exchange, so the next sovereign that comes in I must make the same offer and so make the same exchange, or else be inconsistent with my own beliefs.

AMDG

CCXLVIII – Peasant Parable

Or, Where to find me until the Orcs come

(with apologies to Zippy)

I’ve talked a lot in this blog about the Peasant faith, or living a peasant life. When I talk to my friend, Hambone, about these ideas, we always come back to the idea of only worrying about those things we can control, and not spending too much of our time worrying about the weather. If it rains it rains. Have I sown good fruit? Have I cared for it? Will it grow and bear more fruit?

The only thing we can control is us.

The things in reach, our tools, our farm–these are our friends, our families, our communities. We must take care of them, invest in them, sow good fruit and watch it grow.

Anything beyond that is uncontrollable, and so the weather. My party won an election? Sunshine! My party lost? Rain! Taxes are up? More rain! Catholics are listened to? Sunshine! Catholics are persecuted? Rain!

What can I do about the rain? How much can I throw my hat before God makes it sunny? If I pound my fists into the barren earth, will that change the outcome? Maybe if I plant my fields well enough, the rain will actually help them to bear fruit.

Zippy said he would be digging at the foundations of Mordor.

You can find me on the farm in the Shire. Different strokes for different folks, all of us doing our best to bear a good crop and stay out of the rain.

AMDG

CCXLVII – Consistency vs. Accuracy

I have mentioned before that I am an accountant. There’s a phenomenon I have observed wherein accountants want things to look the same, or they want things to look right.

Neither approach is technically wrong, to be clear. It’s just an interesting character trait–how an accountant falls on this dichotomy tells you something about their attitudes as people, and that is what justifies my making this observation on this blog.

The typical relationship accountants have with an organization is something akin to an advisor to a king. We aren’t on the throne, but we are close to it and can see if the king is being listened to. The king might ask us for advice and we will turn to our stacks of ten-column paper to speak the truth to him. We simultaneously monitor the health of the organization and advise as to its management.

Consistency Accounting follows the principle that the performance we see this month should closely resemble the performance we saw last month. The virtues of this include that an accountant will know if anything unusual happens because it will stick out on various reports, and be easily identified as unusual. If you are not familiar with accounting, a term that we live by is “Accrual Accounting” which means that if I pay a bill for a whole years worth of some service–say $12,000 paid in January–I can spread the recognition of that expense out over the whole year. So instead of seeing a $12,000 expense in January, I will see a $1,000 expense in the same place every month for 12 months. Accrual accounting is what makes this possible. Consistency accounting relies on accruals, such that future months can be forecast because much of the activity is being accrued. As such, consistency accounting is something of a procrustean bed whereby transactions are forced to fit into the noise level of normal month-over-month variation.

Accuracy accounting follows the principle that the performance we see this month should reflect events that actually happened. Accuracy accounting still uses accruals, but when something sticks out the question is less “should we have spread this out” and more “did this actually happen”. Sometimes $12,000 expenses happen in a sufficiently large organization without warning. It’s not a failure to recognize it all at once and say “we need warning about this next time”.

I am not a fan of consistency accounting because it loses sight of what is happening and focuses on what we want to happen. It’s the natural result of performance evaluation’s being based on financial results. Middle managers have an incentive to hack the books to save their bonus rather than focus on saving the company.

Not really a point to this, just an observation.

AMDG

CCXLVI – On Ecumenism

All good things come from God, and God loves all His creation, despite our brokenness, because He calls us to Him and wills our good. God willing our good means that He wills our highest good. Because all good things come from God, when God wills our good He wills that we return to Him.

This creates a conundrum when we talk about ecumenism. Ecumenism in popular parlance is the policy of benign neighborliness to other faiths. Christ in in all Christian sects–it cannot be denied; the love of Christ even from a protestant still makes me his brother. God is in all the world’s religions–it cannot be denied; we are called beyond ourselves to the transcendent, and there are fewer and fewer who acknowledge this.

That Christ can be found in some way in protestantism, or God in some way in other religions, does not excuse the fact that they do not worship God, as God properly so understood. The doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Church is still true.

And yet, further wrinkles to consider still: A spiritual reading I came across recently described how St. Michael the Archangel is patron of Gods chosen people, which B.C. meant the Hebrews and A.D. means Christians. This does not mean that St. Michael has abandoned modern day Jews, rather that he has a special care of them as they need his help more now. Likewise, in Muslim tradition it was the Angel Gabriel who gave their faith to Mohammed; for this reverence St. Gabriel surely watches over Islam and takes especial care for them. If loving care and watchfulness is good enough for the Angels, surely it is good enough for us, too.

And yet! Salvation is the most urgent work of our lives, and we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Even as Catholics we cannot rest easy, presuming for ourselves confidence in salvation. We must fret more and more, that we might be good examples for our brothers and sisters in the human condition; we must fret on their behalf the way St. Michael and St. Gabriel fret for the Jews and Muslims.

Let the question be, “how may a Catholic in good conscience relate to these other faiths?” The answer, then, is that we must surrender to God the hard work of salvation of these souls. For our part, we must do the hard work of governing our own lives, and the lives of those entrusted to our care. We must be good examples and custodians of those neighbors immediately around us. If we put ourselves at God’s disposal, He will work through us in the lives of those who most need to find Holy Mother Church. In the meantime, we must not violate the law of loving our neighbors, yet we must be uncompromising in our obedience to our doctrines and in our devotion to our Lord.

The arc of salvation history is long, even if life is short. God’s plan is bigger than all of us, so let’s just make sure we do our part well.

CCXLV – Keeping Up with President Jones

A feature of democracy is that anyone can rule. It is also a flaw.

When even Joe the Plumber can be King, instead of thinking of obedience to the King, everyone thinks “well if he can do it I could surely do much better”.

Democracy kills the relationship between Sovereign and Subject because instead of the subjects learning to love their sovereign, they begin planning to do his job better. It’s like keeping up with the Joneses but the Joneses are King so the only way to one-up is to be a better King.

CCXLIV – Christian Civilization

Western Civilization is held up by some as the fortress which must be defended from infiltrators and adversaries. Western Civilization has come to mean anything good that has come out of Europe. Sometimes, thanks to the association with Rome, Christianity gets lumped in with the rest as a fruit of Western Civilization.

Looking at “Western Civilization” right now, it feels like the fruit is rotten, and morally depraved. Westernizing a nation usually means ruining their moral character and plundering their resources. The West and Christianity used to be aligned, but they are not anymore. As I put it in an offhand comment recently, the West has ceased to be Christian and Christianity has ceased to be confined to the West. The good things about the West really come from Christianity, so it really ought to be called Christian Civilization.

The great thing about Christian Civilization as a concept is that it frees the idea from Eurocentrism. There are Catholics around the world who share more in common with me than your average millennial European. Africa of all places is a sanctuary of traditionalism. So there’s no reason why the West necessarily needs to be the last bastion of Christendom. In fact, it is probably Christianity which will save the west rather than the other way around.

Christianity is the great unifier. No matter how different two people are, a common worship of God–properly understood–can build more bridges than simply being steeped in the culture of the West can.

CCXLIII – Apologetical Skeleton Keys: Everyone Wants (Their) Heaven

Everyone wants to go to Heaven, and everyone is motivated by that great endeavor. But not everyone has the same idea of Heaven, so everyone wants to go to their heaven until they learn of a better one.

There are two kinds of people in the world. There are people who have woken up to their own inclinations, and so can regard them with dispassionate assessment; and there are people who have not woken up to their own inclinations, and so consider them natural and unavoidable.

The first sort of people, when they turn their attention to matters of faith, are capable of seeing how their inclinations are like a broken rudder on a ship, and it hinders their ability to steer. By removing obstacles from their own inclinations, they can restore their ship and maintain focus on the proper object of their faith, that is, God.

The second sort of people are unaware that anything is amiss. The ship leans a little to the left, sure, but you can correct for that by oversteering to the right, like this, see? When talking about faith to people of this sort, it is useful to find out what they mean when they use words that sound familiar, because they might have a different idea than you do, or than the Church intends.

One such is the idea of Heaven. The point has been articulated frequently that everyone worships, but it occurred to me recently that it is also true that everyone is motivated by Heaven. The basic idea is eternal paradise. The Properly Formed Catholic has a properly formed idea of Heaven. An atheist doesn’t believe in heaven as such but does believe the Earth can be turned into some kind of paradise. That is why atheists so often turn out to be left-liberals and modernists: they strive with all their effort to fix the world so that they can experience paradise before they evaporate into the cosmos.

Understanding what someone’s idea of Heaven is helps to understand how they relate to the world and how they relate to God. People unaware of their inclinations, the second sort of people from earlier, will believe in these ideas as simply and naturally as if it were the only truth in the world. So they will speak confidently and without hesitation about what they believe to be true, and likewise become grievously offended at any suggestion that their idea is wrong.

One must not try to correct different ideas of heaven directly, because they will perceive you as trying to destroy heaven, and so they will defend it. Apologetically speaking, you aren’t trying to get them to doubt their faith, but doubt themselves. When they doubt themselves, they will begin to seek answers and by the grace of God that quest will lead to Truth.