Sunday, November 29, 2009

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Today marks the beginning of the Church's Liturgical Year with the Season of Advent. Advent is not only about joyfully commemorating the birth of the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. Advent is also about awaiting his return with prayer and joy.

The Church Liturgical Year is a beautiful way to grow and watch the passing of the year. It is fitting that our Church Year begins with the waiting and then birth of the Christ. Our lives don't culminate at Bethlehem and the Nativity. Rather, that is where our lives truly begin with the Incarnation of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. At the beginning of every year we joyfully and prayerfully await the commemoration of his Birth, the moment when Heaven touched Earth. This season is not an end, it is THE Beginning. It points us from the Manager to Calvary and Jerusalem. It points us to Galilee. It points us to His return.

Merry Christmas, but first, a joyful and prayerful Advent as we wait for His Coming.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I would strongly recommend as spiritual reading this Advent Season, Bishop Fulton Sheen's Life of Christ. It is a masterpiece and is an example of Bishop Sheen's brilliant and clear insight that made him so loved.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Thursday is Thanksgiving; a day filled with family, football, and food. It is a good time to give thanks for the many blessings our country has been given. We are a Shining City on a Hill for the entire world. We are the beacon of Freedom and Liberty and have shed countless drops of blood to ensure that gift is enjoyed by as many people as possible. We possess the best (albeit very imperfect) government (Republic) and economic system (Free Market Capitalism) in the world. We are indeed a Nation blessed by God, for we are a Nation Under God.

Below I am posting President George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation:

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wife, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Rich Lowry has an excellent piece on National Review Online on Thanksgiving as well.

I also ask that everyone take a few moments to think and pray for the Men and Women of the US Armed Forces who will not be celebrating with family tomorrow as they seek to ensure the security of this country and to give liberty to captives.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Milwaukee Meets Her New Bishop

The Vatican announced that Bishop Jerome E. Listecki would serve as the next Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

He was initially appointed an auxiliary bishop of Chicago by Pope John Paul the Great and in 2005 took charge of the Diocese of LaCrosse. Now, in 2009 he will come to Milwaukee to take over the task of rejuvenation of the Catholic identity of SE Wisconsin begun by Archbishop Dolan.

What is most hopeful about Bishop Listecki is his past success with vocations to the Priesthood. Just as Dolan helped reinvigorate Vocations after the disastrous Weakland years, Bishop Listecki has a proven track record. He ordained six men in 2009 to the LaCrosse Priesthood. He also helped oversee the ordination of nine other men for the Archdiocese in his short tenure. Twenty-Six Women from the Diocese also entered consecrated religious life. His concern for Vocations speaks well for the continuing growth of that area in Milwaukee.

The Journal Sentinel's highlights that Bishop Listecki is not likely a choice to make Progressive "Catholics" happy. That is a good thing. He spoke out against Speaker Nancy Pelosi's heretical argument that her support for Abortion is consistent with Faithful Catholicism. He also joined in the criticism of the University of Notre Dame over their choice of a commencement speaker.

The Bishops of Wisconsin greeted Bishop Listecki as he moves across the state and issued statements welcoming him to the task.

And here is Bishop Listecki's statement on his appointment.

Of particular note is that Bishop Listecki is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserves. For the rest of his biography click here.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is blessed to have Archbishop Dolan followed by Bishop Listecki. He will be a strong Orthodox voice, a Bishop focused on Vocations, and a friendly pastoral bishop for the Archdiocese.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Victory of the Free World

Today marks the Twentieth Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The Fall of the Wall symbolized the Victory of the Free West over the Totalitarian Oppression of the Soviet dominated Eastern Bloc. This is an anniversary of Freedom and something that needs to be celebrated throughout the Free World as Our Victory.

The Wall fell because of the tireless efforts of three leaders of the Free World. Pope John Paul the Great, President Ronald Reagan, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Pope John Paul the Great reached across wall to his native Poland to inspire the rising of Solidarity which cracked the seemingly invincible Soviet control of the Warsaw Pact.

President Reagan had the courage to speak Truth to Power by confronting evil directly. He dubbed the Soviet Empire the "Evil Empire" and it was true. He did not seek dialogue to find common ground, but dialogue from a position of truth and strength. One of his greatest moments came in Berlin on 12 June 1987:

"We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

President Reagan envisioned a world without the Soviet Empire. Without the Berlin Wall. History proved him prescient. On 9 November 1989, the Wall was broken. Freedom had triumphed over oppression and totalitarian communism.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jihad at Ft. Hood

A horrific tragedy occurred at Ft. Hood, TX on Thursday. It is an event that we will likely be thinking about and trying to understand for a long time. MAJ Nidal Malik Hassan murdered at least a dozen of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. It was an Act of Terrorism.

The FBI investigation will likely reveal further information about his motives and any ties to possible Jihadist Organization. My personal view is that MAJ Hassan acted alone. He was his own terrorist group and likely not associated with Al Qaeda, the Islamic Brotherhood, Hizbollah, or a host of other groups. Reports indicate that he shouted "Allah Akbar" the battle-cry of Islamic Militants (but also millions of faithful Muslims stating a fact, God is indeed, Great). That does not mean he is an Islamic Terrorist or tied to any group, but information on his political past, indicate at least an affinity for the cause of Islamic Jihadists. He was vehemently opposed to the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. He supported suicide bombers and believed that Muslims had an obligation to fight Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also reportedly had a troubled military career. MAJ Hassan was a troubled man who had expressed sympathy with Islamic Jihadists and on Thursday became one himself.

Victor David Hanson, the outstanding historian and author of military history at Stanford University placed the actions of MAJ Hassan in its wider context on The Corner at National Review Online:

Yet I think it is fair to say that the Fort Hood mass murder could be seen in two larger contexts:

1) a disturbing pattern of attacking American soldiers on bases or offices inside the United States (e.g., the 2005 plot to shoot down military aircraft leaving the National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y.; the 2007 mass-murder plot at Fort Dix; the shooting at the Little Rock, Ark., recruiting station, etc.), and

2) what I once in two NRO essays called al Qaedism, or the spontaneous rage of disaffected Muslims, who connect their own failures in some sense to generic radical Islamist sentiments, and act out that anger by running over the innocent (San Francisco or North Carolina), shooting Jews (the LAX or Seattle attacks), or shooting up malls or sniping. These are of course different from but in addition to the 24 organized plots that have been broken up since 9/11, four of them this year alone.

In reaction officials and news people often opt for therapeutic exegeses — stress, often of the post-traumatic sort, ill-feeling and bias shown Muslims, family problems, or brainwashing by nefarious outside actors — to explain the cold-blooded nature of the murdering. (I am watching on the news a family member eagerly explain past prejudice shown the killer and, despite his adept handling of firearms to shoot over 40 people, the murderer's being ill-at-ease with firearms.)

Far more rarely do they ever suggest that the Islamist notion abroad that America is to blame for mostly self-induced pathologies in the Islamic world mostly goes unquestioned here at home — and as a result filters down to the lone angry and violent here as the belief that there is some sort of cosmic justification that can amplify their own outrage at a sense of personal failure or setback.

If it is shown that the present killer openly in the past expressed sympathies for or tolerance of Islamist violence abroad, one would have expected, in the current climate of fear of being seen as illiberal or judgmental, little repercussions or formal preemptory action to preclude the possibility of future violence.

In other words, the narrative after 9/11 largely remains that Americans have given in to illegitimate "fear and mistrust" of Muslims in general. A saner approach would be to acknowledge that there is a small minority of Muslims who channel generic Islamist fantasies, so that we can assume that either formal terrorist plots or individual acts of murder will more or less occur here every three to six months.
At some point, if both these organized plots (see the most recent in Boston) and isolated acts of lone gunmen and homicidal drivers continue, and if the prevailing theme continues to be fears of American intolerance and unfairness to Muslims after 9/11, I think the public will resent the disconnect between what they are told to think and what they believe, on the basis of some evidence.

What is important ultimately is that the ideology of Jihadism does not require a sophistitcated cellular network to conduct operations against the West. One man with a weapon and the ideology can inflict great pain and suffering on the population. That is true here with MAJ Hassan. One troubled Army Psychiatrist who was sympathetic to the Jihadist Ideology killed and wounded his fellow Soldiers. Whatever his motives or background, he became, a one-man Terror Cell. In the War on Terror there is no front line and there is no rear area.

We can thank the quick reaction of Emergency Personnel, Civilians and Military within the Processing Center, and the bravery of SGT Kimberly Munley who despite her own wounds disabled MAJ Hassan saving more lives. These are the heroes of Ft. Hood, TX.