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Muslim poses as liturgical dancer, tries to kill archbishop October 13, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in foolishness, General Catholic, Society.
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I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to:

Proof that liturgical dance should be avoided at all costs. “Sudanese Cardinal Survives Assassination Attempt,” from Zenit, October 12 (thanks to Roland):

KHARTOUM, Sudan, OCT. 12 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Khartoum escaped unhurt from an assassination attempt that was directed at him on Sunday, the feast of St. Daniele Comboni.The Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA) reported today that during a Mass held at the Comboni playground in Khartoum, marking the anniversary of the 1881 death of St. Daniele Comboni, a man with a dagger posed as liturgical dancer and managed to come within a few steps of Archbishop Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako.

The man was apprehended, and has been identified as Hamdan Mohamed Abdurrahman, an Arab of the nomadic Messiria tribe from Southern Kurdufan. He is in police custody as authorities determine his intentions and whether or not he was acting alone.

There are so many reasons to despise liturgical dance.  I would think that the safety of our episcopate would demand a complete and total end to this barbaric practice, now!

Two transcendent celebrations of the Mass October 13, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Art and Architecture, awesomeness, General Catholic, Latin Mass.
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Transcendent – surpassing the reality of this crude matter around us, and touching a bit of Heaven

First, check out the altar/reredo:

So, maybe you’re thinking…….that’s nice.  Not that special. Check it out in this lighting:

Something about that just really captivates me.  It’s ethereal.

Something else a bit…….transcendent.  A Benedictine Monk from Norcia celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form:

Too medieval?  Too triumphal?  Not for me!  I think that’s sublime – a poor monk/priest, in his coarse habit, celebrating Mass.  There is something completely timeless about that.  Something that transcends the normal, and provides a heightened sense of the spiritual, of the things of God. 

Thanks to New Liturgical Movement for the great pics.

Fantastic article describes the imminent human population implosion October 13, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, sickness, Society.
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It’s not just “advanced” countries that aren’t having children – the total fertility rate for the entire human population  has dropped to its lowest rate since at least the dark ages.  That was a great time, wasn’t it?  The US is on the cusp of facing a very dire problem.  With the birthrates of other countries collapsing, the internal pressure that has led to immigration, largely to the US, will also collapse, and the immigration we need to sustain our slowly growing population will end.  Then what?  Native born white women presently average 1.7 live births per woman per lifetime.  With that kind of birthrate, we can expect a steadily shrinking population, and economic ruin:

From a combined TFR of 3.7 in 1960, U.S. fertility halved to 1.8 in 1980. It has rebounded slightly during the last few decades, but that upward movement has more to do with Hispanic immigration than with increased native fertility. In 2006, the fertility rate of non-Hispanic whites was 1.77; the fertility rate of blacks was 2.0. Of America’s major demographic groups, only Hispanics are above replacement, with a TFR of 2.3. Yet even the Hispanic population has seen its fertility rate fall some 8 percent in the last decade. Indeed, the problem with immigration as it relates to fertility isn’t the old complaint that the newcomers are out-breeding the natives. Rather, the problem is that the newcomers start behaving like natives too soon, with their TFR regressing quickly to the mean. If we are to maintain even our modest 2.06, we need an ever-greater supply of immigrants. 

Today there are 26.6 million legal immigrants living in America and roughly 11.3 million illegals. We need these workers to prop up the entitlement programs we’re no longer having enough babies to fund. In order to keep Social Security and Medicare running, we need a stable ratio of workers to retirees. If we were to keep the ratio at the present level of three workers for every retiree—already lower than it has ever been—America would need to add 44.9 million new immigrants between 2025 and 2035. If we wanted to keep the ratio at 5.2 workers for every retiree—about what it was in 1960, before the collapse of our fertility rate—we’d need to import 10.8 million immigrants every year until 2050. At which point the United States would have 1.1 billion people, 73 percent of whom would be the descendants of recent immigrants.

Putting aside questions of cultural coherence—remember the joke: “Democracy, immigration, multiculturalism: You may pick two”?—it would be logistically impossible to add 10.8 million immigrants a year. As demographer Phillip Longman notes, “such a flow would require the equivalent of building another New York City every ten months or so.” 

There is a supply-side problem, too. Immigrants began streaming over America’s southern border in the 1980s for several reasons. America was safer and freer. There were more and better jobs. But there was also an enormous surplus of labor in Latin America as a result of high fertility rates. In Mexico, for instance, the fertility rate was 6.82 in 1970. It dropped to 5.3 in 1980, 3.61 in 1990, and 2.75 in 2000. It now sits at 2.1. You see this trend across the entire Latin world. Some countries, such as Chile and Costa Rica, are already well below replacement. And when a country’s fertility drops below replacement, people tend to stop emigrating. Consider Puerto Rico. In 1955, Puerto Rico’s fertility rate was 4.97. (The major Puerto Rican migration to America began in the 1950s.) Over time, Puerto Rican fertility diminished. By 2000, it had dipped to 1.99. For 2010, it is estimated to be 1.65….

Our challenge is to balance three needs: (1) a stable population, (2) a plausible ratio of workers-to-retirees, and (3) a manageable number of immigrants. Yet, for instance, to keep the worker-support ratio at high levels would require, as we saw earlier, gargantuan levels of immigration. Keeping immigration at a reasonable level (the U.N. uses 760,000 immigrants a year as a baseline) would mean that our population would increase to 349 million in 2050, but that our worker-support ratio would be cut in half. If we cut off immigration altogether the worker-support ratio would be even lower, and in addition, we’d face rapid population decline.

The simplest answer is for Americans to have more babies.

Well, I certainly agree.  But trying to get people to have more babies is a bear.  Even when I have argued with others on the level of practical merit, and explained that all these social programs everyone is terrified to let go of (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) will simply be unaffordable if we, as Americans, don’t have far more children, at best I get a shrug.  At worst, I get hostility – it’s too expensive, it’s no fun, we can’t go on vacation, we can’t afford the house we want, the car, the pool, the day care!  It’s a matter of religious faith – those who practice a deep religious faith have the hope in the future and the selflessness to turn over to God this part of their lives, and they tend to have large(r) families.  There won’t be a change in birthrate unless and until we have a sweeping re-evangelization of the culture.  I will do my part, and then some, but our neo-pagan hedonist narcissistic culture can only be changed by the action of the Holy Spirit. 

In short, we need a miracle.

If you haven’t read the Pope’s recent address on Mary….. October 13, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, General Catholic, Our Lady.
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…….an extemporaneous address, before the special synod on the Middle East, you really should.  The esteemable Sandro Magister has a translation here

We think of the great powers of today’s history, we think of the anonymous capitals that enslave man, that are no longer something belonging to man, but are an anonymous power that men serve, and by which men are tormented and even slaughtered. They are a destructive power that threatens the world. And then the power of the terrorist ideologies. Violence is done apparently in the name of God, but this is not God: these are false divinities that must be unmasked, that are not God. And then drugs, this power that, like a ravenous beast, stretches its hands over all parts of the earth and destroys: it is a divinity, but a false divinity, which must fall. Or even the way of life promoted by public opinion: today it’s done this way, marriage doesn’t matter anymore, chastity is no longer a virtue, and so on.

These ideologies that are so dominant that they impose themselves by force are divinities. And in the suffering of the saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church of which we are part, these divinities must fall, what is written in the letters to the Colossians and Ephesians must come true: the dominations and powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ.

This fight in which we find ourselves, this weakening of the gods, this fall of the false gods, who fall because they are not divinities but are powers that destroy the world, are spoken of in chapter 12 of Revelation, and with a mysterious image for which, it seems to me, there are nonetheless different fine interpretations. It is said that the dragon directs a great stream of water against the fleeing woman, to sweep her away. And it seems inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river, and it can do no harm. I think that it is easy to interpret what the river stands for: it is these currents that dominate everyone, and want to eliminate the faith of the Church, which seems to have nowhere to stand before the power of these currents that impose themselves as the only way of thinking, the only way of life. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of the simple, which does not allow itself to be swept away by these rivers and saves the mother and saves the son. This is why the psalm says, the first psalm of the midday hour: “The faith of the simple is true wisdom” (cf. Psalm 118:130). This true wisdom of simple faith, which does not let itself be devoured by the waters, is the power of the Church. And we have come back to the Marian mystery.

It is amazing to me that there were people, people in the Church, leaders in the Church, who despised this Pope’s election, who went around “depressed” for days or weeks afterwards.  How can that be?  This man is one of the greatest theologian-Popes in history.  His devotion and love for the Church are beyond question.  How could his election as Pope have been seen as a negative?

Magister also has a column on the Catholic/Orthodox talks on unity.  Things might be as bad as I feared, but I do worry that some in the Church will try to take advantage of the situation to push “the primacy of the local bishop” over the Primacy of the Pope.

How to pray well October 13, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, General Catholic, Our Lady.
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Especially the Rosary, but this can apply to any form of prayer:

From The Secret of the Rosary, by St. Louis Marie de Montfort
With purity of intention:
IT IS NOT SO much the length of a prayer, but the fervor with which it is said which pleases Almighty God and touches His Heart. One single Hail Mary that is said properly is worth more than one hundred and fifty that are badly said. Most Catholics say the Rosary, the whole fifteen mysteries or five of them anyway or, at least a few decades. So why is it then that so few of them give up their sins and go forward in the spiritual life? Surely it must be because they are not saying them as they should. It is a good thing to think over how we should pray if we really want to please God and become more holy. 
With attention:
IN ORDER TO pray well, it is not enough to give expression to our petitions by means of that most excellent of all prayers, the Rosary, but we must also pray with real concentration for God listens more to the voice of the heart than that of the mouth. To be guilty of willful distractions during prayer would show a great lack of respect and reverence; it would make our Rosaries fruitless and would make us guilty of sin. 
How can we expect God to listen to us if we ourselves do not pay attention to what we are saying? Of course, you cannot possibly say your Rosary without having a few involuntary distractions and it is hard to say even one Hail Mary without your imagination troubling you a little (for our imagination is, alas, never still). The one thing you can do, however, is to say your Rosary without giving in to distractions deliberately and you can take all sorts of precautions to lessen involuntary distractions and to control your imagination. 
With this in mind put yourself in the presence of God and imagine that Almighty God and His Blessed Mother are watching you and that your guardian Angel is standing at your right hand, taking your Hail Marys, if they are well said, and using them like roses to make crowns for Jesus and Mary. Above all, do not forget to offer up each decade in honor of one of the mysteries and while you are saying it try to form a picture in your mind of Jesus and Mary in connection with this mystery. 
Fighting distractions:
WHEN THE ROSARY is well said it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and it is more meritorious for the soul than any other prayer. But it is also the hardest prayer to say well and to persevere in, owing especially to the distractions which almost inevitably attend the constant repetition of the same words.
Being human, we easily become tired and slipshod—-but the devil makes these difficulties worse when we are saying the Rosary. Before we even begin he makes us feel bored, distracted or exhausted—-and when we have started praying he oppresses us from all sides. And when, after much difficulty and many distractions, we have finished, he whispers to us: “What you have just said is worthless. It’s useless for you to say the Rosary. You had better get on with other things. It’s only a waste of time to pray without paying attention to what you’re saying; half an hour’s meditation or some spiritual reading would be much better. Tomorrow when you’re not feeling so sluggish you’ll pray better; don’t finish your Rosary until tomorrow.” By tricks of this kind the devil gets us to give up the Rosary altogether or else hardly say it at all, and we keep putting it off or else change to some other devotion. 
Do not listen to the devil, but be of good heart even if your imagination has been bothering you throughout your Rosary, filling your mind with all kinds of distracting thoughts—-as long as you really tried hard to get rid of them as soon as they came. Always remember that the best Rosary is the one with the most merit, and there is more merit in praying when it is hard than when it is easy.
 
This is a major problem for me.  I try very hard to concentrate on the Mysteries of the Rosary, or any other prayer I say, but  my mind is so weak and fragmented that I must fight always to keep it meditating appropriately.  If I’m able to focus, really focus, for more than half the prayer, I’ve done well.  I pray almost always when I’m driving.  I probably should not do that, because the distractions of driving make it difficult to focus on the prayer.  I also probably pray too much by rote or from a book, that is, not just talking with God, but using words written by others.  Many priests today counsel that this is not a good thing to do too much.  I don’t know what too much is.  I do talk to God every day, but probably not enough.  With people, I can be an OK listener, but with God, not so much.  It’s not that I ask things for myself, other than this very small thing of making me holy and nothing but a servant of God’s Will, but I just talk.  With God, I have a hard time just listening.  Sometimes I manage to listen, a little.
 When George Bush was late in his presidency, he gave an interview in which he stated that he “talks to God.”  The interviewer, and the media in general, found this shocking – they were terrified that he was demented, and was listening to some crazy voice in his head he mistook for God, for surely God is not so real that he would actually speak to us.  The Saints would laugh at this.  They talked with God.  They knew his presence.  I’m sure our modern culture thinks they were crazy, too.  A modern day St. Catherine of Siena would be locked up in an insane asylum and drugged until she no longer had any connection with God.  There is nothing our modern, neo-pagan culture fears and loathes more than someone professing to know God. 
BTW, the book, The Secret of the Rosary, is teh awesome!11!