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We’re doomed February 23, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, General Catholic, horror, scandals, sickness, Society.
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We hear alot of talk about how terrible the debt situation is in the EU with the PIGS (Portugal, Italy (or Ireland), Greece, Spain).  But take a gander at this graph of the per capita debt put together by the Weekly Standard, and realize how doomed we are:

Anyone but Romney will have my fullest financial, physical, and moral support (I’ll even get behind the Totem Pole Romney if I have to).  We’ve got to get this guy out of office – we had debt problems before, but under him, it’s a nationwide economic death sentence.

REMINDER – Michael Voris conference March 4! February 23, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, fun, General Catholic, Interior Life, Lent, North Deanery, Tradition, Virtue.
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It’s cheap!  It’s local!  It’s awesome!  What more do you want?!?  We’ve even got a slick flier, finally!

MichaelVorisMarch42012 (2)

Get your tickets in advance to be assured of a seat, right here!  Or, $5 individual or $10 family at the door!


What constitutes mortal sin? February 23, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Interior Life, Lent, Sacraments, scandals, Tradition, Virtue.
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Over at Catholic Culture, Dr. Jeff Mirus is expounding on the nature of mortal sin, and he’s taken a turn I think is imprudent, possibly even dangerous.  In two posts, he reviews a book wherein a character plans to commit adultery on his wife, but at the last minute backs out and doesn’t do it.  The first post claims that another reviewer of the book committed a heinous error when the reviewer claimed that the man had objectively committed a mortal sin.  In a second post, he goes on at extensive length positing his view of what constitutes a mortal sin.  I believe that Dr. Mirus is almost falling into the error of believing that mortal sins are exceedingly rare.  At the very least, he seems to have the view that we are entirely unqualified to determine whether a sin is mortal or not.  I must disagree on both counts. 

First, we need to define what mortal sin is.  It is a sin committed with full consent of the will on a grave matter.  Grave matter would be violations of the Decalogue, some of Christ’s prohibitions against sins, sins established through Tradition even if not explicitly present in Sacred Scripture (but all of which have evolved through understanding of the various Commandments, such as addiction to tobacco being a violation of the 5th Commandment).

I want to look at two statements by Mirus on which his claims really hinge (as I perceive it).  First, in the comments of the first post, he claims this:

It is possible that deliberate indulgence of a sinful pleasure in the mind and emotions could be mortal. But we would have to agree that a bad thought is “grave matter”, which in many (most?) cases will be too long a stretch.

WRONG.  Sorry, Dr. Mirus, but St. Alphonse Ligouri would vigorously disagree.  It is 100%, totally possible, and indeed very frequent, to commit a mortal sin of thought.  If I see a beautiful woman and lust after her and take pleasure in that thought, lingering on it (thus giving full consent of the will), I have committed a mortal sin.  If I get mad at someone and take pleasure in the thought of bashing their head in with a crowbar, I’ve committed a mortal sin.  This is the traditional definition – I know there are many priests today who would disagree, but such disagreement represents, to me, far more a great watering down of the understanding of the concept of sin, than it does reality.  Certainly, a traditional priest would adhere to the definition given above.  And I ask, which is the better case, to be more stringent in the definition of sin, thus insuring more penance and mortification and drawing near to the Lord, or a more loosey goosey interpretation?  I strongly advocate the former.

Mirus also offers the following breakdown of “grave matter:”

And the fourth perceptual problem is the line between mortal and venial sin with respect to grave matter. What is a grave offense for you might not be a grave offense for me, depending on our respective degrees of spiritual progress.[I disagree just about 100% here] But this is not what the Church means when she requires “grave matter” for a sin to be mortal. The requirement here is that the matter itself be objectively serious, on a scale of moral gravity. Murder is more serious than name-calling, adultery is more serious than private sexual sins, a sinful action is more serious than a sinful thought of the same kind,

I’ve got to disagree again here, especially with regard to the difference between actual adultery with another person and imagined adultery with the computer screen and………you know.  And with the idea that the thought is much worse than the act.  Both can be mortal.  I agree that there can be something of a difference between some sins of thought and sins of action, but with the case of adultery, pleasuring oneself while dreaming of your neighbor is just as mortal a sin as having actual sex with her.  While the latter may be somewhat worse, I guess, morally, in reality, they are both mortal sins.  Even just fantasizing about your neighbor, taking pleasure in those thoughts, has always been viewed as a mortal sin.

Mirus’ main point in his second post, that these things really need to be determined by a good confessor is very well taken, but that does not mean that we cannot assess these matters for ourselves.  Mortal sin is like a spiritual heart attack.  It needs to be dealt with immediately, for if you die in that state…………that’s it.  You’re finished.  We need to be able to determine whether we’ve committed an act that is, or is likely, a mortal sin, and get to Confession as soon as possible.  Mirus’ approach seems to me more lackadaisical – it might be a mortal sin, but probably isn’t so don’t worry yourself too much about it, and just ask when you go in next week or month or year or never for your next confession. I think his mentality is dangerous, as it plays to our modern habit of disbelieving in sin, or at the very least minimizing it, trivializing it and limiting it to monsters like Stalin and Pol Pot. 

Back to the original moral question that precipitated this – planning to commit a mortal sin is very nearly the same as committing one.  It requires thought, assent of the will, the agreement to do something sinful, at least internally.  That one later backs out is good, but does not remit the original sin committed. Tempting oneself, placing oneself in a near occasion of mortal sin willfully, is a mortal sin.  The original reviewer was right – this man is objectively in a state of mortal sin, because he has gone so far as to plan his mortal sin, where and when it will occur, etc.  It is a virtual certainty that he will or has fantasize about the conduct of that extramarital affair.  Even without the knowledge of that detail, he’s still in a very bad place, and needs Confession immediately. 

Another commenter at CatholicCulture put things better than I have:

There is no question that “planning” requires full advertence of the intellect, but does it equally require full consent of the will? I teach that it does. To plan is to focus, to concentrate, to turn away from other considerations. It is deliberate. There is no question as well that adultery is a grave moral evil. To willfully “plan” adultery, no matter what may in the end frustrate accomplishment of the physical act, is to already have crossed the line of sinning against chastity of the mind


More money doesn’t mean better schools February 23, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, foolishness, General Catholic, sadness, scandals, sickness, Society.
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An article in the Dallas Morning News annoyed me today.  In it, the News repeatedly claims that Texas is essentially abusing its children because of a drop in school funding.  The original article I found is behind the pay wall, so you’ll have to take some of my word for it, but the general details are here:

Spending on public school students in Texas has dropped sharply this year and the already large gap between the state and the national average has widened, according to new comparisons by the National Education Association . Texas schools are spending $8,908 per student in the current school year, well under the national average of $11,463 and also below the estimate cited by Gov. Rick Perry– $10,000 – in an interview with The Dallas Morning News this week.

Preliminary NEA figures show that per pupil spending in the state actually dropped $538 from the 2010-11 school year, when Texas ranked 41st among the states with an average expenditure of $9,446. It is one of the few times in recent history that average spending on students has declined in the state. Nationwide, the average went up slightly, about $158 per pupil, as other states also dealt with tough economic circumstances. The decrease in Texas follows unprecedented funding cuts approved by the Legislature last year to balance the state budget. Funding for schools was slashed by $5.4 billion in the current biennium, with many North Texas districts facing their biggest reductions in the 2012-13 school year.

Average teacher salaries in Texas actually went up slightly this year to $49,017, an increase of $379 over last year, when the state ranked 31st in the NEA comparisons. But the Texas average is still $7,626 below the national average and the difference between Texas teachers and their counterparts across the country is growing. “We continue to fall further behind the national averages for both spending per student and teacher salaries because of the refusal of the governor and the legislative majority to adequately fund public schools,” said Clay Robison of the NEA-affiliated Texas State Teachers Association

To which I say, so what?  The fact is, spending per pupil in this country has trebled since the early 70s, when Big Government turned education into Big Education, but test scores have remained essentially flat, or even declined in some areas (especially science). 

Lamenting the fact that public schools – PUBLIC! – are spending ONLY $9000 per student in Texas, or $15k in New York or $12k in California – is a bit ridiculous.  Many private schools cost less than that per year, and turn out a much, much better educated student.  Throwing money at education has never been the solution.  In fact, basically unlimited funds often create more problems than they solve, in bloated administrations, more bureaucracies meaning more rules and regulations (including stupid, offensive things like “banning” Christmas), more political correctness, and more left wing agitprop.  Why the latter?  Because those of a left wing outlook tend to be far more attracted to government jobs, and the Education Industrial Complex is dominated by left wingers often hostile to traditional morality, especially at its highest levels.

But what really annoyed me was just the reflexive, automatic liberal response of “more money = better, less money = worse, or even negligently bad.”  It’s just absurd.  Yes, money has to be spent to educate children, but money does not equal performance, but there are far too many in the Education Complex who claim it does.

As an aside, you can homeschool your child for a few hundred dollars per year, and virtually every Catholic school at any level costs much less than $10k a year, and turn out kids with far, far better academic performance.

I believe the proper way to approach the data released by the NEA is, why are public schools so bloated, inefficient, and wasteful?

Join Carmelites for Stations of the Cross every Friday in Lent February 23, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Interior Life, Lent, religious.
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Oh, you can bet I’ll be there at least a couple of times (but not this week, sadly).

The Carmelite Monastery at 600 Flowers Ave, Dallas, 75211 will have Stations of the Cross, every Friday during Lent, starting at 6:30 PM, led by either Father Longua, FSSP or Father Wolfe, FSSP. 

Stations of the Cross start this Friday, Feb. 24


    *   All Night Vigil is First Friday, March 2.

    *   Devotions to The Holy Face and Benediction is Sunday, March 4.

Thanks to MJ for the heads up.