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SpaceX chooses South Texas launch site September 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Basics, fun, Society, technology.
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Space Exploration Technologies Corporation of Hawthorne, CA, better known as SpaceX, has chosen a site in rural Cameron County, Texas, along Boca Chica beach south of the mouth of the Rio Grande River for its first fully private, commercial launch site.  The site was long favored by SpaceX, which may also develop other launch sites at other locations in the future.  The Texas site is expected to see around 12 launches a year beginning late this decade:

Elon Musk’s commercial space-transport firm, SpaceX, is building a commercial launchpad in South Texas along the Gulf of Mexico with help from more than $20 million in state and local incentives.

Local officials believe the launch site, east of Brownsville near Boca Chica Beach, will create 500 jobs over a decade and require as much as $100 million in capital investment. Beyond the $15.3 million Texas is giving the project, SpaceX will collect another $5 million from the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corp.

The SpaceX facility will cover about 50 acres along the coast, a few miles from South Padre Island, and involve a launchpad, control center, and ground-tracking station. The facility is designed to launch about a dozen commercial satellites each year, a lucrative business that SpaceX maintains it can perform more cost-efficiently than rivals can.

“In addition to creating hundreds of high tech jobs for the Texas workforce, this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base and attract tourists to the south Texas area,” Musk said in a press release on Monday from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s office. SpaceX also has a rocket development facility in central Texas, near Waco. The company also considered sites in Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and Alaska.

It will be pretty neat to be able to drive down to south Texas and see space launches.  I’ve never seen one, personally, though I saw the contrail left by a Titan IV launched from Vandenberg when in LA, once.  That was pretty cool.

Maybe they’ll even launch the Falcon Heavy from there.  4 million lbs of thrust in that one:



More frequent will be the Falcon 9:


There have been reports, and continue to be, that SpaceX also wants to use this new spaceport as a production site for a new line of rockets with far larger core diameters.  The current Falcon 9 family has a 12 foot core, but SpaceX has proposed versions with cores on the order of 24 to 33 feet – the same as the first stage of a Saturn V.  One proposed version, called Falcon XX, would be capable of lifting over 240 tons per launch.  It is difficult to conceive whether there would be much demand for shooting 5oo,000 lb at a shot into orbit, or 200,000 lbs to the moon or Mars.  But SpaceX did produce a paper outlining such a few years ago, and this image has appeared on the web:


The one on the right is far larger than a Saturn V.  The point being, this launch site could develop into something much more than that, a very large production complex with ease of access, via the Intracoastal Waterway, to Cape Canaveral.  And that would be a great aid to the economy of South Texas.  This $20 million public investment, hardly an egregious amount, could turn into billions of dollars of infrastructure in one of the least developed parts of the state.


First TLM in Brownsville Cathedral in decades scheduled for Oct 7 September 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Christendom, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Latin Mass, Liturgy, priests, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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The glorious Feast of Our Lady of Victory, now known as Our Lady of the Rosary.  Either way, this was the Feast commemorating the inspired Catholic victory over the marauding Saracen navy at Lepanto.  What a great date to commemorate by returning to the use of the Traditional Latin Mass!

My South Texas correspondent informs me that the cathedral rector, who has been offering TLMs twice weekly at another downtown parish, Sacred Heart, while the cathedral underwent renovations (and not wreckovations!), intends to offer what is the first Traditional Latin Mass the cathedral has seen in probably 40 years or more on Tuesday, October 7.  A further intent is to offer TLMs on every major Marian Feast.

Please pray that souls will avail themselves of this Mass!  The TLM available at Sacred Heart parish is generally somewhat sparsely attended, although  a recent High Mass on the Feast of the Assumption attracted a good crowd, apparently. Deo Gratias!

I could not find any interior shots of the cathedral post-renovation, but I am told that a proper high altar has been restored.  I am uncertain regarding altar rails – those appeared to have been removed from the 150+ year old cathedral sometime back.  Here is an exterior shot:


Having a priest who desires to offer the Traditional Mass makes all the difference in the world.  Without one, getting the TLM offered is exceedingly difficult.

What a great day this will be!  Another diocese having the TLM regularly in its cathedral.  God be praised!  And thank Bishop Daniel Flores for his openness to Summorum Pontificum and the great and holy Mass!


Why are the SSPX viewed as a greater threat than protestants? September 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, Ecumenism, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, persecution, sadness, scandals, secularism, SSPX, the return.
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Reader D provided a link to a most interesting article at The Remnant, which raises most important questions.  The main one being, why are so many bishops, even relatively good ones, ever ready to be lovey dovey and ecumenical with protestants, even to the point of indifference or at least tacitly accepting, even promoting, protestant errors, while their attitude towards the Society of Saint Pius X is that they are a dangerous group of heretics that Catholics must avoid at all costs.  Really?

Bishop David Zubik is a good man, reportedly one of the better bishops in the country in fact. He has been an outspoken opponent of homosexual “marriage”; he has prayed the rosary in front of abortion clinics; he’s even gone on the record opposing Common Core.

Because he’s a good man we’re confident he must be concerned when members of the Catholic faithful become confused and scandalized by something his chancery office has done.

A bit of background: Last week we reported that Bishop Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh encouraged the Catholic faithful of Pittsburgh to join him in joining hands with Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, for the recent 3-day praise and song festival in Pittsburgh—the Three Rivers Festival of Hope at which “altar calls” and “forgiveness of sins” by Protestant ministers were reportedly part of the program.

We posted video of the Bishop in attendance at the gathering and in fact praying with the Protestant attendees (though electing not to make the Sign of the Cross onstage), asking God to bless them but saying nothing about any need for them to convert to the Catholic Church. [This is what I mean by at least tacitly accepting, even promoting, error.  To pray with them, to endorse their erroneous acts (one time altar calls resulting in “salvation,” rejection of the Sacraments….the list is long) is to give at least visible, tacit approval to those errors.  Now, there could be reasons to participate in such acts, but such should always be accompanied with a clear explanation as to why such participation might have been seen as necessary, as well as a repudiation of any errors present at the ecumenical function.  But that clarification/rejection virtually never happens anymore]

We also reported that a few days later Bishop Zubik’s office released a sternly-worded letter of warning against any association on the part of Pittsburgh’s faithful with the Society of St. Pius X, which had recently purchased an old Catholic church in downtown Pittsburgh with the intention of restoring it and reopening it for use by Catholics rather than Muslims, for a change.

Bishop Zubik let it be known that he was not happy that the old church had been spared the wrecking ball or worse in this manner, and instead determined to admonish the faithful to stay away from the SSPX and their recently acquired building because the Society is “separated from the Catholic Church.” [Which, in and of itself, is certainly within his prerogative and many would consider both prudent and just.  But why the difference?  Why are protestants given approving participation and great doses of mercy, while the SSPX is always given the iron fist of harsh discipline?  It’s the double standard that grates so.  You want to defend Church unity?  Great!  But then why don’t you publicly lament the far vaster disunity, division, pain, and suffering caused by the protestant heresies?  Even if you assume the SSPX really is completely outside the Church, to which group does the Church lose far, far more souls – the SSPX, or protestants?  So why are the SSPX almost universally treated as the greater threat?]

Conspicuous by their absence from the diocesan letter of warning, however, were any expressions of love, hoped for reconciliation, willingness to dialogue, or words of kindness or solidarity with the souls attached to the SSPX. Nothing! Just: “SSPX, BAD! Stay away!”  [Because the “right” has none? Is this not a parallel to the radically harsh treatment being meted out to the Franciscans of the Immaculate, in comparison to the constant mercy and endless generosity extended to radical women religious who left the Church decades ago in all but name?]

And this is part of a bizarre pattern on the part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In an earlier “official statement” regarding the status of the SSPX’s Our Lady of Fatima Chapel in Collier Township, the faithful were informed that the SSPX Masses do not fulfill Sunday obligation (a contention that contradicts several statements from the Vatican, including not a few issued by the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei Commission), that participation at Our Lady of Fatima Chapel implies “separation from the Catholic Church” and results in “ex-communication from the Catholic Church” and the “subsequent denial of Christian burial from the Catholic Church.”  [That’s a very harsh stand.  And one that has been specifically repudiated by the Vatican in the past. The Bishop of Honolulu some 20 odd years ago, an active and unrepentant sodomite, it turned out, claimed faithful who had been confirmed at an SSPX chapel had incurred excommunication.  The faithful appealed to the Vatican and that judgment was overturned.  The Vatican has repeatedly confirmed that participation in SSPX Masses and other Sacraments is not cause for excommunication.  The Masses are valid, but not licit.  Confession is much trickier, but that’s not the point of this post.]

—————-End Quote—————

Even if one assumes that the SSPX is 100% in the wrong, there is still an inexplicably harsh attitude towards that group, as opposed to virtually any other religious body in the world, from most of the hierarchy in the Church, even “relatively” good bishops.  There is a huge double standard, because the only true remaining heresy in the Church today seems to be being too old fashioned, too traditional, too orthodox.  So long as you aren’t that, you can attack marriage, the Blessed Sacrament, even the Divinity of Christ, and you can have a tenured faculty position or lead an international religious order.  But if you start to drift…….heaven’s to Betsy, call out the Inquisition!  Crush them!

It’s not the actions themselves.  It’s the dichotomy, the double standard, that is jarring, even scandalous. I know most bishops cannot stand having the SSPX in their diocese for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the Society both exists outside their control (while being in their jurisdiction) and also serves as a sort of living rebuke to, ahem, “spirit” abroad in almost all dioceses. But it’s a bit much to have the SSPX  be the only group get labeled schismatic, excommunicate, and even to be denied Christian burial, when protestants, wiccans, muslims, you name! it are all our brothers, and shouldn’t we have unlimited mercy towards them?

In reality, I fear this all comes down to the fact that there really is a sense among many in the Church, and especially the leadership, that there was a new church started in December 1965 and that the bad old Church just has to die.  The SSPX are seen as being that bad old Church, and so they must be crushed.

I that an unfair appraisal?

Rebuttals/Clarifications on the canonical standing of various MICM/Immaculate Heart of Mary groups September 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Basics, catachesis, episcopate, General Catholic, Latin Mass, religious, Tradition, Virtue.
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A couple of days ago I put up a post noting a beautiful occurrence in the Church, the entry into the novitiate of a young woman in the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (MICM) in Still River, Massachusetts. As part of that post, I mentioned again that I did not understand why there still seems to be some lingering suspicion towards this group in particular, which is completely regular in every respect.  This statement led to some discussion in the comments about other Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary/MICM groups, and their canonical status.  I was frankly a bit ignorant, or had fallen for some of the prevalent rumors, in stating that I didn’t think the other groups were fully regular, or that I at least thought there was some question on their status.

Well, Brother Andre Marie of catholicism.org and the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Richmond, New Hampshire dropped by to provide some clarification on the matter of the canonical status of these different branches of the Slaves, all originally descended from the Saint Benedict Center/Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary centered around Father Leonard Feeney.  Here is what he had to say:

Canonically, the group that you speak of here has the same exact status as the group in New Hampshire (of which I am the Prior). Both are essentially private associations of the faithful.

The other group in Still River is Saint Ann’s House — http://sistersofstbenedictcenter.org/ — a house of Sisters only (affiliated with male house of MICM — the Benedictines next-door are no longer MICMs.). The Sisters of Saint Ann’s House actually have a higher canonical status than any of the other MICM houses, as they are an episcopally approved private association of the faithful. (In Canon Law, there is a distinction between a de facto private association of the faithful and one that has episcopal approval.)

The New Hampshire Slaves (also called the Saint Benedict Center) discuss their canonical status at some length here.

I am certainly not a canon lawyer, nor an expert in these matters, but I wanted to make clear all of these groups both claim to be and appear to be recognized as having regular canonical status in the Church, and are not under any episcopal/ecclesiastical approbation.  There is a great deal of confusion around the internet regarding the status of these groups, with many folks retaining the impression that because Father Feeney was once in a problematic position several decades ago, any or all of the groups associated with him in the past or “descended” from those associated with him must still be so today.  The evidence indicates that Father Feeney died reconciled to the Church and that the groups listed above have regular recognition/interaction with their local dioceses as private associations of the faithful.  I know the Saint Benedict Center in Still River and in Richmond both have priests in residence offering valid Masses and with valid faculties for Confession.  I believe, but have not confirmed that the Saint Ann’ House group does, as well.

Hopefully this helps clear things up. Sorry for perpetuating any confusion.