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Brief Reminder: Fall Ember Days Start Tomorrow Wed 09/20 September 19, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Latin Mass, Liturgical Year, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, thanksgiving, Tradition.
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The Fall Ember Days start tomorrow Wednesday September 20.  Partial fast and abstinence on Wednesday and Saturday, partial fast and full abstinence on Friday (partial fast: two snacks and one meal; partial abstinence, one meal with meat, two snacks without).

Ember Days were, of course, along with so much else of inestimable value, squashed as a law of the Church and obligatory practice, in the Western Church anyway, by Pope Paul VI in the wreckovating days of the 1960s. Nevertheless, observing these ancient seasons is eminently pleasing to God and very much good for our souls.  If we desire a restoration of the Faith, should that not include many of the old penitential days and seasons, which played such a vital part in raising up so many Saints in the holy days of old?  I think so, anyway.  I pray for the day when Ember Days, Rogation Days, fasts before major feasts outside Lent, and all the rest will be restored to their proper place in the life of the Church.

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Saint Alphonsus on Maintaining Virtue Amidst Sin September 19, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, religious, Saints, sanctity, Spiritual Warfare, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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Given the moral sewer in which we are condemned to swim in this culture, sin is something we are constantly confronted with.  It’s very easy to fall into a sharply condemnatory attitude towards those visibly lost in sin, especially when they attempt to subvert the very Truth of Jesus Christ in the furtherance of their sin.  When they do so, this hurts us, and we see the destruction the success they have in their attempt causes.  Of course, all sin must be repudiated and opposed. Of course error must be plainly pointed out and decried. But how to deal with the sinner himself has always been a more complex issue.  Another even greater danger than just writing off the sinner is exalting ourselves above those we see lost in sins that are maybe more visible or “worse” than our own.  This, according to Saint Alphonsus, is a most pernicious form of pride and one we should be wary of.  But all have sinned, and none can merit salvation outside the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.

There is much in the excerpt below some will find challenging.  Of course, this writing must be understood in context.  I am certainly not presenting this as a condemnation of anyone here.  In fact, I post it as an accusation against myself, as I am very guilty of preferring myself to others, and in holding myself in high esteem in not being the publican in the corner pounding my breast, when I should be.  Take it for what it is: some worthy catechesis from an eminent source for your consideration.

From The True Spouse of Jesus Christ pp. 314-6:

Should you ever see another commit some grievous sin, take dare not to indulge in pride, nor to be surprised at their fall; but pity their misfortune, and trembling for yourself, say with holy David: “Unless the Lord had been my helper, my soul had almost dwelt in hell” (Ps xciii:17).  If the Almighty had not been my protector, I should at this moment be buried in hell.  Beware of even taking vain complacency in the exemption from faults that you perceive in your companions [or those in the world around us?]; otherwise, in chastisement of your pride the Lord will permit you to fall into the sins which they have committed.  Cassian relates that a certain young monk, being for a long time molested by a violent temptation to impurity, sought advice and consolation from an aged father.  Instead of receiving encouragement and comfort he was loaded with reproaches.  “What!” said the old man, “is it possible that a monk should be subject to so abominable thoughts?!?” In punishment of his pride the Almighty permitted the Father to be assailed by the spirit of impurity to such a degree that he ran like a madman through the monastery.  Hearing of this miserable condition, the Abbot Appollo told him that God had permitted this temptation to punish his conduct towards the young monk, and also to teach him compassion for others in similar circumstances.  The Apostle tells us that in correcting sinners we should not treat them with contempt, lest God should permit us to be assailed by the temptation to which they yielded, and perhaps to all into the very sin which we were surprised to see them commit.  We should, before we reprove others, consider that we are as miserable and as liable to sin as our fallen brethren. [That is, fallen brethren.  This book was written specifically for religious.  Obviously in such an environment everyone should be considered of the best faith and motives.  In the world, it’s a bit different.  That does not mean we should exalt ourselves above those we believe sin.  But it does mean that the degree of confrontation and the meekness with which it is carried out can be different from the cloistered environment.] Brethren, if any man be overtaken in a fault….instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted (Gal vi:1).  The same Cassian relates that a certain abbot called Machete confessed that he himself had miserably fallen into three faults, of which he had rashly judged his brethren.

Consider yourself the greatest sinner on earth.  They who are truly humble, because they are most perfectly enlightened by God, possess the most perfect knowledge not only of the Divine perfections, but also of their own miseries and sins.  Hence, notwithstanding their extraordinary sanctity, the Saints, not in the language of exaggeration, but in the sincerity of their souls, called themselves the greatest sinners in the world.  St. Francis of Assisi called himself the worst of sinners; St. Thomas of Villanova was kept in a state of continual fear and trembling by the thought of the account he was one day to render to God of his life; which, though full of virtue, appeared to him very wicked.  St. Gertrude considered it a miracle that the earth did not open under her feet and swallow her up alive, in punishment of her sins.  St. Paul, the first hermit, was in the habit of exclaiming: “Woe to me, a sinner, who am unworthy to bear the name of a  monk!” In the writings of Fr. M Avila we read of a person of great sanctity who besought the Lord to make known to her the state of her soul.  Her prayer was heard, and so deformed and abominable was the appearance of her soul, though stained only with the guilt of venial sins, that struck with horror, she cried out: “For mercy’s sake, O Lord, take away from before my eyes the representation of this monster!”

Beware, then, of every preferring yourself to any one.  To esteem yourself better than others, is abundantly sufficient to make you worse than all.  “Others,” says Tritemius, “you have despised: you have therefore become worse than others.” Again to entertain a high opinion of your own desserts, is enough to deprive you of all merit.  Humility consists principally in a sincere conviction that we deserve only reproach and chastisement.  If, by preferring yourself to others, you have abused the gifts and graces which God has conferred upon you, they will only serve for your greater condemnation at the hour of judgment.  But it is not enough to abstain from preferring yourself to any one: it is, moreover, necessary that you consider yourself the last and worst of all……First, because in yourself you see with certainty so many sins; but the sins of others you know not, and their secret virtues, which are hidden from  your eyes, may render them very dear in the sight of God.  You ought to consider also, that by the aid of the lights and graces which you have received from God you should at this moment be a Saint.  If they had been given to an infidel, he would perhaps have become a seraph, and you are still so miserable and full of defects………as St. Thomas teaches, the malice of sin increases in proportion to the ingratitude of the sinner.

———–End Excerpt———–

It is true that many Saints considered themselves the worst of sinners.  They did this not only for the reasons given above, but also because of the extraordinary sensitivity of their consciences.  We who are more dead to ourselves are also more dead to the reality of the sins we commit.  Not exactly a pleasant thought to consider, but a necessary one, and one I pray I may dwell on more and more – and that this may lead to a growth in my own sanctity, which is the point of it all, anyway!

This does not mean we should not point out sin and error when we see it, especially when sin and error are presented as virtue and truth, and even more so, when evil is presented as good within the Church herself.  But we must be careful not to exalt ourselves as above these things, nor to condemn those we see as lost in sin as somehow beneath us.  That’s a very easy trap to fall into, and one satan has probably fooled me with more than a few times.  Meekness and humility are key to the practice of virtue, correspondence with Grace, growth in the interior life, and thus, our salvation. It is precisely absence of these cornerstone virtues that paved the way – in my estimation – for the crisis that has afflicted the Church these past several decades.  It was pride and self-exaltation that caused lowly men to judge that God, and their saintly predecessors, had it all wrong for centuries, or that the Truth that made Saints of innumerable sinners over generations, somehow no longer applied to “modern man.”

What the Church needs a great heaping dose of right now, is, humility and meekness, with regard to the saving Truth of Jesus Christ.  That starts with me (but I’ll probably blow it tomorrow – God have mercy!).

The Deep State Can Even Fool Ron Paul September 19, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in asshatery, Basics, disaster, error, Flightline Friday, foolishness, It's all about the $$$, non squitur, scandals, self-serving, Society, technology.
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There is no more corrupt, insider-dependent government contractor than the entity known as United Launch Alliance (ULA).  Conceived as an obviously illegal monopoly and yet approved by the Bush 43 Administration, ULA was a way for giant defense contractors Lockheed and Boeing to avoid profit-inhibiting direct competition over space launch costs – which they were contractually obligated to do – in order to charge exorbitant launch vehicle and support fees and bilk the taxpayer out of billions of dollars; and this after having received further billions to develop two competitive launch vehicles whose contractual intent and obligation was to reduce the cost of “access to space” by 1/2 to 2/3 or more.

The obvious failure of the Space Shuttle program by the late 1980s left the United States in a very bad situation with regard to space launch – since the Shuttle had turned out to be an unbelievably expensive way to access space, and the only alternatives were derivatives of Cold War era ICBM-derived launch vehicles (with one exception), the US was falling badly behind European, Chinese, and then Russian alternatives which were often an order of magnitude or more cheaper than American launch vehicles.  Plus, many of the unmanned launchers were simply becoming so old they were unreliable and difficult to manufacture.  At some point the US might lose important space launch capabilities due to age.

The only bright spot in the US launch scene in the 80s and 90s was the reliable workhorse Delta II, which was cheap and had a great record but which was only capable of launching light and medium-weight payloads.  Delta II was actually cheap enough and reliable enough to compete with rivals from Europe and other nations.  But, it was a bit too limited in capability.

So, to insure continued access to space across the spectrum of mission needs and in the hopes of dramatically reducing launch vehicle costs, USAF began a program in the 1990s called the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle.  The deal was this: USAF would fund development of two different launch vehicle families, which became the Boeing Delta IV and Lockheed Atlas V, in the hopes that competition between these two launchers would result in greatly reduced launch costs.  McDonnell Douglas (later acquired by Boeing) and Lockheed agreed, and received several billion dollars each to pay for the development of the new boosters.  However, once development was concluded, and once it became clear that the Atlas V with its Russian-designed and built engines would be much cheaper (which resulted in some ugly industrial espionage by Boeing against Lockheed), the two largest defense contractors decided it was easier to renege on their original agreements and bilk the US taxpayer of further billions than it was to actually compete with each other, and so they merged their respective launch vehicle design, manufacture, and servicing organizations into a new entity called United Launch Alliance (ULA).  Somehow, unbelievably, USAF and the Bush Administration went along with this.

Launch costs immediately skyrocketed. Far from lowering launch costs, numerous payloads actually saw increased costs, especially once Boeing phased out the cheaper Delta II and forced the government payloads to ride on either the (often massively over-capable) Delta IV or Atlas V.

This situation persisted for a decade, until a plucky little company out of Hawthorne, CA, started launching commercial payloads at rates nearly an order of magnitude cheaper than ULA.  ULA tried to use their political clout to freeze SpaceX out, but finally the obvious success of SpaceX and the far greater value it represented could not be ignored, and the Air Force (reluctantly) started doling a few flights out to SpaceX under Congressional pressure. Still, USAF has generally preferred to stay with ULA for now, because SpaceX doesn’t create literally scores of six-digit executive positions a year for former O-6s and O-7s to occupy because of ostensible concerns over SpaceX’s success rate, but this is really weak, as Falcon 9 is at this point in its life cycle more reliable than either Atlas V or Delta IV were at a similar point in theirs.

Should SpaceX continue to grow and maintain an excellent overall record, ULA will be ruined.  Both Boeing and Lockheed will have to exit the space launch business as completely uncompetitive players.  Obviously, they do not want this, since space launch has meant billions to their respective bottom lines.  Equally obviously, they will engage their massive lobbying arms (SpaceX lobbies, too, but at a trifling rate compared to ULA/Lockheed/Boeing) and significant government support to try to win the competition by other means.

Thus it was rather sad to see both American Thinker and former Congressman Ron Paul fall for what is nothing but ULA propaganda, excoriating SpaceX for purported excesses at the public teat while making the ludicrous claim that SpaceX rockets can not achieve the same orbits as ULA launchers.  Really, casting United Launch Alliance as the good guy, the relative innocent in a competition of draining the public purse is just beyond the pale.  Anyone who knows anything about space launch would just burst out laughing at such a claim.  No organization in space launch worldwide is more lowly regarded in the commercial sector than ULA.  Yes that even includes the Chinese.

Regarding the orbits, these are corner of the envelope issues and have nothing to do with orbit achieved, but payload to orbit. Yes Falcon 9 at present falls a bit short of the much more expensive Delta IV and Atlas V, but that won’t be the case within a few months, once Falcon Heavy launches.  Falcon Heavy will bury Delta IV and Atlas V in every respect – including cost.  Falcon Heavy will put nearly 3 times the payload into low earth orbit as Atlas V, and at 1/3 the cost.

This is what terrifies ULA.  This is why they have been waging a massive PR campaign against SpaceX and, especially, the person of Elon Musk.  Typical of the statist drones they represent, they accuse their adversary of the very evils they themselves not only commit, but utterly depend on.  There are many legitimate criticisms of Elon Musk, that SpaceX is too government-dependent, that most all of his recent businesses depend on government subsidies, etc.  But all the above applies to ULA to much, much greater degree. SpaceX launches dozens of commercial payloads a year.   ULA rockets are so laughably expensive they haven’t launched a commercial payload in over a decade (sorry they launched one, but at the behest of the US gov’t for Mexico).

This is how the Deep State works – misinformation, lies, insider access, misdirection, bureaucratic stonewalling, self-interest, buffaloing well-intentioned  public servants, lobbyist support, etc., etc.  They pulled a fast one on Paul and some of his close associates.  It’s easy to see how they could, they know these matters intimately while most Congress-critters and others do not.  It’s easy for them to spin misinformation to concoct what seems like a very believable story for those outside this specialized industry.  ULA is one of the worst, but far from the only practitioner of this.  No one can be an SME across every possible subject the US government deals with.  That is how the Deep State has managed to create such vast sinecures for themselves – the more the government is down in the weeds of everyone’s business, the more room there is for corrupticrats to carve out very comfortable niches for themselves.  ULA had that going for a decade-plus.

This is just one, small example.  There are others, far worse.  This is what happens with a tyrannical Leviathan state.