Tuesday, October 09, 2007

November is almost here ...

The month we remember especially to pray for the holy souls in purgatory. In keeping with our tradition at Requiem Press , we once again will offer deep discounts on quantity purchases of the our booklet Daily Prayers for the Church Suffering - a daily committment to praying for the holy souls in Purgatory through November.

See the our website for details. Here is what the booklet has:

This simple book, which fits in purse or pocket, has a short prayer for everyday of the week:

Sunday - for the soul most destitute of prayers;
Monday - for the soul nearest to entrance into Heaven;
Tuesday - for the soul who is last to issue from Purgatory;
Wednesday - for the soul richest in merits;
Thursday - for the soul who was most devoted to the Holy Eucharist;
Friday - for the soul for whom you are most bound to pray for;
andSaturday - for the soul who was most devoted to our Lady.

Following the daily prayer is De Profundis-Psalm 129 (130).

If you order now, you will receive them in time to distribute for November 2nd-all soul's day.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Our first new release for 2007

Is it a Baby? follows the true story of a nurse practitioner working in a women’s health clinic which refers women for abortion. While originally not participating in abortion at all, Cortney Davis’ work slowly draws her closer and closer to abortion—as she rationalizes her increased involvement all the way, even to the point of participating in one. Yet her conscience will not free her as God keeps sending her messages that she cannot ignore.

This powerful witness for life, accurate in its medical descriptions and emotions, should be read by everyone.

Ships October 15th. Pre-order today: here !

The author, Cortney Davis has her own blog which tells of her conversion and search for God.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Our first new release in 11 months is almost here!

In a week or so Requiem Press will release its first book since last November! This one is a short, but powerful booklet. Here's the cover and the blurb:

Is it a Baby? follows the true story of a nurse practitioner working in a women’s health clinic which refers women for abortion. While originally not participating in abortion at all, Cortney Davis’ work slowly draws her closer and closer to abortion—as she rationalizes her increased involvement all the way, even to the point of participating in one. Yet her conscience will not free her as God keeps sending her messages that she cannot ignore.

This powerful witness for life, accurate in its medical descriptions and emotions, should be read by everyone.

Pre-orders will be accepted at our website later this week.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The waiting is over

Russell Shaw's book Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church has arrived and is shipping today! Order here !

We announced last week (on my personal blog) that our first new release of 2007 would be an original work. Here it is again:

We are excited to announce our first new release of 2007, coming in mid-September:Is it a Baby, or just some cells? - the testimony of a nurse practicitoner by Cortney Davis. This is the true story of a nurse practioner working in "women's health" who gets closer and closer to abortion-rationalizing her increased involvement all the way-until she actually participates in one. But God keeps sending her messages-she tries to ignor. Finally one day her heart is opened and she cries to God for mercy. A pro-life story which will touch hearts-this booklet is short but powerful. Watch our website for the release date.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's almost here!

UPDATE: Books will be here within a few days. They shipped last night. Time is running out for the pre-2nd printing special. Of course most of you are waiting and anxious to pay full price. I am sure we will have traffic jam later on here in the week as people swell the streets of Bethune trying to get the first copies off the truck!- Oremus pro invicem!

The 2nd Printing of Russell Shaw's Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church is almost here! We've been running a pre-order special on it ($11.95 + $2.50 S&H --regularly $14.95 + S&H)-but time is running out. Once the full shipment arrives (We got the proof copies today) the special ends. So you have a week or less to get your early Christmas shopping done. Order it at the Requiem Press website today! (or you can call our toll free number: 1-888-708-7675) .

Here's what people are saying about this book:

"On the problem of clericalism, no analysis has been more clear or constructive than that of Russell Shaw. His is a voice crying out in the wilderness." —Dr. Scott Hahn from Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace

"His insights in his new book help the reader not only to understand the role of "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church" but also the role of the laity in evangelizing the culture."
Fr. C.J. McCloskey III, research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute

"The content and organization of the 12 chapters in the book make it a good choice for parish-based faith-sharing groups." (Catholic News Service 05/06)

"Its quiet magisterial tone has the mark of a classic." —Jude P. Dougherty, Dean Emeritus, School of Philosophy, Catholic University of America

"The reality of Catholic teaching is and always has been that, at the altar, the priest presides, but in the world, the layperson presides. As many of us laity waste time and energy making a lunge for the altar, we are forgetting our true dignity and thereby missing the call and the gifts the Spirit has given us to carry out our God-given vocations to win the world for Jesus Christ. Russell Shaw shows us how to recover our sanity and live out the awesome vocation of the lay saint that the world so desperately needs." —Mark P. Shea, Senior Content Editor, Catholic Exchange

Here's an excerpt:

Meanwhile, though, the Church in the United States and in other Western countries is in crisis. The challenge this presents to the Catholic laity is clear. They are called to do more than struggle individually against the temptations that come from the sinful world around them, in hopes of saving their souls (although certainly they need to do that). Lay people also need to shoulder and carry out their part in the mission of the Church, especially in the "new evangelizationg" and the evangelization of culture of which Pope John Paul II spoke of so often.

John Paul returned to this theme in Novo Millennio Ineunte ("At the Beginning of the New Millennium"), the Apostolic Letter he published on January 6, 2001, the Feast of the Epiphany, to mark the start of the third millennium of the Christian era. "Even in countries evangelized many centuries ago," he pointed out, "the reality of a ‘Christian society’…is now gone."

Rather than being a cause for discouragement, he argued, this troubling state of affairs should provide impetus for a fresh outburst of evangelizing fervor not unlike that of Christianity’s early days: "This passion will not fail to stir in the Church a new sense of mission, which cannot be left to a group of ‘specialists’ but must involve the responsibility ofall the members of the People of God….A new apostolic outreach is needed, which will be lived as the everyday commitment of Christian communities and groups" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 40).

The Pope was describing an evangelizing Catholic community, made up overwhelmingly of lay women and men, which in many respects would resemble the Christian community as we glimpsed it earlier in another historic document. Recall the words of the Epistle to Diognetus, written around 200 A.D.: "What the soul is in the body, that the Christians are in the world….Such is the important post to which God has assigned them, and they are not at liberty to desert it." (And we might add: Neither then nor now.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Review ...

From HPR (Read the whole thing here):

As with all his writings, Russell Shaw’s latest Catholic literary product, Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church, is rich, balanced, reasoned, lucid, concise, poignant, and widely accessible. In the volume, he takes up a theme that he has continued to address and develop over the course of his career, i.e., the proper nature, role, and function for the Catholic laity.

To cut to the chase: Russell Shaw notes an unhappy irony regarding the contemporary situation of the Catholic laity. On the one hand, since the Second Vatican Council and at the level of official, articulated Church doctrine, never have the laity been given such a clear, brilliant, compelling, and inspiring mission so full of promise for themselves, the Church, and the society, i.e., of the lay apostolate dedicated to the evangelization of the world.

...However, on the other hand, for Shaw, the great promise of the laity since Vatican II has gone woefully unfulfilled because of two developments that he analyzes at length, the first more so than the second, i.e., 1) the “clericalization of the laity” and 2) a widespread secularization both at the level of culture and within the hearts and minds of many nominal and dissenting Catholics.

Read the whole thing- or even better, read the book!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Part One (continued)...

Immigrants and Religious Practice

As Liam Riley had stressed with forceful conviction, some knowledge of history is necessary for grasping how certain events occurred and why people acted in the way that they did. Furthermore, without knowledge of the past, a person will have little understanding of the present and no real expectation or reasonable hope for what lies ahead. Without an historical perspective, he or she will merely live in the here and now, ignorant of what was and indifferent to what may come.

Americans seem to have neither a sense of history nor a taste for it. The well-known entrepreneur, Henry Ford, summed up this deplorable state when he proclaimed, "History is bunk." Thus, many lay people in this country have little or no knowledge of either salvation history or of secular history, or, more importantly, of the Catholic view that all history converges in the Person of Jesus Christ. This disturbing condition requires a look back at the arrival of religious practices in America by way of European immigrants.

Since popular devotions arise according to spiritual needs, in the sixteenth-century, the Protestant Reformation compelled a host of Catholics in Europe to establish "passed-on" religious practices. In the main, these practices became ancestral cultures of piety for two reasons. First, many bishops, clerics, and monks had fallen into states of infidelity or of moral corruption. Second, faithful bishops, priests, and monks were persecuted, went into hiding or exile, or were martyred, all of which created a spiritual vacuum for the ordinary lay person.

Historical circumstances, then, forced the laity in Europe to develop religious practices for daily living, such as praying the rosary and novenas, and petitioning popular saints. Devotions included the prominent placement of a crucifix and holy pictures in the home. Under or outside of clothing, religious medals or scapulars were worn.

Catholic immigrants from Europe brought to the dioceses of the United States their ancestral cultures of piety. Other religious practices, such as benediction, the stations of the cross, public processions, and veneration of relics, arrived in America by way of priests or consecrated religious. Religious practices soon became regular activities in parish life and in Catholic education, and they served as backbone material for the institutional Church in this country.

It did not take long for most immigrants and their offspring to receive ongoing parish instruction or formal Catholic education. And that is the reason why so many Catholics grew up with basic knowledge of Christian belief and matured as morally-responsible citizens. Despite manifest and manifold successes, weaknesses existed in parish life and in the educational system. This is not to say that the content of the instruction was problematic. The difficulties resided in some teaching methods, ways of learning that became ripe for exploitation in the post-Vatican Council II period.

Prior to Vatican Council II, parish instruction and formal Catholic education did not consist of the whole of the Deposit of Faith: sacred scripture, apostolic tradition, and living magisterium. One glaring weakness, for instance, was the lack of study in sacred scripture. Possessing little knowledge that the Word of God is the foundation of Christian belief, the newcomers to this country and their offspring simply memorized the short version of the Baltimore Catechism.

Catechesis generally consisted of learning the Ten Commandments, the valid administration of and participation in the sacramental life of the parish, the natural laws of moral and social living, the human statutes of the institutional Catholic Church, and the positive laws of the political regime. In a nutshell, the Old Testament Commandments and licit reception of the sacraments directed the lives of the laity more than the New Testament Commandment: "You must love one another just as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34).

Another weakness was the strict obedience required of the laity. When it came to the application or interpretation of the above-mentioned laws, diocesan bishops exercised a paternalistic authority which, in turn, was employed by pastors of parishes, resident clergy, and teaching religious orders. As a result, the laity became habituated to obey ecclesiastical authorities without question — whatever the bishop, father, brother, or sister said was to be followed to the letter.

Paternalistic authority sometimes even entered into free-willed human acts that necessitate individual choice, such as the exercise of personal freedom when entering into the marriage covenant, or priestly or consecrated religious life. The exercise of that style of leadership sometimes attempted to influence political and social matters that contained neither a Faith-related subject nor a moral principle. Consequently, law and morality, in an odd way, assumed the stature of a quasi-religion.

Relying too heavily on strict adherence to the ancestral cultures of piety, parish instruction and formal Catholic education established in the baptized a mentality that was legalistic and moralistic. Even though most lay people possessed strong personal beliefs, Faith, morals, and paternalistic authority had become so tightly entwined that it was near impossible for most of the laity to distinguish one element from another.

An unbalanced emphasis on morals reduced religious practice to obeying laws and rules. Enforcement of laws and rules was via the notion of "possibility": possible punishment in the hereafter. Violators of laws or rules were made to consider the content of a minor offense as possible grave matter and, therefore, a mortal sin punishable in Hell. Too many Catholics, for example, attended Mass on Sundays because the threat of mortal sin and Hell-fire was very real to them.

Paternalistic oversight of their popular base was considered by bishops to be necessary. It not only preserved unity among the laity, it protected, they thought, the institution against attacks, such as those experienced during the French Revolution. But, by the twentieth century, it was clear that the Catholic Church in America was no longer under siege. In fact, the institution had not only survived, it now prospered.

Weaknesses such as the ones mentioned above produced a multitude of mechanical Catholics. As Monsignor Romano Guardini suggested, "There was too much outward show and too little inner reality." In the long run, parish instruction and formal Catholic education created — from top to bottom — a religious culture of routine formalism and narrow piety: a "culture of laws" (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem). Consequently, for many lay people, the institutional Church had become an empty enterprise:

The tragedy of baptism, at any age, is that so often we are incorporated into a Christian community that has forgotten its splendor. Frailty and dust are given predominance in teaching. The possibility of splendor, glory, and holiness, the call to be saints, is the wealth hidden away. . . Overemphasis on the magical wiping away of sin has created some very bad habits in Church people. These bad habits emerge from an attitude that [theologian Dietrich] Bonhoeffer calls cheap grace. Cheap grace is never really valued because those receiving it put forth little effort on their own. (Macrena Wiederkehr, Benedictine nun)

Although it may seem harsh to some, the assessment above is not intended to malign in any way the heroic efforts or impugn the character of bishops, priests, and teaching religious who sacrificed their lives to transmit basic Catholic beliefs to childlike believers. Nonetheless, it must be recognized that there was a tendency in Catholic life, prior to Vatican Council II, to place the tower of morals in front of, if not above, the tower of Faith. To understand this phenomenon, we will take a look at the pontificate of Pope Pius X, his exposé of Modernist ideology, and the rebellion of Martin Luther.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Part One - Two Towers

A Roman Holiday

To help the reader grasp better the image of two towers, let me give an actual account of an incident in my life that convinced me beyond any shadow of a doubt that de-Christianization is the separation of the tower of Faith from the tower of morals.

On December 25, 1987, I found myself in Italy conversing with an Irish historian. In a way, this is true. I was in Rome. It was Christmas Day. And I was speaking to a sheep-herder named Liam Riley, an Irishman well-versed in the history of his homeland.

It just so happened that the two of us were staying at the same hotel on Via Aurelia, a stone’s throw from Saint Peter’s Square: Piazza del San Pietro, if you will. Prior to a chance encounter, we had never met one another before.

Apparently, Liam Riley had spotted me at his son’s ordination to the priesthood the day before, and remembered my face and name. This was certainly probable. I was invited to give a short talk by Father Salvatore Grissini after the ordination ceremony. Father Grissini, a former student of mine, was elevated to the priesthood on Christmas Eve alongside Liam’s son, Seamus. That is why Liam and I were in the Eternal City, and, by happenstance, he said, "lodged at the same inn."

There is an entirely different reason, however, why the two of us were now in the hotel lounge, taking the tiredness from our bodies and the chill out of our bones with some "heavenly dew." Only moments before, my wife, daughter, and I had entered the hotel lobby and were heading toward the elevator to take us up to our room. This required passage by the lounge.

"Meehan!" A raspy-toned, Irish brogue called out again, "Meehan!" I peered into the sunlit bar; my wife and daughter went directly to the elevator. My beloved spouse understood only too well that for her and Katie to loll around the lobby would be lunacy since it was an Irishman who called out to me from a "pub."

Entering the premises, I spotted a thin, well-dressed gentleman with a weather-beaten face and mop of curly white hair. He was sitting in a large, but comfortable lounge chair. It was not difficult to assume that the person who "come hithered" me with a gnarled forefinger was the voice. He was the only person in the place. As I approached, he raised up a six-foot frame and we exchanged formal introductions.

After I sat down in a chair that faced Liam Riley, a few pleasantries were passed. "Social blather," he called it. He ordered a pair of potations and, in the round-about Irish way, began to storytell.

Like all superior tale-tellers who know their art well, Liam Riley exuded maturity, experience, and knowledge of lore. He considered himself a sagacious elder, and, in the social context of the lounge that day, it was proper for him to do so. Liam Riley understood, too, that history should serve as the background to a good story. Whether the history presented is fact or fiction is irrelevant. What counts is the rhythmic thrill of a lilting dialogue.

My encounter with this wise patriarch brought to mind another truth about the Irish. They are the saddest of people in their music, literature, and poetry. Yet, they are the most joyous of people when it comes to the prospects of engaging in a good fight. Sitting across from Liam Riley on that Christmas Day at mid-afternoon in Rome, and looking into his unwavering, cobalt blue eyes, I prepared myself for a healthy go-around — of dialogue, that is.

Liam Riley asked, "Now where is it that you come from?" My response was geographically accurate, "The State of New Hampshire in America." A deep groan came from within his soul, and the pain expressed on his ruddy wrinkled face was more than I could bear. So I queried, "Did I say something wrong?"

Intensely irritated, Liam Riley bellowed with the belligerence of a beleaguered teacher, "Something wrong! Something wrong! Are you Americans so dull as to think that the world originated in 1776 and that history began with the Declaration of Independence? When I asked where it is that you come from, I was not trying to help you find your way home. I want to know where your people come from in Ireland. If they were Orangemen, do you think for one wisp of a second I would have extended my personal generosity and invited you to sip and sass with me? Glory be to everything that is divine and holy, see if it is possible for you to respond unlike a dumb beast. Even Balaam’s ass was capable of speaking with some eloquence!"

Immediately, I remembered that an historical setting should open a story, and that "sip and sass" is rhythmic dialogue in thrilling Irish meter. What an idiot! The elderly Irishman had to instruct the American dullard in English tutorial fashion. How embarrassing! So, with reverence and docility, I ordered another round of sips so the sass session could proceed on its appointed course.

"Connemara," I blurted out after the waiter had deposited two libations on the low table that lay between our chairs. The one-word answer caused Liam Riley to pause. He took a long draught from his tumbler-sized glass. That "sip" not only lubricated his well-worn vocal chords, it readied himself for the arduous task of imparting a history lesson as preparation for the story to be told.

For Liam Riley, the task was going to be burdensome. The American did not respond with awe and respect for his forefathers in the Catholic Faith. Obviously, the American was unaware of the price that his ancestors had paid to preserve the tower of Faith in Ireland. You see, Liam Riley is first and foremost a Catholic.

"Sheep-stealers!" There the two of us were — face to face. I said, "Connemara." He replied, "Sheep-stealers." By calling my forefather’s "sheep-stealers," Liam Riley might as well have said they were Catholic criminals. What a two-word dialogue this is, I thought.

The ever-observant eyes of Liam Riley saw that the reaction he sought to bring about within my soul was there. Anger churned within my heart and my cheeks were burning. Satisfied, Liam was prepared now to teach by story. Somehow or other, I was ready to listen and to learn.

With a very brief and short-lived display of gentleness, Liam Riley provided the kind of consolation only a father can give to a son. In a paternally affectionate tone, he stated with sociological certainty, "It was not their fault. They lived on rock. They depended on others to eat and, therefore, to live the Faith." Intrigued, I asked with a truly inquisitive voice, "How did this come to be?" With a pleased look, Liam paused. Taking only a small sip from his glass this time, I realized that real sass-time had arrived.

Stretching his long legs out under the low table, the tension departed from Liam Riley’s face and physique. Then, he gave another pithy, one-word answer, "The rock." I gasped, "The rock! By all that is sane, what do you mean by the rock?"

Here I was faced with the dilemma of the relationship between Faith and morals: my ancestors were Catholic sheep-stealers! And here, the shepherd, Liam Riley, was resolving the ancestral enigma with one word, "Rock." Mustering up every bit of courage possible, I imitated his own expressive language and asked, "Glory be to everything that is divine and holy, what on earth are you talking about?" He smiled and replied, "Earth."

To say that I was numbed is an understatement. Clearly, rock and earth fall into the same general geological category. But, what do pebbles and dirt have to do with the tower of Faith and the tower of morals; how do rock and earth explain the problem of Catholic criminals?

The earlier emphasis by Liam Riley had been on the word, "Faith," not on the immoral act of stealing sheep. This perplexed me, and a querulous frown came upon my countenance. Taking an even smaller sip from his half-filled glass, Liam settled back into his chair with a wide grin. Mentally, I mused that this must be "solemn high" sass-time.

Liam Riley began with a condensed history of a de-Christianized England and a somewhat morally-impoverished Irish populace. He started with King Henry VIII (1491-1547). "‘Defender of the Faith’ he was proclaimed," said Liam. But, he had another title for the English King with eight wives. "Whoremaster," Liam pronounced. In reality, however, the story-telling shepherd was not interested in King Henry VIII and his adulterous acts while seeking a male descendent to occupy the English throne. Liam Riley used the British monarch as a way to introduce the central figure in England’s attempt to de-Christianize Ireland: Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658). With personal and political passion, Cromwell, appointed Lord Protector of Ireland, hated, respectively, the Catholic Faith and the Irish people and was determined to annihilate the former and exterminate the latter.

In compact form, Liam Riley gave the historical account of why Cromwell’s efforts failed. Once again, the connection between the tower of Faith and the tower of morals came forth from the lips of this childlike believer, that is to say, Liam Riley grasped well that there are two towers in Christendom: Faith and morals. He understood, too, what happens whenever the two towers are assailed from within or from without. In this particular case, King Henry weakened the tower of morals in England through adulterous living; Oliver Cromwell sought to destroy the tower of Faith in Ireland by persecuting the "papists."

This period of violence in England and in Ireland was not unknown to me. The novelty was the way Liam Riley juxtaposed King Henry and Cromwell, as if they represented two towers: the tower of Faith and the tower of morals. For Liam, each historical figure represented what was wrong with England and the institutional Church in that country at that time: apostasy (Faith) and personal vice (morals). "It is one thing," Liam remarked, "to be a fallen-away Catholic because of immoral living as was the dissolute Henry. It is quite another to be anti-Catholic because of sinful hatred, as was the infidel Cromwell."

The hatred of Oliver Cromwell for the Catholic Faith and the Irish people impelled him to try to eliminate what he considered aboriginal pagans. To do so, Cromwell marched his militia all the way to the west coast of Ireland. He wrote from Drogheda near Dublin in September, 1649 that the ruthless campaign he waged against the Irish would "tend to prevent the effusion of blood in the future . . . . which otherwise cannot but work remorse and regret." As he went along, he slaughtered childlike-believing Catholics English-style: hanged by the neck, drawn-and-quartered, and left as bird bait. Cromwell and his army finally arrived at Connemara, a remote place just short of the deep cliffs that overlook the Irish Sea.

"Hah!," Liam Riley chortled with a joyous heart and victorious grin. "That is where the Catholic Faith and the Irish people survived. The faithless fraud and his band of butchers had reached the west coast of Ireland, turned around, and never came back. The land, laddie, the land! The rocky land saved the Catholic Faith and the people living on it. Connemara! There is your Faith and your birthright, my boy, a place of Catholic glory and Irish heroism!"

Having established the thrill factor, Liam Riley intensified the rhythm of the story by describing the rocky land of Connemara, the locale of beautiful hand-cut marble. My not-so-rhythmic response was that of an obtuse American. I asked, "Why is that important?"

Sitting bolt upright with his back as straight as a steel beam, the jaw of Liam Riley clenched iron tight. A steam-like hiss came from his trembling lips. His answer was spewed forth by a powerful inner force. "Connemara! Connemara! The rocky land saved the Catholic Faith and the Irish people. There was not a tree to hang them on! There was not a stream to drown them in! There was not a piece of earth to bury them in. Hah!"

From a pragmatic point of view, the west coast of Ireland did become an obstacle in the vicious campaign of Oliver Cromwell. Yet, it is also true that the land represented the triumph of a people whose unyielding courage delivered them from extermination and, thereby, preserved the Catholic Faith and personal belief in their homeland.

The images of trees, streams, and rocky land did not escape me. No persecution could make my ancestors waver ("There was not a tree to hang them on"); no apostate could overwhelm them ("There was not a river or stream to drown them in"); and no misery could swallow them up ("There was not a piece of earth to bury them in"). So, according to Liam Riley, despite their renown as "necessary" Catholic sheep-stealers, my Connemara ancestors were heroic saints. Their unwavering fidelity and courage, he suggested, was the only reason that Catholic John Meehan had the privilege to sit before and learn from Catholic Liam Riley.

As if he himself had just won the victory over Oliver Cromwell and, hence, preserved forever the Catholic Faith in all Ireland, Liam Riley settled back with ease into his paternal throne — the lounge chair. Like the now-setting Italian sun, the prince of storytellers had completed with competence this day’s assignment, and he seemed really pleased to have taught an ignorant American about his Catholic heritage.

Sipping ever so slowly on the last of the John Jameson whiskey, the two of us sat in silence for sometime. Then, with a sudden surge of energy, Liam Riley stood up and stretched his slim frame to the limit. He shook my hand with the strength of a father’s love and said, "Good-bye." I watched his confident gait enter the lobby and disappear. I never saw or heard from Liam Riley again.

Sated by the session of sass, I took the final sip from my own glass. As I reviewed Liam Riley’s tale, the famed Connemara marble took on a new luster because it now had historical meaning: childlike belief and rock-like Faith.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Two Towers

In the coming weeks, we will be posting segments from the text of John Meehan's Two Towers-the deChristianization of America and a Plan for Renewal here. We feel it is an important book deserving wide readership-and thus are putting it online in segments.

John Meehan is the co-founder and retired President of Magdalen College in Warner, NH. Without further words on our part, let us begin at the beginning....

Two Towers-the de-Christianization of America and a Plan for Renewal

(Ccpyright John Meehan 2005)


The Two Towers Explained
For too many years now, I have listened to questions from distraught, almost hopeless, lay people. Why does the Catholic Church in this country seem so wishy-washy? Why have so many young people stopped going to Mass? Why is there such a lack of reverence in church? What happened to priestly vocations? Why are parishes closing? Why is there so much scandal? How did this falling apart come about? What is the cause of this crisis? Who is responsible for it?

This book will attempt to address the substantive issue behind the questions above, and to offer a practical solution. It must be understood from the outset, however, that, while the exposure of sexual misconduct by a few priests and the administrative negligence of some bishops is certainly horrible and humiliating, that scandal is not the actual institutional crisis. The crisis is much deeper than and goes way beyond the sexual perversity of any priest or the malfeasance of any bishop. In my judgment, the crisis in the Catholic Church in America is de-Christianization, which is nothing else than the separation of two towers: the first being the tower of Faith, and the second being the tower of morals.

De-Christianization means that the tower of Faith has become disconnected from the tower of morals. The separation of the tower of Faith from the tower of morals is the taproot of de-Christianization in the United States. As with the destruction of the two towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, the disconnection of Faith from morals has a history and cultural force behind it: the how, why, what, and who, so to speak.

The twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed unexpectedly by a sinister force seeking cataclysmic damage to the economic and political infrastructure of this country. It is no less true that there has been a malevolent attempt to separate, and then to collapse, the two towers of Christendom: Faith and morals.

Let me describe the two towers. Scripturally grounded in our "Father in the Faith" — Abraham of the Old Testament — the tower of Faith is cemented firmly in an ancient heritage and a long-standing tradition. Moses, the Law, and the prophets are its girders. The apostles, the Gospels, and papal succession are its framework. Church councils, ex cathedra declarations, and the lives of saintly men and women are its exterior covering. The Eucharistic Sacrifice, seven sacraments, and Liturgy of the Hours are its interior activity. Comprised of sacred scripture, apostolic tradition, and a living magisterium, this tower is called by the Roman Catholic Church the "Deposit of Faith."

The architectural plan of the tower of morals is found in the order of Creation. Due to the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, the construction of this tower required "hands-on" experience and supernatural intervention. Thus, the erection of the tower of morals proceeded ever so slowly during a near 3,000-year course of Western history. Cost overruns, as it were, came from a long record of unjust laws imposed by a variety of oppressive political regimes and a lack of cultural consensus regarding right ethical behavior. To complete construction of this tower, a common codification of Church and secular law was necessary if the tower of morals was to settle into a recognizable hall of legal justice. The Judeo-Christian system of organizing and directing public and private life by way of Divine Law and the natural law is the foundation supporting the edifice. The administration of just laws is its framework. Human statutes are its exterior covering. Equal protection under law is its interior activity.

Standing side-by-side, the tower of Faith and the tower of morals have served as sturdy pillars of civilized living in most parts of the Western world.


This written work is not a scholarly treatise. It is a brief account of the historical and cultural experiences of a layman who seeks to give solace to every childlike believer who has suffered silently in the pew of a parish church. Childlike believers have agonized because they refused to be defined by any other reference point than their identity as baptized Catholics. In context, their inner suffering has been a muted cry for real freedom.

The cruelest response to the pain of childlike-believing lay people has been the attempt to explain their suffering away with prepackaged psychological or sociological answers from the secular world. But, childlike believers chose not to descend into the hollow pit of human ideas. Rather, they elected to embrace a life of interior freedom through personal prayer, hoping that their children and grandchildren would be spared the agony of baptismal loneliness, a deeply-felt spiritual wound that is hell to endure.

With the strongest possible emphasis, let me state that to be childlike does not mean to be childish or naive, that is to say, a baptized person is to be neither irrational nor simple-minded:

Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. (Mk 10:14-15)

To be childlike means to have a baptismal instinct for the realities found in revealed truths:

The whole company of the faithful, who have an anointing by the Holy Spirit, cannot err in faith. They manifest this distinctive characteristic of theirs in the supernatural instinct of faith (sensus fidei) of the whole people when, from the bishops to the most ordinary lay person among the faithful, they display a universal agreement on matters of Faith and morals. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no.4)

Childlike believers are the baptized who possess a sincere belief in the Person of Jesus Christ and His divinely-founded Catholic Church. The future Pope Benedict XVI, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, while Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Faith and Doctrine in Rome, extolled the fidelity and docility of childlike believers:

The universal Catholic Church still lives also on the enormous strength of those people who are humble believers. In this sense, the great host of those who need love and who give love is indeed her true treasure: simple people who are capable of truth because, as the Lord says, they have remained children. Through all the changes of history, they have retained their perception of what is essential.

With profound fraternal love, this book is dedicated to childlike believers, lay people who see and live by the light of Faith.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

William E. May winner of the 2007 Paul Ramsey Award Winner

Saw this announcement at The Human Future. Here is a clip of the post:

"Husbands and wives... have a "right" to the marital act and to care for life conceived through this act, but they do not have a "right" to a child. A child is not a thing to which husbands and wives have a right. It is not a product that, by its nature, is necessarily inferior to its producers, rather a child [is] like its parents. And this is the moral problem with the laboratory generation of human life..."

"Membership in the human species is of critical moral significance simply because human animals are different kinds of animals. They are different, not because of culture or brains, but because of who they are, that is, beings ultimately minded because within them is a principle of immateriality, of transcendence. Members of this species are beings of moral worth not by reason of anything that they do or achieve, but by reason of what they are."

CBC is proud to announce Dr. May as the winner of the 2007 Paul Ramsey Award. Dr. May joins Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, Dr. Germain Grisez, and Dr. John M. Finnis, as past recipients of an award which honors those who have made significant contributions in their work to defend the dignity of humankind while advancing ethical biotechnology.

Of course Dr. May has also just recently released his memoirs....

If interested, here is the first review...


Brother Charles Madden OFM Conv. (author of Giving Up Stealing for Lent and other family stories and The Mini-Catechism) will be signing his books at the Marytown gift shop this Saturday, December 2nd. Stop by if you are in the area.

Here is an excerpt from a review for Giving Up Stealing for Lent:

Escape back to a simpler, more clear cut time in life through this three decade collection of Madden Family tales.An easy pick up/put down book, everyone in your family, Catholic or not, will find themselves wishing they’d been a part of the loving mayhem that was the Maddens.

We are indebted to Brother Madden for letting us be a part of his warm and entertaining family life.

Nationally Syndicated Humor Columnist and author Karen Rinehart lives in North Carolina where she and her family attend St. James the Great Catholic Chuch. Read more at http://www.busstopmommies.com/