Modern Persuasion with a deadly message

Good point in this review of Persuasion: Netflix, like the other streaming platforms, is mostly producing content for us to be (vaguely and mildly) entertained while we do other things. It's sad to see Austen used as fodder for such a project, but as Kayleigh Donaldson says, public domain material helps the production bottom line.

So a big part of what seems so objectionable in the new Persuasion, if the reviews I've read are correct, can actually be attributed to sheer laziness and dare I say cheapness of the enterprise, in which the viewers and consumers are complicit when we accept our part of the contract: that we won't pay attention.

Fine. 

I just want to warn against the message conveyed at the end of the trailer, be it ever so ubiquitous and not limited to this disaster of a remake: "Don't let anyone tell you how to live -- or who to love." 

Well, if we are honest, we can look around and see that if there were more guardians burdened by their duty to guide the young in our society, we'd be better off. This is on my mind right now due to a tragic event in my own community. Yes, girls! Let those who love you help you! 

A lazy production can't help having a lame world view, but this one can destroy happiness. Those who read the book (perhaps belatedly, while in jail for their cinematic crimes?) know that Anne Eliot actually loves and respects -- and understands and even forgives! -- Lady Russell and her motives for directing her young charge away from her attachment to Captain Wentworth. The subsequent, more mature recovery of their love is the result, as always with Austen, of a rational attachment. It's only our modern sensibility that sees conflict in the connection between reason and love.

But a young woman who thinks, because her ideas of love are formed by the entertainment industry, that there is no danger to her happiness and even her life in being left without counsel regarding how to live and who to love (whom, really, but let it pass) is being sadly and even fatally misguided. Miss Jane thought so, even while she admitted that Lady Russell was mistaken. Erring is not as bad as not making the effort

(I heartily recommend this book for a deeper investigation into Jane Austen's real view of romantic love: The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Kantor. Delightful in its complete grounding in the novels and clarifying for the perplexed.)

A pro-life betrayal and wake-up call

A reader recently asked me if I didn't think that emergency contraception is okay in the case of rape, if it is administered with due regard to the time of the woman's cycle, so as to not cause an abortion. Since the sexual act is not consented to, it constitutes an intrusion that the woman is justified in resisting. And I think that is true if the claim is correct. 

We have to be cautious in these matters, because unbeknownst to many, the definitions of certain key terms have been politicized. In order to get abortion past the pro-life watchdog, even scientists and medical practitioners have re-defined conception to mean implantation, contrary to reason -- an entity is what it is, regardless of its position. A dog is a dog even if you shoot it into space; a baby is a baby even if it is in the fallopian tube and not implanted in the uterus.

Even if we accept the shaky claim that the morning after pill can simply prevent ovulation if taken at the right point in the woman's cycle, we must admit the difficulty of imagining a scenario in which this distinction between a potential life not yet conceived and one in its earliest stages would be observed. We have to be realistic about how these things play out.

 If the woman is willing to observe her status and abstain from using the "morning after pill" to kill developing life within her (again, assuming that the claim is true, which I have not been convinced), then she can make that determination in her conscience. But for society to approve the chemical protocol being given to her as a policy would likely trample on any opportunity to examine conscience; it would simply become business as usual to resort to abortion in the case of rape. And that is wrong. 

Well, the matter has come to a point for the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops (LCCB). They have endorsed a new state law requiring hospitals to dispense emergency contraception to sexual assault victims. 

The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops (LCCB) has come out in favor of emergency contraception for cases of rape, despite the abortifacient nature of the measure and the Vatican’s insistence that it is morally impermissible.

According to The Advocate, Costanza said the language of the law “was reviewed by the church” and found to conform with directives issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USSCB).

“A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault,” Costanza said, adding that “after appropriate testing, she can be treated with appropriate medication to prevent ovulation.”

Emergency contraception is commonly believed to prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation. But recent research has shown that it does little to prevent a woman from ovulating, though it can effectively kill an embryo by blocking it from implanting in the uterus.

The key, again, is to realize the subterfuge, specifically designed to pass abortion measures under the noses of those who oppose killing the unborn, of redefining what constitutes conception. I can't imagine the naïveté of a bishop going along with such a basic error of fact (and failing to offer teaching to help those under his care navigate the difficulties of modern life).

Stunningly, in a concession that calls into question the point of even having a pro-life group to vet political challenges, "Benjamin Clapper, the executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, also endorsed emergency contraception in a statement to The Advocate, suggesting that the destruction of an embryo before implantation doesn’t constitute an abortion."

I don't know if the good pro-life people of Louisiana realize that their donations and work on behalf of the unborn are not represented by this group, but everyone needs to wake up and check on who is minding the store. If bishops and pro-lifers are going to start endorsing bills that are clearly meant to provide abortions -- i.e. kill the unborn -- then we need a change in leadership. 

Here is a detailed article that explains the scientific error in claiming that life begins at implantation. 



The hidden reason Roe fell

This article by Suzan Sammons is exactly right! Covid Jabs Revealed Hidden Pro-life Heroes

There are so many heroes of the pro-life movement -- some we know well, some we do not know. My own dear husband, Phil Lawler, was arrested when we had five small children (I think it was five then... ) and became the object of a federal RICO suit. 

Phil even wrote a book about the largest civil rights movement ever in our country, the one you never heard of (both the movement and the book): Operation Rescue, a Challenge to the Nation's Conscience

Our friend Bill Cotter, Operation Rescue leader, spent 18 months in prison for a misdemeanor in his efforts for the unborn. That was so long ago that most pro-life activists today would hardly recognize his name. Joan Andrews spend that long in solitary confinement -- solitary confinement -- for her peaceful witness in saving the unborn. 

But Suzan is correct when she says:

As much gratitude as I have for the pro-life leaders—the big names—who inspired me and guided me in my pro-life work, I am proudest of you hidden heroes. You were only revealed by the diabolical process that brought us the Covid vaccines, and few of us know your names. But when the moment of truth came, your convictions withstood the intense pressures of the regime that surrounds us. You stood by those truly nameless little ones whose only voice is ours.

Finally, after years and decades of some (but not all) pro-lifers trying to tell people that many vaccines use aborted fetal tissue in their development, testing, and production, the truth came out and people had the time -- were forced into having the time -- to read about it. 

As Suzan explains, the extreme Covid lockdowns and unjust pressure to take the jab are to thank for the awakening of a solid portion of our population to the ugly reality of our medical system's reliance on the death of countless unborn babies. 

Those who were awakened took a costly stand in many cases.

Everyone whose heart was truly with the unborn quickly realized the moral problem presented by the Covid vaccines. With their release coming at the same time as ever-increasing and horrifying revelations about the use of fetal tissue, many individuals had simply had enough. 

Sure, they’d prayed for an end to abortion, they’d gone to the March for Life for years, they were dedicated to supporting their local pregnancy care centers, they’d voted pro-life, boycotted the right companies, and stood up for life in debates with their friends or family. But now their beliefs were going to really cost them. They were going to lose their jobs—or in some cases their whole careers. They were not going to be able to go to their chosen college. They would not be able to visit their aging parents. The rubber met the road. 

And we passed the test. A pharmacist was fired because he refused to administer the vaccine…A hospital insurance processor took an entry level job in a new field to get out of the healthcare industry… A 30-year veteran teacher was forced out of her school system…A priest was willing to sign religious exemptions in spite of pressure not to do so…A breadwinner of a large family risked his job rather than comply with a vaccine mandate…A career military dad had to leave the Air Force without his benefits because of his refusal to take the jab…

And these real life examples? Multiply them by thousands. 

Finally, many did what is the only thing one can do, when moderate theological arguments fail and hope for gradual change runs out, when bishops refuse to witness (with a few exceptions) and people lose interest or succumb to what they see as the exigencies of normal life (school and sports participation, for instance). In the lockdown shakeup of everyday life, in the midst of fear, with all normality vanished, it was the ultimatum of all the so-called experts to submit that made enough people say, "I'm just not going to go along with this any more. There is no way I will take that shot. It's just wrong."

I do give credit to and must name one clergyman (and husband and father, as he is a Melkite), who spoke out in a compelling way before the lockdowns, when the political pressure for mandated vaccines was looming, and that is Fr. Michael Copenhagen. 

At a rally in 2019, in a brief but stirring speech, Fr. Copenhagen made the case that in conscience, one cannot go along with immorally derived medical products or the legalistic rationale for accepting them. I believe his clarifying words broke the ground for people to rise up against the Covid vaccines when they were pushed on us.

Fr. Copenhagen was able presciently and boldly to challenge* the prevailing line of acquiescence to immoral products comfortably offered by theologians and adopted by the hierarchy:

For those who argue that participation becomes licit if receiving the vaccine is looked at as a temporary solution to a significant public health danger, they should know that it is not temporary but expanding and that it will be forced regardless of whether it helps public health or not. Public authorities who support public murder cannot be taken seriously as guarantors of public health...

When [Tobit] was mocked by his kinsmen for adherence to these good works and told that his deeds were hopeless, he rebuked them: “Speak not so. For we are the children of saints, and look for that life which God will give to those that never changetheir faith from Him.”3 I remind all those who imitate Tobit’s naysayers and persecutors that the God of heaven and earth is very much alive and very much offended, that He loves each of these murdered and exploited children as His particular creatures, that He will restore life to their bodies in the Resurrection on the last day, rejoining body and soul in these innocents who were denied baptism and the chance to live based on the whim of tinkerers trying to extend our finite years, that He will restore this “biological material” to its rightful place and its rightful owner on that day, and we will all meet these children face to face. 

Suzan says:

In the profound working of God’s unfathomable providence, Roe was overturned on June 24, when the feast of the Sacred Heart of our dear Lord converged with the feast of St. John the Baptist. Overflowing love meets unshakeable moral conviction in these two feasts, and this is no coincidence. 

St. John the Baptist [on whose feast and that of the Sacred Heart Roe was overturned] refused to wink at the sin of Herod, and he publicly called him to repentance. He gave his life to uphold the moral law. You who were willing to sacrifice rather than accept a jab tainted by abortion did likewise. Perhaps you felt your stance was small in the grand scheme of things. I would say that our Lord has shown us otherwise. Your choice was rooted in sacrificial love like that of His own Sacred Heart. He honored that gift—those thousands of gifts from the lifeblood of American pro-lifers. 

Do read Suzan Sammons' whole article -- it's outstanding. 

It's never a waste to follow one's conscience. In fact, it's required of us. In this case, we were given the grace to see the outcome in a big way: the final toppling of the most deadly court case our nation has ever known. 

Is Elijah too harsh? Bishop Barron thinks so

Simply because he reaches many people as a trusted, putatively orthodox guide, Bishop Robert Barron gets pushback from little old me. I don't like to see people misled. So I have to say something.

In 2020 I had stumbled upon Bishop Barron's commentary on the Prophet Elijah*. In this podcast: The Best and Worst of Religion (in the category "Sermons" -- evidently meant to provide material for homilists), he returns to a theme he had already covered quite a while before. Basically, the title sums it up: in Barron's view, Elijah represents the worst of religion in his harsh response to the prophets of Baal, dramatically killing 450 of them for their false worship (see 1 Kings chapter 9). For Barron, only the Spirit speaking in a whisper is "good religion"; all else is "the worst."

Previously, Barron had given the title "Elijah, You're Fired!" to his first podcast on the subject. Ignoring the teaching of the Church Fathers on the question and apparently unaware of Elijah's status as Pillar of the Prophets**, place of high honor (especially in the East), harbinger of Christ's Second Coming, and appearance in the New Testament at the Transfiguration along with the great Patriarch Moses, Barron trivializes the account in the Book of Kings, representing it as a sort of cardboard show in which God, exasperated with Elijah's exhibition of Worst-ness in Religion, "fires" him and replaces him with Elisha. 

Passing over further comment on the superficiality of this analysis, hardly worthy of a man of Barron's education and erudition, not to mention ecclesiastical position as guardian of the faith, I want to put on the record the response given to me by Fr. Mankowski, when I emailed him about my astonishment at the sheer arrogance of the man, doubling down after many years on his truly bad take.

Fr. Mankowski replied:

Painfully ironic, in view of the fact that Baal worship (in Palestine and in Canaanite colonies) included infant sacrifice in which babies were burned alive, as ancient authors attested and modern archaeology confirms***. 

One site alone turns up the remains of 20,000 sacrificed infants. Elijah might have been somewhat old-fashioned in his notions of ecumenical dialogue, but in terms of "the worst of religion" his putting the Baalites out of business is an odd choice."

Yesterday, Micah Meadowcroft over at The American Conservative posted a good, heartfelt piece connecting the impending Supreme Court decision on Dobbs, if it goes as we expect in overturning Roe and subsequent rulings on abortion, and the striving of Elijah over the prophets of Baal: Dobbs as a Little Cloud.

He rightly observes:

And it came to pass after many days…” So starts the triumph of Elijah over the priests of Baal, and the return of rain to a desert land. Many days here is a matter of years, and the kingdom of Israel has suffered under a famine. 

In the nearly 50 years since Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973, more than 62 million human babies, each made in the image of God, have been slaughtered on the altar of convenience. 

“I have not troubled Israel; but you, and your father’s house, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and have followed Baalim.” So answered Elijah when the king, Ahab husband of Jezebel, blamed the prophet of God for the dryness of the land. And he challenged Ahab, and the Baalimites, and the people of Israel, to come to Mount Carmel and see there what the Lord might do. 

But even Mr. Meadowcroft does not quite make the connection. Yes, the immediate point of contention was the immolation of a bull on the altar. However, the followers of Baal, when not being challenged by Elijah, worshipped their idol, as Fr. Mankowski pointed out, precisely in sacrificing their infants. It was that abomination that provoked the prophet to his response, so shocking to our modern sensibilities. So Meadowcroft is closer than even he knows in drawing the parallel. And closer than Bishop Barron, that's for sure.

 

A thought on "teen pregnancy"

Teen pregnancy isn't in itself terrible. For most of history, women were "teens" or close enough by our standards when they had their first children -- because most people in history married at an age we consider young.

But pregnancy out of wedlock at any age is a tragedy and is devastating for the child.

Very often, we look at the issue only from the point of view of the mother. We hardly ever consider what not having a father bound to the mother in holy matrimony means to a child.

A lot of harm has been done by trying to normalize unwed pregnancy and by tying it to the age of the mother instead of her marital status.

(Today in the US, the average age for marriage is 30, which is a tragedy for society as a norm -- of course any individual woman may have reasons for it.)

I recommend watching the movie The Well-Digger's Daughter (2011) for some insight into this truth. It's a beautiful film on a cinematic and symbolic level (not everything in it is meant to be taken as a literal or even psychological fact).

Notes on the baby formula crisis

[I will update this post as I am able, at the end]

I see that social media has caught up with my warning of nearly two months ago that baby formula supplies are dwindling or disappearing. There seem to be Reasons -- I am not sure what's going on, but there is no question in my mind that it's yet another grievous outcome for children of the unjust and disastrous lockdown measures of the past two years. 

My readers know that I think mothers can and should breastfeed their babies. In my podcast I urge any expectant mother to do so, and on my other blog and in my book set (affiliate link) I have a plethora of writings to help. I am very well aware of the problems! Because breastfeeding has become so technologized, if that is the word I'm looking for, when thinking about work schedules and pumping and bottles-going-by-the-breastfeeding-name, not to mention childbirth itself, many women who try to do it end up failing. They are set up for failure by our medical system.

There also seems to be an epidemic of mid-line malformations, specifically in the mouth of the infant, that result in difficulties, but these ought to be immediately investigated by the pediatrician and solved -- and certainly, long-term, prevented. 

There are a few mothers and babies who cannot make breastfeeding happen, but I am deeply suspicious of the instantaneous reaction against the statement that it's a natural process and the great majority can do it. 

I have learned that when the knives come out, there is an agenda behind that response. If I said that normally, human beings stand up and walk, and all the comments were about "some just can't, stop the pressure and judgement," I would wonder what is going on. Some indeed just can't walk. But that doesn't change the fact that the great majority do and we should be making sure they do.

The issue with breastfeeding is that (for the new mother) it has to be started right away. So it is indeed imperative that we do our utmost to help mothers in this area. Once breastfeeding is abandoned, it cannot be restored, and if there is no formula available, baby will starve or be malnourished. This is not a controversial statement, although it is an alarming one -- but that is not my fault! 

These things will happen, that is, if the mother relies on commercial baby formula. 

We need to shed our dependence on the industrialization of food, including baby formula. I have seen an old "recipe" for home-made formula going around and it's not a good one. Let's not feed our babies corn syrup. Instead, if baby can't get breastmilk, which is by far the best food for him, use this recipe from the Weston-Price Foundation. Do your own research, by all means. You will find that formula is not the mysterious substance it's made out to be, but it does require thought to come up with something that will help the baby thrive. 

Please share this information with mothers in a tight spot. 

Here is the recipe. I would home-pasteurize the raw milk if I didn't know the cow and farmer personally. Heating the milk to 161℉ is far gentler than pasteurized milk from the store, which is heated up to 300℉. You will still get the goodness of the nutrients without the possible pathogens.  You can use milk from the store, though, if that's what you have. And you can buy A2/A2 organic dry milk powder and reconstitute it. Here is a source (affiliate link).

Do visit the site where this recipe is footnoted with sources, and followed by a lot of information and other ideas about making formula, including one mom's quick version.


Raw Milk Baby Formula

Makes 36 ounces.

Our milk-based formula takes account of the fact that human milk is richer in whey, lactose, vitamin C, niacin, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to cow’s milk but leaner in casein (milk protein). The addition of gelatin to cow’s milk formula will make it more digestible for the infant. Use only truly expeller-expressed oils in the formula recipes, otherwise they may lack vitamin E.

The ideal milk for baby, if he cannot be breastfed, is clean, whole raw milk from old-fashioned cows, certified free of disease, that feed on green pasture. For sources of good quality milk, see www.realmilk.com or contact a local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

If the only choice available to you is commercial milk, choose whole milk, preferably organic and unhomogenized, and culture it with a piima or kefir culture to restore enzymes (available from G.E.M. Cultures 253-588-2922.

Ingredients

2 cups whole raw cow’s milk, preferably from pasture-fed cows

1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) Note: Do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese (which will cause the formula to curdle). Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk.

4 tablespoons lactose

1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis

2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (preferably not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows

1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil

1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)

1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons coconut oil

2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes

2 teaspoons gelatin

1-7/8 cups filtered water

1/4 teaspoon acerola powder


Instructions


Put 2 cups filtered water into a pyrex measuring pitcher and remove 2 tablespoons (that will give you 1-7/8 cups water).

Pour about half of the water into a pan and place on a medium flame.

Add the gelatin and lactose to the pan and let dissolve, stirring occasionally.

When the gelatin and lactose are dissolved, remove from heat and add the remaining water to cool the mixture.

Stir in the coconut oil and optional high-vitamin butter oil and stir until melted.

Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients into a blender.

Add the water mixture and blend about three seconds.

Place in glass bottles or a glass jar and refrigerate.

Before giving to baby, warm bottles by placing in hot water or a bottle warmer. NEVER warm bottles in a microwave oven.


UPDATE: For babies with allergies: "I’m also going to show you how to make a hypoallergenic meat based formula in the event your baby has a true milk allergy." 

UPDATE: To bring back breastmilk (or even possibly begin breastfeeding for the first-time mom who missed the newborn window), see this article. However, restarting breastfeeding or stimulating milk production in a non-postpartum woman will almost always require supplementation, and the point here is that formula is scarce. So, back to the recipe!

UPDATE: The New York Times warns against homemade formula.

Points I want to make about what they say:

1. It is really important not to get into this awful dilemma if possible. We have to help women breastfeed their babies. STOP leading with "not everyone can" and START figuring out how to encourage.

2. There are two main points here and the first one applies equally to commercial formula when it's restricted/expensive, as it is now: the problem of diluting it. It is dangerous to give an infant more water than is in breastmilk or balanced formula, and the fact is that THIS is a significant problem with ALL formula -- the temptation to dilute it. It is not applicable to homemade formula ALONE.

3. The other point is that one can introduce bacteria and that is true. But mothers can do hard things like prepare formula for babies at home if they must, in a sanitary way. We don't need a corporation to take things out of our hands. Following normal hygienic practices will protect high-quality formula -- if the mother has all the information and encouragement she needs. 

4. Certainly, factory formula can be contaminated, and it's well known that those feeding babies are not careful about how they reconstitute it.  

UPDATE: Remember that it's possible there are breast milk donors in your area. Facebook is a good way to find the group you need, and your local hospital or board of health might be able to help you. 


UPDATE: Use your common sense, and as I say in the main part of the post, do your research. A commenter below mentioned the controversy around fermented cod liver oil. The point with the formula is to have highly nutritious ingredients and cod liver oil is a good fat -- breastmilk is high in fat and babies need it. Look it up and maybe use regular cod liver oil. If I were making it, I'd look up each ingredient I wasn't familiar with and then decide if it's absolutely necessary in a pinch and if I really want it in there. But overall, I think that it's a tried-and-true healthy recipe for homemade formula, to be used when breastfeeding is not possible.



The vexed dilemma of concelebration at the Chrism Mass

The dilemma: 

On the one hand, the irenic wish to demonstrate docility towards the bishop, always a good default position.

On the other, the danger of sacrificing principle for the hope that one's mission can continue undisturbed.

Peter Kwasniewski examines the issue of the indult institutes and traditional clergy taking part in the Chrism Mass by means of actual concelebration; his arguments are worth reading and include many resources to back up his position. 

It's helpful to survey the various liturgical and canonical experts he calls upon, because most Catholics consider this matter of concelebration trivial and accept it as a norm, without examination, when it is by no means supported from tradition. After all, the faith itself is based upon and upheld by tradition! 

Somehow I sense that this statement will be met with interior resistance from many readers, but it is simply true. Yesterday's Feast of the Apostles Philip and James had, in the Office of Readings (Novus Ordo, so... ), a passage from the Book of Acts, which includes this verse: 

Every family has to be traced back to its origins. That is why we can say that all these great churches constitute that one original Church of the apostles; for it is from them that they all come. They are all primitive, all apostolic, because they are all one. They bear witness to this unity by the peace in which they all live, the brotherhood which is their name, the fellowship to which they are pledged. The principle on which these associations are based is common tradition by which they share the same sacramental bond. (Acts 5) [My emphasis]

(And I have argued that besides all the important reasons adverted to in Kwasniewski's article and elsewhere, concelebration has yet another detrimental effect of making reception of Holy Communion in the hand a difficult practice to dislodge.)

My observation of other institutes is that it doesn't end well to do things contrary to the consciences of its founders and members -- things that are not necessarily outright immoral, but that do, bit by bit, represent compromises on essential matters of liturgy, doctrine, and practice. There is more than one way to wear down one's apostolate and vocation.

Clergy could attend the Chrism Mass in choro, and there are other ways, as explained at length in the article, to demonstrate unity. "If what is desired of the traditional clergy is that they should freely and publicly express their communion with the local bishop and the presbyterate, it is manifest that concelebration is not the only way to express it." 

Catholics who love tradition (again, all Catholics in theory) should be alert to slippery slopes, which have been our downfall on so many occasions. How many times will our good will be mangled? We should stand on rights against abusive authorities:

Chartier [the author Kwasniewski is responding to] calls into question the fittingness of applying Canon 902 to the Chrism Mass, yet any sidestepping of Canon 902 raises a deeper problem. The requirement of an annual concelebration can be seen as a way in which to insist that modern Church customs and pontifical preferences surpass and relativize tradition and canon law, which has been the pattern throughout Francis’s pontificate and indeed throughout all postconciliar pontificates, back to Paul VI’s surrender to northern European pressure regarding communion in the hand, or John Paul II’s surrender on the question of female altar servers. Being pressured into concelebrating, even for the “best” of reasons, is the first step on a slippery slope of giving up other rights and traditions.

And we need to resist legalistic rationalizations in matters of love and duty, in matters of faith. Our Savior spent His precious time on earth warning against it, yet nowadays it's almost our only mode -- something that should pierce us with remorse. Kwasniewski:

In short: however valid the new sacramental rites are, their legitimacy and licitness should not be assumed a priori. If there were even a slight doubt in the mind of a priest in this regard, he should not concelebrate the new Mass, for there would be a kind of dissimulation or dishonesty at work, and his conscience would rightly reproach him for it. [My emphasis]

Ultimately, the main purpose of any traditional entity, personal or institutional, would be diminished and even vitiated if important matters are yielded. And let's not forget the detrimental effect on the bishop, who will be a better apostle when challenged by those with purified intentions. 

Bishops are surrounded by yes-men. They have come to imagine that their slightest whims must be obeyed, and yet I would say there are virtually none upon whom it dawns that they could rightly require obedience on matters of faith and morals -- subjects actually under their purview. They want total conformity to norms on using sanitizer but have no strong opinions on approaching Holy Communion having promoted abortion. 

"Worthy of note is Fr. Murray’s reminder that even if a bishop had evidence and reason to correct a priest about his opinions, there would still be no basis for requiring concelebration at the Chrism Mass. It is not legally translatable into a requirement." You know what is legally translatable into a requirement? Public reparation for public sin. Not seeing too much of that these days, more's the pity.

It would do the bishops good to be stood up to for the sake of a right principle. What's the worst that can happen? Expulsion? It will happen anyway if such a matter, characterized by its proponents as not that important, represents the sort of pretext he would use. Better to be hung as a sheep than as a goat!  


Scandal

What is the scandal here? 

On Facebook, Fr. William Kuchinsky posted an article from the Washington Post* about his, Fr. Kuchinsky's, actions in obtaining, offering a requiem Mass for, and personally burying more than 100 "human fetuses" i.e. babies.

Kuchinsky, a West Virginia priest well known for his antiabortion activism, had been called to the apartment on March 28 by other antiabortion activists who said they had gotten the remains from the driver of a medical waste disposal truck in D.C. — an account the waste company denied. Lauren Handy, who rented the apartment, and Terrisa Bukovinac, another activist, had asked Kuchinsky to come, and he celebrated a funeral Mass.

Kuchinsky said he also agreed to take nearly all the fetuses, which the priest knew some would see as stolen and deeply disrespected, while others would call them rescued and honored.

***

Police last week would say only that the case remained “under active investigation.” Earlier this month, they said they were investigating the actions of activists as well as whether proper procedures were followed in disposal of the remains.

Everyone knows that if the remains of these little human beings had been incinerated in what our society considers, without much examination, to be the approved manner, not a murmur would be raised -- certainly no Washington Post articles are ever written about that subject.

This Post article isn't quite sure what to make of Fr. Kuchinsky and the activists who took the dead babies for burial (and as evidence of law breaking). Other pro-lifers have criticized Father for showing pictures of what he discovered in the containers. Recently I saw images of animals in nets on the sidewalk, presumably in Shanghai -- and the comments were full of anguish at the very thought of the inhumanity of it all, even though the same story also told of (but did not picture) infants torn from their mothers. 

The Post article's authors seem not to know what to make of the priest taking the remains to his kitchen so that he could prepare a service for them, nor are they sure what that service consists of. It seems clear to me that these reporters have come to a place -- the apartment where the activists took care of the remains, in fact -- where their preconceptions about "women's access to reproductive rights" don't stretch to cover or even cast a shadow over the facts; and the facts, which include 100 dead babies prayed over and buried, won't arrange themselves in a way that allows them to dismiss the priest as a wrong-doer, though they are evidently disposed to do so.

At first I thought this article expressed scandal over the activists' actions; on re-reading it, I find that there is something else there. I think of it as a sense of being completely surprised that anyone would take any of the steps the activists have taken, much less all of them. That surprise doesn't translate into a serious journalistic commitment to uncover the crimes of the abortion industry, but it is something different from what we usually see. Fr. Kuchinsky, Lauren Handy, and Terrisa Bukovinac have achieved something in bringing them to that point. 

And they have done the right thing in burying these poor dead. 

I called it: Mothers need to breastfeed their babies now

What did I call? Well, the news today is that Walgreen's is restricting purchases of baby formula. Think about that. I also was right about what to do about this unbelievable development, but it takes forethought.

I have ventured into podcasting in association with The Center for the Restoration of Christian Culture, of which I am a Fellow. It's called The Home Truths Good Cheer Society, and in my first episode, posted a few weeks ago, called "The Reasonably Stocked and Prepared Life, or Doing a Little More," I spoke a bit about the importance of breastfeeding.

Now, I have a lot of reasons to encourage breastfeeding and in my book, The Summa Domestica, I have chapters and chapters on the subject. But in the podcast I really wanted to focus on something that struck me forcibly as I thought about inevitable shortages of food in the coming time.

My question is a frightening one, and we are seeing it now: What if you have a baby and rely on baby formula -- and there isn't any to be had? 

When you breastfeed, you don't need to buy anything -- although I know that this could be news to today's young mother who is led to think you do need pumps, bottles, and who knows what.

But you don't.

But if you rely on formula, there's no going back. 

Also contrary to what you might be led to believe, the vast majority of women can breastfeed their babies. Believe me, having written about it extensively, I am well aware that exceptions exist. But they are exceptions and they are rare. Breastfeeding a baby is just as essential a bodily function as one's own digestion and so on. However, breastfeeding is something the mother must commit to at the outset or it doesn't work (unless she has had children before, and even then it can be difficult).

The shortsighted and even dangerous reliance on "science" -- the rationale for bottle feeding in the first place -- has caught up with us. 

If you are going to have a baby soon or know someone who is, please realize that breastfeeding needs to be a priority. There are many helps for overcoming cultural pressure to do otherwise, including on my blog and in my book.

UPDATE HERE

Justice and War: Ukraine and Russia

A couple of weeks ago I offered a short list of readings, to assist with sorting out the fundamental issues in Eastern Europe and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I was and continue to be skeptical about the quality of the information we are given, while of course wishing to be informed. 

Today I want to be sure that readers here connect with what my husband, Phil Lawler, has written on the subject -- a three-part essay that gives perspective on the strategic and moral issues (especially from our perspective in the US as we contemplate involvement in what could, frighteningly, become World War III) but also the religious ones, which are fundamental to understanding what is going on, and will not be widely reported.

You will find all three parts of his analysis linked in this last one: Justice and War in Ukraine—Part III: The crucial religious dimension.


Must Not Be Obeyed

Yes, I too, in my own small way, also try to advert to John Henry Newman and the clear example of history, studied and depicted by that admirable saint, regarding the Arian heresy and its resisters. (I even wrote a chapter of my book God Has No Grandchildren (affiliate link), pointing to Newman to show the appropriateness of the laity resisting false teaching in the case of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation following the Synods on the Family that took place a few years ago.)

Fr. Hunwicke can rest assured that there is at least one housewife deep in Central Massachusetts who joins him in his crusade (but I freely admit there are probably more than just one!), which he describes here:

I keep on writing about the terminology elaborated by S John Henry Newman: which he termed 'the Suspense in the function of the Ecclesia Docens': a way of looking at things which arose from Newman's own detailed study of the period of the Arian Controversy. I last did this, I think, on March 16. Nobody ever seems to take much interest in my one-man campaign, although I think that it is an essential hermeneutic for living in the Church at this present moment. Go on ... sneer ... raise one of your many expressive eyebrows and then move on ... see if I care ...

So I am grateful to him for pointing to the recent words of Cardinal Gerhard Müller in an interview with LifeSite News. Cardinal Müller says:

Whoever wants to prescribe to the faithful other sources of revelation besides the Holy Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition, has fallen away from the Catholic faith (cf. Vatican II, Dei verbum 9f). Heretical bishops must not be obeyed, and every Catholic is called upon to bear witness to the truth against them, even if they enforce their power with brute force, just as the Arian and Donatist bishops once persecuted true Catholics.

Must Not Be Obeyed.