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Satan Never Rests: Another Black Mass Scandal

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City

Satan never rests.  So, once again, Catholics are having to fight against a black mass, this time one planned for September 21 at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall.

Father Roger Landry has a piece in the National Catholic Register, encouraging all Catholics, not just those living in Oklahoma, to help combat this outrage.  Father Landry is from Massachusetts where they successfully prevented a black mass on the Harvard campus.  He is also the national chaplain for Catholic Voices USA, a group which offers communications workshops for Catholics who want to work in the public square and also helps place Catholic voices in various media.

Father Landry spells out clearly and concisely the arguments Catholics can use in situations like this one with both non-Catholics and government leaders.  He also suggests signing a petition urging the event be cancelled.  Go to to do so.

Oklahoma City’s archbishop, Paul Coakley, is asking for prayer and penance including the recitation of the Prayer to St. Michael at the conclusion of every Mass through the Feast of the Archangels on September 29.  He is also inviting all Catholics, Christians and people of good will to join him in prayer for a Holy Hour, outdoor Eucharistic Procession and Benediction at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Oklahoma City at 3 p.m on September 21.

It won’t end here, of course.  As I said in my opening, Satan never rests.  I can’t imagine such a thing as a black mass being enacted anywhere, most especially in a public forum; but it will inevitably be tried again and again.  One wonders what will befall us all if it persists and happens.  God will not be mocked.

Maureen Williamson

Noted Catholic Writers on Democracy and Culture

Probably no one who reads this blog is happy about today’s secular culture.  A few articles I’ve seen recently touch on the subject and are well worth reading.

From Lifesite News was a piece by Anthony Esolen called “You Can’t Have a Culture of Life if You Have No Culture at All.” 

“[Culture] has been destroyed,” says Mr. Esolen and points out that “the most energetic destroyers have been the very people whom we charge with its care: teachers, professors, statesmen, and artists.”

In “Democracy, Tryanny, and the Current Situation”  from Catholic World Report, Fr.  James V. Schall looks at the political world we inhabit and explains that “there is such a thing as a ‘democratic tyranny’.  Liberty without limits or principle undertakes to suppress any criticism of itself and its ways. The people are not citizens who rule themselves. They are state objects who are ruled for their own good. Rousseau’s famous law that everyone must be forced to obey because he only obeys himself is the essence of democratic tyranny and its justification.”

Further he reminds us that “The tyrannical answer to truth is a form of ‘bread and circuses’ wrapped in a self-righteousness that brooks no criticism. The political enterprise is conceived as taking care of the needs of the populace. It also makes the people dependent on the state and beholden to is. The populace is left in a condition of boredom and passivity, especially about ultimate things, which are mostly closed off from them.”

James Kalb

James Kalb

Finally, from James Kalb writing for Crisis in an article entitled “A Vindication of Tradition” the very true observation that, “Tradition is necessary to knowledge, to the arts, and to any remotely satisfactory way of life, because it is uniquely able to make insights and experiences available that would otherwise be lost because they relate to matters that are difficult to state explicitly. Without it, we will never succeed in acquiring a true sensus fidei. With that in mind, we can’t toss it out or treat it as a mere collection of suggestions.”

Which provides wonderful insight into the problems which plague both the world and the Church today.

Maureen Williamson


Let’s Learn about Music: A Picture Book for Teaching Children

m is for melodyM is for Melody by Kathy-jo Wargin is a useful picture book for 6-9 year-olds.  It aims to provide a beginning lesson in music for children.  It succeeds admirably.

Starting with “A is for Anthem” the alphabet and corresponding terms are done in short rhyme. This is a good idea, except that the rhymes aren’t particularly good.  In my opinion, it would have been better to forget this concept.

On the other hand, each entry is also accompanied by a very good explanation of the term and includes related material – and there is a lot of material in this short book.  The alphabet covers words like  “Dynamic” (the volume at which a song should be played).  The entry for “Note” gives children get an explanation of the notes on the scale.  “Woodwinds” has a description of the instruments which fall into this classification along with pictures.

The illustrations are by Katherine Larson.  They are colorful and enhance the lessons which is sure to help spark children’s interest.

At the end of the book is a test with ten questions on the book’s content.  The answers are also provided for parents or teachers.  In addition, the publisher’s website offers a Teacher’s Guide with Activities.

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

One of the eight icons included in "The Little Oratory"

One of the eight icons included in “The Little Oratory”

From Sophia Institute Press comes The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home which shows you how to bring peace to your home by integrating your family into the calm, truly joyful way of Mother Church.  Includes eight full-color icons suitable for framing…Dr. Kevin Roberts, president of Wyoming Catholic College, will appear on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” Friday, August 8 at 8 pm ET.  Dr. Tom Zimmer, WCC’s Assistant Professor of Leadership and Outdoor Education, will join him….Father Frédéric Ozanam, the founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, compiled a collection of all the key Scripture passages for the sick or dying, both from the Old and New Testatments, in The Bible for the Sick, now available in hardcover from Roman Catholic Books….Catholic convert Jim Tonkowich, who writes a weekly column for Christian, has a new book coming from Saint Benedict Press called The Liberty Threat: The Attack on Religious Freedom in America Today.  The publisher is offering  a special introductory savings of 20% off the retail price.

Maureen Williamson

The True Meaning of the Sign of Peace

As many of you probably know, the Congregation for Divine Worship has recently spoken about abuses and misinterpretations of the Sign of Peace in Mass. The Vatican office further made suggestions, as reported by EWTN, “to better express the meaning of the sign of peace and to moderate excesses, which create confusion in the liturgical assembly just prior to Communion.”

There is no doubt that the Sign of Peace has become a social minute right before Holy Communion, a time when the congregation should be concentrating on preparation for the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Deacon Greg Kandra who writes the blog The Deacon’s Bench has a good article on the subject in which he suggests reading a piece called The Sign of Peace – Theory and Practice by Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman, OSB.  Fr. Somerville-Knapman says that the Sign of Peace, “seems an example of theory which is rarely fulfilled in practice. In even the most reverent of Masses the Kiss of Peace sounds a jarring note, and disrupts the heightening liturgical focus on our Lord present in his Body and Blood by forcing us to turn to another and talk, and gesticulate, and to indulge in what seems little more than bonhomie, a group hug, a feel-good moment. Silence and stillness yield to a greater or lesser (all too often greater) hum of conversation and unsynchronized movement.”

That is so true.  And not at all the original meaning of the gesture when it was put into the Mass some forty-plus years ago.

Again, Fr. Somerville-Knapman:

“The important point to note here is that the Kiss of Peace was not about offering our peace to another. It was to acknowledge the peace Christ had won for us by his blood shed on the cross, by which we are reconciled to God and to each other in the Person of Christ, in the Church which is his body. St Paul (Ephesians 2:14-16) again is crucial for this understanding of the Kiss of Peace:

“ ‘The emphasis now is not on some gesture of goodwill towards another, but on mutual recognition that the blood of Christ, about to be received in Communion, has put us at peace with God and also in each other by uniting us into his body, the Church, where together we receive his body, the Eucharist.’

The emphasis now is not on some gesture of goodwill towards another, but on mutual recognition that the blood of Christ, about to be received in Communion, has put us at peace with God and also in each other by uniting us into his body, the Church, where together we receive his body, the Eucharist.”

I always make it a point to say to the people around me, “The peace of Christ be with you.”  No one responds in a like manner.

EWTN’s report on the story notes that “The Congregation for Divine Worship’s final exhortation was that episcopal conferences prepare liturgical catechesis on the significance of the right of peace, and its correct observation.”

We shall see how this plays out.

Maureen Williamson

Have Conservatives Become Cafeteria Catholics?

Father Dwight Longenecker

Father Dwight Longenecker

I generally like Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s blog; but this morning I read one that is just off base.  Called “The Rise of Conservative Cafeteria Catholicism,” it attacks conservative Catholics for being critical of Pope Francis, saying that they have now become “Cafeteria Catholics.”

Fr. Longenecker defines a liberal cafeteria Catholic as among other things “a liberal who picked peace and justice issues but was silent on abortion….picked up on the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper but declined the idea of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass….[they] liked the authority of the individual conscience but put Humanae Vitae on one side.”

“Now,” says Fr. Longenecker, “with Pope Francis the cafeteria Catholics are the conservatives.  They splutter and fume at Pope Francis….they disagree with him about this and reject his words about that just as avidly and with as much fervor as the liberals used to reject Pope Benedict.”

First of all, I see precious little in the conservative Catholic press critical of Pope Francis.  Second, I know of no conservative Catholic who would disagree with Pope Francis on matters of faith and morals.

Cafeteria Catholics who are liberal are not generally just “silent on abortion.”  Those who are politicians actively support pro-abortion laws and regulations like the HHS Mandate.  Those in the general public vote for these politicians.  Such actions put one on the road to hell.

If we conservatives are critical about Pope Francis for his remarks, say, on homosexuality when talking to reporters on the way home from World Youth Day, it is because they were ambiguous about the moral issue of homosexuality in a time when Catholics are fighting same-sex “marriage” in countries throughout the world.  We have all had those words used against us.  However, no one suggests that Pope Francis is pro-same-sex “marriage.”

Being critical of Pope Francis’s words in this case will not put one on the road to hell.  Nor will disagreeing with his emphasis on what issues are most important in the world today.

Except on matters of faith and morals, no pope is above criticism – from liberals or conservatives.  All Catholics, liberal or conservative, must abide by the Church’s teachings on matters of faith and morals.  A cafeteria Catholic is one who picks and chooses which of those teachings he follows.  I don’t think conservative Catholics do that.

Maureen Williamson

Study Guide for the Angus books

Angus and the Ducks

I recently reviewed Marjorie Flack’s Angus stories, three charming books about a black Scotch terrier.   The books lend themselves as the basis for a Study Guide.  As with most of our Study Guides, middle grade children can help the younger ones find the answers and you can give the middle grade children projects more suitable to older children.  I’ve given you some suggested links here with some of the questions/projects, but I’m sure that you can find others.  You also probably have any number of books at home that will help.

1.  In Angus and the Ducks we learn that Angus’s mother and father came from Scotland.  Look up Scotland on a map.

2. Scotland is part of an island.  What is an island?  Scotland is part of which island?

3.  Look at a globe and see if you can find other islands.

4.  For the older children:  Do research and write a paper on one of the following:  Sir William Wallace, Robert Burns, Mary, Queen of Scots, Sir Walter Scott, or Robert Bruce

5.  In Angus and the Cat, Angus is very curious about the cats he sees when he is walking on his leash.  Then, one day, lo and behold, he finds a cat inside his house lying on the sofa.  Look up cats and fun facts about cats.

6.  Do you have a cat or does one of your friends?  Do the cats you know behave like the cat who lives with Angus?

7.  In Angus Lost Angus runs away and has to spend the night in a cave during a snowstorm.  Running away is disobedient.  What commandment does is break?  Discuss the Fourth Commandment with the children

Maureen Williamson

Catholic Charity and the Modern World: Let’s Start All Over

Archbishop Williamson E. Lori (from the Archdiocese of Baltimore website)

Archbishop William E. Lori (from the Archdiocese of Baltimore website)

Here we are with another fight on our hands, we Catholics.

“We’re going to prohibit all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees.  America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.”  So proclaimed President Obama when he signed his latest executive order, banning job discrimination against gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals and trans genders without any accommodation for religious organizations.

“Unprecedented and extreme” was how Bishops William E. Lori and Richard J. Malone, Chairmen of the USCCB Committees for Religious Liberty and Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, respectively, characterized the action.

“With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent,” they continued.

But, as James Kalb points out in The Catholic World Report, “Today everyone respectable rejects the idea of natural order, especially with regard to sexual conduct.  People have been taught to view the concept as a high-toned rationalization for bigoted actions growing out of atavistic feelings of disgust.”  In other words, we are talking a different language than the zeitgeist.

Let’s step back a minute and realize something.  When the government pays for something, it can control that for which it pays.  When the government gets involved in something like health insurance, in which it has no business being involved, for example, it calls the shots.  Like the HHS Mandate.

The bishops, all Catholics and others of faith need to sit down and think about how and why things have changed in this country in the last 50 or so years.

As the California Healthcare Foundation points out, “Fifty years ago, Medicare and Medicaid did not yet exist, and about half of hospital care was not covered by insurance.  In 1960, almost 100% of the spending on prescription drugs came out of the consumer’s pocket, but by 2012, out-of-pocket spending was down to 17%.”

The government, through Medicare and Medicaid, controls a huge part of the medical industry.  Think about all the hospitals which have closed or gone bankrupt in the last 50 years.  Many of these were Catholic hospitals.  Catholic hospitals used to be subsidized by private donations.  As did Catholic orphanages and other charities.  The practice of contracting with the government as hospitals had to with Medicare and Medicaid, or providing adoption services among other things, and contracting with the government to do so, was simply not how it was done.

I suggest Catholics, most especially the bishops, consider the current situation, and stop promoting government action and, thus, interference in, what should be private charity.  Catholic hospitals have closed in huge numbers in the last half century.  Many Catholic adoption services have closed in the past few years.  Much of the blame can be laid at the door of socialized medicine and government interference such as President Obama’s most recent executive order.

At this stage, it is virtually impossible to turn back the clock.  So, we have to start all over again, in small ways, and locally.  Christian charity needs to be free of interference from the government.  He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Maureen Williamson

The Intelligent Catholic’s Guide News and Notes for Catholics

Mother Dolores Hart (From

Mother Dolores Hart (From

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist  which covers basic questions and answers on Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, under the appearance of bread and wine…. Providence College professor Anthony Esolen’s Defending Marriage: Twelve Arguments for Sanity is a defense of traditional, natural marriage, and a deft exposition of “gay marriage” as an impossibility….Mother Dolores Hart talks about her life “From Hollywood to Holy Vows” on EWTN July 26….Looking for good spiritual books?  Trent Beattie has some recommendations in a National Catholic Register piece, Catholic Classics for Everyone….The Morgan Library and Museum in New York plans an exhibition featuring The Crusader Bible, an illuminated manuscript which the museum says is “renowned as much for its unrivalled and boldly colored illustrations as it is for its fascinating history.”  The exhibition runs from October 17 through January 5….Prayer Works! Getting a Grip on Catholic Spirituality brings the concepts and actual practice of prayer into sharper focus for Catholics.  Author is Matthew Leonard, the internationally known speaker, author, and Executive Director of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology founded by Dr. Scott Hahn.

Out of the Mouths of Unbelievers

The other evening my husband and I had dinner with a few friends, all of them involved in music in one way or another.  Three of us were Catholic; two were not.  The talk turned to the bad and banal and often irreverent  music in some Catholic churches.  (My husband sings traditional hymns and classical music at Mass at our parish.)  One of the non-Catholics commented that she had played the piano once at a Catholic wedding and been surprised to find that she was asked to play syncopated music.  Her husband, the other non-Catholic at the table, made an interesting comment.

The Catholic Church, he pointed out, is known for its tradition and formality, including the  music.  That is what outsiders expect, he said.  If you convert to Catholicism, that is what you expect.  He clearly saw the value of the lovely, reverent music from our Church’s heritage which all too few churches use these days.

Interesting isn’t it, that after years of awful music in many churches, the old-fashioned sacred music is still what outsiders perceive as being the Church’s music?   And what they respect?

Maureen Williamson

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