An Encrustation of Barnacles


By Charlie Johnston

I believe that Pope Francis is the legitimately elected Pope. In fact, I will go further than that and say I HOPE he is the legitimately elected Pope.

The great controversies in the history of the Church have been the fertile ground in which authentic doctrinal development and refinement has been accomplished. People usually think that holy proclamations have just proceeded through the millennia in a stately, ordered fashion with all right-thinking folks nodding their heads and shouting, “Hallelujah!” Every serious human endeavor, even one as simple as growing a vegetable garden, involves toil, sweat, mud – and sometimes blood to come out right.

In the first millennium of Christianity, most of the controversies were over the nature of Christ and of the Trinity. The battles were hard and earnestly fought. The fruit of them has been our understanding of the nature of Christ and the Trinity, which would not now be nearly so elegant and refined were it not for these battles. In the second millennium, the battles were primarily over who had legitimate authority to speak for Christ. This led to the Orthodox breaking communion with the Pope in 1054 and the Protestant Reformation splitting Christianity in 1517. I cannot say with any confidence what the fruit of these controversies are. Now we have entered into a controversy over what obedience actually entails – and what both the extent and the limits of a Bishop’s authority are (including that of the Pope). I welcome that controversy and do not want it short-circuited.

When I was seriously examining the Church, I was concerned about the abundance of commonly accepted Catholic assertions that represented a sort of magical, rather than authentically supernatural, thinking. Fortunately, as I read intensely during my catechumenate, I discovered that these things that troubled me were Catholic “urban myths” that did not reflect authentic Catholic teaching at all. For the purposes of this piece, there are three such “urban myths” to deal with from the start:

  • The Holy Spirit chooses the Pope. The Cardinal Electors choose the Pope. The Holy Spirit makes Himself available to those electors in a particular and intense way during a conclave, but God still does not interfere with those electors’ free will. Even so, whether those electors choose for good or for ill, God still ultimately gets what He intends. If the electors choose well, that is what God intends. If they choose poorly, God draws good from their error, though often in unexpected and counter-intuitive ways.
  • The Pope is infallible. All Popes share in our fallen nature and, so, bear the consequences of original sin along with the rest of us. The most casual survey of the history of the Church demonstrates that clearly. Rather, in certain narrowly prescribed circumstances, the Pope may speak infallibly on a subject of faith and morals. Individually, he is given the gift of infallibility when speaking ex cathedra, intentionally binding the whole Church on a matter of faith and morals. No Pope has exercised this gift since Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary on Nov. 1, 1950. Ordinarily, the Pope plays a key role in the development of irreformable (that is infallible) doctrine in a corporate manner. The Pope may make a formal dogmatic assertion. If the Bishops of the world assent to this, it can become defined (again, infallible) doctrine. There is no need for a vote unless even a small number of Bishops object or submit questions for clarification. If the Pope then satisfies all objections with his response to those questions, the doctrine can become infallibly defined. If he does not, it may be true or it may be false, but it is not infallible. It can be ultimately decided by a formal council or an ex cathedra pronouncement. This gift only extends to matters of faith and morals. No Pope or Bishop has any binding authority because of his office on temporal matters, including politics, science and economics, except to the extent that a part of a temporal proposal is illicit in itself.
  • A single serious error by a Pope or Bishop voids his authority entirely. A Pope or Bishop can be personally a complete reprobate; a thief, murderer, hedonist and still, so long as he holds office, his legitimate authority is valid. When he gives a lawful order within the scope of his authority, the faithful are obliged to obey. That should give people some consolation as, for instance, the confection of the Eucharist is not at all dependent on the worthiness of the Priest confecting it. It is a function of his office, which is gifted by God. That he is gifted with Priestly authority does NOT exempt him from God’s judgment for the ill that he does, nor does his misbehavior exempt the faithful from his lawful authority. It is why taking on orders is such a perilous thing: if he who takes holy orders abuses them for his own temporal advantage, his condemnation will be especially harsh.

The Church, along with the world, has entered into a period of great turmoil. Like barnacles, controversies and scandals attach themselves to the great ship of faith, obscuring her great and majestic beauty.

The betrayal of the faithful Catholics of China, courageous men and women who have suffered persecution, torture and even death for the faith, offends me to my very core. After World War II, the Church, in its very fallible diplomatic capacity, engaged in a form of realpolitik with some of the totalitarian countries. It was lame and muffled the prophetic voice of the Church – accommodating itself to evil instead of boldly challenging it. However misguided, it was a sincere effort to protect the faithful who had the misfortune to live in those lands. In exchange for the Church muffling her prophetic voice, the dictators promised to muffle their overt persecution of the faithful, a promise they kept only sporadically and raggedly. It was St. John Paul who put this misguided policy to an end, giving full-throated public witness to Christ in all lands. And so, much of that generation’s atheist communists collapsed. The Church was true to her mission again. Both the world and its people were better for it.

The current situation with China is not analogous to the former policy of realpolitik. This time the Vatican, itself, tossed the faithful to the wolves – directing faithful Bishops in China to step down so the Communists there could name their own predatory Bishops. Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, even rubbed salt into the Chinese faithful’s wounds by proclaiming that in modern times, China best implements the social doctrine of the Church. He said this, in part, so he could compare it favorably to that miserable Donald Trump. Wow! If forced abortion, forced vivisection of political enemies, and destruction of all freedoms – including freedom of religion is the authentic expression of the Church’s social doctrine, I am in the wrong room. But it is not. Rather, much of the upper levels of the hierarchy have become dangerously and maliciously corrupt.

The last few years have seen the exposure of a cabal of predators in the upper levels of the hierarchy. Astonishingly, the predators are largely protected and promoted by the Vatican while orthodox prelates are suppressed and, often persecuted. It has almost become axiomatic that the only time high Vatican officials accuse someone of being a predator, the case turns out to be a flimsy one wielded against an orthodox prelate. If you are the real thing, you are usually protected as part of the inner circle.

Doctrinally, this Papacy has been, at best, a muddle. If the Pope, himself, has not taken the lead on redefining marriage, family and Christian sexual ethics, he has promoted and supported those rebellious clerics who do. His ambiguity on doctrinal matters gives them the cover they need to try to overthrow the Magisterium in his name.

The rebels (and the Pope) do not seem to have thought this through. They seek to overturn infallible doctrine to replace it with their own enthusiasms. This, they suppose, would make it mandatory for all Catholics to obey their sovereign will. It seems not to have occurred to them that if they succeeded in overthrowing defined doctrine, their “mandatory” rules are equally subject to overthrow. If they were successful in their aims, what they would accomplish is to destroy the very foundation of authority, thus, destroying the Church, itself. Ah, but revolutionaries throughout history have often made the error of first destroying what they want to possess – and then wondering what happened. Rebels, for all their pretensions to a gnostic enlightenment, are rarely very bright.

Sadly, many pious Christians betray their lack of faith by worrying that the Church can – and might – be destroyed. The Lord promises otherwise. I believe Him. The fears are largely based on the first two of the Catholic urban myths I noted above. If you believe the first, then you have to believe that the Holy Spirit has sent one to overturn settled doctrine. If that were true, our faith would be nonsense. If you believe the second, then you believe the infallible instrument of God can contradict God. If that were true, our faith would be nonsense. It is a failure of faith to believe that our faith could be nonsense. The current crisis demonstrates why urban myths, regardless of how pious, ultimately undermine faith. It baffles me that so many people who have put their faith in things the Church does not teach see their faith in the Church rocked rather than their faith in what they think they know when myths are proved false.

I knew from my catechumenate that Bishops and Popes can be – and often have been – utterly unworthy of the noble office they hold, even to the extent of waging war on the faith and the faithful they are called to uphold.

Pope Francis has chosen to refuse to respond to any questions, comments or criticisms from Bishops who are not already his public allies. That decision prevents any of his questionable assertions from becoming dogmatic for the reasons I explained in item two above. Unless he conforms to the method prescribed by the Magisterium for authentic doctrinal development, his pronouncements are as transient as if written in sand before an incoming tide, no matter how loudly those pronouncements are made.

If the Pope has been personally ambiguous on doctrine and personally encouraging to those who would topple settled doctrine, he has been imperious on purely political matters over which he has no formal authority. Many are agitated that he is adding questionable new “doctrines” to the Catechism. He unilaterally decided the Church has always been wrong in its very limited consent to capital punishment, speaks of wanting to declare possession of nuclear weapons a sin, and to declare any dissent from his personal policy on how to protect the environment as a sin. On the first issue, he has authority – but not authority to contradict settled doctrine. On the second, he has authority on the morality of the use of such weapons, but not on effective policies on how to prevent use by a rogue power. On the third, he has authority to demand stewardship of the natural resources God has given us, but no authority to insist that one approach supercedes all others at risk of sin.

Two things are important to remember here. First, the Catechism (as our reader Phillip Frank recently noted) is a compendium of documents of differing authority. Some are Magisterial, some are defined, some simply represent current Catholic thinking. The Catechism is a reliable guide to current authentic teaching, but is not all infallible. As is noted in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, “any teaching conveyed by a lesser level of authority that appears to contradict one of greater authority is to be ignored.” The teaching of the Universal Magisterium is, along with Scripture, supreme – and supercedes even the transient pronouncement of a Pope or Bishop. That said, any sitting Pope has the transient power to direct that anything he chooses be placed in the Catechism. If he wants, he can declare it a sin to root for any college football team other than the University of Notre Dame. It won’t long stand. If it is egregious enough, it can trigger large scale resistance. More often, other authorities will just wait him out and quietly remove offending passages when he is gone. If the entire Catechism was infallible teaching, adding a contradiction to defined doctrine would be a crisis. But it is not.

The Church often gets into the most trouble when it pretends to authority it does not have in temporal matters. One of the greatest black eyes it ever suffered was when the Church condemned Galileo of heresy in 1633 for accurately describing a heliocentric solar system. Fortunately, matters of discipline are never infallible, so St. John Paul was able to lift the condemnation of Galileo posthumously in 1992 without damage to the Church’s authority on matters of faith and morals.

I have mentioned that the defense of the pagan idol, Pachamama, was a sort of Rubicon for me in which I completely lost personal confidence in Pope Francis. I did not – and do not – believe that the Pope, himself, engaged in idol worship. Nor was I upset that he was clumsy in confronting the issue at the opening ceremony where there were people bowing in adoration to the Pachamama idol. Everyone who must frequently engage in or preside over public events sometimes gets sandbagged…and everybody who gets sandbagged sometimes handles it well, sometimes does not in the moment. What got my goat was that, in the aftermath, the Pope defended both the idol and the idolators. His job is to defend the faith and the faithful, not the idolators who invade sacred space. As Fr. Mitch Pacwa said in the aftermath, “We’re not stupid.”

Pope Francis, by his defense of the idol and idolators, though he was not among those who bowed down in worship, demonstrated that he was consenting to the idolatrous spectacle. I take this very seriously:

“For the worship of idols not to be named is the beginning and cause and end of every evil.” – Wisdom 14:27

One could write a lengthy piece on this passage encompassing the abstract idols of money, lust and power – but one thing it surely encompasses is actual idols.

In response to all this turmoil, various factions of the faithful have adopted different approaches, most of which I do not follow in any formulaic way. When great controversies arise, the devil uses even the virtues of his opponents to seduce them to error. The greater the turmoil, the greater the deliberation with which we must proceed. For me, that consists in taking only the next right step and taking full responsibility for it, quick to recede upon finding and acknowledging when I have taken the wrong step, but immovable by public outcries until convinced my step was actually wrong.

Some have gone into despair. This is a failure of faith, a tacit concession that the gates of hell could prevail against the Church. I will never concede that – and so consider the wind and waves to merely be the cue to be more deliberate, to stand strong while watching and waiting for God to show what He calls us to in the situation.

Others choose to attack on all points, all the time. Though I believe widespread corruption has infected upper levels of the hierarchy, I know also that Jesus, Himself, created the hierarchy and gave it His authority on faith and morals over the rest of us. Thus, when I obey a lawful order, whether I agree with it or not, and whether I have personal respect or not for the one issuing it, I obey it because to do so is to obey Christ. To become reflexively combative, rather than confining resistance to actual offenses and unlawful orders, reduces one to mere malice -and the devil wins. Almost as bad, it can prevent me from seeing something Christ intends.

“And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God may be made manifest in him.” – John 9:2,3

No man’s earthly story is complete until he draws his last breath. What if Pope Francis’ challenges to Magisterial teaching are a sort of divine compress to draw out the poison that has infected much of the hierarchy? And what if, when this is done, God intends him to become a passionate and committed defender of the faith? Would this not make the works of God manifest? Woe to me if, through reflexive resistance, I made myself blind to such an event. And woe to me if, through timidity, I do not resist clearly unlawful orders contrary to the faith. The next right step, with candid humility, is the only safe way I know to approach these things, knowing that I will sometimes err.

Often in the great controversies, even great saints become intemperate in their condemnations of each other’s positions, letting their passions lead them to condemn the whole person rather than the error. I know that great controversies draw forth this sort of passion, so I pray that I will be as charitable with others inevitable errors as I am with my own – for I know that both they and I will make plenty before all is said and done.

Many faithful Catholics are moving towards the traditional Latin Mass as a way of withdrawing from the almost daily outrages that assault us. I have many friends and confidants who are Latin Mass Catholics, including one of my brothers. I have great respect for the Latin Mass and am infuriated by those Bishops who try to forbid or undermine it. Yet I am under no illusions about it – and do not believe a wholesale return to it will solve all problems. I know that, when the Latin Mass was the only form, Catholics in the United States were contracepting in large numbers, contrary to Church teaching. I also know that, during those days, the veneration of authority for authority’s sake alone helped cultivate the fertile ground in which widescale clerical abuse took root. The reforms we need run much deeper than the form of liturgy, important as that is. Even so, in a time of great turmoil, people whose confidence are shaken need to find a haven of others who share their values, a sort of shire, as it were. So long as they treat it with the proper reverence without angrily denouncing anyone who, like me, prefers the Novus Ordo, I think it serves a vital purpose beyond being a beautiful form of liturgy. If you degenerate into an angry supremacy about it, though, the devil has seduced you to his purposes.

Some have adopted the theory that the resignation of Benedict XVI was so flawed that Francis is not a legitimate Pope. The controversy over that theory has spilled over into the comments section of this site – and a leading advocate of it is a friend who I deeply admire. There are two primary reasons why I do not subscribe to this theory.

First, almost all public endeavors suffer from some technical deficiencies. I have been through that scenario more than a few times before. In such cases, people who know little about the law become instant experts, passionately declaiming why a technical deficiency voids everything. Few of these newly commissioned experts know anything about the concept of a form of stare decisis in such public events. If the intention was open and clear and those who were called to decide accepted it, it is valid notwithstanding some technical deficiencies. Only in the case of actual fraud could such a decision be overturned. The reason for this is simple. As there are technical deficiencies in most public actions, the admission of such an objection after the decision has been made, with due consideration, would throw almost every public act into question and controversy. That does not mean that technical objections cannot be made; only that they must be timely – made while the question is being decided, not after it is settled.

Some say Pope Emeritus Benedict intentionally made a faulty resignation. That is downright offensive to me. Benedict is one of my heroes. To believe that he resigned with his fingers crossed behind his back would be a dishonorable dodge that I do not think the man capable of. If some of the leading orthodox Cardinals began to take this seriously, I would take another look at it. If Pope Francis chose to contradict Magisterial teaching in an ex cathedra pronouncement, I would become an advocate of it. Otherwise, I cannot support it.

The biggest driver of this movement is a desire to make all this controversy go away. It is, if you will pardon the expression, a deus ex machina that would void everything and leave us relieved of any responsibility for getting to such a pass, kind of like a dream sequence in a TV series to void an unpopular season.

God has given us a great opportunity. Most Catholics do not know the authentic teaching of the Church on these matters. That lack of common knowledge helped lead us to a position of great crisis. This is a time when the apostolate of the laity is being defined through conflict. If we do this right, the fruit of these tumults will be a MUCH better understanding of the nature of our duty of obedience to lawful authority, our responsibility for temporal affairs – and to conduct them licitly but with primacy, and our duty of obedience to enduring Church teaching through Scripture and the universal Magisterium. Some of the Popes of the first millennium had faulty understandings of the nature of Christ and the Trinity. Most, probably all, of these were sincerely held. The great controversies of that millennium led to clear definitions. No Pope in a thousand years has been unclear about it. What glorious fruit arose from such pitched controversies!

The substitution of imperious political enthusiasms for a rigorous proclamation of sound doctrine by the hierarchy has not led to greater influence for the Church in the world. In fact, it has led to the Church becoming more and more irrelevant in global affairs. Few serious people take the Church seriously anymore, either as a dangerous opponent or a reliable ally or guide. Yes, that is partly the fault of the hierarchy, but it is also the fault of the laity who either abdicated their moral agency on matters in which they have primary prudential responsibility to the hierarchy or operated without reference to the authentic moral guides in place.

At its beginning, the Church grew largely through the labors of its great apostolic figures, men who were prepared to die rather than betray their Divine Founder by proclaiming a Gospel other than that which He proclaimed. At one of the times when rot had infested the upper levels of the Church, God was pleased to send St. Francis to renew it through the religious orders.

Grounded in Christ, the Church is one. The laity is its foundation, the religious orders its support beams, and the hierarchy its living quarters. Once again, we are faced with substantial rot at the upper levels of the Church. I am confident that this time the Lord will renew His Church through the authentic apostolate of the laity. Through all this controversy and trouble, we will be purified while each of us is taught how to live our authentic apostolate.

Rather than cower at the fiery ordeal that has come upon us to test us, I choose to answer God’s call – and not squander a minute of the lessons He reveals to us in that process. It is time to live the apostolate of the laity, to demonstrate the Divine nature of Our Lord’s Church by living fidelity to Him and ALL His words even in these dark times. But bring your scraper: we’ve got a lot of barnacles to clear.



187 thoughts on “An Encrustation of Barnacles

  1. Lots to think about in this piece, Charlie. Thank you for taking the time to lay it all out. It deserves rereading with contemplation and, especially, contemplation of what it looks like in each of our particular lives when we are “living fidelity to Him and ALL His words…”

    Liked by 10 people

  2. To me this post ranks among the best; kind allowance of the many needs for a shire; bold self-assessment and description of the scene.
    God seal the results for us of discerned gifts well-used and the strength for Charlie and all of us to persevere. I am heartened and grateful; and will continue to reflect.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Thank-you, Charlie. Clearly laid out. I will have to take your word that the controversy is a good thing. Time will tell. I do believe the God is writing with crooked lines.
    Wishing and praying for all to have a very blessed Christmas.
    God bless us, everyone🙏🏼
    Katey in Oregon 🎄

    Liked by 6 people

  4. “There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry. The only condition for the validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision. Speculations regarding its validity are simply absurd… [My]last and final job [is] to support [Pope Francis’] pontificate with prayer.” —POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI, Vatican City, Feb. 26th, 2014; Zenit

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  5. Asked whether he was the victim of ‘blackmail and conspiracy’ or not, Benedict replied:

    “That’s all complete nonsense. No, it’s actually a straight-forward matter… no one has tried to blackmail me. If that had been attempted I would not have gone since you are not permitted to leave because you’re under pressure. It’s also not the casethat I would have bartered or whatever. On the contrary, the moment had—thanks be to God—a sense of having overcome the difficulties and a mood of peace. A mood in which one really could confidently pass the reins over to the next person.” —BENEDICTXVI, Last Testament in His Own Words, with Peter Seewald; p. 24 (Bloomsbury Publishing)

    “I no longer bear the power of office for the governance of the Church, but in the service of prayer I remain, so to speak, in the enclosure of Saint Peter.” —BENEDICT XVI, last GeneralAudience, Sept. 12, 2013

    He (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) also clarified in a following interview that, like any bishop, the “fatherly” aspect remains, but not the function:

    “…the bishop is bearer of a sacramental mission which remains binding on him inwardly, but on the other hand this does not have to keep him in his function for ever…. If [the Pope] steps down, he remains in an inner sense within the responsibilityhe took on, but not in the function.” (Last Testament, p. 25)

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  6. “Unless he conforms to the method prescribed by the Magisterium for authentic doctrinal development, his pronouncements are as transient as if written in sand before an incoming tide, no matter how loudly those pronouncements are made.”

    I hadn’t thought of this, and it’s comforting. Pope Francis’ very refusal to answer the Dubia preclude the statements questioned becoming doctrine.How can a teaching be magisterial if it isn’t clarified to the Magisterium itself?

    Thanks for another great article, Charlie. I regularly have to remind myself to not worry. It’s something that Christ himself certainly never, ever did.

    Liked by 9 people

  7. Thanks Charlie.
    It is interesting how closely the church’s symptoms/problems are reflected in the political realms. Obvious who the ringleader is (we wrestle not against flesh and blood) and the similar tactics he uses.
    The power of truth is only transformative if filtered through a life of prayer when the Holy Spirit infuses it with knowledge, wisdom and true understanding. Humility is an important part of seeing the truth through this light. Academia has challenged truth through “intelligencia” taking the “created” (seen) things of creation and trying to divine the “unknown” (unseen) with it in an infantile sciencescape of ever changing protocols. But God chose to allow this “foolishness’ to show the humble that He exists by this silly evidence of those that deny Him! Jesus said those that were on the side of truth heard His voice. They also “see” what is against it with clarity if they truly side with it.

    Again Charlie, thank you for siding with truth. Clarifying it helps me understand a little better what I thought all along, not for myself, but for the Truth which dwells in me through the gift of the Holy Spirit Who speaks plain and gives His followers a like-mindedness (unlike the sophistries of the enemy.)
    God bless you.

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  8. Thank you Charlie for voicing very clearly and forcefully what is in the heart of all those who TRUST in God and do not attempt to overthink matters which are beyond us to determine and try to take responsibility for. Your approach and methodology have always been after my own heart. In simplicity and humility let us go forth ever dedicated to acknowledging, God, taking the next right step and striving to be a sign of hope to all around us. Watch and pray, pray and watch. TRUST in the LORD. jas

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    1. Sort of funny…of all the things I worry about (and shouldn’t ) this matter of the church is the one I worry about the least. I simply believe God when He says “the gates of hell will never prevail against my church!” 😄 Now if I could just adopt that sort of trust in God in all areas of life, my life would be so much more peaceful. Please dearest Jesus, help us all down here…all ye Holy Angels and Saints. Jesus I trust in you 🤗😇😘

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      1. Yes.  We have to Linda.  In the famous words of Peter, “Lord, you have the words of eternal life, where else shall we go?”.  We honestly should prepare ourselves to die for our faith.  Die means to not compromise our faith or the truth if threantened.  Dying can also mean living your whole life for the faith (dying to self in essence).As an aside, dying is nothing like what the Muslims do.  To them, dying for their beliefs means being killed or committing suicide while killing others that do not accept their beliefs.  These folks are not martyrs.  It does not fit the definition and is a misuse of the word martyr.  Plainly, they are not martyrs.  The people they kill are the real martyrs.Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

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  9. God will send the right saint at the right time. Our trust muscles are being strengthened in the mean time.

    I will stay in the barque of Peter and my dog will stay in the bark of Peter. Well, I don’t have a dog, but if I did, he would definitely stay in the bark of Peter. 😎

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    1. True, Doug, that saintly leadership must rise – and actually is rising – yet, I read Charlie as saying the right saint at the right time is you and me and all ASHOers and all ordinary people all over the world, for *now* is the time as we live the Ballad of the Ordinary Man.

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    2. Doug, I really appreciate your humor. We have so much weighing us down during this Advent season.
      As far as Pope Francis, if he goes against something that was taught Ex-Cathedra such as ordaining women priest. This is one of the teachings that cannot change. If this takes place, I think this Pope must be removed. Now I do believe the Holy Spirit will not allow this to take place. As someone else has stated, WATCH AND PRAY.


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      1. Here is a little more holiday cheer from our storm dinner notice.Lambzoe and I just spent a two wonderful weeks in California visiting Jenn and Dan (our daughter and son in law) and their three children Lizzy (8), Claire (4), and baby Dominic, (3 months).  Our initial plans were to spend just Thanksgiving week at their house and then head home on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  We booked our flights accordingly. As it turned out, my company asked me to visit some customers during the week after Thanksgiving.  The customers are both in California about 2 hours drive from my daughter’s house.  This unexpected request turned out to be a blessing in disguise. First, we had to rearrange my flight to stay the week instead of coming home.  This allowed Jacki to also stay extra time to visit the grand children during the week.  So we re booked our flight to travel back home the following Monday and we essentially stayed another week.  Since I had to work the week, we figured, why not stay through the weekend as well? Secondly, since I had to work, this means that I am able to expense my flight (not Lambzie’s though) and the cost associated with changing it.  So now my company is picking up the tab for my air fair.  We just happened to book first class.  So this was a pleasant surprise. Lastly, because we were now able to stay another weekend, we would be there for the annual “Las Posadas” tradition in a neighboring town of Sutter Creek.  Las Posadas is a beautiful Mexican tradition celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas.  It is a live recreation of the journey to Bethlehem and the arrival of Jesus as he was placed in the manger.  There are a lot of details to the traditional Las Posadas and what is celebrated in California is an abbreviated version.  The Las Posadas is sponsored by three local churches where one of them is my daughter’s church. The Las Posadas consisted of people dressed in costume recreating the Bethlehem scene.  There was Mary and Joseph and Mary traveled through town on a real donkey and Joseph and Mary stopped at designated inns along a route through the town.  I bet you can guess that they were turned away at all the inns they stopped at.Mary and Joseph were accompanied by others dressed as shepherds and angels.  Along the way, a crowd followed and sang Christmas Carroll’s along candle lighted streets.  Barristers also read scripture at various points.  Eventually, Mary and Joseph reached the center of town where they placed a real baby in a manger.  Of course, they needed a real baby to play the part and there was a local willing mother with a new born who was asked to participate and she willingly obliged.  That mother was our daughter and the baby was little Dominic, our grand son.  Lambzie and I had a few joyful tears and sniffles as we participated and watched.  It was such a joyful experience on many fronts for us as we watched in wonder at the recreation of the birth of our savior and reveled in knowing that Baby Jesus was our grandson.  It is a moment in time that we will always treasure and cherish with warm loving feelings.  Merry Christmas!   ……Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

        Liked by 13 people

        1. Wow, Doug, That really is a special memory! Thank you for sharing and giving us a Hope-filled example that the Spirit is truly moving in our younger generation.

          Liked by 2 people

  10. “Rather than cower at the fiery ordeal that has come upon us to test us, I choose to answer God’s call – and not squander a minute of the lessons He reveals to us in that process. It is time to live the apostolate of the laity, to demonstrate the Divine nature of Our Lord’s Church by living fidelity to Him and ALL His words even in these dark times. But bring your scraper: we’ve got a lot of barnacles to clear.”CJ

    Great piece, Charlie….hahahaha…the world crumbles around us….so many crisisis every day…Poor Mike was on the phone with 3 different people in crisis mode all last night (actually 2- 1 was simply declining Christmas dinner)

    But really cool thing is happening to us both and it’s sort of like living on the edge of this invisible help from above….

    this really great guy we know,who happens to have a very strange job taught us 3 simple things that we have thus implemented to save ours and other’s sanity.

    Namely this; Acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those whom God puts in our path. 😀😁😂😃😄😅😆😉🤗😇😘 what a wonderful life it is🤗👆💞📿🍨

    Thanks, Charlie!!! You da man🤗😇😘

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Thank you Charlie. I will read this a couple more times to make sure my thinking, actions and words are in line with the principles you described. I am all in for Christ…Christus Vincit!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Pope Francis didn’t bow down to Pachamama, he did even worse. He gave the idol his blessing. Watch the video again.

    We live in evil times. Regardless of the validity of his office, Francis is working hard through deception and outright heresy to lead the faithful astray, and he must be opposed. The Church will not fail, and Christ will not leave us bereft, but we should in no way be lukewarm about this man sitting on the barque of Peter. The common man does not understand the ambiguities of papal teaching, development of doctrine, and the interworkings of the magisterium. We must return to simple resolutions of right and wring based on the teachings of Jesus as written in the Bible and passes on through tradition and the perennial teachings of the Church. God will forgive us if we have unkind words about this supposed Pope if we keep the faith. Indeed, let’s follow Jesus’ example and scream “Get behind me Satan” when necessary, even to the Pope.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I did review the video with the blessing given to the Pachamama figure, Brian. Added to the follow up response from Pope Francis – as noted by Charlie – the whole fiasco was a grave offense. Yet, Brian, have you not seriously offended God in some way? I certainly have and went on to repent, confess and repair to the best of my ability. Consider this very plight in the life of so many sinners of yore who then became fantastic saints, giving great glory to God in their lives as well as heartening the faithful via their writings which have been read and studied throughout the ages.

      We all do well to read, ponder and let sink in the finer points and wise counsel given in this piece, for it is a HUGE spiritual danger to make a sweeping generalization that Pope Francis – or anyone – must be opposed because of their errors. By doing so, we can readily sin if we choose “to attack on all points, all the time” (quote from this very article). What must be named and corrected are the serious errors of Pope Francis, the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity. “To become reflexively combative, rather than confining resistance to actual offenses and unlawful orders, reduces one to mere malice -and the devil wins. Almost as bad, it can prevent me from seeing something Christ intends.” Woe to us should we work against God’s ways – so far above our own – as He writes straight with our crooked lines in order to bring about conversion, salvation and the fulfillment of the destiny He has planned for each of us.

      I heartily disagree that “The common man does not understand the ambiguities of papal teaching, development of doctrine, and the interworkings of the magisterium.” The ordinary man is very capable of learning and being corrected in misconceptions concerning these things. In fact, becoming a mature Catholic involves shouldering the responsibility to become instructed. This piece and Charlie’s My Hierarchy of First Things are here for the taking. Anyone who has read them cannot say: “I did not know.”

      “But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:48)

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Good wisdom Beckita.  I have little influence with what I can actively do at my level other than to be faithful and pray for the Holy Father’s conversion and be a personal witness to my fellow man of Christs saving grace and mercy.  Ultimately, I (we) may very well be persecuted for others misappropriation of magisterial teachings and scandals, but that is what we sign up for as a Christian.  Christ said that if they hated him, they will hate you.  In other words, we may all have to suffer a bit to expiate many of these issues.  Also, the church is being winnowed and what remains will be strong for what is coming next.  I don’t pray he is removed or smitten in some way.  That is up to God.  I also pray he is guided by the Holy Spirit as he leads the church.  All will be revealed in due time….Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

        Liked by 6 people

      2. Yes Beckita you are correct in that great sinners can become great saints. But it many times takes others around them to correct them. In the case of Pope Francis it is the Magisterium, and he is not listening to the few who in charity are trying to correct him. Until he does it is the role of the laity to step up, as Charlie has called us to action in other posts. I think it is very dangerous at this time to sit back and expect God alone to correct this mess we are in, passively hoping that lemonade can be made from these toxic lemons. Charlie has called for new Joans of Arc— it’s time the laity speaks truth to power and takes up spiritual arms. This is NOT just another chapter in Church history where we have years, perhaps centuries, for dogma to charmingly work its way out in salvation history. As Charlie has famously said previously, it is the final chapter (of this era) and the Storm is upon us. Or have I missed something since following Charlie from the beginning? Charlie (he admits) missed badly prophesying the last election. The stakes are much higher if he was wrong on the last Conclave. Let those with eyes to see and ears to hear use them and discern the signs of the times.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Surely, Brian, it is not a time for anyone to sit back and let another do the work. Each one has a post to man as guided by the Lord when acknowledging Him.

          My points were simply reiterating those quotes which cautioned us against 1. Attacking on all points, all the time and 2. Becoming reflexively combative, rather than confining resistance to actual offenses and unlawful orders, as this reduces one to mere malice -and the devil wins. Both are critical to accomplishing renewal and reform well. Both are critical to safeguarding our own souls as we, too, will be held to account on how we engage in the work.

          Liked by 5 people

          1. Wise words Beckita- ones I will ponder and pray about. I don’t wish to be combative or universally negative about this Pope. He has said some bits of truth (the Devil exists, homosexuals shouldn’t become priests, etc.) but from the other side of his mouth he says things and acts directly contrary to these truths, and promotes and defends some of the most unsavory characters. I stopped keeping track of all the heresies and near-heresies and confusions from not only this Pontiff but from almost every magisterial voice from the Vatican. It may seem “attacking on all points all the time” but when almost every word and action (and lack of action and unspoken/responded words) points in a specific direction, a very, very troubling one, it is difficult to treat the man with other than a broad brush– if only to maintain our own sanity and consistency as lay people.

            All that being said I am hopeful and indeed joyful, because I am still able to discern to Truth and know that the Truth is a person named Jesus, and I hear His voice. The great sadness for me is seeing the many, many friends and family around me following the wide path to perdition which Francis has seemed to adorn with lovely lights, signs, and food carts along the roadside full of ease and delights. The Way to the narrow gate is further obscured, covered in brambles, put there by our shepherds who have become Pachamama’s gardeners of vice and sin. Where are we to go? I know the answer to that rhetorical question. Nowhere but in the bosom of the Bride of Christ. Right now it just feels like spiritual shaken-baby syndrome.

            God bless to all and pray that we all endure this dark night with our faith intact and our loved ones not lost.


            Liked by 9 people

            1. I wrote my comment before I saw this, Brian. I do not rescind what I said, but I am very heartened to see that you do make room for the unexpected. Yours is, I think, more a cri-de-Coeur than an act of certain rebellion. That, I understand very well. If I had a nickel for every time I have gone off on a rant, I would have….a lot of nickels!

              Liked by 7 people

          2. I would add, Beckita, that I never made any prophetic pronouncements on the Conclave. Everything I have to say there is pure analysis and grounded in Church teaching – and the facts and evidence that I glean.

            But I’m glad Brian brought up the last election. Yes, I badly missed the details…in part because what happened has never happened before. Yet one of the two emphases of what I had said was that there would be no peaceful transition. That has been entirely true. In my very limited mind, I am bound to some extent by my experience of what is possible and am caught off guard in trying to visualize what something could mean when it involves something that has never happened before. Yet that illustrates the folly of trying to make discrete decisions based on prophecy anyway. God is doing many new things now. Most authentic prophecy is useful to confirm the hand of God in the aftermath of events, to see Him in the course of events, and to prepare your heart for new things – but not particularly useful in determining how things will look from this side of the veil before they unfold.

            I have to tell you, knowing full well that some of you won’t believe it, but I HATED speaking publicly about prophetic things. What I have is a duty to try to instill in people the habits of mind and heart to deal with whatever happens while accurately assessing the climate. Speaking publicly on prophetic things is usually a distraction to people, leading them to go charging off in unproductive ways – so it somewhat undermined what I was trying to accomplish even as it was necessary for a time. Before I ever spoke on such things, I was a minor public figure – and had developed a ton of strategies to cover for how I knew some things there was little plausible way I should have known. I liked it that way. Do your job and let the work speak for itself – and people have no need to see how the sausage is actually made. I am back in my comfort zone and the only reason people have to listen to me at all is in the merit of what I say. Wisdom is its own justification. If what I say is good, now, it is justified. If it is not, I am accountable for God for it, just as we all are.

            At the heart of everything I try to get across are several points. Things are not always what they seem. You can’t know the mind of God, even if you are very intimate with Him. You get nothing but the broadest outlines of His secret plan. You are called to use the talents you are given to effectively call people to the Master. You are to wait on Him, to let His promptings (more often found in the little whispers of the day than in mighty thunder) guide you with deliberateness, sticking to the next right step. He will surprise you and work outside of the confines of what you think possible.

            I think, Brian, you have made three major mistakes here. Based on limited information you have come up with a comprehensive plan – your plan, not God’s. You are certain that you know the mind of God and have concluded that Pope Francis is irredeemable. That makes me glad you were not in charge of things back when Saul was stalking Christians. You make no room for the unexpected, whatsoever. You DO seem to think that since the Pope has done some offensive things, you are under no obligation to obey him at all in anything – and your mission is to oppose him in all things. That is directly contrary to the instructions of Christ. Perhaps I have overstated the case, but I think I am pretty close to the mark.

            We walk a knife’s edge. We are called to temper our justice with mercy – and to temper our mercy with justice. All I can see before me is the next right step under God. More than that is deadly perilous in these times, I think. So you will have to forgive me when I decline to adopt your comprehensive program that you have stated with such confident certainty here. Ignore what is bad, keep what is good. That is our ordinary way.

            Liked by 6 people

            1. Wow Charlie. I never said the Pope was irredeemable. I pray for the Pope (and leave it up to God whether that is Benedict, Francis, or a new one at the next valid conclave). I said he has to be opposed in his error, until such time that he publicly corrects them (by answering the Dubia perhaps). Also, I never claimed to know the mind of God or to even have a comprehensive plan, other than acknowledging the Creator in all things, taking the next right step, and being a sign of hope in my limited sphere of influence. I try to live by the credo you taught us and that gives me hope not to be buffeted by the winds and seas of the Storm all around us. I’ve tried to spread that hope to all around me despite their gloom and confusion by focusing on Christ and never giving up on the Barque of Peter (even if some feel an imposter sits there for a time). You also claim that I am acting on limited information (which is an unfair and uncharitable presumption). I can assure you I have invested hundreds of hours reading papal encyclicals, books, news stories, original testimonies, and anything I can get my hands on to read the sign of the times. I have become convinced that the St Gallen Mafia invalidly colluded to elect this Pope, and according to Church law they are de facto excommunicated. What that means for Francis, though I have my opinions, good people can disagree and I leave it up to God to figure out. Folks can read Universi Dominici gregis and decide for themselves if there is merit in what I say:

              Also Charlie, when you tell us, the laity, to step up and become Joans of Arc, besides engaging in prayer and fasting, what exactly do you mean and what role do we play when it seems the Magisterium fiddles as Rome burns? And when people ask “what would Jesus do?”, let’s not forget that flipping tables and chasing people with a whip is within the realm of possibilities. As Pope Francis likes to say, we need to “make a mess!” Indeed. To the ramparts!

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            2. “We walk a knife’s edge. We are called to temper our justice with mercy – and to temper our mercy with justice. All I can see before me is the next right step under God. More than that is deadly perilous in these times, I think.” Really cool quote here, Charlie…2 big jobs today for me…I will be pondering this quote all the day long🤔 

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Charlie said: “At the heart of everything I try to get across are several points. Things are not always what they seem. You can’t know the mind of God, even if you are very intimate with Him. You get nothing but the broadest outlines of His secret plan. You are called to use the talents you are given to effectively call people to the Master. You are to wait on Him, to let His promptings (more often found in the little whispers of the day than in mighty thunder) guide you with deliberateness, sticking to the next right step. He will surprise you and work outside of the confines of what you think possible.”

              This is what gives me hope for my beloveds and the greater world, especially: “Things are not always what they seem” and “He will surprise you and work outside of the confines of what you think possible”

              I repeat this over and over to myself.

              How few believe in this— I, myself, struggling. God Bless us, Everyone.

              Liked by 3 people

    2. Thank you, Brian, Bekita, and Charlie. I admit that I am one of those “common men” of whom you speak, Brian. One who, as Charlie has pointed out in the past, “does not understand the ambiguities of papal teaching, development of doctrine, and the interworkings of the magisterium”. At the same time, as Bekita mentions, I have done and continue to do my utmost to become “a mature Catholic [which] involves shouldering the responsibility to become instructed.” While I continue to move through instruction and no longer (if I ever did) apprehend the authority of the Church through the three “urban myths” outlined by Charlie, the arguments presented do not settle the matter for me since they seem to require from me a need to “judge by appearance rather than by righteous judgment”.

      While Charlie fairly points to specific hierarchical hijinks and shenanigans (both political and potentially doctrinal or disciplinary or whatever), somewhat like St. John the Baptist pointing to Our Lord, I believe that God has allowed the hierarchy’s ever escalating statements and activities primarily to alert everyone to take note that ‘something is rotten in Denmark’. At this time of choosing it seems to me that these ambiguities primarily serve as distractions from the controversial focal point which I enormously appreciate Charlie addressing when he says, “If some of the leading orthodox Cardinals began to take [the controversy surrounding Pope Benedict’s declaration to renounce ministerium rather than munus] seriously, I would take another look at it. If Pope Francis chose to contradict Magisterial teaching in an ex cathedra pronouncement, I would become an advocate of it. Otherwise, I cannot support it.” For this clearly stated possibility, Charlie, I am truly grateful and I thank you.

      I thank you and I feel a burden lifted because in your statement I find a reflection of the same wisdom and fairness in the remarks made by my “straight shooter” pastor when he said, “In all the years of my priesthood (over 40), I have not seen the split in the Church so visible. I choose Francis as my pope, but I cannot fault you for looking into and requesting an examination of Pope Benedict’s declaration from Feb. 2013.”


  13. Thank you Charlie. Much to Contemplate here. Also thank you to all ASHOers who comment–it really pulls out what must be said. I am a “thinker” or a “searcher”, but by the grace of God, I don’t “over think” or worry. I put my trust in God once an issue becomes higher than my pay grade. That’s why I love “acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope to others”. This I can do.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Amen! How many of us will be carrying the burden he does at 83? Seriously, I’ll be 60 next year and looking forward to retirement to do my own things, long-planned. That’s if it happens, of course, it may not. Fiat Voluntas Sua.

      Yes, we all know we’re facing things in regard to the See of Peter that none of us has had to do in our lives before, nor indeed back to our great-grandparents’ time or longer (depending on our age). But this is the testing time. We have to have a regard to history (so few do) and because our little barques (barks, Doug? woof!) seem to be going through rather troubled waters at present it certainly doesn’t mean that The Barque is going to do a Titanic – albeit much heavy water is being shipped. Yes, that happens, and has happened already – so many times. We’re coming out of a very privileged time in Church history, over the last 100 years, which actually was quite unusual, and now our generation(s) have to face the Storm. We were born for this in God’s will, and we’ll be judged on how we face up to it. Remember St. John Bosco’s vision, folks! Do we want to be among those who were on the much-assaulted Barque, or those who were on the ships that held back until they saw how things were going, and then crawled up to safety? Ok, they also were saved but I think I know which one I’d prefer to be on.

      As to those who were doing the assaulting… God have mercy.

      Liked by 4 people

  14. Nice summation, Charlie. And, again I say what I have said before, that bad actors have come and gone during the last 2000 years of our Lord’s Church here on earth, and will continue to so, BUT, Heaven will always makes things right, as Charlie has eloquently pointed out.

    I use to fret about these things, but no more. Why? Simply because I find such great consolation in our Lord’s final blessing as he left our world for His Eternal Throne. His departing words, “Know that I will be with you always until the end of time” are the greatest words that I find comfort in when I hear of this bad actor or the continuous onslaught of ungodliness that seems to pervade certain official Church circles here or there. No, none of this bothers me in the least. Why? Because in every Holy Mass that begin with St. Peter’s first Holy Mass, where he was surrounded by our Blessed Mother Mary, the other 11 Apostles of Christ, and the faithful in attendance at the first momentous occasion, and down thru the ages, where countless Holy Masses have been offered by saintly priest and sinful priest, and to today, it is our Blessed Lord and Saviour, in His Eucharistic Love, who is again and again and again fulfilling that promise to be with us always until the end of time!. yes, it is Jesus Himself, HIs Body, His Blood, His Soul, His Divinity, who comes to each and everyone of us, saints and sinners alike, embracing our sinful humanity to redeem and save, and much to the great chagrin of Satan does our Lord do this. So, my dear brothers and sisters in Jesus, let us do as Charlie often exhorts us to do and that’s to keep it simple, and remain close to our Lord and our Blessed Mother Mary, and the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us in the say of Jesus’ way, the truth and the life. And a Very Merry Christmas Ho! Ho! Ho! to all! : )

    Liked by 10 people

  15. Joy To The World, The Lord Is Come

    This NEVER ENDING SCANDAL needs to END!!
    The Sun, finally, made an appearance this morn and that always cheers me up 😉 …. I don’t know how folks in the Pacific Northwest & North Europe make it thru Winters?
    Speaking of Sunshine! Long past time for a Sunshine in The Church/Purge the Perverts Movement … but How? … US Pew Peons have little or no power over Vatican or Diocese “Affairs” ….. except for the Vote With Your Feet and/or No Shekels in the Collection Basket Movements …. which, interestingly, have occurred during this same Generation Long Pervert Scandal … HullyGee!!! I wonder if there is a connection?

    Now This! Not only is the Vatican sounding like DC Swamp Creatures they are acting like same.
    Ya ever wonder why the Social Security System, US Airports/FAA and Highways never seem to get fixed even though countless $$$$ Billions, from your pockets, are funneled into SS, Aviation & Highway “Trust” Funds every year? These “Trust” Funds have been raided for decades by Swamp Creatures in Voter Buying, Union Payoffs & Pork Barrel “Projects” ;-(
    Likewise countless Church $$$Millions have been raided, from Your Pockets, to Pay Off the Pervert Scandal “Entities” and other nefarious “causes” … NOT Schools, Churches or Missionary Work …. ;-(

    Oh!! Not to Worry 😉 I’ve read that there is some Feral Gubermint West Virginia Facility, named after “Sheets” Byrd, where all the IOUs are kept from “Trust Fund Tranfers”. Perhaps The Vatican has rented some basement space there?
    & then we have Mayor Doomberg wanting to disarm The Producer Class (Liberals seem unwilling/unable to disarm the Criminal Class) & Kill Your Babies! ;-(

    Civil War II


    Liked by 8 people

    1. That DC ruckus is right of Weimar Germany. Imagine being at one of Charlie’s events, and a group from down the hall starts catcalling the audience, harasses the speaker, and this goes on a whole evening. Then imagine some of the hooligans start punching out people in the back rows….

      Even so, let us pray for a “non-shooting” way out of this. It seems, however, that the gnostic revolutionaries on the left are going to make that outcome as difficult as possible.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. I encourage everyone to read the following very powerful letter from President Trump to Nancy Pelosi. This letter is why the Conservative right loves this president, even with his faults. He is a street fighter and doesn’t quit. God Bless President Trump in his efforts to MAGA!

    “You Have Found NOTHING!”: Trump Warns Dems They’re Playing ‘Dangerous Game’

    In a six-page letter to Speaker Pelosi, President Trump rages against The Democrats’ “attempted coup,” blasting that “there was more due process at The Salem Witch Trials.”

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Wow! WHAT a letter. Thanks for posting this link, CrewDog. Looking forward to seeing it on the meeja. Yes, like I believe I’ll also hear the distant ring of sleigh bells and the pitter-patter of reindeer hooves on my roof.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. President Trump speaks plainly ~ no highfalutin language here. He’s writing to be read not only by Nancy Pelosi and the other “elite” but by ordinary Americans.

      I think he makes a good case.

      Liked by 6 people

  17. Charlie, or anyone else have a comment on what’s been happening in Virginia? A prelude to whats been happening in Hong Kong?

    Here’s the summary on what’s been happening in Virginia.

    1. With Michael Bloomberg’s help, the Democrats took over the Virginia state congress.
    2. There’s an anti-paramilitary bill that would disallow armed people to gather or teach others how to use firearms or any technique that could cause injury or death.
    3. There’s a bill that would make semi-automatic weapons illegal.
    4. Nearly the entire state (aside from the highly populated areas that elected these yahoos) has balked and formed Second Amendment sanctuaries.
    5. A legislator threatened the sanctuaries with the National Guard.
    6. The sanctuaries responded by activating an organized militia.

    Virginia Activates Official Militia After Gun Confiscation Threats. Lawmakers Want To Make This A Felony

    Liked by 6 people

    1. As a Virginian I can say that many of us are watching these developments very closely. I understand there is a recall petition under consideration. Here is what it takes:

      Interestingly, state elected officials can also be impeached. Perhaps impeachment would shed more light than a recall election. All those delegates and senators would have to lift their skirts and show everybody where they stand on the 2nd Amendment. 100 Delegates. 40 Senators. Watch ’em squirm. Both Democrats and Republicans.

      Sunshine is the greatest disinfectant.

      My guess is that the Democrats in the legislature (especially the new ones putting them in the majority in both Houses) will put great pressure on our Black Face Governor to rethink it all just the minute they are all sworn in January. Could be recalls and impeachment articles all over the place.

      I’m looking for some harrumphing and throat clearing and a watered down bill to get tough on background checks but not much more. They have touched the third rail. It will burn.

      And of course we now have a differently composed U.S. Supreme Court standing in the wings.

      Ironically, I think the defenders of the 2nd Amendment rights of individual Virginians to bear arms will be defended through the commerce clause just as Roe v. Wade leaned on the commerce clause to “guarantee” access to abortions for those women who couldn’t afford to travel from Texas to New York to obtain one. We’d have to travel to West Virginia but the principle is the same.

      I don’t thinks these people have fully thought through the consequences of their virtue signaling.

      Liked by 6 people

  18. Overall, Charlie, I very much appreciate your thoughts. I do have one quibble. In his introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (I have the original English translation, 1994), Saint John Paul II doesn’t describe it as merely a “reliable guide.” He writes:

    “The Catechism of the Catholic Church . . . is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion.” Later he continues, “Therefore, I ask all the Church’s Pastors and the Christian faithful to receive this catechism in a spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the faith and calling people to the Gospel life. This catechism is given to them that it may be a sure and authentic reference text for teaching catholic doctrine . . . .”

    Previously in these introductory pages, the Pope described the “very extensive collaboration” involved in producing this Catechism, including input from “the Bishops of the whole world . . . .”

    Given this extensive, in-depth, collaborative process required to produce the current universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, can some Pope just blithely change something on his own and have it stick? I rather doubt it.

    Most of the laity who are called to be heroes of the faith in this age need, as Saint John Paul II calls it, “a sure norm.” I think that’s what he intended to give us and described it as such. I think he knew what we were getting into. We can’t just shop around looking for an orthodox priest, nun, bishop, Pope, speaker, author, adult religious education class, etc., without something on which to base our assessment of orthodoxy. If not the Catechism of the Catholic Church given to us by Saint John Paul II (with extensive involvement by then-Cardinal Ratzinger and others), where would we find the teaching of the “universal Magisterium”?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. You are right in your assessment of St. John Paul’s careful way. He did intend it to be a sure norm, and so took great care to make sure it was. Notice that he did not say it is an infallible norm. But his project went for that as closely as possible – and he took great care to have the extensive collaboration of many Bishops in large part so no one could argue it was a product of his imperial will. He wanted it to carry as much credibility, weight and authority as possible – and knew that such things cannot be the product of one man’s will or whimsy.

      You are also right that the Pope cannot just change something and have it stick. That is the sticking point. A Pope does have the transient power to contaminate and corrupt teaching that is not infallible, but it will not stick. A Catechism is not, in itself, infallible, but relies on the care and precision of those who produce it. That produced by St. John Paul is worthy of the name. The additions by Pope Francis, even if they were sound, would lack the heft of that of St. John Paul because of the careless and capricious way he just adds to it without significant consultation and collaboration with his fellow Bishops. Evil days produce disfigured documents – but in the Church, evil days do not last forever.

      Liked by 9 people

      1. If I may add, from what I believe is a mature Christian perspective, if there is ambiguity or aparent error or contradiction, then we should be exercising caution and look beyond to the totality of teaching which mainly consists of the scriptures and other writings.  What would not be charitable would be to use the error or ambiguity to justify a position contrary to authentic teaching.  Put another way, there are those who use the error or ambiguity as a legal loophole to justify their position.  This is about self interest.  What we should be asking ourselves in these cases is “what is God’s position?  What does God want me to do?  How can I live a more Holy life?”.  I am not implying I am mature by any stretch  as I have seen myself fall pray to this form of legalism, but we need to uphold what God’s standard is.  God does not change like the sifting sands……Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

        Liked by 7 people

        1. Excellent stuff, Doug. People often like to shop around to find something from a Priest or authority that will justify what they want to do. God is not mocked. He is not interested in any sophomoric excuses from us on why we did not do what we were supposed to do. Best that you neither sin nor act disobediently, but if you are going to, just do it – do not try to find some loophole that you think will justify it. It does not justify it; it simply compounds your culpability before God.

          Back when my Archbishop was overseeing the investigation of me, a friend had suggested that I had several Bishops I was friendly with and could lobby for an endorsement by another if I received an adverse determination in Denver. I tartly informed him that was incorrect. The Bishop of Denver has authority over me because that is my home Diocese. Other Bishops may be friends, but they do not have that direct authority. Once the investigation was opened, then the Archbishop of Denver became the originating Bishop in the case – and so would maintain jurisdiction even if I moved. For this – and for other reasons – the Bishop of Denver, whoever he may be in the future, will continue to have original jurisdiction over me.

          Liked by 8 people

          1. “the Bishop of Denver, whoever he may be in the future, will continue to have original jurisdiction over me”

            That is a very interesting attribute of Authority (in the sense of Fr. Ripperberger’s ‘Authority is a real thing statement).

            Here you demonstrate that spiritual Authority is associated with place .

            I do not know why, but it seems important. We certainly see one effect of the principle in your obedience to the Bishop of that place. Its as if Authority is there independent of the office holder (which you have written, repeatedly, some of us are bit thick skulled though (: ).

            This speaks, therefore, directly to the doctrine of legitimate Authority. It also suggests something impirtant about the sanctification of a place , as if we are asking God to establish His Authority there.

            Ambling forward with this idea, isn’t this exactly what we are fighting for? This is Christendom (the idea of ‘place’, again), these are His lands and ONLY His authority rules us.

            Got a big smile typing this as God has me thinking on this topic.

            Place and Authority. its like the Parable of the leaven. Thy will be done on Earth <- place, again

            Grace and Peace

            Liked by 5 people

        2. We share a good deal of this thinking, DP.

          To decide to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul; and firmly get our feet on a path to become Holy is most certainly not a futile effort. I think it’s THE effort, in fact… with countless other efforts that seem o.k., but always bely some degree of futility.

          What is God’s position? Oh, we can’t know the mind of God, but He makes it so simple for us because He humbly made Himself our Servant. Easily enough said, but what does that mean? Oh, a jumble of words can follow to describe what that means to each if we’re off the path, maybe even restlessly bouncing around like a pinball in reaction to every worldly stimulus.

          So much easier if we stick to the aforementioned, resolved (or at least wanting) to love and become holy with His help. On the path… silently contemplating His Glory!

          Unless I haven’t been attentive or have been deceived, this is the means by which the longed for reign of the Spirit is finally ushered in. One ordinary backpack at a time.

          Liked by 6 people

          1. Amen. These thoughts bring to mind an optional Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass during Advent:
            It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
            always and everywhere to give you thanks,
            Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
            through Christ our Lord.

            For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him,
            the Virgin Mother longed for him
            with love beyond all telling
            John the Baptist sang of his coming
            and proclaimed his presence when he came.
            It is by his gift that already we rejoice
            at the mystery of his Nativity,
            so that he may find us watchful in prayer
            and exultant in his praise.

            And so, with Angels and Archangels,
            with Thrones and Dominions,
            and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
            we sing the hymn of your glory,
            as without end we acclaim:

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            1. “Many are called but few are chosen”.
              Think about the crowds when Jesus fed the 5000.
              They responded to the call but when “tested” they “went back to their former way of life”. The Spirit of faith did not settle in them and they abandoned the choice to remain with Him.
              As Charlie notes above, if “your” agenda is to seek out your agenda by finding those who agree with you, you are not accepting the call but acting out a part you have written for yourself to “play” at faith.
              To “bloom where you are planted” is more than a call it’s a mandate of obedience- the ultimate mandate. The angels fell by their lack of humility to obey and decided “not to serve”.
              Adam and Eve fell by the same sin, Pride and not listening to the mandate to not “eat” the Apple.
              Sin uncovers our weakness but we can become strong through it’s discovery by God’s grace and become “sufficient” dispite this or we can choose to remain attached to our weakness as some kind of delusional strength that we “own” for ourselves and then become “self-sufficient” with no need of God.

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            2. I do love that Preface, Beckita. Can’t say I’ve heard it before, but it truly is among the treasures of the new Missal. The “old” one, for all its beauty, just uses the Common Preface for Advent. A bit of a loss, I’d think, when we should be focusing on, and being drawn towards, … Advent! The expectation of His coming.

              Liked by 1 person

          2. Yes. I see it as a constant battle with sin and selfishness. Some are even addicted to sin. This is a huge struggle for many and can cause despair or what I think often takes place is a sort of justification of sin because the person cannot control himself due to the addition. I think sexual sins are the strongest here and is why folks look for the loopholes and want laws passed that allow them to sooth their guilt or conscience.

            One can fight or give in. Thanks be to God, he does not leave us as orphins. It could take days or years to overcome, but God sees this and grants mercy for those who don’t give up and keep trying. When the victory comes, it is a relief and it glorious. I speak from being there. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Christ Jesus and his beautiful Holy Spirit who can heal the deepest interior of our souls. My soul is so grateful and thus, I magnify the Lord’s greatness!

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            1. Yes. We should be grateful for all the help with Love the Lord gives us. I’ll tell you that it’s often enough for me to cross paths with another backpack on the trail. And whether we take time to break bread and make camp, or simply give that gentle nod of understanding in passing… it’s enough.

              Speaking of the trail, I was hiking through the local bookstore and getting a bit frustrated at all the rows of mindless material. So, I asked my Guardian Angel to pick me out a winner. I was sitting near the coffee area at the time, and happened to spy “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk” almost as instantly as I asked. I highly recommend it.

              Seems to me Grandma Gatewood and Charlie Johnston have a lot in common.

              Liked by 3 people

              1. Maybe Charlie was adopted and Grandma Gatewood is his biological mother.  You never know as Lambzie was adopted and had some interesting discoveries over the years as she found her biologically family.  Lambzie most recently made contact with a half sister for the first time.  The daughter did the DNA test and kept getting a hit on Lambzie and kept scratching her head because the names in the family tree had no correlation.  The half sister was born due to a fling with Lambzies biological father.  The mother of the half sister got married to someone else and the fling became a family secret.  Unfortunately, the DNA test did not lie.  So finally, the half sister had to queue her daughter in on the secret.  Lambzie’ s biological father just past away the day after Thanksgiving last month.  Funny, Lambzie had this strong compelling urge to visit him like time was short.  She made the visit a few weeks before his death.  Funny thing about angels I guess.  They help you pick the right book and guide you in critical instances of life.  How many times are we being beckoned and how many times do we actually listen?Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

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                  1. Yes Becks.  May we all be quiet and patiently listen for the still small voice of the savior this Christmas.  May we marvel at the humility of God become man which elevates all of our human dignity and worth.  Merry Christmas!….Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

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                    1. Awesome, DP. Family and babies… and how nice that you just got to spend time with a grandbaby. There’s nothing better than babies… and That Baby in the Manger… the best!

                      Rest easy and have a great Christmas. A herd of wild elephants couldn’t drown out the still, small voice of That Babe for me, but I think you ought to know by now that that same herd of elephants couldn’t deter me from speaking out if I discern it’s time to speak out. I can promise to be patient, but won’t promise to be quiet.

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                    2. I always enjoy reading your replies MP. I bet if there was a herd of wild elephants in AZ, you’d be right there trekking with them and getting to know them. They’d probably all have names too and they would be enthralled by your stories of great camels carrying kings from the east. Before long, those elephant would wish they were from the mid east and had the honor of carrying the great kings to the King of Kings. Merry Christmas!

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            2. Dear Doug, I speak from being there too. If the Blessed Mother had not called me to Medjugorje in 2001, 2002 and 2004, I fear where I would be today. I totally changed after those trips and my eyes were opened to the person I had been before. Yes, miracles still happen in our day and age …..I can attest to that with all my heart. Blessings to you and Lambzie, Doug, to Charlie, and to all here for a Blessed Christmas.

              Liked by 3 people

              1. You might say we have personally experienced a certain illumination of conscience.  God’s beautiful mercy is preparing you early.  Still a work in progress.  Merry Christmas Diane!Sent from Doug’s Back Pack


  19. Hi Charlie,
    So what about things like Humanae Vitae? This encyclical was roundly rejected by many Bishops (in fact, I think the Bishops of Canada formally rejected it in a written response to Pope Paul VI – if I’m not mistaken). I have always believed the teachings on contraception, set out in that encyclical, to be infallible. But now, if they are indeed infallible, I’m not sure how they attained that status. As far as I can tell, the Bishops have still not overwhelmingly accepted it thus “ratifying” it (at least that is my impression). I’m not sure where I’m off the rails here. Can you expound on that a bit?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Excellent question, Joe, which demonstrates how complex this issue can be. I have seen some Catholics propose reasons both for its infallibility and against its infallibility that do not hold water, that are mere justifications for what they want it to be. The Wanderer has argued that the Ordinary Teaching of the Pope is infallible. Boy, would we be in a lot of trouble if that were true! Others have argued that since it was originally introduced as part of the Ordinary Magisterium it was not infallible. You have to have clear, consistent and coherent standards – and not just different standards based on what you want to be true in a specific instance.

      I accept it to be infallible because the constant teaching of the Church – the consistent Tradition going back to the beginning – was that artificial means of contraception are illicit. It was not the Pope who was introducing a novelty. Rather, some Bishops were proposing a novelty – that the pill was an exception to the Church’s universal and constant ban on artificial contraception. In this case, the Pope reaffirmed the constant Sacred Tradition that had been challenged. When a dispute arises and the Pope confirms a principle the Church has always believed, that definition becomes infallible.

      Now, obviously, I am not the final word. People more studied than me can make contrary arguments. But, my approach to this subject is both internally coherent and not situational. The standards I use fit with ALL of what the Church does. I have read people make arguments for the infallibility of this on grounds that would make many pernicious doctrines “infallible” – and that is never acceptable to me. A first principle must stand in all situations, or it is decisive in none. On the other hand, I have never read an argument against its infallibility that can be applied universally across the history of how the Church determines such conclusions. Again, a principal must stand in all situations, or it is decisive in none. The principal I expressed has applied in all situations throughout Church history.

      Liked by 7 people

  20. Oh yes!! Genesis 38:9-10, for instance. Onan spilled his seed on the ground and what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord. I guess that’s a teaching that comes straight from the earliest parts of Scripture. The pope was not really breaking new ground when he said that was an intrinsic evil.

    Liked by 5 people

  21. Matt 16:18 “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    If you look up the word “prevail”, it means to triumph, to persist, & to predominate. Little did anyone have a clue that The Church would be taken towards the edge of destruction & corruption, when that quote was written.

    Even if Rome were to be destroyed, The Church is The People, not the little geographical area in Europe. As long as there’s Bishops loyal to Christ, there will always be a Church.

    As for Pope Francis, he was useful exposing all the rot in the Church.

    Liked by 6 people

  22. Clarification for Charlie or Desmond or whoever would have the information: The visible Church has a visible head; this is an indisputable and infallible doctrine based on Scripture and Tradition. Right? Except for interregnum sede vacante due to death or resignation, the visible Church has a visible head. Right? Including the reigns of anit-popes, what is the longest sede vacante on record so far? Eight years, maybe? To be clear, I do not think we are in a period of sede vacante at this time. In other words, I am not a Sedevacantist.

    Unconnected observation from the above quest for clarification:
    The Papal Secret is being reversed, er recalibrated. Yes, now all Bishops are apparently free to ‘fess up to goings on without being bound to the Papal Secret–the omerta– that Abp Vigano disavowed per his testimony from August 2018 and encouraged his brother bishops to disavow as well.

    Could it be that the non-idolatry that merely involved idols but not the worship of them has stirred up serious enough opposition to non-formulaic, non-ex cathedra behaviors and statements that the boat-rocking, more traditional-minded Bishops need to be taught a lesson and are now being thrown under the bus?
    (Sarcasm on) “Why, yes, there is/was a Papal Secret but no, no, no, the brother Bishops misunderstood. Each man according to his moral agency is bound to follow legitimate authority not some mad-made order of omerta issued to keep various abuses under wraps for the sake of reputations and especially for the sake of the reputation of the institutional Church.” (Sarcasm off)

    Or perhaps this rescripting of the Papal Secret in regards to the “level of confidentiality” for sexual abuse of minors and “other subjects determined herein” is a way to avoid the recent RICO suits from the USA that are aimed at the Vatican–the buck stops with the Bishop? Whatever the intention it would appear that there is no longer a Papal Secret-level to be considered when it comes to clerical sexual abuse only and “official secret-level”. That’s good, right?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for pointing this out, SanSan. I look forward to reading Diane Montagna’s translation in LifeSiteNews (which, evidently, she’s working on now, according to the article you noted).

      Liked by 3 people

  23. I realize I am in the minority on this; however I am very heartened to read Christianity Today’s op-ed piece. Yes I am very glad to see PP on the downside. Yes I am very glad to have more conservative judges appointed. Still it does seem – as CT remarks – like a Faustian deal. Do the ends justify the means? I haven’t thought through this enough to make an arguement one way or another – but I have been cringing to see Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop approach to the presidency of our country. I am demoralized at the state of our country; my country that I love and served for many years. It is nigh unto unreconizable at times. God help us!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. 🙂 Calamity Jane cringing about the bull in a china shop, just struck me as funny. Personally, I think that sometimes we need a bull in a china shop, no other regular guy would have been able to remain standing so long, remain so un-fathomable to the left.

      While I do think he is perhaps a brilliant stratagist, he also reminds me of times when I would play Mancala with my Grandma. (that game with stones, and a wooden board with egg shaped cups)
      While I was trying my best to stratagize and plan, she appeared to be not even thinking about it, just grabbing which ever pieces randomly, and yet she would beat me every time, as though some hidden force was 3 steps ahead of me.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. Gosh Calamity…would CT have us join in with those who openly seek to destroy us and Christianity in their crusade against fundamental Christian principles because we find his brash style distasteful? I found their preening self righteous accusations demonic. The rhetoric against “white evangelical Christians” grows more dangerous by the day, and most viciously from left leaning Christians themselves against their brothers…Gerson etc. Their rhetoric mirrors the deceptive manipulation of those who seek to crucify the Church, and I bristle at Christians publicly helping them along and scolding the rest of us for not being enlightened enough to do the same.

      Liked by 4 people

    3. You’re not in the minority, Calamity. It is refreshing to see an administration following through on campaign promises (e.g. – defunding PP, appointment of conservative judges, economic stimulation through deregulation and other policies, etc.), but taken as a whole, it’s perfectly reasonable to weigh the cost.

      I think Trump supporters have a tendency (just like folks on the other side of the aisle) to focus on the positive movements while ignoring the mounds of dirt being swept under the rug.

      I’ll admit that I get a certain satisfaction (probably mostly amusement) out of Trump when he takes pot shots at his adversaries, because there’s few things more satisfying than seeing hypocrites being called out for being hypocrites. Yes, there is a great lack of civility in it, but such are the times. A lack of civility is a legitimate concern, but if folks don’t start recognizing it for what it really is –– a lack of humility –– then we’re simply stuck on the spin cycle, which is really spinning down the bowl drain at this point.

      I’ve watched bits of the Trump rallies. While I can set aside his method and ego, which I think is the size of Manhattan, I can consider what he’s followed through on and weigh not only the results but the trajectory as well. Front and center are the economic accomplishments. If we’re honest, those are almost entirely predicated on more debt creation. Call is quantitative easing, liquidity injections, or whatever the term of the day is, but it’s simply fake money. Fake money that the financial institutions leverage with companies to take on more debt, that in turn leverage with the consumer to take on more debt.

      Slice and dice the numbers any way you want, but the reality is that corporate debt is at staggering levels, and clearly consumer debt the same. As for budget spending, national deficits and debts… well, the sky is apparently the limit. Does anyone think that you can really create sustainable economic growth and prosperity with fake money and more debt? If, when really, the debt bubbles explode, there is going to be a mad scramble for real money. Consider again the debts measured in trillions+, then consider that there is typically no more than $250 billion in greenbacks cycling around the U.S. on any given day.

      The good news is, I think we’re on the right trajectory. Oh, not the trajectory we think we’re on, but it is moving towards humility with pinpoint accuracy.

      Liked by 5 people

    4. I certainly can sympathize with you, Jane. I once was close to being a Never Trumper. His style jarred me. I have come to think he is less a bull in a china shop than he is a bull defending a china shop. Almost all of his provocative stuff for the last few years has been defensive. If you are under constant, shrieking attack as he has been (even worse than they treated Lincoln, amazingly) you’ll get an edge. I have been surprised, when he is not under attack, to see a downright magnanimous streak in him. So, I don’t think it is Faustian at all anymore – even while occasionally cringing at the way he makes a statement.

      Liked by 7 people

    5. Even though his boorish behavior is abrasive to most sensibilities, insufferable are the most egregious faux pas: taking the Lord’s name in vain at a NC rally last summer, and at the latest rally where he appallingly referred to recently deceased Rep. Dingell as residing somewhere else besides heaven. Both were truly offensive. Me thinks First Lady Melanie needs to whisper her mantra, ‘Be Best’ to Donald more often, esp. before rallies, (which tend to bring out the best and worst in him).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Now that, I will second, entirely, Maggie. Although he sometimes reminds me of General LaHire – the profane, military man who was most suspect of St. Joan of Arc originally and quickly became her biggest supporter. He recognized and appreciated reality. Joan became deeply fond of this very rough character. Because of his admiration for her, he became a genuine believer – but after the habits of a lifetime, it was something of a second language to him, as sincere as he was. Joan asked him once to lead the assembly in a prayer, teasing him a bit. Gamely, he haltingly said, “May God treat me as I would treat Him if God were LaHire and LaHire were God.” Joan is reported to have chuckled behind her hand at this naieve, if charmingly heartfelt prayer.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Big difference. LaHire was playing on a much smaller stage at the time. Modern technology has Trump playing on the largest stage imaginable to date.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Yes, MP. The stage extends well beyond your great Nation. Over here, in what remains of once-great Europe, all we get from the Establishment meeja is pretty much what you get from, as CJ says, the Court Eunuchs. We have to rely on the internet (and how long will that last?) for any alternative voice. I’ve long since given up buying the dead-tree press, and rarely, if ever, turn on my TV for news. I would, of course, be mocked for being a… oh, whatever they choose to call it in the correct parlance du jour – which changes with each jour. I honestly don’t care anymore. It’s very liberating, yet a little sad when I see the once-trustworthy sources of my childhood and young adulthood turned into cheerleaders for Babylon.

            Still, we go on, in trust.

            Liked by 4 people

              1. Well, we’re reputed to have such, Charlie, but as you well know, it can only come from a good education, such as I was privileged to have from the Fathers of the Society of Mary, the Marists. Or, of course, from the Spirit😁. Seriously, the “gift of the gab”, which we Irish do have, is different. Chalk and cheese. Too many rely on that, and are hopelessly exposed when it comes to the real slog of speaking from honestly-believed conviction backed up by analysis and experience. As opposed to mouthing sweet nothings, here this second, gone at the next hurrah.

                You have it, CJ. I really appreciate your prose- style. Only hard slog could have gained that. And Beckita – always a joy to read such well composed contributions. So many others here also.

                Anyway, lest (channeling my dear Latin and English teacher Fr. Moore S.M., rest his soul) I be (subjunctive) not here again until Christèmas (middle English)… God rest ye all merry!

                A most blessèd holytide to ye all!


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                1. Ha! Thanks Jaykay. After a presentation a few years ago that went really well, a fellow came up to me and said, in a mock Irish brogue, “I’m thinking ye must have French-kissed the Blarney Stone somewhere along your way.” It tickled me.

                  Liked by 4 people

                    1. One has, so I believe, to hang upside down about 100 feet up out of the battlements of a medieval castle to kiss it. Never felt so inclined, quite honest

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                    2. I imagine you never felt so inclined since you are native Irish and our perception is it runs in the blood.  Now, if us foreigners without the gene come visit, we may do something crazy to kiss the Barney stone as such.  I imagine there are Americans a plenty who are more than willing to scale the 100 feet just to kiss that stone.  However, I do not count myself as one who would do it.  Oh, my Lambzie is of native Ireland ancestry.  That explains much in her conversation or some may say, this is her natural XX instinct.  I do have a good male friend who’s mom is fresh from Ireland and I have to say, if I did not know, I would say he kissed the Barney stone a hundred times over.  Merry Christmas Jaykay and have a few drops in celebration of God become man!….Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

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      2. I emailed him one day, thanked him for what he is doing that’s good, reminded him that he holds the highest office in the land –– that all eyes are upon him –– and told him in no uncertain terms to dial it back and clean it up.

        Doesn’t matter that I don’t flinch in the least at such behavior and language, it matters that the little ones are subjected to it and the bad characters keep calling him out on it.

        Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. … [18] But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. — Matt 15

        I don’t expect the next guy to be perfect, much less the President, but none of us can afford to stay in the current state or backslide anymore –– as individuals, and as a country.

        Liked by 3 people

  24. Good to see you, Calamity Jane. I do disagree with your stance on our President Trump. I think he’s just what is needed at this time and he and his family has been attacked continuously and unfairly during his entire presidency. His way of doing things is rather brash, I admit, but that doesn’t bother me. Yes, our country is in deep turmoil, but it’s not President Trump’s fault. This has been brewing for a very long time. He’s got an unbelievable amount of fixing to do. Here’s what Franklin Graham had to say about that op-ed piece.

    Liked by 8 people

  25. I saw this piece on EWTN this morning, and I immediately (during the opening credits) recognized the most familiar town I know. I want the world to know that the Holy Spirit is working! We only have to follow His inspirations and the result is pure joy. These inspirations are so personal to each individual because God has a mission for each one of us. (and my mission is mine and yours is not mine)
    Nonetheless, this made me smile today and warmed my heart:
    The first segment is about a dinner that messengers were sent to the streets to invite the guests. (15min)
    The second segment is a Christmas dinner to which the guests were those who survived and their families. (7 min)
    The third segment is about the only unidentified, ordinary guests invited to the birth of Jesus (2 min)
    Hope this makes you smile, too. May the Greatest Gift ever given enter your hearts and make them one with His. Have a Blessed Christmas and a Holy New Year.

    Liked by 7 people

      1. You are welcome, Beckita. 🙂 Thank you for all you do for this blog! And please tell Fr. Wang to have a Blessed Christmas and a Holy, happy and fruitful New Year.

        Liked by 3 people

  26. I think how we feel about Trump is largely dictated by the news media.
    I used to be a democrat, until I married my husband who has a masters in economics.
    He (as well as JPII- subsidiarity) speaks of the inefficiencies of big government.
    Most of us can’t see the forest (the tremendous things that Trump has changed) because of the
    trees(his rudeness etc)
    Ask the Little Sisters of the Poor if they would rather have Trump or Biden.
    Ask small businesses if they want more regulations.
    Ask PP if they would prefer Trump or Biden.
    Remember what Cardinal George said about the future of priests.
    Read the facts about man-made climate change. Even if China and India stopped all emissions
    and cattle were eliminated, it would barely be noticed as for as “warming” is concerned.
    I truly believe that the downfall of our society has been given a reprieve with our current president.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I agree.  If I may add, my understanding of Catholic teaching from a “who do I vote for?” perspective is it is acceptable to vote for a flawed candidate if the alternative is much worse.  This still upholds the “end does not justify the means”.  In my view, the alternative directly supports ideals that are contrary to the faith and frankly, in many cases, evil; abortion, homosexual marriage, etc.  That being said, I am not pointing a finger at Trump or saying he is flawed.  I am pointing out Catholic teaching.  Now, my opinion of trump is on the surface, he appears abrasive, but what is underneath is what really counts.  I see him doing all the right things and find his abrasiveness entertaining as he is not afraid of the left.  He hits them head on and calls them out for what they really are.  Jesus did this very publicly with the hypocates in the gospels.  Just say’n…..Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

      Liked by 5 people

      1. There are decent documentaries and tomes written about Trump, some in his own words (or at least his edited words), if one wants to get beyond the surface and media spin to drill deeper in order to form a better opinion.

        I know you’re not comparing Trump to Jesus, necessarily, because you’ve always been very careful not to push a scriptural scenario to suit your position. Obviously it’s always a dangerous business to take something from the Gospel and twist/compromise it to suit a mere discussion or validate our position. My only comment on your reference is to say that I don’t think Jesus intended to teach us how to call out hypocrisy in others. He was God and well within His rights to call out hypocrisy in anyone, maybe especially those who counted themselves among His holy priests, rather I think He came to to teach us how to truly become sons and daughters of God, made in His image and likeness. Certainly that great work encompassed identifying and rooting out our own hypocrisy. To become holy, so we could see clearly what it meant to be perfect like our Father is perfect. Yes, a tall order, but He wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t possible.

        More so than the media affecting our thinking, I think the average American largely (no pun intended) thinks with their stomach… and other worldly appetites. If polls, statistics and studies are to be believed, swaths of America have nearly completely lost Faith in what the media has to say. At present, anger and other touchy/feely emotions seem to rule the day. Where we should be a people using faith and reason, we are not.

        Trump has done some good things, and I defend him often in certain circles, but it’s a real stretch to suggest that he has done “all the right things.” He touts the economic numbers, but I stand by my assessment that it’s just more kicking the can down the road at an accelerated pace. I’ve got an agnostic/lefty brother in law with Bloomberg that appears on CNN often to discuss such matters. We obviously disagree on much, but have some great conversations. I’m pretty decent at making a case for the Faith, but he’s fairly brilliant on Economic matters. I don’t agree with everything he says, but the endless QE strategy, artificially low interests rates, and other market manipulations are bad policy/not the right thing. I only mention it, because “economy” always seem to be at the top, towards the top of America’s focus.

        If the bubble bursts under his watch, it would be telling to see what kind of a conversation all would be having then.

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        1. Dem good points MP.  I need to choose some of my words mpre carefully.  He has done some critical right things.  Mainly it is the pro life stance and picking solid conservative judges that I see as the greatest accomplishment.  So when I say he has done all the right things, i say this loosely.As for calling out hypocracy, I sincerely believe that when one takes a strong public stance for evil ideologies and then claims they are Catholic, this deserves a strong public rebuke.  This is mainly because of those who are being led astray by what is being pushed as a false traching or evil ideology.  People are led into mortal sin by false teaching and what worse when false teaching comes from someone who espouses to be Catholic.  I think of all the politicians claiming to be Catholic and then pushing abortion and homosexual marriage.  To me, these are pretty much top of the list as a scourge on this country.  Jesus used some choice words when he rebuked the Pharasees like white washed tombs and dead man’s bones walking.  I think scripture is replete with leaders publicly rebuking those leading us sheep astray.  I believe our leaders are called to this.  I know Trump has a tainted past.  I have a tainted past.  Politicians like to hyper focus on this to take you down.  The press hyper focuses in his past for this reason.  I know he is not perfect and there are always things he can do better.  Realistically, it should be our bishops coming out with a strong public stance against these politicians.  I do not see our bishops unified on this.  As abrasive as Trump is, I find it a breath of fresh air to see him calling them out for what they really are.  I dont see that i am twisting scripture to make it fit the situation here…..Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

          Liked by 3 people

          1. We’re mostly agreeing, DP. Just want to point out that I did not suggest you were twisting scripture to make it fit… Quite the contrary, as I do choose my words carefully and deliberately.

            I’ve always made the case for holiness, first and foremost (as have you often). To stay on that sure course, growing spiritually by degrees, assures that all else follows. Even a marginally formed soul knows hypocrisy when she sees it. I think there’s just some periodic questions/disputes that surface here as to how we call it out.

            Words are good, but not if they aren’t backed up with holy actions that clearly ‘say’ we live what we say we live. A great challenge for us, all the little ones here, especially because the Church as a whole is under siege… also clearly having failed in some of its parts.

            I really am wondering, genuinely, what the best course of action is. I know they’re not mutually exclusive… but is it more words, or more holiness at this juncture?

            Ole’ MP would dearly like to continue through the fray with a solid Louisville slugger in the right hand. Words. New MP says leave the baggage, proceed naked as a baby, and trust only in Him. The former is easy obviously, but I have no doubt the latter approach would yield the most.


            1. I actually think we are in very close agreement if not full agreement.  Maybe you can say I have a little gloat in me.  Been pushed back in a corner for so long, it’s good to see something being done.  What I think we don’t know is if his heart is actually changing.  Rough exterior, but compassionate on inside.  Don’t know.  I have to work on my gloat some and change it to just being plane grateful.  Merry Christmas!…..Sent from Doug’s Back Pack


    2. I tend to agree. POTUS may not have the most polished gifts from the Holy Spirit, however the fruits are front and center. I read a quick article by a fellow Christian and alternate social media (SM) reporter,, that suggested in essence that the MSM really had to dig to find the few negative comments mentioned. I know the trolls use the most horrid pictures of POTUS to get their digs in on SM

      I shake my head when I witness daily adults who act like grammar school playground bullies. It is a sad state of affairs. I very deeply appreciate what President Trump and the First Family has been doing since the election and inauguration. I would not call myself Pro-Trump/Trump supporter. I am really just one who is delighted to see a non-politician leading the country/world in the manner he has, for the most part. It is refreshing leadership, imho. ❤

      Liked by 4 people

      1. To be clear, Jen, I look for the fruits of the Holy Spirit too, first and foremost. It’s Trump himself who puts his economic accomplishments front and center, and ironically, they are the most likely to fail not just him, but the entire American people as well in the long run. Sure, that course was put in motion by previous administrations. Short term results include a hot stock market, but the long term trajectory has a date with humility. But don’t take my word for it, the top economists and any worth their salt in the field will tell you the same and better.

        I put my hope and faith in God, and I’m consoled by the fact that he uses all people to achieve His purpose and can transform all evil into good. Heck, even the devil in all his great pride is nothing more than an unwitting accomplice to God’s Holy Purpose.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I surely do not know enough about the economy other than to know it is certain to collapse. I am not really looking to Trump for a fix.

          Someone from a past relationship used to say. “Money is no object when you do not have any.” It used to drive me crazy to hear him say that back in the days when I believed I had control. 😉

          Now that I do not have much and can oddly relate to the mantra. Still the silver lining is that it makes detaching that much easier. :-p

          Liked by 2 people

  27. I would like to say thanks for all the responses – especially my fellow Arizonian MP. All of them have given me more to consider. All of them have an element of truth, even if I do not fully agree. Personally (again) I would hope for a more respectful discourse in our land – free of namecalling and labeling. Tolerance of differences – anchored in love and christian faith. Thanks and gratitude to all Squirrels – Christmas blessing to you all. jane

    Liked by 4 people

  28. This young man, Justin, came to our house this morning to fix our chairs (electronic problem) worked for Dewey furniture for 20 yrs…8 yr old son. Told him je didn’t even look 20, which he liked very much. Married. Nice fella. When he left I said, “God bless!” Ya know, it was as if it was shocking to him to hear that? He couldn’t even respond and he looked very confused. Justin is his name. He looked like he needed a sign of hope🤗😇😘

    Liked by 6 people

  29. I’m coming late to the party, I know, but I have to make a correction on something you wrote:

    “One of the greatest black eyes it ever suffered was when the Church condemned Galileo of heresy in 1633 for accurately describing a heliocentric solar system.”

    That’s NOT the actual reason he was convicted of heresy. The real reasons can be summed up thusly:

    REASON 1: Galileo didn’t watch his language. At the time, different languages were used for different things. German, for example, was the language of international trade. Latin was the language of science. Galileo had discussed his ideas with the Pope as well as others in the papal court and had gotten at least provisional approval for them, so he went ahead and wrote his book. Unfortunately, instead of using Latin, he published it in Italian. If he had stuck with Latin, the ideas would have been passed around and tested and that would be that. HOWEVER… by publishing his work in Italian, the common language that the ordinary people could read (but probably wouldn’t understand), an argument was made that this work was an act of sedition against the Pope.

    REASON 2: Today, having a doctorate in something is usually seen as having a “license” to teach in that subject. If I have a doctorate in Medieval History, my ideas have been tested by those in authority and found worthy. In theory, I can go to any college or university and teach classes in Medieval History. This same authority and permission do NOT extend to my teaching American Civil War History. Yes, they’re both history, but very, very different subjects. And it CERTAINLY does not extend to teaching university courses in mathematics.

    Galileo was recognized as an authority in the physical sciences, which is why his theory of heliocentrism could be accepted. HOWEVER … only about a third of the book in question dealt with the questions of heliocentrism. The rest had to do with his theories of theology, which was the domain of the Dominicans. Galileo did not have any training in theology and certainly didn’t have permission to disseminate his theories of theology, especially after the Dominicans examined the book and found a number of errors.

    So here he had published a book in the vernacular not only promoting his astronomic theories but his theological theories; in a way that might (would) lead the faithful astray. At the time they couldn’t say “This part of the book is OK, that part is forbidden”, especially after Galileo refused to take the theology out of the book. So they had no choice but to find him guilty of heresy, with his heliocentrism being collateral damage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With respect, Jim, I do not accept that I erred. You have a nice interpretation. A closer look at the history of the trial shows completely different undercurrents. It was not the Church, but secular authority, that sought to have Galileo condemned – largely because they thought it undermined the divine right of kings. As brilliant as Galileo was in the physical sciences, he was an annoyance because he frequently wrote and published REALLY bad theology. The hierarchy of the time and the state made an unholy alliance – to kill two birds with one stone.

      St. Robert Bellarmine, who played a huge role in prosecuting the case, was the biggest internal dissident from it. Most serious thinkers had long since accepted the heliocentric model – including the top minds in the Church. Bellarmine maintained that Galileo would ultimately be proven correct and that the price the Church would pay for making this unholy political alliance, would be that it would degrade people’s faith in the Church badly. Yet he did his duty as he saw it – but was not shy about complaining of it behind the scenes.

      Your explanation IS one that apologists have used to try to excuse the hierarchy’s error over the centuries. It would not have mattered. The hierarchy had decided to condemn him for purely political reasons, to satisfy their secular partners – and went searching for plausible grounds to do so. This is another reason why I do not like working from technicalities on major issues. The same hierarchy that was determined to find a way to condemn him, after realizing its error, tried to find a technical ground on which to excuse their malice – a technical ground they would have brushed away had it been proposed at the the time.

      Liked by 2 people

  30. Amen! Well said Charlie. Now more than ever, I look to the example of the Saints who likewise swam in muck and debris, barely keeping their collective heads above it all to forge their way. Some paid the ultimate sacrifice. Can I then within my lesser sacrifice (at least to date), complain of the extra effort required of me to live my life in obedience to the authentic magisterium? I think not!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tomorrow will be 35 wonderful years with you my dear Lambzie.  It is a bouquet of flowers to share and grow in love and in faith with you all these years!—- Sent from Doug’s Back Pack

      Liked by 2 people

  31. “What if Pope Francis’ challenges to Magisterial teaching are a sort of divine compress to draw out the poison that has infected much of the hierarchy? And what if, when this is done, God intends him to become a passionate and committed defender of the faith? Would this not make the works of God manifest?”

    I am hanging on to this! I’ll keep trying, as TRYING as it is. Thank you, Charlie for the wee bit of hope.

    Liked by 1 person

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