Thursday, March 31, 2005


Krytocracy and the Death of Terri Schiavo

As I was formulating my ideas for my post this morning, the news of Terri Schiavo's death was announced. Please pray for the repose of her soul and for her family members.

However, the tragic end to her life story cannot overshadow the push for krytocracy by Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr. of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals who wrote yesterday in a ruling on the last appeal for Mrs. Schiavo, "Any further action by our court or the district court would be improper. While the members of Congress have acted in a way that is both fervent and sincere, the time has come for dispassionate discharge of duty... (The White House and Congress) have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people - our Constitution." The last sentence indicates that Judge Birch has absolutely no grasp on what the Constitution currently states, nor does he have the slightest clue as to what the Founding Fathers intent was as it relates to the promotion of liberty and the prevention of tyranny.

As I posted earlier, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution gives Congress the right to act as it did. To chastise Congress for acting in a way protected by the Constitution is either the height of ignorance or arrogance on the part of Judge Birch. Given his professional stature, my guess is that he simply arrogant.

As for the Founding Fathers vision, the Federalist Papers eloquently argue the need to protect personal liberty and prevent control by faction. The ultimate personal liberty is life. The ultimate faction now appears to be an out of control judicial system epitomized by Judge Birch in this particular case. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Paper Number 78, argues for the need of an independent judiciary. I assume it is an argument that Judge Birch warmly embraces.

However, Judge Birch and his ilk should not overlook the following portion of that same tract: "It can be of no weight to say that the courts, on the pretense of repugnancy, may substitute their own pleasure to the constitutional intentions of the legislature... The courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they should be disposed to exercise WILL instead of JUDGEMENT, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body." Hamilton goes on to argue that an independent judiciary would prevent this from happening. Many Anti-federalists accepted his argument. Unfortunately, this case is an example where the Hamiltonian judiciary system has failed. In the Schiavo case, the new faction of the judiciary, acting in a manner more suited to a krytocracy than to a democratic republic, beat the ultimate concept of liberty - life. The result is Terri's dead.

May her soul and all the souls of the faithfully departed Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005



One topic that most people do not want to deal with is funerals. Unfortunately, the unwillingness among many (if not most) people to deal with this topic makes it a very controversial because people are eventually forced to deal with the topic when they are overly emotional. The rational part of the brain is often tossed to the wind during this time period (and after when reflecting on the moment). Additionally, some people who should be considered very trustworthy during this time (like church leaders and members of the funeral industry) actually take advantage of the situation. Additionally, some crackpots blow these unfortunate incidents out of proportion for their own gains (personal and/or financial).

One retired priest has made himself the defender of the public with his anti-funeral industry crusade. Although he cites a few examples of real problems (ones that need to be addressed), it is difficult to take him too seriously when his premise is "All in the funeral industry work together nationally and in every community to enable their "fleecing of America" to continue and expand." He argues that every one involved in the funeral industry is out to gouge the public. One of his arguments is that different funeral homes charge different prices for the same caskets, and that all the prices are above wholesale. The same can be said for supermarkets and for the products they sell. This retired priest needs to take lessons in economics and basic business practices. The concept of overhead never seems to enter his rage-filled mind. Additionally, some of the more gruesome details of events listed on his site are ones that I have never heard of in my life (since I grew up in a funeral-business family and briefly worked in one on a part-time basis while in college about 20 years ago). He argues that the problems are common and persistent, but that is doubtful; so, I question just how bad "the problem" really is.

Nevertheless, he is correct in that some entities charge excessive prices, and he argues that people should compare prices. He is correct. But this assumes that the prices do differ for the entire funeral process, and that the prices may differ so dramatically that shopping around would be worthwhile. This, of course, directly contradicts his thesis that "all in the funeral industry work together" to gouge the public. Rather, at best, he can argue that some in the funeral industry work together to raise prices although this conclusion is not proven either. His research is not substantive enough to support his thesis.

However, there is some truth to what he claims. A few years ago, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, led by Roger Cardinal Mahony, entered into a contract with Stewart Enterprises (the third largest operator of funeral homes and cemeteries in the United States) to build and operate "Catholic" funeral homes on the cemetery properties owned by the Archdiocese (without consulting or soliciting offers from locally owned funeral homes including ones owned and operated by Catholics). The article linked early in this paragraph shows that Stewart Enterprises generally charges much more than local mortuaries for its services. (This is based upon research done by the aforementioned priest, so kuddos to him for pointing it out while at the same time no-kuddos for destroying his own thesis.) A clear example is provided on the website of Utter-McKinley San Fernando Mission Mortuary (not affiliated with the Archdiocese; my uncle does own it, but I have no financial ties to this mortuary, and he is not Catholic whereas I am) where the price of a funeral service (not including a casket) is about $1,000 less than at the Stewart run mortuary across the street located in the Archdiocese's cemetery. It appears that the Archdiocese and the cardinal are more interested in the bottom line than in operating a cemetery that is affordable, hence accessible, to the vast majority of the Catholics in the Archdiocese regardless of their financial state.

The best thing that you can do for you and your loved ones is to compare prices now (and perhaps even "pre-need" your funeral today). Do it when you are not emotional. Make decisions that are rational. If you don't do this, and your family is gouged later, shame on that funeral home; but, more importantly, shame on you for allowing it to happen.

Friday, March 25, 2005


Good Friday

I watched the Passion last night (two and a half times) for the first time. Frankly, the Gospel of St. John (I think) relates the story of doubting Thomas. I still hope that I fall in the category of believing in both the crucifixion and the Resurrection without having "seen" evidence.

I know that I am responsible for the crucifixion. I imagine that all believers think that. If the movie helps you come to grips with that - great. As for me (and some people I talked to this morning) you cannot beat the original. I read the Douay-Rheims (sp.?) gospel of St. Matthew last night, and the Gospels of St.'s John and Luke this morning. They still do much more for me than I think any movie ever could. I suppose I prefer my mind's eye and the visuals it has and continues to create than the two-dimensional vision of Mel Gibson.

If you haven't done so already, pick up the New Testament and read one of the Passion Gospels.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Terri and Barry and Ronnie and...

An individual has posted a response to my last post (found below) that appears to support the idea that those who support states' rights should support the decisions in Florida that are leading to the death of Terri Schiavo. Senator Warner's objections are cited.

Somehow, one of the champions of states' rights in principle, Ronald Reagan, also was an eloquent defender of the right to life as President.

Barry Goldwater was an outspoken proponent of states' rights. However, he also is famous for borrowing from Cicero and stating that, "extremism in defense of libery is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

Additionally, it is highly unlikely that the Anti-Federalists who were afraid of the national government trampling the rights of the states' would have ever argued that a state has the right to sanction the murder of one of its own people. In essence, the judicial branch of the state of Florida is perpetrating an act that deprives Mrs. Schaivo of both her life and her liberty, and that is thoroughly un-American.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Schaivo and the Constitution

Dear XXXX:

As I was about to depart from your room yesterday, you made a reference to "this weekends events" where, to paraphrase, the Fourth and Tenth Amendments had their meanings changed or were under attack. I can only assume you were referring to the Terry Schaivo case in Florida.

As for the Fouth Amendment, it reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I am not sure how this applies at all. Since the husband has now secured, for all practical purposes, a common-law wife and his two children by her, the unreasonable intrusion of government in to his family life no longer exists since Utah had to renounce polygamy as an entrance requirement to the Union as a state in 1896. Maybe I misheard you on this point.

As for the Tenth Amendment it simply does not apply because of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Ironically, I would argue that the two post civil war related amendments were not constiutionally ratified. However, we are stuck with them, and liberals have been using them for the last 50 years to ignore the will of the people led by their (also ironically) champion Earl Warren.

Below is the text of the Fourteenth Amendment, Sections 1 and 5 (the rest are irrelevant):

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

It is clear that Section 5 gives Congress the right to enact the law they did this weekend. The Federal judge in Florida should be impeached as his ruling is a clear and direct violation of the will of the law of Congress as passed this weekend. Checks and balances works towards the judges too.

She should live.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Speaking in Tongues?

As a teacher, my colleagues and I often marvel at the ever changing slang and code in which students speak. Where do they learn such ways? I suggest that they learn it from their parents. Below, I have created a "normal" conversation between a husband and wife in front of their toddlers. The words are changed so as not to over stimulate the children in case the parents decide on something else.

H: Where do you want to go today?

W: I think we should go to B.P. (Buena Park, home of Knott's Berry Farm).

H: Ah! You want to go to the dog park (Camp Snoopy) then?

W: Yes. We need to make sure that we have enough cow juice (milk).

H: Do you think we should take the new choo-choo visual (Thomas the Tank Engine video)?

W: Sure. Let's bring the new Four Australian guys (The Wiggles) as well.

H: Should we defrost the cluck-cluck (chicken), or should we order Italian pie (pizza)?

W: Or we could have P-A-S-T-A (spelled out).

H: Sounds good to me! You know, we could also go to the "C" jump (Creative Leap - an indoor playground). Or even the mouse place (Disneyland), or the place of blocks (Legoland).

W: Okay, well, I will pick dinner, you pick the place we go to today.

Sound familiar?

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Mass Abuse? Response and Rebuttal

I recently wrote about a situation at a local church that appeared to be a clear case of Mass abuse.

Here is the response of the pastor with names deleted to ensure privacy.

March 14, 2005

Dear Matthew:

Thank you for your letter inquiring about the proclamation of the Gospel by lay persons.

It has been a common practice for many years in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to proclaim the Passion Gospels on Palm Sunday and Good Friday as well as the Scrutiny Gospels on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent in parts. Because this year's Lectionary readings are from Cycle A, we have chosen to proclaim the Gospels in parts on those designated Sundays in Lent at all liturgies. In other years (those with Cycle B or Cycle C Lectionary Readings) these special Gospel readings from Cycle A, have been proclaimed in this manner only at the liturgy where the Elect (those to be baptized at the Easter Vigil) are present.

While the text you quoted from Redemptionis Sacramentum sates that "the reading of the Gospel... is reserved by the Church's tradition to an ordained minister", (sic) Cardinal Mahony in his Statement on the Implementation of Redemptionis Sacramentum, states that, "I have determined that there is no need to make any significant changes in our liturgical practices at this time."

If you would like to read more of his statement, you can go to the website referenced below, click on "ministries", (sic) and then click on "worship": (sic)

We (sic) hope that you will continue to choose to worship with the Parish Community of XXXXX. Thank you.


Reverend XXXXX

March 17, 2005

Dear Reverend XXXXX,

Thank you for you letter dated March 14, 2005. I appreciate your timely response. However, your response lacks any credible support for allowing lay persons to participate in the Gospel readings of the "Scrutiny Gospels on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent in parts." You rely on a two pronged "authorization:" 1) common practice, and 2) a vague quote from Cardinal Mahony that "I have determined that there is no need to make any significant changes in our liturgical practices at this time."

1) "Common practice" as a defense is not sufficient; if common practice were sufficient, the Council of Trent (among others) would not have been necessary. Due to my father's chosen professon, I have had the opportunity to attend Masses and deal with priests all over the archdiocese for many years during Lent. Due to my own jobs, I have had the opportunity to attend Mass in many areas of the United States during Lent. Frankly, your "common practice" argument does not coincide with my own sizeable experience. (However, to rely solely on my experience, as vast as it may be, would be to rely on proof by selected instances, so I eagerly await your reply) Also, I seriously doubt that you would let me off in the confessional both if I said,"Well, I know that the act in question has been deemed wrong by the Church, but it is common practice in Los Angeles to do it."

2) My initial letter contained the request that you provide specific Church documents that allowed you to implement your changes to the Gospel readings. The website that you provided (and the links as well) direct one to a site that does not address the topic. Both my wife and I have reviewed it. I hereby ask you again to be very specific: please provide the specific document that allows for this change since Cardinal Mahony's statments are not specific on this issue. For example, if this practice has occurred since 1990, then I would request that the authorization documentation of 1990 be presented.

Unfortunately, your response glosses over key sections of Redemptionis Sacramentum including the Preamble which states:

"[7.] Not infrequently, abuses are rooted in a false understanding of liberty. Yet God has not granted us in Christ an illusory liberty by which we may do what we wish, but a liberty by which we may do that which is fitting and right. [18] This is true not only of precepts coming directly from God, but also of laws promulgated by the Church, with appropriate regard for the nature of each norm. For this reason, all should conform to the ordinances set forth by legitimate ecclesiastical authority."


"[12.] On the contrary, it is the right of all of Christ's faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms. Likewise, the Catholic people have the right that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass should be celebrated for them in an integral manner, according to the entire doctrine of the Church's Magisterium. Finally, it is the Catholic community's right that the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist should be carried out for it in such a manner that it truly stands out as a sacrament of unity, to the exclusion of all blemishes and actions that might engender divisions and factions in the Church.[32]

I should also like to point out an additional part that appears after the Preamble:

"[28.] All liturgical norms that a Conference of Bishops will have established for its territory in accordance with the law are to be submitted to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for the recognitio, without which they lack any binding force.[65]"

Again, neither the source that you provided nor Cardinal Mahony's August 2004 statement provide any legal justification for the practice in question..

Once again I find the need to cite the following:

"[63.] Within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the reading of the Gospel, which is "the high point of the Liturgy of the Word," [139] is reserved by the Church's tradition to an ordained minister. [140] Thus it is not permitted for a layperson, even a religious, to proclaim the Gospel reading in the celebration of Holy Mass, nor in other cases in which the norms do not explicitly permit it.[141]"

To date, your response appears to ignore the statement that "thus it is not permitted for a layperson..."

The powers granted to local archbishops are not strong enough to override "not permitted" without the consent of Rome. Cardinal Mahony's argument that this latest document will be included as a part of all previous documents is a dangerous dodge.

If the Southern states, after Reconstruction, claimed that the 13th and 14th Amendments would only be considered in light of previous text in the United States Constitution that allowed slavery with the intent of re-instituting the common practice in the South of slavery, they would have been using logic parallel to that of Cardinal Mahony.

If you can clearly cite a change in liturgical norms that has been approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, I will gladly accept it and publicly proclaim my ignorance. But I cannot find any such permission, and the sources you have provided do not grant permission.

Lastly, it is important to note that the document in question has a subtitle: On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist. If you continue to choose to act outside of these norms, you had better have permission from Rome. Perhaps you do, and I will support you if you can provide me with documentation granting you permission to do so. I realize that this is a very busy time of the year for you, so please do not feel any particular rush to respond. For you convenience, you may include any appropriate information in an attachment and/or cite a specific website(s) in an email sent to the email address listed above. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter. I really do appreciate it.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Matthew J. McKinley



Cardinal Mahony's response to the Vatican's directives (translation: I don't have to pay any attention) five months later!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


A Tenable Attack on Abortion

The same group that sent me "information" on public education that I have rebutted below, have also sent me several pieces of information on Planned Parenthood and the abortion rights lobby attempt to take parents out of the equation when their daughter of less than 18 years of age wants an abortion. In other words, it is currently legalfor an underage girl to get an abortion without the consent of her parents in California. Unlike the silly diatribe against public education, this series of flyers is filled with facts.

If you are against abortion, or at least, for a parent's right to know and to consent to an abortion for their underage daughter, then you need to sign the initiative to make such rights law. Please visit the Parents Right to Know website or call 866-828-8355 toll-free.

Act now to support the culture of life!


An Untenable Attack on Public Education

(Sorry in advance for any odd characters that might appear below; I have copied this from a word processing document. I will fix the errors when I have time!)

Although the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth, it is not perfect. Most would probably point to the institution of slavery in some states to be the most negative event in its history. Unfortunately, religious intolerance has also been prevalent at various times in the history of America. Perhaps the biggest and most prolonged attack has been on Catholics (especially on Catholic immigrants). The one thing that these attacks usually have had in common is a reliance on broad statements that are "supported" by distortions of the truth or out-right lies. It is unfortunate that a Catholic organization would stoop to these tactics in attacking the institution of public education in America.

It would be easy to dismiss the pamphlet entitled Parents, Do You Want Your Children to be like Pontius Pilate? for its conventional and organizational errors. However, the content of the pamphlet cries out for rebuttal.

The pamphlet begins with a reasonable attempt at grabbing the reader's attention with a discussion of Truth and Pontius Pilate. Unfortunately, the pamphlet immediately starts slinging mud thereafter by attacking all public schools claiming that public schools, "for all practical purposes, deny its (absolute truth) existence." For support, the author of the pamphlet cites Alex Molnar (with no indication of who he is or what his credentials to speak as an authority are): "To be sure, the American public education system embodies a humanistic tradition in which truth is not regarded as an absolute..." For the record, he is a professor at Arizona State University (a public institution) who specializes in alternatives to traditional public education.

The pamphlet continues: "Many view this denial of reality of objective truth by American public education as being a major contributor to the social ills impacting this country and also a factor in the poor performances being registered by many public school students in academic achievement tests. In fact, recent testing data reveals that Catholic school students continue to outperform their public school counterparts, often by a significant margin."

Let's review the two points of this paragraph separately: 1) The argument presented is that all public schools (and using a guilt by association tactic) and all public school teachers reject objective truth. This is absolutely asinine. Although there are many cases where teachers, schools, and even school districts institute programs that can be deemed morally insensitive if not offensive (for example the institution of condom distribution without parental notification), the law is on the parent's side to prevent participation in such programs by their children. The parent's need to be involved. Unfortunately, many parents leave the raising of their children to the schools.

2) This line of thinking leads one to the conclusion that all teachers are immoral automatons. At the school at which I teach, the bulk of teachers are regular church attendees. A high percentage of the staff are Republicans as well. All demonstrate a strong foundation in Judeo-Christian principles of right and wrong that are displayed in their teaching when and where applicable. In fact, my school has a particularly strong Bible club that is lead by a teacher and is supported by several members of the faculty. This club goes beyond just meeting and reading the Bible; it actually is involved in helping the less fortunate in the community, and is an example of the thousands of such groups nationwide.

As for testing results, many factors can impact the scores of students. The number one factor in increasing student achievement in all areas (including standardized test scores) according to many studies is parental involvement. Education World is a good source for many ideas on how to increase parental involvement. For specific research information, one source that supports this conclusion is the San Diego Office of Education. So, the source that has the most impact on student achievement and on how children come to discern absolute Truth is the children's parents. Even the pamphlet supports part of this conclusion when it cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church section 2252: "(parents) have the first responsibility for the education of their children in faith, prayer, and all virtues." The pamphlet goes on to site the CCC section 2229 "as far as possible, parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators." What the pamphlet does not note is that the "Christian educators" are the parents and not the teachers in the school system chosen.

Certainly schools play an important role in student achievement, but to falsely accuse all public schools as being amoral if not immoral, and then to use that false accusation to support the higher test scores of Catholic school students is intellectually and morally offensive.

But the pamphleteer does not end his poorly formed argument there. "Too many surveys in recent years indicate that many Catholics, young and old alike, are sharing in the confusion about good and evil... Clearly, American public education's denial of absolute truth and a corresponding misunderstanding as to what constitutes human freedom that results from this denial is contributing to this problem."

Clearly the author has no idea how to make and support a logical argument. The confusion being felt by many Catholics (for sake of argument, I will assume that the confusion is real although no specific surveys are offered in support of the conclusion) can equally be blamed on those Catholic leaders who hijacked Vatican II to instill their own sense of Protestantism and moral and cultural relativism into the liturgy and Catholic education. I can attest to the latter since I personally suffered through this type of lunacy near the end of my Catholic school education (8th grade) and into my 9th grade C.C.D. program almost 25 years ago. My parents recognized how the concept of Absolute Truth was being glossed over, and took me out of the Church sanctioned program. (For a more current example, review the website of St. Joan of Arc parish; this parish is a perfect example of moral relativism in action within the Catholic Church that is a real cause of confusion on what is right and wrong.)

So, why are some Catholic schools outperforming many public schools (I will even grant this point even though no specific evidence has been provided to support the conclusion)? A better question is, "why does any school outperform another school?" The answer, as cited above, is parental involvement. In the case of Catholic schools, parental involvement is almost always mandatory. This involvement includes active participation in P.T.O., school events (especially fundraisers), and the academic, cultural and spiritual lives of the children. If the parents are not actively involved and/or if the children are behavioral problems, the children are not allowed to attend the parish school unless some extreme circumstances are present. Of course, these children are sent to public schools as a result. The Catholic schools get to choose who they keep.

The pamphlet also conveniently ignores the great number of parents who may not be able to afford to send their children to a parochial school. What are they supposed to do? Are they bad parents? The pamphlet implies that they are, but reasonable people realizes that this is a silly conclusion.

To address the issue of teaching at a public school with a large number of Catholic students, I asked the local (and large) Knights of Columbus council to sponsor a Columbian Squires group at the public school at which I teach. Even though I am not a member of that council (although I am member elsewhere), I volunteered to spearhead the effort. I was informed that the council had no desire to be involved since they were only concerned with the Catholic high school located in another city. With a student population that is heavily Hispanic and Catholic, the potential for good from such a Squires group is excellent. If successful, it could even spread to several other schools in the district and neighboring cities that are served by the council in question. This myopic thinking is appalling; but, unfortunately, it appears to be indicative of the us-versus-them mentality of those who champion Catholic schools while publicly denigrating public schools and their attendees - even the latter's Catholic attendees.

The position of the pamphleteer in short: the American public education system is a moral wasteland; it is responsible for the fact that many Catholics are confused about good and evil and has caused a crisis of faith; thus, good Catholic parents will not send their children to public schools.

In short, the position of the pamphleteer is untenable with one exception. On the very last line on the last page, printed in bold, is the following: The church and parents teach children the truth.

Yes they do; and, if parents want their schools to reflect that, they need to be involved in the activities and organization of any school to which they send their children. I am a public school teacher who is proud of his profession. I am also a Catholic parent who will likely send his children to Catholic schools. What I will not do is send my precious children to any school that does not respect the Truth. Unfortunately, simply saying a school or parish is "Catholic" does not mean that it really is. Responsible parents must investigate parishes and schools. Simply relying on a name or unfounded hearsay found in little pamphlets is not responsible.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Smoking Guns and Smoking Smokers

Even in today's politically correct history curriculum students are instructed that one of the terrible by-products of the Prohibition era was the rise in violent mob crime. Unfortunately, today's legislators and many health nuts and moralists have conveniently blocked out of their collective mind the idea that black markets will arise to satisfy markets that are being taxed to death or are prohibited. In the name of health, many states are trying to make the cost of smoking prohibitive. The dangerous result may be a rise in violent crime in the States and terrorism both home and abroad. Additionally, many states are taking the oddly opposite postion of protecting big tobacco in order to keep the large cash payments flowing into state coffers. The confusions is maddening.

William Billingslea, a senior intelligence analyst for the Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Washington, D.C. states: "Illicit cigarette trafficking now rivals drug trafficking as the method of choice to fill the bank account off terrorists. Each state that raises its cigarette taxes is a new prospect for illicit profits gained by trafficking in cigarettes. Raising the tax on cigarettes sidens the difference between wholesale and retail price and inadvertently creates the opportunity for traffickers, who evade the tax and gain the profits. Cigarette traffickers can make as much as $60 per carton. The illicit sale of cigarettes and other commodities by terrorist groups and their supporters has become a crucial part of their funding activities"

According to Steve Geissinger's article (linked above), Democratic legislators from Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area are pushing three bills to hike cigarette costs to pay for littler cleanup or ease deficit pressures (Assemlblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Woodland Hills, and Senators Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, and Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata).

Of course, bad government ideas motivated by Big Government greed are not confined to simple tax rates on packs of cigarettes. The February 28, 2005 issue of Forbes has an article entitled "Trustbuster" by Scott Wooley which shows the lengths to which the attorney generals and legislators will go to protect their cigarette slush fund created by the big anti-tobacco settlement of as few years ago.

"The settlement took hold in November 1998, and the giants instantly raised prices by 45 cents a pack, this at a time when Marlboros retailed for about two bucks a pack. That was enough to cover payments to the states and then some, but the big brands continued with a spree of price hikes, up to 18 cents a pack the next year, then up 19 cents the year after that."

"The incessant price hikes created an opening for discounters, who spotted and then exploited a loophole in the fee rules (which governed the fees that big tobbacco had to pay to various state governments under the settlement)"

"In getting the four cigarette titatns to agree to pay the states princely sums, which would require price increases, the states agreed to help the big brands avoid getting undersold by discounters. They did so by requiring even new off-price brands to pay roughly the same level of fees (now about 40 cents per pack). The states were disarmingly transparent about their intent: to 'fully neturalize' the competitive advantage of the discounters, the settlement says."

So, what was the loophole?

"The settlement let (discounters and others) get refunds from states where they didn't do business, so a newcomer who sold cigarettes in, say, Virginia would get back 98% of the (cumulative) state imposed fees."

As you can probably guess, states have moved to close this loophole. The states are being challenged by the discounters in Federal Court and have received mixed results so far.

Of course, if you work for Weyco, Inc., you had better stop smoking altogether to save your job even if you only smoke outside of the workplace.

The anti-smokers have gone nuts (and, no, I don't smoke).

Saturday, March 12, 2005



... just the way you look tonight.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


The Federalist

Remember The Federalist, more commonly known as The Federalist Papers? In the public school system of California, seniors who take Government and Civics are supposed to be familiar with the Numbers 10, 51 and 78. These three papers deal with the idea that the new national government will help protect liberty and prevent control by faction through its federal system, seperate branches, independent judiciary, etc. It is the law that these papers be taught.

What is neither mandated nor mentioned are other papers. Occasionally I will pop off about one of them.

Here is a quote from The Federalist #2:

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people - a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

Somehow, this doesn't sound sufficient multi-cultural for the leftists in our country. But instead of bashing our Founding Fathers, it would be better to adopt their perspective and apply it to the modern world; it is an argument for the melting pot (or Huntington's tomato soup concept). In either case, a common ancestry of ideas and culture is one of the key components of the recipe of success for the United States then and now.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Mass Abuse?

The following letter will be mailed today. I shall post the response if and when I receive it. I have edited out any identifying information for the sake of privacy of the priest involved.

March 7, 2005

Reverend XXXXX
Church of XXXXX

Dear Fr. XXXXX:

Although I am not a member of your parish, I frequently attend the 6:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday morning as it fits well into my schedule. Generally speaking, the tone and reverence displayed at this Mass has been respectful and enjoyable. Unfortunately, a repetitive act of the last two weeks has given me some concern; namely the Gospel being co-read by non-ordained laity.

According to Redemptionis Sacramentum:

[63.] "Within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the reading of the Gospel, which is "the high point of the Liturgy of the Word",[139] is reserved by the Church's tradition to an ordained minister.[140] Thus it is not permitted for a layperson, even a religious, to proclaim the Gospel reading in the celebration of Holy Mass, nor in other cases in which the norms do not explicitly permit it.[141]

Perhaps an indult has been granted to the parish to present the Gospel in the manner you have done so the last two weeks or the norm has changed. I would appreciate if you could provide for me the source of authority that has allowed you to make this change. For your convenience, you may email me the information or pertinent website at the email address listed above.

Thank you for your time,

Matthew J. McKinley


While I watched the girls, my wife went to Mass at yet another parish where she witnessed the pouring of Blood of Christ from one large glass pitcher into glassware just prior to Holy Communion. This is wrong on two points. Below is a direct citation from Redemptionis Sacramentum:

[105.] If one chalice is not sufficient for Communion to be distributed under both kinds to the Priest concelebrants or Christ's faithful, there is no reason why the Priest celebrant should not use several chalices.[193] For it is to be remembered that all Priests in celebrating Holy Mass are bound to receive Communion under both kinds. It is praiseworthy, by reason of the sign value, to use a main chalice of larger dimensions, together with smaller chalices.

[106.] However, the pouring of the Blood of Christ after the consecration from one vessel to another is completely to be avoided, lest anything should happen that would be to the detriment of so great a mystery. Never to be used for containing the Blood of the Lord are flagons, bowls, or other vessels that are not fully in accord with the established norms.


[117.] Sacred vessels for containing the Body and Blood of the Lord must be made in strict conformity with the norms of tradition and of the liturgical books.[205] The Bishops' Conferences have the faculty to decide whether it is appropriate, once their decisions have been given the recognitio by the Apostolic See, for sacred vessels to be made of other solid materials as well. It is strictly required, however, that such materials be truly noble in the common estimation within a given region, [206] so that honour will be given to the Lord by their use, and all risk of diminishing the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in the eyes of the faithful will be avoided. Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate. [207]

I'll tackle the second issue after I have received a response on the first issue.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Krytocracy and the USCCB

Krytocracy - government ruled by judges.

This concept first reared its ugly head in the debates over the Brown v. Board of Education in which desegregaton was eventually found to be unconstitutional by a unanimous court. Justice Stanley Reed was rightly concerned with the novel idea that judges could find for any outcome that they personally found agreeable regardless of what the law actually stated.

Now I am not about to condemn the outcome of the Court's decision in the aforementioned case. I do think I could have crafted a decision (gee, aren't I humble!) that would have achieved the same outcome but would have been more traditionally and constitutionally sound. However, since I cannot go back in time and influence the Supreme Court, I must stick with the current crisis of the court.

The Supreme Court's juvenile death penalty decision is a perfect example of krytocracy. The Court decided, on a 5-4 vote, that their vision of right and wrong, influenced by world opinion and legal precedents of other countries, is more important that the rightfully enacted laws of the states in question.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops should be alarmed and not gratified by the outcome. Krytocracy is the enemy of freedom including the freedom of religion. There is nothing that would stop the Court from deciding that some government has a better idea on what freedom of religion is than what has traditionally been held in the United States with its First Amendment. Perhaps the U.S. Bishops would like to follow the Chinese Communist model of religion; afterall, there are four times as many people in China then there are citizens of the United States, and the former's view is much more "modern" than ours which dates back centuries.

I agree that these, if not most, death penalties should be commuted to life sentences. I agree with the Vatican line that the implementation of the death penalty should be a rare event and should only be applied to those who pose a continuing threat to civilized society even if they were to be incarcerated. However, trashing the rule of law and democratic priniciples is not an acceptable outcome

If Senator Byrd wishes to attack enemies of freedom, he should focus his attacks on the Court and the leadership of his party and not the Republican leadership in the Senate. The USCCB should join him.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Traditional, not Traditionalist

(please forgive any typos - I will change them when I have time to proof the post more diligently! Thanks!)

The biggest and most continuous source of controversy in the Roman Catholic church over the last 35 years has been the revised Roman Rite of the Mass. The Paul VI missal (which has been tinkered with as recently as 2000) is a reform that is in need of reform. This idea is not new, but for me, it is one that I have been toying with for at least 20 years. After having read different arguments from different sides, I have found myself in the "reform of the reform" camp, and not the Traditionalist camp. Sacrosanctum Concilium, issued by the Council Fathers of Vatican II is clear in its intent that the traditions of the ancient Roman Rite should be countinued, and that any revision must be done with this intent in mind. This traditional but not Traditionalist idea is one with which I am finally comfortable since, I think, I have come to understand what needs to be done to "fix" the Novus Ordo.

My understanding and proposals are based on the writings of the authors, most of whom are priests, that I have digested over the last 20 years. If something sounds familiar to you but is not directly attributed to someone, then I probably got it from someone else but do not remember exactly from where the idea or statment came.


The Mass, especially the Liturgy of the Eucharist, should be conducted in a sacred space since it is a sacred action. Thus, it is important to consider architecture as well as the prayers and actions of the priest and the faithful. I will not dwell much on architecture here, but the sanctuary should be a sacred place that is treated with proper respect. The sanctuary should not be a gathering place for the group of the day, nor should it blend in with the church proper so that no demarkation exists between where the pews end and the sactuary begins. The reinstallation of altar rails, where needed, should commence immediately. The tabernacle should be a center focal point, and the altar should be an altar and not a Calvinist table. There are many other ideas that would help if instituted, but I offer these as being the most pressing. I am open to other suggestions.


These architectual changes will help any lay Catholic focus better on the mysteries and general content of the Mass. But architectural changes are not sufficient in and of themselves. I have attended Mass at churches that have wonderful architecture, but the content of the "service" has been abysmal. One of the greatest problems with the Novus Ordo is that it has become a rite of randomness - the tone and content can vary dramatically from place to place and from Mass to Mass (even within the same parish!).

The Council Fathers, as well as Paul VI I should think, believed that consistency and continuity were key to any reformed Roman Rite. Anyone who has any sense at all realizes that consitency and continuity simply does not exist within some parishes, let alone dioceses and archdioceses. Liturgical reformers have been more interested in the Protestantization of the service that downplays or eliminates the mystery inherent in the rite in favor of modernist thought and practices. Sacrosanctum Concilium, and the Council Fathers who issued it, does not envision nor authorize the old Rite to be tossed on the ash heap of history. Converserly, it does not argue that the Missal of 1962 (or any before it) should remain unaltered.

How can the Mass be reigned in, so to speak? How can the Church reform the Roman Rite so that it is the most effective Rite possible?

The following is my basic reform proposal. I have not addressed every minutiae, nor am I suggesting what do in specific times such as the Easter Vigil, Good Friday, etc. My proposals, a marriage of ideas taken from many sources, focuses on the key components of the "regular" Mass.


The reform of the reform should start with language. Sacrosanctum Concillium appears to waffle on the debate of Latin versus the vernacular. However, the Council Fathers, save one, felt that there was no need for concern about the potential loss of Latin since they were convinced that it would not happen! Alas, the loss is very apparent, and it is time to find our Latin roots in order to restore continuity, consistency and tradition.

Borrowing from Fr. Brian W. Harrison's, O.S. suggestions (yes, another Australian has made an impact on me, although I go in a slightly different direction that his proposal for an alternate reform), Latin should be reinstituted and made mandatory (no indults permitted) for prayers that do not change. There is nothing in Sacrosanctum Concillium that would "justify the translation of the whole Mass into the vernacular," as Fr. Harrison has noted.

Fr. Harrison writes (and, yes, I know that the Kyrie is in Greek):

"Latin could be retained for all those parts that are recited in a low voice by the priest - that is, the whole of the Offertory and the Canon - and also for most of the unchanging (or relatively unchanging) parts of the common invocations and the final blessing, the Kyrie, Gloria, Preface, Pater Noster, Sanctus, and Angus Dei. (Article 54 actually specifies that the faithful should be able to sing or recite many of those parts in Latin. An exception could be made for the Confiteor if, as I am suggesting, it is to be recited just once at the beginning of the Mass by both priest and people. Since there is no tradition of singing this prayer, and since the Latin contains several passages that are awkward in pronunciation, recitation in the vernacular would probably be more appropriate here.) This would leave for translation into the vernacular those publicly audible parts of the Mass that, because they change every day, would be most unfamiliar and unitelligble to the faithful if they remained in Latin: the opening Introit, antiphon, and Collect; the Scripture readings, Prayer of the Faithful, the Offertory and Communion anitphons, and the postcommunion prayer. I suggest that such a distribution of languages would provide very much the kind of balance that most Council Fathers probably had in mind."

I am open to a discussion on what parts of the Mass should be prayed by the priest in a low voice. Perhaps Fr. Harrison is correct, but it is not something on which I have particularly strong thoughts one way or the other.


Much has been said about the institution of the A, B, and C cycle of readings versus the old set calendar. Many people like to focus on the fact that the second reading is usually not a good thematic fit with the first reading, the responsorial Psalm and the Gospel. The argument for bringing back a set calendar for the purposes of reminding the faithful of important themes is persuasive; but, having grown up in the reformed reading system, I cannot say that I feel that I have suffered in any way, nor am I aware of any position that advocates a change based on damage suffered. The key is the quality of the homily given by the priest. Happy-go-lucky and touchy-feely homilies can obliterate the meaning of any set of readings. Discipline in the content of homilies seems to be much more important here.

As for who should do the readings, the Gospel is reserved to the priest or deacon (with the obvious exception of Palm Sunday; if other exceptions exist, they are not coming to mind right now). Just this last Sunday, my wife and I had to suffer through a joint reading that included two lay persons. This is the perfect example of liberal liturgists gone wild. Although the sermon was fine, my (and my wife's) irritation level made it more difficult to concentrate on the priest's sermon as well as actively and prayerfully participate in the rest of the Mass.

I have no objection in having lay persons recite the rest of the readings so long as they are competent. Too often the faithful have to suffer through butchered pronounciations and mumbled parts that make the readings unbearable if not unintelligble. If a competent, and rehearsed person, is not available, the priest or deacon should read the daily selections (and, no, I did not choose the last two words


The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharistic, although key components of the Mass, should be performed in such a way that the distinct nature of each is not lost. Various priests have suggested, and I agree, that the priest should face the same direction as the people during the entire Offertory and Eucharistic Prayer as he is the one re-presenting (not repeating nor simply memorializing in a Protestant fashion) the sacrifice of Calvary. The priest's position is necessarily elevated due to the awesome gravity of the mystery of the crucified Christ. When the priest faces us during this time, the focus tends to be on him in a communal meal fashion. As Fr. Harrison points out: "Vatican II never remotely suggested this change (facing the people), which is more radically Protestant in spirit even than the Lutheran custom and traces its origin to the Calvinist 'Lord's Supper.'"

Fr. Aidan Nicols, O.P. writes: "By an apparent paradox, we need the liturgy not to be intrusively relevant to the secular roles that the society of a fallen world constructs for us. We need the liturgy to estrange us from our ordinary workaday selves by enabling us to find a new identity in those voices that speak there of adoration, purification, and the endless trandscendence of the peace beyond all undestanding of the City of God." Fr. Aidan's point is applicable to the entire Mass, but as it is applied to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, getting away from the Calvinist visual that now permeates the Latin Church is the right idea. Fr. Aiden continues: "The liturgy must make us aware of the identity of the Mass with Calvary." It is obvious that the awareness of which he writes is lost in many, if not most, Latin Rite churches today.

As for the Euchartistic Prayer, only the prayer that has become to be known as Number One should be retained. There is no evidence that the Council Fathers envisioned nor wanted any new prayers to be used here. If tradition, consistency, and continuity are important (and they are essential) then the use of the Eucharisitic Prayer of the "old" rite is necessary. The use of the new prayers is, in essence, a creation of a new rite and not a reform of the old even if one thinks the new prayers are of equal quality. This core component should be deemed untouchable.

Also, it is important that sacred vessels be used. Glass, clay, etc. do not fit the definition.

So, what about facing east? Given the architecture of many church buildings, this is not always possible, hence my emphasis on the priest facing the same way as the people during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.


There are many other practices and ideas that need to be eliminated or radically changed. I have discussed most of these in previous posts (such as the elimination of altar girls, the drastic reduction in the use of Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers, the use of a communion paten, suitable music, etc.) I realize that not all important issues have been touched on in this post, but I trust that the reader will find these issues to be the ones that should be at the top of the list for discussion. What is most important here is that we strive to be Roman Catholics and not modern Protestants. I will leave you with Father J.P. Parsons' words on the original reform movement:

"Initially the idea is to make modern life revolve around the liturgy, but as the movememt develops, there is an increasing tendency to make the liturgy revolve around modern life."

That needs to stop now!


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