Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Question of Respect

Respect me, or else.

A Common-Sense Response to the Complex Question of Respect

First of all, the Bear acknowledges that this is a complex question, although he maintains it is not a hard one. For too many of his fellow Catholics, it seems to be an absolute that rests on ways of understanding reality that are uncongenial to Bears. As always, the Bear is not claiming that he has the complete truth. He's never been one for The Big Answer and has refused to endorse any theories along those lines.

Make sure you and yours are reasonably well-catechized, use the Sacraments, read the Bible, try to stay in a state of grace, be ready to help others, and peddle through life on a bicycle while juggling flaming horse heads. That's something everyone can enjoy, right?

Who is Bear to judge what sort of sense his friends try to make out of all these goings-on, especially with the Eclipse of Doom coming right down poor Bear's chimney?

Supernatural Answers are Beyond Bears
but are Usually not Necessary

While the Bear wholeheartedly accepts the supernatural, he does not know how to factor it into analysis. That is why he has never tried. Where natural explanations are good and sufficient, he does not try to nose down supernatural ones. If, in the end, the only answer is the Calvinists' "Sovereign Lord," or Muslims' "Insh'allah," what's the point of blogging anyway? Why get your brakes fixed, if Allah or the God of Calvinists has already doomed Joe Bogagi to die beneath your Goodyears?

No, the Bear sticks to evidence and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom.

It seems quite reasonable to the Bear that the Bishop of Bratwurst could have an unnatural appetite for adolescent boys. That is an issue of the sort the criminal justice system deals with as a matter of routine.

It also seems reasonable to the Bear that said Bishop might hold and teach dodgy theology, as well. While perhaps more esoteric, at least the more obvious questions should not be beyond the powers of educated laymen.

Furthermore, since it is a matter of historical record that there have been popes of dubious morality and imperfect theology, we know that even they are subject to temptation and falls of all kinds.

One might argue that it is a matter of current events that Pope Francis has been somewhat distracted, shall we say, from a full-throated defense of the Deposit of Faith. The Bear does not feel moved to attribute any supernatural cause to this, such as a "chastisement." Nor does the Bear believe every word that falls from Pope Francis' lips to a waiting microphone is nectar distilled from the Holy Spirit, or that the Pope is incapable of refusing to cooperate with God, or operating on bad information or suffering from a poor formation, or just be plain wrong.

The Bear does not feel it is necessary to reach for any supernatural explanations at all when the Church seems to be failing in the exact same way at the exact same time as every other Western institution. These are the days of our lives, which is not to say they are not the last days, too, just that the Bear is not competent to judge such matters.

It seems to the Bear only natural that we might come up a cropper in a papal election, especially these days. South America in general and Jesuits in particular are hardly synonymous with "orthodoxy," after all. The Bear can acknowledge facts without running around in circles like the Woodlands is burning down. Presumably, God is charge of the big picture, and the Bear expects a lot of surprises when the final credits roll, anyway.

Mea Culpa

The Bear acknowledges that he has not only criticized the Pope, but has also used the sharper rhetorical tools of parody, invective, and agitprop. The Bear is sure his readers chalked that up to "Bearishness," and figured it was just the Bear's style, and an effort to be humorous.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Here, at the end, the Bear reveals the method behind the meanness.

The Bear condemns insulting people for the sake of insulting them. For one thing, there is no art to hurling insults, e.g. "Bat Christian."

On the other hand, the Bear has not been deterred from criticizing anyone by a demand for "respect." Sometimes that very "respect" is not just an all-purpose objection to criticism, but a cover-up for wrongdoing. Worst of all, "respect" can be not just the blanket that covers, or the gag that stops criticism, but the very means by which someone commits evil.

The cries for "respect" and the need for legitimate criticism are never more in conflict than in this last case: when someone uses the cloak of respect to cover his misdeeds, repel deserved criticism, but also as the very instrument of wrongdoingIn such cases, the issue of "respect" is not irrelevant to the criticism. Indeed, the force field of "respect" must be the first target, because as long as that shield is up, criticism can go nowhere.

"Shields Up"

That kind of "respect" is the kind of protection Captain Kirk could only dream of from shields on the Enterprise.

The ordinary Catholic's "shield of respect" he is willing to grant is not only defensive, but offensive. It not only intercepts attacks, it bounces them back upon the attacker. The question is not whether the criticism is correct or not. The answer is simply, "You must never criticize the Pope!" for example. A fortiori, then, one must never be disrespectful to the Pope!

Therefore, if one criticizes the Pope, however validly, he is struck down seven-fold by the defensive-offensive force field of "respect" and the millions who generate it. Some of them pretend reasonableness by saying, "You may criticize the Pope, if you must, but always with respect." That sounds good until you try to work it out in practice.

In other words, you may criticize as long as you do not penetrate the force field of respect generated by the Church and supporters of the Pope. Understand that the attack will be repelled, and you yourself will be blasted, not your target. Underlying all of this is a tacit assumption that it is never legitimate to criticize the Pope. Because of God or something.

Even if criticism is allowed, after all, and "respect" not insisted upon, if someone does try to disable the force field of "respect" with the Phasers of Truth set on 100%, now the objection is "no, no, no, you've gone too far!"

Pfft. Bear gets tired of all of this human silliness. If the attack is true and matters enough to make, it should be as effective as possible. If the Bishop of Bratwurst is molesting adolescent boys, the Bear will call him a "bugger," whether that is an impolite word to apply to a prelate or not. The Bear believes that even those willing to hear criticism still want to look like they just stepped out of a holy card. Faster than you can say "Saint-Sulpice" you're rapped sharply on the muzzle.

Sometimes the Bear suspects a superstitious dread and papolatry that Jack Chick himself would reject as "too hard to sell even to snake-handlers."

Thus, one may expose the wolf in sheep's clothing, but one must never touch the sheep's clothing to accomplish the disclosure. What a neat trick that would be! And how convenient for the wolf!

One may expose a bishop who abets the molestation of adolescent boys, but has it not been the problem that the institutional force field of "respect" has not only hampered discovery and prosecution, but has been the very means for the abuse to occur and continue? Is the Bear wrong about that? If so, please, let him hear it.

Ah, when "respect" is the very means of doing what deserves criticism.

Now, that is where the Bear's "lack of respect" is not just playing, or used for shock, but is an essential and legitimate part of the criticism. As long as the Bishop of Bratwurst is "respected" and all, how do you effectively criticize him? "Lack of respect" is nothing more than laying hold of the sheep's clothing and yanking it off the wolf! (A practical example from the law will be coming in the next article.)

The Nature of Respect: Earned and Conferred

Respect is something owed to one person by others. It comes in two ways. The first may be gained by anyone, and depends upon character, the good odor of which is spread by reputation.

The second is conferred by an external authority completely independent of character, and says absolutely nothing about the person that must now be respected. In fact, the compromises one must often make in many institutions in order to get that "respect" conferred, whether it be a colored hat or tenure, might cause some to view it with cynicism.

Since the first kind of respect is honestly earned, it is "safe." This kind of respect is deserved and trust naturally follows. It is the very best kind of respect and belongs to the one respected as a personal attribute stemming from good character.

The second kind of respect  is conferred by authority, usually to support the function of an institution. It has nothing to do with character. A judge, for example, is "your Honor" in the courtroom, and is treated with the utmost deference. His decisions are not questioned during a trial. He may be an alcoholic wife-beater with gambling debts, but that does not matter. The best we can do is hope that his bad character does not interfere with the fair administration of justice.

Indeed, many have deliberately used an externally-conferred demand for respect as a cover for the worst deeds. Sometimes this has happened within the Church.

When the Respect-Conferring Office is the Very Means of Misconduct

What is the proper response when a bad actor uses institutional respect as the very means of doing and/or covering his evil?

This is an important question. A bad person without an office of respect may do evil. (Most criminals, for instance.) A bad person with an office of respect may do evil unrelated to his office of respect. (For example, a judge who uses cocaine.) And then there is a bad person with an office of respect who deliberately uses that office as the very instrument of wrong-doing. (A judge solicits a bribe for a certain ruling.)

In the first two examples, the question of "respect" never enters into the picture. It is irrelevant to the wrongdoing. In the third, the robes of conferred respect are inextricably linked with the wrongdoing. The bribery can take place only because the corrupt judge is a judge.

The finest cloth of conferred respect is often the instrument for committing the worst crimes. The Bear does not fear a thug nearly as much as a thug with a badge.

When one has decided it is solely by means of the office (the one that everyone is demanding must be "respected") that the acts requiring criticism are being performed, then it follows that the very first attack must be made upon - not the office - but the unworthy use to which a person puts the respect due to that office. The distinctions are as fine as gossamer, perhaps, and yes, the respect due to the office deserves consideration.

And yet, you gotta burst that bubble of awe, even if it takes a Three Stooges eye poke.

What About Damaging the Papacy?

Martin Luther erred by criticizing not only the Pope, but the papacy. Few bloggers criticizing Francis are wanting to do away with the papacy (or any other genuine teaching of the Church - sometimes it feels we're the only ones who still care about those). May one criticize the papacy, yet acknowledge a virtuous and learned pope? Sure. By the same token, one may criticize a pope, and not touch the papacy.

The knee-jerk answer is that criticism of the pope necessarily brings the papacy into disrepute. The Bear does not see why that should be so. Even if that is true to some extent, the antics of an out-of-control pope pose a far greater risk of scandal and permanent damage than a bunch of bloggers.

The way the Bear has always viewed it is that the cloak of respect covers all intended uses of the office. When a person who has been conferred the respect of an office misuses that cloak of respect to cover misdeeds, gag critics, and advance his personal interests to the detriment of the institution that gave him that cloak to begin with, then he has uncovered himself to a greater or lesser degree from the protection of that cloak.

However, given the religious characteristic of some cloaks, people can easily become confused. They become absolutists. They refuse to follow their logic to go to the ridiculous place it leads. For them, of course, no argument is sufficient. The Pope is holy, correct, and might as well be Mumbo Jumbo of the Victorians. Bear sincerely hopes none of those types have wasted their time reading this far.

But how about this objection? "We must combat each individual error of a pope one-by-one, while respecting both the person and the office." That is actually a decent objection, and should be the approach whenever possible. In a rare case, however, it is not one or two errors, but a spirit of error that may color an entire pontificate. Given modern mass media, might a pope count on "respect" to keep the malcontents quiet while he deforms the Faith?

This calls for its own answer, but not in this already long article.

There is also "sacrilege," although wicked Bear observes it is pretty convenient when an institution that is your only ticket into Heaven (when it suits it - otherwise, confusingly, it's all about the interfaith) puts its upper management beyond criticism by the likes of you and Bear. See? It's a good thing the Bear is stopping blogging now, since he is truly so wicked and full of bad thoughts. Yes, Bear acknowledges sacrilege. He does not believe criticizing churchman who are deforming the faith falls under that.

Next (Related): The Two Classes of Witnesses and How Each Must be Cross Examined

Thursday, July 20, 2017

"Now, I have your precious Bear all to myself!"

If you want to blame Red, it would not be unfair. That's the way they operate.
Or the eclipse. They operate that way, too.

Official Notice from Bear HQ

For reasons that are as uninteresting as, for example, how the Bear wishes to spend his remaining time on this planet, the famous St. Corbinian's Bear's Ephemeris - "A Curious Entertainment for Discriminating Catholic Ladies and Gentlemen," will be going dormant  - hibernating, if you will - within the next couple of weeks.

The Bear feels this announcement will allow people to adjust to the severe psychological shock of a world without the Bear's visible presence and allow clerical miscreants time to plan celebratory cocaine-fueled orgies.

It will also allow the Bear to revisit some more controversial issues relating to the Church and the ephemeris itself that do not depend upon the day's news. Should future historians of the Decline and Fall of the West wander into the Woodlands and discover prophetic scrawls, they might benefit from this retrospective before they burn the Bear's cave and all it contains with fire.

But Bear, What Does This Mean?

Coincidence? Eclipse will be right over Bear's cave.
The symbolism could not be clearer.
Maximum Totality here: 2m 37s.
Viewing rental: 100 salmon.

What is meant by "hibernation," and "dormant?"

First of all, it does not mean dead. The Bear has hibernated before, and come back. He reserves the right to post whenever and how often and upon whatsoever subject he is moved to post. He could decide tomorrow the whole hibernation idea was bad. Bears are unpredictable like that.

What it means is that the Bear will not feel guilty when he does not post regularly. So, it is more of the removal of a self-imposed obligation toward his readers than walking into the sunset forever.

It does not mean that the 1300+ pieces published over the last four years will disappear. Most of the Bear's articles are not timely, anyway, so if you have not browsed among the regular misfiring of the Bear's 450 gm ursine brain, there is still plenty to enjoy in the archives. And that includes the comment box. Articles are available organized by date or or searchable by topic.

The Bear doubts non-bloggers appreciate the amount of time a blog takes. For most pieces, by the time something is researched, written, rewritten, posted, then proof-read (although it never seems to do any good) and the Bear interacts politely with visitors, a full day of writing has passed.

The Bear Makes a Difficult Choice: Ice Cream or Cake?

Waving a "red" flag?
It has become more and more apparent that St. Corbinian's Bear's ephemeris is in a competition to the death with the Bear's (award-winning) novel Judging Angels and the Rubricatae Chronicles series it unintentionally spawned. He wishes he did not have to choose between ice cream and cake.

So why choose? It is impossible for the Bear to do both. The ephemeris reaches - and therefore presumably entertains - far more people. And yet, it is the nature of ephemera to be ephemeral. Pieces flutter to the sidewalk before your feet, are perhaps picked up and read, but then they all go into the trash can of yesterday's news. It is the way the Internet works.

The creative lure of putting between two covers substantial characters in an original world and exploring timeless themes from a Catholic perspective is irresistible to the Bear. In other words, the scope of very long fiction ticks all the Bear's boxes. Nor does it mean that current events will go unnoticed, but in a way suitable to the medium.

The Bear knows he will never be able to rest until he has finished the (so far tragic) saga of the all-too-human Able family.

If you thought things were bad at the end of Judging Angels, you may have underestimated the cruel ingenuity of Bear novelists. The next book has plenty of surprises, a few insights, and, the Bear hopes, still some "he did NOT just do that!" moments. Not to mention the Bear's trademark mordant humor to remind you not to take things too seriously.

The Bear knows it will take a minimum of two more good-sized books to finish the tale. He knows that because he knows what's in the second book and the end is not nigh. But the Bear himself is living on borrowed time at 800 years (that's 60 in human years). Who knows how much time he has left to wrap things up?

Naturally, readers of this ephemeris will think the Bear is putting all of his eggs into the wrong basket. The Bear understands and does not argue. He does not want anyone to think he is distancing himself from loyal readers without many a pang. Thank you.

For now, he invites you to read a few last articles.

For now.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


Please forgive the ultimate in lazy blogging, but for a Bear, Bear is doing the best he can to satisfy all consumers of Bearish perspectives, even those who think they are reading novels.

Here is something Bear posted elsewhere. It is so brilliant, Bear must quote it here:

Francis is a small-minded man with a resentment for Northern – especially U.S. – wealth, success and power. Economics is a zero-sum game for him. If we are rich and Venezuela is poor, we must have taken our wealth from them. He sees things in naturalistic terms from a leftist, if not Marxist, perspective. That is not an “oh, by the way,” to explain his hatred of American conservatives. That is the horrific reality of our Church today. It is not animated by anything that would seem out of place in the New America Foundation or any other Soros-tentacled think tank that have already turned the USCCB into a Democrat front group. If you ever wondered what the Catholic Church would look like without God, you have your big chance now.

Let the Bear (who is NOT a Spectacled Bear - the only miserable distant relatives the Bear has in Argentina or he would have ordered his ursine legions forth across the entire blighted continent) get this straight. Humans chose a pope from Eva Peron land, from a continent where Liberation Theology covers real Catholicism like kudzu covers telegraph lines in Mississippi, and are shocked, shocked, Bear says, when he tries to single-handedly immanentize the eschaton

Anyway, that's all the invective the Bear has time for today. Go here to American Catholic to read something sensible and well-informed about the latest flap from Caracas-on-the-Tiber.

For God's sake, screw this idea of "the world" and bury your nose in Ecclesiastes and the Gospels. This universe is 14 billion years old. It may last another 14 billion. "The world" won't. At the rate humans are going, it will end in a century with one final cry of Allahu Akbar and good riddance.

Bears will take their rightful place as masters of the earth.

A blink of the eye, friends, as is your life. Nobody in Heaven cares about the big issues or debates economic theories. Remember: YOU made headlines in Heaven today, good ones or bad? You can't help it. Don't sweat anything BUT the small stuff. God is all about the small stuff. 

Only men and devils care about the big issues.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Known and Unknown

As the Bear has this week been engaged in a brief hiatus (it is, after all, summer), here for your edification are more relics, some of which are not too often seen.

Ex pallio S. Iosef

Above is a small piece from the cloak of Saint Joseph (the Betrothed) in a modern theca. This was given to me by a Catholic priest and it was sealed by the Augustinians. Only a few parts of Joseph's cloak, belt, and staff are known to still exist on earth and his body has never been found. In 1889, Pope Leo XIII instructed in Quamquam pluries that the popular novena to the Holy Cloak of Saint Joseph be added to the recitation of the Rosary in the month of October, in memory of the 30 years Joseph had spent living in the company of Jesus Christ. Three places were Saint Joseph's relics can be found are at the National Historical Museum in Sofia, Bulgaria; at Saint Anthony's Chapel in Pittsburgh, and in the Philippines.

Ex ossibus Ss. Martyrum Machabeor

From the same priest came the above theca with intact seal containing a small piece of bone belonging to one of the Old Testament Maccabean martyrs. I have no idea which Maccabeus this is, but their relics can be found at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, Italy. The original provenance of this relic was the Vatican according to the numerical markings on the back of the theca.

Ex ossibus S. Dionysii

Above in modern theca with intact seal is a piece of bone of Saint Dionysus the Areopagite, a convert of Saint Paul. This relic came from Metropolitan Theodosius of the Orthodox Church in America. The relics of Saint Dionysus can be found at the various Athonite monasteries in Greece.

Ex ossibus Ss. Petrus, Iona, Alexis

Also from Metropolitan Theodosius came the above treasure with pieces of bone belonging to the three Metropolitan-Saints Peter, Jonah, and Alexis of Moscow, Kiev and all Rus. The relics of Saint Peter and Saint Jonah can be found at Uspensky Sobor (the oldest cathedral at the Kremlin) in Moscow, Russian Federation, whereas those of Saint Alexis can be found at Epiphany Cathedral in Yelokhovo, also in Moscow.

Ex ossibus S. Gregorii Naz.

From the first priest came also a piece of bone belonging to Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (one of the Three Holy Hierarchs). His relics can be found at the Vatican and at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George in Fener, Istanbul, Turkey.

© Marcelle Bartolo-Abela, aka the Bald Eagle.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Relics of the Apostles

Ex ossibus sanctissimorum Apostolorum

The Holy Apostles

Above, for your edification, are first class relics of the Twelve Apostles in a brass multi-reliquary put together and sealed by the Augustinians. All the relics are ex ossibus - that is, pieces of their bones. This reliquary was given to me by a Catholic priest.

Here is the list of the above relics:
  1. Peter, aka the Fisherman, son of John and brother of Andrew;
  2. Andrew, son of John and brother of Peter;
  3. James, aka the Elder, son of Zebedee and brother of John;
  4. John, aka the Beloved; son of Zebedee and brother of James. The only Apostle who did not run away for the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and who died a peaceful death;
  5. Philip;
  6. Bartholomew, aka Nathanael;
  7. Thomas, aka Didymus, the Doubter;
  8. Matthias, the tax collector son of Alpheus (Cleophas) and cousin of Christ (through Joseph);
  9. James, aka The Younger; son of Alpheus, brother of Matthias, Jude, and Simon; cousin of Christ;
  10. Jude Thaddeus, son of Alpheus, brother of James, Simon, and Jude; cousin of Christ;
  11. Simon, aka the Zealot; son of Alpheus, brother of James, Jude, and Matthias; cousin of Christ; and
  12. Barnabas, one of the 70 disciples, the companion of Paul and cousin of Mark the Evangelist (John Mark, also one of the 70; one of the servants at Cana and the young man who ran away naked when Christ was arrested in Gethsemane). The 'replacement' for Judas Iscariot.
The main relics of the Apostles can be found in the following locations:
  1. Peter - Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City State;
  2. Andrew - Cathedral of Saint Andrew, Patras, Greece;
  3. James the Elder - Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain;
  4. John - Basilica of Saint John, Ephesus, Turkey;
  5. Philip - Basilica Minore dei Santi Apostoli, Rome, Italy; and in the Hierapolis of Phrygia, Turkey;
  6. Bartholomew - Basilica di San Bartolomeo all'Isola, Rome, and at the Basilica di San Bartolomeo, Benevento, Italy; at the Cathedral of Frankfurt, Germany, and at Canterbury Cathedral, England;
  7. Thomas - Basilica di San Tommaso, Ortona, Italy; at San Thome Minor Basilica, Chennai, India; and on the island of Chios, Greece;
  8. Matthias - Cattedrale di Salerno, Salerno, Italy; and at the Saint Matthias Benedictine Abbey, Trier, Germany;
  9. James the Younger - Cathedral of Saint James, Jerusalem (seat of the Armenian Patriarchate), and at the Basilica Minore dei Santi Apostoli, Rome, Italy;
  10. Jude - Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City State, and at the National Shrine of Saint Jude, Chicago, Illinois;
  11. Simon - Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City State; and
  12. Barnabas - Monastery of Saint Barnabas, Salamis, Cyprus.

 © Marcelle Bartolo-Abela, aka the Bald Eagle.

Friday, July 7, 2017

More relics of Jesus Christ

Relics, Relics, Relics!

The First Relics
A woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped. Jesus then asked, "Who touched me?" While all were denying it, Peter said, "Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you." But Jesus said, "Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me." When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling. Falling down before him, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace" (Lk 8:43-48).
I loved icons, but had no particular fondness for holy relics as I was well aware of all the superstitious stories about them, despite one of my iconography teachers, a Maronite Catholic priest, being totally 'into relics.' Coming from a scientific background, with empiricism and hard data having been drilled into me, throughout my professional life, as being the god of all and above all, before reaching the ultimate god Who is God, relics seemed to me to be a bunch of hocus-pocus at par with those famous indulgences and reported multitude of sales thereof, which had provoked Martin Luther to nail his 99 theses to the church door. I was "not that kind of person" - and had no intention of ever becoming one.

In vain did the priest for years attempt, in multiple ways, to educate me about the tangible, but mystical, significance of holy relics. I refused to listen.

"Talk to me about icons," I would say, "but leave relics out of the equation."

Icons were okay, in particular the ones written in the Russian-Byzantine tradition, considered the pinnacle of the sacred art of iconography. Those were 'safe.' Our Father had given me both a love for icons and the opportunity to learn iconography with great teachers. Icons were also beautiful to look at. I could just sit or stand in front of them for hours, just staring at them. I love writing icons. But relics?

Oh, no.


No, no, no, no, no, no, no.


Yet Jesus Christ, like His Father, had a different idea about the whole situation and a great sense of humor.

Ask and You Shall Receive
When people sit and tell holy stories, God comes to listen (cf. Mal 3:16).
At the time, it was my practice to complain to Christ that our Father had given me a gift - iconography - as a token of His love for having returned to Him. But Christ had not given me anything, I thought. Coming from my background as a relatively newbie revert, I did not consider that at all fair - and I wanted something from each Person of the Holy Trinity.

"What," I thus kept asking Jesus day in, day out, "are You going to give me? Won't You give me something? Give me something [tangible] of Yours too!"

The beautiful handmade and hand-carved gilt bronze, Baroque multi-reliquary shown first below arrived soon after from Northern Italy. I stared at it really hard upon its arrival in my mailbox in an unmarked brown Jiffy bag (other than my address) and stamped Milano by the post office. No one had known about my request to Christ. I had never disclosed it to anyone.

More and more relics then started to arrive or be given to me in a slow, steady stream: from the East and from the West; from the North and from the South; the vast majority of them given by priests, Catholic and Orthodox. Single relics, multiple relics. Relics with original documentation, relics without documentation, but of known provenance. Relics of saints wanted, relics of saints unwanted; relics of saints known, relics of saints relatively unknown. And relics of saints abandoned.

My iconography teacher could scarce contain his delight.

"See? I told you," he crowed.

Never in my wildest had I dreamed that I would end up becoming a custodian of holy relics. But the crowning point was the arrival of some relics you shall be seeing in this and future posts for your edification, in addition to the ones of Our Lady and of the Cross of Christ that you already saw in my first two posts on the topic.

Relics of the Passion, Death and Burial of Jesus Christ
They are the most precious evidence of the Passion of our Lord (Amalric I).
Ex Praesepio, Ex Petra Unctionis, Ex Sepulchro
Domini Nostri Jesu Christi

The relics of Jesus Christ shown in the above reliquary consist of three small stones: one from the Grotto of the Nativity (Ex Praesepio), one from the Stone of the Anointing (Ex Petra Unctionis), and one from the Holy Sepulchre (Ex Sepulchro). The reliquary bears the Jerusalem cross of the Custodian of the Holy Land, the head of the Franciscan Friars, on its intact seal inside.

The Grotto where Christ was born can be found in the crypt of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank. The Stone of the Anointing was installed in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre to commemorate the spot upon which it is thought the Body of Christ had been prepared for burial by Saint Joseph of Arimathea and Saint Nicodemus. The tomb of Christ can be found in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre - Church of the Resurrection in the city of Jerusalem.

Ex Columna Domini Nostri Jesu Christi

The above relic with intact seal is a small piece from the Column of the Flagellation to which Christ had been tied for the Scourging at the Pillar (Ex Columna). This relic also came from Italy.

The Column was taken to the Church of the Apostles on top of Mount Zion after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. A large portion of the column can now be found at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. A smaller portion of it was translated from Jerusalem in 1223 by Giovanni, Cardinal di Colonna, the papal legate in the Holy Land during the Sixth Crusade, and installed in his titular church, the Basilica di Santa Prassede in Rome, Italy where it can still be found.

During the Middle Ages, there reportedly existed such devotion to the Column of Flagellation that the Vatican established the Feast of the Holy Pillar. This feast used to be held on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Ex Fune Domini Nostri Jesu Christi

This relic with intact seal consists of short, thick strands from one of the ropes with which Christ was tied to the Column of the Flagellation (Ex Fune). It too came from Italy and its original provenance was from the Patriarchs of Jerusalem.

De Purpurae Domini Nostri Jesu Christi

The above relic in modern theca is a small piece of the Purple Robe that Christ had been forced to wear on His shoulders during the Crowning with Thorns. This relic was originally part of a somewhat larger piece of the Robe in the possession of a Catholic priest, who opened up his own reliquary to give me a part of it. The theca bears the seal of the Augustinians.

Few pieces of the Robe are known to have remained to this day. One of these pieces can be found at the Catedral Primada Santa Maria de Toledo in Spain. Another piece can be found at Saint Anthony's Chapel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

De Sindone Domini Nostri Jesu Christi

The priest also gave me this in the same manner. It too bears the seal of the Augustinians. The relic consists of two short strands from the Holy Shroud of Jesus Christ (the Shroud of Turin; De Sindone), in which Saint Joseph of Arimathea had wrapped His Body for burial in the Holy Sepulchre.

The Shroud was originally kept by the Byzantine emperors after having received it from the Patriarchs of Jerusalem, but it disappeared during the sack of Constantinople. In 1453, the Shroud was given to the House of Savoy and translated to Torino, Italy, in 1578 after a few intermediate placements. It was donated to the Holy See by the House of Savoy in 1983. A limited number of Shroud relics used to be given to bishops when the glass case in which it was kept, was opened for examination. The Shroud can now be found in the Cappella della Sacra Sindone at the Duomo di Torino - Cattedrale di San Giovanni Battista in Turin, Italy.

© Marcelle Bartolo-Abela, aka the Bald Eagle.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


ADDED THOUGHT: This is a perfect example of the "Mad Virtues of Pope Francis" (see below). He so often takes a Christian truth and just goes nuts with it, while diluting others. Christian Joy is a real thing. Bear is not arguing with that. But so is Christian tribulation, ordinary sadness, and clinical depression. Bear would say Francis can only see black and white, but Pope Francis has based his whole pontificate on shades of gray - how many, Bear does not know. Yet there are certain hobbyhorses in which he flashes blinding ignorance.

Granted, it calls upon normal, real, "happy Catholics" to invite "un-Christian sad Catholics" back to the Church so they can be happy, but hey, it's better than we've see so far. If Protestants can have their "Prosperity Gospel," Bear will give Francis a "Happiness Gospel." It's a start, if a superficial one.

But for the record, sometimes people are sad, and sometimes people are even depressed. These are not unusual or "un-Christian." The Bible is full of people who were not always overflowing with joy, and more than one prophet begged God to put him out of his misery. Being Catholic is not an exemption from normal human emotional states, or even abnormal ones, and there are many people who do not need to hear such nonsense.

But compared to this, it's like he's morphed into Pope St. Pius X overnight.

Perhaps everyone should be taking Adapt. Ask your doctor if Adapt is right for you. (Disclaimer: Bear is paid spokesanimal for Hermes Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Adapt.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Mad Virtues of Pope Francis

[This is a reprint of a post from over a year ago that has resurfaced in the readership stats. So the Bear has decided to run it again, especially since it meshes well with the previous post on Realism which has proved very popular.] 

Pope Francis: Finally, a Smiling Face to the Horror

For decades we have had to sit and watch helplessly as the Church was consumed by preventable scandal and ceaseless innovation. The enemy was hard to get a fix on. He seemed to be everywhere and nowhere, and his name was Legion. But it was clear that somehow the schwerpunkt of the Church Militant had without question drifted far from the original plan.

In Pope Francis, we have seen, for the first time, the incarnation of the Church's errors and abuses. God has driven into plain view the secret corruption, the pride posing as humility, the indifferentism posing as tolerance, the disregard for the Deposit of the Faith, and the "rebranding" of Catholicism and the papacy that Fr. Rosica is so proud of. In Pope Francis we finally have someone to speak out against, and thereby indict the whole sorry lot of meddlers, swindlers, and sappers: in short, all those who loathe the Church they are supposed to lead.

In other words, we are reacting not only to what Pope Francis personally says and does, but to Pope Francis the Avatar of a different spirit -- the "spirit" of Vatican II, the spirit of the "media council," and, fundamentally, the spirit of the Prince of this world.

One might say we are seeing the beginning of the end of a plot. To simplify, it began with throwing open to the world the windows of the Church. It is ending by tearing down the walls of the Church.

Boundary Issues

But the Church needs walls. It needs to be separate from the world. Distinct from other religions. The Church should be a fortress from which Catholics sally forth into the world, but not as part of the world, not as worldlings fighting trendy secular battles. Everybody should be able to say with confidence, "here is the Church," and "there begins the world." There are Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, but here is Catholicism. Here is the truth, and there is something else, and we do no favors by pretending otherwise.

That sounds so harsh! Intolerant! Real! We would rather live in our fantasy world where if we're just nice enough, everyone will love us. (To be fair, this does seem to be working out for Pope Francis.) It would be easy to twist the  the Bear's meaning. He is not advocating hiding behind the walls of the Church while the world goes to Hell. We should engage the world, but with evangelism, not indifferentism; charity, not socialism; truth, not accommodation of error.

We should all be Catholic as if it mattered. Especially the Pope.

Of course, the Franciscan Church has a horror of walls or division of any kind. The supernatural must be tolerated for the sake of the masses, but for the initiates, purple, red and white, "There'll Be Pie In the Sky When You Die" remains the favorite hymn. A sarcastic number right out of the Little Red Songbook. The religion of the Franciscan Church, much like Freemasonry, is The Brotherhood of Man. It is remarkable, but true: you could strip it of every specifically Christian element, and the world would not be able to tell any difference.

This is no accident. Religious differences must be downplayed in pursuit of the 8th Sacrament of the Franciscan Church: the Holy Photo-Op. And, of course, the aforementioned Brotherhood of Man.

The funny thing is, no one in the Franciscan Church would deny that they are tearing down walls and erasing boundaries. They might deny celebrating error, but only because they don't recognize error. The Pope can travel to Sweden this Halloween to commemorate "the blessings" of Martin Luther's reformation because we're all Lutherans now. In other words, what the Bear laments, the Franciscan Church is most proud of. "Rebranding" indeed. A crass and ignorant word to cover a multitude of sins.

The Mad Virtues of Pope Francis

We would do well to remember what Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy. It is almost as if he foresaw Pope Francis. In his day, it was Christianity in general that had been shattered. In ours it is particularly the Catholic Church, but the same warnings apply. No mad virtue is as mad as a Catholic virtue, as we have seen in history.

The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.

Pope Francis is, as far as the Bear can see, more virtuous than the Bear. He is also more mad, if the Bear knows anything about madmen. No virtue may remain merely good with Francis. It must become a mania, a delusion, another shiny object to be incorporated into the narcissistic personality of Francis the Humble, Francis the Tolerant, Francis the Compassionate. Of course, what the Bear calls "madness" becomes "rebranding," or "transcending his own religion."

A Spontaneous Resistance

We who have retained a Catholic identity have universally resisted Jorge Bergoglio. We didn't ask for this. We didn't organize it. It just happened. We found ourselves being appalled by the same things, connecting the same dots, reaching the same conclusions. We speak with one voice from the same vision, without collaboration. The very people who would normally be the Pope's most fervent supporters have become his harshest critics.

Bergoglioism and Catholicism cannot both be right. (The Bear thinks the collection of pathologies motivating Pope Francis deserves the honor of its own name.) The Bear is not going to repeat the indictment here. It is contained in the archives of this ephemeris, and of many others. It is literally becoming difficult to keep up with Francis the Talking Pope. Perhaps the plan is to beat us through attrition, the way he buried the message of Amoris Laetitia in 247 pages that defy all but the most clever and mind-numbing analysis.

If Pope Francis is indeed all we fear he is, there's not much we can do. By and large, people travel with the herd, and try to think the thoughts the world tells them are right. That worked great when a confident Church put the stamp of the Christ on the culture. It was not so long ago that the joke ran: "Hollywood -- a place where Jews make movies selling Catholic theology to Protestants." Not anymore.

The Most Popular Man in the World

Why not just back a winner? The latest poll shows Pope Francis with a popularity rating of 54%, 85% among Catholics, and -- tellingly -- over 50% among agnostics and atheists. "Francis is a leader who transcends his own religion," said Jean Marc Leger, president of WIN/Gallup International. He's the most popular public figure in the world, and has replaced the Dalai Lama as Generic Spiritual Leader. Only Turkey, Tunisia and Algeria don't like him.

Perhaps, any day now, Pope Francis is going to cash in all that full-spectrum popularity to tell the world about Jesus. More likely not. After all, what does "transcend his own religion" mean? What does "rebranding Catholicism and the papacy" mean? Are these words not chilling to any normal Catholic? Do not the pages of old prophecies begin to rustle out of the dust? Whether you want to go there or not, it makes no difference. Prophecies warn about dangers to come. We didn't listen, and now Nebuchadnezzar is in the sanctuary.

From comments out of Catholic officialdom, we know we are heard at the highest levels. Our message is getting through. We speak out, and others take comfort. We try to preserve the truth and condemn error not because we are holy, but because nobody else will do it. Looking over the last three years, we have done a surprisingly good job, in the Bear's opinion. That's how we operate. Independent francs-tieurs. Partisans. The resistance.

This is not to glamorize anyone. Partisans don't always have pure motives, and sometimes go beyond what is reasonably necessary. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we're amateurs. Perhaps our sins will be applied to those who have made the resistance necessary in the first place. We take real risks. One blogger got himself sued by a priest -- papal PR flack Fr. Rosica. But more seriously, we also take spiritual risks.

Ephemerists need your prayers. For prudence, temperance, fortitude, and charity.


Pope Francis uses the entire spectrum of media to spread his errors. If there's a single problem with the man, it's that he lacks a supernatural dimension. Perhaps he suffers from a cultural resentment and envy coming from his background. He cannot think in proper categories. For example, he recently made the bizarre comment that he sees the evangelization of Europe as "colonialism," Worse, from the same interview, he cannot differentiate between Jesus sending forth his disciples to the nations and the blood conquests of ISIS. Mad virtues indeed.

Can madness from a pope really go unanswered? There is hardly a peep from the bishops. Surely all of them are not deaf or in agreement. It would take a lot of courage for a bishop to criticize a sitting pope. The Bear may not be qualified, but at least he's willing to put on his hat, take up his shovel, and start trying to put out some of the brush fires Pope Francis sets.

There is a place for dry and sober analysis. But the internet has its own idiom. The legitimate weapons we place at the service of the Church include agitprop, and sometimes a dash of snark and a dollop of satire, so people will enjoy reading what the Bear writes. (Besides, Bears have a hard time being serious for longer than ten minutes.)

Is it sinful to criticize the Pope? That is not a question the Bear is going to answer for anyone else.  It is an important one to him, because, after all, he still has to go to confession like everyone else. We should not perform an evil act so that we may obtain a good result. But the laity has a legitimate say in the Church. The Bear is performing a lawful act by informing, educating, and commenting about this man who has effortlessly twisted the Church according to his own personal hobbyhorses.

In a nutshell, together, we are staying with the "old brand" of Catholicism, before Pope Francis "rebranded" Catholicism and the papacy, and "transcended his own religion." So what if most people say they like Pope Francis? Since when was the truth found in poll numbers? The Bear has noticed that most of the people who like Pope Francis seem to be unfamiliar with his actions, unable to articulate what he has done to earn their approval, or progressive Church dissidents.

If the Pope and his public business are portrayed in an unflattering light, that is an unavoidable consequence, even as it is not the real objective.  Few are criticizing the Pope for the sake of criticizing the Pope. Even the Bear, who may take an unholy glee in what he does isn't playing.

The Sin of Silence

But there is also the sin of "adulation." Nobody ever talks about it, so here it is, right from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Every word or attitude is forbidden which by flattery, adulation, or complaisance encourages and confirms another in malicious acts and perverse conduct. Adulation is a grave fault if it makes one an accomplice in another's vices or grave sins. Neither the desire to be of service nor friendship justifies duplicitous speech. Adulation is a venial sin when it only seeks to be agreeable, to avoid evil, to meet a need, or to obtain legitimate advantages.

CCC 2480.

Funny, the Bear has never heard Fr. Rosica say, "Patheos bloggers are a bunch of sycophantic losers with a pathological need for approval and an aversion to sound doctrine. We must pray for these disturbed, broken and angry people."

Of course, Fr. Rosica's job might be to commit the sin of adulation continuously, but the Bear does not know the man's heart, or how much culpability might be reduced by mental issues, or secret struggles. One must wonder about someone who brags about "rebranding" Catholicism, though.

Rugiemus Quasi Ursi Omnes

When they gave us a Protestantized Mass, we were silent. When they smashed the altar rails, we were silent. When the nuns started dressing in mufti, we were silent. When the bishops cared more about gun control than souls, we were silent. When the mania for interfaith and ecumenism started, we were silent. And when we were told to sing hymns by Martin Luther, we sang.

One thing is for certain. We will never be silent again. We are guardians of something. The Bear does not want to label it, because it does not belong to this faction or that. But he thinks his readers know what he's talking about. We encourage one another -- and it is just as much readers encouraging ephemerists as the other way around. Pope Francis and his minions are learning that whatever they do in public will be challenged by some very smart and talented people. (And also, the Bear.) It obviously bothers them.

And the Bear says ultramontanism is solemn nonsense.

Catholics Be Like + Happy 4th

Calling someone SAFE when they are clearly OUT. So God is like Don Denkinger, and no matter if we get to the base before or after the ball is in the first baseman's glove, we're all safe anyway? So Pope Francis is incompetent to make important calls in the biggest game of all?


Google honors Woodland Creatures for 4th of July!


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Realistic Bear Wonders if You Can Handle the Truth

Bear fantasy. Mmm, yes, more honey-basted salmon, please.

The  Bear wishes many things were so.

That he could live a healthy existence eating only Gummi Bears.

That honey was produced by sunlight shining on any flat surface.

That the St. Louis Cardinals would forever be the '83 team with Whitey Herzog managing.

That the Bear had the nuclear launch codes. (He probably wouldn't use them, of course. But, then, he wouldn't have to, would he?)

That snake-handling cults in Appalachia did not preserve more of the Christian Faith than modern Catholic churchmen.

That Pope Francis thought Lamentibili Sane had some good ideas but did not go far enough.

That what he is going to say won't make a lot of people mad.

Healthy Realism

However, as a wild creature living in woodlands red in tooth and claw, the Bear knows wishing does not make things so - only the wisher someone's supper. All beasts are realists. We laugh at human beings for getting things as basic as mating wrong. Worrying that their campfires will boil the seas and pretending other humans will not happily kill them and take their stuff if they're not pretty damned smart about it.

Nothing is realer than a .270 Winchester round zinging past your furry ear. Welcome to Bear's world.

As a realist, the Bear knows none of his wishes will come true. He knows there are many problems without solutions. As for the West and all its institutions - including the Church - it is circling, circling the great black drain of history and there is nothing even a Bear can do about it. It truly is a New Age, whether we like it or not. "Optimism is cowardice," as old Oswald Spengler said.

Most of all, the Bear has begun to laugh at humans who believe if only Cardinal Bumfrecker of Brandenburg would stand up to the Pope we would all be magically transported to a state of Tridentine bliss. If only this... if only that... The only problem is it is never going to happen.

None of your brilliant human solutions are going to happen.

Let the Bear be the first to welcome you to reality. Keep your head down, listen to your nose and maybe you'll survive. If you try to turn the woodlands into the Harmony Kumbaya Theme Park, the Bear won't stop you. He will pop some popcorn, settle down and watch your grisly demise at the hands of the reality you decided to ignore. The universe does not tolerate fantasy for long. The West has yet to realize this. But got your popcorn ready to pop?

That part of the West known as the Catholic Church is not exempt from reality's teeth.

Signs and Symptoms of the Fatal Disease

If the Bear may apply O'Sullivan's Law to the Church, since the Church is not explicitly an institution of the Right, it will eventually become an institution of the Left. One may safely say "has become" based on a reading of all the pages on the USCCB website. It did not start with Francis. He is what doctors call a "sign," while what we are experiencing are the "symptoms." A sign is what the doctor observes; a symptom is what the patient feels.

Francis is the sign of an advanced case of the horrible disease cursus ad sinistram. There is no cure. Only a miracle can save the patient. Feeling angry, lost, frustrated, and compulsively reading fringe Catholic blogs like this one are all symptoms.

The Bear does not offer a cure, and is not going to tell you happy (or angry) little lies to make you feel better. He does not have the answer. He suspects there is no answer. The Bear has always been the forensic pathologist reporting his autopsy findings, not the doctor with the prescription pad.

Now, like St. Paul, everyone must find their own  plank to hang onto after this colossal shipwreck. Who is the Bear to say your piece of flotsam is worse than his? Catholics have not been prepared for this. The Bear suspects God may be tolerant of the ways his faithful try to please Him in the current crisis, but he can't make any promises.

And once you get to land you'll probably get bitten by a viper anyway. The Bear does not think we can think or wish ourselves to a solution.

The Answer- But it Doesn't Matter

First, understand that it is not "despair" to accept reality. The Bear is feeling quite chipper these days. He has no influence in the Church, and, contrary to the claim of some Catholics, he bears no responsibility for the disaster. Good news: neither do you. He does not believe for a minute that God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, has chosen to have the Church lie to us in order to punish us for our sins.

That is not God's style. Personally, the Bear is waiting for an asteroid to hit Rome, or everyone in the Vatican to be dragged off to Babylon. (Good luck getting your interfaith Pope Videos aired if that happens.)

Pope Francis affects the Bear only to the extent the Bear takes him seriously. The Pope has worked very hard to earn the Bear's low opinion of him and it would be rude not to notice. Accepting that he is powerless has been liberating to the Bear.

The Bear said there is no answer, but, now that he thinks about it, that's not right. There is a very simple answer.

There is nothing stopping churchmen from fixing everything tomorrow if only they would stop conforming themselves to the world, live holy lives (yeah, that), reject modernism and learn some real humility.

The Church is failing in the same way and at the same time as every other Western institution. It has not been singled out for chastisement. One should not look for supernatural causes when it is obvious that fallen human nature has succumbed to the spirit of our age, one that is the worst the Bear has seen in 800 years.

We know that churchman will not do any of those things. We know that the slide to the wordly Left now defines the institution and has too much momentum to stop.

God Has Probably Noticed the Problems in the Church

But, so what? Is God no longer in control? If we are witnessing the destruction of the Catholic Church as we have known it - and we are - do we imagine God  has not noticed and might have something in mind? Unlike many, the Bear professes no clue what that is, but, then, the Bear is not sure what tomorrow will bring in his own little life, either.

He expects things will get very exciting and the Church will get a whole lot smaller.

The Bear does think that there might be some pride in all the electrons spilled across the internet telling us what the Church needs. Perhaps we have reached the point where we should find the humility to accept God's will and worship him the best we can in peace and real love for those within the tiny circle of our responsibility. Worrying about things over which we have no control is not healthy.

It's not so much about fixing anything anymore. It's about choosing your side and being ready for whatever God has planned. If you are reading this, you are probably on the right side, if the Bear may say that without sounding more full of himself than usual. But the same might be said about any number of Catholic blogs. It doesn't take much to realize these things. 'Staying put' is neither brilliant nor heroic. (It would be heroic for someone with a career to lose, like a cardinal; Bear guesses heroism is in short supply these days.)

Bear Holds These Truths to be Self-Evident

Here is an example of how the Bear knows Francis is a humbug peddling holy snake oil to the wicked and gullible.

If we love as the world loves - issuing press releases about groups of people - we have missed everything there is to learn about love. The Bear cannot love the climate, cannot love "migrants," or "other faiths," or "all people."

As a practical matter, the Bear can be well-disposed toward those around him, kind, helpful, and ready to be the Good Samaritan if he comes across a victim by the side of the road.

It is not about passing the victim by and calling a news conference to preen the feathers of our virtue by addressing the issue of robbery victims, especially the poor, migrants and LGBT. And to condemn the sword-manufacturing industry.

Lucky for us, God has not made it hard to see Francis - and by extension, his Church - for what it has become. We instinctively recoil at an alien spirit. We hear a voice we do not recognize. We plant our feet, paws, and hooves and stay put among the familiar truths.

Traddie Town is Tiny

The Bear knows a lot of people hate this kind of "defeatist" talk that does not offer The Correct Solution. We should fight! But fight who? How? What is our realistic path to victory, and how do we define that? The Bear fears some who limit their reading to traditionalist blogs may have an inflated sense of how large a part tradition plays in the life of the Church and its future.

The Bear does not read Ann Barnhardt (he doesn't read any other blogs regularly - he wants to keep his Bearish perspective pure). But he read somewhere that she recently said something to the effect that "traddie town is tiny." The Bear will not make any friends by agreeing, but he does, because it's true. The Bear is lucky. He has nothing to lose by telling the truth.

The Bear does not label himself, but if people want to call him a traddie, that's as fair as any label. He is really just someone who resents churchman who think he is too stupid to notice they are selling a completely new religion under the "Catholic" brand. Traddies, or whatever they feel comfortable being called, will always be a zealous, valuable (and, yes, sometimes angry-sounding) part of Catholicism. And thank God.

But they are not the face of the future.

Some Advice From the Bear - Signs of the Time & Trusting God

Pope Francis is of the world, and the world loves him, and as the world goes, so goes the Church. Holy Matrimony's goose is cooked. The inerrancy of scripture and even the truthfulness of Our Lord are therefore negotiable under the new ad hoc theology of adultery. Our practices and beliefs surrounding Holy Communion must change. Some sort of official acceptance of homosexual unions is inevitable. Churchmen are already hard-pressed to say why anyone should want to be Catholic rather than Lutheran, were they inclined to make the pitch.

Can you read the signs of the time? The Bear has seen the future and it is the scary-looking man with the blobifix advancing a New Gnosticism as the banner of Universalism snaps in a foul wind.

Oh well.

If God wanted the Bear to be the one to fix everything, He would have made him Pope. All poor old Bear can do is ride his bicycle around the ring and at least provide some entertainment as the theater burns down and, by the way, there are no exits. Maybe we'll all become salamanders and the fire will light our way to the City of God in a very unexpected way. Bear doesn't know. God does. He will surprise us. See the Bear juggle flaming bowling balls now?

In the meanwhile, here's something everyone knows, but now makes more sense than ever.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

And the wisdom to know the difference between the truth and whatever Pope Francis and his merry band are peddling. The Bear last saw him heading into the desert with a bunch of goats following him. Weird, huh? But the sacred woodlands are just the same, the salmon stream is just as pure (although the salmon swimmeth no more therein) and the grass just as sweet. (Or so Bear has been told about the grass.)

He can certainly vouch for the Gummi Bears. Life is good. Keep the Faith. Worship your God. Read your Bible. Forget "causes" except for the cause of  Christ. Love those close enough to reach out and help to their feet with your own hands. There is a big wonderful real world beyond this screen.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Cross of Christ

The Holy Face

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world.


What is this?

A couple of not-too-worn metal plates from the garage shop down the road, cobbled together for free or little money, then stuck over each other, up and down, trying to pass along for hands, arms, legs - what? Who is the master artist that came up with this brilliant idea? Who invented this particular definition of sacred and liturgical art?

Bald Eagle wants to know. And, let us be clear, she is not blaming Pope Francis. Maybe he has poor taste or poor eyesight or both. Perhaps it was foisted on him at the last moment with nice smiles all around and he felt incapable of rejecting it. We do not know.

But the artist and the 'consultants'? Bald Eagle would very much like to engage her talons with deep, surgical precision in that regard.

And what's with the wood chosen? Did that perchance originate from Ikea's bargain basement?

Now, compare that cross to this:

The Agonizing Crucifix of the Precious Blood

It is well-known that the wood for the Cross of Christ was taken from timber that had floated to the surface of the pool in Bethesda (cf. Jn 5:1-9), near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem. This timber had reportedly originated from three trees - one of cedar, one of cypress, one of pine - that had sprouted centuries before, at the time of Adam's death, but were united together in a single trunk (Geraldine Rohling, Ph.D.; Behold the Wood). It was from these trees and this trunk that Moses had reportedly cut his rod and underneath which David had composed most of his Psalms. Solomon used the wood from these trees in the construction of the Temple, then cut down all the rest and buried them where the pool was later dug.

Do we, therefore, want that thing depicted in the extreme left photograph above to be our new standard for the Cross - iconoclasm at its most stunning - when Christ Himself wants to be known, seen, and loved?

Ne Evacuetur Crux!

Ex Ligno Vera Crucis
Domini Nostri Jesu Christi

Here for your edification and compensation for the cross of Pope Francis, ladies and gentlemen, are two short and thick pieces of the True Cross of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in a sealed brass reliquary. This precious relic comes with official documentation of its authenticity from Archbishop Paul Karatas of the Chaldean Catholic Archeparchy of Diyarbakir, Turkey. His coat of arms is also on the intact seal inside the reliquary. This very precious relic was given to me by an Orthodox monk in Southern Bulgaria.

Detail of the True Cross

The Cross upon which Christ had been crucified and died was found on September 14, 326 by the Empress-Saint Helena, mother of Constantine, and authenticated by miracles. Hence the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Part of the True Cross was enclosed in a silver reliquary and given to the Patriarch of Jerusalem for public veneration. Other parts were translated to Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) and widely distributed. 

A large portion of the Cross can be found in the Greek Treasury at the foot of Mount Golgotha in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre - Church of the Resurrection, Jerusalem. Other sizeable portions can be found at the Basilica della Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome, Italy; at the Koutloumousiou Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece; and at the Gishen Maryam Monastery in the Wollo region of Ethiopia. Fragments of the True Cross can also be found in several churches and private collections around the world.

Official Documentation of the Relic

Veneration of the Holy Cross

Here are a few photographs of the public veneration of the Relic last year at Santa Venera Catholic Church in Malta:

On the altar before Mass

Public veneration of the Relic

The pastor is holding the Relic

The Relic has visited a few Catholic and Protestant households in the greater Houston and greater San Antonio areas of Texas last year for private veneration. It also paid a private visit to the Indian administrator of Saint Andrew's Catholic Church in Lytle, Texas. This year the Relic has paid a relatively lengthy visit to a Catholic charismatic household in Malta for private veneration.

© Marcelle Bartolo-Abela, aka the Bald Eagle.

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