Saturday, June 17, 2017

Patriarchy: The Father Figure as He Should Be




The figure of the father is under attack these days. To those who insist upon total equality, he is seen as an overbearing figure who has long abused his power. Like all symbols of authority, he must be overthrown.
It is curious that whenever feminists wish to attack the father, somewhere in their long tirades, there will appear the word “patriarchy.” The mention of this word is not by chance. It echoes the core of the feminist creed.

Ironically, those who are accused of defending patriarchy are usually members of nuclear families, not patriarchal ones. Many indeed are not even members of extended families. They do not have a notion of what patriarchy means and how it functions. And thus they are not in conditions to defend themselves against the feminist rage.

Embracing Patriarchy

Those who defend the family have no cause to fear the term and every reason to embrace it. When stripped of its non-Christian forms and feminist caricatures, patriarchy becomes a refreshing idea. Even today, the image of an ancient patriarch evokes sentiments of veneration and respect.
However, there is a reason why feminists attack patriarchy so violently: It represents the plenitude of fatherhood. It is the father figure as he should be. Such a vision is part of the natural hierarchical society that feminism rejects.

Understanding Patriarchy

The key to understanding patriarchy lies in the long forgotten idea of the traditional family. The Catholic Church has long taught that the family is not a single social unit existing in the present without connection to the past or future. Rather, the family is a rich and continuous whole that encompasses all those who have come before and will come after. Thus, each family becomes a vast network of interwoven relationships and is part of the social fabric.
Patriarchy is a natural consequence of the traditional family. It holds that since this vast social unit exists, there should be an authority that maintains its unity. This authority is usually the patriarch.
The influence of the patriarch extends beyond his immediate household and encompasses several generations. It might include several branches of the family, even an entire clan.
The patriarch does not exercise an arbitrary or tyrannical authority. Indeed, he exerts a unifying leadership over the whole that is expressed more often by influence than by command. He guides with great care and subtlety the interrelationships between so many people who are alike in so many ways but who are also so very different.

The Patriarch as Harmonizer

Thus one of the most important roles of the patriarch is to be a harmonizer. He maintains the family line in harmony with its past and future. He must strike a delicate balance between those in the family who guarantee necessary continuity and those who energetically introduce healthy innovation.
The patriarch is a true leader of the family. He has a special gift to discern and coordinate the general direction of those under him. He seldom imposes his will upon the others, but rather sets the tone and the example. He unifies and brings out the best in others.
What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?
That is why traditionally the patriarch is portrayed as one who ponders things. He is judicious and weighs matters with criteria and acumen. He applies the family’s treasure-trove of wisdom which is preserved, enriched, and passed on from one generation to the next.

Source of Progress and Culture

It is easy to see that when society is filled with patriarchal figures on all social levels, it creates the ideal conditions for the true progress of a culture. The patriarch is what sociologists call a representative character who moves his family members toward goals of perfection in line with the family’s qualities and talents. When imbued with Catholic virtue, the patriarch moves his family members to the highest of all goals: their sanctification.
Such figures are sadly missing in today’s crumbling society. Individuals each go their way. There are no harmonizers or coordinators that unify families and direct their progress.
When attacked for being patriarchal, fathers today should embrace the idea. The patriarch only does on a larger scale that which the father is called to do within his family.
What Does Saint Thomas Say About Marriage?
There is nothing wrong with building a family thinking of the long term. There is nothing wrong with desiring unity and direction for those under one’s care. Rather than an undesirable condition to be avoided, patriarchy is an idea whose restoration time has come.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Is It Immodest to Wear Deliberately Ripped Clothes?

Written by John Horvat II
Perhaps one of the more sensitive personal issues you can raise with people is that of dress. How you dress has become a purely personal affair. Most are left to their own opinion as to what is appropriate.
There are, of course, some limits. Most Catholics will admit in theory that there is something that might be labeled “immoral or immodest dress.” These are clothes (or the lack thereof) that cover the body insufficiently and therefore are not morally or socially acceptable.
However, outside this extreme, most people seem to think they can wear anything, anywhere and at any time without any consequences. Clothes don’t have to be clean anymore. People can wear clothes that are deliberately ripped, stained and full of holes without fear of rejection. Clothes don’t even have to be clothes anymore. They can be shredded rags, the dingier the better.
Making Clothes Look Distressed
Such tattered garments are called “distressed” clothes (rightfully so), and they are becoming increasingly fashionable. It’s not just amateurs haphazardly ripping up faded jeans or retailers making random tears anymore. It is going mainstream.
The world of high fashion has now embraced “distressed” clothing as chic. Fashion designers are using new technology and hiring special effects technicians to get that natural moth-eaten, threadbare look that makes it seem like you’ve been wearing the garment for twenty years. Specialists are using blow torches, air guns, lasers and sanding machines to deliver loose threads, faded fabric and gaping holes. Nordstrom has just retailed a $425 pair of jeans with a caked-mud look.
Wearing ripped clothes has become a fashion statement that supposedly says a person is carefree, uninhibited and self-sufficient. Ironically, such “independent” people are flocking to the fashion in a rush to look just like everyone else. Moreover, those who buy ripped-up clothing are likely getting ripped off. The tattered name-brand clothes often outsell new unripped ones and come with a much heftier price tag.
Beyond the Obvious
The world is mad. Can’t anyone say it?
You should not have to explain why you don’t wear ripped clothes. This is something your mother should have taught you at an early age. She would sew up your tears the minute she saw them. If she found a hole in a purchase, she would make you take back such clothes to the store for a refund.
Times have sadly changed, and so have some mothers. A lot of fashion conscious moms can now be found in shredded shorts and custom-holed t-shirts.
Maybe a review of the basics will help make it clear why it is wrong. As politically incorrect as it might sound, it needs to be said that ripped garments are not modest clothing and should not be worn.
Not Clothing
Perhaps the first place to start is by affirming that a ripped garment is not modest clothing because it is not real clothing. This claim is guaranteed to raise a firestorm, but from a purely metaphysical perspective, it must be admitted that such garments fail to fulfill their purpose.
Most people would object that it is still clothing, but just a different kind that is more comfortable and thus makes people happier. People should do that which makes them happiest. Therefore they should wear ripped clothes so as not to worry about their appearance or condition. It is all about comfort.
While clothing should be comfortable, the purpose of clothing is not comfort but protection. Clothing exists to protect and adorn the body and modesty of the person. To claim that comfort is the purpose of clothing is like saying tastiness, not nutrition, is the purpose of food. It is like saying relaxation, not rejuvenation, is the purpose of sleep.
Working Against Clothing’s Purpose
Thus, when a fashion designer carefully crafts a garment with a hole in a place where it would naturally appear through wear, he is making clothes that deliberately expose to risk the places which need the most protection. When that same designer put holes in sexually suggestive places, he is once again working against clothing’s purpose of shielding modesty.
Deliberately ripped garments work against the purpose of clothes. They are caricatures of what clothing should be. Far from adorning the body, the process of ripping turns that which should be strong, beautiful and orderly into something weak, ugly and frayed. Tattered attire is disordered and therefore should not be worn.
Lost Notion of Modesty
The second reason why ripped clothing should not be worn is that it is immodest.
Again such a claim raises hackles. Most people would object that as long as tattered clothes stay outside the extreme point of undress that is considered morally and socially unacceptable, you cannot say that it is immodest.
And here is the crux of the problem. People have completely lost the notion of what modesty is and how it is manifested. People lack even a catechism definition of this virtue.
People confuse modesty with chastity and thus only associate it with sensuality. Modesty does play a major role in preserving chastity, but it is much more than that. It is often mistakenly associated only with female attire, but it also applies to men.
The Dignity of the Individual
Modesty is the virtue that safeguards the dignity of a person in association with others. It benefits both the individual and society because it governs the exterior appearance and behavior of the person and thus helps make society civil and harmonious.
Beyond dress, modesty is concerned with the manner of speech, posture, gestures, and general presentation of the person. Modesty calls upon people to behave well with others and conform to standards of decency and decorum found in the healthy customs of an ordered society.
When you present yourself properly to others, you are modest. When you control yourself in your external actions and manners in society, you are modest. When you act erratically and speak in a manner that offends and disregards others, you are immodest.
Negligence in Attire
In matters of Catholic dress, this means holding to all that is proper to a soul that is a temple of the Holy Spirit. That is to say, you dress in a manner that is ordered, dignified and reasonable to who you are. Adults dress like adults; children dress like children. Authorities dress in accord with their office.
It also means you should not dress carelessly. Saint Thomas Aquinas states that you are immodest when you are unduly negligent in your appearance and fail to present yourself according to your state in life. You are also immodest when you seek to attract attention to yourself by showing a lack of concern for presenting oneself well (Summa, II-II, q. 169, a. 1).
Immoral and revealing clothing is of course immodest. However, improper, soiled and ripped unisex clothing is also immodest. It is not proper to the dignity of a person made in the image and likeness of God. When Our Lady spoke out against immodest fashions at Fatima, she was referring to this kind of immodesty as well.
Fighting Immodesty
Modesty used to be determined by established notions of decorum and decency that varied from culture to culture. The problem today is that there are few standards of decency left. Indeed, indecency has become the standard.
In an everything-goes society consumed with the frenetic intemperance of modern life, you are told you must have everything now, instantly and effortlessly, regardless of the consequences. You are encouraged to act immodestly in manners, speech and dress. Is it any wonder society is so uncivil these days? Is it surprising that there is so much talk of the lack of human dignity?
Given the lack of standards, it is hard to know where to begin the return to order. One way to start is by unmasking the myth of mass markets that pressure you to act immodestly. The acceptance of “distressed” clothes everywhere is not an expression of individuality but submission. By accepting them, you become a slave of fashion, not an independent thinker.
If you want to stand out as an individual today, dress properly and modestly. If you are not sure what constitutes modesty in these times, at least avoid all that is not. A very good start is to resist the distressing tattered attire fad.



Is It Immodest to Wear Deliberately Ripped Clothes? - Crisis Magazine:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Why This Little Book on Humility Is So Great - Humility of Heart





Book marketing consists of finding the target audience of those who are looking for the subjects discussed inside a given book. Often this involves narrowing down the field so that the maximum amount of effort and resources can be applied to the targeted group interested in the subject. It is all part of Book Marketing 101.
The book Humility of Heart by Fr. Gaetano Maria de Bergamo, is a privileged book from this marketing perspective. This treatise on humility appeals to a broad audience. The humble know themselves well and thus will always see in this book excellent advice on how to avoid the dangers of falling into sin through pride. Those who say they do not need this book show themselves proud and thus would profit from its message of how to be humble. Thus, the target audience of this book is all humanity. No one escapes.
The marketability is further enhanced by the timelessness of the message. Indeed, the author is an eighteenth century Capuchin friar. Its message addresses the problem of man’s unchanging fallen nature. There is no period in human history when its message has not or will not resonate. Moreover, the theme of humility especially applies to present times that are plagued by insupportable pride and defiant independence from God.
In reproducing Herbert Cardinal Vaughan’s excellent translation of this spiritual classic, editor Michael Augustine Church has rendered a great service to Catholics everywhere. Reprinted in 2015, his painstaking review of the text includes a new index and updated reference materials. In addition, Mr. Church found 59 pages of the original text that have never been translated into English.
Not a Bestseller
Despite the ideal positioning of the book in the market, there is no possibility that it will become a runaway bestseller. While there is a universal need for the book’s message, there is also a general aversion for the topic. People know they should be interested in humility, but they reject its bitter medicine. The market that seems so promising is reduced to very few.
The problem is fallen human nature and its attraction to sin and disordered passions. Among those passions is pride whereby sinners appropriate that which is not theirs, imagining themselves to be greater than what they are. From pride springs a multitude of vices.
Upon entering into the book, the reader soon solves the mystery of why the book is not a bestseller. The cold hard look at human nature is painful. Fr. de Bergamo spares no words in describing corrupt human nature and its terrible pride that knows no limit.
Such a characterization of pride should be enough to seal the fate of this book forever. Humility of Heart is a resounding rebuke that is not often heard. In these times of frenetic intemperance, there could be nothing more anti-modern than this treatise that calls for truth, detachment and restraint.
A Drop of Honey
However, there is something intriguing about the book that attracts and beckons. One finds a sweetness that permeates its words and shows how the Church is a mother to all. There is a tenderness in treating the wounds of self-love that demonstrates all the skills of a gifted doctor. One finds in its counsels the wisdom of the Church in dealing with souls that leaves one at peace with God.
Even its format considers human frailty. The book is not made to be read in one sitting but rather is divided into one hundred short thoughts and sentiments that can be used for daily meditations. The bitter medicine is thus taken a spoonful at a time often with a drop of honey.
What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?
One is further impressed by the logic of the arguments that call one to action. The simple reasoning is compelling and soothing like a balm that calms the soul and leads one to think of heavenly things. Far from being a stinging reproach, it becomes a discreet voice that penetrates deeply into the soul. Everything points to the Divine Model of Christ who is to be imitated in His humility.
A Retreat in a Book
But Fr. de Bergamo is not content to leave the reader with beautiful thoughts and sentiments. In his solicitude for sinners, he wants to see them healed. The second part of the book consists of a series of examinations of conscience on the virtue of humility. The thoughts are thus turned into action. The strong sentiments are forged into resolutions.
There are sixty-three points of examinations in which the author gently guides readers to examine themselves, make resolutions and look at their relationships with God, neighbor and themselves. In cultivating the spiritual life, these considerations make the reading experience seem like a retreat in a book.
The retreat could not be better crowned by appealing to the Blessed Mother. Mr. Church ends the book with the previously untranslated text that shows how humility of heart can be easily “attained and maintained with the devotion to the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
Thus, Humility of Heart presents itself as a contradiction for postmodern times. Everything seems to work against its message. And yet one senses that this very message is what so many crave in a world of uncertainty, brutality and frenzy. People are tired of falsity and insincerity and need this frank examination of self. In times of extreme alienation and loneliness, its text invites one to seek solace in He who is meek and humble of heart, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Perhaps this book that everyone needs may yet find a sizeable market.


Why This Little Book on Humility Is So Great - Humility of Heart - RTO.org: Why This Little Book on Humility Is So Great - Humility of Heart by Fr. Gaetano Maria de Bergamo, is a privileged book from this marketing perspective…

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Where Are the Nation’s Captains? -


Traveling by air these days can be stressful. It is increasingly difficult to go on a trip without some incident happening like the recent tussle on United Airlines Flight 3411. More often, however, flights are being canceled or delayed due to mechanical or weather problems. This can lead to hours of waiting at the gates compounded by the constant uncertainty about what is going on. However, enduring these incidents can be a real lesson about society in general.
I experienced two flights during a recent trip that displayed opposite ways of dealing with problems. It got me thinking of what is needed in times of crises on a larger scale.

A Slight Delay Becomes a Nightmare
The first incident was a short one-hour flight that would generally present few problems. This particular six o’clock flight was due to arrive at its destination at seven. The trouble began with a short half-hour delay. Apparently, there was a small mechanical problem that needed to be fixed and would only take a short while to remedy.
The short while soon became a long delay as problems compounded. One hour, two hours, three hours passed and we waited. Waiting is always difficult, but the worst thing was the unknown. No one seemed to know what was going on or at least would not tell us. We were left in the dark. The personnel at the desk, although polite, were hardly reassuring.
The situation started to get ugly when the captain and crew inexplicably walked out of the plane and left the scene. We did not know why they left but later figured out they had timed out their hours and by law could not fly. It was later announced that another plane had been found and that all were instructed to scramble over to another gate in the next terminal.
There was no plane at the next terminal. Passengers started to get angry and confront the poor airline representative left at the desk. People began to make problems and create scenes. No one seemed to be in charge. A plane finally arrived, but then we were told that the pilots and crew had just been called to the airport and would not arrive for another hour. After a time of chaos and confusion, the plane took off after midnight. An hour later, we landed, and our nightmare was over.
A Similar Situation Develops
I would have typically dismissed the incident as just another misadventure that has become part of traveling in these times. However, my next flight a few days later provided such a marked contrast that it helped me see a larger picture.
On this second occasion, the three-hour flight was slightly delayed because of weather problems. However, we soon boarded the plane, and everyone took their seats. We were all ready to leave the gate when the captain announced that there would be a delay because the tower at the destination would not give him permission to land.
Such an announcement hardly pleased the passengers that were cooped up in the plane. Everyone started to get a bit edgy with the news and the prospect of spending an hour or more at the gate.
But then something unexpected happened. It astonished me.
A Commanding Presence Reassures
As I looked down the aisle, I saw the figure of the captain. He was slowly making his way to the back of the plane explaining to everyone what was happening. He would stop and answer any questions and reassure everyone that he was doing his best to get this plane in the air. He was clearly in charge.
After returning to the cockpit, everyone waited. The pilot then made another announcement that the plane would be even further delayed. For a second time, he went down the aisle answering questions and reassuring passengers. The atmosphere aboard the plane was calm. People were not upset or angry. The captain’s prompt actions and commanding presence put them all at ease.
Later the captain made an announcement that by law everyone had to leave the cabin and stretch their legs, which everyone considered absurd. He apologized for the inconvenience yet firmly insisted that all comply. Everyone left without problems or complaint.
Finally, we took off, and the plane landed without incident. As I was leaving the plane, I could not resist asking one of the stewardesses if the captain’s going down the aisle was airline policy. She replied that it was not, but it was the way this particular captain operated. “Everyone likes to work with him. We love him,” she concluded.
A Tale of Two Flights
The contrast between the two incidents could not be more glaring. Here were two crisis situations that demanded leadership. In the first instance, no one seemed to care that all protocol was being followed. In the second case, everyone felt reassured that the situation was under control. The first flight had a pilot; the second had a captain.

 


The captain’s job is not merely to fly the plane. His role is to coordinate and harmonize the flight, dealing with whatever problems might arise, and deliver his passengers safely to the destination. The captain must connect with those under him and reassure them.
Searching for Captains
I cannot help but think that society is missing many captains today. So many go about the business of piloting and doing what is technically correct. They stay in their cockpits, so to speak, performing the task at hand. They do not go the extra mile to reassure those desperately looking for direction. Too few want to assume the responsibility of showing themselves in authority—for fear of offending others by asking people to do what they might not want to do.
We need captains everywhere today. They are sadly lacking in the family, schools, industry, politics, and religion. This is largely because people do not have a proper notion of what captains are. They think authority consists only in ordering people to do things. They do not realize it also involves unifying, reassuring and harmonizing.
Saint Thomas Aquinas defines authority as an animating and ordering intelligence, the vis regitiva that overcomes the resistance of the individual tendencies in men, organically directing and coordinating many wills toward the common good.
Thus, captains respect order and do not violate the rules, however difficult or absurd such rules might appear. Captains do not pander to those under them to please them. They do not make grand promises yet fail to mention the sacrifices needed to get the job done. Captains recognize that people need direction and act accordingly.
Above all, captains need to connect with those working with them to distil the best from them. Contrary to our egalitarian times, captains are not just “ordinary guys.” They need to appear as key representative figures, visibly and reassuringly, so as to secure the cooperation and confidence of those under them. Captains selflessly dedicate themselves to defending the common good to the point that they sacrifice themselves for and serve those whom they command.
Indeed, in our confusing and chaotic times, we do not need technocrats, economists, and politicians to craft their complex programs to solve our problems. We need to ask: Where are the nation’s captains?


Where Are the Nation’s Captains? -: Where Are the Nation’s Captains?

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Benedict Option Omits the Fatima Answer -




As the situation of the nation worsens, many are weighing their options. One much-discussed alternative is what is called the Benedict Option.
The Benedict Option is the name of a just-published book by journalist Rod Dreher. The author holds that conservatives have lost the Culture War and it is time to find a way to survive in a “post-Christian” America. Rather than oppose the wave of secularism that lashes society, it is much better to build arks to ride above the fray. These arks involve intentional communities, still inside society, that will allow members to develop themselves spiritually in the hope of better times—a wait that the author admits might even take centuries.
Mr. Dreher uses the example of Saint Benedict of Nursia who supposedly left decadent Rome to live an isolated intentional life away from society. Americans wishing to survive in these uncertain times are encouraged to “secede culturally from the mainstream.”  He insists that those involved must still have some presence in society, which might serve as an unintentional witness to those outside the option.

A Broad Option that Limits
A great controversy has arisen around the Benedict Option. No one disputes the reasons behind the proposal. The nation faces grave dangers that merit action. However, many do question the wisdom of pursuing this option of ark-like withdrawal.  The debate is complicated by the fact that there is no single option being proposed but rather many different options tailored to every religious group, dedication level or inclination.
The broad ecumenical character of the Benedict Option message may allow more to be included under its umbrella, but it also tends to reduce it to what is naturally possible to participants coming from differing religions. If all cannot agree about the role of grace in changing history, for example, then the matter must be addressed in generalities. The Benedict Option also tends to restrict it to an historical narrative that can be commonly held by all faiths.
Thus, concretely for the Catholic who is engaged in the Culture War and following the debate, there is one major omission that clouds the idea of a possibly Catholic Benedict Option.
The Fatima Omission
That omission is Fatima. Nowhere in Mr. Dreher’s book is there mention of Our Lady of Fatima or any role of the Blessed Mother in addressing the crisis. The problem is that the Mother of God is very central to the Catholic perspective. It is not optional.
This is especially true about the apparition of the Blessed Mother to three shepherd children in Portugal in 1917. The event has always been considered a solution directed to the present times—not that of possible centuries hence. It is perplexing that a proposal to deal with the current crisis would completely ignore the most spectacular religious and historic event of the twentieth century that specifically addresses these very issues.
Anyone familiar with the message cannot help but be impressed by looking at the past and seeing that things Our Lady said would happen have, indeed, happened. Her warnings about world wars, conflicts, persecutions, and the spreading of the errors of Russia throughout the world have all come to pass just as she predicted.

Likewise, a look at the present leads one to easily see how the Fatima message is more relevant than ever, especially in describing the immoral fashions, the blasphemies, and the lack of Faith that are evident everywhere.
Given the Fatima record, there is no reason to doubt that those things that lie still in the future will also be fulfilled. To a world that has not heeded her warnings, the Blessed Mother foretold a great chastisement that will fall upon the world in which “nations will be annihilated,” and the “good will be martyred.”  She also foretold the conversion of Russia and the world, and the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart.
Not an Option Among Many
The means by which these results might be obtained were very clearly given by the Blessed Mother. She requested some general measures accessible to everyone inside and outside of society. These center on prayer, penance and amendment of life. She asked for specific actions in the observance of certain prayers on five consecutive first Saturdays and the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart.  By its omission of the Fatima message, the Benedict Option makes all these essential requests optional.
And while it might be argued that Mr. Dreher would have no problem admitting a Fatima version of the Benedict Option, such a concession would only trivialize the message. Fatima becomes an equal option among so many others and not the only real and heaven-sent solution for a modern world in crisis and apostasy as affirmed by popes and Catholics for the last hundred years.
No Final Goal
Perhaps that is the main problem with the Benedict Option—it is only an option without a final goal. Options are by definition means or choices made toward an end. The Benedict Option is merely a means to survive the crisis—for centuries if necessary. However, it has no specific or unified end. Participants need not even be Christian. There is no desire for a final unity but rather the option facilitates the continued fragmentation of the nation into sub-cultures inside the larger post-Christian society.
Nothing could be farther from the Fatima message which foresees the whole world’s conversion to the Faith and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary—in the near future. The means and final goal are very clear. It enlists the help of the Mother of God since it clearly is beyond the capacity of people today to overcome the adversaries of the Faith.
On this centennial of the Fatima apparitions, many rightly look upon the year with great expectation since the Mother of God brought hope and promises for this world in crisis. It  is to her that those searching for solutions should turn. She is the great and only answer. Without her, there is no option.

As seen on Church Militant.




The Benedict Option Omits the Fatima Answer -: The Benedict Option Omits the Fatima Answer