Thursday, 18 February 2021

A most insightful FIRST THINGS article, excerpted here (bolding is mine) :

Adversary Culture in 2020

. . . .To accept the claims of the new “woke” movement requires ignoring the extraordinary progress America has made in overcoming the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. Sixty years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964—and despite decades of affirmative action, massive social welfare spending, and a two-term black president—the movement’s adherents maintain that our society remains captive to “white supremacy.” Few citizens dare to disagree publicly, which is no surprise. Attacks on dissenters in the press and social media have been ruthless, and some of the targets have lost their reputations and livelihoods.

The elite endorsement of BLM radicalism and tacit approval of street violence raise a vexing question: Why are society’s most powerful opinion-makers supporting a revolt against mainstream legal, political, and cultural institutions? Aren’t these elites themselvesin a real sense, the system? How is it that those so richly rewarded by our society have come to ally themselves with society’s angriest critics?

The concept of the alienated intellectual plays a central role in the analysis of the subversive character of modern literature in the literary critic Lionel Trilling’s 1955 book, The Opposing Self. Trilling noted that by the end of the eighteenth century, the moral imagination of the West (at least among those at the top, who wrote and read books) was “intense and adverse.” The prophets of Israel had hardly been complacent—but something different was at work in modernity. “The modern self is characterized by certain powers of indignant perception,” Trilling observed, and this indignation became a general attitude. 

Trilling gives the example of prisons, images of which proliferate in nineteenth-century literature. The “prison” is not just a dim stone building with barred windows. In modern literature, “social restrictions and economic disabilities” are pictured as prisons. In Dickens’s Little Dorrit, the title character is born in a prison. In later novels, characters are depicted as trapped in prisons “in the family life, in the professions, in the image of respectability, in the ideas of faith and duty.” Delight, imagination, and fullness of life require escape from these prisons, which is to say escape from what Trilling calls “the general culture.”

We are heirs to the sensibility that gives a prime role to indignation at society’s inevitable failures and conceives of human flourishing as requiring a “jail break” from social convention. Thus, a person who thinks himself cultivated and critically aware—part of the enlightened crowd—has a sense of personal identity “conceived in opposition to the general culture.” The striking commercial success of On the Road, Jack Kerouac’s account of the countercultural “beat” lifestyle, revealed the large audience of university-educated people who were very much part of 1950s “conventionality,” yet who resonated with the oppositional ethos of Kerouac’s misfits.

Trilling expanded his analysis of the alienated intellectual in his 1965 book, Beyond Culture. As the 1960s unfolded, he saw that the animus he had earlier identified was becoming politicized. Any literary historian, he observed, will take for granted “the adversary intention, the actually subversive intention, that characterizes modern writing.” Its “clear purpose” is to give the reader “a ground and vantage point from which to judge and condemn, and perhaps revise, the culture that produced him.”

Trilling made these observations at a time when novels played an important role in forming upper-middle-class sensibilities. He understood that the influence of novels extended far beyond alienated intellectuals. The vast market for literature of “adversary intention” revealed that works of social criticism and literature of alienation and liberation gratified the appetites of those who thrilled to their oppositional stance. Trilling called this growing consensus “the adversary culture.” 

John Cheever’s New Yorker short stories and novels such as John Updike’s Rabbit, Run documented the ennui of suburban respectability. Freudian psychotherapy and related therapeutic approaches fueled the conviction that American society was too “repressive.” Pride at America’s triumph in World War II soured into recrimination and protests against the Vietnam War. Movies such as A Clockwork Orange and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest painted a dark picture of social control. 

These were among the cultural markers of the extraordinary growth of the oppositional sensibility Trilling had diagnosed. “The more ‘cultivated’ a person is in our society, the more disaffected and malcontent he is likely to be,” observed Irving Kristol. What Trilling wrote in 1965 is still true today: “It is a belief still pre-eminently honored that a primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture.” And not just art, but education, entertainment, and even commerce, as woke capitalism illustrates.

I first encountered “Sandalistas” (the nickname given to sandal-wearing progressives who traveled to Nicaragua to support the Sandinistas) in August 1986 at a bread-and-soup supper at a luxury home overlooking Minneapolis’s tony “Lake of the Isles.” The guests were corporate middle managers, pastors, and psychologists—articulate, earnest, and well educated.

I was struck at the time, however, by their moral double standards. They reviled the United States for having supported Nicaraguan strongman Anastasio Somoza. Their judgment was part of a larger narrative about the entirely destructive role of American interventions in Central America. America was a force for evil, as they saw it, not good. Yet they rhapsodized about the charismatic Marxist dictator Daniel Ortega and his gun-toting Sandinista National Liberation Front. In their eyes, these Marxist revolutionaries could do no wrong.

My fellow guests glared at me when I asked skeptical questions: What about the Sandinistas’ contempt for human and political rights? What about their attempt to turn the Catholic Church into an arm of the state? No answers came, and I began to suspect the motivations of hosts and their guests went beyond selfless concern for suffering peasants. Many had traveled to Central America on ideological pilgrimages with organizations such as Witness for Peace. As they recounted their experiences, their eyes lit up and their voices quickened, as if to say, “I once was lost but now am found.” 

Their pilgrimages had apparently offered an exhilarating, risk-tinged contrast with their comfortable, predictable lives in America—an adrenaline shot of “authentic” meaning, which stood in contrast to the “conventionality” of the United States. They viewed the Sandinista guerillas as engaged in a noble fight for social justice and were gratified to participate in it vicariously. Most had returned home radicalized, eager to evangelize benighted friends and neighbors. The message they preached was that Americans must accept the guilt they bore, not just for Nicaraguan suffering, but also for countless failures at home. The way of atonement was to affirm revolutionary social transformation.

Sociologist Paul Hollander came to the United States after escaping from communist Hungary in 1956. Having first-hand experience with a totalitarian regime, he was baffled to encounter American intellectuals who were sympathetic to communism and endorsed its revolutionary aims. Some even championed Stalin, Castro, and Mao. Hollander saw that they were captive to an oppositional habit of mind, which led them toward a hypercritical repudiation of our nation’s institutions. Worse, this habit of mind led them to misperceive and idealize systems like the one he had fled, while overlooking or denying the virtues of their own society.

In Political Pilgrims: Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China and Cuba 1928–1978 (1981) and other writings, Hollander explains why so many of the best-off people in the wealthiest, freest nation in the world have contempt for their own society. Though he died in 2019, before woke crusaders’ latest forays, his analysis sheds light on our cultural moment.

Hollander recognized the importance of the adversary culture in postwar America. It is characterized, he wrote, by the “socially critical temper” produced by alienation and estrangement from the larger society. Though a vibrant democracy requires vigorous debate, the fierce criticism nurtured by the adversary culture encourages “an intense, radical and indignant” disposition, which generates social-­critical passions powerful enough to overwhelm reason. Thus arises the impairment—willed or genuine—of one’s capacity to make important distinctions among degrees of social evil. The tens of millions killed during Mao’s Cultural Revolution disappear from view. The result is “an outlook or state of mind which leads to (or entails) viewing one’s own society with deep misgivings and suspicion,” condemning it as “deeply flawed, unjust,” and “calculated to constrain or reduce human satisfactions.”

In Political Pilgrims and elsewhere, Hollander recounts how this mindset prompted a parade of prominent intellectuals—among them George Bernard Shaw, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Noam Chomsky—to embrace beliefs at odds with reality, shaped by wishful thinking, and distorted by a suspension of logic. Though hyper-sensitive to their own societies’ flaws, these commentators gave the benefit of every doubt to systems and ideologies that advanced a utopian egalitarian and humanitarian vision. Reality was of no consequence; they thrilled to ideals.

New York Times reporter Walter Duranty offers a notorious example. In the 1930s, in the face of incontrovertible evidence, Duranty extolled the Soviet Union and denied Stalin’s mass starvation of Ukrainian peasants. He was not alone. American writer Joseph Freeman was certain he had seen the future after a visit to the U.S.S.R:

For the first time I saw the greatest of human dreams assuming the shape of reality. Men, women and children were uniting their efforts into a gigantic stream of energy directed toward . . . creating what was healthy and good for all.

Duranty, like other pro-Soviet intellectuals at the time, displayed startling credulity: “It is unthinkable that Stalin . . . and the Court Martial could have sentenced their friends to death unless the proofs of guilt were overwhelming.”

In the 1960s, Castro’s Cuba offered susceptible intellectuals a tempting opportunity for uncritical admiration closer to home. Saul Landau, a journalist and human rights activist, called Cuba “the first purposeful society that we have had in the Western Hemisphere for many years.” Castro had given birth to a system in which “human beings are treated as human beings, where men have a certain dignity, and where this is guaranteed to them.”

These affirmations had little to do with the needs of Cubans and a great deal to do with the needs of Americans raised in the adversary culture. Todd Gitlin declared, “We look to Cuba not only because of what we sense Cuba to be but because of what the United States is not.” Just as the Soviet Union had been for Duranty the ideal that exposed the moral mediocrity of America, Cuba was the mirror in which many 1960s activists saw America’s warts.

Marxist revolutionaries in Central America provoked similar frenzied admiration in the 1970s and ’80s. “I came back [from Nicaragua far more ashamed of my country than at any time since the Vietnam War,” wrote Michael Harrington. “The Nicaraguans,” he insisted, “want to make a truly democratic revolution and it is we who subvert their decency.” Events would prove Harrington wrong. The Sandinistas imposed an authoritarian regime, and over the decades Daniel Ortega would become richer than Anastasio Samoza, the strongman he had replaced. But that never seems to matter. Sustaining the “oppositional self” is more important than admitting to the existence of complex social realities.

When I went to the bread-and-soup dinner to hear about the virtues of the Sandinistas and the vices of American foreign policy, the cohort enamored of Central American revolutionaries was relatively small. But as Trilling observed in the 1960s, over time a nexus of intellectuals, writers, and critics shapes popular culture, which diffuses the oppositional ethos throughout society. Today’s “woke” crusade against “systemic racism” includes not only New York Times reporters but work-a-day accountants, nurses, and soccer moms. Once universally recognized as radical, the social-critical mindset and its indignant habits of mind have become, one might say, as American as apple pie.

To a great extent, the mainstreaming of the adversary culture corresponded with the dramatic increase in young people attending college. In 1940, about 5 percent of high school graduates had a college degree. After World War II, Americans began to flood university campuses. In subsequent decades, millions of university-educated people entered government, education, media, entertainment, the arts, the “helping professions,” and the non-profit sector.

As secularization advanced, intellectuals and other producers and consumers of social criticism took on a new social function. The clergy’s status as moral leaders declined, and public intellectuals, journalists, and news anchors replaced figures such as Bishop Fulton Sheen and Billy Graham as a moralizing elite.

The Vietnam War marked a turning point. The burgeoning cohort of middle-class students who went to the universities had been trained in the adversarial mindset that Trilling identified. Che Guevara posters became a staple of college dorm rooms. In Hollander’s view, the war was the catalyst, not the source, of the sixties revolution because it “tapped into already deep wells of latent social disaffection.” Activists of the era gave evidence that he was right. “If there had been no Vietnam, we [radicals] would have invented one,” said Jerry Rubin. “If the Vietnam War ends, we will find another war.” The particular moral issues at stake in the Vietnam conflict were not decisive. What mattered to Rubin was that the war symbolized the evil of the American “system.”

After graduation, many critically disposed students became teachers, professionals, and government bureaucrats. In 1976, Peter Berger noted: “Many of the radical impulses of 10 years ago have now become firmly institutionalized.” The oppositional mentality had become so pervasive as to trigger “a far-reaching delegitimation of some of the key institutions and values of American society.”

There were no doubt good reasons to criticize American society. Given our fallen condition, there are always flaws in our institutions, sometimes grievous flaws. But it is striking that those who have tenure at elite universities, run foundations that award fellowships to artists, staff government bureaucracies, and control our media speak of themselves as “countercultural” when, in truth, they are at the center of contemporary culture-making. This is a central feature of the adversary culture: It sustains the “­oppositional self,” which feeds on critical denunciation of the status quo.

Today, the hyper-critical mindset is so widespread that it has become, as Hollander described it, “a diffuse sensibility, a predisposition rather than a clearly thought-out ideological or philosophical position.” For people socialized into it, this mindset amounts to a new form of conventional wisdom: “instinctive, intuitive, non-intellectual—as all profoundly held cultural (or subcultural) beliefs are.” Thus our odd situation: Mayors, college presidents, corporate leaders, and media titans express paradoxically conventional and “establishment” affirmations of revolutionary causes.

Hollander recognized that political commitments often spring from deeper, unarticulated, non-political sources. In his words, “predisposition influences perception.” The moralistic crusades undertaken by people whose positions in life put them at a great distance from the issues they claim to care about are often not so much about a search for justice as a working out of their personal needs and dissatisfactions.

Hollander traces the rise of the adversary culture to the discontents generated by modern life—most especially, secularization. The alienation of contemporary intellectuals, in his view, is a response to the frustration and emptiness created by the lack of meaning and purpose in modern, materialist society. The postwar universities tended to reject traditional Judeo-Christian sources of meaning. But in the absence of religion, what can explain sin and guilt? The fault must reside in society. This projection of sin onto society allows the oppositional self to find meaning. He will maintain his purity by maintaining his adversarial stance. And he will find meaning in life by crusading against America’s sins. 

This moralistic and crusading dynamic takes place against the backdrop of American cultural history, with its strong strains of utopianism and powerful romantic elements. American individualism is marked by an optimistic view of the individual’s potential for self-realization, and a conviction that evil social institutions needlessly constrain our best impulses. This mindset can easily evolve into indignation about all restraints, as Trilling recognized. It can link individual liberation to a radical transformation of society that promises to abolish all restrictive categories. Transgender ideology is the most obvious example.

In today’s morally relativistic world, identity is no longer tied—as in the Judeo-Christian tradition—to the development of personal character through the cultivation of courage, prudence, self-control, and other virtues. Instead, intellectuals believe they can choose their identities. Often, they are drawn to the gratifying identity of the “social justice warrior,” which requires merely the adoption of “advanced” opinions. With the adept use of pronouns and the right profile on social media, today’s oppositional self distances himself or herself from society’s sins. 

Marxist-influenced thought has an important appeal in this context. As Hollander observes, Marxism’s ideological framework offers a “seemingly scientific foundation” for organizing moral passion and guides intellectuals in identifying “just” causes.Marxist ideology’s depiction of life as a power struggle between oppressors and victims—a core tenet of today’s “woke” movement—can serve to justify an unrelenting, self-righteous denunciation of the inevitable gap between aspirational American principles and real-world outcomes.

The upshot is a paradox very much evident today. The adversary culture alternates between moral absolutism and moral relativism—swinging from virulent criticism of “oppressor” groups to passionate enthusiasm for putative victims and their self-described champions, at home or abroad. “Systemic racism” is an ever-present and all-powerful threat that must be “eradicated,” while the destruction of stores, public buildings, and monuments presents no real moral problem. Policemen who make bad decisions in high-stress situations while doing their jobs are subject to searching, hostile criticism, and sometimes prosecution, while local prosecutors refuse to press charges against Antifa protestors who hurl bricks and assault police.

In recent months, COVID-19 has shifted the adversary culture’s energies into high gear. Virus-related lockdowns have unleashed restless energy. Since George Floyd’s death, young people socialized into the adversary mindset have thronged the streets for protests and riots. These youngsters belong to a generation notoriously lacking in meaning and purpose. They long to be part of something bigger than themselves. At the same time, older Americans—stuck at home—have reacted to the pandemic like Old Testament figures in times of plague. They manifest a millenarian readiness to assume guilt for society’s racial sins by donning sackcloth and sitting in the ashes.

This dynamic is especially evident in Minneapolis. The ostensible goal of the protests, riots, and policy changes has been to end racism and build an “­equitable” society. But evidence suggests that the real driver is the hallmark of the adversary culture: a reflexive animus against the American system, whose institutions are viewed as oppressive. The Minneapolis City Council has labeled white racism a “public health emergency,” with one council member calling it the “disease” that underlies “all the racially inequitable results we are living with today.” Yet, as Hollander warns, the council members’ simplistic view of life as a power struggle between oppressors and victims, whites and blacks, blinds them to complex social realities, including black family fragmentation and black-on-black violence. These must be addressed if the racial outcomes the council deplores are to change.

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey has designated “systemic racism” one of “the greatest long-term threats” the city faces. Yet he is unable to identify a single public official or process that can objectively qualify as racist. Liberal Democrats have governed Minneapolis for almost fifty years, and racial “e­quity” has been a centerpiece of their agenda. Frey’s “willful amnesia”—so characteristic of the adversary culture—sustains the need to remain “oppositional.” It also masks how profoundly the adversary culture has failed. It relieves our civic leaders of responsibility for their own leadership, which over the last fifty years has created serious problems for black Americans and others who don’t live in the upscale neighborhoods where BLM signs are on prominent display.

The Minneapolis City Council has accused the city’s police department of institutional racism and voted to defund it (though police defunding was not on the ballot in the 2020 election and the council’s vote will not set policy going forward). Not surprisingly, homicides and shootings—nearly all black-on-black—have risen dramatically. At the same time, elected officials have stood by as rioters and arsonists have vandalized, looted, or destroyed at least 1,500 businesses, many minority- or immigrant-owned, with the damage estimated at $500 million or more. At one point, Mayor Frey characterized the rioters’ “anger and sadness” as “not only understandable, [but] right.”

As if to vindicate Trilling and Hollander, amid the destruction, a new, quasi-religious source of meaning has sprung up. In a city where many churches remain closed in response to COVID-19, activists have barricaded a several-block area and erected a shrine to George Floyd. In describing the site, which has drawn pilgrims from around the nation, a local official unwittingly articulated the impulse at the heart of the adversary culture: “We have an obligation to keep sacred what is sacred.”

During the season of protests after the George Floyd–inspired riots, I wrote a critique of the “woke” movement that was published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Sandalista” leader Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, now an emeritus professor of “justice and peace studies” at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, wrote a response.

During the Sandinista Revolution’s glory days in the 1980s, Nelson-Pallmeyer had written a book that denounced “U.S.-Style totalitarianism” and praised Marxist Sandinistas for redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor. In his 2020 Star Tribune op-ed, he updated and reformulated his message. He was mainly concerned to denounce the U.S. for oppressing black citizens and praise social justice activists for fighting to eradicate “systemic racism.” His current crusade is no more likely to aid its putative beneficiaries than his ill-fated Nicaraguan crusade did. It serves the needs of the adversary culture, which in turn serves the emotional needs of college professors, at the expense of those actually needy in our society. 


Katherine Kersten 
is a senior policy fellow at the Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Prayer of Cardinal Erdo, Primate of Hungary


The following prayer by Cardinal Erdo, Primate of Hungary is being prayed daily around the world. Please join in praying this translation and adaptation of the prayer to hieratic English according to our patrimony:


Almightly LORD, GOD of our Forebears,

We bless Thee for the world created to enable human existence. We bless Thee for the wealth of creation and its miraculous principles. 

We bless Thee for allowing us to survive despite all the destructive forces that surround us. Enable us to recognise new insights in our world and in ourselves. 

We thank Thee for the opportunity to fight both individually and in community for our survival as well as for a better and a more meaningful life. 

But first and foremost we thank Thee for having been invited us to eternal life; and that through the redemptive death and resurrection of Christ the Lord, the way has been opened for our eternal happiness.

Whenever a cataclysm hits us, against which we are unable on our own to find a solid protection, we understand that, after all, our life is in Thy hands.

Lord, we humbly beg Thee to help scientists quickly find antidotes for the present pandemic! Please give society’s leaders insight, enabling them to take the appropriate measures to cut the spread of contagion; and to help with prevention and the delivery of the effective treatment for those in need. 

Please grant mercy and everlasting rest to those deceased from this disease; grant recovery to the ill and grant strength and blessings to the doctors and to all the healthcare staff for their courageous stand. 

Please strengthen our faith, confidence and helping love, so that we would be able to provide maximum spiritual and physical assistance to our sick fellow humans as well as to the grieving and worried relatives. Please grant that our responsible behaviour becomes an efficient contribution to prevent the spread of disease.

Lord, please forgive us all our sins that are committed by thought, by voice, by action and by failure.

Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us!

Blessed Virgin Mary, Salus Infirmorum, pray for us!

Amen. 



Thursday, 17 December 2020

Virtual Advent Lessons and Carols with Benediction

ADVENT LESSONS AND CAROLS 

WITH 

SOLEMN BENEDICTION OF 

THE BLESSED SACRAMENT


FRIDAY, DEC. 18 

8:00 P.M.


Attend virtually by going to

stmtoronto.ca


CATHOLIC PARISH OF 

ST. THOMAS MORE


Sunday, 6 December 2020

Homily -- ADVENT II B, DEC. 6, 2020

St. Bernard of Clairvaux outlined what he called the three  comings of Christ:

 


1.   The incarnation of Jesus as a human person – fully visible to all. 

 

2. The intermediate coming – an invisible manifestation of God, the Holy Spirit, in the interior lives of those who are baptized and empowered by God to declare the Good News of salvation to all people.

 

 3. The final coming of Christ will also be visible “and all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.”

 

According to Isaiah, the time of exile— the separation of mankind from God due to sin—is about to end. This is the good news of the first coming of Christ proclaimed by St. John the Baptist in today’s liturgy.

 

Isaiah in today’s First Reading promises Israel’s release and return from captivity and exile. But as today’s Gospel shows, Israel’s historic deliverance was meant to herald an even greater saving act by God—the coming of Jesus to set Israel and all nations free from bondage to sin, to gather them up and carry them back to God.

 

God sent an angel before Israel to lead them in their exodus towards the promised land (Ex. 23:20).  And God promised to send a messenger of the covenant, Elijah, to purify the people and turn their hearts to the Father before the day of the Lord (Malachi 3:1, 23–24).

 

St. John the Baptist quotes Isaiah’s prophecy, to show that all of Israel’s history looks forward to the revelation of Jesus. In Jesus, God has filled in the valleythat divided the sinful from Himself. 

 

God has done all this not for humanity in the abstract but for each of us as St. Bernard emphasizes. The long history of salvation leads us to this Eucharist, in which God again comes: our salvation is near


Each of us must hear in today’s readings a personal call. Here is God, Isaiah says, who has been patient with you as St.  Peter says in the Epistle.

 

Like Jerusalem’s inhabitants we have to go out to God, repenting our sins, all the self-indulgence that can make our lives a spiritual desert. We must allow God’s grace to straighten our lives so everything leads us directly to Christ in our hearts and in our relationships.

 

Today, we hear the Gospel and commit ourselves to lives of devotion to proclaim the Good News of Christ’s coming.

 


Isaiah 40:1–5, 9–11    

Psalm 85:9–14            

2 Peter 3:8–14            

Mark 1:1–8

Monday, 16 November 2020

Remembrance Sunday STM Nov. 8, 2020


 

 

It has been said: Remembrance Day informs today of what we hope tomorrow will look like.

 

Remembrance Sunday is not just a national or a global observance. It is not just a day to remember history, to memorialize the participants in war. In Canada today there are 750,000 living veterans, 250,000 with disabilities of various forms. It’s been discovered that in any war psychiatric casualties outnumber deaths 3-1, meaning a soldier is three times as likely to become mentally injured as he is to be killed. 

 

The incidence of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is not only being seen more frequently but so are its enduring effects . . . broken marriages, homeless veterans, ruined lives. War has a devastating cost. 

 

In Israel graduating High School classes are taken to the top of the mountain called Masada and there they solemnly proclaim, ‘Never Again’. Never again a holocaust, never again will they be found defenceless. 

 

Remembrance Day is a “Never Again” declaration.  Not “never again will there be a war”, but rather “never again will the world be found defenceless against tyranny.” Two thousand years ago Jesus made this observation, “But when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet.” (Mk13:7) 

 

Clearly, “Never Again” is not yet.  In Romans 5:7 St. Paul writes, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.”

 

We will scarcely find a person who will be willing to lay down his or her life for a complete stranger, even though that stranger is a good person. In the military, men and women do lay down their lives for others as their training has readied them to do if necessary. They go into harm’s way with a sense of duty, even ultimate duty. 

 

The Hebrew word ‘righteous’ that St. Paul uses can also have the meaning “innocent.” The Hebrew for ‘good’ can also have the connotation of worthy, upright or honourable. We remember and pray for honourable soldiers who give their lives for the innocent. 

 

St. Paul says that scarcely will someone die for the innocent or righteous and perhaps for a good or upright person somebody might even dare to die.  In Romans 5:8 he says, “But God demonstrates His own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The term sinners implies those who are against God, at enmity with God. 

 

When we were not worthy in any sense of the word, Jesus died for us. All our attempts at justice and compassion are really pictures of the compassion and justice that God offers when His Son, Jesus, lay down His life. He paid the price of our sin and in the Mass we participate, as the Body of Christ in His eternal life even as we pray for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us. We are strengthened to offer our lives for the sake of others in whatever way we can.

 

Today we remember that there is nothing glorious about war. Today we remember those who pursued hope and faced fears and carried the scars that we might live in freedom. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Homily -- Trinity IX (OT 29 A) STM, Oct. 18, 2020

God allows governments to rise and to fall. (John 19:11; Romans 13:1).

Every ruler needs to know what God tells King Cyrus in today’s First Reading: “I have called you . . . though you knew me not.” (X 2)
 
As we cast our eyes south of the border we hear many voices predicting and speculating about flawed human leaders. We must pray that those elected will be instruments of God for life as well as for liberty

The Lord raised up Cyrus, an imperfect man, to restore the Israelites and to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1–4). Throughout history, God has used foreign rulers for the sake of Israel and so also for us, the new Israel. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened to reveal God’s power (Romans 9:17). Invading armies punished Israel’s sins as we read in 2nd Maccabees.

The Roman occupation during Jesus’ day was, in a similar way, a judgment of Israel’s unfaithfulness. Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel  are a powerful reminder of this: “Render unto Caesar and unto God what is God’s.”  We are exhorted to keep our allegiances in priority because everything belongs to God.
 
The Lord alone is king and the Kingdom of God is in this world but not of this world.“My Kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus tells us as recorded in John ch. 18; but it begins here in His Church which reflects God’s glory among all peoples. As citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), we are called to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14)—working in faith, labouring in love, and enduring in hope, as today’s Epistle counsels us.
 
The secular government is there to show concern for the common good and obedience to laws—unless they conflict with God’s commandments as interpreted by the Church (Acts 5:29).  So we must pay taxes but we must not submit to the anti-life policies which threaten all humanity.
 
We owe God everything. Yes, the coin bears Caesar’s image but we, his baptized people, bear the image of God. (Genesis 1:27). We owe God our very lives—all our heart, soul, mind and strength, offered as a living sacrifice of love (Romans 12:1–2) in the Body of Christ.
 
We pray for our leaders that, like Cyrus the Great, they do God’s will (1 Timothy 2:1–2)—until from the rising of the sun to its setting, all humanity knows that Jesus is Lord.
 


Readings: Isaiah 45:1,4–6               
Psalm 96:1,3–5, 7–10       
1 Thessalonians 1:1–5       
Matthew 22:15–21

Friday, 9 October 2020

Novena to St. John Henry Newman


On this Patronal Feast of St John Henry Newman please join us in this novena for the healing of those who are suffering and especially those who have diseases of the lung.


Novena to St. John Henry Newman




Monday, 13 July 2020

The Sower - The Word of God

The Sower, Vincent Van Gogh

TRINITY  V   (OT 15A )             STM Toronto            July 12, 2020

We continue to meditate on Israel’s response to God’s Word. Why do some hear the word of the kingdom, yet fail to accept it as a call to conversion and faith in Jesus? 

We see in the Gospel today that the mysteries of God’s kingdom unfold to those who open their hearts. Our hearts are the rich soil in which the Word, like a seed,  can grow and bear fruit. 

We grow to understand that the grace of God joins with nature as the seed gives itself to the earth to fulfill God’s purpose. 

Despite attempts in the past two centuries to split the purpose or essence of the human person from our physical reality, the Church continues to affirm the nature of the human person as a single, unique, precious and infinitely loved  being -- not a being either disposable or plastic in the hands of the individual.

The first fruit of the Word, then, is the Spirit of love and adoption poured into our hearts in Baptism, making us children of God.  St. Paul reminds us in today’s Epistle (Romans 5:5; 8:15–16) that we are made a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), the first fruits of the new heaven and the new earth (see 2 Peter 3:13).

However, humans continually reject God’s Word and so creation has been enslaved to futility (Genesis 3:17–19; 5:29).  In our day this rejection and futility is expressed in the pride of those who reject the Word of God and its transforming power as well as those who reject their own God-given nature by insisting that humanity is plastic and so may be shaped by the human will whether that be in terms of origin or sexuality.  For example, gender dysphoria is increasingly allowed to re-shape society to the detriment of all.

God’s Word goes forth, we are told, in order to return bearing fruit, as we heard in today’s First Reading. God’s Word awaits our response. We show ourselves to be children of that Word when we allow the Word i.e. the Logos or divine plan to accomplish God’s will in our lives.  

Jesus warns that we must take care that the Devil (the Adversary of the Light and of the Word of God), careful that the many-faceted Satan does not steal the Word away or allow it to be choked by the worldly forces of pride and unbridled choice that deny the ultimate value of every person established by God not the will of the individual or collective.

In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ, the Word, gives Himself to us as bread, the fruit of grain and of human hands. This holy bread is given so that we, ourselves, may be made fertile, yielding fruits of holiness.

As we are nourished on the Bread of Heaven, we await the crowning of the year, the great harvest of the Lord’s Day (Mark 4:29; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 1:10)—when God's Word will achieve the end for which it was scattered.


Isaiah 55:10–11,   Psalm 65:10–14,   
Romans 8:18–23,   Matthew 13:1–23

Saturday, 11 July 2020

July 12 - Choral Music for Sung Mass at St. Thomas More, 263 Roncesvalles, Toronto



SUNG MASS AT 12:30
Sunday, July 12 

(Covid Precautions are in place.)

Missa de Angelis (in Greek)

Mass of the Quiet Hour - Oldroyd

Ego sum panis vivis - Palestrina


Fair in Face - Willan


Monday, 29 June 2020

Homily for Trinity IIIA - June 28 STM Toronto

  
Jesus said: 

"Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me." 

Discipleship is at the heart of the Christian Faith.  We cannot simply believe, we are called to follow, to act, to witness in light of our relationship with Jesus Christ. We’re told that even the most humble among us have a share in the mission that Christ has given to the Church.

There are only 12 Apostles (13 if we count St. Paul). These were the first disciples to follow Jesus.  We have no prophets like Elisha today nor do we have Apostles in the Church Militant.  But we are all called to discipleship (2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

At Baptism our lives are joined forever to the cross of Christ, as Paul tells us in today’s Epistle. Baptized into His death, our discipleship means that we are to live for God in Christ Jesus.

We follow Jesus by taking up our own personal cross, as Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel. That doesn’t mean we will all be asked to suffer a martyr’s death but each of us is called to self-denial and to the offering of our lives in service of God’s plan.

The Gospel affirms that Jesus must be elevated to first place in our lives—above even our closest bonds of kinship and love. By Baptism, we’ve been made part of a new family—the kingdom of God, the Church. We proclaim that kingdom with our lives, encouraging our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters and all people, to live as “little ones” under God and the kingship of God’s Holy Incarnate One.

We do this by opening our hearts and homes to the service of the Lord, following the Shunnamite woman’s example in today’s First Reading. As Jesus tells us, we are to receive others—not only prophets but little children, the poor, the marginalized and the imprisoned—as we receive Christ Himself (Matthew 18:5; 25:31–46).

We hold fast to the promise—that if we have died with Christ, we shall also live with Him, that if we lose our lives for His sake, we will find our reward, and walk forever in God’s presence.


2 Kgs 4:8–11, 14–1   Ps 89:2–3, 16–19. Rom 6:3–4, 8–11  Mt 10:37–42

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

STM Patronal Sung Mass June 21, 2020 STM - Toronto

 “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” 
Mat. 10: 39



St. Thomas More, is our parish patron saint, for whom we thank God today and whose prayers we ask as we face the challenges of faith and health in our own day as members of the Body of Christ.


Thomas More made a simple and clear choice for the culture of life based upon his unshakeable belief in the Church and her sacraments.  Christ is truly present in his sacraments, calling us to penitence, to conversion and to sanctification. The reality of the sacraments was the belief upon which St. Thomas More would lay down his life. 

When it came to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, St. Thomas maintained that what the Church did sacramentally was real and permanent. Just as Baptism makes us indelibly part of the Body of Christ, so Holy Matrimony unites a man and woman for life whether they be king and queen or commoners – the bond is real.  

As we know, St. Thomas More famously refused to take the oath denying that King Henry was sacramentally married to Katherine of Aragon.  In conscience, Thomas could not deny Christ and the sacramental reality of the Word of God, the true word which effects what it pronounces. 

The sacramental bond of water and the Spirit in Baptism grafts us into the Body of Christ; the real and lasting bond of Matrimony binds man and woman in Holy Matrimony. Holy Matrimony is not, then, some legal contract sworn before a magistrate by any two people but, rather, a bond exclusively between one man and one woman for life –  a bond that cannot be broken or abrogated nor established other than as ordained by the revelation of God.

Thomas would not swear against this sacramental bond and so he gave his mortal life in order to retain his immortal soul. What could be simpler? What could be more difficult?  

In our day, when people insist that truth is relative – you know the meme: “You have your truth and I have mine,”  St. Thomas stands as a beacon of light amidst the darkness of godless secularism. 

Today we come to give thanks in the Mass for one who, in fact, did everything to uphold the sanctity of Christ present in the sacraments and supremely in the Holy Eucharist. 

Today, as well, there is a real challenge to living the Christian faith.  The secular juggernaut, an alliance of atheist, materialist and narcissistic social attitudes is challenging the Church and her norms not to mention the threat to the fabric of society which is based upon Judaeo-Christian norms.  

The creed of relativism informs the culture of death denying the light of Christ even as mob rule threatens to take over ‘civil’ society.  Social engineering by those who serve the dictatorship of relativism puts constant pressure on those who proclaim the sacramentality of the Church through which we are in communion with Christ. 

Catholic faith and practice are under attack. This Marxist inspired campaign seeks to eradicate the once universal customs and morality of natural law as embedded in laws governing marriage and family. As well, the constant campaign to make the Mass little more than a communal meeting gathers power and influence while offering no sense of the transcendence of the Creator.

All these strands are parts of a devilish design to put humanity at the centre in an empty humanism which denies the transcendence of God and to deny the vital importance of the nuclear family based upon the moral order that has been at the heart of human flourishing for time immemorial.


St. Thomas More stood in his day for the faith once delivered to the saints. We pray for the grace to stand in our day for the same faith.  As we are strengthened by the sacraments may we also be encouraged by the prayers of St. Thomas More, his companion St. John Fisher, our Lady, the BVM and by the whole communion of saints with whom we are sacramentally united on the journey of faith, the road paved for us by the martyrs of Christ Jesus.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

STM Patronal Mass - Sunday, June 21 at 12:30

Welcome all to our first Sunday Mass since March, 2020.  

We have Covid-19 protocols in effect.  Please see the attached bulletin for details.

You may print and bring the bulletin with you since we are not allowed to pass our bulletins at this time.

You will find a PDF version of the bulletin here:

STM PATRONAL 2020

God bless and keep you all. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

PENTECOST NOVENA



As we prepare for Pentecost Sunday in the Catholic Parish of St. Thomas More Church, Toronto, we ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in these uncertain times.

In particular, we pray that our parish may be used by the Holy Spirit to assist many on the journey that we walk together with our Lord Jesus who is present to us by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Eucharist and the sacraments that we share as members of the Body of Christ.


In the Name of the Father, + and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

Each day, the Novena begins with this prayer:

O HOLY SPIRIT, our Lord and our God, we adore thee and humbly acknowledge here in thy sacred presence that we are nothing, and can do nothing, without thine operation within us. Come, great Paraclete, thou Father of the poor, thou Comforter of the blest, fulfill the promise of our Saviour, who would not leave us orphans. Enter our minds and hearts as thou didst descend on the day of Pentecost upon the Holy Mother of Jesus and upon his first disciples. Grant that we may have a part in those gifts which thou didst so graciously bestow upon them.

Take from our hearts all that is not pleasing to thee and make of them a worthy dwelling-place for Jesus. Illumine our minds, that we may see and understand the things that are for our eternal welfare. Inflame our hearts with the pure love of the Father, that, cleansed from attachments to all unworthy objects, our lives may be hidden with Jesus in God. Strengthen our wills, that they may be conformed to the will of our Creator and guided by thy holy inspirations. Aid us to practice the heavenly virtues of humility, poverty, and obedience which are taught to us in the earthly life of Jesus.

Descend upon us, O mighty Spirit, that, inspired and encouraged by thee, we may faithfully fulfill the duties of our various states in life, carry our particular crosses with patience and courage, and accomplish the Father's will for us more perfectly. Make us, day by day, more holy and give to us that heavenly peace which the world cannot give.


O Holy Spirit, thou Giver of every good and perfect gift, grant to us the special intentions of this novena of prayer. May the Father's will be done in us and through us; and mayest thou, O mighty Spirit of the living God, be praised and glorified for ever and ever. Amen.


Here is said or sung the Veni Creator Spiritus:

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,

and lighten with celestial fire,

thou the anointing Spirit art,

who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

Thy bless├ęd unction from above, 

is comfort, life, and fire of love,

enable with perpetual light

the dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face

with the abundance of thy grace.

Keep far our foes, give peace at home;

where thou art Guide, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,

and thee, of both, to be but One;

that through the ages all along,

this may be our endless song:

Praise to thine eternal merit,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


OUR FATHER, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy Name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.


HAIL MARY, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Here is said the Proper Prayer for the Day:


FIRST DAY

Come, O Holy Ghost, the Lord and Lifegiver; take up thy dwelling within our souls, and make of them thy sacred home. Make us live by grace as adopted children of God. Pervade all the energies of our souls, and create in us fountains of living water, springing up unto eternal life.



SECOND DAY

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to our souls the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, and power, and beauty. Teach us to love them above and beyond all the passing joys and satisfactions of earth. Show us the way by which we may be able to attain to them, and possess them, and hold them hereafter, our own forever.

THIRD DAY

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation, and may merit at last to see the eternal light in thy light; and in the light of glory to have the clear vision of thee and the Father and the Son.



FOURTH DAY

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide us in all our ways, that we may always do thy holy will. Incline our hearts to that which is good, turn them away from all that is evil, and direct us by the path of thy commandments to the goal of eternal life.


FIFTH DAY

Come, O Spirit of Fortitude, and give courage to our souls. Make our hearts strong in all trials and in all distress, pouring forth abundantly into them the gifts of strength, that we may be able to resist the attacks of the devil.



SIXTH DAY

Come, O Spirit of Knowledge, and make us to understand and despise the emptiness and nothingness of the world. Give us grace to use the world only for thy glory and the salvation of thy creatures. May we always be faithful in putting thy rewards before every earthly gift.

SEVENTH DAY


Come, O Spirit of Piety, possess our hearts, and incline them to a true faith in thee, to a holy love of thee, our God. Give us thy grace, that we may seek thee and find thee, our best and our truest joy.

EIGHTH DAY

Come, O Spirit of holy Fear, penetrate our inmost hearts, that we may set thee, our Lord and God, before our faces forever; and shun all things that can offend thee, so that we may be made worthy to appear before the pure eyes of thy divine Majesty in the heaven of heavens.




NINTH DAY

Come, O Holy Comforter, and grant us a desire for holy things. Produce in our souls the fruits of virtue, so that, being filled with all sweetness and joy in the pursuit of good, we may attain unto eternal blessedness.

The following prayer concludes the Novena each day:
O GOD, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit: grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth with thee in the unity of the same Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.