Mighty Powerful: Professor Deneen on Black Friday

And, today, if we can identify the rampaging “consumers” who killed that poor, poor, undeserving man who sought to open the doors of Wal-Mart for minimum wage on Black Friday, we will exonerate ourselves from any stain that we may all bear in assenting to a culture in which hordes stampede for cheap flat screen televisions and microwaves, convinced that what matters most is what we have, not who we are.

God forgive us all.

Read it all, here. It’s well worth the time, as his conclusion suggests.


An Advent Prayer

Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a wonder at the wisdom and power of Your Father and ours. Receive my prayer as part of my service of the Lord who enlists me in God’s own work for justice.

Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a hunger for peace: peace in the world, peace in my home, peace in myself.

Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a joy responsive to the Father’s joy. I seek His will so I can serve with gladness, singing and love.

Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me the joy and love and peace it is right to bring to the manger of my Lord. Raise in me, too, sober reverence for the God who acted there, hearty gratitude for the life begun there, and spirited resolution to serve the Father and Son.

I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, whose advent I hail. Amen.

The Catholic Capitulation: Blame the Leadership, Part I

A few weeks ago, I conversed online with a friend from Notre Dame, a devout, knowledgeable Catholic (undeniably better than I), who is married and the young mother of two adorable children, whom she and her husband intend to raise, and already raise, in the Faith and traditions of the Holy Mother Church, when she inadvertently tested my knowledge of Catholic Teaching. I forget the particular context, but she made some comment about spoiling herself by consuming meat on Friday, remarking that she’d now have to confess her violation of Friday penitence-by-abstinence. I, who had been voluntarily abstaining from meat on Fridays to offer a minute sacrifice of penitence (I’m a professional sinner.) — and as a nod to old-school Roman Catholicism —, urged her not to be so hard on herself, reminding her that the Church long ago rescinded this Friday requirement outside of Lent. She quickly disabused me of this misbelief, as did Wikipedia

Specific regulations are passed by individual episcopates. In the US in 1966 the USCCB passed Norms II and IV that bound all persons from age fourteen to be bound to abstinence from meat on Fridays of Lent, and through the year. In September 1983, Canons 1252 and 1253 expressed this same rule, and added that Bishops may permit substitution of other penitential practices on Fridays outside of Lent only, but that some form of penance shall be observed on Friday in commemoration of the day of the week of the Lord’s Crucifixion. —,

which directed me to the USCCB’s “Penitential Practices for Today’s Catholics”, from 2000, which reminds us that

If we are serious about embracing the penitential discipline that is rooted in the call to discipleship, then we will identify specific times and places for prayer, penance, and works of charity. Growth in spiritual maturity demands a certain level of specificity, for it shows that we take seriously God’s call to discipline and are willing to hold ourselves accountable. In our Catholic tradition we specify certain days and seasons for special works of penance: Fridays, on which we commemorate the death of the Lord, and Lent, our forty days of preparation for the Easter mysteries.

Recalling our Lord’s Passion and death on Good Friday, we hold all Fridays to have special significance. Jesus’ self-denial and self-offering invite us to enter freely into his experience by forgoing food, bearing humiliations, and forgiving those who injure us. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of all spiri-tual transformation, this can be done—and done with a spirit of quiet joy. For Christians, suffering and joy are not incompatible. [My emphasis. – NPO.]

I, a professing, Mass-attending, doing-my-best Catholic had no idea that this very simple, evident, slackened obligation exists. Suffice to say I’ve continued, without lapse, to abstain from meat on Fridays; I suppose that I could proffer some alternate form of penitence (I’m trying to supplement my abstinence with Mass attendance on Fridays, but have yet to turn theory into practice.), but the connection, tenuous as it be, that this creates to the Church’s historical traditions has sufficient meaning for me that I’ll continue to substitute salmon for chicken — unless, you know, someone plops some prime rib on my plate.

I offer this silly little anecdote, and revelation of my own ignorance, not to indict myself, or my parents, but to offer a relatively minor example of a much greater problem: The Church’s hierarchy’s (and lay leadership’s) failure to sustain a rich, vibrant Catholic culture, one imbued with respect for the teachings — and spiritual significance thereof — of the Holy Mother Church; a real, deep appreciation of family and community — both spiritual and social, the latter within and beyond the parish; deep reverence for Christ and His Bride, and the many avenues available to us (e.g., Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament); and active political, civil, and social engagement rooted in and loyal to the Magisterium.

(Second page)

Web-logging elsewhere

At Upturned Earth, “When Theory and Reality Collide, Family Style”, on what happens — or does not — when an anti-statist, cultural conservative (namely I) faces the reality of family situations that compels him to question what he believes about the state and the family

At The Terrapin Times, I should not be such a prude were the alternative not so gruesome.

Again at Upturned Earth, “Back to Federalism, Briefly”, on not relying on government to cultivate morality and culture.

Black Friday!

Black Friday? Nay! Buy Nothing Day!

Rather than hoarding the hottest new d.v.d. player or Tickle-Me-Whoever, take a stand against rampant materialist consumerism, the idolization of stuff, and cultural meaningless. Just. Buy. Nothing. Spend time with your family. Read a book; read to your children, rather than buying inconsequential garbage for them. Attend Mass. Go for a walk. Bust out Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue or one of Beethoven’s symphonies and rediscover cultural artifacts with lifespans greater than the warranty on Step 2’s 50’s Diner (W.t.f.?).

Live, as humans, rather than merely functioning as television-commercial-hypnotized purchasing drones. Eschew the malls, Wal*Marts, and shopping “plazas” and rediscover the hearth. How often, in the modern workaday world, have many of us the opportunity to embrace an essentially free day? We should cherish it, rather than squander it standing in line to save a few dollars we could better use in countless other ways. After all, we ready ourselves not for the Christmas shopping season, but for Advent, in which we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ, a gift far greater than Best Buy could ever proffer.

Cross-posted at Upturned Earth

Have you ever wanted to eat a car?

From Cake Wrecks, the most delicious automobile ever.