Saturday, December 31, 2005

Example of Daniel Mitsui's Art

Click on image for a larger version.
Saint Benedict. 11 inches square. Ink on paper. Inspired by, among other things, the Saint Benedict Medal and a painting of the saint by Andrea Mantegna. Contrast increased in Photoshop to compensate for the dulling effect of the scanner.

All works copyright 2005 Daniel Mitsui
dpjm[at]alum[dot]dartmouth[dot]org or danmitsui[at]hotmail[dot]com


I recently posted an article about Catholic freelance illustrator Daniel Mitusi. I noticed that he allows others to use his illustrations on websites, so I thought I would include one here.

Daniel must be commended for reviving and making anew Catholic illustration, which has been limited for decades in the simple style of illustration as seen in the one-volume version of "Christian Prayer" and in the clipart reprinted in uncountable parish bulletins. The Traditonal Latin Mass communities I've attended have typically used reproductions of ancient woodcuts in their bulletins, but here is a contemporary alternative with the spirit of the past.

Daniel's illustrations—as far as I know—are the most geometically complex drawings of the past century or more, with the possible exception of engineering documents, and only the psychedelic posters of the late 1960s even come close to this complexity. Complexity used to be common in illustration, but the Modern style abstracted design to only a few, spare lines.

His artwork contains fractal imagery; fractals being complex geometrical entities which are difficult to describe using Euclid's geometry, but are common in nature. Fractals have a form that is repeated in many scales, so that larger parts of whole are reflected in the smaller parts, like large ocean waves having smaller waves superimposed on them, or the coastline of an island, which has ever smaller detail, like gulfs, bays, inlets, coves, and even smaller indentations that multiply exponentially as you look closer. The Classical Orders of Western architecture has a fractal nature, where larger objects are subdivided into smaller ones, at many scales simultaneously. See the article The Fractal Nature of the Architectural Orders by Daniele Capo, who argues that the Modern and Postmodern reduction of the Classical Orders to just a spare collection of large geometric elements was a rejection of the spirit of the ancients, and that similarities between larger and elements and smaller ones is an integral part of the tradition. The complexity of Daniel Mitsui's illustrations are a reflection of nature, and include much symbolism.

His art also does not shy away from difficult, unatractive subjects, as his illustrations of Saint Bartholomew and the Decollation of Saint John the Baptist show. There has been a recent deemphasis on the martyrs and their sacrifices, so these illustrations are a reminder that our forebearers did not live pleasant lives.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Photos of the Way of Lights at Our Lady of the Snows Shrine

The Our Lady of the Snows Shrine in Belleville, Illinois annual Way of Lights Christmas display continues until January 6th.

Admission is free and is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Included is a live animal display with donkey and camel rides.

442 South De Mazenod Drive
Belleville, Illinois 62223

Let it Snow!

Giant snowflakes on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Catholic Art Website

Here is an excerpt from Catholic artist Daniel Paul Jerome Mitsui's brand new blog, The Lion and the Cardinal:
My larger purpose in creating this website is to assist the aesthetic formation of fellow Catholics, which is too often neglected in contemporary evangelization. Our culture is now as depraved in its aesthetic as in its conscience; restoring of the sanity of Christendom in the modern age will be impossible without the beauty and profundity of its artistic and musical heritage. Catholicism particularly is a religion of images and sounds; for nearly the entirety of its history, its means of catechesis were buildings, paintings, statues, illuminations, windows, altars, vestments, vessels and music more than verbal lessons and arguments. If the new evangelization is to share the success of the old evangelizations, it will not be merely bookish and apologetic, nor will it conform to the conventions of modern media. If a new sacred art is to flourish, contemporary creativity must be grafted onto the living tradition of the Church, so it may grow and develop to natural sustenance...

I use the term ‘formation’ deliberately, because an aesthetic is comparable to a conscience. What the Catholic Church teaches about the conscience can be said truly about the aesthetic. An ability to distinguish beauty from ugliness is inherent to the human person, inscribed by his Creator. Good art and its appreciation are found in all cultures regardless of circumstance, even among cavemen. Yet this inherent sense can be depraved by the sophistry and temptation of the enemy. A trustworthy aesthetic must be vigilantly formed through prudent education, prayer, and practice. Only when properly formed is its judgment trustworthy. Such vigilance is especially necessary in this age, when mass-produced and mass-marketed popular culture is a uniquely threatening evil.

Some will object to this comparison, claiming that morality and aesthetics are unconnected. Indeed, bad taste is not a mortal sin. However, a depraved conscience that calls goodness evil and evil goodness and a depraved aesthetic that calls ugliness beauty and beauty ugliness are often symptoms of the same insanity....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Former Saint Louis Catholic Churches for Sale

Here are real estate listings of closed churches in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. Thanks to an article in Catholic Church Conservation.

The same real estate agent, Linda M. Wash, is also selling numerous buildings that were once public schools in the City of Saint Louis. Some of these are quite beautiful and were designed by noted architect William B. Ittner, who designed 500 schools and numerous other large buildings.

Population loss, that started in the 1950s, and is only ending now, is the main reason for these sales. We can expect more of our architectural heritage to be lost as these buildings are demolished.

Note: here are the deed restrictions on the church properties. Original is here.
2. Religious Artifacts and Fixtures. Seller reserves the right to remove religious artifacts and fixtures from the Property prior to closing, provided that any damage caused by such removal shall be repaired in a workmanlike manner.

[If the property is not being sold to a church, the following clause should be inserted: Seller also reserves the right to remove stained glass windows from the church building, provided that the windows are replaced in a workmanlike manner with glass windows.]

3. Deed Restrictions. Purchaser agrees and covenants that:

(a) It will not use the name ________________________________ or any derivative thereof in connection with any operations or activities on the subject Property.

(b) It will not (unless and until the church structure on the subject Property is demolished), without the prior written authorization of the Archbishop of St. Louis use, permit others to use or lease or otherwise transfer the use of the subject Property or any portion thereof to any person who uses or will use the Property or any portion thereof as a facility, place of business or other place in which:

(i) a congregation, society or other assemblage of persons meets for worship or other religious observances or activities, promoted or defined as Roman Catholic, but not possessing the express ecclesiastical approval of the Roman Catholic Church;

(ii) human abortion, sterilization, euthanasia or other acts which are contrary to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are performed, or promoted through public advocacy or for which counseling is given which promotes and/or encourages individuals to obtain such services;

(iii) pornographic or soft pornographic books, pictures, discs or other media or materials directed to an adult rather than a general audience or clientele are displayed, sold, rented or available for viewing;

(iv) massages or tattoos are provided;

(v) a tavern, bar, night club, dance club or hall is operated, or in which is operated a restaurant in which alcoholic beverages are served, or

(vi) live performances directed to an adult audience rather than the general public are operated or conducted.

Purchaser further agrees that these covenants will run with the land and be included as restrictions in the Deed of conveyance as binding on the grantee, its successors and assigns.

A Faustian Pact

"Fr Bozek and St. Stanislaus Kostka have entered into a terrible Faustian pact. What Bozek does not realize yet, but will no doubt soon learn, is that he is a bought man. He has burned his bridges. He has no priestly future in the Catholic Church. From this point on he is the thrall of the Board of Directors. He has no bishop to protect his back, no bishop to stand with him in any substantial conflict with the parish, no bishop to stand with him for the sake of the gospel. He has sold his soul and sold out his priesthood. It's all very sad and pathetic. "
—comment by Al Kimel (link from AMDG)

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Media Frenzy and Saint Stansislaus Kostka Church

Americans love a winner, and especially love an underdog fighting "the system". People are cheering the defiant independence of Saint Stanislaus Kostka church, the former Polish personal parish in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, whose board of directors and recently-hired priest are now in a state of excommunication.

The news media loves the story. The church has gotten so much free publicity, that the Christmas Midnight Mass there was packed with supporters from all over the United States; it reportedly almost had as many people as the Mass at the Cathedral that night.

But you might notice that only certain underdogs get positive notice by the news media. How about these folks fighting the system?

  • Citizens objecting to what is taught in public schools.

  • Episcopalian congregations upset with their bishops' changing of doctrine.

  • Protestors at abortion clinics.

  • Physicians giving up their practices due to high medical malpractice insurance costs caused by punitive tort damages.

  • Orthodox professors denied tenure at universities.

  • Voters in cities with large numbers of fraudulent ballots cast in an election.

  • Taxpayers upset at court-ordered tax increases.

  • Traditional artists denied public funding.

  • Parents objecting to the sexually alluring clothing, films, and music being marketed to their children.

  • African-Americans who do not want to conform to their community's standards.

Many readers will say that these folks don't deserve to be heard; for their views are outside of the mainstream, or they are extremists, behind the times, or they are just stupid or are guilty of hate speech.

But with few exceptions, the people love whatever side of an argument that the media shows favorably. The current situation is not an exception.

Pope Benedict XVI's Christmas Message

"In the millennium just past, and especially in the last centuries, immense progress was made in the areas of technology and science. Today we can dispose of vast material resources. But the men and women in our technological age risk becoming victims of their own intellectual and technical achievements, ending up in spiritual barrenness and emptiness of heart. That is why it is so important for us to open our minds and hearts to the Birth of Christ, this event of salvation which can give new hope to the life of each human being."

—From Pope Benedict's Christmas message.

The Season of Christmas

Sometimes we feel as if we have a right to having a happy Christmas. The reason of the season is of course celebrating the birth of Jesus, but a reflection of the liturgy for the Advent and Christmas seasons give us a more balanced picture of both salvation history and what is yet to come.

The readings from the Prophet Isaiah of this season are sobering. The people of Israel are worshiping false idols, consulting with fortunetellers, and given to drunkeness, adultery, and sodomy. They are greedy in their riches and unjust to the poor. They are falsely pious hypocrites in the Temple and Synagogues. This is a condemnation of us all; both Left and Right.

Today is the feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr, killed for proclaiming the Gospel. This is not a pleasant reminder of the difficulties of the Christian life; however, his persecutor, Saul, later became the great apostle to the Gentiles, Paul.

On Tuesday is the Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, who was the beloved disciple of our Lord, and was the only male follower to remain faithful to him at the Crucifixion—the others having run and hid. Only the holy women and this boy kept the faith; not the Apostles nor even Saint Peter, the first Pope, remained true under this first persecution. John's later life was very difficult, and while not martyred, he suffered torture and imprisonment.

On Wednesday is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, commemorating the slaughter of the children of Bethlehem by Herod, in his attempt to kill the Messiah, and also we read about the killing of the male children of the Hebrews by Pharaoh.

On Friday we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, added to the calendar by Pope Benedict XV in 1921. Dom Augustine Oppenheimer gave a homily on this feast last year where he said that this Pope Benedict explicitly added this feast in opposition to the destruction of family life that was occurring at that point in history, and which has yet to be reversed. This feast symbolizes Christian family life. The Blessed Virgin Mary, the greatest of all creatures, is subject to Saint Joseph, while Jesus, the Incarnate God, is subject to both.

This season is not just a time of recalling the wait for the birth of the Christ Child, but also a waiting for the return of Our Lord in glory in the future and the end of the world. This theme of destruction is very appropriate in the northern hemisphere with the coming of winter, but Pope Benedict XVI makes the point that it is appropriate symbolism with the coming of summer in the southern hemisphere, with the hope of a new world to come. It is for this reason that we should not have too high expectations for a fun Christmastime, as is the secular custom. Pain and sorrow exist in all seasons of the year, and we should reflect on that during this time also, but we know that joy and gladness will eventually conquer the sorrow.

The Jews had hoped for a Messiah who would end their subjugation to the Roman Empire. Jesus was not the Messiah they had hoped for, and so many rejected him. All seemed lost; after the Crucifixion, the rituals of the Temple failed, and soon the Temple itself was destroyed, never to be rebuilt, and the Jews themselves were slaughtered and the survivors were scattered across the face of the earth. The conquering Messiah hoped for by the Jews is yet to come, but we Christians hope and tremble with fear at His return.


I hope everyone had a merry Christmas.

I was blessed to be able to share Christmas with my family.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Photos of Saint Vincent de Paul Chapel

The Cardinal Rigali Center is the home of many offices of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, and is a former seminary. Inside is the beautiful Saint Vincent de Paul Chapel, done in the Gothic style. I was kindly given permission to photograph in here. I was not the only one here with this mission: some visiting Sisters, after they prayed the Divine Office in this chapel, were also taking numerous pictures.

The chapel from the entrance. The pews are in antiphonal form; long rows on opposite sides of the aisle face each other. This design derives from the ancient practice of monks chanting alternate verses of the Psalms of the Divine Office: one side chants a verse, the other side chants the next, and so forth. Some Modern churches have used this design as an alternative to seating-in-the-round.

Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Surrounding the entire chapel are panels of richly carved wood, with quotes from Scripture in gold Gothic lettering.

A side altar in the chapel.

This building was once a seminary; there are a dozen side altars in this chapel. The Church now allows concelebration and no longer requires priests to say Mass daily, so the practice of building side-altars has nearly disappeared. That is a shame; for the intimacy of a side-altar Mass, especially a weekday Mass with few communicants, is hard to match.

The High Altar.

View down the aisle.

The crucifix. It is high up in the middle of the chapel.

Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Coats of arms of notable churchmen are displayed on the walls of the chapel.

Each arch from the ceiling abuts to a carving of an angel.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Photo of Saint Gabriel the Archangel Church and Francis Park

A photo of Francis Park, in Saint Louis, Missouri. At the base of the hill to the right is Tamm Avenue Spring, which is well-lit at night, has masses of floral plantings, park benches, and stone bridges running across the tiny spring branch; the spring runs year-round and has a water temperature of about 60 degrees. In the background is the spire of Saint Gabriel the Archangel Church.


From Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam:

Options after excommunication—from STLtoday.

Fr. Bozek's web page from his former parish. [Note: this page is now offline. Here is the Google cache of the page.] I noticed that he studied theology at a state-run ecumenical academy (which includes Protestant, Old Catholic, and Orthodox, but not Catholic, viewpoints) and also studied Liberation Theology. I think St. Stan's may be heading into more severe trouble if Fr. Bozek assents to these views.

St. Stanislaus had an irregular parish organization under canon law for over a century, and the Archbishops have reportedly worked for decades to regularize the parish. Cardinal Rigali, while Archbishop of Saint Louis, started the latest round of negotiation with the parish.

Note: earlier I said that the church was in a rough neighborhood. That is no longer true. I visited the area today and saw that it is coming back to life again, with many new townhouse developments. The church and its outbuildings are in excellent condition. Pray for all involved so that unity is restored.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Photos of the Interior of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Here are some photos of the interior of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Please click on any photo for a larger version.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - nave
The nave of the Cathedral. The church exterior is in the sturdy Romanesque style, while interior is lined with mosaics and is in the Byzantine style. Eastern Christians call the gold background of the mosaics "the light". While this church proclaims the glory of God, we must also serve each other. "Please help the poor."

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - All Saints Chapel
All Saints Chapel.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Window in All Saints Chapel
Window in All Saints Chapel.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - pulpit
The pulpit.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Sanctuary dome
The Sanctuary dome. It contains mosaics of the Apostles.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - south rose window
The south rose window.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Mosaics on the ceiling of Our Lady's Chapel
Mosaics on the ceiling of Our Lady's Chapel.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - ambulatory
East ambulatory. The red ceiling continues into the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and signifies Christ's blood.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Walkway around the perimeter of the east transept
Walkway around the perimeter of the east transept.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - baptismal font
The baptismal font, located in the east transept.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Station of the Cross
A Station of the Cross. Jesus falls the third time. The Stations are located high up in the transepts.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - confessional
A confessional in the east transept.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - west transept
The west transept. The mosaics in the transepts were the last to be completed, these done in 1988.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Mosaic of an angel
Mosaic of an angel in the west transept.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - column capital
A detail of a column capital.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - tombs of the bishops
Under the church are the tombs of the bishops of Saint Louis.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - front door of the Cathedral
The center front door of the Cathedral.

For more photos of the cathedral, see my article Photos of Some Side-Chapels of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

Korean Cloning Results Apparently Faked

See the article American Co-Author Wants His Name Off Stem Cell Paper, By Nicholas Wade, published December 14, 2005. Note that this link requires registration on the New York Times web site.
After several days of serious accusations about the validity of a prominent article on the cloning of human cells, the senior author, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, has asked for his name to be removed as co-author, the editors of the journal Science said yesterday...

The report was hailed as the first step toward the goal of treating people with their own tissues, generated through embryonic cells...
However, many of the photos in the article proved to be duplicates or photos of different parts of the same cell culture. Also, DNA analysis of supposedly different stem-cell lines were actually identical. This would indicate that the researchers failed to do what they had claimed.
If this were true, critics say, the paper would not have any evidence that the cell colonies came from the donors or that Dr. Hwang ever performed any successful nuclear transfer experiments...

The promise of Dr. Hwang's Science paper is that it seemed to make the long-sought goal of therapeutic cloning quite practical by using only 10 or so human eggs per patient, compared with the 242 used in his 2004 experiment. If the article should turn out to have been fabricated, it would "give a black eye to science in general," Dr. Gearhart said.
Science, according to Aquinas, is a virtue of the intellect, which attempts to conform the intellect to reality. Lying does not serve science. However, this scientific research is immoral, since it involves the killing of human embryos.

Thanks go to Dr. Robert Onder—physician, bioethics lecturer, and good friend—for sending me this link.

NOTE: Here is the researcher's response to accusations of fraud, from Reuters: South Korean scientist denies faking cloning study.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

John Cassian on Fasting

John Cassian (ca. 360 - ca. 435) introduced Eastern monasticism into the West. One of this books, the Institutes (written about 425-428) discusses the way of life of monks in Egypt, and includes chapters on the eight principal vices.

In the Advent and Christmas seasons, gluttony is one of the most well-practiced of the vices. Cassian has quite a bit to say about fasting:
  • There is no single standard for fasting that applies to everybody. Age, sex, sickness, and individual constitution all need to be considered.

  • Virtues are not evenly distributed among persons, and that includes the practice of fasting.

  • We do have a shared goal, however: the avoidance of overeating and filling our stomachs.

  • A single day's fast is more beneficial for purity than those extended over longer periods. This is because the break-fast meal may be too large causing listlessness and sloth; also extreme hunger can cause sluggishness in the spiritual exercises.

  • A plain diet of either greens or bread may not agree with everyone, so some variation among persons is expected.

  • We are also not to be led astray by the pleasures of the palate.

  • Both the variety of food and the quantity eaten can lead to unchastity.

  • Wine leads to drunkenness, but also too much water or any kind of food can lead to a drowsy, stupified mind.

  • Cassian says that the Sodomites got on their path of destruction by eating a surplus of bread. Gluttony is a simple, common vice that can lead to much greater evil.

  • Food is needed to support life. It is not for making us slaves of our desires. We need to eat moderately enough to sustain health.

  • Delicate foods are permissible if they are healthy and taken in moderation.

  • Stop eating while you are still hungry.

  • Fasting will not make you holy. Other virtues are also required for purity: humility and lack of a desire for money; and freedom from anger, despair, self-esteem, and pride.

  • Fasting and self-control can purify a person who has restraint and moderation.

  • Chastity is difficult with a full stomach.

  • A person who gives in to bodily desires is a slave; freedom comes from self-control.

  • Control of gluttony is similar to the preliminary contests that decides who gets to compete in the Olympic Games. The Christian athlete, like the Olympic athlete, must first of all control his own flesh.

  • We gain control of our stomachs not only through fasting, but by hard work, keeping vigils, and spiritual reading, as well as the fear of Hell and the desire for Heaven.

  • The person who fasts must only eat at fixed times, and never at any other time. He should also get an adequate amount of sleep.

  • A person who fasts needs to simultaneously do a spiritual fast, where anger, envy, and slander are to be avoided.

  • The Egyptian monks would stop fasting at once if a visitor arrives and needs to eat. Charity to a fellow person is far more important than fasting, which can be done anytime.

  • Some monks made a practice of never eating alone, but only in community. This helps the practice of fasting.

  • Some never eat during daylight hours.
I am preaching to myself here!

These suggestions are suitable for most, but not all people. We also need to be aware of the problems of anorexia and related disorders. Here, fasting is taken to an extreme, and is not done in a prudent way. These disorders are a form of scrupulosity, and require an extraordinary amount of direction and treatment.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Subjective vs. Objective

Objectivism: 1. the tendency to lay stress on what is external to or independent of the mind. 2. Philosophy the belief that certain things, esp. moral truths, exist independently of human knowledge or perception of them.

Subjectivism: Philosophy the doctrine that knowledge is merely subjective and that there is no external or objective truth.

Oxford American Dictionaries

The culture war seems to be a battle between various ideologies, social classes, power blocs, and religious or irreligious groups, but it perhaps is better seen as a clash between individuals who hold to opposed world-views or philosophies. There are many sources of conflict; but a major one is the difference between the objective and subjective viewpoints.

The objective view sees that there are truths in the world outside of ourselves, and that we can perhaps know something about them, while the subjective views tend not to see universal truths but rather individual feelings and emotions.

René Descartes (1596-1650) (Latin: Cartesius) is famous because he developed the scientific method, analytic geometry, and subjective philosophy: "I think, therefore I am" is his familiar quote. Descartes' contribution came after centuries of intellectual chaos: the Protestant Reformation rejected philosophy altogether—it was linked with 'Romanism' and instead embraced a strict biblicism—and earlier the great Medieval universities were largely wiped out by plague and war. This was an age of doubt and uncertainty, much like the periods after the World Wars of the 20th Century, and led to philosophies of doubt and cynicism.

Both American liberalism and conservatism are largely based on subjective Cartesian reasoning, that takes 'I' as the starting point for action. It is this 'me' orientation that leads to both the desires of unfettered sexual freedom and unfettered business competition. This stands in contrast to the traditional Catholic view. based on external objective reality, which rejects purely subjective measures of morality, both in the personal and societal spheres.

However, a certain subjectivity is integrated into Catholic thinking: our relationship with reality is recognized as being mediated by our senses, including supernatural reality. We don't have a direct access to reality: we need to perceive it and reason about it before we can come to an assent of faith in the general sense. In the Catholic view, even revelation comes after reason; we can't have an intellectual understanding of revelation until after we have good reasoning. Grace builds upon this intellectual nature. But both liberal and conservative Christianity often claims direct access to the Holy Spirit, bypassing sense and reason. This kind of purely subjective thinking is evident in those who are moved by the 'Spirit of Vatican II' and in Evangelical groups who claim a unique supernatural understanding of Scripture. This traditional type of Catholic subjectivity, however, only takes sense and emotion as a starting point, not as an end, and reason must judge these senses and emotions. The common rule of thumb in Catholic thinking is that truth must not conflict with truth: therefore it rejects the statement "what is true for me is not true for you", and it also rejects faith reasoning that conflicts with itself or with science.

Traditional Catholic moral reasoning has both objective and subjective components. The moral law is objective and sits outside of us, but our subjective intentions and circumstances neccessarily affect the morality of any act. Therefore Catholic moral doctrine is neither absolutist nor relativist. Also, objective moral criteria are seen as being primary, and are not to be subdivided into various categories depending on circumstances or intentions. This stands in contrast to modern theories that take either situations or intentions as primary judges of morality: these theories will, by their nature, lead to social conflict.

Descartes' scientific method is subjective; we use repeated measurements under controlled conditions to determine reality. The scientific method cannot be proven to be a valid method of determining the truth, but it has been successful, so we do use it. The great theories in physics, however, do not use this Cartesian scientific method and instead use the older reasoning from basic principles, mediated by—but not strictly determined by—experiment. This is the main distinction between the 'hard' and 'soft' sciences: physics and chemistry start with universal laws of nature and make predictions from these laws; while social sciences assume a purely subjective viewpoint, and its theories have little predictive power. Only occasionally does our understanding of the universal laws of nature change—we call them paradigm shifts—but these are just developments of doctrine and not an overthrow of our understanding of truth. I suspect that the social sciences would have better results if they would incorporate Catholic Natural Law into its theories instead of the highly subjective results of the psychologists; likewise, mathematics has increased the objectivity of the social sciences.

Subjectivity is a fact—we can never come to any understanding outside of our senses, but we musn't stop there as do the modern philosophies. We have senses, but also reason, and reason can lead to an understanding of reality.

Not a Tame Lion

I saw The Chronicles of Narnia last night, and rate it 4-1/2 stars out of five: I highly recommend it.

A friend cried when Aslan the Lion was treated cruelly by the White Witch, although she didn't know why she was so sad.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Outdoor Mass at Black Madonna Shrine

On Saturday, December 10th at 5:30 p.m., an outdoor mass will be held at the Black Madonna Shrine.

The location will be at the Chapel in the Woods, or Lourdes Grotto, down below the main shrine area. Bring a candle, and perhaps arrive early to find the entrance while it is still light out.

See my article, Photos of Black Madonna Shrine and the Shrine webpage.

Online Poll for the Missouri Stem Cell Initiative

The Saint Louis Business Journal has a poll about the Missouri Stem Cell Initiative: I will spoil the results for you: the 'yes' vote is overwhelming. We have a culture that will kill for convenience and our own desires.

Website for Natural Family Planning

The Billings Method is one of the best known and effective methods of natural family planning. Here is their web site: This was featured on the Vatican Radio show One-O-Five Live on November 30th.

Just like anything worthwhile, the method requires diligence and self-discipline.

Vote for the Best Web Logs

I'm grateful to be a finalist.

Click here to vote

Thursday, December 08, 2005

First Snow of the Season

Today was the first snow of the season. We got a few inches. Here are little birds in my backyard at the feeder.

Don Ho Gets Stem Cell Treatment

Hawaiian singer Don Ho is recovering from a stem cell treatment for his heart condition.

What I didn't hear on the television was that this treatment was with adult stem cells taken from his own body. See this article: from the Associated Press.

He was not treated with embryonic stem cells, which are harvested from a killed human in an eary stage of development.

There is a big push to legalize embryonic stem cell treatment. See my article Stem Cell Television Commercials on the Air in Missouri. This is an attempt by the Culture of Death to devalue human life, for the sake of getting public money and for normalizing abortion and euthanasia.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Photos of the Church of the Holy Martyrs of Japan, in Japan, Missouri

The little village of Japan came into considerable publicity after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor [December 7th, 1941], and some Missourians began an agitation to change its name. It turned out that few of its inhabitants were aware of its connection with the enemy country, for down there the name is customarily pronounced as "JAY-pan" or "JAY-puhn,"...with the accent on the first syllable. The patriotic zeal of the agitators was further checked when the history of the name was brought to light. The village was actually named, not for the country at all, but for the old Catholic Church there which has been in existence for more than a century. The "Church of the Holy Martyrs of Japan," to give its title in full, was named for the twenty-six priests and lay brothers of Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese blood who were crucified for their faith on Feb. 5, 1597, in the great persecution that almost wiped out Japanese Christianity for the next three hundred years. When the pastor told its heroic story, the community decided to keep its name, which commemorated not only the savagery of the Japanese persecutors, but also the Japanese capacity for becoming saints and martyrs.
—Robert L. Ramsay, Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names

A painting of the martyrs inside of the church. The martyrs' feast day is held on February 6th, as the Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and Companions. Franciscans, Jesuits, and laymen were among the martyrs, who were crucified on the "Holy Mountain" overlooking Nagasaki. That area remained a center of Christianity for centuries, often practiced in secret. Nagasaki's cathedral was the target upon which an atomic bomb was dropped, ending World War II. The spread of Christianity is slow and difficult in Asia, because the deep-rooted fear of interfering with someone's karma makes the practice of charity difficult.

Here is Holy Martyrs of Japan Parish in Japan, Missouri. As these photos were taken, a couple was starting to decorate the exterior for Advent; to be included in the decorations were a large wreath for the church and a Nativity display.

The interior of the church is beautifully decorated and is in contrast to the plain exterior. The room is bathed in a yellow glow from the side windows. At the top of the sanctuary is a stained glass window, facing south.

The stained glass window.

The sunlight from the window falling on the floor. I would guess that this sunbeam will hit the medallion on the floor on or about the feast day of the church.

The Holy Family. "God's Grace in a Country Place".

The church is set among the tall native pines of the Ozarks.

The church address is:

8244 Hwy. AE
Sullivan, MO 63080

It is located about 66 highway miles southwest of downtown Saint Louis.