Friday, March 31, 2006

"the worst of the crisis is over"

See the article Church Sex Abuse Costs Rise Despite Drop in New Allegations.
"Karen Terry, a researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the vast majority of the abuse took place from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. There has been a sharp decline in the number of cases since the early 1990s, which an analysis indicates is not just a matter of a lag in reporting, she said."
Ah, the 1960s. Everything changed, from theology to liturgy. Hippie priests and nuns preaching 'love' (meaning sex), Marxist Catholics in Latin America, and soft, friendly youth ministers who really, really liked children led us to this mess. There is a nascent movement back towards holiness, as well as some Catholics finding a backbone.

Things will get worse before they get better, but this is to be expected.

New Benedictine Monastery in Nursia

Here is the website for the Monastery of Saint Benedict, Community of Maria Sedes Sapientiæ (Mary Seat of Wisdom), in Nursia, Italy: http://www.osbnorcia.org. In the year 2000, the monks returned to the birthplace of the holy twins, Saints Benedict and Scholastica. The walls of their crypt date back to a first century basilica.

Benedict and Scholastica were born in A.D. 480, just after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, and were born into a wealthy, noble family. Benedict was well-educated and could have lived the life of Roman nobility, but he became dissatisfied with the dissolute and licentious behavior of his friends and himself, instead he wanted solitude and holiness. Fleeing Rome, Benedict became a monk, but the world, attracted to his holiness, would not leave him alone: he eventually founded numerous monasteries and schools, and became famous for writing his Rule of monastic life.

Benedict was inspired by John Cassian, one of the Desert Fathers, who lived among the monks and hermits in the deserts of Egypt and in Bethlehem. Benedict applied the lessons learned in the desert, in a manner more suitable for Europe. Solitude, he teaches, is best done by those who have spent much time living in community, and these communities better serve the majority of monks.

The monastery website above features a vocational video in English, and I am impressed at the education of these monks—who could otherwise have very successful worldly careers. It seems hardly possible that men, living in an isolated, self-contained community, that spends five hours a day in vocal prayer, could be thought of as cosmopolitan. But like their founder, Benedictines have a love of learning, and reading makes up a significant part of every day. In many monasteries, sacred reading is done in the early morning hours as a part of the prayer of Matins, and also in the monks' cells, while lectors will often read secular material during mealtimes. I've been told that the monks of Saint Louis Abbey are some of the smartest people you'll ever meet.

The Rule of Saint Benedict describes a constitutional monarchy, ruled by an Abbot, who is elected by all of the monks. Religion is to be the main defense against tyranny. The entire community engages in open debate on great matters, while a council of elders decides day-to-day matters. Deans are assigned to oversee young novices, while trustworthy monks are assigned specific duties such as overseeing the kitchen, storeroom, and wine cellar. A good Abbot is essential for a good monastery, and many have failed due to poor governance.

The Rule is basically for a community of laymen living together in mutual charity. While there are ordained Benedictines, and sometimes Popes and bishops have tried to turn the Benedictines into something other than what the Rule demands— missionaries or parish staff, typically—the monastery is ultimately for the purpose of increasing personal holiness of the laity.

The Order of Saint Benedict (the initials O.S.B. are often used after member names) is not a religious order in the normal sense, with a central administration and hierarchy. Although abbeys can and do belong to greater fraternities of monasteries, many are independent and answer only to their local diocesan bishop, and otherwise are self-contained. The 'Order' in the Order of Saint Benedict instead comes from the Latin ordo, or rule in English. Monks do not take a vow of poverty, but instead take a vow to uphold the Rule. The Rule then states that all monks share property in common. Generally, a Benedictine will have a greater variety of clothing, food, wine, and common possessions than those belonging to mendicant orders.

Secularists who attempted to duplicate the Benedictine life without God have met with failure.

The two mainstays of monastic life are work and prayer, with prayer being called the Opus Dei or Work of God. Every monk is assigned various duties, within his ability, for the common benefit of the monastery, and every monk is required to join in community prayer, which takes anywhere from three to five hours a day.

The failure of monasteries is often due to great wealth or lack of prayer; or generally idleness. In the Middle Ages, some monasteries became so wealthy that monks were able to hire servants who did all of the manual labor for them. While this may be acceptable for other types of religious communities, especially for contemplatives or cathedral canons, it doesn't work well for Benedictines. Also since the 1960s the amount of prayer in some Benedictine communities has been reduced, or non-Christian prayers or spiritual practices were introduced, and this led to the dramatic decline and loss of large numbers of monasteries. However, the Rule of Saint Benedict does not multiply prayers, and only requires a reasonable amount of work, leaving some time for relaxation: it is not a strict order.

However, because the goal of the monastery is to increase sanctity and build virtue, it is not surprising that a monastery could eventually become wealthy. Benedictine monasteries in general aim to be givers, and not receivers, of alms.

The recovery of Latin and Gregorian chant is helping to strengthen the new Benedictine monasteries, and reverses the trend towards spoken vernacular prayer. Since the monastery noted above has members from all over the world, having a common language for prayer is a necessity, and Latin is well-suited as a liturgical, sung language. Gregorian chant has a noble simplicity that seemed to be nearly lost for the last several decades. Like the Divine Office itself, chant has roots that go back to ancient Israel. The current edition of the Divine Office for the Latin Rite, the Liturgy of the Hours, is notorious for its pop tunes, timidity, and reduction of the amount of prayer said during the week. The Benedictines however, have the right to use their own liturgy, so they can either improve upon or degrade the standard liturgy of the Latin Rite.

"I pity those who can't appreciate good music."

See the article from Anthony Tardiff, describing the sad state of addictive, but banal and harmful popular music. Anthony also tells that the Classical tradition of music is not gone, but is very much alive in the form of film soundtracks, which are often better than the movies they support.
Modern music is simplistic, banal, and boring. It's emphasis on rhythm means that it is directed at the lower passions. Even when the words are perfectly innocent, this kind of music is worthless, if not downright harmful. As I said, it is the musical equivalent to junk food—all fluff and no substance.
Thanks to Hilary.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"the necessity of forming a strategic alliance between the Orthodox and Catholics for the defence of traditional Christianity"

See the article Orthodox Participation in the Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches. I've long wondered why the Orthodox would want to be members of the WCC, which long has seemed to be just a mouthpiece of secular socialism. The Orthodox are wondering, too.
On the whole, the Orthodox delegates highly praised the efforts of the WCC to overcome the estrangement that arose between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox member churches of the Council in the 1990s. However, the positive measures taken could not stop the process that has already been in motion for several decades and which has acquired, in my opinion, an irreversible character. I am speaking of the gradual and ever more obvious division between the "Churches of Tradition", i.e. Churches in which Tradition plays a central role (mainly the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches), and churches in which the adherence to Tradition is not considered obligatory and in which a liberalization of dogmatic and moral doctrine can be observed over the past decades. In particular, fundamental Christian moral norms based not only on Holy Tradition, but also on Holy Scripture, have undergone re-examination. One of the most visible results of this process has been the recognition of "homosexual unions" in some of the Protestant churches of Europe and North America.

All of this has caused me time and time again to return to the thought of the necessity of forming a strategic alliance between the Orthodox and Catholics for the defence of traditional Christianity. No ecumenical organization, including the WCC, can turn back the process of continual liberalization of the Protestant churches of the North and their further estrangement from the "Churches of Tradition". In defending traditional values the main ally of the Orthodox Church is the Roman Catholic Church. But the latter is hardly represented in the World Council of Churches.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Photo of Saint Francis de Sales School


A.D. 1888

School building belonging to Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Psychological Experimentation and the Ruination of Culture

Here is a link to a famous article from 1994 about how psychological experimentation ruined a number of Catholic religious orders. Lest we forget...
"The IHMs had some 60 schools when we started; at the end, they had one. There were some 560 nuns when we began. Within a year after our first interventions, 300 of them were petitioning Rome to get out of their vows."
"How I Wrecked the IHM Nuns"—The story of a repentant psychologist, an interview with Dr. William Coulson.

And a much more conspiratorial article from 1999: Carl Rogers and the IHM Nuns: Sensitivity Training, Psychological Warfare and the "Catholic Problem".
"Once the war against fascism was won, the WASP establishment turned its attention to its main demographic and political domestic opponent, namely the Catholic Church. If the WASP establishment which was instrumental in the creation and prosecution of psychological warfare was locked in a knock-down drag out political struggle with the Catholic Church over sexual and demographic issues, then it would stand to reason that they would use the former technique as a way of solving what they perceived as the latter problem.

This meant dealing with Catholic education, which was the Church’s most effective antidote to the “socialization” offered by the John Dewey-inspired public schools.

[T]he fact that the economic structure of Catholic schools is threatened with collapse by the growth of modern liberalism among young Catholic women. The Catholic school system is essentially an enterprise of nuns who work without salaries. If the supply of nuns should be cut off, the system would rapidly disintegrate...

In order to destroy the Catholic school system and thereby cripple the influence the Catholic Church had in American politics, Blanshard wanted to make sure that young Catholic women were “reared in the free and hearty atmosphere of modern America,” which meant sending them to the increasingly sexualized public schools."

And from the article The Role of Psychology in Current Educational Reform, from 1997:
Under a Rogerian regimen, he said, his students had "lost the traditional Jewish respect for knowledge, learning, and teachers," which meant, he said, "a generation of lousy professionals, since you can't learn medicine or plumbing or chemistry by T-grouping, or by 'discussion,' or by yourself."

All alike surely meant to do good, much like today's DARE officers, who apply Rogers' early methods in three-quarters of the nation's school districts. DARE means "Drug Abuse Resistance Education." DARE officers receive two weeks of training. An article distributed in training commends the Rogerian approach: "DARE never tells students, 'Don't use drugs.' Not once, in the course of seventeen lessons, does the DARE officer ever say, ‘Don't use drugs.’ Instead it works on developing the self-esteem that makes it easier to say 'no'."...The effect on suburban DARE students in Illinois was: students used more drugs, were more violent, and had a more negative attitude toward police than non-DARE students.

And another article from William Coulson: FALLACIES OF NONDIRECTIVE EDUCATION
"In schools across America, time is taken from academics to provide children with drug education, suicide education, and sex education courses; the promise is to reduce or eliminate personal experimentation with drugs, sex and suicide. That promise is false. Follow up research shows increased drug use and sexual activity after the typical classroom exercises; and from the popular "death and dying courses," there are preliminary indications that this kind of education also leads to a greater likelihood of violence against the self. The education is called "nondirective" or "affective." Teachers are instructed to withdraw to the position of "facilitator," offering students "reflective listening" and nonjudgmental acceptance instead of confident instruction. Gradually the most undisciplined children begin to take over: parked in what one commercial curriculum purveyor proudly calls "conversation circles" (a kind of enforced friendship), the experimenters among the student body begin to teach the inexperienced how to become more experimental. It's like persuading the class there's no need to take the problems of drugs, violence and premarital sex very seriously: what's needed instead is principally to uncover feelings-this instead of being instructed."

Photo of Saint Raphael Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri

Saint Raphael Church is in the Saint Louis Hills neighborhood of the city, and the parish dates from 1950. The church has a tau cross interior, with the sanctuary in the transept.


Saint Raphael the Archangel Church at dusk.



The school.

Address:
6000 Jamieson Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63109

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Development of the New Theology

The Catholic Church traditionally considers A.D. 1274 as the start the Modern Era, for in that year was the death of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the great Medieval theologian and philosopher. Things went downhill after that period: plague, civil war, philosophical skepticism, confusion over authority, and lack of stable leadership eventually ended the great medieval civilization, and instead led to the era of the domination of nature, political totalitarianism, and heresy, the era in which we still live.

Orthodox philosophy, which reached a high point by the works of Aquinas, and which was paralleled by thinkers in Judaism and Islam, came under attack after his death. William of Occam's philosophy of Nominalism, which in its most extreme expression, stated that words are mere "vocal flatulence", corresponded with his idea that Church must be absolutely poor, and that civil authorities should have total worldly power and must be completely independent of religion. Then the Black Death killed off most of the university scholars, ending the professional study of philosophy for centuries. Nominalism, the philosophy of meaninglessness, leads to our current philosophy of postmodernism.

Greater wealth in the 15th century, coupled with moral doubt, led to the renaissance of classical humanistic learning. The great spiritual schools of philosophy started by Socrates were denigrated in favor of the ancient worldly philosophers, who either grasped for power or who were merely coping under powerlessness. The leadership of the Church became highly secularized and corrupt, while the people remained faithful: this led to the Reformation. We must note however, that Luther was a Nominalist, and this is reflected in the wildly chaotic character of Protestantism today. The same tendency is seen in progressive Catholicism also.

Humanism as practiced after the Renaissance became divorced from religion; in fact today we hear of people calling themselves "spiritual, but not religious". Depending ever less on the Faith, these new humanists instead moved towards an abstract deism. However, we musn't assume—that because of the divorce between faith and reason—that these humanistic doubters left religion alone, but instead some intended to subvert and transform religion as they desired. Instead of letting religion influence life and philosophy, these new men changed religion according to their philosophy, using religion as just one more method of amoral social control.

The philosopher Hegel revolutionized Europe in the 19th century. He has a model of the progress of history, where competing worldviews eventually join to create a greater system, which in turn is opposed by a new worldview. This is called the dialectic of Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis. The New Theology comes from this intellectual framework. Where we should be concerned is that this philosophy is the intellectual basis for the greatest amount of the shedding of blood in the history of the world: right-wing Hegelianism led to the Nazis, and left-wing Hegelianism led to Communism. Nevertheless, Hegel was an optimist, always seeing things getting better and better.

The Historical-Critical method of Bible exegesis is based on Hegel. This method proposes that there was a Thesis (Jewish thought as actually taught by Jesus, and not what is written in the Bible), that opposed Greek thought as taught by Paul (the Antithesis), and they joined together to form a Synthesis, which is John's community of followers. This is in contrast to the Catholic interpretation of the Gospels, which proposes a continuity from Old Testament times to the present, and a constant effort to keep God's People united.

Ultimately, this doubt thrown on Scripture led to the idea that only individual personal experience can lead to theological insight, that there is nothing specifically revelatory about Christianity or Judaism. So they stripped Christianity of Greek philosophy, the remnants of Catholicism, and even Christ Himself. God was seen as both being unknowable and yet immanent, and individual revelation is equal in authority to the Bible and Tradition. It was an optimistic religion with a belief in an inevitable progress of history. This was the state of Liberal Christianity in Germany before the rise of the Nazis: faith was lost, yet the people had great self-esteem. They assumed that people were good and progress inevitable. Christianity had been turned into a New Age pantheism, and this led quite naturally to the mystical New Age pantheism of the Nazis. Modern historians tend to ignore this pseudo-religious aspect of Nazism and see Hitler as an unexplainable aberration, with the equally atrocious Communists being seen as the only viable alternative to Fascism. However, these same errors had nearly taken over the Catholic Church since the 1960s. We need to reflect on our own pantheistic New Age culture, and where it might lead.
I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom:
Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine.
For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears:
And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.
But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober.
—2 Timothy 4:1-5

Sister Eva-Maria's Blogs on Vocations

Sister Eva-Maria, FSGM, is a Franciscan in Saint Louis who has two blogs on vocations: Stewards of God's Mysteries and Starting Afresh from Christ. She is the director of the Office of Consecrated Life in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and is one of the two thousand Sisters of Saint Francis of the Martyr Saint George, a hospital order whose American province is based in Alton, Illinois.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"It is not a medium that respects its audience"

It had to be said, finally:
My advice: don't watch movies, ever. You will be happier, healthier, smarter, and probably holier for it. And stop wasting so much time and effort trying to decipher which movies are "okay" for Catholics to watch, or investing in the sanctification of a medium that is inherently flawed artistically. If Catholics were to devote the time, money, and intellectual energy that they spend on movies, television and rock music to authentic culture and noble art forms, the Church and the world would be enormously bettered.
From The Lion and the Cardinal.

Since the 1960s the film industry tells us that we must accept the theory of "art for art's sake" when judging film, and this same attitude has been taken by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose film reviews tend to make too much of "artistic merit".

We have forgotten that aesthetics are ultimately a form of moral judgment.

"Canada Refusing to Offer Asylum to Persecuted Christians"

See this article: Canada Refusing to Offer Asylum to Persecuted Christians from LifeSite.
Despite the reluctance of the IRB [Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada] to offer asylum to persecuted Christians, refugees claiming homosexual persecution are assured of finding protection in Canada.
Abdul Rahman is threated with execution for his conversion from Islam to Christianity.
If he recants, he will be "forgiven," said trial judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah.

"We will invite him again because the religion of Islam is one of tolerance. We will ask him if he has changed his mind. If so we will forgive him,"
It seems that Afghanistan and Canada have the same definition of the word 'tolerance'.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Photos of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Saint Mary) Church, in Madison, Illinois

Here are photos of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Saint Mary) Catholic Church,in Madison, Illinois. This is one of two churches of the combined parish of Saint Mary and Saint Mark. It is about 6-1/2 highway miles northeast of downtown Saint Louis.

The church is in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. For more information, see the Catholic-Hierarchy website.

This was originally a Polish Franciscan parish, and reflects the heavy Eastern European immigration into this area about a century ago. Two Eastern Christian churches—one Catholic, one Orthodox—are only a few blocks from this church.


Round churches are very rare; other examples in the area include Little Flower in Richmond Heights, Missouri, and Saint Anselm in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

Some round churches are patterned around the design of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In the Renaissance, many Marian churches were designed in the round, for the circle has pure geometry and is a symbol of femininity. This probably comes from the round Pantheon in Rome, once a pagan temple to all of the Roman gods, which has been 'baptized' as the Church of Saint Mary of the Martyrs. Some round churches built since the 1960s have the altar in the center, which comes from the theological emphasis of the immanence of God. Sometimes this can lead to pantheism.



Crucifix at the top of the dome. The anchor-cross is one of the most ancient symbols of Christianity, dating from the first century.




The parish office.



"THIS IS THE HOUSE OF GOD"
"THE GATE OF HEAVEN", one of the titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary



The altar is to the side of the church.



The interior of the dome, showing the skylight. Our climate and modern sensitive attitudes tend to work against the idea of having an oculus open to the sky.

This is a bad photo. Although it's hard to see, the choir was practicing on the other side of the church.



Eucharistic adoration was going on at the time of this photo, worshipers were off to the side, out of the frame of this photo. Later they prayed the Rosary.

I was able to meet with a number of people of this church. Sister Mary Clare, O.P., told me of the structure of the parish, the correct Polish pronunciation of "Czestochowa", and how the round design of this church differs from Little Flower. Some ladies of the choir told me the history of the area, and locations of nearby churches.



Statue of a Franciscan.



Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament.



Side aisle, which goes entirely around the circumference of the church. Actually, the color of the tile is the same throughout the church, although it looks quite different in this photo. Whereas the eye will correct for differences in the color of lighting, the camera has difficulty.

The bronze door says "OLEA SANCTA", or Holy Oils.



"SIMON HELPS JESUS CARRY HIS CROSS".



The baptistery, located left of the main entrance.



Baptismal font.



Chapels of Mary, Jesus, and Joseph, located off of the side-aisle of the church. The chapels and baptistery form a Saint Andrew's cross, overlaying the circular plan of the church.



Sign with essential information.



Madison, Illinois, is home to United States Steel. Madison owes its existence to this steel mill, but automation and lower tariffs has greatly reduced employment here. Due to prevailing winds from the west, smokestack industries in the Saint louis area are placed in the Metro-East area. This vast steel mill is located on the northern edge of town, and sits on the edge of Horseshoe Lake, in the American Bottom floodplain of the Mississippi River. A levee protects this region from the river, but it was very nearly overtopped during the Great Flood of 1993.

Only a few blocks from here is Saint Mary's Greek Catholic Church.

Address:

1621 10th Street
Madison, IL 62060

Photo of Holy Trinity Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church, in Madison, Illinois



Here is Holy Trinity Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church, in Madison, Illinois. It is one of the earliest Bulgarian Orthodox churches built in the United States.

The Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch tell us that we need to pray for the healing of the schism and for the unity of Christendom.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006

Medieval Church History Radio Series Available Online

Fr. Michael Witt, Associate Professor in Church History at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, has a new series on medieval church history, originally broadcast on Covenant Network, AM 1080 and AM 1460 in Saint Louis, Missouri. Live streaming broadcasts can be found at that site. The series is aired on Fridays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Central Time.

This new series starts with the fall of the Roman Empire in the West and the political ascendency of the Germanic tribes.

Fr. Witt's previous series on modern church history is also available online. It begins with the death of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and continues to the present day.

The audio recordings, in Windows Media format, can be found at http://www.michaeljohnwitt.com.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Photo index now available

On the sidebar is an index to Saint Louis church photos.

Photos of Saint James the Greater Church, in Saint Louis, Missouri

Saint James the Greater Church is the center of the historically Irish neighborhood of "Dogtown" in Saint Louis, Missouri. Dogtown has been the site of the Ancient Order of Hibernian's Saint Patrick's Day parade for the past twenty years. Unlike the secular downtown parade, always held on a weekend, the Dogtown parade keeps its Catholic character. The organizers also keep aware of the actual conditions and politics in Ireland. Before the parade, Mass is held in this church.

Click here of a comprensive history of Dogtown.


Knights of Columbus guard the procession into the church. The mass was standing room only, featured Irish hymns, and prayed for the re-Christianization of Ireland and reunion with the North.

Once the preserver of classical antiquity, source of missions, and the most Catholic nation in Europe, Ireland has recently become highly secularized, trading money for the Faith. One of the last three Jesuit churches in that country is being sold for 4 million euros.



The church is in the late Gothic style. Originally it was to have a massive tower over the transept, but due to lack of funds, instead has a Gothic flèche. This spire is illuminated at night and can be seen for miles.



The nave of the church, looking towards the sanctuary.



The sanctuary. Behind the altar is a tapestry tryptich, with Christ the King in the center, and Saints on the sides.



Detail of the tapestry behind the altar. It depicts Christ as King, the sovereign who rules over all worldly powers.



The sanctuary lamp is suspended over the altar by a chain.



A statue of Saint James the Greater, an Apostle of Christ, who with John his brother was one of the "sons of thunder", known for great evangelical zeal and fiery temper. He is known as "Greater" because he was taller than the other Apostle James. He was the first martyr of the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in A.D. 44. James' accuser's regret over this death led to the conversion of Saint Clement of Alexandria.



Relic of the Saint. The lettering says "S. Jacobus Ap.". The major site of his relics is in Spain, and is a famous and ancient pilgrimage destination.



Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The original version of this Byzantine icon came from Crete. Although this is an Eastern painting, it shows the influence of Franciscans, who introduced the portrayal of the Virgin Mary as a woman of sorrows. The color of her robes is the royal purple, reserved exclusively to the Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire, and which is where we get the color of the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent.



A view of the nave to the side.



Tapestry Stations of the Cross. Below these are children's drawings of the Stations.



A stained glass window.



The Baptistry, located in the back of the church near the main entrance. Traditionally, baptistries were located near the entrance (as a sign of entering the Church) or in a separate building, for privacy and solemnity.



Side-door into the church.



Cloister attached to the rectory.



The rectory.



Parade-goers wait in front of the parish school. Large numbers of shamrocks decorate the school windows.



The Dogtown neighborhood is marked by various styles of architecture. To the left are older brick shotgun houses, some with decorative facades; to the right are more recent split-levels.



A view of the church from about a mile from the southeast. The church is located near the summit of what was once called Dry Hill, one of the highest points in the city. Dogtown sits on the northern side of the valley of the River des Peres, and once was the site of numerous clay and coal mines, and was the center of a brickmaking industry.


Address:

401 Wade Ave.
St Louis, MO 63139


Parish web site: http://www.stjamesthegreater.org

"Dutch Convert to Islam: Veiled and Viewed as a 'Traitor'"

See this article from the Washington Post: Dutch Convert to Islam: Veiled and Viewed as a 'Traitor'.

A Dutch woman converts to Islam, wears the veil, and is verbally abused by her fellow countrymen.
On a recent winter afternoon, the wind tugged at her ankle-length taupe skirt, olive head scarf and black, rectangular face veil as she walked to her car from an Islamic prayer meeting in downtown Breda. Two blond teenagers on bicycles stared, their faces screwed into hostile snarls. Other passersby gawked. Some stepped off the sidewalk to avoid coming too near.
The Netherlands is very proud of its 'tolerance', but like many who use that term, are very intolerant of any who do not uphold liberal humanism, and that includes traditional religion, including Islam and traditional Catholicism.

The traditional virtue of tolerance is the prudential acceptance of some evil, in order to avoid a greater evil. We tolerate a little crime to avoid a police state. The redefinition of tolerance means ethical neutrality that affirms variant (or even deviant) behavior; but tolerance does not extend to those who do not agree with this.

Under the classical idea of tolerance, if Islam were considered evil, you could tolerate it, so as to avoid greater abuses. Suppose the State does not have this classical virtue of tolerance: it would then force religious conversion on these people, who would naturally harbor deep resentment. But this is being done now:
Immigrants must learn some Dutch, pass a history and geography test and, to get a feel for whether they can live in this society, watch a film on Dutch culture that includes two gay men kissing and a topless woman walking on a beach.
The first part of this requirement seems prudent and reasonable. The latter part, forcing the acceptance of immorality, is unjust. One of the great attraction of Islam for some Europeans is its strict moral code, which is very similar to traditional Catholic morality. This convert probably was attracted to Islam because of this moral code:
Without consulting him, she began reading books about Moroccan culture and Islam. Then she decided to read the Koran. "I felt like, 'This is it,' " said Frank, whose parents were divorced and who, like many teenagers, was searching for an identity.
The Communists were correct in attacking bourgeois values, for they were mere changeable convention, no longer rooted in first principles. This is quite unlike classical morality.

Europe got a large Islamic population because of the greed for cheap labor, because of Social Democrats' desire for support from a dissaffected oppressed class, and because greater affluence led many Europeans to despise certain jobs. This was certainly a mistake, and could be Europe's undoing. But the simultaneous loss of Europe's Christian character, with an imposition of secularism, now makes these Islamicists some of the few Godly people in a pagan, immoral land. Consequently, many Europeans, wanting balance, morality, and holiness in their life, are converting, for they see few alternatives. Certainly the Church is secularized and is usually not taken seriously anymore, having abandoned objective morality for subjective feelings. The Dutch Catholic bishops' Catechism of the 1960s is notorious for its abandonment of Christian doctrine and morality.

Secular Europe is unsustainable and vulnerable to great change in the future. Islam is growing quickly and out-breeding Europeans. Europe will probably try to buy the loyalty and secularization of these people, but Islam is a strong religion, and it might not work as well as it did with the liberal Christians. But Islam will attempt a transformation of society also, and will have an objectively valid reason for doing so: to save the Europeans from themselves. The benefits of traditional morality are overwhelming, and is required for having a good government based on free cooperation and not raw power. The choices for Europe are these: become a tyrannical represser of religion, with a minority ruling elite; regain its not-yet-forgotten Christian culture and morality; or accept Islam.

What will the Europeans choose? And if they fail to choose, what will happen?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Spring Has Sprung


Here are the first flowers I've seen out in the wild this year, with the exception of those grown by my sister-in-law, who seems to have the ability to grow cactus in a swamp and roses in the desert. Photo taken on March 10th in Forest Park.



Willows and redbuds are starting to leaf out here at Clifton Park in Saint Louis. It is located on the hills of the south bank of the River des Peres and is south of the Dogtown neighborhood.



Here are some berries, with an appropriate Lenten shade of violet.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!


Bagpipers at the Saint Patrick's Day parade in the Dogtown neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

"Bill affecting teaching of evolution advances"

See this article from STLtoday: Bill affecting teaching of evolution advances. The Missouri House of Representatives is considering a bill that would allow flexibility in teaching evolution in the public schools.

Click here to find text of bill and status.

This bill is sponsored by Robert Wayne Cooper, of Camdenton, Missouri, who was also the sponsor of House Bill 911, also on evolution, but which failed to pass in 2004.

The earlier Bill 911 was directly targeted to the study of evolution, and was to evolutionism as the Historical-Critical Method is to Biblical studies: its intention was to create nothing but doubt and skepticism. It had a highly critical view of extrapolation of data, and the unverifiability of certain types of hypothesis. This is an example of faith telling science "we can play the same game, too!"

The new bill has a more general approach.
Information representing scientific thought such as theory, hypothesis, conjecture, speculation, extrapolation, estimation, unverified data, consensus of scientific opinion, and philosophical belief shall be identified to distinguish it as separate from verified empirical data
This is a good start. However, the next paragraph is a bit more problematical:
Teacher classroom instruction shall use the following best practices to support the objective teaching of scientific information and minimize dogmatism while promoting student inquiry, healthy skepticism, and understanding
Unfortunately, I see two loaded terms here, "dogmatism" and "skepticism".

The term "dogmatism" is usually used when describing the Catholic Church, which is an explicitly dogmatic religion. "Dogma" comes from the Greek word for "opinion", but is used specifically by the Church as the equivalent of an "axiom" in mathematics. Evolutionism is clearly dogmatic, since it assumes the dogmas of materialist monism and atheism. Intelligent Design is clearly theistic, although it does not assume the dogma of matter-spirit dualism found in the Abrahamic religions, and could be monistic also. If you want to be consistent in your thinking, you have to use dogmas, and if you don't want consistency, you have to dogmatically assert why consistency is bad.

"Skepticism", according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "is a systematic denial of the capacity of the human intellect to know anything whatsoever with certainty." This is certainly dangerous and why typical Catholic thinking would probably be against a bill like this. Skepticism hurts both faith and reason. It also reinforces the current American notion of "separation of Church and State", by assuming a vast, unbridgeable divide between faith and reason. This situation can only support either atheism or fundamentalism, and which is why usually only atheists and fundamentalists get this worked up about the teaching of evolution in schools. Catholics take a more reasoned approach to the subject, not denying either natural process nor divine providence.

There is an alternative to skepticism, and it is called orthodoxy, which is Greek for "right reason". That notion was invented by Socrates, and is part of the long western philosophical tradtion that extends through Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Aquinas, and, to a lesser degree, Existentialism, through to the present day. When we speak of orthodox Christiany, Judaism, or Islam (and not Modernistic versions of those religions) we specificially refer to the Socratic notion of orthodoxy; that is why they are called "orthodox". All three religions have integrated the same philosophical tradition of orthodoxy into their thinking. Under orthodoxy, faith and reason, science and religion, are reconciled and integrated. This is a very dangerous notion for the Modernists.

An orthodox philosophical approach to education would be disastrous for the status quo.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"A Ramble of Six Thousand Miles through the United States of America"

In 1832, Englishman S. A. Ferrall published a book, A Ramble of Six Thousand Miles through the United States of America. Here is an exerpt of his travels in the Saint Louis area, starting on the flood plain on the east side of the Mississppi River, just across from the city.


From Lebanon we proceeded across a chain of hills, and came in on a beautiful plain, called the "American bottom." Some of those hills were clear to the summit, while others were crowned with rich foliage. Before us, to the extreme right, were six or seven tumuli, or "Indian mounds;" and to the left, and immediately in front, lay a handsome wood. From the hills to the river is about six miles; and this space appears evidently to have been a lake at some former period, previous to the Mississippi's flowing through its present deep channel. Several stagnant ponds lay by our road; sufficient indications of the presence of disease, which this place has the character of producing in abundance. The beauty of the spot, and the fertility of the soil, have, notwithstanding, induced several English families to settle here. Their houses are built of brick, and their gardens and farms are laid out and fenced tastefully.

After traversing the wood, we at length came in sight of the Mississippi, which is here about three quarters of a mile broad. There is a steam ferry-boat stationed at this point, (opposite St. Louis), the construction of which is rather singular. It is built nearly square, having in the middle a house containing two spacious apartments, and on each side decks, on which stand horses, oxen, waggons and carriages of every description.

St. Louis is built on a bluff bank. The principal streets rise one above the other, running parallel with the river; the houses are mostly built of stone, the bank being entirely composed of that material, the walls whitewashed, and the roofs covered with tin: from the opposite side it presents a very gay appearance. The ascent from the water's edge to the back of the town is considerable, but regular. The streets intersect each other at right angles, as do those of most American towns. They are much too narrow, having been laid down and built on from a plan designed by the Spanish commandant, previous to the Missouri territory becoming part of the United States. The population is estimated at six thousand, composed of Creole-French, Irish, and Americans.

St. Louis must, at some future period, become decidedly the most important town in the western country, from its local and relative situation. It is seated on the most favourable point below the mouths of two noble rivers, the Missouri and the Illinois, having at its back an immense tract of fertile country, and open and easy communication with the finest parts of the western and north-western territories. These advantages, added to the constant and uninterrupted intercourse which it enjoys with the southern ports, must ultimately make St. Louis a town of wealth and magnitude.

We visited General Clarke's museum, which chiefly contains Indian costumes and implements of war, with some minerals and fossils, a portion of which he collected while on the expedition to the Rocky mountains with Lewis; and also, two sods of good black turf, from the bogs of Allen, in Ireland. A sight which was quite exhilarating, and reminded me so strongly of the fine odour which exhales from the products of illicit distillation, that guagers and potteen, like the phantoms of hallucination, were presenting themselves continually to my imagination for the remainder of that day.

General Clarke is a tall, robust, grey-headed old man, with beetle-brows, and uncouthly aspect: his countenance is expressive of anything but intelligence; and his celebrity is said to have been gained principally by his having been the companion of Lewis to the Rocky mountains.

The country around St. Louis is principally prairie, and the soil luxuriant. There are many excellent farms, and some fine herds of cattle, in the neighbourhood: yet the supply of produce seems to be insufficient, as considerable quantities are imported annually from Louisville and Cincinnati. The principal lots of ground in and near the town are at the disposal of some five or six individuals, who, having thus created a monopoly, keep up the price. This, added to the little inducement held out to farming people in a slave state, where no man can work himself without losing caste, has mainly contributed to retard the increase of population and prosperity in the neighbourhood of St. Louis.

There are two fur companies established here. The expeditions depart early in spring, and generally return late in autumn. This trade is very profitable. A person who is at present at the head of one of those companies, was five years ago a bankrupt, and is now considered wealthy. He bears the character of being a regular Yankee; and if the never giving a direct answer to a plain question constitutes a Yankee, he is one most decidedly. We had some intention of crossing to Santa Fé, in New Mexico, and we accordingly waited on him for the purpose of making some inquiries relative to the departure of the caravans; but to any of the plain questions we asked, we could not get a satisfactory answer,—at length, becoming tired of hedge-fighting, we departed, with quite as much information as we had before the interview.

A trapping expedition is being fitted out for the Rocky mountains, on an extensive scale. The number of persons intended to be employed on this, is about two hundred. Teams for the transportation of merchandize and luggage are preparing, which is an accommodation never enjoyed before by trappers, as pack-horses have always hitherto been substituted. These waggons may also be found useful as barricades, in case of an attack from the Indians. The expedition will be absent two or three years.

A trade with Santa Fé is also established. In the Spanish country the traders receive, in exchange for dry goods and merchandize of every description, specie, principally; which makes money much more plentiful here than in any other town in the western country.

The caravans generally strike away, near the head waters of the Arkansas and Red rivers, to the south-west, close to the foot of the Rocky mountains—travelling above a thousand miles through the Indian country before they reach the Mexican boundary. These journeys are long and tedious, and require men of nerve and muscle to undertake them; the morasses and rivers which they have to cross—the extensive prairies and savannahs they have to traverse, and the dense forests to penetrate, are sufficient to subdue any but iron constitutions.

The countries west of the Mississippi are likely to be greatly enriched by the trade with Mexico; as, in addition to the vast quantities of valuable merchandize procured from that country, specie to a very large amount is put in circulation, which to a new country is of incalculable advantage. The party which lately returned to Fayette in Missouri, brought 200,000 dollars in specie.

The lead-mines of Galena and Potosi inundate St. Louis with that metal. The latter mines are extensive, consisting of forty in number, and are situated near the head of Big-river, which flows into the Merrimac: a water transportation is thus effected to the Mississippi, eighteen miles below St. Louis. This, however, is only in the spring and fall, as at other seasons the Merrimac is not navigable for common-sized boats, at a greater distance than fifty miles from its mouth. The Merrimac is upwards of 200 miles in length, and at its outlet it is about 200 yards in breadth.

The principal buildings in St. Louis are, the government-house, the theatre, the bank of the United States, and three or four Catholic and Protestant churches. The Catholic is the prevalent religion. There are two newspapers published here. Cafés, billiard tables, dancing houses, &c., are in abundance.

The inhabitants of St. Louis more resemble Europeans in their manners and habits than any other people I met with in the west. The more wealthy people generally spend some time in New Orleans every year, which makes them much more sociable, and much less brusque than their neighbours.

We visited Florissant, a French village, containing a convent and a young ladies' seminary. The country about this place pleased us much. We passed many fine farms—through open woodlands, which have much the appearance of domains—and across large tracts of sumach, the leaves of which at this season are no longer green, but have assumed a rich crimson hue. The Indians use these leaves as provision for the pipe.

We stayed for eight days at a small village on the banks of the Mississippi, about six miles below St. Louis, and four above Jefferson barracks, called Carondalet, or, en badinage, "vide poche." The inhabitants are nearly all Creole-French, and speak a miserable patois. The same love of pleasure which, with bravery, characterizes the French people in Europe, also distinguishes their descendants in Carondalet. Every Saturday night les garcons et les filles meet to dance quadrilles. The girls dance well, and on these occasions they dress tastefully. These villagers live well, dress well, and dance well, but have miserable-looking habitations; the house of a Frenchman being always a secondary consideration. At one of those balls I observed a very pretty girl surrounded by gay young Frenchmen, with whom she was flirting in a style that would not have disgraced a belle from the Faubourg St. Denis, and turning to my neighbour, I asked him who she was; he replied, "Elle s'appelle Louise Constant, monsieur,—c'est la rose de village." Could a peasant of any other nation have expressed himself so prettily, or have been gallant with such a grace?

Accompanied by our landlord, we visited Jefferson barracks. The officer to whom we had an introduction not being chez-lui at that time, we were introduced to some other officers by our host, who united in his single person the triple capacity of squire, or magistrate, newspaper proprietor, and tavern-keeper. The officers, as may be expected, are men from every quarter of the Union, whose manners necessarily vary and partake of the character of their several states.

The barracks stand on the bluffs of the Mississippi, and, with the river's bank, they form a parallelogram—the buildings are on three sides, and the fourth opens to the river; the descent from the extremity of the area to the water's edge is planted with trees, and the whole has a picturesque effect. These buildings have been almost entirely erected by the soldiers, who are compelled to work from morning till night at every kind of laborious employment. This arrangement has saved the state much money; yet the propriety of employing soldiers altogether in this manner is very questionable. Desertions are frequent, and the punishment hitherto inflicted for that crime has been flogging; but Jackson declares now that shooting must be resorted to. The soldiers are obliged to be servilely respectful to the officers, pulling off the undress cap at their approach. This species of discipline may be pronounced inconsistent with the institutions of the country, yet when we come to consider the materials of which an American regular regiment is composed, we shall find the difficulty of producing order and regularity in such a body much greater than at first view might be apprehended. In this country any man who wishes to work may employ himself profitably, consequently all those who sell their liberty by enlisting must be the very dregs of society—men without either character or industry—drunkards, thieves, and culprits who by flight have escaped the penitentiary, and enlisted under the impression that the life of a soldier was one of idleness; in which they have been most grievously mistaken. When we take these facts into consideration, the difficulty of managing a set of such fellows will appear more than a little. Yet unquestionably there are individuals among the officers whose bearing is calculated to inspire any thing but that respect which they so scrupulously exact, and without which they declare it would be impossible to command. The drillings take place on Sundays.

Near Carondalet we visited two slave-holders, who employed slaves in agriculture; which practice experience has shewn in every instance to be unprofitable. One had thirteen; and yet every thing about his house rather indicated poverty than affluence. These slaves lived in a hut, among the outhouses, about twelve feet square—men, women, and children; and in every respect were fully as miserable and degraded in condition as the unfortunate wretches who reside in the lanes and alleys of St. Giles' and Spitalfields, with this exception, that they were well fed. The other slave-holder, brother of the former, lived much in the same manner;—but it is necessary to observe that both these persons were hunters, and that hunters have nothing good in their houses but dogs and venison.

T—— having gone on a hunting excursion with our host, and some of his friends, B—— and I drove the ladies to the plantation of the latter gentleman. He had a farm on the bluffs, which was broken and irregular, as is always the case in those situations. Large holes, called "sink-holes," are numerous along these banks; the shape of them is precisely that of an inverted cone, through the apex of which the water sinks, and works its way into the river. Cedar trees grow on the rocks, and the scenery is in many places extremely grand. Wild-geese congregate in multitudes on the islands in the Mississippi, and at night send forth the most wild and piercing cries.

Our hostess was one of those sylvan Amazons who could handle any thing, from the hunting-knife to the ponderous axe; and she dressed in the true sylph-like costume of the backwoods. Her robe, which appeared to be the only garment with which she encumbered herself, fitted her, as they say at sea, "like a purser's shirt on a handspike," and looked for all the world like an inverted sack, with appropriate apertures cut for head and arms; she wore shoes, in compliment to her guests—her hair hung about her shoulders in true Indian style; and altogether she was a genuine sample of backwoods' civilization. We were placed in a good bed—the state-bed of course—and as we lay, paid our devotions to Urania, and contemplated the beauties of the starry firmament, through an aperture in the roof which would have admitted a jackass.

The proprietor assured us that his slaves produced him no more than the bare interest of the money invested in their purchase, and that he was a slave-holder not from choice, but because it was the prevailing practice of the country. He said he had two handsome Mulatto girls hired out at the barracks for six dollars per month each.

Memoir of a Pioneer Trappist Monk in North America

Book of Memoir is a short book by Father Vincent de Paul, a Trappist Monk who fled the French Revolution and settled in America. He hoped to live a quiet monk's life in a secluded monastery, but instead circumstances made him a missionary to the wide variety of peoples found on our continent.
The reverend Father Abbot, of La Trappe, Dom Augustin, (De Lestrange) foreseeing that Bonaparte would seek to destroy the communities existing in Europe, resolved on sending a party of his religious to America, in order that they might establish themselves there and preserve their monastic state.

In 1812, I, in company with two other brothers, was sent by him to the United States, there to found an establishment of our Order. We left Bordeaux on the 15th June, and on the 6th of the month of August we arrived at Boston. We had with us one of our Trappistines, whose object was also to found a community; with this intention she had preceded her companions, but now found herself alone, as passports were refused to the other sisters.
Father Vincent was offered 2000 acres for his monastery in Pennsylvania, but first he had to find the land:
Travelling through these immense and trackless forests was very difficult, and we often went astray.
We moderns complain about too much, I think.
We wished to find a little hut that we had built in the woods in which to sleep; nightfall was coming on, and there seemed no chance of finding our camp before sundown. I said to the child: "here is a low, flat rock, on which I will spend the night." He replied that if I remained there I should be devoured by the bears, of which there were a great number on these mountains; we had already heard their cries and hideous howlings. At length, thanks be to God, we found the cabin, which was not a very safe refuge for us, as it was only a little hut built of young trees. The two novices and I slept there like Indians, either on the bare ground or on couches formed by heaps of the branches of trees.

Having no provisions with us we were obliged for the first few days to eat what we could find in the woods, such as certain little blue berries that they call "bluets," and other wild fruits, which the people of the country despise....

I often said mass in our cabin. One day we made a cross and carried it in procession for nearly a mile: we sang psalms, and part of the way went barefoot, until we reached the spot where we planted the cross, which was our consolation and our safeguard, as there were in this desert a great number of rattlesnakes and other reptiles no less dangerous. When we left our retreat we would sometimes step upon them and would hear the noise that these serpents make with their rattles.
The land was unsuitable, and eventually the monks moved to Maryland:
We built a house for ourselves, which consisted of trees placed one upon another—what is called in this country a loghouse. It was small, being only eighteen feet long, and as many wide. We shortly commenced another which would serve as a chapel. The negroes of the country—who are all Catholics—gave us a helping hand in this work....
Maryland seemed at first a fine place:
Maryland produces an abundance of Indian corn, the cultivation of which is the chief work of the negroes. We subsisted almost entirely upon this food, with potatoes and occasionally bread; wheat, however, and buckwheat grow very well. We arrived there at the beginning of the year 1813, and during the winter we were occupied in cutting down trees and preparing the land for work in the spring, so that when that season arrived we had an acre and a half of land under cultivation. Part of this we planted with potatoes, another part was a garden where we sowed different vegetables, and we also laid out an orchard of young fruit trees.
Things were not what they seemed, however:
So far everything looked well, but when summer came, and while we were working most zealously we all fell ill with fever, and many of us were attacked with dysentery. I attribute these maladies to many causes,—first to the miasma or poisonous vapors exhaled from newly cleared land, then to the great heat and the bad water that we had to drink, which, though it had been pure enough in the winter and spring, had become bad by reason of a multitude of little insects that were perpetually drowning themselves in it. Another reason that contributed to render us ill was the number of different sorts of flies by which we were devoured day and night. There were among others two species of flies which in this country they call tics. Some of them are large, others are small, they fasten themselves to the skin and so penetrate into the flesh that one can only remove them by pulling them to pieces, even then a part remains and causes an insupportable itching.
Eventually, the monks had to leave America:
King Louis XVIII had been restored to the throne of France, and religion was being re-established in that country. Almost all our brothers were dispersed here and there throughout Europe, and it would be necessary to reunite them. Persuaded, besides, that he would receive more help in France than in the United States, and in short, reflecting that there would perhaps be more good to be done yet in the old world than in the new, (the Revolution having been the cause of such wickedness and having done so much harm) our Father Abbot decided that he and his community would return to France.
Father Vincent started on his journey:
About the middle of the month of May, 1815, our business being concluded, we left New York, and fifteen days later arrived at Halifax, without having experienced bad weather. After two week's delay in searching for another vessel, we at length found one, and by means of the recommendation of Mr. Burke, then pastor of the town, and since Bishop, we were taken on board with our seven trunks without being obliged to pay anything for our passage. The ship was a transport called the "Ceylon," and was delayed by contrary winds. The second day after we embarked the wind still being from a wrong quarter, I was stupid and imprudent enough to go ashore to see about some business that was not of grave importance—when lo! the wind veered round suddenly and became favorable. The ship sailed, but Father, Vincent remained and lost his passage!

I thus found myself alone in a strange country, and without means. I made every effort to discover some way of overtaking the ship, but in vain. It was impossible to do so, and I felt very sad at the thought of my brothers being carried so far away from me.

My Superior in France, to whom I made known this event, wrote to me that as God had permitted it, I could remain until farther orders, and occupy myself with the salvation of the Indians; for which object I accordingly labored up to the time of my leaving Nova Scotia, that is to say up to the month of October, 1823.

...we were only two priests for the town of Halifax and its suburbs, where there were many Catholics, without counting the Mic-macs, who are the Indians inhabiting Nova Scotia. These Indians were called to the Faith about four centuries ago. French priests or Jesuits coming at the peril of their lives, brought them the light of the Gospel. Many of these ministers of our Lord fell victims of their own zeal and charity, being murdered by this nation, then pagan and barbarous. Since these Indians became acquainted with the true religion they have never been known to conform to any other, but have preserved their firmness in the faith up to the present day in spite of the danger of perversion to which they are so often exposed, more especially since they have lived among the English....
This area kept the Faith until the 1970s, when government money and power seduced the people to live secular lives.

Here is an example of his mission circuit:
Tracadie was usually my starting place when I left for the Indian mission of Cape Breton. I had from eighteen to twenty leagues to journey by water, making long circuits and paddling round twelve or fifteen little islands, and passing near many others. Nevertheless it only takes one day to make the journey in a bark canoe, that is if the wind be not contrary. The Micmacs of the Cape (Breton) knowing that I was on the road and would soon arrive at the mission [Footnote: This place is called "Mission" or "The Mission of the Bras d'or," because it is there that the missionaries are accustomed to confess, baptize and administer the Sacraments to the Indians, and to those who present themselves to receive them. It is a pretty little island on which they have built a nice chapel, and a house sufficiently commodious for the priest.] would all gather there to the number of five or six hundred. On the occasion referred to above, three canoes came to meet us. (I was then accompanied by another missionary). This was to do honor to us, to show respect and gratitude. When we approached near to the island two of these canoes were sent on ahead to announce to the king that we would arrive immediately, The king had all his braves armed (for they all have guns) and the moment we landed he commanded them to fire, after which he formed them into two lines and made them kneel to receive our benediction; they then rose and we passed between them. They accompanied us to the church where we chanted the Te Deum, or rather it was chanted by themselves in thanksgiving for our arrival. This is about the ordinary ceremony to honor the arrival of a missionary. When the mission was opened, after having implored the light of the Holy Spirit, they all confessed, and a great number received Holy Communion. I made the Stations of the Cross partly in their own Micmac language....
But elsewhere in this colony things were not so good:
For some time I was the only missionary there, and obliged to traverse forty or fifty leagues by land and by sea. I found every where colonies who were Catholic, as well as many persons who were not. If some zealous priests would go to carry spiritual help to all these people who are in a measure abandoned, they would perform a great act of charity and win much merit; but they must be prepared to suffer many miseries, hunger, cold, persecution, poverty, &c, and to risk their lives often both on land and sea. The principal nourishment of the people of the country consists of potatoes and salt meat, water or spruce beer (biere de Pruche) is their ordinary drink. They love rum which is common enough, and is not expensive—but on the other hand it is dangerous and unhealthful to soul and body. A very small quantity of this liquor will make a man lose his reason, and quite inebriate him. It is this unhappy and deadly drink that ruins the Indians in this country as in all others.
Sadly, Enlightenment governments often use cheap booze as a way of keeping people pacified.

Father, however, loved the place:
...it is a healthy country, and one which produces all necessary grain and vegetables, such as wheat, bearded wheat, rye, kidney beans, beans, turnips, cabbage, potatoes, &c, and even good fruit, such as apples, pears and plums. As to the fruit, in some townships it is very good, in others it is small, while as to vegetables, potatoes succeed the best. These latter are very fine in Nova Scotia and in Cape Breton.

But what makes a good country?
A proof of the country not being a bad one is, that every one lives well there. Strictly speaking, there are no poor, for one never sees a beggar. It has been remarked that those who work well, and are rather industrious, live in comfort, without being exactly rich.
Father eventually came back to the United States. During this time of Lent, we are told the value of Lent's devotion, the Stations of the Cross:
When we arrived in America we found most Catholics well disposed. Their religion was obscured, but they seemed to be impressed with the first invitations or instructions that we gave them; of this they gave exterior proof, such as building churches, erecting crosses on the roadside, establishing Calvaries, and making the way of the cross, a devotion which touches the heart and bears excellent fruit. I, myself, have often been witness of the good effect produced by the Stations, and it is not long since one of my parishioners who was given over to drunkenness was completely converted after assisting at this devotion. He threw himself at my feet dissolved in tears, made his confession, and since that time he has always been extremely sober and filled with the fear of God. I often make the Stations in the different places where I go to hold missions, and as I have remarked a change for the better in the manners and in the amusements, the dancing, vanities, &c, of the people, I attribute it to the grace attached to the devotion of the way of the cross.