Greetings, and Welcome to The Small Shoppe

After the example of my Chestertonian mentor, Dr. R. Kenton Craven, I here offer my ponderings and musings for your edification and/or education.

You are welcome to read what is written here, and encouraged to do so. Appropriate comments may well be posted.

Michael Francis James Lee
The Not-so-Small Shoppe-Keeper

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ss. John XXlll & John Paul ll ~ The Coming Schism: Remember to Look Both Ways....

As we near the canonizations of Blesseds John XXlll & John Paul ll, I have heard and read many remarks as to a coming "schism" in the Church.  Many of those saying such things speculate that the schism will "come from the right."  

While I don't normally use "right" and "left" in reference to the Church, I'll indulge here, just this once: 

I think the schism will be well populated by people from both the right and the left. Many of these, from both extremes, are already in operative schism

The priest (name withheld) right here in my diocese, who still uses the previous translation of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite on weekdays, is no less in "schism," than the people I know who won't use the Luminous Mysteries because they claim that these came from "modernism." 

A pox on both their houses.  

The Catholic Church will remain as the splinters fall from the edges.  

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVl prophesied, we will become a smaller and more faithful Church.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wisdom From a 3rd Grader!

"gather the children in this wild country
and teach them what they should know for salvation."
Our Lady of Good Help, to Adele Brise, 1859
This took place last night (03.11.2014) in my Elementary Grade Catechism Class at St. Joseph Oratory in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  

I have 39 students in class.

We were discussing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, from Lesson 10 of the New Baltimore Catechism #1 (St. Joseph Edition).

As we discussed grace, we reviewed briefly how the life of grace can be darkened or destroyed in us by sin.  There was a question from one young man, "How do I know if I have a mortal sin."  So, we reviewed the 3 conditions which make a sin mortal: The matter must be gravely wrong, the sinner must know it is gravely wrong, and the sinner must give full consent of the will in committing the sin.

Then, as some still seemed unsure of what sins might be so grave as to be mortal, I asked for some examples of things that would, objectively, be gravely wrong.  We came up with most of the things you'd expect; murder, abortion, intentional physical injury of another (or of yourself), suicide, etc.

One answer, however, rather amazed me.

A young man, whom I will only identify by his first name, "Gus," said this:

"Like if you use a gun or something and force someone to give up the Catholic Faith, or do something so they have to give up being a Catholic or they'll die."

Yes!  To induce someone to abandon the Catholic Faith is a seriously grave matter! Objectively speaking, it is a mortal sin.

I was remarking to the class that I've never heard that answer from anyone in a Catechism Class before, nor even from adults in the many adult faith formation classes I've taught.  Then, I stopped myself and asked Gus, "What grade are you in?"  He smiled and said "Third."

I told him, "God has given you wisdom to say what you've said, and your angel has helped you to say it!"

Matthew 21:14-16 ~

"And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' they were indignant; and they said to him, 'Do you hear what these are saying?' And Jesus said to them, 'Yes; have you never read,
‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings
thou hast brought perfect praise’?”


Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Devil in the Common Core Details

"For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacence of fools destroys them;
But he who listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of evil."  Proverbs 1:32-33 (RSV-2CE)

As I prepare this post, the war over the so-called Common Core Curriculum is raging in the various states and school districts (public and parochial) throughout the country.

The protagonists tout the curriculum as being "more vigorous," (which seems code for "more controlled"), less "general," (also code for "more controlled"), and as an instrument to "prepare students for college and careers" (supposedly a novel idea; no curriculum has done this previously?).

The antagonists, unfortunately, are all over the map with their reasons for opposing the curriculum.  They typically point out an objectionable included book here, a politically left-leaning lesson plan and/or assignment there, and other such pieces of the pie which they find -- for one reason or another -- unpalatable.  However, what most do not do is to point out the proverbial devil in the details of the Common Core Curriculum.

The Common Core Curriculum is firmly based in the educational philosophy of John Dewey; empiricism.  In this educational philosophy, the thing of most importance is one's personal experience -- even at the expense of classical and long-tested lessons.

To illustrate, if Hamlet were to be read in a Common Core lesson, the things to be learned would not center on the long accepted moral lessons of this great work of Shakespeare.  
The emphasis would be on the individual student's experience of reading Hamlet.  An assignment might be to imagine you are Fortinbras -- and write a brief essay describing your experience of death in Hamlet.

Obviously, with several or more students, there would be several or more essays describing several or more experiences.  Under Common Core each experience will be affirmed as valid (or true) for that student.  An inescapable conclusion is "my experience is true for me."

The devil in the details of Common Core is that empiricism is the identical twin of moral relativism; "your truth is true for you, and my truth is true for me."  My personal experience, and your personal experience become the dictators of our personal morality, personal ethics, personal values, and personal norms.  There cannot really be any societal norms, nor any cultural mores.  Indeed, there can be no objective truth; personal experience trumps all.

The classics are not studied for their own merits in the Common Core.  The long held moral lessons enshrined in the classics are either ignored or severely downplayed.  After all, it would be wrong to force these preconceived ideas on children -- they must be taught to think critically -- or at least to do so according the definition of the Common Core Curriculum.

Complacence in the face of empiricism will destroy us.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Hidden Dangers of the "Pieta Prayerbook" ~ It's not as "Innocent" as it looks....

I know that some of my Facebook Friends and some of my In Real Life Friends will find this difficult to read.  Please know that I am a former devotee of the "Pieta Prayerbook" as well.  Since my return to the Catholic Church in 2007, I have been extremely vigilant against anything that may sew the seeds of disobedience or rebellion.  Most such things are subtle; that is how Satan often works.  He leads us astray with things that seem good, innocent, even holy.  Sometimes, these things look so good and so holy that we "cut them some slack" if they're just a "little bit disloyal" to the Church.

The Pieta Prayerbook exists in direct violation of a decision rendered in 1954 with the approval of His Holiness Pope Pius Xll, that the so-called 15 promises made to St. Bridget are not of supernatural origin, and are not to be published nor disseminated.  

As if this were not reason enough for faithful Catholics to avoid this book, it also contains unapproved private revelations presented as facts.

So "What's the big deal?"  The acceptance and use of this book breeds disloyalty, disobedience, and rebellion.  It introduces confusion among the faithful.  It is the responsibility of the Teaching Authority of the Church to rule on matters of faith and morals; and this is for an important reason: Satan is out to destroy the Church - cf: Revelation 12: 17.  He will do this by trying to separate the sheep from the shepherd.  To separate us, he will teach us to trust our own judgment over that of our shepherd.  He will teach us first to disregard, then to disobey, then to rebel.

Please read the following carefully.  I offer this out of serious concern for the souls of many of my Catholic friends who are innocently being led astray by the use of this so-called prayerbook.  Feel free to contact me directly with any questions.

               ACTA APOSTOLICAE SEDISSUPREMA SACRA CONGREGATIO S. OFFICIIMONITUM
In aliquibus locis divulgatum est opusculum quoddam, cui titulus "SECRETUM FELICITATIS - Quindecim orationes a Domino S. Birgittae in ecclesia S. Pauli, Romae, revelatae", Niceae ad Varum (et alibi), variis linguis editum.
Cum vero in eodem libello asseratur S. Birgittae quasdam promissiones a Deo fuisse factas, de quarum origine supernaturali nullo modo constat, caveant Ordinarii locorum ne licentiam concedant edendi vel denuo impremendi opuscula vel scripta quae praedictas promissiones continent.
Datum Romae, ex Aedibus S. Officii, die 28 Ianuarii 1954.Marius Crovini, Supremae S. Congr. S. Officii Notarius

(Translation into English)

                                     Acts of the Holy See  Congregation of the Holy Office  Warning
In some places, a certain little work has been disseminated called the "Secret of Happiness: 15 Prayers Revealed by the Lord to St. Bridget in the Church of St. Paul at Rome", published at Nice and various other places in several languages. Since it is asserted in this pamphlet that God made to St. Bridget certain promises, whose supernatural origin in no way stands up, let local ordinaries take care not to grant permission for publishing or reprinting pamphlets or other writings which contain these aforementioned promises.

Given at Rome, from the offices of the Holy Office, 28 , January 1954 Marius Crovini, Notary of the Supreme Holy, Congregation of the Holy Office 

Some recent publications of the promises (cf: the “Pieta Prayerbook”) have made various claims about past popes approving their publication, however, such claims are quite false. No authentic records of such approvals of the promises themselves exist. It should be noteworthy that it is for this very reason that the “Pieta Prayerbook” does not now, and cannot, carry either the Imprimatur nor the Nihil Obstat.

THERE IS A GOOD, PROPER AND APPROVED BOOK! The book titled “The Magnificent Prayers” is published by TAN publishers. The inside front pages provide an explanation as to why TAN published THIS book, and why they do NOT carry the “Pieta Prayerbook.” Click the link below to learn about and/or order the Magnificent Prayers:


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Good to be Home Again....

On one of John Denver's early albums (yes, albums existed in that near-stone-age era prior to CDs, 8-Tracks, and Cassettes), he sings "...it's good to be back home again...".  And, of course, there's the famous line which Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz repeats after Glenda the Good Witch, "There's no place like home..."

I have been away from what most would call normal life since April 25th, 2012.  I have posted and deleted some entries here of which I have thought the better; even though they explained away some of the mystery regarding my absence from the blogoshpere.  In reality, very few likely noted my absence, and less likely cared one way or another.

Suffice it to say that I found myself in a place very much unlike what I had previously imagined it to be.  With the help of God and some dear comrades, I and they extracted ourselves and returned to the "outside world."

Those who know me very well likely already have custody of sufficient facts of the matter to which I allude.

This said, I shall simply return to my occasional Chestertonian ramblings here in the Small Shoppe.

God is good; and His Angels do a wonderful job!

Friday, July 22, 2011

To Your Health!

"...And they all ate and were satisfied." (Matt 14:20a)
I have never previously herein participated in the activity known as Recipe-Sharing, and I suspect that I will not be doing so with anything approaching regularity. Just the same, I feel I owe it to my fellow man, for the advancement of the common good, to present this one formula which, having concocted and tested, I now propose and recommend:
Michael’s Anti-Cholesterol “Knock-Out-Punch” Cereal
*Chestertonian Certified*
Suitable for Hermits, Recluses, and other Human & Canine Life-Forms

¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill® Oat Bran Cereal
2 TBLSP Ground Flax
2 TBLSP Ground Walnuts
Cinnamon to taste (I use a bunch!)
1 TBLSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup Kellogg’s® All-Bran Buds®
1 Cup Water

Put all of the above in a big cereal bowl, and microwave for 3 ½ minutes (depending..)

Then slice a banana on top, and stir the whole thing well.

Pour up to ¼ cup milk, or even half-n-half on top.

Enjoy! It works.
(I reduced my bad cholesterol 75 points in 5 months with this)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself..."

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall ove your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:37-40

I am not all together certain why this passage, and a particular insight that accompanies it have visited my consciousness so insistently over the past several days. Likely it is owing to the fact that I am not particularly loving of my neighbor; or at least quite selectively exclusive in my determination of exactly "who is my neighbor."

I will attempt to describe the insight that came rushing upon me like a Pentecost wind as I thought of this passage from Sacred Scripture. Throughout my life, I always have taken these verses to mean that I should love God, and then sort of "measure" how I love myself, and apply that measure of love to others around me. The disturbing insight of which I have become aware of late is, I think, more than simply a nuance. In the command to love my neighbor as myself, I now understand that I am to consider that my neighbor "is" myself. In so doing, I will of course love my neighbor. This command fights fiercely against my narcissism; for if I consider for even a moment that my neighbor is myself, then all of the great concern and interest which I normally reserve for my own needs and wants is now focused on someone else. I must love my neighbor exactly as though my neighbor were, in fact, me.

The very thought of such a thing frightens me and, I must say -- in the interest of full disclosure--makes me feel rather ill. First off, there are more than several people for whom I have no desire at all to have such consideration. Secondly, that fact that there are indeed people for whom I do not desire to have this sort of love makes me feel guilty and sinful; not a spiritual sensation of which I am at all fond.

Perhaps I have, at long last stumbled upon an Examination of Conscience in capsule form. I may not need to fumble for a pamphlet, or look for a marked page in the back of my missal again. These few verses from the Gospel shed much light upon the state of my soul; upon the state of my relationship with God and those with my fellow men. As I reflect, I cannot presently remember a sin which I have in the past committed that does not relate directly to these two commandments: Love God, and love thy neighbor as thyself.

"O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee..."