Folk Music is No Shortcut to Culture

Nota Bene: Not designed by the “slime” of society.

Laura Wood of the ThinkingHouseWife blog posted this from a folk song book compilation. In it, the author asserts many things, but the point I want to address goes something like this: folk music is superior to today’s popular, commercial music, because yesterday’s music was made to be sung, whereas today’s music is merely made to be listened to.

Setting aside the devices, programs, and social settings in which hosts of people gather together to sing karaoke every week throughout this country and even upon the waves at sea—as I know first hand that even karaoke is performed on aircraft carriers underway—the thesis the author puts forth and which Wood supports is quaint at best and utterly devoid of intellectual merit at worst.

What follows is my first reply to the post, which you can read on Wood’s website, and then a followup which I have published here instead of emailing Wood. She may decide to post my second reply I make here over there if she chooses. Needless to say, the discussion on folk music gets at who we are as a people and touches the fundamentals of life and culture. It is an important discussion, which is why I have taken the time to address it.

Here begins my first reply.

I have read and listened to your recent post regarding folk songs with considerable delight. I am not entirely familiar with this genre of music beyond that instruction on its form and content I received in kindergarten, singing and dancing around chairs.

But thinking on your post a little more, I wonder what you would say about the utter dearth of contemporary folk songs—or is it that folk songs as such is a misnomer, since a melody and lyric do not spring up out of a people as such at all but must come into existence by a single creative mind?

What I am getting at is what “folk songs” are today, taken out of their historic context which gave them birth, are really just the popular songs of today sans record labels. That’s the only difference.

Tell me, what is the lyrical and melodic difference between “Home on the Range” and “A Horse with No Name”? I can’t figure one. Both are melodically simple and undemanding such that anyone could sing along. Both deal with general outdoorsy topics on the surface and existential issues beneath. Both are folksy, earthy, and simple songs that are sung by a popular majority and not a highly cultivated class. The only difference is the latter was created in our lifetime and has a copyright, whereas the former wasn’t and doesn’t.

I just think that the difference between folk songs and popular songs of today is not as clear cut as is supposed by the author, and that there are a lot of questions regarding the origins of folk songs if they are not simply copyrighted original creations by historical individuals time has forgotten the names of.

Here begins my second reply.

I think the points of doubt I raise still stand. Further research on the subject just substantiates what I said, viz., that so called folk songs originate—like “Home on the Range,” for instance, from individual artists and are subsumed into the public domain simply because they are not copyrighted. There is no difference musically and lyrically between a folk song and a popular country song of today. And what differences there may be are necessitated by the fact that art imitates nature, and our present day natures and society are just different—think of Jim Croce’s “Operator” song, incorporating the tragic loss of love with technology of the telephone. I suppose if he had written it by candlelight and spoke of his love through a postman it would be considered folk enough.

But I would like to ask if you yourself agree with your commenter’s following remark: “True democracy is CULTURE! From the slime, the lowest people, comes the brilliance of culture, the dress, the music, the architecture, the food.”

Your author and commenter seem to be under the impression that culture is the product of the lower and uneducated and, in a word, uncultured class. That is oxymoronic and false. Culture, in the sense of fine food, dress, music, art, and architecture, has always come by way of leisure. Now, how can the working poor classes afford leisure enough to be poets and gourmets, Amadeus Mozarts and Thomas Coles? And as for Catholic architecture, what kind of man does Mr. S think designed the architectural plans for the great cathedrals of Europe, the local brewer and potato merchant? 

What lurks behind the discussion of folk music is the idea that democracy in general and Catholic culture in particular is a product of the least common denominator. That is flatly false and disturbs the very order, which is hierarchical, of nature and reality and Catholic culture. If you want culture, if you want Catholic culture, you have to have three things at least: 1. Faith, 2. Education, and 3. Leisure. Those are the basic sine qua non ingredients of Catholic culture. Is it any wonder then there is so little Catholic culture today? 

But I deny that there isn’t culture. There is a lot of culture out there, perhaps so much so that we cannot discern it for what it is, because there is so much of it. Think of all the books, songs, paintings, food, dress, and any number of human creations being produced today, some things of exquisite make. Some are Catholic, but the sum of them are not to be equated with culture; but there are good things being made, things of beauty and goodness and truth if not of the Faith. But not one of them, I solemnly insist and assert, is being made by individuals without education (either formal or autodidactic) or without leisure. And that excludes about 99.9 percent of the population.

Folk music is just popular music. There is nothing special about it, nor anything of essential difference between it and popular music. Any assertion to the contrary is founded upon non-sequiturs. But neither was folk music produced by the ignorant masses but was created, as it is even today, by a set of highly skilled artisans of melody and word.

Obviously there is high culture and low culture, and I have talked about both in this post, because the cause of both is the same, leisure and eduction. If you want Catholic culture, you need to add the Faith. But whether we are talking about folk music, which is low culture, or opera, which is high culture, there remains the necessity of talking about musical theory, harmony, prosody, instrumentation, vocal technique, thespianism, and any number of other technical arts that are required to really pull off a good show. The majority of mankind can sing along to a song but cannot make a song.

Music is something very near and dear to me. I grew up with music in the air all evening long, where my father would blast the popular songs of the day from his little studio and bar room in the basement. So many popular artists and their songs became the soundtrack of my life, such that I did not want for any “folk songs” to sing along to, because I sang along to all the popular songs I heard–just as I am sure many of you reading did the same.

Since then, I have taught myself classical guitar for several years, and have learned to play a handful of concert-level pieces. Unfortunately, I can no longer play because my fistula makes my fretting hand stiff and unable to play longer than a few bars without burning. Since I can no longer play classical guitar, I have started to learn how to sing classically, which is to say in the style and technique of Bel Canto, which the folk music author no doubt would disparage as pretentious, insincere, and sophisticated. Then, again, I suppose a banjo player would think a classical guitarist pretentious, insincere, and sophisticated. But the point I would like to make is that beautiful music takes a lot of work–a lot of work. Truly great singing–like this–takes work, years of practice and mastering a technique.

Folk music of old is not a shortcut to culture. There is no shortcut to culture. It takes work, dedication and sacrifice to learn, develop and cultivate a culture. It doesn’t come naturally, and it doesn’t come from simply swinging your arms to and fro and shouting into the streets and stomping your feet to some merry old tune sailors sang drunk epochs ago. It comes from spending time with a technical body of knowledge, of an art and craft, and study and practice, and not a little inspiration, and sometimes a lifetime of service to its cause. All the great artists of old knew that. We don’t. That is why they were great and we are small.

Spooky Versus Scary: The Fight for the Spirit of Halloween

This is spooky not scary.

The soul of Halloween is up for grabs like a handful of gummy worms. The hedonistic heathens want Halloween to be scary. Catholics and other normal human beings prefer Halloween to be spooky. Some may think there is little difference between the two, but the reality is, nothing could be more opposed to the spooky than the scary, just as nothing could be more opposed to the body as the spirit.

A harvest moon rises from a cloud over a hillside of corn, as a chill breeze rustles the leaves down an empty street, lined with trees hunched over crawling at the ground with bear branches. Glowing pumpkins grin as you walk door to door to trick or treat. The night is like a blanket you want to hide under but you cannot if you want candy. So you keep walking, keep knocking, until you’ve filled your bucket and received your reward.

That is a picture of spooky. Something more is suggested than the mere material causes of things. There is something meaningful in the sound of moaning wind. There is something to a harvest moon not reducible to the astronomical. There is a big secret behind all the facts of the senses, and Halloween seems to whisper the riddle’s solution a little louder than during other seasons. What that secret is only God and the Saints know—the damned know, too. The living must content themselves with shadows.

I will not paint you a picture of scary, because scaring people is immoral. I can only suggest that what I mean by scary involves bodily harm. That is the difference between being spooked and being scared. The fear of ghosts, of the unknown, is what is meant by spooky. The fear of physical pain is what is meant by being scared.

It is telling that Halloween has become more and more violent precisely when it has become more and more heathen. Without the doctrine of eternity, of an everlasting destiny of either Heaven or Hell, the only alternative is to emphasize the goods and evils of this world, of the sensual delights and agonies of the body. Hence, Halloween today is merely about murder and sex. It has become a hollow shell of its former substantial reality.

But Heaven and Hell do exist, and Saints and the damned are in their respective homes. We hang in the balance. Halloween hangs in the balance. I refuse to let Halloween be perverted by the heathen into something sensual and scary. Halloween is not a holiday about the body but the spirit.

So I plan to make this Halloween as spooky as I can for my children. I refuse to scare them, but I do want to propose an atmosphere of mystery and the eerie which tinges their souls with a fear of the unknown and not merely the painful. Perhaps if they are keen enough to the things of the spirit, they will hear the secret whispered by the moaning wind, by the skeletons, ghosts, and tombstones, that is, the secret of death itself.

The Garden of God

Garden of the Gods

There is a quote attributed to St. Augustine which says, “The nature of God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” Whether that is an accurate attribution or not, the quote itself is quite astounding. The BC says it more pithily though:

Q. 166. Where is God?

A. God is everywhere.

Driving through the Shawnee National Forest yesterday on assignment to take photographs, I hiked to the best spot on the forest to see fall colors. There on the rock overlooking the world was a vista alive with all the colors of autumn, the beauty of God’s creation.

Afterward, as I made my way back to the Ranger Station, a thought came out of nowhere: God was present to me always: Just a simple thought, which did not insist upon itself too much, but which had the force behind it like an earthquake.

As little town and little hill and field passed by out my window, I looked out with that simple thought in mind. If God is everywhere, all things are present to God, all things, that is, are within His compass and control. Nothing happens unless He says so, not a single sunbeam streams through a cloud without His say so. That is a mystical thought.

Anyway, as I drove with these thoughts and questions in mind, another question passed through my consciousness: “What would you have me see,” to which God–He is the Eternal Jester–presented to my physical vision not a split second later the road sign named, quite literally, Catholic Church Rd.

Not a moment after that, I noticed St. Joseph Catholic Church just off the road. Now, I could have interpreted that thought and scene as signs that I should back to Church, return to a parish near me, and be a Novus Ordo Catholic again. I could have, but then I must understand the hierarchy of information. I have demonstrable evidence from the BC–the Rule of Faith–that the present Roman church is a false sect. I know that with certainty. So the very special vision I had yesterday could not have been mystical evidence in favor of a return to the Novus Ordo.

So what was the vision? I am thinking aloud here, but I think it was the affirmation that the simple thought with which I began was true, and that God was substantiating it by direct experiential evidence. God was revealing Himself a bit. There was a moment of time in which I could peak through the veil thinly concealing His awesome reality. I have had such experiences before, what I think Thomas A. Kempis calls the Divine Visitation. They are gifts, and I surely did not deserve such a visit.

“God is everywhere,” the BC teaches us. What do we make of that from day to day? How do we behave, what do we think, with that earthquaking thought? These are thoughts to ponder. A profound joy follows the Divine Visitation, which gives proofs of its origin. I encourage you all to give the BC lesson on God’s immanent locality time for thinking on it.

Whoever named the gem of the Shawnee had it all wrong. The better name would have been, The Garden of God, but then that name would have applied to everywhere.

Baltimore Catechism Now on CatholicEclipsed

Home Alone Catholic being examined on his catechism by the Church.

Harping on the Same Old Tune

For those who have been reading this blog for any period of time, you will no doubt be aware that I have relied heavily upon the catechism as the chief foundation and formation of the faith. And where else should I look for instruction?

Q. 159. If we shall find only the “chief truths” in the Apostles’ Creed, where shall we find the remaining truths?

A. We shall find the remaining truths of our Faith in the religious writings and preachings that have been sanctioned by the authority of the Church.

The Baltimore Catechism is one such document that has been sanctioned by the authority of the Church. It is true that there are many good and holy things to read out there, and I am not one to say we should only read the catechism. But I have encountered far too much error, far too much deviation from the teachings of the Church, from far too many “learned” people, even those with a website and hundreds of web articles to their names, not to insist upon a return to fundamental and simple truths found in a catechism.

I harp on the same old tune of the catechism for the same reason that I recite the rosary over and over or sing the Salve Regina over and over or do anything else of our holy religion repetitively. I do so because that is what Mother Church would have me do. I can honestly say I do not have the catechism memorized. Not even close, and I probably never will. That is difficult to do as an adult. But it was the expectation of the Church for children to learn their catechism by heart, and to be able to recite verbatim their lessons, say, on the Trinity.

So I will not say that those reading this–presumably adults, probably even middle-aged or older–must learn their catechism by rote. But I do insist that one should become intimately familiar with all the lessons of their catechism, to take time throughout the weeks of one’s life, suitably on Sunday, to read a lesson, meditate on it, and think on it often throughout the work-week.

To help facilitate that end, I have taken the time to do what I should have done a long time ago. I have put the complete Baltimore Catechism on this website as its own page, which you can access through the main menu.

Knowing our catechism has always been the duty of Catholics, but today when the crisis of faith has reached a pitch of intensity rivaling the shrieks from Hell, it is infinitely more incumbent upon us as Home Alone Catholics to study and even memorize what we can of our catechism. How shall we combat the error, for instance, of those who say that Sedevacantist chapels are licit in the time of necessity? The BC answers:

Q. 1004. Can bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church always exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders?

A. Bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church cannot exercise the power they have received in Holy Orders unless authorized and sent to do so by their lawful superiors. The power can never be taken from them, but the right to use it may be withdrawn for causes laid down in the laws of the Church, or for reasons that seem good to those in authority over them. Any use of sacred power without authority is sinful, and all who take part in such ceremonies are guilty of sin.

No Sedevacantist clergy were ever authorized and sent by their lawful superiors to administer the sacraments. That is the death knell for all the independent chapels and missions operating outside of Rome. Further, the BC states “Any use of the sacred power without authority is sinful,” which covers even those times of necessity.

What about the Recognize and Resist (R&R), the Remnant, OnePeterFive, LifeSiteNews, and such like? How does the BC respond to those who say authority must be recognized but resisted if that authority errs or legislates what is unlawful or harmful?

Well, actually, there are two glaring errors here, both of which are about as un-Catholic as Martin Luther. The first is that the Catholic Church could possibly legislate anything harmful or erroneous. The BC states:

Q. 528. How do you know that the Church can not err?

A. I know that the Church can not err because Christ promised that the Holy Ghost would remain with it forever and save it from error. If, therefore, the Church has erred, the Holy Ghost must have abandoned it and Christ has failed to keep His promise, which is a thing impossible.

The Church can no more err in faith or morals as a lead balloon could fly. It defies the laws of spiritual physics. Because the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, it is blasphemy to say, as the R&R crowd do say, that the Roman Pontiff and the Second Vatican Council taught error.

Q. 572. From whom does the Church derive its undying life and infallible authority?

A. The Church derives its undying life and infallible authority from the Holy Ghost, the spirit of truth, who abides with it forever.

The second error of R&R is the idea that one can resist a legitimate authority. The BC defines authority as follows:

Q. 523. What is authority?

A. Authority is the power which one person has over another so as to be able to justly exact obedience. Rulers have authority over their subjects, parents over their children, and teachers over their scholars.

Q. 524. From whom must all persons derive whatever lawful authority they possess?

A. All persons must derive whatever lawful authority they possess from God Himself, from whom they receive it directly or indirectly. Therefore, to disobey our lawful superiors is to disobey God Himself, and hence such disobedience is always sinful.

Q. 525. What do you mean by the authority of the Church?

A. By the authority of the Church I mean the right and power which the Pope and the Bishops, as the successors of the Apostles, have to teach and to govern the faithful.

Anyone who knows their catechism couldn’t fall for R&R because it is intrinsically non-Catholic. It is Catholic to submit to legitimate authority like a pope, bishop or priest, because these are lawful superiors, and to disobey them would mean disobeying God.

The only reasonable conclusion to make is that the Second Vatican Council was not Catholic, because we know the council taught error which is a thing impossible for the Catholic Church but quite within the realm of possibility for a non-Catholic sect headed up by a non-Catholic heretic.

Q. 547. In whom are these attributes found in their fullness?

A. These attributes are found in their fullness in the Pope, the visible Head of the Church, whose infallible authority to teach bishops, priests, and people in matters of faith or morals will last to the end of the world.

It defies Catholic Sense to say John 23, Paul 6, JP2, B16 or Francis 1 are possessed with the infallible authority to teach the Church in faith and morals when these men have done all they can to spread error in the faith and promote false worship.

I could go on and on refuting the errors of the day from the BC, and no doubt I shall continue to do so in future posts as long as my fingers are able to type. But my point here is that we have to have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of the faith before we can profess to know or to teach or to dispute with the heretic, apostate, or infidel.

May God reward a prayerful study of the catechism with grace and wisdom enough to fight the good fight and keep the faith till the end.

BC Logo

The Catechism as Map

Finding Our Way Out of the Woods of the Apocalypse

Once there was a Boy Scout group backpacking in the forest with their leader who, I am sorry to say, broke his leg and died because infection.

The Boy Scouts were in a bad way, having no idea where they were. Some thought they knew where to go to get out of the woods, following streams or paths, but others weren’t so sure.

After much deliberation, with factions formed, some in favor of streams, others paths, and still others in favor of smoke signals and staying jolly put, a quiet little boy raises his hand amidst the throng and meekly proffers what appears to be a mere piece of paper on which is scrawled some lines.

The eldest of the troop comes over to the little boy and asks what the heck he thinks he is doing. The little boy answers that it might be a good idea to use the map which fell out of the leader’s pocket when he fell down and broke his leg or whatever.

This not so well crafted moral tale has a moral. There are those with whom I meet here online who have their own ideas about the Apocalypse, and about what is going on, and other theological or prophetic speculation not unlike the boys who wanted to find a way out of the woods by following trodden paths or streams.

But I tend to think that kind of thinking is tricky and ultimately lands one in Protestant territory, if not in profession at least in spirit. That explains why there have been a few people who subscribe to the idea that there hasn’t been a pope since Pius IX or that Baptism of Desire is heretical or that marriage before non-Catholic witnesses is invalid.

Instead of consulting the map left by the leader, the catechism, which defines in clear delineation and definition the things we are to believe and do to save our souls and get out of the “forest dark,” people follow winding streams or paths deeper and deeper into the gloom of the wood, where the light scarcely falls.

We have a map. Let’s use it. Instead of going off in search of the way, let’s just use the way given to us, the way that was written for us laity, to understand what we are to do today. Will every single question we have be answered? No, but then not every question asked is important. But the catechism—make it any you please, just pre-1958–will serve you better than any other text to learn your faith.

Home Altar for the Home Alone Catholic

Home Alone Catholics Need Home Altars

Home altars are vitally important to the spiritual health of our family. When we gather together as a family at the home altar, we show God that we are willing to be present in public worship, to offer prayers to God in communion with each other. This post is as much a reminder of that for myself as it is for those who may be reading this.

Many try to answer to the crisis in the Church–and anyone who is sufficiently catechized is well aware of the nature of the crisis–by offering solutions that don’t work and aren’t Catholic. Over at TheThinkingHouseWife, Laura Wood said it well when she said, “This is all the inevitable unfolding of the principles of Vatican II and of a false hierarchy, which has abdicated its authority. The only answer is to pray at home, availing ourselves of Spiritual  Communion and Acts of Perfect Contrition, — avoiding the false solutions of Traditionalists who set up chapels without any authority and the blatant schisms and heresies of “Orthodoxy” or Protestant sects.”

We can’t be Sedevacantist chapel goers, offering prayers to God through illicit clergy. That won’t do. And it goes without saying we can’t go to Orthodox chapels unless we fancy being schismatics. And Protestantism is enticing to those who think Christian worship can be reduced to pop melodies and sugary-sweet lyrics about God, but for people who think that divine things are somehow sacred, that won’t do either.

What is needed, then, is a space and place to offer to God public acts of worship even if that is done in private. The answer, of course, is a home altar. Here we can offer to God our thanks for His daily blessings, as well as offer our tears and petitions, and, above all, we can offer praise and worship through St. John’s Mass (links are not endorsements!) and the Holy Rosary.

I said that this post was as much a reminder for me as it was information for you. You see, I have been neglecting my public prayer with my family ever since I started working. I really commend those working men who can be the spiritual leaders of their families as well as the breadwinners. It is a difficult juggling act. The cares of the world pull on a man’s mind away from the spiritual necessaries by the demand of the physical necessaries. That is why a home altar is so important.

Our home altar (featured above) is placed in the middle of our home really. It isn’t tucked away in some corner of the house, which would be ideal for contemplative prayer and devotion to be sure. Our altar is front and center, and harkens to us to come there and offer prayer throughout the day. The Angelus is a good prayer practice to get into, because it is traditionally said three times a day.

We pray the Mass of St. John, which is really just the offertory and spiritual communion, on Sundays as a family. And we pray the Rosary on Sunday as well. We used to pray the Rosary every day, and do so always at the altar, but it has become increasingly more difficult to pray the Rosary daily since our cares, worries, and work have increased–we as a family we tend more toward Martha than Mary:

“Or by Mary who sat and heard our Lord’s words, is signified the contemplative life; by Martha engaged in more outward services, the active life. Now Martha’s care is not blamed, but Mary is praised, for great are the rewards of an active life, but those of a contemplative are far better. Hence Mary’s part it is said will never be taken away from her, for the works of an active life pass away with the body, but the joys of the contemplative life rather begin to increase from the end,” (St. Gregory).

How to Furnish Your Home Altar

Whether we are called to the active or the contemplative life, however, we all need a home altar as Home Alone Catholics. The number one most important thing that we can furnish our home altars with is devotion. The second is candles–you simply cannot have a Catholic altar without candles. Wax candles get expensive, so think about investing in electric candles. Your kids will love changing out the dim ones for bright ones every evening–you have to do it during the evening because that way the light is fresh and bright all through the night for anyone who may want to sneak over to the altar for a midnight votive offering.

In addition to devotion and a good set of electric candles, or wax candles if you have the cash, is a bell and incense. “The devil hates everything beautiful and the bells are specifically used to draw attention to the divine worship of God,” (An Exorcist Explains Why the Devil hates Bells So Much). There is something enchanting about the sound of a bell ringing over the crying of an infant or the washing of dishes in the sink. Get a good bell, one which has a silvery smooth ring to it. Ours is a cheap one, but it has a solid ring to it which can be heard throughout our home, even through doors and the noise of rambunctious children.

I do not know much about incense other than that I use frankincense and myrrh and charcoal and a brass censer. I do not know why, for instance, incense tends to transport my soul from time and place into the Holy of Holies like a wormhole or something. But it does. If you have never prayed with incense at home, do. It will change everything.

The altar itself can be something actually like an altar or just a table. Children will appreciate an altar that is shorter as will short adults, so think about that when picking out the best piece of furniture to offer your daily prayers at, preferably while kneeling–because that is what Catholics do.

To keep your altar fresh and inviting and decorative throughout the year, consider alternating between the seasons on each Ember Day. We have pumpkins, leaves, and autumn decor in our baskets right now. The kids love to arrange them. Our winter baskets are especially splendid and charming. The baskets beautify the altar but they also allow the contemplative soul to ponder the meaning of pumpkins, and other fruits of the Earth, while praying: “If you do not think it extraordinary that a pumpkin is always a pumpkin, think again. You have not yet even begun philosophy,” (Miracles and Modern Civilisation).

And one more thing: don’t forget the Crucifix.

I hope I have made it sufficiently plain (if to no one else then at least to myself) why home altars are indispensable to Home Alone Catholics today and how fun they can be. Please share your own ideas of your home altar in the comments section.

What and Where is the Catholic Church?

The following email was sent to me by a thoughtful and faithful Catholic man named simply Mark. He has some interesting ideas about the Church today which invite reflection and discussion. I post his email here in hopes that readers will wrestle with the ideas presented here, namely, what the Church is and where it is. Oftentimes we modern people see the world in terms of visible realities—what Mark says in his own idiosyncratic way as “sentient.” Instead, we should ask what the Church is in terms of the invisible reality that is far more powerful and essential to the structuring of reality itself than matter, e.g., fine silken cloth for vestments, carved oaken furniture for altars or chairs, or marble, brick, and stone of church buildings versus supernatural life of grace by which the will and intellect of man is moved toward God and the good. Doing so we will be more on our way to see by faith instead of human sight, and so see the signs of the times and prepare ourselves for the Bridegroom.

Mark writes:

Almighty God so willing, we will now continue in finer clarity. Amen. “What and where is the Church today?” Your website gets no traction not because it is not utterly compelling to read, or listen to, rather because there are no authentic Christians/Catholics (as the terms are comingled from their metaphysical essence) left to find interest in the reading of truth, as all but all are simply not who they believe themselves to be, with their itchy ears, most basically understood then as,- we are now living the greatest preternatural deception,- while at the summa and summit of the power of Satan, allowed for by Almighty God, this world has ever known or will know. Amen.

Now then, to develop intellectively this reality of the magnum opus of satanic deception, which we have lived and are living since 1958 October, while under, “…the operation of error to believe lying:…” (2 Thess 2:10), we have to be utterly cognizant of separating the accidents from the substance, with pristine clarity in our minds, of the 2 realities (that is the Church conceived by the Son of God and the other church instituted by not the, “miracles”, as their genesis is divine, rather, “…according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders.” (2 Thess 2:9), while worked through his Antichrist as the efficient cause, in the sentient understandings perceived) as they actually are, while properly understood metaphysically from their potency and act, matter and form. With that foundation then, we know as a matter of divine revelation the quid of the thing which Christ Jesus deemed, His Church. Amen.

   To answer now directly this query, as to the quid of the thing we call the Church, conceived by the Son of God and instituted under the power of His Holy Ghost, we contemplate the Holy Magisterium, perpetual in its esse’.  The One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church is now, as She was then (prior 28 Oct. 1958), and will be unto the Second Coming, perfectly preserved as immutable and impregnable in Her Substantial form.  Period and end.  We know this with apodictic certitude as infallibly taught in, “Satis Cognitum”.  We turn now then to His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, 29 June 1886, section 3., “Satis Cognitum”:

       “And, since it was necessary that His divine mission should be perpetuated to the end of time, He took to Himself Disciples, trained by Himself, and made them partakers of His own authority.  And, when He had invoked upon them from Heaven the Spirit of Truth, He bade them go through the whole world and faithfully preach to all nations, what He had taught and what He had commanded, so that by the profession of His doctrine, and the observance of His laws, the human race might attain to holiness on earth and never-ending happiness in Heaven.  In this wise, and on this principlethe Church was begotten(all color emphasis mine).  If we consider the chief end of His Church and the proximate efficient causes of salvation, it is undoubtedly spiritual; but in regard to those who constitute it, and to the things which lead to these spiritual giftsit is external and visible.  The Apostles received a mission to teach by visible and audible signs, and they discharged their mission only by words and acts which certainly appealed to the senses.  So that their voices falling upon the ears of those who heard them begot faith in souls-‘ “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the words of Christ” ‘ (Rom. x., 17).  And faith itself – that assent given to the first and supreme truth – though residing essentially in the intellect, must be manifested by outward profession – ‘ “For with the heart we believe unto justice, but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” ‘ (Rom. x., 10). In the same way in man, nothing is more internal than heavenly grace which begets sanctity, but the ordinary and chief means of obtaining grace are external: that is to say, the sacraments which are administered by men specially chosen for that purpose, by means of certain ordinances.”

And now as to the ubi of the thing we call, “The Church” (as yet section 3. “Satis Cognitum”, continued)

  “For this reason the Church is so often called in Holy Writ a body, and even the body of Christ – ‘ “Now you are the body of Christ” ‘ (I Cor. xii., 27) – and precisely because it is a body is the Church visible: and because it is the body of Christ is it living and energizing, because by the infusion of His power Christ guards and sustains it, just as the vine gives nourishment and renders fruitful the branches united to it.  And as in animals the vital principle is unseen and invisible, and

is evidenced and manifested by the movements and action of the members, so the principle of supernatural life in the Church is clearly shown in that which is done by it.”

And so there we have it, dear Robert, as to both the quid and the ubi, of the thing we know as the Catholic Church, and with apodictic certitude, to be precisely as pristinely just exactly what and where She is, and to the iota of the iota, without a singular movement of change in Her Substantial reality as Her foundation, since conceived by Christ Jesus and instituted then by His Holy Ghost. Amen. Alleluia. One more small part then from, “Satis Cognitum”, now section 15., so as to give you apodictic certitude, while in pristine clarity, as to this common query of, “but I thought we had to have a Pope until Christ comes again on the Last Day?”. And now Pope Leo XIII, from section 15., Satis Cognitum: “….But it is opposed to the truth, and in evident contradiction with the divine constitution of the Church, to hold that while each Bishop is individually bound to obey the authority of the Roman Pontiffs, taken collectively the Bishops are not so bound. For it is the nature and object of a foundation to support the unity of the whole edifice and to give stability to it, rather thanto each component part; and in the present case this is much more applicable, since Christ the Lord wished that by the strength and solidity of the foundation the gates of hell should be prevented from prevailing against the Church. All are agreedthat the divine promise must be understood of the Church as a whole, and not of any certain portions of it. These can indeed be overcome by the assaults of the powers of hell, as in point of fact has befallen some of them.”
And so, before I close for now, dear Robert, let us sum up what has been achieved in this response to your two questions of, “what and where?”. There are now, and since 28 October 1958, two churches in the sentient cosmos which call themselves, “Catholic”, while at once one of them actually is the Church conceived by the Son of God, and this One yet finds its wellspring in His Substantial Being, as Being Himself, as His Mystical Body and Bride, as it always has and will, as the, “Church”, was never found in a building, rather it has always, everywhere, and only, been found freely in the operation of the will of those who have received, and are yet receiving, the perfectly gratuitous Gift of the supernatural virtue of the divine and Catholic Faith. Amen. Alleluia. This One True Church no longer controls the metaphysical accidental forms of what once were the sentient aspects of Christ’s Church, while they indeed were aspects of Her sentient reality for 1958 years, from Her institution at Pentecost unto the loss of Her Juridical as Hierarchal aspect on 28 October 1958. Amen. We know with apodictic certitude that this Church is known, while in the sentient material reality, as infallibly taught by Pope Leo XIII, and as follows, while first quoted above, and now again: “the principle of supernatural life in the Church is clearly shown in that which is done by it.” Thusly, we know that the Catholic Church today, as prior October 1958, and unto the Second Coming, is known by the acts of those who belong to Her: “…and for Thy sake I also love my neighbour as myself. I renounce every thought which is contrary to that love of one another, by which men are known to be the disciples of Thy Son; I forgive all who have in any way injured me, and I beg Thy grace and mercy for all the world.” (Manual of Prayers for congregational use. Imprimatur: V. Cantineau, Vic. Gen., 27 April 1923). Amen. Alleluia. As our Blessed Lord and Redeemer, the Christ commands: “By their fruits you shall know them” (Mt. 7, 16). And further then, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. (Mt. 7, 18). Every tree that bringeth forth not good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. (Mt. 7, 19). Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” (Mt. 7, 20)
Lucifer’s trick, dear Robert, is to get us to think of Christ’s Church as though it is a physical place, as though the Mystical Body of Christ, His Bride, is actually composed of those metaphysical accidental forms of the buildings, garments, sacramentals, etc. over the entire world; those same objects that were occupied and used by Catholics the world over, when the Vicar of Christ was present in this world, as he was the visible sign of the Unity of Faith and the Unity of Communion in the public sphere, in this now barren and desolate world. Amen. The supernatural society of Heaven on earth, NEVER HAS BEEN a place, rather there were only places where those who held the supernatural virtue of the divine and Catholic Faith could gather, for the proper public worship of Almighty God, while under the absolute Authority of the Vicar of Jesus Christ. Amen.Analogically, and as you well know, we eat the flesh of the cow, yet we do not become the cow. The substantial form of the beast remains, while the material reality is consumed, taking upon itself then, the substantial form of the one who consumes. In like kind, the buildings never were, nor could they ever be, the Catholic Church in se, as they were only the sentient realities of the Church. They no longer belong to Christ’s Church, as they have been passed on, as the flesh of the cow, yet and of course, the Substantial Being of His Church is Him, as it could only ever be. Amen. Alleluia.

Much Ado About Nothing: On the Inconvertibility of Medium and Message

As I have mentioned, I am currently working on a PhD in Communication. It so happens that the most recent article I have written in the program has to do with the Second Vatican Council. I thought it would make for good reading here on the CE Log, especially since I have been so remiss in publishing anything of any substance in a long while. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please leave a comment. If you don’t enjoy it, because you think it is wrong in some way, I really want you to comment!

Robert Robbins

Department of Communication, Liberty University Online

Author Note

I may have a conflict of interest. I am a devout Catholic. Further, I am not a fan of the Second Vatican Council which I believe was illegally convoked by an antipope and was subsequently ratified by another antipope. I have very strong views about the Second Vatican Council, yet these convictions do not necessarily conflict with my thesis that McLuhen mistakes material causality of communication with formal causality. Still, to be forthright, the reader should know I am Catholic and have strong ideas about the Second Vatican Council and the purported Catholic hierarchy in power at the time.  

I may be reached at


Formal causality is not material causality and medium is not reducible to or convertible with message, whatever McLuhen labors to theorize to the contrary.     

Keywords: McLuhen, Second Vatican Council, Medium is the Message, formal cause, material cause 

Much Ado About Nothing: On the Inconvertibility of Medium and Message

There is a continual refrain heard within the lines of McLuhen’s (1999) meditation on technological communication media and the Catholic Church, and that is, the hierarchy of the Church doesn’t get it. No one seems to care about media the way McLuhen cares, and what is more, no one seems to understand media the way McLuhen does. This is an idea that is expressed about every three pages or so, with the singular effect that the reader is left believing that only McLuhen really understands the fundamental nature of reality. At any rate, the most venerable institution the world has ever known—the Catholic Church—doesn’t understand the fundamental nature of reality. The institution which has been “Thinking about thinking for over 2000 years,” to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton—McLuhen’s intellectual boyhood hero—doesn’t understand communication quite so well as McLuhen. That strains credulity just a bit. 

There is much to say for McLuhen and his intellectual legacy. The man was a giant in the field of communication theory and has left his impression of his style and ideas in such memorable phrases as “The medium is the message” on the minds of entire generations. He rubbed elbows and wrote letters with the leading intellectuals of the last century. He was, in short, a scholar of the highest class, which is why it is rather difficult for me—a mere nobody in the sphere of scholarship—to point out that McLuhen’s ideas about the reforms of the Second Vatican Council are wrong to the point of being ridiculous, and that his views on the metaphysics of communication are false as well.  

Mcluhen goes so wrong because he mistakes accidental things for substantial things. More precisely, he mistakes the material cause for the formal cause. “The medium is the message,” McLuhen says, but that is false on so many levels, it is hard to see how to see any meaning and sense in it at all. It is true that the message is constrained by the matter through which it expresses its form, such as the spoken word must be reshaped on a harmonic level when uttered through a telephone or microphone, and, moreover, the spoken word is spoken in the environment of a body present, whereas telephone voices are just that, voices, without a body. But such modifications as these are mostly accidental to the formal elements of the thing being spoken, such as “I love you” or “I hate you” or “God is dead” or “God is risen.”  

McLuhen’s great mistake is to make much ado about the medium itself, when the content, the form of the communication—the message itself—is either not dealt with at all or is only minimally analyzed. This tendency of McLuhen to mistake the material cause of the communication for the formal cause of the communication will be shown by quoting examples in what follows. Doing so will provide a neat summary of how McLuhen understands strategic communication changes through different media use in the context of Catholic religious practice, while also providing solid evidence for the claim that McLuhen’s theory that the medium is the message misses the mark.               

Microphone as the Abomination of Desolation  

For the typical Catholic today, things are relatively normal in the Church. But to traditional Catholics or extreme and fringe group Catholics like Sedevacantists—those who believe the Chair of Peter is vacant–the Catholic Church is in a doctrinal and liturgical and hierarchical crisis. 

The better word would be schism. After the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the ancient liturgy of Catholic Church was substantially changed, with the very words of Christ, “This my Body…This is my Blood,” being tampered with. Orientation of the priest during the mass was changed, from facing the altar and tabernacle to facing the people. The liturgy was celebrated in the vernacular, and Latin was done away with. Vestments were changed. Church architecture was changed. Icons and images of saints were demolished. Altars were demolished. Even entire churches were demolished. A new canon law was created. A new catechism was created. In short, nothing that was Catholic before the Second Vatican Council was left untouched by the reformers. There was a universal revolution in the Universal Church. There was a mass exodus of priests and nuns from their religious state, many casting off their life-long vows of chastity to marry each other. Laity, too, flocked in massive numbers into the world and out of the Sheepfold of the Church. After the updates, the Catholic Church trembled to find that it had apostatized from the Faith. The Catholic Church was no longer Catholic, in worship, faith or morals. By all reasonable accounts, the Great Apostasy, the turning away from the Faith by a great number of the faithful which Saint Paul prophesied about, had taken place. And McLuhen wants us seriously to believe that this all took place because some microphones were set up in some churches.

“Without reconstructing the history of the decision to shelve the Latin Mass, one can see the matter in parallel form in the discovery by the preacher that the microphone is incompatible with vehement exhortation or stern admonition,” says McLuhen (1999, p. 114). He goes on, “To a public that is electrically participant in a completely acoustic situation, loudspeakers bring the sounds of the preacher from several directions at once.” McLuhen argues that, because speakers and microphones make the priest present to everyone, the old architectural designs become obsolesced. This is “a factor which also turns the celebrant around to face the congregation” because the audience is in an immediate relation with the speaker. McLuhen concludes, “These major aspects of liturgical change were unforeseen and unplanned and remain unacknowledged by the users of the microphone system in our churches.”  

There are three claims here being made. First, microphones cannot be used to exhort. Second, microphones make acoustical architectural design obsolete. And thirdly, microphones make the priest face the people. The supposition is that the microphone exercises some kind of magical spell on priest and congregation, directing their actions quite apart from any legal or moral or cultural forces—let alone religious—which may be acting on them at any point in time. But that is not how things work in the Catholic Church nor in reality. 

Claim One: Exhortation and Admonition Incompatible with Microphones 

This claim is perhaps the least convincing, in part because McLuhen just makes it without any evidence to back it up. Who says that the amplified voice cannot exhort or admonish, or arouse an audience to any kind of emotional state towards virtue or vice for that matter? This is an instance—and there are many in the formal writings and letters of McLuhen—where he just makes things up. I could list any number of counterexamples which call into question the claim, but I will name one: The “I have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. That was one of the most heard, quoted, and exhorting and admonishing speeches given in the electric age of communication, and I should add the most effective. It eventually led to an entire country’s repentance for racial oppression and paved the way to equal rights. Is it altogether believable that a priest could not so admonish and exhort his congregation to repentance for sins committed against God from the pulpit because he was speaking into a microphone?     

Claim Two: Architecturally Obsolesced Churches

McLuhen makes the astounding claim that microphones obsolesced the acoustical churches of the pre-Second Vatican Council era, because multi-directional media speaker systems eliminate the space between the speaker and the audience. 

But do acoustics even have relevance to how churches were to be redesigned? A new cathedral was erected in Taranto which was considered a masterpiece of architecture, yet directly contradicts Catholic doctrine in many respects, (Amerio, 1996). First, the altar at Taranto occupies the lowest place in the sanctuary. God is in the lowest place, and the people are placed above God. Next, the vaulted ceiling is open, letting in light from the sky, with the expressed purpose of the architect to symbolize that the outside is sacred, too. But Catholic worship is centered on the sanctity of the Eucharist, not on all that is sacred. If everything is sacred, nothing is sacred. Further, the Blessed Sacrement altar is set aside, thereby signifying that it does not occupy a central place in the worship life of the Church. 

Examples like Taranto could be multiplied to near infinity. There is a symbolic meaning behind the redesigning of Catholic churches, and it has nothing to do with acoustics. Even granted that it may have something to do with acoustics and nothing to do with doctrinal changes, McLuhen’s idea that speakers make the speaker present to the audience is clumsy and unconvincing. 

Consider the fact that sound travels at over a 1,000 feet per second, and since churches prior to the Second Vatican Council were constructed to be acoustically perfect echo chambers, the sound emanating from a priest during a sermon would not only be instantaneously heard by the congregation, but it would have also been heard in surround-sound as it were, bouncing off the archways and high walls of the church building. This would at least be comparable in effect to any multi-dimensional speaker system. True, clarity would be improved with reverberation distortions decreased as buildings were constructed to be less echoing, but it seems to stretch credulity to say Church leaders decided to demolish and redesign churches because of the advent of microphones and speakers. The idea is intellectually offensive.                

Claim Three: Ad Populum 

In the Catholic Church, the priest who celebrates mass follows rubrics which direct his actions. These are written by Church leaders. After the Second Vatican Council, Church leaders instituted and decreed liturgical reforms, which changed the way priest and people worshiped God in the mass. 

“As Mass was usually celebrated in the pre-conciliar period, priest and people were all of them turned towards a God who is symbolically before and above them all. These positions reflect a hierarchical arrangement and a theocentric orientation; they look God-ward. In the new ‘back to front’ Mass…both people and priest are turned toward man, in an anthropogenic arrangement,” (Amerio, 1996, p. 647). 

Further, Amerio writes, “The Church is reduced to a closed community of human beings, when by nature it is really a community directed outwards beyond itself, towards a single transcendent point,” (1996, p. 647). In other words, after the reforms, the priest faced the people in the pews and turned his back on God. In other words, the people apostatized—turned away—from God. Microphones and multi-dimensional speaker systems had nothing to do with that. Sin did.  

The Form and Matter of Communication

I do not bring up the examples listed above to embarrass McLuhen. I think it is peculiar that a man with such vast learning could go so wrong in explaining a handful of relatively simple religious phenomena. But then I remembered that McLuhen is a theorist, and his theories are everything. That is not to say an individual theorist could not be objective about even his own theories applied to the real world, but the theoretical framework, the structuring of the theory tends, in whatever domain of the specialist, to limit the perspective and confine the intellect to a few select set of principles, which are then used to explain everything even at the risk of appearing inane or insane.  

For McLuhen, a fundamental principle he developed early on was the idea that media are formal. McLuhen says that he often would be upbraided by his intellectual peers for lacking Thomistic precision and terminology, and he also says that he thought philosophy a useless truncation, and preferred literary investigations, (1996). And it shows in his theorizing. 

In explaining what is meant by “The medium is the message,” McLuhen says, “It might be illustrated by saying that the English language is an enormous medium that is very much more potent and effective than anything ever said in English,” (1993, p. 79). McLuhen is saying that our language forms the way we perceive, the way we taste, touch, smell, see, and hear, as do other media like “printing, radio, movies, and TV.” Media have a formal relationship to ourselves, in other words. 

“My own approach to the media has been entirely from formal causes. Since formal causes are hidden and environmental, they exert their structural pressures by interval and interface with whatever is in their environmental territory. Formal cause is always hidden, whereas the things upon which they act are visible. The TV generation has been shaped [formed] not by TV programs, but by the pervasive and penetrating character of the TV image, or service, itself,” (McLuhen, 1993, p. 74.)

Here in a nutshell is how McLuhen (1993) can claim that the microphone caused the Catholic Church to destroy its own churches and altars. The idea is simply asinine. The reason is simple enough, really. McLuhen thinks that different media are substantial forms—that which orders things to be what they are in reality–when in fact they are merely accidentals, or the quantity, quality, relation, action, passion, time, place, disposition, or equipment of a thing. McLuhen often speaks of the increased frequency of media messages, as if this were a formalizing component in reality; or he speaks of the disposition of the message coming through the multi-dimensional speakers, as if this had a formalizing effect on an audience. He speaks this way because he does not understand Aristotelian metaphysics, because he has never studied it. He may have picked up terms here and there, but he abuses those terms and uses them against their original meaning.

The form or substance of communication is the word. This is clear from Thomistic theology which says that the form of the sacrament of the Eucharist, for instance, is the words of consecration which give meaning and effect to what they signify. Here the bread itself is matter upon which the words act and transubstantiate into the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a fitting example, because the Eucharist is also called Holy Communion, or the way man communicates with God. He does so through words which are the formal components in the act of communication, giving structure and meaning to the matter, or the bread and wine which are changed into the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ, which man then consumes and subsumes into his body and soul. 

By analogy, then with Holy Communion, Holy Communication, if you will, words in media of different kinds are also the form of the act of communication, whereas the pixels, the wavelengths, radio frequencies, the sound and light that is, the material makeup of the medium itself, be it radio, speaker, or video projection, are the matter of communication. McLuhen’s analysis is incomplete and incoherent because he lacks the basic Aristotelian Form-Matter structure to give an account of the communication phenomena. Consequently, his conclusions lack credibility and sense, to say the least.

Medium and Message are Inconvertible 

The fact that the medium is not convertible with the message stems from the analysis of the structure of reality of form-matter. The message, that is, the meaning, the whatness, the thrust or point of a communication, is itself the structuring form of the communication itself. The medium is nothing more than the material through which the message passes to be heard or seen. If the medium were the message, then the message, the meaning of the communication, would be reduced to how it is seen or heard, that is, the quality, which is repugnant to reason. Even a crackling disembodied voice of a long-distance phone call of a fiancé saying, “I’ll wait for you,” to a deployed sailor overseas invokes all the heavy reality of the heart which words fail to express to any adequacy. There is formal power even in those four little words, so hampered as they are by the medium they must use to communicate through. Such power moves the heart to hope and to love and to tears. And the only explanation of the communication’s power is not in the so-called “formal” or structuring or environmental factor of the medium but in the simple, soft-spoken words themselves, because words are the message, and the message is inconvertible with the medium.            


Amerio, R. (1996). Iota Unum. Kansas City, MO: Sarto House. ISBN: 978-0-9639032-1-1. 

McLuhan, M. (1999). The Medium and the Light : Reflections on Religion and Media. Eugene, OR: Stoddart. ISBN: 9780415027960.   

Thank You, Anonymous Donor

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Pray for Us

Recently I had decided to downgrade my website hosting plan, which would mean that many features like the forum for instance would not be available anymore. My decision to do so was that there was so little traffic, I couldn’t justify spending so much money on an upgraded plan to have plugins that no one really used.

Well, now I don’t have to make that decision, at least for another whole year, because a reader made the decision for me to donate the $319 for the upgraded premium plan!

So, whoever you are, generous donor, thank you very much! May Our Lady of Perpetual Help help you on the road to heaven with many graces in return.

Life Update

Much has changed since last I wrote about my personal life. For starters, I am no longer a reporter for the local newspaper. Corporate decision makers terminated my position for financial reasons. I cannot blame them: local journalism is dead, not just dying. Every citizen with a social media account and smart phone is a photographer and journalist, at least at the local reporting level where journalistic prowess and story telling skill is not required or desired. There will always be specialized reporters and investigative journalism, we hope, but the local reporter is extinct as the triceratops.

I was working concurrently in the U.S. Forest Service at the time I was laid off from the newspaper, so that worked out. I am a front desk worker at the Shawnee National Forest, where I answer tourists’ questions about recreational sites, and general forest information. Additionally, I help in public affairs, taking photos, creating graphics, writing news releases and feature stories, and updating social media.

Another iron I have in the fire is my enrollment in a PhD in Communication program. I am very exited to be doing scholarly work again, but I have found that several years of not doing so has dimmed my wits and stunted my memory glands. I am hoping that with practice ability will follow.

Finally, my seventh child has been born, Francis Thomas, after the saints most famous of those names. Though born premature, he is very healthy and beautiful and I am deeply grateful to God for him and for all my children and wife of fifteen years.

Well, that is just a recap of the past several months of what has been happening in my neck of the woods. I hope you all are doing well, growing in holiness and in the love of neighbor and God, praying at home the mass and rosary, and finding little ways throughout your days to bless God and thank him for your constant creation.

A Comment Too Long

The following comment was attempted on Introibo’s blog about visualization which you can read here:

The article was fairly good as far as it goes, but as I think I show, it lacked clear and definite language to get at the heart of occultist visualization.

I wrote this comment only to find out that it was too long for Introibo’s blog. I hope you find it interesting enough to comment below.

No doubt what you have presented is startling and cautionary, and everyone should be on guard against visualization as it is expressed in occult method literature and the like.

But the formulation of its components quoted below is a little loose for my taste and does not smack of nefarious demonic principles but poorly articulated orthodox dogmas.

“Pantheism : Everything is interconnected by divine energy, the One power, or ultimate cosmic reality”

Pantheism is not the interconnected unity of divine energy or power but the equation of all things with God. It is a point of Thomistic metaphysics that everything is a unity and imbued with Divine power: the act of existence or esse, and all things participate in this power and are united by it through the genus of being—of which, it must be stated, God is not, since God cannot occupy any genus. This saves the Thomistic metaphysical analysis from reducing all creation to God, but also rightly places the power of God at the heart of all things.


“Humans are divine in their true nature and each person controls his personal destiny; he is an integral part of this divine energy and can realize this experientially through proper technique and instruction”

I think it was Saint Gregory Nanzianzus who theorized that prelapsarian Adam and Eve would not have died had they never fallen into sin and subsequent death. Immortality was a birthright from the beginning. It is only because of sin that man decays. Humans, then, in their true or original nature were in a manner of speaking divine. But so too are humans, faithful, that is, to Christ, who are destined to be divine: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”

It is orthodox Catholic teaching to say each man controls his destiny: to posit the contrary of which is to deny free will. It is true that no man is sufficient unto himself to guide and control his destiny, since grace affords him the means by which he is to be saved, nevertheless, he chooses or controls those means in the sense of using the grace given him or not.

The experience of the unity of creation in God has been often written on by the saints. There is a point at which all things pass away and only God remains. This is a common mystical theme and does not necessarily involve occult belief.

“The mind of each human has “infinite” potential; the “higher self” or unconscious mind provides the connecting link to the infinite and is believed to be the repository of vast wisdom and ability”

It was Aristotle and not some 20th century occultist who said the intellect in a certain way is all things. The intellect and will are powers of the soul the likeness of which is known only in God and the Angels. These powers are indeed beyond compare in the natural, material world, because, though they are natural in the sense of being created, they are nevertheless immaterial and unlike anything in all creation. They are indeed of infinite potential because they cannot be limited by matter. The intellect and will are true repositories of vast wisdom and ability. That is evident by what man has done by means of them—think of aeronautical engineering or the Sistine Chapel, for instance. Of course these achievements are wrought in the intellect and will alone, not through a downloading of the divine; yet there is something to be said for divine inspiration, which all great men of genius have alluded to in one way or another.

“Visualization is an important technique that initiates contact with the ultimate cosmic reality.”

When understood in the sense of contemplation, the visualizing act of the intellect does place the individual intellect in contact with the ultimate cosmic reality which is known also as mysticism or the experience of God.

These are some of my thoughts on how you formulated the problem. I think you make a good point that visualization as practiced by the occultist is spiritually dangerous indeed, as the conjuring Philip piece at the end shows so well. Definitions and distinctions must be made, however, to avoid falling into the delusion that one is God or controls his world through his mind. That is absurd. But man does control himself through his mind, and he becomes what he thinks and does.