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John Rao | Remnant Columnist, New York

"Belgium is a kingdom; not a road". It is with that phrase, whether apocryphal or true, that King Albert I (1909-1934) is popularly said to have responded to the Imperial German request to cross his country to begin the attack on France in 1914.

As the history students among you will know, the German General Staff, following the strategic plan for conflict in the West designed by the Count Alfred von Schlieffen, deemed such a route through the Lowlands absolutely necessary to victory. But Albert's commitment to Belgium as a substantive reality and not a simple passageway to satisfaction of another nation's ends stood in the path—with four years of bitter fighting and civilian suffering being the price paid for holding firm.

The Roman Forum Invites You to a New York New Year's Bash!

St. Sylvester---New Year’s Eve Party

December 31, 2015—January 1, 2016

8:00 P.M.—1:00 A.M.

Dance in the New Year

Eat, Drink, and Make Merry

The Best Swing, Waltz, and Other Ballroom Music Ever Recorded


All 18 years or younger come for free.
All ages, including infants, are welcome.
Parents, come and enjoy yourselves for once!

Price of $25 per adult (see italics below) includes the hall rental, the music, set-ups for drinks, place settings, and magnificent breads, biscuits, cold meats, pâtés, cheeses & pastries. Bring anything else you wish, but especially your own wine, beer & liquor. Alcoholic beverages are not included and must be provided by attendees. Those who cannot afford the $25 fee, please just bring food and drink. But come!!!!

Checks made out to the Roman Forum
R.S.V.P. By December 30th, 2015

The Roman Forum

11 Carmine St., Apt. 2C

New York, New York 10014

For questions, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

University Parish Church of St. Joseph/371 Sixth Avenue

Church Hall Entrance on Washington Place, south of Waverly Place

A, B, C, D, E, F, V trains to West 4th Street Station

Wheelchair Accessible

“Locke: dry, cold, languid, and wearisome, will live forever” -J. Bentham

Walking the Chartres Pilgrimage always puts me back on the straight and narrow path. It does so by the simple expedient of making me feel as though I am dying; as though I am a condemned prisoner undergoing a peculiar form of execution that will continue—slowly, torturously, and unabated—for almost three entire days.

Of course experience assures me that this particular misery will actually end in happiness, and that all I really need to do for the moment is add my bit to maintaining the joviality crucial to keeping the moveable pilgrim gibbet on the road.

Still, that part of me that really, really hurts—namely, every bone and muscle in my body—brings the reality of pain, death, and the meaning of it all to center stage in a way that nothing else I do during the year—at least up until now—has yet matched. And that honing in on the dreadful effects of Original Sin never fails to confirm commitment to the central Catholic teaching that is only through an ever deeper surrender to the knowledge, love, and service of God that the purpose of our lives, with all their pains and joys, can be clarified.

This week we are not just celebrating the octave of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is also the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Blessed Pius IX’s encyclical letter Quanta Cura and its accompanying Syllabus of Errors (December 8, 1864). This is a document that even a man as closely associated with modern experiments involving Christian Democracy as Don Luigi Sturzo (1871-1959) called a prophetic summary of an entire age of social apostasy from Christ.

Despite the libels of its opponents, the Syllabus is not merely “negative” with its eighty condemnations of modern errors. It stands tall at the head of a glorious line of march towards that more complete development of Catholic Social Doctrine that took place in subsequent pontificates—a Catholic Social Doctrine that the all too well-endowed schools of thought of Fr. John Neuhaus, Michael Novak, George Weigel, and Fr. Robert Sirico have done so much to disfigure and render impotent in our own day.

I have mentioned on a number of occasions my conversation with an Argentine friend just after the election of Pope Francis. Readers might remember that he made this rather ominous, though amusing comment: “If you try to understand him, you will lose your Reason”.

My friend uttered that phrase to underline his conviction that anyone trying to outline a heresy in the words of the pope would be barking up the wrong tree. As far as he could see, the pope’s “thought” is not “thought” in any traditional Greco-Roman-Catholic sense, and therefore cannot be held up for normal scrutiny as “orthodox” or “heterodox”. He assured me that anyone looking for orthodoxy or heresy would be able to find both, together, and even perhaps simultaneously. Take your pick.

May all you dead of the First World War rest in peace! May your death not have been in vain! Unfortunately, I fear that it was. You lived in a globe that could not accept the fact that God’s Creation is something other than a jungle ruled by the war of all against all.

November 11th marks the 96th anniversary of the end of what was simultaneously one of the most pathetic and yet most predictable conflicts in mankind’s tragic history. It was pathetic in the patent absurdity of its unfounded enthusiasms and goals, the unfathomable physical pain it inflicted, as well as its final wretched outcome. But it was all too predictable due to the logical development of a myriad of irrational principles that were Protestant in their origin, naturalist-Enlightenment in their maturation, and nationalist, racist, and class conscious in their specific emphases upon the way in which violent struggle would have a gloriously purgative and perfecting influence upon life.

Triple marriages, polygamy, homosexual unions—oh my! How horrible! Of course anyone with faith and sense would oppose them unless opposing the ideas concerned, and offending the people espousing them, might mean disturbing a pope or a bishop.

Chris Ferrara’s recent posting on Karl Keating reminded me that I wanted to weigh in on the dull, drab subject of Catholic “conservatives” just once more before the year’s end. In doing so, I would like to insist, yet again, and in all seriousness, that what we are dealing with in addressing this matter is a severe psychological problem; a particular illustration of the general mental illness from which all the varied representatives of “enlightened” modernity suffer.

I have asked Michael Matt to post this addendum to my View From Rocco’s “at the Front” due to the large number of negative emails I have received from people regarding what I said therein. Clearly, I did not get my message across. It seemed necessary, therefore, to add the following points as a footnote to my earlier report:

1)     My statements regarding “awakening the pope” did not mean awakening him to the manipulations of the cabal responsible for the Synod. As I thought I had indicated, he is a willing and eager part of that cabal. Whether he or Kasper was its first creator I do not know. That he was happy with the horrible program his cabal proposed and promoted at the Synod is obvious.

War in Heaven and the City of Man: Laying the Groundwork for a Garden of Earthly Delights 1629-1689

Lecturer: John Rao, D. Phil., Oxford University

Associate Professor of History, St. John's University

September 7----Stairways to Heaven: The Baroque Cultural Environment

September 21-- Popes, Bishops, Religious, & Tridentine Reform: I

What is it that makes our Neo-Catholic brothers “comfortable” amidst all the ruins and stench? Why do they insist on remaining pathetic deniers of the great historian of the Council of Trent, Hubert Jedin’s, warning that nothing does more to abet a disaster than an unwillingness to recognize its real existence and character?

“Christ said ‘I am the Truth’. He did not say, ‘I am custom’.” (Tertullian) 

How much time does it take for neo-Catholics to realize that they are dancing on a corpse? Apparently, the answer is “forever”, and this because their head is where their heart is.

The question popped into my head while sitting here at Rocco’s today, comparing this pastry shop’s situation with that of the Church in general, and wondering what I, as an historian, would write about news of the immediate collapse of both.

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