Monday, October 24, 2016

$1,097.07 and counting! Fund raiser update!

Just 14 more days! And, as promised, I'm reporting on our progress after the first week. Due to the exceptional generosity of a donation from someone in the environs of Buffalo, NY, we have, as of the end of Week One, broken through the $1,000.00 level in donations! Wow! I'm seriously impressed with all you folks! Thanks to all of you -- our many benefactors -- for their kindness and generosity in contributing to this worthy cause.

In two more weeks, we will present the lady we're calling 'Tonya' with a cashier's check for the total amount of our fund drive, to help her buy a reliable pre-owned vehicle to provide her with transportation to and from work. See HERE for details. At this point, my goal is to raise $3,000 for her. I can't wait to see her face!

$3,000. Is that realistic? First of all, is it realistic to think of raising that much money just from the charity of our readers? I'm not sure, but I'm inclined to think so. Catholics, especially faithful ones, tend to be a generous lot. They know their true treasure is not laid up here on earth where "moths and rust consume and thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19). So they're generous in the categories of corporal and spiritual works of mercy. They lay up treasure in heaven, where its value will be eternal. And there are lots of non-Catholics who know all about being generous too.

Second, is it realistic, even assuming we can raise $3,000, to think that Tonya could buy a reliable pre-owned vehicle for that amount? I suppose that depends. If you wanted to buy a reliable car for, say, your daughter, would you consider it reasonable to shop for one in the $3,000 range? Hmmmmm ..... Dunno. But I'm also thinking that there may be individuals out there who may be willing, or know someone who is willing, to sell one of their existing vehicles -- perhaps one they've begun thinking about trading in -- for a generously discounted price. To Tonya.

There are different ways to be generous. If one can't share monetarily, it may be possible to discount a car you've been thinking about selling. If you can't do either of those, you can certainly pray for Tonya and for the success of this fund-raiser.

If you haven't given anything yet, please give generously.

Also, please note that when you click on the 'Donate' button, you will be re-directed to a page that says "Donate to Academy Press" (either by Paypal or credit card). 'Academy Press' is the name of the account which we're using to process donations for Tonya.

Thank you for your generosity. Sincerely!!

Brave New World: Fr. Perrone on the present and future of life in the western world

Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, October 23, 2016):
"I am a man, and nothing human is alien to me."

These well-known words of the Roman playwright Terence are often quoted. I'm sorry to say that I feel a lot less secure about them now than I once did. Things human are becoming far too bizarre for me, and I, like the aging man that I am, reflecting on the disparity of things now from way-back-when, feel estranged from some of the weird goings on in the contemporary world.

I have at times ruminated on some of these things which -- pace Terence -- make me feel much alienated. I have written on occasion about the allowance accorded to college students to choose their sexual identity from among over fifty options which, in the event, turned out to be too restrictive (!) In the same vein, students at a local Catholic high school expressed no surprise when one of their number declared his alternative gender preference. It was discovered that many of the students there are now undecided as to what sexual identity they will adopt. I have also written in some past pastor's column about the transhumanism which aims to so augment the existing limits of bodily and mental capacities so that the new product will transcend homo sapiens, leaving it behind as a mere passing phase in the evolutionary process. We have already recovered (I think) from the shock of tansplants of major bodily organs, of genetic engineering, and of human cloning. Now comes an article given to me by a thoughtful member of my Tuesday night adult catechism class which tells of serious research being done in head transplants. Not to be outdone by the egregious moral transgressions of a decade ago, some bold and bright scientists are working towards the day when one's head can be affixed to someone else's body. The metaphysical and moral questions have not even been completely thought at this point. For example, whose identity will the composite man take on: the identity of the head transplantee or of the corpus? Children engendered by such: whose parents are they? And so on. The incongruity of such a hybrid man reminds me of a fable I once read by Thomas Mann titled The Transposed Heads (the author claims it to be a tale of India) in which a skinny intellectual man and a muscular airhead exchange heads. (Those interested can read the story for outcome of the tale.) Never once did I imagine that such a thing would be written up as a possibility. And yet here I am, reading a mag article on the very topic.

Nothing alien to me? I suppose, to give Terence his due, his saying still holds good for reason that none of these freakish transformations are truly exemplars of human nature as it was intended and created by God. We are living in a brave new world, as someone famously predicted, and it seems that it will only become more and more strange and morally undetermined so that we who have known and wanted to live by the dictates of our rational human nature will find ourselves very much outside, that is to say, alienated. There doesn't seem to be a way to halt the regress of morals unto the point where total chaos reigns, what is likened by some to a Dionysian frenzy, to where -- to phrase it somewhat obliquely -- all Hades will break out in public. This would be, should it ever come to pass, a far worse punishment on the human race than an act of God. We would have, in that case, a hell of our own making, rather than a punishment imposed.

When we add to the specter of this scary future the possibilities of the political disorder that may well befall us following the November election, we get a whole lot more to be worried about. That said, we must be convinced about the one thing I have over and over asserted in preaching, namely, that we must hang on mightily to our Catholic faith -- never apostatize! -- pray, and do penance in reparation for all the crimes being committed -- and those further contemplated -- in this increasingly godless world.

Lest I give the wrong idea about my intentions here, let me add that a Christian always lives in hope, never in despair. The final outcome of all things is a given of our faith. Moreover, grace will not be lacking to all who seek it. In my current reading, a biography of Solzhenitsyn by Joseph Pierce (the same who lectured here a few weeks ago), I take inspiration from a man of incredible courage and indomitable faith, having once himself been an atheist and a Communist who then became a Christian and an outspoken critic of all totalitarianism and idealist systems and of the corrupted leanings of the western world. His is the story of good winning out over tremendous political evils and personal suffering. Hope, courage, tenacity, prayer: these are the themes of his life which encourage me.

I want you, my parishioners, to be strong in faith, constant in prayer, and unflappable in spirit.
Related: Joseph Pearce, "An Interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn" (Catholic Education Research Center, St. Austin Review, 2003).

So the American dream is dead but some just haven't noticed yet?

I've never quite believed in American exceptionalism the way some people do. But I do believe there was something mighty special about America for a while. Read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Praire. Read any number of heroic stories from WWII, like Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken. Or drive across America on her impressive system of Interstate highways. Or listen to Jeff Daniels' terrific speech (if you can get past the 'f-bombs') in this opening segment of the series, Newsroom.

Some scenarios about the present and future are pretty grim. I admit to being pretty grim myself sometimes, though I'm basically pretty upbeat as you'd know if you talked to me. Yet there's something in the grim picture that has a ring of truth, at least on Tuesdays and Thursdays, if you know what I mean.

Take this email I received referencing a speech by Franklin Graham, for instance. It starts with a third party introducing Graham's words like this:
Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again.Franklin Graham was speaking at the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, when he said America will not come back. He wrote:
The American dream ended on November 6th, 2012 in Ohio. The second term of Barack Obama has been the final nail in the coffin for the legacy of the white Christian males who discovered, explored, pioneered, settled and developed the greatest republic in the history of mankind.

A coalition of blacks, Latinos, feminists, gays, government workers, union members, environmental extremists, the media, Hollywood, uninformed young people, the "forever needy," the chronically unemployed, illegal aliens and other "fellow travelers" have ended Norman Rockwell's America.

You will never again out-vote these people. It will take individual acts of defiance and massive displays of civil disobedience to get back the rights we have allowed them to take away. It will take zealots, not moderates and shy, reach-across-the-aisle RINOs to right this ship and restore our beloved country to its former status.

People like me are completely politically irrelevant, and I will probably never again be able to legally comment on or concern myself with the aforementioned coalition which has surrendered our culture, our heritage and our traditions without a shot being fired.

The Cocker spaniel is off the front porch, the pit bull is in the back yard. The American Constitution has been replaced with Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" and the likes of Chicago shyster David Axelrod along with international socialist George Soros have been pulling the strings on their beige puppet have brought us Act 2 of the New World Order.

The curtain will come down but the damage has been done, the story has been told.

Those who come after us will once again have to risk their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to bring back the Republic that this generation has timidly frittered away due to white guilt and political correctness...

At the same time, I realize that the vast majority of foreign refugees and would-be immigrants clamouring to get into our country are still motivated by the icon of hope that is America. At least most of them are flying from oppressive regimes in countries where the daily possibility is life or death; and they come to America because there is promise of relative security, food, shelter, clothing, and opportunities to live and prosper here. That fact alone tells us that the glass is still half full, that the water hasn't been entirely drained yet. That's positive. Even if it isn't much.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tridentine Community News - The three Masses of All Souls Day; Bination and Trination; Side alters; TLM Mass schedule

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (October 23, 2016):
October 23, 2016 -- Twenty-third Sunday After Pentecost

The Three Masses of All Souls Day

Continuing a local tradition of devotion to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, for the ninth year in a row we will hold a special evening of prayer for the faithful departed at which the Three Masses of All Souls Day will be offered. It will take place at Windsor’s St. Alphonsus Church on Wednesday, November 2. It is a great act of charity for those of us on Earth to pray for the Souls in Purgatory on this important day in the Church calendar. Indeed, a Plenary Indulgence may be gained by those who visit a church on All Souls Day and pray an Our Father and Creed in the church.

At 6:00 PM, two Low Masses will be celebrated simultaneously celebrated at the two Side Altars of the church, a rare opportunity to see Side Altars in use. Then, at 7:00 PM, a Solemn High Mass with Deacon and Subdeacon will be celebrated at the High Altar, to be followed by Absolution at the Catafalque in commemoration of all faithful departed. The St. Benedict Tridentine Community Choir will sing Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem Mass.

Bination & Trination

Under normal circumstances, Monday through Saturday, a priest is permitted to celebrate no more than two Holy Masses. The celebration of two Masses on the same day is called “bination.” On Sundays and Holy Days, a priest may celebrate three Masses (“trination”) if he has the permission of his bishop or because of necessity, which is increasingly become the norm in these days of scarcity of priests.

As with many other laws of the Church, this limitation makes common sense. Priests should celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with attentiveness and devotion. The more Masses that a priest must say on the same day, the greater the possibility that he may lose focus and concentration. Holy Mass must not be celebrated distractedly, absent-mindedly, or in a bored fashion.

All Souls Day is the only non-Sunday, non-Holy Day in the Church Year on which a priest is permitted to celebrate three Masses. This permission is a vivid symbol by which Holy Mother Church encourages us to pray for the Souls in Purgatory. The Tridentine Missal contains three distinct sets of Mass Propers to be celebrated, should a priest be able to celebrate all three Masses. Note that no matter how many Masses are celebrated, the faithful may receive Holy Communion at no more than two Masses per day.

At 6:00 PM, the Second Mass of All Souls Day will be celebrated at the left Side Altar, while the Third Mass of All Souls will be offered at the right Side Altar. At 7:00 PM, the Solemn High Mass will be the First Mass of All Souls, as the rubrics require the Sung Mass of the day to be the First Mass (“First”, “Second”, and “Third” referring to the Mass Propers set, not the sequence in which the Masses are said). The celebrant of the Solemn High Mass will binate, while the priest who will serve as Subdeacon at the Solemn High Mass will not binate, because the Deacon and Subdeacon at a Solemn High Mass are not concelebrants. Indeed, they may not be priests at all but rather lower ranking clergy.

Side Altars

Many churches built prior to 1965 incorporate one or more Side Altars. Today, these altars serve mostly devotional purposes. At St. Alphonsus Church, the right side altar is devoted to our Blessed Mother. The left side altar is surmounted by a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but underneath the altar are relics and an effigy of St. Tegulus, a third century Roman martyr [pictured below]. Those Side Altars had and still have a primary purpose: To host the celebration of Holy Mass.

Mass may only be celebrated on an altar containing consecrated relics. Those relics are contained within an altar stone, placed in the middle of the altar. In fact, the altar stone itself is actually the “altar”, whereas the table surrounding it is properly termed the “mensa.” Most of the Side Altars in our local churches contain altar stones.

Each Side Altar also contains a functional tabernacle. The purpose of these tabernacles is not to serve as a primary repository for the Blessed Sacrament; that function is reserved for the main tabernacle on the High Altar. Rather, these tabernacles 1) can temporarily hold a ciborium with Hosts consecrated at the Mass celebrated at that altar until those Hosts can later be transferred to the main tabernacle; 2) can contain pre-consecrated Hosts to be distributed at a Mass celebrated at that altar; 3) can contain pre-consecrated Hosts needed for distribution at major event Masses that fill the church; and 4) can serve as temporary repositories when the High Altar tabernacle must be kept empty, such as during construction or on Good Friday.

Every priest is encouraged to celebrate one Mass per day. In the era when there were multiple priests assigned to a parish, and the parish may only have had one public Mass per weekday, the Side Altars were the places where the other priests in the parish would celebrate their daily Masses, often at the same time as Mass was being celebrated at the High Altar. Nowadays, one generally sees this happening only at churches with an abundance of priests, such as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome; the Brompton Oratory in London, England; and at liturgical conferences.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 10/24 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Raphael the Archangel)
  • Tue. 10/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (Ss. Chrysanthus & Daria, Martyrs)
  • Sat. 10/29 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (Saturday of Our Lady)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for October 23, 2016. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week


  • Sun. 10/23 7:30 AM and 10:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 45 minutes before and after Masses) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 8:00 and 10:30AM Low Mass (Confessions 1/2 hour before Mass: call beforehand) at St. Ann's Church, Livonia [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 9:30 AM: High Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 9:45 AM: High Mass at OCLMA/Academy of the Sacred Heart, Bloomfield Hills (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 [occasional Tridentine Masses: contact parish] at Our Lady of the Scapular Parish (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 12:00 Noon: Solemn High Mass at St. Joseph, Detroit (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Tue. 10/23 2:00 PM: High Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Canada (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 3:00 PM: Low Mass (call ahead for Confession times, 989-892-5936) at Infant of Prague, Bay City [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 3:00 PM High Mass St. Matthew Catholic Church, Flint (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)


  • Mon. 10/24 7:30 AM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (St. Raphael the Archangel - 3rd class)
  • Sun. 10/24 7:30 AM and 10:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 45 minutes before and after Masses) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (St. Raphael the Archangel - 3rd class)
  • Sun. 10/24 8:00 and 10:30AM Low Mass (Confessions 1/2 hour before Mass: call beforehand) at St. Ann's Church, Livonia [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (St. Raphael the Archangel - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 10/24 8:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (St. Raphael the Archangel - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 10/24 12:00 Noon: High Tridentine Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (St. Raphael the Archangel - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 10/24 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat, Detroit (St. Raphael the Archangel - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 10/24 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (St. Raphael the Archangel - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 10/24 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph's Church, Detroit (St. Raphael the Archangel - 3rd class)


  • Tue. 10/25 7:00 AM Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (Feria - 4th class, or Sts. Chrysanthus & Daria - 4th class, or [USA] St. Isidore the Farmer - 3rd class)
  • Tue. 10/25 8:00 AM: Low Mass (call for Confession schedule) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (Feria - 4th class, or Sts. Chrysanthus & Daria - 4th class, or [USA] St. Isidore the Farmer - 3rd class)
  • Tue. 10/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Canada (Feria - 4th class, or Sts. Chrysanthus & Daria - 4th class, or [USA] St. Isidore the Farmer - 3rd class)
  • Tue. 10/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (Feria - 4th class, or Sts. Chrysanthus & Daria - 4th class, or [USA] St. Isidore the Farmer - 3rd class)


  • Wed. 10/26 7:30 AM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (Feria - 4th class, or St. Evaristus - 4th class)
  • Wed. 10/26 8:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (Feria - 4th class, or St. Evaristus - 4th class)
  • Wed. 10/26 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (Feria - 4th class, or St. Evaristus - 4th class)





* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins." These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites. Also please note that St. Joseph's SSPX Chapel in Richmond has moved to Ray Township, at 57575 Romeo Plank Rd., Ray Twp., MI 48096.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Donate. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Today we received no donations. 16 more days! Perhaps as our friend Ann Marie suggests, I need to keep on sharing without interruption! For what are we soliciting funds? To help a single mom buy a reliable used car to get to and from work. See HERE for details.

Please give generously.

If you cannot give money, please pray for the success of this fund-raiser; and pray for Tonya and her family.
Thank you!!

Tolkien: England's Anglo-Saxon Catholic Oracle

Joseph Pearce, who spoke recently at Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit on the subject of Tolkien's novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, argues compellingly that Tolkien's works and the characters in them represent a sort of parallel history of redemption, although he didn't use the word, a parallel 'Gospel,' as it were. He has two books that elaborate this thesis, one on Frodo, the other on Bilbo. Very interesting. I'm struck by how so much in his work reads, in places, like a commentary on our own times:
'What about Rivendell and the Elves? Is Rivendell safe?'

'Yes, at present, until all else is conquered. The Elves may fear the Dark Lord, and they may fly before him, but never again will they listen to him or serve him....

'Indeed there is power in Rivendell to withstand the might of Mordor, for a while: and elsewhere other powers still dwell. There is power, too, of another kind in the Shire. But all such places will soon become islands under siege, if things go on as they are going. The Dark Lord is putting forth all his strength.'
In many ways, Tolkien created the classic Anglo-Saxon Catholic myth, a myth for the English-speaking people, a Catholic myth that has its own truth by representing a parallel to another great 'myth,' the greatest 'myth' of all, the 'myth' which turns out to be true; that is, true history from God's point of view: the Bible.

The world we live in is falling into darkness; and the darkness cannot be understood spiritually without penetrating behind the scrim that divides us from the unseen world of principalities and powers at war in the spiritual world. Tolkien takes us there if we have eyes to see. What he shows us is that there is always hope; but our true hope does not always lie in the world around us and the temporal means at hand. There are powers we haven't the means to resist within ourselves. But there are powers greater than those of Mordor for those with the spiritual discernment to understand this truth.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Donate here (to help a single-mom in need) - 17 more days

Thanks to our most recent doners, who include my sister in Seattle, a former seminary student, a seminary colleague, and a friend from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Your generous gifts toward helping someone in need get reliable transportation to and from her job are most appreciated.

Again, I am humbled by the willingness of people (sometimes complete strangers to me) to reach out to help another complete stranger, especially as I am unable to provide photos, personal information, or tax write-offs. I continue to be in awe of people's large-hearted generosity and trust. Thank you.

The financial need is both genuine and great. If others among our readers are willing to step up, the 'Donate' button below should link directly do the 'Academy Press' account where you may use either Paypal or a credit card to make your donation.

Please give generously.

If you cannot give money, please pray for the success of this fund-raiser; and pray for Tonya and her family.
Thank you!!

"We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III"

Patrick J. Buchanan, "An Establishment in Panic" (WND, October 20, 2016): [published here with some significant omissions]:
Pressed by moderator Chris Wallace as to whether he would accept defeat should Hillary Clinton win the election, Donald Trump replied, “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”

“That’s horrifying,” said Clinton, setting off a chain reaction on the post-debate panels with talking heads falling all over one another in purple-faced anger, outrage and disbelief.

“Disqualifying!” was the cry on Clinton cable.

“Trump Won’t Say If He Will Accept Election Results,” wailed the New York Times. “Trump Won’t Vow to Honor Results,” ran the banner in the Washington Post.

But what do these chattering classes and establishment bulletin boards think the Donald is going to do if he falls short of 270 electoral votes?

Lead a Coxey’s Army on Washington and burn it down as British Gen. Robert Ross did in August 1814, while “Little Jemmy” Madison fled on horseback out the Brookville Road?

What explains the hysteria of the establishment?

In a word, fear.

The establishment is horrified at the Donald’s defiance because, deep within its soul, it fears that the people for whom Trump speaks no longer accept its political legitimacy or moral authority. It may rule and run the country, and may rig the system through mass immigration and a mammoth welfare state so that Middle America is never again able to elect one of its own. But that establishment, disconnected from the people it rules, senses, rightly, that it is unloved and even detested.

Having fixed the future, the establishment finds half of the country looking upon it with the same sullen contempt that our Founding Fathers came to look upon the overlords Parliament sent to rule them.

Establishment panic is traceable to another fear: Its ideology, its political religion, is seen by growing millions as a golden calf, a 20th-century god that has failed.

Trump is “talking down our democracy,” said a shocked Clinton.

After having expunged Christianity from our public life and public square, our establishment installed “democracy” as the new deity, at whose altars we should all worship. And so our schools began to teach.

Half a millennia ago, missionaries and explorers set sail from Spain, England and France to bring Christianity to the New World.

Today, Clintons, Obamas and Bushes send soldiers and secularist tutors to “establish democracy” among the “lesser breeds without the Law.”

Unfortunately, the natives, once democratized, return to their roots and vote for Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, using democratic processes and procedures to re-establish their true God.

And Allah is no democrat.

By suggesting he might not accept the results of a “rigged election” Trump is committing an unpardonable sin. But this new cult, this devotion to a new holy trinity of diversity, democracy and equality, is of recent vintage and has shallow roots.

For none of the three – diversity, equality, democracy – is to be found in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers or the Pledge of Allegiance. In the pledge, we are a republic.

When Ben Franklin, emerging from the Philadelphia convention, was asked by a woman what kind of government they had created, he answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Among many in the silent majority, Clintonian democracy is not an improvement upon the old republic; it is the corruption of it.

Consider: Six months ago, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton bundler, announced that by executive action he would convert 200,000 convicted felons into eligible voters by November.

If that is democracy, many will say, to hell with it.

And if felons decide the electoral votes of Virginia, and Virginia decides who is our next U.S. president, are we obligated to honor that election?

Yet, some of us recall another time, when Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in “Points of Rebellion”:

“We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.”

Baby-boomer radicals loved it, raising their fists in defiance of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

But now that it is the populist-nationalist right that is moving beyond the niceties of liberal democracy to save the America they love, elitist enthusiasm for “revolution” seems more constrained.

What goes around comes around.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Eighteen more days!

No, not until the election! We are in Day Four of a three-week fund raiser for a hard-working African-American single mother-of-two who needs serious help buying a reliable used car to get to and from work.

First, I want to say how humbled (or is 'awed' a better word?) by the generosity of our good readers who have contributed so generously to this worthy cause thus far. Especially so, since we have no tax-exemption status to allow you to claim your donations on your taxes. And ALSO because, in keeping with the wishes of the woman we're trying to help, she understandably wishes not to have her name, photo, or personal details posted on the Internet. Which means that those of you who have already contributed so generously have done so in trust, by trusting me and what I've told you. That is humbling indeed.

Gifts have been coming in from as far away as Ireland! Generous gifts. In denominations of $15, $20, $25, $50, and $100. But we still have a long way to go if we're going to help this good lady buy reliable transportation. She needs our help.

I have never been a master of the "art of the deal," like Trump. I wouldn't know how to sell something to save my life. But when it comes to begging for help for someone else -- that I can do!

Here's how I look at it. Some people, through no fault of their own, find themselves in circumstances that haven't conduced to their financial advantage. I, through no merit of my own, find myself in circumstances that have conduced (at least modestly) to some financial advantage. Don't get me wrong: I'm no Trump. I'm a seminary professor, educated in the tastes of the wealthy gentleman living in a gated community, but with an income that wouldn't allow me to purchase even the gate house. I've never bought a new car in my life. But I have some expendable income. We can afford to dine out sometimes.

So I wonder how God sees us. On the one hand, here's a woman who isn't sitting on her haunches collecting welfare. She's working. She can make ends meet for the most part. But her hours are not quite full-time. She has virtually no money to put towards the purchase of a new pre-owned vehicle. She couldn't possibly afford monthly payments. On the other hand, here I sit in our modest dwelling, but virtually debt-free. We have some savings.

The moral calculus is easy. It's not rocket science. My parents loved the verse: "Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law." (Romans 13:8)

Then there's this, the last part of which one of my sons learned in Latin once: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (I Corinthians 9:6-7).

Please give generously.

If you cannot give money, please pray for the success of this fund-raiser; and pray for Tonya and her family.
Thank you!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fund-raiser update! Thanks to our latest donors!!

I want to update you on our fund raiser for our sister-in-Christ who needs funds to help buy an operable used automobile to get to and from work. See more details HERE and HERE.

So far, after two days, we have had a total of eight generous donations and two pledges from individuals and families as far away as Ireland. Not all donors give out their addresses, but so far we have donations from: Ireland, Utah, North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, and several of unknown origin. I would like to thank our most recent donors, who include Tim and Karla Dorweiler, Rob Mercantante, Teresa Grindlay, and Danielle Blosser; and two pledges -- one from Daniel Graham Clark and another from Ben Lafayette.

For the convenience of anyone else who would like to help out this friend-in-need, we've placed a donate button right on the bottom of this page.

Remember: Hilarem enim datorem diligit Deus ("God loves a cheerful giver")!!

Please give generously.

If you cannot give money, please pray for the success of this fund-raiser; and pray for Tonya and her family.
Thank you!!

Is it me, or is it getting cold in here ...

Thus spake a reader who emailed me this: Michael J. Kruger, "How my books are being banned at the Society of Biblical Literature" (Cannon Fodder, October 19, 2016). Excerpts:
... Dr. John Kutsko, executive director of the Society of Biblical Literature, has just proposed that InterVarsity Press–one of the largest evangelical presses in the country– be suspended from having a book stall at the annual SBL meeting (starting in 2017).

The reason for this ban is the recent decision by InterVarsity to uphold the biblical view of marriage and to ask their employees to do the same (see IVP clarification on their policy here).

Since I have a current book with IVP Academic, The Question of Canon, and a forthcoming book with them on Christianity in the second century, SBL would effectively be banning my books from the annual meeting. And that would be true for hundreds and hundreds of other IVP authors.

[Hat tip to JM]

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fund-raiser update! Two weeks and five days to go!

I want to update you on our fund raiser for our sister-in-Christ who needs funds to help buy an operable used automobile to get to and from work. See details on how to donate online or by check HERE.

So far, after just one day, we have donations coming in from as far away as Ireland, Utah, North Carolina, and closer to where we live in Michigan. I would like to thank Mick Leahy, Susan Conner, Kenneth McCormick and Joe Martin for their generous donations.

We all know, nevertheless, that even used cars aren't free. I remember when my father brought our family back from Japan on furlough, he bought a very nice used Ford Fairlane for $400. But that was in 1963. This is 2016. Prices have gone up. A decent used car is going to cost several thousand dollars, at least.

So we need you to contribute whatever you can. While large donations are unexpected surprises, modest donations make us just as happy. Hilarem enim datorem diligit Deus! ("God loves a cheerful giver")

Remember, this opportunity will eventually go away, just like those (annoying) campaigns on the classical music station or on public radio. But, unlike those charities, this is a chance to offer real help to a sister-in-Christ who is doing her best to keep body and soul together by keeping her job. Only, in another few weeks, she won't be able to get to work if she doesn't have a car. You can help. Can't you?

You know what I really wish? I wish I could get some of these left-wing friends of mine who talk endlessly about social justice, the evils of racism, and the 'evil' religious right, to put their money where their mouths are and, just once, help support a good African-American woman in need. Like most American blacks, about all she's received from the current administration is a free phone; but that's not going to buy her a car. She needs real help, not token help. And it's not as if she's sitting at home collecting welfare. She's not. She's working. And that's something that any of us should be willing to support.

After a full week passes, I'll give you a break-down on where we stand. I'd love it if we could raise at least $3000. That would make a difference. Of course, I should probably step out in faith, think 'big,' and expect sufficient generosity to buy her a spanking new car!

Give generously!

Thank you!

Liturgy and Beauty: An Essay

Note: What follows is an essay based on a presentation I delivered recently to the Oakland County Latin Mass Association at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills, MI, on October 16, 2016. It is posted here temporarily at the request of some in the audience and for the benefit of anyone else interested in the presentation who could not attend it. The material in it is drawn from research done for a course in aesthetics I used to teach at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, and is distilled here, often with little more than a passing suggestion as to how to 'connect the dots' mentioned; but hopefully it will be sufficiently accessible to tickle the reader's fancy and suggest some fruitful ways of thinking about things like liturgy and beauty.
Liturgy and Beauty
(©All rights reserved)

by Philip Blosser

C. S. Lewis somewhere distinguishes two different attitudes we may entertain while assisting at liturgy: that of the reverent participant, and that of the detached critic. An attitude of reverence typically allows us to be drawn spontaneously into liturgical worship without undue distraction. The attitude of the critic, however, interferes with worshiping God. The critic is seriously hindered from even finding God at Mass.

The German Catholic author and critic, Martin Mosebach, laments that the jarring liturgical innovations of recent decades have been largely responsible for provoking this kind of a critical attitude among the faithful. Today, he says, we ask questions like:
What is absolutely indispensable for genuine liturgy? When are the celebrant’s whims tolerable, and when do they become unacceptable? We have got used to accepting the liturgy on the basis of minimum requirements, whereas the criteria ought to be maximal. And finally, we have started to evaluate liturgy – a monstrous act! We sit in the pews and ask ourselves, was that Holy Mass, or wasn’t it? I go to church to see God and come away like a theatre critic.1
One of the most significant factors behind these unfortunate developments, I would argue, is the loss of what I would call ‘liturgical fittingness” – a fittingness, or aptness, or harmony between the external forms of liturgy and the act of worship these forms are meant to express – a fittingness between the art, architecture, vestments, postures, gestures, and actions involved in the liturgy, on the one hand, and the attitudes of reverence, honor, majesty, and adoration due to God as our sovereign Creator and Savior, on the other. Further, I contend, such fittingness is at the heart of what we traditionally call beauty.

Beauty…. What is ‘beauty’? Building on centuries of earlier reflection on the subject, St. Thomas Aquinas answers this question by first observing that beauty is that which pleases upon being seen (id quod visum placet). Certainly that sounds right. Beauty delights us. It enthralls us. It can elevate our souls and fill us with ineffable longing for that which is eternal.

But if this were all that could be said about beauty, we would have a problem. For, if beauty were no more than that which pleases us, it would be purely subjective. It would amount to saying that what makes something beautiful is the fact that we happen to like it. Certainly there are many who would agree with this view. We see it the philistine relativist who says: “Different strokes for different folks.” But relativism about beauty seems to have been an ingrained prejudice even before the advent of postmodern relativism. For example, we find this view affirmed in the old adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Or in the maxim De gustibus non est disputandum (“There is no disputing about taste”).

But if this were true, it would mean that we couldn’t dispute matters of taste and beauty, which is clearly not true. It would mean that fans of the “recent liturgical unpleasantness” of the last half-century were beyond criticism in their preferences. It would mean, for example, that they couldn’t be criticized for claiming that Marty Haugen’s hymns (I use the term loosely) are every bit as ‘beautiful’ as Palestrina’s motets, simply because they happen to like Marty Haugen’s wares, just as some philistines prefer Twinkies or Hostess Cupcakes to fine French or Italian cuisine. (A good book on recent Catholic hymnody is Thomas Day's Why Catholics Can't Sing: Catholic Culture and the Triumph of Bad Taste [New York: Crossroad, 1990].)

But thankfully St. Thomas doesn’t stop here. He goes on to say that beauty is characterized by three more properties: (1) Integritas – by which he means integrity, wholeness, completeness, perfection, or what we’ll call unity; (2) Claritas – by which he means clarity, splendor, brilliance, radiance, or what we’ll call brightness; and (3) Consonantia – by which he means a certain consonance, harmony, an apt fitting together, or what we’ll call fittingness. (By ‘fittingness’ here we mean not only the harmony between the parts of a work of art, but also the harmony between the work of art and the values it seeks to express, or, in the case of liturgy, the values appropriate to the worship of God.)

Now what is remarkable about these last three characteristics of beauty is that, unlike the first one mentioned by St. Thomas – namely, that which pleases us, or that which we just happen to like – these last three characteristics are objective. They are properties of the object we’re talking about, rather than of our subjective responses. This is what allows us to say that just as truth is the proper object of right knowing, and good is the proper object of right willing, so beauty is the proper object of right admiration. Knowing the truth assumes that we are able to distinguish between reality and illusion, like the difference between what really happened in the Spanish Inquisition and the revisionist falsehoods attributed to it in popular mythology. Willing the good assumes that we are able to distinguish between real and merely apparent goods, like the difference between growing in virtue and growing in popularity. Admiring the beautiful assumes that we are able to distinguish between what deserves to be called beautiful, like Michelangelo’s Pieta, and what doesn’t but merely happens to please us, like Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans.

But how can we know what should be judged beautiful and what shouldn’t? St. Thomas already points us toward the answer by listing three objective characteristics that all beautiful things have: unity, brightness, and fittingness. These suggest that our judgments about beauty needn’t be arbitrary, but can be based on objective qualities that a work of art or music or liturgy may have.

Take fittingness. One of the easiest ways of understanding how fittingness works is through metaphor and simile. “My face was red as a beet.” “He had a voice like a foghorn.” “He has guts.” “This is a ticklish problem.” “This is a dark day in American politics.” “The hours dragged on.” “I felt like a dishrag after that.” “His face clouded over.” “She was wearing a loud perfume.” “Harod is a fox.”

The point of interest here is how our meaning spans the gulf between Harod and the fox, for example. Literally it isn’t true that Harod is a fox. Harod is a person. But figuratively we know what the metaphor means, because Harod is sly and cunning like a fox. So the equation is apt. It fits. It is fitting. The way we see this isn’t through intellectual analysis but through imaginative synthesis. We intuitively grasp the fittingness of the putting these two things together.

We also can illustrate fittingness by matching various nursery rhymes with different ways of walking: For example, “Fee, fi, fo fum” goes together with stomping like a heavy-footed giant, whereas “Hi diddle diddle” goes together with light-footed leaping or prancing. We see the same principle in how we call orange a ‘warm’ color or blue a ‘cool’ color; or in the study that showed that most people associate Shakespeare’s Hamlet with the color purple or burgundy, but almost never with yellow or green;2 or in the remarkable phenomenon synesthesia, first noted by Goethe in the 19th century, who noted that music sometimes produced various color impressions in certain people;3 or the fact that tones a seventh apart are almost always associated with restlessness, while tones an octave apart are associated with rest or tranquility.

In one experiment, people were asked to list corresponding terms under the paired terms ‘ping’ and ‘pong’, and the vast majority came up with the following correlations: light/heavy, small/large; ice cream/warm pea soup; pretty girl/matron; trumpet sound/cello sound; Mozart’s music/Beethoven’s music; Matisse’s paintings/Rembrandt’s paintings.4 Likewise, when asked to compare two lines, one sharp and jagged with another soft and undulating, the terms most often correlated with this lines were ‘restlessness’ and ‘tranquility.’

So what’s going on here? First, to test whether such judgments of ‘fittingness’ are arbitrary or culturally relative, a researcher named C.E. Osgood in the 1960s administered tests to English-speaking Americans, Mexican-Americans in the Southwest, Navajos, and Japanese subjects. He found approximately 90% agreement on comparisons that were considered ‘fitting.’5 Furthermore, there’s plenty of evidence to show that joy and hope are almost universally associated with short upward sloping lines, bright colors, and the major key in music, while sadness and despair are associated with long downward sloping lines, dark shades of gray and black, the minor key in music.

Second, a puzzling feature about such comparisons is what serves as the standard of comparison. For example, when we compare two athletes to see which can run the fastest, no question arises as to the commons standard of comparison, which is obviously speed. But when we ask why most people say that loud is more like large than it is like small, what is the standard of comparison? They’re comparing a sound with a size; and they’re saying one kind of sound is more like (or more fittingly expresses) one size than another. How strange! But what Osgood’s study shows is that several relevant factors emerge, such as potency and activity. Loud is more like large than small with respect to potency; whereas fast is more like hot than cold, and a jagged line is more like restlessness than tranquility, with respect to activity.6

What does this tell us? First of all, it tells us that judgments about beauty can have an objective basis. They can be based on qualities that are found in works of art, music, architecture, liturgy, and so on. In other words, such judgments don’t have to be simply arbitrary. They can reference certain characteristics like unity, brightness, and fittingness found in such works of art.

Second, this also tells us that there are certain objective characteristics in a liturgy that make it beautiful because they are fitting with respect to such qualities as reverence, holiness, majesty, and awe. Church architecture that is fitting to such qualities will exhibit characteristics of permanence, unity and verticality, as Michael Rose has shown.7 Vestments, postures, gestures, and actions will likewise fittingly reflect these qualities. It’s true that soldiers in the field may celebrate Mass with muddied boots in the jungles of Vietnam or in the sand-swept wastes of Afghanistan with nothing more than the hood of a jeep to serve as an altar. But even there, they attempt to salvage whatever bits of beauty and dignity they can: a white altar cloth is laid; the soldiers kneel, etc. The exception thus proves the rule: what is most apt and most fitting for divine worship is clean shoes, clean vestments, and a church with a high altar and incense and a vaulted ceiling that bespeaks transcendence and awe. What is never fitting at Mass is comportment, dress, postures, gestures, music and ambience that bespeak the carefree nonchalance of a beach party. In the presence of our Lord and Savior, our Creator and our King, what is called for is a studied solemnity, reserve, decorum, and postures, gestures, music and ambience befitting transcendence, awe, reverence and honor.

Once I was at St. Josephat for a Monday evening low Mass nearly a decade ago, and there I noticed that one thing I really like about the extraordinary form is that nothing in it distracts us from the focus of the liturgy upon our Lord. On the contrary, everything – each part of the liturgy, every carefully-prescribed gesture of the servers and priest, their ad orientem disposition, their attentiveness and reverence toward the altar and the Tabernacle and crucifix at its center, and even the silence – seem to conspire to draw our attention toward the Lord. Not one gesture by priest or servers draws attention to itself, saying "Here, look at me!" but rather draws attention to what is going on at the altar in this great mystery of Redemption. Even the long reverent silences of the Canon, far from reducing us to passive spectators, conduces to concentrate our attentiveness to what is transpiring, and so to promote – in the truest sense – our active participation in the liturgy. Here is fittingness. Here is beauty, ever ancient, ever new.

  1. Martin Mosebach, The Heresy of Formlessness (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), p. 25. [back]
  2. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art in Action (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 97. [back]
  3. Lawrence E. Marks, “On Colored-Hearing Synesthesia: Cross-modal Translation of Sensory Dimensions,” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 83, No. 3 (1975), pp. 303-331; Theodore F. Karwoski and H.S. Ogbert, “Color Music” in Psychological Monographs, Vol. 50 (1938), pp. 1-60; M. Collins, “a Case of Synesthesia,” in Journal of General Psychology, Vol. 2 (1929), pp. 12-27; Lorrin A. Riggs and Theodore Karwoski, “Synesthesia,” in British Journal of Psychology, Vol. 25 (1934), pp. 29-41. [back]
  4. Ernst H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (New York: Pantheon Books, 1960), pp. 370-371. My list of terms is taken from the modified schematic based on Gombrich offered by Wolterstorff, Art in Action, p. 97. [back]
  5. “Cross-Cultural Generality of Visual-Verbal Synesthetic Tendencies,” in J.G. Snider and C.E. Osgood, eds, Semantic Differential Technique (Chicago: Aldine, 1969), pp. 561-584. [back]
  6. C.E. Osgood, “Generality of Affective Meaning Systems” in American Psychology, 17 (1962), pp. 19-21; but cf. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art in Action, pp. 108-110, for a critique of Osgood’s psychologistic attempt to explain these patterns, not as direct similarities among the various qualities of reality, but as similarities of affective responses to those qualities. [back]
  7. Michael Rose, “The Three Natural Laws of Catholic Church Architecture,” New Oxford Review (September 2009), pp. 28-34; cf. Michael Rose, Ugly as Sin: Why They Changed Our Churches from Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces and How We can Change Them Back Again (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2001). [back]

Monday, October 17, 2016

Poor black single-mom, a baptized sister in Christ, needs money to buy car to get to work

A good friend of our family (let's call her Tonya), an African-American single mother of two, could easily have gone on welfare. But she was raised under an old-fashioned work ethic and prefers to earn her keep by working at a paying job, such as it is (only part time now). It's the way she chooses to pay the bills and keep body and soul together, God bless her. Those are the same hard-work values she's been teaching her own children.

The trouble is, when you're as far from the celebrated top 1% (super-rich) as she is, it's hard. She's had a number of cars by which she has been getting to and from work, but they keep dying on her. To be honest, when she buys her cars they're usually already on their last legs, so to speak.

For a upwards of a year she's had to depend on someone else to drive her to work, but that option is about to come to an end and she needs to buy a car. In three or four weeks. No bus route is feasible for where she needs to go.

So I'm going out on a limb here and asking for donations. I say "going out on a limb" because I'm not in a position to give you more detailed information about her than I'm providing on this page. Why? It wouldn't be fair to her.

I first tried using a fund-raising website called GoFundMe, but like other sites, they charge a percentage fee and require a photo of the person(s) you're trying to help. But understandably, Tonya doesn't want her picture online. There's just no way. Not going to happen. It would be too embarrassing, she says.

So here's the deal. If our fund-raising drive is successful, and I plan to donate generously myself, what I will do is try to get a photo of Tonya standing beside her new pre-owned vehicle, once she gets it, and then post that online with her thanks.

And as an alternative to a website like GoFundMe, I've decided to use Paypal as the vehicle for soliciting donations (see the 'Donate' button below), which should give you the usual options by which to donate via Paypal -- using credit cards if you don't have a Paypal account.

I set up this Paypal account under the name of 'Academy Press' back when I was involved in a small publishing business on the side in North Carolina, so that's the name you'll most likely see when redirected to the payment page, in addition to my own name (Philip Blosser), depending on whether you pay by Paypal or Credit Card.

We aren't a tax exempt organization, so I'm afraid your donations are not tax deductible, though I can provide you with a receipt if you provide me with your email address.

As another option, if you'd prefer to send a check, please email me [LINK] and I can send you my mailing address. Just put in the SUBJECT LINE of your email the following: 'CAR FUND-RAISER CHARITY.'

This is a limited-time fund-raiser (probably no more than three weeks). And may God bless you as you bless this sister, a sister in Christ, in her need. I will not be taking a percentage of the donations as GoFundMe would. I will forward 100% of what I receive to Tonya with no strings attached.

Please give generously.

If you cannot give money, please pray for the success of this fund-raiser; and pray for Tonya and her family.
Thank you!!