Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fr. Z on St. Pius V's Quo primum

On this feast of St. Pope Pius V (+1572), Fr. Zuhlsdorf "drills into" Quo primum in an excellent discussion offering a synopsis of the document's historical context and significance.

This is exactly the sort of discussion that Roman Catholics need to hear, in order to understand the place of their liturgies within the context of Sacred Tradition.

Fr. Zuhlsdorff allows his audience to listen in -- via his podcast ("PODCAzT 84: St. Pius V and Quo primum") -- as he examines and reads for us Pius V's Apostolic Constitution Quo primum, by which he promulgated the editio princeps of the Missale Romanum.

As prolegomena to the podcast, Fr. Zuhldorf writes:
This history changing document came out of turbulent times. The Council of Trent had just closed and Pius, as Pope, was tasked with the standardization of the Church’s liturgy as a bulwark against attacks on the Catholic Faith on many fronts. Catholic identity was shaken by the theological revolt in the north, uncertain teachings, lack of unity in the expression of worship and even the menace of invasion by Islamic armies.

Because there is a reciprocal relation between what we believe and how we pray, our worship plays a key role in the shaping and maintaining of our Catholic identity in a difficult world.

However, centuries after the editio princeps of the "Tridentine" Roman Missal, decades after Paul VI issued his own Apostolic Constitution for the promulgation of the so-called Novus Ordo of the Roman Rite, confusing claims remain about the juridical force of Pius V’s Quo primum.

Some people maintained that Paul VI absolutely abolished the older, traditional "Tridentine" form of Mass with his own Constitution Missale Romanum.

Some people maintain that Pius V’s Quo primum can never be abrogated or abolished or modified even by other Pope’s and that it still has force of law.

While not trying to get too canonical, we drill into the questions, draw some conclusions, and hear the words of Pius V in their 16th century splendor.

You may surprised at how modern some of the saintly Pope’s actions sound.
Thank you, Fr. Z, for this beautiful synopsis!

US gov't pushes global death culture

In his Friday Fax (April 30, 2009, vol. 12, no. 20, received by email), Austin Ruse writes:
Dear Colleague,

We report today on Hillary Clinton’s announcement last week in Congress that the US government will begin a global push for a right to abortion. She also linked family planning with abortion, a clear violation of the Cairo Program for Action.

We also report today on the Senate hearings of Harold Koh to be the top legal adviser at the US State Department. With him in this position, you can count on greater US engagement in the radical global agenda for abortion and homosexual rights.

We chose these two “American” stories because of the impact these two individuals will have all over the world. (emphasis added)
The two articles are:Battle lines are being drawn. The crunch is coming. Pray without ceasing. Don't be caught off guard. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Take the fight to the Enemy. Clean your Sword.

Kenneth Woodward on Notre Dame: a critique

A reader writes:
Kenneth Woodward, formerly of Newsweek, is a reporter I respect. His writing, on all sorts of aspects of Christianity, has been incisive. Decades ago he fearlessly called Mormonism non-Christian in the pages of Newsweek. He also was unafraid to give Opus Dei a critical grilling ('The Furrow' and 'The Way' may be inspiring, but they are hardly great literature), and he supported Ratzinger against Miraville and those aching for a new Marian definition.

I realize some of those items may make him a dubious source to you and many of your readers. And now he steps on my toes...

In "Why Notre Dame Should Welcome Obama" (The Washington Post, March 30, 2009), the undeniably pro-life and undeniably orthodox Woodward writes:
The Internet is smoking with protests from conservative Catholic bloggers and pro-life Web sites. One of them claims to have collected 206,000 signatures opposing the president's appearance. These pressure groups are aghast that "Our Lady's University" would welcome so resolute an opponent of the church's position on abortion. Some alumni, especially Republicans, are threatening to withhold contributions and bequests. The Vatican is receiving e-mail demanding disciplinary action.

Catholicism is not a sect that shuns the world as evil. As a body, the American hierarchy has usually been both principled and open to political engagement. The bishops have congratulated the new president on his victory and pledged to work with him on issues affecting social and economic justice. Do they now find him morally unfit to speak at a Catholic university?

Obama is not coming to Notre Dame to press a pro-choice agenda but to address issues that affect all American citizens, including Catholics. He will be speaking to students who, like other Americans, gave him a majority of their votes. He will receive an honorary degree because it is the custom, not as a blessing on any of his decisions.

American bishops should remember that it was only a few decades ago that a Catholic was considered unfit for the White House. Do they now believe that a sitting president is unfit to address a Catholic university? It's time the bishops gave a clear and principled response.
And I guess I retort: the times have changed. Mr. Woodward might peruse Peter Kreeft's Ecumenical Jihad for a liberal-minded but conservative rejoinder. No longer can we count on clerics being ostensibly Christian. In fact, we have gay-friendly and gay and lesbian bishops. Not to mention Moslem ones! And no longer can we count on Presidents being 'ostensibly' American, as we have come to understand the term, when Presidents and politicians apologize for the nation's colonial past and actively lobby to advocate evil as good. Click on the web: we now have beauty queens vilified for being unwilling to bless sodomy, and child stars lauded for the courage to come out of the closet.

As for our attitude to our neighbors, no, 'the world is not evil.' But 'The World' as an entity and not our neighbors IS evil in Scripture. People in general, sinful people, make up the world. But biblically speaking, power brokers and leaders and schemes make up The World proper, and these things fund and further evil. Big difference. Is the Military-Industrial complex 'evil;'? Is Hollywood or Vegas 'evil'? I can answer those very quickly: YES.

Woodward I think is a child of his time and represents the idealistic side of Vatican II and liberalism in general. A hard-bitten journalist he may be as well, so the dichotomy is a strange one. His book Making Saints pushed along my conversion. It is bracing stuff. Stirring vignettes, matched with black and white photographic plates: Day, Frasatti, Newman... they come alive at his hands. And, here goes: I think some of Woodward's criticism of JPII's theology of the body is actually warranted too, reflecting a sober and scriptural realism ...
As an aside: check out Calvinist Mark Driscoll's ideas on the Song of Solomon as critiqued here. The reporter's comment is great as well: "I’m not convinced that what I’m hearing from the preacher can be found authoritatively in the text." [Is that not the perfect articulation of the Catholic claim against Protestantism in a sentence or what?], and you will get an equally somewhat over-reaching effort to theologize sex to the uttermost. A far cry from some of the less high-blown reflections of last century's married Frank Sheed.
But here, on Notre Dame, Woodward is wrong. And as any good conservative can tell you, when it is about a Journalist weighing in on Education, it would be a miracle if it were at all otherwise!
It's true, as our correspondent suggests, that I do not share his dim view of Opus Dei or the proposed new Marian definition during the pontificate of John Paul II.

As to Woodward, on the one hand, I do agree with our correspondent that Woodward is wrong about Notre Dame. Woodward's reasoning here is skewed by a prevalent liberal secular bias. On the other hand, although I realize Woodward has a track record of generally reliable reporting on religion in the news, his take on the Notre Dame question does not really surprise me. The fact that he has distorted the facts about Catholicism less often than his peers in the secular media never suggested to me that he could be trusted with conveying consistently reliable insights.

Your thoughts?

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Reader from Mexico on epidemic

The Christ of health¨ procession that took place around the
boundaries of the Mexico City´s Cathedral last Sunday

A reader in Mexico, in a follow-up on a question about reception of Communion during an epidemic, asks for prayer, relates emptying streets, closing businesses, emergency measures "starting to work very slowly in some areas" (Fr. Zuhlsdorf, "Mexico City: Procession against the epidemic," WDTPRS, April 30, 2009).

A Prayer for The Church on Earth

Be with Thy missionaries in pagan lands, put right words into their mouths, prosper their labours, and sustain them under their sufferings with Thy consolations, and carry them on to their reward in heaven. Give the grace of wisdom to those in high station, that they may neither yield to fear, nor be seduced by flattery. Give Thy blessing to all preachers and teachers, that they many speak Thy words and persuade their hearers to love Thee. Be with all faithful servants of Thine, whether in low station or in high. Teach us, one and all, to live in Thy presence and to see Thee, our Great Leader and Thy Cross.
[Acknowledgement: A Newman Prayer Book (Vincent F. Blehl, S.J., 1990), p. 5.]

Standup Dem flip-flopper ...

after garnering years of GOP support, flops back to Obama, GOP campaign contributions in hand (NRO, April 30, 2009).

Obama looks ahead, reaches across the aisle ...

... in nonpartisan speech blaming GOP for everything (Washington Times, April 30, 2009).

See also: Calvin Woodward, "FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape" (AP, April 29, 2009).

[Hat tip to T.K. for Woodward link]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Catholics Come Home

Catholics Come Home is a site devoted to a worthy cause -- the moral equivalent of the repatriation of exiled Catholics. Their site has some state-of-the-art bells and whistles, and they produce some pretty impressive ads, like the following one:

On the one hand, it's helpful now and then to glimpse this inspiring bird's eye view of what the Catholic Church is. On the other hand, it may remind those in the trenches of just how much work is required to prepare the returning repatriate for the realities that await him. In any case, I think most of you will agree that they're mounting a commendable undertaking.

[Hat tip to American Catholic, April 27, 2009]

Presidential Report Card

Michael Denton, "100 Days, 100 Failures" (For the Greater Glory, April 29, 2009), offers a list -- partly humorous, always insightful -- of what he perceives to be the 100 top failures during the first 100 days of the Obama administration. Via Donald R. McClarey, "Obama Report Card" (American Papist, April 29, 2009).

See also: Calvin Woodward, "FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape" (AP, April 29, 2009).

Bishop Tobin warns against unnatural marriage

Fr. Zuhlsdorf, "Bp. Tobin speaks powerfully about unnatural marriage" (WDTPRS, April 29, 2009). His Excellency, Most Reverend Thomas Tobin, Bishop of Providence, has something to say in the Rhode Island Catholic. He writes:
“Rhode Island, Most Catholic State, Welcomes Gay Marriage”

That’s a headline we haven’t seen yet, dear readers, but probably will in the next couple of years. And, make no mistake about it – that’s exactly what the headline will say as the story makes its way around the state and across the nation.

The march toward gay marriage across our nation is relentless, [without doubt] and liberal New England is leading the way.
Commenting on Bishop Tobin's piece, Fr. Zuhlsdorff writes: "The usual methods of social re-engineering include what I call "creeping incrementalism". You start slowly, not trying to attain everything you aim for in one fell swoop, but rather strive merely to bump the paradigm a degree or two in the direction you want it to go. Eventually, what seemed once to be inconceivable comes to be remotely possible, then plausible, then probably a good idea, and then obligatory.

There is an phrase in Latin… in finem citius... things go faster toward the end."

Action concerning Notre Dame

"First 300,000 Petition Signatures Delivered to Notre Dame Board Members, Fr. Jenkins" (Cardinal Newman Society, April 29, 2009): Copies Are Being Rushed to Rome, Papal Nuncio, USCCB and ND Bishop John D’Arcy":
... it took The Cardinal Newman Society more than 24 hours to prepare the data and print more than 64,000 sheets of paper, double sided, which were then bound in notebooks and sent via FedEx to Father Jenkins and individual members of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and Board of Fellows.

Copies of the petitions are also being rushed ... to Archbishop Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education; Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to the United States; Francis Cardinal George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); Bishop John D’Arcy, of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who presides over Notre Dame; and Bishop Robert McManus, Chairman of the USCCB Education Committee.
Patrick J. Reilly, President of the Cardinal Newman Society who sponsored the petition, said: "Only the Notre Dame Trustees and Fellows have direct authority over Father Jenkins, so their meetings on Friday are our best hope for an end to this scandal."

In related news, in "Deplorable “Catholic Democrats” deplore Amb. Glendon (WDTPRS, April 29, 2009), Fr. Zuhlsdorf offers a scathing fisking of the latest defense of 'Notre Shame' by "Catholic Democrats," involving their denigration of Amb. Mary Ann Glendon.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

H. Richard Niebuhr's critique of American religion

Lutheran theologian H. Richard Niebuhr offered the classic criticism of the feel-good brand of American religion that made no demands, presented no challenges, and posed no problems. He said that it peddled the idea that "a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." (E.J. Dionne: "Rediscovering the true calling" (, April 12, 2009).

This quote is from H. Richard Niebuhr's The Kingdom of God in America (1937 Wesleyan, 1st ed. rpt., 1988).

One can learn a great deal from this author -- more, I would say, than from his brother, Reinhold, who had a more tendentiously bifurcated "two-kingdom" vision of life, pitting "moral man" against "immoral society."

Among the other helpful books by H. Richard Niebhur, a notable classic is Christ and Culture (1951; rpt., Harper & Row, 1956), in which he traces the way in which the sacred has been viewed in relation to the profane through church history, offering five typologies:
  • "Christ against culture" (antithesis)
  • "Christ of culture" (accommodation)
  • "Christ above culture" (hierarchy)
  • "Christ & culture in paradox" (two-kingdoms juxtaposed)
  • "Christ the transformer of culture" (transformationist)
This is a very helpful heuristic device, despite his mis-classification of the Catholic typology exclusively in terms of the "Christ above culture" schema, overlooking the preponderance of transformationist ("Christ the transformer of culture") elements in the traditions of Augustinianism and Thomism (when properly liberated from its neo-scholastic misinterpretations within Catholicism). George Weigel clearly saw this in his Tranquillitas Ordinis (Oxford, 1989), as did Henri de Lubac in Nature and Grace (Ignatius, 1984), and Pope John Paul II in Fides et Ratio (1998).

The danger of mainstream AmChurch Catholic liberalism today is its embrace of the "Christ of culture" accommodationist vision. In other words, what 'Christ' means for such Catholics is defined by the prevailing culture, such that the distinctive identity of Christ in Sacred Tradition is evacuated of any durable content. The Gospel of such a Catholicism is no more than an embarrassingly vacuous echo of what the world of Obama liberalism is already telling itself.

Another classic by H. Richard Niebuhr is The Social Sources of Denominationalism (1929; rpt., Meridian Books, 1965), in which he says, tellingly, that "Denominationalism represents the moral failure of Christianity." Go figure!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The real Francis A. Schaeffer

Hunter Baker, "Remembering Francis Schaeffer" (Mere Comments, April 27, 2009), writes: "I recently reviewed Colin Duriez's biography of Francis Schaeffer for Themelios. You can read it here."

Baker goes on to offer a clip from the review:
Connecting the young Schaeffer to the more famous, older man is a great strength of Colin Duriez’s book. It has become well-accepted to break Schaeffer’s life up into segments and to characterize him as three different people. There is the young, fire breathing fundamentalist eager to “be ye separate” from the impure compromisers; the artsy, compassionate, bohemian founder of L’abri in Switzerland; and then the old man, brushing off his best instincts and returning to his fundamentalist roots to fight for the doctrine of inerrancy and “Christian America.” While it is possible to reach such a conclusion by looking at his early career and then considering the chronological development of his publications, this book rejects that approach by portraying Schaeffer as a consistent personality throughout.

The man who cared enough to tutor a little boy with Down Syndrome is also the man who told his church in St. Louis that he would resign if a black person ever came to his church and felt unwelcome. The budding intellectual who answered the existential questions of college students in Europe is also the agitator who took up the cause of the unborn and became arguably the finest shaper of and advocate for a potent evangelical critique of modern culture. Two sentences in the book make this point about Schaeffer brilliantly: “It was not a new Schaeffer that was emerging. His theology, honed over many decades since the passionate articles of the later forties and early fifties, was that of the lordship of Christ over every area of life—the womb as well as the university seminar room” (p. 182).
I'm personally delighted to see, finally, a fair-minded assessment of the senior Schaeffer emerge after the unnecessary dust stirred up after his passing has begun to settle.

The book: Colin Duriez, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (Crossway Books, 2008).

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pope addresses PBC on Scripture

"Pope addresses PBC on the Divine Inspiration and Truth of Scripture" (Rorate Caeli, April 24, 2009) says: "Vatican Information Service has reported that Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday morning delivered an address to 30 members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission upon the completion of their plenary assembly, which was dedicated to the theme of 'Inspiration and Truth in the Bible.'" A link is provided to the complete Italian-language text of the papal allocution, and Rorate Caeli is looking to obtain a translation of the complete address. In the meantime, here are a few excerpts from several translated paragraphs provided:
From a correct approach to the concept of divine inspiration and truth in Sacred Scripture derive certain norms that directly concern its interpretation", said the Pope. "The Constitution 'Dei Verbum', having affirmed that God is the author of the Bible, reminds us that in Sacred Scripture God speaks to mankind in a human manner. For a correct interpretation of Scripture we must, then, carefully examine what the hagiographers really sought to say and what God was pleased to reveal with their words.
The Pope then recalled, according to Rorate Caeli, how Vatican Council II had identified "three perennially-valid criteria for interpreting Sacred Scripture in accordance with the Spirit that inspired it. In the first place, great attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture. Indeed, however different the books it contains may be, Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God's plan, of which Jesus Christ is the centre and the heart.

"In the second place," the Pope added, "Scripture must be read in the context of the living Tradition of the entire Church.... The third criterion concerns the need to pay attention to the analogy of the faith; that is, to the cohesion of the individual truths of faith, both with one another and with the overall plan of Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy enclosed in that plan."

The Holy Father continued:
The academic study of the sacred texts is not by itself sufficient. In order to respect the coherence of the Church's faith, Catholic exegetes must be careful to perceive the Word of God in these texts, within the faith of the Church.

The interpretation of Sacred Scriptures cannot be a merely an individual academic undertaking, but must always be compared with, inserted into, and authenticated by the living Tradition of the Church. This norm is essential in order to ensure a correct and reciprocal exchange between exegesis and Church Magisterium. Catholic exegetes do not nourish the individualistic illusion that biblical texts can be better understood outside the community of believers. The opposite is true, because these texts were not given to individual scholars 'to satisfy their curiosity or to provide them with material for study and research'. The texts inspired by God were entrusted to the community of believers, to the Church of Christ, to nourish the faith and to guide the life of charity.

Sacred Scripture is the Word of God in that it is written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Tradition, on the other hand, integrally transmits the Word of God as entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and their successors so that they, illuminated by the Spirit of truth, could faithfully conserve, explain and spread it through their preaching.

Only within the ecclesial context can Sacred Scripture be understood as the authentic Word of God which is guide, norm and rule for the life of the Church and the spiritual development of believers. This means rejecting all interpretations that are subjective or limited to mere analysis [and hence] incapable of accepting the global meaning which, over the course of the centuries, has guided the Tradition of the entire people of God.
(emphasis by Rorate Caeli)
Rorate Caeli provides the fascinating concluding observation: "In truth, the VIS quotes from the Holy Father do not say anything that Benedict XVI has not said on this subject before. It is noteworthy that in portions of his allocution not quoted by VIS, he refers to Leo XIII's Providentissimus Deus and Pius XII's Divino afflante Spiritu, which, though they are neglected or ignored by modern Catholic exegetes (as the Pope seems to hint at), provide the key for a proper understanding of Dei Verbum 11."

New SSPX Rosary Crusade

"The new SSPX Rosary Crusade" (Rorate Caeli, April 25, 2009):
In his latest Letter to Friends and Benefactors (in French, dated April 15, 2009), the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, after some strong words about those enemies of the Church (inside and outside Church institutions) who have been trying to undermine the Pope's efforts of reconciliation, proposes another Rosary Crusade, much larger than the other two previous Crusades.

Doubts about the Resurrection

Aidan Nichols, in "Doubt no longer" (, April 2009):
Today's Gospel shows the first disciples having difficulties and doubts about the Resurrection. Is it real, did it really happen, or is it an illusion, are we misinterpreting the evidence?

Traditionally, the Church has distinguished between difficulties and doubts. According to John Henry Newman, 'Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt'. As reasoning people, we naturally apply our minds to our religion, including to what happened in the aftermath of the Crucifixion. There are difficulties here - about the sources, about the agreement of the witnesses, about the possibility of miracle, and, in the larger picture, about how the Resurrection of the Messiah can be said to fulfil the hope of Israel and consummate the creation. We face up to these difficulties, none of which is insuperable (to put it mildly!), and through them we grow into a more informed and intelligent faith.

Doubt is something more radical. Doubt is wondering whether religious terms have any reference to reality at all. 'God', 'Christ', 'The Resurrection', 'The Holy Spirit', 'grace' - are these words just counters, is it all a game? Curiously, this kind of radical doubt is mentioned by both St Luke and St Matthew in connexion with the Resurrection appearances. With the risen Christ before their very eyes, some doubted. In today's Gospel, Christ gives his own analysis of why this could be and his explanation runs: the cause of it is fear or anxiety. 'Why are you so agitated?' 'Why are these doubts arising in your hearts?' 'Your hearts', we notice, not 'your intellects'. Something is wrong with their sensibility, with their passions, their emotions, and this is what is doing the damage to their judgment. This is what is causing doubt.
[Hat tip to E.E.]

De Deféctibus – Part 1 of 4

Tridentine Community News (April 26, 2009):
Our April 12, 2009 column addressed the role and benefits of Precision in the Sacred Liturgy. The Church is very specific in what She expects of the celebrant during the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass. Rubrics are spelled out in detail in the altar missal. Supplementary rulings have been issued by competent Vatican departments to clarify matters still in question. But did you know that the Tridentine Mass has “Thou Shalt Not” rules in addition to the “Thou Shalts”?

An instruction at the beginning of the 1962 Roman Missal, De Deféctibus (On Defects Occurring in the Celebration of Mass), identifies and discusses possible faults in the celebration of Holy Mass. There are ten chapters. It is short and enlightening, and succinctly conveys Holy Mother Church’s concern not only for the Blessed Sacrament, but also that the faithful receive a valid Sacrament. We therefore present the entire document:

I. Defects of the Missing

1. The priest who is to celebrate Mass should take every precaution to make sure that none of the things required for celebrating the Sacrament of the Eucharist is missing. A defect may occur with regard to the matter to be consecrated, with regard to the form to be observed and with regard to the consecrating minister. There is no Sacrament if any of these is missing: the proper matter, the form, including the intention, and the priestly ordination of the celebrant. If these things are present, the Sacrament is valid, no matter what else is lacking. There are other defects, however, which may involve sin or scandal, even if they do not impair the validity of the Sacrament.

II. Defects of the Matter

2. Defects on the part of the matter may arise from some lack in the materials required. What is required is this: bread made from wheat flour, wine from grapes, and the presence of these materials before the priest at the time of the Consecration.

III. Defect of Bread

3. If the bread is not made of wheat flour, or if so much other grain is mixed with the wheat that it is no longer wheat bread, or if it is adulterated in some other way, there is no Sacrament.

4. If the bread has been made with rose-water or some other distillation, the validity of the Sacrament is doubtful.

5. If the bread has begun to mold, but it is not corrupt, or if it is not unleavened according to the custom of the Latin Church, the Sacrament is valid, but the celebrant is guilty of grave sin.

6. If the celebrant notices before the Consecration that the host is corrupt or that it is not made of wheat flour, he is to replace that host with another, make the offering at least mentally and continue from where he left off.

7. If he notices this after the Consecration, or even after having consumed the host, he is to put out another host, make the offering as above and begin from the Consecration, namely from the words Qui prídie quam paterétur. If he has not consumed the first host, he is to consume it after taking the Body and the Blood, or else reserve it somewhere with reverence. If he has already consumed the first host, he is nevertheless to consume the one that he has consecrated, because the precept of completing the Sacrament is more important than the precept of fasting before Communion.

8. If this should happen after the Blood has been consumed, not only should new bread be brought, but also wine with water. The priest should first make the offering, as above, then consecrate, beginning with the words Qui prídie. Then he should immediately receive under both species and continue the Mass, so that the Sacrament will not remain incomplete, and so that due order will be observed.

9. If the consecrated Host disappears, either by some accident such as a gust of wind or by some animal's taking it, and It cannot be found, then another is to be consecrated, beginning from the Qui prídie quam paterétur, having first been offered as above.

10. In the cases referred to in paragraphs 5-9 above, the elevation of the Sacrament is to be omitted, and everything is to be done so as to avoid, as far as possible, any scandal or wonderment on the part of the faithful.

IV. Defect of Wine

11. If the wine has become mere vinegar, or is completely bad, or if it has been made from sour or unripe grapes, or if so much water has been mixed with it that the wine is adulterated, there is no Sacrament.

12. If the wine has begun to turn to vinegar or to become corrupt, or if it is souring, or if it is unfermented, being made from newly pressed grapes, or if it has not been mixed with water, or if it has been mixed with rose-water or some other distillation, the Sacrament is valid, but the celebrant is guilty of grave sin.

13. If the celebrant notices before the consecration of the Blood, even if the Body has already been consecrated, that there is no wine in the chalice, or no water, or neither wine nor water, he should immediately put in wine and water, make the offering as above and consecrate, beginning with the words Símili modo, etc.

14. If after the words of the Consecration he notices that there was no wine in the chalice, but only water, he is to pour the water into some vessel, put wine and water into the chalice and consecrate, starting again from the words Símili modo, etc.

15. If he notices this after consuming the Body, or after drinking the water in question, he is to set out another host to be consecrated, together with wine and water in the chalice, offer both, consecrate them and consume them, even though he is not fasting.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for April 26, 2009. Hat tip to A.B.]

Leftist indoctrination in state schools

John Ellis, One-Party Classroom (, April 24, 2009):
One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indocrinate Students and Undermine our Democracy is the third recent book in which David Horowitz has documented and commented on the politicization of higher education. The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America (2006) was a series of profiles of “political activists masquerading as scholars.” Indoctrination U. The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom (2007) made the case for the Academic Bill of Rights, Horowitz’s sample legislation designed to protect students from political indoctrination, and to recall the academy to the principles set out in 1915 by the American Association of University Professors—principles which the AAUP seems now to have abandoned. One-Party Classroom, written with Jacob Laksin, documents what happens in the college classroom. It takes twelve representative American campuses—large and small, public and private, but all prominent—and looks at course descriptions, departmental statements of purpose, course reading lists, and statements by instructors, to document the extent to which classroom instruction is corrupted by political agendas and dumbed down by the obsessions of radical instructors. Horowitz and Laksin look carefully at about a dozen courses in each institution. Many are from recently created departments such as Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies, but as many are from traditional departments: English, History, Politics, Sociology, and Anthropology.
[Hat tip to T.K.]

Synopsis of a debate

"Western Civilisation - Worth Defending?" (, April 26, 2009):
A big part of the answer lies in one's assessment of the value of that civilisation - and its intrinsic strength/resilience.

If you think that something is wrong-headed and decadent, you might be disinclined to defend it even if it has some strengths you quite like - the more so if you think that the forces lined against it are bound to prevail.

Likewise even if you are the greatest champion of something, you might well not want to die defending it if you think the cause is hopeless. On the other hand, if you think that something is much stronger than it may currently look, you might argue that those clamouring for robust defensive moves are overdoing it and risk discrediting the cause.

... The Left want an enfeebled West to Just Give Up and submit to a new Islamisticly-inclined collectivism based on 'cooperation' on the state's terms.

Conservatives say that the West is not feeble, but needs to get back to some core values to keep the forces of extremist, nihilistic Islamisticly-inclined irrationality at bay.

I report. You decide.
[Hat tip to S.K.[

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Vanishing Catholic schools

Bruce Watson, "Vanishing in America: Catholic schools" (WalletPop, April 2, 2009), observes that Catholic schools are vanishing, but has "mixed feelings" about this when he compares his own Catholic education with "the outstanding public-school education that my youngest sister received."

Part of the problem, in my view, is that Catholics have largely forgotten the main reason that makes Catholic education worthwhile in the first place. It's not that Catholic school children wear uniforms, which makes getting dressed in the morning easier. It's a little thing the Dutch Reformed used to call "antithesis." In the case of Catholic schools, its receiving formation in the "Catholic Mind," which is in significant ways antithetical and inimical to the "Secular Mind," which considers the Catholic religious point-of-view anathema.

Searching for a Catholic school for our daughter, however, has been illuminating, if often disappointing. All-too-often, the Catholic schools we've considered have given the impression of bending over backwards to play down their Catholic affiliation. Their rationale, obviously, has been to appeal to "a wider base." Religious iconography is minimized, if not completely absent. The same with prayer and religious instruction.

There are, of course, some happy exceptions to this pattern. But it's easy to see why Catholic schools are vanishing. Catholic schools, where they do exist, increasingly resemble mainline Protestant schools that retain only the most tenuous ties of affiliation to their denominational tradition. Like many Catholic school administrators, Catholic parents have increasingly Protestantized and secularized understandings of education. Small wonder they have so little interest in the financial sacrifice in sending their kids to Catholic schools. They've lost a "Catholic Mind" and a sense of the importance of what it means to be formed in a Catholic understanding of things. They've lost the "antithesis." Besides, public schools are free.

[Hat tip to R.B.]

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A very special Divine Mercy Sunday

2008 Sacred Heart Major Seminary graduate, Fr. Lee Acervo, celebrated an Extraordinary Form Mass with orchestral accompaniment at St. Joseph Church for Low Sunday, today, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Joseph Catholic Church, a traditionally German parish in urban Detroit, is renown for their outstanding music program, with the St. Joseph Parish Choir and Orchestra under the current direction of Michael Semaan, Music Director & Conductor. The Propers were sung in Gregorian chant, and the Ordinaries were sung to the orchestral setting of Mozart's "Coronation" Mass in C. As grace perfects nature, so the earthen vessel of men's voices were joined aloft by those of angels to make heaven and nature resound, for a timeless moment, with praise of the Sacrifice of Divine Mercy. The Mass was preceded by Benediction and followed by the Divine Mercy Novena. St. Joseph is where the novena began in Detroit.

Deal Hudson's monological Mideast analysis

"Should Pope Benedict visit Gaza? - A response to Deal Hudson" (Against the Grain, April 13, 2009):
In February, a group of Palestinian Christians asked Pope Benedict XVI to call off his planned visit to Israel and the West Bank, concerned that his visit would "help boost Israel's image and inadvertently minimize Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation." (Haaretz).

Adopting a different approach, Ma'an News Agency reports that a petition raised by the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, the University of San Francisco, and several other U.S. peace organizations asking Pope Benedict XVI to make a stop in the Gaza Strip has received over 2000 signatures.

In a recent post to, Deal Hudson raises the question: Should Benedict XVI Include Gaza in his Holy Land Visit? -- answering in the affirmative.
The above-linked article shows Hudson's analysis to be a monological tapestry of distortions based on consistently biased sources, questionable statistics and half-truths. For example, one aspect of the plight of Palestianian Christians altogether missing from Hudson's latest article is the fact persecution of Arab Christians by Muslim extremists. Hudson relays the fears of a Christian resident of Bethlehem over the election of "right winger" Benjamin Netanyahu; but he is entirely silent about the virtual evacuation of Christian Arabs from areas like Bethlehem due to murders, beatings and land grabs by extremist Muslim groups. What is especially perplexing is that Hudson blogged about this very issue in 2007, noting international human rights lawyer Justus Reid Weiner's observation that: "The systematic persecution of Christian Arabs living in Palestinian areas is being met with nearly total silence by the international community, human rights activists, the media and NGOs."

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Along with "misalettes for christianettes" ...

A reader writes:
A friend sent me a page from the April Christian Century magazine, titled "There's a Word for It" with a dozen or so great made-up words for unique situations in Christianity. I thought I'd share a few examples:
  • Egocessory prayer: A public prayer centered more on the Pray-er and his or her eloquence and cleverness than God.
  • Bulletinnitus: The dazed ear-ringing sensatioin you get when the announcements for the day drone on and on.
  • Fliturgy: A hyperactive worship service designed for short attention spans. - with a sermon under ten minutes, no more than two verses of any song sung, and prayer time limited to two minutes
  • Osteentatious: Unrelentingly upbeat. "Pastor Greg was a little too osteentatious for that occosioin, don't you think?
[Hat tip to J.M.]

"Revulsion toward fundamentalism"

A correspondent writes:
Fascinating in so many ways is all I can say about a book I am just finishing, The Lion & The Lamb: Evangelicals and Catholics in America, by William M. Shea....

You hear someone say it's hard to believe a child came from a certain set of parents. Sort of like that, it is astounding that a book with so much accurate and fair description of conservative Christians comes from the pen of a liberal, laicized Catholic priest. In fact, when he finally manages to spill some info about his own ideas and upbringing, I asked myself, "How could he not get it [the sin/salvation crux] when he seems to 'get' about everything else?" Here again I stumble over the ongoing riddle of how Catholics who began as biblically entranced excavationists veered away from the more orthodox pylons of old school Protestantism and into the wrong-headed platitudinarianism of Vatican II [Hans Kung as a posterboy for evangelical Catholicism? Not these days, Dr. Shea.].

But you won't find anything quite so trenchant in an assessment of current ecclesiastical reality as Shea here:
...Paragraphs on fundamentalism in a statement of the PBC on biblical interpretation repeated most of the charges made against fundamentalism by theologians... The final paragraph was particularly unfortunate: it stated or suggested that fundamentalism is "dangerous," "deceptive," illusory," an invitation to "intellectual suicide," and "injects into life a false certitude." The document displays a measured and balanced response to other "methods," including liberation theology and feminism, but explodes with revulsion toward fundamentalism.
Revulsion. Hits the nail on the head with a thwack. And continued...
There is a sobering irony to the bishops' warning Catholics about biblical Christianity. The leaders of that Western religious community which most vociferously and dogmatically opposed the Enlightenment, and who created a vast counterculture in opposition to it, and which was opposed bitterly by it, must now warn their flock about simplistic and dogmatic Christian answers to the complex problems and stresses of the modern world! There is a further irony in the leaders of a church that, for most of a century, asserted without fear of contradiction both doctrines and theological opinions that their successors now with furrowed brow denounce in fundamentalists. What is absent from episcopal and Vatican letters is even a rudimentary interest in fundamentalism itself, no fellow-feeling for it, and no grasp of the possibility that it represents a serious alternative understanding of Christianity. The bishops and the Vatican are defending souls and tribal turf. They are capable of dealing reasonably with the possibility of nuclear war and with a systematically unjust economy, and of bringing spiritual and intellectual light to those topics, but they can only deal with a competitor Christianity as a threat.
Shea plows through the whole history of fundamentalism, and also pre-conciliar apologetics and today's Karl Keating, for whom he has fair (if also distant and skeptical) words.

Something really different from everything else out there. Sort of a liberal rejoinder to ECT. The interesting thing is that if one considers Evangelicals so overwrought, then why bother with them at all? I think Shea may be a bit more schizophrenic, and sympathetic, then he himself realizes.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

God's anger and God's mercy

Tridentine Community News (April 19, 2009):
On this Sunday devoted to the Divine Mercy Devotion, it is appropriate for us to reflect on just why we are asking for God’s mercy.

Let’s face it, mankind in the current era hasn’t had the greatest track record in living up to God’s commandments, individually or together. God has more than enough reasons to punish us. Our Lady of Fatima made that abundantly clear. Some speculate that certain natural disasters and plagues are sent to us because of our actions. The Holy Scriptures have numerous examples of God invoking nature against man; He is certainly capable of doing so again.

Rather than argue for or against the position that God is actively punishing or threatening to punish us, we will instead argue against the counter-position: It would be foolhardy to presume that God simply ignores every transgression. The Church makes provision for Acts of Reparation against a variety of crimes, personal and public. The Sacrament of Confession was instituted by our Lord to right ourselves with Him, and to help us develop improved spiritual habits. Indulgences were established by the Church to help us make up for temporal punishment due ourselves and to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It doesn’t take much reflection to think of some of the scores of ways we ourselves, and mankind in general, have offended the Holy Trinity. Crimes of abortion and desecration of the Blessed Sacrament are but two of the most obvious examples happening widely today.

God does not change. He wasn’t angry with mankind in the 1950s and more of a pal to us in the 2000s. His standards are the same from age to age. God is merciful, yes, but God’s wrath is absolutely to be feared. He is not to be viewed as primarily a punisher, yet it is only logical that He may have to assume that role on occasion, in response to man’s sinful behavior. And thus it is appropriate that our prayers as well as our actions beseech Him for forgiveness for the various sins of commission and omission that we individually, and mankind collectively, commit every day.

The Church Shows Us How to Respond

Holy Mother Church recognizes that we have a need to make reparation for our personal sins and those of others. Various traditional practices and prayers give us the means to do so.

Consider the Sacrament of Confession: This Sacrament would not exist at all if the Church had no concern about the lasting effects of offending our God.

Consider many of the prayers unique to the Tridentine Mass: The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar ask God to be merciful on His unworthy servant, the priest. This theme is echoed throughout the Offertory Prayers. The wording of the Extraordinary Form Mass in general recognizes our sinful tendencies, has us acknowledge our sins, and strive to perfect our souls.

Funeral Masses in the Extraordinary Form do not presume to canonize the just-deceased. Rather, they beseech God’s mercy on the soul. The Dies Irae Sequence in particular is a sober reminder that without God’s forgiveness, a soul is doomed to hell for eternity.

Consider the acts of penance that the Church has us perform in the holy season of Lent: Fasting and abstinence are enforced. The Gloria and unaccompanied organ playing are omitted in Sunday Mass. We are encouraged to perform special acts of penitence and almsgiving.

Consider Litanies: They begin with Kyrie eleison.

Consider the Byzantine Rite liturgies: “Lord, have mercy” is sung over and over again at many points.

Consider Rogation Days, which occur on April 25 (the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist), and the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before the Feast of the Ascension in the Traditional Calendar: They are days of prayer of appeasement of God’s anger.

Our fallen nature means we will never completely overcome sin. But we can improve our spiritual condition and thereby mitigate the anger that God may have towards us individually. Diligent attention to living a life in concert with the tenets of the Catholic faith, praying the Holy Mass (particularly the wording of the Tridentine Mass), participating in the Holy Sacraments, and striving to earn Indulgences will help us in this fight. Our Lord taught that God does show mercy if we approach Him appropriately.

The Divine Mercy Devotion fits into this matrix of spiritual tools as a means to ask forgiveness for mankind in general as well as for ourselves individually. Like Eucharistic Adoration, it is a traditionally-minded practice that is growing in a non-traditional world. It introduces concepts not often heard in many parishes. By making people think about God’s wrath, the reality of hell, and the need to ask His forgiveness, the Divine Mercy Devotion also has the potential to bring lukewarm and newer Catholics to a deeper, more informed living of their faith.

By the above means, the Church has given us ways to aright ourselves with God, to reform ourselves, and to pray for our brethren. Let us make use of these great gifts.

Triduum Thanks

Thanks to all who attended the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil Tridentine Liturgies. We especially appreciate your understanding of the challenges involved in this first-time undertaking of these complex ceremonies.

Because of the sizable turnout and positive feedback we have received, Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday will again be offered according to the Extraordinary Form at St. Josaphat again in 2010, as well as Good Friday at both St. Josaphat and Assumption-Windsor.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for April 19, 2009. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Life's not fair. Get used to it.

Charles J. Sykes' list of "Rules kids won't learn in school":
  1. Life is not fair. Get used to it.
  2. The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
  3. Sorry, you won't make $60,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be vice-president either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a GAP label on it.
  4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'till you get a boss.
  5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity.
  6. It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible.
  7. Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
  8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
  9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
  10. Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
  11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
  12. Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.
  13. You are not immortal. If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.
  14. Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life's depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You're welcome.
This list in its original form was the work of Charles J. Sykes, author of the 1996 book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add, and the 2007 book 50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School: Real-World Antidotes to Feel-Good Education. The list is not the work of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, the late novelist Kurt Vonnegut, or Minnesota State Representative Brooks Coleman of Duluth. To see Sykes' list in its original form, see "Some Rules Kids Won't Learn in School" (Snopes, August 19, 2008).

[Hat tip to S.B.]

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Event on which the Church stands or falls

It is the resurrection of Jesus. "We will hear you on this matter some other time," the intellectuals of Athens said to Paul, leaving him by himself. But Benedict XVI is determined, and is reissuing the proclamation "urbi et orbi." He has done so twice in four days. And he has explained why: Sandro Magister, "The Event of Easter on which the Church Stands or Falls" (, April 17, 2009):
Benedict XVI insisted on the fact that the resurrection of Jesus "is not a theory, but a historical reality, it is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event."

And again:

"We assert this forcefully because, even in our own time, there is no shortage of those who seek to deny its historicity, reducing the Gospel account to a myth, to a vision of the Apostles, revisiting and presenting old worn-out theories as new and scientific."
Sandro Magister carries both the Holy Father's Message for Easter Sunday: "The resurrection of Christ is our hope" and Easter Wednesday catechesis: "He rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures"

Quisling President of the World

Victor Davis Hanson, "President of the World" (NRO, April 15, 2009):
The globe is hearing a deeply pessimistic view of what America was and is.

Given Obama’s performance on his recent trip, three developments were quite astounding.

First, despite this fresh climate of atonement, there was a complete absence of a single apology from any other foreign leader — odd for the new shared spirit of multi-polarity and reciprocity.

First, despite this fresh climate of atonement, there was a complete absence of a single apology from any other foreign leader — odd for the new shared spirit of multi-polarity and reciprocity.

Not a word came from Britain about colonialism. Nothing from Germany on the Holocaust, or its trade with Iran. Not a peep from France about Algeria or Vietnam.

Turkey was mum on the Armenian killings and its own tough anti-Kurdish policies. Russia said nothing about the 30 million murdered by Stalin — or its present assassinations abroad, much less its leveling of Grozny or its destruction of Afghanistan. Nothing came from China about the 70 million who perished under Mao or its present role in subsidizing North Korean nukes — or its violation of global copyright laws. We won’t hear anything in the “New Asian Hemisphere” about Muslim Uighurs or Tibet.

Second, there was no other example of “He did it!” about supposedly inept predecessors. Mr. Medvedev said nothing about Putin’s brutish rule. Sarkozy and Merkel did not trash the shady Chirac or Gazprom’s bought lobbyist Schroeder, and their role in harming the Atlantic alliance. Gordon Brown was quiet about Tony Blair and Iraq. China did not mention a reset button. The new Berlusconi did not trash the old Berlusconi.

Third, we saw no concrete evidence of any help — or hope and change — from any foreign leader. Zilch. There were expectations of American concessions, but nothing new or helpful from anyone else.

Instead I think a number of astute foreign leaders — rivals, enemies, and friends alike — have already drawn the following conclusions....
In summary:
  1. An Obama visit: A vast entourage will descend on your capital in campaign mode.
  2. “I’m sorry”: Obama will apologize for almost anything one can imagine.
  3. “You’re Right!” Differences that your country has with the United States will be resolved in your favor.
  4. “Them”: Then comes the “separation.” Obama makes it clear to any host or foreign leader that both he and his vision of America are strangely exempt from America’s past, from Bush, and from our innately arrogant nature.
  5. What’s Next? [The world] has already concluded that Obama is nourished by applause and will work to maintain it ... because he realizes that [it] is essential to his perpetual candidacy ... Meanwhile, the contours of the new world order are clear. Iraq’s democrats are snubbed; Iran’s cutthroats are courted. A Saudi royal receives a bow; the British queen ... receives unplayable DVDs.... Iran is adding to its centrifuges. North Korea will ready ever-more missiles.... Israel gets a Charles Freeman nomination; Gaza a billion U.S. dollars in aid.
"... For 40 years we have had well-meaning moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, and multiculturalism taught in our schools, and we are now learning that all that was not just therapy, but has insidiously become our national gospel.... [emphasis added]

"President Obama will get his much-needed praise and adulation abroad, and Americans will finally be somewhat admired for a while. And thereafter, there will be real hell to pay — either abject U.S. appeasement as the world heats up, or some sort of frantic eleventh-hour hyper-response to restore stability and lost deterrence.

"Just watch."
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Tighening the noose

"JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO: Six Things You Should Know About the Homeland Security Report on ‘Rightwing Extremism’" (Fox News, April 15, 2009).

[Hat tip to T.K.]

Friesen vs. Zuidervaart

"A Controversy in Reformational Philosophy" (Philosophia Perennis, April 17, 2009) offers a brief summary focusing on Friesen's criticisms.

Useful idiots: from Naziism to Obamism?

The following article comes from a reader with the comment: "In this excerpt from article written just after WWII, the writer is speaking of the rise of Nazism. However, this paragraph could well describe today's 'Cafeteria Catholics' and others taken in today by Obamism."
"Such is the weight of truth, so hard the burden of the good that unfortunately many people, albeit sincere Catholics allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by the maneuver. They lacked that hunger and thirst for justice which is the root of holy intransigence. They lacked that appetite for full-fledged Catholicism that would lead them to reject as an impurity any alliance with revolutionary leavens of the times. Things very markedly Catholic, exclusively Catholic, hurt their eyes as the sun hurts those of nocturnal birds. They preferred pale, diluted, indirect forms of Catholic radiation, like owls prefer moonlight. And they gave themselves body and soul to these tendencies of a clearly anti-Catholic character. In Italy, as in Germany and other places, a cohort of naïve and incautious, though well-intentioned people let themselves be enthralled and swept away by a bunch of crooks and adventurers of every ilk. And God alone knows with what furor and wrath countless threats were hurled at brothers in the Faith who indulged the luxury of being more lucid, perspicacious and vigorous in defense of the Faith."
Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira, "Reflections on Ten Years of Struggle Against Nazism" (republished from May 13, 1945 by The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family & Property, April 9, 2009)

[Hat tip to F.R.]

"A Triumph of Sacred Architecture"

"Consecration of Thomas Aquinas College Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity: A Triumph of Sacred Architecture -- A Church That Teaches" (Adoremus bulletin, April 2009).

A correspondent from California writes: "On the Adoremus website there are some terrific photos of the new church at Thomas Aquinas College. It is probably THE outstanding church of the last 40 years. My only disappointment is the free standing altar."

[Hat tip to A.S.]

A.N. Wilson flip-flops back to theism

David Neff, "Born-Again Atheist Makes Gradual Return to Belief" (Christianity Today, April 14, 2009).

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Dr. Thomas Dillon, hero of Catholic education

"Kindly remember the soul of Dr. Thomas Dillon, President of Thomas Aquinas College, who was killed in a car crash yesterday. He was a real hero in Catholic education who, among many services, successfully fought an attempt by the State of California and some accrediting agencies to impose their own weird criteria for “Great Books” college curricula. It was victory that benefits Catholic colleges and universities to this day."
[Acknowledgement: 4/16/09 email from Dr. E.P.]

The dying of the light

  • Georgetown: At the request of the White House, Georgetown University covered up all the symbols in Gaston Hall, before the Great Man spoke, including IHS, the millennia-old monogram for the name of Jesus Christ.

    Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, had adopted the monogram in his seal and it became an emblem of the Jesuit order.

  • Notre Dame: When it comes to rendering unto Caesar, Georgetown is not going to be outshone by Notre Dame, which stole a march by offering the nation's avatar of abortion a doctorate of laws degree, honoris causa.

  • Loyola University of Chicago: At Loyola of Chicago that week, the Student Diversity and Cultural Affairs Office presented "Brother to Brother," a film the Newman Society reports, about "a homosexual African-American who is transported in time to cavort with the allegedly homosexual Langston Hughes." The movie is said to be part of "a semester-long 'Color of Queer Film Series,' sponsored by the university."

  • Catholic Seattle UniversityAt Catholic Seattle University, that first week of Lent was "Transgender Awareness Week," featuring a "session on allegedly transgender Bible heroes and heroines and 'Criss-Cross Day' where students are encouraged to 'come dressed for the day in your best gender-bending outfit."
Patrick J. Buchanan, "Rendering unto Caesar" (Human Events, April 17, 2009):
Actually, it is regrettable the IHS in Gaston Hall was not covered up in shame the first week of Lent. For that week Georgetown's feminist and homosexual clubs, such as GU Pride, put on a Gomorrah festival about alternative lifestyles called "Sex Positive Week."

Monday, according to The Newman Club, featured a speaker for Black Rose, which "provides a forum for many different expressions of power in love and play. This can include dominance & submission, bondage and discipline, fetishism, cross-dressing, to name a few."

Ash Wednesday's talk was "Torn About Porn," advertised as a "discussion about arguably alternative forms of pornography that are not supposed to be exploitative, but rather radical and empowering."

Saturday's talk was by a pornographic film director and was titled "Relationships Beyond Monogamy."
Sodom, Oh Sodom ...

[Hat tip to E.E.]

Von Mises compares Communists to Nazis

I remember someone once asking a group of American political and social leftists: So what is it, apart from their antisemitism and extermination camps, that you disagree with about Hitler's National Socialist policies in Nazi Germany? They had no answer.

A friend of mine who practices law in North Carolina sent me the following excerpts from a discussion of Ludwig von Mises' comparison of communism with national socialism (Nazis and Fascists) from Ralph Reiland, "National Socialism (and how they are doing it here)" (Ludwig von Mises Institute, September 28, 1996). He excerpts the following paragraphs:
It was common in those days, as it is in ours, to identify the Communists as leftist and the Nazis as rightists, as if they stood on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. But Mises knew differently. They both sported the same ideological pedigree of socialism. "The German and Russian systems of socialism have in common the fact that the government has full control of the means of production. It decides what shall be produced and how. It allots to each individual a share of consumer's goods for his consumption."

The difference between the systems, wrote Mises, is that the German pattern "maintains private ownership of the means of production and keeps the appearance of ordinary prices, wages, and markets." But in fact the government directs production decisions, curbs entrepreneurship and the labor market, and determines wages and interest rates by central authority. "Market exchange," says Mises, "is only a sham."
"Industrialists were visited by state auditors who had strict orders to examine the balance sheets and all bookkeeping entries of the company or individual businessman for the preceding two, three or more years until some error or false entry was found," explains Reimann. "The slightest formal mistake was punished with tremendous penalties. A fine of millions of marks was imposed for a single bookkeeping error."

Reimann quotes from a businessman's letter: "You have no idea how far state control goes and how much power the Nazi representatives have over our work. The worst of it is that they are so ignorant. These Nazi radicals think of nothing except ‘distributing the wealth.' Some businessmen have even started studying Marxist theories, so that they will have a better understanding of the present economic system.

"While state representatives are busily engaged in investigating and interfering, our agents and salesmen are handicapped because they never know whether or not a sale at a higher price will mean denunciation as a ‘profiteer' or ‘saboteur,' followed by a prison sentence. You cannot imagine how taxation has increased. Yet everyone is afraid to complain. Everywhere there is a growing undercurrent of bitterness. Everyone has his doubts about the system, unless he is very young, very stupid, or is bound to it by the privileges he enjoys.

"The difference between this and the Russian system is much less than you think, despite the fact that we are still independent businessmen.
He adds: "As Mises says, 'independent' only in a decorous sense. Under fascism, explains this businessman, the capitalist 'must be servile to the representatives of the state' and 'must not insist on rights, and must not behave as if his private property rights were still sacred.' It's the businessman, characteristically independent, who is 'most likely to get into trouble with the Gestapo for having grumbled incautiously.'"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why precision matters in liturgy

Tridentine Community News (April 12, 2009):

You’re visiting New York City. You’re standing in front of Bloomingdale’s. You want to get back to your hotel in Times Square, but you don’t have a map. So you decide to ask a friendly face on the street. Which kind of directions would you prefer: “It’s down that way. Go around that bunch of buildings”, or: “Walk down Lexington Avenue, turn right on 53rd Street, then left onto Broadway. Your hotel will be at 46th Street.”

Both sets of directions will get you where you want to go. The first is less specific, and even friendlier. But there’s a rub: You’re late and someone is waiting for you. You need precision. Clear directions are mandatory.

Today we will discuss the importance of precision and specificity in the celebration of Holy Mass.

The Rubrics of the Penitential Rite

Let’s compare the rubrics for the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass. Strangely, there are different words in the English missal versus the original Latin for the Novus Ordo.

Ordinary Form [self-translation of original Latin]:
Then follows the penitential rite in which the priest invites the faithful, saying:

Brethren, to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries, let us call to mind our sins.”
Ordinary Form [Official ICEL English translation]:
After the introduction to the day’s Mass, the priest invites the people to recall their sins and to repent of them in silence. He may use these or similar words:

As we prepare to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s love, let us acknowledge our failures and ask the Lord for pardon and strength.


Coming together as God’s family, with confidence let us ask the Father’s forgiveness, for he is full of gentleness and compassion.


My brothers and sisters [At the discretion of the priest, other words which seem more suitable under the circumstances, such as friends, dearly beloved, brethren, may be used. This also applies to parallel instances in the liturgy.], to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries, let us call to mind our sins.”
Extraordinary Form:
At the conclusion of the Psalm 42 at the beginning of Mass:

The priest, signing himself with the Sign of the Cross, says:

P. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

S. Who made heaven and earth.

Then, joining his hands and humbly bowing down, he says the Confíteor.
Arguably, letting one vernacular translation have options not present in the normative Latin missal or in other vernacular missals introduces a disjunction in the catholicity [small “c”], or universal consistency, of the Mass. Quite apart from the broader set of options that the Novus Ordo allows in many places, leaving the choice of actual wording of certain parts to the celebrant has proven to be a slippery slope to liturgical abuses. Liturgy is classically not about leeway, but about predictability.

After the Consecration

A previous column mentioned that the Tridentine Mass rubrics specify that the celebrant is to keep his thumbs and forefingers together after the Consecration. This practice is mean to ensure that no particles of the Host fall off or are casually brushed off.

Nothing similar is specified in the rubrics of the Ordinary Form. The de facto standard guide to Novus Ordo rubrics, Bishop Peter Elliott’s “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite”, says about this issue: “Nowhere in the postconciliar missal is there reference to conjoining thumbs and forefingers from the Consecration of the Host until the ablutions. This reverent practice has several advantages, at least for the duration of the distribution of Holy Communion. But if fragments adhere to his fingers, the celebrant removes them over the paten, cf. GIRM, no. 278.” [p. 112]. The traditional practice is thus explained and encouraged ... if you are resourceful enough to seek out and read Elliott’s book.

Precise rubrics specified in the altar missal that every priest uses in this case help to protect the Blessed Sacrament against profanation. If such issues concern you…and they should…then you can feel reasonably sure that in the Tridentine Mass, our Lord Really Present will be treated with reverence and caution.

The Obvious Isn’t Necessarily Obvious to Everyone

One cannot assume that regulations that should be self-evident actually are. If that were the case, there would be no need for certain sections in employee policy manuals. An airline safety demonstration wouldn’t have to instruct you how to fasten your seat belt. In sports, no one questions the need for well-defined rules. Precise rubrics keep everyone on the same page. Precision catechizes the faithful by demonstrating that our liturgical practices reflect and emphasize the tenets of our faith. Precision helped the Holy Mass stay consistent for hundreds of years in an era before mass communication. Today, precise rubrics preserve the integrity of the Tridentine Mass across the world in an era of global travel: You will feel at home, and be able to join in the responses, at virtually any Extraordinary Form Mass anywhere.

Precise guidelines for the celebration of Mass result in only good things: predictability, familiarity, and ability to focus on prayer rather than the uniqueness of the given celebration. Good habits are formed in the celebrant, the congregation, the choir, and the altar servers. Precision means there is almost no room for an Extraordinary Form Mass to be invalid or even abusive, regardless of a given priest’s liturgical inclinations. And that is why we have liturgy in the first place: to render praise, thanksgiving, supplication, and expiation to our God in a structured manner, fitting the mind and needs of the Universal Church.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for April 12, 2009. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Stanley L. Jaki, OSB (1924-2009)

Benedictine Father Stanley Jaki, died quietly in the company of friends, from complications after suffering a heart attack without knowing it, on 7 April 2009 [13:15 Spanish time], at Clinica de la Conception in Madrid, Spain where he was visiting friends following a lecture series in Rome for the Master in Faith and Science of the Pontificio Ateneo Regina Apostolorum.

As Paul Zalonski writes in the Communio obituary, "He was a monk and priest of the Archabbey of Saint Martin, Pannonhalma, Hungary. He entered the archabbey in 1941, professing solemn vows in 1944 and was ordained a priest in 1948. Like many other Hungarian priests, Jaki immigrated to the USA during Soviet persecution." Father Jaki was first and foremost a faithful priest and scholar -- a physicist as well as a theologian -- and a prolific writer. He had served as Distinguished Professor of Physics at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, since 1975. As Zalonski notes:
Jaki earned a doctorate in theology from Sant'Anselmo (Rome) in 1950 and another doctorate in (astro)physics from Fordham University in 1957. Since 1965 he has taught at Seton Hall University and honored as Distinguished Professor of Physics in 1975. After retiring he kept active by holding court, giving lectures and writing, often cantankerously.

Father Jaki was well-known for his writings on science and religion. He delievered the prestigious Gifford Lectures from 1974-1976, later published under the title of The Road of Science and the Ways to God. In 1987 Dom Stanley was award the Templeton Prize. He is considered one of the best scholars on the thought of Cardinal John Henry Newman in the U.S. His publishing record show he published 7 books and numerous articles on Newman.
Fr. Jaki was one of the premier contemporary minds in the fields of philosophy of science and theology, as well as on inter-disciplinary issues. He authored innumerable books, articles and essays covering everything from the metaphysics of the Eucharist, to Petrine primacy, to exactly where and how Charles Darwin went woefully wrong. In short, Fr. Jaki was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century and his contributions to Catholic thought and culture will be difficult to quantify.

As one G.K. Chesterton fan comments: "In addition to so many other things, Father Jaki was also a beloved and much-sought after Chestertonian, and a true follower of the Rule of St. Benedict in every way imaginable; he was always teaching. He only had to be invited to speak once to the annual American Chesterton Society Conference....after that he would simply call Dale Ahlquist in advance and announce his topic! Such graceful moxie is very rare these days and those of us who have known him, learned from him, and love him have all been blessed and bettered by his initiative; it will be a palpable loss not to have this spiritual and intellectual giant in our midst any longer."

I am amused that Zalonski mentions that Fr. Jaki could be "cantankerous." A couple of friends of mine report that in conversations with him he would without any hesitation simply declare: "You are no physicist!" or "You are no philosopher!" I say amused, because he was usually quite right in his judgments, even if a trifle tactless. Socrates keeps good company.

Another feature of Fr. Jaki that goes unmentioned, however, is how he was almost always peddling his personal publications. One friend of mine mentions that he met Fr. Jaki at a conference on the East coast. My friend mentioned that Fr. Jaki recruited him to the task of helping him cart books (and flyers promoting them) from the trunk of his automobile and to help market and distribute to those assembled. I have to confess that in phone conversations with him, Fr. Jaki was a persuasive salesman and managed to sell to me about two dozen of his books and publications he warehoused in his basement. I should add, however, that he gave me a significant discount and that I have profited immensely from the books I have read, though I have yet to tackle his huge tome on physics!

Fr. Jaki will be missed. Let us pray for the merciful repose of his soul.

[Hat tip to Fr. Zuhlsdorf and Chestertonian, Miki]

Our 'transnationalist' President

While there are legitimate reasons for discarding the notion of 'sovereignty' (as outlined by Maritain in Man and the State, where he says that the concept properly applies only to God) and working towards transnational unity (as argued both by Maritain in the same, and by Mortimer Adler in the Common Sense of Politics), there are serious reasons for being less than sanguine about President Obama's tilt in those directions. Well before his election, I expressed my doubts about his constitutional loyalties; and there are serious reasons for defending the integrity of what passes for "national sovereignty," but would be better called "national autonomy" in the face of current tendencies toward world government and transnational federation as exhibited in recent years in the EU. And now this:

Rick Santorum, "The Elephant in the Room: Obama vs. United States" (Philadelphia Inquirer, April 9, 2009): "The president is contemptuous of American values. And one key nominee prefers the judgment of other countries and global elites."

[Hat tip to S.K.]

Friday, April 10, 2009

The bittersweetness of Good Friday

Our parish belongs to a cluster of three old urban churches, two Polish and one German, in downtown Detroit. Each is structurally traditional and beautiful in its own way. A couple of them are veritable jewels of traditional church architecture.

Each parish has traditions uniquely their own. The German church, St. Joseph's, is known for its magnificent musical program. St. Josaphat, one of the Polish parishes, is known for its beautiful EF liturgy and music. Sweetest Heart of Mary, the other Polish parish, has, in my opinion, the most breath-taking interior; but what this parish really has to offer is a robust and distinctively Polish parish life.

For two years now, I have been taking in their traditionally Polish rendition of the Stations of the Cross on Lenten Fridays. It is likely a matter of personal taste, but I find something hauntingly beautiful about Polish devotional singing. There is something deeply primeval about the mournful melodies and the voices of the cantor and priest, belting out the refrains, which, at times, sound almost like the forlorn tribal wailing out of some ancient Eastern European saga.

This atmosphere was ratcheted up maximally today when, for the first time, I had the opportunity of experiencing the Polish Lenten devotion entitled Gorzkie żale (Bitter Lamentations), focusing on the human suffering of Christ -- "Któryś za nas cierpiał rany" (You who suffered wounds for us). Again, it may be a matter of personal taste, but witnessing the devotion there, in the transcendently sublime setting inside of Sweetest Heart of Mary church, with Polish priest and cantor at all-stops-pulled full-blown lachrymose lamentation, it is nearly enough to transport one straightaway to Golgotha. Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ barely holds a candle to it. (Here is a professional production that captures the plaintiveness of the melody, though it lacks the rustic promordiality I witnessed.)

That was at 12:00 noon today. At 1:30 began the Good Friday liturgy at St. Josaphat just a few blocks away, which was another first for me: the Good Friday liturgy in Latin in the Extraordinary Form.

The first thing that struck me was the limpid clarity of the prayers. Had I missed something before?
  • "Oremus et pro haereticis et schismaticis: ut Deus et Dominus noster eruat eos ab erroribus universis; et ad sanctam matrem Ecclesiam Catholicam atque Apostolicam revocare dignetur." ("Let us pray also for heretics and schismatics: that our Lord God would be pleased to rescue them from all their errors; and recall them to our holy mother the Catholic and Apostolic Church.")
  • "Oremus et pro paganis: ut Deus omnipotens auferat iniquitatem a cordibus eorum; ut relictis idolis suis, convertantur ad Deum vivum et verum, et unicum Filium eius Iesum Christum Deum et Dominum nostrum." ("Let us pray also for the pagans: that almighty God would remove iniquity from their hearts: that, putting aside their idols, they may be converted to the true and living God, and His only Son, Jesus Christ our God and Lord.")
  • [And, of course, after the Holy Father's alteration of the prayer for the Jews]: "Oremus et pro Judaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster illuminet corda eorum, ut agnoscant Jesum Christum salvatorem omnium hominum." ("Let us pray also for the Jews: May our God and Lord enlighten their hearts, so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, savior of all men.")
There were, of course, no bells used today, but wooden clappers used instead, as during the Maundy Thursday liturgy last night, as a sign of penitence in accordance with the sorroful mystery being commemorated. Likewise, for the same reason, there was no organ accompaniment for the cantors. The choir was strictly a cappella. I must say, however, that the rendition of Allegri's Miserere offered would have given the Tallus Scholars a run for their money.

Another first for me, which will show just how naive I often am, is that I finally made a point of reading the words of Allegri's Miserere the other day when I was listening to the CD, which I have listened to for years without paying much attention to the words, just enjoying the penitential music. What sublime bittersweetness! It's the Penitential Psalm of all Penitential Psalms: Psalm 51, written by King David in penance after his sin with Bathsheba and after being confronted by the prophet, Nathan:
Miserere mei Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum dele iniquitatem meam. Amplis lava me ab iniquitate mea et a peccato meo munda me. Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco et peccatum meum contra me est semper....

("Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy great mercy and according to the abundance of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my offence and my sin is ever before me....)
A Blessed Good Friday and Triduum to all.