Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Archbishop of Westminster praises same-sex "Civil Partnerships"???

Another case of idolatrous worship before the golden cow of political conformity with the trade winds of cultural fashion, I would suppose (here's the source) ...

... but 'New Catholic' draws on a Gaudium et Spes, 29, excerpt, which, he suggests, makes it also "A Vatican II moment in England" (Rorate Caeli, November 29, 2011).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SSPX update

Via the Knights of Columbus' Headline Bistro comes this story (as of 8:48pm EST yesterday): "Interview with the SSPX Superior General: The Doctrinal Preamble" (Rorate Caeli, November 28, 2011).

New Ordinary Form Translation Debuts

Tridentine Community News (November 27, 2011):
[Last Sunday was] a major day for our fellow Catholics who follow the Ordinary Form of Holy Mass, as the new English translation of Mass is now mandated. Much has been debated about this translation, but in the end, it is an undeniably significant step forward in restoring sacral language to the Liturgy. The Confíteor, Glória, and Credo, among other parts, are more faithful to the original Latin text, which itself displays continuity with the Extraordinary Form. New Altar Missals place an emphasis on chanting parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, while the GIRM (rubrics) of the missal recommends use of the Proper Antiphons, until now rarely heard in the Ordinary Form. Those Catholics who attend the Tridentine Mass should find the new texts and rubrics closer to their preferences, while Catholics who normally attend the Ordinary Form will become more accustomed to the style of language which is used in the Extraordinary Form.

Recommended Books for Traditional Catholics

Over the years, this column has made mention of many books that might interest those who attend the Extraordinary Form. As Christmas approaches, it seemed beneficial to round up a list of books which might make good gifts. This list is purely subjective and represents the opinion of no one but this writer. Most of these books are issued by a small set of publishers; perhaps that is a comment on their good skills in creating or reprinting some excellent titles. Space prevents us from providing publishers’ and retailers’ addresses; please Google the names of the books in order to find vendors.

Hand Missals for the Extraordinary Form

A wide variety of hand missals are available. Of those which are in print, the Baronius Press Daily Missal 1962 and the Angelus Press 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal are the most up-to-date, with the former carrying an Imprimátur. Be sure to get the latest editions, which correct typos present in earlier editions. Also worth considering is the Marian Daily Missal, the most typographically accurate hand missal produced, and one filled with numerous devotional prayers: the 1958 edition has been reprinted by Loreto Publications.

General Prayer Books

Fr. Lasance’s Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook (Loreto Publications) is the most comprehensive traditional prayer book currently in print.

The 2006 Manual of Indulgences (USCCB Publishing), and the Latin book from which it was derived, the 2004 Enchirídion Indulgentiárum (www.paxbook.com), are the currently in-force lists of Indulgenced prayers and works. It cannot be overstated how important it is for Catholics to know about the opportunities for grace found in these acts.

The Purgatorian Manual (Loreto Publications) is a compact 300 page handbook featuring extensive devotions to the Holy Souls. The similar but thinner Novena for the Relief of the Poor Souls in Purgatory is available from JMJ Religious Books for only $1.25 [more at Amazon].

Holy Hour of Reparation (CMJ Books) can be used for public or private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

The Divine Office and Little Offices

After several years of delays, Baronius Press is now promising that their long-awaited Latin-English Breviary will ship before Christmas. No other 1961 Breviary in print is as comprehensive as this edition, though the particular English translation used does not employ the hierarchical English typically found in hand missals.

Baronius’ 2011 (third) edition of The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the most accurate rendition of the traditional version of this relatively brief Indulgenced Little Office.

The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (with Explanation) (www.miqcenter.com) is a pocket-sized, inexpensive, very brief Indulgenced Office.

Spiritual Reading

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis is a classic. Few books condense as much common-sense spirituality into as few sentences as this one. Each chapter, though short, provides a tremendous amount of food for thought; this book is not meant for quick skimming. Two good editions exist: The hardcover edition from Catholic Book Publishing is a small and durable, modern but orthodox translation, while the hardcover and paperback editions from Baronius Press are larger and employ Bishop Challoner’s more traditional translation.

True Devotion to Mary a.k.a. True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by St. Louis de Montfort (Baronius Press) and My Daily Bread (Confraternity of the Precious Blood) are similarly meaty reading.

Hand Missal for the Ordinary Form

Readers seeking an updated hand missal for the Ordinary Form of Holy Mass need look no further than Midwest Theological Forum. Their Latin/English Daily Roman Missal is now out in a seventh edition incorporating the new English translations. A variety of cover styles and colors are available. This book is ideal for use at the various Novus Ordo Latin Masses celebrated around the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week


Mon. 11/28 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Advent)

Tue. 11/29 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Feria of Advent)

Wed. 11/30 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Andrew, Apostle)

Sun. 12/04 1:00 PM: High Mass at Rosary Chapel at Assumption-Windsor [Special time this Sunday only]
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for November 27, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another must-watch Nigel Farage broadside at EU Parliament



You just gotta love this guy, who doesn't hold back from speaking his mind and telling the facts even at the cost of offending everyone in the chambers. I wish we had a few more like him.

[Hat tip to Cranmer]

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tridentine Travelogue: Minor Orders at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary Chapel

Tridentine Community News (November 20, 2011):
Many readers of this column are aware that Fr. Josef Bisig, the co-founder, founding Superior, and current Seminary Rector of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, has been a longtime friend of the Detroit, Windsor, and Flint Tridentine Mass Communities. He recently extended an invitation to visit the new chapel at the FSSP’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary near Lincoln, Nebraska on the occasion of the conferral of Minor Orders on 17 seminarians, one of whom happens to hail from Flint.


This writer attended the ceremony, celebrated by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario. His Excellency has celebrated Solemn Pontifical Masses at the FSSP’s parish in Ottawa, St. Clement’s, and was clearly comfortable with the Extraordinary Form.


In seminaries structured primarily according to the Extraordinary Form, a seminarian first receives Tonsure, a formal commitment to study to the priesthood. Later he receives the Minor Orders of Porter and Lector; later, Exorcist and Acolyte; and later still, Subdeacon. Further on he receives the Major Order of Deacon, and finally is ordained Priest. This system of progression was explained in greater detail in the May 13, 2007 edition of this column, available on our web site.

One of the most selective seminaries in the world, OLGS accepts only a small fraction of its applicants. Seemingly perpetually under construction for over ten years to accommodate this influx of dedicated young men, OLGS’ year-old chapel is a rare example of new construction patterned on classic ideals. Elements of the vertical, a baldacchino over the high altar, choir stalls, and a communion rail all combine to create a beautiful atmosphere for the classic liturgy. Some aspects are not yet complete, for example the walls are relatively bare, and no stained glass windows are yet installed, but these can come as time and finances allow. One cannot help but notice that as other seminaries struggle to attract vocations, the FSSP and similar priestly communities dedicated to the Extraordinary Form have to turn them away. Surely there is a lesson in this continuing phenomenon.

A complete set of photos is available at www.flickr.com: Search for “FSSP Minor Orders 2011”.

Fr. Ross Bartley Celebrates First Sung Tridentine Mass


Congratulations are in order to Fr. Ross Bartley, former Assistant Pastor of Windsor’s Assumption Church and longtime proponent of the Extraordinary Form. On Sunday, November 6, Fr. Ross celebrated his first Missa Cantata at Assumption, only a few days after having celebrated a Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form elsewhere on the Feast of All Saints. Fr. Ross now serves as pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Aylmer, Ontario. (Photo by James & Mary Cincurak)


Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 11/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Tue. 11/22 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Cecilia, Virgin & Martyr)
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for November 20, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving

In addition to our Church traditions and liturgical seasons, there are secular traditions worth remembering for their original purpose and meaning. Some of these are being rapidly eclipsed, like everything else, by our consumerist culture that tends to overwhelm the psyche and erode long memories by its tyrannical volume and immediacy.

Lest we forget, during these post-Christian times, it bears repeating that our national Thanksgiving Day was established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War by means of a Proclamation on October 3, 1863, which read, in part:
"It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people." (emphasis added)
I doubt you have heard recently or will hear anytime soon such an unreserved call to national prayer from the White House. Yet it does us good when we see where we stand today in our place in history, to see from whence we've come, and how far we've fallen into oblivion of our dependence upon God as a nation. "In God we trust" says our coinage. If only that were true! But if it's not true nationally, it can at least be true for those of us as a believing counterculture.

The traditional story of that September in 1620, when a small wooden ship called the Mayflower sailed from England with 102 passengers and came to the New World, may be a Protestant story. Yet it remains a Christian story of a faith, which, however crippled by wounds from earlier historical schisms, owes its life to parentage traceable to common Apostolic stock.

After sixty-five days at sea, those Pilgrims arrived in the New World, created a settlement and suffered through a bitter winter, whose freezing temperatures and diseases killed nearly half of their population. With the help of two English-speaking Indians, Samoset and Squanto, they planted crops of native corn and pumpkins and trapped and hunted game. By October of 1621, they were finally prepared to weather their second winter, which gave cause to their celebration of their first Thanksgiving Day with an impressive spread of venison, goose, lobster, vegetables, and assorted dried fruits, as well as roasted corn furnished by the Indians.

Let it be remembered, too, that they paused collectively to offer their thanks to God, who had so miraculously preserved them and blessed them with abundant stores and a new future and a hope. Let us as Catholics exhibit at least as much gratitude this year and thank God publicly for having preserved us yet another year, along with the freedoms we still enjoy, our families, our country, and our Church.

Two interpretations of the Novus-Novus Ordo

Here is a tale of two contrasting interpretations of the NEW Roman Missal (now the 3rd edition of the Novus Ordo Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI four decades ago):Both pieces make very good points.

The first, while appreciative of the improvements in translation, is doubtful that these changes alone will make Catholic worship more reverent. What is more important than the words, says Fr. Longenecker, is how the Mass is celebrated by both the priest and the people:
I am quite sure that when the new Mass is introduced that Fr. Folkmass will still celebrate Mass in his usual game show host style while other priests will celebrate the Mass casually and carelessly. Many Americans will still shuffle into Mass late wearing shorts and flip flops. Comfort hymns and crooners with hand held microphones will still lead the music and politically correct former nuns will still bully everyone into singing protest anthems instead of hymns.

Mass isn't reverent simply because you start using lofty language that 'sounds religious'. True reverence is the fruit of a condition of heart. Reverence in worship is a by product of a certain type of Catholic mindset. It is not the automatic product of a particular form of words.

This is why I am not that optimistic about the new translation making Catholic worship more reverent. To understand the irreverence in much Catholic worship we have to probe much deeper than the form of words we use for worship. Catholic worship is too often irreverent because Catholics (priests and people) have stopped really believing the Catholic faith.

I'm sorry to call a spade a spade, but far too many Catholics don't actually believe in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They believe in the fellowship meal. They don't believe in transubstantiation. They believe in 'the real presence' (a vague and flexible term which can mean practically anything)....
The second piece is more hopeful and more detailed in its analysis. Tucker acknowledges that the new translation is "serious, solemn, dignified, and even a bit remote in the way that mysterious and awesome things really should be," and that the sentence formulations, unlike typical vernacular, are elevated without being affected. The language, however, is not the most significant part of the new Missal, he claims:
The biggest evidence of this change concerns the music. There is a long history in the Catholic Church of missteps in this regard. The people who produce the Missals don’t think much about the music question.... There is a tendency to focus on the words alone while forgetting that the Roman Rite really is a sung ritual and has been since the beginning.

The people involved in the production of the English version of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal got it right. They embedded the music as part of the text. You can hardly turn a page in this Missal without bumping into musical notation. This is just fantastic because it establishes a norm for both tunes and for the preferred style of the music to be used at Mass. This style is call[ed] chant. The prayers are all chant. The people’s parts are chanted. There is a provision for all the parts of the Mass to be sung from beginning to end. We won’t have to wait 50 years or 300 years for the music question to be settled. It is already settled with the printing of the Missal itself.

This is just great because it solves a serious and major problem that currently exists within the Catholic Church: the music that is commonly employed in the liturgy works at cross purposes with the ritual itself. The establishment of a new (actually old) musical norm will have a gradual effect on the choices that the musicians make in the future. Pop music will not fit in well with a chanted Mass. There will be a gravitational pull toward making the entire Mass a chanted event, thereby fulfilling one of the goals of the Second Vatican Council to grant chant “first place” at Mass.
After reading these two reflections on the new Novus Ordo Missal, I was appreciative of the insights of each writer, as different as they are. Each also provoked a number of questions for further thought.

Fr. Longenecker's piece raised the question: What if Fr. Folkmass continued "to celebrate Mass in his usual game show host style," but the parishioners hearts were miraculously converted to embrace the Gospel? Wouldn't there still be a problem? Is it not also of some significance that the form of worship is reverent and that the liturgy is recognizably Catholic?

Jeffrey Tucker's piece raised the question, once raised by one of my commentators: Isn't a Ford Pinto, even with a shiny new coat of paint, still a Ford Pinto? Is it not, as the Holy Father himself has suggested more than once, the product of a hijacked liturgical reform that was animated by a hermeneutic of rupture from Catholic liturgical tradition?

Your thoughts?

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Monday, November 14, 2011

On the fate of historical religious affiliations of universities

In "A Tale of Two Colleges" (November 8, 2011), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler, Jr., comments on contrasting decisions made by two Georgia universities. Shorter University (Rome, GA) adopted a series of statements intended to protect its historic religious commitments, including guidelines governing both faith and morals. Within days of that decision, Mercer University (Macon, GA) announced personnel policies to allow for coverage of domestic homosexual partnerships.

Mohler develops a bit of background of each institution and draws three predictable lessons (here I offer only the headings):
  1. As time goes on, colleges and universities that choose to identify with the ethos and standards of the secular academy will inevitably increase the distance from their founding churches and theological commitments.
  2. Colleges and universities attempting to maintain accountability to churches and Christian denominations will discover that specificity and clarity in terms of worldview commitment and lifestyle expectations is required, and not optional.
  3. The issue of homosexuality now presents an unavoidable test of conviction for Christian institutions of higher learning. The pressure to normalize homosexual relationships and behaviors will be strong, and the cost of resisting this pressure will be steep.
Since the 1980s the last-mentioned issue has developed into the soft, vulnerable underbelly of Evangelical Protestantism . . . as well as (need we even mention it?) mainline Catholic universities. Goodbye, Good Men!

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Showing the Tree to the Acorn: Feasts About the Resurrection of the Body




The Ascension by John Singleton Copley

By Michael P. Foley

“Glory be to God for dappled things!” exults the great Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. And among those dappled things, shaded with their various spots and hues, we must count not just “skies of couple-colour” and “rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim,” but the traditional liturgical year, that great annual pageant of all things “counter, original, spare, and strange.”

And one of the strangest things found in the liturgical year and in Christian dogma (strange in that it is a surprise to common sense) is belief in the resurrection of the dead. In an age where victories over sin, ignorance, and doubt seem to be increasingly rare, it is easy for Catholics to forget that their ultimate hope is not simply in avoiding Hell and reaching Heaven but in enjoying God with their souls reunited to their bodies. Spiritual masters such as Saint Augustine have even gone so far as to suggest that until that reunion takes place, the blessed in Heaven experience a restlessness or “patient longing.”1 The Beatific Vision just won’t be the same without new bodies in a new Heaven and a new earth.

Our Glorified Bodies

Belief in bodily resurrection is no easy matter. The difficulty begins with answering a seemingly simple question, “what is the body?” Shakespeare plays upon this when Prince Hamlet describes how a king may go “through the guts of a beggar.” A king dies, his body is eaten by worms, a beggar goes fishing with one of the worms, and then he eats the fish that ate the worm.2 Whose body is whose?

And yet this ambiguity also belies a great potential. If we can’t pin down the nature of the body, then who can naysay what it is capable of becoming? Saint Paul chides doubters who ask, “How do the dead rise again?” by comparing the body to a seed that must die before it truly lives.3 It is a metaphor worth dwelling on. The human body, which is a magnificent creation, is a mere acorn in comparison to the oak tree it is destined to become. Acorns retain their substance when they grow into trees (they don’t become butterflies), yet the difference between an acorn and an oak could not be more profound; the former is virtually nothing in comparison to the latter. If our bodies, impressive as they are, are mere acorns now, imagine what they will be as trees on the Last Day.

* * * * * * *

As excellent as the Beatific Vision is, the human soul is naturally designed to rule a body, and thus there remains some unfinished business even for a saint in Heaven.

* * * * * * *

To give an example of what may await us, consider the four properties of a glorified body as singled out in Catholic theology: agility, subtlety, impassibility, and clarity. Agility is the perfect responsiveness of the body to the soul, which will allow it to move at the speed of thought. Subtlety is the power of penetrating solid matter, while impassibility is the impossibility of suffering or dying. Lastly, clarity is the total absence of bodily deformity and a “resplendent radiance and beauty.”4

The astonishing excellence of a resurrected body was cleverly expressed by a young colonial printer named Benjamin Franklin, who at the age of 22 wrote his own epitaph:
The body of B. Franklin, Printer
(Like the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents torn Out
And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding)
Lies Here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be Lost;
For it will (as he Believ’d) Appear once More
In a New and More Elegant Edition
Revised and Corrected
By the Author.5
God’s Path to Being All in All

The general resurrection of the body is also a most fitting consummation of Christ’s Paschal victory over death. The Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Our Lord open the gates of Heaven to our souls but do not immediately end our vulnerability to the effects of original sin. Those effects include a degradation of the body: every bodily deformity or disease, every violent injury or accident, every misuse or abuse, is a sad reminder that we still live east of Eden. And death remains what it always was, a literal humiliation for one and all, a return of the body to the ground (humus).

As excellent as the Beatific Vision is, the human soul is naturally designed to rule a body, and thus there remains some unfinished business even for a saint in Heaven. This body of ours, this temple of the Holy Spirit that is mocked and exploited by the world, the flesh, and the devil, is also in need of redemption. How splendid, then, that the Elect are not only promised eternal life in Heaven but a “reform” of “the body of our lowness” into a body like that of our risen Lord,6 a body that Saint Paul refers to as “glorified” and even “spiritual.”7 The body, which this side of the grave can be a handful to deal with, will become a luminous reflection of the soul’s divinely-given excellence once it is glorified. In Saint Augustine’s words, “what was once [the soul’s] burden will be its glory.”8 And how fitting that this glory is part of God’s ongoing transformation of creation until He becomes “all in all.”9

* * * * * * *

Our Lord assumed a human body in the Virgin’s womb, and the Feast of the Ascension celebrates the fact that that same body now sits at the right of the Father; therefore, our human bodies are included in the divine plan of salvation. For the first time in history, there is a human body in Heaven!

* * * * * * *

Easter Sunday

The extraordinary form of the Roman rite excels in the re-presentation of these eschatological realities, and it does so gradually. Easter, for instance, celebrates not only Christ’s victory over the grave but the first full-fledged instance of a glorified body. The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus’ body on that first Easter morning was not a resuscitated corpse like that of Lazarus, for although it was indeed the selfsame body that was born of the Virgin Mary, it had undergone a significant transformation. That is why His closest friends did and did not recognize Him,10 and it is why the risen Lord was able to pass through locked doors11 as well as appear and disappear.12 In other words, His body now possessed the properties of glorification. The implication for the rest of us is clear. As Saint Paul explains, our Savior will take “the body of our lowness” and make it like “the body of His glory.”13 Consequently, during the Easter Octave we pray that we may be transformed into a “new creature”14 and pass on to “heavenly glory.”15

Ascension

As a whole, however, the theme of our bodily glorification remains rather muted during the Easter season. This is true for the Feast of the Ascension as well, since the Church understandably focuses more on Christ’s completion of His earthly ministry and His promise to send the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Collect for the Ascension prays that we learn to “dwell in mind amidst heavenly things,” not in body. Still, there are hints about the future of God’s Elect. To paraphrase Saint Gregory Nazianzus, “What is not assumed is not saved.”16 Our Lord assumed a human body in the Virgin’s womb, and the Feast of the Ascension celebrates the fact that that same body now sits at the right of the Father; therefore, our human bodies are included in the divine plan of salvation. For the first time in history, there is a human body in Heaven!

In fact, by the end of the first Ascension Day, there may have been three bodies: Our Lord’s, Elijah’s—who was finally allowed into the Empyrean Heaven (see below)—and Enoch, the figure in the Old Testament who was mysteriously “taken” by God after his death but who could not have been allowed to experience the Beatific Vision prior to the resurrection of our Lord.17 What we do know is that our Lord did not enter into the true Holy of Holies empty-handed: besides His own glorified body and body, he brought the souls He had rescued from limbo on Good Friday, when “He descended into Hell.” The Breviary hymn for the Divine Office speaks of our ascended Lord at the head of a “triumph,” a Roman parade in which a victorious general showcased all of the slaves he had captured in battle.18 The hymn artfully inverts this image, showing Christ as the liberator of souls from limbo now parading them into Heaven after having completed his earthy campaign, as it were.

Corpus Christi

Shortly after Paschaltide, the Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi. Again the main focus is on the meaning of the feast at hand (in this case, the miracle of transubstantiation), but not without reference to our promised glorification. In the Divine Office for Corpus Christi, the Eucharist is called the “pledge of our future glory.”19 Jesus Himself says as much when He links Holy Communion to the Four Last Things: “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up on the last day.20 The Eucharist is not only essential to our earthly pilgrimage as spiritual food and medicine, it is preparing us, by what it is and what it does, for our final transformation into a glorified creature of God. For the Eucharist is not just the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, but His glorified Body and Blood.21 When we receive Holy Communion, we are therefore receiving a token of what we, God willing, will one day become.



The Poem of the Soul - Memory of Heaven by Anne Francois Louis Janmot

And it is not just our bodies that are being glorified by the Eucharist. Pope Benedict XVI writes eloquently of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass transforming the entire landscape of being:
The substantial conversion of bread and wine into his body and blood introduces within creation the principle of a radical change, a sort of “nuclear fission,” to use an image familiar to us today, which penetrates to the heart of all being, a change meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28).22
The Transfiguration (August 6)

The Pope’s reference to the transfiguration of the world brings us to our next feast. On the Second Sunday of Lent, the Transfiguration of our Lord is commemorated in order to arouse the faithfuls’ desire for the glory of Easter; and on August 6, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration to reflect more properly on the significance of this event. Part of that reflection involves meditating on the refulgence and majesty that our own glorified bodies will one day have.23 The Breviary hymn for the feast speaks of the event in terms similar to the praise of the Eucharist we have just seen, as a “sign of perennial glory.”24 Moreover, the little chapter used during the Divine Office is Philippians 3:20-21, the passage about reforming our body of lowness. Just as the historical Transfiguration prefigured the Resurrection of Our Lord, so too does the liturgical celebration of the Transfiguration prefigure the general resurrection of the body.

* * * * * * *

The assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul, is therefore a beautiful thing not only in its own right (for who was more worthy than she of such an honor?) but with respect to all of the Elect, as it brings to the fore the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.

* * * * * * *

How interesting that both of Jesus’ spiritual companions on Mount Tabor that day had bodies missing in action. Elijah was taken up into heaven in a fiery chariot, while according to Jude 1:9, Saint Michael the Archangel and the devil fought over Moses’ body after he died. Some have interpreted Saint Jude’s cryptic statement to refer to the struggle between Michael and Satan through their earthly agents in Egypt, Moses being an emissary of God and the angels while Pharaoh and his magicians being minions of the devil. Others interpret the verse in reference to a fight over Moses’ remains, with Satan wanting the body buried in such a way that would seduce the Hebrews into idolatrizing it.25 But Saint Michael prevailed, and to this day the location of Moses’ grave is unknown.

A third interpretation is that both Moses and Elijah represent different states of the afterlife, Moses’ soul having come from limbo to witness the Transfiguration and Elijah’s body and soul (for they were never separated by death) coming from Heaven—albeit not the “Empyrean Heaven,” according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, for that is only accessible to man through Christ’s Paschal mystery.26 The Transfiguration on Mount Tabor thus discloses a fascinating spectrum of human existence: the living “acorn” bodies of Saints Peter, James, and John; the disembodied soul of Moses; the departed yet unglorified body of Elijah, and the transfigured body of Jesus as the foreshadowing of total glorification on the Last Day. In particular, our Lord’s Transfiguration foreshadows the gift of clarity, when “His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as snow.”27

The Assumption (August 15)

If bodily resurrection is promised to every faithful Christian disciple, then it is eminently fitting that Christ’s first and most faithful disciple should receive this gift before anyone else save Christ Himself. The assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul, is therefore a beautiful thing not only in its own right (for who was more worthy than she of such an honor?) but with respect to all of the Elect, as it brings to the fore the doctrine of the resurrection of the body.



The Assumption of the Virgin by Nicolas Poussin

The Mass for the Feast of the Assumption makes this connection explicit. The Collect prays that we “may deserve to be partakers of her glory,” while the Postcommunion beseeches God that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, “we may be brought to the glory of the resurrection.” This teaching emanates outward from the Mass to various private devotions. A novena to the Blessed Virgin on the occasion of the Assumption prays: “Teach me how small earth becomes when viewed from Heaven. Make me realize that death is the triumphant gate through which I shall pass to your Son, and that someday my body shall rejoin my soul in the unending bliss of Heaven.”

* * * * * * *

By defining the Assumption only five years after the close of WWII, it was as if the Pope were saying: Yet again, the Nazis and all such racists and eugenicists are wrong. Mary’s body, Mary’s Semitic body, is in Heaven, loved by God.

* * * * * * *

Even the timing of the proclamation of the dogma on the Assumption seems attuned to highlight God’s regard for our bodily existence, now and in the future. I once heard an outstanding sermon from an FSSP priest who speculated that Pope Pius XII’s infallible definition of the doctrine in 1950 was in part (intentionally or not) a corrective to World War II, the bloodiest war in human history. Specifically, the Third Reich, which the Pope so valiantly resisted, harbored an unprecedented hatred of not simply the Jewish religion but Jewish “embodiment,” the DNA of Abraham and his descendents, which is why they tried to exterminate that DNA entirely in their death camps. By defining the Assumption only five years after the close of WWII, it was as if the Pope were saying: Yet again, the Nazis and all such racists and eugenicists are wrong. Mary’s body, Mary’s Semitic body, is in Heaven, loved by God.

Time After Pentecost

These festal reminders of the resurrection from the dead elide nicely with the Time after Pentecost, that portion of the liturgical year which commemorates the pilgrimage of the Church from its birthday to the end of days—in other words, the period in which we are currently living. Because the Time after Pentecost symbolizes the time of the Church on earth, it is also a profoundly eschatological season, a season that looks ahead to the “Eschaton,” the Last Day, just as Christians facing east when they pray or assist at Mass do so as a sign of their anticipation of the Second Coming, when Christ shall come in glory from the East.



The Poem of the Soul - Up the Mountain by Anne Francois Louis Janmot

The eschatological note of the Time after Pentecost becomes noticeable around the Eighteenth Sunday, at which point the readings and prayers grow increasingly apocalyptic in tone. Verses from the prophets become much more common and references to the final manifestation of Christ more insistent. This sense of anticipation grows each week until it crescendos with the last Sunday after Pentecost (the last Sunday of the liturgical year), when the Gospel recalls Christ’s ominous double prophecy concerning the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the terrifying end of the world.

* * * * * * *

The Lord’s Bride escorts us through a patchwork of feasts that teach us bit by bit about the immutable beauty that, God willing, will not only be ours but will render us, in the twinkling of an eye and at the sound of the trumpet, perfect icons of His brilliant glory.

* * * * * * *

But the eschatological theme is present earlier as well, and it includes a meditation on the future of our bodies. On the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, for example, the Gospel reading is of our Lord’s raising from the dead the only son of the widow of Naim (Luke 7:11-16), while the Postcommunion prays: “In soul and in body, O Lord, may we be ruled by the operation of this heavenly gift; that its effect, and not our own impulses, may ever prevail over us.” And the bodily theme is central on the Twenty Third Sunday, when the Epistle lesson returns to Philippians 3:21 and the Gospel reading proclaims the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus, a prominent official of the Capharnaum synagogue (Mt. 9:18-26).

The Temporal and Sanctoral cycles of the Church calendar thus reinforce each other in marvelously conveying to us the meaning of the article in the Creed we pray every Sunday: “I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”

Conclusion

Hopkins ends his poem “Pied Beauty,” which began this essay, with the verses, “He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise Him.” The Lord God, Hopkins tells us, is past change, and yet the way He brings us to His changeless beauty is through a revolving and dynamic symphony of patchy or “pied” beauty. In a similar way, the Lord’s Bride escorts us through a patchwork of feasts that teach us bit by bit about the immutable beauty that, God willing, will not only be ours but will render us, in the twinkling of an eye and at the sound of the trumpet, perfect icons of His brilliant glory.+

Notes

  1. City of God 13.20. [back]

  2. Hamlet IV.iii.27-31. [back]

  3. I Cor. 15:35ff. [back]

  4. John A. Hardon, S.J. Pocket Catholic Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1985), 79. [back]

  5. The epitaph was not used when Franklin died at the age of 84. [back]

  6. Phil. 3:21. [back]

  7. See Phil. 3:21; I Cor. 15:44. [back]

  8. Literal Meaning of Genesis 12.35.68 [back]

  9. I Cor. 15:28. [back]

  10. See Lk. 24:13-32; Jn. 20:1-16, 21:1-7. [back]

  11. See Jn. 20:19, 26. [back]

  12. See Lk. 24:36, 24:31. [back]

  13. Phil. 3:21. [back]

  14. Postcommunion for Easter Wednesday. [back]

  15. Secret for Easter Tuesday. [back]

  16. Gregory of Nazianzus, Letter (101) to Cledonius the Priest Against Apollinarius. [back]

  17. See Genesis 5:24. [back]

  18. See the hymn Jeus nostra redemptio: “Breaking through the gates of Hell/ Redeeming Those of yours held captive/ A Victor in a noble triumph/ You now reside at the Father’s right hand.” [back]

  19. Magnificat antiphon for II Vespers. [back]

  20. John 6:55. [back]

  21. In fact, this is one of the reasons that Holy Communion is not act of cannibalism, even though it involves consuming the flesh and drinking the blood of our Lord. No cannibal has ever come close to receiving a living and glorified body. [back]

  22. Sacramentum Caritatis, 11; see also 71. [back]

  23. For more on this topic, see Michael P. Foley, “Divine Do-Overs: The Secret of Recapitulation in the Traditional Calendar,” The Latin Mass 19:2 (Spring 2010), pp. 46-49. [back]

  24. The hymn is Quicumque Christum quaeritis, and the verse is Signum perennis gloriae. [back]

  25. A divergent theory posits that Satan argued that Moses was unworthy of burial at all since he had murdered an Egyptian as a young man. [back]

  26. See Summa Theologiae III.45.3.ad 2. [back]

  27. Mt. 17:2; see Mk. 9:1; Lk. 9:29. [back]

[Michael P. Foley is associate professor of patristics at Baylor University. He is author of Wedding Rites: A Complete Guide to Traditional Vows, Music, Ceremonies, Blessings, and Interfaith Services(Eerdmans, 2008) and Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday?: The Catholic Origin to Just About Everything(Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Dr. Foley's article, "Showing the Tree to the Acorn: Feasts About the Resurrection of the Body,” Latin Mass: The Journal of Catholic Culture and Tradition, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Summer 2011), pp. 38-42, is reproduced here by kind permission of Latin Mass, 391 E. Virginia Terrace, Santa Paula, CA 93060. This article has been permanently archived at Scripture and Catholic Tradition.]

Socrates for the 21st century, dude . . .



[Hat tip to Dennis Wingfield, dude.]

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Joe Balistreri Appointed to Detroit Chancery Post

Tridentine Community News (November 13, 2011):
Many of our readers know Joe Balistreri, who has volunteered as substitute organist and cantor for Wassim Sarweh on several occasions. Joe is one of our region’s musical prodigies, having been appointed Music Director of St. Matthew Parish on the east side of Detroit at age 16. A few weeks ago, Joe received his Masters degree in Organ from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.

We are delighted to announce that Archbishop Allen Vigneron has appointed Joe as Pastoral Music Director for the Archdiocese of Detroit. Joe succeeds Louis Canter in this position in the chancery. He will be a central resource for musicians throughout the Archdiocese and will be involved with the Archdiocesan Chorus at major events at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. Dr. Steven Ball will continue in his position as Organist for Pontifical Events at the cathedral, quite fitting as Steven was one of Joe’s professors at U of M.

Joe’s appointment comes at a time when the new English Missal for the Ordinary Form places an increased emphasis on the celebrant chanting portions of the Mass. Led in part by Jeffrey Tucker of the Church Music Association of America, there is also a new push for singing the Propers in the Ordinary Form, as is required at Extraordinary Form High Masses. Joe’s background with the Tridentine Mass makes him uniquely qualified to advocate the use of both Chant and the Propers during this time when Church authorities are seeking to use traditional music as a means to restore a sense of the sacred to the Ordinary Form.

We congratulate Joe and ask for your prayers for Joe as he undertakes his new responsibilities.

Ss. Peter & Paul (West Side) To Host Tridentine Mass


Another traditionally-outfitted church in the Archdiocese of Detroit will be hosting a Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form: The historically Polish parish of Ss. Peter & Paul on the west side of the city will hold a Tridentine Mass on Sunday, December 11 at 12:15 PM. Celebrant for the Mass will be Ss. Peter & Paul Assistant Pastor Fr. Mark Borkowski. Music Director for the Mass will be the aforementioned Joe Balistreri.

Built in the 1950s, the current and third church of the parish is traditionally outfitted, with a high altar, side altars, spacious sanctuary, and Communion Rail. While not an historic edifice, it was nevertheless built to Borromean standards, with elements of verticality and art which evoke the sacred. Ss. Peter and Paul is located at 7685 Grandville Ave., one block north of Warren Ave., and a few blocks west of the Southfield Freeway.

Relaunch of The Mass of Ages Magazine

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales has announced a new design for their signature quarterly magazine, The Mass of Ages, under the leadership of newly appointed editor, Gregory Murphy. The LMS intends to broaden the appeal of the magazine: they recognize, as many of us observers in the Extraordinary Form world do, that a modern approach to marketing the EF is called for in today’s media-savvy culture. Printed in full color throughout, with a more attention-grabbing and headline-filled cover, the magazine is designed to catch the attention of those skimming magazine racks who may not yet be familiar with the Traditional Latin Mass. Think of it as an effort to blend the modern media appearance of a People Magazine with a more positive version of The Latin Mass Magazine. Such an outreach effort has not yet been attempted by any other periodical serving readers interested in the Tridentine Mass.

The Mass of Ages enjoys wide distribution in Catholic bookstores in England. Whereas many Catholic bookshops in North America carry very little in the way of traditional books and periodicals, many if not most British Catholic stores devote a portion of their retail space to Latin Mass-related items. A striking example is the enormous (by Catholic standards) St. Paul’s Bookshop adjacent to London’s Westminster Cathedral, which has one section devoted to the Extraordinary Form, another section devoted to Gregorian Chant including many of the books of Solesmes, and an extensive selection of traditional monstrances, chalices, and ciboria. We in North America may dream of the day when the EF is considered an integral part of the Catholic scene; in England, this goal has already been achieved.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 11/14 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Feast of St. Josaphat)

Tue. 11/15 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Albert the Great, Bishop, Confessor, & Doctor)
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for November 13, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

The Tridentine Calendar

Tridentine Community News (November 6, 2011):
There has been some confusion of late brought about by the St. Josaphat parish bulletin. Various articles offer reflections on “the readings” of the day, yet those commentaries do not match the readings employed at the Tridentine Mass. This is because there are two sets of readings used in the Latin Rite of Holy Mass, and only one set is currently being commented upon in the parish bulletin, those for the Ordinary Form. The name of the Feast Day as well as the readings often differ between the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms: For example, while today is the 21st Sunday After Pentecost in the Tridentine calendar, it is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time in the Novus Ordo.

The Extraordinary Form employs a one year calendar of Feasts and Readings. The Ordinary Form uses a one year calendar for Feasts, a two year calendar for weekday Readings, and a three year calendar for Sunday Readings. The Ordinary Form seeks to expose the faithful to more Sacred Scripture via an expanded Lectionary over these years, while the Extraordinary Form achieves the same goal by incorporating Scriptural Proper Antiphons and Graduals at each Mass.

Terminology also differs: First Class, Second Class, Third Class, and Fourth Class Feast Days in the Extraordinary Form are referred to as Solemnities, Feasts, Obligatory Memorials, and Optional Memorials in the Ordinary Form. Older Tridentine missals employ additional terms such as Doubles and Semidoubles, but that nomenclature was superseded in the currently-in-force 1962 Missal.

The Bishops of England and Wales once again take the lead in matters liturgical: Unlike the U.S. and Canadian Conferences of Catholic Bishops, whose web sites only provide the Ordinary Form Calendar, the U.K. Bishops offer both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Form calendars on their web site. They give due credit to The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales – the U.K.’s remarkably effective and omnipresent Tridentine Mass advocacy group – for providing the calendar information to the bishops’ conference. Perhaps the EF Calendar could be given higher profile in North America if a similar advocacy group offered to assist our own national conferences. In other words, don’t complain, volunteer to solve the problem!

To provide a clear indication of the Extraordinary Form Sunday Feast of the week, we will henceforth print the name of the current Sunday’s Feast at the top of the page, adjacent to the date.

This is an appropriate time to mention that we are once again taking orders for 2012 Tridentine Wall Calendars. As in previous years, we will be providing the Fraternity of St. Peter’s calendar at cost, which has not yet been set as of the date of this writing. If you attend the Tridentine Mass, you will want these calendars instead of, or in addition to, the wall calendars for the Ordinary Form that many parishes give out. You may sign up for a calendar on the sheets at the missal table at the entrance to Assumption and St. Josaphat Churches. Payment in advance is requested so that we order only as many calendars as are actually desired.

Book Review: The Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook

In recent years many wonderful Catholic books have been reprinted. In September, 2009 this column mentioned Blessed Be God, a comprehensive collection of prayers. Today we are pleased to bring to your attention an even better resource, Fr. F.X. Lasance’s Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook, recently reprinted by Loreto Publications (www.loretopubs.org).

Both books are similar, in that they strive to present a complete set of devotional prayers for the entire liturgical year. The Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook, however, excels. It uses a smaller type font and has less white space on the pages, compressing more content onto its pages. Many of the prayers are provided in both Latin and English. It is one of very few books to include the Little Office of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, two of the rarely printed, currently indulgenced Little Offices.

The Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook employs florid and traditional language with hierarchical pronouns. The rich language of prayer that one sees in Extraordinary Form hand missals is mirrored in this book. The extensive collection of Morning Prayers is unparalleled. Here is one of them, representative of the content in the rest of the book:
“I adore Thee, O my God – one God in three Persons; I annihilate myself before Thy majesty. Thou alone art being, life, truth, beauty, and goodness. I glorify Thee, I praise Thee, I thank Thee, and I love Thee, all incapable and unworthy as I am, in union with Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our Father, in the mercifulness of His Heart and through His infinite merits. I wish to serve Thee, to please Thee, to obey Thee, and to love Thee always, in union with Mary immaculate, Mother of God and our mother, loving also and serving my neighbor for Thy sake. Therefore, give me Thy Holy Spirit to enlighten, correct, and guide me in the way of Thy commandments, and in all perfection, until we come to the happiness of heaven, where we shall glorify Thee for ever. Amen.”
One caution to readers: Because the book is a literal reprint, and not an updated version, the citations concerning Indulgences no longer apply. The rules for Indulgences were revised after the Second Vatican Council, thus none of the references are still in effect. Nevertheless, the book remains a marvelous resource for private prayer, for Holy Hours, and for quick visits to the Blessed Sacrament.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 11/07 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria – Celebrant may choose a Votive Mass)

Tue. 11/08 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Daily Mass for the Dead – High Requiem Mass with Absolution at the Catafalque)

Wed. 11/09 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Holy Savior [St. John Lateran])
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for November 6, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

The Masses of All Souls Day

Tridentine Community News (October 30, 2011) [somewhat after the fact]:
For the fourth year in a row, we will be holding a special All Souls Day evening of three Masses. This year’s event will take place at St. Josaphat Church. Today we are running an updated version of an explanatory column which first ran in 2008.

Four Low Masses, simultaneously celebrated at each of the four side altars of the church, will begin at 6:00 PM. 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 of the faithful departed.

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/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. Note that no matter how many Masses are celebrated, the faithful may receive Holy Communion at no more than two Masses per day.

Our own situation is somewhat nuanced: Three priests will celebrate their Low Mass as the First Mass of All Souls Day, as that will be the only Mass he celebrates that day. Per the rubrics, one priest will celebrate his Low Mass as the Second Mass of All Souls Day, then he will celebrate the Solemn High Mass as the First Mass of All Souls Day, as the Sung Mass of the day must be the First Mass (“First” and “Second” 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 priests, who serve as Deacon and Subdeacon at the Solemn High Mass, will not binate, because the Deacon and Subdeacon at a Solemn High Mass are not concelebrants. Indeed, they do not need to be priests at all. Thus, we will have five Masses on All Souls Day, but we will not be using all three sets of Mass Propers unless we happen to have a trinating priest, always a possibility in these post-Summórum Pontíficum days.

Side Altars


Many if not most churches built prior to 1965 incorporated one or more side altars. We are fortunate that our churches have several. Today, these altars serve mostly devotional purposes, in St. Josaphat’s case as shrines to our Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, St. Casimir, and St. Francis d’Assisi. But they 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.” All of our side altars 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 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; can contain pre-consecrated Hosts to be distributed at a Mass celebrated at that altar; can contain pre-consecrated Hosts needed for distribution at major event Masses that fill the church; and can serve as temporary repositories when the high altar tabernacle must be kept empty, such as during a construction project or on Good Friday.

Every priest should 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 only generally sees this happening at churches where there are many 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. 10/31 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria – Celebrant may choose a Votive Mass)

Tue. 11/01 7:00 PM: High Mass at both Assumption-Windsor and St. Josaphat (All Saints Day)

Wed. 11/02 6:00 PM: Masses at St. Josaphat (All Souls Day: Low Masses at Side Altars at 6:00 PM; Solemn High Mass at High Altar at 7:00 PM, followed by Absolution at the Catafalque)

Sun. 11/06 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (21st Sunday After Pentecost – the last Tridentine Mass at St. Albertus for 2011)
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for October 30, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Marini’s Conciliarist Manifesto

[The views expressed in the following article are solely the responsibility of its author and are not necessarily shared by the editor of this site.]

Peter A. Kwasniewski

“Just before sunrise, the wind got up. It was a vile, stubborn wind ...”

—Tove Jansson, Moominpappa at Sea1


As a historian phenomenon, “conciliarism” refers to the erroneous view that a general council of the Church is superior to the Pope in matters of faith and morals — that a Pope can be trumped, so to speak, by all the bishops assembled. This heresy was dealt a series of blows throughout the second millenium of Christianity, culminating in the double coup de grace of a pair of dogmatic constitutions on the Church: Vatican I’s Pastor Aeternus and Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium. As those who have studied the latter document know, section 25 of Lumen Gentium contains the clearest, most extensive teaching ever given concerning the unique, supreme, direct authority of the Pope over the entire Church and all her members, including the bishops who must remain in union with him in order to remain truly Catholic.2

In the past forty years, however, a new form of conciliarism has arisen, one harder to define with precision and far more influential: the view that Vatican II, all by itself, was a Council that redefined the Church and her theology from top to bottom. For historians of the influential “Bologna school,” the Council gave birth to a new Church, ushered in a new age, cleared away ages of debris and decadence, proclaimed at last an ecumenical Gospel that sought out the world and passionately embraced it. While the falsity of such a bald statement may cause a wry smile, it is a sad fact that this peculiar brand of conciliarism has been the main force at work in the wreckage of the sacred liturgy for the past forty years. So much so, indeed, that a new “Great Schism” appeared in the twentieth century: a schism between a self-styled modern Church and the Church of Tradition. This virtual schism, like the doctrinal rupture and rampant liturgical abuses that are the hallmarks of its proponents, is far worse than any internal crisis the Church has ever faced before, outstripping in combined ignorance, error, and contempt even the horrors of the Protestant revolt.

* * * * * * * *
It is a sad fact that this peculiar brand of conciliarism has been the main force at work in the wreckage of the sacred liturgy for the past forty years. So much so, indeed, that a new “Great Schism” appeared in the twentieth century


* * * * * * *

As students of Chuch history know, the Holy Spirit does not long allow the Church to be storm-tossed and in danger of shipwreck. All the hard-won gains of the aging old guard—religious liberalism, laicism, secularism, feminism, soft modernism, horizontalism, relativism, and so forth, a whole litany of -isms that have replaced the Litany of Saints as the standard and measure of Catholic life today—are now being called into question by a new generation of believers and, ironically perhaps, by the elderly Pope who was a major force at the very Council whose spirit is claimed to be embodied in the new order of Mass and the new style of worship it promotes. Those who follow the Catholic media can see it daily: the graying liberals sound outraged, panicked, desperate. The more intelligent among them must surely know that the sun is beginning to go down on their long-reigning agenda.

Standing tall and unrepentant in the ranks of the rupturists is the retired papal M.C. for John Paul II, Archbishop Piero Marini, who was unceremoniously replaced at Pope Benedict XVI’s behest by the infinitely more competent and traditional Monsignor Guido Marini (no relation), a model M.C. if ever there was one. For the remainder of this article, “Marini” will always refer to the bishop plagued with a futuristic agenda and no future.
Back in 2007, Marini published a book that made quite a splash. A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal contains little to surprise those who are already familiar with the standard (“Bologna”) history of the Council and the divinely inspired reforms attributed to it. Anyone who has dared to dip into Bugnini’s disturbing memoirs will find Marini’s book not terribly original. It comes across rather as the last gasp of a dying cause, a kind of “rage against the dying of the light” from an energetic retiree. At a press conference in England, Marini portrayed in livid terms an ongoing battle between “conservation and progress,” and “the center and the periphery.” He wanted his book to sound “an invitation to look to the future, to take up with enthusiasm the path traced by the council.” How’s that for tendentious? We—the Church of the ages—are the periphery? I believe it was Chesterton who said that Tradition is the democracy of the dead. It is the soft modernist faction of the Council that are the periphery, with their loud minority opinion.

Benedict XVI has been the only pope since Blessed John XXIII who seems to have understood with crystalline clarity that Vatican II can have been a legitimate council only if it was intended to be, and is continually received as being, in continuity with the entire Tradition that preceded it. “The path traced by the Council” is, de facto and de iure, the path traced by Tradition—or it is irrelevant, not to say worse. The speech Pope Benedict delivered to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2006 was a beautifully clear indicator of the mind of Holy Mother Church: the Council is to be received within a hermeneutic of continuity, not a hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity.

Journalist John Allen summarizes Marini’s identification of historical factors that paved the way for the Consilium’s triumph. First, “the presence of the council fathers in Rome during the first two years of implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, Vatican II’s constitution on liturgy. The bishops themselves, [Marini] said, were ‘the first guarantors of reform.’” How easily the victors rewrite history! Many who were present at and involved in the Council have testified that the bishops had no idea they were about to witness the wholesale dismantling and reconstruction of the Roman Rite. Archimandrite Boniface Luykx (1915–2004) frequently noted that not a single bishop at the Council believed that Latin would be abolished, in practice, from the celebration of the Mass, that the priest would face the people, or that the prayers would be notably altered. In a moment of honesty, could Marini admit that Sacrosanctum Concilium did NOT ASK FOR most of the changes that were implemented?

* * * * * * *
Not a single bishop at the Council believed that Latin would be abolished, in practice, from the celebration of the Mass, that the priest would face the people, or that the prayers would be notably altered.

* * * * * * *

The second factor in the Consilium’s success, according to Marini: “The personal support of Pope Paul VI.” Alas, this is no relevation; it is but one more reason to hold this beleaguered pontiff of modernist sympathies in suspicion. People often rush to Paul VI’s defense by pointing out his heroically countercultural defense of chastity and the natural law in Humanae Vitae. We might be in danger of damning with faint praise. Humanae Vitae may seem bizarrely backwards or startlingly revolutionary to a world of hedonist nitwits, but any Catholic with an instinctive attachment to healthy sexuality, a modicum of religious education, and a morally sound outlook on family life would not for a moment be tempted by something as disgustingly unnatural as artificial contraception, nor would he or she register any surprise about what the Church had always taught and will always teach.

Let us move on to Marini’s third factor: “The rapid emergence of a network of ‘competent scholars,’ led by Lercaro and Bugnini.” Do I sense what the logicians call a petitio principii—a begging of the question? Competent by whose definition? Many of the fashionable scholarly theories of the mid-century have long since been discredited, even ridiculed, by liturgists and scholars whose first job is not grinding axes but understanding the history of Western liturgy. The business about how the Pope historically celebrated versus populum in St. Peter’s basilica was one of the main myths that drove the novelty of the priest’s turning his back to Christ, the symbolic East. We now know, thanks to better studies, that the Pope and the people faced eastwards at the most solemn part of the Mass, so important was their unanimous orientation felt to be.3

As the old guard present at Vatican II passes away year by year, Marini pleads that “it is important for the church to retain and renew the spirit that gave rise to the liturgical movement, and that inspired the council fathers to approve the constitution on the liturgy as the first fruit of that great grace of the 20th century which was the Second Vatican Council.” Hmm. The “spirit” behind the liturgical movement—is that anything like the particolored “spirit of Vatican II”? What about the origins of the liturgical movement among people who deeply and dearly loved the Church’s traditional liturgy and would have been disgusted by the superficial (if not sacrilegious) hootenanny that often replaced it? I can’t help thinking of a funny quotation by British Dominican Herbert McCabe, no traditionalist he, who nonetheless points out with brutal honesty:
There are satisfying experiences that are immediately satisfying, like drinking good Irish whiskey, but there are other satisfactions that occur only over long periods of time, like having a decently-furnished room. . . . If you are deprived of a decent liturgy for a fairly long period of time you discover an important gap in your emotional life. I might as well say at this point that I think there is a mistaken tendency, more especially in the United States but to some extent here [in England], to design the liturgy for too immediate a satisfaction. I have been with the “underground” groups in the American Church who do not really feel they have celebrated a Eucharist unless they get some kind of immediate experience of personal warmth and enhanced sensitivity. I think the liturgies designed by these people are very frequently in bad taste. I agree with those critics who find the Missa Normativa a little dull, except that I do not think it is altogether a criticism. A room furnished in good taste is a little dull compared to one covered in psychedelic posters saying “Love is Love” and “Mary, the ripest tomato of them all.”4
At the same press conference, Marini pontificated: “The goal of the liturgy is none other than the goal of the church, and the future of the liturgy is the future of Christianity and Christian life.” Even the devil quotes Scripture, and Balaam’s ass had intelligent counsel to offer. The future of the liturgy, in reality, is nothing other than, and nothing less than, the Mass of the Ages, the traditional Roman Rite that had organically developed for almost 2000 years until its violent deformation at the hands of Bugnini & Company.


The end of Mass at Rocafort by Jose Benlliure Ortiz

Our Lord gave the Mass to the Church for all her people, especially for the simple and the childlike. It is precisely such lowly laity who are not sophisticated enough to judge on the basis of theories and hypotheses, but who judge by what they see and hear—“O taste and see how gracious the Lord is...”

* * * * * * *

Anyone with good sense can see that the sudden virtual suppression of huge parts of Catholic liturgical tradition can only have had a profoundly unsettling, disorienting, and destabilizing effect on the Church as a whole. The apparent “success” of the reform has been belied by the bitter problems of doctrine and morals that have plagued the Church in the past four decades, centering on a loss of priestly identity, a drastic decline in priestly vocations, and an almost universal ignorance of the Faith and of the Sacred. The glamorous meetings of ICELated conspirators conveniently fail to mention the countless Catholics who felt betrayed, alienated, and even scandalized by the drastic changes that occurred as if overnight. I was talking to a neighbor one day—someone I’d gotten to know from seeing him so often around town—and when he found out that I taught for the Catholic College, he volunteered that he was a fallen-away Catholic who stopped going to Mass back in the seventies. “I went one Sunday and it was Hallelujah this and Hallelujah that, and I said to myself: What the hell is all this? It sure isn’t Mass!” Years ago, another friend told me a similar story. He said when the drums and guitars invaded the sanctuary, practically overnight, and routed the quiet low Mass he had grown up with, he felt dismayed, betrayed, assaulted, actually sick to his stomach. He stopped going to Mass for years, and nearly lost his faith entirely. Fortunately, he was one of those who, thanks be to God, returned to the Church after the indult Masses began.

Our Lord gave the Mass to the Church for all her people, especially for the simple and the childlike. It is precisely such lowly laity who are not sophisticated enough to judge on the basis of theories and hypotheses, but who judge by what they see and hear—“O taste and see how gracious the Lord is...” And judging by what they saw and heard, many came to the conclusion that the Church had either gone bonkers or had “come of age” and surrendered to secularism. In either case, it was time to stop going to Church. Rather than rejoicing in a botched reform conducted with all the finesse of bulldozers, one ought to feel righteous indignation about the high and mighty doings of the liturgical elite in the heady days of the late sixties and beyond, as they indulged in their liturgical fantasies while carelessly trampling on the hearts and minds of innumerable ordinary Catholics who loved the beauty and dignity of the Church’s worship as they knew it.

* * * * * * *
Anyone with good sense can see that the sudden virtual suppression of huge parts of Catholic liturgical tradition can only have had a profoundly unsettling, disorienting, and destabilizing effect on the Church as a whole.

* * * * * * *

Marini’s talk in London was full of that peculiar messianism characteristic of Vatican II nostalgics. Here is how it ended: “The Holy Spirit that inspired the liturgical movement and the council fathers still encircles us like a sacred cloud, and guides us like a column of fire,” offering “beauty ever new” as well as “joy and hope.” That’s what they call rhetoric, folks, but not in the most flattering sense of the word. If it was indeed the Holy Spirit and not the Zeitgeist or something more infernal yet, then the entire way we receive and rejoice in the Council and in the liturgical movement will of necessity exemplify the hermeneutic of continuity: the Council is to be interpreted in line with and in light of the great Tradition of Catholic theology and worship. It will not, pace Marini, cleave to the “hermeneutic of rupture,” whereby the Council would signify a decisive change of course that requires systematically deconstructing what came before and terrorizing those who adhere to it.

Let us remind ourselves again and again that Sacrosanctum Concilium expressly says that “there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (§23). To those who are familiar with the wonderfully durable and ineffably beautiful preconciliar sacramental rites, it would seem obvious that few, if any, changes could have been defensible according to this strict criterion of “genuine good.” It would be like looking into a chest filled with treasures fashioned of precious metals and jewels, and saying: “Let’s get rid of anything in here that’s worthless.” Good luck finding the iron and bronze brooches. But the Consilium came along and—to the horror of orthodox Catholics, the delight of far-seeing modernists, and the surprise of just about everyone—discovered that the rites of the Roman Church were thoroughly defective and in need of a massive overhaul. An overhaul, in fact, that would culminate, decades later, in a pathetic banalization of the very rite of exorcism, as if we could pull the wool over Old Scratch’s intellectual eyes. According to many exorcists, the new rite does not even work very well; it is certainly much less effective than the old. A personal friend of mine, an exorcist for a major diocese, told me that water blessed by the old solemn formula is considerably more effective against demons than water blessed with newer formulas. In a way, if one may compare great things to small, Church leaders made the same mistake as Coca-Cola did, but lacked the marketing brains to realize it and bring back the original recipe. It seems that hierarchical office does not bring with it a charism of factual analysis.

The Consilium found that the Tradition was defective and the People of God were crying out for a new Mass, a new Liturgy of Hours, new blessings, new everything. This sounds like special pleading. Who are we to trust: the Tradition of the Church, which embodies the faith, hope, and love of countless believers and pastors over many centuries, or the Experts whose theories embody (at best) the ephemeral wisdom of academia, here today and gone tomorrow? Why do the Experts think that they know better than the common man—or, for that matter, than the Common Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, who is always on the common man’s side? The whole tenor of the Consilium ascendancy, as of Marini’s book, smacks of the spirit of Protestantism: we, a select few enlightened by the Spirit of God, will choose what is the best way forward in Catholic worship.

In any case, one thing is certain: we will see a lot of this kind of nostalgic resistance from the aging conciliarists; it will be a hallmark of at least the next ten years, and it will become more and more acerbic, accompanied by an increase in clandestine acts of desperation. They accuse the traditionalists of wallowing in nostalgia, but as brilliant a light as Fr. Richard McBrien finds himself caught short trying to explain how young Catholics who never grew up with the Latin Mass are flocking to it, loving it, and passing it on to their children. A “nostalgia” for what one could never have remembered is positively indecent and categorically illogical! (I was born in 1971, after Pope Paul VI had safely earned his place in the ranks of the worst popes of history, so I can add fuel to McBrien’s ire.) In an interview for the National Catholic Reporter, Marini memorably compared the traditional nostalgics with the carnal Jews who, having been liberated from the bondage of Pharaoh and his evil empire, longed for the fleshpots of Egypt:
First of all, it’s important that I spoke about a path [of liturgical reform], one that I believe is irreversible. I often think about the journey of the ancient Israelites in the Old Testament. It was a difficult journey, and sometimes the people became nostalgic for the past, for the onions and the melons of Egypt and so on. In other words, sometimes they wanted to go back. But the historical journey of the church is one which, by necessity, has to move forward.
Marini is not quite finished, however, with his penetrating analysis. He is puzzled that so many young people are drawn to the older liturgical forms—how can this be? He shares his reasoning process with us:
I see a certain nostalgia for the past. What concerns me in particular is that this nostalgia seems especially strong among some young priests. How is it possible to be nostalgic for an era they didn’t experience? . . . I’m always surprised to see young people who feel this nostalgia for something they never lived with. “Nostalgia for what?,” I find myself asking.
In reality, now that we are finally beginning to see genuine liturgical renewal thanks to Summorum Pontificum and the “reform of the reform” movement, the nostalgia is all on the side of the wrinkled cheerleaders with their placards of “Man has come of age; so should the Mass.” They are gazing wistfully back to the sixties while younger and wiser Catholics are thanking God that we’ve made tracks away from that benighted time of false hopes and Teilhardian illusions. Or better, the younger Catholics who take their faith seriously are doing just that: taking it seriously. Taking it as given, not as manufactured; as timeless, not as up-to-date. The Mass is not an experiment, a proving ground for academic theories, a do-it-yourself when ordained ministers run dry. It is the one and only Sacrifice of Calvary made present in our midst, in a hallowed form we receive from our forebears, bearing not only its own sanctifying reality, but also the sanctified history of the communion of saints. The reaction of any sane believer is to fall to his knees in adoration, along with generations of his fathers and—may God in His mercy grant it—generations of his children to come.

* * * * * * *
The Mass is not an experiment, a proving ground for academic theories, a do-it-yourself when ordained ministers run dry. It is the one and only Sacrifice of Calvary made present in our midst, in a hallowed form we receive from our forebears, bearing not only its own sanctifying reality, but also the sanctified history of the communion of saints.

* * * * * * *

In my years of teaching undergraduate and graduate theology, I have seen how young people who are serious about their faith flock to the traditional Mass, with little prompting or explanation required, and how they continue to attend it throughout their adult lives, eventually introducing their children to it. I have seen the spectacle of college students who, because they grew up in a parish or chapel run by the Fraternity of St. Peter, have never attended a Novus Ordo Mass, and who therefore need it to be explained to them. I was one of those young people who flocked to the (once-forbidden) “old Mass,” and as the years pass, my love for it only grows deeper and stronger. It has nothing to do with nostalgia. Nostalgia would be impossible for people who existed only in God’s mind, not on earth, when Paul VI made his fateful decision to promulgate the Novus Ordo Missae. It has to do with something much more fundamental than nostalgia: the transcendentals of truth, goodness, and beauty. Every soul is created by God to resonate with these transcendentals. We yearn for their presence in a modern world hell-bent on falsity, evil, and ugliness. And the traditional Mass, the crown of all the sacred rites and ceremonies of our Faith, powerfully contains and expresses them. What a gift! And what a privilege is ours to see this gift once more given and received!+

Notes

  1. Trans. Kingsley Hart (n.p.: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1993), 88. [back]

  2. The same section 25 redresses an imbalance from Vatican I: while Pastor Aeternus seemed to focus on infallible ex cathedra pronouncements, i.e., what could be called the extraordinary Magisterium, Lumen Gentium broadened its consideration to include, and to emphasize, the authoritative nature of the Pope’s ordinary Magisterium—a lesson the vast majority of Catholics, both liberal and conservative, have still not accepted. [back]

  3. For more on this, see Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy, and Lang, Turning Towards the Lord. [back]

  4. Herbert McCabe, God Matters (New York/London: Continuum, 2005), 215-6. [back]

[Dr. Peter A. Kwasniewski is Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming. The present article, "Marini's conciliarist Manifesto," was originally published in The Latin Mass: A Journal of Catholic Culture and Tradition, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Summer 2011), pp. 6-10, and is reprinted here by kind permission of Latin Mass Magazine, 391 E. Virginia Terrace, Santa Paula, CA 93060, and the author. This article is permanently archived at Scripture and Catholic Tradition.]