Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Popes, the Church, the Mass

  • Pope Paul VI, Allocution to the Students of the Lombard Seminary (December 7, 1968) -- "Today the Church is going through a moment of disquiet. Some practice self-criticism, one would even say auto-demolition. It is like an inner, acute and complex disturbance such as no one could have expected after the Council...."

  • Pope Paul VI, Sermon (June 29, 1972) -- "We believed that after the Council would come a day of sunshine in the history of the Church. But instead there has come a day of clouds and storms, and of darkness.... How did this come about? We will confide to you the thought that may be, we ourselves admit in free discussion, that may be unfounded, that is that there has been a power, an adversary power. Let us call him by his name: the devil. It is as if from some mysterious crack, no, it is not mysterious, from some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God."

  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Preface to the French edition of Msgr. Klaus Gamber, Reform of the Roman Liturgy (La Réforme liturgique en question,1992) -- "What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it - as in a manufacturing process - with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product. Gamber, with the vigilance of a true prophet and the courage of a true witness, opposed this falsification, and, indefatigably taught us about the living fullness of a true liturgy.... The pastoral benefits that so many idealists had hoped the new liturgy would bring did not materialize. Our churches emptied in spite of the new liturgy (or because of it?), and the faithful continued to fall away from the Church in droves... In the end, we will all have to recognize that the new liturgical forms, well intentioned as they may have been at the beginning, did not provide the people with bread, but with stones."

  • Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in Europa, Sec. 9 (June 28, 2003) -- "At the root of this loss of hope is an attempt to promote a vision of man apart from God and apart from Christ.... European culture gives the impression of 'silent apostasy' on the part of people who have all that they need and who live as if God does not exist."

  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Meditation on the Third Fall of Our Lord (Lent, 2005) -- "Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church?... What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency!... Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat..."

  • Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World(2010) -- "... the decisive thing is that we enter into something that is much greater. That we can get out of ourselves, as it were, and into the wide open spaces. For the same reason, it is also very important that the liturgy itself not be tinkered with in some way.

    "Liturgy, in truth, is an event by means of which we let ourselves be introduced into the expansive faith and prayer of the Church. This is the reason why the early Christians prayed facing east, in the direction of the rising sun, the symbol of the returning Christ. In so doing, they wanted to show that the whole world is on its way toward Christ and that he encompasses the whole world. This connection between heaven and earth is very important. It was no accident that ancient churches were built so that the sun would cast its light into the house of God ad a very precise moment.

    "Nowadays we are rediscovering the importance of the interactions between the earth and the rest of the universe, and so it makes perfect sense that we should also relearn to recognize the cosmic character of the liturgy as well as its historical character which means recognizing that someone didn't just one day invent the liturgy, but that it has been growing organically since the time of Abraham. These kinds of elements from the earliest times are still present in the liturgy... My main reason for making the previous form more available was to preserve the internal continuity of Church history. We cannot say: Before everything was wrong, but now everything is right... The issue was internal reconciliation with our own past, the intrinsic continuity of faith and prayer in the Church."

Mass celebrated by Blessed Pope John XXIII
at St. Peter's, circa 1960

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reform of the reform, or re-inventing the wheel: step one

Recently I received two attractive, clearly-written booklets by Edward Sri, sent to me by the publisher for personal review and promotion:These booklets, just published by Ascension Press in West Chester, Pennyslvania, are targeted at lay audiences facing the forth-coming introduction of liturgical changes to the Novus Ordo Missae scheduled for U.S. parishes November, 2011.

There is no question the newly translated portions of the liturgy, few in number though they be, are a significant improvement over the existing translations. They are more faithful to the Latin original or the Novus Ordo Missae. In fact, at points, they are nearly an exact translation of the Latin in the usus antiquior, as in the Confiteor, where the new translation reads: "Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault," or in the Credo, where the new translation has: "Was incarnate of the Virgin Mary." Shades of Trent! They might even re-invent communion rails and kneeling next!

The really amazing thing is the huge impact these relatively minor adjustments in translation is having on the Catholic music and missal publishing industry. Liturgical music composers, publishers, ministers of music, choirs, liturgical ministers, etc. are reved up and running full bore in preparation for all the forthcoming adjustments these new translations will call for in the parishes across the country. When all is said and done, one would like to hope that it will have been much ado about something, at least.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Here we go again ... Women's head coverings and canon law

Easter dinner with the Ed Peters family is a memorable event for more than one reason, not least of which is the level of gracious and intelligent Catholicity evident in the conversation of the entire family. Moreover, every family member appears immersed in the study of one or two other languages (Arabic, Greek, German or Latin) in addition to the sign language all of them have mastered in order to communicate with one delightful family member who is deaf. Remarkable.

Somewhere between the pizza piana hors d'oeuvres and Spanish cream sherry following dinner, I had the chance to ask Dr. Peters about the recent notice taken by Fr. Z of a post by Peters entitled "Raymundus locutus, causa finita" (In the Light of the Law, April 21, 2011). Peters says that one short blog post he wrote some four years ago explaining why women were not required to wear ‘chapel veils’ at Mass continues to elicit far and away more hits than any other article he has posted!

In any case, Peters' latest post is of particular interest, if anything, for its citation of a reply given by Cardinal Burke to an interlocutor on the issue:
Out of the hundreds of webpages and blogposts I have published, my post on chapel veils is frequently among the top ten pages read each month. No joke. I have seen, over the years, several “rebuttals” of my views, some rather pretentious in their rhetoric, to which, on rare occasions, I have replied informally in comboxes. For that matter, I’ve seen some other writers with, I would have thought, considerable ‘cred’ among the chapel veil set, also being rebuked for holding that the use of veils is optional. Folks like Fr. John Zuhlsdorf and Jimmy Akin, the kind of guys I ask guidance from when I’m stuck on a hard question about Catholic practice. If critics won't believe Fr. Z or Jimmy, who I am to think I'll convince them otherwise?

Anyway I had just sworn off even noticing the chapel veil topic anymore when, lo and behold, a nice lady writes to Cdl. Raymund Burke, whose ‘cred’ outweighs all of ours put together, to ask whether the use of chapel veils is obligatory.

Well, the cardinal writes back to her, and she sends me a copy of his letter, from which I may quote (edited for privacy): “Thank you for your letter …The wearing of a chapel veil for women is not required when women assist at the Holy Mass according to Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. It is, however, the expectation that women who assist at the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form cover their heads, as was the practice at the time that the 1962 Missale Romanum was in force. It is not, however a sin to participate in the Holy Mass according to the Extraordinary Form without a veil.”

What’s left to say?

Burke’s note is not an “authentic interpretation” nor a formal sentence from the Signatura: it’s simply a calm observation by the world’s leading canonist (not to mention a man deeply in love with the Church and her liturgy) about whether women have to, as a matter of law or moral obligation, wear veils at Mass. Any Mass. And the answer is No.

If a woman wants to wear a veil to Mass, she is perfectly free to do so; if she does not want to wear a veil, she is perfectly free not to. Anyone not happy with that interpretation is welcome to take the matter up with Higher Authority than me, and higher than Burke, for that matter!
[Hat tip to Ed Peters]

Vatican Calls Conference of Bloggers

Tridentine Community News (April 24, 2011):
As we all know, news of all sorts can spread instantly nowadays, thanks to pervasive use of telephones and the Internet. The news reporting and topical role of Catholic newspapers and magazines is gradually being supplanted by web sites and blogs. Recognizing this trend, the Vatican has called its first conference of bloggers, inviting 150 blog authors to a meeting on Monday, May 2, the day after the beatification of Pope John Paul II. The list of invitees reflects a broad spectrum of Catholic thought, including at least one from the Extraordinary Form world. It seems a fitting time to mention some blogs that would be of particular interest to the readership of this column.

Blogs to Watch

The New Liturgical Movement
Every era seems to have its Walter Cronkite. In the world of traditional liturgical blogging, that person is London, Ontario’s Shawn Tribe. Articulate, balanced, and cool-headed, Shawn is the ultimate moderator. His team takes an academic approach to presenting liturgical news from the Extraordinary Form, conservative Ordinary Form, and Eastern Rite worlds.

What Does The Prayer Really Say
A combination of liturgical news, blunt opinion, and voluminous reader commentary, run by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, a Catholic version of Bill O’Reilly. Like him or not, you can’t avoid him, because everyone talks about “Fr. Z”. His “the Emperor has no clothes” style of commentary has opened discussion on a variety of topics previously avoided by the mainstream press, for example the inappropriateness of taking liberties with the rubrics of the Ordinary Form.

Roráte Cæli
Led by the anonymous writer “New Catholic”, this blog seems to have inside information from a variety of sources, ranging from the Vatican to the Society of St. Pius X. Most notably, Roráte had detailed information about the contents of the Motu Proprio Summórum Pontíficum in advance of its publication. Reader comments can be long-winded and on the far right of the spectrum, but strictly as a news source, this is the Tridentine version of Woodward & Bernstein. A key contributor to this blog is Carlos Palad, an energetic organizer of Tridentine Masses in the Philippines, who provides reports on Extraordinary Form developments in that part of the world rarely heard elsewhere.

Musings of a Pertinacious Papist
St. Josaphat parishioner and Sacred Heart Seminary professor Dr. Phil Blosser offers thoughtful commentary on traditional liturgical, philosophical, and theological subjects, plus article reprints, including frequent reprints of this column. Dr. Blosser occasionally addresses “Elephant in the Room” subjects, like Fr. Z, but in a more measured, reflective, academic fashion.

The Path Less Taken
London, England-based Irish writer Mary O’Regan runs this blog that offers succinct reflections on spiritual topics from a refreshingly positive, traditional viewpoint. Imagine a modern take on the common sense advice found in Thomas a Kempis’ My Imitation of Christ delivered with British wit and crossed with a London travelogue. Mary is one of the 150 bloggers invited to Rome for the May 2 conference. Warning: Continued reading of this blog will make you want to visit London and its thriving Latin Mass environment.

Detroit Church Blog
A relatively new entrant to the scene run by Andrew Fanco, this blog showcases Detroit’s historic churches and the events taking place in them. It can be easy to forget that the Archdiocese of Detroit is home to numerous beautiful, well-preserved, architecturally-intact churches. This blog offers a visual tour surpassing any published book on the subject.

Splendor: The Glory of Traditional Catholicism
Carl Vanderwouden’s Canadian equivalent to the Detroit Church Blog, featuring photos of historic churches in the Diocese of London and the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Ars Orandi: The Art and Beauty of Traditional Catholicism
David Werling’s blog of stained glass, woodcuts and line drawings, paintings, and other inspiring Catholic images.

Exsultáte Iusti in Dómino
Christopher Din’s blog about St. Josaphat Church, with photos by his father Edward Din, offers pictorial coverage of Extraordinary Form events at many of the churches in this region.

St. Joseph’s Blog
Jude Beres’ blog about our partner parish, St. Joseph Church, is of particular interest for its sharply-focused, close-up photos of liturgical objects not often seen elsewhere.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 04/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Easter Monday – Divine Mercy Novena at 7:00 PM; no devotions after Mass)

Tue. 04/26 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Easter Tuesday)

Fri. 04/29 12:15 PM: High Mass at St. Joseph (Easter Friday)

Sun. 05/01 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Low Sunday – First Holy Communions)

Sun. 05/01 3:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Low Sunday/Divine Mercy Sunday – Confessions and Novena precede Mass)

Sun. 05/01 3:00 PM: High Mass at St. Joseph (Low Sunday/Divine Mercy Sunday)
[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 24, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Deus meus, Deus meus, quare me dereliquisti?

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on eath He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood:
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heav'nly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
Lo! the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the pow'rs of hell may vanish,
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six-winged seraph;
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the Presence,
As with ceasless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Allelusia, Lord most high!

[Hat tip to the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas]

Monday, April 18, 2011

Latin EF: new generation's way to promote religious vocations

Fr. Z to dying Benedictine community:
Of course a new generation of men will use the new tools out there.

Switch back to Latin worship and the Extraordinary Form and then start admitting postulants to train in the old style of Benedictine monastic life.

The monasteries which do this have more vocations than they have room.
In James K. A. Smith's provocative but confused book, Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), he offers this otherwise brilliant sentence, whose deep significance (if the rest of his book is any evidence) escapes him, but could have been developed to profound effect:
I will argue that the postmodern church could do nothing better than be ancient, that the most powerful way to reach a postmodern world is by recovering tradition, and that the most effective means of discipleship is found in liturgy. (p. 25)
The portions of the book intended to be the most creative -- by way of suggesting the direction in which the church (what he means is nebulous) ought to develop in postmodern times -- end up looking like particularly ill-adept attempts at trying to re-invent the wheel.

L'Osservatore Romano responds to critics of Vatican II

Sandro Magister, "The Disappointed Have Spoken. The Vatican responds" (www.chiesa, April 18, 2011): "Inos Biffi and Agostino Marchetto reply in "L'Osservatore Romano" to the traditionalists Brunero Gherardini and Roberto de Mattei, who criticize the current pope for not having corrected the 'errors' of Vatican Council II"

Related: See Fr. Z's comment on this.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

How fickle we sons of Adam and daughters of Eve: "Hosanna! Hosanna!" one week. "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" the next.

Veiling of Statues and Images in Passiontide

Tridentine Community News (April 17, 2011):
Some churches, including St. Josaphat, have a custom of placing violet veils over the (reachable) statues, crucifixes, and paintings in the church from Passion Sunday through the Easter Vigil. In the Tridentine calendar, Passion Sunday is one week before Palm Sunday, thus the veiling persists for almost two weeks.

This veiling represents our Lord hiding Himself away as the crowds cast stones at Him (Gospel of Passion Sunday), and it prepares us for the Sacred Triduum, when He was taken away from us. For the same reason, Psalm 42, the Júdica me, is omitted from the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar at the beginning of Mass during this period. Holy Mother Church wants us to miss something from the Liturgy, just as our Lord’s Divinity was hidden during His Passion.

Technically, such veiling is required in the Extraordinary Form, while optional in the Ordinary Form. Modern day practicalities do not always permit this in parishes that also host the Ordinary Form, nor are the requisite veils always, or all, available; and there is a limit to what is reasonable to set up before, and take down after, every Tridentine Mass.

Tuesday Passion

With the debut of the Tuesday evening Tridentine Mass at Assumption Church, this will be the first year for our readership that the Passion of St. Mark will be read at Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

All four Passions are read during Holy Week. The Passion of St. Matthew is chanted on Palm Sunday. The Passion of St. Mark is specified for Tuesday in Holy Week. The Passion of St. Luke is read on Wednesday of Holy Week. Good Friday brings the chanting of the Passion of St. John. Note that no Passion is specified for Monday in Holy Week, when Holy Mass is held at St. Josaphat.

Weekday Feria Numbering

The accompanying first page of the Christ role in the Tuesday Passion draws our attention to how the Church designates weekday Ferias. When there is no specific Feast to be celebrated, a “Feria” is the default Mass to be celebrated. During most of the year, a Ferial Mass is simply the Mass of the preceding Sunday, often superseded by a voluntarily chosen Votive Mass or a Requiem Mass. During Lent and Advent, however, specific sets of Propers are provided for weekday Ferias. Sunday is considered Day #1 in the week, thus a Mass on Tuesday, as pictured, is the Third Feria of the week. Hebdomádæ Sanctæ means “of Holy Week.”

The Wooden Clapper

Another reduction of the Sacred Liturgy during the Triduum is the suppression of bells. Where hand bells would ordinarily be rung, a wooden clapper called the crotálus is used instead. Bells denote joy, a sentiment which must be set aside as we recall our Lord’s Passion. The clapper instead produces a severe and somewhat startling sound, quite appropriate in light of our Lord’s sufferings.

Divine Mercy Sunday Tridentine Masses

Once again this year there will be two Holy Masses in the Extraordinary Form at the Hour of Divine Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday: One at Windsor’s Assumption Church at 3:00 PM and one at Detroit’s St. Joseph Church at 3:00 PM. The usual 9:30 AM Tridentine Mass at St. Josaphat Church will also be celebrated.

Note that there is no specific Feast of Divine Mercy in the Extraordinary Form. The Sunday After Easter is called Low Sunday, to distinguish it from the highest of high Feasts the week before. Nevertheless the Church permits the devotions of Divine Mercy to be celebrated in conjunction with this Mass.

Holy Week Tridentine Mass Schedule

As in previous years, liturgies in the Extraordinary Form will be offered for the Sacred Triduum this week. Note that two services will be offered on Good Friday to suit your schedule.
  • Mon. 04/18 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Monday in Holy Week)
  • Tue. 04/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Tuesday in Holy Week)
  • Thu. 04/21 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Holy Thursday)
  • Fri. 04/22 1:30 PM: Good Friday Service at St. Josaphat. The Passion will be chanted.
  • Fri. 04/22 5:30 PM: Good Friday Service at Assumption-Windsor. The Passion will be chanted.
  • Sat. 04/23 8:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Easter Vigil)
  • Sun. 04/24 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Easter Sunday)
  • Sun. 04/24 2:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Easter Sunday)
[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, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pope 84 today

Oremus pro Pontifice

V. Let us pray for our Pontiff, Pope Benedict.

R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and bless him upon earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies.

Our Father. Hail Mary.

Let us pray.

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Benedict, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The glories of Catholic Rome & Bavaria in photography

A new blog (begun only last month) that does for the glories of Catholic Bavaria what Orbis Catholicus does for Rome: Te Igitur.

[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli]

What AmChurch thinks it knows but doesn't

Jeffrey Tucker has produced a remarkable post entitled "What We Think We Know That Is Wrong" (The Chant Café, April 13, 2011). Tucker so thoroughly covers what is askew in so many AmChurch parishes, I am compelled to present it here unabridged:
A director of music at a Catholic parish, obviously of long experience, sent me a list he has been keeping of things that people believe that are not so.

1. It is possible to fully understand the Mass.
1a. Having Mass entirely in the vernacular facilitates this complete comprehension.
1b. The more Latin we use, the less we can comprehend the Mass, unless we know Latin.

2. Mass is really about the words.

3. We must determine the popular musical taste of young people and incorporate these styles into the Mass, or young people will eventually leave the church.
3a. Young people overwhelmingly prefer contemporary popular music in church.
3b. Likewise, young children are only capable of grasping music written specifically for them.
3c. Family Masses, primarily addressed to children, facilitate catechesis. Such Masses do not, however, demonstrate to adults that religion is primarily for children.

4. Hymns and songs are integral to the Mass. Mass with music, but with no hymns or songs, is unthinkable.

5. The main way to determine a hymn or song's suitability for Mass is to examine the text.
5a. Therefore, since all versions of the Mass Ordinary have the same approved text in English, any setting is inherently suitable for Mass.

6. Changing texts to prayers, readings and hymns can be helpful, or is at least harmless; people won't even notice, and would say something if they did.

7. Laypeople live essentially stable lives, and look to the church to be surprising and innovative, especially in the liturgy.

8. Most women prefer gender-neutral language when referring to God. The younger the woman, the more this is true. References to God as "he" or "Father" are scandalous or unintelligible to the non-religious.

9. A small group of vocal parishioners likely represents the views of the majority.

10. People can sing tunes and especially rhythms rooted in popular music easily and naturally. Popular music is much easier to sing than classical music.

11. Members of ethnic minorities are grateful to us when we incorporate into Mass musical styles we associate with them.
11a. In cultures other than our own, especially in Latin America, the distinction between sacred and secular music is non-existent.

12. Having a single Mass in multiple vernacular languages is a way to please everyone, even those who speak only one of the languages. This leads to unity.
12a. Any use of liturgical Latin, on the other hand, is extremely divisive.

13. Church music shares many important characteristics with Broadway music from the 1980s and early 90s.

14. All chant sounds the same to untrained ears.
14a. All chant is in Latin.
14b. All chant is equally difficult and esoteric.
14c. Exception: The funeral Sanctus and Agnus Dei are the only pieces of chant that untrained laypeople are capable of singing.
14d. Chant is most appropriate for penitential times (like Lent) and least suitable for joyful times (like Easter).

15. The assembled parishioners, along with the priest, perform the primary actions of the Mass, and are also the Mass's primary audience. This principle drives every liturgical or musical decision.

16. God is indifferent to the particulars of our worship.

17. People in the pews will never, never, never sing in Latin and they resent you teaching them how.

18. The most natural and appropriate opening is a rousing hymn or song for the procession.

19. The best metric to gauge participation in the Mass is the assembly's singing. The louder the singing, the greater the participation.
19a. People who don't sing at Mass lack enthusiasm or devotion.
19b. No responsibility can be laid on the accompanist or music director if a congregation is not singing.

20. The church provides us the Mass in the form of a rubrical skeleton, onto which we map our choices of songs, service music, and locally-designed elements. This is how we do liturgy.
20a. The two main sources for doing liturgy are personal preferences -- what most of us like -- and the lectionary readings for the day.

21. Unaccompanied, unamplified polyphonic music sung by unseen singers in a choir loft is more a performance than worship.
21a. Conversely, a band with an electric keyboard, two guitars, bass guitar, flute, and three singers on microphones near the altar is more worship than a performance.

22. People will sing more at weddings and funerals if you use Mass of Creation.

23. All authoritarianism in Catholic liturgy originates in Rome.

24. The Second Vatican Council fundamentally changed the church, and especially the liturgy.

25. The liturgical changes following the Second Vatican Council have led to an increase in understanding of the Mass, and therefore a general rise in Catholic practice.
25a. To question these changes is to question the Council.
[Hat tip to Fr. Z, "It is possible to fully understand the Mass.”... NOT]

Friday, April 15, 2011

Una Voce survey results: Much done, much more to do

The latest (Spring 2011) issue of Una Voce America Nota carries the results of a survey conducted on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, the papal document calling for an increased availability of the traditional (EF) Latin Mass. Responses to the survey, concluded late last summer, were received from 34 dioceses. Here are some excerpts from the results compiled by Allen Maynard.

General key results include the following: There was a 41% increase in every-Sunday Masses in the dioceses surveyed. 19 dioceses saw an increase in the number of every-Sunday Masses, 14 remained status quo (three remained at zero), and one saw a decrease. Sacraments in the traditional form appear to be generally available:
  • Baptisms - 79%
  • Nuptial Masses - 71%
  • Requiem Masses - 68%
  • Confirmations - 53%
Only two dioceses offer training in the Extraordinary Form to their seminarians, and only seven dioceses have had any organized training available locally.

20% of dioceses had personal parishes for the EF Mass.

Attitude of the local ordinary toward the EF was rated:
  • Bad and no hope - 35%
  • Bad but improving - 3%
  • Stagnant - 18%
  • Generally improving - 15%
  • Good - 9%
  • About as good as can be imagined - 6%
  • No response - 15%
Change in EF situation since Summorum Pontificum:
  • Worsened - 9%
  • Unchanged - 18%
  • Slightly improved - 32%
  • Substantially improved - 21%
  • Dramatically improved - 6%
The UVA Board drew the following conclusions:
  1. There is indeed a demand for the EF and Summorum Pontificum has helped make the EF more accessible to the faithful.
  2. There is still an unfulfilled demand for the EF. Some increased oversight or better "enforcement" of SP may be necessary to insure the demand is met.
  3. Training for seminarians must become mandatory.
  4. There is a significant need for training in the EF of already-ordained priests. Una Voce America must continue to support the F.S.S.P. initiative on priestly training. Bishops should make more training available on a local basis and encourage priests to attend the F.S.S.P. training week. (UVA is financially able to assist clergy with the costs of training, if necessary -- thanks to the generosity of its members and supporters.)
In summary, local results parallel local responses to the bold and clear directive of the Holy Father's Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. On the one hand, where there has been an enthusiastic response to the Holy Father's requests, dioceses have seen growth and spiritual fulfillment. On the other hand, where, for a variety of reasons, the papal document has not been implemented, there remains dissatisfaction and much more work to be done.

[Acknowledgement, Allen Maynard and Nota editor, "Much done ... much more to do," Una Voce America Nota, No. 45, Spring 2011]

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The elephant in the room

Yesterday I received an email from colleague, Dr. Janet Smith, with the subject line: "DetroitPriestsPromoteAbortionSpeaker." The email contained links to two PDF files: (1) an online announcement of the forthcoming lecture by Dr. Daniel C. Maguire on "The Gender Justice Revolution: How Feminism Builds Bridges Between Genders, Races, Sexual Orientations, Classes, and Nations" as part of The Cushing Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Detroit Mercy, needless to say a Jesuit institution, and (2) a list of some of the Elephants, that is, a list of some of the Detroit priests, including the notorious Bishop Gumbleton, who are members of organization of priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit, called "Elephants in the Room," promoting Maguire's lecture.

Professor Daniel C. Maguire, a self-identified Catholic theologian of Marquette University, is notoriously a promoter of revisionism in Catholic moral teachings on sex-related issues such as contraception, abortion, and homosexuality, as seen in the following online articles:The Elephants in the Room is an organization of priests and laity that originated in 2003, when in the words of it's online mission statement ("About Us"):
At the bi-annual priests' convocation in Boyne Mountain, MI in October 2003, Fr. Gerry Bechard rose to ask Cardinal Maida if they were going to talk about the Elephant in the Living Room. Cardinal Maida ignored the question and returned to the agenda. A few priests decided that some subjects needed to be discussed and agreed upon returning to Detroit to hold gatherings for that purpose.
The first meeting, including both priests and laity, began in November, 2003, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The organization states its purpose as the "renewal in the church of Detroit." What it understands by "renewal" may be easily gleaned by a quick perusal of The Elephants in the Room website, which sport links on its homepage to a list of articles by luminaries that reads like a Who's Who of name-brand dissidents and revisionists such as Joan Chittister, Hans Küng, and even Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong (whose name, to their credit, they repeatedly misspell "Sprong"), author of Eternal Life Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell (2009), whose theology cannot be even remotely imagined as "Christian" without a substantial dose, I'm told, of LSD or peyote.

One cannot help but feel a touch of sympathy for someone in the predicament of Cardinal Maida in the account offered by the Elephants (above). What decent and civil human being, let alone a prominent and respected Cardinal, wants to be drawn into the thick of controversy? Much less, what bishop wants to be drawn into potentially acrimoneous debate with dissenters within in his own presbyterate, particularly when it involves politically charged hot button issues such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, priestly celibacy or the ordination of women? I feel a similar sympathy for my colleague Dr. Janet Smith whose work I respect immensely. The unpleasant side of her work as a Catholic ethicist is that she's drawn, frequently and against her inclination, into controversies about the nastiest of subjects, which I won't even mention here. The up-side, I suppose, is that she's widely recognized, even by the Vatican, as a beacon of fidelity and articulate orthodoxy on the issues she addresses.

I have it on the authority of one of my colleagues that some of these priests in the Elephants in the Room organization are "nice guys." I don't doubt that. But how, exactly, is that relevant here? There is pervasive confusion afoot in these parts about what it means to be Catholic, not least of all at institutions such as University of Detroit Mercy. I would not advise any of my children to attend such an institution, on peril of their souls, even if they received free tuition and a stipend. There are parishes, too, similarly disordered, which nobody I know with an ounce of spiritual discernment would recommend to a Catholic searching for a church home.

There is one point on which I find myself in complete agreement with the Elephants crowd: there is an Elephant in the room. It will not simply disappear, or stop wrecking the furniture or endangering those in the room if we just ignore it.

Related links:[Hat tip to Janet Smith, Tom Peters, and Joe Martin]

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The tsunami, the fear of God, & inspired compassion

This is a video of the tsunami which struck Japan a month ago.

Warning: The last couple minutes are hard to watch. Patrick Madrid calls it "by far the most chilling, the most horrifying video I have yet seen of the devastation ..." The more so if you understand everything they're saying.

This was called to my attention by a Patrick Madrid post via Fr. Z's post "We do not know the day or the hour," which had this to say:
Life is not CGI, friends. Bad things happen to nice people who are going about life just like you.

As this Lent continues, ask yourself the questions:
  • Are you ready now to go before the Lord your Maker and your Judge?
  • Have you helped those for whom you are responsible to be ready?
  • When was the last time you made a good and complete confession of your sins and received valid absolution?
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you may be saying now. “Are you trying to scare us? Shouldn’t we go to confession out of love and not fear?”

Yes, I am trying to scare you. I want to scare the hell out of you.

Going to confession for the higher purpose of expressing sorrow for violating God’s love is laudable. But going to confession because you are afraid of hell and because you know your life could end at any moment is enough. If I can get you out of your complacence and into a confessional even out of fear, fine. I take that.

I’ll take the fear now for a confession. We can work on the love part brick by brick.

Priests… bishops… this includes you. Your judgment … our judgment… is going to be exacting, for so much more has been given. “I don’t have time” isn’t a good plan. Just go. Die in the state of mortal sin and you’ll go to hell.
In related news, I would like to share part of a newsletter I received from a Baptist missionary relief worker in Japan among the earthquake/tsunami victims. The story is quite moving. There may be Catholic stories of a similar sort, and if anybody is aware of these, I should like very much to hear them. My own Catholic sources in Japan are limited, since my 20-odd years there preceded my conversion to the Catholic Faith nearly nearly 2 decades ago. Here's the excerpt:
I would like to share one of the stories that was shared during one of my debriefings. The team went to meet with the church members from Fukushima and evacuated together as a church. They went to Yamagata to another church that invited them to come stay at their church. When the team got there the evacuees welcomed them in and actually encouraged them. The team commented that being with other Christians had made a big difference in the attitude of the evacuees at the church and those that they had visited at evacuee centers. But the real miracle came as the people shared with them some of their stories. Since the church evacuated together some of the women who were Christians had brought their families, included their non christian husbands. Since the earthquake several of their husbands had watch the love of Christ displayed in the church and had just accepted Christ as their Savior. These new baby Christians decided that they had to leave their families and go back to work because they needed to tell their fellow workers about Christ and the new peace that they had just found. These men are workers at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, and they have left their families to go back to the Power Plant to be witnesses for Christ. They want to share with their fellow employees at the Plant what Christ had done for them. What a powerful witness to the love of Christ and how he can change lives.
Not a bad start.

[Hat tip to Barbie Webber]

The curious flap over The Vortex's Michael Voris

A combox comment let me over to the author's blog yesterday and a post by Joe entitled "The Vortex: Much ado about Michael Voris" (Defend us in Battle, April 11, 2011). I make no comment except to say that more may be riding on these sorts of showdowns than meets the eye. Stakes are high. Pray for all involved.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Why the New Age Catholicism of Sr. Joan Chittester is so BORING

Pat Archbold, "I am Boring and So Are You" (NCR, April 1, 2011):
One of my number one rules of blogging, aside from a three drink limit and a ban on bathtub blogging, is don’t write about Sr. Joan Chittester. It is boring.

That said, I am breaking my rule today because my topic du jour is boring. Not that my topic IS boring, but my post is ABOUT boring. So I judge it ok to break my rule this time.

So fair warning, I am now going to quote Sister. Please do not read this quote if you are operating heavy machinery.
Lent is not an event. It is not something that happens to us. It is at most a microcosm of what turns out to be a lifelong journey to the center of the self.

The purpose of Lent is to confront us with ourselves in a way that’s conscious and purposeful, that enables us to deal with the rest of life well. It is not a “penitential season.” It is a growing season. It requires us to determine what is worth dying for in our own lives and what it may be necessary for us to become if we really want to live.
I do not intend to critique Sr. Joan’s statement, per se, as we hold certain untruths to be self evident.

However after reading it, shortly after I stopped giggling, I realized how lucky I am. I cannot imagine a worse fate than a lifelong journey to the center of self. How boring would that be? I am boring, really boring, and what the pantsuit pantheists don’t realize is—so are they.

It is a strange conceit of the panthodox set that their selves are worth exploring. It is merely navel-gazing performed by the megalo-mundane vainly baptized as “spirituality.”

Spare me.

Following Jesus is not a journey to the center of self, it is learning to die to one’s self. It is not about exploring self to learn what to die for, as Sister Joan would have it, but dying to self to learn what to live for. The death of self leaves a God shaped hole that is filled by something much better, something much more interesting than me.

Sometimes when I finish praying to God about all I want-wish-need, I check myself and say, “Enough about me God, tell me about You.”
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Biretta Books To Publish Ozorak Chant Sheets In Book Form

Tridentine Community News (April 10, 2011):
As reported here earlier, last Sunday, April 3, Chicago’s Society of St. John Cantius presented Windsor’s Gregorian Chant Sheet author Michel Ozorak with the Golden Rose award for his contribution to the musical patrimony of the Church. At the presentation, it was announced that the Society’s publishing arm, Biretta Books, will be releasing a book series of the Chant Sheets, under the title, “Cantus Clericórum Románum” [Roman Clerical Chant]. The first book, an 800 page volume containing the Epistles, Gospels, Collects, and Postcommunions for all Sundays and First Class Feast Days, will be available later this month. The chants for Holy Week are included; 1962 versions of those chants have heretofore been out of print and very hard to find. Future volumes will be published as Michel produces chant sheets for additional days in the Church calendar.

The book will have a gold embossed red leather cover. Fleur de Lis symbols mark the ends of the cross in the center, reflecting Michel’s French heritage as well as the Fleur de Lis symbols found throughout Windsor’s Assumption Church, a parish founded to serve French settlers.

With the publication of this book, there may well come a day when “Do you use Ozorak?” becomes an expression used in liturgical circles much like “Do you have a copy of Fortescue?” is today.

Standing Room Only Congregation For Bishop Boyea’s Ann Arbor Mass

Also on April 3, Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea offered Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Ann Arbor’s Old St. Patrick Parish. With this visit, Bishop Boyea has now celebrated Mass at each of the four Tridentine Mass sites in the Diocese of Lansing, Old St. Patrick being one whose establishment he encouraged. A congregation of approximately 300 filled the pews, side aisles, and vestibule of the small, historic church.

As is typical at our major regional Masses, it was a cooperative affair: Vestments and supplies from Assumption-Windsor, St. Josaphat, and St. Albertus were used. Altar servers from St. Josaphat and Assumption assisted. And appropriately enough, given the above topic, His Excellency employed the Ozorak Chant Sheets.

Special thanks are due to pastor Fr. Gerald Gawronski and to Paul Schultz for making the myriad of arrangements behind this Mass. [You can see more photos posted HERE (Hat tip to Father Acervo's Corner).]

Holy Week Tridentine Mass Schedule

As in previous years, liturgies in the Extraordinary Form will be offered for the Sacred Triduum and surrounding days. Note that two services will be offered on Good Friday to suit your schedule.
  • Sun. 04/17 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Palm Sunday). The Passion will be chanted.
  • Sun. 04/17 2:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Palm Sunday). The Passion will be chanted.
  • Mon. 04/18 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Monday in Holy Week)
  • Tue. 04/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Tuesday in Holy Week)
  • Thu. 04/21 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Holy Thursday)
  • Fri. 04/22 1:30 PM: Good Friday Service at St. Josaphat. The Passion will be chanted.
  • Fri. 04/22 5:30 PM: Good Friday Service at Assumption-Windsor. The Passion will be chanted.
  • Sat. 04/23 8:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Easter Vigil)
  • Sun. 04/24 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Easter Sunday)
  • Sun. 04/24 2:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Easter Sunday)
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 04/11 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Monday in Passion Week)
  • Tue. 04/12 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Tuesday in Passion Week)
[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 10, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Friday, April 08, 2011

A reader solicits advice

A reader recently contacted me and posed the following conundrum, to which I replied that I had no clear or easy answer. The reader has given me permission, however, to post the message (with details pulled to retain anonymity) to see if other readers may have helpful suggestions. (I do request that you keep suggestions serious and courteous, if you do wish to offer any advice.) Also, I think it may be edifying for a wider audience of readers to be aware of just what sorts of challenges are faced by those trying to live out their lives faithfully as Catholics in the "trenches" these days:

I appreciate your insights on your blog, may God bless you for your work! I have a peculiar situation I am facing, and I wondered if you might have any advice. I apologize in advance for the length of this e-mail.

I have been attending a local approved Tridentine Mass for several months and have developed a great love for the Extra-Ordinary Form of the Mass. After some months of attending the TLM, my former parish got a new pastor, who is a great young priest, very solid and orthodox, and a good man.

I was hoping that my husband and kids could perhaps begin attending the TLM. My husband would not have objected, I don't think, but for the fact of a new development that seriously complicates the matter: the new priest is my husband's brother! This complicates the matter a bit, as I'm sure you will agree.

My brother's family members are also all parishioners at this Novus Ordo church, and they all seem quite excited about the opportunity to spiritually rebuild the parish, which has been adrift in a modernist mentality for some time.

So I figured I would help out as best I could. I volunteered to teach RCIA. I started leading a Rosary group before the Masses. I have even helped plan a major parish mission.

The problem I am facing is that the liturgy is really a source of discontentment for me. Week after week, it is just dismal, especially after being at the TLM for several months. The state of the liturgy, instead of being worshipful and uplifting, is consistently depressing. It has been several years now, and we have seen almost no change to the liturgies.

I want to stress that my husband's brother is a fine priest. Intellectually he sees the importance of renewing the Novus Ordo liturgy by conforming it more to the reverent and dignified way it is celebrated in the TLM. In fact, he has even expressed his willingness to learn the TLM -- eventually -- and to have one Tridentine Mass here at least on a weekly basis on Sundays. I do believe he is sincere in this desire.

So I have approached him with several ideas. I mentioned that I had contacted some priests who were willing to train him in the old liturgy. I offered to start a Latin Mass Society, an altar guild, to help raise financial support that he might need, and even to help by teaching a class to help acquaint parishioners with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

His response was to put me off by saying he didn't have time right now, or that there were too many parishioners who would be upset by an introduction of the older form of the liturgy.

This response was very hard for me to accept. I understand that priests are busy in all sorts of ways administering a parish, capital campaigns, parish schools, etc. I also appreciate that he is doing much to improve the quality of spiritual life in the parish, like beginning Perpetual Adoration for several days per week.

The problem I find is that any time anyone (not just I) proposes a change to the liturgy in a traditional direction -- such as the introduction of the Agnus Dei in Latin, or Boy only altar servers, he says that he just doesn't have time right now, or that those in the pews couldn't deal with such changes right now.

Of course, much of what he says is true. When such changes were proposed in the past, many of the parishioners rebelled and threatened to stop attending Masses anymore. Given these circumstances, not to mention the fact that his bishop is not especially interested in liturgical renewal and often gets frustrated with my brother-in-law for trying to change things for the better, I understand how my brother-in-law may find himself in a tough spot.

However, so am I. As a mother, I have young children of an age impressionable enough to be influenced by parishioner attitudes of irreverence and indifferentism at Mass, but not yet old enough to understand the historical and cultural reasons for the current state of affairs in the Church, let alone a proper grasp of the theology underlying the Mass. So I am deeply concerned for their need to attend a proper and reverent and holy Mass, whether it is a Novus Ordo Mass or TLM.

Given that it will apparently take many years before anyone can "fix" the liturgy at my brother-in-law's parish, and given the fact that we have been members there almost four years now, I am seriously contemplating asking my husband to transfer with me to the TLM parish. I realize how problematic this will inevitably be, given all the family ties we have to my husband's family here at this parish. Yet I feel that I have done all I can to help with the "renewal" of our parish here, all without much effect, I'm sad to say. I feel I'm at a point now where we need to make a decision based on the spiritual welfare of our children.

I don’t know whether my husband will understand or agree with my reasoning, particularly now since his brother is our parish priest. I am not even sure he will be open to my reasoning, since he has only attended the TLM a few times with me and is not particularly interested in details of theology and liturgy. As you know, those without much exposure to the TLM tend to dismiss those who love it and who protest liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo as "overly reactionary." My husband could very well share that sort of reaction.

My brother-in-law, the priest, feels that the way to change the liturgy is by converting the parishioners. If we do that, he says, the liturgy will "take care of itself." I'm inclined to be a bit less sanguine about "converting" the parish, particularly after years of trying to help "fix" it, apparently to little avail. At this point I'm inclined to think that if the liturgy could be repaired at all, even incrementally, by being brought more into conformity with liturgical tradition, that this would help to nourish and convert the parishioners. Isn't that what Pope Benedict suggested about the cross-fertilizing influence of the TLM on the Novus Ordo?

My question to you is: Which approach do you think is right? If you think I am mistaken in any of my judgments, please tell me how and why I am wrong. If you think I am right, on the other hand, then what sort of insights would you suggest I present to my brother-in-law to convince him of my position?

In Christ,

Is Holy Water really Holy under the new rite of blessings?

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf raises this question indirectly when he points out that the new book of blessings eliminates the distiction between invocative and constitutive blessings:
The old rite for blessing Holy Water speaks about the sacerdos, which means bishop or priest. It does not mean deacon. This is probably because the blessings include the exorcism of salt and of water, before they are blessed. When you tangle with the Enemy, you want the ontological character of sacramental priesthood. If a rare deacon would baptize in the older rite, he would use water that had been blessed already.

I surmise that deacons cannot bless Holy Water with the older form, even though the newer books may let them do so (De benedictionibus 1087). The reason why deacons can “bless” the water in the new book is because, so far as I can tell from a close reading of the Latin text, at no point does the celebrant actually bless the water. He talks about the blessings God could give people who use it, but the rite does not actually specify that the water be blessed. If someone can show me that I am wrong, can point to the word or gesture I am missing, I will happily be corrected.

... The new, dreadful, De benedictionibus – let it be swept away and forgotten – changes the theology of blessings in a way hitherto unimagined. In a nutshell, the new, post-Conciliar book eliminates – horribile scriptu – the distinction between invocative and constitutive blessings. The “blessings” in the new book don’t really bless things in the same way that the older ritual intended to bless things. They talk in a vague way about God’s favor on those who might walk nearby or use the thing.
I have not paid close attention to the priest's words when they have blessed rosaries and other religious articles for me, but I would now want to raise similar questions about such blessings. I know that our acquaintances over at Call to Action would consider this all so much "hocus pocus" and "mumbo jumbo" (one even suggested that laity should bless their own water and religious articles), but I still adhere to the old school view that a priestly blessing can and should confer something actual. The demons surely recognize this during exorcisms when they recoil from Holy Water and the invocation of the Holy Name of Jesus. Your thoughts?

State of the Church: dead wood and new life

  • "The Good Schism in the Church" (RealCatholicTV, April 5, 2011): "Many faithful Catholics recognize an 'undeclared' schism in the Church. While the schism is quite clear, what might not be as evident at first glance is what is forming on the side of Truth."
  • "Massive Attack" (RealCatholicTV, March 22, 2011): "There is a powerful bishop who is leading the fight to bring the Traditional Mass back to the faithful. Who could this Catholic hero be?" Will the forthcoming Instruction from the Vatican increase the power of Summorum Pontificum, require seminaries to prepare their students in the use of the traditional liturgy, and instruct bishops to stop placing restraints on the use of the EF?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

More than 1000 Catholics slaughtered this week

"Muslims target Catholic priests; Churches burned, more than 1,000 Christians slaughtered(video)" (RWBNews, April 5, 2011):
"At least 1,000 Christians were slaughtered this week in at the Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duekoue, Ivory Coast by Muslim troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara."
Still waiting to hear from the New York Times.

[Hat tip to Roger Lessa]

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Divine Office – Part 9

Tridentine Community News (April 3, 2011):
It can be challenging for the average layman to find time to pray. Attending daily Mass can be difficult to fit into the busy day of a working person, parent, or student. Why should laypeople even consider praying the Divine Office when time is so precious?

The simplest answer is that the Breviary is the Prayer of the Church. Like the Holy Mass, the full Divine Office follows a liturgical calendar and can help one integrate one’s prayers and thoughts into the seasons of the Liturgy. No other form of prayer will do this so systematically, or with such a connection to others offering the same prayers worldwide. Those who pray the Breviary unite not only with other individual laypeople and clerics, but with the religious who pray this liturgy in community every day. A regular practice of formalized prayer is a structured way to develop one’s spiritual life and focus one’s mind on God throughout the day.

Time Commitment

A study was done by showing the time it takes to pray (recited, not sung) the various hours of the Extraordinary Form Breviary. Different charts are presented because of variances in the length of the Hours for Ferias, Sundays, First Class Feasts, and Second or Third Class Feasts. For purposes of this discussion, they are close enough to one another to make a point. Times in minutes and seconds to recite the Divine Office on a Feria are: Matins: 16:21, Lauds: 8:26, Prime: 7:11, Terce: 3:56, Sext: 3:50, None: 3:42, Vespers: 7:23, and Compline: 7:39.

In comparison, praying the Holy Rosary takes approximately 20 minutes. Granted, the Rosary can be recited from memory, whereas a book is needed for praying the Divine Office. The point is that praying the full Breviary, or at least selected Hours from it, is not that different a time commitment than other forms of prayer or devotions. As we have shown in previous columns, praying one of the Little Offices can be even less of a time commitment. Like the Rosary, many Little Offices are memorizable, given that some or all of their Hours are the same every day. We therefore submit that while the notion of praying the Divine Office can be somewhat intimidating, the actual statistics prove that the time demand is not so severe, especially if one starts by praying only certain Hour(s).

Public Prayer of the Divine Office

Just as private recitation of the Divine Office has been gaining popularity among laypeople, celebrations open to the public have become more prevalent, including some at monasteries and convents. Some familiar names pop up when discussing such public celebrations, as they are often accompanied by impressive music programs. Vespers is popular, as Benediction is part of the service, and the afternoon hour can be convenient for those in urban settings.

St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County, California celebrates all of the hours of the Ordinary Form Divine Office. Latin is used on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays; English on the other days of the week. A complete daily schedule is available at

The Brompton Oratory in London, England celebrates Vespers according to the Extraordinary Form every Sunday at 3:00 PM, accompanied by a professional choir. A few miles away, Westminster Cathedral celebrates Vespers at 3:30 PM according to the Ordinary Form in a mixture of English and Latin, accompanied by the Cathedral Boys’ Choir.

Locally, most public celebrations of the Divine Office are rather low-key. Our own Assumption Church in Windsor offers Morning Prayer in the Ordinary Form every day at 7:40 AM in the Rosary Chapel. This is prayed from the abbreviated “Christian Prayer” book, an approved shorter version of the Liturgy of the Hours. The Dominican Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament on Middlebelt Road at 13 Mile Road in Farmington Hills offers Vespers in the Ordinary Form at 4:30 PM daily. If you know of additional local sites worth mentioning, please e-mail the address at the bottom of this page.

Our objective in presenting this series has been to expose the treasures of prayer available to all in the full Divine Office and the various Little Offices. More Catholics should be aware of the graces to be received by praying at least part of one of these Offices. Consider making the effort to pray at least one Hour, especially during the remainder of this Lenten season.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 04/04 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Monday in the Fourth Week of Lent)

Tue. 04/05 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Lent))
[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 3, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Some thoughts on the charismatic renewal and Catholic tradition

I found myself jarred by the title: "Assisi 2011: Road to Pentecost." Then I read the name of the website: "ICCRS: International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services." I had thought at first that the reference was to Pope Benedict's scheduled return to Assisi this fall to revisit the international meeting of world religious leaders first convoked by his predecessor, John Paul II, an event to which many of us likely respond with what a good Englishman might call, in unimpeachable understatement, mixed feelings. But the present reference to Assisi and Pentecost signifies, instead, a convocation of Catholics involved in the charismatic renewal for a series of "inspirational talks" leading up to Pentecost.

All of which raises some issues that I have begun studying in recent weeks about the place of the charismatic movement within Catholic history. It's all a bit curious. Among the spiritual gifts cited by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians, speaking in tongues and prophecy are sharply minimized in the public life of the Church. They are not to be viewed as a source of pride or a litmus test of advanced spiritual standing, but are placed well behind the greatest gifts: faith, hope and charity.

In Msgr. Ronald Knox's study of related spiritual phenomena in his Catholic classic, entitled Enthusiasm(1950; rpt., University of Notre Dame Press, 1994), he refers to movements exhibiting similar tendencies as "ultrasupernaturalism" and chronicles their trajectory from New Testament times in the Church of Corinth through the recensions of the Montanists, Donatists Albigensians, and various Medieval heresiarchs, up through 16th century Anabaptists, George Fox and his Quakers, Jansenists, Quietists, and various French prophets, and Moravians to the Methodist movement of the Wesley brothers. He writes:
The strength of this personal approach is that it dominates the imagination, and presents a future world in all the colours of reality. Its weakness -- but we are not concerned here to criticize -- is an anthropocentric bias; not God's glory but your own salvation preoccupies the mind, with some risk of scruples, and even of despair.

But the implications of enthusiasm go deeper than this; at the root of it lies a different theology of grace. Our traditional doctrine is that grace perfects nature, elevates it to a higher pitch, so that it can bear its part in the music of eternity, but leaves it nature still. The assumption of the enthusiast is bolder and simpler; for him, grace has destroyed nature, and replaced it. The saved man has come out into a new order of being, with a new set of faculties which are proper to his state; ... he decries the use of human reason as a guide to any sort of religious truth. A direct indication of the Divine will is communicated to him at every turn, if only he will consent to abandon the 'arm of flesh' -- Man's miserable intellect, fatally obscured by the Fall. (pp. 2-3)
The contemporary Catholic charismatic renewal movement is part of a more recent phenomenon. In Jack W. Hayford and S. David Moore's The Charismatic Century(New York: Warner, 2006), the 20th century movement is described in terms of "three waves." The first wave began, the authors say, with the historic Pentecostal revival meeting in Los Angeles on April 14, 1906, with the African American preacher, William J. Seymour -- an event known as the "Azusa Street Revival." The second wave, often called Neo-Pentecostalism, is associated with the "Latter Rain" movement, the healing movement linked with Oral Roberts in Topeka, Kansas, after the Second World War, as well as with the Episcopalian priest Dennis Bennett of Van Nuys, California, after his experience of speaking in tongues drew national attention. The third wave, as C. Peter Wagner calls it, apparently refers to those Christians intent on practicing biblical Christianity who acknowledge the "place and power of the Holy Spirit in ways of which many [are] unaware" (pp. 8-9), but who prefer not to be called Pentecostal or identified directly with those involved in the first two waves. The Catholic charismatic renewal apparently finds its place in this latter movement.

According to the authors, the Catholic charismatic movement grew out of post-Vatican II movements of spiritual renewal. Particularly, the movement is said to have been sparked by a weekend retreat on February 17, 1967, involving Catholic students, a priest and two faculty members from Duquesne University, who gathered to read and discuss evangelical author, David Wilkerson's book The Cross and the Switchblade, "because of its emphasis on the importance of Spirit baptism" (p. 217).

There were antecedent hints before this that something was afoot, the authors suggest. They point Pope Leo XIII's invocation of the Holy Spirit by singing the hymn "Veni Creator Spiritus" on January 1, 1901, dedicating the twentieth century to the Holy Spirit. They suggest the particular inspiration by the Holy Spirit of movements associated with the Second Vatican Council:
In 1959 Pope John XXIII, at the "sudden inspiration" of the Holy Spirit, called for the [twenty-]first ecumenical council for the Roman Catholic Church, only the third council since the Reformation. Especially important was the prayer of Pope John XXIII that the council might be a "New Pentecost." Several themes emerged from the council's periodic meetings from 1961 to 1965 that helped create a favorable environment from which the Catholic Charismatic Renewal emerged. There was a particular emphasis on the importance of charismatic gifts in the church. A key leader to the discussion on the gifts of the Holy Spirit was Belgium's Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens, whose words helped foster an atmosphere friendly to the Renewal.
It will not pass without notice by some of our readers that Cardinal Suenenes was one of those ambivalently-regarded luminaries in the firmament of the "Spirit of Vatican II" who promoted contraception in defiance of Church teaching (as Dr. Janet Smith pointed out to me), introduced Communion in the hand in Europe in defiance of the rubrics of the Holy See, and, among other things, disdained the traditional pre-Vatican II Latin liturgy.

All of which raises a host of questions about the relationship of the Catholic Renewal to Catholic Tradition, about priorities, emphases, the place of Magisterial teaching, formal Church membership, the life of faith, personal experience, supernatural graces, hermeneutics of "rupture" and "continuity," the letter and spirit of the law, and so forth. Not only this. It raises questions also about what led to the spiritual wasteland and the dearth of spiritual food and drink apparently perceived by many Catholics in the aftermath of Vatican II that induced them to turn to these experience-based movements of spiritual renewal. Apparently the stripped-down free-form New Mass alone did not quite do the trick. As one wag observed: “The police did not need to be called to Catholic churches each Sunday to hold back the hordes of lapsed Catholics whose faith had been rekindled at the prospect of saying the Confíteor in English” (Michael Davies, Pope Paul's New Mass,p. 92) -- or, one could add, holding hands during the Our Father and exchanging hugs during the rite of peace.

One of the chief patterns that emerges in Msgr. Knox's study is the propensity of movements of the charismatic kind, in their celebration of spiritual charisms, to become detached from the institutional Church and her liturgical and sacramental forms. This may not always happen, as it assuredly does not among most Catholic charismatics whom I know. Yet there could still be a subconscious inclination to regard formal 'set' prayers and liturgies and chants as, at best, a set of disposable training wheels to prepare one to ride solo, as practices that outwardly conform to the 'letter' of the law but inwardly may hamper the free flight of the 'spirit' if one continued to adhere rigidly to them -- whereas extemporaneous forms of prayer and worship and song may be regarded as the more authentic medium for expressing heart-felt devotion in a living relationship with Jesus Christ.

Without question there are traditions of mystical theology in Catholic tradition that attest to sublime flights of the spirit into realms transcending the mundane dimensions of religious experience. One thinks of the Carmelite mystics. Without question there are traditions of miraculous healings and supernatural happenings in Catholic tradition. One thinks of any number of saints, although Padre Pio comes to mind at the moment. Yet whatever graces such phenomena may hold, the conclusion that emerges from Msgr. Knox's study is that none may serve to substitute for the ordinary means of grace furnished by Holy Mother Church in her seven sacraments, her liturgy, her teaching, her traditions of dogma, prayer and devotion. These have always been the ordinary means of supernatural grace in the life of Catholics throughout the ages -- the place where the individual soul encounters his living Maker and Redeemer.

One memory is, for me, emblematic of the problem at issue here. I remember sitting in the room where, after one of Franciscan University's summer conferences, the meeting was held that led to the founding of the Coming Home Network, the association that has assisted numerous former Protestant pastors, laymen and their wives make the arduous transition across the Tiber to Rome. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, was present, and, at one point, he was asked to say a few words, which he did. The principals in the leadership of the convocation apparently involved a significant number of charismatics and former Protestants. At one point, an individual in attendance -- one, I think, who had not yet become a Catholic -- requested prayer for his particular circumstances. A number of those in attendance got up from their seats, surrounded the individual seated in the front of the room, and placed their hands on his head as one of them said a prayer invoking God's anointing and guidance in the man's life. Bishop Bruskewitz remained seated throughout, a bit awkwardly it seemed to me, his apostolic office as bishop neither solicited or consulted, but seemingly regarded in this instance as inessential.

Having said this, I hasten to conclude on a personal note by observing that I owe a debt of gratitude to Catholics associated more or less with the charismatic renewal during the years around the time I was received into the Church. While I have never been personally disposed to seek any of the extraordinary charisms such as speaking in tongues, I found that the verbal expressions of faith among charismatic Catholics I initially encountered coincided most directly with my own as a former Protestant -- not in the sense that I was ever personally a charismatic, but in the sense that the language of personal experience was most reminiscent of the more evangelical style of Protestant faith to which I had ample exposure since my childhood. The Catholic who sponsored me at my Confirmation was a charismatic. Many of those whom I came to know at Franciscan University and its summer conferences were charismatics. My erstwhile colleague at Lenoir-Rhyne University (no longer there), Dr. Ronda Chervin, is a charismatic. More recently, the deacon who baptized our youngest daughter in North Carolina was a charismatic. A number of my closest and dearest colleagues at Sacred Heart Major Seminary have been formed or influenced in one way or another by the Charismatic Renewal. In light of this, nothing I have said in the preceding post may be construed fairly as stemming from any kind of personal animus against those involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. On the contrary, I have great appreciation for their personal and spiritual depth and wisdom -- nobody more than Fr. Francis Martin, who just retired from Sacred Heart Major Seminary and whom I have known from the two separate occasions we had him down to speak to an annual theology conference hosted by the Center for Theology at Lenoir-Rhyne Univeristy in North Carolina.

Friday, April 01, 2011

No April Fool's joke: Foreign banks took most from Fed

What Bernanke's unsuccessful coverup reveals: "Foreign Banks Tapped Fed's Lifeline Most as Bernanke Kept Borrowers Secret" (Bloomberg, April 1, 2011): "U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s two-year fight to shield crisis-squeezed banks from the stigma of revealing their public loans protected a lender to local governments in Belgium, a Japanese fishing-cooperative financier and a company part-owned by the Central Bank of Libya."