Sunday, March 31, 2013

Douthat on the importance of Church cleaning house

As a reader remarked to me recently, a couple of the sanest pieces written about Pope Francis amid the recent cacophony of conflicting voices may be found, of all places, on the Op Ed page of the New York Times.

The most relevant piece at the time of this posting is Ross Douthat's article, "Lifting the Shadow of Scandal" (New York Times, March 18, 2013). Douthat writes:
There has been so much enthusiasm around the public style of Pope Francis — who has been populist, self-effacing and unscripted in his first few days as pontiff — and so much eagerness from so many quarters to see him as the reformer that the Catholic Church needs, that I felt like a bit of a downer accentuating the negative in my Sunday column, and emphasizing all the moral credibility that still needs to be rebuilt. But if personal holiness and seriousness of faith were sufficient qualities in a Roman pontiff, the last ten years would not have been a period of crisis in Catholicism, and the shadow of the sex abuse crisis would be fully lifted from the church. And it’s especially important, at the outset of a new pontificate, to understand the precise nature of that shadow, because at this point it’s no longer really about priestly sex abuse itself. Rather, it’s about a church that has cleaned house effectively and set up impressive structures of accountability everywhere except at the most prominent levels of the hierarchy.

Here are two names whose cases richly illustrate that problem. First: Roger Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles, one of the cardinal electors who just cast their votes in Rome — and among the worst of the worst when it comes to prominent hierarchs who kept predator priests in circulation while protecting them from prosecution....

Second: Angelo Sodano, formerly the Vatican’s Secretary of State under John Paul II, now Dean of the College of Cardinals. Sodano is alleged to have intervened on behalf of two prominent churchmen accused of sexual crimes — protecting Hans Hermann Groer, the former archbishop of Vienna, from canonical proceedings related to charges of sex abuse in the mid-1990s, and then protecting Father Marcel Maciel, the drug-addicted, seminarian-molesting bigamist who ran the Legionaries of Christ, from a church investigation until 2006, when the newly-elevated Pope Benedict finally barred Maciel from ministry....

* * * * * * *

[W]hile I can appreciate the qualities in Pope Francis that so many people have found immediately attractive, I would trade all the humble mannerisms and charming gestures for the promise that the Mahonys and Sodanos of the church would be consigned, once and for all, to lives of penitence and silence.

* * * * * * *

There are other names and cases I could cite, but Mahony and Sodano are particularly high-profile figures, and thus particularly representative of the unfinished business that Benedict’s papacy left behind.... [T]aking more punitive steps [than allowing age-mandated resignation to take its course] would have required Benedict to serve as a kind of “one-man Supreme Court” within the church — not the pope’s normal role, the mythology of papal power notwithstanding, and one that he clearly shied away from claiming.

But extraordinary crises call for extraordinary steps, and the choice to shy away from them was a fateful one: The absence of real accountability within the hierarchy helps explains why Benedict never earned sufficient credit for the many things he did right on sex abuse, and why the church as a whole is still struggling to put the era of scandal behind it. It ensured that the sex abuse crisis would recede only very gradually, that the closure that many ordinary Catholics want to feel would remain elusive, and that the crimes of the past would keep intruding, with every public appearance by a compromised cardinal, into an otherwise much-improved present.

If real closure is to come, if the sex abuse era is to be firmly ended rather than ever-so-slowly left behind, the beginning of this papacy is probably the church’s last, best opportunity. And so while I can appreciate the qualities in Pope Francis that so many people have found immediately attractive, I would trade all the humble mannerisms and charming gestures for the promise that the Mahonys and Sodanos of the church would be consigned, once and for all, to lives of penitence and silence.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Happy Caesar Chavez Day

Well, that's what Google wants to make of March 31st, which would have been Chavez's 86th birthday. That's fine for what it is.

It's not something that gets me all bent out of shape, because I recognize that those at the levers of power in this country and probably about half of our populace is no longer Christian in any substantial sense of the word. In fact, ours has been a post-Christian country for some decades now, and I've gotten "over" that fact long ago.

But this particular day of this particular year is the commemoration of the resurrection of the Creator of the world and King of the universe, whether anyone recognizes it or not. Happy Easter everyone!

Extraordinary community news

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

Tridentine Community News (March 31, 2013):
Religion and Art – Part 2 of 5

We continue our reprint of excerpts from an essay entitled Religion and Art by Fr. James Bellord, originally published in the 1910 book, A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching. The lessons contained are as relevant today as when they were first published.
The Church of God is beautiful. “Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is no spot in thee” (Cant. iv, 7). She is so, as being one of the chief of God’s works, His special dwelling, and the manifestation of His perfections to men. Her doctrines are beautiful. The mysteries of Religion, the perfections of God, the life of Jesus Christ, the glory of His blessed Mother, the sacred Scriptures, have been the continual delight of thousands. The solemnities and ceremonies of divine worship in the Catholic Church, how impressive they are for their stateliness and beauty! Those who have come out of curiosity or hostility have often felt as if they had seen a glimpse of heaven. Whether splendid or poor, whether celebrated under the dome of the noblest Church in Christendom, or in a wooden hut, or a cavern beneath the ground, the worship of the Church is always stately. She cannot be frigid or lifeless on the one hand, or grotesque and fanatical on the other. Her action, like that of God, is always beautiful.

The Catholic religion does far more than any other to elevate and ennoble its followers’ characters and beautify their lives. Among the simple, the poor, the suffering, in remote corners of the world, among an industrious and Christian peasantry, there is found a spirit of contentment, courtesy, faith, patience, purity and fervor, which go to make up the most lovely of spectacles. Religion is the only antidote to that sordid selfishness, meanness, cruelty and lust, which stain our civilization with such unloveliness and produce such hideous results. It is being discovered that the creation of wealth degrades the workers, that mere knowledge and industry cannot elevate them, and that the sight of artistic and beautiful things is necessary to nourish the imagination and bring light into their lives. Of old the Catholic Church supplied this need of the mind with its sculptured cathedrals, its pictured glass, its wealth of statuary and painting, its histories of the saints, its festivals and bright processions, pulpit eloquence, and moving strains of music. The Reformation in some lands swept all this clean away, condemned it for the very reason which is its great merit, that its vividness and splendor appealed so much to the artistic sense and gratified the imagination. Time has brought its revenge. Legal holidays, popular concerts, and galleries of art, are an attempt, all too tardy, to supply the toiler with some few crumbs of the banquet of beauty which the Church of old dispensed abundantly to all.

I must quote in substance the words of a distinguished non-Catholic author on this point: “One method by which Christianity has labored to soften the characters of men has been through the imagination. Our imaginations affect our moral character, and, in the case of the poor especially, the cultivation of this part of our nature is of inestimable importance. Rooted to a single spot, excluded from most of the interests that animate the minds of other men, condemned to constant and plodding labor, their whole natures would have been hopelessly contracted, were there no sphere in which their imaginations could expand. Religion is the one romance of the poor. It alone extends the narrow horizon of their thoughts, supplies the images of their dreams, allures them to the supersensual and ideal. … It is the peculiarity of the Christian types that, while they have fascinated the imagination, they have also purified the heart.” He then recalls some of the externals of Catholic worship and concludes, “More than any spoken eloquence, more than any dogmatic teaching, they transform and subdue his character” (Lecky).

As Religion is so closely connected with uncreated Beauty and with the Beautiful in most of its forms, so it has been the chief agent in originating and inspiring Art. Faith has supplied noble images to the mind, and breadth and dignity to the characters of men, and these qualities have expressed themselves outwardly in architecture, painting, poetry, music, etc. From these arts, first employed in the service of Religion, all modern Art has sprung. Painting, decoration and sculpture began in the Roman catacombs with the endeavor to express Christian hope in symbols on the martyr’s tomb, and Christian reverence around the Altar of the Holy Sacrifice; and they were brought to perfection by the need of representing the doctrines of religion on the walls of Churches for the instruction of the faithful. The requirements of a new class of buildings for religious purposes created the glorious architecture of the Middle Ages, more living and progressive than the massive Egyptian, the stern Doric, and the elegant Corinthian; more capable of yielding in its details to the varying fancy of each nationality; more capable of development on many different lines, ranging from rude massiveness to fair delicacy, but always marked by truth and perfect taste. Musical notation was invented by Pope St. Gregory the Great, and later the simple but exquisite hymns of the liturgy were one by one composed.
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 04/01 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Easter Monday)
  • Tue. 04/02 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Easter Tuesday)
  • Sun. 04/07 3:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Divine Mercy Sunday/Low Sunday) – Confessions start at 2:00 PM, Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00 PM, followed by Holy Mass
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for March 31, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bernstein & Zimermann

Edith Schaeffer, RIP

Edith Schaeffer, wife of the late Evangelical apologist Francis A. Schaeffer and co-founder of L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland, died today (Holy Saturday) at the age of 98. A prolific author in her own right, she was also a beloved matriarch of L'Abri Fellowship and leader of various Bible study groups, as well as a conference speaker around the world.

During her last years, she had been cared for reportedly by her daughter Debbie and her son-in-law Udo Middelmann, in whose home I had the honor of spending a year between my sophomore and junior years of college long ago.

Together with her late husband Francis, Edith influenced many lives through L'Abri Fellowship, including those of Dr. Eduardo Echeverria and my own at Sacred Heart Major Seminary whose years at L'Abri nearly overlapped back in the 1970s.

Born in Wenzhou, China as the daughter of missionaries to China, like yours truly, she had an international vision of the task of the church in the world.

She will be buried in Rochester, MN, where, sometime later, a public memorial service will be held.

A message from the L'Abri Staff on the passing of Edith Schaeffer may be found HERE on The Aquila Report on the website of the Reformed Theological Seminary (March 30, 2013).

Her son, Franky A. Schaeffer has written "A Tribute to My Evangelical Leader Mom-- Edith Schaeffer RIP" (The Huffington Post [There's a backstory on that], March 30, 2013). Franky includes a bibliography of his mother's works.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Into the long silence and loneliness of Good Friday night and Holy Saturday

Fr. Z on what Pope Francis is really up to

"What is Pope Francis really saying?" (WDTPRS, March 28, 2013). Fr. Z. writes:
Here is what I think Pope Francis is up to.

In this explanation I am not necessarily endorsing specific things that he is doing (washing the feet of females in a prison) or not doing (refusing the mozzetta, etc.).

... Before liberals and traditionalists both have a spittle-flecked nutty, each for their own reasons, try to figure out what he is trying to do.

Firstly, we are not succeeding in evangelizing. We are going backwards, globally....

In the wealthy west, the Church is often perceived (and it is so very often portrayed) as not being compassionate. The Church doesn’t care about women in crisis pregnancies (and therefore we don’t condone abortion or contraception because we are not “compassionate”. The Church doesn’t care about the divorced and remarried (because we don’t admit them to Holy Communion and therefore we are not “compassionate”).

I think what Pope Francis is up to is trying to project, re-project, is an image of the Church as compassionate.

... I’ll wager that, as a Jesuit, Francis doesn’t care about liturgy very much. He is just not into – one whit – either what traditional liturgy types or what liturgical liberals want....

Francis wants priests to talk to people and find out what they need and get involved in their daily struggles. Liturgy, for Francis, seems to be involved precisely in that. Do I think Francis may be missing huge points in this approach? Sure, right now I do. But I am leaving the jury out.

I don’t have to 100% embrace what Francis is doing even as I struggle to see and understand what I [think he] is up to.
This post raises all sorts of good talking points. Too many for Good Friday night. One that comes to mind however, is that the chief problem with our "not succeeding in evangelizing" is not so much our lack of good public relations icons to put a compassionate spin on the Catholic public image, so much as a failure to evangelize. Witness the total collapse of Catholic missions over the last half-century.

What would it require for us to begin evangelizing in earnest? Changed lives, souls converted to our Lord and Lady through the heart of Christ's Church. Cleaning house. Letting go all those whom our former Pope Benedict called "professional Catholics," those sacramentalized pagans who inhabit administrative positions in the Church with no shred of personal faith, along with DRE's, Catholic university and seminary professors who dissent from Church teaching and exhibit no personal enthusiasm for the propagation of The Catholic Faith or salvation of souls.

If hearts were converted to the Catholic Faith, compassion would follow and there would be little need for public relations undertakings for shows of compassion. On the other hand, there is little guarantee that shows of compassion will necessarily yield a harvest of Catholic Faith.

The Pope, outcasts, washing women's feet, and antinomianism

An excellent post by Canon Lawyer, Edward Peters, "Popes, like dads, don't have a choice in the matter" (In the Light of the Law, March 28, 2013):
Pope and dads set examples whether they want to or not. If I have dessert despite not having finished my supper, my kids do not experience that family rule as something presumably oriented to their welfare, but rather, as an imposition to be borne until they, too, are old enough to make and break the rules. Now, none will dispute that Pope Francis has, by washing the feet of women at his Holy Thursday Mass, set an example. The question is, what kind of example has he set?

... I have never doubted that liturgical law expressly limits participation in that rite to adult males, and I have consistently called on Catholics, clerics and laity alike, to observe this pontifically-promulgated law in service to the unity (dare I say, the catholicity) of liturgy (c. 837). Pope Francis’ action today renders these arguments moot. Not wrong, mind. Moot.

By disregarding his own law in this matter, Francis violates, of course, no divine directive.... What he does do, I fear, is set a questionable example at Supper time.

We’re not talking here about, say, eschewing papal apartments or limousines or fancy footwear. None of those matters were the objects of law, let alone of laws that bind countless others. (Personally, I find Francis’ actions in these areas inspiring although, granted, I do not have to deal with complications for others being caused by the pope’s simplicity).

Rather, re the Mandatum rite, we’re talking about a clear, unambiguous, reasonable (if not entirely compelling or suitable) liturgical provision, compliance with which has cost many faithful pastors undeserved ill-will from many quarters, and contempt for which has served mostly as a ‘sacrament of disregard’ for Roman rules on a variety of other matters. Today, whether he wanted to, or not, Francis set the Catholic world an example, about solidarity with outcasts, certainly, and about regard for liturgy.

A final thought: we live in antinomian times. One of the odd things about antinomianism (a condition that, by the way, does not always imply ill-will in its adherents though it usually implies a lack of understanding on their part) is that antinomianism makes reform of law not easier but harder: why bother undertaking the necessary but difficult reform of law when it’s easier simply to ignore it?

It’s a question with reverberations well beyond those of a foot-washing rite.
What I find particularly insightful here is the possibility, not merely of the obvious connection between antinomianism (disregard for law) and ill-will, but between antinomianism and good will, and even compassion. As my mother used to repeat ad nauseam: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Food for thought here. Thank you Dr. Peters. Or, would I have rather preferred the unperturbed bliss of remaining undisturbed?

[Hat tip to R.C.]

Update (3/29/1013):

Dr. Edward Peters has followed up his earlier post with another provocative and thoughtful retrospective on the Mandatum right controversies. As he admits, his area of expertise is ecclesiastical law. But then, this allows him also to say that he has, along with many others, "long been open to revising the Mandatum rite so as to permit the washing of women's feet," which might lead one to wish to consult someone with some theological expertise, like, say, Fr. Zuhlstorf, who offers appreciative constructive disagreement with parts of Peters' post like these (I recommend reading Fr. Z's commentary along with Peters' post). In fairness, Peter's does add that he understands that "strong symbolic elements are in play [in the Mandatum rite] and I might be under-appreciating arguments for the retention of the rite as promulgated by Rome."

Concerning Pope Francis' breach of liturgical law on Maundy Thursday, Peters writes:
If liturgical law permitted the washing of women’s feet at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, no one would have noticed the pope’s doing it. What was newsworthy (apparently, massively newsworthy) is that, precisely because liturgical law does not authorize it, the pope’s performance of the action was huge news.

... Few people seem able to articulate when a pope is bound by canon law ... and when he may ignore it .... Most Church laws, however, fall between these two poles and require careful thinking lest confusion for -- nay, dissension among -- the faithful arise. Exactly as happened here. Now, even in that discussion, the question is not usually whether the pope is bound to comply with the law (he probably is not so bound), but rather, how he can act contrary to the law without implying, especially for others who remain bound by the law but who might well find it equally inconvenient, that inconvenient laws may simply be ignored because, well, because the pope did it.

... A pope’s ignoring of a law is not an abrogation of the law but, especially where his action reverberated around the world, it seems to render the law moot.... What is not good is to leave a crystal clear law on the books but show no intention of expecting anyone to follow it. That damages the effectiveness of law across the board. (Emphasis added)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Brilliant satire!

And they think it's unconscionable to want to cut spending.... Idiots!

Update: Dems warn of airplane mid-air crashes, terrorists, prison riots, cocaine flooding streets, even hurricanes and tornadoes left undetected by budget-slashed agencies, if Sequestration is left in place!!

[Hat tip to R.B.]

Sheesh!!! Beiden, Dolan, Voris

"Dolan," "Dolanism," "Dolanites"

This program is from ChurchMilitant.TV

Penance! Penance! Penance!

[Hat tip to Robin Beck]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Will Rome support Hungary?

As some may recall, Hungary adopted a new constitution on April 25, 2011, putting itself on the line moving in the direction of a religious state, proudly professing its Christian heritage and the founding role of King Saint Stephen a millennium ago. This has also meant a move away from the pluralist polity apparently favored by the Church since the Second Vatican Council.

Hungary now desperately needs the backing of the Church in order to sustain the new constitutional direction upon which it has embarked. This was made apparent recently in an interview of Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, by a Polish Catholic Sunday weekly, Niedziela (March 27, 2013). Hungary needs the Church to back Hungary's right to resist the banks, to fight homosexuality through public civic sanctions (Hungary is being excoriated for its opposition to gay marriage and same-sex adoption of children), etc., in keeping with Church tradition and current teaching. Hungary also needs the Church to support its new constitution's protection of life from the moment of conception.

Some excerpts from Prime Minister Orban's interview:
If we had stronger Church, the whole country would be stronger. We are not able to reverse the situation so quickly.

I want to emphasize again that life is a value and it is an issue beyond question. European politicians, who say that Christianity is important, are attacked. Their statements are considered as politically incorrect. So, it is not easy to build a coalition for defence of these values because in discussions we are accused of being intolerant and when we speak about Christianity we hear that it is discrimination. And, therefore, the people in authority are very careful, avoid discussions concerning the whole world. In such matters, it is extremely difficult to create the common ideological alliance among countries in Europe. Personally, I use a different tactics – I try to create a coalition among people; for, there are such communities in the European politics, maybe not big, but significant for Christian opinions. These are communities concentrated around the Church, but acting in the public sphere. It is quite a strong network but its real power is invisible.

I try to build alliances with politicians for whom Christianity and traditional values are important. I know that these are strong alliances. I withstand the attacks because I feel the support from allies who are in solidarity with me.

... prayer is much more important for the life of the nation than it used to be thought in the public life. i would like to mention one of such spiritual initiatives. In the second half of the 50s, for several years there was a powerful prayer movement in Austria. People who took part in it, prayed for the intention of leaving their country by the Soviets. And the prayer was successful. In the Central Europe the prayer movement for the intention of the nation has deep traditions to which I refer with a great respect. I also know that people pray for me as well, especially when I face difficult tasks. And this is a great help for me.
Some traditionalists (e.g., TheWhiteLilyBlog) are not sanguine about the prospects of Rome backing the Hungarian venture towards a more traditional religious state, especially after the post-WWII shifts toward favoring an American-type pluralist democracy, as expressed in Jacques Maritain's Man and the State, and Fr. John Courtney Murray, S.J.'s We Hold These Truths. We shall see whether the Minders of the Store will stand on principle or sweep Hungary under the bus, as some suggest. Time will tell.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

Monday, March 25, 2013

The party of the poor and oppressed

Joe Biden has a reputation for liking to chum it up with working class guys in local diners and such, and giving the impression that he's an average sort of Joe.
  • CNN recently uncovered a $321,665 receipt for a limosine in Paris, France
  • NRO reports that his recent stay in London cost $459,338.65.
  • and his one-night Paris hotel tab was reported at $585,000.50.
Average Joe. Yeah. Average Joe is paying his salary. Average Joe and his kids.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Why I becam a cocaine addict"

[Hat tip to Nichole DeMille]

The dissent of a woman

Marielena Montesino de Stuart stands as a thorn in the side of EWTN Vatican cheerleaders who are even more Ultramontanist than William Ward who wished he had a papal bull with his breakfast each morning to read along with the Times.

In her blog,, she has had a history of writing exposés of everything from an alleged scandal involving a building erected at Ave Maria University bearing the name of a politician who has given millions to hard-core pro-choice politicians, including Obama, on the one hand, to American cardinals involved in the coverup of the homosexual/pederast scandal among United States clergy, on the other. Her offerings are neither for the faint of heart or those unwilling to do their own research to confirm or refute.

What takes the cake, however, is her recent series of articles concerning the election of Pope Francis. In a few cases, there is little more than a gesture or an allegation, without much support. In others, however, there is enough substance to evoke a provocation or two. A lot of guilt-by-association, certainly, and demonstrated disdain for traditional forms.

One tiny thing that struck me was the apparent allergy the Holy Father apparently has about making the sign of the cross outside the context of Mass. Why, I wonder?

In any case, here are just three of Montesino de Stuart's posts (yes, I know they sound brazen: you'll have to scroll horizontally through some of her titles to find all she has):

Extraordinary community news

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

Tridentine Community News (March 24, 2013):
Religion and Art – Part 1 of 5

Recent columns have addressed the renewed interest in classic forms of sacred art and architecture. Today we reprint the first in a series of excerpts from an essay entitled Religion and Art by Fr. James Bellord, originally published in the 1910 book, A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching. The lessons contained are as relevant today as when they were first published.

“Thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty: for thou wast perfect through my beauty which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.” —Ezech. xvi, 14.

The first object of religion is to bring us into communication with God and to save our souls: but its influence extends farther and lower than this object, and it affects the whole man in all his relations. Religion brings us into union with God; and God is not only the perfection of our spiritual life, but your intellect, will, imagination, and your whole natural life. We must not think that God is the object of worship only; He is the object of all our faculties and senses: they must all look to Him and serve Him.

God is not only Truth and Law, the rule of our belief and moral action, He is also perfect Beauty. This is one of His divine perfections. God’s Beauty will be one of the delights of the blessed in heaven. They will be filled with it as with His Truth and Goodness, through these faculties whose object is beauty. Beauty is also a mark of God’s works. Each one, even of His lowest material works, is an object of delight for its beauty to any who cares to study it. “His ways are beautiful ways” (Prov. iii, 17).

The Beautiful is one of the great sources of delight to mankind. It is something intangible and indescribable inhering in things; it is something which is different from their material composition. We cannot analyze it. It is a certain harmony and proportion, variety and unity, which fills us with delight as we contemplate it. Whether we consider a melody, or a series of sounds, a mountain chain, or a problem in mathematics, a poem, a thunderstorm, an invention, there is a something which is the same in all, which appeals to our sense of beauty and gives us exquisite pleasure. It is some gleam of divine beauty reflected in the creature.

It might be thought that Religion has no concern with the science of the beautiful, that it is too austere to bend to such frivolity, and that earthly beauty is rather the material of self-indulgence and sin. Not so. The perception and enjoyment and production of beauty are closely connected with God and religion. Religion is to us the source of the highest beauty as well as of truth and morality. The text speaks of the beauty of Jerusalem, which is the figure of the present Jerusalem, the true Kingdom of God on earth. She, too, is renowned for her beauty, and is made perfect with the beauty of God, which is communicated to her. Let us consider the desire which God has given us for the Beautiful, and see how it is met by Religion and gratified.

We are full of desires. These are capacities for action or enjoyment implanted in us by God. These natural cravings are good in themselves, and are intended to be gratified under due conditions, except so far as God may call us, at times or totally, to self-renunciation. However, through our own perversity or that which we inherit, we often exercise these desires on forbidden objects, or selfishly, for our own interest and pleasure apart from God. There is great danger of these desires becoming evil and leading us to sin and eternal loss. They need to be exercised then with caution and self-restraint.

One of our chief desires is rooted in the imagination and aims at the enjoyment of the Beautiful; and this is the origin of Art. We try to copy for our possession something beautiful in nature or in our own imagination. This is a faculty peculiar to man. The beasts do not share it; they seek food, shelter, warmth, and there is an end of it; of beauty, as of truth and law, they have no apprehension. Among men this faculty is universal. Early savage man engraved reindeer and horses on his implements of bone, and adorned himself with teeth of animals or beads of stone. Infants delight in beauty of color, and cry for anything bright and pretty. Savages show an acute sense for color and form in their ornaments of beads, and porcupine quills, and skins. Cave-dwellers have left colored pictures of men and animals on the walls of their abodes. The poorest people, indifferent almost to comfort, will adorn their hovels with bits of china and glaring pictures. The sense of beauty and of art, although crude, is common to them all. God is the ultimate object of this craving. The more nearly we approach to the likeness of God, the more shall we participate in this beauty, the more we shall be able to appreciate it and reproduce it. Religion brings men more under the influence of God, not only as the Truth and Law of goodness, but also as Beauty. It guides our desire and leads us to its fulfillment.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 03/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Monday in Holy Week)
  • Tue. 03/26 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Tuesday in Holy Week)
  • Thu. 03/28 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Holy Thursday)
  • Fri. 03/29 Noon: Good Friday Service at St. Josaphat
  • Fri. 03/29 5:30 PM: Chanted Good Friday Service at Assumption-Windsor
  • Sat. 03/30 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Easter Vigil) – Note time change
  • Sun. 03/31: No Mass at St. Josaphat
  • Sun. 03/31 2:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Easter Sunday) – Choir will sing Mozart’s Missa Brevis in G, K. 140
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for March 24, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fr. "Braveheart" William Wallace, O.P.

From the U.S. Navy to the Dominican Priesthood: Fr. William Wallace, O.P. (Dominican House of Studies - Priory)

Fr. William A. Wallace, O.P., served as a line officer in the United States Navy for five years during World War II, with a specialty in underwater ordinance and mine warfare. He received the Bronze Star and Legion of Merit medals for exceptionally meritorious service, and became a Dominican novice in 1946, entering the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, the Eastern Province of the United States.Fr Wallace was born in 1918, graduated from Manhattan College, New York, in 1940, and later received advanced degrees from The Catholic University of America, M.S. (Physics), 1952; the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C., S.T.B., 1952; S.T.L., 1954; the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, Ph.D. (Philosophy), 1959; Th.D. (Theology), 1962. Fr Wallace was interviewed in 1982 at the Dominican House of Studies, Washington, D.C., where he served for many years.

Why this post on Fr. Wallace? Because I use his text, The Modeling of Nature: Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Nature in Synthesis(Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1997) as one of our texts for a Philosophy of Nature course I teach at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. It's a trial by fire for many incoming students, since it's often their first exposure to the Aristotelian philosophical vocabulary and conceptualization with technical scientific modeling to which they've been exposed. Still, they have generally risen to the challenge. The MIT graduate who at first could make little sense of why we should want to make use of Aristotle's ancient causal model later came to appreciate Fr. Wallace's (and Aristotle's) wisdom, and even spearheaded the production of a canticle employing many of the technical terms used by Fr. Wallace. We sent Fr. Wallace a CD of the Seminary Choir performing the canticle, and he wrote back a letter of appreciation saying he might consider including copies of the CD in future editions of his book!

Related: Fr. Wallace, Philosophy of Nature, International Catholic University [transcript of video below]

[Hat tip to Mark Latkovic]

A little perspective: How does the Vatican budget compare to Harvard's?

John L. Allen, Jr., "Harvard's Budget Ten Times that of Vatican" (First Thoughts, March 19, 2013):
“The Vatican has an annual operating budget of under $300 million, while Harvard University, arguably the Vatican of elite secular opinion, has a budget of $3.7 billion, meaning it’s ten times greater. The Vatican’s ‘patrimony,’ what other institutions would call an endowment, is around $1 billion. In this case, Harvard’s ahead by a robust factor of thirty, with an endowment of $30.7 billion.”
Just putting things in a little perspective.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Do traditionalists need to "Take a Deep Breath and ... Calm Down?"

A reader writes:
"I have always respected Palau, so this was encouraging at least for me: "Luis Palau: Why It Matters that Pope Francis Drinks Mate with Evangelicals" (Christianity Today, March 14, 2013) [cf. "Secret Life of a Fool" by Andrew Palau, Louis Palau's son].

"I continue to think Traditionalists hurt their own cause by being to rigidly wed to the one hundred percent clause. The opposition to Catholic Tradition is discouraging, and yet even in the Old Testament the Lord remained faithful to the Jewish system while he went outside it as well to bless. The over-hostility to anything remotely questionable is understandable given the mess of Vatican II, but it is also wrong. I mean, should we trash Bouyer's book on Protestantism, encouraging conversion, because he was Küng's doctoral advisor? When this new Pope told a friend the Anglican Ordinariate was unnecessary, that could easily mean God can work inside the Anglican Church without also meaning no one should convert. Some will, inevitably stay: others we are pleased come on in, of course. That is simply matter of fact. Etc.

"Anyway, the proof is in the pudding. It killed me how newsheads all opined, 'The first few days define the papacy....' and everyone nods. Only in Facebook nation does initial PR define things. In reality it blurs things. Only actions, as they unfold, define. Even Paul VI, for all his baggage, had a fistful of happily resonant teaching moments on transubstantiation and birth control, of all things!!

"Hence I thought this was very spot on: Taylor Marshell, "Traditionalists and Pope Francis: Can We Take a Deep Breath and Please Calm Down?" (Canterbury Tales, March 14, 2013)."
Related:[Hat tip to J.M.]

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fiscally we're the healthiest-looking horse in the glue factory

I wonder. Are we capable anymore of being fiscally RESPONSIBLE as a nation? We hear that "creating jobs" is the real problem. But what can government do about creating jobs if it's bankrupt?

We hear that the Cypriot government is preparing to expropriate their citizens bank accounts in order to bailout their debts. As the dominoes tumble, Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland could be next?

Our administration is running up the national credit card by the TRILLIONS, like it's hooked on crack cocaine, with no expressed intention of doing anything to pay it back (but leave it to the next generation to pay off).

And a majority of American's still think that a revenue neutral budget passed by the House entails unconscionable injustice and hardship, because it doesn't add over another trillion-dollar spending increase like the new Senate budget?!!

Lord, help us.

In the meantime, the Fed continues pumping funny money money into the market (currency backed by precisely ... nothing), deflating the value of the dollars in everyone's paychecks, bank accounts, and retirement portfolios. Will we ever learn? Yes, of course. But most likely only when it's too late.

And then there's THIS from Mr. Obama's first term in office:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

When will they every learn? ...

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick's Day 2013: Five Things You Didn't Know [but probably did if you are a Die-Hard] (ABC News, March 17, 2013):
  1. St. Patrick was not Irish: His birth name was actually Maewyn Succat -- it wasn't until he was in the Church that it was changed to Patricius, or Patrick. St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, was born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, which is in Scotland. As a teenager, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and enslaved as a shepherd for several years. He attributed his ability to persevere to his faith in God.
  2. Did St. Patrick Drive All the Snakes Out of Ireland? - Despite the popular lore, St. Patrick did not drive the snakes out of Ireland because the island did not have any to begin with. Icy water surrounds the Emerald Isle, which prevented snakes from migrating over. [... and if you're REALLY a Die-Hard, you probably won't believe this demythologization anyway!]
  3. St. Patrick's color is blue -- Green may be the national color of Ireland, but the color most associated with St. Patrick is blue. The Order of St. Patrick was established in 1783 as the senior order of chivalry in the Kingdom of Ireland. The color associated with the honor needed to differentiate it from the Order of the Garter (dark blue) and the Order of the Thistle (green). So they went with blue.
  4. Largest St. Patrick's Day Parades Are Held Outside of Ireland: The first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in the U.S. The Irish have been celebrating the feast of St. Patrick since the ninth century, but the first recorded parade anywhere was in Boston in 1737. The parade was not Catholic in nature, though, because the majority of Irish immigrants to the colonies were Protestant. Ireland did not have a parade of its own until 1931, in Dublin. Even today, 18 out of the 20 largest St. Patrick's Day parades are in the states -- New York's is the largest.
  5. The Shamrock is used to explain the Holy Trinity -- St. Patrick used a three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to pagan Irish, forever linking the shamrock with him and the Irish in the popular imagination. He would tie shamrocks to his robes, which is why the color green is worn. [But of course ANY Papist worth his salt, pertinacious or not, knows THIS!!!]
But also remember that the Irish immigration to America came because of a deliberate campaign of genocide by starvation ... [Hat tip to Tim Ferguson]

Extraordinary community news

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

Tridentine Community News (March 17, 2013):
Indulgenced Prayer for the Pope

Upon the election of our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, is it fitting for us to pray the traditional Prayer for the Pope, which is enriched with a Partial Indulgence any time it is prayed:
℣. Orémus pro Pontífice nostro Francísco. ℟. Dóminus consérvet eum, et vivíficet eum, et beátum fáciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in ánimam inimicórum ejus.

℣. Let us pray for our Sovereign Pontiff Francis. ℟. The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies.
Plenary Indulgences for the Year of Faith in the Archdiocese of Detroit

In the December 30, 2012 edition of this column, we mentioned the opportunities to gain a Plenary Indulgence for the Year of Faith by making a pilgrimage to one of the sites designated by the local Bishop. Our own Assumption Church in Windsor is one of the pilgrimage sites in the Diocese of London, Ontario.

Recently Archbishop Allen Vigneron published the pilgrimage sites for the Archdiocese of Detroit. The relevant section of his letter is as follows:
In this Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI has given Christ’s faithful the opportunity to obtain a special plenary indulgence. Through the wisdom of age, the Church has come to see that extraordinary acts of faith, in turn, bring about extraordinary grace.  In the Holy Father’s decree Urbis et Orbis he writes,

“Throughout the Year of Faith – established from 11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013 – all individual members of the faithful who are truly repentant, have duly received the Sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion and who pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff may receive the Plenary Indulgence in remission of the temporal punishment for their sins, imparted through God’s mercy and applicable in suffrage to the souls of the deceased. Since the primary objective is to develop sanctity of life to the highest degree possible on this earth, and thus to attain the most sublime level of pureness of soul, immense benefit may be derived from the great gift of Indulgence which, by virtue of the power conferred upon her by Christ, the Church offers to everyone who, following the due norms, undertakes the special prescripts to obtain them.”

As your Archbishop, and in accord with the attached decree issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary, I have designated eight churches, dispersed throughout the Archdiocese, where you may make a pilgrimage to obtain the plenary indulgence after having also received the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion, and having prayed for the intentions of the Holy Father. With the advice of the auxiliary bishops, I have designated the following places of pilgrimage:
  • Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament
  • St. Anne Church in Detroit [photo by Andrew Fanco, right]
  • St. Anne Church in Monroe
  • St. Anne Church in Ortonville
  • St. Anne Church in Warren
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Plymouth
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Emmett
  • Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake (on the campus of Orchard Lake Schools)
Holy Week & Easter Schedule

We are pleased to present the list of Tridentine Masses for Holy Week and Easter Week, 2013. Please note that the only Good Friday service this year will be at Windsor’s Assumption Church. There will be no Good Friday service at St. Josaphat.
  • Mon. 03/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Monday in Holy Week)
  • Tue. 03/26 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Tuesday in Holy Week)
  • Thu. 03/28 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Holy Thursday) – Call to confirm time
  • Fri. 03/29 5:30 PM: Chanted Service at Assumption-Windsor (Good Friday)
  • Sat. 03/30 8:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Easter Vigil) – Call to confirm time
  • Sun. 03/31 2:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Easter Sunday)
  • Mon. 04/01 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Easter Monday)
  • Tue. 04/02 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Easter Tuesday)
  • Sun. 04/07 3:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Divine Mercy Sunday/Low Sunday) – Confessions start at 2:00 PM, Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00 PM, followed by Holy Mass
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 03/18 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria in Passion Week)
  • Tue. 03/19 7:00 PM: Solemn High Mass with Deacon and Subdeacon at Assumption-Windsor (St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Patron of Canada and of the Universal Church)
  • Sun. 03/24 1:40 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Palm Sunday) – Note special time, 20 minutes earlier than usual
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for March 17, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The shape of the future

Elizabeth Scalia, "Pope Benedict: Faith and the Future" (The Anchoress, February 16, 2012), writes:
In 2009 Ignatius press released this prophetic little volume,written by our pope over 1969-1970 — while the world was in the first throes of the social revolution. I thought I’d share a few of Joseph Ratzinger’s prescient thoughts. They seem timely:
“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.”
He goes on, saying: [of the church]
"It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution – when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

"And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already with Gobel, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”

Obama delegation to Pope's installation

Patrick J. Puchanan, "Pope Francis -- Against the West?" (Taki's Magazine, March 15, 2013):
... One hears that President Obama will send to the official installation of the Holy Father to represent America our ranking Catholic officeholders, Vice President Joe Biden, along with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

One wonders what His Holiness will be thinking as he greets these ornaments of American Catholicism, both of whom regard Roe v. Wade, which has resulted in 53 million abortion deaths, as a milestone of progress for women’s rights and homosexual marriage as the civil rights cause of the 21st century.

Quotes from a most quotable Deist

From John Petrie's Collection of Thomas Jefferson Quotes:
  • I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
  • An elective despotism was not the government we fought for.
  • The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.
  • I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.
  • I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
  • I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.
  • “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” (Quoting Cesare Beccaria)
  • The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.
I'm sure most readers are familiar with Jefferson's ideas. Despite the fact that he was merely a Deist and believed a great deal of nonsense he acquired from representatives of the French Enlightenment, or Endarkenment, in Paris -- e.g., "I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature"; and "In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to Liberty" -- and owned slaves, and so forth, I am always amazed at the genius of the man -- the fact that he studied Latin, Greek and French at age 9; entered the College of William and Mary at age 16; started his own law practice at age 23; was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses at age 25; wrote the Declaration of Independence (a literary masterpiece) at age 33; served as Governor of Virginia, and in Congress in his early 40s, and as Secretary of State under Washington, and as Vice President and President of the American Philosophical Society; became the head of the Republican Party at age 55, and was elected the third president of the U.S. two years later (then for a second term when he was 61); obtained the Louisiana Purchase, effectively doubling the nation's size; created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.

You may recall the quip by John F. Kennedy at a dinner he held at the White House for some of the brightest minds of the nation during his administration: "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

Friday, March 15, 2013

The joy of the truth

A reader writes:
The article I have been waiting for is now translated. "The Joy of the Truth" is the 5th chapter of Abbe Georges de Nantes Autobiography. It is thrilling to read the account of his seminary studies at the great Sulpician seminary of Issy. Issy was the Catholic St. Cyr (or Westpoint). A model of discipline and a curriculum without peer. This idyllic life would be destroyed by the Liberation in 1944 with political correctness replacing Catholic tradition.
Indeed, this account of the irrepressible Fr. Ruff and his animated and demonstrative approach to seminary teaching is as humorous as it is inspiring. Enjoy!

[Hat tip to Sir Anthony S.]

Contraceptive culture denatures the meaning of celibacy

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, "Contraception and Celibacy" (Patheos, March 7, 2013) -- an excerpt:
Artificial contraception has made sex into recreation rather than pro creation, and marriage has therefore changed it’s meaning. Marriage is intended to be a sacrament of self sacrifice. Now for the majority of Americans it is a sacrament of self gratification. Consequently, celibacy has also lost its meaning. Celibacy only has meaning when you understand marriage. Marriage is a life long commitment within which two people grow into the maturity of love and (ideally) do so within the natural dynamic of a large and loving family. Celibacy reflects that love when the celibate person sacrifices marital love and family love to make their own life long commitment to the greater love of God and others.
[Hat tip to Janet Smith]

Atheism and honesty

I have been struck by St. Paul's words in Romans ch. 1, which suggest that there is no such thing as a bona fide atheist, that all men have a knowledge of God "from the things that He has made" available to them, even when, as he says, they "repress" this truth in their "unrighteousness." If this is the case, I suppose it means that although there are those who consider themselves "atheists," that they are repressing something that they "cannot not know," to borrow J. Budziszewski's apt phrase.

Then, there's this new interesting article by Damon Linker, reviewing A.C. Grayling's book, The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism. Linker's article is entitled "Where are the honest atheists?" (The Week, March 8, 2013), and detailing the case "That godlessness might be both true and terrible is something that the new atheists refuse to entertain." But unlike Nietzsche and Camus, who were at least honest about the implications of their nihilism, Grayling's argument is graying with well-rehearsed dissimulation. As Linker writes: ". . . honesty requires more than sentimental, superficial happy talk, which is all readers will get from A.C. Grayling and his anti-religious comrades in arms."

[Hat tip to Janet Smith]

Alcuin Reid interviewed on past, present, future of liturgy

"Sacred Liturgy: Past, Present, and Future" (Catholic World Report, February 27, 2013): An interview with Dom Alcuin Reid about the liturgy, Vatican II, and the upcoming Sacra Liturgia 2013 conference in Rome

Alice von Hildebrand: 90th birthday

"Champion of ‘Feminine Genius’ Celebrated on 90th Birthday" (National Catholic Register, March 14, 2013).

[Hat tip to Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project]

New blogspot devoted to Pope Francis


Forbes: Why does Homeland Security need more bullets than would have sustained war in Iraq for 20+ years ... in America?

"1.6 Billion Rounds Of Ammo For Homeland Security? It's Time For A National Conversation" (Forbes, March 11, 2013):
... at the height of the Iraq War the Army was expending less than 6 million rounds a month. Therefore 1.6 billion rounds would be enough to sustain a hot war for 20+ years. In America. (emphasis mine)
It's finally getting a little hard for the mainstream media to ignore this now. It's time for a NATIONAL CONVERSATION indeed.
[Hat tip to A.D., Esq.]

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Preaching and teaching are one thing. But what was it that Marshell McLuhan used to say: "The medium is the message." What would Papa Ratzinger think? What would it mean to pray, in these circumstances, for a St. Thomas à Becket-like transfiguration, I wonder.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: Roberto de Mattei's The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story

Michael J. Miller, who headed the team of translators who prepared the English edition of The Second Vatican Council - An Unwritten Story(Loreto Publications, 2012), has written a review of Mattei's book, "History's View of Vatican II: The Who, What, Where, When, and Why of the Council" (The Catholic World Report, October 12, 2012), which is worth reading:
The famous black-and-white photograph of the Second Vatican Council in session, taken from a high balcony at the back of Saint Peter’s Basilica, shows more than 2,000 Council Fathers standing at their places in slanted stalls that line the nave, with more than a dozen rows on either side. It resembles nothing so much as a gargantuan monastic choir—unless it puts you in mind of the British Parliament with the dimensions quadrupled.

Contemporary perceptions of the Council varied widely, partly because of the extensive media coverage. Although it promulgated a dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Vatican II was not a “constitutional convention.” An ecumenical council can teach about the Church but cannot modify a divine institution, any more than a pope can invent a new doctrine or change one of the Ten Commandments.

In his latest book, The Second Vatican Council - An Unwritten Story(Loreto Publications, 2012), Roberto de Mattei, a historian in Rome, writes: “[Ecumenical] Councils exercise, under and with the Pope, a solemn teaching authority in matters of faith and morals and set themselves up as supreme judges and legislators, insofar as Church law is concerned. The Second Vatican Council did not issue laws, and it did not even deliberate definitively on questions of faith and morals. The lack of dogmatic definitions inevitably started a discussion about the nature of its documents and about how to apply them in the so-called ‘postconciliar period.’”

Professor de Mattei outlines the two main schools of thought in that discussion. The first and more theological approach presupposes an “uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition” and therefore expects the documents of Vatican II to be interpreted in a way consistent with authoritative Church teaching in the past. This is the “hermeneutic of continuity” emphasized by Pope Benedict XVI.

A second, more historical approach advocated by Professor Giuseppe Alberigo and the “School of Bologna” maintains that the Council “was in the first place an historical ‘event’ which, as such, meant an undeniable discontinuity with the past: it raised hopes, started polemics and debates, and in the final analysis inaugurated a new era.” The “event-dimension” of the Council is Exhibit A in making the case for the elusive “spirit of Vatican II” that looks beyond the actual words of the conciliar documents to the momentum that they supposedly generated.

Professor de Mattei counters such tendentiousness by making a clear distinction: “The theologian reads and discusses the documents in their doctrinal import. The historian reconstructs the events…understands occurrences in their cultural and ideological roots and consequences... so as to arrive at an ‘integral’ understanding of the events.”

Drawing on the work of two Catholic historians and the director of a Catholic news service, this article highlights features in the historical background to the Second Vatican Council by asking the basic questions of journalism: who, what, where, when and why.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Another "Tridentine" article in The Michigan Catholic

Robert Delaney, "Tridentine Mass supporters thankful to Pope Benedict" (The Michigan Catholic, March 6, 2013):
DETROIT — Supporters of wider availability of the Tridentine Latin Mass — the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite — hail Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate as a godsend.

“Pope Benedict was the answer to the prayers of many people who prefer the Extraordinary Form. It’s hard to imagine that any other pope could have accomplished as much,” said Alex Begin, who has served as coordinator of the Tridentine Masses offered at a number of churches in Metro Detroit and across the river in Windsor, Ontario.

While a strictly limited availability of the Tridentine Mass became possible under the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, subject to the local bishop’s approval, Pope Benedict not only made it clear that any priest, anywhere, should be able to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form, he also said it ought to be made available for lay people who wish it.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Is 'dialogue' between opposing sides in the 'culture wars' still possible?

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto Church, March 3, 2013), raises a number of questions that made me sit up and take stock. Can members of opposing sides in the current 'Culture Wars' still meaningfully communicate at all? While one cannot discount the role of God's grace, the implications are staggering, for they raise questions about the very possibility of things like the "New Evangelization," which are close to the heart of many in the Church today.

Fr. Perrone addresses what he calls the "ever-growing problem of failure in attempts to dialogue with liberals, that is to say, leftists." Here is what he writes (my emphasis in bold):
You have no doubt noticed the difficulty, even with your relatives of a more freewheeling kind. As our culture (a euphemism here) becomes ever more unmoored from the Christian faith and even from the norms of right reason, we find ourselves confronted by people whose only creed is their own opinion. Discussions with them on topics such as abortion, contraception, cohabitation, assisted suicide and gay marriage on the one hand, and on religion, especially the Catholic Church, on the other, tend to become fruitless exercises, no matter how civil, how irenic the adopted tone. The thought occurs to us, Why can’t they see what’s so obviously reasonable? The problem is this: liberals have now actually got to thinking of themselves as conservatives. In their minds those who uphold moral norms, who pledge adherence to religious faith and Church, these are the dangerous ones, the radicals, while they are traditionalists. You protest this reversal instinctively. The ‘author’ of this grand deception can be none other than the Archdemon, the one our Lord referred to as the Deceiver.

Unless we come to realize that there has been this seismic shift of thought in many minds and thus in culture, efforts to win over those on the opposing side are going to be useless. They will not get it because ‘it’ cannot be comprehended by them. To such persons, it is we who are the radicals, the oppressors, the cause of human suffering, the intolerant ones, the unreasonable, the inhibitors of a happy and free society–we, the religious types, the moralists, who insist on Church, family, marriage, discipline, restraint, received rules and regulations. For liberals, life is whatever they wish it to be, and the meaning of life is determined solely by their passions and desires.

You may recall the early words of Pope Benedict’s pontificate to the effect that there is a growing “dictatorship of relativism” in world consensus. The formation of this new governance over life means that relativism has now the status of dogma. The result is that for liberals this new thinking is the right and ‘traditional’ one, a pragmaticism that’s irrefutable. The only recognized value for them is no value other than the limitless freedom to do anything at all that one pleases and by whatever means will ‘work.’ You say, “It’s like talking to a wall,” referring to your frustrating experience in dealing with such folks. You can’t really talk sense with them precisely because there is no ‘sense,’ that is to say that reasons or truth for them do not make for right. Now that’s a formidable, if not insurmountable problem in trying to ‘dialogue’ or discuss differences with people on the left. It’s a doomed enterprise.

I know this last statement is bleak, hopeless, but I don’t know a way out for such closed minds apart from a special illumination from above. But, come to think of it, there might yet be another way, though I tremble to mention it. The way back to sanity and faith may have to come through suffering. Acute suffering alone may be able to reawaken reason. There is a danger in this, however, that if suffering be not rightly bourne, it may quickly lead to despair–and despair, when complete, leads to self-annihilation. Such is the logical end of meaninglessness leftism.

The culture of death is now entrenched in our politics and we seem poorly able to change it. When people of faith and traditional morality become the enemy of the political powers, we know that we’re in serious trouble. If one asks, What can be done about this? I have no better answer than ask you to pray perseveringly for our country. Certainly it would be ironic for us to despair since that’s the very same final outcome of those committed to the left.

How much we need your rosaries, your holy hours in church, and the witness of your good lives in public. God is not through with us. Neither then should we be hopeless. I wrote for you what is here only to motivate you so much the more to fruitful spiritual action and to try to explain to you why you may have been having such rotten luck in your efforts to evangelize and reason with your wrong-headed friends.
One thing I remember from my debates about "presuppositionalism" back at Westminster many years ago, is the insight that even where epistemological common ground fails with those who do not share our faith, ontological common ground persists insofar as all of us share a common human nature and are created by God in His own image. While that has to count for something, it's slim pickings for 'dialogue.'

The Holy Spirit and fallible Conclave choices

An important post by Roberto de Mattei, "The Holy Ghost and the upcoming Conclave" (Rorate Caeli, March 8, 2013), who discerns the dimensions of the crisis. Excerpts:
Massimo Franco writes in the “Corriere della Sera” of February 27, 2013, that, “inside Vatican City a model of government and a conception of the Papacy is coming to an end” and he compares the difficulties that the Church is going through today to the final phase of the crisis in the Soviet Kremlin. “The decline of the Vatican Empire – he writes – accompanies that of the USA and the European Union [both] in economic and demographic crisis. It shows a model of Papacy and of centralized ecclesiastical government, challenged by a fragmented and decentralized reality.” The crisis of the Vatican Empire is presented as a crisis of a model of Papacy and of ecclesiastical government which is inadequate for the world in the 21st century....

In reality, that which is in crisis is not the “monocratic” government, which conforms to the Tradition of the Church, but the system of government born of the post-conciliar reforms, which in the last fifty years have expropriated the Papacy of its sovereign authority, redistributing the power among the Episcopal Conferences and an omnipotent Secretariat of State....

.... Was it the Holy Ghost Who prompted the election of Alexander VI, a Pope who conducted a profoundly immoral life before and after his election? No theologian, nor any Catholic for that matter, would be able to sustain that the 23 cardinals who elected the Borgia Pope were illuminated by the Holy Ghost. And if it did not happen in that election, you can envision that it did not happen in other elections and conclaves, which saw the election of weak Popes, unworthy and inadequate to their lofty mission, all this without prejudicing in any way the greatness of the Papacy.

The Church is great precisely because She endures the smallness of men. So, an immoral and inadequate Pope can be elected. It can happen that the Cardinals in Conclave refuse the influence of the Holy Ghost and that the Holy Ghost Who assists the Pope in the accomplishment of his mission, be refused. This does not mean that the Holy Ghost is defeated by men and the demon. God, and only God, is capable of drawing good from evil and thus Providence guides every event in history....

.... Each man, each nation, each ecclesiastical assembly, must correspond to Grace, which in order to be efficacious, needs human cooperation. Confronted with this auto-demolition of the Church, which Paul VI spoke of, we cannot remain with our arms folded in a state of pseudo-mystical optimism. We need to pray and act, each one according to their possibilities, so that this crisis is brought to an end and the Church may show visibly that holiness and beauty which She has never lost, and will never lose until the end of time.
Difficult as it may seem, each of us has the burden of bearing his part of the weight of the present challenge facing the Church, by means of prayer, fasting, and any other means at his disposal. One cannot sail on the Titanic and expect the Holy Spirit to save the ship from a collision course with an ice berg. The mystery is that God is sovereign and His purposes cannot be thwarted, yet particular outcomes still depend on our doing our part by conforming to His grace. Let us make a good Lent.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

It's a strange country ...

See disclaimer at bottom
  • ... when smoking Pot is legal and widely accepted, but smoking tobacco is treated like a criminal offense;
  • when you can get arrested for expired tags on your car but not for being in the country illegally;
  • your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more of our money;
  • the Supreme Court of the United States can rule that lower courts cannot display the 10 Commandments in their courtrooms, while sitting in front of a display of the 10 Commandments;
  • children are forcibly removed from parents who appropriately discipline them while children of "underprivileged" drug addicts are left to rot in filth-infested cesspools;
  • working class Americans pay for their own health care (and health care for everyone else), while unmarried women are free to have child after child on the "State's" dime while never being held responsible for their own choices;
  • hard work and success are rewarded with higher taxes and government intrusion, while slothful, lazy behavior is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, and subsidized housing, and free cell phones;
  • the government's plan for getting people back to work is to provide 99 weeks of unemployment checks (to not work);
  • being self-sufficient is considered a threat to the government;
  • politicians think that stripping away the Amendments of the Constitution is really protecting the rights of the people;
  • the rights of the government come before the rights of the individual;
  • parents believe the state is responsible for providing for their children;
  • you can write a post like this just by reading the news headlines;
  • being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you "safe";
  • you have to have your parents' signature to go on a school field trip but not to get an abortion;
  • an 80-year-old woman can be strip-searched by the TSA, but a Muslim woman in a burka is only subject to having her neck and head searched;
  • Using the "N" word is considered "hate speech," but writing and singing songs about raping women and killing cops is considered "art."
Disclaimer -- I do not know where this list originated. I received it in an email. Some of the points obviously require caveats and conditions. For example, it's far from true that everyone receiving federal aid (including every single mother) is slothful or lazy. Yet due to widescale abuse, it is likely the case that there are many cases where there is some truth to the points asserted. The overall tone intended doubtless comes with the following quotation that headed the list in my receiving:
"Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused!" - Author Unknown

Hilarious: Why we need a badass pope

Advisory: This post contains impolite language. If you find such language offensive, stop reading here. I personally found the post as insightful as I found it amusing.

André-Joseph Léonard

James Noel Ward, "Desperately Seeking Conservative Pope" (Taki's Magazine: Cocktails, Countesses & Mental Caviar, February 28, 2013). Exceprts:
Very soon all eyes will turn to Rome and mainstream media will have dissident “Catholics” bloviating away on the boob tube. They will be “very very disappointed” when the cry “Habemus Papam!” is heard and will dejectedly say, “This selection has put the Church back hundreds of years.”

I can’t wait.

The Church is in a state of sloth from suckling on the state’s teat because most Catholic charities around the world are funded by grants, not the faithful. Priests have disappeared from their confessionals and rectories to hang out in louche leather bars. Lawsuits and inner-city decay have bankrupted dioceses around the world. Folks in Europe don’t even pretend the Church exists anymore. So we do not need a black pope, we do not need a pastoral pope, we do not need a friendly pope, and we do not need some smiling old forgettable jackass. We need a son of a bitch pope. We need an unsmiling grumpy old man who says things such as “Get your ass to work on corporal works of mercy or you’ll go to hell” and “Now, therefore, we declare, say, define, and pronounce that for every human creature it is altogether necessary for salvation to be subject to the authority of the Roman pontiff.” If talking-head media libtard gasbags squawk, he can always use the papal form of the old F.U.: “I shall remember you in my intentions at Mass.” (emphasis added)

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Don't believe in mortal sin?

Cardinal Arinze explains the situation to you (from Fr. Tim Finigan, Hermeneutic of Continuity, via Fr. Z, March 2, 1013)

Fr. Z. writes:
I love this guy! He doesn’t mince words.

Card. Arinze (Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni! HURRAY!) dismantles the notion that people can’t really commit a mortal sin unless they do something over and over again with the intent to separate from the God blah blah blah… the so-called “fundamental option” approach to sin.

He lays it down on the line about mortal sin.

By the way, let people who think that there isn’t really anyone in Hell – except maybe Hitler – reflect on the Cardinal’s words about mortal sin. MORTAL sin, right? It kills the like of grace in the soul. No sanctifying grace at the time of death? Then what happens?

When I hear some liberals say that they would like to have a Cardinal from Africa… heh heh… okay! They are pretty much like Card. Arinze when it comes to faith and morals.

John Lamont on Cardinal Koch & SSPX

N.B. -- This is a long, substantial theological analysis and critique. Click on the "Read more >>" link at the bottom to continue reading. (Site manager)

John Lamont, "Cardinal Koch and the SSPX" (Angelus Blog, February 21, 2013):
Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, recently made the following statements about the theological positions of the SSPX:
It is only the group of Lefebvrists that doesn't accept... ecumenical dialogue, relations with the Jews and religious liberty... One must ask how it can present itself as Catholic...

These are central points of the teaching of the Holy Father, and if [there is] a group that does not accept a council and does not accept a teaching, one must ask how they see each other as Catholic... This is the fundamental problem...
Cardinal Koch has also made a broader criticism of traditionalists as a whole:
The progressives profess a hermeneutics of discontinuity and break. The traditionalists profess a hermeneutics of pure continuity: only that which is already noticeable in the Tradition can be Catholic doctrine, therefore, practically, there cannot be a renewal.
These criticisms of traditionalists are often made. Cardinal Koch’s high curial post, and the fact that he was one of the members of the Vatican committee that ruled that the Society’s proposed doctrinal preamble was unacceptable, makes it desirable to offer a response to them. As a traditionalist and a theologian myself, although not one affiliated with the SSPX, I will attempt to do so.

We can distinguish three main criticisms in his remarks:

a) the criticism that the SSPX is not Catholic because it does not accept the Second Vatican Council and the teachings of the current pope,

b) the criticism that traditionalists accept a false ‘hermeneutics of pure continuity’, and

c) the criticism that it is only the SSPX that does not accept ecumenical dialogue, relations with the Jews, and religious liberty.

The expressions ‘ecumenical dialogue’, ‘relations with the Jews’, and ‘religious liberty’ are rather vague in themselves, but in the context it is clear that Cardinal Koch is using these expressions in the sense in which the SSPX denies that they are true.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Benedict XVI's frightening vision of the Church's future

In May of 2010, the Holy Father went to Portugal and visited Fatima. As John L. Allen, Jr. then reported in the liberal National Catholic Reporter (May 11, 2010), the Pope en route to Portugal "called the reality of the sexual abuse crisis “terrifying” and said that the greatest persecution of the church comes not from external attacks but from sin within the church."

When asked what meaning the apparitions of Fatima have for us today, Benedict XVI replied [here I cite a different translation of the Pope's words than Allen's]:
Beyond this great vision of the suffering of the Pope ... are indicated future realities of the Church which are little by little developing and revealing themselves.... Thus it is true beyond the moment indicated in the vision, it is spoken, it is seen, the necessity of a passion of the Church that naturally is reflected in the person of the Pope; but the Pope is in the Church, and therefore the sufferings of the Church are what is announced...

As for the novelty that we can discover today in this message, it is that attacks on the Pope and the Church do not come only from outside, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from sins that exist in the Church. This has always been known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from enemies outside, but arises from sin in the Church. (emphasis added in original quote)