Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Archibald MacLeish on a dying world

That we are at the end of an era is not something that can be proved scientifically. One senses it or one does not. One knows by intuition that the old images, as Archibald MacLeish [pictured right] says in The Metaphor, have lost their meaning.
A world ends when its metaphor has died.

An age becomes an age, all else beside,
When sensuous poets in their pride invent
Emblems for the soul's consent
That speak the meanings men will never know
But man-imagined images can show:
It perishes when those images, though seen,
No longer mean.
[From The Metaphor by Archibald MacLeish, courtesy of Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983), p. v.]

A lot better than my CCD class

"I no longer have a child of school age, but many of you do. You no doubt want to have your offspring know the three Rs but also the fourth: religion. And how do you accomplish that?

"I attended public schools, which meant we were packed off to CCD classes one evening a week. The acronym stands for Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, but it could have stood for Catholic Children Daydreaming. That's how boring it seemed, and the result was that that was the last religious instruction many of my peers had.

"So what to do for your kids? You might want to take a look at an online program called CatechismClass.com. It is for kids through twelfth grade, though I suspect not a few adults would find it a good refresher. The entire program is given over the computer at the student's own pace. I've taken a look at the site, and it certainly looks to be a step up (a very big step up) from the CCD classes I took."
"The web address is http://www.catechismclass.com"

~ Karl Keating, in Karl Keating's E-Letter (Tues., 8/31/04)

Chesterton: "Most Americans are born drunk ..."

"Most Americans are born drunk, and really require a little wine or beer to sober them. They have a sort of permanent intoxication from within, a sort of invisible champagne. Americans do not need to drink to inspire them to do anything, though they do sometimes, I think, need a little for the deeper and more delicate purpose of teaching them how to do nothing."

~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

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Fr. Louis Bouyer on the New Mass

Fr. Louis Bouyer (1903- ), a former Lutheran pastor who converted to the Catholic Faith and went on to become a leading Catholic theologian, liturgical historian, and author of the acclaimed classic, Eucharist: Theology and Spirituality of the Eucharistic Prayer (pictured left), was initially invited to participate in the project of reforming the liturgy as mandated by the Second Vatican Council. Soon he became alarmed, however, that those involved in the project were recklessly exceeding the Council's mandate by imposing a radical liturgical experiment upon Roman Rite Catholics under the pontificate of Pope Paul VI. He observed:
"... the Catholic liturgy has been overthrown under the pretext of rendering it more compatible with the contemporary outlook ..." [Fr. Louis Bouyer, Religieux et clercs contre Dieu (Paris, 1975), p. 12.]

"The Roman Canon, as it is today, goes back to Gregory the Great. There is not, in the East or in the West a Eucharistic prayer remaining in use to this day, that can boast of such antiquity. In the eyes not only of the Orthodox, but of Anglicans and even those Protestants who have still to some extent, a feeling for tradition, to jettison it would be a rejection of any claim on the part of the Roman Church to represent the true Catholic Church....

"Unless we are blind, we must even state bluntly that what we see looks less like the hoped-for regeneration of Catholicism than its accelerated decomposition."
[Fr. Louis Bouyer, The Decomposition of Catholicism (Franciscan Herald Press, 1969), p. 3]
Bouyer is also well-known for his book, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, a book appreciative of his Protestant background, but arguing that the positive insights of Protestantism can only be realized provided they are grounded in the living tradition and magisterial authority of the Catholic Church.

Price of Kerry's book drops further

The Amazon.com price for a used copy of John Kerry's Vietnam book, THE NEW SOLDIER, which he has forbidden his publisher to reprint, was $2,475.00 last Friday (see my report). Yesterday it fell to $899.00. Today it is going for $699.00. Perhaps people are catching wind of the fact that the whole thing is available online.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Allen Keyes on same-sex "marriage"

Benjamin Blosser of Ad Limina Apostolorum posted the following entry last Friday (August 27, 2004), which I quote in full: "Good, faithful, and conservative friends of mine have written off [Allen] Keyes (pictured left) as a political vigilante, a moral demagogue, and utterly unelectable. Perhaps there's some truth there. But he seems to be the only one in the Republican Party who has the capacity to intellectually and substantively reflect upon the issues involved, and the philosophical bases of the conclusions he has come to, rather than fumbling through a 'policy-by-the-polls' approach or a crude reactionism. Listen to him weigh in on homosexual marriage:
"When you talk about those rights endowed by God and you talk about issues of affirmative action or any other issues, one of the core principles as it relates to the notions of natural law is the idea, as you well know, that you cannot be judged for those things which you are powerless to affect - gender, race and so on. If, in fact, as some scientific studies suggest, that being homosexual is, in fact, biologically determined, what then would be wrong with granting rights, and even the right to marry?"

"First, no study has made such a determination. . . . And I say that unequivocally. I've looked at the question many times. Second, we are all in a certain sense genetically and biologically predisposed to a kind of sexual promiscuity. We want to engage and indulge our sexual appetites in ways that have no respect for basic human requirements, conventions, family responsibilities and so forth. That's not just true of homosexual people. That's true of heterosexual people. Healthy, red-blooded males who are sexually attracted to every attractive woman they see, and vice versa.'"

"We as human beings cannot assert that our sexual drive is uncontrollable. If we do, civilization is ended. These are not things we can't control. Our passions are precisely subject to our moral will and our rationality. That's what makes us human. So if you're going to tell me that the sexual impulse of anybody -- not just homosexuals -- is uncontrollable and you've got to do it, then you have removed us from the realm of human moral choice and you have consigned us to the realm of instinctive necessity and animal nature. And we are not there. I will not deny our humanity."

"So I think that in this area as in all the areas of passion: our anger, our greed, our resentment, our jealousy -- these are all passions that can be very strong in us but which we know must be disciplined and regulated by our moral will for the sake of conscience and human community. And we have to expect that of one another. Do you realize that the very idea of freedom and self-government is absurd if we are, in fact, subject to uncontrollable passions? Then we're not free. We're slaves to our passions. But that's not so. We believe in this country, in liberty, in . . . true moral choice. And that moral choice is possible with respect to sexual action to such a degree you don't even have to engage in sexual activity. You can refrain from it altogether, if you think that is required by the dictates of moral conscience. And that capacity shouldn't be denied in any human being. And I don't think it's a question of homosexual or heterosexual. It's a question of humanity."
I mean, come on, the man talks like he's reading from a Thomistic manual on moral theology. (Courtesy of My Domestic Church.)"

Padre Pio, "Obi Wan Kenobi" on the New Mass

The late, great Sir Alec Guinness (1914-2000) (pictured right), who played Obi Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars cinematic trilogy, always reminded me of the recently canonized Catholic saint and stigmatist, St. Padre Pio (1918-1968) (pictured left), famous for his miraculous discernment of the hearts of those who came to him for Confession from all over Italy during his lifetime. Though Guinness was English and outlived the Italian Padre Pio by thirty-two years, the two were contemporaries for most of their lives and shared not only a profound devotion to their Catholic Faith, but a profound devotion to the traditional Latin Mass of the Roman Rite.

When Padre Pio, even before the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, heard that a New Mass (Novus Ordo) was being prepared, he immediately wrote to Pope Paul VI requesting that he be dispensed from the liturgical experiment and permitted to continue celebrating the Mass according to the traditional rite of St. Pius V. When Cardinal Bacci came to bring him the authorization, he heard Padre Pio mutter, "For pity sake, end the Council quickly!" Padre Pio's response to the conciliar euphoria and promise of a "new springtime in the Church," was to declare: "In this time of darkness, let us pray. Let us do penance for the elect." ("Padre Pio: on Spirituality, Vatican II, and the Novus Ordo Missae")

The deeply private Sir Alec Guinness (a convert to Catholicism), for his part, went on record to say:
"Much water has flown under the Tiber's bridges, carrying away splendor and mystery from Rome since the Pontificate of Pius XII.... [T]he banalities and translations which have ousted the sonerous Latin and Greek are of a supermarket quality which is quite unacceptable. Hand shaking and embarrassed smiles or smirks have replaced the older courtesies: kneeling is out, queuing is in, and the general tone is like BBC radio broadcast for tiny tots...." (Joseph Pearce, Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000].)

Price of Kerry's book drops

The Amazon.com price for a used copy of John Kerry's Vietnam book that he has forbidden his publisher to reprint has dropped from $2,475.00 (as I reported last Friday) to $899.00 today. Evidently a couple more used copies have been discovered and submitted for sale, deflating the original price.

Imagine forgetting what sex is!

Imagine something as absurd as this: a whole generation that has forgotten what sex is, a whole generation that has forgotten what penises and vaginas are for! This is essentially the thesis of Christopher West's book (pictured left), Good News About Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions About Catholic Teaching. And where does West go for his information about the true meaning of sex? To the writings of Pope John Paul II -- What could seem more absurd! What could a celibate old man who's never had sex tell this generation of sexually active, horny kids about sex! The surprising thing, though, is the Pope has written so much about sex, huge volumes with titles like The Theology of the Body, as well as phenomenological analyses of the sexual urge in volumes like Love and Responsibility, and much, much more.

Why should anyone today pay any attention to this stuff? First of all, take an inventory of your own experience. If you're into "recreational sex," ask yourself just how fulfilling you find your relationships. Girls trade sexual favors in exchange for what they hope will be love. Guys trade the expectation of a long-term relationship for short-term sexual favors. Just how satisfying is that in the long run? I knew a young woman at Lenoir-Rhyne College who was sleeping around with nine guys, and that was when she was already engaged to marry another guy, also a Lenoir-Rhyne College student. One of the other guys having sex with this girl was a fraternity brother of the guy she was engaged to marry. Is it any wonder that student relationships become miserable and tortured with guilt, resentment, and recriminations? Is it any wonder that one out of two marriages ends in divorce? Who understands what 'marriage' is anymore anyway?

Second, if you're married, ask yourself how fulfilling your sex life and love life are. You've heard all the jokes: "Question: How do you paralyze a woman from the waist down? Answer: Marry her." Why the proverbial "headaches" that wives get? There are reasons for all of these things. Men easily divorce sex from love and tend to focus on performance with the aim of personal satisfaction. I know of a guy, in fact, who says that the only 'meaning' in life, as far as he is concerned, is packed into the experience of explosive sex -- surfing that cusp of arousal just on the edge of orgasm for as long a possible, perhaps for an hour, and then plunging into explosive ejaculations and cuming like a rapist -- with a different woman every night. And this guy is supposedly 'married'! Women naturally feel used when approached by men in this manner. Men will sometimes talk about "getting lucky" at home. Women will sometimes use sexual favors within marriage to get what they want. But either way, they're just using one another, and they're missing the most wonderful, exciting, fulfilling thing in the world as far as sex and love are concerned. And they don't have the first clue to the meaning and power of sex as it was meant to be -- harnessed to genuine love.

But none of this will mean anything to you until you begin to re-educate yourself and re-program your instincts. People today are sometime accused of being sex-obsessed, of thinking always and only about sex and nothing but sex. The truth, however, is that people don't think enough about sex: they no longer respect it, because they no longer understand it, and so they don't even know how to begin thinking about it as it was meant to be.

Christopher West offers an easily accessible introduction to the sexual dysfunction suffered by most of us today, and to the solutions that lie close at hand -- not easy solutions, but clear solutions that require the cultivation of new habits and disciplines, which can slowly but surely begin the process of healing and mending our souls that have been disintegrated by destructive habits foisted upon us by the illusions of contemporary society. Lust must be overcome by genuine love. Sex must be harnessed to the integrating power of genuine love. What any of this means, though, will not be immediately apparent in a society where commercial advertizements approaches soft porn, and where masturbation, recreational sex, and unbridled sexual experimentation are accepted as 'natural' and 'healthy.' Things are not what they seem.

For starters, I recommend chapters 1, 4 & 5 of West's book. Beyond that, you can read more online here. Finally, here is a prayer by Christopher West:
"This is a woman [man] in the image and likeness of God, never to be looked upon as an object for my gratification. Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to see the image of your glory in the beauty of this woman [man], and order my sexual desires toward the truth of love. I renounce any tendency within me to use others for my own pleasure, and I unite my sufferings with yours on the cross. Amen." (Christopher West, Good News About Sex and Marriage, p. 83)

Friday, August 27, 2004

Kerry's Vietnam book, which he doesn't want you to see

The picture to the left is the ORIGINAL cover of John Kerry's book THE NEW SOLDIER. John Kerry's friends, the so called Vietnam Veterans Against the War were mocking the famous Iwo Jima scene photographed during the Second World War (notice the inverted flag). 6,825 American boys died in WWII to plant that flag on Iwo Jima. Kerry wrote THE NEW SOLDIER soon after returning from Vietnam. The book is out of print. Kerry will not allow the publisher to reprint it. There's is one used copy of the book available at Amazon.com going for $2,475.00. But you can read the whole book online, complete with pictures, for free here. To make an informed decision on November 2nd, you need to have all the facts.

In the Epilogue to THE NEW SOLDIER, Kerry writes:
"And so a New Soldier has returned to America, to a nation torn apart by the killing we were asked to do. But, unlike veterans of other wars and some of this one, the New Soldier does not accept the old myths. We will not quickly join those who march on Veteran's Day waving small flags, calling to memory those thousands who died for the 'greater glory of the United States'.... We will not readily join the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.... We will not uphold traditions which decorously memorialize that which was base and grim...."

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Ratzinger on protestantizing liturgists and their repudiation of Trent

Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger, edited by Alcuin Reid, OSB (Farnborough, Hampshire, UK: St. Michael's Abbey Press, 2003) offers many revealing insights into Cardinal Ratzinger's views on the contemporary liturgical scene. Some of his remarks are startling in their implications. For example, commenting on the views of the liturgical revisionists during and after the Second Vatican Council, he remarks:
"A sizeable party of Catholic liturgists seems to have practically arrived at the conclusion that Luther, rather than Trent, was substantially right in the sixteenth century debate.... [O]ne can detect much the same position in the post-conciliar discussions on the priesthood."
Again, he refers to theologians who share Luther's opinion that it is "the most appalling horror and damnable impiety to speak of the sacrifice of the Mass," and remarks:
"It is only against this background of the effective denial of the authority of Trent, that the bitterness of the struggle against allowing the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, after the liturgical reform, can be understood. The possibility of so celebrating constitutes the most intolerable contradiction of the opinion of those who believe that the faith in the Eucharist formulated by Trent has lost its value."
Again, Ratzinger observes:
"The serious nature of these theories comes from the fact that frequently they pass immediately into practice. The thesis according to which it is the community itself which is the subject of the liturgy, serves as an authorization to manipulate the liturgy according to each individual's understanding of it. So-called new discoveries and the forms which follow from them, are diffused with an astonishing rapidity and with a degree of conformity which has long ceased to exist where the norms of ecclesiastical authority are concerned. Theories, in the area of the liturgy, are transformed rapidly today into practice, and practice, in turn, creates or destroys ways of behaving and thinking.

"...Trent did not make a mistake; it leant for support on the solid foundation of the Tradition of the Church. It remains a trustworthy standard.

"One thing should be clear: the liturgy must not be a terrain for experimenting with theological hypotheses. Too rapidly, in these last decades, the ideas of experts have entered into liturgical practice, often also bypassing ecclesiastical authority, through the channel of commissions which have been able to diffuse at an international level their 'consensus of the moment,' and practically turn it into laws for liturgical activity. The liturgy derives its greatness from what it is, not from what we make of it. Our participation is, off course, necessary, but as a means of inserting ourselves humbly into the spirit of the liturgy, and of serving Him Who is the true subject of the liturgy: Jesus Christ. The liturgy is not an expression of the consciousness of the community which, in any case, is diffuse and changing. It is revelation received in faith and prayer, and its measure is consequently the faith of the Church, in which revelation is received."
Read more below:
  • "The Novus Ordo: a workshop of perpetual innovation?" (click here)
  • "Vatican II should not have ignored Pius XII's Mediator Dei" (click here)
  • "Where art thou, O liturgical beauty and holiness?" (click here)
  • "On the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum and the institutionalization of abuses in the Novus Ordo" (click here)

Questions the press should ask Senator Kerry

Peter Kirsanow has an article entitled "Media-Ready Crib Sheet: Twenty Questions for John Kerry" (National Review Online, August 26, 2004). He writes:
"Senator Kerry has been pretty successfully avoiding the media, but sometime between now and November 2 he'll have to sit down for a far-ranging interview on a program other than The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Thus far, most Kerry interviews have been less-than-penetrating (one recent poll even indicates that nearly a third of the electorate knows very little about John Kerry) and certainly not hostile (in comparison, see, among other things, President Bush's press conference of last spring). Bill Clinton was subjected to far-greater scrutiny by this time in the 1992 election cycle. Kerry's legendary policy flip-flops as well as his campaign's shifting stories related to the current controversy compel questioning at least as tough as that directed at Kerry's critics."
Check out Kirsanow's questions. Dynamite!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Yoder family nicknames

Some of my readers will know the progeny of Dr. J. Larry Yoder and his wife Marianne. I refer, of course, to their three sons, Nathan, Joshua, and David, all now graduates of Lenoir-Rhyne College. If, on one occasion or another, we were to hear them refer to one another, respectively, as "Narcus," "Oshi," or "Shrava," we might wonder what on earth they meant. These are all abbreviated forms of terms of endearment that evolved in the usage of their father during their childhood. Why they took these particular forms, don't ask me (though their father, Dr. Larry Yoder may be willing to tell you if you're really nice to him). The Yoder boys' childhood names in their entirety, I have learned, are as follows:
  • Nathan Yoder was "Ninga-Nooga-Nathan-Narcus-de Barfasoi."
  • Joshua Yoder was known as "Oshi-nazzer-fenuzzer-poo."
  • David Yoder was "Dava-shrava-octarava-inga-stinga-woo."
So if you happen across Nathan Yoder, who is teaching two ethics courses this fall at Lenoir-Rhyne College, you just might say to him "Hello Professor Narcus," and just see what happens. Or, if you run across Joshua Yoder, currently working for the Hickory Daily Record, you might just try greeting him with a friendly "Hey there, Oshi!" Or, if you value your life, you might just forget I ever told you this.

Novus Ordo: a workshop of perpetual innovation?

Fr. Joseph Gelineau (pictured left), who has been described by Archbishop Annibale Bugnini (the revisionist chief architect of the Novus Ordo) as one of the "great masters of the international liturgical world" following the Second Vatican Council, testifies to the fact that the liturgical revolution following the Council went far beyond what the Council Fathers intended, when he wrote:
"It would be false to identify this liturgical renewal with the reform of rites decided on by Vatican II. This reform goes back much further and goes forward far beyond the conciliar prescriptions. The liturgy is a permanent workshop." (Demain la Liturgie, p. 10, n. 18, emphasis added)
This is the same Gelineau, it may be recalled, who, without a shred of regret, declared: "the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed." (Op cit., pp. 9-10)

Cardinal Ratzinger, though animated by radically different, non-revisionist sympathies, draws quite similar conclusions:
"Today we might ask: Is there a Latin Rite anymore? Certainly there is no awareness of it. To most people the liturgy appears to be rather something for the individual congregation to arrange." (Feast of Faith, p. 84)

Vatican II should not have ignored Pius XII's Mediator Dei

Pius XII's magnificent encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy, Mediator Dei, was acclaimed as the magna charta of the liturgical movement when it appeared in 1947, according to Fr. John W. Mole, O.M.I. (Whither the Roman Rite? p. 32). Yet, for whatever reason, the Fathers of Vatican II apparentely did not mention this encyclical even once in their Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. This is particularly odd, given the fact that Pius II's encyclical contains important warnings against precisely the kinds of abuses that would follow in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.

Take, for example, the argument used to justify many of the changes introduced since the Council -- the argument that by standing instead of kneeling during the Eucharistic prayers, or by receiving Communion in the hand instead of on the tongue, the modern liturgical architects, far from introducing harmful innovations, were simply restoring ancient customs from the early Church. Here is what Pius XII had to say about the matter in Mediator Dei:
"The liturgy of early ages is worthy of veneration; but an ancient custom is not to be considered better, either in itself or in relation to later times and circumstances, just because it has the flavor of antiquity. More recent liturgical rites are also worthy of reverence and respect, because they too have been introduced under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, who is with the Church in all ages unto the consummation of the world. These too are means which the august Bride of Christ uses to stimulate and foster the holiness of men.... The desire to restore everything indiscriminately to its ancient condition is neither wise nor praiseworthy. It would be wrong, for example, to want the altar restored to its ancient form of table; to want black eliminated from liturgical colors, and pictures and statues eliminated from our churches, to require cruicifixes that do not represent the bitter sufferings of the divine Redeemer; to condemn polyphonic chants, even though they conform to the regulations of the Apostolic See.... This attitude is an attempt to revive the 'archaeologism' to which the pseudo-Synod of Pistoia (1794) gave rise; it seeks also to re-introduce the many pernicious errors which led to the synod and resulted from it, and which the Church in her capacity of watchful guardina of 'the deposit of faith' entrusted ito her by her divine Founder has rightly condemned. It is a wicked movement, that tends to paralyze the sanctifying and salutary action by which the liturgy leads the children of adoption on the path to their heavenly Father.... See that your flocks are not deceived ... by a mania for restoring primitive usages in the liturgy." (emphasis added)

Monday, August 23, 2004

Where art thou, O liturgical beauty and holiness?

Some Catholics disgruntled with the new (1970) Catholic Mass look longlingly toward "Anglican Use" parishes where a revised, Catholic version of the Cranmer-Coverdale liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer is permitted. Granted, these liturgies preserve the beauty and decorum of the older (Tridentine) Catholic Mass; yet English, Welsh & Irish Catholics chose martyrdom rather than accept this Anglican liturgy. Does that make the new (Novus Ordo) Catholic Mass better? Yes and no. The answer lies in a careful analysis of what Cardinal Ratzinger has to say about the disjunctive relationship between the traditional (Tridentine) and new (Novus Ordo) Catholic rites. Read more ...

Friday, August 20, 2004

On the institutionalization of abuse in the Novus Ordo Mass

On April 23, 2004, the Vatican released its latest Instruction on the Eucharist, Redemptionis Sacramentum, an Instruction on certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist. The Adoremus Bulletin, which reprinted the entire Instruction in it's Special Documentary Edition of July-August, 2004, called it "unprecedented and highly important." My question, however, is whether we have not reached a point of such gaping discrepancies between word and deed that it must be asked seriously whether any such instruction from the Vatican can be taken seriously. When abuses themselves have come to seem so normal that they have been accepted, and when the accepted has been taken to be acceptable, then that which is inherently defective -- viz., abuse -- has become institutinalized. This is what I take to have happened as a fait accompli in the Novus Ordo Mass.

I offer an extended analysis (here) of several abuses, including the illicit use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (an abuse addressed in Redemptionis Sacramentum), Communion in the hand, etc. More importantly, I point out how the seemingly benign nature of these abuses conceals a larger and much more serious problem in the nature of the Novus Ordo Mass itself -- a problem that can only be addressed by examining features of its development. Read more ...

The NCR attack on Deal Hudson

Yesterday (Aug. 19, 2004) the left-wing National Catholic Reporter (NCR) published an article by the appropriately named Joe Feuerherd (Ger.="fire stove") digging up a combustable cocktail of facts about an embarrassing incident from the pre-conversion personal life of Catholic convert Deal Hudson (pictured left). The article, entitled "The Real Deal," is clearly animated by animosity against Hudson, who has become one of the most influential Catholic laymen in Washington, DC, and served on the Republican Natinal Committee promoting the re-election of President George W. Bush. What has been particularly offensive to the left-leaning NRC has been Hudson's incisive public criticism and expose of the hypocrisy of Senator John Kerry's claim to be "the Catholic candidate" in this election while openly defying the Catholic Church in his support for abortion, among other things. The Vatican has issued directives against allowing public figures to receive Communion if they do not publicly renounce their support for abortion and other positions condemned by the Church as immoral. NCR represents the dissinting wing of Catholics in the United States who renounce various moral teachings of the Church and would like very much to see a fellow-dissident like Kerry elected president. Meanwhile, Hudson, anticipating NCR's attack on him issued a pre-emptive response in National Review Online on August 18, 2004, entitled "The Price of Politics: Getting ahead of a potential distraction."

Deal Hudson admits his past misdeeds in his article, as he does in his autobiography, An American Conversion. Like John Kerry, Deal Hudson is a sinner and admits it. But unlike John Kerry, Hudson has renounced what the Church condemns as sinful and embraced the good which his Church enjoins upon us. Meanwhile John Kerry wants to be able to step into the Communion line without renouncing his public support for abortion rights, gay rights, etc. As Peter Kreeft once said, in the final analysis there are only two kinds of people in the world: saints who know they are sinners, and sinners who think they are saints.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Former Kerry lover plans book

An article by Lloyd Grove entitled "Presidential Potboiler" in Daily News reports that the woman who says she dated Sen. John Kerry for 20 months in the early 1990s - former Harvard graduate student Lee Whitnum - says she has written an autobiographical novel in which a Kerry-like character tries to become President. She has also launched her own website with a "John Kerry Scrapbook" (though it was temporarily disabled as of this posting). See the latest from BBC: "Kerry 'ex-flame' in web backlash."

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ad orientem / versus populum

Christopher M. Cullen and Joseph W. Koterski offer a fascinating dissent from the prevailing view that the New General Instruction to the Roman Missal suggests that Mass should be celebrated versus populum "whenever possible" in their article entitled, "The new IGMR and Mass versus populum," Homiletic & Pastoral Review (June 2001).

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Einstein: only the Church defended the truth

Photo of Albert EinsteinA little-known statement from Time magazine (Dec. 23, 1940) attests to Albert Einstein's respect for the Catholic Church's uncompromising stand on freedom and moral freedom during the Nazi maelstrom of the Second World War era:
Being a lover of freedom, when the [Nazi] revolu-tion came to Germany, I looked to the univer-sities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the news-papers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks....Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly." (emphasis added)

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Where do Roman Rite Catholics worship?

I've just finished reading Whither the Roman Rite? by John W. Mole, O.M.I., an English priest charged by his Archbishop to serve the international Latin Mass community in Ottowa, Canada (review by David Joyce here). I have to confess that I was surprised by how much I learned from this book, including the fact that the Roman Rite Mass is the oldest of all the rites in Christendom, including the Eastern rites, such as the Divine Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. While commonly called the "Tridentine Rite," after the codification mandated by the Council of Trent and promulgated by Pope St. Pius V in 1570, the Roman Rite actually has a history that is virtually seamless back to the codification of Pope St. Gregory the Great (AD 590-604), and substantially back even further to liturgical books containing the Roman Canon of the Mass dating from the 4th century. Thus, of all the liturgical rites existing within Catholic tradition -- the Ukrainian, Melkite, Syrian, Armenian, Coptic, Chaldean, Byzantine, Ambrosian, Gallican, Mozarabic, etc. -- the oldest is the Roman Rite. The question, then, is: Where do Roman Rite Catholics worship? They've got to find an "indult" Mass somewhere, if they can find a diocese where the bishop is willing to give his permission. Ironic isn't it. It reminds me of the celebrations of "diversity" and "inclusiveness" that we witness at every turn, which is inclusive of everything but traditional family values, Judeo-Christian morals, the classic Western canon of literature in lit crit circles, the culture of DWEM's (Dead White European Males), Christianity, Catholic tradition, or, particularly in this case, the tradition of the Roman Rite.

Annibale BugniniThe irony is that the "replacement" of the Roman Rite is nowhere envisioned by Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II document entitled, "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy). The Novus Ordo Missae, the New Mass, which was essentially the work of the radical liturgical revision-ist, Annibale Bugnini (pictured left), who masterminded it's "replacement" of the Roman Rite -- something, again, nowhere envisioned, let alone mandated, by Vatican II. What Vatican II calls for is the "reform" of the Roman Rite, which assumes both its continued existence and its reform, not a "replacement" of it, which is what we have in the Novus Ordo.

This means, as Mole points out, that the liturgical movement in the Western Church today divides into three branches today: 1) the Ecclesia Dei , founded in 1964 for the preservation of the Roman Rite, and reconstituted in 1988 by the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei which Pope John Paul II issued that year; 2) the Sacrosanctum Concilium, based on the provisions of that document for the reform of the Roman Rite, represented by such movements as the Adoremus Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, and 3) the Novus Ordo, which was nowhere envisioned by Vatican II, but has become, since Pope Paul VI's controversial promulgation of the New Mass in 1970, a de facto movement in view of establishing a new rite (one cannot call the Novus Ordo an established rite since there is little about it that is established, as attested by the continual ongoing tinkering with aspects of the liturgy, and ongoing debates about extraordinary eucharistic ministers, female altar servers, standing vs. kneeling during the eucharistic prayers, etc.).

It is also of note that, while the Concilium (the predecessor of the current Congregation for Divine Worship) precipitously plunged ahead with its plans for the Novus Ordo, all three Cardinal Prefects of Faith (Cardinals Alfredo Ottaviani, Francis Seper, and Joseph Ratzinger) have expressed profound reservations and disapproval of the way the Pauline "reform" (the Novus Ordo) has been carried out. Cardinal Ratzinger (pictured left) describes himself as "thunderstruck" by the promulgation of Paul VI's Missal in 1970. "Nothing similar has ever happened in the entire history of the liturgy," he declared. The revision of the Roman Rite mandated by Sacrosanctum Concilium was, in Mole's words: "consigned to oblivion by an onrush of extremely radical change inititated by a worldwide complex of national and supranational liturgical bodies. At its apex was teh Roman Consilium, headed by Annibale Bugnini, the bureaucratic genius whom the Pope had made the chief artisan of his reform. This vast establishment ... engaged in a deluge of utterly unprecedented change, all of which was foisted on the faithful under the false pretext that it was sanctioned by Vatican II." (p. 72) Ratzinger's reaction appears in his autobiography, published in German in 1996. An Italian version appeared the following year unter the title La mia vita. The ominous phrase, "damni estremamente gravi" ("extremely grave damage") leaps out on p. 112, in the chapter covering the years 1969-1976, when he occupied a chair of theology in Regensburg. Ratzinger's concern is that Bugnini's Novus Ordo has created a "rupture" in liturgical tradition, causing grave damage to the faithful. He concludes that it is "dramatically urgent" that there be a reawakening of consciousness in the Church to the true nature of the liturgy and of its historical unity and unbroken continuity throughout the ages. There must be a disposition, in his words, "to perceive Vatican II not as a rupture but as a moment of evolution." (La Mia Vita, p. 112)

[See also The Roman Rite: Voice of the Traditional Mass Movement in Canada, edited by Fr. John Mole; excerpts from the Introduction to Fr. Mole's Whither the Roman Rite? here; and his analysis of the "Assult on the Roman Rite" at Catholic.net]

Former ELCA Bishop McDaniel on the state of the ELCA

Christopher Blosser (Against the Grain) wrote me a number of months ago about an article by the former bishop of the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the late Rev. Michael C.D. McDaniel, who, after his term as bishop, taught at Lenoir-Rhyne College until his retirement. McDaniel was a closer personal friend of the former Catholic bishop of Charlotte, the Most Reverend John F. Donoghue. He had been actively involved in ecumenical ventures with the Roman Catholic Church, helping draft the "North Carolina Lutheran-Catholic Covenant," establishing the annual Aquinas-Luther Conference hosted by his Center for Theology at the college, and periodically entertaining thoughts of converting to Catholicism. But what is particularly noteworthy is McDaniel's blistering critique of his own denomination, the ELCA, in his article, "ELCA Journeys: Personal Reflections on the Last Forty Years" in Concordia Theological Quarterly (2001), published shortly before his death. Here are some excerpts:
You are surely aware that the ELCA has been taken over by the very people our parents warned us not to play with when we were little. It is only now that the majority of our members are beginning, slowly and reluctantly, to realize that the persons writing our literature and direction our programs are hijackers, and that this church, once so dear, so wonderful, so shining with grace and glory, is way off course. As more and more people awaken to this fact, there are increasing distresses and demands that the leaders faithfully lead. (p. 105 pdf.)

... The prayer of Jesus in John 17 that we might be one "as He and the Father are one" is not a mandate for mindless coziness. However "good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity," we must not sacrifice God's truth on an altar of unity.

In these recent [ecumenical] negotiations, two structural flaws and abuses in the ELCA have become painfully evident: 1) the ideological principle of "diversity" or "inclusivity," which rapidly became a greater force in decision-making than either the law or the gospel; and 2) the operational principle of coercive power -- for example, the notorious quota system.

A dramatic result of this tampering with Scripture occurred when the Denver assembly of the ELCA voted to commit our church to an Anglican episcopacy. The assembly consisted of 60 percent laity, chosen because they fulfilled categories. They had neither a proper call to exercise theological leadership, nor any theological training. Yet, this aggregate was given authority to alter the doctrines of the church - and they did so! This is clearly a perversion of the concept of the priesthood of all believers and a mockery of Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession.

Further abuses were incorporated into the structure of the ELCA -- a disparagement or even denigration of authority (biblical, confessional, ministerial, and liturgical) appearing in various forms.... (p. 106, pdf.)

It is not just confessional laxity that troubles most of us. Repentance and contrition are rarely lifted up, and personal discipleship in prayer, Bible reading, and obedience to the Commandments receive insufficient attention when they are not openly scorned.

The reopening of fundamental moral questions, especially in areas of sexuality, constitutes a direct attack on Christian morality and invalidates the efforts of Christian people faithfully to keep the Commandments of God. That the reopening of such questions has been led by members of the hierarchy and program staff of the church only deepens the offense. The capitulation of church leadership to the relativism of the late twentieth century has scandalized the church.

To put human sexual gratification above the Commandments of God and the clear teaching of Scripture is simply unthinkable; yet, without any ELCA leader to say a clear "no," there is a continuing push for the ordination of homosexuals and the blessing of homosexual liaisons as if they were marriages. Furthermore, as long as the ELCA health insurance program covers abortions, a percentage of each Sunday's offering presented before the altar of the Lord is going to finance murder.

In view of these an other matters in which the ELCA bows to the paganizing of the church, we must ask whether this ELCA that we are so benevolently offering to share with other denominations any longer qualifies as bona fide Lutheranism. Indeed, is it a Christian church?

What on earth went wrong? What was the culprit when so full of hope and joy, we gathered a larger body together in this new church? Was the culprit "quotas"? The denigration of authority? Faithless leaders?

The culprit, of course, is Satan, for still today he is sarcastically asking, as he did in the Garden, "did God say ... ?" Undermining God's word is his primary line of attack, and succumbing to such temptation our gravest sin. For when we begin to waver in our trust of the word, we forget to worship Him. And there, cold and dead, our hearts stop, and no longer leap up with joy and thanksgiving.

At the heart of every difficulty in the ELCA, at the heart of all the differences between the ELCA and the [more conservative Missouri Synod Lutheran Church], is the question of the authority and reliability of the Word of God. (p. 107, pdf.)
Excerpted from Michael C.D. McDaniel,"ELCA Journeys: Personal Reflections on the Last Forty Years" Concordia Theological Quarterly 65 (2001) no. 3:99-109. [journal on-line]; available from http://www.ctsfw.edu/ctq/text/apr01mcdaniel.pdf; Internet; accessed.

Juvenal vs. the queer guys

Nobody is surprised that Christianity from its beginning has, true to its Jewish heritage, treated homosexual acts as an abomination. But few people seem aware anymore that there were ancient pagan writers whose denunci-ations of homosexuality are consistently ignored today, if they are known at all. One clear example, as Leland D. Peterson, Emeritus Professor of English and Latin at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, points out in his article, "Homosexuality & Same-Sex 'Marriage,'" in the New Oxford Review (Jan. 2004), pp. 34-36, is the first century satirist, Juvenal. Juvenal's second satire, which is omitted from school texts of Juvanal and translated with omissions even in the Loeb edition of Juvenal, begins as a discourse on the homosexuality of those who seem to be masculine heterosexuals:
Appearances are deceptive:
Every back street swarms with solemn-faced humbuggers.
You there -- have you the nerve to thunder at the vice, who are
The most notorious dyke among all our Socratic fairies?
Your shaggy limbs and the bristling hair on your forearms
Suggest a fierce male virtue; but the surgeon called in
To lance your swollen piles dissolves in laughter
At the sight of that well-smoothed passage.
We will not find in the popular press today, says Peterson, what we find in Juvenal: "He alone presents us with a graphic, incriminating anal imagery to expose the practicing homosexual. Juvenal refers to morbus (disease), and observes symptoms of anemia among the homosexuals, as in the harlot denuncing the 'detestable perversions' of men who are 'giving tongue to each other's parts.... Your lawyer-philosopher obliges young men both ways, his versatile efforts/Turning him doubly anemic.'"

Juvenal regards same-sex "marriage" is seen as the ultimate, even blasphemous, perversion:
And what about
That noble sprig who went through a "marriage" with some common Horn-player or trumpeter -- and brought him a cool half million
As a bridal dowry? The contract wa signed, the blessing
Pronounced, and the blushing bride
hung round "her" husband's neck
At a lavish wedding breakfast. Shades of our ancestors!
Is it a moral reformer we need, or an augur
Of evil omens?
Juvenal finds repulsive that a former priest of Mars now "decks himself out in bridal frills, assumes/The train and veil!" He can only wonder "whence came/This prurient itch upon them? A wealthy, well-born/Man is betrothed in marriage to another man/And you [O Father of our City] do nothing." Clearly, as Peterson acknowledges, the speaker is "homophobic," if by that we mean one who condemns anal intercourse -- and the more he knows, the more he condemns it.

Juvenal envisions same-sex "marriages" becoming commonplace, as a friend confides:
"I must go down-town tomorrow
First thing: a special engagement."
"What's happening?" "Need you ask?"
I'm going to a wedding. Old So-and-so's got his boy-friend
To the altar at last...."
He foresees the time, notes Peterson, when male brides "will yearn for a mention/In the daily gazette," just like the major U.S. dailies are now formally announcing same-sex engagements and "marriages."

Same-sex "marriages" then as now had the problem of sterile intercourse. Of course, on the one hand, this fits in quite comfortably with the "culture of death" that is contracepting itself to death. But just as women in their 40s are now discovering that they would like to have children, so homosexual couples are seeking ways to adopt or otherwise have children. That homosexual unions are sterile is seen by Juvenal as Nature's wisdom, though male brides "sample foreign nostrums/Guaranteed to induce conception" or else try magical fertility rites. "Long before the invention of the microscope and precise knowledge of feminine ovaries," writes Peterson, "it is possible that male brides in Juvenal's time could have believed that the colon used as a vagina might have feminine properties."

Juvenal's second satire concludes by asking the reader to imagine the next-life in the underworld: "even among the dead/Rome stands dishonored." Peterson writes: "Primitive tribes in northern Europe conquered and captured by the Roman legions find abhorrent the sexual vices practiced in Rome, proof that homosexuality flourishes only in morally anarchic luxury. Foreigners who stay long enough in Rome will eventually 'catch her deadly sickness,' which Pter Green, our translator, makes explicit from the earlier morbus, which is obviously a venereal disease."

"As Juvenal recognized in the secularized, godless Rome of his deay, same-sex 'marriage' is not merely a crime against Nature and a corruption of marrige and family, not merely a symptom of moral decline, but a function of a morally sick society that includes a disease primarily transmitted by anal intercourse." In the middle of the second satire, he writes that
Infection spread this plague,
And will spread it further still, just as a single
Scabby sheep in the field brings death to the whole flock,
Or the touch of one blighted grape will blight the bunch.
Susanna Braund, in her commentary on these lines in her Juvenal: Satires Book I, Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics (Cambridge University Press, 1996), says that "the centre of the poem presents an image of disease and rot spreading uncontrollably from the centre outwards in images drawn from farming ... and viticulture. The 'disease' here mentioned is homosexuality, not hypocrisy; contagio recalls morbum, from a context describing overt homosexuals." The associations with AIDS are obvious -- that lethal epidemic now annually claiming the lives of some 16,000 young men in their prime years in the U.S. alone, and millions throughout the world.

Anti-Catholicism & the American Revolution

No, the American Revolution wasn't primarily because of the revoked Stamp Act of March 1765 or the repealed Townshend Act of 1767. The straw that broke the camel's back, according to one recent historian, was the Quebec Act of June 1774 (pictured left). Benjamin Franklin acknowledged to certain British friends associated with the British government that the Quebec Act was unacceptable to Americans: while the other "intolerable acts" were negotiable, the Quebec Act was not. There could be no compromising on the Quebec Act. What was the problem that the American Revolutionaries had with the Quebec Act? Well, if you can decipher the script of the manuscript (left), you will begin to see what the historian may have in mind. It reads: "Inhabitants of Quebec may profess the Romish Religion, subject to the King's Supremacy, as by Act I Eliz[abeth]; and the Clergy enjoy the accustomed Dues. No person professing the Romish Religion obliged to take the Oath of I Eliz[abeth]; but to take, before the Governor, etc. Oath." The whole paragraph of the original manuscript, from which the first part of this quote is excerpted, reads as follows:
"And, for the more perfect Security and Ease of the Minds of the Inhabitants of the said Province, it is hereby declared, That His Majesty's Subjects, professing the Religion of the Church of Rome of and in the said Province of Quebec, may have, hold, and enjoy, the free Exercise of the Religion of the Church of Rome, subject to the King's Supremacy, declared and established by an Act, made in the First Year of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, over all the Dominions and Countries which then did, or thereafter should belong, to the Imperial Crown of this Realm; and that the Clergy of the said Church may hold, receive, and enjoy, their accustomed Dues and Rights, with respect to such Persons only as shall profess the said Religion." (Source: The British North America (Quebec) Act of 1774, emphasis added)
Now what could this possibily have had to do with the American Revolutionaries and their aspirations? Our historian offers a clue from the writings of Cardinal Gasquet, a Benedictine historian, who declared that "the American Revolution was not a movement for civil and religious liberty; its principal cause was the bigoted rage of the American Puritan and Presbyterian ministers at the concession of full religious liberty and equality to Catholics of French Canada (emphasis added). The Taxation Acts were only a minor cause...." Professor Claude H. Van Tyne's testimony, which also lays aside the economic causes as secondary, is enlisted in support of this view: Tyne concludes his historical analysis with the declaration: "among the many causes, I rate religious bigotry, sectarian antipathy, and the influence of the Calvinistic clergy ... among the most important (emphasis added)."

Article X of the Suffolk County Resolves of September 6, 1774, referring to the Quebec Act, proclaims the establishment of the Catholic religion in Canada to be "dangerous in an extreme degree to the Protestant religion, and to the civil rights and liberties of all Americans," so that "as men and Protestant Christians we are indispensably obliged to take all proper measures for our security." These Resolves were adopted on September 9 and "were carried to Philadelphia by ... Paul Revere," and approved by the First Continental Congress on September 17th.

Late in 1775, American forces under the leadership of Benedict Arnold ... invaded Canada. Their attempt to overcome the Catholic stronghold in Quebec met with failure. (Adapted freely from "Dr. Woods and the American Revolution," by Jerry C. Meng, Latin Mass: A Journal of Catholic Culture [Summer 2003], pp. 4-6)

Monday, August 09, 2004

Three myths about Catholics and voting

In his latest e-letter, Deal Hudson (pictured right) offers the following remarks on three common errors of judgment about Catholics and voiting. These errors are so common, that he devoted an entire e-letter to them. Hudson's observations are so basic and important, that I've taken the liberty of excerpting his key statements below:
  1. "Public officials shouldn't execute their offices in line with their Catholic faith. To do so would be to violate the separation of
    church and state. The same holds true about Catholics who vote in
    line with their religion... They're just imposing their beliefs on
    everyone else."

    "Wrong. Catholics aren't seeking laws that require citizens to attend
    church or observe Lenten fasts. That's ridiculous. On the contrary,
    Catholics support the protection of basic human rights through
    legislation and policy, such as the right to life and the right to
    educational freedom. These are laws and policies that embody the
    values that we -- as a nation -- agree to live by.

  2. "Catholics only care about abortion. But there are many other
    issues out there that are just as important."

    "Wrong on both counts. First, faithful Catholics care about a full
    range of issues. But they also understand that the protection of the
    unborn is the dominant issue among all political issues. The mandate
    to protect innocent life is unconditional. Though some have
    criticized Catholics as being "single-issue" voters, the principle
    underlying the rejection of abortion extends to many other issues,
    such as bioethics, population, euthanasia, and even national defense.

  3. "Conservative Catholics are hypocrites. They focus on the
    pro-life positions of the Catholic Church but ignore all the other
    policy stands that the U.S. bishops take."

    "Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I've heard this one...

    "This popular claim confuses the difference between principle and
    prudential judgment. You see, Church teachings propose general
    principles, and these principles are binding (care for the poor,
    protection for the unborn, etc.) However, the specifics of how those
    principles are implemented into policy is a matter of each person's
    prudential judgment."

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Bush addresses Knights of Columbus

"To see the social justice vision of President Bush, you can do no better than read his speech today to the Knights of Columbus meeting in Texas (see text of speech at WhiteHouse.gov). For those of you who are knights, like this writer, you will find it interesting to know that the President's brother, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, is a third degree knight." (Gratia tibi, Oswald Sobrino, at Catholic Analysis, Aug. 3, 2004)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

On being able to SEE what happens at Mass

A certain Catherine, was commenting on a 1989 film of an indult Mass in England -- the traditional Latin Mass of the kind one doesn't see often anymore, where the priest's back turned to the congregation as he faces ad orientem (East) toward the altar and consecrated Host. She remarked that the really interesting shots "were those taken at the altar of the priest's face and what he was actually doing on the altar. No photographer there as far as I could tell, just the camera. The camera saw what no human eye except the celebrants could see. I don't want to go back to that."

Of course, I see her point. She prefers the Novus Ordo (the new mass since Vatican II), in which the priest faces the people behind a free standing altar so that his actions are visible. But the other point that is easily lost from view here is the question of whether it is really right and fitting to throw the doors open to all that is holy and sacred. Most of us don't do that with sexual intercourse (yet). And the early Church did not invite non-Catholics (even catechumens) into the church to witness the Mass of the faithful (Eucharistic liturgy). "LifeTeen" Masses have hade the habit of inviting teenagers to stand around the alter during the consecration, more often picking their noses than kneeling, and there is little evidence that witnessing that high moment in the Mass at that special proximity has had any saluatory spiritual effect upon them. Minimally, is it not more than enough to understand that the priest up there (in the sanctuary) is offering the Sacrifice on our behalf, even if we (in the nave) cannot see or hear what is occuring in detail as we are beset by crying babies and sundry distractions on every side? On the other hand, might it not also be properly asked whether some things (the details of the Consecration, perhaps, like those sex) ought not be brough out under the klieg lights on center stage to be inspected by the pedestrian hordes of which we are a part?

Southern bishops excommunicate pro-choice politicians

This just in from the Polish Prince via the "Episcopal Spine of Steel Alert" at Ad Limina Apostolorum: Three southern bishops (pictured, left-to-right, the Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of Charlotte; the Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, Bishop of Charleston, SC; and the Most Reverend John F. Donoghue, Archbishop of Atlanta) issued the following Joint Statement:
"Because of the influence that Catholics in public life have on the conduct of our daily lives and on the formation of our nation's future, we declare that Catholics serving in public life espousing positions contrary to the teaching of the Church on the sanctity and inviolability of human life, especially those running for or elected to public office are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in any Catholic church within our jurisdictions: the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Dioceses of Charleston and Charlotte. Only after reconciliation with the Church has occurred, with the knowledge and consent of the local bishop, and public disavowal of former support for procured abortion, will the individual be permitted to approach the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

We undertake this action to safeguard the sacred dignity of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, to reassure the faithful, and to save sinners."
(When bishops will be bishops, peace will once again be restored to the Church. Thank God for such bishops. Thank you, bishops!)

Bobby Bowden on education & discipline

FSU coach Bobby Bowden in a recent interview offered some interesting remarks on education:
"These kids that we get nowadays, they come in and do this wrong. You shouldn't steal. You shouldn't do this. Their parents have got to teach them that. And it's got to be done when they're 2, 3, 4, 5 years of age. And kids aren't getting that anymore because the daddies ain't home. The daddies are all gone. And a boy needs discipline. He needs discipline from a male. Not a mama. They all want to wear earrings like their mama. They all want to look like their mama. Because their mama is raising them."
Q. Do you still feel like you relate to 18-year-olds or 20-year-olds?
"I don't believe in a lot of things they're doing now. I sure don't believe a lot of things they're doing. But I'm sure I could talk to them about it, and I do, in certain circumstances. They (say), 'Well everybody else is doing it. Everybody else is doing it.' Yeah. But the Book says you can't do that, son. The Book has said for 2,000 years that you can't do that."
Q. When kids come in and do things wrong, some people attribute that to the star treatment they get at programs. Bit programs like yours, even.
"It's probably true. A lot of that is true. There's no doubt about it. A lot of our problems are perpetuated by us coaches. We baby them. We give them this and we give them that. When I went to college, nobody told me to take English. Nobody told me what courses to take. Nobody told me where the library was. Nobody ever told me any of that stuff. But now we get their classes for them and we check and see if they went to class. I think we're probably our biggest enemy sometimes."

Sushi, sex, and the conundrums of logic

Sushi, or in the properly honorific Japanese tongue, o-sushi, is quite probably my favorite culinary delight in the world. There is no gustatory presentation quite so artful or appealing, and no cuisine quite so delectable, in my opinion, as o-sushi. The combination of flavors -- the faint tangy scent of sweetened rice vinegar in the rice, the slight green rub of grated wasabi root (somewhat reminiscent of our horse radish) between the rice and the raw fish, the touch of Kikkoman shoyu (soy sauce) in the dipping saucer, laced with a light suspension of (yet again, more!) grated wasabi, followed by a pinch of pink, gossamer-thin sliced, sweet, pickled ginger root, and a chaser of gently warmed o-sake (rice wine), is almost enough to induce something close to orgasmic delight. There is an art, of course, to dining on o-sushi. Fingers are permissible, though only philistines would think of using silverware. The preferred utensils are o-hashi (chopsticks). One who has mastered the art of sushi-eating is expected to pick up a piece of nigiri-zushi (the kind of sushi that consists of a hand formed morsel of rice with a slice of raw fish on it), dip it into the small saucer or soy sauce, then deftly place it into his mouth, yet maintain his composure at the moment when the combined sensations explode within his oral cavity to induce such a paroxysm of pleasure that any lesser person would be unable to contain himself. Under no circumstance must he allow himself to lose control, lose his composure, or fall out of his seat and writhe upon the floor in an uncontrolled exhibition of delirious ecstasy. That is considered altogether unseemly.

In fact, there is a logical syllogism that has long puzzled epicures, who happen to be acquainted with the delights of both sushi and sex, which goes like this:
  • Nothing is better than sex.
  • Sushi is better than nothing.
  • Therefore, sushi is better than sex.
Think on that one for a while, you liver-mush lovers!

Teachers' salaries: disrespectful pay

The last time the faculty members at Lenoir-Rhyne College were granted a significant pay hike was after I petitioned the administration for permission to supplement my income by bagging groceries at Winn Dixie, a local grocery store. I don't know if there is any relation between my petition to bag groceries and our pay hike, but I do think the coincidence -- if that's what it was -- is interesting. For some ten years before that the faculty had endured a virtual salary freeze precipitated by the fiscal mismanagement of the administration in the 1980s. This put the faculty about a decade behind where it should have been by the 1990s. In fact, when the wife of one of my colleagues retired from teaching at a local elementary school just a few years ago, she was earning more than her husband who was a full professor with a Ph.D. nearing the end of his career.

What do public school teachers make? Dave Eggers in the May/June issue of Mother Jones writes:
"The latest statistics put the average teacher's salary at about $46,000; some teachers earn a little more, some a little less (the average teacher's salary -- not the starting salary -- is $38,000 in Kansas, $36,000 in New Mexico, and $32,000 in South Dakota). Overall, that's about the same that we pay pile-driver operators ($45,980) and about $8,000 less than the average elevator repairman pulls down. Meanwhile, a San Francisco dockworker makes about $115,000, while the clerk who logs shipping records into the longshoreman's computer makes $136,000."
But the really interesting thing is that my colleague, a professor near the end of his teaching career at Lenoir-Rhyne College, was making less than his wife was making as a second grade public school teacher. In Eggers' Mother Jones article, entitled "Reading, Writing, and Landscaping," he seeks to address the scandal of such disproportionate inequities:
"The first step to creating an education system full of the best teachers we can find is to pay them in line with their importance to their communities. We pay orthodontists an average of $350,000, and no one would say that their impact on the lives of kids is greater than a teacher's. But it seems difficult for everyone, from parents to politicians, to shake free of a tradition in which teaching was seen as something of a volunteer project for women whose husbands brought home the real money. Today's teachers need to, but very often can't, support a family on their salaries. They find it difficult or impossible to buy homes, to save money, to live comfortably, and, in wealthier areas, to live in or near the towns where they teach."
Eggers recalls how his sixth-grade math teacher in the 1970s was also a licensed travel agent, and seeing a number of his high school teachers, all with master's degrees or Ph.D.'s, painting houses and cutting lawns during the summer. "This kind of thing still happens all over the country," says Eggers, "and it's a disgrace":
"When teachers are forced to tend the yards of students' homes, to clean houses, or to sell stereos on nights and weekends, the quality of education is diminished, the profession is disrespected, and we parody the notion that we hold our schools and teachers in the highest regard. Teachers with two and three jobs are tired, their families are frustrated, and the students they teach, who want to -- and should -- consider their instructors exalted figures, learn instead to think of teaching as a part-time gig, the day job for the guy who sells Game Boys at Circuit City."

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Turn down the lights!

In the May 2004 issue of Crisis magazine, Arlene Oost-Zinner and Jeffrey Tucker have an article entitled "Fourteen Easy Ways to Improve the Liturgy." In many ways an excellent article, it offers a number of insightful observations on the following fourteen suggestions:
  1. Turn down the volume.
  2. Chant for a prelude.
  3. Curb the announcements.
  4. Choose plain, traditional hymns for the processional.
  5. Sing the Kyrie.
  6. Choose a plainer Gloria.
  7. Fix the Psalm.
  8. The Offertory should be a time of preparation.
  9. Reduce and simplify the 'Mystery of Faith' and the 'Great Amen.'
  10. Shorten the Sign of Peace.
  11. Begin the communion chant (a simple Latin hymn will do) after the priest receives.
  12. Don't force people to sing during communion.
  13. Allow for silence after communion.
  14. Don't attempt a rousing good-bye.
In the course of elaborating upon these fourteen suggestions, the authors offer many very significant insights and helpful suggestions. I would recommend the article as something that could be shared profitably with any priest and music director.

But I would add a further suggestion of my own:
  • Turn down the lights.
This may seem a rather odd and trifling suggestion until one begins to examine it. Anyone who has wandered into inner city churches and cathedrals (whether in the United States, Ireland, Britain, or Europe) at odd times of day will know that they are not usually brightly illumined as suburban American churches are during Masses. Rather, they are usually dim. The only source of light, other than the natural light from the (usually stained glass) windows, is the Tabernacle light, easily spotted as a pinprick of light emanating from the vicinity of the Altar, and perhaps a flickering bank of votive candles, glowing amidst the richly mysterious gloom. By contrast, when they turn on the lights in most suburban American Catholic churches today the lights are so harshly bright that they could serve to illumine a surgical operating room.

In my own parish, I am accustomed to going early to church with my wife, arriving in time to participate in praying a group Rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament before Mass. The interior of the church, at this point, is still shrouded in a comforting darkness, with only the Tabernacle light signaling the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament near the Altar. Throughout the Rosary, the interior of the church remains thus hushed in relative darkness and quiet, but for the antiphonally recited prayers of the Rosary.

As the Rosary nears its end, people begin filing into the church (in cannot be called the nave, as it is one of those post-Vatican II structures practically built in the round), and suddenly it happens: the klieg lights are thrown on. The whole interior of the church is suddenly bathed in harsh light -- a light that casts out all shadow, and, with it, all mystery, all quietude. It is as if Channel 9 Action News has entered the sanctuary with its carbon arc lamps and cameras and brought the whole secular world from outside in with it.

But there is something else I notice. Something else is lost: the orientation and focus of worship. Before the lights are thrown on, the focus is where it belongs: up where Christ Himself is uniquely Present, where His Presence is signaled by the Tabernacle light and His place of Sacrifice is signaled by the illuminated Altar. The focus is not on those of us who are back in our pews saying the Rosary. We remain shrouded in shadow, only our voices rising out of the darkness to attest to our presence. But the moment the bright klieg lights are thrown on, everything is changed. The whole interior of the church illuminated like a stage -- not only that part of it containing the Altar and Tabernacle, which used to be called the Sanctuary, but that part of it containing the pews and parishioners, which used to be called the Nave. Traditionally the Communion Rail marked the boundary dividing the Sanctuary from the Nave; but this boundary has disappeared from most American Catholic churches along with most other boundaries demarcating any division between the sacred and the profane. And the bright contemporary illumination of the whole interior of churches is another instance of this erasure of boundaries. And notice what happens: when everything is equally bathed in uniform white light, the neck of the person sitting i front of you, with all of its creases, warts, and freckles, is as brightly illumined as the Tabernacle or the priest at the Altar. The result? A loss of orientation and focus.

Tolkien's advice to disgruntled traditionalists

In a letter to his son, Michael Tolkien, dated November 1, 1963, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote: "I can recommend this as an exercise: make your Communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children -- from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn -- open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to Communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same as a Mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. (It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand -- after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.)" (Gratia tibi, Video meliora)

Doubtless this is good advice. One has no choice but to take Tolkien's advice to heart if one is to survive spiritually as a Catholic today. Even what passes generally for a properly executed Novus Ordo liturgy is an affront, not only to my tastes, mind you, but to my sense of fidelity to what it means to be Catholic. It's not merely a matter of putting up with what Thomas Day calls "the triumph of bad taste" in Catholic culture, but with the pervasive theological rot of fashionable dissent, which, so much the worse, doesn't even understand itself as mischievous. But prayer for tasteless philistines as well as prayer for the heretical is, I'm quite sure, as good for the one praying in sincerity as for the one for whom the prayer is offered. While we're at it, let us also remember in our prayers Master Tolkien himself, with gratitude and hope.

Policy suggestions for the Church

In the June 2004 issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review, Joseph A. Varacalli has an article entitled "Policy suggestions for the Church." He spends the first half of the article discussing the processes of "secularization from within" that have occurred at almost all levels of the Church, then, after briefly entertaining differing interpretations of what to do, turns his attention to some concrete steps that can be taken toward reorienting the Catholic Church back in the right direction. Here is a summary, along with some excerpts [note: the numbering schema is my own]:
No. 1: Catholic (re-)education: "The most basic concrete suggestion is that the Catholic Church in this country should radically change priorities, in terms of its ministries and apostolates, which would entail a change in its allocatin of personnel and spending priorities. Outside of the administration of the sacraments, there must be an almost exclusive emphasis give to Catholic education, with the ultimate goal being to offer all interested Americans, Catholic or not, a free K-12 education for their children that is shaped by an authentic Catholic worldview." (emphasis added)

No. 2: Catechetical (re-)instruction: "Related to this, all parishes must emphasize, much more than they do now, catechetical instruction in the essentials of the faith not only for their parishioners but for any potentially interested citizen, Catholic or not."

No. 3: Multi-media campaign: "Related to and supporting this ... would be efforts -- vita such instruments as cable television, radio programming, and fre continuing educatin courses -- presenting the Catholic worldview on a wide range of topics and issues through disucssions of theology, philosophy, the popes, the saints, social thought, social science and history, and social and public policy. Diocesan newspapers must be transformed into more serious religious, intellectual and moral vehicles, both promoting and explaining the Catholic faith and what is has to offer the individual and society."
In response to the objection that the Catholic Church has many charitable social welfare programs to support, Varacalli responds by pointing out, quite matter-of-factly, that "the present weakened condition of the Church does not allow the Church to do everything for everybody." He continues:
No. 4: Re-Catholicize Catholic higher education: "It is not secret that the state of Catholic higher education, judged by authentic Catholic criteria, is close to abysmal. The number of smaller orthodox colleges, either started over the past few decades or that have come home to the bosom of Mother Church, while heartening, is not an adequate response. At least some of the sacred Catholic soil that has been occupied by the secular pretenders to the throne of Catholic education during the past decades must be recaptured."

No. 5: Establish a Catholic education agency: "Another concrete suggestion is to creat a nationwide Catholic educational agency composed of orthodox Catholic scholars from groups like the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, the Cardinal Newman Society, and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists that is designed to help and serve those bishops concerned with the renewal of Catholic higher education."

No. 6: Host faithful para-Church groups: "... our functioning institutions must, of necessity, be asked to bear extra responsibilities and tasks that they were not originally intended to master. Alas, we must 'go into battle' with what we've got and what we've got are a few institutions, like Sacred Heart Major Seminary, which are fast heading back to Catholic orthodoxy. Such seminaries must be quickly expanded into developing liberal arts colleges and must also serve as 'hotbeds' of Catholic intellectual and evangelistic activity where faithful groups (e.g., Catholics United for the Faith, Opus Dei, the Legionaries of Christ, etc.) must be invited to run their programs.
Now there's a plan of action worthy of, say, the Jesuits after the Protestant upheavel of the 16th century!

Bishops cop out on political issues

A few weeks ago, Deal Hudson (pictured left) said in his periodic e-letter that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was working on its presidential questionnaire. He noted that the Left-leaning USCCB might try to bury the pro-life questions in with a bunch of irrelevant issues... thereby hiding Senator John Kerry's extreme pro-abortion voting record. They did something similar with the 2000 presidential questionnaire (wherein, they actually let Al Gore get away with claiming to be "pro-life"!).

In his most recent e-letter, Hudson writes: "Unfortunately, it seems that the same thing is happening again this election. The questionnaires are with the candidates right now, but CRISIS [magazine] has been able to get an early look at the document." Here's what he reports:
First, the questionnaire makes no distinction between life issues -- clearly of primary importance to Catholics -- and particular policies
that the conference supports on issues as wide-ranging (and non-binding) as rural development, housing, and immigration.

The document has 41 questions, broken down into sections by topic. The largest single section of the questionnaire is on... immigration. Yes, immigration. That category gets a full six questions.

The next-largest section is education (five questions). Abortion gets a total of three questions (tied with aid to low income families).

In fact, in the entire questionnaire, only eight questions deal with life issues -- including abortion, capital punishment, physician-assisted suicide, cloning, and embryo research. Amazingly enough, the section on broadcast communication had more questions than any of the life sections except abortion and capital punishment.

But there's more.

The structure of the questions is such that they only ask for a "support/oppose" response, which says nothing about the particular details of a candidate's position. Nowhere is there room for the candidate to explain, say, why he voted for partial-birth abortion (as Kerry did) or voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (another
Kerry vote). In fact, neither are mentioned at all!

Of course, the conference did include this vital question:

"Will you support or oppose legislation to strengthen the reputation of broadcasters to ensure that they meet their public service broadcast license obligations?"

Look, it's not that I object to the questions per se. The problem is that they ignore the hierarchy in Catholic values and issues. Furthermore, this sweeping approach keeps the candidates -- particularly Kerry, who is almost always on the wrong side of the life issues -- from having to defend themselves or explain any of
their choices.

Once again, the bishops conference has mixed up prudential issues (like the particular points of broadcast law) with hard moral absolutes (like the ban on abortion). In doing so, they've given ardently pro-abortion candidates political cover.

Hopefully, when they eventually release the results of the questionnaire, the conference will include some kind of commentary that assigns real weight to the life issues. Without that, this document is simply deceptive.
(Gratia tibi, Deal Hudson.)

The Lord's Day? . . . Or Wal-Mart's?

"Once, within living memory, it was a day apart in many places: a 24-hour stretch of family time when liquor was unavailable, church was the rule, shopping was impossible and -- in some towns -- weekend staples like tending the lawn and playing in the park met with hearty disapproval. But America changed, and it dragged Sunday along with it ..." (Read more ... Gratiuas tibi, Earl Appleby, Times Against Humanity).

-- (Jean-Francois Millet, "The Angelus") --

Debating Darwin

For readers interested in intelligent design, a new book, Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA, edited by William A. Dembski and Michael Ruse, is now available from Cambridge University Press, released July 2004, (424 pages, $45.00). Here's part of the official blurb on it:
William Dembski, Michael Ruse, and other prominent philosophers provide here a comprehensive balanced overview of the debate concerning biological origins--a controversial dialectic since Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859.
Michael Ruse, by the way, is an opponent of intelligent design, but on very good terms with those in the ID movement. (James Kushiner, Touchstone)

Vatican contra feminism

"One wonders if they actually bothered to read the document, or merely skimmed it for a "controversial" sentence or two about which they could rant," writes Christopher in Against the Grain:
"I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see the mainstream (secular) media's portrayal of the latest document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: 'Vatican says feminism "lethal" to families', screams Shasta Darlington (Reuters); 'Pope hits out at feminist radicals' proclaims AFP; 'Vatican Assails Feminism' bemoans the Canada Globe & Mail . . . and so on."
Read more (gratias tibi, Christopher).