Friday, July 27, 2007

Pope Benedict compares Vatican II aftermath to 'chaos' following Nicea

Sandro Magister, "All Against All: The Postconciliar Period Recounted by Ratzinger, Theologian and Pope" (www.chiesa, July 27, 2007), writes:
The period following Vatican II reminds Benedict XVI of the "total chaos" after the Council of Nicaea, the first in history. But from that stormy Council emerged the "Credo." And today? Here is the pope’s response to the priests of Belluno, Feltre, and Treviso.
"We had such great hopes, but things proved to be more difficult..."
"In his book on the Holy Spirit, saint Basil compares the Church’s situation after the Council of Nicaea to a nighttime naval battle, in which no one recognizes another, but everyone is pitted against everyone else. It really was a situation of total chaos: this is how saint Basil paints in vivid colors the drama of the period following the Council of Nicaea.

"50 years later, for the first Council of Constantinople, the emperor invited saint Gregory Nazianzen to participate in the council, and saint Gregory responded: No, I will not come, because I understand these things, I know that all of the Councils give rise to nothing but confusion and fighting, so I will not come. And he didn’t go....

"Thus it seems to me that we must learn the great humility of the Crucified One ... But we must also learn, together with this humility, the true triumphalism of the Catholicism that grows in all ages.... In this combination of the humility of the Cross and the joy of the risen Lord, who in the [Second Vatican] Council has given us a great road marker, we can go forward joyously and full of hope."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.

-- Will Rogers

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.

-- Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

Amazing students

We all have stories. I've got mine. I have had some amazing students over my years of teaching. Some have become fast friends.

One kind of 'amazing' is the type of student who is a member of an immigrant family from Romania, Moldavia (we have a Moldavian consulate in town), Pakistan, India, Korea, China, or Japan, and who struggles in English as a foreign language, yet comes out at the end of the semester with one of the three top grades in an honors course -- in a class of some twenty students, most of whom are from upper-middle class Anglo families with money to burn.

Another kind of 'amazing' is the student who is hearing impaired who takes in lectures through a sign language interpreter and who achieves the same kind of academic levels by end-of-semester.

Yet another kind of 'amazing' is the exceptional student majoring in Physical Education, Sports Management, Athletic Training, or Health & Exercise Science [sic.], who pulls down straight 'A' grades in tests, writes brilliantly articulate papers, and achieves similar end-of-semester academic goals.

Still another kind of 'amazing' is what I find in my honors students, who can be generally counted upon to actually read their assignments, be prepared for in-class discussion, and to actively participate in lively classroom debate. I've always loved these students, who make teaching a joy and the classroom experience a genuine delight.

Most 'amazing', however, are those dime-a-dozen students whose parents pay 1k per semester for one of my courses, and never bother to buy the texts for the course, take notes, stay awake in class, or even trouble themselves to come to class. That's amazing.

I know, I must be boring. I received the Raymond Morris Bost Distinguished Professor Award for excellence in teaching at Lenoir-Rhyne College in 1990. More telling, perhaps, may be the development that nearly one-third of all students at this institution are now majoring in some program of study related to athletics or physical education. Large billboards around town have featured advertisements for the college carrying banner headlines reading, not "Academic Excellence," but "Athletic Excellence" [sic.]. (Incidentally, I'm not sure if anyone can remember when our major sports teams had a winning season, but that's a detail.) Another recruiting brochure contained a caption declaiming: "we may not be Harvard, but ..." Really? No kidding?

I've had all of these types of students in my classes, all of them truly amazing. But by far the most common type are those in the last category. I noticed a sea change in our quality of in-coming freshmen about five years ago. 17 out of 30 students failed a freshman survey course. In my two decades of teaching experience prior to that, nothing of the kind had ever happened. Maybe two or three students would fail a core-level survey course, but not half the class. Furthermore, I've not become more rigorous in my grading over the years; if anything, I've become too lenient. What's happening in your neck of the woods? Thoughts?

Two books on the Mass to be published

Two major contemporary works on the Mass will be published in August and September:[Hat tip to A.S.]

It was the best of times ... the worst of times ...

I've always felt that the struggle between spiritual good and evil in the world coexist, not as two discrete "sides" that can be marked off by a line dividing those who align themselves with 'Christ' from the world of non-believing secular 'culture' (pace H. Richard Niebuhr) -- no matter how this struggle may be manifested in various societies and institutions -- but, rather, as a spiritual antithesis running through the heart of every individual, even every religious believer. It may be pure fantasy, but I've always had this notion, despite the horrors that blight our past, that this struggle must somehow intensify as history progresses. There's food for thought in that, I suppose.

In any case, I was made aware upon awakening this morning of how much we have to be thankful. Things might have gone much differently, but on April 19th, 2005, the former Cardinal, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was elected Pope Benedict XVI. On December 1st, 2006, he returned safely to Rome from a visit to Muslim Turkey where there where assassination rumors abounded. On July 7th, 2007, the long and often painfully-awaited Motu Proprio was finally published. Who could have expected such answers to prayer?

Then upon arrival at school this morning, I was greeted with an unopened piece of mail from the Cardinal Newman Society for the Preservation of Catholic Higher Education containing a message from Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. Among other things, it related some news from the other side of the scale -- about Catholic universities. In 2006 a Georgetown University dean ran for office on a pro-abortion platform. Santa Clara University openly and actively refers its students to Planned Parenthood for contraception. DePaul University offers students a minor degree program in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Studies. A recent survey shows that at least 46 Catholic colleges and universities recognize homosexual clubs promoting and celebrating gay 'culture'. Advocates of abortion, stem-cell research, and physician-assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, and women's ordination are being invited to give commencement addresses and receive honorary degrees by Catholic institutions throughout the country. Oh, and remember The Vagina Monologues, celebrating lesbian seduction, molestation, and rape of a minor? This year, for the 6th year running, nearly one of every ten Catholic colleges and universities -- including Boston College, Marquette university, and the University of Detroit Mercy -- hosted performances of this delightful little sexually explicit, anti-Catholic, women-demeaning drama.

The struggle continues ...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Disputations on Tom Brokaw and the Church Pubescent

A reader just called my attention to this fascinating and provocative discussion posted by John da Fiesole over at Disputations: "The Church Pubescent" (Disputations, July 18, 2007). If you haven't read it, I think you'll find it interesting. The piece is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author:
In a commencement speech at Emory University a couple of years ago, Tom Brokaw spoke truly:
You have been hearing all of your life that this occasion is a big step into what is called the real world. "What," you may ask, "is that real world all about?" "What is this new life?" Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2005 at Emory, real life is not college; real life is not high school. Here is a secret that no one has told you: Real life is junior high.

The world that you're about to enter is filled with junior high adolescent pettiness, pubescent rivalries, the insecurities of 13-year-olds, and the false bravado of 14-year-olds.
This is true, and it's maddening.

It's particularly frustrating that it's true of that part of real life lived by the Church Militant. Grace -- and not just an over-the-counter kind of buck-you-uppo grace, but the very Presence of God Himself within our persons -- is supposed to transform us into images of Christ. Yet in practice, contact with others -- which is to say, being confronted with the fact that we can't have everything our way right this instant -- transforms us into 13-year-olds.

Surely Christ's grace is stronger than our own petulance. But do we give witness to this by how we live and how we talk to each other?

It's a commonplace to say that on-line Catholic discussion sites are a scandal to the Church. Bitter hatred expressed in the most vile terms is only a few links away from most every non-self-contained Catholic website.

Most days, though, it's not the hatred that gets to me, but the sheer childishness of it. Someone disagrees with you? Someone's so ignorant you can hardly stand to have him around. Someone is a little too pleased with himself? Someone must be taken down a notch. Someone tries to take you down a notch? Someone's just asking for it.

A person can rise to a challenge, or he can sink to it. Living in a junior high world means most of us are predisposed to sink, and once a conversation begins to sink it's almost impossible to turn it around.

It's also decidedly unsatisfying to rise above adolescent baiting. What if no one notices how mature you're being? What if they think you're not responding, not because you've put away childish things, but because you just got served? We can't have these... these adolescents think they're getting away with something merely by being juvenile.

But worrying about what adolescents are getting away with is the job of their parents and teachers. If you're not someone's parent or teacher, then there may well be times when your being a grown up means they'll get away with something. That's no fun, but if being a grown-up were fun, we wouldn't be living in a junior high world.

In his speech, Tom Brokaw went on to give this advice, which I think is pretty good:
In your pursuit of your passions, always be young. In your relationship with others, always be grown-up. Set a standard, and stay faithful to it.
In real life, when grown-ups have grown up conversations, adolescents either leave as quickly as possible or stay and try to act like grown-ups. I bet it works the same way in the life of the Church.
Of related interest: David L. Alexander, "When Johnny Can't Reason" (Man with black hat, July 23, 2007)

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Thursday, July 19, 2007

They joy of education today . . .

Here is the exhilarating yield from an examination I gave this summer in a senior-level course in religious studies:
  • Who was the Roman emperor who ended imperial persecution of Christians by converting to Christianity? Answer: Henry IV.

  • Who viewed Christ as a human creature, neither eternal nor uncreated like God the Father, prompting the framing of the Nicene Creed? Answer: Anglicans.

  • What was the location of the synod that published a list of the canonical Christian Scriptures? Answer: Ontological argument.

  • What was the earliest Christological heresy, to which the Apostles Creed contained a response? Answer: Extreme unction.

  • What was the name of the Reformation movement that re-baptized those who had been baptized as infants because they insisted on an adult "believer's church"? Answer: Carthage.

  • Who was the 16th century Swiss reformer who made Geneva a theocratic center for training protestant reformers? Answer: St. Augustine.

  • Who stood barefoot in the snow for three days before obtaining absolution from the pope at Canossa? Answer: Gregory I.

  • What name is generally given to arguments for God's existence from the idea of a first cause? Answer: Pantheism.

  • The Wesley brothers founded the Methodist movement as a reform movement within the branch of the Reformation called ... Answer: Gnosticism.

  • The traditional Catholic sacrament reserved for the sick and dying is called ... Answer: Special revelation.

  • Under which pope was the papacy understood as the "servant of the servants of God"? Answer: Constantine.

  • Explain the nature of the arguments from general revelation (natural theology) for the existence of God. Offer two examples. Answer: General revelation is being able to believe in something. Putting your faith into something besides yourself. Even if you don't believe in God you still believe in something.

  • Name a Protestant Reformer and identify one of his distinctive teachings. Answer: St. Augustine made Geneva a theocratic center for training many protestant reformers.

  • Describe how one of the twelve Apostles died. Answer: Judis [sic.] hung [sic.] himself.

  • What is Gnosticism? Explain. Answer: Reform of Methodism. Branching off and opening the mind to a new beliefe [sic.] that was not sterotypical [sic.].

  • Distinguish between general and special revelation. Answer: General revelation is that which all have a bliefe [sic.] and faith in. Special revelation is that which those believe and have faith in God.

  • Distinguish between mortal and venial sin. Answer: Mortal sin [is] knowing right from wrong. Venial sin [is] knowing what is wrong but not caring.

  • What are the three basic divisions of the Old Testament? Answer: (1) Creation, (2) exile, (3) sin.

  • Enumerate the four basic divisions of the New Testament: Answer: (1) Birth of Jesus, (2) Reserection [sic.], (3) Hope of an after life with God, (4) Crusitication [sic.] of Jesus.

  • Analyze the logic of the 'ontological' argument for the existence of God. Answer: The 'ontological' argument for the existence of God would be that since there is a universe and it must keep going and things happen good and bad there has to be a higher power than just us.

  • Name the seven sacraments distinguished by the Church from medieval times. Answer: (1) Baptism, (2) confession, (3) confirmation, (4) Lord's supper, (5) oil (anointment) [sic.], [and wait ... it just keeps getting better] (6) Carthage, and (7) Special revelation.
All of this, mind you, from a single, well-heeled student from a good family, regarded as having every prospect of success in life. Incidentally, this course is costing the student around one thousand dollars in tuition at this institution, whose tuition now ranks seventh highest in the state after the likes of Duke University, Wake Forest University, and Davidson College. O Domine, miserere nobis.

A little detective story ...

A little detective story involving three elderly ladies, a bottle of Jack Daniels, and a baseball game.


Are any of you acquainted with the website, -- "Voice of the Catholic Lay Faithful"? I've been receiving emails to publicize it. I haven't had the time to examine it carefully, but it sort of resembles what might be called a Catholic Drudge Report. Anyone know this site?

The fate of the inner city parish

by Ralph Roister-Doister

Like many dioceses across the country, and especially in the northeast, my diocese, the diocese of Buffalo, is undergoing a severe contraction. Churches and schools have already been closed or "consolidated". No one knows as yet what the final figure will be, but fifty is a reasonable guess, and may indeed prove to be a conservative one. A disproportionate number of these parishes will be in the city. The suburbs will be virtually unscathed. Why? Because that’s where the people are, and that’s where the money is. To many, this is the sensible, "businesslike" way of doing things, and ought to be accepted by Buffalo Catholics, chronic losers that they are, with benumbed stoicism. After all, sensible suburbanites reason, if these people had had any sense, they would have scurried to the suburbs decades ago, like we did.

A marketing genius in the diocesan bureaucracy dubbed this "business decision" , with doubtful inspiration, "A Journey in Faith and Grace". But for the handful of "loser" – largely Polish -- Catholics left in the city, the three-year agony and ecstasy of bargaining and bean-counting has been painful and dispiriting, doubly so because it is viewed by many as a sham process, in which the outcome was never in doubt. With the closing of these east side and central city parishes, the last vestiges of their Polish-American heritage will be gone. The streets of their blighted districts will be given over completely to scuzzy pizza parlors, rent-to-own clip joints, bodegas run by Koreans and Arabs (where elderly Polish ladies pay three times as much for a can of chicken noodle soup as their sons and daughters in the suburbs), bars where blacks stab and shoot other blacks, and anyone who happens to be in the way, and abandoned buildings by the score, where squatters sell each other drugs, and assault, rape and steal from one another to pay for them. And on everything, everywhere you look, tags, tags, tags.

Recently, the "journey" took a particularly stupid and ugly turn. The Buffalo City Council decided to add its two-cents worth. This aggregation of (in my humble opinion) thieves, prostitutes, and scum-on-the-make, felt the time was right to express their heartfelt concern over the effect that the closings of these churches might have in the districts that, under their stewardship, have degenerated to their present blighted state. The piece-de-resistance came from an ineffectual mama’s boy of a councilman by the name of David Franczyk, who opined that the diocese of Buffalo, in closing these predominantly Polish parishes, exuded to his sensitive, patrician nostrils, "the whiff of ethnic cleansing." Franczyk, a Catholic democrat in the Brian Higgins mold, got what he was after: instant notoriety. He granted interviews to every local radio talk show host who asked, and all of the local news programs prominently displayed his soft, pudgy, Neil Cavuto-like face in good-as-gold sound bites. "It’s a form of homogenization," he obligingly explained. "It’s a protestantization of the church, too". Homogenization, protestantization, and ethnic cleansing. Pearls of idiocy, from the mouth of a craven -- as only Buffalo democrats can be craven -- politico.

Catholic establishment outrage was predictable. Catholic League president William Donohue threatened a lawsuit. Local commentators, echoing the smugness of suburban Catholics, professed wonderment that the diocese should be criticized for running itself like the business it is. Even Bp Kmiec, who has a wondrous gift for not noticing anything unpleasant or discomforting happening around him, bristled at Franczyk’s remarks. Franczyk kept firing, plainly tickled by all the attention his loutishness had garnered.

And, in the end, it was Franczyk who uttered the germ, the crumb, the speck, of truth: "they [the diocese] should be encouraging people to worship in these churches, rather than building in the far-flung suburbs."

Precisely right.

Many of the most inspiringly beautiful churches in the diocese are located in the city, and will close. It is truly a tragedy, and doubly so, because the surviving parishes – the parishes with the money -- are largely suburban cow palaces that should never have been built in the first place. One such church is just down the street from me. It is an oyster-shell shaped monstrosity, like a concert hall, built in the sixties. Sunday Mass communion processions are like Keystone Kops chase scenes, with EMHCs fanning out in all directions, and bewildered communicants stumbling after them. Awful. Even the traditionally-designed suburban churches are strangely barren – "protestantized", in Franczyk’s suddenly not-so-idiotic term. Their walls are bare, save for the periodic station of the cross faux carving, with stained glass windows that seem somehow generic and plain, next to no statuary, probably no communion rail, a tabernacle that may be located anywhere – I’ll stop now – you know the litany, I’m sure. One church has a small crucifix on the wall, and a large, bare, "protestant" cross suspended from the ceiling like something hanging in a famous aviators’ museum. It is all so depressingly sterile, a stroll through a museum exhibit of the vestiges of a dead civilization.

Such impoverishment led me to start going into the city for Sunday Mass several years ago. Buffalo is not a big city. It takes 15-30 minutes to get from my suburban cape cod to virtually any parish in the city. The churches are beautiful, the attitudes usually prayerful. Most of the time, no one grabs your hand rapturously, and best of all, the guitar stylings of Buffy, Muffy, Lance and Tyler, teenage performance artists of a spiritual turn, seem to be confined to the suburbs (except for one mission on the east side).

I can't tell you what a huge difference it makes to attend Mass in a large, ornate, traditionally designed church, full of statuary, side altars, and beautiful details etched, carved, and painted, in some cases over a century ago, by artisans who probably attended the church themselves. The sense of tradition and continuity is palpable, even in this day of the anti-traditional novus ordo. An extra twenty minutes on the road is a paltry expenditure for such an experience.

Buffalo has many such churches. The following is a short link to a photo collection of three of them. I have been to each, and can testify to the dimensions of what Buffalo Catholics stand to lose:

For the record, St Ann’s is scheduled for closing. So far, Corpus Christi is not. Blessed Trinity is protected by virtue of the fact that it is an historical landmark. It gets state money – on the other hand, it hosts "ecumenical events", such as a concert, in the church itself, by the combined voices of the Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus, and the Buffalo Unitarian-Universalist Chorus. What joyful noise the power of the purse may bring! Dozens of smaller, but no less beautiful churches, are also on the block.

So why are these churches being closed? Because attending Mass has become a matter of convenience, something that has to be fitted in to a schedule of more consequential things, like breakfast at Denny's and the NFL. Mass is not an end in itself. And Bp Kmiec, like dozens of his colleagues, has chosen to take Deep Throat’s advice and follow the money. If the people with money want fast food, McDonald’s and Burger King will give them inferior food fast. If the people with the money want Sunday Mass fast, the diocese will give them nearby churches, short, contentless sermons, battalions of EMHCs to expedite the flow of communion lines, and will even hold the door for them as they scuttle out to their cars with the Host still dry in their mouths. Can valet parking be far behind? I scent the birth pangs of a new ministry!

In one sense, it is hard to blame Bp Kmiec for most of this, even though his managerial stolidity invites it. The hard facts of available priests and available funds cannot be denied, and decisions about them are no less hard. But the managers are making the wrong decisions, IMO. Instead of following the money, they ought to exhort their flock to treasure their diocese’ most beautiful churches. Instead of settling for the basic "protestantized" meeting place, or modernistic art house, they ought to force the flock to nurture their faith in surroundings actually conducive to that end – surroundings lovingly built by their forebears, who knew nothing of EMHCs and the St Louis Jesuits. If anything has to be razed or peddled to Wal-Mart, let it be the worst of the suburban cow palaces, which have contributed so much to the impoverishment of our experience of the Mass.

Topical PS: On January 14, 2006, an article was published in the Buffalo News documenting the request of Catholics led by the local chapter of Una Voce for a traditionalist parish:

According to the article, "Una Voce Buffalo wants to add a priest from outside the diocese, trained in celebrating the traditional Mass, to serve as pastor. Group members say they'll take just about any church the diocese offers, although they would prefer one with Old World architecture". Una Voce even had a particularly distinguished candidate in mind: "Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro Carambula, a native of Uruguay who serves as director of the Rome office of Human Life International, a worldwide pro-life advocacy organization based in Virginia."

Barreiro Carambula confirmed to the News that he was interested in the assignment:

"For years, I have done a work that hopefully I cannot be reproached for, but at the same time it has been mostly intellectual and administrative, so as my life enters into its declining years, I would want to offer to the Lord some real priestly work".

Eighteen months, fifty-odd closing parishes, and one motu proprio later, the Buffalo diocese’ intrepid shepherd of souls has yet to respond.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dale Price is Priceless

Speaking of Catholic-Protestant differences in outlook, Dale Price has a priceless discussion of the nearly antithetically different perceptions of Catholics and Protestants on the Virgin Mary -- utterly hilarious as well as trenchant: "The woman who is not there" (Dyspeptic Mutterings, May 17, 2007).

[Hat tip to K.K.]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cardinal Walter Kasper: Helping or Hindering the CDF?

Christopher has posted an article, "Cardinal Walter Kasper: Helping or Hindering the CDF?" (Against the Grain, July 14, 2007). He invites comments, criticism, agreement or disagreement with his conclusion. He says he was reading section #22 of Unitatis redintegratio, and the 'tone' of the passage leaped out at him -- not at all "let's celebrate the positive elements of Protestantism and the 'protestant eucharist'" but a not-so-subtle call for full communion with the Church. He asks whether it's just him (Christopher) or whether others see Kasper as minimizing this in his presentation of the CDF's document? (Well, he notes, at least Kasper didn't give any interviews to papers expressing how "offended" he was this time around, as he did in 2000).

Reformational Philosophy

The Dutch Reformed tradition in philosophy -- often called "Reformational Philosophy" (not to be confused with the "Reformed Epistemology" of Alvin Plantinga, et al., which is an independent development in the Dutch Reformed tradition of Anglo-American analytic philosophy -- has produced a wealth of societies and journals and theorists stemming from Calvinistic tradition of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck and the seminal philosophical work of Herman Dooyeweerd (pictured left) and D.H.Th. Vollenhoven (pictured right) at the Free University of Amsterdam in the last century. Philosophical societies include the Stichting voor Reformatorische Wijsbegeerte (Society for Reformational Philosophy) and the professional journal, Philosophia Reformata. Other related sites include that of The Dooyeweerd Center for Christian Philosophy (Redeemer College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada), Studies relating to Hermann Dooyeweerd (J. Glenn Friesen, Calgary, Alberta, Canada), Herman Dooyeweerd (Steve Bishop, Bristol, UK), The Dooyeweerd Pages (Andrew Basden, Salford, UK), Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) (Philip Blosser, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC), and numerous other links. Of recent interest is the launching of a new electronic periodical, Aspects of Reformational Philosophy, Vol. 1 (2007), No. 1. Philosophers from a Catholic background may be interested in the work on Dooyeweerd by the Jesuit, Fr. J. Marlet, Grundlinien der Kalvinistischen "Philosophie der Gesetzesidee" als Christlicher Transzendentalphilosophie (Munchen: Karl Zink, 1954), which has interesting chapters comparing Dooyeweerd with St. Thomas Aquinas.

A number of sites promote the published work of the premiere Dutch Reformed philosopher, Herman Dooyeweerd. Among these one finds, for example, Steve Bishop's New Critique site, self-described as "A Guide to Dooyeweerd's New Critique of Theoretical Thought." This site offers introductory summaries not only of Herman Dooyeweerd's major philosophical work, the four-volume New Critique of Theoretical Thought (2nd ed., 1997)Bishop's "Guide" also offers an introduction to and study guide for Dooyeweerd's In the Twilight of Western Thought, a series of lectures Dooyeweerd gave at Princeton in the 1960s. A survey of Amazon links to the works of Dooyeweerd reveals that English-language translators of his works (originally in Dutch) have been busy over the last decades:Although there is not much in English by D.H.Th. Vollenhoven, Dooyeweerd's brother-in-law, one can find the following:Any intellectual wading more than ankle-deep into the work of these Reformational Philosophers soon realizes that he would be a fool to ignore the wealth of theoretical insights yielded by them over the last century. Dooyeweerd is probably among the two or three greatest Christian philosophers of the twentieth century from any tradition, period. I say this as a Catholic with more than a passing acquaintance with the work of Etienne Gilson, Jacques Maritain, Gabriel Marcel, John Courtney Murray, Bernard Longergan, and Alasdair MacIntyre, not to mention Karol Wojtyla. This is a philosophical tradition, in my opinion, with which every serious thinker ought to be acquainted and conversant.

The Pope, the Mass, and Tradition

  • "Pope Benedict uses older ritual for his private Mass" (Catholic World News, July 16, 2007):
    Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news), who recently issued a motu proprio allowing all Catholic priests to celebrate the old Latin Mass, uses the older ritual himself for his private Mass, CWN has learned.

    Informed sources at the Vatican have confirmed reports that the Holy Father regularly celebrates Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal.

    Update:Please note the retraction of this claim based on further information.
  • Sandro Magister, "Liturgy and Ecumenism: How to Apply Vatican Council II" (www.chiesa, July 17, 2007):
    For Benedict XVI, there must not be rupture between the Church’s past and present, but rather continuity. He has given proof of this with his latest decisions – receiving less criticism than foreseen, and much more agreement. The comments of Ruini, Amato, De Marco.
  • "Critical Mass: Life After 'Te Deum'" (Man with black hat, July 16, 2007)
  • "[International] Summorum Pontificum Contact Database" (LumenGentleman Catholic Studies)
  • Thomas E. Woods, "Benedict and the Great Liberation" (
    For several decades, not only the Catholic left but also the "orthodox" Catholic right condemned supporters of the 1962 Missal as disobedient, wicked, schismatic – you name it – because they believed that what was beautiful and venerable yesterday could not cease to be beautiful and venerable today. They likewise found it hard to believe that they were considered a little bit crazy, perhaps even in need of counseling, because they longed for the traditional Mass, the very thing they had been taught their whole lives to venerate. They rightly refused to believe that being Catholic meant living in a scenario straight out of Orwell or Kafka.
  • "Remembering Klaus Gamber" (Rorate Caeli, July 6, 2007)
  • "Remembering Tito Casini -
    'The Mass will rise again!'
    " (Rorate Caeli, July 2, 2007)
  • "Justice" (Rorate Caeli, July 12, 2007):
    The beautiful words of that great French hero of the Traditional Mass, Jean Madiran, who has lived to see the miracle, remembering the names of some who died in the battlefield ...
  • "Fellay speaks" (Rorate Caeli, July12, 2007)
  • "Laguérie speaks" (Rorate Caeli, July 15, 2007) [The Superior of the Institut du Bon Pasteur (Institute of the Good Shepherd-IBP)]

Monday, July 16, 2007

Students texting professors

The following is a student's email message to a professor -- sent, I presume, by means of text messaging from a mobile phone:
Hello Prof,

da # 3 xtra credit which you hav 2 read bout da delany sister is it two pages n double spaced?

Of course, those of us in academe love teaching because of the respect we get from our students. You know it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Iraq: What's at stake?

A reader sent the following link to an article by an Englishman and resident of London: Andrew Roberts "At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life" (The Christian Science Monitor, July 12, 2007). The subtitle reads: "Unless the English-speaking peoples step up, they'll lose the great struggle against radical, totalitarian Islam." It recalls for me the outlook of Harry Crocker III in some of his Crisis Magazine articles. Crocker would doubtless be branded a "neocon" by some. Roberts is not a Catholic or even discernably Christian. But they share a common affection for Western tradition in some sense. See what you think.

[Hat tip to J.W.]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

An Old Guard perspective on recent changes in the Church

The Rev. William Curlin (pictured right, below), now 79 years old and "bishop emeritus" of Charlotte's Catholic diocese, marked his 50th year anniversary of service in the Catholic Church by a celebration at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte recently. An article by Tim Funk, "Celebrating his golden anniversary" (Charlotte Observer, May 28, 2007), gave an account of the event. Funk, after describing the exuberance of Curlin, also noted that he had a serious point too:
. . . that conservatives calling for a return to the church's old ways -- stern ritualism, Latin Masses and personal piety instead of social action -- are missing the Gospel spirit.

Curlin said he lived through the church's "good ol' days" -- and they weren't all that good.

"No women were allowed in the sanctuary," Curlin told the congregation Sunday. "And the (Latin) language? Honestly, we priests didn't speak it. We took exams in it and then forgot it."

That all changed in the 1960s with Vatican II, a conference that modernized the church, banishing Latin and calling on the laity to take a bigger role.

"Suddenly," Curlin said approvingly, "it was our Masses, not just Father's Masses."
Funk goes on to note that Curlin's comments come at a time when U.S. Catholic seminaries are graduating increasingly conservative future priests, who are more skeptical of Vatican II. He also notes that the newest U.S. bishops named by the Vatican -- including those now presiding over the Charlotte and Raleigh dioceses -- tend to be to the "right" of their predecessors. Funk observes:
In an interview last week, Curlin called his successor, Bishop Peter Jugis (pictured left), who was installed in 2003, "very prayerful, very intelligent." And whenever the two meet, which Curlin said is rare, "he's very kind."

But when asked about Jugis' most controversial decision -- directing that the feet of men, but not women, could be washed during Holy Thursday services -- Curlin said he did it differently.

"When I first came (to Charlotte), the priests asked me about washing women's feet. I said, 'What is the problem? I've always done that,'" he said. "I said, 'Do the pastoral thing.' So, if the priest wanted to or if he didn't -- it was up to him. He's the pastor. I didn't make any decrees."
Rev. Curlin is in many ways a good a decent man and was in many ways a good and decent bishop. I have met him. I have heard him preach on several occasions. I have heard him speak at conferences. He is genuinely exuberant about his faith, talks almost constantly about Jesus (I sometime wonder whether this might not be for the benefit of Evangelical Protestants who might be listening to him) and about his personal meetings with the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Yet his laissez-faire "pastoral" approach, as well as his views and assumptions, clearly reflect the perspective of the Old Guard generation who presided over the revolutionary changes of Vatican II and its aftermath. His less-than-sanguine view of pre-Vatican II Catholicism and his enthusiasm for the post-Conciliar changes -- getting rid of the dusty old, dead-language of Latin, and all the old patriarchal exclusions of women from the sanctuary and from Maundy Thursday foot washings, and the like -- speak to an ebullient embrace of the democratization of the Church that many others see as highly problematic. These others would regard this Old Guard outlook as animated more by the populist spirit of the times (stemming from the cultural revolution of the 1960s) -- identified by some with the "Spirit of Vatican II" -- than by an historically informed familiarity with Catholic Tradition.

It goes without saying that statements condemning the pre-Vatican II exclusion of women from the sancturary plays well to crowds informed by secular media-spun values, just like statements praising the post-Vatican II promotion of active participation of women in the sanctuary. Likewise with dismissive condescention towards Latin and uncritical acceptance the vernacular, etc. The relevant question left unanswered is: What was the rationale for the old rules? Funk, not surprisingly, offers no discussion of this question, likely because he was as oblivious to it as most contemporary Catholics seem to be. Certainly Curlin didn't raise it. One wonders how many rank-and-file Catholics would know the answer.

If the majority of Catholics acquire their 'schema' of Catholicism from the public media in much the same way an individual catches a cold -- that is, without nary a thought -- it should not be surprising that Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio liberalizing the use of the old Latin Mass will be regarded by many uncomprehendingly, as a reactionary throw-back to the pre-Vatican II "dark ages." At its farthest extremity, one finds the most brazen expression of this sort of outlook in the kind of hyperbole exemplified by Fr. Joseph O'Leary's dissident essay, "Motu Proprio Madness" (July 7, 2007), in which he begins with a parody of a medical diagnosis of Benedict as a man suffering from a "mental illness," obsessively preoccupying himself with the Tridentine Mass as a pathological "fetish."1 But even among generally mainstream, non-dissident Catholics, it will not surprise me if very few respond to the Holy Father's initiatives on behalf of overcoming the liturgical "rupture" with liturgical tradition with anything more a shallow puddle of understanding.

Yet there are plenty of reasons for optimism if one takes the long view. The Old Guard is rapidly graying and passing from the scene. The Holy Father, himself an octogenarian, is systematically preparing the soil for a new harvest of tradition. May God bless and reward his efforts.

  1. See O'Leary's well-deserved fisking by Barbara Nicolosi, who classifies him as a GHPWLALHF (= Grey-Haired Priest Who Long Ago Lost His Faith) in her post, "Isn't it hard for you to kick against the goad?" (Church of the Masses, July 7, 2007) [back]

An Evangelical responds

Stan Guthrie, writing for a flagship Evangelical publication, has just published a response to the CDF's recent reiteration of traditional Catholic ecclesiology in an op-ed piece entitled "The Reformation Isn't Over" (Christianity Today, Liveblog, July 11, 2007).

This is the kind of piece that tells you that your closest allies may be those with whom you have your most articulate disagreements. Reading the CDF's statement that "ecclesial communities originating from the Reformation [i.e. Protestant congregations] are ... not churches in the proper sense of the word," Guthrie responds:
Some Protestants have taken offense. Not me.

I would have been far more worked up if Benedict had said (to borrow a phrase from Khan in Star Trek II) that we are all just "one big, happy fleet." You were expecting him to endorse Willow Creek? He is the pope, after all.

In this age of mushy moral equivalence, I think drawing some bright lines is helpful (even if I disagree with where the pope drew them).
Guthrie goes on to spell out areas of agreement and disagreement between the classical theological positions of Rome and Protestantism, then concludes:
By all means, let's keep talking, remembering that there can be no real dialogue without difference. And let's keep working together to better society and build (as John Paul II said) a culture of life. We Protestants and Catholics may differ on religious doctrine, but in our best moments we are united in our desire to glorify God by serving our fellow human beings.

So to the pope who isn't afraid to ruffle some feathers, I respectfully say, "Thank you, sir. May we have another?"
Now there's a worthy opponent: he may be dead opposed to Catholic teachings on papal infallibility, ecclesiastical authority, transubstantiation, and the like; but, like Metropolitan Kirill (cf. "Moscow reacts," Musings, July 11, 2007) he's very clearly an ally in the war against what Benedict has called the "dictatorship of relativism." Thank you, Mr. Guthrie!

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Moscow Reacts

Metropolitan Kirill comments on the Vatican's controversial document on ecclesiology, offering a rather favorable Russian Orthodox reaction to the Holy See's document on the Church, published July 10. Kirill basically states that the Vatican's "honest" position furthers dialogue ("Moscow Reacts," Inside the Vatican Newsflash, July 11, 2007):
"For an honest theological dialogue to happen, one should have a clear view of the position of the other side," because "it helps understand how different we are," he said. Basically, the Vatican's current document has nothing new and is in "full conformity with the doctrine of the Catholic Church," Metropolitan Kirill said.
Now there's a clear-headed response that bodes well for genuine ecumenical dialogue and better mutual understanding!

[Hat tip to S.F.]

Quotable . . .

"To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness; though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost."

-- Gustave Flaubert (pictured left)

"To succeed in society it is not enough to be stupid. You must also be well-mannered."

-- Voltaire (pictured right)

On the Motu Proprio

[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli, Fr. Z, and S.M.]

Pretre rejeté

"I have always made a mess of things in my life. I had the intellectual capacity to make a brilliant agnostic, but converted to religion. I had studied to become an international banker, then used my inheritance to build schools and churches. Finally, while Secretary of the Conferences on Higher Studies, I was listed for episcopal election but criticised Teilhard de Chardin as heterodox. Here I am, a priest rejected, unusable even as a curate or convent chaplain, utterly good for nothing."

-- Father Houghton, Rejected Priest

Thus did Bryan Houghton -- convert, priest and author -- assess his life and times in his autobiography Pretre rejeté (Dominique Martin Marin, 1990). In a brief tribute to Fr. Bryan Houghton (Wikipedia, French) entitled "The Rejected Priest" (Una Voce), R. Michael McGrade reviews the story told by this singular priest:
A blend of his renowned wit and understated British humour, penetrating insights on the state of the Church and a quality of prose second-to-none, it was the last of three remarkable books written during his lengthy, self-imposed exile in southern France. The consummate English gentleman - refined, erudite and of independent means - Father Houghton 'emigrated' to the little city of Viviers in 1969 where he resided, in a fascinating apartment within a stone tower of an ancient "chateau", where he passed to eternal life on November 19th, 1992 in his eighty-second year.
What prompted Fr. Houghton to suddenly quit England after three decades of priestly service and spend the last twenty-some years of his life in a foreign land with neither responsibility nor employment? McGrade tells us:
Liturgical scandals were already commonplace in England prior to the conclusion of Vatican II, burgeoning immediately after the introduction of vernacular language into the Mass in 1963/64. Yet they had not fiddled with the Canon and Fr. Houghton still felt able to offer the Mass of 1964 with a "certain devotion", even as his peers were switching into experimental-mode around him. He wrote, however, to his Bishop, in shrewd anticipation of the liturgical anarchy to come, submitting his resignation "from the day on which they touch the Canon". The Bishop, of course, replied that "nobody is thinking of reforming the Canon" and assured him that the bishops were there precisely in order to prevent it from being touched. "Poor dear Bishop!" wrote Fr. Houghton, "he did not have the slightest idea about what was going to happen". Five years later this 'suspended' resignation was activated and, with the Bishop's approval, he resigned as parish priest of Bury St. Edmunds with effect from midnight 29 November 1969. The following day, the New Mass came into force-they had "touched" the Canon and restricted the Old Mass to retired or aged priests, sine populo (alone and in private).
As soon as he arrived in Viviers, Fr. Houghton contacted the Bishop who gave him permission to say the Old Mass daily, in "private," at the high-altar of the cathedral, barely 100 metres from his residence. Not long afterward, there gathered around him a small congregation of about one hundred faithful for whom he offered Mass each Sunday (with the bishop's permission) in a twelfth century chapel Notre Dame de la Rose. In a tribute to Fr. Houghton, after his death, one female member of this little 'parish' wrote that the faithful who united around him in Viviers:
... were a faithful people who all, in their intimate life, to varying degrees, had suffered the drama related in Bryan Houghton's most beautiful book (Judith's Marriage, Credo House, 1987 - out of print): to suddenly feel that the visible Church - of bureaus and bulletins, conferences and connivances - scorns and disowns so many humble efforts, and obscure sacrifices, so much courageous fidelity and self-denial, all that swept aside as old-fashioned, historically useless, politically non-existent, worthy of a good psychoanalysis... In these bitter times, in a canton of France, some wounded souls, some outraged fathers, some humiliated mothers will have kept the Faith: because a young Englishman, thirty-five years earlier had left his (Anglican) Tradition in order to embrace a higher tradition.
McGrade writes that Fr. Houghton accepted his estrangement and exile with equanimity: "This internal calm, manifested in a gentle reserve more English than the Tower of London, derived from his estimation that the major events of his life were imposed on him; that he had not had to choose but only to accept; and consequently, that the principal character of his existence was that ineffable mystery - the grace of God." His definition of himself: "good for nothing." Yet, as McGrade notes, he consented to be nothing; and therein lay his success.

Read the rest of the story, weep, be inspired, pray for the repose of Fr. Houghton's soul, and thank God for His servant Pope Benedict XVI who has restored freedom of worship to those whose consolation is found through the Mass of the ages.

[Hat tip to A.S. and R. Michael McGrade.]

Of related interest:

New woes and lows in American education

Paying students to perform?

Fannie Flono reports, in an article in the Charlotte Observer, that public schools in New York City are planning to begin paying students as much as $500 a year for high performances on city tests. She says that schools in other areas are planning to follow suit and are inclined to try anything -- except more of what's proven to work. ("Paying students will close academic gap?," Charlotte Observer, June 22, 2007). Since when is education valuable only as a means harnessed to arbitrary external ends? This is totally stupid. If it motivates any students at all, it would do so for reasons purely extrinsic to the inherent value of education. While some education is useful as a means to extrinsic ends (like the technical know-how acquired in buisiness math classes, or auto mechanics, or computer science), the basic substance and heart of education (the liberal arts) can only be regarded as perfectly valueless if regarded in this way. You can't do anything really useful with knowledge of literature, history, social studies, etc. You can teach these subjects; but teaching only pushes back the question another step: Why are these subjects worth studying? The answer doesn't lie in anything external to the knowledge acquired. To assess them in that way is to completely miss the point of studying (or teaching) these subjects. They're valuable because such knowledge is worth having for its own sake. It gives you knowledge. In doing so, it makes you more of a human being, giving you more depth and substance, instead of leaving you a "sexy little zero" like Paris Hilton, trapped in the shallow puddle of her own immediate experience. The trouble these days is that so many students would rather be like Paris Hilton than know anything worthwhile. In contrast to Socrates, who said "The unexamined life is not worth living," they assume that the examined life is not worth living.

Cheating now 'epidemic' at Duke?

Evidence of that is provided by Jane Stancill and Eric Ferreri in an article reporting that even at some of the nationes most prestigious, top-ranked graduate schools, cheating is now called "epidemic." For example, at prestigious Duke University's highly regarded Fuqua School of Business, "34 students convicted of cheating could lose their shot at an MBA diploma worth gold" ("More cheat, schools say," The News & Observer, May 10, 2007). This is at schools where students borrow up to $120,000 for a two-year program of study. It's not just Duke. Indiana University's dental school recently announced that it had expelled nine students and suspended 16 for sharing computer passwords to gain access to an exam before they took it; and 21 others were reprimanded for knowing about the scheme but not reporting it. Further, 15 students were recently expelled and three resigned from the U.S. Air Force Academy after sharing test answers through social-networking Web sites. Cynicism is so rampant that some people will rationalizing anything. "I had to make an 'A' or I couldn't graduate." "I had to pass the course, or I couldn't keep my football scholarship." I've seen students with crib notes written all over their palms in tiny letters. Students will write answers out in advance on the inside of a stretched-out rubber band, so that the writing disappears when the band is allowed to contract to its normal size. The lengths of trouble to which students will go to cheat and the ingenuity they will expend on strategies for cheating are mind boggling. If a fraction of this effort were spent on cracking open and reading a book, they would be doing swimmingly well. Yet I've had students come up to me and brazenly ask whether they could borrow a copy of my text for a course half-way through the semester, because they hadn't yet purchased a copy for themselves. For the first time in my two decades of teaching, three years ago I had a class of 35 freshmen in which 17 failed the course. The jig is up, folks. As a general culture, we're on the greased skids to knuckle-dragging mouth-breathing idiocy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

America's Party Girl

A little over a year ago, when I administered a cultural knowledge survey to my classes at Lenoir-Rhyne College, I learned that more students could identify Paris Hilton than could identify a classical music composer whose name begins with 'B', the U.S. Secretary of Defense, the continent on which the country of Chad is located, or even recognize that there is no state East of North Carolina. Nearly 50% of students had no idea where Chad is located. Of those, 26% guessed that it was located somewhere in South America. Nearly 47% didn't know that there is no state East of North Carolina. Most of those who failed to identify the Secretary of Defense guessed that it was Condoleezza Rice. Of those who couldn't identify a classical composer whose name begins with 'B', the vast majority could identify the newest American Idol. However, far and away the highest percentage of correct answers were to the question: "I am Paris Hilton's former best friend, and I have an on-again, off-again relationship with Adam Goldstein (AKA D.J. AM). Who am I?" 68.1% knew the answer: Nicole Ritchie. And if these knew who Nicole Ritchie is, then obviously even more knew Paris Hilton. Paris Hilton! Why?

Here's what Rob Long has to say:
"She's a 26-year-old, highly sexualized halfwit with nothing, really, to her credit. She's silly and pointless, and whether she knows it or not, more often the butt of the joke than in on the joke. We don't know for certain what the next five or ten years will bring for this tiny-brained, sexy little zero, but we're all pretty sure it doesn't end in Oslo, at the Nobel Peace prize ceremony. It doesn't end in the State Department, as the Ambassador Plenipotentiary to this hotspot or that. It doesn't end in the lobby of Sequoia Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture-capital fund, with the specs to a revolutionary new search-engine algorithm in her Bottega Veneta attaché. It doesn't end with her on the shuttle to Boston with a copy of Grant's Interest Rate Observer.

"No, it ends in a liquor store, or a drug overdose, or a car accident, or, worse, in obscurity. It ends as a punchline to a series of monologue jokes by Conan and Jay and Dave and Craig and Jimmy and Jon and Stephen and whoever else needs to fill 30 seconds of TV time with a fast, easy (just like Paris! See? Even I'm doing it!) laugh line about a rich, stupid, sad, almost-30 skank.

"... And, honestly, what would we have her do? The poor thing doesn't have a brain in her head. She's purpose-built for mindless partying and promiscuous sex -- all hair and smoldering looks and shapely shapes, without a meaningful bone in her body....

"Why do we want to see her humiliated so deeply? Why do we relish the sight of her slinking off to jail? Why does she offend us so? ...

"God forbid ... What if she finds Jesus, or global warming, or -- it's almost too awful to contemplate -- Darfur in there? Would we really prefer the serious, concerned Paris -- she'll wear serious glasses and trim suits, push down the curves and stop the sexy pouts -- appearing with all of the other celebridiots, droning away about the planet and the poor and the importance of buying local?

"Paris is our party girl.... Of the many, many, many social ills we now confront as a country and a culture, Paris Hilton ranks up there with Public Gum-Chewing and Insufficient Attention to the Beauty of Carribbean Dance...."
It almost makes you want to weep.

[Acknowledgement: Rob Long, "American Party Girl: The prisonerette in L.S." National Review, July 9, 2007, pp. 35-36.]

Fr. Berg interview - FSSP Superior General

Brian Mershon has an interview worth reading, entitled "Full Traditional Parish Life Most Beneficial for Diocese & Faithful: FSSP Superior General Grants First Public Interview" (Remnant, July 5, 2007).

Pugio Fidei - the dagger of faith

That is the name of a new Catholic website by Ben Douglass: Pugio Fidei - the dagger of faith. The name is taken from the magnum opus of medieval Dominican orientalist Raymond Martini, which was the standard manual of the time for Dominican missionaries to the Muslims and Jews. The book and this website have the same mission, viz., to "take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph 6:17), and win conversions.

Essays on Scripture, liturgy, apologetics, the spiritual life, and culture. Updated monthly.

All the best to you, Pugio Fidei !!

What? A 'gay' Luther?

Mary Zeiss Stange has a strange piece entitled, "When it comes to gays, 'What would Luther do?'" (Opinion, USA Today).

[Hat tip to S.F.]

More Catholic than ...

Check out The Anglican Breviary, which is almost identical to the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic Breviary, but with the slightly different, elegant translation into Elizabethan English and Scripture readings from the King James Bible, and some Propers from the Book of Common Prayer. In large part, The Anglican Breviary substantially preserves the traditional Catholic breviary with its beloved old prayers and readings. The Q & A pages states that "certain priests of the Roman Catholic Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter have recommended the Anglican Breviary to their laity as an acceptable form of the Divine Office." Also read the review of The Anglican Breviary written for Touchstone magazine by Fr. Addison H. Hart, a Roman Catholic priest: "'Prayer Rhythms' Redivivus" (Touchstone, June, 2002)

[Hat tip to A.S.]

CDF puts lid on ecclesiological revisionism

Sandro Magister, "Summer Assignment: Restudy the Doctrine of the Church" (www.chiesa, Rome, July 10, 2007) summarizes:
This is what is prescribed by a new document from the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. The Orthodox and Protestants are cautioned: the Catholic Church is the only one in which subsist the "essential constitutive elements" of the Church intended by Christ. Turbulence in view, in ecumenical dialogue.
In its document, entitled "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church," the CDF answers five questions, briefly thus (summarized):
1. Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: No. It only "developed, deepened and more fully explained it."

2. What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: "Christ 'established here on earth' only one Church and instituted it as a 'visible and spiritual community' that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. ... ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church. ... the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone ..."

3. Why was the expression "subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?

Response: This "does not change the doctrine on the Church," but only elucidates "the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth.'"

4. Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term "Church" in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?

Response: "Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds," yet because these Churches are not "in communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, venerable Christian communities lack something" proper to the fullness of ecclesial unity.

5. Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: Because "these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church."
A substantial commentary on the document follows.

You gotta see this!

If you haven't, you've gotta see this: "Summorum Pontificum: A Little Celebration" (U-Tube). I found it over at Christopher's website at "'Motu Proprio' Summorum Pontificum" (Against the Grain, July 7, 2007).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Blogging holiday for thanksgiving

Te Deum laudamus
Te dominum confitemur.
Te æternum Patrem
omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes angeli,
tibi cæli: et universæ Potestates.
Tibi Cherubim
incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus:
Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra
majestates gloriæ tuæ.
Te gloriosus
Apostolorum chorus.
Te Prophetarum
laudabilis numerus.
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbum terrarum
sancta confitetur Ecclesia.
Patrem immensæ majestatis:
Venerandum tuum, verum,
et unicum Filium.
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriæ, Christe, tu Patris
sempiternus es Filius.

Tu ad liberandum
suscepturus hominem,
non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu devicto mortis aculeo,
aperuisti credentibus
regna cælorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes,
in gloria Patris.
Judex crederis, esse venturus.
Te ergo quæsumus, tuis famulis subveni,
quos pretioso
sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac
cum Sanctis tuis in Gloria numerari.

Salvum fac populum tuum Domine,
et benedic hereditati tuæ.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos,
et extolle illos usque in æternum.
Per singulos dies, benedicimus te,
et laudamus nomen tuum in sæculum sæculi.
Dignare Domine
die isto sine peccato nos custo dire.
Miserere nostri Domine, miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua Domine super nos,
quem admodum speravimusin te.
In te Domine speravi
non confundar in æternum.

English translation:

We praise Thee, O God,
we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord;
all the earth doth worship Thee,
the Father everlasting.
To Thee all Angels cry aloud,
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein;
to thee Churubim and Seraphim
continually do cry:
Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord God of Sabaoth,
heaven and earth are full of the
Majesty of thy Glory.

The glorious company
of the Apostles praise thee,
the goodly fellowship
of the Prophets praise thee,
the noble army of Martyrs praise thee,
the holy Church throughout all the world
doth acknowledge thee:
the Father of an infinite Majesty,
Thine honourable, true,
and only Son,
also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.

When thou tookest upon thee
to deliver man,
thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
thou didst open the Kingdom
of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God
in the Glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants
whom thou hast redeemed with thy
precious blood.
Make them to be numbered
with thy Saints in glory everlasting.

O Lord, save thy people
and bless thine heritage.
Govern them, and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee,
and we worship thy Name,
ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord,
to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us: have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us:
as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted:
let me never be confounded.
[See Wikipedia article, "Te Deum," for history and details; Wikimedia audio download: Tonus Sollemnis - Gregorian Chant (help·info) ]

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pontiff to bishops:

“Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows ...”

[Hat tip to J.K.]

Benedict: Pray for me . . .

Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio establishing the liberalization of the Traditional form of the Roman Rite and its rules of implementation, along with his explanatory letter, will be published tomorrow (July 7, 2007).

Many of us have long awaited and prayed for this day. Let us remember the Holy Father in our prayers. Let us also pray for the impossible, for a warm and welcoming reception of the Holy Father's Motu Proprio.

Let us also pray for joy -- joy on this occasion, as well as joy in the good will and wisdom of the Holy Father in leading the Church to this pass. Finally, whatever its reception, let us pray that the Motu Proprio may, in due course, powerfully help to facilitate a renewal of liturgical faith throughout the Church and a renewed desire to worship God in the spirit of truth, which is the root of all liturgical renewal.

Of related interest:
  • "Motu proprio notes: Remembering Klaus Gamber" (Rorate Caeli, July 6, 2007)

  • "Motu Proprio notes: A warm reception?..." (Rorate Caeli, July 4, 2007)

  • "So about that Motu Propio . . ." (Against the Grain, July 2, 2007)

  • "A Call to Prayer and the Watching of Our Tongues in this time of Grace" (New Liturgical Movement/Novus Motus Liturgicus, June 30, 2007) - Some good advice from Shawn Tribe:
    ... we are entering into a period where the Devil will certainly be trying to sow discord rather than see greater unity and progress accomplished.... We need to resist this steadfastly more than ever.

    The liturgical issue is front and centre. There has been much battle done, and emotions can run high. Indeed, recall Fr. Zuhlsdorf's now famed "rules of engagement" as well. Be joyful. Celebrate! Let that shine through so that the excitement might become contagious. But while we do that, guard also against pettiness, mischaracterizations, accusations, polemics and needless absolutizations when disagreements are raised.
[Photo credit: Hat tip to Rorate Caeli.]

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rambo 4

As my son Jon says, tongue-in-cheek, "None of us is man enough to watch this movie." It's interesting how Sylvester Stallone attempts to express his newfound seriousness about his Christian faith in film. I suppose -- as my other son, Christopher, says -- that this is where the "saving Christian missionaries in Burma" plotline comes in -- and perhaps he couldn't quite go after the jihadis without the Hollywood PC-police jumping down his throat. Still, the recitation of the Franciscan prayer beseeching God to make one "an instrument of Thy peace" in the context of the slaughter of warfare is a bit wrenching, to say the least. Not to speak of Rambo's line, as true as it may be, that "when you're pushed . . . killing is easier than breathing."

Rambo 4 trailer

[Hat tip to C.B.]

A negative view of the Latin Mass

On the eve of Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio, it might be interesting to consider a negative view of the Traditional Latin Mass. Who do you think said the following?
[That the old Mass was] a lonely hierarchy facing a group of laymen each one of whom is shut off in his own missal or devotional book. [That it was] archaeological [and] so encrusted that the original image could hardly be seen ... [That it was therefore] a closed book to the faithful [and that this was why the liturgy had been marginal to many of the greatest Catholics, why the great mystics, like St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avilla had drawn little or nothing of their spiritual nourishment from the Mass].
Those words, according to Eamon Duffy, were spoken before the Second Vatican Council by the same man who has written time and again of his deep love and nostalgic love of the liturgy of his childhood, namely, the young Joseph Ratzinger (see Eamon Duffy, "Benedict XVI and the Eucharist," New Blackfriars, Vol 88, Issue 1014, pp. 194-212. Duffy gives as his source for Ratzinger's remarks the following: John L. Allen, "Cardinal Ratzinger," Continuum 2000, pp. 73–5.). The article is worth reading.

[Hat tip to Sun & Wine.]

Free speech and Islam

In an article entitled "Endangered Salman" (Hudson Institute, July 2, 2007), Paul Marshall addresses the issue of free speech, which, he suggests, is under assault from London to Cairo:
On June 16, Queen Elizabeth announced in the annual birthday honors list that author Salman Rushdie, previously accused of "insulting Islam," would be knighted. At the same time, five Egyptian Muslims, also accused of "insulting Islam," languished in the jails and interrogation rooms of Egyptian State Security.

The Queen's announcement caused violent protests in many countries and renewed death threats, and received extensive media coverage. The imprisonment elicited little protest or coverage. Both events teach important lessons, but the latter is politically more significant.

The reaction to the protests over the knighthood reveals an erosion of confidence in the West. Back in 1989, when Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, issued his fatwa declaring that all Muslims had a duty to kill Rushdie, the writer was defended and feted. Politicians vied to appear with him and shake his hand. When I passed through Amsterdam airport, the bookstores had every possible display space filled with copies of Rushdie's Satanic Verses. Free people declared that freedom of speech would not be surrendered in the face of threat and violence.

This time around, there were sporadic articles in Rushdie's defense, but no governments or politicians rushed to his side offering outspoken support. Many more now seem to regard him as a bit of an embarrassment, someone who makes unnecessary trouble, just like the writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, those Danish cartoonists, and maybe the pope. Why do these people persist in provoking Muslims? There is a palpable loss of nerve in the defense of freedom.

Equally worrying is that the way the "insulting Islam" story has been framed--freedom of speech versus insulting a religion--misses the crucial political question: Can there be open debate about Islam, especially among Muslims? ...
Well worth reading.

Of related interest:[Hat tip to E.E. for the Paul Marshall article, and to J.W. for the American Thinker and Islam Review links.]

Al Qaeda and the US Marines: What the mainstream meadia isn't telling you

1. The "bloody massacre" at Haditha allegedly carried out by the U.S. Marines a while back may turn out to have been nothing of the sort. Evidence is coming to light in the formal investigation that may exonerate the Marines involved.

2. Al Qaeda massacred a whole village on the outskirts of Baqubah on July 1, 2007, but this has not been widely reported in the media. Why?

In war, there's always enough blame to go around all the way around. But some balance, at least occasionally, would be nice in the media.

[Hat tip to Christopher]

Monday, July 02, 2007

Thoughts on golf . . .

"I regard golf as an exercise in Scottish pointlessness designed for people who aren’t strong enough to throw telephone poles at each other."

– Florence King

546 comments and counting ...

I've never seen the likes of it. The post entitled "For the record: an exchange between Scott Hahn & Dale Vree" (Musings, June 8, 2007) now shows, as of this posting, 546 comments. Even back at the height of the controversies involving the domination of our comboxes by the dissident priest, Fr. Joseph O'Leary, the numbers hardly ever topped 200. Amazing.