Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fr. Z: Sacrosanctum Concilium a traditionalist document?

Wouldn't you love Fr. John Zuhlsdorff to expostulate a bit more on this: "Wholly Ours" (WDTPRS, August 30, 2010):
In a conversation with a friend today it became clearer and clearer to me how the Second Vatican Council’s document on liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, is entirely the property of … on the side of the traditional/conversative argument.

The usual narrative which has predominated over the last decades is that Sacrosanctum Concilium is the driving force behind liberal reforms.

Sacrosanctum Concilium is a conservative document which was hijacked.
Visit the Comment Box for some lively discussion.

Then compare the following: "Holy Emmentaler!" (Rorate Caeli, August 30, 2010):
No document of the last Council was more consequential than its first, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium).

Many, particularly the loudest defenders of the "Reform of the Reform", simply say that the document was never properly understood, or properly applied. Was that so? Mr. Christopher Ferrara examines the loopholes in Sacrosanctum Concilium in an excellent analysis published by The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

Evangelical Catholic converts: a look back

Twenty years ago I wrote the following review of a book about evangelical converts to the Catholic Faith. I cannot remember whether it was before or after my own reception into the Church in 1993, though I'm inclined to think I wrote it around 1990 when I was an associate prof at Lenoir-Rhyne University (then College) in North Carolina. It was never published, and I had forgotten about it until I ran across an old file preserved on a flash drive. It is reproduced here simply as a record of my own interests and thinking at the time. As some of the principal contributors (Dale Vree, Sheldon Vanauken, Tom Howard, Malcolm Muggeridge, Walker Percy, John Michael Talbot, Pat Boone's daughter Cherry Boone O'Neill, etc.) may be household names to at least some of you, I expect it could be of some interest as well. Note that although I refer to these as "evangelicals," they come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, from the once Reformed, then Neo-Marxist Dale Vree to the once neo-pagan Sheldon Vanauken who came to Rome via C.S. Lewis at Oxford. All very interesting. The book is:
Dan O'Neill, ed., The New Catholics: Contemporary Converts Tell Their Stories,with a Foreword by Walker Percy (Crossroad, 1989, pp. xv + 187; $8.95 [1990 prices!] paperback).
The review is posted at "The New Catholics" (Book Notices, August 30, 2010).

Word for the day

Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress....
But then I repeat myself.

-- Mark Twain

Is a liberal arts education for everyone?

David Warren, "Universities: Who Needs 'Em?" (InsideCatholic, August 23, 2010):
... But what I find more interesting, in reading accounts of the mediaeval universities, is the speed with which they allied themselves with Bishops against Pope, with Court against Church, with Law against Spirit, and, when they were being spiritual, with the spirit of secession in all of its instinctive and demonic forms.

Conversely, they were from their beginnings the flag-bearers of bureaucracy and regulation....

More deeply, by freeing students from the oversight and discipline of religious orders, and then creating a class of professors out of former students, the mediaeval universities were formulating a new kind of man -- the public intellectual, quite full of himself -- the sharp edge of whose intelligence would be honed to serve adolescent dreams of power and control, with endless voyages into "pure theory."

One hears the echo through the ages of Benedetto Gaetani, papal legate and future Pope Boniface VIII, gone to Paris in 1290 to express the exasperation of the Roman Curia -- not only with the intensely meddlesome political posturing of the university, but also with its venal attachments to worldly vested interests. To a professoriate flouncing their reputation for the "higher" education, Gaetani cries: "It is all trivial!"

And to the smug looks on many hundred faces, he declares: "We are called by God not to acquire learning to dazzle mankind, but to save our souls!"

Now -- please -- I am not against learning, and to some degree, not even against learning as an end in itself. Nor am I actually against universities, in principle; or at least, not yet. But I would like to wonder aloud if the time is not approaching to pull the fiscal plugs on all of them, and start over from the monastery again.
This is food for thought, especially in light of the talks to which we were recently treated by Fr. Joseph Koterski, S.J. (Fordham) at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. One of the more interesting things he did was to question whether most Catholics need any theology at all, let alone philosophy. Rather, what they need is catechesis and spiritual formation. He contrasted the "learnables" with the "developmentals," suggesting that the latter have been overly neglected in our culture -- especially (but not only) secular culture. Of course, he added, seminarians need the "learnables" too, and even theology and philosophy -- but perhaps not in the way they're often taught, where they are taught apart from the practical concerns of the "developmentals."

In one sense, I think that the value of the liberal arts has been unduly marginalized in modern times by disciplines with demonstrable utilitarian value -- professional programs in business, computer science, engineering, economics, physical therapy, nursing and restaurant and hotel management come to mind. By contrast, the problem with liberal arts disciplines is that they have no demonstrable utilitarian value -- things like literature, history, art, philosophy, and theology come to mind. Further, since the only kind of value recognized these days seems to be utilitarian value, the liberal arts are generally assumed to be valueless. What is not recognized, as Josef Pieper would be quick to point out, is that some things have value for their own sake, as ends in themselves. To understand the nature of human beings and the real world has considerable value, even if it has no demonstrable utilitarian value. Knowing who we are, where we came from, and our purpose in life, is important in itself, even if it doesn't get us a job or earn us any money.

Having said that, I firmly agree with the premise that a liberal arts education may not be for everybody, anymore than everyone is called to the priesthood or to a career as professor of philosophy. What every everyone needs for his salvation, however, is a proper catechesis in order to be formed in the knowledge and service of our Lord Jesus Christ through His Church (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church). What everyone needs to be more fully human, furthermore, is something that Mortimer Adler spent the last half of his life promoting, which is a basic grasp of the common wisdom of philosophy, not philosophy as a specialized discipline, but philosophy on the level of commonly accessible concepts by which to understand and talk about the world and human nature (see his Aristotle for Everybody).

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lansing Tridentine Mass Community Established

Tridentine Community News (August 22, 2010):
In a move consistent with His Excellency’s previous support of the Traditional Latin Mass, Diocese of Lansing Bishop Earl Boyea has established a new Extraordinary Form Mass Community in the city of Lansing, Michigan. To be called the Blessed John XXIII Community, the group will begin to hold Masses this fall in the lower level of St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing, pictured below. The news was significant enough to garner an article in the August 10, 2010 edition of the Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper.

Several months ago, Bishop Boyea asked Fr. Jeffrey Robideau to start assessing interest in such a community. Until a few years ago, Fr. Robideau had been pastor of St. Joseph Church in Jackson and a regular celebrant of the Tridentine Mass held in that church. Jackson and Flint have so far been the only two sites of Extraordinary Form Masses in the Lansing diocese, both of which are quite a distance from Lansing.

Approximately 60 people attended the planning meetings and committed to attending a Lansing Latin Mass Community. Bishop Boyea recently asked Fr. Robideau to expand his role and be the chaplain of the community, certainly logical in light of Fr. Robideau’s experience with the Tridentine Mass in Jackson.

Possibly the First Latin Mass Parish in Michigan

Not only is this significant news in and of itself, there is an interesting sidebar to this effort: Should there be sufficient attendance and financial support – far from guaranteed, we might add – there is a possibility that the Blessed John XXIII Community could evolve into the first full Tridentine Mass parish in Michigan.

In Canada and the U.S., there are several Extraordinary Form parishes. All but a handful are administered by priests from the Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King, the GM and Ford of priestly associations devoted to the Traditional Liturgy. Only Mater Ecclésiæ Parish in Berlin, New Jersey and perhaps one or two others are run by diocesan clergy. While it is pure speculation at this point, it is not inconceivable that the Lansing operation might become one of this rare breed, a fully Tridentine Mass parish staffed by diocesan priests.

We commend Bishop Boyea for taking this initiative, and ask our readers to pray for His Excellency and for Fr. Robideau. For further information about the Blessed John XXIII Community, see Fr. Robideau’s web site: www.getholy.com

Bishop Boyea to Celebrate Two Tridentine Masses

Speaking of Bishop Boyea, he will be celebrating two Holy Masses in the Extraordinary Form on the same day, Sunday, October 10. The first will be at 11:00 AM in Lansing’s St. Mary Cathedral’s lower level chapel, to formally open the Blessed John XXIII Community. The second will be at 4:00 PM at All Saints Church in Flint, to mark the anniversary of the Flint Tridentine Mass.

Monthly Architectural Column Debuts

Jason Grossi, the member of Windsor’s Assumption Church’s Tridentine Mass Community who has been named lead architect for the church’s $9,800,000 restoration, has begun writing a column explaining progress on the project. The column appears in the monthly Assumption Heritage Trust Foundation newsletter, which is available at the entrances to Assumption Church. The newsletters have not (yet) been posted on-line, however we will notify you if they are.

This is not a typical renovation project. Matters of historical significance must be taken into account at many stages. The Ontario Heritage Trust, which must approve construction at historic sites, has to be consulted. Jason’s trips to Toronto to meet with the OHT, as well as local historic research, are documented in his columns.

The present edition addresses the matter of the sacristy, which is structurally unsound and may need to be replaced, but which houses historic cabinetry that predates the sacristy itself. The cabinetry will need to be saved, regardless of whatever decision is made about the sacristy itself. Photos are provided in the newsletter for those who do not regularly visit the sacristy.

Sacristy Visits Invited

While we are on the subject, you are always welcome to visit the sacristy at any of our churches. This might be interesting for children as well as for yourself. You can see the myriad of vestments and supplies that are used for various liturgies throughout the year. Please see the priest or one of the altar servers after Mass.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

n addition to the below, High Masses are held every Sunday at St. Josaphat at 9:30 AM and at Assumption in Windsor at 2:00 PM, and on Fourth Sundays at St. Joseph Church at Noon.

Mon. 08/30 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Rose of Lima)
Tue. 08/31 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Raymond Nonnatus)
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for August 22, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Obama's culture war with Christianity, common ground with Islam

A reader sent me the linked article below with this extracted quote: "Obama's de facto culture war with Christianity is of more interest to him than the real and ongoing one with radical Islam."

George Neumayr, "A Relativist, Wrapped in a Muslim, Inside an Agnostic" (American Spectator, August 26, 2010). Excerpts:
Why does a significant chunk of the American electorate think Obama is a Muslim? Let's count some of the reasons: he speaks of his "Muslim roots," says he hails from "generations of Muslims," was born to a line of Muslim males and given by them an Arabic name, went to a Muslim school in Islamic Indonesia, speaks glowingly of Islam whenever he gets the chance, holds a Ramadan dinner in the White House, tells his NASA head to turn the space agency into a Muslim outreach program, and last but not least insults doctrinal Christians routinely.

... Oh well; all is forgotten in politics. But, wait, what did Mitch McConnell say again? "I take him at his word" that he is Christian, said the Senate Republican Minority Leader last Sunday. The left is in no mood to forgive that one, since "his word" counts for so little in the eyes of Republicans like McConnell.

So what religion is Obama? Probably the most generous description of Obama's elusive religious identity, should one take him at "his word" as it appears in his slippery memoirs and speeches, is that he's neither Muslim nor Christian; he's something else.... But perhaps he can be clinically described as a practicing agnostic, with deep roots in and sympathy for Islam, who views his now-professed, politically necessary religion with barely concealed disdain while allowing himself from time to time bursts of syncretistic sophistry and quasi-religious uplift.

At least this much is clear: his greatest fear is not radical Islam abroad but the growth of doctrinal Christianity at home. Imagine if he treated Muslims in the same arrogant manner that his administration treats pro-life Christian doctors, nurses, and pharmacists ...

His de facto culture war with Christianity is of more interest to him than the real and ongoing one with radical Islam. He is the Harvard agnostic and dilettante who stands above all religions, save Islam, and judges their "rationality" and usefulness to the utopia to come. Islam is an intrinsically peaceful religion by his lights, while Christianity, unless it assumes the platform of the Democratic Party and sees Jesus as a forerunner to Saul Alinsky, is dangerously bigoted and an impediment to "progress." Obama's America has a friend in Islam, but Christians can be "un-American," as actor Tom Hanks once described Proposition 8 proponents.

The more irrational a religion, the more Obama-style "rationalists" and relativists like it....

Radical Islam and relativism take different routes of irrationality -- the former adopts "faith" without reason while the latter adopts "reason" without faith -- but come out on the same trail of blood: a culture of death, with daily abortions in the west, suicide bombings in the east, and a "leader of the free world," who reads secularist propaganda at the Huffington Post with memory's ear cocked to the "call of the azaan," blind to both.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Crusaders & Jihadists are not equivalents

Joe Hargrave, "Enough is Enough: The Crusades & The Jihad Are Not Equivalents" (American Catholic, August 26, 2010).

[Hat tip to E.E.]

Global warming, eugenics & geopolitical policy

"Global Warming Unmasked : The Hidden Agenda" offers a lengthy yet, at points, interesting analysis.

From Teilhard on steroids to Newman ad orientem

This is vintage George Rutler -- witty, wise and wonderful -- from his "On the Square" post entitled "The Liturgical Experts’ Long Tassels" (First Things, August 27, 2010).
Under the avalanche of commentary on the new translation of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, just approved by the Vatican, I poke my head above the erudite criticisms, to speak as a man whose entire priesthood has been in parishes. I am not a liturgist and, from the parochial perspective of a pastor who has studied worship much less than he has done it, I risk the tendency of many like me who probably unfairly think that liturgists are the ecclesiastical equivalent of lepidopterists.

A pastor is too busy leading people in worship to attend workshops on how to lead people in worship, and his duties in the confessional prevent him from attending seminars on how to hear confessions. I do know that if I followed the guidelines of one liturgical commission, suggesting that I greet each penitent at the church doors with an open Gospel book and then lead a procession to a reconciliation room which looks more like an occasion of sin than a shrine for its absolution, the number of confessions in the middle of the metropolis where I serve would be severely reduced.

Publicly owned corporations are more accountable to their shareholders than tenured bureaucracies, which may explain why it took the Ford Motor Company only two years to cancel its Edsel, and not much longer for Coca Cola to restore its “classic” brand, while the Catholic Church has taken more than a generation of unstopped attrition to try to correct the mistakes of overheated liturgists. The dawning of the Age of Aquarius is now in its sunset repose and the bright young things who seem to be cropping up now all over the place with new information from Fortescue and Ratzinger, may either be the professional mourners for a lost civilization, or the sparks of a looming golden age.

One thing is certain to a pastor: the only parishioners fighting the old battles are old themselves, their felt banners frayed and their guitar strings broken, while a young battalion is rising, with no animus against the atrophied adolescence of their parents, and only eager to engage a real spiritual combat in a culture of death. They usually are ignorant, but bright, for ignorance is not stupidity.

They care little if the Liturgy is in Latin or English or Sanskrit, as long as they are told how to do it, for they were not told. Some critics of the new translations have warned that the changes are too radical, which is radioactively cynical from people who in the 1960’s wantonly dismantled old verities overnight, in their suburbanized version of China’s Cultural Revolution.

Our Lord warned enough about the experts of his day who loved long tassels, and who swore by the gold of the temple rather than the temple, to stay us from placing too much hope in ritual and texts to save lives. Neglect of the aesthetics of worship is not remedied by the worship of aesthetics. A pastor will sometimes observe an over-reaction to the corruption of the Liturgy, so that ritual becomes theatre and Andrei Rubleyev yields to Aubrey Beardsley. Any group or religious community that is too deliberate about external form sows in itself the seeds of decadence.

Liturgy should be chantable, reverent, and expressive of the highest culture we know, without self-consciousness. Ars est celare artem. In tandem with Ovid, for whom it is art to conceal art, Evelyn Waugh said that Anthony Eden was not a gentleman because he dressed too well. It is typical of some schismatic sects that the more they lapse into heresy, the more ritualistic they become. So one will see pictures of a woman claiming to be a bishop, vested like Pius X on his jubilee.

A genius of the Latin rite has been its virile precision, even bluntness. Contrast this with the unsettled grammar of “alternative opening prayers” in the original books from ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy), whose poesie sounds like Teilhard on steroids.

They were much wordier than the Latin collects or their English equivalents, and gave the impression of having been composed by fragile personalities who had not had a happy early home life. So too, the Prayers of the Faithful cloyingly pursued “themes” usually inspired by an undisciplined concern for air pollution and third world debt.

I think there should be few options in the Liturgy, and no attempt to be “creative,” for that is God’s particular talent. As Vatican II taught in Sacrosanctum Concilium, "[T]here must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”

Unfortunately, we have not yet resolved the problem of the simply bad Lectionary texts. While the Jerusalem Bible and Revised Standard Version are licit, only the Revised New American Bible is accessible for parish use. The Jerusalem Bible is a tool for study but was translated with a tin ear.

I grew up with the King James translation and thus am stunned when Job 38:17 (“Hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?”) is given as “Have you met the janitors of Shadowland?” So Sheol becomes a theme park.

But none of this matches the torture of the trans-gendered RNAB which manages to neuter every creature except Satan who remains male. Our Lord sometimes sounds like the Prince of Wales: “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world …?” and other times like a bored anthropologist: “Two people went up to the temple to pray….” But then the inevitable pronouns kick in and we find out that even after the liturgical gelding, these were men.

The Liturgy by grace changes lives. Any pastor who is blessed with an abundance of priestly vocations in his parish knows that they come in spite of epicene worship, demotic liturgy committees, and flailing song leaders. They simply join the chorus of the Greeks: "Sir, we would see Jesus." I recall a prelate saying that even as a seminarian he hoped one day to be able to say Mass facing the people. It was a revealing statement, inasmuch as when he said Mass he seemed annoyed that the Lord was sometimes getting in the way.

While I am glad for the new and more accurate translation of the Mass, which is not perfection but closer to it than one deserves in an imperfect world, a far more important reform would be the return of the ad orientem position of the celebrant as normative. It is the antidote to the tendency of clerisy to impose itself on the people. When a celebrant at Mass stops and says, “This is not about me,” you may be sure he thinks it may be about him. It would be harder for him to harbor that suspicion were he leading the people humbly to the east and the dawn of salvation.

John Henry Newman was the greatest master of English letters in his century of brilliant English, but he gave no countenance to his vernacular replacing the sacral tongue. That is another matter for another day. But he knew the meaning of cupio dissolvi, and he taught that without such self-abnegation the gift of personality reduces the Passion to pantomime. It was because his priestcraft was also soulcraft, that he solemnly invoked the Sacred Heart at the altar in order to speak "heart to heart" with the people in the street:

“Clad in his sacerdotal vestments, [the priest] sinks what is individual in himself altogether, and is but the representative of Him from whom he derives his commission. His words, his tones, his actions, his presence, lose their personality; one bishop, one priest, is like another; they all chant the same notes, and observe the same genuflections, as they give one peace and one blessing, as they offer one and the same sacrifice.

“The Mass must not be said without a Missal under the priest’s eye; nor in any language but that in which it has come down to us from the early hierarchs of the Western Church. But, when it is over, and the celebrant has resigned the vestments proper to it, then he resumes himself, and comes to us in the gifts and associations which attach to his person.

“He knows his sheep, and they know him; and it is this direct bearing of the teacher on the taught, of his mind upon their minds, and the mutual sympathy which exists between them, which is his strength and influence when he addresses them. They hang upon his lips as they cannot hang upon the pages of his book.”

Father George W. Rutler is pastor of the Church of Our Saviour in New York City and the author most recently of Clouds of Witnesses: Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive. His The Spirit of Vatican II appeared in First Things and He is Not Here, his homily for the Mass for the repose of the soul of Richard John Neuhaus, and Words and Reality in “On the Square.”
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Diverse Perspectives of Traditionalists

Tridentine Community News (August 22, 2010):
A priest reader of this column who does not attend the Extraordinary Form Mass had an interesting conversation with this writer about “reputation”.

This priest suggested that in his diocese, the Traditional Latin Mass had acquired a bad reputation among his brother priests primarily because of the stridency of the Society of St. Pius X, at least as perceived through the media. No matter how much good diocesan-approved Tridentine congregations had accomplished, they were still tainted with an “SSPX reputation”, resulting in priests’ bias against them. While he personally understood that this was an inappropriate association to make, he believes it will take years if not decades for this reputation to be overcome.

In response, this writer pointed out that most Tridentine Mass group members simply love the Mass. There is usually no agenda except a thoughtfully-considered preference for this form of the Sacred Liturgy. To use a phrase we have been repeating oft of late, it is possible to love seafood and not hate steak. Furthermore, one should not confuse one’s opinion of the individuals involved (whether correct or not) with the merits of the Traditional Mass itself. Some beautiful aspects of parish life have been established by Tridentine Mass Communities which may go unnoticed.

Prior to the 2007 Motu Proprio, it was a sad fact that traditional liturgy was not exactly encouraged in many dioceses. Now that it has essentially unfettered legal freedom, the burden of support has shifted from bishops to those who desire it. Realistically, traditionalists care little what other kinds of Masses a parish might offer, as long as the Extraordinary Form is part of the picture. Indeed, cooperation with those of other liturgical preference(s) is often the key to meeting a parish’s financial and volunteer needs.

It is frustrating to witness judgmentalness on the part of either side, if that party has not actually experienced the other’s liturgy or observed those in attendance. It is not intellectually honest to condemn the Tridentine Mass if one has not assisted at a few in recent years. Likewise, while virtually everyone has attended the Novus Ordo, traditionalists should not automatically condemn it when said in Latin ad oriéntem, without having attended one.

This is not to say that we who support diocesan-approved Extraordinary Form Masses have any agenda against the SSPX. On the contrary, we pray for their complete reconciliation with Rome. However, they are simply one part of a worldwide Latin Mass movement that attracts people of countless perspectives.

The SSPX Does Not Speak For All Traditionalists

We thus appeal to those who might not recently have attended the Traditional Mass: The SSPX does not speak for all supporters of the Extraordinary Form, any more than the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress liturgies speak for all who prefer the Ordinary Form. Nor is every SSPX member troublesome or argumentative, indeed many are active supporters of diocesan Masses. The press tends to focus on the negative and divisive, so it is understandable that controversial SSPX matters would receive much coverage, just as that same press often characterizes the Catholic Church in general as a behind-the-times institution in its disciplines and government. Yes, there may be some hard-liners in a particular Tridentine Mass congregation, but not to any greater degree than challenging individuals exist in virtually every parish.

Murmuring over something erroneously perceived as “bad” or against what the Church wants is never good, but is especially unfortunate when done by those in leadership positions in the Church. Somehow we need to convey charitably to such leaders that while we respect their non-preference for traditional liturgy, in this post-Summórum Pontíficum world, their personal preferences cannot get in the way of legitimate, well-intentioned celebrations of the Extraordinary Form. There are plenty of locations where modern liturgy is offered; don’t be threatened by the relative handful of sites that want a Tridentine Mass. If the Church sanctions it, and a practical means for its celebration and administration has been devised, don’t create obstacles.

In this respect, we hold up as a model an individual who might not be the first on people’s minds: Chicago’s late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. It was under His Eminence’s administration that the Archdiocese of Chicago grew to host the largest number of Tridentine Masses of any diocese in North America. He deserves credit for letting those Masses flourish. Some might say he was a “true liberal”, others might say that he was simply following Vatican recommendations. Whatever his motivations, in the end it is simply his record on this subject which will endure.

Do you know a bishop, priest, deacon, or religious with a negative predisposition towards the Traditional Mass? Invite him or her to one of our Masses. Offer to attend a Mass of their preference with them as well. Help them appreciate the Extraordinary Form and those who attend it, even if they don’t like it. As an analogy, you might not be interested in Quicken Loans as a company, but you nonetheless understand the benefits that their relocation to downtown Detroit brings to the city. So should your guest come to understand the role of traditional liturgy in the Church today.

Local Tridentine Masses This Week

Mon. 08/23 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (S. Philip Benizi)
Tue. 08/24 7:00 PM: High Masses at both Assumption-Windsor and St. Josaphat (St. Bartholomew)
Sun. 08/29 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for August 22, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Proper grammatology

Tridentine Community News (August 15, 2010):
Capitalization in the Propers

You may have noticed some quirky issues of grammar and typography (“orthography” is the more appropriate term) in our Latin/English Propers handouts. With the exception of the occasional typo, these are intentional. They reflect customs in liturgical Latin, the Douay-Rheims English Bible, and Douay-like translations of Orations and Antiphons that are quite different from modern English. In the course of preparing the handouts over the years, it has become increasingly apparent what those customs actually are. We have also been able to detect the occasional typo in the Latin or English in a given missal, due to the deviation from usual standards.

Capitalization is the first issue. In English it is customary to capitalize the titles “Saint”, “Martyr”, Confessor”, “Angel”, and so forth, even if the corresponding Latin is not capitalized.

Pronouns referring to God generally, or any member of the Blessed Trinity individually, are capitalized in English but not (always) in Latin. “Name” is always capitalized when it refers to the Holy Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; it is not (always) capitalized when it refers to the name of God generally, as in the Old Testament.

There can be confusion and inconsistency about whether to capitalize certain words. For example, many Postcommunion Collects contain clauses such as the following: “We who have been fed with Thy heavenly Gifts…”. If “gift” is meant generically, it can remain lower case. However, if the word refers to the Eucharist, as it arguably does in a Postcommunion, it is deserving of capitalization. Modern hand missals such as the Baronius Press typically do capitalize these sorts of words. Older missals often do not, but tend to undercapitalize in general, e.g.: “…Thy martyrs Ss. Vitus, Modestus…” “Martyrs” should be capitalized, as it is in the original Latin.

Sometimes the first letter of a word following a question mark is not capitalized, as though a question mark separates clauses like a semicolon, rather than always completing a sentence. This occurs in both Latin and English text.


In Latin, colons are often used to separate clauses. In the English, missals use a mixture of colons and semicolons for the same purpose.

It can be tempting to correct especially the English in accord with current usage. For example, on June 15, we commemorate Ss. Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia. The second comma, after “Modestus”, is omitted in many English translations. We don’t believe that is a matter of dated orthography, but rather a simple oversight in typesetting the text. Correcting it also helps the celebrant to pace the reading of the English Epistle and Gospel.

As a rule, we do not correct punctuation in the Latin text unless it is glaringly obvious, such as a missing period between sentences.

J or I?

Classical Latin and some liturgical books use “I” in place of “J”, e.g.: “Iesus Christus”. There are conflicting stories as to who was responsible for the introduction of “J”. Usage seems to have started somewhere between 1500-1790. It seems to be a matter of custom, not unlike “U” having evolved to take the place of “V” when a vowel is needed. We use “J” for clarity’s sake. If we adhered to the older custom, things could get quite confusing. Quick: Which is easier to pronounce, “Julius” or “Ivlivs”?

Accent Marks

In most official Latin liturgical books, only words with three or more syllables employ accented vowels. A few books, most notably the Liber Usuális, which our cantors use to chant the Propers, do accent vowels in words that have only two syllables. In keeping with the more prevalent custom, we only employ accent marks when there are three or more syllables.

As we have noted in previous columns, the lack of accent marks can be frustrating. Some recently published Vatican books omit them entirely, which can create some challenges – and habits of pronouncing words improperly – in those who are not familiar with those words from other sources.

Ligatures and Accented Ligatures

A ligature is a single character that takes the place of two adjacent vowels that are pronounced without a syllabic pause. The most notable are “œ” to take the place of “oe”, and “æ” to take the place of “ae”. Capitalized ligatures in some fonts can look unattractive, so we occasionally revert to using separate vowels.

Few fonts contain accented ligatures. Therefore, for occasions where one is needed, such as in “quaésumus”, Michel Ozorak devised a way to kern two separate vowels close together so that they look like a ligature. Likewise, many liturgical books do not print accented capital vowels, but we do, for example: “Áccipe”.

One drawback to ligatures and accented vowels is that they can make it hard to search documents. Fortunately, Google compensates for that and will find, for example, an “ae” when you search for an “æ”. The search functions in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer, however, will not.

Some Latin books use “œ” in place of æ” in certain words. One that comes to mind is “cæli”, sometimes spelled “cœli”. Google won’t help with that.

Is There a Good Latin Dictionary for Word?

A call to our readers: Does anyone know of a trustworthy and comprehensive liturgical Latin dictionary for Microsoft Word? We have searched, but are not aware of one. It would help catch typos. Thanks are due to Peter Gulewich, by the way, for proofreading our handouts and ensuring their accuracy.
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for August 15, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Obama and Joachim of Fiore: the kernel of truth in the hoax

Sandro Magister has posted a piece, "There's a Strange Prophet in the White House" (www.chiesa, August 23, 2010), on the kernel of truth in the hoax about Mr. Obama's supposed citation of the Medieval visionary and heretic, Joachim of Fiore, a rumor so widespread that even Fr. Cantalamessa fell for it. Asked to comment by the online agency of the episcopal conference of the United States, "Catholic News Service," Cantalamessa responded: "Someone has used my words to insinuate that I also consider Obama a heretic like Joachim, while I have profound esteem for the new president of the United States." But when asked to say how he had found out about the three citations made by Obama, Fr. Cantalamessa said candidly: "Typing 'Obama Joachim of Fiore' into Google produces all of the news on which I based my speech."

Magister examines two recent books in Italian -- one by the journalist for Vatican Radio, Alessandro Gisotti, with a thorough understanding of America; the other by Martino Cervo, managing editor of the newspaper "Libero," and Mattia Ferraresi, a Washington correspondent for the newspaper "il Foglio." After a brief analysis, comes his conclusion:
In spite of the nonexistent citations, then, the resemblance remains between Obama's rhetoric and the vision of Joachim of Fiore. The theologian and cardinal Henri De Lubac would have had no difficulty in adding Obama to the crowded ranks of the "Spiritual posterity of Joachim of Fiore," the title of an extensive study he published thirty years ago on the influence that the utopia of that monk has had up until our time, inside and outside of Catholicism.
The work to which he refers is contained, in English translation, in Henri de Lubac's Drama of Atheist Humanism, in a detailed critical analysis of August Comte's ersatz religion of atheistic humanism, with all the pomp and accoutrements of the Catholic religion. Comte, it may be recalled, was famous for his Law of the Three Stages of history: the theological, metaphysical, and scientific ("positivist," in his vocabulary). While admiring and wanting to make use of Catholicism, his own vision is thoroughly atheistic and humanistic in an insidiously subtle way.

Joachim of Fiore is also famous for his three-fold division of history into ages of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, capitalizing on the last to set forth his own agenda, much as Catholic revisionists capitalized on the "SPIRIT" of Vatican II to push their own anti-Catholic agenda. Eric Voegelin's Science, Politics, And Gnosticism argues cogently for the view that much of modern politics is animated by a gnostic spirit that finds its roots and type in the theories of Joachim de Fiore. Among those Voeglin analyzes are Auguste Comte, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Karl Marx. Anyone who immerses himself in this material and begins connecting the dots, however, will see the familiarity with the vision inhabiting the thinking of the current Democratic administration. When the White House counters claims that Mr. Obama is a Muslim with declarations that he is "obviously Christian," one can discern the meaning of his "Christianity" only by an understanding of the decisively gnostic current that animates this set of beliefs.

At one time, Comte tried to enlist the allegiance of the Catholic Church in his construction of a new Positivist religious-and-political alliance. His emissary to Rome was firmly rebuffed. A generation later, Charles Maurras, the principal ideologist of Action Française, the French Monarchist (Orléanist) counter-revolutionary movementfounded in 1898, was more successful, as de Lubac points out, even though his "integralist" vision was not much different from that of Comte. The ideology and vision was fundamentally atheistic, but appealed to many in the Vatican because of points of superficial affinity in political interest.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Loss of faith in Scripture, loss of faith in Christ

"The crisis of faith in Christ in recent times began with a modified way of reading sacred Scripture -- seemingly the sole scientific way. [This viewpoint] has emphatically impressed itself on the public consciousness and has made major inroads into the congregations of Christian believers in all churches."

-- Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What Evangelicals could have learned from "Spirit of Vatican II" hipsters

Brett McCracken, "The Perils of 'Wannabe Cool' Christianity" (Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2010):
"How can we stop the oil gusher?" may have been the question of the summer for most Americans. Yet for many evangelical pastors and leaders, the leaking well is nothing compared to the threat posed by an ongoing gusher of a different sort: Young people pouring out of their churches, never to return.

... In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between 18-22 stop attending church regularly.

Statistics like these have created something of a mania in recent years, as baby-boomer evangelical leaders frantically assess what they have done wrong (why didn't megachurches work to attract youth in the long term?) and scramble to figure out a plan to keep young members engaged in the life of the church.

Increasingly, the "plan" has taken the form of a total image overhaul, where efforts are made to rebrand Christianity as hip, countercultural, relevant. As a result, in the early 2000s, we got something called "the emerging church"—a sort of postmodern stab at an evangelical reform movement. Perhaps because it was too "let's rethink everything" radical, it fizzled quickly. But the impulse behind it—to rehabilitate Christianity's image and make it "cool"—remains.

... one of the most popular—and arguably most unseemly—methods of making Christianity hip is to make it shocking. Sex is a popular shock tactic. Evangelical-authored books like "Sex God" (by Rob Bell) and "Real Sex" (by Lauren Winner) are par for the course these days. At the same time, many churches are finding creative ways to use sex-themed marketing gimmicks to lure people into church.

... Then there is Mark Driscoll at Seattle's Mars Hill Church—who posts Q&A videos online, from services where he answers questions from people in church, on topics such as "Biblical Oral Sex" and "Pleasuring Your Spouse."

... If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that "cool Christianity" is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don't want cool as much as we want real.

If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it's easy or trendy or popular. It's because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It's because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It's not because we want more of the same.
So stop paddling about in the shallow puddle of "Wannabe Cool Evangelicalism," and, as Cardinal Newman might have declared: Go deep into history, cease to be Protestant, and come home to Rome and the bottomless ocean of spiritual resources in Catholic Tradition!

[Hat tip to RealCatholicTV.com]

Update (8/30/2010): JM writes: "To see where the erudite yet 'poppish' mindset leads in religion, go visit patrol magazine's website. Begun at King's College as an evangelical outpost, they now detest the label evangelical. They are far too sophisticated for all of that. They are the change they've been waiting for, in all seriousness."

Totalitarian lesbiocracy?

Thomas F. Bertonneau, "World Without Men: The Forgotten Novel of Totalitarian Lesbiocracy by Charles Eric Maine" (The Brussels Journal, August 17, 2010):
The blurb on the thirty-five cent Ace paperback likens Charles Eric Maine’s 1958 novel World Without Men to George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Ordinarily – and in consideration of the genre and the lurid cover – one would regard such a comparison skeptically. Nevertheless, while not rising to the artistic level of the Orwell and Huxley masterpieces, World without Men merits being rescued from the large catalogue of 1950s paperback throwaways, not least because of Maine’s vision of an ideological dystopia is based on criticism, not of socialism or communism per se nor of technocracy per se, but rather of feminism. Maine saw in the nascent feminism of his day (the immediate postwar period) a dehumanizing and destructive force, tending towards totalitarianism, which had the potential to deform society in radical, unnatural ways. Maine grasped that feminism – the dogmatic delusion that women are morally and intellectually superior to men – derived its fundamental premises from hatred of, not respect for, the natural order; he grasped also that feminism entailed a fantastic rebellion against sexual dimorphism, which therefore also entailed a total rejection of inherited morality.

* * * * * * *

The crumbling Ace paperback of Maine’s novel from which I quote contains a Publisher’s Postscript. It reads in part as follows: “While the manuscript of WORLD WITHOUT MEN was being prepared for publication, the staff of Ace books were startled to see… a story in the New York Times, for Oct. 16, 1957. This told of the announcement at a meeting of a ‘planned parenthood’ society of advanced work on a ‘synthetic steroid tablet’ to be taken orally to create a limited period of sterility.” According to the Postscript, this story and one other “unexpectedly underline the credibility of Charles Eric Maine’s novel.” About Maine himself, information remains scarce. Charles Eric Maine was the penname of David McIlwain (1921 – 1981), who served in the Royal Air Force in World War Two and became a writer after the war. He seems to have published fourteen novels, most of them, to judge by their titles, in the science fiction genre. (Apart from World Without Men I have read none of them.) An early effort, Spaceways (1953) became a film under the same name the year after its publication.
[Hat tip to F.R.]

Why Christianity Is "Foreign" to Japan

After well more than 4 centuries of evangelization, less than 1% of Japan is Christian; and that figure may be inflated. Thirty years ago I regularly heard the figure "less than one-tenth of one percent," although that probably didn't include Catholics. Still, the statistics are dismal.

I've always attributed this to several factors, including the Buddhist doctrine of "no soul" or "non-self" (Pali, anatta; Skt., anātman), the trickle-down of this Buddhist outlook into the general culture, as witnessed in the language, which one can speak endlessly without the use of personal pronouns, implicitly submerging the person into an ultimately impersonal environment called the "void," "emptiness" (Jap. ku) or "nothingness" (Jap. mu).

Further, there is the inherent acceptance of contradictions in the logic of "is-and-is-not" (Jap. soku-hi), which, maddeningly to a western Christian, makes a hash of the principle of contradiction, and explains why Japanese families have no trouble accepting Shinto rites of passage for their children, both Shinto and "Christian" wedding rites, Christmas trees and Christmas hymns, and Buddhist funeral rites -- all without blinking an eye. I was at a Japanese wedding a few years ago where the bride and groom were married in a Christian chapel, with hired Christian hymn singers, a faux-priest vested in what could have been Catholic vestments, who preached what for all intents and purposes was a fairly orthodox-sounding Christian marriage homily. Yet neither the bride nor groom were believers, nor probably hardly anyone in the gathering, and I think the "priest" may have been an agnostic Jew. It's all about form, you see: there is no underlying substance to anything at all -- least of all this thing we call "reality." So let's just get used to it, the attitude seems to be.

Another factor is the latent Confucian ethos, in which strictly defined social roles and morals are decisively separated from any religious commitments (Confucianism is a social ethic, not a religion, if by "religion" you mean more than a social ethic). Hence, the Japanese historically embrace a moral code that has nothing to do with any sort of religious or metaphysical commitments.

In light of this, I was pleased to see a robust and articulate confirmation of these convictions, with many other notable insights, in a recent exposition on this matter posted on Sandro Magister's blog entitled, "Why Christianity Is 'Foreign' to Japan" (www.chiesa, August 19, 2010). His summary reads: "Annihilation of the "self," divinization of nature, rejection of a personal God. The cornerstones of the Japanese culture, explained by the ambassador of the Rising Sun to the Holy See." The post, which includes an essay by Mr. Kagefumi Ueno, the Ambassador of Japan to the Holy See, is well worth reading. Originally delivered as a lecture at the Circolo di Roma, Ambassador Ueno's essay was first published in "L'Osservatore Romano" on August 14, 2010.

Out with a million whimpers

This from our correspondent in Bobo-land: Steven D. Greydanus, "The apocalypse will be televised" (National Catholic Register, August 10, 2010): "Whimper du jour: a pitch for a new reality show … starring Levi Johnson … making a run for mayor of Wasilla.... 'Loving Levi: The Road to the Mayor’s Office' will center on Johnston’s newfound fame as the baby daddy to Palin’s grandson, Tripp." Don't worry, it only gets worse.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to pronounce the Roman Canon in Latin

Fr. John Zuhlsdorff received a voicemail from some seminarians who are learning how to say the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass on their own. They asked for help with the Latin, since they have not ever heard the Roman Canon in Latin.

So he produced a podcast with a recording of himself reading the Roman Canon in Latin using the 1962 Missale Romanum, "Learning the Roman Canon in Latin for Seminarians" (WDTPRS, August 19, 2010).

He also put in a few little bits from the Novus Ordo version of the Canon as well, because, he explains:
"I am a little concerned that using Latin is going to be segregated sharply into the traditional form of Mass rather than in the Novus Ordo. People might be tempted to say, "If you want Latin, go to that Mass". That is one reason why I object to calling the traditional form or Extraordinary Form, simply "the Latin Mass".

Latin is also the language of the Novus Ordo.
A reader kindly sent us a link to Sancta Missa, a major site with online tutorials on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass for priests, servers, rubrics of the 1962 Missale Romanum, music, the liturgical year, and more -- so far in French as well as English.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Congregational Responses in the Low Mass – Part 2 of 2

Tridentine Community News (August 8, 2010):
By the grace of God, we now have the privilege of attending Low Masses in the Extraordinary Form every Monday at St. Josaphat Church at 7:00 PM, and every Tuesday at Windsor’s Assumption Church at 7:00 PM. In an effort to answer questions that have been posed regarding the congregation’s spoken responses at a Low Mass, we present the remaining relevant excerpts from the authoritative document, De Música Sacra, the Instruction on Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy issued in 1958 by the Sacred Congregation for Rites (now known as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments):
33. The faithful may sing hymns during low Mass, if they are appropriate to the various parts of the mass.

34. Where the rubrics prescribe the clara voce, the celebrant must recite the prayers loud enough so that the faithful can properly, and conveniently follow the sacred rites. This must be given special attention in a large church, and before a large congregation.

[End of citations]
Local Custom for the Responses

De Música Sacra permits varying customs to evolve in different places as to which responses are made by the congregation. At London, England’s Brompton Oratory, for example, the congregation is silent throughout the entire Low Mass. At the churches in Detroit and Windsor where this column is distributed, the congregation joins in all of the responses of the Low Mass except the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar at the start of Mass. This custom is also observed at High Mass.

Being customs and not rubrics, there is nothing inherently wrong with members of the congregation participating in more or fewer of the responses along with the altar servers.

Postures During Low Mass

Similar to the rules on making responses, the particular postures for the congregation during Holy Mass are matters of custom rather than rubrics. In practice, there is more consistency from church to church with regards to posture than with regards to the responses.

Postures for Low Mass are as follows:
Stand: Entrance of priest
Kneel: From beginning to Gospel
Stand: At the Gospel
Stand: At the Credo
Sit: During the Offertory
Kneel: From the Sanctus to the Last Gospel
Stand: At the Last Gospel
Kneel: Prayers After Low Mass
Stand: Exit of priest
Postures During High Mass

As long as we are on the subject, it is appropriate to list the postures during Sung Masses, both Missa Cantata (celebrated by a priest alone) and Solemn High (celebrated by a priest with the assistance of a deacon and subdeacon):
Stand: During the processional entry
Stand: During the Aspérges
Kneel: From beginning to Glória
Stand: At the intoning of the Glória
If the congregation sings, remain standing.
If the choir only, sit when the clergy do.

Stand: Dóminus Vobíscum and Collect(s)
Sit: At the singing of the Epistle
Stand: At the singing of the Gospel
Sit: At the announcements and Homily
Stand: At the Credo
As at the Glória.
Stand: Dominus Vobíscum, Orémus
Sit: During the Offertory
Rise when the congregation is incensed
Stand: Preface dialogue to Sanctus
Kneel: Sanctus, Canon, Communion
Stand: Dóminus Vobíscum and Postcommunion
Kneel: At the Blessing
Stand: Last Gospel to exit of clergy
Young Adult Pilgrimage in Diocese of Lansing

Reader Paul Schultz, a leader of Generation Christ in Ann Arbor, invites young adults to join their “Pilgrimage for Christian Culture” from Camp De Sales in Brooklyn, Michigan to Queen of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Jackson, Friday-Saturday, August 13-14, 2010. The themes will be: Reparation for Sin, Restoration by Grace, and Reform of Life.

Modeled after the annual Pentecost pilgrimage to Chartres Cathedral in France, pilgrims will pray along the way. The Rosary in Latin will be taught and prayed. Liturgy of the Hours, Holy Mass (on Friday in the Ordinary Form, on Saturday in the Extraordinary Form) and Confessions will be available daily.

You may come for one day or two, for 2 miles or 27. The pilgrim assistance corps is able to drop you off and pick you up along the route, to suit your schedule.
Registration in advance is required. For more information, including a schedule of events, e-mail Paul at paulcschultz@gmail.com, call (734) 646-0430, or visit www.genchrist.net/pilgrimage.
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for August 8, 2010. Hat tip to A.B.]

Obama not the problem, but the symptom?

I received the following missive today from somewhere in cyberspace, a quotation from somebody allegedly in the Czech Republic who suggests, not in so many words, that the greatest threat to the future of America is that a democracy is only as good as its people:
"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cheap thrills of the retro kind

I'm psyched. Today I talked to two representatives of different businesses on the phone. One was named Betty. The other was named Gladys. Betty and Gladys. It could have been Betty and Veronica, and I could not have been any more thrilled.

I imagined them standing in their kitchens with Olive green Linoleum floors and sparkly Formica counter tops -- one whipping up a batch of strawberry shortcake after putting up some rhubarb preserves, the other taking a break from a soap opera after putting a jello fruit salad in the fridge to set and a Velveeta-tuna macaroni casserole in the oven to bake. How cool is that!

Sexist? Get a life! Bake a cake or pie from scratch. Learn how to can something. It's way cooler than TV dinners, let alone those nefarious pop tarts, twinkies, ho-hos, moon pies, ding-dongs and zebra cakes whose first ingredient is always sugar --the dietary equivalent of crack cocaine. And if I can do it, so can you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Helpful hints for the newcomer to the old Mass

A Catholic woman who returned to the Church some 18 years ago to embrace a "fairly traditional" Catholic outlook has written "The Laywoman's Guide To The Usus Antiquior..." (Mulier Fortis, June 14, 2009), which, despite (or because of?) the fact, as she says, that she has no "special knowledge" or "training" to offer, is in fact quite helpful. She writes from her own experience and, I think, offers some instructive "toggling" between the perspectives of the Novus Ordo (NO) and Traditional Latin Mass (TLM).

For example, she notes that one of the first things that confuses the newcomer to the TLM is that it is not "linear," like the NO. In the NO, she says, "one thing happens at a time, and events follow on one after another... and participation has come to be interpreted as 'following and understanding everything that's said and done.'" By contrast, in the TLM, particularly in the High Mass, there are lots of things happening at once:
Trying to follow what is happening is extremely confusing, because the choir will be singing Mass propers ... while the priest is reading the texts at the altar, and the deacon and subdeacon may be moving around the sanctuary, while the servers are preparing something else... everything is following a precise pattern, everything has its proper place, but, unless you know what you're looking at, it's easy to get totally lost.
For this reason, she recommends starting with the Low Mass, although offering as a caveat that even then there are "a lot of preconceptions and hang-ups which need to be overcome." To many the silence and stillness will be disconcerting at first. Yet the Low Mass offers the fewest distractions, and she suggests:
The first time one attends a Low Mass, I would recommend sitting or kneeling near the back and just watching, while offering a prayer from the heart. The readings and prayers can be looked at before or after Mass. After a few times, once the general structure of the Mass is familiar, then one can start to follow the prayers in a missal ....
There are other reasons one might prefer to suggest a High Mass to the newcomer, such as that, despite the complexity and confusion, the music and ritual can sometimes be unspeakably beautiful. Yet, she has a point.

She also notes some interesting things about "active participation" in the liturgy from both perspectives of the TLM and NO. For the former, of course, the meaning of that phrase primarily has to do with interior recollectedness concerning what is happening in the Mass, or, as Pope Pius X said, praying the Mass. Yet this meaning has undergone a transformation in the NO, as she observes:
If you're not making the responses, there's a suspicion that you're not "taking part" - a key example of this is the sign of peace: this is the point in the Mass where one is supposed to meet and greet as many people in the congregation as possible. Trying to remain recollected in prayer is seen as "being unfriendly." One time, I found myself being profoundly moved by the Mass, and tears were streaming down my face. I didn't want this to be noticed, however, and attempted to bow my head and not look round at the sign of peace... I thought this would be ok, as there wasn't anyone standing anywhere near me. Imagine my discomfort when someone actually walked across the church to my pew, and poked me in the arm to attract my attention and offer me the sign of peace.
There is some excellent food for thought in this thoughtful post.


"Tag, you're it!" said the email from David L. Alexander, a.k.a. "Man With Black Hat," who decided to "tag" me, as he says in his blog post, "Tagged" (Man With Black Hat, August 11, 2010), with a request list of favorite five devotions. So, for whatever they're worth:
My favorite devotions are, more or less in order:
  1. The Mass in the usus antiquior of the Traditional Roman Rite of St. Gregory the Great -- either the sung High Mass (from the Asperges to the Second Gospel and Dismissal) or Low Mass (from the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar to the Marian prayers following the Mass). In my experience, the distance between these and anything else is so vast, that little else even registers. But that's just my humble opinion.
  2. The Rosary with the particular framing of the mysteries offered by St. Louis de Montfort. I pray five decades every day, nearly without exception, with particular intentions ("prayer requests" for Protestant readers). I also like to point out to my Protestant friends that the "Hail Mary" is based on Luke 1:28, 42, and quickly became one of the earliest prayers of the Church along with the "Our Father."
  3. The Breviary in the traditional form and translation. I find the English translation of the reformed Liturgy of the Hours unbearable, but that may be just my Protestant background. I must also note that I rarely have time to pray all the traditonal hours. But when I did so for a period of time, I have found them incredibly rewarding, feeling a bit as though I were on a pilgrimage through time in that train of the "glorious choir of the Apostles," the "admirable company of Prophets," and the "white-robed army of Martyrs" mentioned in the Te Deum. Maybe when I retire... I also like to point out to my Protestant friends that two of the earlierst hymns of the Church, found in the Breviary, come from Luke 1:46-55 (the Canticle of Mary, or the Magnificat) and Luke 1:68-79 (the Cantacle of Zechariah).
  4. Benediction, with the beautiful hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas, "O Salutaris Hostia" and "Tantum ergo," and the beautiful "Divine Praises."
  5. The Seven Sorrows (or "Dolors") of the Blessed Mother. (What other prayer has such amazing promises and consolations?!)
Just FIVE??? Out of the treasury of traditional Catholic resources??? How unfair!! I could mention a dozen more, some of which I frequent, even regularly, including the Latin Prayers of the St. Benedict Medal (what sacramental is so heavily indulgenced?), the devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (though I do not recommend this for untutored Protestants because of susceptibilities of misinterpretation), the Morning Offering prayer to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (also with similar caveats for Protestants), or St. Alphonsus Ligouri's Stations of the Cross, with the accompanying hymn "At the cross her station keeping," the magnificent Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts, St. Josemaria Escriva's meditations, and some of the prayers I mentioned in my post, "Providence in the battlefield of prayer" (Musings, October 26, 2009). Why be Catholic if not to go deep into tradition to partake of the treasures and incredible resources there? Why live in an outhouse when you've inherited a castle?
Now, who to tag?

Hermeneutics of Vatican II: an outsider's perspective

Rodney Trotter, "Benedict and Catholicism" (Reformation 21, August 9, 2010), a blogger on the wibsite of The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, writes:
My good Catholic friend, the well-known German lay intellectual, Count Wolfram von Hofmeister-Behr, has brought to my attention this article, outlining Benedict XVI's thirty year campaign to undo the liberalizing trends of Vatican II. One thing perplexes me, however, as humble Prod outsider to all things Catholic: if V2 was such a liberal moment, from where did Humanae Vitae (1968) come? It seems entirely consistent with earlier Catholic teaching; and if the standard liberal Catholic narrative is correct, what we are then left with is (a) a pre-V2 conservative Catholicism; (b) a radical break where the church gets liberalised (presumably by those kept at bay under (a) but who, for some inexplicable reason, still have a lot of power all of a sudden -- quite an achievement in an organization of such complex and arcane bureaucracy where the pace of change is glacial at best); then (c) a long fight back of the conservatives who, as far as Humanae Vitae is concerned, seem to have a lot of power very, very soon after V2 closes. Doesn't quite seem to add up; but **if** V2 was not the liberalising moment that the Catholic liberals nostalgically see it to be, but something else, then an alternative narrative can be offered which perhaps makes more sense of the before and after. Maybe the situation is more complicated than simply seeing John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI as villains, undoing the work of their predecessors.

I only raise the point because the liberal Catholic narrative of V2 is the one with which most Protestants seem to operate; and if it simply isn't true, that obviously has implications for how we understand the RCC and the significance of the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lina Sandell: De Profundis

Although the name of Lina Sandell (1832 - 1903) is largely unfamiliar to English-speaking audiences, at least some of you will likely be acquainted with a tune or two of the beautiful hymns of this "Fanny Crosby of Sweden." Two that are particularly well-known in some English-speaking circles are "Day by Day" and "Children of the Heavenly Father" (audio samples at end of post).

Born Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell, from childhood the nickname "Lina" stuck. From the age of 12, she was paralyzed and confined to her bed, and given no hope of healing by physicians. A child of simple piety and product of a prayerful family, while her parents were at church, she read the Scripture about Jesus raising Jairus' daughter and reasoned that if Jesus could heal a girl then, He could heal her now. Praying accordingly, she miraculously got up, dressed herself and walked to church, brimming with wonder and joy.

Yet tragedy stalked Sandell. At the age of 26, she accompanied her father Jonas, a Lutheran pastor, on a boat trip across Lake Vättern to Göteborg. During the passage, the boat lurched, and he fell overboard and drowned as she helplessly watched. The tragedy moved Lina deeply, yet through the mysteries of divine providence, she did not become embittered. Instead, the crucible of suffering became, through the grace of a deep faith, the animus that inspired her hymn writing. Thereafter, from her broken heart there poured forth a seemingly endless stream of powerful hymns.

Two years after her father's death, her mother died, and she went to live with her widowed brother-in-law in Jonkoping. During those years, she met the king's sister, Princess Eugenia, and a number of other prominent people, and many people of great faith.

Then in 1867, Lina married C.O. Berg, a wealthy Stockholm businessman, and became Lina Sandell-Berg, though she continued to initial her hymns "L.S." On October 4, of the following year, their baby son died in childbirth.

While Sandell's health was frail, she lived to 71 years. She died on July 27, 1903 in Stockholm, Sweden, and is buried in Solna Kyrkogård - Cemetery, Solna, Stockholmn Län, Sweden. She wrote 650 hymns.

In 1953, 10,000 people in her home town of Froderyd, Sweden, attended the dedication of a bronze statue erected as a memorial to her. The little cottage where she lived is now a national museum. Each year on Transfiguration Sunday, the people of the local parish hold a festive service honoring Lina and her father.

In her own lifetime, her hymns were publicly performed and popularized by a number of notable individuals. The pietist troubadour of Sweden, Oskar Ahnfelt, sang Lina's hymns throughout Scandinavia, accompanying himself famously on his 10-string guitar, so that Lina once said that he sang her songs "into the hearts of the people." The state church authorities did not like pietist hymns, and expecting a royal ban of Sandell's songs, ordered Ahnfelt to perform them before King Karl XV, who, after hearing them, declared to Ahnfelt: "You may sing as much as you desire in both my kingdoms" (Sweden and Norway). Jenny Lind, the internationally famous opera singer, also sang Sandel's hymns.

Some fifteen years ago, a good friend of mine, now a Finnish minister at the European Parliament, Eija-Riitta Korhola, presented me with a gift of a CD of Lina Sandell's hymns sung by Carola Maria Häggkvist. More popularly known simply as Carola, she is among the most popular Swedish vocalists and celebrities in Scandinavia since the 1980s, talking openly about her Christian faith, and persecuted for declaring that homosexuality would always remain "unnatural" to her.

The CD of Sandell's hymns that was given to me is entitled: Carola: Blott En Dag. Every time I have listened to it over the last 15 years, I have been moved by these hymns, and my gratitude for the gift of this album has never left me. While I do not understand Swedish any more than most of you, I do recognize most of these hymns by their tunes and know the words to some of them in English, as some of you may find. In any case, one thing is certain: I have never heard Sandell's hymns sung with such depth of feeling as by Carola on this album. Here are some samples, beginning with the title hymn of the album:What continues to touch me in Sandell's hymns is a combination of spiritual depth, the beauty of their simple and singable melodies, and -- above all -- a quality of joy deeply rooted in an experience that does not paper over the reality of suffering but recognizes it as a means of grace. This is the musical equivalent of what I see in the face of Michelangelo's Pieta. It is not despair. It is not happy-clappy silliness. But a profund and quiet trust in Providence. And that is joy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

From somewhere in Seattle ...

Our undercover correspondent in Washington State who regularly covers developments within the Bobo subculture (or should that be the main establishment culture?) of Seattle just sent in the following message via his Droid phone:
Marquee on two bobo churches:
  • "Do not put a period where God has placed a comma."
  • "Reading the Bible: Mystic, mythic, and political."
Hardcore into the New Evangelization ... Seattle-style. Once again, with feeeeeeling: "We gotta be we!" And with Boho-chic fashion!

Still Venerable John Henry Newman

Well, I suppose this is the date that would normally become Cardinal Newman's "feast day," since it is the date he departed this world. For anyone interested, here is a website devoted exclusively to the forthcoming visit of "Pope Benedict XVI in the UK: September 16-19, 2010," where the Holy Father is schedule to Beatify Cardinal Newman while visiting the Birmingham Oratory.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

On Al Greene

You all know about Alvin Greene, the upset winner of South Carolina's Democratic Senate primary -- the unemployed, unknown dark horse candidate who nobody can figure out and who has been so zombie-like in interviews that he has been accused of being a Republican plant? A reader wrote in today saying:
If I were Sen. DeMint the incumbent, I'd place a turnip on a lavishly laced pillow in my stead for the debate. I think Greene would still lose and his supporters would grow to 55% of the state Dem party.

Cardinal Mahony gets something right

Cardinal Roger Mahony, "Judge Vaughn Walker Got it Wrong" (C.R. Mahony Blogs L.A., August 4, 2010):
There is only one issue before each of us Californians: Is Marriage of Divine or of Human Origin?

Judge Walker pays no attention to this fundamental issue, and relies solely upon how Prop 8 made certain members of society "feel" about themselves.
A good insight, whoever its source. If we could just get the Archbishop to divert his focus from matters of architecture and liturgy, and focus instead more on teaching what the Church teaches like this, we might get somewhere -- like losing "Mahony's baloney" and getting a bit more of "Mahony's cajones." No, scratch that. You know what I mean.

[Hat tip to C.G.-Z.]

Whirling and swirling: a liturgical ministry metaphor?

I am reading a copy of the autumn issue of Today's Liturgy: A quarterly publication for liturgy preparation (September 5 -- November 27, 2010), a flagship periodical of Oregon Catholic Press, to see if it sheds any light on "today's liturgy" in the rockabilly-folkland of mainstream Catholic American suburbia today. Before getting into the first article, I was heartened to find some queenly metaphors that resonated with my experience in the opening editorial rendered by Ms. Elaine Rendler-McQueeney:
Whirling and swirling seem to describe this September-November season of the year. Leaves whirl in autumn and snowflakes will swirl in many places by the feast of Christ the King. Swirling and whirling create both dizziness and exhilaration. Liturgical ministers begin this season's work at a dizzying pace with the recruitment of musicians and other liturgical ministers, the start of the school year, and with ideas and repertoire for choirs and assemblies. After the period of swirling and whirling, one thing is sure: leaves, snowflakes, and all of us will be in a different place from where we started. As exhilarating as the ride may be, do we want to arrive at the end of the liturgical year wherever the wind blows, or with some control over where we arrive? This issue of Today's Liturgy hopes to assist you as you skillfully maneuver the air-currents to your destination.
Aside from my ignorance of the apparent fact that an inanimate periodical could "hope" for anything at all, the most startling thing about the good editor's opening paragraph is the apt metaphor of "whirling and swirling," which, she acknowledges, create "both dizziness and exhilaration." The dizziness of AmChurch liturgy I have witnessed not only in televised videos of liturgical dancers whirling like dervishes in some of Cardinal Mahony's anti-liturgies, or in some European liturgies, like this open air liturgy in France where the concelebrating priests danced awkwardly behind the altar. I have also experienced the dizziness first hand, in settings that ranged from those reminiscent of episodes of "America's God Talent" to those reminiscent of an aging group from a Minnesota Lutheran Usher's Convention at the Marriott Waikiki Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, who were trying to dance the Hula. Those who were engaged in "full and active participation" in these activities apparently experienced the exhilaration; although, for whatever reason, this particular sensation has usually escaped me -- except, perhaps, for one occasion at a bongo Mass where the calypso rhythms provoked in me a paroxysm of singular apoplectic "enthusiasm."

"Liturgical ministers begin the season's work at a dizzying pace," says Rendler-McQueeney, "with the recruitment of musicians and other liturgical ministers" (emphasis added). Liturgical ministers recruiting liturgical ministers? The expression has always thrown me for a loop. Perhaps it's my Protestant background, but I still have to fight the knee-jerk reaction of thinking that "minister" in a Catholic context is supposed to mean "priest." Silly me. I should have known from my previous experience in a Lutheran university that a title can be multiplied indefinitely, as it was under one administration with such a wonderful proliferation of "Vice Presidents" that it soon looked like our administration would outnumber our faculty. We had a "Vice President of Academic Affairs," "Vice President of Financial Administration," "Vice President of Admissions," "Vice President of Plant Management," "Vice President of Alumni Relations," "Vice President of Student Affairs" .... Eventually those of us in the Department of Philosophy and Religion decided to get in on the action and posted signs over our doors such as "Vice President of Departmental Administration" (the secretary), "Vice President of Platonic Affairs" (the Greek Philosophy specialist), "Vice President of Semiotic Relations" (specialist in Biblical languages), "Vice President of Postmodern Development" (our resident Derridian deconstructionist), and so on.

Forget six or more years of seminary. You can become a minister in far less time. I'm sure you have seen the names of various lay folk in parishes, directors of religious education and other administrative types (sometimes unhabited nuns or ex-nuns) listed in church bulletins right alongside the pastor's, with exciting job descriptions such as "Liturgical Ministry," "Catechetical Ministry," "Music Ministry," "Youth Ministry," "Pastoral Ministry," "Pastoral Ministry of Spirituality," or "Director of Pastoral Ministry" in parentheses after their names. (Directors of pastors? Sounds almost like another euphemism for bishop.) Who needs seminary? You can become a "Minister" in no time at all by simply volunteering to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Pretty soon we'll have so many ministers there won't be anybody left in the congregation; but then everybody will be happy, because everybody will be a minister. "Ecumenism Ministry"? "Hospitality Ministry"? "Communications Ministry"? "Blood Drive Ministry"? "Food Service Ministry"? "Lenten Yoga Ministry"? "Director of Collaborative Ministries"? The sky's the limit. Woo-hoo! Let's all minister!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Democrat class privilege

While those of an "affirmative action" mind-set may say that America owes it to the current occupants of the White House to live like aristocracy, I still rather fancy the thought of former U.S. President William H. Taft and his wife who kept a humble cow on the White House grounds for fresh milk.

The British press today reported that "Michelle Obama's five-day Spanish holiday - picked up by the American taxpayer - could easily top £250,000 (that's £50,000 a day)" [or $75,000 US Dollars a day] (Mail Online, August 6, 2010). Some, observing her "lavish break in Spain with 40 friends" at a time of economic austerity for fellow-Americans back home, reportedly have been led to compare her to "a modern-day Marie Antoinette."

A discussion over at Snopes.com was already making overtures in this direction over the Obama family's earlier vacation in Hawaii last month, noting that the First Lady was photographed in Hawaii wearing a $635 pair of designer shoes by Maison Martin Margiela that would have made Imelda Marcos envious, and that the Obama family's ten-day stay at an $8.9 million estate for an estimated $4000 per night would top out at a cool $40,000. Which, of course, pales compared to the $375,000 total for the First Lady's five-day Spanish getaway.

I guess this goes to show that "class privilege" and the trappings of nobility are not just the province of Old World royalty or nobility, or "fat cat" Republican corporate CEOs. Even members of the Communist Politburo in the former Soviet Union did not wait in bread lines with fellow members of the proliteriat in their ostensibly "classless society," but lived like royalty -- with special, state sponsored department stores which stocked everything and were off-limits to everyone else, and opulent vacation getaways on the Black Sea paid for by the government. Sort of like perpetually voting yourselves raises in the Houses of Congress, along with provisions of immunity from the terms of your own legislation, so that you become -- along with your president and many "perks" (like printing more money when you have none) -- members of a "privileged class" immune to inflation and economic woes.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

For the levity of it ...

Fr. Z writes, in a post entitled "Division in the pews!" (WDTPRS, August 5, 2010):
There is a workshop going in Milwaukee, WI sponsored by the USCCB-FLDC about the implementation of the new English translation of the Roman Missal.

There [is an] article about this workshop in Journal Sentinel. There is not much in this article of great interest, but a few things popped out at me. Thus, I edit and add my emphases and comments:
Clergy to convene, discuss Catholic missal changes
Priests concerned about alterations in midst of other church issues

By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Aug. 5, 2010


The new translation introduces more formal, rarefied language into the liturgy. But Cooper and others who have studied drafts say it ignores English grammar and syntax and introduces terms – "consubstantial," "oblation," "ignominy," to mention a few – unfamiliar to many American Catholics. And some worry it will sow division in the pews. [Right! I can see it now. Fights will break out in the pews when the Creed is recited. People will hang their heads in shame and weep. Some will rend their garments. "Consubstantial!" But I suppose we will have the opportunity to relive the experience of the early Church, when there were riots over changes to the words of Scripture or liturgy. There were great Fathers of the Church who experienced exile over "consubstantial". I am unaware that anyone went to the mat for something like "one in being with the Father"... whatever that means.]


"Much of the music that has come up over the last 30 years will no longer be useable," [Picture me in my grief. Is there a better reason than this single point for the implementation of the new translation?] said Father Alan Jurkus of St. Alphonsus Parish in Greendale, who sent out a letter this month notifying members of the coming changes.


"The bottom line for me is why. Why, with everything else that’s going on in the church, do we have to rub salt in the wounds?" [Could it be that weak liturgy created the environment in which our "problems" have run rampant?]