Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fr. Z: Abolish Communion in the hand

In conjunction with a lengthy treatment of the posture and manner of receiving Holy Communion in the Novus Ordo by H.E. Most Rev. Robert Morlino, Fr. Zuhlsdorf writes, with characteristic punctiliousness:
I think that people who are physically capable of doing so, should always kneel and receive Communion directly on the tongue. I think the permission for Communion in the hand should be abolished. In advance of it being abolished, people should be urged, taught, persuaded to receive on the tongue while kneeling. So there.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering a "Spirit of Vatican II" moment in liturgical dance

This has been around for a long time, but well worth revisiting if you haven't seen it for a while. And if you HAVEN'T seen it, well ... it's an absolute MUST! You gotta LOVE this guy!

[Hat tip to P.M. via Fr. Z.]

Martin Mosebach on Universae Ecclesiae and the Gregorian Rite

Stuart Chessman, "The Church Must Endure this Anger" (The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny, May 23, 2011). An important and illuminating interview by Die Welt. Excerpt:
Die Welt: The Instruction speaks of “two usages of the one Roman rite.” Doesn’t this open the door to a creeping new schism?

Martin Mosebach: There’s already a schism, not between supporters of the new and old rites, but between those Catholics who adhere to the old sacramental theology of the Church as was solemnly confirmed by Vatican II, and those who assert that Vatican II founded a new Church with a new theology and new sacraments. This latter doctrine has been diffused wholesale and against the better knowledge of its promoters, in the seminaries, universities and Catholic academies. This is what has fostered the danger of a schism.

[Hat tip to Rorate Caeli]

Are they Catholics?

Since my reception into the Catholic Church nearly 20 years ago, I have had several encounters with Catholic converts whose beliefs or practices have caused me to ask myself: "If this person is Catholic, what is it that makes a person Catholic?" The question may seem merely academic, but the circumstances that have provoked it are quite concrete. The following cases are all based on fact, although names and details have been changed to preserve anonymity. They are, if you will, not "fiction" but "faction" -- based on fact:

Don and Rita

Don and Rita were received into the Church five years ago in an affluent suburban parish, St. Norbert's. Neither had been a practicing Christian of any kind, although there was some nominal Protestant affiliation in their childhood homes. Both in their sixties, Don is in his fourth marriage, and Rita in her second, both with adult children from earlier marriages living in other parts of the country.

Don describes the "Catholic part" of his life journey as beginning with an experience he had of God's presence one afternoon when, inexplicably, he wandered into St. Norbert's for the first time and found himself kneeling and praying in the back of the church. "Whoo, boy!" he says, laughing and shaking his head. "Wow! I've never felt anything like that in my life!"

He and his wife were received into the Church at St. Norbert's the following Easter. I asked whether they went through the RCIA class there. "No," said Don, "we're not really what you would call 'joiners', so the priest met with us a few times and that's all it took."

Further conversation revealed that neither of them appeared to be schooled in the most rudimentary facts of Church teaching. Neither ever goes to confession. Rita never goes to church. Don usually goes on Sundays, but neither has any acquaintance with the notion of "holy days of obligation" as applying to Sundays and other special days throughout the year. Any notion of Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday or Good Friday serving as important spiritual markers in their calendar is completely missing. Neither seems to have any existential appreciation of the notion of sin, let alone mortal sin. When I asked whether they had received the Sacrament of Confession, they seemed perplexed. They had met with the priest individually, they said, who asked them if they had any sins they would like to confess, but neither could think of anything. The priest had raised no questions about their irregular marital status.


Joe, a recovering alcoholic, was received into the Church 14 years ago after finding himself at an AA meeting at St. Mary's Catholic Church, a large urban parish. Raised a Pentecostal, Joe dropped out of church as a youngster after his parents divorced. He speaks fondly of his memories of church services as a youngster where people really "got into praising God" with their "hearts and voices."

When asked why he became a Catholic, Joe says without hesitation, "No other church did for me what the Catholic Church has done." When asked to explain, he replies that it got him on the path of "healing" from his alcoholism.

The chief difficulty Joe has encountered after becoming a Catholic is finding Catholics who seem to have "any understanding of Scripture" or familiarity with "how to really worship the Lord." When asked what he means, Joe explains that most Catholics don't seem to really "know Jesus," they just stand or sit in the pews "looking bored and uninvolved." They don't display the "joy of salvation," he says.

For all his appreciation of St. Mary's, Joe now attends a charismatic Catholic Church where he feels he can "really worship." They have drums, electric guitars, and the priest walks the aisles greeting everyone. "He looks right into my eyes when he greets me, you know, really making me feel personally welcome, like more than just a number."

Joe thanks God for his discovery of charismatic Catholics. They provide an environment in which he feels free to raise his arms during Mass and shout "Amen!" and speak in tongues. On the other hand, Catholic prayers such as the Rosary or Angelus or Act of Faith form no part of Joe's awareness, any more than such ideas as "apostolic tradition," "Church authority," "intercession of the saints," "indulgences," or "Purgatory." When asked about these sorts of things, or Catholic practices like making visits to the Blessed Sacrament in the church, or praying to saints, or whether he had a patron saint, he replied that he considered such notions "clutter" and "distractions." With a smile, he said he prefers to go "straight to Jesus." He considers it his mission in life to teach Catholics how to worship.


Helen was received into the Church 25 years ago in a small Southern town after converting from a Missouri-Synod Lutheran background. After finishing her doctorate in literary criticism a decade later, she began her teaching career at a large Midwestern university. She says she has had trouble finding a Catholic parish where she feels completely comfortable, because "the preaching and music is generally so bad." But she currently attends Immaculate Conception, a large suburban parish near the university where she teaches.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Helen six years ago when our family was en route from North Carolina to Iowa on a family trip. We stopped on Sunday and went to Mass with her and out to dinner afterwards. The parish was clearly affluent. What struck me, however, was how very like a Protestant church it looked. There were virtually no visible signs or symbols of Catholicism -- no holy water fonts, no crucifix (the processional "crucifix" looked like the Greek letter Tau), no tabernacle, no kneelers. There was an artificial waterfall outside a large plate-glass window at the very front of the church. Nobody genuflected. Everyone cheerfully greeted one another, shaking hands across pews. The congregation was ethnically diverse -- about a quarter each African-American, Asian, Anglo and Hispanic. The music was robust, polished and professional -- a mix of Hispanic and Gospel, with robed choir members swaying in unison to synthesizer, saxophone, and other brass winds accompaniment. The bishop was present that Sunday, although I cannot remember the occasion. But what made it Catholic? I couldn't tell.

Over lunch, I asked Helen whether she didn't miss the beautiful liturgy and music of her Missouri-Synod background -- "You know, the old red book," I said. She said she did, at times, but she now preferred the music at Immaculate Conception for its "progressive, contemporary feel," as well as its polished professionalism. The one thing that seemed to leave her dissatisfied, she said, was the preaching. "The form is generally good," she said, "engaging and well-organized." The problem was that it was "doctrinally weak." She would have preferred more "Biblical exposition" with specific "applications" to the parishioners' lives. That's where "the rubber meets the road," she said, in their "existential situation."

A couple of years ago, after sending Helen some emails expressing my enthusiasm for the "Tridentine" Mass we discovered after moving to Detroit, I managed to provoke her into attending one for herself. The results were disappointing for both of us. She said that the whole panoply of pomp, processions, vestments, incense, and Latin left her cold. Not only was the whole thing "utterly unintelligible," but, she said, it struck her as "elitist" and "smacked of pride." The important thing in a church service, in her opinion, at least, was "to understand what's being said." She asked: "Where's the Gospel if it can't be understood?" She quoted St. Paul, "I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a [foreign] tongue" (I Corinthians 14:19). "Correct me if I'm wrong," said Helen, "but I can't help wondering whether Pope Benedict's decision to grant greater liberty to the old Latin Mass isn't a step backward, really. What's important is to make the Gospel accessible, to transmit it in a medium that's transparent, that communicates to people where they are today, not to obscure it by wrapping it up in unintelligible archaic forms."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Excerpt: How To Avoid Purgatory

Tridentine Community News (May 29, 2011):
As a follow-up to our recent column about the Sabbatine Privilege, we would like to recommend a booklet by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan and published by Saint Benedict Press, “How To Avoid Purgatory”. Chapter 13 of this book has been widely republished on a number of web sites, and we reprint it below both for its own value and as an example of the contents of the rest of the booklet. Rarely has so much spiritually beneficial information been condensed into so few words.

To Avoid Purgatory, Do As Follows

1. In every prayer you say, every Mass you hear, every Communion you receive, every good work you perform, have the express intention of imploring God to grant you a holy and happy death and no Purgatory. Surely God will hear a prayer said with such confidence and perseverance.

2. Always wish to do God's will. It is in every sense the best for you. When you do or seek anything that is not God's will, you are sure to suffer. Say fervently, therefore, each time you recite the Our Father: “Thy will be done.”

3. Accept all the sufferings, sorrows, pains and disappointments of life, be they great or small: ill health, loss of goods, the death of your dear ones, heat or cold, rain or sunshine, as coming from God. Bear them calmly and patiently for love of Him and in penance for your sins. Of course, one may use all his efforts to ward off trouble and pain, but when one cannot avoid them let him bear them manfully.
Impatience and revolt make sufferings vastly greater and more difficult to bear.

4. Christ’s life and actions are so many lessons for us to imitate.
The greatest act in His life was His Passion. As He had a Passion, so each one of us has a passion. Our passion consists in the sufferings and labors of every day. The penance God imposed on man for sin was to gain his bread in the sweat of his brow. Therefore, let us do our work, accept its disappointments and hardships, and bear our pains in union with the Passion of Christ. We gain more merit by a little pain than by years of pleasure.

5. Forgive all injuries and offences, for in proportion as we forgive others, God forgives us. Go to Confession. This sacrament does more than “just” rid us of our sins; it gives us a tremendous increase in sanctifying grace. It wins for us a higher place in Heaven, with increased union with God. Each time we go to Confession, we are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which might otherwise have befallen us. A devout Confession helps us to hear the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and to hear and follow the advice of our guardian angels.

6. Avoid mortal sins and deliberate venial sins and break off all bad habits. Then it will be relatively easy to satisfy God’s justice for sins of frailty. Above all, avoid sins against charity and against chastity, whether in thought, word, or deed, for these sins (and the expiation for them) are the reason why many souls are detained in Purgatory for long years.

7. If afraid of doing much, do many little things, acts of kindness and charity, give the alms you can, cultivate regularity of life, method in work, and punctuality in the performance of duty; don’t grumble or complain when things are not as you please, don’t censure and complain of others; never refuse to do a favor to others when it is possible. These and suchlike acts are a splendid penance.

8. Do all in your power for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Pray for them constantly, get others to do so, join the Association of the Holy Souls and ask all those you know to do likewise. The Holy Souls will repay you most generously.

9. There is no more powerful way of obtaining from God a most holy and happy death than by weekly Confession, daily Mass and daily Communion. Masses may be arranged after or before someone’s death to expedite their time in Purgatory.

10. A daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament – it need only be three or four minutes – is an easy way of obtaining the same grace. Kneeling in the presence of Jesus with eyes fixed on the Tabernacle or Monstrance, sure that He is looking at us, let us for a few minutes repeat some little prayer like these: “My Jesus, mercy.” “My Jesus, have pity on me, a sinner.” “My Jesus, I love You.” “My Jesus, give me a happy death.”

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 05/30 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Eastertide)

Tue. 05/31 7:00 PM: High Mass at both St. Josaphat and Assumption-Windsor (Queenship of Mary)

Thu. 06/02 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Ascension Thursday)

Thu. 06/02 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Paul, Thamesville, Ontario (Ascension Thursday)
[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 May 29, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Books such as the above presuppose a great deal. Please: how many Catholics do you know outside a small circle of TAN Books patrons who seriously worry about Purgatory anymore?

Anyone with contacts among secularized Catholics, Protestants and sundry agnostics will be familiar with the seemingly innumerable hurdles that prevent many readers from giving a book like this a half-second's mental space. Certainly the majority in this class may be beyond help here and now, but perhaps a few Protestants and post-Vatican II Catholics may find helpful a straightforward Biblically-referenced apologetic such as John Salza's Biblical Basis for Purgatory (Saint Benedict's Press, 2009).

There are numerous other commendable, and even better and more thorough books on Purgatory, but most have also this same "disadvantage" of presupposing what such readers consider proper to the conclusion of an argument rather than an assumed premise. If this is your own situation, then by all means take up and read: Tolle, Lege! Blog readers are invited to suggest literature they have found helpful on this topic as well.

Friday, May 27, 2011

'Augustinian Thomists' and 'Whig Thomists': Tracey Rowland and her critics

Christopher Blosser, in "Critical Responses to Tracey Rowland's 'Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II" (Against the Grain, May 22, 2011), offers an overview of the debate between Catholic "neoconservatives" and some of their critics (here, particularly, Rowland).

Freely admitting that his "outlook as a new Catholic convert [going on two decades ago] was largely shaped by Richard Neuhaus, Michael Novak and George Weigel -- appreciators of John Courtney Murray, SJ -- and as such, participants in an ongoing debate with Dr. Rowland, David Schindler, Alisdair MacIntyre that has been characterized by Dr. Rowland herself a conflict between "Whig Thomists and Augustinian Thomists."

Helpfully, he encourages readers unfamiliar with Rowland to read her two-part interview with Zenit:The main discussion of Christopher Blosser's overview, however, turns on Tracey Rowland's much-discussed book, Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II (Routledge, 2003).

Blosser writes:
According to Rowland, the Whig Thomists maintain that the Thomist tradition can be reconciled with the culture of modernity and that "liberalism is the logical outgrowth of the classical-theistic synthesis", while Augustinian Thomists contend that "the liberal tradition represents its mutation and heretical reconstruction, and they tend to agree with Samuel Johnson that the devil -- not Thomas Aquinas -- was the first Whig." (For a more substantial examination of the precise sense in which Thomas was heralded as the harbinger of "Catholic Whiggery", see: Aquinas:"First Whig?" Religion and Liberty September 21, 2005).

So, as you can see, possessing this bias I was not predisposed to like Rowland. Nonetheless, I did find it to be stimulating reading and a text I'll return to time and again in future explorations of this debate.
Read more >


Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to fight, and not fight, the Good Fight

An analogy employing the elements of a football game and team coach. What are the winning and losing strategies?

One could easily write an entire book on the sort of thing discussed in this video -- how those whose business it is to shepherd the sheep to the safety of the fold, along with many of the sheep, often prefer to distract themselves with banalities and irrelevancies rather than talk about the real threat of hell and what one must do to be saved.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An inconvenient truth ...

"Transcript: Al Gore Got ‘D’ in ‘Natural Sciences’ at Harvard" (CNS News, May 24, 2011).

Update: Hey, but he won the NOBEL PRIZE! (What does that tell you about our times?)

What's a good priest to do?

The erosion of faith has advanced so far in some quarters of the Church, that even some priests have begun scratching their heads and asking - 'What are we supposed to do?' Michael Voris comments on a letter from one such priest in "Priests in Pain" (RealCatholicTV.com, May 24, 2011).

The elusive truth about those sex scandals

Have you seen "Weigel about the huge ( ____ ) in the John Jay Report" (WDTPRS, May 24, 2011), where Fr. Z asks: "Did you see the analysis by George Weigel about the John Jay Study? I am just getting to it. Weigel makes good points for National Review Online."

Here are the opening two paragraphs with enumerations inserted:
The American narrative of the Catholic Church’s struggles with the clerical sexual abuse of the young has been dominated by several tropes firmly set in journalistic concrete:
  1. that this was and is a “pedophilia” crisis;
  2. that the sexual abuse of the young is an ongoing danger in the Church;
  3. that the Catholic Church was and remains a uniquely dangerous environment for young people;
  4. that a high percentage of priests were abusers;
  5. that abusive behavior is more likely from celibates, such that a change in the Church’s discipline of priestly celibacy would be important in protecting the young;
  6. that the Church’s bishops were, as a rule, willfully negligent in handling reports of abuse;
  7. that the Church really hasn’t learned any lessons from the revelations that began in the Long Lent of 2002.
But according to an independent, $1.8 million study conducted by New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and released on May 18, every one of these tropes is false.
Read more >

About your comments

I noticed Fr. Z's problems with this item too: "The software that scans for spam has become more restrictive. Sometimes it will pull completely innocent comments into the queue. Sorry."

Recently I visited the "SPAM" tab under the "Comments" heading in my blog editor, and I was dismayed to find that nearly two-thirds of the comment pulled off into that queue were not spam but perfectly legitimate. I have not idea why they were flagged as spam.

In any case, I've tried to restore as many of these as I could find, if belatedly. My apologies to anyone who might have thought I simply filed his comments unceremoniously in the trash bin. I didn't. I will keep closer tabs on that proverbial round file.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dutch Salesian priest on board of pro-pedophilia group till 2010

Superior says man-child "relationships" are not necessarily damaging[Hat tip to Nina Bryhn]

Jansenist echoes in the Bugninian reform?

I was looking through some archival material and stumbled upon this little history of liturgical errors by Father Laurent Demets, FSSP, based on the seminal work of Dom Gueranger. It is the first of an undisclosed number of lectures given five years ago by Fr. Demets to an Una Voce in Naples, Florida, and posted online under the title, "The Liturgical Stake" (Rorate Caeli, March 25, 2006).

I have extracted two passages in following. The first claims that, according to Dom Gueranger, some earlier pontifically authorized attempts at liturgical reform proved "disastrous" (Dom Gueranger's word). The second argues that Jansenist influences on 17th and 18th-century French liturgical deviations adumbrate key elements of the Bugninian reform following Vatican II.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fr. Edmond Bourque, RIP

Tridentine Community News (May 22, 2011):
We are saddened to report the passing on May 5 of a priest friend of the Extraordinary Form in this region. Fr. Ed Bourque was the principal substitute celebrant of the Windsor Tridentine Mass for many years. Many of our readers remember him from this region’s first High Funeral Mass, for Windsor Tridentine Mass Association leader Murray Harris in 2006. Fr. Bourque had a masterful grasp of the rubrics of the Tridentine Mass, and some might wonder why. Below we reprint a portion of his obituary, in which it is revealed that he taught Latin, though during his years of service to us he never mentioned this. He was also conversant in French, leading to his involvement in various French Catholic ministries.
“After his ordination on April 25, 1959, at Fall River MA, for the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, Father studied Moral Theology at the Angelicum University in Rome. Upon his return to Canada, Father was a teacher of Moral Theology, Latin and Religion at both the Major and Minor Seminaries of the Missionaries of La Salette. From 1966 - 1969 he was Novice Master for the La Salette's. From 1969 - 1974 he returned to teach at the Minor Seminary in Enfield. In 1974 - 1985 Father was the Hospital Chaplain at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Windsor. From 1985 - 1992 he was elected Vicar Provincial for the La Salette Community. From 1992 - 2001 he was appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, River Canard. From 2001 - 2004 upon his retirement he served as Hospital Chaplain at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Windsor. During his past seven years of retirement, Father has graciously assisted in many local parishes most especially at La Paroisse St. Jerome in Windsor and in our local French Schools.”
Réquiem ætérnam dona ei, Dómine, et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen.

Special Ascension Thursday Tridentine Mass
at St. Paul Church, Thamesville, Ontario

For the first time in over 40 years, St. Paul Church in Thamesville will host a Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Feast of the Ascension on Thursday, June 2 at 7:00 PM. Built in 1903, St. Paul is located at 9 Alice Street, northeast of Chatham, and is now part of the merged North American Martyrs Parish. Celebrant for the Mass will be North American Martyrs pastor Fr. John Johnson, and music will be directed by Wassim Sarweh.

Eastertide Propers Variations for Weekday Masses

Those who attend our weekday Masses may have noticed some variation in the structure of the Propers during this Easter season. Today we will examine how the Propers differ in the three principal liturgical seasons of the year: Septuagesima-Lent, Eastertide, and the remainder of the year.

Many Saints’ Feast Days do not have complete Propers of their own. Instead, they might specify custom Collect(s) to be used with one of the Masses from the “Commons” Propers. For example, there are Commons for a Confessor (who is a) Bishop, a Confessor not a Bishop, of a Holy Woman not a Martyr, etc. In the altar missal, there is frequently a Collect (Opening Prayer) unique to the Saint, and sometimes a Secret and Postcommunion that are also unique. Each Collect is designated with a “P” if it is proper to (custom for) the Saint, or “C” if it is drawn from the Commons. One confusing point: Often Postcommunions are marked “C” even if they incorporate the name of the Saint of the day if the rest of the prayer is from the Commons. Celebrants are best off flipping the book to the Collects for the day, even if they are marked “C”, and not relying on the Commons’ Collects.

In addition to the Collects, occasionally the Epistle or Gospel may be unique to the Feast and not from the Commons. Thus the Commons may be overridden with Propers to a varying extent.

In Septuagesima and Lent, the usual Alleluia is replaced by a Tract. In Eastertide (Easter Sunday through Ember Friday in Pentecost week), the Gradual and Alleluia are replaced by the Lesser and Greater Alleluias, double Alleluias with two verses from Scripture. An Alleluia is also added to all of the Antiphons, that is, the Introit, Offertory, and Communion.

During the Octaves of Easter and Pentecost, the Sequence of Easter Sunday or Pentecost Sunday, respectively, is repeated at the weekday Masses. During certain seasons, the usual Common Preface employed with most Saints’ Feasts is replaced by the seasonal one. During Eastertide, for example, the Preface of Easter is used instead.

All of the above needs to be taken into account when certain Saints’ Feast days occur in a period that might be within Lent or Eastertide one year, and outside it in another. Similarly, the rules apply if a certain Saint’s Mass is celebrated as a Votive Mass on another day of the year, such as a November Saint being celebrated during Eastertide.

By tying the Propers, including the Readings, to a particular Saint’s (or Commons) Feast, the Extraordinary Form creates and preserves a theme for that Feast. The Ordinary Form follows a similar structure for its Propers, including the use of Commons, although certain Feasts have varying Readings depending on which Readings Cycle the current year is.

“Propers Awareness” will help you follow the Mass, and the thinking of the Church, better. This is a key reason why we expend the effort to produce Propers Handouts; it makes living the Church calendar a core part of your participation at Mass.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 05/23 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria [Celebrant may choose a Votive Mass])

Tue. 05/24 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Daily Mass for the Dead with Absolution at the Catafalque)
[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 May 22, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Friday, May 20, 2011

A liturgical reformer's memoirs (1940's - 1970)

Msgr. Nicola Giampietro's The Development of the Liturgical Reform: As Seen by Cardinal Derdinando Antonelli from 1948 to 1970, (Roman Catholic Books, 2010), relates the Fernando Cardinal Antonelli's involvement in and contribution to the liturgical form from the 1940's until 1970s.

He was an influential member of the Commission for Liturgical Reform established by Pope Pius XII in 1948. He later served as the Secretary for the Liturgical Commission of the Second Vatican Council. He was a member of the post-conciliar Consilium and was appointed Archbishop Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Rites in 1965. As Alcuin Reid points out in his review of the book at the Amazon site linked above, the Concilium wages a political battle for control of the liturgical reform against the Congregation for Rites.

The publication of Msgr. Giampietro's book allows us to listen in to yet another voice and perspective in the conversations unfolding during those critical years during and after the Council.

At the end of the Concilium's first meeting, Antonelli observed:
"I am not enthusiastic about this work. I am unhappy about how much the Commission has changed. It is merely an assembly of people, many of them incompetent, and others of them well advanced on the road to novelty. The discussions are extremely hurried. Discussions are based on impressions and the voting is chaotic. What is most displeasing is that the expositive Promemorias and the relative questions are drawn up in advanced terms and often in a very suggestive form. The direction is weak."
As the Consilium's work proceeded, Reid notes, Antonelli's concerns about its competence, its predilection for innovation and its consuming haste, grew. After several years with Consilium he wrote that the liturgical reform was becoming "more chaotic and deviant":
"That which is sad...however, is a fundamental datum, a mutual attitude, a pre-established position, namely, many of those who have influenced the reform...and others, have no love, and no veneration of that which has been handed down to us. They begin by despising everything that is actually there. This negative mentality is unjust and pernicious, and unfortunately, Paul VI tends a little to this side. They have all the best intentions, but with this mentality they have only been able to demolish and not to restore."
Antoneilli observes that Bugnini "always had the backing of Paul VI," but that "his greatest lacuna was his lack of any theological training or sensibility."

What we get in Msgr. Giampietro's book, says Reid, is not a revisionist history of Vatican II, but rather part of the history of the liturgical reform and of the Council itself.

"The older rite is here to stay" - analysis of Universae Ecclesiae by Alcuin Reid

From the Catholic Herald via Fr. Z, who writes:
There is a piece on The Catholic Herald‘s site (full disclosure: I write regularly for CH now) about Benedict XVI’s provision in Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae by Alcuin Reid who reedited Fortescue/O’Connell Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described.

My [i.e., Fr. Z's] emphases and comments.
The Pope has made clear the older rite is here to stay

By Dr Alcuin Reid on Friday, 20 May 2011

It may seem rather odd that Pope Benedict XVI?has expended so much energy on rules about the use of the old “Latin Mass” – after all, it would appear that most Catholics are content with the modern liturgy in the vernacular. [Which, to date, they really have never experienced. The new translation will help to change that. But... quaeritur...] Why, then, yet another set of rules from Rome in this Instruction?

The answer is found in the fact that, as the Instruction insists, the older rites are a “precious treasure to be preserved,” and that the Holy Father wants to offer this treasure “to all the faithful”, not as a quaint museum piece but as a living source of life and grace for the whole Church of today and into the future. All laity, clergy and religious should have access to its diverse riches. [The clear implication is that all should be exposed to the traditional Form.]

These latest rules envisage the inclusion of recent saints and some new texts in the older liturgy. They even foresee new editions of the missal and other liturgical books of the older rites: the older liturgy will continue to exist [attention...] and develop as it has over the centuries up until the Second Vatican Council. But it cannot, however, now have certain modern practices (altar girls, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, etc) imposed on it. Its integrity is guaranteed. [NB: He doesn't seem to think that the inclusion of new texts puts its "integrity" at risk. Neither do I, depending on the texts, of course. How can the inclusion of new saints harm its integrity? How can the option of some additional prefaces be harmful?]

Of course, there are historical realities behind this Instruction and the 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which it clarifies. [1] In the first place there is the controversy over the liturgical changes that followed the Council. [Many changes were not foreseen by the mandates of the Council Fathers. But... quaeritur...] Were they a legitimate development or did they involve a rupture with tradition? Neither of these documents settles that question, but the Instruction does, significantly, speak of the development of the Missale Romanum “until the time of Blessed Pope John XXIII” and of the “new Missal” approved for the Church in 1970 by Paul VI. [Sounds rather like a rupture. No?] This authoritative recognition of a clear distinction between the two – both of which, the Instruction maintains, must be seen to be legitimate and valid – does admit a clear “difference” between that of Paul VI and what came before. Discussion of the implications of this will continue. [Ever since Summorum Pontificum came out, I have argued that the Pope provided a juridical solution to the relationship of the EF and OF, but he did not settle the issue of whether there were two distinct rites. In Universae Ecclesiae, which moves the discussion into more theological grounds, with its reference to Summorum Pontificum as part of the Holy Father's Magisterium, perhaps we are moving closer to an answer.]

Liturical mosh pit

The latest issue of New Oxford Review features a robust give-and-take between readers, responding to Arthur C. Sippo's earlier review, in the March issue of NOR, of Fr. Nicola Giampietro's The Development of the Liturgical Reform: As Seen by Cardinal Derdinando Antonelli from 1948 to 1970, and Mr. Sippo, in turn, responding to readers of his review.

The five reader's letters to the editor, along with Mr. Sippo's response, are offered here because they represent lively defenses of positions that are live options today. Your comments are invited, but please remember to be charitable -- especially where you may find yourself easily provoked, since the language (particularly Mr. Sippo's) does get a bit heated. Also remember to read Alcuin Reid's excellent review of Fr. Giampietro's book on the above-linked Amazon site.

Letters to the Editor
Liturgical Reform & the 'Protestantization' of Catholic Liturgy

I appreciate the NOR’s habit of publishing articles that offer different perspectives on such topics as liturgical reform. In his review of The Development of the Liturgical Reform: As Seen by Cardinal Ferdinando Anto­nelli from 1948 to 1970 by Fr. Nicola Giampietro (Mar.), Arthur C. Sippo is right in his overall perspective that liturgical reform predates Vatican II. In fact, the liturgy has been evolving for almost 2,000 years. However, never before in the history of the Church was a liturgy of venerable use arrogantly dismissed, as happened in the wake of Vatican II.

Sippo writes that, according to Cardinal Antonelli’s memoirs, it’s not the case that the post-Vatican II reform was a “Protestantization” of the liturgy, as “radical traditionalists” allege. It’s interesting to note, however, that, according to Alfons Cardinal Stickler, Pope Paul VI himself wanted to “assimilate as much as possible of the new Catholic liturgy to Protestant worship.”

Sippo writes that “improved historical scholarship and the patris­tic renaissance” of recent years has “given birth to a new consciousness of the liturgy as a dynamic participation of the faithful in the prayers and rites of the Church.” I would counter that the Novus Ordo Mass has diminished historical traditional rites, has created a wholesale vacuum in terms of vocations and converts, and has almost entirely diminished the central purpose of Holy Mass, that of sacrifice. On this point, Msgr. Bru­nero Gherardini has said, “In all truth Modernism hid itself under the cloak of Vatican II’s hermeneutic…. The new rite of Holy Mass practically silenced the nature of sacrifice, making of it an occasion for gathering together the people of God.... The eucharistic gathering was given the mere sense of sharing a meal together ...” (The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A Much Needed Discussion). Lest one think Msgr. Gherar­dini’s words are the rantings of a “radical traditionalist,” one should note that Gherardini has served as a canon of St. Peter’s Basilica, under­secretary for the Pontifical Academy of Theology, professor at the Pontifical Lateran University, and editor of Divi­nitas, a leading Roman theological journal.

Sippo concludes, “After forty years of the Pauline missal, we will be soon using a new Roman missal that will try to return the literary majesty to the Mass that the earlier reform had abandoned in favor of more colloquial and contemporary language.” This will be the equivalent of repainting a Ford Pinto: A repainting of the exterior does not the engine remake. Related to this point, Msgr. Gherardini writes, quoting Msgr. Domenico Bartolucci, master of the Sistine Chapel at the time, that the Novus Ordo “was born without music, I would even say with a poorly concealed aversion to music,” which opened the door to “amateurism, to poor taste, to superficiality…. There will soon be available a new translation of the various texts [of the Mass], certainly improved regarding some verses, but I will not marvel at all if for other passages there will be more problems than in the first edition resulting from certain exegetical or historical-theological eccentricities....”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hijacking of the New Evangelization?

"A roll call of Catholic stars" (Rorate Caeli, May 19, 2011):
The Bollettino of the Holy See Press Office publishes today the names of the consultants named for the new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization - the crème de la crème of the who's who of the upper crust of the Church of our days: they include the Vicar General of the Personal Prelature of the Opus Dei, Mons. Fernando Ocáriz, Kiko Argüello, the famous founder of the Neocatechumenate, Fr. Julián Carrión, President of Communion and Liberation, and stars of the Catholic sisterhood, such as Sister Sara Butler, Professor of Dogmatic Theology at Mundelein (known as a great defender of the Church's doctrine on female ordination, that should be recognized), and Sister Mary Lou Wirtz (right), President of the International Union of Superiors General.

Can't you just feel the new "New Springtime" arriving?
Who's minding the store? Nothing against Mons. Fernando Ocáriz and a couple others here, but what's up with the rest? At best this looks like a list of consultants put together by some bureaucrat fashionably concerned with a politically correct and undiscriminating across-the-board representation of incommensurable factions nearly certain to guarantee the balkanization of the Church's mission to evangelize.

Related: "Sister Sara Butler now against womens' ordination" (A Catholic Life, March 9, 2007).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Univérsæ Ecclésiæ: The Clarification on Summórum Pontíficum

Tridentine Community News (May 15, 2011):
Ever since Pope Benedict XVI published his Motu Proprio, Summórum Pontíficum, on July 7, 2007, freeing any priest to celebrate the Tridentine Mass without requiring the permission of his bishop, there has been expectation of a follow-up document clarifying some issues raised by the Motu Proprio. In the intervening time, it had been reported that the former President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclésia Dei, Dario Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, had prepared a Clarification and was waiting for the Holy Father’s approval. After Cardinal Hoyos’ retirement, it was reported that Msgr. Guido Pozzo, the new Secretary and effective leader of the PCED, had worked on a document. There was widespread concern a few months ago that the new document was too restrictive; an on-line petition to the Holy Father to intervene was available to be signed by those concerned. Subsequent reports stated that the message had gotten across to the Holy Father, who modified the Clarification before permitting its publication. How much of this actually transpired is beyond our knowledge.

On Friday, May 13, 2011, the mystery was put to rest with the publication of the Clarification, officially called the “Instruction on the application of the Apostolic Letter Summórum Pontíficum of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio”, and to be known by the Latin title Univérsæ Ecclésiæ, “to the whole Church.” Below we comment on some highlights of the document, which will take its place beside Ecclésiæ Dei Adflícta and Summórum Pontíficum as a landmark step in the further renewal of the Tridentine Mass in the life of the Church.

Article 15 supports the notion of cross-diocesan Tridentine Mass groups. The Windsor Tridentine Mass Association which administers the Extraordinary Form Masses at Assumption Church has been a living example of this from the day of its founding in 1991 by a joint group of Canadians and Americans. It is interesting that Rome recognizes the viability of this operational model.

Article 16 seems to make it almost obligatory for a pastor to permit a Tridentine Mass at his parish when the essential resources are available and a request has been made.

Article 17.2 seems to support the use of appropriately outfitted churches when they are available. It is a shame to see certain Tridentine Masses celebrated in humble or excessively modern facilities when a more fitting church or chapel is available nearby.

Article 21 is perhaps the most significant in the document:
“Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.”
Such a strongly-worded exhortation has far-reaching implications for the future of the Tridentine Mass. With the longest and most far-reaching experience in this region in every aspect of organizing and celebrating the Extraordinary Form dating back to 1991, our joint group of volunteers and priests from Assumption-Windsor and St. Josaphat will heed this call by offering training services to the Diocese of London, the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Diocese of Lansing, and the three regional seminaries.

Article 25 makes it clear that Saints and Prefaces will be added to the 1962 Missal, and that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will administer the process. With a uniquely accurate and growing set of Microsoft Word®-based Propers and Chant Sheets that will facilitate the creation of a master Missal which can be extended over time, we will offer our work to the PCED.

Article 28 clarifies the ban female altar servers and Communion in the hand in the Extraordinary Form.

Article 31 is the one part of the document likely to be unpopular, in that it restricts use of the traditional rites of Ordination to the orders devoted to the Extraordinary Form, such as the Fraternity of St. Peter. This may be intended to prevent the perception of there being two classes of priests within a diocese.

Article 32 says that those obliged to pray the Breviary may use the 1961 books, but may not pray the vernacular version. An important point for those affected, and an important clarification as Baronius Press is about to publish a Latin/English edition of the traditional Divine Office.

Article 33 confirms our ability to hold the Sacred Triduum at a church (or cluster) that also offers it in the Ordinary Form. Universal Church Law trumps diocesan norms.

Article 34 allows orders with their own historic liturgies, such as the Norbertines and Dominicans, to use them.

Article 35 clarifies that we are to use the 1961 Rituále Románum and Colléctio Rítuum for blessings and certain Sacraments, and not the 1964 editions.

The Introductory Notes may be found at:

The Instruction itself is at:

Click on “Inglese” on the above pages to get the English versions.

We request your prayers for Pope Benedict XVI, under whose reign the Extraordinary Form continues to gain ground.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 05/16 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Ubaldus, Bishop & Confessor, and St. Simon Stock, Confessor)

Tue. 05/17 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Paschal Baylon, Confessor)
[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 April 26, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Must read

"Msgr. Pozzo’s comments on the Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae” in L’Osservatore Romano," with introductory comments by Fr. Z (WDTPRS, May 14, 2011).

The second paragraph of his introductory remarks is telling:
I was convinced before that Summorum Pontificum aimed at promoting the use of the Extraordinary Form, not merely providing it for those who asked for it. Card. Castrillong, former President of the PCED, said this openly. The will of the Pope in the Motu Proprio included that people who don’t know the older form actually come to be exposed to it. The older, Extraordinary Form is a gift for all, not just those who know about it. For all. Every Catholic of the Latin Church – and also in the whole of the Catholic Church – has the Extraordinary Form as part of their heritage. It belongs to all of us. We must not be cheated out of our inheritance. If someone were to die and leave you a precious thing in his will, and the executor of that will kept from you, that executor would be robbing you, defrauding you, cheating you our of the treasure the person who wrote the will desired you to have. Bishops and priests: we have a responsibility now to mainstream the Extraordinary Form and those who don’t will be remiss in their responsibility. (emphasis added)

Awkwardness & fittingness in the reception of Communion

A letter to the editor of the November 2010 issue of the New Oxford Review recently averred that the needed liturgical reform is not to turn back the clock, "but to insist that the Novus Ordo Missae, or New Mass, be celebrated as Vatican II intended."

What interests me is not the author's questionable assumptions about the relation between what "Vatican II intended" and the Novus Ordo Missae, but a subsequent comment about alternative modes of receiving Communion:
... sticking out one's tongue to receive Holy Communion is not -- I repeat, is not -- more reverential than receiving the Lord in one's hand; in fact, it strikes me as less so.
Again, what interests me here is not so much the various ways in which such an observation might be criticized, but the sense in which I find myself in complete AGREEMENT with it. Permit me to explain.

While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Communion in the hand (a practice accepted in earlier Church history), the author's observation could be faulted on other grounds -- for its oblivion concerning the historical circumstances under which Communion in the hand was re-introduced in the Low Countries amidst an ethos of dissent and rejection of the Real Presence (see my "Liturgical Position Statement" near the top of the side bar for further discussion of this). Certainly it could be faulted also for its problematic symbolism, defect of fittingness, profaning of the sacred, not to mention the problem of safeguarding the Sacred Host, and particles that are sometimes dropped in transmission from hand to hand.

What strikes me as absolutely correct about the observation, however, is this: the experience of receiving on the tongue is decidedly different when it is executed while kneeling at the Communion rail vs. standing at the front of a Communion line in front of a priest. I can only attest to my personal experience here (and readers are invited to confirm or deny my claims in their own experience).

When I receive on the tongue standing, at the front of a line of communicants filing up to the front of the church, I have noticed for some time that I experience a slight but palpable awkwardness if not embarrassment. When I am standing eye-to-eye with the priest, I must agree that there is a feeling, as described by the author or the letter above, of "sticking out one's tongue" at the priest. While I have not voiced this to myself until the present moment, this seems exactly right: it feels a bit silly.

By contrast, I find that I experience none of this awkwardness when receiving kneeling at the Communion rail. This may be one of the very reasons I find the latter so much more natural, not to mention fitting, good and right in terms of symbolism, underscoring the sacredness of the Host, safeguarding the consecrated particles, and altogether reverent.

Open House Tuesday, May 17th, 7:50-11:00 AM

Peter Kreeft, who teaches at Boston College, draws a wry distinction: "There are Jesuit schools," he says, "and then there are Catholic schools." Granted, it's a bit unfair to the two or three good Jesuit schools out there, but you get the point. Then, again, there are Catholic schools, and there are Catholic schools.

Once again, the point may seem a bit subtler, but I think just about everyone knows what we mean. Some parochial schools seem so intent on being all things to all people that they end up being almost nothing to anybody. By seeking to be mainstream, they end up becoming nondescript. Sometimes they seem almost embarrassed that the Church has religious beliefs; as if it were impolite, or as if the Good News were really the Bad News.

By contrast, Spiritus Sanctus Academies are anything but nondescript or embarrassed about being Catholic. Run by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, a burgeoning young order of women religious, these independent K-8 Grade Catholic schools located in Ann Arbor and Plymouth, MI, unapologetically put the Catholic Faith front and center in all they do -- with enthusiasm and joy. One cannot repress the memory, here, of G. K. Chesterton's bracing remark: "There never was anything so perilous or exciting as orthodoxy."

You see the difference the moment you set foot in their buildings. Every school day begins with Mass, with Eucharistic Adoration on First Fridays. Religious instruction is foundational to forming the spirit, and, by the same token, to forming the mind academically. You can immediately see the difference it makes by walking the halls, reading the essays posted on the bulletin boards, and talking to the students. They are enthusiastic and energetic but also respectful, articulate and intelligent. Academically they are second to none.

Part of their success is certainly due in no small part to the family-friendly environment and intense parental involvement that is everywhere in evidence, not only in helping kids with homework, but in helping serve lunch at school, providing faculty with snacks during their mid-morning break, sharing ideas over coffee and donuts with Sr. Maria Guadalupe, the energetic principal at the Plymouth school, helping out with transportation on field trips or with sporting activities after hours.

I can remember while I was growing up in Japan, my mother began teaching me to read English after I would come home from Japanese public school, when I was in the first grade. She used materials from the Calvert Correspondence Course based in Baltimore, MD. I don't know that I was particularly slow, but and I can remember learning my first words, which were about a boy named Dick, a girl named Jane, and their pet dog named Spot. As I say, this was in the first grade. Our daughter is currently attending Kindergarten at the Spiritus Sanctus Academy in Plymouth. I don't know that she's exceptionally bright, but half-way through her first year of kindergarten she's reading book-after-book on her own; and, just yesterday, I noted that one word she read without skipping a beat was "certainly." Not bad. Her teacher, Sr. Teresa Paul, must be doing something right. I have no doubts about her potential for academic achievement at Spiritus Sanctus Academy.

Even more than her academic advancement, however, I have been noticing something that brings me great joy. When I am driving with her in the car, our daughter will spontaneously begin singing religious hymns and songs she has picked up at school. Hearing her sing these songs -- Eucharistic hymns, Marian hymns (some of them with words in Latin), songs of gratitude for God's grace and mercy -- I cannot help but be profoundly grateful to the Lord for these little seeds and habits of faith planted so early in her heart and mind; and I have no doubt she is in the right place. She is in good hands. She is in the Lord's hands here.

Two Locations:
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Principal - Sr. John Dominic O.P.
4101 East Joy Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
(734) 996-3855
Email: ComeandSee@spiritussanctus.org

Plymouth, Michigan
Principal - Sr. Maria Guadalupe O.P.
10450 Joy Road
Plymouth, MI 48170
(734) 414-8430
Email: info@spiritussanctus.org

Same times at both locations: Tuesday, May 17th, 7:50-11:00 AM

7:50 AM - 8:40 AM Mass in the school chapel
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Visiting Classrooms, Labs, Gymnasium, etc.
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Coffee & tea with parents

Friday, May 13, 2011

For the record: Universae Ecclesiae

The Vatican Instruction and clarification of the import of Pope Benedict's earlier Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum (2007), was signed on April 30th, the memorial of Pope St. Pius V under the new calendar, and released by Cardinal Levada of the CDF earlier today on May 13th, Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima -- certainly no coincidences.

A translation in English (and several other languages) can be found on the blog, Rorate Caeli.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorff today posted a podcast worth listening to, if you have the time, "PODCAzT 119: Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae” (WDTPRS, May 13, 2011), as well as a likewise lengthy written summary, "RELEASED: Instruction 'Universae Ecclesiae'” – the text and my initial observations (WDTPRS, May 13, 2011).

For what it's worth, one of my esteemed colleagues, a professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, points out that in no. 21, we are told that "Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite." He then comments: "I notice that the Latin text (which I assume is normative) has 'Ordinari enixe rogantur ...' The 'enixe' shows that the Ordinaries are 'earnestly' or 'vehemently' asked to offer their priests and seminarians these possibilities for training in the EF."

And here is "Rorate's suggested Application of Paragraph 19 of the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae" for you all-too-serious guys:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vatican clarification this Friday

"Instruction Universae Ecclesiae on Friday" (Rorate Caeli, May 11, 2011):
The Holy See Press Office announces that the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", on the application of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, will be made public on Friday, May 13th, and will be published on that afternoon (May 14th edition of L'Osservatore Romano). The Instruction will be published in its Latin typical version, and in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese translations.
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf adds, in "Notes about today’s Fishwrap" (WDTPRS, May 11, 2011):
... I predict [Fishwrap] will say that this Instruction means nothing, it’s no big deal, it is only for a few disgruntled troglodytes. Blah blah blah. I respond saying that, if it isn’t an earthquake, it is surely a rumble. And it means that, among other things, the three year study period critics of the Motu Proprio set their hopes on is overrrrr. Summorum Pontificum is here to stay and it was not weakened.
Of course, someone will observe that promulgated law may continue being ignored in the absence of any particular love for the lawgiver or the law, and the absence of any obliging compulsion to accede.

[Hat tip to T.F.]

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Priesthood and Good Shepherd Sunday

Last Sunday's homily by the Rev. Robert Marczewski was particularly engaging, I thought. It was the Second Sunday after Easter, traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday, and Fr. Marczewski chose to relate the theme of the Good Shepherd to the shepherding or pastoring provided by our ministerial priests.

I wish I had taken notes, but just off the top of my head (with due apology for occasional license and interpolation), one contrast he drew was between the comparatively poor reputation the Catholic priesthood now suffers in the public image and the venerable dignity embodied in the priesthood through the sacrament of Holy Orders.

On the one hand, with all the bad press in the world today, who would wish to become a priest? Nobody. At least, not without the grace of a supernatural vocation. This is driven home to me every time I teach a class full of discerning seminarians. I repeatedly catch myself in amazement at how young men still respond with open and willing hearts, swimming upstream, as it were, against the current of the times.

On the other hand, it is the ordained priest alone who is singularly graced to confect the Body of Christ upon the altar and can properly say in persona Christi, "For this is my body ..." (Hoc est enim corpus meum). It is he alone who is empowered to declare in persona Christi, "I absolve you" (te absolvo).

Hence it is that parishioners used to revere their priest, bowing as he passed them in procession to the altar of the church, and even piously kissing his hand in a gesture of veneration and gratitude, according to the customs of years gone by. Priests were not treated simply as avuncular chums but as consecrated men embodying Christ with us, for that is what they are and should be.

We hear these days about a "vocations crisis," said Fr. Marczewski, but in fact there is no crisis in "vocations." God's vocation -- His "calling" -- of men to priestly ministery has never ceased or diminished. If anything, it is a crisis of deafness in a world gone mad; and the divine vocations have thus fallen on deaf ears today, likely because of the deafening din of distractions from the secular society about us. Where our liege Lord, the Holy Mighty One, the Holy Immortal One, the King and future Judge of the World has been reduced too often to a "Buddy Christ," it is small wonder that we have trouble hearing.

The future of the priesthood, said Fr. Marczewski, indicating the parishioners, "depends upon you." It is "out of you" that future priests will arise, and so you must pray. Pray for young men today, that they would hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and respond to His call, His vocation, to become good shepherds of the sheep.

Celebrity leftovers: the agony of Mel Gibson

Our film and media correspondent called my attention recently to Max Lindenman's piece, "Welcome Back, Mel, You Creep. I Missed You" (The Anchoress, May 7, 2011), and commented:
Interesting little piece on Mel Gibson. I confess when I saw the trailer for "The Beaver," I cringed. I am somewhat of the opinion that faith and celebrity are entirely incompatible, although I know this can't really be the case. But celebrities trying to walk the straight-and-narrow seem to implode by default. Also, the core of Hollywood culture is vanity, so how does anyone square that?

I looked back on this older piece on him, which I thought helpful, and the comments that ensued pretty good as well.

But you really realize what was potentially there and at least somewhat lost when you read this old New Yorker piece, which had some stunning stuff in it.
One can appreciate the ambivalence of Lindenmann toward Mel Gibson: "Really, I can’t put my finger on why I’m feeling so sentimental about Mel Gibson — not after his anti-Semitic tantrum, his racist tantrum, his domestic- partner abuse, his ... you name it." But then there is also this little, sometimes inconvenient, fact about his also being a Catholic, having unquestionable talent, and that he has clawed his way out of previous pits of self-indulgent sin and desperation to make films like Braveheart, The Patriot and The Passion of the Christ. None of us may be so notorious a sinner as Gibson, but we also know, as he surely does, that the Church and Her Sacraments are, in the end, a matter of one beggar telling another where to find bread.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Monday, May 09, 2011

"The decline of the sacred was ... willed and planned"??

Helen Hull Hitchcock, who is editor and publisher of Adoremus Bulletin, has been running a series of columns in which are reprinted the chapters of a book written by her husband, Professor James Hitchcock, a decade after the Second Vatican Council. The latest installment is the eighth and final chapter of James Hitchcock's book, The Recovery of the Sacred(1974; rpt. Ignatius Press, 1995), which is also available in the online edition of the Adoremus Bulletin under the title of "The Recovery of the Sacred: Reforming the Reformed Liturgy." The chapter opens with the following two provocative paragraphs:
The decline of the sense of the sacred in worship was not, as some reformers have argued, the inevitable effect of a secular age. If anything, advanced secular culture has shown itself more open to the sacred and the pseudo-sacred than at any time within memory. The spirit of pragmatic, technological rationality is in at least temporary disfavor, and the sacral worship of the Church was, paradoxically, more appealing and effective in the 1950s, when that spirit was more pervasive than it is now.

The decline of the sacred was, rather, something which was willed and planned: its demise was predicted by those who wished it to occur and who took steps to bring it about. To some extent also it occurred through inadvertence, by a process of liturgical change which gave little thought to long-term effects."
Read the rest of the article ...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Liturgy and personality

I remember reading somewhere how Dietrich von Hildebrand, after converting to the Catholic Faith, used to run enthusiastically down the street, coattails flying, to be on time for daily Mass. He loved everything about his newfound religion. As much as anything else, he loved its liturgy.

In fact, he even wrote a book entitled Liturgy and Personality,about the “healing power of formal prayer” -- the power of liturgy to profoundly form and positively shape personality. Far from furnishing us with mere training wheels until we "mature" into more personal and spontaneous prayers "from the heart," formal liturgical prayer is actually the superior form of prayer, according to von Hildebrand. The key is to enter into the prayer of the Church, to make it one's own, to "pray the Mass," as St. Pope Pius X used to say, and to live it.

Formal liturgy -- so staid and “impersonal,” and even “oppressive” in the eyes of so many today -- is actually set forth in its proper meaning as the “source and summit” of our prayer life as Catholics, the place where we encounter our Lord and our God, see where we belong in His Kingdom and, in the process, learn who we are meant to be. In coming to know our God through the Church's liturgy, we come to know ourselves.

An Editor’s note in the latest edition of the book states that "Liturgy and Personality concerns the essence of the liturgy rather than the details of any particular liturgy,” and so urges the reader “to use von Hildebrand’s numerous liturgical examples to discover the gist of his arguments demonstrating the personality-forming power of the Liturgy,” so that these points can then “be related, where appropriate, to comparable elements in today’s Liturgy.”

It is no small point, however, that Liturgy and Personality was first published in 1932 in German: the Mass von Hildebrand loved, and through which he encountered the Lord, was the traditional Latin Mass of the Roman Rite -- the one most Catholics and others today would experience as something prima facie alien, if not alienating, including its "impersonal" Latin and the priest's "back turned to the people." This is the Mass -- this one -- to which he would fly down the street with his open coat billowing behind him!

It's enough to make any sane person wonder, is it not? But then, what is sanity, liturgically speaking? Is it the product of liturgical committees? Remember the joke about the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist? You can negotiate with the terrorist.

First and foremost, von Hildebrand was a Catholic philosopher, and his books on ethics and value-theory are substantial and profound. In the latter half of his life, however, after moving to the United States and after the Second World War, he increasingly turned the attention of his formidable mind to matters of the Church. For him, these were matters of the heart; and he was especially concerned with developments in the Church in the modern post-war world. Many of these developments he found troubling -- modernism, secularism, relativism, dissent, immorality -- and, above all, some of the experiments and innovations he lived to see in the Church's sacred liturgy.


The Sabbatine Privilege

Tridentine Community News (May 8, 2011):
Following up on our recent series of columns on the Divine Office, today we examine the associated Sabbatine Privilege, an opportunity of great grace given to us by our Blessed Mother.

Originally the second part of Our Lady’s [Brown] Scapular Promise, the Sabbatine Privilege was approved by Pope John XXII in 1322 and confirmed by several subsequent popes. The Carmelite order, which has always promoted and been associated with the Brown Scapular devotion, has also historically striven to make known the Sabbatine Privilege.

The Sabbatine Privilege is a promise by our Blessed Mother that she would liberate from Purgatory, on the Saturday after their death, those souls who met the following conditions during their lives on earth. “Sabbatine” is an adjective deriving from Sábbato, the Latin word for Saturday.

The conditions are:
  1. The wearing of the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The wearer must have been enrolled in the Scapular. [Enrollment is a prayer prayed by a priest upon distribution of the Scapular. It need only be done once in a person’s life. St. Josaphat and Assumption Churches distribute Brown Scapulars and offer Enrollment each year on the Sunday nearest to the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16.]

  2. Living a life of chastity, according to one’s state in life.

  3. The daily recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As alternatives to this condition:
    a. Those who are bound to recitation of the full Divine Office fulfill this condition by praying the full Office instead.

    b. Those who cannot read may instead abstain from eating meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays, unless Christmas Day falls on one of those days.

    c. Any priest with diocesan faculties may commute this condition to some other pious work, ordinarily the recitation of the daily Rosary. Simply ask a priest and obtain his verbal permission. This is a far more practical thing to ask of a layperson nowadays, especially if the requirement is to pray all of the Little Office Hours every day [and that aspect of the condition is not clear].
Questions Raised

Some issues come to mind when trying to come to a modern-day understanding of the Sabbatine Privilege. First, it is not mentioned in the currently in-force 2006 edition of the Manual of Indulgences. That book and its immediate predecessor editions explicitly rescind all pre-Vatican II Indulgences formerly granted. If one understands the Sabbatine Privilege as an Indulgence, then one can reasonably question whether it is still in force.

Conversely, if one understands it as a devotion established by our Blessed Mother, akin to the First Saturday devotion, then one could argue that it does not need ratification via inclusion in the Manual of Indulgences. In this circumstance, it falls under the realm of Private Revelation.

One might also question why some, but not all, members of the Carmelite Order have in recent years ceased to promote the Sabbatine Privilege, under grounds of modern scholarship and compatibility with current Church understanding. Imagine how a faithful Catholic who had practiced this devotion for years might feel upon learning that what he had been practicing was no longer supported.

As we have discovered when examining similar questions on other topics in previous columns, there is a need for Rome to offer definitive clarifications on subjects such as these, especially in this time of restoration of traditional forms of Liturgy and Devotions.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 05/09 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop, Confessor, & Doctor)

Tue. 05/10 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Antoninus, Bishop & Confessor)

Wed. 05/11 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Ss. Philip & James, Apostles)

Sun. 05/15 12:00 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (Third Sunday After Easter) – Reception follows Mass in the rectory.
[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 April 26, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Friday, May 06, 2011

Bloggers and the Vatican

A gathering of bloggers at the Vatican recently were addressed by Michael Voris. Here he takes you inside the building where the bloggers assembled, after a brief introduction outside and across the street. His speech provides a nice resume of the state of the Church, in my opinion, and of the contribution laity (bloggers included) can and need to make in the world under present-day conditions.

In related news, here are a few recent choice episodes of The Vortex:

Monday, May 02, 2011

For the record: 9/11/01 - 5/1/11 (Bin Laden dead)

The EF: "I couldn't understand a thing!"

I've been thinking for several months about writing something on the question of what level of 'cred' one should attach to the judgment of a tyro visiting the EF Mass for the first time; and an occasion has presented itself to precipitate a post in the near future.

The question is an interesting one. Personal impressions have to count for something, of course; but for what, exactly? Subjective reactions are usually based, whether consciously or not, on some sort of objective datum. What objective criteria exist for adjudicating between rival judgments? Intellectual transparency? Aesthetic excellence? Theological substance?

As I say, it's an interesting question. Every Protestant Fundamentalist thinks he understands what Catholicism is all about, more or less, without bothering to investigate what it is that devout Catholics love about their faith; and I suppose the Fundamentalist would return the favor in his opinion about Catholic dismissals of Fundamentalism. What happens, however, when a Fundamentalist who loves his faith goes on to embrace the corrective 'more' of Catholicism without recoiling in disgust at his erstwhile affiliation, as though it were nothing but error and blight?

But I am jumping the gun here. More anon.