Friday, November 30, 2012

Judge denies gay motion to overturn NV marriage law

This interesting account of legal reasoning from Judge Robert Jones in his decision to deny gay activists motion to redefine marriage:
Nevada is willing to gamble on a lot of things, but marriage isn't one of them. In federal court yesterday, Judge Robert Jones dealt a big setback to state activists hoping to redefine marriage. His opinion, which he issued just days after oral arguments, may be one of the most compelling yet on the question of "equality" for homosexual couples. The lead plaintiffs in the case are two lesbians, both grandmothers, who argued that Nevada's 10-year-old marriage amendment is discriminatory. Judge Jones emphatically disagreed in a 41-page masterpiece that thoroughly dismantled the Left's legal logic. Homosexuals aren't being denied the right to marry, Jones explained. They simply have to abide by the same criteria as everyone else.

"Like heterosexual persons, they may not marry members of the same sex." In fact, Jones wrote, "A homosexual man may marry anyone a heterosexual man may marry, and a homosexual woman may marry anyone a heterosexual woman may marry." In other words, this isn't about discrimination or equal protection. "Homosexuals have not historically been denied the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, or the right to own property," he pointed out. "The protection of the traditional institution of marriage, which is a conceivable basis for the distinction in this case, is a legitimate state interest," he said, adding that if the state recognized same-sex couples' marriages, heterosexuals might "cease to value the civil institution as highly as they previously had and hence enter into it less frequently... because they no longer wish to be associated with the civil institution as redefined."

[Hat tip to E. Echeverria]

Amusing post on inter-religious liturgical orientation

"Interreligious dialogue 101: Ad Flip-flopem" (Rorate Caeli, November 30, 2012) . . . on Post-Temple Judaism, Islam, and Post-1970 Catholicism.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Laudamus Te -- the "Magnificat" for the TLM

Fr. Z. today posted the following: "REVIEW: Laudamus Te – The Magazine of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite" (WDTPRS, November 28, 2012). He writes:

"Many of you subscribe to or know the small booklet Magnificat, an aid for the post-Conciliar form of Holy Mass. It is pocket-size and it is sent to you each, I believe, month.

"There is now a similar aid for the Usus Antiquior, or Extraordinary Form, the Traditional Latin Mass.

"Laudamus Te. The Magazine of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Liturgy of the Roman Rite [website for orders HERE]

"Since that says “Latin Liturgy”, I assume that they will eventually have something about, say, Vespers. Latin Liturgy means a lot more than Mass.

"In any event, the little booklet is very attractive at fist glance.

"You can tell from the shine that it is glossy.

"This for Advent 2012, Volume 1, Issue 1."

Read the entire review with many more photos HERE >>

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Russia's take on Obama

Xavier Lerma, "Obama's Soviet Mistake" (Pravda, November 19, 2012) writes:
Putin in 2009 outlined his strategy for economic success. Alas, poor Obama did the opposite but nevertheless was re-elected. Bye, bye Miss American Pie. The Communists have won in America with Obama but failed miserably in Russia with Zyuganov who only received 17% of the vote. Vladimir Putin was re-elected as President keeping the NWO order out of Russia while America continues to repeat the Soviet mistake.

... Recently, Obama has been re-elected for a 2nd term by an illiterate society and he is ready to continue his lies of less taxes while he raises them. He gives speeches of peace and love in the world while he promotes wars as he did in Egypt, Libya and Syria. He plans his next war is with Iran as he fires or demotes his generals who get in the way.
After Mr. Obama's first election, the then Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January of 2009. Ignored by the West as usual, Putin gave a speech with a markedly Reagan-esque tone, suggesting that the world should avoid the Soviet mistake.

Putin chided Western military adventurism, suggesting that the vast economic resources poured into warfare could be used more constructively elsewhere. Mr. Lerma's article turns downright comic at this point:
Well, any normal individual understands that as true but liberalism is a psychosis . O'bomber even keeps the war going along the Mexican border with projects like "fast and furious" and there is still no sign of ending it. He is a Communist without question promoting the Communist Manifesto without calling it so. How shrewd he is in America. His cult of personality mesmerizes those who cannot go beyond their ignorance. They will continue to follow him like those fools who still praise Lenin and Stalin in Russia. Obama's fools and Stalin's fools share the same drink of illusion.

Reading Putin's speech without knowing the author, one would think it was written by Reagan or another conservative in America. The speech promotes smaller government and less taxes. It comes as no surprise to those who know Putin as a conservative. Vladimir Putin went on to say:
  • "...we are reducing taxes on production, investing money in the economy. We are optimizing state expenses.
  • The second possible mistake would be excessive interference into the economic life of the country and the absolute faith into the all-mightiness of the state.
  • There are no grounds to suggest that by putting the responsibility over to the state, one can achieve better results.
  • Unreasonable expansion of the budget deficit, accumulation of the national debt - are as destructive as an adventurous stock market game.
  • During the time of the Soviet Union the role of the state in economy was made absolute, which eventually lead to the total non-competitiveness of the economy. That lesson cost us very dearly. I am sure no one would want history to repeat itself."
President Vladimir Putin could never have imagined anyone so ignorant or so willing to destroy their people like Obama much less seeing millions vote for someone like Obama. They read history in America don't they? Alas, the schools in the U.S. were conquered by the Communists long ago and history was revised thus paving the way for their Communist presidents. Obama has bailed out those businesses that voted for him and increased the debt to over 16 trillion with an ever increasing unemployment rate especially among blacks and other minorities. All the while promoting his agenda.
But of course we shouldn't trust anything Pravda says, because Russian media -- unlike ourse -- is nothing but an instrument of government propaganda. Read more >>

The banality of evil

As my friend Jerry Bowyer says, "What is most amazing is how put together they look. We're raising a generation urged to put almost all effort into the outside and no effort into the inside. We have a national narcissism epidemic: my strong advice it so learn to protect yourself from it."

"America" is no longer America. The barbarians are not outside the gates. The barbarians are your neighbours, drive drive SUV's, use iPhones, shop at Nordstrom's, and have children who shoplift from Bloomingdale's and steal money from little Girl Scouts. They elect our unprincipled politicians, occupy the highest offices in the nation, hold academic chairs in colleges and universities, dominate our media, populate our entertainment industry, produce our TV shows, magazines, and tabloids. The barbarians are upon us. We are the barbarians.

More commentary by David McElroy, "Is this what happens when you teach children there are no absolutes?" (Recovering Political Prostitute, June 1, 2012).

[Hat tip to Jerry Bowyer]

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Orientalism of Barack Obama

By Terry Scambray

Of course the new documentary movie 2016: Obama's Americawas timed by conservative intellectual and bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza to discredit President Barack Obama. Nonetheless, there can’t be much doubt that the President’s vision of America is driven by his attitude toward the perceived sins of European colonialism and his fear that America has now assumed that mantle. The film offers evidence that this is Obama’s vision while suggesting what America would look like by the year 2016 should he be re-elected.

To support this portrayal of Obama, the film begins by showing that he returned a bust of Winston Churchill that was given to President George W. Bush by the British after 9/11. According to President Obama, his Kenyan grandfather was tortured and imprisoned by the British, though David Maraniss, a sympathetic Obama biographer, discounts that story. Nonetheless, Churchill was Britain’s prime minister during a later uprising that led to Kenyan independence. D’Souza argues that this bad blood has caused Obama to hate colonialism, especially the British version. This hatred was passed on to the President by his father, Barack Obama Sr.

But Obama’s father deserted him and later only saw him once more during a month-long visit when the future President was ten years old. Besides that, psychological explanations based on long-ago events are always tricky, permitting observers to come to opposite conclusions based upon exactly the same evidence.

A simpler and more direct explanation is that Oba­ma’s attitude toward colonialism was influenced by his professors and the intelligentsia, that herd of independent thinkers who passionately share the same view and around whom Obama has spent his adult life.

The film, for its part, does name the individuals who helped shape the geopolitical outlook of the young Barack Obama, the most important of whom is Edward W. Said, whose 1978 book Orientalismcontinues to be an enduring influence in the academy. Though the book begs to be taken seriously as a complex explanation of what divides East from West, Said’s thesis is that the West has created a mythology about the peoples of Asia and Africa that portrays them, in the final analysis, as inferiors; consequently, Asians and Africans have an inferiority complex.

2016 arguably spends too much time making the case for the influence of Obama’s father, but the film does open to a wider audience the reasons why Western civilization and America are reviled by the intelligentsia. As the argument goes, Third World poverty is the direct result of exploitation by richer countries with histories of colonialism. “Inequality” within America, a comparison the film tidily bundles together with global inequality, is also explained by such poor logic.

Yet this argument ignores the fact that the impoverished conditions in the Third World existed prior to the colonialists’ arrival. That is, if the colonialists encountered an underdeveloped world, some entity or events besides colonialism must have underdeveloped it.

So too did slavery exist in Asia and Africa hundreds of years before the Europeans arrived, and slavery continued in those regions long after it had been abolished in the West. One fact stands out: Most societies had slaves, but only the English, at great personal and financial risk, outlawed slavery in their territories, which eventually led to its worldwide abolition.

So heavy is the guilt that has been laid on England that this prodigious fact was not even alluded to in its Olympic opening celebration in London this past July.

Yes, colonialists did exploit and brutalize native peoples, such as the Belgians did in Central Africa and the Portuguese in Angola. But, as in many comparable situations, if European colonizers are to be blamed for anything, it should be for failing to live up to their own Judeo-Christian standards. Certainly by the standards operating among the subject peoples the West did nothing wrong because the various tribal societies saw slavery, as well as the exploitation of others and the environment, as normal.

If the critics of colonialism were sincere, they would also be critical of, say, the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which lasted over six hundred years and engaged in incessant wars of aggression and genocide. Nor does the Soviet empire ever seem to be included in this criticism, what with its policies of starvation, torture, enslavement, and mass murder of millions of its subject people.

Ignoring the savagery of others while demeaning the West is but another example of the way in which “hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.” That is, hypocrites acknowledge virtue each time they rely on it as a standard against which to measure vice.

For neither the Ottomans, the Soviets, nor assorted others contributed a religious ethic, a democratic system, or technology that improved the lot of their subject people. In fact, nobody would even expect these evil empires to be measured by such a standard! By contrast, Western colonialism was like the bee that takes nectar from a flowering plant, but in doing so it also deposits pollen that insures the fecundity and productivity of the plant.

In the most intriguing scene in the film, this point is made when D’Souza interviews the President’s half-brother, George Obama, who lives on a few dollars a month in a hut in Nairobi. George Obama, himself an author with a mellow sense of irony, argues in his book Homelandthat Kenya would have been better off if it had stayed longer under British rule. He concludes that Malaysia and Singapore are more advanced economically than Kenya precisely because they remained colonies for longer periods of time.

Another memorable moment in the film is the dramatized re-enactment of a young D’Souza departing his native India to come to the U.S. We see him hugging his parents and others, then getting into a taxi and, as the taxi pulls away, waving soberly back at his family and friends, closing that chapter of his life forever.

Though the scene is a bit chalky, it stirs memories of the emotions with which our ancestors must have struggled when they left their families to come to America. And just as D’Souza’s attitude toward America conflicts with Obama’s, this scene intensifies the main conflict in the film, a conflict between the hope and expectation in this farewell scene and those individuals in the rest of the film who have a grudge against the West and particularly America.

As 2016 shows, America itself has a strand of anti-colonialism dating back to the Revolutionary War. But the “anti-colonialism” explored in 2016 is an alien concoction composed mostly of neo-Marxism mixed with a smidgen of post-Victorian disillusionment, a leftover from British elites who self-righteously presided over the decline of their own colonial empire.

As for Karl Marx, he had no animus against colonialism, seeing it as merely another stage in society’s evolution, preparing the way for the “inevitable” international socialist revolution that would overthrow the capitalist system. But by the end of the nineteenth century, contrary to Marx’s predictions, conditions in capitalist nations were improving, especially in the U.S., where our immigrant ancestors were arriving by the millions.

By the 1920s, Lenin, ensconced in the Kremlin, realized that his “worker’s paradise” was being upstaged by America’s “melting pot.” By then he had read John A. Hobson, one of those British intellectuals disillusioned with colonialism. Despite capitalism’s apparent success, Hobson offered the thesis that capitalism was actually riding on the backs of colonized peoples. Needing some oxygen to revive his theories of oppression, Lenin seized upon the concept of colonized peoples as “victims” of capitalism’s global reach. Others then parroted the same line.

Too bad Barack Obama is among them.

Terry Scambray lives and writes in Fresno, California. The foregoing article, "The Orientalism of Barack Obama," was originally published in the New Oxford Review (November, 2012), and is reproduced here by kind permission of New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706.

Related: Dinesh D'Souza, Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream.
From inside the flap: "To Obama, the hated 'one percent' isn't just wealthy Americans; it is America itself.

"Building on his previous bestseller on Barack Obama, The Roots of Obama's Rage, . . .D'Souza shows how Obama's goal to downsize America is in plain sight but ignored by everyone.

"D'Souza lays out what Obama plans to do in a second administration -- a makeover of America so drastic that the "shining city on a hill" will become a shantytown in a rather dangerous global village."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Karl Rahner's Baneful Impact on Theology

By Charles W. James

Karl Rahner is, without debate, the most influential Catholic theologian of the 20th century. During the course of his spectacular career he wrote or spoke on almost every subject of the Christian faith. When I studied theology at the Jesuit-run University of Santa Clara, Rahner was quoted with more authority than St. Thomas Aquinas. As an Anglican, that gave me pause, so I decided to dig deeper into Rahner's thought. What struck me immediately was Rahner's insistence on interacting with modern European philosophy, especially that of Immanuel Kant. Rahner was unwilling to carry out his theological task in the vacuum of a biblical positivism. He engaged modern philosophy in theological debate, forcing philosophy and theology to speak to each other. Some found this conversation threatening while others found it refreshing. This ambiguous response toward Rahner was reflected in the way he was treated during the Second Vatican Council. At the start of the Council, Rahner was not allowed to act as a peritus -- a theological expert who consults with the Council Fathers. But this semi-ban was lifted from Rahner when Pope John XXIII intervened and gave him the status of theological consultant.

But Rahner's influence has grown even further in the postconciliar period. First, most of his substantive theological works have been translated from the German so that the sheer weight of his theological system is felt by many. The second reason Rahner is so influential today is that he fits our postmortem mentality. Rahner would rather describe God as "holy mystery" than as absolute being. In the developed theology of Rahner, God is not so much the esse absolutum as the mysterium absolutum. This shift from metaphysics to mystery is Rahner's central contribution to the theology of God, but also his greatest liability. To be sure, we sense a subtle attraction to this theology of mystery because the Church has always acknowledged the incomprehensibility of God. We realize that our finite minds can only speak of God analogously. We know that we can have no direct, clear, or full idea of our Creator. "We see through a glass, darkly," as St. Paul said.

But Rahner's use of the notion of mystery goes further than merely a description of God. He wishes to use mystery as a criterion of theological truth. This mystery, which is God, becomes Rahner's theological touchstone. He sees mystery not only as a description of God, but as the nature of human consciousness as well. Following Martin Heidegger, Rahner says that the human being is the questioning being because the person himself is a question. And this questioning nature of the human person guarantees that mystery will remain an intrinsic part of human knowing. Rahner is thus able to argue that the mystery of God and the mystery of the human spirit are in continuity. Rahner says that the very way we come to verify and clarify our everyday knowledge is by illuminating our sensations with the mystery beyond us. We somehow already recognize this mystery, our minds move toward it by the universal grace of God, and we use it to give meaning to what confronts us in the world. Hence, for Rahner, mystery serves as a criterion of truth, a backdrop to all our finite thought. The mystery, which is God, answers the human quest for truth. Absolute mystery serves as a measure for the all-too-human striving of our intellect. In short, Rahner replaces the Thomistic analogy of being with an analogy of mystery (analogia mysterii).

This is all very postmodern because it agrees with the postmodern turn away from the metaphysical foundations of thought. The postmodern attitude eschews Plato's forms as well as Aristotle's teleology. It is even ill-at-ease with Darwin and Marx because both held to the 19th-century metaphysical idea of inevitable progress. Rahner fits well within this postmodern attitude because he does not attempt to ground his theology in a metaphysical constant, but rather in mystery. Mystery is his ground as well as his criterion of the validity of theological truth. One may wonder why any Christian would disagree with Rahner's description of God as "holy mystery," or with validating our thought by this mystery. At first look, it appears to provide the spiritual orientation that much of our contemporary theology needs.

But does Rahner's criterion of mystery serve to validate our beliefs or merely relativize them? Can mystery validate thought? Can it serve as a measure of clarity against which we may compare our very unclear ideas? By its very nature Rahner's notion of mystery cannot possibly serve this function. Permanent mystery can neither validate nor clarify our thought, it can only reveal its finitude. Granted, Rahner's stance has given us a needed pastoral warning against conceptual arrogance, but he has not given us a usable criterion of theological truth. What we need in order to validate our thought and our theological statements is not mystery, but a criterion that is substantial and specific enough to serve as a practical guide for our groping intellects. We need a portrait of truth and reality that shares in both the contingencies of history and the absoluteness of divinity. This criterion, marked by both radical contingency and radical divinity, is what the Church calls revelation. Should the Church attempt to go "behind" revelation -- try to validate her message by an appeal to mystery? The very opaqueness of mystery makes it difficult to see how we could ever connect revelation, much less our paltry thoughts, with the infinite otherness of this "holy mystery."

In fact, Rahner tells us that we cannot even conceive of this mystery; it must be experienced in its infinite silence. But if this is so, how can a nonconceptual (experiential) criterion serve to clarify, much less validate, our conceptual thought? It may be possible to find a home for our feelings in this "holy mystery," but what about our ideas? For all of Rahner's lip service to history and contingency, it seems that he has imprisoned truth in a heaven of mystery which can only be penetrated by the experiential and affective sides of human nature. But if we desire the clarification of our concepts or the validation of our theo-logy, we are left standing before the obscurity of this heaven, outside the gates.

We might ask Rahner just how he would go about clarifying or validating a theological statement with his criterion of mystery. In his essay "Reflections on Methodology in Theology," he argues that the propositions of theology must constantly be referred back to religious experience. The job of the theologian is reductio in mysterium -- i.e., a referring of the theological statement back to the theologian's (or the Church's) experience of absolute mystery. In his essay "What is a Dogmatic Statement?" Rahner says that a true theological statement "leads into the mysterium." Rahner makes our experience of mystery the criterion of theological truth. Only those theological statements which reflect this experienced mystery are valid statements. Hence, the experience of mystery is the measure of theology.

But notice what Rahner is really saying. It is not even the "holy mystery" itself that functions as a criterion of theological truth for Rahner, but rather our experience of this mystery. Rahner has ironically allowed his criterion of mystery to become no more than an experience emanating from the subjectivity of religious feeling. We can only "know" mystery by experiencing it and this experience becomes the criterion of theological truth. Rahner has not successfully surpassed Kant's subjectivity which led straight to the Romantic piety of Schleiermacher. Rather than helping us integrate our thought and our religious experience, Rahner hopelessly dichotomizes them, leaving thought to fend for itself without any theological rationale.

* * * * * * *

Robert Coles has recently stated that we live in an age of "applauded subjectivity." The postmodern age emphasizes subjectivity out of its fear of objectivity. The postmodernist, whether theological or not, lazily prefers the wide open spaces of obscurity to the hard, narrow road of clarity.

* * * * * * *
Robert Coles has recently stated that we live in an age of "applauded subjectivity." The postmodern age emphasizes subjectivity out of its fear of objectivity. The postmodernist, whether theological or not, lazily prefers the wide open spaces of obscurity to the hard, narrow road of clarity. Rahner's criterion fits well with this attitude since his principle of mystery precludes conceptual clarity. The central problem is: Given that people have wildly differing religious experiences, how will we adjudicate between one theology and another? Also: How will we ever be able to develop a criterion of theological truth that is more than the mirror-image of ourselves? Human beings need a criterion that will give them a worldview that acknowledges both the real contingencies of their existence and the objective grace that pervades that existence.

The Church finds her criterion of truth in revelation, which means that there is a source of knowledge outside human consciousness. For anyone with commitments to postmodern humanism, this is anathema. To claim that knowledge could come from any source apart from human creativity is to contradict flatly the postmodern mentality. But the Church's acknowledgment of divine revelation makes just that claim. The belief in divine revelation serves as a warning against our self-congratulatory intellectual subjectivity. The idea that the "Word of God" is disturbingly and freely present within the world of contingent history makes our privatization of religion in modern Western culture a rather absurd attempt at domesticating the giant. What disturbs many postmodernists about revelation is not its divine nature, but its historical presence. If revelation were confined to the heaven of pure spirit, all would be well. But the Church insists that revelation is, by its nature, historical. It participates in the radical contingency which is part of human experience. It is not a purely formal and limitless category, nor is it conveniently obscured by the mysteriousness of its absoluteness. Revelation is incarnational, sharing in both the contingency of our history and absoluteness of divinity. In order to verify her thought, the Church does hot look up to absolute mystery; rather, she looks out to history, to "deeds and words." As the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation states, "This economy of revelation is realized by deeds and words, which are intrinsically bound up with each other." This Vatican II document goes on to state that the deeds of God in history reveal the doctrine in the words. But also, the words "bring to light the mystery they [the deeds] contain." Note the restricted use of mystery here. The locus of mystery is history, not, as in Rahner, the limitless mysterium absolutum.

Kart Rahner, S.J., with his colleague Joseph Ratzinger, at the Second Vatican Council
If the Church wants to validate or clarify her theology, she cannot do so by piercing through the appearance of revelation toward some formless mystery. She must patiently pay attention to the events of history and the words of Scripture and Tradition in order to relate her experience to her inherited concepts. In the ongoing work of the mutual interpretation of deeds and words, the Church faces the mystery of God. This mystery, however, is not her criterion of truth, but the inspiration to continue her journey. To use a nautical metaphor, mystery fills the sails of the Church, but something else must serve as her compass.

If we follow Rahner's use of mystery as a criterion of theological truth, we will be forcing the experiential and affective nature of our lives to play a conceptual role -- forcing our feelings to function as concepts. But even more confusing, if we appeal to absolute mystery as our theological criterion, we will be deliberately looking away from the place we are most likely to discover our proper criterion, revelatory history. Our compass cannot be found in the ahistorical realm of mystery, but in the contingency of existence into which God has chosen to enter. The incarnation of Christ proclaims that God has entered history and infused it with meaning. The Church is, then, well advised not to look away from this history, but to find the light of her guidance embedded within it. The Church finds this light in the reality of divine revelation. In revelation the Church sees the integration of historical contingency and conceptuality.

In revelation, we find the integration of experiential and conceptual knowledge, the two modes of human knowledge which Western philosophy has been trying to integrate since Plato. Modeled by this reality of revelation, the Church defines truth as both contingent and conceptual. Our understanding of truth is modeled after our understanding of revelation. The incarnation of Christ historicized God and impregnated our history with revelation. We must, therefore, look to this revelatory history if we are to find the recognizable face of holy mystery. We will find our criterion there, as Jesus did. But what kind of criterion may we hope to find?

First, it will not be a single criterion, but a multifaceted one. Second, our criterion will most likely not be apprehended in an instantaneous intuition. Rather, it will emerge as we patiently interpret event with word and word with event. It will be a criterion for pilgrims. But what we lack in singularity we will gain in well-roundedness. And what we lack in immediacy, we will gain in detailed familiarity.

Let us call our criterion the criterion of contingency, and let's replace Rahner's analogy of mystery with an analogy of history. Knowledge of God is made possible not by a continuity of mystery, but by the continuity of history that the incarnating God initiated between Himself and His creation. Man can know God because both participate in history. But what are the specifics of our criterion? How can we use it, say, to validate a theological statement? Here are some guidelines.

(1) Does our theological statement adequately integrate the experience and the knowledge of the Church? If it is true that revelation is both historical (experiential) and conceptual (thought-like), then our theology ought to reflect this partnership and integrate the experience of grace and the conceptualization of grace. In brief, does our theology help to wed our experience with our doctrine, or divorce them? (It is not accidental that Rahner's experientialism has been deployed by certain Catholic leaders at the parish level to downplay or jettison Catholic doctrine.)

(2) Does our theological statement illuminate the revelatory truth found in the particularities of history? If history without revelation is dark, surely revelation without history is too bright for us to see.

(3) Does our theological statement encourage the growth of the Church's knowledge? By its nature, revelation allows history and word to interpret each other, thus providing for the possibility of understanding. Our theological statements, by reflecting this interaction, should themselves promote the growth of our understanding of that revelation. Theology is not merely the repetition of historical dogma, but the growing understanding of dogma through history.

Rahner's criterion of mystery lacks the specificity of history, and that is why it is not a usable criterion. Rahner consistently points us beyond history toward absolute mystery. In so doing, he doesn't even give us a meaningful criterion of mystery -- he just gives us obscurity.

Charles W. James is an Episcopal priest who has just finished his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. The foregoing article, "Karl Rahner's Baneful Impact on Theology," was originally published in the New Oxford Review (September 1995), and is reproduced here by kind permission of New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Inter-seminary video competition

This video was made by Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, Michigan, USA, for the Inter-Seminary Theological Competition in which it was competing with two other seminaries from Canada. The competition was based, in true Facebook fashion, on acquiring the most number of "likes" on video before Sunday morning (11/18).

And here's the video that won, produced by St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario:
  • St. Peter's Seminary (343 Likes)
  • Sacred Heart Major Seminary (294 Likes)
  • St. Augustine's Seminary (186)



[From an as-yet unpublished dissertation by a reader]:
A stubborn dissent from popular scriptural theories was evident in annotations Sheed appended to a letter on the same subject from Bruce Vawter, a scholar Sheed & Ward had actually previously published:
Vawter: [Mary] was given some information and some choice in the matter of her pregnancy: how that came about we don’t know, and Luke isn’t telling us: what he is doing is presenting that information in such a way as to get across also all sorts of theological points about the divinity of Our Lord ...

Sheed: What about history?

Vawter: The whole point is in those words “historical narrative”: all that the scholars are doing is trying to decide when a narrative is a historical one ...

Sheed: How? Re Annunciation? No parallels.


Vawter: I can only say that I find it very difficult to reconcile with God’s normal way of dealing with us.

Sheed: What is God’s normal dealing in this situation?1
Sheed was willing to admit that differences of cultures and literary genres meant that Scriptures written centuries ago must be read carefully and with scholarly awareness. But he was unwilling to discard what he read as the intentional meaning of the text in acquiescence to tenuous interpretive grids. After receiving a scholarly critique of
To Know Christ Jesus from Charles Davis, he told Maisie,
“I read it comfortably. Some of what he wants, I’ve already attended to… On some I just disagree but I can take the poison out of the disagreement.” Underscoring the depth of deeper disagreement, however, he capped his conciliatory comments with the complaint: “...[W]hat the devil gets into them about the Magnificat?”2

...“Certainly I do not press the historical truth of every word or deed,” Sheed would explain to Edward Watkin. “The only thing I am sure of is that the evangelists did not invent thoughts Our Lord never uttered or deeds he never did.”3
Davis later wrapped up his dialog with Sheed with some polite condescension that vividly highlighted the widening chasm, between an increasingly-accepted liberal scholarship and its dwindling conservative counterpart, that would increasingly plague the post-Conciliar Church.
I am afraid there is a very great difference between us over the interpretation of the gospels. I don’t think that it would be helpful to minimize the difference… Presumably what is wanted is an account of what the gospels give and not an account of what it thought they ought to give. Popular books always lag behind the work of scholarship… but they must keep pace to some extent, if they are to be genuinely helpful. I grant, then, as I said before, that you know what at present would help your audience, but you must pardon me if I would welcome even more a book in line with recent trends...4
Four years after writing these telling lines, the editor of England’s esteemed Catholic periodical Clergy Review disavowed his priesthood and left the Catholic Church.5

Sandro Magister reports, in "The Child Jesus Recounted by Joseph" (www.chiesa, November 20, 2012):
ROME, November 20, 2012 – "The childhood of Jesus" by Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI goes on sale tomorrow in the original German and in eight other languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Croatian. In all, the first printing exceeds one million copies. Over the next few months, the book will be translated into another eleven languages and released in 72 countries.

It is a short book, written in a simple and linear form. Easier to read than the two larger volumes of "Jesus of Nazareth." And it is the last to be released, but in the declared intention of the author "it is a sort of little 'entrance room' for the two previous volumes on the figure and message of Jesus of Nazareth."

Before the book was released, the biggest question was about how Benedict XVI would reply to the question of whether the virgin birth, the adoration of the Magi, and the other accounts of the childhood of Jesus, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, are "history that really happened" or instead "only a theological meditation expressed in the form of stories."

The author inclines decisively toward the first of the two answers. But without denying citizenship in the Church for the second position.

At the end of the chapter on the Magi, Benedict XVI agrees with what Jean Daniélou wrote in "Les Évangiles de l'Enfance":

"Unlike the account of the annunciation to Mary, the adoration on the part of the Magi does not touch upon any essential aspect of the faith. It could be a creation of Matthew, inspired by a theological idea: in this case, nothing would fall apart.

"Daniélou himself, however," Pope Ratzinger continues, "arrives at the conviction that these are historical events whose significance has been interpreted theologically by the Judeo-Christian community and by Matthew."

And he continues:

"To put it simply: this is also my conviction."
  1. Leonard Johnston, Upshaw College, Durham England, to Frank Sheed, n.a., 1ALS, 16 Oct. 1961, UNDA, CSWD 003/13. [back]
  2. Frank Sheed, New York, to Maisie Ward, London, England, 24 May 1962, UNDA, CSWD 001/13. [back]
  3. Frank Sheed, London, England, to Edward I. Watkin, Torquay, England, ALS, 3 Jul. 1962. UNDA, CSWD 001/13. [back]
  4. Charles Davis, ST. Edmund’s College, Ware, England, to Frank Sheed, London, England, ALS, n.d., TL, 20 Jun. 1962, UNDA, CSWD 001/13. [back]
  5. James MacLucas, Frank Sheed: Apologist, 1991, Dissertatio ad Lauream in Facultate S. Theologiae apud Pontificiam Universitatem S. Thomae in Urb. [back]
Related: Andrea Tornielli on Benedict XVI's new book on Jesus' birth (Vatican Insider, November 23, 2012).

[Hat tip to J.M. for dissertation extract and Magister link]

"Stir-up Sunday"

The collect for the last Sunday after Pentecost in the Roman Missal begins with the words "Stir up, O Lord" (Excita, quaesumus, Domine). The whole collect reads as follows:
Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the wills of Thy faithful to seek more earnestly this fruit of the divine work, that they will receive more abundantly healing gifts from Thy tender mercy. Through our Lord, etc.
"Stir up Sunday" is an informal term that arose in Anglican churches for the last Sunday before Advent. The day is also associated with the stirring up of traditional English Christmas puddings, since most recipes call for the mixture to stand for several weeks before cooking.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Heh. You'll get this, or you won't.

[Credit: WDTPRS]

Pope's dispensation just for Americans

Catholic trivia spot:
Pope Pius XII granted Americans a dispensation from their Friday abstinence, so that they may enjoy turkey the Friday after Thanksgiving by finishing up their turkey before it would spoil.
[Source: "The Friday after Thanksgiving Day indult ..." (Rorate Caeli, November 21, 2012)]

Extraordinary community news

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

Tridentine Community News (November 18, 2012):
Christmas Week Bus Tour of Historic Churches in Chicago

For the second year in a row, there will be a bus tour of historic Catholic churches in Chicago during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. The tour will span two days, Thursday-Friday, December 27-28, with Tridentine Masses offered each day.

Churches to be visited this year include Chicago’s three basilicas: Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica [where the famous black-and-white Tridentine Mass video narrated by Archbishop Fulton Sheen was filmed; photo below © 2009, Jeremy Atherton], Queen of All Saints Basilica (second photo below), and St. Hyacinth Basilica, plus St. John Cantius Church, Holy Trinity Church, St. Hedwig Church, and the Marytown National Shrine.

By popular demand, the first Tridentine Mass, on December 27 at 1:00 PM, will be held once again at St. Mary of the Angels (photo below © 2009, Jeremy Atherton), perhaps the most stunningly clean and ornate church this writer has ever seen.

Overnight accommodations will be provided at Mundelein Seminary, where Vespers will be offered on Thursday evening. On Friday morning, the main chapel at Mundelein will be the site of the second Tridentine Holy Mass. Mundelein is one of North America’s growing number of seminaries where the Extraordinary Form is regularly offered.

To purchase tickets or for further information, please contact Mike Semaan at (248) 250-6005.

St. Peter Church, East Tilbury, Hosts First EF Mass

On Friday, November 9, historic St. Peter on the Thames Church in East Tilbury, Ontario hosted its first Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form in over 40 years. Though not publicized outside the parish bulletin, approximately 25 people from as far away as Chatham and Detroit were in attendance.

St. Francis Xavier, Tilbury, to Host EF Mass

On Friday, November 30 at 7:00 PM, historic St. Francis Xavier Church in [central] Tilbury, Ontario will host its second Tridentine High Mass this year, for the Feast of St. Andrew. A reception will follow Mass in the parish hall.

Resurrection Parish, Lansing, to Host First EF Mass

Also on Friday, November 30, at 7:30 PM, Lansing, Michigan’s Resurrection Parish will host its first Extraordinary Form Mass, for the Feast of St. Andrew. Celebrating the Tridentine Mass for the first time will be Fr. Mark Rutherford.

Young adults age 18-35 are invited to attend a dinner after the Mass sponsored by Juventútem Michigan. Carpools from the Detroit area are being arranged. See Juventútem’s Facebook event page for more information.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Widow)
  • Tue. 11/20 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Felix of Valois, Confessor)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for November 18, 2012. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why many Catholics don't give to CCHD

The annual solicitation comes around in those offering envelopes for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development? "Human development"? Sounds innocuous enough, even if it has about it a vaguely UNESCO sort of ring to it.

Here's something you should read if you concerned about how money donated to the CCHD is spent, often on groups whose aims directly contravene Catholic principles: "Introduction to 2011-2012 CCHD Grants Report" (Reform CCHD Now!). The title reads: "Don't let YOUR money work against the Church!" Check it out.

Monday, November 19, 2012

For the record: What to call the old Mass?

The post has been up for two weeks, but it's one worth noting, if only for the record: "Terminology: is 'Extraordinary Form' an acceptable name? And is it the official name?" (Rorate Caeli, November 6, 2012).

What occasions the post is the lingering puzzlement about how to properly refer to the old Mass. "Traditional Latin Mass"? "Extraordinary Form"? "Usus antiquior"?

The author of the post undertakes to make two points clear: (1) that the Holy father introduced the name "Extraordinary Form" in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in order to solve a liturgical law conundrum, and (2) that "Extraordinary Form," nevertheless, is NOT the "official" name of the Traditional Roman Rite. Worth reading, especially if you have questions.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Teilhard de Chardin passes for "New Evangelization" in top Roman university

Does anyone know whether this over-blown omega-point hippie theologian had a history of psychedelic drug use?

"Certain events are by themselves highly symbolic... The 'cosmic nightmare' of one of the most bizarre pseudo-theologians of the 20th century, and its most dated religious thinker, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, was celebrated with a major conference, on November 9-10, in the Society of Jesus's own Pontifical Gregorian University, dedicated to finding a role for him and his ideas in the 'new evangelization'.

"Italian journalist and commentator Francesco Agnoli could not believe his eyes either, and so he wrote the following in opinion daily Il Foglio on November 8."
Thus Rorate Caeli introduces its post of the English translation of Agnoli's article.

The conference concluded, it is reported, with a "Holy Mass with readings from the Mass on the World of Teilhard de Chardin" (S.Messa con letture dalla Messa sul Mondo di Teilhard de Chardin) in the University Chapel.

It just doesn't get any weirder than this. The Faith reduced to the Magical Mystery Tour?!

The reader who sent me the link to this article commented: "... but this comment takes the cake in my book ... Still laughing ...
"I now bracket him with another title which was read with admiration when I encountered him: Jonathan Livingston Seagull."
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Pius X: Satan's strength due to easy-going Catholics

At the beatification ceremony for St. Joan of Arc, St. Pope Pius X declared:
In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked, lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men. All the strength of Satan's reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics.

Oh! if I might ask the Divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit: What are those wounds in the midst of Thy hands? the answer would not be doubtful: With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries.

And this reproach can be leveled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries.
[Hat tip to M.V.]

Fr. Guido Sarducci explains the afterlife

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Good Queen Mary

In English-speaking countries, one usually hears of "Bloody Mary" and "Good Queen Bess." As in all things, there is another side to this issue, however, from which it might be more appropriate to speak of "Good Queen Mary" and "Bloody Bess."

Focusing here on the latter, a post devoted to "Good Queen Mary" (Rorate Caeli, November 17, 2012).

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Review: Ferrara, Liberty, The God that Failed

Christopher Shannon, "A Declaration of Catholic Independence" (Crisis Magazine, October 30, 2012):
G.K. Chesterton once described America as a “nation with the soul of a church.” Many have wrongly interpreted this statement as Chesterton’s way of saying that America was a Christian nation, or that Americans were especially pious and devout people. Chesterton meant something rather different, and not especially complementary. America is like a church in the sense that it has often understood citizenship in terms of assent to a creed. One becomes an Englishman or Frenchman through history, through coming from a family that has lived in a particular place for generations. In contrast, one can theoretically become an American simply by assent to certain abstract principles, the American creed. Chesterton’s characterization of America as a creedal nation came to mind as I passed an election sign for the Romney-Ryan ticket that read, “Believe in America.” What could this possibly mean? Is America a god? What precisely are we supposed to believe in? In a word, liberty. And make no mistake about it, liberty is a god.

That, at least, is the argument that Christopher A. Ferrara makes in his important and timely new book, Liberty, the God That Failed: Policing the Sacred and Constructing the Myths of the Secular State, from Locke to Obama.The title references the 1949 work The God that Failed, a famous collection of essays by ex-communists describing their disillusion with the utopian ideology of communism. Liberal and conservative American political thinkers share a common characterization of communism and fascism as irrational, secular religions against which the American political tradition stands as a model of reason and moderation. It is just such a conceit that Ferrara sets out to expose as a delusion. At a time when the American bishops are calling on Catholics to defend the American tradition of religious liberty against state coercion, Ferrara argues that religious liberty itself has been the main ideology through which the modern state has sought to redefine and control religion. This is a difficult and challenging argument, one that goes against the common sense of American political thinking. It is an argument based on a very different kind of common sense that comes from traditional Catholic understandings of the public nature of Church authority.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nat Hentoff on Obama's defiance of the US Constitution

Nat Hentoff, "Obama win is Constitution's loss" (WND Commentary, November 13, 2012):
On Sept. 12, 2001, President George W. Bush assured us: “We will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms.”

The enemy has certainly tried, but it was President Bush, following the advice of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who began the extensive attack on our individual liberties through the Patriot Act, which passed on Oct. 26, 2001.

Then, President Barack Obama went far beyond his predecessor’s administration to become the most destructive uprooter of our Constitution in our nation’s history.

Growing up as a student at Boston Latin School, one of whose alumni was Samuel Adams, a firebrand of our American Revolution, I read American history with excitement. I learned how we always overcame grimly looming threats to our self-governing republic to become a beacon to the world.

But never did I even imagine that an American president, without insuring due process in a court of law, would – as Obama does – use a kill list to target suspected terrorists for assassination. So far this list has also included three American citizens.


5 ways to protect yourself against Obamacare

Paul Hsieh (Forbes, November 13, 2012), offers some helpful suggestions you should consider.

[Hat tip to E. Echeverria]

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Obama, Wall Street corporate puppet

And you thought that Romney was in bed with Wall Street and foreign regime change, but that Obama wasn't? You don't have to buy into the conspiracy theories of those like Alex Jones or Aaron Russo to connect the dots between Wall Street, the Federal Reserve (a private corporation), international banks and military adventurism, on the one hand, and whatever Democrat or Republican happens to occupy the White House, on the other. It was Christopher Ferrara's account of the 2007-2008 meltdown that first brought these connections belatedly to my attention.

Obama, with his African-American background and messianic charisma among liberals has proved remarkably useful as a corporately-backed puppet in giving a badly-needed face lift for Wall Street and international banking interests. Why is the appointment calendar of this wildly popular and charismatic black messianic president filled with Wall Street and banking moguls, while he ignores his constituency of blacks, women and minorities (while throwing them the sops of food stamps, free phones, contraceptives and abortions); and why has he not opposed but actually expanded Bush's policies of serving Wall Street and banking interests as well as foreign nation building, over the interests of our body politic?

Extraordinary community news

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

Tridentine Community News (November 11, 2012):
The Te Deum: The Church’s Prayer of Thanksgiving

One of the most important prayers in the Church’s treasury is the Ambrosian Hymn of thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity: The Te Deum. “Hymn” in this sense does not mean that the piece must be sung, but rather refers to its principal role in the Divine Office, where it would be sung in solemn settings. It is prayed in the Extraordinary Form Breviary at the end of Matins on all days on which the Glória is specified at Mass. Numerous composers have written polyphonic settings of the Te Deum, however the Gregorian Chant setting is the best known. A reader of this column rightfully believes that Catholics should be as familiar with the text and Gregorian melody of the Te Deum as with other prayers that are often sung, such as the Salve Regína, since every prayer of thanksgiving should look to the Te Deum for inspiration.

The public recitation or singing of the Te Deum on the last day of the calendar year is enriched with a Plenary Indulgence under the usual conditions of Confession within 20 days, reception of Holy Communion, prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions, and freedom from attachment to sin. The Te Deum is also enriched with a Partial Indulgence if it is privately prayed at the beginning and end of the day, in starting and completing work, or before and after meals.

Space limitations prevent us from printing the original Latin. Instead, we provide for your edification and comparison two approved English versions. The first is taken from The Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook, published in 1913 with an Imprimátur. The second is taken from the [now out of date] 1991 Handbook of Indulgences. The currently-in-force 2006 Manual of Indulgences no longer provides an English translation of the Te Deum.

The Te Deum is sung at Windsor’s Assumption Church on major occasions of thanksgiving, such as at Anniversary Masses, and on December 31 or the closest Sunday prior. In liturgical settings it is often followed by an optional set of responses and a prayer; these are, strictly speaking, not a formal part of the Te Deum and not required to be prayed.

Te Deum [1913 Blessed Sacrament Prayerbook translation]
We praise Thee, O God; we acknowledge Thee to be our Lord.
All the earth worships Thee, the Father everlasting.
To Thee all the angels cry aloud; the heavens, and all the heavenly powers.
To Thee the cherubim and seraphim continually do cry:
Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth.
Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the apostles praises Thee.
The admirable company of the prophets praises Thee.
The noble army of the martyrs praises Thee.
The holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee.
The Father of infinite majesty;
Thy adorable, true, and only Son;
Also, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
Thou, O Christ, art the King of glory.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou didst take upon Thee to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Having overcome the sting of death,
Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray Thee to help Thy servants,
whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting.
Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance.
Govern them and raise them up forever.
Every day we bless Thee.
And we praise Thy name forever; yea, forever and ever.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, this day, to keep us from sin.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have hoped in Thee.
In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped; let me never be confounded.
Te Deum [1991 Handbook of Indulgences translation]
You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord: we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you:
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not spurn the Virgin’s womb.
You overcame the sting of death,
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come, and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

V. Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance.
R. Govern and uphold them now and always.
V. Day by day we bless you.
R. We praise your name for ever.
V. Keep us today, Lord, from all sin.
R. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
V. Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R. for we put our trust in you.
V. In you, Lord, is our hope:
R. and we shall never hope in vain.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/12 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Martin I, Pope & Martyr)
  • Tue. 11/13 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Didacus, Confessor)
  • Sun. 11/18 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (Sixth Resumed Sunday After Epiphany)
Related: The Te Deum sung to a Gregorian Chant setting by Giovanni Vianini, organist and director of the Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis in Milan, Italy

[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus, St. Hyacinth (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for November 11, 2012. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

America Half Dead: Obama Elected to Finish Job

Red states to blue: "Remember these words: 'Don't blame us," and "We told you so."

Terence P. Jeffrey, "Generational Debt: U.S. Debt Per American Under 18 = $218,676" (, November 4, 2012)
  • 4 Yrs at Private College = $130,468
  • Median-Priced Existing Home = $173,100
  • U.S. Debt Per American Under 18 = $218,676
Michael Voris, in "Some final thoughts on this election" (Musings, November 6, 2012)
People supporting Obama are not supporting him because of his sterling economic policies. They're supporting him because of his ideological stances, as was made abundantly evident during the Democratic National Convention, when one child-murdering supporter and sodomy supporter after another walked up to the podium and hailed this man.

We do not know how this will turn out, but we do know this: if Obama wins, and the pace of social and cultural destruction quickens, which it certainly will, none of it will be happening without God in heaven allowing it. Obama winning may in fact be God's judgement on a wicked and perverse generation -- not our judgement on who is the best man to occupy the White House.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Some final thoughts on this election

Especially watch the closing comments where the larger, spiritual dimension of God's judgement is addressed. Among other things, after considering the polling (which seems pretty evenly split) and the traditional historical data (which seems to point to Romney), there's this:
For us it seems foolhardy to dismiss all the traditional historical data that all points and leans heavily to Romney. So, like much of the available data, we're split. Our brains tell us Romney; but our gut says that there is so much decay and moral rot in our nation that Obama will somehow hang on and win.

The very fact that Obama is still in the game, given his wildly unpopular healthcare law, horrible economy and nearly nonexistent recovery, not to mention sixteen trillion dollars and counting national debt. This is all a very big red flag to us. He has deftly avoided any repercussions for anything he has done -- the Libyan embassy murders, the driving of the economy into the dirt, and so forth. It's almost like he's somehow protected. Romney should win by every measure there is. But we have to consider that as St. Paul says, we're not fighting a temporal war but a spiritual one against principalities and powers.

People supporting Obama are not supporting him because of his sterling economic policies. They're supporting him because of his ideological stances, as was made abundantly evident during the Democratic National Convention, when one child-murdering supporter and sodomy supporter after another walked up to the podium and hailed this man.

We do not know how this will turn out, but we do know this: if Obama wins, and the pace of social and cultural destruction quickens, which it certainly will, none of it will be happening without God in heaven allowing it. Obama winning may in fact be God's judgement on a wicked and perverse generation -- not our judgement on who is the best man to occupy the White House.

Tradition and the New Evangelization

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Party loyalty and loyalty to Christ

Bishop Daniel Jenky: "For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His Gospel of Life."

Weigel commemorates the socio-political dethronement of Christ the King

Do not for a moment mistake what I say here as a brief supporting the regnant imperious administration of Black Messiah. It is but a caveat concerning elements in the Neoconservative Catholic support of the classical liberalism of Republicanism that I find inimical to the traditional Catholic Faith.

There are good reasons why Catholic bishops and Neoconservatives have been re-thinking their traditional alignment with the Democratic Party as the party of the working man and traditional Catholic family values -- namely, because the Party has long-abandoned those values in a history littered with Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Roe v. Wade (1973), the mainstreaming and celebration of homosexualist values, same-sex "marriage," and opposition to Catholic moral teaching.

By the same token, there are many good reasons why Catholic Neoconservatives have been shifting their support to the Republican Party over the last several decades. Republican opposition to the egregiously overstepping provisions of Obamacare and the HHS Mandate are, certainly, understandable reasons for supporting its candidates. And this is but the most recent history of Catholic support for classic liberal opposition, in the spirit of Ludwig von Mises, to big government. Witness Michael Novak, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus and William Buckley, Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell, and the ever-loquacious and prolific George Weigel.

At the same time, however, resident within the classical liberalism of the Republican tradition are elements that should give pause to any Catholic who knows and values traditional Catholic social teaching. Without going into detail, let us just say here that that teaching refuses to compartmentalize the reign of Christ, suggesting that He is King and Lord only of our private spiritual lives, but not over our collective social life as confessing Catholics in the public square.

This, however, is precisely what Neoconservative Catholics like George Weigel espouse. Take, for example, his recent essay, "Constantine and Campaign 2012" (National Review Online, November 3, 2012). Here he describes Vatican II as signaling the liberation from a long Constantinian captivity of the Church, which, in his view, was mistaken to get involved in presuming to extend the Kingship of Christ over the secular realm.

Here, again, is a YouTube interview in which Weigel describes Vatican II's document, Dignitatis Humanae, as liberating the Catholic Church from a 1700-year "Babylonian Captivity" since Constantine's Edict of Milan (AD 313). The problem with his view lies not in his criticism of political and spiritual corruption of various political and religious leaders during that nearly two-millennium period, but rather in his dismissal of the very acceptability of the socio-political Lordship of Christ, which popes have consistently emphasized in their official teaching up until Vatican II.

What this amounts to, in practical terms, is the Neoconservative embrace of the classic liberal political tradition of Protestant America, with its particular interpretation of the separation of Church and state and disestablishment cause as a normative and positive development for American Catholics. In our present climate, I'm sorry to say that this is ridiculous. It might have been plausible in the 1940s and 1950s, back when thinkers like Jacques Maritain and Fr. John Courtney Murray, S.J., were cutting their teeth in political philosophy, to have assumed that the American experiment, with it's "naked public square" and privitization of religious values, was a good and viable project. No more so. The spiritual antithesis has been drawn in the sand, and his imperial highness, the Black Messiah, has thrown down the gauntlet. There is no neutral ground. You are either for Christ as King, or against Him.

And, if you are truly FOR Christ as King, you cannot expect Him to restrict His jurisdiction to just the private spiritual domain our our prayer and liturgical life. Rather, as Abraham Kuyper once declared in one of his more prescient moments, "There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, 'This is mine! This belongs to me!'"

Very good last-minute election analysis

Wassim Sarweh to speak at 2013 Sacred Music Colloquium

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

Tridentine Community News (November 4, 2012):
Church Music Association of America Program Director Arlene Oost-Zimmer this week released the preliminary list of speakers for the 2013 Sacred Music Colloquium, to be held June 17-23, 2013. For the second year in a row, the conference will be based at Salt Lake City, Utah’s Cathedral of the Madeleine. The Colloquium is the largest conference of its type, offering a week’s worth of seminars in traditional sacred music. Classes cover performance and conducting of Sacred Polyphony and Latin Gregorian Chant for both the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms, plus English Chant for the Ordinary Form. Attendance has grown every year; in 2012 approximately 300 people devoted an entire week to this immersion in sacred music.

Readers of this column will be pleased to note that Assumption Church Tridentine Mass Music Director Wassim Sarweh will present one of the talks, on the subject of accompanying Gregorian Chant on the organ. Wassim’s predecessor and former Windsor resident Matthew Meloche is also one of the speakers, along with some of the biggest names in Catholic liturgical music.

Among the Faculty:
  • Adam Bartlett, Saints Simon and Jude Cathedral, Phoenix, AZ
  • Mary Jane Ballou, Cantorae St. Augustine
  • Wilko Brouwers, Monterverdi Choir, the Netherlands
  • Dr. Horst Buchholz, St. Louis Cathedral
  • Richard Chonak, Webmaster, CMAA
  • Charles Cole, Westminster Cathedral; Brompton Oratory
  • Gregory Glenn, Cathedral of the Madeleine
  • David J. Hughes, St. Mary, Norwalk, CT
  • Dr. Ann Labounsky, Duquesne University
  • Melanie Malinka, Madeleine Choir School
  • Dr. Mee Ae Nam, Eastern Michigan University
  • Dr. William Mahrt, CMAA President, Stanford University
  • Matthew J. Meloche; St. Joan of Arc Parish, Powell, Ohio
  • Jeffrey Morse, St Stephen, the First Martyr Church; Sacramento, California
  • Arlene Oost-Zinner; CMAA Programs Director; St. Cecilia Schola
  • Daniel Bennett Page, Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore; University of Baltimore
  • Rev. Robert Pasley, CMAA Chaplain; Pastor, Mater Eccelsiae, Berlin, NJ
  • Kathleen Pluth, STL, Hymn Writer
  • William Riccio, Jr.
  • Jonathan Ryan, Organist; Jordan Prize Winner
  • Wassim Sarweh, Church of the Assumption, Windsor, Ontario
  • Dr. Edward Schaefer, University of Florida
  • Dr. Susan Treacy, Ave Maria University
  • Jeffrey Tucker, Chant Cafe, CMAA Director of Publications
  • Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, Executive Director, ICEL
Further information about the conference and an impressive video documentary of a previous Colloquium by Corpus Christi Watershed, showing the sorts of material covered, are available at:

Private Masses

As an increasing number of Holy Masses in the Extraordinary Form are held across the world, we are hearing more frequently about so-called Private Masses. This is a term which can cause some confusion. Before we can clearly explain what a Private Mass is, we should first define its alternative, the Public Mass.

A Public Mass is one which is announced on a church’s schedule. It is open for all to attend. Regular parish Sunday, Holy Day, and weekday Masses fall under the classification of Public Masses.

Private Masses can take several forms, ranging from truly private to quasi-public:

- A Mass literally celebrated privately, such as by a priest in his own room.

- A Mass celebrated in a facility designed for priests to celebrate Masses without a congregation, such as the private chapels in the sacristy of the main chapel at Orchard Lake Seminary. The vast array of side altars in the main chapel of Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary is also intended for this purpose.

- A Mass celebrated for a special-purpose congregation, large or small, such as if a priest offered a Mass for family and friends on the occasion of a special event in someone’s life.

- A Mass offered in a public venue, perhaps even on a regular basis, though not regular enough to be listed on a parish’s schedule. London’s Brompton Oratory, for example, offers a 5:30 PM Private Tridentine Mass at a side altar Monday-Friday. The celebrant travels a good deal, so there are days when the Mass is not held. The parish elects not to publicize the Mass because they cannot guarantee the availability of a substitute celebrant when the main one is away. Despite this irregularity, this “Private” Mass attracts a sizable congregation every day, larger than those attending many parishes’ weekday Public Masses.

Next St. Albertus Mass

The next Tridentine Mass at St. Albertus Church will be held in two weeks, on Sunday, November 18 at noon. A reception will follow the Mass in the rectory.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/03 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (The Holy Relics)
  • Tue. 11/04 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Daily Mass for the Dead)
  • Fri. 11/09 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Savior [St. John Lateran]) NOTE: The Mass schedule at St. Josaphat is subject to change. Please call the parish office before going to a weekday Mass at St. Josaphat.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for November 4, 2012. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Get out and vote

Okay. So I'm a Catholic monarchist. But I don't see a Catholic monarchy on the horizon in this US Presidential election. Do you? Politics is the art of the possible. So don't be a miserable purist who thinks he can't vote for anyone but a Catholic candidate calling for an amendment of the Constitution to make the United States of America a confessional Catholic state. We'll be lucky if we even have a state left with any hope of financial solvency, let alone rights of conscience for religiously-affiliated institutions and their employees in this country. I know all the counter-arguments. And it's true that the bishops' come-lately appeal to the "rights" of religious freedom is a bit of a limping "fall-back" position from what it should be: the abominating of contraception, sexual sin and abortion that has led to this present pass.

But in considering what is possible today, we're faced with intermediate options between the direct theocratic governance by Christ our King and the tyrannical rule of Moloch-worshipping baby-killers and perverts like Herod and Nero. I would rather have lived under good King St. Louis of France than under the Dhimmitude of Sayyed Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini in Iran, certainly. But those are not the alternatives before us today. St. Thomas Aquinas counsels his readers what their duties are under different types of regimes, and he is under no illusion that Catholics will always be living under the benign rule of Catholic monarchs. In his Summa Theologiae, he explicitly addresses circumstances in which Catholics live under non-Christian regimes. Some of these regimes are obviously more just than others, and it is our job this coming Tuesday to discern which politically viable parties and their platforms (the "cards we've been dealt") are the most inimical to Catholic faith and morals, and to vote against the candidates of that party. Not a few of our bishops, unlike the appallingly-lame official USCCB voter guides, have spoken out clearly and forcefully on the issue.

Of course, my mother used to send chills up my spine when we were growing up in Asia by praying that America would someday, like ancient Israel, experience the blessing of defeat and persecution at the hands of a foreign enemy. And that, my friends, is surely what we deserve far more than another generation of personal peace and prosperity, given the record of our last half-century. But pray like Abraham, if you will, that God would stay His hand of judgement and not yet destroy Sodom if there is but even a small remnant of righteous inhabitants remaining in her, so that the flickering embers of faith may again be rekindled into a fire that would yet bring repentance and healing to this wayward land.