Sunday, December 29, 2013

Extraordinary Community News

2013 Year in Review

At the end of each year, it is beneficial to look back and review the noteworthy developments on the local Extraordinary Form front of the previous twelve months: 2013 Year in Review

At the end of each year, it is beneficial to look back and review the noteworthy developments on the local Extraordinary Form front of the previous twelve months:

St. Benedict Tridentine Catholic Community: The top local development in 2013 was the elevation of the Windsor Tridentine Mass Association to Community status by Bishop Fabbro. This is the first Tridentine community (small “c”) in metro Detroit to be given the right to its own chaplain, its own Sacramental records, and its own Sacramental preparation.

Juventútem: The secular press – with good reason – cannot stop covering Dan Gilbert’s continuing takeover of much of downtown Detroit. Paul Schultz has become the Tridentine version of Dan Gilbert: Just as Gilbert has become arguably the most valued franchisor of the brand name Quicken, Paul has aggressively expanded the Juventútem franchise throughout Michigan and southwestern Ontario. Congratulations are also due to Paul for having recently been appointed secretary of the Juventútem International Federation, based in England.

Special Masses: Special Tridentine Masses continue to be held at more churches. We are beginning to exhaust the potential sites, a situation unimaginable a few years ago. In 2013, the Traditional Liturgy was held at these five sites for the first time in 44 years. Masses organized by Juventútem and Prayer Pilgrimages are so designated.

1. Our Lady of Good Counsel, Plymouth (J)
2. Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Detroit (J)
3. Sorrowful Mother Shrine, Bellevue, Ohio (PP)
4. St. Alphonsus Church, Dearborn (J)
5. St. Hugo Stone Chapel, Bloomfield Hills

Oakland County Latin Mass Association: A special commendation for persistence must go to Cia Lakin, whose continued efforts to establish a new Tridentine Mass site in central Oakland County were rewarded in two ways this year: First was the special Mass on All Souls Day at St. Hugo, which filled the Stone Chapel to capacity. Second was Archbishop Vigneron’s assignment of Msgr. Ronald Browne as the Chaplain to this nascent organization, a sign of diocesan commitment to this initiative.

Please pray that 2014 will continue to bring advancement to the Metro Detroit and Windsor Tridentine Mass Communities, and that our efforts will expose an increasing number of people to the beauty of the Church’s Traditional Latin Liturgy. Please also keep in your prayers the priests who celebrate the Extraordinary Form for us: Fr. Lee Acervo, Fr. Ross Bartley, Fr. David Bechill, Fr. Patrick Bénéteau, Fr. Mark Borkowski, Msgr. Ronald Browne, Bishop Donald Hanchon, Fr. Matthew Hincks, Fr. Peter Hrytsyk, Fr. John Johnson, Fr. Ben Kosnac, Fr. Louis Madey, Fr. Robert Marczewski, Fr. James Roche, Fr. Wolfgang Seitz, Fr. Clement Suhy, OSB, Fr. Greg Tokarski, Fr. Pieter van Rooyen, Fr. Charles White, and Fr. Michael Zuelch.

Thanks to Our Volunteers

It takes a significant amount of effort to run our local Tridentine Masses. Special thanks to the below volunteers, who help out at one or more of our local Extraordinary Form sites:

Altar servers: Michael Alvarez, Tommy Alvarez, Matthew Bombardier, Matthew Charbonneau, Frank De Donatis, Jim Eatmon, Edward Kotulski, Matthew Lacey, Kaisar Marogi, James Murphy, Jonathan Ozorak, Michel Ozorak, Barry Rafferty, Luke Rzeczkowski, David Schmick, Paul Schultz, John Tome, and Mitchell Witteveen. Not only do these gentlemen serve Holy Mass with careful attention to the rubrics, but they also invest significant additional time before and after Mass with the necessary set-up and take-down of the sanctuary.

Our seminarians: Kaisar Marogi, James Murphy, Brother John Tonkins, and Deacon Joe Tuskiewicz

The volunteer members of the St. Benedict Choir: Laura Hurajt, Anne MacDonald, Lina Wagner St. Benedict Parish Council members: Ted Jankowski, Ron Parent, and Barry Rafferty

Our ushers: Alex Foley, John Foot, Ted Jankowski, Bob Kujawa, Ismael Lebron, and Frank O’Reilly

Rosary leader Mary Strahorn

Special thanks are due to five key volunteers: Sharon Moody, St. Benedict’s longtime volunteer bookkeeper and secretary, whose timely and detailed financial reporting continues to draw commendations from the Diocese of London.

Barry and Susan Rafferty, who arrive early to set up and clean Assumption Church, and stay late to put things away after Mass. Barry also repairs and maintains our candles and metalwork.

Frank De Donatis, who diligently serves at the altar and works behind the scenes at virtually every local Tridentine Mass site

Diane Begin, for assisting with set-up and take-down, tutoring new visitors to the Latin Mass, and for doing the laundry of liturgical linens for Assumption Parish

- Alex Begin, Tridentine Community News editor

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Tue. 12/31: No Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor
  • Wed. 01/01 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. Joseph (Octave of Christmas/Feast of the Circumcision)
  • Wed. 01/01 2:00 PM: High Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (Octave of Christmas/Feast of the Circumcision)
  • Sat. 01/04 9:00 AM: Low Mass at St. Hyacinth (Immaculate Heart of Mary) – First Saturday, with Rosary and Confessions
  • >Sun. 12/01 2:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (First Sunday of Advent) – Mass will be held this week [only] in the Rosary Chapel, adjacent to the main church.
  • Monday-Saturday 7:30AM:: High or Low Mass (varies) at Assumption Grotto
  • Monday-Wednesday-Friday 7:00PM: High or Low Mass (varies) Assumption Grotto
  • Holy Days and Sundays 9:30AM: High Mass at Assumption Grotto

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's time to update and recycle our annual Christmas Reflection, a moment to consider the reason for the season and the challenges offered by the drive-by "experts" of the day. Consider again the Biblical narrative:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,
Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pas, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter Two, Verses 13-20)

Here we are again, on the first day of the Christmas season. It has become something of a Christmas tradition for me to engage the following text from C.S. Lewis in connection with the above quoted Scriptures. The reason will be obvious.

Nearly every Christmas, it seems, NEWSWEEK or TIME or some television special will featre the "latest scholarship" concerning the "authenticity" of the Christmas story. The scholarly authorities cited are consistently and incorrigibly one-sided, usually including scholars like John Dominic Crossan who dissent from Church teaching, or more ostensibly mainline scholars like Raymond E. Brown (now deceased) who have been quite thoroughly corrupted by the Humean philosophical presuppositions of the historical-criticism of the biblical narrative. Several years ago we saw the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, call the Christmas story a 'legend' ("Archbishop says nativity 'a legend,'" London Telegraph, December 12, 2007). And more recently I've notice that, a site which Internet browsers frequent to learn "the facts" about this or that, has taken up this partisan skeptical slant in Austin Cline's article, "Nativity vs Gospels: Are the Gospels Reliable About Jesus' Birth?" (, suggesting that all the key ingredients of the Nativity story in the Gospels were concocted fictions of various kinds.

The lack of critical circumspection in all of this would be amusing if it were not so destructive. The upshot is always the same: that the Gospel writers are unreliable and not to be trusted, and certainly not to be taken at face value. Just how ludicrous this all is, however, can be seen by anyone with a bit of intelligence and familiarity with literature, mythology, and history. One of the best examples of a powerful antedote to this kind of foolishness -- and one I keep using because it is simple -- is a little essay by C.S. Lewis entitled "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism," which is available in a collection of essays by Lewis entitled Christian Reflections (1967; reprinted by Eerdmans, 1994). The following are some excerpts from Lewis' essay, which begins on p. 152 and contains four objections (or "bleats") about modern New Testament scholarship:
1. [If a scholar] tells me that something in a Gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them by the flavour...

I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one [of the stories in the Gospel of John, for example] is like this... Either this is reportage - though it may no doubt contain errors - pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative...

2. All theology of the liberal type involves at some point - and often involves throughout - the claim that the real behaviour and purpose and teaching of Christ came very rapidly to be misunderstood and misrepresented by his followers, and has been recovered or exhumed only by modern scholars... The idea that any... writer should be opaque to those who lived in the same culture, spoke the same language, shared the same habitual imagery and unconscious assumptions, and yet be transparent to those who have none of these advantages, is in my opinion preposterous. There is an a priori improbability in it which almost no argument and no evidence could counterbalance.

3. Thirdly, I find in these theologians a constant use of the principle that the miraculous does not occur... This is a purely philosophical question. Scholars, as scholars, speak on it with no more authority than anyone else. The canon 'if miraculous, unhistorical' is one they bring to their study of the texts, not one they have learned from it. If one is speaking of authority, the united authority of all the Biblical critics in the world counts here for nothing.

4. My fourth bleat is my loudest and longest. Reviewers [of my own books, and of books by friends whose real history I knew] both friendly and hostile... will tell you what public events had directed the author's mind to this or that, what other authors influenced him, what his over-all intention was, what sort of audience he principally addressed, why - and when - he did everything... My impression is that in the whole of my experience not one of these guesses has on any one point been right; the method shows a record of 100 per cent failure.

The 'assured results of modern scholarship', as to the way in which an old book was written, are 'assured', we may conclude, only because those who knew the facts are dead and can't blow the gaff... The Biblical critics, whatever reconstructions they devise, can never be crudely proved wrong. St. Mark is dead. When they meet St. Peter there will be more pressing matters to discuss.

However... we are not fundamentalists... Of course we agree that passages almost verbally identical cannot be independent. It is as we glide away from this into reconstructions of a subtler and more ambitious kind that our faith in the method wavers... The sort of statement that arouses our deepest scepticism is the statement that something in a Gospel cannot be historical because it shows a theology or an ecclesiology too developed for so early a date...

Such are the reactions of one bleating layman... Once the layman was anxious to hide the fact that he believed so much less than the Vicar; he now tends to hide the fact that he believes so much more...
For further reading: Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Greatest Schism: between modern theology and asceticism?

Boniface, "The Greatest Schism" (Unam Sanctam Catholicam, December 15, 2013):
This post's title does not refer to the Greek schism, nor to the Great Western Schism of the 15th century, nor even to the tremendous modernist crisis within the Church today. The schism I am referring to is the unfortunate fracture between theology and ascesis, between spirituality and mortification. The more I reflect upon it, the more I am convinced that this division is at the heart of all our other problems, even the modernist crisis. Read more >>
Interesting thesis.

[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christopher Ferrara, "Quo Vadis, Franciscus" (important: especially if you disagree)

[Disclaimer: Rules ##7-9]

Nobody needs reminding that there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the statements and gestures of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, since his election to the See of Peter following the momentous resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. With the recent publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG) by Pope Francis, this controversy has not subsided but continued. The polarization is quite amazing between Catholic conservatives who are cautiously guarded in their endorsements of the document, and the liberal media, both secular and religious, which are delirious in their enthusiasm for it. As Christopher Ferrara states observes (see below):
"Like the liberal media, both modernists and their neo-Catholic enablers are over the moon about EG. Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter exults: “At times, the text is lyrical, like an aria. At other times, it has all the accessibility of a recitative. Either way, it is a song.” Say it loud and there’s music playing. Say it soft and it’s almost like praying. Comments like these are a sure indication that EG has little to do with concrete Catholic teaching and very much to do with a new papal personality cult."
Christopher Ferrara, President and Chief Counsel of the American Catholic Lawyers Association, is a traditional Catholic in communion with Rome, who makes some pointed criticisms of EV, as well as of some of the other statements by Pope Francis in "Quo Vadis, Fanciscus" (The Remnant, December 16, 2013). His remarks are not altogether unlike those of the Italian traditionalist, Mario Palmaro, who, as you may recall, received a friendly approving phone call from the Pope, who stated that “he had understood that those criticisms had been made with love, and how important it had been for him to receive them.” Whether you agree with these criticisms or not, they clearly come from men writing out of deeply apparent love for the Church with a desire to make their concerns known to the Holy Father in keeping with the law of the Church (CIC 1983, Can. 212, §§ 2-3), and cannot be responsibly ignored.

Pray for Holy Mother Church, and remain always faithful to Her.

Detroit News column paints Francis as the dream pope of dissenters: Prof. Monica Miller responds

In response to a column by Marney Keenan, "Pope Francis a leader for the Catholics of today" (Detroit News, December 19, 2013), Dr. Monical Miller, professor at Madonna University, in Livonia (Metro Detroit) and head of Citizens for a Pro-Life Socity, writes:
Dear Editor:

Marney Keenan thinks Pope Francis fulfils many of her dreams for all that a pope should be but she apparently did not pay much attention to John Paul II. Keenan, waiting for the Church to give up the Faith, is falling all over Francis because his style and rhetoric seem to suit her, but she could celebrate the papacy of the pope from Poland for many of the reasons she likes Francis. John Paul II did more to take the Faith to the people than any pope in history. He traveled to nearly every country on earth, inspired millions of young people in World Youth Days, and was instrumental in the fall of communism, giving hope to millions of workers. He wrote three documents on the role and dignity of women in the Church. He's the one who coined the term “the genius of women." While Keenan is impressed that Francis invited homeless men to have lunch at the Vatican, JP II decades ago already embraced homosexuals afflicted with AIDS and Keenan forgets that it was JPII who met face to face with the very man who tried to murder him, offering Mehmet Ali Ağca peace and forgiveness! None of this matters to Keenan because, unlike Francis, JP II spoke with doctrinal clarity and thus did not provide the ambiguity she needs to advance her dissenting agenda.

Furthermore, Francis never said that “denying communion to those who are divorced and remarried defeats the purpose of the sacrament” and Keenan seems to think popes have authority to change teachings like contraception. In this she shows ignorance of Catholicism. Popes have about as much authority to make such changes as they do to command the sun to rise in the west.

Monica Migliorino Miller, Ph. D.
[Hat tip to M.M.]

Extraordinary Community News

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

Tridentine Community News (December 22, 2013):
Jackson Mass to Relocate to St. Mary Star of the Sea

Congratulations are in order to the Tridentine Mass Community in Jackson, Michigan. After many years in residence at the 1960s-era St. Joseph Church, the Jackson Mass will be relocating to historic St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in downtown Jackson, effective January 5. Sunday Masses will take place at 12:15 PM. As we have reported before, St. Mary is one of our region’s most stunning and majestic Catholic Churches, maintained in pristine condition. [Below photo of special Mass in August, 2012 by Aaron Harburg]

Pope Recommends Daily Rosary

Few prayers are as enriched with as many graces as the Holy Rosary. Our Lady has many times urged the praying of the Rosary in various apparitions. Countless Popes and theologians have recommended praying the Rosary regularly. Praying a Rosary in a church or in public or with one’s family is one of the easiest ways to gain a Plenary Indulgence, under the usual conditions. Recently our Holy Father, Pope Francis added his own support for this pious practice: On November 17, he distributed 20,000 Rosaries to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, urging them to pray the Rosary daily and to think of it as a spiritual prescription that is “good for your heart, for your soul, for your whole life.”

Special Christmas Choral Masses

Two Masses on Christmas Day will be supported by special choral programs:

At the Midnight Mass at Detroit’s St. Joseph Church, the choir will sing Mozart’s Mass in G with chamber orchestra, Victoria’s O Magnum Mystérium, and Saint-Saëns Ave Verum. A musical prelude begins at 11:30 PM.

At the 2:00 PM Solemn High Mass of the St. Benedict Tridentine Community at Windsor’s Assumption Church, the choir will sing Michael Praetorius’ Missa a 8 and motets including Hieronymus Praetorius’ In Dulci Júbilo. Carols will begin at 1:30 PM.

Additional Christmas Masses in Michigan

Along with our usual schedule of Masses below, the following additional churches in Michigan will be holding Masses in the Extraordinary Form on Christmas Day:
  • Holy Rosary, Cedar: Midnight
  • Assumption Grotto, Detroit: Midnight (César Franck’s Mass in A), 9:30 AM (no choir)
  • Sacred Heart of Jesus, Grand Rapids: 12:30 PM
  • St. Joseph, Jackson: 12:00 Noon
  • St. Mary, Kalamazoo: 10:00 AM
  • St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport: Midnight
  • Blessed John XXIII (St. Mary Cathedral), Lansing: Midnight
  • St. Mary, Morrice will have Midnight Mass at 10:00 PM on Tuesday, December 24th
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Tue. 12/24: No Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor
  • Wed. 12/25 12:00 Midnight: High Mass at St. Joseph, Detroit (Christmas Day) – Choir will sing Mozart’s Mass in G
  • Wed. 12/25 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. Joseph, Detroit (Christmas Day)
  • Wed. 12/25 2:00 PM: Solemn High Mass with Deacon and Subdeacon at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (Christmas Day) - Choir will sing Michael Praetorius’ Missa a 8 - Carols begin at 1:30 PM
  • Thu. 12/26 1:30 PM: High Mass at St. Mary of the Angels, Chicago (St. Stephen, Deacon & Protomartyr)
  • Fri. 12/27 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. John Cantius, Chicago (St. John, Apostle & Evangelist) – Note changed location and time - The above two Masses are part of the Chicago Bus Tour; all are welcome to attend the Masses even if you are not on the tour.
  • Fri. 12/27 7:00 PM: High Mass at Sweetest Heart of Mary, Detroit (St. John, Apostle & Evangelist)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for December 22, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Friday, December 20, 2013

Did you get that? Pope Francis now promoting the Rosary

Although Pope Francis is on record as having raised questions about "counting rosaries" as something outmoded, on November 17th of this year, he added his own support for the practice of praying the Rosary by distributed 20,000 Rosaries (in little prescription-medicine-size boxes) to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, urging them to pray the Rosary daily and to think of it as a spiritual prescription that is “good for your heart, for your soul, for your whole life.”

"Burke out, Wuerl in" - Update

Following up on the post, "Burke out, Wuerl in at Congregation for Bishops" (Musings, December 16, 2013), we call to your attention several recent responses suggesting the gravity of this exchange for the long-term health of the ailing Church:It will be difficult for anyone to credibly gloss over this exchange of Vatican appointments as something of negligible consequence.

Best prank ever

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The New "Devangelization"

In Stephansdom (St. Stephen's), the Cathedral of Vienna, last December ...

[Hat tip to Fr. Z]

More on the Franciscans of the Immaculate

Following up on an earlier post, "Franciscans of the Immaculate ordeal not over" (Musings, December 12, 2013), we have another thoroughgoing analysis from Adfero at Rorate (December 19, 2013), disputing statements from Catholic World Report, among other things, citing a "very well-informed source."

Update (12/22/13): "Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate fight back" (Rorate Caeli, December 22, 2013).

Update (12/23/12): Adfero, Franciscans of the Immaculate part 2, from our very well-informed source - Friars who signed petition told by Volpi they were "outside the Church" - Threatened to deny them Sacraments if they didn't sign retractions (Rorate Caeli, 23, 2013).

Against Sedevacantism

The best arguments against Sedevacantism usually come from Catholic traditionalists, and THIS, from Rad Trad (December 18, 2013), is no exception.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

St. Peter Faber, canonized by papal executive fiat

"Pope approves canonization of St. Peter Faber, waiving the usual process" (December 17, 2013).

This reminds me a bit of a question my wife once asked one of our deacons back in North Carolina some years ago. He had just blessed some water, making it "holy water," and she asked: "Couldn't you just bless the faucets so that all the water that came out was holy water, so we could cook and even bathe with holy water?!"

Good point.

Anyone acquainted with how the process of canonization has changed since earlier days with the requisite number of miracles and a Devil's Advocate will find the Holy Father's gesture of simply "waving the usual process" interesting, to say the least.

I recall reading with interest Kenneth Woodward's survey of the process in his book, Making Saints back in 1996. There was also a very interesting movie called The Third Miracle, starring Ed Harris as a skeptical priest who is appointed to look into the cause for the canonization of deceased mother of a skeptical daughter played by Anne Heche, which does a remarkably good job of covering the mechanics of the traditional process as well as leading to an unexpected conclusion. (Good for a Hollywood movie; but remember, it's still a Hollywood movie.)

[Hat tip to JM]

"Liberal" persecution comes home to Hollywood

"'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson on Indefinite Hiatus Following Anti-Gay Remarks" (Hollywood Reporter, December 18, 2013):
The news comes after Robertson compared homosexuality to bestiality in an interview with GQ magazine....

"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus," Robertson says in the January issue of the men's magazine. "That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical.

... "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," he says. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

He goes on to paraphrase Corinthians: "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers -- they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

"The Catholic Church does not need the approval of men, for it is the work of God." (St. Josemaria Escrivá)

The Apostle John says of the Pharisees and those beholden to them: "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John 12:43)

One of the greatest temptations of Catholics in public these days is that posed by the electronic media. There is a great pressure to self-censorship and to compromising one's message in order for it to play well in the grand stands of the public arena.

Those entrusted with sharing the treasure of the Gospel would do well to remember the unforgettable lines from Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons, in which Sir Thomas More tells the young status-seeking Richard Rich (who would eventually betray him) that he should pursue being a teacher rather than a lawyer, because he would thereby more easily avoid the temptations of power and its trappings:
Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.

Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?

Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"New" Evangelization? "[It is an] illusory notion that the man of our age can only be reached with the message of Christ in a completely new way." (Dietrich von Hildebrand)

Yes, it's true that evangelizing post-Christian pagans is notoriously difficult, if only because the post-Christian pagan believes he already knows the content of the Gospel, has found it wanting, and dismissed it as so much worthless piffle; whereas in fact his dismissive attitude is simply proportional to his ignorance of it.

Nevertheless, the only way anyone today is going to be evangelized is for Catholics to stop writing books, organizing sub-committees, launching programs, and endlessly talking on and on about the "New Evangelization," and quite simply start evangelizing -- which is to say, sharing the good news about what Jesus Christ has done for them to atone for their sins, save them from hell and damnation, and offer them eternal life in the fellowship of the Blessed Trinity.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Song Is Love Unknown

Another great Lutheran conversion story -- Jennifer Ferrara

This is an older conversion story but one I particularly enjoy, since it references people, places, and things in the Lutheran world in which I, though never Lutheran, used to teach. Just six years after I was received into the Catholic Church, while I was teaching at Lenoir-Rhyne University -- a Lutheran (ELCA) institution -- the following piece appeared by Jennifer Mehl Ferrara, "Becoming Catholic: Making It Hard" (First Things, January, 1999), which expressed many of the same sentiments I experienced at the time. (Don't fret: if you click on the "Read more" link at the bottom, the story ends on a positive note):
In its section on music, the Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes St. Augustine: “How I wept, deeply moved by your hymns, songs, and the voices that echoed through your Church! What emotion I experienced in them! Those sounds flowed into my ears, distilling the truth in my heart. A feeling of devotion surged within me, and tears streamed down my face—tears that did me good.” As a former Lutheran pastor who is now Roman Catholic, I am sorry to say Augustine’s wonderful words do not describe my experience with worship in the Church. Though at times I have been on the verge of tears, that was due to feelings of despair and not devotion. Far from drawing me into the Church, the manner in which the Mass is celebrated in most parishes constituted, in the end, the greatest stumbling block to my conversion.

My trek to Rome began in earnest the day I read in Lutheran Forum Pastor Leonard Klein’s condemnation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s practice of funding abortions: “Real churches do not kill babies.” Prior to this point, I had never seriously considered becoming Roman Catholic. After all, I was a fourth-generation Lutheran pastor—happy to be a pastor and steeped in the traditions, theology, and ethos of Lutheranism.

Yet, as I read Klein’s editorial, I was like a person coming to terms with the terminal illness of a loved one: I saw that my church body had fallen captive to “the culture of death” and that I had no choice but to leave. I had for some time ceased to view Lutheranism as a necessary “corrective” to Catholicism and, for years, had viewed the Roman Catholic Magisterium, and especially this Pope, as the keeper of the faith for all of Christendom. Therefore, for me, the only true option was to become Roman Catholic.

I began to read—papal encyclicals, Vatican II documents, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, theologians such as Louis Bouyer, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. I conversed with other Protestant pastors who had become Catholic and with priests who had grown up in the faith—all were eager evangelizers. The more I read and talked, the more convinced I became of the truth of the Catholic Church’s teachings and doctrine.

I had now arrived at the doorstep of Lumen Gentium 14: “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by God through Jesus Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in her could not be saved.” Even if I was willing to take a chance with my own soul, I had three small children to consider and that concentrates the mind. At this stage, I was a reluctant convert still wrestling with giving up my ordination, but I took comfort in C. S. Lewis’ insight: “The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.” God’s compulsion was operating through my conscience and driving me into the arms of the Church. I now set out with hopes of experiencing the teachings and beliefs of the Church through Catholic worship—the Truth made manifest, if you will.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the lobby of our local Catholic parish, St. Mary’s, was the absence of a coat rack. Catholics, unlike Lutherans, worship with their coats on, which gives the impression they are making an obligatory pit stop. After Mass, most do not linger to talk but instead race to be the first out of the parking lot. Obviously, becoming Catholic was going to require a few adjustments, including giving up that Protestant feeling of belonging to a close-knit community.

The sanctuary of St. Mary’s is devoid of statues, and the pews are arranged in a semi-circle. We chose to sit in the side pews, and I soon discovered the problem with this configuration: I spent most of Mass staring at the parishioners across from me—observing their dress, their mannerisms, their parenting skills. This became an especially great temptation during the homily, which lasted twenty minutes and was delivered without manuscript or notes. My father, who for part of his career taught homiletics, warned me: “If you are going to preach without a manuscript, you actually have to be much better prepared.” Many priests don’t seem to know that rule.

I might have put up with the preaching, but the music was another matter altogether. This parish had well over a thousand members, so I could not understand why it did not have a choir. Instead, we were led in song by a large, well-dressed, perfectly coifed woman who stood at the lectern and sang with great emotion off-key into a microphone. The alternative to the song leader was the intensely earnest folk group with their three guitar chords. My first call as a pastor had been to a small rural parish with an average attendance of ninety and a choir of five. It boggled my mind to think the music and singing in that parish was superior to what I was now experiencing.

One Sunday, after singing the words to “Here I Am Lord” (I, the Lord of sea and sky. . . . My hand shall save. . . .), I turned to my husband and said, “Why are we always pretending to be God in these contemporary Catholic hymns? It strikes me as a bit presumptuous.” I then began to notice the inordinate number of references to “I,” “me,” and “my” in the hymns I was being asked to sing. (As I later read in Thomas Day’s Why Catholics Can’t Sing, the music “oozes with an indecent narcissism.”) Before long, I was standing arms crossed refusing to sing at all.

Lutheran: conversion "massive case of false advertising"

Please understand, in contrast to Michael Voris who broad brushes Lutherans and Calvinists and Baptists all under the rubric of "THE Protestant Heresy," there are significant differences among Protestants. The former Lutheran Catholic convert who authored the following article, for example, finds Calvinist and Baptist traditions incomprehensibly bizarre, but equally regards most contemporary Catholics as having "jumped ship." Whether or not we agree with everything he assumes or says, he offers a perspective on contemporary Catholicism from which we can likely learn something. In fact, some may find it a trifle amusing.

Nate Metzger, "Ordinary Time, Ordinary Ministers, Ordinary Everything" (Remnant, November 22, 1013):
I’ve written previously of my anti-climactic conversion from Lutheranism, and I don’t want to bore the good readers of this magazine by opining at length over an issue that is merely testimonial in nature. But allow me the indulgence to speak of this one last time.

Confessional Lutherans who convert to Catholicism are a peculiar lot. We are in the rare position, among converts, of knowing quite well what Catholics actually teach, long before converting. Certainly, I was under some slight misapprehensions, but my coming to the Church was not a matter of discovering that the picture of Catholicism I had been taught by my teachers and pastors growing up was full of gross exaggerations, outrageous mischaracterizations, and outright falsehoods. In catechism class, we read the Baltimore Catechism and looked at the Tridentine Mass. It is not uncommon to find a confessional Lutheran kid, attending his parish school, who knows more about Catholicism than the kid at the Catholic school down the road. In fact, these days, that’s what one should expect.

Reading conversion stories by former evangelicals is always enlightening for this reason. I confess to finding it slightly amusing learning what some of these poor fellows thought of Catholicism during their super-protestant days. As compared to them, I knew full well that Catholics didn’t worship Mary or the pope, for example. I knew that there was nothing ‘pagan’ about their religion, and I wasn’t weirded out by the kneeling, the incense, or the genuflecting. They were wrong on a lot of important, nay crucial, doctrinal points, I thought; but they had a lot of things going for them. And anyway, I was taught that it was far better to be Catholic than a bloody Calvinist or Methodist, or some other hyper-Anabaptist, iconoclast mutation that eschews all sacraments, thinks of the bread and wine as mere ‘symbols’ of something or other (God knows what), doesn’t cross himself at invocations of the Trinity, has no real notion of holy orders, and is wary of creeds and councils.

As for T.U.L.I.P., God save us. And as for Baptists and their ilk, confessional Lutherans look with curiosity on anti-creedal churches, they have no patience for liturgy-free worship, and they have no idea what it means to accept Jesus in your heart as your personal Lord and Savior.

I remember back as a Lutheran kid, I attended my buddy’s Baptist service. It was utterly, frighteningly bizarre: there was a big projector with the words of some stupid song on a white movie screen, the singing was accompanied by pre-recorded rock music, there was lots of hugging (a nightmare for a Lutheran kid), and a sermon that was more of a self-help talk than a meditation on the day’s scripture readings—of which there were none. People got up midway through the service (not that there was any real order to anything anyway) and told the whole congregation of their problems and the help they received from God. It occurred to me that this is what an AA meeting must be like, if such meetings included canned music about Shouting to the Lord. What struck me as the weirdest and most troubling aspect of it, though, was the pressure it put on the poor pastor to perform. It was all on him to inspire and lead: his panache had to do it all. Moreover, all of his prayers were impromptu, with lots of ‘we just wannas’ sprinkled throughout. It was so foreign and wild, that it might as well have been a feature in National Geographic, as far as this Lutheran kid was concerned.

No, if a ranking system was called for, any confessional Lutheran kid would tell you that Catholics were better off than these other sorts of Christian metamorphosis. In fact, most confessional Lutheran kids wince at being told they are protestant. Protestants don’t believe in the Real Presence, they get around to baptizing (or usually just ‘christening’) their kids when they are six or seven, they reject liturgical time, they think on the bible as an ex-nihilo and exclusive guide to dogma and morality, and they have empty crosses behind whatever it is that they have in place of an altar.

Fr. Z - hilarious

"NEW Z-SWAG: 'I am a Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagian and proud of it.'” (WDTPRS, December 16, 2013).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Camille Paglia: some hard truths about gender

Camille Paglia, "It’s a Man’s World, And It Always Will Be" (Time, December 16, 2013):
If men are obsolete, then women will soon be extinct—unless we rush down that ominous Brave New World path where females will clone themselves by parthenogenesis, as famously do Komodo dragons, hammerhead sharks, and pit vipers.

A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment. Ideologue professors at our leading universities indoctrinate impressionable undergraduates with carelessly fact-free theories alleging that gender is an arbitrary, oppressive fiction with no basis in biology.

Is it any wonder that so many high-achieving young women, despite all the happy talk about their academic success, find themselves in the early stages of their careers in chronic uncertainty or anxiety about their prospects for an emotionally fulfilled private life? When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honor their commitments. And without strong men as models to either embrace or (for dissident lesbians) to resist, women will never attain a centered and profound sense of themselves as women.

[Hat tip to JM]

"Burke out, Wuerl in at Congregation for Bishops"

"In Rome, an American rises and another American fades" (RNS, December 16, 2013), via Rorate, as Pope Francis continues to define his pontificate. Remember: there is a reason for every decision that is made, whether or not it is the immediately apparent one or another, as yet unknown.

SOOooo "Enlightened": 5th grader stripped of 1st place ribbon in speech contest for discussing religion

Urbane. Educated. Enlightened. Open-minded. Liberal. You know it had to be the right decision. Because religion is such a dangerous thing. Because that old, old story about Jesus and His love is such a scary, hideously terrifying, evil thing. Because the Golden Rule is such a patriarchal, repressive, authoritarian throwback thing. And it all happened in Tampa, Florida. Report: "There is a brief paragraph on the Crusades, Genghis Khan and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 in his speech. He ends it by encouraging the “Golden Rule,” saying that it would “make the world a better place.”

"Major Newspaper Apologizes to Pat Robertson, Makes Donation"

Televangelists have the reputation of being generally flaky. I generally have no quarrel with that claim. Nor do I dispute that Pat Robertson can often fit that description, even though he managed to garner sufficient backing to actually run for office in the US presidential election some years ago.

In the interests of fairness, however, it was nice to see this article, by Jeremy Weber, "Major Newspaper Apologizes to Pat Robertson, Makes Donation" (Gleanings, December 13, 2013), reporting that the Guardian retracted and apologized for its allegation that televangelist 'raised millions on the back of a non-existent aid project' in the Congo and made a financial donation to the Robertson ministry.

I also think it helpful to remember, at least for my part, that I don't wish to spend too much time piling onto the mountains of criticism already being heaped by our enemies in the self-congratulatory "enlightened" liberal media upon those who, after all, define themselves in many ways that are sympathetic to our own cause. I understand, in fact, that Regent University, one of the institutions founded by Robertson, employs not a few faithful Catholics as professors.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Extraordinary Community News

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

Tridentine Community News (December 15, 2013):
The 12 Days of Christmas

It is often interesting to realize that some concepts that have gained traction in popular culture derive from traditional Catholic customs. One such example is the well-known English Christmas carol, The 12 Days of Christmas. While the lyrics speak of gifts being given, the notion of 12 days of Christmas relates to the Christmas Octave and the days afterwards leading up to the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. Some traditions shift the twelve days forward one day, encompassing December 26 – January 6, however because the Catholic concept of an octave includes its starting feast day, and because the Feast of the Epiphany is such a high-ranking feast on its own, it makes more sense to think of the 12 days as December 25 – January 5. Excluding the overriding feasts which take precedence when these dates fall on a Sunday, the 12 days of Christmas are:
  1. December 25: Christmas Day
  2. December 26: St. Stephen, Deacon & Protomartyr
  3. December 27: St. John, Apostle & Evangelist
  4. December 28: Holy Innocents, Martyrs
  5. December 29: Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas, with commemoration of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop & Martyr
  6. December 30: Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas
  7. December 31: Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas, with commemoration of St. Sylvester I, Pope & Confessor
  8. January 1: Octave of Christmas/The Circumcision of Our Lord
  9. January 2: Feria of Christmastide
  10. January 3: Feria of Christmastide
  11. January 4: Feria of Christmastide or in the USA, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Widow
  12. January 5: St. Telesphorus, Pope & Martyr
Catholic Church Tours on Facebook

Chicago’s Catholic Church Tours ( is the only other organization in North America with a similar mission as Detroit’s Prayer Pilgrimages. Unlike the latter, which offers bus tours of historic Catholic churches both in and outside of metro Detroit, Catholic Church Tours concentrates on tours of Chicago churches alone. This provides ample material, as Chicago possesses one of the largest collections of beautifully maintained churches in North America. Those who go on Prayer Pilgrimages’ annual Christmas bus tour to Chicago can attest to the remarkable beauty of every church visited.

Of interest to fans of classic sacred architecture, Catholic Church Tours has started a Facebook page in which they present a continual news stream of architecturally significant church construction and restoration projects from around the world. News reports are posted almost daily. Even the recent sale of Windsor’s Our Lady of the Rosary Church made the news feed.

While not every article is traditional in nature, there is plenty of content of interest. For example, recent posts covered the restoration of a High Altar at St. John the Baptist Church in Marshfield, North Carolina, and the reopening of Ss. Peter, Paul, & Philomena Church in New Brighton, England as a Tridentine Mass parish staffed by the Institute of Christ of the King.

Matthew Meloche Named Music Director at Phoenix’s Ss. Simon & Jude Cathedral

Former Windsor Tridentine Mass music director and St. Josaphat substitute organist Matthew Meloche has been named Music Director of the Cathedral of the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona, Ss. Simon & Jude. An extensive search was conducted with candidates from across the continent before Matthew was selected.

It was only nine years ago that Matthew’s church music career was jump-started when one of our volunteers at our then-home of St. Michael’s Church asked him if he could substitute for our usual organist that Sunday. Today Matthew is not only one of the top “players” in Phoenix church circles, but he has also organized a Chant Workshop in Phoenix for the Church Music Association of America this coming January. You can watch Matthew direct the music for the diocese’s weekly televised Mass at: Our prayers are with this accomplished son of the Windsor Tridentine Mass.

Christmas Week Special Mass Schedule
  • Tue. 12/24: No Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor
  • Wed. 12/25 12:00 Midnight: High Mass at St. Joseph, Detroit
  • Wed. 12/25 12:00 Midnight: Solemn High Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (orchestral Mass; details here) 
  • Wed. 12/25 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. Joseph, Detroit
  • Wed. 12/25 9:30 AM: High Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit
  • Wed. 12/25 2:00 PM: Solemn High Mass with Deacon and Subdeacon at St. Benedict / Assumption-Windsor - Choir will sing Michael Praetorius’ Missa a 8 and motets including Hieronymus Praetorius’ In Dulci Júbilo; - Deacon will be Deacon Joe Tuskiewicz; Subdeacon will be seminarian Jacob VanAssche from Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary
  • Fri. 12/27 7:00 PM: High Mass at Sweetest Heart of Mary, Detroit

  • Tue. 12/31: No Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor
  • Wed. 01/01 9:30 AM: High Mass at St. Joseph, Detroit
  • Wed. 01/01 2:00 PM: High Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 12/16 7:30 AM & 7:00 PM: Tridentine Mass at Assumption Grotto (St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop)
  • Tue. 12/17 7:00 AM: Tridentine Mass at Assumption Grotto (Greater Feria of Advent).
  • Tue. 12/17 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (Greater Feria of Advent)
  • Wed. 12/18 7:30 AM & 7:00 PM: Tridentine Mass at Assumption Grotto (Ember Wednesday of Advent)
  • Thur. 12/19 7:30 AM: Tridentine Mass at Assumption Grotto (Greater Feria of Advent)
  • Friday 12/20 7:30 AM & 7:00 PM: Tridentine Mass at Assumption Grotto (Ember Thursday of Advent)
  • Saturday 12/21 7:30 AM: Tridentine Mass at Assumption Grotto (St. Thomas; Ember Saturday of Advent).
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for December 15, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Antarctic sea ice hits 35-year record high Saturday"

"Antarctic sea ice hits 35-year record high Saturday" (Washington Post, September 23, 2013):
Antarctic sea ice has grown to a record large extent for a second straight year, baffling scientists seeking to understand why this ice is expanding rather than shrinking in a warming world.

Related: "FIVE YEARS AGO TODAY… Al Gore Predicted the North Pole Will Be Ice Free in 5 Years" (Gateway Pundit, December 13, 2013).

CDF Prefect Müller: V-II liturgical reform helped stem tide of de-Christianization of West

"CDF prefect praises liturgy reform and Vatican II" (Tablet, December 13, 2013):
Without the Second Vatican Council’s liturgy reform, dechristianisation might have forged ahead far faster than it has, Archbishop Müller said at a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy [ITAL]Sacrosanctum Concilium[UNITAL] at Würzburg.
See Louie Verrecchio for comparisons to " strikingly similar ... dismissive proclamations of those global warming freaks who claim the matter settled even as it’s being reported that Antarctic sea ice has been growing at a record pace."

Still, he recognizes that the comments are no laughing matter:
Make no mistake, he isn’t simply expressing his personal opinion here; he is letting us know that “the mind of the Church,” read, the mind of those now running the show in Rome, has changed. No longer do we have a pope who recognizes, as Pope Benedict did, that the so-called “reform” of the sacred liturgy following Vatican II has been a disaster.

In other words, no longer is the state of the liturgy understood as a problem to be solved, it’s considered the solution, and more than this, you can be sure that this presumed “success” of the liturgical reform will form a substantial part of the bedrock upon which the “reform” of the Church’s structures to come will be constructed.

Query: Do YOU invite non-Catholic kids to Mass?

Just curious. In your experience as Catholics, how often do you invite non-Catholics kids to Mass?

The reason I ask this is that being a Catholic complicates the matter far more than if one were a Protestant.

Of course, it's a matters of degrees, as I always say. Being ANY sort of Christian makes one "bizarre" in today's world. But being a Catholic makes one seem just that much more "bizarre."

As a Protestant, when you invite a neighborhood kid to church with your family, it's not such a big deal. The child isn't confronted with the utterly incomprehensible. He's seen a teacher in a classroom before. He's seen the school principal making speeches at public assemblies. He's joined in with his classmates in singing songs at school. Protestant church services aren't altogether unlike that: people in civilian clothes get up and talk; people sing.

The matter is a bit more complicated for a Catholic. What's that you're doing with your hands with the water before entering the church? What's that you're doing bobbing down on one knee before sitting down? What's this business of kneeling and crossing yourself? Stand now. Sit now. Bow now. Sing now. Recite these words now. What??? I can't have the little wafer like the rest of you?

But the non-Catholic child would STILL have some notion of what this strange to-do is. It's something religious. It involves my being quiet and listening. It involves singing. It involves praying. He's not completely oblivious to these things, even if he's never quite seem them in this particular context.

But now, let's ratchet up the complexities even a bit further. Let's say this neighborhood kid wants to come with you to the Byzantine rite or Tridentine liturgy with your family. How do you prepare him for that! You may as well be taking him to a Druid ceremony with men dressed like Gandalf and carrying magic staffs.

Yes, I know: throughout nearly all of the 2000 some years of the Church, things were really no different. If a young pagan or a young man from a heretical sect wanted to go to church with you, it would be much the same. He would be invited to come to the Mass of the Catechumens (up to the Offertory), and then would be asked to leave the church, because members alone were permitted to remain for the Mass of the Faithful (from the Offertory through Communion).

It wasn't quite like waltzing into your local Baptist church and being made a church member there that day on the spot, after answering a few questions.

Nor was it like inviting a neighborhood boy to the Baptist church where he could participate in the Sunday School class and sit through the church service with his friends and host family without feeling like a second-class citizen.

If this kid comes with you to a Latin Mass parish, what do you do? Will he be able to participate in the CCD class? Depends a lot on the parish. If they have any CCD classes worth their salt, as most Latin Mass parishes seem to, then the kid is going to feel a bit like a fifth wheel, because the class will be at some stage of catechesis that assumes a certain level of familiarity with the Catholic Faith. Even if he's allowed to remain throughout the entire liturgy, he won't be permitted to receive the Eucharist.

I think I can see now why there has been such a self-imposed pressure to make Catholic church services more and more like Protestant ones -- more "user-friendly" for the newcomer, more inviting, more welcoming, more willing to replace substantial doctrinal catechesis with easy-going socializing, more eager to remove the formal and solemn with the free-and-easy ambiance of an open-armed, come-as-you-are Baptist church. I think most Catholics probably find their older traditional ways embarrassing, if they even remember what they are.

So how do you invite the neighborhood kid to come to Mass with you? You tell him what to expect. You don't make it easy. You let him know he may not understand what's going on. You tell him what's expected of him. But if he's genuinely interested, he'll figure it out. In time. All things worth knowing and doing take time. Kids, at least, instinctively seem to know this.

And, yes, like Mark Shea, I LOVE being Catholic!

Occasionally, I am asked by some of my Protestant friends and erstwhile colleagues whether I have ever had any second thoughts or suffered a twinge of "buyer's remorse" after converting to the Catholic Faith two decades ago. My truthful response is: not for a moment!

One must understand, of course, how the contemporary situation sometimes looks to a Protestant bystander of an Evangelical or Reformed stripe. They look at what has happened in the Catholic Church since the sixties -- which one of their own scholars, David F. Wells, describes as Revolution in Rome in his book by that title -- and they have questions: "Didn't you just jump out of the frying pan into the fire?" "Didn't you find that the Church you thought you were joining exists only in the history books and not in the real world today?" "If you saw yourself as climbing aboard the Barque of St. Peter to save yourself from drowning, don't you find yourself in a pretty leaky boat these days?"

I suppose there may seem to be a little truth in all of these questions, depending on how one interprets them; but the Church is not something that can be destroyed by human hands. It can be severely compromised, surely, but never quite destroyed. How do I know this? In the same way that I know the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ: by faith in His promises.

So, yes, there is a sense in which I do find myself somewhat "out of the frying pan and into the fire," inside a Church that looks strangely different from the Church of Catholic history, in a leaky Barque of St. Peter that seems to be listing alarmingly to the starboard side as it takes on water. Some would say of the Church that her days are numbered.

In a temporal sense, I cannot quarrel with the data. They do not look good. But like J.R.R. Tolkien, I continue to hold fast the the Eucatastrophe, the dramatic narrative climax that delivers victory from the jaws of certain defeat. In the end, I should find it surprising if the Church were NOT under withering attack by the world, the flesh, and the Devil. It is exactly what one should expect.

To be Catholic is to part of the most beautiful adventure in the world. It is to be recruited into an army to fight exhilarating battles with no hope of success -- battles that are nonetheless exhilarating because they are battles in a war whose outcome is already known: in the end we will win. Our liege Lord has already assured us of that.

Remember the words of Gandalf: "Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day -- at dawn look to the east!" Our King will INVADE, and nothing will stop Him!

"Racking his brains"

Context: THIS is apparently a follow-up to the recent news about the oath on the Novus Ordo imposed on the Franciscans of the Immaculate (see "... ordeal not over," Musings, Dec. 12, 2013), as is clear from the following lines appended by the blogger: "For more on the story of the oath administered to the FFI, see Fr Hunwicke's Liturgical Notes, Fr John Zuhlsdorf at WDTPRS and also Dr Joseph Shaw, LMS Chairman."

[Advisory: Da Rulz rules ## 7-9 in force.]

Pope Francis Little Book of Insults

A British wag who says he's been commissioned to compile The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults, says: "It will hit the shelf at Christmas, for £6.99, but you get a 20% discount if you insult the cash till operator with any of the following insults. My favourite is "You querulous and disillusioned pessimist!" It should not be confused with The Pope Francis Little Book of Indults, which will be published in 2014, first in Germany and then the rest of Europe."

A vew on the list are:
  • "Querulous and disillusioned pessimist!"
  • "Authoritarian!"
  • "Rosary counter!"
  • "Long-faced, mournful funeral Christian!"
  • "Self-absorbed, Promethean neo-Pelagian!"
  • "Careerist Bishop!"
  • "Children who are afraid to dance, to cry, afraid of everything, who ask for certainty in all things!"
  • "Closed, sad, trapped Christians who are not free Christians!"
[Hat tip to L.S.]

Update: And then, there's this from Fr. Z....

James Schall on the Pope's worldly hopes

James V. Schall, S.J., "Pope Francis' Missionary Church" (Catholic World Report, December 13, 2013):
... But if I am asked what is the overall impression left by this Exhortation, I have to say that it is very much “this-worldly” oriented. It points horizontally, not vertically. The inner life of the Godhead is not much spoken of. When the Father is mentioned, it is always in the context of the love of the neighbor whom God loves in Christ. Unlike Benedict in Spe Salvi, there is little attention given to “eternal life.” When Francis mentions the “kingdom of God,” he does not, as one would expect, cite Augustine. He mentions actual cities and is rather surprised by them. When Augustine talked of “the City of God,” he said that it began among us, but could not be achieved in this world. No existing city would ever be this Kingdom. Augustine, with good reason, was leery of the ambitions of the cities of this world.

... What concerns Francis, if I might put it that way, is the second great commandment. He obviously does not deny the first, the love of God. But Francis’ attention is given to God’s love as it exists among us. But he thinks not enough response is given to it....

Pope Bergoglio is much more oriented to modernity, to modern culture, than the previous two popes. He cites John XXIII, and sometimes Paul VI, though he certainly cites John Paul II and Benedict—and de Lubac, Guardini, Newman, Bernanos, and the various documents of episcopal conferences. He is open to modern science. He is aware of skepticism, relativism, and atheism, but he has a certain sympathy for their adherents.

... What Pope Francis seems to be doing in this Exhortation is, as it were, to present an alternative to modernity within modernity. This alternative is itself inner-worldly. That is, the emphasis is on the effects of Christianity as it truly ought to be lived in the here and now.

... But at bottom, what this Exhortation seems to be is, indeed, an answer to classical modernity that, when spelled out, does everything modernity hopes for, only better and more securely because it is rooted in the real nature of man and is open to the gifts that have come to us in revelation. The Pope’s impatience has its charm. It also has its dangers. After all, most men who have ever lived on this planet have lived in very imperfect circumstances....

So while the function and inspiration of the Church is surely to stand for joy and fulfillment in this life, it never forgets that we save or lose our souls in the societies in which we live, whatever their condition. Some societies are better than others. And we are fortunate if in our lifetime we have lived in one of the better ones. One does not know this—“who are we to judge?”—but it is quite possible that more souls reached their transcendent end from the gulags and concentration camps than from the fashionable addresses of our culture....
[Hat tip to JM]

Holy Sex!!! There he goes, again (Gregory Popcak)

A white-gloved courier dressed in a tux hand-delivered this message to our office. Upon opening it, we learned that it was from a very distressed correspondent -- yes, the very one we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye. Seemed like his head was about to explode:
Hello Doc,

If you were an advice columnist, I might start out,

"Is it just me, or WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?"

If I was sending you an item on Christopher West, I might start out,

"Do you really think we are Puritanical about sex in Catholic circles? Please!"

But I'll simply say: whatever sense of propriety and taste people once had has been seriously bent out of whack if a book about Toe-Curling Orgasms is seen as a "fun" couples gift book recommend at Christmas by the Peggy Noonon of St. Blogs. Not to mention the the whole list is recommended by Mark Shea, who is himself recommended on the list and gets to namedrop Scalia as "Lizzie."
Of course, Guy Noir is referring to the latest promotion of Gregory K. Popcak PhD's Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving,yet another attempt to cash in on Blessed Pope John Paul II's wildly popularized "Theology of the Body," which now has Catholics falling all over themselves talking about sex and sounding like the latest issue of Cosmopolitan or Playboy than like, well, Catholics. [And if anyone wants the distressing facts about Dr. Popcak, PhD, all he needs to do is take Roister-Doister's advice and read the section on him in the distressingly-titled EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong.] Guy continues:
OK. Now that I have gagged and been snide, I will make a note to confess all tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I am talking about this. Fewer and fewer public Catholics do not induce cringes in me. [And a DVD about Francis ... or Benedict XVI, for that matter ... just a hair over the top too. Wait, how about BOTH, in the same wrapper!?]

AND I will add that though the book has impressive endorsements at, of the title I still have to ask, "Really?" If we have to resort to such marketing-driven packaging, do we honestly expect to be able to cultivate high levels of sanctity? Childish in terms of tone versus context regardless of how sober the actually interior content is.... Actually I suddenly recall a sex seminar for us back in high school at a church where you walked into a room and they had it plastered with sexually suggestive images on a table. Seems like similarly-inspired strategy that even at 16 struck me as both slightly adolescent and slightly off base.
Say a prayer for Guy Noir. Obviously he's having trouble catching up with the times.

[Hat tip to JM]

Pope Francis: TIME's Man of the Year [Correction: "Person of the Year"]

Catherine Harmon, "Pope Francis named Time’s 'Person of the Year'” (Catholic World Report, December 11, 2013):

Dubbing him “The People’s Pope,” today Time revealed that Pope Francis has been selected as its “Person of the Year.” From the magazine’s cover story:
... John Paul II and Benedict XVI were professors of theology. Francis is a former janitor, nightclub bouncer, chemical technician and literature teacher.

And behind his self-effacing facade, he is a very canny operator. He makes masterly use of 21st century tools to perform his 1st century office. He is photographed washing the feet of female convicts, posing for selfies with young visitors to the Vatican, embracing a man with a deformed face. He is quoted saying of women who consider abortion because of poverty or rape, “Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?” Of gay people: “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.” To divorced and remarried Catholics who are, by rule, forbidden from taking Communion, he says that this crucial rite “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” ...
Time managing editor Nancy Gibbs further explains the choice:
The giddy embrace of the secular press makes Francis suspect among traditionalists who fear he buys popularity at the price of a watered-down faith. He has deftly leveraged the media’s fascination to draw attention to everything from his prayers for peace in Syria to his pointed attack on trickle-down economics, which inspired Jesse Jackson to compare him to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rush Limbaugh to wonder whether he’s a Marxist. When you are a media celebrity, every word you speak is dissected, as are those you choose not to speak. Why has he not said more about the priest sex-abuse scandal? ask victims’ advocates. (Just this month, he set up a commission to address the abuse of children by priests.) Why does he not talk more about the sanctity of life? ask conservatives, who note that in his exhortation, abortion is mentioned once, mercy 32 times. Francis both affirms traditional teachings on sexuality and warns that the church has become distracted by them. He attacks priests who won’t baptize children born out of wedlock for their “rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism.” He declares that God “has redeemed all of us … not just Catholics. Everyone, even atheists.” He posed with environmental activists holding an antifracking T-shirt and called on politicians and business leaders to be “protectors of creation.”
Read more >> [Hat tip to JM]

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Time for some 'rank blasphemy' from Hilaire Belloc

Courtesy of the American Chesterton Society - ACS Blog (December 24, 2010):
Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
A Catholic tale have I to tell:
And a Christian song have I to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.

I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pray detestable drink for them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.

May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale* in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noël! Noël!

*Nathan Allen explains: In the Middle Ages there were four principal holy days, roughly corresponding to the two solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, when the collection of rents and payment of feudal tributes traditionally took place. These four feast days were Lady Day (March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation), Midsummer Day (June 24, the Nativity of St John the Baptist), Michaelmas (September 29, the Feast of St Michael and All Angels), and Christmas. At these times, the feudal lord was expected to provide the entertainment, and this gave rise to the brewing of special seasonal ales, which were then called “audit ales” because of their association with the periodic settling of accounts. It should be noted that feudal tributes and rent payments in the Middle Ages were often nominal and symbolic in nature, and were more about reflecting the relationship of the tenant or vassal to his lord than the actual value of the lands themselves. For example, it was not at all uncommon for a lord to receive as “rent” a rose at Midsummer, or some other symbolic payment such as a peppercorn (Blackstone uses the example of a peppercorn as payment for land in Book II, chapter 20 of his Commentaries on the Laws of England), giving rise to the legal term “peppercorn consideration” for a nominal payment (one dollar, for example) made by one party to the other in forming a contract. As such, these periodic audits were as much about the social life and structure of the community as they were about money changing hands. Belloc is expressing here the notion of the Day of Judgement as the great Audit, and heaven the feast afterwards, when every knee has bent in acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:10), and each man has given an accounting of his life and now the community of saints rejoice in the heavenly banquet, having entered into the joy of their Lord. (cf. Matthew 25:19-23).
[Hat tip to IANS]

The Franciscans of the Immaculate ordeal not over

And you thought the Franciscans of the Immaculate would now have some peace? Think again:

In a massively lengthy post yesterday, Rorate's Augustinus reports an escalation of "Vatican persecution" of the Franciscans of the Immaculate (FI). Details include:
  • Apostolic Commissioner: FI problem is its "crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift"
  • Seminary closed: no ordinations for one year
  • Ordinands must take unprecedented oath on Novus Ordo
  • Ordered "by the Vicar of Christ"
The post includes:
  • a Dec. 4th article by La Stampa's best Vaticanist, Marco Tosatti, consisting mainly of a letter from "a member of the laity who is close to the Franciscans of the Immaculate";
  • a Dec. 6th article featuring a long response by Fr. Fidenzio Volpi, Capuchin, the Apostolic Commissioner appointed by the Holy See for the FI;
  • links to a "harsh" December 8 letter of Fr. Volpi to the FI "announcing further sanctions and measures" against the community;
  • an open letter by professor Roberto de Mattei summarising the situation and calling for the removal of Fr. Volpi.
What is particularly puzzling is the accusation of "crypto-lefebvrianism," given that the religious congregation in question continued to celebrate the Novus Ordo in the great majority of its apostolates even as it made use of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. What does seem clear is that, whatever internecine battles may be occurring within the curia over such matters as these, the opposition such groups as FI are receiving is not simply over their positive reception of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum within them, but as Augustinus suggests, "their increasing attachment to Traditional Catholic theological positions."

[Da Rulz advisory: Rules ##7-9]

[Hat tip to L.S.]


"Neither virgin nor mother! - The problem with contemporary feminism


Why I Am a Feminist

By Cormac Burke

Msgr. Cormac Burke, a priest of the Opus Dei Prelature, is a former civil lawyer who served as a judge in the Roman Rota, the high court of the Church, from 1986 to 1999. Upon retirement he returned to Africa to teach at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya. A prolific author, he has published more than one hundred articles in the fields of marriage, Church law, and theology. His best-known books include Covenanted Happiness, The Lawless People of God?, and Man and Values. His latest book, Marriage: Theological Perspectives, is scheduled for release later this year by The Catholic University of America Press. His website,, lists practically all his publications. This article is adapted from a presentation he gave at a conference co-sponsored by the Ethics & Public Policy Center and the Witherspoon Institute on March 8 in Washington, D.C. The following article, "Why I Am a Feminist," was published in the New Oxford Review (October, 2013), pp. 30-34, and is reproduce here by kind permission of New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706.

Lest the title of this article cause confusion, let me begin by emphasizing that I am a feminist. My life as a feminist started at about the age of five, when I first began to admire my mother. And my feminism increased as I came to appreciate my sisters. At the time, I could not define the elements of that appreciation; but I did realize that there was something different about women and girls, and somehow I admired that something.

Then I entered into my teens, and girls entered into my life in a new way, a way that changed, and to some extent disturbed, my incipient feminism. I heard part of my reaction expressed not long ago in a mentoring session with a 14-year-old boy. He was from a good family background with the distinctive note that his five siblings were all boys. As we were ending our chat, I sensed there was still something on his mind, so I asked him, “What is it?”

He looked at me, and solemnly enunciated, “Girls!”

Slightly amused, I asked him, “What about girls?”

He looked at me again and answered quite slowly, “They puzzle me.”

I gave him a few possible clues to the puzzle but didn’t really try or want to solve it. I had had the same experience myself and thought it a good start to a healthy sexual outlook.

When I was a teenager I lived in a residential area on the outskirts of my hometown in Ireland. Three or four large families, with six, seven, or eight children, lived close by. As a result, my social life was spent in the company of fifteen or twenty boys and girls all in the 15-18 age range. I admired the girls I knew, and now and then imagined I might eventually marry this one or that. I admired them — and I respected them. They made themselves respected. “Bad” thoughts were directed elsewhere. One would feel ashamed to allow a bad thought toward a girl who inspires respect. Modesty, which was then not an unbecoming term, especially on the part of these girls, made purity easier — though never easy. It drew out a noble impulse which helped so much. In another recent mentoring session with a 16-year-old boy, I described, a little more at length, the atmosphere of my teenage social life. When I had finished, he observed, “I wish I had grown up in your times.”

Feminism vs. Femininity
Today, women in general are desired but are neither admired nor respected. Why? Because so many have forgotten — perhaps have never learned, have never been taught — the difference between wanting to be attractive and letting oneself be, or making oneself, provocative. They emphasize the animal fact of being female but ignore the human quality of being attractive. They know the power the female has over the male — consisting simply in a physical desire that looks for satisfaction — but they do not understand the power that the truly feminine woman has over a man, a power that inspires him, as only such a woman can inspire a man, to overcome his sensuality, learning to admire her and therefore to respect her.

If men have changed since I was young, it is because women have changed. Women themselves seem no longer to prize two fundamental features of femininity that are precisely those most capable of inspiring admiration and reverence in men: virginity and motherhood. And the consequences have been disastrous for both men and women.

Neither virgin nor mother! This seems to be the motto or battle-cry of radical feminism — or, should we say, its pathetic cynicism. Ask any radical feminist what she understands by the word feminine, and she will typically have no answer. Radical feminists don’t want women to be feminine, just as they don’t want men to be masculine. And that is why radical feminism, as opposed to the healthy feminism I learned as a child, is such a threat not only to women’s identity but to social relations as a whole.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Paul VI: A Pope of Contradictions"

Peter Kwasniewski, "Paul VI: A Pope of Contradictions" (New Liturgical Movement, December 10, 2013), offers a thoughtful synopsis of the legacy of Pope Paul VI.

A reader, addressing the related subject of why Catholic leaders seem so (unnecessarily) beholden to the judgement of the secular world, writes:
The big thing is this: people want so much the faith to seem utterly reasonable to non-believers. The challenge of rationalism apparently intimidates like nobody's business. And Popes are afraid to do anything but apologize or hedge...

Hence, these assumption, while not approved, still functionally reign despite official pronouncements insinuating otherwise:

SURELY God would not condemn people to Hell
SURELY Adam and Eve were not real people
SURELY God wants to save every soul not matter what
SURELY Scripture is conditioned linguistically so much so we have to be very careful
SURELY Homosexuality is an orientation and not a sin
SURELY Latin is totally non-accessible today
SURELY you can't expect priests not to marry
SURELY woman have to have the same opportunities as men
[Hat tip to G.N.]

and the bishops say ...?

Albert Mohler, "A Moral Revolution at Warp Speed -- Now, It's Wedding Cakes" (, December 22, 2013):
Six months. That’s how long it took to get from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act to the decision of a Colorado judge ordering a Christian baker to make a cake for a same-sex ceremony. Just six months. Read more >>
[Hat tip to G.N.]

"Earnest clarity" on the Pope?

The underground correspondent we keep on retainer in a dark Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, recently sent us the link to Michael J. Miller's article in the Catholic World Report entitled, "Head of the SSPX sees a papal reset with Pope Francis" (CWR, December 9, 2013). G. Noir comments: "Notice that there is no ambiguity, and no possibility of misinterpreting this man's words. Instead you have earnest clarity, a concern for substance, for religion, and a striking lack of concern for peripheral concerns like style, policymaking, and public relations."

[Da Rulz advisory: Rules ##7-9]

[Hat tip to JM]

Deuterocanonicals, anyone?

The underground correspondent we keep on retainer in a dark Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, recently wired me the following:
This is a pretty helpful introduction to a chunk of Scripture that seems to me largely ignored by Catholics. Relatedly, I continue to be struck by how none of the roving Catholic apologists seem interested in really discussing the Apocrypha, in terms of how it is inspired but also possibly in parts a genre of a different sort. Yet here is one woman who is making a good start on the whole thing right about now, as I just discovered.
He was referring, of course, "Introduction to the Deuterocanon or Apocrypha" (Catholic Cravings, November 18, 2013), authored by Laura, apparently a Catholic revert after spending time in a Protestant neck of the woods -- certainly a happy alternative to Tim Stafford's remark about these books in his otherwise informative piece a decade back, "Violent Night, Holy Night" (Christianity Today, December 9, 2002): "I happily affirm the Reformers' decision to leave these books of the Apocrypha out of the canon of the Holy Scripture. These writings don't rise to the level of divine inspiration."

[Hat tip to JM]