Sunday, June 30, 2013

Follow up Report: Gay Roman Clergy

The weak underbelly of contemporary Christian arguments about sex

A guest column today by JM, which I commend to you:
I know, I know... I remain, I realize, impossible to please on the gay issue.

But in reading all the hand-wringing over the Supreme Court decision by Catholics and Evangelicals, all I see, over and over again, is concern for the future of marriage. Oddly, few are concerned nearly so much by the hook-up culture on college campuses or the fact the living together pre-marriage is now the given almost everywhere unless you are a Traddie or Amish. Gays amount to 3 - 9 percent of the population, whereas the sexually-active-outside-of-marriage amount to what percentage? Of course sex sin has always been an issue, but it used to be a sin of stumbling or weakness. Now it is a sin of deliberation, of lifestyle. College students now bring their girl or boyfriends home as bedmates for the summer, and the parents are ... just happy to have the kids home! It is all seen as not weakness but normalcy.

To my mind what is missing in the current unrest, to the point it neuters the entire controversy from a Christian perspective -- despite arguments of a Robert P George that are downright Thomistic in their awesome expansiveness -- is simply this:

Gay marriage is the societal approval of gay sex, plain and simple. It is "I'm OK -- You're Physical Partnering is OK." And this is the natural, almost inescapable endgame of "We must make sure in every circumstance we affirm the inherent dignity of our homosexual brothers and sisters." Someone with inherent dignity can hardly be affirmed and then also taken to task or asked to deny what is part of what is their inherent dignity, right? What does it mean when the Supreme Court gives a green light to gay marriage, and the only mention of sodomy or immorality in the reams and reams of commentary from countless ministry blogs is in Judge Scalia's actual dissent? When the Evangelicals are busy worrying about how we will now interact and witness to gay people and their loved ones? When Exodus Ministries shuts down and apologizes out of respect for the dignity of homosexual believers?

Rather vaguely I think of the Liturgical Wars, and how people are wildly concerned about the loss of Latin, whereas what is more deeply at stake is just what the translations say or don't say. The Latin is important too, but really the more significant matter has to be what words are used, whether in English or in Latin. True, both ARE significant, but when you realize what was done to the content of the Mass a while ago, the question of the vernacular takes on a secondary importance to what you are or are no longer saying.

I am not sure what any of it means, except that while we think sex is very important, we also don't seem to think that our sexual choices especially matter. A commenter on First Things blog said this. It has been so long since I have read anything remotely like it I was shocked. If a Catholic leader ever said any such thing, I might have to make a pilgrimage to the remotest shrine I could find to give thanks for a miracle. Tough times, battle times, require tough talk, not grave tsk tsks. As bracing as Dolan's commentary first appears, next to this it is tepid:
The issue to which I keep coming back as the Church accommodates more and more to the secular gay voices in our society, is our responsibility to proclaim the whole gospel, even the parts we don’t like. Even a cursory reading of Romans 1 and I Corinthians 6 indicates that practicing homosexuals are in real danger of not being a part of God’s Kingdom, however you construe that. That a given “sexual-minority” person is an otherwise well-socialized member of society, perhaps even particularly caring and warm, doesn’t seem to make any difference in Kingdom membership. Whether we like it or not and whether it seems enlightened or not, Scripture, as it reveals God’s message to us, is unambiguous regarding unrepentant homosexual behavior. If we fail to warn those in danger of perdition, then we too will come under a greater judgement. The truth about the Truth sets us free and we owe those caught in sin the same opportunity we have had to find redemption and freedom.
[Hat tip to JM]


Why the same-sex argument wins

... is precisely because it doesn't rely on argument, but (brilliantly) on deeply-rooted emotional images and affections that by-pass the gate-keeper of the soul (the intellect) and go straight to the heart. This is both the source of its power in contemporary culture (which no longer puts a premium on intellectual truth), and its insidious danger. People aren't being required to rationally think through what they're embracing.

YouTube reports almost 50 million views of this music video for "Same Love" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. How many of those individuals to you think gave any mental space over the course of the last DECADE to even the popular-level presentation of intellectual arguments for traditional marriage such as Archbishop Cordileone's?

As our undercover correspondent on retainer told us five days ago, there is an excellent intellectual rejoinder to all this, although it does point out the critical detail that the arguments for traditional marriage continue to be ignored despite the fact that science and objectivity are on their side. As I said, the opposition has moved its case (quite brilliantly) from the field of intellectual argument to the field of emotional free association. Our exhilarating undertaking, then, is to deal in intelligent arguments that nobody will hear any longer in our culture. Too bad. For what it's worth, then, here is the intelligent rejoinder by R. J. Snell, "How Songs Like Macklemore's 'Same Love' Change the Marriage Debate" (On the Square, June 25, 2013):
As I write, YouTube reports almost 50 million views of the music video for “Same Love” by the hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, a single recorded to support same-sex marriage in Washington state. While not remotely approaching the 345 million views of their waggish “Thrift Shop” video, “Same Love” reached number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 earlier this month and tops the charts Down Under.

“Same Love” critiques “right wing conservatives,” hip hop’s portrayal of homosexuals, “a preconceived idea of what it all meant,” “a world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are,” and traditional religion. Christianity, particularly Catholicism, receives the brunt of Macklemore’s disdain: “When I was at church they taught me something else / If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed / That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned.” Yet rather than reject the heritage outright, he transposes it, claiming both that “we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago / I don’t know,” while repeating “Love is patient / Love is kind / Love is patient / Love is kind / (I’m not crying on Sundays).”

Like so much of contemporary discourse, image is used to good effect, more powerful in creating associations and prompting sentiment than any argument or syllogism. The line, “right wing conservatives think it’s a decision,” flashes a non-Catholic cross and communion table before cutting to a grainy 60s-era film of a priest with a gaggle of first communicants. Similarly, “playing God” pairs with the young gay protagonist of the video sitting in a pew with his mother, the same mother who harasses him until he shuts the door in her face at “paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago,” and who aggressively makes the sign of the cross (to the lyric “preach hate”) before storming out (“holy water … poisoned”) when her son brings his soon-to-be spouse home for dinner. Further, the communion table cross is matched against a burning cross, to the lyric, “hate that’s caused wars from religion.” On the other hand, support for same-sex marriage is associated with civil rights—“Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment / The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins / It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!” and pictures of MLK.

Scriptural References for the Extraordinary Form Propers

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

Tridentine Community News (June 23, 2013):
One of the most enduring myths about the Traditional Latin Mass is that it contains less Sacred Scripture than the Ordinary Form of Holy Mass. Previous editions of this column have made the point that the Propers – the readings plus the mandatory inclusion of the Introit, Offertory, and Communion Antiphons, along with the Gradual and Alleluia or Tract – provide significant additional scriptural content that is frequently omitted in the Ordinary Form, which often only offers the faithful the readings plus a Responsory Psalm.

A new blog has debuted, Lectionary Study Aids, which documents use of biblical passages in the Tridentine Mass. Most notably, author Matthew Hazell has put together a 24 page spreadsheet [PDF] delineating the scriptural excerpts used in each Mass, Sunday and weekday, of the entire liturgical year.

It is important to differentiate between what the Ordinary Form is capable of when certain options are selected, and the average experience of it in the average parish. If the Gradual and all Antiphons are employed, a broader spectrum of Scripture can be included, however in practice, the average Tridentine Mass, in which there are far fewer options, employs more Scripture than the average Novus Ordo Mass. Even more Scripture is present if one takes into account the scriptural excerpts present in the unchanging Ordinary of the Mass, for example Psalm 42 in the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.

Relationship of the Readings to the Other Propers

As part of their growing series of Position Papers concerning the Extraordinary Form, Una Voce has released an update to their document on the Lectionary. The main points made are as follows:

Because the Ordinary Form focuses more on working through the three-year cycle of readings for Sundays and the two-year cycle for weekdays, the readings have comparatively little relation to the Feasts. The readings also have less of a correlation with the [Entrance, Offertory, and Communion] Antiphons. Conversely, in the Extraordinary Form, there is a thematic continuity between the Antiphons and the readings.

Though there are more readings in the Ordinary Form cycles, some of the readings present in the EF are omitted in the OF. Thus there is “loss as well as gain” in the change. This point of view is succinctly summarized in Una Voce’s quote from a distinguished priest who celebrated the Windsor Tridentine Community’s 20th Anniversary Mass in 2011:
“The Oratorian priest and schola Fr Jonathan Robinson, in criticising the multi-year cycle of the 1969 Missal, remarks: ‘I think the diversity, rather than enriching people, tends to confuse them… This may be because the selections, as has been noted by others, were drawn up more to satisfy the sensibilities of liturgical scholars than on traditional liturgical principles.’ The Mass and Modernity: walking to heaven backwards (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005) p332”
The paper concludes by pointing out that any suggestion to harmonize the readings or liturgical calendar between the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms would damage the thematic integrity of the EF Propers. While standardizing on one calendar may seem to offer benefits, it’s not such a simple decision, as it affects the structure of the entire Liturgical Year and the relation of the Mass to the Breviary. Prudence dictates that each calendar be left alone.

Juventútem Events This Week

Canon Aaron Huberfeld, of the Institute of Christ the King, rector of St. Mary’s Oratory in Wausau, Wisconsin, has a busy week in our region: First, he is joining members of Juventútem Michigan at this weekend’s Sursum Corda gathering at Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary for young adults interested in the Extraordinary Form.

This Wednesday, June 26 at 6:00 PM, there will be Adoration at Lansing’s St. Mary Cathedral Crypt Chapel, followed by a talk by Canon Huberfeld at 8:00 PM at the Spartan Hall of Fame Café in East Lansing.

This Thursday, June 27 at 7:30 PM, Canon Huberfeld will speak on “The Theology of the [Traditional Latin] Mass” at the monthly Theology on Tap at Ann Arbor’s Conor O’Neill’s. Come early to assure yourself of a seat, as standing is not permitted in this facility. Finally, Canon Huberfeld will celebrate the June Last Friday Tridentine Mass for Juventútem at St. Joseph Church in Howell, Michigan, this Friday, June 28 at 6:30 PM. Those of all ages are invited to attend the Mass. A Swing Dance for Young Adults age 18-35 will follow the Mass at 8:00 PM.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 06/24 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Nativity of St. John the Baptist)
  • Tue. 06/25 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. William, Abbot)
  • Fri. 06/28 6:30 PM: High Mass at St. Joseph, Howell, Michigan (Vigil of Ss. Peter & Paul)
[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 June 23, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Conscience and Its Enemies

Robert P. George, Prof. of Philosophy at Princeton, has authored a new book, Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism ,to which an online Introduction is available in both written and audio formats. Here's the written version:
Americans are deeply divided on a range of issues — not only as to the best means for achieving agreed-upon goals but also as to the goals themselves. These issues centrally involve disputed fundamental values and moral principles. For example: Should human life be protected in all stages and conditions? Or should abortion and euthanasia be permitted and even promoted as "best" (or "least bad") solutions to personal difficulties and social problems? Should we preserve in our law and public policy the historic understanding of marriage as a conjugal union — the partnership of husband and wife in a bond that is ordered to procreation and, where the union is blessed by children, naturally fulfilled by their having and rearing offspring together? Or should we abandon the conjugal understanding of marriage in favor of some form of legally recognized sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership between two (or more) persons, irrespective of gender, to which the label marriage is then reassigned?

Disputes such as these reflect the profound chasm that separates opposing worldviews. People on the competing sides use many of the same words: justice, human rights, liberty, equality, fairness, tolerance, respect, community, conscience, and the like. But they have vastly different ideas of what those terms mean. Likewise, they have radically different views of human nature, of what makes for a valuable and morally worthy way of life, and of what undermines the common good of a justly ordered community.

There is a truth all too rarely adverted to in contemporary "culture war" debates — namely, that deep philosophical ideas have unavoidable and sometimes quite profound implications for public policy and public life. Anyone who takes a position on, say, the ethics of abortion and euthanasia, or the meaning and proper definition of marriage, is making philosophical (e.g., metaphysical and moral) assumptions — assumptions that are contested by people on the other side of the debate. The temptation, of course, is to suppose that "I'm not making any controversial assumptions; only the people on the other side are doing that." But this is absurd. All of us make philosophical assumptions — about the human good, human nature, human dignity, and many other crucial matters. One objective of this book is to show that these assumptions — our own assumptions, not just the other guy's — have important consequences, and that we should all be prepared to examine them critically.

Why the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriages

A very well-written piece, by Bishop Cordileone of San Francisco, "Archbishop Cordileone states case against gay marriage" (USA today, March 21, 2013):

'To legalize marriage between two people of the same sex would enshrine in the law the principle that mothers and fathers are interchangeable or irrelevant.'
Q: What is the greatest threat posed by allowing gays and lesbians to marry?

A:The better question is: What is the great good in protecting the public understanding that to make a marriage you need a husband and a wife?

I can illustrate my point with a personal example. When I was Bishop of Oakland, I lived at a residence at the Cathedral, overlooking Lake Merritt. It's very beautiful. But across the lake, as the streets go from 1st Avenue to the city limits at 100th Avenue, those 100 blocks consist entirely of inner city neighborhoods plagued by fatherlessness and all the suffering it produces: youth violence, poverty, drugs, crime, gangs, school dropouts, and incredibly high murder rates. Walk those blocks and you can see with your own eyes: A society that is careless about getting fathers and mothers together to raise their children in one loving family is causing enormous heartache.

To legalize marriage between two people of the same sex would enshrine in the law the principle that mothers and fathers are interchangeable or irrelevant, and that marriage is essentially an institution about adults, not children; marriage would mean nothing more than giving adults recognition and benefits in their most significant relationship.

NY moves to protect baby-killers from dangers of pro-lifers

Rick Karlin, Pro-choice lobbyist cites danger to donors in winning exemption (, June 26, 2013):
One of the most outspoken lobbying groups in the state has been given an exemption to donor disclosure rules after saying the information could put its contributors in danger.

NARAL Pro Choice NY is so far the sole recipient of a disclosure exemption under new lobbyist donor rules now in effect.
Meanwhile, pro-life ND Governor Jack Dalrymple received death threats this year, and Princeton University pro-life professor Robert George and Fr. Frank Pavone received death threats from supporters of pro-baby-killers last year. Yet pro-life groups receive no such exemption for donor disclosures. If you Google "violence" or "bomb threat" or "murder" together with "abortion," about all you will turn up is articles about the grave threat posed by pro-life groups (now listed as potential "terrorist" groups), but virtually nothing about pro-choice violence against pro-lifers. To get a sense of how distorted the typical media presentation of comparative pro-life and pro-choice violence is, the following site provides ample well-documented grist for the mill:

The challenge of being a faithful priest today

Pray for our priests and bishops!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Republic has been lost ... you just haven't noticed

In his notes from the Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of Maryland's delegates, Dr. James McHenry -- which were first published in The American Historical Review, vol. 11, 1906, he wrote in an anecdote on p. 618: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.”

Well, we haven't kept it. Let's stop kidding ourselves. That battle has been lost. All the furniture is still arranged as it was, and there is still plenty of lip-service to our institutions; but the imperious occupants of our houses of government are running things now as though we had a socialist state.

Don't be deceived by references to "democracy." Without a Republic, a democracy can be as totalitarian as Stalinist Soviet empire. Read J. L. Talmon's The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy, a study of J.J. Rousseau's Social Contract, or Groen van Prinsterer's Unbelief and Revolution, a study of how Rousseau's democratic ideology played out in the French Revolution.

Fr. Z on the clandestine Vatican underground

As my source for Fr. Z's reflection states: "It's not the stuff of conspiracy theorists--even if the mainstream Catholic media likes to write it off as such."

Fr. Z. writes:
There is an especially awful story about clergy in Rome circulating right now.

Once upon a time, I was walking under the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square with an especially well-placed curial official, nay rather, institution.

I asked him if it were true that Masons (the European style Masons, not the US style) had infiltrated the Church and the Roman Curia.

He stopped and looked around. He leaned in, lowered his voice, and said, “Yes. But they are not the ones people talk about.”

Many years ago, also in Rome, I stayed for a while at the Czech College. They were almost paranoid when it came to outsiders. Eventually, someone told me that when they did some renovations of rooms, they found listening devices planted in the walls. They had been infiltrated by seminarians that were actually working for government agencies.

Also in Rome, I lived for a couple summers at a Ukrainian Catholic residence when my own place was under renovation. Some of these old guys had survived Stalin. There was a concern that KGB plants would manage to get in.

For a long time in certain circles there was a great concern that Masons, communists and homosexuals had systematically infiltrated the Church for the purpose of eventually attaining high positions and influence and so under mine or twist the Church and her mission from within.

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you may be sputtering, “You don’t believe any of this, do you? Even though you obviously hate Vatican II, do you buy this stuff?”

I do buy it, yes.

But when I hear about scandalous stories involving Church figures, I tend to shrug. They are only the very edge of a slimy underbelly. Sin isn’t rare.

On the other hand ...

There are those who hate the Church with as much hate as we love the Church. They are organized, they have a great resources, they have a Dark Prince. Dreadful liberal publications and websites, and even the blitherings of some priests and bishops, are only shadows of the deeper agenda flickered out on the back of the cave for popular consumption by barely witting dupes.

Deeper enemies, like our own beautiful missionaries and martyrs of ages past, are willing to set aside their appetites, put on a facade, and endure for patient years for the sake of a long term plan.

Yes, I buy it. I have seen manifestations of communist, Masonic, and especially homosexual networking in the Church both in the USA and in Rome. It would be stupidly naive to think that it isn’t present. In the USA, Masonic and communist? Maybe not so much. Elsewhere, yes. The other thing? Ohhhh, yes.

Those agents will probably go to Hell. Let us remember that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church.

However, Our Lord did not promise that Hell would not prevail in these USA or, in the Roman Curia, in any other particular place.

When you hear awful stories, do not become discouraged.

We are nearing some kind of turning point. I think it is time to press forward HARD and with courage to renew our Holy Church’s liturgical worship, the best, clean antidote.
[Hat tip to Christine Niles, FB]

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Breaking news: Holy crap! (with Update)

This is absolutely unbelievable! So scandalous that Malachi Martin couldn't have dreamed it up!

Involves the Vatican, a homosexual prostitution ring, young teen-age males, and 10-20 Roman clergy, possibly including four bishops; and a recruiter for the child prostitution ring stealing consecrated hosts and selling them to Satanists in and around Rome. Unbelievable. I've been praying that the corruption would be cleaned up. One never knows how deep the corruption may run, although nobody who believes in Original Sin should be totally surprised by scandals like this.

And the irony ... all this right on the heels of our national Gay love fest, cheered by Hollywood along with our first gay president.

Updates: The sordid details -- gay bar named Twink:
More details pour out in multiple posts HERE.

Update (June 20, 2013):

The Spirit of Solesmes

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, "The Spirit of Solesmes" (Views from the Choir Loft, June 27, 2013):
HAVE BEEN READING a beautiful book called The Spirit of Solesmes, a compilation of spiritual writings by Dom Prosper Guéranger, Abbess Cécile Bruyère, and Dom Paul Delatte, with wonderful notes by Sister Mary David Totah. I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who is seriously interested in monastic spirituality. The writings display that uniquely Benedictine synthesis of down-to-earth practical wisdom, a pervasive presence of the rhythms of liturgical prayer, and a vibrant serenity that is always hovering somewhere between the poetry of everyday life and the silence of eternity.

St. Thomas is fond of the axiom: “What is last in execution is first in intention.” Or as the ancients put it still more succinctly: Respice finem. One must begin any major action—such as taking care of one’s children or teaching classes each day!—with the end in view. God, our ultimate end, is known through prayer, in which, by His grace, we enter more deeply into the union of indwelling that He gives us in baptism and all the sacraments.

“Being a Christian does not only mean accepting Christ’s teaching and receiving the graces won by Him; it also means becoming a worshiper in spirit and in truth, reliving His mysteries, ascending to God in the liturgy in the way Christ descended to us and returned to the Father. Here is realized the unity of our human life, the participation of whole persons in their highest act, which is worship.” (Spirit of Solesmes, 24)

The unification of our lives, the orientation to the ultimate goal that gives meaning to every proximate and particular goal we seek, is the work of the sacred liturgy. This is what endows the fragments of each day, colorful and leaden alike, with the unity of a stained glass window.

Many of the Church’s liturgical prayers contain the petition that we should experience in ourselves the mystery we celebrate. Without prayer, we might (for a time at any rate) “have” this union objectively, but it would not be the place we dwell, the determinative content of our thoughts and desires. If we want then to sanctify our actions, whatever they may be, we must enter consciously and lovingly into this union, so as to draw from God, for whom nothing is impossible, the strength to do all the work He asks of us.

When speaking of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Summa Ia-IIae, Question 68), Saint Thomas argues the absolute necessity of special assistance by the Holy Spirit, every day, throughout the day, if we are to attain the glorious end God has in store for us, so greatly does it exceed our natural abilities—even the superadded power of the theological virtues in us. “Let your good spirit lead me into the promised land.” And he makes clear that it is not only for reaching the ultimate end but also for attaining any of the particular ends we aim at as Christians, if we want to do them as God’s children, that is, with wisdom, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, and so on.

So we have to listen to the Spirit in order to be directed in our activity. In this sense, there cannot be a genuine apostolate at all without contemplative prayer behind it, as the Acts of the Apostles so clearly shows. Moreover, prayer of all sorts, but especially quiet prayer in solitude, disposes one to be a good listener and a keen perceiver of reality. You learn how to listen to others and, at times painfully, discover the secret workings of your own heart.

Finally, then, we are left with a question, an examination of conscience: What is at the center of my day? What is the center of my being—what is the still point?

Prayer is
The world in tune,
A spirit-voice,
And vocal joys
Whose echo is heaven’s bliss.
(Henry Vaughan)
[Hat tip to P.K.]

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"The Devirilization of the Liturgy in the Novus Ordo Mass "

Midnight Mass, 1916
Fort Douaumont, Verdun (France)

Fr. Richard G. Cipolla, Ph.D., D. (Oxon.), "The Devirilization of the Liturgy in the Novus Ordo Mass [Exclusive article]" (Rorate Caeli, June 26, 2013) -- [This is a long and scholarly article, well-worth reading. Click on the "Read more" link at the bottom of the post to access the whole article.]:
The correspondence between Cardinal Heenan of Westminster and Evelyn Waugh before the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass is well known, in which Waugh issues a crie de coeur about the post-Conciliar liturgy and finds a sympathetic, if ineffectual, ear in the Cardinal.[1] What is not as well known is Cardinal Heenan’s comment to the Synod of Bishops in Rome after the experimental Mass, Missa Normativa, was presented for the first time in 1967 to a select number of bishops. This essay was inspired by the following words of Cardinal Heenan to the assembled bishops:
At home, it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children.[2]
What the Cardinal was referring to lies at the very heart of the Novus Ordo form of the Roman Mass and the attendant and deep problems that have afflicted the Church since the imposition of the Novus Ordo form on the Church in 1970.[3] One might be tempted to crystallize what Cardinal Heenan experienced as the feminization of the Liturgy. But this term would be inadequate and ultimately misleading. For there is a real Marian aspect of the Liturgy that is therefore feminine. The Liturgy bears the Word of God, the Liturgy brings forth the Body of the Word to be worshipped and given as Food. A better terminology might be that in the Novus Ordo rite of Mass the Liturgy has been effeminized. There is a famous passage in Caesar’s De bello Gallico where he explains why the Belgae tribe were such good soldiers. He attributes this to their lack of contact with the centers of culture like the cities. Caesar believed that such contact contributes ad effeminandos animos, to the effeminizing of their spirits.[4] But when one talks about the effeminization of the Liturgy one risks being misunderstood as devaluing what it means to be a woman, womanhood itself. Without adopting Caesar’s rather macho view of the effects of culture on soldiers, one certainly can speak of a devirilization of the soldier that saps his strength and resolve to do what a soldier has to do. It is not a put-down of the feminine. It rather describes the weakening of what it means to be a man.

This is the term, devirilization, that I want to use to describe what Cardinal Heenan saw that day in 1967 at the first celebration of the experimental Mass.[5] In its Novus Ordo form, what Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio: Summorum Pontificum somewhat cumbersomely, if understandably, calls the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite, the Liturgy has been devirilized. One must recall the meaning of the word, vir, in Latin. Both vir and homo mean “man”, but it is vir alone that has the connotation of the man-hero and is the word that is often used for “husband”. The Aeneid begins with the famous words: arma virumque cano. (“I sing of arms and the man-hero.”) What Cardinal Heenan presciently and correctly saw in 1967 was the virtual elimination of the virile nature of the Liturgy, the replacement of masculine objectivity, necessary for the public worship of the Church, with softness, sentimentality and personalization centered on the motherly person of the priest.

... On one of my many stays in Italy I noticed that many of the baby strollers were built such that the baby sat in his seat and faced his mother who was pushing the stroller. This seemed strange to me, since in the United States the baby faces the same way as the mother who is pushing the stroller. When I asked a friend about this she told me that too many Italian mothers want to keep constant eye contact with the baby and to be able to smile at the child, talk in baby talk, to make sure the bond is always there between mother and child. The classic mother-child relationship is heightened almost in a perverse way by this perceived need of the mother to constantly engage her child face to face lest contact with the outside word, with “the other” will damage the relationship.

Without pretending that the above analogy is exact or complete, I would assert that the radical innovation, never mandated by the Council or by any liturgical book, of celebrating Mass with the priest facing the people, has transformed the priest’s role at the Mass from the father who leads his people to offer Sacrifice to the Father, to the mother whose eye contact and liturgical patter- banter with the people and whose sometimes deliberately silly behavior, as if the people are infants, reduces his role as priest to that of the mother of an infant. This reduction of the congregation to infants who are forced to look at the mother-priest prevents them from seeing beyond him to God who is being worshipped in the presence of the cosmic sacrifice of Christ.

... Before turning to the important question of the continuity of the Novus Ordo rite with the traditional Roman rite from the viewpoint of the devirilization of the liturgy, I want to offer comments on two practical results of the devirilization of the liturgy and of the priest. The first is this: the music that the Novus Ordo has produced, both for Mass settings and songs to be sung at the liturgy, is at best functional, at worst sentimental junk that makes the old Protestant evangelical hymns sound like Bach chorales. When Mass is reduced to a self-referential assembly, then music becomes merely functional at best, at worst something to rouse the feelings of the people. This functionalism is a mark of the chilling, outdated and anti-liturgical stance of the liturgical establishment that still controls much of the liturgical life of the Church in the Roman dicasteries, in seminaries, in dioceses and therefore in parishes.[15]

Requiem Mass: "I saw clearly that this empty coffin was for me"

Jeffrey Tucker, "What the Requiem Mass Meant to Me" (NLM, June 21, 2013):
Catholicism is the only religion to die in," wrote Oscar Wilde in a private letter to a friend. And, sure enough, he did. His final words on this earth were from the Act of Contrition. He received the Holy Eucharist and passed from this earth.

But what did he mean with his statement? It was surely a reference to the Requiem Mass that he attended several times in his life. It goes without saying, really, but the ritual he knew was (and is) very different from the typical Catholic funeral of today. Yes, it was in Latin. It included the astonishingly beautiful prayer Dies Irae. The vestments were black. The visual and textual drama of the ritual were epic in scope.

Now this ritual is called the extraordinary form, itself brought back from a near-death experience. It's absolutely shocking to think that this nearly vanished from the earth from 1969 forward. History records that there was a generation of liturgists who somehow, incomprehensibly, thought that it would be better for this form of the Mass to disappear and for something else of their own making to take its place. That generation even turned against the Dies Irae and wrote this sequence clean out of the ritual books.

One can only shake one's head at the extent of folly. It is one thing to offer a vernacular and simplified alternative, but to attempt to suppress this Mass? Unthinkable.

In any case, it is not suppressed. It lives. The experiences of this world, taken in total, provide no greater and more profound reflection on the meaning of life and death that the old form of the Requiem Mass. Of this I'm convinced.

I attended one yesterday at the Sacred Music Colloquium. I left feeling like I had discovered new truths, seen new things, observed in my mind and heart a new expanse of time and eternity. It was the sort of experience that makes everything else in life seem trivial by comparison. If the opportunity ever comes your way, do not miss it.

This was the first time I had attended this rite when accompanied by a polyphonic setting of what otherwise would be the main chanted prayers of the Mass. The first notes of the intonation Requiem was chanted and then the polyphony began. I had a sudden chill in my spine that quickly extended up, down, and around, and flood my arms and legs too. And this feeling grew more intense of the course of the 90-minute liturgy. The setting was by Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599). To sing it all required fully three choirs, simply because there was so much music.

The overall effect was not dreadful -- contrary to the reputation -- and not terrifying. It is truth telling, and there is a difference. This Mass covers up nothing. This ritual does not avert its eyes from the mysteries of life and death and the beautiful hope offered by the graces of the sacrament. To attend this Mass is painful in the way that discovering truth always is, but it was also comforting.

It embodies the most pressing imposition of a reality that we all want to avoid: we are going to die. What happens then? And if it can all end in a flash, what was the purpose of this life? How should I structure my limited days on this earth in light of this? These were the sorts of questions the Mass raises.

Usually this Mass would be said for the death of a particular person. But this Requiem on this occasion was said for many deceased friends of those in attendance. There was a catafalque present. This is an empty coffin, draped in black.

The celebrant said it was there to represent those who have gone before. But as I walked by it and stood in the communion line, and the cloth touched the side of my leg, I saw clearly that this empty coffin was for me.

God willing, not today. God willing, I have many years left on this earth. But the time will come.

Feeling a bit weak following this revelation, I proceeded in the line and knelt on the hard marble floor and waited for the priest to come my way. I was facing west and the sun was setting and pouring through the stained glass to land on my face. The colored light felt hot on my face. Time stopped. Or seemed to. Just as in death.

I closed my eyes. Then I heard the words "Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi...." and I opened my eyes to see the priest in front of my and the paten under my chin ..."custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.”

The body of Christ - sacrificed for the salvation of the world both in history and on the altar in this space this very day - had now entered my own body. A taste of death, and victory over death. Food that is a foretaste of the life to come.

What is it that we want to leave behind in this world? When we think of the shape of this side of eternity after we are gone, what is it that we want to know will be here? Joy and prosperity for our children and their children, certainly, and for the flourishing of all humanity.

But at this moment, I'll I could think was: I want to know that this Mass will persist. It must be here. It must be available for those who wish it, for their own deaths. But most of all, it must be here for the living so that all people can have access to the truth that it tells.
[Hat tip to JM]

Monday, June 24, 2013

Who would your 7 Catholic men be?

John Wilson, "7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness: A conversation with Eric Metaxas" (Books & Culture). An interview. Good questions. Interesting answers.

Minor Orders and the Major Order of the Diaconate

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

Tridentine Community News (June 16, 2013):
Ordination to the priesthood is a great grace that transforms the fundamental character of a man. It is more than just graduation from an educational institution, and indeed more than receiving a professional certification such as passing a bar exam or obtaining a license to practice medicine. Ordination forever gives a man the ability to forgive sins in the name of Christ, and to change ordinary bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord.

If you have read articles or liturgical books pertaining to the Tridentine Mass, you may have come across the expression, “Minor Orders”. That term refers to the steps that a candidate for the priesthood in the Western tradition progresses through on his way to priestly ordination.

In his 1972 letter Ministéria Quædam, Pope Paul VI abolished the system of Minor Orders and created the simplified steps now followed by seminaries that primarily focus on the Ordinary Form:

Admission to Candidacy for Major Orders: This is generally provided after a seminarian has committed himself to the path towards priestly ordination.

Institution to the “ministries” of Acolyte and Lector: Essentially the same as those described below in the Tridentine section. Note that laymen not in seminary may also be instituted to these ministries.

Ordination to the (transitional) Diaconate: Generally one year before priestly ordination, a seminarian is ordained as a Deacon, the first of the Major Orders. A Deacon can assist the celebrant at Holy Mass in certain ways not permissible to others not ordained to that state. He can witness weddings and perform baptisms. He has the same privileges accorded to Permanent Deacons, men who do not progress to the ordained priesthood.

The 1988 establishment of the Fraternity of St. Peter and other subsequent traditional priestly groups prompted the Vatican to re-authorize the system of Minor Orders for seminaries primarily oriented towards the Tridentine Mass. The steps are as follows:

Tonsure: The name refers to the ceremonial clipping of hair from the head of a seminarian. It represents a formal commitment to a seminary community, and the entry to the clerical state. It is after Tonsure that a seminarian begins wearing the cassock instead of civilian clothing. Even though he has not yet been ordained as a Lector, he can read or chant the Epistle at Mass.

The orders of Lector, Porter, Exorcist, and Acolyte: These four individual orders are generally conferred together. These are what are officially referred to as the Minor Orders, though that term has come to represent the entire, more elaborate system we are currently describing. A Lector is authorized to read a broader spectrum of Lessons at Mass than one who has only received Tonsure. A Porter is the doorkeeper to the church (think Fr. Solanus Casey). An Exorcist is largely a ceremonial role, authorized to administer water to a priest during sacred functions. (Only a priest can exorcize demons.) An Acolyte is the formal name for the two principal altar servers at the Tridentine Mass. (Today’s lay acolytes are merely authorized substitutes for the originally-intended ordained Acolytes.)

Subdeacon: This stage represents entry into the clerical state. In the Western tradition, it commits the recipient to celibacy. A Subdeacon by definition may perform all of the functions of the Subdeacon at a Solemn High Mass, unlike so-called “straw” Subdeacons who have not been so ordained.

Deacon: Same as in the Ordinary Form system. Only a Deacon, Transitional or Permanent, may serve as Deacon in a Solemn High Mass.

Equivalence For Liturgical Purposes The main questions that the elimination of the Minor Orders present concern the admissibility of those progressing according to the Ordinary Form norms to certain liturgical roles in an Extraordinary Form Mass. Fortunately, the Ecclesia Dei Commission has issued rulings clarifying what is permissible:

One who has been admitted to Candidacy for Major Orders is deemed equivalent to one who has received Tonsure except with regards to serving as Subdeacon.

An instituted Acolyte may serve as Subdeacon at a Solemn High Mass, though with the same restrictions as one who has only received (Tridentine) Tonsure, described above. Because the Ordinary Form ministry of Acolyte may be conferred on a layman, and not only on one who has been admitted to Candidacy for Major Orders, a layman Acolyte functioning as Subdeacon may not wear a biretta or a maniple.

Only someone who has been ordained to the Subdiaconate or higher may handle the sacred vessels during a Solemn High Mass.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 06/17 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Gregory Barbarigo, Bishop & Confessor)
  • Tue. 06/18 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Ephrem of Syria, Deacon, Confessor, & Doctor)
[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 June 16, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

"Such clerics should limit their repertoire to the jokes that St. John told the Blessed Mother as her Son bled on the Cross."

Fr. George W. Rutler, via Jeffrey Tucker, "Fr. George Rutler on Liturgical Narcissism" New Liturgical Movement (June 22, 2013):
Any young man called to the priesthood must be like St. Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This is true of all Christians. Cupio dissolvi — “I wish to disappear.” Dioceses that understand this, especially in their liturgical life, excel in vocations, and those that do not, fail.

When I arrived at this parish, there were many liturgical abuses. Let it not be said that these were the predilections of young people, for there were practically none then. Rather, they had become the habit of older people who had simply shifted from perfunctorily expedited Masses and a few sentimental hymns to the fabricated folk Masses of the 1960’s. I put a stop to the habit of applauding the organist and choir. The musicians we have now would be embarrassed by such behavior. Pope Benedict XVI said: “Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.”

There is even a danger of that same narcissism when attempts at a “reform of the reform” become self-conscious spectacle. Evelyn Waugh said that Anthony Eden was not a gentleman because he dressed too well. We try to offer the best to God, but we must not be fussy about it like the nouveau riche. It once was said that dowagers in Boston did not buy hats, they had hats. C. S. Lewis’ view was that true worship should be like a good old shoe, so comfortable that you don't have to break it in: “The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.” That is a sensibility I have long admired in the Byzantine liturgies. While some speak of the High Mass of the Western Church as the “most beautiful thing this side of Heaven,” I know of nothing so formally transcendent and still so informally natural as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

The constant fidgeting for “theme liturgies” and experimentation is a sign of failure. Worse yet is the priest who solicits laughter like a ham actor in a dying vaudeville show. Such clerics should limit their repertoire to the jokes that St. John told the Blessed Mother as her Son bled on the Cross. One is struck by the way Pope Francis, in his personal simplicity and affability, is so enrapt in the solemnity of the Mass that he would not think of smiling through the Sacrifice of Calvary.

It may seem that reform of abuses is as futile as King Canute ordering the tide to roll back. Actually, that great king was showing his court that human pride has no authority over what does not belong to him. That is why he placed his own crown on a figure of Christ Crucified, and that is what true worship is all about.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Rome University to Offer Master’s Degree Program in Gregorian Chant

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

Tridentine Community News (June 9, 2013):
The Pontifical University of St. Anselmo in Rome has announced that it will be offering a two-year Master’s Degree program in Gregorian Chant and the use of the organ at Mass. St. Anselmo is a Benedictine University known, along with its affiliated parish church, as a center of liturgical scholarship.

This may very well be the first such Master’s program in modern times. The curriculum is being headed by Fr. Jordi Piqué from the Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat, Spain. He was quoted as saying that use of Gregorian Chant is increasing, presumably creating a need for such an academic offering. Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will be one of the guest lecturers. St. Anselmo is also offering an intensive summer course in Latin. Considering that St. Anselmo has not always been known for traditional leanings, these are welcome developments, indeed...yet another sign of the recovery of liturgical traditions in our age. The Way of Beauty The Way of Beauty is a recurring column authored by Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J. for CNA, the Catholic News Agency. It can be read on their web site, The byline of the column states that Sister “writes with a particular focus on a theology of beauty and the sacred arts.” She addresses a number of interesting topics and regularly articulates the roles that Latin and Sacred Tradition should play. A recent excerpt gives a sense of the content readers will find:
“With the renewed ecclesiology of Vatican II, it might have been wiser to make the necessary correction from within the tradition instead of admitting foreign elements that did not emerge organically from the tradition. It might have been wiser to adapt some chants to English and rediscover the chant in a new context. Many had hoped that, by singing in a popular style, active participation would elevate liturgical worship, thus making it a beautiful experience. We have learned otherwise. Such is the wisdom of hindsight.”
Columns address a spectrum of subjects, such as how the Church is actually the Patron of Science, in contrast to assertions frequently propagated by the secular media. A series was entitled, Rebuilding Catholic Culture, with individual columns subtitled Church Architecture and Sacred Images. Another recent column, How the Church Built Western Sacred Music, gave a concise history of what the Church believes is the proper music for the Sacred Liturgy, and how evolution of Catholic music has bifurcated in recent decades into good and bad artistic threads.

Sister lets readers know about some fascinating initiatives, such as the National Catholic Youth Choir Summer Camp at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota – an intensive exposure for youth to the Church’s authentic repertoire, somewhat analogous to Michigan’s Interlochen Summer Arts Camp.

Sister Roccasalvo has an excellent skill for communicating the utter logic and sensibility of the Church’s teaching. Ecclesiastical or secular, the best sales pitches are the ones that appeal to common sense: As long as we can explain our Faith clearly and compellingly to others, converts will be easier to gain. In that sense, her column series is instructive both for its approach and argumentation style as well as for its substance.

Local Latin Liturgical History: Singing the Propers is Not a New Thing

Readers who frequent the Tridentine Mass know that chanting the Propers of the Mass (Introit, Offertory, and Communion Antiphon) is standard practice in a High Mass. With the recent publication of books such as Simple English Propers and The Vatican II Hymnal, there has been a surge in popularity in singing the Propers in the Ordinary Form as well, whether in Latin or in English.

Or should we say a resurgence: The Recordo Obscura blog has posted a recording of the 1971 LP, Midnight Mass at Old St. Mary’s, featuring Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit de Noel, the choir being led by then-music director, now-Father, Eduard Perrone. This 41 year old recording of an Ordinary Form Latin Mass includes...chanted Propers.

Indeed, Detroit’s Old St. Mary’s for many years even chanted the Gregorian Gradual in place of the more commonly-heard Responsorial Psalm, a permissible but rarely heard option in the post-Vatican II Mass. Decades before it became popular, one of our longstanding local homes of [Ordinary Form] Latin liturgy was doing what was...proper.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 06/10 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Margaret of Scotland, Widow)
  • Tue. 06/11 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Barnabas, Apostle)
[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 June 9, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Catholic Answers' misadvised attack on 'Radical Traditionalism'

Peter Crenshaw, "Open Season on ‘Radical Traditionalism’" (The Remnant, June 10, 2013) offers a detailed account and critique of the attack by Patrick Coffin and Tim Staples on a full two hour radio show on May 31 ran by “Catholic Answers Live.” According to Crenshaw's account (as well as Michael Matt's below), the whole thing was a tapestry of misinformation unworthy of Karl Keating's worthy apostolate, though I doubt mainstream listeners would have had the wherewithal to make that judgment:

Update: Christopher A. Ferrara, "A Catholic Answer to Catholic Answers" (The Remnant, July 24, 2013).

Malcolm Muggeridge and Vatican II

Referring to the upheaval in the Church 1966, orchestrated by the 'Spirit of Vatican II', the late, great Malcolm Muggeridge, under the guise of a future historian looking back, wrote the following, some 17 years before he would be received into the Church:

“My historian’s astonishment would be all the greater that the Roman Catholic Church itself, having witnessed the ruinous consequences to its Protestant rivals of compounding with contemporary trends, should now seem set upon following a like course. Just when the Reformation appears to be fizzling out, another, it seems, is incubating in Rome. Luther escapes from John Osborne’s hands into – of all places – the Vatican. The Church’s profound pessimism about human life, miraculously preserved through the long false dawn of science, is about to be shed at the precise historical moment that it is most relevant and most urgently needed to save men’s reason, if not their souls”.

From the essay, "Backward Christian Soldiers," by Malcolm Muggeridge, 1966 via RemnantOnline.

Cardinal Dolan to Muslims: don't lose your faith!

On a topic of recent discussion:

Video: Cardinal Dolan visits Staten Island Albanian Islamic Cultural Center (via Rorate Caeli, June 21, 2013).

Diocesan Seminarian Ordained in the Old Rite -- Mission to Muslims -- Sacra Liturgia Event

June 17, 2013 (Source):
(Toulon) Last Tuesday Bishop Dominique Rey, the Bishop of Frejus-Toulon, consecrated a seminarian of the diocese in the old rite as deacon. The remarkable thing is that it does not concern the members of Ecclesia Dei community, but a diocesan seminarian. The Bishop of Frejus-Toulon treats the two forms of the Roman Rite, as Pope Benedict XVI had recognized, as equals.

The diaconate was held in the traditional Benedictine Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault where the new deacon was trained liturgically under the direction of Dom Jean Pateau....

In 2011, Bishop Rey caused a stir as he consecrated one of his deacons to the priesthood in the Old Rite. The Instruction, Universae Ecclesiae on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, states that ordinations in the ordinary form of the Roman Rite should be made. Only the Ecclesia Dei communities and other communities with explicit permission to celebrate the traditional rite are exempt. However, Rome recognized the example of the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon immediately with an indult was granted without further notice.

Bishop Rey is the initiator of the International Liturgical Conference, Sacra Liturgia, which will be held from the 25th to 28th of June in Rome. In the diocese there are also the Missionaries of Divine Mercy of Father Fabrice Loiseau, an Old Ritual Community of Diocesan Right, which was canonically erected in the diocese of Frejus-Toulon in 2005 and is under the authority of Bishop Rey. The triple apostolate of the community is: promoting the worship of the Divine Mercy of St. Faustina Kowalska, Eucharistic adoration and the evangelization of Muslims. The latter has shown itself as an apostolate community at the forefront of new Catholic communities that respond to the specific challenges of their time.

Lutheran Church: "Homosexuality is Part of Creation"

From Eponymous Flower (June 17, 2013): "[Darmstadt] The Synod of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau (EKHN) has largely assimilated the blessing of homosexual couples with the traditional marriage of a man and woman. As the EKHN announced on Saturday, the Synod decided to upgrade the blessing of same-sex partnerships.... "Today, it is assumed that the same-sex orientation belongs to the natural conditions of life. Homosexuality can be seen as part of creation."

Ignorace & decline of Faith

Cardinal Burke reportedly has praised the old Catechism of St. Pius X. Fr. -- stating that "Ignorance of Christian doctrine is [the] main cause of the decline of Faith" -- comments:
I must agree. Back in the day, Catechisms were designed to help you understand and also memorize things. Somewhere along the line, educators started to claim that kids shouldn’t memorize. What’s with that? For dumb!

Not knowing the Faith well has social implications.
From the blog, Eponymous Flower, the following:
Cardinal Burke: Catechism of Pius X is Also Today a Sure and Indispensible Reference Point

“St. Pius X saw with clarity how religious ignorance not only leads individual lives, but also to the decay of society and a lack of balanced thinking in the most serious problems,” said Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura at event surrounding the Catechism of St. Pius X 100 years after its publication, by the Kulturkreis of John Henry Newman on the 24th of May. It was organized in Seregno.

In his “extraordinary and brilliant lectio” says Catholic writer Cristina Siccardi, Cardinal Burke maintains of Saint Pius X (1835-1914) that “ignorance of Christian doctrine is recognized as the main cause of the decline of faith and therefore sound catechesis is of paramount importance for the restoration of faith. It is not difficult to see how current the observations and conclusions of St. Pius X are. They are really recognizable in the motives that has led Pope Benedict XVI. to proclaim the year of the faith."
Fr. Z. -- "Yes, Yes, we have now the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That doesn’t mean that older catechisms are no longer useful."

A significant difference I've noticed is that pre-Conciliar writings in general are not nearly so prolix as post-Conciliar, and the same goes for catechisms. Furthermore, the earlier once -- perhaps for related reasons -- strike me as being much clearer. I've read through the new CCC. Parts, it seemed to me, were beautiful; but the whole 'felt' more like theological reflections on this or that topic than a crisply-written catechesis.

Your thoughts?

Amusing: Are priests allowed to carry handguns?

Fr. Z. offers a discussion that may give some people a wedgie.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Voris: nice cultural survey from 60s to present

Basically, the coalescence of (1) the liberal "social justice" movement within the Church with (2) the advent of heavy-handed liberal government social programs with the Johnson administration's "Great Society" agenda, and (3) the counter-cultural "sexual revolution" beginning in the '60s. This lead to the marginalization of the "pro-life" movement within the Church, despite official statements, says Voris, because the Church has been converted by the liberal culture. Evidence? Compare the annual collection for the Campaign for Human Development with the absence of any collection for the pro-life cause, which could do wonders to support crisis pregnancy centers, etc. Have a look and listen HERE >>

Catholic Answers' misadvised attack on 'Radical Traditionalism'

Peter Crenshaw, "Open Season on ‘Radical Traditionalism’" (The Remnant, June 10, 2013): Using a term coined by the anti-Catholic Southern Poverty Law Center, why do Catholic Answers radio personalities excoriate their fellow Catholics and become water carriers for the Left?

The attack was on a two-hour radio show on May 31st featuring Patrick Coffin and Tim Staples. From Crenshaw's account, the whole thing was a tapestry of misinformation, though I doubt most listeners would have had the wherewithal to judge that.

Here in dust and dirt ... lilies of His love ...

“Thus in the turmoil of life without, and black despair within, it is always possible to turn aside and wait on God. Just as at the center of a hurricane there is stillness, and above the clouds a clear sky, so it is possible to make a little clearing in the jungle of our human will for a rendezvous with God. . . . Once, in Times Square, I was glancing disconsolately but also avidly at the rows and rows of paperbacks, each with some lewd or sadistic picture for its cover, and noticed that by some strange accident my book on Mother Teresa, Something Beautiful For God, had got on to these sad shelves. Wondering how it could have happened, Herbert’s beautiful lines came into my mind:

And here in dust and dirt, O here
The lilies of His love appear.”

Malcolm Muggeridge, Confessions of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim (San Francisco, 1988), pages 22-23. [SOURCE]

[Hat tip to JM]

P.S. Of course, as you may remember, it was with the discovery of Mother Theresa that the erstwhile cynical atheist and admirer of the Soviet Marxist experiment, Malcolm Muggeridge, began his long and circuitous pilgrimage to Rome and conversion.

Update: Malcolm Muggeridge and Vatican II

From suspicion to rehabilitation: a post-V2 pattern?

"The war between the Liberation Theology movement and Rome is over" (Vatican Insider, La, June 22, 2013) - The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, pays tribute to the Liberation Theology movement honouring his long friendship with Peruvian theologian Gutiérrez

Our undercover correspondent on retainer in a northeastern seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets (pace Garrison Keillor) writes:
Fr. Joseph Ratzinger was held suspect by the holy office, then rehabilitated, to finally become Pope.

I believe a similar path was tread by Paul VI.

Likewise DeLubac, and Hans von B. Not all the way to a papl throne, but from suspicion to glory.

Their once "progressive" doctrines are now "mainstream," even "conservative."

And here, Liberation Theology, thought highly problematic, is now embraced in alternative form with a Latino Pope who supposedly found it problematic. See?

Honestly, to make sense of it all you need a degree in theology... and then you truly realize there is no way to make sense of it all!
Come on, my friend. Can it be all that bleak? Gimme the "V" sign during the Right of Peace, don't let go of your balloon, and all will be well.

[Hat tip to JM]

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Yes & No on Gay Marriage"

While we're visiting Rod Dreher, here's another provocative post by the ex-Catholic convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. He writes:
Elizabeth Scalia explains exactly how I, as an Orthodox Christian, think and feel about same-sex marriage: against it, but under no obligation as a result of my convictions to spite gay couples we otherwise like. Scalia’s post is in response to a conservative Catholic who wrote her demanding that she prove her orthodox Catholic bona fides by censuring a friend of hers who announced he was marrying another man. She refused to do that — she likes him and wants him to be happy — but also refused to offer him congratulations. She explains her reasoning in that post.

What a strange culture we live in, in which people are expected to approve of everything those they love believe in and do, or be guilty of betraying that love. I have friends and family whose core beliefs on politics, sexuality, religion, etc., are not the same as my own, and it would not occur to me in the slightest to love them any less because of it. I hope it would not occur to them to love me any less because they don’t agree with me. People are somehow more than the sum of their beliefs and actions.

Growing up in the Deep South is good training for developing the kind of conscience that can love sinners despite their sin. Every younger person, white and black, knows at least one old white person who holds immoral views on race, but who is also, in other ways, a kind, generous, and upstanding person. Are we to condemn them wholesale for their moral blindness on this one issue? How fair is that? More to the point, how truthful is that, given that all of us are morally blind in one way or another, and depend on the mercy of others, hoping that they will love us and accept us despite our sins, failings, and errors. Once you start pulling at that thread, and deciding who you are and aren’t going to love and live in relationship with because they’ve transgressed an important moral boundary, who knows where it will end? There are some moral boundaries that, when crossed, to require disfellowshipping. But I think we ought to be reluctant to draw those lines.

In past threads, people have said to me, “If one of your children is gay, will you cast them out?” Of course not! I would not love him or her any less. I could not imagine what would separate any of my children from the love of their father. At the same time, I couldn’t affirm them in what I believe to be untruth — nor should they expect me to. That would not be true love. As Scalia writes:
Part of the Catholic Church’s charge on earth is to train us in agape; it is meant to provide the foundation and—through its richly reasoned theology and liturgical and spiritual disciplines—the means by which we continually advance and grow toward a depth of wholeness that says, “I love you as God loves you, which means enough to set you free, in the hope that we will find each other again in that freedom.”

This is a great mystery, because to the world, that freedom is always supposed to mean an unimpeded “yes” to everything we want. In the divine economy, though, “yes” is the thing we discover once we have batted away the highly-burnished, distortive, self-reflecting idols we have picked up from society or created on our own, so that we may stand before something greater than we can ever imagine.
Okay, okay, so I get all that. But part of me still wonders if that's all that's demanded. Isn't part of loving others who dissent from the Faith and its moral demands, what is articulated by the demands of Spiritual Works of Mercy? Among these are listed the bracing demand of "instructing the ignorant," and the severe mercy of "admonishing the sinner." Where do these fit into this picture? Which reminds me of those who try to pit "love" against "justice"; but isn't "justice" itself an expression of "love"?

The Power of Not Praying

Rod Dreher, in a post by this title (The American Conservative, June 18, 2013):
A fallen-away Catholic named “Ellery” left an interesting comment this morning in the “Why They Left God” thread. I encourage you to read the whole thing. This was the most notable part of it, I think:
Years later, I have realized, especially after living in Israel and seeing Judaism in all its forms, that what is missing isn’t “liberal” or “conservative” but rather, a discipline of prayer. No one really taught me that, not my conservative, crazy 7th grade Catholic teacher who told us all the divorced & remarried parents of her students would go to hell for what they’d done, and showed us really horrible anti-abortion movies- nor the Jesuit church where God was sometimes referred to as “She” and Latin America was high on the list of things we talked about at Mass.
Marshall McLuhan — yes, the media theorist; he was a devout Catholic — said this:
I never came into the church as a person who was being taught Catholic doctrines. I came in on my knees. That is the only way in. When people start praying they need truths; that’s all. You don’t come into the Church through ideas and concepts, and you cannot leave by mere disagreement. It has to be a loss of faith, a loss of participation.

You can tell: when people leave the Church, they have quit praying. The active relating to the Church’s prayer and sacraments is not through ideas.
Me being me, I can’t be reminded of this often enough.
And me being me, I can't help being reminded of Francis A. Schaeffer's observation that the first step of apostasy among those who drift away from the Faith, is to stop giving thanks to God for His blessings.

[Hat tip to JM]

Austrian "Called to Disobedience" founder to be hosted by Fr. Bechard at Saints Simon and Jude in Metro Detroit

In what can be described only as a brazen gesture, the parish of Saints Simon and Jude, 32500 Palmer Rd, Westland, Michigan 48186, (734) 722-1343, is planning to host Fr. Helmut Schüller, founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, a dissident priests' group, on July 26, on church property. Schüller's "Call to Disobedience," signed by a majority of Austrian dissenting priests, has brought worldwide momentum to the group's initiatives.

As their publicity literature shows, the group is now on world tour, promoting a "new season of dialogue" and creative dissent. The parish priest of Saints Simon and Jude, where the group is being hosted locally in Metro Detroit, Rev. Gerard V. Bechard, is apparently personally facilitating the event, as his email and phone number are given as contact info.

To be "fair," I suppose one should acknowledge that these priests are all doing what is right in their own eyes in order to address what they view as the crisis in the Catholic Church, including the "shortage of priests" and "necessity of reforming church governance."

The Book of Judges also refers to a time "in which there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes" (Judges 17:6, 21:25). The context, however, suggests anarchy rather than remedy. Dissent holds the attraction of autonomy, but its fruit is rebellion and dissolution. If this group had its way, there would soon be no need for priests at all, since, despite all its talk of the Holy Spirit, it would soon see to it that the supernatural task of the Church in the world is completely abrogated.

The correspondent who brought this event to my attention wrote, simply: "Disgraceful! I thought nonsense like this was put to stop years ago! I hope Fr. Bechard has a change of heart about hosting this scandalous group."

Amen to that.

Contact: Fr. Gerry Bechard 734-722-1343

[Hat tip to B.C.]

Update:Update: "The Liberal Protestant Future of Catholic Dissent" (Musings, September 3, 2013).

Monday, June 17, 2013

God and gender

A concise resume by Taylor Marshall, "Why God is Father, not Mother" (Canterbury Tales, June 17, 2013).

New York Times reports white America Culture of Death

Sam Roberts, "Census Benchmark for White Americans: More Deaths Than Births" (New York Times, June 13, 2013):
Deaths exceeded births among non-Hispanic white Americans for the first time in at least a century, according to new census data, a benchmark that heralds profound demographic change.
Related: Demographic Winter (trailer)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

EF liturgical humor

My daughter is getting old enough to take an interest in following along in the Latin-English Missal of the Extraordinary Form (EF) liturgy. For years, she has heard us accompany the choir in singing the Ordinary parts of the Mass.

Those of you acquainted with the EF liturgy will know that the Mass is preceded, in the High Mass, by the Asperges Me, called the "Rite of Sprinkling" in the post-Vatican II Ordinary Form of the Mass.

The English translation of the Latin in the traditional form begins like this:
P. Thou shalt sprinkle me,
C. Lord, with hyssop and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. [from Ps. 50/51] Have mercy on me, O. God, according to thy great mercy.
The Latin form reads as follows:
P. Asperges me
C. Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor. Misere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Looking at the Latin form on the left page of the Missal, my daughter asked me an innocent question that made me both almost lose my composure and wonder whether Veggie Tales was such a good idea: "What does it mean," she asked, "when it says 'Asparagus me'?"

Don't you just love "teaching moments?" The hard part is trying to look serious.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

More cardinals and bishops cave to SS unions

Sandro Magister, "Vatican Diary / Six more votes for 'gay' unions" (www.chiesa, June 10, 2013) -- including Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the pontifical committee for Eucharistic congresses and formal master of papal ceremonies; Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the pontifical council for the family; Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, who afterward corrected himself; Colombian Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez, archbishop of Bogotà, this latter forced to make a rapid retraction before he received the cardinal's biretta in November of 2012; and, of course, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussells, and Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi.

As our correspondent on retainer comments from an eastern seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets: "I continue to be exasperated, to put it kindly, at the retreat to: 'Marriage, of course, must be maintained tobe between a man and a woman,' while the same voices bend over backwards to affirm the domestication of homosexuality."

Vatican "gay lobby" confirmations

The "Gay Lobby": confirmations all around
- Bergoglio ends Vatican omertà
- Fr. Oko: "The true challenge of the Pontiff is the heresy of homosexuality
" (Rorate Caeli, June 13, 2013)
Related (More unhelpful confusion):
Matthew Schmitz, "Archbishop of Canterbury: Gay Marriage Not a Faith Issue" (First Thoughts, June 3, 2013).
Related: Special report: Gay Vatican (ChurchMilitant.TV, June 17, 2013).

Special Report: Gay Clergy & The Catholic Media (ChurchMilitant.TV, June 18, 2013)
[Hat tip to JM]

Friday, June 14, 2013

Has Pope Francis been reading the Care Bears?

"Pope says everyone can do good, regardless of belief" (CNA/EWTN News, May 22, 2013):
Vatican City, May 22, 2013 / 04:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Every human person despite his or her beliefs can do good, and a sharing in good works is the prime place for encounter among those who disagree, Pope Francis said at his Mass today....

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone."

“Even the atheists. Everyone,” Pope Francis stressed.

He said that the saving blood of Christ “makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good.”
Well, I know there must be a proper hermeneutic out there somewhere for interpreting the words of the Holy Father. The immediate counterfactual that comes to mind is the depravity of the human heart stemming from Original Sin. The Prophet Isaaiah says, for example, that "all our righteous acts" -- acts performed naturally, apart from divine prevenient grace -- "are as filthy rags" (Is. 64:6), and the Prophet Jeremiah says: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9).

In any case, here's what our correspondent on retainer emailed me with the link:
"I read things like this, and I just wonder: (1) How is this theology any different from liberal Protestantism, and (2) why do popes seem keener nowadays on talking to the World than the Church?

Everyone has a call to holiness, even non-believers? Huh?! This to my mind makes no sense. It raises a whole series of questions. Anyway, If the Pope cannot carefully explain theology, who can?!

I simply am mystified on how Vatican leaders read the signs of the times.
Okay, here to the rescue come the hermeneutical theology buffs. Pope Francis, on their view, is only saying what has already been said by St. Paul, Pope Leo XIII, Vatican II in Gaudium et spes, Pope John Paul II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and Fr. Dwight Longenecker "takes it away" with his final explanation of what Pope Francis actually meant to say.

But it's not quite all as easy as that. For one thing, as one commentor on Fr. Longenecker's original post says, "[I am] concerned about the tone. It will be a long haul if 'conservatives' have to keep explaining him, as Fr.Longenecker's post does."

For another thing, however, the efforts to explain can get sloppy; for whatever they may have intended, Pope Francis, Pope John Paul, St. Paul, etc. don't actually say exactly the same thing in the quoted texts. For example, St. Paul says that God desires all to be saved (not that they are saved); that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all (not that all are partakers of the ransom); that the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men (not that all are saved).

John Paul says, however, that all people have become children of God and partakers in the divine nature and heirs to eternal life. This is something altogether different, regardless of what he may have intended by his words.

This sort of seeming carelessness and ambiguity of meaning, this constant need for clarification, for explanation, for hermeneutical rescuers, it seems to me, is a problem.

Your thoughts?

Update: Here are a list of the Pope's "hermeneutical rescuers":[Hat tip to J.M.]

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Good homily on the true meaning of joy

Dispelling the common misconception that joy, like love, are emotions, Michael "Jeremiah" Voris stresses that emotions are at the service of true joy and love, which are grounded in knowledge of truth (and our Lord Who is Truth itself).

Homeschooling growing seven times faster than public school enrollment

Breitbart, via Rorate Caeli, who adds: "And test scores of students educated at home by their parents, compared to government-schooled children, are much higher, while absurd fears of the children not being "socialized" are put to rest."

Pope on Traditional groups: "Pelagian current. It's like turning back 60 years! They count rosaries... Please, don't laugh."

A portion of the transcript from the Papal audience with the presiding board of the CLAR (the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women - Confederación Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Religiosos y Religiosas) on June 6, 2013, via Rorate Caeli (June 10, 2013):
I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council... One feels in 1940... An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: "Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries." Why don't they say, 'we pray for you, we ask...', but this thing of counting... And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through - not you, because you are not old - to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pope Francis: 'Gay lobby' exists inside Vatican

Daniel Burke (CNN, June 11, 2013) reports:
Pope Francis said a “gay lobby” exists inside the Vatican ... a surprising disclosure from a pope who has already delivered his share of stunners, and a resurrection of church conflicts that had bedeviled his predecessor's papacy.

“In the Curia,” Francis said, referring to Catholicism’s central bureaucracy, “there are holy people. But there is also a stream of corruption.”

“The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there,” Francis continued. “We need to see what we can do.”
The "Gay Lobby": confirmations all around
- Bergoglio ends Vatican omertà
- Fr. Oko: "The true challenge of the Pontiff is the heresy of homosexuality
" (Rorate Caeli, June 13, 2013)

Saturday, June 08, 2013

"A Bishop in Hell"

What you gotta love about Michael Voris is, to borrow a description from Fr. Z., "his usual non-committal, indifferent, ambiguous, vague, tepid, ho-hum style."

Silencing homosexuals who changed

For some time now, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH International) has been the target of those who wish to silence their successes in offering resolution and healing to sexual conflicts, including unwanted same sex attractions:
December 19, 2012 -- The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) announced today that it has accepted the role of lead defense counsel for Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing(JONAH) in a precedent-setting lawsuit. FCDF is a national public interest law firm that represents people whose freedom of conscience has come under attack. JONAH is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that offers assistance to men and women seeking to resolve their sexual conflicts,including unwanted same sex attractions.

JONAH has been unjustly sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) who claims that homosexuality is permanently fixed and that people cannot be helped in overcoming their unwanted same-sex attractions.

SPLC 's position is inconsistent with numerous scientific and medical opinions and studies, finding that sexual attraction is influenced by many factors, both environmental and biological. Even certain gay activist groups claim that sexual attractions can be fluid and change throughout people’s lives. SPLC's allegations also ignore the thousands of people who have already benefitted from programs,such as those offered by JONAH and others, many of whom are now living their life long dreams,including traditional marriage and children.

Charles LiMandri, the President and Chief Counsel of the FCDF, stated, “The SPLC lawsuit is ill-conceived and legally untenable for multiple reasons. It seeks to violate the First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion and association not only of JONAH and the other defendants, but also untold numbers of people in need that stand to benefit from their services." (emphasis added)