Saturday, November 30, 2013

What must I do to be saved?

A common Protestant 'take' on Catholicism is that it requires you to "earn" your salvation through "good works," thus rendering void the sacrifice of Christ.  A common Catholic 'take' on Protestantism is that it requires nothing of you but "faith alone," thus rendering inconsequential the life of discipleship.

I had to work through this issue for myself in becoming a Catholic 20 years ago, and I've been through it many times since.  There are some good books on the issue, including a very nice, insightful little book by James (Jimmy) Akin, entitled The Salvation Controversy.

But the question has surfaced again recently, in light of Hans Urs von Balthasar's proto-Universalism, Ralph Martin's incisive response to the issue in Will Many Be Saved? and Fr. Robert Barron's response to that.  Still more recently, there has been the flap over Catholic World Report's removal of Paul Deavel's review of Ralph Martin's book, and it's long-promised symposium, which (re-)published Deavel's review along with a number of responses to it.

Then, even more recently, there was this: Did I read that right? (New Sherwood, November 28, 2013):
At one point (par 165), Pope Francis writes:
“The centrality of the kerygma calls for stressing those elements which are most needed today: it has to express God’s saving love which precedes any moral and religious obligation on our part …”
In other words, if I understand the context, the pope is saying that the evangelizer is not to appeal to moral or religious obligations, such the duty of every man to worship the one true God and obey His laws, because those obligations don’t exist for him until he encounters the Gospel. Do I misunderstand?
In Lutheran circles, the issue is dealt with in terms of the relation of "Law" to "Gospel" (or "Grace"), and as you might expect, not an eyebrow would be lifted by a statement like that above.  On the other hand, in Lutheran worship services, one does not find the reading of the Decalogue preceding the Agnus Dei as one sometimes does in the Anglican liturgy.  But there is in the Lutheran Book of Worship the Confession that we are (still) "in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves," a confession that Catholics in a state of grace might find a trifle odd.

My question, then, is whether Catholics would indeed find the above statement of Pope Francis "astonishing," as did the above writer.  How do you think Catholics should understand such a statement.

[Hat tip to JM]

Friday, November 29, 2013

Roundup of all the reactions to Evangelii Gaudium: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Over at Against the Grain (November 29, 2013). The reactions are all over the place. Some are great. Others amusing. Still others, just pitiful. Have a look and see for yourself!

[Hat tip to C.B.]

The joy of liberals: seeing Pope Francis bash conservatives

Fr. Z is probably too hopeful in his prognosis about Pope Francis having "won liberal support for his decision not to reopen the question of women’s ordination," just as he is in his cheerful interpretation of the Pope's "strategy" of "dividing the 'c'atholic Left." Yet his 'reading' on the joy of liberals in hearing "Trads to the WALL!" is probably about right:
Liberals are so happy that the Pope seems to be bashing conservatives, that they are ready and willing to accept that women will never ever be ordained.

The “Joy of their Gospel” is to see conservatives get whacked. They are so overjoyed, as a matter of that, that they are willing to sacrifice their flagship.

Yes, you will find a few waayyyy out on the even leftier fringe of their fleet – you know, the Gray Panthers – for whom Francis denial of women’s ordination this is still a problem. But, for the most part, Francis hit their liberal sweet spot so perfectly that they are taking the bitter hit amidships.

“Trads to the WALL!” To them, it’s worth it.

Make no mistake. The Big Issue for liberals is women’s ordination. Francis, the fluffiest and most wonderfullest Pope since Peter has now taken the issue away from them. Read more >>
[Hat tip to C.B.]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Obama quietly moves to further silence and marginalize Catholic Church

Fr. Z has a poll posted at: "POLL: Obama closes the US Embassy to the Holy See" (November 27, 2013):
As you have probably heard, The First Gay President, who also brought you the “AFFORDABLE” Care Act’s HHS mandate, is going to close the embassy of these USA to the Holy See. I didn’t really care much about this story at first, but I thought about it a little more. And I read this which presents an interesting juxtaposition HERE:
The same week that Obama gives the imprimatur of legitimacy to the Islamic rogue regime of Iran and sanctions their nuclear weapons program, he closes the American embassy to the Vatican.
Moreover, many of the former ambassadors, including James Nicholson and Mary Ann Glendon, think that this is a bad move.

Nicholson said:
“It’s another manifestation of the antipathy of this administration both to Catholics and to the Vatican – and to Christians in the Middle East.”
Some say that this move is a “slap in the face”.
"Next up, I would expect to see Obama push to reduce the status of Vatican City at the UN."

"[T]he best reaction to the closing [was] given by Clinton’s ambassador to the Holy See, the last Catholic mayor of Boston, Democrat Ray Flynn:
“It’s not just those who bomb churches and kill Catholics in the Middle East who are our antagonists, but it’s also those who restrict our religious freedoms and want to close down our embassy to the Holy See,” Flynn told the National Catholic Reporter."
"First, we stab the Israelis and the Catholics in the back. Next, we make kissy-kissy face with the Iranians."

Good article on how Catholics can win or lose the same-sex battle

"Homosexual Marriage": How Catholics lost or may lose this battle, in ten steps" (Rorate Caeli, November 27, 2013): "In Italy, the change of the Catholic "mood" indicates that the redefinition of marriage to include counternatural unions may be a matter of time .... [I]n this fine article published in October, Mario Palmaro explains how Catholics in Italy may lose this battle (as Catholics in many other places have already lost it) if they follow the ten steps to the "homosexual marriage" precipice.
Homophobia as a category of the absurd.... [But the] Italian Parliament is about to approve a law that will prosecute, with specific sanctions, behaviour that is part of this new conceptual categorization.... [T]he effects of this law on homophobia are apocalyptic. In Italy, a strong reaction from the Catholic world i.e. the Church, the Conference of Bishops, ecclesial associations and the main Catholic newspapers, would have been completely normal. Instead – they are all silent. The only Catholic entities that have not been, are: ‘Alleanza Cattolica’ who having been fighting non-stop with a a clear and very lucid manifesto of opposition; the ‘Nuova Bussola’ on-line, with an intense and tenacious campaign; the weekly ‘Tempi’, by supporting the campaign against the law, plus there are other sites or organized groups which are combative but small.

How can this lapse in neglecting the truth be explained? I would suggest three causes:

a. The habit of compromise: for years now the Catholic world has become used to pursuing the lesser evil instead of the good and the true: a law on bad homophobia rather than a worse one.

b. The existence of a homosexual lobby in the Catholic world which paralyzes it on this and other battles.

c. Fear of clashing with the world and of losing a political battle.

When all is said and done, this “surrender” explains how homosexuality, judged as a harmful abnormality by the greater part of public opinion until not so long ago, has become not only licit conduct but worthy of special juridical protection .... (emphasis Rorate's)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lessons on the psychology of heresy from Pius VI's Auctorem Fidei

The papal Bull Auctorem Fidei was Pope Pius VI's Constitution against the Errors of the Synod of Pistoia (1786) in Italy. Those errors consisted of the Gallican and Jansenist acts and tendencies represented by the Synod, a tapestry of novelties introduced under the veil of ambiguity, distortion, and obfuscation. The former Bishop of Pistoia, Scipione de' Ricci, is said to have "embarked on confusing, destroying, and utterly overturning [sound Christian doctrine] by introducing troublesome novelties under the guise of a sham reform."

The document has been repeatedly cited by later Popes when called to combat doctrinal errors in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is mentioned in Indulgentiarum Doctrina, Quo Graviora, Commissum Divinitus, Mysterium Fidei and Pascendi Dominici Gregis.

The introductory part of this Bull (advisory: see Rules 7-9)makes for instructive reading because of the uncanny clarity with which Pius VI describes the psychology of the heretical mind and its methods (emphasis Mundabor's):
They [ our most holy predecessors] knew the capacity of innovators in the art of deception. In order not to shock the ears of Catholics, the innovators sought to hide the subtleties of their tortuous maneuvers by the use of seemingly innocuous words such as would allow them to insinuate error into souls in the most gentle manner. Once the truth had been compromised, they could, by means of slight changes or additions in phraseology, distort the confession of the faith that is necessary for our salvation, and lead the faithful by subtle errors to their eternal damnation. This manner of dissimulating and lying is vicious, regardless of the circumstances under which it is used. For very good reasons it can never be tolerated in a synod of which the principal glory consists above all in teaching the truth with clarity and excluding all danger of error. Moreover, if all this is sinful, it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it. It is a most reprehensible technique for the insinuation of doctrinal errors and one condemned long ago by our predecessor St. Celestine, who found it used in the writings of Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, and which he exposed in order to condemn it with the greatest possible severity. Once these texts were examined carefully, the impostor was exposed and confounded, for he expressed himself in a plethora of words, mixing true things with others that were obscure; mixing at times one with the other in such a way that he was also able to confess those things which were denied while at the same time possessing a basis for denying those very sentences which he confessed.
What methods does Pius use to expose the error?
In order to expose such snares, something which becomes necessary with a certain frequency in every century, no other method is required than the following: Whenever it becomes necessary to expose statements that disguise some suspected error or danger under the veil of ambiguity, one must denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged.
[Hat tip to S. Armaticus via JM]

Honeymoon over? Pro-abort feminists burn effigy of Pope in Argentina

"The Honeymoon is Over" (Rorate Caeli, November 26, 2013).

Advisory: disturbing and inappropriate images: "Quema del Papa" (Burning of the Pope).

Pope Francis writes, in Evangelii Gaudium:
Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual”.

Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The return of the King: the elements will be dissolved with fire, the earth will be burned up

This time of year, in anticipation of Advent, our lectionary readings focus on different ways in which the Lord comes to us, especially in the Second Coming. While many celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King today, in keeping with the post-Conciliar calendar (in the 1962 calendar, this is celebrated -- with a rather different meaning -- at the end of October), those at Masses following the 1962 calendar celebrated the last Sunday after Pentecost.

In both Masses, the readings have a similar focus. The Solemnity of Christ the King, as Fr. Z says, "brings to our attention the fact that the Lord is coming precisely as King and Judge not merely as friend or brother or favorite role-model." He continues:
Consider today’s feast in light of what we read in 2 Peter 3: 10-12:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire!”
Not exactly hugs and fluffy lambs for everyone.

Christ Jesus will judge us all, dear friends, and submit all things to the Father (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). Having excluded some from His presence, our King, Christ Jesus, will reign in majestic glory with the many who accepted His gifts and thereby merited eternal bliss.
The Gospel reading for the last Sunday after Pentecost in the 1962 calendar is Matthew 24:15-35, which hammers home a similar point:
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place; (he that readeth, let him understand:) then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains; and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house; and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child and that give suck, in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the Sabbath: for there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been found from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be: and unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved; but for the sake of the elect, those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo, here is Christ, or there; do not believe him; for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you beforehand. If therefore they shall say to you: Behold His is in the desert, go ye not out; Behold He is in the closets, believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even in the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And He shall send His angels with a trumpet and a loud voice, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. And from the fig tree learn a parable: when the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh at the doors. Amen I say to you that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.
For a YouTube homily by Fr. Perrone on the readings of the day (which also include Colossians 1: 9-14), have a look at Diane Korzeniewski's post, "Video Homily: Fr. Perrone on the Last Four Things, Dies Irae (Last Sunday after Pentecost, 1962 Missal)" (Te Deum Laudamus, November 24, 2013):

[Hat tip to D.M.K.]

Pope Francis affirms Trent, invokes Benedict XVI's "hermeneutic of reform in continuity"

For the record, as Rorate Caeli reports (November 23, 2013):
Today the Vatican website published the Latin letter addressed by Pope Francis to Cardinal Brandmuller on the celebrations for the 450th anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent. The letter affirms the continued importance of the doctrine of Council of Trent. While some might dismiss this as mere routine, this letter has the significance of being the very first occasion (to our knowledge) that Francis has directly and explicitly invoked, when touching upon the interpretation of doctrine, the authority of Benedict XVI's epoch-dividing December 22, 2005 address on the "'hermeneutic of reform', of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church." (Sometimes shortened to 'hermeneutic of reform in continuity' and, with less precision, to 'hermeneutic of continuity'.)

For the record: Randy Engel's open letter to Pope Francis on the Gay Lobby

Randy, Engel, "An open letter to Pope Francis: on a Papal Commission of Inquiry into Homosexuality, Pederasty, and La Lobby Gay in The Catholic Church" (Renew Amaerica, November 10, 2013). There are lessons that must be learned from the sex scandals that rocked the Church since the turn of the millenium. Nobody likes mucking around in these sewers, but there's no arguing they need to be flushed out.

[Hat tip to S. Armaticus]

Active Participation According to the Mind of the Church - Part 1 of 2

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

Tridentine Community News (November 24, 2013):
A reader suggested that we revisit a topic which never seems to go away: The widespread misunderstanding of Participátio Actuósa, Active Participation in the Sacred Liturgy. In Latin, the word Actuósa means an interior form of activity, as distinguished from the exterior form of the adjective, Actíva. As a result, especially in English-speaking lands where there is only the one adjective, active, a misunderstanding has arisen that restricts the interpretation of participation to merely vocally and to some degree physically taking part in the proceedings of the Mass.

The starting point for discussion is recognizing that the celebrant offers the Mass to God, not to the congregation. One of the many advantages of celebrating Holy Mass ad oriéntem, facing the same direction as the people, is that it makes clear Whom the priest is addressing. The priest says much of the Tridentine Mass quietly, because he is not speaking to the congregation; he is praying to God. This is one reason why the choir chants the Propers while the priest continues on with the Mass; the choir at that point serves the congregation in a different capacity than the priest, by making the Antiphons of the Mass take life in song.

The role of the faithful is to join their worship with the priest’s. In the Extraordinary Form, this can indeed take the part of vocally responding at the appropriate points in the Mass. For example, the faithful are encouraged to sing the responses in a High Mass. It is permissible, though not required, for the faithful to make the responses at a Low Mass, though in most locales the custom is for only the servers to respond to the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar at the beginning of Mass. The definitive reference document as to forms of vocal participation in the Extraordinary Form is 1958’s De Música Sacra, easily found on-line via Google.

Active Participation in a liturgical context is more concerned with mental and spiritual engagement with the Mass than with outward action. Pope St. Pius X encouraged the faithful to “pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the name of Christ and which Christ says by him,” and to “associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words”. Not in opposition, but as an alternative aid to prayer, Pope Pius XII in the 1947 encyclical Mediátor Dei, and Pope Leo XIII in the 1883 document Suprémi Apostolátus Offício and in an 1886 clarification both supported praying the Rosary or other devotions during Mass. Consider this quote from Mediátor Dei:
“...[the faithful] can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them.”
A person actively, but robotically and perhaps distractedly, uttering the responses during Mass is arguably less engaged with the liturgy than someone prayerfully and quietly following along a Mass, with or without a missal. An analogy might be that students intensely studying in a library in preparation for exams are less actively engaged in an exterior sense than those involved in a lab session in a science class, yet the former may very well be more motivated and more focused in the learning process.

This correct understanding of Active Participation explains and offers justification for the fully silent Low Mass, where the congregation offers no audible responses whatsoever. Many traditionally-minded Catholics find great spiritual sustenance in the silent Low Mass, as it provides a distraction-free environment in which to pray. At the same time, Catholics cannot pretend that other teachings like De Música Sacra do not exist. Organic development of the Sacred Liturgy has supported the development of the Dialogue Mass as an option. We should also recognize that a totally silent Mass might be off-putting to a Catholic new to the Extraordinary Form. If we are to be evangelists for Sacred Tradition, we must make it accessible to Catholics who are seeking something more to their spiritual sensibilities but still see merit in vocal participation.

St. Josaphat Sunday Masses Moved to St. Joseph Church

St. Josaphat Church has been forced to close temporarily because of safety concerns raised by the wind storm damage to the central steeple. Because repairing the steeple is too costly for the parish to afford, the steeple unfortunately will have to be removed.

The Sunday 9:30 AM Tridentine Masses have been relocated to St. Joseph Church for the indefinite future. The Monday and First Friday Tridentine Masses have not (yet) been moved to St. Joseph and are therefore on hiatus. More information about the Mass schedule will be posted as decisions are made.

Michigan Catholic Ads to Commence

Starting with the November 29 issue, there will be recurring display ads in the Michigan Catholic newspaper listing the special Masses in the Extraordinary Form which will be held in metro Detroit and Windsor over the upcoming weeks.

There is a continual challenge in getting the word out about our local Masses. We need to reach many more people than just those who read this column and subscribe to our weekly e-mail broadcast. We are taking a cue from the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, which runs similar ads in many Catholic newspapers in England. That effort is in no small part responsible for the thriving Tridentine Mass scene in the U.K.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/25 7:30 AM: High Mass at Assumption Grotto (St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin & Martyr)
  • Mon. 11/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto (St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin & Martyr)
  • Tue. 11/26 7:30 AM: High Mass at Assumption Grotto (St. Sylvester, Abbot)
  • Tue. 11/26 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Sylvester, Abbot)
  • Tue. 11/26 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto (St. Sylvester, Abbot)
  • Wed. 11/27 7:30 AM High Mass at Assumption Grotto (Feria)
  • Wed. 11/27 7:00 PM Low Mass at Assumption Grotto (Feria)
  • Thur.11/28 7:30 AM High Mass at Assumption Grotto (Feria)
  • Fri. 11/29 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Ss. Cyril & Methodius, Sterling Heights (St. Saturninus, Martyr) – Young adults age 18-35 are invited to the YOLO Young Adults dance after Mass
  • Fri. 11/29 7:30 AM: High Mass at Assumption Grotto (St. Saturninus, Martyr)
  • Fri. 11/29 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto (St. Saturninus, Martyr)
  • Sat. 11/30 7:30 AM: High Mass at Assumption Grotto (St. Andrew)
  • 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.
  • Sun. 12/01 9:30AM: High Mass at Assumption Grotto (First Sunday 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 November 24, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, November 23, 2013

CWR's long-promised symposium on Salvation & Eternal Destiny

The underground correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, recently called me in a fit over the "long-promised symposium" responding to the controversy over at Catholic World Report -- the controversy over Mark Brumley's pulling Paul Deavel's review of Ralph Martin's book, Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization (See "CWR removes Deavel's review of Ralph Martin's book," Musings, April 5, 2013, and Brumley's acknowledgement that he pulled Deavel's review HERE).

In fact, although I said that Guy Noir pitched "a fit," it might be more accurate to use the words of Fr. Z and say that he had a spittle-flecked nutty. He said to me:
"So, what happens? In answer to David Paul Deavel's piece, "Vatican II and the 'Bad News' of the Gospel" (CWR, November 21, 2003), they trot out these 'big guns'. Big Guns? Get a load of this! Here's their list of heavy artillery:"Big guns? Did I say 'big guns'? Hey, kid, are you talkin' to me? Are you talkin to ME?!

"Maybe it is just me, but most of this stuff would embarrass any flippin' Evangelical theologian worth his salt. So whazzup wit' these Papists? As for Brumley's screed, (from what I know I like him, and I love Ignatius Press for their books, but) really? His defense is weak to the point of being disingenuous. 'Don't put words in my mouth: I didn't say I want to slap you, I said, you make me feel like slapping you!' Are you talkin' to ME?!

"The take away here for me is the emphasis at VII wasn't on saying what Scripture says; it was on saying what the drafters thought Scripture should say. And as we all want to believe, No one goes to Hell unless it is the ultimate and unavoidable last resort for Hitler- and Stalin-esque cases. And Karl Rove. So we see: It is not a wonder God saves me, but rather it is a scandal anyone is damned. Pffffffft! Per Henri DeLubac and Ron Bluth, All Dogs Go to Heaven. Dare We Hope... All Are Saved? God Is A Woman? I'm OK, You're OK? We Need Genderless Cardinals? I don't know, but none of that inspires much hope. Pfffffffft!"
Like I said, a downright spittle-flecked nutty.

[Hat tip to JM]

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Michael Matt against "piling on" Pope Francis

Pope Francis and The three Amigos - Hilarious analogy.

A Lutheran convert asks: "What has happened to the Catholic Mass?"

One of the animating principles behind the changes in the New Mass masterminded by Msgr. Bugnini in his Concilium and promulgated by Pope Paul VI, was the laudible motive of making Catholic liturgy more accessible to Protestants. As a result, language portraying the Mass as propitiatory sacrifice was largely displaced by language suggestive of Mass as a "communal meal" of the gathered congregation. Next time you think about the goals of the New Evangelization and Ecumenical outreach to our Protestant "separated brethren," however, remember this article. Something to think about

Why Does This Lutheran Service Look More Catholic Than Our Novus Ordo Mass?

Nate Metzger, "What Has Happened to the Catholic Mass? A Letter from a Recent Lutheran Convert" (Remnant Online, November 5, 2013):
... I'm a recent convert to Catholicism from 'confessional' (read: traditionalist) Lutheranism, and it's been disillusioning being on this side of the Tiber. Being raised confessional Lutheran, I of course know my Lutheran catechism very well (I could probably recite most of it by memory even now), and for that reason, I find the Paul VI Rite bizarre. In the New Mass, there's nothing particularly Catholic-specific about the content of the orations. If anything, it seems rather 'neutral' and 'happy' in tone, in that not only is it purged of Catholic-specific dogma, but references to sin, death, hell, Satan's works, and the warring angels, have been omitted.

By comparison, my old Lutheran Mass's orations were chalk full of allusions to this 'hard' stuff.

Moreover, some of the words in the new Mass's Canon—including the 'Blessed are you Lord' prayer, strike my former Lutheran ears as doctrinally suspect. My Lutheran friends find that prayer especially weird, and they argue that it cheapens the Real Presence. I have a hard time disagreeing. At the very least, no confessional Lutheran pastor would ever say such a prayer before the consecration in a Lutheran Mass. No. Way.

Compare this with the Traditional Latin Mass—the Mass that Luther objected to and which was the foil for my own childhood catechesis. Most prayers in this older Mass contain doctrines and ideas that are highly offensive to my former Lutheran ears—propitiatory sacrifice, the merits of the saints, purgation, etc. All over the place in the changing orations of this Mass, you find ideas and doctrines that make me think, "Yeah, there's no way I could pray this as a Lutheran. Way too Catholic." I hardly ever think that when I read/hear the orations of the new mass.

Add to this the fact that the Old Mass has that great Eucharistic Prayer in the Canon ("Accept, O Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless host...), which is totally offensive to Lutherans. That prayer, of course, was axed from the New Mass.

Bonkers, from my perspective. I just don't get it. So there's a weird irony for this former confessional Lutheran.

"In 20 years, I've buried 120 priests and ordained only one"

Monseigneur Yves Patenôtre, bishop of Saint-Claude since 1994, and archbishop of Sens-Auxerre (and Prelate of Mission de France) since 2004 -- says this in an article on a talk he had with one of the faithful who complained of giving to the Church's tithing campaign when he had not had a priest available for important moments of his life (Rorate Caeli, November 21, 2013).

Think about it. Pray about it.

Leading traditional Catholic writers of the 20th Century

  • Amerio, Romano (1905-1997) Italian
  • André, Fr. Michel (1915-2000) French
  • Barbara, Fr. Noël (1910-2002) French
  • Bonneterre, Fr. Didier (1954-2010) French
  • Bourmaud, Fr. Dominic (? )
  • Caillon, Canon Pierre (1916-2011) Belgian
  • Calmel, Fr. Roger Thomas, OP (1914-1975) French
  • Castellani, Fr. Leonardo (1899-1981) Argentinian
  • Charlier, Andre (1895-1971) and Henri (1883-1975) French
  • Clement, Marcel (d. 2005) French
  • Correa de Oliveira, Plinio (1908-1995) Brazilian
  • Coache, Fr. Louis (1920-1994) French
  • Corte, Marcel de (1905-1994) Belgian
  • Crane, Fr. Paul, S.J. (1910-1997) English
  • D'Ors, Eugenio (1881-1954) Spanish
  • Daujat, Jean (1906-1998) French
  • Davies, Michael (1936-2004) English
  • Ducaud-Bourget, Fr. François (1897-1984) French
  • Dulac, Fr. Raymond (1903-1987) French
  • Elías de Tejada, Francisco (1917-1978) Spanish
  • Fraser, Hamish (1913-1986) Scottish
  • Gambra, Rafael (1920-2004) Spanish
  • Georges de Nantes, Abbe (1924-2010) French
  • Gherardini, Canon Brunero (1925- ) Italian
  • Gomez Davila, Nicolas (1913-1994) Colombian
  • Guérard des Lauriers, Michel Louis, O.P. (1898-1988)
  • Hardon, Fr. John, S.J. (1914-2000) American
  • Hildebrand, Dietrich von (1889-1977) Austrian
  • Houghton, Fr. Bryan (1911-1992) English
  • Jaki, Fr. Stanley, OSB (1924-2009) Hungarian
  • Kentenich, Fr. Joseph (1885-1968) German
  • Kuehnelt Leddihn, Erik von (1909-1999) Austrian
  • Lefebvre, Archbishop Marcel (1905-1991) French
  • Madiran, Jean (1920-2013) French
  • Maeztu, Ramiro de (1875-1936) Spanish
  • Marrero, Vicente (1922-2000) Spanish.
  • Massis, Henri (1886-1970) French
  • Mattei, Roberto de (1948- ) Italian
  • Mosebach, Martin (1951- ) German
  • Orlandis, Fr. Ramón, SJ (1873-1958) Spanish
  • Ottaviani, Alfredo Cardinal (1890-1979) Italian
  • Ousset, Jean (1914-1994) French
  • Quenette, Luce (1904-1977) French
  • Radaelli, Enrico (1944- ) Italian
  • Saint-Pierre, Michel de (1916-1987) French
  • Salleron, Louis (1905-1989) French
  • Sinke Guimaraes, Atila (1946- ) Brazilian
  • Thibon, Gustave (1903-2001) French
  • Vallet de Goytisolo, Juan (1917-2011) Spanish
  • Vazquez de Mella, Juan (1861-1928) Spanish
  • Vidal, Francisco Canals (1922-2009) Spanish
[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

Good advice on preaching

Regis Martin, "Advice for Preachers on Sin and Satan" (Crisis, November 18, 2013):
I once knew a pastor whose homilies were so awful, so bone crushingly boring, that I’d swear he composed them in the time it took us to sit down after he’d finished reading the Gospel. In other words, three seconds flat.... Read more >>
Richard L. Russell, "On Pulling Punches from the Pulpit" (Crisis, November 6, 2013):
I am getting a sinking feeling that in this age of ideological political partisanship, bishops and priests are succumbing to excessive self-censorship and are failing to educate their parishioners on the fundamental tenets of the faith, and how politics can be informed by that faith. As Pope Francis noted in a daily homily, “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.” Far too many bishops, priests, and deacons seem to shy away from homilies about how Catholicism can inform public policy debates.... Read more >>
[Hat tip to Dr. Janet Smith]

Sermon: why mercy, love, and compassion require God's justice and judgment

New Catholic, "A Sermon for the Last Sunday of the Liturgical Year: Punishment of the wicked worse than anything Dante ever imagined"(Rorate Caeli, November 19, 2013).  Fr. Richard G. Cipolla, DPhil, preaching on the Holy Gospel in the Last Sunday After Pentecost and First Sunday in Advent, about the return of the Son of Man as "lightning comes a forth from the east and shines even to the west ... with a trumpet sound," gathering "His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other."  Excerpt:
When one teaches the Inferno, one has a choice: to teach it as one of the greatest literary work of the Western canon and to comment on it as if one were commenting on an insect preserved in aspic, talking only about the beauty of the poetry, the sweep of history, the relationship to Classical literature, etc, etc. Or, while teaching all of the above, one points out Dante’s deep Catholic understanding of the essence of things: the natural law that is given by God, the presence and meaning of the Catholic Church in everyday life and in history, the terrible reality of sin and its consequences, the awe-ful justice of God, but also the harrowing of Hell and the reality of redemption in Jesus Christ and the mercy of purgatory and joy of heaven: all this, all this, but yet and also the reality of the horror of Hell that is the place forever of those who have rejected in an absolute way the offer of the mercy of God in the redemption made real by the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Divine Comedy, the journey to God, is the essence of the drama of what it means to be a man, a human being. It is not the base existential allure of Waiting for Godot. It is not the insane but plausible Superman of Nietzsche. It is not the debased sentimentality of contemporary belief that all is permissible as long as it hurts no one else. It is not the Catholicism that is reduced to the mawkish strains of “Let there be peace on earth” and “Eagles’ wings” against which the gates of Hell are more than a match.
We have heard so much in the past year about the mercy of God, as if the mercy of God does not depend on the justice of God. Without justice there is no mercy. The mission of the Church is not primarily to proclaim the mercy of God. The mission of the Church is to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The mercy of God is surely seen and exemplified once and for all in the Cross of Jesus Christ. There is no greater symbol of God’s mercy and love. Those silly “resurrected Christs” that are placed on a cross over an altar in some Catholic churches are a product of sentimentality and denial of the justice of God. And yet when one looks at the Cross one sees there the terrible, horrible, judgment of God on this world of sin, that God would have to have his Son die in this way: what does that say about this world, about you and me? The obvious answer is quite negative. But you see, the deepest answer to that question is Love, there is the answer. But not the cheap love the world would have us believe in, love defined as what I want to do, love defined apart from the laws of God, love defined so as to upturn reality into perversity, a false love that is doomed to hell, as Dante saw, as Christ told us, as St Paul wrote, that is doomed to death, for it is the opposite of Love.
The gospel today speaks clearly of the second coming of Christ, a time of judgment, a time when the justice of God will be revealed and will be exacted. This will be a time, yes, a time of mercy on those sinners who have repented and who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. And those will hear those words: “Come ye blessed of my Father…” But this will also be a time of justice, when the wicked who have not repented, who have reveled in their sinfulness, who have spit at the law of God, will receive their reward.
And it will probably much worse than anything Dante could have imagined.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just when you think another commentary may be overkill, here comes Rusty Reno

R.R. Reno, "Popes and Interviews" (Scroll down from "How to Limit Government," First Things, December 2013), walks a thin red line:
After last month’s interviews with Pope Francis were released—the long one conducted by Jesuit Antonio Spadaro and the shorter one by atheist Eugenio Scalfari—the New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein opined that they leave “no doubt that he is in a hurry to further the stalled work of the Second Vatican Council: to open the church to modern culture, and to have a dialogue with other religions and nonbelievers.” Finally, after the conservative, backward-looking pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church is getting up to speed!

It’s not a persuasive reading of Pope Francis. The pope calls himself “a son of the Church,” whose teachings are “clear.” But Goodstein’s is not an implausible reading.

In the first place, in Francis we’re not dealing with a modern politician or corporate titan who surrounds himself with speechwriters and handlers who keep him “on message.” The spontaneity is refreshing, a nice counter-witness to our manipulative and increasingly untruthful public culture of carefully orchestrated sound bites. But spontaneity naturally leads to messages that can be misrepresented. The most prominent have been his statements about gays and lesbians, which the secular press has presented as indicating a rejection or at least moderation of Catholic teaching. That’s not surprising. Our secular culture is obsessed with sexual identity and can’t stop talking about it.

There are substantive reasons behind progressive enthusiasm, however, that are less blatantly self-serving. John Paul II was an immensely cultured man with expansive interests who spoke with doubters and atheists and worked to infuse the spirit of Christian humanism into the best of modern secular philosophy. But he also had a determined and courageous spirit of opposition to evil, one doubtless formed and hardened by his youthful experiences of Nazi brutalities and his long adult struggle with communism. His image of what we’re up against, the culture of death, was powerful.

Benedict’s papacy reflected an equally encompassing mind and spirit. His dialogue with Jürgen Habermas fulfilled the hopes of Gaudium et Spes: a man of faith finding common ground with a man of goodwill. But he also emphasized a firm Christian resistance to the dangers and perversions of the post-Christian West, most memorably to the “dictatorship of relativism.”

Here there is a real difference. Pope Francis shies away from opposition. The most famous example is the “Who am I to judge?” response to a question about gay people. Less noted but more important are his measured statements about the challenges we face, which reflect a context only well-catechized Christians are likely to recognize.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wind damage to St. Josaphat closes church

"Heavy storms cause visible damage to steeple of historic St. Josaphat in Detroit" (Michigan Catholic, November 18, 2013).

The street in front of the church was blocked off today, the police were out, and there is fear that the tower could further crumble or collapse. A sign on the front of the church building states that the City of Detroit has condemned the building. A truly bad situation.

Please remember in your prayers the people and pastor of this parish and cluster, who will be needing to make difficult decisions in the very near future.

Update: "Detroit's historic St. Josaphat Church likely to tear down spire after wind damage" (Detroit Free Press, November 19, 2013). [More details.]

[Hat tip to A.B., D.K.]

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"The Poor Misunderstood Pope? "

“When you express too much, you run the risk of being misunderstood,” Pope Francis admitted in his lengthy interview with Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J., published this September in Jesuit magazines across the world. So, has the Holy Father been misunderstood? It’s been amusing to watch impassioned commentators try to explain away the Pope’s interview, putting their rosiest spin on his words: “The media took the Pope out of context” or “He just wants a more pastoral Church.” But a hard question must be asked: Why is it that gay-rights advocates and abortion promoters are lauding Pope Francis for his words, while many faithful Catholics are perplexed and apprehensive?

Conservative Catholic commentators have gone out of their way to assure us that the Holy Father hasn’t contradicted Church teaching or changed Church doctrine. That much is true. When popes give interviews they typically say “nothing new” — that is, if we’re talking about defining Church doctrine on matters of faith and morals. Interviews, nevertheless, can cause a host of problems (recall Pope Benedict XVI’s famous condoms comment; see our New Oxford Note “Condom-mania, the Rerun,” Jan.-Feb. 2011), especially when the Church is not prepared for the fallout. This time around, although secular media outlets received advance copies of the text under embargo, bishops and their spokesmen did not.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, for example, said that it was a “blessing” to have been “away from the United States on September 19 when Jesuit magazines around the world released the Pope’s remarks.” He returned home to a deluge of e-mails. “Some people grasped at the interview like a lifeline — or a vindication,” he wrote in Catholic Philadelphia (Sept. 25). “One person praised the Holy Father for stressing that the ‘Church must focus on compassion and mercy, not on enforcing small-minded rules.’ She added that ‘we’re at last free from the chains of hatred that have ruled the Catholic Church for so many years and led to my unease in bringing my own children into that Church.’” But most of the e-mails the archbishop received were from catechists, priests, and laymen who felt confused or disillusioned by the interview: “A priest said the Pope ‘has implicitly accused brother priests who are serious about moral issues of being small minded,’ and that ‘[if you’re a priest,] being morally serious is now likely to get you publicly cast as a problem.’ Another priest wrote that ‘the problem is that [the Holy Father] makes all of the wrong people happy, people who will never believe in the Gospel and who will continue to persecute the Church.’”

Consider that the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) jumped on the effusive-praise bandwagon and posted a “Thank you” to Francis from “Pro-choice women everywhere” on Facebook, while the Human Rights Campaign, a “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” advocacy group, tweeted an image with the words, “Dear Pope Francis, thank you. — LGBT people everywhere.”

Archbishop Chaput believes that most of these concerns were the result of narrowly focused media headlines (“Pope: Church too focused on gays and abortion: ‘We have to find a new balance instead of being obsessed with those issues,’” USA Today; “Pope faults ‘small-minded rules,’” Chicago Tribune), and he is probably correct. But a careful reading of the interview does little to allay concerns. In fact, taken in context, the Pope’s words create more confusion and raise additional concerns.

What conservative Catholic pundits have been saying is true: The Pope has not changed Church teaching. But while Francis doesn’t deny the truth or the faith, he implicitly calls some of it into question, not only by his call for a re-ordering of priorities, but through his uncertain and inexact language. One hopes his is not a purposeful use of ambiguity, but most of his now-famous interview remains ambiguous nonetheless.

Rudderless Ship? New Springtime?

I'm amazed at how divergent people's perceptions seem to be of the state of the Church and of the Holy Father. Michael Voris is asking whether there will be any priests left in America in another fifty years, and the Holy Father said in September that "the Church has never been so well as it is today." MSNBC's Chris Hayes has ceclared Pope Francis "the best pope ever"; and Louie Verrecchio refers to "A rudderless ship."

It's almost as if the political divisions that have torn apart the country over the last decade are now being mirrored by parallel divisions within the Church.

Christmas Week Chicago Church Bus Tour

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

Tridentine Community News (November 17, 2013):
The annual Prayer Pilgrimages Bus Tour to Historic Chicago Churches has been set for December 26-27. In addition to visits to several landmark churches, Masses in the Extraordinary Form will be offered at two of Chicago’s most beautiful houses of worship, St. Mary of the Angels and Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica.

This will be the third year in a row that we have been welcomed to hold a Mass at St. Mary of the Angels, arguably one of the world’s most stunningly restored churches. [Below photo © 2009, Jeremy Atherton]

History will be made on this trip: A Tridentine Mass will also be offered at Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, the first to be celebrated there in at least 43 years. Known for its arcade of twelve Side Altars and massive, barrel-vaulted nave, the basilica has two principal Side Altars which are larger than most churches’ High Altars. Our Lady of Sorrows was the site of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s famous black-and-white video, “The Immemorial Tridentine Mass”. Filmed in 1941 and viewable on YouTube, this video features Archbishop Sheen narrating an Easter Sunday Solemn High Mass. [Below photo © 2009, Jeremy Atherton]

For further information or to register for the tour, visit or call (248) 250-6005.

Pontifical Journal Latínitas Debuts

A welcome new periodical is debuting. The following press release was issued from the Vatican on November 8, announcing:
...the first issue of the new series of the journal “Latinitas”, published by the Pontifical Academy Latinitas, instituted by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2012. The speakers were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Professor Ivano Dionigi, president of the Pontifical Academy for Latin and rector of the University of Bologna, and the writer Valerio Massimo Manfredi.

The first issue will include an article responding to the questions, “Latin for whom? Why Latin?” by the new director Ivano Dionigi, following an epigraph dedicated to Pope Francis.

The journal is divided into three sections: scientific (“Historica et philologica”); “Humaniora”, dedicated to contemporary literature in Latin, and “Ars docendi”, which considers didactic issues related to classical languages and cultures, ranging from antiquity to the present day. The volume is completed by an appendix in Latin with “Breves de Academiae vita notitiae”, a brief summary of the main activities of the academy, the “Argumenta” or abstracts of the contributions to the journal in accordance with current international norms for scientific publications, and a useful “Index universus”. The new “Latinitas” will publish articles in Latin and, for the first time, in Italian and other languages.
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/18 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Dedication of the Basilicas of Ss. Peter & Paul)
  • Tue. 11/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Widow)
  • [Monday-Friday 7:30am: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto]
  • [Holy Days and Sundays 9:30am: High Mass at Assumption Grotto]
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for November 17, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Isn't it nearly heresy today to question the Divine Mercy Devotion?

Anyone who looks into the history of the Divine Mercy Devotion, as well as Divine Mercy Sunday, a solemnity instituted by the late Pope John Paul II and celebrated the Sunday following Easter, may unexpectedly discover some rather shocking things. According to the text of a sermon by Msgr. Patrick Perez (April 21, 2013):
Pius XII ... placed this devotion, including the apparitions and the writings of Sr. Faustina on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index of Prohibited Books).

Next, came other prohibitions made by Pope John XXIII. Twice in his pontificate, the Holy Office issued condemnations of the Divine Mercy writings.

Not once, but twice under Pope John XXIII, this particular devotion was condemned through the Holy Office. The first condemnation was in a plenary meeting held on November 19, 1958. The declaration from the Holy Office issued these three statements about this devotion:
  1. There is no evidence of the supernatural origin of these revelations....
  2. No feast of Divine Mercy should be instituted....
  3. It is forbidden to disseminate the images and writings propagating this devotion under the form received by Sr. Faustina.
So how did we get from that, to this: Divine Mercy Sunday with promises of unconditional mercy and no mention of penance? Did I miss something? Nothing but an honest question.

[Hat tip to K.J.]
[Advisory - See ##7-9 in Da Rulz]

For the record: miracles still do happen

All my life I've occasionally witnessed and had credible friends till me about impossible cures -- cures from cancer, tumours disappearing, escapes from injury and death, and the like.

Just occasionally. Not too often.

Life goes on "normally" for months in a pattern that any reductionistic materialist would find fully plausible, and then: Wham! It happens again -- almost like little reminders not to forget that the naturalistic (anti-supernaturalist) worldview is nothing but the most fragile bubble, entirely an illusion.

Today I received an email from a good friend with just such news. The details are confidential and cannot be shared, except for the fact that it involved a disease considered incurable. After repeated Novenas to the Blessed Mother, requests for intercession at daily Mass, one spouse called the other crying for joy. Their prayers had been answered. Miraculously.
"Good Lord...

"My Lord, I am without words for the first time in my life.

"I am beyond joy and stunned like never before. All this is due solely to Jesus and Mary and that they heard and answered the prayers of this serious sinner is a mystery beyond all understanding and certainly beyond all telling.

"Such love and compassion surpasses all understanding."
Thought you'd like to know. As Pascal says, God offers enough light to give hope to the humble, but enough darkness to forestall all pride. We walk by faith. And once in a while, it can surprise you.

Friday, November 15, 2013

"The End of Protestantism" turns out to be ... Protestant

Michael Liccione, "'The End of Protestantism' turns out to be ... Protestant" (Sacramentum Vitae), November 14, 2013):
When it came out last week, I had intended to write a lengthy rebuttal of Peter Leithart's First Things piece "The End of Protestantism." But if you know much about church history, reading it for yourself makes that unnecessary. For what Leithart is advocating, which he calls "reformational Catholicism," has been around since the 16th century. It's called "Anglicanism"--or more precisely, what used to be called "broad-church Anglicanism." C.S. Lewis would have been quite comfortable with it. Leithart's brand doesn't require England, but it's just the sort of via media of which traditional Anglicans are so uniquely proud.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Curious and curiouser"

Our clandestine underground correspondent we keep on retainer in an eastern city which knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, recently wired me the linked article below with these words:
"If Benedict XVI was sometimes an enigma, Francis is a conundrum. Either of of course is better than a debacle. THE book right now for my money on VII is de Mattei's An Unwritten History. [So is mine, I would add.] Marcheto's tome is far less willing to examine anything with a critical lens and therefore strikes me as a bit anemic in what it affirms. Whitehead translated, so I'd be interest in his comments."
The linked article: Augustinus, "Francis endorses the 'hermeneutic of reform in continuity'
Papal letter praises critic of 'Bologna School' as 'best interpreter of the Second Vatican Council'
" (Rorate Caeli, November 14, 2013):
In his latest post for his personal blog, Sandro Magister publicized the text of a letter sent by Pope Francis to Abp. Agostino Marchetto, a former Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. He is best-known as the author of The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Counterpoint for the History of the Council,which criticizes the "Bologna School' and champions the "hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity" as proposed by Benedict XVI, most notably in his speech of December 22, 2005.
"Curiouser" indeed.

[Hat tip to JM]

The "Francis effect": What did Bishop Lynch mean?

US media have been abuzz about a possible "Francis effect," as American bishops gathered for a conference in Baltimore this week.

The Washington Post, the first to address the "Francis effect" and prognosticate about what it might mean for the future of the American Church, cited as evidence the following comments from the blog of St. Petersburg, FL, Bishop Robert Lynch:
"The pendulum has begun to shift back and how long it will continue to do so, well that is up to the Holy spirit. For the moment, I find all this absolutely amazing."
"Shift"? From where? To where? "Amazing"? What?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Catholic Identity Conference Synopsis

... by Boniface over at Unam Sanctam Catholicam (September 22, 2013), in case you missed it, like me.

Michael Matt with "objective arguments for Catholic tradition, arguments that still maintain the validity of the Novus Ordo while pointing out that the equal validity of the new and old liturgy does not mean strict equality" -- arguments already "laid down in their basics by Fr. Ripperger and summarized here by my at-large co-blogger Anselm."

John Vennari on "precision language," noting that in Catholic tradition one spoke about man's "struggle between two 'kingdoms', the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan (or, per St. Augustine, the City of God and the City of Man)," a struggle between cities "in irreconcilable conflict," such that "to be saved, one must be translated from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God." He contrasts this "precise language" with the more diluted notions of the "Civilization of Love" versus the "Culture of Death."

Michael Voris on the same-sex crisis within the church, presenting a "crosscut view of several dioceses around the country," including his own Archdiocese of Detroit, from which he related a story told him by a local priest "who stated that he refused to attend the Archdiocesan Christmas parties anymore because 'he was sick of getting introduced to priests' boyfriends.'" Not unique to Detroit, certainly, but a problem.

Boniface adds: "As a side note, I want to mention that during the intermission, my friend and I had the opportunity to buy Michael Voris a drink and sat chatting with him in the lounge for over an hour. He was wonderfully down to earth, gentle, extremely humble, and not at all the bitter demagogue he is reputed to be."

Chris Ferrara on Thomistic philosophy's relation to quantum physics and it's quandary concerning the "indeterminacy of matter," which, he suggests, could be illumined by Aristotelian hylomorphism and its view of matter as pure potency (lacking form to actualize it) at the quantum level but possessing stability at the classic-Newtonian level because of the form imposed on matter by God in the creation of things after their own kind. (Boniface relates that they discussed "Austrian economists" afterwards with Ferrara, who called them "slippery fellows.")

James Vogel spoke about the state of things between the SSPX and Rome, bringing up recently-discussed points relating to Archbishop Athanasius Schneider and Walter Cardinal Kasper.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

De sodomitico vitio: the ensnared and inveterate sodomite

The Sword of the Saint, Unsheathed

by Anne Barbeau Gardiner

Book of Gomorrah: An Eleventh-Century Treatise against Clerical Homosexual Practices.By St. Peter Damian. Translated and edited by Pierre Payer. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 108 pages. $38.95.

By the time he published the Book of Gomorrah around A.D. 1049, St. Peter Damian had been preaching for some time against homosexuality. He told Pope St. Leo IX, to whom he directed this work, that he needed his support against those who despised him for this preaching. While others in authority remained silent, he lamented, homosexuality kept spreading: “Vice against nature creeps in like a cancer and even touches the order of consecrated men.”

That homosexuality was indeed a problem at that time may be inferred from the fact that the vice was addressed at the Council of Rheims (A.D. 1049) in the canon de sodomitico vitio. Also, Damian received, in reply to his treatise, what he had requested from Leo IX, “a decretal writing as to which of those guilty of these vices ought to be deposed irrevocably from ecclesiastical orders; and to whom, truly taking the view of discretion, this office can be mercifully granted.”

In the Book of Gomorrah Damian says he has preached against this sin “with a whole fountain of tears” because the sinner he addresses sheds none at all: “O miserable soul, I weep for you with so many lamentations because I do not see you weeping. I prostrate myself on the ground for you because I see you maliciously standing up after such a grave fall, even to the point of trying for the pinnacle of an ecclesiastical order.” Damian weeps from “fraternal compassion” because he sees a “noble soul made in the image and likeness of God and joined with the most precious blood of Christ” cast down from a great height of dignity and glory. Any Christian who commits sodomy, he explains, surpasses in sin the men of Sodom, for he “defies the very commands of evangelical grace.”

Thomas Howard interviewed by Patrick Henry Reardon and David Mills
The Catholic Angler
An Interview with Thomas Howard

A longtime friend of Touchstone and himself a model of the “ecumenical orthodoxy” and “mere Christianity” we strive to represent, Professor Thomas Howard has brought many—Catholics as well as Evangelicals—to a deeper understanding of the treasures of the historic church through his writings and personal influence.

A graduate of Wheaton College and New York University, Professor Howard taught for many years at an Evangelical college until he became a Roman Catholic in 1985. From then on until his retirement he taught English at St. John’s Seminary College, the seminary of the archdiocese of Boston. 

He has written several books, on both religious and literary subjects, beginning with Christ the Tiger, a sort of spiritual autobiography, in 1967. Since then he has written seven more books, including Evangelical Is Not Enough; Lead, Kindly Light, the story of his conversion to Catholicism; and most recently On Being Catholic. He has also written studies of the novels of Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis, notably The Achievement of C. S. Lewis and C. S. Lewis, Man of Letters. Ignatius Press, the publisher of On Being Catholic, also distributes a videotape series of 13 lectures by Professor Howard on “The Treasures of Catholicism.”

Professor Howard was interviewed by senior editors Patrick Henry Reardon and David Mills while at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry to teach a weeklong course on the novels of C. S. Lewis. The interview has been edited for clarity and completeness, but the oral style has been retained.
Touchstone: One of the things C. S. Lewis is now notable for is his intellectual dissent from, in a way his assault on, feminism. I mean not the ordination of women as in his essay “Priestesses in the Church?” but the feminist ideology in general.

Thomas Howard: That’s one of those questions that has to be chased all the way through the corpus of Lewis’s works, because, obviously, feminism as such was not then a major or articulate force. He wrote the essay “Priestesses in the Church?” because the question had surfaced in a mild Anglican sort of way, but there was nothing very imminent about it.

Lewis presents a view of reality at a polar extreme from the frame of mind that ends up demanding ordination of women as presbyters. Obviously, he believes in hierarchy, but it’s not a hierarchy of power, which seems to be the feminist understanding. The whole discussion of priestesses in the last thirty years has run along sociological and political lines, with theology dragged in, when necessary, from the sidelines and various attempts made to rewrite the Bible to show that St. Paul said you should ordain women as presbyters.

In Lewis, you get a vision of things—of everything—in which the whole question of masculine and feminine is a subdivision of tremendous, prior considerations that he understands to characterize the universe. Lewis felt that those categories are of the very stuff of the universe, prior to male and female. Male is the way masculinity exhibits itself under biological species or terms, and female is the way femininity manifests itself under biological species.

For him, hierarchy is obviously the way the dance is choreographed, or the way the map of the universe is drawn. He points out in one place that in a hierarchy one has the duty of obedience to those above one in the hierarchy and the duty of magnanimity and stewardship and noblesse oblige to those below one. I seriously doubt that Lewis would use the words “above” and “below” with respect to masculine and feminine, because they don’t apply. They’re the terms of people who can only think of a dance in terms of power—which makes for a pretty poor dance.
The locus classicus for his view of gender is, I think, the scene toward the end of Perelandra when Ransom sees the two eldila: Perelandra, who is feminine, and Malacandra, who is masculine. The feminine eldil, Perelandra, participates in equal majesty, dignity, authority, and so on, with the masculine figure, Malacandra, but she has a receptiveness, a nurturing side. All these words have become buzzwords now, but they weren’t when Lewis wrote them in the 1940s.

I think he would feel that it’s turning things upside down to try to come at the mystery of femininity and masculinity with a power glint in one’s eye, or with an egalitarian, calculating set of categories to try to even up the slices of the pie.

You see this mind in That Hideous Strength.

TH: There’s a sense in which the entire book That Hideous Strength is a document in the case. Jane Studdock is clearly deeply confused at the beginning of the book in her effort to avoid being thought of as “little wifey”—and who wants to be thought of as little wifey? Fairy Hardcastle calls her that.

But she doesn’t want to be identified with what she would think of as stereotypes, but which are actually archetypes, having to do with womanhood and being wife or mother, etc. She is an intellectual, she is writing her dissertation on John Donne’s “triumphant vindication of the body,” and yet poor Jane is a Gnostic without knowing it. She hasn’t got a clue about the vindication of the body. She doesn’t know that her body will turn out to be virtually Mark’s salvation, not just because he remembers her with lust or concupiscence in the toils of Belbury, but because it is her womanhood that stands with clarity and truth and good sense and resilience and toughness over against the bottomless deception and disintegration that is Belbury.

It is Jane embodied, not just the idea of Jane, not just Jane’s intellect—far from it—but Jane as his spouse that saves Mark. And, of course, the very last paragraph of the book is, in one sense, the beginning. We have now come up to the real beginning of the marriage. Mark is about to be saved. He has escaped hell, and Jane is to be his salvation.

Oakland County Latin Mass Association Debut Mass at St. Hugo Stone Chapel

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

Tridentine Community News (November 10, 2013):
The historic Stone Chapel at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills was filled to capacity for a Solemn High Mass on All Souls Day. This Mass set a local record of persistence: taking over six years to secure necessary permissions, it was a labor of love for organizer Cia Lakin. Cia is the founder of the Oakland County Latin Mass Association, a new entity patterned on the successful model of the Windsor Tridentine Mass Association, metro Detroit’s first Latin Mass group, which recently evolved into the St. Benedict Tridentine Catholic Community.

Most significantly, the St. Hugo Mass demonstrated demand for a regular Sunday Liturgy in the Extraordinary Form in Oakland County. Over the next several months, the volunteers behind the Oakland County Latin Mass Association along with Chaplain Msgr. Ron Browne will attempt to identify a site where a weekly Sunday Mass can be established. A set of photos taken by Edgar Din is at:

Bishop Fabbro Visits St. Benedict Community

Last weekend also saw the first visit of a sitting Bishop of London, Ontario to the Windsor Tridentine Mass Community. Over 250 faithful were in attendance. His Excellency Bishop Ronald Fabbro sat in choir for the Mass and preached the Homily. Bishop Fabbro remarked that he was aware that a significant amount of work goes into organizing “good liturgy” and thanked Fr. Peter Hrytsyk for his spiritual leadership. He observed that the Windsor Latin Mass group’s stability over 22 years was the motivation for him to upgrade its canonical status to the St. Benedict Tridentine Catholic Community. His Excellency also commended Michel Ozorak for having gained an “international reputation” for his Chant Sheet project.

A set of photos taken by Charlie Parent is at:

Monthly Sunday Mass at St. Joseph Church to Debut

Fr. Greg Tokarski has approved the commencement of a monthly Sunday 1:00 PM Tridentine High Mass at Detroit’s St. Joseph Church, starting on December 1, the First Sunday of Advent. Music will be provided by the choir of St. Joseph Church under the direction of Michael Semaan.

These monthly Masses will be coordinated so as not to conflict with St. Albertus’ monthly Masses. As with all such efforts, your attendance at these Masses will determine whether they should be continued.

This year’s Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Joseph will also be in the Extraordinary Form.

2014 Calendars Available

As in previous years, we will be ordering 2014 Tridentine Wall Calendars from the Fraternity of St. Peter. Note that the calendar of feasts for the Extraordinary Form differs from the Ordinary Form, so this calendar is specifically intended to serve those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass. The cost is $16.00 each, and prepayment is requested. Please sign up on the order forms at the back of the church after Mass at Assumption Church and St. Albertus Church.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/11 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Martin of Tours, Bishop & Confessor)
  • Tue. 11/12 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Martin I, Pope & Martyr)
  • Sun. 11/17 12:00 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (Resumed Sixth Sunday After Epiphany) – Last Mass at St. Albertus for 2013
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for November 10, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Sanctuary amidst the storm

Some good thoughts here: "Revolution and Tradition" (RC, November 9, 2013). Edited:
What to do when everything seems to be immersed in tremendous confusion?
What to do when nothing seems to exist with certainty?

Man is made to live in the presence of God, and in God to find his own substance and peace. At one time the Catholic Church communicated this peace. It was the world, far from God, that was in continuous agitation, but the Church - no. The Church was stability.

It was the godless world which was immersed in a continuous Revolution loved by unstable and desperate souls, who, discontent with life, sought anxiously after impossible novelties which could fill their interior emptiness.

But the Church – no: always the same, composed and pacific in the stability of God, She advanced through the sea of history and was a safe vessel for the souls who did not love the Revolution, recognizing it as false and deceptive.

It was the modern world no longer wanting to depend on God and any authority which criticized the Church, accusing Her of never changing! Not believing in God, the modern world did not understand the stability of the Church, because deep down it did not understand the stability of God. So, amidst all the terrible revolutions, the Church with Her saints and the supernatural grace of Her sacraments, with the immutable truth revealed by God and transmitted by Tradition and Holy Scripture, walked in the world, pulling all the souls that She could away from the Revolution, which kills, in order to carry them in Her bosom, into the stability of grace, which edifies.

Many were struck by the marvellous peace that emanated from the Catholic Church, a peace that convinced and converted, a peace which is among the greatest signs of God....

“The serenity of the Faith and immutable doctrine was reflected in the possession of the truth full of certainty and peace.”

How sweet these words are! They are the very sweetness of God and give serenity to every heart that seeks it in His Church.

But now all has changed… dreadful days have come upon us which the appeasing rhetoric of modernized Christians cannot hide: the Revolution of the atheist world has entered the Church and is wearing everything down. There is no longer any stability and the Church appears to have entered into a perennial Revolution which changes everything continuously: confusion in the rites, confusion in doctrine, confusion in morals, confusion in discipline. You do not know if the truth of today will be the same tomorrow. Many, priests and faithful, rush around anxiously in order not to be left behind, adapting themselves in whatever way they can, to this wearisome confusion.

The one who is truly seeking God in this revolutionary Church, is left frightfully alone.

What to do in this suffocating atmosphere? And what not to do?

First of all, it is important not to be beset by agitation, it is important not to react like revolutionaries: that would be like treating a disease, which is precisely what the Revolution is, with the same illness. The revolutionary spirit, even when it pretends to save the good, will never be the solution.

Instead, it is essential to stay really outside of the Revolution, by living Catholicism integrally in the stability that was there, before the Revolution invaded everything.

In the darkness of [the present] confusion, you need to decide before God to live a stable Catholic life. In order to do this you have to identify a place that transmits the peace of the Faith which possesses revealed truth. A place where the Traditional Mass is celebrated: choose it as a reference for your life, allowing yourself to be educated by this place. Do not live in agitation, in a perennial struggle, but live like Catholics in the Liturgy of all time, in the Doctrine of all time, in the Grace of all time according to the Sacraments of all time; and with that, do all the good that the Lord permits you to do....

Dearly beloved, if we live like this, the dreadful darkness of today will stay out of our hearts.

Let us pray to Our Lady to obtain this safe haven for us and that we always try to be worthy of it.

[Editorial: Radicati nella fede, November 2013, bulletin of the Catholic community of Domodossola and Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy - Translation and tip: Contributor Francesca Romana]
[NB: Rules ##7-9]

Friday, November 08, 2013

Why reverence comes first in intimate relations

Alice von Hildebrand, The Dark Night of the Body: Why reverence comes first in intimate relations(Roman Catholic Books, 2013) is a book that followers of discussions of Catholic sexual morality will be unable to ignore.

In interests of fair disclosure, I am a great fan of Janet Smith's work on contraception and areas touching this field, though I am not, as she is, a great fan of Christopher West's. I admit that West has produced some works I would be willing to recommend to others, with a caveat or two. As influential as his work has been on a popular level, however, I do not find the quality of his work comparable in any way to that of the remarkable work of Janet Smith's. I mention this in-house business only because I know that Dr. Smith may have some misgivings about Alice von Hildebrand's new book, if for no other reason than the fact that it is critical of Christopher West.

In any case, the following is a review of Dr. von Hildebrand's new book, entitled "Dark Night Arrives" (Bellarmine Forum, November 4, 2013), by John B. Manos, who is also critical of Christopher West and the Theology of the Body "movement" generally. I post it mostly for its coverage of the contents of the book. It is what it is. Read it if you like, or if you don't, at least buy and read Dr. von Hildebrand's work. The review:
Finally, today, I had a box in my mailbox — I was hoping, and it turned out to be the box for which I have been waiting. The Fall catalog of Roman Catholic Books advertised this saucy title from Dr. Alice von Hildebrand:

dark night

It is precisely what it says:  a critique of the Theology of the Body movement afoot these days.  I underline movement because there is at least three or four different things roaming our lands identifying themselves with that name.
  • First, there is the 129 wednesday audiences from Pope John Paul II — that is the actual Theology of the Body.
  • Second, there is a campy series of talks and lectures given by traveling speakers, most notably Christopher West, but others as well.  It is touted as the cause celeb and many people claim to be experts after listening to an hour talk and buying a book.
  • Third, there is a movement comprised of people applying and misapplying what they wanted to hear at these talks.
  • Fourth, there is everyone caught in the headlights of this mess who don’t really know about it but think they need to support it because they think all of it is John Paul II, so they won’t suffer the appearances of critical discussion.
To get things straight, I recall seeing one of these talks years ago and laughing in my sleeve at it.  It struck me as a cross between Anthony Robbins, an infomercial, and some sprinkles of Catholic words on top so that everyone got the idea that it was supposed to be Catholic.  Nowhere in it did I encounter advice or practical tips that matched the advice I had received from older, wiser, and far better read priests in the years prior to the arrival of this circus show movement.
POINT ONE:  the practice of chastity begins with telling the truth.  That’s easy to comprehend.  I really meant it when I posted this article last year – the problem of chastity, even in instructing young people today, is one caused by the crisis of truth in people’s minds and speech.  It’s an easy concept — to delve into the life of promiscuity requires internal lying, and a choice by the unchaste to accept and develop the lies.  If lies are at the root, then telling the truth begins the remedy.  Like all the virtues, it’s such an easy idea to comprehend, but that’s not so easy to practice.
POINT TWO:  there is no defect corrected by or grand discovery in Pope John Paul II’s lectures.  His lectures were mostly expository of things known and well discussed in Catholic tradition, with some synthesis in modern terms — it was not new and unchartered territory (as is alleged by many in the movement).  The very point of honesty and telling the truth, both with the tongue and with the body was a major assertion by John Paul II.  In several places across many of the lectures, John Paul II makes the point that fornication is but one work of the flesh, that Purity begins in the heart, yet, says John Paul II:
“Impure works in the same sense are defined not only as adultery and fornication, and so the sins of the flesh in the strict sense, but also “‘evil thoughts…theft, false witness, slander.’”
False Witness and slander are lies.  John Paul II makes this connection in many places — why?  Because Catholic tradition has always made this observation of basic human nature!
I challenge you to find such in the “MOVEMENT” afoot today, however.It follows that liars cannot be intimate with someone, because there will always be a false basis to the things shared between them.  Thus, if a person habitually lies, they cannot, without reformation to truth telling, have a relationship with another person as God intended and made us to.
Even Dante’s Inferno makes this point by the stratifications of hell.  The people with sexual aberrations are not at the lowest levels — no, the lowest levels of hell were for liars, cheats, frauds, and treachery.  The fornicators and other pervasions are still in hell, but it should be obvious to anyone reading here why they aren’t down in the depths of depths with fraud and treachery.
I summarize a larger topic only to make the point that here is something so essential and fundamental to the topic at hand that is never discussed — telling the truth is key to human relationships, even those with sex (marriage).  Only on this basis can there be true intimacy — and it follows then that the body will follow.  Just as every other practice of virtue starts — errors (lies) are expunged from the mind that the mind can properly inform the will.
THE PROBLEM:  Academic discussion revolves around critical analysis.  Ideas are worked out by debate and debate acts as the honing stone that chips away the error from the blade’s edge making it sharp.  Have you tried to critically analyze Theology of the Body movements, though?  You will be met with aghast looks disdain, shock, horror, and all sorts of other emotional response.  Criticism is not welcome among the people who think it is a good thing.  Over the years, I’ve come to suspect that such reactions are because most people don’t have actual knowledge of the subject and want to cheerlead.  It’s not a satisfying discussion because the ideas are vague and misapplied.  What’s worse, omissions are severe and terminally erroneous (such as overlooking the connection to telling the truth).
So how do you convince people that the ToB “movement” is washed up in silliness and doesn’t even cover the most fundamental point?  You don’t – not on the mass movement scale at least.  People like talking about sex, Hugh Heffner, porn, and perversions and how disordered they are.  Telling people that they can learn chastity by telling the truth is like offering them castor oil — it’s not sexy.
Despite wanting ideas and topics that can withstand the strongest critical analysis, most of the cheerleaders resort to emotional fallacies to protect the concept.  So there isn’t a good hearty discussion, just acceptance and books sales and a lot of hopeful self-made experts.
Somebody like Dr. Alice von Hildebrand can, however, get people’s attention. I expect I will scratch my head a few times and have to re-read a section here and there, but it will be worth it.  This topic consumes so many around us, and a real, heartfelt, and critical discussion needs to happen — despite what is claimed by ToB cheerleaders, JPII didn’t suddenly overthrow 2000 years of Catholic understanding of human nature.  So what’s going on?
It’s a short book — the Table of Contents is interesting to me:
dark night TOC 1
dark night TOC 2

I haven’t read it (yet) — but notice even the point where Dr. von Hildebrand arrives:  Chapters 11 and 12 are about truth.
Have you read this book yet?  What about Theology of the Body?  Have you read John Paul II’s talks themselves or just heard somebody mention it?
[Hat tip to JM]