Sunday, August 31, 2014

What does the Instrumentum laboris of the October Synod say about natural law?

One quotation that Prof. Roberto de Mattei lifts from the text, he suggests, devalues the idea of the natural law: “In a vast majority of responses and observations, the concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible.” (n.21) He worries that this may incline the Synod in the direction of letting the relativist culture to which the notion of "human nature" is no longer comprehensible influence the Church's thinking -- in effect, letting the "tail wag the dog" (my analogy).

I doubt this would be allowed to happen, but in our contemporary ethos, such statements from the planners are, to say the least, annoying.

Extraordinary Community News: The Good, the Sad, and the Beautiful

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

Tridentine Community News (August 31, 2014):
Windsor’s Assumption Church to Close

The Diocese of London announced on Friday, August 29 that Windsor’s Assumption Church will be closing. The last Masses will be celebrated on Sunday, November 2. The failure of the fundraising effort to raise the $10,000,000 needed to restore the church is the stated reason. Assumption Parish will relocate to Holy Name of Mary Church, which is currently largely unused.

This is obviously a very sad piece of news for the Windsor and Detroit Latin Mass community. Assumption is the oldest parish in southern Ontario and one of the oldest churches in the region. It is an ideal home for the Extraordinary Form. With its High Pulpit, Communion Rail, Side Altars, High Altar, deep sanctuary, statuary, artwork, and pipe organ, not to mention its expansive campus near the Detroit River, Assumption has been as perfect a site as one could imagine.

That being said, Assumption is not the only edifice suitable for our Mass. The St. Benedict Tridentine Community is actively examining options for relocation. Rest assured that we will find the best possible site where our Mass can continue to thrive.

St. Josaphat Church to Reopen on September 14

On a brighter note, the central steeple reconstruction project at Detroit’s St. Josaphat Church has been completed, and the church is now able to reopen. The Tridentine Mass will return to St. Josaphat on Sunday, September 14 at 9:30 AM. As of that date, regularly scheduled Masses in the Extraordinary Form at St. Joseph Church will cease.

Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin to Train All Seminarians in the Extraordinary Form

Bishop Robert Morlino has proven to be one of North America’s most ardent advocates of the Extraordinary Form. His diocese of Madison, Wisconsin produces a continual stream of encouraging developments. To wit:

St. Mary of Pine Bluff Church, led by Fr. Richard Heilman, now celebrates all of their Masses ad oriéntem, at the High Altar, including Latin Masses in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms.

St. Mary in Fennimore recently completed an incredible restoration. This historic church, which had been whitewashed and modernized after Vatican II, has been re-traditionalized, with a brand new High Altar, Side Altars, Communion Rail, and mural work above the sanctuary. As amazing as the transformation is, equally impressive is the price: The whole project cost $700,000. The result is so striking that we will be featuring it in an upcoming episode of Extraordinary Faith.

In addition to the above two churches, Tridentine Masses are also held at St. Augustine University Parish and St. Mary Parish in Platteville, St. Mary Health of the Sick in Merrimac, St. Norbert in Roxbury, and St. Barnabas in Mazomanie, a surprising amount of Extraordinary Form activity for a diocese which is primarily rural.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, the liturgical blogger known as Fr. Z, [apparently] resides in the diocese and is a regular celebrant of Tridentine Masses there.

In 2012, Bishop Morlino celebrated a Pontifical Low Mass for his seminarians. Ground was broken when His Excellency announced that all seminarians will be required to learn the Extraordinary Form as part of their formation.

A Solemn High Mass was recently celebrated for the seminarians [photo by Ben Yanke/New Liturgical Movement]. Bishop Morlino also celebrates Pontifical Masses throughout the year at other locations. Reverent celebration of the Ordinary Form and use of Gregorian Chant is also promoted in the diocese.

How can we measure whether such efforts bear fruit? Consider that there were approximately three seminarians when His Excellency arrived in the diocese in 2003, whereas now there are 33: an eleven-fold increase. Experience continues to prove that attention to the Sacred Liturgy yields a vocations harvest.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 09/01 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (St. Giles, Confessor)
  • Tue. 09/02 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (St. Stephen of Hungary, King & Confessor)
  • Fri. 09/05 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (Sacred Heart of Jesus) [First Friday]
  • Sun. 09/07: No Mass at Academy of the Sacred Heart – Mass will resume at the Academy as usual at 9:45 AM on Sunday, September 14.
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for August 31, 2014. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tridentine Masses coming this week to the metro Detroit and East Michigan area

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Friday, August 29, 2014

Believe it! Extraordinary Faith

Extraordinary Faith (EWTN)

How can a film be "too gay" for Hollywood?

Interesting point about how those most interested in promoting causes like gay pride an abortion rights are least interested in having exposed what their causes actually involve.

Cosmological paradigms: doubters and true believers

Aristarchus of Samos (c. 310-230 BC) was the first known astronomer to present a heleocentric cosmological theory. This theory wasn't picked up again until the theories of Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) led to what came to be known as the "Copernican Revolution."

The dominant theory before Aristarchus and after him, until the time of Copernicus, was the geocentric paradigm promoted by the theories of Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Claudius Ptolemy (c. AD 90-168).

If you've read anything about scientific "paradigms" -- for example, in Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) -- you know something about how fundamental paradigms are in providing the regulative ideals by which scientists conduct their work.

In fact, Kuhn shows that, contrary to the views about the foundations of science promoted by the father of Scientific Positivism, August Comte (1798-1857), science cannot prove its own presuppositions and depends on assumed paradigms, scientific progress has not consisted in a steady and incremental "growth in knowledge," but rather a haphazard movement that advances by fits and starts and even accidental discoveries of new paradigms.

I don't know about you, but I love to watch what happens when ideas and theories are proposed that rock the boat of prevailing orthodoxies. This is one reason I enjoy all the recent theories that question "Climate Science" or "Evolutionary Theory," for example. What I find particularly amusing (I know, it's my perverse and fallen sense of humor) is how exercised and upset the "true believers" and self-appointed guardians of prevailing dogmas and orthodoxies become over these unorthodox theories.

Appeal to authority is the weakest form of argument, just as ridicule is the last resort of bad arguments. And what is fascinating is how quickly "true believers" stoop to ridicule based on the prima facie "absurdity" of the "doubters" -- anyone who questions the authority of the prevailing wisdom of Climate Scientists (remember: Al Gore was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2007 for his promotion of "knowledge" about global warming), the Evolutionist theories of Richard Dawkins, et al., and the currently regnant cosmological paradigm of heleocentrism.

So, for anyone interested in something completely "unorthodox," something prima facie totally "absurd" and "ridiculous," but explicitly appealing to scientific "data" in ways that drive "true believers" insane, I present for your enjoyment the latest "doubters" of the heleocentric paradigm:

Walker Percy, on Bourbon

"Here's a treat. 'Bourbon' and essay by Walker Percy. Smile!" (Booze News: Spirited News for Thoughtful Imbibers, March 24, 2014):
The pleasure of knocking back Bourbon lies in the plain [sic; plane? -psl] of the aesthetic but at an opposite pole from connoisseurship. My preference for the former is or is not deplorable depending on one's value system--that is to say, how one balances out the Epicurean virtues of cultivating one's sensory end organs with the greatest discrimination and at least cost to one's health, against the virtue of evocation of time and memory and of the recovery of self and the past from the fogged-in disoriented Western world. In Kierkegaardian terms, the use of Bourbon to such an end is a kind of aestheticized religious mode of existence, whereas connoisseurship, the discriminating but single-minded stimulation of sensory end organs, is the aesthetic of damnation.
Read the full essay HERE >>

Walker Percy, "Bourbon" (1975), from Signposts in a Strange Land: Essays(Picador, 2000).

[Hat tip to CB]

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"The confessional is a tribunal, not a coffee house"

Fr. Z, "ASK FATHER: Hogging the Confessional" (Fr. Z's Blog, August 26, 2014).

Cardinal Siri's banned forgotten book on ecumenism

Our undercover corresponded we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city who knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, wired me the following telegram back on June 20, and the footman from the telegraph office in Reno, Nevada (of all places!), just arrived at my door with it this evening. Here's what he wrote:
[Cardinal Giuseppe] Siri! Talk about counter-Resourcement, or a name unlikely to be on any recent papal bedside reading stand. LOL. Forgotten in under a century, akin to Garrigou-Lagrange. His "Gethsemeni" appears available now only in French.
Actually, he is happily mistaken, though, unhappily, used copies of the bad English translation run between $65.98 and $284.62. Anyway, he continued:
I very much doubt I could persuade Ignatius Press to republish what is essentially a polite take down of Henri de Lubac. Despite the premium currently placed on dialog and diversity, people really want to hear just what they want to hear. Siri's common sense can't really be answered, so it will remain simply discredited by official disfavor versus any sustained theologizing. Reminds me to of Romano Amerio, whose Stat Veritas may we yet someday see in English. It's not that I enjoy insurgency so much as I enjoy Catholic theology and clear thinking.
Related: "Catholics and Ecumenism - considerations by Cardinal Siri" (RC, June 19, 2014).

[Hat tip to GN]

Thompson interview on Pope's effort to clean up the Roman Curia

Damian Thompson, "Revealed: the Pope's war with the Vatican" (The Spectator, August 23, 2014). Interesting stuff:
If you want to understand how Pope Francis is planning to change the Catholic church, then don’t waste time searching for clues in the charming, self-effacing press conference he gave on the plane back from South Korea on Monday.

It’s easy to be misled by the Pope’s shoulder-shrugging interviews and impromptu phone calls.... The media has concluded that Francis wants the church to change its stance on divorcees and same-sex couples.

But the media are wrong. Neither of these subjects is high on Francis’s agenda — and, even if they were, he wouldn’t alter Catholic teaching on sexuality.

The first non-European Pope was elected to do one thing: reform the Roman Curia, the pitifully disorganised, corrupt and lazy central machinery of the church....

... To quote a senior bishop: ‘Benedict allowed the Roman Curia, and specifically the Italians in it, to kill his pontificate. Francis will not permit that to happen.’ He will strike first. (emphasis added)

Alice von Hildebrand, reflecting on her life: WHAT A LIFE!!!

Jim Graves, "Alice von Hildebrand: Reflecting on a Life of Teaching, Scholarship, and Prayer" (CWR, July 9, 2014):
Pope Francis recently recognized Alice von Hildebrand as a Dame Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory in recognition of her lifetime of work on behalf of the Church. She is originally from Brussels, Belgium, and came to the United States in 1940, as World War II began ravaging Europe.

Unable to find employment at a Catholic college, she began a 37-year career teaching philosophy at Hunter College, a public university in New York, beginning in 1947. She married Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) in 1959, two years after the death of his first wife. Since her husband’s death in 1977, she has devoted her time and energy to promoting his work. She is a prolific writer and gifted public speaker, eloquently sharing the message of the Gospel with Catholic audiences throughout the world.

Later this summer, Mrs. von Hildebrand will release her memoirs, Alice von Hildebrand: Memoirs of a Happy Failure (Saint Benedict Press). She recently spoke to CWR.
Read the interview. Amazing, as always with Dame Alice!!

[Hat tip to JM]

Monday, August 25, 2014

Anthony Trollope on preaching

Excerpted from Fro Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [these change weekly] (Assumption Grotto News, August 24, 2014):
"There is perhaps no greater hardship at present inflicted on manking in civilized and free countries, than the necessity of listening to sermons. No one but a preaching clergyman has, in these realms, the power of compelling an audience to sit silent, and be tormented. No one but a preaching clergyman can revel in platitudes, truisms, and untruisms, and yet receive, as his undisputed privilege, the same respectful demeanor as though words of impassioned eloquence, or persuasive logic, fell from his lips. Let a professor of law or physic find his place in a lecture-room and there pour forth jejune words and useless empty phrases and he will puor them forth to empty benches. Let a barrister (an attorney) attempt to talk without talking well, and he will talk but seldom ... A member of parliament can be coughed down or counted out. Town-councillors can be tabooed. But no one can rid himself of the preaching clergyman. He is the bore of the age ... the nightmare that disturbs our Sunday's rest ...

"We are not forced into church! No: but we desire more than that. We desire not to be forced to stay away. We desire, nay, we are resolute, to enjoy the comfort of public worship; but we desire also that we may do so without an amount of tedium which ordinary human nature cannot endure with patience; that we may be able to leave the house of God, without that anxious longing to escape, which is the common consequence of common sermons.

[Now as if addressing the preacher] "You must excuse me ... if I yawn over your imperfect sentences, your repeated phrases, your false pathos, your drawlings and denouncings, your humming and hawing, your oh-ing and ah-ing...

"And here I must make a protest against the pretense, so often put forward byt he working clergy, that they are overburdened by the multitude of sermons to be preached ... A preacher is encouraged by the vanity of making his voice heard by the privilege of a compelled audience. His sermon is the pleasant morsel of his life, his delicious moment of self-exaltation."

[There's a little more to it, but this should be enough for a smile to break out upon your faces. You need not fear guilt for detraction against your preaching priests to have enjoyed this delightful writing ... We priests at the Grotto do try hard, given our modest capabilities, to say what we feel we must for your edification and God's glory. 'Nough said.]
Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers, ch. 6: "War"

The problem with "Not" having a "personal relationship" with Jesus

Dr. Jay Boyd recently raised some concerns about what it means for Catholics to adopt this language in his article, "The Problem with a Personal Relationship with Jesus" (Homiletic and Pastoral Review, July 10, 2014).

Now Dr. Carole Brown has written a complementary piece entitled "The Problem with 'Not' Having a Personal Relationship with Jesus" (Homiletic and Pastoral Review, August 11, 2014).

The issue as discussed in these two pieces is detailed and complex, involving the question of personalist philosophy as it has become enshrined in magisterial documents since the pontificate of St. John Paul II, in particular.

But the issue can, I think, be put rather simply. What should a "personal relationship with Jesus" NOT mean for a Catholic? It should not mean a subjective relationship experienced as subsisting in isolation apart from the Church, her sacrament, and teaching.

What MAY a "personal relationship with Jesus" mean for a Catholic? Many things. (1) It can mean a subjectively experienced relationship that is more than sacramental, as for example when one makes a spiritual communion with Christ (without cutting ourselves off from the sacramental life of the Church). This is something incumbent upon all Catholics to cultivate as part of their response to St. Paul's injunction to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17). (2) It can also mean a sacramental relationship with Jesus, particularly when receiving the Eucharist. The Church stresses the objective component in this relationship, the fact that one receives Jesus whether one has any subjective experience of this or not. Another dimension of this is the relationship of being incorporated into the mystical Body of Christ via baptism, even while one is yet an infant and oblivious of what is happening. This is nonetheless a "personal relationship with Jesus." Still another dimension of this is the relationship of Old Testament "saints" to Jesus, not through any awareness of the historical Jesus, but through the "sacraments" of the Old Covenant, by which they were also incorporated into the mystical Body of Christ. (Yes, their salvation was through no other than Christ and a "personal relationship with Him," though mediated Levitical sacrifices anticipating the sacrifice of Christ.)

When all is said and done, however, the important thing for those of us who are adults is our response to the truth of God's revelation in Christ and through the Church. This is why the claims of the Gospel obtain also for the contemporary Jew. We are all called to communion with Christ through the Church and her Gospel. And those of us who are Catholic are called by our Lord through His Church to a conscious (and conscientious) response to a life of conversion and amendment of life -- in short, discipleship. This means that we cannot remain sacramentalized infants, much less sacramentalized pagans. We need to respond in faith, aware of all the levels and dimensions of our personal relationship with Jesus that we've received through our baptism and incorporation into His mystical Body.

We're not saved by information about Jesus that we know. Even infants and the Children of Israel in the Old Testament with no knowledge of Jesus are not excluded from the redemptive work of Christ. But for those of us living today who are beyond our minor years, knowing information about Jesus can play a decisive role in our acquisition of a personal relationship with Jesus of which we are consciously aware, a role, in fact, in our salvation.

[Hat tip to JM]

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Expressing solidarity with Syrian and Iraqi Christian martyrs

I've received a number of inquiries from people wishing to express in some way their solidarity with their fellow Christians in Syria and Iraq being persecuted and martyred for their faith. One such person recently asked where one could purchase a pin or T-shirt or bumper sticker with the Arabic letter 'n' used by ISIS agents to mark houses belonging to "Nazarenes," or Christian, as a warning to convert to Islam or be killed.

When I asked Christopher Blosser, he responded by saying that "the 'Voice of Martyrs' charity (inter-denominational Christian organization) is already doing this (although there are plenty of others, just google-image-search the symbol) or find it on zazzle:"

"If the purpose were to support the martyrs and victims of persecution -- it would probably be preferable to do it via this route, where 50% is going directly to Christians in Iraq.

"VOM’s new i-am-n T-shirt features an image of the Arabic letter “N” similar to those painted on the homes of Christians in northern Iraq by IS (Islamic State). The shirts cost $20 each, and $10 of each purchase will go directly to support our Iraqi brothers and sisters."

Zazzle also has stickers here:

Fascinating: Evelyn Waugh Face To Face BBC Interview

Quite stiff, awkward, a bit difficult; but if you love Waugh, fascinating. Some things about his conversion beginning around 15:30ff. And what he says about Protestants and "heathens" around 27:30ff. is positively endearing.

Regensburg, 2006: when Cardinal Bergoglio attacked Pope Benedict XVI

Antonio Socci comments:
From this news we deduce two important conclusions:

- Through his spokesman, Cardinal Bergoglio attacked Benedict XVI for his masterly discourse in Regensburg, and this makes sense of his present reticence about the Islamic butchers in Iraq. Cardinal Bergoglio attacked the Pope who came under attack from everyone as well as being under threat by the Islamic terrorists, even though - being a Cardinal – he had the particular duty to defend the Holy Father.

- I want to speak to all those who are launching anathemas at me today saying, “the Pope can’t be criticized.” What did Bergoglio do? He did it - even as a Cardinal, while the Pope was under threat.
Translation of the Libero Quotidiano article by Francesca Romana, "Libero Quotidiano: 'Islam: When Bergoglio attacked Ratzinger" (RC, August 23, 2014).

[Hat tip to JM]

Pope Francis used to be a Buenos Aires nighclub bouncer?

Just ran across an amusing factoid, in case you missed it: "Jorge Mario Bergoglio, current Pope ... worked as a bouncer in a Buenos Aires bar to earn money as a student." (Harry Alsop, "Pope Francis: 20 Things You Didn't Know," The Daily Telegraph, March 14, 2013). The Wikipedia entry on "Pope Francis" adds that it was at a "nightclub." Go figure!

Extraordinary Community News: Classes of Feasts, and Extraordinary Faith on EWTN

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

Tridentine Community News (August 24, 2014):
Classes of Feasts

The Catholic Calendar contains four primary classifications of Feast Days. Though the terminology has changed over the years, the concepts remain fairly consistent. The Vatican has established that those of us who follow the Extraordinary Form are to use the rubrics of 1962, plus whatever adaptations have been issued since the establishment of the Pontifical Commission Ecclésia Dei in 1988. Because so many hand missals exist, both originals and reprints, from the era prior to 1962, it is worth mentioning the former terminology.

First Class Feasts (Extraordinary Form 1962) / Doubles of the First Class (Extraordinary Form 1960 and prior) / Solemnities (Ordinary Form): These are the most important Feasts of the Church Year. Examples include Christmas, the days of Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A Funeral Mass, also known as the Exequial Mass, is classified as First Class. The Feast of the Patron Saint of a Parish or Diocese, and the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of a Diocese are also First Class, though in practice the latter is rarely given note at the parish level.

Second Class Feasts (EF 1962) / Doubles of the Second Class (EF 1960 and prior) / Feasts (OF): These are significant but not primary Feasts. Sundays After Pentecost, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Feasts of the Apostles are examples. The Greater Ferias of Advent, which are the Ferias in the week before Christmas, are a rare example of Ferias elevated to Second Class, as the Church wants the faithful to focus on preparing for the commemoration of our Lord’s Nativity. A Nuptial [Wedding] Mass is classified as Second Class, however it may not take place on a Sunday. If a Wedding Mass is scheduled on a First Class Feast Day, then the Mass of the Feast is observed instead of the Nuptial Mass Propers.

Third Class Feasts (EF 1962) / Greater Doubles, Doubles, and Semidoubles (EF 1960 and prior) / Memorials (OF): Most weekday Masses are Third Class Feasts, such as St. Hedwig, St. Lucy, and St. Ignatius Loyola. The Ferias of Lent and the Ferias of Advent excepting those in the week before Christmas are also Third Class Feasts, as the Church does not want them to be as easily replaceable as Fourth Class Feasts (see below). A Requiem Mass celebrated on the third, seventh, or thirtieth day after death is classified as Third Class.

Fourth Class Feasts (EF 1962) / Simples and Commemorations (EF 1960 and prior) / Optional Memorials (OF): These are either Ferias (repetition of the previous Sunday’s Mass Propers) or Saints of lesser significance. On Fourth Class Feasts, the Church allows for substitution of other Mass Propers at the celebrant’s discretion. Here in Detroit and Windsor, there is a demand for Requiem Masses – the Daily Mass for the Dead, usually followed by the ceremony of Absolution at the Catafalque – on many Fourth Class Feasts. Indeed, as you can see below, this Tuesday, August 26, a Requiem Mass displaces the Fourth Class Feast of St. Zephyrinus. Other options on Fourth Class Feasts include using one of the Votive Masses, such as the Votive Mass of the Angels or the Votive Mass for Pilgrims and Travelers. The Mass of any Saint may also be offered on any Fourth Class Feria. This means, for example, that the Mass of St. Raphael the Archangel may be celebrated, just as on his actual Feast Day.

Some Feast Days have Commemorations, a second set of Collects (Opening Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion) added for the Feast of secondary Saint(s) of the day. In rare instances a third set of Collects may be added, for example to commemorate the anniversary of ordination of the celebrating priest. On Sundays on which the celebrated Feast is not one of Our Lord, for example when the First Class Feast of the Assumption displaces a Sunday After Pentecost, a Commemoration of the displaced Sunday is made. A Commemoration is not made when the celebrated Feast is one of our Lord, for example when Corpus Christi is transferred to the Sunday.

Episode 2 of Extraordinary Faith: Now Viewable On-Line

The second episode of Extraordinary Faith, filmed at St. Paul’s Choir School in Boston, is now available for viewing on-line, at:

For those who prefer YouTube, it is also available there:, albeit at slightly lower quality.

The third episode of the series has been delivered to EWTN and is awaiting scheduling.

No Mass at the Academy on September 7

Because the school needs the chapel for the opening Mass of the school year, there will be no Tridentine Mass at the Academy of the Sacred Heart on Sunday, September 7. Mass will resume at the Academy on September 14 at 9:45 AM. The monthly reception will be held after Mass on September 14.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 08/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (St. Louis IX, King & Confessor)
  • Tue. 08/26 7:00 PM: High Requiem Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (Daily Mass for the Dead)
  • Fri. 08/29 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto (Beheading of St. John the Baptist) – Deacon Ed Gardner, ICRSS will preach the homily. Dinner for young adults age 18-35 follows Mass, organized by Juventútem Michigan
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for August 24, 2014. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Is "gay" sex good for anyone? Brute facts

What would you think if a relative, friend, or colleague had a condition that is routinely, even if not always, associated with the following problems:
  • A significantly decreased likelihood of establishing or preserving a successful marriage
  • A five- to ten-year decrease in life expectancy
  • Chronic, potentially fatal, liver disease --hepatitis
  • Inevitably fatal esophageal cancer
  • Pneumonia
  • Internal bleeding
  • Serious mental disabilities, many of which are irreversible
  • A much higher than usual incidence of suicide
  • A very low likelihood that its adverse effects can be eliminated unless the condition itself is eliminated
  • An only 30 percent likelihood of being eliminated through lengthy, often costly, and very time-consuming treatment in an otherwise unselected population of sufferers (although a very high success rate among highly motivated, carefully selected sufferers).
We can add four qualifications to this unnamed condition. First, even though its origins are influenced by genetics, the condition is, strictly speaking, rooted in behavior. Second, individuals who have this condition continue the behavior in spite of the destructive consequences of doing so. third, although some people with this condition perceive it as a problem and wish they could rid themselves of it, many others deny they have any problem at all and violently resist all attempts to "help" them. And fourth, these people who resist help tend to socialize with one another, sometimes exclusively and forma a kind of "subculture."

No doubt you would care deeply for someone close to you who had such a condition. And whether or not society considered it undesirable or even an illness, you would want to help. Undoubtedly, you would also consider it worth "treating," that is, you would seek to help your relative, friend, or colleague by eliminating the condition entirely.

The condition we are speaking of is alcoholism. Alcoholism is clearly undesirable precisely because of all the adverse conditions directly associated with it, although not every alcoholic develops all the problems associated with it.

Alcoholism is a form of compulsive or addictive behavior that has volitional, family, psychological, social, and genetic "causes." Whether it can be considered an "illness" in the strict sense makes for an interesting philosophical discussion but a useless practical one -- as is true for all addictions. Nonetheless, and in spite of the relatively modest "cure" rate, it is still well worth treating, and treating as though it were an illness (as does organized psychiatry, which lists it as a disorder), because of the enormously serious personal and social consequences of not doing so. And now imagine another friend or colleague who had a condition associated with a similar list of problems:
  • A significantly decreased likelihood of establishing or preserving a successful marriage
  • A twenty-five to thirty-year decrease in life expectancy
  • Chronic, potentially fatal, liver disease -- infectious hepatitis, which increases the risk of liver cancer
  • Frequently fatal rectal cancer
  • Multiple bowel and other infectious diseases
  • A much higher than usual incidence of suicide
  • A very low likelihood that its adverse effects can be eliminated unless the condition itself is
  • An at least 50 percent likelihood of being eliminated through lentghy, often costly, and very time-consuming treatment in an otherwise unselected group of sufferers (although a very high success rate, in some instances nearing 100 percent, for groups of highly motivated, carefully selected individuals)
As with alcoholism: First, even though its origins may be influenced by genetics, the condition is, strictly speaking, a pattern of behavior; second, individuals who have this condition continue in the behavior in spite of the destructive consequences of doing so; third, although some people with this condition perceive it as a problem and wish they could rid themselves of it, many others deny they have any problem at all and violently resist all attempts to "help" them; and fourth, some of the people with this condition -- especially those who deny it is a problem -- tend to socialize almost exclusively with one another and form a "subculture."

This condition is homosexuality. Yet despite the parallels between the two conditions, what is striking today are the sharply different responses to them....

Gay activists deliberately paint a picture of homosexual life, especially among men, that is the counterpart of heterosexual life. Their purpose is to avoid alienating support from sympathetic heterosexuals who constitute the vast majority of people. For example, one activist handbook [M. Kirk and H. Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays, 1989] advises: "In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims.... Persons featured in the media campaign should be ... indistinguishable from the straights we'd like to reach." Another [M. Kirk and E. Pill, "The Overhauling of Straight America," Guide, November 1987, p. 24] advises: "The masses must not be repulsed by premature exposure to homosexual behavior itself."

In spite of clear evidence that homosexual standards are strikingly different from the heterosexual norm, the general public impression has been created that gays are little different from straights. The above quotations show the keen awareness of some gay activists for the need for deceptive cover. But in many cases it seems as though many gays have bought this artificially constructed picture in all hopefulness.

Excerpted from Jeffrey Satinover, M.D., Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth(Baker Books, 2004), pp. 49-52.

Dr. Jeffrey Satinover has practiced psychoanalysis and psychiatry for more than twenty years. He is a former Fellow in Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry at Yale University and past William James Lecturer in Psychology and Religion at Harvard. He holds degrees from M.I.T., Harvard University, and the University of Texas. He and his wife have three children.


Tridentine Masses coming to the metro Detroit and East Michigan area this week

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Friday, August 22, 2014

A great piece on Pope Benedict and the Latin Mass

In case you missed it, here is a very well-written piece by Michael Brendan Dougherty, "In defense of Pope Benedict and the Latin Mass" (The Week, July 9, 2014). I've probably referred to this before, but it's just too good to have missed and worth revisiting.

[Hat tip to JM]

A brotherly dissent: an open letter to Dave Armstrong on 'splainin' Pope Francis

I found myself a bit disappointed, Dave. You've written so many good things before this. I finally got around to reading your book Pope Francis Explained recently, and, I'm sorry, but I guess I was expecting something different. I don't question for a moment your goodwill towards the Holy Father, your fidelity to the Magisterium, or your zeal for Holy Mother Church. But I'm disappointed for at least two reasons. Not bad, really, just two.

First, although your book purports to explain how Pope Francis has been misunderstood and show how his words can be properly understood, in many cases you do not really do this. Rather, you quote passages from the Pope's writings and speeches where he clearly defends Church teaching. To your credit, such quotations might be of help to secular progressives or dissenting Catholics who actually dislike or don't know the Church's positions, if any of them were interested enough to read your book. But that's not the problem that many others see here. The problem, rather, is that many of the Pope's statements (not just their interpretations) are themselves ambiguous, and feed the fire of glee among the dissenters and alarm among the faithful; and simply smoothing over this problem by insisting on what you think the Pope surely must have meant does not address this problem.

Many of those who have expressed concern, if not alarm, over the ambiguities and confusions found in the Pope's own words are not “reactionaries” on the “extreme right” or only “a hair's breadth from schism,” or even “mainstream traditionalists” who “prefer the Tridentine Mass,” to quote you. Rather, they are men and women numbered among my own colleagues and friends – people like Dr. Janet Smith, Dr. Monica Miller, Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Dr. Eduardo Echeverria, Dr. Mark Latkovic, and others. None of them would think of accusing the Holy Father of heresy or not being the legitimate pope, but many of them have expressed (1) real concerns (especially in the beginning) as to whether he was securely “on board” with the Church's teachings on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and so on, although these concerns were fairly quickly allayed by emerging publications and statements showing that the Pope has stalwartly defended the Church's perennial position on those issues (as you, too, have stressed); and many of them (2) continue to be concerned about ambiguities and conflicting signals, not merely mis-communicated by irresponsible media, but resident within the Pope's own often “off-the-cuff” remarks. Some of these concerns are summarized, for example, by Dr. Miller here and here.

In your treatment of the La Civiltà Cattolica interview, you don't really ever address the problem of these off-the-cuff remarks and the confusion they have caused. You admit that the style of delivery might differ significantly, but that the substance remains unchanged. Yet you don't acknowledge any sort of real problem. You cite Jimmy Akin's hypothesis that the Pope is trying to fight against being “stereotyped” by the liberal secular media. Whether this hypothesis is plausible or not is beside the point, however. The elephant in the room is the confusion provoked by the Holy Father's remarks among both agnostic secularists and Catholics. Even Jimmy Akin acknowledges this difficulty in a passage you quote (p. 117), where he writes: “Time will tell whether [the Pope's] 'fight the stereotypes, go with the central message' approach will lead to the results he desires ….” But you don't address this.

In your chapter devoted to “Pro-Life” issues, for example, you offer quotation-after-quotation from Pope Francis, calling to witness words with which he has clearly defended the Church's teaching on life issues. Not once, however, do you address the problems that provoked the serious dismay expressed by good Catholics like Dr. Monica Miller or Dr. Janet Smith, such as the Pope ostensibly dismissing pro-life concerns like contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage as “obsessions” of those immersed in “small-minded rules.” Whatever the “strategy” that may have animated the Holy Father's words, he has nowhere made this known, and he has left multitudes in confusion, or, worse, confirmed in their errors. And your counsel that “those who are intended to get it [his meaning], will get it,” is hardly a viable hermeneutic.

Second, although your book claims to steer a path between the extremes of “progressives” on the left and “reactionaries” on the right, it also tends to group under the heading of “reactionaries” any Catholics who are publicly critical of the Holy Father's often confusing remarks. Your definition of those who are “radically Catholic reactionary” is:
... a rigorist, divisive group completely separate from mainstream “traditionalism” that continually, vociferously, and vitriolically (as marked characteristic or defining trait) bashes and trashes popes, Vatican II, the New Mass, and ecumenism (the “big four”): going as far as they can go without technically crossing over the canonical line of schism. In effect, they become their own popes: exercising private judgment in an unsavory fashion, much as (quite ironically) Catholic liberals do, and as Luther and Calvin did when they rebelled against the Church... [I used to think that, until I realized they were voicing the views of Popes like St. Pius X]. They must assume a condescending “superior-subordinate” orientation.
Strong language, to say the least.

Yet your distinction between “radical reactionary” and “mainstream traditionalist” Catholics, while well-intentioned, is anything but tidy in application. How would you classify Michael Voris, who refuses to criticize the Pope but has produced exposés sharply critical of (a) “liturgical reforms” following Vatican II (“Weapons of MASS Destruction”), (b) the way Communion in the hand was introduced in the west (“Reception Deception”), (c) and of many other facets of the contemporary “church of nice,” and (d) bishops like Cardinal Dolan who waffle in their public statements about gays, Muslims, etc.? How would you classify someone who published statements like the following?
What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it -- as in a manufacturing process -- with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.
The passage, of course is from former Cardinal Ratzinger's Introduction to Msgr. Klaus Gamber's Reform of the Roman Liturgy, describing the Mass cobbled together by Fr. Bugnini's Consilium, which Fr. Joseph Gelineau, S.J. famously called the “permanent workshop” of liturgical innovation. Would you classify him as “a rigorist,” “divisive,” someone who “vociferously, and vitriolically … trashes Vatican II and the New Mass?”

Furthermore, your poster boy for your definition of “radical Catholic reactionary” is the blog Rorate Caeli, which, according to your definition, represents a perspective that is “completely separate from mainstream 'traditionalism' that continually, vociferously, and vitriolically … bashes and trashes popes, Vatican II, the New Mass, and ecumenism … etc.” Yet Rorate Caeli, which you acknowledge as “one of the most influential [traditionalist] blogs” online, features numerous guest editorials by priests and other authors from all over the world, with frequent features of spiritual writing from Church history, promotions of prayer for various causes (Purgatorial Society Masses, etc.), along with many exposés of various goings-on that should concern faithful Catholics everywhere. To suggest, because of its haste in sounding alarms or a “gotcha” moment of guilt-by-association with a source whose unrelated writings may be objectionable, that Rorate Caeli is “completely separate from the mainstream 'traditionalism',” or that it “continually vociferously, and vitriolically bashes and trashes popes, Vatican II, the New Mass, ecumenism” etc., is not simply uncharitable, but untrue.

If there is a theme of criticism of these sorts of things, it is not because of any incipient rejection or rebellion against the institution of the Papacy, or against the authority of an ecumenical council like Vatican II, or against the licitness or validity of the new Mass, or the importance of ecumenical overtures toward reunion of the Eastern Orthodox or Protestants with Rome, but because of genuine problems that attach to the understanding and implementation of each of these in our own times. Why does a book that purports to explain Pope Francis not address these problems? Problems like (1) the democratization of the ecclesial hierarchy that seems to have reduced the role of the Vicar of Christ to that of a rock star and public news commentator; or (2) the misunderstandings fostered by passages in Vatican II documents (like Sacrosanctum Concilium, Nostra Aetate, and Gaudium et Spes) that, according to Cardinal Kasper, include deliberate ambiguities inserted as “compromises” into the text capable of diverse interpretations, provoking Bishop Athanasius Schneider, at a conference in Rome, to call for a new “Syllabus of Errors” to clarify the proper interpretation of Vatican II; or (3) what Pope Benedict XVI has called the “trivialization” of the Mass, not to mention the mainstreaming of numerous innovations nowhere mandated by Vatican II, such as having the priest turn his back on God in order to face the people, tearing down magnificent altars and replacing them with tables, removing altar rails, introducing lay lectors, lay Eucharistic “ministers,” Communion in the hand while standing rather than kneeling, substituting banal “praise music” for Gregorian chant and polyphany, and the marketplace vernacular for Latin, etc.; and (4) the effective sabotaging of the New Evangelization by an “ecumenism” that suggests, in effect, that all may be saved, and that there is certainly no pressing urgency to formal membership in the Catholic Church (as when the Holy Father advised Tony Palmer against converting, or when, without definition, he called proselytism “solemn nonsense”)?

I know the “explanations” that are brought forward for all of these troubling developments, explanations intended to show how, when all is said and done, they actually conform hand-in-glove with Church teaching. I also know how the enterprise of offering such explanations has become something of a major growth industry among conservative Catholics in the United States. What I fear, however, is that these ultimately tend to “explain away” rather than “explain,” because they don't address the real damage these problems are causing.

Hitherto when I heard accusations of “neo-Ultramontanism or “papolatry” hurled toward faithful Catholics such as yourself in the “explanation” industry, I dismissed them as excessive. However, when efforts to defend the Holy Father, Vatican II, the new Mass, and ecumenism (to take what you call the “big four”) turn into an exercise in seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and saying no evil about these things (where evils in fact exist), these efforts seem a trifle disingenuous. Rather than demonizing those who see problems here, why wouldn't it be the more prudent and virtuous course to supplement your defense of Church teaching with an honest acknowledgment of the genuine problems where they do exist. To do so would not mean to impugn the authority of the Pope or the Second Vatican Council, or to question the legitimacy or validity of the new Mass or ecumenical initiatives (properly understood). In fact, it would mean a more credible and robust defense of Church authority and defense of the Holy Father. Maybe you don't consider tackling such problems part of your apostolate, and I'd understand that. But even a nod of the head in recognition that there are some genuine problems here might make your efforts to “explain” Pope Francis a lot more successful and credible.

Kind regards, PP


Maureen Mullarkey, "Francis in Wonderland" (First Things, May 30, 2014):
The papacy is swaddled in sycophancy in the best of times. Add to that the exultant adulation induced by celebrity culture. It is a heady mix that can beguile a decent man into a grandiose conception of himself that blinds him to the limits of his office. And encourages conceit in his own sympathies.

Francis’ excursion into Middle East politics illustrated the danger of a pope assuming office as a saint-in-waiting. His incautious behavior ought to have received more scrutiny from the Catholic press than it did. Instead, the amen chorus crooned about peace, prayer, and fraternal dialogue, as if fine words pull the sting from the scorpion’s tail.
And so it goes on.

Related: Maureen Mullarkey, "Misuse of Prayer" (First Things, May 19, 2014).

[Hat tip to JM]

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"The Tale of Those Nasty Liberals Who Hijacked Poor Ol’ Vatican Two"

Another title might have been: "Why deny objective truth when you can make it irrelevant?" or "Orthodoxy can be defeated by direct refutation or by being marginalized as optional."

But Elliot Bougis writes, in "By their fruits" (FideCogitActio, August 16, 2014):
When the spirit of a council dictates, almost from day one, how the documents of a council are to be read and applied, then that spirit is the true fruit of the council, regardless what the documents may say. Luckily, the Church has never fallen into this trap, so keep calm and party on, right?

This is the conservative paradox: the same people who are blamed for “hijacking The Council” are those to whom pious submission must be given in the implementation of The Council. Conspiracy theories are generally taboo among conservatives, but The Tale of Those Nasty Liberals Who Hijacked Poor Ol’ Vatican Two is one conspiracy theory still very much in vogue. The documents have borne the fruits we see (and will probably keep seeing, for a long time to come) because the seeds of said fruit are embedded in the documents themselves. This is why, as Bp. Schneider reminds us, the documents must be subjected to a thorough magisterial pruning, so that the vigor of the Pastoral Mandate can be matched by the tradition of doctrinal security.

Meanwhile, the unrelenting cry for MOAR COUNCIL has a bizarre way of leading to the very abuses which The Council is supposed to have saved us. The Council cannot be a final harbor. It was a milestone, but the Church keeps moving, and I think the Church needs to either enforce the documents with a zeal that any “rad trad” would admire, or needs to admit that The V2 Experiment has failed. The Church will–and must–go on, but, pragmatically speaking, The Spirit of The Council is the clear winner these days. It is heroic of laymen to hold the magisterial line, but it is properly the duty of the episcopal college to get the led out and get our house in order. No “pastoral” strategy is guaranteed infallible immunity.

At the same time, I’m floored that unflinching defenders of Vatican II at least admit that the V2 documents shouldn’t but in fact can be read in a discontinuous, heterodox way. Can the same be said of any prior council? And even if it could be, it was the purpose of a later council authoritatively to rectify such problems. No one in the hierarchy is seriously calling for such a correction. Everything Is Awesome. Except, darn it, this time we need to really implement The Council. There’s that creeping conspiracy theory again.

I don’t see how we can have it both ways. If V2 is to be judged not as a dogmatic intervention but as a pastoral endeavor, and should therefore not be held to such rigorous intellectual standards as prior councils, then the manifest deterioration and disorientation of the Church in certain ways should suffice to show how the pastoral endeavor has been derailed on its own terms. Rather than being read in an orthodox sense, the conciliar ambiguity in question reverses the entire hermeneutic by subjecting past teaching to endless debate and doubt in the superdogma event horizon that V2 has, despite its intended “humility”, become. To cite prior councils is to be labeled a rad trad, which is pretty astounding a charge. As Brunero Gherardini had persuasively argued, what is need is not a declamation of continuity, but a demonstration of it, and the only possible resources for such a demonstration reside in the very things that get one labeled a rad trad. V2 is the most self-referential council in the Church’s history, which is why, like any spiraling mass, it sucks everything else into its gravitational pull, and contorts it all into a shape of its own making.

The documents were not presented as platforms of change. How could a merely pastoral council aim to extend or settle dogmatic issues? The entire premise of the council, at least officially, is that the Church was simply restating long-standing doctrine. Yet, there followed a torrent of adaptation and compromise which the documents had not explicitly decreed. By avoiding the pastoral latitude that it did, the council left the door open for “the spirit of Vatican II”, which is, predictably enough, the impulse which has prevailed for decades. This is why the Church is in the tumult of a collective swing back to the center, and I am baffled why it’s so scandalous for Catholics to point out this disorientation and put V2 in its place, as it were. No one is meant to live at the peripheries of doctrinal coherence. The world has always been crazy. Human nature has not changed. It was the historical chauvinism of the V2 Fathers which led them to presume that the Church was in a new world. Blinded by a naive progressivism, the Fathers gave us a shining example of an old trick: orthodoxy can be defeated by a direct refutation or by being marginalized as optional. The latter strategy has been highly effective for decades now. Dogma doesn’t have to be changed in order to permit a revolution. It can simply be marginalized as irrelevant compared to more pressing Pastoral Needs of The People. Why deny objective truth when you can make it irrelevant?
Guy Noir, in one of those rare moments of Garrison Keillor-like depressed humor, declared: "I am rather convinced that Vatican II is to councils what the New American Bible is to translations.

"If either were not forced on us, the only ones to ever cite them would be liberals. Vatican II is not much more orthodox than Karl Barth, in the final analysis. That is my contention."

[Hat tip to GN]

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And now for something on the more positive side

An interview with The Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. ('93): "God Has Been Generous" (Thomas Aquinas College, California, July 15, 2014).

[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

What's the value of something like this?

"Hundreds attend interreligious prayer for peace in Denver" (CNA, August 19, 2014):
Denver, Colo., Aug 13, 2014 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An estimated 900 people of the three Abrahamic religions packed the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver Monday night for an interreligious prayer service for those suffering in the Middle East.

Fr. Andre Mahanna, director Maronite eparchy's interfaith office, opened the service, explaining that the danger of persecution reaches beyond the members of those particular minority groups.

“(The violence) is against all people who believe in God, in culture, in civilization, and in the common good,” he said. “It is against the honest faith that humans are good beings, that what God created … (is) something good.”

Fr. Mahanna then asked all those in attendance to clap their hands as a gesture of solidarity in peace and against the gruesome murders and tortures of recent weeks in the Middle East.

“Let us clap our hands to make a statement … that the sound of our hands joined together in prayer and in true human love are way stronger and more effective and way more powerful than the sounds of the bombs (ISIS) are using to kill every human being on earth, starting in the Middle East.”

Intercessions were then led by religious leaders representing various religions, including Catholic and Orthodox Churches from the Middle East; Protestant and Catholic representatives from Western Christianity; rabbis; and sheikhs and imams.

Following the intercessions were readings from the religions' three holy texts - the Quran, the Pentateuch, and the Gospel - and an address from Archbishop Aquila, who said the test of a true religion is whether it promotes both love of God and of neighbor.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

Monday, August 18, 2014

Slouching toward the Synod?

Robert Spaemann, "Divorce and Remarriage" (First Things, August 2014), has an incisive analysis and summary of what's at stake:
The divorce statistics for modern Western societies are catastrophic. They show that marriage is no longer regarded as a new, independent reality transcending the individuality of the spouses, a reality that, at the very least, cannot be dissolved by the will of one partner alone. But can it be dissolved by the consent of both parties, or by the will of a synod or a pope? The answer must be no, for as Jesus himself explicitly declares, man cannot put asunder what God himself has joined together. Such is the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The Christian understanding of the good life claims to be valid for all human beings. Yet even Jesus’s disciples were shocked by their Master’s words: Wouldn’t it be better, then, they replied, not to marry at all? The astonishment of the disciples underscores the contrast between the Christian way of life and the way of life dominant in the world. Whe­ther it wants to or not, the Church in the West is on its way to becoming a counterculture, and its future now depends chiefly on whether it is able, as the salt of the earth, to keep its savor and not be trampled underfoot by men.

The beauty of the Church’s teaching can shine forth only when it’s not watered down. The temptation to dilute doctrine is reinforced nowadays by an unsettling fact: Catholics are divorcing almost as frequently as their secular counterparts. Something has clearly gone wrong. It’s against all reason to think that all civilly divorced and remarried Catholics began their first marriages firmly convinced of its indissolubility and then fundamentally reversed themselves along the way. It’s more reasonable to assume that they entered into matrimony without clearly realizing what they were doing in the first place: burning their bridges behind them for all time (which is to say until death), so that the very idea of a second marriage simply did not exist for them.

Sadly, the Catholic Church is not without blame. Christian marriage preparation very often fails to give engaged couples a clear picture of the implications of a Catholic wedding. Were that so, many couples would very likely decide against being married in the Church. For others, of course, good marriage preparation would provide a helpful impetus to conversion. There is an immense appeal in the idea that the union of a man and a woman is “written in the stars,” that it endures on high, and that nothing can destroy it, both “in good times and in bad.” This conviction is a wonderful and exhilarating source of strength and joy for spouses working through marital crises and seeking to breathe new life into their old love.

Instead of reinforcing the natural, intuitive appeal of marital permanence, many churchmen, including bishops and cardinals, prefer to recommend, or at least to consider, another option, one that is an alternative to Jesus’s teaching and basically a capitulation to the secular mainstream. The remedy for the adultery entailed by remarriage of the divorced, we are told, is no longer to be contrition, renunciation, and forgiveness but the passage of time and habit, as if general social acceptance and our personal comfort with our decisions and lives have an almost supernatural power. This alchemy supposedly transforms an adulterous concubinage that we call a “second marriage” into an acceptable union to be blessed by the Church in God’s name. Given this logic, of course, it is only fair for the Church to bless homosexual partnerships as well.

But this way of thinking is based on a profound error. Time is not creative. Its passage does not restore lost innocence. In fact, its tendency is always just the opposite—namely, to increase entropy. Every instance of order in nature is wrested from the grip of entropy and over time eventually falls under its dominion once again. As Anaximander puts it, “From whence things arise, to that they eventually return, according to the appointed time.” It would be wrong to repackage the principle of decay and death as something good. We should not confuse the gradual deadening of the sense of sin with its disappearance and release from our ongoing responsibility for it.

Aristotle taught that there is a greater evil in habitual sin than in a single lapse accompanied by the sting of remorse. Adultery is a case in point, especially when it leads to new, legally sanctioned arrangements—“remarriage”—that are almost impossible to undo without great pain and effort. Thomas Aquinas uses the term perplexitas to characterize cases like these. They are situations from which there is no escape that does not incur guilt of one sort or another. Even a single act of infidelity entangles the adulterer in perplexity: Should he confess his deed to his spouse or not? If he confesses, he might just save the marriage and, in any case, he avoids a lie that would eventually destroy mutual trust. On the other hand, a confession could pose an even greater threat to the marriage than the sin itself (which is why priests often counsel penitents against revealing infidelity to their spouses). Note, by the way, that St. Thomas teaches that we never stumble into perplexitas without some measure of personal guilt and that God allows this as a punishment for the sin that initially set us down the wrong path.

Why Assumption Grotto?

A little something special, written in advance of the Feast of the Assumption, from Fr. Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, August 17, 2014). The Feast of the Assumption is a particularly special day for Assumption Grotto Church, and we see a small window opened onto this small, blessed "island" of Catholic faith amidst the desolation of East Detroit. Enjoy.

A Pastor's Descant
Lacking the power of clairvoyance (there are limits to sacerdotal abilities), I can’t foretell the outcome of our feast day, writing as I must in advance of the day. I shall hope and pray that many will be highly graced through the homage given the Mother of our Lord on that day.

Sometimes I question myself about the relevance of our Shrine. Is it really a special place? I see in the promo advertizing our feast day, “Just like Lourdes,” and I wonder if this isn’t a bit over the top, as they say. (By the way, I do not write these materials, though I’m very grateful to those who do. I’m responsible – some would say irresponsible – only for my sermons, the grandiloquent outpourings of the Grotto News, my correspondences, etc.) After due consideration of the question, I have concluded that there is indeed something special about our Lourdes Grotto.

The indicators of this are first an historical one. We boast of having the oldest outdoor Marian shrine in the State of Michigan. There’s sometime to be said for antiquity and longevity of such a devotion. Then there is the testimony, written and verbal, of wondrous happenings at the Grotto over the years. The visible witness of many crutches, canes, and wheelchairs which at one time nearly littered the far wall of the Grotto were removed by one of my predecessors many years ago – he being caught up in that notorious ‘spirit’ of Vatican II, deeming the display an embarrassment in an enlightened age.

Fortunately my immediate predecessor, upon a stroke of good luck (pardon the profane expression), came upon those few remnants attesting to cures. These, encased, are on display in our shrine lounge. The letters and other written documents we have (not all of them have been preserved) also claim that special graces, spiritual and physical, have taken place upon a devout visit to our Lady’s Grotto. Thus far, two ways in which we are ‘like Lourdes.’

There is however another likeness, one that is also a convincing sign of divine favor. It is the persistent presence of so many people from this area (and beyond) who come here as pilgrims. Whether they get anything special or whether they come to give something special doesn’t matter. They come. There is then a divine commerce that takes place in our parish, and especially, I would say, on our feast day. And if so, it makes this a holy place. I am reminded here of Jacob’s ladder (Genesis) with angels ascending and descending upon it: holy aspirations and prayers (with the sacrifice of the Mass) arising; grace, consolation and healing coming down. Bethel is the name of that biblical place, the evidence that God, for reasons of His own, chooses certain places to manifest His presence in a particularly striking way.

I have never wanted to make sensational claims about what we have here. On the other hand, I would not wish to shortchange the Lord and our Lady by failing to acknowledge their beneficence. The facts speak for themselves: the long history, the reports of the witnesses, and the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful), the presence of so many people who come to our parish to honor Our Lady of Lourdes on the day of Her Assumption.

Liturgically speaking, this is a one - day event only (the Tridentine liturgy has also a preparatory day on the 14th: the Vigil of the Assumption). We have also been making a preparatory novena for the feast day, as has been our custom. Moreover, we make a sort of informal ‘‘octave of our feast day by retaining the richer altar coverings and the adorning flowers until the 22nd of August, which is either the feast of the Queenship of Mary (new calendar) or of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Tridentine calendar).

I will have to leave off here to fret a bit about making a schedule for our feast day, about many details for it, and about what I might say in my sermon. May the Lord give success to the work of our hands! (Psalm 89).

-- Fr. Perron

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Thee" and "vouchsafe"

Again, my pet peeve: how so many hymns and prayers have been revised to omit those "offensive" words like "Thee," "Thou" and "Thy" to substitute the egalitarian, familiar and nondescript "You" and "Your." [I know this is an absolute non-issue for many of my readers, and they needn't read on.]

Sometimes it's almost comical. Like many of you, doubtless, I make use of those lovely prayers by St. Thomas Aquinas before and after Holy Communion. I have a little card in my Missal with these prayers, which doubles as a bookmark.

The comical part is that all the offending "Thees" and "Thous" have been removed, substituting "You" and "Your," even though ALL OF US continue to use the older form of address in the Our Father and Hail Mary ...

... AND here's the kicker: they still retain the word "VOUCHSAFE"! [There are other even worse translations.]
Therefore, I implore the abundance of YOUR measureless bounty that YOU would VOUCHSAFE to heal my infirmity ..."
... and again
I give You thanks, holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, that YOU have VOUCHSAFED to feed me, a sinner, YOUR unworthy servant, for no merits of my own ..."
Is this not hysterical?? They keep a word like "vouchsafe," which probably only one in a dozen people understands today, but dump "Thou," "Thee," "Thy" and "Thine"!

Don't get me wrong, "vouchsafe" is a perfectly noble word meaning to "graciously grant" something. My own sense of the language of the prayers in English translation is that it would be much better served by retaining the older forms in toto, rather than trying to modernize them and throwing a philistine indignity like "YOU" in amidst the dignified references to "almighty" and "everlasting" and "imploring" God's "measureless bounty."

Keep "YOU" for the ordinary language of today. Keep the language of prayer noble, elevated, respectful, and dignified. "Hallowed by THY name. THY kingdom come. THY will be done ... Blessed art THOU among women, and blessed is the fruit of THY womb, Jesus."

Related: David Mills, "Lewis & Orwell on Language" (Patheos, July 9, 2014).

"Get with the program": women bishops

Our undercover correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, wired us a telegram two weeks ago when the news came out about the Church of England voting to ordain women bishops.

"You know," said the lengthy telegram, "Catholics will scoff at the Archbishop being advised by David Cameron, but I wonder how very different that is i-n s-p-i-r-i-t from the Pope giving repeated interviews to atheists?"

Indeed, I had just read that of the 12 media interviews granted by Pope Francis, eleven were with secular atheists. Maybe he's trying to reach out ...

Noir continued: "It is all of the same cloth of openness to the world and feeling the need for the church to be tutored.

"And while I am at it," the text went on, "if this is not an instance of a very real and obvious teaching moment, what is? 'I don't understand? Don't Catholics value women too? Why can't women be priests? See, the C.O.E. [Church of England] is going through all this too! Aren't they also Christians and partners in the Gospel?'

"Silence simply adds strength to the secular argument. The modernist movement can't be contained or countered by being nice.

"I wish I had access to the profile of the female bishop of D.C. (Episcopal) in the new issue of the W-a-s-h-i-n-g-t-o-n-i-a-n Magazine. It shows you what we will be up against for the next decade."

Albert Mohler, in his essay on the matter, begins with the following observation:
Writing about the age of John Milton, the British author A. N. Wilson once tried to explain to modern secular readers that there had once been a time when bishops of the Church of England were titanic figures of conviction who were ready to stand against the culture. “It needs an act of supreme historical imagination to be able to recapture an atmosphere in which Anglican bishops might be taken seriously,” he wrote, “still more, one in which they might be thought threatening.”
Hmmmm ... Food for thought.

Then he concludes with this:
The Rt. Rev. William Ralph Inge, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in the early 20th century, once famously remarked: “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.” Now, that is a word from an Anglican we all need to hear.
Hmmmm. More food for thought.

To Know Pope Francis

Amazing how one normal, honest reposter makes 100 Catholic "talking heads" look so, well, like so many "talking heads."

George Conger, "Would the Real Pope Please Stand" (The Media Project, August, 5, 2014): "Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio? The Argentine cardinal who 500 days ago became Pope Francis? Why, from a journalistic perspective, do we know so little about someone who talks so much?"

Among the offerings, are The Catholic News Service's translations of the pope's 10 lessons for happy living:
  1. “Live and let live.”
  2. “Be giving of yourself to others.”
  3. “Proceed calmly” in life.
  4. Have “a healthy sense of leisure.”
  5. "Sunday is for family.”
  6. Be “creative” with young people and find innovative ways to create dignified jobs.
  7. Respect and take care of nature.
  8. Stop being negative. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy,” he said.
  9. “The worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes.”
  10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said. “The call for peace must be shouted.”
Concludes Conger:
Of Francis' eleven interviews, ten have been with secular reporters from secular newspapers. The results are interviews that show a Francis who is curiously similar to his interlocutor. Is the pope manipulating the press or is the press manipulating the pope? After 500 days in office, the real Jorge Mario Bergoglio remains elusive.

And if you want to have some "fun," search Google for responses to this article.

[Hat tip to JM]

L'Express: "The strength of Pope Francis is the people"

Claire Chartier, "La force du pape François, c'est le peuple" (L'Express, August 18, 2015), seems to suggest that the authority of the Pope comes from the people, rather than God. "A well-known American journalist has told me, "He's become our new Mandela," she quotes Andrea Riccardi as declaring.

Of course that's the half-inebriated secular European mainstream media, so who cares? Right?

But one reader, after reading Rorate's take on this, writes in to suggest that although the latter's article may be right, it may also be beside the point. The reader asks: "Does the POPE think his authority comes form God, and does he project that? I would argue he certainly does NOT convey that impression. How does he regard the pronouncements of his predecessors? Who could tell? If the sense he creates is as this piece says, that is the prominent point. The corrective.... well, again, why are we at a point where we need such a corrective?"

Ach, nicht schon wieder!

Extraordinary Community News: Interesting Books on Sacred Liturgy, and St. Albertus Mass Mob

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

Tridentine Community News (August 17, 2014):
Interesting Books by Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Fr. Uwe-Michael Lang, and Fr. Jonathan Robinson

Over the past ten years, a few notable books have been published that stand out as worthwhile reads for Catholics who have an interest in traditional liturgy:

Raymond Cardinal Burke is perhaps the most outspoken advocate of Sacred Tradition among the current Princes of the Church. His track record of supporting the Extraordinary Form by attending Latin Mass conferences, celebrating the Mass at high-profile public events, and performing ordinations has no equal. From his initial invitation of the Institute of Christ the King to establish their first apostolate in North America while he was Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, to his ordination of priests for the Institute just last week in St. Louis, Missouri, Cardinal Burke travels the world to give encouragement and hope to those who prefer the Tridentine Mass. In July, 2012, during his annual talk at the Fota Liturgy Conference in Cork, Ireland, His Eminence announced the publication of his book, Divine Love Made Flesh: The Holy Eucharist as the Sacrament of Charity.A relatively slim volume of 200 pages, the book addresses why the Eucharist must be central to the life of every Catholic because of its transformative role. His Eminence also discusses, in straightforward and easily understandable language, why our worship must be reverent, and why adoration should be a key spiritual practice.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider is an Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Astana, Kazakhstan. He is known in metro Detroit as a member of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, the religious community whose members include local Tridentine Mass celebrants Fr. Wolfgang Seitz, Fr. Matthew Hincks, and Fr. Titus Kieninger. Bishop Schneider is best known internationally for his 60 page 2009 book, Dominus Est – It Is the Lord! Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion,a defense of the traditional practice of distributing Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. Malcom Cardinal Ranjith, also known for his liturgical orthodoxy, wrote the preface. Bishop Schneider has traveled extensively speaking on this subject, including at a Call to Holiness conference locally a few years ago. After reading this book, one can reasonably conclude that many of the Church’s problems could be remedied by returning to more traditional practices of distributing Holy Communion, as the pervasive visual example and experience of such practices can do more to promote belief in the Real Presence than words could.

Fr. Uwe-Michael Lang is another familiar face on the liturgical conference circuit. A young priest of the London’s Brompton Oratory, Fr. Lang has spoken at C.I.E.L. conferences in the U.K., at Sacra Liturgia in Rome, and just last month taught a summer course at The Liturgical Institute at Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary. He served as a staff member on the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship. When in London he is a regular celebrant of the Oratory’s various Masses and Vespers services. In 2005, Fr. Lang published Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer,a book which advocates ad oriéntem celebration of the Mass, the traditional orientation where priest and people face the same direction, facing our Lord on the altar. Fr. Lang’s follow-up work, 2012’s The Voice of the Church at Prayer: Reflections on Liturgy and Language,addresses the importance of sacral language, both in the new English translation of the Ordinary Form, and in the resurging popularity of employing Latin in the Ordinary Form. Both books clearly draw on Fr. Lang’s experience celebrating and assisting at the exemplary Ordinary and Extraordinary Form liturgies at the London Oratory.

Fr. Jonathan Robinson, Founder and Superior of the Toronto Oratory and celebrant of the Windsor Tridentine Community’s 20th Anniversary Mass in 2011, wrote 2005’s The Mass and Modernity: Walking to Heaven Backward,which seeks to explain the current state of Catholic Liturgy and solutions for returning reverence to the Mass. As with Fr. Lang, Fr. Robinson draws on his extensive experience overseeing solemn liturgies at the Oratory and its affiliated seminary.

St. Albertus Filled to Capacity for Detroit Mass Mob

Last Sunday, August 10, the Detroit Mass Mob attended the 11:00 AM Ordinary Form Mass at St. Albertus Church. For the first time possibly in its entire history, the enormous church was filled to capacity. Approximately 2,500 people were estimated to have been in attendance, standing room only. Those of us who attend St. Albertus’ monthly Tridentine Masses should be delighted to see this stunning church, and more importantly the dedicated people who maintain it, getting some well-deserved attention, not to mention a sizable collection to help maintain the edifice. Let us pray that a few of the newcomers return for next Sunday’s Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. [Photo by the Archdiocese of Detroit]

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 08/18 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (St. Agapitus, Martyr)
  • Tue. 08/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (St. John Eudes, Confessor)
  • Sun. 08/24 12:00 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for August 17, 2014. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]