Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Maureen in Exile. Mark Enthroned.

As Guy Noir's telegram states:
First Ann Coulter, now MM... Oh well...

Sandro Magister, "Homosexuality on the threshold of the Synod: Two Conferences in Rome" (Settimo Cielo, as translated by Rorate Caeli, September 30, 2015)

... as a prophecy of this:

R.R. Reno, "No More Tirades" (First Things, September 29, 2015)

... followed up by pertinent eulogy:

Ben Domenech, "A Note On First Things And Maureen Mullarkey" (September 30, 2015).

... followed up by Mark Shea as the new tone-setting American Catholic voice who laughingly calls others malicious and batshit crazy:

Mark Shea, "A Suggestion for R.R. Reno at First Things" (Patheos, September 30, 2015).

... "batshit crazy"? "lunatics"? "roaring and frothing"? "atavistic nuttiness"? "Frankenstein"? "nuts"? "non-serviam to the gospel"? "twisting themselves in pretzels of hatred and defiance"? "hard hearts"? "enemies of Peter"? "repent"? Sound like someone you'd like for a spiritual director?
One reader wrote in and said about R.R. Reno's recent article on Mullarkey at First Things: "If you look at FTs trustees, specifically Russ Hittinger, and then read an interview he did about Pope Francis, and [consider] Hittinger's place on a Pontifical Commission, you'll complete the circle."

Kim Davis recounts "secret meeting" with Pope Francis


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Inspiring! -- a "scandalous miracle" of grace!

Andre Gingerich Stoner, "Scandalous Miracle" (Mennonite World Review, September 28, 2015):
It was a miracle. Jun Yamada [pictured right], suffering from an aggressive leukemia, was on his death bed. He lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest. The doctors told the family he was unlikely to live more than half a day. They began to make funeral plans.

Then, to everyone’s amazement, including the team of doctors, Jun’s marrow started producing normal blood cells again. There was no medical explanation. Over time, Jun made a full recovery. The family and friends were awestruck. Yet this healing was too scandalous to talk about for decades.
Jun was a Japanese Mennonite and a student at a Catholic university. His father was a Mennonite pastor. When Jun became ill, many Japanese Mennonites prayed for him. One of Jun’s professors, Catholic priest Alfonso Fausone, also prayed for Jun and mobilized members of his order to pray. They petitioned Joseph Freinademetz, one of the founders of their order who had lived 100 years earlier, to intercede on Jun’s behalf. Freinademetz is often quoted as saying, “The language that all people understand is love.”

From the hospital bed, one could see the light in the monastery tower that was lit each night as priests and students prayed.

For three months, the priests provided a place for the Yamada family to stay, since their home was 500 miles south. There was profound respect and affection between the Catholics and Mennonites who cared for and loved Jun. During the crisis, the Yamada family participated in eucharist at the seminary. When death seemed certain, Jun’s father asked Fausone if he would officiate at the funeral. All this was unheard of in 1987.

The father called Jun’s brother, Nozomu, then a student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elk­hart, Ind., asking him to return home. Nozomu left the U.S. preparing to attend a funeral, but he found his brother still alive, although in extremely critical condition.

The father said, “Hope has arrived.” (Nozomu means hope in Japanese.) In those critical hours Fausone asked if he could offer the sacrament of anointing of the sick. The family welcomed this gift.

The next day, the doctors came with startling news that Jun was producing normal cells again. Six months later, Jun was discharged from the hospital. His doctors and other patients began to refer to him as a miracle man. Today, Jun is a professor of early church art.

The fervent prayers and the shared love of Catholic and Mennonite brothers and sisters that surrounded Jun were central to these events. Yet it was precisely this ecumenical boundary-crossing that made this healing too scandalous to talk about openly for decades.

Years later, first in the Catholic community, this miracle began to be told. The intervention of Freinademetz was credited with a role in Jun’s healing. In 2003 Freinademetz was named a saint. Jun traveled to Rome to meet the Pope and participate in the ceremony.

In August, about 90 people gathered at AMBS for an annual Mennonite-Catholic Bridgefolk gathering to hear the story of Jun’s healing and to celebrate the marvelous thing God had done through the shared love and intercession of Catholics and Mennonites. Some participants reflected that after years of quiet, going to Elkhart in 2015 was for Mennonites perhaps akin to going to Rome in 2003 for Catholics.

As I listened, I pondered the amazing healing God can bring when people who love Jesus and love each other work and pray together, despite profound differences.

Andre Gingerich Stoner is director of interchurch relations and director of holistic witness for Mennonite Church USA.
Related: Nozomu Yamada, "THE HEALING OF JUN YAMADA Mennonites and Catholics in Friendship Leading to the Canonization of St Josef Freinademetz, SVD" (, October 27, 2012).

[Hat tip to Darvin Yoder]

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Humor: Church services in the year 2018?

PASTOR: "The Lord be with you!"

CONGREGATION: And with your spirit."

PASTOR: "Will everyone please turn on their tablet, PC, iPad, smart phone, and Kindle Bibles to 1 Corinthians, 13:13.

And please switch on your Blue-tooth to download the sermon."

P-a-u-s-e . . . . . .

"Now, Let us pray committing this week into God's hands.

Open your Apps, BBM, Twitter and Facebook, and chat with God."


"As we take our Sunday tithes and offerings, please have your credit and debit cards ready."

"You can log on to the church Wi-Fi using the password 'Lord909887.'

The ushers will circulate mobile card swipe machines among the worshipers:

a.] Those who prefer to make electronic fund transfers are directed to computers and laptops at the rear of the church.

b.] Those who prefer to use iPad's can open them.

c.] Those who prefer telephone banking, take out your cell phones to transfer your contributions to the church account.

The holy atmosphere of St. Matthew’s becomes truly electrified as ALL the smart phones, iPad's, PCs and laptops beep & flicker!

Final Blessing and Closing Announcements.

a.] This week's ministry cell meetings will be held on the various Facebook group pages where the usual group chatting takes place. Please log in and do not miss out.

b.] Thursday's Catechism Study will be held live on Skype at 1900 hrs GMT. Please do not miss out.

c.] You can follow your Pastor on Twitter this weekend for counseling and prayers.

God bless and have a nice day.

And Jesus wept
[Hat tip to R.W.]

Does the Pope share Obama's antipathy toward the developed world?

Maureen Mullarkey, in "Che Guevara's Pope" (The Federalist, September 24, 2015), does not make the comparison with Obama; but it's a natural one when one considers her ruminations about the Pope's Mass in Cuba. Her's is an unusually harsh piece; and I do not like that. The question that it raises for me coincides, however, with questions I've had about the international conference on global warming hosted by the Vatican recently, as well as the Pope's recent climate encyclical, Laudato si: does he share Mr. Obama's antipathy towards the developed world, as described so well, for example, in Dinesh D'souza's recent film 2016: Obama's America (2012)?

Che Guevara's Pope?

Here's what Mullarkey wrote:
Something in me gave way at the sight of an exultant image of Che Guevara overseeing the altar in Plaza de la Revolución, the approved site of the recent papal Mass in Havana. A sadistic, murderous thug looked down on attendees in an obscene burlesque of Christ Pantocrator. Under the gaze of a butcher and amid symbols of the regime, Jorge Bergolio joined his fellow Argentine in service to the calamitous Cuban revolution. The entire spectacle played like a farcical inversion of John Paul II’s presence in Warsaw’s Victory Square, in 1979, and in stark contrast to the message he brought to Cuba in 1998.

What collapsed was any lingering sense of obligatory constraint. Gone is the time for courtesy extended to an occupant of the papacy despite his hubris and ruinous impulses. Out the window is dutiful tolerance for this man’s accusatory or incendiary language. Politesse has run its course. Historian Roberto de Mattei, writing on the wound to marriage delivered by Francis’ recent motu proprio (a personal mandate) ends his analysis with this: “Silence is no longer possible.”

... It takes little sophistication to realize that the intentions by which people understand themselves to be motivated are often not the ones that really drive them to speak and act as they do. However incoherent Francis’ logic on issues from economics to munitions, his stridency makes clear his antipathy toward the developed world. In this, he is a commonplace Leftist ideologue intent on finding ever-new sources of incrimination in the works of the West.
[Disclaimer: Rules 7-9]

How the plain man (or woman) sees it

Andrée Seu Peterson, "Fast-tracking annulments" (World, September 9, 2015):
Having absolved women for terminating unwanted pregnancies, Pope Francis yesterday announced the widening of absolution for couples terminating unwanted marriages. The instrument of this convenience, called an “annulment,” is the most bizarre invention since the Middle Ages practice of selling of indulgences. Annulment means, in a word, that the marriage never happened.
Why get a divorce when you can get an annulment? Why live with the shame of a failed union when for $800 you can buy a clean scorecard showing a union that never existed? Tuesday’s motu proprio papal initiative (much like an Obama executive order) waves all but small administrative fees while streamlining and expediting the burdensome procedure that previously required two tribunals to cosign.
All this reminds me of a movie I saw long ago about gypsies. In one scene, an attractive gypsy woman undergoes her annual rite to become a virgin de nouveau. She has been promiscuous all year but the ceremony purifies her, and afterward her relatives exclaim in joy, “Maria is a virgin again! Life is good!”

Before the pope announced his new annulment rules yesterday, a significant percentage of people who would begin the process didn’t follow through with it. This is partly because of the onerous expense and partly because of the lengthy questionnaire requiring one to find fault with one’s spouse in order to prove the marriage was flawed from the start. But, of course, all this folderol will be remedied by Tuesday’s papal decree. Especially the reduction of the questionnaire is all to the good, I’d say. After all, the act of rehashing your spouse’s faults on paper sounds to me like adding the sin of slander to the sin of splitting. 
Now, granted, this article is by a Protestant and full of a multitude of misunderstandings.  But honestly ask yourself: is it any wonder?  Has anything said and done by our church leaders in recent years helped to made it easier, for example, for those of us who are converts to explain all this to our evangelical brethren?  

[Hat tip to JM]

The late Owen Chadwick's Gifford Lectures on the secularization of the 19th Cent. European Mind

I read the Anglican historian Owen Chadwick's history of the Reformation period while at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1979. His writing is crisp, balanced, and generally on target. And here is a good introduction for Catholics to another of his excellent works:

David Warren, "Owen Chadwick" (The Catholic Thing, July 24, 2015):
I would recommend to anyone Owen Chadwick’s survey, The Secularization of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century. These Gifford Lectures were published in 1975. I remember them as fresh and new about the time I was losing my faith in atheism, and steering a course for Christianity that landed me first in his Anglican church.

The book is a magnificently balanced, concise account of something unprecedented in human history. That balance is struck between social and intellectual history. That “ideas have consequences” is acceptable as a modern, subtly self-flattering cliché; Chadwick also shows that “consequences have ideas.” Man in the nineteenth century was becoming alienated from nature and society alike, by the sweep of industrial innovation. The new, “secular,” atheist and evolutionary quasi-religion could be taken as a by-product, too. The ideas and consequences were all of a piece.

Chadwick, who died last week at age ninety-nine, was among the most formidable intellects on that Anglican shore.... Regius Professor History [at Cambridge ... he] embraced "cultural history" in the manner almost of a Christopher Dawson.

... Roman Catholics may remember his defense of the reputation of Pius XII, during the “Hitler’s pope” controversy of past decades. He marshaled evidence, chiefly from the British diplomatic archive, to show that the charges were ludicrous; and provided historical context to more than explain the pope’s selective “silences.” His forensic skill, in establishing strict chronology through murky events, was of real service in exposing very malignant lies.

Chadwick impressed me for his aloofness in controversy. He calmly pursued the truth, in subjects of vast human complexity. His chief interest was our modern world, and how it came to be that way, in light of its deeper history.
[Hat tip to JM]

Humor: just in time ...

... for stuffing into the boxed lunches being supplied to the fathers at the Synod on the Family! God's love, human flourishing, and ... the rainbow!

"LGBT Rainbow Doritos" (Creative Minority Report: We Laugh Because We Believe, September 17, 2015):
Because when I eat chips I like to think about sodomy.

So in this case, saying these chips taste like a good thing?


Here’s a way to add some color to your chips and salsa platter: Doritos is producing rainbow-colored chips in partnership with nonprofit It Gets Better.

Doritos Rainbows are a limited-edition version of its Cool Ranch-flavored tortilla chips to show the chipmaker’s support of the LGBT community. The chips come in shades of green, blue, purple, red, and orange inspired by colors of the Pride flag (or, perhaps, Skittles’ “taste the rainbow” tagline).

“There’s nothing bolder than being yourself,” the company declares on the package.

Douthat: "Springtime for Liberal Christianity"

IS this a "springtime for liberal Christianity"? It may appear to be one. I wonder whether it's not a time of winnowing and confusion, leading perhaps (hopefully) to lines being drawn and positions clarified?

Ross Douthat, "Springtime for Liberal Christianity" (New York Times, September 26, 2015):
DURING his in-flight interview between Cuba and the United States, Pope Francis bristled a little when asked about people who claim he’s too liberal, left-wing, even Communist. In his comments on economics, immigration and the environment, he insisted, “I’m sure that I haven’t said anything more than what’s written in the social doctrine of the church.”

The pontiff has a point, but so did his questioner. Yes, Catholic social teaching does not fit the normal categories of American politics, and popes always come to our shores bearing critiques of right and left alike. But every pope has different interests, a different set of points to stress — and Pope Francis’ message, whether on-script or off-the-cuff, is particularly distinctive.

He is certainly not a Marxist, and he’s not a “liberal” as American politics understands the terms. But he has been a gift to liberals who are also Christians, to religious believers whose politics lean left.

It’s a gift the religious left sorely needed, because the last few decades have made a marriage of Christian faith and liberal politics seem doomed to eventual divorce. Since the 1970s, the mainline Protestant denominations associated with progressive politics have experienced a steep decline in membership and influence, while American liberalism has become more secular and anti-clerical, culminating in the Obama White House’s battles with Francis’ own church. In the intellectual arena, religiously-inclined liberals have pined for a Reinhold Niebuhr without producing one, and the conservative fear that liberal theology inevitably empties religion of real power has found all-too-frequent vindication.

Pope Francis has not solved any of these problems. But his pontificate has nonetheless given the religious left a new lease on life. He has offered encouragement to Catholic progressives by modestly soft-pedaling the issues dividing his church from today’s liberalism — abortion and same-sex marriage — while elevating other causes and concerns. His personnel decisions have confirmed that encouragement; his rhetoric has reinvigorated left-leaning Catholic punditry and thought. And his media stardom has offered provisional evidence for a proposition dear to liberal-Christian hearts — namely, that a public Christianity free from entanglements with right-wing politics could tug the disaffected back toward faith. Read more >>
Guy Noir comments: "* Douthat -- measured but on point as usual. Except for where his last paragraph misses the elephant in the sacristy. The Winter that enveloped liberal Protestantism 'after the 1960s' was a strange and unholy weather phenomenon that jumped hosts and incarnated itself into ruining spring seepage that left structural damage and mildew all throughout the edifice of Vatican II. Maureen Mullarkey may become rhetorically over-heated in her literary diagnoses, but she's nonetheless correct in labeling Franciscan Catholicism as being at least partially hampered by that climate change."

Tridentine Community News - Extraordinary Faith Episode 6: Miami - Part 1 of 2

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (September 27, 2015):
September 27, 2015 – Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Extraordinary Faith Episode 6: Miami – Part 1 of 2

Episode 6 of Extraordinary Faith – Miami Part 1 of 2 – was televised on EWTN this morning, September 27, 2015 at 6:00 AM. Insufficient advanced notice of the airing was given to us by the network to give notice in this column beforehand, but rebroadcasts are likely in the future; few slots were available this month due to the necessity of coverage of the Holy Father’s visit to the U.S. As with all episodes, Episode 6 will be made available for viewing on our web site,, one month after its debut on EWTN.

Episode 6 begins with a visit to downtown Miami’s historic Gesu Church. Miami is a relatively new city compared with Detroit, thus few historic churches exist. Gesu is Miami’s equivalent of Detroit’s Old St. Mary’s: Centrally located, artistically ornate and well-preserved, and offering Confessions every weekday from 8:45 AM – 5:00 PM. Gesu, pictured below, also hosts numerous special occasion Tridentine Masses throughout the year, for Holy Days and special feasts.

This writer remembers a time when the only Extraordinary Form Mass in Miami was held in the most humble of settings, a classroom at a local college. Fr. Joseph Fishwick, pictured below, the recently-retired long-time chaplain of the Miami Latin Mass Community, was the celebrant back then and relates the story of the community’s growth into the thriving entity it is today, now based at the Mission of Ss. Francis & Clare.

Have you ever considered what happens to the sacred art that gets discarded when churches close or renovate? Some is distributed to other churches. Some ends up in the hands of church supply warehouses. Much gets destroyed or rots away. Fr. José Luis Menendez of Miami’s Corpus Christi Parish decided to do something about this. He raised funds to construct a combination chapel/museum, in which a staff restores sacred art that he finds and rescues, much of it from Central America. We tour this facility, the Museum-Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy, and learn how Fr. Menendez developed his passion for saving traditional art.

An increasing number of bishops throughout the world are learning the Extraordinary Form. Most celebrate Pontifical Low Masses or Missa Cantatas. A select few have undertaken learning the far more complicated Pontifical Solemn Mass, which involves an array of assisting ministers. Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski is one of those brave shepherds, and he explains to us how he came to celebrate this elaborate liturgy. He also shares a touching story of how an acquaintance had a profoundly spiritual experience attending her first Extraordinary Form Mass while on a tour to China.

We’ll keep you updated with dates of rebroadcast of this episode, and we’ll remind you when you can view it on-line.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 09/28 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Wenceslaus, Duke & Martyr)
  • Tue. 09/29 7:00 PM: High Mass at Holy Name of Mary (Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel)
  • Fri. 10/02 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Sacred Heart of Jesus) [First Friday]
[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 St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for September 27, 2015. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Why did this Martini-led faction want to promote Bergoglio's election?

Beats me. Any ideas?

Marco Tosatti, "The election of Jorge Bergoglio by the Martini-led 'Mafia'" (La Stampa, September 24, 2015; translated in Adfero, Rorate Caeli, September 25, 2015):
The election of Jorge Bergoglio was the fruit of secret meetings that cardinals and bishops, organized by Carlo Maria Martini, held for years at St. Gall in Switzerland. This is what is claimed by Jürgen Mettepenningen and Karim Schelkens, the authors of a just published biography of the Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who refer to the group of cardinals and bishops as the “Mafia-club”.

Danneels, according to the authors, had worked for years in preparation for the election of Pope Francis, which happened in 2013....

... In addition to Danneels and Martini, among the others who made up the group according to the book were the Dutch bishop Adriaan Van Luyn, the German cardinals Walter Kasper and Karl Lehman, the Italian cardinal AchilleSilvestrini and [before his death] the English cardinal Basil Hume. [For more on these "usual suspects," read the article and do your own further research.]

... UPDATE (September 26): Since late Friday/early Saturday Danneels' biographers are trying to fix the mess they created by revealing the Mafia that (first made life hell for the late years of John Paul II, tried to elect Bergoglio in 2005, made life hell for Pope Ratzinger), deposed Benedict XVI, and finally elected Bergoglio in 2013, and are now trying to say that he actually didn't say what he actually said.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The New Annulment Norms and the American Experience

Fr. Mark A. Pilon, "The New Annulment Norms and the American Experience" (The Catholic Thing, September 16, 2015), writes:
Today, the United States is the abortion capital of the world, and the American Church is the annulment capital. The Church can say all she wants that an annulment is not a divorce, which is obviously true in terms of Catholic doctrine, but the general population, including a huge percentage of Catholics, has simply come to see the annulment process as Catholic divorce. An Anglican friend of mine used to chide me in the 1970s, “we Anglicans call it divorce and you Catholics call it annulment, but in the end it amounts to the same thing in the way it affects people’s lives.”

... Pope Francis surely has the best intentions, but he has quite clearly rejected the careful and prudential decision made by his predecessor, who gave us the 1983 Code. And it seems he thinks that the experimental American norms were just fine and should be extended to the whole Catholic world. But is he ready for the same results that followed in the United States? If he really thinks that fast tracking the annulment process is simply going to help the poor and won’t result in undermining the permanency of marriage in general, all I can say is I hope he’s right. But the experience of the American Church is not reassuring.
I have friends asking "At what point does all of this stretch the bounds of credibility to the snapping point?" I'm not sure how to answer that question for them. Any ideas?

[Hat tip to JM]

Why "gun-free zones" are magnets for mass murders

I don't usually address topics like this, but Marshall Lewin makes a pretty good case for how I would explain, among other things, the otherwise seemingly counter-intuitive reason why I avoid movie theaters which have signs prohibiting firearms. Yes, it IS counter-intuitive. It doesn't mean you yourself necessarily have to be armed. But public gathering places that explicitly ban arms inadvertently advertise themselves as easy targets for mass murders. Here's how: Marshall Lewin, "Let's End The Charade Of Gun-Free Zones" (America's 1st Freedom, September 25, 2015) - abridged and edited:
“Gun-free zones” don’t protect anyone except the evil. How? By disarming law-abiding, peaceable people. By giving the lawless and the merciless a monopoly on force. And by guaranteeing that suicidal mass murderers will have zero resistance and 100-percent success against disarmed and defenseless victims....

Gun-Free Zones At Military Facilities

This summer’s attacks on two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn.—in which Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez murdered four Marines and a Navy sailor at a recruiting office and Navy reserve center—are far from unique. From the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, where an Islamic jihadist killed 13 people and wounded 32 more while screaming “Allahu Akbar!” ... to the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shootings, where a lone gunman shot 15 people, 12 of them fatally ... to the 2014 Fort Hood shootings (again) in which four people were killed and a dozen more were shot—every one of these crimes was committed at military facilities where our own soldiers and sailors were rendered helpless by “gun-free zones.” ...

Magnets For Mass Murder

... Consider the case of the Aurora movie theater shooter. As [John] Lott wrote for Fox News, “There were seven movie theaters showing ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ within 20 minutes of the killer’s apartment.” Yet he didn’t choose the theater closest to home. And he didn’t choose “Colorado’s largest auditorium,” which was only 10 minutes away and surely must have been tempting for someone who wanted to kill as many people as possible. Why not? Because, as Lott wrote, “all of those theaters allowed permitted concealed handguns.” Instead, the killer chose “the only one with a sign posted at the theater’s entrance prohibiting guns.”

Internationally renowned self-defense firearms instructor Massad Ayoob, who refers to “gun-free zones” as “hunting preserves for psychopathic murderers,” has analyzed many such events. Here are just a few examples:

Pearl, Miss., 1997: A 16-year-old stabs his mother to death, then takes a 30-30 rifle to his school, where he murders two young women. As he tries to drive away to continue his shooting spree at a nearby junior high school, Vice Principal Joel Myrick retrieves a Colt .45 from his truck, intercepts the killer and holds him for police.

Edinboro, Pa., 1998: A 14-year-old brings a gun to an off-campus school dance at a banquet facility and opens fire, killing a science teacher and wounding three others. Restaurant owner James Strand retrieves a shotgun and, as the killer is reloading, points it at him, forcing him to surrender.

Santa Clara, Calif., 1999: A 21-year-old man rents a 9 mm handgun at a gun range, then takes it into the adjoining store, fires it into the ceiling, and herds three store employees into an alley, where he tells them he’s going to kill them. One of those employees is secretly armed with a pistol, however, and uses it to end the attack.

Grundy, Va., 2002: After a 43-year-old former student shoots two faculty members to death, two students, Mikael Gross, 34, and Tracy Bridges, 25, immediately and independently run to their cars, retrieve their firearms, return to the scene, disarm the gunman and hold him for police.

Tyler, Texas, 2005: A man enraged over his divorce proceedings and wearing body armor opens fire on the courthouse steps, killing his ex-wife and wounding his son. Police fire upon the killer with handguns, but he drives them back with his rifle. Hearing gunfire, Mark Allan Wilson rushes to the scene with his Colt .45 and shoots the gunman, who flees without inflicting additional casualties. The gunman is later killed in a shootout with police.

Colorado Springs, Colo., 2007: After killing two and wounding two more at a nearby religious center, a gunman opens fire at New Life Church, killing two and injuring three more. Jeanne Assam, working volunteer security at the church, rushes the killer, shooting him with her Beretta 9 mm before he kills himself.

Moore, Okla., 2014: An Islamic jihadist who has pictures of Taliban fighters on his Facebook page returns to Vaughan Foods, where his employment had recently been suspended, and beheads a 54-year-old grandmother. He then slashes the throat of a 43-year-old female employee, but before he can behead her, company CEO Mark Vaughan, an Oklahoma County reserve deputy, retrieves a rifle from his car and shoots the assailant.

Chances are, you haven’t heard about most of these cases—or if you have, you haven’t heard about the armed citizens who stopped the attacks. And the reason is because that truth doesn’t fit into the media’s anti-gun narrative.

A wet blanket: when papal celebrity doesn't translate into love for Christ and His Church

Matthew Schmits, "The Limits of Papal Celebrity" (First Things, September 22, 2015):

1. Personalities tend to be more popular than institutions, so we should be skeptical about claims that the popularity of a given pope will translate into a “revived” church.
2. Francis’s appeal is based largely on his anti-institutional image—his willingness to disregard rules and call out entrenched interests—and so his popularity is especially unlikely to translate into increased attachment to the church.
3. Celebrity is fleeting. For all his current popularity, Francis is perhaps no more popular than John Paul II was during his first visit to the United States....
4. The media love affair with Francis, just like that with John Paul II, will come to an end
5. It will end in part because he is Catholic and in part because Francis has a penchant for upsetting particular groups—not just conservatives but transgender people, Chileans, etc. 
5. When it does, the people most attached to Catholic doctrines and institutions will be the ones most attached to the man. (emphasis added)
I would have changed the last word of #5 above from "man" to "office." Why? Because when Catholics used to kiss a bishop's ring, it was not in the first place from affection for the man, but from respect for the delegated authority from Christ symbolized by his office. As a canon lawyer friend of mine once pointed out, St. Thomas More accepted imprisonment in the Tower of London and eventual decapitation rather than submit to Henry VIII as "Head of the Church in England," because of his (More's) loyalty to Christ, His Church, and to the office of His Vicar in Rome; but it would have been hard to say it was from personal attraction to the person of Pope Clement VII, who could hardly have been described as a winsome man.

[Hat tip to JM]

What if 300 tradies performed the Haka in St. Peter's Square at the opening of the October Synod in defense of Catholic orthodoxy?

This is what is proposed, as we've come to expect, by the Catholic equivalent of The Onion, Amateur Brain Surgeon, in "Traditionalist Prespond to Synod forming. Translators sought." (September 22, 2015):

Here is what the original Mauri Haka war dance looks like:


Oh, and here's more: Prince Harry performing the Haka!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pontificus Maximus roundup

Didn't you just love Pope Francis' winning smile, his gentle voice, and the way he greeted and hugged and kissed the babies and children brought up to him? That, I liked. As to message content, I found myself frequently wondering how it would have compared to that of, say, a Pius XII, XI, X, or a Leo XXIII, though, I wonder if that would be entirely fair. Still, if you read the reports broadly enough, there is clearly a spectrum of opinion beyond the usual suspects:
  • R.R. Reno, "What Francis Said -- and Didn't Say -- To Congress" (First Things, September 24, 2015):
    Francis gave no support to Catholics who have fought abortion, the redefinition of marriage, doctor-assisted suicide, and other cultural issues. He also made no mention of threats to religious liberty... The only specific issues Francis mentioned before Congress are associated with progressive politics: abolition of the death penalty, global warming, and arms control. This reinforces the trends of this papacy, at least in relation to the United States. Francis discourages conservative Catholics, more by silence than anything else. He encourages progressives, both by his silences and his affirmations. [emphasis added]
  • Editorial Board, "Pope Francis' Challenge to America" (New York Times, September 24, 2015:
    On the question of human life, Francis stressed the need to “protect and defend human life at every stage of its development” — a point that seemed to allude to abortion. But in the very next sentence, he used this theme to speak at greater length about need for the global abolition of the death penalty.

    As attuned to political subtext as well as any in the audience, he did not speak explicitly about the same-sex marriage movement. But he did warn that “fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.” He added, “I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life,” a point that same-sex couples would certainly embrace.
  • "What Does Success Look Like For Pope Francis?" (A Fivethirtyeight Chat, September 23, 2015):
    Mark: That assumes Catholicism is about belief, which I think is debatable. I don’t think religion generally is about belief, and Catholicism is no exception.
  • D.G. Hart, "You Know What Would Really Be Audacious?" (Old Life, September 23, 2015):
    What I’m curious about is whether Pope Francis is a pastor who ministers the good news of Jesus Christ. Think about this. Yesterday in the Wall St. Journal William McGurn opined that the pope is mistaken in his understanding of poverty, that capitalism is far better for raising the prospects of the poor than other schemes.... Here’s the thing, Pope Francis actually has the remedy for the greed of executives and stockholders. He has at his disposal the truth of the gospel (as he understands it), a Petrine ministry, and a sacramental system that could actually change the hearts and minds of New York City financiers. Imagine if instead of visiting political figures, the pope went to Wall St. and preached.
  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker, "A Papal Quibble" (Patheos, September 23, 2015):
    I’m generally enthusiastic about Pope Francis, but I do wonder why does he keep going on and on to his bishops and clergy about the need to be kind and gentle and merciful? ... I’m all for being kind and gentle, and I agree with the pope’s emphasis on mercy, but I can’t remember him speaking equally about the need for repentance, penance, true contrition and the need to make reparation for our sins.
  • John Blake, "The Obamification' of Pope Francis" (CNN, September 15, 2015). 

Hillary's Juicy Ecumenism

Mark Tooley, "Hillary's Methodism" (Juicy Ecumenism, September 14, 2014). A juicy piece.

[Hat tip to JM]

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hamish Frasser (1913-1986): Catholic convert from Communism

A convert well-worth knowing: Here is a bit on his biography, and here something about his views, both from Apropos, successor magazine to Approaches, which was edited by Fraser. He was a keen student of the Spanish Civil war, and was associated with Michael Davies and Fr. Paul Crane as a leader of traditional Catholics in the UK when the Latin Mass was taken away.

[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

Peace in our time: Munich (1938) - Iran (2015)

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -- George Santayana

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An insightful analysis of what's really at stake in the October Synod

(Pace Echeverria!)

"It's About Jesus!" The Enemy's tactics are insidious, and the target is what is superlatively precious in the eyes of God.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Does the Civil War still matter?

A book review, followed by letters to the editor of the New Oxford Review:

Christopher Gawley, "Taking Sides with the South" - a review of A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War, by Thomas Fleming. Da Capo Press. 384 pages. $26.99. [published in the May 2015 issue of NOR]
Does the Civil War matter anymore? We recently passed the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the most momentous battle in U.S. history; can we now consign the subject to the dustbin? Is it simply a footnote to America’s legacy of racial animus? No, this conflict still matters — and for many more reasons than race. For those who care about concepts like tyranny, limited government, subsidiarity, and the principles that animated our independence in 1776, the Civil War ought to matter. And like most things we think we know — and were taught — the truth is far more complicated. A war between two overwhelmingly Protestant peoples fought over a century and a half ago may seem to have little relevance for Catholics today. But many of the ideas and values Catholics care about — and many of the forces that seek to stamp out the free exercise of religion in the U.S. in our time — played definitive roles in the Civil War.
While it is tempting to align with the Copperheads, the Northern anti-war and anti-Lincoln Democrats who sympathized with the South, by doing so one runs headlong into true detestation of slavery. A similar contradiction manifests itself when one is attracted by the antebellum South, by the culture of the South, by the very idea of the South — but with an important difference. Notwithstanding the South’s sin of slavery, the antebellum South represented noble virtues and aspirations like tradition, manners, honor, hospitality, and duty far better than its eventual conqueror ever did. For a traditional Catholic, the antebellum South — its very ethos — is far more resonant and familiar than any other American subculture or time period. Thus, one must bring a fair amount of suspicion to any Lincoln hagiography or demonization of the South. In our time, knowledgeable haters of the South are, perhaps just beneath the surface, people who likely hate the Catholic Church as well.
In any honest evaluation of the Civil War, one must recognize the incongruity of vanquishing a democratic people at the point of a gun in the name of liberty. Seeing what a centralized, power-hungry, and war-mongering monstrosity the U.S. federal government has become, one cannot help but sympathize with those souls who stood up to the incipient leviathan. Contrarily, it is difficult to sympathize with a federal government that practiced “total war” against a people who had democratically chosen to sever the bonds of fraternity and country. The South’s emphasis on states’ rights and limited government is preferable to a bureaucratic, all-powerful state.
Thomas Fleming’s A Disease in the Public Mind promises a new understanding of why we fought the Civil War. This reviewer, however, didn’t find much that is new in it.

Sodomy and the death of a civilization

Some will remember Cardinal Caffarra's critical response just two weeks after the Consistory in February, 2014, at which Cardinal Kasper, at the invitation of the Holy Father, addressed the assembled cardinals and floated the proposal of possibly readmitting divorced-and-remarried Catholics to the Eucharist.

More recently, in a June 19, 2015 article in Il Tempo, Caffarra is reported as saying [emphasis added]:
Many thoughts have crossed my mind since the motion [recommending recognition to same-sex 'marriages'] was voted by the European parliament [on June 9, 2015]. The first was this: We are at the end. Europe is dying. And perhaps, it doesn’t even want to live, because no civilization has ever survived the glorification of homosexuality.

I am not speaking of the practice of homosexuality. I am speaking of the glorification of homosexuality. For various ancient peoples, homosexuality was a sacred act. The word used in Leviticus to condemn this glorification of homosexuality clothed with a sacred character in the temples and pagan rites was “abominable”.

The only two civilizations which have resisted homosexuality for thousands of years are the same that have opposed homosexuality: the Jews and Christians. Where are today’s Assyrians? Where are today’s Babylonians? And yet the Jews were merely a tribe, a “nobody” in comparison to the other political-religious societies. But the laws concerning sexual acts as we find within the book of Leviticus became the highest form of civilization [Christianity]. Hence my first thought: we are at the end.

My second reflection is purely of Faith. Before such facts as these, I always ask myself: how is it possible that the mind of man be so blind to such fundamental evidence [that glorifying homosexuality leads to the destruction of society]? And I came to the conclusion: all this is literally a diabolical work. This is the last defiance which the Devil is throwing at God the Creator, by telling Him:
I am going to show You how I build an alternative creation to Yours, and You will see how men will say: it’s better this way! You promise them liberty, I offer them to become judges. You give them love, but I offer their emotions. You want justice, and I perfect equality which suppresses all difference."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Evangelism and ecumenism: promise and the pitfalls

Tim Challies, "Fool's Talk" (, September 15, 2015) - a review of a book on persuasion by Os Guinness, who thinks that we too often focus on "victory" as apologists for the Christian faith.

The reader who sends the linked article writes:
Perhaps this is the sort of thing Francis means to convey on evangelism? You have to be vary careful of drawing such parallels: John Paul II embraced Billy Graham, and yet they were quite different, even if both were gigantic religious leaders. Francis is similarly supposedly quite affirming of voices like Luis Palau... Regardless of those connections, Os Guiness here sounds the exact same notes Frank Sheed was groping towards decades ago. Two accomplishes writers both of who need to be more widely read.
[Hat tip to JM]

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tridentine Community News - Facing new challenges not envisioned by Vatican II; the prayer called "The Angelus"; Local EF Mass schedule

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (September 20, 2015):
Are New Challenges Suggesting Different Directions Than Those Envisaged After the Second Vatican Council?

Fifty years after its conclusion, we keep hearing about carrying forth the vision or spirit of the Second Vatican Council. For the first ten or twenty years following the Council, one could make a plausible argument that certain changes in the Church may have been worth conducting. Let us put aside the longstanding debate over whether the Council had an agenda that was pushed forward by liberals; at this point it doesn’t really matter. What is more important is to ask whether the recommendations of a non-dogmatic, purely pastoral Council are still relevant today. Consider the major advances in technology and communications, the decline in morality, the vocations crisis, and the decline in religious practice over the past 50 years. Is the Church not facing a different set of challenges than it was in 1960?

The Church is ever-living, ever renewing. It must not be a slave to the past when the past in question does not serve immemorial tradition. In the present era, it is beginning to appear as though some in the Church are stuck in a vision of solving problems that may have been prevalent in the 1950s or 60s, but which are no longer pertinent now. To wit:

Then: Lax or hurried celebration of the Tridentine Mass suggested a need for reform of the Sacred Liturgy. Now: Most communities which celebrate the Extraordinary Form do so with love, care, and devotion to rubrics and music. Conversely, a large number of Ordinary Form parishes espouse a watered-down liturgy. Which bolsters the faith of the people better?

Then: Vocations were plentiful and Catholics knew the tenets of their faith. Now: There are fewer vocations, and formation in the Faith is generally lacking. Confession is one of many aspects of the faith which has been de-emphasized to the point where many Catholics do not partake of it regularly. How can we expect people to make a life commitment to a faith they do not sufficiently understand?

Then: A goal was to remove from the Liturgy concepts which might be a barrier to common ground with Protestants. Now: Protestants did not stream into the Church after this change. A greater challenge today is preventing Catholics from leaving.

Then: Most churches expressed the Faith through their sacred art and architecture. Now: Most new churches are built in a modern idiom, denuded of iconography and art which raise the mind to God. The Faith has not been strengthened by this stripping of visual aids to the spiritual life.

It is arguably time to examine the current challenges faced by the Catholic Church and consider which approaches are working today. Where are vocations and commitment to the Faith strong? Clinging to outmoded solutions while parishes close and people drift away from the Church is not the way to a healthy future. By analogy, the War on Poverty no longer guides U.S politics, though it was all the rage in 1964. The true “New” Evangelization is solving 2015’s issues, not 1960’s, using proven methodologies.

The Ángelus

One of the most important prayers in the Catholic treasury is the Ángelus. Memorialized in a famous painting of a couple praying in a field, this prayer commemorating the Annunciation is the reason church bells are set to ring at 12:00 Noon and 6:00 PM, as one can gain a Partial Indulgence for praying the Ángelus at dawn, at noon, or in the evening. [The Regína Cæli is prayed in place of the Ángelus during the Easter season.]

℣. Ángelus Dómini nuntiávit Maríæ, ℟. Et concépit de Spíritu Sancto. Ave, María… ℣. Ecce ancílla Dómini, ℟. Fiat mihi secúndum verbum tuum. Ave, María… ℣. [genuflect] Et Verbum caro factum est, ℟. Et habitávit in nobis. Ave, María… ℣. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Génetrix, ℟. Ut digni efficiámur promissiónibus Christi. Orémus. Grátiam tuam, quaésumus Dómine, méntibus nostris infúnde, ut qui, Ángelo nuntiánte, Christi Fílii tui incarnatiónem cognóvimus, per passiónem ejus et crucem ad resurrectiónis glóriam perducámur. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

℣. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, ℟. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary… ℣. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, ℟. Be it done unto me according to Thy word. Hail Mary… ℣. [genuflect] And the Word was made flesh, ℟. And dwelt among us. Hail Mary… ℣. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, ℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts: that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 09/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist)
  • Tue. 09/22 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary (St. Thomas of Villanova, Bishop & Confessor)
  • Fri. 09/25 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Michael, Livonia (Ember Friday) – 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 St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for September 20, 2015. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

The myth of active participation as a rationale for the reform of the liturgy

John R. T. Lamont, "The Traditional Latin Mass and the active participation of the laity" (Rorate Caeli, September 18, 2015). As always with Dr. Lamont, a must read.

Tridentine Masses coming to metro Detroit and east Michigan this week

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"ABE Ministry instructs the flummoxed faithful how to prepare for the Synod"

Forgive me, but I couldn't stop laughing. Is that still permissible in Catholicland?

The blogger over at ABS -- whose website banner reads: "Anything worth doing will not be done by Amateur Brain Surgeon" -- writes, in "ABE Ministry instructs the flummoxed faithful how to prepare for the Synod" (Amateur Brain Surgeon, September 13, 2015):
In season and out of season. Inside and outside. Amateur Brain Surgeon is prepared for incandescent bursts of Synod surprises:
“They did not understand that God is the God of surprises, that God is always new: he never contradicts himself, never says that what he had said was wrong, ever, but he always surprises us. And they did not understand, and closed themselves in this system created with the best of intentions.”
A God of Surprises: Pope’s confusing ‘progressive’ vs ‘traditionalist’ calculus ...

What an unbelievable two weeks! The activity, excitement and gravity of the Synod on the Family in the Vatican are difficult to absorb and will go down in the annals of history as a monumental time, akin to those of times of crisis in the Church and with heroic men and women of yesteryear such as St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Athanasius reappearing today with different manifestations but the same spirit.

The Synod saw an historic public calling out of the pope himself by one of the Church’s highest-ranking Cardinals. Convicted that the pope’s silence in light of the confusion generated by the controversial mid-term report was harming the faith, Cardinal Raymond Burke said a public defense of the Church’s teaching by the pope was “long overdue.” Burke told Catholic World Report, “The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage.”

Days later the Cardinal repeated the sentiment to Buzzed, noting that the pope’s “lack of clarity about the matter has certainly done a lot of harm.”

In his closing address to the Synod Fathers gathered in the Vatican [last October], Pope Francis offered a perplexing vision. In comments widely interpreted as referring to Cardinal Raymond Burke and other Cardinals at the Synod who fought to maintain the teaching of the Church on homosexuality and Holy Communion, Pope Francis spoke of the temptation of “traditionalists” with their “hostile inflexibility,” and their failure to allow themselves to be “surprised by God.

As these excerpts from the reports of the Pope's prose, poetry, and praxis illustrate, one must prepare himself for bursts of incandescent surprises:

[Hat tip to L.S.]

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Voice of the Family: Pope appoints leading doctrinal 'pastoral' revisionists to Synod

My, oh my! "Pope appoints leading opponents of Catholic doctrine to Ordinary Synod" (Voice of the Family, September 15, 2015):

Appointees who will be attending solely because of the Holy Father's invitation:
  • Godfried Cardinal Danneels, Archbishop Emeritus of Mechlin-Brussels
  • John Cardinal Dew, Archbishop of Wellington
  • Walter Cardinal Kasper, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity
  • Oscar Andrés Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa
  • Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna
  • Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
  • Archbishop Blaise Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago
Others whose presence at the Synod should cause some concern:
  • Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri, General Secretary of the Synod
  • Reinhard Cardinal Marx, Archbishop of Münich and Freising
  • Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
  • Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization
  • Archbishop Bruno Forte, Special Secretary of the Synod
  • Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
  • Archbishop Heiner Koch, Archbishop of Berlin
  • Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
  • Bishop Franz-Josepf Hermann Bode, Bishop of Osnabrück
  • Bishop Johan Bonny, Bishop of Antwerp
  • Bishop Jean-Paul Vesco, Bishop of Orans
Read the rest of these concerned analyses here and here.

But of course this is all just a ruse by which to entertain the media and keep us all on our toes -- a brilliant tactical feint by which they're only seeming to lurch left, but at the last minute, are in fact going to lurch right and pull a Torquemada on us. Right? There ya go: thought we were gonna go all soft and theologically mushy on ya, didn't ya? Didn't know we were gonna start roast heretics again, eh? Gotchya good!

Douthat: "The Pope's Marriage Endgame"

New York Times op-ed columnist, Ross Douthat writes (September 12, 2015):
It’s clear that this was all intentional: That Francis wanted a big internal argument over marriage and communion, that he deliberately started this civil war.

The question that remains unanswered, though, is how the pope intends to finish it.

... Now, though, the pope has actually made a major move on marriage. He’s changing canon law governing annulments, making it much easier for divorced Catholics to have their first marriage declared invalid, null and void.

The changes do not merely streamline the existing annulment process, as many expected, by removing a mandatory review of each decision. They promise a fast-track option, to be implemented at the discretion of local bishops ....

This is a major liberalization of the church’s rules, probably the most significant of Francis’ pontificate to date....

What the new rules do not do, however, is explicitly change the church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, in the way that admitting the remarried to communion absent an annulment would [so they do change the teaching, just not in quite the same way an explicit denial would? Then who even needs explicit doctrine when implicit reversal suggests we think it impractical?]. This may seem like theological hair-splitting [actually, very much so], but from the point of view of Catholic unity it’s crucial. [Then perhaps the obsession with Unity ... needs a bit of rethinking. What good is unity over faux-agreement to dead letters of the law? And if Unity requires identification with an always changing public face and wildly varied agendas, how is that any different from a cult?] [emphasis and comments in red from Guy Noir]
Fast-tracking annulments "does not formally reverse the church’s teaching about the nature of marriage and communion," as Douthat says; but as he also admits, it "weakens the credibility of Catholic doctrine, in both implication and effect." How can that be good? How can that be merciful?

Monday, September 14, 2015

From a glut if immigrants to a glut of annulments?

"Catholic Divorce - Head of Vatican Commission Admits in Official Paper: Surge in Number of "Annulments" Intended" (RC, September 14, 2015).

Would it be fair to discern an analogy in the trajectory from "No Salvation Outside the Church" to "Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?" -- or would that be unfair? Why, or why not?

Want to sing polyphany or Gregorian chant? Fr. Perrone wants to grow his already nationally-renown choir (call the parish!) - also, some interesting thoughts on the origins of terms on pastoral assignments

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, September 13, 2015):
This past July marked my twentieth year as pastor of this parish. By modern standards that’s a long pastorate, but by an older measurement, it’s about average. In olden times, you see, a pastor was appointed pretty well for life as spiritual and administrative head of a parish. Long tenures had the advantage of stability–a necessity for good and effective operation. After Vatican Council II, bishops of dioceses saw their chance to ‘break the power of pastors’ who had held tight reign of their domains by the protective provisions of Canon Law. The Holy See, accordingly, granted bishops of the USA an indult which allowed them to put terms on the assignment of pastors. This was because the complaint had been made that pastors sometimes were too powerful and too comfortably ensconced in their fixed posts, even to the point that Rome would favor the rights of a pastor over those of his diocesan bishop–if ever a dispute between them developed. According to the newly created loophole, however, bishops had more control and haughty pastor’s were brought to heel. After a few decades of this experiment of limited terms, however, both pastors and parishioners expressed some dissatisfaction with it because priests varied so markedly one from one another, and in so many ways. The constant shifting about of pastors of diverse dispositions and manners tended to upset parish life for the people and it made it difficult for pastors themselves to develop and maintain lasting and fruitful relationships with their flocks–a much needed thing to secure confidence.

All that is a long way of introducing my rationale for writing today about the choir’s need for many more singers. For some reason or other we are now fewer in numbers than ever before in my twenty years here. Since I direct the choir myself, this is a special concern to me. We have been able over these years to establish a rather fine reputation for our music program. I well recall the first year here as pastor when my predecessor, Monsignor Sawher was so completely thrilled with our Christmas midnight Mass singing of a Mozart Mass–that was in 1994. We were off then to an auspicious start and were well received. Since that time, we have done a great deal to enhance the liturgical action with liturgical music composed by many outstanding composers of universal recognition, music that was composed to the glory of God. We have been able to do this because we have had parishioners willing to devote themselves to rehearse some rather difficult choral music. In general, we have not hired singers from outside (except for certain solos that required professionals). Ours has been a true parish choir.

For the first time in twenty years I am concerned that we may not be able to continue on as we have. There are some former members who have left for various reasons and there are too few new voices to replace them. I know that choral singing is not something everyone can do, nor has time to do. That said, however, I suspect there are many others who could do this special form of parish service but are content to remain in the pews. It is indeed a sacrifice of time and effort to rehearse weekly and to sing the Sunday high Mass. It is also, if I may say so, a greatly gratifying experience that few, outside some semi-professional choirs, are able to duplicate elsewhere. The Grotto advantage over them is that, though we are only a parish choir, we have been able to sing music written for the Church in church and not in a concert hall (as is the case of most other choirs that perform music of this caliber).

Surely the time will come (and may not be that far off) when I will retire and will no longer be able to be either pastor or choir director. I would not be happy to have to relinquish my duties before my time due to a poor or indifferent response to the continuance of the choir which has done so notably well all these years.

This is, of course, a pitch for joining the choir so that we can proceed and, instead of retreating, make even greater progress in the fine tradition of choral music that we have become noted for. (Yes, we do have a wide reputation for this–even nationally–and for the liturgy generally, I’m pleased to say, though I do not flaunt the fact.)

This is not an alarmist’s message. We are not ready to fold, but we ought not to be reduced to something less than we have been. Another 12 to 20 people would be about what we need in view of the dwindling in recent years. Choir rehearsals are on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. and on Sundays, 9 a.m. through the 9:30 Mass, with a short ‘review’ rehearsal of music learnt the previous Wednesday night. It’s a commitment indeed, but no less a one that’s needed to accomplish anything worthwhile.

One of the Prefaces of the Mass concludes this way: “We, too, (with the angels of heaven) confess Your name in exultation, giving voice to every creature under heaven, as we acclaim: Holy, holy holy...” The choir, you see, represents every creature on earth giving its praise to God I’d only want to keep it coming.

Fr. Perrone

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Vatican's tragic PR policy

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, "Gay Bishop Gene Robinson to Meet Pope Francis?" (Patheos, September 11, 2015), says that an AP story reported in CRUX reports that President Obama has invited a whole range of religious leaders to the White House to meet Pope Francis, including the Episcopal Church’s first homosexual bishop–Gene Robinson. Longenecker quotes the AP story as follows:
Also in the audience will be Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop who’s now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a think-tank with ties to the Democratic Party, and Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK, and a leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” advocacy tours.
As the reader who contacted me about this says: "Of course, this would be insulting on the part of The White House; but it is not, since The Vatican could change the situation. The fact it will not reflects the Pope's tragic PR philosophy. If it all has to be explained, there is no use explaining it. The Church's woes are entirely deserved."

Tridentine Community News - Canon Edward Gardner to celebrate TLM 10/10 in Livonia; Msgr. Arthur Calkins to Celebrate TLM 10/25 in Bloomfield Hills; Old St. Mary's to celebrate TLM 10/30 in Detroit; Mass schedules

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (September 13, 2015):
Canon Edward Gardner to Celebrate Mass on October 10 at Felician Sisters’ Convent Chapel

On Saturday, October 10 at 10:00 AM, Canon Edward Gardner will celebrate the first Tridentine Mass in over 45 years at the Felician Sisters’ Convent Chapel at 36800 Schoolcraft Rd. in Livonia, Michigan, next to Madonna University. Canon Gardner was ordained on July 2 for the Institute of Christ the King. He is a native of metro Detroit and a former member of Ann Arbor’s Christ the King Parish. Wassim Sarweh will direct the music and servers from the Oakland County Latin Mass Association and Windsor’s St. Benedict Tridentine Community will assist at the altar.

Msgr. Arthur Calkins to Celebrate Mass on October 25 at the Oakland County Latin Mass Association

On Sunday, October 25, Msgr. Arthur Calkins [pictured celebrating Mass in July, 2012 at Windsor’s Assumption Church] will be the guest celebrant of the 9:45 AM Tridentine Mass for the Oakland County Latin Mass Association at the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Bloomfield Hills. Msgr. Calkins was for 20 years the English language correspondence secretary for the Pontifical Commission Ecclésia Dei, the Vatican department in charge of the Extraordinary Form. He authored many of the rulings, rubrics, and decisions that influence modern-day celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass. A reception for Msgr. Calkins will follow the Mass.

Old St. Mary’s to Host First Tridentine Mass on October 30

Among the longstanding hopes and dreams of metro Detroit’s Tridentine Mass goers has been the wish that Greektown’s Old St. Mary’s would one day host a Mass in the Extraordinary Form. It really does make sense that downtown Detroit’s best-situated historic Catholic church offer the Extraordinary Form, as is being done at comparable churches in city centers across the globe. Notably, Old St. Mary’s happens to have hosted an Ordinary Form Latin Mass on Sunday mornings continuously since the liturgical reforms following Vatican II.

The parish’s music program is arguably one of the best in our region, regularly performing Gregorian Propers, polyphonic Mass settings, and supported by a most talented organist and choir director in Bob Barnhart. Its altar server team is deep, capable, and reverent. Confessions are heard before all Masses, seven days a week, and Holy Communion is received at the Altar Rail.

As this column has written before, Old St. Mary’s was the site of a memorable stereo-simulcast televised Christmas midnight Latin Mass in 1982. It was the longtime home of Detroit’s “father of the Latin Mass movement”, Richard Langrell, before he relocated to St. Joseph Church in the mid 1980s. Assumption Grotto Pastor Fr. Eduard Perrone was the music director at Old St. Mary’s before entering seminary, and he even released an LP recording of an Ordinary Form Latin Mass there which can now be downloaded freely on-line.

We are delighted to report that through the encouragement of longtime Parish Council member Patrick Zelenak, the willingness of Pastor Fr. Wayne Epperley, the assistance of parish Operations Manager Randy Bowers, and the organizational skills of Juventútem Michigan’s Paul Schultz, Old St. Mary’s will host its first Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Friday, October 30 at 7:00 PM. The celebrant will be Fr. Joe Tuskiewicz, who was for many years a member and lector at Old St. Mary’s. It is hoped that this will be a Solemn High Mass with Deacon and Subdeacon. Wassim Sarweh and Windsor’s St. Benedict Tridentine Community Choir will provide the music. A dinner for young adults age 18-35 will follow the Mass in the parish hall.

Old St. Mary’s will decide whether to hold future Masses in the Extraordinary Form based on the turnout for this first Mass, so please encourage friends and family to attend this strategically important celebration.

For a taste of Old St. Mary’s music program, and for more information about the parish, visit their web site:

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 09/14 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Matthew, Flint, Michigan (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
  • Mon. 09/14 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)
  • Tue. 09/15 7:00 PM: High Mass at Holy Name of Mary (Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
[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 St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for September 13, 2015. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Madison Bishop Morlino Apologizes to SSPX on EWTN

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Kwasniewski lecture: “The Old Mass and the New Evangelization: Beyond the Long Winter of Rationalism”

The full unedited text, which is a rich feast replete with an amplitude of footnotes, can be found over at the Rorate Caeli website (HERE). For the moment, here is an excerpt (emphasis added):
Traditional liturgies, Eastern and Western, have a certain inherent density of content and meaning that demands a response from us, yet our response is never fully adequate, satisfactory, or exhaustive: we can always have prayed better, we are always being outstripped by the reality. We never get to the bottom of it, shrug our shoulders, and say: “Well, that was nice, what’s next?” In contrast, a liturgy that attempts to be totally “intelligible,” in the sense of having no opacity, impenetrability, or beyondness, is ill-suited and off-putting to man as an intellectual being. It gives him nothing to sink his teeth into; it leaves his highest faculties in the lurch; it gives precious little exercise even to his lower faculties.[23] 
The truth of the matter is quite different from what the liturgical reformers thought. To them, the liturgy had to be transparent so that we could see through it. But total transparency equals total invisibility. A window that is perfectly clean and clear is one that birds kill themselves flying into, because it has ceased to appear as a window, as a paradoxical barrier that lets the light through. In this life, we do not have full possession of the divine light, but this purifying, illuminating, and unifying light flows to us through the liturgy’s prayers, ceremonies, and symbols. If we wish to compare the liturgy to a window, it would be a stained glass window, where the colors and shapes of the glass, the stories it tells or the mysteries it evokes, are both what is seen and that through which the light is seen.  
Christ appears in our midst through the liturgy, and it is vitally important that we come up against the liturgy to experience, in a palpable way, His physicality, His resistance to our pressure, His otherness, precisely as the condition of our union with Him. You cannot marry an idea or a concept, you can only marry a person of flesh and blood who is different from you: the precondition for oneness is otherness. This is why it is extremely dangerous for human beings to think of themselves as the creators or modifiers of the liturgy and to act accordingly—whether before or after the coming of Christ. 
Speaking of the golden calf, which is the nation of Israel’s collective fall, parallel to the fall of Adam, Joseph Ratzinger writes: 
The people cannot cope with the invisible, remote, and mysterious God. They want to bring him down into their own world, into what they can see and understand. Worship is no longer going up to God, but drawing God down into one’s own world. He must be there when he is needed, and he must be the kind of God that is needed. Man is using God, and in reality, even if it is not outwardly discernible, he is placing himself above God. This gives us a clue to the second point. The worship of the golden calf is a self-generated cult. When Moses stays away for too long, and God himself becomes inaccessible, the people just fetch him back. Worship becomes a feast that the community gives itself, a festival of self-affirmation. Instead of being worship of God, it becomes a circle closed in on itself: eating, drinking, and making merry. . . . Then liturgy really does become pointless, just fooling around. Or still worse it becomes an apostasy from the living God, an apostasy in sacral disguise.[24]
To the extent that we think and act that way, we are in serious danger of hugging ourselves rather than encountering Christ, of gazing into a pool like Narcissus and falling in love with our own reflection. One cannot truly be obedient to something he himself has instituted, since it emanated from his will and remains ultimately within his power.[25] The teacher is not docile to himself, the king is not submissive to his own will. As Ratzinger often says in his writings, the true liturgy is one that comes down to us along the stream of tradition, dictates to us our (relative) place, impresses us with its own form and shapes us according to its mind—the mind of the Church collectively, not of any particular committee or even any particular pope.[26]