Category Archives: TLM

I just don’t know what “I believe in” anymore

Growing up, it was tough enough keeping straight the Nicene Creed (1971 translation):

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
[bow during the next two lines:]
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

and Apostles Creed:

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell [or “the dead”];
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
{from there [thence?]} he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

Then I tried to learn the Nicene Creed in Latin:

Credo in unum Deum,
Patrem omnipoténtem,
Factórem cæli et terræ,
Visibílium ómnium et invisibílium.
Et in unum Dóminum Iesum Christum,
Fílium Dei Unigénitum,
Et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sæcula.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero,
Génitum, non factum, consubstantiálem Patri:
Per quem ómnia facta sunt.
Qui propter nos hómines et propter nostram salútem
Descéndit de cælis.
Et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto
Ex María Vírgine, et homo factus est.
Crucifíxus étiam pro nobis sub Póntio Piláto;
Passus, et sepúltus est,
Et resurréxit tértia die, secúndum Scriptúras,
Et ascéndit in cælum, sedet ad déxteram Patris.
Et íterum ventúrus est cum glória,
Iudicáre vivos et mórtuos,
Cuius regni non erit finis.
Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem:
Qui ex Patre Filióque procédit.
Qui cum Patre et Fílio simul adorátur et conglorificátur:
Qui locútus est per prophétas.
Et unam, sanctam, cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam.
Confíteor unum baptísma in remissiónem peccatorum.
Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum,
Et vitam ventúri sæculi. Amen.

I was still getting that memorized when the translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal (aka the “new” translation) came out:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 
Then, more recently, we’ve been periodically attending an Anglican Use Mass, which has this translation:

I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven,
Genuflect
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man;
Stand
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped
and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
 and the life of the world to come. Amen.

However, we’re now regularly attending the Melkite Divine Liturgy:

I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven
and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in
one Lord Jesus Christ, the OnlyVBegotten Son of God,
begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light, true
God of true God, begotten, not made, of one essence with
the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us
men and for our salvation, came down from Heaven, and
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and
became man. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
suffered, and was buried. He rose again on the third day in
accordance with the Scriptures, ascended into Heaven, and
is enthroned at the right hand of the Father. He will come
again with glory to judge the living and the dead and of
His Kingdom there shall be no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who
proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father
and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spoke
through the prophets. And in one, holy, catholic, and
apostolic Church. I profess one baptism for the remission
of sins. I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and
the life of the world to come. Amen.

Then, every now and then in personal devotion I pray the Creed of Paul VI or the Athanasian Creed.
But the moral of the story is that, while standardization of words (and language) is a strong symbol of the unity of the Faith and of the One Liturgy, it also helps sometimes to not take words for granted because we have them memorized.

To Hipster Dad and Trad Dad

A few days ago, Aleteia started the latest round of parents-at-mass wars by reprinting a CatholicMom.com column from last June, by one Thomas Tighe, a self-described “hipster dad,” who writes about one of those incidents I’ve blogged about before where people come up and say rude comments to parents trying their best to teach their kids how to behave at Mass.  Now, whether Mr. Tighe’s description of his attempts really qualifies as “his best” is a matter for debate but of prudential judgement.  I know, though, that when our kids were little, one of the major reasons we shunned the cry room as often as possible was to avoid the bad example of parents who brought snacks and non-relevant toys (we would always try to get the kids to bring religious books and sometimes religious toys).

Sometimes, a cry room is necessary.  Sometimes, a vestibule or a trip outside church is necessary.  Indeed, I got so used to taking my autistic son out of church that I realized at one point last year I preferred being outside, listening on the speaker.

I like the anecdote about Ven. Fulton Sheen, when a lady took a crying baby out of Mass during his homily: “Madame, you needn’t take the baby out on my account.  He isn’t bothering me.”
“No,” the lady replied, “but you’re  bothering the baby!”

Yes, parents of young or disabled children have no Mass obligation, but that is precisely why attending at all is an act of heroic virtue.

Nevertheless, I’m inclined to agree with Tighe, especially given the absolute vitriol that people were spewing in response to his column.  For example, Steve Skojec weighed in with the perspective of a “certain kind of traditionalist.”

Skojec takes the “absolute silence” perspective, including suggesting that it’s a sin to drop a book.  I’m sure he’d be deeply offended by the sound of my wheelchair or the number of times I drop things at Mass!

I wish I could get people like you to stop quoting Mark 10 as a justification for irresponsible parenting. I have always brought my children to Mass, letting the little children come unto Him…but I’ve also always reminded them that the Mass is a supreme act of worship of Our Lord on the Cross, not a friendly gathering where Jesus told the little guys cute parables. . . .

Yes, when the Apostles were complaining about children, they were mad that the children were being perfectly well behaved and wearing their blue blazers with brass buttons.  And when Jesus said you can’t get into Heaven unless you learn to be like children, He meant perfectly silent and well-dressed.

When people have offered actual help, or talked to our kids helpfully, I’ve welcomed it.  Once, when my kids got distracted by the Christmas Tree at the Christmas Eve vigil, the pastor gently said, “I realize you’re excited because it’s Christmas, but please wait till after Mass to look at the tree.” Another time, as my eldest daughter loudly proclaimed her responses at our parish, a lady behind us kept whispering in her ear.  I braced myself when the lady approached me after Mass.
“How old is she?” she asked.
“Five,” I said.
“You must have taken her to Mass since she was a baby.  I kept leaning over and telling her how impressed I was that she knew her responses.  I have a daughter who’s a nun now, and she knew her responses when she was 5, too.”
A few times, we went to Sunday evening Mass at my alma mater’s campus chapel.  We were flabbergasted when the young priest pointed to our kids as an example of how to behave at Mass!   “Those little children know how to behave at Mass better than you college students!” Then when the baby woke up and started crying, he said, “Now, see?  You’ve woken up the baby!”
I went to daily Mass there once with my son, when he was 2 or 3 but not yet diagnosed autistic.  Father asked if I wanted to lector.  I said, “What about him?”  “He’ll be fine!”   I shrugged my shoulders, got up to read, and my son started following.  I gestured to return to the seat, and he did.
My eldest daughter once got up and laid prostrate in front of the altar after a homily about kids at Mass.
She had grown up attending a monthly “Reform of the Reform” Latin Ordinary Form liturgy in Northern Virginia, and the occasional High Mass Extraordinary Form in Richmond.  When she was 2, she sang her Latin Mass parts well enough to impress a Juilliard-trained composer and choral director.
After we moved to SC, there was a monthly EF low Mass we would try to attend.  Once, when she was 5 or 6, confused by everyone being silent during the liturgy of the Eucharist, she began singing the “Salve Regina,” perfectly.  She was sitting a few rows behind me, with her godfather.  I turned to shush her, but almost everyone smiled and gestured as if to say, “she’s fine.”

A few years later, at another parish, I was sitting up front with the younger two, and an elderly couple behind us kept leaning over and whispering what I sensed were gentle admonitions to my son.  After Mass, they asked, “He’s autistic, right?”  I said, “Yes.  They both are.”  They said, “We have an autistic grandson.  We know how it is!”

But we’ve had enough nasty comments to know some people will never be satisfied.
One of the times I tried to bring my son to the low Mass, he whispered some questions but was relatively well-behaved.  Nevertheless, this older gentleman came up and yelled at me, saying, “I raised nine children, and I taught them to behave themselves at Mass!”  I really got the impression that he was as mad about my daughter’s devotion as about my son’s curiosity.  Two other ladies followed him and said, “Don’t listen to him, you’re doing great!”

I often tell the story of taking all four kids to a “Holy Hour” by myself. They’d been to Benediction many times, and knew some of Evening Prayer from my saying it at home.  I was holding the baby.  The then 6 and 4 year old were focusing on the prayers. My son was walking up and down the pews, but being quiet, as he’d done at the aforementioned college mass, which was a huge improvement for him.
They used illicit, barely recognizable, texts for Vespers and Benediction, politically correct, Charismatic and “interfaith friendly.”  At Benediction, they “voted” on which hymn to sing instead of “Tantum Ergo,” and sang “Amazing Grace.”
At the Magnificat, Divine Praises and other points, my kids said the correct translation with me.  Afterwards, the deacon who led it came up and told me how distracting my family was, and children shouldn’t be present at such a “solemn event.”

The last time we had a direct encounter, my wife was in the back with the younger two, who were both sleepy, as they often are, from their meds.  These two old ladies told my wife that our kids were distracting them by sleeping!

So, whether they’re actually being bad, or they’re actually participating, or they’re being quiet but sleeping, we’ve gotten both positive and negative feedback from strangers and clergy.

Yes, there are some people who are blessed with peaceful, well-behaved children, and like other people blessed with particular virtues, they shouldn’t lord it over others.  But there are also some whose kids’ perfect behavior can be a bit scary to the rest of us.

For the past several months, we’ve been regularly attending a Byzantine church that we have visited from time to time over the past 5 years, and I always found the kids seemed to be better behaved and attentive there.  In Advent, I suggested going to the OF Vigil Mass (it didn’t work out because we all got sick), and the kids said, “Do we have to?!”  They find the chanting both soothing and easy to participate in. They love having the icons to pray with. Like me, they find incense bothers them allergy-wise, but they also find it calming (even when they were smaller, they seemed to settle a bit at Vespers as soon as the Censer passed).  They like the community meal after Liturgy.  When there are a lot of children, the DRE gathers them and brings them up to sit in front of Father during the homily.

On Sunday, we were a bit late as usual.  It was Theophany, so there was an especially long liturgy.  I brought three because our middle daughter was sick, and my wife stayed home since I’m the one who usually does.

We stood/sat in the back.  In the second to last row, there was a visiting family–very obviously Latin Rite traditionalists.  The father and sons were all in suits.  The wife and daughters, all in dresses and veils (while veiling is traditional in the East, it’s not an “obligation,” and from my research veiling is usually avoided in the Melkite Church to avoid confusion with Muslims).   My two youngest ended up right behind them.  I was across the aisle.  My teenager was at the other end.  We’d been told to take empty holy water bottles when we came in.  So my son kept playing with his holy water bottle.  After a while, he came over and told me that he realized we had forgotten to get his morning pills before we left the house! I thanked him for holding it together so well, and took him out to the car to take his pills.  I was happy he was holding it together so well, but still trying to keep him in control.  He kept bugging his younger sister, and she kept shushing him.  The lady in the veil in front of her kept turning around and admonishing *her*.

Later in the afternoon, since I didn’t recognize the family, my wife asked our daughter if she recognized the lady.
“Which lady?”
“The lady who kept turning around and correcting you,” I said.
“Oh, *that* lady,” she sighed.  I should note that, of our four children, she’s the most resistant in matters of faith and has already developed the impression that God is a dictator Who just has a bunch of rules and wants to “get” people, in spite of our efforts to teach a balanced view of the faith.  If she grew up in one of these, “children should be seen and not heard” families, what would her faith be like?

Stabat Mater

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had pass’d.

Oh, how sad and sore distress’d
Was that Mother highly blest
Of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs;
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
Whelm’d in miseries so deep
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?

Bruis’d, derided, curs’d, defil’d,
She beheld her tender child
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above;
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourn’d for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with thee to stay,
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me, to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swoon’d
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defence,
Be Thy cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

The SSPX, like the Dwarves in _The Last Battle_, will refuse to be taken in

Haven’t written much lately, and have several posts saved as drafts, but wanted to post some thoughts on a report that talks are still continuing informally between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X’s superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay.

When he spoke in Columbia several years ago, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, said that, in his experience, the higher you go in any given “denomination,” you’re generally more likely to find people who are reasonable and open to dialogue. He told a story of giving an address to a Baptist seminary once on the Marian dogmas and how they reinforce authentic Christology. He said the ordained ministers and the theology professors all nodded in agreement. The students and other laity present got angrier and angrier as his talk progressed.
I’ve only ever met one SSPX family “IRL” that I can recall. It was at the Traditional Latin Mass the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP; the Order established by St. John Paul II for former SSPX members who were willing to return) used to offer monthly in Columbia–ironically, after Summorum Pontificum, they said they could no longer afford to drive from Atlanta every month unless the attendance increased. They offered to train one of the local priests. The only one who was willing was transferred, and no other pastor would volunteer to host or celebrate the Extraordinary Form.
Anyway, one of the only times I brought my whole family, there was this “nice” young family visiting their family for the holidays (I am not being politically correct; I forget which holiday it was). Our kids played with their kids while we talked after Mass.
They told us, “We only came here because there wasn’t an SSPX parish nearby. . . . ” They actually said they felt guilty for attending a “fake” Latin Mass and that, back home, they had both FSSP and SSPX but attended the latter. That, to me, summed up the problem and crushed any hope of formal reconciliation.
Bishop Fellay seems like a man of good will. He may get some of the other bishops and many of the priests to agree to reconciliation with Rome, but the priests and the laity already have the freedom to rejoin “full communion” (I’m choosing my words carefully) if they want. The priests can join the FSSP. The laity can just come to a local EF, but they won’t, because they fundamentally oppose the “New Church.” If Rome tomorrow said, “The suspension of SSPX is lifted, and they are in full communion and enjoy full canonical status as a [personal prelature or ordinariate],” there would still be Ross Perot’s “Giant Sucking Sound” of people defecting to Williamson’s group, the SSPV, etc.
Most people think the Mass is the issue, but it’s really a relatively small issue. The real problems the SSPX and other (for lack of a better term) “RadTrad” groups have stem from the documents: the vague wording, the teachings on religious liberty, _Nostra Aetate_ (which Pope Benedict XVI said was open to criticism for its naivete), etc. The fundamental issue of the “schism” (for lack of a better word), though not an official SSPX position, was the new rite of episcopal ordination. Bishop Fellay and other critics of the Second Vatican Council argued that the new rite has key points in which it diverts from the common traditions of all Catholic rites in history that render all post-Vatican II episcopal ordinations, in their view, invalid–including that of Josef Ratzinger. That is why Bishop Fellay ordained the group of four relatively young priests as bishops in 1988 against Vatican approval: to ensure in his view a valid line of Apostolic Succession, but ignoring that the ordinations would be canonically illicit and incurring excommunication on himself and the four young valid but illicit bishops.
When B16 succeeded St. John Paul II, the SSPX website got friendlier to Rome. It praised him and featured him prominently when he lifted the excommunications of the four bishops and opened discussion. It praised him even more when he issued Summorum Pontificum. Then suddenly it got very quiet. Rome made an offer. The SSPX refused. Controversial Bishop Richard Williamson was expelled but Fellay started sounding like Martin Luther.
The Benedict, for whom reconciliation with SSPX was a target of his papacy (how could the Church expect to heal centuries of other divisions without starting from the most recent?) gave his radio address saying it’s OK to criticize _Nostra Aetate_. He appointed Archbishop Gerhard Muller, often seen as something of a “liberal” to many of us because of his sympathy for liberation theology and his calls for St. JPII to retire, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Then, a few months later, after few headline-grabbing statements, Benedict resigned. His resignation of course created the situation of “two Popes,” a scenario which many traditionalists and many who were not previously “traditionalists” saw as potentially fulfilling warnings from various saints and visionaries.
There is so much pride and anger and hard-heartedness mixed up in all of this. I don’t doubt there are forces at work in the Vatican who squashed the talks and probably contributed to the Holy Father’s decision to resign, but there is so much hard-heartedness among the rank and file of the SSPX that, if Rome issued a statement tomorrow saying, “The faculties of all bishops and priests of the Society of St. Pius X are reinstated, and the Society will enjoy canonical status as an Ordinariate,” even then you’d hear Ross Perot’s “Giant Sucking Sound” of SSPX members starting yet another group, joining Williamson’s group, or joining the Society of St. Pius V.

St. Pius X and St. John Paul II, pray for unity of the Pilgrim Church on Earth.

On celebrity deaths and the Spiritual Works of Mercy

Generally speaking, my view of how the media, and society in general, handle celebrity deaths (or any deaths) can be understood by Fr. George Rutler’s “Speaking Well of the Dead” from the November 1997 Crisis, which addresses the problem of insta-canonizations and eulogies, particularly of people who do not seem deserving of it. Or, as Crisis co-founder Ralph McInerny once quipped in his own column, “We cannot be certain of the fates of anyone but the Saints and our mothers.”

Plus, I have never been comfortable with getting emotional over celebrities, whether living or dead. I pray for them, either way, and leave it at that. Somehow, even before I knew the details, however, the death of Robin Williams kind of hit me, and when the details came out, it hit even closer to home. The subsequent media frenzy has touched on a number of issues that I have been wanting to write about, anyway.

Some people have been condemned, rightly or wrongly, for calling for caution in how the issue is being handled, especially given the circumstances, and I’d like to address those two main areas of concern *in general*.

Again, there is generally a reaction in these situations to the true neo-Pelagianism of “he was a ‘good man.'” As the cartoon that accompanies Fr. Rutler’s piece reminds us, Our Lord, and Bl. Teresa of Calcutta (whose death was one of the events that inspired it) have both cautioned “No one is good but God.” “Judge not” works both ways. Salvation is not a game of mathematics, where good deeds win points and bad deeds take them away. Nor is it a magic formula of sacramental grace or saying, “I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior” being a “Get out of Hell free card.” Salvation is about relationship, and again I’ll address that later, perhaps.

Right now, I wanted to focus on what I think is the problem when dealing with death from a pastoral theology standpoint, and the major worry regarding suicide.

While they may or may not have phrased it badly, and often the harshest critics have been those who’ve faced this temptation itself, one of the biggest problems some people are having is language like the now-infamous, “Genie, you’re free” meme, or saying things like, “He’s in a better place.” These words may seem consoling, but they can, as Rush Limbaugh, Matt Walsh, Todd Bridges and others have attempted to warn, be severely tempting to someone in the grip of despair. If such language is problematic with a natural death, it’s dangerous in this case.

When I was seven years old, and first became aware of how different I was from other children, I first thought about jumping out a window because I’d heard about reincarnation on TV and thought I could come back with a better body. “I didn’t break any mirrors. Why have I had seven years of bad luck?” I cried on my birthday. What saved me then was my parents telling me there was no such thing, and that if I did that, I would go to Hell.
Just last year, when I was on a respirator and feeding tube, and sedated, and hearing the ICU nurses debating questions of Obamacare regulations, organ donation, and “why don’t they just pull the plug,” and for a time (time at that point was irrelevant, but that’s another story), I became convinced that everything I believed as a Catholic was wrong, and that it would be better to pull the plug. Thankfully, they didn’t take the new “living will” I attempted to draft seriously. They *did* take it seriously in assigning my a psychiatrist, but again that’s another story. I just bring it up here to say that, attempts to console one person might bring another to despair.

That brings me to my other main thought. These “insta-canonizations,” as they’re referred to, whether of celebrities or the fellow down the road, are often well-meaning attempts to practice two of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy at the expense of others. It is a corporate work of mercy to bury the dead. It is a spiritual work to comfort the sorrowful. However, in comforting the sorrowful, we must be cautious not to use language that discourages praying for the dead.

Purgatory is temporary, and the holy souls in Purgatory know they’re going to see Jesus, but that no one imperfect can stand in the presence of God. They can intercede for us, but not for themselves. However, they still suffer, and our prayers and sacrifices on their behalf can alleviate their suffering if not free them, so well meaning attempts to say that someone “is in a better place” and presume that he or she went straight to Heaven is failing in one of the spiritual works and discouraging others from practicing it.

The traditional Requiem prayers are all about the awesome judgement of God, and in addition to praying for the deceased, reminding those in mourning that we, too, are mortal. That’s where admonishing sinners, instructing the ignorant, and counseling the doubtful come into play.

We’ve covered 5 of the 7 spiritual works of mercy, and the other two provide the last guidepost in these situations: bearing wrongs patiently and forgiving willingly.

Whatever wrongs a deceased person has done must be forgiven by us if we are to show mercy. We must always forgive as we would be forgiven, so even if the person hasn’t asked God’s forgiveness that we know of, and while we must not commit the sin of presumption ourselves, we may and should offer forgiveness to the dead–though, again, forgiveness requires acknowledging something to forgive. We can talk about a person’s good qualities and the signs of hope while acknowledging the things that need forgiveness.

Thus, when we look at the various arguments surrounding the Williams suicide, there have sadly been many offenses against Mercy, but we should forgive each other.

Praying the Office Online

I’ve been praying the Office since 1997 or ’98. My aunt and uncle sent me a copy of _Christian Prayer_ for, I believe, my Confirmation. My wife also had a copy she’d received from an uncle. We bought the four volume set (at least two of one). The latter is tricky because despite my best efforts, I always seem to be unable to find the correct volume for the season. The one volume versions have both fallen apart from use.

One of the goals of Vatican II was to make the Liturgy of the Hours more accessible to laity, reducing its complexity, but many people are still intimidated by all the “ribbons,” keeping track of the Psalter, the Proper of Seasons, the Proper of Saints, and the various Commons, etc.

It was about 10 years ago that I started thinking how it should be relatively easy to create an interactive version of the Office using HTML, where one could click on a link, bringing up a frame with the appropriate materials, and providing choices for optional memorials, or memorials celebrated as personal Feasts, etc.

So, I created several HTML files in Word, and made it part of my daily prayer to type the relevant sections into the appropriate files.

Then I discovered that others were already deep into similar projects, and I saw little need to recreate their work, though some of the problems still remain, as I will discuss in reviewing and linking each site in this post.

The Liturgy of the Hours is one of the oldest prayer forms in the Church, and is used by Catholics, the various Orthodox churches and many “mainline” Protestant denominations. In Roman Catholic (as opposed to Byzantine/Orthodox) theology, the Liturgy of the Hours is “public prayer” or liturgy, an extension of the Mass. To pray the Office is to pray “with the Church,” so it’s important the words be as unified as possible. This is distinguished from “private devotion.” So, in a popular internecine debate among faithful Catholics, 1,000 people saying the Rosary are in “private prayer,” while one person praying the Office under certain circumstances is engaging in “public prayer.” Catholic clergy (bishops, priests, deacons), religious (nuns, monks, friars, sisters) and members of secular orders are under canonical obligation to say the Office but also have the grace of praying “publicly” even when we’re “alone,” because in sharing the common texts that others are praying around the world, we are joining with them spiritually. For laity who are not in Third Orders, it’s still a private devotion, unless they’re saying it in community with others. Thus, the “trick” with online adaptations is whether the translations are appropriate.

Even a few years ago, there were not as many options there are now.

One of the first sites providing a daily Breviary online was Universalis, which is based out of England and provides detailed information on the degree to which its texts are approved for various English-speaking countries. It has gotten much more elaborate, of course, since 2005, and it provides apps. For those under obligation, I just discovered that Universalis provides the official Latin translations, so if you’re extra-cautious about whether the translation is official, you can always just use Latin. 🙂

Perhaps the most popular and well-made, and the one I use most regularly, is DIvineOffice.org.
It has all its copyrights in order and uses the canonically approved texts for the US. It also has very well-made podcasts of a group of people praying the Office, with licensed hymns, and the participants (mostly volunteers who, IIRC, started the project as a way of teaching the Office to an RCIA class) alternate methods of communal praying: sometimes chanting the Psalms, sometimes repeating the antiphons, sometimes having one person read or sometimes alternating. You can read the text with no audio, listen to the audio, or read and listen. The audio usually takes about 20-25 minutes for morning prayer and 15-20 minutes for evening prayer, depending upon how much is chanted.

Before Divine Office, I used to use PrayStation Portable from Fr. Roderick Vonhogen’s SQPN. I used to also have it on an RSS feed here but found it was unreliable. Sometimes, it seems to update too quickly and you can’t find the actual links for the day. Other times, there was a delay in posting. I hope they’ve fixed those issues, but it’s been a while since I followed it. It’s just Fr. Roderick reading it, not a group of people, and much simpler, but he does include prayer requests that listeners send him as part of the General Intercessions.

Plenty of websites and apps offer the Traditional Breviary, and several sites offer the various offices of Eastern Churches.

The added challenge, which led to my most recent discovery of a treasure trove of sites, is praying “Optional Memorials,” days that are not on the “General Calendar” (such as the Discalced Carmelite Propers), days that are personal/community Feasts or Solemnities, etc.

CatholicCulture.org* has a cool Liturgical Calendar page with the Feast(s) or Saint(s) of the day on both the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form Roman Calendars, Collects, devotional prayer suggestions and other activities. So, if I’m looking for a Collect that’s not in DivineOffice.org, I have been turning to CatholicCulture.

Still, if it’s a day where I want, say, the Common of Doctors or the Common of the Blessed Virgin, and DivineOffice just has the regular Four Week Psalter options, I often find myself searching the Internet, and recently those searches have proven more fruitful:

Liturgy Archive is exactly what I imagined 10 years ago. It is a basic HTML page with links to every option for the entire year: the liturgical seasons, and the collect for every saint on the general calendar. It also has the Commons. So now, when it’s a Carmelite day, I go there for the Commons. I don’t know what their arrangements are with the copyright-enforcing USCCB, but it’s all there for now. Its wider “Archive” has both internal and external links for a variety of liturgical prayers from a number of Christian traditions.

iBreviary is also very good. Indeed, when I heard people say “iBreviary,” I always thought they meant “Divine Office.org”. It is based out of Italy, and defaults to Italian but offers a variety of language options, including both Latin and the official (Grail Psalter) English translations. It is a relatively simple website but is oriented towards tablets.

eBreviary offers everything in PDF format but only offers certain parts for free on its website or App and otherwise requires a subscription because of the copyrights.

More and more, with all these apps available, priests, deacons and religious are finding their confreres praying along in chapel with their phones, tablets and eReaders.

Thoughts on Liturgy and “Labels”

Extended from a Facebook post:
I guess I’m what some people would call a “neo-traditionalist,” which basically means, when it comes to liturgy, nobody likes me. My preferred liturgy in the Roman Rite is the “Novus Ordo”/”Ordinary Form” practiced “correctly,” with the options that are more in keeping with Roman and/or Eastern tradition rather than complete novelties, though ultimately I feel most “at home” in the Byzantine Rite. I respect the “Extraordinary Form” in all its “forms” (High/Low/Low with hymns) and would attend it if available, but I don’t think it’s obligatory, and if I had my choice between the two, I would go with the Paul VI Mass over the Tridentine.
as a “movement,” theologically, I have serious problems with the “Charismatic Renewal,” though, as individuals, some of the finest Catholics I’ve known have been “Charismatics” (though, also, some of the most evil Catholics have been Charismatics, as well). Similarly and conversely, I theologically agree with “Traditionalism” but find that “Traditionalists” as individuals tend to the same two extremes. In that vein, I don’t see why “ordinary Catholics” tend to identify all traditionalists with the bad apples but take offense at associating the Charismatic Renewal with its “bad apples” (e.g., the ones who say things like, “You’re sick because you don’t have Faith.”)
I can’t stand “folk” or “contemporary” Masses in general, especially since they almost always involve some sort of abuse, but unless the abuse directly relates to the Consecration or renders the priest heretical, I’ll attend them if I have to. Distractions just force me to do a better job recollecting myself.
I understand the differences between “liturgical,” “artistic” and “personal taste,” and try to handle these discussions accordingly. The fact that I consider something “inappropriate for liturgy” doesn’t *necessarily* mean I don’t “like” it; on the other hand, like many, the more I’ve read on liturgy, the more I’ve come to dislike a lot of songs. My two favorite hymns are “Now We Remain” and “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” (not “our”; “horizontal inclusive language” is OK, but in some areas we should just leave things the way they were written). I don’t see what’s wrong with including “On Eagle’s Wings” or “I Am the Bread of Life” in the Liturgy so long as they’re balanced with chant and “old fashioned” hymns and appropriate to both the tone and theme of the particular liturgy. However, I can’t stand “One Bread, One Body” and others that twist Scripture to promote an agenda. There are other folk/contemporary “hymns” that I don’t think are appropriate for liturgy but I don’t mind in a concert or recorded context. I’m in the “‘Amazing Grace’ seems too Protestant for Mass” camp, but I’m OK with other “traditional” Protestant hymns that don’t touch specifically on areas of theological contention. The recent tendency of “youth masses” to include “contemporary Christian” “praise and worship” music of the “all you have to do is change ‘Jesus’ to ‘baby'” variety is very disturbing.
I recognize the Vatican II call for “organic” development of liturgy, and insist from those who would change the liturgy that the changes, minimally, conform to that standard.
Melodically, as the preface to the original _Grail Psalter_ says, sacred music should emphasize the words, in keeping with the principle that “He who sings prays twice.” The role of liturgical music is to be catechetical. That is no more recognized than by the likes of Marty Haugen, the liberal Lutheran who has used the popularity of his music to push his agenda on the Catholic Church. If something has to be “explained,” it’s not appropriate for Mass. If something qualifies as a “performance,” it’s probably not appropriate for Mass (and that applies on both extremes). Both Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Arinze have said that “If there is applause at Mass, something has gone terribly wrong.” On the other hand, one of the purposes of liturgical music is to provide time for meditation, and there should be points of non-congregational singing to allow for that.
I appreciate the position that we must give our best efforts to God (the “I wish Francis were more like Benedict; a Pope should reflect his office” side of me), but I also appreciate the position that we should reach out to the “common folk” to get them into Church to begin with (the side of me that thinks Francis is on the right track). Yet again, we must be careful that we’re not “bringing people in” under false pretenses, and there should be a timelessness to the Liturgy, which is by definition Timeless, that is not held up by constantly changing to suit the latest “fashions” (which are often themselves several years behind).

Religion is more than just something to do on Sunday

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” –G.K. Chesterton


Football season is beginning. It always strikes me that people who are afraid to talk of “politics and religion” for fear of offending friends or relatives will get into absolute feuds over football. Meanwhile, they treat politics and religion the way they treat sports: a form of recreation; merely something to do on the weekends.
The other thing that football has in common with politics and religion is that people generally seem to choose their religious and political affiliations the way they pick their football teams: as a form of patriotism, or because of their families (either to show loyalty or spite their families), or because of their friends. Thus, just as they support the Steelers, or the Redskins, or the Browns, or the Panthers because of where they happen to live, people tend to simply accept (or reject) their family’s religion or political party without necessarily thinking of *why* they support it.
Thus, people will speak of “religion,” as a concept, in ways that can be quite baffling. On the one hand, you have people who insist that they’re Catholic, even though they reject the Church’s teachings from transubstantiation to the evil of contraception to the very Incarnation itself, because “it’s too hard to leave the Church,” like She is some kind of blood cult or something. They’re attached (rightly) to the nostalgia evoked by the liturgy (particularly the infamous Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter liturgies), and they attribute the devotion of other Catholics to a kind of extreme nostalgia (hence the “People who want the Traditional Latin Mass are just old people who don’t like change” argument).
On the other hand, you have people who say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” meaning that they’re not affiliated with a particular denomination or worship service. “Religion” has come to be defined according to the Masonic view as something subservient to “society” or “culture” (which is the main reason the 18th Century popes condemned the Masonic Lodges). The “church” or synagogue, temple or mosque is treated as something like a Lodge: a place to meet every week, have some fun, engage in organized charities, and host major life events like weddings and funerals. The Sacraments become similar “life events”–Baptism (or “Christening”) becomes a ceremony to recognize a birth, and so the same young parents who were offended at the notion in pre-Cana counseling that they should live as Catholics become offended at the notion they must promise to actually raise their children Catholic. They participate in First Communion and Confirmation (aka “graduation from CCD”) for the same reasons. It’s really very sad.
Thus, both the nominal Catholic and the “spiritual” non-Catholic are baffled by the notion that any religion should claim to be superior or to actually teach the Truth about Divine and Human Nature. Theology is seen as arbitrary and superstitious. Ironically, though, the claim that all religions are equal and that people should have “freedom of worship” means that “religion” should not be extended into “public life.” It’s just something to do for an hour a week, and not to actually effect one’s life beyond some base common denominator of being a “decent person” or a “good citizen.” Any religion that claims to do *more* that that is immediately suspect for violating the commonly accepted definition of “religion” that the Masons have taught us for nearly 300 years.
So the Left has fought for legalization of so-called “same sex marriage,” insisting they only want “equal rights,” and that no one should feel threatened by it. Christians warned that it would lead to persecution of those who didn’t want to participate. Others insisted and continue to insist that it was about “marriage equality” and that opponents were “homophobic.” Yet, now that the Supreme Court has essentially legalized it nationwide by throwing out the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the California Proposition 8, a court has ruled that Christian photographers cannot refuse to photograph gay weddings, a Christian bakery has closed due to “LGBT” threats and protests, a millionaire “gay” couple has sued a church in the UK for not performing their “wedding,” and Ugandan homosexuals have sued a Christian evangelist for “crimes against humanity.” Yet, like Nancy Pelosi’s infamous comment on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), “conservative” Catholic literary critic Joseph Bottum argues that we have to allow gay marriage to happen to see if it might do some good.
The LGBTQ lobby is powerful, as the UK case illustrates, precisely because it’s rich, but also because of “well meaning” Christians who think it’s about “fairness,” and others who don’t think that “religion” shouldn’t intrude on the “public sphere.” It’s the same reasoning behind the HHS contraception mandate: the alleged “right” to violate Natural Law supersedes the right of employers to chose not to engage in material cooperation. Indeed, the notion of “material cooperation” goes over most people’s heads or is used in the opposite of its intent.

Hermeneutic of Papal Discontinuity: Pope Francis is a RadTrad

Since the election of Pope Francis, the media have gone out of their way to paint him as a “liberal” due to his more simplistic style and emphasis on concern for the poor. I’ve complained previously about this false division in terms of the implication that Bl. (soon to be Saint) John Paul II and Benedict XVI have not been as humble or simple as Francis, particularly since B16 resumed some of the more traditional papal vestments that have been discarded by most 20th Century Popes. Because of this slight difference in style, both those of a more “traditionalist” bent and the mainstream media have insisted that Francis is a “progressive.” Pat Archbold responded to this with “10 Quotes that Prove the Pope is a Liberal,” giving quotations from Benedict, and Mark Shea followed suit this weekend with a post giving quotations from Francis on liturgy (more on this later)

Meanwhile, there has been something of a row in the blogosphere about terminology regarding “RadTrads” or, as someone recently suggested, “MadTrads.” Since Vatican II, one of the main “sticking points” has been the Council’s approach to ecumenism. Supposedly, anyone who critiques that approach is a “RadTrad.” In one of his last major statements before announcing his retirement, a reflection on Vatican II, Benedict explicitly criticized the very weakness of _Nostra Aetate_ that most of us would be labelled “RadTrads” for pointing out:

In the process of active reception, a weakness of this otherwise extraordinary text has gradually emerged: it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance; for this reason the Christian faith, from the outset, adopted a critical stance towards religion, both internally and externally.

But that’s the “traditionalist” B16, right?
On the contrary, Pope Francis has made several statements about the necessity of the Church for salvation, saying that one cannot know Jesus without the Church, and that one cannot know God without Jesus. Go figure: the Pope is Catholic.
Nevertheless, people want to pick on every media-spun statement to try to say otherwise. I don’t think it’s even necessary to “Read Francis Through Benedict,” as “Fr. Z.” has renamed his popular blog: I’d suggest that, the more we get to hear from Francis himself, the more we’ll find him to be perhaps more “traditionalist” than Benedict. There are concerns about the current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Gerhard Muller, and his relationship with Liberation Theology, but he was a B16 appointee. There were rumors that Francis might be making changes to the Congregation for Divine Worship and to the position of Master of Ceremonies, but one of the quotations Mark Shea highlights in the post I linked above ought to allay those fears:

“See? They say that my Master of papal ceremonies [Guido Marini] is of a Traditionalist mold; and many… have asked me to remove him from his position and replace him. I have answered no, precisely because I myself may treasure his traditional formation.”

More importantly, in terms of ecumenism in the truest sense, and liturgy alike, the following quotation, variations of which I’ve read elsewhere, highlights what I think proves Francis is both a true “Radical” (getting back to the root) Traditionalist *and* in line with the authentic intent of Vatican II (which was to bring back to the Western Liturgy some of the qualities it has lost):

In the Orthodox Churches they have conserved that pristine liturgy, no? So beautiful. We [i.e., the Latin Christians] have lost a bit the sense of adoration, they conserve it, they praise God, they adore God, they sing, time does not count. The center is God and that is a richness that I would like to emphasize on this occasion as you ask me this question.

Once, speaking of the Western Church, of Western Europe, especially the Church that has grown most, they said this phrase to me: “Lux ex oriente, ex occidente luxus.” [“Light from the East, from the West, luxury.”] Consumerism, well-being, have done us so much harm. Instead you keep this beauty of God at the center, the reverence. When one reads Dostoyevsky — I believe that for us all he must be an author to read and reread, because he has wisdom – one perceives what the Russian spirit is, the Eastern spirit. It’s something that will do us so much good. We are in need of this renewal, of this fresh air of the East, of this light from the East. John Paul II wrote it in his Letter. But so many times the luxus of the West makes us lose the horizon. I don’t know, it came to me to say this. Thank you.”

People Can Treat Liturgy Mindlessly Regardless of What Language It’s In

One of the most common arguments *against* Latin in the Liturgy is that “People pray[ed] mindlessly” or “People didn’t understand what was going on.” The latter is easily refuted in that the average layperson today doesn’t understand what’s going on at Mass, and that The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy [Sacrosanctum Concilium] (paragraph 54, I believe) provides that efforts are to be taken to better educate the laity in the “mother tongue” of the Roman Church, so that we can better participate.
In any case, I once saw the specific example given of nuns chanting the Divine Office in Latin and “mindlessly” reciting the instructions like “Hic non dicitur Glória Patri, neque Amen” (“Do not recite the Glory to the Father or Amen here”) at the end of the “Benedicite”. This comes to mind every time I hear similar things when the Liturgy of the Hours is prayed in English, even by the fine folks at http://www.divineoffice.org, and someone either reads the instructions, recites something that’s meant to be silent, or introduces the reading by saying something like, “A reading from 1 Peter” or “A reading from Hebrews 12:22-24” instead of “A reading from the First Letter of St. Peter” or “A Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.”

Pope Francis Demonstrates “What Went Wrong WIth Vatican II”

Pope Francis’s recent addition to the Roman Canon, adding the name of St. Joseph to Eucharistic Prayers 2-4, demonstrates how the changes to the liturgy *after* Vatican II were not what Bl. John XXIII intended.  The reason the “traditional” Missal is the 1962 Missal is that the very first change of Vatican II was the addition fo St. Joseph’s name to the Canon to begin with, the first change to the Canon since Trent.  Then, as the liturgy written by Rembert Weakland & co. came about, it cut various specific names of Saints from the liturgy (i.e., in the Confiteor) to *downplay* saints.  This, while it’s going to rankle some feathers over the “need” to re-translate and re-publish, is a step in the right direction.

Pope Francis and the Third Secret of Fatima

Around the world, there have of course been many reactions to the election of Jorge Maria Cardinal Bergoglio as the 265th successor to St. Peter. He seems like a nice enough fellow, apparently very saintly in both his preaching and his manner of personal living.

Apparently, some people are saying he looks like Jeffrey Tambor, but I think he looks like Jonathan Pryce.


I’m a bit bummed that my preferred choices weren’t picked. I’m especially bummed that, when I heard “George” in Latin, I immediately thought they were referring to George Cardinal Pell, though at least I took comfort that in my “adopt-a-Cardinal” prayers for Cardinal Pell, I had been praying to St. George.

According to this Ikon, St. George has hair like me!

To that end, and no offense intended to Cardinal Bergoglio, I was kind of glad they picked another “older” Pope–approximately the same age that Joseph Ratzinger was when he became Benedict XVI. As I noted when B16 retired, 8 years is about the average reign of a Pope, and only a few have served past the age of 85. It isn’t going to be that many years before we face another Conclave, and that’s a good thing for many reasons. Hopefully, younger guys like Raymond Burke and Charles Chaput (who isn’t even created Cardinal yet–I thought he had been) have a chance at the white hat. Also, even *if*, as many traditionalists fear, Francis turns out to be in line with typical priests of his generation, particularly since he’s a Jesuit, that should itself be a sign of hope for the Reform of the Reform: priests have been increasingly more tradition-minded since the eighties. So it may take time and patience, but it will only be a few decades before the young priests who are returning to traditional vestments and postures even in the Ordinary Form will show up at the College of Cardinals. Or the world may blow up before then. STOP WORRYING.

By the way, Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, has had some leve of personal connection to both our past two Holy Fathers. He was one of Josef Ratzinger’s favored graduate students, and, as a Jesuit, he knows Cardinal Bergoglio (though I’m not sure how well). He’s been quoted as saying, “You’ll love him. The other Jesuits hate him. I’m ecstatic.” Fr. Dwight Longenecker has pointed out that while liturgical, theological and political “sonervatism” and “liberalism” often go hand-in-hand in the US, that is not the case in other cultures.

Now, Francis is kind of cool looked at by himself. He appears as a modern equivalent of Monsiegnor Bienvenu in _Les Miserables_. Indeed, his first words as Pope were the Spanish (or Italian?) equivalent of “Bienvenu”! That said, there have been a *lot* of bishops like this. They may be few and far between, but they aren’t unheard of. Let’s recall that a couple American archbishops have sold their formal residences and moved into cathedral rectories or diocesan seminaries to pay off legal debts left by their predecessors.

That’s what really irks me about a lot of the coverage on Francis (BTW, he’s not “Francis I” because he’s the only one–however, after 36 years of “JPII” and “B16”, F1 as an acronym seems natural).
B16 was, as someone put it, the “best dressed Pope” we’ve had in years. While it may impress a lot of people to have a Vicar of Christ who dresses “humbly”, it also hurts a lot of Catholics to see Popes, or bishops, acting beneath the dignity of their offices–where it counts. Even Hugo’s Msgr. Bienvenu (who is based upon the real life bishop, and is probably about as historical an account as most pre-1850’s historical documents and biographies) dressed formally for Mass. And the thing about Cardinal Bergoglio/Pope Francis is *we don’t know*. He’s technically not even officially Pope yet.

Nevertheless, Cardinal Ratzinger was known before his papacy for shunning some of the elitist trappings Cardinals are known for. He would walk and take buses and trains, too. He was known for hanging out at local establishments around St. Peter’s, and early in *his* papacy people wondered if he might shun the Popemobile or be a pain in the neck to Vatican security.
Never was this Facebook meme more appropriate:

The Chattering Classes keep insisting that Cardinal Bergoglio’s behaviors indicate we “finally have a Pope of the people!” This implies that a humble theologian who only served at the Vatican out of obedience and never wanted anything more than to be back in Germany with his beloved brother, who was known for hanging out at local pubs and cafes, was *not* a “Pope of the people.”

As Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, OCDS, slept in a broom closet. He was known for opening the doors to the poor every morning and inviting them in to share his meals. Here he is on a fishing trip while a cardinal (note his brown scapular).

Like “Msgr. Welcome”, Woytyla was uncomfortable with being called “Bishop” or any of the higher ranks he was promoted to. He preferred that his parishioners, students and friends call him “Uncle.” When he was first appointed as auxiliary bishop of Krakow, he assured his friends “Uncle will remain Uncle.” He was known for various athletic activities, particularly skiing.
One of my favorite stories I read in a biography when I was in high school concerned a skiing trip Wojtyla took with a bunch of priests. Since he preferred to be called “Uncle” (not sure if there’s some other Polish tradition attached there I’m unaware of), or “Father Wojtyla,” that’s how he was addressed by other priests.
Ordained a bishop at 38, created cardinal at 47, and elected Pope at 58, and very athletic and healthy until the ravages of papacy and Parkinson’s took their toll, Cardinal Woytyla came off to those who knew him as an ordinary young pastor.
Thus, on this particular ski trip, since most of the other clergy called him “Wujek” (“Uncle”), a particular grumpy and authoritarian old Monsignor kept ordering this “young priest” around: “Fr. Karol, get me a cup of coffee,” that sort of thing. All weekend long, Wojtyla humbly and happily served this old vicar hand and foot. Every time the old man raised his voice, the other priests would hesitate, expecting the reaction most Cardinals would give to such treatment. Finally, on the last day of the trip, one of the priests gently informed the Monsignor that the “young priest” he was bossing around was the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow. He had the reaction one would expect from such a humiliation, but Bl. JPII never once grumbled, raised his voice or pulled rank on him.

So it really annoys me to hear and read all this garbage about how Cardinal Bergoglio is more humble and more down to earth and more like a “true disciple of Christ” than any of his predecessors.

Indeed, all of this brings with a huge caution. Much has been made of the alleged “Prophecy of St. Malachy,” a text of dubious provenance that seems to describe each Pope. The prophecy is allegedly “validated” by the fact that a church in Rome (I think St. Paul’s outside the Walls) has little cameos of the Popes, with the alleged prophecy’s nicknames for them, and there is only one space left–for Pope Francis. Even if the St. Malachy “prophecies” are true, and there’s a lot of evidence they aren’t, the prophecies technically say that “Peter the Roman” (presumably Francis) will be a great leader who will guide the Church through a time of crisis–and then Rome will be destroyed. The prophecy does not necessarily imply the End of the World, just the end of Rome. It also doesn’t say “Peter the Roman” will be an anti-Pope–though the “St. Malachy” text gets conflated with a lot of other alleged “prophecies” about end times Popes and anti-popes. Coded “messages are hard enough to decypher, but they become especially open-ended when people try to mix them all together.

In 2000, Pope John Paul finally revealed the Third Secret of Fatima, via the controversial Cardinal Sodano. Now, I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories that say this wasn’t the “real” or “complete” Secret, particularly based upon claims spread by some sources that otherwise have little credibility, who insist on their own word that Sr. Lucia or somebody else said it wasn’t the “real” secret. However, after the prophecy was revealed and decribed, I wondered if they were jumping the gun a bit (so to speak) in insisting that it had been fully fulfilled.

After all, the Pope in the prophecy *dies*.

In the *only* two Vatican-approved apocalyptic prophecies about the Pope–Fatima and John Bosco (and when the Fatima announcement came out, people immediately pointed to the similarities to John Bosco’s dream), the Pope is shot and killed. JPII was not shot and killed. He was shot and lived. B16 seemed to fulfill some prophecies by his actions, his symbolism, and how JPII and Sr. Lucia died within a month of each other, but the similarities between Bergoglio and Wojtyla are uncanny. Wojtyla also shunned Vatican security when he was first elected. He tried to be a “Pope of the People” (he certainly was) and live as Pope the way he did as Archbishop for 3 years–until he was shot. *After* he was shot, he took on more of the trappings of the Papacy (and, some say, got more “conservative” when he read the Secret of Fatima, realized it was true and about him, etc.).

I always expected Pope Benedict to be assassinated given the animosity towards him, his statements about Islam, and his position vis-a-vis these approved prophecies, but Pope Francis’s similarities to JPII make me think we will one day be praying to St. Francis, Pope and Martyr.

Who is Really “Marginalized” in the Church?

The resignation of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has led the media to engage in one of their favorite passtimes: berating the “controversial” teachings of the Catholic Church, and expressing hope that the Church will “listen to” allegedly “marginalized” Catholics who “have no voice” in the Church by changing controversial “policies” such as teaching the objective truths that male gender is a material requisite for the priesthood, or that abortion, contraception and homosexual behavior are intrinsically evil.

This idiotic article is just one more example of this claim. What struck me about this particular authress’s screed is that she talks of nuns who complain about being “marginalized,” and that really ticked me off.

It is a popular meme of liberal Catholics that Jesus “embraced those who were marginalized.” Like most lies, that’s partially true. However, Jesus also *called* on His followers to *become* marginalized. The fundamental difference between an orthodox and a liberal Christian is our *reaction* to marginalization. The orthodox believer recognizes that we must be marginalized by the world in order to live out the Evangelical Counsels, that marginalization is the path the holiness. The liberal believer sees marginalization as a bad thing, and fights against it.

But whatever they want to say about the “official” teachings of the Church, these people have been running things for quite some time.

I have been “marginalized” by liberal Catholics my entire life.

Every liturgical document from Sacrosanctum Concilium to Liturgiam Authenicam to Redemptionis Sacramentum to Summorum Pontificum has emphasized the importance of Latin as the official liturgical language of the Roman Rite. When B16 called the world synod of bishops shortly after his accession, they voted by a huge majority to promote the use of Latin and to mandate that multilingual congregations offer Mass in Latin as opposed to the vernacular. The documents all say Mass should be primarily in Latin. Where Vatican II gives options, the preference is supposed to be on the more “traditional” option. And as B16 noted in Summorum Pontificum, the Tridentine liturgy was never “suppressed,” so it never should have required an “indult.” Strange that Vatican II options which were *supposed* to require indults–reception in the hand, use of lay ministers of communion–have become commonplace and are considered almost obligatory, yet there has been every effort made to suppress the Traditional Latin Mass. Who is voiceless and marginalized?

I have never heard homilies in favor of Latin or of traditional liturgical practices at “ordinary” Ordinary Form liturgies. I have heard such homilies frequently at extraordinary form masses, or ordinary form Masses in Latin, or Eastern liturgies–situations where the priests were literally “preaching to the choir.” I have never heard an “ordinary” priest give a homily at a vernacular Mass trying to explain why traditional liturgical forms are good. I *have*, however, heard priests preach from the altar that they wished traditionalists would all die off and stop bugging everyone. I have heard priests say from the altar that they “hope this pope will die so we can get a new pope who will get rid of all the rules” (this back in the days of John Paul II). I have heard priests say from the pulpit or other public venues that Latin is to be discouraged because it scares people away and people don’t understand it. I have heard priests preach about how wonderful all the changes “Vatican II made” supposedly are, even though many of the things they’re talking about were never mentioned by Vatican II and actually defy the explicit teachings of the Council.

Speaking of which, I’ve heard and read the claim that the Society of St. Pius X is “heretical” or schismatic because one must accept all the teachings of the Council to be Catholic, even though Pope Paul VI said otherwise and Pope Benedict has frequently critiqued certain aspects of the Council. Yet if that is the case, then why is there no action taken against liberal Catholics who openly defy express teachings of the Council, such as S.C.’s order that the Church provide classes in Latin to all laity?

Then there are the moral issues? Who’s really marginalized when Catholics with “large families” are mocked by their fellow Catholics, openly, and even at or after Mass? When I got engaged, and asked my pastor about NFP classes, he scoffed, and said, “I only know 2 families in the parish who are into that stuff. It’s not that important. You can just use birth control; it’s OK. If you really want to, I can give you the numbers of those couples, because I wouldn’t know anything about it.” At the same meeting, he told me he helped *design* his diocese’s Engaged Encounter Program, yet he claimed to know nothing about NFP! (Thankfully, a lot has changed since then, and many diocese in the SE are using Family Honor, but I’m not sure if it’s part of the official pre-Cana process yet). I was grateful he told me we could do it in any diocese we wanted, since we were a long-distance engagement, so long as we provided the parish with a certificate. So we did our Engaged Encounter with the Diocese of Arlington, where about 1/3 was Theology of the Body and about 1/3 was NFP.

My wife once went to a lecture by the diocesan interfaith coordinator, shortly after the publication of _Dominus Iesus_, in which this priest insisted that then Cardinal Ratzinger was trying to “tie the hands of John Paul’s successor”! What a surprise for him that Cardinal Ratzinger *was* John Paul’s successor.

I have rarely been able to attend any parish meeting, adult class or spirituality group, or whatever, without grinding my teeth in frustration at the heterodoxy and dissent that are openly discussed, sometimes by people who have been educated in heterodoxy for so long that they don’t even know they’re material heretics! They *think* that traditionalists are the heretics who “don’t follow Vatican II,” and yet, if they actually took the time to read Vatican II, and compare the teachings of “both sides,” most Catholics would be shocked to discover that the Society of St. Pius X is far more in line with what Vatican *actually* teaches than what the habitless nuns and cassockless priests have told them for decades about the “spirit of Vatican II.”

This is why, when I read articles such as the one in the _Detroit News_, I get infuriated. And I get infuriated that, when traditional and conservative Catholics *express* their frustration at such articles, people say, “See?! That just proves traditionalists are vindictive and hateful!” During the Mother Angelica-Cardinal Mahony feud, Bishop Thomas Tobin, then of Mother’s hometown Youngstown, OH, wrote a fantastic piece (which I can’t find, so I have to link this article about it) in which he tried to play diplomat, but he observed that perhaps there is some justification in the anger of conservative Catholics who have been routinely shouted down and mocked since the Council.

Liberals run the religious ed programs and schools. They run the liturgy committees. They run most of the seminaries and diocesan vocation programs and–as many ex or would be seminary candidates, along with a few brave vocations directors and bishops have attested to–they specifically reject candidates they deem “too conservative” while promoting candidates who are at least friendly to liberals. Then they beat them down in the seminary with liberal indoctrination. And the religious houses have done the same thing, dwindling their numbers as they come to look like gay and lesbian communes, while the more orthodox communities are thriving. Yet as they get grayer and grayer, the “progressives” continue to insist they speak for “young Catholics.”

Where? Where are these “young Catholics” they claim to speak for? Why aren’t these “young Catholics” flocking to join liberal convents and liberal monasteries? If there are all these women who are supposedly “called the priesthood,” why aren’t they joining the LCWR affiliated convents in droves while they await their “dream pope” who will do all this for them?

And why is there no connection made to the fact that the Cardinal who *most* supported their “progressive” agenda has been completely disgraced as perhaps the worst offender when it came to covering up for sex-abuser priests–so much that other bishops knew he was the easy go-to man for re-assigning sex offenders to his diocese? Why is no one acknowledging that it was precisely Roger Mahony’s “liberal” attitudes towards homosexuality and sex that led him to support these priests?

But, no, liberals have no voice in the Church at all. Bloody hypocrites.

Why I am a conservative: The Fine Arts and the LCWR

There are two reasons I am a conservative.

The first reason is abortion.

The second reason might seem more trivial but is just as important and perhaps moreso: Beauty.

Both reasons tie to the fact that what I rejected were liberal or progressive Catholics.

For Russell Kirk, conservatism is primarily about what he, following T. S. Eliot, calls the “Permanent Things,” or what Mortimer Adler would call “The Great Ideas.” In 1986, Kirk added a chapter to his magnum opus _The Conservative Mind_, officially about T. S. Eliot but also dealing with Robert Frost, talking about how it is impossible to have a truly liberal poet (he notes Shelley as a possible exception) because poets are all about the Permanent Things. C. S. Lewis, in his inaugural address as chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge, _De Descriptione Temporum_, says that there are only three true historical periods. Today, we might call these the pre-Christian, Christian and post-Christian eras. Lewis argues that only 2 true changes ever occurred in history: the arrival of Christ, and the arrival of Modernity. He suggests that he sees Western Civilization as a continuum, with the Greeks at one end and Jane Austen at the other. While he thinks that the West has tapered off, he sees Jane Austen as the last solid example of a “Truly Western writer.”

Indeed, one of the reasons I went into English was to write a thesis on Lewis’s fascination with Jane Austen, though my thesis got redirected by my committee. We can further compare Lewis’s analysis of Western culture to G. K. Chesterton, who said that Western civilization is a back-and-forth of the Greco-Roman view (i.e., Renaissance, Neo-Classical) with the Judeo-Christian view (i.e., Medieval, Baroque, Romantic/Gothic). With the rise of artistic and intellectual modernism in the late 19th Century, something new happened. The Greeks and Romans saw the world as essentially divinely-given mathematical order. The Judeo-Christian view saw the world as a miserable place infused with divine beauty from which we reach out for God.

Modernism was the first widely accepted worldview, and the first artistic movement, based upon rejection of a notion of God. As one of the music critics in the old print _Crisis Magazine_ once put it, “Music died with Nietzsche’s God.”

One of the only times I had the opportunity to teach literature, as opposed to writing, was in the 2007-2008 academic year. I avoided being overt about revealing my political or religious views, but I *did* talk about these figures and guide my teaching of literature according to explaining the back and forth of those trends in culture. This led at least one of my students to raise her hand and ask if she was correct in guessing that I supported Mike Huckabee in that year’s primary (I did).

While I read most of Lewis’s work when I was 13 and 14, I didn’t read Kirk or Chesterton till college, though _The Conservative Mind_ was one of those books that, when I read it, I put it down and said, “THIS is what I believe”!

But I was conservative before I read any of them. I wasn’t conservative from my upbringing, other than the fact that my parents were staunchly pro-life. My parents started off as “Reagan Democrats.” My father was union activist in Pennsylvania, and I despise labor unions as institutions. I was born in Erie, PA, the hometown of “Sr.” Joan Chittister and PAX Christi USA. The bishop of Erie, when I was a child, was Michael Murphy, who infamously wanted to tear out seats in St. Peter’s Cathedral to make room for a stage for liturgical dance. His successor, Donald Trautman, is known for his courageous stance against pro-choice Catholic politicians . . . named Republican Tom Ridge.

Trautman is also known for spearheading liberalism in both liturgy and Scripture. He headed the committees that created the atrocious, and Vatican-Rejected, “revised Psalms” of the NAB. He has headed the USCCB’s liturgy committee numerous times, even beyond conventional term limits. Over a decade ago, he wrote a piece on liturgy in _America_ that elicited a response from some Vatican bishops, who wrote in the letters page of _America_ that Trautman’s article was essentially calling for a schism. Trautman single-handedly stonewalled implementation of the New Translation in the US, starting with his immediate reaction to, and rejection of, _Liturgiam Authenticam_ when it was issued and his insistence over the last 10 years that Americans are too dumb to know what words like “chalice” and “consubstantial” mean.

Somehow, in spite of that wide Catholic environment, in my early childhood I managed to pick up the beauty of Catholicism that Murphy and Trautman’s generations tried to strip away so meticulously, part in thanks to my parents’ guidance (though many others from similar backgrounds wouldn’t have gotten the same result). I was as bored at Mass as many children are, and clueless about what was going on or what the Readings or homilies said. I was awed by the stained glass windows, statues, the gothic architecture, the pipe organ, the choir, and the vestments and processions.

I read my Fr. Daniel Lord _Miniature Lives of the Saints_ I got for First Communion and was impressed by the piety of the saints. I read my “Children’s First Mass Books” I got for First Communion and was moved by the beauty of the prayers in it.

It was Beauty that called to me in the liturgy and in popular devotions before I understood anything.

I thought it was so cool that monks and nuns got to stand out by wearing their habits to show their love for Jesus.

Then we moved to the South, and while the South tends to be “conservative,” generally, and maybe southern Catholics are more actively pro-life, southern Catholics, especially the ones who are not transplants, tend to be rather liberal about their faith, because of the whole, “We have to avoid getting persecuted” mentality. When they’re conservative, they tend to be the racist kind of conservatives. So I spent the second half of my formative years surrounded by charismatics and progressives, and carrying the stigma that conservative=racist, and the only people who seemed to be externally following the Church’s teachings generally seemed to be stuck-up.

Yet, in spite of all that, I was drawn to Tradition.

I had plainclothes nuns and priests telling me that everything I found attractive about Catholicism was done away with by Vatican II.

While what drew me to the faith was its *difference* from the world, I was told that to be “relevant” and “attract the youth,” the Church had to embrace the world’s “pop culture,” that organs and traditional hymns had to be set aside for guitars and folksongs (nevermind that I had not yet really understood the great patrimony of traditional Catholic music; I was just working from congregational hymns). Stained glass windows (at least those depicting saints and biblical events) and statues had to be stripped away for colorful banners and potted plants. We’d have a big day for “Thanksgiving,” when Protestant Orange would be draped over the sacred altar and the vestments of the priest.

It made no sense to me that the religion of Aloysius Gonzaga, who walked on his own to daily Mass at age 3, or Stanislas Kostka who miraculously received Communion from an angel, was to be replaced by balloon Masses and “Glory and Praise for Kids,” that the faith which so many martyrs died for *PRECISELY* because they didn’t want to participate in the evils of their own cultures was now to be spread by embracing the evils of our contemporary culture.

John Paul II coined the term “Culture of Death” in _Evangelium Vitae_. Yes, the term has been used and abused since, and become a cliche, but if you actually read the encyclical, the context of the term might make even the most avid Ron Paul supporter blush (especially those who think the Pope is *in* on “the New World Order”), for His Holiness speaks of a vast worldwide conspiracy against Life and against the Catholic Church. If we’re going to speak of a “Culture of Death,” then we have to acknowledge that concept includes “culture,” that the Culture of Postmodernism is itself part-and-parcel of the Culture of Death. The culture of contraception, abortion, and euthanasia is also the culture of sex, drugs and Rock&Roll. If a worldwide conspiracy against the Catholic Church is trying to promote abortion, contraception, divorce and so many other evils, then one must also acknowledge that such a conspiracy is involved with the government pays for crucifixes in urine or feces on images of the Blessed Mother. If we’re fighting against these evils attacking human life and the family, then we must also attack the culture which encourages people to participate in immorality, so they feel the “need” for abortion, contraception and divorce as “protection” against their own immorality that the culture has taught them is inevitable.

Those same nuns were all about “helping the poor”–which is laudable, but not when it’s politically subordinated to abortion (a position refuted by Bl. John Paul II in _Evangelium Vitae_) or worse when it’s subordinated to spirituality. In that sense, it was not so much abortion that made me conservative as “Catholicism is about serving the poor, not all that prayer stuff. You shouldn’t be doing Eucharistic Adoration. The Eucharist is supposed to be about going out and serving the poor, not staying around and worshipping it. Marian devotion was done away with by Vatican II, and it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re supposed to be serving the poor.” And to a disabled kid, whose parents were basically teetering on poverty as it was, being told that the only “true” way to serve Christ was by helping the poor, came off as essentially telling me I was damned (if their worldview was true), and it seemed hypocritical of them to be so worried about poor people who *weren’t* Catholic but not about those in their own parish, to go out and do habitat for humanity but not be bothered to help a parishioner who was likely going to die before age 20.

So *that* is why I’m a conservative. Now, as an adult, I’ve seen the faults of many who call themselves conservative, but take solace in that most of them are more neocons, anyway, but the fundamental issues still remain.

Now, I knew my understanding of Catholicism was validated by JPII, sort of, and I knew it was validated by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (which is why I spent most of my life till 2005 waiting for him to be Pope, and literally hit the ceiling when he did), and by Cardinal Arinze, and Mother Angelica, and so many saints. I knew my view of Catholicism was validated by Kirk, and Chesterton, and Dietrich von Hildebrand, etc.

However, the struggle against the habitless nuns and their cronies has raged on. It is amazing how there are so many people out there who consider themselves devout and practicing Catholics, whose worldviews are so completely different, who totally embrace “Vatican II” (or rather the “Spirit of Vatican II,” since the Council itself never said or advocated most of what they claim it did), who think that Joan Chittister and Rembert Weakland (even in spite of the latter’s disgrace) embody the “true” faith, it can be quite disheartening. Look at _Commonweal_, _America_, _US Catholic_, _St. Anthony Messenger_, or _Maryknoll_. Look at the “we’re not liberal” Catholics at Vox Nova and “Catholics United for the Common Good.” Look at so many “Catholic” colleges and institutions, like Georgetown, which invited Kathleen Sebelius to be its commencement speaker, even in the current crisis. While many of these people are intentional agents of Communism and Freemasonry, many of them really *are* well-meaning, but totally brainwashed, and think they’re following the Church. And they insist that their “view of Catholicism” is at least a perfectly valid one, if not the only valid one, and the Pope and “the Bishops” (even though many of the bishops in the US agree with them) are “out of touch.”

So, with all that said, the second great gratification came seven years after the installation of Pope Benedict XVI, when the Vatican issued its “smackdown” of the Leadership Council of Women Religious a few weeks ago. Finally, the Vatican has confirmed that all those habitless nuns are way off-base, regarding their subordination of both moral issues and personal spirituality to social justice (which is a perfectly valid concern in its proper context). Finally, they’re being told to put their habits back on.

The Culture Wars are Real, and It’s Time to Draw a Line

A year or two before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Cardinal Woytyla gave a sermon in which he said that the Church is engaged in the greatest conflict in her history. Nearly 20 years later, in 1995’s _Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)_, Bl. JPII would speak of the war between a Culture of Death and a Culture of Life.

Yet, somehow, even today, there are Catholics who insist there’s no such thing as a “Culture War,” and that those of us who speak of a “Culture War” are Right Wing racists.

Now, in 2012, Benedict XVI has made a similar statement to the US Bishops in their ad limina visit, that our country with its proud heritage of religious freedom is facing an unprecedented attack on that very freedom, and that he’s greatly concerned with the things coming out of the Obama Administration.

Those bishops, in turn, down to the most liberal bishops like Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, have spoken out against Obama’s attempt to force Catholic doctors to provide contraception, Catholic insurers to pay for it, and Catholic employers to pay for it in their insurance plans. Initially, even some liberal Catholic publications stood with the bishops in defending freedom of conscience, but when Obama offered his ludicrous “compromise” (if contraception is a “free” option on insurance plans, then the Church wouldn’t technically be paying for it), now the usual suspects (most notably, _America_ Magazine) have called on the bishops to be more tolerant and compromise. One Obama Administration official even tried to say that the US Bishops have always opposed the “Health Care Reform” act commonly known as Obamacare, and that this is just a guise for their Republican activism! HAH! Timothy Cardinal Dolan of NYC has called them out on this boldfaced lie, noting how the USCCB actively supported health care reform *other* than its inclusion of abortion and contraception.

Indeed, this writer, for one, was sorely disappointed in how actively the US Bishops *did* promote Obama’s health care agenda. It seemed like it was another case of them just paying lip service to opposing abortion and contraception, and totally ignoring the fact that the Catholic Church condemns socialism.

Yet, “The Catholic bishops are just a bunch of Right Wing Activists” has become the talking point of the Left. The very fact that this whole thing is about crushing the Catholic Church is shown in the many comments from the Left that the Church’s position on contraception is unfair to women, that this is not about freedom of religion (“because your religion is wrong”), etc.

Again, the Obama Administration is using the support of liberal Catholics like the folks at _America_ and numerous liberal Catholic pundits around the country to argue that the bishops are “out of touch” with “rank and file” laity. Nancy Pelosi, who shows that she’s possessed by the fact that she wouldn’t even utter the name of Jesus when asked when Jesus became Flesh, says that she’ll “stand with my fellow Catholics in supporting the President in this bold step.”

8 years ago, Pat Buchanan said that the murder of Terri Schiavo ought to be the watershed moment in the culture wars, that there was no going back. Most certainly, nothing so clearly marked the lines of the Culture Wars than that event. Liberals and some “conservatives” were absolutely convinced that Michael Schiavo was a noble crusader for the “right to die.” Pro-lifers were convinced that the Schindlers were noble crusaders for the right to life. There was no middle ground. There could be no middle ground.

A great judicial injustice–that one single judge who had numerous behind the scenes issues with his legitimacy as a judge and his collusion with Michael Schiavo could keep ruling on the same case without appeal–was rectified by Terri’s Law, the federal law passed to allow a federal appeals court to hear the case. The federal courts refused, saying they had no jurisdiction–even though Congress had just used its Constitutional authority to *give* them jurisdiction. At first, the Republicans in the House suggested impeachment hearings for Contempt of Congress against the federal justices involved, but when the media and the Congressional Democrats expressed outrage, and the bugaboo of a “Constitutional Crisis” was raised, the Republicans backed down, and Terri was cruelly starved to death.

That should have been it, but nothing happened.

Now, eight years later, we have this clear case of the government trying to force the Catholic Church to not only endorse but pay for artificial birth control, and you would think that would stand as a similar line of demarcation.

The bishops are saying, again, that this is a war against the Church. Yet when the Senate voted last week on an Amendment to provide conscientious objection in Obamacare, the Senate voted it down, and 13 “Catholic” senators voted against the Church. Again, Nancy Pelosi and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, both “Catholics,” have stood firm with Obama. Why aren’t all of these people being excommunicated forthwith???

Now, we have the permutation of the Sandra Fluke Affair. This feminist activist testifies before Congress that she wants Congress to force Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, to pay for her birth control so she can fornicate at will, and Rush Limbaugh calls her a “slut” (which dictionary.com deampanfines as an “immoral or dissolute woman”), and the debate is over whether it was rude of Rush Limbaugh to call her that!!

Catholics are complaining that it was wrong to call her that, that her private activities are nobody’s business (then why did she testify about them before Congress?), etc.

It’s outrageous! When are we going to say enough is enough? I’m sick of being told that conservatives are divisive, that conservatives are hateful and vitriolic and venomous. I’m sick of being told that we should just look aside at the murder of 50 million babies. I’m sick of being told that rampant divorce and adultery and fornication are to be tolerated because “Jesus said not to judge.”

I’m sick of the people who act like Catholicism began with Vatican II, who balk at Tradition in every other respect, telling me that it’s traditional for Catholics to vote Democrat. I’m sick of being told “There are other issues besides abortion” when I cannot figure out *one* issue in which the Democrats are in accordance with Catholic teaching. I am sick of being told that I have to “CoExIsT” with people who want me dead. I’m sick of being told that I have to have “unity” with people who have a totally different worldview than I do. I’m sick of being told that I’m wrong to say there’s only one True Church, that no one has a monopoly on truth and all ideas should “CoExIsT,” but that the same people who say that will throw a hissy fit if you suggest that Biblical Creation or even Aristotelian Intelligent Design should be taught in conjunction with Darwinism.

I’m sick of liberal Catholics trying to claim that they are “good Catholics” when they vote for the Democrats, oppose Papal teaching, support artificial birth control, oppose the Reform of the Reform, oppose the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy, oppose traditional devotions, oppose Latin, oppose any Catholic teaching that comes before 1960, and totally ignore Leo XIII’s condemnation of the Americanist Heresy. I’m sick to death of being told that I have to accept such people as my fellow Catholics, when they very clearly are heretics and are not in any way shape or form Catholic, other than the fact that they show up every now and then to receive Communion sacrilegiously.

This *IS* a Culture War, and the Church *IS* under attack, and it’s time we acknowledged it, and it’s time we started by identifying the traitors who are attacking the Church from within.

My Funeral, and thereabouts.

Basics of what I want for my funeral, when the time comes:
1. Somewhere in the mix, I want the following hymns:
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Now We Remain
On Eagle’s Wings
I am the Bread of Life
excerpts from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem (or the whole thing, if in the usus antiquor).

2. Readings, if the Eucharistic Liturgy is in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite:
Sirach, Chapter 18:1-13
Psalm 15 or Psalm 127
1 John 1-10
John 6:48-64

3. Ideally, I’d like the liturgy to be according to the usus antiquor of the Roman Rite or according to the Byzantine Rite, which might obviate parts of 1 & 2. Regardless of Mass, I would like to have the Office of the Dead prayed in community for me the day of my funeral, as well as the Rosary (Luminous Mysteries), Divine Mercy Chaplet (at 3 PM) and Paraklesis

So, ideally:

Scenario 1:
In the morning, Office of the Dead–Office of Readings and Morning Prayer according to the modern Roman Rite, with “Now We Remain” as the opening hymn.
Just before Mass, “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring”.
Holy Mass in the usus antiquor of the Roman Rite, with Lloyd Webber’s settings.
“I Am the Bread of Life” for Communion.
At 3 in the Afternoon a Eucharistic Holy Hour (give or take) consisting of
O Salutaris/Exposition
Come, Holy Spirit
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Sirach, Chapter 18:1-13
Rosary (Luminous Mysteries)
1 John 1-10
Service of Paraklesis recited; chanted if possible, with John 6:48-64 as the Gospel
Vespers according to the modern Roman Rite, with “On Eagle’s Wings” as the opening hymn.
Benediction, with Tantum Ergo, the Te Deum and Flos Carmeli as the hymns. St. Michael Prayer.

Scenario 2:
Office of the Dead, Office of Readings and Morning prayer, according to the modern Roman Rite, with “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” as the opening hymn.
Funeral according to the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

At 3 o’clock, Eucharistic Exposition and Holy Hour (give or take):
O Salutaris
Divine Mercy Chaplet
“Now We Remain”
Rosary, Luminous Mysteries
“On Eagle’s Wings”
Sirach, Chapter 18:1-13
1 John 1-10
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Requiem, parts 1-4
John 6:48-64
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Requiem, parts 5-8
Evening Prayer from the modern Office of the Dead, “I Am the Bread of Life” as the hymn
Benediction, with Tantum Ergo, Te Deum, and Flos Carmeli as the hymns. St. Michael Prayer.

Scenario 3:

Office of the Dead, modern Roman Rite, combined with the funeral liturgy in the Ordinary Form.
Hymns:
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Now We Remain
On Eagle’s Wings
I am the Bread of Life

Readings:
Sirach, Chapter 18:1-13
Psalm 15 or Psalm 127
1 John 1-10
John 6:48-64

At 3 o’clock:
Exposition, with O Salutaris
Divine Mercy Chaplet
Rosary (Luminous)
Lloyd Webber Requiem
Paraklesis
Evening Prayer from the Office of the Dead
Benediction, with Tantum Ergo, Te Deum, Flos Carmeli and St. Michael Prayer

Here is the text of the Byzantine Funeral Service

Treatise Against Sedevacantism II: Bad Hermeneutics

The problem with Sedevacantism is it undermines every Catholic apologetic versus Protestantism or Orthodoxy. When it comes to considering the questions of Orthodoxy and Protestantism, a Catholic points out that the Catholic Church is the most truly “universal” form of Christianity, and the most truly evangelical. Protestant sects continually divide over every dispute. They have no sense of authority other than the “book.” They are very provincial. Orthodoxy is equally provincial, but doesn’t win converts. Only the Catholic Church has the full sense of what Christianity should be. If the sedevacantists are right, she doesn’t.

Most importantly, if the Seat is vacant, then where is our standard of authority? As Catholics, we are to see the primary authority not in any book but in the living authority of the occupant of the Chair of St. Peter. Sedevacantists are textual fundamentalists: they look at the pre-Vatican II texts, and the Vatican II texts, and they balk at any apparent contradiction. Rather than considering historical context. For example, Pius XII was condemning very specific things that were going on in specific countries at the time of his writing. Pius XII in many of the RadTrads’ favorite passages was writing to specific audiences about contexts that were specific to his day. It’s like today when a Pope writes about something going on in some dictatorship, and liberal Catholics take the teaching and assume it applies to what’s going on in the US.

Pius XII was very clear in defining what he was condemning: a certain notion of liberty or “freedom of conscience” which separates the individual from both society and the Church. He was specifically condemning radical libertarianism and the French model of “liberty.”

Meanwhile, certain passages from Paul VI get taken out of context, particularly the following from Paul VI (Address During the Last General Meeting of the Second Vatican Council, 7 December 1965):

Secular humanism, revealing itself in its horrible anti-clerical reality has, in a certain sense, defied the council. The religion of the God who became man has met the religion (for such it is) of man who makes himself God. And what happened? Was there a clash, a battle, a condemnation? There could have been, but there was none. The old story of the Samaritan has been the model of the spirituality of the council. A feeling of boundless sympathy has permeated the whole of it. The attention of our council has been absorbed by the discovery of human needs (and these needs grow in proportion to the greatness which the son of the earth claims for himself). But we call upon those who term themselves modern humanists, and who have renounced the transcendent value of the highest realities, to give the council credit at least for one quality and to recognize our own new type of humanism: we, too, in fact, we more than any others, honor mankind.

RadTrads are fond of quoting the above passage by starting with “The religion of the God who became man” but leaving out the part where Paul VI calls secular humanism “horrid” and “anti-clerical.” He says secular humanism has “defied the Council,” yet the sedevacantists try to use this very passage, inexplicably, to accuse Paul VI of secular humanism!!!tw

A similar conflict occurred in the late Renaissance.  In the Renaissance, two forms of “humanism” emerged: one embodied by Erasmus, and the other by St. Thomas More.  More was criticized by many in the Church merely for being a “humanist”, even though his humanism was not in conflict with Catholic teaching.

A few centuries earlier, St. Thomas Aquinas was criticized for trying to reconcile Aristotle to the fath.

Why is it evil for a Pope to suggest a different approach to dealing with the world, an approach of sympathy?  I cannot understand what there is to object to in this passage, unless one is admitting to a view of judgementalism and hatred?

In my Carmelite group, which has some pretty brilliant people, including two highly trained theologians, it always strikes me that I’m the only one trained in literature, and while I often regret that I never got a theology degree, it amazes me now how much my literature degree has helped me better understand theology.

Text is always open to interpretation, reinterpretation and misinterpretation.  Text is never absolute.  As Catholics, we know we must look at the Bible through the guidance of the Church.  We know that the Biblical authors were writing in historical contexts that we must understand to fully understand what they’re saying.  We know that the Biblical authors were addressing specific audiences about specific issues, and we must consider those audiences and issues.

Did Jesus have “brothers” or “brethren”?  Or did Jesus speak a language, Aramaic, which had one word for both?  When Paul says things about fasting or eating meat, was he talking about Catholic disciplinary practices or was he talking about things the Gnostics were doing?  We understand, as Catholics, that we must read the Bible with the Church’s guidances, yet somehow radical traditionalists think they can read the Church’s documents without the Church’s guidance and take them out of context.

If the Church tells me how to read a document, I’m going to listen to the Church’s guidance on how to read that document. My job as a Catholic is to believe in order to understand.  I trust my own reason only so far, and I do not presume the arrogance to think that I’m smarter than, say, Cardinal Burke or Cardinal Dulles or Cardinal Arinze or certainly Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict.

“It’s still Jesus”

When one criticizes contemporary/folk/hippie Masses online, a common response is “It’s still Jesus.”
Well, that depends upon the priest and whether he’s saying the words of the Mass correctly, but of course it’s valid–that’s the point.

The point is: are we giving Jesus the reverence He deserves? Is it right to participate in something we believe very strongly is irreverent to Jesus?

Back during the Mother Angelica/Cardinal Mahony fight in 1998, Bishop Thomas Tobin, then of Youngstown, pointed out that, while Cardinal Mahony’s defense was that he mentioned transubstantiation in a footnote, there is something very wrong about reducing transubstantiation to a footnote.

There is something wrong if the best we can say about the Divine Liturgy is, “At least it’s still Jesus.”

Let’s get our political terminology down

For many people, political terms are “insults”. Liberals don’t like being identified as liberals. Now, some who are actually socialists don’t like being identified as liberals, and that’s fine, since they’re not liberals. In the conservative movement, “paleocon” and “neocon” are often interpreted or used as insults, even though they were originally coined by those who held those beliefs.

The neoconservatives were a specific group of Reagan-era intellectuals, “Reagan Democrats,” who had once been liberals but didn’t like how the American Left went in the late 60s and the 70s. Further, proving Churchill’s famous statement about being a liberal when you’re young and a conservative when you’re old, the original neocons–men like Michael Novak, Richard John Neuhaus, etc.,–were thinkers who rejected certain of their liberal beliefs from their youth. However, when they became conservatives, they decided to use the federal power to enforce their views, just as liberals do. It was the neocons who convinced Reagan that, rather than abolishing the Department of Education as he’d promised, he should use the Department of Education to promote “standards and accountability” and “values-based education” across the country. Neocons promoted an activist foreign policy more like that of Wilson and Kennedy. Finally, as neocons became the predominent voice of the Republican Party, they pushed not just for overturning _Roe v. Wade_ or passing a Human Life Amendment (we don’t really need one, because we already have one; it’s called the Fourteenth), they instead wanted to pass a federal ban on abortion, starting with a federal ban on partial birth abortion.

Meanwhile, the original people to call themselves “paleoconservatives” were people like Russell Kirk and Patrick Buchanan themselves. They saw how conservatism was turning under Reagan, and they saw their more traditional views going to the “fringe.”

Yet, rather than being terms to define a particular view, these terms are often used as insults. Many people hear or say “paleoconservative” and think “Anti-Semite” or “Fascist.” Many people hear “neo-con” and think “That person calling me a neocon must be a racist.” “Neocon” has been ironically adopted by the Left in recent years to refer to warmongering Republicans, yet somehow they fail to recognize that the point of the term “neocon” is to distinguish anti-war conservatives from pro-war conservatives, and that those who are identified as “neocons” are usually criticized from the Right for being too liberal.

In the late 90s, when he conducted the Crisis Catholic Voter Survey, Deal Hudson sociologically proved that “Catholics” do not form a voting block, but that Catholics’ voting behaviors were associated with Church attendance. Having been around the block a few times, I’d argue that it’s even more nuanced than that. Catholics run the gamut. If you look up “neoconservative” and “paleoconservative”, you’ll find Catholic thinkers identified under both categories (Kirk, Buckley, Sobran and Buchanan, for example, or Neuhaus, M. Novak and Hudson). Oddly enough, both movements are considered “Catholic” movements within conservatism. Then on the left, of course, you’ll find Catholics prominent among all streams of Leftist thought. While many consider Catholicism and Libertarianism incompatible (especially if their view of libertarianism is Randian Objectivism), you’ll find many Catholics who are libertarians–and likely the ingellectual heavyweights of libertarianism. And, sadly, just as you’ll find Catholics who are Communist (Liberation Theologians), you’ll find some Catholics who are Fascists. Therefore, to distinguish categories from name calling, I thought I’d point out the idifferences between these groups on some of the key lines that distinguish the different nuances between movements.

On Abortion
Fascist: Abortion is good, and may sometimes be necessary
Libertarian: Abortion should be up to individuals
Paleoconservative: Abortion should be illegal at the state level
Neoconservative: Abortion should be against federal law
Liberal: Abortion should be up to individuals
“Progressive”/Socialist: Federal government should pay for abortions
Communist: Abortion is good, and may sometimes be necessary

On Foreign Policy
Fascist: People of a nationality should stick together; those of superior races should rule over others
Libertarian: Countries should mind each others’ own business
Paleoconservative: Countries should mind each others’ own business
Neoconservative: We should use global foreign policy to “promote Democracy” and fight various “threats to Democracy”
Liberal: We should use global foreign policy to “promote Democracy” and fight various “threats to Democracy”, and the world should work together as an egalitarian community
“Progressive”/Socialist: The world should work together as an egalitarian community. Ideally, there should be no national boundaries at all.
Communist: There should be no national boundaries at all

On War:
Fascist: War is good.
Libertarian: anti-war
Paleocon: anti-war, except legitimately defensive war
Neocon: defensive war can be broadly defined as a war to overthrow a government on the other side of the world that may theoretically pose a threat to US security. See also, Liberal
Liberal: War to promote democracy is good. See also, paleocon
“Progressive”/Socialist: War is bad, unless it’s the Revolution
Communist: War is bad unless it’s the Revolution

On Education
Fascist: Total government control, top-down. Education should be controlled by the state and teach the state’s view of things.
Libertarian: No public education
Paleocon: Public education should be locally controlled
Neocon: The federal government should be used to control public education with values education, national standards and accountability. We want to make all public schools teach the values that paleocons believe in, but in the most watered down way possible.
Liberal: The federal government should be used to control public education with values education, national standards and accountability. It’s just that we disagree about what values to teach and what standards to promote.
Progressive/Socialist: Federal government should control public education, and teach the most basic civil virtues. Standards are good if no one is made to feel bad about themselves, and if the standards promote our view of history, science, economics and politics.
Communism: Total government control, top-down. Education should be controlled by the state and teach the state’s view of things.

Now, people often balk at applying political terminology to the Church, but it can’t be denied that, especially post-Vatican II, the way Catholics see the Church and the way they see society often run parallel. Catholics who are more progressive politically will be more “progressive” in their view of the Church: they want rock music and women priests, etc. Catholics who are more traditional in their views of religion and morality are going to adopt a more traditional view of society. Indeed, you’ll probably find the greatest diversity of political views among traditional Catholics than other groups in the Church. Among traditionalists, you’re most likely to find monarchists, paleocons, and libertarians. However, there are traditionalists who are old school liberals, and there are sadly some traditionalists who are Fascists, but they’re mostly of the schismatic variety.

But Neocons are interesting, because if any “faction” in the Church best matches up to neoconservatism, it’s the Charismatics: they embrace Vatican II wholeheartedly, even to the point of embracing “the Spirit of Vatican II”. They may respect some aspects of tradition, but Catholics who are politically neocons tend to be as opposed to Summorum Pontificum, Liturgiam Authenticam and the Reform of the Reform as liberals are. When liturgy comes up, Catholics of a more paleocon bent are more likely to prefer GIA and Oregon Catholic Press. They’re more likely to be OK with altar chicks. They may be OK with a little Latin in the Sanctus or Agnus Dei, or a hymn or two. They may even be OK with the Gloria in Latin, but the idea of even saying the Novus Ordo in Latin is anathema to them.

Even beyond liturgy, then come questions of interpretation of Vatican II texts, and the question of which side of continuity one emphasizes in the “Hermeneutic of Continuity”. Neocons sound a lot like liberals when it comes to interpretation of Vatican II–they are willing to drop entire chunks of traditional Catholic teaching if it seems Vatican II “overturned” those teachings. Even while talking “hermeneutic of continuity” they don’t seem too concerned about making it fit, but merely accepting, “Vatican II says what it says, so I don’t have to worry about anything the Church might have said before.”

One Neocon I frequently argue with, for example, holds that Vatican II’s broad teachings on freedom of conscience and the possibility of baptism by desire mean that we don’t have to be concerned about the salvation of Muslims. This person will say, in one breath, that Islam is an evil religion and should be wiped out by military force and then, when confronted with the need to save the souls of the individual Muslims, say, “We are not supposed to judge their individual souls.” So, we can kill them because they’re evil, but we can’t try to convert them because we shouldn’t judge them. OK.

It *IS* Christmas every day!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

A common expression, often related to the joy of getting, is “Why can’t it be Christmas every day?”

For those who judge things by feelings, Christmas gives good feelings and therefore should be every day.

Fair enough. Yes, it would be nice if everyone lived in a spirit of giving and peace and love and all that.

But the one way to make that happen is to realize the TRUE meaning of Christmas.

Isn’t it funny how many television shows and movies set out to tell us the “true meaning of Christmas is giving” or “the true meaning of Christmas is family” or “the true meaning Christmas is children,” or all these things that *aren’t* the “true” meaning of Christmas? Overtly, they’re telling us to think of Christmas as being “about” those things, as opposed to gifts and parties and decorations. However, subtly, they’re also telling us that the “true meaning of Christmas” is giving or charity or love or family or children instead of Christ’s birth.

Christmas is the day we celebrate the day God became man. Most Americans, like Joan Osborne, seem to have missed the memo while opening their presents from “Santa Claus”: God *is* one of us. Jesus Christ Emmanual (the Anointed Savior, God-with-us), the Word of God, became flesh and dwelled among us, and we have seen his glory.

Yet He did not just become flesh and go away. The hope of Christmas is that God came to love us and save us. The hope of Easter is that Jesus rose from the dead so we could, too.

Most people don’t seem to realize that most Catholic/Fundamentalist issues boil down to one principle. I forget the exact verse or quotation, but it is, I think, from Hebrews, that Jesus rose to the Father’s right hand and will stay there to the end or something. Catholics most certainly believe that–indeed, we use it as one of the “proof text” arguments against the Rapture, since Scripture is clear Christ will not return in full bodily form until the end.

However, evangelicals take this passage as an indication that Jesus is no longer man. This is why they deny Mary is Theotokos: Jesus was God-Man on earth, but, they say, now that He has risen, He is no longer man any more, even though He ate food in almost every post-Resurrection appearance.

Jesus promised to leave us orphans, and He didn’t. He who was born in the House of Bread (Bethlehem) proclaimed Himself to be the Bread of Life and proclaimed bread and wine to be now His Body and Blood.

“Christmas” means “Christ’s Mass.” Christ’s Mass takes place every day. It is amazing how many people show up for Christmas Mass. The priest at the Mass I attended said they had 12 masses at his parish for Christmas. Many of these people are “CAPE Catholics” (Christmas, Ashes, Palms and Easter) who “fly away” the rest of the year. Many are Protestants who come, either because their churches don’t have services for Christmas or they recognize the greater solemnity of Catholic worship for the occasion.

One Christmas, when one of our patrons, St. Louis IX of France, was meditating on the Nativity in his private chambers. A courtier burst in. “Your majesty! There has been a great miracle at Midnight Mass in the palace chapel! While the priest uttered the words of consecration, the face of Christ appeared in the Host!”
The king, perturbed, turned and asked, “Why have you interrupted my meditation on the birth of Our Lord and Savior to tell me of a miracle which occurs at every Mass?”

The Christmas Miracle happens every day. God becomes flesh at every Mass. If everyone took advantage of that gift, every day *would* be Christmas.