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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dino Marcantonio - Parts of the Church Building: The Altar Rail

I recently noted that architect Dino Marcantonio has continued his "Parts of the Church Building" series which he sets within the context of a discourse by St. Germanus of Constantinople (ca. 641-733 A.D.) -- you may wish to read Benedict XVI's own discourse on St. Germanus himself, given April 29, 2009, which also includes some liturgical considerations.

Here is an excerpt from his most recent entry:
Parts of the Church Building: the Altar Rail

Continuing our series on the parts of the church building, St. Germanus goes on to say:

8. The entablature is the legal and holy decoration, representing a depiction of the crucified Christ by means of a decorated cross.

9. The chancel barriers indicate the place of prayer: the outside is for the people, and the inside, the Holy of Holies , is accessible only to the priests. The barriers, made of bronze, are like those around the Holy Sepulchre, so that no one might enter there by accident.

An entablature is a decorated beam supported by either a wall or at least two columns. (More on that here.) In this case, it is supported by columns as St. Germanus is referring to the barrier dividing the nave from the chancel, or sanctuary. In fact, the word chancel derives from the Latin word for gates, cancelli (pronounced kan-chelly).

However, St. Germanus is not describing what we call a chancel screen in the West. A chancel screen separates the nave (the area traditionally reserved for the laity) from the choir and the sanctuary (the area traditionally reserved for clergy). The barrier St. Germanus describes separates the sanctuary from the choir. It is the boundary of the Holy of Holies, and is the forerunner of the eastern iconostasis and the western altar rail.

A view from the choir looking toward the
sanctuary at Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.
Columns and entablature atop the low wall,
or templon, mark the boundary of the sanctuary.
In antiquity, curtains hung between the columns

[Image source]

Read the remainder of the piece here: Parts of the Church Building: the Altar Rail - Dino Marcantonio, Architect.

While inviting you to read the remainder there, I cannot resist showing you this image, which Dino shares later on in his article, of the beautiful Church of Elijah the Prophet in Yaroslavl, Russia.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Part of the Rupture....From a Unique Place....

Hand missals are one of the few things that all factions of the Church today can agree on. One the one hand there are the traditionalists who swear by them, by and large. Then there are the liberals who make sure that a missalette is in almost every pew, in almost every mainstream church. And the reason is simple and agreed upon by both increase participation. But there is a question that is the end of the hand missal a good one? I'll elaborate.

Yes, we're to participate in the Mass. No question about that. But there are two types, participatio activa and participatio actuosa. I've gone on about that argument for years and years. (source) I will posit that the use of a hand missal is not a way to participatio acutosa, but simply a means to to participatio activa. If we are to engage the Mass in an internal way, the hand missal, it would seem, is an impediment to that. Flipping to different parts of the Mass become the focus and paying attention to the liturgical action becomes dependent on whether or not one is turning to the right spot at the right time. And what happens if a wrong ribbon is turned? Scrambling to find the right place...

I would argue that it is far more important that the individual enters his mind and heart and soul to the Mass by offering his prayers AS THE CELEBRANT OFFERS THE MASS, rather than making sure that he is following along at the proper place in the missal.

I am making the move to not using the hand missal at all. It is better that I offer the prayers without the "worship aid" and simply enjoining my prayers to that of the MEDIATOR OFFERING THE PRAYERS AT THE ALTAR. I am using the hand missal during the week to understand the Mass, so that when Sunday comes, I can worship, by participatio actuosa, rather than being bound to the action of flipping through the hand missal. I also realize that people are in a different place, and that they may NEED the hand missal, but I firmly believe that if one were to use the hand missal during the week to know the prayers and readings, then he would not need it on Sunday.

I also believe that this is one of the keys to an authentic renewal in the liturgy. Far too many people, both liberal and conservative are reliant on things which impede proper worship at the altar. If we are to properly understand the liturgical action, as envisioned by the Council Fathers, then it isn't by understanding the accidents of the Mass, but understanding the essence of the Mass. Understanding that there are accidents WHICH ARE MORE APPROPRIATE is important, but the essence of the Mass key. I think that ultimately the use of the hand missal at Mass is a hinderance, but it is necessary insofar as people need to understand the catechetical nature OUTSIDE the Mass, then apply it INSIDE the Mass....through worship (participatio actuosa), not through participatory actions (participatio activa). The hand missal is the latter.

An Appeal to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, Pertaining to the Instruction/Clarification of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

Go to this website and sign....

Background from our friends over at NLM.  Shawn says it better than I could.

This appeal came out of information coming from a variety of sources, suggesting that the forthcoming Instruction on Summorum Pontificum may contain restrictive elements (or, at very least, elements that could be interpreted restrictively) thereby having the adverse effect of limiting the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in some manner – or at least making this more possible.

Obviously, we do not presume to know what the text may say. However, in checking in with a variety of our own sources, we have confirmed that there is a very real and substantive reason for some concern here. Substantial enough that a joint, multi-blog, international appeal has been launched:

The appeal does not presume to know or state what the actual contents of this proposed instruction are, however, in the light of the aforementioned reports, and given credible confirmations that there is reason for concern, it simply wishes to calmly and respectfully share our concern with the Holy Father about this potentiality, asking that, whatever is finally released, that the integrity of the letter and the spirit of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum be clearly and unambiguously fostered.

If, in the end, there is nothing to any of this, then we shall all be very thankful indeed and rejoice. But if there is substance to this, then at least our concern will have been respectfully voiced to our beloved Holy Father and also to our pastors.

Who should then sign this? Everyone who is concerned with liturgical patrimony and mutual enrichment. Whether you are attached to the Ordinary Form and see a reform of the reform, a re-enchantment, as your primary liturgical focus, or the usus antiquior, the other Western liturgical rites/uses, or even Eastern Christian, I believe we all have something potentially at stake here, either in practice, in effect, or in principle at very least.

Please sign this appeal as soon as possible and please spread the word.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Women Priests Demonstrate Profound Faithfulness to God from NCR....

Jamie Manson
Late last week, a new iPhone app designed to help Catholics prepare for the confessional made its debut. The app tailors its questions to a person’s gender and vocation. So if you punch in both “female” and “priest,” you immediately receive the message “sex and vocation are incompatible.”

The women and men featured in the new documentary Pink Smoke would beg to differ.

This weekend Pink Smoke had its debut as part of the Athena film festival hosted by Barnard College in New York. The film had been screened previously at the national Call to Action conference last November. The documentary chronicles the fight against the injustice of the ban on women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church.

The film’s title refers to the action taken by the Women’s Ordination Conference in the days leading to the elevation of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. Imitating the Vatican’s symbol of white smoke sent into the air after the election of a pope, the activists burned Pink Smoke to raise awareness of the critical lack of women in the papal election process.

Angela Bonavoglia, Jules Hart, Jean Marchant, and Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois speak on a panel about the documentary 'Pink Smoke' at Barnard College in New York Feb. 12 (NCR photo/ Jamie L. Manson)
Attendees at the Barnard screening were treated not only to the film, but also to a panel discussion featuring filmmaker Jules Hart, Good Catholic Girls author Angela Bonovoglia, Roman Catholic Womenpriest (RCWP) Jean Marchant, and Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who received a letter from the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008 warning him of excommunication for refusing to recant support for women’s ordination.

These latter three panelists are also featured in Hart’s film, along with a variety of players in the women’s ordination movement. Interestingly, Hart herself is not a Catholic.

For those who have invested time and energy into supporting the movement, the film serves as a helpful review of the highlights in the struggle for women’s ordination. Those who are less knowledgeable about its history will benefit greatly from this hour-long introduction into the key historical moments and theological convictions behind the effort to achieve the full inclusion of women in the Roman Catholic priesthood.

The film touches on the verse from Romans 16:7 where Paul refers to a woman named Junia as an apostle. Archeologist Dorothy Irvin’s explorations into the evidence of women “presbytera” in the early church, found in frescos in catacombs, is also highlighted briefly.

Irvin’s research indicates that images of women in ministerial positions were eradicated after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 313 CE.

A segment is also dedicated to Ludmila Javorová, who was secretly ordained in 1970 by Bishop Felix Maria Davidék so that she could serve the underground Roman Catholic Church during Czechoslovakia’s communist rule.

Javorova remained silent about her ordination until 1995 -- six years after the fall of communism -- when she told her story to Miriam Therese Winters who published the interview in the book Out of the Depths.

But the heart of the film really belongs to the Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Their movement is traced back to the 2002 ordination of seven women on a boat that sailed the Danube River, avoiding the jurisdictions of German and Austrian bishops.

One year later, an unidentified male bishop in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church ordained two of the original seven women as bishops. The RCWP believe that their ordinations are valid because of their unbroken line of apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church.

The RCWP believe that, because their ordinations were performed by bishops, they were ordained in a line of unbroken apostolic succession. The ordinations continued -- in 2005 on the St. Lawrence Seaway, which borders the U.S. and Canada, and then on the three rivers in Pittsburgh in 2006.

Several of the women who were ordained in these ceremonies, including Victoria Rue and Juanita Cordero, are interviewed in the film. Cordero’s late husband, former Jesuit Don Cordero, also lends humor and wisdom throughout the film.

Interestingly, the voice that is probably heard most throughout the documentary belongs to a male Catholic priest.

Bourgeois speaks movingly about his calling to follow his conscience when a long time friend and fellow activist, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, decided to pursue her life-long call to ordination through the RCWP. Bourgeois concedes that many priests fear losing their jobs, pensions and sacramental power if they speak out about the ordination of women.

But says Bourgeois: “I’d rather eat at a soup kitchen and be free rather than not do something that I’m called to do.”

During the panel discussion after the screening, Bourgeois admitted that he is embarrassed that it took him so long to speak out against this injustice. He says that he longs to speak about it to his priest friends and to bishops. But when he raises the issue, they immediately shut him down and refuse to talk about it.

“It is a power issue for them…there is a fear of losing privilege,” says Bourgeois

One of the film’s finest contributions is the way it evokes the sorrow of women who have been denied the ability to fully serve the church that they call home. Without a hint of anger, it depicts the longings of these women -- longings that can only come out of a deep commitment and even deeper love for the church.

In her the panel presentation, Marchant offered some insight into this pain.

Prior to her ordination, she served as director of healthcare ministry for the Boston Archdiocese. More than 70 percent of the members of the Catholic chaplains association are women. As chaplains, they build deep relationships with the sick and the dying. And, yet, when the time for last rites approaches, these women are forced to call a priest.

Typically, he does not know the patient and often fails to involve the female chaplain in the prayers and ministrations. For Marchant, offering the sacrament should be the culmination of the chaplain’s journey with the patient.

The one weakness of the film is its lack of younger voices. With the exception of a few scenes of an interview with NCR columnist Nicole Sotelo, who speaks powerfully about the importance of struggling for justice in the Catholic Church, all other interviewees appear to be baby boomers or older.

When I asked Marchant about the interest in the RCWP among young Catholic women, she said that she get many inquiries from newer generations.

“One of the dilemmas they face is that they are either working in the church and cannot afford to those their jobs, or they are over-committed by their careers and raising families.”

Currently 120 women in the U.S. have been ordained as RCWP.

Though members of the RCWP are considered excommunicated, many of them look forward to a future when they can be reintegrated into the Roman Catholic Church, should the church ever open the sacrament of holy orders to women.

But some critics of the movement have argued that the RCWP tests one of the great tenets of feminism, articulated by the late Audre Lorde: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

Scholars such as Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and Mary Hunt believe that Catholic women should think beyond ordination and seek a church that functions more like, in the words of Schüssler-Fiorenza, “a discipleship of equals.”

Most womenpriests identify themselves as “worker priests.” Though they carry on their professions in fields as various as teachers, non-profit workers, artists and architects, on weekends they celebrate liturgies in homes, non-Catholic university chapels, and Protestant churches.

These womenpriests dwell in the liminal space between the established, clerical world of the church and the revolutionary, risky world of the prophet. And, like many prophets before them, they find themselves in exile from the religious structure that they call home.

The womenpriests are manna for many Catholics who, too, are in exile; these communities of Catholics are clearly manna for the womenpriests as well.

Though it does not ask the question, Pink Smoke left me wondering to what extent this liminality actually gives birth to and maintains the integrity and faithfulness of the RCWP.

In many ways, their movement reflects the early Christian Church before it was accepted by the Empire. The risks that many womenpriests take infuse their ministries with a deep sense of commitment.

Their willingness to sacrifice the privileges and securities of paid ministry demonstrates a profound faithfulness to the God who has called them.

If womenpriests are one day permitted to reenter the established church, how much of their holy creativity and prophetic edge would be lost in the transition back into the institution?

Pink Smoke leaves you hoping that all of the grace received through their living as marginal church communities will be remembered and sustained when women are welcomed finally into the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church.

My responses...
"The documentary chronicles the fight against the injustice of the ban on women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church."

How can there be an injustice done when the vocation is incompatible with the person? I can never be a mother, so that vocation is incompatible with me, no matter how much I would like to have that particular bond with a child. So, too it is with women in the priesthood. How much stronger would the Church be if the energy chasing one's tail were put into supporting and fostering the priesthood which the Church has given to us. What a blessing that would be!!!
"Imitating the Vatican’s symbol of white smoke sent into the air after the election of a pope, the activists burned Pink Smoke to raise awareness of the critical lack of women in the papal election process."

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say....
" unidentified male bishop in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church ordained two of the original seven women as bishops. The RCWP believe that their ordinations are valid because of their unbroken line of apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church."

But they are invalid because there is not sufficent matter. Therefore, no ordination took place, as one of the three components of a valid sacrament was missing. (Consent, Form, Matter)
"One of the film’s finest contributions is the way it evokes the sorrow of women who have been denied the ability to fully serve the church that they call home. Without a hint of anger, it depicts the longings of these women -- longings that can only come out of a deep commitment and even deeper love for the church."

They have not been denied the ability to serve fully in the Church. If they would serve according to their state, as opposed to pining for something that they are not able to have, then they would be able to serve more properly. There are many men who cannot be priests, are they too being denied ability to serve fully? I think not. Fully serving is serving the Church to the fullest extent according to one's state in life....not to something they pine for.
"Most womenpriests identify themselves as “worker priests.” Though they carry on their professions in fields as various as teachers, non-profit workers, artists and architects, on weekends they celebrate liturgies in homes, non-Catholic university chapels, and Protestant churches."

If they believe themselves to be validly ordained, as stated above, why don't they present themselves for concelebration or to fill in when Father is away? Why do they limit themselves? Are they not cheating themselves out of fully serving? It would seem that they are.
"In many ways, their movement reflects the early Christian Church before it was accepted by the Empire. The risks that many womenpriests take infuse their ministries with a deep sense of commitment."

Archaelogicalism is not a valid position for justification within the Church. The Church does not dwell on the past, but ever forges ahead. The Church is not antiquarian, as you would like it to be. If that is the case, I would fully expect you to support the Mass which prior to 1969 had been celebrated over the past 1500 years? Will I see you as a regular at an EF Mass, soon?

What are your thoughts? How would you respond to this from NCR?


Monday, February 14, 2011

Iowa House subcommittee approves hmm abortion ban

via Mike Glover at the AP...

Abortions would be banned in Iowa, including in cases of rape and incest, under a bill approved Monday by a House subcommittee.

The measure defines life as beginning at conception. But opponents said the broad wording of the bill would also prohibit some forms of contraception and could have many other unintended consequences.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kim Pearson, said it was important for the Legislature to go on record as favoring protecting life.

"The real issue is life is sacred," said Pearson, R-Pleasant Hill. "I believe that abortion is murder. What I want to make sure is this culture values life."

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A subcommittee of the House Human Resources Committee approved the plan on a 2-1 vote, sending it to the full committee for more debate. It is one of two bills in the House aimed at imposing new restrictions on abortions.

Opponents said the measure's real goal is to provide a vehicle for challenging a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

"Their intent is to overturn Roe vs. Wade," said Kyle Carlson, a lobbyist Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Danny Carroll, of the conservative group Family Leader, conceded there would be court challenge should the measure eventually become law.

"There are a number of variables, Supreme Court review, state court review," said Carroll. "The main reason for passing this bill is it's simply the right thing to do."

The Human Resources Committee is also considering a bill that would put new restrictions on late-term abortions, but it hasn't gotten enough votes to move into the full House. Pearson and other conservatives argue that by restricting late-term abortions, lawmakers are essentially sanctioning abortions earlier in the pregnancy.

Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames, said the broad wording of the bill approved Monday would result in many unintended consequences.

Under the bill, she said, a pregnant woman could be charged with endangering the fetus if she smokes or consumes alcohol. She also said some forms of birth control that prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb would likely be banned under the measure.

"I believe contraception would be illegal under this bill," said Wessel-Kroeschell. "There are consequences when we pass legislation."

Before approving the measure, the panel heard testimony from Jennifer Minney, a Cedar Rapids woman who said she was pressured into getting an abortion by a former husband and has suffered ever since.

"Abortion is not over as soon as it's done," said Minney, who said she's battled with alcohol and depression since she got an abortion in 1998.

Republicans seized control of the House by a 60-40 margin in the last election, and GOP members overwhelmingly oppose abortion. But they've seen the issue stall over disagreements about how far they should go in restricting abortion.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said lawmakers still have another month to win committee approval of abortion restrictions, and he's confident they will act.

"My expectation is we'll make a decision and something will move," said Paulsen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Homily of Fr. John Meredith...on the suicide of David Jarboe, Jr.

Listening to this homily makes me very sad. There are a couple of things that are seriously wrong with this....

1. He completely misunderstands the idea that he young man committed suicide. The young man did something that separated himself from from the Church by breaking the fifth commandment. The Catechism teaches this about anyone who commits suicide:

CCC #2280
Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

CCC #2281
Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

CCC #2282
If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

CCC #2283
We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

2. @ 1:12 and following Father says that David lives....he is wrong. His view is contrary to Catholic teaching. David does not live. He has separated himself from mercy of God. The vision that he has of David cannnot happen according to the teaching of the Church. And it is this that saddens me. Father goes on to say @ 3:45 and following that the site of a suicide has become a "sacred spot" which has been "sanctified." And the action is being praised....SUICIDE!!!!!!  If as Father Meredith says, and it is a holy spot, then he was setting an example, and that is contrary to  CCC #2282 specifically.

This is the perversion of the teaching of the Church. This is the issue that we have. The Church does not teach what he is promoting. It is directly contrary. DIRECTLY!!!!!

You're now probably asking why the rant...David went to St. Thomas, my alma mater. David spoke ill of a priest that I know, Fr. Bill Baer. David did not accuse Fr. Baer of anything, but he called him an evil man. David is wrong. I've known Fr. Baer since 1998. He is not evil. He is not a bad priest. Whatever David's issues were, he was wrong about Fr. Baer. I can attest to this first hand.

3. What we do know:

1. David committed suicide
2. David is being justified for his action
3. David is not being held accountable for his actions and he needs to be
4. The site of David's death cannot be considered a holy place
5. The site cannnot be considered a shrine (what is it a shrine to, his suicide?)

Please pray that he made a perfect act of contrition as the bullet entered his body. That is the only way he will be saved. As the Church teaches, we must pray for the we will pray...

Understand this...Father, in the video is teaching something directly contradictory to the teaching of the Church. He is holding an opinion and teaching an opinion which cannot be held. Please pray for Father too....

CFN Interview with Father Arnaud Rostand, SSPX

This is an interesting Q and A....

On the Doctrinal Discussions Between Rome and the Society of St. Pius X
Note: This is the first in a series of interviews conducted by John Vennari, Editor of Catholic Family News with Father Arnaud Rostand, District Superior of the Society of St. Pius X in the United States.
J Vennari: Our readers are most interested in the Doctrinal Discussions now going on between the Society of St. Pius X and Rome. I understand these discussions are taking place in a kind of secrecy. Why is this?

Father Rostand

Father Rostand: From the beginning of the Doctrinal Discussions between Rome and the Society of Saint Pius X, it was clearly stated that these discussions would remain private. It was the wish of Rome and of the Society. Firstly, it is important to remember the circumstances in which these discussions started – At the same time that the Pope lifted the invalid excommunications of the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a media campaign attacked the Pope himself and the Society of Saint Pius X, putting heavy pressure on all concerned.
It is not always easy to understand the power that the media has on people’s minds, especially here in the United States; but as a matter of fact, the pressure was intense. Rome wants to avoid this type of strain and tension, particularly during these crucial discussions.
More decisively, it is a normal and common practice of the Church to maintain privacy, even secrecy, over these types of questions or affairs. An example would be the election of the Pope, which is done in absolute secrecy with no contact with the world in order to avoid any outside influence. Many questions are discussed by the Pope and cardinals in a similar manner. There is nothing disturbing or alarming about this custom; it is actually normal procedure. I would even add that it is also a question of respect for the Pope, because there we are talking with the Bishop of Rome, the highest authority in the world, the successor of Saint Peter, the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The pressure, however, is not solely from the world, from outside the Church; it comes also from within. There is an implacable fight going on within the Church. Most “modernists” do not want any discussions with the Society of Saint Pius X, they do not want any discussions about Vatican II, for no one may question Vatican II. They have long since switched from the “pastoral council” they originally pushed for in order to obtain their objectives, to a “doctrinal” one, a council that must be accepted as  doctrinal, one which in fact has become even more important that all the former councils.
Nonetheless, today Rome has agreed to listen to our objections and protestations regarding Vatican II and what has happened to the Church over the past several decades; this in itself is a miracle. Bishop Fellay, in a conference he gave in Paris on January 9th, 2011, expressed how astonishing these discussions are! It is remarkable that Rome, the Supreme Magisterium of the Catholic Church, accepts to discuss Her own doctrine. Still, that is exactly what is going on in Rome with these discussions. It is very unusual.
On this question, it might be necessary to point out that although privacy is kept while these discussions are going on, it most likely will not be the case when they are over. Everything that is said is recorded, both audio and video, and everything is transcribed, with these documents being given to the Pope and to Bishop Fellay.
JV: Given the confidentiality of the discussions, what are you at liberty to say about the present state of them?
FR: The confidentiality of these discussions pertains essentially to the matter that is being examined. However, certain aspects of these discussions were made public. Bishop de Galarreta, the President of the Society of Saint Pius X’s commission, explained from the very beginning that these talks are on a doctrinal level and bear exclusively on the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium. Rome accepted also the Magisterium of the Church prior to Vatican II as the reference. It was for us a condition sine qua non for these discussions. So, we expose how the teaching of Vatican II is contradictory to what the Popes and Councils have expounded in the past, while they attempt to demonstrate that there is continuity.
Although everyone keeps the necessary confidentiality of these discussions, the positions of both parties are well known, and have even been publicly re-stated recently.
The Society of Saint Pius X continues faithfully to condemn the errors of Vatican II. Let me quote Bishop de Galarreta as an example among many: “We do clearly know what we are not disposed to accept. If we do not know perfectly how things may evolve, on the other hand, we do know clearly what we have no intention of doing under any circumstances: firstly, to yield on matters of doctrine, and secondly, to make a purely practical agreement.” (December, 19 2009) We stick to this course of action.
On the other hand, Msgr. Pozzo, the head of the Pontifical Commission, also publicly stated his position : holding on to Vatican II and defending the views of the Pope, Benedict XVI. Thus far, neither side has changed their point of view.
Despite that, we can already see some good fruits from these discussions: The first example I would give is the interest that is shown today in Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Last year, four books about the Archbishop were published in Europe, two in Italy, two in France! These studies, these publications, were not made by Society of Saint Pius X priests or faithful – they were written by what we may refer to as “outsiders” and most of them are in favor of, and defending the work of the Archbishop. This consideration is new and is an indirect result of these talks.

“If we do not know perfectly how things may evolve … we do know clearly what we have no intention of doing under any circumstances: firstly, to yield on matters of doctrine, and secondly, to make a purely practical agreement.” – Bishop Alphonse de Galarreta, SSPX.

Another example is the influence of the Society of Saint Pius X on more and more diocesan priests. For example, Bishop Fellay, in the conference referred to above, revealed that a quite large group of priests in Italy are regularly communicating with the Society. In the last meeting he attended, there were about thirty diocesan priests. What these priests expect from the Society of Saint Pius X is even more interesting. They beg us to give them doctrine; they entreat us to teach them the Catholic Doctrine. They realize they were not fed with sound and solid doctrine. This is very important. It is not just a question of the Latin Mass as the Ecclesia Dei Commission and the different fraternities under the Commission claim; it is really a question of doctrine. Diocesan priests realize that they were not taught the true doctrine and they have a thirst for it!
Two years ago, for the first time, a voice in Rome rose up to question the Second Vatican Council; Monsignor Gherardini wrote several articles and a book criticizing the Council. He demonstrates that the Second Vatican Council is not in continuity with the previous doctrine of the Church. On December 17, 2010 a bishop, Mgr. Schneider asked for a new Syllabus. In a conference in Rome, he denounced the wrong interpretations of Vatican II and proposed a list of propositions (a Syllabus) condemning “the errors of interpretation of Vatican II”. So, the solution he recommends to correct the actual situation of the Church is the use of the extraordinary Magisterium of the Pope, a solemn infallible declaration of the Pope to clear up the Council. This evolution is very interesting and it will go farther, because if the infallible Magisterium is necessary to clarify the Council, it means that, to say the least, it is ambiguous and therefore leads to errors regarding the Faith! This shift of the debate toward the doctrinal level is clearly happening, albeit at a slow pace. I believe that this is another effect of these doctrinal discussions.
The simple fact that we are able to discuss doctrine with Rome, even though it remains private, has resulted in some very important unforeseen effects. For us, it is just a question of firmness and patience.
JV: The Society of St. Pius X rightly insists that the crisis in the Church is caused from the problems with the Second Vatican Council itself. Pope Benedict holds that the problem is not with the Council, but with a bad interpretation of the Council. It appears that those in Rome with whom you are having these doctrinal discussions are following this line and are not yet willing to admit that the Council is the real cause of the problem. Do you find they are still trying to "save" Vatican II?
FR: As mentioned above, the Society of Saint Pius X insists that the main cause of the internal crisis of the Church is Vatican II. We do not say that it is the only cause of the de-Christianization of the world today; the roots of the crisis started well before Vatican II, and Saint Pius X clearly saw the dangers many decades before the Council. Other factors cannot be excluded, such as the political actions of secularization, the separation of the Church and State, the immoral laws spread throughout the world and so on.
However, we have always maintained that the Council was 1789 in the Church, this expression – referring to the French Revolution – was first used by modernist Cardinal Suenens. It is a revolution that has undermined and destroyed sound doctrine, the true Liturgy, and morals, and has led to the perdition of millions, if not billions of souls.
On the other hand, the Pope holds that only the interpretation of the Council went wrong. He affirms that there is no rupture between the teaching of the Church before and after Vatican II. There is continuity because there must be continuity!
So, is the Rome commission trying to “save” Vatican II? I would say no, they are not trying to save Vatican II; they are really convinced of Vatican II.
I base my opinion on this matter only on their public declaration and not on the discussions themselves. These statements show that they do not yet admit that Vatican II is the real cause.
The line that Rome is following is that we must come back to the true interpretation of the Council, avoid the extremes, come back to the true spirit of the Council. They try to correct the excesses, the translation of “pro multis” for instance, or the “subsistit”, the communion in the hand or girls as altar servers… but there is no questioning of the principles behind these. So at the same time you still have actions that are far more serious and devastating for the Church, like the visit to the Synagogue, preaching in a protestant temple, the ecumenical “Week of Unity” and lately the announcement of Assisi III.
However, we can see an evolution in the analysis of the situation of the Church. The first step is to accept that there is a crisis in the Church, then to accept discussion about the Council, something impossible not long ago. The next step for them may be an attempt to “save” the Council and the last one, hopefully, will be to recognize that this crisis comes from the Council and therefore to correct the errors of the Council.
Behind the question of denouncing and rectifying the Council lies the question of the infallibility of the Pope. One of the major obstacles to questioning the Council is the problem of the Magisterium of the Church. They cannot accept that the Popes and the Council were wrong. How is it possible that the Church could be led astray in such a nearly universal way? The question is not new for us since it was raised from the beginning of the crisis, but the question seems to be new to them.
Before the First Vatican Council, Cardinal Newman expressed his apprehension about the declaration of the Pontifical infallibility. He did not doubt the truth of the dogma, that the Pope is the Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians, he had no doubt that the Pope is infallible in certain conditions, but was concerned of the consequences if it was misunderstood. Today, could we say that he was a prophet? The infallibility of the Pope is not correctly understood and is used as a tool to obtain full compliance and submission on matters that do not fall under the conditions of the Church’s infallibility. The Second Vatican Council was a pastoral one, and not a dogmatic one. The Popes themselves made it clear that they did not have the intention to teach doctrine. There is no doubt that Vatican II was not an infallible teaching of the Church. It was made, however, a “super dogma”, a law that overruled all the past teaching.
Ultimately, we remain in front of a mystery, the mystery of the Catholic Church, which is indefectible and yet constituted of imperfect and fallible people. The Society of Saint Pius X has been reflecting on this matter for years. Thanks to the leadership and clarity of vision of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre we have clear answers to this problem. It is not the case for those with whom we are dealing in Rome. That will obviously be part of the discussions.
JV; Could you give some instances of how the Council itself is the problem?
FR: Vatican II has brought into the Church a new teaching, a new “spirit.” The major errors can be listed as the following: errors concerning the Holy Mass and the Sacred Liturgy; errors about Religious Liberty and its consequence – Ecumenism; errors about the relations between Church and State; errors regarding collegiality and the power of the Pope and of bishops – but also, errors about the priesthood, about marriage and so on - the list is long.
For the sake of clarity and brevity, I will illustrate just a few examples:
One of the easiest errors of Vatican II to grasp, is the new definition of the Mass. We just need to compare the definition given by the Catechism of St. Pius X, and the new definition given by the Council. St. Pius X defines the Holy Mass as “the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ which, under the species of bread and wine, are offered by the priest to God on the altar in memory and renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross.” One can admire the clarity and precision of this definition. What does Vatican II say? “The Eucharistic celebration is the center of the assembly of the faithful over which the priest presides. Hence, priests teach the faithful to offer the divine victim to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass and with the victim to make an offering of their whole life.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis - § 5 )   
You will notice that the function of the priest is reduced to “presiding” and “teaching”. The idea of a con-celebration of the priest and the people is manifested here; an idea expressly condemned by pre-conciliar magisterium.
Today, Rome encourages turning the altar back to its proper place, with the priest facing the East and toward the tabernacle. However, they refuse to see that if the priest simply presides and teaches, why would he not be facing the faithful? The reason they originally turned the altar, the table, is because Vatican II gives a new definition of the priest. The roots of the reform are to be found in the text itself. The altar is being turned back but the doctrine is not being corrected!
Today, Rome tries to fight abuses in the Liturgy, reminding, for instance, that the ordinary way to receive communion is kneeling, and on the tongue, not standing and in the hands. Well, it is Vatican II that gave to the bishops conferences for the first time an unheard of and extraordinary authority in liturgical matters, with a broad faculty to experiment with new forms of worship. Rome tries to put out the fire, the source of which is the Council itself. (Sacrosanctum Concilium - § 22, 39, 40)
The Second Vatican Council plays with a deficient definition of “priest”. Priests are defined, above all, in terms of their being the bishops’ “cooperators” (PO §4). “Because it is joined with the episcopal order the office of priests shares in the authority by which Christ himself builds up and sanctifies and rules his Body” (PO §2; see also LG §28). Vatican II seems to have wanted, so to speak, to compress the figure of the priest into the “People of God,” by erasing, to the extent possible, his difference from the faithful, and on the other hand, above all, by picturing his main quality as that of being the bishop’s subordinate “cooperator.”

As Archbishop Lefebvre used to say, the two victims of the Council are the Pope and the priest. The first one lost his power because of the collegiality of the bishops and the second one by merely becoming a “president of the assembly”. This is obvious today with the Tridentine Mass. Besides the rules of Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio, the Bishops demand abusive authorization and many priests do not dare saying it because of the assembly or only if they feel supported by a group of faithful!
These examples are not the most revolutionary novelties of Vatican II, but they can be easily understood and we can see their effects in the life of the Church today.
As Archbishop Lefebvre often explained, what can be seen in the Church today are not only abuses, but consequences of principles, of ideas already set forth in the Council. They are not merely misinterpretations. The same bishops who first brought these ideas to the Council, introduced them in their dioceses afterwards. Obviously the results have come from the Council itself because one acts as he thinks.
JV: In a speech you gave in
Ridgefield CT
this past July, you mentioned that the Society’s Bishop de Galarreta has said he thinks these Doctrinal Discussions should not go on too long. Would you care to comment on this?
FR: Bishop de Galarreta expressed, indeed, that he does not think that these discussions should go on too long. The Society of Saint Pius X wants to expose the discrepancy of Vatican II, reaffirm the Traditional teaching of the Church, document everything we state, and respond to the objections. We want to “be a witness to the Faith”. The Society does not want, however, to discuss for the sake of discussing. That, I believe, is what Bishop de Galarreta meant.

Monday, February 7, 2011


From Fr. Z over at WDTPRS:

From a reader:
Is there any way for the celebrant of a Mass to inform other clergy that he prefer that they NOT con-celebrate with him without offending them or seeming to be ultra-conservative or rejecting the accepted practice? Con-celebration seems to be obligatory whenever clergy are invited for a celebration. Attendance in choir dress seems to be non-existent.
You have come, perhaps, to the wrong corner for advice about anything having to do with concelebration.
WDTPRS thinks that concelebration should be safe, legal and rare.
Or maybe that is why you are asking me…. hmmm…
In any event, I think it is very hard for you to say anything, especially if you …
a) are not the locum tenens,
b) have not put it about ahead of time that there will be no concelebration,
c) are in a circle where the priests rush every altar, lemming-like, in their shapeless off-white moo-moos and finger-painted stoles no matter how many Masses they have already (con)celebrated that same day, so that they can stare about in fraternity with as little attention to this Mass as any other that they have …. okay… I am ranting.
If you aren’t the pastor of the place, or the guy who calls the shots, I think you have to keep your mouth shut and permit it. Even if you are the guy in charge, you probably have to permit it.  In some circumstances you have to invite it as well (funerals, for instance – it is simply expected by priests these days).
Similarly, you could, when notes are sent around about a Mass, indicate that there will be no concelebration.  Instead, come in cassock and surplice with biretta (stoles to be provided for communicating priests).  That ought to make some of them scratch their heads.  And it won’t win friends.
I suppose you could make a little speech, if you dare, about how concelebration is not foreseen at this Mass.  If any priest has not said Mass or has no other occasion, you would be happy to set up afterward and serve the Masses for the priests who otherwise would not have the opportunity.  I think such a speech would be met with confused and unhappy stares.
If you are worried about keeping the rubrics tidy, without the usual interlopers milling about, you could sequester concelebrants near, but not at, the altar.
This is all quite awkward.  There are good reasons to concelebrate.  There are good reasons not to have it.  I will not discount the reason of convenience.  Plainly, if you have a whole bunch of priests in one place, it is concelebration is convenient.  If you are a guest and the locum tenens isn’t inclined to help you out, well… concelebrate with a good attitude and smile.
You are going to be up against a certain mentality.
Even quite sensible priests, priests who ought to know better, have strange ideas about concelebration.  They would even constrain or look down on, or even gossip about, priests who for one reason or another chose not to.  I remember an occasion when I accompanied an old priest to a large Mass and he had the intention of being in choir without concelebrating.  One person after another harangued him and badgered him him, trying to get him to go along with everyone else, until he finally leaned in and said into one importunate fellow’s vacant face “I’m in the state of moral sin.”   That shut him up.
Anyway, this is an uphill battle
It is going to take a while to move away from the lemming-like approach to concelebration.  Young priests will be taking over soon.  They are more flexible and far less ideological.
To be clear, if I am with a group of priests, for example, in a fraternal setting such as an annual meeting of a priests’ group I belong to, I am okay with concelebration.  Holy Thursday, most ordinations, some occasions with the local bishop or one’s own bishop, funerals of priests …
Safe, legal and rare.
Very hard to do this, friend.  Very hard to say to a priest he can’t concelebrate in the Ordinary Form.
Perhaps priest readers…. priests mind you… have some suggestions.  I frankly have zero interest in the opinions of lay people insofar as this question is concerned.  This is priest stuff.  Lay people: don’t bother commenting.  Really.  You can eavesdrop.  That includes seminarians and deacons.  Bishops and priests only.  Some priests will want to defend concelebration.  Okaaaaaay… if you must.  Yes, we know that Eastern Catholic priests concelebrate.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Archbishop Gullickson on Summorum Pontificum


Why, even three years after the issuance of Summorum Pontificum (just to name one example), are well-meaning lay folk still treated with such great disdain by no less than bishops, bishops in communion (of heart, soul, mind and strength?) with the Successor of St. Peter when they ask for Mass in Latin? Is this anything other than blind hypocrisy (the plank!)? You tolerate no small amount of bad taste, bad music and caprice, while begrudging some few a port in the storm of liturgical abuse which seems not to want to subside? Can we be after His own Heart and not just claim to be members of Christ’s Body while still acting so at odds with the example set by the Holy One of God, meek and humble of heart? Such prelates are at counter or cross purposes to the sense in which the Church wants to go; they are ignoring what the Spirit is saying to the Churches and doing so with a backhand to some who are branded common and contemptible, but certainly not in the eyes of Christ... Let me say it more clearly! My issue is with the contempt shown for an outstretched hand, contempt such as would not be shown toward someone asking for some other benefit.

When the Holy Father speaks of his will to see these two forms of the Roman Rite (ordinary and extraordinary) enrich each other, when he and others express eagerness for a recovery of the sense of the sacred in our churches and in how we worship, I am convinced that he has indicated the true nature of the rupture which has indeed occurred and needs to be mended or healed. You would think that those in communion with the Pope would seek to understand him and embrace his point of view. There is too much room for caprice and hence the need to reform contemporary Catholic worship. This is evidenced time and again, by way of one example, in the sense of helplessness many priests experience when confronted by musical groups moving into church with inappropriate repertoires, not to mention the dance and puppet troupes which should have been banished long ago. If a bishop does not want to discipline at least he can respect and foster those seeking good order.



How to Confess Well.....

From over at WDTPRS....

From a reader:
Hi. I am convert. [... S]ince being brought up in a protestant
tradition and only becoming catholic as an adult, I was never exposed to the traditions, the formality. In our confirmation classes we was taught the believe system and not the liturgy. So when going to confession I never know how to start, what sins to confess.
But that is not the biggest problem: How do you remember all your sins? How do you remember how many times you have done a particular sin? The one thing I am convinced of is that is, even while I am writing this, I am sinning…the nature of our existence. The problem also becomes exponential, since the knowledge becomes so overpowering that I feel as if I am doing a “half-a-job” confessing and that I have not achieved grace after going to confession that I stop going to confession for months at a time…and then I feel that I should not receive the Eucharist.
I am so glad you see the need for a good confession.  A good regular confession.  A good regular thorough confession.
Go to confession anyway, even if you are not sure you are doing a perfect job of it.  Just go anyway.  Please.
From the onset be assured that, if you do your best, even if you can’t remember everything, your sins are forgiven.  Even those you forgot are forgiven.  If you make your confession but through no fault of your own forgot somethings – either because in that moment maybe you were nervous or you simply forgot – and you walk out of church and a construction crane falls on you, you go before your Maker in pretty good shape, as far as mortal sins go.  Temporal punishment might be another matter… but the really big deal is getting those mortal sins forgiven.
First, learn a standard way to make your confession and use it ever time.  This helps keep the nervousness down and the priest always knows where you are at.   The standard way every kid in the USA learned is probably the best.   When you start (for example when the little window opens and the priest may say intro thing) you say “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been [X days, weeks, months, years] since my last Confession.  These are my sins.  Confess your mortal sins in number and kind.  When you are done, say “For these and all the sins of my past life I am truly sorry and ask a penance and absolution.”  That let’s the priest know you are done.  Sometimes people just fall silent, which could leave the priest wondering if you are trying to summon the courage to confess the big one.  The priest will maybe give you some counsel, he may ask a question or two.  He will assign a penance and, usually, say something like “Act of Contrition”, meaning that you should say the Act of Contrition.  He will give you absolution.  Sometimes the priest will start with the form of absolution before you are finished with your Act of Contrition.  Then he will probably say something like “Your sins are forgiven.  Go in peace.”  It is nice to say “Thank you” before you get out.
I suggest this Act of Contrition, for it has all the elements the priest needs to hear and you need to say:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
You can do this with “you” or “thee”, whatever.   I say “thee” because that’s the way i learned it.  There are various forms of Acts of Contrition, Acts of Sorrow.  I think this one is as good as they get.
About remembering your sins.
Every night before you go to sleep, examine your conscience.  Make this a regular part of your routine before going to sleep.
I suggest to people just getting going, to start making examination of conscience when you start brushing your teeth.  Why?   Because, unless you are really strange, you always brush your teeth before going to bed, and if you don’t you should.  By tying the examination of conscience to some other thing you never omit, you can develop the habit of examining your conscience regularly.
Review your day.  Look for things you did that were wrong and, don’t forget, things you failed to do that you should have.  Use the commandments… use the virtues… whatever.  Just do it.  Every evening.  Just do it.
There are good little booklets with examinations of conscience and preparation for confession that you can find in any good Catholic book shop.  The point is: pick one and start.  You may find a better one later, but get at it right away.  We make baby steps in all these things at first, and that’s okay.  God sees your heart and knows you are trying.  With a little time, you’ll be more confident and aware of what you are doing.
Brick by brick.
By doing this every evening, you will more easily remember what you have done so that your examination of conscience before confession will be much easier and your confession more precise.
Why is such precision and care important?  Why should you instantly dismiss any suggestion that this is just making a “laundry list” and that numbers of sins aren’t important?
When you examine your conscience you are also looking for your ingrained habits, vices, the things which are real dangers to your soul.  You quickly identify with stark clarity the fissures and fault lines in your life.  When sometime gets into the confessional and says “It has been one week sicne my last confession. I lied, I cheated, I kick my dog…”, there is no way of telling if the person lied one time, and therefore this was an aberration, or if she lied 52 times in that week.  Lying 52 times in week is a real problem.  If she is confessing this sort of thing with this sort of frequency often, then she would be a liar, an inveterate liar.  This gives her and the priest the chance to start fixing the problem through grace, common sense and elbow grease.  We have to identify our principal faults so that we can make progress in holiness.  This is ongoing.  We need an objective eye and some inescapable honesty.  We attain this through a daily examination of conscience.
It doesn’t have to be long.  But it has to be honest.
If you do this regularly, you will not have such a hard time remember sins also in number when you go to confession.
Also, if you start remembering things you forgot about, and you haven’t confessed, or aren’t sure you confessed, just mention them when you go to confession the next time.
The confessional is not a torture chamber.   You don’t have to put yourself on the rack.
Pray for some help from your guardian angel to be honest with yourself and to keep the enemy at bay, and examine your conscience.
Then just go.
Finally, about receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion.
If you know that you are in the state of mortal sin, do not go to Communion.  If you are not sure if you are in the state of grace, you could probably go, or you could sit that one out.  If you are not sure, make a very good act of contrition, and go.  If you don’t choose to go, make a spiritual communion (there are good prayers for that).  If you are pretty sure that you are in the state of grace, happy you, then go to Communion with happy and confident fear and trembling.  We can’t be presumptuous about the state of our soul, but we can nevertheless be pretty sure after examining our consciences and using the sacrament of penance wisely.
The worst thing a person can do is never ask a question about the state of his soul.  For that sort of person, I worry.