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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pope Benedict a Liberal?

You decide.  I read an article yesterday from Ars orandi and here is the gist of what was said...

Pope Benedict XVI is, at least from all appearances, a liberal when comes to religious tolerance. His words belie a man who believes that Catholicism is just one of many valid voices. He gives equal credit to Talmudic Judaism, Islam and Protestantism, even suggesting that Catholics need to turn to these various other religions to gain a full understanding of Divine Revelation. He uses the word "pluralism" with a positive connotation. Never once, to my knowledge, has the Holy Father ever called any politician, atheist or secularist to conversion while in Germany, this time or the two previous times. His words to the German government assure politicians that they can govern without regard to God or Christ the King. What a startling departure from everything the Church had always taught previous to the Second Vatican Council.

I think that this is the case with all churchmen today.  They have lost sight of religious tolerance and have espoused the flawed view of "ecumenism" of Vatican Council II.

The view of ecumenism isn't what is put forth there, but rather it is a threefold understanding of conversion.

1.  Catechesis  --  This applies particularly to Catholics and Protestants.  If we are to view Protestantism as a heresy, which it is, then it behooves Catholics to show the Protestant that his protest is in vain.  The truth doesn't lie in Calvin's view or in Wesley's view or in Hus' view or in Henry's view or in Luther's view.  It lies in the Catholic Church.  If the four marks of the Church are true, then it can be no other way.  The Church has to be one and universal.  It has to reach to all men, not just the "denomination" which calls itself Catholic.  Christ didn't found 33,000 churches, He founded 1.  The Church is the Catholic Church.  The second part of this is that Catholics must understand their faith.  They must know the basic tenants of what it means to be Catholic.  If this cannot be done, then the Church will fail.  Catechizing.  That is how we respond to Christians of other ecclesial communions and it is how we respond in house, with other Catholics.  We need to be unapologetic and we need to be clear.  The Church has given us 2011 years of understanding, we are not re-inventing the wheel.  We're talking about the very same things we've been talking about since the beginning.  The salvation of souls.

2. Ecumenism  --  This applies particularly to the Orthodox.  There was a schism.  There is a schism.  The Orthodox make up the second part of Christ's Church.  They have a special relationship with us.  While the excommunications have been lifted, the schism remains.  So, because the relationship is unique, there should be a unique way to respond.  This isn't about revealing the truth to them, they already have it.  It is about coming to a unified view of how to apply it.  They reject certain dogma. On this they should be catechized.  However, because they have other apostolic sees, we must approach them as being our separated brothers.  We must see them as being our compatriots.  We truly must view them as legitimate bishops who must find a way to accept the primacy which Christ called for when he handed the Keys to Peter.  That is ecumenism.

3. Evangelization  --  This applies particularly to the non-Christian.  We must take the Gospel to them.  We must convert them to being Catholic.  If the four marks are true, as with the Protestant, then the truth must lie in the Catholic Church.  This includes the Jews, Muslims and all forms of paganism.  The truth of the matter is that these souls are most at jeopardy, because they don't have the light of Christ.  They must accept the truth of being one, holy, catholic and apostolic.  Once this happens, then the evangelization is complete.

This idea of a "new evangelization" is flawed.  We don't need to reinvent the wheel, we need to bring souls to Christ.  For extra ecclesiam nulla salus is the truth, but getting humanity to understand it remains the challenge.

The Holy Father has embarked on the dangerous path of liberalism because this liberalism has been engrained into the psyche of those of his generation, and its cause is nothing other than the fear and guilt generated by the remembrance of World War II and the Holocaust. This has been the driving force of this pontificate, always lurking just under the surface of Benedict's dealings with non-Catholics and world governments. This is a particular flaw of the Holy Father's generation. Those of this generation have lived their entire lives under the shadow of, and guilt for, the atrocities of World War II. Never far from their decision making and ideological principles is the contemplation of Hitler, Nazism, the brutality of WWII and the images of the liberated concentration camps. It is particularly pronounced among Germans from this generation, and it tells us much about this pope's apparent inconsistencies and ideological liberalism when it comes to religious tolerance.

The pope has mentioned this remembrance more than once on this current trip to Germany. He was careful to keep the memory of WWII vivid in order to preface his vision. It is a premise that is never isolated from his thinking. It is attached like a cancer.
 This speaks directly to the idea of which I have been talking about liturgically for the last several weeks.  This idea of both/and....either/or.  This duplicity exists not only with regard to the liturgical action as presented in the Novus Ordo and the reform of the reform, but also in the view of relgious tolerance.  While we must tolerate the fact that other ecclesial communions, schism, and non-Christians exist, that does not mean that we don't try to convert and bring them to the truth.  The Church cannot stand on duplicitous ground.  Her foundation is twofold.  Tradition and Sacred Scripture; to assume any less is building a house on sandy ground.  I firmly believe that the parable of the sandy ground applies in this instance.  We must  make sure that our foundations are strong and that we must not waiver.  Liberalism, in any form is on sandy ground, because it's view is one of constant shifting.  To adapt to the times in which one lives is one thing, to constantly shift the foundation is another.  This speaks directly to what I've been saying:

While it is obvious that Benedict cherishes traditional Catholic expressions, they are to him just mere expressions among so many other expressions, some that are not even Catholic, that are not necessarily equal, but all valid, nonetheless. The difference is of aesthetic quality, like the difference between Bach and Schubert or Reni and Caravaggio. Personal preference ought to be respected, but it doesn't necessarily make any one artist or composer superior to the other. For Benedict the crucial factor for the church-esthete, which he seems to have appropriated to himself, is judging the appropriateness of the various expressions within given circumstances, much the same way someone chooses a venue for a concert. Sometimes traditionalism is more appropriate, and sometimes Communion and Liberation is more appropriate. There is more of phenomenology to Benedict's thinking than the moderate realism of St. Thomas Aquinas in his evaluation of the intrinsic value of Christian expression.
Perhaps on the surface this sounds perfectly acceptable. The problem, however, is that this is not the mission of the Church militant. The mission of the Church militant is that given to her by Christ: "Go and make disciples of the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." The mission of the Church is the salvation of souls. Whatever the Church does to alleviate human suffering, it ought to be done as a means to the end of proclaiming the Gospel and eliminating the greatest human suffering of all, which is the real possibility of damnation.

The Church has always been the primary catalyst of cultural change. She formed Western civilization. However, she did this not as the immediate purpose of her actions, but always as a happy byproduct of her primary activity, which is the salvation of souls. We see today the last remnants of a generation of churchmen who have this backward. Pope Benedict XVI has placed shaping culture and guiding the society as the primary activity of his pontificate and the modern Church, even to the point of espousing liberalism and indifference in order to convince non-Catholics of his humanitarian vision of worldly peace.

We, as the Church militant are duty bound to bring people to Christ.  It isn't just the job of the priest, bishop, and pope.  We must be willing to have the hard conversation and we must be willing to have the chutzpah to take a slap in the face when someone doesn't accept the Catholic view.  What we must not be willing to do is walk away when that slap in the face comes.

World peace is not what we've been called to.  We've been called, as Catholics to convert and save souls.  We don't do this by espousing an "ecumenical" view that all are equal and that there is room for everyone as they currently are.  No.  We must tolerate their lack of understanding, but we must always work to convert.  For if we truly love them, we will help them take the bushel basket off and see Christ's light for all that it is.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From First Things...

The previous post was inspired by this article from First Things:

A Modest Proposal

A major reason I became Catholic concerned the Church’s profound theology of the Eucharist, which I (as a New Testament scholar) found squared well with the biblical witness, once certain modern lenses fell like scales from my eyes. Paul speaks of our real participation in the body and blood of Christ as that which unites the Church (1 Corinthians 10:16-17) and soon thereafter remarks that some of the Corinthians have fallen infirm and dropped over dead because of their eating and drinking unworthily (11:27-32). One doesn’t die from mishandling symbols; one dies from mishandling that in which God is found, as readers familiar with Uzzah’s demise in 2 Samuel 6 and viewers of Raiders of the Lost Ark know.

In Luke 24:30-31 the risen Jesus vanishes from the two disciples’ sight precisely after Jesus “took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them” to signal that Christ is to be found thereafter in the Eucharist. John 6 presents a view of the Eucharist as high as any, bringing to mind the famous description of St. John’s disciple, St. Ignatius, of the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality.” Having done the exegetical work, I must confess with true charity I don’t understand how some can strain out the gnat of transubstantiation in John 6 (or some other high view, such as the Lutheran) having swallowed the camel of the Incarnation just a few chapters prior. Indeed, we Catholics believe so strongly in both the Incarnation and transubstantiation that we engage in the real “Worship of the Eucharist” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1378) as if it’s God, because we believe it is.

Or at least we’re supposed to. As a new Catholic, I’m beginning to wonder if the way we receive the Eucharist at Mass has served to undercut our particularly Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. Lex orandi lex credendi, after all. Liturgy teaches. A Pew survey of religious knowledge taken last year discovered that 45 percent of Catholics “do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ.” (Of course, regular mass-goers seem better informed.) And of course the liturgy does more than just teach, as if religion were merely a matter of propositional doctrine; liturgy ought also inspire deep reverence for the Eucharist, because, again, we believe it’s God.

Now, in most Novus Ordo masses I’ve attended the congregation is dismissed pew-by-pew to approach the ministers of communion in a relatively fast-moving line. Some, like Archbishop Conti of Glasgow, think that this procession “beautifully expresses the way in which we are a people journeying towards the Lord.” Others, speaking sotto voce, mention they sense the semiotics of a drive-thru. My experience is that the process can feel rushed and perfunctory, even with a large team of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion on hand. I find I time my act of devotion (a quick genuflection or nod of the head, for instance, depending on how fast the line moves) with the prior communicant’s reception. Then I step forward to receive. Having received, I’m all too aware of the queue behind me and feel pressured to make way for others, and so I depart quickly, striding briskly back to my pew—while chewing Almighty God. I find the mechanics do not encourage reverence in me, at least.

How can I rightly savor the awesome moment of communion when I’m concentrating on making my way back to my seat? And so the past couple Sundays I’ve simply received the host, stepped a bit to the side of the priest while facing the altar and crucifix, and consumed it slowly and reverently. It’s a simple solution for me, and no one seems to mind; the front of the nave is so busy anyway it’s hard to be in anyone’s way, or to notice if someone was.

The few Tridentine masses I attended back in Chicagoland were different, of course. Communicants kneel at the rail while waiting for the priest to make his way to them, giving them time to prepare mentally and spiritually for what should be, theologically, the most profound moment they will experience until their death. Having received, time remains for them to consume the host slowly and reverently, and then depart for their pew at a reasonable pace.

Now many have neither ready access to nor desire for a Tridentine mass, and none of us should hold our breath waiting for altar rails and kneeling to return to celebrations of the Novus Ordo, Benedict’s desires for reverent liturgy notwithstanding. But drawing on (of all things) my experiences as a Lutheran preacher and liturgist serving a small German service in Naperville, Illinois, I would suggest a simple solution. When we celebrated Holy Communion, the congregants would come up in groups of about 15-20 and stand in the front of our small sanctuary. I as Pfarrer would shuffle from communicant to communicant and distribute the elements: Christi Leib, für dich gegeben / Christi Blut, für dich vergossen. Each communicant having received, they would commune together, and having communed, I would dismiss them: Gehet hin in Frieden. Then the next group would approach.

Something similar could easily be done in Catholic churches. People could line up across the front of the nave in front of the sanctuary, standing, if they wish, kneeling, if they choose, as is permitted. Then the priest—with a server holding a paten, perhaps—could shuffle from communicant to communicant and distribute the host. The Precious Blood could be brought as well by a second priest or some authorized minister of Holy Communion. Communicants would have time to prepare, receive and commune, no architectural renovations would be necessary, and fewer Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion would be involved. (As the 1997 document Ecclesia de mysterio points out in Article 8, such Ministers are supposed to be truly Extraordinary, not routine, lest confusion regarding the nature of the priesthood and the sacrament result.)

Of course, even the slightest changes in How Things Are Done can arouse fear and loathing in the faithful, and thus any changes would need to be implemented slowly with due explanation and preparation; that said, perhaps the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal this fall provides a ready window.

Given what Catholics believe about the Eucharist, reverence matters, for God’s sake and our own. In any event the Catechism makes clear that the liturgy is “the privileged place for catechizing the People of God” (1074). Indeed, Pope Benedict emphasized in Sacramentum Caritatis 64 that “the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself, celebrated well.” It’s God, after all.

Here are my thoughts on the article:

I'm going to disagree a little with the author.  I think that we should hold our breath waiting for the return of the altar rails and proper reception of Holy Communion.  That is our tradition and that is what we should be promoting, whether it be from the OF or the EF.

If the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, then why should we not show that Sacrament the most profound reverence that can be had?  Kneeling, from a Catholic perspective, does just that.  Anything less is to lessen the amount of reverence we show toward the Blessed Sacrament.  Reverence, in this instance is not a subjective, interior mode, but rather it is a public and objective witness to the reality of what has just taken place and what the priest confected for us.

If reception of Holy Communion is the culmination of our worship, it would only make sense to assume the same posture of adoration and reverence when receiving Holy Communion as it is when it is confected.  To do any less is to create a false dichotomy.

Finally, I must take issue with the notion of patterning after the "Lutheran" practice of reception.  Lutherans altered the way they received the species, because they abandoned the way they worship.  They don't believe the same things a Catholic believes with regard to the Blessed Sacrament.  Insofar as they don't, they do not revere and adore the species, they merely respect it as being in the moment.  Therefore, their view of reception is not as complete or promising.  That being said, to adopt their mode of reception is counter productive for Catholics, while practical, it is not theologically sound nor is it theologically desirable.

If the Eucharist is the Source and Summit...

The most reverent Masses I’ve ever assisted at in both the OF and the EF, have been Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s. He truly understands the lex orandi, lex credendi.

I want to intimate two quick stories…first, the very first EF Mass I ever assisted at was with Fr. Z. I really had no idea at that point what the EF was (indult), and he and Monsignor Schuler were very patient in explaining what the true understanding of continuity was. This was in 1996!! He then taught me how to serve a low Mass and from there, the rest is history. I now assist 99% at the EF and it is all thanks to Fr. Z and to Monsignor Schuler.

The second story supports the first. Since I first met Fr. Z and Monsignor Schuler, there have been two things emphasized. Participatio actuosa and authentic continuity (at that point it was strictly couched in the terms of authentic interpretation of Vatican Council II) . Bottom line, if the Novus Ordo was to ever be authentic, then it must be celebrated as the Council Fathers wanted, not any other way….so Monsignor never changed that. His vision was that the OF was an organic growth from the Church. The way the Mass was/is celebrated at St. Agnes speaks to this in a way that is wholly and completely unique. IT IS THE WAY THAT FR. Z SPEAKS ABOUT CONTINUITY. It wasn’t until Benedict started talking about it in earnest that the reality hit me…Monsignor Schuler and Fr. Z were on to something…the rest of the Church needs to listen. It’s no joke. A few key points:

1. Mass ad orientem all the time, on the same altar from 1888.
2. High Mass in Latin, low Mass in the vernacular. (Very rarely, if ever was there a High Mass in the vernacular.) Readings only in the vernacular.
3. Solemn Masses as well as Missa Cantata. Using either two deacons or a deacon and acolyte.
4. Gregorian Chant propers and either Orchestral/polyphonic ordinaries (except penitential times, chant). Hymns only for low Mass.
5. Use of all of the ceremonies for Solemn Mass. This necessitated 13 servers for High Mass.
6. Communion under one species and received at the rail and in the traditional manner.

There is only one place that I know of in all of Christendom that has remained 100% faithful to the true vision of Vatican Council II. And I learned this from two men. Father Zuhlsdorf is one of them.
My point in those stories…The Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our Faith. The Mass is the vehicle. When a priest authentically understands that, the Mass will be beautiful and reverent and right. Cadence, posture, devotion and familiarity. They all breed compliance. And that breeds love. And that….well, that breeds the best Mass I’ve ever assisted. It just happens that it was Fr. Z singing High Mass to St. Cecilia’s Mass in 1996, with Monsignor Schuler conducting.

It changed my life. It put me on a path that is not popular, but it is right. I will fight until my dying breath to see it to it’s logical end…either the authentic implementation of the OF or it’s suppression. The abuse has to be corrected one way or another. The perfect model is the Bandas/Schuler model, as espoused by Fr. Z and a few others. If this cannot be realized, then the EF should gloriously reign as the OF until such time as the Novus Ordo can be authentically implemented, according to the Council Fathers.

This has never been an issue of validity, only licitness.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bishop Cupich and 40 Days for Life...

Bishop Blase Cupich, Bishop of Spokane (formerly a priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha) has made a clarifying statement with regard to 40 Days for Life going on in Spokane.  He has called for prudence from his priests.

Text is here.

LifeSiteNews, who I normally think does wonderful work in the pro-life movement has caught wind of this and is lambasting His Excellency for asking his priests to refrain from this particular protest, vigil, whatever you choose to call it.  His reasoning is that it is becoming too political and that his priests should rather teach about it than be protesting.  That is His Excellency's prerogative.  I have no issue with it.  To that, the combox has been  very active in scrutiny of the good Bishop.

Let me be clear about one thing, this is not really a problem about the pro-life movement, but rather this is a problem of obedience and the fact that people don't want their priests to be obedient unless it suits them to be so.  I daresay that the people in these comboxes refuse to see that the Bishop is not asking for his priests to stop being pro life, but rather he wants his priests to support the faithful prayerfully and by using the moment to teach.

Some of my responses follow;

Praise God for Bishop Cupich.  He recognizes that the role of the priest is bigger than one issue.  His pastors and curates must work for the whole of their parishes, not just one issue.
While they should be standing up and talking about the horrors of abortion, they too should be talking about the horrors of liturgical abuse.  They should be talking about bringing people back to the Church.  They should be talking about the Sacraments.  They should be talking about saving souls.
What priests should not be doing is getting caught up in the political activities which surround the pro-life movement.  They have no place there.
Again, I applaud Bishop Cupich for holding his clergy accountable.  I applaud Bishop Cupich for affirming his pro-life position.  I applaud Bishop Cupich for doing what is necessary.  He is the Ordinary and his priests owe him Holy Obedience.  We should let his priests be obedient and not call for them to go against the just wishes of their Ordinary.

...But what I’m saying is not spin.  And it makes great sense to what is at hand.  I don’t know what you said prior, because I cannot see it.  You don’t need to be graphic with me on what goes on inside an abortion mill.  I’m well aware.  I’ve mentioned on the other thread that I have a pretty invested interest in the pro-life movement.  I daresay that I’ve done more than most and put my freedom and safety on the line, by being a sidewalk counselor.  I’ve given away hundreds of rosaries to those walking into abortion mills and I’ve spent thousands of hours on my knees in front of said mills.  Let’s do get something straight.  I have no problem doing what you ask.  I applaud anyone who does.  Bishop Cupich has asked that his priests not do that.  I respect that.  He is the Ordinary and his priests need to be obedient.  Yes, it is supportive, but it is also political.

The reason His Excellency has called for what he has called for is because 40 Days for Life is not a Catholic movement.  It is often politicized and I can tell you from being involved in it that it is political.  It is a protest, to cut to the chase.  It is a prayerful protest, but a protest nonetheless.
Because it not a Catholic movement, His Excellency is asking for his priests to focus on those things which are and in a Catholic way.  For a priest, that is to teach, not protest.  He may pray and Bishop Cupich will not ask a priest to oppose his well formed conscience on that matter, but he’s asking that his priests to be prudent.  There is nothing wrong with that.
Bishop Cupich is being demonized because he is being consistent that his priests should refrain from political activities.  You may disagree with him over the politics of 40 Days for Life.  Fine.  His judgment though, must be respected and adhered by his priests.  You might not like it, but that doesn’t mean that it is wrong.  Mainly, because it isn’t, regarding the non-Catholic origin and acceptance of 40 Days for Life.
Again, this goes to my point over two threads that a Catholic must be pro-life, but a Catholic doesn’t have to be a militant pro-lifer….and a priest shouldn’t be one.  He has a teacher’s role, not a soldier’s.
...the fact remains that the Ordinary is not supportive of 40 Days for Life, because it is not Catholic.  That is his prerogative.  He feels that it is too political and feels that his priests and the diocese may be harmed by participation.  Again, his prerogative.  He’s not (as I’ve said before) expecting his priests to stop being pro-life.  He’s not expecting them to stop teaching, actually he is calling for that.  He’s just asking them to refrain from participating in this particular event.  Again, his prerogative. No, he is not exclusively forbidding them from participation, but his tone to them is clear.  Please don’t.  It is much like a doctor asking a patient who has high blood pressure to refrain from putting salt on french fries.  He won’t forbid it, but he knows the consequences could be harmful.  His Excellency is asking them to make a prudential judgment, while realizing that they can move as their conscience dictates.  Holy Obedience to their Ordinary should play a part in this and that is the point I’ve been making all along…it would be prudent for a priest of the diocese of Spokane to listen to his Ordinary.
Preach about it.  Support it, but if the Ordinary asks the priests not to participate in it, without forbidding it, well….
As for Catholics participating in non-Catholic things…I am of the opinion that prudence should rule the day too.  If Catholics are trying to regain a Catholic identity, then perhaps it is best for Catholics to do those things which are Catholic, FIRST!  So, if there are Catholic pro-life rallies and stances, then he should do that before something secular or “inter-religious.”  I know most here will not agree with that, but c’est la vie.  Call me traddy, I don’t really care.
Bottom line, DoctorMD; His Excellency hasn’t forbidden it, but he shouldn’t have to.  His priests should follow his lead.  He is the shepherd, they lead his flock.  Common sense.
This has never been an issue about pro-life, but rather an issue of Holy Obedience…sadly too many here have advocated disobedience, so that it can suit their own personal stance on morality.  The Catholic Church is bigger than any one position and while it certainly encompasses the pro-life issue, that is not all the priest must be about.  There is so much more…of which I have already opined enough.

This isn't an issue about being pro-life.  This is an issue that the faithful are calling for their priests to be disobedient.  I am calling for priests to remember that they owe their allegiance to their Ordinary.  They know this and so should we.  The promise of obedience is made to the Ordaining bishop and his successors.  The laity should support that, not tear it down, so they can have a collar at their latest protest.

Our Lady of Willesden

A wonderful little "ferverino" on Our Lady of Willesden.  Take a watch.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reform of the Reform...An Excercise...

So, there has been a lot of bickering across the interwebz lately about the reform of the reform.  I've been part of some of it, so I've decided that perhaps a scholarly look at what could be reformed is in order.

So, let's see...this will be a summary post, but I would like to expound upon it and see if there cannot be something done about a hypothetical reform.  I will speak to language, architecture and the Liturgy of the Word in this post.

I will add this caveat.  This is not an archeological excercise.  I am not interested in taking the Mass back 1000 or 1500 years.  That is not the point.  The point is that if the idea of a true reform of the Novus Ordo is to take place, what can be done immediately.  Let's start with the language.  The vernacular language of the Latin Church is Latin.  Therefore, to ensure uniformity and universality at Holy Mass and foster a mutual understanding of the Mass across cultural lines, the majority of the Mass will be in Latin.  However, the readings will be proclaimed in the vernacular, once they have been recited by the priest in Latin.  This is practical, so as to keep the universality of the Mass in tact.  Example...if a German is assisting at Mass in France, the readings being proclaimed in Latin first would afford him the opportunity to hear and follow the readings in a tongue that is familiar to him and allows for him to follow with his missal prior to the proclamation in the vernacular which he may not understand.

Next let's speak to architecture.

There must be a return to vertical theology with regard to architecture.  This necessitates several things.

1.  A separation of the sanctuary from the nave.  There must be a step up into the sanctuary and there must be a boundary to know that the sacrificial action is taking the return of an altar rail.  (We'll deal with other functions of the altar rail later).

2.  The return of a praedella for the altar and  the altar should be elevated by 3 or 5 steps.  It should be an odd number, because the final step (traditionally an even number) is to heaven.
a.  a crucifix must return to the center of the altar elevated on a throne (if a tabernacle is on the altar, then above the tabernacle).
b.  six candles must return to the altar for the celebration of high Mass.  Two smaller candles to be brought out for the celebration of low Mass.
c.  a return to ad orientem positioning even on freestanding altars.

3.  The tabernacle should be central.  If it is not returned to the altar, it should be immediately behind and it should have a pride of place (raised upon a pedestal) which allows for proper adoration and meditiation outside of Holy Mass.

4.  There should be a proper pulpit for preaching.  There may be a smaller ambo, but it should not be the same as the pulpit.

5.  The priest's sedelia (chair) should return to a north facing direction and should be flanked on either side by chairs for the deacons/acolytes (servers if deacons/acolytes are not available).  The reasoning for the north facing direction is to be ever diligent for the heathens coming from the North.

6.  Extra seating for choir or extra servers will be choir fashion both on the epistle and the Gospel side.

If there are any non-sacred objects in the sanctuary, they should be removed, such as pianos, clavinovas, electric organs, choral areas, etc.  There should be either side altars returned to the sides or shrines to the BVM and the appropriate saint or to Christ himself.  This will add to the sacrality of the space.

While this seems like a very large undertaking and one that is very large of an undertaking was it for the original parishoners to build churches in the early days, which still stand, or how large of an undertaking was it for our parents and grandparents to destroy that in the 1970s?  This can be done.  It is not impossible.  Obviously there are degrees of ceremony, but following the model of three, let's assume there are three levels...low (said Mass), high (sung Mass), solemn (sung Mass with deacons/acolytes).



The rubrics have force of Liturgical Law.  They must be adhered to otherwise the consequences will result in ecclesiastical correction up to and including censure.  Liturgical law holds the same weight as Canon Law.

Liturgy of the Word.

1.  The priest and ministers process in (remove biretta if wearing one), genuflects to the Blessed Sacrament and the priest reverences the altar with a kiss.  He then begins the Mass at the altar.

2.  At the altar he starts the introductory prayers.  This should be some form of oblation similiar to the Prayers at the Foot.  It could include Psalm 42 or some other appropriate Psalm, but it must be uniform and not be a cannot change.  And the confetior is said.
a.  He is flanked either by his deacons or master of ceremonies/servers (in lieu of deacons), who will respond to him with the faithful.

3.  He then approaches the mensa, and prays the Introit and says the kyrie.
a.  If there is incense, the altar is incensed at this time. Flanked by his deacons, if present.
b.  The master of ceremonies will remove the Missal for the incensing.
c.  A Kyrie may be sung at this point.

4.  He intones the Gloria and remains at the altar while it is sung.
a.  If deacons are present, they are lined up behind him.  Deacon of the Mass on the second step, deacon of the Word/acolyte on the floor.

5.  He turns to face the people and then moves to the epistle side and prays the collect, with hands in the orans position.
a.  If deacons are present they will line up behind the celebrant.  Deacon of the Mass on the second step, deacon of the Word/acolyte on the floor.
b.  Immediately following they will move to the sedilia.

6.  He immediately begins the proclamation of the readings
a.  If there are two readings he will read the gradual between.
b.  The gradual will be sung at this point.
c.  The responsorial psalm is suppressed.
d.  The alleluia/tract is then read by the priest on the epistle side and he moves to the center to offer prayers for the reciting of the Gospel.
e.  The master of ceremonies moves the Missal to the Gospel side.
f.  The priest proclaims the Gospel with a slight turn northward.

a1.  during Solemn Mass, the readings will be sung as the priest recites the epistles.
b1.  during Solemn Mass, the gospel will be sung in lieu of the priest reciting it, but the priest will turn from the center of the altar to face the readings.

g.  Immediately following the readings, the priest will move to the sedilia for the first time to sit while the readings are proclaimed in the vernacular (sans the gradual and alleluia/tract).  This is done from the smaller ambo.  At the conclusion of the reciting of the readings, the deacon of the Word/acolyte will offer prayers for the sick and infirmed, those needing prayers, the parish, the diocese, the Church and for vocations to the priesthood.  This is not a call an response prayer, but rather a meditation upon the list he brings forth to the faithful.
7.  The priest then moves to the pulpit and preaches on the Gospel.  This is a reflection upon the Gospel only or a theme related to the Gospel.  To preach upon anything else is not appropriate during the homily, unless it is of imperative need to the parish church (this could be extended to include proper catechesis on a particular issue or a specific directive from the bishop, but it should be rare).

8.  The priest then moves to the center of the altar, genuflects and ascends to begin the Creed.

This ends the Liturgy of the Word...the formula is not necessarily an exact copy of the TLM, but it is close.  We must not forget that the reform of the reform must have a starting point.  It should not be started from how the liturgy is now, but rather how the liturgy was at the time of the first reform.  So, it necessarily will have similarities to the TLM, much more so than the Novus Ordo.  That is to be expected though, as the growth of the reform should be organic.

Regarding music:  If the Mass is sung, the following will be adhered to; the propers will be chanted and the ordinaries will be sung.  Several of the propers (introit, gradual and alleluia/tract, communion) will always be chanted by a schola in Latin.  The ordinaries may be either sung or chanted.  They may be sung, if the music is deemed to be apt for the liturgy based upon very clear criteria, which has been laid out throughout the history of the Church and using those intruments which are apt for sacred music.

What would you add, change or remove?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Reform of the Reform...Epic Fail?

Many people ask, why all the hairsplitting about reform of the reform.  The reason for the hairsplitting is precisely because there is no doctrine left, being taught in the liturgy.  It ceased to be taught in the 1950s in favor of rubrics.  And that was all done by design.   The argument was: "If we take the theology away, then changing the rubrics will be easy and reteaching the theology and the rubrics won't be an issue."

And that is exactly what has happened.  The problem with all of this is that the Mass ceased to be what it was.  It ceased to be a sacrifice of the priest and it became (at best) the sacrifice of the assembly (Fr. Jungmann) with the priest as presider.

So, things like the pre-'55 Holy Week is unimaginable because there is no theology left to support something of that nature.  You say that only 20 years ago these things would have been laughed off as dreams...perhaps you're right, but that is in spite of the so-called "reform of the reform."  What has the reform of the reform achieved?  A new translation?  Since when was a translation of the Mass ever necessary?  The fact is that the reform of the reform did EXACTLY what it intended NOT to do.  Return the TLM to a pride of place.  The reform of the reform was intended to bring about a more "authentic" Novus Ordo.  Epic. Fail.  What it did was bring back an affinity for the TLM.

And that's ok.  But we need to understand that those who are in support of the reform of the reform are missing the point.  It is clear, by the absolutely staggering growth of Traddy-ism, that the reform of the reform won't ever really gain a foothold.  If it were, then the fruits would be seen.  As it is those fruits have gone to Traddy-ism.  What are the two most difficult seminaries to get into in the USA?  Denton and Winona.  Not Emmitsburg, or Mundelien.  The FSSP and the SSPX.

Again, what has the reform of the reform done with regard to shoring up the Mass?  Well, we got a new translation. And.............nothing else.  The rubrics haven't changed, so there is nothing which holds a priest accountable for his actions at Mass AND the average Catholic doesn't know what he will get when he goes to Holy Mass in the OF.  Which penitential rite?  Which reading (long or short)? Which Eucharistic prayer?  Which Agnus Dei?  How many forms of Communion?  Will he hear the propers or not?  What kind of music will he get?  Will it be Polka, or praise and worship, or Protestant hymns (Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art)?  Will he hear chant?  The reform of the reform has not even come close to addressing these things.

But when the average Catholic goes to the TLM, he knows exactly what he'll get from start to finish.  Which is noble simplicity?  Riddle me that!

The reason the reform of the reform has been blasted as being artificial, is because at this point it is.  It has not made it out of the starting blocks.  It has stalled and it is artificial.  The organic growth of the liturgy has brought us full circle to the TLM, not to the reform of the reform.

What actually must take place for a reform of the reform is well, reform.  Not a new translation, not an accountability check on the rubrics as they stand, but an honest to goodness reform and it sure seems that nobody is interested in actually doing that.

The argument is that there must be study and implementation for something like that?  Really?  How many changes took place between the Pontificates of Pius X and Paul VI?  Study and implementation are code words for the establishment to keep the reform of the reform in the hypothetical....AND IT WORKED!!!!  It worked so well that there has been no reform of the reform, but rather a return to the TLM.  Why?  Because the Novus Ordo was deficient in function (rubrics with no enforceable liturgical law) and form (a change in theology).

So, if we are going to actually reform the Novus Ordo, what is going to change?  And why?  Will there be a change in the offertory?  In the rubrics?  In the language?  In music? In theology (please God)?  In all of it?  How much?  When?  Why? How?  Those are the questions that need to be answered.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I've been having a conversation with a friend over some issues going on with regard to the Novus Ordo and the TLM.  Here is the latest exchange....
My thoughts are although what you have said is all good and true, none of it was sacriligeous... the abuses don't count. the GIRM is not to be considered a handy guide of ways to help make mass better. The fact that priests take it to be that doesn't mean they are correct.

I really want to draw the line between what the Novus Ordo mass actually is theologically, rubrically, and through the instructions provided by the Magisterium, and between what we often see in modern day liberal or even not-so-liberal parishes that are following some "spirit of what I believe to be true" and not the Magisterium.

This would mean that the Novus Ordo mass is said ad orientem, with latin given preference, gregorian chant given pride of place, the organ given pride of place etc etc etc. That is why I listed all the stipulations. Guitar music, David Haus, versus populum, communion on the hand, 10 minute signs of peace, etc are not what the Novus Ordo mass is; those things are what abuses, modernism, and liberal priests/laity have added to the liturgy.

Now while I agree that the Novus Ordo has watered down language, reduced prayers, "simplificiations", and whatnot as you mentioned with the prayers at the foot of the alter, the collects, the kyrie, etc - I don't see the prayers of the Novus Ordo as being sacriligeous.

The distinction is between the Novus Ordo mass being sacriligeous, and people doing sacriligeous things at the Novus Ordo mass. Now, the rubrics being as open as they are surely contribue to the ease of which abuse occurs, but all of the "sacriligeous actions" that you speak of are not part of the Novus Ordo mass, but are introduced into it through abuse, liberalization, and modernism.

Edited to add: These posts are not well thought out or researched, just my first thoughts on the matter.

Here is how I responded to him....

We have to define sacrilege. It would be any transgression against religion. So, let's use that as a starting point. By taking the abuses out, you are discounting any number of sacrileges that do take place in the Novus Ordo, which do, in fact happen and in some cases are widespread. I think that by qualifying abuses is not being intellectually honest. So...

The GIRM SHOULDN'T be a handy guide, but the reality is there is nothing which holds the force of law which the GIRM is. The rubrics are liturgical law and if nobody is enforcing them, then yes, that is sacrilege, because it is a transgression against religion. And precisely because the preists act the way they do, moreso with the Novus Ordo, than with the TLM does speak to the sacrilege which goes on. If nothing more, that is exactly what the lack of institutional control the Vatican excercises over liturgical law does. That lack of control is sacrilege.

If you want to draw the line, I've started to do that. You don't think that shifting the theology from that of a sacrifical action completed by the priest to that of a meal celebrated by the community with the preist as presider is NOT a transgression against religion? It certainly is. I'm not willing to argue the validity of the Mass on this point, but I am willing to say that it is sacrilegious. Because that attitude harms the truth and the religiosity of the Catholic Church.

I'll focus on the music of the Mass....the Mass has music which is proper to it. That music is the prayer and the vocalization of the Mass, both ordinarily and properly. That music has been abandoned and it has been replaced with a Protestant model, of four hymns and nothing properly sung (ie the propers). So, at best only the ordinaries are sung and the proper understanding of singing has been lost. Why because those prayers which are proper to the Mass are either simply recited or in almost all cases (introit, the gradual/alleluia/tract, offertory, communion) have been eliminated. And those prayers which do remain collect and post-communion are no longer sung, but rather recited. This is a transgression against religion. Because it is the religiosity of the Mass through the music which has been summarily destroyed. Sacrilege.

We often times think that sacrilege is a major action such as stealing a host or punching a priest or defacing a statue or something like that, but sacrilege is also the distortion and elimination of those things which are PROPERLY Catholic, in favor of a deficient view.

Again, looking at the role the priest fulfills in the Novus Ordo, compared to the TLM, when it comes to the comparison of the Liturgy of the Word as opposed to the Mass of the Catechumens:

In the LoW, the priest's role has been reduced to that of presider. His active role in the whole of the first half of the Mass is reduced to praying the collect and (if no deacon is present) reading the Gospel. THAT'S IT!!! He has no other function in the Novus Ordo LoW. The priest does all of this from the chair and is not proclaiming anything from the altar to the masses. His necessity is mitigated to the assembled, save two small parts of the first half of the Mass.

By contrast:

In the TLM, the priest's role is indispensible, he is necessary. He must pray the prayers at the foot of the altar. He must pray the Confetior, he must pray the Kyrie, he must pray the Introit, he must pray the collect, he must proclaim the readings (both) and the gradual/tract/alleluia...even if they are also sung, he must STILL read them. All of this is done from the altar, not the chair. He is celebrating the Mass of the Catechumens, leading the heathens to the altar and then proclaiming the Word of God as celebrant to the masses.

To remove the priest from the role of celebrant and to change his role to presider is a transgression against religion. To change the theology from that of a ministerial celebration in which the faithful participate to that which the assembly celebrates and the former celebrant merely presides is a sacrilege. It is a transgression against religion. Why? Because it specifically removes the religiosity of the Mass from the one who properly celebrates it and places it in hands of the assembled. That is Protestant and that is sacrilege.

So, yes, the Novus Ordo is sacrilegious, not only from a legal point of view with the various abuses, but also with the shift in sacramental theology to that of the assembly celebrating the Mass and the priest simply presiding. The same things happen in both the revised offertory and the Liturgy of the Eucharist v. Mass of the Faithful, but stopping at this point is a good place for now.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vivat Latinitas!

From Slate:

A. E. Housman. Click image to expand.

At the beginning of the last century, A.E. Housman, that cantankerous giant of classical scholarship, was already complaining about "an age which is out of touch with Latinity." Around that time, philistines were excising classics from the popular curriculum, and the subsequent 100 years have hardly improved Latin's apparent relevance in Western society. Classicists may tout the fact that Advanced Placement enrollment in Latin doubled between 1997 and 2007, but this mini-surge brought the number of upper-level high school Latinists to a minuscule 8,654—literally 1 percent of the number of secondary school Latinists in the mid-1930s. Like its nouns, Latin continues to decline.

In the face of these grim prospects, I boarded a plane to Rome this summer to join the small network of scholars dedicated to preserving the language by actually speaking it. I found myself in the company of 16 other twentysomethings, puttering about the center of the ancient world chattering not in English or in Italian but —ecce!—in Latin.

I can assure you that the enterprise was even stranger than it sounds. The Paideia Institute's "Living Latin" program is an immersive, spoken-Latin summer course based in Rome. The mornings are spent at the St. John's University campus reading poetry and prose and commenting on the texts in Latin; the afternoons are spent doing the same thing at various sites of literary or archaeological significance. If you vacationed in Italy this June, you might have seen us standing around the Ara Pacis on a scorcher, offering competing Latin orations on the pax Augustana. Other exercises were more modern: using hip-hop beats to memorize Alcaic meter, say.

The class comprised undergraduate and graduate scholars with advanced reading knowledge of Latin but little to no spoken experience; not even the Catholics among us had used the language of Cicero to comment on the vicissitudes of Vespa-dodging, or to describe the phenomenon of the "pimp coat" (tunica lenonis). The latinitas was often exhausting—try rendering a future-less-vivid conditional in proper tense and mood with 32 eyes boring into you and the carabinieri hollering obscenities just outside the window. Most humbling was the constant juggling of stressed and unstressed syllables; a language that had existed too long only on paper was coming fitfully to life, demanding as a newborn. Students, operating in good faith, even did their best to make dinner plans in Latin, though pizza sounds a lot less appetizing in its Latin form: placenta.

While Paideia's "Living Latin" is technically a new program, it derives from Aestiva Latinitas Romae ("summer Latinity in Rome"), an iconic course taught for over 20 years by Friar Reginald Foster. Described by the American Scholar as "a kind of one-man Audubon Society for the Latin language," Foster is known as "Reginaldus" to his students—or, rather, to his acolytes; something approaching a cult of personality has sprung up around the Friar. An American Carmelite monk, Reginaldus served for more than 40 years as the Vatican's secretary of briefs to princes. More simply, he was the Pope's chief of Latin letters, a role that found him translating papal bulls into Latin while overseeing the Vatican's Lexicon Recentis Latinitatis, which offers helpful neologic Latin for such items as popcorn (maizae grana tosta) and pornography (pellicula cinematographica obscena). Reginaldus' eight-week summer Latin course, meanwhile, achieved legendary status among classicists, early modernists, archaeologists, and any number of other scholar-types. A decade ago, a high school Latin teacher described the course to me: "I learned Latin in school, but I did not know it until I met Reginaldus."

Foster has retired to his home state of Wisconsin. (He now runs an eight-week summer course there.) But it is still on the force of Foster's personality that the Paideia program in Rome fuels itself. Paideia's founders, Jason Pedicone and Eric Hewett, were Reginaldus protégés: When the Friar took ill in the summer of 2008, Pedicone and Hewett led the remaining month and a half of the Aestiva Latinitas course. The two are unswerving evangelists for spoken Latin, the type of guys who converse in Latin with precision and ease, though not with the same accent: Hewett, a devout Catholic who lives in Rome and moves in that city's arcane circle of ecclesiastical scholars, speaks the soft g's and hard v's of Medieval Latin, while Pedicone seems to prefer the reconstructed pronunciation of the Empire. (Both are finishing their dissertations, Pedicone on Latin meter at Princeton, and Hewett on Rabanus Maurus at the University of Salerno.)

In Latin, or the Empire of a Sign, Françoise Waquet describes Renaissance classrooms in which Latin was the only permissible language, and schoolboy informants known as "foxes" (vulpes) would snitch on those who slipped into the vernacular. The regime at Paideia was not so unforgiving and, unlike various modern-language immersion programs, did not involve a "language pledge." Nonetheless, even while we spent hours each day on scansion, supines, past-tense contrafactual conditionals, and other staples of by-the-book Latin, the thrust of the course was the revivification of an oft-obituarized language. Such a thrust necessarily involves a fair bit of cheerleading, the result being that the class felt less like school and something more like summer camp.

We descended into the Sybil's cave at Cumae to reel off the pertinent hundred lines of Virgil. We drew stares in the Forum as we declaimed latine (adv.: "in Latin") on the various points of interest. (One elderly Italian gentleman, several sheets to the wind, stuck with us for some time, offering applause and exclamations of "bravi" whenever he thought appropriate.) We stooped into the Catacombs of Priscilla or the bowels of the Basilica San Clemente, where a troupe of friendly Bulgarians listened to our Latinisms on the subject of Saint Cyril. (Cyril invented and gave his name to the Slavic alphabet—Cyrillic—and his tomb remains a pilgrimage destination for Slavs.) On an unusually foggy Friday, we tramped to the peak of Mount Vesuvius and read Pliny Jr.'s letters to Tacitus recounting the volcano's eruption in 79 A.D. A curly-haired Italian high-schooler fell in with us; he offered a sensitive Italian translation and was far less bemused with our manner of speech than one might have imagined.

Frivolous stuff, the haters will say—a fantasy camp for bookish types, an arcane and indulgent pursuit (largely funded by university fellowships) that does nothing to tamp down the national debt or carbon emissions. I'm inclined to say, somnium ("nonsense"). Thanks to a summer of speaking Latin, I can tear through hexameters like Caesar through Gauls. The summer was perhaps not strictly "useful"; summer, after all, is characterized by otium ("leisure"), the lexical antithesis to negotium, or "business." (Graduate students are of course notorious for mixing the two.) Latin immersion offers other, similarly unquantifiable benefits. Knowing one's history is an intrinsic good, and in this sense, the summer's archaeological-literary one-two punch was anything but frivolous: As Nicholas Ostler says in his engaging biography of the language, "the history of Latin is the history of the development of western Europe."

Sadly, latter-day history teaches us that, despite our best efforts, Latin remains on the ropes, dying even among the clergy. "I'm not optimistic about Latin," Foster has said. "The young priests and bishops are not studying it"—a Housman-like complaint that earned the Friar no points among those fellow clerics who had dozed off during Latin class. There is, at last, a comfort in these complaints: Each mini-generation of cantankerous purists will beget another, surmounting the stale calculus of Latin translation to speak it among themselves, in a conversation that has been going for a very long time.

Advice for a New Bishop

From Phil Lawler:

The first reading at today’s Mass, in which St. Paul offers his advice on the selection of bishops, reminded me of a conversation with friends several years ago. As the Church was still reeling from the effects of scandal, we asked each other: What advice would you give to a newly appointed bishop? Herewith the results of that conversation.
The new bishop is young and energetic, fully orthodox, and filled with apostolic zeal. He is taking control of an average American diocese. What assumptions should he make? What should he expect? What should he do?
  • The majority of priests are “company men.” They want to live and let live.
  • The chancery is filled with toadies who will never tell the bishop what he needs to hear.
  • The chancery departments are so bloated that the work they do is about a quarter of what half the staff should be able to do. And the work that is put out is useless at best, damaging to faith and morals at worst. The Office of Social Justice and Gay and Lesbian Ministries do more harm than good.
  • There may be one or two truly orthodox priests assigned to the chancery rubble. But some of the priests were assigned to the chancery in order to get them out of parish ministry! In some cases, the transfer was made because of personal problems, including sexual misbehavior. In other cases they came to be seen as problematical because of their orthodox Catholicism.
  • About 20-30% of the priests are leftist ideologues, outright heretics, historically encouraged by previous bishops who either feared them or sympathized with them. The most corrupt and liberal priests are the most likely to try to cozy up to the new bishop with flattery. The conservatives are either too busy in their parishes or find such flattery repugnant.
  • There's a minority of activist orthodox priests: maybe less than 10%. Some orthodox priests are truly wild men. Also, the priest who insists that all of the world's problems will go away if he avoids speaking up and does more holy hours may be truly “orthodox” in a sane environment, but isn't much use on the field of battle if he gives in to evil programs in the name of “obedience.” Some ostensibly orthodox priests use the outward appearances of orthodoxy to mask sinful behavior.
  • The diocese probably has a network of gay priests, maybe very small, maybe extensive, and maybe very, very extensive.
  • There is the customary percentage of alcoholics numbered among all the priests, some of whom will soon be knocking at the new bishop's door.
  • The liturgy is in shambles in most parishes, even some of the “orthodox” ones. (Many orthodox priests just don't know what constitutes good liturgy!)
  • Catechesis is in bad shape, suffering from all the usual problems. Religious-education directors have been recruited through the National Catholic Reporter.
  • A “very nice” school superintendent has been promoting sex-ed in the schools. In many ways, he has bought into the corruption as a result of years of scandal. (He may be unwitting as to the true nature and depth of the corruption.) The Catholic schoolteachers—many of them good-willed enough—are in the same boat.
  • Finally, the new bishop realizes that if his orthodoxy makes waves in his diocese and beyond, he cannot necessarily count on support from the Vatican.
What should our new bishop do right away? What should be his first steps when he arrives in the diocese?
  • If there are any solid orthodox communities of female contemplatives in the diocese, visit them within the first few hours of your installation and enlist their prayers for you.
  • Upon arrival, get rid of all paper shredders at the chancery and insist that no work be taken home in briefcases. Make friends with the maintenance man and the wash lady.
  • Immediately obtain a backup copy of the computer network and secure it for any future audit. Change the locks. Secure the bank accounts. Check stock.
  • Ask for resignations from everyone on the chancery staff. (Ideally the apostolic administrator should have done this before the new bishop arrived.) All staff members should understand clearly that you determine whether or not they stay, and the presumption is negative.
  • There are probably a large number of people you really have to dismiss quickly: rebellious pastors, effeminate chancery officials, etc. (The less urgent cases can wait; you can use the budget crisis to justify the blow.) Fire them all at once. Plan it carefully to minimize the uproar. Make the announcements late on a Friday afternoon. On Saturday, release that rip-snorting pastoral letter on family life, which you have been drafting since your appointment was announced. Schedule some event Sunday with a big, loyal Catholic group. Tell reporters you'll answer questions there.
  • Meet with the abuse victims. Take names.
Settling in: new ideas
  • Hire an outside firm to do a thorough financial audit, and be sure to have a closed-door chat with the on-the-ground auditors to find out what they found.
  • Your next pastoral should insist upon the proper celebration of the Mass. It should contain disciplinary teeth. Narcissistic priests hate constraint. It's easier to catch them in an act of liturgical abuse than an act of sexual abuse.
  • Put the religious orders on notice. Maybe throw out one of the smaller ones just as a warning shot.
  • Let every person know, whether he (or she) wishes you well or ill, that you shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to ensure the survival and success of the confessional. In other words, expunge general absolution, ensure confessionals are screened, and see to a climate of orthodox confessional practice. Make it clear that you’ll be watching and act swiftly when someone brings you bad news.
Building community in the new-look chancery
  • Like Archbishop Pell of Sydney, Australia, get a secretary who's married with several children. Break the daisy-chain.
  • Talk to the pro-lifers, identify the level-headed ones, and get their read on your own clergy: who's solid, who's good but weak, who belongs to the opposition. Ditto for the lay bureaucrats and hospital admin types.
  • Having found a few priests you can trust absolutely, spend some long late evenings going over personnel files with them.
  • Plan for a massive scale-down: school and parish closings, clergy put on waivers, chancery pink slips. You'll probably have a 6-to 12-month grace period in which you can justify almost any cost-cutting by saying, “Sorry. We have to pay the sodomy bill.” Use it to get rid of the worst personnel and the schools that are beyond hope.
  • To the extent possible, fly in support to your home-schoolers. Inter alia, almost all the vocations you get (and want to keep) will come from them.
  • You will find that you have two or three prosperous parishes that are traditional centers of opposition, led by dissident priests. If you had all your priests read that fire-breather pastoral on protecting family life, you'll probably have enough general lay support—even given the hostility of the media—to face down the bad pastors after they refuse to play ball. Replace them with Nigerians to mute the screams from liberals and to force the worst parishioners to go to the Episcopalians or the Paulists.
Collaborating with the laity
  • Have a series of meetings with local law-enforcement supervisors—say, lieutenants and up—explaining that you don't want your men feather-bedded any more. Tell them if a priest is caught in a parked car or a washroom, they should book him. Take the district attorney out to lunch, tell him the same thing, and make sure he knows you mean it.
  • Get to know some state troopers. Buy them a round of beer. Tell them that you want to hear about trouble from them, not from the press. Tell them it is a moral obligation to arrest wrong-doers. Ask them to pass the word.
  • Make friends outside the clerical establishment. (That means: no priests, religious, or church workers.) Spend time with pro-lifers, home-schoolers, doctors who don't prescribe the Pill, community leaders who have taken hits for defending the faith. Wangle invitations to go to their homes. Go by yourself. Don’t talk too much; listen. Ask their teenage boys if they want to be priests. If not, ask why not.
Thinking in new paradigms
  • Hire your own director of religious education, and tell him to select new texts throughout. Institute standardized testing to make sure something is happening in CCD classes. Tell parents (and pastors) that kids can't be confirmed if they do not pass the test. Spot-check when you do confirmations.
  • Get rid of the prissy MC who handles liturgical ceremonies. Tell pastors that when you come to their parishes, they have to supply the MC. Or better, draft a different seminarian to do the honors every week/month.
  • Bring in the people in charge of sex-ed and AIDS ministry. Ask them with whom they've been working in the parishes, and make a list. Give them 30-days’ notice. If you have any “street priests,” pull them off the street ASAP.
  • Think seriously about shutting down the diocesan newspaper; it certainly loses money and it's probably a waste. If you decide to keep it going, hire your own editor, give him lots of leeway, but tell him the paper has to support itself.
  • Institute zero-based budgeting, and make it stick. Don't ever let someone ask for an X % budget increase; make him justify each dollar spent in terms of demonstrated benefit—preferably spiritual—to the diocese.
  • Find a few seasoned professionals—maybe successful lay businessmen who are almost ready to retire—to handle the nuts-and-bolts issues, like real estate and physical plant maintenance.
  • Open your own mail. You can farm out the projects later.
Consultation and dialog
  • Cultivate a reputation for enjoying candor. When people give you a “nice” answer to your questions, press them: “You don't really think that, do you?”
  • Insist on being treated with respect, but whenever people start flattering you, interrupt. Don't let them start. Make it part of your examination of conscience: Have I done anything to encourage flattery today?
  • When you speak to friendly Catholic audiences, don't always tell them what they want to hear. Challenge them. The first time you talk to a large K of C event, ask them when they're going to start acting like real men.
  • Spend a lot of time at the seminary. Arrive unannounced frequently.
  • When you visit parishes, skip the phony paperwork. Speak to the priests, personnel, and parish council: one-on-one, if possible. Ask them what's the biggest problem facing the parish. Look for trends in the sacramental index. Check the liquor cabinet in the rectory. Check the grocery bill.
  • Make a habit of calling priests at random, at odd times. Ask them what they're doing.
Networking and team ministry
  • Pick a few conscience fights early on: the right of Catholic med students to opt out of abortion and sterilization training, the right of Catholic pharmacists not to fill prescriptions for the Pill, the right of girls working at 7-Eleven not to handle porn, etc. And here's the key: ask the Protestants and Jews who belong to your civil amity luncheon groups to join you in the fights—not in support of your view, necessarily, but at least in defense of freedom of religion. If they balk at helping you, you've got some moral capital in your pocket when they try to rope you into cooperation with their own pet causes.
  • Identify Orthodox Jews, who are big on family values, and make it clear you're well disposed to them. Not only is it a huge help politically to have an Orthodox rabbi standing next to you when you hold a press conference deploring some abortion-law outrage, but if you can get on the right side of the rift in the Jewish community you can spare yourself aggravation from the liberal Jews who anoint themselves public spokesmen.
  • And while we're speaking of inter-religious affairs, many (professional class) Muslims are flattered to be asked to join in anti-porn or anti-abortion initiatives. Identify people you can work with and get them on board; if nothing else, the media are blocked from spinning stories in certain directions when all the photos or videos show an obvious imam or rabbi in the same frame as the bishop. NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and their chums hate it when that happens. It's a political rule of thumb to find out what your opponents don't want you to do, and do more of it.
  • When laws that impinge upon the Christian conscience are discussed (e.g., laws that would guarantee access to abortion or sterilization, laws that require hiring of homosexuals) remind everyone who represents the diocese that it is not sufficient to obtain a “religious exclusion” so that Church-run institutions are exempt. If what's being proposed is morally objectionable, everyone should be able to invoke a conscience clause—at the bare minimum. Church lawyers and lobbyists should defend the rights of all Catholics, not only those employed by Church institutions.
Ongoing processes
  • Having informed him of your wishes on the matter, dock the diocesan paper editor a day’s pay every time your photo appears. The diocese is not about YOU.
  • Publish every semester a roster of the theologians and philosophers teaching in your diocese along with their mandatum status. Give a brief but candid explanation for any case in which the mandatum has been denied, e.g., “defects regarding Catholic doctrine on contraception.”
  • If a complaint comes in on liturgical abuse, phone the pastor and get his side of the story. Make it a policy to write him a letter summarizing the conversation (including his assurances of conformity) and if that complaint was warranted, insist that he post your letter in the vestibule of the church for a month. If the complainant reports no change, send someone to check it out on site.
  • Find out when Eucharistic adoration is being held at schools and colleges and make it a point of sliding in unexpectedly and joining the students in adoration—not taking center stage, perhaps not even saying a word, but just being shoulder to shoulder at prayer with them.
  • Find an opportunity to visit all three military service academies once a year and give the cadets the most ferocious rip-roaring homily you can muster (as a clandestine vocation appeal). You’ll bag 6 to 10 a year—not all scholars, but good men from good families. There's a huge pool of idealism there that's coming to grips with the disillusionment toward military life. They love folks who promise to make it hard on them.
  • Institute a “Good Touch/Bad Touch” program in the diocese: Announce to the priests that if they would like you to visit them in prison, touch.
  • Skip a meeting of the USCCB and delay paying the annual assessment, just for the hell of it.

Cardinal Burke in Ireland...

From Desiderium...

Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in the Vatican, celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Marian Sanctuary in Knock County Mayo on Saturday the 10th of September.

His Eminence was formally welcomes by the Parish Priest of Knock who hosted a private dinner for the Cardinal with a few invited guests who included Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam and Bishop Brendan Kelly of Achonry diocese. The Cardinal began the Saturday with a conference on human life which he said is sacred from the first moment of conception to its natural end. “Human life has value even in those who society seems to no longer care about” he said to those who attended in the only basilica in Ireland at Knock. He spoke about the attack on the Catholic Church worldwide because of its defence not only of human life but because of its defence of the truth “and when we see the ferocity of these attacks especially here in Ireland we can see it is Satan himself who is behind it” he said.

Later in the day the Cardinal celebrated the Pontifical High Mass in the Parish Church of Saint John the Baptist to a packed congregation. The mass itself took just under two hours to celebrate and the homily was given after the final blessing and in accordance to the rubric of the 1962 Missale Romanum. This was the first Pontifical High Mass to be celebrated in 61 years at the Marian Sanctuary; the last one was by Cardinal D’Alton in 1950 in celebrated thank-giving for the Dogma of the Assumption which was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on November 1st 1950. (End)

Report-William A. Thomas

Photos of the event (all photos are copyright to William A Thomas):

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Update on SSPX Meeting Part IV

At the conclusion of the meeting that Bishop Bernard Fellay and his two General Assistants had at the Vatican with Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on September 14, 2011, at 10:00 a.m., the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X answered our questions [for the readers of DICI].

Bishop Fellay (center) with his two Assistants: Frs. Pfluger (left)
and Nely (right)
How did this meeting go?
The meeting was conducted with great courtesy and with equally great candor, because for the sake of honesty the Society of St. Pius X refuses to evade the problems that remain. Moreover the theological discussions that took place during these past two years were held in this same spirit.
When I stated on August 15 of this year that we were in agreement on the fact that we did not agree about the Second Vatican Council, I also made sure to explain that when it comes to dogmas, like the doctrine of the Trinity, we are quite obviously in agreement when we find them mentioned in Vatican II. One sentence must not be taken out of its context.  It is to the great credit of our theological talks that they seriously examined and elucidated all these doctrinal problems.
The joint press release by the Vatican and the Society announced that a doctrinal document was delivered to you and that a canonical solution was proposed to you. Can you give us any particulars?
This document is entitled “Doctrinal Preamble”; it was handed over to us for in-depth study. Hence it is confidential, and you will understand why I say no more about it to you. However the term “preamble” does indicate that acceptance of it is a preliminary condition for any canonical recognition of the Society of St. Pius X on the part of the Holy See.

Cardinal Levada
On the subject of this doctrinal preamble, to the extent that this does not concern its confidentiality, can you confirm that it contains, as announced in the press release, a distinction between what is de fide [essential to the faith]—to which the Society fully adheres—and what is dependent on a pastoral council, as Vatican II itself claimed to be, and thus could be subjected to criticism without calling the faith into question?

Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos
This new distinction was not only announced in the press release; I have personally heard it from various sources. As early as 2005, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos told me, after I spent five hours explaining to him all the objections to Vatican II that the Society of St. Pius X had formulated: “I cannot say that I agree with everything that you have said, but what you have said does not mean that you are outside the Church.  Write to the pope therefore and ask him to lift the excommunication.”
Today, for the sake of objectivity, I must acknowledge that in the doctrinal preamble there is no clear-cut distinction between the inviolable dogmatic sphere and the pastoral sphere that is subject to discussion.  The only thing that I can say, because it is part of the press release, is that this preamble contains “certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church’s Magisterium and to "sentire cum Ecclesia" [thinking with the Church]. At the same time, it leaves open to legitimate discussion the examination and theological explanation of individual expressions and formulations contained in the documents of Vatican Council II and of the later Magisterium.”  There you have it;  no more and no less.
As for the canonical status that is said to have been proposed to the Society of St. Pius X, on the condition that it adheres to the doctrinal preamble:  there has been talk about a [personal] prelature rather than an ordinariate;  it this correct?
As you correctly note, this canonical status is conditional; only later on will we be able to see the exact modality of it; it still remains a subject for discussion.

Msgr. Pozzo,
Secretary of the
Ecclesia Dei Commission
When do you think you will give your answer to the proposal in the doctrinal preamble?
As soon as I have taken the time necessary to study this document, and to consult with those who are chiefly responsible for the Society of St. Pius X, because in such an important matter I have promised my confreres not to make a decision without consulting them first.
But I can assure you that our decision will be made for the good of the Church and of souls. Our Rosary Crusade, which continues for several more months, must be intensified so as to enable us to obtain, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, the graces of light and strength that we need more than ever.  (DICI no. 240 dated September 14, 2011)

Update on SSPX Meetings Part III

  Stay tuned....

From the SSPX:

In addition to the publication of the Holy See's press release, Bishop Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Society St. Pius X, will voice his thoughts during an exclusive interview which will appear later today on DICI.   read on dici >
Source: Holy See Press Office Bulletin, September 14, 2011 | DICI
Bishop Bernard Fellay, SSPX Superior General
Later today (9-14-2011)...
exclusive interview of Bishop Fellay!