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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mrs. Flubberback, Mr. Cummerbund, and Little Suzy Snodnose

My priest friend and I were continuing the conversation that we have been having for some time now and he posed the following:

The biggest complaint that modern liturgists lodge against the pre-Vatican II Mass is that the congregation was not in "full, conscious, active participation." This usually means that they came in late, left early, didn't understand Latin, sat in their pews like bumps on a log and did private devotions, such as the Rosary to occupy their time. Their body postures were not always uniform, some sat while others knelt and so on.  
After Vatican II with the emphasis on a narrow interpretation of what "full, conscious, active participation" meant, and the priest now facing the congregation which made it possible for him to see what was happening out there in front of him, the priest and deacons now acting as policemen would chastise the congregation if they weren't in lockstep with a narrow, sterile view of full conscious, active participation. And on top of that the priest introduced his own peculiarities into the liturgy, such as asking everyone to hold hands at the Lord's Prayer, turn and greet everyone at the beginning of Mass and the like.
Now, since I am more of a traditional minded priest, even when celebrating the OF Mass facing the Congregation, I do get disturbed by what I see happening in the congregation if I find it distracting or not in lockstep with what the books tell the people to do. I use to go ballistic when I saw people holding hands at the Lord's prayer, or the charismatics holding hands high at the singing of hymns or at the Gloria and Sanctus or the congregation motioning back to me when I extended my arms to greet them and they did the same when responding, "and also with you." 
 So should priests give a flip over what the congregation is or isn't doing, such as standing at the Eucharistic Prayer when everyone else is kneeling, or kneeling when the reading are read when everyone else is sitting, or raising their hands in ectasy like charismatics are prone to do which is clearly not prescribed by "read the black and do the red."

To me (being a trained liturgist), this is a very interesting post.  It really speaks to a couple of big misconceptions and I think shows the inaccuracy of the liberal mindset (read: I am not calling Father a liberal, but rather commenting on the point he is making).

It is said of the TLM, "This usually means that they came in late, left early, didn't understand Latin, sat in their pews like bumps on a log and did private devotions, such as the Rosary to occupy their time. Their body postures were not always uniform, some sat while others knelt and so on."

It is observed of the Novus Ordo, "Now, since I am more of a traditional minded priest, even when celebrating the OF Mass facing the Congregation, I do get disturbed by what I see happening in the congregation if I find it distracting or not in lockstep with what the books tell the people to do."

To me (after a cursory reading), this shows that things really haven't changed with the "aggiornamento."  To me, this shows that the liberal liturgist has failed in his re-imagined view of "full, conscious, and active participation."  The traditional liturgist holds the obverse view.  The authentic understanding of "full, conscious, and active participation" doesn't mean active participation, but rather it means actual participation.  Participatio actuosa, not participatio activa.

Father echoes what the traditional liturgist knows and promotes (read: what I have been advocating since day 1), "Their body postures were not always uniform, some sat while others knelt and so on."

My response to that statement is quite simply, "So what?"  Is it a sin to sit during the consecration (or in some places kneel)?  No.  There is usually a valid reason why, in the TLM someone is not kneeling, but that is of little consequence AND if it is a "willy nilly" reason, the faithful will usually take care of the faithful, in short, they will offer the fraternal correction (not so much in the Novus Ordo, though...curious).

What this comes down to is simple.  The traditional understanding of worship is a very personal one.  How one worships is never more important than WHY one worships.  So, if Mrs. Flubberback is in the back row praying her rosary and Mr. Cummerbund is halfway up the epistle side meditating on the stations, and little if Suzy Snodnose is following along in her hand missal intently, who is participating more?  The liberal would say that none of them, but the traditional liturgist would say that all of them are, because they are all uniting their minds, hearts and souls to the salvific action on the altar in an unbloody way to the life of Christ.  And isn't that what worship is?  To unite one's soul, mind and heart to God?

So, Mrs. Flubberback doesn't stand, but sits...why?  Did she just have a knee replaced?  Is she lazy?  Does she have back problems?  Who cares.  So, Mr. Cummerbund kneels through the whole Mass, is he pietistic?  Is he repenting for something?  Does he like to kneel?  Who cares?  Is little Suzy kneeling, and sitting, and standing?  Maybe, but that is because she's following along with her missal, but...who cares?

What the faithful should care about isn't what those persons are doing, but rather that they, themselves are uniting their whole mind, soul, and heart to God.

If the liturgist is more interested in making the faithful into little ersatz-clerics, through hand positions and uniform actions 100%, then the liturgist has missed the point of worship.  The faithful don't respond and "act" because everyone else is doing it, but because it is an ejaculation of love for God, the Father.  To do it for any other reason is quite simply, participatio activa.

The answer is simple, Father.  Turn around, celebrate Mass ad orientem and don't worry about things that you cannot control.  You can't control Mrs. Flubberback, Mr. Cummerbund or little Suzy Snodnose, but you can control the "black and the red."  Your role is clear.  You are the mediator between the worship and God, the Father.  You are Christ at Calvary, in an unbloody way.  Your action (not acting, please note the very important difference) is precise and it is calculated.  The red is there for a reason, it isn't a suggestion, it isn't a guide, it is a rule (or law).  The black is there for a reason, it isn't a suggestion, it isn't a guide, it is a rule (or law).  I can guarantee you 100% (with the exception of perhaps your childhood bully) that no one is making faces toward your back and I can certainly guarantee that nobody is going to stab you in the back (unless you have a liberal liturgist).

To answer your last paragraph...NO.  Priests should not give a flip as to what the congregation is doing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Understanding Our Role in Assisting at Holy Mass

As I continue with my conversations with others regarding the theology behind the liturgical action, I was privy to this and I added my own response.

Father said,
 However, Vatican II sensibilities in terms of the unity of the priest and the congregation are to be applied to it and actual participation as understood in the Ordinary Form, meaning the congregation takes it's parts which would have been normally associated with the altar servers and/or choir.
Another person in the conversation said,
Really, Father, if you are to be the Church's clairvoyant liturgist, you move on and get past your progressive Novus Ordo seminary indoctrination, and quit trying incessantly to micromanage the way the people participate in the liturgy. It's their own business, not yours (however hard this is for an ingrained clericalist to accept).
To which I repsonded,

This is an important concept which cannot be overlooked.  The priest has a role to fulfill in the celebration of Holy Mass. The faithful have a role to fulfill in the celebration of Holy Mass.  They are joined insofar as they are both present, but they are separate in action.

The priest acts in a certain way with his ministers as he offers the sacrifice on behalf of the faithful and the faithful act in a certain way while assisting/hearing Holy Mass.  Those actions are mutually exclusive.

There is a theological reason for a communion rail as well as a practical one.  Just as there was a curtain and doorways into the Holy of Holies, the Communion rail and it's doors are a separation of action.  The priest offers and his ministers support the Holy Mass, through their outward (and inward, hence the conjoining of the sanctuary and the nave) action.  The faithful worship and adore the fruit of that action.

The role of the faithful is not to be burdened with the activa, but rather to embrace the actuosa, internally and personally and allow the activa to flow naturally.  That is why the priest has his ministers.  Their burden is the activa, but then again, they should be trained to handle that burden, spiritually, so as to properly meld the activa and actuosa.  To be a minister at the altar is a charism, not a right.

This is yet another issue with the faulty liturgical theology which emerged after the Council.  Prior to this, it was understood, innately.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Should Father Be "Concerned?"

Recently, I was speaking with one of my priest friends and he posited the following in the course of our conversation:

Of course, I can't see what is happening in the congregation and so don't become preoccupied by how well or how poorly the congregation is actually participating... I become like a teacher in the classroom evaluating what the congregation is doing and experience rises in my blood pressure when I see children or adults getting up during Mass to go to the bathroom or outside or whatever, even during the words of consecration...

I know that this will raise the ire of some, but I was refreshed to hear this from him.  His role at Mass is NOT first to be a teacher.  His role first is to be a celebrant.  He is offering the Holy Sacrifice and what the faithful do outside the rail shouldn't really impact what he is doing inside the rail.

I know, I know, this is a very "old" way of looking at the Mass, but it is nevertheless true.  There are (and always have been) two distinct actions taking place at Mass.  First, the priest (with his ministers) is offering the Holy Sacrifice.  Second, the faithful are worshipping and adoring God the Father as this action is taking place.  It is the obligation of the faithful to assist (participatio actuosa) at that Mass, but not to participatio activa.  And it is the blurring of that which has caused no end of trouble in the aftermath of Vatican Council II, liturgically.

As the conversation went on, he asked,

Should the priest be a detective or policeman concerning how well or poorly the congregation is "actually" participating?

My answer is no.  It isn't his concern.  It is his concern to celebrate the Mass validly, licitly and with all reverence, honor and glory due it, EVERY SINGLE TIME.  If there is a ruckus or if there is a disruption during the Mass with regard to the faithful, it falls on the ushers to do their job.  If the same happens in the sanctuary, it falls on the MC to do his job.

It is Father's job to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Proper Adoration and Proper Worship

It was recently said by an acquaintance,

I have watched our school children stand to receive Holy Communion at our school Masses and this year, I have watched them kneel to receive. There is a big difference and what is being conveyed to these children when they kneel is that something out of the ordinary is happening when they receive our Lord in Holy Communion and that they should fall to their knees in adoration! Isn't this what Pope Benedict is saying by insisting that people kneel when he distributes Holy Communion?
My response to that is;

It is what the Holy Father is saying, but isn't it sad that it has come to this?  Isn't it sad that proper adoration is out of the ordinary?

When we talk about the crisis of faith, it all comes down to that.  It all comes down to the fact that we have lost the ability to properly adore and worship God the Father, through the Son, from which the Holy Spirit proceeds.  When we catechize,  THAT is the crux of the new evangelization.  THAT is the key to bringing Catholicism back.

When we ask ourselves about the Mass, when we ask ourselves about Vatican Council II, we must ask does the reformed Mass convey proper adoration and proper worship based upon 2000 years of the Church?  Does Vatican Council II convey proper theological, philosophical, and Catholic thought based upon 2000 years of the Church?

We can argue about the form of the Mass and we will, we can argue about the Council and we will, we can argue about theology, philosophy and Catholic identity, and we will.  What it all comes down to though is proper worship and adoration.  If we understand those two things above all others then we understand the Church, not the Church since 1965, but the Church since her inception.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pope St. Pius V and Centralization of the Mass

I was reading a commentary and the following was said,

The Missa Bossa Nova was written for the vernacular Tridentine Mass of the 1965 missal by Father Peter Sholtes. If you forget the tempo and instruments and focus on the English words, you will find that the first translation of the Latin Mass into English was very faithful to the Latin whereas what we got in 1973 was anything but faithful. Listen closely, the translation is very similar with only minor differences with the revised translation that we've had for the past glorious year. 
I think the single worst thing that happened to the Catholic Mass was not its vernacularization, although the second revised English translation was an absolute disaster, now corrected thanks be to God and not to liturgists.

The single worst thing that happened to the Catholic Mass was the total abandonment of Gregorian Chant, or polyphony or other chants based upon these. But worse yet was the abandonment of no instrumentation when singing and the organ for instruments that are best left to the secular venue, such as those used in the Missa Bossa Nova. Even its name tells you that Catholic spirituality and chant are seriously compromised by the melody, beat and instrumentation used. 
I responded thusly;

"If you forget the tempo and instruments and focus on the English words, you will find that the first translation of the Latin Mass into English was very faithful to the Latin whereas what we got in 1973 was anything but faithful."

But we cannot forget that.  It is that as much as abandonment of the Latin which caused the problems we have today.  It is the absolute disregard for the sacred, in favor of the profane which caused the liturgical malaise we must combat today.

Some will say that we cannot put the horse back in the barn, my response to that is "WHY NOT?!"  According to the liberals, we are the most educated, the most modern and the most "enlightened" Catholics EVER.  Why can't we figure out a way to put the horse back in the barn?  I believe we can.

The Church spent a goodly number of years prior to 1570 with regional Masses, which is essentially what we have now.  St. Pius V centralized that and for near ye 500 years we had liturgical stability and the Church entered into a so-called counter reformation which was a glorious period in history, from a Catholic point of view.

What we need today, is another centralization of the Mass.  The Holy Father should take a lesson from St. Pius V and simply codify the Mass and THEN IMPLEMENT IT!  As I have argued before, the Holy Father (for whatever reason) keeps the liturgical "forcefulness" in a hypothetical vacuum.  He speaks of the glories of the reform of the reform, but does nothing about it.

The re-introduction of the TLM was not a reform of the reform, it was a restoration of a Catholic truth.  And a good one, at that.  But....what has come from it? (That is another post for another time)  A closer translation to the Latin?  That isn't due to the restoration of the TLM, that is a process which has been ongoing since 1975, with the first revision.

A true reform of the reform would be a concrete reform of the Mass.  Substantive changes upheld by law, not suggestion, with consequences.  And those consequences should be first leveled at the bishops, then moved to the priests.  The process is simple, the implementation is simple and the acceptance would be worldwide and swift.  Catholics won't leave.  Heck, they didn't leave when the drivel you posted above was force fed to them, they won't leave now.  And if they do, that is on the priests who don't support the Vicar of Christ and the Church.

Bottom line, we can put the horse back in the barn.  We're smart enough to do it.  We just have to be willing to stand up and say ENOUGH!  Sadly, most priests like the freedom to do what they want, because for most priests, obedience is a hypothetical, just like the reform of the reform.  So, enough of Bob Hurd, and Bernadette Farrell.  Enough of Marty and David.  Enough of the St. Louis Jebbies (whoever is left) and Enough of liturgical abuse being passed off as "implementation and forward application."

The Mass should not have been tampered with.  Sacrosanctum Concilium wasn't needed, except by liberal churchmen in bed with the Protties.  And it was forced.  The Mass was reformed in the image of Luther, and Paul VI signed off on it, which makes it valid.

It's time for a second centralization and it is time for a second counter-reformation.  Just like before it must be supported by law, because as we have seen over the last 50 years, suggestion will just be ignored....much like priestly obedience.

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Regarding the Whining Pundits....

As the conversation continued (after I blogged, I might add),  I made the following statement;

Why translate the Mass at all? What is wrong with Latin? Where is the disconnect and what is the malfunction when it comes to celebrating the Mass in the universal language of the Church?

If the Mass is celebrated in one language, Latin; then there is the elimination of the majority of this discussion. The language is static, therefore the meaning is clear for each word. The words of the Mass itself are of little consequence to be heard in the vernacular tongue, so that is a non-starter. The use of a central language, Latin; allows for the universal complementarity, equity, and consistency necessary to bring the Rite back to a center position.

What we have witnessed by the "splitting" of language, is the very same thing we saw in the episode of the Tower of Babel. Often times it is wondered, why not return to one language and make all of mankind unified...I've heard that preached more than once...the same applies to the celebration of Holy Mass.

Many of the issues you list would be alleviated by the return to the liturgical language and the abandonment of the vulgar (or profane).

Another priest popped into the conversation and added the following;

Andy: What's wrong with Latin? 99% of the people reading/hearing it do not understand Latin.
Latin is not the universal language of the Church. In the Catholic universe, 99% of Catholics do not understand Latin.
Latin is not static. Latinists work every day adding new Latinized words to keep up with new words in other languages. As with any language, those who do understand it (the 1%) can and do interpret the words in various ways.
I do not agree that "the words of the mass are of little consequence." Were that so, why did we go through a re-translation of the words of the mass? Why are we discussing the words of the mass now?
Latin is not a "central language" for the 99% reason stated above.
There was never a time when all people spoke one language.

I responded thusly;

So what? What did Vatican Council II say about Latin? I do believe and I quote, " Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites." (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36.1)

It goes on to say that the limits may be extended to some of the prayers including the readings, but nowhere does it speak of the vernacular being the normative language. So, if we are truly to be a "Vatican II people," then we are at odds with your response to me.

Regarding understanding the language, well, what does the Church say about that? It says and I quote, "...Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." (Sacrosanctum Concilium 54)

So, Father, if the faithful cannot understand Latin, it would seem that you, priests, have failed the faithful. Because it was incumbent upon you to teach.

Latin is a static language. We can go on and on arguing this, but in reality the meaning of the words don't change and are not dynamic as they are in English or some other modern language.

Oh, the words of the Mass are of little consequence to the faithful. The meaning behind the action is what is important. The language is important, the conistency is important, but the words themselves, save the words of consecration, well....not so much, at least according to the liberals who are changing things. Also, to say "look at the changes in the English..." Poppycock. That is a change in translation to be more faithful to the actual words which are in LATIN.

Latin is a central language. If it weren't then the Holy See would have abandoned it. Vatican City would have abandoned it. The Holy Father would have abandoned it.

You're right, there never was a time, since Babel where we have spoken one language. But the Church speaks in one language and we should all be able to worship in that language. It is what Vatican II wanted after all....

My point is this and it remains that Latin is normative.  It will solve a lot of problems.  Sure the blue hairs and the bleeding hearts will disagree, but that is the fight they chose to fight and they lost.  The Holy Father is clear that Latin, not the vernacular, is normative.  While Masses are celebrated in the vernacular, they are not the fast growing Masses.  They are the waning ones.  The fast growing Masses are the TLM or the Extraordinary Form Masses.  Young people, middle aged people and some older people are assisting there more regularly than the Novus Ordo Masses.

Bottom line, it isn't the vernacular which is saving Holy Mother Church.  It is Latin.  And according to the Council Fathers, that is the way it always should have been.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Have Catholics Become Whining Pundits?

I was again in conversation with a priest friend who made the following statement in the course of conversation:

Have Catholics become whining pundits? I can remember the day when Catholics didn't complain for they knew a complaining spirit was not of the Holy Spirit, so they usually brought it to confession and the seal of confession
I've heard or read where some priests so dislike the new English translation that they find it a burden now to celebrate Mass! I wonder what the laity think about a priest who feels that way. Is he committing the sin of idolatry? Has he made the words of the Mass into a god or the form of the Mass into a god?
....Any Mass that is validly celebrated no matter the vocabulary, language or style of celebration is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The one Sacrifice of our crucified, Risen and Ascended Lord is made present to us on every Catholic altar in the world, in the Eastern Rite and Western Rite and all the Eastern Orthodox Churches and even in schismatic Churches which retain valid sacraments.
That is not a fair assessment, Father. While I understand that you're entitled to your opinion, your opinion is wrong by my estimation.

Here is why.

There is more to the Mass than validity. There is also the matter of being licit. When a Mass is licit the graces imparted are at their greatest, because it is at that point the Sacrament is being confected in a manner which is consistent with the AUTHENTIC magisterium of the Church. However, when the Mass is not celebrated in a licit manner, then the graces are reduced and the subjective error of the self becomes more important (to a greater or lesser degree) than the objective truth of the Rite.

So, when those of us clamor, lobby and complain that the Mass is not being celebrated properly, we are clamoring, lobbying and expressing our wishes that we are given what is our right (and it is our right). Namely to have a Mass celebrated not as the individual priest sees fit, but rather as the Church sees fit.

It is a gross mischaracterization to simply say that those who are calling for the valid AND LICIT form of the Mass to be celebrated as "whining pundits."

So, to answer your questions, I will do so now:

"Is he committing the sin of idolatry?"
--No. But he is breaking liturgical law and therefore should amend his action to conform to the authentic magisterium. The Mass is his, but only insofar as he celebrates it, the actions by which he celebrates it are very defined. Or at least they should be.

"Has he made the words of the Mass into a god or the form of the Mass into a god?"
--Again, NO. But since he is acting outside the authentic magisterium, he is acting in a manner which is contrarian and spiteful, even if unintentionally so.

The real question isn't what you're asking. The real question is why are priests so disobedient? And the bigger question is, why aren't the bishops doing anything about it, by and large.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Motu Proprio "Latina Lingua"

Things in the Church move at a snail's pace.  We all know this.  It isn't anything new or earth shattering for me to say this, but I will say that while Benedict does follow that pattern on some things, on other's he moves like a rocket ship!  The language of the Church is one of them.  He is a proponent of Latin.  He uses Latin and he supports Latin.  His first public homily (to the Cardinals was in Latin) and there have been subsequent  homilies since.  The Papal Mass sans the readings is in Latin, Ordinary Form of course.  And then there comes this from the Holy See:

By the Motu Proprio "Latina lingua" published today, Benedict XVI has established the Pontifical Academy for Latin, which will be part of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The new academy will be directed by a president assisted by a secretary, to be appointed by the Pope, and will comprise an academic council. It will supersede the foundation "Latinitas", established by Paul VI with the Chirograph "Romani Sermonis" of 30 June 1976.
"The Latin language", says the Pope in his Motu Proprio, "has always been held in high regard by the Catholic Church and the Roman pontiffs, who have promoted the knowledge and diffusion of the language by making it their own, able to universally transmit the message of the Gospel, as was authoritatively confirmed by my predecessor Blessed John XXIII in the Apostolic Constitution 'Veterum sapientia'.
"Since the Pentecost the Church has spoken and prayed in all languages known to humanity; however, the Christian communities of the first centuries made extensive use of Greek and Latin, languages of universal communication in the world in which they lived, thanks to which the novelty of the Word of Christ encountered the heritage of Hellenistic-Roman culture. After the fall of the western Roman empire the Church of Rome not only continued to use Latin, but in a certain sense also became its custodian and promoter in the theological and liturgical fields, as well as in education and the transmission of knowledge.
"In our times too, knowledge of Latin language and culture remains as necessary as ever for the study of the sources of numerous ecclesiastical disciplines including, among others, theology, liturgy, Patristics and canon law, as confirmed by Vatican Council II. Furthermore, the 'editio typica' of the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, the most important documents of the pontifical Magisterium and the most solemn Acts of the Roman pontiffs are written in Latin, precisely to emphasise the universal nature of the Church.
"However, in contemporary culture, within the context of a generalised deterioration in humanistic studies, we see the danger of an increasingly superficial knowledge of Latin, which may also be detected in the philosophical and theological studies of future priests. On the other hand, in our world in which science and technology are so prominent, we also find renewed interest in the Latin language and culture, and not only in those continents with Greco-Roman cultural roots. This interest seems particularly significant inasmuch as it is present not only in academic and institutional environments, but also involves young people and scholars from very different nations and traditions.
"There is therefore an apparent pressing need to encourage commitment to a greater knowledge and more competent use of Latin, in the ecclesial environment as well as in the world of culture at large. To give prominence and resonance to this effort, it is important to adopt teaching methods adapted to contemporary conditions, and to promote a network of relationships between academic institutions and among scholars with the aim of promoting the rich and varied heritage of Latin civilisation".
The Holy Father concludes by saying that, "in order to contribute to the achievement of these aims, and following in the wake of my venerated predecessors, with the present Motu Proprio I today establish the Pontifical Academy for Latin".
By this Motu Proprio the Pope approves the statute of the new academy "ad experimentum" for a five-year period.

This is a fairly big step.  There is a nuance in here which will be missed, if one isn't looking for it and it is that he is reversing or superseding a previous Pope's position (Paul VI) while supporting that Pope's immediate predecessor (Bl. John XXIII).  Benedict XVI will drag his feet on some things, but on the use of Latin, he is a true restorationist!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Now?

So the election is over.  Boo.  It isn't what I wanted in a result, but I am very well aware that I don't always get what I want.  It's interesting though, now we have to move on.  We have to do what we can as Catholics to forward the idea and ideal of Catholicism in America.

Our mission has not changed.  We must promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We must hold the Catholic line regarding the non-negotiables.  We must protect innocent life, we must protect marriage.  We lost the election on the national level, but in many places we won the state battle.

I am of the opinion that we, as Catholics, must mobilize and we must lobby.  We must fight.  We must NOT relent on the issues which threaten our country.  We must do this systematically.  We must do this efficiently and we must do this with a POSITIVE attitude for change.

Find your local abortion mill, whether it be Planned Parenthood or some other place and protest publicly.  Follow the necessary steps and prayerfully protest.

Find your State Representative and State Senator's office and make it clearly and concisely known that abortion and so-called "same sex marriage" is not acceptable.

Find your National Representative and Senator's office and do the same thing.

Finally, go to Holy Mass and pray.  Pray for the leadership of this country to embrace a properly formed conscience.  Pray for the local, state and national leadership to do what is right and good.  Catholic thought is not just Catholic, it is universal.  It is right thinking and it is truly diverse.

My prayer for the next 4 years is that the damage is limited.  My prayer for the next 4 years is that we can affect a change.  But we must be clear in our goal, we must be clear in our action and we must be clear in our thought.  Emotions play a part, but that part should be a small part.  We must remain logical and reasonable.

We must accomplish our goals.  We must end abortion and we must support the proper definition of marriage.  These are things that are not negotiable.  These are man made interventions into divine law.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Please Go To Confession

As we come close to Christmas and a new year in Holy Mother Church, I am reminded of a plea that was made to us while in college.

"End the year right, go to confession."

On the heels of that, when we came back from Christmas break, either for J-term or to start the new semester, we hear this plea;

"Start the year right, go to confession."

I know that for the vast, vast majority of Catholics, the idea of going to confession is one of nostalgia.  Thoughts like, "Oh, that is nice, but it is what was done years ago..." or "I'll go soon, but just not now...," but those thoughts are wrongheaded.  We need confession.  We need confession.  We need confession.  The idea behind it is so simple.  Go, confess your sins, make a firm resolution to not do them again and then live your life.  Easy peasy.

But it isn't.  Sin is hard.  It is hard to confess, but it is harder to stop.  Why?  Because 9 times out of 10, it feels good to sin.  It is that guilty pleasure that you don't have to tell anyone about.  It is that knowledge that you got away with something and it is just your knowledge.  The reasons are infinite.  But that is the hard part, they become a habit and that habit becomes something which very hard to break.

Sure, it's easy to talk about porn, or sexual deviancy, or something really salacious, but in reality those aren't the sins that are the hard ones (oh, they can be...), the hard ones are the small sins that nick away at the soul.  The disobedience to parent, spouse, friend, boss, etc...  The occasional missing of Holy Mass.  The white lie that doesn't "hurt anyone."  Those are the tough ones.  Those are the sins which eat away at Christian dignity and our striving for holiness.

We need confession.  Why?  Because it is a way to hold ourselves accountable for our actions.  We budget our money right?  Why?  To hold ourselves accountable to our debtors and to save.  The concept is exactly the same.  When we go to confession we hold ourselves accountable to God and we are saved.  The priest hears the confession and the priest gives absolution, but the priest at that time isn't just Fr. Bob or Fr. Whomever, but he is also Christ Jesus.  He is persona Christi.  The absolution doesn't come from a man, it comes from Christ through a man.

Once one gets in the habit of going to confession, it is easy.  It is easier to go to confession than just about any other sacrament.  And there is something liberating about it.  As an example, I will share my confession habit:

I go to confession either weekly or bi-weekly (It depends on circumstances), but never longer than a month, without going.  99% of the time I don't have a mortal sin to confess, but it doesn't matter because if we are aware of it all sin must be confessed.  So, I go in and I confess it.  I don't mince words and I don't look for emotional counselling (if Father wants to counsel for more than a few seconds, I'll make an appointment).  I NEVER go face to face.  The priest doesn't matter.  He is there to hear the confession, he is not there to hold my hand or to look empathetic or to be a friend.  I don't mind (actually, I do expect) a stern penance and I always make a firm resolution to amend my life.  It isn't always easy to fulfill, but I do it.

As a Catholic, I'm going to ask YOU to start going to confession again, if you've stopped.  It is the most liberating sacrament and it is a way for you to deepen your friendship with God.  It has worked for me and if you look to EVERY SINGLE saint, you'll find that it worked for them too.

Please go to confession.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Some Final Thoughts Before Election Day

We are a week away from election day.  Time is short and we have an obligation as citizens in the United States to vote.  It is one of our most basic freedoms.  The fact that we can vote and have a direct impact on how the electoral college will vote makes each vote vitally important.  As Catholics in America we have a duty to be patriots and good Catholics, voting is part of that proper understanding.

However as Catholics in America, NOT American Catholics, we must vote with a properly formed conscience.  We cannot support a candidate who is opposed to the principles of Catholic thought.  We must vote for those things which are in harmony with our faith.  If that candidate does not exist, we then must vote for the candidate which most perfectly embodies those things.

The most important issue we face in this election cycle is not the economy.  The most important issue we face in this election is not foreign or domestic policy.  The most important issue we face in this election is the right to life and the pursuit of happiness.  However that happiness must be rooted in God, the Father.  We cannot lose sight of what it means to do His will.  While we are imperfect beings, we must strive to become perfect.  We see this in the Incarnation of Christ Jesus, for God did so love the world that he did send his only begotten Son.  Christ Jesus is the perfect model for imperfect beings.  And this is all achieved through guidance from the Holy Spirit.  Please understand clearly, the Church is the embodiment of Christ Jesus glorified and we must forge a way which is complementary to Him Who Is.

As we prepare to vote in this election we must choose first to put someone in office who most perfectly embodies Catholic thought.  That is our duty as Catholics in America.  We cannot, nor should we expect to do any less nor should we expect any less from any other Catholic person in America.

I recently read an article that I would like to share with you.  It is written by Arland K. Nichols.  Arland K. Nichols is the Director of Education and Evangelization at Human Life International. He is the executive editor of the Truth and Charity Forum.

Election 2012 is upon us. Many are calling it the most important election in their lives. The candidates and supporters have routinely emphasized that the Presidential candidates, their platforms, and their voting records are complete opposites. The two main parties in the United States have extremely different visions on nearly every issue of importance. And so, as is the American way, the campaign spin machines and the rhetoric are ramped up in anticipation of November 6.
How do we cut through the rhetoric so that we might become aware of and guided by Catholic principles and priorities? In answering this, we must be aware that it is virtually impossible to address election related matters without being accused of partisanship. Even Bishops face this accusation when they, for example, speak out regarding the primacy of life, marriage, and religious liberty. It remains, however, that we must sift through the nonsense and vote responsibly.
I suggest taking a step away from the political scene in the United States to consider the teaching of the Universal Church. In 2002 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life in which the Church provides Catholics in democratic societies around the world principles that are a sure and non-partisan guide. Surely, the CDF is immune from claims of loyalty to either the Republican or Democratic parties?
Recalling the example of Saint Thomas More, the first point of emphasis made by the Congregation is that our politics cannot be separated from morality. In this we must refuse to compromise. We must each vote in conformity with our well-formed Christian conscience, bringing to the social realm the moral precepts found in natural law. We are not necessarily called to bring religious precepts, but moral precepts that are common to all human beings and binding on all.
The abiding concerns of the CDF in this document are cultural relativism, the disintegration of reason and rejection of the natural moral law in favor of passing cultural and moral trends, and the marginalization of Christians from the public square. Noting that “moral anarchy” and the “oppression of the weak by the strong” is the inevitable consequence of these trends, the Church calls Catholics to actively participate so as to uphold the dignity of all persons (6). A democracy can only succeed if it is rooted in a correct understanding of the human person. “It is respect for the person that makes democratic participation possible” (3).
With this as the backdrop, the CDF distinguishes between “temporal questions that God has left to the free and responsible judgment of each person” and “non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society” (3). On the temporal questions, the Church claims no expertise in providing “specific political solutions” (3). While the CDF does not list specific examples of such temporal questions, these are understood to include economic policy, immigration law, and methods of providing healthcare.
The CDF prioritizes the “non-negotiable ethical principles” upon which democracy must be based. Quoting John Paul II, the CDF first addresses direct attacks on human life and notes that we “have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life…it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.” In the context of its discussion concerning such attacks on life, the CDF reminds us that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals” (4).
The CDF then highlights abortion, euthanasia, experimentation on embryos, and “modern forms of slavery” as evils about which we may not compromise. Additionally, it stresses goods that must be protected: “monogamous marriage between a man and woman,” “the freedom of parents regarding the education of their children,” religious freedom, peace, and “the development of an economy that is at the service of the human person” (4). The above evils, without exception, may never receive support from a Catholic voter. The goods must always be pursued, though how that is accomplished will vary depending upon the political situation and the common will.
Limiting acts that “attack the very inviolability of human life” is the highest priority in the formation of consciences of Catholic voters, and “the Catholic commitment becomes more evident and laden with responsibility” when we face political candidates that support policies that offend “moral principles that do not admit of exception.” As we vote on November 6, we must be very clear on the positions taken by the candidates on the issues, and we must discharge our responsibilities according to the principles taught by the Church.

We must come to understand one thing.  When we vote, we must vote not only for our own good, but also for the good of all mankind.  We cannot compromise on those things which bring about evil.  If a candidate seeks to promote abortion, euthanasia, experimentation on embryos, and a disregard for life, we must not vote for him.  As I said above, if there is no perfect candidate, then we are obliged to vote for that candidate which seeks to limit the evil to the greatest extent.

I am not telling you how to vote.  But I am saying that to vote against those things which are either Catholic or open the possibility to proper Catholic action is to improperly act upon one's conscience.  The choice belongs to each one of us.  We can choose the good or we can not choose the good.  It is a simple choice, but it is not an easy choice.  We must make it, though.

Monday, October 29, 2012

More on Liturgical Aberration....

As I continue a conversation with a priest friend, the following came up for discussion:

"We nonetheless got a liturgy that was manufactured by the committee Pope Paul VI established."

Actually, "the committee" was formed in 1948.  And it was the brainchild of Bugnini.  (I would hate to think that anyone would think there is revisionist history going on.)

"...what can be done within the liturgical norms of the normative Mass apart from a total revision..."

Nothing.  I think that the horse is so far out of the barn that there is no bringing her back.  I think that it will take a total revision of the Mass.  I think that is what Benedict thinks as well, but doesn't have the gumption to do anything about it.  He doesn't know how to move it out of the realm of the hypothetical and it remains largely an academic exercise, for now.  Sure he's made some cosmetic changes, but mostly they are non-starters.

The Novus Ordo or Missa Normativa (if you would like to call it that) is such an aberration from that which was intended that there is no way to "really" save it.  Too many liberties have been taken.  Too many abuses have be normalized.  To simply turn the altars around and put boys in cassock and surplice is to simply put lipstick on a pig at this point.

I am all for an authentic "reform of the reform."  But...and this is a very big BUT...there must actually be a reform.  Not academic, not hypothetical or even theoretical, there must be an actual reform.  That Father, must come in a total revision of the Novus Ordo and re-application of the 1962 Missale.

So, my thoughts would be very simple.

1.  Abrogate the Novus Ordo
2.  Return to the TLM.
3.  Engage in truly scientific methodology with regard to the Mass (characterize, hypothesize, predict, and experiment) which can work, assuming that the premise is valid in order to begin.
4.  Act upon the methodology in a way which is shares true continuity with the TLM.

There you have it.  Easy peasy.  Except that the liberals won't allow it to actually happen, because their "hard work" to undermine the liturgical life and ultimately the entire life of Holy Mother Church would be dashed.

This is by and large the problem with the whole of the so-called liturgical movement.  It was based upon a false premise.  There was never a "renewal," but rather a revisionist attitude from the start.  When we admit this as being true, then we can start the real work of restoring and reforming the Mass.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

More on Participatio Actuosa v. Participatio Activa

The Novus Ordo can be dressed up all one wants, but in the end, it is still a MAJOR aberration of liturgical theology.  MAJOR!!!!

The idea of participatio activa taking precedence over participatio actuosa must be addressed if there is to be any "real" reform of the reform.  As long as the faithful misunderstand their role in the liturgical action and perceive that they have a right to exercise "ministry" in a way which is anything other than extraordinary then the "real" reform of the reform will never take place.

When the faithful are used on a regular basis when there is no need, when the faithful are used as a norm, then liturgical theology is compromised and the abuse of "full, conscious, and active participation" is continued.  And that is a MAJOR problem.

The role of the faithful isn't to "do stuff" at Holy Mass, but rather the role of the faithful is to worship!  WORSHIP!  The faithful should be uniting their whole mind, heart and soul to the action of the priest, primarily.  The faithful should not be seeing their external action as being fulfilling.  Until that is corrected, there is a discussion about apples, when oranges are on the agenda.

I would argue that in 100% of parishes in the USA there is no need for EMHC's.  On a regular basis there is no need to use them.  The "option" to use the chalice is just that, an option.  There is no basis for it as normative, except when there is a need to fulfill the participatio activa "fix" of the women (and occasionally, men) who want to be in the sanctuary.

That is the real discussion which needs to be had, the rest is just symantics, with regard to the Mass.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Al Smith Dinner

I hate to say it, but I have to bag on this.

First, I am not at all impressed that Cardinal Dolan invited President Obama to this dinner.  He is arguably the most anti-Catholic President this country has ever seen.  He is definitely the most outwardly pro-abortion President.  I might have been a little less critical had Cardinal Dolan taken the opportunity to catechize (because he is supposedly Christian) President Obama, but he didn't.

It saddens me that Cardinal Dolan used a pro-abort to raise money for the Archdiocese.  I know that it is supposed to be in good fun, but in all reality it is a travesty.  It is a travesty because Dolan had a chance to bring the message and he didn't do it.  It is a travesty because he allowed Obama to speak.  It is a travesty because, like Notre Dame, he gave a stage and a pulpit to a man who embodies everything the Church does not.  I am sure there are other reasons that it was a travesty, but I won't continue on that line.

Secondly, I am not at all impressed because this stage was a chance, a real chance for Cardinal Dolan to admonish and correct President Obama, but he didn't do it.  It was a real chance for Cardinal Dolan to stand up to the tyranny of abortion and he didn't do it.  It was a chance for Cardinal Dolan to shout down the evils which are embodied in the HHS mandate and Obamacare and he DID NOT DO IT!  Cardinal Dolan made jokes instead.

As a Catholic, Cardinal Dolan lost points in my book.  Does that matter to Cardinal Dolan.  Nope.  Does it matter to me?  Yep.  Should it matter to Cardinal Dolan?  Yep.  He is a pastor.  And as a pastor he didn't do his job in this instance.  He played politics and didn't teach the Catholic faith to the greatest extent.

I know that this is my opining.  And for some, this is my whining.  Fine.  Think that.  But honestly, how did Cardinal Dolan benefit Holy Mother Church in New York City, by allowing Obama to speak?

Finally, so as to be clear, I am not all that impressed that he invited Romney either.  He is supportive of abortion too; just in fewer ways and in a more limited circumstance.  Sorry, the mustard should have been cut. Instead it was not even smeared very well.

Too bad.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Patriotic Degree

Photos from my 4th Degree Exemplification at St. Teresa's in Des Moines.  This took place this past Saturday, 10.13.2012.  Congratulations to Sir Knights, Lenny Paterson, Tony Luft, (myself), Mark Haack and Chris Haack.  It is an honor to be knighted alongside you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reflection on 4th Degree Exemplification

Yesterday, I was exemplified into the 4th degree of the Knights of Columbus.  It was a moving experience and while I cannot divulge the ceremony itself, nor would I want to, I can reflect upon the exemplification and  what it meant to me, as a Catholic and a Knight.

Archbishop John Ireland made the following remarks in 1907, at a Knights gathering, "The layman must give his strength, his time, and his energies to advance and promote the honor of the Church." His Excellency went on, " of the most unfortunate things for the Catholic Church in America has been the tendency of its members to to hold aloof from non-sectarian movements for the general good.  Take an active interest in the general affairs.  Do not give the impression that Catholics are a separate body -- that we seek to isolate ourselves.  We have done this too much and too long." He continued to the Knights, "...not to wait for your bishop and your priest to take the initiative, to do things yourself, as you have done but do them in greater measures."  Archbishop Ireland concluded with a reference to the Knights of Columbus as "the elite Catholic laymen," who should be models of citizen activism and leadership in the "good works of the private soldiers of the Holy Church."

As I was going through the process yesterday, I was reminded about what it means to be a faithful American citizen.  That I should hold certain truths to be self-evident.  That I should promote and support religious liberty and proper religious tolerance.  These attitudes were manifest in 1907 and they have been perpetuated until today.  I think that His Excellency's words are important.  We must take the lead in promoting patriotism and Catholicism.  There is no disconnect if done properly.  We must be Catholics in America, but we are in America.  We must promote Catholic thought as it applies to our great country.  We are part of the "great secular experiment."   As Catholics we have the ability to bring our views to the forefront, just as the Protestant does.  As Catholics, we have the ability to protect the freedoms which we have, in a totally unique way, because they don't exist anywhere else in the world.  As Archbishop Ireland requests, we can be models for good citizenship.

As I think about the Declaration of Independence, I do know and I do accept that there are certain things which are truths held to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Those things apply to a Catholic as much as they do to a Protestant or a non-Christian or the Orthodox.

As a 4th degree Knight, I know that I can be a Catholic in America.  I can understand that my faith and patriotism are not at odds, but when approached correctly make me a stronger person.

To the Sir Knights exemplified yesterday, CONGRATULATIONS!
To the Sir Knights who exemplified us yesterday, THANK YOU!
To the Sir Knights whose ranks I have joined, IT IS AN HONOR!

Vivat Jesus!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tips for Dealing with Abortion Supporters

Tips for dealing with; talking about abortion:

1. Talk about the NORMAL situation:  don’t be bogged down by specific situations.  The answers are not different, but they are more involved and take more time.  Invite them to discuss later one on one, then MOVE ON!
2. What is Abortion?  The deliberate killing of an innocent unborn human being.  It is homicide, by definition.
3. The Reason for Abortion?  Convenience.  An abortion takes place in nearly all situations because the child is not wanted.
4. A Woman has a Right to do what she wants with her own body.  Correct.  BUT the child in her womb is not her own body.  It is a separate body and has a distinct genetic make-up.
5. Because the child relies on the mother for sustenance, that does not give the mother a right to kill the child. Disabled persons and the elderly and infants are reliant on others for sustenance, is the right to kill them morally acceptable?  No.
6. A fetus is not a person.  Yes it is.  All scientific evidence points in this direction.  The genetics point to this, the only difference is the “issue of development.”  An unborn child is not as well developed as an infant who is not as well developed as a child, who is not as well developed as a teenager, who is not as well developed as an adult. Should we be allowed to kill newborns or teenagers?  No.  Therefore the logic doesn’t stand up.
7. When does the fetus become a person?  Make them prove it to you.  No line can be drawn except at conception.
8. Abortion is carefully considered, therefore it is acceptable.  No.  That is irrelevant.  Just because someone carefully considers murder doesn’t make murder acceptable.
9. It’s a personal choice, “I don’t agree….but…”  Yes it is a personal choice, but not all personal choices are acceptable.  Are evil personal choices ok?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Prayer for Aborted Baby

I received the following prayer request last week:

Dear friends and family,
I am sorry to be sending out a generic email, especially since I have been so out of touch. I know I owe many of you a phone call or an email.
Most of you know I work as a crisis pregnancy counselor in the South Bronx. It is a rough neighborhood with some very broken people in it. There was a woman I counseled Tuesday who came in looking for an abortion. When she left she was leaning towards keeping and was planning on going for a sonogram this Tuesday (We need more sonogram machines so they don't have to wait so long.). The baby is about 16 weeks now. She even wanted to name her August Cheyenne if it is a girl. However, I later found out from another woman in the waiting room that the grandmother, who brought her in thinking we were an abortion clinic, was livid when she found out we weren't going to "take it out". I called her today and her grandmother made an appointment for her this Saturday morning (10/6) at an unknown clinic. As I spoke with her I could easily tell this is not what she wants but feels she has no other choice. There is so much fear. She is very sweet but very weak willed.
Even though I counsel many women each week, there is something unique about this woman and child. They have affected me enough to send out this plea to you all. Please pray for her and her baby, especially Friday and Saturday. Thank you all so very much. God bless you! 
I received the following email yesterday:

 Dear friends and family,
Thank you all very much for your prayers. I was deeply touched by many of the responses I received. I am truly bless to have you in my life. Many of you asked for an update. Tragically, it appears she most likely had the abortion. We were texting back and forth on Friday about finding her a place to live (her grandmother would kick her out if she did not have the abortion) but there was no clear resolution on her part even with the promise of a home. Then I text her Saturday morning and this afternoon. I did not hear back. Which is not like her, or most girls here, to not respond to a text- especially considering the housing situation. Most of the time when there is such a sharp change in communication, this means they decided on having or had the abortion. There is a great deal of shame involved with this, so naturally it is hard for the girl to face anyone after, especially right away. Sometimes months later they return to speak with us and we are able to refer them to different healing ministries. Hopefully this will be the case with her. I will attempt to follow up with her in a month or so to offer different resources. 
I wish I was writing with better news. Please know it was not due to lack of prayers! They had an army of people praying for them. God alone knows what an impact all of those many prayers had on her and so many women contemplating abortion. We commend little August Cheyenne and this woman to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the fount of mercy and peace. God bless you all, and please know you remain in my prayers. If you ever have specific intentions, please send them my way!
I am sending the following email back to my friend who sent the email:


I am sorry that I am so late in responding to this request.  I have been so busy with post-harvest that I am about 30 deep in email responses.  A couple of things that I want you to know from my POV:

1.  I have been praying incessantly for the proper outcome of this situation.
2.  I have been praying incessantly for the souls of the mother, child and grandmother.
3.  I have been praying incessantly for the doctors involved that they see the error.
4.  I have been praying incessantly for the over all situation to find resolution and peace.

This is hard.  I went through something similar when I was in college.  I was a sidewalk counselor for the pro-life mission at St. Thomas (MN), and I turned away several girls and women who were looking to have abortions on Ford Parkway, but I can tell you this...there were more that I didn't.  That is a burden for me.  It is something I struggle with every single day.   I understand your concern and I understand your feeling of frustration.

Please know that you're doing good.  Your words, even though they don't fall on receptive ears do make a difference.  Now, assuming that she did have the abortion, is when we really need to pray.  We need to pray for the repose of the soul of the baby.  We need to pray for the soul of the mother.  And we need to pray that she eventually can come to grips with what has transpired.  If she had the abortion, then we must do damage control spiritually.  

Participation in God's will was not done.  But God's will was done.  He will not abandon the child, but unless the child was baptized, he will be remitted to limbo.  We must pray for God's mercy.  We must pray for that child.

The mother has procured an abortion.  We know what that means and we cannot be afraid to speak about it.  We must know that she has cut herself off from God's love until such time as she is either contrite to a priest or she is perfectly contrite to God.  This transcends denomination, this speaks to divine, and eternal law.

Assuming that the abortion did take place, my prayer is now twofold:

1.  For the repose of the soul of the baby.  That God may have mercy and allow him to enter into heaven.
2.  For the soul of the mother.  Her actions have consequences and I pray that she realizes and atones for those as soon as she can.

I know that this is not an easy thing to read or to understand, but it is none-the-less true.  You are a good servant.  Your work is not unnoticed and don't stop.  Don't ever stop.  May God keep you close!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Working Together: Pro-life signage becomes joint project in Humboldt

Over the last several months, I've become more active in my local Knights of Columbus Council.  In that capacity, I have been named to two positions.  I am the One Year Trustee, but I am also the Pro-Life Chair.  I would like to share a story that was printed in the latest issue of The Globe, the newspaper for the diocese of Sioux City in Iowa.  The story follows below:

 Working Together: Pro-life signage becomes joint project in Humboldt
HUMBOLDT – New pro-life signs were recently installed on the north and east sides of Humboldt to present motorists a life-affirming message as they enter and leave the city.
The process for getting the signs began with Bruce Reimers after he travelled to Emmetsburg and saw similar signs. In time other pro-life signs were placed in Manson and that led them to contact the Knights of Columbus who were responsible for the signs in that community. 
Reimers took information back to his church, Zion Lutheran Church LCMS.  They got on board with the idea, but wanted to share the project and cost with the Catholic Church as well as the other ecclesial communions in the area.  
According to Andy Milam, pro-life chair of the St. Mary's Knights of Columbus #8592, they fully supported the concept and quickly decided that they would support it in any way they could.  Eventually, the cost was shared completely between St. Mary's and Zion Lutheran.
“This process has been a great example of interreligious dialogue.  Zion Lutheran and St. Mary's have a common goal and that is to protect and make aware that the unborn are innocent and have a right to life,” he said. “There is no disagreement or theological difference on the concept.”
From a Catholic point of view, Milam said they look at this as continuing the Catholic mandate that all life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death. He referred to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life."  (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2270)
He also cited: "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish." (CCC 2271 and  Didache 2,2:SCh 248,148)
Because this work is so important, Milam said that is what motivated the Catholics and Lutherans to work together on this project “because some issues should be based on our common heritage as Christians.”
The Knight said that the morality of this joint action is simple to understand – no one has the right to take the life of an innocent person. He stressed, the unborn child is innocent. 
Milam called it a joy to work with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  
“We hope that going forward we will be able to collaborate again on programs which promote proper interreligious dialogue,” he said.

Do Traditional Catholics Know Better?

Recently I was asked the following:

"I wonder if there is any empirical data to indicate that traditional Catholics know their faith better and have a better formed conscience compared to their contemporary counterparts."

As a catechist, I've worked in both settings.  I was in a liberal parish for several years and as I have noted, I've lived in a very conservative parish.  I can tell you from experience that the more traditional parish promotes thinking whereas the more liberal parish promotes feeling.  Obviously, there is some feeling which goes on in a traditional parish and there is thinking that goes on in a liberal parish, but by and large, the think v. feel mentality is very obvious.  But I am sure that there must be some empirical data to support my position.  I would look to the life of conservative parishes in one's diocese v. liberal parishes and see how the sacraments are being utilized.  I will be doing some research on this in my own diocese and I hope to be able to report back on this in a month or so...for now, though I will expand upon my understanding as I have witnessed it in several different parishes.

Liberal parishes encourage people to believe based upon their personal feelings.  This causes a huge problem, because the subjective reigns supreme and there is very little objective teaching which goes on.  Everything is experiential and personal.  The Church simply doesn't base it's operation that way and what results is a distorted and subjective form of worship and theology based upon the faulty subject.

To contrast, traditional parishes promote thinking based upon objective truths.  This creates an enviornment whereby the people are not basing things off of their experience and feelings, but rather on teachings which have existed for thousands of years.  They can make those teachings personal, to be sure, but the teachings are not based upon their faulty views.  They are based upon objective truth.

When one learns and applies traditional Catholic thought, the growth is immeasurable.  When one bases their Catholicism on the personal and feelings, he is limited by his own experience.  Of course there are exceptions, but this model holds by and large to be true.

If we are to be authentic in our Catholicism we must not rely on our personal experience to guide our views, because that gives us a limited worldview, but rather we should rely on the objective truth which cannot be limited by personal experience.

So, to answer the question directly, yes...contemporary Catholicism (as you have applied the terms) forms superficial Catholics, because they are limited by their own subjective experiences.  Traditional Catholicism does form a deeper Catholic because he is not limited by his own experience, but rather he is freed by the objective truth to know and understand that which is beyond and outside himself.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bishop Paprocki: The Upcoming Vote

This is important, please watch.  As Catholics we must heed the words of Bishop Paprocki!  They are balanced and very important for us to understand as we enter into the election season.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Liturgy, A School of Prayer

One of the things I do every morning as I drink my glass of iced tea (coffee for me), I read the news release from the Vatican.  I think that there is some good information in there and it keeps me abreast of what is going on in the mainstream Church.  As I was reading this morning, I came across a news brief which I would like to share.  I'm going to break it down Fr. Z style (this time. my responses will be in red):

The liturgy as a school of prayer, as a "special place in which God addresses each one of us ... and awaits our response", was the theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope explained how, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "we read that the word 'liturgy' originally meant a 'service in the name of/on behalf of the people'. If Christian theology took this word from the Greek, clearly it did so thinking of the new People of God, born of Christ Who opened His arms on the Cross to unite mankind in the one peace of God; 'service in the name of the people', a people which exists not of itself but which has come into being thanks to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ". [I think this is a key point.  There is something important about understanding that the Mass and Eucharist are not about the individual first, but rather it is about the faithful coming together to worship.  That is what the Holy Father is saying.]
"The Catechism also states that in Christian tradition, the word 'liturgy' means the participation of the People of God in the work of God". In this context Pope Benedict recalled how the document on the liturgy had been the first fruit of Vatican Council II. "By beginning with the issue of liturgy, light was very clearly thrown on the primacy of God, on His absolute precedence. ... Where the gaze on God is not decisive, everything becomes disoriented. The fundamental criterion for the liturgy is that it should be oriented towards God, in order to ensure we participate in His work. [A misconception which came about after Vatican Council II is being corrected.  The act of worshipping should be directed at God, the Father 100% of the time.  Our participation in the liturgy is not based on how much we do, but on how well we do it.]
"Yet, we might ask ourselves", the Holy Father added, "what is this work of God in which we are called to participate? ... And what makes the Mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, Who brought salvation, real for me today? The answer is this: the action of Christ through the Church and the liturgy; in particular the Sacrament of the Eucharist which causes the sacrificial offer of the Son of God Who redeemed us to be present; the Sacrament of Penance in which we pass from the death induced by sin to new life; and the other Sacraments which sanctify us". [Get that, sacrifice and sanctification]
Quoting again from the Catechism of the Catholic Church the Pope affirmed that "a sacramental celebration is a meeting of God's children with their Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit; this meeting takes the form of a dialogue, through actions and words'. Thus", he explained, "the first requirement for a good liturgical celebration is that it be prayer and dialogue with God, first listening then responding. ... Sacred liturgy offers us the words, it is up to us to enter into their meaning, absorb them, harmonise ourselves with them. ... One fundamental and primordial element of dialogue with God in the liturgy is concordance between what we say with our mouths and what we carry in our hearts", he said.  [Clearly, the Holy Father is trying to shift the meaning of active participation to actual participation.  We don't have to be doing something or even saying something all the time in order to fully participate.  We can internalize the matter and we can actually participate without opening our mouths or eyes one time during the Holy Sacrifice.  While we can and it is laudable that we do, at times, it is not a lessening of our participation if we don't, so long as we orient our hearts, our minds and our souls to the adoration, supplication and worship of God, the Father at Holy Mass.] 
The Pope then referred to a particular moment in which the liturgy calls upon us and helps us to find such concordance: the celebrant's invitation before the Eucharistic prayer: "sursum corda", meaning "let us lift up our hearts"; lift them up, that is, "out of the mire of our concerns and desires, our worries and our distraction. Our hearts, the most intimate part of us, must open meekly to the Word of God and join the prayer of the Church, in order to be oriented towards God by the very words we hear and pronounce".
"We celebrate and experience the liturgy well", the Pope concluded, "only if we maintain an attitude of prayer, uniting ourselves to the mystery of Christ and to His dialogue of a Son with His Father. God Himself teaches us to pray. ... He has given us the right words with which to address Him, words we find in the Psalter, in the great prayers of sacred liturgy and in the Eucharistic celebration itself. Let us pray to the Lord that we may become increasingly aware of the fact that the liturgy is the action of God and of man; a prayer that arises from the Holy Spirit and from us; entirely addressed to the Father in union with the Son of God made man". [Our dialogue is internal.  We must pray and we must unite our souls, our hearts, and our minds to God the Father, in Christ the Son, through the Holy Spirit.  That is the purpose of the Mass.  The Mass is a vehicle to bring us the Sacrament.  It is the means by which we worship as Christians.  It is the authentic and proper way for all Christians to commune with God.  But in order to do this we must pray.  We must understand that prayer is threefold.  It's object must be worthy of God.  It must include faith which includes implicit trust in God.  And it demands our attention.  We must be attentive to what we are doing.  If one of these things is lost, the prayer is not fulfilled.  Christ taught us to pray.  He furthered this by giving us the Mass.  And it is through understanding the end as well as the means that we can truly understand what is proper in the liturgy.]
Following the catechesis the Holy Father addressed greetings to, among others, faithful from Latin America, including a group of Chilean parliamentarians whom he reminded of Catholic politicians' duty "generously to seek the common good of all citizens, in a manner coherent with the convictions held by the children of the Church".

As I was looking at this article, I realized that the act of worshipping is not just an outward action, but it is an internalization of what God the Father created us for.  We were created to worship Him Who Is.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, man lost that freedom to worship Him.  As God expelled them from the Garden, He promised Adam and Eve that He would restore that freedom.  We find that freedom in the Sacrifice on Calvary.  Through the re-presentation of Christ's death in an unbloody way, we gain that freedom that was lost.  If our end on Earth is to worship God the Father, then it is fulfilled in the manner in which He gave us, the Holy Mass.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More on Participatio Actuosa and the Misconceptions

Recently, a priest friend and I were having a discussion regarding active participation prior to the Council and after.  He made the following assertions:

This is what I remember about Pre-Vatican II actual participation in the Mass during that brief and early period of my life:
1. Participation in Mass was highly individualized and personal. The only communal aspect was simply being gathered together. However, all eyes had to be fixed on the sanctuary, there was very little or no interaction amongst those present.
2. The Holy Rosary seem to be the prayer of choice during the liturgy by the vast majority of people. I was taught by my parents to hold the Rosary during Mass and even pray it during Mass.
3. However, I was given a St. Joseph Missal and asked to bring it to Mass to follow the Mass and many people brought both their rosaries and missals to Mass--missalettes or worship aids were not provided by the parish, except a hymnal of some kind.
4. The laity remained quiet, and only the altar servers spoke during the Mass or the choir if there was one--my experience during pre-Vatican II times was mostly the Low Mass at the early Sunday morning time slot.
He then stated, "So no one can tell me that "actual participation" as Vatican II and post Vatican II developments did not hinge on building upon what was good prior to Vatican II but also addressing what wasn't good, meaning passivity and letting others do for them what they should be doing themselves, like singing, speaking and actively engaged in the liturgy both internally and externally and the external being a symbol of internal participation and a fruit of it."

I can.  What you call passivity is not right.  I will use myself as an example (feel free to criticize me, it won't hurt my feelings).  I NEVER respond at Holy Mass and I can guarantee you that I am not passive in my worship.  I internally process and adore Our Lord called down from heaven at each and every Mass.  I do this primarily by the means you list first.

1.  I don't care what the person next to me is doing.  To be honest, I don't want to know.  It doesn't mean a hill of beans to me whether or not Billy is praying a rosary, meditating on the life of Christ or following his missal.  That is how he worships and that is his right.

2.  How one unites himself to the Sacred Mystery is not for me to call.  If one most perfectly unites himself to the SM by meditating on the Life of Christ, good.  If one unites himself to the SM through the rosary, good.  If one unites himself to the SM by following the Missal, good.  But I am not a huge fan of hand missals, because I see them as a crutch, outside the translation of the readings (personal opinion, others will disagree).  But regardless of that, it doesn't matter to me how Billy unites his mind, soul and heart to the SM, just that he does so.

3.  Missalettes and worship aids are unneeded expense and socialist.  The fact that I can pray from a Lasance Missal and you can pray from a St. Joseph Missal and Marc can pray from a St. Andrew's Missal and we are all able to express our personal taste in that manner.  And that is ok.  I shouldn't be forced to follow what OCP or Leaflet or whomever chooses for me.

Rosaries are good, even at Holy Mass.

4.  And yet there is imposed silence now.  It's as if silence is a bad thing, unless it is forced on us after the homily and after Holy Communion's song....Silence at Holy Mass is desirable.  It allows for the faithful to focus on the Sacred Mystery.  It allows for the internal aspect of worship to be expressed.  It is a major fault of Vatican Council II and after that all of a sudden we have to be "busy."

He then went on to say:

After Vatican II and when the liturgy changes were being first implemented, the thrust of the priests who were telling us what was desired by Vatican II was active participation and two things would facilitate this, the turning of the priest to face the congregation during the Mass to make the Mass more "intelligible" more vernacular to make the Mass more easily understandable and the actual participation of the laity in the responses and chants of the Mass that up until that time were reserved to the altar boys and/or choir.
By the 1980's and at the behest the liturgist Father Eugene Walsh, active participation was being defined in the following way:
1. hospitality2. creating silence for private prayer, listening to the Scriptures and meditating on them and listening actively to the prayers that are prayed and not using worship aids and following these in a book, but looking and listening with eyes, ears, body and soul.3. Actively participating and energetically in all spoken and sung parts4. Departing Mass recommitted to bringing Christ to our homes, play and work.
The clericalism part of this was priests in the late 60's and 70's trying to enforce this post Vatican II vision and by facing the people during the entire Mass, acting like supervisors of their participation and sometime belittling people who were slow or unwilling to change from their pre-Vatican II practices. This clericalism might well explain why so many who did not like being supervised during Mass may well have dropped out of Mass altogether, especially if they were felt to be second class citizens by maintaining their pre-Vatican II worship practices. 

No, I'm not looking to be hospitable during Mass.  I don't need to create silence, it is already there, as long as the faithful and the celebrant stop needlessly talking.  My participatio activa (actively participating by singing, responding, etc) is ALWAYS secondary to my participatio actuosa (internal and actual participation) which is how I properly worship.  I'll leave the talking to the servers.  I think that the lack of commitment was minimal compared to today's "participants."  At least people who went to Mass before the Council left the church.  The people after the Council just stopped going.

Is it any wonder, Father that the churches that are filling up are the TLM churches, by percentage?  So, those are the faithful who are committed.  Not those who self-idenitfy as Catholic and do nothing about it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mons. James Lavin, RIP

The world lost a very good priest.  I lost a very good teacher and a very good friend.  RIP Mons. Lavin.

Monsignor James Lavin, 1918-2012
Monsignor James Lavin, who devoted his life to serving the University of St. Thomas community, died today (Sept. 17) at the Little Sisters of the Poor residence near downtown St. Paul. He was 93.
Lavin had suffered from congestive heart failure and died of natural causes at the end of an early-morning Mass celebrated in his room by Father Joseph Johnson, pastor of Holy Family parish in St. Louis Park. "We got to the end of Mass," Johnson recalled. "I said, 'Go in peace,' and he breathed his last."
Arrangements are pending, but Lavin's funeral is expected to be held later this week in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on campus or in the Cathedral of St. Paul.
"Monsignor Lavin was one of the most beloved figures in the history of St. Thomas," said Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas. "His paramount concern was always purely and simply for the welfare of students. They always knew that they could come to him with problems large and small, and he provided common-sense counsel in a soft-spoken but firm voice. He exemplified total dedication. We shall not soon forget him."
Lavin arrived at St. Thomas in 1936 as an undergraduate student and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English in 1940. He returned to campus in 1946 after his ordination and taught religion until 1967, when he became an academic counselor. He went to work for the St. Thomas Alumni Association in 1988 as a special assistant to the president and a university ambassador who attended countless events, funerals, weddings and baptisms.
Known widely as "Scooter" by his college friends, he lived in Ireland Hall as an undergraduate from 1936 to 1940 and as a faculty member and administrator from 1946 to 2002. He began to offer peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, also known as "Lavin Burgers," in 1967 to residence hall students in the evenings. Scooter’s restaurant in the Anderson Student Center carries his name, as does an award for volunteer service to the Alumni Association.

Nothing Much Different

Recently, the following question was asked:
"What would the bishops of Vatican II have done differently if they had a crystal ball and could see how the Second Vatican Council was implemented 50 years later with all the developments that have happened in the last 50 years?"
I repsonded this way:

I don't think that they would have done much of anything differently.  What Vatican Council II "promulgated" and what happened are two separate events, with regard to the liturgy.  There is no connection between Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Novus Ordo.

With regard to so-called "ecumenism;" I think that they got exactly what they wanted, which is a change in theology.  The view of catechesis, ecumenism, and evangelization has been so compromised that in order to teach it properly today, one has to spend too much time unpacking the true understanding of Protestantism, Orthodoxy, and Paganism in the world.

As for Religious Liberty, I think that they got exactly what they wanted with that too.  I think they wanted to change the tambor of how Catholics viewed Protestants and how we "tolerate" them.  They wanted us to not tolerate them any longer, but to accept them as valid Churches.  I think that most bishops of Vatican Council II would be upset with the term "ecclesial communion."

With regard to the Magisterium of Vatican Council II, I think that most of the bishops would be mortified to think that their work is being critiqued in such an objective way.  By and large the whole point of Vatican Council II was to introduce Subjectivism into the Church as a valid basis for theology and philosophy.

So, save for the Mass itself, I don't think they would have done much differently.  I think that by and large they have accomplished what they set out to do.  I think that most of the bishops would be disappointed that we have Benedict XVI.  I think they would see him more as a Pius XI type and not a John XXIII type.

In essence, the answer is that they would not have allowed the Mass to be as radically disassembled as it was, but other than that...nothing.