Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bishop LeVoir of New Ulm Speaks Out...

Bishop John LeVoir, another protege of Mons. Schuler has made a statement regarding the HHS and Obama's debacle.  Please read here.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people – the Catholic population – and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.
In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannot – we will not – comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
And therefore, I ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I recommend visiting to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.
In Christ,
The Most Reverend John M. LeVoir
Bishop of New Ulm

Bishop LeVoir is one of the great teachers of Moral Theology.  Thanks be to God!

Siri's Ghost is Alive

Thanks to Cyril Koob for pointing me to this!!

Siri's Man appointed to Venice

Cardinal Siri's Ghost is alive and well.  Keep haunting the Vatican, your Eminence.

Episcopal Strength; I Pray the US Bishops Follow...

This letter is abuzz on the internet a the moment.  I think that it bears posting here, since we are concerned with the traditional application of the liturgical action.  Perhaps the pastors and bishops who may come across this blog will come to understand that this is what we, the faithful, are clamoring for.  We want this!  The young membership in the Church is your future, dear pastors and dear bishops!  Please follow the lead of H.E. Oliveri, from Italy, he writes (and I translate from the Italian):

Dear Priests and Deacons,

is with great bitterness of mind that I have found that many of you have not taken up and made ​​a right attitude of mind and heart to the possibility given to the faithful on the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum," Pope Benedict XVI, the celebration of Holy Mass "in an extraordinary way," according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, promulgated in 1962.

In "Three Days of the Clergy" in September 2007, I stated loud and clear what the value and the true meaning of the Motu Proprio, how we should interpret and how we should welcome with open mind that the content of the document and magisterial with a ready will to believe obedience. The position of the bishop did not fail his calm authority, supported by its full agreement with a solemn act of the Supreme Pontiff. The position of the bishop was founded by the reasonableness of his theological argument about the nature of the Divine Liturgy, the immutability of the substance in its supernatural content, and was also based on surveys of practical, concrete, common sense of the Church.

Negative reactions to the Motu Proprio and the theological and practical guidance of the Bishop are almost always dictated by emotional and superficial theological reasoning, ie a vision of "theological" rather poor and shortsighted, that part that is below the true nature of things that are matters of faith and sacramental work of the Church, which is nourished by the constant Tradition of the Church, which looks rather marginal aspects or at least incomplete issues. Not without reason, I, quoted in Three Days, prefaced with the operational guidelines and principles to guide action a doctrinal exposition on "Unchanging Nature of the Liturgy."

I heard that in some areas, by different priests and pastors, there was also a manifestation of almost mockery of the faithful who have requested to exercise the power, indeed the law, for the celebration of Mass in extraordinary form, and well as an expression of contempt, almost of hostility towards fellow priests willing to understand and adapt to the requirements of the faithful. He also opposed a denial, not very serene, calm and reasoned (but could not be well thought out) to post notice of the celebration of Mass in "extraordinary form" given in the church, at certain times.

I ask to be put away all non-compliant attitude to ecclesiastical communion, discipline of the Church and obedience to the conviction due to major acts of teaching and government.

I am convinced that my appeal will be welcomed in a spirit of filial respect and obedience.

Again with reference to the intervention of the Bishop in 'Three Days of the Clergy "in 2007, I have yet to return on the proper application of the indications given by the Bishop about the good will that must have everything about the space of the church which is rightly called" sanctuary . "indications" About reorganization of the priests and the position of the altar "were then listed in the brochure" The Divine Liturgy ", pages 23-26.

Those indications, more than four years away, were not applied everywhere and by everyone. They were and are reasonable indications, based on good principles and general criteria, liturgical and ecclesial. I gave them time for the priests and pastors especially the Parish Pastoral Councils for thinking with and for Economic Affairs, and also held appropriate liturgical catechesis to the faithful. Those who had not considered appropriate signs or difficult to enforce, he could easily deal with the Bishop, with an open mind to a better understanding of the reasons that prompted the Bishop to give, so they were put into practice so as homogeneous as possible in all the churches of the diocese. They are certainly not contrary to the rules and also the "spirit" of the liturgical reform that was implemented in the post-Second Vatican Council and, from II. If anyone had reason to doubt he could express with sincerity and openness to clear reasoning, and obedience to the will directed, after the mind had more light.

I estimate that now is spent ample time to wait and tolerance, and then it's time for the execution by all indications, in order to arrive at the next Easter with all the priests rearranged, or at least the study of reorganization very start, where the reorganization requires some difficulties in application.

It goes without saying that the non-application of the guidelines, in the time that I mentioned, it could not be considered as an explicit disobedience. But I trust and hope that this does not happen.

Distresses me not a little to having had to write this letter, making sure that I will feel like not writing, if it has been well received and positive effect.

The paper carries with it all my desire that it is beneficial to the strengthening and revitalization of our ecclesial communion and our common desire to fulfill our ministry with renewed fidelity to Christ and his Church.

Finally I ask a lot prayer for me and for my apostolic ministry, and I bless you with all my heart.

Albenga, 1 January 2012, Solemnity of the Mother of God

Bishop Mario Oliveri, bishop

We are not asking for the world.  We really aren't.  Bishop Oliveri understands this.  He has understood this from the beginning.  What we recognize is that the TLM has a place in the Church, AN EQUAL PLACE.  The Mass is the Mass, yet the TLM is treated with vitriol at worst and apathy at best, even by those who wish to see it promoted...why?  Fear!  Priests are afraid of their bishops.  And bishops are afraid of their peers.  This is the proper end of aggiornamento.  Fear!  Fear of pulling the trigger.  Fear of being different.  Fear of being too Catholic.  Fear of being authentic, in a traditional way.  This is the proper end of aggiornamento.

If our priests and bishops would have the courage that Bishop Oliveri has, it would be easy to move the TLM out of the basement.  It would be easy to move the TLM to a weekly Mass.  It would be easy to move the TLM to a decent time, not 1 pm when the small children of young parents are fighting nap time, in order to get to Holy Mass.

Take this letter to your pastors and show it to them.  Implore them to have courage and support them.  Talk to them and talk to them and talk to them about moving the TLM to a slot in the regular timeframe, and in a place where it can have the same dignity as the Novus Ordo.

This is my fervent prayer for any priest and bishop reading....PLEASE give the TLM it's proper place.  If the extraordinary form of the Mass has an equal place, then give it an equal place.  Don't make it so inaccessible that it fades away, or so inaccessible that it cannot survive.  The church is fertile ground.  It will grow, but not if one throws it on rocky ground (basements) or into thistles (odd times).  It needs to be where every Mass is celebrated, on the main altar of the Church and in a time which works for those who assist at that Mass.

This is the intention of Bishop Oliveri.  This is the intention of the adherents...but the TLM cannot survive, unless our pastors and bishops are willing to make the "uncomfortable" step and plant the TLM in fertile ground.

Join my prayer.  God love you.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm a Cradle Catholic....So, This is What It's Like...

Those of you who read my blog know that I've be chronicling the movement of St. Aidan's in Des Moines, into Holy Mother Church.  This is the latest from the rector.  I have been a Catholic my whole life, THANK GOD! But, there is something very fulfilling for me to hear what a new convert let's me know that through all the heartache, through all the trials, through all the abandonment, and through all of the sluffing of friends and family, because I'm too Catholic; it let's me know that it's all worth it in the end, as long as I listen to and understand what is being said.  The words of (Fr.) Jonathin Chori Seraiah;

It is taking some time for it to sink in, and I am not sure that it fully has yet. I am Catholic. I can say that in heart, mind, and body. I was received into the Catholic Church yesterday and I have to say it is a bit surreal. Not in a bad way at all--it is thoroughly wonderful--but it is difficult to describe the exact feeling. I have not been wearing my clericals for a few days now and that feels quite strange. My wife stared at me before we went to Mass yesterday and said "I'm so used to you in your clericals that you just look strange in an ordinary dress shirt".

When God tells us to give up something, we never know precisely what it is going to be like until we actually do it. It was not easy, but I fully welcomed the transition. No, it was not like Frodo's temptation in Mount Doom at the "end of all things", but it did feel something like saying goodbye to an old friend (and hoping to meet up with him again in the future). Growth and change are good things when they mean growth in holiness and change for righteousness' sake. We should never sacrifice unity for the sake of truth, nor truth for the sake of unity, but remaining in Anglicanism, I realized that we were sacrificing unity and truth. Truth without unity is only a partial truth, for it leaves out the truth that we are to be in union with the Church that Jesus founded on the rock of the Apostle Peter. We are called to communion, how can we refuse?

Standing there as we made our confession in the Cathedral, my wife reached over and grabbed my arm. Not only a gentle touch, but a clutch that says "I am filled with awe". There have been only two other times that I felt her reach out in that same expression of "solempne". The first was when we were saying our wedding vows twenty two years ago; and the second was a few years later when she grabbed my hand and told me that she was pregnant with our first child. Those major points in our lives were culminations of all that had happened before; they were natural developments and growths that will never be forgotten. Our marriage was the creation of a new family, and the conception of our first child was the fruit of that new family. Yesterday was the fruit of all our theological struggles.

I asked her the night before our reception into the Church if she wanted to back out. She looked at me with a look that said she knew I was joking, but that she wanted to make things clear. "After all that we've been through and seen, how could I not do this? We've taken this journey together and we finish it together; you and me forever." I knew what her answer would be, but I needed to hear it. As we grow and mature, we also find that some of the changes are harder than others. The one's that slide by easily are easily forgotten, but those that require personal sacrifice (as this one has done) are the ones that stay with us in more ways than the obvious.

This growth has led to my wife and I losing some friends, and yet it has also gotten us many new ones. The thing, however, that remains with me as I ponder all that has taken place is the fact that the very process itself (the waiting, the holding of the tongue, the forced trusting in God, etc.) is what shapes us. More than it being merely an annoying consequence, the years that we have waited to get this far (and we are not even at the end of the road yet) have been in themselves an aspect of our personal growth. It has deepened our love for the Lord and for one another. Some may want to complain, but I am thankful that it is taking time, for it allows us to grow and develop. A rushed project will usually result in errors. I am thankful for where I am today, and especially for the fact that God has been patient with me.

God surely is good.  And to be good is more than the human person can imagine.  God Bless the Seraiah's.

Thank you!!!

For everyone who has subscribed to my blog, a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU!!!!

For everyone who reads my blog, but has not subscribed, a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU!!!

Without each and every one of you, there would be very little in the way of motivation!

May God keep each one of you close!!!


Andy Milam

Latest on SSPX...

From Rorate Caeli:

Will the agreement be made or not? The dialogue between the Holy See and the Fraternity of Saint Pius X [FSSPX / SSPX], founded by Mons, Marcel Lefebvre, has entered a decisive phase. The outcome of this dialogue is, above all, of great concern to Pope Benedict XVI, who has personally encouraged and nurtured it; it is also of great concern to all the priests, religious and lay faithful who are with the Fraternity; it is of great concern to all of that vast part of the Catholic world which is not of the SSPX, but which is set on the part of Tradition. For different reasons, progressive Catholicism and the secular world are observing (the situation) with great attention and some nervousness.

In other words: the match that is being played is important and difficult, but an agreement is not impossible. A lot of the resistance might fall away though, if one considers that when discussing the doctrinal questions, it is done through diplomatic means, also because the Fraternity’s canonical resolution is in question. We are moving here on mixed ground where it is fundamental to distinguish the levels, a process, which objectively, is not always so easy.

This is the shaky ground on which the case proceeds. If you can understand the disorientation of Rome with regard to the hesitations of the FSSPX, you also have to understand the perplexity of the Fraternity when it complains that Rome asks of them something that has not been asked of any other in order for them to adorn that tricky ecclesial category called “full communion”.

At this point, neither of the two sides can expect the other to pay an unpayable price: on the one hand, Rome cannot ask the Fraternity of St. Pius X to disown its identity; on the other, the Lefebvrians cannot expect Rome to lose face, with an unconditional surrender and a fairytale return to form in the present Catholic world, which objectively, is an accumulation of many contrasting things.

The success of the talks requires an awareness that knows how to hold faith and realism together. On the one hand, supernatural vision: the belief that the Church is in Rome ( it is in any case) despite the fact that it is going through one of the gravest crises in Her history; on the other hand, the narrow path of realism, that aims to give the Fraternity of St. Pius X the possibility of “having the experience of Tradition” according to a formula that was coined by Mons. Marcel Lefebvre himself.

Even if it seems out of proportion, most of the responsibility lies with the heirs of Lefebvre. In the history of the Church the figure of the dwarf who carries the giant on his shoulders is a recurrent one. It is a task that, besides moral and doctrinal rigour, requires humility and charity, and the understanding that Rome is helped by staying with Rome. But as time passes, there is a greater risk of thinking that only one alternative between two (ways) exists; the siren that invites no resolution because the conditions in the Church are far too serious; and the siren that invites a resolution without discussion because in the end ‘all is well.’ In the deepest sense, neither way sits well with an institution like the Fraternity of St. Pius X, which was born as a result of the unquestionable crisis that hit the Church after the Second Vatican Council.

Besides the two alternatives mentioned above, a third alternative exists and in this case, it goes like this: the question must be resolved as soon as possible precisely because the situation is grave, for the good of the whole Church.

In this endeavor, the Fraternity of St. Pius X, cannot be left alone with such a great responsibility. Pope Benedict XVI is the guarantor of this. It cannot be denied that this Pope has characterized his pontificate by giving back honour to the Gregorian Mass, by revoking the excommunications of the Fraternity’s bishops and by initiating the doctrinal discussions on the hot issues. These are all of the conditions requested by Mons. Lefebvre’s heirs. This fact cannot be ignored by the FSSPX nor the negotiators that represent Rome. The latter are very much aware that there is more Catholicism in the Lefebvrian community (even though they are canonically irregular) than in many regulated communities within the Catholic world. The time has come to bring this paradox to an end, through an act of good will accompanied by common sense. From both sides.

Authored by Alessandro Gnocchi & Mario Palmaro.  I think that this is a very good explanation of the situation as of now.  I would really like to see a complete reconciliation and I think that will come eventually, but I also don't think that either side wants to let the other just acquiesce.  Look at it this way...the SSPX needs the Church, but the leadership of the Church needs the SSPX.  With the attitude the Holy Father has taken, his whole movement to tradition hinges on the SSPX.  What do I mean?  It was the refusal of the SSPX to simply give in that created the whole return to tradition.  Do your homework.  Look at why the FSSP exists.  Look at why the ICRSS exists.  The movement begins there.  For as stubborn as the SSPX appear to be, the reality is that the Holy Father puts a lot of credence in their position.

Please pray for the reconciliation to fully take place.  We need the SSPX.  We may not think that we do, but there is no bigger harbinger of Sacred Tradition.  From a Catholic point of view, they give us a glimpse into the Church before the smoke of Satan entered.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Catholic In America

In light of the recent comments being made about the HHS and the Obama administration....I have the following to say to other Catholics....

It is really, really good to hear that these holy bishops are standing up for what is important morally. We often times forget that there is more to being Catholic than just fulfilling our obligations. Being Catholic is a way of life and that way of life is under direct attack.

We are not American Catholics, but rather we are Catholics in America. A subtle distinction? Perhaps, but one which is necessary. Far too often we forget that the smallest adjustment in language can change the way an entire group of people look at themselves. This adjustment needs to be made, IMHO! I am an American by birth, but I am a Catholic from all eternity.

Archbishop (Cardinal Designate) Dolan, Bishop Nickless, Bishop Sample and Archbishop Schnurr, as well as every bishop in the United States needs to hear from every faithful Catholic that this is not acceptable and they need to rise to the occasion. Catholicism is not a piece of clothing like the shirts we put on and take off, it is our means to salvation. We cannot lose sight of that. All the Church teaches is our path to salvation. We stray from one teaching and our path is compromised. This applies to proper Sacramental/liturgical application and it also applies to protecting the innocent (the unborn and infirmed; the aged and those who cannot otherwise take care of themselves).

Pray for our bishops. Pray they have the strength to stand up against this tyranny. Injustice is injustice, even if it comes from within. It cannot be tolerated and it must be snuffed out, by proper means. May God have mercy on the pro-abort’s soul. They will need it.

 I know that in speaking about freedom of conscience, this would be political suicide, but I think that His Eminence, Cardinal Designate Dolan needs to promote the idea that the freedom of which he speaks is found in adherence to the Catholic Church.

As a Catholic, I don’t exercise my freedom of conscience because of my citizenship in the USA, but rather I exercise my freedom of conscience because I adhere to the Truth of the Church, then and only then apply it to my secular life. As I’ve said before, I am a Catholic in America, not an American Catholic. It isn’t my citizenship which frees my conscience, but rather it is my assenting of my will to the Truth of the Church which does so. What do I mean? I would say the same thing if I were South African, or if I were Japanese, or if I were British, or if I were Italian.

I think that if the bishops catechize the Church (and various ecclesial communions) we would be much better served. But I also realize that it would be political suicide to do so. As it is, it certainly seems that our freedom of conscience is couched in terms of our citizenship first, then our membership in the Church and I think it should be vice versa.

Bishop Nickless on HHS, Sebelius, and Obama...

I will reprint the entirety of this message.  It is important and it is from one of the bishops in Iowa.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Last Sunday, we heard again how the prophet Jonah, after repenting of his disobedience to God, went to the great city of Nineveh. Jonah preached God’s impending judgment for their evil ways. “Forty more days and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” Despite their evils, the Ninevites repented, and changed their behavior. God in His mercy did not destroy them, because of their repentance.
The culture of death is no different in its evils than wicked Nineveh. Nor are we Catholics less sinful than others, merely because we bear the name and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. In justice, we all deserve God’s wrath, because of our sins and disobedience. “Forty more days and Sioux City shall be destroyed.”
But the truth, the Good News that the Church preaches as the prophet of Christ today, is that God wants to give us mercy, not destruction. As we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel, He does not abandon us in our sins, but comes to save us. He calls us to follow Him, not the ways of the world. He calls us to be His disciples, to learn from His mercy, not from the culture of death. And in the Church, He has given us for all time the means to do so: Baptism and Confession, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which make us and keep us part of His own Body; and the prayers, devotions and good works that we do every day for love of Him.
It’s not enough, then, just to call ourselves Catholics. It’s not enough just to have His name, or to make the sign of the Cross when we pray, or even to go to Mass regularly. Repentance and conversion require more than this; they require that we actually change, like the Ninevites. Christ wants to make a very real difference in our lives; we must allow Him. If we want to be saved from the damnation justly due to our sins, we need to have the very life of Christ within us. Jesus tells us, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Jonah was the seed of Nineveh’s salvation. Because of his preaching, they changed, and learned to love God and to keep His commandments. Now, the Church is the seed of our country’s salvation. Because she faithfully preaches and authentically lives the Good News, not only we as her reborn children, but all our neighbors also, can change and learn to love God and to keep His commandments.
But the culture of death seems strong. The devil hates Christ and the Church, and works constantly for the ruin of souls. With the dreadful inevitability of Satan’s fall, we see our prideful culture rebelling against God. What the Church preaches, our enemy tries to corrupt and turn against us. He has seduced too many of us away from Scripture with relativism, from loyalty with egoism, from marriage with contraception, from love of neighbor with abortion. The mark of his handiwork – ruinous love of self – is everywhere about us.
Thirty-nine years ago, on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court overturned centuries of jurisprudence, science, and common sense with its horrible Roe vs. Wade ruling. By finding it legal to kill unborn children in their mother’s womb, these seven men and women opened a Pandora’s box of moral evil and social ills. We see clearly the consequences: 50 million dead children, their mothers often traumatized into mental illness, suicide, and inability to form relationships, and their fathers coarsened into despair and anger. Abortion denies the humanity of the most vulnerable, and therefore justifies so many other ways of treating other people as objects, such as pornography, embryonic stem cell research, or euthanasia. And because it happened by government imposition, it made the government far more powerful in usurping God’s place as the giver of fundamental moral law, for example in the claim that government can redefine God’s meaning for marriage.
And just last Friday, the Obama administration, through Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, opened a novel and unconscionable attack on the Church’s liberty, and your right to follow your conscience in obedience to God, not man. Starting this August, virtually every health insurance policy in America will be required to include the euphemistically named “preventive services” – contraception (including abortifacients), sterilization, and chemical abortions (“Ella” and “Plan B”) – at no cost to the policy holder. This means that everyone who pays for a health insurance policy, both employees and employers, including the Church and other religious institutions, will be forced to pay for these grave moral evils. There is no conscience protection in this new policy. The religious exemption formulated by this administration is so narrow that, as Cardinal DiNardo commented, even Jesus Himself would not qualify for it.
We object to this mandate, not only because it is violence against the Church’s religious liberty, not only because it clearly violates the Constitution and undermines the rule of law, but also because contraception, sterilization, and abortion are very grave moral evils that are bad for women, and bad for families. If we condoned this, we would be guilty of treating women as mere sexual objects. Our devotion to Mary, the holy Mother of God, both shows us why we cannot do this, and strengthens us to resist.
The devil wants to silence the Church’s voice, just as he tried to silence Jonah. We must cling firmly to hope. Our hope is in the Good News of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. God uses the weak to humble the proud. Very well then, we must be weak, just as Jesus was weak. We must embrace obedience to the Father, and not glorify our own fallen desires. We must carry the Cross and follow Christ as true disciples. We must be brave and zealous and very public in our witness to Him, and to our Faith. We must refuse to make the false compromises with the devil that dim the light of Christ in us, that dampen the ardor of the Holy Spirit in us. This week’s March for Life, and our annual 40 Days for Life, are excellent examples of how we can do this. Our Catholic schools are another kind of example of the same zeal and sacrifice in bearing the Cross. As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week next week, let us remember that we evangelize our children so that they too can become priests and prophets for the salvation of the world.
“God became man, so that man could become God.” We become God by being truly part of Christ’s glorified and risen Body, in the Church. We die with Him, so that we can also rise with Him (Rom 6:4-5). But we cannot belong both to God, and to the world. “No one can serve two masters” (Mt 6:24). The devil, whose marks are pride and death, is not our master. We do not belong to the culture of death, but to God. Let every part of our lives and ministry for Him, then, be marked by His hope, faith, joy, and charity. Trust in prayer; do not be afraid.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City

Thank you Excellency!

Bishop Alexander Sample on The Deacon

Bishop Sample Podcast 6/23/2011

Please take the time to listen.  The diaconate has come under great scrutiny as of late and I think that it is important to understand that the role of the deacon is vital to the Church.  I think that Bishop Sample's view is probably the most balanced view of the diaconate in the Church today.  Please take time to listen to his podcast, then take time to read the pastoral letter.  I think that it is clear.  I think that it is balanced.  I think that it is proper.

Thanks be to God for Bishop Sample.  He is a great example of what a bishop is and how a bishop comports himself.  May God grant him a long reign!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fr. Robert Pasley

In 1997, I met Fr. Robert Pasley.  He was a priest out of New Jersey and he was a great conversationalist.  I've had the distinct honor of MCing his Mass when he came to St. Agnes to celebrate Mozart's Requiem for All Souls' Day, 1997.  Little did I know at that time that he would become one of the leading voices for the liturgical life in the USA.  I think that it is safe to say that he has drawn on Monsignor Richard Schuler as well as others to define his priesthood.  Insofar as he has modeled himself after the Monsignor, I can say this...his understanding of the liturgical life in the USA is one of metered conservatism.  It is one of extreme orthodoxy.  It is one which draws upon the 2000 year history of Holy Mother Church.  I recently read an article by Fr. Pasely that I would like to share:

The CMAA Colloquium and the Priest
By Father Robert C. Pasley, KCHS
Chaplain of the CMAA
Rector of Mater Ecclesiae, Berlin, NJ

The annual CMMA Colloquium has been an overwhelmingly wonderful experience for over 20 years. It has been open to anyone interested in the Catholic Church’s official understanding of Sacred Music and its proper use in the Sacred Liturgy. Most of the attendees have been lay people with a small smattering of priests each year. In the last 5 years, a class on the correct tones for the celebrant has been added for priests and seminarians. The problem, however, is that most of what was taught was not printed in the liturgical books. Well, with the new Missal, this has now changed. The priest’s chants are printed from cover to cover.

I would like to extend a special invitation to priests and seminarians to consider attending the Sacred Music Colloquium XXII at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, Utah. June 25-July 1, 2012. If the Liturgy is to be restored, if chant scholas are to be formed, if the people are to learn to sing the Mass and not just sing at Mass, if we are going to be faithful to our tradition, then of all people, bishops and priests, must once again learn to sing the Roman Rite according to the tones of the Roman Rite.

Just recently I was watching the Mass on EWTN. The Franciscan priests of EWTN have done a superb job learning the chants of the new Missal. One day, a guest priest said the Mass, a good priest and a great preacher, but when he opened his mouth to sing, a Syro, Byzantine, Anglican, modified Roman, with a modern interpretive touch chant came out of his mouth. It was jarring and distracting and it was wrong.

It was not the priest chant of the Roman Rite. It was either what he was taught in the seminary, or what he heard another priest sing and liked, or his own invention, but it was not the proper chant of the Roman Rite. I am not trying to tear this priest down but just make a statement of fact, and he is not alone. So many priests mean well. They want to sing the Mass, but in the last 45 years they were taught nothing or next to nothing. There has been a breakage with our Catholic, liturgical, priestly musical traditions and it must be corrected. Now is the time for every priest and seminarian to buckle down, force themselves to unlearn bad habits, and learn the right way to sing the Rite.

The CMAA wants to help seminarians, priests and Bishops. We have many resources on We have Sacred Music Magazine and we have the magnificent Colloquium. Many priests might be intimidated by the Colloquium. “But Father, Father, I would like to come but I am not a musician. I can’t read music, and I’ll feel self-conscious around all those professional musicians.” First, you don’t have to be a musician but someone who wants to learn. If the priest doesn’t sing, the Sacred Liturgy can never be celebrated to its fullest extent. You are absolutely necessary, not only sacramentally but musically.

Second, to sing the Mass you will have to have some basic knowledge of chant notation. This year, all first time clergy and seminarians, unless you are a musician priest, will have to spend each morning in the basic chant scholas. This is necessary for a good foundation and it is a good way to see how greatly people will sacrifice to give glory to God. Third, there is no place for self - consciousness. Priests are the servants of God, His people and the Sacred Liturgy. They must do everything possible to learn how to pray and sing the Mass according to the mind of the Church.

The class on the chants of the Missal will be offered each afternoon. Not only will the new Missal be covered but the basic principles of music for the priest found in the Liber Usualis will be discussed. Orations, readings, prayers, the Eucharistic Prayers and chants for the Ancient Form of the Mass will be covered.

The highlight of the day is Holy Mass in the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Forms. The chants, the polyphony, the organ, and the variation of great styles of the sacred treasury of Catholic Music will be at the service of the Liturgy. These liturgies are meant to be paradigms of liturgical practice, musical excellence and moments of the most intense and uplifting prayer. You will be immersed in all things Catholic.

Finally, there is the social part of the Colloquium. You will meet priests, seminarians and people from all over the country and the world, who are filled with zeal for Sacred Music. You will network with priests, seminarians and people who want to do what is right. You will hear inspiring stories. You will be uplifted by the talks. You will be exhausted from the liturgical Opus Dei. You will laugh, be inspired and come away a better priest or seminarian and person.

Most dioceses offer their priests a stipend for further education. Check into it. Use that money for the Colloquium. You will not be sorry. I long to see many more priests and seminarians at the Colloquium this June. God Bless You!

I've been to the Colloquium, twice.  I am seriously considering going again.  I think that Fr. Pasley is continuing a view which was introduced to him at one of those early Colloquiums.  Monsignor Schuler spoke about it:

Evidence continually is making it clear that the decrees of the Vatican Council have not been successfully implemented in the United States, and this failure has, in fact, led to many unfortunate results harmful to religion and Catholic life.


This means that bishops must demand graduate centers for true liturgical studies and seminaries where the future clergy are will be correctly instructed about the intentions of the Church given by the council and the documents that followed.


The regulation of the liturgy on the local level is the immediate task of the bishop. Especially in the seminary and the cathedral, but also in his parishes he must see to it that the requirements of the council and the documents following the council be put into careful observance. He may be assisted by properly trained musicians and liturgists. But therein lies the cause of the present debacle. Too many occupying posts in diocesan and seminary musical and liturgical establishments are poorly trained, victims of propaganda peddled by centers of liturgical studies and some periodicals, ignorant of the regulations called for by the Church for its liturgy. Until that situation is rectified, our liturgy will continue to disintegrate and with the liturgy, the practice of the faith.

Fr. Pasley has the right idea.  It must fall on all of the faithful to learn what liturgical music is.  But it must fall on the ministerial priesthood to  PROPERLY lead.  That is their role in liturigcal music and the liturgical life.  It has been great following Fr. Pasley through the years and it has been my honor to know that someone I call "friend" is taking up the mantle which was left by Monsignor Schuler.

To my friend, Fr. Pasley,  THANKS!  The mission can't die!

In Defense of the Diaconate

One cannot be ordained priest without being ordained deacon.  The key is ordination.  If there are three levels to the priesthood, then it necessarily follows that if one level is closed, then all levels are closed.  If a woman lacks the character to be ordained a priest and consecrated/ordained a bishop, then she lacks the character to be ordained a deacon.


Because for the Sacrament to be valid, there needs to be three criteria filled:

a) Form --  The proper words of ordination must be uttered.
b) Matter --  The proper matter must exist.  For ordination the only matter which exists is that of the male person (vir).  At no place does the ordination speak of woman (mulier).
c) Intent --  The intent of the ordaining bishop must be in line with that of Holy Mother Church, not his own authority.  Since the Church has no power to ordain women, the bishop's authority doesn't extend to the woman.

Also, it is out of sync with the mind of the Church because if a woman cannot be advanced to lector or acolyte, then she necessarily cannot be ordained to the diaconate.  Also, at no point does Holy Mother Church speak of the ability to install a woman to the order of lector or acolyte.  If that is not the case, and if ordination to the priesthood is not possible, then it necessarily follows (again) that ordination to the diaconate is impossible.

It is impossible, because the Church has no authority to do so.  This does not fall on one person, it does not fall on one group of people.  This authority rests with the institution which Christ founded and based upon His ministry and life.  Christ did not call women to be apostles.  In turn the apostles did not call women to be ordained clergy.  There is no substantial evidence which can support this, except to note that those women who were "ordained" into a heretical sect were not allowed to continue in Orders once they were reconciled with Holy Mother Church.  That is clearly defined in the Council of Nicaea. 

Finally, I offer the following for your consideration....A) The Apostles restricted the diaconate to men only:  The office of deacon is created in Acts 6:1-6.  And the Apostles give clear instructions in Acts 6:3 — “brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.”  The seven chosen are all men: Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas (Acts 6:5).  That’s not a coincidence.B) Scripture is clear that the diaconate is male-only: In addition to the above, St. Paul lays out the requirements for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, and says things like “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity…” ... (This is something I posted earlier in response to Ms. Zagano, it is a direct quote of myself).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Update on the Zagano Issue of Women's Ordination

I have been banned at USCatholic.  Shocking, I know....don't worry though, I'm not too upset about it, but I have taken the conversation and defense of the woman's role to National Catholic Reporter, because Ms. Zagano has decided to do the same.  At any rate, I re-posted my earlier comments at NCR and have garnered this response from poster David Goulet (I am certain not related to Robert, but I digress)...he says,

"Women have so much more to offer the Church than the ministerial priesthood."
Do tell? The Vatican could reform the institutional structure of the Church to allow women (and the laity in general) positions of power and authority that do not require ordination. It hasn't done this. That's because it either lacks the imagination and/or those in power and authority do not wish to share that power and authority with anyone but their own tribe.
Maybe if the Curia threw us a bone we wouldn't feel the need to go after their plate.

To which I responded to him, thusly;

@ David,

You do realize that men don't have a right to ministry either, correct?  So, when I say that women have more to offer than ministerial actions, I mean just that.  Women have a role to play within the Church and that is to worship.  Men have a role to play within the Church as well and that is to worship.  A very few, VERY FEW have been called to ministry, but that is not a right.  That is not something any one person, regardless of gender is entitled to.

Also, within the life of the Church, women do have a role as religious.  They may enter into consecrated life, just like men.  There is an inherent equality of men and women which is very obviously overlooked, because there are some, such as Ms. Zagano who choose to focus on the minute, rather than on the larger picture of religious life.  There are any number of religious orders to which a woman can be legitimately called and the Church encourages this to the greatest extent possible.  This encouragement is just as fervent as that for any man.  But this is overlooked and this is demeaned, because it is the traditional model and that form of ministry is not seen to be of any importance.  I disagree.  It is through the worship of the religious women who pray constantly which has caused the greatest growth in the Church, not in the ministerial priesthood.  Therese of Lisieux, Theresa of Avila, Monica, Catherine of Siena, Catherine of Genoa and I can go on and on and on....these women did more for the growth of the Church than the majority of ministerial priests who ever lived.  Yet women are marginalized.

As I said earlier, this has little to do with authentic Catholicism and more to do with the secular notion of suffrage.  This principle while having a place in the secular world, doesn't have a place in the Church.  Suffrage is a man made ideal, the priesthood is not.

Finally, this is not about power.  This is about service.  Yet, in your post I notice that you don't talk about service, but rather about power and authority.  Perhaps a better understanding of the priesthood and the absolute lack of power is needed.

You're right, David, the Curia does need to throw us a bone.  They could start with a proper implementation of Vatican Council II, which is in their privy...not the ordination of women, which is not. 

I have not been approved by a moderator, but I can only imagine that it will be.  I'll keep everyone updated.  Pray that those who are supportive of women's ordination come to an understanding that this is not a legitimate or authentic representation of women in the Church.

Music and the Liturgy

From our friends over at New Liturgical Movement, a great article comes from Jeffrey Tucker:

The phone rang last week, and it was a man upset about the music in his parish. I listened patiently but I already knew what he was going to say. I’ve heard it all a thousand times before. The music seems unCatholic. It has nothing to do with the season or the day. The performers are self indulgent. It’s too loud and pop sounding. And is the hymn (fill in the blank) really permitted?

Then the question came that I’ve learned to dread: what book can I give to the pastor and the musician to help them better discern what is appropriate for the Mass?


I know it sounds crazy but there has not been a single work that really mapped out -- historically, theologically, musically, and practically -- the musical framework of the Roman Rite. There are great books on theology and history. There are several books of journalism and witty commentary on the state of Catholic music. There are much older books explaining rubrics.

But, if you think about it, there is no a single book that integrates it all, rises above it all to provide new insight, and gives a viable plan going forward that is rooted in the ritual structure, the traditions, and the legislation of the Catholic faith.

Now, at last, I can say that such a book exists. It is called The Musical Shape of the Liturgy. It is published by the Church Music Association of America. It will appear in print next month. Right now you can buy it on Kindle.

The author is William Mahrt, and, I can tell you, that he is the only person in the world who could have written a book like this. In addition to being the president of the Church Music Association of America, he is a professor of music at Stanford University. He is old enough to remember the change in the Mass from old to new. He was directing a parish choir the entire time, and this was in addition to his academic duties. He was researching old manuscripts and writing scholarly papers presented at academic forums.

This combination of duties led him to develop something unique: a mind that lives and thinks in the two and usually separate worlds of academia and parish life. His research is heavily informed by practical concerns. And his practical concerns are heavily informed by his historical, theological, and musical interests. It all flows together in this mind that has the patience to do over a lifetime what no one else has done.

The Musical Shape of the Liturgy is the first general treatise on music in the Roman Rite, one that can inform audiences of all types, whether parish musicians, academics, or Church officials. In some ways, this book is the culmination of a lifetime of experience. No, it wasn’t written all at once. Many chapters have appeared in other places. But when you look at the sequence of chapters, one is amazed at how they form a beautiful whole.

How can I summarize the thesis? Mahrt’s book demonstrates that the Roman Rite is not only a ritual text of words. It is a complete liturgical experience that embeds within it a precise body of music that is absolutely integral to the rite itself. This integration is not only stylistic (though style does matter). The music is structured to provide a higher-level elucidation of the themes of the Mass ritual itself. In other words, the music at Mass is not arbitrary. It is wedded to the rite as completely as the prayers, rubrics, and the liturgical calendar itself. Everything in the traditional music books has a liturgical purpose. When they are neglected or ignored, the rite is truncated and the experience reduced in potential to reveal and inspire.

These claims will amount to a total revelation to most all Catholic musicians working today, most of whom are under the impression that it is merely a matter of personal judgement whether this or that is played or sung. As Mahrt points out again and again, genuine Catholic music for Mass is bound by an ideal embodied in the chant tradition. This tradition is far more rich, varied, and artistically sophisticated that is normally supposed. More importantly, it is the music that is proper to the Roman Rite.

The opening section of the book, then, provides a four-part course in the musical structure of the liturgy. Here we discover the origin, history, and liturgical purpose of the ordinary chants. We discover the propers of the Mass and their meaning, and why they cannot be replaced by something with a completely different text and music without impoverishing the liturgy. We find out that the Roman Rite is really a sung ritual with parts for the celebrant, the schola, and the people. Everything has a place, purpose, rationale. It’s all part of a prayer. Even the tones for the readings are structured to signal themes and fit into an overall aesthetic and spiritual tableau.

The second section explores the particulars with detailed commentary on chants and their meaning. He covers entrance chants, offertory, communions, Psalms, alleluias, and sequences. Mahrt helps the reader understand their intricate structure and theological meanings, and provides a commentary that only a musicologist on his level can provide. The reader begins to appreciate the extent to which chant is far more profound than is usually supposed.

Further commentaries reflect on the polyphonic tradition that became part of the ritual experience of Mass in the middle ages. He explains how this music is an elaboration on the chant tradition and why it is included by the Church as part of the treasury. He writes on all the great composers of this period from Josquin to William Byrd. He moves on to cover the issue and question of the Viennese classical Masses, explaining why they continue to be appropriate for liturgy despite their apparent stylistic departure from the pure chant tradition. He covers the use of organ in Mass as well.

The third section turns to the specifics of putting all of this into practice in the contemporary world. He deals with English chant, offers specific commentaries on the case for “praise music,” investigates the meaning of inculturation and musical taste, and tackles pressing problems such as what to do when a parish has no budget and no singers. This section is the one that is of the highest practical value for pastors and musicians today, so much so that it would be tempting to read it apart from the rest. I think this would be a mistake. What is missing most from today’s Catholic world is the awareness of the the musical shape of the liturgy - that essential structure of what is supposed to take place in the Roman ritual itself.

When this manuscript was sent around prior to publication, there were widespread sighs of relief from everyone from parish musicians to Church officials. Finally. Finally! Finally we have the book that has been missing in all the literature on the liturgy. This is the book that fills that gigantic hole, the one that provides that insight into the liturgy that only a musician can provide and also elucidates the purpose and structure of the music itself. In addition, it provides a path forward.

This is the book that millions wish they could have read and thousands wish they could have written. It is finally here. I can see that this book will become a classic and will continue to be so long after this generation leaves this earth. It will resonate for decades and even centuries into the future.

Congratuations to William Mahrt. Thank you for this gift to the Church. These words will be repeated by many people long into the future.
 I think that this is a great view.  Take the time to head over to NLM and check their site out!  Thanks...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jonathin Chiori Seraiah...

This is a post from his blog The Maccabean:

Last night I did something that I will never do again. I said Mass from the American Missal as an Anglican priest. Yesterday was my final day as a clergyman in the Anglican Church. I am now resigning from my Anglican orders and will be received into the Catholic Church (along with my wife) this Sunday, January 22nd. I ask for your prayers over the next few months.

For those of you who do not know it already, this is the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Pope Benedict had this to say about it in his general audience yesterday:
. . . the initiative of the Week was introduced in 1908 by Father Paul Wattson, founder of an Anglican religious community that later became part of the Catholic Church. The initiative received the blessing of Pope St. Pius X and was later promoted by Pope Benedict XV, who encouraged the celebration throughout the Catholic Church.
I pray that, by the grace of God, I will be able to fulfill the necessary requirements and be approved for ordination as a Catholic priest. There are no guarantees in this, and I am trusting that whatever happens, the Lord will take care of me and my family. It is my heart's desire to be able to serve as a priest and minister to God's people, but I will trust those I am under to make the right choice. If I am not approved for ordination, and I find that I need to serve in the Catholic Church as a layman, then I will thank God Who has already given me more than I could ever deserve. He knows what is good and right and He alone deserves our trust.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.
It is time that we embrace and support St. Aidan's.  They will be coming into the Church soon.  I am not sure of dates yet, but it is in motion!!!!  Praise God!  Please take the time to support (Fr.) Seraiah.  Once St. Aidan's comes into the Church, please visit the parish for Holy Mass and please, please, please welcome them home.  This is the perfect example of the traditional notion of catechesis.  The aim of catechesis is to bring the Protestant back into the Church, as well as to instruct the faithful.  The Church is winning!!!!  WINNING!!!!

Charles Cardinal Journet...Predestination

I came across this, while discussing predestination with a friend of mine.  There is a great work by Charles Cardinal Journet written in the late 1950s.  Here are a couple of excerpts,  I'll post the link at the bottom.

God is more present to things than they are to themselves. 'God who art in my heaven more my heaven than heaven,' said Pere Chardon; he is in me more me than myself. And if for one instant he were to forget the world, it would fall immediately into nothingness.
God unites himself in a new way to the souls who open themselves to his grace and his love. This is a presence still more mysterious, more hidden, the presence of indwelling....In this second way, God cannot dwell in material things; but where there is a spirit, he is able to come down and hold converse with that spirit. And this presence of indwelling is conditioned by the descent, in that spirit, of grace in its fullest meaning. You see the importance of grace: it transforms the soul and fits it for the immediate indwelling of the divine Persons.
God's love is creative, it pours out being and goodness into things, whereas man's love presupposes the goodness, the beauty of things. It is because a thing is, because it is good or beautiful that it draws me to love it. When it is fully good, it ravishes me; when it is only partly good, it invites me: I can love a human creature in spite of all it lacks, because there is some good in it, because I think of it as willed by God, redeemed by the blood of Christ....It is otherwise with God's love, which is prior to the being and goodness of things. That is easy to grasp: before the creation, there was nothing; God could not look on the world and be in love with its beauty. God first willed the world—willing and loving are the same with him—and the world budded forth and grew, as the outcome of his act of love. The world exists because God loved it; it continues because God continues to love it. There is, therefore, an inversion to make when we go from man's love to God's: man's love follows upon the goodness of things, God's is creative of the goodness of things.
 For us to be able to know and love God in the most hidden depths of his mystery and as he is in himself, the principle of knowing and loving, which is in God in an infinite degree, has to be, as it were, carried over into us; that is what grace does. It is—and this is a mystery—at one and the same time finite and infinite. It is finite because it is in my soul which is finite. If I am able to grow in grace, if it can be more intense in another soul than in mine, that is a proof that it is finite. But if it makes us enter into the divine intimacy, it must be at the same time infinite.
Each Holy Communion should intensify in us this grace and this indwelling. We should come away from it, our souls more open to, and more deeply penetrated by, the Trinity.
Such are the gifts God makes to the least of souls that rises from a state of mortal sin. A man who has made only a poor confession, with a love still weak, and who has received absolution, already possesses grace and is dwelt in by God. Both the grace and the indwelling desire to grow stronger in him.

I'll let you read the rest....

The Meaning of Grace

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A New Feather in My Cap!

So apparently I'm a big fish now.  LOL!!!!

I commented a couple of days ago about Phylllis Zagano and her nuttiness about ordaining women deacons....well....I've become (albeit unnamed) the subject of a blog post at US Catholic!

Apparently, I'm one of her "online critics."

I love it!

She states in the original blog and then restates in the above link:

The many and often fascinating posts here evidence the deep interest in the topic--the resotration of the Tradition of women deacons in the Roman Catholic Church, mirioring the ongoing Tradition in its close cousins in Orthodoxy. There seems a persistent error of fact, however: "The Church has definitively taught that ordination is not open to women." appears in one of the many posts. As it happens, the Church teaches that ordination to priesthood is not open to women--there are arguments as to the level of this teaching--but has left the matter of restoring women to the Order of Deacon up to the discernment of the whole Church. Because of this fact, John Cardinal O'Connor asked me many years ago to do the research that eventually was published as "Holy Saturday", and my subsequent research (mainly in refereed academic journals) supports my conclusions and recommendations. It is good for the Church to respectfully discuss the topic.

My response to her and the apparent predication of the new blog linked above:

Ms. Zagano,

You are predicating your idea on the notion that the topic of women's ordination is still open, based upon a request given to you by Card. O'Connor, before Ordinatio Sacertodalis.  It simply is not.  The Church, in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis closed that discussion.  I know that you don't like to hear that, but it is a fact in the life of the Church.  If the priesthood is closed to women, then the deaconate is as well.

I also think that you operate under the assumption that the permanent and transitional diaconate are somehow different.  They are not.  They are the exact same thing.  If a woman lacks the character to be a transitional deacon, then she lacks the character to be a permanent deacon and vice versa.  The assumption may be that the permanent deacon will not go on to seek higher Orders, but that is not legally or sacramentally the case.  He may.

If you have some insight into sacramental differences between the permanent and transitional diaconate, I would be interested to know them.

If the diaconate were opened to women, then it would necessarily follow that the priesthood would be open as well.  And that is where you're really going with this isn't it, Ms. Zagano?  Really, you're trying to do an end around with regard to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

As it is, if the priesthood is closed to women, not on man's authority, but on the Church's, then the diaconate is closed as well, because the diaconate is necessary in the ordination of a priest.

Bottom line, regardless of your conversations with Cardinal O'Connor, the fact remains that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis ended that conversation.  And what's more, according to your own words, didn't Cardinal O'Connor ask you to leave this "aside?"

BTW....I've been banned from commenting on the site.  Interesting!  So, I'll comment over here....I'm linked and I have no fear of a nutjob liberal like Phyllis Zagano!

Benedict XVI Addresses Bishops in America...

I won't comment on this, I will just let it speak for itself:
Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received a group of prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Regions 4 and 6), at the end of their "ad limina" visit. Extracts from his English-language remarks to them are given below.

  "At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation's founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature's God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

  "For her part, the Church in the United States is called, in season and out of season, to proclaim a Gospel which not only proposes unchanging moral truths but proposes them precisely as the key to human happiness and social prospering. ... With her long tradition of respect for the right relationship between faith and reason, the Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth. ... The Church's defence of a moral reasoning based on the natural law is grounded on her conviction that this law is not a threat to our freedom, but rather a 'language' which enables us to understand ourselves and the truth of our being, and so to shape a more just and humane world".

  "The Church's witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.

  "In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realise the grave threats to the Church's public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

  "Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-a-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would de-legitimise the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society. ... In this regard, I would mention with appreciation your efforts to maintain contacts with Catholics involved in political life and to help them understand their personal responsibility to offer public witness to their faith, especially with regard to the great moral issues of our time: respect for God's gift of life, the protection of human dignity and the promotion of authentic human rights".

  "No one who looks at these issues realistically can ignore the genuine difficulties which the Church encounters at the present moment. Yet in faith we can take heart from the growing awareness of the need to preserve a civil order clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as from the promise offered by a new generation of Catholics whose experience and convictions will have a decisive role in renewing the Church's presence and witness in American society. The hope which these 'signs of the times' give us is itself a reason to renew our efforts to mobilise the intellectual and moral resources of the entire Catholic community in the service of the evangelisation of American culture and the building of the civilisation of love"
source:  VATICAN CITY, 19 JAN 2012 (VIS)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Talk About Missing the Target!

Over at US Catholic (pardon for not linking to it, I just can't) Phyillis Zagano has written a piece on the Ordination of women to the diaconate.  Now, we all know that this is not possible for the Church to do, based upon Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.  Holy Orders are closed to women, it isn't something we can change, nor is it something we should dwell on.  The ministerial priesthood is only one part of the Church, and it should not impede a woman from taking an active role in the life of the Church because one aspect of hundreds is closed to her.  I find it to be very short sighted if a woman does dwell on this, because I see the inherent importance of a woman's role in the life of the Church.  That role, in my honest opinion, is so much more important than that of a ministerial priest, but there are those who disagree.  They don't disagree because of religious reasons, but rather they disagree based upon a secular notion of women's suffrage.  The Church is not an outreach of secular politicking, yet there are those women (and men) who feel that women are somehow being shortchanged.  How narrow that view is.

In my eyes, the role of a woman in the Church is so vitally important that it cannot properly be expressed.  I will try though.  Without the woman, the Church would simply cease to exist.  It is the woman and man who bring the Church to fruition.  However, it is through the mother that the person sees the Church as a place of solace and a place of comfort.  Wasn't it Mary, at Cana, who said, "Do whatever He asks of you."  It is that attitude which should be the model for women in the Church.  The woman should be the one who says to the priests and the other faithful, "Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye." (John 2:5)

Even though Mary had no interest in being an Apostle, there is no doubt that the respect given to her was greater than any Apostle and any disciple.  For while Mary followed her Son, it was her Son who listened to her.  That is the legacy of women in the Church.  Not being a minister or a priest.

Understanding the importance of women, actually frees a woman to do what she is called to do.  To limit her to the ministerial action is to put her in a place where she does not fulfill her most important role.  Mary's fiat is the model by which women should live in the Church, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38)

Yet women (and men) like Ms. Zagano miss the point.  They see it as an affront.  They see it as injustice.  They see it in a very narrow and irregular light.  If they would see the role of the woman in the light of Christ, as opposed to the light of man, then perhaps they would see the importance of the woman with regard to Holy Mother Church.

Ms. Zagano says in the comboxes of her own article:

...the resotration of the Tradition of women deacons in the Roman Catholic Church, mirioring the ongoing Tradition in its close cousins in Orthodoxy. There seems a persistent error of fact, however: "The Church has definitively taught that ordination is not open to women." appears in one of the many posts. As it happens, the Church teaches that ordination to priesthood is not open to women--there are arguments as to the level of this teaching--but has left the matter of restoring women to the Order of Deacon up to the discernment of the whole Church. Because of this fact, John Cardinal O'Connor asked me many years ago to do the research that eventually was published as "Holy Saturday", and my subsequent research (mainly in refereed academic journals) supports my conclusions and recommendations. It is good for the Church to respectfully discuss the topic.

I responded to her thusly:

 You are predicating your idea on the notion that the topic of women's ordination is still open, based upon a request given to you by Card. O'Connor, before Ordinatio Sacertodalis.  It simply is not.  The Church, in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis closed that discussion.  I know that you don't like to hear that, but it is a fact in the life of the Church.  If the priesthood is closed to women, then the deaconate is as well.

I also think that you operate under the assumption that the permanent and transitional diaconate are somehow different.  They are not.  They are the exact same thing.  If a woman lacks the character to be a transitional deacon, then she lacks the character to be a permanent deacon and vice versa.  The assumption may be that the permanent deacon will not go on to seek higher Orders, but that is not legally or sacramentally the case.  He may.

If you have some insight into sacramental differences between the permanent and transitional diaconate, I would be interested to know them.

If the diaconate were opened to women, then it would necessarily follow that the priesthood would be open as well.  And that is where you're really going with this isn't it, Ms. Zagano?  Really, you're trying to do an end around with regard to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

As it is, if the priesthood is closed to women, not on man's authority, but on the Church's, then the diaconate is closed as well, because the diaconate is necessary in the ordination of a priest.

Bottom line, regardless of your conversations with Cardinal O'Connor, the fact remains that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis ended that conversation.  And what's more, according to your own words, didn't Cardinal O'Connor ask you to leave this "aside?"

 But this really isn't about anything other than trying to open the door to women's ordination to the priesthood.  And that is selling women short!  Please don't fall into that trap.  Women have so much more to offer the Church than the ministerial priesthood.

Monday, January 16, 2012

How is the Altar Set Up in Your Parish?

I came across a great article from Homelitic and Pastoral Review.  It is a great commentary on how one should approach the altar.  It also is a great examination on why the altar should be set up in the so-called "Benedictine Arrangement."  Personally, I feel that this is a temporary measure until the altars are again turned to properly convey the theological reality of the Mass, but this is a first step.

Here is an excerpt:

The cross is the focal point of salvation and of liturgical action. It should, of course, harmonize with the altar in style and proportion, but it should certainly not be low standing. The cross is supposed to disturb! The priest is not supposed to “overlook” it! However, the objection is sometimes made that a barrier is created by the cross between clergy and people, something on the line of an iconostasis (a wall of icons in Eastern rite churches, separating the nave from the sanctuary). But this is a specious argument as even the enormous altar cross in the Basilica of St. Peter does not really block the view. There are very few churches, after all, where the people face the altar straight on; more commonly, they face the altar from a lateral perspective, looking past the cross to the priest. Moreover, the higher the cross is placed, the less likely it will obstruct the people’s view. It thus becomes for all a spiritual “attention-getter” (if it is aesthetically high-standing). Finally, it is further objected that an altar cross creates a doubling of crucifixes, in the case that a cross already hangs above or behind the altar. However, the cross on the altar is for the priest, facing him with its corpus, while the faithful look at their cross above the altar.


The sacrificial action of the Eucharist takes place on the altar, within a continuous current of prayer: from the prayer over the gifts, through the Eucharistic Prayer, to the Our Father. In this respect, the Eucharistic action is markedly different from the liturgy of the Word that precedes it.  The ambo is, strictly speaking, not a place of prayer; the Opening Prayer is better placed at the celebrant’s chair. In the usus antiquior, the priest is always standing at the altar, and almost always praying! The silent prayers are neither private prayers nor mere time-fillers (i.e., horror vacui), but rather to make the altar a place of unceasing prayer.


This was precisely what the early Church wished to bring to expression in the prayer posture it adopted.  In prayer, when we speak with God, we embrace our filial identity.  But since in the physical space of the church, one’s view to the heavenly throne of God was blocked by walls, the effort was made to clear a virtual path of vision to heaven. The apse was often painted, or studded, with mosaics, with a section of the painting portraying the starry sky. This broke open the church’s ceiling to heaven.
The priests and the faithful could look up to the apse when they prayed, seeing  into heaven, so to speak. The gaze of the faithful was not focused on the altar and the celebrant, but rather overhead. The church building itself always had to be “oriented” to the east at this graphically depicted heavenly art.  The actual geographical orientation toward the east was of secondary importance.


You can read the rest there, but I can tell you...this is a very important article in understanding the nature of proper liturgical actions...kudos to the author, Rev. Stefan Heid.  Now it is time to implore our priests to follow through.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fear And Loathing in the Sanctuary

So, I was in a facebook conversation with a very good friend of mine, who is a priest.  During the course of the conversation, the following statement was made:

 Ok all you liturgy geeks, observe this extract:

"The document did not require all parishes to automatically establish a Tridentine Mass schedule, but it said that where "a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably," the pastor should "willingly accede" to their request to make the Mass available. 

Cardinal Castrillon told the press conference, however, that a stable group could mean just three or four people who were not necessarily drawn from the same parish."

I responded this way:

 In had best start learning your Latin, if you don't already know it, dear clergy. Because I can guarantee you I can start barnstorming and get 3 people per town that say go.

To which another priest made this statement:

Well, as one who offered an extra - a fourth - Mass (in the extraordinary form) every Sunday for four years for a stable group of 40 faithful, I can tell you it is impractical in all but a handful of places. The clergy are already spread thin to meet the needs of the majority of the faithful. If the EF Mass has so little demand, it is a Mass of convenience. This is not at all what the Holy Father has in mind. Give me an associate and I would happily resume offering this weekly Mass!
To which I responded:
Please forgive my impertinence, I know that I'm not a priest, but for those few of us who do adhere to the TLM (or EF), it is not impractical. We crave that Mass in the same way Suite Judy Blue Eyes craves the Novus Ordo (or OF). You might think that it is a Mass of convience, I can tell you from the point of view of those who assist at that Mass, it is imperative.

I will pray that you change your view. The Church needs the TLM (or EF)...

For where there are two or more gathered in My Name...isn't that what Christ said? That was prolly a little impractical as well.

To which yet, another priest responded:

O.K. To all the people who think/want this to happen at EVERY parish, I propose this. PROVIDE MEN FROM AMONG YOUR NUMBERS TO ENTER THE SEMINARY SO AS TO BE ABLE TO CELEBRATE THESE MASSES. We're short of priests as it is - and to provide a Mass in Latin for perhaps 5 people at a parish when there is probably another parish within 5-10 miles that HAS a regular Latin/Tridentine Mass is very poor stewardship of already stretched very thin human resources - PRIESTS. So provide the priests for it. Other wise, it would behoove you, in this priest's humble opinion, to quit bellyaching. There aren't enough of us - and the good people of the Church aren't willing to "sacrifice/offer/give up" their sons to the Church anymore like they used to. Many parishes that 10 years ago had 3 priests now have only 1. Other parishes have NO "full-time" priest, but a priest who "hops around" to multiple parishes. This is our reality. And like the old saying goes, "You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip." So start producing more turnips!
To which I said in response to both:

Ok, so if I may, from a layman's point of view (albeit, I have a pretty close perspective)...

1. With regard to the EF being celebrated as a 4th Mass. Replace one of the OF Masses. What's the worst that will happen, some of your parishoners will get mad? They get mad at you for less. You're an administrator. Administrate. If the EF is to be of equal stature, there should be no problem replacing an OF with an EF. It is a different expression of the same rite. There is nothing substantially different. Or could it be that your parishoners are a bit intolerant of the EF and things traditional. This is a reality in the Church, shouldn't the pastors and bishops of the Church catechize properly. Excluding the EF is certainly not proper catechesis on liturgical life of the Church, at least according to the pope. So, pastors...if you have one person ask, you should accommodate. But, I get's an inconvenience and that is what is the hardest about being a priest, inconvenience. It's much easier to be a priest, when everyone loves you.

2. With regard to vocations; let's not go there, ok? How many good, solid, Catholic men do you know who were either squeezed out or flat out booted out of seminary for being traditional? I know of more than a few. Ahem...right, Ramil? Top that off, with the fact that Catholic priests are supposed to know enough Latin to administer the Sacraments. That is a flawed argument. So, Fr. Holy, if you can assure me that the men who want to celebrate the EF will make it all the way through without being demonized and discriminated against, then, we can have that conversation. Until then...I'll pray. Just like I do every day, that the Church reforms the seminary structure to accomodate BOTH liberals and conservatives, both progressives and traddys. As it is, your sentiment is nice, but it is unrealistic.

Priests just don't get it sometimes.  They feel so over worked and they feel so overburdened and now the Church is asking for more.  The bottom line is this.  The TLM is to have the same importance as the Novus Ordo.  There should be absolutely no difference in the administration of the Mass.  If there are just a few, they should be given the same quarter.  The sad fact is, it isn't.  It isn't for a number of reasons, but the major ones are these:

1.  Fear of the unknown.  With most priests, they don't want to be perceived as being a conservative, because that might get them excluded from gatherings and their "friends" won't be their "friends" any more.  What the heck?  Are priests 10 years old?  The parish should be administered based upon the needs of the parish, not on the perception of other priests in the area.  A little courage is needed.

2.  Fear of over working.  Really?  Replace a Novus Ordo Mass then.  The TLM is a different expression of the same theological reality.  IT SHOULD NOT MATTER!!!!!!  IT SHOULD NOT MATTER!!!!!!  It should not matter if the Mass is OF or EF, but because the EF is from the pre-Vatican Council II era (I wonder how many look at it as a different Church altogether, priest and layman alike) it cannot be authentic.  I would argue the opposite.  I would argue that the TLM is authentic because it developed through the life of the Church, whereas the Novus Ordo did not.  It was fabricated under the direction of one priest, who steered the whole of it and slapped it together in 3 years or so....Bugnini was a fool.

3.  Fear of the bishop.  That has been removed.  The pastor has the right, without the approval of the bishop to say the Mass.  So...if the liberals can demonize a conservative, why can't a conservative demonize a liberal.  Except catechesis really isn't demonizing, it is teaching...the resistance comes from the true intolerance of the Church, the liberal.

There are many, many people in the Church who will support their priests...priests just need to have the courage to step outside the box.  The true acceptable innovation in the Church is to embrace her 2000 year history and theology and meld it with and sometimes replace it with regard to the Council to end all Councils.  Implore your priests to say the TLM.  It is your patrimony.  The Novus Ordo has no more right to have pride of place than the TLM.  Priests are afraid today.  They are afraid of 3 things:

1. their parishoners --  checkbooks say a lot don't they.  And that is what the Church is about...right.
2. their fellow priests  -- popularity contests rarely work out well.
3. their bishops -- bishops should be supporting their priests, so what is there to fear?

I implore all priests everywhere to stand up, catechize and the support will be there for the TLM.  Don't fear the Church, embrace it.  The Church will support you.  And so will the traddys.