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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fr. Robert Altier...A Tribute

This is a repost from my friend John Paul Sonnen.  He blogged this over at his place Orbis Catholicus Secundus.  He is speaking about a priest which we both know.  I lived in the same rectory with him for over 2 years.  There is NO ONE I know of who strives for holiness more than this good and holy priest.  Take the time to read what JP has to say about Fr. Robert Altier:

Beacon of Light in America: Fr. Robert Altier

I have known him for twenty years.

Easily the very finest priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

And one of the very finest priests the Church in the New World has ever produced. 

A mystic.  Holiest guy I have ever come to know.  He has the diligence of prayer.  He is very good at being a priest.

In high school we saw him make his daily hour each morning in the crypt chapel of the Church of St. Agnes.  Such a witness it was to all of us high school students next door. 

He was my spiritual director and confessor.  I was his altar server.  Best confessor I ever had.  My penance was always the same: "Say one Hail Mary, VERY well." 

He taught me mental prayer.  No one else had ever explained to me how mental prayer works.

Best preacher I have ever heard anywhere on the planet earth.  And nicest guy.  He even came to my home a couple of times when I was in college to hang out with myself and some fellow seminarians.  Another time he came to bless the home. Always there for people. 

He has always been available to give counsel and this is very important for a priest withcura animarum.  And the best counsel he gave.  This is where he saved souls.  And many of the souls who came to him were more advanced in the spiritual life.  And he knew how to take this into consideration - where people were at.  

He helped me choose the right college.  He even taught a course I took in high school.  He was the most talented teacher on the staff at St. Agnes High School.  Everyone's favorite.  His daily Mass was at 6 am.  It was a comfort to know he was near.   

Can I sum him up in one word?  Yes, holy.  A second word?  Yes, wise.  I never once saw him angry, rude or mean.  He has made a lot of converts.  In fact, he has more converts under his belt than any parish priest I know. Just ask around. 

I made my first good confession as an adult to him in the mountains of Colorado in 1993 and I will forever be grateful to him.  Afterwards he shook my hand with a big smile.  He had just given one of the best sermons on Confession I have ever heard before or since and he gave me wise spiritual counsel that day.

Sadly, though, the good guys always suffer.  And they are quiet about it.  Just read the lives of the saints.  Misunderstandings come their way.  They are maligned, they are victims of calumny, they are falsely accused, blamed and lied about.  Priest AND victim.

But in this suffering lies their sanctification.  Suffering is necessary for sanctification.  Rev. and dear Father, thank you for all that you have given me.  In fact, I wish you a life of great suffering, because in that crucible you will find your sanctification.  Keep doing the Lord's work.  Your spiritual sons and daughters are many.

May God be praised for his saints!  

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Waiting Game

For those of us who are more traditional minded, we have entered into a sort of "waiting game."  We have become enamored with the idea that the SSPX are going to reconcile.  Some of us, including myself think that this can do nothing but promote healing in the Church with regard to the traddy faction and the progressive faction.  Some feel exactly the opposite.  I cannot speak for the progressives, for I am not one of them, but I can give my view as a traddy, because it is what I believe.

From time immemorial, the Church has been conservative.  Her role is not only to help Catholics live in the time in which they are a part, but also to maintain the connection between the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church.  A very big part of the Church is to conserve the Truth of Jesus Christ.  That, above all else, is what drives the SSPX and all traddies.  As traddies, we are not looking to stifle the Church, hardly, but we are looking to conserve that which transmits the truth.  We can be certain that the traditional ways of Catholicism do this, we cannot be certain that the new methods do, especially when those methods are at odds with traditional Catholic thought.

This is the conundrum which we face.  I think that it is the conundrum every age faces.  I don't think that the Church has endured such a polarizing shift as it did in the 1960s.  It's how we respond to those conundrums which define us as Catholics.

We hear all the time that the SSPX is "acting away from the Church."  We hear that the SSPX is "dangerous to the faith."  We hear that the SSPX is "disobedient."  We hear that the SSPX has "set up an alternate Magisterium."  Where has the SSPX said any of this?  Where has the SSPX done most of this?  Let me answer some of these questions, from my point of view. 

1.  How exactly is the SSPX "dangerous to the faith?"  Have they taught heresy?  No.  Have they taught apsotasy?  No.  They don't teach anything which is contrary to Catholic thought.  If they do, I would like to hear it. 

2.  How has the SSPX been "disobedient?"  Because they question the Magisterium of Vatican Council II?  How can Vatican Council II have a Magisterium if there was no dogma and no doctrine defined?  There was nothing definitively declared.  There were no Magisterial acts enjoined.  It was pastoral.  To question this isn't being disobedient, it is being intellectually honest.  Then there is the whole Econe consecration thing.  Well....last I checked that was forgiven and the excommunications were lifted.  So, to speak of that as being an act of disobedience is intellectually dishonest, because if the Church (and we are the Church) is socially aware enough to forgive, then the Church should simply forgive and not put conditions on the forgiveness.

3.  The SSPX has not set up an "alternate magisterium."  Where has the leadership of the SSPX ever said that they were anything other than Catholic?  Where has the leadership of the SSPX ever said that they were above the Pope?  They have not.  They have constantly and consistently said, since their early days that they were concerned with the authentic tradition of the Church being transmitted.

The problem lies, as I see it, with the progressives.  They have tried and tried, over and over, in many different ways to set up alternative magisteria.  Think about it...there are many different manifestations of this, the two most recent being the priests in Austria and the LCWR in America.  The progressives have altered the liturgical action through disobedience, to the point where it is unrecognizable to the wishes of the Council Fathers.  The progressives have attempted to alter the understanding of ecumenism, to the point where ecuemenism doesn't refer to the Orthodox any longer, but rather it refers to any Christian denomination.  And the progressives have expanded and perverted the notion of religious liberty to the point where secular humanism and the melding of the Protestant mind is no longer a heresy, but simply another way of looking at Christianity on an equal and respected level.

Is it disobedient to protect tradition?  I don't know.  I do know one thing though, none of this, NONE of this is infallible.  The SSPX, by all accounts will reconcile in May.  They will be "legitimate."  They will be as legitimate as Sr. Joan Chittister, they will be as legitimate as Fr. Richard McBrien, they will be as legitimate as any progressive member of the Church.  The big question is this...

What will the progressives do when they are reconciled?

The reason the progressives don't like the SSPX or any other traddy group is simple.  We stand in the way of their re-imagining of the Church.  There is no place in the Church for secular humanism and the heresy of Protestantism.  There is a place however, for those who support tradition.  Why?  Because what the traddy promotes is consistent with 2000 years of the Church, can the progressives say that, authentically?

Caveat:  This isn't about the SSPX.  This is about tradition.  This is about understanding the breakdown of what is going on in the Church today.  The SSPX is the most visible, so they are the obvious example, but this can be attributed to most any traddy. 

The truth is that the progressives wanted change.  The problem is that the Church doesn't change, she grows.  The sooner the progressives understand this, the better.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Since I'm in the fields and don't have a lot of time to post these days, I will only give a quick update, but I will address this as soon as everything is final...

 Rorate Caeli: Update on SSPX

Please refer back to my earlier post from December...I think that it bears some re-reading.  Not everything is 100% spot on, but it isn't so far off the mark.  Logic does have a place in the Church and it does work with faith.

I will post again soon on this topic.  Thank you for being patient with my spring schedule.  Working in agriculture does have advantages and a few drawbacks.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Guest Post: Tim Ferguson, JCL

From my friend, Tim Ferguson, a canon lawyer from the Archdiocese of Detroit.  What a wonderful perspective!!!!

Without further adieu, Tim:
I will not win friends with this post (not that that’s ever stopped me before).

I was reading an article earlier today which highlighted a call by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, titular of Rusuca, for an “open dialogue on everything having to do with human sexuality” in the Church. +Rusucensis makes a plea that the Church needs to revisit the traditional teaching on every aspect of human sexuality in order to “move forward.” He questions the natural law argument and the supposition that genital expressions of sexuality are only licit within the bonds of heterosexual marriage. He – and his supporters – claim the moral high ground as they call for “openness” and “dialogue,” and castigate the mean old men of the Vatican who resist “dialogue” as reactionary and close-minded

I call “merde de taureau” (pardon my French)!

Dialogue is only truly possible when both parties are willing to admit that the other might be right. I will not enter into dialogue about objective, demonstrable reality. My couch is black. If someone wants to dialogue with me about what color my couch is, it will be fruitless for me to enter into such dialogue. At the end of the day, my couch will remain black.

Similarly, I will not enter into dialogue about subjective opinions – e.g. : whether I should like shoes. I do not like them, I am perfectly comfortable not liking them, and I sincerely doubt that anyone could say anything to me that would make me like them. I would consider entering into a dialogue about the relative value of shoes. You may have something to say. We may end up disagreeing, but we may be enriched by our mutual exchange of ideas. I am open to the possibility that shoes (despite my dislike of them) have some value. Your opinions may influence mine and mine, yours.

Thirdly, if someone were to suggest “dialogue” about something of which I am convinced but he is not, it might make for an interesting conversation, but it would hardly be considered dialogue. If someone wanted to argue that my car’s tires are square, he would be wrong. I could not admit his position to be equal to mine. Therefore, no dialogue is possible.

Robinson and his ilk, despite their claims, do not want to enter into “dialogue.” Their writings and their speeches make it clear that they in no way are open to the possibility that they might be wrong. They do not want to dialogue, they want to push their beliefs and want an open forum in which to do so. They are not being intellectually honest.

The “mean old men of the Vatican” are the ones who are being intellectually honest here: they do not want to enter into dialogue on a topic they consider to be self-evident, objective, demonstrable reality. They cannot and are not willing to admit that the antithesis of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, which excludes the liceity of all genital sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage (and which defines marriage as a covenant by which a man and a woman, by an act of consent, establish a partnership of the whole of life) could possibly be true. It is not a subject open for dialogue.

But, but, but – the naysayers say – at least Robinson et al. are calling for dialogue! See how open and tolerant they are! The Senes Vaticani are close-minded, they won’t tolerate dialogue.

No, my friend, that’s not the reality. Neither party is willing to tolerate dialogue. Robinson is already convinced that the “Vatican party line” is wrong. He does not want dialogue, because he is not willing to admit that there is any equality between the positions. Dialogue, for Robinson, on this issue means talking and talking (preferably louder than the opponent) until the other side is willing to admit that it is wrong. That’s not dialogue. That demagogy.

That’s why those upholding the traditional Christian teaching are more intellectually honest. It’s not merely that they do not wish to dialogue on the topic of human sexuality, it’s that they recognize entering into a dialogue with Robinson, et al. is not dialogue. The Church is not going to change Her teaching. The matter is settled. You’re free to disagree, and to go elsewhere. You’re not free to pretend that an opposing viewpoint is legitimately Catholic and worthy of an equal status in a Catholic context. To admit that would be intellectual dishonesty.