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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Inculturation....From God or From Man?

This little ditty keeps popping it's head up every so often.  This time it was on facebook.  I won't bore you with all of the details, but you'll certainly get the jist of what the conversation was.  It centered around the idea that a poster is content with the fact that at least the Mass is valid, even if it be in another language, ie.  Spanish.  My point was that this is exactly what Vatican Council II DID NOT call for.  This is an abuse and while it is valid, there is much more to the issue than validity.

There is more to this than validity.  There is the matter of licitness.  What one particular person cares for or does not care for has no bearing on the issue at hand. [which is the liturgical action]  Right isn't just right, but wrong is always wrong. Doing the bare minimum is not enough.  We are called to do more.  That is akin to getting a D in school.  It passes, but there is so much more that can be accomplished and can be given to the task at hand.  Just getting by doesn't solve the problem.  It's time we start doing what Vatican Council II actually called for, if we are to accept it at all.  And to simply be valid isn't it.

Vatican Council II called for the faithful to know and understand Latin well enough that Catholics could make the responses.  As it stands right now, the vast majority of Catholics in the world cannot do that, yet they are expected to be inculturated into Spanish Masses and other languages (I am speaking of the USA).  Not only are they to be inculturated into these other languages, but they are expected to be able to respond, yet when it comes to knowing the language of the Church, Latin, the vast majority of Catholics cannot do this.  So, where is the disconnect?

The white elephant in the room for liberals is this:  Why should a Catholic submit to the particular, when the universal has not been met?  Why should a Catholic stand by and expect that a valid Mass in Spanish is enough?  Why should a Catholic stand by and just accept the inculturation of a particular (Spanish) when the universal (Latin) is ignored?

I daresay that there is not an answer to that.  I daresay that unless the liberal admits that there is a change in theology with regard to the Mass and the Sacraments, there is not an answer to that.  If Vatican Council II was simply pastoral and not doctrinal (as has been asserted by many who are higher up), then there was no change in liturgical theology and what was accurate before is accurate today.  But is it?

I don't think that it is.  I think that there has been a shift in liturgical theology and this shift is dangerous to the faithful.  Dangerous, because it is another reason for people to simply look at the Mass as just a part of a greater whole.  The Mass is not.  The Mass is not on the same level as praying a rosary.  The Mass is not on the same level as doing good works.  The Mass is not the simply part of the whole.


If a Catholic has no more life in the Church than to simply assist at Mass and make his Easter duty, then he is being a dutiful Catholic.  While he should strive for more and do what he can, he is doing what he ought.  That is not merely getting by, that is doing what he ought.  And that IS enough.  For doing what we ought is doing what is right.

If the Mass is how we worship, shouldn't we worship according what the Church asks and not what man wants?

Monday, May 21, 2012

SSPX Update

From our friends over at Rorate Caeli:

Rome-SSPX - Fellay speaks in Vienna: the words of Pope Benedict XVI
Following his visit to Salzburg, the Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, was in Vienna yesterday, for confirmations of local faithful. He had additional words on the current relationship with Rome, including some words of Pope Benedict XVI:
"You have surely heard that, in the last few months, Rome has offered us a solution - we could rather say, a recognition.
"This structure that is being offered to the Society is in fact entirely appropriate. That is, if it actually takes place, you will feel absolutely no difference between now and afterwards. We will remain as we are, so to speak. The problem is the [existence of] safeguards: will it actually happen this way? The fear is great that we will be transformed. ...
"It is quite clear that this offer is also very, very controversial in the Church at large. I can assure you: It is the will of the Pope. This must not be doubted. But it is certainly not the will of everyone in the Church.
"Whether this will come to fruition depends on terms that are not yet clear terms. There are still points that remain unclear. It could happen that, in the upcoming days, weeks - it is very hard to ascertain this - the Pope will decide directly. It could be that he takes the case back to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There is a lot of pressure in Rome. Which is why I couldn't say more than this. That is the current status.
"One must not think that things will be easy afterwards. To use the words of the Pope that describe the situation quite well: 'I know,' he said, 'that it would be easier both for the Society and for myself to leave the situation as it currently is.' This describes very well the situation, and also that the Pope himself knows that he, when he does it, will be attacked. And also that the situation will not be easy for us. That which will arise out of this situation will be with Rome or against it. Both of which will be difficult.
"Yet we have trust in the good God. He has guided us very well so far. We must not think that, praying so much, He would abandon us in the moment of greatest danger. That would be [a thought] against hope. We are counting on God's assistance. His will be done.

I am refraining from serious comment until a final decision is rendered or it becomes clear that no decision will be rendered.  But this is good least from my point of view.


When we think of Confirmation, we think of being a teenager and becoming an adult in the Church.  That notion of what confirmation is, is flat out wrong.  That is not what Confirmation does.  What confirmation actually does, is to perfect Baptism and to fully emerse the recipient into the life of Holy Mother Church.

The reformed understanding of Confirmation is this:
by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed. (source)
The traditional understanding of Confirmation is very similar.  The Council of Trent says:

A sacrament in which the Holy Ghost is given to those already baptized in order to make them strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ.
It has been variously designated: bebaiosis or confirmatio, a making fast or sure; teleiosis orconsummatio, a perfecting or completing, as expressing its relation to baptism. With reference to its effect it is the "Sacrament of the Holy Ghost", the "Sacrament of the Seal" (signaculum, sigillum, sphragis). From the external rite it is known as the "imposition of hands" (epithesis cheiron), or as "anointing with chrism" (unctio, chrismatio, chrisma, myron). The names at present in use are, for the Western Churchconfirmatio, and for the Greek, to myron. (source)

St. Thomas says about Confirmation that Confirmation is to baptism what growth is to generation. Now it is clear that a man cannot advance to a perfect age unless he has first been born; in like manner, unless he has first been baptized he cannot receive the Sacrament of Confirmation (Summa Theologiæ III.72.6).  This notion of Confirming has nothing to do with making one an adult, but rather has everything to do with making one perfect in his baptism.

As we think of the Sacraments of initiation, we should be thinking not of age, but rather of perfection.  If baptism wipes away original sin and Confirmation perfects that Sacrament, then why should we have an expectation of waiting until one is nearly an adult?  Wouldn't it be better served to see the perfection of baptism come as soon as possible?  The Catechism of the Council of Trent continues:
Those receiving Confirmation should also be in the state of grace; for the Holy Ghost is not given for the purpose of taking away sin but of conferring additional grace. This condition, however, refers only to lawful reception; the sacrament is validly received even by those in mortal sin. In the early ages of the Church,confirmation was part of the rite of initiation, and consequently was administered immediately after baptism. When, however, baptism came to be conferred by simple priests, the two ceremonies were separated in the Western Church. Further, when infant baptism became customary, confirmation was not administered until the child had attained the use of reason. This is the present practice, though there is considerable latitude as to the precise age. The Catechism of the Council of Trent says that the sacrament can be administered to all persons after baptism, but that this is not expedient before the use of reason; and adds that it is most fitting that the sacrament be deferred until the child is seven years old, "for Confirmation has not been instituted as necessary for salvation, but that by virtue thereof we might be found well armed and prepared when called upon to fight for the faith of Christ, and for this kind of conflict no one will consider children, who are still without the use of reason, to be qualified." (Pt. II, ch. iii, 18.)

So, the idea of Confirmation as soon as baptism moved from the realm of immediately after baptism until such time as reason was employed.  However, there still is no mention of the idea that it makes one more mature in his faith, but rather that he is perfected.  As time passed, and as bishops became fewer and fewer, the Sacrament was moved to a later time.

In today's world though, fighting the battles we are fighting with regard to Catholicism, shouldn't we be arming the faithful with as many spiritual weapons as possible?  Doesn't it make sense that if Confirmation be a way of perfection or perfecting Baptism, then shouldn't that be administered sooner than 15 or 16?  It is my contention that if one can use reason, then one should be confirmed.  Since there is no "fast age," we shouldn't be waiting, we should be promoting the quicker and more expedient way of initiating Catholics into the fullness of the Church.

As late as 1897, Pope Leo XIII comments to the Bishop of Marseilles, commends most heartily the practice of confirming children before their first communion as being more in accord with the ancient usage of the Church.  I think that we should be imploring our bishops to follow the lead of His Holiness and call for a return to a younger age of Confirmation.  If we are to strive for perfection, then why shouldn't we be promoting it's implementation as soon as possible?


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Communique on the Society of St. Pius X

Vatican City, 16 May 2012 (VIS) - Early this afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued the following communique regarding the Society of St. Pius X:
"As reported by news agencies, today, 16 May 2012, an Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met to discuss the question of the Society of St. Pius X.
In particular, the text of the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, received on 17 April, 2012, was examined and some observations, which will be considered in further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, were formulated.
Regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly".

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Letter: Look Deeper Than the Words....

This letter was written by a personal hero of mine.  Bear Bryant.  It isn't specifically about Catholicism or being a traddy, but sometimes it doesn't have to be.  Sometimes we can take away from other sources what it means to hold ourselves to a standard.  That standard, I believe, is reflected in this letter.  From  Bear Bryant:
Dear Chris:
You will be expected to report for football practice August 17. We will expect you to arrive in the afternoon and our first meal will be served that evening at the dorm.
On the 18th, you will take your physical, including the mile run, get your room and locker assignments and participate in Photographer’s Day in the afternoon. Our first practice will be on the morning of the 19th.
I am expecting you to report in top physical condition, clean-cut, smiling, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and raring to go. Also, I am expecting you to be prepared to run, hit, pitch, kick, catch, sweat, smell and enjoy it. There are no easy ways but there are ways to enjoy the journey and we must find them.
I am also expecting you to work hard, eat well, sleep well, play well, display a winning attitude at all times, be a leader and help me sell the squad on what it takes to win and enjoy the journey.
I hope you will share your problems with me whether it be at home, at the dorm, in your school work, with teammates, with coaches, with training regulations, self-discipline or even flying a kite. If you do that, I will try to help you and, if I can’t, I’ll recommend you get a job, join the Army, or join the Foreign Legion, but, in any event, to reside in another state.
Nothing’s too good for winners. I want to love you, pat you, pet you, brag on you and see you hoot, run and shout and laugh, pray, hug, kiss, and win with humility.
If we lose, I want all of us to be unhappy, no one to have any fun, and expect only what is reserved for losers but take it with dignity while planning to come back.
Please remember us to your family and make your personal plans on how you are going to reach your goal – the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.
Sincerely, Paul Bryant

Very easily this can be adapted to Catholicism.  Very easily this can be applied to traditionalism.  But be mindful, there is an honesty which must be seen.  This post isn't about the words, it's about the idea.  The idea that man can be better than he is.  That man can strive for the summit.  That man can make the most and that he does not have to settle.  Take care of what you read, understand that Bear Bryant is speaking not just to Chris, but he speaking to every player who ever played for Alabama.  He is speaking to every person who strove to be more than average.  And he expected the best.  This came with the things that make a person great.  This can be applied to what makes a Catholic great.

This is a letter, but look deeper than the words.  Look at the idea.  And when you do, you'll understand why Alabama has more National Championships than any other Division I university in football.  You'll also understand that the men that Bear Bryant put forward were good men.  He expected greatness.  He got it.  If we take that same expectation and we apply it to our Catholic lives, we can expect greatness too.  And we can get it.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Test of Fire

Thank you, to Susan Simmons.  She passed this along to me today!  You may have seen it, you may have not.  It's worth the watch, either way.

Monday, May 7, 2012

God's Plan...And His Garden...

Some of you know about my family some of you don't.  For those of you who do know about my family, this will make sense, for those of you who don't perhaps this will be a way to take a good look into how I look to the members of my family.

Recently, I had to run to the store to pick up some odds and ends for a group party that I was a part of.  So, off I went.  I went around the store and I picked up the things that I needed.  As I was heading to the front, I was heading up the aisle, only to be blocked by a young man who seemed to be about 15 or 16 years of age.  I wasn't in a crazy rush, so I patiently waited for him to realize I was there.  This was when he waved his hands wildly and said very loudly, "Mommy, I'm over here!!!"
 It became clear to me that he suffered from some sort of mental retardation and it startled him to see me standing behind him, waiting patiently to pass by.  His eyes got really wide and when I said, "Hey, pal...what's your name?"
"My name is Danny and I'm shopping with my mom!" He responded enthusiastically.
"Wow," I said, "My name is Andy, but having a name like Danny would be pretty cool," I repsonded.  "How old are you, Danny?"
"How old am I now, Mommy?" He asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle.
"You're 15 years old Danny; now be a good boy and let the nice man pass by."  She said.
I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Danny for a few minutes more about the end of school, summer, and his plans for a fun time.  I watched as he became more and more excited about the idea that he was the center of someones attention other than his mother's.  He turned and headed away with his Mom, but not before she thanked me for taking the time to stop a moment and talk to her son.  She had a puzzled look upon her face.  She told me that many people wouldn't even look at him, let alone take the time to talk with him.  I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something from where I have no idea it came; other than perhaps from the prompting of the Holy Ghost.
I said, "There are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God's garden; however, blue roses are very rare, even for His garden and should be appreciated for their beauty and rarity.  You see, Danny is a blue rose and if someone didn't stop to smell that rose and touch that rose with the kindness of their heart, they've truly missed a blessing from God."
The mother went silent for a moment, then with a tear in her eye, she asked, "Who are you?"
Without thinking I responded, "Oh, I'm just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God's garden."
She reached out, grabbed my hand and said to me, looking directly into my face, "God Bless, you!"
If I can be so bold, the next time you see a "blue rose," don't turn and walk away.  Take the time to stop and  say hello.  Why?  Because, by the grace of God, this mother or father could be you.  In this instance, it was my cousin.  See, I have a cousin who is severely challenged and far too many people don't pay attention.  Because if they did, they would see what a wonderful young woman Rebecca really is.

I don't see much of her, because we live almost 1000 miles apart, but I know her mother and her uncle very well.  They are my cousins too.  And I know the great love that pours from Rebecca without any thought or expectation.  That is true love.  Her mother asked me once, while I was in seminary, "Why did God allow this to happen to Rebecca and me?"

I told her that God's plan for each person is His own.  We can't know the reason or the method by which He will use us, but that we must simply trust and have faith in Him Who Is.  I believe that Rebecca was made the way she was to teach us how to love unconditionally.  It is a rare thing in this world to see pure love and it is a rare thing to see such beauty.  We might not like the ease or difficulty by which God chooses to act in our lives, but in the end, it is how we view it that makes a big difference.

So, take it from a dandelion, examples of love are everywhere and in the most unlikely places.  Please keep your eyes open and know that God has a reason and a use for every person.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Properly, Proper

Thinking about that conversation I had about prudence, I continued to think, which is sometimes dangerous, I know.  For those of you who I count as friends, you REALLY know, but  I digress....

The thought that I had about it was this.  While we are to show prudence in how we act in the world, we should also show prudence when we are inside the Church as well.  Sometimes this means that we should really evaluate why we do what we do.  As laymen, should we be tramping up into the sanctuary every chance we get to do those things which are not proper to us?  Is it proper for us to lector?  Is it proper for us to handle the Blessed Sacrament?  Is it proper for us to hand off money during the offertory, as if money were of the same importance as the venerable species which will become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When we look at being proper, what is our role, properly speaking?  It certainly isn't to do those things which Father should be doing, no.  It is to worship.  Our role as laymen is to give glory, laud and honor to God the Father, through Christ the Son, which proceeds from the Holy Spirit.  We can do this in any number of ways, but is acting as an extraordinary minister the proper way to do it?  Current liturgical theology says that it is acceptable, but that there should be a genuine need.  It is this liberal interpretation of what genuine need means which has created the conundrum.  Genuine need is not so that someone can be participatory in an external way.  No.  Genuine need is when there is such a mass of people that the priest celebrant is not able to efficiently and honestly handle the duty of celebrant in said manner.

There are a number of ways in which we can worship properly.  We can adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.  We can meditate upon the Life of Christ.  We can meditate specifically upon the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord.  Or we can meditate upon the Sacred Mysteries.  We take our prayers, we put them at the foot of the altar so that the priest celebrant can gather them unto himself as he starts the Holy Mass and offer them on our behalf.  For it is his prayer and our uniting to that prayer to that of the priest which completes the liturgical action.

Don't get me wrong, there is a genuine need for service at the altar.  There simply are not enough acolytes to do the work which is necessary in every parish, so we should employ those volunteers which are properly disposed to serve in that capacity.  It logically follows that if service at the altar is first proper to the deacon, then to the acolyte; the extraordinary function should come from those who can aspire to be ordained to those orders.  So, it should be boys and men who serve at the altar.  The same holds true for lectors.  If there is an order of lectors, it should follow that the extraordinary function should come from those who can aspire to be ordained to the order of lector.  It is just proper.

However, the most important role for a layman is not to be an altar server or a lector, it is to be in the pew uniting his prayers to those of the priest.  Now for a shift in focus....the priest.  What is proper for the priest?  The priest is properly a celebrant.  He truly does celebrate the Sacred Mysteries.  That is his role.  He does not preside over the faithful.  That is a flawed view of the priestly role.  The faithful cannot celebrate the Mass.  They are not ordained to do so.  The proper role of the priest is that of mediator.   By celebrating the Mass, the priest enters into "persona Christi" whereby he offers the gifts on our behalf.  It is the priest who performs the Sacred action, not the faithful.  This is the greatest tragedy of the post-Conciliar age.  The idea that the priesthood of the faithful has some sort of Sacramental part to play in the celebration of the Mass is a diametric shift from the proper understanding of Sacramental theology.  And it doesn't take a learned theologian to figure this out!  It just takes proper common sense.

In our time, we need to recapture what our roles are and we need to understand that the definition of ourselves as Catholic is not bound by service, but by worship.  We most properly fulfill our liturgical role when we worship.  We may be called in extraordinary times to do extraordinary things, but those things should not be considered a right or normative.  But that is just what has happened.  We need to define ourselves as Catholics again.  We need to unite our souls to the Sacrifice of the Altar and we need to not worry so much about being of external service.  Our service comes from worshiping God the Father through the Sacrifice of his Son, by the procession of the Holy Spirit.  This is done in an unbloody way and in a way which is truly proper for the Catholic person.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Prudish or Prudent?

I was having a conversation with a friend recently and she got me to thinking a little bit about some things which are inherently Catholic in nature.  Bear with me as I flush out my brain on this one...

As Catholics (traddy or not) we're supposed to live in the world.  We don't necessarily need to be of the world, but we do need to live in it.  This idea that we are to deny ourselves the things in life which are part of our time isn't what it means to be of the world.  I know that may come as a shock to some, but there is nothing wrong with TV, there is nothing wrong with video games, there is nothing wrong with going out and spending time with friends at a bar (if you're of legal age), there is nothing wrong with dressing like others of the time in which one lives.  What CAN be wrong, is how those things are used by the person.  I'm not saying that there are not bad things on TV, in music, in video games, at the bar, in clothing lines, etc...but the human person is a rational being.  He can choose what to expose himself too.  But to deny out of some perceived fear that he might be corrupted isn't how a Catholic should think.  As a matter of fact, that is what got Decartes into so much trouble.  That kind of philosophy is flawed.

As a traddy Catholic, there is this stigma that I should dress a very conservative way and that I should abstain from TV and that I should only listen to classical music, yadda, yadda, yadda....How are we to be witnesses to the masses, if we don't engage them?  How are we supposed to live in the world, if we stay out of it?

Because we can reason, we have the opportunity to set an example to others that we can live in the world, do the things that others do and still be good Catholics.  

Question:  Do you think that prior to the Council and long before, people didn't dress, act, and live in the time in which they lived?

Ask parents and grandparents.  I think that you'll find that this leap of austerity that is being promoted by some is a direct reaction to a subjective immorality.  Does it exist?  Yes.  Should we practice prudence?  Yes, but do we have to force our young people to be prudish in order to be Catholic?  A resounding no.  I am friends with a good many people, Catholic (both traddy and non), non-Catholic, and even non-Christian.  If I can't engage them on the things they know, how can I minister to them?  Doesn't the Church demand that  we catechize, evangelize and be ecumenical?  How can I do that, if I don't live in the world in which I am a part?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we shouldn't practice moderation, to the contrary, that is EXACTLY what I'm saying.  As my friend put it who I was having the conversation with said, "Where do you draw the line?"  Where is the line between Harry Potter and Narnia?  Where is the difference between Lord of the Rings and Star Wars?  Would I let a small child see that?  No, but when a child is old enough to recognize that magic is a fairy tale and not real, then it becomes something which with help, they can discern.  The inherent evil in life isn't from things, it is from people.  We need to work to convert those people.  That is what we are to do.

However how does wearing khaki's a button down with dress shoes to play baseball serve any purpose?  Or how does wearing a skirt which comes to the ankles to the park on a 90 degree day serve any purpose? There are times when it is ok to dress in moderation, not inappropriately, but there isn't anything wrong with bermuda shorts and a t-shirt for a girl or wearing a knee length skirt or dress.  Just like there is nothing wrong with a boy wearing bermuda shorts and a t-shirt or even both wearing jeans.  I'm not condoning that for Holy Mass, don't get me wrong.  I think that one should dress appropriately for Mass with all conservation and appropriateness, but in the world at large, it just doesn't make sense.  It would be like asking a person from the 1850s to wear clothing from the 1740s.  They didn't do it, why should we do it today?

This all comes down to two things for the person, first it comes to reason.  Man can reason.  He knows what is right and what is wrong.  If his reasoning is wrong, then he should be taught what is right.  Reason is objective, application is subjective.  Second is moderation.  If things are done in moderation, then it isn't so difficult to adapt and alter when necessary.

As Catholics, we need to be able to live in the world.  I'm not saying that we fall into the traps of the world, but we can't live as if we were in Brigadoon, that's not fair to the faithful, it's not fair to the Church and it certainly isn't fair to the self.  If we are devout as Catholics and accept ALL that she teaches, then there should be no problem living in the world without having to constantly fight being of the world.  Catholicism isn't about being prudish, it is about being prudent.  We all need to take a step back and think about that, in my humble opinion.