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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cardinal Kasper's Admission....Traddy's Are NOT Wrong

I know I'm a little behind due to Spring planting, but I just came across this and WOW!!!!  Those of you who know me best, know that I've been saying this since at least 1994!  His Eminence says and I quote,

In many places, they had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them.  Thus the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction. [...] For most Catholics, the developments put in motion by the Council are part of the Church's daily life.  But what they are experiencing is not the great new beginning nor the springtime of the Church, which were expected at that time, but rather a Church which has a wintery look, and shows clear signs of crisis. 
BOOM!  Literally.  This admission by one of the most liberal Catholic Cardinals since the Council itself  has come out and said that compromise and conflict were intentional.  He has admitted that the ambiguity of the Council was built in and that it was intentional.  That there were designs on delimitations (for those who might better understand it in these terms, deregulation).

Now when we read the documents, we find that there is a clear reason why there are no dogmas or doctrines defined, because there was never any intention to do so.  We find that documents like Sacrosanctum Concilium and Nostrae Aetate were intentionally vague and deregulatory.  We see that the leadership of the Church did have an agenda to effect the daily life of the Church in a way which was unclear, but the burning question is why?  What is the reason for the deregulation or delimiting?  If the texts had a huge potential for conflict (which has been realized), why were they ratified?

So, what now?  Those of us who have been calling this out now know that the premise we've been forwarding is correct.  We must go about proving it.

Why is this coming out now?  I think that perhaps (and this is my own opinion) that the baby boomer generation is starting to feel it's mortality, whereas before they had an air of invincibility.  I think that they are trying to set their legacy as really being proponents for change and this is a way to do it.  They've gone so long lying about the reality of what the documents of Vatican Council II actually said that now it has come time to say the truth and defend their actions so that they can put their mark firmly into history.  The Boomers lived their lives saying, "Don't trust anyone over 30...."  Now they are in their 60's and 70's and the truth is coming out...they didn't.  They were changing for the sake of change, not only in society, but as it has been admitted, in the leadership's actions surrounding the Church.

This is a sad commentary on a generation that didn't trust.  They didn't trust society, they didn't trust the Church.  They didn't trust in God.  And this is what we are left with, a false premise which defined two generations of Catholics.

The reality is that my generation didn't buy it, and those of us that are left (or are coming back) are those who will have to fix it.  And the first step is proving our premise.  A premise which was just spelled out by His Eminence.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Redundancy and Noble Simplicity?

In my ongoing dialogue with friends, peers, and sometimes adversaries, the conversation has continued.  Here is some of the latest which I would like to share with you and ask for your views and feedback.  This conversation is based upon a priest sharing with us that he used parts of the TLM in the Novus Ordo.  And the fact that he continues to offer both the Sacred Host and Precious Blood at every Mass, regardless the solemnity and offers kneelers for reception of the Sacred Host (which is laudable).

ME:  I find there something problematic about substituting EF propers for OF propers. While the feast may be the same, the liturgical action is not. The TLM should remain with the TLM and the Novus Ordo should remain with the Novus Ordo.

Here is a logistical question, which is not intended to be malicious, but one that I have been pondering....IF the precious blood is also the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, just as the Sacred Host is, should not kneelers be present for reception from the cup, as well? Why must we (the faithful) be forced to receive from the cup standing? It seems to be a major inconsistency.

Response #1:  Receiving the Blessed Sacrament under the species of Wine is not something any Catholic should need or desire.

Why? Because it was introduced to facilitate and justify the Laity standing to receive, since receipt kneeling (unless by intinction) is just too awkward and therefore a risk. The Laity have no need of the Precious Blood as a separate and distinct article.

Response #2:  I agree with both Andy and with [Responder #1]. Holy Communion under either form is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ and kneeling should be done if one chooses to receive under both forms, if offered. 

However, because reception of either form is just as completely Christ as under both forms the reception of both forms separately (as two separate receptions) is redundant, except for the external aspect (sign value?). We should simply go back to receiving the Host only while kneeling and on the tongue (with a paten under the chin) or by intinction while kneeling (and on the tongue only by necessity in this case).

ME:  I am absolutely on board with the continuation of this thought.  Redundancy is the key.  IF the Novus Ordo is to be "nobly simple" as has been preached, and teached, and kicked down our throats for the last 50 years, then why are we making it so much more complex in everything that is done?  A couple of key thoughts;

1.  The priest was the main minister.  Now he presides over a veritable cornucopia of so-called lay ministers.

a.  Lay song leaders
b.  Lay readers
c.  Lay gift bearers
d.  Lay Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
e.  Lay greeters
f.  Altar girls or boys, or both

2.  The Lectionary cycle has become invariably complex, to the point where the average layman is so confused by it that he must rely on a hand missal for the readings, EVEN though it is in his native tongue.

3.  The introduction of multiple options for the various "Rites" of the Mass itself.

a.  Multiple forms of antiphons
b.  Multiple forms of introductory rites
c.  Multiple forms of the Eucharistic Prayers
d.  Hundreds of songs

There is nothing "simple" about the Mass.  There is only complexity on a scale which is very hard to catechize, because there is no consistency in how the Mass will be presented.  From parish to parish; or even priest to priest inside the parish, there are differences which make the "experience" of Mass so different that trying to teach it requires....well, Redundancy.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Excellent Take on a View of Pope Francis And How We Must Look At Catholicism Today

This is a good way for priests to self-evaluate and this is a GREAT way for us to self-evaluate.  

How are we approaching Catholicism?
[There are] similar dioceses [which] are only missionary dioceses when its priests exercise their missionary charism. The missionary charism is fueled by a love of humanity and recognizes the need for conversion. The urgency of the missionary charism has no room for comfort. As [Father] notes, the wise priest knows his limitations. Some priests, however, are graced to go beyond those limitations. 
The careerist priest is defined by his limitations. He knows there are only so many hours in the day, so he rigidly sets his schedule and will not deviate from it. Daily Mass is not always possible. If people cannot make it to Confession during the narrow window it is offered they can try to make an appointment, or just make a good Act of Contrition. If the parish is not too demanding, it might be a good place to stay for a while, so it's important to make friends with the families that can make the largest donations. Seeking and accepting public honors and private flattery will cement the parish's perception that the careerist is an exceptional priest and the steady support of the parish and the steady flow of weekly tithes will impress the bishop that the careerist is doing well. The career priest in a missionary diocese is sharp enough to know that most of the people he encounters are not going to be Catholics and he is not going to rock the boat. Converting Protestants is not nearly as high a priority as coexistence.
Now let's contrast the careerist with the patron saint of parish priests, John Vianney. John Vianney recognized his limitations too and he transcended them by his complete dependence on God. Instead of a half-hour on Saturday afternoons for Confessions, he lived in his confessional. He shunned honors and distrusted all praise. His best friend was Jesus Christ and his parish was moved by the profound love He showed Christ in his manner of saying Mass. His homilies were simple, clear and never pandering. He did not come to Ars to "get along" with everyone. He came to transform a flock indifferent to God and fish for more souls. His net was wide and his catch was incredible.
The choice for the parish priests parallels the choice the laity must make. The priest must ask himself: Do I want a nice retirement dinner with lavish testimonials about what a wonderful guy I am? or do I want to retire into the welcoming arms of God who gave his last ounce of energy for me when He took on human flesh? Am I more committed to keeping my honored place in the community than I am willing to be vilified, misunderstood and persevere? Am I willing to preach the truth and the whole of it, even when it's unpopular? Am I willing to risk having people walk out on my homilies? When powerful people who support homosexuality and abortion tighten their pressure on me, will I smile and look the other way or will I have the courage to speak the truth in love and, if necessary, lose their support? 
So too must the layman ask himself: Do I want a priest who can be my buddy or do I want a priest who will help me become Holy? Do I want a priest who will challenge me or do I want a priest who will let me stay comfortable? Will I support my priest, pray for my priest and make sacrifices for my parish to be a place that draws all people to Christ or will I complain to my bishop if my priest starts acting "too Catholic"?
The Catholic Church needs saints in collars and saints in the pews and all of us are called to become saints. We're not going to become saints by conducting business as usual and staying in our comfort zones. Careerist priests will no doubt earn human praise and have some nice plaques and honors at the end of their careers, but they will not help many people become saints or, for that matter, ever become saints themselves.
We're Catholics. Whether we are priests or laity, we do not have careers. We have vocations. 

I would argue that the confession mentioned must be perfect if one is in mortal sin, but I digress....This is a very important view that we must see...especially here in Iowa, where our charism is becoming more and more missionary with the continual clustering.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What a Spring!!!

As many of you know, I work in the agriculture industry.  More precisely, I work in agronomy in Iowa.  This season has been a challenge, because of all things too much water!  Last year, we faced a drought and we still could this summer if the water turns off, but for now at least, we have too much.

It has been a spring of stop and go.  We would get a good run on spraying and planting and then we would have to stop due to weather.  This is somewhat normal, but not for weeks at a time.  Normally getting a day off, or two is welcome, but it gets very trying patience wise when we cannot run for weeks at a time.

There are roughly 1000 acres of corn left to spray and 99% of beans.  As we progress, we must continue to pray that we have a good end to the planting season.

This brings me to a point.  We used to have Rogation days.  These were days set aside to pray for bountiful crops.  Since the advent of the new calendar, these have been largely forgotten.  I do believe that when we stop praying for something, God stops granting it.  Maybe we need to start begging our pastors to celebrate Rogation days again, so that we might have good seasons.

I will start ramping my posting again, because we're essentially done.  I appreciate your prayers.  I appreciate your readership.  May God keep all of you close!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Has Begun...Finally!

Hello Everyone,

Things will be a little slow on the blog for the month of May.  My job as a commercial applicator is ramping up and I will be spending the next month or so in the fields spraying Nitrogen and first shots of pre emergent herbicide.

Please pray for a safe planting season and a fruitful year for the farmers, not only here in Iowa, but worldwide.  These happen to be the major Rogation Days, so it is apropos....

I'll see you as soon as I can and possibly on a rainy day!


Andy Milam

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Church's Duty

I recently came across this blog post and was moved enough by it that I wish to share it.  Here it is, in it's entirety.

IN MY LAST BLOG, I talked about the phenomenon, quite common today, of those who would delay or oppose the correction of liturgical abuses or imperfections because they feel that people’s feelings will be hurt or that they will be confused by “more change.” 
While I grant that too much change too fast would be a bad thing, and that all change should be accompanied by explanations, I maintain that it is morally necessary to change from bad practices to good ones and, to the extent possible, from inferior practices to superior ones. That is, it would be sinful to refuse to make such changes. (For example, if you currently have no one in the parish who knows how to sing Gregorian chant, you can’t very well insist that the next Mass will be a full-blown Missa Cantata; but you can send a couple of talented singers to a chant workshop, or invite a schola director to come and give a workshop. There are always steps that can be taken to improve the liturgical life of the community.) 
Sometimes one finds even orthodox bishops voicing a certain despair: “Well, you are right, in principle—it would be better to discontinue the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of holy communion, and to have more chant, as Vatican II called for. But what’s the cost? Most of our people are trying their best to be good, many are involved in our parish ministries . . . I don’t want to discourage them by insisting too much on a severe liturgical regimen. After all, the Vatican permits X, Y, and Z, and who am I to change what even the Vatican isn’t changing? Are we supposed to be more Catholic than the pope?” 
The serious problem with this kind of mentality is that it overlooks the serious long-term damage that is done by poor liturgy and poor custom; it does not recognize that reform has to come from all sides, not just from the top down (which is usually ineffective anyway, as the consistent and yet consistently ignored legislation on extraordinary ministers of holy communion shows); and it fails to acknowledge that each and every bishop has the grave responsibility to take charge and take action when the Holy of Holies is at stake. Lex orandi, lex credendi: the way people worship determines what they believe. The lack of a spirit of reverent adoration at so many liturgies, together with the countless ways we have abandoned our holy tradition, is the root cause of why Catholics believe so little nowadays, have so little reverence for the Eucharist, and dissent so blithely from Church teaching, especially in matters of morality. Indeed, what we have done to our Church in the past five decades deserves to be punished with loss of faith, desecration, scandal, and moral confusion. The Lord will not be mocked: those who repudiate His gifts will be repudiated, until and unless they repent. 
A bishop might also be tempted to think: “Summorum Pontificum is a nice idea, in and of itself, and the enthusiasm among some young people for Latin, chant, and what have you is all fine and good, but we have to concentrate on the basics of faith and morals—we can’t waste precious time and energy promoting such exotic causes.” But this is exactly wrong. The liturgy is the tip of the spear. If you sharpen it, you succeed in your hunting. Once the right priorities are set in the sanctuary, the right priorities begin to be set elsewhere, too. First things first. The Church is mainly about the business of worshiping God and sanctifying souls, and this takes place above all in the sacred liturgy. 
As we know from the luminous teaching and example of Pope Benedict XVI, many treasures of our faith, particularly in the liturgy, were not supposed to vanish from the Church’s life after the Council. They did vanish in most places—but their absence is in no way normative! It’s as if everyone in a family decided to stop paying attention to Grandma. Grandma does not disappear as a result; she just rocks in her chair in the corner, waiting until someone will talk to her again, will love her and show her due respect. The Tradition does not lose its normativity just because ungrateful revolutionaries turn their backs to it. 
Against the argument that “we don’t want to make the same mistake as before, by too suddenly changing things and so risking alienating good people,” it should be said that in the church, as in one’s personal moral life, certain mistakes deserve to be undone, the sooner the better. Pastors owe it to their flocks to lead them into the truth that sets us free, even when it is painful, even when some will walk away (cf. John 6). The main problem is that the longer the abuses and the spirit of rupture prevail, the more quasi-normativity they acquire—so much so that Catholics today frequently see the aberrations and experiments of the past forty years as “tradition,” when in fact they are pure innovation, novelty, and rupture. You cannot make a lion into a tiger, no matter how much you paint stripes onto it. Similarly, a defective stance vis-à-vis tradition can never be rendered legitimate, no matter how many decades it lasts. If the papacy had remained in Avignon for centuries, it would be no less an embarrassment, abnormality, and scandal, no less immune to the critique of whatever Saint Catherines the Lord in His mercy would raise up. In fact, it would be more scandalous the longer it lasted. The same is true with liturgical abuses and rupture. They are not normalized and regularized by their continuation; they are rendered all the more displeasing to the Lord and harmful to the faithful. 
The longer the hermeneutic of rupture and its expressions are allowed to continue as practical norms, the longer a “Great Schism” between the preconciliar and postconciliar periods will be perpetuated. A house divided against itself cannot stand; neither can the Church be the leaven of the world unless she brings order to her own household. We can pretend all we want, but the naked truth is that the Catholic Church as now embodied in most parishes and their manner of worship is something that could not be recognized as being in continuity with her traditional doctrine and practice. In other words, there is a Great Divorce. To the extent that this is true, there is a real, pressing, desperate need for healing, reconciliation, and reunification. 
The only way to achieve reform is to have the courage to begin it, and to continue it in a consistent and principled way, as did the great saints of the Counter-Reformation. Though it may sound simplistic, it is nonetheless true: where there is a will, there is a way. Some Catholics will make a fuss and threaten to quit, but ultimately, it is the Catholic’s duty to stick with the Church, not the Church’s duty to adapt herself to the whims and tantrums of the people. There must be true leadership that leads the way along the path of Tradition, and does so with consistency, fervor, and vision. 
Doing the right thing can mean standing against many. Doing the right thing is the only way of setting up a counter-example that inspires others by its integrity. It is like soldiers making a stand: behind them more and more gather until the tide of battle turns.

I think that Dr. Kwasniewski makes some very salient points and that if we are serious to return to a more proper form of liturgical celebration, then it is imperative that we understand his points.  I think that his statement about the hermeneutic of rupture is a key idea.  He's right, the longer the schism remains the longer there will not be harmony in Holy Mother Church.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Laity?

I came across this article regarding the role of the laity in the Vatican.  Obviously, I have some thoughts on it, but my thoughts have to do with something I have been advocating for years, since my days in college.

Cardinal Pell has said;
Professional men and women with expertise in areas such as finance, for example, could have a lot to offer in overseeing some Vatican departments, perhaps under the leadership of a cardinal.
This is a vocational issue.  I have long advocated (as a way to bolster vocations to the priesthood) that men either minor or double major in Philosophy and Business or some Business related degrees.  If priests would also hold professional degrees, I firmly believe that the priesthood would be more attractive to men who have talents for math, science, business, marketing, and the like.  There is no reason why we must come to rely on the laity and why the priesthood should be pigeon-holed into academic degrees only.

I fully understand and support what the PRIMARY functions of priests are, namely, to pray, to provide the sacraments and to pastor.  Those are all very important (vitally, IMHO), but there can be room in the life of the priest to have the knowledge to run a business.  We have long been sending men to get JCDs, why can't we also send men to MBAs?

I do believe that if we encouraged this mode of action, an interdisciplinary mode of being with regard to academic formation, the Church would be in a much better place and the running of the Church can remain in the hands of those who are supposed to be running it.  In thinking of it another way, many pastors today run parishes with budgets which range from $300,000 to $1-5 million +.   It would be very beneficial for these men to have finance or business backgrounds.

Even moreso, though, I do believe that there are a good number of men today who are interested in the priesthood who pass it by, because they think that they can "do better" with a professional degree.  I think that if diocese's would pay closer attention to this, there would be more vocations and there would be better run parishes, dioceses and the Church at large.  And we wouldn't have to explore the use of the laity.  They should not be burdened with running the Church, but rather, they should simply let the Church be managed by those who are supposed to manage it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lace, Shoes, and Fannons...Oh My!?!

I got into a conversation about trappings and Sacred Tradition.  Here is one comment which was made and my response.

"So I do not say that some of these things can never be set aside, only that the process of doing so should not be capricious."

I think that this is the key.  If something is going to be set aside, why is it set aside?  Is it done out of true humility or is it done out of some sense of obligation to "the times in which one lives."  Looking at the abandonment of the triregnum we can clearly see what Paul's motivation was.  It wasn't done out of humility, but rather it was done to make a statement of the times.  And that, in my opinion, is wrong.

The trappings conveyed and still convey something very central to the Church, the ability to give glory to God in an outward way.  If God is who we think He is, then why wouldn't we want to offer Him our best foot forward, from an artistic point of view?  I know that this is a very subjective thing, but it is clear that the art from the 18th century is much more refined and beautiful than the art of the abstract art of the 1960s.  (Oh, I'm sure that some will argue with me on this, but point stands)

The sad part about the Church today is that those who are interpreting art are not keeping up with the times.  Here is my example...Those who insist that gold and lace and brocade, etc...should be replaced by polyester and poplin drapes are still living in the 1960s and 70s.  Yet even secular society has passed them by.  How many Polyester leisure suits and high waisted bell bottoms do you see on the streets?  None, for all intents and purposes, but we are still subjected to that in church.  On the street we have moved back to wool suits and a more classic line for women and that is considered tasteful....but not so for the purveyors of Catholic sensibilities in the parish.  They want to hang on to that 1970s kitsch for as long as they can.  And it just doesn't follow.

Yet, we see Benedict move back to a more classic style (albeit updated) and what do we get, we get comments like, " Lace, shoes, fannons are not in the least essential and should be basically invisible. The Faith, the Tradition, is what we should be attuned to, not how high he may elevate the species at the consecration or where he sits in the chapel praying before mass."

Poppycock.  The trappings elevate our minds and bring a sense of the sacred in a classical sense.  The fact, is that the polyester brigade doesn't want to let go of a style that went out 20 years ago.  Timeless classics never go out of style, like a worsted wool 3 button in a business setting, the Roman cut will always fit in a Catholic setting.

The argument about trappings is so stupid.  They serve a purpose.  To deny that is to be dense.  Not everything has to be immediately tied to salvation...but sometimes those things which lead one to embrace those things which are immediately tied to salvation make a difference.  More banging against one tree, while missing the whole forest.

The 1970s schtick is passe.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

More Trees....And More Headaches

I recently read an article and it sent me off a little is a snippet.

Some of the progressives in the Church completely in their post election euphoria of gleefulness for all the lace in the dumpster not to mention fine brocade chasubles, copes, dalmatics and the like as well as other papal accoutrements such as the mozzetta and papal palace going the way of the Edsel (look it up you are too young to know about the Ford Edsel) must be wondering if this is going to be a collegial pope or not or a man who takes command and makes sure his wishes are carried out.
Will he spread his authority and rely upon decentralization of Roman curia's control or will he streamline it (the curia) and make it a mean, lean, grilling machine to quote George Foreman and his griddles, thus making the Roman Curia the monarchical aid that Pope Francis needs in his hierarchical magisterium? 

I pray not.  There is a very rare instance in which decentralization really works.  I understand scoring back some.  I don't have a problem with that, but decentralization leads to one of two things anarchy or revolution.  All we need do is look at either 18th century France or the Communist Manifesto.

There is talk of him dissolving the Vatican Bank.  Bad idea.  The Vatican should control it's own money, then it is not beholding to the world.  Clean it up, sure.  But dissolve it?  Mistake.

I think that there are many issues surrounding this Pope which are not come to light.  I think that this whole "humility schtick" is impressive to the MSM, but reality is that it will come to bite most Catholics in the a$$, because it undermines what we really are.  We understand humility in a totally different way than the world, SINCE the Englightenment.  Our understanding didn't change, the world's did.  Humility is based not upon how much one gives up, but rather on how much one applies his love to God the Father.  That is contrary to the current worldview.

Tied to that is simplicity.  Noble simplicity to be exact.  Sadly, I think that Papa Francisci has missed the mark (I know, I know, my view means jack squat), but seriously....If a parish in Argentina celebrates the Mass with all the glory it can muster, then it is acting in a nobly simplistic way.  Why isn't the same said for St. Peter's?  Why must St. Peter's dumb down their liturgical action?  That isn't nobly simplistic.  THAT is patronizing....but then again, that is exactly what the MSM media wants in a covert way...and Pope Francis has bought that bill of goods hook, line and sinker.

We must reclaim true Christian humility, we must reclaim true Christian noble simplicity.  The Church must worship God the Father with all it can muster.  To wear the same vestment until it is rags and falls off isn't doing that...but placing Christ's Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity into a gold chalice and on a gold paten is.  Pope Francis needs to stop running into one tree and start looking at the whole forest....I'm sure at that point, his head will stop hurting.



I had an acquaintance ask the following questions with regard to my post above.
"Why is it always the laity that have such clarity on this issues? Where are the clergy that speak forthrightly? Are they all muzzled by "obedience"?"

That's what they call it, "obedience," but that isn't really the reason.  The real reason is fear.  Most priests today are afraid they will lose their standing in the diocese and they are also afraid their peers will abandon them.

I'll fill you in on a more emerging secret.  One which isn't talked about much.  If a seminarian or young priest speaks against the status quo (ie...the post-Vatican Council II mentality), he will be shown the door, quite unceremoniously.  To forward an agenda, those who forward it must buy in.  If a priest or a seminarian doesn't buy in, he's dismissed.  For a seminarian, he can get a job in the real world...for a priest, it is fatal.

So, to answer your questions, those of us who are "loud-mouthed laity," we're simply not afraid to engage 1983 years of Catholic truths, not simply limit ourselves to the last 48.

Harsh, yes.  The truth, also yes.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Simplicity or Pauperism....

I was having a conversation recently with my friend, the most esteemed B. Allen Young, MC (Master of Ceremonies at St. Agnes Church, in St. Paul, MN) about the Holy Father's Maundy Thursday changes from the traditional schedule of celebrating the Mass of Holy Thursday to the prison in Rome.

A couple of things struck me in the conversation.  First,  Allen brought up the point that it is a good thing that the Holy Father is paying attention to the poor and being the "Everyman Pontiff."  That certainly has been the timbre of the pontificate since Paul VI famously (and rashly, in my opinion) laid aside the Triple Tiara, but I think that something is being missed, and Allen agrees.  The Holy Father cannot forgo the glory of Holy Mother Church in order to only minister to the poor.  While ministry to the poor is certainly important, it is not ALL there is to the Church.  And the Pope Francis should not forget that.  There is also a patrimony to the Church which does exist and that is a very important aspect to Catholic life.  We are not broad-church Protestants, but rather we are a high-church liturgical society.  To change that mentality is not his privy.  He is the Vicar of Christ.  The Church doesn't belong to Pope Francis, but rather it belongs to Christ.  Pope Francis is just the 266th steward of that Church waiting for the return of the King.

Second, if the Holy Father is going to celebrate Mass in a "more simple" style, which is his privy, he cannot forgo the nobility by which he does it.  Nobility shouldn't be confused with pious, by the way.  So, some will argue that the Holy Father is more noble, because he is soft spoken in his words as he prays the Canon or some friends, that is not the case.  Noble simplicity exists in the fact that the celebration of a Papal Mass is done with the ceremony in which it is due.  Pope Benedict celebrated a very simple Mass, but it was noble.  It paid homage to the role the Vicar plays in the Church, while still not enjoining a hundred attendants.  I think that as Pope Francis comes into his own, he MUST recognize that.

I said to Allen that by shedding the trappings of the pontificate, Pope Francis is shedding the importance of his calling.  It is true.  The ministry of Peter isn't his personal ministry, it is the ministry of the Church through him, who is called to be the Vicar of Christ.

So, the fact that Francis is a humble and meek Pope is fine.  But, he cannot lose the patrimony of the Church, it is just as much his responsibility to foster that aspect as it is to say Mass in a prison.  The concerns that people have about Pauperism are very real.  It is not in the best interest of the Church to shed the mozzetta and the red shoes and the particular way that the Pope blesses the faithful, because those actions and things don't belong to Pope Francis' personal style, they belong to the Papacy.  They belong to the Papacy as much as kissing the feet of an AIDS patient.

My prayer is that Jorge Bergoglio realizes that he is no longer just Jorge Bergoglio, but now he is also  Francis, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.  To just be the kind, Bishop of Rome isn't enough. The part can never exceed the whole!

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Initial Views of the New Pope

This is simply my own opinion and certainly not indicative of what to expect from the pontificate of Pope Francis.  That is a good place to start.

Jorge Maria Card. Bergoglio took the name Francis.  Not Francis I.  This is a new name entered into the lexicon of Papal regnal names.  To be honest, I like it.  Not because it is new, but because I have long though that St. Francis was a worthy reason to take the name Francis.  In Italian the name is Francesco.  In Latin the name is Francisci.

Papa Francesco, as I am wont to call him, it sounds better than Francis, is a very holy individual and I think that we need that right now.  In the first days of his pontificate, we can clearly see that he's a man of deep prayer and very humble.  But I think that he needs to guard against Pauperism.  When one is very humble and pious, the temptation is to forgo those things which embody noble simplicity for mere simplicity.  That isn't being authentic, but rather it is misunderstanding the mandate from Vatican Council II.  And we certainly don't want that.

This leads directly into the next part, the Mass.  While I think that Papa Francesco will be a more simple liturgical example than Pope Benedict, I do not think that it will serve him well to return to a "Piero" style of liturgy.  That ship sailed with the passing of Pope Bl. John Paul II.  We are clearly in a time of reform with regard to the Mass.  To simply ignore that is to miss the point of an entire pontificate.  Pope Benedict's legacy is one which will be far reaching and it's influence can be seen in men such as Fr. Christopher Smith, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, (Arch) Bishop Alex Sample, and Bishop Edward Slattery.  We must press the flesh when it comes to continuing the work of the hermeneutic of continuity.  Papa Francesco should not ignore that.  If he does, however, we go into a sort of holding pattern, where we (who are liturgically minded) wait. My friend Shawn Tribe made a very salient point the other day at his blog, The New Liturgical Movement, when he said;

In this regard I can only offer my encouragement that you forge on with the movement that was seeded and fathered by Pope Benedict XVI but which was always destined to have to outlive his own particular papacy, not to mention many others. Take courage in that reality and realize that we could never expect this to be simply handed to us from on high (a source of frustration for some even under the last pontificate). Tools were given as we still have those tools; now we need to utilize them and from them draw out further gains and progress. All of the tools and gains we have seen, from the new English translation of the modern Roman missal, to Summorum Pontificum and the Ordinariate, to all of the grassroots resources that have sprung up to help people learn to sing the propers again and so on, none of these things have ceased to exist; nor have they become redundant. Far from it. Our task is clear: like a gardener we must now tend to the garden, watering and fertilizing those those seeds and tending to the green shoots. Let's focus on the tasks at hand, for the success and future of the new liturgical movement is not opened for us solely by the keys of Peter (which have already opened much for us as I have already said), but also by the keys of every parish priest within his parish, every religious within their monastery or religious house, and every layman within their own domestic church.
I think that Shawn's words are very poignant, especially with the allusion to being gardeners.  This is going to be my view to take as well.  Shawn says a little earlier in that same post;
Benedict, while the "father of the new liturgical movement" (in my estimation at any rate), is not the new liturgical movement; as such the new liturgical movement does not die with the end of his papacy. No, the new liturgical movement is not based on a person or personality; the new liturgical movement set in motion by him is just that: it is a movement and one based on liturgical first principles.
 We must continue the work unceasingly.  With men like Mr. Tribe, Frs. Smith and Zuhlsdorf, as well as bishops like H.E. Sample and Slattery, we will find our way.  And it will be a liturgical first principle.

Somehow, I don't see this pontificate focusing on the liturgy.  I see it focusing on a call to holiness in a different sphere of focus.  The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and the liturgical action is the vehicle to that, as my mentor Mons. Richard Schuler used to say.  My prayer is that as Papa Francesco's pontificate evolves, he will embrace the New Liturgical Movement fully and that he won't forgo anything.

Noble simplicity lies in the Mass, but simplicity for the sake of simplicity does not.  Viva il Papa!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Please join me in praying a Ave, Pater, Gloria for the Cardinal electors.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Catholics, Homosexuals, and the Priesthood

There is an ongoing debate within the Church today regarding homosexual priests and their fitness regarding their ministry.  What I am about to blog about is not "kosher."  What I am about to blog about is not easy and it is not for young children to read.  But it is a view which has some merit.

What is a priest's role?  How does a priest relate to the Church, to the parish and to the parishoners?  This is a question that for centuries was taken for granted.  However, since the middle 20th century it has become a much more difficult question to ask and it has become a much more difficult question to answer.

When we look at the priesthood, there are a couple of factors that we must take into account.  I will look at each of them individually, the first being the vocation itself.  When a man becomes a priest what does he become?  He becomes, before all other things an alter Christus.  He acts in persona Christi at several points in his priesthood and hopefully on a very regular basis.  How?  By marrying the Church.  If Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is His bride, then the priest takes on the role of groom and he marries the Church.  That is how the relationship between priest and Church must exist, that is Christological and it is also the reason why a priest is called Father.  For if the the Church is our Mother (ie. Holy Mother Church) and the priest acts "in persona Christi" then he is the Father and it makes perfect sense.  It is logical.

The second factor is celibacy.  What is celibacy for a priest?  It really isn't a very difficult concept, but it is made much moreso because of today's climate in society.  Celibacy is a sacrifice.  But a sacrifice of what?  It is the sacrifice of a man (the priest) marrying and having a family.  That is what celibacy is.  In that vein, it is governed by chastity.  Because in the legal sense a priest forgoes marriage and a family, he must not engage in sexual actions.  That is the chaste thing to do.  So they are intertwined, but they are very separate, at the same time.

The debate is now, does a homosexual have the right to be a priest.  I argue no, he does not.  Why?  Because as I have just laid out, the priesthood is designed (by God) for a heterosexual man.  Gays cannot enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony.  They cannot marry.  It is simple.  If a gay cannot marry, then he cannot rightly enter into the covenant which is formed through Holy Orders.

Secondly and much more importantly, a gay is not celibate.  For the gay man it is not a sacrifice to forgo a wife and family.  He is gay.  The gay man has no desire to have a wife.  If he has no desire to have a wife, then there is nothing given up.  It would be akin to me saying, "I'm giving up tomato soup for Lent."  I hate tomato soup.  I can't stand it.  For me to give up tomato soup for Lent is not a sacrifice and there is no merit in it.  For the gay man, he has an aversion to marrying a wife and having a family.  There is no merit in him being celibate.

The institution of the priesthood is not founded upon homosexuality.  It is founded upon heterosexuality.  When we speak of a married clergy or when we speak of a celibate clergy, we're not speaking about homosexual priests.  The Church has always taught that the priest will be a man.  The Church has always taught that the priest will be a heterosexual man, because certain parameters must be met in his vocation.  The gay man is incompatible with the priesthood, precisely because he is gay.  Bottom line.  The priesthood cannot be founded upon that inclination which is intrinsically evil.  If you look toward the Catechism of the Catholic Church, you'll see that between CCC 915; CCC 1544-1584; CCC 2349; CCC 2357-2379, the genesis of this post is founded.

There is a place for homosexuals in the Church, because there is room for all men in the Church, but there isn't room in the ministerial priesthood for a homosexual, because he is not rightly disposed to be a Catholic priest.  But then again, most Catholics are not called to be priests, so the gay man shouldn't feel slighted by that, but rather he should find what his right vocation is in the Church and give his greatest glory to God in that manner.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Let the Purge Begin

In light of the latest regarding Cardinal O'Brien from Scotland; I say, "LET THE PURGE BEGIN!"

I am of the opinion that if a deacon, priest, or bishop is accused of a crime he should be immediately removed from office and sequestered into a convent or monastery until such time as his innocence can be proved.  If it cannot be proved, then he should remain in said monastery or convent indefinitely with a mandate to do two things, say Holy Mass and pray.

We do not live in an age where chances or the benefit of the doubt can be given any longer.  Every Archdiocese, Diocese, and Eparchy in the Catholic world must run above board and there can be nothing which can cause scandal.

There will be more to come out.  Of that I am sure.  This is not the end, but it is a good thing.  We must relieve the priesthood of any and all criminal predators, whatever the stripe.

The answer is clear though to solve this issue which exists in the Church today.  We must start teaching sexual temperance and we must start living in a temperant way.  This means that we must do all we can to snuff out several things:

(caveat: when I speak of priest, I include all three levels, deacon/priest/bishop)

1.  Active homosexuality within the priesthood.  We cannot control the inner dispositions of another, so if he does not disclose that he his homosexual, there is nothing which can be done until such time as it is discovered.  However, any and all active homosexual activity must end immediately.  This ranges from identifying as homosexual all the way to actively living the lifestyle.

2.  Disobedience regarding celibacy.  Priests must embrace the charism of celibacy.  I know that it is not an infallible teaching of the Church, but it doesn't need to be.  The great graces attained from a celibate lifestyle are immeasurable.  But that really is secondary in the argument.  The bigger impediment to Holy Orders is Matrimony.  I believe that a priest should have the freedom to exercise his ministry without the bonds of marriage.  This is where the charism really lies.  Insofar as this is the case, celibacy falls in line because for a single person the chaste action is celibacy.

3.  We must demand, absolutely demand that our clergy be chaste.  There should be a zero-tolerance policy in this arena.  If a priest is found to be unchaste, off to the monestary or convent he goes.

I firmly believe that the diaconate should be closed to married men.  The charism of celibacy is too important for the priesthood to allow marriage to be a distraction.  Deacons are too closely related to the priest to be permitted.  The role of the permanent deacon is an experiment which is failing.  They are underutilized and they are ineffective, in most places.

I know this will upset many, but the reality is that the permanent deacon is nothing more than the embodiment of the flawed post-Vatican Council II notion of participatio activa trumping true and meaningful participatio actuosa.  The role of a permanent deacon in today's world is nothing more than a liturgical minister.  It has been my experience that in 99.9% of cases and in all but one parish, that the permanent deacon assists at Holy Mass, takes Holy Communion to the sick and that's about it.  But then again, laymen do the very same thing.

The other side of that coin is that it is the first step in legitimizing a married priesthood and that is unacceptable, as a general rule (This excludes the East, btw).  The charism of celibacy is compromised.

This is my opinion and anyone is free to disagree, but I would ask them to prove why it is so.

4.  His place of solace and comfort should be one of two places, either a monestary or convent.  If the priest identifies as gay, he should be sent to minister to a convent, wherein his temptations will be lessened because he will not be around other men.  He would live a cloistered life and he would offer the Sacraments to the sisters as well as live the rest of his life in solitude and prayer.  If a priest is accused/convicted of any other crime, he should be placed in a monestary, where he can say Holy Mass and live a life of solitude and prayer.

The time for action is now.  We cannot wait any longer.  Bishops must, absolutely must choose those men who are free from the bonds of deviant sexual behavior, homosexual or heterosexual.  Bishops must give men an honest shot to get through seminary and finally bishops must promote vocations to the priesthood as a valued way of life.  It is not easy and there is much self giving as well as self denial, but in the end it will cause a boom in vocations.

In short, the priesthood must return to a chaste state.  The key is chastity and we must start teaching it and living it.  It must start at home and it must continue until such time as the world ends.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Hello All,

I am posting a quick reminder that module #2 for the Basic Catechist Course is this Sunday evening @ 7pm.  It will be at St. Mary's in Humboldt, Iowa.

If you are able, we'd love to see you there.  If not, please pray for those who are coming to the course.  They are on a journey which should deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith.

Thank you.

Holy Water and Lent

This is a total rip-off, but to be honest I don't really care.  It is a good reminder:

In recent years, some parishes have taken the holy water out of the holy water fonts during Lent. They have even filled them with sand in some cases.
The idea, they say, is to convey the thought that Lent is a time of spiritual dryness--a "desert" experience--that precedes Easter, in which we refrain from using the sacramental of holy water.
Despite its popularity in some places, this practice is not permitted.
It has been the Church's practice to empty the holy water fonts during Triduum, but for a different reason. It is not permitted to have them empty through the whole season of Lent.
The Congregation for Divine Worship has stated:
This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:
1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being "praeter legem" [i.e., "apart from the law"] is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.
2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the sacraments is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. 
The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday) [3/14/03: Prot. N. 569/00/L].


Thursday, February 14, 2013

An Insight into the Liturgical Movement

I am reposting an article written by my friend, Fr. Christopher Smith.  Please read:

The Unfinished Liturgical Work of Benedict XVI
Posted by Revd Fr Christopher Smith

One of the things that I hoped against hope for during the pontificate of Benedict XVI was an encyclical on the liturgy marking the 50th anniversary of Sacrosanctum concilium.  That will now never come to pass.  Only the future can tell how much the liturgical theology of Joseph Ratzinger will continue to enter into the life of the Church via the Roman Magisterium.  That liturgical theology, of course, is itself the heir of the classical Liturgical Movement, applied to the problems of today in such a way as to herald a New Liturgical Movement.  This renewal movement, like its early 20th century predecessor, has not been a uniform one by any stretch of the imagination.  But it clearly reflects the thought of Joseph Ratzinger.

But there are also some significant lacunae that present themselves at the end of this papacy as well, that his successor will have to in some way address.  There is much in Ratzinger’s theology, which never saw itself translated into anything concrete via the munus regendi of the Roman Pontiff and the Curia.  There are other things which found their counterpart in things the Pope did by way of example, but were never enshrined in any other way.  A question burning in the hearts of many a disciple of the Pope of the Liturgy is whether any of those things will find their way into the next pontificate.  Or will they remain as they were in the papacy of Benedict XVI: quiet provocations to thoughtful people to integrate them into the ars celebrandi, not by force but by their intrinsic worth becoming more visible (or not) with time?  It can also be asked, and must be, whether the Reform of the Reform was a “quixotic movement doomed to extinction” as a priest friend once said of the Traditionalist Movement, a force which will lose its guiding star, fading before the burning sun of secularist might?  Or is now the moment of its greatest epiphany, as Pope Benedict leaves to his followers the shadow of a blueprint for how to go about it all?

I don’t think anyone can adequately answer these questions.  But we can look at the work that has been done in the years of Pope Benedict’s papacy and then surmise what is left to accomplish if we are to advance the goals of the New Liturgical Movement.      

Reorientation of the Liturgy

If I had to say what I thought is the single most important accomplishment of Pope Benedict’s liturgical magisterium, I would have to say the reorientation of the liturgy.  That might surprise you.  After all, the only public papal ad orientem celebrations were on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, in the context of what otherwise might have been an ordinary Italian Novus Ordo parish Mass.  No edict issued forth from Rome encouraging the type of celebration that Klaus Gamber and Joseph Ratzinger argued had an inherent and irreducible liturgical symbolic weight.  What has come to be called the Benedictine arrangement, which in reality is just the post-Tridentine arrangment of cross and candles on altars in Roman Basilicas where a confessio precluded celebration of the Mass in front of the altar, appeared in the papal liturgy and was imitated all over the world.  It had no legal force behind it.

But Ratzinger/Benedict was very clear on the christological orientation of the Sacred Liturgy.  The Mass had to be oriented towards the Christ of the Paschal Mystery.  His insistence on this principal was a needed corrective to a one-sided emphasis on self-celebrating community and the meal aspect of the Mass.  It serves to reduce the temptation of clerical presiders to be protagonists in creating the liturgy, and puts priests and liturgy commissariat apparatchniks in their place, which is not in the center of the celebration, but in its service.

Yet how is this principle translated into action?  It is foremost a spiritual principle which can be made visible in liturgical celebration in various ways.  The challenge for the future is that, now that more and more celebrants are choosing to celebrate the Mass facing what is now described as liturgical East, will it remain an eccentric option able to be marginalized, and hence manipulable by those who claim it causes division?  Will it grow unencumbered by discriminatory retributions on the part of those who despise it in principle and in action?  Or will a future edict of the Pope, the Congregation for Divine Worship, or Bishops’ Conferences mandate or proscribe it?

Leadership from on high will be needed if the movement towards ad orientem worship is going to contribute to the unity of the Church and not detract from it.  And that leadership cannot ignore the fundamental Christ-centered liturgical action of Benedict’s teaching.

Two Forms of the Roman Rite

The 2007 document Summorum pontificum and its 2011 follow-up Universae ecclesiae introduced a radically new notion into the life, and the law, of the Church.  The Roman Rite was henceforth to consist of two forms, an ordinary one (the 1970 Missal of Paul VI) and an extraordinary one (the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII).  This declaration is unparalleled in the history of the Church.

But what has it actually done?  First of all, it has removed the stigma that ambiguously marked millions of Catholics who were attracted to the classical form of the Roman Rite.  No longer second-class citizens, traditionalist-minded faithful all of a sudden found themselves (at least most of them) no longer questioned for their loyalty to the Church.  What’s more, the traditionalist critique of men such as Lefebvre and Siri and their heirs has once more began to be heard in the open, and no longer in secret enclaves.  Whether this should be the case or not, it is, and a newer generation of clergy and young people are asking questions that were stifled only a decade ago.

Second, it has enshrined the principle that there is such a thing as legitimate liturgical diversity even within the one Roman Rite.  This has been used to free other ancient uses as well, such as the rites of the religious orders, and can be applied also to other historic uses.

Third, it puts the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, and the pre-reformed rites, front and center in the Church’s life again. It is no longer marginalized, and cannot be.  The steady increase of the older missal’s adoption marks a new stage in the faithful’s expectations of liturgy.

Yet, since the proclamation has done all these things, it also brings up numerous unresolved issues.  Will the Church revisit Vatican II and seek out its authentic interpretation?  How will the Church do this?  By another council, by the Synod of Bishops, by theologians laboring to bring it forth, by Roman decree?  How can the traditionalist critique that the liturgical reform was a rupture be integrated into a Church which has been oriented by Benedict XVI to seek out a hermenutic of continuity?

The diversity of the Roman Rite also presents its own challenges.  Does that diversity only apply to preconciliar expressions of worship, or can it also apply to things like the Zairian Rite, the newer liturgical customs of individual monasteries, LifeTeen Masses and the Neocatechumenal Way?  In what does the Roman Rite consist now?

Greater access to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII also has had the effect of raising some searching questions about the preconciliar liturgical reform.  How will the Church address the growing momentum to reconsider the reforms of the Pontifical and Holy Week before Vatican II, and liberate the usage of previous forms of them?  Likewise, how will the Church address the ways in which Liturgiam authenticam inspired translations of the Ordinary Form which have not always been received well by liturgists and pewsitters alike and through processes which have not always been accepted by them either?  Will any of the indications of Sacrosanctum concilium, such as the use of the vernacular, be brought to bear on the Extraordinary Form?

Pastors, theologians and liturgists have a weighty task now in evaluating how the christological reorientation of the liturgy in this papacy, and its accompanying recontextualizing of the Roman Rite, looks in practice.

Reform of the Reform

Ratzinger had indicated that the time was propitious for there to be a Reform of the Reform.  But in what does that consist?  For all of the rumoring of various propositions that were supposed to be coming out of the Vatican which would give flesh to a Reform of the Reform, nothing has ever seen the light of day.  Did Pope Benedict have a Marshall Plan for the reform of the liturgy, or was that a fanciful notion driven by wishful thinking and some inside knowledge?  Regardless, the motor which drove forward the whole project, the person of Pope Benedict XVI, has now been removed from the vehicle of the liturgy.  Can that motor be replaced by another charismatic person who understands what must be done, or by a series of liturgical and legal proposals to bring the liturgy to a state of what would make its Christocentric nature more apparent?

“Something must be done” has been on the lips of many Catholics about the liturgy for a very long time.  But the question now becomes what that something is, and how it can be done in a way so as to not compromise the unity of a Church which finds itself pressured from inside and out by dividing forces?

Can the proposals for how the liturgy should be reformed enter into a dialogue with the whole Church, with theologians, liturgists, pastors or lay faithful?  Or will they be imposed by the hierarchy?  Will their imposition by the hierarchy yield long-time benefits despite short-term discomfiture?  When do the Pope, the Curia, Bishops and pastors know the time is right to advance the Reform of the Reform, and in what does it consist?

Mutual Enrichment

The placement side by side of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Missal was done with a hopeful view to mutual enrichment.  Some people have claimed that such enrichment has been too one-sided.  How are the two Missals supposed to enrich each other?  How can they do so if the mixing of the two forms is forbidden?  Is there a tertium quid which will recognize the merits of both and combine them in some fashion into a once again unified Roman rite?

Sacred Art and Music

The Liturgical Art and Sacred Music Commission of the Congregation for Divine Worship has been formed under the leadership of the Pope.  But what is its competency?  What is it supposed to do and how can it be used as a tool for the Reform of the Reform?  Will black lists of music and art be published, or will general guidelines for the arts in church be crafted?  How can they take into account what actually exists in the Church and the many different situations in which the Church’s worship is celebrated throughout the world?  Will the Congregation for Divine Worship oversee the Reform of the Reform as Consilium did the original reform?  How will the new commission be integrated into that project, if it ever sees the light of day?


Theologians and liturgists continue to puzzle over the guiding principles of inculturation in various spheres of the Church’s life: theology, liturgy, discipline, clerical formation, and more.  They also continue to puzzle over what that looks like in the concrete.  Where are the boundaries of such inculturation?  What limits do Revelation, canon law, or common sense impose on the experimentation which drives inculturation?  Will inculturation increase the diversity of the Roman Rite, or will there cease to be a recognizable Roman Rite?  Does inculturation apply only to mission countries in the developing world, or is there a sense in which the nations of Old Christendom need their own inculturation of the Gospel as well?


The Pope, in all of his thought on the liturgy, avoids discussion of minute details of how the liturgy should be celebrated.  An exaggerated rubricism seems hardly amenable to the spirit of the times, but how does the papal vision look when it is celebrated according to the principles which guide it?  If it is up to individual interpretation, it is hard to see how the liturgy can remain a unifying factor in the Church’s life.  The Reform of the Reform advanced in an individualistic way can risk the same type of protagonism alien to Benedict’s conception of the ars celebrandi.  Greater guidance is needed from the Roman Curia on how to craft a workable ceremonial which incarnates the principles.  Greater guidance is needed to see how such a ceremonial may be adapted to the different situations in which the Church worships.  Is it too much to hope that a new General Instruction of the Roman Missal and an accompanying Ceremoniale Presbyterorum, rich in catechetical and theological depth alongside the necessary rubrics, may end the stop-and-go gradual transformation of the liturgy according to Benedictine principles and create a harmonious whole for the Ordinary Form just as the old books did for the Tridentine liturgy?

Reception of Holy Communion

The various indults allowing Communion in the hand have continued to exist and be granted, even in the papacy of Pope Benedict.  The norms for the reception and distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds remain what they are according to the third typical edition of the Roman Missal.  The norms for standing and kneeling remain what they are.  Yet, Pope Benedict himself chose to distribute Holy Communion to communicants who knelt at a prie-Dieu and received under the form of bread alone and directly on the tongue.  This mode of reception of Holy Communion, so closely associated with preconciliar practice and the rubrics of the Extraordinary Form, was clearly preferred by Pope Benedict XVI.  Books like that Athanasius Schneider’s Dominus est! provide a loud call for a return to that mode of reception.

In what sense can that mode be called traditional and preferred when there are many counterindications to its perduring historical presence?  What does it mean when the Roman Pontiff mandates it at his Masses, does not allow those receiving at his Masses to exercise all of the options allowed to them by liturgical law and at the hands of every other celebrant in the Roman Church, and clearly prefers it?  Do other modes merely indicate greater diversity in liturgical practice, and are they helpful for unity in worship?

The way in which Pope Benedict XVI distributed Holy Communion at his Masses reflects much of the thought in traditionalist and Reform of the Reform quarters, and goes against everything the Liturgical Establishment has said for 50 years should be the norm.  Perhaps during this Year of Faith there can be a reflection on how modes of distribution of Holy Communion should be located in the context of what it means to be properly disposed to receive, and how they have positively or negatively affected faith in the Real Presence.  It is time to address whether, and to what extent, Communion in the hand, Communion under both species, and Extraordinary Ministers have contributed to the growing crisis of faith.  It is also time to address whether aspects of the liturgical celebration, such as the mode of reception, should be conformed to the practice of the early Church, to pre-Vatican II practice, or to current needs, especially in light of confusion as to sacramental theology.  For decades now the Roman Magisterium has urged proper catechesis to go along with what has become accepted practice in many places for the current modes, but can a case be made for the modes themselves obviating or obscuring what is done in the catechesis?

Also, given that we have this struggle between norms in liturgical books and indults, local exceptions and eccentric practices, is it too much to ask that the Roman Magisterium clarify or mandate one form of reception for Holy Communion for the Roman Rite?  If Holy Communion is supposed to be a sign par excellence of the unity of the Body of Christ, can this bewildering diversity of practices in the modes of reception of Holy Communion really manifest and help preserve that unity?

Papal Liturgy and the Roman Tradition

People for centuries have looked to Rome for how to celebrate liturgy (or how not to, as well).  Modern media have made it possible for everyone to analyze and imitate (or react against) what they see, particularly at papal liturgies.  The aesthetic cultivated under Pope Paul VI and Virgilio Noë became a standard for what the post-conciliar liturgy should look like, and how it should be celebrated.  Continuing under Bl. John Paul II and Piero Marini, this aesthetic formed opinions about how the reformed rites should be celebrated.

Under Pope Benedict XVI, however, something different has happened.  While the Noë look continues to a certain extent in the Vatican Basilica liturgies and in international celebrations, there has been a progressive adoption, at least in papal liturgies at the Roman Basilicas, of an ars celebrandi, from vesture and vestments to interpretation of rites, which to many recalls the papal liturgy before the Second Vatican Council.  To those who live outside the clerical culture of Italy, this has become a source of concern.  Many have interpreted it as a symbolic repudiation of the ecclesiology and liturgical reform of Vatican II.  Some have charged that it is a return to triumphalism, mediated by the restoration of a style associated with the now-abolished Papal Court and too tied to Baroque ceremonial traditions.  While many of those who make these comments are of a reformist, self-identifying liberal bent, this is not the case of all of the detractors.

Even conservative columnist George Weigel in his recent book Evangelical Catholicism identifies this trend with what he sees as “Counter-Reformation Catholicism” whose time has come and gone, and is no longer applicable to today’s needs.  As more and more younger clergy reproduce this new/old style in their own spheres, he intimates that it is “precious” and “prissy” and must be rejected as an unwelcome effeminate accretion to the liturgy.

It can be easy for critics of this Benedictine style to charge that these elements are all exercises in “retro-liturgy.”  Because many people associate so-called fiddleback chasubles, lace albs and surplices and birettas with the pre-Noë aesthetic, they also surmise that their use is evidence, at best, of nostalgia, and at worst, of moral degeneracy.

Yet, outside of the Vatican, these same things are not interpreted, at least in Italian clerical circles, the same way.  The dichotomy applied to them is not liberal/traditionalist, but antico/moderno.  The choice for their use depends on a complicated calculus which includes the aesthetic of the church building (are you in a Baroque building, a Bauhaus church, or a Neo-Gothic chapel), the degree of solemnity (is it a feria of Lent or is it Easter Sunday), and the rank of the celebrant (is it a permanent deacon doing a Baptism or the Pope at a canonization).  While to outsiders, it may seem entirely too much falderol, it does represent a certain continuity with what came before.  It is a cultural thing which is peculiarly Roman, and has little to do with ecclesiology and liturgical questions in se.

The Roman basilica aesthetic and ars celebrandi is a tradition which has been handed down.  Gromier and Dante’s cultivation of it had its successor in Franck Quoëx’s application of it to the Extraordinary Form in our time and in Guido Marini’s reapplication of it, d’après la scuola liturgica siriana-genovese, to the papal liturgy.

But is the cultivation of this style in the Benedictine papacy a secret attempt to force effete nostalgia via Counter Reformation frocks upon an unwilling Pilgrim Church?  Is it an exercise in the hermeneutic of continuity, by stressing that the post-Vatican II papacy is in communion with that, both of Paul VI and Pius XII, at least in some visible way?  Is it simply bringing forth things new and old from the Church’s storehouse?  Or is it just a sign that polyester is out and brocade is back in?  And why have many younger people, particularly clergy, responded so enthusiastically to it?

Part of this question also involves concrete actions which have a symbolic weight.  Until recently, the Pope in the reformed liturgy was the only person who did not wear a Eucharistic vestment proper to his rank.  The restoration of the fanon brought back an important liturgical principle.  That action was rejected by many, because they depart from an esentially conciliarist principle that the Pope is really primus inter pares, and if anything should dress like any other Bishop, or any other Christian.  Difference is interpreted as a sign of willful clericalist discrimination.  Or the fanon is seen as an incomprehensible piece of nostalgia for people who like dressing up.

In reality, the fanon is the liturgical complement to the nota previa to Lumen gentium.  Just as the conciliar constitution on the Church had to have an appendage to salvage a proper understanding of the Roman papacy against the just clarification of the episcopal office by Vatican II, the fanon underscores the papal office against the anti-papal court style of the reformed rites.

Even though the Holy Father himself neverly celebrated the Extraordinary Form publicly, his unleashing of Summorum pontificum has led to a renewal of interest in both the papal and pontifical forms of that liturgy.  But that has led to some thorny issues.  Are celebrations of Bishops and the Pope in the Extraordinary Form to be brought in line with Pontificalis Domus of 1968, for example?  Are they subject to the 1983 Code of Canon Law (forbidding Mass coram  Or are they carried out according to the terms of the old liturgical books without reference to current legislation?  The fact that these are happening is already leading to calls for a revision of the austere pruning of Pontificalis Domus and the gutting of the Pontifical and Ceremonial in the revised rites.

In short, is the reappropriation of certain elements of Roman Basilica style in this reign a blip on the screen?  Were they just pushed by the private taste of Marini II and Gänswein?  Or are they part and parcel of a Reform of the Reform which will continue on into the next pontificate?


Nobody doubts that Ratzinger’s rich teaching and Benedict’s beautiful practice of the liturgy has been tremendously influential in a brief space of time.  But has it had time to take root, and will it be appreciated and advanced in the next pontificate?  The liturgy in our time is in a delicate situation, in a time of transition.  Only the Spirit can say how the next generation will engage the Sacred Liturgy, and whether Benedict’s unfinished work will morph into an enduring legacy.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Francis Card. Arinze's Response to Benedict XVI

This is a great response.  Please watch and listen.

Papa Ratzinger

So, we've all had time to take in the news now.  Let's all take a deep breath and remember one all important thing, this isn't anything new.  The Church has a protocol in place for this.  When one has been around as long as the Church has been, everything is forseen.  While the faithful may not expect it, the Church is prepared.  She will endure, just as she always has.

That being said, I can honestly say that I wasn't surprised.  I know that I said this yesterday, but in reality I wasn't.  I don't like it, but then again it isn't up to me.  I constantly say that the Church is eternal and speaking liturgically that we must lean on the 2000 year history of the Church.  This is no different.  Popes pass through time.  Popes come.  Popes go.  I am no more attached to the man who is Pope than I am to any other priest.  My faith is not bound by one person.  It shouldn't be.  So, Papa Ratzinger resigns, abdicates, retires, whatever it is called, by whomever is calling it.  My response is this....the Holy Spirit will guide the next man in matters of Faith.  I am not concerned.

I am concerned about the politics.  I have a clear vision of what Pope Benedict wanted, but as I have also said several times, he was not the man to do it.  He is an academic.  He works in the hypothetical.  It is my (personal) hope that the next pontiff will enact what this pontiff has taught.  But, then again, if you've been reading my blog, that isn't anything new either.

My view is this...that the next Pope will continue the work of Benedict.  My prayer is this...that he is just, that he is faithful, and that he will follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  To the next man who is elevated to the papacy, TU ES PETRUS.

One final thing...for these pundits who think that Papa Ratzinger didn't have a chance.  He did more in his 8 years as Pope to strengthen the life of the Church than the previous 2 Popes combined.  In my estimation, Benedict was a good pontiff.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI

I think that before we get all bent out of shape we should take a look at a couple of factors...but, before I make my listings, we should pray for His Holiness that his mind is clear and his mind is free.  At this point, I pray to the Holy Spirit:  Veni Sancte Spiritus, tui amoris ignem accende in pontificem.

1.  The Holy Father said of his predecessor that if his health were to deteriorate any further he should resign.  He said that in '02.

2.  The Holy Father's health has been bad for a long time.  He has had bone breaks, strokes, etc...

3.  It is clear that he didn't ever want to be pope.  While this means very little, because he accepted the role, it does speak to his mindset.

4.  He has worked his entire pontificate to centralize the curia and to bolster the number of Italian cardinals, it would seem that he is trying to bring the pontificate back to an Italian, but this again, means very little.

5.  The Church will endure.  This isn't unprecedented, it just hasn't happened since 1415, as Marc said.  I think that it might be worth exploring Marc's post though, because I agree that there are some HUGE theological consequences in the offing.

My speculation is will be a moderate Italian.  I don't see a flaming liberal and I don't see a traddy.  I see the status quo being continued and I see it being a man probably who will reign somewhere in the area of 10 years.  I don't think the college wants a long pontificate, and I don't think that an aged man will suffice either.  This will be via media....

As for St. Malachy....don't buy it, not even for a second.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Valid Does NOT Equal Good

In my ongoing conversation with a priest, the following was said;

The Reform in Continuity new liturgical movement is very, very different than what Vatican II did in terms of a shoving of a particular vision of it down everyone's throat in a lockstep fashion in the 1960's (in other words, Vatican II implemented in a pre-Vatican II way).
The renewal that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is implementing is one of invitation and giving example but not mandating. And it is catching on around the world, maybe not like wildfire, but it is catching on like the small mustard seed that is sprouting into some that will be very big and very grand.
For example, I would have never thought 5 years ago that we would have one Sunday Mass ad orientem for the Ordinary Form, that we would be celebrating the older Tridentine Mass and that people would have the personal choice to either stand or kneel comfortably at a kneeler for Holy Communion and that intinction would be as well received as it has been.
All of this is liturgical renewal without forcing anyone into a lockstep across the board. And what I have seen in my parish is that more and more people (not all certainly) are choosing to kneel as they witness others doing it. And yes there is a developing sense of a recovered piety and reverence at Mass not experienced since Vatican II!

I think that the impotice for this falls on something that Archbishop-elect Sample said in his interview, " fondness for the Tridentine liturgy is not based in nostalgia. Having been exposed to it, I’ve gained a great appreciation for it."

This, I think is key. For the majority of Catholics today who are either adhering or becoming adherents to the TLM; we see that they are not 53 or older, but rather they are almost all product of the post-conciliar era. This speaks volumes.

I think the other point he makes is related to this and speaks as much to the mindset as anything said in the last 10 years or so. His Excellency says, "I believe that Pope Benedict wants the Extraordinary Form of the Mass to influence liturgical reform, to lead to a reform of the reform, because in some areas we’ve gotten off track."

The bottom line is, in my estimation, that we're not going to find the answer in the Mass that we currently call the OF or Novus Ordo. It is too far gone. I think that the innovations must go. This includes everything from orientation, to language, to music, to use of extraordinary ministers, to ceremonials.

The Mass should be retired to the annals of history. It is, as the Holy Father states, " the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over the centuries and replaced it — as in a manufacturing process — with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product."

While it is valid, validity doesn't equal goodness. When the abuse overrides the validity, then it is time to return.

This is a good example: let's say I go to confession to a priest of the parish next to my home parish. I confess that I have been having an affair with my next door neighbor (who is stupid hot and incredibly single). Father gives me absolution after I make a good confession. As I'm praying my penance, Father comes up to me and says, you've prayed enough, I completely understand your situation, your wife deserved it, everyone knows she's a b**ch anyhow, then sends me on my way as he locks up church. The sacrament was valid, but the deficiency caused by the abuse lessens the grace and efficacy of the Sacrament.

THE VERY SAME THING APPLIES TO THE NOVUS ORDO. The perversion of the Mass, by Paul VI, Bugnini, and the Consilium may be valid, but the deficiency caused by the abuse lessens the grace and efficacy of the Sacrament.

We must return to the TLM, ditch the Novus Ordo and then we can start an authentic "Reform of the Reform," if that is still in the cards. Who knows...maybe that horse has left the barn and a reform isn't needed, just a restoration. Now there's a thought, huh?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Last night, I watched a documentary entitled "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God."

It was a very eye opening and a very sobering documentary to watch.  I was disturbed, I was left questioning, and I was left with a new resolution.  I know that this isn't what the liberals are going to want to hear, but it is actually quite a clear statement.

First;  WE MUST SHOW AUTHENTIC CHARITY TO THE VICITIMS OF THE SEXUAL ABUSE SCANDAL IN THE CHURCH!!!!!  This isn't a negotiable and this is what absolutely MUST happen before anything else.  They were victims, they are victims and they deserve all the solace the Church can muster.

Next, we must show true justice toward the priests who committed these heinous acts.  The story focuses mainly on one, but there are thousands of others.  I am of the opinion that the priests who commit these crimes should be punished first through the court system and then once that is completed they should be remanded to a cloistered monestary where they can live out their days in solitude, penance and prayer.  They have undergone an ontological change (that is not a heresy, as claimed in the documentary) and they are unique men; their prayers can do wonders, and priests should pray before all else.

Next, I think that there are a couple of glaring things, the slant of the documentary is biased.  I think that if it were presented on an even level, then we could see both sides, however that isn't how it was portrayed.  It was portrayed as the Church is evil and that the Church is evil.  That isn't the case.  The Church isn't evil.  Certain men inside the Church are evil.  These men, who have been in control for the better part of a century now have created perception of the Church which is not accurate.  If the Church is made up of the people inside it, then the documentary writers are calling you and me and every other Catholic evil.  No.  We. Are. Not.

The answer doesn't lie in changing the Church.  The answer lies in changing the men.  And as of late, the Church is trying to do this.  The measures put in place since the scandal broke try to address this, although it is still in it's infancy.  There has to be time given to implement these actions.  The problem didn't start over night and the problem won't be fixed over night.  But a good first step would be for the leadership to be honest with themselves.   Bishops MUST stop with the omerta.  They must start being more transparent.  I think that this is happening in pockets, but I think that a worldwide synod should be called and a definitive policy must be put into place.  Every bishop should be held to it and it should be a zero tolerance policy, starting now.  If a bishop doesn't comply, he should be held to the same remediation as the offending priest.  He should be remanded to a cloistered monestary and he should spend the rest of his days in solitude, penance and prayer.  One of the great things about the Church is that as long as there is a Pope, he can make new bishops and they can make new priests.  If a purge should come, then a purge should come.

Next, the leadership of the Church must work diligently to regain the trust of the faithful.  They must stand up and say BASTA!  Enough!  And then they must follow through on it.  Priests should not be afraid of their peers.  Bishops should not be afraid of Cardinals like Sodano and Bertone.  They should be able to accomplish all that they can in the time they have.

Finally, this won't sit well with the liberals or with SNAP or with any group which is similarly associated, but this documentary for all that it says; did one thing for me.  It resolved in my mind that I cannot give up on the Church, it's leaders, or the faithful around me.  I fully support the Papacy.  I fully support the episcopate.  I fully support the priesthood.  The resolve that I have found by watching this shows that man is fallible.  It shows that man can be mislead and that man does fall.  But it also shows that man can get back up.  The Church has seen dark days before and has come through.  The time of the Borgias, the time of implementing celibacy (which I still fully support, 1000000%), the time of the loss of the Papal States; all of these have led people astray and into darkness, but the Church has always seen us through.  And the Church will see us through this.

We are Catholics and our faith is not dependent on one man, or a few.  It is based upon 2000 years of teaching, tradition, and love of fellow man.  The Church is the means to salvation, but the leaders don't always see that.  It is time that we ask them to stand up!  It is time that we ask them be transparent!  And it is time for us to ask them to return to the traditional values which have stood since the dawn of Christianity and our Church!!  We have the tools, we just need to start using them again.

If a priest acts out, end it.  If a bishop covers it up, end it.  If a congregation ignores it, clear it out and start over.  This is why...absolutely why I opposed and still oppose the idea of the Pope not being a temporal monarch.  His authority must extend to ruling justly.  He is more than a spiritual leader, he is a temporal leader.  And at times he must exert himself.  Not ex cathedra, but a sede!  From the throne!

We must allow time to work through this.  My call is for those who are diligent to remain so.  My call is for those who are doing good work, to keep doing good work.  My call is that we cannot abandon the Church or her leaders in her greatest hour.  We must continue to hold them accountable, but we shouldn't lock them out.  They must be given the opportunity to change, and if they cannot, then they should be replaced.

Vocations will come.  Bishops must allow them.  Bishops will come, the Pope must vet them; not a Congregation, the Pope.  And the Signatura must do what is necessary to protect the faithful through careful application of justice.

In the end, the Church remains and I remain with her.  The leadership will pass, it always does, but the way to salvation remains.

Archbishop Sample: We're of the Same Mind

I am going to post an interview of Archbishop-elect Alexander Sample, now of the Archdiocese of Portland.    It is nice to see the mentality gaining steam....and now that His Excellency is in a place to do it, it is nice to see him follow through on the Monsignor's teachings....let's see how close Archbishop Sample and I are to one another in views.... (my emphasis is in red, through italics and through underlining)

Archbishop-elect Alexander Sample, 52, will be installed as the 11th archbishop of Portland, Oregon on April 2, succeeding the Most Reverend John Vlazny.  
Archbishop-elect Sample was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Marquette, located on the upper peninsula of Michigan, in 1990. He was consecrated Marquette’s bishop in 2006. At the time of his episcopal ordination, he was the youngest Catholic bishop in the US, and the first to be born in the 1960s.
Sample was born in Montana and grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, and attended Catholic schools there. Although he had thought about a vocation to the priesthood while growing up, he initially decided to pursue a career in engineering. He earned his BS and MS degrees in engineering before opting to go to seminary.
As a priest, he served in a variety of diocesan roles, including acting simultaneously as pastor of three small parishes. The Diocese of Marquette serves 50,000 Catholics, and has 55 active diocesan and religious order priests. The Archdiocese of Portland, by contrast, has 415,000 Catholics and 294 priests (including retired priests). It encompasses western Oregon.
Sample is known for his orthodoxy and fondness for a more traditional liturgy. And, according Marquette’s Director of Communications Loreene Koskey, Archbishop-elect Sample is “personable, intelligent, well-spoken, and likes to meet and talk with people.” She added that the promotion of Pope Benedict’s New Evangelization has been a hallmark of Archbishop-elect Sample’s episcopacy.  
Sample recently spoke to CWR.
Archbishop-elect Alexander Sample (Courtesy Diocese of Marquette)
CWR: Were you surprised to discover that you’d been named archbishop of Portland? 
Sample: Yes. The appointment of bishops is a process that is carried out in strict confidentiality. I had no idea I was being considered for Portland; the nuncio’s call to me informing me I had hit me out of the blue. It was quite a shock; it seems a little surreal.
It’s going to be a huge change, not only geographically but in terms of added responsibility. But I’m also excited. I’m inspired by challenges.
It is going to be hard to say goodbye to Marquette. It’s my home. I’ve served here 22 years as a priest, and seven as a bishop. I’m not an emotional person, but saying goodbye will be emotional.
CWR: Before your appointment, had you ever been to Portland before?
Sample: My father took me fishing there as a boy. Until my appointment, I had not been back as an adult. It’s funny, my mother and sister and I were thinking last year about going on vacation to Portland and Seattle.
CWR: The Archdiocese of Portland is home to Oregon Catholic Press, which produces missals and liturgical music materials used by two-thirds of our country’s Catholic churches. You have developed an interest in the liturgy—in fact, you’re writing a pastoral letter on the topic. Can you share with us some highlights of that letter?
Sample: Yes. It is on pastoral music, and is just being released. We just hired a new director of sacred music, and this will be his road map. It will be my last contribution to the life of the Church in Marquette.
In this letter I discuss the liturgical movement of the Church, what Vatican II said about liturgical music, documents released on the topic after Vatican II, as well as writings by popes about [liturgical music]. It is not my vision or my ideas; I try to present the Church’s vision.
It is clear that the Council calls for the liturgy to be sung. In recent decades we’ve adopted the practice of singing songs at Mass. We take the Mass, and attach four hymns or songs to it. But this is not the Church’s vision. We need to sing the Mass. It is meant to be sung. The texts of the Mass are meant to be sung.
The Church provides us with chant, which is integral to liturgy, and should inspire the music of the Mass. We need to get away from singing songs at Mass and return to singing the Mass. And Gregorian chant is best suited to the Mass. The new director I hired [in the Diocese of Marquette] will introduce chant. It will be a huge shift for the people.
I mean no criticism of our sacred musicians, who are very dedicated. It will be a shift for them as well.
And, in addition to Latin chant, we also need to introduce chant in English. Although the Second Vatican Council said that chant should be given “pride of place,” one rarely hears it in parishes. Music is an important part of celebrating the Mass. As Pope Benedict has said, if we get the music right, we’ll get the spirit of the Mass right.
CWR: Where have you seen liturgy and liturgical music done well?
Sample: The parishes I’ve visited have all different levels of quality of music. In my formative years, the liturgy at the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul, Minnesota, led by Msgr. Richard Schuler (1920-2007), was outstanding.  More recently, the liturgy and music at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the March for Life was spectacular.
CWR: You’ve been involved in ordinations for the Fraternity of St. Peter, which celebrates the traditional liturgy of the Roman rite. What do you like about the pre-Vatican II rite of the Mass, and will we be seeing more of it in Portland?
Sample: I appreciate the Tridentine liturgy. I am 100 percent a product of the Second Vatican Council, in that I grew up in its wake, and all my formation was post-Vatican II. Therefore, my fondness for the Tridentine liturgy is not based in nostalgia. Having been exposed to it, I’ve gained a great appreciation for it.
What sparked my interest in it was Pope Benedict’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum [granting greater freedom to priests to celebrate the older form of the liturgy]. I thought, “I’m a bishop of the Catholic Church, and it’s my responsibility to know how to celebrate Mass according to both the new and old rites.” I’ve learned the Tridentine liturgy, and have since celebrated three Pontifical High Masses and Masses for the Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King (in Florence, Italy).
I believe that Pope Benedict wants the Extraordinary Form of the Mass to influence liturgical reform, to lead to a reform of the reform, because in some areas we’ve gotten off track. He wants the pre-conciliar liturgy to help shape the new liturgy and help reconcile us with the past. If the Tridentine Mass was once beautiful, it cannot now be harmful.
The Tridentine Mass certainly has many strengths; for example, it clearly stresses the sacrificial nature of the Mass. It also draws many young people who did not grow up with it. They’re discovering their heritage and tradition. It’s providing them with something they’re not finding in the ordinary form. We need to pay attention to that.
When I arrive in Portland, I’ll find out the status of the Tridentine Mass, and see if there are stable groups who want it. As their archbishop, I’ll do what I can to make it available.
CWR: The Holy Father has encouraged the use of social media to promote the Faith. You tweet, do podcasts of your newspaper columns, and post videos on YouTube. What benefits have you personally seen in using new media to share the Gospel?
Sample: We’re reaching people where they are at. There are difficulties, as social media can be misused or overused, but this is a way people communicate today. This is where they are, and the Church needs to be there, breaking in to that world with the Gospel. I was initially reluctant to get involved with it, but I’ve been amazed to see all the people who are now following me.
Before it was announced that I was going to Portland, I had 1,200 Twitter followers. After the announcement, I had over 2,700. On my Facebook page, 880 people are friends. I use my Facebook page to share thoughts for the day, talk about the lives of the saints, or comment on things going on in the news. I even share some personal things, like some beautiful photos I took while mountain biking.
Social media has given me the opportunity to interact with people. I’m a teacher at heart, and I hope to teach them.
CWR: The Portland archdiocese declared bankruptcy in 2004, the first diocese to do so in the wake of the sex abuse scandals in the Church. Do you see Portland and other American dioceses moving away from this dark period in the Church’s history?
Sample: I’m optimistic. We’re going to have to live in the wake of what happened, and I hope it will lead to a purifying and strengthening of the Church. I was personally involved with meeting with the victims of sexual abuse and priests accused in the Diocese of Marquette. I served as the bishop’s representative. I can say it was heartbreaking.
When I hear people minimize the harm done to victims by saying something like, “That was 25 years ago, why bring it out now?”, I can say that you have no idea until you’ve spoken with these victims. Abuse is awful. What’s saddest is the spiritual damage done. The Church is supposed to be something people can trust, but an incident of abuse can destroy a victim’s faith. That, along with all the other harm done, is tragic.
But, I think we’re doing a good job providing a safe environment for children now. We’re taking steps to prevent abuse from happening again, and being careful to screen men who are candidates for Holy Orders to ensure that they’re healthy.
It is not a great consolation to me that the incidence of sexual abuse by priests is no higher than the general male population. Don’t we expect more from those who represent Christ in the priesthood? It is my hope that the Church going through the scandals will help expose the horrific nature of sexual abuse, bring the issue into the spotlight and create a ripple effect through society so we can eradicate this.
CWR: This year, you attended the March for Life in Washington, DC for the first time. How did it go?
Sample: I was moved beyond description. It was a most formative experience. I attended the Thursday evening vigil Mass in the Basilica, and saw the shrine filled with people, mostly young people. They filled every nook and cranny.
On the day of the march, there were 500,000 or more who took to the streets. We were there for a serious reason, but there was a great spirit among the people. I experienced charity and solidarity as I mingled with the crowd. I met people from all over the country.
Again, I was impressed by all the young people there. I’d say 75 percent were high school and college age. The younger generation gets it; they will lead to a change on this issue. They realize they are of an age when they could have been aborted. They’re going to change the world. They’re on fire.  
CWR: You have been quoted as saying you’re ready to go to prison rather than comply with the HHS mandate regarding insurance coverage of contraception, abortion, and sterilization. If this mandate moves ahead as is, is it time for American Catholics to practice some courageous disobedience? [Editor’s note: This interview took place before the release of new proposed regulations regarding religious organizations and the HHS mandate.]
Sample: All the bishops have said that we cannot comply with this mandate. We’ll fight it at all different levels. Now, I don’t think it will come to us going to prison. We’re exploring a variety of different options, and then we’ll make a decision about what we’ll do. But we’ll fight it vigorously.  
I take as my model St. Thomas More. He tried to do everything he could to avoid going to the gallows, without violating his conscience. But, when push came to shove, he was willing to die.
CWR: And, it’s important that conscience protection be extended to laymen running businesses as well, not just church-related institutions.
Sample: Yes. We want conscience protection extended to all. We’re not only fighting for Church institutions, but for the businessman or woman who shares our beliefs, yet is being forced to provide these services.
CWR: Fifty years ago, there were Catholic bishops who wouldn’t allow the then-Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, to speak on Church property because of his highly publicized divorce and re-marriage. Fast forward to Fall 2012, the Alfred E. Smith Dinner in New York. A number of political figures at odds with Church teaching shared a friendly stage with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, including President Barack Obama, Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, and journalist Chris Matthews. Do you think it’s time for bishops to return to a more aggressive challenging of public figures on key moral issues?
Sample: I have no comment on this dinner and Cardinal Dolan, but I do have something to say about the scandal factor. Scandal means that one person’s sin or failure to live up to the Gospel can cause others to stumble. When Catholic politicians fail to live up to the moral teachings of the Church, or fail to promote the true common good rooted in human nature and moral values, they cause others to stumble. People say, “They’re Catholic and they’re going against the Church’s moral teachings. Why can’t I?” That’s scandal.
Catholic politicians have a particular responsibility to uphold the moral teachings which are common to all human beings, fundamental moral principles that guide all human beings. There needs to be a strong challenge to them to live their Catholic faith privately and publicly.
CWR: You’ve put a lot of time and energy into promoting the cause for canonization of Bishop Frederic Baraga, the first bishop of Marquette. What impresses you about Bishop Baraga?  
Sample: First off, the cause for canonization of a particular person must be carried forward by the bishop of the diocese in which he or she died. I will do what I can in my remaining time in Marquette, but once I leave, it will be in the hands of my successor. However, I will do all in my power to support and promote the cause of Venerable Frederic.
I admire Bishop Baraga for his incredible zeal as a missionary priest and bishop. I think all priests and bishops need the example of someone like Frederic Baraga. He’s a perfect model for us, and I pray he is beatified. His life is such an inspiration.
I first discovered him when I was driving to visit the vocation director of Marquette, before I became a seminarian. In the town of L’Anse (northwest Michigan) there is a statue of Bishop Baraga holding a cross in one hand and snowshoes in the other. I said a prayer to him, asking him to intercede for me, that my meeting with the vocation director would go well. I admitted to him that I didn’t know too much about him (at that time!).
From that moment on, I’ve had a strong connection to him. When I was named that holy man’s successor, I went to his tomb to pray. I’ve been happy to move his cause along. He’s a powerful figure in the history of our Church, and a role model to us in the New Evangelization.