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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.