Friday, August 22, 2014

A great piece on Pope Benedict and the Latin Mass

In case you missed it, here is a very well-written piece by Michael Brendan Dougherty, "In defense of Pope Benedict and the Latin Mass" (The Week, July 9, 2014). I've probably referred to this before, but it's just too good to have missed and worth revisiting.

[Hat tip to JM]

A brotherly dissent: an open letter to Dave Armstrong on 'splainin' Pope Francis

I found myself a bit disappointed, Dave. You've written so many good things before this. I finally got around to reading your book Pope Francis Explained recently, and, I'm sorry, but I guess I was expecting something different. I don't question for a moment your goodwill towards the Holy Father, your fidelity to the Magisterium, or your zeal for Holy Mother Church. But I'm disappointed for at least two reasons. Not bad, really, just two.

First, although your book purports to explain how Pope Francis has been misunderstood and show how his words can be properly understood, in many cases you do not really do this. Rather, you quote passages from the Pope's writings and speeches where he clearly defends Church teaching. To your credit, such quotations might be of help to secular progressives or dissenting Catholics who actually dislike or don't know the Church's positions, if any of them were interested enough to read your book. But that's not the problem that many others see here. The problem, rather, is that many of the Pope's statements (not just their interpretations) are themselves ambiguous, and feed the fire of glee among the dissenters and alarm among the faithful; and simply smoothing over this problem by insisting on what you think the Pope surely must have meant does not address this problem.

Many of those who have expressed concern, if not alarm, over the ambiguities and confusions found in the Pope's own words are not “reactionaries” on the “extreme right” or only “a hair's breadth from schism,” or even “mainstream traditionalists” who “prefer the Tridentine Mass,” to quote you. Rather, they are men and women numbered among my own colleagues and friends – people like Dr. Janet Smith, Dr. Monica Miller, Dr. Robert Fastiggi, Dr. Eduardo Echeverria, Dr. Mark Latkovic, and others. None of them would think of accusing the Holy Father of heresy or not being the legitimate pope, but many of them have expressed (1) real concerns (especially in the beginning) as to whether he was securely “on board” with the Church's teachings on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and so on, although these concerns were fairly quickly allayed by emerging publications and statements showing that the Pope has stalwartly defended the Church's perennial position on those issues (as you, too, have stressed); and many of them (2) continue to be concerned about ambiguities and conflicting signals, not merely mis-communicated by irresponsible media, but resident within the Pope's own often “off-the-cuff” remarks. Some of these concerns are summarized, for example, by Dr. Miller here and here.

In your treatment of the La Civiltà Cattolica interview, you don't really ever address the problem of these off-the-cuff remarks and the confusion they have caused. You admit that the style of delivery might differ significantly, but that the substance remains unchanged. Yet you don't acknowledge any sort of real problem. You cite Jimmy Akin's hypothesis that the Pope is trying to fight against being “stereotyped” by the liberal secular media. Whether this hypothesis is plausible or not is beside the point, however. The elephant in the room is the confusion provoked by the Holy Father's remarks among both agnostic secularists and Catholics. Even Jimmy Akin acknowledges this difficulty in a passage you quote (p. 117), where he writes: “Time will tell whether [the Pope's] 'fight the stereotypes, go with the central message' approach will lead to the results he desires ….” But you don't address this.

In your chapter devoted to “Pro-Life” issues, for example, you offer quotation-after-quotation from Pope Francis, calling to witness words with which he has clearly defended the Church's teaching on life issues. Not once, however, do you address the problems that provoked the serious dismay expressed by good Catholics like Dr. Monica Miller or Dr. Janet Smith, such as the Pope ostensibly dismissing pro-life concerns like contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage as “obsessions” of those immersed in “small-minded rules.” Whatever the “strategy” that may have animated the Holy Father's words, he has nowhere made this known, and he has left multitudes in confusion, or, worse, confirmed in their errors. And your counsel that “those who are intended to get it [his meaning], will get it,” is hardly a viable hermeneutic.

Second, although your book claims to steer a path between the extremes of “progressives” on the left and “reactionaries” on the right, it also tends to group under the heading of “reactionaries” any Catholics who are publicly critical of the Holy Father's often confusing remarks. Your definition of those who are “radically Catholic reactionary” is:
... a rigorist, divisive group completely separate from mainstream “traditionalism” that continually, vociferously, and vitriolically (as marked characteristic or defining trait) bashes and trashes popes, Vatican II, the New Mass, and ecumenism (the “big four”): going as far as they can go without technically crossing over the canonical line of schism. In effect, they become their own popes: exercising private judgment in an unsavory fashion, much as (quite ironically) Catholic liberals do, and as Luther and Calvin did when they rebelled against the Church... [I used to think that, until I realized they were voicing the views of Popes like St. Pius X]. They must assume a condescending “superior-subordinate” orientation.
Strong language, to say the least.

Yet your distinction between “radical reactionary” and “mainstream traditionalist” Catholics, while well-intentioned, is anything but tidy in application. How would you classify Michael Voris, who refuses to criticize the Pope but has produced exposés sharply critical of (a) “liturgical reforms” following Vatican II (“Weapons of MASS Destruction”), (b) the way Communion in the hand was introduced in the west (“Reception Deception”), (c) and of many other facets of the contemporary “church of nice,” and (d) bishops like Cardinal Dolan who waffle in their public statements about gays, Muslims, etc.? How would you classify someone who published statements like the following?
What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it -- as in a manufacturing process -- with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.
The passage, of course is from former Cardinal Ratzinger's Introduction to Msgr. Klaus Gamber's Reform of the Roman Liturgy, describing the Mass cobbled together by Fr. Bugnini's Consilium, which Fr. Joseph Gelineau, S.J. famously called the “permanent workshop” of liturgical innovation. Would you classify him as “a rigorist,” “divisive,” someone who “vociferously, and vitriolically … trashes Vatican II and the New Mass?”

Furthermore, your poster boy for your definition of “radical Catholic reactionary” is the blog Rorate Caeli, which, according to your definition, represents a perspective that is “completely separate from mainstream 'traditionalism' that continually, vociferously, and vitriolically … bashes and trashes popes, Vatican II, the New Mass, and ecumenism … etc.” Yet Rorate Caeli, which you acknowledge as “one of the most influential [traditionalist] blogs” online, features numerous guest editorials by priests and other authors from all over the world, with frequent features of spiritual writing from Church history, promotions of prayer for various causes (Purgatorial Society Masses, etc.), along with many exposés of various goings-on that should concern faithful Catholics everywhere. To suggest, because of its haste in sounding alarms or a “gotcha” moment of guilt-by-association with a source whose unrelated writings may be objectionable, that Rorate Caeli is “completely separate from the mainstream 'traditionalism',” or that it “continually vociferously, and vitriolically bashes and trashes popes, Vatican II, the New Mass, ecumenism” etc., is not simply uncharitable, but untrue.

If there is a theme of criticism of these sorts of things, it is not because of any incipient rejection or rebellion against the institution of the Papacy, or against the authority of an ecumenical council like Vatican II, or against the licitness or validity of the new Mass, or the importance of ecumenical overtures toward reunion of the Eastern Orthodox or Protestants with Rome, but because of genuine problems that attach to the understanding and implementation of each of these in our own times. Why does a book that purports to explain Pope Francis not address these problems? Problems like (1) the democratization of the ecclesial hierarchy that seems to have reduced the role of the Vicar of Christ to that of a rock star and public news commentator; or (2) the misunderstandings fostered by passages in Vatican II documents (like Sacrosanctum Concilium, Nostra Aetate, and Gaudium et Spes) that, according to Cardinal Kasper, include deliberate ambiguities inserted as “compromises” into the text capable of diverse interpretations, provoking Bishop Athanasius Schneider, at a conference in Rome, to call for a new “Syllabus of Errors” to clarify the proper interpretation of Vatican II; or (3) what Pope Benedict XVI has called the “trivialization” of the Mass, not to mention the mainstreaming of numerous innovations nowhere mandated by Vatican II, such as having the priest turn his back on God in order to face the people, tearing down magnificent altars and replacing them with tables, removing altar rails, introducing lay lectors, lay Eucharistic “ministers,” Communion in the hand while standing rather than kneeling, substituting banal “praise music” for Gregorian chant and polyphany, and the marketplace vernacular for Latin, etc.; and (4) the effective sabotaging of the New Evangelization by an “ecumenism” that suggests, in effect, that all may be saved, and that there is certainly no pressing urgency to formal membership in the Catholic Church (as when the Holy Father advised Tony Palmer against converting, or when, without definition, he called proselytism “solemn nonsense”)?

I know the “explanations” that are brought forward for all of these troubling developments, explanations intended to show how, when all is said and done, they actually conform hand-in-glove with Church teaching. I also know how the enterprise of offering such explanations has become something of a major growth industry among conservative Catholics in the United States. What I fear, however, is that these ultimately tend to “explain away” rather than “explain,” because they don't address the real damage these problems are causing.

Hitherto when I heard accusations of “neo-Ultramontanism or “papolatry” hurled toward faithful Catholics such as yourself in the “explanation” industry, I dismissed them as excessive. However, when efforts to defend the Holy Father, Vatican II, the new Mass, and ecumenism (to take what you call the “big four”) turn into an exercise in seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and saying no evil about these things (where evils in fact exist), these efforts seem a trifle disingenuous. Rather than demonizing those who see problems here, why wouldn't it be the more prudent and virtuous course to supplement your defense of Church teaching with an honest acknowledgment of the genuine problems where they do exist. To do so would not mean to impugn the authority of the Pope or the Second Vatican Council, or to question the legitimacy or validity of the new Mass or ecumenical initiatives (properly understood). In fact, it would mean a more credible and robust defense of Church authority and defense of the Holy Father. Maybe you don't consider tackling such problems part of your apostolate, and I'd understand that. But even a nod of the head in recognition that there are some genuine problems here might make your efforts to “explain” Pope Francis a lot more successful and credible.

Kind regards, PP


Maureen Mullarkey, "Francis in Wonderland" (First Things, May 30, 2014):
The papacy is swaddled in sycophancy in the best of times. Add to that the exultant adulation induced by celebrity culture. It is a heady mix that can beguile a decent man into a grandiose conception of himself that blinds him to the limits of his office. And encourages conceit in his own sympathies.

Francis’ excursion into Middle East politics illustrated the danger of a pope assuming office as a saint-in-waiting. His incautious behavior ought to have received more scrutiny from the Catholic press than it did. Instead, the amen chorus crooned about peace, prayer, and fraternal dialogue, as if fine words pull the sting from the scorpion’s tail.
And so it goes on.

Related: Maureen Mullarkey, "Misuse of Prayer" (First Things, May 19, 2014).

[Hat tip to JM]

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"The Tale of Those Nasty Liberals Who Hijacked Poor Ol’ Vatican Two"

Another title might have been: "Why deny objective truth when you can make it irrelevant?" or "Orthodoxy can be defeated by direct refutation or by being marginalized as optional."

But Elliot Bougis writes, in "By their fruits" (FideCogitActio, August 16, 2014):
When the spirit of a council dictates, almost from day one, how the documents of a council are to be read and applied, then that spirit is the true fruit of the council, regardless what the documents may say. Luckily, the Church has never fallen into this trap, so keep calm and party on, right?

This is the conservative paradox: the same people who are blamed for “hijacking The Council” are those to whom pious submission must be given in the implementation of The Council. Conspiracy theories are generally taboo among conservatives, but The Tale of Those Nasty Liberals Who Hijacked Poor Ol’ Vatican Two is one conspiracy theory still very much in vogue. The documents have borne the fruits we see (and will probably keep seeing, for a long time to come) because the seeds of said fruit are embedded in the documents themselves. This is why, as Bp. Schneider reminds us, the documents must be subjected to a thorough magisterial pruning, so that the vigor of the Pastoral Mandate can be matched by the tradition of doctrinal security.

Meanwhile, the unrelenting cry for MOAR COUNCIL has a bizarre way of leading to the very abuses which The Council is supposed to have saved us. The Council cannot be a final harbor. It was a milestone, but the Church keeps moving, and I think the Church needs to either enforce the documents with a zeal that any “rad trad” would admire, or needs to admit that The V2 Experiment has failed. The Church will–and must–go on, but, pragmatically speaking, The Spirit of The Council is the clear winner these days. It is heroic of laymen to hold the magisterial line, but it is properly the duty of the episcopal college to get the led out and get our house in order. No “pastoral” strategy is guaranteed infallible immunity.

At the same time, I’m floored that unflinching defenders of Vatican II at least admit that the V2 documents shouldn’t but in fact can be read in a discontinuous, heterodox way. Can the same be said of any prior council? And even if it could be, it was the purpose of a later council authoritatively to rectify such problems. No one in the hierarchy is seriously calling for such a correction. Everything Is Awesome. Except, darn it, this time we need to really implement The Council. There’s that creeping conspiracy theory again.

I don’t see how we can have it both ways. If V2 is to be judged not as a dogmatic intervention but as a pastoral endeavor, and should therefore not be held to such rigorous intellectual standards as prior councils, then the manifest deterioration and disorientation of the Church in certain ways should suffice to show how the pastoral endeavor has been derailed on its own terms. Rather than being read in an orthodox sense, the conciliar ambiguity in question reverses the entire hermeneutic by subjecting past teaching to endless debate and doubt in the superdogma event horizon that V2 has, despite its intended “humility”, become. To cite prior councils is to be labeled a rad trad, which is pretty astounding a charge. As Brunero Gherardini had persuasively argued, what is need is not a declamation of continuity, but a demonstration of it, and the only possible resources for such a demonstration reside in the very things that get one labeled a rad trad. V2 is the most self-referential council in the Church’s history, which is why, like any spiraling mass, it sucks everything else into its gravitational pull, and contorts it all into a shape of its own making.

The documents were not presented as platforms of change. How could a merely pastoral council aim to extend or settle dogmatic issues? The entire premise of the council, at least officially, is that the Church was simply restating long-standing doctrine. Yet, there followed a torrent of adaptation and compromise which the documents had not explicitly decreed. By avoiding the pastoral latitude that it did, the council left the door open for “the spirit of Vatican II”, which is, predictably enough, the impulse which has prevailed for decades. This is why the Church is in the tumult of a collective swing back to the center, and I am baffled why it’s so scandalous for Catholics to point out this disorientation and put V2 in its place, as it were. No one is meant to live at the peripheries of doctrinal coherence. The world has always been crazy. Human nature has not changed. It was the historical chauvinism of the V2 Fathers which led them to presume that the Church was in a new world. Blinded by a naive progressivism, the Fathers gave us a shining example of an old trick: orthodoxy can be defeated by a direct refutation or by being marginalized as optional. The latter strategy has been highly effective for decades now. Dogma doesn’t have to be changed in order to permit a revolution. It can simply be marginalized as irrelevant compared to more pressing Pastoral Needs of The People. Why deny objective truth when you can make it irrelevant?
Guy Noir, in one of those rare moments of Garrison Keillor-like depressed humor, declared: "I am rather convinced that Vatican II is to councils what the New American Bible is to translations.

"If either were not forced on us, the only ones to ever cite them would be liberals. Vatican II is not much more orthodox than Karl Barth, in the final analysis. That is my contention."

[Hat tip to GN]

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And now for something on the more positive side

An interview with The Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. ('93): "God Has Been Generous" (Thomas Aquinas College, California, July 15, 2014).

[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

What's the value of something like this?

"Hundreds attend interreligious prayer for peace in Denver" (CNA, August 19, 2014):
Denver, Colo., Aug 13, 2014 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An estimated 900 people of the three Abrahamic religions packed the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver Monday night for an interreligious prayer service for those suffering in the Middle East.

Fr. Andre Mahanna, director Maronite eparchy's interfaith office, opened the service, explaining that the danger of persecution reaches beyond the members of those particular minority groups.

“(The violence) is against all people who believe in God, in culture, in civilization, and in the common good,” he said. “It is against the honest faith that humans are good beings, that what God created … (is) something good.”

Fr. Mahanna then asked all those in attendance to clap their hands as a gesture of solidarity in peace and against the gruesome murders and tortures of recent weeks in the Middle East.

“Let us clap our hands to make a statement … that the sound of our hands joined together in prayer and in true human love are way stronger and more effective and way more powerful than the sounds of the bombs (ISIS) are using to kill every human being on earth, starting in the Middle East.”

Intercessions were then led by religious leaders representing various religions, including Catholic and Orthodox Churches from the Middle East; Protestant and Catholic representatives from Western Christianity; rabbis; and sheikhs and imams.

Following the intercessions were readings from the religions' three holy texts - the Quran, the Pentateuch, and the Gospel - and an address from Archbishop Aquila, who said the test of a true religion is whether it promotes both love of God and of neighbor.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

Monday, August 18, 2014

Slouching toward the Synod?

Robert Spaemann, "Divorce and Remarriage" (First Things, August 2014), has an incisive analysis and summary of what's at stake:
The divorce statistics for modern Western societies are catastrophic. They show that marriage is no longer regarded as a new, independent reality transcending the individuality of the spouses, a reality that, at the very least, cannot be dissolved by the will of one partner alone. But can it be dissolved by the consent of both parties, or by the will of a synod or a pope? The answer must be no, for as Jesus himself explicitly declares, man cannot put asunder what God himself has joined together. Such is the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The Christian understanding of the good life claims to be valid for all human beings. Yet even Jesus’s disciples were shocked by their Master’s words: Wouldn’t it be better, then, they replied, not to marry at all? The astonishment of the disciples underscores the contrast between the Christian way of life and the way of life dominant in the world. Whe­ther it wants to or not, the Church in the West is on its way to becoming a counterculture, and its future now depends chiefly on whether it is able, as the salt of the earth, to keep its savor and not be trampled underfoot by men.

The beauty of the Church’s teaching can shine forth only when it’s not watered down. The temptation to dilute doctrine is reinforced nowadays by an unsettling fact: Catholics are divorcing almost as frequently as their secular counterparts. Something has clearly gone wrong. It’s against all reason to think that all civilly divorced and remarried Catholics began their first marriages firmly convinced of its indissolubility and then fundamentally reversed themselves along the way. It’s more reasonable to assume that they entered into matrimony without clearly realizing what they were doing in the first place: burning their bridges behind them for all time (which is to say until death), so that the very idea of a second marriage simply did not exist for them.

Sadly, the Catholic Church is not without blame. Christian marriage preparation very often fails to give engaged couples a clear picture of the implications of a Catholic wedding. Were that so, many couples would very likely decide against being married in the Church. For others, of course, good marriage preparation would provide a helpful impetus to conversion. There is an immense appeal in the idea that the union of a man and a woman is “written in the stars,” that it endures on high, and that nothing can destroy it, both “in good times and in bad.” This conviction is a wonderful and exhilarating source of strength and joy for spouses working through marital crises and seeking to breathe new life into their old love.

Instead of reinforcing the natural, intuitive appeal of marital permanence, many churchmen, including bishops and cardinals, prefer to recommend, or at least to consider, another option, one that is an alternative to Jesus’s teaching and basically a capitulation to the secular mainstream. The remedy for the adultery entailed by remarriage of the divorced, we are told, is no longer to be contrition, renunciation, and forgiveness but the passage of time and habit, as if general social acceptance and our personal comfort with our decisions and lives have an almost supernatural power. This alchemy supposedly transforms an adulterous concubinage that we call a “second marriage” into an acceptable union to be blessed by the Church in God’s name. Given this logic, of course, it is only fair for the Church to bless homosexual partnerships as well.

But this way of thinking is based on a profound error. Time is not creative. Its passage does not restore lost innocence. In fact, its tendency is always just the opposite—namely, to increase entropy. Every instance of order in nature is wrested from the grip of entropy and over time eventually falls under its dominion once again. As Anaximander puts it, “From whence things arise, to that they eventually return, according to the appointed time.” It would be wrong to repackage the principle of decay and death as something good. We should not confuse the gradual deadening of the sense of sin with its disappearance and release from our ongoing responsibility for it.

Aristotle taught that there is a greater evil in habitual sin than in a single lapse accompanied by the sting of remorse. Adultery is a case in point, especially when it leads to new, legally sanctioned arrangements—“remarriage”—that are almost impossible to undo without great pain and effort. Thomas Aquinas uses the term perplexitas to characterize cases like these. They are situations from which there is no escape that does not incur guilt of one sort or another. Even a single act of infidelity entangles the adulterer in perplexity: Should he confess his deed to his spouse or not? If he confesses, he might just save the marriage and, in any case, he avoids a lie that would eventually destroy mutual trust. On the other hand, a confession could pose an even greater threat to the marriage than the sin itself (which is why priests often counsel penitents against revealing infidelity to their spouses). Note, by the way, that St. Thomas teaches that we never stumble into perplexitas without some measure of personal guilt and that God allows this as a punishment for the sin that initially set us down the wrong path.

Why Assumption Grotto?

A little something special, written in advance of the Feast of the Assumption, from Fr. Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, August 17, 2014). The Feast of the Assumption is a particularly special day for Assumption Grotto Church, and we see a small window opened onto this small, blessed "island" of Catholic faith amidst the desolation of East Detroit. Enjoy.

A Pastor's Descant
Lacking the power of clairvoyance (there are limits to sacerdotal abilities), I can’t foretell the outcome of our feast day, writing as I must in advance of the day. I shall hope and pray that many will be highly graced through the homage given the Mother of our Lord on that day.

Sometimes I question myself about the relevance of our Shrine. Is it really a special place? I see in the promo advertizing our feast day, “Just like Lourdes,” and I wonder if this isn’t a bit over the top, as they say. (By the way, I do not write these materials, though I’m very grateful to those who do. I’m responsible – some would say irresponsible – only for my sermons, the grandiloquent outpourings of the Grotto News, my correspondences, etc.) After due consideration of the question, I have concluded that there is indeed something special about our Lourdes Grotto.

The indicators of this are first an historical one. We boast of having the oldest outdoor Marian shrine in the State of Michigan. There’s sometime to be said for antiquity and longevity of such a devotion. Then there is the testimony, written and verbal, of wondrous happenings at the Grotto over the years. The visible witness of many crutches, canes, and wheelchairs which at one time nearly littered the far wall of the Grotto were removed by one of my predecessors many years ago – he being caught up in that notorious ‘spirit’ of Vatican II, deeming the display an embarrassment in an enlightened age.

Fortunately my immediate predecessor, upon a stroke of good luck (pardon the profane expression), came upon those few remnants attesting to cures. These, encased, are on display in our shrine lounge. The letters and other written documents we have (not all of them have been preserved) also claim that special graces, spiritual and physical, have taken place upon a devout visit to our Lady’s Grotto. Thus far, two ways in which we are ‘like Lourdes.’

There is however another likeness, one that is also a convincing sign of divine favor. It is the persistent presence of so many people from this area (and beyond) who come here as pilgrims. Whether they get anything special or whether they come to give something special doesn’t matter. They come. There is then a divine commerce that takes place in our parish, and especially, I would say, on our feast day. And if so, it makes this a holy place. I am reminded here of Jacob’s ladder (Genesis) with angels ascending and descending upon it: holy aspirations and prayers (with the sacrifice of the Mass) arising; grace, consolation and healing coming down. Bethel is the name of that biblical place, the evidence that God, for reasons of His own, chooses certain places to manifest His presence in a particularly striking way.

I have never wanted to make sensational claims about what we have here. On the other hand, I would not wish to shortchange the Lord and our Lady by failing to acknowledge their beneficence. The facts speak for themselves: the long history, the reports of the witnesses, and the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful), the presence of so many people who come to our parish to honor Our Lady of Lourdes on the day of Her Assumption.

Liturgically speaking, this is a one - day event only (the Tridentine liturgy has also a preparatory day on the 14th: the Vigil of the Assumption). We have also been making a preparatory novena for the feast day, as has been our custom. Moreover, we make a sort of informal ‘‘octave of our feast day by retaining the richer altar coverings and the adorning flowers until the 22nd of August, which is either the feast of the Queenship of Mary (new calendar) or of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Tridentine calendar).

I will have to leave off here to fret a bit about making a schedule for our feast day, about many details for it, and about what I might say in my sermon. May the Lord give success to the work of our hands! (Psalm 89).

-- Fr. Perron

Sunday, August 17, 2014

"Thee" and "vouchsafe"

Again, my pet peeve: how so many hymns and prayers have been revised to omit those "offensive" words like "Thee," "Thou" and "Thy" to substitute the egalitarian, familiar and nondescript "You" and "Your." [I know this is an absolute non-issue for many of my readers, and they needn't read on.]

Sometimes it's almost comical. Like many of you, doubtless, I make use of those lovely prayers by St. Thomas Aquinas before and after Holy Communion. I have a little card in my Missal with these prayers, which doubles as a bookmark.

The comical part is that all the offending "Thees" and "Thous" have been removed, substituting "You" and "Your," even though ALL OF US continue to use the older form of address in the Our Father and Hail Mary ...

... AND here's the kicker: they still retain the word "VOUCHSAFE"! [There are other even worse translations.]
Therefore, I implore the abundance of YOUR measureless bounty that YOU would VOUCHSAFE to heal my infirmity ..."
... and again
I give You thanks, holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, that YOU have VOUCHSAFED to feed me, a sinner, YOUR unworthy servant, for no merits of my own ..."
Is this not hysterical?? They keep a word like "vouchsafe," which probably only one in a dozen people understands today, but dump "Thou," "Thee," "Thy" and "Thine"!

Don't get me wrong, "vouchsafe" is a perfectly noble word meaning to "graciously grant" something. My own sense of the language of the prayers in English translation is that it would be much better served by retaining the older forms in toto, rather than trying to modernize them and throwing a philistine indignity like "YOU" in amidst the dignified references to "almighty" and "everlasting" and "imploring" God's "measureless bounty."

Keep "YOU" for the ordinary language of today. Keep the language of prayer noble, elevated, respectful, and dignified. "Hallowed by THY name. THY kingdom come. THY will be done ... Blessed art THOU among women, and blessed is the fruit of THY womb, Jesus."

Related: David Mills, "Lewis & Orwell on Language" (Patheos, July 9, 2014).

"Get with the program": women bishops

Our undercover correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, wired us a telegram two weeks ago when the news came out about the Church of England voting to ordain women bishops.

"You know," said the lengthy telegram, "Catholics will scoff at the Archbishop being advised by David Cameron, but I wonder how very different that is i-n s-p-i-r-i-t from the Pope giving repeated interviews to atheists?"

Indeed, I had just read that of the 12 media interviews granted by Pope Francis, eleven were with secular atheists. Maybe he's trying to reach out ...

Noir continued: "It is all of the same cloth of openness to the world and feeling the need for the church to be tutored.

"And while I am at it," the text went on, "if this is not an instance of a very real and obvious teaching moment, what is? 'I don't understand? Don't Catholics value women too? Why can't women be priests? See, the C.O.E. [Church of England] is going through all this too! Aren't they also Christians and partners in the Gospel?'

"Silence simply adds strength to the secular argument. The modernist movement can't be contained or countered by being nice.

"I wish I had access to the profile of the female bishop of D.C. (Episcopal) in the new issue of the W-a-s-h-i-n-g-t-o-n-i-a-n Magazine. It shows you what we will be up against for the next decade."

Albert Mohler, in his essay on the matter, begins with the following observation:
Writing about the age of John Milton, the British author A. N. Wilson once tried to explain to modern secular readers that there had once been a time when bishops of the Church of England were titanic figures of conviction who were ready to stand against the culture. “It needs an act of supreme historical imagination to be able to recapture an atmosphere in which Anglican bishops might be taken seriously,” he wrote, “still more, one in which they might be thought threatening.”
Hmmmm ... Food for thought.

Then he concludes with this:
The Rt. Rev. William Ralph Inge, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in the early 20th century, once famously remarked: “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.” Now, that is a word from an Anglican we all need to hear.
Hmmmm. More food for thought.

To Know Pope Francis

Amazing how one normal, honest reposter makes 100 Catholic "talking heads" look so, well, like so many "talking heads."

George Conger, "Would the Real Pope Please Stand" (The Media Project, August, 5, 2014): "Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio? The Argentine cardinal who 500 days ago became Pope Francis? Why, from a journalistic perspective, do we know so little about someone who talks so much?"

Among the offerings, are The Catholic News Service's translations of the pope's 10 lessons for happy living:
  1. “Live and let live.”
  2. “Be giving of yourself to others.”
  3. “Proceed calmly” in life.
  4. Have “a healthy sense of leisure.”
  5. "Sunday is for family.”
  6. Be “creative” with young people and find innovative ways to create dignified jobs.
  7. Respect and take care of nature.
  8. Stop being negative. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy,” he said.
  9. “The worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes.”
  10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said. “The call for peace must be shouted.”
Concludes Conger:
Of Francis' eleven interviews, ten have been with secular reporters from secular newspapers. The results are interviews that show a Francis who is curiously similar to his interlocutor. Is the pope manipulating the press or is the press manipulating the pope? After 500 days in office, the real Jorge Mario Bergoglio remains elusive.

And if you want to have some "fun," search Google for responses to this article.

[Hat tip to JM]

L'Express: "The strength of Pope Francis is the people"

Claire Chartier, "La force du pape François, c'est le peuple" (L'Express, August 18, 2015), seems to suggest that the authority of the Pope comes from the people, rather than God. "A well-known American journalist has told me, "He's become our new Mandela," she quotes Andrea Riccardi as declaring.

Of course that's the half-inebriated secular European mainstream media, so who cares? Right?

But one reader, after reading Rorate's take on this, writes in to suggest that although the latter's article may be right, it may also be beside the point. The reader asks: "Does the POPE think his authority comes form God, and does he project that? I would argue he certainly does NOT convey that impression. How does he regard the pronouncements of his predecessors? Who could tell? If the sense he creates is as this piece says, that is the prominent point. The corrective.... well, again, why are we at a point where we need such a corrective?"

Ach, nicht schon wieder!

Extraordinary Community News: Interesting Books on Sacred Liturgy, and St. Albertus Mass Mob

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News (August 17, 2014):
Interesting Books by Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Fr. Uwe-Michael Lang, and Fr. Jonathan Robinson

Over the past ten years, a few notable books have been published that stand out as worthwhile reads for Catholics who have an interest in traditional liturgy:

Raymond Cardinal Burke is perhaps the most outspoken advocate of Sacred Tradition among the current Princes of the Church. His track record of supporting the Extraordinary Form by attending Latin Mass conferences, celebrating the Mass at high-profile public events, and performing ordinations has no equal. From his initial invitation of the Institute of Christ the King to establish their first apostolate in North America while he was Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, to his ordination of priests for the Institute just last week in St. Louis, Missouri, Cardinal Burke travels the world to give encouragement and hope to those who prefer the Tridentine Mass. In July, 2012, during his annual talk at the Fota Liturgy Conference in Cork, Ireland, His Eminence announced the publication of his book, Divine Love Made Flesh: The Holy Eucharist as the Sacrament of Charity.A relatively slim volume of 200 pages, the book addresses why the Eucharist must be central to the life of every Catholic because of its transformative role. His Eminence also discusses, in straightforward and easily understandable language, why our worship must be reverent, and why adoration should be a key spiritual practice.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider is an Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Astana, Kazakhstan. He is known in metro Detroit as a member of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross, the religious community whose members include local Tridentine Mass celebrants Fr. Wolfgang Seitz, Fr. Matthew Hincks, and Fr. Titus Kieninger. Bishop Schneider is best known internationally for his 60 page 2009 book, Dominus Est – It Is the Lord! Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion,a defense of the traditional practice of distributing Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. Malcom Cardinal Ranjith, also known for his liturgical orthodoxy, wrote the preface. Bishop Schneider has traveled extensively speaking on this subject, including at a Call to Holiness conference locally a few years ago. After reading this book, one can reasonably conclude that many of the Church’s problems could be remedied by returning to more traditional practices of distributing Holy Communion, as the pervasive visual example and experience of such practices can do more to promote belief in the Real Presence than words could.

Fr. Uwe-Michael Lang is another familiar face on the liturgical conference circuit. A young priest of the London’s Brompton Oratory, Fr. Lang has spoken at C.I.E.L. conferences in the U.K., at Sacra Liturgia in Rome, and just last month taught a summer course at The Liturgical Institute at Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary. He served as a staff member on the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship. When in London he is a regular celebrant of the Oratory’s various Masses and Vespers services. In 2005, Fr. Lang published Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer,a book which advocates ad oriéntem celebration of the Mass, the traditional orientation where priest and people face the same direction, facing our Lord on the altar. Fr. Lang’s follow-up work, 2012’s The Voice of the Church at Prayer: Reflections on Liturgy and Language,addresses the importance of sacral language, both in the new English translation of the Ordinary Form, and in the resurging popularity of employing Latin in the Ordinary Form. Both books clearly draw on Fr. Lang’s experience celebrating and assisting at the exemplary Ordinary and Extraordinary Form liturgies at the London Oratory.

Fr. Jonathan Robinson, Founder and Superior of the Toronto Oratory and celebrant of the Windsor Tridentine Community’s 20th Anniversary Mass in 2011, wrote 2005’s The Mass and Modernity: Walking to Heaven Backward,which seeks to explain the current state of Catholic Liturgy and solutions for returning reverence to the Mass. As with Fr. Lang, Fr. Robinson draws on his extensive experience overseeing solemn liturgies at the Oratory and its affiliated seminary.

St. Albertus Filled to Capacity for Detroit Mass Mob

Last Sunday, August 10, the Detroit Mass Mob attended the 11:00 AM Ordinary Form Mass at St. Albertus Church. For the first time possibly in its entire history, the enormous church was filled to capacity. Approximately 2,500 people were estimated to have been in attendance, standing room only. Those of us who attend St. Albertus’ monthly Tridentine Masses should be delighted to see this stunning church, and more importantly the dedicated people who maintain it, getting some well-deserved attention, not to mention a sizable collection to help maintain the edifice. Let us pray that a few of the newcomers return for next Sunday’s Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. [Photo by the Archdiocese of Detroit]

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 08/18 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (St. Agapitus, Martyr)
  • Tue. 08/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (St. John Eudes, Confessor)
  • Sun. 08/24 12:00 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for August 17, 2014. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tridentine Masses coming to metro Detroit and East Michigan this week

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rod Dreher on why the Latin Mass is treated worse than child rape

Rod Dreher, "Is The Latin Mass Worse Than Child Rape?" (American Conservative, July 13, 2014):
Michael Brendan Dougherty writes in praise of Pope Benedict XVI for establishing that the Tridentine Mass (also known as the “Latin Mass,” or the “Old Mass”) is always and everywhere licit. The papal ruling came in a document titled Summorum Pontificum. MBD says — rightly in my view — that even nonbelievers ought to be grateful for the old mass’s comeback, because it has inspired so much beautiful art over the centuries. In his 1980s book Once A Catholic, the writer Peter Occhiogrosso interviewed a number of prominent, or semi-prominent, people who are or who once were Catholics, about their life in the Church. One of the most surprising things about it when I read the book as a brand-new Catholic was how many people interviewed in the book — even an ex-Catholic like the avant-garde rock musician Frank Zappa — missed the old mass.

Anyway, MBD, who is himself a Traditionalist, writes that the pope’s intervention did not save his parish:
Summorum came too late to save that community in Poughkeepsie. In the New York Archdiocese as then ruled by Cardinal Edward Egan, the offense of saying this Mass and publishing tracts in its favor was treated as a far more serious crime and scandal than clerical pederasty. Cardinal Egan suspended my Poughkeepsie priest, and effectively exiled him from the life of the church. Priests who knew about the situation observed darkly that if he had raped children instead of saying this Mass, his career would have been better off.

The modus operandi then was that these Latin Mass people — “the crazies,” as they were called in the archbishop’s office — should be contained in Saint Agnes in midtown Manhattan or in a few obscure parishes along the Hudson River. Egan was all too happy to see that Poughkeepsie parish closed and the building sold. He smudged us out like a penciled mistake.
This is a provocatively stated point, but nevertheless a sound one. The current cardinal archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, had a South African priest sent packing after he had the temerity to defend the Latin mass community in a homily (partial transcript here), and now threatens to shut down Holy Innocents, the parish where NYC has its only daily Latin mass. Meanwhile, Cardinal Dolan tolerates things like the “Pre-Pride mass”.

Why does Cardinal Dolan consider the Latin mass a greater threat than a mass said as part of a Gay Pride festival? It’s mind-boggling. As you know, I’m no longer Catholic, and never was a Traditionalist Catholic, but for the entire time I was a Catholic communicant, I never understood the fear and loathing so many within the Catholic institution had for the Latin mass.

By the way, under the plan Cardinal Dolan is considering, Holy Innocents parish will be merged with nearby St. Francis of Assisi parish — which hosts the Pre-Pride Mass. Priorities, I suppose.

UPDATE: Dominic, a reader and former Catholic seminarian, says in the comments thread:
There is a very visceral attachment to this era of boundless optimism by some of the people who lived through it or participated in it which is very unfortunate and will not be gotten rid of until they’re gone.
I think he’s really put his finger on something important, perhaps the most important thing about the ideology that cannot tolerate the Latin mass. It stands as a rebuke to the entire postconciliar project. To be clear, you can certainly support the Council and the Latin mass. When I was a Catholic, I did both (though I did not attend the Latin mass). But the endurance of the Latin mass, and its rebirth in the hearts of Catholics too young to have been raised in it (so they cannot plausibly be accused of nostalgia), is intolerable because it challenges the ideological optimism of the conciliar mindset. That strikes me as a plausible explanation. You? [emphases added]
[Hat tip to JM]