Monday, November 24, 2014

Another prayer request

Please pray for a 43-year-old pregnant mother who has been married 18 years, has no children, and has had two miscarriages.  She is not five weeks pregnant and dearly hopes and prays for a "miraculous" safe and healthy delivery.  Thank you in advance for your intercessions for her.  Her name is Kelly.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Pope Benedict's Big Edit."

Old news, for the record: Dale Price, "Pope Benedict's Big Edit" (Dyspeptic Mutterings, November 18, 2014):
It appears that Pope Benedict XVI did not care at all for Cardinal Kasper's attempt to press-gang him into supporting the latter's assault on indissolubility. 

How do we know that? According to the largest newspaper in his homeland, the Pope Emeritus has removed his previous (1972) support for giving communion to civilly-remarried divorcees from the official collection of his theological works. Instead, he now favors a revised annulment process. The editorial framing notes this development with disapproval, calling it "political."

For those who have made politics a substitute religion, I imagine it is.

For those who care about the Catholic teaching on marriage, this is big news. And a most welcome note of support.

[Update, 11/19/2014: Father Zuhlsdorf has more detail about the story, including the fact Pope Benedict addresses his change of mind in the introduction.]

Never go full osterich, son

Dale Price, "The problem with letting a smile be your umbrella?" (Dyspeptic Mutterings, November 13, 2014). After a brief discussion of Cardinals Burke, Müller, Pell in the context of Vatican politics, Price asks:
Still, why should you care?

Number 1, "Vatican politics" gives you your bishop. Cupich, remember. In other words, "Personnel is policy." If it's "clericalism" to worry about who your shepherd is going to be, then we should all be clericalists.

Second, there's a trend here, and it's pretty much all bad:

Pope Francis has made statements against the two tendencies of progressivism and traditionalism, without however clarifying what these two labels encompassed. Yet, if by words he distances himself from the two poles which confront each other in the Church today, by facts all tolerance is reserved for “progressivism”, while the axe falls upon what he defines as “traditionalism”.

Precisely. If you're a solid progressive, you get high-profile invites to significant Church events even if you're a coddler of abusive priests. [Read more about the dreadful Danneels in the reliably rad-trad Tablet.] Sadly, it appears that mercy is only for those of confirmed progressive bona fides. Whereas demotions, removals and defenestrations of entire orders are reserved only for those with the odor of Tradition.

But I'm sure none of that would ever percolate down to the local level, right?

[Hat tip to JM]

"Jesus, Girls, and Marcus Mariota"

Carl E. Olson, "A walk on the lighter side: 'Jesus, girls, and Marcus Mariota...'" (Catholic World Report, November 22, 2014), for what it's worth.

[Hat tip to JM]

Bernard Chazelle on the "Cosmology" of Bach's music

Bernard Chazelle, "Discovering the Cosmology of Bach" (On Being, November 13, 2014):
Bernard Chazelle is Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University,  a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and a member of the European Academy of Sciences. He's authored an extensive collection of essays on music for A Tiny Revolution.
Chazelle has an original take on what music works in us — especially the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Just as mathematicians talk about discovering rather than inventing great equations, so, he says, Bach set out to “discover” the musical rules behind the universe. After hearing this conversation, you may never listen to any piece of music — whether Bach or Jay-Z — in quite the same way again.
[Hat tip to M.W.]

The ends of impurity

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, November 23, 2014):

Hard to believe it. I drove past a Catholic Church last week and Behold! there on the front lawn were life-size plastic nativity figures set in place. While I annually rail against preempting Christmas in the commercial world, this act, by a church no less, arouses wonderment that can’t be matched by the secularists. Has the whole world gone mad? Our thoughts at this time of the end of the Church Year ought to be on the Four Last Things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. Advent opens next Sunday, but it is not the Christmas season.

I find myself becoming ever more upset over the loss of souls in the deluge of impurity that’s squeezing the spiritual life out of more and more people. I’m beginning to wonder whether chastity even has a chance in our world. The media, the entertainments, the internet abuse, the conversations of people, their immodest manner of dress and filthy speech–these are becoming suffused with sex to the point that its normal and only permissible expression, in valid marriage, is almost not even referenced. The relentless push of the gay agenda (as it’s been called) makes me believe that perversion is becoming the accepted norm in the USA. I wonder how this could possibly be so since human nature itself is so obstinate in asserting normality and since conscience is an inescapable reality for everybody. The idea then hit me that there must be a line, a trajectory of sexual expression which begins with normalcy but which moves downward, from lesser sins of impurity (though all of them are mortal sins) to the stranger ones, and then on to the perverse, and finally to violence and even murder, perhaps with demonic worship (and possession) being the end of the line. All along the way there would be as a result, a progressive madness–literally speaking, that would begin to take over the person. This hunch–too primitive to call a theory–is that anyone is potentially capable of moving along this line of sin, from normalcy to beastly brutality and to ultimate irrationality. According to this view, it would not then be a question of whatever tendencies one claims to have gotten from birth which determine his life’s direction, but rather of the degree of willful daring that one has to venture down this ‘road’ away from uprightness. In other words, I challenge the claims that are often made about abnormal tendencies as inherited from birth. I’m proposing rather that everyone’s nature can incline him to venture away from the norms of goodness towards sin, more and more, depending on his boldness to transgress the just limits imposed by nature. This is another way of asserting the condition of fallen human nature due to original sin. Anyone could be a potential pervert if he would only let himself go far down enough, that is, to abandon right reason to be bold and wicked enough to experiment with evils’ fascination. If I am right about this, there would be no such thing as a sexual compulsion or a proclivity to sinful activity but only the absence of the moderating and restricting regulation of one’s will to develop virtue. This hypothesis takes away the call for us to pity those whose proclivities are wayward and the demand for us to be accepting of any forms of deviancy as permissible, and even legally protected. No one has the right to transgress the laws of nature that God implanted in our souls, and therefore no one should cultivate a false compassion for those who choose to sin. The only right attitude towards sinners is regret over their deliberate sinfulness and the hope that God may give them the actual grace to see the error of their ways and to reform their thinking and their conduct. 

Without the development of the virtues from our youthful years which curb sinful tendencies of all kinds, we are all prone to be sinners–prone, I say, not destined by an irresistible force. But because family life is fast eroding and because Catholic teaching and practice is dwindling away, and because education in morals is not well imparted, the result is that more and more people will be traveling down this ‘line’ from normality to depravity, coming to a stop at whatever place he would dare not venture further. Surely, I hope this will not happen to everybody, but I see that it’s happening more and more–the ever increasing usage of pornography propelling the movement along.
We must make up our minds to be very good Catholic people–with the help of God.

Fr. Perrone

Prayer request

Please pray for my Japanese "sister," Noriko, who is suffering from cancer, undergoing radical chemo therapy and expecting surgery thereafter. She is the sister of my deceased adopted Japanese brother, Yoshiro ("Thomas"), whom we met for the first time during my sabbatical in Japan last September, with her brother and other sister.

There is no Christian faith in her family background. Like most Japanese, their lives are largely secularized, with bits of Buddhism and Shintoism in their ancestry. I see an opportunity for God's grace here, and I've told her and her family that we will be praying for her healing. Please of your kindness, assist me in these intercessions.

Extraordinary Community News - EF priest training in Alabama, De Profundis, Mass times

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

Tridentine Community News (November 23, 2014):
Extraordinary Faith Priest Training in Alabama

The priest training side mission of the Extraordinary Faith television show project continues to bear fruit: The week of November 10, we partnered with Nick Hosford and Joseph Cheney of Una Voce Northern Alabama and Fr. Bryan Jerabek of Holy Rosary Church in Birmingham for our largest Tridentine Mass class yet:

An amazing seven priests from the Diocese of Birmingham took us up on our offer of training in the Extraordinary Form, including the Vicar General and Chancellor of the diocese. Some came with no experience, others to round up knowledge they already had. Despite the large number of students, we were able to have many dry run Masses and one actual First Mass.

If one diocese in Alabama could assemble this many priests, imagine how much clergy interest could be drummed up in other dioceses, too. Clearly there are many opportunities for additional classes elsewhere; the challenge is primarily to invest the time to organize such efforts. [Pictured is Fr. Tom Woods preparing for a practice Mass]

De Profúndis

The Offertory Antiphon that is repeated on the concluding Sundays of the Liturgical Year is the De Profúndis, taken from Psalm 129. This selection is associated with the penitential season of Lent as well as with the month of November, the month of prayer for the Souls in Purgatory.

One of the more memorable selections in our choir’s repertoire is Antonio Salieri’s setting of the De Profúndis [YouTube]. The piece begins softly, then gradually builds towards a crescendo in the concluding Glória Patri. This increasingly insistent tone, reminiscent of the buildup in Ravel’s Bolero, compellingly conveys man’s utter dependency upon God’s Mercy.

Holy Mother Church has enriched the praying of the De Profúndis with a Partial Indulgence when said as an Act of Contrition, especially in preparation for Confession. The text is as follows:
De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine:
Dómine, exáudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuæ intendéntes,
in vocem deprecatiónis meæ.
Si iniquitátes observáveris, Dómine:
Dómine, quis sustinébit?
Quia apud te propitiátio est:
et propter legem tuam sustínui te, Dómine.
Sustínuit ánima mea in verbo ejus:
sperávit ánima mea in Dómino.
A custódia matutína usque ad noctem,
speret Israël in Dómino.
Quia apud Dóminum misericórdia,
et copiósa apud eum redémptio.
Et ipse rédimet Israël
ex ómnibus iniquitátibus ejus.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper,
et in saécula sæculórum. Amen.

Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord!
Lord, hear my voice.
Let Thine ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt mark our iniquities:
O Lord, who shall abide it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness;
and by reason of Thy law I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word:
my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even unto night,
let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy:
and with Him plenteous redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.
Christmas Day Mass

Through the kind permission of Sr. Bridget Bearss, RSCJ, Head of School at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills, we will have Christmas Day High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Academy Chapel at the usual time of 9:45 AM.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/24 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (St. John of the Cross, Confessor & Deacon)
  • Tue. 11/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Benedict/Holy Name of Mary (St. Catherine, Virgin & Martyr)
  • Sun. 11/30 2:00 PM: High Mass at St. Hyacinth (First Sunday of Advent) – Celebrant: Fr. Joe Tuskiewicz
[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 November 23, 2014. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lisa Ling's "Called to the Collar," featuring our own seminarians

Many of you may find this video interesting, featuring a notable exception to the lamentable declining number of priestly vocations: in the Diocese of Lansing, there has been a consistently high number of vocations over recent years, with the seminarians coming through Sacred Heart Major Seminary and going on be ordained in their home diocese. Some inspiring stories here about some men "close the the heart," as they say at Sacred Heart; like Fr. Todd and Fr. Gary, the identical twins who both heard the call to the priesthood but initially kept it a secret from each other.

Watch their answers to Lisa Ling. Some are notably clever, sometimes amusing, Ling's questions during the interviews often seem perfectly positioned to invite a teachable moment. There's even a shot of Ling having a beer with our seminarians inside O'Berg's, the seminary pub.

On the whole "death with dignity" thing

From Guy Noir: "A Protestant sermon on Euthanasia that is essentially Catholic moral theology.

"Well-done; and far more connecting in its directness than a polite interview with Rev. James Martin, I daresay."

John Piper, "We Are Not Our Own: On God, Brittany Maynard, and Physician-Assisted Suicide" (Desiring God, October 31, 2014).

[Hat tip to JM]

"Canonizing the Second Vatican Council"? -- the Vindication of Paul VI

[Advisory & disclaimer: See Rules 7-9]

In an essay from this past spring, "Paul VI and John Paul II on the Council and Its Interpretation -- and Fatima" (Saint Louis Catholic, April 29, 2014), the article's author writes [added emphasis is his]:
I've been struck in the last several days by the observation of many that by the canonizations and beatification of this year that Pope Francis was in effect "canonizing the Second Vatican Council". This effort has been obvious to me for some time, but for some reason the phrase kept sticking with me last weekend.

Therefore, I was more than usually struck by comments I recently read from these popes themselves about the Council they are being used to "canonize", and of its consequences.

This first passage is from Paul VI [during his 1967 pilgrimage to Fatima], and I actually feel very sorry for him-- his worry and disillusionment come through. And note he comments about the Council's interpretation and then speaks of Fatima:
... The ecumenical council has reawakened many energies in the bosom of the Church.... What an evil it would be if an arbitrary interpretation, not authorized by the Magisterium of the Church, were to transform this spiritual renewal into a restlessness which dissolves the Church's traditional structure and constitution, substituting the theology of true and great teachings with new and partisan ideologies which depart from the norm of faith, that which modern thought, often lacking the light of reason, neither comprehends nor accepts, finally transforming the apostolic anxiety of redemptive charity into an acquiescence in the negative forms of the profane mentality of worldly customs. What a disenchantment, then, would be caused by our effort at a universal approach!

This thought carries our memory at this moment to those countries in which religious liberty is practically suppressed and where the denial of God is promoted... We declare: the world is in danger. Therefore we have come by foot to the feet of the Queen of Peace to ask for the gift that only God can give: peace.... Men, think of the gravity and the greatness of this hour, which could be decisive for the history of the present and future generation. The picture of the world and of its destiny presented here is immense and dramatic. It is the scene that the Madonna opens before us, the scene we contemplate with horrified eyes."

-- from the Homily of Paul VI, at Fatima, May 13, 1967 (emphasis added [by SLC])
St. John Paul II also echoed these thoughts fourteen years later:
We must admit realistically and with profound suffering that Christians today feel lost, confused, perplexed and also disappointed; there are diffused ideas in contrast with the truth as revealed and always taught; there are diffused true and proper heresies in the field of dogma and morals [...] the liturgy has been altered; immersed in intellectual and moral relativism and therefore in permissiveness, Christians are tempted by atheism, by agnostics, by agnosticism, by a vaguely preached illuminism and by a sociological Christianity, deprived of definite dogmas and moral objectivity. It is necessary to begin all over again.

The Final Solution: No Jews, Not One

One of the greatest crimes against humanity was perpetrated in meeting of just over an hour in a Berlin suburb in a villa at 56–58 Am Großen Wannsee -- an exemplification of what Hannah Arendt called "the banality of evil" -- horrific, diabolical evil -- and how it can occur under conditions of business as usual among common bureaucrats.

A very good film, entitled Conspiracy (2001), directed by Frank Pierson, and starring Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich and Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann, is obligatory viewing. Michael Voris draws parallels to spiritual battles looming in our own day, about which we do well to bear in mind that spiritual battles often spill over into the material world through portals of political power.

In case you missed it: an interesting correspondence between Ross Douthat and Fr. James Martin

"James Martin and Ross Douthat on Pope Francis, the Synod and the Demands of Law and Mercy" (America, November 18, 2014).

Granted, it's an online conversation between a New York Times religion columnist and the Culture Editor of the Jesuit magazine America. Yet there are some provocative moments. For example, this, in which Douthat responds to an earlier correspondence by Martin:
Dear Father Martin,

I’ll start with your provocative question of whether some matters can be too dangerous to even discuss, where I think the answer is no and yes: Mostly no in the casual context in which you and I are debating, but absolutely yes when the person encouraging the discussion has supreme teaching authority in the church. Would it be advisable, for instance, for the pope to invite a discussion among the faithful on whether to strike ten stanzas from the Nicene Creed? Or whether to discard transubstantiation in favor of a Zwinglian understanding of communion? Or whether to strip the Gospel of John from the canon? Or—to pick some debates from the not at all distant past—whether to integrate theories of racial and eugenic hierarchy into Catholic moral teaching? Read more >>
[Hat tip to E. Echeverria]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to the metro Detroit and East Michigan area

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dust up between Jamie K. A. Smith and Eduardo Echeverria over religious epistemology

Jamie K. A. Smith, author of Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (2006), has authored another book in his series echoing the title of Edward Albee's 1962 play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" -- namely, Who's Afraid of Relativism?: Community, Contingency, and Creaturehood (2014).

Sacred Heart Major Seminary Professor, Eduardo Echeverria, who is well-versed in both continental and analytical traditions of philosophy, has published an article-length critical review of this book in the latest issue of Calvin Theological Journal, as Smith reveals in his blog, where he offers his own response to Echeverria, entitled "Responding to a Common Critique of 'Who's Afraid of Relativism?'" (Fors Clavigera, November 12, 2014). Smith's post features both Echeverria's full critique as well as Smith's own response, entitled, with deliberate irony: "Echeverria's Protestant Epistemology: A Catholic Response" (formally, Echeverria is the Catholic and Smith the Protestant).

Predictably, Smith's "response" in turn provoked yet another response by Echeverria, this one posted on the blog of the Tyndale University College and Seminary site, "A Response to James K. A. Smith, by Eduardo Echeverria" (Every Thought Captive).

The chief questions at issue in the debate concern religious epistemology and whether some sort of realist epistemology is still viable, as Echeverria holds, or not, as Smith insists. Smith has clearly drunk deeply at the well of post-modern philosophers of the sort he's been writing about and teaching for upwards of the last two decades, while from Echeverria's perspective of the perennial philosophy, Smith's well appears more like a shallow puddle. See for yourselves.

[This article is permanently archived at Philosophia Perennis]