Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mordecai, the Middle East, and cheese steak hoagies

ANDRÉE SEU PETERSON, "Allotted boundaries" (World, August 9, 2014):
The cheese steak hoagie I had for dinner makes me wonder why I eat well while people in Burundi, where my brother preached, have beans and cabbage every day. The torching of Christian churches in Syria and Iraq makes me wonder why I get to sit in safety here in Pennsylvania. God is no respecter of persons and He loves all His children, so why does He treat us differently?

The question sparked a mental chain reaction through the Bible. First stop, 2,500 years ago in a secret communiqué from a man at the king’s gate to the chamber of Queen Esther: “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).

I like the combination of the “Who knows” and the unabashed Godward speculation. Mordecai was too humble to say so, but if Esther came to the kingdom for such a time as this, then Mordecai came to the kingdom for such a time as this too. The one who lights the fire under Esther is surely as strategically placed as Esther.

Is it only Esther—and a few key people like Moses and David and Jesus—whom God has had born in the precise century and precise location He desires? The New Testament shows it is not: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:26-27).

So then God sets the times and dwelling places of all men, not just some “important” men. Not only so, but He discloses the reason: to enhance the possibility of each individual to “seek God” and “perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.” Consider the height and depth and length and breadth of the kindness of God! “Not wishing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9), He goes to much trouble to maximize each person’s likelihood to come to Him for salvation.

Back to my cheese steak hoagie question, and the harassing of believers in the Middle East vis-à-vis this writer’s comfort in America. To borrow Mordecai’s phrase, “Who knows” whether God foreknew which individuals would be able to handle persecution without renouncing the faith, and which individuals would buckle if they were pushed too hard? And who knows whether He carefully measured out our sufferings, with tailor-made trials for each believer, “if necessary” (1 Peter 1:6), according to His promise not to let us be tempted beyond our ability (1 Corinthians 10:13)?

Is this not gracious to both—to the one, affording the opportunity for martyrdom and a martyr’s reward (“Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life,” Hebrews 11:35); to the other, affording a heaven he might have lost if he had not kept the faith to the end (Hebrews 2:6)?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Douthat: "Against Walter Kasper (II)"

Interesting. Guy Noir suggests it's as if Douthat writes:
Dear Roman leaders who like to act like social action is for everyone while theology is for pinheads:
"...[R]ight or wrong, good or evil, merciful or destructive, the Kasper proposal is not a minor tweak to Catholic discipline: It’s a depth charge, a change pregnant with further changes, an alteration that could have far more sweeping consequences than innovations (married priests; female cardinals) that might seem more radical on their face.

"For reasons of theology, sociology, and simple logic, admitting the remarried to communion has the potential to transform not only Catholic teaching and Catholic life, but the church’s very self-understanding. These are the real stakes in this controversy; these are the terms, here and in Rome, on which it needs to be debated." Read more >>
[Hat tip to JM]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Memory of the Camps: What scientific-minded, rational socialists are capable of

[Viewer advisory: graphic horror]

"The dead have been buried. It remains for us to care for these, the living. It remains for us to hope that Germans may help to mend what they have broken and cleanse what they have befouled. Thousands of German people were made to see for themselves, to bury the dead, to file past the victims. This was the end of the journey they had so confidently begun in 1933. Twelve years? ... No, in terms of barbarity and brutality they had travelled backwards for twelve thousand years. Unless the world learns the lesson these pictures teach, night will fall ... but by God's grace, we who live will learn."
[Hat tip to M.F.]

CDF's Müller excoriates second-marriages theories

Sandro Magister, "Müller: 'These Theories Are Radically Mistaken'" (www.chiesa, July 29, 2014), notes that the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith refutes the ideas of those who want to permit second marriages with the first spouse still alive, observing that he is backed up by Cardinal Sebastián, who also disagrees with Cardinal Kasper, and asks, "But whose side is Pope Francis on?"

Some excerpts:
"The theories you have pointed out seek to make Catholic doctrine a sort of museum of Christian theories: a sort of reserve that would be of interest only to a few specialists. Life, for its part, would have nothing to do with Jesus Christ as he is and as the Church shows him to be. Strict Christianity would be turned into a new civil religion, politically correct and reduced to a few values tolerated by the rest of society. This would achieve the unconfessed objective of some: to get the Word of God out of the way for the sake of ideological control over all of society.

Jesus did not become flesh in order to expound a few simple theories that would tranquilize the conscience and ultimately leave things the way they are. The message of Jesus is a new life. If anyone were to think and live by separating life from doctrine, not only would he deform the doctrine of the Church by turning it into a sort of idealistic pseudo-philosophy, but he would also be fooling himself. Living as a Christian means living on the basis of faith in God. Adulterating this arrangement means realizing the dreaded compromise between God and the devil."
"The facts of Scripture reveal that, in addition to mercy, holiness and justice also belong to the mystery of God. If we were to obscure these divine attributes and trivialize the reality of sin, it would make no sense to beg for the mercy of God on behalf of persons. This makes it understandable why Jesus, after treating the adulterous woman with great mercy, added as an expression of his love: “Go, and do not sin again” (Jn 8:11). The mercy of God is not a dispensation from the commandments of God and from the teachings of the Church. It is entirely the contrary: God, in his infinite mercy, grants us the power of grace for the complete fulfillment of his commands and so as to reestablish in us, after the fall, his perfect image as Father of Heaven."
This is fascinating, as our underground correspondent, Guy Noir - Private Eye, observes: "Mueller sounds quite on target and on fire here. And like he is working for a different clearing house than the one in the news for the past year! I am impressed.... And mystified. The signals from Francis sound nothing like this. And Mueller himself has in his comments sounded like anything but a friend of Traditionalists.... The Modern Church. Quite the mystery."

[Hat tip to JM]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Liturgy and the politics of humility

"The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender's inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual." -- C.S. Lewis, from the preface to "Paradise Lost", ch 3

There's a treasure trove of material embedded in this thought that begs for development, though I haven't the time to do it at the moment. To begin with, it occurs to me that Americans and moderns generally are far more uncomfortable with the "pomp and circumstance" of any sort of ceremony than Europeans and Britons were at least a generation or two ago. Laymen are more comfortable in leisure attire than in neckties and coats, and a bishop is likely to be more comfortable giving a "high five" to one of the faithful than having his ring kissed by someone kneeling in front of him. How this would reflect on the Holy Father's penchant for gestures of humility and eschewal of traditional honors of the papal office, I'm certain I do not know, although it would likely make for an interesting essay.

[Hat tip to Keith Kenny]

Why Texas matters: Obama, the US bishops, & the Mexican border crisis

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Extraordinary Community News: First Extraordinary Faith celebrant training session held at Sacred Heart Church in Texarkana, TX

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

Tridentine Community News (July 26, 2014):
Given the broad reach of EWTN, it seemed logical to use the platform to offer celebrant and musician training in the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass to viewers of Extraordinary Faith. While there are several options for priest training in the Tridentine Mass (the Fraternity of St. Peter, Society of St. John Cantius, Institute of Christ the King, and Latin Mass Society of England and Wales all offer courses, for example), most are week-long seminars, rich in theology and academic background on the Mass. These are wonderful opportunities for those who can afford the time and travel expense, but in our experience here in Windsor and Detroit, it is far more practical to bring the training to the priest, and to do it more quickly. Many of our local celebrants learned the Mass in one or two days of intensive practice, soon after followed by the celebration of their first Mass. There is nothing like putting recently-learned skills into practice, to commit them to memory. It overcomes reluctance and insecurities, while building confidence. Why not extend this successful formula to a broader, virtually worldwide audience?

We are delighted to report that the first training session resulting from Extraordinary Faith took place this past week: Fr. Michael Adams, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Texarkana, Texas, took us up on our offer. In under two days, Fr. Adams and his two chief altar servers learned the Low Mass and Missa Cantata. At the conclusion of the second day, Fr. Adams adeptly celebrated his first Low Mass, with his servers assisting at the altar, pictured below.

Next up on the agenda is musician training: A Gregorian Chant workshop is now being planned at Sacred Heart, possibly to be led by one of our local music directors. The goal is to train their choir so that regular High Masses (as well as Low Masses) may be added to the parish schedule. Many churches including this one are blessed with skilled singers [the parish music director also serves as the director of the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra], but even those talented individuals can benefit from formal exposure to chant notation, the methods of singing chant, the Liber Usuális, and the structure of the Latin Propers of the Mass. Kudos are due to Fr. Adams and his team for embracing this comprehensive project with enthusiasm.

If the Extraordinary Form is going to become more widespread, we need to think like entrepreneurs and make the learning and implementation of it easy and non-threatening. The catch-phrase of famed Olympic gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi is equally relevant for priests and musicians: “You can do it!”

Bus Tour to Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation

Mike Semaan’s Prayer Pilgrimages bus tour operation will be making its annual trip to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio on Thursday, September 4. Assumption Grotto pastor Fr. Eduard Perrone will celebrate a Tridentine High Mass in the historic Upper Basilica of the church.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation dominates the small town of Carey: In addition to the main church with its Upper and Lower Basilicas, the old historic Shrine Church is open for adoration. Down the block is the huge Shrine Park with its baldacchino-surmounted outdoor High Altar. Quite a sight to behold. The complex includes a gift shop and a cafeteria where pilgrims will be served lunch.

For more information about the Shrine, visit To register for the tour or for further information, visit or call (248) 250-6005.

Guardian Angel Prayer

One of the most important prayers that Catholics should commit to memory is the Prayer to One’s Guardian Angel. Holy Mother Church has enriched the recitation of this prayer with a Partial Indulgence:

Ángele Dei, qui custos es mei, me tibi commíssum pietáte supérna illúmina, custódi, rege et gubérna. Amen.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom His love entrusts me here, enlighten and guard, rule and guide me. Amen.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 07/28 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (Ss. Nazarius & Celsus, Martyrs, St. Victor I, Pope & Martyr, & St. Innocent I, Pope & Confessor)
  • Tue. 07/29 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (St. Martha, Virgin)
  • Fri. 08/01 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (Sacred Heart of Jesus) [First Friday]
[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 July 26, 2014. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

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

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Celebrity status: a national subculture names its drinking game after Scott Hahn

"New Scott Hahn Drinking Game Has Readers Taking Shot After Every Mention Of Word 'Covenant'” (Eye of the Tiber, June 29, 2014):
Steubenville, OH––A new, dangerous drinking game invented by Franciscan University of Steubenville sophomore Ben Johnson, known as Covenant, is sweeping Catholic universities. The game, which involves players reading any book ever published by Scott Hahn, and then taking a shot of whiskey or beer every time the word “covenant” is mentioned, is raising major concerns with university officials.

What originally started out as fun for some has now turned dangerous, officials are reporting, with one man listed in critical condition and at least 47 others being admitted to area hospitals for alcohol poisoning. Now health professionals are warning Catholics of the dangers of playing Covenant.

“This is one of, if not the most, lethal games I’ve ever come across,” said Dr. Candice Jarvis, medical adviser to the USCCB. “The thing about alcohol is that it affects your ability to recognize how many times Scott Hahn uses the word “covenant,” and it absolutely effects your ability to ask the question of whether or not there are any synonyms of the word he could be using. You go into the game thinking the word will be read two or three times, and next thing you know you’re on your 26th shot after just a few paragraphs. I’d even venture to say that it would be safer if students took a shot after every mention of the word ‘the.’”

Game creator Ben Johnson told EOTT this morning that the game is admittedly more dangerous and “way crazier” than the Rick Warren drinking game he played when he was an Evangelical. “In that game we’d chug Pepsi every time we came across the word ‘Purpose.’ The worst thing I ever witnessed playing that game was people getting major sugar highs.”

At press time, Scott Hahn has urged students to consider the potential “prophets and losses” of playing Covenant.
You know you've reached a level of celebrity worthy of stardom when a whole subculture begins naming drinking games after ya. Should I envy the man?

[Hat tip to Shawn McElhinney]

Extraordinary Community News: Reasons for the Threefold Kyrie and other Random Tidbits

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

Tridentine Community News (July 20, 2014):
In today’s column, we will touch on a few points of interest from the world of Extraordinary Form trivia:

There are three Orations in the Mass (Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion) and three Antiphons (Introit, Offertory, and Communion). The priest always says or chants Dóminus vobíscum before praying each Collect. Why does he chant Dóminus vobíscum before the Offertory Antiphon? It’s a remnant from when there were intercessory prayers in the Mass at that point, a precursor to the Ordinary Form’s Prayers of the Faithful.

The Sign of the Cross which the celebrant makes at the beginning of the Introit harks back to the time before the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar commenced the Mass. The Tridentine Mass used to begin with merely the Sign of the Cross, as the Ordinary Form does today.

Symbolism of the Holy Trinity is rife throughout Catholic liturgy. One place where it seems to be present is in the 3x3 Kyrie: Three repetitions of three petitions. It would be logical to conclude that these are petitions to each of the three Members of the Holy Trinity, however that is actually not the case. St. Gregory the Great explained that all nine invocations are addressed to Christ.

In a sung Mass, the celebrant quietly reads the Antiphons and the sung parts of the Ordinary (Kyrie, Glória, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei) while the choir sings them. Is this pointless repetition? No: Holy Mother Church teaches that the priest stands in persóna Christi – in place of Christ – at the altar. The Mass is addressed to God the Father, and the purpose of the repetition is to ensure that the entire Mass is prayed through the celebrant by Christ.

There are 18 Gregorian Chant Mass settings. Some of the Masses are assigned a name as well as a number, e.g. Mass IX – Cum júbilo, Mass XI – Orbis Factor. Those names come from the former tropes, or additional words, which used to be inserted between the words Kyrie and eleison. Though the troping was suppressed, the names of the Mass settings stuck. [above four tidbits from the June 2014 FSSP Newsletter]

The small bell tower that one sometimes sees on the roof of a church approximately over the center opening of the Communion Rail is a symbol of the original Sanctus Bell. Before hand bells came into popular use at the altar, churches had a bell in this roof location which was rung at the Consecration. Nowadays the small bell towers rarely contain actual bells; there are merely a reminder of a former custom. When exterior bells are rung at the Consecration, they almost always are the main tower bell(s) of the church.

A few times per year, you will hear the celebrant chant Benedicámus Dómino instead of Ite, Missa est at the end of Mass. This form of conclusion to the Mass is only used on Holy Thursday and when a procession follows the Mass, as at Corpus Christi. Older hand missals state that this was also said at Masses without a Gloria, such as during Advent and Lent, but that rubric was changed in 1962.

Liturgical Colors

Ever wonder about the colors of the priest’s vestments? Each day in the Ordo – the Church’s liturgical calendar – is assigned a color, as can be seen in the column labeled “C” in the adjacent image. Green is for Sundays After Pentecost, White is for Feasts of our Lord and our Lady and of Confessors and Virgins, Red is for Martyrs and the Holy Ghost, Violet is for Advent and Lent, Rose is for the Third Sunday of Advent and the Fourth Sunday of Lent, and Black is for All Souls Day, funerals, and Requiem Masses. Gold may be substituted for any color except violet or black.

As with so many issues, practicalities play a part: If a church is going to invest in a Solemn Set of vestments, meaning a set including a Dalmatic for a Deacon and a Tunicle and Humeral Veil for a Subdeacon, the first color that is most often obtained is gold, because A) it can be used on most of the days of the year, and B) for solemn events such as Solemn High Mass, it makes sense to use gold, a color which intrinsically suggests solemnity.

Occasionally one sees combination color vestments, for example whitish-gold, or a white vestment with red trim. Especially in the latter case, this is a conscious decision to have a vestment which can be used on either white or red days. While it’s not optimal, it is economical, and vestments historically have not been cheap. Fortunately, the world of global e-commerce has begun to make various church supplies, including some rather good vestments, available at prices significantly lower than custom-made sets tend to cost. While vestments custom-made by skilled craftsmen and women are still the best option for quality and durability, their high prices put them out of reach of many congregations.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 07/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (St. Laurence of Brindisi, Confessor & Doctor)
  • Tue. 07/22 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (St. Mary Magdalene, Penitent)
  • Fri. 07/25 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (St. James the Greater, Apostle)
    - Note: Mass has been relocated to St. Joseph Church
    - Dinner for young adults age 18-35 follows Mass, sponsored by Juventútem Michigan
  • Sun. 07/27 12:00 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (Seventh 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 July 20, 2014. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

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

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"The Essential Rule of Interpretation of Pope Francis"

Fr. Bernd Hagenkord SJ, head of the German-language Section of Vatican Radio, is quoted in The Atlantic, according to "The Essential Rule of Interpretation of Pope Francis" (RC, July 14, 2014) thusly:
Francis knows exactly how power is spelled,” says Bernd Hagenkord, a Jesuit who is in charge of German programming for Vatican Radio. “He’s a communicator in the league with Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. They say he’s being unclear, but we know exactly what he means.”

Pope St. John Paul II's worry that the Council opened the Church to the "Prince of this World"

Fr. Paul J. McDonald, in an op-ed piece entitled "The Council Opened the Church to the Prince of this World" (RC, July 19, 2014), quotes the encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Dominum et Vificantem, 23, where the recently sainted late John Paul II seems to say that the Council consciously took a risk in opening the Church to the world -- that is, the world that is dominated by the "Prince of this world." It seems that he though the risk was worth taking for the sake of evangelization, but that it was a significant risk. John Paul wrote:
One must learn how to "discern" the salvific fruits of the Spirit bestowed in the Council carefully from everything that may instead come originally from the "prince of this world." This discernment in implementing the Council's work is especially necessary in view of the fact that the Council opened itself widely to the contemporary world.
Read more >>, because there is more.

"It's over: genocide has been accomplished"

RC reports:
For two thousand years, our dearest brethren saw it all from Mosul: Romanized Greeks, Hellenized Persians, Hellenized Romans from all origins later called "Byzantines", Armenians, Arabs from the desert with a religion of the sword, Egyptians, Crusaders, Mongols, Turks, French and British, "Independence"... Then the clumsiest Empire in history, an Empire unwanted by most voters, unwarranted by the Republic's own Constitution, led by bellicose hawks motivated by God knows what, justifying their actions on untruths, arrived, upsetting a balance that was not the best, but was best of all possible outcomes. Two Vicars of Christ had cried their hearts out in vain warning of the grave danger of an intervention, of the, "extremisms that could stem from it."

Things were never the same.

For years, we have been warning that support for terrorists in neighboring Syria would surely end badly. But even we could not imagine that it would end so badly so fast and over such a vast area. And yet, the insane Empire-builders are still handing billions and billions, and hundreds of millions of dollars to "moderate" terrorists! Where's the outrage? Have you contacted your congressman, senator, president, MP, prime-minister expressing your outrage, begging this madness to stop?

This evening, our brethren the Syrian (Syriac) Catholics and Chaldean Catholics, who worship in the language of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and all other Christians are gone from Mosul. There may be some hidden in various places, but all public signs of their presence are gone. The seat of the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy of Mosul was completely burned down by the terrorist "Islamic State" this very evening, July 18, 2014, several converging reports seem to confirm.**

After two thousand years, it is finished. It's over.*** Who will pay for the lasting damage lying Western politicians created by starting a process that would lead to what not even the first Islamic rulers, thirteen centuries ago, ever did, the obliteration of Christian life and populations? "Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in due time," says the Lord. His judgment over this generation and their rulers will be overwhelming and frightful.

In Mosul, genocide* has been accomplished. Where's the outrage? There's no more outrage, just silence - cut by sounds of blades, gunshots, bombs, and the muezzin's loud calls to prayer.
For further details

Related: Sign of Genocide (RC, July 19, 2014).

For the record: changes never called for by the Church

Michael Voris has been recently compiling a list of changes in the Church that were never mandated by Vatican II, changes against which he sees (and represents) a perhaps yet small but increasingly significant "Catholic uprising." I started listing these changes in the first of several video episodes in which he offered partial listings. He states that his complete list includes 60 or more topics, which the establishment Catholic media has not touched because it considers them too controversial.

Since I find these sorts of lists interesting, I compile them for my own later reference. Here is the incomplete list I have so far. Maybe someone can point me to a more complete listing in time.
  1. Communion in the hand
  2. Altar girls
  3. Priests facing the people
  4. Gregorian chant insisted upon by V2
  5. Eucharistic ministers
  6. Protestant music in Mass
  7. Use of Latin in Mass insisted on by V2
  8. Movement of tabernacles from center of altars
  9. Smashing of Catholic art and architecture
  10. Near disavowal of confession
  11. Near total absence of the promotion of devotional life
  12. Parish youth ministries neglecting and/or rejecting Catholic doctrine
  13. Parish adult religious education neglecting Catholic doctrine
  14. Destruction of Catholic education in parishes
  15. Catholics leading the way on gay marriage approval
  16. Refusal to enforce Canon 915 - to pro-aborts
  17. Orthodox seminarians being carefully monitored, or not ordained or delayed
  18. "Gay Masses" in many dioceses with the bishops' knowledge
  19. CCHD financial support for pro-abortion and pro-contraception groups
  20. CRS giving donations to Obama campaign
  21. Homosexual or homosexual-friendly clergy
  22. Enormous resistance to the Traditional Latin Mass by bishops and priests
  23. Non-stop emphasis on "earthly" matters like immigration and gun-control
  24. Failure to preach against contraception