Monday, June 30, 2008

Paul VI: The Credo of the People of God

Most folks have never heard of it, but it's one of the most succint, yet thorough, summaries of the Catholic Faith. Issued 40 years ago today by Pope Paul VI, the Credo is largely forgotten, mostly due to the decision by many Catholics of the late 60s to completely ignore it. In a bit of a twist, it's come out lately that the Credo was ghost written for the pope by Jacques Maritain.

This was sort of Pope Paul's way of trying to get a handle on the whackjobbery that was sweeping the Church. As Sandro relates in the above link:

On January 12, Cardinal Journet wrote to Maritain to tell him that he would soon be meeting with the pope, in Rome. Neither of them knew that Paul VI intended to enact the Year of Faith. But Maritain confided to Journet that a few days before, "an idea had come to me," which he describes this way:

"The Sovereign Pontiff should draft a complete and detailed profession of faith, in which everything that is really contained in the Symbol of Nicea would be presented explicitly. This will be, in the history of the Church, the profession of faith of Paul VI."

Although Maritain did not ask him to do so, Journet photocopied the philosopher's letter and gave it to the pope, when he met with him on January 18. On that occasion, Paul VI asked the theologian for his judgment on the state of the Church's health. "Tragic," Journet answered. Both he and the pope were in shock over the publication in Holland, one year earlier and with the blessing of the bishops, of a new Catechism aimed at nothing less than "substituting one orthodoxy for another in the Church, a modern orthodoxy for the traditional orthodoxy" (a comment from the commission of cardinals instituted by Paul VI to examine the Catechism, of which Journet was a member).

Of course, it wasn't too long after this that the wheels really came off Pope Paul's wagon when Humanae Vitae came out. More on that later, though.

If anyone ever asks you about what Catholics believe, pointing them to the Credo of the People of God might be a good start, assuming they know a bit of the terminology. A snippet to whet your appetite:

We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church built by Jesus Christ on that rock which is Peter. She is the Mystical Body of Christ; at the same time a visible society instituted with hierarchical organs, and a spiritual community; the Church on earth, the pilgrim People of God here below, and the Church filled with heavenly blessings; the germ and the first fruits of the Kingdom of God, through which the work and the sufferings of Redemption are continued throughout human history, and which looks for its perfect accomplishment beyond time in glory.[24] In the course of time, the Lord Jesus forms His Church by means of the sacraments emanating from His plenitude.[25] By these she makes her members participants in the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit who gives her life and movement.[26] She is therefore holy, though she has sinners in her bosom, because she herself has no other life but that of grace: it is by living by her life that her members are sanctified; it is by removing themselves from her life that they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for these offenses, of which she has the power to heal her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Some of you may have noticed a change

Of course, I'm talking about the title picture above. It was Carvaggio's painting of the martyrdom of St. Peter. Now, it's Pope Pius XII. Why so? CWN provides the answer.

The beatification of Pope Pius XII is not imminent, the Vatican's chief spokesman told reporters at a June 17 press conference.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the beatification of the wartime Pontiff-- like the beatification of Pope John Paul II (bio - news)-- remains "in the kingdom of the future." By that, he explained, he meant that "it is not possible to say with any certainty" when the beatifications will take place.

This is very sad. There have been rumors for a long time that the entire cause has been completed. The only thing that is holding back his canonization is slander and calumny related to the garbage peddled by the intellectually dishonest (or liars; there is no other option) like Wills and Cornwell. Of course, there's also the point that the KGB seems to have started the entire thing as a means of discrediting him. There are numerous books dedicated to exonerating Pius XII from these charges, including from Jewish sources. Educate yourself before casting judgment or allowing anyone else to mutilate this holy man's memory.

As a mode of comparison as you read, consider this. Blessed John XXIII made secret deals with the Soviets for the exact thing that Pius XII is blasted for allegedly not doing, namely, failing to confront publicly the evil of his time. Blessed John's actions wrought the presence of Orthodox observers at Vatican II. Whoopee. Pope Pius's actions saved thousands of lives. So let's try to use a little bit of charity in examining things with 20/20 hindsight and without the benefit of omniscience to know what might have been.

It's sort of funny that other groups are being allowed to shout down or delay formal canonizations like this. In this case, it's Jews, but Anglicans had just as much yelling over Thomas More and John Fisher. It's why it took 400 years for them to be canonized. Maybe that will be the case for Pius XII as well. That would be most disappointing.

Anyways, I'm putting Pius XII up as my new title pic in hopes of his speedy road to sainthood.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rolling Right Along With Pope Paul and the New Mass

From here:

If the divine Latin language kept us apart from the children, from youth, from the world of labor and of affairs, if it were a dark screen, not a clear window, would it be right for us fishers of souls to maintain it as the exclusive language of prayer and religious intercourse? What did St. Paul have to say about that? Read chapter 14 of the first letter to the Corinthians: "In Church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue" (I Corinthians 14:19).

Yes. Speaking with the mind is more important than with a tongue. But doesn't that would seem to support the internal view of participation, rather than the merely external?

If we analogized this bit about the screen, we could just as easily say that the Easterners should trash their iconostases.

St. Augustine seems to be commenting on this when he says, "Have no fear of teachers, so long as all are instructed" (P.L. 38, 228, Serm. 37; cf. also Serm. 229, p. 1371). But, in any case, the new rite of the Mass provides that the faithful "should be able to sing together, in Latin, at least the parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, especially the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father" (Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 19).

And how often does this happen? And what of the preceding section of this document called for Latin as the norm for the rest of the Mass as well.

But, let us bear this well in mind, for our counsel and our comfort: the Latin language will not thereby disappear. It will continue to be the noble language of the Holy See's official acts; it will remain as the means of teaching in ecclesiastical studies and as the key to the patrimony of our religious, historical and human culture. If possible, it will reflourish in splendor.

It's disappeared as far as the laity are concerned. Ditto for most priests.

Positive movement on the SSPX front?

Fr. Z has a source reporting that "all is going well."

Read the rest here.

The British Reformation Saint You Never Hear About

His name is John Fisher. He was the only bishop who stood up and denounced Henry's insane descent into schism and heresy. Prior to his falling out with Henry, Fisher spent much effort in dismantling the errors of Martin Luther. It helped that Fisher a brilliant theologian, so much so that he was regarded as the ablest opponent of Lutheranism.

Of course, Henry was all in favor of this stuff until he wanted to get rid of Catherine. Once Fisher began opposing him on this, the die had been cast. Fisher was thrown into the Tower. Pope Paul III immediately made him a cardinal. Henry offered to send Fisher's head to the pope so that he could have it fitted for the red hat. It wasn't long after that he was executed.

The shame of it all is that you can't really find any of Fisher's really great anti-Lutheran works anymore (unless you are in a seminary library, I guess). What you can read, though, are his beautiful Expositions on the Penitential Psalms. A very moving spiritual work that I recommend to everyone.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy St. Irenaeus Day

St. Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons (in France) back in the late second century. I suppose we could call him the spiritual grandchild of St. John the Evangelist, who was the teacher of St. Polycarp who was the teacher of Irenaeus. He was a formidable opponent of gnostic heretics and is one of the best sources for learning just how insane their ideas really were.

His magnum opus is a five book set called Against Heresies. It is an amazing work and is a great source for demonstrating the historical claims of the Catholic Church. Irenaeus discusses Church teaching on everything from apostolic succession to papal primacy to the Eucharist. There are some parts that drag on and on with details on what the gnostics believe, but it's well worth slogging through. The dull bits are few and far between anyway.

On the eve of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, St. Irenaeus reminds us:

But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition.

Against Heresies, Book Three.

St. Irenaeus, pray for us!

Happy belated St. Thomas More Day

Yeah, I'm a week off with this, but even with my tardiness, I can't just let the feast day of one of my best friends slip by without recognition. As a lawyer, it's always good to see that some of us do make it into heaven. There's actually a lot of lawyer saints out there, but Thomas is our patron, and God knows we need his intervention these days, when the entire legal profession is mostly populated with scumbags.

As King Henry VIII's good servant, he acted as Chancellor of England, disposing of complicated legal matters and much of the realm's administration, including the suppression of heresy. As God's servant, he defended the primacy of the Pope and refused to acknowledge Henry's lust-driven quest to put away the saintly Catherine of Aragon in favor of Anne Boleyn. As was Henry's custom with those who opposed him, Thomas was beheaded.

As far as writings go, most folks will remember him for Utopia. This is a shame. His best work by far is The Sadness of Christ which he wrote during his imprisonment in the Tower of London.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the marvelous movie Man for All Seasons starring Paul Scofield and Robert Shaw. It won Scofield an Oscar and is one of the best Catholic movies ever.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Continuing with Paul VI and the New Mass

Rolling right along from where we left off in this speech:

It is here that the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language. No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant.

Is it just me, or does this sound like a guy being dragged kicking and screaming into this whole arrangement? This is like one of those drug ads that you see on TV where they spend 20 seconds telling you that the drug is great and then roll off about 5 minutes worth of how the drug isn't fit for anyone who eats or breathes and will kill you in 95% of cases.

Did I miss the citations to Vatican II that expressly called for Latin to remain the norm and Gregorian chant to be given pride of place?

We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church's values? Thus far, the whole discussion is loaded with regret, but these are all excellent questions nonetheless. The answer will seem banal, prosaic. Yet it is a good answer, because it is human, because it is apostolic.

Fire away.

Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more—particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech.

As our parishioner from Arizona informed us below, most folks probably don't understand the Mass now. Participation has been stripped down to rote recitation. What of the internal, spiritual engagement of the parish engulfed in something ineffable and mysterious? Would this mean that I would be completely screwed if I went to a vernacular Mass in a non-English speaking country? Whither Veterum Sapientia and the wishes of Blessed John XXIII?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I saw the new Hulk movie.

It was a remarkable act of reparation for the prior abomination from Ang Lee. The previous effort spent what seemed to be about 5 hours on a mixed variety of origin stories, none of which were ever touted as the real reason Banner was all of a sudden changing into a monster. That left about 10 minutes for an actual discussion of what it meant for Banner to undergo this ordeal. Oh, but that was only after 2 hours of Nick Nolte playing a crazy, homeless version of Absorbing Man.

This new effort basically dealt with all the origin issues in the opening credits. Thumbs up already. It then proceeded on the wonderful course of the nature of Bruce's struggles and how they effect those around him. It is this element that provides a marvelous Catholic allegory on the monastic life. I'm sure I'll get some criticism for allegedly seeing Catholicism where it isn't (such as my view of Iron Man as a story about semi-pelagianism), but just hear me out.

Consider the dilemma faced by Bruce Banner. He must withdraw from essentially everything that feeds his passions. This was portrayed well in the TV version by the weekly closing with Bill Bixby back to hitch-hiking and the haunting piano music. If Banner declined to do this, he would condemn both himself, as well as those he loves and numerous unnamed innocents, to a path of destruction. Suppressing his passions is necessary for his survival. I must mention here that there is even a scene in the movie showing Banner as a celibate. Well done stuff, I thought.

The monastic withdraws into solitude for the exact same reasons. The temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil feed the passions of the soul, leading into sin, which is synonymous with destruction. The Church has always been emphatic about the nature of sin as a communal offense rather than merely an individual transgression, so the monastic finds himself in an analogous situation to Bruce, who disrupts everything around him when he succumbs to the rage of the Hulk.

However, this is not to say that the passions are evil in themselves. It is clearly the disordered passions which lead to sin and death. There is a line in the new movie in which Banner says that he does not feel he can control the Hulk but that he does think he can "aim it." Such is the case with our passions. The unchecked passions will ultimately lead us into sin. Having a fallen nature sucks. However, we can direct those passions and consequently overcome them by focusing them toward a virtuous end.

These scenarios lead to the same conflicts. Bruce is pursued by those he flees, whether it's Ross, or Betty or The Leader or whoever. He wants the solace of isolation, but he can never find it. Each moment is a struggle to contain the monstrous force within him, and nobody is really doing him any favors along the way. The monastic may somehow divest himself of elements of the world, but the flesh and the Devil will not let him go. Even the world will come searching, as evidenced by the multitudes who sought the wisdom of the Desert Fathers.

On a different note, both Banner and the monastic are faced with a singular problem. Their battles are utterly beyond their abilities to win alone. The movie might (I really don't know if it does) slide away from this a bit at the end, but the basic story is that Banner is impotent when he tries to take on the Hulk by himself. The monastic is painfully aware of his reliance on the grace of God to keep the angry seeds of temptation at bay. This is true by the simple fact that Satan will be doubly resolved to break him.

The picture above is of the Temptations of St. Antony. Replace the images with Banner surrounded by his enemies, and you have a good idea of where I'm going with this whole shpiel. Anyways, the bottom line is that the Hulk is a story about struggle with self and the lengths one must go if one is to truly conquer self for the sake of salvation (not just for the individual, but the world as well). This new movie effort tells this story extraordinarily well.

Go see the movie. Then read The Life of St. Antony by St. Athanasius.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Archbishop Nienstedt exerts his authority.

The parish he's cracking down on is St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis. For those who might not remember, this is the parish from the second Unholy Crap post I did here. Anyways, the article at the link is about his prohibition against a gay pride prayer service. Because, you know, we should all take pride in our offenses against God.

I present this article as Exhibit A against Archbishop Chaput's point below. You can't honestly say these people don't know or understand the Church's teaching against homosexuality. They just don't care.

The Most Common Religion: Indifferentism

Basically, it's a new report on how lots of folks are convinced that there are bunches and bunches of ways to heaven, not just their religion of choice. A couple of noteworthy paragraphs courtesy of FoxNews:

By many measures, Americans are strongly religious: 92 percent believe in God, 74 percent believe in life after death and 63 percent say their respective scriptures are the word of God.

So lots of folks believe in God, so we got that going for us. However:

Nearly across the board, the majority of religious Americans believe many religions can lead to eternal life: mainline Protestants (83 percent), members of historic black Protestant churches (59 percent), Roman Catholics (79 percent), Jews (82 percent) and Muslims (56 percent).
By similar margins, people in those faith groups believe in multiple interpretations of their own traditions' teachings. Yet 44 percent of the religiously affiliated also said their religion should preserve its traditional beliefs and practices.

In other words, what we believe about God is fairly inconsequential. This is a shame.

So why are folks in the religions that they are in if it ultimately doesn't really count for much. Parents? Maybe. I'm more willing to bet that it's because the religion that they are in makes them feel really good, and they enjoy these subjective warm-and-fuzzies. It's a short step from such psychic narcotics to the idea that their salvation is assured by where they because where they are reinforces their own ideas.

In conclusion, as if nobody knew this was coming:

More than most groups, Catholics break with their church, and not just on issues like abortion and homosexuality. Only six in 10 Catholics described God as "a person with whom people can have a relationship" — which the church teaches — while three in 10 described God as an "impersonal force."

"The statistics show, more than anything else, that many who describe themselves as Catholics do not know or understand the teachings of their church," said Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput. "Being Catholic means believing what the Catholic church teaches. It is a communion of faith, not simply of ancestry and family tradition. It also means that the church ought to work harder at evangelizing its own members."

I'm going to have to part ways with Archbishop Chaput here. Most of these people know exactly what the Church teaches and why. They just don't give a crap because, again, they feel their eternal destiny is secured.

Let's ask Pope Gregory XVI what he thought about these ideas. Pope Gregory, the floor is yours.

Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that "there is one God, one faith, one baptism" may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever.

Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos

Paul VI's anniversary was this weekend.

It was June 23, 1963 when Giovanni Montini ascended the Throne of St. Peter as Pope Paul VI. I came to the conclusion a while back that this man might have been the most hated guy of the entire decade of the 60s. On the one hand, you had the Catholics who were outraged by his laxity in dealing with the post-Conciliar madness that gripped the Church. On the other hand, you had heretics who despised him for his interventions during Vatican II which thwarted some of the more extreme measures sponsored by the progressives. Not to mention that little ditty known as Humanae Vitae.

Personally, I feel a great deal of pity for him. His time as pope was mostly a disaster. If you read some of the books that discuss him, he just seems to be a guy in waaaay over his head. The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber actually describes him as breaking down and weeping openly upon discovering the deceits being practiced by the progressives at Vatican II. We should be praying for him.

I'm already into the shpiel he gave on the promulgation of the Pauline Mass. I'll be doing some further digging into what we saw from Paul VI over his 15 year pontificate with a big blowout on the anniversary of Humanae Vitae in July. Stay tuned.

Fair and Balanced Coverage of the TLM Comeback

Maybe we can get Al-Jazeera to do a piece on the glories of Judaism. Or Howard Dean to provide a retrospective about the triumph and virtue of Ronald Reagan.

Sheesh. You'd think the journalist here would have at least tried to seem objective. Did I miss the quote from parishioners who actually attend the Traditional Mass? We have half a dozen remarks from people who have either never attended one or don't attend one now. Yet the only pro-TLM comment is from the priest offering such Masses. How strange. Was there even an effort to contact these parishioners?

Here's the best part:

"I think it's boring," said 82-year-old Mary Douglas of Tempe, a longtime member of St. Mary's parish in Chandler, saying the church should be more concerned with retaining young Catholics. "What can we do to make people to stop leaving the church?"

Many Catholics cannot even understand the Mass in English, "much less in Latin," said Douglas, who, for many years, has attended St. Mary's Christmas Eve Latin Mass, which she termed a "rewarding experience," nonetheless.

"The big picture is what counts," she stressed. "Why are people leaving? Why do they not attend Mass? Why is Mass boring?"

So the TLM is boring. But the Pauline Mass in the vernacular is boring too. You can't understand the TLM. But you can't understand the Pauline Mass either. Basically, I guess Mass just sucks, then. It is a marvel how anyone can be present for something like what's shown above and be bored.

On a side note, the whole thing about why are young people leaving is hilarious by itself. I have never attended a TLM at which the majority of the congregation were over the age of 30. It's the youth who are pushing this. All those who want disco balls during the consecration and "Awesome God" awfulness during the procession should take careful note of this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Seduction of Extremism

A scary article from the Telegraph:

The report, which is being distributed among senior officers, Whitehall officials and ministers, finds that:
• Anger and disaffection are "widespread in sections of Muslim youth".
• There is tacit support for extremist violence within sections of the Muslim community.
• Police need to do more to win the trust of Muslim communities if they are to tackle radicalisation.
• Many Muslims distrust police and are reluctant to inform on extremists, preferring to deal with problems inside their communities.

The battle for hearts and minds has never been more important. This is why Pope Benedict's choice to confront Islam rather than engage in warm and fuzzy parlays is so significant. The West is losing the sort of will that it takes to defeat an enemy that is heavy on passion and zeal. The only thing that will turn the tide against such an enemy is a recovery of conviction in our own beliefs. The alternative is dhimmitude.

From the Dept. of Obvious

From CWN:

The article by Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, originally printed in L'Osservatore Romano, examines the historical record of Catholic practice, concluding that the early Church quickly developed the practice in which lay people Communion on the tongue while kneeling. Only ordained ministers were allowed to touch the consecrated Host with their hands.

By the 6th century, Bishop Schneider writes, the Church had formed a consensus that Communion should be received on the tongue, of reverence for the Eucharistic Lord. Pope Gregory the Great chastised priests who resisted that consensus, and it was become an "almost universal practice" in the early Church, the author says.

This is all very germane in the Church today. In my own parish, I can say that there has been a huge drop in reverence for the Holy Eucharist when folks started buying into the whole hand movement.

For context as to this practice these days, let’s look at the last pope who talked about it. From this, it’s seems that, even though he allowed it, he didn’t think it was a good thing.

To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained, one which indicates an active participation in the ministry of the Eucharist. It is obvious that the Church can grant this faculty to those who are neither priests nor deacons, as is the case with acolytes in the exercise of their ministry, especially if they are destined for future ordination, or with other lay people who are chosen for this to meet a just need, but always after an adequate preparation.

Dominicae Cenae, Pope John Paul II

Unity is in the Air; Everywhere I Look Around

Rorate Caeli reports some movement on the SSPX front.

Two questions:

Will they take this offer?

If Fellay goes for this deal, how many SSPX supporters will go for full-bore schism rather than follow him into regularization?

Look, I’m sympathetic to what a lot of these people have had to go through. Many of them were basically cast out of their old parishes by heretics who had no tolerance for folks who tried to stick up for the Faith. As I said in response to a comment a while back, though, you can’t clean the stables from the outside. If the SSPX wants to make a real difference, they are going to have to do it without taking a stance that will automatically discredit or marginalize them to those Average Joe Catholics who they are trying to reach.

Steps toward East/West unity?

What are they talking about here, I wonder. Hopefully not the sort of sham unity that seems to be contemplated by Husar and Patriarch Bartholomew. Any unity that decides to ignore Lyons II, Florence, and Vatican I is no unity at all.

We define that the Holy and Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff holds the primacy of the Church throughout the whole world: and that the same Roman Pontiff is the successor of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, and the true Vicar of Christ, the head of the whole Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him, in blessed Peter, by Our Lord Jesus Christ to feed, to rule, and to govern the universal Church, as is also contained in the acts of oecumencial councils and in the sacred canons.

The Decree for the Greeks from the Council of Florence

Friday, June 20, 2008

Speaking of true unity . . .

Has Cardinal Husar lost his mind? One more from CWN:

The Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople has responded favorably to a suggestion by the head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church for a system of "dual unity" in which Byzantine Catholic churches would be in full communion with both Constantinople and Rome.

Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople welcomed the proposal in an interview with the magazine Cyril and Methodius, the RISU news service reports. The acknowledged leader of the Orthodox world suggested that the "dual unity" approach would produce something akin to the situation of the Christian world in the 1st millennium, before the split between Rome and Constantinople.

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev, the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church-- the largest of the Eastern Catholic churches-- had offered the possibility that Byzantine Catholics might seek communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, without giving up their communion with the Holy See. Patriarch Bartholomew expressed distinct interest in the idea, saying that "the mother Church in Constantinople holds the doors open for the return of all her former sons and daughters."

Let me say up-front that I have always supported the idea of the Ukrainian Church getting its own Patriarch. All this talk about it not being a "historical patriarchal see" is lame. Where are Moscow's "historical" roots? There's a really good argument that Constantinople's claims to St. Andrew are fabrications. And, in all charity, the Russians aren't worried about giving offense to others. These are the same guys who took the opportunity of JPII's death to let us Catholics know about how wrong we are. Real class by Lex II & Co. Not giving these Catholics in the Ukraine a bigger stake is to give strength to the Church's enemies.

As to this business of "dual unity," just what the hell does that mean anyway? The very concept is nonsensical. Something about what concord does Christ have with Belial comes to mind. The Fathers would have been horrified at any sort of communion with schismatics. And let's be honest with each other. One of us is in schism, so neither of us should be keen on this deal.

If anyone doubts on what terms Patriarch Bartholomew thinks such "unity" should occur, note that in his quote above he speaks of a "return" by "former sons and daughters."

Translation: We're ready for you papist schismatics to get your minds right.

Speaking of schismatics . . .

The Russians are throwing their weight around again. Also from CWN:

The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow has escalated a dispute with the Patriarchate of Constantinople over the recognition of an independent Estonian Orthodox Church.
A Russian delegation has walked out of a meeting of Orthodox prelates, convened by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. The top Russian delegate, Archbishop Nikolai Balashov, said that the Moscow patriarchate could not accept the seating of a delegation from the Estonian Orthodox Church.

Folks, this is why the Orthodox arguments about primacy don't fly. By their own actions, they admit to no primacy whatsoever. Every time Patriarch Bartholomew tries to abide by the alleged "first among equals" job description, he gets blasted by one or more of his "brethren."

Of course, all this indicates is that the rest of the East are apparently content to keep their blinders on while Russia continues down the path that it always takes, namely, conquest. The Russians have already been making claims as the "Third Rome" and as the new leader for the Easterners, despite the fact that there is no basis for such ridiculous claims. They have a patriarch who was a KGB collaborator and has been cozying up to Vlad Putin lately. That sure makes me feel better.

I've got a bad feeling that the other schismatics across the Bosporus are going to wake up one day and find the Russians at the gate, ready to devour them all. Let us all pray that this does not come to pass and that true unity will be established before such a catastrophe.

The Anglicans Have Reached Critical Mass

Per Catholic World News

Conservative Anglican prelates, meeting in Israel next week in an alternative to the Lambeth Conference, will announce that they can no longer remain in communion with the Church of England, the London Daily Telegraph reports.

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), convened by African Anglican bishops, will essentially announce a schism in the Anglican communion, according to the Telegraph story. The conservative bishops will say that there is no realistic prospect for retaining unity among the world's Anglican leaders because of grave disagreements on doctrine and practice.

The GAFCON meeting was called by Anglican prelates who are at odds with their liberal colleagues over the ordination of an openly homosexual American bishop, Gene Robinson. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has struggled to maintain unity despite these severe disagreements. But Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, the most prominent leader of the conservative wing, sees that struggle as doomed. In a statement prepared for the GAFCON meeting, the African prelate says flatly: "There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified communion."

May God have mercy on the faithful caught up in all this. Bad enough to be in a heretical/schismatic sect. Worse to have it descend into even more doctrinal madness. The Vatican should be all over this and making arrangements for educating their clergy and laity in the event they want to make a profession of faith.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Martyr for Life

Agata Mroz, the Polish volleyball star, died so that her unborn child could live.

Striken with cancer, she was given a chance at survival via bone marrow transplant. She refused the treatment because of her pregnancy. After her daughter was born, she went ahead with the procedure, but contracted a fatal infection and passed away on Tuesday.

What a beautiful soul:

Agata told the Polish daily Dziennik that she never regretted her pregnancy. “The news I was going to be a mother made me feel fortunate. I was so happy because I would know what it was like to be a mother and I would give my husband something good from myself,” she said.

Dante's record to be expunged.

Per the Telegraph, the city council of Florence has voted to clear Dante Alighieri's record and revoke the death sentence that awaited him if he ever went back there.

Whew. Thank good ness we got this cleared up. It's only been about 700 years now, so knowing that we can finally put this whole nasty business behind us is quite comforting. I'm sure Dante gives a crap.

If you want to see some good stuff about Dante, check Pope Benedict XV's encyclical In Praeclara Summorum.

What We have said above suffices to show how opportune it is that on the occasion of this world centenary each should intensify his zeal for the preservation of that Faith shown by Dante pre-eminently as support of learning and the arts. For We admire in him not only supreme height of genius but also the immensity of the subject which holy religion put to his hand. If his genius was refined by meditation and long study of the great classics it was tempered even more gloriously, as We have said, by the writings of the Doctors and the Fathers which gave him the wings on which to rise to a higher atmosphere than that of restricted nature. And thus it comes that, though he is separated from us by centuries, he has still the freshness of a poet of our times: certainly more modern than some of those of recent days who have exhumed the Paganism banished forever by Christ's triumph on the Cross. There breathes in Alighieri the piety that we too feel; the Faith has the same meaning for us; it is covered with the same veil, "the truth given to us from on high, by which we are lifted so high." That is his great glory, to be the Christian poet, to have sung with Divine accents those Christian ideals which he so passionately loved in all the splendour of their beauty, feeling them intimately and making them his life. Such as dare to deny to Dante this award and reduce all the religious content of the Divina Commedia to a vague ideology without basis of truth fail to see the real characteristic of the poet, the foundation of all his other merits.

Now go better yourself and read The Divine Comedy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Elijah was taken up into heaven.

No real reason for posting this. Just that it was the first reading today and is one of the most awesome visuals in the whole Bible.

More from Paul VI on the New Mass

We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect.

Novelty again. It is good that Pope Paul notes that the pious will be the most disturbed. This is interesting considering that it was these who were noted as being non-participatory in the Mass by virtue of their person devotion.

So what is to be done on this special and historical occasion? First of all, we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms. As intelligent persons and conscientious faithful we should find out as much as we can about this innovation. It will not be hard to do so, because of the many fine efforts being made by the Church and by publishers. As We said on another occasion, we shall do well to take into account the motives for this grave change. The first is obedience to the Council. That obedience now implies obedience to the Bishops, who interpret the Council's prescription and put them into practice.

Novelty again. Innovation too. Obedience to the Council. This last is especially interesting as I challenge anyone to read Sacrosanctum Conciliam and explain how the Pauline Mass fits with what was described at Vatican II. I'm not real sure what he means with the statement about "exterior forms."

This first reason is not simply canonical—relating to an external precept. It is connected with the charism of the liturgical act. In other words, it is linked with the power and efficacy of the Church's prayer, the most authoritative utterance of which comes from the Bishop. This is also true of priests, who help the Bishop in his ministry, and like him act in persona Christi (cf. St. Ign., ad Eph. I, V). It is Christ's will, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit which calls the Church to make this change. A prophetic moment is occurring in the mystical body of Christ, which is the Church. This moment is shaking the Church, arousing it, obliging it to renew the mysterious art of its prayer.

These are very good sentiments. However, I think it is a bit hyperbolic to describe the Pauline Mass in terms that make it sound like Divine Revelation and/or direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The other reason for the reform is this renewal of prayer. It is aimed at associating the assembly of the faithful more closely and more effectively with the official rite, that of the Word and that of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, that constitutes the Mass. For the faithful are also invested with the "royal priesthood"; that is, they are qualified to have supernatural conversation with God.

Another good sentiment, possible confusion with the ordained priesthood aside. Further example, I think that Pope Paul had good intentions but was being influenced by folks he probably shouldn't have been listening to.

Venerable Matt Talbot and Today's Readings

Most folks probably have no idea who Matt Talbot is. If you have any struggles with alcohol or know someone who has, he is a good friend to have.

He was an Irishman who started working in booze outfits when he was twelve years old. As you can expect, this led him into alcoholism. After 16 years of suffering from this affliction, he managed to kick the habit and became something of an ascetic. He prayed and fasted fervently. He attended daily Mass. He became a Third Order Franciscan. He repaid his debts and gave much of his meager wages to the Church.
He did all this without anyone really knowing. Nobody would have thought anything more of Matt Talbot until his death. Once he passed away, his body was found wrapped in chains and cords under his clothes. He wore them as penance for his years of boozing. Of course, modernity would condemn an ascetic such as this as a lunatic (see any article that mentions Opus Dei as an example). The idea of such acts as signs of holiness is no longer an option.

Matt's manner of humility in his virtue echoes the Master's words in today's Gospel:
“Take care not to perform righteous deedsin order that people may see them;otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streetsto win the praise of others.Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.But when you give alms,do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,so that your almsgiving may be secret.And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."

So how far is Pfleger going to take this?

Per CWNews:

A controversial priest has resumed his pastoral duties in Chicago, vowing, "I'm not changing," after a 2-week leave imposed by Cardinal Francis George.

Looks like he's really learned his lesson there. The ball now reverts to the court of Cardinal George. Will he exhibit any sort of testicular fortitude at all?

And what of Fr. Pfleger if His Eminence does decide to take disciplinary actions? Will he go for full-blown schism? Are we looking at the next Milingo here? And how many of his flock will he decide to take down this road of sin simply to satisfy his own arrogance and pride?

It's weird. Think of what this guy would be getting fifty years ago. Censure at the very least. A hundred years ago, he would be exiled to some far off nowhere and never heard from again. Two hundred plus years ago, he'd be looking at life in a monastary with rigorous corporal penances. This is all if he escaped an outright excom.

These days, we are seriously left to wonder if anything will be done at all.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Dan Brown's filth now officially an offense against God.

The Vatican has banned the makers of a prequel to The Da Vinci Code from filming in its grounds or any church in Rome, describing the work as “an offence against God”.

Angels and Demons, the latest Dan Brown thriller to be turned into a film, includes key episodes that take place in the Vatican and Rome’s churches. Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, the head of the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs, said that Brown had “turned the gospels upside down to poison the faith”.

“It would be unacceptable to transform churches into film sets so that his blasphemous novels can be made into films in the name of business,” he said, adding that Brown’s work “wounds common religious feelings”.

This is my favorite part:

Father Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rome, said: “Normally we read the script but this time it was not necessary. The name Dan Brown was enough.”

The real question is how they got into a church for the scenes in the first movie. I wonder what Hanks's Eastern brethren think of his participation in promoting blasphemy.

This phenomenon reminds me of a story. Basically, St. Nicholas (yes, Santa Claus) was at the Council of Nicea when Arius stood up and began a shpiel about how Jesus was a created being and therefore not God. St. Nicholas responded by rising from his chair, walking across the room, and back-handing Arius to the floor. Not that I think Hanks & Co. should be back-handed (though CastAway, The Terminal, Philadelphia, and You've Got Mail are reasons enough for some sort of beating by themselves), but it shows you how seriously folks took blasphemy back then.

When we see secularists, Jehovah's Witnesses, or whoever making comments like this, we should at least be outraged and mad. Sad to say, I think the more typical reaction is apathy.

Anglican Meltdown

Between two gay priests apparently getting hitched and the re-opening of wounds over the ordination of women bishops, it looks like the schedule for the Anglican schism has been accelerated.

The Times is reporting massive upheaval over the former, and 500 clergy ready to quit over the latter. Not to mention Dr. Rowan's additional problems with Islam and a general negative perception overall.

We can only hope that this drives home to all those involved the need for union with the Vicar of Christ. The day may come when some seemingly normal Catholic bishop decides to "marry" some gay couple or "ordain" a woman priest, but we know what his fate will be. Hopefully, Cardinal Kaspar will stay out of the way on this one, and the Holy Father will urge not only this group, but all Anglicans, to return to the bosom of the Catholic Church.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Brits Rejoice!

At least, they should be. The Telegraph on the latest announcement from Cardinal de Hoyos:

The traditional Latin Mass – effectively banned by Rome for 40 years – is to be reintroduced into every Roman Catholic parish in England and Wales, the senior Vatican cardinal in charge of Latin liturgy said at a press conference in London today.

In addition, all seminaries will be required to teach trainee priests how to say the old Mass so that they can celebrate it in all parishes.

Catholic congregations throughout the world will receive special instruction on how to appreciate the old services, formerly known as the Tridentine Rite.

I wonder if/when the same announcement will come for the US. Granted, this will take a few years, as the article states, and great care will have to be taken to protect the process from getting the Veterum Sapientia treatment mentioned below, but it's a good sign regardless.

Friday, June 13, 2008

"The Papacy is a good thing as long as we abolish it."

This is the gist of what Canadian heretic Margaret O'Gara is saying in this article. It's fine to have a papacy. We just have to make it into something that is not the papacy first.

How terrifying that whackjobs like this are (a) considered Catholic, (b) associated with Catholic universities, (c) president of ostensibly Catholic theological organizations, and (d) allowed to speak in public.

It's amazing that she could say these things with a straight face. I'll do my best to translate:

O’Gara said she has been struck by the readiness of other Christian churches to embrace the papacy, citing a statement from the Anglican/Roman Catholic dialogue that the papacy is “part of God’s design for the church” and from the Lutheran/Catholic dialogue in the United States that the pope can function as a spokesperson for the gospel at the world level.

"It's great that so many people are ok with him talking and wearing that funny hat."

At the same time, she said, John Paul’s pontificate left behind “a mixed heritage” ecumenically.
O’Gara cited eight motives for that ambivalence:

1. The Synod of Bishops remained merely advisory to the pope;
2. The authority of episcopal conferences was restricted;
3. A Vatican document on “Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion” asserted that the Petrine ministry is “interior to every fully local church”;
4. The Vatican document Dominus Iesus said that some Protestant and Anglican bodies aren’t really “churches”;
5. Cardinals Joseph Ratzinger and Walter Kasper carried out a debate over whether the local or universal church has priority;
6. The term from Vatican II that the church “subsists” in Catholicism was understood to mean that it exists fully only in Catholicism;
7. The ban on women’s ordination was declared definitive;
8. The volume of papal teaching raised questions about its authority, and what role it would play in sister churches if present divisions could be overcome.

"Other religions have a problem with Catholics believing in Catholicism."

In light of all this, O’Gara argued, the papacy must be reformed “in a more pastoral way, in a less centralized way, in a way that defends the diversity of the local churches” before it can serve the cause of Christian unity.

"The pope should be Protestant."

Second, she proposed reconsidering what she called the “classicist” language used buy the First Vatican Council in the 19th century to formulate the dogma of infallibility. Rephrasing the teaching in a more historically-minded fashion, she said, could make it less threatening to other Christians.

"Watering down dogma is preferable to teaching Truth."

"Rather than appearing as an unchanging grasp of the truth, infallibility could be reinterpreted as the process through which, over time, the church discerns core teachings of the gospel for its age and culture,” she said.

"The pope should be a Modernist Protestant, so as to fully embrace the relativism and annihilation of Truth."

In the first category, O’Gara cited a number of areas where she said ecumenical dialogue over the last half-century has reached surprising breakthroughs: mutual recognition of baptism, the real and unique presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the church as communion, the need for a universal ministry by the pope, and acceptance of different forms of devotion to Mary.

"I'm going to spend the next few minutes on exaggerations and lies."

Under new business, O’Gara cited a number of areas where the various Christian denominations seem to be growing apart, including moral questions such as homosexuality and same-sex marriage, as well as doctrinal matters such as women’s ordination.

"Think of how great it would be to be wholly unified in our beliefs in nothing."

While acknowledging the importance of such questions, O’Gara warned against exaggerating their importance. She cited a tongue-in-cheek comment from the late German Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner about occasionally sensing a “neurotic fear that we may be in agreement.”

It's Rahner. Nobody knows what he meant.

O’Gara also described her experience more than 20 years ago with her first Protestant student from China. After carefully describing the differences between medieval Catholicism and Luther on the Eucharist, O’Gara said, this student replied: “But in our church in China we hold both of those positions.”

"Orwell called it 'doublethink.' We should look into getting us some of that."

Bishops to Faithful: You're too dumb to understand this.

For those who don't know, the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) are currently meeting in Orlando. John Allen is reporting that liturgical translations have been a hot topic.

Right now, it seems that the main complaint is that the laity are too stupid to understand the language.

Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, a longtime critic of the new translations, said the texts contain a number of “archaic and obscure” terms, pointing to words such as “wrought,” “ineffable,” and “gibbet.” He also said that the text’s preference for mimicking the sentence structure of Latin, featuring long sentences with a large number of dependent clauses, impedes understanding in English. Trautman cited one prayer in the new Proper of Seasons presented as a single 12-line sentence with three separate clauses.

“John and Mary Catholic have a right to have prayer texts that are clear and understandable,” Trautman said. “The document before us needs further work.”

I don't think there's any doubt that Catholic teaching has been dumbed down in the last several decades. This hasn't been helped by a lot of bishops who seem content in not instructing their flocks.

Really, though, the entire argument is asinine that the laity can't understand all this. This is the same sort of language used in the King James Bible. I personally know hundreds of Protestants without any sort of formal education beyond high school who do just fine with it. Why? Because it isn't rocket science, and I suspect that many in the hierarchy know that.

The Road to Dhimmitude, cont.

From the Telegraph:

The Church of England has been accused of censorship for shelving a controversial debate about Islam.

A meeting of the Church's "parliament" was due to discuss whether clergy should be doing more to convert British Muslims to Christianity.

The sensitive issue was highlighted last week by a senior bishop who accused Church leaders of failing to reach out to other faiths, and warned that radical Islam is filling a gap in society caused by the decline of traditional Christian values.

But now the Church has put off the debate on recruiting Muslims until next February at the earliest and will discuss the promotion of churches as tourist attractions instead.

Remarkable. The most remarkable part of the article being the implication that the belief that Christ wanted non-believers to be converted is somehow wacky or novel.

Have no fear, though. Rowan is on the job.

Yesterday the Archbishop announced he had held a meeting in London with representatives from 40 Christian groups from around the world to discuss how to strengthen ties with Muslims.
Dr Rowan Williams said: "It has, I think, renewed for us all the significance of the church's work in this area of cooperation with other faiths for the sake of peace in our common home."

Translation: We really don't want to rock the boat here (and possibly incur a fatwa), so we're going to keep our mouths shut rather than actually doing what Christ would want us to do.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pope Paul VI discusses the New Mass

Let's look at this address one bit at a time:

We ask you to turn your minds once more to the liturgical innovation of the new rite of the Mass. This new rite will be introduced into our celebration of the holy Sacrifice starting from Sunday next which is the first of Advent, November 30 [in Italy].

Right here from the get-go, we see why the New Mass was probably not going to be the great and marvelous thing everybody was clamoring for. That word "innovation." Generally speaking, innovation in the Church doesn't make for happy times.

A new rite of the Mass: a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead.

When you hear the words "change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries" with reference to the Church, what is your first reaction? This entire section is about how great the TLM is. Pretty high words of praise from the Holy Father here. If it was so great, why was it sent to the dustbin?

It is at such a moment as this that we get a better understanding of the value of historical tradition and the communion of the saints. This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed—perhaps so much accustomed that we no longer took any notice of them. This change also touches the faithful. It is intended to interest each one of those present, to draw them out of their customary personal devotions or their usual torpor.

The moment where we begin to appreciate what we had because it is now gone. As to the feeling of "annoyance," could there be a bigger understatement? I wonder what sorts of "annoyance" there might be if the current or some future pope attempted to suppress or derogate the Pauline Mass.

Finally, Pope Paul seems to have succumbed to the canard that the only way of participating in the Mass is by doing external and visible "stuff." You hear this a lot amongst those sipping the Haterade vs. the TLM. Those poor, ignorant shmoes attending the Mass prior to the Pauline Mass didn't have a clue what was going on. They just sat there like dumb animals. I don't think the modern folks who say this have any inkling of the hubris contained in this statement, as though the faith of older Catholics was somehow inferior because they happened to attend a Mass with Apostolic roots. It's just weird.

More on this later. In the interim, a word on liturgical innovation from Blessed Pius IX, warning the Ruthenian Catholics against such things:

Gregory XVI of blessed memory wrote about these to the Armenian Catholics, "your ancestors, either admired them because they seemed more fitting and beautiful or, introduced them at various periods as a distinctive mark separating themselves from heretics and schismatics." Therefore, as this same Supreme Pontiff declared, "that rule must be absolutely observed which states that, except for the most serious reasons and with the Apostolic See, no innovations are to be introduced into the holy rites of the liturgy, even under the pretext of restoring ceremonies which may seem to be more in conformity with liturgies approved by the same See.

Omnem Sollicitudinem

I firmly believe that Paul VI had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Until you've paid the last penny

Today's Gospel is one of my faves, Matthew 5:20-26. It wraps up with Jesus warning the disciples about the perils of anger because even being angry makes one liable for judgment. Anyways, Christ ends the discussion with the following:

Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,and the judge will hand you over to the guard,and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you,you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

When folks get quizzed about where Purgatory is in the Bible, they tend to ignore this verse, though it's meaning seems pretty clear. If we're talking about God's judgment and the afterlife, which it certainly seems that we are here, what is all this about paying and getting out? It surely isn't hell, as hell is eternal. I doubt anyone would claim that it's heaven. So what is it then? Of course, we also must ignore the fact that anyone who really has to look for Purgatory in Scripture is probably using a mutilated version which excludes 2 Maccabees.

Anyways, the best part of this analogy used by Christ is that once you come around to it being Purgatory, you begin to see the operation of the communion of saints. The image of the brother standing in to pay the last penny for you is a reassuring one. It's also kind of challenging when you consider all those folks currently suffering and in need of our assistance who go completely ignored by so many in the world today. Paying that last penny could take a loooooong time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Because I can't leave it alone

When I read Obama's comments about abortion, I can't help but think of this picture. He strongly supports the Freedom of Choice Act, which would basically dismantle state restrictions on abortion. Let ignore the Act's federalism problems. The attitude taken in this statement is creepy as hell.

"But we also know that Roe v. Wade is about more than a woman's right to choose; it's about equality. It's about whether our daughters are going to have the same opportunities as our sons."

Yes, Senator. Your course will allow both daughters and sons to be killed in the womb. Ah, equality. Are we not a wonderful society to promote such values?

Speaking of naive popes, let's move on to Paul VI

I was going to hold off on this as we are approaching the anniversary of Humanae Vitae, but Amy Welborn had this gem of a post that I just couldn't resist going ahead and putting it up.

It's Paul VI's audience right before the promulgation of the revised missal. Holy smokes. As one of the commenters notes, how many times does Pope Paul use words like "novelty" and "innovation"?

I'm going to read this a bit closer and post thoughts as I go.

Nobody's Perfect

I know some folks think that I am letting Blessed John XXIII slide on some things below. It wasn't my point to go into all sorts of details about the man. I was just aiming to show that he is usually held up as the patron saint of progressives when he publicly declared and authoritatively promulgated views that are diametrically opposed to what most people seem to think.

Discounting Christ and the Blessed Mother, history has taught us that nobody is perfect. Everybody has their warts and weaknesses. John XXIII was no different and folks on every side of the fences should acknowledge that. Sure, he was confirmed the decree of the Holy Office in 1959 to excom anyone who voted for a communist (which was actually more strict than Pius XII's position), but he then turned around and went in for the dealings at Metz (previously mentioned here) that withdrew any condemnations for communism at Vatican II. In fact, instead of condemning communism, he made occasional comments about attempts at "dialogue" with such philosophies, as though the Church has anything to learn from such delusions.

Sure, there was other stuff ("dialogue" with other errors, a seemingly soft position on religious liberty), but the issue remains that he is nothing like the caricature that is usually presented of him. I think he was a good and likable man, who liked the fact that he was liked and did things to cultivate that perception. It's why the Council was hijacked. He wanted for the bishops there to like him and so he let them get away with a lot of stuff right from the opening bell.

Nobody's perfect and hindsight is 20/20. Here ends our fair and balanced coverage of Blessed John XXIII.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Crappy Popes

Yes, we've had them. In spades. It's probably one of the most common refuges of the anti-Catholic apologist. Of course, nine times out of ten they have no clue who these crappy popes are or why they are allegedly so bad. Typically, the ones they'll rattle off are bad because they happen to be (gasp!) Catholic.

Still, it's good to admit that there are some lowlights and the backstory behind their shenanigans. I recommend The Bad Popes by ER Chamberlin. It's a very balanced work that takes the reader through a number of papal bottom-feeders with good documentation and a willingness to view all sides of the story.

For example, he debunks the popular story that Alexander VI was the nadir of Catholic history. In fact, by the time Chamberlin is done, you'll wish some of these other guys were half the pope Alexander was.

You get a good run through of the Pornocracy (it's a real word) with real pieces of work like John XII and Benedict IX. There's at least one pope who probably went insane (Urban VI) and whose acts would lead to the Great Western Schism. There were guys who were too busy getting fat to see the horrors of the Reformation springing up around them (Leo X). And still others who were just so inept and incompetent that you can't help but pity them (Clement VII).

There are probably half a dozen or so popes that Chamberlin doesn't name that could have gone on the list as well. For example, Honorius contributed to the spread of monothelitism and Stephen VI gave us the Cadaver Synod. Still, the book is as thorough as a single volume of this sort is going to be. Lots of folks might think that reading these types of things could disillusion a Catholic about the Faith. It's actually the opposite. To paraphrase Pius VI, seeing these idiots and jerks in charge of the Church and Her endurance through the ages is about the best proof of Her divinity that there is. After all, if She wasn't divine, these guys would have destroyed Her long ago.

The Harp of the Holy Spirit

Happy St. Ephrem the Syrian Day!

Most of the time, I'd say our mental image of folks who live in caves and preach a lot probably isn't all that great. Considering guys like Ephrem, we should probably give them the benefit of the doubt. He was a deacon who lived during the 4th century and is now heralded as a great saint, Church Father, and Doctor of the Church.

You can read Pope Benedict XVI's thoughts on him here. For Benedict XV's encyclical granting him the title of Doctor of the Church, go here.

To me, the big deal about Ephrem is his use of music and poetry to teach the Faith and annihilate heresy. Contrast this with the use of music in worship these days, which is basically to play on people's emotions and make them feel all warm and fuzzy. Not to mention giving the opportunity to sing banal, vacuous lyrics over, and over, and over, and over .. . .

Compare this:

On a certain day a pearl did I take up, my brethren;
I saw in it mysteries pertaining to the Kingdom;
Semblances and types of the Majesty;
It became a fountain, and I drank out of it mysteries of the Son.
I put it, my brethren, upon the palm of my hand,
That I might examine it:
I went to look at it on one side,
And it proved faces on all sides.
I found out that the Son was incomprehensible,
Since He is wholly Light.
In its brightness I beheld the Bright One Who cannot be clouded,
And in its pureness a great mystery,
Even the Body of Our Lord which is well-refined:
In its undivideness I saw the Truth
Which is undivided.
It was so that I saw there its pure conception,
The Church, and the Son within her.
The cloud was the likeness of her that bare Him,
And her type the heaven,
Since there shone forth from her His gracious Shining.
I saw therein his Trophies, and His victories, and His crowns.
I saw His helpful and overflowing graces,
And His hidden things with His revealed things.

To this:

Our God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With Wisdom, Power, and Love
Our God is an awesome God (repeat 300x)

Yeah. Doesn't really have quite the same effect.

St. Ephrem the Syrian, pray for us!

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Brief Segue Into Politics . . .

I'm sure that everyone has heard about Barack Obama abandoning his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. This move strikes me as somewhat gutless.

My logic here begins with a couple of premises. First, one's beliefs about God are more important than one's beliefs about anything else, as no other belief has the potential to inform and shape the entirety of one's life moreso than this one. Second, Obama was well aware of his pastor's views on race, America, etc. He attended services there for two decades. The reaction of the congregation to the now-famous clips shows no shock or incredulity on the part of the church-goers that their pastor could make such statements. To the contrary, they are in full-blown adoration. Ditto, by the way, for the reaction to Fr. Pfleger's recent embarassing display. Wright himself has said that Obama knew what his views were. All these things considered, I must think that Obama was well in this loop. He claims not to agree with these views, but that is irrelevant for my point here, as I can't fathom why anyone of faith would attend a single church for two decades without agreeing with the theological views of the pastor.

So we are left with Obama, who has apparently never taken issue with the political views expressed at his church in the past, abandoning the more important spiritual nourishment we can safely assume he felt he was getting there. Why so? Political expediency. Becoming president was more important than what he was getting spiritually, so the latte had to go.

Perhaps Sen. Obama should read some accounts of the ancient martyrs and the lengths that one should go to when the stakes pertain to one's natural vs. supernatural well-being. Again, if the politics hadn't bothered him before and he really was there to enhance his soul, then the detriment to his political ambitions for staying should be irrelevant.

Welcome to dhimmitude.

Basically, if you're a Christian and Britain, stay out of Muslim neighborhoods with all that Gospel what-not you're spouting. Not because you might get beheaded or anything, but because you might get harassed by the cops.

Christians bled for centuries trying to keep Europe safe from a Muslim takeover. Guys like Charles Martel, Don Juan of Austria, and King Jan Sobieski led whole armies to turn back the Mohammedan advance.

In contrast to these courageous men, Islam is set to extinguish Western Civilization in Europe thanks to continent-wide Christian apathy and cowardice. Not to mention contraception.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Litany of Heresies #7

Claiming that the Sacrament of Penance is a communal healing for the ease of the penitent’s conscience, rather than the restoration of sanctifying grace and communion with God.

The true notion of sin was ignored for the duration of the RCIA instruction. There was no mention of sanctifying grace or the necessity of confession and penance subsequent to First Communion. The sacrament was expressed in a variety of ways, usually revolving around the need for a healing between the penitent and the Church community, with the priest acting as its representative. Even now, approaching the Easter Vigil, there are members of the ___ catechumenate who feel that confession is unnecessary and that it is proper for them to continue confessing their sins “directly to God.” This is entirely contrary to the Catholic faith.

Considering that Christ instituted the Sacrament by bequeathing to His Apostles the authority to forgive and retain sin,[1] it is clear that confession has always been a requirement of Catholics since the founding of the Church.[2] The sacrament is required via dogmatic mandate from at least three ecumenical councils.

The Fourth Lateran Council states that:

All the faithful of both sexes shall after they have reached the age of discretion faithfully confess all their sins at least once a year to their own (parish) priest and perform to the best of their ability the penance imposed, receiving reverently at least at Easter the sacrament of the Eucharist, unless perchance at the advice of their own priest they may for a good reason abstain for a time from its reception; otherwise they shall be cut off from the Church (excommunicated) during life and deprived of Christian burial in death.[3]

This requirement was further clarified in the Fourteenth Session of the Council of Trent:

Penitence was in deed at all times neccessary, in order to attain to grace and justice, for all men who had defiled themselves by any mortal sin, even for those who begged to be washed by the sacrament of Baptism ; that so, their perverseness renounced and amended, they might, with a hatred of sin and a godly sorrow of mind, detest so great an offence of God. . .

By which action so signal, and words so clear, the consent of all the Fathers has ever understood, that the power of forgiving and retaining sins was communicated to the apostles and their lawful successors, for the reconciling of the faithful who have fallen after baptism. . .

From the institution of the sacrament of Penance as already explained, the universal Church has always understood, that the entire confession of sins was also instituted by the Lord, and is of divine right necessary for all who have fallen after baptism; because that our Lord Jesus Christ, when about to ascend from earth to heaven, left priests His own vicars, as presidents and judges, unto whom all the mortal crimes, into which the faithful of Christ may have fallen, should be carried, in order that, in accordance with the power of the keys, they may pronounce the sentence of forgiveness or retention of sins.

If any one denieth, that, for the entire and perfect remission of sins, there are required three acts in the penitent, which are as it were the matter of the sacrament of Penance, to wit, contrition, confession, and satisfaction, which are called the three parts of penance; or saith that there are two parts only of penance, to wit, the terrors with which the conscience is smitten upon being convinced of sin, and the faith, generated by the gospel, or by the absolution, whereby one believes that his sins are forgiven him through Christ; let him be anathema.

If any one saith, that, in the sacrament of Penance, it is not necessary, of divine right, for the remission of sins, to confess all and singular the mortal sins which after due and diligent previous meditation are remembered, even those (mortal sins) which are secret, and those which are opposed to the two last commandments of the Decalogue, as also the circumstances which change the species of a sin; but (saith) that such confession is only useful to instruct and console the penitent, and that it was of old only observed in order to impose a canonical satisfaction; or saith that they, who strive to confess all their sins, wish to leave nothing to the divine mercy to pardon ; or, finally, that it is not lawful to confess venial sins ; let him be anathema.

And also at the Council of Florence:

But if through sin we incur an illness of the soul, we are cured spiritually by penance.

The fourth sacrament is penance. Its matter is the acts of the penitent, which are threefold. The first is contrition of heart, which includes sorrow for sin committed, with the resolve not to sin again. The second is oral confession, which implies integral confession to the priest of all sins that are remembered. The third is satisfaction for sins in accordance with the judgment of the priest which is ordinarily done by prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Pope John Paul II noted the lack of clear teaching on the necessity of confession and was dismayed. From his very first encyclical[9] and throughout the entirety of his pontificate, His Holiness constantly preached the need for confession for the remission of sins.

Individual and integral confession and absolution are the sole ordinary means by which the faithful, conscious of grave sin, are reconciled with God and the Church; only physical or moral impossibility excuses from such confession, in which case reconciliation can be obtained in other ways.[10]

The individual and integral confession of sins with individual absolution constitutes the only ordinary way in which the faithful who are conscious of serious sin are reconciled with God and with the church. From this confirmation of the church's teaching it is clear that every serious sin must always be stated, with its determining circumstances, in an individual confession.

For the sacrament of confession is indeed being undermined, on the one hand by the obscuring of the mortal and religious conscience, the lessening of a sense of sin, the distortion of the concept of repentance and the lack of effort to live an authentically Christian life. And on the other hand, it is being undermined by the sometimes widespread idea that one can obtain forgiveness directly from God, even in a habitual way, without approaching the sacrament of reconciliation. A further negative influence is the routine of a sacramental practice sometimes lacking in fervor and real spontaneity, deriving perhaps from a mistaken and distorted idea of the effects of the sacrament.

The numerous statements made by instructors that sins may be confessed “directly to God” without the provision of sacramental absolution are therefore erroneous.

[1] John 20:23.
[2] The Didache 4:14; St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1:22; St. Ambrose, On Penance 1:1; Pope Leo I, Epistle 108; St. John Chrystostom, On the Priesthood 3:5
[3] Fourth Lateran Council, Canon XXI.
[4] Council of Trent, Session XIV, Chapter I, On the Necessity, and on the Institution of the Sacrament of Penance.
[5] Id., Chapter V, On Confession.
[6] Id. at Canon IV.
[7] Id. at Canon VII.
[8] Council of Florence, Session VIII, Bull of Union with the Armenians.
[9] Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis §20.
[10] Pope John Paul II, Motu Proprio Misericordia Dei.
[11] Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pope John Gave us the Blessed Gift of Vernacular

No, he didn’t. This one is my personal favorite. Of all the false progressive ideas attributed to John XXIII, this one is truly the most asinine and utterly refuted by the Pope’s own words.

The story goes that Pope John looked out upon the Church and heard the oppressed rabble crying out to be liberated from the fetters of the Latin language and the terrors of the Traditional Mass. Valiant Pope John then convened the company of heroes known as Vatican II with the express purpose of annihilating these horrific shackles and the archaic ideas that held them in place.

It makes for a good bedtime story for the progressives. Maybe it helps them sleep at night now that the Traditional Mass is making such a comeback. What they either don’t know or ignore, sucking their thumbs and clinging to their Hans Kung dolls, is that Pope John condemned this whole line of thinking. Allow me to introduce possibly the most ignored papal document of the last half-century (yes, even more ignored than Humanae Vitae). Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Veterum Sapientia, the whole of which is devoted to why Latin rules and the vernacular sucks. It's also an Apostolic Constitution, which means that it carries the highest level of papal authority (e.g. it's the same thing that Pius XII issued when defining the dogma of the Assumption). How many Pope John devotees would be caught dead saying things like:

For these reasons the Apostolic See has always been at pains to preserve Latin, deeming it worthy of being used in the exercise of her teaching authority "as the splendid vesture of her heavenly doctrine and sacred laws." She further requires her sacred ministers to use it, for by so doing they are the better able, wherever they may be, to acquaint themselves with the mind of the Holy See on any matter, and communicate the more easily with Rome and with one another.

Thus the "knowledge and use of this language," so intimately bound up with the Church's life, "is important not so much on cultural or literary grounds, as for religious reasons." These are the words of Our Predecessor Pius XI, who conducted a scientific inquiry into this whole subject, and indicated three qualities of the Latin language which harmonize to a remarkable degree with the Church's nature. "For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time ... of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular."

Since "every Church must assemble round the Roman Church," and since the Supreme Pontiffs have "true episcopal power, ordinary and immediate, over each and every Church and each and every Pastor, as well as over the faithful"of every rite and language, it seems particularly desirable that the instrument of mutual communication be uniform and universal, especially between the Apostolic See and the Churches which use the same Latin rite.

When, therefore, the Roman Pontiffs wish to instruct the Catholic world, or when the Congregations of the Roman Curia handle matters or draw up decrees which concern the whole body of the faithful, they invariably make use of Latin, for this is a maternal voice acceptable to countless nations.

Furthermore, the Church's language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. it has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use. Certain Latin words, it is true, acquired new meanings as Christian teaching developed and needed to be explained and defended, but these new meanings have long since become accepted and firmly established.

Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.

In addition, the Latin language "can be called truly catholic." It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic See, the mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed "a treasure ... of incomparable worth." It is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity and the documents of the Church's teaching.It is also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful continuity.

Bishops and superiors-general of religious orders shall take pains to ensure that in their seminaries and in their schools where adolescents are trained for the priesthood, all shall studiously observe the Apostolic See's decision in this matter and obey these Our prescriptions most carefully.

In the exercise of their paternal care they shall be on their guard lest anyone under their jurisdiction, eager for revolutionary changes, writes against the use of Latin in the teaching of the higher sacred studies or in the Liturgy, or through prejudice makes light of the Holy See's will in this regard or interprets it falsely.

Folks who espouse ideas like this in our day are considered lunatics or extremists. This was another example of Pope John’s “reactionism” for Blanshard. The best part is when you run into progressives who actually do know about this document. They start making all kinds of excuses, usually that Il Papa Buono was “strong-armed into writing it” by the Curia. So he was gutless, then? If the Curia really had that kind of stroke, then VII would never have gone down the way it did because Pope John would never have scrapped the original prep work.

Or was it that “he didn’t really mean it”? Yeah, because popes are always devoting entire encyclicals to things they don’t really mean. Or maybe he changed his mind. Really? Is that why VII says that Latin is to be preserved as the language of the liturgy?

Or maybe it’s that people who buy into this legend are full of crap and should accept the fact that they hate a lot of what Blessed John really stood for.