Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Highlights From The SSPX Discussions

Thanks to the New Liturgical Movement:

1) The outcome of the first meeting has been good.

2) Primarily the agenda and the method of discussion were established.

3) The issues to be discussed are of a doctrinal nature to the express exclusion of any canonical question regarding the situation of the SSPX.

4) The common doctrinal reference point will be the Magisterium prior to the Council.

5) The talks follow a rigorous method: an issue is raised, and the party raising it sends a paper substantiating its doubts. The Holy See responds in writing, after prior email exchanges among the technical advisers. At the meeting, the issue is discussed.

6) All meetings are taped by both parties and filmed.

7) The conclusions of each topic will be submitted to the Holy Father and the Superior General of the SSPX.

8) The timing of these meetings depends on whether the topic is new or is already being discussed. In the first case, it will be approximately every three months. In the second, every two. The next meeting is planned for mid January.

10) The theological representatives of the Holy See "are people you can talk with", they speak "the same (theological) language as we". (meaning presumably they are Thomists).

11) Some of the topics mentioned by the bishop in his homily, not exhaustively, are:

a) The Magisterium of the Council and after the Council.

b) The conciliar liturgical reform.

c) Ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.

e) Papal authority and collegiality.

f) Freedom of conscience, religious freedom, secularism and the social reign of Jesus Christ.

g) Human rights and human dignity according to the Council's teaching.

The Bishop repeated that the results of the first session are good, compared to the previous situation. The parties talked entirely freely and only about doctrinal issues in a Thomist theological framework.

No one can foresee what will happen in the future. One will move forward day by day, as prudence and evangelical spirit direct.

From my own dense perspective, the only real sticky items that I see would be (c) and (f). I could be wrong, but the others seem very slam-dunk (human rights/dignity) or are the result of a complete ignoring of the conciliar texts (collegiality) or both (the liturgical reform).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Today Is The Feast Of The Holy Innocents

Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry: and sending killed all the menchildren that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Matthew 2:16-18

Holy Innocents, pray for us and for all the unborn.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Would Cause The Biggest Poopstorm?

Consider the following items, all of which are rather minor on the liturgical reform scale (I think).

1. Priest facing God
2. Absolute prohibition on altar girls
3. Complete suppression for communion in the hand
4. Going back to communion under one species
5. Barring all non-chant music from Mass
6. Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer #1) only
7. A complete re-translation of the Missal, with a focus on reflecting the Latin terms as closely as possible (ie- saying stuff like "consubstantial")

As an experiment, rank these items from least to greatest in terms of how big of a blow-up there would be if the Holy Father implemented such measures.

Would any of these be enough to create a schism such as what Fr. Ryan was hinting at in our previous article?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Christmas Story

My wife's aunt got the kids a gift card for Cinemark. Sons aged 12 and 6 were quite happy with this.

Son aged 2 examined the card, handed it to my wife, and said:

"I want cash."

Ah yes. It seems that materialism encroaches upon the spirit at increasingly earlier ages.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Isn't There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas Is All About?

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life. For the Son of God in the fullness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that (nature) which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the lists with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all sin.

Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon 21 for the Feast of the Nativity

Merry Christmas, friends.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fr. Ed Schillebeeckx Has Died.

I got an email linking to Fr. Z on this.

We've mentioned before how Fr. Schillebeeckx was one of the chief architects of the confusion during and after Vatican II. I wonder how big of a reaction there will be to his passing.

May God have mercy on his soul.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Suggestion For A Christmas Project

Read the Protovangelium of James. I'm not saying it's inspired, but it's very ancient and gives a very good insight to the early life of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph.

Then read the accounts from Matthew and Luke.

Monday, December 21, 2009


What the heck happened to the formatting on the last post?

Time to call the Blogger Support Squad.

Free Market vs. Pope Benedict(?)

I got this a while back from Haskovec. Because I suck, though, I'm just now getting around to commenting on it. This article is from the web site for the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Let me say now that I was an economics major, and I typically lean to the ideas that guys like Mises and Hayek espoused. And yes, I know that Mises wasn't really a huge fan of Christianity.

Anyways, the article is a review of sorts for Caritas in Veritate, which we went over here in some detail. The guys with the Institute are not all that thrilled with a lot of what the Holy Father had to say. After giving a bit of an intro, they remark:

From a classical-liberal, Austrian, and free-market perspective, many will agree with the general framework that the Pope has outlined above, particularly those who accept an Aristotelian, Thomistic, and Rothbardian approach to the ethical foundations of voluntary exchange. However, when Benedict transitions from a philosophical framework to specific economic analysis and policy recommendations, particularly as he tries to carefully maintain a "middle of the road" approach to the logic of the market and economic crises, many will take exception.

Can you guess what Complaint #1 is?

Perhaps one policy recommendation encapsulates the problem: Benedict calls for
a reform of the United Nations so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.… To arrive at a political, juridical, and economic order which can increase and give direction to international cooperation for the development of all peoples in solidarity. To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result … for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority. (#67)
Yep, it's the infamous Section 67. I'm not going to try and duck the fact that this is controversial stuff. I will maintain that Hayek mentioned exactly this sort of entity in his own work. Let's let them give an explanation for their views, though.

Benedict's logical support for this policy stems from the following faulty arguments:
1. The market is the institution that permits the exchange of goods of equivalent value between two individuals in order to satisfy their needs (commutative justice) (#35).
2. Since the market cannot solve all social problems, since it creates problems of its own, and since economic action is merely an engine of wealth creation, it must be complemented by the political action of the state to intervene for the purposes of redistribution of wealth (distributive justice) (#36).
3. Profit is a means for the allocation of scarce resources, but profit risks destroying wealth and creating poverty if it does not recognize the common good as its ultimate goal (#21).
4. The market cannot produce by itself the social cohesion that it requires to function well (#35).
5. In a world economy, redistribution of wealth and regulation of financial institutions cannot be carried out by the current territorial constraints of states; therefore, a world political authority is needed.
Ok, at this point, let me just say that I think the Institute is missing a lot of Pope Benedict's point. As I mentioned previously, what the Pope is looking for is a Catholic entity that will regulate these items in accordance with Catholic principles. This requires that economics (and everything else) be ordered towards the transcendent, rather than the merely temporal. Moving on:
But Benedict's definitions of the market and of commutative justice are mistaken. In a free market, individuals do not exchange goods of equivalent value. They exchange goods of unequal value. If the values were equivalent, market participants would be indifferent and there would be no reason to make the exchange. It is precisely because a buyer values an apple more than 25 cents and because a seller values 25 cents more than an apple, that the buy/sell transaction takes place. This error originated in Aristotle's treatment of exchange in his Nichomachean Ethics (Book V, p. 5), it was restated in Aquinas's treatment of commutative justice in his Summa Theologica (q. 61 a. 2) and is repeated by Pope Benedict.
Sort of. The values in question are subjective for the transacting parties. A person who really likes apples is going to pay more for one than someone who thinks they're disgusting and just happens to be a bit hungry. This is just a setup, though.
Since we cannot measure value, we cannot define the market as the place where actors establish equivalency of value between goods.
Now why is this such a critical insight? If central planners and their supporters believe they can objectively measure the value of goods, then they will believe that equivalence can be established. It follows that belief in redistribution of income and wealth — based on an arbitrary standard — can be justified. Once a policy of redistribution is pursued, it is a very small step for the state and its apologists to justify intervention in matters of commutative justice itself, such as wages, prices, costs, and interest rates. Examples of these errors in theory and practice abound, but the most notorious one is Marx's labor theory, which erroneously states that capitalists rob workers of the surplus value of their work and maintain them at subsistence income levels. According to the socialists who follow Marx, then, the state is justified not only in expropriating the means of production to correct this distributive injustice, but also in managing the factors of production and the economy as a whole by central planning, statistics, and other mathematical tools.
And here we see the beginning of the Institute's error. This encyclical wasn't just about economics. In fact, economics was just a sidebar, really.
Even if we were to accept Benedict's definition of commutative justice, it does not follow from the inner logic of his argument that he can justify state intervention in the regulation of wages, prices, and income, precisely because each of these is a commutation matter between individuals and not a distributive justice matter pertaining to common goods. And moreover, even if we were to accept the Pope's policy recommendation encouraging the political action of the state to intervene in commutative justice for the purposes of wealth redistribution, it does not logically follow that the redistribution itself should be aimed at achieving a certain desired level of equality between the haves and the have-nots. Indeed, Aquinas states very clearly that redistribution of common goods under distributive justice does not use the principle of equality but the principle of proportion between things and persons (Summa Theologica, q. 61 a. 2); therefore, in distributive justice, the more prominent a person's position in the community, the more of the common goods he should receive.
Did you catch it? Here's a hint: It's the same error that Obama and Pres. Jenkins of ND preach.
Benedict's call to temper the pursuit of profits with the pursuit of the common good misunderstands the function of the entrepreneur in creating wealth and ameliorating poverty.[2] It is impossible to conceive of the common good apart from its connection to entrepreneurial action. The French word 'entrepreneur' comes from the Latin "prehendo," to lay hold of, seize, grasp, catch, detain, or arrest.[3] It is an individual's entrepreneurial action in the pursuit of the goals he values most, using scarce factors of production, taking into consideration his costs, and guided by expected future prices in an unhampered market economy that creates wealth and diminishes poverty for society. Motivated by profit, the entrepreneur plans and then acts to satisfy the needs of other individuals. The common good is the unintended, but logically necessary byproduct of the entrepreneurial process. There exists no other rational mechanism to achieve the common good.
Ok, ok. I give up. These guys are so hung up on the temporal that they miss the whole point. The Pope's WHOLE SHPIEL in this encyclical is precisely that you can conceive of "common good apart from its connection to entrepreneurial action." Common good entails the spiritual good of the masses. In other words, fulfilling the role of the State in its duty to perfect the citizens in virtue and help get them to heaven. I honestly wonder if they read the whole document.
It is precisely distributive justice mechanisms controlled by the state which interfere with entrepreneurial activity, destroy wealth, and create poverty. The common good is the result of an integral dynamic process of human action in an environment of freedom.
Yeah, and it's the forces unleashed by unchecked capitalism that lead to materialism and uninhibited gratification of disordered appetites. This is stuff you don't really see addressed in economic discussions. I get that. It's also what makes these criticisms of what the Pope is saying unfair. They aren't even paying attention to the arguments he's making.
The social cohesion, solidarity, mutual trust, emancipation, friendship, reciprocity, and the pursuit of the common good of which Benedict speaks (#35 & #36) are the result of individual human actions. Society is the outcome of human action in an environment of the division of labor. Humans perceive that it is more efficient and effective to specialize in a particular function and then trade in the marketplace. It is because humans intuitively know this truth that friendship, belonging, solidarity, and even charity can and do arise in society; but the cause and effect relationship between human action and feelings of cohesion flow from the first to the second and not the other way around. Cohesion is the result of individual human action and not its precondition.
Right. God has nothing to do with any of this stuff.
Unhampered entrepreneurial action in free markets is not merely the most efficient and best way to achieve the common good, it is the only way. There is no "middle of the road." As Mises puts it, "The market economy … and the socialist economy preclude one another. There is no mixture of the two systems possible or thinkable. Production is either directed by the market or by the decrees of a production tsar."
What does "unhampered entrepreneurial action" do to save souls?
Contrary to Benedict's assertions that the market becomes a negative force if it is guided by selfish ends (#36), actors in a free market — and the entrepreneur in particular — do not have to be angels, saints, or unselfish to act to the benefit of the common good. Individuals simply need to employ means with the aim of attaining the goals they value and entrepreneurs simply need to comply with the wishes of the consumers who patronize them.
This pretty much sums it up. Who cares if all these folks go to hell as long as the market is left alone? The Pope cares. Everybody else should, too.
The rest of the article is basically this same straw man beat up over and over again, while decrying that the Pope didn't build on the "classical-liberal ideas" from Deus Caritas Est and Centesimus Annus. Maybe somebody should remind them that the Church's main interest isn't market-friendly economics. It's getting people to heaven.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christianity as the fulfilment of culture

It is somewhat painful to watch Christian leaders flail against the prevailing culture. It is painful because it is ineffectual. Catholic bishops point out that the health care bill is unacceptably supportive of abortion, and the powers that be ignore them. Contraception is occasionally denounced, and the world yawns, if it notices. The Church is called as a supporting witness if congenial to the spirit of the times, and is ignored when it isn't.

This is not to say that the Church shouldn't be making its voice heard in the public square, but that we are wrong to take the defensive posture. We argue from natural law to moral points, which I think is mistaken. We say, "See, our moral laws could be reached by secular reason! We aren't so bad! Treat us nicely, please?" But secular reason never reaches to the moral teaching of Christ. Secular reason is damaged, fallen, unable to be master of spirit and appetite. We need to take the offensive.

By the offensive, I mean to return to the practice of the early Church which confronted a similar culture. Late antiquity was finding its traditions crumbling, and its ancient religions unable to give reason to support imperial order. Christianity presented itself as the culmination and fulfillment of the traditions of the Classical world, and therefore their salvation. As Peter Brown writes:

"Origen and his successors taught the pagan that to become a Christian was to step, at last, from a confused and undeveloped stage of moral and intellectual growth into the heart of civilization. . . . They claimed that Christianity was the sole guarantee of that civilization -- that the best traditions of classical philosophy and the high standards of classical ethics could be steeled against barbarism only through being confirmed by the Christian revelation; and that the beleaguered Roman empire was saved from destruction only by the protection of the Christian God."

The modern world, with its admirable ideals of equal justice, religious freedom, respect for women, representative government, etc., can only be saved by Christianity, which through its doctrine of man as being from conception made in the image and likeness of God teaches that president and poor, woman and man, all and sundry are infinitely valuable.

We don't argue that the Church can fit into modern culture, but that modern culture can fit into the Church, and needs to, in order to be saved.


Make That "VENERABLE" Pius XII

The Holy Father signed a declaration today acknowledging what everyone who isn't stupid, ignorant, dishonest, or just a bigot already knew. Pope Pius XII has officially been declared as "venerable."

And John Paul II, too.

Pope Benedict XVI moved two of his predecessors closer to possible sainthood Saturday, signing decrees on the virtues of the beloved Pope John Paul II and controversial Pope Pius XII, who has been criticized for not doing enough to stop the Holocaust.The decrees mean that both men can be beatified once the Vatican certifies that a miracle attributed to their intercession has occurred. Beatification is the first major step before possible sainthood.
I'm sure Foxman, Wills, and Co. are already scheduling press conference to continue their slander against Pope Pius. Don't get me wrong, I'm not ignoring the JPII news. This other stuff is really just more important. Don't be surprised that folks are trying to turn this into a JPII vs. Pius XII conflict of "Pius XII is a murderer," which will then turn into a pre-VII vs. post-VII conflict about how the Church "doesn't teach ______ anymore."

The first part has already started:

"We are saddened and disappointed that the pontiff would feel compelled to fast-track Pope Pius at a point where the issue of the record — the history and the coming to a judgment — is still wide open," said Abraham Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and the Anti-Defamation League's national director.

Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, called the announcement "particularly disturbing and callous" because it was paired with that of John Paul, who endured the Nazi invasion of his native Poland.

Frankly, Abe, nobody should give a crap about what you think. Elan should go read what folks like Golda Meier and Albert Einstein said about Pius and then take some stock as to whether they would feel his objections are what is really "disturbing and callous."

For me, I'm just very proud of Pope Benedict for having the courage to do this. He's not stupid. He knows what people are going to say, and for a guy who has taken as much heat as he has over the last couple of years, he isn't backing down.

Pope Pius XII, pray for us!

And Viva il Papa!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christ Reigns

That's the translation of Christus Regnat. It's also a journal of Catholic heritage from Ireland, with a focus on traditional liturgy. Check them out and offer them your prayers. The Church in Ireland is having to resolve some major issues right now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 2

God who "wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4), "who in many and various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets" (Heb. 1:1), when the fullness of time had come sent His Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the the gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart [Cf. Is. 61:1; Luke 4:18], to be a "bodily and spiritual medicine" [St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 7, 2], the Mediator between God and man [Cf. 1 Tim. 2:5]. For His humanity, united with the person of the Word, was the instrument of our salvation. Therefore in Christ "the perfect achievement of our reconciliation came forth, and the fullness of divine worship was given to us" [Sacramentarium Veronese (ed. Mohlberg), n. 1265; cf. also n. 1241, 1248].

A couple of fun facts here. The Veronese Sacramentary is an old liturgical book that was compiled sometime between 558 and 600 AD. At least some of the prayers are attributed to Pope Leo the Great, so that's kind of neat.

The full passage from St. Ignatius, chapter 7, reads:

For some are in the habit of carrying about the name [of Jesus Christ] in wicked guile, while yet they practise things unworthy of God, whom you must flee as you would wild beasts. For they are ravening dogs, who bite secretly, against whom you must be on your guard, inasmuch as they are men who can scarcely be cured. There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first passible and then impassible— even Jesus Christ our Lord.

Maybe the conciliar citation is wrong because the reference to "medicine" is in Chapter 20:

Especially [will I do this ] if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ.

Continuing . . .

The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God. He achieved His task principally by the paschal mystery of His blessed passions resurrection from the dead, and the glorious ascension, whereby "dying, he destroyed our death and, rising, he restored our life" [Easter Preface of the Roman Missal]. For it was from the side of Christ as He slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth "the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church" [Prayer before the second lesson for Holy Saturday, as it was in the Roman Missal before the restoration of Holy Week].

This is significant, I think, in these times, but maybe for different reasons than what might come to mind for many. Every now and then, you see Catholics who have been caught up in some variety of Protestant rapturism. These folks look forward to the re-building of the Temple in Jerusalem so that Jewish people can start making sacrifices again. While the Council doesn't say that such a belief is blasphemous (nor was there any need to), it is clear that these OT sacrifices were just a set-up for the real deal, namely, Christ's Passion.

Just as Christ was sent by the Father, so also He sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This He did that, by preaching the gospel to every creature [Cf. Mark 16:15], they might proclaim that the Son of God, by His death and resurrection, had freed us from the power of Satan [Cf. Acts 26:18] and from death, and brought us into the kingdom of His Father. His purpose also was that they might accomplish the work of salvation which they had proclaimed, by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves.

Weird. No mention of committees here.

Thus by baptism men are plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ: they die with Him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him [Cf. Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1; 2 Tim. 2:11]; they receive the spirit of adoption as sons "in which we cry: Abba, Father" ( Rom. 8 :15), and thus become true adorers whom the Father seeks [Cf. John 4:23]. In like manner, as often as they eat the supper of the Lord they proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes [Cf. 1 Cor. 11:26]. For that reason, on the very day of Pentecost, when the Church appeared before the world, "those who received the word" of Peter "were baptized."

One thing that has always surprised me about the post-conciliar era is how baptism has become an after-thought. You have people who don't even baptize their kids anymore. VII stresses baptism all over the place, including here and other places that we'll look at in due time. This is all very good though for demonstrating the huge chasm of difference between the baptized and the unbaptized.

And "they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of bread and in prayers . . . praising God and being in favor with all the people" (Acts 2:41-47). From that time onwards the Church has never failed to come together to celebrate the paschal mystery: reading those things "which were in all the scriptures concerning him" (Luke 24:27), celebrating the eucharist in which "the victory and triumph of his death are again made present" [Council of Trent, Session XIII, Decree on the Holy Eucharist, c.5], and at the same time giving thanks "to God for his unspeakable gift" (2 Cor. 9:15) in Christ Jesus, "in praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:12), through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Here's the context of the statement from Trent:

The holy Synod declares, moreover, that very piously and religiously was this custom introduced into the Church, that this sublime and venerable sacrament be, with special veneration and solemnity, celebrated, every year, on a certain day, and that a festival; and that it be borne reverently and with honour in processions through the streets, and public places. For it is most just that there be certain appointed holy days, whereon all Christians may, with a special and unusual demonstration, testify that their minds are grateful and thankful to their common Lord and Redeemer for so ineffable and truly divine a benefit, whereby the victory and triumph of His death are represented. And so indeed did it behove victorious truth to celebrate a triumph over falsehood and heresy, that thus her adversaries, at the sight of so much splendour, and in the midst of so great joy of the universal Church, may either pine away weakened and broken; or, touched with shame and confounded, at length repent.

When was the last time you saw a Eucharistic procession?

To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross" [Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, c. 2], but especially under the Eucharistic species.

The whole Trent quote is:

And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propritiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. The fruits indeed of which oblation, of that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one; so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation). Wherefore, not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those who are departed in Christ, and who are not as yet fully purified, is it rightly offered, agreebly to a tradition of the apostles.

Show this to a too-large percentage of Catholics these days, and they'd probably wonder where you pulled such archaic, unenlightened language from. The Mass is a sacrifice. Not only is it a sacrifice, it is THE sacrifice. The only difference is the manner of the offering. And you can even have an offering for someone in purgatory.

By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes [Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 7]. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20) .

Augustine's full comment:

Before He came to the river, while many people were running together to John to be baptized, he says to them, I indeed baptize you with water; but He that comes after me is greater than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose; the same shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. Already he knew this also. What then did he learn from the dove, that he may not afterwards be found a liar (which God forbid we should think), if it be not this, that there was to be a certain peculiarity in Christ, such that, although many ministers, be they righteous or unrighteous, should baptize, the virtue of baptism would be attributed to Him alone on whom the dove descended, and of whom it was said, This is He that baptizes with the Holy Ghost? Peter may baptize, but this is He that baptizes; Paul may baptize, yet this is He that baptizes; Judas may baptize, still this is He that baptizes.

Valuable lessons for those who would let scandal bring them to doubt the sacraments.

Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father.

Who is the Bride? The Church. The logical consequence of this is that those who are not the Church are not the Bride. If the Bride offers worship to the Father through the Son, what other worship can be regarded as legitimate?

Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members.

Which reminds me of something that has always bothered me. I hear a lot about how the pre-conciliar era was one dominated by clericalism and how the liturgy wasn't how the people wanted it. Does it not seem commonplace, though, that now the liturgy is dominated by a committee of people who ostracize those who do not share the clique's views on what a Mass should look like? Yeah, it happens.

From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

Which brings us back to something that we have forgotten. Nothing you do will ever be more important than the sacraments. So, yes, you should try to show up for them. Even moreso, if you don't show up, they are still important. The Sacrifice does what God wants whether 5 people show up or 5000. The Mass is greater than receiving communion.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pope Earl Has Died

For those who don't know, Earl Lucian Pulvermacher had declared himself Pope Pius XIII. Weird guy. I hope that he was reconciled from his schism. May God have mercy on his soul.

By the way, thanks to the Minor Friar for breaking the news on this.

Friday, December 11, 2009

LA Episcopalians To Rowan: Converge This

Remember when Rowan bothered to throw some criticisms at the Church in his demands that women be allowed as make-believe priests?

It makes you wonder what his reaction will be to the Los Angeles diocese's decision to not only let a woman play at being priest, but bishop as well. Oh, did I mention she's a lesbian?

The worldwide Anglican Church has been plunged into a fresh crisis after a lesbian was chosen as its second gay bishop.

In a move that will dismay the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Canon Mary Glasspool was elected as an assistant bishop for the diocese of Los Angeles.

Canon Glasspool, 55, has openly stated that she has lived with her partner, Becki Sander, since 1988.

Dismay? You think? This was the same guy who was worried about "substantive theological convergence" with Catholicism while his own organization is completely collapsing.

The Rev Rod Thomas, the leader of the conservative evangelical group Reform and a member of the General Synod, said: ‘I feel deeply ashamed that this is happening in the Anglican Church. ‘I think a schism is absolutely inevitable.’

There's a news flash. Here's a riddle. If a schism happens in the Anglican Communion, how could you tell? I'm serious. What really makes the Anglicans a communion of any kind these days?

But St Paul’s Cathedral’s Canon Chancellor Giles Fraser, a leading liberal, said: ‘This is another nail in the coffin of Christian homophobia.’

Sorry, Giles. This is just another nail in the coffin of Anglicanism.

Rowan was available for comment.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, said Sunday that the choice raised 'very serious questions' for the divided church and urged restraint.

But he added Glasspool's election 'raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.'

We actually have a picture of Rowan's reaction to all this:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Immaculate Corruption

My brain has taken our prior post on the Immaculate Conception and homosexuality and forced it into an odd synthesis with the current stories regarding Tiger Woods's marital shenanigans, resulting in the above post caption.

Basically, us Catholic folk believe that people have something of an inclination to sin due to our weakened wills and darkened intellects. Our first parents messed things up, and their original sin leaves us with this inclination, also known as concupiscence. Of course, the Blessed Mother was conceived immaculate, so she doesn't have this problem. The rest of us struggle against this interior yearning for badness because to succumb means sin which means an offense against God.

Recent stories on Tiger Woods have posed the question of whether not he's a sex addict. This has occasionally been paired with the question of whether or not a person can be genetically predisposed to such an addiction or behavior.

Given the above-stated position of the Church, you could probably say that we're on-board with this, with the qualification that our problems go a little bit deeper than the genetic code.

However, modernity takes this idea of an in-born inclination to sin and perverts it. I am hearing more and more about how folks in Mr. Woods's situation really can't be blamed for their behavior due to this "hard-wired" desire for sin. Some comments have gone so far as to completely exonerate him and claim that his "condition" means he himself really didn't do anything wrong.

Translation: We have reached the point where our fallenness has apparently rendered us sinless. We are immaculate, even as we wallow in the filth of our sins.

Maranatha, Lord! Soon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 1

Kicking it off on the liturgy, we begin with the introduction. Please keep in mind that for some of this, I may not provide commentary. Even so, I think this is a worthwhile exercise in just presenting the material from Vatican II for people to read and digest in small bits. Also, please keep in mind that the point here is to show that the stuff in Vatican II is being manipulated by folks with agendas contrary to God's. Or, as Amerio quotes Fr. Schillebeeckx as saying:

We have used ambiguous terms during the Council, and we know how we shall interpret them afterwards.

And away we go.

This sacred Council has several aims in view:

Let's keep these in mind as we go through.

it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful

Nothing huge there.

to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change

And what are these elements? Not sure. Yet.

to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ

Here's the first bit that might make you go, "Hmmmm." Why? Because this principle gets spun out by those charged with the implementation of the ensuing liturgical form as giving them license to do anything they wanted. Consider this comment from Archbishop Bugnini (who we'll talk more about later):

We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Prostestants.

That's a bold statement, but it expresses a sentiment that is rife amongst folks who look at Vatican II through the innovators' glasses.

to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church.

Amen! But notice how this contrasts with what the picture of unity might be for the innovator might be from the prior comment. Unity here = conversion. It does not mean a shift, convergence, or whatever whereby Catholicism becomes Protestantized.

The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.

I don't think anyone really denies there was a need for some kind of liturgical reform.

For the liturgy, "through which the work of our redemption is accomplished," [Secret of the ninth Sunday after Pentecost] most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.

Considering the liturgy is perhaps the most palpable refutation of the evangelical "Jesus and Me" concept, this is good stuff, I think.

It is of the essence of the Church that she be both human and divine, visible and yet invisibly equipped, eager to act and yet intent on contemplation, present in this world and yet not at home in it; and she is all these things in such wise that in her the human is directed and subordinated to the divine, the visible likewise to the invisible, action to contemplation, and this present world to that city yet to come, which we seek [Hebrews 13:14].

There is a good deal of awesomeness packed into that emphasized part there. In fact, you might be able to trace 90%+ of the Church's current problems to the modern parishioner, priest, bishop, or whoever to accept this very basic principle, especially when it comes to the liturgy.

Think about it. What elevates the human above God, visible above invisible, and so forth than your average Disco Mass. What parish "liturgical committee" doesn't spend the bulk of its time trying to find newer and better ways of increasing action over contemplation? Hell, the entire notion of participation at Mass these days is about putting exterior what-not above interior reflection.

While the liturgy daily builds up those who are within into a holy temple of the Lord, into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit [Eph. 2:21-22], to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ [Eph. 4:13], at the same time it marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations [Is. 11:12] under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together [John 11:52], until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd [John 10:16].

I take time now to point out another item relating to the liturgy as something for those who are outside the Church to take note of. One would think this suggests a liturgy that would be expressly Catholic, as opposed to modified to meet Protestant ideas.

Wherefore the sacred Council judges that the following principles concerning the promotion and reform of the liturgy should be called to mind, and that practical norms should be established.

Among these principles and norms there are some which can and should be applied both to the Roman rite and also to all the other rites. The practical norms which follow, however, should be taken as applying only to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things, affect other rites as well.

I've tried really hard to make sense of that second paragraph. There's stuff that applies to all rites, but there will be some that apply only to the Roman rite, except for what affects other rites. It might help if I had a better idea of what was meant by "practical norms." Regardless of what the rest of the constitution says, I see this thrown around a lot by folks who want to "reform" the Eastern rites or the other Western rites.

Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

In retrospect, this seems weird. All the rites are great and awesome. The Council wants to preserve and foster them. Reform should be done "carefully" and "in the light of sound tradition." Yet they are supposed to meet the needs of modern times.

Here's what I don't get. The times for Gregory the Great and John Chrysostom were modern for them when they lived in them. As time went on, any given Catholic going to Mass was going in their own modern time. Were these liturgies not meeting the needs and circumstances of those times for those Catholics? Or were the 60s just a new kind of times that meant new stuff needed to be done?

And that whole deal about preserving all the rites? Until the motu proprio came out, did anybody seriously think that efforts had been made to preserve the Traditional Latin Mass? Where was the Roman rite in all these efforts for preservation?

It was annihilated, per Msgr. Klaus Gamber in his book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy:

At this critical juncture, the traditional Roman rite, more than one thousand years old, has been destroyed.

It doesn't make any sense.

Let me know what you all think

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

She Is The Immaculate Conception

You might be wondering, Where's Mary? True, this isn't an icon of the Blessed Mother. It is, however, a picture of what we celebrate today, namely, the Immaculate Conception of the Theotokos.

This is one of my favorite icons. I have no real words myself for today, so I'll leave that to some other folks.

O most blessed loins of Joachim from which came forth a spotless seed! O glorious womb of Anne in which a most holy offspring grew.

St. John Damascene

Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God forbid! -- to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.

Blessed Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus

Saturday, December 5, 2009

So A Guy Walks Into A Mass . . .

And sees the priest facing the altar, smells incense burning, and hears chanting in Latin. Does he turn around a walk out?

You have to wonder. Yesterday marks the 45th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II constitution on the liturgy. This weekend, we'll start our ongoing study of this document, but I wanted to just throw out some items that have been written in recollection of this event.

Eric Sammons seeks to defend the Pauline Mass, allegedly the product of Vatican II (we'll see about that). He points out that how the Ordinary Form is often celebrated really isn't a rubrical requirement. Valuable points, to be sure.

Kenneth Wolfe gives a brief description as to how the Pauline Mass came to be, perhaps in spite of Vatican II's discussion of reform. He concludes with optimism springing from Pope Benedict's liberation of the Traditional Roman Rite.

Then you have Fr. Michael Ryan, who is angered by even the idea of a new translation for the Pauline Mass. This is kind of funny, since he spends some time blasting others for "rubricism" and inflexibility. Anyways, he comes this () close to advocating schism. He says that it really just "smacks of insubordination." I guess that makes it ok, then. What he proposes is "market testing" and "dialogue" on what the liturgy is and how it's done.

I wonder why contemporary Catholics should be granted such authority, given that Catholics forty years ago were basically told, "This is the new Mass. Shut up and deal." Here's the reason. Because back then, the progressives were running the show and had convinced the Pope that this was what was best. No dialogue, no exchange. Just imposition. And most Catholics, being obedient, went along.

Fast forward a few decades. The progressives are dying off. The movement towards tradition is increasingly being driven by the young. The Pope is a liturgy guy who understands the problem. Now, the idea of top-down imposition is some sort of disservice to the laity. Concessions must be made. We need market testing to see how this is going to work. It's a death march for Fr. Ryan and his ilk.

We come back to the original question, though. Will people walk away? Fr. Ryan's article shows the seeds of such a possibility. Disobedience has been so legitimized lately, I think we have to consider this. If someone is willing to write this kind of article when the issue is just a translation, think about what the reaction would be if the Pauline Mass was derogated (sort of like what happened to the TLM) or, even further, suppressed completely? The progressives, and probably the secular world at large, would think such an event worse than the reign of the AntiChrist.

Here's the thing. If a Catholic is willing to walk away from the Eucharist or enter into schism over what would be nothing more than a return to the liturgical tradition of the West as it was known for over 1500 years, what does that say for the average Catholic these days? Or his/her bishop who let the perception of obedience deteriorate that far?

Would the formal manifestation of what should probably be described as de facto schism be a bad thing? Scandal is bad. You've got the wheat and tares problem from Matthew 13. The Fathers would usually do everything they could to prevent open schism. There was always the tipping point, though.

I'm saying we're there yet, but we're a lot closer than we used to be.