Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Remembering The Reformation

For some reason, the Council for Promoting Christian Unity has decided to do a Joint Declaration on the Reformation with the World Lutheran Federation in order to "analyze the Reformation in the light of 2,000 years of Christianity." This is all per Zenit.


The history of this sort of thing is checkered at best. Remember the famous Joint Declaration on Justification that was so afflicted that it required a Catholic "Response" to the Vatican Declaration? Or the Ravenna Statement with the Orthodox which has thus far rejected all of my attempts to interpret it in a Catholic fashion? None of these documents really produce anything except mass confusion. It's not like the WLF even speaks for all the Lutherans. So why are we even bothering?

On top of that, let's consider the stated goal of the document, namely, considering the Reformation in light of Christian history. If we're really going to do that, then the only conclusion is that Martin Luther was a heretic and schismatic. If you look at the work of guys like TF Torrance, for example, Protestants are admitting that Lutheran ideas of justification really don't have a place in Church history. However, in the interest of being all ecumenicool (ecumenical AND cool; I just coined the term and will sue anyone else who uses it), I have the feeling this document will be playing fast and loose with the facts so that we can shoe-horn in some kind of legitimacy for heretical doctrines.

As usual, the Truth is what will suffer. Hopefully, the Pope will squash this or at least render it mostly harmless.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Brief Tangent On Economics

The woes of rural America are unseen and unheard in our recent economic badness. It's exceptionally common to see much tooth-gnashing over, say, the fate of Detroit or some other metropolitan area. The country part of the country is ignored. This is a bad thing.

Consider this tidbit from ABC. I would think this would have been big news, but I only discovered it by accident.

Rural America now accounts for just 16 percent of the nation's population, the lowest ever.

The latest 2010 census numbers hint at an emerging America where, by midcentury, city boundaries become indistinct and rural areas grow ever less relevant. Many communities could shrink to virtual ghost towns as they shutter businesses and close down schools, demographers say.

More metro areas are booming into sprawling megalopolises. Barring fresh investment that could bring jobs, however, large swaths of the Great Plains and Appalachia, along with parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and North Texas, could face significant population declines.

These places posted some of the biggest losses over the past decade as young adults left and the people who stayed got older, moving past childbearing years...

While rural America shrinks, larger U.S. metro areas have enjoyed double-digit percentage gains in population over the past several decades. Since 2000, metros grew overall by 11 percent with the biggest gains in suburbs or small- or medium-sized cities. In fact, of the 10 fastest-growing places, all were small cities incorporated into the suburbs of expanding metro areas, mostly in California, Arizona and Texas...

He and other demographers believe that rural areas will remain viable, although many will be swallowed up by booming metropolitan areas and linked into sprawling megalopolises. Far-flung rural counties boasting vacation and outdoor recreation also will continue as popular destination points for young couples, retirees and empty nesters.

Lang said he hoped the growing convergence of major metro areas — and smaller towns in between — will promote better regional planning and cooperation rather than leading to individual cities acting as rivals for new investment. He said such collaboration might mean development of more roads or regional high-speed rail, or new approaches to water and energy conservation in the Mountain West.

I consider this important and not just because I live in a rural area. Personally, I feel that the consolidation of people and resources in the "megalopolises" envisioned in the article is a bad idea and has already shown to be such. Let me admit that I'm no economist and my points on this are largely borne from anecdotes.

When I see people move from the small town to the big city, it is often for a single reason: jobs. I must question how realistic this is when I see the urban unemployment numbers as being so high. However, a certain inertia sets in when this move is made, and the person is highly unlikely to move back. They then find themselves in a lower-paying job than they would have had if they hadn't left. This could be in absolute or simply practical terms, as earning a couple of dollars more an hour won't mean much in an urban environment with twice the cost of living as a rural area.

With so much surplus labor on the market in a limited area, the social services, including the school systems get stretched to the breaking point, which means that there must be corresponding taxes to keep up. These will often be sales taxes which means that the poor will be paying them as well. In addition, so many people crammed into an area (many of whom lack means) will lead to the generation of underground economies and other criminal activities that take advantage of those new opportunities.

None of this even touches the problems of moral and ethical breakdowns when everyone's motivation is materialism, but it's there, too.

The surplusage of labor and other ancillary industries that accompany population migration will permit major companies (such as manufacturing) to thrive for a time. Eventually, though, all of this catches up. Either the taxes, the educational system, the criminal element, or all of these things make for an untenable economic environment. Just ask Detroit.

Looking at all this, it seems to me that fixing it will require the dispersal of cities. All of this excess population competing for resources all in one place can't go on. It's like the watering hole in the Sahara where the weaker animals just die off because they can't get a place at the table. They have to be moved out to where there isn't as much competition and resources are more plentiful. Rural areas might not have the jobs, but we do have land and space.

That collective groan you just heard were the people reading this who rolled their eyes saying, "More distributist nonsense." Just hear me out.

People could at least be trained in some measure of self-sufficiency. Growing their food, working the land, etc. are all things that could be done without people starving or getting trapped in a cycle of dependence upon government assistance. Would it be so mad if schools were teaching this kind of thing these days? On top of that, the one thing we're always going to need is food. Developing the agricultural economy from the ground up (no pun intended) without the drag of corporate interference could be a net gain for everyone. Rural America is where we get our commodities from. Since those are the things we really can't afford to run out of, we should nourish those places.

Moving a step farther down the line, most people probably know the concept of enterprise zones, mostly from back when Jack Kemp was a big name in American politics. Basically, it's tax and regulatory breaks designed to spur economic development in ostensibly undesirable locations. I'm not aware of any federal effort to push this in a rural area. Despite the prevalence of USDA loans and similar mechanisms, I don't think anyone has pushed this. I ask that any reader who knows otherwise to correct me, please. It seems to me that a concerted state and federal effort should be made to disperse the congestion of the cities through mechanisms like this. This would mean property and capital in the hands of masses of locations rather than a few, which hopefully brings a mitigation of the negative factors mentioned above.

As an aside, I think the standard line about rural areas being impractical for job creation because of an "unskilled/uneducated work force" has gotten a bit tired. Most of the stories we see coming out of urban school systems and training programs aren't recording stellar results. What is there is an aging workforce with lots of experience, but one would assume that isn't going to last forever.

The added benefit in all this and why I think it would work has to do somewhat with the nature of rural life itself. Rural areas remain communities and don't suffer from the same personal alienation that is more common in urban life. I've lived in larger cities. Most people don't really know each other and are therefore less apt to appreciate and or care for the common problems of their neighbors. In a setting where everyone know most everyone, this is impossible. Rural areas would therefore appear to offer a bit of a clean slate for economic growth in that many of the symptoms of decay are stifled or at least mitigated to a great extent. Sure, we have meth labs, abusive parents, and other problems that everyone else has, but the lack of population keeps a natural cap on these activities. These areas should be in a position to absorb additional population without greatly contributing to these factors. One would hope that this community life would serve as an early warning system for when capacity is being reached and the problems reach an unacceptable level.

I'm trying to leave the spiritual element out of this for right now. Living closer to the land, relying on God for one's sustenance, being freer from the distractions of materialism, among other things are also contributing factors to why all this would work. However, people are even less likely to listen to those than the other insane ideas I've floated thus far.

Taking all this into account, I think I should close by admitting I don't see any of these things happening. On a local level, cities aren't about to give up their political clout, even if it would make some of their other problems better. Individual politicians aren't about to allow their influence to be diluted even if it would benefit the common good. Look no further than the steps being taken by our own feds. Whether it's the new restrictions on agriculture or the new health care reform law, there are affirmative steps being taken to kill rural areas. And why not? It's easier to control people when they are all in the same place. Brave New World sort of comes to mind.

By the way, for those wanting more information on the problems confronting rural agriculture and rural health care, please look here (which doesn't even address the regulatory scheme being directed against farming) and here (which should scare everyone since it means dead people in rural areas and surges to metropolitan hospitals that can't be absorbed).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How's That Springtime Working Out?

We have heard, almost ad nauseam, over the last few decades about the New Springtime of Evangelization, New Pentecost, etc. and all the glorious effects that it had and would continue to have on the Church. I've never understood all this talk, nor do I recall seeing many of these allegedly positive outcomes. Monsignor Pope's article from the Archdiocese of Washington demonstrates why.

To summarize, the number of converts continues to drop. The figures he quotes are pretty harrowing. Not being one to simply lament the problem, he does offer suggestions to fix things:

You and I will likely look to causes and solutions. And the temptation is to look outside ourselves and say the bishops ought to do something. Perhaps, but allow me to offer that the solution to this problem is no further than your very self, my very self.

What would happen to the Church tomorrow if every Church-going Catholic pledged to bring one fallen away family member or friend back to communion with the Church in the next two years? Well of course our numbers would nearly double. A few of us might not be successful, but, if we really worked at it, we’d probably come close to doubling. And the Lord would surely be pleased and also reward our efforts.

The answer is not really so difficult, but it is hard work. Yet, we do not need to go to a mountaintop to get the answer. The answer is staring you in the mirror: Go make disciples. If you need to, grab a partner and work on two people together. But get started. It goes without saying that you ought to have something approaching a relationship with the Lord to be a good evangelizer. More on that next week. But for now, don’t wait to be perfect just get started.

I think the real problem is how many people will take his comments seriously. If you have a bunch of people who don't think of Catholicism as just another path to salvation, with no unique role or benefit in preserving a soul from hell, you aren't going to be all that motivated to explain to people why they should ditch their current religion for something else, True or not. Indifferentism and Pelagianism are kissing cousins and a real problem to untangle from someone's mind. It doesn't help that they already have a hold on so many Catholics.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Altar Girls

Yeah, this is pretty much a third rail topic. It's amazing to see how folks can get worked up over this one. William Oddie decided to use a gas can and blowtorch in his discussion of it over at the Catholic Herald. You should read it and pay special attention to the narrative on how girls serving at the altar came to be. Like so many other such items (communion in the hand- eg), it was a widespread abuse that the Pope caved on. I hadn't heard the explanation of political and/or legal pressure before, but the bottom line is that the Church capitulated to the whims of Her enemies (from within and without).

If we are to see any reversals of our current fortunes, these types of things have to stop or be repealed. Now is as good a time as any.

Pray for our bishops, especially the Holy Father.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Read This, Then Tell Me What It Means

From Rorate:

"On 28 May 2011 Father Couture, the District Superior, came to visit our Convent. He had been delegated by Bishop Fellay to receive the vows of Mother Mary Micaela as she transferred from the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of New Zealand to the Dominican Sisters of Wanganui. [A congregation "friendly" with the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X - FSSPX / SSPX.]

"She had special permission from the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes in Rome to do this. As far as we know this is a world first, that a Sister would be allowed to transfer from a Novus Ordo congregation to a congregation set up by Bishop Fellay. The whole procedure implies a recognition of our Congregation, and of the religious of Tradition, by Rome."

This strikes me as a big freaking deal, especially with the upcoming visit of Bishop Fellay to Rome. Am I wrong?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Justice For The Dead

There is a complete lack of concern for the dead these days. Masses aren't being offered. People seem almost embarrassed to talk about indulgences, much less try to take advantage of them. Yet there is a huge emphasis on social justice and even liberation theology. Why is this?

Are the sufferings of the living more important than those of the dead? Not that I can see. Praying for the dead is one of the works of mercy, just like feeding the hungry, et al. I haven't found anything Magisterial on the subject that says the poor and hungry are in a class beyond the souls in purgatory. With that in mind, let's just look at it from a more practical perspective.

Take the example of the starving and destitute. We should do all we can to help them, even though doing so will probably deplete our own material stores. Consider now the soul in purgatory. What does helping them cost us? A few moments of our time? If that long?

Consider this as well, and I say this without any intention of making light of those in the situation of poverty and starvation. Their pain is limited by their lifespan and encompasses the natural pain of the body. If we are to believe the visionaries and saints who have communicated with the Church Suffering, there are souls who will be in purgatory until the End of Days unless they are helped by those on Earth. Not only that, but their pains are comparable to the pains of hell, the only difference being that the soul in purgatory suffers in love and hope rather than hate and despair.

In other words, the souls in purgatory are in much worse shape, yet there are almost no concerted efforts to help them. Where's the justice in that? Folks will try to overthrown whole regimes in the name of liberation theology, but when we're talking about the true liberation wrought by Christ, namely, the liberation from sin into salvation, there is apathy or sometimes outright mockery.

Worse than that, without the assistance of the Church Militant, the poor on Earth could very well be sentenced to the additional suffering in purgatory after they pass away. By not praying for the Suffering Souls, you are doing these people a dual injustice.

Next time you hear someone giving an extended shpiel about social justice, maybe it would be a good idea to remember our other suffering brethren, who seem to be forgotten by everyone, including (and perhaps especially) by those who would claim to make alleviating suffering their purpose in life. Let's remember that suffering is suffering, and we should help regardless of who the hurting party is.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cardinal Siri On VII's First Session

Rorate seems to be getting into the act by recounting some of the Council's historical highlights. Naturally, we welcome the contribution to the project. We've already discussed the first session ourselves and all the shenanigans that ensued as the Rhine faction hijacked the proceedings. I'd never seen the Cardinal Siri account provided by Rorate, though, so we're trying to help spread it around.

The Council has revealed: that a vague direction in the Church is being outlined, this is represented by a group of the German language and the like. It is organized aliquatenus [to a certain degree]. This is a partial attempt that you cannot affirm with certainty, but you see it in the facts, that someone has a clear and deliberate plan in mind; there is rage against reason, theology and the law. One sees the end of kerygmalism, that is, often that of eliminating Tradition, Ecclesia etc., this is more unconscious than conscious, but it is helped along by the lack of intuition of those who want absolutely to adapt as much as possible to the protestants, to the orthodox etc.,in very many cases, literature prevails on theology. Many beautiful and also true dissertations pertain to literary considerations on dogma, not dogma itself; there is talk of a Theologia nova and the concept of this, let alone the aim, appear to be very dark and perhaps dangerous. The term Theologia nova was coined by a Belgian bishop at the Council.”

Rorate includes a footnote of exactly what items Cardinal Siri was so worried about. It's an astounding bit of prophecy for something written in 1963.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Brief Tangent On Politics

I've indicated before that I harbor monarchist sympathies. Not that I harbor any kind of romantic idealism that they're perfect or anything. I just don't understand why so many are allergic and/or repulsed by the concept. Recent events here in the United States have served to solidify my views. Before I go any further, let me be clear that I also don't think there is any chance of the old monarchical systems being restored absent some kind of complete and total breakdown of the current order of things. Yes, I know about the Great Monarch. That's sort of my point. Anything permitting a leader like that is nothing short of a signpost directly to the End of Days.

Moving on.

As I look around, I see the United States, a republic, beset by a large number of problems. Ignoring the moral deterioration and social decay for a moment, the main issues contributing to the nation's instability are economic. In a nutshell, the country has developed an appetite for free stuff from our government and is now unavailable to pay for it. Lest anyone think I am talking solely of social safety net programs, I am including various aspects of our allegedly free market system that has encouraged the rise of monopolies and oligopolies (both public and private) and promoted the misallocation of resources (certain subsidies, for example). All of this has become painfully obvious in recent years with the collapse of 2008, the subsequent TARP bailout, the stimulus plan that has never materialized, and the more immediate conflict that erupted over the raising of the debt ceiling.

As with any republic, we citizens have elected legislators to deal with these problems. They have largely failed and in many ways have exacerbated our problems. The solution to all this, as a republic, would seem to be to elect new legislators more adept at solving the problems. Herein is the problem.

Looking around, it seems painfully obvious that the large majority of Americans have absolutely no idea what any of these problems mean. They don't know what cause the 2008 collapse. They probably don't even know what the debt ceiling is. Our populace has become well-versed in sound bites but without any clue of whether or not what they are saying is true. We have allowed our population to become so dumbed-down that the basic duties of a citizen are now truly beyond the reach of many. This is the real problem.

If the resolution to our problems rests with the choices of our voters, what happens when the voters are unable to grasp the nature of the problems, much less the plans for any remedies? It appears that we evolve into a constituency that really only knows and understands the immediate and personal effects of a given politician's actions. For example, if we receive some form of government aid or are engaged in an industry protected by the governmental aegis, we recognize harm if that assistance is taken away. On the flip side, we would welcome additional financial/legal goodies if they were promulgated in our favor. This is where the terminal short-sidedness comes from. It is worthless to hear debates about issues, as the only issue that remains is self-interest. This is why we hear so much complaining that Americans want spending cuts but are unwilling to pay more taxes or face reduced government benefits and services. Fewer and fewer people comprehend exactly what lies outside themselves in this very large and complicated picture.

Given all this, it seems to me that we've just about ceased to be a republic, since the whole mechanism for allocation of power has broken down. These days, the USA more resembles an aristocracy or oligarchy in which a few power brokers hold sway and no matter the name of who sits in the seat of authority, the same powers prevail. To be clear, there are people who don't know jack about what's going on electing similar people to office who are then easily controlled by other people (whether they are elected officials or not) who do know what's going on and manipulate things to their advantage. Moreover, I don't see any way out of this status quo. It will take decades to re-engage the population on a meaningful level. It's entirely possible that I'm being ignorant and naive by suggesting that it was ever possible and that we've always been this way. If so, let me then simply suggest that the current state of affairs makes it more difficult than ever to extricate ourselves from the very deep hole we're in.

My point in all this is that at least with a monarch you'd have someone who would most likely have spent their whole life being educated on the finer points of all these problems and various ways of dealing with them. Their whole childhood would be an exercise geared towards preparing them for the day when they would assume the throne. One would hope this would spare us from having powerful people concerned over such matters as whether or not Guam might capsize. Again, not saying that monarchy is a silver bullet, but should it really get the bad rap that it does?

As we've seen more and more centralization of power, both economically and politically, perhaps it's not monarchy that people have a problem with. Maybe it's monarchy without the illusion of self-determination that people don't like. As long as the perception remains that there is some level of popular check against "The Man," the citizenry will keep the existing system going. It's too bad that the perception seems to be what gave rise to the oligarchy and is what will allow it to remain. Whatever form of government you have, at least be honest about who is running the show.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

America's New God

This is the title of a recent article by Michael Youssef, and Egyptian-born Protestant who is kind of well-known these days due to his being from the Middle East and all. It makes for good reading for no other reason than it shows a guy who is interested in the Truth and real Charity. Sure, Mr. Youssef and I are going to disagree on a lot of stuff, but at least he seems like a guy who would be honest about there being differences instead of wanting to play make-believe with the most important subject in the universe, namely, God.

On June 26th, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.was the latest church to be used for the promotion of syncretism—the attempted union of different religions. The idea was that “Christian” ministers, Jewish Rabbis, and Muslim Imams would co-lead a service in “Christian” churches around America using a multi-faith liturgy.

Sadly, 70 other churches across America signed on to do the same thing. The event was organized by a group called “Faith Shared.” It comes as no shock that the service was designed to promote “religious tolerance.” This is indeed a major step forward in promoting what I believe to be America’s new god of tolerance.

The major problem with this false god of tolerance is that it is not marked by the true love that genuine Christians believe in and are called upon to exercise. Love of others, regardless of their background, religion, or complexion, should be expressed in offering hospitality, and even service, but not at the expense of the truth. Loving people and selling out on the truth of one’s faith are two different things altogether.

These liberal “apostate” denominations are not only na├»ve and ignorant of the truth of the Christian faith, they are acting on emotional impulse in a way that ultimately endangers our nation. They are seeking to engender personal acceptance from others, rather than imploring others to accept Christ as the Savior.

I haven't heard a Protestant drop the word "apostate" in over 25 years. It's a rare thing to hear from Catholics. This is sad. It ignores the absolute tragedy associated with someone falling away from the Faith. Even if we received some kind of special revelation that this person would be saved at the 11th hour, how can we be Ok with their lost time during their life? St. Augustine lamented at how late he was to accept the call of God. If he felt that way, maybe we should as well and not take our time (or that of others) in grace for granted.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 8

Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of the whole community; rather does she respect and foster the genius and talents of the various races and peoples. Anything in these peoples' way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact. Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit.

I see this section quoted a lot. Up to the semicolon, at least. The first clause is often used to justify liturgical abuse in the name of pushing back against "rigid uniformity." They conveniently leave out the qualifier about this being related to evangelization. This is not about legitimizing disco liturgy. Please see our previous post here for more on Vatican II and liturgy in the mission field.

Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands, provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved; and this should be borne in mind when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics.

Notice that even in these mission situations, that bit about the substantial unity of the Roman Rite is to be preserved. Too bad none of us know what that means. The more relevant consideration here is that, if the Council was so concerned about preserving the unity of the Roman Rite for the missions, why was there any kind of effort at all to develop a new Mass?

Within the limits set by the typical editions of the liturgical books, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to specify adaptations, especially in the case of the administration of the sacraments, the sacramentals, processions, liturgical language, sacred music, and the arts, but according to the fundamental norms laid down in this Constitution.

Again, the national conferences appear. Once more, though, we see that they aren't as powerful as is sometimes claim. Naturally, they are supposed to be subservient to the Holy See. Here, we also see that they are superseded by the norms of the Constitution. In other words, stuff like that preserving Latin business. I really wonder how many priests and bishops are even aware of this these days.

In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties. Wherefore:

Ugh. Talk about opening the door. Why even bring up that "radical adaptation" is even possible?

1) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which elements from the traditions and culture of individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should when be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced.

So some things have to go to the Apostolic See. If anyone knows of some examples of the things the Vatican has approved, I'm curious to see them. The stuff I've looked up has conflicting accounts as to what is Vatican-approved and what was strictly introduced by the local authority. Or what the criteria is for distinguishing radical, useful, necessary, and so forth from what doesn't qualify.

2) To ensure that adaptations may be made with all the circumspection which they demand, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and to direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments over a determined period of time among certain groups suited for the purpose.


3) Because liturgical laws often involve special difficulties with respect to adaptation, particularly in mission lands, men who are experts in these matters must be employed to formulate them.

If we've learned anything from the Vatican II event, it's that empowering experts is typically a bad idea.

E) Promotion of Liturgical Life in Diocese and Parish

The bishop is to be considered as the high priest of his flock, from whom the life in Christ of his faithful is in some way derived and dependent.

Therefore all should hold in great esteem the liturgical life of the diocese centered around the bishop, especially in his cathedral church; they must be convinced that the pre-eminent manifestation of the Church consists in the full active participation of all God's holy people in these liturgical celebrations, especially in the same eucharist, in a single prayer, at one altar, at which there presides the bishop surrounded by his college of priests and by his ministers [35].

Admirable statements. And, if I might add, the only footnote for this entire part, which is to the epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch.

But because it is impossible for the bishop always and everywhere to preside over the whole flock in his Church, he cannot do other than establish lesser groupings of the faithful. Among these the parishes, set up locally under a pastor who takes the place of the bishop, are the most important: for in some manner they represent the visible Church constituted throughout the world.

And therefore the liturgical life of the parish and its relationship to the bishop must be fostered theoretically and practically among the faithful and clergy; efforts also must be made to encourage a sense of community within the parish, above all in the common celebration of the Sunday Mass.

Remember all this the next time someone suggests that Vatican II is why lay folk can consecrate the Eucharist or preach homilies or read the Gospel. The parishes are set up below both the bishop and pastor. It goes without saying that community bears no indication of equality in roles.

F) The Promotion of Pastoral-Liturgical Action

Zeal for the promotion and restoration of the liturgy is rightly held to be a sign of the providential dispositions of God in our time, as a movement of the Holy Spirit in His Church. It is today a distinguishing mark of the Church's life, indeed of the whole tenor of contemporary religious thought and action.

So that this pastoral-liturgical action may become even more vigorous in the Church, the sacred Council decrees:

It is desirable that the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, set up a liturgical commission, to be assisted by experts in liturgical science, sacred music, art and pastoral practice. So far as possible the commission should be aided by some kind of Institute for Pastoral Liturgy, consisting of persons who are eminent in these matters, and including laymen as circumstances suggest. Under the direction of the above-mentioned territorial ecclesiastical authority the commission is to regulate pastoral-liturgical action throughout the territory, and to promote studies and necessary experiments whenever there is question of adaptations to be proposed to the Apostolic See.

Again with the national conferences and experts. And experiments. But also again, the novelties are to be regulated by Rome.

For the same reason every diocese is to have a commission on the sacred liturgy under the direction of the bishop, for promoting the liturgical apostolate.

Sometimes it may be expedient that several dioceses should form between them one single commission which will be able to promote the liturgy by common consultation.

Besides the commission on the sacred liturgy, every diocese, as far as possible, should have commissions for sacred music and sacred art.

These three commissions must work in closest collaboration; indeed it will often be best to fuse the three of them into one single commission.

If our diocese has any of this stuff, I've never heard of it. Does yours? The thing that bothers me about all this is that the Church seemed to be fine without it. We know from earlier in the Constitution that innovations are prohibited unless "genuinely and certainly" needed. That seems to set a pretty high standard. So why is so much here dedicated to creating machinery that appears aimed at facilitating innovations?

I just don't get it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Auxiliary Bishop Chris Coyne: I'm pretty sure it was still a valid Mass

Read this bit from Bishop Coyne. To summarize, he was worried enough about how the Mass was offered that he didn't ask the priest celebrant to hear his confession. His conclusion is interesting.

Every time people ask my why some in the Church have a desire for the "extraordinary rite," the traditional Latin Mass, I guess I can give them at least one good reason. Masses like this. When one attends the Mass according to the Tridentine Rite, you know what you are going to get. There is no one being 'creative,' no one making up their own prayers or rite, and no question of validity. I am a chid of Vatican II. From the time I was old enough to understand what was happening at Mass, it has been the Mass of Pope Paul VI. I have been formed in it. I have studied it. I love it. Out of it, I have been ordained a deacon, a priest, and a bishop to celebrate it for the people of God. I have no desire to celebrate the Tridentine Rite but any time I hear people criticize those who want the "traditional" Mass, I am more inclined to understand why they want this form of the Mass. Perhaps if each priest were committed to the correct celebration of the present Mass of Paul VI - the Church's rites and not the rite of Fr. X - then maybe there would be less clamor for the "traditional" rite. Just a thought.

It's a good theory. It should go without saying that many folks were driven to "traditional" Catholicism by disco liturgy. Whether or not things would shift if the Pauline Mass was treated with more respect by its ersatz defenders is a difficult question. I doubt very much you'd see the clamorers asking to go back to the OF. Would it slow down the number of folks hastening to the TLM? Perhaps.

More likely, a reverent OF would thin out a lot of disco parishes after the mass exodus of DJ Deacon-Rock and the Funky Bunch to the nearest parish that would let them get away with it. If that wasn't an option, I can see them leaving the Church altogether or setting up a schismatic alternative. That's the weird thing about this kind of liturgy. It's like a drug. People get addicted to their own self-importance in concocting and participating in these abominations. Once they are asked to decrease so that He may increase, it isn't fun anymore, and they seek out somewhere that will let worship be all about them again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"I Can't Understand A Word He Says."

Most of us have probably heard this at some point. We've had a priest from Africa or Asia or somewhere beyond the English-speaking pale, and the guy happens to have a very thick accent. This almost inevitably leads to people griping that they can't understand him.

Such people should be beaten.

First of all, they should be happy they have a priest around at all.

Second, these complaints are usually always related to the homily which, objectively speaking, is probably the least important part of the Mass. I can't recall hearing anyone worried about whether or not they comprehended the Eucharistic Prayer.

Third, I've noticed these are often the same folks who will go to charismatic gatherings, conferences, etc. and sit completely enrapt while someone babbles utterly incoherent gibberish. Let me add that whether this sort of gift is authentic or not, the fact that it's usually done with total disregard for St. Paul's directives should tell you something.

Fourth, if someone doesn't like hearing a priest with a foreign accent, maybe they should take a long look in the mirror. Have they done anything to encourage vocations? The reason we have so many foreign priests is because we aren't taking care of business in our own country. We should thank God that He has blessed some nations with an abundance of priests so that we can mooch off of them. Instead, we complain that we might have to listen a little more closely to make out what our pastor says.

It's just plain weird to hear people make this such a big deal. Of all the things going on in the Church today, we actually have the inclination to air grievances about a priest's manner of speech. Thank God we didn't have to make it through the times of Nero or Diocletian.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Recent Question

We recently received the following query regarding our prior post on Cardinal Ottaviani:

«The Curia would eventually develop allies as the other Council Fathers began to note the Rhine group's concerted actions. This would eventually lead to the formation of the "International Group of Fathers," composed mostly of bishops from Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America.»

Can you elaborate some more on this?

Basically, the coordinated activity of the Rhine bishops to re-direct the conciliar proceedings was either unnoticed or insufficient to raise any real concerns. In other words, nobody really did anything about it. We have the benefit now of knowing about all the meetings and strategery that culminated in Cardinal Leinart's first session demands that all the commissions be scrapped and that the preparatory efforts be restarted essentially at ground zero.

As it progressed and the Rhine alliance was exposed, a separate block (that had really already begun to emerge) organized to back the efforts of guys like Cardinal Ottaviani. They became known as the Coetus Internationalis Patrum (the International Group of Fathers). While they served to blunt many of the Rhine initiatives, they were late to the game and pretty much played from behind the whole time.

Hope that helps.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Man's Potential For Blasphemy Knows No Bounds

This isn't really about the Church. I just realized that there are re-makes being done for Fright Night and John Carpenter's The Thing.

What wretched jerks thought these were good ideas? What's next? A "re-imagining" of the Mona Lisa? Perhaps a re-make of Beethoven's 9th Symphony or Mozart's Missa Solemnis?

Geez, some folks have no shame.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Remembering Cardinal Ottaviani

Rorate has a wonderful tribute up dedicated to this faithful servant of God on this 32nd anniversary of his death. Take a look and reflect upon what kind of suffering he must have endured in the latter years of his life.

Also, if you want to know more about the events of the Council that the above posting mentions, you can find a good overview in one of our prior Vatican II posts here.

Requiescat in pace, Your Eminence.