Sunday, September 30, 2012
Make sure you visit and bookmark Boniface & Company's (including yours truly) new project at the Unam Sanctam Catholicam web site. It's good stuff on a whole host of Church-related issues, ranging from history to theology to movie reviews. Most folks here should have some exposure to the kind of content I'm talking about thanks to prior linkages to Boniface's blog, which can be found here.
Unam Sanctam Catholicam!
Saturday, September 29, 2012
I got my own beehive back in March of this year. I'm not looking to become a honey magnate or anything. It's just something I've always been intrigued by and finally found myself in a position to work on as a hobby. There's also the fact that my kids find it interesting, so it gives us something to do together.
Even if you're a single guy, though, I highly recommend this.
If I may delve into corniness for a moment, bees make very good teachers. You know that bit from the Gospel about the ravens and the lilies and how God takes care of them? The first thing I learned about beekeeping was that all I was going to do is mess stuff up if I tried to "fix" something for the ladies of the hive. They didn't want or need my help. Eventually, they got the message across.
I have to say that they do have one thing over the lilies/ravens. When it comes to laboring, sowing, etc., the ladies of the hive are about as impressive a force of nature as I can imagine. It's not the destructiveness of hurricanes and tornadoes. Think of the creative opposite. Thousands of tiny little cogs, all whirring around the central axis of the queen, simultaneously fulfilling their duties without gripe or complaint. It's an almost symphonic display of work. They take care of themselves and each other. They don't know violence, except in defense of their own, at which point they will offer their own lives for the common good. Of course, there's also the fact that their work sustains the entire ecosystem by assisting plants with pollination. What a wonderful creature!
Seriously, you can sit and watch them for hours without getting bored.
Anyway, since this is a Catholic blog, I felt obligated to mention how the Church has paid homage to the ladies. If you were at Easter this year, you heard the return of bees to the Exsultet:
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father, accept this candle, a solemn offering, the work of bees and of your servants’ hands, an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church.
But now we know the praises of this pillar, which glowing fire ignites for God’s honour, a fire into many flames divided, yet never dimmed by sharing of its light, for it is fed by melting wax, drawn out by mother bees to build a torch so precious.
A pox on whoever thought it was a good idea to edit that out for the last how many decades.
More than that, there is a wonderful speech that Venerable Pius XII gave to some beekeepers back in 1948.
Your presence in such large numbers, your desire to assemble before Us, beloved sons, is a real comfort: and so We express our heartfelt gratitude for your homage and your gifts, both particularly pleasing to Us. Beyond its material and technical importance, the work which you represent, by its nature and significance has a psychological, moral, social, and even religious interest of no small value. Have not bees been sung almost universally in the poetry, sacred no less than profane, of all times?
Impelled and guided by instinct, a visible trace and testimony of the unseen wisdom of the Creator, what lessons do not bees give to men, who are, or should be, guided by reason, the living reflection of the divine intellect!
Bees are models of social life and activity, in which each class has its duty to perform and performs it exactly—one is almost tempted to say conscientiously—without envy, without rivalry, in the order and position assigned to each, with care and love. Even the most inexperienced observer of bee culture admires the delicacy and perfection of this work. Unlike the butterfly which flits from flower to flower out of pure caprice; unlike the wasp and the hornet, brutal aggressors, who seem intent on doing only harm with no benefit for anyone, the bee pierces to the very depths of the flower's calix diligently, adroitly, and so delicately, that once its precious treasure has been gathered, it gently leaves the flowers without having injured in the least the light texture of their garments or caused a single one of their petals the loss of its immaculate freshness.
Then, loaded down with sweet-scented nectar, pollen, and propolis, without capricious gyrations, without lazy delays, swift as an arrow, with precise, unerring, certain flight, it returns to the hive, where valorous work goes on intensely to process the riches so carefully garnered, to produce the wax and the honey.
Ah, if men could and would listen to the lesson of the bees: if each one knew how to do his daily duty with order and love at the post assigned to him by Providence; if everyone knew how to enjoy, love, and use in the intimate harmony of the domestic hearth the little treasures accumulated away from home during his working day: if men, with delicacy, and to speak humanly, with elegance, and also, to speak as a Christian, with charity in their dealings with their fellow men, would only profit from the truth and the beauty conceived in their minds, from the nobility and goodness carried about in the intimate depths of their hearts, without offending by indiscretion and stupidity, without soiling the purity of their thought and their love, if they only knew how to assimilate without jealousy and pride the riches acquired by contact with their brothers and to develop them in their turn by reflection and the work of their own minds and hearts; if, in a word, they learned to do by intelligence and wisdom what bees do by instinct—how much better the world would be!
Working like bees with order and peace, men would learn to enjoy and have others enjoy the fruit of their labors, the honey and the was, the sweetness and the light in this life here below.
Instead, how often, alas, they spoil the better and more beautiful things by their harshness, violence, and malice: how often they seek and find in every thing only imperfection and evil, and misinterpreting even the most honest intentions, turn goodness into bitterness!
Let them learn therefore to enter with respect, trust, and charity into the minds and hearts of their fellow men discreetly but deeply; then they like the bees will know how to discover in the humblest souls the perfume of nobility and of eminent virtue, sometimes unknown even to those who possess it. They will learn to discern in the depths of the most obtuse intelligence, of the most uneducated persons, in the depths even of the minds of their enemies, at least some trace of healthy judgment, some glimmer of truth and goodness.
As for you, beloved sons, who while bending over your beehives perform with all care the most varied and delicate work for your bees, let your spirits rise in mystic flight to experience the kindness of God, to taste the sweetness of His word and His law (Ps. 18:11; 118: 103), to contemplate the divine light symbolized by the burning flame of the candle, product of the mother bee, as the Church sings in her admirable liturgy of Holy Saturday:
O Lord, God almighty, who hast created heaven and earth and every animal existing over them and in them for the use of men, and who hast commanded through the ministers of holy Church that candles made from the products of bees be lit in church during the carrying out of the sacred office in which the most holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ thy Son is made present and is received; may thy holy blessing descend upon these bees and these hives, so that they may multiply, be fruitful and be preserved from all ills and that the fruits coming forth from them may be distributed for thy praise and that of thy Son and the holy Spirit and of the most blessed Virgin Mary.
Anyways, if you have any kind of yard at all where you live, look into beekeeping. As far as hobbies go, it's not that expensive, it will conform to any vocation or lifestyle.
St. Ambrose, patron of bees, and St. Benedict, patron of beekeepers, pray for us.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
With all the new flak over Mitt Romney and his comments about the 47% (or whatever it is) who don't pay income tax, a not-very-funny thing occurred to me.
On one hand, you seem to have a campaign, whether directly attributable to Romney or not, that seems to be all-in for stirring up feelings of greed and/or selfishness among the electorate.
Are we supposed to feel comfortable with either of these choices? Granted, one side is basically the party of Moloch, but this appeal to dueling Deadly Sins isn't giving me any comfort regarding the future of our nation.
This illustrates a problem with our modern form of government. With an electorate that doesn't understand the problems the nation faces, much less the solutions, it's way easier to just lob stuff toward the baser instincts and wait for the fish to start biting. Let us reflect again on the words of St. John Chrysostom to understand why a deficit of charity is incurable by the government and, as we can see from the present election, is probably only something that the government will make worse.
Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich man's gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone?
Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combine both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion; a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people's hearts first - and then they will joyfully share their wealth.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
That's on the program for the Mother Teresa Catholic secondary school in Ontario. They are setting up a prayer room for Muslims in the school. And, of course, they're tremendously proud of it.
Yeah, it's important that we set up places the false worship of religions that are essentially based on blasphemy. And why are they facilitating the blasphemy?
What values? One would think that a Catholic school would number the propagation of Truth as a value. Apparently, though, Truth is a secondary concern to providing a forum for the worship, beliefs, and ideas that lead souls away from God. Of course, we all remember the stories from the Bible where the Apostles set up altars to false gods, right? Right? Something about what kind of concord there is between Christ and Belial. Or maybe this:
What then? Do I say, that what is offered in sacrifice to idols, is any thing? Or, that the idol is any thing? But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God. And I would not that you should be made partakers with devils.
1 Corinthians 10:19-20
I wonder if they will wind up making the leap from setting up rooms for Mohammedan prayer to wiping out space for Christian worship.
I know, I know. I'm just being all mean and unirenical.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Monday, September 10, 2012
This is one of the things that is most overlooked in the Church today, and Boniface at Unam Sanctam has done a good job of breaking down the problems. Since I wholeheartedly agree with him on this point, especially as it relates to the current dominance of preterist Scriptural interpretations, I felt obliged to link to it here.
Watch the video, then keep watch for the signs. Really, there's nothing wrong with that.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Things are getting more and more 1984-ish. War is Peace. Ignorance is Strength. Freedom is Slavery. Pro-Life is Racist. That's what this thunderously stupid article by Brian Fung would have us believe.
Black is white. Up is down. What other insanities will these people (yeah, I said THESE PEOPLE) come up with in order to justify their evil?
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Running with our prior post regarding Pope Benedict's speech on Judas(es) and why dissenters should leave the Church, I thought this was worth posting as well.
The Holy Father's comments are well-taken. We are bound to obey. The Church is bound to compel us to believe.
Oh, by the way, the Holy Father who wrote the above? It was Blessed John XXIII in Mater et Magistra.
Maybe someone should tell Joe Biden about this.
Friday, September 7, 2012
As they always have and always will. No amount of ostpolitik, detente, appeasement or whatever you want to call it will ever change that.
Communist officials compelled Catholics in a south-central Vietnamese village to remove the altar, tabernacle, cross, and Marian image from a Catholic chapel. The objects were taken to a lay Catholic leader’s home.
Stating that the chapel would henceforth be used “for village activities, not for worship,” officials placed a portrait of Communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) where the cross had been located.
St. John Damascene, St. Theophane Venard, and Servant of God Marcel Van, please pray for these people.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
According to recent reports, the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, is claiming that there are at least twenty folks involved in the Vatican leak scandal. This is no big surprise. We've been saying here for a while that there was no way in heaven, hell, or anywhere else that this guys was acting alone. Really, the only other thing this latest bit of news does is confirm what we already knew, especially concerning the motives behind all this, which are allegedly rooted in protecting the Church and assisting the Holy Father in getting rid of some of the ongoing corruption.
Except for one puzzling comment:
Gabriele has previously claimed he was acting out of love for the church, but said in the interview that people were afraid to speak out from inside the city walls: "Ours is a state where you can get in, kill and leave undisturbed, and after 24 hours no one can say what happened."
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where did that come from? This isn't the kind of comment you just whip out of nowhere and casually drop in a conversation. If I let my old lawyer side take over for a moment, I'd say this almost sounds like Paolo is sending out a threat to air something that really is dangerous. But that would just be my cynical lawyer side talking.
From which it is manifest that, whether these charges be true or false, they do not belong to the Lord's wheat, which must grow until the end of the world throughout the whole field, i.e. the whole earth; as we know, not by the testimony of a false angel such as confirmed your correspondent in his error, but from the words of the Lord in the Gospel. And because these unhappy Donatists have brought the reproach of many false and empty accusations against Christians who were blameless, but who are throughout the world mingled with the chaff or tares, i.e. with Christians unworthy of the name, therefore God has, in righteous retribution, appointed that they should, by their universal Council, condemn as schismatics the Maximianists, because they had condemned Primianus, and baptized while not in communion with Primianus, and rebaptized those whom he had baptized, and then after a short interval should, under the coercion of Optatus the minion of Gildo, reinstate in the honours of their office two of these, the bishops Felicianus of Musti and Prætextatus of Assuri, and acknowledge the baptism of all whom they, while under sentence and excommunicated, had baptized.
St. Augustine, Letter LIII
If, therefore, they are not defiled by communion with the men thus restored again to their office—men whom with their own mouth they had condemned as wicked and impious, and whom they compared to those first heretics whom the earth swallowed up alive, — let them at last awake and consider how great is their blindness and folly in pronouncing the whole world defiled by unknown crimes of Africans, and the heritage of Christ (which according to the promise has been shown unto all nations) destroyed through the sins of these Africans by the maintenance of communion with them; while they refuse to acknowledge themselves to be destroyed and defiled by communicating with men whose crimes they had both known and condemned.
People have been having these issues for a long time. Everyone sins. Try not to let yourself be scandalized by what these others are doing. Trust that God's justice will be properly meted out, whether by the Church or by His own hand, as was the case with Dathan, Korah, and Abiram (who are mentioned later in the same letter). And don't forget that you yourself are not exempt.
We all got it comin', kid
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
One of the things we were going to use as a capstone for our discussion of Sacrosanctum Concilium was to compare what we know as the Pauline Mass with what appears to have been envisioned by the liturgical constitution itself. The question would then be posed whether or not what was discussed in the Council was what was actually done in practice.
Cardinal Brandmuller, who I'm certain is a huge fan and reader of this blog (who isn't?), has decided to go ahead and answer the question for us. Per Rorate:
I must emphasise that the form of the post-conciliar liturgy with all its distortions, is not attributable to the Council or to the Liturgy Constitution established during Vatican II which by the way has not really been implemented even to this day. The indiscriminate removal of Latin and Gregorian Chants from liturgical celebrations and the erection of numerous altars were absolutely not acts prescribed by the Council.
With the benefit of hindsight, let us cast our minds back in particular to the lack of sensitivity shown in terms of care for the faithful and in the pastoral carelessness shown in the liturgical form. One need only think of the Church’s excesses, reminiscent of the [Iconoclastic crisis] which occurred in the [8th] century. Excesses which catapulted numerous faithful into total chaos, leaving many fumbling around in the dark.
Just about anything and everything has been said on this subject. Meanwhile, the liturgy has come to be seen as a mirror image of Church life, subject to an organic historical evolution which cannot - as did indeed happen - suddenly be changed by decree par ordre de mufti. And we are still paying the price today.
Interesting stuff, and dead-on accurate, I think.
Monday, September 3, 2012
The Holy Father's recent address on the Bread of Life discourse needs to be mentioned, with a comparison to current affairs. Consider the following, pulled from Zenit:
In the end, Jesus knew that even among the Twelve there was one who did not believe: Judas. Judas too could have left like the other disciples did; perhaps he should have left had he wanted to be honest.
Those proclaiming to be a follower of Christ, yet not actually believing the words of Christ, are liars.
Instead he stayed with Jesus. He stayed not because of faith, not because of love, but with the secret plan to get back at the Master. Why? Because Judas felt that Jesus had betrayed him and he decided to betray Jesus in turn.
If a person lies about being Catholic (translation: believing Catholic stuff) and stays in the Church in order to mold it in their own image, such a person is just as much of a traitor as Judas.
Judas was a zealot and wanted a victorious Messiah who would lead a revolt against the Romans. Jesus frustrated these expectations. The problem is that Judas did not leave and his gravest fault was falsity, which is the sign of the devil. Because of this Jesus said to the Twelve: “One among you is a devil!”
In other words, these liars and traitors don't belong to Christ. They belong to The Adversary. As the lines keep drawn in clearer and clearer terms, it is getting harder and harder to attribute ignorance to the masses who claim the right to dissent from the Magisterium. This is especially true in the cases where the dissenter declares that they know all this stuff and will continue their revolt anyway.
Let's remember these people as we move forward. Charity must always be exercised, like with the priest in the clip, but we can't dodge these folks either. Charity doesn't mean shying away from confrontation.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
In our last entry, we closed with a comment about concelebration, and how manufacturing a new rite for concelebration in the West appeared to contradict the liturgical constitution's own terms that spoke of restricting innovations. Moving along, we now reach a new chapter that discusses the other sacraments and sacramentals:
This is a loaded paragraph. In a day and age where the sacraments tend to be reduced entirely to exercises of feel-good Oprahism. Here, the emphasis is on the supernatural order, the worship of God, and the faithful's need of grace. I'm not sure that there has been anything more devastating to the liturgy than the loss of sense that the Mass is the supreme act of worship. It is, quite literally, the most important thing that happens on the planet, and its status as an act of worship is what makes it that way. Yet few seem to grasp this.
It is therefore of the highest importance that the faithful should easily understand the sacramental signs, and should frequent with great eagerness those sacraments which were instituted to nourish the Christian life.
For me, this sentence encapsulates something that should be an approach that everyone should take to the Council. The Council had a goal for the faithful to better understand certain things, such as the sacraments. With the complete collapse of the Faith in the last half century, it's obvious that the Council was a miserable failure on this point. It wouldn't be the first time a Council bombed on an important goal. Lateran V did likewise. So did Florence. And they were dogmatic councils. A big part of the problem here has been the constant drumbeat of absurd optimism and praise about Vatican II.
There's no shame in admitting the Council failed. Continuing to double down on what a huge success it was doesn't make it true.
Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments: they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind, which are obtained through the Church's intercession. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.
I guess now is a good time to mention that most Catholics probably have no idea what a sacramental is.
Thus, for well-disposed members of the faithful, the liturgy of the sacraments and sacramentals sanctifies almost every event in their lives; they are given access to the stream of divine grace which flows from the paschal mystery of the passion, death, the resurrection of Christ, the font from which all sacraments and sacramentals draw their power. There is hardly any proper use of material things which cannot thus be directed toward the sanctification of men and the praise of God.
The last sentence poses a problem because, while true, such things only function in that way when they are adopted as such on God's terms, rather than our own. It's easy to read this in after decades of abuses, but if VII has taught us anything, it's that stuff like this can be reinterpreted to suit the needs of the reader. In this case, you see it when folks use this line to justify their own activities above the Church's. For example, going to Seder meals and such during Holy Week. Sure, it might be an educational experience, but I see more and more Catholics trying to make such events into a religious ritual, often whilst scorning legitimate Catholic traditions.
With the passage of time, however, there have crept into the rites of the sacraments and sacramentals certain features which have rendered their nature and purpose far from clear to the people of today; hence some changes have become necessary to adapt them to the needs of our own times. For this reason the sacred Council decrees as follows concerning their revision.
Adaptation. Again. Somehow, these rites and sacramentals were able to nourish the faith of Catholics for centuries, across all continents, and through myriad cultural settings. What happened in 1963 that demonstrated this need for change? The fact that Catholics actually participated in these rites or used the sacramentals? The 80%+ Mass attendance and literacy in the Faith?
And has the adaptation worked? Are things better? Take a look around and let me know what you see.
One other thing about this section (and the document as a whole). Notice that there isn't a lot of detail on what the problems are and why they are so bad or ineffective. This makes fixing any potential problem very difficult since you don't really know what the problem is. It also makes novelty more palatable, as folks can come up with their own view of what the problem is, then go about "fixing" it in the manner that they feel is appropriate.
Because of the use of the mother tongue in the administration of the sacraments and sacramentals can often be of considerable help to the people, this use is to be extended according to the following norms
And we're back to the vernacular again.
The vernacular language may be used in administering the sacraments and sacramentals, according to the norm of Art. 36.
But not really, since any use of the vernacular is subject to the prior point that Latin is is to be preserved as the regular language of the Western Church.
On this point, I'd like to refer back to one of our commentators, Mr. Gary MacEoin, from his book What Happened in Rome? MacEoin foresaw these sorts of items as leading to a demolition of liturgical Latin altogether. Of course, this is done without reference to Blessed John XXIII's views or the language of the Council itself. Here's what Mr. MacEoin said on pg. 68:
In January 1964, Pope Paul set up a permanent committee in Rome, charged with the duty of completing the liturgical reform according to the principles established in the Council decree. This will mean not only an extension of the use of the living language, perhaps to the entire text of the Mass, but a reformation and reformulation of the content of the Mass and other public prayers of the Latin rite. The result will be a liturgy closer to that of the early Church and at the same time more meaningful to twentieth-century man.
Not only does this analysis ignore the principles of SC that are supportive of Latin, but he basically refers to the stated norm as being on its way to extinction. This shift will lead to a more "meaningful" liturgy. Just check out the average wardrobe at Mass and discern for yourself if its more meaningful now than 50 years ago.
In harmony with the new edition of the Roman Ritual, particular rituals shall be prepared without delay by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, of this Constitution. These rituals, which are to be adapted, also as regards the language employed, to the needs of the different regions, are to be reviewed by the Apostolic See and then introduced into the regions for which they have been prepared. But in drawing up these rituals or particular collections of rites, the instructions prefixed to the individual rites the Roman Ritual, whether they be pastoral and rubrical or whether they have special social import, shall not be omitted.
First, notice that there is only a mention of a new edition of the Roman Ritual. It's not that there is going to be a whole new thing created, merely a new edition of the old. Of course, that isn't what happened.
Second, the latter part flings open the door to all sorts of shenanigans. We've already discussed the problems with Art. 2, 22, but the remainder seems to give a blank check for novelty at first glance. That's not the case either. Any adaptation, whether linguistic or cultural must be approved by Rome. Even if it gets approved by some whackjob cardinal, the other restrictions on all other rites of the Church are still maintained. In other words, if you're only supposed to be using water for baptism, it doesn't matter if you're in a society that likes beer a lot. You can't baptize with beer.
The catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps, is to be restored and to be taken into use at the discretion of the local ordinary. By this, means the time of the catechumenate, which is intended as a period of suitable instruction, may be sanctified by sacred rites to be celebrated at successive intervals of time.
I have no idea what this means. The Rite of Election perhaps? I'm not aware of there being any other "successive intervals" here or anywhere else. Somebody out there know?
In mission lands it is found that some of the peoples already make use of initiation rites. Elements from these, when capable of being adapted to Christian ritual, may be admitted along with those already found in Christian tradition, according to the norm laid down in Art. 37-40, of this Constitution.
We've talked before about the value of pulling from the local culture for liturgical practice. It's not that it's bad. It's just something that has to be monitored closely, lest the local element overpower the Catholic part of what is going on. Like Skillet vs. chant. Anyways, the other side of this is the cases where our existing Catholic heritage should be enough. We've seen how the TLM can be welcome, even in diverse places like Africa. Why the urge to jump immediately to novel developments, rather than first seeing if what we already have will work?
I must add that, like with so many other provisions of Sacrosanctum Concilium, none of the assertions made in the foregoing sections carry a single footnote or other reference. There is nothing from Scripture, the Magisterium, the Fathers, or the Doctors of the Church that might be used to judge what the parameters are for the benefits of inculturation, the instruction period for catechumens, etc. to give anybody a better idea of what is supposed to be going on. As mentioned above, people tend to fill in these gaps with their own ideas. It's been with poor results for the Church. For what it's worth, even MacEoin admits that the sections here are ambiguous on purpose:
The Council decreed that the national and regional bishops' conferences should decide whether and to what extent the living language was to be used. The point was left deliberately vague in deference to some Fathers who were opposed to any change.
In other words, it was vague in order to deceive them. As we know from Cardinal Stickler's testimony, the issue of replacing Latin altogether was mentioned at the Council and met with derision. By making it sound conservative, it was easier to rope in the orthodox bishops' votes.
This is running a bit long, so I think I'll close out this entry there. We're probably about halfway done with the whole thing now. Maybe I'll do a better job of keeping up with it.