Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Abp Luigi Negri: Western Civilization is at an end"

He puts the end of Western Civilization in the Museum of Mosul, where ISIS thugs destroyed timeless treasures, blowing up places of worship, and burning libraries.

I would have put it in the 2008 election of Barack Hussein Obama as President of the United States; but that's a detail. Western Civilization has been in decline since the Endarkenment, better known as the so-called "Enlightenment."

There were many milestones along the way, as there will doubtless be others. But we have for some time now been well into a new Dark Ages far more bleak that those following the "Fall of Rome" in AD 476. We just haven't quite realized it yet.

Traditional Mass increasingly re-accepted in mainstream

Practically every month I head about a new venue in which the Tridentine Mass is being offered locally; and when one expands the field nationally or internationally, the incidents are even more common.

Here's the most recent example: the Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris celebrating the ancient rite at Saint-Germain-L'Auxerrois, in the heart of Paris:

"The Traditional Mass re-enters the regular life of the Church" (Rorate Caeli, March 25, 2015):

Sunday, March 8, 2015
It seemed a regular unsurprising event for the Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris (and not the first time for him, either). In the historic parish church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, in the heart of Paris (right across the street from the cour carrée of the Louvre), where the traditional Mass is celebrated every Sunday, Cardinal Vingt-Trois celebrated the Traditional Mass (Mass in the Extraordinary Form) for the faithful in his visit to the parish. The Church in France will rise again - one day, it will rise again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I guess none of this matters anymore? Check it out. We had this running during a single class period today at the seminary, and the amount that the debt mounted in that hour-and-a-half was simply staggering. I was under the illusion that the national debt was still around $14 million. I guess that must have been last week. But it's all just electronic digits, so it doesn't really matter, right? Right? Right? Of course the stock market is up so we're in the middle of a reasonable "recovery," right? Right? Right? Oh, that's all electronic digits too? Well what does that mean, then? He who dies with the most debt on his credit card "wins"? What a noble example our government sets for our children!

One seminarian told me that he checks this every morning the first thing after he wakes up, though I'm not at all sure as to his sincerity. Wouldn't this give you an ulcer after watching it too long? Or should one regard it as something more like a video game. Would any of you like it as a screen saver? Or perhaps a background on your desktop? Do you sleep better each night knowing that our dear leader has the best golf handicap of any of our presidents so far? The US Debt Clock has made me a bit dizzy. Think I probably should turn in for the night. Cheers. Have a restful evening.

Here's a video from last year, back when the debt was about $1 trillion less. Enjoy:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fr. Z: "Doctors of the law" a straw man of Pope Francis?

Well, it does seem the Holy Father has his favorite hobby horses, caricatures, and a few straw man constructs he likes to pummel with insults as well, such as the well-known "Promethean Neo-Pelagians."

But HERE it looks like Fr. Z is suggesting that the Pope is using "doctors of the law" to refer to those who are legalistically preventing the gay or divorced and remarried from receiving the sacraments.

One might think on first blush that this refers to some wacked out raddie traddie foam-at-the-mouth traditionalists. Not so. At the very least, it's a straw man. At worst, it's a charge that finds traction only in the established teaching of earlier popes, like Pope Benedict XVI in his Post-Synodal Exortation Sacramentum caritatis, where he is very clear about guidelines for licit and valid reception of the Sacraments. Have a look for yourself. Interesting.

Fr. Z bends over backwards to be a loyal and obedient son of the Church here, which is to say, diplomatic. Good for him. Read a Fr. Z's well-rounded discussion HERE.

The past is a foreign country

The Rolls Royce Cloud pulled up (of all the ironic incongruities!) in front of my modest condominium. Out stepped a gentleman in a tux WITH TAILS! I watched him out the window as he placed on a silver tray, with white-gloved hands, a cognac glass, popped open a bottle of Camus, and deftly poured some into the glass, then added a rose in a vase, and placed beside it a folded parchment with a red wax seal upon it. Then he rang my doorbell.

First time I ever had Camus Cognac ... along with something else I missed while looking out the window: a neatly-wrapped pack of four Louixs cigs. Amazing.

You guessed it. This guy's got taste. No, not the gentleman courier. I mean the gentleman who sent the courier: the clandestine underground correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep it's secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, who more than makes up for the modest stipend I send him in all these elegant accessories he sends along with his telegrams and sundry other missives. It's like being a seminary professor and hiring a guy with James Bond's tastes (or James Bond himself!) to do a little sleuthing for you. You pay him pennies on the dollar in terms of the good time he shows you. It makes Lent a nearly impossible challenge some days.

Here's what he wrote me: Noir, not Bond (though they could be the same person for all we know):
Interesting meditation here. This part hit me because it is a boilerplate line of recent papacies: "And there is no going back."

Peter Kreeft has a counterpoint line to the effect that, "People say you can't turn back the clock, but why not? Isn't that exactly what you do if it is telling the wrong time?"

Like in discussion of many other items, a lot of informed people would say the old product was simply plain better. They don't make them like they used to. Etc. An odd attitude to have to take to a Church's most prized communal possession.

Oh, and enjoy the cigs. I picked them up in Havana, of all places, last week. [emphasis mine - PP]

The "meditation" Noir was referring to was this piece, by James Casper, "The Past is a Foreign Country" (Ignatius Press, March 19, 2015). Wistful and profoundly true, I was glad to have the Camus Cognac in hand as I read the piece, which awakened some deep sentiments in my own soul:
Much we know about the world would be lost were it not for artistic renderings of the past. Memories otherwise would seldom outlive those who remember.

Eamon Duffy’s The Stripping of the Altars forced professional historians and casual readers alike to revise assessments of the Catholic religion in England in the years immediately preceding the Reformation:
If medieval religion was decadent, unpopular, or exhausted, the success of the Reformation hardly requires explanation. If, on the contrary, it was vigorous, adaptable, widely understood, and popular, then we have much yet to discover about the processes and the pace of reform.
In the almost six hundred pages following this observation, Duffy develops support for this thesis: that the Reformation in England was more of a revolution against a popular, widely-revered institution than an effort to reform something rife with problems and corruption. He can only build his case by reference to contemporary written accounts and a study of Church artistic works that somehow managed to survive state-sponsored efforts to obliterate the past.

Interview: Cardinal Burke says confusion spreading among Catholics ‘in an alarming way’

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent, "Exclusive interview: Cardinal Burke says confusion spreading among Catholics ‘in an alarming way’ (full text)" (LifeSiteNews, March 24, 2015). Substantial.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Children's Crusade and the Age of Mercy"

Boniface, "Children's Crusade and the Age of Mercy" (Unam Sanctam Catholicam, March 21, 2015).

Another interesting response to Pope Francis announcement of a Jubilee Year of Mercy beginning this December, and a related announcement of a "Children's Crusade" of prayer for Pope Francis, that the mercy promised might be authentic and protect both the Eucharist and Sacramental Marriage from sacrilege (credited originally to James Larson).

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"End of the Reform of the Reform"?

For the record: "End of the Reform of the Reform" (Athanasius Contra Mundum, March 12, 2015). On the past and future of the divide represented in microcosm by the Matt family split over the direction taken, respectively, by the Wanderer and the Remnant newspapers.

[Hat tip to L.S.]

On "going forward" or "going back"

"Who Goes Back is Wrong?" (That the bones you have crushed may thrill, March 11, 2015). Excerpts:
“It was quite a courageous gesture of the Church to draw closer to the people of God so that they can understand well what she is doing. It is important for us to follow the Mass like this. One cannot go back. We have always to go forward, always forward. Who goes back is wrong. Let us go forward on this path.” - Pope Francis

"What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place." - Pope Benedict XVI

Jesus Christ does not simply call us to 'go forward', marching on blindly. He ceaselessly calls us back to Him. Repentance means turning around. We can go forward quite happily and unhappily leave Jesus Christ behind....

Numerous statistics have been made available over time, not least by the Latin Mass Society that show a certain trend that does not lend greater credibility to the post-Concilliar Church as a resounding success.

And why, exactly, should Catholics, Popes, Bishops and Cardinals, or priests, have an irrational fear of the past, of the tradition of the Church? Why such fear and loathing of our heritage?

... Why is it that the spectre of the traditional Latin Mass is one that haunts so many prelates and brings them out in a sweat? What, exactly, is so offensive about the Latin tongue in the liturgy? What is so terrifying about Mass being celebrated Ad Orientem? No reasons are given, just a kind of psychological 'we mustn't go there' response that any psychotherapist could tell you means you have deep-rooted problems with accepting your past, as if the Latin Mass was some kind of horrendous ecclesiastical inflicted trauma visited upon the Church's children by brutalising, callous parents.

hanks to Benedict XVI, more and more young people, as well as older people, are able to enjoy the liturgical riches of the Traditional Latin Mass. This mission to restore the sacred to the liturgy is being taken up by more and more priests and Bishops as well. This is not a threat to the Church - this is about giving God the glory that is His right and permitting, out of love, the Faithful to seek the Lord in the Mass offered by the Church for 1,500 years or more. This has seen a renewal of the desire for holiness, a thirst for a relationship with Jesus Christ, an increase in vocations in those Orders that embrace it and a real sense of love for the Church as well as fidelity to Her infallible teachings.

"Who goes back is wrong", says His Holiness.

Going back isn't wrong if you are going in the wrong direction. I am only a layman but it seems obvious to me that the Hierarchy must be mature enough to admit that there are paths the Church has taken which have not led to an improvement in catechesis, that have not led to the fulfillment of those ambitious spiritual goals set out by the Second Vatican Council. These words of Pope Francis will have a chilling effect in parts of the Church. It sends out quite a signal to bishops who wish to clamp down upon clergy who celebrate the Mass of Ages. It is, finally, saddening to look at Pope Francis's words and to see that the 'wisdom' of Benedict XVI which he himself has praised openly does not extend to the wisdom the Pope Emeritus showed in bringing forth treasures both old and new in the Church's liturgy. There is an oblique criticism of the Pope Emeritus within the words of his Successor that rip to shreds the hermeneutic of continuity that he sought to restore. More and more Catholics today look at the Church and say, about many things, Benedict XVI was right.
[Hat tip to JM]

Papally-induced exhaustion

First there was one of my colleague's quips about "PIA (Papally Induced Anxiety) Syndrome." Now there is little question that we are seeing pathologies in some quarters akin to something more nearly fatal: "PIE," or Papally Induced Exhaustion. Here's a sample:

"Jubilee of Mercy: An Idea or Two" (That the bones you have crushed may thrill, March 14, 2015). Excerpts:
A Jubilee of Mercy sounds wonderful. In previous pontificates I would be very happy about it. But this is no ordinary time.

Was this Cardinal Baldisseri's idea? Cardinal Kasper's clever idea? After all, he's the expert on mercy, isn't he?

I can only speak for myself. I have had two years of this strange 'mercy nullifies God's law, so there' weirdness streaming from the Vatican. That's two years in which my cynicism has matured.

Faithful Catholics don't - won't - say "hurrah" to what amounts to a blanket betrayal by the Hierarchy of Christ's own teaching by distributing communion to unrepentant adulterers and other unrepentant sinners in mortal sin. They won't say "huzzah" to treating the Holy Eucharist as if it were unchanged bread and wine, so now we are going to be made to feel really guilty to the point of pariah status for resisting the cunning plan made apparent by the manipulation at the Synod by the even more shrewd institution of a Jubilee Year of Mercy....

As I say, I've become quite cynical but I am sure that others feel the same. My good faith in this pontificate with its peculiar 'agenda' has been exhausted....

Still, a Year of Mercy. Let's go with that.... about lifting all those restrictions on the Franciscans of the Immaculate? ... In a Jubilee Year of Mercy, how about teaching the Faithful and others the Truth through proper catechesis so that we may be convicted of our sins and seek Divine mercy? How about granting the Sacraments to German Catholics of good faith and good will even if they haven't paid their Church Tax? How about a cessation of all insults and a hostile atmosphere of recrimination directed at faithful Cardinals, Bishops and priests whose only crime is to wish to hold fast to the Magisterium and promote traditional liturgy?
[Hat tip to JM]

Fr. Eduard Perrone on St. Joseph and spiritual virility

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, March 22, 2015):
In my brief sermon for the feast of Saint Joseph this past Thursday, I quoted a few words from an old hymn to the Saint that we learnt in our Catholic school. For the life of me I could not remember the title of it on the spot. I had to look it up after Mass. I found it in the old Saint Basil Hymnal, a collection of Catholic hymns published in the 1920s. As I mentioned in my little talk, the hymn’s not a specimen of high art, but it did manage to stick (at least partially) in memory all these years. I quoted the final words of the first stanza–inaccurately, as it turned out–“Sweet Spouse of our Lady, we lean safe on thee.” The text was composed by Father Faber, a writer of considerable talent, though this may not be the finest evidence of his talents. My quotation of this hymn text was meant to point to the towering figure of Saint Joseph as a pillar of strength. One ‘leans’ on someone who lends strength. Of the many ways we may profitably invoke Saint Joseph, his moral and spiritual strengths must not be overlooked.

The kind of power exemplified in Joseph is surely of a spiritual kind. Images of the Saint usually show him to be a man with a solid physical build. That’s appropriate enough since he was a carpenter, the head of the home and a caretaker for his beloved Bride and foster Son. His physical stature however corresponded to his many virtues. Scripture laconically speaks of him as “a just man,” that is, a man who kept the Law of God in its entirety. No accident that divine providence selected him to be the spouse of the holy Mother of Christ. The fullness of virtue which Joseph possessed made him well-suited as a husband for the Virgin Mother Mary and as the father-figure for the Son of God incarnate.

As I mentioned, again in my weekday sermonette, there is in the rectory a piece of sculpture that I have often admired (reproduced [temporarily] here). It’s a single block of marble out of which the artist (unknown) chiseled out the three figures of the Holy Family, with the infant Jesus in the arms of Mary, Joseph’s body bent over them in protective shelter. That’s how I think of Saint Joseph. Strong, manly, protective. The excellence of this art lies in its portrayal of Joseph as a human, guarding shield while, at the same time, indicating his loving gentleness in the way he cares for his family. That combination of virile tenderness and dutifulness makes Saint Joseph, to my mind, the ideal patron saint for every man. (Be not offended, dear ladies. His virtues are plentiful enough for you as well.)

The sore greatly smarting the Church (and the body of civil society as well) is receding masculinity, by which I don’t mean a lesser number of men in the world, nor the banishment of the muscleman or the playboy. These latter images abound and are more often caricatures of manly men than exemplars of them. It’s the responsible, dutiful, diligent and determined man of virtue that’s vanishing from families, society and from the Church. Whenever this happens we get a parody of manliness: violent aggression, destructiveness, cool detachment and unconcern for important matters: reactions due to the absence of true manly qualities. Readily available pornography is ruining the male psyche for its many users, disabling them from becoming good men. This ever-growing problem will probably mean more troubled marriages, more misery for families, fewer dedicated priests, and more troubled men and women in the time to come.

The hymn text which almost eluded my memory says, in part, “bleak sands are all round us.” The reference to the desert sands through which Saint Joseph led the Holy Family on their flight into Egypt was surely meant. The cultural desert sands of our time call out to Saint Joseph to be a patron for our fathers, our single men and our boys, to teach them how to become “just” in the eyes of God, virtuous men and boys. God gave the perfect exemplar of all the Christian virtues in this one great Saint. His time has come for this role particularly.

In honor of Blessed Joseph and in keeping with a long-standing parish tradition we will have the Italian (actually, it’s Sicilian) dinner in the gym after the noon Mass today. Meatless fare is the tradition. All are welcome to join in the festivities. There’s no specified cost, but donations help the parish.

Fr. Perrone

Tridentine Community News - EF Triduum venues, plummeting RC wedding & convert stats since 1965, new U.S. choir school plans, TLM Mass listings

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (March 22, 2015):
Tridentine Triduum Opportunities

The Traditional Latin Easter Triduum services are a profound liturgical experience. Each of the three days contains elaborate ceremony and ritual commemorating our Lord’s Passion. We are fortunate to be able to experience these services at multiple local sites. The below locations have announced Triduum services according to the Extraordinary Form.

Musically, the Triduum promises to be special: Wassim Sarweh will direct a full choir at the Academy of the Sacred Heart and Holy Name of Mary. Members of Windsor’s St. Benedict Tridentine Community professional choir will join in singing at the Academy.
Holy Thursday
Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel, Bloomfield Hills: 7:00 PM
Celebrant: Msgr. Ronald Browne
St. Josaphat Church, Detroit: 7:00 PM

Good Friday
- St. Josaphat: 12:00 Noon
- Academy of the Sacred Heart: 1:30 PM
Celebrant: Fr. Louis Madey
- Holy Name of Mary Church, Windsor: 5:30 PM
Celebrant: Fr. Peter Hrytsyk

Easter Vigil
- Academy of the Sacred Heart: 8:00 PM
Celebrant: Fr. Louis Madey
- St. Josaphat: 8:00 PM
LMS Charts Weddings and Receptions into the Church

Following up on our March 1 column, in which statistics were published showing a precipitous decline in vocations to the priesthood in the United States from 1965 onwards, on March 10 Dr. Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, published charts showing the number of receptions into the Catholic Faith in England over the past several decades, as well as the number of Catholic weddings. Once again, 1965 proved to be a watershed year, with numbers dramatically falling thereafter.

Granted, society experienced significant upheavals in the 1960s, but one cannot escape the fact that 1965 also happened to be the year the Catholic Church began to implement major changes to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that had far-reaching effects in the life of the Church. It is not unreasonable to attribute some cause and effect. If one accepts that line of logic, is the solution to press ahead with yet more changes, or to return to the apparently more successful pre-1965 practices? Faced with an analogous situation, the Coca Cola Company took swift action in the 1980s, with one key difference: The reintroduction of Classic Coke was not restricted to a few selected retailers; every store that carried their product line stocked both the new and old formulas. The market decided which product would succeed.

Dr. Shaw offers the following suggestions to bring the numbers back up: Make the Church “serious, demanding, and holy”, and return to the clarity of pre-Conciliar teachings. In other words, raise expectations, and more people may just come to the table.

Third U.S. Choir School Planned

For decades, the United States has only had two full-time Catholic choir schools: St. Paul’s Choir School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an all-boys program; and the Cathedral of the Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City, Utah, with both boys and girls. Plans have now been announced for a third, at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka, Kansas. The parish’s [part-time] 45-member boys-and-girls Schola Cantorum will be integrated with the 400-member parish school, with the result being a [full-time] choir school-within-a-school. Though the parish does not (yet) offer the Extraordinary Form, the repertoire of the Schola Cantorum is predominantly Latin, much as it is at St. Paul’s Choir School.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 03/23 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Passiontide)
  • Tue. 03/24 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary (Feria of Passiontide)
  • Fri. 03/27 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Passiontide) – First Tridentine Mass of Fr. Stephen Pullis. Reception for young adults age 18-35 follows Mass, organized by Juventútem Michigan
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for March 22, 2015. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Façade of "Mercy"

Cardinal Dolan to Michael Voris at the St. Patrick's Day parade: "Love to have ya!"

The problem behind what the eye sees may run deeper when one consider's Cardinal Dolan's Gay Problem.

In other news, there is an interesting discussion HERE of
  1. the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade (interview with C.J. Doyle of Catholic Action League);
  2. an interview with Paul McGregor of Holy Innocents Parish about the reason why Fr. Wylie was exiled to a very dangerous area of S. Africa, which involved not merely his defence of the TLM at Holy Innocents in NYC, but his whistle-blowing on financial malfeasance by Msgr. Francis Chullikatt of the Holy See's United Nations Permanent Observer Mission, in connection with the Path to Peace Foundation affiliated with the Holy See's United Nations Permanent Observer Mission; and
  3. the arbitrary hold put on the cause for the beatification of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen by the Archdiocese of New York (a.k.a. Cardinal Dolan): he doesn't want to release Sheen's body to be moved back to Peoria, IL -- why? because he wants the income from a prospective shrine to Sheen at St. Patrick's Cathedral to fill the archdiocese coffers with pilgrim's financial offerings? -- all speculations the Cardinal could immediately end by an announcement of his reasons for putting a hold on the beatification process.

Adam, Even, and Genesis - the implications of revisionism

It's always an interesting exercise to review the implications of revising the traditional account. We all know of Catholics we've met or heard about who dismiss the historicity of Adam and Eve, and who consign the first eleven chapters of Genesis to the murky primordial world of "myth."

The importance of thinking more deeply about the implications of such moves on the Biblical-theological chessboard, however, is not always readily seen. For example, an alternative to the traditional Catholic view that Adam and Eve were historically real, first parents of humanity (as Jesus Christ is the "New Adam" and new root of regenerated and redeemed humanity), is the view that they are only "symbols," whatever that is taken to mean. On that view, the Fall (Original Sin) is not to be taken as anything so naively parochial as a "historical event," but rather to be understood as a "fatal flaw" in our nature, empirically confirmed by the pervasive selfishness of human beings we see all about us and in ourselves. Problem with that: it makes God the author of sin, of our sinful nature, because it means there was never a human being with a pre-lapsarian (non-fallen) nature and so God made us selfish and sinfully-disposed. In this case, as Baudilaire famously quipped: if God exists, he's the Devil! (Something like that)

Well here we have an example of someone toying with revisionist interpretation of Genesis, only he's not nearly so radical as the aforementioned views, because he still believes that Adam was a "historical" person. Yet the implications of even his views are far more revolutionary that he suggests. Have a look: "The Lost World of Adam and Eve" (Christianity Today, March 19, 2015): "Old Testament scholar John Walton affirms a historical Adam -- but says there are far more important dimension to Genesis." Yeah. Right. Interviewed by Kevein P. Emmert, John Walton is Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, the flagship academic institution of Billy Grahm Evangelicalism in the United States.

Here is what one of our readers writes about this piece:
Let's be frank and let's be honest. If you are going to say "I believe Adam was a real person, but literarily he represents more than just who he was," shouldn't we ask, "How can someone literally be more than who he was?" Are we so determined to try to reconcile the Bible and 'science' that we will swallow such sophistry? And that [sophistry] is without question just what this is, well-intentioned or not. If Walton's take is accepted, it will not only be the world of Adam and Eve or Genesis that will be lost -- all the eager and impassioned endorsements to the contrary. I am increasingly convinced that Original Sin as classically understood is the acid test of orthodox Christianity. [Amen to that!]

From Christianity Today, of all places. Reported as if it is nothing unusual at all [emphasis added]. With no com box option! The ghost of Carl Henry would be spinning in its grave if it hadn't been here diced and quartered under a cone of silence. [Not to mention what Billy Graham would think of this, if he could attend to its import at age 97.]
For further reading:[Hat tip to JM]