Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What’s the Story?

One of the great myths of postmodernism is its celebration of the death of the "meta-narrative", its paradoxical claim that the only universal truth is that there is no universal truth. But this is a lie, for never has humankind been so dominated by a single meta-narrative as it is today, when global capitalism threatens to eliminate every other narrative and every other meaning from human life. While the histories and traditions which have bound people together and conferred upon communities a sense of meaning and belonging are under siege from all directions, a relentless and inhumane system of global economics is sweeping away the last vestiges of human dignity and hope for those who are exiled, exploited and commodified by the wars, corruptions and burgeoning inequalities which our economic system brings in its wake. This is the context in which we must situate our reflections if we want to ask why so many people are attracted to rigid and dogmatic forms of religion.
— Tina Beatie, The end of postmodernism: the “new atheists” and democracy, openDemocracy, 20071220


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Spe Salvi

Click on the applet to start/stop it.

Spe Salvi

See also Credo.

Noticed by:

Melissa, A Third Way, for Catholic Carnival 150

C.E.H. Wiedel, Kicking Over My Traces

Sarah, Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Extraordinary Time

Many people who talk about religion and irreligion aren't sufficiently aware of how extraordinary our time is:

[By 1920] five hundred years of creation and logical evolution were everywhere coming to an end; an era of civilization was reaching its close — political, social, and cultural. New paths must be cut in the unknown or else — stagnation. Desperate chromaticism, the 5-tone scle, polytonality, atonality, the 12-tone row and its variants were at once symptoms of decadence and groping efforts to find a new organizing principle for sound, just as the technical innovations of Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, Simultaneity in poetry (the choric poem), and Joycean discombobulations of language were the groping efforts of other artists to leave behind them the barren ground to which a half millennium of high art since the Renaissance had brought them. The surrounding fads, marked by self-conscious humor and bright charlatanism, were the normal devices by which which a culture destroys itself and ensures its leveling down to nothingness.
— Jacques Barzun (1971, reprinted 1982)

Continue to feel and think.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


A New Confucian sect whose adherents, informally known as Typos, use ASUS Eee PCs to write to Usenet newsgroups. Confusionism was founded by Dead de Bury. I am a member, though not devout.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Modest View of Superiority

We derive little or no benefit from any particular religion unless we experience it as an absolute or at least as holding the promise of being an absolute, so any attempt to reconcile the teachings of the different religions, to iron out their differences is destructive of religion.
— Peter Brooke, On Difference in Religion

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Two Quotations

The man who, knowing the right, fails to do it, loses the power to know what is right; and the man who, having the power to do right, is unwilling, loses the power to do what he wills.
— St. Augustine, De Libero Arbitrio

Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.
— Lord Acton

Quoted in Caryl Johnston, In the Catacombs, November 16, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not in the Diocese of Albany — Not Yet!

In 1985, when Amerio published his masterpiece entitled “Iota unum. Studio delle variazioni della Chiesa cattolica nel secolo XX [Iota Unum: A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century],” the newspaper of the Holy See scrapped the review of the book commissioned by the prefect of the Ambrosian Library at the time, Fr. Angelo Paredi. The review was judged as too favorable, and “L'Osservatore” chose to be silent about the book from then on. So even the Vatican authorities joined in the intolerant silence that everyone was heaping upon the book and its author.

Now “L'Osservatore Romano” has reversed course. It has decided, not to remain silent about Amerio, but to speak. And to speak well of him.

— Sandro Magister, A Great Reunion: Romano Amerio and the Changes in the Catholic Church

Thursday, November 15, 2007

On Taxes

Mr. Spitzer’s budget director, Paul Francis, [said:] “I don't regard it as a tax increase. It’s only a tax increase to the person who is paying it.”
Spitzer Abandons Amazon Tax, New York Sun, November 15, 2007.

I hope that Mr. Francis was misquoted.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hitchens’ Challenges

Here is my challenge. . . . name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever. And here is my second challenge. . . . think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith. The second question is easy to answer, is it not? The first — I have been asking it for some time — awaits a convincing reply. By what right, then, do the faithful assume this irritating mantle of righteousness? They have as much to apologize for as to explain.
— Christopher Hitchens, An Atheist Responds, Washington Post, July 14, 2007.

There are statements that believers make and actions that believers perform that are not uttered or done by unbelievers. Given the easiness of the second challenge, Hitchens may find an answer to the first.

In the most important matters persuasion is an offense.
— Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Letter to My Daughter

Dear O—,

You do not know it now, but someday — perhaps sooner, perhaps later — you will learn that the world is presently going through a crucial time and that the most important roles will be played by Catholics. A man who is a columnist for the Asia Times wrote this week: “Pope Benedict XVI is the most indispensable man of our times, and the Catholic Church, the founding institution of the West, its still-indispensable institution.” This is because the great conflict of the future will be between the West and Islam, and the West without the Church will not stand up to Islam. I am not talking about the war in Iraq, which is certainly being fought by the West without the Church.

So it is our gift to you, and the gift of your Wong and Murphy grandparents, that you are a Catholic — not that you will be happy being a Catholic, but that you may be given a chance, whether you like it or not, to play a role in or at least to partly understand the great events that will occur in your lifetime and probably beyond the lifetimes of your parents. You may find that, whatever your other talents, your being a Catholic will be a gift to the world and to God.

You do not understand this now, because no one you meet understands it or even talks about it and because no one alive understands all of it; and this is perhaps best, because your job as you prepare for Confirmation is to feed your faith and not to act in the wider world.

By “feeding your faith” I mean growing in the love of God, with the help of my love and the love of your Mom. You are God’s gift to us, God’s continuing gift, and I intend to show you how grateful I am for that gift.




The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Knowing this, I shall try to be more charitable.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Win the War on Terror! Become a Priest!

Spengler, The Inside Story of the Western Mind.


[Pope Benedict XVI is] the most indispensable man of our times, and the Catholic Church, the founding institution of the West, its still-indispensable institution.


Monday, October 29, 2007

From Cardinal Biffi’s Memoirs

The most tiring days for the cardinals are the ones immediately before a conclave. The Sacred College gathers each day from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., in an assembly where each of those present is free to speak his mind.

But one intuits that public attention cannot be given to the question closest to the hearts of the electors of the future bishop of Rome: whom should we choose?

And so the result is that every cardinal is tempted to cite, more than anything else, his own problems and difficulties: or better, the problems and difficulties of his local church, his country, his continent, the whole world. And without a doubt, there is great value in this general, spontaneous, unvarnished presentation of information and assessments. But also without a doubt, the picture that emerges is not designed to give encouragement.

My state of mind and the dominant tone of may reflection emerges from the statement that, after great perplexity, I decided to make on Friday, April 15, 2005. Here is the text:

1. After hearing all of the statements — correct, opportune, impassioned — that have been made here, I would like to express to the future pope (who is listening to me now) my complete solidarity, concord, understanding, and even a bit of my fraternal compassion. But I would also like to suggest to him that he not be too worried about what he has heard here, and that he not be too frightened. The Lord Jesus will not ask him to resolve all the world’s problems. He will ask him to love him with extraordinary love: “Do you love me more than these?” (cf. John 21:15). A number of years ago, I came across a phrase in the “Mafalda” comic strip from Argentina that has often come back into my mind in these days: “I’ve got it,” said that feisty and perceptive little girl, “the world is full of problemologists, but short on solutionologists”.

2. I would like to tell the future pope to pay attention to all problems. But first and most of all, he should take into account the state of confusion, disorientation, and aimlessness that afflicts the people of God in these years, and above all the “little ones”.

3. A few days ago, I saw on television an elderly, devout religious sister who responded to the interviewer this way: “This pope, who has died, was great above all because he taught us that all religions are equal”. I don't know whether John Paul II would have been very pleased by this sort of elegy.

4. Finally, I would like to point out to the new pope the incredible phenomenon of Dominus Iesus: a document explicitly endorsed and publicly approved by John Paul II; a document for which I am pleased to express my vibrant gratitude to Cardinal Ratzinger. That Jesus is the only necessary Savior of all is a truth that for over twenty centuries — beginning with Peter's discourse after Pentecost — it was never felt necessity to restate. This truth is, so to speak, the minimum threshold of the faith; it is the primordial certitude, it is among believers the simple and most essential fact. In two thousand years this has never been brought into doubt, not even during the crisis of Arianism, and not even during the upheaval of the Protestant Reformation. The fact of needing to issue a reminder of this in our time tells us the extent of the gravity of the current situation. And yet this document, which recalls the most basic, most simple, most essential certitude, has been called into question. It has been contested at all levels: at all levels of pastoral action, of theological instruction, of the hierarchy.

5. A good Catholic told me about asking his pastor to let him make a presentation of Dominus Iesus to the parish community. The pastor (an otherwise excellent and well-intentioned priest) replied to him: “'Let it go. That's a document that divides.” What a discovery! Jesus himself said: “I have come to bring division” (Luke 12:51). But too many of Jesus’ words are today censured among Christians; or at least among the most vocal of them.

— Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Memorie e digressioni di un italiano cardinale [Memories and Digressions of an Italian Cardinal], quoted in Sandro Magister, “Before the Last Conclave: ‘What I Told the Future Pope’”.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Thursday, October 4, 2007


He that is not faithful to his wife, whom he seeth, how can he be faithful to God, whom he seeth not?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Child Left Behind

In theory, we put the interests of children before that of adults, but in practice we limit our outrage to tangible and visible abuse. Some 150,000 children each year cease to live with one or other of their parents as a result of divorce; and children of cohabiting couples are twice as likely to see their parents split up. They cannot articulate their suffering and are not willing to blame those they most love; indeed, because of the essential egocentricity of the child, they tend to blame themselves. Where is the lobby to protect their interests? Fathers4Justice campaigns for the rights of fathers to see their sons, but what organisation promotes the rights of sons to see their fathers?

— Piers Paul Read, Sex and Society: Anyone for Chastity, Spectator, 4 March 2006.


An Irreligious Age

We are said to live in a secular age, as if secular could exist without religious. But we can no more have secular without religous then we can have atheism without theism. It would be better to call ours an irreligious age, and even better — if religion is true — a nonage.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Death of Cultures, Life in Jesus

We observe two great and related phenomena in the global South: the fastest rate of cultural extinction in history, as well as the fastest rate of Christian evangelization in history. I do not mean to minimize the tragedy of declining cultures, but it is only because of the terrible depth of that tragedy that hundreds of millions of souls turn in fear and trembling to a religion that represents itself as standing above all human cultures: the ekklesia of individuals called out from amongst the nations to the Kingdom of God.

Whence come the fear and trembling? Christians are the adoptive children of the Jewish patriarch Abraham, in the interpretation of St Paul proposed by Michael Wyschogrod. In an important sense, the new Christians of the global South relive the life of Abraham, who left behind clan and kindred at divine command in the world of 4,000 years ago, when clan and kindred were everything. Given a son in old age, Abraham was told to sacrifice that son, thereby destroying his links to the future.

— Spengler, National extinction and natural law


Friday, September 14, 2007

Sancta Missa

Sancta Missa, tutorial on the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum, by St. John Cantius Parish, Chicago.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Liturgical Imagination

See here.

Pro Multus

A church that believes that all are saved cannot be very concerned with the salvation of souls.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Summorum Pontificum is a reconciliation with the Church's liturgical past.
— Father Uwe Michael Lang, quoted in For God, For Country, and For Yale.


Friday, September 7, 2007


Baptism is not inoculation.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Liturgical Singing

Our goal can be formulated in a paraphrase of the famous dictum of St. Pius X: Do not merely sing during Mass, but rather sing the Mass.
— Lázló Dobszay, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform, Front Royal VA, 2003, 120.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Divo Barsotti

If there were no hell, I could not accept paradise.
— Divo Barsotti, quoted in Sandro Magister, Divo Barsotti, a Prophet for Today’s Church

I see the Church's progress beginning from here, from the return of holy Truth as the basis of every action. The peace promised by Christ, freedom, love are the goals that every man must attain, but he may reach them only after constructing the foundation of truth and the pillars of faith.
— Divo Barsotti, ibid.


Luis Buñuel

He still has a blind man’s reflexes and is not yet accustomed to his new situation. Besides, he doesn’t know what a ditch or a hole looks like.
— Luis Buñuel, quoted in Spenger, The biblical world of Luis Buñuel

Bergman is the only major director whose actual work is inferior to the lampoons of it (for example, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life).
— Spengler, ibid.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quotation and not dramatic depiction

There is an interpretation of the Eurcharistic Prayer that would draw us away from the context in which the liturgy is performed before God the Father: we may be inclined to think that the consecration is rather like a drama, a play performed before the congregation. We may even tend to think that the congregation is involved in the play, as depicting the disciples at the Last Supper: the priest takes the role of Christ and the congregation the role of the apostles. To this way of thinking, the words and gestures of the priest are seen as dramatic depictions of what Christ did and said at the Last Supper.

Such a dramatic interpretation of the Mass would not be appropriate. It is more fitting to think of the words and gestures of the priest as quotational, not dramatic. The priest quotes the words and gestures of Christ; he does not perform then in the manner of an actor. There are several reasons why quotation is a more fitting presentational form for the consecration than drama.

First, to see the consecration as a drama would shift the focus of the liturgy from its relation to God the Father to an axis between the priest and the people. The liturgy would cut away from its presence before God, which had been established in the Preface and Sanctus, and it would be centered on the dramatic impact on of the priest acting before the congregation as audience or participants. Second, such an interpretation would highlight the Mass as representing the Last Supper, but would diminish its reenactment of the redemptive death of Christ. The Mass would be seen as a sacred meal and not a sacrifice. Third, this interpretation would place the liturgical emphasis on the person of the priest as the performer; drama highlights the present actor, whereas quotation takes us away from our present context and lets someone else speak through us. If Lawrence Olivier is depicting Hamlet, we think of Olivier, not primarily Hamlet, as taking center stage; but if we quote what someone says we subordinate our voice and especially the content of our speech to that other person. We let someone else speak through us and we subject our responsibility to his. Christ is more palpably the speaker when we take his words as being quoted than if were to take the priest as dramatically representing him. Christ, the one who is quoted, speaks with the authority of the incarnate Son of God, as one who has the power to bring about what he declares in his words. Fourth, in the old rite the possibility did not arise that the priest was dramatically depicting the Last Supper before the congregation; the focus was entirely toward God the Father.

The difference between quotation and dramatic depiction is also relevant to the prayerful attitude of the priest. If the priest sees his words and his gestures as quoting those of Christ, he can more appropriately see himself as the servant of both Christ and the Church, the person who is there to hand on to others the message and the achievement of Christ the Lord. If the priest were to see himself as a dramatic actor, his own person and style would come to the fore in an inappropriate and probably intrusive way. His would be the primary agency. Quotation affords a salutary anonymity to the priest in his sacramental ministry. It also relieves the priest of a burden that actors have, that of finding every new ways of making their performance interesting to their audience. The priest is not there to perform; he is there to accomplish the liturgy as it is written in the Roman Missal. He is there as the servant of Christ and the Church, a servant who becomes quotationally transparent in the words and gestures of the consecration. Christ is the ultimate minister of the Eucharist, and his activity is perceptibly manifest when his words and gestures are quoted at the center of the Church’s offering.

The Church’s quotation of the words and gestures of Christ is done primarily before God the Father. Christ’s speech comes to life in an address before the eternal Father, expressing the eucharistic action of the Son toward the Father. However, at the Last Supper the words of Christ were directed toward the disciples (Take this, all of you, and eat it: for this is my body, which will be given up for you). Certainly an overtone of such an address spoken by Christ, now directed toward the people, remains in the words of the consecration, but the primary focus of the celebrant toward God the Father is never interrupted. When the priest recites the words of the consecration, he will quite naturally tend to take them as being spoken to the faithful, but he should not let the theocentric focus of the Church’s prayer be lost.

— Msgr. Robert Sokolowski, Praying the Canon of the Mass, in his Christian Faith & Human Understanding: Studies on the Eucharist, Trinity, and the Human Person (Catholic University Press, 2006), pp. 89–91

I go to church to see God and come away like a theatre critic.
Martin Mosebach

See also Fr. Jay Scott Newman, Worshipping the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ecumenical Latin

Though the Holy Father does not mention this issue [in Summorum Pontificum], it seems clear that the self-separation into different language groups has in effect broken down community, not opened it up. If you have a parish in which the 9:00 a.m. Mass is in Spanish, the 10:30 a.m. in English, and the 12:30 p.m. in Lithuanian, you really have not one community but three using the same church. If it is quite clear today that one has to hunt for a Mass in one’s own language, it is a sign of division even though valid. Not even English is a common language of worship in this country. If we all used Latin with a tradition of seeing it related to our own language, we would in many ways have a more unified Church. Even today, a hymn like the Salve Regina, sung in Latin, is often one with which every one in all language groups is familiar.
— Fr. James V. Schall, S.J, On Saying the Tridentine Mass, Ignatius Insight, August 16, 2007

Schall on Sermon versus Homily:

The replacement of the sermon [by] the homily on scripture has yet to prove its superiority. The faithful are in dire need of systematic teaching on doctrine. The neglect of doctrine has left generations bereft of familiarity with orthodox teaching in the Church, this all in the name of Scripture. It is not that one cannot find doctrine in Scripture — that is its origin — but the discipline of clear teaching is not merely or fully satisfied by scriptural commentary or reading. Catholicism includes the direct addressing of reason.

Indeed, too often the homily turns out to be merely hominy.

Friday, August 17, 2007


The highly charged term pastoral is always used when liturgical changes are to be introduced. Pastoral means pertaining to a shepherd's care, but we have long become used to translating it differently: We, the clergy, decide how much of the splendor of truth the stupid and confused lay people can take.
— Martin Mosebach, excerpt from The Heresy of Formlessness, Ignatius Press, 2006

I haven’t yet read The Heresy of Formlessness. The following excerpts are taken from the blog Uncovering Orthodoxy.

On kneeling and receiving:

People of aesthetic sensibility, much scorned and suspect, are the recipients of a terrible gift: they can infallibly discern the inner truth of what they see, of some process, of an idea, on the basis of its external form. I had often spoken with pious apologists about the situation I have just described - it is observable all over the world. It was painful for the clergy to talk about these things, but they were not willing to admit that there had been a loss of spirituality. Kneeling was medieval, they said. The early Christians prayed standing. Standing signifies the resurrected Christ, they said; it is the most appropriate attitude for a Christian. The early Christians are also supposed to have received Communion in their hands. What is irreverent about the faithful making their hands into a throne for the Host? I grant that the people who tell me such things are absolutely serious about it all. But it becomes very clear that pastors of souls are incredibly remote from the world in these matters; academic arguments are completely useless in questions of liturgy. These scholars are always concerned only about the historical side of the substance of faith and of the forms of devotion. If, however, we think correctly and historically, we should realize that what is an expression of veneration in one period can be an expression of blasphemy in another. If people who have been kneeling for a thousand years suddenly get to their feet, they do not think, We’re doing this like the early Christians, who stood for the Consecration; they are not aware of returning to some particularly authentic form of worship. They simply get up, brush the dust from their trouser-legs and say to themselves: So it wasn’t such a serious business after all. Everything that takes place in celebrations of this kind imply the same thing: It wasn’t all that serious after all.

Contra Novum Ordinem:

Of course there will always be people who are so filled with grace that they can pray even when the means of prayer have been ripped from their hands. Many people, too, concerned about these issues, will ask, Isn’t it still possible to celebrate the new liturgy of Pope Paul VI worthily and reverently? Naturally it is possible, but the very fact that it is possible is the weightiest argument against the new liturgy. It has been said that monarchy’s death knell sounds once it becomes necessary for a monarch to be competent: this is because the monarch, in the old sense, is legitimated by his birth, not his talent. This observation is even truer in the case of the liturgy: liturgy’s death knell is sounded once it requires a holy and good priest to perform it. The faithful must never regard the liturgy as something the priest does by his own efforts. It is not something that happens by good fortune or as the result of a personal charism or merit. While the liturgy is going on, time is suspended: liturgical time is different from the time that elapses outside the church’s walls. It is Golgotha time, the time of the hapax [once], the unique and sole Sacrifice; it is a time that contains all times and none. How can a man be made to see that he is leaving the present time behind if the space he enters is totally dominated by the presence of one particular individual? How wise the old liturgy was when it prescribed that the congregation should not see the priest’s face — his distractedness or coldness or (even more importantly) his devotion and emotion.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

dona nobis pacem

. . . whether English can now be said to have a common language of prayer at all.
— Ian Robinson, Who Killed the Bible?, 2006

In the Mass, simple statements translated into the vernacular don’t sound like ordinary talk; nor should they. Since grant us peace is not everyday English, why not say the Latin? What do we understand by grant us peace that we cannot learn to understand better by dona nobis pacem? For we can pray dona nobis pacem as we cannot pray grant us peace. Our very knowledge of English will forever make grant us peace sound foreign — not like us — whereas our lack of vernacular Latin makes our praying dona nobis pacem, learned by heart, come from heart, mind, and will.

Written for Catholic Carnival 132: Back to School We Go, hosted this week by Sarah in Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering. Please also read Joseph P. Swain, Liturgical Latin — Reconsidered.

Dom Armand Veilleux

A photo of Dom Armand appears with this talk on Le service : attente active. Perhaps the site will be undergoing a makeover.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Dabo quod habeo.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Difficult Times

The periods following a council are almost always very difficult. After the great Council of Nicaea – which is, for us, truly the foundation of our faith, in fact we confess the faith as formulated at Nicaea – there was not the birth of a situation of reconciliation and unity, as hoped by Constantine, the promoter of the great Council, but a genuinely chaotic situation of a battle of all against all.

In his book on the Holy Spirit, saint Basil compares the Church’s situation after the Council of Nicaea to a nighttime naval battle, in which no one recognizes another, but everyone is pitted against everyone else. It really was a situation of total chaos: this is how saint Basil paints in vivid colors the drama of the period following the Council of Nicaea.

50 years later, for the first Council of Constantinople, the emperor invited saint Gregory Nazianzen to participate in the council, and saint Gregory responded: No, I will not come, because I understand these things, I know that all of the Councils give rise to nothing but confusion and fighting, so I will not come. And he didn’t go.

So it is not now, in retrospect, such a great surprise how difficult it was at first for all of us to digest the Council, this great message. To imbue this into the life of the Church, to receive it, such that it becomes the Church’s life, to assimilate it into the various realities of the Church is a form of suffering, and it is only in suffering that growth is realized. To grow is always to suffer as well, because it means leaving one condition and passing to another.

— Pope Benedict XVI, quote in Sandro Magister, All Against All: The Postconciliar Period Recounted by Ratzinger, Theologian and Pope


Friday, July 27, 2007

Renovation Movie

St Patrick's Cathedral, HarrisburgSt. Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg

The detailed interior restoration and renewal of the cathedral, which took place from June-December of 2006, included the repositioning of the tabernacle and the bishop’s chair to their original location, the restoration of the marble flooring, the addition of a mural of the four evangelists, the restoration of the canvases depicting the four Fathers of the Church, and the comprehensive cleaning, repainting and repairs of the murals, shrines, walls and ceilings. The stained-glass windows and the cathedral exterior, including the dome, were repaired and restored in 2004.

“This church now has a special splendor, such as it had when it first opened a century ago,” Cardinal Keeler said in his homily. “But even more, it has been updated, so that its splendor reflects the latest in technology. In short, it is a renewed cathedral.”

Faithful Rejoice in Cathedral’s Splendor During Centennial Mass

Renovation Movie

See also Renovated St. Pat’s Cathedral

Won’t make much difference

However, for the vast majority of Catholics it won’t make much of a difference.

How very much some people hope that papal actions aimed at making a difference don’t make a difference.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

True Churches

If communities born out of the Reformation . . . cannot be called Churches in the proper sense, consider this:

Never before in history have so many churches been built as during the years immediately following the Second World War. The majority of them were utilitarian structures not designed to be works of art, yet they often cost millions to build. From a technical standpoint, they are well equipped: they have good acoustics and superb air conditioning; they are well lit and can be easily heated. The altar can be seen from all directions.

Sitll, they are not houses of God in the true sense: they are not a sanctuary, they are not a temple of the Lord that we can visit to adore God and ask for His grace and assistance. They are meeting facilities, places nobody wants to visit at any time other than when services are bing conducted. They are designed like apartment silos or people’s garages, as we refer to the housing complexes in our modern suburbs — church buildings which in colloquial terms are soul silos or Pater noster garages.

In constrast, the pilgrimage church of Ronchamp has been used as a model for all those church buildings designed and built specifically as works of art. Yet, it did not turn out to be a church after all! At best it is a place to pray, to meditate. Yet the church of Ronchamp has become a model and meeting place for subjectivist architects. This development in the design of church buildings could only result because of a growing conviction that there are no such things as sacred spaces that are (or should be) different from the profane world.

— Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, English translation, 1993, p. 122–123.

Earlier in this book Msgr. Gamber wrote:

Great is the confusion! Who can still clearly in this darkness? Where in our Church are the leaders who can show us the right path? Where in are the bishops courageous enough to cut out the cancerous growth of modernist theology that has implanted itself and is festering within the celebration of even the most sacred mysteries, before the cancer spreads and causes even greater damage?

What we need today is an new Athanasius, a new Basil, bishops like those who in the fourth century courageously fought against Arianism when almost the whole of Christendom had succumbed to the heresy. We need saints today who can unite those whose faith has remained firm so that we might fight error and rouse the weak and vacillating from their apathy.

We cannot and must not leave the fight for the preservation and re-establishment of the traditional liturgy of the Mass to a small group of fanatics who reject outright even those liturgical reforms demanded by the last Council, reforms which are justified, such as the use of the local vernacular in some situations.

We can only pray and hope that the Roman Church will return to Tradition and allow once more the celebration of that liturgy of the Mass which is well over 1,000 years old. Why should it not be possible to have two rites, the traditional and the new rite, coexisting peacefully, just as in the East where there are many different rites and liturgies, or even in the West where there still exist particular rites, such as the rite of Milan? And in any case, if the new rite is to be continued, it must be improved.

We are living in a time when there is little faith left. The call grows louder and louder to save what we can. As strange as this may sound, the truly modern forces in our Church today are not the so-called Progressives, who want to abandon customs developed over time and replace them with experiments of uncertain value, but rather the conservatives who recognize the value of Church tradition and are sensitive to pastoral needs.

In the final analysis, this means that in the future the traditional rite of the Mass must be retained in the Roman Catholic Church, and not only as a means to accommodate older priests and lay people, but as the primary liturgical form for the celebration of Mass. It must become once more the norm of our faith and the symbol of Catholic unity throughout the world, a rock of stability in a period of upheaval and never-ending change.

— Ibid., pp. 113–114.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Versus Populum

We now turn to examine the sociological aspect of the celebration versus populum. The professor of sociology W. Siebel, in his work, Liturgie als Angebot (Liturgy on Offer), express his belief that the priest facing the people represents the best and primary symbol of the new spirit in liturgy. He continues:

. . . the practice (of the priest facing the other way) that had been in use before gave the impression that the priest was the leader and representative of the faithful acting as a spokesperson for the faithful, like Moses on Mount Sinai. The faithful assumed the role of sending a message (prayer, adoration, sacrifice); the priest functioned as the leader delivering the message; God as the recipient of the message.

In his new role, continues Siebel, the priest

hardly continues to function as the representative of the faithful, but as an actor who plays God’s role, at least during the central part of the Mass, similar to what is played out in Oberammergau and other religious plays.

Siebel draws this conclusion:

This new turn of events having changed the priest into an actor expected to play the role of Christ on stage, in the re-enactment of the Last Supper, makes the persons of Christ and priest merge in a way that heretofore had been impermissable.

Siebel explains the readiness with which almost all priests accepted the versus populum celebration:

The considerable level of insecurity and loneliness experienced by the priest naturally brings about a search for new emotional support structures. A part of this emotional support is the support provided by the faithful. Yet, this support also leads to a new form of dependency: the dependency of the actor on his audience.

In his article, Pubertätserscheinungen in der Katholischen Kirche (Signs of Puberty in the Catholic Church), K. G. Rey observes in a similar way,

While in the past, the priest functioned as the anonymous go-between, the first among the faithful, facing God and not the people, representative of all and together with them offering the Sacrifice, while reciting prayers that have been prescribed for him — today he is a distinct person, with personal characteristics, his personal life-style, his face turned towards the people. For many priests this change is a temptation they cannot handle, the prostitution of their person. Some priests are quite adept — some less so — at taking personal advantage of a situation. Their gestures, their facial expressions, their movements, their overall behavior, all serve to subjectively attract attention to their person. Some draw attention to themselves by making repetitive observations, issuing instructions, and lately, by delivering personalized addresses of welcome and farewell. . . . To them, the level of success in their performance is a measure of their personal power and thus the indicator of their feeling of personal security and self-assurance.

The view advanced by Klauser, cited above, that the celebration versus populum serves to more clearly express the eucharistic community around the table, is addressed by Siebel in his work, Liturgy on Offer:

The intended pulling closer together of the people around the table of the Lord’s Supper hardly contributes to a strengthenng of the sense of community. It is only the priest who is actually at the table, and standing at the table, at that. The other partakers in the supper are sitting, closer or farther removed, in the auditorium.

To this, Siebel adds another observation:

Usually, the altar table is situated at a distance and it is elevated, which means that the sense of togetherness that existed in the room where the Last Supper took place simply cannot be re-created. Facing the people, it is difficult for the priest not to give the impression that he is trying very hard to sell us something. To correct this impression, attempts are made to move the altar into the midst of the faithful. In that way, the individual does not have to look just at the priest, he can now also look at the person next to him or at the person sitting across from him. Moving the altar into the midst of the faithful, however, also means that the space between a sacral center and the faithful is being lost. The holy fear that used to seize us when entering the church where God was really present, is replaced by weak sentiment, a response to something that is little more than ordinary.

— Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background, English translation, 1993, pp. 85–88.

Gamber’s solution is:

Since there is no basis for it in liturgical history, nor in theology, nor sociologically, the celebration of the Mass versus populum should ge gradually phased out.
— Ibid., p. 92.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

A True Vatican II Parish

Photo of the interior of St. John Cantius, ChicagoMany . . . visitors stand in awe at the 203-foot long edifice. With seating for 2,000 visitors, the church is larger than Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. But in contrast to the nearly stripped-bare cathedral, one’s attention at St. John’s is immediately focused on the sanctuary, adorned for a King. And the King in His tabernacle reigns from the center of the high altar.
— John Burger, A Rennaissance in Chicago

At St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago, Illinois, the Mass is celebrated both in the old form and in the new form in Latin and English. The Reverand. Dennis Kolinski, S.J.C., is an associate pastor at St. John Cantius.

Excerpts from One Rite, Two Forms: The Liturgical Life of St. John Cantius :Sacred Music Interviews Fr. Dennis Kolinski, S.J.C., Sacred Music, Fall 2007:

SM: Many people who attend the old Mass and the new observe few connections between them.

Kolinski: And this is where the music really does make the difference. This is the key aesthetic bridge between the two forms. In a larger sense, the bridge is the Church’s tradition, of which the music is part. If you want to see a true Vatican II parish, come to St. John Cantius, where the actual instruction from the Council is being carried out. Here we have always looked to the future that we are beginning to see coming to fruition today, a future in which chant is the music of the Catholic liturgy.

. . .

SM: How do parishioners respond to the liturgical differences between the forms?

Kolinski: In the early days, we had parishioners who would come only to the old form and others who would come to the new form. But not everyone is focused on the differences. I can recall one young man born long after the Council who showed up to the 11:00am Mass, which is the Latin normative Mass from the Missal of 1970. He was swept up in the beauty, and thought it was Heaven. Excitedly, he told one of the brothers after Mass: “I will never go to another Novus Ordo Mass!”

SM: Did the Brother tell him that he had just attended a Novus Ordo Mass?

Kolinski: He didn’t have the heart to tell him.

SM: So today, most people don’t focus on the differences.

Kolinski: There are a few, but most people choose their Mass based on the time of day that is convenient for them. It’s true that the 1970 Missal did not grow organically from what preceded it in a manner that it should have. And yet what’s really been interesting to us, and very heartening, is that most of the old traditionalists will now attend Mass in the new form. And that includes most of the parishioners who used to attend the St. Pius X chapel. Now, they come to the Novus Ordo and receive communion and just avail themselves to the sacraments in every way. They might still prefer the traditional Roman Rite, to which they have a right, but there is a lot of crossover.

SM: One of the main worries about liberalizing the old Mass was that doing so would be divisive. But that isn’t your experience.

Kolinski: Precisely, and those who level that criticism haven’t typically experienced what we do here. They just don’t know what they are talking about.

. . .

SM: Are all your Masses said ad orientem?

Kolinski: For five years now, that has been true. No one complained. In fact, people love it. In the same way, parishioners want to receive communion at the rail. If someone wants to stand, we permit it, but, for the most part, people prefer kneeling.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

St. Mary’s by the Sea

Scan thanks to Mary Tripoli. Click to enlarge.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Continuity — or Discontinuity?

. . . there has in fact been no more restrictive or proscriptive period in the history of the Roman rite than the years following the Second Vatican Council.
— Alcuin Reid, Letter to The Tablet, 10 March 2007

The adoption of a new calendar that altered the liturgical year and modified the relative importance of certain feasts and memorials, the removal of saints from sanctoral cycle that were deemed unhistorical, the revision of the celebration of funerals, the re-introduction of the adult catechumenate, all significantly changed the liturgy, no matter how much the Pope may argue for continuity between the old and new Roman Rites.
— Mark Francis, Beyond Language, The Tablet

. . . whether we have in fact done as we have been told in Church, in the last 40 years we have been told a good deal about what we must and must not do: that Rome required us to adopt the new rites and to forsake the old, that the bishops required us to transfer this feast or that to a Sunday, that the bishop insists that the tabernacle be moved to the side, that churches must be re-ordered, and so forth.
— Alcuin Reid, The Pope has created a liturgical ‘free market’, The Catholic Herald

From 1970, when the Missal of Paul VI was promulgated, to 1984 when the Congregation for Divine Worship issued an indult to allow a local bishop to permit celebrations of the old rite, the abrogation of the Tridentine Missal was taken for granted.
— Mark Francis, Beyond Language, The Tablet

LAGUÉRIE - A nova missa corresponde a teologia dos anos 1960. A missa antiga, a uma teologia que foi eterna na Igreja Católica. [Rorate Cæli translation: The new Mass corresponds to the theology of the 1960s. The ancient Mass, to a theology which has been eternal in the Catholic Church.]
Interview de L'abbé LAGUÉRIE au journal FOLHA DE S. PAULO par Marcelo (2007-07-15 09:19:35)

Who does not recall the arbitrary suppression of prayers and gestures, and the illegitimate introduction of new liturgical texts, actors, and places? . . . The initiative of Pope Benedict is . . . directed against the ideological and substantially revolutionary interpretation made of the [Second Vatican] Council by the Catholic theological and pastoral elites, which has slowly spread among the clergy and the parishes. . . . The temptation to consider the assembly as a sacrament, at the expense of the Trinitarian mystery of the faith at work in the liturgical action, is evident every Sunday.
— Pietro De Marco, The Medicine of Pope Benedict, in in Sandro Magister, Liturgy and Ecumenism: How to Apply Vatican Council II, www.chiesa, July 17, 2007

The recent apostolic letter of Pope Benedict XVI on widening the use of the liturgical books of 1962 is prompted by his desire to reach out to those Catholics in schism because of their non-acceptance of the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
— Donald W. Trautman, Bishop of Erie, Statement from Bishop Trautman on Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter “Summorum Pontificum”

There should be an end to considering the second millennium of the Catholic Church’s life as an unfortunate parenthesis that the Vatican Council, or rather its spirit, removed at a single stroke.
— Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in Sandro Magister, Liturgy and Ecumenism: How to Apply Vatican Council II, www.chiesa, July 17, 2007


Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Active Participation of Altar Servers

For my boys, wow, what a privilege to serve the Mass, because there’s so much priest-server interaction, whereas, today, the altar server doesn’t have too big of a role. You have to be on your toes, you have to know what's going on.
— Jane Dust, quoted in Michael Miller, Ancient Latin Mass given new freedom, P[eoria]J[ournal]Star, July 14, 2007


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mass of 1962

Audio recording of Father David O’Hanlon as celebrant, and Kieron Wood as server. From The Latin Mass Society of Ireland, Text of the Mass - Audio Download, which has audio in sections for shorter downloads.

Click to start, then to follow along, read Ordinary of the Mass

Friday, July 13, 2007

February 2003

I am finishing this letter on the morning when, according to the press, the United Nations Security Council (weeping over the absence of the French) is supposed to take some action giving sanction to an early attack, almost exclusively by ourselves, on the present regime of Iraq. There is now not the slightest reason to doubt that this action will be undertaken at the earliest day, probably some three weeks off, when all the military preparations are complete. What this is doing has already acted like a burning match to dynamite for the American media, particularly television, which immerses itself delightedly in what it already perceives as a new war. I take an extremely dark view of this — see it, in fact, the beginning of the end of anything like a normal life for all the rest of us. Too pessimistic? No doubt, no doubt. I know that I am inclined that way, but that is the way I see things, and I cannot contrive to see them any differently. What is being done to our country today is surely something from which we will never be able to restore the sort of a country you and I have known.
— George F. Kennan, quoted in John Lukacs, George Kennan: A Study in Character, Yale, 2007, 187fn.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Latin Mass Not Only for Latinists

In terms of understanding the Latin, I think we need to be a little bit careful; the liturgy is not about understanding, it’s about entering into an act of worship, and to attend a solemn Latin liturgy, if you try and sit there and understand every word, I think you’d go quite mad. You need to enter into the ritual experience. It’s a form of entering into contemplation, it’s not a form of brushing up on your Latin grammar.
— Alcuin Reid, in The Religion Report, Wednesday 11 July 2007

Il serait en effet absurde de se voiler la face comme s’il n'y avait eu aucun problème liturgique depuis la réforme de 1970, comme si les fidèles attachés aux anciennes formes liturgiques n’étaient que de vieux retardataires incapables de s’adapter à une liturgie plus moderne. Si tel avait été le cas, il n’y aurait pas autant de jeunes attachés à cette liturgie ancienne réputée incompréhensible, mais qui, transmettant ce qui est avant tout un mystère, parle le langage de l'âme accessible même à ceux qui ignorent le latin.
— Dom Antoine Forgeot, Avec la messe en latin on peut apaiser l'Église, Le Figaro, July 13, 2007


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Back to the People!

Now it’s up to the laity to decide which church they really want — and why.
— Joan Chittister, OSB, Coming soon to a church near you

During at least one decade in my life “back to the people” had a positive meaning with many of us. Summorum Pontificum gives a liturgy that had been denied them back to the people. It gives a Mass celebrated to the letter rather than devised by liturgists back to the people. It gives their missals back to the people.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

FSSP on What Is Really Helpful

Not to be confused with SPPX:

A: The thing that has surprised me the most, or perhaps that has been the most revealing aspect, is that what people seem to really thirst for and need with the Traditional Mass is to have a full-time priest there and having a parish set up.

I was in Sacramento for years where we were able to purchase a church with a school, a hall and a rectory on the premises. Having all of this there, I did not realize how difficult it is in other places that do not enjoy it.

The indult given by Ecclesia Dei has been in existence for 19 years. I think there are many bishops who have tried to be generous with the indult situation of one Mass each Sunday in a location, or they maybe even have a variety of places within one diocese. But in the end, such a situation is not the thing that is really helpful and doesn’t give a good picture of the Catholic life to those who attend, which is what families desire and need, and certainly deserve to have—that parish life—that idea that you have a place where you feel at home.

What has been interesting is that we have been invited by all sorts of dioceses in the United States and other countries. It is clear that no matter what their character is, those bishops who have allowed and set up quasi-parishes or full-time chapels as apostolates have been grateful for it because these dioceses have seen what the response has been from the faithful.

Instead of going off in a corner of the diocese, these faithful, when they have all of their needs met, have embraced the bishop more, and become involved in the life of the Church much more, especially supporting things like pro-life, catechesis and other initiatives. These are the places where the work is really successful.

In those places where the bishop has allowed the Tridentine Mass on Sunday only, a kind of refugee-type mentality often sets in for the faithful of not really ever belonging anywhere. That is of course not good for the children who are involved, nor for those who end up attending it. And that kind of situation is not ultimately good for the diocese either, nor for the life of the diocese, because it never makes those Catholics feel at home, nor assists those Catholics to participate fully in the life of the diocese.

Interview of Fr. John Berg, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP)


Monday, July 9, 2007

Faithful to Vatican II

According to Fr. Vosko, pre-Vatican II-built churches were built to be faithful to a former theological thought and many need to be altered to embrace the changes brought about by Vatican II.
— Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Cathedral Enhancement Begins With Education, 11/22/1999

Now, I know: you’re saying, “but, what about . . .? and, what about . . .?” I know you can think of any number of things you think [Summorum Pontificum] undoes, that were “from Vatican II.”

Let me explain. Again, maybe read this very slowly: While what’s happening (from the pope, and from the Church in general in recent years) is not in any way contrary to the actual teaching and content of Vatican II, it is, in fact, calling into question what many, many people think — and were told — Vatican II was about.

So, welcome to a period in which a lot of us are going to discover we were misinformed about Vatican II. Either someone flatly told us wrong, or — to be fair — maybe we relied on bad information. Remember, while some may have acted with bad intention, many more acted with good intention, but made honest mistakes. Got carried away. Also, many priests, back then, had to explain a lot in a hurry, so maybe how they explained things, then, could have been better.

But the past is past; what is here, now, is that we are called to ask the question anew: just what did Vatican II say, teach, call for? What shall we do to be faithful to Vatican II?. . . 

To wrap up by getting back to something more tangible, here’s what I think “following Peter” seems to call for in all this:

  1. Stop being so certain about what you think Vatican II said, and with Pope Benedict and others, be taught anew. Meet the Council afresh. And if you don’t care that much, then please end the hypocrisy of waving Vatican II around like a club whenever it suits you. Either the Council matters...or it doesn’t. Which?

  2. Whether you like the old form of the Mass doesn’t matter. No one says you have to like it. But it is the Mass. If you really think that the form of the Mass, as we experienced it for something like 1500 years (consider, that’s ¾ths of the life of the Church!), is as bad as all that, how can you even justify such a position? Come on, think: that’s just a non-starter. The pope himself said, in this recent action, that the Mass of the ages must be re-understood in its glory and wonder, the need for reform notwithstanding. See? That’s a very different starting-point for how we think about Vatican II and the Mass, as opposed to the “throw it out and start new” mindset that many have.

  3. Point 2, above, does NOT mean you will be “forced” into anything, unless you consider creating options FOR OTHERS is somehow, coercion of you. That may sound silly, but I will say it again. There really are folks who seek a veto on what others want. I get the letters and phone calls, I know what I’m talking about. I don’t get many.

— Father Martin Fox, Bonfire of the Vanities , July 9, 2007


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Civilization seems to be the invention of a species now extinct.
Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913-1994), translated by Michael Gilleland

Diary Entry

If American policy from here on out, particularly policy involving the uses of our armed forces abroad, is to be controlled by popular emotional impulses, and especially ones provoked by the commericial television industry, then there is no place not only for myself, but for the responsibile deliberative organs of our government, in both executive and legislative branches.
— George F. Kennan, December 9, 1998, in George F. Kennan, At a Century’s Ending: Reflections 1982–1995



The 21st century has finally begun.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Motu Proprio

May 7-7-7 be more significant than 9/11.