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.