Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christ the King

This final Sunday of the Liturgical Year we celebrate the Kingship of Christ. The Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI during the Jubilee Year 1925. I decided to study his Encyclical Letter that established the Feast.
As Pope Pius points out in his Encyclical, whenever the Church establishes a new Feast, it is in order to kindle the fire of devotion of the Faithful. In the case of this Feast, the Pope looked around the world of his day, 1925, and saw a problem. In his words,
The majority of men [have] thrust Jesus Christ and His holy law out of their lives; that these have no place in either private affairs or in politics….as long as individuals and state refuse to submit to the rule of Our Savior, there will be no really hopeful prospect of lasting peace among nations.
The world of his day had just been through the First World War, which had a carnage which has perhaps not yet been surpassed. In Russia, the Bolsheviks – the Communists – had executed the Czar and his family and declared an atheistic state. Imagine – a country that was pretty much totally Orthodox Christian officially cast believe in God out of her borders nearly overnight.
The treaty of Versailles for the end of the war had crippled Germany and crushed the last Catholic Monarchy in the world. In bitterness, the rise of National Socialism – the Nazi Party came about in Germany. As early of 1920, Hitler was calling for the rejection of the peace treaty and the seizing of more lands for the German People. It was becoming clear that the peace of Versailles was not going to last.
Why did the peace of Versailles fail? Why did the peace after the Second World War not last? Because Christ and His Law have been thrust out! Pope Pius XI hopes that the establishment of this Feast will rekindle the love of Christ in the Christian People.
The earliest Crucifixes showed Christ in Priestly Vestments, wearing a crown. As Priest he offered his life on the altar of the Cross – our Preface will say in a few moments – and he redeemed the whole human race by this one perfect Sacrifice of Praise. Christ has purchased us by His Blood, enabling us to be part of His Kingdom which has no end.
We enter Christ’s Kingdom through Baptism. By our Penance, united with the Christ Crucified, we act as subjects of our King. Pope Pius reminds us that the Kingdom of Christ is opposed to none other than that of Satan. In other words, our loyalty to Christ does not interfere with out citizenship – on the contrary, it enhances it. This is because The Kingdom of Christ demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things and a spirit of gentleness. Citizens of Christ’s Kingdom must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, we must deny ourselves and carry the Cross.
If we are truly detached from riches and earthly things, we will support of brothers and sisters in need. We will hunger and thirst for justice. In denying ourselves and taking up the Cross, we become model citizens.
It is undue attachment to material and earthly things that leads to many wars. War can only be prevented when we work for justice. As individuals and nations come to embrace Christ as their king, they will desire true peace and justice. It is when Christ is King of all that true lasting peace can come about. Then can we enter that kingdom of justice love and peace.
It struck me as a read this Encyclical,that much of the things that Pope Pius describes in 1925 could just as well have been written this morning. He speaks of
The seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under the pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making people seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace at home because people neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined.
The Holy Father, Pope Pius XI sees in the Feast of Christ the King a remedy for all of this. He links the celebration of this Feast to Eucharistic Adoration and to consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As individuals and families begin to consecrate themselves to Jesus Christ there will be a revival of the Faith. When people spend more time in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, adoring Our Lord and King, healing of society will begin.
Pope Pius hopes that members of the Church will consecrate themselves and their families to the Sacred Heart. He hopes that they will allow Jesus Christ to reign as their King, in all areas of their lives. It is then that the Faithful can become a leaven to society. It is then that we, as the Body of Christ can truly begin to transform the world.
We cannot transform the world if Christ is our Lord and King only on Sunday. The reign of Christ is not something that we can place in one compartment of our lives. We have been purchased by His Blood, so he has dominion over us by right. He must reign in every part of us.
In our minds, Christ reigns when we believe all that He teaches through His Church. This is not always easy. The wisdom of God, St Paul says, is foolishness to men. The world thinks that the Church’s teaching is out-dated. The world has never liked Christ’s teaching because it counters the insatiable greed of the world.
Christ reigns in our wills when we give assent and obedience to the laws of God. This happens when we follow Christ’s moral teachings, as revealed by the Church. How sad it is that many ignore the Church’s teaching on contraception and abortion. They have, by their actions, said that a child – created in the Image and Likeness of God – is something to be avoided. Mother Teresa once said, “How can you say there are too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.” Society disagrees, and we are reaping the consequences all over the world.
Christ reigns in our hearts when we follow the two Great Commandments – You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole mind and with your whole soul; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Christ tells us that the whole of the Law and the Prophets are summed up in these two. If each and every one of us can learn – and it takes much practice – to love God above all else, and to love others out of love for God, the world will be a better place. Others will see that we have peace in our lives, and they will come to desire it.
Christ reigns in our bodies when we use them to help sanctify ourselves and the world around us. By doing acts of self-denial or penance, we begin to help our souls to become detached from worldly goods. The world, along with many other Christians, denies the essential connection of our bodies and our souls. As Catholics, we understand that we are composed of body and soul. When we discipline our bodies, we also strengthen our souls.
Christ desires to reign in every sphere of our lives. Not just in our relations among ourselves, but in how we go about our day at home and at work. He desires that we bring Him into the political sphere – in a democratic system like our own, we have the power to shape the country. This means that voting is not just a right of citizenship, but a sacred duty. How sad that a nation that enjoys a vast majority that call themselves Christians – that is followers of Christ – still has laws that do not defend the right to life from conception to natural death! Can you image what this nation would be like if all the Christian voters allowed Christ to be their King when it came time to vote? What if all the politicians who profess to be Christians allowed Him to be their King? If all Christians brought Christ into their every-day life, we would not have abortion, euthanasia, poverty or hunger. Instead, we would be caring for one-another.
If we all rededicate ourselves to Christ the King, allowing Him to reign in our minds, in our wills, in our hearts and in our bodies, we will improve the world around us. If we allow Christ to rule in our lives – in every part – we will fulfill our vocation of building up the Kingdom of Christ. Then we can have hope for a genuine and lasting peace.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Coat of Arms

My coat of arms has been created! Thanks to Guy Selvester for his fine work.

The coat of arms signifies devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The crescent specifically signifies the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. That Feast is the anniversary of my Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary (years later than I should have, mind you!). Our Lady is also the Patroness of the United States under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Finally, the crescent also appears in the coats of arms of both my family (in Ireland) and of my Alma Mater, the Catholic University of America.
The arms do resemble the familial arms. The bottom half is based upon them, with modifications (crescents were replaced with Shamrocks, recalling my heavenly Patron and the land whence my family came).
The stars are both Marian, as well as a reminder of the Diocese [and State!] of which I am a part.
The motto comes from the Book of Daniel, by way of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The longer prayer in the Mass is: In spiritu humilitatis et in animo contrito suscipiamur a te, Domine, et sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi, Domine Deus. -- May we be recieved by Thee, O Lord, in a spirit of humility and with contrite hearts: and may our sacrifice be such in Thy sight, that it may please Thee, Lord God.
It is incumbant upon all Christians, by virtue of their Baptism, but especially upon the ministerial Priests, to offer their entire selves to God as a living sacrifice. This is not flowery language. This is how we are to live, as giving the total gift of self, as John Paul II said.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What's in a word?

Today's collect for St Albert the Great suffered a slight mutation in the revisions of the Missal by Paul VI (i.e., Annibale Bugnini). I realized this as I prayed the collect at Mass in the E.F. this morning.

The current collect reads:
Deus, qui beatum Albertum episcopum in humana sapientia cum divina fide componenda magnum efficisti, da nobis, quaesumus, ita eius magisterii inhaerere doctrinis, ut per scientiarum progressus ad profundiorem tui cognitionem et amorem pervenimus. Per Dom...

God, who hast made blessed Albert great in the combining of human wisdom with divine faith, grant to us, we beseech thee, so to adhere to his magisterial teachings that through the progress of of knowledge we may come to a more deep knowledge of and love of thee.

The Collect of the Extraordinary Form reads:
Deus, qui beatum Albertum , pontificem tuum et doctorem, in humana sapientia divinae fidei subicienda magnum efficisti: da nobis, quaesumus; ita eius magisterii inhaerere vestigiis, ut luce perfecta fruamur in caelis. Per Dominum...

God who has made blessed Albert, thy Bishop and Doctor, great in the casting of human wisdom under divine faith: grant we beseech thee, so to adhere to his magisterial footsteps, that we may shine for the perfect light in the heavens.

What a difference there is in connotation! Did Saint Albert the Great merely combine human wisdom with divine revelation? He would surely say that human wisdom had to be subject to (cast under) divine revelation. Then, he wasn't a child of the enlightenment, was he.

St Albert the Great was a great Doctor, who taught St Thomas Aquinas. Both were of the Order of Preachers. May Saint Albert help us to cast our on wisdom under that which is revealed by God. May we once again become aware of the limits of man's knowledge and the infinity of God's knowledge and the depth of His self-revelation.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

So tell me....

I just don't get it. People complain to the pastor about the Prie Dieu for Communion. Why? How is it hurting them if people want to receive their Creator while kneeling instead of standing? Has anyone forced them to kneel? No! Yet they complain about the kneeler. If you don't want to use the kneeler, the answer is simple -- DON'T USE IT! There really is no charitable explanation for someone being bothered by the presence of a kneeler. It doesn't prevent anyone from coming to receive Communion while standing. It doesn't keep them from sticking their hand out as though asking for change -- while looking in a different direction for their point of egress.
What it comes down to is that only demons are offended by people receiving Communion while kneeling. I'm not saying that the persons who complain are demonic..just that they fall to temptation as we all do. Some rediculous reason is presented to them as to why they should be offended by the presence of the Prie Dieu.
So the demons win the battle. People are not able to receive Communion while kneeling (because they can't get back up if they do!). Their rights are being infringed by others who probably "just don't like it." They probably will argue that the Prie Dieu forms a barrior between them and the Priest. They don't mind the much wider altar between them and the Priest, mind you. These are the people that complain that candles on the altar block their view. They don't want an Altar Cross for the same reason. They are allergic to incense.
By the way, on that front, incense and Holy Water are known as apotropaic substances. This means that they drive evil spirits away. The same spirits that don't like incense are the ones that are offended if people receive Communion while kneeling, and gasp!, on the tongue.
The struggle now, for all of us who were hurt by this move, is not to let this ruin our celebration of the Feast of All Saints. All God's Holy Ones are rejoicing in Heaven with Him. They understand our travail and will support us.
Blessed be God in His angels and in His Saints!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Our hearty congratulations!

There is an old joke that goes,
You know how at an Episcopal Ordination, the three participating Bishops stand behind the ordinand? Do you know what they're doing? They're removing his spine.
Congratulations are in order for several Bishops who have managed, by the grace of God, either to avoid that part of the rite, or have managed to grow their spines back. One by one, or as is the case in Dallas/Fort Worth two, they have come out with statements about the need to vote like Catholics.
These Bishops are teaching clearly about how to form our consciences. At last they are responding to the argument that there are other issues, so we can't be single-issue voters. All of this is true, but some issues do take precedence over others. The Son of Man, when he comes, will not ask us how our vote helped the economy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I just don't get it. How can a man spend years in the seminary and then within months of leaving be involved in a relationship? Not just involved, but intimate. I truly see the diabolical here. When a man is preparing himself for the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, he becomes the target of Satan's wrath.
I have seen it time and again. Someone leaves the seminary and the next thing you know, he's taking trips with his girlfriend, and acting like a wild dog. One would think that the normal course of action is that you leave the seminary and spend the rest of your days as a much better Catholic than when you entered. Instead, it seems the powers of Hell are unleashed upon the man.
We can only pray for grace for the men in the seminary. We can only pray that they will not fall to the prowling lion, as St Peter describes him.
On the other hand, perhaps some just need to experience the Snipping Rite created by Fr P.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine!

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the great Pope Pius XII. Truly he was a holy man, who continues to inspire many by the life he lived, and the lives he saved.
He became an example of Christian virtue in so many ways. Let us not forget that he saved an estimated 860,000 Jews from extinction by the Nazis. He refused to have the papal apartments heated while the rest of the people in his diocese did without. He stood against the excesses of the liturgical movement, many of which later became par for the course. At the same time he laid down rules for modern scholarship of Sacred Scripture.
May God raise him to the Altars soon!

Friday, September 26, 2008

40 Days for Life

Today is day three. It is also the Feast of Ss Cosmas and Damian. I remembered this morning that in the EF, they are also commemorated on Thursday of the third week of Lent (just passed the halfway point). In fact, the collect used today in the OF is from Lent, not from Sept 27 (their Feast in the EF). Their heavenly intercession (as physicians) is requested to help us persevere in the fast. Remember, this election is crucial for the pro-life movement. It also occurs, as was read in the Gospel as we began this campaign (Ember Wednesday) -- this kind may only be cast out by prayer and fasting. Pray, pray, pray.
I truly don't think we have ever had a more important electoral cycle. We have a man running for president who thinks that botched abortions should be given a second chance -- at death. Didn't they used to let convicts go if, in the process of hanging them, the rope broke? Even convicted murders were let free, or at least not re-hanged, if their death sentence was unsuccessfully carried out. This man, however, thinks that innocent children, whose death sentence is unsuccessfully prosecuted should be left to die. In the words of the Church Lady "Could it be......Satan?" Abortion is truly diabolical. It must stop. This kind of evil can only be cast out by prayer and fasting. You know what you have to do.

Fiat Lux?

Well, I just watched the introductory video to Oakland's new Cathedral of Christ the Light, which is posted on Rocco's page. I don't know if I could actually stand it in person. Let the be light (Fiat lux)? Perhaps Fiant tenebrae would be better. I think I'd want to gouge my eyes out if I lived in Oakland! Where to start?
  • They point out that the cross was used as a form form many Cathedrals in the past. They then go on to say they are using an even more ancient symbol -- the fish (ichthys). True, this is more ancient, but to my knowledge, it has never been used as the shape of a building before.
  • People can come by and visit during the day -- even dine in the Cathedral Cafe. Are you kidding? Isn't bad enough that the Rogmahall has a Starbucks? It's supposed to be a cathedral for heaven's sake!
  • They tell you want the wood panels symbolize. Frankly, I don't see the symbolism even after being told. Art is supposed to communicate without words. If you have to tell me what it means, it ain't art!
  • In fairness, I must say the architecture would be quite nice for a modern art museum, airport or bus station. It shows that this is the architect's first church. I wish I could say that he still hadn't designed a church, but now it has been consecrated and Mass has been celebrated their. That sound you heard was the Baby Jesus sobbing. I wonder if they used EP II, just to make Him cry more.
  • I feel truly sorry for the next Bishop of Oakland, who will have to call this monstrosity his Cathedral. If you think Bishop Bruskewitz and his predecessor (who was forced to dedicate it) have had to suffer, take a look at Oakland. On the bright side, your Excellency, there are now two Cathedrals in the US that are FAR uglier than the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln. No offense, your Excellency, but I hope you don't move any further up the scale!
There you have it. Oh, the thing is supposed to be earthquake proof. Perhaps we could get the someone to say "God Himself couldn't sink her."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

He came not to call the just, but sinners

For the Feast of St Matthew, which is celebrated today in the EF in the Canonical Circumscription in which I find myself, we see the Call of St Matthew. Our Lord tells the pharisees that he came not to call the just, but sinners.
It occurs to me that this is not something that was written to point out how snotty the pharisees were, but rather to warn Christians that they should not get their own noses in the air. There are horror stories from the Protestant world of people gasping as a man answers the altar call while toting cigarettes in his pocket (a sure sign that he couldn't be saved). Then we experience the charming love of many of our own as they begin to judge others in the Church. Some who are the most liturgically pious can be the most pharisaical when it comes to others. Hmmm. Weren't the pharisees the traddies of their day? Anyway, I digress.
It is a warning again and again to us not to be like those pharisees. Our liturgical piety should be forming us to make Christ present in the world. If it does not, than, I'd dare say, it is empty piety. Remember "Misericordiam volo et non sacrificium."

Friday, September 19, 2008

I bet he prefers the Extraordinary Form

As I had the great pleasure of celebrating Mass according to the Extraordinary Form yesterday, it occurred to me that St Joseph of Cupertino was probably smiling. Here is a great and powerful saint, who worked many miracles this side of the veil. He was known for his ecstatic visions and for levitating. While he was not known for being the most brilliant of men in his life time, does this really matter? He knew the One who is most important to know!
I pray that his feast will one day be recognized in the universal Church, in the Ordinary Form. Then again, perhaps he will simply intercede for the growth of the Extraordinary Form instead! May he, and St Philomena, St Christopher, and all the Saints pray for the expansion of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass of the Roman Rite. As the EF grows, the OF will become better and better.
There is cross pollination occurring already. As Priests celebrate according to venerable custom, they begin to apply the hermeneutic of continuity to their celebration of the Ordinary Form. Can't celebrate the Mass oriented? Why not venerate the Altar on the Occidental side? Why not start the incensation there? Arrange the presider's chair to be where the sedillio always was. Then turn toward the people for the Dominus Vobiscum, and Oremus -- then face the altar, and bow toward the Cross at the per Dominum. Exercise your option to pray the post-communion prayer at the altar. Slowly the pendulum is swinging back -- but there is nothing saying we can't get behind it a bit!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dare we hope for the PLU-ness of all?

An interesting question has come up of recent date. Can someone who attends an undesirable seminary be PLU? How much does thorough indoctrination poison the man?
A resounding "yes" comes for the first question. There have been many men who have survived under dire situations, who have survived with their PLU-ness intact. They have had to do things that are downright humorous from the post-ordination perspective. We always joked that the men at one seminary in DC during my college days would be better off returning from an evening out smelling of Channel no. 5 than of incense. One can almost imagine the bottle of perfume in the glove box used to cover over the scent of Gloria PR#3!
Then there is my friend who attended Sacred Heart School of Technology (yes -- a confirmandus addressed it that way -- how apropos!). He survived with his faith intact, if not somewhat solidified as a defensive mechanism.
But what of those, who knowing that their seminary had a liberal reputation chose it anyway? It would seem that those men would be likened to those who know that Jesus Christ intended to found a Church, and that the Catholic Church is that Church, and still remain outside her. I mean, really, can one ever be PLU when one leaves the bosom of Holy Mother Overbrook to go to a place where flip-flops suffice for Mass? Can one who chooses a place dubbed the Pink Palace over the Pontifical Josephinum (which has suceeded, it seems, in removing itself from the bad list) ever really be one with us?
We are talking about degrees of communion with brother Priests. It becomes truly difficult to have a meaningful relationship with a brother Priest with whom you share nothing in common theologically. How can we spend our day off with a man who doesn't want to exercise his Priesthood on that day? How can we have meaningful conversations with a man who doesn't see any problem with Charles Curran?
It is one thing when a man is sent by his Bishop to an undesirable place, it is another thing all together when he chooses it. Those who choose the easy place where they never have to answer for missing Morning Prayer because they stayed up late the night before "studying"; who get to wear jeans and a golf shirt to class and never, ever wear a cassock. In essence, they have chosen to live like regular college students during their years of "formation." There could be hope for those who simply don't know any better. In fact we know that all things are possible for Christ. Yet, we won't be holding our breath for new members of the diocesan schola.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Take up your cross and follow me!

Christ tells us in this coming Sunday's Gospel (OF) that we must take up our Cross and follow after Him, if we wish to be His disciples. Saint Paul beseeches us to offer our bodies as an acceptable sacrifice to God.
On September 24, at 12:01 a.m., the 40 Days for Life fall campaign will kick off. For forty days, men and women from across the country and then some will be taking up their cross to follow Christ. They will be offering their bodies as an acceptable sacrifice. We know, of course, that this is done in union with the Sacrifice of the Mass, offered daily throughout the world.
The purpose of the campaign is to pray and fast for life -- for an end to abortion without exception. To close down clinics in our cities. They have had success with that already. The campaign also involves non-violent protests at abortion facilities. Primarily the protest is in the form of being present and praying -- many Rosaries.
Please, if you are reading this, consider fasting and praying (step it up a notch, since you already pray!) for our country. Pray for the elections this year. You all know it is crucial that pro-life candidates are elected.

New blog

A truly PLU has come up with a new blog Seek His Face which is very promising. Young Father Check, whom some of you may or may not have seen when he may or may not have been at a recent ordination in East Texas, has been a good friend for many years.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sacerdos in Aeternum

Having recently been ordained (less than a week), I must say it is awesome. The experience is surreal. Being surrounded by so many brother Priests and being able to call them brother Priests is also unbelievable. The New Liturgical Movement is thoroughly under way in East Texas. I did promise that more would be revealed soon, didn't I?
So here it is. Darth Celebrandi pulls back the veil just a bit -- but I still have to leave something for you to figure out, if you don't know me personally. If you do, you know there was only one man ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ in East Texas in the last week.
A brief synopsis:
  • Saturday morning, the ordination at long last occured. Many have tried to put a stop to it...many have succeeded in delaying it for a long time. They perhaps didn't know how pastoral I would be, but, in the words of one brother Priest, they still had to kiss my hands!
  • Saturday afternoon, the first confession (and a few more). It is an indescribable, or should I say ineffable, feeling to hear oneself say those words "I absolve you from your sins..."
  • Saturday night, there was the banquet.
  • Sunday morning, thing got extraordinary. My first Solemn Mass according to the Extraordinary Form went very well. It was a morning of Firsts. Fr Check's first time as a Deacon in the EF; Fr Wickersham's first time as Subdeacon; Fr Allen's first time as Assisting Priest. Last but not least, the first Solemn Mass at that Church.
  • Sunday afternoon the people of East Texas saw the Ordinary Form in a way that was quite extraordinary (no pun intended, just the best suited word). The Choir of SFA sang the Missa Festiva of Grechaninov; the Canon was chanted (whole Liturgy of the Eucharist was in Latin); the Altar was oriented; six candlesticks; incense; 7 concelebrants. None of these things is per se extraordinary, yet they are never seen in these parts. People cried when Mom and Dad were given their manutergium and stole, respectively.
  • The Feast after the Mass was remarkable. Credit is due to Chad LeMaire of LeMaire's Catering by Design. I have never had cajun food like that! Did I mention the Shiner Bock?
  • Then came the week to decompress in New Orleans, which has drawn to a close as I head to Washington for another Solemn Mass according to the Extraordinary Form.
All in all, I would have to declare this was a PLU-fest. I think the PUUs were not too pleased when the Bishop once again stated that he hopes all of his Priests will celebrate according to the Extraordinary Form frequently. He also lists that specifically in the Faculties I received. God is good.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fish or foul?

The parable of the fish in today's Gospel passage is one that is often overlooked or avoided. The fact is, Jesus is telling us that there will be a separation in the end times. There is parable after parable about this in the Holy Gospel: The fish, the wise and foolish virgins, the sheep and the goats and so on. Christ warns us that we will give an account to Him in the end of how we have responded to His grace.
St Thomas Aquinas reminds us that each person is given sufficient grace in order to save his soul. In the end, though, it is up to us to repond to God's grace in order to save our souls. We also have to remember that Christ said, “To those to whom more is given, more will be demanded.”
This past Friday marked the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the prophetic Encyclical Humanae Vitae – The Transmission of Human Life, by Paul VI. This Encyclical was not ground breaking, in that it did not teach anything new. What made it shocking to many was that it refused to teach something new, or rather contrary to what had always been taught.
To understand why this Encyclical became so important in our times, we have to turn back to 1930. As is happening this month, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion met for their decennial Lambeth conference in that year. This conference was groundbreaking because the Anglican Communion decided to turn it's back on nearly two thousand years of Christian Teaching by allowing contraception in some instances. Until then, no Christian Community or Church allowed contraception ever.
In 1931, His Holiness, Pius XI issued an Encyclical on Chaste Wedlock, called Casti Conubii. He reiterated the contant teaching of the Church that it was not morally licit to contracept. Natural Family Planning, whereby couples make use of knowledge of natural biological cycles to abstain from conjugal relations during the woman's fertile periods is permissible. Pius XII recalled what the Anglicans did not: the teaching of St Vincent of Lerens that we must believe what has been believed by Christians always, everywhere and by all.
During the Second Vatican Council, the topic of Contaception was brought up again. A committee of theologians was established to look into the Church's teaching in order to counsel the Pope. This is a very important distinction: in order to counsel the Pope. The body of theologians that was formed did not have magisterial authority. They were strictly a consultative body. Once their research was completed, Paul VI used them as intended, as a consultative body.
Because many theologians were caught up with the spirit of the times, the thought was that the Church was going to change her teaching after 19 ½ centuries. It became a terrible fiasco because Priests were overstepping their bounds by telling people that they could contracept because the Church was going to change the teaching soon.
They misunderstood what the sensus fidelium is. The senus fidelium is the sense of the faithful. It is a collective view of what the Christian Faithful believe. Remember the Canon of St Vincent: always, everywhere, by everyone. It is not a snapshot-poll of what 97% of American Catholics believe on July 20th, 2008. It includes all Christians from the beginning. What has always been morally illicit is never going to become morally licit.
So, when Paul VI issued the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, these theologians ended up, so to speak, with egg on their faces. Here they had been telling people to go ahead and contracept because the teaching was going to change soon – and the Pope goes and releases an Encyclical saying that the teaching is unchangeable. Why? Because the Holy Spirit guarantees that the Pope will never teach error – Lambeth does not have that guarantee.
Humanae Vitae became earth-shattering because, for the first time in recent Church memory, there was open defiance. Some theologians, like one famous one from my alma mater – The Catholic University of America, stood up and proclaimed themselves to be a magisterium equal in weight to the Pope. They actually stood there in Catholic Universities throughout the western world and taught contrary to the Church's teaching. Because of tenure and legal battles, it took years, nearly two decades to remove these professors from teachings positions. It took the courage of men like Cardinal O'Boyle and Cardinal Hickey in Washington, Cardinal Ratzinger in Rome, Pope John Paul II and others to insist that those who teach in the name of the Church actually teach what the Church teaches. Imagine – standing in a classroom in a Pontifical university teaching that the Pope is wrong.
Sadly, over the last thirty years, many have been led astray be so-called theologians who proclaim themselves to be equal in infallibility to the Church. These theologians don't understand what it is to be a loyal son of the Church. They don't understand what Christ promised to Peter and his successors. Sadly, they also don't understand the Church's beautiful teaching about married love.
The Church's teaching is, was, and ever shall be that it is a mortal sin to place any barrier, physical or chemical in the way of conception. This is not an attempt to cause rapid reproduction on the part of Catholics as some say. Conjugal union has both a unitive and procreative dimension. The couple does not have to seek both, but can never separate or place a barrier between them. Every act of marital love must be open to the creation of new human life.
As Pius XII teaches, though, this does not mean that the couple cannot make use of biological information. God created the woman's reproductive cycle, and also gave us the ability to understand it. It is perfectly moral for a married couple to abstain from conjugal acts when it is like that conception would occur. In fact, couples that have used this method of spacing births have found that it enhances their marriages because they have to express their love for each other in new and different ways.
I said earlier that the Encyclical was prophetic. Paul VI says that there will be consequences if contaception becomes widespread.
It would open wide the path to marital infidelity
It would reduce respect for women: men who become used to these methods will begin to see women as objects for their own pleasure.
Governments, who care little about the moral law, may take it upon themselves to impose this upon people.
Has this not happened? We all know marital infidelity is higher now than ever before. At the very least fear of getting caught nine months later helped some stay faithful! We also know that since 1968 there has been a revolution. Once the connection between the unitive and procreative dimensions is severed in people's minds, there is no reason we can't redefine marriage as we please. After all, if the procreative dimension is optional, why can't two consenting persons marry. Who's to say it has to be limited to two? Why just persons? If you had told people in 1968 that we would have to have constitutional amendments in our states that define marriage as being between one man and one woman, they would have laughed at you! The problem is that once you allow the unitive dimension to take precidence over the procreative, there is no reason to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. It is all about two persons using – and I mean using – each other as objects of pleasure.
As for the third consequence, look at China. Look at the United Nations. China forces women who are pregnant with their second child to abort. Paul VI said that governments would soon take the power to decide from couples. The UN tells countries they must permit “reproductive rights” which is a code-term for contraception and in-utero homicide. These so-called rights are the string that is attached to much aid that comes from the United Nations.
Abortion is another consequence of the contaceptive mentality. Once a couple sees a baby as an unwanted consequence of their pleasure, they often have no qualms about any steps taken to prevent that consequence. This is not to mention the fact that many, if not most contraceptive methods are abortifacient – they cause abortions. They often work by preventing the implantation of the new human being, at least as a secondary method. This means that the new human being withers and dies. Then there is what pharmaceutical companies now call “emergency contraceptives” which definitively work by preventing implantation. 48, 589,993 persons have been put to death since 1973 by induced abortions. Countless others have died as a result of contraceptive methods that also cause abortion. This is all a consquence of the mentality that sees a child as an impediment to living the life one desires.
Too many couples have decided that it was more important to have nice cars and dream vacations than to have children. They have seen their progeny not as past generations did – a means of imortality, but as a roadblock to that big home with two cars, an SUV and a boat. There is actually negative population growth in some parts of the world, meaning couples are averaging less than two children each.
How does all of this relate to the parable of the fish? In the Gospel, fish represent two things most often. Fish are either a sign of the Eucharist or a sign of Christians. If you remember, the Greek word for fish also became an acronym for Jesus Christ, God's Son, the Savior. What are the angels sorting? Perhaps they are sorting the Christians from those who appear to be Christians. Many will say, “Lord, Lord” and I will turn to them and say, “Get away, for I do not know you.” More importantly in the case of Humanae Vitae they are sorting Catholic Theologians from those who claimed to be Catholic Theologians. These have come like wolves in sheep's clothing to ravage the flock. They would rather tell you that the Pope is wrong than admit they made a mistake.
But we have assurance. If we follow the teaching of the Catholic Church, which is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we know that we are following the truth, and not just some spirit of the times. For, the spirit of the times is rarely one and the same as the Eternal Spirit. We can know that if we follow the teachings of the Church, and put them into practice in our lives, we are responding to God's grace. We also know that if we have been led astray by one of these so-called theologians, we can be restored to grace again by the Sacrament of Penance, knowing that the arms of Christ's mercy are always open to us.
God bless you.

Roma Locuta, Episcopi Flevierunt

Rome has approved the translation of the Ordinary of the Mass. According to Fr Z the CNS, the news arm of the Bishop's conference couldn't bring itself to report that pro multis will be translated accurately. Apparently John and Mary Catholic are going to have to break down and buy a freakin dictionary, because Rome thinks they are able to use polysyllabic words like -- gasp -- consubstantial !
Soon and very soon we won't have to hear those awful renderings any more. By the way, I have it on good authority that more accurate translations of the Latin have been seen in these parts too. There may even be the occasional Latin High Mass in the Ordinary Form around here. The most amazing thing is -- John and Mary Catholic, together with Juan y Maria Catolicos are able to worship as one community. Who'd-a thunk it? You mean we don't have to let language prevent us from worshipping together as one Church. Wow.
And yet, there are still those who ask the question "what relevance does that have to the Mass?" God help us. And stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Are the People of God dumb? Pars Secunda

The Bishops have actually done it. They have actually failed in their duty to pass the translation of the Propers of the Seasons. Yep. There really are at least one third of our mitered ones who think you and I are to stupid to understand anything higher than fourth-grade English.
I will add my voice to the many others who would love to see the USCC/NCCB receive a telegram from the Holy Father stating that since they cannot seem to agree on a translation of the current Roman Missal, in the Ordinary Form, they must simply use what they have as a current Roman Missal until they pull their miters out of their rumps and provide us with a decent translation.
"Dear Brother Bishops, Since you have not found it within your abilities to agree on a sound translation of the Roman Missal published by our predecessor of blessed memory, the Servant of God, John Paul II, we have ordered that the recognitio be withdrawn for the use of tranlations of former editions of the Roman Missal in the Ordinary Form. We encourage you, brothers, to translate the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal (Ordinary Form) quas primas in order that the faithful again be able to hear Mass in their own language, should they desire. We impart to you our Apostolic Blessing. Given at Castel Gondolfo 8 July, 2008, the third year of Our Pontificate"
Somehow I think THAT would put fire under their feet. Until that happens, they know they can drag this out as long as they please.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Are the People of God dumb?

According to Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie Pennsylvania, the average Catholic is unable to comprehend such words as ineffable. Rocco reports on the story in Whispers in the Loggia. This is just a continuation of the usual liberal line. For the last forty years they have told us that we have to dumb down the liturgy in order to make it understandable to Joe Sixpack. The question of the hour is, are the People of God as dumb as Bishop Trautman would have us believe?
Why can't we use terms like ancient bondage? Why do we have to spell everything out in Romper Room speak? Is it not the height of hubris to claim that most people are not as capable as we are of learning new words? Is it not the height of clericalism? We clergy know what ineffable means, but the laity can't understand it.
And they call me clerical because I wear a biretta! We can only hope that they will retire soon. On the one hand we have religion books for seventh graders that make them learn words like epiclesis and anamnesis, and on the other we have Bishops who think people are too stupid to look up words like ineffable.
We have a long way to go, folks, but it is getting better. Yes, the people are capable of learning new words. We don't want to have to pray things like Oh God, who is so great that we cannot speak of it or put it into words....nor do we want to continue with the ICEL version: Oh God, your nice....
May God help us all, and may the Holy Spirit be with our Bishops this week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The end of the Season?

Well, it's been a PLU-Fest for the last month! Many PLUs have joined the ranks of Presbyters in the Long Black Line. There are new PLUs joining the Long Black Line. I can still remember years ago when a saintly Priest told us in the seminary, Gentlemen, you now stand at the end of a long black line that stretches all the way through the Apostles to Our Lord Jesus Christ." Welcome to the new men!
About the PLU-Fest... This year has seen many an ordination and First Mass. Of course, we can all count on the PUUs (People UNLIKE us) to get catty about our First Masses. But...He used too much incense! He had six candlesticks and faced the Crucifix! And why was he wearing those hats?
Then we have the comments from the ever-shorter gray line -- those who cherish their gray tabbies and love to tell us, "You younger clergy just don't get it. You can't go back." Yeah, Father, the Nashville Dominicans are just a fluke -- a passing fad. Who knew the centuries-old Dominican habit was soooooo trendy! By-the-way, Father, aren't you retiring in a few weeks? Sure will miss your sage advice!
One PLU put it well when, describing the reasoning behind the New Liturgical Movement, said that the people of God, for the last forty years, had experienced on Sunday morning -- not the foretaste of Heaven, but a preview of Purgatory. It is so good to see PLUs taking the places of those who are now retiring. Change is in the air, and as this year's ordination season draws to a close, the change is definitely for the better.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Adversarius Vester

St Peter tells us, "Brethren, be sober an alert, for your adversary, the Devil, is prowling about like I lion, seeking whom he may devour." This is proclaimed as part of the First Reading on the Feast of St Mark (Ordinary Form).
Now, some of our separated brethren (or those who should admit they are separated) have taken to preaching that there is no Devil. They say that the Devil and Hell are all part of some out-dated theology. Essentially, they have bought into the modernist argument that proposes that, as Marx put it, "religion is the opiate of the masses." They don't go so far (usually) as to say that there is no God, but they do propose half of the argument, that Hell and the Devil were teachings used to manipulate the masses. Now, they say, we are more sophisticated. What they don't realize is that they are, in fact, sophomoric, literally, smart idiots. They are imbued with more knowledge from technology and other things, but they are too arrogant to realize how much they still don't know.
As for those who should admit that they are separated, there is no worse arrogance than to remain in the Church, with a collar or habit on (or lapel pin, as is usually the case) and teach contrary to the constant teaching of the Church. Instead of admitting that they are not in line with the Church and going to another ecclesial community, they stay within the fold as wolves dressed in shepherd's clothing. They love to tell people that the Holy Spirit is powerful in their lives, especially rich widows. They love to tell people that those teachings which might make them uncomfortable are optional or passe, and the people of God love them because, as the Apostle tells us, their ears are itching to hear false doctrines.
You'll hear it said, "Father Russ is a really great confessor," meaning, "Father Russ tells me that I'm great; I don't have sins, only human imperfections." They don't like going to People Like Us because we tell them that to embrace the Divine Mercy means a change of their lives.
No one, however, has ever truly encountered Christ and been left the same. To encounter Him is to be transformed by Him. Then, and only then, can we fulfill what he promised in the Gospel of Mark -- "power of demons." Yes, Christ said "demons!"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

When is your High Mass

I spoke to a good friend from college last night. She lives in Hawaii, but has traveled the world. She was telling about the adventures of finding a Mass she can stand to attend. She went to her local parish, only to find that the Mass was in either Filipino or Samoan, which she doesn't speak. No problem, she's used to Mass in foreign tongues from her travels. [It would seem good, don't you think, if the Church could come up with some language to use internationally so as to avoid this problem -- but that's another post.]
So she went to another parish only to find the liturgy there objectionably hip. She tried several parishes. Finally, she asked the usher at her home parish, "When is your High Mass?" He told her, "We don't have a High Mass." My friend, of course, is dumbstruck. It has been years since she has lived in Hawaii, and in her travels throughout the world she has never seen a parish that had no High Mass.
Ah, but she just doesn't know... you see the liturgists tell us that there is no such thing anymore. We just have Mass (or Liturgy or Eucharist as they prefer to call it). Those distinctions went out with Vatican II. Would that someone would tell that to Rome. Anyway, these liturgists, who, by the way, are the same ones that brought us punch-bowl patens and flagons, have all kinds of Gnosis that would be good for us to get ahold of, or so they think. Such things as the Southwest Liturgical Conference, which has great sway here in the Lone Star State, become meetings of minds of those who are still living in the felt-bannered 70s.
Just because the Missal (yes, the word Sacramentary was and is incorrect) does not speak of Solemn Mass, Sung Mass and Spoken Mass, doesn't mean that these realities don't exist or that these terms are meaningless.
The other issue here is that these people who come up with these horrible liturgies have no idea how they contribute to the emptying of our churches. My friend has to drive up a windy mountain pass to go to a church where she finds the Mass to be decently celebrated. True enough, our obligation doesn't get dispensed just because the hippie couple are singing Kumbaya. However, there is a certain point where the liturgy itself is so badly celebrated that it obscures the presence of Christ in the Sacred Action. The celebration of the Mass becomes so disturbing to the person that she leaves the church in a worse emotional state than she came.
I applaud her for making the sacrifice to drive to the parish with the well-celebrated Mass. I lament the days when she isn't able to make the drive. As the Church has said so many times, we, the faithful, have the right to a well-celebrated Liturgy. We, the clergy, have the obligation to celebrate the Mass according to the norms of the Church. It is amazing how in clergy circles, one would be labeled "closed-minded" if one did not allow Life-Teen into the parish, but one is not "closed-minded" if one schedules no High Mass. Wake up and smell the incense, Fathers! The people want more. When they are educated in what the symbolism of the Liturgy is, they love all the smells-and-bells. These aren't mere trappings. They are means to involve our every sense.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Recognizing Him in the Breaking of the Bread

Today's Gospel, in the Ordinary Form, is the account of Emmaus. We ask ourselves, do we recognize Him in the Breaking of the Bread (the Mass)? It is for us to appreciate the great gift Christ has left us in the Eucharist. Obviously, our "separated brethren" have completely deprived themselves of this gift. In fact, without the Eucharist, there is no Church.
Those who are apart from the Church languish in some middle ground. They are, according to the Church, only partially initiated. They have received valid baptism (assuming valid words were actually used). They are like parts of the body of Christ that have been severed from the whole, yet hang on by a thread. I pray for them, because I cannot imagine life without the Eucharist.
It is the Eucharist that builds the Body of Christ. It is Holy Communion that causes our communion with Christ and with His Body, the Church. We need to recognize this gift for what it is. Worship of the Blessed Sacrament is one of the greatest gifts we have. Yes, I say gift -- God gave us the gift of being able to worship Him in and by means of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Jews worshiped God in the Temple, but the presence of the Shekinah was a shadow or rather foreshadowing of the Real Presence. St Thomas tells us that the Eucharist acts like a window that opens to us (makes us present to) Heaven. Not only is Christ truly present in the Eucharist, but His whole Mystical Body, especially the Church Triumphant, is present as well. When we are in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, we are made present to all of God's angels and saints, because they are with Christ, who is at the right hand of the Father.
Never forget the great gift you have received. Share this gift with others...tell them that you have seen Christ in the Breaking of the Bread.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Victimae Paschale Laudes

Today we still sing the praises of the Easter Sequence. Those who have separated themselves from the Church have lost the understanding of celebrating Easter for a solid week. Our Lord has told St Faustina to pray for those who are heretics and schismatics. Let us pray today for those who lack full union with Christ and His Church. It is amazing, as the text says, that the Lamb should be immolated for the sheep. Meditate today on the sequence. Also look at the text of the Exultet. Sorry to be so short. but time presses on!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Order of Sith

Lone Star PLU has now been inducted into the Order of Sith (OSith) and has taken the name Darth Celebrandi, inspired by Ars Celebrandi which is something all PLUs strive to have. While Darth will not yet reveal his Christian name for fear that to his enemies might over-take him before his transformation is complete, be assured there is more to come. May the Force be with you all.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I give to you a new commandment....

Happy and blessed Maundy Thursday to all. Today we celebrate so much. With the morning Chrism Mass (some of us already celebrated earlier in the week) and the Mass of the Lord's Supper in the Evening, today is a celebration of the Ministerial Priesthood of Jesus Christ. \
The Chrism Mass is not just for blessing of the Holy Oils for the year. It is a Mass about the Priesthood. All of the readings selected by the Church bespeak the anointing of the Priest to bring glad tidings to the poor. The Bishop is directed to speak to his brother Priests in the homily, exhorting them to model their lives after Christ, as he had done at their ordination.
The Mass of the Lord's Supper recalls that night when Our Lord instituted the Priesthood. It was the intention of Christ, when he offered that bread and wine as His Body and Blood, not only to offer the Sacrifice of Calvary the next day, but also to offer every sacrifice that would be offered by the members of His Mystical Body. In order to facilitate the Priestly offering of the members of His Mystical Body, Christ established the Ministerial Priesthood. With the daily offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, the Ministerial Priests provide, as it were, a vehicle for the offering of our daily sacrifices (i.e., the morning offering).
The Priest is a living Sacrament of the presence of Christ in the world. Whereever he goes, he brings with him the Divine Mercy. The Priest always can provide the healing touch of the hand of God.
The Servent of God, John Paul II, reminded his brother Priests that Christ called them two thousand years ago. From the Upper Room, these men were called, before they were ever conceived, with the words of Christ, "Do this in memory of me." For two thousand years that call has been headed. Many of us have heard the call and await the day when we can obey it fully. Please pray for your Bishop, Priests, Deacons and Seminarians. Pray for more vocations to the Ministerial Priesthood. As Archbishop Sheen once said, the world could live longer without the sun than without the Mass.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Call

This is that great time of year when many are anticipating the call to Holy Orders. This is also the time of year that the Devil is in a last-ditch effort to prevent, or at least delay the ordination of as many Priests as possible. A quick Google search finds the long form of the St Michael Prayer by Leo XIII. St Michael is most powerful -- so pray to him for the men whom God has called to Holy Orders. Pray that he will overcome the Devil, who is bent on destroying vocations by any means possible
The Devil will use rumor and innuendo. "Concerns" will be brought forward at the last minute. Those who should be the biggest supporters of candidates for the Priesthood -- their Vocations' Directors -- will often become vehicles of destruction. You will probably notice that these rumors and innuendos rarely strike non-PLUs. It will be the ones who want to teach with the authority of Christ those things that Christ teaches who will be victims of these rumors. The seminary faculty will often stand slack-jawed as Vocations' Directors come forward with these "concerns." They are powerless to help the man whom they know, and with whom they live day and night. The man who lives hundreds of miles away and sees him five times a year (I'm being generous) is convinces he knows him better! It's amazing!
St Michael is our only defense against such nonsense. Sancte Michael, Archangele, ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


There is a post on Fr Z's blog about the consecration of the chalice and paten. Ah -- so they are consecrated. Does that mean that Sister shouldn't refer to "doing the dishes?" Could this have something to do with the restriction of the purification of vessels to Acolytes? I guess we're all dumbstruck!

This brings up the topic of the general desacralization of the sacred. People quite often walk through the Sanctuary to get into the Church. Those with perfectly good knees bow when passing Our Lord -- exposed in a monstrance no less! In general there is an attitude that nothing is special any more.

Do we need to reexamine certain practices? Archbishop Ranjith seems to think Communion in the hand needs to go. Is the use of an excess number of Extraordinary Ministers of Communion -- who, by the way, still insist on calling themselves "Eucharistic Ministers" -- contributing to the overall loss of sacrality?

There seems to be an overall inability to understand that the Church changed certain things through the years for a reason. She stopped giving people Communion in the hand because of abuses. She stopped giving Communion under both Species because of abuses, and because of the bad theology that tends to develop. Just try to stop the practice in your Church, and you'll see how many think they were deprived of something more than sign value.

Where there is an overall inability to understand, there is an overall need to catechize. We have to teach our people what the Church teaches. We have to pass on what was handed to us, whether it is convenient or not.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

If we allow conservatives...

Once again, Fr Z has a post that plants a seed of thought. His discussion about changing Mass texts is leads to other thoughts. If we allow for conservatives to change texts in the Mass, why not allow for liberals to do so? We all know how insipid the "translation" (really a paraphrase) of the Mass into English is. Any first year Latin student could probably make hundreds of corrections in an hour's time. That said, if we allow for us to correct the translation of the Latin, why can't we allow for the liberals to come up with their own translation that is devoid of any masculine reference to God?

An interesting phenomenon I have found is among those devoted to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, who feel free to depart from the Missal of Blessed John XXIII to pick up abrogated customs from prior editions of the Missal. The rational usually goes like this: well you see, Rubricarum Instructum never fully got implemented in this country before the Council and the series of new Missals that came in the 60s.....

So, they decide on a liturgical era that they consider to be the apex of liturgy -- sort of like the reformers did. The only difference is which year they consider to be the best. Is it the 47 Missal, the 58? They think it's nifty to say Benedicamus Domino in Lent and Advent, so they stick that in. They like the second Confiteor before Communion, so they stick that in. Are we going to start bringing back the Broadstoles?

As Fr Z always says, Say the black, do the red. I can't see how it's any different for one Priest to "retain" the Benedicamus Domino in penitential seasons than it is for another to omit the hand-washing because he sees it as a meaningless gesture. Both have decided they know better than the Church how her liturgy should be celebrated. It's hard to argue immemorial custom in a place that started celebrating the Extraordinary Form any time after the promulgation of Rubricarum Instructum.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Let's end this now!

It has been 35 years now, and we are still meeting in Washington for the March for life, either physically or in spirit. Every year we pray that this will be the last time there is a March for Life, but deep down we are preparing ourselves to be there again next year.

The March for Life gives us a chance to gather together with like minded people -- at least when it comes to the understanding of a fundamental right to life. This is an issue that is at the same time highly motivated by religious sentiment and really not a religious issue. What I mean is, this is not a Catholic issue. This is a human rights issue. This is the whole problem with the organizations that support abortion. They almost universally do so in the name of "reproductive rights" or "women's rights."

Women's rights?! Is this some kind of joke? Women are by far the most harmed by abortion. First of all, statistically, more women are killed in the womb than men. Secondly, what abortion does to the psyche of a woman is unspeakable. Women have the right to be preserved from this. Organizations like Planned Parenthood International should not be permitted to make money hand over fist off the suffering of women.

Those of us who are ordained will have to deal with women who have had abortions. We have to bear in mind always that she probably felt backed into a corner. Our job is to be a personification of the Divine Mercy to these women. Embrace them, lead them gently to the Sacrament of Penance. They are most likely like the woman with the hemorrhage -- they need to hear, "rise up, daughter, your faith has saved you."

The world knows that the Church hates abortion. The old adage of hate the sin, love the sinner applies. Those who have had abortions must know that they are not outside of the mercy of God. We call upon them to be sacramentally healed by the power of Christ.

Let us pray now that we will not need to make our way to Washington again next year. Let us pray that no more children will die from abortion and that no more women will be scarred for life by it. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dominica in Septuagesima

Today (or rather last night with Vespers) we begin the preparatory cycle for Easter. The period of Septuagesima is a time of extended preparation before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. According to some scholars, the number 70 (Septuagesima) represents the 70 years of Babylonian Exile. It is also noteworthy that Quinquegesima Sunday is exactly 50 Days before Easter, which is how I always figured it was named.
This period is a time for us to begin planning our lenten observance. How are we going to enter into the holy season of Lent? As Catholics we do believe that penance purges us from our sins. By making such an offering to God, we exercise our baptismal Priesthood. By offering sacrifice, we draw nearer to Christ who gave all to the Father on our account.
Anyone who has ever experienced profound suffering has come closer to Christ crucified. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta says that suffering is when the Crucified Christ bends down from the cross to kiss us. One lady told her that she wished He wouldn't kiss her so much! That reaction is usually ours.
Nobody wants to suffer. There is a difference between wanting to suffer and willing it. Christ willed to suffer for all mankind. At the same time, He didn't necessarily want to do it -- "If this cup can pass from me..." It does not make us bad that we don't want to suffer. It is meritorious to choose suffering, which is not, by definition, desired.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Common Direction of Prayer

Much ado is being made of the Pope's Mass this morning in the Sistine Chapel. Fr Z. has posted an article that actually calls this "a break from tradition!" The ignorance of some in the press! Perhaps this could be called a break from recent (very) custom, but not from tradition.

By the grace of God we will all be able to reintroduce the common direction of prayer. There are so many theological reasons for common orientation and really non against. The idea of celebrating Mass versus populum is really based upon a misinterpretation of active participation of the faithful. So, by "gaining" being able to see what the Priest is doing, the faithful lose the image of being led by their shepherd into the Kingdom of Heaven. Ironically, they also lose the image of the Priest as one taken from among men -- one of their community who has been called forward and consecrated for this purpose. Instead, he stands on the other side of the altar and talks at them (when speaking to God!). It becomes hightened clericalism, because it exaggerates the image of the Priest as standing in persona Christi Capitis (again, ironically). All this while attempting to downplay the sacrificial character of the Mass.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What a difference an elective makes

Recent posts on other blogs, e.g. WDTPRS, have discussed the formation of seminarians in the Extraordinary Form. Some have chosen not to do anything until sending Bishops request it. Some have chosen to have elective courses.

Notably, however, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St Louis is going to train the seminarians, universally it seems, to celebrate in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms. This, I propose, is the most favorable way to go about training the men. Those seminaries that offer an elective course are, no doubt, to be applauded. However, the fact that it is an elective does leave concern for the PLUs as to weather it will be just more evidence to pigeon-hole them. We never want to fuel the fire, yet we want to learn how to celebrate Mass in the immemorial way.

It's amazing. Goodbye, Good Men is still happening. They have learned new buzz words, like "He isn't with the people in a meaningful way." This, of course, is usually meant to describe someone who is "too focused on the rubrics" or something like that. This is, of course, as though the Liturgy were not a meaningful contact with the People of God! Michael Rose could write a new edition or sequel to his book. God knows, many of us have been through the wringer at the hands of those who are supposed to be promoting vocations. It's enough to make me compose a Gregorian version of We shall overcome... It's OK, though. We shall overcome, because they are getting closer and closer to retirement. People Like Us need to hang in for the long hall.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Return to the grind

We wish our brother PLUs well as they head back to their respective seminaries. It is only 4 months and you will be back in the Diocese (some of you for good!). The rest of us will keep up the fort in your absence. Don't worry, we won't let the fine dining establishments go under while you're gone!

I hope the Rector's address isn't too painful. We know how those men can drone on, as though you really want to hear it after driving or flying all day. Perhaps the mic won't work? There's nothing quite like an hour of Evening Prayer. . . talk about the Liturgy of the Hours, and hours and hours. Let me guess:
  • Be more charitable to one another. After all, we never demonstrate passive-aggressive behavior in the formation committee!
  • Study harder. It's not like you will have a new event to attend every other week for a Diocese that isn't your own, but doesn't want to admit they have so few seminarians.
  • Engage the spiritual life. Just because no faculty members are ever seen in the chapel outside of community (or even at half of those) doesn't mean you shouldn't pray more.
Yep, they could save you the spiel if they would just lead by example. Is that too much to ask? I guess so. There's always the via negativa!

Safe travels. Don't let them get to you. Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Octave of Christmas

Today the Universal Church celebrates the Octave Day of Christmas, ordinarily known as the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. The Theotokos, the God-bearing one, is celebrated since the Council of Ephesus. She is the Mother not only of the human nature of Christ, but of the whole Christ -- God made man. To deny that Mary is the mother of God is to deny that Christ is God, also known as the Nestorian Heresy.
Our Lady delivered Our Lord without suffering any loss to her perpetual virginity. She bore into the world its savior. And now we view the mystery of the Incarnation from the standpoint of the Great Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, as she is lauded in the Byzantine Liturgy. It is the will of God that His Son should come to us through the Virgin. He chose her from before time began to be His Mother. The mystery is sung in today's Office:
Sancta et immaculata virginitas, quibus te laudibus efferam, nescio: Quia quem caeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.
Holy and Immaculate Virginity, I know how to carry out your praises: For Him whom the Heavens cannot hold you brought to your lap.

It is a great opportunity for us to meditate upon the great privilege that was afforded to Our Lady and to St Joseph to hold Our Lord in their arms. It is also truly amazing that so many separated brethren hold Our Lady in such disregard. No tongue can praise you worthily, O Mother of God.

Nos cum prole pia, benedicat Virgo Maria.