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.