Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Innovative Church

I was just emailed this remarkable ditty from the NYT.

To summarize, it's all about churches trying to design their "worship" experience to suit the audience of the worshipers. Consider that for a moment. The essential message is that, who/whatever God is, how He is to be worshiped is none of His concern. The individual decides how they are going to worship God, and if the Almighty has a problem with that, then He'd best just suck it up and deal.

This is an odd arrangement for man's relationship to his ostensible deity. I'm not sure if I can come up with a historical precedent (or even a limping analogy) for believers who dictate to their god the terms of their relationship. Oh, sure, there had to be some of that among false religions. I can't imagine all paganism, etc. was the product of direct demonic motivation.

Our situation now is decidedly different, though. Even in the days of paganism, there was at least a class claiming to get direct revelations from the gods about the appropriate ways the masses were to commune with them. If you'll notice the trends in the articles, this isn't what's happening. The push now is to re-construct the most appealing items of the profane world (art galleries, music concerts, coffee houses, and so forth), shoehorn in mentions of God, then call it worship, regardless of whether the label actually fits.

Of course, what's really happening is that we are creating fun parks with a religious veneer. All the better for worshiping ourselves, which is what this is all about. There aren't a whole lot of other explanations for why our alleged encounters with God just happen to be in the environment where we get to do all of our favorite stuff.

It makes you wonder what such people think of the martyrs. It's an odd time when we've gotten to the point that worshiping God on His terms has gotten so inconvenient that we have to seek out customized religion.

When someone focuses all their energy on enhancing their experience, what exactly does that mean? Isn't that really an admission that it's all about themselves?

Consider the following from the article:

“Every generation wants their own thing,” said Houston Clark, whose company designs spaces and audiovisual systems for churches nationwide. “Kids in their late 20s to midteens now, they really crave intimacy and authenticity. They want high-quality experiences, but don’t necessarily want them in huge voluminous buildings...”

“That’s a significant difference for us,” said Paul Miller, the pastor of ministries for Bent Tree. “We’re really building a community center, more than we are a worship center.”

Hey, if the shoe fits...

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Pope Pardons The Butler

This is a bit old, but we've had some emails come in requesting an update on the Paolo Gabriele story.

The Pope pardoned Mr. Gabriele a few days ago. All things considered, this isn't a huge surprise. Despite his somewhat odd method, it seemed pretty clear that Paolo really thought he was acting in the Holy Father's best interests.

Regardless of this incident, I think it's foolish to assume that things will be calming down for 2013. Please pray for Pope Benedict that he will be able to weather the storms that are no doubt on their way.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Who Christmas Is For

In this age of the War on Christmas and so many people essentially turning such a marvelous event into an occasion for sin and blasphemy, Pope Leo the Great reminds us of who benefits from the wonder of the Incarnation:

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life.

So don't waste it.

Christian, acknowledge your dignity, and becoming a partner in the Divine nature, refuse to return to the old baseness by degenerate conduct. Remember the Head and the Body of which you are a member. Recollect that you were rescued from the power of darkness and brought out into God's light and kingdom. By the mystery of Baptism you were made the temple of the Holy Ghost: do not put such a denizen to flight from you by base acts, and subject yourself once more to the devil's thraldom: because your purchase money is the blood of Christ, because He shall judge you in truth Who ransomed you in mercy, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

It's amazing sometimes to hear our ancestors in the Faith speak. I realize it's Pope Leo and all, but man, wouldn't it be something if we could manage even 0.000001% of such eloquence?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mary: The Warrior

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has thrown out a post today relating something the Pope brought up today. Here's the relevant portion:

Elizabeth, welcoming Mary, recognizes that the promise of God to humanity is being fulfilled and she exclaims, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”. The expression “Blessed art thou among women” refers in the Old Testament to Jael (or Yael or Jahel – Judges 5,24) and to Judith (Judith 13,1), two warrior women who strive to save Israel.

Jael is famous for catching the Canaanite general Sisera asleep and then driving a tent peg through his skull. Judith decapitated Holfernes, a general sent by Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the Israelites. I'm aware of their connection with the verse mentioned by the Holy Father because of the extended typology with Our Lady. Sure, those mentioned above are regarded as "blessed among women," but there is more to it than that. You can add the woman of Judges 9:52 who kills Abimelech to the following analysis.

There is enmity between these women and the agents of evil. They crush the heads of serpents sent to harm their people. Here is the image of Our Lady that seems to be forgotten. Many don't seem to have considered this at all. The Blessed Mother is not some kind of passive spectator in the conflict with the Adversary. She is the cause of his destruction. He and all his minions fear and hate her. And if I may be so bold, she hates them as well. It's ENMITY, folks. That is complete opposition and hostility. They are enemies, and it can never be otherwise.

Don't let the images of the peaceful Virgin of Bethlehem and Nazareth make you forget. It's a war, and Our Lady is on the front lines. The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary recalls these verses to our minds.

Thou art beautiful, O my love, sweet and comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army set in array...

Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?

Canticle of Canticles 6:3, 9


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thought Experiment

Disregard for a moment whatever you know (or think you know) about Supreme Court decisions. Just consider which of the following items has a firmer foundation in the text of the United States Constitution. Also, ignore items from any state laws. We're just thinking of the Constitution here.

1. The right to be married

2. The right to practice one's religion unencumbered

3. The right to own firearms

4. The right to engage in sexual activity with a partner of the same sex

5. The right to purchase, own, and use contraceptive devices

Granted, this isn't a very hard thought experiment. Just one designed to focus attention on the current insanity gripping society.

Of course, numbers 2 and 3 are the only ones with any sort of grounding in what the Constitution actually says. The current zeitgeist, however, insists upon the alleged "rights" like those in items 1, 4, and 5. Not only does it demand the existence of "rights" that have little basis in the text of the document, it increasingly calls for the restriction and/or elimination of the rights that actually are enumerated.

As mentioned above, I'm not going to get into the SCOTUS theories of "penumbras," neo-Platonic "emanations" from the 9th Amendment, or whatever other supernatural methods are used to promote a new right. I'm just looking at the black letter of what used to be regarded as the "supreme law of the land." Now, the movement is growing to ditch law altogether and instead govern according to the whims of the mob.

It's interesting to see how rights decline. More than anything, the recent trend seems to be driven by the urge for complete sexual license, coupled with the utter abdication of responsibility in all facets of life (including those that are directly associated with said sexual license). The call for government control, regulation, and intervention was something that used to scare people. Now, it's a given.

The Servile State beckons. Hell, it's probably already here, and I just don't want to admit it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bobby Jindal: Catholic Governor

In his omniscience, he's figured out how to solve the Republican Party's "problem" with birth control. Basically, make it more available than it is now.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has a solution for the GOP's birth control problem: Make it over the counter.

"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists announced its support last month for selling oral contraceptives over the counter without a prescription in the United States," Jindal writes in Friday's Wall Street Journal opinion section. "I agree with this opinion, which if embraced by the federal government would take contraception out of the political arena." Jindal also writes that prescription birth control drives up costs with unnecessary doctors' visits.

"Democrats have wrongly accused Republicans of being against birth control and against allowing people to use it. That's hogwash," Jindal wrote. "But Republicans do want to protect those who have religious beliefs that are opposed to contraception."

How wonderful. In the interest of political expediency, let's make immorality and sin easier. Our nation isn't destroying itself fast enough, so somebody needs to floor the accelerator.

I hope everyone takes note of this. We're about to see both parties drop the sham of being different and complete their merger to the same sides of the same coin. I hope that the bishops in Louisiana speak up about this.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Regarding the recent tragedy in Connecticut.

It is truly shameful to see how soulless our society has become. Whatever one's stance might be on the issue of gun control, do the reactions we are seeing in all this make any sense whatsoever? Rather than examining the issue of a murderer killing children, the entire emphasis of the conversation is on the instrument he used. Everywhere I turn, when someone dares to connect this crime to the overall moral and cultural decay of the nation, they are mocked.

How insane are secularists? Are they seriously suggesting that the mere presence of firearms makes one more likely to kill another? If this person in Connecticut didn't have a gun, I'm willing to bet he would still have murderous intentions, which means that we still have a major problem. Wouldn't we be better off trying to work on the issues that create those intentions, rather than ignoring them in favor of a purely ancillary concern?

Were there no gun control laws in Norway? Did lack of a firearm stop the criminal in China who stabbed 22 kids at school? Does anyone bother worrying about kids in places like Chicago where these kinds of deaths are far too commonplace?

Am I really to believe that guns are the problem here?

Here's a suggestion. Even if the mention of (gasp!) God makes the secularist uncomfortable, have any bothered to bring up the absolute shambles of our mental health system in this country, where those with such illnesses are often forced into prisons or simply held in hospital emergency rooms and then turned out on the street without any real treatment? I see it every day. And I see how there are basically no politicians who care. No, they'd rather talk about guns, as though legislation to that effect will heal the schizophrenic who can't get rid of the voices in his head.

That schizophrenic is not nearly as crazy as the incessant drumbeat that banishing guns will somehow fix these problems.

No, what will fix them is an acknowledgement of where the problem is. And anyone who wants to convince us that this is all about "kicking God out of our schools" is off the reservation as well. It's way beyond that now. God has been evicted from society pretty much altogether, hence the demented reaction to these shootings. Even the evangelicals who lament the "God in schools" issue have no concept of what the Social Kingship of Christ really means.

Don't kid yourselves like the folks piping BS into their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds about how God has nothing to do with this. What happened in Connecticut was a heinous sin of the worst order. Sin does not stay isolated to the sinner. This is why the Church has always stressed the social aspects of sin. A society that glorifies violence and a multitude of other offenses against God in its culture, while degrading what's good about people is going to reap a very bitter harvest. That's how sin works, and the fault belongs to all of us.

I repeat. None of us are exempt from blame.

Let's not even get into the terrifying reality that demonic activity is on the rise. God forbid that we bring up that possibility. No, let's keep focusing on whether or not killing can be made less efficient, rather than why so many people are interested in killing.

Who would have thought that the need to cling to the atheist superstition would be so intense as to ignore such a basic aspect of the problem of mass murder?

Sorry for the rambling, but holy smokes, this has been frustrating to listen to.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When To Be Wary

We desire eagerly to know how you are, and whether the Lord has given you some rest, so far as in this world He can bestow it; for "if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it;" and so it is almost always our experience, that when, in the midst of our anxieties, we turn our thoughts to some of our brethren placed in a condition of comparative rest, we are in no small measure revived, as if in them we ourselves enjoyed a more peaceful and tranquil life. At the same time, when vexatious cares are multiplied in this uncertain life, they compel us to long for the everlasting rest. For this world is more dangerous to us in pleasant than in painful hours, and is to be guarded against more when it allures us to love it than when it warns and constrains us to despise it. For although "all that is in the world" is "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," nevertheless, even in the case of men who prefer to these the things which are spiritual, unseen, and eternal, the sweetness of earthly things insinuates itself into our affections, and accompanies our steps on the path of duty with its seductive allurements. For the violence with which present things acquire sway over our weakness is exactly proportioned to the superior value by which future things command our love. And oh that those who have learned to observe and bewail this may succeed in overcoming and escaping from this power of terrestrial things!

St. Augustine, Letter 145

Weird, huh? In other words, things could be way worse than they are right now. The world could be running smoothly, we might be getting all of our temporal desires fulfilled. To the detriment of our souls. When things are rough or we're being persecuted, that's when we realize that the stuff of the world is transient and that God is our true end in life.

Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Just Wages

In watching the union workers in Michigan protest a right to work law with a zeal that puts 99% of Christians to shame, I began thinking about the notion of a just wage and how that might help in a lot of these situations. Then it occurred to me that it might be impossible even to talk about a just wage these days.

John Medaille is a pretty popular writer in distributist circles. He defines the just wage as "the amount necessary to support a worker and his family, but also enough surplus to allow a man to acquire some capital of his own." In other places, like his book Toward a Truly Free Market and this entry of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, we see that leisure activities are factored into the equation of what it is to support a family. This makes sense.

I know that anecdotes are not data, but here's my current observations. Modernity has presented us with a society that values leisure to the exclusion of necessities, whether for a single person or a family. Parents with DirecTV don't take their kids to the doctor. Stylish cars and clothes trump much-needed house repairs. Saving for an Xbox 360 is given priority above buying healthy foods.

Look at all the crap that people buy, regardless of their income level. We can't help ourselves. Poor people aren't exempt from these temptations.

My point in all this is to ponder what a just wage would look like. What could we pay someone with confidence that they would be able to support themselves and be able to acquire capital of their own? Would the average consumer, or even those of the lowest income levels, allow themselves to benefit from a just wage? Or would they upgrade their TV package, get some new pipes for their pick-up, and buy some more memory for their video game system?

This is a pretty big deal, I think, especially for the distributist crowd. The just wage is such a huge part of making the system work that this question is significant. I don't pretend to know what the answer is. I do know that all the base political commentary about dealing with the current minimum wage ignores this.

I'm not sure how subsidizing the acquisition of more crap helps anybody.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Chesterton Discusses Santa Claus

There's an old saying attributed to St. Isidore of Seville that states "He who claims to have read all of (St.) Augustine's works is a liar." Or something like that. I think the same might be true for GK Chesterton. He wrote a lot of stuff. A whole lot.

One of his works is called "The Other Stocking" and contains the following tidbit. A thank you to Meg Matenaer at for initially posting about it. Anyways, here is our brother Gilbert's take on Santa:

What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.

As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good–far from it.

And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still.

I have merely extended the idea.

Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.

Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now, I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea.

Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Our Nation's Feast Day

Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God forbid! -- to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.

Blessed Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus

In a certain sense, today is the national feast day of the United States of America. Our patron saint is, after all, the Blessed Mother in her role as the Immaculate Conception. What a horrible irony that the national feast day commemorates the conception of Our Lady without sin, while we slaughter millions of newly conceived infants and then attempt to justify it by playing word games about their identity as human beings.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fire And Brimstone

Do you ever run into people who say they like their current church because they are so happy to be hearing preaching that is not just about "fire and brimstone"?

There seem to be a lot of them around here, Catholic and Protestant. When asked when was the last time they heard any such shpiel, they typically can't remember. Most will comment that "it's been years, though."

Am I right then that even one sermon/homily every 5+ years about the eternal penalty for sin is just too much?

I've seen episodes of Bishop Sheen where he talks about hell. I guess the 50s were just a much simpler time, which is weird to think of it as simple since people were clearly more capable of handling transcendent topics like the fate of their immortal soul. I know that, in all my years of watching them, I've certainly never heard Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, etc. that I've never heard the subject mentioned.

This goes to show you that the only space people regard as sacred anymore is their comfort zone.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another Big Deal: The New Motu Proprio

It's Intima Ecclesiae Natura (The Church's Deepest Nature) and is captioned as "On the Service of Charity."  haven't seen too much play in the media, but this is actually a pretty gargantuan undertaking. A lot of the Holy Father's reign has been to deal with this idea that the Church really only exists to tend to man's temporal wants and needs. While that might sound fine to the average modern Jesuit or LCWR delegate, it is secondary to the Church's true mission, which is the salvation of souls. He hit on this in Deus Caritas Est and then made it the theme of a whole encyclical with Caritas in Veritate. As is typical with the Magisterium these days, it takes a while for anyone to realize that nobody is paying attention to the teaching authority, meaning that mechanisms for dealing with the problem at the ground level have to be developed. We've all heard, for example, about stuff being done by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Now, how will this kind of abomination be handled?

That's what this motu proprio is about. Most of it is hung up on setting new provisions for Canon Law, so it's not exactly dynamic reading. There are a lot of cites and cross-references to the CIC, so make sure you bring some caffeine when you read it. It's not that long, though, and worth your time to be aware of how things will go from here on out. In a nutshell, the motu proprio lays out directives for how Catholic charitable institutions are to be governed, even if it's just by laypeople, and the relationships of said institutions with the bishops.

Let me hit the high points.

It is important, however, to keep in mind that “practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ." In carrying out their charitable activity, therefore, the various Catholic organizations should not limit themselves merely to collecting and distributing funds, but should show special concern for individuals in need and exercise a valuable educational function within the Christian community, helping people to appreciate the importance of sharing, respect and love in the spirit of the Gospel of Christ. The Church’s charitable activity at all levels must avoid the risk of becoming just another form of organized social assistance.

That noise you heard was probably the large mass of exploding heads as self-styled "progressive Catholics" read this paragraph. I'm not sure whether the average Catholic grasps the enormity of this. It's at the root of the LCWR, liberation theology, and every other movement that tries to camouflage their soul-murdering heresies with activities that could be found even in pagan societies. It's why universities like ND ultimately are failing in their outreach to the oppressed, since "fighting for justice" isn't the same thing as "fighting for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the triumph of His Church."

What does it profit a man to get a nice meal but wind up in hell because nobody bothered trying to show him the error of his ways?

Nevertheless, to the extent that such activities are promoted by the Hierarchy itself, or are explicitly supported by the authority of the Church’s Pastors, there is a need to ensure that they are managed in conformity with the demands of the Church’s teaching and the intentions of the faithful, and that they likewise respect the legitimate norms laid down by civil authorities.

Notice that the intentions of the faithful aren't the only consideration here. A lot of the faithful seem to forget that. I'm currently reading an excellent biography of Blessed Bartolo Longo, who renounced in favor of the Church his role in all the works he had founded and promoted. It was a difficult step for him to take, and he suffered much for it. Saints do that sort of thing, though. So should we, if that's what we want to become.

Now, for a few of the actual legislative bits:

The faithful have the right to join in associations and to establish agencies to carry out specific charitable services, especially on behalf of the poor and suffering. To the extent that these are linked to the charitable service of the Church’s Pastors and/or intend to use for this purpose contributions made by the faithful, they must submit their own Statutes for the approval of the competent ecclesiastical authority and comply with the following norms.

This is almost scary. The bishops will have to do their jobs. Thank goodness the episcopacy seems to be regaining their collective spine, even if just a little.

A charitable agency may use the name “Catholic” only with the written consent of the competent authority, as laid down by canon 300 CIC.


At the same time, the ecclesiastical authority must bear in mind its duty to regulate the exercise of the rights of the faithful in accordance with canons 223 § 2 CIC and 26 § 3 CCEO, and thus to avoid the proliferation of charitable initiatives to the detriment of their activity and effectiveness with regard to their stated goals.

This could make for some interesting situations. If we're taking for granted that the stated goals of these groups must include a focus on Church teaching and such, does this mean that the bishop can shut down initiatives that are getting in the way of this? That's what the linked section of the CIC seems to say, but I'm no canonist.

I'm going to skip Pope Benedict's Article 5 here for a moment.

The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.

Does this mean we can exclude the Nuns on the Bus?

To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life.

Prepare for a lot of lawsuits from people who want to flaunt their use of contraception, in vitro, abortion, etc. Not to mention getting canned for wacky ecumenical or liturgical abuses.

In particular, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that charitable agencies dependent upon him do not receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching. Similarly, lest scandal be given to the faithful, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that these charitable agencies do not accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching.

Does this include the United States government? The Democratic Party? That last sentence seems pretty clearly meant to address stuff like the aforementioned CCHD fiascoes.

The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name “Catholic” and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge.

We've already seen stuff like this happen, as in the case of Bishop Olmsted with the hospital in Arizona.

It is also the duty of the Bishop to ensure that the activities carried out in his Diocese are conducted in conformity with ecclesiastical discipline, either prohibiting them or adopting any measures needed in cases where that discipline is not respected.

Another hmmmm. Seems like a shot at the wayward orders, maybe.

Ok. Now, let's take a look at the article I skipped earlier.

The diocesan Bishop is to ensure that the Church enjoys the right to carry out charitable activities, and he is to take care that the faithful and the institutions under his supervision comply with the legitimate civil legislation in this area.

There are a lot of references to the civil authority scattered throughout the document. It seems to me that maybe Pope Benedict is looking to get out in front of some of the forthcoming upheaval wrought by the HHS mandate. Sure, there were plenty of reasons to issue this kind of legislation already, but I have to believe that the mandate was at least partially on his mind.

If the Supreme Court doesn't strike down the mandate as unconstitutional, then we'll see some epic legal battles, based on both secular and canon law, about what happens to all these Catholic institutions. They aren't all structured the same, so nobody can say for sure that things will work out in one particular fashion. However, this new motu proprio does stand to weigh things a little bit more on the bishops' side, especially from the standpoint of the CIC.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

One Can Hope

It's articles like this one that make me look fondly on the idea that all these Mayan 2012 doomsdayers are right.

No society has deserved to be destroyed as much as what passes for such in our current world.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Secular Mindsets

Earlier this month, we posted a bit about the terror that Catholicism instills in secularists and why their professed fears are really just absurdities. It's very easy to think that this fear is grounded solely on the fact that the Church lays out some behavioral standards that a lot of people just aren't willing to accept. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'll bet that far more people leave the Church due to their personal groin-centric issues than anything to do with the abuse scandal or a war on women. Is the "code of conduct" really the reason people are afraid of the Church, though?

There is an old cliche, one echoed many times throughout the realms of comics and sci-fi/fantasy, that people fear what they don't understand. I think this is precisely why secularists, including those within the Church, fear Her so much.

I think that the modern, secular mind cannot comprehend a religious view of the world, especially a Catholic one that includes the sort of submission to hierarchy like we see to the bishops and the Pope. Our society is one that promotes individual choice on everything from morality to convenience. Notions of the common good are fit in this mold as well (much to the apparent delight of Fr. Jenkins), with the path of least resistance held as sacrosanct, which is why abortion and contraception are so popular. That someone could submit their intellect and will to propositions that entail sacrifice and hardship, rather than ease and convenience, is unfathomable to the secularists.

Martyrdom has no place in such an ethos. When you hear people in the US praising a person who dies for a higher cause, what is that higher cause? Typically, they'll say freedom. Freedom basically translates to "license" in the modern vernacular. "He died so that we can live the way we want to live and do the things we want to do." Someone who dies for the directives of Divine Revelation are written off as barbaric. Naturally, I don't buy into Islam or the suicide bombings associated with its current incarnation, but the entire grasp of why the bombers do what they do seems to be lost on most Americans. It's far easier to just say they are primitive screw-heads than to figure out the mentality that makes one die for their god.

When the HHS mandate comes up in conversation, even Catholics will shrug their shoulders and wonder why it's such a big deal. Why would the Church in America choose this hill to die on? It's just some pills and some folks deciding not to have babies (or kill ones that they are having). "God said so" is not an adequate explanation because the person posing the question has either forgotten about God or remembers Him but doesn't care about His opinion all that much.

Protestants are actually somewhat better off from a social standpoint than we Catholics here. Public perception of Protestants is that they are still basically taking all this off of how they read the Bible (and the fact that they embrace contraception, so they've already got one foot in the secularist camp anyway). From the secularist perspective, that still is an operation of their individual choice. They read the Bible, their personal interpretation says that "x" is what they should live by, so they live by "x." Catholics don't have that luxury. We have human leaders in the form of the bishops and, of course, the Pope. The secularist ignores our free choice to follow these leaders and sees only bondage in our obedience. And so comes the horror.

What the secularist can't understand is the concept of Truth. Truth does not necessarily begin or end with one's choice or the satiation of one's groin, bank account, job, or whatever. In fact, denying such satisfaction is often demanded by Truth. That there is something above self, this is where the disconnect lies.

I'm reminded of the bit in Lord of the Rings where everyone is at Rivendell trying to decide what to do with the Ring. Taking it to Mordor with a small party like the Fellowship seems like madness at first. However, it's mentioned that Sauron would never look for the Ring in that kind of setting because he could never imagine someone wanting to destroy it. Why give up such power? The secularist can't imagine someone opting for the sort of submission of intellect and will called for by the religious mindset. Why give up such power, such autonomy? Why give up the ability to be like God?

[Y]our eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods

Genesis 3:5

Yeah, why would anyone give that up?

Friday, November 23, 2012

St. Augustine And Rorschach

Another thought from St. Augustine. This one regards the recent election

For I am aware that your Excellency has to encounter the most determined opposition from certain persons, who think, or would have others think, that Christian doctrine is incompatible with the welfare of the commonwealth, because they wish to see the commonwealth established not by the steadfast practice of virtue, but by granting impunity to vice. But with God the crimes in which many are banded together do not pass unavenged, as is often the case with a king, or any other magistrate who is only a man. Moreover, His mercy and grace, published to men by Christ, who is Himself man, and imparted to man by the same Christ, who is also God and the Son of God, never fail those who live by faith in Him and piously worship Him, in adversity patiently and bravely bearing the trials of this life, in prosperity using with self-control and with compassion for others the good things of this life; destined to receive, for faithfulness in both conditions, an eternal recompense in that divine and heavenly city in which there shall be no longer calamity to be painfully endured, nor inordinate desire to be with laborious care controlled, where our only work shall be to preserve, without any difficulty and with perfect liberty, our love to God and to our neighbour.

St. Augustine, Letter 137

When was the last time we heard Christianity described as the enemy of or a detriment to the State? Oh, yeah, pretty much every day for the last year or so, but especially in the last couple of weeks. This makes for another good example of how there's nothing new under the sun. Augustine saw a society that sought freedom by the destruction of virtue and the exaltation of vice. Whether it's killing babies, self-sterilization, legitimizing homosexual relationships, degrading the working man/defrauding him of his wages, we've pretty much made vice into an art. Not only that, but we give the prophets of these evils their own forums for promoting their filth (thanks to Haskovec for this lead).

When I read St. Augustine's comments and think about how things these days are so horrible, I'm reminded of why I'm so happy that God is God. Just imagine a more, shall we say, pragmatic deity, as might be described by Rorschach (a character from Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen and possibly the greatest literary character ever created):

The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "No."

Yeah, Rorschach wasn't into the whole "grace and mercy" scene. Lucky for us, God is.

Everyone needs to take Augustine's advice to heart, though. We aren't abandoned. All of this is just another part of Providence. The worst thing anybody can do is succumb to despair. Even Rorschach admitted as much.

Nothing is hopeless...Not while there's life.

And he's not even counting the benefits of Divine Life either.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Church And State

Just a thought from someone way smarter than me:

Here also is security for the welfare and renown of a commonwealth; for no state is perfectly established and preserved otherwise than on the foundation and by the bond of faith and of firm concord, when the highest and truest common good, namely, God, is loved by all, and men love each other in Him without dissimulation, because they love one another for His sake from whom they cannot disguise the real character of their love.

St. Augustine, Letter 137

Modernity finds this premise one of the most repugnant ever expressed.

However, one must wonder a bit. How many otherwise faithful Catholics would agree? How many would consider Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists to carry more authority than the Doctor of Grace (not to mention the multitude of other Fathers, Doctors, Saints, and Popes who have said likewise)?

Neither Jefferson, the Supreme Court, nor the Constitution itself, are magisterial. It amazes me how many think of them that way. Many think separation of church and state is a more sacrosanct idea than the Social Kingship of Christ. What a wretched age we live in.

Anglicans Reject Women Bishops. Again.

And Archlayman Justin isn't happy about it. We had mentioned earlier about how this was something he was going to push for. Maybe he expected that the Anglican hierarchy was exhausted with this issue and that he'd win in a walk. Whatever he thought, he's starting over from scratch now.

Let's look at the Daily Mail's bullet points for this story:

Senior bishops want to bring in professionals to sort out the chaos


My head is exploding from the enormous influx of jokes that can be made about that one sentence.

Church leaders have warned a fresh vote on the issue may not be possible before 2015, with changes not coming in until 2020

People, it's been 500 years. You've made it this long without women playing Bishop Barbie. Is another 3-8 years really going to make that much of a difference?

Cameron says the Church is at risk of looking dangerously out of touch

Well hell, if David Cameron said so, then it must be true! Just who does he think the Anglicans will be out of touch with by not doing this? The entire Global South contingent of the Anglican Communion? Catholics? The Orthodox? Sane people?

Right Reverend Justin Welby, called it a 'very grim day'

Sorry, Justin. I don't know what your expectations were, but I've got to say that this total and utter humiliation right out of the gate is so pathetic that it appears Rowanesque in its ineptitude.

And that was just the bullet points. Check out these other items:

Bishop Welby, who had a career in business before being ordained, is likely to acquiesce after warnings that the row could lead to the disestablishment of the Church, according to The Times.

David Cameron yesterday warned the Church of England to think again about its ‘very sad’ rejection of women bishops, as MPs called for Parliament to intervene directly.

Did you see that? Holy smokes! Henry must be rolling over in his grave! People are actually willing to disestablish the Anglicans over this. Parliament wants to get involved to force the issue. I would ask if things could get more bizarre than that, but given this is the Anglicans that we're talking about, I know the answer already.

Bringing in "professional mediators" (often translated as "lawyers") will, I'm sure, help out immensely. After all, isn't that what the Apostles did in Acts 15 to sort out their differences with the Judaizers? And who can forget Pope Leo the Great bringing in the attorneys to help reconcile the Church's position with that of the monophysites at Chalcedon? Yes, there is a deep tradition of junking orthodoxy for lawyer-forged compromise.

The Death March continues

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Book Recommendation: Come Rack! Come Rope!

Come Rack! Come Rope! is a work of historical fiction by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson. Msgr. Benson had the distinction of being the son of Edward Benson, who was Archlayman of Canterbury from 1883 to 1896. It must have been a terrible scandal when Robert converted to popery but convert he did in 1903 at the age of 32. In this book, he gives an account of the recusant experience of Catholics during the reign of the genocidal usurper, Elizabeth I.

In an age of Cate Blanchett movies and other hagiographical references to "Good Queen Bess," it's probably a shock to a lot of folks to learn how blood-drenched England was while she was in power. This book does an excellent job of showing what our ancestors in Faith had to endure at the hands of Her Majesty and the rapist, murdering psychos she kept as pets (such as Richard Topcliffe, who features prominently in the story).

Other than correcting the historical whitewash of Liz's reputation, the book serves a couple of other purposes.

1. It shows what measures can be used to compel Catholics to abandon the Church. These can be financial pressures or outright torture. We should be familiar with both of these. The former is being experimented with now in the United States. The latter has been used in some of our neighboring countries (eg- Mexico) not that long ago. Who knows what the future holds here?

2. It demonstrates the lengths Catholics went to in order to preserve the Faith. A couple of saints even make appearances to be sure that we're paying attention. Needless to say, there was a tremendous amount of suffering just to attend Mass. Or, if you were a priest, just to offer Mass. The lack of priests was used as a weapon to drive the believers into despair. One can only imagine the psychological torment, but it's not necessary. Benson paints it in graphic tones.

3. It enhances the awareness of what will happen when everyone isn't faithful. The remnant will be betrayed by their "friends" and family members. They are destroyed by those closest to them and even the smallest act of kindness can result in exposure and condemnation.

I'm not going to say that Msgr. Benson is a fantastic writer. He sometimes tends to redundancy, and his dialogue can be choppy and vague at times. However, when he turns his attention from the actions and plot and focused on the longing of the people for the return of the Faith, he shines very, very brightly. He paints the picture of what was and what should have been so eloquently that the reader can feel his pain from England's wholesale turn to heresy and schism. Praise God that he was spared from seeing the modern wreck of Anglicanism.

Anyway, when the story hardens around the "why" of recusant suffering, you will begin to see what I mean.

I will conclude with a warning and a secondary recommendation. The warning is this: the last pages of this book are the most heart-wrenching literature I've ever read. So there, now you know.

When you are done with this, move on to Msgr. Benson's Lord of the World. Then meditate on current events with both of these works in mind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A New Evangelization For Anglicanism

We've already talked about Rowan's successor as the Archlayman of Canterbury and the tremendous legacy of incompetence that he has to live down to. Somehow, we find ourselves in a tremendous disagreement with someone in the episcopacy over (a) the role of the current Spawn of Cranmer, (b) the identity of Anglicanism vis a vis Catholicism, and (b-1) Rowan's tenure as Archlayman.

The comments come from Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham (England, not Alabama) by way of Zenit. Let's take a look at what was said:

Archbishop Bernard Longley said: "I am delighted to hear the good news for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion that Bishop Justin Welby has been appointed Archbishop of Canterbury."

Ok, isn't it time that we come up with an alternate title for these guys? They aren't even bishops, much less archbishops, of anything. Moreover, even if they were bishops, they have zero right to being called the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Successor of St. Augustine. These are Catholic stations by right. This man is a heretical, schismatic usurper, who by the very nature of his continued pretendership is complicit in the theft of Church property. Call the guy "Reverend" or "Hey, dude" or something else. Don't play into the utter fabrication that he has any clerical status or jurisdiction.

"This will be good news too for Anglican-Roman Catholic relations, nationally and internationally, as the new Archbishop builds on the strong commitment and ecumenical legacy of Archbishop Rowan Williams."

By this, does he mean Rowan's efforts in allowing the Anglican Communion to so thoroughly destroy itself that its members sought refuge in the Barque of Peter? If that's the case, I wholeheartedly agree with him. Rowan might therefore be considered as one of the greatest ecumenists of the last century. This is why I listed the "Rowan's legacy" item as a (b-1). I'm not sure if this is a disagreement or not.

The Archbishop of Birmingham emphasised: "In Bishop Welby it will be good to have a strong ally in the work of evangelization that lies ahead of all the churches, especially during the Year of Faith when the Catholic Church is seeking an evangelization that is 'new in its ardour, methods and expression'".

Umm, ok. Should someone bring up that Anglicans lack the True Faith and therefore are opponents in a real evangelization? This is the same guy who recently said he was going all-in for women bishops. This is someone who is going to help with evangelization?

What is meant here by "all the churches"? Considering that the Church of England isn't even a church, this is a weird statement. 

I'm not sure what Archbishop Longley was trying to say. Maybe he was just trying to be nice. Holy smokes, though, there's a line between being nice and overboard.

Notice what Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church wrote to Mr. Welby:

Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole. 

Sure, he calls the guy a bishop too, but does it appear all that difficult to define things in terms of the problems, rather than some illusory contribution to evangelization that, by definition, isn't going to happen? Talking about what we agree on, which is precious little these days, wastes everybody's time and makes it easy to put real issues on the back burner. I understand that Archbishop Longley is part of ARCIC, so he might feel pressured to moderate his tone somewhat, but there's no need to pretend that it's all roses and rainbows either.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fear Of A Catholic Planet

One of the more amazing narratives that has emerged in the post-election media blitz is of the intense, pervading terror that seems to have driven so many of the Obama supporters to the polls. Most of you know that I hang around the NDNation message boards here. It's been quite striking to follow the whole shpiel being offered for why the Republican candidate lost the election and why the entire party is finished at the national level.

Let me begin by saying that I don't identify myself as a Republican and haven't for quite a long time. This has far less to do with being a Republican as it does to demonstrate how believers are regarded by the public at large.

It is now apparently a commonplace view to be absolutely terrified of Christian voters. They are crazies and loons. They are intolerant and theocratic. They are anti-science extremists, worthy of being mentioned with white supremacist groups. They are screeching bigots. They are the knuckle-dragging American version of the Taliban. I quote from a variety of sources here, but if you really want to be depressed, you can also read the comment section from any mainstream site. Try CNN, for example.

So we must ask ourselves, what are these folks actually afraid of? If you believe their own statements, their list of nightmares include things like Six Days Creationism being mandated in public school curricula, contraceptives are banned, and homosexuality is a capital offense, as well as unbelief in general.

Of course, these weren't the only reasons for their political leanings. However, since many are practically begging for a re-alignment of the Republican Party that would exclude religious voters, it's safe to say that it factored at least a bit. As far as this goes, it's nothing to be shocked about. For people to want their political enemies to be weakened is nothing new. Hell, it's not like we're happy about their existence. Let's take a look at a different angle here, though.

When these individuals say they are afraid, are they being rational? To begin, consider the focus on evangelicals. The word "evangelical" is basically bereft of meaning now, except in the media lexicon of "religious Protestant who votes for Republicans." Second, when was the last time you heard anybody fitting this description as looking to deny woman access to contraceptives? Right away, we can see that there are some shenanigans going on with how the argument is being framed. I submit that Catholics are the real bogeymen here because it's the only way to get contraceptives into the argument. And make no mistake, contraceptives are the big prize here. More people are invested, so more people are afraid. The Church, naturally, is the only party engaged on this front. Painting evangelicals with the brush is just to benefit from the aforementioned loaded term of "evangelical." Aside from that, knowing that the Church will never give way here, there is a perpetual opponent to focus on.

Anyways, engage in the thought experiment where religious folk suddenly controlled the White House and both Houses of Congress. What are the actual odds that any of the above-listed legislative platforms be engaged? Contraceptives? They don't even matter to the evangelical wing and Catholics are too split on the issue to care. The odds of faithful Catholics occupying this level of office to this degree is about as likely as the Kardashian sisters entering a convent.

Six Dayism? How? Considering just about every Republican candidate this time around wanted to liquidate the Department of Education, it's tough to imagine there would be anything associated with a national policy on this front. Not to mention, of course, that so-called "evangelicals" are hardly monolithic on this issue and Catholics really don't care. Facing that reality would spoil the narrative, so it has to be maintained despite its stupidity.

Finally, is it rational to think that homosexuals or unbelievers of any kind will be actually persecuted by an evangelical or Catholic majority? That Cardinal Burke, Ralph Reed, Bishop Jenky, James Dobson, Billy/Franklin Graham or whoever would condone these kinds of actions? I suggest that people willing to buy into the narrative at this fork are unhinged.

That being said, let's consider the flip side of this situation. Do the religious have any reasons to fear the rise of a secular government?

Well, I think it goes without saying that this is far more likely to occur than any kind of Catholic or evangelical majority.

What specific items should we be afraid of? Other than the HHS mandate which will shut down every Catholic institution from schools to hospitals, the demand for taxpayer-funded abortion in the Democratic platform, judges considering forcing Catholics to have abortions, federal grant funding being made contingent on providing abortion services, the Vice-President of the United States imposing a litmus test-that-isn't on Supreme Court judges, bishops being threatened with IRS investigations, and a host of other items, I'd say that our fears are much more rational and grounded in reality since, you know,


The hilarity of all this is how the secularists can watch all this happening and pat themselves on the back for having "tolerance" as their trademark position. Go back and read some of the articles I linked to, like this one. Not only do they see nothing wrong, they promote the idea that anyone with religious beliefs must be naturally subservient to the secular. And we should thank them for their magnaminity.

Yes, friends. What is truly needed is a government purged of all religious influence and founded solely on secular values like Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. That's worked well in the past.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rowan's Successor

The new Archlayman of Canterbury will be Justin Welby. Despite what Rocco Palma says, Mr. Welby will not be occupying the chair of St. Augustine, but rather the Chair of Thomas Cranmer. Hey, at least Cranmer was a real bishop. Justin is just a guy playing dress-up.

What can we expect? It's almost unfathomable to think that he could be as incompetent as Rowan has been. Looking at the statements from Whispers, he claims to be a big fan of Rerum Novarum, as well as Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality. I'm going to guess that his admiration for Pope Leo's work somehow translates into the version of "social justice" that we're used to hearing about from liberation theologians and the LCWR. I could be wrong, but I haven't seen anything Catholic that couldn't be screwed up in spades by the Usurper's spiritual progeny.

Let's give him credit for something, though. He's all-in for women's bishops, instead of just maintaining perpetual wobbliness on the issue as was Rowan's habit.

At the same time, not all the appointee's initial comments will make things easy across the Tiber. Welby signaled full speed ahead on the Church of England's long-simmering proposal to ordain women bishops, announcing that he will vote in favor of the plan at this month's General Synod.

What is Rocco talking about here? Seems like it will make things a lot easier. The more the Anglicans drop the facade that they're actually interested in anything resembling the True Faith, the easier it becomes to call them out for their heresy and schism. It also becomes way easier for any of the confused folk in the pews to realize that the shambling corpse of the Anglican Communion is animated more by shared stationary and letterhead moreso than shared faith. This will enable them to get a grip on reality and take advantage of the Anglicanorum Coetibus offer.

I can't come up with a downside here.

The Barque of Henry rolls ever on. Straight to the bottom.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Anybody Out There?

Sorry about that hiatus. You'll just have to take my word for it that it was necessary. Just yet another example of our collective need to submit to Providence no matter what the circumstances might be.

Which brings me to my point, given what is going to happen November 6.

If I was a betting man, I'd wager that Obama is going to win. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth over this, but it will be for naught. In the spirit of what I wrote above, it seems to me that we should all focus on a couple of things.

1. Regardless of who wins, what is happening to the Church won't change much. Sure, the timetable might look different if Romney wins, but outside of that, we should all expect for Catholicism increasingly to be mocked, attacked, and isolated from what are regarded as mainstream values.

2. At some point, things stop getting better. Even if now isn't that time, and things just get worse for a while, how are we to complain? Our forerunners had to deal with Nero, Domitian, Decius, Diocletian, Julian, the rise of Islam, the Reconquista, Elizabeth I, the French Revolution, the Bolsheviks, the Cristiada, and so forth. Are we somehow better than them that we should be spared the same travails?

Regardless of what happens, God will bring forth some good, as He already has in the form of bishops developing a spine and Catholics waking up to political reality and the consequences of surrendering the Faith as surely as the traditors gave up the Sacred Scriptures.

3. Everything of the now is temporary. Eternal life is where it's at. Frequent the sacraments. Keep yourself and your family in a state of grace.

4. God is on top of things.

Easier said than done, right? Like I said, these are items to focus on, but being human, we'll slip up. Still, worthwhile items, I think, in light of folks' natural inclination let their passions get the better of them when things don't go their way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Confirmed- Bishop Williamson Is Out

Rorate has the story.

Sad. I don't think anyone would be surprised if he went full-bore sede at this point. If you're at all familiar with his comments the last couple of years, he sounds like he's been there for a while without having made a formal declaration. Of course, he'll take many souls down this path with him. Read the Rorate comments. That so many Catholics would take pleasure in a bishop flaunting the virtue of obedience is repulsive.

All the more reason to pray.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

SSPX News- +Williamson out?

If you want to know where the talks are, you can check out Rorate and the interview with Fr. Pfluger. In a nutshell, things are back to "square one." Damn shame.

All of that pales in comparison to this report I saw from Tancred wherein it appears that Bishop Williamson and the SSPX are about to split.

The break, indicated since October 2011 between Bishop Richard Williamson and the Society of St. Pius X has come to an end phase. The General Superior of the Society of St. Pius X, Bernard Fellay, should have issued an ultimatum to his English colleague in the office of Bishop. With the document he demanded that Msgr. Williason, within ten days, accept the legitimate authority of the General Superior. This was reported by Andrea Tornielli. Should Bishop Williamson continue to maintain his disobedience,separation would be the logical consequence.

Less trustworthy sources are indicating that Bishop Williamson is already gone. This is all very weird. I remember all the wailing and gnashing of teeth during the talks about Bishop Fellay opting for reconciliation and how it would fracture the SSPX, with +Williamson leading the exodus. Since then, we are back to the aforementioned square one, and the latter is still failing to acknowledge the fact that the former is his Superior.

How many saints have praised the virtue of humility as the bulwark of all the other virtues? When was the last time we saw +Williamson exhibit this virtue?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Church In Italy Is To Be Taxed

The Telegraph has the latest story, which we had initially discussed here back in February. Nothing too surprising. Just another element of the Church vs. the World.

The Church currently pays tax on several properties it owns that are commercial enterprises but is exempt if at least some of the activities on the property are "non-commercial" - for example a chapel in a hotel.

"The regulatory framework will be definite by January 1, 2013 - the start of the fiscal year - and will fully respect the (European) Community law," Prime Minister Mario Monti's government said in a statement late Tuesday.

In February, the government had amended Italy's property tax law to end the Church's privileges amid rising calls for the Vatican to share in debt crisis sacrifices and in the face of intense scrutiny from the European Commission.

On Monday the Council of State, Italy's highest ranking court for administrative litigation, rejected the decree. But the government insisted everyone would pay property tax, Church included.

I'm sure President Obama, et al are taking notes. What will happen if the Church can't maintain all its charitable enterprises as a result of this new financial burden? Do you think that the EU cares?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vatican II's Real Birthday

What most folks don't realize is that, while Blessed John XXIII did formally open the Council on October 11, 1962, the initial working session was October 13. On that day, the whole thing came unraveled. You can read the full account of what happened at our prior posts here and here.

The gentleman in the picture above could probably be regarded as the Godfather of the Spirit of Vatican II. He's Cardinal Achille Lienart of France. Most folks don't understand how Blessed John's original vision of the Council was shattered, largely thanks to this guy and his allies. As mentioned previously, the whole story is above, but for those looking for the nutshell version, a group of prelates, mostly from the Rhine area of Europe, essentially desired to change the Church's teachings on a plethora or issues. They knew that they would be unable to do so. With that in mind, they met in advance of the Council and formed a plan to overthrow all of the initial preparatory work initiated by Pope John.

In a blatant violation of the Council's rules of order, Cardinal Lienart took the microphone and demanded that all of the individual schema commissions be revisited and that new members of each commission be appointed. This was quickly seconded by Cardinal Frings and enough bishops followed along to pass the motion. The Rhine group block voted their way to power on the commissions, meaning they controlled the draft language to be submitted to the approving votes by the bishops as a whole. The plan at this point called for obfuscation and ambiguity so that, in the words of Dutch theologian Ed Schillebeecx:

We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.

Hence the Spirit of Vatican II was born.

This is all very important, though. There is a tendency to claim that the documents of Vatican II have nothing to do with the current crisis and that the "Spirit" promoted by the current crop of modernists is somehow a total fabrication. What we know from the actual conciliar events is that the documents are indeed part of the problem because they were drafted with the purpose of muddying the waters and making the "Spirit" defensible to the masses. Does this mean that the entirety of Vatican II is somehow bad or that there is no orthodox reading thereof? No. It means that the difficulties we've had with the interpretation of the Council was intentional and, as a result, we should be cautious in reading it.

Moreover, it calls us to focus on the fact that Vatican II lacks dogmatic character and infallible content except in the cases when it repeats content previously identified as infallible. If we were being objective, we'd have to acknowledge that VII is on the bottom rung for ecumenical council importance.  Yet somehow it is heralded by some as a "New Pentecost" and other such superlative titles. This is the perception fostered by the re-interpreters who must de-emphasize what came before and exalt what they are using as the foundation of their novelties.

There's been a lot of work done to fix all this, but the genie doesn't go back in the bottle so easily. For anyone reading the documents on their own, we can only recommend sticking to the text and considering the footnotes. If you think something sounds hope-and-changeish, consider why you think that and what other interpretation might be possible.

What are we left with at the moment? We are left with the inescapable conclusion that the Council is a failure. Sure, you can always point to some undefined period in the future when we'll all look back at the now and laugh because the conciliar fruit is so awesome. Until then, all we have seen is an enormous loss of faith, withering vocations, disco liturgy, etc. A good synopsis was furnished by Kenneth Jones back in 2003. And he's an ND grad.

Anyways, what makes the Vatican II situation so unique is that the content of the Faith and its attending disciplines are painted as their opposites. Nobody has ever said that Nicea said that Jesus wasn't of the same substance as the Father. Or that Chalcedon said Christ wasn't Divine. With Vatican II, you have folks saying the Council said things like:

1. Any religion can save you.
2. Latin should not be the language of the liturgy.
3. The Mass is just a communal meal.
4. Lay folk are the same as priests.
5. Personal conscience dictates morality.

These are the exact opposites of Catholic teachings. This is completely different from anything we've faced before. We know how it happened. The question is whether or not the "decomposition of Catholicism," as Fr. Bouyer called it, that was wrought in the post-conciliar era will be reversed anytime soon.

Not necessarily.

Luke 18:8

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

50 Years Later

No, we aren't going to talk about Vatican II. We'll talk about the opening of the Council on the day the Council really opened.

That wasn't today, no matter what folks want to remember.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 11

Picking up where we left off, we continue with the specific things that are actually brought up for revision by the liturgical constitution. Of course, none of these things call for a whole new Mass.

Both the rites for the baptism of adults are to be revised: not only the simpler rite, but also the more solemn one, which must take into account the restored catechumenate. A special Mass "for the conferring of baptism" is to be inserted into the Roman Missal.

Recall that the catechumenate was discussed here.

The rite for the baptism of infants is to be revised, and it should be adapted to the circumstance that those to be baptized are, in fact, infants. The roles of parents and godparents, and also their duties, should be brought out more clearly in the rite itself.

The baptismal rite should contain variants, to be used at the discretion of the local ordinary, for occasions when a very large number are to be baptized together. Moreover, a shorter rite is to be drawn up, especially for mission lands, to be used by catechists, but also by the faithful in general when there is danger of death, and neither priest nor deacon is available.

In place of the rite called the "Order of supplying what was omitted in the baptism of an infant," a new rite is to be drawn up. This should manifest more fittingly and clearly that the infant, baptized by the short rite, has already been received into the Church.

Notice that baptism is still considered a big deal, unlike today when you can go to an RCIA class and be told that baptism isn't really that big of a deal and that it's a shame that we still baptize babies. Even though Vatican II thought enough about it to mention explicitly a new rite for infants.

And a new rite is to be drawn up for converts who have already been validly baptized; it should indicate that they are now admitted to communion with the Church.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! What is this? Let me get this straight. There needs to be a new rite for folks already baptized. Why? To show that now they are admitted to Communion with the Church. Now, meaning, after they become Catholic, right? Which would mean that before they are Catholic, they excluded from communion with the Church. Right? Maybe someone should tell folks like Fr. McBrien about this, since he clearly thinks this is the sort of badness that Vatican II addressed (allegedly).

Except during Eastertide, baptismal water may be blessed within the rite of baptism itself by an approved shorter formula.

The rite of confirmation is to be revised and the intimate connection which this sacrament has with the whole of Christian initiation is to be more clearly set forth; for this reason it is fitting for candidates to renew their baptismal promises just before they are confirmed.

Confirmation may be given within the Mass when convenient; when it is given outside the Mass, the rite that is used should be introduced by a formula to be drawn up for this purpose.

I think it's pretty safe to say that if the new rite of Confirmation was help clarify what the sacrament is and does that it has been a colossal failure. How many times have you heard about Confirmation as the sacrament of "mature commitment" or some other such nonsense? I'm sure that would come as a surprise to Karl and our other Eastern brethren who confirm/chrismate infants. Either the rite failed miserably in its stated purpose or only about 1 in every 100 Catholics actually pay attention to what is going on, which would also, I think, be an indictment of the new rite.

The rite and formulas for the sacrament of penance are to be revised so that they more clearly express both the nature and effect of the sacrament.

Ditto what I wrote about Confirmation. If it were otherwise, one would expect the lines for confession to be much, much longer. Or just existent, for that matter.

"Extreme unction," which may also and more fittingly be called "anointing of the sick," is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as any one of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.

I know a lot of folks who really get in a twist about this part, but like with so many other things, I think they are usually thrown off by how it's been implemented rather than what the constitution actually says.

Note that it still requires that there be a danger of death, albeit not necessarily imminent. In other words, the wholesale provision of this sacrament to the masses isn't what was envisioned. If this wasn't the case, why would it indicate that the name "extreme unction" is still an appropriate name for the sacrament? True, "anointing of the sick" might be more fitting, but if it can also be called "extreme unction," doesn't that mean that there should be some, you know, extremeness going on?

In addition to the separate rites for anointing of the sick and for viaticum, a continuous rite shall be prepared according to which the sick man is anointed after he has made his confession and before he receives viaticum.

The number of the anointings is to be adapted to the occasion, and the prayers which belong to the rite of anointing are to be revised so as to correspond with the varying conditions of the sick who receive the sacrament.

This was just asking for trouble. Putting in the possibility of variation is a recipe for abuse, especially when left as vague as this. If someone might die, isn't that all you need? I'm reminded of a bit from A Few Good Men. Jack Nicholson is asked if the deceased Marine was in "grave danger." His response: Is there any other kind?

I will say this. At least they didn't mention that the new rite of anointing was supposed to clarify what was happening or the purpose of the sacrament. If they had, it would have been yet another epic fail, since the new rite de-emphasizes the principle goal of the sacrament, namely, to heal the soul from sin and prepare it for death.

Both the ceremonies and texts of the ordination rites are to be revised. The address given by the bishop at the beginning of each ordination or consecration may be in the mother tongue.

When a bishop is consecrated, the laying of hands may be done by all the bishops present.

By "revised," they must have meant "eviscerated" if you look at what actually happened. Let me be clear that I think the new rite of ordination is absolutely valid. Look at what it says, though, or perhaps doesn't say. Multiple references to the sacrificial aspect of the priesthood are gone, along with those relating to absolution of sins. I highly recommend Michael Davies's book The Order of Melchisedech on this point. The differences are quite shocking.

Next up: Marriage (to be cont.)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Prayer For Parishioners By Parishioners

Something for us all to remember, courtesy of Rorate:

Prayer of a Parishioner 

Thank you, Lord, for the shortcomings of our Priests! If they did not have them, they would not be able to understand our own weaknesses.

I forgot that, when outside, they must greet everyone. I also forgot that they always have to welcome others with a smile on their lips, even when they are somewhat dead inside.

I ask you, Lord, that I may practice charity with our Priests, that I may understand that I have only one Priest to suffer, while he has to suffer us all.

And who would ever want to put up with all of us?

Saturday, October 6, 2012


So the Pope's butler has been sentenced to an 18 month prison term for his role in the whole Vatican leaks "scandal." Take a look at these comments:

Before the verdict was announced, Gabriele, wearing a dark gray suit, a white shirt, and a blue tie, insisted he was not a thief and that he had acted out of concern for the Catholic church and the pontiff.

“What I feel strongly inside me, is the conviction of having acted out of exclusive and visceral love for Jesus’ church, and for his visible leader. I repeat, I don’t feel like a thief,” he told the tribunal.

Arru (the defense attorney) had argued there was no theft, as Gabriele photocopied the documents and did not remove the originals.

She said he was driven by his faith, high morals and by motives that she hoped one day would be “recognized and rewarded” as he was pushed to do what he did by the “evil” he saw around him.

Reflect on that a bit and on some of the other things that we've reported on this incident and the Curial hijinks brought to light recently. Now, consider this report from the Telegraph:

Officers from the Vatican Gendarmerie found thousands of papers when they raided Paolo Gabriele’s apartment on May 23, acting on suspicions that he was the mole who had leaked highly compromising material to an Italian investigative journalist, who published it in a book.
The massive haul showed that Mr Gabriele had a keen interest in secret services, espionage, the occult, scandals involving the Vatican bank and the P2, a shadowy Masonic lodge whose members included prominent Italian politicians.

The encoded documents were sent from the Vatican Secretariat of State to papal nuncios, or ambassadors, around the world.

There are other claims, including that some of the documents had been marked for destruction. Oh, and allegedly these reference stuff far enough back that even Roberto Calvi is mentioned.

The point is that you've got a guy, who by all accounts seems very loyal to the Holy Father. This man is going to prison, still claiming that what he did was for the Pope and the Church. The contents of the documents he was copying showed where his main interests were. It stands to reason then that there were lots of documents actually referring to these topics. It's also fair to assume, I think, that these are the things that Mr. Gabriele felt were so dangerous to the Pope and the Church.

Recall that, sometimes, there really is a conspiracy, then draw your own conclusions.