"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Précis of the Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality and Homosexual Acts

Jan 8, 2013

By Mark S. Latkovic, S.T.D.

The Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality is one rooted in what philosophers call natural law, but also illuminated by divine revelation. This means that the Church understands her teaching to be grounded in those truths that unaided human reason can affirm about the nature and purpose of human sexuality, but that what God has revealed in both Sacred Scripture and Tradition on the matter provides additional light.

The ends and purposes of marriage and sex

According to the Magisterium of the Church, the basic ends or purposes of marriage and sexuality are twofold: union and procreation. By the “unitive” end, she means the one-flesh bodily union of the couple, made possible by the complementary character of the male and female gender difference. By the “procreative” end, she means the openness to life-in-its-transmission, made possible by the complementary character of the male and female bodies with their sexual capacity.

In Catholic teaching, only the union between a man and woman can realize the full spiritual, emotional, and moral bond between the couple. As well, only the male-female coupling can realize the end of the generation of new human life. This remains true even if the act of sexual intercourse is made sterile either by nature or by human interference, or if artificial means of producing life are substituted for sexual intercourse (e.g., IVF).

The moral difference between homosexual and heterosexual sex acts

Official Catholic moral teaching holds that while the same-sex attraction or inclination is not in itself sinful, the inclination considered anthropologically is an “objective disorder.” By this expression, the Church does not mean that the person who calls himself or herself gay or lesbian is disordered, but that the homosexual orientation (whatever its origin) is so because it inclines one to engage in acts that can only be intrinsically immoral (and therefore harmful on many levels) for the one who performs them.

Hence, not all sex acts are morally good. For human sexual expression to be morally good, various criteria must be met:
It must take place between one man and one woman who are committed to each other in marriage (excluding all others in both fact and fantasy).
It must be open to new life (no contraception/direct sterilization). Even when heterosexual married persons are by nature unable to achieve the procreative end (e.g., they are infertile due to disease or old age), they still may remain capable of engaging in acts of a “reproductive kind.” Thus, married couples need neither to be able to procreate nor intend to do so; they must simply be open to its possibility, doing nothing to impede life-in-its-coming-to-be. In a word, they must engage in sexual intercourse as spouses.

No unjust discrimination

The Church proposes sound reasons for her teaching that men and women of the same-sex cannot rightly marry or engage in sexual activity. Her teaching has nothing to do then with any kind of animus toward people with a same-sex attraction or a desire to discriminate against them. It is far removed from any kind of singling out for condemnation or scorn, those persons who find themselves with a sexual attraction to the same sex. Rather, the Church looks with compassion on such persons because she understands that this attraction can either prevent or disable a person for an opposite-sex-relationship that is oriented to the formation of a family.

Marriage simply does not include in its definition the wedded union of same-sex partners. That is, “gay marriage” is, by nature, an oxymoron since these persons are unable to achieve the ends and goods of marriage/sexuality – i.e., marital friendship and fruitfulness – as homosexuals.

A teaching confirmed by Scripture and Tradition

Not only does the natural law undermine any claim that homosexual acts are morally good, but the Scriptural witness – both Old and New Testament – unanimously confirms this conclusion in several passages. A classic text confirming this judgment for Catholics is St. Paul’s teaching in Romans 1:26-27, where the Apostle condemns how males and females gave up “natural relations” with each other in exchange for “unnatural” same-sex genital relations.

The Biblical testimony regarding the immorality of homosexual acts is taken up by the Church Fathers and taught consistently by the entire Tradition of the Church. These acts (often called “sodomy”) are taught as morally wrong for (1) contradicting God’s Word in the Scriptures; (2) being “unnatural”; and (3) violating the natural moral law.

Political pressure and pastoral response

Although there is great political and cultural pressure being brought to bear on the Catholic Church today to change her teaching in favor of homosexuality, the Church maintains that she is called to take to heart the old admonition, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” She does not regard herself at liberty to change her teaching to suit the times or political correctness. She is the interpreter and guardian of both divine revelation and natural law, a custodian of the wisdom of these two sources of doctrine.

The Church therefore calls all men and women, whatever their vocation or sexual orientation, to a life of holiness – and that includes the virtue of chastity. She knows that only a chaste sexual life will help lead human persons to fulfillment and true happiness in this life and the next. The virtue of chastity, far from constituting a “no” to sex, enables its possessors to love others in ways that respect their particular vocational situation as single, married, celibate priest or religious, and so on.


When the Catholic Church teaches the immorality of homosexual acts, she is not preaching hate or denying anyone’s rights. Rather, she is telling the truth in love, hoping that her message will set all men and women free from their disordered passions, sexual or whatever. For the Church to say otherwise would be a refusal to recognize what reality and reason teach us about the fundamental goods of marriage and sex. This is why the Church will forever defend the truth that marriage is between one man and one woman, for life.
Mark S. Latkovic, S.T.D. is Professor of Moral Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Detroit, MI), where he has taught for over 22 years. He is the co-editor of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Natural Law Tradition: Contemporary Perspectives (The Catholic University of America Press, 2004), author of numerous articles and the forthcoming book, What's a Person to Do? Everyday Decisions that Matter (Our Sunday Visitor, 2013).

Monday, December 30, 2013

Young Priests and the False Charge of Clericalism

DEC 20

Posted by liturgy guy

There is a smear campaign currently underway against many young priests in the Catholic Church. However, this attack is not coming from the secular media or from dissenting advocacy groups. Instead, it is an attack from within the Church itself, even from fellow priests. What is the false charge being leveled against many of our younger priests? Clericalism.

That legitimate instances of clericalism should be of concern is evident from recent statements by Pope Francis, including his recent Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Indeed, from the earliest days of his pontificate, the Holy Father has spoken out against careerism and ambition among some of the clergy, particularly within the Curia.

Playing the Clericalism Card

However, what is equally troubling is the opportunistic way in which the Catholic left has recently played the “clericalism card” against a new generation of priests, many of whom were ordained during Pope Benedict’s papacy. Far from being an issue of young priests lording their authority over the faithful, this is nothing more than an anti-traditionalist strategy by those opposing the ongoing “reform of the reform”.

A recent example of this mindset was presented in the Jesuit magazine America, by columnist Daniel P. Horan O.F.M. In his piece entitled, “Lead Us Not Into Clericalism” Fr. Horan makes the following observation:

“Next month I turn 30. While that might seem like an old age to me as I approach the milestone, most people are quick to remind me of how young a friar and priest I still am. That statement of fact is often, but not always, accompanied by some well-meaning remark by a parishioner after Mass or an audience member after a talk suggesting that I’m not like other “young priests” they know.”

Fr. Horan explains what is meant by this:

“What generally follows that sort of comment is an expression of concern about the perceived unapproachable or pretentious character of so many of the newly ordained. They appear to be more concerned about titles, clerical attire, fancy vestments, distance between themselves and their parishioners…(w)hat concerns people, in other words, is clericalism.”

In other words, those young priests who have taken to heart the dignity of their priestly vocation and the beauty of the Catholic faith, instead of being lauded, are actually being attacked as aloof and pretentious. This no doubt from the Catholic crowd who prefers their priest minus a cassock or lace, and their liturgy free of smells, bells and Latin.

Reverence is Not Clericalism

As I have written about before, many of our new priests are rediscovering the beauty and depth of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. As was anticipated, some of the tradition and disciplines of the Vetus Ordo have been introduced by many priests into the Novus Ordo. This then is the hermeneutic of continuity being actualized. This is the recovery of the sacred within the liturgy of the Roman rite.

Indeed, what we find with these young priests today is exactly what Pope Benedict XVI called for in his June 2009 Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests. In referencing Saint John Mary Vianney, Pope Benedict observed:

“This way of educating the faithful to the Eucharistic presence and to communion proved most effective when they saw him celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass…He was convinced that the fervour of a priest’s life depended entirely upon the Mass: “The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass! My God, how we ought to pity a priest who celebrates as if he were engaged in something routine!”.

It is absolutely essential that we support these young priests as they are thrown to the wolves. Those who have invested decades into diminishing the priesthood and “ordaining” the laity will not go without a fight.

For most of the laity, who suffer not from an anticlerical agenda, but rather from poor formation, it will simply take time. In the meantime, let us hope that people who should know better, like fellow priests, seek to catechize the faithful instead of scandalizing them with false charges of clericalism.

(Photo courtesy of Brent Hohman and Station 12 photography)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

How We Got Here: The Latin Mass in a Thoroughly Modern Parish

Regina Magazine

November 8, 2013

For the past two years, Father Philip Clement has been one of the parochial vicars of Incarnation parish, near St. Petersburg, Florida. Father Clements studied philosophy at Christendom College and then attended St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida. He was ordained in 2008 and said his first Traditional Latin Mass on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011.

In this exclusive Regina Magazine interview, Father Clement recounts the story of how Incarnation Parish has become a beloved locale for the Latin Mass. The story of this parish shows us yet again how a thriving parish community with a strong future can grow, even against all expectations in a modern church, with an aging population.

Q. Tell us about Incarnation Parish.

Incarnation parish is located in the Town N Country area of Tampa, Florida, which is centrally located in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. It was created in 1962 and has roughly 3,200 families. The pastor is the Very Rev. Michael Suszynski, and he has been pastor of Incarnation parish for four years.

Q. How did you become involved with the TLM?

Early in 2011 I was asked by one of the three priests in our diocese who said the Latin Mass at that time if I could fill in for him while he was away on vacation. I did not know how to say the Latin Mass but had a deep interest in learning. This priest friend of mine instructed me on how to say the Mass, and with lots of study and practice, I was able to cover his parish’s Latin Mass while he was out of town.

Thereafter, I made opportunities in my schedule to make the 35 minute drive to his parish to continue helping him with his Latin Masses. Since my first Mass on November 27th, I’ve been hooked.

Q. When did you introduce the TLM?

Prior to 2012, Incarnation Parish did not have a Traditional Latin Mass. We also had a very unique situation, as our parish did not have a Sunday evening Mass on the schedule.

On February 20, 2012, I had dinner with the pastor, and at some point in the course of the conversation the fact that I had been saying the Traditional Latin Mass since the previous November came up, and he offered me the Sunday afternoon timeslot in which to offer the Latin Mass in our parish. Needless to say I was stunned, as that was not the purpose of our conversation, but he offered it anyway. I took it to prayer, and two days later I informed him that I would love the opportunity.

By that point I was proficient in saying the Low Mass and had learned much about the history of the Mass in general. Since the Traditional Latin Mass was relatively new to me, I assumed it would be for our parishioners as well, except for the few who might have remembered it from their childhood.

Since my first Mass on November 27th, I’ve been hooked.

Q. How did you get parishioners interested?

I decided to offer the parishioners a three-part seminar on the Traditional Latin Mass, which covered preparation for Mass, the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful. It was a great success and was attended by over 200 people.

Each part of the seminar was given in successive weeks and ended on the fourth week with our inaugural Mass, the very first Traditional Latin Mass offered in our fifty year old parish on May 6, 2012.

Our three- part parish seminar on the Latin Mass was a great success and was attended by over 200 people.

Q. So, the Mass just took from there?

Not really. Immediately after May 6th, administrative problems prevented us from continuing with the Latin Mass for a period of six months. By November 4, 2012, we were able to add the Traditional Latin Mass to the regular Mass schedule. At that time it was only me saying the Latin Mass in our parish, and my schedule would only allow me to offer the Mass twice per month, and I was content in moving forward as such.

However, the following month I met a Jesuit priest at the local Jesuit High School in Tampa who knew how to say not only the Low Mass but the High Mass and the Solemn High Mass, and this offered our Traditional Latin Mass community a huge opportunity. Fr. Patrick Hough, S.J. came aboard January 20, 2013 and said his first Latin Mass at Incarnation. Now that Fr. Hough was available to assist with the Latin Mass, we were able to start offering the Traditional Latin Mass every Sunday, and we have been doing so since January of this year.

In addition to being able to offer the Latin Mass every Sunday, we were now able to start offering the High Mass and the Solemn High Mass as well. Incarnation had its first High Mass on February 24th of this year and our first Solemn High Mass on Pentecost Sunday, May 19th.

Q. That is a lot of work! What is the current situation?

Since that time I have been able to learn the High Mass and the priest and sub-deacon’s parts for the Solemn High Mass, which allows us to have a very full Sunday schedule each month. Currently, the first Sunday of the month is a Low Mass, followed by two High Masses on the second and third Sundays, and a Solemn High Mass on the fourth Sunday.

All in all, I believe we have come a long way in just one year. This should encourage any parish considering starting the Traditional Latin Mass to follow the Spirit’s lead, bring it to the people, and have confidence that there is much support for the Ancient Mass of the Saints.

We have come a long way in just one year. This should encourage any parish considering starting the Traditional Latin Mass to follow the Spirit’s lead, bring it to the people, and have confidence that there is much support for the Ancient Mass of the Saints.

Q. How has sacred music played a part in the transformation of your parish?

Yes. Before we could offer the High Mass or Solemn High Mass in our parish, we first needed to explore the opportunity of starting a sacred music program. In the beginning, we invited a chant schola from a neighboring parish to come to sing the Mass parts for our first High Mass. We also invited them to continue singing motets and hymns at our Low Masses, and interest continued to develop.

Soon thereafter we were able to start our sacred music program, as we had just hired a new Director of Music in the parish who had experience playing and conducting chant choirs, as a well as a young man who volunteered to direct our schola. They have been working very hard to build the program and have done a wonderful job. Fr. Hough also is an accomplished musician and has a lot of experience directing sacred music. His influence and direction has been a tremendous benefit to the process, and we are happy to have him assist in our parish.

In addition to Fr. Hough’s direction for the schola, in February of this year, we invited Fr. Samuel Weber, O.S.B. an expert in Sacred Music to give us a seminar on sacred cantilation. He shared with us his love for sacred music and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Since beginning grade school in 1953, Fr. Weber has been studying and singing Gregorian chant.

In April 2008, he became the founder and first director of The Institute of Sacred Music in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The Institute of Sacred Music was established by Archbishop Raymond E. Burke to promote the sacred liturgy and Gregorian Chant. In this seminar, Fr. Weber spoke about sacred cantilation and the primacy of place sacred music has in the liturgy. He also gave two sessions to train our schola and our altar servers, both of which were open to registrants who wished to sit in and learn more about how Gregorian Chant is sung and why the altar servers do what they do.

We were very blessed to have Fr. Weber visit and instruct us, and the results of that instruction can certainly be seen and heard in the voices of Incarnation’s schola.

The Institute of Sacred Music was established by Archbishop Raymond E. Burke to promote the sacred liturgy and Gregorian Chant.

Q. Have you introduced any other changes — more frequent confessions, First Friday devotions, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament or any others?

Only recently were we able to start our new monthly Mass schedule, where we are able to offer a Low Mass, two High Masses and one Solemn High Mass per month. Much of my time has been spent tending to the necessary details and to training our altar boys. Therefore, not many other changes have been implemented at this time.

We are working towards being able to offer Confession before every Mass and occasional Forty Hour Devotions during the year, but that is only in the planning stages at this time. Our parish has had First Friday devotions, including Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, for years so no major changes have to take place regarding those devotions. However, we are planning to offer more hours of Exposition and Adoration in the near future.

Q. How are your CCD and RCIA programs? Well-attended? What catechetical materials do you use?

Our CCD and RCIA programs are very well attended. Even though the population growth rate has been stable in recent years due to the aging of the area, we are consistently welcoming new families into the parish and into the Faith through the sacraments of initiation. This year our CCD program switched resources, and we are now using the Faith and Life series from Ignatius Press.
Even though the population growth rate has been stable in recent years due to the aging of the area, we are consistently welcoming new families into the parish and into the Faith through the sacraments of initiation.

Q. How does the Latin Mass work in your modern church building?

Our current church building is of typical modern design, complete with a resurrected Jesus behind the square, wooden, detached altar.

As is common with many churches today, there isn’t much within it to build upon for the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. Even though the church is modern architecture, we were able to come up with a way to beautifully modify the current altar to make it acceptable for the Latin Mass.

Even though the church is modern architecture, we were able to come up with a way to beautifully modify the current altar to make it acceptable for the Latin Mass.

Q. How have these changes been received in your parish?

Incarnation Parish has been in existence for fifty-one years, and for forty-six of those years, our parishioners have been used to the Novus Ordo. While our parishioners are wonderful, the modern influence has had an effect on some of them as well.

When the Latin Mass was first introduced in our parish, we received the typical type of resistance, and I learned that people either love the Latin Mass or they despise it. With that knowledge, my prayer to the Lord was that if He wanted the Latin Mass in our parish, then would He please provide the funding from the people rather than having to fund the Latin Mass from the general parish funds and risk more ridicule.

He obviously heard this prayer, and in less than four weeks, we raised over $20,000 to outfit the altar and to purchase all the other necessaries. The people who are appreciative of the Mass have not ceased to be more than generous in their support, whether it be monetary, spiritual or both.

My prayer to the Lord was that if He wanted the Latin Mass in our parish, then would He please provide the funding from the people rather than having to fund the Latin Mass from the general parish funds and risk more ridicule. He obviously heard this prayer, and in less than four weeks, we raised over $20,000.

Q. Are you attracting people to your parish? Homeschoolers? Do you find that many people are getting more involved in parish life? Altar servers?

Yes. Our congregation has steadily grown to the point that we average 150 – 200 people per Mass. Ages range from infancy to the early 90’s. We have done baptisms and Masses for the dead, but we have not yet had a wedding. Many of the families are young with young children and are homeschooling families.

In my opinion, this has added to the supply of our fifteen-plus altar boys. These young men are eager to learn and excited to serve, and we already have one young man discerning entering the seminary.

In order to foster continued growth in the community and build relationships between the Latin Mass parishioners, we have periodic potluck dinners after our Solemn High Masses. God has truly blessed our parish.

Q. This will be your first year offering the TLM at Christmas. How do you think parishioners will react to this? What plans are you making, both to help people keep a holy Advent and Christmastide?

Although the Latin Mass had already begun by last Christmas, I was not able to offer a Christmas Latin Mass last year because of my personal schedule.

Our community is slowly stabilizing, we’ve been able to include all of the Holy Days of Obligation in our schedule, and in order to help the parishioners prepare for a holy Advent and Christmastide, we are attempting to implement regular Confessions before Mass by the beginning of Advent. Plans are also in development for a Forty Hours devotion.

Our community is slowly stabilizing, and I believe people are looking forward to the Traditional Latin Mass for those very special occasions like Christmas.

Q. How can people find your parish?

We welcome everyone! Our website is www.sacrificiumsanctum.org and we can be found on our Facebook page “Sacrificium Sanctum.”

Posted by Beverly Stevens

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Duck Dynasty: The Show That Got Away

by Pat Archbold Thursday, December 19, 2013 11:58 AM

After A&E fired Phil Robertson for saying what every good Christian should believe, social media has been abuzz. One of the recurring themes has been puzzlement about why A&E would cut off its nose to spite its face. Duck Dynasty is the franchise right now. Why would they risk destroying their own cash cow?

To understand the why, we have to go back to the beginning. Duck Dynasty is not the show that they wanted, it is the show that got away from them.

It seems what the producers intended and what A&E envisioned with the show is much different than the show that they ended up with, but they didn't do anything about it because it was so wildly popular and so wildly profitable. But even with all the money, they have never really been comfortable with what happened.

This is what happened. The whole idea of the show was to parade these nouveau riche Christian hillbillies around so that we could laugh at them. "Look at them," we were supposed to say. "Look how backward they are! Look what they believe! Can you believe they really live this way and believe this stuff? See how they don't fit in? HAHAHA"

When the producers saw the way the show was shaping up, different than they envisioned it, they tried to change course. They tried to get the Robertson's to tone down their Christianity, but to their eternal credit they refused. They tried to add fake cussin' to the show by inserting bleeps where no cussword was uttered. At best, they wanted to make the Robertson's look like crass buffoons. At worst they wanted them to look like hypocrites.

They desperately wanted us to laugh at the Robertsons. Instead, we loved them.

A&E wanted us to point fingers at them and laugh at them. But something else happened entirely. Millions upon millions of people tuned in, not to laugh at them, but to laugh with them.

And then we pointed at them. We pointed at them and said things like, "I wish my family was more like them. I wish we prayed together as a family. I wish we were together like the Robertsons."

By the time this all happened, A&E had a conundrum. They knew who the Robertsons were and what they believe and they still held it in disdain. But they really liked the money. Really liked the money. So they lived with it.

But the progressives whose bank accounts were not growing fatter because of these backward rubes were never inclined to look the other way. They hate the show and they really hate the response to the show. They want it destroyed.

Many magazines and interviewers have tried to get the Robertsons to trip up so they could pounce. When Phil backed the Christian viewpoint on homosexuality and added some personal asides about how he just couldn't understand it, they had their moment.

I suspect that the folks at A&E, who always disliked the positive Christian message in the show of which Phil is the primary proponent, saw their chance. They want to keep the cash but dial down the Christianity. With Phil out, perhaps they could get the show they always wanted.

I suspect that the Robertsons are more principled than that and A&E will end up disappointed on many levels. The Roberstons are who they are and I suspect the money means a great deal more to A&E than it does to them.

It will be interesting to see whether A&E likes the money more than they hate the Christianity. I wouldn't be surprised if the hate wins.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/pat-archbold/duck-dynasty-the-show-that-got-away-from-them#ixzz2o6vqdZ63

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Back to the Future: Traditional Catholicism and the Next Generation of Priests

With frequent discussions about the shortage of priests in the Catholic Church today, it seemed like a good time to review recent statistics and anecdotal evidence which provides hope for the future.
For those of you who, like me, have a love for beautiful liturgy and the Traditional Latin Mass there is the success story of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. In case you are not familiar with the FSSP, they were formed by a “dozen priests and scores of seminarians” in the wake of Blessed John Paul II’s Motu proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta of July 2, 1988. From their mission statement:
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter is a Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right, that is, a community of Roman Catholic priests who do not take religious vows, but who work together for a common mission in the world. The mission of the Fraternity is two-fold: first, the formation and sanctification of priests in the cadre of the traditional liturgy of the Roman rite, and secondly, the pastoral deployment of the priests in the service of the Church.
With a presence in only 34 diocese in the United States, the Fraternity still boasts an impressive 80 plus seminarians in North America alone. On average the FSSP has ordained 12 priests per year since 2000, numbers which would be the envy of just about any diocese.
For the Catholic Church in America the total number of U.S. seminarians has reached levels not seen since the early 1990′s. Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) reports over 3,700 graduate level seminarians in 2012. Additionally, many seminaries are experiencing enrollment levels not seen in the past 30-40 years. Both positive trends and cause for cautious optimism.
Where are many of these young men coming from?
Not surprisingly many of these seminarians are coming from traditionally minded Catholic dioceses and parishes. On a per capita basis the Diocese of Lincoln, NEhas ranked at or near the top in the nation for its ratio of priests to faithful as well as seminarians to faithful.
Shepherded by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz from 1992-2012 the Lincoln diocese is known for actively supporting the Traditional Latin Mass (even before Summorum Pontificum), its refusal to permit girls to serve altar (which continues to this day) and a fierce commitment to orthodoxy among clergy and laity alike.
Back to the Future
Whether it is the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, the Diocese of Lincoln or my own diocese for that matter, there are some common practices which seem to facilitate increases in priestly vocations:
Love for beautiful liturgy. In the case of the Fraternity priests, the Holy Mass is exclusively offered in the Extraordinary Form.
Additionally, the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite does not allow for altar girlsor Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, something that many traditionally minded parishes also carry over into the Ordinary Form of the Rite.
Prayer, specifically Eucharistic adoration, is always present in vocation rich Catholic communities.
Clear and unambiguous rejection of contraception. Preached from the ambo, lived by the faithful in the pews. A Catholic community that closes itself off to Life will always struggle for priestly vocations. That is much of the story of the vocation crisis of these past 40 years.
Finally, vocation rich Catholic communities love our priests! They are revered simply because they are priest. They are our fathers and our shepherds. We pray for them and they sacrifice for us.
We know that our Lord will not abandon His Church. It is our disobedience, not our Lord’s design, that has caused this vocations crisis. Let us cooperate with His will so that once again Holy Mother Church will have an abundance of priests to guide and serve the faithful. May we provide our young men a sacred silence, most of all during the Holy Mass, so that those who are being called by our Lord may hear His voice and respond.
St. John Mary Vianney, Patron Saint of parish priests, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How "Catholic" Is Congregational Singing?

975 John PauJohn Paul II (wearing Maniple) using incenseERTAIN SUBJECTS * are broached only with difficulty. For example, it’s considered unseemly to admit that “congregational singing” can never truly exist, strictly speaking (cf. my June article).

Here’s a question that may irk some folks: Which is the better participation? When the people sing, or when the choir alone proclaims the texts?
The piccoluomini have had enormous success persuading the world that “true” active participation means the congregation sings everything. In other words, the Church got it wrong all these centuries, since the choir usually proclaimed the Mass texts while the congregation listened. But wait … let’s think about this.
A Catholic in the pew listening to the choir sing can prayerfully follow along in his Missal, meditating and giving his full attention to the holy texts. On the other hand, if he joins in the singing, he must focus on things like pitch, rhythm, tempo, tone quality, vocal support, correct pronunciation, and so forth. Would anyone contend that singing well requires no effort? I hope nobody will say, “I don’t need to focus on singing techniques … I don’t hear myself, so who cares?” Now, for extremely simple things — e.g. a hymn tune memorized as a child — I would agree that the effort required is minimal. Yet the nagging question persists (in spite of everything the piccoluomini have insisted upon through the years): “Can we truly pray with perfect concentration while concerned with things like pitches and rhythm?”
The answer  is obvious: Meditation will be more profound if the choir sings and we focus on the text. God-willing, we will soon be releasing an exciting new publication which will allow congregations to pray in a marvelous way.
IN AN EFFORT TO GET PEOPLE SINGING, the U.S. Bishops allowed variants for certain texts (Responsorial Psalm, Sequence, etc.) if sung. Believe it or not, once any U.S. Bishop approves a variant, it never expires and can be used throughout the entire country! That’s why you never know what words you’ll be hearing on Sunday morning in the United States. Post-Conciliar composers were quick to capitalize on the potential for increased revenues by creating their own (copyrighted) Psalm translations. Perhaps we’d have been better off if devout Catholics had used this loophole to get quality translations approved. On the other hand, the history of such “permissions” is complex and often came about as a consequence of persistent disobedience.
Faithful Catholics felt obliged to adhere to the official texts. Unfortunately, after the Council, many official texts were “dumbed down.” For example, consider the Sequences. The official Lectionary versions are supposedly based on a 1964 version. However, if you download the 1965 Missale Romanum, you’ll see this is false! The current Lectionary version has been “bowdlerized.”
The whole point of these “poetic” translations was to match the Latin rhythm exactly. However, thepiccoluomini shamelessly wrecked the meter, because they thought Catholics were too stupid to understand words like “reconcileth.”
Original Latin:   Reconciliávit peccatóres.   (10 beats)
Original 1964 Version:   Reconcileth sinners to the Father.   (10 beats)
Current Lectionary Version (Bowdlerized):   Reconciles sinners to the Father.   (9 beats)

Original Latin:   Quid vidisti in via?   (7 beats)
Original 1964 Version:   What thou sawest, wayfaring.   (7 beats)
Current Lectionary Version (Bowdlerized):   What you saw, wayfaring.   (6 beats)
They also thought Catholics were too stupid to understand words like Thou, so they yanked them, damaging the meter tremendously and making the bowdlerized version impossible to sing to the original (Latin) chant:
Original 1964 Version:
Come, thou Holy Spirit, come! | And from thy celestial home | Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, thou Father of the poor! | Come, thou source of all our store! | Come, within our bosoms shine!

Current Lectionary Version (Bowdlerized):
Come, […] Holy Spirit, come! | And from your celestial home | Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, […] Father of the poor! | Come, […] source of all our store! | Come, within our bosoms shine.
Their vandalism was truly audacious considering the ingenious efforts of the poet, who perfectly matched the rhyme scheme and accents of the original Latin. Look what the revisers did to the Lauda Sion of St. Thomas Aquinas:
Original 1964 Version:
Laud, O Sion, thy salvation, | Laud with hymns of exultation, | Christ, thy king and shepherd true:
Bring him all the praise thou knowest, | He is more than thou bestowest, | Never canst thou reach his due.

Current Lectionary Version (Bowdlerized):
Laud, O Zion, your salvation, | Laud with hymns of exultation, | Christ, your king and shepherd true:
Bring him all the praise you know, | He is more than you bestow. | Never can you reach his due.
The piccoluomini were so determined to get rid of Thine, they were willing to commit any atrocity.  Spoiler alert!   “Divine” doesn’t rhyme with “yours.”
Original 1964 Version:
O most blessed Light divine, | Shine within these hearts of thine, | And our inmost being fill!
Where thou art not, man hath naught, | Nothing good in deed or thought, | Nothing free from taint of ill.

Current Lectionary Version (Bowdlerized):
O most blessed Light divine, | Shine within these hearts of yours, | And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught, | Nothing good in deed or thought, | Nothing free from taint of ill.
Wow … they even replaced the “sexist” word man with “we.” Great work, guys.
BUT IT GETS WORSE. For decades, every publisher who prints the Sequences has been required to include this notice:
The poetic English translation of the sequences of the Roman Missal are taken from The Roman Missal approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States ©1964 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Inc. All rights reserved.
In reality, those precise translations come from much earlier. For instance, the Victimae Paschaliwas taken verbatim from the 1906 (!!!) English Hymnal and placed in the 1965 Missal (see above). I suppose one could argue they’re trying to copyright their bawdlerized version, but they ought to be honest about where the 1964 version came from and admit the 1972 alterations.
Why have Catholics been forced to pay for these translations for 40+ years? They can be neitherlegally sold — since they’ve been public domain for half a century — nor morally sold (Canon law forbids the direct selling of indulgenced texts). Perhaps abuses like this elicited the following apology by Pope John Paul II (addressing bishops in 1980), quoted in a beautiful letter (1988) by Most Rev. John R. Keating:
WOULD LIKE TO ASK FORGIVENESS — in my own name and in the name of all of you, venerable and dear brothers in the episcopate — for everything which, for whatever reason, through whatever human weakness, impatience or negligence, and also through the (at times) partial, one-sided, and erroneous application of the directives of the Second Vatican Council, may have caused scandal and disturbance concerning the interpretation of the doctrine and the veneration due to this great sacrament.
So many abuses have happened, it’s easy to overlook the good reforms of the Second Vatican Council. I plan on writing an article describing what I consider some good fruits.


*   It’s also frowned upon to follow Bishop Rudolf Graber’s example, asking where the Council spoke of things like Communion in the hand, the versus populum Altar, banishing Latin, and so forth. Msgr. Schuler was considered a crank for frequently asking if “renewal” meant widespread apostasy, open dissent with Rome, and empty seminaries.

   Hundreds of Catholics have written about the subject of “true participation.” For example, see Fr. Peter MacCarthy’s 1993 article. Perhaps the best treatment of participatio actuosa is a 1990 article by Fr. Robert Skeris, who references the actual discussions at the Council before the votes were taken. If you doubt the importance of such discussions, read this 1976 reference to the Conciliar relationes. Sadly, few today are familiar with the relationes … and those who are often lack Fr. Skeris’ breadth of understanding and end up making uninformed statements.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christians Buried in Mass Graves, City Destroyed in 'Biggest Christian Massacre' in Syrian Civil War

(Photo: Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh Facebook page)
Photo of destruction in Syrian city of Sadad after an Islamist attack in October, 2013.


November 1, 2013|4:26 pm

More than 30 bodies of Christian civilians have been uncovered in mass graves in the Syrian city of Sadad, which was destroyed in an attack by Islamic militants, with the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop describing the incident as "the most serious and biggest massacre" of Christians in the past two years and a half.

A total of 45 Christians were reported to have been killed in the small town halfway between Homs and Damascus, after Islamist militants apparently invaded on Oct. 21. Fides News Agency reported that representatives of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate and relatives of the victims found the mass graves when they returned home, and later provided a proper burial for their dead relatives and friends.

"45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing,"explained Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama.

"For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields. Among them children, the elderly, the young, men and women. Some of them fled on foot travelling 8 km (5 miles) from Sadad to Al-Hafer to find refuge. About 2,500 families fled from Sadad, taking only their clothes, due to the irruption of armed groups and today they are refugees scattered between Damascus, Homs, Fayrouza, Zaydal, Maskane, and Al-Fhayle."

Eyewitnesses said the 15,000 population city has been entirely destroyed and looted. Sadad was described as an ancient village dating back to 2,000 B.C. with a number of churches, temples, historic landmarks and archaeological sites.

Syria has been locked in a civil war for over two years and a half now, with various rebel factions trying to take down the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population, have been caught in the crossfire, and worries are that a victory for radical Islamist groups will put them in even greater danger.

"I think the Islamic rebels winning is a bad idea for the Christians. All of a sudden we'll have another Islamic state where Christians are persecuted," Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) asserted in September.

Archbishop Alnemeh said in his account of the mass attack in Sadad that people now have no electricity, water or telephone, and that all the houses have been robbed.

"The churches are damaged and desecrated, deprived of old books and precious furniture. Schools, government buildings, municipal buildings have been destroyed, along with the post office, the hospital and the clinic," he added.

"We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us."