"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)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another Comparison


When I was in the seminary, there was real talk about the Catholic Church changing its name. Now this talk was amongst seminarians inspired by Vatican II and the euphoric attitude the Church had concerning ecumenism in the immediate aftermath of the "spirit" of Vatican II. What better gesture toward ecumenism than to change the Catholic Church's name to the Christian Church. That would unite us with all those who are Christian. The only requisite for receiving Holy Communion is that we be Christian, that is baptized in one form or another. Instant Christian unity, everything else could be sacrificed and was considered fluff!

Now mind you, I'm not talking about serious theologians and bishops considering this, it was the lunatic left that was a very powerful force in the late 1960's and 1970's, drunk on the euphoria of the "spirit" of Vatican II.

But consider what more radical, left leaning reformers after Vatican II did to the Church and her Catholic identity.

1. They dismantled all traditional Catholic piety including a very powerfully strong Marian piety. The Holy Rosary was definitely out! Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was out--the tabernacle was moved to locations that very few people would visit except for the most die hard of adorers. Novenas, processions and the devotional music were out.

2. The Mass itself was reformed to reflect Protestant sensitivities and allure them to become enamored with the Mass as meal, simplified, in the vernacular,and devotion surrounding it not as pietistic, all the things that would appeal to Protestant sensibilities and thus bring us closer together.

3. The English translation of the Mass was a paraphrase of the original Latin reform of the Mass. In many places the English translation has no resemblance to the Latin meaning whatsoever. This is now being shown with the new English translation which is more faithful to the Latin, especially as it concerns theology and doctrine which are the most important things to be preserved. In many of the translations there is the heresy of Palagism. Catholic devotion is lost in terms of superlatives to describe the Church, Christ, Eucharistic actions, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints. All of this would appeal to Protestant sensibilities. It would dumb down our Catholic identity and it certainly has (the law of prayer is the law of belief and if the prayer is wrong, diminished, heretical and dumbed down, the same happens to our belief!)

What Pope Benedict has done in his short papacy is to identify the need to the Catholic Church to be unabridged in her Catholic identity. He has done this with his theology of "Reform within continuity" approach with what the Church was prior to Vatican II. He has sought to bring about inner healing in the Church so that we do not view the Church prior to the Second Vatican II as some nasty anachronistic institution that Vatican II did away with and instituted something entirely new altogether.

The liberal allowance of the "unreformed" Mass using the Missal of 1962 which was the missal used at Vatican II is a sign that what was good for the Church since the 1500's if not before cannot be bad for the Church today.

The Holy Father's view of Christian unity is important too. It means that those who wish to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church which is always to be understood as being under the authority of the successor of St. Peter, the Pope, means that they must become more Catholic, the Catholic Church does not become more Protestant.

Thus we have the Anglican Ordinariate. This structure will allow Anglicans and Episcopalians to return to the full communion of the Catholic Church but only after its Protestant ideologies are purified. However, their tradition of prayer and liturgy that are in keeping with Catholic traditions can be retained. There is now talk of Lutherans returning to the Full Communion of their Church (The Catholic Church) through a similar means! Pope Benedict is the pope of Christian unity!

The greatest struggle the Church has now is with her own. Those who wish to remake the Catholic Church according to the principles of liberal Protestantism symbolized by the Episcopal Church.

That won't wash! Yes many Catholics want a Church that is no different from Protestant communions, embraces all the secular trends concerning human sexuality and marriage, included homosexual marriage, divorce, remarriage and a million other combinations of human relationships. It won't work though. It can't! The Church can never be officially opposed to Christ and His teachings. That would make us the Anti-Christ.

Yes, we will see many Catholics defecting for more liberal expressions of Christianity and for no religion whatsoever. We have to let them go if we can't persuade them to change and convert to Christ.

Yes, the Catholic Church many be fewer in numbers and that's just fine if we are faithful to Christ and our Catholic identity.

The "spirit" of Vatican II babel is not dead. It keeps rearing its ugly head in diehard liberal theologians. At least in this case below, the bishops of the United States grab the "bull" and it is that, by the horns and call it for what it is:


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Young Priets Saying The Old Mass

The Traditional Latin Mass in seminaries? The Magic Circle will have a fit

Magic Circle nightmare: conservative seminarians
Magic Circle nightmare: conservative seminarians

Will it soon be a requirement for Catholic seminarians to learn to say the Traditional Latin Mass? Bobbie Mickens made this claim in the Tablet a couple of weeks ago – just think how livid he must be at the prospect! – and now John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter is saying exactly the same thing. He reckons that Ecclesia Dei’s forthcoming instruction on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum will “call for seminarians to be trained not just in Latin, but in the older rite itself, at least so they will know how to execute it faithfully and understand what’s being said”.

Allen’s piece is headed “April may be cruel month for relations with traditionalists”, which I find puzzling. Cruel? What he means is that some traditionalists will be upset by (a) the instruction’s apparent refusal to allow diocesan seminaries to ordain priests according to the pre-Vatican II ritual and (b) the collapse of negotiations with the SSPX.

Actually, I think most traditionalists will be relaxed on both counts (not to say relieved that the instruction doesn’t revoke their privileges, as they had feared). It doesn’t greatly matter which rite of ordination is used if a priest is perfectly free to celebrate in the Extraordinary Form. As for the SSPX negotiations, did anyone seriously think they were going to succeed? The Lefebvrists won’t budge on Vatican II any more than the C of E will accept papal infallibility. It’s a shame, but there you go.

In contrast, the proposal to teach all seminarians to celebrate the Tridentine Mass is a seriously big deal. In many ways it’s as radical as Summorum Pontificum itself.

According to John Allen, bishops around the world “haven’t exactly bent over backwards” to make the Old Mass widely available since 2007. That sounds about right. In England and Wales, most dioceses don’t flagrantly disregard Summorum Pontificum – but they don’t need to. On paper, the self-implementing features of the motu proprio challenge the power of the bishop: a priest doesn’t need permission to celebrate the EF. In practice, it’s easy to turn the document into a dead letter, since most parish priests come from a Vatican II generation unsympathetic to traditional rubrics and most lay people have never been near a Tridentine Mass and don’t know what they’re missing.

I don’t think the older form of the Roman Rite will ever supplant the vernacular liturgy. But we won’t discover the true level of demand for it until there are priests happy to celebrate it – offering it, perhaps, as an early morning service like BCP Holy Communion in Anglican parishes, or as the centrepiece of particular feast days. Most of the pious young Catholics I know agree with Pope Benedict that the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite should complement each other – but then they’re lucky enough to live in or near London, where the Old Mass is unusually accessible.

The nightmare for diehard opponents of the EF is the formation of a generation of priests who know how to use the 1962 Missal and are perfectly happy to do so in every diocese.

This is only a guess, but I reckon that half our current seminarians would like to be taught how to say the Old Mass – an unthinkable proportion 30 years ago, when today’s senior clergy were training for the priesthood. However, these students are smart enough to keep their mouths shut. Seminaries are run by the Magic Circle: until recently, rectors had no difficulty picking out the matey-but-deferential liberal students who would be tomorrow’s monsignors; now the supply of liberals has all but dried up, and they face the tougher task of distinguishing moderate conservatives from secret traditionalists.

The last thing they want – absolutely the last thing – is for every seminarian to be trained to celebrate the “Mass of the Ages”. Not only would this make it more difficult to root out undesirable traddies, but it would also eventually carry the ancient liturgy into parishes untouched by Summorum Pontificum. That would be a disaster from the Magic Circle’s point of view. The promotion of the Extraordinary Form even as an occasional alternative in local churches would accelerate a cultural shift towards traditional Catholicism that the hierarchy is already struggling to control.

The ramifications of an instruction to seminaries to teach students the Extraordinary Form – and enough Latin to know what they’re saying – are enormous. For that reason, I expect a very big effort to circumvent any such obligation. We can’t be sure that Mickens’s and Allen’s sources are right about the document, of course; but we can be certain that bishops and seminary rectors have heard the same rumours and are working on a contingency plan. If the instruction tries to force the Old Missal into seminaries, then liberal canon lawyers will be crawling all over it the second it appears, looking for loopholes. And if there aren’t any, then expect lots of delaying tactics and excuses involving lack of staff, resources, time etc.
And all this just as the new English Missal is coming in. We do live in interesting times.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Brick By Brick

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fr. Ross Bartley Celebrates First Tridentine Mass

Tridentine Community News (March 20, 2011):
Many readers of this column know Fr. Ross Bartley, former Assistant Pastor of Windsor’s Assumption Church. Fr. Ross has long had an interest in the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass and often sat in choir during the Masses at Assumption.

Now assigned to the cluster of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, and Our Lady of Mercy Churches in Sarnia, Ontario, Fr. Bartley celebrated his first Tridentine Holy Mass on Saturday, March 5 at St. Edward on the Lake in Lakeport, Michigan, just north of Port Huron. A number of individuals from Assumption and St. Josaphat attended.

We congratulate Fr. Ross and look forward to his celebrating the Extraordinary Form again soon – and often.

Pontifical Mass in DC Cancelled

On the national scene, we have some good news and bad news to report. Bad news first:

The previously announced Pontifical Solemn Mass at Washington, DC’s National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, originally scheduled for Saturday, April 9, has been canceled. The celebrant, Archbishop DiNoia, had to bow out, and permission for an alternate celebrant could not be obtained. The Paulus Institute, organizers of the event, promises similar events in the future.

First Tridentine Mass at St. Paul Church, Cambridge, MA

Now for the good news, something that seemed inevitable someday, yet it nevertheless a pleasant surprise:

St. Paul Church in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, will be holding its first Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form this Friday, August 25 at 6:00 PM, for the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Harvard Knights of Columbus Chapter and the newly-formed Harvard Latin Mass Society are the organizers of this Mass. At press time, the first Mass was scheduled to be a Low Mass.

Regular readers of this column will recognize St. Paul’s as the home of the Boston Archdiocesan [Boys’] Choir School, founded by the late Gregorian Chant scholar Dr. Theodore Marier, and for most of its recent history led by Dr. Marier’s assistant and worthy successor, organ scholar John Dunn. This year, former Canterbury Cathedral Assistant Organist and choir conductor John Robinson took over as Music Director, promising to continue the school’s tradition of musical and liturgical excellence. During the school year, the boys’ choir sings at the weekday 8:00 AM Mass, and on Sundays is joined by the parish’s Men’s Schola for the 11:00 AM Choral Mass, both of which are Ordinary Form Masses accompanied by English and Latin chant and polyphony. Learn more about the Choir School at their newly revamped web site, www.bostonboychoir.org.

In this writer’s experience, St. Paul’s is the “perfect storm” of a world-class liturgical music program, superlative church acoustics, and two organs precisely matched to a beautiful, historic church building. A Tridentine Mass celebrated there with the prodigious musical talents available would likely set a very high standard, in line with their renowned Novus Ordo Masses. Let us pray that St. Paul’s will offer a High Mass in the future, ideally involving the Choir School and Men’s Schola. In the meantime, the architecturally intact church will make a fitting home for the Traditional Mass, even without musical accompaniment.

At least one of our readers is planning to attend this Mass and will file a report for us.

Bishop Anthony Daniels Appointed to Grand Falls

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has named Diocese of London, Ontario Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Daniels as Bishop of Grand Falls, Newfoundland. Bishop Daniels has been a good friend to the Windsor Tridentine Mass Community, having provided wise counsel and assistance over the years. We ask your prayers for His Excellency as he embarks on this new assignment.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Mon. 03/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Monday in the Second Week of Lent)

Tue. 03/22 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Feria of Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent)

Fri. 03/25 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Josaphat (The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@stjosaphatchurch.org. Previous columns are available at www.stjosaphatchurch.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for March 20, 2011. Hat tip to A.B.]

Day 14: "The baby was in the car at that moment"

God is good! We're delighted to share another another amazing experience at the Freeport vigil site.

On Friday March 18, around 7:10 pm, a vehicle pulled onto the driveway behind the prayer zone. A very young woman emerged from the car and walked to the five volunteers holding signs. She was very emotional and detailed that during the Fall of 2009 she experienced an unplanned pregnancy. The father of the child would not accept responsibility and abandoned her early in the pregnancy. She described feeling frustrated and scared with the situation.

The young woman said that she had an appointment with Freeport. "I was about to have an abortion", she described,  "but saw these people praying, holding up signs in such poor weather conditions, standing outside the hospital with such conviction".  The young woman described thinking to herself: "There must be a reason that these people care so much that they give up their time and warmth".  She then decided: "I can't do that [abort the baby], it's not right.... I will have this baby. You know what, I can do this!" 

One of the prayer volunteers on shift that evening said that the young woman, "kept thanking us and asked us to keep doing what we are doing because it is very important". She emotionally described to the volunteers that the baby girl "is the joy of my life... I am very happy.... And without you, I know it would not have happened.".

The young woman mentioned that the she brought her daughter, and the baby was in the car at that moment! Then she hugged one of the volunteers. She departed quickly but not before leaving the volunteers feeling absolutely blessed. As one volunteer said, "It was truly a true blessing! I am so thankful to be a witness to the efforts of our presence and prayer". Another volunteer said, "For me personally, being there started to have different meaning from that moment".

Our 40 Days For Life organizing committee does not know if this is the same girl who's mother stopped by the site several days earlier and described that her 19-year old daughter changed her mind, or if it is a second turnaround.  Regardless, we give thanks to God for his mercy in choosing to reveal to us the fruits of our work.

We ask that you please sign-up for the following hours where prayer volunteers are urgently needed:

Wednesday March 23:        7:00 am
                                              8:00 am
                                              9:00 am
                                              1:00 pm
                                              2:00 pm
                                              3:00 pm

God bless,

40 DAYS FOR LIFE in Kitchener
Tel: 519-729-6541

Father Allan McDonald

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


It was a feast for the whole person and all his senses, sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch and the sense of the sacred. I'm speaking about our Extraordinary Form Solemn High Mass for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Mass was instituted by our Savior on Holy Thursday during a Seder or Passover meal. It was a formal affair and Jesus reinterpreted the meaning of this meal, although within the hermeneutic of continuity of its Jewish meaning, to show forth the saving events of Good Friday, the passion and death of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice on the Cross that saves us from sin and death. He also changes the bread and wine of this meal into His Body and Blood.

His actions at the Last Supper can only be fully comprehended with 20/20 hindsight in light of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

The Sacrificial aspect of the Mass comes first. We are prepared for it through acknowledgment of sin, more elaborate in the EF Mass than in the OF Mass, but present in both. We listen to the Word of God and are instructed by God Himself in the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed.

We remember the events of salvation during the praying of the Eucharistic prayer as the One Sacrifice of Christ which is now eternal is made available to us in the present, although in an "unbloody" way. Having experienced the essence of our salvation, Jesus' self-giving to the Father on our behalf which is for all present (even those unable to receive Holy Communion), the many than come forward to share in the banquet of the Body and Blood of our Lord under the form of bread and wine. Not all are invited, only those initiated into the Church through Holy Baptism. For those who have committed mortal sin after baptism, the sacrament of penance is necessary in order to worthily receive Holy Communion. Those who are not properly prepared or disposed should not come forward to receive our Lord in Holy Communion. But they should be at the Sacrifice of the Mass participating as the Church requests.

The only problem I see with an emphasis on the "meal" aspect of the Mass is what people mean by a meal. We can't take it for granted anymore that people have any sort of a formal meal at home, not even on Sunday. We've become a fast food culture. this has corrupted our understanding of meal.

And the type of meal that is the Holy Eucharist isn't one of laughter and gregarious fellowship. After all the Last Supper was precisely that, the Last Supper of a Man who would be condemned to death. It was a sober event tinged with anxiety and pain. It was a meal that preceded the Host being sent to the gallows. I wouldn't call that a time of superficial fellowship and clinking glasses in inebriated delight.

We're talking about a "meal" that remembers the passion and death of our Lord, the cruel torture He went through to sacrifice His life so that we could live for ever with Him in heaven. We're talking about a sacrifice so profound and painful, that the Heavenly Father embraces it and His Son as the final act of sacrifice needed for the atonement of sin. The animal sacrifices of the Jewish Temple are no longer needed or required. Jesus' sacrifice is it! It is cosmic in its eternal nature far outreaching any sacrifice that preceded it.

Perhaps we should reexamine just what kind of meal we are sharing and experiencing in the Most Holy Eucharist, the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Wouldn't it be better to have fellowship after the Mass, receptions, church dinners and the like? Shouldn't we fast before Mass and feast only afterward?

The type of fellowship modern liturgists tried to drag into the Mass these past forty years is really the type of fellowship that should be experienced after the Mass, in our Church halls and our dining rooms at home.

After Vatican II, liturgists tried to suppressed every form of popular devotion, including Eucharistic Adoration, and dump every form of odd devotion onto the Mass including the more profane understanding of meal. In doing so it turned the Mass into a closed circle of hand holding, Kumbaya singing, emotionally needy people who thought every liturgical novelty from clowns to leaping dancers would making the Mass more meaningful. They even turned the event of receiving Holy Communion at the altar railing which is an extension of the altar table into a drive through service where one walks up, grabs His "Food" and walks away while eating.

I much prefer the manner of receiving Holy Communion in the EF Mass. It's not like a drive through at a fast food restaurant or a ration line for the victims of some kind of natural disaster. The manner of receiving Holy Communion at the EF Mass is much more like a real, formal meal than the manner of receiving at the OF Mass, which is more like the grab and run of the McDonald's Last Supper.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Michael Voris In Kitchener - Review

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Vox and the Vortex

Vox Cantoris and Michael Voris after Sunday Mass at Kinkora

Even before over 600 Catholics were told to "strive to be so holy that you sweat holy water!" the guest of honour at the Celebrate a Real Catholic Man Gala had everyone in the room won over. That probably happened a year ago, a month ago or a week ago when those in the audience discovered Michael Voris on the Internet. What they discovered was a Catholic man from Detroit giving, as so aptly written in last week's Catholic Register, a "voice to the voiceless."

The Gala was organised by Father Paul Nicholson, and many behind the scene, as a fund raiser for pilgrims to World Youth Day. Father Nicholson is a priest of the Diocese of London and two parishes are under his spiritual and pastoral care; the parishes of St. Patrick's in Kinkora and St. Vincent de Paul in Mitchell and I will tell you, they are lucky to have him in more ways than they can even now know. The food and wines were befitting a Solemnity celebration of Canada's Patron Saint with over 600 Catholics rising in song to Great Saint Joseph, Son of David lead by yours truly. The hall nicely decorated and the auction a great success with a picture of Michael Voris going for over $3,000 to say nothing of the private dinner for ten with Voris and a more intimate, dinner for four, which went for even more!

Saturday's gala dinner was a success in every way and I dare say, at twice the price, the hall would have still sold out. There, in a working class suburb of Kitchener, over 600 Catholic men and women gathered at a surprisingly elegant Church hall to hear a pep-talk from a layman who, with his talented and dedicated staff, are taking lay Catholic evangelism to a new level. St. Michael's Media and Real Catholic TV are seen around the world on the Internet and have reached people who not only the secular press, but the Catholic press have ignored.

Saturday evening was about Catholics coming together to be "proud of being Catholic" and to reflect on just how "great it is to be, Catholic" as Voris reminded us. He reflected on the need for all of us to use our "talents" to stand up for the Church and to defend Her and to evangelise and not to fear those who call us "nutjobs" as Voris frequently hears or "extremists" or "Taliban Catholics" as some were called recently in the National Post and Toronto Star by a Toronto-based Basilian cleric last week. "Know that if they hated me, they will hate you also" were the words of Our LORD which Voris used to aptly emphasise the situation that the laity endures for standing up and speaking out over the state of the Church.

There have been larger Catholic dinners; the "Cardinal's Dinner" or the "Ordinandi Dinner" in Toronto for example are well attended functions of over 1,800 people. But these are "official" diocesan and sponsored events. But this was different. Every ticket was sold by word-of-mouth on Facebook and by Bloggers and some selective spot ads on LifeSiteNews and the Catholic Register and posters. No arm twisting, no corporate tables. Just John and Mary Catholic coming to hear one of their own embracing the responsibility of the laity to rebuild His Church at a time when so many of Her shepherds have succumbed to political-correctness and doublespeak.

They came from as far away as Quebec and from New York State, from Michigan and from Windsor, London, Orangeville, Barrie, Oakville, Mississauga, Hamilton, Toronto, Markham, Peterborough...from all over southern Ontario to stand up and be counted for the Catholic faith. Their presence sent a message; time will tell whether or not it has been heard.

Now, let's bring him to Toronto.
+ + +

If you have not yet seen the work of Michael Voris, visit their free Youtube page where you can become a member and receive a daily video update.

Better still, become a "Premium Member" for only $10 per month and receive all the library of catechetical materials to teach you the faith that your school, priest, nun or bishop neglected.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bad Mass = Weak Faith

Bad Mass = Weak Faith

Cardinal Raymond Burke: 'Liturgical abuses lead to serious damage to the faith of Catholics.'

03/03/2011 Comments (36)

ROME (CNS) — A weakening of faith in God, a rise in selfishness and a drop in the number of people going to Mass in many parts of the world can be traced to Masses that are not reverent and don’t follow Church rules, said two Vatican officials and a consultant.

“If we err by thinking we are the center of the liturgy, the Mass will lead to a loss of faith,” said U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s Supreme Court.
Cardinal Burke and Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, spoke March 2 at a book launch in Rome.

The book, published only in Italian, was written by Father Nicola Bux, who serves as a consultant to the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and for Saints’ Causes and to the office in charge of papal liturgies.

The English translation of Father Bux’s book title would be: How to Go to Mass and Not Lose Your Faith.
Cardinal Burke told those gathered for the book presentation that he agreed with Father Bux: that “liturgical abuses lead to serious damage to the faith of Catholics.”

Unfortunately, he said, too many priests and bishops treat violations of liturgical norms as something that is unimportant when, in fact, they are “serious abuses.”

Cardinal Canizares said that while the book’s title is provocative, it demonstrates a belief he shares: “Participating in the Eucharist can make us weaken or lose our faith if we do not enter into it properly” and if the liturgy is not celebrated according to the Church’s norms.

“This is true whether one is speaking of the ordinary or extraordinary form of the one Roman rite,” the cardinal said, referring to Masses in the form established after the Second Vatican Council as well as the Mass often referred to as the Tridentine rite.

Cardinal Canizares said that at a time when so many people are living as if God did not exist, they need a true Eucharistic celebration to remind them that only God is to be adored and that true meaning in human life comes only from the fact that Jesus gave his life to save the world.

Father Bux said that too many modern Catholics think the Mass is something that the priest and the congregation do together, when, in fact, it is something that Jesus does: “If you go to a Mass in one place and then go to Mass in another, you will not find the same Mass. This means that it is not the Mass of the Catholic Church, which people have a right to, but it is just the Mass of this parish or that priest.”


Monday, March 14, 2011

Lukewarm Belief Bad For The Soul

Weak faith cannot compete with modern 'idolatry,' Denver archbishop warns
By Benjamin Mann
.- Addressing a gathering of European church officials on March 4,  Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver warned that many contemporary Christians have reduced their faith to a convenient “form of paganism,” which cannot compete with the widespread “idolatry” of modern consumer culture.

Archbishop Chaput offered his observations at a conference in Paris honoring the late Cardinal Archbishop Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who was the Archbishop of Paris from 1981 to 2005.
The Denver archbishop described Cardinal Lustiger as “an unsentimental realist” who dared to speak about disturbing trends in the Church and society – including a lack of faith among professed Christians, leaving a vacuum that would be filled by other “gods” such as sex and money.

“Lustiger named lukewarm Christians and superficial Christianity for what they are: a congenial form of paganism,” said Archbishop Chaput. “The Church needs a great deal more of his medicine.”

He recalled Cardinal Lustiger's prophetic warnings against “creating alibis and escaping the implications of our faith.” In a passage cited by Archbishop Chaput, the cardinal wrote that “many Christians,” through evasions and misunderstandings, had “reduced the God of the Covenant to a mere idol.”

“The main crisis of modern Christianity is not one of resources, or personnel, or marketing,” Archbishop Chaput asserted. “It is a crisis of faith. Millions of people claim to be Christian, but they don't really believe.”
“They don't study Scripture. They don't love the Church as a mother and teacher. And they settle for an inoffensive, vanilla Christianity that amounts to a system of decent social ethics.” 

“This is self-delusion,” he warned, “the worst kind of phony Christianity that has no power to create hope out of suffering, to resist persecution, or to lead anyone else to God.”

Archbishop Chaput said that these weakened forms of Christian faith would not be able to compete with the many modern cults of instant gratification and success.

Cardinal Lustiger, he recalled, had “warned that one of the deepest and oldest instincts of man is idolatry.” The Denver archbishop said he sees that instinct taking on several forms today.

“There are no real atheists in America – quite the opposite,” he said. “We have a thriving free market of little gods to worship. Sex and technology have very large congregations.” 

“I was especially struck,” he noted, “by Lustiger's description of the modern state 'as one of the strongest forms of idolatry that exists; it has become the most absolute substitute for God that men have been able to give themselves . . .  and it is a tyrant god, feeding itself on its victims.'”

But the Archbishop of Denver said that these human tendencies, leading to the worship of objects and of oneself, could not be driven out by the mere exercise of authority.

“The Christian remedy to these idolatries,” he explained, “can never simply be coerced from the outside, by stronger statements from stronger bishops.” He quoted Cardinal Lustiger's insight that these forms of idolatry “must be exorcised from the inside … To uproot them, we must be converted in depth.”

He also indicated that Cardinal Lustiger's unique perspective was just as important for U.S. Catholics today as it was for European Catholics during his lifetime. The cardinal's work, Archbishop Chaput noted, “continues to influence our seminary formation” at Denver's St. John Vianney seminary. 

“He is a Jew who discovers Jesus Christ … His mother is murdered at Auschwitz. He survives the most horrific war in history, but he refuses to hate and despair. Instead, he turns to God more deeply and gives himself to the priesthood.”

“Most of the young men I meet hunger for examples of manliness, confidence, courage and faith,” Archbishop Chaput noted. “Cardinal Lustiger's personal story is itself a catechesis – an invitation to pursue God heroically.”


Church Leaders Encouraging the Latin Mass

"Summorum Pontificum" in the Seminary

Cardinal Rigali on Introducing Seminarians to the 1962 Missal

By Annamarie Adkins
PHILADELPHIA, MARCH 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Since Benedict XVI has said that the Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII should be available to those who prefer it, seminarians should be taught to say it, says Cardinal Justin Rigali.

The Pope clarified in his apostolic letter "Summorum Pontificum" that there are two forms of the liturgy in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church: ordinary and extraordinary.

To learn what some bishops are doing to implement the document in seminaries, ZENIT spoke with Cardinal Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, about his plans to introduce seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to the extraordinary form of the Mass.

Cardinal Rigali also suggested why priests already in active ministry should become familiar with the Missal of 1962.

Q: What practical steps are being taken to incorporate "Summorum Pontificum" into the life and curriculum of the seminary?

Cardinal Rigali: First there will be a lecture offered on the "motu proprio" that elucidates the theology underlying the 1962 missal so that the seminarians are afforded a clear understanding of the "motu proprio" and the Holy Father's pastoral concern for the faithful who have a deep love for the Tridentine liturgy.
Since nearly all of the seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary have grown up attending Mass according to the "Novus Ordo" -- Missal of Paul VI -- it is important to offer an exposition of the Mass according to the 1962 missal -- Missal of Blessed John XXIII.

Further, seminary course work in theology, liturgy and Church history will cover and expound upon the Holy Father's initiative. It will be helpful for them to see the continuity between the two expressions, but will also afford the opportunity to address the changes that took place in the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council.

Sometime in the spring semester, after the lecture, Holy Mass according to the extraordinary form will be celebrated once for the entire St. Charles Borromeo Seminary community. This will demonstrate to the seminarians the liturgically correct manner in which the extraordinary form of the Mass is to be celebrated.

Q: What about "Summorum Pontificum" has led you to support the incorporation of that document into the life of St. Charles Borromeo seminary? Are you foreseeing a greater demand for the traditional form of the Mass in the future?

Cardinal Rigali: The Holy Father has indicated that the Mass according to the extraordinary form as well as celebration of the sacraments should be available to the faithful when there is a genuine pastoral need.
Many of our clergy have never celebrated Mass or administered the sacraments according to the 1962 missal and the other liturgical texts. In order to provide for the pastoral needs, should they arise, the current seminarians should have the opportunity to be properly educated as to the rituals involved and the theology that underlies these forms.

At present I do not foresee a great demand for celebrations according to the extraordinary form of the Mass. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the requests we have received are very few. Most Catholics today find spiritual satisfaction in the Mass as celebrated using the Missal of Paul VI, and this remains the ordinary form of the celebration.

This being said, we are blessed to have two parishes in different areas of the archdiocese that celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form, who had already for some time been offering Mass with the Tridentine Missal by grant of the necessary indult. I am grateful that these parishes provide for the spiritual and pastoral needs of those faithful who prefer the extraordinary form.

Q: Some analysts of "Summorum Pontificum" have said that it is primarily directed at priests, and is a gift to them. What is your view?

Cardinal Rigali: The "motu proprio" is issued by the Holy Father for all Catholics.
With regard to priests, any statement from the Holy Father on the liturgy or any change in the liturgical forms or formula afford the priests an opportunity for thought and reflection on the mysteries they celebrate in the liturgy.

Many priests find in these opportunities a renewed sense of awe and appreciation for the liturgy and an opportunity for recommitment to celebrate these liturgies in a more reflective, reverent and respectful manner.
In this sense, "Summorum Pontificum" is a gift to all priests, because it encourages them, through the sacred liturgy, to draw all people into a deeper communion of holiness with the Lord.

Q: Seminaries are in the business of formation, particularly liturgical formation. What formative effect do you believe learning and celebrating the extraordinary form of the Mass will have upon seminarians?

Cardinal Rigali: Studying about and learning the Mass according to the 1962 Missal will afford the seminarians an opportunity to experience the continuity between the older and newer forms.
So much of our faith is based on continuity and tradition, handing on of the faith from one generation to the next. Sometimes the rituals change and develop but at the core they remain the same.

Benedict XVI stated in his letter to the bishops that accompanied the "motu proprio," "There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be of all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches that have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."
The liturgical training St. Charles Borromeo seminarians receive forms them in reverence and holiness, which in turn will serve the faithful to whom they will minister once they are ordained.

Q: Will saying Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII affect the way a priest says the "Novus Ordo" Mass?

Cardinal Rigali: Any priest who is unfamiliar with the extraordinary form, or who has not celebrated the liturgy according to this form for some time, will probably, and quite naturally, reflect on the manner in which he celebrates Mass according to the "Novus Ordo."

Such a reflection is positive because it cannot help but lead to a more reverent and worthy celebration of the liturgy.

Q: What can priests do to incorporate "Summorum Pontificum" into their own priestly ministry?

Cardinal Rigali: St. Charles Borromeo Seminary is offering a course for priests who wish to be educated and trained in the proper celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII to ensure competence in the Latin language and the rubrics of the extraordinary form.

Prior to engaging a "practicum" experience, the theology behind the liturgy and the "motu proprio" will be studied. I have encouraged any priest who may wish to learn to celebrate this liturgy to seek such educational opportunities so that the liturgy may be celebrated in a prayerful and reverent manner.


Cardinal Burke Down Under

Against the high tide of secularism
Raymond Burke
Raymond Burke, seen in St Mary's Cathedral, travelled to Sydney to address young Christians. Picture: Alan Pryke Source: The Australian

SIXTEEN thousand kilometres is a long way for the Vatican's highest judicial officer, second to the Pope, to travel for a lecture organised by students. But American Cardinal Raymond Burke was delighted to address the Australian Catholic Students Association on "The fall of the Christian West" in Sydney last night.
He's passionate about the topic, being worried about shifting ideologies and increasing secularism in Western nations. He is also passionate about talking to young people, who he finds are searching for moral leadership.
Burke, 62, is Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, akin to a chief justice. Before his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, he spent five years as archbishop of St Louis, Missouri, and before that was bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin. His high profile in the US stems from two factors: his success in increasing vocations to the priesthood and his outspoken criticisms of Catholic politicians who support same-sex marriage, abortion, and embryonic stem cell research. "It gives scandal to other people if they hear a Catholic give an interview to the media saying that I am proud to be a Catholic but at the same time I hold these views," he tells Inquirer.
By the time of Burke's promotion to the Vatican, the Kenrick-Glennon seminary in St Louis had 112 students, with at least nine priests being ordained each year. That's a position many Western dioceses, including most in Australia, can only envy. He made the seminary his priority, emphasising a strong prayer life, clear, orthodox Catholicism and classical philosophy in the curriculum.

He also spent hours each week getting to know the students. "I used to go walking with them one at a time for an hour in the afternoons," he says.

"I'd just have to ask one question and I'd learn a lot. It was most helpful. I admired the students' honesty and openness."

In the public arena, Burke encountered intense controversy when he warned that the Democratic Party "risks transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death' because of its choices on bioethical questions". He argued that Catholics could not support Barack Obama "with a clear conscience" because of his stance on life issues. A generation ago, like many Irish-American families, the Burkes were Democrats. The cardinal's father, a dairy farmer, worked for the party.

Exasperated with the liberal-Left leanings of some in the church, Burke slammed the decision by Catholic university Notre Dame to grant a honorary doctorate to Obama as "a great scandal". He says he "has still not quite got over that".

He supports a thorough "cleansing" within the church after the abhorrent behaviour of sexually abusive priests. He wants uniform rules for reporting and dealing with the issue.

During his first visit to Australia, Burke is not commenting directly on the NSW election or the Greens' push for same-sex marriage and euthanasia. In principle, however, he believes such issues should influence how Christians vote. He supports "small government" assisting the needy but at the same time encouraging people to help themselves.

Burke believes Western nations are "renouncing their foundations on the Christian faith". There is, he told the students, "greater and greater fear that the church will be unable to carry out [its] educational, healthcare and charitable works in certain nations because the civil law requires that such church works co-operate in acts which are always wrong . . . Think, for instance, of the pharmacist who is compelled by the civil authorities to fill prescriptions for abortifacient drugs or the priest who is charged by civil authorities with the use of so-called 'hate language' because [he presents the church's teaching about homosexual acts]".

European nations that fail to reverse the population collapse, he says, are at risk of becoming Islamic states in the long term, losing the benefits that flow from the separation of church and state in democracies with Christian roots.

He regards that separation as vital, but wants religious leaders to play a vigorous role in the national conversation, as Thomas More, one of his heroes, did in Tudor England.

He warns that sharia law -- which Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams suggested could be allowed to operate for Muslims in Britain -- allows for no such separation and is nothing like Catholic canon law, which pertains only to church matters. "Sharia law governs every aspect of every day life," he says. "It is important that people make the distinction and understand that."

Burke is also conscious of the wider culture wars and the dumbing down of education.
As a bishop, he built a shrine to the Virgin Mary, only to find it criticised by journalists for being medieval. "I asked the journalist what he understood about one of the great periods of history and he mentioned Dungeons and Dragons [a fantasy game]."

In his view, Christian churches are crucial to the flourishing of Western democracy: "To the degree that we restore respect for the essential relationship between faith and reason, to that degree we are filled with hope for the future of a culture which otherwise can only be in decline."

Burke favours tightening up the liturgy of the mass, which will happen in Australia when the new translation of the mass is used from June 12. The mass, he has said, is about worshipping God and not primarily about the community.

Never one to mince words, he says: "Too many priests and bishops treat violations of liturgical norms as something that is unimportant when, in fact, they are serious abuses."


World Youth Day 2011

‘Catholic Olympics’ beckons local tradesperson

WATERLOO REGION — After working all day, Paul Sabina, 24, goes to evening mass.

“It’s awesome,’’ said the Kitchener electrician.

“Growing up, I just did what everybody else did,’’ said the St. Mary’s High School graduate who went to church occasionally with his family. “I didn’t care too much for religion.’’

But for the past six months, Sabina has been on what he calls a journey that is leading him to God.
Sabina said he began to look closer at his faith when he was in a serious relationship with a woman of Protestant faith. In his attempt to learn more about her faith, he became enthralled with his own.
And this summer, his journey will take him to Madrid, Spain, for World Youth Day 2011. Joining him is Terese Miller of Cambridge.

“It’s like the Catholic Olympics,’’ said Sabina. “This is an invitation from the Pope and I will be with the successor of Peter.’’

World Youth Day started in 1986 by the late Pope John Paul. The first event was held in Rome and has since been held in at least 10 different countries about every three years.

This year, the seven-day event, which usually attracts youth from 18 to 24 years, will be held in Madrid, Spain, from Aug. 15 to 21.

For Miller, World Youth Day is a mission for Christ.

“I believe in divine providence and that everything happens for a reason,’’ she said.
When she heard the event was slated for Spain, she knew she had to go. Miller, who has lived in Spain working as an au pair, wanted to return.

“It’s not just a trip for me. What can I do for others, how can I help Spain change, how can I change me and them for the better,’’ she said.

Miller hopes to do missionary work in the future and work in an orphanage in the Ukraine.
Miller was born and raised as a Catholic in a family of 11 in Mitchell. She’s always been loyal to her faith and remains fervent about her religion.

“I get challenged every day because I’m surrounded by secular people,’’ said Miller, an early childhood educator.

“I show my religion and that I believe in God. I get told that that’s weird,’’ she said. “But that’s OK. Jesus died on the cross for me and I’m doing this for the one I love.’’

Rev. Paul Nicholson, a priest at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Kinkora near Stratford and another parish in Mitchell, will take about 80 youth, primarily from Ontario, to Spain this summer.
It’s his seventh World Youth Day. Nicholson was 22 on his first World Youth Day in 1993 in Denver, Colo. In 2002, World Youth Day was held in Toronto.

For Nicholson, who never attended Catholic school, World Youth Day was an opportunity to be with other youths who were enthusiastic about the Catholic faith.

“I never felt mistreated in public school, but I felt alone in my beliefs,’’ he said.
For the youth in his group, the day will begin with early morning mass at 7 a.m. by Nicholson, followed by teachings by bishops and cardinals. The afternoon will be free for youth to explore the historic city of Madrid and meet other youth from around the world.

When Pope Benedict XVI arrives, a massive rally will be held. The day before the final papal mass on Sunday, a live Stations of the Cross will be held on the streets of Madrid.

Nicholson said the massive event allows young people to network with other Catholic youth who have similar views as well as clarifying their vision of their roles in their faith.

The youths’ names are brought to Nicholson’s attention through parish priests or by friends.
For Nicholson, organizing a group of 80 youth is cumbersome, and involves organizing airline tickets, hotel accommodations and activities once there. Each youth must pay $4,000 for the trip.

Nicholson has known Miller since she was a child in a Mitchell parish. He met Sabina about six months ago at an Opus Dei dinner in Kitchener.

Nicholson said Miller and Sabina will likely grow in different ways by attending World Youth Day.
“This is going to be an opportunity to fill out the picture for him so that his ideas become clear,’’ said Nicholson of Sabina.

“Terese is strong in her faith already. This will give her an opportunity to share herself with others,’’ he said. “She is fluent in Spanish. She will be a great resource for us.’’

To help youth financially attend World Youth Day, a fundraising banquet is being held Saturday, March 19 at the Croatian Roman Catholic Holy Family Parish Hall on Schweitzer Street in Kitchener. Tickets are $50 each and $5 for a luxury raffle. Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling Nicholson at 519-504-0876 or frpauln@gmail.com


Friday, March 11, 2011

The Enemy's Latest Front

Comparing Christianity and the New Paganism

Photography © by Andy Coan

The most serious challenge for Christianity today isn't one of the other great religions of the world, such as Islam or Buddhism.

Nor is it simple atheism, which has no depth, no mass appeal, no staying power. Rather, it's a religion most
of us think is dead. That religion is paganism — and it is very much alive.

Paganism is simply the natural gravity of the human spirit, the line of least resistance, religion in its fallen state.
The "old" paganism came from the country. Indeed, the very word "paganism" comes from the Latin pagani, "from the fields" or "country-dwellers." Country people were the last to be converted to Christianity during the Roman Empire, the last to abandon their ancestral roots in pre-Christian belief. Today, country people are the last to abandon Christianity for the "new" paganism, which flourishes in the cities.

The old paganism was a far greater thing than the new. In fact, Chesterton brilliantly summarized the entire spiritual history of the world in this one sentence: "Paganism was the biggest thing in the world, and Christianity was bigger and everything since has been comparatively small."

There were at least three elements in the old paganism that made it great. And all three are missing in the new paganism

The first is the sense of piety (pietas), the natural religious instinct to respect something greater than yourself, the humility that instinctively realizes man's subordinate place in the great scheme of things. "Moderation" or "temperance" went along with this, especially in classical civilization. The motto "nothing too much" was inscribed over every temple to Apollo, along with "know thyself."

This natural modesty and respect contrast sharply with the arrogant attitude of the new pagan in the modern West. Only Oriental societies still preserve a traditional reverence. The West does not understand this, and thinks it quaint at best and hypocritical at worst.

The new paganism is the virtual divinization of man, the religion of man as the new God. One of its popular slogans, repeated often by Christians, is "the infinite value of the human person." Its aim is building a heaven on earth, a secular salvation. Another word for the new paganism is humanism, the religion that will not lift up its head to the heavens but stuffs the heavens into its head.

A second ingredient of the old paganism that's missing in the new is an objective morality, what C.S. Lewis called "the Tao" in his prophetic little classic "The Abolition of Man." To pre-modern man, pagan as well as Christian, moral rules were absolute: unyielding and unquestionable. They were also objective: discovered rather than created, given in the nature of things.

This has all changed. The new paganism is situational and pragmatic. It says we are the makers of moral values. It not only finds the moral law written in the human heart but also by the human heart. It acknowledges no divine revelation, thus no one's values can be judged to be wrong.

The new paganism's favorite Scripture is "judge not." The only judgment is the judgment against judging. The only thing wrong is the idea that there is a real wrong.

The only thing to feel guilty about is feeling guilty. And, since man rather than God is the origin of values, don't impose "your" values on me (another favorite line).

This is really polytheism — many gods, many goods, many moralities. No one believes in Zeus and Apollo and Neptune any more. (I wonder why: Has science really refuted them—or is it due to total conformity to fashion, supine submission to newspapers?) But moral relativism is the equivalent of the old polytheism. Each of us has become a god or goddess, a giver of law rather than receiver.

A third ingredient of the old paganism but not of the new is awe at something transcendent, the sense of worship and mystery. What the old pagan worshiped differed widely — almost anything from Zeus to cows—but he worshiped something. In the modern world the very sense of worship is dying, even in our own liturgy, which sounds as if it were invented by a Committee for the Abolition of Poetry.

Our religious sense has dried up. Modern religion is de-mythologized, de-miraclized, de-divinized. God is not the Lord but the All, not transcendent but immanent, not super-natural but natural.

Pantheism is comfortable, and this is the modem summum bonum. The Force of "Star Wars" fame is a pantheistic God, and it is immensely popular, because it's "like a book on the shelf," as C.S. Lewis put it: available whenever you want it, but not bothersome when you don't want it. How convenient to think we are bubbles in a divine froth rather than rebellious children of a righteous divine Father! Pantheism has no sense of sin, for sin means separation, and no one can ever be separated from the All. Thus the third feature, no transcendence, is connected with the second, no absolute morality.

The new paganism is a great triumph of wishful thinking. Without losing the thrill and patina of religion, the terror of religion is removed. The new paganism stoutly rejects "the fear of God." Nearly all religious educators today, including many supposedly Catholic ones, are agreed that the thing the Bible calls "the beginning of wisdom" is instead the thing we must above all eradicate from the minds of the young with all the softly destructive power of the weapons of modern pop psychology — namely, the fear of the Lord.
"Perfect love casts out fear," says St. John; but when God has become the Pillsbury Doughboy, there is no fear left to cast out. And when there is no fear to cast out, perfect love lacks its strong roots. It becomes instead mere compassion — something good but dull, or even weak: precisely the idea people have today of religion. The shock is gone. That the God of the Bible should love us is a thunderbolt; that the God of the new paganism should love us is a self-evident platitude.

The new paganism is winning not by opposing but by infiltrating the Church. It is cleverer than the old. It knows that any opposition from without, even by a vastly superior force, has never worked, for "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." When China welcomed Western missionaries, there were 2 million conversions in 60 years; when Mao and communism persecuted the Church, there were 20 million conversions in 20 years. The Church in East Germany is immensely stronger than the Church in West Germany for the same reason. The new paganism understands this, so it uses the soft, suggestive strategy of the serpent. It whispers, in the words of Scripture scholars, the very words of the serpent: "Has God really said...?" (Gen. 3:1).

The new paganism is a joining of forces by three of the enemies of theism: humanism, polytheism and pantheism. The only five possibilities for ultimate meaning and values are: atheism (no God); humanism (man as God); polytheism (many gods); pantheism (one immanent God); and theism (one transcendent God). The Battle of the Five Kings in the Valley of Armageddon might, in our era, be beginning. Predictions are always unwise, but the signs of the times, for some thoughtful observers, point to a fundamental turning point, the end of an age.

The so-called "New Age Movement" combines all the features described under the title of the new paganism. It's a loosely organized movement, basically a flowering of '60s hippiedom, rather than a centralized agenda. But strategies are connected in three places. There may be no conspiracy on earth to unify the enemies of the Church, but the strategy of hell is more than the strategy of earth. Only one thing is more than the strategy of hell: the strategy of heaven.

The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church; in fact, God uses the devil to defeat the devil, just as He did on Calvary, when the forces of the Hebrew, Greek and Roman worlds united to crucify Christ, as symbolized by the three languages on the accusation sign over the cross.

The very triumph of the devil, the death of God, was the defeat of the devil, the redemption of mankind, "Good Friday" Because God, who spoke the first word, always gets the last word.
Excerpted from Dr. Kreeft's book, Fundamentals of the Faith. We value your comments and encourage you to leave your thoughts below.  Please share this article with others in your network.  Thank you!  - The Editors

The Universal Church

The Need for Universals

Ideas Have Consequences
- The Need for Universals

“Wonder and the passion for philosophy, let us explore all aspects of life and understand all that it has to offer.
“I had claimed to have learned little to nothing in regards to valuable life lessons in the past four years. For that much, I was correct. But in the past five months, philosophy has taught me not to ‘know’ as much as I can about life, but to ‘understand’ as much as I can about life, and for that, I am forever grateful.”
-Gr. 12 Philosophy Student, June 2010
St. Jerome - by Caravaggio

In my previous article, I mentioned that the Holy Father expressed concern over what he called “the eclipse of reason.” I suggested that common sense is no longer common because of the relativistic mindsets within our culture. Unless we can begin to reconnect young people to reality as it is, rather than as we wish it to be, we will lose another generation to the malaise of relativism and, by extension, a lack of faith. This is why, as a teacher, I place a great deal of emphasis on our human capacity to reason in an attempt to instill a love for wisdom and God. It may seem that teaching common sense is simply stating the obvious, but as George Orwell (d. 1950) observed, "We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."

A Small Mistake at the Beginning
In order to understand what we as parents and teachers should do in our current situation, we have to step back for a moment and examine how we got here. There is no simple answer to this question. I’m currently halfway through a book entitled, A Secular Age, by Charles Taylor, a Canadian philosopher. At over 700 pages it is a tough go, but very detailed. The process has been a very long one – over 500 years – and it has many elements to it, but for my purposes I start with one turning point in philosophy.

St. Thomas Aquinas once said, “A small error in the beginning is a great one in the end.” As in geometry, so in philosophy – if you’re navigating a ship over thousands of miles, being off just 1 degree in your initial course plotting will leave you hundreds of miles off course at the end. The same with philosophy; if the beginning premise is just a little flawed, you will end up with some very serious errors at the end.

In the 14th Century, William of Ockham and others broke from the then common school of thought and began a small and gradual movement that has led to where we are today. His approach countered the position of Aristotle and Aquinas, who both held that universals had real objectivity (real meaning) in themselves as concepts. Instead, he argued that universals have only subjective value and no meaning in themselves. For example, Aquinas would say that the concept of "triangle" is a universal that captures the essence of what a triangle is, though triangles can only be experienced as a particular – this triangle or that triangle. William of Ockham argued that there is only "this triangle" or "that triangle" and the concept of triangle is just a mental construct, an image useful for discussion. When we extend this idea, then "human nature" has no meaning in itself except in individual observable human beings. Thus we cannot say that human beings by nature are curious: only individual men are curious as individuals.

If you do not completely understand the concept of universals, perhaps this comparison will help you to understand the impact of the idea. The Protestant Revolt by Martin Luther is analogous to what happened with Nominalism in philosophy. As Luther’s main premise, Sola Scriptura, eventually led to the rapid fragmentation of Protestantism, so that there are now over 40,000 registered Protestant Christian denominations, so too did the rejection of universals cause a fragmentation in philosophy into many different “-isms” that in our day has prompted the Holy Father to coin the phrase “The Dictatorship of Relativism.”
The current attitude towards philosophy that is prevalent today is another consequence of this abandonment of universals. Many people see philosophy as an esoteric, academic study that has no valuable application in the real world. That mentality is unfortunate because we are all philosophers. Recently, Dr. Peter Kreeft, in a 2010 address to the Catholic Medical Association, stated that, “Everyone needs not to have a philosopher, but to be a philosopher, though not everyone needs to be a professional philosopher… You can avoid being a professional philosopher, but you can’t avoid being a philosopher, a lover of wisdom. To love wisdom is simply to be human…” Therefore, with these two realizations in mind we gain a glimpse of the task before us. Philosophy needs to be reclaimed as a proper and worthwhile human endeavour, one that must be founded on reality as it is and not merely as we perceive it to be. Simple ..but not easy.

Ideas have Consequences
My approach to teaching philosophy focuses on the consequences of ideas, rather than just the ideas themselves. Today’s students are of a mindset that “actions have consequences” and only then, if you get caught. A connection needs to be re-established between the actions and the ideas that precede them. For example, if your idea of a good time is to get together with friends and get as drunk as possible, then your actions will follow that idea. You will purchase a large amount of alcohol, get together at someone’s house or cottage and then proceed to drink a great deal – usually by playing drinking games. This leads, of course, to other more serious consequences. Change your idea of a good time and your actions will change also.
Now, I don’t tell students this right away. When I begin teaching a new semester I introduce the topic that “Ideas have Consequences” and proceed to ask questions right away. Teenagers, generally speaking, tend to suffer from overconfidence in their understanding of life. That’s a nice way of saying they think they know it all. Since none of us do know it all, I immediately try to dispel them of that fantasy. It goes something like this.
Teacher: “Show of hands, how many of you are the NOT the same person you were back in Grade 1?”
(All hands go up)
Teacher: “So, when did you change your name and obtain new identification?”
(Stunned looks from students)
Teacher: “Well, if you’re not the same person you were in Grade 1, then you can’t be going by the same name or identity because that’s not you. The you that used to be you is no longer the you that you are now. So… are you going to change your name and ID or will you continue to live under a false identity???”
Students: “But Sir, that’s not what we meant!!!!”
Teacher: “But that IS what I asked and you held up your hand. So what is it? Are you the same person or not?”
That little exchange leads us to discuss the difference between who I am – my personhood – and my constantly changing attributes, characteristics, personality, etc. This little exercise will serve a role later when we discuss human nature, ethics, marriage, etc.

I follow the same format for questions like, “How many of you want to marry someone who will make you happy?”

Of course, many hands go up (which leads me to wonder about the owners of the hands that didn’t go up). I call them “foolish”. After the initial shock wears out, I explain to them that no one can make us happy because happiness comes from within. We also have an infinite capacity for happiness that no one person can fill. Therefore, it’s unfair to ask our spouse to “make us happy” and to do so is a sure recipe for divorce. Interestingly enough, a former student came to visit me last week and informed me that she had separated from her boyfriend for just this reason. Apparently, he said that she wasn’t doing enough “to make him happy” and she told him what she thought of THAT idea! It’s a real joy when your teaching pays off!
The big question I eventually ask concerns freedom, which students define as being able to do what they want, when they want, with no restrictions. By that definition, no one is free and any freedom you might have is an illusion. This leads to examining the idea that freedom is the capacity to choose the good… which leads to the question of what is good… which leads to the question of why we should choose the good… and so on.

G.K. Chesterton once described education as initiation, “It is in its nature a progression from one thing to another; the arrangement of ideas in a certain order.” As teachers and parents (parents are by definition teachers), we serve our students and children best when we lay out ideas “in a certain order.” Fortunately, when we see reality as objective – that is, real in itself and not just a construct of our minds, hence the recapturing of universals I spoke of above – this order comes out naturally. Take any subject, remember that good ideas have good consequences and that bad ideas have bad consequences, then follow the logic.

This will be my approach in this series; you can use it in class or with your children during dinner – because it is my experience that the best philosophy is done where food is involved!

One Soul at a Time
I would like to conclude with a word of encouragement. The state of our culture did not come about overnight and it will not be resolved overnight. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow; today’s trouble is enough for today (cf. Matthew 6: 24-34). God gives us, as parents, the children we need and He gives our children the parents they need. As much as we might be tempted to think otherwise, this was not a mistake. We should use every teachable moment that comes up (especially the evening meal) as an opportunity to examine life, for as Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.

The same goes for teachers. Every student we have in our classroom is there for a reason. Nothing is random for God. This is all within God’s plan. Once we are comfortable with this reality, we then daily take St. Augustine’s advice to heart – work as if everything depended on you and pray as if everything depended on God.
This article is a part of the ongoing series, Ideas Have Consequences - by Dennis Buonafede. We value your comments and encourage you to leave your thoughts below.  Please share this article with others in your network.  Thank you!  - The Editors