"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, May 31, 2012

Escape From Apathy-ville

by Randy Hain

"St. Michael the Archangel"

Please join me for a moment of honest self-reflection.

Do you ever feel numb or helpless in the face of all the problems the world faces each day?

One only has to watch the news or follow the events of the day online to feel completely overwhelmed. Some of the challenges facing the world include ever-increasing threats to our Catholic faith. The Church is being accosted on all sides and the culture wars are raging. We are locked in an ongoing series of battles over the HHS Mandate, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and immigration. There is a crisis in vocations to the priesthood and in some areas of our country, parishes are nearly empty. The sex abuse crisis in the Church continues to dominate the headlines of the mainstream media. These are real issues which demand a response.

What can we do? How do we engage?

Unfortunately, many of us succumb to feelings of indifference and apathy rather than get involved. We may think to ourselves that somebody else will take care of these problems as we have enough to handle already or believe the issues don’t really affect us. At times, it feels to me like we are living in an isolated little town of our own making called Apathy-ville.

How did we get here?

If we take a candid look around us, it is obvious that we live in a consumer-driven, materialistic society. Advertisers bombard us with messages about how our lives can be so much better if we only had the latest gadget or toy. Additionally, over the last few years, we have seen unparalleled growth in the federal government and its subtle, but ever-growing influence over the economy, healthcare and education as well as moral issues such as abortion and marriage. It seems that so many of us have wrongly placed our faith in material things, the government and ourselves, instead of in Christ and His Church. Political correctness has seeped into our collective consciousness like a disease and made us fearful of saying and doing what is necessary to defend our faith and stand up for what is right and true. If we tolerate everything, it leads one to think that we likely stand for nothing. “I don’t want to offend” often translates into “I am not willing to defend.” As G.K. Chesterton once said, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”

They said it best

To stimulate more self-awareness and reflection on how we may have arrived in Apathy-ville, I have listed below some quotes which I hope will challenge all of us, make us question our actions and serve as a catalyst for different behaviors. Let’s be honest as we ask ourselves if any of these quotes apply to us.

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Matt 10:32-33)

“So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:16)

“For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.” (2 Tim 4:3-4)

“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” (Blessed John Paul II)

“You cannot please both God and the world at the same time. They are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions.” (St. John Vianney)

“Faced with today’s problems and disappointments, many people will try to escape from their responsibility. Escape in selfishness, escape in sexual pleasure, escape in drugs, escape in violence, escape in indifference and cynical attitudes. I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape.” (Blessed John Paul II)

“Really, most of us live below the level of our energy. And in order to be happy, we have to do more. Now, we can do more, spiritually and every other way. . . so you see how important it is to have in the mind to do all that you can. To work to the limit of your ability. Our world is really suffering from indifference. Indifference is apathy, not caring. I wonder maybe if our Lord does not suffer more from our indifference, than he did from the Crucifixion.” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

How do we respond? What can we do?

First of all, we can’t stand on the sidelines and watch. We also must believe that one person can make a difference! At times it seems we have lost our way and forgotten or ignored the teachings of the Church. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadephia offers this insight which cuts to the heart of the matter in his excellent book, Render Unto Caesar (p.197): “What needs to be done by Catholics today for their country? The answer is:Don’t lie. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to prove it. America’s public life needs people willing to stand alone, without apologies, for the truth of the Catholic faith and the common human values it defends. One person can make a difference – if that individual has a faith he or she is willing to suffer for.” Are we willing to suffer for our faith? What sacrifices are we willing to make to follow the teachings of the Church?

Are there good examples for us to follow?

The good news is we have many examples to emulate, ranging from the numerous Pro-Life groups who pray outside abortion clinics to the Bishops who are challenging government leaders over the HHS Mandate, same-sex marriage and reforming our immigration laws. Some of the greatest examples may be our friends and neighbors who pray constantly for the Church in the quiet of their homes, who write letters to their government representatives and devote time before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer for the blessing of the Church and Pope Benedict. There are also those who offer financial and personal support to those in critical need. Also, remember our Priests and the incredible job they do in serving their parishes. We clearly have examples to follow, but far too many of us have only been watching, tolerating and…turning away.

Two Important Things to Remember

Is simply being Catholic enough to motivate everyone to authentically embrace the responsibilities of our faith? One would hope so, but perhaps we need these additional reminders:

1. We all received the call to holiness at our Baptism.

“The call to holiness is rooted in Baptism and proposed anew in the other Sacraments, principally in the Eucharist. Since Christians are reclothed in Christ Jesus and refreshed by his Spirit, they are ‘holy’. They therefore have the ability to manifest this holiness and the responsibility to bear witness to it in all that they do. The apostle Paul never tires of admonishing all Christians to live ‘as is fitting among saints’ (Eph 5:3). (Blessed John Paul II, Christifideles Laici 16)

2. We are made for Heaven, not this place.

‎”The big, blazing truth about man is that he has a heaven-sized hole in his heart, and nothing else can fill it. We pass our lives trying to fill the Grand Canyon with marbles. As St. Augustine said: ‘Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” (Peter Kreeft)

“We must always remind ourselves that we are pilgrims until we arrive at our heavenly homeland, and we must not let our affections delay us in the roadside inns and lands through which we pass, otherwise we will forget our destination and lose interest in our final goal.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

‎”I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.” (C.S. Lewis)

Please reflect carefully on these two points as we can clearly see how to conduct ourselves on our faith journeys (the call to holiness) and our final destination (Heaven). As Catholics, we are set apart and therefore not to allow ourselves to be assimilated into the surrounding culture. It requires courage, trials and often loneliness to walk this path, but we know what our final reward will be if we embrace our calling.

5 Keys to Escaping Apathy-ville

How do we escape Apathy-ville? First, we need to acknowledge that perhaps our personal response (and indifference) to the challenges the Church faces is woefully inadequate. Second, we must truly desire to do something about it. I have quoted the teaching of Our Lord and the wisdom of Pope John Paul II, Saints and others in an effort to illuminate the right path. I have reminded us of the call to holiness which we received at our Baptism and that we are all made for Heaven, and not this place. What else do we require to leave Apathy-ville? Here are five tips:

1. Stop practicing “Cafeteria Catholicism.” We can’t pick and choose what we believe and still be authentically Catholic. Follow the Magisterium and authentically practice our faith, trusting that two millennia of Church history and teaching are far superior to what we may come up with on our own. ‎”Be Catholic, really, faithfully, unapologetically Catholic, and the future will have the kind of articulate and morally mature leaders it needs.” (Archbishop Charles Chaput)

2. We can’t explain or defend what we don’t know. We may be indifferent to challenges the Church faces because we don’t understand them. We may believe the lies and half-truths being said about Catholicism because we have forgotten or never bothered to learn the truth of what the Church teaches. Poor faith formation for a generation of Catholics is one of the biggest problems the Church faces today. We have to study our faith-the Bible, the Catechism, parish adult education and a number of online resources are readily available.

3. Prayer is the key. We can’t remain apathetic about Christ and His Church if we are conversing with Him in prayer each day. Most indifferent Catholics I have encountered are struggling in their prayer lives and yet, turning our thoughts to Him in prayer, thanking Him and asking for His help can be so easy if we will only surrender and acknowledge that we can’t do it alone.

4. Put our Pride aside. Peter Kreeft wrote: ‎”The national anthem of Hell is ‘I did it my way.” It must take a pretty big ego to show indifference to Christ and His Church! What we need is more humility and a sincere commitment to put Christ’s will before our own. I know from personal experience that doing it my way has never really worked out well!

5. Know the enemy. We rarely hear this in homilies these days and little is written about it in contemporary books or articles, but who stands to gain the most by our apathy towards defending the Church? The Devil is the clear winner. Read the Book of Revelation to see the similarities between modern times and the prophetic visions of Saint John, or heed the words of Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina: “Temptations, discouragement and unrest are the wares offered by the enemy. Remember this: if the devil makes noise, it is a sign that he is still outside and not yet within. That which must terrify us is his peace and concord with the human soul. That which comes from Satan begins with calmness and ends in storm, indifference and apathy.”

What could be said about resisting an indifferent attitude towards our Catholic faith would fill several volumes and much more needs to be written and discussed on this subject. My goal is simply to grab your attention, if only for a few minutes, and tell you we are in trouble if we don’t step up in defense of Mother Church. You may ask yourself what gives me the right to challenge you and everyone else about being apathetic.

To put it simply, I am just like many of you. I am human…and I have my struggles with this problem as well. But, I also know full well we can’t continue looking to others to fight issues counter to the teachings of the Church. What is going on matters to us, our children, our friends, neighbors… the entire world.

The last train is ready to leave Apathy-ville… will we be on board?

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Randy Hain, Senior Editor for The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was recently released by Liguori Publications. The Catholic Briefcase is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online and your local Catholic bookstore.

The Catholic Briefcase was recently voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How about moving the "Sign of Peace" to the Narthex?

Cardinal Arinze: Pope considering moving sign of peace

Cardinal Francis Arinze

Vatican City, Nov 24, 2008 / 12:33 pm (CNA).- The prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Francis Arinze, has said that Pope Benedict XVI may consider moving the sign of peace to before the offertory, “in order to create a moment of reflection while we prepare for communion.”

In an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano on the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, Cardinal Arinze explained that “a different placement of the sign of peace” is under consideration. “Often the full significance of this gesture is not understood. It is seen as an occasion to shake the hands of our friends, when in reality it is a way of saying to the one next to us that the peace of Christ, truly present on the altar, is also for all mankind.”

“In order to create a more meditative atmosphere as we prepare for Communion, moving the sign of peace to the offertory is being considered. The Pope has consulted the bishops, and later he will decide,” Arinze explained.

Cardinal Arinze later explained that his dicastery “is not a sort of ‘ecclesiastical’ police or ‘intervener’ for every problem. The dicastery was created first of all to promote divine worship,” although “we certainly cannot close our eyes to objectively problematic situations,” he added.

“The 2004 document Redemptoris Sacramentum points out that many of the liturgical abuses “are not due to ill will but rather ignorance. Some just don’t know, but they also don’t know they are ignoring something. They don’t know, for example, that words and gestures have roots in the tradition of the Church. Thus they think they are being more original and creative by changing these texts and gestures. In response to this situation, it is necessary to reaffirm that the liturgy is sacred and is the public prayer of the Church.”

Cardinal Burke's Homily at London Oratory

‘Never cease to centre your lives in the Sacred liturgy’: the full text of Cardinal Raymond Burke’s homily at the London Oratory

Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura pays tribute to St Philip Neri

By CARDINAL RAYMOND BURKE on Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cardinal Burke enters the London Oratory on Saturday (Photo courtesy of the Oratory)

This is the full text of the homily preached by Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, at the London Oratory on the Solemnity of St Philip Neri on May 26:

"Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for ever. Amen.

The Parable of the Vine and the Branches expresses the intimacy of our communion with Christ through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts. Indeed once we have received the sevenfold gift of divine truth and love into our hearts, we belong totally to Christ. He lives in us, and we live in Him. Once we have received the gift of Christ’s life within us, Christ must become our all. Christ becomes more intimate to us than we are to ourselves; in Him alone do we come to know our true self and to live in accord with that truth.

Christ tells us in unequivocal terms: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Christ goes on to promise, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” His promise does not signify some sure formula to attain the fulfillment of capricious desires but rather the assurance of the grace to live coherently and fully in Christ in all things and so to accomplish what is truly the deepest desire of every human heart, that is, the love of God with all our heart and the love of our neighbor without boundary.

Regarding our daily life in Christ, Saint Paul teaches us: “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Saint Paul urges us to center our thoughts on every excellence, “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,” and to act according to the True, the Beautiful and the Good. Referring to the miracle of God’s grace at work within his own soul, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, he confidently assured the first Christians at Philippi: “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.”

When our life takes its direction and energy from communion with Christ in prayer, we fulfill the plan of God the Father, the vinedresser of Christ the Vine and of us, His branches. Christ tells us: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” God the Father in His immeasurable and ceaseless love of us, sent His only-begotten Son to unite our human nature to His divine nature through His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. God the Son, consubstantial with the Father, became man, so that we, one with Him, uniting our hearts to His Sacred Heart, giving our hearts totally into His glorious pierced Heart, may live in God, may draw our life from God the Son Incarnate, may find in Him, in His Heart, the purification of our sins and the gift of divine love, pure and selfless, without measure and without end.

In the Heart of Jesus, through prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit dwelling within our hearts, we understand, as the sacred author of the Book of Wisdom understood, that the wisdom of God is the mother of all good. The sacred author declares: “All good things came to me along with her, and in her hands uncounted wealth. I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom leads them; but I did not know that she was their mother.”

In the Heart of Jesus, through prayer prompted by the Holy Spirit dwelling within our hearts, we find the strength to share without boundary the great treasure which God so richly imparts to us, undeserving as we are, in His only-begotten Son Whom He has sent to us as our Brother. In the Christian life, in our life lived in Christ, we see the fulfillment of the words of the sacred author: “I learned without guile and I impart without grudging; I do not hide her wealth, for it is an unfailing treasure for men; those who get it obtain friendship with God, commended for the gifts that come from instruction.” The sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit is our greatest treasure which is to be safeguarded and fostered through prayer and the Sacraments, and, at the same time, to be given without measure to every brother and sister, to our world. The life of the Holy Spirit within us is inherently dynamic for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of the world.

In the life of Saint Philip Neri, Priest and Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, whose solemnity we gratefully and joyfully celebrate today, we witness the Goodness, Truth and Beauty which is our life in Christ. Already at the age of 18, when, Saint Philip, a handsome, intelligent and most charming young man, was sent to live and work with his wealthy uncle Romolo in San Germano in Campania, with the prospect of inheriting the great wealth of his uncle, Saint Philip understood that he could not remain with his uncle. Already at a young age, he had given himself so completely to Christ that he, like Christ, wanted to make himself poor for the sake of the eternal salvation of his neighbour. He, therefore, left his uncle and journeyed to Rome, in order that he might grow in his knowledge and love of Christ. His disciple and biographer Antonio Gallonio tells us: “It was in the year of Christ’s birth 1533 that he betook himself to Rome, where he could be free, and with an unburdened mind devote all his thoughts and concerns to God alone.”

In Rome, he found a society and culture marked by the inevitable decay of a life lived without communion with God in Christ. From the very beginning of his life in Rome, he dedicated himself to prayer and mortification, to the life of the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Penance, to the study of philosophy and theology, and to the care of those in most need, in order that he might come to know ever more perfectly Christ and, therefore, to love Him more ardently. Once he had completed his studies, he dedicated himself totally to what he understood to be their end. He set out to give to others, steadfastly and tirelessly, the great treasure he had found in Jesus Christ.

Saint Philip understood that his brothers in the world, although they were giving themselves over to the confusion and error of a life of sin, desired, in the depth of their hearts, to know the truth which Christ alone teaches to us and to receive the love with which Christ alone loves us. Hence, his customary greeting, “Well, brothers, when shall we begin to do good?,” invited all whom he met to discover the source of the spiritual truth, beauty and goodness which shone forth upon his face, which were manifest in his words and deeds. He announced the word of Christ to others, led them to the Sacraments, above all the Holy Eucharist and Penance, and to the devotional life, especially through the Seven Church Walk; and introduced them to the life of charity, especially to caring for the sick in the hospitals of Rome.

For his own part, Saint Philip never failed to give himself to long periods of prayer, especially in the evening at the holy places of the catacombs, in order to remain coherent and strong in his love of Christ, and to resist the many temptations which Satan never ceased to place along his way. Near the burial place of his ancestors in the faith, with whom he shared communion in the Church, he prayed to live and to die for Christ alone.

Saint Philip’s unity of heart with the Heart of Jesus led to a physical expansion of his heart, so that he might receive even more fully the love poured forth from the Heart of Jesus. On this day, the Eve of Pentecost, in 1544, while he was praying in the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian on the Appian Way, “he suddenly felt himself filled with such a violent inrush of the divine Spirit,” causing his heart to beat ever more strongly and filling him with a love which could not be contained. Our Lord who expanded his heart with a particular outpouring of the Holy Spirit also enlarged the space around his heart, so that it might beat with ever greater love. Antonio Gallonio explains: “From that moment on, for more than fifty years, his heart used to palpitate violently, to a greater or lesser extent, as soon as he was mentally alert to God, so that not only his whole body shook, but even the bench or whatever he was sitting on shook during his prayer as in an earthquake.”

Belonging totally to Christ, Saint Philip’s life was marked above all by humility, by the recognition that he depended completely upon Christ for every grace needed and that Christ would never fail him. One understands what often is superficially interpreted as eccentricity in Saint Philip as his effort to make clear that it is Christ alone who matters and that any good which he was doing was done through, with and in Christ.

Likewise, too, the particular structure of the Congregation of the Oratory reflects Saint Philip’s desire that those who would join him in his life of prayer, mortification, and apostolic charity, should manifest always in a clear way the structure of life of the first oratory at San Girolamo della Carità, that is, that they should remain always humbly and confidently centered in Christ. In a most helpful study on the juridical nature of the Congregation of the Oratory, the author describes the life of the members of the Oratory from the beginning with these words:

“In addition to prayer, especially mental prayer, both preaching and administration of the Sacraments formed the basic life of Oratorians, with a special emphasis on the Sacrament of Penance. As well as the afternoon services, which became evening popular devotions at a later period, certain liturgical functions were prescribed in the Constitutions and these were always carried out with great splendour and correctness.”

It is clear, in fidelity to the particular grace given to Saint Philip, that for his disciple every energy is to poured out in living in Christ and in bringing Christ to others. Saint Philip wanted no attention to be given to himself, lest attention be taken away from Christ Who alone is man’s salvation. His spiritual sons, however, understandably and justifiably desire to be reminded of Saint Philip frequently in their everyday life, for example, by the striking beauty of the architecture of this church built for the Oratory, in order that they might never fail to imitate Saint Philip as fully as possible in their daily lives.

Celebrating the Solemn Mass in this Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we recall how the union of the heart of Saint Philip with the Sacred Heart of Jesus found its example and its strength in the totally pure heart of Mary. Here it suffices to recall the prayer of Saint Philip: “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me,” and his admonition: “My little children, be devout to Mary: I know what I am saying! Be devout to Mary!”

There are so many aspects of the life of Saint Philip Neri which express and illustrate the truth that we are indeed branches grafted into the living Vine Who is Christ, aspects which followers of Saint Philip and all the faithful want to imitate, especially in the trying time in which we live, a time when so many, like the Romans of Saint Philip’s time, have forgotten God and are ignorant of or hostile toward His law written upon their hearts. Today, recalling the heroic holiness of life of Saint Philip Neri, we cannot fail to note how similar his time was to ours and to understand how our time requires a heroic living in Christ, similar to his. May the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri here continue to be an inspiration for such living, and an efficacious instrument by which Christ purifies and strengthens us to live totally for Him.

Finally, it is important to underline one aspect, that is, Saint Philip’s attention to the beauty of the Sacred Liturgy, of the art and architecture of churches and chapels, and of everything employed for the worship of God. Saint Philip understood that our lives are first and foremost centered upon Christ, firmly and fully grafted into His Life, by means of Sacred Worship. For Saint Philip, everything about Sacred Worship must point to the beauty of Christ alone and of the eternal salvation which He has won for us. It is not by accident that the first two chapters of the original Constitutions of the Congregation of the Oratory treat, first, prayer and the oratory as primarily the place of prayer, and, second, the church and Divine Worship. Before the daunting challenges of Christian living in our time, let us never cease to centre our lives in the Sacred liturgy handed down to us in an unbroken tradition from the Apostles. Let us always discover anew the beauty of our life in Christ in the immeasurable beauty of His life with us through the Sacred Liturgy.

As we will now be sacramentally united to the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, let us, in imitation of Mary Immaculate, the Mother of God, and Saint Philip Neri, her beloved son in her Divine Son, lift up our hearts to the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus. Let us pray that we may be ever more securely grafted into Christ the Vine, that our hearts may be ever more totally one with His Heart, filled with humble gratitude for the gift of divine love coming to us from above, with humble repentance for our sins and with new energy to bring the love of Christ from His Heart into the whole world. Privileged to celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Philip Neri in his oratory here, let us pray that the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in London will continue to be, as it has faithfully been, a furnace of divine love, after the Heart of Jesus and the heart of Saint Philip, that it may prosper in teaching sound doctrine, in the ministration of the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Penance, and in the care of the sick and of all who are in need of a sign of God’s mercy in their lives.

As we prepare to be one with Christ in His Eucharistic Sacrifice, let us pray, through the intercession of Saint Philip Neri, with the prayer, inspired by Psalm 79, which is attributed to Cardinal Cesare Baronio at the death of Saint Philip, the English translation of which we owe to Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman:

“But now, look down from heaven, holy Father, for I will address you directly, from the loftiness of that mountain to the lowliness of this valley; from that harbor of quietness and tranquillity to this calamitous sea. And now that the darkness of this world hinders no more those benignant eyes of thine from looking clearly into all things, look down and visit, O most diligent keeper, this vineyard which thy right hand planted with so much labour, anxiety and peril. To thee then we fly; from thee we seek for aid; to thee we give our whole selves unreservedly. Thee we adopt for our patron and defender; undertake the cause of our salvation, protect thy clients. To thee we appeal as our leader; rule thine army fighting against the assaults of the devil. To thee, kindest of pilots, we give up the rudder of our lives; steer this little ship of thine, and, placed as thou are on high, keep us off the rocks of evil desires, that with thee for our pilot and our guide, we may safely come to the port of eternal bliss.”

Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
Saint Philip Neri, pray for us."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pope seeks adults "mature in the faith"

Pope Benedict XVI recently addressed the Italian Episcopal Conference. The messages he gives to Bishops' Conferences often contain material of value to the Church as a whole. In the speech, the Pope reminds his listeners that a deep faith is the answer to the problems of our age.

Venerable and Dear Brothers,

Your annual gathering in Assembly is a moment of grace, in which you live a profound experience of encounter, sharing and discernment on your common journey, animated by the Spirit of the Risen Lord. It is a moment of grace that manifests the nature of the Church. I thank Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco for the cordial words with which he received me, making himself interpreter of your sentiments: to you, Eminence, I address best wishes for your renewed confirmation as head of the Italian Episcopal Conference. May the collegial affection that animates you nourish increasingly your collaboration at the service of ecclesial communion and the common good of the Italian nation, in the fruitful interlocution with its civil institutions. In this new five-year period, continue together the ecclesial renewal entrusted to you by the Vatican II Ecumenical Council. May the 50th anniversary of its beginning, which we will celebrate in the Fall, be a reason to reflect further on the texts, the condition of a dynamic and faithful reception. “What interests the Council most is that the sacred deposit of the Christian doctrine be protected and taught more effectively,” affirmed Blessed Pope John XXIII in his opening address. And it is worthwhile to meditate and read these words. The Pope exhorted the Fathers to reflect further and to present this perennial doctrine in continuity with the age-old tradition of the Church: “to transmit the doctrine pure and integral, without attenuations or distortions,” but in a new way, “according to what is required by our times.” (Address at the Solemn Opening of Vatican II Ecumenical Council, October 11, 1962). With this key of reading and application – certainly not from the point of view of an “unacceptable hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture, but of a hermeneutics of continuity and reform – to listen to the Council and to make our own the authoritative indications, is the way to identify the way with which the Church can offer a meaningful answer to the great social and cultural transformations of our time, which have visible consequences also on the religious dimension.

Scientific rationality and the technical culture, in fact, not only tend to make the world uniform, but often cross over the respective specific areas, with the pretext of delineating the perimeter of the certainties of reason solely with the empirical criterion of their own conquests. Thus the power of human capacities ends by restraining the measure of acting, free from every moral norm. Precisely in this context, there is no lack of re-emergence, at times in a confused way, of a singular and growing question of spirituality and of the supernatural, sign of a “concern that shelters in the heart of the man who does not open himself to the transcendent horizon of God. This situation of secularism characterizes above all the society of ancient Christian tradition and erodes that cultural fabric that, up to the recent past, was a unifying reference, capable of embracing the whole of human existence and of articulating the most significant moments, from birth to the passage to eternal life. The spiritual and moral patrimony in which the West sinks its roots and which constitutes its vital lymph, today is no longer understood in its profound value, to the point that it no longer grasps the urgency of truth. Thus even fecund earth risks becoming an inhospitable desert and the good seed is suffocated, trampled upon and lost.

It is a sign of the lessening of religious practice, visible in the participation in the Eucharistic liturgy and, even more so, in the Sacrament of Penance. So many of the baptized have lost their identity and membership: they do not know the essential contents of the faith or think they can cultivate it without ecclesial mediation. And while many look with doubt at the truths taught by the Church, others reduce the Kingdom of God to some great values, which certainly have something to do with the Gospel, but which again have no concern with the central nucleus of the Christian faith. The Kingdom of God is a gift that transcends us. As Blessed John Paul II affirmed: “The kingdom of God is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but it is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God.” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio [December 7, 1990], 18). Unfortunately, it is God Himself who is excluded from the horizon of so many persons, and when the discourse on God does not meet with indifference, closure or rejection, it is nevertheless relegated to the subjective realm, reduced to an intimate and private event, marginalized from the public conscience. The heart of the crisis that wounds Europe passes through this abandonment, this lack of openness to the Transcendent. It is a spiritual and moral crisis: man pretends to have an identity fulfilled simply in himself.

In this context, how can we correspond to the responsibility which has been entrusted to us by the Lord? How can we sow with trust the Word of God, so that every man can find the truth about himself, his own authenticity and hope? We are aware that new methods of the Gospel proclamation or pastoral actions to make the Christian proposal meet with greater reception and sharing, are not enough. In the preparation of Vatican II, the prevailing question to which the conciliar Assembly intended to give an answer was: “Church, what do you say of yourself?” Reflecting on this question, the conciliar Fathers were, so to speak, led back to the heart of the answer: it was about beginning again from God, celebrated, professed and witnessed. Externally, seemingly at random, but fundamentally not at random, in fact, the first Constitution approved was that of the Sacred Liturgy: divine worship orientates man to the future City and restores to God his primacy, molds the Church, incessantly convoked by the Word, and shows the world the fecundity of the encounter with God. In turn, while we must cultivate a grateful look for the growth of the good seed even in a terrain that is often arid, we perceive that our situation requires a renewed impulse, which will point to what is essential of the faith and of Christian life. At a time in which God has become for many the great unknown and Jesus simply a great personality of the past, there will be no new thrust of the missionary action without the renewal of the quality of our faith and our prayer; we will not be able to give adequate answers without a new reception of the gift of Grace; we will not know how to win men over to the Gospel if we ourselves do not first have a profound experience of God.

Dear brothers, our first, true and only task remains that of committing our life to what has worth and remains, to what is really reliable, necessary and ultimate. Men live from God, of Him who often unwittingly or only tentatively they seek to give full meaning to existence: we have the task of proclaiming it, of showing it, of leading to the encounter with Him. However, it is always important for us to remember that the first condition to speak about God is to speak with God, to become increasingly men of God, nourished by an intense life of prayer and molded by his Grace. Saint Augustine, after an anxious but sincere search for truth, finally succeeded in finding it in God. Then he became aware of a singular aspect that filled his heart with wonder and joy: he understood that throughout his long journey it was truth that was seeking him and had found him. I would like to say to each one: we must let ourselves be found and seized by God, to help every person we meet to be reached by Truth. It is from the relationship with Him that our communion is born and that the ecclesial community is generated, which embraces all times and all places to constitute the one People of God.

That is why I wished to proclaim a Year of Faith, which will begin next October 11, to rediscover and receive again this precious gift that is faith, to know more profoundly the truths that are the lymph of our life, to lead the man of today, often, distracted, to a renewed encounter with Jesus Christ “Way, Life and Truth.”

In the midst of transformations that interested ample strata of humanity, the Servant of God Paul VI indicated clearly as task of the Church that of “affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation.” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi [December 8, 1975[], 19). I would like to recall here how, on the occasion of the first visit of the Pontiff to his native land, Blessed John Paul II visited an industrial quarter of Krakow conceived as a sort of “city without God.” Only the obstinacy of the workers had led to the erection first of a cross and then of a church. In those signs, the Pope recognized the beginning of what he defined for the first time as “New Evangelization,” explaining that “evangelization of the new millennium must refer to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. It must be, as that Council taught, a work shared by bishops, priests, religious and laity, by parents and young people.” And he concluded: “You have built the church; build your lives with the Gospel.” (Homily in the Shrine of the Holy Cross, Mogila, June 9, 1979).

Dear brothers, the old and new mission that is before us is that of introducing men and women of our time to the relationship with God, to help them to open their mind and heart to that God who seeks them and wants to be close to them, to lead them to understand that to do his will is not a limitation of liberty, but it is to be truly free, to realize the true good of life. God is the guarantor, not the counter-current of our happiness, and where the Gospel enters – and hence the friendship of Christ – man experiences his being the object of a love that purifies, warms and renews, and renders us capable of loving and serving man with divine love.

As the main topic of your Assembly evidences opportunely, the New Evangelization needs adults who are “mature in the faith and witnesses of humanity.” Attention to the world of adults manifests your awareness of the decisive role of those who are called, in the different realms of life, to assume an educational responsibility in addressing the new generations. Watch and work so that the Christian community will be able to form adult persons in the faith because they have encountered Jesus Christ, who has become the fundamental reference of their life; persons who know Him because they love Him and they love Him because they have known Him; persons capable of giving solid and credible reasons of life. Particularly important, in this formative journey – 20 years after its publication – is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, precious aid for an organic and complete knowledge of the contents of the faith and to lead to the encounter with Christ. Also thanks to this instrument, may the assent of faith become criterion of intelligence and action that involves the whole of existence.

Finding ourselves in the novena of Pentecost, I would like to conclude these reflections with a prayer to the Holy Spirit

Spirit of Life, which in the beginning hovered over the abyss,
Help humanity of our time to understand
That the exclusion of God leads to being lost in the desert of the world.
And that only where faith enters, do dignity and liberty flourish
And the whole society is built on justice.
Spirit of Pentecost, which makes of the Church one Body,
Restore in the baptized an authentic experience of communion;
Render yourself a living sign of the presence of the Risen One in the world,
Community of saints that lives in the service of charity.
Holy Spirit, which trains to the mission,
Make us recognize that, also in our time,
So many persons are in search of the truth about their existence and the world.
Make us collaborators of their joy with the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
Grain of the wheat of God, which renders good the terrain of life and assures the abundance of the harvest.

Benedict XVI: “So many of the baptized have lost identity.”

Posted on 24 May 2012 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) has been meeting in a plenary session these days. The Holy Father addressed them about the harsh reality we face as countries which were at least Christian but are now losing their identity. In Italy, of course, the situation is graver in another way because of Italy’s deep Catholic, not just Christian, roots. Loss of identity has been one of Benedict’s deepest concerns, even for years before his election. For Benedict, the concept of Europe itself cannot be separated from Christianity. That would be also the case in many ways for the USA. It certainly is the case in Italy.

During his speech to the CEI Pope Benedict said (my quick translation):

"A sign [of this separation of the West from its spiritual and moral patrimony] is the diminution of religious practice, visible in participation in the Eucharistic liturgy and, even more, in the Sacrament of Penance. So many of the baptized have lost identity and membership: they don’t know the essential content of the faith or they think they can cultivate it [He was, above, using plant and agricultural images] apart from ecclesial mediation. And while many look dubiously at the truths taught by the Church, others reduce the Kingdom of God to some big values, which certainly have to do with the Gospel, but which don’t any longer have to do with the central core of the Christian faith. The Kingdom of God is a gift that transcends us. … Unfortunately, it is precisely God who is excluded from the horizons of many people; and when one isn’t met with indifference, closed-mindedness or refusal, the conversation about God is nevertheless relegate to the sphere of the subjective, reduced to a private personal matter, marginalized from public consciousness. Pass from this abandonment, from this lack of openness to the Transcendent, the heart of the crisis that wounds Europe, which is a spiritual and moral crisis: man claims to have an identity fulfilled simply in himself."

In this context, how can we live up to the responsibility entrusted to us by the Lord?

There is quite a bit more, but I wanted to share with you this small excerpt.

We need a Marshall Plan for our Church.

After World War II many regions of Europe were devastated, especially its large cities and manufacturing. The USA helped rebuild Europe through the Marshall Plan so as to foster good trading partners and, through prosperity, stand as a bulwark against Communism.

After Vatican II many spheres of the Church were devastated, especially its liturgical and catechetical life. We need to rebuild our Catholic identity so that we can stand, for ourselves as members of the Church and in the public square for the good of society, as a bulwark – indeed a remedy – against the dictatorship of relativism.

If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, if we don’t know what we believe or pray as Catholics, then the world has no reason to listen to anything we have to say as Catholics. We will be all the more easily driven from the public square.

We see that the Obama Administration is trying to shift “freedom of religion” to simple “freedom of worship”. That is, they are working to shove religious expression and action out of the public square and relegate both solely to the private sphere, inside your house or your church. If we are weak, they will win. If we stay on defense, they will win. If we don’t live as faithful Catholics, they will win.

I have been saying that for any revitalization of our Catholic identity to be successful, we must renew our liturgical worship of God. We need action in every other sphere as well, but without a renewed liturgical worship, nothing else will stand. Everything else we do must be tied to our encounter with the transcendent.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

[Updated] Michael Voris in Toronto - My Thoughts

Happy Pentecost,

Regulars here know I don't follow the standard of most blogs by posting my own thoughts.  Eventually that might change, but as for now there are too many more interesting posts from much more knowledgeable people than I to spend your time reading.

There are however, exceptions to every rule.

Yesterday Michael Voris was in Toronto for a conference on the New Evangelization.  He gave three talks on the subject, three musical groups entertained, we had a nice lunch, there were various groups with presentation tables and a good deal of networking was done.  The event was organized by Catholic Chapter House.  I didn't think to do a head count, but it was somewhere between the original twelve at Pentecost and the current 1.2 billion baptized Catholics - most of whom weren't at Mass today.

Theresa, David, baby Trinity Gilbert of Catholic Chapter House with Michael Voris

Thought #1: Financial Reality.  It is a precept of the Church for Catholics to provide for financial needs.  We have a responsibility to contribute to the immediate costs of running the parish we attend, diocesan expenses, the Vatican, etc.  Of course there are other apostolates in the Church such as St. Michael's Media & RealCatholicTV where Michael Voris works.  It costs $10/month to be a premium member of RealCatholicTV - 33 cents per day.  If someone truly cannot afford that...ok.  For everyone else there is no excuse.  If we don't support courageous initiatives like RealCatholicTV we could lose them.  If you're not a member then go there now and sign up - just do it.

Theresa and David Gilbert are well educated, intelligent, and accomplished individuals.  They don't have to be running Catholic Chapter House.  When it is time to purchase gifts or another book for yourself instead of supporting commercial ventures that have no concern for your eternal soul consider buying from them.  They are hosting Dr. Scott Hahn in October so make a point of attending that event.  Keep an eye on their website for details as they are announced. 

Michael Voris recognized the outstanding media outlet here in Canada: Lifesite News  They cover international stories as well.  You may have noticed American mainstream media is ignoring the lawsuit launched by Church leaders like Cardinal Dolan against the Obama administration.  They also ignore the largest demonstration in Washington every year - March For Life.  The Canadian media virtually ignores the largest demonstration in Ottawa every year...yep...the March For Life.  Lifesite needs financial support too so they can continue getting the good news out.

Thought #2: Catechesis.  Most Catholics today received poor or no catechesis in school (sadly the latter being the better option).  We can't undo the past so let's quit whining and do something about our present and future.  One reason I strongly encourage everyone to become a premium member of www.realcatholictv.com (did you sign up?) is the tremendous wealth of catechism material it stores.  There are short presentations and university style lectures on many subjects.  A theme Voris kept coming back to yesterday was the requirement to actually know the faith if we are to share it with others.  There's no excuse - sign up.

Thought #3: Catholic Education.  While there is no sense in crying over spilt milk regarding our time in school, how many parents today demand the same mistake not happen to their children?  How many take an interest in their children's school materials?  Do you attend the parent-teacher meetings?  Have you written your bishop asking for more orthodoxy in your school's religion class?

I heard a university student describe his high school religion class as like a vaccine: a vaccine is a small amount of a disease, watered down and injected into a person who then becomes immune to it.  The same thing is happening in our schools today.  That's one reason why Mass attendance is approximately 25% or lower while many of them don't know why they're there.  While I don't condone it, I sometimes understand their absence.

Thought #4: Political Activism.  Do you vote for a morally based political party or do you make excuses like the 'seamless garment'?  There are guidelines on helping Catholics make sound choices on election day.  Don't make the mistake of standing before Jesus on your judgement day and trying to justify your support of forces contrary to His Church.

For those in Ontario, do you know where your Catholic school board trustee and Member of Provincial Parliament is positioned on Bill 13 - the Gay Straight Alliance ruse?  Here in Kitchener, trustee Anthony Piscitelli  is very much in support of the gay agenda.  Remember that and your duty on election day.  Did you know the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) champions Gay Straight Alliances and donates money to EGALE Canada (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere)? 

Follow the arrow, Anthony.  Leave our schools alone.

Ontario Bill 14 seeks to provide more protection for all victims of bullying.  Does anyone really think after-school clubs will end any form of bullying anyway? Actually, they could make things worse for gay kids.  No one deserves to get bullied and every Catholic is called to defend those targeted by violence.  However, GSAs will not protect kids so their advocates must have another motive.

Thought #5: The Great Equalizer.  Voris describes the Internet as the Great Equalizer.  Truly we live in the information age, the globe got smaller, news travels fast.  Gone are the days when subversive forces could control the message while assuming people wouldn't find things out.  Imagine for a moment the Second Vatican Council opened in 2012 instead of 1962.  Imagine our Church today just as it was in the 1950s.  Now imagine your pastor giving a sermon today about how the 'spirit of the Council' is calling for a new Mass.  Some people I know would pull out their smart phones googling for confirmation.  Would the grand Sanctuaries still get demolished and replaced with minimalist Cranmer-style tables so the presider could turn his back to God while performing in the vernacular?  Would folk bands in the Sanctuary replace pipe organs in the choir loft?  Would we start receiving Holy Communion in our unconsecrated hands?  Would Confessionals be converted into broom closets?  A friend of mine once said that individual clergymen caused every great crisis in the Church leaving it to the laity to fix.  The Internet is one of our best tools now that the rebuilding project has begun.

Thought #6: Networking.  At events like this it's uncanny how similar the stories are.  Faithful Catholics have endured great pains, are very frustrated, yet determined to get our Church back.  Jesus could have sent out thousands.  We may be small in number but so were the Apostles and they got things done.  Voris mentioned Truly Catholics as an example of ordinary Catholics infused with the Holy Spirit who decided to take matters into their own hands and engage in the New Evangelization.  There are other examples such as the Argument Of The Month Club 

Thought #7: Generations.  One thing I did notice is unlike the typical congregation on a Sunday morning, the crowd yesterday hasn't gone grey yet (myself excluded).  Actually there was a nice mix of all generations interacting like allies in the spiritual warfare we are engaged in.  A very nice lady who reminded me of my dear mother shared a cool Confession app on her iPad. I'll pass it along so my Mom can upload it to hers.  

Thought # 8: Striving for Holiness.  Another thing I noticed: it took over two hours for the Confession line to clear.  Dear pastors - if you preach about sin and salvation then make Confession available (ex: before Mass) - people will come.  As you should know the primary purpose of the Church is to get souls to Heaven.

Thought #9: Priorities.  Voris reminded us about our 'first love' in high school.  How as giddy teenagers we took great strides to find out everything possible about the object of our affection.  If we truly love God then we have to love the Church He gave us.  How many of us make time to learn about it?  Do we only invest the one hour per week to fulfill our Sunday obligation?  Is the television the focal point of your living room?  Turn it off.  Pick up a book on a saint, Eucharistic miracles, watch a video or a new media program.

Thought #10 Sacrifice.  If living as faithful Catholics results in an unexpected pregnancy then consider it a blessing not a financial burden.  If your children's school is too far gone then keep them home.  If your local parish liturgy is a danger to the faith then drive to the nearest orthodox one.   Depending on the situation, if things are really desperate, there are papal approved options.

No inconvenience or expense we can endure comes close to the Sacrifice on the Cross.  You may even have to take a principled stand and leave your current employer.  As Voris said, what's the worse thing anyone can do to you?  Kill you.  Big deal.  We're all going to die anyway.  What happens after that is what's really important.

Thought #11 Perspective.  The Church is in another crisis; this one more subversive and sinister.  There is no figure head like Arius or Luther; destruction is done behind the scenes.  During times of struggle there are more opportunities for sainthood.  We are called to be saints.  The Church Militant wasn't a paradise prior to Vatican II, if it was our Lady wouldn't have kept appearing to poor children.  No one knows the faith as well as they could.  Make the time, strive for sainthood, defend the faith.  Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  Do or do not - there is no 'try' (Yoda).

That's a good number to end on today.  May God bless you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Liturgical Pluralism and the TLM

The following paper was especially written for Rorate Caeli.

Liturgical Pluralism and the Traditional Latin Mass
John Lamont

The international federation Una Voce has recently released its sixth position paper, 'Liturgical Pluralism and the Extraordinary Form'. The paper makes assertions and raises issues that call for further discussion.

Several commenters, including myself, have been hard on this paper, so it should be acknowledged at the outset that it provides a conclusive answer to one objection that has indeed been commonly made against the practice of the traditional Roman rite (abbreviated henceforth as TLM). This objection is that unity among Catholics demands that they share the same form of worship, and hence that it is wrong to allow use of two forms of worship, the TLM as well as the Novus Ordo. The idea that it is the TLM rather than the NO that should be abandoned is taken for granted by this argument, which concludes that only the Novus Ordo should be permitted. The paper shows that the existence of legitimate liturgical pluralism within the Catholic Church means that the first premise of this objection is false – it is not the case that Catholics must all have the same form of worship – and hence it shows that this objection has no value.

The trouble with the paper is that it does not limit itself to the useful service of providing a purely negative, dialectical refutation of this objection. It goes further; it attempts to argue for a positive thesis, which is that the use of the TLM in the Church can be justified as an instance of legitimate liturgical pluralism.

It asks: 'the question to be addressed by this paper is whether the existence in the Latin Rite of an extra, ‘extraordinary’, ‘Form’ of the Roman Rite is problematic, and therefore something to be overcome if possible, in the short or long term, perhaps by the creation of a single, amalgamated, Form of the Roman Rite.' It gives an affirmative answer to this question on the basis of an appeal to 'the value of pluralism'.

One can discern a good intention behind this positive answer. It is to fend off the possibility of an attempt at creating a hybrid between the TLM and the NO, which would be presented as the real fruit of the liturgical 'reform' called for by the Second Vatican Council, and then used to replace the 1962 missal currently in use by traditionalists. (The word 'reform' is in scare quotes here because the Latin word actually used by the Council is not 'reformare', but 'instaurare', which means to restore rather than to reform; the English word 'reform' is an interpolation of the English translators of the conciliar text.) The plan of imposing such a hybrid as the sole liturgy of the Latin church is unrealistic, but the plan of replacing the 1962 missal with a hybrid (perhaps closely modelled on the 1965 missal), while leaving the Novus Ordo in place, is a real one that is promoted in some liturgical circles.

Such a hybrid would be a disaster, so the intention of fending it off is indeed a good one. But I want to argue that the appeal to liturgical pluralism is not the way to go about it.

The first step in this argument is to clarify the nature of the liturgical pluralism that is to be discussed. One understanding of liturgical pluralism is an abstract one, that simply claims that the number of legitimate forms of Catholic rite is more than one, without identifying any particular forms as being legitimate ones. This abstract sense is the only sense needed to rebut the objection that only one form of Catholic worship should exist. It is legitimate to use in in the negative, dialectical argument mentioned above.

The other understanding of liturgical pluralism as applied to the Roman rite is a particular one, that claims that both the TLM and the Novus Ordo, while different, are legitimate forms of the Roman rite. It is this particular understanding that is used by the paper to argue for its positive claim. The trouble with this understanding of liturgical pluralism is that if both the TLM and the Novus Ordo are legitimate forms of the Roman rite, it follows that the Novus Ordo on its own is a legitimate form of the Roman rite, and that both the TLM and the Novus Ordo are a 'response of faith to different conditions', and represent 'a treasury of theological and spiritual insights which complement each other'.

This position is untenable. As I remarked in an earlier comment on the paper, the Novus Ordo was devised on purpose to replace the TLM, because the theological content and general structure of the old mass were judged to be wrong and in need of abolition. Robert Mickens points this out:

'The old Mass mirrored a vertical hierarchy of truths, a strict discipline, legalism, conformism, and marked separation of clerics from the laity; the New Mass highlighted a dialogical dimension between priest and people, the active participation of the laity, and the possibility of adaptation (although this was often exaggerated early on). The argument was that the Tridentine Rite was not just a different way of celebrating the Mass, but that it was undergirded with a theology and understanding of the Church that was inconsistent with the Second Vatican Council. This was one of the reasons why the vast majority of members and consulters at the Congregation of Divine Worship, of which Archbishop Bugnini was secretary, believed any concession to traditionalists on the old Mass would be harmful to the liturgical reform and the pastoral efforts of the bishops to apply it.' (1)

Whether or not Mickens is right about the TLM being incompatible with the Second Vatican Council, he is certainly right about its being incompatible with the ecclesiology that undergirds the Novus Ordo, and is right about the designers of the Novus Ordo having introduced this incompatibility on purpose, because they disagreed with the ecclesiology behind the TLM. This is only one way in which the Novus Ordo is at odds with the TLM; the importance of the notion of sacrifice in the TLM, and its deliberate and virtually complete exclusion from the Novus Ordo, is another. The liturgist Fr. Joseph Grayland explains the fundamental reason for the differences between the two:

In the Christian tradition, liturgical rites express the church’s understanding of the ‘how’ of salvation as this is mediated through the ministry, mission and worship of the church. As ecclesial rites, the 1962 missal and the 1970 missal show the believer who can and cannot be saved and it is at this fundamental point that they part company, to such an extent that their difference becomes irreconcilable. These two missals ritualise totally diverse understandings of salvation, damnation and the Church’s role as mediator of salvation. (2)

He points out the implications of accepting both the TLM and the Novus Ordo as legitimate rites:

In responding to this development, Summorum Pontificum opens up real vistas of possibility in most seminaries, where any request by seminarians to be instructed in the sacramental rituals of the 1962 missal (as well as the 1970 missal) will have to be considered legitimate. The future direction of seminarians’ formation must include a serious debate over the use of two liturgical calendars, two forms of the liturgy of the hours and two forms of confession/ reconciliation-penance. In order to effectively minister as priests of ‘a twofold use of the same Roman rite’ seminarians will require formation in two theologies of church, priesthood, (lay) ministry and salvation.
… To view the reinstatement of the 1962 missal as just a liturgical change, offering another equally valid option for ‘saying Mass’ indicates, at least to me, a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature and role of liturgical worship in the life of the Christian Church. Those who will have no problem with this development will do so, because their understanding of worship is essentially ritualistic, not ecclesiological, and not liturgical. What is rejected and reinstated here are not two forms of religious ritual but two entirely distinct, and in my opinion, two irreconcilable theologies of how the Church mediates salvation sacramentally and pastorally. This development cannot be reduced to a crass competition between liturgical traditions or equally valid ritual gestures, as if the significant issue lay at that level. What is at stake here is the Church’s self-understanding of her role in the work of God’s salvation and how that role is mediated theologically through the Church’s liturgical worship.

As a Church, we are left with the reality that Catholics may now view the divergent theologies of salvation and sacramental-liturgical mediation as simply additional choices available to them as ritual-consumers. As long as they suspend their understanding of liturgy as being more than just ritual then worshipping according to one rite or the other will not constitute a choice by the worshipper for one understanding of salvation and sacramental-liturgical mediation over the other. This would then be, as Mark Francis observes, to ‘have succumbed to…relativism’ and to have created the ultimate expression of ‘the ‘Catholic cafeteria’’ (Mark Francis, ‘Beyond Language’, The Tablet, London 14 July 2007, p. 6). (3)

Fr. Grayland thinks that the theology of the Novus Ordo is correct and the theology of the TLM is wrong, but his analysis of how and why the two are incompatible is entirely correct. The incompatibility of the two rituals is well known to both traditionalists and non-traditionalists, and beyond reasoned dispute. And clearly the existence of two liturgies that have not only different but incompatible presuppositions and approaches, presuppositions and approaches that are incompatible on purpose because one liturgy was judged to be wrongheaded by the designers of the other liturgy, cannot be an example of legitimate liturgical pluralism. At least one of them must be wrong.

The paper might be defended on this count by its being pointed out that nowhere does it explicitly state that legitimate liturgical pluralism includes the Novus Ordo; it only claims that such pluralism applies to the TLM. But unless this legitimate pluralism is understood to include the Novus Ordo, at whom is the paper aimed? A response to this objection that appeals to legitimate pluralism must have in mind more than one legitimate form of the Latin rite. If there is not more than one, there is no pluralism to appeal to. But the different forms of the Latin rite that are in question here cannot be the traditional forms that existed alongside the Roman liturgy. No-one is objecting to the traditional Roman rite being accepted as a legitimate form of worship among other traditional forms of the Latin rite, such as the Mozarabic or Ambrosian rites; such an objection would be totally absurd to everyone. So the legitimate liturgical pluralism that is being defended can only be understood as the existence of both the TLM and the Novus Ordo as legitimate forms of the Latin rite. And that is untenable for the reasons given.

Of course a defence of the TLM that involves rejecting the Novus Ordo will attract great hostility from ecclesiastical authority and make life difficult for traditionalists. But Una Voce has encountered such difficulties before and survived. Michael Davies, the most important English-speaking critic of the Novus Ordo, served as the president of Una Voce for years without disaster ensuing. Leo Darroch's obituary of Michael Davies in Mass of Ages states; 'Perhaps [Davies'] most telling intervention [as president of the International Federation Una Voce] was in 2000 when he informed the [Ecclesia Dei] commission that moves to adapt the Missal of 1962 to include changes introduced in the 1960s would be rejected in their entirety by the traditional movement worldwide. The proposed moves were dropped.' (4)

Davies' example indicates that firmness is the right course to take with respect to attempts to hybridise the 1962 missal. But this firmness needs to be backed up by arguments, as it was by Davies, and the most important argument is precisely based on rejection of the Novus Ordo. Traditionalists have to argue that the Novus Ordo is based on bad principles, and hence that any moves to make the TLM more like the Novus Ordo are themselves bad and must be rejected. If this argument is not made, and the Novus Ordo is accepted as an example of legitimate liturgical pluralism, then there cannot be anything wrong with the Novus Ordo in itself, and there thus cannot be anything intrinsically objectionable about changes to the TLM that bring it closer to the Novus Ordo. The paper's positive argument from liturgical pluralism thus completely undermines its purpose of resisting such hybridisation. It could be objected that such changes would diminish the extent of legitimate liturgical pluralism, but as long as the hybrid was noticeably different from the Novus Ordo – which seems to be the intent of proposed hybrids - this argument would be extremely weak. The differences between the hybrid and the Novus Ordo would mean that liturgical pluralism had been preserved in the Latin rite. On this question the International Federation Una Voce needs to return to the correct stance of Michael Davies.


(1) The Tablet, 18 June 2005.

(2) Fr. Joseph Grayland, 'The Tridentine Mass again: Can the Church celebrate in two rites?', Compass: A Review of Topical Theology 41/3 (Spring 2007).

(3) Grayland (2007).

(4) http://www.ifuv.org/docs/michaeldavies_01.html.

TODAY 10 AM: Michael Voris in Toronto

Last night, two hundred people packed Mac Hall at the Bronson Center to hear Internet sensation, Catholic Evangelist and…uh…Peacemaker, Michael Voris.  Although I was expecting about 140 people based on the registration information that I received over the past month or so, it seems that word travelled quickly during the last couple of days and many people showed up above my original estimate.  The place was packed and there were about 80-100 people already there when I, my wife, and Michael arrived with the Tim Horton’s coffee, timbits, and other refreshments.  (Thanks to all who helped out last night including Cynthia B., who brought the fruit and veggies, Andy who helped out with the Sound and Chairs, and Paul L. who helped collect the donations, along with everyone else who helped prepare the place.) Oh and by the way, none of this was promoted by any parish in Ottawa or by the Archdiocese.  The word got out by the internet and word of mouth…which goes to show you that the communication lifeblood of the future underground Church will be through email, the Catholic blogosphere, and other undeground channels of cyberspace.
The actual talk was about 50 minutes, but we stayed for two hours until 10PM to field questions from the audience.  I brought along my digital audio recorder to record the talk. The quality is not great, but it’s audible.  The talk and the questions are presented below on Socon or Bust’s YouTube Channel, SoconTV.
Voris’s talk was entitled “Igniting the Firewall:  Drawing Boundaries & Preserving Catholic Identity“.
From all accounts, everyone thoroughly enjoyed Voris’s rather sobering and no-holds barred speech, and they even gave him a standing ovation at the end of it.  “Impressive” was the word that best summed up the evening, I think.   Other than his height, he’s rather larger than life.  (Sorry, Michael, I couldn’t resist). Some speakers disappoint when you see them in real life, but Voris is not one of them.  This guy is not like Obama who needs a teleprompter to put two words together, unaided. I don’t believe he even had any notes with him when he spoke, either. He just spoke from the heart (and head), like he knew what he was talking about, and he wanted us to know what he was talking about.  It wasn’t the fine dining that you might hear in the ivory tower chanceries, but we all enjoyed a robust, thick and well-done steak, just the same.  In fact, that’s what I fed him before we showed up…just to make sure he’d stay on message with some real spiritual food.  The audience just loved it, too, like castaways who’d been trapped on a remote island in the Pacific and hadn’t enjoyed a good steak in 40 years. Limpy, soggy seaweed instruction and coconut-like teaching, after all, can only go so far to feed one’s soul.  The only complaint that I heard was that the evening wasn’t long enough!  Not too worry, my friends, things are in the works to bring him back for an all-day affair with one or two other high-powered speakers.
I had a chance to spend some time with Michael during the afternoon, after picking him up from the airport.  We had some lively Church chats and shared some intelligence on various things which obviously have to stay confidential.  Suffice it to say, what you see on The Vortex is what you get in real life.  Many of us can’t say that.  We adopt a certain personna on the internet that is not always evident when we’re dealing with people in real life.  But Michael is not like that.   What you see, as they say, is what you get.  I find it refreshing.  As an aside, Michael got a kick that we have milk in plastic bags here in Canada.  He was rather amused with that.  Come to think of it, it is kind of strange.
After the talk, about 6 of us headed over to a local restaurant for a vlognic/blognic until midnight. Might as well squeeze as much time as we can out of him, I figured.
I want to thank all of you who came out to this talk and supported it financially.  This couldn’t have happened without your participation and sacrifice.  The total cost was $3,007.  Total proceeds collected was $3,024.
The Lord does provide.
Below are my introductory remarks followed by Michael talk and the followup Q&A.
….It’s edifying and encouraging to see so many people who want to see an authentic Catholic renewal without compromise.
Many of us are here tonight for a number of reasons:
  • We might be looking for an expression of authentic Catholicism, instead of the watered down pap we’ve been fed for decades by Church leadership;
  • We might be here looking for an expression of a healthy muscular and masculine Catholicism which pulls no punches and gives no quarter;
  • Some of us are here because we’ve simply HAD IT UP TO HERE with the scandalous betrayal of the Faith and massive gross negligence of it by those who are in charge of teaching the Faith.
  • Some of us are here tonight because we want to send a message to the progressives, the professionals, and the social justice clique in the Church that “your jig is up”…and
  • Some of us are here to find out how we can preserve and protect our glorious Catholic faith and our souls from a hostile culture by preserving our Catholic identity.
I chose the title of this talk Igniting the Firewall: Drawing Boundaries & Preserving Catholic Identity in order to be provocative and ecclesiastically correct.  For the past 40 years, since Vatican II, we Catholics have not been into erecting boundaries, of course.  It’s all been about tearing the existing ones down (like the Communion Rail in front of the altar, for instance) and being “open” and “tolerant”.
That’s great if you live in Shangrala, but we don’t live in Shangrala. This is not the Garden of Eden, in case we haven’t noticed. This is a war zone where the devil prowls around seeking the ruin of souls, as St. Peter says.  In a war zone, you need defenses, fortifications, and boundaries.  Every house has walls and a roof.  Ask yourselves why that is.
This goes against the conventional “Churchspeak” that we’ve been accustomed to in the past 40 years. It is confrontational, radical, intolerant, and reactionary.  In short, all things Jesus was by today’s standards and what Catholicism use to be.   When was the last time that any of you have heard the phrase “the Church Militant” from a priest or bishop, for instance?  That’s not very pleasant, is it?  It doesn’t fit the “serene” paradigm that we’ve been lulled into these many years.  But it is, as the Pope said just a few days ago, a phrase although “deemed a bit out of fashion these days, it is actually the phrase that best “possesses the truth.” This evil, he said, manifests itself in many obvious ways through “different forms of violence” but, more subtly, it can also be found “masquerading as goodness, and thus destroying the moral foundations of society.”
Now does this mean that we’re not joyful or open to engaging our culture in a spirit of charity?  Of course not. I remember that I once was dialoguing with a proponent of so-called gay “marriage”.  At the end of the discussion, I asked this person if a true friend always says “yes”?  Does love always says “yes”?  Is it always tolerant without distinction?  The answer to that, as any parent will tell you, is “no”.  To be successful in evangelization is to argue from a position of certainty and strength.  If you really don’t believe in your Faith and there are no boundaries to it, no one is going to be attracted to it.  If your house has no walls, it’s basically an open field and indistinguishable from anything.  The person who is walking by keeps on walking because there’s nothing there.
Tonight, we have a speaker who understands all of this perfectly, as we have come to know through his manly and courageous episodes of The Vortex.  I know that many of us have been greatly encouraged and edified by his witness.  The sentiment, I think I can safely say, about his witness has been “Finally, somebody who’s calling out the pseudo Emperors both inside and outside of the Church who have no clothes.”
With that, I’ll invite Michael up to give his talk.