"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)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Most of us would laugh at the idea of a masonic mafia at work in the Vatican. I’m not sure that we should

Catholic Herald

Should we be worried that Pope Francis mentioned a masonic lobby in his famous press conference?

By FR ALEXANDER LUCIE-SMITH on Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith

Alexander Lucie-Smith is a Catholic priest and a doctor of moral theology. On Twitter he is@ALucieSmith

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'The idea that there is a lobby of masons at work in the Vatican is an old one' (Photo: CNS)

Somewhat lost among all the commentary about what the Pope had to say about homosexuality in that press conference, is his passing reference to another ‘lobby’ that may or may not be at work in the Vatican.

“The problem is not that one has this tendency; no, we must be brothers, this is the first matter. There is another problem, another one: the problem is to form a lobby of those who have this tendency, a lobby of the greedy people, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me,” he said.

The idea that there is a lobby (or to be more accurate, a secret society, which is what the Italians intend by their use of the word) of masons at work in the Vatican, is an old one. At one time or another several leading persons in the Vatican have been denounced as masons, including Cardinal Villot (Paul VI’s Secretary of State) and Mgr Annibale Bugnini, the famous liturgist. When one points out that there is no shred of evidence that these men were ever masons, the very lack of evidence is supposed to be decisive. After all, the masons are experts at covering things up.

A few years ago, when a famous churchman in Italy was cleared by a court of the charge of being in collusion with the Mafia, the popular reaction was that this was ‘proof’ he really was a Mafioso. After all, only people not protected by the honoured society are ever sent down. The real Mafiosi are too powerful to touch.

Italians love conspiracy theories, and with some justification. Italy is a land of mysteries. No one knows who was behind the bombing of Piazza Fontana, or the massacre of Ustica, for example, and we are never likely to know now. But are there really freemasons in the Vatican?

Most English people would laugh at the idea of a masonic mafia at work in the Vatican. I am not sure, though, that we should. Masonry is far from harmless. There is a strong belief – on what evidence is not clear – that Continental masonry is markedly different from the British variety. While the British masons are supposed to be well represented in the police and the courts, Italian masonry is strongly identified with big business and banking, and the powerful secretive elites that are supposed to be the ‘real’ government of the country. Masonry is also seen as strongly anti-clerical; thus a masonic lobby in the Vatican would be opposed to virtually everything the Church stands for, and a real enemy within.

What are the beliefs of the masons? Masonry has its roots in the Scottish Enlightenment and the first masons came to England in the train of King James VI and I. The claims that masonry has its origins in the medieval guilds or in the builders of the Temple of Solomon are not historically sustainable. The programme of masonry, if it can be called such, is nothing more than Deism, the belief that while God exists, He does not intervene in the world, and the well-being of the world is not dependant on grace (the existence of which is denied) but on human rational progress and “science”.

The opposite of “science” is of course “superstition” or organised religion in its current forms. Masonry seem to me to have a close relation to the Whig theory of history, the belief in the inevitability of progress. Such beliefs, of course, completely deny the existence of sin, and the need for grace and repentance. Oddly, much of what the freemasons seem to believe is close to the neo-atheism of many of our contemporaries – except of course the masons believe in the Great Architect of the Universe – though why they bother themselves with this retired architect, I am not sure. After all, he is not bothered with them, is he?

If there is a masonic lobby in the Vatican, it could mean that there are Deists in the Vatican – people with a watered down version of the Church, religious indifferentists, people who no longer believe in the efficacy of the sacraments except as pieces of theatre, certainly not outward signs of inward grace. These sort of people would see the Church’s utility as that of an NGO like the UN. It is to be noted that the Pope has constantly warned of the desacralisation of the Church, and its turning into an NGO. Is he warning us against the agenda of the masonic lobby?

Secondly, the masonic lobby, if it exists, could be the lobby of Italian big business and Italian banking. As such it might have an interest in the way the Vatican bank is run; or it could be trying to undermine the Church’s social teaching. It could – historically – have been steering the Vatican away from compromises with the Italian left, the traditional enemy of the masons.

There again, the lobby could be a combination of both of the above. That is a truly frightening thought. Let us hope and pray that there is no masonic lobby in the Vatican. But the very fact the Holy Father has mentioned it, makes one wonder.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Altar and the Direction of Liturgical Prayer | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

The following essay is Chapter Three of The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, former prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Ratzinger summarizes the argument for the traditional celebration of the sacred liturgy facing liturgical East ("ad orientem").

The re-shaping so far described, of the Jewish synagogue for the purpose of Christian worship, clearly shows – as we have already said – how, even in architecture, there is both continuity and newness in the relationship of the Old Testament to the New. As a consequence, expression in space had tobe given to the properly Christian act of worship, the celebration of the Eucharist, together with the ministry of the Word, which is ordered towards that celebration. Plainly, further developments became not only possible but necessary. A place set aside for Baptism had to be found. The Sacrament of Penance went through a long process of development, which resulted in changes to the form of the church building. Popular piety in its many different forms inevitably found expression in the place dedicated to divine worship. The question of sacred images had to be resolved. Church music had to be fitted into the spatial structure. We saw that the architectural canon for the liturgy of Word and Sacrament is not a rigid one, though with every new development and re-ordering the question has to be posed: what is in harmony with the essence of the liturgy, and what detracts from it? In the very form of its places of divine worship, which we have just been considering, Christianity, speaking and thinking in a Semitic way, has laid down principles by which this question can be answered. Despite all the variations in practice that have taken place far into the second millennium, one thing has remained clear for the whole of Christendom: praying towards the East is a tradition that goes back to the beginning. Moreover, it is a fundamental expression of the Christian synthesis of cosmos and history, of being rooted in the once-for-all events of salvation history while going out to meet the Lord who is to come again. Here both the fidelity to the gift already bestowed and the dynamism of going forward are given equal expression.

The Orientation of Worship and God’s Omnipresence

Modern man has little understanding of this "orientation." Judaism and Islam, now as in the past, take it for granted that we should pray towards the central place of revelation, to the God who has revealed himself to us, in the manner and in the place in which he revealed himself. By contrast, in the Western world, an abstract way of thinking, which in a certain way is the fruit of Christian influence, has become dominant. God is spiritual, and God is everywhere: does that not mean that prayer is not tied to a particular place or direction?

Now we can indeed pray everywhere, and God is accessible to us everywhere. This idea of the universality of God is a consequence of Christian universality, of the Christian’s looking up to God above all gods, the God who embraces the cosmos and is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves. But our knowledge of this universality is the fruit of revelation: God has shown himself to us. Only for this reason do we know him, only for this reason can we confidently pray to him everywhere. And precisely for this reason is it appropriate, now as in the past, that we should express in Christian prayer our turning to the God who has revealed himself to us. Just as God assumed a body and entered the time and space of this world, so it is appropriate to prayer – at least to communal liturgical prayer – that our speaking to God should be "incarnational," that it should be Christological, turned through the incarnate Word to the Triune God. The cosmic symbol of the rising sun expresses the universality of God above all particular places and yet maintains the concreteness of divine revelation. Our praying is thus inserted into the procession of the nations to God.

The Church’s Living Altar

But what about the altar? In what direction should we pray during the Eucharistic liturgy? In Byzantine church buildings the structure just described was essentially retained, but in Rome a somewhat different arrangement developed. The bishop’s chair was shifted to the center of the apse, and so the altar was moved into the nave. This seems to have been the case in the Lateran basilica and in St. Mary Major well into the ninth century. However, in St. Peter’s, during the pontificate of St. Gregory the Great (590-604), the altar was moved nearer to the bishop’s chair, probably for the simple reason that he was supposed to stand as much as possible above the tomb of St. Peter. This was an outward and visible expression of the truth that we celebrate the Sacrifice of the Lord in the Communion of Saints, a communion spanning all the times and ages. The custom of erecting an altar above the tombs of the martyrs probably goes back a long way and is an outcome of the same motivation. Throughout history the martyrs continue Christ’s self-oblation; they are like the Church’s living altar, made not of stones but of men, who have become members of the Body of Christ and thus express a new kind of cultus: sacrifice is humanity becoming love with Christ.

The ordering of St. Peter’s was then copied, so it would seem, in many other stational churches in Rome. For the purposes of this discussion, we do not need to go into the disputed details of this process. The controversy in our own century was triggered by another innovation. Because of topographical circumstances, it turned out that St. Peter’s faced west. Thus, if the celebrating priest wanted – as the Christian tradition of prayer demands – to face east, he had to stand behind the people and look – this is the logical conclusion – towards the people. For whatever reason it was done, one can also see this arrangement in a whole series of church buildings within St. Peter’s direct sphere of influence.

The liturgical renewal in our own century took up this alleged model and developed from it a new idea for the form of the liturgy. The Eucharist – so it was said – had to be celebrated versus populum (towards the people). The altar – as can be seen in the normative model of St. Peter’s – had to be positioned in such a way that priest and people looked at each other and formed together the circle of the celebrating community. This alone – so it was said – was compatible with the meaning of the Christian liturgy, with the requirement of active participation. This alone conformed to the primordial model of the Last Supper.

These arguments seemed in the end so persuasive that after the Council (which says nothing about "turning to the people") new altars were set up everywhere, and today celebration versus populum really does look like the characteristic fruit of Vatican II’s liturgical renewal. In fact it is the most conspicuous consequence of a re-ordering that not only signifies a new external arrangement of the places dedicated to the liturgy, but also brings with it a new idea of the essence of the liturgy –the liturgy as a communal meal.

Misunderstanding the Meaning of the Meal

This is, of course, a misunderstanding of the significance of the Roman basilica and of the positioning of its altar, and the representation of the Last Supper is also, to say the least, inaccurate. Consider, for example, what Louis Bouyer has to say on the subject:

The idea that a celebration facing the people must have been the primitive one, and that especially of the last supper, has no other foundation than a mistaken view of what a meal could be in antiquity, Christian or not. In no meal of the early Christian era, did the president of the banqueting assembly ever face the other participants. They were all sitting, or reclining, on the convex side of a C-shaped table, or of a table having approximately the shape of a horse shoe. The other side was always left empty for the service. Nowhere in Christian antiquity, could have arisen the idea of having to ‘face the people’ to preside at a meal. The communal character of a meal was emphasized just by the opposite disposition: the fact that all the participants were on the same side of the table (Liturgy and Architecture, pp. 53-54).

In any case, there is a further point that we must add to this discussion of the "shape" of meals: the Eucharist that Christians celebrate really cannot adequately be described by the term "meal." True, Our Lord established the new reality of Christian worship within the framework of a Jewish (Passover) meal, but it was precisely this new reality, not the meal as such, which he commanded us to repeat. Very soon the new reality was separated from its ancient context and found its proper and suitable form, a form already predetermined by the fact that the Eucharist refers back to the Cross and thus to the transformation of Temple sacrifice into worship of God that is in harmony with logos.

Thus it came to pass that the synagogue liturgy of the Word, renewed and deepened in a Christian way, merged with the remembrance of Christ’s Death and Resurrection to become the "Eucharist," and precisely thus was fidelity to the command "Do this" fulfilled. This new and all-encompassing form of worship could not be derived simply from the meal, but had to be defined through the interconnection of Temple and synagogue, Word and Sacrament, cosmos and history. It expresses itself in the very form that we discovered in the liturgical structure of the early Churches in the world of Semitic Christianity. It also, of course, remained fundamental for Rome. Once again let me quote Bouyer:

Never and nowhere before [that is, before the sixteenth century] have we any indication that any importance, or even attention, was given to whether the priest should celebrate with the people before him or behind him Professor Cyrille Vogel has recently demonstrated it, the only thing ever insisted upon, or even mentioned, was that he should say the eucharistic prayer, as all the other prayers, facing East . . . Even when the orientation of the church enabled the celebrant to pray turned toward the people, when at the altar, we must not forget that it was not the priest alone who, then, turned East: it was the whole congregation, together with him" (pp. 55-56).

Unprecedented Clericalism and the Self-Enclosed Circle

Admittedly, these connections were obscured or fell into total oblivion in the church buildings and liturgical practice of the modern age. This is the only explanation for the fact that the common direction of prayer of priest and people got labeled as "celebrating towards the wall" or "turning your back on the people" and came to seem absurd and totally unacceptable. And this alone explains why the meal – even in modern pictures – became the normative idea of liturgical celebration for Christians. In reality what happened was that an unprecedented clericalization came on the scene. Now the priest – the "presider," as they now prefer to call him – becomes the real point of reference for the whole liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing.

Not surprisingly, people try to reduce this newly created role by assigning all kinds of liturgical functions to different individuals and entrusting the "creative" planning of the liturgy to groups of people who like to, and are supposed to, "make their own contribution." Less and less is God in the picture. More and more important is what is done by the human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a "pre-determined pattern."

The turning of the priest towards the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself. The common turning towards the East was not a "celebration towards the wall"; it did not mean that the priest "had his back to the people": the priest himself was not regarded as so important. For just as the congregation in the synagogue looked together toward Jerusalem, so in the Christian liturgy the congregation looked together "towards the Lord." As one of the Fathers of Vatican II’s Constitution on the Liturgy, J. A. Jungmann, put it, it was much more a question of priest and people facing in the same direction, knowing that together they were in a procession towards the Lord. They did not close themselves into a circle, they did not gaze at one another, but as the pilgrim People of God they set off for the Oriens, for the Christ who comes to meet us.

But is this not all romanticism and nostalgia for the past? Can the original form of Christian prayer still say something to us today, or should we try to find our own form, a form for our own times? Of course, we cannot simply replicate the past. Every age must discover and express the essence of the liturgy anew. The point is to discover this essence amid all the changing appearances. It would surely be a mistake to reject all the reforms of our century wholesale. When the altar was very remote from the faithful, it was right to move it back to the people. In cathedrals this made possible the recovery of the tradition of the altar at the crossing, the meeting-point of the nave and the presbyterium. It was also important clearly to distinguish the place for the Liturgy of the Word from the place for the strictly Eucharistic liturgy. For the Liturgy of the Word is about speaking and responding, and so a face-to-face exchange between proclaimer and hearer does make sense. In the Psalm the hearer internalizes what he has heard, takes it into himself, and transforms it into prayer, so that it becomes a response.

Turning to the East Essential

On the other hand, a common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue, but of common worship, of setting off towards the One who is to come. What corresponds with the reality of what is happening is not the closed circle, but the common movement forward expressed in a common direction for prayer.

Häussling has leveled several objections at these ideas of mine, which I have presented before. The first I have just touched on. These ideas are alleged to be a romanticism for the old ways, a misguided longing for the past. It is said to be odd that I should speak only of Christian antiquity and pass over the succeeding centuries. Coming as it does from a liturgical scholar, this objection is quite remarkable. As I see it, the problem with a large part of modern liturgiology is that it tends to recognize only antiquity as a source, and therefore normative, and to regard everything developed later, in the Middle Ages and through the Council of Trent, as decadent. And so one ends up with dubious reconstructions of the most ancient practice, fluctuating criteria, and never-ending suggestions for reform, which lead ultimately to the disintegration of the liturgy that has evolved in a living way.

On the other hand, it is important and necessary to see that we cannot take as our norm the ancient in itself and as such, nor must we automatically write off later developments as alien to the original form of the liturgy. There can be a thoroughly living kind of development in which a seed at the origin of something ripens and bears fruit. We shall have to come back to this idea in a moment. But in our case, as we have said, what is at issue is not a romantic escape into antiquity, but a recovery of something essential, in which Christian liturgy expresses its permanent orientation. Of course, Häussling thinks that turning to the east, toward the rising sun, is something that nowadays we just cannot bring into the liturgy. Is that really the case? Are we today really hopelessly huddled in our own little circle? Is it not important, precisely today, to find room for the dimension of the future, for hope in the Lord who is to come again, to recognize again, indeed to live, the dynamism of the new creation as an essential form of the liturgy?

Other Objections

Another objection is that we do not need to look towards the East, towards the crucifix – that, when priest and faithful look at one another, they are looking at the image of God in man, and so facing one another is the right direction for prayer. I find it hard to believe that the famous critic thought this was a serious argument. For we do not see the image of God in man in such a simplistic way. The "image of God" in man is not, of course, something that we can photograph or see with a merely photographic kind of perception. We can indeed see it, but only with the new seeing of faith. We can see it, just as we can see the goodness in a man, his honesty, interior truth, humility, love – everything, in fact, that gives him a certain likeness to God. But if we are to do this, we must learn a new kind of seeing, and that is what the Eucharist is for.

A more important objection is of the practical order. Ought we really to be rearranging everything all over again? Nothing is more harmful to the liturgy than a constant activism, even if it seems to be for the sake of genuine renewal. I see a solution in a suggestion that comes from the insights of Erik Peterson. Facing east, as we heard, was linked with the "sign of the Son of Man," with the Cross, which announces the Lord’s Second Coming. That is why very early on the east was linked with the sign of the Cross. Where a direct common turning towards the east is not possible, the cross can serve as the interior "east" of faith. It should stand in the middle of the altar and be the common point of focus for both priest and praying community. In this way we obey the ancient call to prayer: "Conversi ad Dominum," "Turn to the Lord!" In this way we look together at the One whose death tore the veil of the Temple – the One who stands before the Father for us and encloses us in his arms in order to make us the new and living Temple.

Moving the altar cross to the side to give an uninterrupted view of the priest is something I regard as one of the truly absurd phenomena of recent decades. Is the cross disruptive during Mass? Is the priest more important than the Lord? This mistake should be corrected as quickly as possible; it can be done without further rebuilding. The Lord is the point of reference. He is the rising sun of history. That is why there can be a cross of the Passion, which represents the suffering Lord who for us let his side be pierced, from which flowed blood and water (Eucharist and Baptism), as well as a cross of triumph, which expresses the idea of the Second Coming and guides our eyes towards it. For it is always the one Lord: Christ yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8).

Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles:

How Should We Worship? | Preface to The Organic Development of the Liturgy by Alcuin Reid, O.S.B. | by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Foreword to U.M. Lang's Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Walking To Heaven Backward | Interview with Father Jonathan Robinson of the Oratory
Rite and Liturgy | Denis Crouan, STD
The Liturgy Lived: The Divinization of Man | Jean Corbon, OP
The Mass of Vatican II | Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.
Liturgy, Catechesis, and Conversion | Barbara Morgan
Understanding The Hierarchy of Truths | Douglas Bushman, STL
The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Christian Spirituality | Mark Brumley
Eucharistic Adoration: Reviving An Ancient Tradition | Valerie Schmalz

Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, was for over two decades the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II. He is a renowned theologian and author of numerous books. A mini-bio and full listing of his books published by Ignatius Press are available onhis IgnatiusInsight.com Author Page.

Visit the Insight Scoop Blog and read the latest posts and comments by IgnatiusInsight.com staff and readers about current events, controversies, and news in the Church!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bishop Ronald Fabbro Elevates Windsor Tridentine Association to Community Status

Musings of a Pertinacious Papist


"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"
Tridentine Community News (July 14, 2013):
Twenty one and a half years after its founding, the first Tridentine Mass community in metro Detroit and Windsor has become the first one in the region elevated to independent Community status, with the right to maintain its own sacramental records.

“In order to provide in a stable manner for those members of the faithful who adhere to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, that is, the Tridentine liturgy, in the city of Windsor and the surrounding region”, and citing Canon 516 §2, Diocese of London Bishop Ronald Fabbro has established the St. Benedict Tridentine Catholic Community, effective July 11, 2013. The full decree may be read on the Diocese of London web site, in the Decrees area of the Parishes section. The name St. Benedict was chosen in consultation with members of the community, both because of the monastic example he set as well as for the Benedictine motto of Ora et Labóra, prayer and works. Fr. Peter Hrytsyk has been appointed Priest-Chaplain.

A transition such as this prompts an FAQ:
What exactly is changing?

The canonical form of the Windsor Tridentine Community is changing from a Private Association of the Faithful (the Windsor Tridentine Mass Association) to a Community (St. Benedict Tridentine Community).

What is a Community?

A Community, much like the Quasi-Parish established in Lansing, Michigan by Bishop Boyea for the Tridentine community there, is an entity which has much the same structure, rights, and obligations as a full parish, albeit to serve a smaller congregation.

Why not make it a “real” parish?

Relative to most parishes, the Windsor Tridentine Mass group is relatively small. A Community is the appropriate canonical structure given our size, age, and financial situation.

Are there other Communities?

Yes. There are several Communities in the Diocese of London serving ethnic congregations, for example the St. Philippe and St. Anne Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Community, which serves a congregation of approximately 300 and recently acquired Windsor’s St. Patrick Church.

What are the advantages of being a Community? Sacramental preparation becomes our own responsibility. We will maintain our own sacramental records: Baptisms, weddings, and Confirmations, for example, will be recorded in our own registers. Formerly these sacraments were recorded in the register of our host parishes, Assumption and St. Michael/Immaculate Heart prior to 2007.

Why is the Bishop doing this?

Twenty-one years of solid, reliable existence has proven to the diocese that we are a stable community. A more formal canonical structure recognizes that we are more than a glorified club that meets for Mass. It grants us security and assures us of a more permanent role in the life of the diocese. Our community is growing up.

What will happen to the Windsor Tridentine Mass Association?

The Diocese of London will no longer recognize the WTMA as the entity responsible for the Windsor Tridentine Mass, as it is being succeeded by the St. Benedict entity. It is possible that the WTMA may be maintained for specialized fundraising purposes.

Is the governance of the community changing?

Yes. Instead of being led by a board of directors, the Community will be led by a Chaplain, Fr. Peter Hrytsyk. As with a full parish, there will be a Pastoral Council and a Finance Council who will advise the Chaplain. The Church is a hierarchy, and we are changing from an ad-hoc organization to one formally led by a member of the clergy.

Will there be anything new?

We hope to start some form of social action or charitable activities. The community has grown to where it cannot only be a place where we have Mass. We must live out our Christian social service responsibilities, too. We also hope to hold occasional fundraising events, such as dinners.

Will we be getting our own church?

This is a matter of finances and common sense. Current revenue levels do not permit such an acquisition. Even if the diocese were to give us an unused church at no charge, the cost of restoring and maintaining the building would exceed our current abilities.

Those of us in metro Detroit and Windsor owe a debt of gratitude to Bishop Fabbro for supporting us through various “upgrades” since 2003. With this latest move, His Excellency once again sets a model which may be useful at other Tridentine Communities in the area.

WWJ Radio Reports on Chant Workshop at Detroit’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral

For the first time in memory, Detroit’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral hosted a Gregorian Chant Workshop this past Tuesday-Thursday, July 9-11, under the direction of Archdiocese of Detroit Music Director Joe Balistreri. Approximately 40 people across a broad spectrum of musical backgrounds attended. WWJ found the event newsworthy enough to merit a story on Thursday morning.

As Portland, Oregon Archbishop Alexander Sample has stated in at least two speeches delivered in recent weeks, “We are on the brink of a profound renewal of divine worship.">

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Catholic Answer to 'Catholic Answers'

Christopher A. Ferrara POSTED: 7/24/13


Patrick Coffin, Street Magician and Catholic Answers' Hammer of Traditionalists

Since the close of the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church has experienced the greatest crisis of faith and discipline in her history, caused by the spread of what Msgr. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has described as “a para-Conciliar ideology … that substantially proposes once more the idea of Modernism.” By Modernism is meant the “synthesis of all heresies,” as Saint Pius X called it, a system of errors that greatest of Popes fought mightily to suppress because it undermines every aspect of doctrine and praxis it infects, proceeding by artful ambiguity in theology, demands for the “reform” and “updating” of the Church, and the “simplification” of her divine worship.

In the midst of the post-conciliar neo-Modernist invasion of the Church, why did an organization that calls itself Catholic Answers devote two hours of expensive radio time on May 31 to a live talk show attacking, not Modernism, but “radical traditionalists”? Why did the hosts of this show, Tim Staples and Patrick Coffin, dwell on a few Catholic adherents of the Society of Saint Pius X who (allegedly) lost their faith, while ignoring the “silent apostasy” that plagues the entire Western world—and this a half-century after the Council that was supposed to have made the faith more accessible to the masses? Why have Staples and Coffin planned another two hours of traditionalist bashing on August 12? And why has Catholic Answers devoted not one minute of its live radio show to the grave threat a resurgent Modernism poses to the souls of Catholics, who continue to apostatize by the millions under its influence? The answer to these questions, in a word, is this: neo-Catholicism, a kind of well-mannered second cousin to Modernism. Inveterate Remnant readers will know what I mean by the term, but for newcomers to this controversy a bit of background is in order.

What is a Neo-Catholic?

In The Great Façade (Remnant Press: 2002), my co-author and I introduced the term “neo-Catholic” to signify a constituency quite unknown in the Catholic Church before Vatican II. The term suggests a parallel to the “neo-conservative” of politics, whose “conservatism” involves the conservation of a liberalized status quo that is actually an ever-widening break with the “paleo-conservatism” (traditionalism) of the past. In a manner akin to neo-conservatives who look down their noses at paleo-conservatives, neo-Catholics disdain Roman Catholic traditionalists because they have continued to be what neo-Catholics themselves once were, and what all their ancestors were for centuries before—that is, Catholics who believe and practice the unreconstructed faith of their fathers from the liturgy, to the catechism, to the rites of the sacraments.

Since the Council we have witnessed, for the first time in the Church’s bimillenial history, the emergence of a strain of Catholic “neo-conservatism”—hence neo-Catholicism—characterized by a staunch defense of unprecedented ecclesial novelties the Popes before the Council would have viewed with utter horror. Among other novelties comprising the liberalized ecclesial status quo of the post-conciliar epoch, the neo-Catholic defends the new vernacular liturgy (including the appalling spectacle of altar girls, approved by “John Paul the Great”), the new “ecumenism,” which has all but de-missionized the Church, and the new “dialogue,” which has reduced the perennial preaching of the Gospel with the authority of Christ Himself to a vacuous “discussion-ism” that avoids any open proclamation of the imperatives of divine revelation, especially the claims of Christ on nations as well as individuals.

Concerning “dialogue,” as Romano Amerio observed in his masterwork Iota Unum, this “is very new in the Catholic Church…” The word “was completely unknown in the Church’s teaching before the Council. It does not occur once in any previous council, or in papal encyclicals, or in sermons or in pastoral practice.” Yet this novelty suddenly appears 28 times in the Vatican II documents that were drafted in haste after the classically written preparatory schema, years in the making, were tossed into the trash following the famous Rhine group uprising on the Council’s third day. (Cfr. Wiltgen’s The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, pp. 15-60). Amerio notes that dialogue, “through its lightning spread and an enormous broadening of meaning, became the master-word determining post-conciliar thinking, and a catch-all category in the newfangled mentality.” (Iota Unum, p. 347). The newfangled mentality to which Amerio refers is the mentality fairly described as neo-Catholic.

The unprecedented emergence of a liberalized neo-Catholicism as the purported mainstream of the Church after the Council has given rise to a correlative and equally unprecedented development: ghettoization of the Catholics now called traditionalists, who declined to embrace ecclesial innovations introduced in the Sixties and Seventies, which were never imposed as binding matters of faith and morals in the first place. (No Catholic, for example, has ever been obliged to attend the New Mass or to participate in “ecumenical prayer meetings,” much less the bizarre inter-religious spectacles of which John Paul “the Great” was so fond.)

This unparalleled sweeping liberalization of the Church in the name of Vatican II—all in the vain hope of making her doctrine and worship more appealing to “the modern world”—has, of course, come to ruin. Former Pope Benedict, who made significant efforts to reverse the debacle, laid all reasonable debate on that score to rest during the final days of his all-too-brief pontificate. In his address to members of the Roman Curia he blamed a “virtual Council” and a “Council of the media” for what happened: “so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy banalized…”

And it was Benedict who, writing as Cardinal Ratzinger, made this astonishing observation about a situation the Church has never before encountered: “I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy, which at times is actually being conceived of etsi Deus non daretur [as if God were not a given]: as though in the liturgy it did not matter any more whether God exists and whether He speaks to us and listens to us. But if in the liturgy the communion of faith no longer appears, nor the universal unity of the Church and of her history, nor the mystery of the living Christ, where is it that the Church still appears in her spiritual substance?” (La Mia Vita, April 1997).

The neo-Catholic mind is not troubled by this catastrophe, much less determined to oppose the reckless innovations that caused it. The neo-Catholic attitude to what even Paul VI admitted was “a process of self-destruction” of the Church (Allocution of December 7, 1968) is essentially: “What’s the big deal?” I will let Mr. Coffin’s own words in defense of his first two-hour foray against “radical traditionalists” establish the point:

It happens to be easy to gripe about the many pressing problems facing the Church today, easy to be agog at the banality of many Ordinary Form (OF) liturgies with their clap-happy ditties that pass for sacred music, easy to lament the indisputable decline of Sunday Mass attendance since the early 1960s, and easy to be vexed by the pitiful state of catechesis in this country.

But let’s keep our eyes on the ball. The end is the life of glory with God in the beatific vision, not the Traditional Latin Mass, nor the Ordinary Form, no matter how reverently done. We need to love Jesus Christ and his Bride. On his terms, not ours.

In two paragraphs of flippant prose, Coffin dismisses an almost apocalyptic collapse of faith and discipline in the Church. What does it matter, says he, that the liturgy has become banal, indeed a joke, that Mass attendance has declined, that catechesis is pitiful (not only in this country, by the way, but throughout the world)? What matters is that we attain the beatific vision—as if the very substance of the faith had nothing to do with reaching that goal!

In effect—and this is typical of neo-Catholic cant—Coffin implicitly dispenses with both orthodoxy and orthopraxis, reducing the doctrine and practice of the Faith to a zero-sum game in which, no matter what corruptions invade the Church through the negligence of the pastors and the influence of the Adversary, the salvation of souls will be unaffected. If the sainted Popes of the Holy Church’s long history had thought that way, the Church would never have been restored in times of crisis through vigorous reform, and Western civilization would have descended permanently into darkness after the fall of Rome during the age of Augustine.

Coffin’s attitude is something we might expect from a Lutheran, but not from a Catholic who loves the Church and grieves at the wounds that a reckless penchant for novelty has inflicted upon her these past fifty years. Even Paul VI grieved over what had happened to the Church in so short a time after the Council’s disastrous “opening to the world,” but present-day neo-Catholic commentators like Coffin, confronted with the evidence of a half-century of what Pope Paul called “a veritable invasion of the Church by worldly thinking,” see no cause for grief. Rather, they busy themselves attacking traditional Catholics for standing up in opposition to the auto-demolition of the Church.

Neo-Catholic Chestnuts

The cargo of neo-Catholic chestnuts Coffin and Staples unloaded during their May 31 broadcast has already been very ably addressed by Peter Crenshaw in his two-part Remnant article. I add here only a few observations.

Stung by the audience backlash, Coffin and Staples were quick to retort that their target was not traditionalists as such, but rather “radical traditionalists.” In an article defending the broadcast and promising another, Coffin was at pains to declare that he and Staples were not speaking of “‘Traditional Catholics’ who exhibit often heroic public witness to the Faith: that merry band of Latin-Mass-going, chapel veil-donning, homeschooling, nightly rosary-praying, great books-loving Catholics. In the courage of their faith and willingness to share it, these salt-of-the-earth Catholics deserve emulation.”

A telling remark indeed. For if Coffin and Staples really believe this, why are they themselves not “traditional Catholics”? Notice, rather, that they implicitly distinguish themselves from “traditional Catholics.” That is because they are not traditional Catholics, and they know it. They are precisely what I am suggesting here: neo-Catholics—again, something the Church never saw before Vatican II, when all Catholics were traditional Catholics.

But no sooner does Coffin praise “traditional Catholics” then he damns them under another title. While admitting that they “are not Rad-Trads outside the Church” he avers that “they’re Mad-Trads inside the Church.” And what is a “Mad-Trad”? Essentially, it is any Catholic who objects to the post-conciliar status quo of widespread apostasy, liturgical degradation, and theological revisionism to which the neo-Catholic has quietly accommodated himself in the smug certitude that none of it really matters anyway.

Coffin caricatures the traditionalist position as “strident resistance to the Second Vatican Council and all its pomps and all its works,” when he has to know that the real issue is the Council’s vexing ambiguity in “pastoral” texts unlike those of any other Council, texts which require a “hermeneutic of continuity” that is itself an indictment of the Council’s failure of clarity. As even the arch-Modernist Cardinal Walter Kasper recently admitted on the very pages of L’Osservatore Romano, in the Council texts are “compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction.” Like neo-Catholics generally, Coffin refuses to acknowledge the Council’s unique problematicity, reducing legitimate concerns over the problem to “resisting Vatican II,” as if the Council were a kind of ecclesiastical wave function to which Catholics must attune themselves, mindlessly vibrating in the proper frequency.

Coffin sniffs that the “Catholic charismatic renewal is frequently singled out for tarring and feathering, despite (or because of?) strong papal support of that movement since the late ‘60s.” Evidently, Coffin sees nothing amiss with mass gatherings of deluded people who think they can turn the Holy Spirit on like a water faucet, babble nonsense they insist is the readily available “gift of tongues,” worship to the accompaniment of rock music, and treat the Holy Eucharist like portions of a personal pan pizza distributed by the unconsecrated hands of lay people. The “strong papal support” for this imaginary “renewal” of Protestant origin—which the Church condemned before the ill-starred Sixties to which Coffin refers—has never found its way into a binding papal pronouncement on faith and morals. Rather, it belongs to the category of things the conciliar Popes have improvidently tolerated or praised informally. But then, Paul VI praised his New Mass to the heavens, only to lament the almost immediate liturgical disintegration its introduction provoked. (Too late did he sack Bugnini, packing him off to Iran and shutting down his Congregation after reading what Bugnini himself admits was a dossier on his alleged Masonic affiliations.)

Coffin refers to the “Mad-Trad’s” supposed penchant for “conspiracy theories involving Jews and Masons.” By this he means the more than two hundred papal condemnations of Freemasonry including, yes, warnings about Masonic plotting against the Church—foolish “Mad-Trad” Popes!—and the Church’s traditional teaching on the fundamental opposition between the Christophobic teaching of the Talmud and the truths of the Gospel, prompting Mad-Trad pre-conciliar Popes to place the Talmud on the Index of Forbidden books and order its destruction.

Then there is the obligatory neo-Catholic revision of the Message of Fatima. Coffin writes that “Mad-Trads tend invariably to reject the position of the Catholic Church regarding the 1984 consecration to Russia by Blessed Pope John Paul II as requested in 1917 by our Lady of Fatima. In the face of repeated affirmations by the Holy See to the contrary, Mad-Trads say that consecration didn’t ‘take’ because her request was not fulfilled.”

If Coffin knew anything about the subject, he would know that the Catholic Church has never taken a position on whether John Paul’s consecration of the world in 1984 was a consecration of Russia. John Paul himself never said as much, and we know from the revelations Bishop Paul Josef Cordes that while John Paul “thought, some time before [the Consecration], of mentioning Russia in the prayer of benediction… at the suggestion of his collaborators he abandoned the idea.” (Father Andrew Apostoli, Fatima for Today: the Urgent Marian Message of Hope, p. 251.)

In other words, John Paul II had the intention of fulfilling Our Lady of Fatima’s request, but his worldly-wise advisors talked him out of it. Thus traditionalists are at liberty to hold the audacious opinion that a consecration of Russia really needs to mention Russia, and that Russia could hardly have been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart in a ceremony from which any mention of Russia was deliberately omitted in order to avoid offending the Russian Orthodox, or provoking the Soviet leaders, or whatever other excuse was proffered by Vatican bureaucrats who think themselves more prudent than Virgo prudentissima.

As for the “repeated affirmations of the Holy See” to which Coffin refers, the term “Holy See” has steadily expanded to the point where it means any statement by any Vatican functionary—in this case, the assertions of Cardinal Bertone and Cardinal Sodano that Russia was consecrated without mention of Russia. But what competence does the Vatican Secretary of State have in the matter of Fatima? None whatever. And what Catholic with any sense would regard Cardinal Sodano—an ecclesiastical fixer who covered up the Father Maciel scandal for years until Cardinal Ratzinger reopened the investigation—as an authoritative interpreter of the Fatima event?

By the time Coffin is through disparaging “Mad-Trads” he has effectively equated them with the “traditional Catholics” he purports to admire. What, then, of the “radical traditionalists” Coffin and Staples claim were their real target? Predictably, they include in this category adherents of the Society of Saint Pius X, who, according to them, belong with “others on the ecclesial far right who have broken communion with the Roman pontiff for their own sundry reasons.”

The irony here is exquisite: In the midst of the worldwide silent apostasy that Coffin and Staples ignore, the Society—not one of whose clergy or laity is under any sentence of excommunication—represents one of the few groups in the Church today that have actually maintained communion with the Roman Pontiff by following all the teachings of the Popes and Councils on faith and morals, even if the Society’s canonical situation needs to be regularized. While straining at the gnat of the Society’s canonical status, Coffin and Staples—like neo-Catholics in general—swallow the camel of mass dissent by tens of millions of Catholics, and innumerable Modernist clergy, from infallible teachings of the Magisterium on everything from abortion, to contraception, to divorce, to women’s “ordination,” to “gay rights” and “gay marriage.” Yet Coffin has the gall to dismiss the Society’s faithful Catholics as nothing more than followers of “Extremely High Church Protestantism.” Meanwhile, the patent Protestantization of the vast majority of Catholics in the Western world escapes his ire.

But this double-standard is a salient trait of the neo-Catholic mind: no enemies to the left, be they Modernists in the hierarchy, legions of Catholics in the pew who reject Church teaching, squeaking and squawking charismatics, or such “conservative” orders as the Legionaries of Christ, that Latin Mass-averse religious order devoted to Vatican II, which neo-Catholic commentators doggedly defended (along with John Paul “the Great”) until the evidence of the vile corruption at its core became incontrovertible.

Here Coffin and Staples are guilty of calumny, plain and simple. This is shown by a statement just issued by the Diocese of Richmond (where I now reside), retracting its own falsehoods concerning the Society in the diocesan newspaperCatholic Virginian. The Diocese had the decency to correct itself by admitting what Coffins and Staples mendaciously deny:

Our former Holy Father, Benedict XVI, never personally declared that doctrinal differences stand in the way of regularizing the canonical status of the society; nonetheless, the regularization has yet to take place….

The Masses offered by priests of the society are valid…

It is not clear that the society is in schism, and it is not properly called a ‘sect’….

…. In regard to the lay faithful who attend Mass at society chapels, there has never been a statement by the Holy See that these people are in schism. In fact, the Holy See acts toward them as it does toward all the Catholic lay faithful….

…[I]n the case of the society, the ministerial acts of their priests may be illicit and still be considered valid by the Church….

The Church’s unity is best served when the whole truth is communicated. We regret the errors in the article….

Coffins and Staples are not interested in conveying the whole truth about the Society. Their aim is to condemn “radical traditionalists” while remaining silent about the neo-Modernists who have been busily demolishing the Church for nearly half a century without any serious opposition from the neo-Catholic constituency. In fact, the very existence of that constituency has vastly facilitated the Modernist resurgence after Vatican II.

Meet the Neo-Catholic Vulgarians

Coffin’s attempt to defend himself against the backlash he and Staples provoked with their first show prompted me to look a bit further into his background. I was not surprised to find that this former stage actor and currently practicingstreet magician authored one of those works neo-Catholics delight in churning out: pop-theological discussion of the Church’s teaching on marriage and procreation, written in the smug confidence that crudely colloquial treatment of the most sensitive subjects by laymen will somehow make for a more compelling presentation of Church teaching than is to be found in those musty old theological manuals and arcane papal encyclicals.

In his book entitled Sex Au Naturel—how typical of the crass attempts at wit that characterize so much of neo-Catholic writing—Coffin informs us that “Catholic moral theology also uses technical language that can sometimes mislead. A good example is the word ‘evil,’ which conjures up images of red grinning devils brandishing pitchforks.” (Kindle Edition, location 259). For the neo-Catholic, evil is a technical term, and is even seen as faintly ridiculous. It never occurs to people like Coffin that belittling the concept of evil is symptomatic of a loss of faith, and it is precisely a recovery of the fear of evil as such that is one of the Church’s most urgent tasks today.

Coffin’s book announces yet another neo-Catholic novelty: what he calls “the NFP lifestyle.” Since when did the practice of “natural family planning” become a lifestyle? Since the neo-Catholic establishment got hold of it. As Coffin would have it, recourse to the infertile cycles is not something to which a couple may resort for a grave reason, but rather is a veritable way of life. He writes: “Couples who use NFP must have an all-important conversation each month. Will we have another baby?” (Kindle location 2690).

They must? Every month? What Pope or Council ever taught such a thing? When, before Vatican II, did Catholic spouses ever live that way? Never, of course. Coffin and his fellow neo-Catholics have simply invented this new teaching, and they extol it with disgusting abandon. “The main goal of this book,” Coffin writes, “is to shed light upon an issue notorious for its heat. The title Sex au Naturel conveys the essence of sexual communion in marriage that is free of chemical or mechanical encumbrances, ‘nakedly’ open to its twofold meanings of unity and procreation. In other words, organic sex. One hundred percent all natural ingredients. Safe for the environment of the body. Green sex, you could say, as encapsulated by the natural family planning lifestyle.” (Kindle locations 264-268).

We have had quite enough of this neo-Catholic degradation of the religion founded by Christ and preserved intact for two millennia by the majestic and infallible Magisterium of His Church, which has never needed to descend to cheap vulgarity in order to preach the Gospel. On the contrary, it has always been the exalted dignity of the Faith that has attracted souls and led them to heaven. The neo-Catholic vulgarians, whose popular works have multiplied since the Council, have not succeeded in making the Gospel more accessible by translating it into lowly contemporary patois. On the contrary, ordinary Catholics have never had less comprehension of the Gospel’s sublime teaching than today, after five decades of conciliar “renewal.”


Let us strain charity to the limit and allow that Coffin and Staples may have good intentions. Objectively speaking, however they ought to be ashamed of their demagogic grandstanding at the expense of fellow Catholics. Catholic Answers ought to terminate their campaign of calumniating “radical traditionalists” and “Mad-Trads,” who are merely victims of the ecclesial crisis, and direct its attention to the mass apostasy that afflicts the Church today, for which traditionalists bear no responsibility. Catholic Answers should begin that task of reparation with the two-hour show Coffin and Staples plan for August 12.

Finally, I know that there are people at Catholic Answers who find the antics of Coffin and Staples appalling and dearly wish that apostolate would embrace the cause of Tradition instead of what Michael Matt has called “cool Catholicism.” Our Nicodemus friends at Catholic Answers know that it is only the timeless Faith, and the ancient liturgy of apostolic origin that instantiates it, which can lead souls aright with absolute surety, not the time-bound novelties of the post-conciliar epoch, which were passé from the moment they first appeared. When the neo-Catholic establishment abandons its defense of novelty and joins traditionalists in seeking to recover what has been lost in the reigning diabolical confusion, the day of the Church’s emergence from the post-conciliar crisis will be near at hand. Until then, as Coffin and Staples have demonstrated, neo-Catholicism will remain a major impediment—perhaps the major impediment—to the immense task of restoring our devastated vineyard.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bringing the Liturgy Back to the Real Vatican II


Cardinal Burke Comments on Sacra Liturgia Conference

July 25, 2013 (Zenit.org) Edward Pentin

The abuses of the sacred liturgy that followed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council are “strictly correlated” with a great deal of moral corruption that exists in the world today, says Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke.

In an exclusive interview with ZENIT on the sidelines of Sacra Liturgia 2013, a major international conference on the liturgy held in Rome at the end of June, the Vatican’s most senior American says poor liturgies have also led to “a levity in catechesis” that has been “shocking” and left generations of Catholics ill prepared to deal with today’s challenges.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Cardinal Burke, who serves as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, also explains the importance of liturgical law, Pope Francis’ approach to the liturgy, and why the sacred liturgy is vital to the New Evangelization.

ZENIT: Your Eminence, what were your hopes for this conference?

Cardinal Burke: My hope for the conference was a return to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on the sacred liturgy. Indeed, [I was hoping for] a deepening and appreciation of the continuity of the teaching practised with regard to the sacred liturgy throughout the Church’s history, and which is also reflected in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council – something that was obscured after the Council. I believe in large part that has been achieved.

ZENIT: Are we coming out of that period now?

Cardinal Burke: Yes, already Pope Paul VI after the Council in a very intense way, and then John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, laboured diligently to restore the true nature of the sacred liturgy as the gift of worship given to us by God and which we owe to God in the very way He teaches us how to worship. So it’s not man’s invention, it’s God’s gift to us.

ZENIT: How important is a sound understanding of the liturgy in today’s Church. How can it help evangelization?

Cardinal Burke: To me, it’s fundamental. It’s the most important area of catechesis: to understand the worship accorded to God. The first three commandments of the Ten Commandments are to do with this right relationship to God, especially with regards to worship. It’s only when we understand our relationship with God in offering worship that we also understand the right order of all the other relationships we have. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his wonderful magisterium on the sacred liturgy, and which he expressed so often, [it consists of] this connection between worship and right conduct, worship and law, worship and discipline.

ZENIT: Some argue the liturgy is mostly about aesthetics, and not as important as, say, good works done in faith. What is your view of this argument that one often hears?

Cardinal Burke: It’s a Communist misconception. First of all, the liturgy is about Christ. It’s Christ alive in his Church, the glorious Christ coming into our midst and acting on our behalf through sacramental signs to give us the gift of eternal life to save us. It is the source of any truly charitable works we do, any good works we do. So the person whose heart is filled with charity wants to do good works will, like Mother Teresa, give his first intention to the worship of God so that when he goes to offer charity to a poor person or someone in need, it would be at the level of God Himself, and not some human level.

ZENIT: Some also say that to be concerned with liturgical law is being unduly legalistic, that it’s a stifling of the spirit. How should one respond to that? Why should we be concerned about liturgical law?

Cardinal Burke: Liturgical law disciplines us so that we have the freedom to worship God, otherwise we’re captured – we’re the victims or slaves either of our own individual ideas, relative ideas of this or that, or of the community or whatever else. But the liturgical law safeguards the objectivity of sacred worship and opens up that space within us, that freedom to offer worship to God as He desires, so we can be sure we’re not worshipping ourselves or, at the same time, as Aquinas says, some kind of falsification of divine worship.

ZENIT: It offers a kind of template?

Cardinal Burke: Exactly, it’s what discipline does in every aspect of our lives. Unless we’re disciplined, then we’re not free.

ZENIT: As a diocesan bishop in the United States, how did you find the state of the liturgy in the parishes you’ve been in charge of? What, in your view, are the priorities for liturgical renewal in diocesan life today?

Cardinal Burke: I found, of course, many wonderful aspects - in both dioceses in which I’ve served - a strong sense of participation on the part of the faithful. What I also found were some of the shadows as Pope John Paul II called them, a loss of Eucharistic faith, a loss of Eucharistic devotion and certain liturgical abuses. And as a diocesan bishop I needed to address them and I tried as best I could. But in addressing them you always try to help both the priest and the faithful to understand the deep reasons for the Church’s discipline, the reasons why a certain abuse is not only unhelpful for sacred worship but is in fact blocking it or corrupting it.

ZENIT: It’s said love for the sacred liturgy and being pro-life go together, that those who worship correctly are more likely to want to bring children into the world. Could you explain why this is so?

Cardinal Burke: It’s in the sacred liturgy above all, and particularly in the Holy Eucharist, that we look upon the love which God has for every human life without exception, without boundary, beginning from the very first moment of conception, because Christ poured out his life as he said for all men. And remember he teaches us that whatever we do for the least of our brethren, we do directly for Him. In other words, he identifies himself in the Eucharistic sacrifice with every human life. So on the one hand, the Eucharist inspires a great reverence for human life, respect and care for human life, and at the same time it inspires a joy among those who are married to procreate, to cooperate with God in bringing new human life into this world.

ZENIT: Sacra Liturgia has been about liturgical celebration but also formation. What basis of liturgical formation do we need in our parishes, dioceses and particularly in our seminaries?

Cardinal Burke: The first important lesson that has to be taught is that the sacred liturgy is an expression of God’s right to receive from us the worship that is due to Him, and that flows from who we are. We are God’s creatures and so divine worship, in a very particular way, expresses at the same time the infinite majesty of God and also our dignity as the only earthly creature that can offer him worship, in other words that we can lift up our hearts and minds to him in praise and worship. So that would be the first lesson. Then to study carefully how the liturgical rites have developed down the centuries and not to see the history of the Church as somehow a corruption of those liturgical rites. In the true sense, the Church over time has come to an ever deeper understanding of the sacred liturgy and has expressed that in several ways, whether it be through sacred vestments, sacred vessels, through sacred architecture – even the care for sacred linens which are used in the Holy Mass. All of these are expressions of the liturgical reality and so those things have to be carefully studied, and of course then to study the relationship of liturgy with the other aspects of our lives.

ZENIT: You’re known for celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Why did Pope Benedict make this freely available and what role does it have to play in the Church of the 21st century?

Cardinal Burke: What Pope Benedict XVI saw and experienced, also through those who came to him, who were very attached what we now call the Extraordinary Form - the Traditional Mass - was that in the reforms as they were introduced after the Council, a fundamental misunderstanding took place. Namely, this was that the reforms were undertaken with the idea there had been a rupture, that the way in which the Mass had been celebrated up until the time of the Council was somehow radically defective and there had to be what was really violent change, a reduction of the liturgical rites and even the language used, in every respect. So in order to restore the continuity, the Holy Father gave wide possibility for the celebration of the sacred rites as they were celebrated up until 1962, and then expressed the hope that through these two forms of the same rite – it’s all the same Roman rite, it can’t be different, it’s the same Mass, same Sacrament of Penance and so forth –there would be a mutual enrichment. And that continuity would be more perfectly expressed in what some have called the “reform of the reform”.

ZENIT: Pope Francis is a different person to Benedict XVI in many ways, but it’s hard to believe there are substantial differences between them on the importance of the sacred liturgy. Are there any differences?

Cardinal Burke: I don’t see it at all. The Holy Father clearly hasn’t had the opportunity to teach in a kind of authoritative way about the sacred liturgy, but in the things he has said about the sacred liturgy I see a perfect continuity with Pope Benedict XVI. I see in the Holy Father, too, a great concern for respecting the magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI and his discipline, and that is what Pope Francis is doing.

ZENIT: This conference is reflecting on the 50 years since the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and 50 years ago this December its constitution on the sacred liturgy was promulgated. You’ve already mentioned how liturgical renewal was not as the Council desired, but how do you see things progressing in the future? What do you envision, especially among young people?

Cardinal Burke: Young people are going back now and studying both the texts of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council with its serious texts on liturgical theology which remain valid also today. They’re studying the rites as they were celebrated, striving to understand the meaning and various elements of the rite and there’s a great enthusiasm for that and a great interest in it. All of it, I believe, is directed to a more intense experience of God’s presence with us through the sacred liturgy. That transcendent element was most sadly lost when the reform after the Council was, so to speak, side-tracked and manipulated for other purposes – that sense of transcendence of Christ’s action through the sacraments.

ZENIT: Does this mirror the loss of the sacred in society as a whole?

Cardinal Burke: It does indeed. There’s no question in my mind that the abuses in the sacred liturgy, reduction of the sacred liturgy to some kind of human activity, is strictly correlated with a lot of moral corruption and with a levity in catechesis that has been shocking and has left generations of Catholics ill prepared to deal with the challenges of our time by addressing the Catholic faith to those challenges. You can see it in the whole gamut of Church life.

ZENIT: Pope Benedict said once that the crises we see in society today can be linked to problems of the liturgy.

Cardinal Burke: Yes he was convinced of that and I would say, so am I. It was, of course, more important that he was convinced of it, but I believe that he was absolutely correct.
(July 25, 2013) © Innovative Media Inc.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Four Common Tactics of the Devil

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

One of the key elements in any contest is to understand the tactics of your opponent and to recognize the subtleties of the strategy or moves they may employ. In the spiritual battle of life we need to develop some sophistication in recognizing, naming, and understanding the subtleties of common tactics of the Devil.

A 2011 book by Fr. Louis Cameli, The Devil You Don’t Know is of great assistance in this matter. Having read it recently, I think it would be of value to reflect on four broad categories of the Devil’s tactics that Fr. Cameli analyzes.

While the four categories are Fr. Cameli’s, the reflections here are largely my own, but surely rooted in Fr. Cameli’s excellent work, so recently read by me. I recommend the work highly to you where these categories are aptly and fully described more than my brief reflection here can do.

And thus we examine four common tactics of the devil.

I. Deception – Jesus says The devil was a murderer from the beginning he does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks according to his own nature, he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44).

The devil deceives us with many false and empty promises. Most of these relate to the lie that we will be happier and more fulfilled if we sin, or deny aspects of the truth. Whatever passing pleasures come with sin, they are in fact passing. Great and accumulated suffering eventually comes with almost all sinful activity. Yet, despite this experience, we human beings remain very gullible, we seem to love empty promises and put all sorts of false hopes of them.

The devil also deceives us by suggesting all sorts of complexities, especially in our thinking. And thus he seeks to confuse and conceal the fundamental truth about our action. Our minds are very wily and love to indulge complexity as a way of avoiding the truth and making excuses. So we, conniving with the devil, entertain endless complications by asking “But what if this….and What about that….??!” Along with the devil, we project all sorts of possible difficulties, exceptions, or potential sob stories, to avoid insisting that we or others behave well and live according to the truth.

The devil also seeks to deceive us with “wordsmithing.” And thus the dismemberment and murder of a child through abortion becomes “reproductive freedom” or “Choice.” Sodomy is called “gay” (a word which used to mean “happy”). Our luminous Faith and ancient wisdom is called “darkness” and “ignorance.” Fornication is called “cohabitation.” And the redefinition of marriage as it is been known for some 5000 years, is labeled “marriage freedom.” And thus, through exaggerations and outright false labeling, the devil deceives us, and we too easily connive by calling good, or “no big deal,” what God calls sinful.

The devil also deceives us through the sheer volume of information. Information is not the same is truth, and data can be assembled very craftily to make deceitful points. Further, certain facts and figures can be emphasized, in exclusion to other, balancing truths. And thus even information or data which is true in itself becomes a form of deception. The news media, and other sources of information, sometimes exercise their greatest power in what they do not report. And this too is a way that the devil brings deceptions upon us.

We do well to carefully assess the many ways Satan seeks to deceive us. Do not believe everything you think or hear. While we ought not be cynical, we ought to be sober, and seek to verify what we see and hear and square it with God’s revealed truth.

II. Division – One of Jesus’ final prayers for us was that we would be one (cf John 17:22). He prayed this, at the Last Supper just before he went out to suffer and die for us. As such, he highlights that a chief aspect of his work on the Cross is to overcome the divisions intensified by Satan. Some argue that the Greek root of the word “diabolical” (diabolein) means to cut, tear, or divide. Jesus prays and works to reunify what the devil divides.

The devil’s work of division starts within each one of us as we experience many contrary drives, some noble, creative, and edifying, others base, sinful, and destructive. So often, we struggle within and feel torn apart, much as Paul describes in Romans chapter 7: The good that I want to do, I do not do…, and when I try to do good, evil is at hand. This is the work of the devil, to divide us within. And as St. Paul lays out in Romans 8, the chief work of the Lord is to establish within us the unity of soul and body, in accordance with the unity of His truth.

And of course the devil’s attack against our inner unity, spills out into many divisions among us externally. So many things help drive this division, and the devil surely taps into them all: anger, past hurts, resentments, fears, misunderstandings, greed, pride, and arrogance. There is also the impatience that we so easily develop regarding those we love, and the flawed notion that somehow, other more perfect and desirable people should be sought. And thus many abandon their marriages, family, churches and communities, always in search of the elusive goal of finding better and more perfect people and situations.

Yes, the devil has a real field day tapping in to a whole plethora of sinful dries within us, but his goal is always to divide us within ourselves, and among ourselves. We do well to recognize that, whatever our struggles with others, we all share a common enemy who seeks to divide and destroy us. As St Paul writes, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12). Feuding Brothers reconcile when there is a maniac at the door. But step one is notice the maniac, and then set aside our lesser divisions.

III. Diversion – To be diverted is to be turned away from what is our primary goal or task. And for all of us, the most critical focus is God and the good things waiting for us in heaven. Our path is toward heaven, along the path of faith and obedience to the truth, love of God and love of neighbor. And thus the devil does all that he can to divert, that is, turn us away from our one true goal.

Perhaps he will do this by way of making us to be absorbed in the passing things of the world. So many claim that they are so busy that they have no time to pray, or get the church, or seek other forms of spiritual nourishment. They become absorbed in worldly things which pass, and ignore lasting reality which looms.

Anxieties and fears also cause us many distractions. And by these, the devil causes us to fixate on fears about passing things, and thereby not to have a proper fear of the judgment which awaits us. Jesus says Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28). In other words, we should have a holy reverence and fear directed towards the Lord, and in this way, many of our other fears will be seen in better perspective, or will go away altogether. But in this matter of fear, the devil says just the opposite: we should fear 10,000 things that might afflict us on this passing earth, and not think at all of the one most significant thing that awaits us, our judgment.

At the heart of all diversion is that the devil wants us to focus on lesser things to avoid focusing on greater things, such as a moral decisions, and the overall direction of our life.

Once again, we must learn to focus on what matters most, and decisively refuse to be diverted to lesser things.

IV. Discouragement – As human beings, and certainly as Christians, we ought to have high aspirations. This is good. But as in all good things, Satan often seeks to poison that which is good. For having high aspirations, it is also true that we sometimes lack the humility that recognizes that we must make a journey to that which is good, and best. Too easily then, Satan temps us to impatience with our self or others. And, in our aspirations, expected in unreasonably quick time, there comes a lack of charity toward our self or others. Some grow discouraged with themselves or others and give up on the pursuit of holiness. Others give up on the church because of the imperfections found there.

The devil also discourages us, because aspirations are generally open-ended. The fact is, there is always room for improvement, and we can always do more. But here the devil enters, for, when we can always do more, it is also possible to think we’ve never done enough. And thus the devil discourages us, sowing thoughts of unreasonable demands within us as to what we can or should do they day by day.

The devil also discourages us through simple things like fatigue, the personal failings that we all experience, setbacks, and other obstacles that are common to our human condition, and common to living in a fallen world with limited resources.

In all these ways to devil seeks to discourage us, to make us want, at some level, to give up. Only a properly developed sense of humility can help to save us from these discouraging works of Satan. For the fact is, humility, which is reverence for the truth about ourselves, teaches us that we grow and develop slowly and in stages, and that we do in fact have setbacks, and live in a world that is hard, and far from perfect. Recognizing these things, and being humble, helps us to lean more on the Lord, and trust in his providential help, which grows in us incrementally.

Here then are four common tactics of the devil. Learn to recognize and name them. In this way we start to gain authority over them. Consider buying the book by Fr. Louis Cameli to learn more.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Old form of Mass attracts new generation

Plenty of young adults attend weekly Mass in Extraordinary Form in Miami

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blanca Morales - Florida Catholic


Father Joseph Fishwick elevates the host during consecration. In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the priest faces ad orientem ("to the East") in the same direction as the rest of the congregation: toward God. The posture of the community is not oriented toward the priest, because Mass is considered a conversation with God, not the celebrant.


Joshua Hernandez is a former Protestant who credits the traditional Latin Mass for his conversion to Catholicism.

Raised to be anti-Catholic, Hernandez began to look for a Christian denomination with historical relevance and formal liturgical practice. Though he thought Catholicism seemed too ritualistic, his first stop in his search for a church was attending a Mass to “get it out of the way.”

“It all clicked,” he said, when he saw the Latin Mass “in all its glory.”

Now he is a regular attendee at the Extraordinary Form Latin Mass celebrated each Sunday at 9 a.m. at Sts. Francis and Clare Mission in Edgewater.

Likewise, his girlfriend, Vida Tavakoli, knew she had found her home in the Catholic Church when she first attended Latin Mass in England.

Formerly an atheist, her aversion toward religion changed at the end of her college career, when she became a Protestant. During her post-collegiate travels she became resolute in converting to Catholicism after attending a Missa Cantata, or sung Mass, in the parish of her favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien, a devout Catholic who penned the “Lord of the Rings” series.

Though the homilies, the first reading and a translation of the Gospel are said in the vernacular, the prayers at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass are chanted in Latin, in the Church’s traditional Gregorian form.

When she heard Latin hymns coming from the choir loft, Tavakoli said, it felt like “hearing angels on high.”

She was mesmerized. “It truly is extraordinary,” she said. “There is something beautiful and sacred about this form of the Mass.”

Many of those in attendance each Sunday at Sts. Francis and Clare are, in fact, young adults like Hernandez and Tavakoli, younger Catholics who did not grow up attending Mass in Latin. Their attendance is part of a national trend, as the number of Masses offered in the Extraordinary Form in the U.S. rose from approximately 60 in 1991 to just over 400 in 2010.

Miami’s traditional Latin Mass community has been served by Father Joseph Fishwick for 600 consecutive Sundays over the past 17 years. Father Fishwick, who grew up in South Florida and attended the University of Miami, remembers attending Mass as a child when the Tridentine Rite was the norm.


Antonio De Gaetano uses his 1962 missal during Mass. The Latin Mass community provides a missal which follows the liturgy in Latin and provides an English translation, with explanation of the rubrics of the Mass.After the Second Vatican Council, the Mass was translated into the vernacular and seminarians were no longer required to learn the older form. Father Fishwick began to learn how to officiate the Latin Mass by reading books and watching videotapes, long before the advent of YouTube and the Internet. He has been saying the traditional Latin Mass for 28 years.

Today, priests interested in celebrating the Latin Mass often learn the Extraordinary Form on their own. Though most seminaries focus on teaching the novus ordo, many are beginning to host workshops for those interested in the Extraordinary Form.

Last year, Archbishop Thomas Wenski invited the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), whose charism focuses on preserving and imparting the spiritual heritage of the traditional liturgy, to teach archdiocesan priests about the Mass of Blessed John XXIII.

After 38 years of priesthood, Father Fishwick is retiring this August, and will be succeeded as the community’s chaplain by Msgr. Oscar F. Castañeda, spiritual director at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. He will be assisted by Father Rafael Capó, director of the Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI) in Miami.

The schola, or choir, at Sts. Francis and Clare is directed by Jennifer Donelson, a young adult and assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University, where she directs the Nova Bossa Chorale and teaches various subjects in music.

Donelson, who has led the schola since 2008, describes the dedication of those involved as heroic, because all come from different parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The schola has significantly flourished since Donnelson, together with a colleague, began the annual Musica Sacra Gregorian Chant Conference, which is now in its sixth year.

The schola “enjoys the privilege of glorifying God and sanctifying the faithful through our dedication to singing the Mass in truly sacred music, music from the heart of the Church,” Donelson said. “Gregorian chant ‘grew up’ with the Roman rite, and it is an integral part of the structure and mystagogy of the Mass.”

Paulina Pecic, a student at the University of Miami who attends St. Augustine parish in Coral Gables, recently attended her first Latin Mass while visiting Ave Maria University on Florida’s southwest coast.

“It was beautiful,” she said, hoping for another “chance to embrace the extra beauty that the chanting might offer.”

Fellow UM student and Archbishop Coleman Carroll High alumnus Ryan Stacey, who attended Latin Mass for this first time this summer, noted that it was unique experience, especially since he did not learn or attend Latin Mass while in high school.


The Traditional Latin Mass, alternately referred to as the Tridentine Mass, the Mass of John XIII, usus antiquior, or the Extraordinary Form, has fallen out of use following the Second Vatican Council due to revisions in the Missal.

In recent years, the Extraordinary Form of the Mass has gained popularity among those born in the generations that followed Vatican II. Traditional Latin Mass in the United States has seen a steady rise in recent years. The number of Masses offered in the Extraordinary Form rose from approximately 60 in 1991 to just over 400 in 2010.

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, in his motu proprio,Summorum Pontificum, an apostolic letter published in 2007, noted that, “Immediately following the Second Vatican Council, it might have been imagined that the demand for the use of the 1962 Missal would have been limited to older generations, which had grown up with it, but it has since become clear that young people were also discovering this liturgical form, feeling attracted to it and finding in it a type of contact with the Most Holy Eucharist which suited them particularly well.”

In Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI specified that priests no longer required special permission from their bishops to celebrate the Extraordinary Form.

He also stated: “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal… The two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching… What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too…It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”
Like Stacey, most Catholic school students are not taught about the Extraordinary Form in their religion classes.

For that reason, the young adults of the forthcomingJuventutem Miami chapter seek to propagate their love and enthusiasm for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, so that others can come to know and appreciate it.

Pecic said she appreciated the “reverential aspect that can sometimes be watered down, or, in a worst-case scenario, completely disregarded by the congregation during the Ordinary Form.”

“I especially enjoyed Communion (at traditional Latin Mass), where instead of going up to the priest, the priest comes to you at the kneeler,” she said. “It was a visible reminder for me that receiving Christ in the Eucharist is a gift given out of love and not a right to claim for granted.”

As to which form of the Mass she likes better, she said, “It’s like comparing apples and oranges. I think both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary are beautiful in their own ways. The Ordinary Form makes the Mass accessible to every person in the Body of Christ by means of comprehensive, yet still profound language, whereas the more mysterious Extraordinary Form inspires awe by drawing us into contemplation of the very mysteries of the Word Himself.”

See related story: Dogma on Draft

Father Joseph Fishwick distributes Communion to altar servers. As an act of reverence, Communion is received kneeling, on the tongue.


Aside from Sundays, those interested in celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Mass are welcome to attend Sts. Francis and Clare Mission on:
Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m. for the feast of St. James; and
Gesu Church on Thursday, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. for the feast of the Assumption.

Sts. Francis and Clare is located at 402 N.E. 29 St., Miami; Gesu is located at 118 N.E. Second St., Miami.

Mass in the Extraordinary Form is also celebrated in Broward:

At St. Malachy Parish, 6200 N. University Drive, Tamarac, the first and last Sundays of the month at 7:30 a.m.; and at St. Paul the Apostle, 2700 N.E. 36 St., Lighthouse Point, the first and third Sundays of the month at 1:30 p.m.