Thursday, January 31, 2013

Forward March, Church Militant!

Below you'll find the opening paragraphs of my article at the new “Catholic Stand” website.

You can read the rest here.

* * * * * * * *
  
“The Church must be militant in order to thrive and flourish.”

So said Rod Pead (editor of Christian Order magazine) in a speech he gave thirteen years ago, but which could have been given yesterday. His words ring loud and true. The time has obviously come when Catholics need to be true Catholics. Persecution is practically upon us, and we need to fight for our faith as we have never fought before.

Of course, one reason for our current situation is that the Church hasn’t been militant for decades now. The Church has become sick as we have grown cold and lax in our duty to learn and teach the faith. As Rod Pead said in his 13-year-old speech, we’ve been under the “liberal illusion that we can defend Christ and Catholic truth without conflict and the unpleasantness of raised voices and pointed fingers”.

Sadly, it is in the ranks of our bishops that we see much of this desire to defend the truth without conflict. That attitude filters down to priests, and then down to the laity. And so, we must correct what is wrong in the Church by starting with the bishops.

Does that mean “bishop-bashing”? No; certainly we must show respect for the episcopal office. I’m talking about insisting that our bishops speak the truth boldly and forcefully, without concern for political correctness and “offending” someone. For too many years, we’ve seen bishops teaching wrongly, or failing to stand up for the truth, or simply being “wishy-washy” on Church doctrine when confronted with media pressure.

Read the rest here.
...

Check out the new website - lots of good reading!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Website: Catholic Stand


There’s a new Catholic website online, developed by my friend Dr. Stacy Trasancos at Accepting Abundance, and Tito Edwards of Big Pulp.it, The American Catholic, and EWTN's National Catholic Register.

Stacy describes the new site as

…targeting Catholic citizens who are taking a stand and living the truths the Church teaches. The website is called Catholic Stand, and there are already 45 writers from all age groups, various vocations, and different nations. We launched last Friday on the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, and this week the website is cranking up to full steam. Please join us, even if you are not Catholic, because we are going to be tackling some big issues in several categories, business, finance, law, history, life, parenting, marriage, and even a little art. Regular readers of this blog will recognize some of the writers . Go check them out.

They even invited me to be one of the columnists! Check out the link to see others who will be contributing. My first article will be posted there on Thursday, January 31.

There’s a lot going on over there at Catholic Stand; be sure to check it out.

Oh, and there's a Catholic Stand Face Book page, too.


An "Old" Vortex: Bishop Sample and Vatican II

I’m still celebrating the fact that Bishop Alexander Sample has been appointed the next Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon! I believe – I pray! – that this will usher in a new era of liturgical and catechetical renewal in the Pacific Northwest.

A correspondent brought to my attention a Vortex episode – embedded below – from December 2011. I remember it very well: in it, Michael Voris applauds Archbishop-elect Alexander Sample for comments the bishop made about Vatican II and the deplorable catechesis that occurred in its wake. The interview Voris quotes from can be found here.

I remember thinking at the time that this Bishop Sample seemed to be the kind of leader our Church needs – he seems to have a clear view of what’s happened to the Church over the last 50 years, and he doesn’t seem to pull punches. 

For example, Voris quotes Bishop Sample, who said in an interview that he is a member of “the first lost generation to poor catechesis, which raised up another generation that is equally uncatechized.” He adds, “My generation raised up the next generation. Since we weren’t taught the faith, we raised children who weren’t either.”

In the referenced interview, Bishop Sample also acknowledged that “the liturgy suffered from experimentation as well”. He knows!

Here’s the Vortex:



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Feast of St. Francis de Sales

Icon written by N. Allen
Last Tuesday, January 24, was the feast day of St. Francis de Sales – in the Novus Ordo calendar. This saint’s feast is today, January 29 in ,the “old” calendar.

In my Roman Martyrology (trans. by Rev. Raphael Collins, Newman Press, 1952), it says, for January 29:

St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, confessor and doctor of the Church, special patron before God of all Catholic writers in explaining, promoting, or defending Christian doctrine either  by publishing journals of other writings in the vernacular. He departed to heaven on the 28th of December, but because of the transfer of his body on this day, his feast is now celebrated…

St. Francis de Sales is important to me personally for several reasons. For one thing, he is the patron saint of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker City, Oregon, in which city I have lived for the past ten years. We moved to Baker City a few months before my first anniversary as a Catholic, and I was thrilled to be attending Mass at the small but majestic-looking Cathedral. I was a little disappointed that it was not St. Francis of Assisi for whom the church was named, because I knew who he was. I didn’t have a clue as to the story of this de Sales guy.

But I learned. And I was delighted to find that St. Francis de Sales was the patron saint of Catholic writers. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and when I was a little girl who wanted to be “just a housewife”, my teachers coached me to say that I wanted to be “an author” when I grew up. This seemed a good option to me even at the time, because I knew I didn’t want to have a job outside the home; my motivation was not all that traditional, though – I just was very shy and didn’t want to deal with people! Writing at home seemed the perfect “career”, because I could assure myself that I wouldn’t have to go out into the scary world, and I could assure my teachers that I had a career goal.

I never did earn a living at writing, but I did earn a few dollars with some articles that were published by Homiletic and Pastoral Review.  I also “edited” the parish bulletin for several years, and thought of St. Francis de Sales watching over my shoulder when I worked on it. I used to add little quotes from his writings to cultivate our identity as St. Francis de Sales Cathedral parish.

St. Francis de Sales is also the patron saint of the Diocese of Baker, and that’s been even more important to me since I started this blog than it was before.  I started the blog for a couple of reasons, but one was that there was just too much going on in the Church in general and in our diocese in particular to justify my sitting on the sidelines any longer. I felt that there were things that needed to be said, and that a blog would be the way to say them.  And so, I began. I began with a prayer to St. Francis de Sales, and I beg his assistance and guidance on a daily basis (at least!).

St. Francis de Sales also influenced my choice of the title for my blog. Having read his Introduction to the Devout Life”, I knew that he had addressed that treatise to “Philothea”. That’s why I have written in the banner section at the top of this blog:

 "You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".

And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."

I’m a Philothea, you’re a Philothea, all God’s children can be Philotheas!


Bishop Sample to Portland! Updated

Just saw the news on Vatican Information Service:


He says the EF Mass!
Vatican City, 29 January 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Alexander King Sample as archbishop of the archdiocese of Portland (area 76,937, population 3,296,705, Catholics 412,725, priests 300, permanent deacons 72, religious 653), Oregon, USA. Bishop Sample, previously bishop of Marquette, Michigan, USA, was born in Kalispell, Montana, USA, in 1960, was ordained to the priesthood in 1990, and received episcopal ordination in 2006. In the national bishops' conference he currently serves on the Subcommittees on Native American Catholics and on the Catechism. He is also vice-postulator for the cause for canonisation of Venerable Frederic Baraga, first bishop of the Diocese of Marquette. He succeeds Archbishop John George Vlazny, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

More later...


Update:


I can’t think of much better news to wake up to than the announcement that Bishop Alexander Sample has been appointed as Archbishop of Portland, Oregon! (I wrote about him here a few months back.)

This is simply GREAT news for the Church, and for those of us in the Diocese of Baker who yearn for a true leader to guide this part of the country back toward orthodoxy!

He’ll have his hands full, of course; Portland is a bastion of “gay pride” parishes and pastors, not to mention the feminist “wymyn-priest” proponents. It will be an uphill battle to rid the Archdiocese of the vermin that infest it, but I have a feeling Bishop Sample will be up to the task!

I have heard rumors that some of the liberal-modernist-progressive types in the Archdiocese have been planning an escape route for months – whispers of Bishop Sample’s appointment-to-come have been circulating for quite some time.

Bishop Sample’s appointment is good news for the Diocese of Baker, too. We have a new bishop without any experience whatsoever, and rumors here suggest that he’s been following the dubious guidance of Archbishop Vlazny and retired Bishop Skylstadt, who served as our Apostolic Administrator for over a year (and succeeded in completely undermining a blossoming movement toward liturgical reverence and reform here). 

The Archbishop of Portland serves as the Ordinary of the archdiocese, of course. He is also the Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Portland; the suffragan dioceses of this province include those in Oregon, Idaho, & Montana. Those would be the dioceses of Baker (eastern Oregon), Boise (Idaho), Helena (Montana), and Great Falls-Billings (Montana). I don’t know much about the bishops in Montana, but I do know that the bishop of Idaho has been less than enthusiastic about providing the EF Mass to those who desire it – and I know of at least two groups in Idaho who fit into that neglected category.

Bishop Sample, as Archbishop, will be able to exert some influence on these other bishops. He’ll be able to set the standard, as well as offer fraternal episcopal support to bishops who come under attack when they veer to the right on Church matters. Think about it: Archbishop Sartain in Seattle has been fighting the good fight against “gay marriage” in that state; he could use a vote of support from a fellow archbishop! And of course there’s Archbishop Cordileone down south in San Francisco…

Could it be that the Pacific Northwest might be on its way to becoming at least a little less of a spiritual wasteland?! Let us hope and pray.

Please, keep Bishop Sample in your prayers. He will need them in Portland.

Here's a "Sample" video:


Monday, January 28, 2013

Unbelievably Un-Catholic Hospitals

**Update:  According to CNN, the hospital in question has since recanted and apologized for its attorneys' court arguments, saying, "it was 'morally wrong' to make the argument while defending itself in a wrongful death lawsuit." Good!

* * * * *
Can you believe this? A supposedly Catholic hospital in Colorado has won a lawsuit by 
claiming that a fetus is not legally a person until it is born!

Okay, while you should be shocked, you are probably just shaking your head sadly, and are not surprised at all. But it is shameful, to say the least.

The case in Colorado involved the death of a young mother pregnant with twins (who also both died); you can read the whole story here.  Amazingly enough, Catholic Health Initiatives (the owner of the hospital) has made the official statement that

"In this case... as Catholic organizations, (we) are in union with the moral teachings of the Church."

Huh?! It’s quite difficult to reconcile the hospital’s argument that  “the fetus is not legally a person until it is born” with Church teaching which says explicitly and clearly that life begins at conception, and which upholds the dignity of the human person without respect to location inside or outside the womb.

I was surprised to find, though, that this wasn’t the first time such an argument has been made by a Catholic hospital. In 1998, according to a LifeSiteNews story,

St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey was reported by the Associated Press as saying that fetuses are “not persons” so as to escape a lawsuit brought by the parents of twins who died in utero.

It seems to me that the legal teams for these hospitals are simply using state laws to argue their cases in court; I suppose that is reasonable, to an extent. However, the state laws are not reflective of natural law, and they are not reflective of Catholic moral teaching. A Catholic hospital using un-Catholic laws to avoid taking responsibility for its mistakes is deplorable…but it is a “sign of the times”. Attorneys go to court to win their cases, not to stand up for what is right and good and true.

Not a person?
I have written a few times on this blog about Catholic hospitals, and the fact that they seem to be…not very Catholic at all.  As I’ve said before, I have a sneaking suspicion that there are very few truly Catholic hospitals in this nation.  To some extent, most of them have sold out to secular values or “ecumenical” views, and they sell contraceptives in their pharmacies, perform direct sterilizations, and sometimes even kill unborn babies. And even if they don’t kill babies on site, some of these hospitals employ counselors, nurses, and/or doctors who suggest such things to their patients.

Here are a few of the events that have transpired over the years that indicate the deterioration (obliteration?) of the Catholic identity of our Catholic hospitals:

·         In February of 2010, Bishop Robert F. Vasa severed the relationship of the Diocese of Baker with St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, largely due to the fact that the hospital was performing direct sterilizations in the form of tubal ligations. The director of the hospital implied that this practice takes place in many “Catholic” hospitals – but the administrators simply do not discuss it with the local bishop.

·         Also in 2010, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, stripped a hospital of its Catholic status because at least one abortion had been committed there.

·         A friend told me that Catholic hospital personnel suggested she abort her unborn baby solely because she was having some psycho-emotional problems.

·         A few years ago, the state of Oregon passed a law requiring hospitals to offer “emergency contraception” to rape victims, regardless of “conscience” considerations, and the bishops did nothing to fight the passage of the law.

·         In October 2007, the bishops in Connecticut decided to allow Catholic hospitals in their state to conform to government pressure to provide the “day after” pill for rape victims.

I mentioned in two previous posts (here and here) that about four years ago, I looked at every Catholic hospital or medical group website I could find on the internet. I found that many mentioned their “Catholic tradition” and also made note that they were in compliance with a document issued by the USCCB called “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services” (ERDs for short).  But about two years ago, in another quick survey of Catholic medical group websites, I found little mention of the ERDs.

I maintain that the secularization of Catholic hospitals was largely accomplished a number of years ago.  One reason for that is that they are not run by Catholics! I don’t know exact figures, but I’ll be you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of faithful Catholics in the upper management positions of many of these hospitals, and especially in the umbrella organizations that own them, like Catholic Health Initiatives.

A year ago, I wrote a post about a news article that reported that then-Catholic HealthCare West was dropping its Catholic affiliation and changing its name to “Dignity Health”. The hospital maintained that (my emphases):

The change will have no effect on any patients or the medical care provided at the 25 Catholic and 15 secular hospitals in the system.

Really?! Then either those 25 Catholic hospitals were not adhering to the ERD’s anyway, or they were following them and were not going to change that fact with the name. I hate to be a pessimist, but I’m betting on the former. A Catholic hospital is supposed to have a Catholic identity. If dropping the Catholic affiliation doesn’t change anything about the hospital’s services and medical care provision, then it wasn’t Catholic in the first place.

I think it’s clear that we’ve lost our Catholic hospitals. The task now is to reclaim them. That’s going to be very difficult with the Obama administration working to undermine conscience rights, etc.  It will require some very strong bishops who are willing to fight for Catholic identity, not just in hospitals, but in schools, social services, and every area of society where Catholic institutions already exist.

It will require willingness to go to jail. It will require willingness to face persecution.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Contraception is the Root of Abortion: ChurchMilitant.TV

Here’s a great “special report” on the March for Life in Washington, DC, from Michael Voris. You can read the entire script here, but this is the critical point:

No amount of spinning polling numbers or pointing to latest data and surveys will change this simple on the fact ground: even with hundreds of thousands marching, when it comes to making a change, Americans at the end of the day just didn’t care ENOUGH to throw the child killers out of office. It will be to this country’s everlasting shame.

And as for the pro-life movement, as it takes honest stock and looks in the mirror, it will be what it has turned out to be because of a strategic error all the way back at the beginning: that the 800 pound gorilla of contraception was never confronted head on.

When America accepted contraception and the pro-life movement side-stepped it, abortion had already secured the victory. And now, as we see, for the exact same reason, so too will same-sex marriage. Error must be dealt with immediately before it is allowed to spread.

If the epitaph on the tomb of America will be voters didn’t care enough, the one on the pro-life movement’s tomb will be: we spent everything we had on the wrong battle.

…[The] truth is: as long as contraception is accepted, there will never be an end to abortion.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Vortex on Steroids: Rod Pead

The other day, I mentioned in passing a talk given by Rod Pead in 2000 at a “Faith of Our Fathers” Conference. The title of the talk was “Sword of Unity: There Was War in Heaven!” It's almost 13 years old, but it hasn't lost its punch.

Who the heck is Rod Pead? I had never heard of him before, but I will never forget him after listening to his talk.

Rod Pead is the editor of a British magazine called Christian Order; the description on the website says:

Christian Order is a British international monthly devoted to the defence and propagation of the One True Faith - Catholic, Apostolic and Roman - through incisive comment on current affairs in Church and State; at home and abroad.

Well, you have to like the sound of that!  On the “About Us” page of the website, there is a longer description of the organization and its aims, ending with this:

Unless the Church is militant, She cannot thrive and flourish. Thus Christian Order is a militant antidote to the secular "live and let live" attitude which has brought the Church low. For forty years it has embodied that uncompromising spirit demanded by Pope Leo XIII, who contended that in times of necessity each Catholic is "under obligation to show forth his faith to instruct and encourage other of the Faithful" [Sapientise Christianae].

My introduction to this publication was an email from a friend who had stumbled upon a recording of Rod Pead’s keynote address at above-mentioned conference in 2000. You can listen to it – it’s in two parts, but the talk is really one coherent piece – here and here (each part is about 30 minutes). You can also read the manuscript here. But if you can spare the time, I highly recommend listening to Mr. Pead deliver his talk. It is very powerful. That’s a lot coming from me, as I tend to be a “visual” person and would generally rather read than listen to a speech.

I’m going to just throw out a few excerpts here to give you the flavor of the talk, and encourage you to listen to it, or at least read the whole thing. It will inspire you.

From his introductory remarks:

This is the plan of attack. We'll first undertake a cook’s tour of ecclesiastical reality today; of bishops and clergy as agents of dis-unity. We'll then very briefly consider two of the chief Modernist weapons employed to undermine Catholic truth and unity. And finally, consider how the self-defeating mentality of many faithful Catholics has also helped reduce Catholicism in the United Kingdom to the same farcical level as slapstick Anglicanism. Above all, this talk is directed to correcting that suicidal tendency in our own ranks.
We all know about the curse of cafeteria Catholicism, but the cafeteria-Catholics are simply mimicking their pick-and-choose prelates.

In discussing a long list of errant bishops in the United Kingdom, Pead sums up by saying:

…and simply say about the bishops: "Who do they think they are!" The plain-speaking Cardinal Silvio Oddi said the same thing in another way during an interview with an American journalist in 1983: "some bishops have come to believe their own infallibility," he said. "They are wrong, and far from the teaching of God. They are condemned. They are condemned most of all before the Church." And I should add that following this statement, as recorded in my book Death of A Catholic Parish, the journalist asked His Eminence if the arguments of the likes of Augustine, Aquinas and Cardinal Newman were correct, that in the words of Aquinas - "if the Faith be in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public," the Pope's close friend and colleague answered: "Absolutely. Without question."

In a section called “Weapons of Disunity”, Pead makes the point that

The bishops, of course, justify their complicity in all this disobedience and dissent, by regurgitating the magic mantra - "dialogue". It is "dialogue", you see - rather than prayer, penance and pronouncement - that is going to save and unite us all. Well, we would need to devote another conference to discussing the difference between true dialogue and counterfeit dialogue…

"Dialogue" as presently understood, of course, means not holding strongly to anything in case you offend people who don't hold the same position. And it rests on the new, secular super-virtue embraced by our Shepherds - "tolerance"… Fr. Felix Salvany has observed that "in time of schism and error, to cloud and distort the proper sense of words is a fruitful artifice of Satan." And just as the meaning of "dialogue" has been distorted to serve the ends of Modernism, so too "tolerance". It used to mean simply the act of enduring - tolerating - some evil or suffering which could not be helped. It now means the opposite of that - tolerance now means avoiding conflict and getting along with everyone, no matter what they hold.

Pead concludes about the distortion of the meaning of words:

And so false tolerance has led to false ecumenism - entailing interminable discussion which has led to nothing but the capitulation of the Catholic side.

That certainly rang true for me! “Ecumenism” always seems to mean that we must forfeit our Catholic identity in order to “get along” with the Protestants or even non-Christian groups!

About the “endless dialogue” that he says plagued the UK, Pead notes:

After disciplining and excommunicating dissenters in his diocese a few years ago, the admirable Bishop Bruskewitz of Nebraska summed it up when he said: "Whoever heard of the fire-brigade dialoguing with the fire!" As the renowned Italian philosopher Romano Amerio states in Iota Unum, his masterful tome on the roots of the postconciliar crisis: "There is a dialogue that converts, and a dialogue that perverts - by which one party is detached from truth led into error." It is this latter, the dialogue of perversion, which holds sway throughout Britain and Ireland today.

Pead also hits on a point I’ve seen expressed concerning some of the more orthodox bishops’ unwillingness to speak out for fear of alienating their more liberal brother bishops. Their rationale seems to be that they will slowly move their peer toward the orthodox view, with sugar rather than vinegar; they don’t want to be labeled and thrown in with the wild-eyed radicals. Pead says:

…[T]here exists here a crushing preponderance of orthodox laity and clergy living this liberal illusion that we can defend Christ and Catholic truth without conflict and the unpleasantness of raised voices and pointed fingers.

…Well, I'm telling you, if we adopt this attitude; if we opt for life in this Establishment Catholic comfort zone of perennial appeasement and Quietism; if we are more interested in retaining an air of respectability than in confronting, strongly and bluntly, this mysterious darkening of episcopal hearts and minds for fear of being called 'extremists' and 'zealots' and 'fanatics'; if we continue living this liberal illusion that we can act justly without risking our good name, our tranquil life, our well-being - then we might as well stand around fretting like Peter and wait for the cock to crow!

About praying for our prelates:

We are all soaked in human respect; full to the brim with false charity. I guess affluence and Catholic faith have never been good bedfellows: food on the table and a warm bed at night does little to encourage the vigorous prayer life required to sustain the truly Catholic mind we need in order to act justly. How else are we to explain the lack of passion and sense of urgency before the disaster we face. It is true that while at the moment we find we can't live with the bishops, we know, too, that by God's design we can't live without them, and that there is only so much we can do. But have we done even that much? Have we prayed and fasted and done penance and really begged God on our knees to convert the hearts and minds of the bishops? Have we consistently pleaded with Him to take the hirelings who will not respond to His grace to their early reward, and send us real Catholic Shepherds in their stead?

On a “Catholic mind”

This is all about retaining that increasingly rare commodity in the neo-pagan West: a Catholic mind, encompassing a truly Catholic view of life. A view once summarised as that "which sets all earthly values within the context of the eternal, the view which relates all human problems - social, political and cultural - to the doctrinal foundations of the Catholic Faith, the view which sees all things here below in terms of God's supremacy and earth's transitoriness, in terms of Heaven and Hell."

…[O]ne who possesses a truly Catholic mind is alarmed by heresy! He sees that souls are being lost now! And this sense of urgency alerts him, intuitively, to the deeper implication of Cardinal Manning's contention that "all conflict is theological". He sees, in other words, that everything, every debate on whatever issue returns to Catholic moral and doctrinal realities and, therefore, that a healthy, unified Catholic Church precedes and gives rise to a healthy, unified and coherent State. And he sees all about him the catastrophic consequences for society of the Modernist heresy destroying the Western Church. Thus, he doesn't put the cart before the horse; he doesn't fool himself into accepting that a sick Church can heal a sick world; he knows that we have to heal the Church and unite ourselves - Catholics of the Latin Rite - before trying to heal the world and unite divided Christianity.

And so with that broad appreciation of the importance of a healthy Church - a Church untainted by the stench of heterodoxy and heresy - the Catholic thinker is not as easily pleased as the average orthodox layman whose standards, after years of struggle, have plummeted to desperate levels. A prelate stands up to condemn sodomy or abortion - the minimum one might expect of a Catholic bishop - and we go weak at the knees and lose all sense of proportion in our rush to congratulate him. In our desperation for something - for someone - to hold on to, we blithely ignore the standards set by St Paul, who wrote to Titus that "a bishop must be beyond reproach, since he is the steward of God's house…", and that the bishop is duty bound to "rebuke sharply" the "many disobedient, vain talkers and seducers" who "bring ruin on entire households by false teaching"; false teachers who, St. Paul concludes: "must be silenced." [Titus 1:7-13].

On the charity of challenging bishops on wrong teaching (my emphases):

Look, we are kidding ourselves if we think we do well to commend what looks like duplicity in our leaders. Episcopal salvation is, to say the very least, problematic. "Many priests are lost and few bishops are saved," said St. John Chrysostom, himself a bishop. After his mother congratulated him on his appointment as Bishop of Mantua, St. Pius X told her: "Mother, you do not realise what it means to be a bishop. I shall lose my soul if I neglect my duty." So we have to stop pandering to duplicitous Shepherds and start fearing - for them, since they appear to have lost all fear of God themselves, and fearing for our complicity in their negligence.

And near the end, again Pead mentions the Church Militant:

If the Church is not Militant, She cannot thrive and flourish: Her sword of unity becomes blunt and useless. And if we have thus far not been sufficiently Militant - if that sword has lost its edge - it is surely because so few in the orthodox camp have taken Pope Leo XIII at his word when he said that Catholics were "born for combat": by which he meant that a Catholic enters a spiritual war zone when he leaves his mother's womb, that his Baptism enlists him into the ranks of the Church Militant and that the war is there to be fought daily, for his own soul and for the life of the Church, until he departs this world in a box!

Tragically, we have sought to avoid the burden of this stressful, outspoken Militancy, which is our birthright and our duty, by seeking refuge in a thousand popular good works and less militant apostolates. And even worse, we have failed to support or openly sniped along with the Jolly Hockey Sticks, at those who have worked to expose the rot and refused to be silent and acquiescent in the sins of our spiritual Fathers in Christ.

He concludes with this:

We ARE principal protagonists in a spiritual civil war! We ARE a Catholic RESISTANCE MOVEMENT! And for the sake of your children and
grandchildren, for the love of Jesus Christ crucified, it's time we started praying and thinking and acting like one! Acting like worthy successors and keepers of the FAITH OF OUR FATHERS!

Now, go! Either read or listen to (part 1, part 2) this talk in its entirety.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mass for Dummies: Vortex

In Monday’s (Jan. 21) Vortex, Michael Voris discusses this news from Rome via Zenit:

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is preparing a booklet to help priests celebrate the Mass properly and the faithful to participate better, according to the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

You can read the entire (short) article here. Some of the highlights are these paragraphs (my emphases):

…The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments criticized existing abuses such as showmanship, and praised moments of silence "that are action," which enable the priest and the faithful to talk with Jesus Christ and which exclude the predominance of words that often becomes showmanship on the part of the priest…

…The cardinal criticized the effort to make the Mass "entertaining" with certain songs -- instead of focusing on the mystery -- in an attempt to overcome "boredom" by transforming the Mass into a show.

Well, it sounds like they’re on the right track! I’m happy that a new publication will be addressing these issues, but as Michael Voris comments at the end of the Vortex, the people who are invested in liturgical abuse will not be happy to receive the news, and they will likely ignore the instruction. After all, we have had a couple of instructions already – notably, there was Redemptionis Sacramentum, in 2004. That document, while claiming “liturgical reform inaugurated by the Council has greatly contributed to a more conscious, active and fruitful participation” in the Mass, also acknowledged that “shadows are not lacking”, and that

In this regard it is not possible to be silent about the abuses, even quite grave ones, against the nature of the Liturgy and the Sacraments as well as the tradition and the authority of the Church, which in our day not infrequently plague liturgical celebrations in one ecclesial environment or another. In some places the perpetration of liturgical abuses has become almost habitual, a fact which obviously cannot be allowed and must cease. (RS, 4; my emphases)

Some of the wording, as you see above, was pretty strong. RS even called some abuses “reprobate”! And yet…not much attention was paid. Not much changed as a result of that document.

But, hope springs eternal! Maybe Michael Voris is right; maybe this new document does mean that the powers-that-be are starting to seriously consider the effects of 50 years of bad liturgy.

Here’s the Vortex, with the script below:



Script:

In further evidence of the epic failure of Church leadership over the past 50 years – AND a sign of encouragement that at least some in the Church are finally trying to change course – the latest news out of the Vatican is noteworthy.

The Vatican is preparing what amounts to an instruction booklet for priests AND the faithful on how to properly attend Mass - meaning with reverence and piety and a worshipful soul.

Imagine this for a moment. Things have gotten SO bad that the Vatican has to issue what is essentially a “Mass for Dummies” handbook.

Underscoring this, late last week, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone gave a speech in London England and during the Q & A he lamented rather dramatically – according to those in attendance – the woeful and near disgusting lack of silence in the Church before and after each Mass.

What Catholics – the average Joe Catholic sitting in the pews – have failed to grasp is the enormous drop off in authentic worship that has overcome a HUGE number of people sitting at Mass each week.

They simply do not know or understand – AND have no real grasp that they DO NOT KNOW – just how bad things have really gotten at Our Lady of Suburbia. And what’s more, a large number of priests are equally in the dark.

They haven’t been trained enough in theology; they haven’t been formed sufficiently spiritually to grasp just how miserable conditions are at Mass each Sunday. Not that all of this is their fault.

Ignorance of the truth does excuse a person, to a degree. Just exactly to WHAT degree will be adjudicated by Our Blessed Lord;  but in the meantime, this ignorance must be overcome.

So…enter the Vatican’s new manual that they are hoping will be out by the summer. We’re told there are some rather direct (THANK YOU!) comments in there about priests needing to stop being showman. Yep.

The Mass isn’t about Fr. Nice. It’s about worshipping God. It’s supposed to say that in there as well. The Mass isn’t about gathering as a community and having some feel good emote-in. It’s supposed to say that in there, too.

The Mass is the central act of worship, the HIGHEST expression of our Catholicism, because it is offering to and worshipping God in the precise manner in which He Himself has commanded it: DO THIS IS MEMORY OF ME.

Stated in another way from the Vatican cardinal leading the work, the Mass “is the adoration of God and the salvation of men, which is not a creation of ours, but source and summit of the Church.”

The cardinal also blasted the idea of entertaining music being played and certain songs being sung that are meant to evoke an emotional response and help overcome boredom.
Yep. Clearly he’s been to practically any parish in the United States on any given Sunday,  where the “audience” is treated to a nice rendition and medley of Protestant hymns like “Amazing Grace”, as well as syrupy-sappy 1970’s and 80’s Catholic hits suitable for banjo and drum accompaniment.

We’ve attached a link to the news article that offers more detail. It’s well worth the read; but in the meanwhile, it’s worth considering, again, that: a) this is being done…GOOD! And b) that things are so off track, it NEEDS to be done…BAD!!

Now this is gonna go over like a lead balloon with many of the baby boomer Catholics who rather like this Church of Nice – and we’re talking about priests as well as laity. They don’t go to Mass to worship God, they go to worship themselves – so instructions from that old man in Rome are not gonna be received joyfully, will be opposed, will be spoken of in derogatory terms either explicitly or implicitly and slyly by the more career-minded.

But they can throw fits and whine and yell that the Church is out of step, is trying to return to the Dark Ages, and all their usual talking points all they want. The fact is, things are severely messed up, and little by little, steps are being taken to fix them.

While it is proving to be ONE VERY LONG day, this much is certain: the sun is continuing to set on the modernist Catholic crowd. Pray that a peaceful night will soon be upon us.

Monday, January 21, 2013

About that Letter to the SSPX...

There’s a new report of a letter sent to the SSPX by the Vice-President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Archbishop Di Noia. (H/T SuperTradMum). The full text is now in English on Rorate Caeli blog.

Archbishop Di Noia
I read the letter quickly, impatient to get a sense of what’s going on. As usual, it’s not really clear. I'll have to go study it some more. In the meantime, here's my initial reaction:

The letter seems amicable enough, but some parts are a little condescending. In the beginning there are words to the effect that the SSPX (as in Bishop Fellay, and a few others I guess) have spread some falsehoods that “impugn” the Holy Father, and the Vatican may need to step forward soon and correct “certain inaccurate assertions”.

Now, I do not at all pretend to be anything other than a confused lay person when it comes to the ongoing dispute between the SSPX and Rome (a confusion which stems from Rome’s ambiguous statements about the SSPX’s status in the Church…or is it outside of the Church?!). Let me try to work through some of my confusion here.

Early in the letter, the archbishop says:

…[A] review of the history of our relations since the 1970s leads to the sobering realization that the terms of our disagreement concerning Vatican Council II have remained, in effect, unchanged.

Yes. Well. Sorry, but all I can hear is my dad saying “Poop or get off the pot” in less polite verbiage.  Yep, we’re going on 40 years here with no resolution. I find that a little disgusting. But then what do I know? Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.

The paragraph noted above continues:

With magisterial authority, the Holy See has consistently maintained that the documents of the Council must be interpreted in the light of Tradition and the Magisterium and not vice versa, while the Fraternity has insisted that certain teachings of the Council are erroneous and are thus not susceptible to an interpretation in line with the Tradition and the Magisterium.

Now here is where I get confused all over again. “Documents of the Council must be interpreted in the light of Tradition and the Magisterium and not vice versa”, it says. Well, I guess I thought that’s what the SSPX has been saying all along. I thought they were saying that some aspects of the documents just don’t follow from Tradition. I thought that’s WHY the SSPX says certain teachings of the Council are erroneous. I think that paragraph creates a false dichotomy. But then, what do I know?

There’s a lot about the “unity of the Church” in the letter. That’s an important point, of course. But how to preserve unity is another question. When to speak against erroneous teaching is a question. Just yesterday I listened to a very interesting talk given way back in 2000 in which the speaker, Rod Pead, notes that

…[When a] journalist asked His Eminence [Cardinal Silvio Oddi] if the arguments of the likes of Augustine, Aquinas and Cardinal Newman were correct, that in the words of Aquinas - "if the Faith be in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public," the Pope's close friend and colleague answered: "Absolutely. Without question."

There has to be a place for questioning…doesn’t there? I think that is a difficult question in itself, actually…

Anyway, there’s a lot to this letter; you should really read it yourself. Some of it is, I think, condescending toward the SSPX. For instance, look at this paragraph from the section describing “The Place for the Priestly Society in the Church”:

The authentic charism of the Fraternity is to form priests for the service of the people of God, not the usurpation of the office of judging and correcting the theology or discipline of others within the Church. Your focus should be on the inculcation of sound philosophical, theological, pastoral, spiritual, and human formation for your candidates so that they may preach the word of Christ and act as instruments of God’s grace in the world, especially through the solemn celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (my emphases)

Okay, sure, I can see the point being made here…sort of. I have to wonder, though, how one inculcates sound philosophical, theological, etc., formation when – if you really do a thorough job of that – you can see some glaring discrepancies and contradictions when you get to Vatican II… I mean, there ARE some problems! And if the SSPX and a bunch of other people from all walks of life are WRONG about these problems, then they need to be addressed definitively.

I don’t see that happening; and that’s sad, because if Archbishop di Noia wants to talk about preserving the unity of the Church, he – or someone – needs to be willing to get to the heart of these issues that divide us. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I know that the Church is divided in the US; one need only look at the stats on how many Catholics voted for Obama, how many support same-sex “marriage”, how many think there is some justification for abortion, and how many use artificial contraception.

Here’s what I think: it’s time to stop beating around the bush. It seems to me that the SSPX has been pretty straightforward in their objections to certain parts of the Council. It seems to me that Rome has tended to sidestep the real issues. Why don’t they cut to the chase and actually discuss the real issues?

There can be no doubt that there are real issues. And we can see the fruit – rotten though it may be in many cases – of some of those issues. For one thing, we can see the problems with the way “ecumenism” was presented or at least interpreted after the Council: Catholics have become “Protestantized” as a result, rather than Protestants becoming “Catholicized”. In fact the idea that everyone should be Catholic – one true faith, and all that – seems to have gone by the wayside.

And then there are the problems with the Mass. Let’s just not even go there right now, other than to point out that, as everyone seems to understand, there are egregious liturgical abuses going on every day in Masses all over the world, and no one in authority really seems to care.

There is the decline of the Church in the decades following Vatican II. Some of that decline can be traced to the interpretation of some of those documents from the Council. If there is not a direct causal relationship, surely Rome can at least admit that there’s a strong correlation – and that there are things that need to be “fixed”.

It’s almost as if the powers-that-be (especially the “progressive” and “liberal” powers) are incapable of admitting that there might be some aspects of Vatican II that need to be clarified, and maybe even corrected. Documents that can be so disparately interpreted seem to me to be in need of a little fine-tuning.

But what do I know? I’m just a confused lay person who loves the Church and hates the fact that, at least in my little Catholic world, our “Catholic identity” has been all but forgotten.