Friday, August 31, 2012

How Modernism Undermines Catholic Identity

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 2 in Anne Roche Muggeridge’s book The Desolate City: Revolution in theCatholic Church. She did her homework, and included footnotes and reference that I did not include in the excerpt. Buy the book (used, for 1 penny on Amazon) and read it – it’s quite an education, and will help you do understand why and how so much has gone wrong in the Church over the last 50 years.

If you wonder what happened to our Catholic identity, this will help explain it.  (All emphases mine, with some of my own [comments].)

* * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * *
The First Modernist Crisis

Pope Leo XIII
…In the middle of the nineteenth century, the papacy, lacking secular powers, had been unable to do very much to resist the progressive liberalization, that is, secularization, of the various nation states. After a vigorous restatement of its principles, it resumed wary coexistence with pagan governments, something of which it has had much experience in its history. But in the sphere of doctrine, of maintaining the purity of the deposit of faith, it had lost none of its moral authority or nerve, and had no intention of allowing the anti-dogmatic principle to be invited into its own domain. Pope Leo XIII, during whose mildly liberal papacy modernism had first gone public…issued in 1893 the encyclical letter Providentissimus Deus, which reasserted the inerrancy of Scripture. Pius X followed in July 1907 with a sweeping condemnation, Lamentabili Sane, of sixty-five modernist positions, and in September of the same year with the encyclical Pascendi, On the Doctrines of the Modernists, which described modernism as “a synthesis of all heresies,” since “it is not possible to admit one part without admitting all.”…An oath against modernism was required of all priests, seminary professors, and religious superiors. The thoroughgoing condemnation of modernism and the vigorous carrying out of measures against it scattered the movement at its beginning and postponed revolution in the Catholic Church for sixty years[Remember, she’s talking about the first modernist crisis here; 60 years later, the modernists were able to take back lost ground and gain some against tradition and orthodoxy.]

What the modernists intended was a revolution in religious thinking that would have altered Christian belief far more radically than had the Protestant Reformation. The working principle of modernism was that the discoveries of modern science had rendered obsolete and ridiculous much of the traditional language of Christian belief. [And they managed to make the language of the Mass much more ridiculous after Vatican II; thank God some of that has been corrected by the “new translation” of the Roman Missal.] To make Christianity intellectually “credible” again and thus “more habitable for men of contemporary culture,” the miraculous and mythical had to be stripped away, leaving only that kernel capable of scientific verification. Christian propositions left unsupported by science but which nevertheless contained useful truths about human existence were to be reinterpreted to meet the new physical conditions and psychological demands of modern life and constantly thereafter modified by the lived experience of the Christian community.

…There were indeed genuine problems facing the Church in the nineteenth century, but it quickly became clear that the modernist attempt to resolve them by the application of the scientific method was not going to shore up the traditional faith of Christianity. Major elements of Christian belief are simply not susceptible of that kind of physical verification.  What imaginable scientific tests would, for example, “prove” to the non-believer the reality of the virginal conception of Jesus? Therefore, a revolutionary shift in the interpretation of the Christian Scriptures was necessary. The whole body of creedal propositions had to be removed and translated from the historical level of things that actually, physically happened in time to the psychological level, from the objective to the subjective, from the actual to the ideal. In this way, educated modern men could continue to adhere to a “Christian revelation” separated from the outmoded cultural concepts through which it had been transmitted.

…The major awkwardness faced by proponents of a psychological understanding of the propositions of the faith is how to deal with the indisputable fact that the Gospels present them as factual statements about physical events that took place in history…

…Modernists deal with this awkwardness by having recourse to the historical-critical method of interpretation. By means of this method, the evangelists can be shown to have told not lies but stories…By the use of form criticism and of generic criticism, modern scholars identified the class of literature in which the evangelists embodied their concepts – allegory, maxim, poetry, folk tale, myth, parable, midrash, history, morality play. Such identification determines what response is required of us. By the use of another historical-critical took, redaction criticism, any scriptural account can be moved back to its earlier form, stripped of the additions, decorations, interpolations, interpretations, borrowings, by which generations of editors overlaid its basic statement. Thus, the Christ of faith can be scientifically separated from the Christ of history.

Modernists are thus able to retain the creedal formulas while at the same time emptying them of their traditional meaning, indeed of any historical or objective content whatever…

…The effect of modernism on the individual soul is either the rapid loss of Christian faith altogether or a curious and rather touching brand of pious agnosticism, where one believes the little one respectably can, according to modernisms’ own very arbitrary canon, while at the same time practicing far beyond one’s rational acceptance, out of loyalty, or patriotism, or from a heart too won in childhood ever to be alienated. [See the importance of inculcating the faith in our children!]

Image found here
[Liberal Protestant biblical scholarship] keeps itself poverty-stricken by dismissing out of hand the most important body of evidence, the Catholic tradition, the continuity of what the Church has believed and since apostolic times taught about Christ’s life on earth. For the orthodox scholar, the tradition is the test of the truth of his findings; for the modernist, the tradition is inadmissible hearsay evidence. Yet the Scriptures themselves, the texts for all this higher criticism, come to us through the tradition, selected, canonized, and authoritatively interpreted by a teaching Church. It must always be remembered that it was the tradition that created the Church, not the Church the tradition.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
What I take away from this excerpt is this:

Tradition gives us the Church.

Tradition gives us the Bible.

Tradition gives us our Catholic identity.

Protestants rely on “sola scriptura” – scripture alone. If we, as Catholics, want to forget our Tradition and play the Protestant game, then we join them in simply relying on our own (or the current pastor’s) interpretation of the Scriptures; there’s no authority, no standard, to turn to.

And if we do that, then we’re all just like the folks in the story of the Tower of Babel. We’re trying to create our own “reality” of Biblical truth, and we’re talking past each other…as well as deceiving ourselves.

It’s the Holy Catholic Church that brings us to unity, and makes us the Body of Christ. We can’t let anyone take that Truth away from us.

Radio: Review and Reminders


Last night’s interview with Fr. Michael Rodriguez on Salve Regina Radio with host Larry Roach was very interesting. You can listen to it here. A commenter here on this blog said, “Fr. Rodriguez offered many great insights. I enjoyed learning about his journey to the Tridentine Mass and his clear understanding of the priest’s awesome role, in persona Christi.”

Fr. Rodriguez also gave a great list of 10 reasons to use Latin in the Mass; I hope to find time to transcribe that part soon.

Reminder #1:

The interview with Fr. William Gardner on NFP, purity, and marital chastity will be re-broadcast on Radio Maria tomorrow, Saturday, at noon Eastern Time.
Fr. Gardner, who has offered his commentary on this blog, is the oldest of 10 living children, was once an electrical engineer, and is now a parish priest for the Diocese of Peoria. He has written three articles with important incites on marriage, NFP and purity. Two were originally printed in Homiletic & Pastoral Review , and can be viewed at third was printed in Latin Mass, Purity Honors Creativeness

Reminder #2:

A new radio show, “Forward Boldly”, hosted by Christine Niles is coming up, too; the debut show will be on Saturday night, Sept. 8, 10-11 p.m. Eastern Time. Go here for more information about the show and Christine. Here’s an excerpt:

After a number of years wandering in the non-Catholic wilderness, Christine returned with great joy to the one true faith in 2003 and has never looked back. With a graduate degree in theology from the University of Oxford and a Juris Doctor from Notre Dame Law School, she is currently a licensed attorney and mother of four.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Good Radio Stuff

I am just not a fan of talk radio…I’m not sure why. It’s probably due mainly to my preference for “visual” learning. I don’t listen to any form of radio, really.

But I may have to change my ways…

For one thing, Fr. William Gardner was on Radio Maria the other day (more info here), and I would love to hear what he had to say. I’ll have another chance on Saturday at noon Eastern Time, and I intend to give it my best shot.

In addition, take a look at this: Fr. Michael Rodriguez will be the guest on Larry Roach’s Salve Regina radio show this evening at 9pm CDT, 7pm PDT. Larry says:

See the Fidelis Radio website
[Fr. Rodriguez] is a very faithful priest who has traveled the path from “regular” diocesan priest with no particular interest in the traditions of the Church to a man now totally dedicated to the Traditional Latin Mass and the restoration of the Faith! He was also, of course, very involved in efforts to overturn El Paso City Council’s decision to extend benefits to “domestic partners” of gay employees – a decision that ran directly counter to the will of the people as expressed in a dedicated election on the matter – and then attempting to get the mayor and certain council members recalled from office. Because of the very heterodox, problematic state of the El Paso Diocese, his efforts were not supported by his bishop and fellow priests, and, in fact, led to him being persecuted and banished.

Much of the latter is already pretty well known, so I plan to focus more on why Tradition appeals to Fr. Rodriguez so much, how he came to embrace it, and the benefits he sees in it for all Catholics.

A new radio show, “Forward Boldly”, hosted by Christine Niles, is coming up, too; the debut show will be on Saturday night, Sept. 8, 10-11 p.m. Eastern Time. Go here for more information about the show. Here’s an excerpt from Christine's bio:

See the Fidelis Radio website
After a number of years wandering in the non-Catholic wilderness, Christine returned with great joy to the one true faith in 2003 and has never looked back. With a graduate degree in theology from the University of Oxford and a Juris Doctor from Notre Dame Law School, she is currently a licensed attorney and mother of four.

Happy listening!

Natural Family Personalism

I’d like to pick up my thread on modernism as it is expressed in phenomenology and personalism, and attempt to make some points about NFP, “serious reasons”, and conscience.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it seems to me that the combination of phenomenology and personalism – which go hand-in-hand – leads the untrained lay “philosopher” into some serious errors of theology, morality, and logic which can be summed up in the one sentence that epitomizes society today: “It’s all about me.”

Modernist/personalist philosophy says that “reality” is to be found in the heart, and is not concerned with whether that “reality” exists outside the experience of the believer.  We see this percolating down through secular society as the notion that the only thing that matters is “my experience” of whatever “reality” might be under consideration. I don’t think it’s too much of a jump to see that current popular thinking on the use of NFP is a product of modernism. I’m not saying that NFP is not a licit form of birth control, because the Church has made it clear that it is – for “serious reasons”, of course. And there’s the rub…again.

As I have developed my thinking about NFP and expressed it on this blog, I have received several comments along the lines of “you can’t judge other people’s reasons for using NFP”. For the most part, this is true, and I personally do not judge others’ unknown reasons for using NFP (heck, I don’t even know whether or not they ARE using NFP unless they tell me!).

But this “don’t judge me” attitude also makes the modernist/phenomenologist/personalist foundation of current NFP thinking quite obvious. It says loud and clear that each individual’s experience is the determinant of the “reality” of the “serious reasons” for NFP use. On the one hand, NFP proponents rightly claim that recent Church documents specifically state that NFP is allowed, but on the other, they dismiss the “serious reasons” part because they assume that this is part of the personal experience that defines the reality of the need to regulate births.

I’ve found it difficult to reason with many NFP promoters because of their idea that there’s no “reality” of “serious reasons” outside the person’s experience. But this notion is wrong. Objectively wrong. Otherwise, we are reduced to relativism, which is an untenable position.

There is Church teaching (on this and many other subjects). There is Truth – objective truth. Truth is truth whether or not one’s experience agrees with that truth. For example, you can say “I don’t believe in gravity” all you want, but you are still going to fall when you step off the edge of a cliff. And you can say “I don’t believe in hell” all you want, but, as Venerable Fulton Sheen said, “You will when you get there.”

With NFP and the regulation of births, we get into all manner of emotional objections that are rooted in personal experience – and there are some tragic ones to consider! But just because a teaching of the Church is a “hard saying” doesn’t mean that we are not called to follow it, does it? If you went to a Novus Ordo Mass last Sunday, hopefully you heard a little about “hard sayings”.

Our true home is in Heaven, and we don’t get there by taking the easy road. Whenever we find ourselves saying, “It’s too haaaaard”, we should remember that the path to holiness is not an easy one (please, someone, remind me of this next time I’m feeling sorry for myself!). That’s why Our Lord said, “How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (Matt 7:14).

The path to holiness will involve some pain – physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual. We tend to forget that in this world; instead, we seek always to alleviate the pain in whatever way seems to be the most expedient. Why do you think medical insurance is so expensive? I think that, in part, it’s because we as a society have become so dependent on it. We count on the medical professionals to solve even the most minor of our physical (and psychological) maladies. Watch a few TV commercials: whatever ails you, there’s a drug for that!

The point I’m trying to make is that our fallen human nature will likely try to convince us that we have a “serious reason” to avoid pregnancy, even when that reason is only a mild inconvenience. It’s difficult to discern a truly “serious” reason in our society today, since most people are pushing the small family idea under the guise of “responsible parenthood”; we are easily fooled by the secular voices and attitudes sounding in our ears and thoughts.  But just because it’s easy to fall into the trap doesn’t mean we should jump in willingly. If we abandon any objective standard for “serious reasons”, then moral relativism creeps in and we allow any reason to be “serious”…just because it feels that way to the individual couple. 

So, what about objective standards, then? That leads me to consider other comments I’ve received and read on other blogs – the ones claiming that no pope has given a definitive list of “serious reasons”, so it’s clearly up to each individual to decide what’s “serious” enough for them. On one level, I agree that this is true: there’s no exhaustive list, and individual circumstances surely will play a part in a couple’s decision to use NFP. Still, prior to the major modernist take-over at Vatican II, there had been some guidance in examining the reasons for using periodic continence.  In his Allocution to MidwivesPope Pius XII said:

Serious motives often put forward on medical, eugenic, economic, and social grounds can exempt husband and wife from the obligatory positive debt of the procreation of children for a long period, or even for the duration of the marriage.

Granted, he is not laying out specific problems, and in the decades since, the modernist influence has encouraged a broad interpretation of these terms. However, from the homily I transcribed here, we have this non-modernist interpretation:

Medical: serious real and objective dangers to the physical and even psychological health of one or both partners, usually the woman.

Eugenic: real possibility of serious incurable hereditary defects of the child. This may last for the duration of the marriage, or it may be for a period of time, for example when a woman must undergo medical treatment with certain types of drugs that will cause birth defects.

Economic: this refers to true financial hardship. True financial hardship. In such a profoundly materialistic society as ours, this one requires brutal honesty before God. All too often in our culture, we see the trappings of life placed ahead of life itself.

Social: This would include problems in the social order, like the tyrannical Chinese one-child policy; or natural disasters, like floods, fires, wars, and so forth.

Admittedly, this is a priest speaking – not a bishop or a doctor of the Church or a pope. His interpretation makes sense, though; it’s grounded in centuries-old Church teaching, and it is not colored by feel-good personalistic double-speak.

For further guidance concerning “serious” reasons, we can consider that Pope Pius XII also noted that

The moral lawfulness of practicing periodic continence should be determined by whether or not the couple’s intention is based on sufficient and worthy moral grounds. The mere fact that the husband and wife do not offend the nature of the act and are even ready to accept and bring the child who is born in spite of the precautions they have taken would not of itself alone be a sufficient guarantee of the right intention and the unquestionable morality of the motives themselves.

So, the question of “serious reasons” is definitely something to be guided by a properly formed conscience. The problem is that the modernist, personalistic tendencies that have come into play since Vatican II have led the faithful to an erroneous view of conscience. Many forget – or never knew – that one’s conscience must be properly formed in accordance with Church teaching. It’s not enough to say, “I examined my conscience”; there must be a constant striving to align that conscience with the mind of the Church.

And the mind of the Church has been dead set against birth control since the beginning.
I’ll end with an excerpt from a very cogent comment was left by Cindy on another blog (my emphases):

…[A]fter 5 years of successful NFP practice, I abandoned it completely when I realized that my knowledge had crossed a very ambiguous moral line. When my relationship with my husband became a scheduled event, when loving each other was limited to infertile days, when I wanted my husband and he resisted because it was my fertile time, I decided to call it quits….That same year, I was at a homeschool conference where a priest was discussing NFP. His words ring in my ears still:
“NFP is neither morally good or evil. It is morally neutral. And it would be a good idea to stop encouraging couples to use it for spacing their children. In many occasions, it only leads married couples to sin. It should be avoided unless there is some truly grave reason for married couples to avoid having more children, such as the case of serious illness of the mother which might leave other children orphaned.”

…After discussing the matter with many of our NFP using friends, we all agreed. We were using NFP as contraception. We didn’t want any more children. Out of 10 or so couples, only 1 couple was using NFP to space their children. It was eye opening. While I agree…that, fundamentally, there is absolutely nothing but freedom in knowing how our bodies work, the motives behind NFP use are often very troubling. And this is not God’s way. Science is an amazing tool, but when we place our faith in our scientific methods over our faith in God’s Providence, we are in jeopardy of losing our souls.

…[W]e cannot abandon our reasoning ability. But, as St. Thomas Aquinas reflected, our reasoning must be properly ordered lest it lead us to sin. I have come to believe it is highly imprudent to tell married couples that NFP is a moral good.

For more NFP posts on this blog, click on the "NFP Posts" tab at the top of the page.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Defense of Todd Akin

There have appeared a number of articles defending Todd Akin and his remark about “legitimate rape” in the last several days.

Basically, they boil down to these points:

First, he wasn’t that far off the mark with his comment that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” regarding the probability of a woman becoming pregnant as a result of rape.

Second, some women have falsely claimed to have been raped. What do you call that kind of “rape”, then, versus …er…uh…legitimate rape?

So why has Akin been castigated?

Bottom line: as one blogger puts it:

Akin has to be slimed even though the facts are virtually self-evident, even if the facts ALL favor Akin.

Especially since the facts all favor Akin.

Everyone else has said it better than I can, so here are links to several articles, with some excerpts from each (I recommend you read them in their entirety):

Is the risk of pregnancy lower with forcible rape, and if so, why? Off the cuff, Todd Akin gave a layman’s restatement of the point made by some pro-life physicians that the female body has some defense mechanisms against pregnancy in cases of rape.
The process of fertilization, implantation and maintenance of pregnancy is an intricate one, highly dependent on hormonal signals. Stress is conceded to make miscarriage more likely by disrupting the hormonal milieu. What could be more stressful than a forcible rape?

What does Akin mean by "a legitimate rape"? Well, according to this news story, FBI and US DOJ studies over the course of years have demonstrated that about one in four rape allegations are fabricated. False. Made up. Created out of whole cloth.

And we already know [follow that link for some informative research done by Mr. Skellmeyer] that rapists impregnate women at a lower rate than is normally expected. That is, we already know that Mr. Akin is correct.

Fact: An unfertilized human egg lasts 24 hours in the reproductive tract.
Fact: A woman can't get pregnant unless she ovulates.
Fact: Stress delays ovulation.
Fact: Rape is stressful.
Conclusion: Therefore, rape is likely to cause delayed ovulation and result in no pregnancy than a normal act of consensual intercourse.

These facts are individually uncontested
It's only when you put the facts together and draw the conclusion that the liberals begin frothing at the mouth.


Well, they are heavily invested in abortion.

And then there’s a very eye-opening article by Rebecca Kiessling, which she ran on her blogand which was picked up by LifeSiteNews, entitled “Women Who Cried Wolf: The Illegitimate Rape Claim Behind Roe v. Wade”. Ms. Kiessling is both a product and a victim of rape, not to mention domestic violence; it is definitely worth your while to read her entire post. Here’s a snippet:

The largest illegitimate rape claim ever perpetrated in the history of our nation was the foundation for the filing of Roe v Wade, which led to abortion on demand in our country! So the next time you hear anyone complaining about Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remark, I want you to remember that abortion rights activists are the women who cried wolf. They are the ones who are squarely responsible for the skepticism we see today regarding women who claim to be pregnant by rape, and they’ve set an example for other women to lie about it too. For those on the left who criticize Akin, I can assuredly call you out as hypocrites.
And for those who make the rape exception, some blame rests on you as well. After all, once you make a rape exception, you now have to set a standard in order to determine whether a claim of rape is legitimate so that the government will not be defrauded when a woman wants to receive Medicaid funding to abort her child – as in the Hyde Amendment exceptions. Rape exceptions put the government in this position – whether they require a police report, social service agency report, or a doctor’s certification that he’s satisfied that the woman’s claim of rape is legitimate.

Finally, I just noticed today, via LifeSiteNews, that

A poll of likely Missouri general election voters released this morning shows that, far from being out of the race, embattled Senate candidate Todd Akin has regained his lead over Senator Claire McCaskill by a 45% to 42% margin, with 13% undecided.

I think that maybe most people realize that Akin wasn’t making a demeaning comment about “legitimate rape”, but was just looking at things realistically.

And in the final analysis of course, the whole thing is really about whether a baby conceived in rape can be legally killed in the womb. After all, as the photo below indicates, the child conceived in rape is just as much a child as the one conceived in a loving marital embrace.

A Sermon for the Beheading of John the Baptist: Fr. Andersen

A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart in Gervais, on The Passion of St. John the Baptist

JOHN THE BAPTIST REBUKES KING HEROD“It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.” Death has no power over these words (cf. Gueranger. The Liturgical Year. vol. 14., p. 109). A tyrant may put to death the man who speaks these words, but he cannot put these words to death. They are truth itself. “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.” This is not a man made law. This is God’s eternal law that cannot be broken without dire consequences.

These are the dire consequences:

“Josephus relates how [Herod Antipas] was overcome by the Arabian Aretas, whose daughter he had repudiated in order to follow his wicked passions; and the Jews attributed the defeat to the murder of St. John. He was deposed by Rome from his tetrarchate, and banished to Lyons in Gaul, where the ambitious Herodias shared his disgrace. As to her dancing daughter Salome, there is a tradition gathered from ancient authors, that, having gone out one winter day to dance upon a frozen river, she fell through into the water; the ice, immediately closing round her neck, cut off her head, which bounded upon the surface, thus continuing for some moments the dance of death" (Gueranger 112).

This feast actually celebrates four events. The first event is the beheading itself. “The second event is the burning and gathering, or collecting, of St. John’s bones” (Voragine, The Golden Legend. Vol II., p. 135). This is called the second martyrdom of St. John the Baptist. His disciples had buried his body at Sebaste, a city in Palestine…and many miracles had occurred at his tomb (cf. Voragine 135). “For this reason the pagans, by order of Julian the Apostate, scattered his bones, but the miracles did not cease, and the bones were collected, burned, and pulverized, and the ashes thrown to the winds to be blown over the fields…” (135). On the day when the bones were collected to be burned, some monks from Jerusalem secretly mingled with the pagans and carried out many of the relics, saving them from destruction. They delivered these to Philip, bishop of Jerusalem, who sent them to Anastasius, the bishop of Alexandria. During the Crusades, many of them were brought into the West and distributed among many churches.

The third event commemorated on this feast is the finding of the head of St. John the Baptist which happened on this day. It is said that when John was beheaded, Herodias had John’s head taken to Jerusalem to be buried because “she feared that the prophet would return to life if his head was buried with his body. Four hundred years later some monks took the head to venerate it in a more proper place. It was stolen and hidden in a cave. The man who stole it revealed on his deathbed where it was, but the hiding place was kept secret for a long time. Many years later, a holy monk, St. Marcellus, had taken up residence in this cave. It was revealed to him where the head was hidden. The head was then enshrined in a beautiful church in Poitiers in France.

The fourth event is the translation of one of St. John’s fingers and the dedication of a church. The finger with which he pointed to the Lord, could not be burned. The finger made its way to Normandy, France where a church was built in honor of St. John the Baptist.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fr. William Gardner on Radio Maria

I had received the email below from One More Soul, but neglected to announce it myself!

Fr. William Gardner, who has written several good articles on NFP, and has occasionally added his comments on this blog, was on Radio Maria today. The show will be rebroadcast on Saturday at noon ET.

Fr. Gardner pointed out to me that it seemed quite fitting that today is the feast day of St. Augustine - the Doctor of Grace who has so much to teach us about marriage! 

Update: I believe you can listen to the program any time here.

Here’s the announcement from One More Soul:

 Dear Friends of Radio Maria, One More Soul, et al,

Thank you for being a faithful listener to "The Quest for a Culture of Life in America" - I hope you enjoy and appreciate this program as much as I do. The Guests are great, and somehow I manage to stumble along with them. If you cannot listen live (on radio or web at, the program is rebroadcast on Saturdays at the same time

Our Guest Today Tuesday the 28th (Noon, ET) will be Fr. William Gardner, the oldest of 10 living children, an Electrical Engineer, and now a parish priest for the Diocese of Peoria. He has written three articles with important incites on marriage, NFP and purity. Two were originally printed in Homiletic & Pastoral Review , and can be viewed at The third was printed in Latin Mass,

One More Soul has always been a strong advocate for Natural Family Planning (NFP) as an aid for couples seeking to achieve conception and also for those who for serious reason feel the need to avoid conception. This support for NFP has always been subservient to our encouragement for married couples to be open to procreation (with God) of a child--the Supreme gift of/to marriage.

I am really looking forward to hearing about Fr. Gardner's first large family, his vocation path, and his life as a parish priest in Peru Indiana. AND, of course, we want to gain an understanding of his perspectives on NFP, marriage and purity.

I hope you will be able to be with us on Tuesday. Blessings.

Steve Koob, Director
One More Soul

More Liturgical Abuse

Here are a few more thoughts on a couple more cases of liturgical abuse, and some thoughts on liturgical abuse in general.

First, the other day there was a story on Rorate Caeli blog about a “Memorial Mason Mass”, with several photos of the event. It was noted that:

What makes this mass noteworthy, therefore, is the occasion: it is a memorial new mass for the "Day of the Freemason", celebrated by Father Geraldo de Magela Silva, of the Diocese of Pesqueira (state of Pernambuco, Brazil), on August 20, 2012. Its images were actually posted on the Facebook page of a Masonic organization.

Talk about a contradiction in terms! The Masons have been condemned by the Church for centuries, and the Catholic faithful are still forbidden to be members!

Also occurring in Brazil was this ludicrous and sacrilegious scene:


Apparently, the young woman has joined the priest in the “Agnus Dei”. And in the photo below, she is administering Holy Communion under both species. 

As Tantamergo noted:

Is this dress considered sufficiently modest to take the very Lord of the Universe into one’s hands and then distribute it to another?

Amen, brother.

Back to that imminent water park Mass in the Diocese of Honolulu…I have had a few thoughtful comments from readers. CatholicSacristan said (my emphases):

When will prelates, priests and people realize that the aged hippy-dippy generation, shorthand for "Spirit of Vatican II" folk, was and is wrong about the Liturgy? They mistakenly think that making the Liturgy "relevant" will engage young people. My experience with contemporary college students indicates that a different tack is required. The college students I know have indicated in no uncertain terms that they want Tradition. They want Catholic identity and substance not frothy, abuse ridden liturgies which focus on the people (rather than Christ) and only serve to create a cult of personality. They want deep ritual and many routinely go to the TLM at Our Lady Queen of Peace and the Latin OF on Saturdays. In brief, they want Christ not kitsch, Jesus not cheesy. [See also his post “A Tale of Two Maui Parishes”]

I don’t know very many college students these days, but I keep hearing that young people are looking for something more than the fluff that’s too often all there is to the typical parish Novus Ordo Mass. I pray it is true!

Another reader emailed me with this comment (my emphasis):

It seems to me that if there was one thing I would want Catholics to know, it would be that the Mass is the most important thing there is, and that it is separate from all other gatherings/celebrations/ meetings/missions/services, etc. Just leave the Mass alone and you can do whatever with all those other things. Sing all that music and do all your dancing, etc. somewhere else. In the window of my parish church it says, 'Daily service 8:00'. SERVICE!!! To me that shows a huge lack of catechesis at the very basic level.

Exactly! The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life! Why do we see it marred and mocked by liturgical abuses?

I think that in many cases, the liturgy is abused in ignorance. People just don’t know. And they’ve been Protestantized to the extent that their Catholic sensibilities are not speaking very loudly. Sometimes the faithful “just know” something is wrong in a particular Mass, but they can’t put their finger on it; other times, the abuse screams so loudly that even our numbed and dumbed-down Catholic identity recognizes it and objects.

The sad fact is that we can find priests and bishops who seem to hold the correct Catholic moral view of things like abortion, contraception, and homosexual “marriage”, and who might even “go public” in trying to educate the faithful about these things. But these same priests and bishops fall flat when it comes to the liturgy. They will uphold Catholic moral teaching in the same Mass where liturgical abuses abound!

And yet, the Mass is the foundation! The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life! If we would just get it right, so many wrongs would be corrected.

Save the liturgy, save the world.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Water Park Mass: A Bad Idea

I don’t imagine it’s really much of a surprise to anyone to read in the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) that

22. The celebration of the Eucharist in a particular Church is of the
utmost importance.

That’s kind of a no-brainer. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life, after all!  And it’s the bishop who has the primary responsibility for the proper celebration of the Eucharist in his diocese. The GIRM continues (my emphases throughout):

For the Diocesan Bishop, the prime steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to his care, is the moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole of liturgical life. In celebrations that take place with the Bishop presiding, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist by the Bishop himself with the Presbyterate, the Deacons, and the people taking part, the mystery of the Church is manifest. Hence, solemn celebrations of Mass of this sort must be exemplary for the entire diocese.

The Bishop should therefore be determined that the Priests, the Deacons, and the lay Christian faithful grasp ever more deeply the genuine significance of the rites and liturgical texts, and thereby be led to the active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist. To that end, he should also be vigilant in ensuring that the dignity of these celebrations be enhanced

So, given this exhortation concerning the great dignity of the Mass, especially when celebrated by the bishop of the diocese, it’s easy to understand why bishop of the Diocese of Honolulu would go out of his way to celebrate Mass for the youth of the diocese at…

….wait for it…

…a water park called Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii in Kapolei, Oahu.

No, I’m not kidding. A reader alerted me to this fact, and provided a link to the announcement which says in part:

Blessed Pope John Paul II believed that young people were not just the Church of tomorrow, but the Church of today. To better equip them for their witness to Jesus, all youth are invited to celebrate the gift of their Catholic faith at Diocesan Youth Day on Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii in Kapolei, Oahu beginning at 9:00 a.m. This year’s theme is ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’ (Phil 4:4). It invites our young people to reflect on the presence of God in their daily lives and renew their faith so that they can share it with others.

"C'mon, kids! Mass in 10 minutes!"
So…the Diocese of Honolulu is seriously trying to pretend that a Mass at a water park – celebrated by the bishop, no less – will help the youth to “grasp ever more deeply the genuine significance of the rites and liturgical texts”?!?!

All righty, then. This quote from the Holy Father is also included in the announcement of the event:

“Joy is at the heart of the Christian experience. At each World Youth Day we experience immense joy, the joy of communion, the joy of being Christian, the joy of faith. This is one of the marks of these gatherings. We can see the great attraction that joy exercises. In a world of sorrow and anxiety, joy is an important witness to the beauty and reliability of the Christian faith.” (Pope Benedict XVI on the 27th World Youth Day, 2012)

A couple of things come to mind: first, perhaps I’m misunderstanding and projecting…but does it strike anyone else that “joy” is being confused with “frivolity” or “fun” in this case? Second, how exactly does spending a fun day at the water park “better equip” the youth for their “witness to Jesus”? And third, are the youth really going to be reflecting on the presence of God in their daily lives at this event?  

I have nothing against the kids (or the adults, for that matter) enjoying a day of fun at a water park, but let’s just call it what it is and not pretend it’s something else. And let’s not mix the sacred with the profane.

At the Catholic high school where I taught religion courses for one year, there was a monthly Mass, usually held in the gym. (The school had a small chapel which could only hold about 40 people, so the gym was the only venue that provided enough room.) The students were required to “dress up”. Occasionally, though, there was an outdoor Mass. In my not so humble opinion – and the opinion of many of the other faculty members – that was always a mistake. The kids sat on the grass in little groups. They chatted, as long as they could get away with it. They chose spots far from the “altar”. They were more interested in each other, the weather, and the end of the minimum school day than they were in the Mass.

Bishop Silva celebrating Mass. I guess they do
things a little differently in Hawaii.
So I’m guessing that the youth attending the Diocesan Youth Day water park Mass will be even less inclined to put their full attention on the liturgy. The event starts at 9am, with the Mass scheduled for 9:45am. I suppose that gives everyone time to arrive in their “dress up” clothes, and then Mass can take place while everyone is still appropriately dressed. Right?

Yeah, right. Come on. Can you picture Mass with these kids all clad in their swimsuits? The bishop has also invited and encouraged priests of the diocese to join in and concelebrate. How awkward for any priest to be administering Holy Communion to a bikini-clad adolescent girl! Sunday Mass at a parish church in the summer months is bad enough; how much worse will it be at a water park?!?

Back to the GIRM:

288. For the celebration of the Eucharist, the People of God are normally gathered together in a church or, if there is no church or if it is too small, then in another respectable place that is nonetheless worthy of so great a mystery...

I think it would be next to impossible to justify a water park as a “respectable place” for celebrating the great mystery of the Eucharist. But…maybe it’s just me?

The GIRM continues:

..Therefore, churches or other places should be suitable for carrying out the sacred action and for ensuring the active participation of the faithful…

I cannot even imagine how a water park can be made into a place suitable for “sacred action”; perhaps I’m lacking in imagination. But even if this is possible, can we even reasonably expect a large group of adolescents who are anticipating a day of fun and frolic in the water to be “actively participating” at this Mass? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

The announcement says:

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at 808-203-6763 or email:

If you feel like sending a respectful message voicing your concern, have at it.

Be sure to visit Unam Sanctam Catholicam for another look at this issue.

Oh…and here’s a promotional video… 

Diocesan Youth Day 2012 from HawaiiCathYYAM on Vimeo.

See also More Liturgical Abuse