Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Necessity of the Church for Salvation

It seems like we're starting to hear more about the issues of heaven and hell, and salvation depending on the Church. 

Even Cardinal Donald Wuerl, in his address at the recently concluded Synod on the New Evangelization, commented on the issue (in Latin, no less!):

The New Evangelization must provide a clear theological explanation for the necessity of the Church for salvation. This is a sensitive aspect of our preaching and too often has been neglected in catechesis. Rampant in much of the revival culture of today is the sentiment that salvation is achieved through a relationship with Jesus apart from the Church. But what needs to be emphasized and demonstrated is that Christ meets man wherever he is, in and through the presence of the Church. (my emphases)
This video from Catholic News Service shares some insights from Ralph Martin, about whom I know very little; apparently he was an "official expert" at the Synod. I can't say that I agree with his sweeping positive statements about Vatican II; still, he makes some good points about how some of what was written about ecumenism resulted in confusion for Catholics concerning the necessity of the Church for salvation. 

Government-Sponsored Child Abduction

All over the world, it seems, governments are trying – and often succeeding – in wresting control of children from their parents.

LifeSiteNews reported on October 25 that in Ireland, a “Children’s Rights Referendum” is likely to pass soon. According to opponents, this constitutional amendment

…is nothing more than a ploy by a power-mad State to grant itself the right to snatch children from parents and seize control over the most fundamental unit of society…

Critics have called the proposed amendment to the Constitution “a beachhead by the state into what has traditionally been the preserve of the rights of parents in the upbringing of their children”. The amendment’s wording allows state agents to remove children from the family and place them in care if they believe it is in the child’s “best interests”

This child was seized by the Swedish government in 2009;
the parents' crime is homeschooling.
If you look at some other European nations, you can see pretty clearly that this kind of legislation really results in parents not being able to be parents unless they agree with the State on whatever issues the State chooses to emphasize.  Germany and Sweden have long been on the warpath against homeschoolers, and it has not been uncommon for governments in those countries to remove children from their parents’ custody for the sole reason that homeschooling is occurring. And the reason they don’t like homeschooling is that homeschooling parents tend to go against the grain of whatever politically correct ideology is in force at the time.  Canada recently tried to prevent homeschooling parents from teaching their children that homosexual behavior is immoral; another Canadian homeschooling family was ordered to put their preschool-age children into state-funded daycare in order to achieve proper “socialization”.

I know there are cases where children are abused and need to be rescued from the parents who are harming them, but this sad situation is a far cry from removing a child from his parents’ custody because they are teaching him that homosexual behavior is wrong.

In general, I think the government’s right to seize children needs to be limited rather than expanded. That outlook comes from my own personal experience with a woman I knew in California whose children had been removed from her custody. The woman was slightly retarded (with an IQ of about 76, she barely was just under the legal IQ limit for “normal”), and there had been an accident where her younger child almost drowned; this was seen as an indication that she could not care for her children and keep them safe.

But the real reason (I believe) Child Protective Services (CPS) wanted to remove her children was that the county social services agencies in that city were providing employment for a lot of people, and they had to keep the industry going. In the course of trying to help this woman, I discovered that low income families seemed to be the prey of the CPS workers. They would be accused of some sort of neglect (not usually abuse), and their children would be removed. Having no money, these parents would have to accept a court-appointed public defender; and I quickly discovered that the “good-ol’-boy” network meant that all the attorneys – whether working for the county or providing counsel for the parents – were in it together. They had a system, a standard way of dealing with each case, and the parents’ attorneys never questioned it: take the kids and place them in foster care; then make the parents (or more often, just the single mother) jump through some hoops, like taking parenting classes, drug-and-alcohol abuse classes, and “anger management” classes. Parents were standardly told just to go along with the game, and they’d have their kids back in no time. Meanwhile, the people running all those programs were kept employed.

In addition, there was one social worker who was determined to find sexual abuse in every case that came her way…and she did not want to be burdened with facts and evidence to the contrary; nor was she past inventing evidence for non-existent sexual abuse.

In my friend’s case, the children were removed and the battle was enjoined. I found an attorney who was not in league with the devil rest of the county-sponsored attorneys who agreed to take the case . We fought the system, and it wasn’t easy. I found myself in court as a witness, and discovered that attorneys don’t ask honest questions – call me na├»ve, but I was really shocked at this.

I also found that parents’ actions toward their children can be construed as negative and even harmful whether or not they actually are. For instance, my friend was criticized for her lack of parenting ability when it was noted that she bought roller skates for her little girl and proceeded to try to teach her to use them on a concrete sidewalk. Ummm…where would you teach your child to roller skate? The CPS worker thought that a grass lawn would be a better option.

And then there was the dirty dishes scenario: “There are dirty dishes in the sink!” said the reports. A number of mothers to whom I mentioned this gasped in horror and said, “Oh my gosh! There are dirty dishes in my sink at home right now!”

Was my retarded friend the ideal mother? No. (Neither am I!) And she had help available to her because of her disability; that’s what finally led to her children being returned to her.

But let me ask all you parents this: How do you think it would affect your relationship with your children to have the removed from your care for over 2 years, with only weekly 2-hour visits allowed? Consider, too, that the children were 2 and 4 years old at the time of removal, and were placed in multiple foster homes over that 2-1/2 year period.

How do you think it affects a child’s view of his parents’ authority to know that a CPS worker can “punish” the parent for “bad parenting”? In my friend’s case, her girls at times would threaten to call CPS if their mother tried to discipline them in any way!

Sometimes people asked me if I didn’t think the girls would be better off if they were permanently removed from their mother’s care and allowed to be adopted by families who were better off financially and intellectually. I suppose such a thing could be argued. On the other hand, God gave that woman those children, and in the best of all worlds, maybe the girls – who tested at normal intelligence – would have grown up and become able to aid and protect their mother in important ways.

Besides, the woman loved her daughters and wanted to care for them and protect them to the best of her ability, and that the girls were clearly emotionally attached to their mother in a secure and healthy way.

Well, I could go on and on. I have file drawers full of notes and court documents from that time, just waiting to be written into a book! There’s so much pain there, though, that I’ve never seriously been able to take on the project.

Back to Ireland’s “Child Rights Referendum”: the LifeSiteNews article notes:

Father John I. Fleming Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Bioethics, Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Adelaide, South Australia Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, wrote a legal analysis of the amendment’s wording…

The current wording, he wrote, gives “explicit recognition of the family as the fundamental group unit of society which preceded the formation of the state”…

…The new wording, however, “represents a dramatic ideological shift” away from these fundamental principles. This shift, he said, is “away from the prior rights of the family, of parents, to bring up their children as they see fit”…

It’s a dangerous trend, though one that has been going on for a long, long time. It just seems like it’s gaining momentum now – especially with the “gay rights” agenda achieving so much power.

The slippery slope gets slippery-er, and the handbasket in which the world is going to hell seems to have become a roller coaster car on the downhill side of the tracks!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hand-wringing Over Handbell Ringing

Look what we have to look forward to at the Cathedral in December! Here’s the announcement from the parish’s on-line bulletin (my emphases):

Handbell recital – on Saturday December 22, a great Christmas Handbell recital will be held in the Cathedral at 1 PM. You don’t want to miss this recital which will leave you fascinated at the dexterity and artistry of Phyllis Tincher, handbell soloist, who will perform a collection of Christmas hymns, carols and melodies. You may have seen handbell choirs with a few people ringing bells, but this is a one-person performance, which you have to see it to believe it, handling 16 or more bells at the same time.
[Ummm…I think I would call that a juggling act!]

She will be accompanied by pianist Sean Rogers, who has been her accompanist for the past few years. … They have a few CDs of their music, which will be for sale at the recital on December 22. For more information, please visit their website at ww.ringpraiseministry.org. I’ll give you more information as the date approaches, but please reserve the date. With the beauty of the Cathedral at Christmas time, especially with the Christmas decorations, this promises to be a much anticipated Christmas concert.

Umm…What am I missing here? The date of the recital is set for December 22; the next day is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. So that makes me wonder: What "Christmas decorations"??!? We’re not supposed to have Christmas decorations before, well, Christmas!

There are few other problems with this whole scenario. First of all, the intention is obviously to hold the recital in the Cathedral. And given that a handbell concert is not just an auditory treat, but also a visual one that involves the showmanship of the bell ringer with her gloved hands and graceful movements, it’s a pretty sure bet they won’t have her perform from the choir loft. No, I’m pretty sure she’ll be in the sanctuary, in front of the altar, so that everyone can see her.

Why do we act like the sanctuary is a stage?! Sigh.

And then there’s the music itself. A document, "Concerts in Churches", published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments in November 1987 (Protocol No. 1251/87) addresses these issues. Here are a few excerpts:

The principle that the use of the church must not offend the sacredness of the place determines the criteria by which the doors of a church may be opened to a concert of sacred or religious music, as also the concomitant exclusion of every other type of music. The most beautiful symphonic music, for example, is not in itself of religious character. The definition of sacred or religious music depends explicitly on the original intended use of the musical pieces or songs, and likewise on their content. It is not legitimate to provide for the execution in the church of music which is not of religious inspiration and which was composed with a view to performance in a certain precise secular context, irrespective of whether the music would be judged classical or contemporary, of high quality or of a popular nature. On the one hand, such performances would not respect the sacred character of the church, and on the other, would result in the music being performed in an unfitting context ….

e. The musicians and the singers should not be placed in the sanctuary. The greatest respect is to be shown to the altar, the president's chair and the ambo.

[There will also be a symphony orchestra concert in the Cathedral in November – it’s become an annual event. The orchestra is always seated in the sanctuary.]

f. The Blessed Sacrament should be, as far as possible, reserved in a side chapel or in another safe and suitably adorned place (Cf. C.I.C., can 928, par. 4). [This is not usually an issue at the Cathedral, thanks be to God!]

g. The concert should be presented or introduced not only with historical or technical details, but also in a way that fosters a deeper understanding and an interior participation on the part of the listeners.

Let’s see…what music will the handbell ringer play? I’m guessing it will be some “hits” from her Christmas CD, such as: 

  • I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Parade of the Tin Soldiers
Yeah…sacred music...religious character…original intended use of the songs…interior participation…uh huh. Not.

Here’s another issue: the performers are Protestants. They see these recitals as their ministry. The mission statement on their website says:

 The mission of Ring Praise Music Ministry is to tell the saving story of Jesus Christ through music, scripture and hymn history.

Okay, that doesn’t sound too bad. But “Ring Praise” is not a Catholic ministry. Why are we having Protestants come in to give a concert in a Catholic church…a Cathedral, no less?! Are they going to have an “altar call”? Will people be invited to come forward to accept Jesus into their hearts? Why are Protestants being allowed to conduct a Protestant ministry in a Catholic cathedral?!?

I have a great suggestion: hold the handbell recital in the parish hall!

There’s a stage there – people will be able to see the performance just fine! People can even have refreshments during the performance! No rules will be broken concerning concerts in churches; the Catholic identity of the Cathedral will be preserved; the sanctuary will be saved from sacrilege; and concert-goers will possibly remember that it’s still Advent, and that the Christmas season has yet to begin.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

No matter how much I wring my hands.

Who's On Unemployment: Abbott and Costello

I saw the script below on Face Book – a little take-off on Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s On First?” skit. (I also found it here; apparently the author is anonymous.) I’m including the original skit for your enjoyment; I laugh every time I hear it!

And now...Abbott and Costello explain the unemployment rate:

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America .
ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It’s 9%.
COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?
ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.
COSTELLO: You just said 9%.
ABBOTT: 9% Unemployed.
COSTELLO: Right 9% out of work.
ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.
COSTELLO: Okay, so it’s 16% unemployed.
ABBOTT: No, that’s 9%…
COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 9% or 16%?
ABBOTT: 9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.
COSTELLO: IF you are out of work you are unemployed.
ABBOTT: No, Obama said you can’t count the “Out of Work” as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, you miss his point.
COSTELLO: What point?
ABBOTT: Someone who doesn’t look for work, can’t be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn’t be fair.

COSTELLO: To whom?
ABBOTT: The unemployed.
COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.
ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work gave up looking, and if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you’re off the unemployment roles, that would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!
COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?
ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how Obama gets it to 9%. Otherwise it would be 16%. He doesn’t want you to read about 16% unemployment.

COSTELLO: That would be tough on his re-election…
ABBOTT: Absolutely.
COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.
COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?
ABBOTT: Correct.
COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?
ABBOTT: Bingo.
COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to have Obama’s supporters stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like the Obama Economy Czar.
COSTELLO: I don’t even know what the hell I just said!
ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like Obama.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Forbidden Grief of Abortion: Fr. Andersen Homily

A homily by Fr. Eric M. Andersen, Sacred Heart-St. Louis in Gervais, Oregon, for Sunday, October 28th, 2012 (my emphases)

Dominica XXX Per Annum, Anno B

In 1972, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas ruled the following in the famous Sierra Club vs. Morton case: “Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in litigation. A ship has a legal personality…The ordinary corporation is a "person" for purposes of the adjudicatory processes…So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even air…The voice of the inanimate object, therefore, should not be stilled” (Sierra Club vs. Morton). Douglas “asserted that natural resources ought to have standing to sue for their own protection” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Club_v._Morton. Oct 25, 2012). He said “the problem is to make certain that the inanimate objects…have spokesmen before they are destroyed.” Eight months later, the very same justice ruled with the majority in Roe vs. Wade that “the word person does not include the unborn.” So an inanimate object is a person, according to the government, but a child in the womb is not a person, according to the government. That is precisely what it means to be blind.

Details here.
So if that baby in the womb is destroyed by abortion, what happens to the woman or man who grieves this loss? They experience something called “forbidden grief.” If you are suffering from forbidden grief, then you will find that nobody wants to talk to you about it. Nobody will give you any sympathy. Nobody will even acknowledge that there could possibly be a reason to grieve such a thing. Therefore, it should not be discussed. Period. End of conversation. 

And so, the one who is suffering deeply from forbidden grief finds herself alone, despairing, thinking that maybe she is crazy, possibly even considering suicide. She cries out in her soul, “Who will save me?” But at the same time, this person believes the lie that she has no right to grieve such a thing because she has been told that there is nothing to grieve. How can one grieve over something that was not even a person? Their experience of grief is sometimes dismissed by doctors, women’s rights groups, and unfortunately even by some clergy. How can one heal if she is told that there is nothing to heal from? We need to validate that grief. Those who suffer this grief go from parish to parish, from priest to priest, just looking to find someone who will say the word and acknowledge that this “forbidden grief” even exists. Because if it really does exist, then the women who suffer from this forbidden grief are not crazy like others tell them they are. If this “forbidden grief” exists and can be talked about then maybe a loving God really does exist. “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you” (Mk 10:49).

If you are hurting because of abortion, you are not alone. If you have hurt another person through abortion, you are not alone. I do not condemn you. I give you permission to grieve. If you are grieving, you are not crazy. You have a reason to grieve. I give you permission to talk about it. We do need to talk about this. Women regret their abortions. Men suffer from abortion too.

Details here.
When a woman or a man is able to identify and talk about this forbidden grief then the work of healing can begin. The “process of repair begins by recognizing that the hurt you are feeling, sometimes for years, is real. You are not overreacting. You are not exaggerating. You are not silly or crazy or weak or hysterical if you feel deep in your soul that something terribly wrong happened” to you when your abortion occurred (Jennifer O’Neill, You’re Not Alone).

Abortion is devastating to both women and men who are involved in it. Women who have had abortions, even multiple ones, need their grief validated. They need someone to listen and to acknowledge that their grief is real and that the children in their wombs were really children and not just pieces of tissue or clumps of cells.

When we experience loss, we grieve. Our Lord said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Can we not say, “Blessed are those who grieve, for they shall be comforted?” What happens when we do not allow ourselves to grieve? We may push God away. When that happens, we often fall into habits of sin that compound the grief and heap shame on top of it. Shame hides in the darkness. It is secret; it is hidden and makes us want to hide. As long as shame is kept hidden and secret, it continues to grow. The devil will lie to us and tell us that we will be sorry if we tell. But not telling keeps us in bondage. Getting out of bondage and deception means breaking the secret (cf. Anfuso, Shame, 11-12).

We break the secret by talking about it and allowing ourselves to feel the grief. We might feel forbidden to talk about it, or even to feel any emotions over our grief, because it is attached to sin. But as soon as we begin to talk and feel, our healing begins (cf. Anfuso, 20-21). We break the secret by confessing our sins to God. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” Then we have to praise God. Praise God and give Him thanks for all that He has given you. The more we give thanks to God for what He has done, the less prone we are to worry about what He has not yet done. There is something healing about praise and thanksgiving that lifts us out of the muck and mire of shame (cf. Anfuso, 32). God gives us that healing as a free gift of love. We do not need to be worthy. God gives it to us because He loves us. Nobody is worthy. But God need only say the word, and our souls shall be healed. He says to us in the sacrament of Penance, “I absolve you.” He says to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist, “This is my Body.” By these words, we are healed.

But we also need the help of others. There is nothing so painful as to suffer alone. A few years ago, a group of women decided to come together and tell their stories about how they had been hurt by their abortions. They formed the Silent-No-More awareness campaign. They gathered to tell their stories and to publicly say that they regretted their abortions. Many of these women have experienced healing through Project Rachel and the Rachel’s Vineyard retreats that are sponsored by Catholic Charities. On Thursday evening, I spoke at a Silent No More event at St. Mary’s in Eugene. Two courageous women and two courageous men got up to tell the stories of how abortion had devastated them. The room was filled with love from all who were there to support them, and the love of God who had tenderly reached down and changed their lives, turning them around and giving them His healing and grace.
Several years ago, as a seminarian, I attended my first Rachel’s Vineyard retreat and later became a team member. What amazed me so much was that the women who entered the retreat on Friday afternoon, the ones who were living under a cloud of darkness and gloom, were transformed by Saturday night. They were different people. They could smile and laugh and they felt loved and forgiven. They reconciled with God, and even reconciled with their children whom they had lost; naming those children and even writing them letters. By Sunday, as we all departed to go back to our everyday lives, these women and men had a new outlook and they had tools to help them to start over again. They knew that they were beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. They knew that Jesus Christ had died for them and that He offered them the grace of the Sacraments to begin to heal from their grief that was no longer forbidden.

What about us? As Catholics, we are pro-life. There is no choice about that issue. And being pro-life means embracing those who grieve over abortion with friendship and forgiveness and God’s love. We must stand up to speak out and protect those who are most innocent: children in the womb. We must stand with those who have been wounded by forbidden grief and speak out with our votes. Let us stand together for a culture of life. Let us stand with those who grieve over abortion. God can and does heal the wound of abortion, but it is not easy and it does not happen overnight. It takes time but there is hope and abundant mercy from God through Jesus Christ. 

For more homilies by Fr. Andersen, click on the tab at the top of the page.

Another "First Time" Parody

OMG! If you have not seen the original ad, you can see it here with another parody and my commentary.

This one is GREAT! And hits the nail on the head. H/T to Adrienne at Adrienne's Corner.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sex, Contraception, and the War on Women

You know, of course, that our society is obsessed with sex. And the liberal progressive types seem to be obsessed with the notion that there's some sort of "war on women" waged by those who think women should be respected outside of their role as sex object - you know, those conservative Republican types who don't think the government should pay for birth control.

What the libs seem not to see is that their efforts at promoting women's "right" to "birth control"  is very, very demeaning. Have you seen this outrageous video - which is an Obama campaign ad? 

It's laughable...but so sad. I never heard of this girl...er...woman before, but apparently she is "famous". According to Wikipedia, "Her father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter of 'overtly sexualized pop art', and her mother, Laurie Simmons, is a photographer and designer who creates 'disquieting domestic tableaux' with dolls." All righty, then.

On Face Book, I saw this little gem, which derides the ad and uses the focus on sex to make its point:

And then there was this, which made me laugh out loud!

Using a male to parody the female role in the ad really points up the demeaning aspects of the whole thing. The libs want women to be equal to - the same as - men. But they portray women as silly but cute girls with very little in the way of intellectual gifts. When you put a man in the same role, the idiocy is quite apparent. If men and women are "the same", why does this guy seem so ridiculous?

The culture that wants sex sex sex sex falls right back into stereotypes of "attractiveness" to make their point...which means that they don't really make their point at all. But, being rather immune to the rigors of logic, they don't notice.

Here's one last example of the same thing. It's the "letter to Melinda Gates" that was produced by 1Flesh.org. Although that organization does not promote artificial contraception (they promote NFP instead), the emphasis is still on sex (their mission statement says something about wanting everyone to have the best sex in the universe). But the girl in the video seems silly and immature, even when she gives up the girly act and tries to sound like a mature adult. Do these people realize that they simply reincarnated Goldie Hawn's "dumb blonde" act from the old "Laugh-In" series?


Just sayin'.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Just sayin'.

Liturgical Pain, Cries of Woe, and the SSPX

 I think this statement from ChurchMilitant.TV is instructive, and something we might all consider and adhere to. It was left as a comment by Terry Carroll, Executive Producer of CMTV, on a previous post.

The position of ChurchMilitant.TV concerning the SSPX is that of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, as expressed in his motu proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem, issued July 2, 2009:

 "In the same spirit and with the same commitment to encouraging the resolution of all fractures and divisions in the Church and to healing a wound in the ecclesial fabric that was more and more painfully felt, I wished to remit the excommunication of the four Bishops illicitly ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre. With this decision I intended to remove an impediment that might have jeopardized the opening of a door to dialogue and thereby to invite the Bishops and the "Society of St Pius X" to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church. As I explained in my Letter to the Catholic Bishops (http://bit.ly/uuQYU3) of last 10 March, the remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the context of ecclesiastical discipline to free the individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. However, the doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry."

There are two important points here: 

1) The SSPX are not in full communion with the Church and are invited by the Church to rediscover this path.

2) The SSPX has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.

We are well aware of ongoing dialog between the SSPX and Rome. It is to be fervently hoped that these dialogs result in a return of the SSPX to full communion with the Church, granting their bishops and clergy canonical status and the authority to exercise ministry. Until such time as this occurs, our judgment must remain that of the Holy Father.

Terry Carroll
Executive Producer


Mr. Carroll added this comment on “Feel the Pain”; I think he makes many good points (my emphases):

I could not be more sympathetic to the SSPX as a temptation for those suffering through the  insults to Our Lord at so many Novus Ordo Masses. But it is terribly easy to rationalize one's participation on a regular basis as if we were recusants during the period of the English Reformation. The Church Herself has not declared a "state of emergency" and it is hubris to assume that WE can.
SSPX priests are validly ordained, their Masses are valid, but they are in all cases acts of disobedience to the Church. SSPX priests do not have faculties to hear confessions. I, personally, do not wish to "gamble" on "Deus supplet" on a matter so urgent. I, personally, experience even MORE pain at the idea that a priest of God offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in persona Christi disobediently than I do at the worst excuses for Mass that I have experienced in Novus Ordo settings.

Suffer through Novus Ordo Masses, even refrain from receiving Holy Communion, rather than rationalize your participation in a Mass that quite likely is even more insulting to God than the Masses you now endure. The cry of Satan was "Non serviam," the penultimate act of disobedience. It is conceivable that SSPX Masses are as offensive to God as Black Masses. God is not mocked, and God does not bless disobedience. Stay with the Church and, in the best traditional sense, "offer it up" as an act of redemptive suffering within the divine chastisement that we all so painfully experience.

The SSPX are not formally in schism. But the consecration of bishops was declared by Pope John Paul II as "schismatic." This is just a case of hearing "quacks" before definitively concluding that it's a duck. SUFFER through the Novus Ordo Mass and fulfill your obligation to keep holy the Lord's day. Don't pamper your spiritual needs with rationalized disobedience. Pray that the SSPX responds to grace and enters into communion with the Church. This is what the Holy Father asks. As faithful Catholics, THIS is what we should be doing, not reinforcing disobedience.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Feel the Pain

In the comment section of “Squelching Latin in the Mass”, some of us got to commiserating about the state of liturgical affairs in our various parishes and in the Church as a whole.

Now, we all know that things can be really, really, really bad – like clown Masses and beer tent Masses, and bishops high-fiving each other and holding balloons at Mass – or they can be “sorta-kinda bad”, with bad homilies, adlibbing of prayers, lay ministers in shorts and flip-flops, etc… and all gradations in between. Sadly, we hear few reports about parishes that have liturgies where the rubrics are faithfully followed, and where there is liturgically correct music as well!

Those who desire truly reverent and correct liturgical worship do experience pain at Masses that fall short in the rubrics department. And many have found that the Masses that don’t fall short are the ones offered in the extraordinary form, AKA the Traditional Latin Mass.  Funny how that works.

Here are a few comments from the post mentioned above:

The final straw in my parish church occurred on Sunday. I have been hanging on by a frayed string for some time now there, but Sunday's "homily" on the sin of "individualism", building the Reign of God on earth, and the priesthood of the people did me in. It is often a straw that breaks the camel's back. But [it was] the conversation between the priest and an EM in front of the open tabernacle that caused me the most pain. As an afterthought, the priest made a reluctant bow, and the EM thought to imitate him and do the same as they hurried away.

As I think I already mentioned here, I am a former sedevacantist/SSPX chapel goer.  
That is where I am on the brink of returning - to my sedevacantist chapel.
Our diocese is bad….

…I have been advised to sit home, but I cannot do that. I just want a place where I have my faith and a reverent Mass.

Another commenter lamented:

I am struggling right now. I have people telling me I need to go to the NO Mass…but I can hardly stand to be there after 3 years of the diocesan TLM only. This difference is wearing on me and the children.

Lately, I began going to the local SSPX chapel for First Fridays only and have found such an oasis there that I want to keep going back…

I often wonder why it is that the people who just want a liturgy that’s celebrated according to the rubrics and according to the various documents of the Church – even the Vatican II documents! – are ignored, at best; and at worst they are ostracized, ridiculed, and otherwise brow-beaten. The minute a pastor makes a change in the liturgically correct direction, a handful of “progressive” voices protest and say they’ll leave the parish if they don’t get their way. And the pastor waffles. Why is that?!

Whatever the reason, that’s the way it is. Of course, we should still respectfully make known our desire for a properly celebrated Mass – it’s our right to have a decent liturgy, and it’s even a duty to bring to pastors’ attention the abuses we observe. However, I suspect we will have to endure bad liturgy for some years to come.

Yet another commenter on the “Squelching Latin” post mentioned and provided a link to an article by Fr. John Hardon entitled How to Cope with Abuses in the Eucharistic Liturgy (thank you, CK!). I’ll give you a few excerpts here with a few comments interspersed (my emphases  throughout), but I recommend reading the entire article at the link.

Fr. Hardon notes from the outset that “[f]rom the very beginning of the Church’s existence Catholics have been obliged to assist at Mass every Sunday and at…Days of Obligation”, and that Catholics are well aware of this.

Catholics commonly recognize the seriousness of their duty. As a result, their conscience tells them to participate in the Holy Sacrifice… This same conscience is now being tested in not a few cases to the breaking point because of the widespread liturgical abuses going on throughout the United States as well as other countries in the Western world.

Basically our question is, how does a Catholic satisfy this grave duty of assisting at Mass…on Sundays and days of Obligation where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered in ways that are frequently, very often nothing less than scandalous to the faithful?

Fr. Hardon gives us an example of a hypothetical parish

…[L]et us suppose we are members of Ethel Rita Parish, located in the town of Middleburg. Our pastor and the only priest of the parish is Fr. Filbert Imbecilius who introduced altar girls many years ago. He refuses to distribute Holy Communion to anyone kneeling. Either you are standing for Holy Communion or he will pass you by.

Fr. Filbert regularly omits the Gloria and substitutes what he calls the “Prayer of Belief.” He never says the Nicene Creed. He changes the wording of both the Sacramentary and the Lectionary to eliminate every even suggestion of sexist language. He uses strange looking and even stranger tasting altar bread. Regularly he refers to God as Father, Mother or pronouns He or She. He insists that everyone stand for the whole Eucharistic Prayer. He regularly changes the words of the Mass including the words of consecration to suit his own fancy. He hardly ever celebrates Mass without a crowd what he calls facilitators. Most of whom are well known as zealous feminists who join their hands around the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer.

Fr. Hardon goes on in a way that would be humorous, were it not so true! And he notes too, that in this hypothetical parish:

Countless letters, letters of complaint have been sent to the Bishop of the diocese. Every letter has gone unanswered, and there is no reason to expect that the Bishop will make any effort to change the abuses in this parish. In fact, the only occasion when the Bishop made any public statement on the subject of the liturgy was when he rejected a petition to allow the celebration of the Tridentine Mass in his diocese. Said the Bishop, “There is no need to return to the past.” and the petitioners were labeled, “Liturgical Reactionaries” by his Holy Excellency.

Sound familiar?! Then Fr. Hardon addresses the problem of the distance one must travel to attend a Mass “celebrated with some regard for the lawful norms” – again addressing a concern many of us face. He also addresses the remedy some have found:

A few years ago some members of St. Ethel Rita became so disgusted that they formed a private liturgical association, and now hold meetings every other Sunday in an old Protestant church building which they have purchased and converted into a small parish. These meetings are followed by a Tridentine Mass celebrated of course without the permission of the Bishop of Middleburg.

Fr. Hardon also addresses the canonical considerations involved in attending an SSPX Mass. He notes:

In my judgment, Catholics do fulfill their duty of assisting at Sunday Mass by attending in the Holy Sacrifice a church affiliated with those who are members with a schismatic group like the Lefebvres. But then I also must add the Catholics be sure that those seeing them attending these schismatic Masses are not scandalized into thinking that professed Roman Catholics have given up their fidelity to the Bishop of Rome.

Unfortunately, many do assume that anyone who attends an SSPX Mass no longer maintains “fidelity to the Bishop of Rome”. Perhaps they can be educated!

In order to cope with the abuses of the liturgy, Fr. Hardon suggests that the faithful must increase their understanding of the Eucharist, noting that there has been an unfortunate abundance of wrong theology about the Eucharist, with

…books [that] teach widely …that the Eucharist is essentially the gathering of the faithful

They will tell you a priest saying Mass alone is not offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice. What we are calling liturgical abuses are only symptoms of deep doctrinal errors that have penetrated once Catholic circles and are causing untold damage to the faith, and I mean it, of millions!

…So many people nowadays are speaking about Eucharistic celebration. So few are ever talking about the Sacrifice of the Mass… [T]here is no substitute for understanding the Holy Eucharist as the Sacrifice of the Mass which is, we believe, a representation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.

…The main reason for the loss of millions of once believing Catholics is they have not understood what they have believed. Either you understand the meaning of the Holy Eucharist or today’s world you will cease to remain a Catholic.

Fr. Hardon also suggests that it is extremely important to

…keep up to date [with] the Church’s directives on how the Holy Eucharist is to be celebrated, worshipped and received. And hear it, the final arbiter on the Holy Eucharist is not, is not, the Bishop of the diocese. It is the Bishop of Rome.

Fr. Hardon’s third means of coping with liturgical abuse is “prudential courage”. He says:

We must be courageous, and I mean courageous in professing our faith in Jesus Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament and offering Himself in the Sacrifice of the Mass in today’s world and what I am saying refers not only to the laity but also and with painful emphasis to priests.

…The Catholic Church will survive only where there are still bishops, priests, and the laity who have the supernatural, even heroic, fortitude to live up to what they know the Vicar of Christ expects of those who call themselves Catholics.

There is much more to this article, so please go and read it! And keep in mind this prayer Fr. Hardon offers at the end of the conference:

Lord Jesus, we beg you to give us the strength to not just believe internally in your Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Give us the strength to profess our faith, especially in the company of people who have accepted widespread Eucharistic liturgical abuses and consider us out of touch with the times.

Mary our Mother, ask your Son to make us strong in following Him really present in the Blessed Sacrament even if this would cost us our lives. Amen.