Monday, March 15, 2021

The religious answer

The religious answer for me wasn't neatly in a box and gift-wrapped. I had to figure out how to put together everything good I learned from several churches and use it as a Catholic. Many of the Romans I knew weren't much help, to be blunt. To be fair, something bigger than us all wrecked their community 50 years ago. Not their fault. Part of the answer for me was as simple as going to the Orthodox for Saturday Vespers and to the Catholics for Sunday Divine Liturgy. I love and support the traditional Latin Mass community, literally as I buy my coffee from them. Spent four years in it full-time last decade, most Sundays. I've worked for the SSPX and would do so again. Their integralism is the true seamless garment, a complete Catholic worldview. Yet the emphases in my religion and even the words of the psalms I read are directly from my Anglican roots. It's not at all about the Pope's person. Gospel, creed, authority, liturgy, and sacrament, not devotional sideshows and racy clerical political gossip. Newman, not Manning.

I'm Catholic because of contraception, remarriage after divorce without annulment, and anti-Westernism. I couldn't buy the Orthodox on those - play at being a super-strict Christian by denying your non-Orthodox baptism and making a show of fasting while joining the secular world on contraception - but am fine being Orthodox otherwise. And regarding my Anglican roots and women's ordination, nothing personal against them but nothing gets between me and the larger church and its sacraments. Nothing.

What most Catholics who even know about the Orthodox know and think, a bit condescendingly: pretty Mass, icons, and valid sacraments, but not under the Pope because they're mad at Catholics for saying the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and Son.

Anyway, even though God didn't become man, suffer, and die for niceness's and middle-class decorum's sake, "getting along," "be excellent to each other."

Why don't Byzantine Catholics just become Orthodox?

Why don't Byzantine Catholics just become Orthodox? Like me, professor Anthony Dragani understands the desire to be "the real thing" so he rhetorically asks.

Devout born members of either church almost never switch now. This question is for Western walk-ons, "graecophile transritualists," like him, me, and the late Metropolitan Andrew (Sheptytsky), whom I think should be our patron saint.

The answer: contraception, remarriage after divorce without annulment, and anti-Westernism. In short, I won't deny my non-Orthodox baptism and put on a show of fasting while signing onto contraception and remarriage after divorce without annulment. That's playing at being a super-strict Christian while joining the secular world. And I won't say that the Latin Mass, etc. has been a mistake or fraud the past 1,000 years. The Catholic Church doesn't make you hate one rite to love another. Other than all that I'm happy being effectively Orthodox, sharing a rite, the Slavonic language, and the first seven Catholic councils with them. I'm not trying to "Uniatize" the Orthodox by individually converting, splitting, or replacing them, and latinization is right out. Those who have known me online for more than 20 years know it's taken me a long time to find peace with all this. The answer didn't come to me neatly in a box. I go to the Orthodox for Vespers and to the Catholics for Liturgy and Communion. Born Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt and I have four post-schism Orthodox saints' icons on my wall. Note my reasons are nothing to do with the textbook history about the Pope or the filioque.

Tracking the edits to the book The Orthodox Church by Kallistos (Ware), the best Orthodox instructional book, on contraception it seems the church that never changes has done, just like Protestants and at about the same pace. I asked the late Peter Gillquist, nice man, to his face about the issue and he changed the subject.

P.S. Real Western Rite Orthodoxy would be Benedictine monks in bare even iconless stone churches chanting Solemn Mass and Solemn Vespers in Latin, and priests and others doing charitable works such as schools, hospitals, and a safety net for the poor, among a generations-old community, not little groups of byzantinizing converts.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Orthodox ups and downs

  • From 2014, a story repeated in many old American industrial towns and among Greek Catholics: Faces of faith, the rise and fall of an Orthodox parish. Like so many churches, we have lost almost a whole generation of parishioners who moved out of the area or unfortunately no longer follow the faith their parents gave them. We no longer celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 though that hasn't brought people back.
  • From 2013: the history of Orthodox U.S. military chaplains.
  • Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick: 16 realistic observations about Orthodoxy online. "Way more popular and visible topics on the Internet than in 3D space." Yep, the Greek Catholic churches are tiny and not perfect.

Monday, March 08, 2021 rewrites your posts if it doesn't like them

I first posted at's Byzantine Forum back in 2001 incognito on my road back to the church, looking for someplace to express my actual faith without retribution and thinking from the name that it backed the teachings of the church. (There is a disclaimer stating it doesn’t so it’s covered now.)

Then an Orthodox member exposed me and I didn’t have the guts to return to the church yet, so I thought I had to play along with the Orthodox line. Like blackmail really.

Now? In the Facebook age it’s on its last legs; a handful of regulars, almost all at least nominal Catholics.

So I posted this and this and got this and this back from a moderator, a Catholic liberal who’s swallowed Zoghby and Koehl. (Zoghbyism/Koehlism: Both and neither the Catholics and the Orthodox are the true church; let’s dump half our teachings.)

I got thrown into moderation. Annoying but okay.

Somebody posted about a health problem and another chap shared about his heart failure. (Yikes!) So I mentioned having pneumonia a month before and the consolation of going to confession and Communion, and of making final plans and finding someone to act on them, even at the last minute. Outrageous stuff, I know.

A moderator wiped my words and posted his own under my name. It doesn’t matter what he said. It wasn’t my post anymore.

Aaaaand I was banned.

Board owners and moderators have the right to ban you. (I don’t think the owner/admin did it.) Nobody has the right to do what this person did.

Even Facebook isn’t this bad.

In 26 years online I’ve only encountered this three times, twice on poorly configured boards in which a troublemaker created fictitious accounts and posted in someone else's name.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Quick picks: my three daily dissident-right reads

Christianity, Catholicism, teaches universal brotherhood, not race - a soul is a soul. It also criticizes capitalism; otherwise that system's selfish and cruel. Also, to minister to all, clergy should keep out of partisan politics, even forfeiting their votes. Liberalism, wokeness, is bastard Christianity; Christian ethics without Christ. That's why it came from and has caught on in Christian countries. Wokeness is a religion.

For every other home truth, there's the dissident right.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

My messy religion

My answer after many years, and being in a few churches, is "messy." It didn't come all in one neat package.

In practice I'm a Byzantine Catholic. Liturgically and devotionally I do almost exactly what the Russian Orthodox do. Another good option is the traditional Latin Mass a strong minority of Catholics, mostly young, are reviving.

But when it comes to teaching, to doctrine, Catholicism is the gold standard. I don't mean private revelation like Lourdes and Fatima. Even when approved it's not required belief and I'm not interested. Bare-bones doctrine. Disprove Catholicism, and Christianity collapses like a house of cards.

All of the churches used to agree with Catholicism on contraception. Orthodox theology on remarriage after divorce doesn't make sense: the first marriage is indissoluble but adulterous second marriages are allowed for pastoral reasons. And as much as I love Orthodoxy and Russian politics and culture, I can't buy the anti-Westernism, that your baptism is no good because you don't come from their culture. That's bigotry and idolatry.

That said, I agree that Catholic culture, such as it is now, what's left of it, is mediocre and effeminate. My tie for second choice of religion, Buddhism and Germanic neo-paganism, has more appeal.

My country, the United States, founded by English Protestants, used to have a big white-ethnic (Irish etc.) immigrant Catholic minority, a community with its own subculture and a powerful voting bloc because it had a unique worldview. One of my sayings: Catholic ghetto is Christian community that liberals don't like.

There hasn't been an important Catholic community in America for over 50 years. It self-destructed in the 1960s: the Second Vatican Council. American Protestants got their wish.

I needed and wanted a tribe, a family, a culture. I came into Catholicism wanting that wonderful community I saw in the movies. It no longer exists.

The only Christianity that really matters in America is evangelicalism, some of whom are our red-pill allies. Most Catholics aren't. Witness the dumpster fire who is Pope Francis.

I was an Episcopalian to begin with. This influences my religion. Scripture and early church councils, not devotions. Classic "thou" religious English; I also know Latin and Slavonic well enough to serve in church. Good old-fashioned services, not sissy ones with guitars.

As much as I don't like Vatican II, it had a point like the best Protestants. Don't play games with religion and act more Christian, understanding the real meaning behind practices rather than going through the motions. Religious practices are learning aids, not the learning. When you think they are the learning, that's superstition.

Finally, I am not trying to pick off individually, split or replace the Orthodox. You are the gold standard of the Byzantine Rite I've adopted - we're not perfect but that's actually part of God's plan, and I worship with you for Vespers or Vigil a few times a year as Communion prep and to stay in touch.

P.S. Never mind the ecumenical happy talk. The Catholic and Orthodox churches have to interact because of inevitable mixed marriages in the West but really want nothing to do with each other.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Me, trashing Catholic traditionalists? Clearing the air about Harry and Beverly Stevens

Sometimes I've been accused of bashing Catholic traditionalists. Strange since I believe all Catholic doctrine and love the traditional Latin Mass (TLM) and the traditional office. I don't go to modern services.

While I'm here... clearing the air about Harry and Beverly Stevens of Regina Magazine and, pre-covid-19 anyway, European tours.

Nearly two years ago I made a mistake going too far criticizing a traditionalist. Let's call her Nia. Someone on Facebook asked if he could have the TLM minus the L - the traditional Mass in the vernacular. Nia kept saying "go to the ordinariate." The ordinariate is wonderful but not the TLM - it resembles the TLM but isn't. The text is based on the thou-and-thee traditional Episcopalian Communion service, a version the church approved. I thought her answer was offensive, dismissing the person asking.

It's like this. It's 1984. Pope John Paul the Overrated has just begrudgingly issued a strict indult allowing occasional TLMs. You had to beg your bishop for one until Benedict the Great's Summorum Pontificum in 2007. Anyway, this is what it was like:
"Please, Bishop, may we have the TLM?"
"No. The cathedral has Mass in Latin."
"But that's not the same - "
"The cathedral has Mass in Latin."
"It's a different service - "
"The cathedral has Mass in Latin."
"It's not really about Lat -"
"I SAID the cathedral has Mass in Latin. Good day."
Not being listened to. Dismissive.

So without naming Nia I carried my frustration over to the Stevenses' private conservative Catholic FB page. Unknown to me, Nia was there too and complained. After a short while I realized I made a mistake dragging this argument over to that page, and after failing to reconcile, blocked her just to keep the peace and not hurt/upset her further.

Some time passes. Another post is about Pope Francis supposedly not kneeling enough or not kneeling at the right times during services. I commented with something mild like "let's not be judgy trads; this is an 80-year-old so give him a break."

I get a Messenger text from Mr. Stevens: "Knock off trashing traditionalists."

I've been on this earth over five decades; you don't talk to me that way.

Trashing traditionalists? I sort of am one!

I'd forgotten about Nia, thinking the matter was long resolved. I thought Stevens was rude so - and this is understating it - I blew up at him.

20/20 hindsight. Now I get it.

I'm sorry and let's save the fighting for going after the real bad guys.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

A summary of the faith

Catalonian Chapel, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

"God so loved the world..."

A thumbnail of the full Christian faith, the Catholic faith: God, Christ, Trinity, hypostatic union (Christ, true God and true man), Mother of God, communion of saints, intermediate state for some of the dead, infallible church, bishops, Mass, sacraments that do what they signify, baptismal regeneration, auricular confession, and the right, not a requirement, to use images in worship (all can, some should, none must).

The flashpoint of all orthodoxy vs. all sin is where God and his creation in the flesh meet: the fallen angels vs. humanity, who Jesus is, the Eucharist, and sex. Iconoclasm falls under this. (It's related to who Jesus is. You don't have to use images but can't condemn them.)

With only the Vincentian canon or the first seven church councils you pretty much get Catholicism. How about that?

Liberals admit that early on you end up with it, but say it was a human process, not an infallible church.

Every ancient church, even the heretics, thought only they were the true Catholics.

Today, according to Catholicism, you have what I call the great Catholic family of valid orders, of real bishops and real Masses, our corrected branch theory. Valid orders: basic credal orthodoxy (the Nestorians pass!), unbroken apostolic succession, and unbroken true teaching about the Eucharist (sorry, Anglicans; Reformed doesn't pass - we take your framers at their word).

That leaves you with these contenders: Rome, the biggest communion, Catholic splinters such as the Old Catholics and their American offshoot, the Polish National Catholics, and all the separated Eastern churches (not "the Eastern Church": there's more than one and they long didn't recognize each other): the Orthodox (the second biggest communion), the Monophysites/Miaphysites, and the Assyrians/Nestorians.

Let's clarify the thumbnail by adding some negatives: no adulterous second marriages (without annulments) and no contraception. Related to sex, part of the flashpoint of all rebellion against God.

Who's been faithful to this?

Who's not limited to one rite or set of cultures?

Who has fulfilled Jesus' Great Commission to teach all nations?

"On this rock I will build my church." Not the man (he can be a private heretic or unbeliever); the Pope's office as part of the episcopate and part of the church's infallibility, explaining our teachings.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Why have a Pope?

So if Catholic teachings are what matter and not so much the papacy, so much so that it doesn't matter if the see is vacant or there's an antipope, why bother having a Pope? It's about the office, not the man. Why's his office an indispensable part of the church's machinery?

Only our teachings make sense. There is nowhere else to go.

Exhibit A: the Old Catholics. A rump sect in Europe that chases secular trends. Please. THAT'S the true Roman Catholic Church? Exhibit B: the Orthodox. So Western Catholicism's a fraud but adulterous second marriages and contraception are A-OK? And WHICH Orthodox, Constantinople or Moscow, at each other's throats as Soloviev predicted, out of communion over the Ukraine? Exhibit C: the Anglicans. As in the Reformed Catholicism the Oxford Movement still believed in. "The Pope has overstepped his bounds and is unbiblical!" said the bishop as she was about to officiate at a gay wedding.

If it's not doctrine, it's on the table. If it's not doctrine, we might be wrong. So the almost/alterna-Catholicisms are worth reading and talking to. But no.

Rather, maybe the question should be, why on earth would our holy mother the church want to leave the ancient and venerable see of Rome behind?

The church probably won't know until decades afterwards if Francis was really Pope.

P.S. Think the Ford Foundation and that lesbian priest of the Anglican Church of Canada are really interested in supporting Catholic evangelism in the Amazon valley? Neither do I.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

My impressions of the Amazon Synod

Taking a deep breath and saying prayers, my impressions of the Amazon Synod. Yes, the wrong people, heretical Germans, are behind it, using Amazon natives as a cover/excuse. But it's like Pope Francis' other flirtations with apostasy, okaying adulterous second marriages (giving the couple Communion) and condemning the death penalty: they come close to the line but don't cross it. Private letters aren't magisterial and he didn't say the death penalty is a sin. His opinions probably aren't Catholic. They don't matter. Our doctrine does. Strictly speaking, the only thing wrong with the synod, as far as I know, is the proposal to have lady deacons. In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, we've said that women's ordination is impossible. Let's look at the other proposals, again as far as I know. Ordaining the married as priests: we're already doing that with the Eastern rites and ex-Anglicans. Ordaining half-educated men just to say Mass: we've done that before. Amazonian Rite: the church has already written a new service, the Novus Ordo. Lady lectors and acolytes: not the sacrament of orders. Inculturation is fine. It's only a problem if a service really is goddess worship, for example. Prove it is. Don't forget Cardinal Müller's negative reaction to the statues of Pachamama in church, apparently for veneration. Also noteworthy: Regina Magazine has said on Facebook it doesn't recognize Francis as Pope; they claim impropriety at the conclave invalidated it. They don't have the authority to say that but I'm glad they're not making excuses for him. Somebody in authority would have to prove it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Convert buyer's remorse

From an unofficial Anglican ordinariate page: "Are there any former Anglicans who have joined the Roman Church by way of the Ordinariate wondering if they have been hoodwinked? Instead of carnivals in Anglican cathedrals in England, you have worship of pagan images in the Basilica in Rome."

I'm not in the ordinariate but was a born Anglican. I strongly felt that way when converting in the 1980s. Leaving people who at least knew how to to do liturgical worship for a bunch of weird self-haters who'd lost their nerve with the modern world, claiming that church teachings had changed, joining the enemy, and out-low-churching the low-church Anglicans. It took a long time including long spells back outside the church for me to figure out. The liberals who ran almost everything Catholic 35 years ago were wrong. Our teachings didn't change. They can't. They can't be swept away by a General Synod or General Convention vote! So the Amazon Synod, Pachamama and all that, etc. don't faze me. The church can write new services and recently has done, the Novus Ordo, but we don't have to believe the changes are ordered by the Holy Spirit or have to like them. Thanks to the Eastern rites (I am now Byzantine), Summorum Pontificum (I am much formed by the traditional Latin Mass), and the Anglican Use, now the ordinariates, we don't even have to use them!

Monday, October 28, 2019

The temptation to private judgement over bad things in the church

Wise words from an unfriendly blogger: "motivated by faith but derailed by substituting your own private judgement for the messy, sometimes frustrating hierarchy of the church." Stealth Protestantism! The demons are fallen angels, much smarter than us. The best intentions can be the biggest temptation, to what C.S. Lewis called the most beautiful and deadly vice, spiritual pride. It may have been Fr. Leonard Feeney's problem. He was on fire for the Lord and the church, unlike the lukewarm compromising Cardinal Cushing, but he overstepped by presenting an allowable opinion (which I don't share: all non-Catholics are going to hell) as doctrine. Actually he was kicked out for disobedience, not directly because of his views. He ignored a summons from Rome to explain his views and his past disobedience. Now? "I don't like Francis; he's not Pope." He might abandon the papacy by teaching heresy ex cathedra but we don't make that call. We honor the Pope's office, which is well limited, not the man or his opinions, which are meaningless. Papal infallibility can only defend church infallibility: our doctrine. He can't change it. "Goddess worship at the Amazon Synod!" You can't blame our teachings, even if the Pope falls down on the job. "The molestation scandal!" You can't blame our teachings for that and we're not Donatists: the unworthiness of the minister does not hinder the grace of the sacraments. "The Novus Ordo is invalid." The church is infallible and indefectible; for the first time, in the 1960s, it wrote new services whole cloth. Banning the old services was stupid; we don't have to pretend it wasn't or that the Holy Spirit is behind every change in rules. Rules can and do change; doctrine doesn't. The old services aren't banned anymore. "I'll become Orthodox!" You're angry that Francis is fine with adulterous second marriages, so you'll join a church that has long had them. What?! They've sold out on contraception and believe that Western Catholicism has been a fraud for a millennium. Going to throw away your missal and rosary? They have their tiny Western Rite but don't really want it; it's heavily byzantinized and, unlike my imperfect Byzantine Catholic church, not a centuries-old community. Aside from the creed, the rest of the first seven councils of our doctrine, and the traditional rite, theologically they're nothing. They're not even in communion with each other: Constantinople vs. Moscow in the Ukraine. There is no such thing as the Orthodox Church.

Keep going to Mass, read the old catechisms, and say your prayers.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Thomists, bad liberals, and good liberals: Bishop Barron on Vatican II and its aftermath

I don't know much about Bishop Barron. 1 Peter 5 has a post criticizing this piece. It's far from the worst thing I've heard on the subject. Honors for that might go to a thin imprimatur'd paperback piece of shit written about 10 years after Vatican II and printed by the Redemptorists that my otherwise sound college freshman religious-studies teacher, an Augustinian, made us read, The Catholic Church Story: Changing and Changeless. Edward Day was biased, un-academic, cheering for the first Protestants, calling St. Pius X vs. the Modernists "overkill," and writing syrupy nonsense about the council with all the changes being from the Holy Spirit. Christian community he was ashamed of was "sentimental loyalties such as fish on Friday and ashes during Lent." "The council taught that the Mass is a family dinner" and "took away the altars and replaced them with tables." A typical self-hating Catholic of the time. Spare me the patronizing mention of the Eastern churches; by then I'd been to the Ukrainian Catholic Church and knew better. A tract that didn't belong in the university nor the parishes. Anyway, God has the last laugh: the few remaining parishioners are 35-year-olds with several kids, NOT ashamed of our Christian community, wearing lace mantillas and following the traditional Latin Mass in their hand missals. The protestantized nonsense will last for one more generation after Pope Francis and literally die off: the biological option.

The traditional church has factions with different theological speculations (me: if it's not doctrine, it's on the table) and spiritualities (me: respect my customs and I'll respect yours) that don't get along. Franciscans vs. Jesuits, for example. Or look at Catholic countries: Irish vs. Italians! Barron's explanation of three factions is pretty good but he should be clearer that he's not condemning Garrigou-Lagrange's Thomism as un-Catholic even though he doesn't like it, belonging to the Communio school of "liberals" who are still Catholic, such as Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI; I knew that about Benedict, that he's actually not that conservative. No problem. At its best the Communio school's patristic like Newman's Anglican approach. And Barron should be clearer that the Concilium chaps (note: all such are old now), Hans Küng and his associates, have really spun off into Protestantism and beyond, into agnosticism. Roman Spongs. They really should be excommunicated or leave on their own, because they're not Catholic and have harmed people's faith.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Possible shakeup in Catholic Philly

Archbishop Chaput turned 75, so according to new canon law he will offer his resignation. The Pope won't necessarily accept it. Who knows what will happen with Pope Cuckoo Bananas in charge? ("Simpsons" reference.) Chaput has a reputation for being sound on doctrine and social issues, the model of a conservative Novus Ordo bishop. There are several traditional Latin Masses and he invited the Fraternity of St. Peter (might the archdiocese be trying to funnel all traditionalists to that parish?). Interestingly the archbishop doesn't become a cardinal anymore, because frankly the shrinking Archdiocese of Philadelphia isn't that important anymore. Anyway, if a Cupich gets in, our doctrine can't change, and Pope Francis has left Pope Benedict's English missal alone (a friend's theory: he doesn't care about liturgy, being a liberal Jesuit, and he doesn't speak English), but watch out. If it's "back to the '70s," the old liberals' last hurrah, hunker down. The earliest, lowest Sunday Mass, many good Catholics' mainstay since Vatican II. There is the shrinking Greek Catholic option, which either can be a refuge or become home, but it's dying. Doomsday scenario, as in real heresy pumped into what's left of the parishes? See you at the SSPX. ("They look pious and have nicer services," which are true, aren't good enough reasons to break with the official church locally.)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Christ indivisible: sorry, Anglicans

This came in my e-mail from David Virtue, the New Zealand-born journalist and Protestant Anglican stalwart, a scourge to liberal Episcopalians:
Cranmer distinguishes Christ's spiritual presence from his sacramental presence. Avoiding the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation, he argues that the spiritual presence occurs only through Christ's divine nature, he being in heaven in regards to his human nature. Cranmer follows a symbolic reading of the phrase "This is my body", and develops a view "remarkably close to that developed by Zwingli and Oecolampadius." - Alister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), 257.
This is heresy. It's why Catholic Christianity and Reformed Christianity aren't the same (Anglicanism pretty much claims they are) so it's why, even with Anglo-Catholicism, I couldn't be an Anglican anymore.

Remember what Catholics believe about the two natures of Christ. "Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man," united - and inseparable - in his person, the hypostatic union. This separation of his natures reminds me of what I think I know about Nestorianism. And Nestorians aren't really bad: they're part of the great Catholic family whose orders and Eucharist the church recognizes, because they don't teach heresy about the Eucharist.

The whole Christ, true God and true man, is present, sacramentally, not carnally, in every molecule of the Eucharist as long as the appearances of bread or wine remain. It's also why the laity don't need to receive in both kinds.

If it's only a symbol of his human nature, then as Flannery O'Connor said, to hell with it. No wonder mainliners lapse.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Banning the old Mass

This one's making the rounds on the interweb. I too hate that churchmen broke their promise of the old and new services coexisting, the situation we now have, which is fine. Catholics were bait-and-switched. To be fair, some of this stuff is Ecclesiology 101: you don't get to bring in a priest uninvited by the diocese or set up services outside the parishes just because you like the old missal better. The bishops' attitude was reprehensible; such was yucky American Catholicism in the '70s and '80s. The textbook right answer was to remember that our teachings can't change and that the church can write new services, so hunker down and obey, using the missal you're told to but sticking to the teachings. (Go to the earliest, lowest Mass: no funny business.) But I appreciate that the situation in some parishes and dioceses was dire, even anti-Catholic, and I appreciate the churchmen, most famously Archbishop Lefebvre, who fought for the externals, making it possible for a future generation to learn them. It turned out to be "the Mass that would not die."

Before Benedict XVI lifted the ban on the traditional missal, as the apostle and liturgiarch of his diocese, could the bishop forbid a previously approved missal?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Spin vs. reality about Vatican II

Vatican II is disliked because it asks the Catholic laity to do MORE, not less. We are challenged to actively participate in the Mass rather than offer our own private devotions during the Mass. We are asked to study the Scriptures instead of merely parroting catechism answers. We are asked to pray the Liturgy of the Hours instead of merely reciting the Rosary. It is this challenge to the laity that laity bristle at, while pretending the old way of private devotions is better.

American Catholics were corrupted by living in a Protestant country and had an inferiority complex. Catholic ghetto is Christian community that Protestants and liberals don't like. American Catholics understandably wanted to fit in, so Vatican II let them pretend the church was just another Protestant denomination of vague do-gooders, with no embarrassing customs that stuck out like the Latin Mass or fish on Fridays. To just be one of the fellows. Nothing to do with what Jesus taught. This party line that Catholic understanding, practice, and community before the council were shallow is just internalizing Protestant prejudice.

Vatican II didn't define doctrine, and I accept the church's authority to change rules and write new services; just please don't ban the old ones. There were lively movements before the council that encouraged people to read the Bible, taught people about the traditional Mass and encouraged them to CHANT it, and encouraged lay recitation of the Divine Office. (Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, anyone?) The council's effects killed the latter two. The old Low Mass junked up with sappy hymns won out. At least the old missal was better. It's full of scripture quotations beyond the readings. Today's Catholics DON'T know the Bible better. They don't even go to Mass anymore.

The changes were mistakes that didn't create deeper Catholics but made the church crater.

Take the council back. I don't want it and pretty much live like it doesn't exist. If you think that makes me a bad Catholic, I'm cool with that.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Uninformed Catholic opinion right and left

What makes me laugh is that some people with no theological background or no knowledge of the Catholic Church have so much to say & judge her... & sadly these very same people call themselves "Catholic" & consider themselves more Catholic than the Pope...
It comes in well-meaning conservative and liberal versions, from the person obsessing about Fatima (you tell him not to worry because even approved private revelation isn't doctrine but he doesn't listen to you) or the Confiteor, Last Gospel, etc. (nice but not essential; this person can't or won't read liturgical history) to the obnoxious liberals who ran the church in America for decades after Vatican II and in some places still do, claiming that the changes were God's will for all and thus being just as intolerant as they accused traditionalists of being. Then the traditionalists understandably reacted to that and became intolerant, and so on. Or the person who wants to throw out our doctrine for mainline Protestantism or secular humanism but don't tell him otherwise because he knows what's what; "I went to Catholic school for 12 years"!

I believe the doctrine. Locally I'm blessed with a choice of traditional services. I give money and don't tell people what to do, because that's not my responsibility as a lay person. And everything that's not doctrine is on the table.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Why all the mass shootings

A wise friend:
In the aftermath of this latest flurry of mass shootings, we'll hear lots of pontificating about guns and racism. But we'll hear little to nothing about the real problem, which is the increasing alienation of young men in our society. This has been evident since Columbine. A perfect storm of broken families, social and economic powerlessness, lack of masculine influence, social media, and the decline of religious faith has disposed today's young men to extreme ideological fantasies. None of this can be fixed overnight, but until we recognize and confront these issues directly, expect things to get much worse.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Monday, July 29, 2019

Biblical marriage vs. Hollywood romance

I post this not to join in ganging up on Josh Harris, who must be going through hell (his wife of over 20 years loses her faith, he loses his wife, he loses his faith, and he's probably trying not to lose his kids), but because this is a well-written critique of his earlier work ("overly stringent, slightly heretical sexual prosperity gospel") that made him famous.

Bad religion, "churchianity" as the evangelicals in the Christian manosphere say, as a wise monastic acquaintance described to me: God's like a vendor you make a contract with. People who conjure demons are the same way. You obey all the rules, you do the ceremony right, and God or the demon owes you one, such as riches or blissful married sex. You don't have those? Your fault: you weren't faithful enough!

The money quote:
The idea of "the one" or a person's perfect "soulmate" is not biblical or Christian - it actually originally comes from Plato's dialogue "The Symposium." This is not to say that some couples are not more compatible than others, but the key goal of romantic relationships should not be to find "the one," but to find someone you can love and be faithful to all of your days - and make yourself into the kind of person who can be faithful.
Not to be confused with pickup artists' putting down "one-itis" in favor of using women, even though it sounds similar.

My life and at least one other's would have been much better if I'd known this Christian truth. Like many others, the entertainment industry sold me a bill of goods.

Also, from another conversation about this subject: our wicked society's destruction of family and community, of a support system, puts an unrealistic emotional burden, unrealistic expectations, on a husband or wife to be someone's be-all and end-all, such as an intellectual "partner in crime." More harm, breaking up couples.
I often say the reason my marriage has endured so well is we did not marry for love. We are in love, but that is not why we married.
One of the best systems is semi-arranged marriages in cultures set up to do them, such as the revived self-sufficient Catholic towns run by "mafias" of big families that I imagine. They work because while the boy and girl have a say, veto power, it's about uniting and continuing two families. And it works because there is no marketing-fueled generation gap. Rupal's and Sanjay's families know Rupal and Sanjay very well, and everybody shares a religion and culture, so if the families think Rupal and Sanjay would be a good match, they often are. No soul-destroying years of "hooking up" nor platonic nonsense.
My wife and I married more tired with being alone and directionless in life. Mind you I was but 22 so that tells you something about my generation vs. today's. Anyway, after 21 years of marriage I love her more than I can express. It's a love that we both grew into gradually.
Dump the secular world's junk about a soul mate and you realize it's a perfectly good reason if the other person is a good person. And as you found out, it works.

Romantic painting: Tom Lovell (1909–1997), "Back Comes the Bride."

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

How to save Eastern churches in the West: culturally turn Protestant?

One of my sayings: Eastern Christianities fail in Western countries in three generations. A correspondent suggests Protestantizing culturally to better serve America, a Protestant country. Wrong answer but a try.
Big communities, Greek and Russian, fall off in three generations. I know why. Because Liturgy is just boring. It's not relevant with anything the young adult is going through or interested In. Meaning at school and the workplace. Relationships with other American people. The Eastern Orthodox Church is even more strange and alien than Catholic style in USA. So if the Catholic Church is not fully accepted, wanted, or understood, why would something even more outdated be? Also the Eastern Orthodox youth. If Middle Eastern looking. Will not want to go rubbing it in people's face. For fear of persecution. Ostracized from society.
So non-WASPs from the ancient churches should become Protestants at least culturally in America? No. Roman Rite Catholics, that is, most Catholics, tried that with Vatican II and their white ethnic base in America is cratering. All it did was destroy the Christian community they had. One of my sayings: Catholic ghetto is Christian community that liberals don't like.

Many Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches have services in English and great youth programs such as summer camps. But they're still bombing with the second and third generations.

The services in pure form are extremely long but old-country Orthodox know how to handle it. They don't stay for the whole thing. Far from it.
The Eastern Orthodox "spirit" is just not American. It's not compatible.
America is very problematic for the ancient churches. It's been Protestant since its beginning. Why it nearly ran Irish Catholics out of the country in the early 1800s. But we could live in peace and even thrive here. America's English-based culture was originally Catholic in the old country, before it was Protestant, and our shared Western culture - laws and norms at least indirectly based on the church - made it work. You seem to be telling all the ancient churches to throw in the towel in America and become Protestant. The Episcopalians have been trying to do that to us for many years, pretending to be one of us. No. And they're cratering too. Evangelicalism seems the liveliest Christianity in America, with old-school Catholicism the second, catching on among the young who choose to stay.

I'm under Rome and I'll take the Eastern Orthodox spirit over Americanism, hands down.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Might the Ukrainian Catholic Church's Russophobia be shooting it in the foot?

Russia understandably is a sore subject in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). I'm functionally a Russian Catholic worshipping there, because it's close culturally and it's here, but know to largely keep quiet about it. I know Russian, not fluently, and Slavonic, the old liturgical language shared with Russia, and don't really know Ukrainian as such. I know a few unique words and recognize it when I see and hear it. This parish is descendants of pre-1914 immigration so it's not extremely nationalistic. The liturgical languages now are English and some Ukrainian. The UGCC as of the 1596 union with Rome was the whole metropolia of Kiev, all of the Ukraine and Byelorussia but with lots of resistance. Russian expansion and persecution westward (most of the Ukraine went under Russia in the 1600s) reduced the UGCC by the 1800s to Galicia, under Poland (who weren't nice to them), which was sometimes under Austria-Hungary (who were nice). Then Stalin stole it in World War II, outlawing the UGCC, driving it underground for 40 years. Galicia's related to Russia, brother East Slavs, but was never Russian. It's the home base of the Ukrainian language. That said, most of the Ukraine speaks, you guessed it, Russian. People who don't identify as Russian speak Russian. It's like German-speaking Austria vs. Germany. Kiev, the capital, speaks Russian but the government pretends it doesn't. Russian has no official recognition in the Ukraine. The trouble behind the UGCC's decline in America might be that the UGCC doesn't want to admit that the Ukraine speaks Russian. So recent Ukrainian immigrants, in the Russian communities, aren't served. Post-Soviet immigration hasn't helped the UGCC. Offer Russian-speaking priests with Russian sermons and maybe the UGCC here would come back to life. Another issue, though, is would this put us head-to-head against the Orthodox Church in America (the old Russian metropolia in America, actually 60% descendants of Rusyn and Ukrainian ex-Catholics we harassed about clerical marriage), the Moscow Patriarchal parishes, and ROCOR (by the way, all these Russian groups, split in Communist times, are in communion), which has priests from Russia ministering in these areas? That would go against our long game: don't solicit individual conversions; work to reconcile all the Orthodox to us together and leave the rite alone. Well, the Ukrainians who go there probably don't identify as Ukrainian so the question might be moot. Still, tread carefully.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Modern dating quagmire: "friends" nonsense

How cruel. Reality TV is one jump from gladiatorial games.

The "friend zone" (dead end for saps) or, different, "LJBF" (let's just be friends, which everybody knows really means get lost).
A woman: We'd be better as friends.
Me if I still wasted time dating and heard this drivel: Maybe you didn't notice but it's 1960 here. You know your way out.
A real friend, that is, a fellow:
A million chicks like her will end up perpetually single with six cats crying about there being no good men.
There's a reason she's single.
She deserves to be lonely, crazy, and miserable once her looks and ovaries dry up.

Her name isn't Jessie; it's legion.

Women were never as sweet and noble as the Romantic pedestalizers on down have thought. They're much more likely now to waste years "riding the carousel" in soft polygamy/harems, sharing a few alpha bad boys, than be courted by nice guys. "Nice guy" is an insult in the sex world, as in "you're a nice guy, but" usually preceding the friends crap, because men like this sap seem needy and cowardly about telling the girl what they really want, such as eventually marriage. Too many well-meaning Christians mistake the friends crap for purity and respect so they send these poor saps to a dead end of hurt like in this horrible clip.
Best way to leave the "friends zone" is stop being her friend and just walk away. What Don Draper would do.
Yes. Every time you do that you still have your manhood, and IF she's worth having, she might approach you later. Then again, I had someone approach me apologetic years later who still was no good.

Walk like a man, talk like a man
Walk like a man, my son.
No woman's worth crawlin' on the earth
So walk like a man, my son.
The point of celibacy including the right kind of MGTOW (which is discarded husbands, not the angry dateless), by way of the Four Seasons: your worth as a person doesn't depend on what the other sex thinks of you. And when you're no longer needy that way, maybe, if God wants, you'll meet the right girl.
"Friend zone": let me string you along thinking one day you might have a chance, let me use you to talk about my problems, run errands for me, take me out when I am bored etc.
That's exactly what it is when he's not gay or it's not a jaded player and whore sharing tales of debauchery.

Mike Pence is right.

There are beautiful married acquaintances I informally call friends. Mike Pence rule. There are friends and associates' wives and girlfriends with whom I am cordial. They are not friends. Mike Pence rule.

Allan Bloom, who had no Christian pretensions, quoted by Fabius Maximus:
…Female modesty extends sexual differentiation from the sexual act to the whole of life. It makes men and women always men and women. The consciousness of directedness toward one another, and its attractions and inhibitions, inform every common deed. As long as modesty operates, men and women together are never just lawyers or pilots together.
What this poor sap should have said. Calmly, slowly, not butthurt:
No. We're not. Get your own ride home.
And if they won the prize on the game show, sell it and split the money, or go to court. And never speak to her again.

A manosphere fundamental: modern girls still expect chivalry; "princess privilege." As Dalrock says, they think "weak men are screwing up feminism" and "man up so we can be strong, independent women." Easy. Stop being chivalrous. Disrespect me on national TV and you don't deserve it if you ever did.

Forget casual dating. Don't date. Court.

P.S. These people are actors so this was probably faked but the point stands.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Dystopia now: why Western society needs rebooting

Conservatives of course don't like radical changes but when you've made a wrong turn, backtrack, just like finding your lost keys.

Why "reboot society"?

"We have zero idea how to connect and stay with anyone anymore." Because our f*cked-up modern Western society doesn't want you to. Look at the middle-class American script. You grow up in a suburban non-town, where you're expected to leave your family, all your high-school friends, and your sweethearts behind ("only losers stay home and marry young") to go to college (where you probably don't belong), then leave that pseudo-community behind four years later, THEN have a bunch of corporate or job-chasing moves. Be a lonely, horny, rootless little consumer, a cog. That's what our kiddie jails, schools, are designed to turn you into. "Bowling alone." Throw in contraception and no-fault divorce to make sure your marriage breaks up and you've got dystopia.

No wonder people abuse opioids.

Assimilation is the death of Eastern Christianities in America

"When the grandkids aren't Greek anymore." Small steps forward amidst a massive decline. For every "Go East, young man" convert story of the seekers who should be coming to Eastern churches in America (the Orthodox had their convert boomlet), there are legions more like Rova Farms in New Jersey, just sold to the township, closed about 10 years ago (I was last there about 20 — stately little '50s restaurant and a bar that had become a biker hangout). Here's a story of that Russian community's fascinating history but also its fall... in 1977. Thought of it as I was considering going to ROCOR's big festival at the church still there (pictured) for the Sunday celebrating St. Vladimir's Day, the prince who converted the Ukraine, which spread to Russia; me: "Russia was consecrated when St. Vladimir was baptized." (No, I won't go to Liturgy twice; I just won't go to Communion, which is my usual way anyway.) I just picked up this expression, "civilization lasts three generations," which reminded me of my saying, "Eastern churches in Western countries fail in three generations" due to assimilation. You can try to wall off and speak only Russian. You can have English services and a great Sunday school and youth camp. The kids and grandkids still leave. I don't have an answer.

And regarding "Eastern," for the newbs, there is more than one kind of Eastern Christianity. The biggest and best known are the Orthodox. They and their lesser-known Byzantine Catholic cousins are in various ethnic jurisdictions. Then you have the other rites, such as Coptic and Armenian, which also have representatives in the church. Rival one true churches to both Catholicism and the Orthodox based on alleged Christological heresies. Culturally very similar to Orthodoxy (traditional liturgy, married priests). Estranged Catholics or non-Christians with bishops and a liturgy? The church recognizes their orders as we do the Orthodox. The Maronites are all Catholic, and alas, Novus Ordo-fied, as are the Nestorians' bigger cousins, the Chaldean Catholics.

Valid orders define what I call the great Catholic family: trinitarian theology so basic the Nestorians and Miaphysites, non-Byzantine Easterns, pass ("Do you believe that Jesus is God? Good!"); unbroken claim to apostolic succession; and uninterrupted true teaching about the Eucharist (sorry, Anglicans: we take your framers at their word, so no Mass, no orders). Catholicism is the church but the others are still sacramentally a part of us. No one-on-one proselytism of born members, but bringing these churches in together and leaving their rites alone are imperative.

Byzantine Catholicism in America is endangered, not even getting the temporary boost of more planeloads of immigrants that the Greek Orthodox, the biggest Orthodox group in America, do. (Either they eventually return home, which is fine, or the assimilation cycle starts over.) A suggestion overheard: it might help if the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America admitted that most immigrants from the Ukraine speak Russian more than Ukrainian.

That Byzantine Catholicism is very much not perfect is a sign we have a lot of work to do. And an opportunity: go to the Orthodox for Vespers or Vigil! Not to preach; to (learn how to) pray.

Friday, July 19, 2019

A sound Melkite bishop in America has died

From the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, Mass.:
The Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra, Eparchial Bishop of Newton, regrets to inform you of the blessed repose of The Most Reverend John Adel Elya, B.S.O., Bishop Emeritus of Newton (Melkite), early this morning, July 19, 2019, at Holy Savior Monastery, Motherhouse of the Basilian Salvatorian Fathers in Joun (Sidon) Lebanon, where he had been residing for the last 10 months. Bishop Elya fell asleep in the Lord while he watched the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Monastery chapel from his bed.

The Funeral and Burial will take place at the Monastery on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, with His Beatitude Joseph (Absi), Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, presiding, along with Bishop Nicholas Samra, Eparchial Bishop of Newton USA, as well as other Melkite Bishops of Lebanon.

Bishop Elya was born in Maghdouche, Lebanon, and entered the Melkite Basilian Salvatorian Order where he professed his solemn vows in 1949. He arrived in the USA in 1954 and served as professor of Moral Theology as well as Rector at St. Basil Seminary, Methuen, MA. In addition, Bishop Elya served as parish priest in several churches in the Eparchy of Newton.

He was ordained bishop on June 29, 1982 and served as Auxiliary Bishop of Newton until January 25, 1994 when he became the Eparchial Bishop of Newton. Following his retirement on June 22, 2004, he resided at St. Basil Monastery of the Basilian Salvatorian Order in Methuen until 10 months ago when he was taken for nursing care to the Motherhouse of Saint Savior Monastery in Lebanon.

O Christ God, with the Saints grant rest to the soul of Your servant, the high priest, Bishop John, in a place where there is no pain, no grief no sighing, but everlasting life!
Bishop John didn't dissent from the teachings of the church in the name of ecumenism.

Eternal memory.

Modernist Pope worship

Got to credit Pope Juan Perón with breaking well-meaning orthodox Novus Ordo Catholics from Pope worship, "adoring" his person as though he and his office (the part the church says is infallible in some situations) were the same. Give up that artsy old Tridentine Mass and just wave your arms for the Pope. The cultus of John Paul the Overrated, who as you can see I have no devotion to. We're actually better off now because Pope Juan Perón hasn't undone Benedict the Great's reforms. I don't watch EWTN; I remember when it was saccharine Novus Ordoism, devotionalism, charismaticism, and JP2 worship. Then Mother Angelica put her old habit back on and sounded off, part of (Anglo-Catholic humor) the Catholic Revival in the Roman Communion. Now EWTN is basic catechetics I don't need; I respect the good they do. That and news, which like everybody else now I get from the Web. Anyway, pushed against the wall, yes, they're sound. They've woken up and smelled the sulfur so they're criticizing Pope Juan Perón. Now the National Catholic Reporter (cranky old people) hates them as much as they hate Trump. And anything NCR hates has got to be good. Them, after decades of attacking our teachings (just shut up and become Methodists): how dare you criticize the Pope? Ha ha ha. Again, a parody Catholicism in which the Pope's person is more important than our teachings.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Love, the manosphere, and "Mad Men"

I like to think, as the last line of "Brigadoon" says, with love, anything is possible, even miracles.

"Mad Men" fan talk. I don't read those Facebook pages anymore because they're all liberals, and mostly female liberals, and I've gotten all the style pointers I need. I don't even watch. I don't need to. Note: the show was a resource but my point was never to imitate the show. But it's amusing, and unsurprising to the profilers and psychologists in the manosphere, that liberal women lust after the illiberal Don Draper. He's an anti-hero with style pointers from ties to "I don't think about you at all" cool comebacks. But he's a psycho. Sidebar: women's God-given survival and reproductive instincts are off course because of sin so they lust after psychos. Literal killers on death row get propositions and proposals. Alpha bad boys, not beta providers some settle for later (sloppy seconds; alpha f*cks, beta bucks). Be that as it may, Draper's not my hero. "Pete Campbell, a man I look up to" is one of the best twists and most moving endings I've seen. Pete was not nice nor particularly handsome. It was OVER: he broke up his family. Divorced and of course Trudy wanted nothing to do with him. But when he "hit the jackpot" with a job, he came back and offered it all to her. And she said yes. Unrealistic? Maybe. But possible. Back to the last line of "Brigadoon." Most of the bitter head cases in the manosphere, out-and-out misogynists screwed over by divorce, which women now start most of the time, say that's for saps but I don't care.