Monday, February 20, 2017

What think ye of "thou"?

The subject of the use of "thee" and "thou" came up in church yesterday. I mentioned how Quakers use those words for intimate relationships and "you" for common relationships. Another elder remarked how out society has made "you" both a common and intimate term and basically dropped "thee" and "thou." Perhaps that's part of the problem in so many churches — the reduction of God to a "common" relationship as reflected in out word usage. And in doing so, we've lost the sense of God as holy and sovereign. Words mean things...
The real meaning of "thou" dropped out of standard English about 300 years ago; it survived in some dialects (parts of northern England — "Tha thinks?" = "Thou thinkest?" = "Do you think so?" — and the Quaker plain speech) longer. Now English-speakers see it as part of religious language (the King James Bible is conservative American Protestants' Latin) so they often mistake it for the formal you as many readers know, and as the quotation above assumes. I like it (Anglican English is my religious English), and knowing some other languages that kept the intimate form (Latin and Spanish, Slavonic and Russian), I know what it is. People at least used to think the Continuing Anglican movement is about thous and thees just like they think I am a conservative Roman Catholic because I supposedly have a fetish for Latin. (It's international, its meaning doesn't change, and it's pretty.) I understand the late Bishop James Mote of the Anglican Catholic Church, a Continuum founding bishop, could take or leave thous and thees; for him it was all about the Catholic faith as they thought it was received by the Church of England and Episcopal Church. He said the thous and thees out of obedience because that's what was in the book.

Everybody eventually comes up with a liturgy and a rite, as Fr. Peter Gillquist once pointed out, and everybody eventually comes up with a religious form of their language. For English-speakers it's Tudor. Even the new Mass in the Roman Rite keeps the English Our Father in that style. My theory: the only English prayers most Roman Catholics care about are the only ones we used for centuries, those of the rosary, which have amazingly stayed about the same even after Vatican II.

Presidents good, bad, and should-have-been


A favorite American president is interestingly not a kingly or caudillo type but a New England Yankee who for a change wasn't a busybody trying to force things on the people because he thought he knew best: the quiet governance of Calvin Coolidge. I'm not exactly simpatico with Ike (Robert Taft was better; he should have got the nomination in '52) but I respect his accomplishments as president; I agree with his pragmatic centrism and New Look defense policy that kept us from wasting time and lives in brushfire wars such as Vietnam (blame Kissinger's very different view for the latter). Ike: because we now have nukes, war should be out of the question as nobody can touch us. Like with Lew Rockwell, most people's lists of the greatest presidents are basically my list of the worst: Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR.

Gentlemen who should have been president: Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey, Robert Taft, Richard Nixon in 1960 (Kennedy stole the election but Nixon didn't demand a recount), Barry Goldwater, Eugene McCarthy (seriously Catholic at the time), George McGovern, Thomas Eagleton if he had been well enough, Harry Browne (Libertarian), and one of the greatest men of my time, Ron Paul.

P.S. The American Revolution was a mistake.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Charismatics: The other American Catholics who still go to Mass

The Catholic charismatic movement used to be a problem because it was Protestantizing, an import because of Vatican II on ecumenism (which rightly understood I have no problem with: not indifferentism), so Catholic liberals loved it. That honeymoon didn't last because charismatic Catholics were based on conservative Protestantism so no feminism, homosexualism, or salvation without Jesus, plus charismatic Catholics re-Catholicized: they love Exposition and Mary, for example. After Vatican II, because the liberals loved it, they often pushed it on us high churchmen, commonly called traditionalists, as just about our only option, the other, practically speaking though it was not said or encouraged (we had to figure it out), being the Eastern rites*, which are good but have their own problem as they seem not to thrive in America after three generations (the Orthodox have the same problem), and why should we be forced to dump a perfectly good Catholic culture? (Because the liberals are heretical and self-righteous: they told us that the council meant their desires were literally God's will. A bookend to rad trads.) Now the movement seems to be waning. They're still "low-church" liturgically but as they've become Catholic again they've lost some of their hostility to us. (The Franciscan University of Steubenville has had the Tridentine Mass!) So now I don't have a problem with them. I give them credit for emphasizing that the Holy Spirit is still active in the world, and part of that, very simpatico with popular Catholicism, is miracles can happen (we just can't presume they will). I see them doing the orans position at the new Mass; it's not disruptive so they're welcome at my Masses (Tridentine and Byzantine) as far as I'm concerned. With Pope Benedict's English Mass as the baseline in America, keeping Roman Riters in line like the Tridentine Mass used to, it's all good.

*The liberals get away with the hypocrisy of leaving them alone because the liberals actually largely ignore them except for now-passé ecumenism (which anyway ignored that the Orthodox often hate the Uniates; Russian churchmen especially resent the Ukrainian Catholic Church). Secular humanists (Christianity's bastards) don't care about Christians getting back together, which now seems almost quaint (Catholics and Lutherans at a prayer service: big deal!); their own thing and its cousin, interfaith (often incorrectly called ecumenism: indifferentism revisited; "Coexist"), as a gateway to it, are where it's at. Ecumenism rightly understood means bringing all into the Catholic Church.

Sunday quick notes on religion

  • John Zmirak: "Magisterium ≠ whatever 1 Pope says. It's the body of teaching passed from the Apostles. What diverges is heresy even if a Pope says it." Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Catholics are not called to blind obedience to the Pope. Exactly what I believe. Non-Catholics think we have to jump if the Pope sneezes, especially if we call ourselves traditionalists. It doesn't work that way. Given how difficult travel and communication were centuries ago (same thing then), it never did.
  • To quote a weary but wise man: "From now on I'll go to church but I won't join." Pretty much my approach. I'm registered in a parish and do my financial duty, however badly, but that's it. I don't get involved. Parish politics and clergy gossip won't help me become a better person.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

OicwRs: Still sliming after all these years

I recently had another online run-in with a soi-disant "Orthodox in communion with Rome" (OicwR), this time one trolling a traditionalist Catholic board. (Shark chum from someone swanning in Byzantine garb to grab attention from such a board: "I don't believe in purgatory, the Immaculate Conception, papal infallibility, etc., because [allegedly] the Pope himself and the Melkite patriarch say I don't have to.") It's easy for traditional Catholics to trust someone who uses an Eastern liturgy, as those liturgies are very good (after Vatican II often the only traditional expression Catholics were allowed), but some of the latter dissent from church teaching in the name of ecumenism with the Orthodox (who ironically often hate ecumenism). Byzantine Catholics are called to express Catholicism in Orthodox terms (though few native to those churches consciously think that way), but of course a Catholic must accept all doctrines taught by the church according to their essence, form notwithstanding. Dissenters among Eastern Catholics are few but noisy online, are usually not native to the Eastern rites, and are usually on their way out of the church and wouldn't mind dragging you with them. A common game from them to try to slime defenders of Catholicism is to attack their Byzantine bonafides if they claim any, trying to hurt them by appealing to pride: "You're trying to force Latin Catholic culture on us!" My home prayer life and my church life once a month are very "Orthodox" in a Byzantine Catholic church but I claim no Byzantine bonafides; I'm not trying to look cool or claim to be something I'm not. I am Roman Rite, and traditional Roman Rite at that, but more important am only trying to follow Christ.
I never quite get that; it's like they don't believe in the law of non-contradiction. Eventually something has to give. One thing has to be true and the other has to be wrong, and you can't have it both ways.
True, so most of them (and again there aren't that many of them) become Orthodox, but they leave a lot of confusion in their wake online.

My part-time Byzantine Catholic parish is Holy Myrrh-Bearers Ukrainian Catholic Church in Swarthmore, Pa., the former Holy Ghost Church of Chester, Pa., moved to a more pleasant neighborhood. My official parish, and my parish by choice, is Our Lady of Lourdes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (Sunday morning Tridentine Sung Mass).

"The Pope was the first Protestant." False.

History says Catholics are the Protestants.
Here's why I don't buy that. There is but one Christian faith: God, Christ, the Trinity, the Mother of God, the hypostatic union, bishops, the Mass, and the option of using images. Protestants deny part of that; Catholicism never has. Second, Jesus said, "Teach all nations." Of all the ancient, venerable apostolic churches claiming to be the Catholic Church, only the actual Catholic Church under Rome has fulfilled his Great Commission. A God who would damn Western Europe, even though it holds the same faith as the East (see my list above), because it was outside the Byzantine sphere of influence is a God I want nothing to do with. God obviously never intended his church to be as relatively small and narrow as the Byzantine Orthodox. The Old Catholics claimed to be the true Roman Catholic Church vs. the Vatican's papal infallibility, but they're a little sect now and one that has turned liberal. The true Catholic Church is what it has always been. Finally, on divorce and remarriage the Orthodox long ago gave up the faith and logic, sanctifying adultery "for pastoral reasons," and lately have sold out on contraception.

The flip side is wrong too:
The Orthodox are Protestants.
Even I don't go that far. Because Catholicism doesn't. All of their defined doctrine is the first seven councils of ours (that and the Vincentian canon pretty much give you Catholicism), so unlike Protestant doctrines it's all true. They still have bishops and the Mass even though those clergy don't normally have the church's authority (they would in an emergency like defrocked Catholic clergy); valid but illicit. Orthodoxy is a collection of folk Catholicisms that got estranged from the church; the more obnoxious of them think they're a completely different religion and we're frauds. If it were Protestant, I wouldn't tip my hat or cross myself going past their churches, have antique Russian icons, or use their prayers.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Quick notes on religion

  • Should Roman Catholic priests be allowed to marry? Possible but I don't want to break ancient custom East and West in which the ordained don't marry. We have mostly adopted the Christian East's rule of ordaining the married for convert priests and permanent deacons. I have no problem with extending that to all diocesan seminarians but that doesn't necessarily mean we should. I don't like most of the people agitating for the change; heretics. There is a slew of practical problems with married priests. One is a family's demands on a priest's time. Another is the financial burden of supporting not only a priest but his family; how many dioceses and parishes can afford that, literally? So do the priest and his wife have to take secular jobs to stay alive, as many Orthodox priests and their wives in America have to? I've been told that the educational requirement and workload for married Continuing Anglican priests is about the same as for Roman Catholic permanent deacons. Married priests can do the work but again are we ready to pony up the cash and make the other necessary adjustments?
  • Does anyone know whether the SSPX permits married priests from the Anglican Church? The SSPX is a religious order so by definition its priest members are celibate. Good question, though: what if a married ex-Anglican priest wanted to be ordained as a priest associate but not a member? They might say no, answering that only Rome can grant that dispensation. This just in: "They are not a religious order. They are a priestly society of common life. They take no vows, wear no habit, and do not live a monastic lifestyle. Thus, they could have a married priest if certain provisions were made." I stand corrected.
  • Everything that's not doctrine should be negotiable; some things about English-speaking Catholic culture can and maybe should be dropped. Yes, learn from the Anglicans. My semi-traditionalist parish uses their hymns and has monthly coffee hour.
  • The Church of England is fighting the American fundamentalist vs. modernist war of the '20s, between their mainliners and their Evangelicals (capitalized when you're talking this Anglican faction). So thanks to the Evos they still don't officially have gay marriage but the mainliners have won a skirmish, so the C of E isn't saying now that marriage is between a man and a woman. (That this stuff even comes up for votes tells you they're not Catholic. The Episcopal Church, like current American law, now has gay marriage.) Anglo-Catholics are mainliners, long heavily homosexual and now accepting women clergy; the C of E's would-be Catholics have become Catholic (not many, and mostly priests).
  • I'll be honest: I don't have a problem with Freemasonry's original idea of gentlemen of many faiths and political views meeting in someone's home or a tavern to set aside their differences and just talk. I object to what it became, a false religion targeting the Catholic Church. At its lowest level, it seems to be a goofy fraternity for older men. It is dying out, even while its values have won in the West, just like the mainline Protestantism it largely took over (it pretty much owns Anglicanism).

Race exists but Christians don't worship it: Answering anti-Jewish secular people

Someone posted this shocking cartoon, adding: "This is why the alt-right is a cancer."


If this cartoon is serious, it is chilling. A valuable unintended lesson. Race is real; there are differences on average among races. Being white is wonderful. On all that, the alt-right is correct. But Christians don't worship race; individuals come first. Why we can't be good Nazis, for example. They also thought idolizing race was "progressive" (Margaret Sanger was on board with that as pro-lifers will tell you); Christians needed to get with the program. We're really not about picking on other races.

Many Jews hate Christians; it's stupid to ignore that. But they are still individual souls, the people of the Old Testament, and the people of Mary and Jesus. The Nazis ultimately wanted to get rid of Christianity because they believed the message of this cartoon: because, humanly speaking, Christianity is a Jewish heresy.
Christianity is not heresy but the legitimate successor to the faith of the patriarchs.
Of course we don't believe Christianity is heresy; Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. But Jews do: "Jesus died so he couldn't have been the Messiah; case closed." We believe by faith, since he only appeared to his followers after the crucifixion, that he returned from the dead in the flesh.
Too bad the old covenant is abrogated. Additionally the Old Testament faith is not the same as "Judaism."
It sure is abrogated. But just as we include the Old Testament in scripture despite that (contra the Marcionist heresy), I have a special regard for our society's "People of the Book" even though they're no longer the Chosen. (Before 3 p.m. Good Friday the head of the church on earth was Caiaphas; afterwards it was St. Peter.)

Certainly since the Romans destroyed the Temple, Judaism is very different from the Old Testament and Jesus' time.

I like Israelis, basically fellow Europeans (thanks to centuries of mixing) who are tough and politically incorrect. But the Jews don't have a biblical claim to Palestine anymore. The Palestinians matter to Christians too; some of them are Christians, mostly of the great Catholic family, both actual Catholics and Orthodox.

Interesting that the Nazis worship Nordicness but Hitler wasn't Nordic (ex-Catholic Austrian neither blond nor blue-eyed).

Not eating meat on Fridays


Friday abstinence from meat including eggs is just a rule but a beloved custom (not just a penance; part of "Christian community" as a Catholic), and one of the only ascetic practices I can handle, so I abstain but don't advertise it. (The parts of the faith about loving your neighbor and staying pure are notoriously hard; not eating meat one day a week is very easy. It's just training for the hard stuff.) The rule for Roman Catholics is you're supposed to substitute an alternative penance if you eat meat on Friday outside of Lent (when we revert to abstinence) but nobody does that. Part of Vatican II's shell game: praise an old practice rhetorically, then effectively abolish it a few lines down by making it optional. The change was supposed to "deepen" our understanding of fasting rather than making it routine but it really was a disparagement of fasting as not modern. Jesus fasted and said, "When you fast..."

It doesn't have to be fish. The story about the Pope propping up the Italian fishing industry is just a joke.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Orthodox are too Catholic: If you're going to be Eastern, go whole hog!

William Tighe writes here:
Physiocrat said:
"It would not be a matter of finding shelter amongst the Orthodox, but that they may have been right all along. What if we have been mistaken for the past 1200 years?"
Were I convinced (as I am not) that "we have been mistaken for the past 1200 years," it would not be to the Orthodox, historically speaking, that one should turn, but rather to the non-Chalcedonian "Oriental Orthodox" (Copts, Armenians, Ethiopians, Syrians, etc.). The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) split Eastern Christianity right down the middle, with its opponents maintaining (a) that the Christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria was the "gold standard" of Christian orthodoxy, as per the Council of Ephesus, (b) that the Christology of the Tome of St. Leo the Great was, if not Nestorian, then "Nestorianizing," and (c) that the Council of Chalcedon had so compromised "pure Cyrilline orthodoxy" as effectively to betray the Faith. Many Easterners who reluctantly accepted Chalcedon seemed inclined to have some sympathy for this perception, as witness the almost universal embrace in the East of the Emperor Zeno's "Henotikon" of 482, which passed over Chalcedon in silence, and declared the dogmas of the councils of Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus to constitute Christian orthodoxy. Rome rejected the Henotikon out of hand, and the result was the "Acacian Schism" between Rome and the four eastern patriarchates, which lasted from 482 to 519. The schism ended when a new emperor sought to heal the schism between Rome and the East, even if to do so meant effectively to accept explicitly that "Rome was right and we were wrong" (and implicitly, "because Rome is always right in its dogmatic stances/decisions," which was certainly Rome's view than, as later), and even if that same emperor, Justinian, sought later in his reign to bend a Roman pope to his will. In other words, the Chalcedonian Orthodox are in part a legacy of a fifth/sixth century "papalism" which they later rejected. The "Oriental Orthodox," thus, in my view, have a more cogent claim than the Orthodox — if we have been mistaken for the past 1200 years — to be "the true Church."

Or, to put it briefly, "if Chalcedon, why not Florence; if not-Florence, then why Chalcedon?"
Every ancient church including ours claims it's the true one, which makes the recent rapprochement between these Lesser Eastern Churches and the Chalcedonian Orthodox curious. Historically they hated each other like many schismatics still hate Catholics.

Might the schismatics believe in development of doctrine after all? (Which is not our doctrine, just Newman's theory.)

A qualified ecclesiastical second-in-command, whoever he may be, could declare the See of Peter vacant tomorrow (it can happen) but I still wouldn't believe my Latin, Gregorian chant, scholastic theology, rosary, and Sacred Heart picture are part of a fraud any more than my antique Russian icons and Slavonic prayer books are. The church geeks and Eastern European xenophobes can bellow away online, even deck me in person, but the gates of hell will not prevail against the Catholic Church.

If the schismatics were right about the Christian God, I wouldn't be a Christian because such a God wouldn't be worthy of my worship. Become a Buddhist (a respectable philosophy but it doesn't answer ultimate questions). Be a hedonist trolling the bars and/or the apps for sex. Be bris'd into Orthodox Judaism to await the Messiah as the late William F. Buckley Jr. said of such a situation. Or blowing my head off would make more sense.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rebutting Ortho-ganda


5 Differences Between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

I've had a run-in with this fellow online.
  • 1. There is only one church, the Catholic Church; it has a head bishop who shares in the church's infallibility. Not a problem. His job is to defend our doctrine: God, Christ, the Trinity, the Mother of God, the hypostatic union, bishops, the Mass, and the option of using images. The Pope's office has defended all those things and more as part of the full apostolic faith.
  • 2. Cultural difference, not doctrinal. Eastern Catholics do the same. The sin of the Orthodox is they think their rite, their culture, is the church. The culture is nice but not essential.
  • 3. Prayer for the dead supposes an intermediate state; without it, such prayer makes no sense. Indulgences are a relief from canonical penance, something ancient. Temporal punishment? Suppose I steal a thousand dollars from you. I go to confession. God forgives. I still owe you a thousand dollars.
  • 4. I go to the traditional Latin Mass most of the time, and to a Ukrainian Catholic parish part-time. For centuries, Catholic churchmen didn't consciously change much in the liturgy because the liturgy wasn't studied as history until around the 1800s. There is no doctrinal reason not to write a new service, which doesn't necessarily mean one should. Obviously I think we shouldn't have.
  • 5. Discipline, not doctrine, and I detect a whiff of spiritual pride in the schismatics' boast about fasting. I don't eat meat on Fridays (Jesus said, "When you fast...") and the Roman Rite has fasts Ash Wednesday beginning Lent and on Good Friday, as well as the Friday abstinence in Lent.
Eastern Orthodoxy is Eastern folk Catholicism, a collection of Catholic customs, not a church.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two anti-convert vignettes

Religious Greeks and Russians tend to be nice. (I see a Greek immigrant just about every week.) They have nothing to prove. Often they're involved with church because they're homesick, not to spite you.
  • "Don't say anything or wave!" Last year I dared set foot in the Orthodox parish where I did something 21 years prior I'm not proud of, leaving the church. They're slowly dying, in a dying city neighborhood (like a lot of Catholic parishes); their yearly festival keeps them afloat. I was there only to be quietly ecumenical, as our churchmen encourage. Doctrinally and in practice we give born Orthodox the benefit of the doubt. I was there to have some holupki and pierogi and wish them well, not give the Sermon on the Mount or get into a knife fight. In a way the Slavs there are perennial, exactly like when I first visited 25 years ago: as a friend put it, a less cordial version of the Greek Catholics I knew then and now. (Their founding stock were Galicians who left the church 100 years ago; they think they're Russian.) True enough this time; one Slav recognized me and was polite but reserved, which was understandable. Then: "Don't say anything or wave!" This was after I had noticed a man in a festival-crew T-shirt glaring at me across the entrance table so I half-waved. Not a Slav, unsurprisingly. An Italian ex-Catholic I'd been friends with for 15 years; he's changed parishes many times. We used to commiserate about the whole church mess, East and West. But I went back so he hates me. His loss.
  • "I wouldn't take advice from you if you were the last man on earth!" You'd think Catholics who worship in an Eastern rite are more likely to be sound but there are some bad apples. This one was a particularly obnoxious woman in her 70s (old enough to know better) who was a big wheel online, a sort of self-taught theologian into spirituality who apparently wanted to be Eastern but there was no Eastern Catholic parish close by. So she came up with the idea to join the local Russian Orthodox parish with her fingers crossed, not going through the usual denunciations of Catholicism. I said of course don't leave, and that the plan was dishonest and disrespectful to both sides so it hurts us: it says to the Orthodox that we can't be trusted. The venom I got from her obviously wasn't from God. Well, her will be done. God have mercy on them both.

Political potpourri


  • Somebody is stirring up a real revolt against the president. And I'd bet you a few krugerrands Soros is one of the forces behind it. Even businesses are jumping on board, dumping Trump's family's merchandise. (Ivanka hatred is envy; she's beautiful and fulfilled, a People's Princess.) What's happening is the biggest political thing in my lifetime since the Sixties, specifically the end of the Sixties, Watergate. Nixon was actually a law-and-order centrist liberal but he was of the old America so the left set out to destroy him. That fraternity prank born of his insecurity and the lesson he learned from Kennedy (who stole elections and joked about it) gave them the means. Praying for our president; you know that somebody's trying to assassinate him. I'm afraid of that and of Weather Underground-style domestic terrorism (Bill Ayers should hang), of the street theater our media are hyping getting real.
  • So the leftover Occupy types think we Trump voters are Nazis. As far as I know, the president has no plan to invade, ethnically cleanse, and repopulate Latin America with North Americans, as the Nazis wanted to do with Germans to Eastern Europe and the Slavs (their Big Plan, not the one about the Jews), nor is he targeting innocent American groups (you know, people who don't set off pressure-cooker bombs at marathons or shoot up nightclubs), so no. Enforcing the law defending our borders doth not a Hitler make.
  • "Correlation is not causation." The Bomb forced peace on Europe. The European Union and its predecessors are nothing to do with it.
  • Goodbye, "Saturday Night Live." I watched since 1977 and stopped forever a few months ago. To give it credit, as much as I hate the Sixties (which were really from 1968 to 1973), in the beginning the show was an All-Star Game of the counterculture, from George Carlin to Janis Ian on the first show; low production values but intelligent. Now the liberal propaganda isn't even clever. It's had a few breakout stars but since the original legendary cast it's mostly been unfunny hacks.

My non-Valentine's Day post


"It is not good for man to be alone" and sex of course is part of God's plan (children) but MGTOW (men going their own way) has a point. It and the manosphere (pickup artists, in a way MGTOW's opposite because it still defines a man in terms of appeal to women): your worth doesn't depend on what women think (which, come to think of it, is Christian). Both the white knights (well-meaning Christian gentlemen) and their "post-Christian" (I hate that term; surrender) knockoff, meek male feminists (whom women really despise), get it wrong, putting girls on a pedestal. Now that I'm 50, I look back on my teenage angst about the other sex almost nostalgically; I just about don't care anymore. I'd rather go for a drive in my classic car. That and thanks to the Sixties including feminism, so many women are toxic, which the manosphere and MGTOW point out. Women, whom God made to be both especially social and nurturers (mothers), are suckers for peer-pressure liberalism (Christian values knocked off course). With feminism and socialism, you're still doing the work and paying women's way (they can't sustain civilization), only now you often don't get a home and sex in return. The men's movements' down side, besides "it is not good for man to be alone": selfishness/narcissism, a kind of immaturity (Peter Pan syndrome), and manosphere master Chateau Heartiste will tell you that what's happening is bad for society (he has a second blog, Goodbye America in a Photo), but like with celibacy I believe a man can decide to take this path.

I'm "passive-aggressive," living in a better era: I'm respectful in two pre-feminist ways. I take off my hat if a woman's in the elevator and I hold doors. That's it.

P.S. The real St. Valentine. I have no problem with pruning the Roman Rite's universal calendar by making some saints optional for local commemoration but doing this to popular saints is self-defeating, churchmen throwing in the towel in evangelism and the culture war.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ecclesiastical bibs and bobs


  • I'd be happy with a cheerily corrupt Pope who leaves the ordinary practice of the Catholic religion alone, for holy priests and laity.
  • Benedict XVI's abdication four years ago was the worst thing I've seen happen in the church because it ended the best thing I've seen happen in the church.
  • I wear a suit most Sunday mornings but here's my first and last word about church attire. If it's a sexual temptation or unhygienic, it's a problem. Other than that, I'm "old-fashioned decorum" in the sanctuary (vesture, gesture, posture, following rubrics: my home is the Tridentine Mass) but "come as you are" for the laity. "The Catholic Church: here comes everybody."
  • Funny how the old college standbys of Catholic identity in America, such as Notre Dame, Fordham, and, locally, Villanova (although locals don't go there), don't mean jack to me. Vatican II did them in.
  • "Renfair shamanism." I'm stealing that one. Let me guess: when Fr. McGillicuddy does hieratic, sacral stuff, it's evil because it's oppressive, but when Big Chief Winterwind does it, it's beautiful and so spiritual. Liberals sometimes fetishize the Eastern rites that way (Orientalism, exoticism, anti-Westernism).
  • It's not about Latin. Cardinal Heenan (1967): If the Church is to remain truly the Catholic Church, it is essential to keep a universal tongue. Heretics such as Bugnini took our bishops for a ride (good thing the church is indefectible): next to nobody at Vatican II thought the Roman Canon would effectively be replaced and most assumed it would remain in Latin and maybe even in a low voice. Anyway, yes, but. An international language is useful for the church, as is a dead language in the sense that its meaning doesn't change. And everybody develops a sacred language eventually. That said, the more extreme Eastern-riters have a point that Catholic doesn't always mean Latin. (It doesn't always mean scholasticism, Thomism, either.) And I'm fine with vernacular translations of services. Mass in the vernacular isn't the problem. Right but it's the thing everybody harps on. People think I'm a traditionalist very conservative Roman Riter because I want to speak Latin.
  • A problem is the vernacular opens the door to ad-libbing and other "changes" not always in the rubrics. Perhaps the East, being more traditional in any case, is less prone to this problem. The pre-conciliar Roman Rite is just as traditional. The East doesn't traditionally use vernaculars. Again, everybody eventually comes up with a sacred language. For the Greek Orthodox it's medieval Greek, not ancient Greek, the Greek of the New Testament, or modern Greek. For the Russian Orthodox it's Slavonic, which educated Russians understand about as well as we do Chaucer.
  • A priceless moment captured in a photo. The master of ceremonies' face speaks for us all.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Good reasons to leave the Catholic Church

There is but one reason to leave the RC church: If you are convinced that the church which is truly Christ's body, of which we know that the portae inferi non praevalebunt eam, is to be found elsewhere. Then you need to go. But not because of some scrap of paper or because the grass is greener on the other side of the Bosporus or other nonsense.
Spiritual people often caution against converting in order to run away from something rather than toward something, and against converting generally unless it's for a very serious reason.

Become Orthodox only if you're convinced that we apostolic Christians outside the eastern Roman Empire got it wrong sometime around 1,000 years ago, not because of a document one of our people wrote last year or a country's bishops' conference overstepping its authority. Become Anglican only if you're convinced the medieval Catholic Church became heretical so Thomas Cranmer and his friends, inspired by the Holy Spirit through their diligent study of scripture and the church fathers, were called to purify the church in England to the pristine condition of the first Christians.

I'll refer you to something the late liberal Catholic Fr. Andrew Greeley wrote: don't leave us because, to give one of his examples, our churchmen sold indulgences to help rebuild St. Peter's Basilica. Leave us because, just like the Orthodox, we teach that God is encountered powerfully in sacred places.

The Sunday called Septuagesima


Septuagesima Sunday, so named because it's 70 days until Easter: the switch to purple, the run-up to Lent, is on. "Nice church but its clothes don't match." Mixed liturgical signals. My parish's high altar for the 'Gesimas as most Masses are Novus Ordo (we always use the altar rail); only mine, the mid-morning Sung Mass, is Tridentine. Fr. McKale's sermon was on the epistle: blessed calmness. "Every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things." Let temptations to resentment and vengeance pass over you like clouds.

Here are the collect, epistle, and gospel in Anglican English. Apparently Cranmer didn't object to Catholic doctrine in them so he kept and translated them.

Mass (its "name" is the first line of the Introit): Circumdederunt me gemitus mortus, dolores inferni circumdederunt me: et in tribulatione mea invocavi Dominum, et exaudivit de templo sancto suo vocem meam. The pains of hell came about me : the snares of death overtook me. In my trouble I will call upon the Lord : and complain unto my God. So shall he hear my voice out of his holy temple.

Collect: Preces pópuli tui, quǽsumus, Dómine, cleménter exáudi: ut, qui juste pro peccátis nostris afflígimur, pro tui nóminis glória misericórditer liberémur. Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum, Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.

O Lord, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle: 1 Cor. 9. 24.
Brethren: Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away. [...] I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased.

The Gospel: St. Matth. 20. 1.
At that time Jesus spake to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Possibly autistic saints, the sanctus bell, and Lourdes


  • Three saints who may have been on the autism spectrum. I'm reminded of pious spinsters such as St. Catherine of Siena (one of the few saints who graces my walls), a tertiary who lived with her parents, very Italian, not in a convent, Russian holy fools, and their Western version, St. Benedict Joseph Labré. Grace builds on nature, as I believe St. Teresa of Avila said. It's best to understand your nature, infirmities and all, so grace can flourish, but part of the moral of this story is God can work with anything. If you are a misfit not cut out for marriage (sex, parenthood) or for the monastery or convent, there is still a place at the Lord's table for you. A late friend who was a widowed grandmother, Alison Engler, an Anglo-Catholic who ended up in the Continuum: Protestantism doesn't know what to do with celibacy. Autism is a spectrum; not all are like the Rain Man. I don't much endorse current popular culture but to get a positive picture of high-end autism, Asperger's syndrome, watch TV's "Bones." The heroine is not to be pitied; sexy and successful, even socializing on her odd terms. And I recently saw a quotation saying Margaret Sanger's "soft-sell" eugenics is proving wildly more successful than the Nazis. For all the left's vaunted compassion, caring about the disabled, they really wish the autistic and other inconveniently impaired people were dead. There is evil in the world such as disability, a puzzle (theodicy). But unlike the secular world, which in the West is a bad knockoff of Christian ethics, saying it's merciful to murder these people, God hasn't given up on them.
  • The sanctus bell. Like much of our Mass's ceremonial, it's medieval. (The Byzantine Rite doesn't natively use this bell — latinized parishes do — but it's just as medieval ceremonially.) I first heard one not actually in church (I was Episcopal at the time, by birth, and my parish wasn't that high; Anglo-Catholicism didn't hook me in person until I was 17) but on the radio: Fr. DePauw's recorded Low Mass (the traditional Latin Mass, the cause he dedicated the latter half of his life too; before Vatican II he was a respected seminary professor, a canonist). I love it and my parish agrees so much that our white-gloved altar boys ring two of them!
  • "Immaculate Mary, thy praises we sing..." Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou. (St. Bernadette didn't originally speak French. Her language was Provençal, like Catalan, a halfway house between French and Spanish.) Today is the feast of title of "my parish officially and by choice," yet the event commemorated isn't part of the Catholic faith! Private revelation has a confusing place in the church. Contrary to what you might think, the church doesn't jump on apparitions (visions) to exploit them, nor are they part of our doctrine. The bishop's approval only means the event wasn't a hoax and its content isn't heretical. You don't have to believe in it, even though it's liturgically commemorated and you can name churches after it. (Medjugorje's not approved: the bishop said no, many years ago; case closed.) Lourdes of course is world-famous for healing; non-Catholics go there. A team of doctors scrupulously checks any alleged miracle there.
  • "Amoris Laetitia and my crisis of faith." Stepping into the fray for the good of souls.

Friday, February 10, 2017

"The renewal is too a success!": Rebuttal


Feedback from this yesterday. More rewarmed '80s leftovers:
With all due respect many of the closed/empty churches are the ones with traditional liturgies. Take many Byzantine Catholic churches for example. There are plenty of Latin Rite churches that have tried to be faithful to Vatican II that are packed and doing beyond well. Try visiting St. Joseph in Downingtown, PA for example. They have gone through three church buildings because they outgrew the previous one. Anyway, examples of growth abound.
Byzantine decline in America isn't because the liturgy's traditional; it's because it's a foreign minority culture. It may well disappear here, and that includes the Orthodox. They lose their kids and grandkids to assimilation. In the Latin Rite, old-fashioned is a magnet: my parish and St. John Cantius in Chicago, for example. Not having been, I credit a few things for St. Joseph's, Downingtown: fidelity to the church's teachings, the real gospel, plus a suburban concentration of Catholics in an already Catholic metropolitan area, boosted in this exurb partly due to white flight from the city and from inner suburbs such as mine in Delaware County. (White flight is also partly why Eastern-rite parishes are dying.) A friend and I were just talking about this: he pointed out that it's easy to hide decline and even simulate growth by concentrating your remaining people in fewer parishes and reducing the number of Sunday Masses so the remaining ones fill the building. Potemkin villages.

A big non-story: The Catholic Church and the attempted ordination of women


Not clickbait: "Pope polite to ecumenical guest."

Lifesite reports: The Catholic Church is not the Pope's personal fan club. I'm no fan of Francis but let's be fair. This headline is clickbait. Francis has a quality of unpredictability; nobody owns him, a quality of great men. Apparently he personally has no time for the attempted ordination of women and indeed, as his job requires (that's right; the Pope by definition has limits), he has repeated that it's impossible.

Of course you can list arguments for discussion as a teaching tool. Fr. Hunwicke says as a teacher he would be a sort of actor, impersonating someone with certain views, like what good debaters do, presenting the other side's position fairly, in terms the other side agrees with, before taking it apart. Mid-term he would "switch sides" and present the opposing view!

Fr. Bourgeois wasn't warned for having an academic discussion; to imply that is to buy into Black Legend nonsense about the church. He served at liturgies with ex-Catholic women ordained by independent churches claiming to be Catholic. An act of schism and simulating a sacrament: take your pick for the reasons for excommunication.

The church doesn't excommunicate as a knee-jerk reaction to questionable views. Fr. Pani should be warned and if he persists, thrown out.

The archbishop of the former state church of one of the world's most irreligious countries is now a woman. Have the congregations returned?

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Catholic neocon crap: "Living Vatican II"

Well-meant conservative Catholic crap is still crap. From John Paul the Overrated's reign, in 2004. Got my fill of this stuff from American Catholic clergy in the '80s. So Catholics for centuries before Vatican II were stuck-up babies. Try again. Any insights I can mine from this I can get from saintly Roman Catholics past such as Reginald Pole and from traditional Lutherans and traditional Anglicans, not to mention Byzantine worthies, without the arrogance. Mr. Johnston can have fun preaching his "renewal" in the empty/closed churches it caused.
Neocons are usually pretty clueless.
My local church, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, hasn't even hit bottom yet. It took decades to spend down the principal it had earned before Vatican II; while it had it, it claimed the "renewal" was a smashing success. Game over: parishes are closing like crazy and we're about to lose our seminary campus. The archbishop doesn't become a cardinal anymore because, frankly, the archdiocese isn't big or important enough anymore. So how's that "Christian maturity" with the deep, informed laity working out, Mr. Johnston? The collection basket's looking pretty light these days to this guy in the pew.
Similar to the Great Renewal that was supposed to occur in mainline Protestantism once the historical Jesus was located and the Social Gospel embraced. Turn the church into a liberal talking shop and watch the average age climb, year after year.
I'm in a no-man's-land between conservative and traditionalist; I accept the council on paper and believe in the grace and truth in Pope Benedict's English Mass. I belong to a Tridentine culture; I don't fetishize it. Come to think of it, the linked essay isn't really conservative, just a lite version of the stuff "progressives" dish out.

Intercommunion and more


  • Intercommunion: For all their being self-consciously Byzantine/unlatinized, some Melkites pushing intercommunion with the Orthodox without converting the Orthodox sound like Western liberal churchmen, not like Orthodox. Ironically, we don't intercommune because of what we have in common: every ancient apostolic church claims it's the only true one. By the way, quoting a semi-private blog (not mine), intercommunion "for pastoral reasons" in mixed marriages for example is giving the finger to everyone who converted on principle, like illegal immigration (undocumented means criminal) does that to people who came over by obeying the law. So is lending our churches to Protestants. (St. Peter's?!) Respectful people don't act like they're entitled to being treated like members of a community without being members.
  • Byzantine tidbits: At my part-time parish, the priest told me that you can stack up to eight commemorations (saints' days) in one day in the rite. And my eyes and ears tell me the truth: Slavonic (the traditional Slavic Byzantine liturgical language, that of Russian Orthodoxy) is closer to Russian than to Ukrainian; Ukrainian changed more. The Ukrainian Catholic Church has officially switched to Ukrainian; our Divine Liturgy has some of it. Father says some Ukrainian Catholic priests in the Ukraine don't like Slavonic because it reminds them of Russian including Soviet persecution; understandable. (The Ukrainian Catholic Church used to be all of the Ukraine and Byelorussia; the metropolitan of Kiev converted. Russian westward expansion as the Ukraine declined, including persecution, squashed that, reducing the Ukrainian Catholic Church to old Polish Galicia, its base now.) But I'm reminded of a good quotation I learned from an Episcopal Church bulletin recently: never use the liturgy for ulterior motives. When it's more about the blue-and-yellow flag, the tryzub, and Taras Shevchenko than Christ, your community will die by the third generation in America.
  • Vatican II was a mistake so we are best off acting like it never happened. Let it collect dust. It's about rules and policy recommendations, not doctrine, something most people don't understand about it. I remember Catholic books 30-40 years ago sounding like it was doctrine so to resist it was to oppose the Holy Spirit. I should have logically concluded that a religion that contradicts itself like that isn't worth taking seriously and taken up Buddhism or something. Chalk it up to the Holy Spirit that I didn't?
    Exactly. I am getting tired of people acting like it's the council of all councils. There were 20 other councils before that one.
    It was far worse right after it happened. Loyal churchmen like Gommar DePauw and Marcel Lefebvre were told they were effectively outside the church.
    The one good thing that came out of V2 was it helped the Eastern Catholics in reclaiming their traditions and stopping latinizations but then again those issues could've been solved without the need of a big grand council.
    A lot of good came of that but so did problems, as a visit to an online Byzantine fever swamp will show you: same self-righteousness as Western Catholic liberals with exactly the same target. I've only recently begun doing Byzantine things again because a Ukrainian Catholic parish moved from its slummified city closer to me, but the attitude I describe (and a lot of the online rabble leaves the church, and encourages you to) is why after I returned to the Catholic Church I didn't set foot in an Eastern-rite church again for four years. Both the unlatinized and the older version of latinized have a place in the church. I've been kicked off online fora for saying that.
    Same target?
    Pre-Vatican II Western Catholicism and even Catholic doctrine. By the way, real Slavic Byzantine Catholics, such as the community I worship with, don't think like that.

    All the good that Vatican II ostensibly tried to do could have been done with no harm to the faithful through a few papal pronouncements. The church already encouraged Eastern Catholics not to latinize; St. Pius X chartered the Russian Catholic Church partly for that reason. (My part-time, unofficial Byzantine practice is Russian. I know Russian and Slavonic so I understand written Ukrainian and set Ukrainian prayers but don't speak it. By the way, hooray for Putin, and Catholicism and Ukrainian nationalism aren't synonymous, nor Irish nationalism.) Pronouncements for a vernacular option for the traditional Mass, saying that American-style religious liberty is workable, and starting official Catholic participation in ecumenical talks (chance to teach the faith to Protestants).
    How have ecumenical talks with the Protestants worked out?
    Right; not very well. The mainliners inclined to talk to us are even farther from us now. Which hurt me as an Episcopalian (born into it) 35-40 years ago because I thought we were getting closer, then the Episcopalians ordained women. What's the point of dialogue under those conditions? The trouble with the council is its framers didn't really have the modest goals I just named. They wanted to overhaul the church for the space age, thinking like Protestants that they were great reformers who were making the church even better. A secularized, Protestantized, mid-century Zeitgeist, the same thing that begat the UN. So Bugnini wanted to rewrite the Mass, for example. Which the church can do, even though until then we never did, because the liturgy long wasn't a subject of historical study. Whether we should do that is another matter.
    Bugnini is the reason we can't have nice things.
    Vatican II and other church documents of the time play this game: praise a nice old thing, then effectively abolish it a few lines down by making it optional. If you wanted to keep the old things for any reason, priests would tell you that you were disobedient to the church and indeed to the Holy Spirit. No wonder I liked congregational Anglo-Catholicism better (historical irony: Vatican II is tame and yes orthodox compared to what Cranmer did).

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Lending St. Peter's to the Anglicans, Novus Ordo-fying the Tridentine Mass, and more


  • I'm starting to describe myself as a very conservative Roman Riter (and one functionally biritual with the Byzantine Rite) rather than traditionalist. The Tridentine Mass and offices are home, but I'm not on board with the "Novus Ordo is invalid" crowd.
  • I have no problem with Vatican II on paper. I think a vernacular option, religious liberty, and ecumenism are grand. In practice, it was a disaster so I live as though it never happened.
  • First-ever Anglican Evensong in St. Peter's, Rome. Mixed feelings. Pro: Choral Evensong is wonderful; not heretical at all, and better than the Novus Ordo in many places. Why not an ecumenism that shares this? Anglican English is my religious English. Con: We should not lend our churches to Protestants. I can't imagine an ancient Catholic bishop hosting the local Valentinian or Arian bishop, can you? I don't go to Lessons and Carols locally because I decided I can't appear to give witness to a false church (Episcopal), even one with which I share much culturally. We've been jawing with the Anglicans et al. for 50 years and having lots of gestures like this. How closer are they to returning to the church? It's indifferentism: they end up thinking they're just fine outside the church and keep moving away from us.
  • How the ordinary form of the Mass can "enrich" the extraordinary form. Twaddle from a conservative Novus Ordo priest who doesn't really like the Tridentine Mass. The three-year lectionary is dumb: people only remember a year's worth of readings, which is why all traditional readings are in a one-year cycle. Writing a new service from scratch is arguably a bad idea; while I'm fine with "low" and experimental services alongside mine, better that the Novus Ordo had never been written. That and the self-righteous churchmen who pushed this stuff did it to the exclusion of my Mass. That said, the Novus Ordo, in its original Latin and in the English translation approved by Benedict XVI, is not Protestant; I have no conscience problem with it and, with its baseline of orthodoxy, I even appreciate what the reformers were trying to do. Fr. Stravinskas harkens to the bad old 1980s under St. John Paul the Overrated (I don't have any devotion to the man) when putatively conservative Catholics adopted the party line, turning on traditionalists with a vengeance. If you told them you wanted the traditional Mass for any reason, they told you that you were bad (disobedient, "not open to the Spirit," and even no longer Catholic) or sick (emotional problems such as being "rigid"; sometimes true but look at how trads were treated, an understandable reaction). So he's entitled to his opinions, none of which here touch on doctrine, but I don't take him seriously. Here are some real "enrichments" that aren't my fantasy but my parish's practice: a conservative dialogue Mass in which the congregation sings or says some of the responses, an option introduced shortly before Vatican II, and, a big one, Anglican music. We have a pipe organ, prelude, processional and recessional hymns that are Anglican classics, and a postlude. We aren't re-enactors of '50s American Catholic practice; we're doing it better. And let's offer a vernacular option for our Mass.
  • "More Catholic than the Pope" leads to the schismatic bigotry of the Orthodox (been there; no thanks), the Old Catholics (now reduced to Episcopalian mush, a Middle European rump sect), and the fever swamp of sedevacantism (the CMRI for example, I understand a wicked, abusive cult that uses the trappings of my pre-conciliar Catholicism). False religion is always about self. Take a good thing and make an idol of it. In this case, worshipping being Catholic over worshipping God. That's a reason I like traditional Lutherans and classic Anglicans, hanging out with them online; they remind me to stay focused on Christ (Mass and office) and not major in the minors.
  • Pope Francis has ordered a review of the new Mass translation rules. If he undoes this reform, he'd still be Pope and I'd still be in the church but he would be dead to me. "More Catholic than the Pope" means thinking you're above the Pope's office, which exists to defend our doctrine; nothing to do with his opinions.
  • New blog-post label: Byzantine Catholicism. Nothing deep academically; just sketches of my introduction to it and how it still fits into my life. Russian Orthodoxy minus the attitude.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Apostolical succession, East and West


I like the Eastern Orthodox approach. If a bishop lays hands on a woman (to ordain her), she receives nothing and he is no longer a bishop. The East believes that the bishop has excommunicated himself in doing a deed contrary to God's will.

That's a distinct difference between the Eastern and Western approaches to ordination. In the West we tend to think of Holy Orders as adhering to the man ordained, who then, even if excommunicated, is a valid priest or bishop and whose acts, though perhaps illicit, are "valid." The East, on the other hand, tends to see ordination as belonging to the church and as valid only in the context of full communion with the Church. Thus the bishop ordaining a woman would, in the West, still be a valid bishop, while the one doing so in the East, by incurring excommunication, renders his ordination ineffective or void, and ceases to be a bishop. There are gradations and variations in these approaches but this is, in outline, the direction each takes.

I have always felt that the western understanding is mechanical, and it seems to assume that the Holy Spirit is compelled to act regardless of the orthodoxy (or even membership in the Church) of the priest. If an apostate or heretical priest, even one excommunicated by the Church, can consecrate the Eucharist, ordain, or absolve sin, then he is, in effect, able to make the Holy Spirit do his will. I do understand the historical reasons Augustine came up with this understanding, but I think he was mistaken and that Cyprian was correct on the matter. I think Lombard takes the same line as you when it comes to the Eucharist. He often seems more in accord with the Eastern Fathers than do most western writers.
"Grunt. East good. West bad. Make me feel better about not being Catholic."

I like the emphasis on the church first; it cuts out the byproduct of our Western Catholic sacramentology, the many independent bishops (vagantes). Rightly understood of course it's Catholic, as you can say about the Christian East generally. The problems here are you can fall for the heresy of thinking the validity of the sacraments depends on the worthiness of the minister, and the Orthodox are so narrow they don't really think we're even baptized, let alone ordained. With them, divorce and remarriage and now contraception are okay but we're not baptized. Go figure. To me they sound like they're idolizing their own tribe. No, thanks. So I'm glad the Catholic Church errs on the side of mercy, even if it means annoying vagantes junking up the Internet. What's really funny, given the real Orthodox' narrow sacramentology depending on being in the church, is when vagantes, who think "Orthodox" just means "high church without the Pope," claim they're Orthodox.

Those who have apostolic succession, such as Catholics and Orthodox, tend not to pull out charts to prove their "lines" of it.

I like our quasi-branch theory, not a divided church but that our criteria for valid orders, orthodoxy so basic the Nestorians pass, unbroken line of succession, and unbroken true teaching about the Eucharist (sacrifice made present and complete change of the elements, so the Anglicans are out), both take into account that every ancient church including ours claims it is the only true one yet the others are still part of the great Catholic family. Related: the first seven councils (Orthodox defined doctrine) and the Vincentian canon more or less give you Catholicism. Uncanny.

Good old Augustinian, Western Catholic sacramentology is why the Patriarch of Moscow is Msgr. Kirill to us (a bishop but without jurisdiction), not Mr. Gundyayev (not a bishop).
It is nonsense to say the Protestants although holding many heresies do not have the Holy Spirit and valid baptism. The Holy Spirit seems a lot less worried about heresy than we are!
Sounds Pope Francissy of me but I agree.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

"Functionally biritual"?! How does that work?


Biritualism is officially a clergy thing. A Roman Rite priest can get permission from an Eastern Catholic church to serve in it if he knows the rite well enough, etc., so he can help out in a parish, for example. To pray specifically for the Russian Orthodox to return to the church and for Communism to end in Russia, Fulton Sheen got that from the Ruthenian Church. I'm just a layman, but with my background and with a Ukrainian Catholic parish now almost in my neighborhood, having moved from a dying city, I say I'm functionally biritual. Divine Liturgy once a month and prayers in the Byzantine Rite often daily at home in front of icons from a late Russian gentleman (half are medieval style, half 19th-century; all very tsarist).

So, since that and the traditional Roman Rite are often not in sync, how does that work for me? If you're not closely following the office/hours, it's not hard.

First, you have to pick the dates for Easter and Christmas (and other fixed-date feasts) to follow. Most people don't know that the Catholic Church has two Easters and two Christmases! (Alas, not double the presents.) No problem. It's not doctrine, not about two Christs; just commemorations. Easy to choose in America, where most Greek Catholic (Byzantine Rite Catholic) churches have adopted both the Western date for Easter and the Gregorian calendar for fixed-date feasts. Until the '50s they were old-calendar here; nothing to do with Vatican II. The Orthodox are mixed: here they all keep their old, usually later date for Easter, but most have gone with the Gregorian calendar, so they have two Christmases too. Why the two calendars? The Julian calendar from Roman times was falling behind, so in the late 1500s the Pope's astronomers corrected it. That affected the calculation of the date for Easter and of course fixed-date feasts. Anti-Catholic countries put off adopting the new calendar; England (and thus America) didn't until the mid-1700s and Russia didn't until 1918 (and then only for secular use)! There is no doctrinal reason to keep the old calendar; it's science, not theology. But the Orthodox want to spite the Catholic Church. To which the church says, "No matter. It's not de fide. Want to use the old dates? Fine with us." Catholics in the Ukraine do, for example, just like the Russians.

With more informal versions of the offices, having a foot in each rite is doable; for example, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, sort of a quick tour of the Roman Breviary for laymen. Likewise, the Byzantine Rite has daily troparia and kontakia (equivalent to collects) that are tied to days of the week (the angels on Monday, St. John the Baptist on Tuesday, the cross on Wednesday and Friday, the apostles and St. Nicholas on Thursday, and all saints and the dead on Saturday; this includes the eves, the liturgical way). Just like the rosary is independent of the liturgical calendar.

So in Byzantine mode I follow the Gregorian calendar except for something big such as Russian Christmas, Jan. 7: troparion and kontakion of the day.

I keep Friday abstinence year round (that famous Catholic thing*) but not Wednesday, and the modern Roman Rite's fasting rules** but the traditional Roman and Orthodox midnight fast for Communion. Ideally I'd go to a friendly OCA (long story short, Russian Orthodox) parish for Saturday Vespers (since the Catholic parishes don't do it), part of the Russian discipline for receiving Communion, but my Saturday evenings aren't free. Don't worry; I wouldn't try to preach to anyone.

*You're supposed to pick an alternative self-discipline/self-denial/penance if you eat meat, but who does that? In practice the change was a sellout, a disparagement of fasting and a weakening of, yes, Catholic community. And by the way you don't have to eat fish; the story about Pope helping Italian fishermen's a joke.

**I can't do extreme fasting; deal with it. Thanks to "economy," many of the Orthodox don't do it either.

Latinizations, in my words: A perennial online topic

Remember when there were Stations of the Cross in Ukrainian Catholic parishes? I do not miss them; they replaced actual Eastern devotions. If they want to pray them, do it at home or at a Latin parish. I do not mind such devotions until they replace actual Eastern praxis. We are NOT just Latin Catholics with a funny Mass.
The issue is longstanding and more complicated than newcomers to Eastern Catholicism think (and there is more than one kind of Eastern Catholicism). First, you don't have to adopt Latin practices to be Catholic, the point of having the Eastern rites! I'll write about the Ukrainian Catholic Church, probably the best known of the Eastern Catholic churches as it's the largest and my part-time church home. (My Byzantine Rite practice is Russian; close enough. Even my icons are from a departed old Russian man's collection. Only a few big American cities have Russian Catholic parishes. I don't talk it into the ground, and my part-time parish is Americanized, not nationalistic.) In its act of union with Rome, in 1596 at Brest-Litovsk, no latinizations, not even the filioque, were required. The church never imposed that on them. Starting about 100 years later, they and other Eastern Catholics have been latinizing themselves.

Vatican II, which are rules, not doctrine, even though it's a valid council, seemed to be open season or target practice on traditional Latin Catholicism, as the Eastern rites were told to be more traditional but not latinized anymore. Like a kind of political correctness fetishizing the non-Western. But keeping the rites unlatinized is both objectively good and a witness to the Orthodox: their practice is entirely Catholic; we don't want to destroy their culture. (Not to be confused with Orthodox anti-Westernism though delatinization can superficially resemble it.) But what of generations-old Eastern Catholic communities such as the Ukrainians, who want and miss their Stations of the Cross? The church can and should accommodate them too, up to a point. The congregation at my part-time parish didn't ask for the delatinizations and actually kind of resents them. So much for the online convert's fantasy of Eastern Catholics as closeted Orthodox resenting the evil Latins.

Which brings me to this point: often the newcomers and the locals have different ideas about the Eastern Catholic enterprise. Like most people who come from outside, I see it as a tribute and witness to the best in Orthodoxy. I tried being Orthodox, for many years; now this stuff is a personal offering from me to God through the Catholic Church. I believe everything the magisterium teaches. There are two extremes in approaches to Eastern Catholicism. You have the outsider who joins and over-identifies with the Orthodox, being rude about the locals' latinizations, lecturing them about their own church, and dissenting from Catholic teaching, such as about the Pope (which even well-meaning Catholics often exaggerate). There aren't many of them but they're noisy online; most eventually get fed up with Eastern Catholics and become Orthodox. At the other end you have the typical Ukrainian-American or Ruthenian-American who doesn't identify with or even think about the Orthodox; he wants to keep his Stations and rosary and be left in peace. That's the community I worship with, even though the priest has obeyed orders and created something that seems and is meant to seem Orthodox (the congregational plainsong version led by a diak at the kliros in back, which is great; not the Russian choral stuff, due partly to lack of resources): no more filioque, statues, Stations, or kneeling. My part-time parish sometimes sings "Immaculate Mary," the Lourdes hymn, after Liturgy; the people want it.

Yes; do the other rite's devotions at home if you want to. Rite is both to teach and keep order in church; home devotion is a free-for-all. Prayer is prayer. You can stick to one form of one rite, more than one form of one rite, mix rites, or make up your own. You can even have your own canon of saints such as dead relatives.

The church tolerates some latinizations in the parishes, lest we destroy those communities (and some including mine are endangered; aging — both Catholic and Orthodox Eastern-rite churches don't do well in America after three generations). Suppressing living generations-old devotions to try to replace them with "actual Eastern praxis" that has died out can be foolish; destructive spiritually and to the life of a community. Artificial. My approach is there should be unlatinized "Orthodox" parishes (examples are many Melkite parishes and the few Russian Catholic ones) and latinized ones up to a point; horses for courses. The Catholic Church has many cultures. I've been kicked off online Byzantine fora for defending that and for defending Catholicism. Not latinizations, Catholicism.

I don't mind latinizations in Eastern contexts as long as they're pre-Vatican II/of long standing and don't make up more than half the practice. I don't introduce them; everything I do at my part-time parish is Orthodox. But I don't talk down about them either. I shut up and listen, and "teach by example."

At coffee hour after Mass, and our people call it Mass, we don't talk about apophatic theology, having the right phronema, fasting recipes, or seeing the uncreated light. I listen to stories of the once-thriving city neighborhood they regretfully left, one of many happy Catholic neighborhoods, this one being different with the rite and, at the time, the language. We're all trying to be better people and get ready for our court appearance when we check out (I'm in my 50s; it's on my mind).

Saturday, February 04, 2017

How the church handles heresy: Probably not what you think

A nun in Spain is enjoying the media limelight; probably a bad thing (look up what happened to the Singing Nun). So she's shooting her mouth off: "Mary wasn't a virgin!" This is from a tabloid but still.

I'm not her bishop but I would start the proceedings against heresy. Warn her, and if she persists, throw her out.

Our holy mother the church doesn't handle heresy like our Protestant hosts in Britain and America think we do (the popular notion about the Inquisition with torture, the Black Legend of Spain, and all that). Historically we don't kick out everyone who has wrong views. Goofy Aunt Terri who thinks a woman should be Pope is fine. Even the Pope's opinions can be wrong; his job (all we care about) is limited to defending our doctrine. To be a heretic you have to 1) be in a position of authority and trust so you could do harm, such as a priest or professor, 2) be in a position to know better, such as someone with a Catholic theological education (we don't punish the ignorant), and 3) be warned; the church doesn't sucker-punch you with excommunication. And even excommunication isn't what you think. We don't issue tickets to hell; we're not that arrogant. It's a warning that you're in grave error, asking you to come back.

Fulton Sheen: People don't hate the Catholic Church; they hate what they think we are.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Anglicans retconning history

Patrick Sheridan went to the Society of King Charles the Martyr's official celebration in England and left this report under my previous post.
It's billed as 1637 BCP, despite looking and sounding like a Roman high mass in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.
A lot of Anglo-Catholicism is retrospective conversion of history and wishful thinking, not really Anglican. Charles I and William Laud were accused of being crypto-Catholics, and to his credit that king didn't actively persecute us (his wife was Catholic!), but they denied the accusation of wanting to return England to Rome. To buy this kind of Anglicanism, it seems you have to believe that magisterial Protestantism with the episcopate and Catholicism are really the same. The late Michael Davies once wrote that to say that isn't fair to the courage of the early Protestants, some of whom died for their newly created faith. One of his points: when Protestants use realistic-sounding language about the Eucharist, they don't mean what we do. Christ's saving work is all in the past, so no Mass.
I counted twenty homosexuals in attendance, four of them at the makeshift altar (now set against the wall, pointing south; whereas in the days of Fr Thompson it was in plano with a throne set against the wall, much nicer). One of the clergy present looked me up and down and then turned away.
Among the good things Anglicans have taught me are that semi-congregationalism can be a hedge against liberalism and to be kind to homosexuals. They can be kind in return, and the ones famously drawn to high churchmanship love the creeds and the traditional liturgy as much as I do. If they don't attack Catholic teaching and don't commit crimes, it's none of my business; it's between God, their confessors, and them. Over here, as Episcopal semi-congregationalism has stopped working for conservative high churchmanship, a number of them have joined or returned to the Catholic Church. Pushed against the wall, they really believe in all this Catholic stuff and likely would die for the faith. It wasn't an act.

Seemingly up and coming in Episcopalianism is liberal high churchmanship (St. Mark's, Philadelphia, for example, where I stopped by recently), the new Anglo-Catholicism: no longer Unitarianism with tat (early-mid 1900s) but at the same time more liberal than Catholic liberals can dare to be yet loving the creeds and the old liturgy, worshipping much as I do, something that would make a Catholic liberal's head explode ("does not compute"). It's like something I'd come up with to try to make my faith more accepted. God had other plans.

The Continuing Anglicans, on the other hand, give lip service to magisterial Protestantism but in practice are the fantasy of a Popeless Latin Catholicism. I don't think the gaggle of independent bishops is what God had in mind for the West.

Back to Anglican retconning of history and wishful thinking: you get the impression from the mainstream Church of England and Episcopal Church that Henry VIII drove England into schism, killing when necessary ("sorry about that, chaps"), because he was on a godly mission to have women clergy and same-sex marriages, which seem to be modern Anglicanism's reasons to exist. Logically, Protestantism takes you there and beyond, to secular humanism (loss of faith as Christianity's fulfillment; Christian ethics minus Christ). Which is why next to nobody still goes to the Episcopal Church.

I won't deny a broad parallel between the two Charleses I, but see above on the Catholic/Protestant difference and the latter monarch wasn't killed.

Giving Charles I of England his due: how many of us would be brave enough to have our heads cut off rather than abandon our post as the father in a sense of one's people and to defend the episcopate and liturgical worship (against both today's evangelicals and secular liberals, for instance)?

Classical Anglicans believe in a true church, just like me; the trouble is they think theirs is it ("both Catholic and Reformed").

If 1637 BCP with no Romish ceremonial accretions is your thing, then Anglicanism is for you. If you want the Roman High Mass, then join us! (Western Rite Orthodoxy is culturally fake and another retconning of history. The Eastern rites in the Catholic Church, though not perfect, and you don't have to believe the Uniates are perfect in order to be Catholic, are culturally real: generations/centuries-old Christian communities.)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

King Charles the Martyr-er?


I have in a frame on the wall two old prints of portraits of Anglican Cavaliers, as much a part of my heritage as my Spanish ancestry. They were appreciably close to us, but...
Should the Ordinariate be permitted to keep the Anglican cult of St. Charles Stuart? He could have saved his earthly life by ending the episcopacy of the Church of England. All kinds of contentious things surface here, such as “was there any episcopacy left in the C of E?,” and Eastern churches being reunited with Rome yet allowed to keep their post-schism saints, etc.
No. I was active but not officially a member at St. Clement's, Philadelphia when it was last Anglo-Papalist, in the 2000s. Then the king's statue was taken down and I was told that a few Catholics were killed during his reign. Because he was born outside the church, he gets the benefit of the doubt, but he died for a kind of magisterial Protestantism with bishops, not Catholicism. It is a kind of Reformed Christianity, so no more real episcopate, as Leo XIII wrote. By the way, here's the Anglo-Papalist position: "We were born outside the church so we get the benefit of the doubt, and thanks to imported Old Catholic orders validating ours, we accept the church's teaching in Apostolicae Curae." We accept post-schism Orthodox saints (though I happen not to have icons of them on display) because doctrinally they're estranged Catholics, not Reformed.

We include the Christian East: Why I am still a Catholic even though I don't like Pope Francis


An example regarding why I am a Catholic forever: I have a Russian icon corner. The church says I in good faith can. (And I love using the Orthodox forms I've learned, but now to serve the Catholic Church.) The Orthodox would ban my Western Catholic sacramentals if I were one of them and they knew of my having those things, their little halfhearted Western Rites notwithstanding (which are so byzantinized it's ridiculous). We include the Christian East. They don't really include us. I am grateful to the Anglicans of my baptism, etc., for a certain humane approach (which Peter Robinson named "tolerant conservatism" for me) and for beautiful English I still use, but it's a kind of magisterial Protestantism, a branch of the Reformed faith, not the Popeless Catholicism that modern high churchmen think it is. Fr. Jonathan Mitchican, an Episcopal priest in my area and a former Catholic, has explained Anglicanism beautifully at his blog, The Conciliar Anglican. Fr. Hunwicke has explained the papacy: it's about the office, which is part of the church, not about the man. I liked Benedict XVI; I don't like Francis. No matter; I'm not a priest so the Pope's not my employer.