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Saturday, December 03, 2016

A blast of high churchmanship


Wow. At first I thought this was Cardinal Burke. It's at St. Silas, Kentish Town in London (their patronal festival in July), part of an Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism that was "Romanized" or even Anglo-Papalist (the former don't believe everything in Catholicism but love our liturgy; the latter said they believe all we do). I guess they're Romanizers, because when offered the chance to come into the church they remained in the Church of England; alas. In Philadelphia, St. Clement's is like this. It's vacillated between Romanized and Anglo-Papalist; now it's Episcopal in fact as well as in name (I don't go there anymore) so Romanized it is. In some cases, such people were the only ones in town doing this stuff, so while pushing a true-church claim against us (what most Anglo-Catholics were about) is wrong, thanks.

Oddly, no maniples, so they're not following the Tridentine Mass (I knew that about this place), even though you can use them in the Ordinary Form.

SSPX "poachers" and confusing form and substance

From Church Militant: SSPX poachers. The SSPX has a habit of luring the faithful away from diocesan-approved Traditional Latin Masses.

I sought out and went to the SSPX for a year in the '80s when there was no diocesan-approved traditional Latin Mass. They do much good, often being the only kind of Catholic orthodoxy in their area, and we have the old Mass back in the official church thanks to them. (That is, thanks to church authorities reacting to them.) The article is essentially right (the SSPX does confuse form and substance; don't leave the church even for an apparent good such as the traditional Mass; a good thing put above the church becomes an idol) but let me explain. In the '70s through the '90s, the ruling liberals in most of the American Catholic Church, besides often being heretical ("Jesus isn't God, the church is fallible, the Eucharist is just a symbolic meal," political correctness), were just as culturally idolatrous and self-righteous as we traditionalists are accused of. They told aspiring high churchmen such as me (born Episcopal, which although it is usually just as liberal as our liberals, isn't anti-high church; "high and wide," they often worship like we do) that we were bad (sinning, leaving the church) and/or mentally ill (Pope Francis' cracks about "rigidity" are more of the same; by the way, the Pope's opinions don't matter) for wanting to worship as had been done for centuries and well reflecting all our teachings. The church may be defectible and fallible in their view, but by God, they said, they were the church and we were to obey. No wonder I left the church for a long time (even doing the unthinkable, returning to an Episcopal parish: conservative, left in relative peace because of semi-congregationalism, and not rigid/self-righteous nor condescending; Anglo-Catholicism is almost the right faith, taught by the wrong side). Part of it was I was confusing form and substance, but that's exactly how Catholic liberals presented things to me in the '80s (their form "was" the church; take it or leave it). I don't mind if some Catholics want to be low-church (low and modern but not heretical: Catholic charismatics, the other American Catholics who still go to Mass); I object to the pathology I just described (which Thomas Day describes perfectly, with roots going back to before Vatican II) as well as to heresy. The church has several rites (and sub-rites such as the Novus Ordo) and many schools of spirituality and speculation, which don't always like each other even though all are Catholic. The first English Novus Ordo was borderline heretical (because of the dumb idea of "dynamic equivalence," paraphrasing, not translating); Benedict XVI "the Great" (not even that conservative, just Catholic) corrected that. Now, I have no conscience problem with the new Mass; as long as it's by the book, we're good. (The earliest, lowest Sunday Mass has been a mainstay for 45+ years for orthodox Catholics with no other official option.)

I belong to a parish 15 minutes from home that's conservative and has the Tridentine Mass as its main Sunday Mass, which I go to most of the time, and, having been Russian Orthodox (the Orthodox make the mistake too of confusing a culture with the whole church; a good traditional culture entirely Catholic), I also support the nearest Byzantine Catholic parish, which happens to be Ukrainian, going to it 12 times a year (one Sunday a month). (By the way, my first traditional Catholic Mass in person over 30 years ago was Ukrainian, one of the only places in the official church where traditional worship was still tolerated.) Been active as a Catholic again for five years and will go to a liberal parish to cover my Sunday or holy-day obligation. Grounded in small-o orthodoxy and, I dare say, far more "openness" than any Catholic liberal showed to me.

Looking to the right of the SSPX, the sedevacantist scenario can happen. (Again, given "Catholic" liberals' arrogance, presuming to speak for the church, no wonder since the '70s some traditionalists have thought apocalyptically.) It hasn't so far.

I've known enough "religious" people in my half-century on earth, and tried being one, to realize that much of the time it's just a prop, a game, or entertainment, like a hobby; left and right. Goofball clergy including Popes aren't my problem; God saw fit not to call me to be a priest so they're not my bosses, thank God. Don't get me wrong; I believe. I don't have much religion, but the religion I have is Catholic, culturally before 1965, and I don't settle for imitations.

Most Catholics use the new Mass and don't want Latin. Pope Benedict's Mass delivers the goods and comforts many, but it is not my home. The gates of hell can't prevail against Rome; I'm confident that the reform of the reform will eventually win. (Familiar to me; it's a lot like Anglo-Catholics unprotestantizing the old Book of Common Prayer.) The Tridentine Mass will keep going as a minority. Kids realize liberal Christianity isn't worth a second thought; the few religious kids want real religion.

P.S. Latin is great; long a common second language for European intellectuals, a template for sound theology and liturgy in the West, and pretty, the Romance languages' mother. "Sacred languages" are just something people naturally do. (English-speaking Protestants did it with the King James Bible.) But traditionalism isn't about Latin. Witness the Eastern rites plus Anglo-Catholics translating our services, reflected in the practices of the ordinariates.

Update: A sharp reader points out that "diocesan-approved traditional Latin Masses" simply means "traditional Latin Masses in the official church." Thanks to Benedict the Great's Summorum Pontificum, we don't need the bishop's permission.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The papacy for dummies

The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church," [Matthew 16:18], should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied. From this hope and faith we by no means desire to be separated and, following the doctrine of the Fathers, we declare anathema all heresies, and, especially, the heretic Nestorius, former bishop of Constantinople, who was condemned by the Council of Ephesus, by Blessed Celestine, bishop of Rome, and by the venerable Cyril, bishop of Alexandria. We likewise condemn and declare to be anathema Eutyches and Dioscoros of Alexandria, who were condemned in the holy Council of Chalcedon, which we follow and endorse. This Council followed the holy Council of Nicaea and preached the apostolic faith. And we condemn the assassin Timothy, surnamed Aelurus ["the Cat"] and also Peter [Mongos] of Alexandria, his disciple and follower in everything. We also declare anathema their helper and follower, Acacius of Constantinople, a bishop once condemned by the Apostolic See, and all those who remain in contact and company with them. Because this Acacius joined himself to their communion, he deserved to receive a judgment of condemnation similar to theirs. Furthermore, we condemn Peter ["the Fuller"] of Antioch with all his followers together together with the followers of all those mentioned above.

Following, as we have said before, the Apostolic See in all things and proclaiming all its decisions, we endorse and approve all the letters which Pope St. Leo wrote concerning the Christian religion. And so I hope I may deserve to be associated with you in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the whole, true, and perfect security of the Christian religion resides. I promise that from now on those who are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the Apostolic See, will not have their names read during the sacred mysteries. But if I attempt even the least deviation from my profession, I admit that, according to my own declaration, I am an accomplice to those whom I have condemned. I have signed this, my profession, with my own hand, and I have directed it to you, Hormisdas, the holy and venerable pope of Rome.
— Formula of Pope St. Hormisdas, 6th century

"The papacy for dummies": Christians believe Jesus was God and founded only one church. That church has a head bishop who under some circumstances has certain powers, such as to define doctrine. And what has he defined since roughly the time we clarified the extent/limits of those powers? Things about Mary that Catholics already believed. That's how it works. He's a caretaker, not a creator of doctrine.

19th-century Anglicans were admirably "conservative" like the Orthodox with their scruples about the development of doctrine (only a theory of Newman's, not our doctrine!) regarding the Pope. Really, I think that they imagined the 21st century as having the Episcopalians, the one true church (churchmen such as Charles Grafton believed that), holding fast to the ancient faith, creeds, apostolic ministry, morals, and all, while that madman in Rome did things such as attempt to ordain women and marry the same sex.

Western Catholicism without the Pope is a will-o'-the-wisp as the history of both Anglicanism and "independent" bishops shows, That said, I respect fellow Westerners who can't quite accept the Pope for theological reasons, not just bigotry like much of the Christian East: Continuing Anglicans and Missouri Synod Lutherans, for example, our estranged but still close cousins.

And... although classical Anglicans see us as in grave error (put on your fireproof suit to read the Thirty-Nine Articles), they claim the episcopate from us and recognize us, our bishops, our sacraments, as still Catholic too. Near me lives an Episcopal priest, an ex-Catholic, I have the utmost respect for; he is a marvelous Anglican apologist in C.S. Lewis' league. The sanctuary of his middle-of-the-road parish church has a mural from the 1950s depicting their understanding of holy orders that literally includes the Pope. I find that moving.

Pictured: St. Pius X, foe of Modernism (Protestantism on steroids, the heresy of heresies) and "founder" of the Russian Catholic exarchate (nec plus, nec minus, nec aliter: you don't have to give up your Orthodox customs to be Catholic).

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Political ramble

I like Edmund Burke from what I know of him (and I'm not that learned), but "authoritarian" is not a dirty word. Burkean conservatism is made to order for English-speaking peoples. Russia and the Hispanic world are more traditional, naturally authoritarian. I'm flexible politically. I would welcome a Ron Paul (I stood literally in the rain to see him, twice), a Francisco Franco, a prince of Liechtenstein (there's traditionalist conservatism: have lots of little countries), or an Austrian emperor. I like legitimism: different politics for different peoples at different times. (Fences make good neighbors; separate countries are good.) The Nazis of course were actually "progressive," in their arrogance wanting to bulldoze non-German European traditions and maybe even German ones. A new order for a new, 20th-century man. Sound familiar? A lot like the Bolsheviks they fought in the streets. Or our neocons (what has passed for American conservatism since World War II), who are really Trotskyite radicals wanting to knock down tradition for "progress" worldwide; "nation-building" (let's invade Iraq and turn it into California, for their own good). Authoritarianism doesn't mean totalitarianism.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Vatican II, approaches to liturgical change, and the importance of culture

The Second Vatican Council suggested changes in policy and regulations; it didn't define any doctrine.
I regret to inform you that it did. Given that it was billed as the succeeding Council to the First Vatican Council, it (V2) was granted the same infallible status as V1. (Not to mention the heteropraxis of V2, but there is more than enough material on that from both Catholic and non-Catholic sources.) The SSPX try to get around that by saying that the Council did not have the power to change the liturgy, but the reality is that if you claim to be Catholic, and worship with the Novus Ordo, then you are compelled by the teachings of V2 to uphold them.
Vatican II is infallible in theory and it would have been if it defined doctrine, but while it was intended to balance Vatican I by pointing out the powers of the episcopate (while Vatican I defined doctrine about the papacy), it didn't actually issue an equivalent of Pastor Aeternus, the document that explains (limiting, as Fr. John Hunwicke rightly says) papal infallibility. It quoted past definitions. Vatican II is rhetoric and rules, not doctrine.

We would be better off coming clean that it was a failure and shelving it. (Pope Benedict XVI — actually not conservative, just Catholic — almost did and look what happened to him.)

(Example: our archdiocesan seminary is selling its campus. "How's that 'renewal' working out for youse?")

"The SSPX try to get around that by saying that the Council did not have the power to change the liturgy, but the reality is that if you claim to be Catholic, and worship with the Novus Ordo, then you are compelled by the teachings of V2 to uphold them."

The SSPX do much good (face it; we have our Mass back in the official church thanks to them) but if this is really what they say, they're wrong on this.

The church can rewrite services, and after (not at) Vatican II it did, but historically it didn't. Churchmen didn't study the liturgy as history so they didn't know where much of it came from. Because of that, they chose to be cautious, changing the liturgy as little as possible, lest they omit something essential. The liturgy does change, but it was either minor rules (there were many tweaks to the Tridentine Mass) or very slow and non-directed (custom that eventually became rules). All of this applies to all rites (such as the Eastern ones).

I have no conscience problem with Benedict XVI's English Novus Ordo. That's right; I'm not that extreme. (I actually have little religion but what religion I have is Catholic before 1965.) I can worship in spirit and in truth at it, and going to a quiet, by-the-book celebration (like orthodox Catholics' mainstay for over 40 years; little or no attempt at music), even in liberal parishes, I appreciate what the old, orthodox liturgical renewal was trying to do. The basics: collect (troparia in the Greek Rite), epistle, gospel, offertory, consecration, and Communion; the Mass is the Mass. But the new Mass is not my home, and if my Mass were taken away and I didn't have or decided against the Greek Catholic option (which I do choose monthly), I wouldn't get any joy or identity out of church. I'd go when I was told, put my envelope in the basket (one of the precepts of the church), try to follow the teachings, and that would be that. (Yes, know Jesus personally, but losing my church culture would hinder that.) Religious obligations would be nothing more than that. I'd get all my pleasure in life somewhere else, like the normies.

(Assuming we still have Benedict's reform. Working in our favor right now: Pope Francis doesn't care about liturgy and doesn't speak English.)

I have no problem with other Catholics wanting a pared-down service (the church has several rites and sub-rites, and many cultures, signs that it's true); I do with the pathologically anti-high church mentality that Thomas Day described (a problem the Episcopalians, historically Reformed and definitely still not Catholic, long have not had anymore, ironically; old-fashioned Anglo-Catholicism is almost the right faith taught by the wrong side), which is actually historically and culturally self-hating and is often associated with heresy, a kind of Protestantism (a made-up Christianity starting in the 1500s) or worse.

I have a diocesan magazine that came out when Benedict the Great's reform was implemented, almost exactly five years ago, with an article by the seething, aging low-church liberals/heretics who are still church officialdom in many places. Forced to acknowledge the reform, they decided to headline the story "Embracing liturgical change" as though this were an objective good and the church's normal practice. Sounds Orwellian; take a people's culture away and you own them. The Bolsheviks would smile.

Dumb idea behind bad "liturgical renewal": any form of "active participation" is good, no matter how inane.

By the way, Novus Ordo is a nickname, not an official church term. Officially it's the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, but I like Msgr. Klaus Gamber's idea that while it's a valid Catholic rite, and a Western and Latin rite, because it no longer exclusively uses the Roman Canon, it's no longer the Roman Rite.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

We won


President-elect Trump.

Almost as good as when Joseph Ratzinger became Pope.



I was wrong and couldn't be happier about it. I was sure Trump would win the popular vote while Clinton and her backers would rig the election to get enough electoral votes. The Trumpening didn't win the popular vote but we were strong enough to win enough big electoral-vote states (despite Clinton predictably getting New York and California, liberal megalopolises, for example) to win the election for him fair and square. My vote counted for once; I help give him Pennsylvania. Once he had it, getting another state was just a formality, and it happened. Glory to God.

Could it be? Is Middle America finally getting enough steam to say to the folks in charge since the Sixties, "You're fired"? Hoped Reagan would do that. Maybe this time. It's our only shot and maybe our last. Kings, the old American republic, and caudillos are fine with me (and with the church); Trump will do. Plus he's entertaining.

Predictable: the coasts were hers while Trump has the hearts of the heartland. Proud citizen of Dumbf*ckistan here. If the coastal lefties want to secede they can go ahead.

The media are ginning up angry mobs in our cities against President-elect Trump. So they want a civil war yet accuse us of being violent.

"Love trumps hate." Unless you're an inconvenient baby.

You don't have to like Trump personally. Chronicles' William Murchison gets it: "He alone stood between us and the cultural and economic pillage contemplated by Hillary Clinton."
"Fellow Democrats, we made a mistake. We fielded a candidate who lacked integrity and was saddled with so much ethical baggage that our voting base could barely stomach voting for her. Furthermore, we gave the candidacy to her after stealing it from the hands of a candidate who had tons of personal integrity and loads of popular support, deserving the nomination. So let's own up to it, and admit that we lost the election due to the complete failure of our own party to listen to our base and field a vote-worthy candidate."

That would be amazing to hear.
Sanders would have been a worthy opponent. I doubt the Democrats will scare up somebody that decent next time.
The US has just managed to avert a constitutional crisis had Clinton been elected then later charged.
What's funny is the same people who hated Nixon in '74 would have defended her. At least Nixon never killed anybody. Watergate was a fraternity prank he didn't even need, and he learned that stuff from Kennedy.


Hillary for prison. Think she'll leave the country? If our man had lost, he wouldn't have had to think about fleeing to someplace nonextraditable, which is what I'd be doing now if I were her. My guess is in any event because she is so ill, she'll die soon. Be she in prison or hiding, she's not my problem anymore.

The morning after our big win, I'm in liberal Philadelphia, getting into an elevator with my hands full so I ask someone in it to push the button, even saying please. I don't remember exactly what the youngish, snobbish man said but it was basically "do it yourself." He then proceeds to complain about the election outcome with the older lady also on board. I wasn't wearing a Trump pin and didn't even bring it up. My mere existence annoys this fellow. As one writer has observed, that attitude from that side is exactly why mine won. We're taking our country back.

Oh, yeah, that stuff about our man disparaging women?


Melania and Ivanka: literally, what a beautiful First Family. Three cheers for Slavic beauty.


An Episcopal minister quoting the HuffPo has tried to shame people like me who voted Trump into office by saying it was really because I'm out to get blacks. News to me. That narrative is getting very tiresome.

Newspapers are both biased and outdated. The morning after our win, the local subway rag, part of a worldwide chain, had a tired story about Election Day at the polls with the headline "It's Over." Today? A picture of the president-elect but the headline "What Now?" about the details of the election in Pennsylvania. NOTHING about the history that has just been made, like him or not. That's not journalism. I only pick up the thing to do the crossword riding the subway.

A friend:
There are a lot of people calling for kindness and peace following the historic Trump victory over the Clinton political machine. The argument is that we need to start working on healing the wounds of division.

I strongly disagree with this sentiment.

The wounds of division are the hallmark of the progressive political strategic arsenal. Progressive contempt for the American people, their hatred for middle America, is on full display. These people hate the common man. Progressives look down their elitist noses at those Americans that sweep floors, wait on tables, drive heavy duty trucks, work construction, wrench on vehicles, work in factories, work in coal mines, work as electricians and plumbers, volunteer at churches, and donate their time and money to help the poor. These are the people that did not want Hillary Clinton and her husband to waltz back into the White House in order perpetuate an economic climate that makes their lives that much harder. These are the people that did not want to see their sons die overseas in a war that Mrs. Clinton was sure to force onto the nation. In the twisted mind of the secular progressive, and in the evil darkness of their heart, they view such people as racists. Not because they have done anything racist, but because many of them are white. For the progressive, actions don't determine the label a person earns, it is the categories invented by the left. If you are white, you are a racist. That is the depth of progressive analysis. They view these hard working, dedicated, patriotic, caring, loving, American citizens as uneducated and stupid. Let me say this loud and clear: there is more critical thinking taking place on a shop floor when a diesel mechanic is working an overhaul, than four years of courses in gender studies classrooms.

Letting down our guard is exactly what progressives want us to do. The Trump victory has forced their ugliness to emerge for all to see. Progressives don't love democracy, although they shout it it in your face from their safe-spaces. They hate democracy when they don't get what they want, which is why you see them protesting a completely legitimate presidential election. They see their ideology being defeated by the very people they have shouted down for the last 40 years.

Now is not the time for peacemaking.

You cannot make deals with the devil.

Now is the time for vigilance.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Let's not take the bait


  • Old news: Sick, crooked Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" remark, a kind of class sneer. There was the "yeah, I'm a deplorable and proud of it" reaction; understandable. "Agree and amplify" can be good to defuse that stuff but we don't want to fall for bait either, nor let the other side frame the discussion ("Am not! Why, some of my best friends are..."). On that note, the left keeps shoving race in our face hoping one of us will snap and say something nasty about race.
  • Barney Fife runs North Carolina. Something to think about: don't surrender in the culture war (rather, a retreat with honor like the Ukrainian Catholic Church, where I worship once a month, going underground under the Soviet ban) but maybe let's not take the bait and get Barney Fife-ish about any trannies using the ladies' room in North Carolina. Take away the left's pulpit: secure the stalls or put an inside lock on the door, and just call it a restroom or a family restroom (yeah, stick it to the left that way) and best of all, ignore them (the left). I was taught not to pick on people with problems.
  • School district declares "gorilla war" on employee speech. From Rational Review, left-libertarian but a useful non-mainstream source of real news. We are not free; social media are in part a trap, tricking you into helping potential enemies surveil you. A school district fired a teacher's aide, not even a teacher, for calling Michelle Obama a gorilla and saying that Muslims have no business being in America, neither of which was at work in person or posted on a work site on work time but on her private Facebook page. (Who will they go after next to prove their righteous anger, the old white janitor?) The government shouldn’t be allowed to punish people for what they say. There’s a word for that. That word is “censorship.” The content of Allen’s personal, non-work Facebook profile was and is, quite simply, none of the school district’s business. Firing her is essentially fining her, in the amount of all future wages and retirement benefits she would otherwise have earned, for the “crime” of having opinions the district’s officials disagreed with, and for expressing those opinions on her own time and using her own resources. "People were offended," based on the distorted Christian gospel of niceness, is the workplace truncheon or whip of the 2010s.
  • Whither Sanders' supporters? Face to Face says the blue-collar ones have switched to Trump.
  • Why Trump. Skewering the holier-than-thou opposition. "Ew, he sounds like a dockworker." = "I'm afraid of a candidate who appeals to dockworkers." (Language.)
  • My guess. Trump owns the popular vote. (He's all we've got so he's got my vote.) George Soros and the elite in both parties are fixing the election so Clinton will get enough electoral votes. She'll drop dead in office so boomer Modernist Catholic Tim Kaine (that impolite creep in the recent debate with Catholic-turned-evangelical Mike Pence) will be president.
  • A Catholic angle on this election dog-and-pony show. The two would-be veeps illustrate a big story from Sixties America, that the Protestants got their wish (partly because of our misstep of Vatican II) of neutralizing and assimilating the country's big Catholic minority (also, the Pill, and the Rockefellers buying off Fr. Hesburgh); the "Catholics" in this case are just a mainline Protestant/secular humanist (same thing) vs. an evangelical. (Conservative Protestantism is liberal Protestantism on the slow train; fundamentalists mean to defend the faith but, not having the church, don't know how.) Catholics who actually try to follow Catholicism are a small minority.
  • All signal, no virtue. Photo from Goodbye America.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

"No Ordinary Fool"



I recently read No Ordinary Fool. Fr. John Jay Hughes is very nice, a WASP gentleman, understanding the heart of the Christian message. His main ministry seems to be writing sermon topics to help other priests. Primarily an academic, not a pastor, he's a retired priest of the St. Louis Archdiocese. And an Anglo-Catholic alumnus, the son of a high-Episcopal priest, spending his childhood at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine in the '30s (and being so smart he graduated from prep school unusually young and went to Harvard when most kids are still in high school) and becoming an Anglo-Catholic rector himself. His father held a true-church claim he took as seriously as we Catholics do ours, so understandably he was as outraged by our rejection of his orders as I am by the Orthodox being allowed to believe I'm not baptized. Very Catholic but not a would-be Catholic! (You wonder if women priests and gay marriage would have changed his mind about us. But a lot of these men just changed with their denomination.) So Hughes made a big personal sacrifice when he came into the church; he never saw his father again. Part of what converted him as he was struggling with this: English "liberal" Catholics studying in continental Europe in the '50s described the papacy to him exactly as I believe in it; papal infallibility is really church infallibility. That said, he was once famous among some Anglicans and Catholics for his understandable mistake: he seems to dissent from the church on Anglican orders; trying to reconcile with his late father (who died before Hughes' Catholic ordination). So he is one of the only ex-Anglicans who's been conditionally ordained (the other being Msgr. Graham Leonard; both had claimed an Old Catholic line of succession). He buys into Anglican apologetics on the matter (so why's he Catholic?): the English "Reformers" were objecting to late-medieval misunderstandings about the Eucharist, not the teaching of the church. Michael Davies refuted this: they knew exactly what the church teaches (most of them were priests) and rejected it, making up a new version of Christianity (which in England happened to keep the church's structure), in which Christ's saving work is all in the past so no Mass, never mind good works, and ultimately, no church! (And, I dare say, their logical conclusion is no God: Unitarianism is their destiny.) His thinking also comes from the late '60s, right after Vatican II, when many people thought Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans would merge. Being in liturgical-movement Germany changed him from '50s high-Episcopal (Tridentine ethos in English) to amenable to the Novus Ordo (but he doesn't like the heretical extreme there). He's upfront about being bisexual. As far as I know, he's never used that to attack the teachings of the church, so no problem.

Update: Deborah Gyapong speaks for me: Traditional Anglicanism provided the lifeboat to bring me home to the church Christ founded.

Articles and comments on worship: The place of culture in Christian faith


Suscipe, sancte Pater...

  • Mass: Omnia, quae fecisti. Commemoration of the Guardian Angels? Probably not in our 1962 Missal. Gaudeamus omnes in Domino. External Solemnity of Our Lady of Victories, commonly called Our Lady of the Rosary, with commemoration (second collect and second postcommunion verse) of the 20th Sunday after Pentecost. Preface was of the Trinity, for the Sunday. I thought the external solemnity would be next Sunday, after the feast. Anyway, as Fr. McKale mentioned, this celebrates the victory of the allied Catholic European naval forces under the papal flag at the battle of Lepanto, "saving Europe" from the Mohammedans. Don't invade; don't invite. Jesus saves; Mary prays.
  • Communion of love: Thomas Merton and liturgical reform. I'm not liberal high church (Episcopalian) but I agree with him. Among the places I like going to Mass is the daily Mass chapel, the 1920s former convent chapel, in the parish I live in, the Novus Ordo in spirit and in truth. (The return to tradition in English that John Paul II signed off on and Benedict XVI implemented five years ago. I've been back in the church going on five years.) But the old Mass is home. The goal of the old liturgical renewal was do the old services well, in the right spirit and knowledgeably (as Merton found at Corpus Christi, Manhattan), not to write new services, which is un-Catholic. At least three bad things happened to Roman Rite practice with Vatican II: 1) the space-age notion of "progress," a shiny, streamlined liturgy for modern man; not heretical but naïve, partly coming from the hubris of the new field of liturgical studies, so let's throw centuries of caution to the wind and write anew; 2) the dumb notion that "active participation" means any audible or visible response from the congregation, no matter how off-base or insipid, not a knowledgeable joining in common prayer, which can be silent; and 3) while most liturgical-movement clergy were sound (the movement revived Gregorian chant, wanting a congregationally sung High Mass, and created a traditionalist standby, the wonderful hand missal), a few, such as Annibale Bugnini, were heretics; neo-Protestants.
  • Lutheran Satire, from our close cousins, traditional Lutherans: Mr. Thompson and the vicar invent Children's Church. Blaming the Anglicans and Victorian sentimentality.
  • From the evangelicals: Dear parents: Your teens don't need contemporary worship.
  • Meanwhile, the secular world pushes religion as mere self-expression: deep-six that Jesus stuff and worship your blackness, for example.
  • The Anti-Gnostic: Hierarch of "Eastern America." The Serbians, the Levantines, the Meso-Americans, the Afghans, and on and on, are not coming here to be HERE; they are coming here to have a better THERE.
  • Two from Huw Richardson (paraphrasing: "I'm Russian Orthodox. I'm gay. But there's no such thing as gay Orthodoxy, just Orthodoxy."). Don't miss the comboxes:
    • Boutique-odoxy. Like inculturation: parishes have personalities and reflect the quirks of their priests, but how far should that go? Mistaking your nations/tribes and cultures for the church is the sin of Eastern Orthodoxy. An approach that's too parochial, that's congregationalist, can turn into that. On the other hand, semi-congregationalism, such as Easterners' grassroots traditionalism, can be a hedge against liberalism.
    • Relevant beauty. A Protestant culture isn't hospitable to Catholicism, so you can, and in some cases such as that, should mimic the old country, but you don't have to, sometimes you shouldn't, and let's not get confused about our mission.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Convert utopianism

The convert hipsterdox have a point: part of Byzantium's potential in the West today is at best it's a Catholic traditionalism without some of our baggage. I like my church culture (traditional Roman Rite with Anglican hymns) but no one culture is perfect or right for everyone; only the faith itself, our doctrine, is. A reason I support the Byzantine Rite by going to it locally once a month. Anyway, a while back, a Presbyterian-turned-Orthodox-turned Catholic friend mentioned some of the convert hipsterdox wanting to live in pacifist communes, etc. Understandable appeal. Some Christians have long been called to something like that: monks and nuns, East and West. Some convert parishes become cults trying to live the ideal she describes. It also comes from a corner of conservative Protestantism, some of which tried to adopt the hippie-commune culture: the Jesus movement in the '70s; "covenant communities." Another chapter in American religious idealism. But what struck me when she mentioned that is no country in Eastern Europe has been like that. Putin's Russia has its very good points (why our establishment hates it: it's a society that says it supports traditionalist Christian principles) but it's obviously not the utopia she says the converts believe in.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

This month's Byzantine Sunday: A bit about latinizations


This is such an action-packed month of weekends of car shows and flea markets, as summer ends and these taper off into autumn, that today was my monthly Byzantine Rite Sunday because I was free. At coffee hour we talked mostly about cars (my Edsel in the lot being an opener; by the way, today's the anniversary of the make's launch) and what a great place Chester, Pa. was for a thriving working-class Catholic community 50-70 years ago. Thought so. Got to field-test one of my positions with nice older born Ukrainian Catholics. (These are Americans descended from immigration before World War II and likely before World War I.*) They mentioned moving from the Chester church to the new merged parish and regretted the clergy's decision to delatinize by not bringing the old church's Stations of the Cross. I stated my case: yes, the church wants the rite to be in its original form (the church always did; even the filioque wasn't required) but you have to strike a balance because the people want their devotions they adopted decades ago. I'm fine with latinizations if they're old (pre-Vatican II) and if they don't take over the rite. In this case, the people were fine with what I said. Elaborating here: there should be entirely byzantinized parishes and there should be hybrid ones for the people who want them. This stuff is cultural, not de fide. Another of my sayings: rite is to keep order in church; home devotion is a free-for-all where you can have your own canon of private saints such as deceased relatives and do any practice from any rite. (Yet another: Catholicism includes Byzantium. The Byzantine Orthodox don't really include us.)

An observation I and others have made: I say being a faithful Catholic who's unlatinized Byzantine is a hard, rare calling; the observation is they're usually former Latin Catholics who've fallen in love with the rite. This fellow (pictured) who died four years ago (eternal memory, вѣчная память) reminds me of that: Brother Ambrose (Moorman). (There have been a few cases of Russian Old Believers becoming Catholic; in tsarist Russia after the small Russian Catholic Church started. "The enemy of my enemy [in the Old Believers' case, the official Russian church] is my friend.")

Nec plus, nec minus, nec aliter as St. Pius X said "commissioning" the Russian Catholic Church to follow official Russian Orthodox usages. The Russians' main successor in America, the OCA, had the right idea: just translate the old services (don't write new ones!) and neither suppress nor advertise the ethnicity lest hypothetical inquirers assume they're not welcome. The Antiochians are doing the same. This little corner of the Catholic Church where I hang my hat once a month is doing likewise, of course hoping for the best. As I like to say, there's so much potential: a Catholic traditionalism without some of our baggage.

P.S. A no-brainer in a way: Mother Teresa has been canonized. Worth learning about besides her famous charitable work is her apparently long dark night of the soul where she felt like she had lost her faith. We are saved by faith but it's still hard work.

*As a friend upstate, a Ukrainian Catholic by choice, says of his parishioners, when these families weren't sure which country if any they identified with, their part of the Ukraine long being absorbed into Poland, or, to the south, being in eastern Slovakia (Rusyns, in Ruthenia), both places being parts of Austria-Hungary. (And Galician Ukrainians and Rusyns didn't always get along. Hey, Joan of Arc was burned by fellow Catholics.) Po našomu (should be po našemu, по нашему), meaning "according to our way," or "Slavish"; "Ukrainian" sometimes came later. Like a lot of people from outside, I'm a bit of a russophile (I know Russian), seeing all the things these Eastern Slavic sub-groups have in common, but if the Ukraine wants to be independent, fine with me. Anyplace where the Catholic Church has a chance.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

I only sort of like Ike


A young David Eisenhower asked his grandmother Mamie whether she felt she had really known Dwight David Eisenhower.

"I'm not sure anyone did," she replied.
I'm reading Jean Edward Smith's largish one-volume biography Eisenhower in War and Peace. Better eras in America, from late Victorian on the prairie through our peak in the '50s, as seen through one man's extraordinary life.

You have to filter out personality (Ike was fairly personable, blessed with looking more affable than he was, but so what?), nostalgia, the natural affinity of military and conservative values thus my liking of the military (I'm no pacifist but an isolationist without apology so Ike would have thought me stupid), and Allied World War II propaganda ("the saintly FDR and Ike saved the world; we'd be goose-stepping and speaking German if not for them") to ask the real questions, such as did we even have to be in the war? Pre-nukes, Ike strikes me as an Army careerist who ambitiously wanted war. (Madeleine Albright decades later: "You have this big, beautiful military, so why not use it?") It so happened that FDR and the Reds in his government really wanted war too. Along comes likable, reliable Ike, the good staff member (smart, level-headed, got things done) who never saw combat, and he's suspiciously leapfrogged over scores of senior officers to command of the European theater of operations. I give Smith credit for hinting that the British, who once war broke out were literally defending their homes, deserve far more credit for doing the actual fighting (real fighting generals such as Montgomery); in lots of battles, including Normandy, they were the majority. Guess it didn't look good in American movies. (Our narrative/national myth: we saved the world for democracy while the British were our charming, ineffectual sidekicks, like a butler in a screwball comedy.)

From my reading of Smith, it seems the early European war (the invasions of North Africa and Italy) was political theater, but Ike deserves credit later on for taking his responsibility for his men seriously, visiting them and "looking them in the eye" before Normandy.

Some well-meaning apologists for the American narrative think we went to war in Western Europe really to keep it out of the Soviets' hands. I'm not convinced. Ostensibly we (starting with the British in 1939) went to war to free Poland, but as most know, FDR and his men handed half of Catholic Europe, including Poland, to the Soviets at Yalta.

The Communists killed far more than the Nazis but the narrative gives them a free pass, even during and after the Cold War.

Joe McCarthy was (accidentally?) right about there being Communists in our government. We were played.

Here's the real story. Smith doesn't get into this because it's not part of Ike's legend; doing the right thing wouldn't have advanced his career. The isolationists, Lindbergh and America First, were dead right. Not pacifist; they were for a strong military for its real purpose of defense. I understand that Hitler had spelled out his intentions, none of which threatened American sovereignty or citizens. He wanted to clear out Eastern Europe for a continental German empire; nefarious but not our problem. He didn't even want war with Britain, whom he respected as equals (envisioning them as a junior partner of the Reich, keeping its big overseas empire). The Germans had neither plans nor means to invade the United States, which they envisioned as controlling the Western Hemisphere pretty much as it already did. So the real story of World War II was the Eastern Front: Germany vs. the USSR. Operation Barbarossa. A smart president who actually cared about the American people would have let the Nazis and the Communists destroy each other. (Japan? No plan to conquer us. They wanted a local empire too. Revert to our military's original Plan Orange to defend American territory, make a deal with them, and that's that. FDR's war with them was an excuse that stooped to racial hatred to justify itself.) Stay out of it like that underrated, maligned Catholic gentleman, Franco.

Also, if Wilson hadn't gotten us into World War I, the emperors of Europe would have remained so there would have been no Communist revolution and no Nazis, thus no World War II. The Central Powers should have won.

So I'm suspicious of Ike, a shadowy New World Order figure handed power during the war and again in '52, stealing the Republican nomination from the worthy Robert Taft, a real conservative (who would have died months into his term). Another NWO aspect: his rise seems part of the top-secret shift of the center of the old British Empire from Westminster to Washington (decades in the making as the British saw the limits of the empire; a secret wish of FDR?).

Interesting how Ike's parents' radical Protestantism (his mother apostatized to the Jehovah's Witnesses) seemed to naturally lead to their sons' irreligion as adults. Ike had no use for church, only joining his wife's Presbyterianism because it was good politics.

But for all that, Ike literally peacefully governed America at its peak, acting like the experienced soldier who hated war that he said he was: getting us out of Korea, not being provoked even by Communists (he hated McCarthy but I don't think he was a com-symp), at Dien Bien Phu, Quemoy and Matsu (but deftly showing force and speechmaking; he was a skillful liar, "good at bluffing" being a nice way of saying that), Hungary, etc. So of all the hallmarks of his administration I like the New Look in defense ("peace through strength," rightly defense, not war) best, or nukes changed everything.* Moralists argue the rightness of doomsday weapons and they should; the end doesn't justify the means in Catholic theology. But now that nukes exist, better a strong deterrent than lots of brush-fire wars. (Son John, a general himself and lifelong Republican, voted for Kerry in 2004 in disgust over George W. Bush's Iraq war.) His big no to the military-industrial complex was right. His domestic policy? Opening opportunity to blacks and building infrastructure such as the interstate highways (partly inspired by the Autobahn) sound good. Back when a liberal was often just a civic-minded social conservative. That government seemed bland during his terms is to his credit.

P.S. I believe Kay Summersby. Understandable as Smith explains. I believe that Marshall squelched it when, right after the war, Ike told them he wanted a divorce; ambitious Ike obeyed.

*The U.S. Air Force's case for independence from the Army and postwar military doctrine putting air first, arguable now that nukes were in the picture, but a study by John Kenneth Galbraith (my source: an interview with him in Studs Terkel's The Good War) showed that strategic bombing wasn't decisive in the victory; a long-slog land war was.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Religious ramble

Happy feast day. "I believe in... the resurrection of the body." Mary is assumed into heaven.

The flashpoint of all rebellion against God is where he and his creation meet: who Jesus is, what the Eucharist is, and sex.
One reason for growth in Black Masses all over is Communion in the hand (a reason Bernardin fought for it). The host is grabbed and pocketed for Black Mass...The devil knows his enemy; why there are no black Protestant services.
Most of Satanism is theatrics by apostate Christians to make us react; so obvious it's easy to ignore. I'm more worried about Tim Kaine-ish heretical Catholics trying to subvert the church, which they really can't do but they can drag a lot of people down with them.

There are no "Black Protestant Communion services" (black meaning Satanic, not black people) because with Protestants it's not really the Sacrament, per their own beliefs. What a backhanded witness! Communion in the hand in Catholic churches in modern times was a move to Protestantize the people's faith, against the rules but the Pope caved when it was a fait accompli, which of course has almost worked. Good thing the church is indefectible.
It isn't a sacrament in Catholic terms yes, but that is hardly informative. Whether the Pope caved or not isn't really relevant. What the magisterium normatively permits or proscribes is.
All matters of rite such as Communion in the hand are matters of discipline only. I'm Catholic because we don't idolize one culture. Traditionally we were hands-off about liturgical development and should be again; the Novus Ordo was an anomaly and, practically speaking, a mistake. Our teachings can't change; the Protestantized liberal Catholics didn't get that.
Paul VI caved — he even stated he knew it was wrong — but that was Vatican II. Bernardin's goal was to diminish respect for the sacrament. The grabbing away the host was an added benefit...
Vatican II didn't change that rule. Some Dutch and American liberals started doing it, breaking the rule, and Paul VI gave in.

I much prefer the 19th-century Anglican way I learned to receive the Host in the hand and sip from the chalice to the Catholic liberals' way, literally grabbing the Sacrament, outprotestanting the liturgical Protestants.
I can't stand Communion in the hand. Can't stand it!!!
Right. I never do it.
Rome approves the new Mass as valid. Done.
Sure, it's valid. The actual text in Latin isn't heretical. All I'm saying is before the Novus Ordo (only a nickname, by the way; the church doesn't give the new Mass a special name, saying it's the normative form of the Roman Rite), churchmen weren't sure where the parts of the rite came from so they didn't dare change any of it, lest they mess it up, losing something essential, making it invalid. I think that more reverent approach is better but I also believe that studying the liturgy as history is good.

I prefer the old rites, Roman and the Eastern ones, but thanks to Benedict XVI, just like a Catholic 60 years ago I can go to Mass anywhere in the English-speaking world. Thanks to him, it's Catholic in spite of the local liberals; they have to say it right or else. I know the church. Any funny business is the local liberals' fault, not the church's.
I also hate the casualness most Catholics have about it. I want to scream at their non-reverence.
Right; thanks to the new Mass, before Benedict's reform in English, the liberals had only a third of English-speaking Catholics knowing what the Eucharist really is. Catholics had been protestantized.

The late Msgr. Klaus Gamber brought up the interesting idea that since the Novus Ordo uses other Eucharistic prayers besides the Roman Canon (which is rarely used), although it is a Western and Latin rite, like the Ambrosian in Milan for example (which only used the Roman Canon, traditionally), it is no longer the Roman Rite.
John, it's sad that in many, many dioceses they are still the ones running the show. People will continue to swim over to Orthodoxy for some meat among the Catholic rainbows.
Few Catholics do but it's an understandable reason; hey, I fell for it. On the corridor walls on the way to the hall at my part-time (monthly) Ukrainian Catholic parish are signs blown up from a church tract trying to teach people that the Novus Ordo in most parishes and the Byzantine Rite are both Catholic and good. One has Mass facing the people with guitars. If I didn't know better I'd say it's a great negative advertisement for Orthodoxy!

And sure; I've been to liberal parishes. Guitars, pianos, a squad of women readers, cantors, and Eucharistic ministers; in fact the whole sanctuary party is female except the slightly older effeminate priest. (Altar girls in albs carrying torches remind me of the Swedish Lucia Fest, a 19th-century Romantic custom.) They won't go gently. They hijacked the American church (but of course nobody can hijack the Catholic Church, not even the Pope) and liked it. But Benedict the Great knocked the wind out of them with his English-language reform. They can be the biggest blowhards but they still have to say the Mass right. Plus they're not my employers so I don't care what they think. Another reason I'm glad I'm not a priest; I'd hate to depend on a liberal bishop for my livelihood. I imagine such dioceses kick orthodox vocations out of seminary, but the joke's on them, because the few orthodox vocations are the only vocations.

By the way, the lay head of the British Latin Mass Society argues for a theory that starting around 1800, Western Christianity was feminized. Protestants swung from misogyny pre-1800 to putting girls on a pedestal; Catholics fell for it too. You see it in political correctness, itself a bastard of Christianity. Nothing about feminine vices; all about feminine virtues, so men are told that to be a Christian is to act like a woman, which of course turns most men off. The thing is, the traditional Mass pre-dates all that; at heart it's still masculine (offering a sacrifice on a stone altar), even as devotional piety arguably got too girly.
I think that started someone in the 1700s, John. That's why I focus so much attention on medieval Catholicism — because that's the really good stuff.
You're entitled to your opinion and Pugin is among my formative influences; I read Contrasts on my own when I was in college. But I'm Catholic because the church doesn't make me choose one culture (though you are assigned to a rite) and forsake all others as un-Christian, be it Byzantine, medieval Western, or baroque.

Interesting to see the phases Anglo-Catholicism went through. At first, in the early 1800s, it was nothing to do with ceremonial; it was just a younger, more assertive version of the old high churchmen's claim to the early and medieval church's authority. Then, influenced by Romanticism, it got together with Pugin's revival (Pugin had more Anglican fans than Catholic), which arguably was as Romantic as it was theological, and went through a Sarum ceremonial revival phase. Some wanted to reconcile with the church even then but most were pushing a true-church claim against us. Then in the late 1800s, even though most didn't want to reconcile with the church, they started mimicking our good practices at the time, including baroque etc. stuff you might not like.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

On trying to make America great again, as in Eagleton's day, and why Anglicans claim to have bishops


  • A mainstream article sort of sympathetic to Trump supporters. Its starting point is J.D. Vance's book Hillbilly Elegy. A little condescending but what did you expect? Money quotes: Americans who built the postwar glory ... now feel they’re being ignored or outright mocked. They do want to turn back the clock, but not because they’re racist or afraid of modernity. They want to go back to having good-paying jobs. They want to go back to being proud of themselves and the things they produced. For years, they’ve essentially been told to sign up for welfare and shut up.
  • Missing Tom Eagleton. I've just read Call Me Tom, a biography of Sen. Tom Eagleton, not always right but a liberal gentleman from a better era when a liberal was often a civic-minded social conservative. A neo-New Deal (Great Society) Democrat who didn't fall for the Sixties' craziness (pro-life as a senator but wrong in retirement about embryonic stem cells; against racial quotas); never mind the Reagan-era Republicans' accusations. What much American Catholic politics (except the German Republican Midwest) used to be like. (Eagleton was an iffy Catholic and honest about that, fond of Vatican II liberals. My guess is he was a typical guy turned off by a Christianity feminized since the 1800s so he wasn't a churchgoer.) He was right about asserting Congress' power to declare war vs. presidential undeclared wars; good constitutional strict constructionism that conservatives can support. I dare say that, like Eugene McCarthy, he could have been a decent president but because of his then-underdiagnosed manic-depressive disorder (now called bipolar), nothing to do with his views or his character, he wasn't well enough.
  • The real reason Anglicanism is episcopal. From an anti-ordinariates, clerical-gossip blog I won't link to. Too good to pass up: I believe it was Diarmaid MacCulloch who pointed out that the Church of England emerged as a Reformed, congregational denomination that retained bishops and cathedral chapters because they provided opportunities for political patronage.
  • The quotable Theodore Dalrymple at Takimag:
    • It is hardly surprising that newspapers nowadays more and more resemble magazines that are produced weekly or monthly instead of daily. With modern technology they can hardly any longer be the first to break news; as their circulations fall and journalists are “let go” — to use a delightful euphemism for dismissal so dear to more refined or sensitive bosses — they cannot do much investigative journalism, either. What is left is gossip about celebrities, explanations of the obvious, speculation about the future based on what has happened in the recent past, drivel about sport, and articles catering to modern man’s fathomless narcissism. Glad I'm out of the business. I only pick up papers to do the crossword on the train.
    • Perhaps answering J.D. Vance and the New York Post writer on Trump supporters: I have spent much of my life among the poor or relatively poor. I can honestly say that it never occurred to me for a single moment that any one of them was not a true human being. Indeed, if they were not true human beings, their poverty would be nothing to worry about. I neither romanticized them as the fount of all goodness and wisdom nor saw them as mere objects.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Anglo-Catholicism again


From an Episcopalian in 1932: Anglo-Catholicism: What it is and what it is not. Really, "lame arguments against the church." I'm grateful to the movement for a lot of knowledge and culture, which is partly why I'm not Novus Ordo, but the truth is. Outsiders assume they're wannabe Catholics; insiders think they're theatrical, aesthete male homosexuals. Actually, as this article says, historically they usually weren't would-be Catholics but pushing a rival true-church claim against us. Some, particularly a very few in England, were: Anglo-Papalists; plus you had the more numerous Romanizers, who Romanized the liturgy and sort of wanted to reconcile with the church but on their own terms, whatever they were. The homosexuality has always been a part of the movement (which I didn't know for a couple of years; I was that innocent) but it wasn't the whole story, and to be fair, it wasn't their teaching. Before the Sixties' hit on religion, families, with kids, went to Anglo-Catholic parishes too: Sunday school, etc.

People in the church know we're not the cult of the Pope's person or opinions. His so-called "autocratic Catholicism" (the Anglicans keep saying that like it's a bad thing) has always defended the essentials (such as belief in God, Christ, the Trinity, the hypostatic union, Mary the Mother of God, bishops, the Mass, and the option of using images in worship); the Anglicans haven't. In fact they killed people in the 1500s for defending the Mass. (Protestants: Christ's saving work is in the past; you're saved by believing you are; "he is not here" so the Mass is a blasphemous fable.) So they're not the church. (Anglicans are Reformed, not Catholic. Articles XIX and XXI: fallible church, really no church.) And as Fr. Hunwicke points out, now that they are in communion with other Protestants, they've proved Leo XIII right; their claim to the episcopate is out the window. The English are still sad and confused because of the "Reformation."

Got the best of the culture in my little corner of the church and I'm not even in the ordinariates. (I use Anglican English when worshipping in English but nothing by Cranmer.)
...if we had the time and the means, we might call one hundred and fifty to two hundred million Eastern Orthodox ... to the witness stand to testify that [Eastern Orthodoxy], with which Anglo-Catholicism is almost identical in fundamentals, does not logically lead to submission to Rome. Not for one day in the last nineteen hundred years has it ever done so, a fact which Western Christians are too prone to overlook or ignore.
They think their culture IS the church and are Erastian besides; do you really want to adopt that idolatry as a defense?
The importance of the laity in matters of faith has always been very real, although too often forgotten or overlooked.
Good point we need to be reminded of. The laity as defenders of the faith. Lay pushback can be a hedge against liberalism.
...democracy, in spite of being prone to inefficiency, is the best form of government yet discovered by which men can in fullest measure develop their personalities and bring to fruition the latent powers, talents and capacities with which God has endowed them. Dictatorships may sometimes be expedient for a season, but it is not too much to say that democracy is of divine order and most akin to the Mind of Christ.
Nothing to do with Christ. Masonic (which has long been big among Episcopalians), not Catholic.

So-called "democratic Catholicism" voted to ordain women and marry the same sex. And next to nobody goes to it; its assumptions are better served by secular humanism, now a given in our society now so people aren't conscious of them and don't need to go to church to hear them.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Will the SSPX become a personal prelature?

Sounds good. Not as good as making Fellay a cardinal (great though he's unlikely to become Pope) but one step at a time. Can anybody confirm either of these?
I find it hard to believe either party can accept union. Differences on doctrine are the biggest problem; neither side will budge.
The difference with the official church is not about doctrine. As you can imagine, I am grateful to the SSPX for all the good it has done but I'm not affiliated with it; I'm in the official church. (The only religious organization I belong to is my parish.) If not for them, I wouldn't have my Mass. Their rationale is there is a state of emergency in the church that calls for what they're doing, which can happen (as can the sedevacantist scenario), but isn't. But unlike the Orthodox, the Anglicans, and the Old Catholics, they've never claimed to be a separate church. (The vagante temptation: try to start your own church by somehow trying to become a bishop.) Their bishops are only sacramental bishops, not diocesans, because only the official church can assign bishops to dioceses. Nor is the big difference really about liturgy or Latin. It's over Vatican II on religious liberty and ecumenism. Policy; Vatican II did not define doctrine. I live as though Vatican II does not exist but I have no problem with it on religious liberty and ecumenism, rightly understood. One true church, not indifferentism (such as that assumed in Anglo-American Masonic society); "subsists in" isn't new as we've always recognized the Orthodox' bishops and the Protestants' baptisms.
The Brotherhood has long had extremist members in its ranks, such as Bishop Richard Williamson, who denied the Holocaust. Did this harm the negotiations?
Bishop Williamson has questioned the magic number six million regarding the Holocaust, claiming it's too high, making me think. Irrelevant; not doctrine. Besides, the order kicked him out for disobedience (doing confirmations without its permission?) and he's excommunicated again for consecrating a bishop without Rome's permission.

Burke or Sarah for Pope; Lefebvre for saint.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Religious magazines

Magazines seem doomed in the Internet age but being old-fashioned and having a friend who reads much and passes it to me, I've caught up with two Christian ones lately.
  • Rediscovering the joy of Touchstone, "a journal of mere Christianity." A cantankerous, theologically conservative but politically leftist, on-and-off blogger hated them for some reason; I just don't see it. (I think he or she just doesn't like social conservatives, whom he or she sees as bourgeois and beneath him or her.) A natural, back-to-basics home for Mass-and-office Catholic traditionalists, our conservative Novus Ordo brethren, Robert Hart and other classic Anglicans (like C.S. Lewis was), Missouri Synod Lutherans (our close cousins), and polite Western convert Orthodox whom I think are a good nudge from becoming Catholic (again). The right kind of ecumenism, credally small-o orthodox and Christ-centered. First Things (another admirable magazine) without the political neoconservatism?
  • Sophia, the diocesan magazine of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, Mass. A mixed bag. Hooray of course for the Byzantine Rite including in this lovingly unlatinized form, for the small-o orthodoxy (me: Catholic traditionalism without some of our baggage) inherent in it, and for the right kind of ecumenism: of course it makes sense to acknowledge most of the world's Byzantine Christians even though at the moment they're outside the church. The joy possible in "Orthodoxy without the attitude," part of the church, not opposing it. The down side: sometimes they seem like a dressed-up version of Novus Ordo liberals, sounding more like such 45 years ago than like the Orthodox. An example: an article on how "progressive" they were at Vatican II, like that's something to be proud of. (Maximos IV was right that the Eastern patriarchs should outrank cardinals; polity, not doctrine.) On their agenda then: watering down our true-church claim by encouraging communicatio in sacris and by teaching more contemporary philosophy. Reminds me of "trans men" at women's colleges majoring in "gender studies" and wanting "safe spaces"; couldn't be less manly. This stuff couldn't be less Orthodox! In contrast, when Benedict XVI repeated our true-church claim, the Russians respected him because they understood him.
The people at the hearts, the centers, of their churches are closer to God and thus to each other; Touchstone reflects that. Ecumenism really means teaching people Catholicism. The basics, but also being upfront with and about some people who don't think we have real sacraments. (We teach, not just opine, that they have bishops and the Mass.) As Fulton Sheen and more than one convert has said, there's what people think the church is and teaches, and what it really is and what it really teaches.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Timothean (Kaine-ian) creed

I'm a Catholic; Hillary is a Methodist. Her creed is the same as mine: do all the good you can.
What Christianity has been reduced to in mainstream America, outside of evangelicalism and our ghetto of real Catholicism (vs. Kaine's Protestantized Catholicism; Pence is an evangelical convert). The liberal Protestants think this was the goal of Jesus and Christianity, but that doesn't square with what Jesus said or with the church fathers such as Athanasius. (The classical Anglicans, who put much stock in the fathers, were wrong but weren't relativists or agnostics.) "Do all the good you can," like you can earn your way into heaven, but "imagine there's no heaven" as Boomer Jesus sang; just be nice, whatever that means, and IF there's a God, you've earned your ticket. Moralistic therapeutic deism; as long as you're not intolerant or something, God's Santa Claus in the sky. No. This thinking has been around since the "Enlightenment" (at least they believed in natural law over emotion) but as recently as 60 years ago the churches defended small-o orthodoxy on paper. It's a trial by fire; of course the "last man standing" is Catholicism.

The good news is few younger than boomers still think this is Christianity, or they think secular humanism is Christianity fulfilled so they drop church and don't try to pass this off as Christian. The few young believers want real religion.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Cruz's speech and Hillary's possible seizure



  • I don't hate Ted Cruz. It's nothing personal; he's just not the man of the hour for the job at hand. Besides being diametrically opposed, the only candidate I don't like is Hillary Clinton. (Trump doesn't care about the church. Hillary wants to obliterate it, maybe first subverting it à la Tim Kaine, Protestant/Masonic America's longstanding dream à la Henry VIII, in which we become a big, innocuous liberal Protestant denomination with some cute ethnic stuff.) He was brave with his convention speech and not derogatory. Counterpoint: if he wasn't going to endorse Trump, he should have stayed home as others did. Maybe this was last-minute. Thomas Cranmer also went back on his word: a weak man as well as a rank heretic (I use Anglican English in prayer but nothing he wrote), in prison/on trial he did the right thing for the wrong reason, recanting his Protestantism because of cowardice, then as he was being burned at the stake he reneged, doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, principles and courage. Anyway, this is a chance for me to show the too-good-for-Trump Christians, including some fellow conservative Catholics, that we on board his train can be mannerly and charitable when called for.
  • Did Hillary have a seizure? Again, it's not personal so I'm sorry if she did. Sure looks like it. If so, then the question here is, is she medically fit for office? Or like FDR's paralysis, is it irrelevant? Someone mentioned she seemed incoherent before it happened; she doesn't sound too out of it to me. But: It couldn't be one of those silly (to them, awkward to us) head movements that arrogant Baby Boomer women do to feign surprise (at all the reporters shoving recorders at her) or other emotions? I've seen Hillary bob her head around when making points before and it looks similar. Was it just a reaction to the iced chai as she joked?

Why we should keep classical languages

Fr. Hunwicke writes: As long ago as 1933, C S ('Patrimony') Lewis advanced the suggestion that the attacks — even then — upon the position of Latin and Greek as the basis of education, might be part of a plot devised in Hell to subvert the Faith.

Not only did the real John XXIII (not the legend) want to step up teaching Latin in seminaries but the Oxbridge don C.S. Lewis (also one of the greatest ambassadors and apologists not only for Christianity generally but for England's weird, confused Reformed church that's long been a halfway house back to the church) understood the importance of classical languages to teach new generations; evil people want you to be ignorant that way ("suppressing every kind of knowledge except mechanical knowledge"). (I don't know much Greek; I know Latin but am not fluent.) I add: classical languages (especially Latin?) were also how educated Europeans, with very different vernaculars, communicated for about 1,500 years after the fall of the Roman Empire. Reasons the church uses Latin (traditionalism is not about Latin, but...), still another being a dead language is a good template for precise understanding because its meanings don't change anymore.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Trump-Pence, Clinton-Kaine


It seems the presumptive Dem nominee for U.S. president and her masters are trying to cadge benighted boomer liberal votes with a social-justicy Catholic in name only as her running mate, like claiming an endorsement from Pope Francis. My guess is it wouldn't work as she'd like. In a sense there's no more Catholic vote; the lapsed rank and file know she's a corrupt joke and don't want her, just like other non-elite whites. White liberals wanted Sanders. The small-o orthodox Catholics, who vote, are about split between the Trump train that I, Pat Buchanan, and others are on board and "principled opposition" that unintentionally supports the other side and gets annoying with its self-righteousness, but they have a point that the church is above politics. (Theological conservatism doesn't necessarily mean political or economic conservatism.) The only people this move impresses are those few she already has. Trump's move, picking a seemingly real conservative but an iffy Catholic (he's really turned evangelical; irrelevant here?) to try to win a swing vote of suspicious social conservatives including conservative Catholics, is smarter. Anyway, in a real election Trump would blow her away (even without an effect from Pence) but it probably won't be real; the elite will force their pick on us.

The church doesn't endorse bare-ass naked capitalism or the Republican Party (not our conservative party; conservatives' refuge by default since the Sixties turned the Democrats against real Catholics and against evangelicals) but Kaine's version isn't really the faith but a ripoff of it. (A lot like mainline Protestantism, which is dying out.)

America's Masonic-bred (religious relativist) Protestant elite has long wanted the church here to commit suicide; it has wanted to absorb the huge Catholic minority that came here 100-150 years ago. The Sixties (including Vatican II, actually an effort of the Space Age midcentury, which partly fueled the Sixties) effectively did that for them; real Catholics are now a rump here. Our rulers want to reduce the church to political correctness (Christianity without Christ really) and a few ethnic trappings (green beer on St. Patrick's Day; Mexican food). Conversely, critics say the American right wants to reduce the church to blessing neo-liberal economics and rampant Protestant individualism (consumerism, etc.).

We work with what we've got. Trump.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Defending my part-time church home

An ex-Catholic pundit on the Web takes a shot at my Ukrainian Catholic part-time (monthly) parish. (I don't read this cat anymore but a friend sent this in an e-mail circle.) I'm not there to critique them or tell them what to do; just to pray and support this place. The video screens are a mistake (illogical in a rite that uses an iconostasis) but I've never seen them used. It's a beautiful Liturgy (big L, meaning Mass) with simple chant, better than the Novus Ordo; Orthodoxy minus the attitude. I'm still an Anglo-Catholic-tinged Tridentiner (forever) but it's great to use all this stuff I learned, this time using it in the church.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Garry Marshall's passing and the rise and long fall of "Happy Days"


Right when the Sixties were pummeling the old Middle America, you started to see some nostalgia, starting with some Columbia students forming Sha Na Na, about part of the '50s. Around then, veteran TV joke writer Garry Marshall wrote a pretty good sitcom pilot about being a teenage boy then, featuring Ronny Howard from "Andy Griffith." The pilot didn't sell and ended up being used as a "Love, American Style" episode. But it got Howard one of the lead roles in American Graffiti ("Where were you in '62?"), and the movie's success resurrected it, creating "Happy Days." So the show wasn't originally a ripoff of the movie but ended up one, sort of: same lead actor, lettering for the credits, and opening song ("Rock Around the Clock").

Its first year, in 1974 and set 18 years earlier, is very good: believable people (including minor character Fonzie the mechanic) and stories, and enough attention to detail to re-enact the time.

But viewers lost interest in it so Marshall sold out: "filmed before a studio audience," Fonziemania, and lazy, anachronistic 1970s style ruined it. "A loud, kid-friendly, multi-camera comedy more about gimmicks than intelligent storytelling or nuanced characters." If Bill Haley isn't singing over the opening credits, don't waste your time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Racial self-hatred: A subway performance

Just an observation I found interesting and thought you might, too. Riding the subway to work, a white woman at least my age, probably a little older, with a mannish haircut, started a cordial conversation with a young black woman. The white woman was a type usually much younger, a whigger (usually spelt wigger), speaking entirely with a heavy black accent and with black slang (I don't know how current; usually our knowledge of black slang is outdated). Like Barbara Billingsley's jive-talking old white lady in Airplane! This one sounded like she watched a lot of the Wayans brothers and Arsenio Hall on TV 25 years ago. This sort of thing has been around since at least the 1920s: American whites being fashionable by showing off a knowledge of black culture ("the white Negro"). There's nothing wrong with that per se, up to a point. Sure; learn from other cultures. Two things struck me, though: why was someone her age doing it? And why was she seeming to try so hard to pretend? She didn't look like Rachel Doležal; her appearance wasn't ambiguous but obviously white. She didn't dress "black" either. I felt sorry for her. After the white lady got off the train, another black woman said to the first, "What the f*ck was THAT?" Exactly. How can you respect someone seemingly that craven? It backfires now: white liberals used to do it to show how open-minded they were; now the left has turned against "cultural appropriation." It can be rude. There has to be a true middle way here. My guess is rather like Doležal ("too pale for her pious parents") and the rest of the white left, with this lady it's humility gone too far, becoming self-hatred. Like most whites, from what little I know of black culture, there are things I like. I'm still proud to be white.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Parish report: My monthly Byzantine Rite Sunday

Yesterday was my monthly Byzantine Rite Sunday at the nearest Ukrainian Catholic church. (I honor my commitment to my parish: I plan these trips and double up the collection envelopes the preceding Sunday.) My first Sunday (vs. Saturday evening) sung Liturgy (vs. spoken) there. Smallish congregation, maybe 30 to 45 people; a few relatively young ones and even a child or two. (A screaming baby is a sign of a future.) A cantor with a little help from another singer, not a choir. Singing rightly from the stand in back (the kliros, a piece of furniture, in some other Byzantine churches), not at a lectern waving his arms as in the Novus Ordo. (More below on the music.) One man doubling as server and reader, properly vested (sticharion; looks like a dalmatic but it's actually the alb's cousin), simply reading the epistle (traditionally it's chanted, such as recto tono, mostly on only one note, like in the traditional Roman Rite) but standing in the nave facing the altar as is called for. No other altar boys. Liturgy mostly in English but, contrary to what I'd read reported, some in Ukrainian (nice; no problem; I know Slavonic and Russian so it's intelligible and familiar; actually their traditional liturgical language is Slavonic, which some parishes still use). Incense of course from a Greek-style thurible jingling with many sleighbells. Hymn during the censing before Liturgy, just like the Ruthenians; in fact one of the same hymns. In the Liturgy itself, Ukrainian chant is new to me; it's in the same family as Ruthenian prostopinije (plainchant) but the tunes are different. Very memorizable and singable. (I'm retired from church singing.) No sermon on a hot day. The anaphora chanted recto tono, a modern liturgical fashion. (Traditionally except for the words of institution and a few other things, it's whispered just like the Roman Canon.) Ethnic and a very few immigrant (old exiles who escaped the Soviets) Ukrainians, not Internet-type converts attacking the teachings of the church (giving the term "Orthodox in communion with Rome" a bad name); "real people." The Ukrainianness literally isn't advertised but it's there; the people want it. But it's not about nationalism; it's about church, which is right of course. Coffee hour at which you can buy lunch, in the hall in back after the service. Thumbs up! Слава Богу (glory to God).

Liturgical colors among the Orthodox often parallel the traditional Roman Rite but not necessarily; such is the case here. White and/or gold, not green; also there was a special commemoration (of the first six ecumenical councils, I was told).

Going here part-time is something I think I'm called to do for my own edification, in reparation for how our churchmen have treated Byzantine Catholics historically (often pushed out of the church for no good reason), and of course to pray to bring the Orthodox back into the church. Maybe some good can come from my learning so much of this stuff.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ad-orientem ramble


So our top liturgy cop Cardinal Sarah says something nice about liturgical east (not literal east, though in the beginning it was), commonly called "having the priest's back to the people," or really the common-sense practice of priest and people facing the same direction to pray, suggesting that most of the Roman Rite go back to it, and churchmen in high places (Cardinal Nichols in England, for example) squelch it. Not surprising. The Catholic liberals are dying but of course won't go gently. Dom Hugh makes a good point, rather like G.K. Chesterton mocking atheists (nobody rails against belief in Thor like they do against God). If the old Mass is so patently ridiculous, why are they so afraid of even something that looks like it, such as dressed-up conservative Novus Ordo (déja vù for Anglo-Catholics; it's like high-churching the old Prayer Book)?

The facing-the-people craze was based on slanted, now discredited scholarship and experience with part of the liturgical movement in Germany going back to the 1930s. Not based on history so much as what some congregations liked. I can understand Catholic liberals in the '60s, not necessarily heretics, buying it: put on a happy face for the space age and the world will love us, converting in droves; the gospel of God's love and grace will be spread. All it got us were empty churches. How much now does the Catholic left believe its own bullshit? My guess is some of them really are trying to undermine the church from within.

As Thomas Day can explain, this form of iconoclasm and related heresy is just about unique to Roman Riters; the Episcopalians believe the creeds and love our traditional liturgy.

Pictured: the parish I belong to by choice; high-church for about 10 years.