Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Jurisdiction-shopping and stupid sacramentology

  • 3 Greek priests leave Constantinople for ROCOR. “My decision to move to ROCOR was as a result of a number of factors. I have, for some time, been concerned about the growing modernist and ecumenist trends in Constantinople. However, the actions in Ukraine convinced me that I had to leave,” Fr. Spyridon commented to OrthoChristian.
So this is the putative one true church, rival denominations stealing clergy from each other and crowing about it, jurisdiction-shopping. ROCOR is now part of the Moscow Patriarchate, which is out of communion with the patriarch of Constantinople for the latter wrongly starting a turf war in the Ukraine, trying to steal that country's churches. I understand the two canonical patriarchates don't even recognize each other's baptisms anymore, at least in the parishes, which is stupid sacramentology. Well, it makes sense to them if each patriarch claims the other is no longer in the true church. I understand that Catholic sacramentology is Augustinian, not Cyprianic (church fathers can be wrong; the church decides): being in the church matters but is not required for validity. Why we recognize Orthodox sacraments!

The self-styled true Orthodox super-believers, the sort who gravitate to ROCOR and are obnoxious about it: the Gregorian calendar and talking to us Catholics are evil, but remarriage after divorce and contraception are okay. (By the way, many Catholics use the Julian calendar - in the Ukraine, for example. It's discipline, not doctrine.) Oh, and if you expect your religion to make sense, you have an evil "rationalist" Western mindset, phronema in the lingo (cult thinking).

Most Orthodox in America are Greeks under Constantinople.

Story the late Archimandrite Serge (Keleher) told me in person:
Orthodox: "It is not enough to have the Orthodox faith; you must be under the Orthodox hierarchy!"
Fr. Serge: "Which one?"
Orthodox: "Shut up! You know too much!"
There is an Orthodox tradition I am a part of by adoption. There is no Orthodox Church. They're all independent.

Monday, July 15, 2019

"I left Eastern Orthodoxy for the church led by Pope Francis, and I don’t regret it"

1. In a sense I didn't leave Eastern Orthodoxy. Been Byzantine again since '16. There is an Orthodox tradition - with me it happens to be Russian Orthodox - that I'm still part of and love. I don't believe in an Orthodox Church. They're all independent, there's no teaching authority, they're wrong about remarriage after divorce and on contraception, their anti-Westernism is bigotry pretending to be theology, and they're not even in communion with each other! (Constantinople vs. Moscow in the Ukraine; Moscow's right.) Born Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt. There are post-schism Orthodox in my all-Orthodox icon corner, and I go to the Orthodox several times a year for Vigil as Communion prep. I receive Communion a few times a year, the old-country Orthodox way, but in the Catholic Church of course. Also, the traditional Latin Mass has the second oldest Eucharistic prayer still in use. It doesn't get more Orthodox than that. (By the way, promoting this Mass is not about Latin.)

2. I came back under Benedict the Great. I don't like Francis but he doesn't faze me. Because he's irrelevant. Our teachings can't change. The Pope can't change them. Papal infallibility is about the Pope's office as part of church infallibility, not his person. We are actually better off under Francis than we were under John Paul the Overrated, the wonderful fellow who brought you altar girls. Francis hasn't undone Benedict's liturgical reforms, better English and making the traditional Latin Mass available to all, because he doesn't speak English and he doesn't care about liturgy.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

The sunset of Anglo-Catholicism: goodbye, Burrswood

More of the sunset of Anglo-Catholicism: Burrswood in Tunbridge Wells has gone bankrupt and closed after 71 years. (But it hadn't been Anglo-Catholic in many years.) The late Dorothy Kerin's healing ministry. An Anglo-Catholic from the movement's heyday, miraculously healed and a stigmatist, she'd pray over the sick in church, the laying on of hands. Probably a saint.

I had heard of her but didn't realise she had been a stigmatist. Now what does that say about the authenticity of Anglicanism, hmm?
I thought of that - the wannabe Lourdes that wasn't - but wasn't going to be nasty. Why should I be? A born Anglican acting in good faith, not an ex-Catholic, so she gets the benefit of the doubt. Apparently she was very holy. She and her kind loved the church. They thought they were in it! Anglo-Catholicism was my red carpet going into the church and I am thankful.

Hooray for holistic health care.

Maybe Oral Roberts' long-gone City of Faith hospital was a glitzy, overambitious, more Protestant version of the same thing.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Successful Eastern Catholic churches

Successful Byzantine Catholic churches, centuries-old communities (not perfect, but successful): cases where whole patriarchates or metropolias came in. (But we're not supposed to try to split the Orthodox communion anymore, and that is good. Bring them all in together and leave the rite alone.) The metropolia of Kiev and the Byzantine patriarchate of Antioch. The Ukrainian Catholic Church at the union was the metropolia of Kiev: all of the Ukraine and Byelorussia as well (but plenty of people said no to union); Russian expansion and persecution reduced it to old Polish Galicia in the far west, still their base. The USSR grabbed it during World War II. The patriarch of Antioch who became Catholic is the basis of the Melkite Church.

The Russian and Greek Byzantine Catholic churches were originally attempts to convert the Orthodox individually that failed. (We don't do that anymore either, and that is good. We accept these conversions of course but don't solicit them.)

Looking beyond the Byzantine Rite, most Nestorians in what's now Iraq became Catholic; the Chaldean Catholic Church is bigger than the Nestorians.

And yes, it's THE Ukraine for the same reason I don't say "Paree." And the Patriarch of Constantinople is wronging the Patriarch of Moscow over there.

Misfire: on Uniatism

Now there's an attention-grabbing headline.

Deep breath.

Francis is barely still Pope, off the hook on technicalities. Private letters aren't magisterial and he didn't say the death penalty is intrinsically disordered.

I'm a conservative Catholic without apology. Francis and others are basically right about "Uniatism" but that's where I worship and I don't tell anyone to leave the church.

Our primary goal is not to convert Orthodox individually. It rarely works and only makes the Orthodox more bitter.

We are not trying to break up their families, parishes, dioceses, or national churches.

I go to the Orthodox for Vigil several times a year as Communion prep.

"The Eastern lung can be Orthodox"? That seems to go too far but we don't have to believe the Greek Catholic churches are perfect. They're very much not. And born Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt. They're neither personally guilty of schism nor formal heretics. Sacramentally they are still a part of us. So in a sense yes.

We want to reconcile all those churches to us together and leave the rite alone.

Because like all ancient Christian communions we claim to be the true church, we accept individual conversions but quietly, as the late revert Fr. Serge (Keleher) emphasized to me in person 20 years ago. We do not solicit them.

Cardinal Newman

What an intellect and of course an inspiration for Anglo-Catholic alumni, although pre-conversion he like his colleagues wasn't wannabe Roman liturgically. The soul of English moderation while sound as a pound on our doctrine. Misunderstood, maybe a sign he was on the right track. Too conservative for the Anglicans (he could have predicted how they ended up); too liberal for the ultramontanists and their caricature of Catholicism so some Catholics didn't trust him. I've been to Littlemore, to the room where he made his confession so he was received into the church.

My late rector, a Londoner born in the 1920s, always reminded me of him even though alas no conversion (even though he was traditional Roman to the nines ceremonially).

To know history is to cease to be Protestant. We became Catholic when we realized we weren't.

Ora pro nobis.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Manosphere catch-up: "war brides," Bible-college girls, what's wrong with the Art of Manliness, and more


  • War brides. This aspect of women is puzzling when you're inexperienced. They seem to be the more feeling sex, expressive of that, "love you forever," etc. but as a survival mechanism they can switch loyalties just like that, to the AMOG (alpha male of the group) essentially. Why they can go cold so suddenly after a breakup. (Women start 70% of American divorces. Thanks, contraception, feminism, and no-fault divorce.) More knowledge from Dalrock and others: again as a survival skill, women are solipsistic, an SAT word meaning they look out for No. 1, which makes reproductive sense. Female hypergamy, looking to trade up, an essential manosphere concept.
  • Video: Sh*tuff Christian girls say. In other words, more manosphere lingo/acronyms, AWALT, "all women (really) ARE like that." The man who shared this with me went to Baptist Bible college and tells me that now they ask God to give them their very own badboys.
  • The Art of Manliness is poisoning the concept of masculinity with Disney lifestyle advice. First, it's wrong to have a woman try to teach how to be a man, and second, the site's owners are probably Mormons. A guest post on a now-inactive blog of elder statesman Roosh V, who like the other good old manosphere bloggers doesn't push fornication anymore and is fighting the culture war for Christian patriarchy; he has returned to his Armenian Apostolic faith.
  • Beyond alpha and beta: deltas, gammas, and omegas. The husband behind Vox Popoli has another blog, now inactive, Alpha Game, which interestingly is more nuanced than Heartiste's alpha/beta dichotomy. Sure, imitate alphas to get some benefit such as a loyal wife, but alphas aren't "all that." They don't read the manosphere because they don't need it. They're naturals; "just be yourself" works for them. They can't teach it. Anyway, like Heartiste at his best, he says betas aren't bad. They and "deltas" are average guys who just need a little help getting the love and sex they want, which is good for society (it continues families and societies). Don't be a gamma, basically a guy who blames everybody else for his problems and lives in his head too much. He classes male feminists/white knights (including some well-meaning Christians?) as such. Omegas are the saddos, the hopeless cases, likely really abused growing up so they seem not to have a chance, but learning game helps some of them.
  • Dalrock on feminism: "Feminism is the assertion that men are evil and naturally want to harm women, followed by pleas to men to solve all of women’s problems," "weak men are screwing up feminism," or "man up so we can be strong, independent women." Snort!
  • LJBF vs. friendzone. Stay out of both! 90% of the time it's LJBF (let's just be friends): you've been slapped, handed your hat, and shown the door. So of course you leave and never return. The other 10% is the friendzone, which breaks down thus: homosexuals and their "hags" ("Will & Grace"), tired old players and whores trading war stories, and beta orbiters, "nice guy" boyfriend wannabes using a courting strategy that doesn't work anymore if it ever did; "I'll win her over!" By the way, "nice guys" are seen as needy, which is often true, and sneaky so that's an insult in the sex world. Clueless folks in the churches mistake it for purity and set men up to fail this way.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Trying to save the Ukrainian Catholic Church in America

Ukrainian Catholics in North America continue to struggle to develop ways to maintain their Ukrainian religious and ethnic identity amid a larger majority culture that beckons with the siren song of assimilation.

The answer may lie in young people, according to Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak, the newly enthroned archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, during a June 6 conference on the future of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in North America that he convoked at The Catholic University of America in Washington.
Having been using the Greek Catholic option for sound Catholics three years now in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, this is of interest to me.

A Novus Ordo religious-studies professor:
If Jesus were preaching and teaching today, we might think of him as that millennial hipster with some crazy ideas.
Two of my sayings: "Eastern churches in Western countries fail in three generations" due to assimilation and "everything that's not doctrine is on the table."

There are next to no kids where I go to Sunday Liturgy.

Byzantine Catholic churches often have their wires crossed. On one hand, while the Latin Church was being ripped apart after/because of Vatican II (I don't mean Catholic teachings; those don't change), they were undisturbed, allowed to remain traditional, so 34 years ago a married priest from the Ukraine celebrated my first traditional Mass (not counting Episcopal services) of any kind; it was Byzantine Rite. On the other, they're trying to survive the problem in my first saying, so they're tempted to Westernize by adopting Novus Ordo-ey gimmicks to "relate to the kids" (with predictably poor results both catechetically and regarding retention?). Like in liberal Canada, which has lots of ethnic Ukrainians. Altar girls and Eucharistic ministers!

The answer is what Orthodox jurisdictions in America do: offer a local vernacular version of the old services and good youth programs such as summer camps and of course good religious education.

You can do everything right and still lose just about everybody to assimilation, as is happening to the Orthodox too, but you'll know you did right.
Father Peter Galadza, a Ukrainian Catholic priest and theologian, said the Ukrainian liturgical rites hold an appeal to some non-Ukrainians who have joined the Ukrainian church.
Almost acknowledging people like me who don't like the Novus Ordo, who have saved a few Byzantine Catholic parishes and often become enthusiastic about the authenticity of the rite (even more so than many born members), which is what the church wants. Official church people don't like to admit these refugees exist, and when they do mention it, they're disparaging: "could not accept liturgical change," blah blah. That might be changing as the liberals die out. Of course it's the Byzantine Rite, the Ukrainian recension of it, not a Ukrainian rite.

You've got to be careful with nationalism and ethnicity. The latter has its place in church as long as it doesn't take over. Community. Overdoing or stamping out ethnic culture would kill the parish. Ukrainian Catholicism is very nationalistic culturally but the parish I go to is more like its Ruthenian cousins in that the people are descended from immigrants from before World War I when their villages were under Austria-Hungary. So it's not extremely nationalistic. And I've never been told to get out for not being Ukrainian.

P.S. Why did I become Catholic? Like other Anglicans, when I realized I wasn't. More to the point, when recently asked, because the teachings make sense and I need to belong to something and someone.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Opus Dei doesn't work

I don't intend to trash Opus Dei. In years (blog posts) past I'd been less than kind; mea culpa. Today I think they're fascinating; an example of a true lay apostolate that doesn't try to clericalize the laity or live in a fantasy world. That said, to give due credit, blogger John Bruce (tl;dr: he hates ex-Anglican priests in the ordinariates; I don't) made me realize that despite its cool concept, recruiting and catholicizing the elite while keeping a low profile, "the Work" doesn't. From this post:
My own view of Opus Dei continues to be a version of "by their fruits": the movement became active and increasingly influential in the Vatican, as well as in the US, from the late 1940s onward. That period can hardly have been more disastrous for the practice of Christian morality, whatever the influence Opus Dei has been able to exert in the Church or the world. This discussion [from an anti-Opus Dei site] refers to Opus Dei's influence in Spain, where the movement started, and where it has continued to wield political and economic influence:
Things did not go well [in the 1950s] for the network of interests and enterprises woven around the "Work", as they internally called the institution. Mostly led by people without experience, the group ventures into the realms of finance, publishing, and international trade, ended in internal and external conflicts, spectacular failures...
It's like a horse race or the NFL draft. You don't know how things will turn out. That whiz kid from Oxford or Stanford might underperform.

That St. Josemaría Escrivá's good idea didn't work doesn't mean he was bad.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Christian manosphere

I'm late for the party but here are the two most important lessons I've learnt in four months so far reading the evangelical manosphere, particularly Dalrock:
  • Courtly love isn't Christian; it's medieval porn glorifying adultery.
  • Too many people think marriage is a "capstone" rather than a "cornerstone." So too many women put off marriage. Russian proverb: if you want to be a general's wife, marry a lieutenant. One with potential whom you obey and give all your love and support. The bad stuff, the dating and hookup cesspools, has made inroads in evangelicalism (a bit of evo lingo: "churchianity" for bad Christianity): again, treating marriage as a capstone. It follows the same script as middle-class America: go to college, get a career, "find yourself," go through "a season of singleness," then marry Mr. Perfect (the badboy hunky handyman off a romance-novel cover who's a secret billionaire), or more likely, settle for someone you don't love, when you're rich and successful. Or likely not marry and end up alone. It's a tacit endorsement of promiscuity, the c*ck carousel.
Also learnt: look at the parable of the wise vs. foolish virgins and the bridegroom arriving for the wedding feast. Biblical marriage is the opposite of modern America's queen-for-a-day festivals. It's about the GROOM showing off his alphaness. And: male headship, yes; complementarity, no.

Related: No surprise: I'm using the Web but it's 1960 here. I don't date. I court. No hookups, no “friends” (when it's not just a blowoff, which 99% of the time it is, it's hopeless beta orbiting; see above on weak men). "Sorry my friendship is a crappy consolation prize!” It isn’t a “crappy consolation prize.” It simply isn’t a prize at all. And Mike Pence is right.

For this sort of thing, the Web does work at least as an introduction service. Earlier this year I was on average meeting someone once a month.

Rudeness, flakiness, is very common: ghosting or fading away online. The manosphere secular and Christian says you've got to have "hand" (authority). You've got to "put on your gorilla suit" with flaky female behavior. Hard because courting is supposed to be about getting close to someone, and Don Draper's a psychopath (think about this: killers on death row get propositions and proposals), but what would HE do? First sign of flaking/fading out, cut bait and walk away. Nuke the friends speech before it even leaves the launch pad. Block online.

The secular world was sort of okay with the manosphere when it promoted casual sex. "That scuzzy pickup artist" will teach you more conservative home truths about the sexes than the pozzed mainstream churches, mainline Protestantism and Novus Ordo Catholicism, will; they've bought into feminism since before it was feminism: pedestalization. The best of the manosphere isn't about picking up girls anymore; they're fighting the culture wars to defend what's left of Christian society. Because of that, Roissy/Heartiste's been deplatformed. I understand that Roosh, a born Armenian Christian who has unpublished his books promoting fornication, has converted to Orthodoxy.

Everything in secular society is working against churches being real communities, so no, the 30-40-year-old married couples at your traditional Latin Mass won't help you find a wife. Suburban marrieds really only want anything to do with other suburban marrieds. Church has become an odd hobby you do among strangers Sunday mornings, "a private matter" not influencing public life.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Fasting and long services

Orthodox Lent and other fasts make sense when you come from a culture that knows how to do them without killing yourself. Sister Vassa (Larin), a ROCOR ryassophore nun living in the world (like a Western Catholic oblate) and of Internet fame, gives helpful cooking advice during fasts. I can't do that. Many can't. So there's economy, no problem; they're just rules, not doctrine or morals. Many born Orthodox don't "do everything" and never did. Convert try-hards do (me: people trying to put on another identity; self-hating Westerners). That can be a whole other discussion: the authentic Orthodox experience of just popping in to partake a little of services and fasts that go on and on, not pretending to be perfect yourself, versus the Western expectation of staying for the whole service and "doing all the stuff" to tick off a list; very self-satisfying, as if God were that easy.

Church papists

Reading: Church Papists by Alexandra Walsham, another gift from William Tighe at Muhlenberg. Part of the sad late-1500s story of ordinary English people trying to remain Catholic under a Queen who'd turned against the church. Walsham notes early on that this segues into Christopher Haigh's description of "parish Anglicanism" circa 1600, people resigned to the new church but treating it reverently as they did the old. Crypto-Catholics and conservative Anglicans were still largely the same in the late 1500s. Many English people surreptitiously remained Catholic through the 1580s, 30 years after the re-imposition of Anglicanism. People still said their rosaries at home; priests secretly celebrated Mass; both outwardly conformed to the Church of England, and the parish churches in the provinces and countryside often remained very Catholic. So you had "church papists" still believing in the Catholic Church but obeying the law. Anyway, the church didn't approve, banning attendance at Anglican services. Interesting: the older English habit of referring to the C of E as simply "the church" is a carryover from us. "The church" vs. "the chapel" of various Protestant dissenters. There is something to the mother country: a consecrated Catholic land defiled.

Why I live on the church's Orthodoxward frontier

An interesting comment thread on Dalrock, the original post repeating his opposition to what we call courtly love, a lesson I've learnt in my recent discovery of the evangelical manosphere; he calls it chivalry. Courtly love is adultery; chivalry is being strong enough to steal and rape but choosing not to.

Anyway, Orthodox converts leave comments. Fascinating. They agree the Catholic Church IS Western civilization, so to Westerners Catholicism "feels right," but then they basically say they're turning their backs on that civilization because Orthodoxy is completely different at heart, never really a part of the West, even though it resembles Catholicism. I first read a challenge like that in Timothy/Kallistos (Ware) in his ever-edited The Orthodox Church. Impressive... until you read more of the stuff and realize it doesn't have answers that make sense, unlike Catholicism. Divorce and remarriage. The intermediate state after death. Contraception. I asked Peter Gillquist to his face about contraception and he changed the subject. I'm hip to a rite being more than a style of worship. Byzantine Catholics are supposed to be something more than Latin Catholics with a different Mass. A rite is a school of spirituality and theological method and opinion. And I've found that among some of our people who in no way distance themselves from the church: for example, "Why define the Marian beliefs?" Not denying the definitions. Like a good classical Anglican I wouldn't have minded if they'd remained undefined. I believe in the Mother of God but am not a co-redemptrix, Fatima-consecration kind of guy. I'm hip to everything from a loose communion run largely by custom to long services that you participate in only as much as you can handle to economy about rules. So I think I get and agree with "the Orthodox thing" essentially. But if you tell the Orthodox they don't make sense, from their opposing incidental Western cultural things as though they were doctrine (watch the Western Rite Orthodox byzantinize) to divorce and remarriage to now contraception, you're told your Western phronema (mindset) is getting in the way; expecting religion to make sense is "Western rationalism." I'll say it: that sounds like something a cult would say. Them: if you're not in their empire, you're not in the church anymore. I'm not trying to leave the church or assume a more exotic identity so no sale. Disprove Catholicism and I would no longer be Christian. Maybe Buddhist, or Germanic neo-pagan trying to follow nature.

I'm all for mystery but St. Thomas Aquinas was the greatest theologian so far. In Catholicism these aren't mutually exclusive.

Predictable. Our people (not church teaching) are stupid siding with Constantinople's incursion in the Ukraine, our people trying to divide the Orthodox rather than reconciling them to us together, and being tools for the Western liberals getting back at Russia for reverting to autocracy (up with autocracy) and Orthodoxy, and we get this anti-Catholic rant from the Russians. Smooth move. That's known in soccer as an own goal. Only the Catholic Church has canonical authority per se but the Russians are right about the Orthodox in the Ukraine.

You have made reconciling the Orthodox to us (in which case we'd keep our word and leave the rite alone) that much harder.

One of my sayings: The glory of Byzantium is that the Roman Empire became entirely Catholic. Its tragedy is it mistook the empire for the church, so when the Pope was no longer in the empire, they thought he was no longer in the church.

People from Russia I've known don't obsess about us. They're just proud of being Russian! But the "anti" spirit, the spirit of schism, is a problem.
Reunification efforts for the Orthodox would result in small "Russian use" parishes, they wouldn't practically be more successful than the Anglican Ordinariate.
I know reconciling Russia alone, let alone all the Orthodox together, is extremely unlikely. But if we aim for anything less than the latter, we would only cause more harm. We already have Russian Byzantine Catholic parishes, an attempt to convert the Orthodox that failed. Now it's people like me, non-Russians who love Russian Orthodoxy but have the sense not to leave the church. The Russians resent it and really resent the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which I attend. Of course we can't and I wouldn't try to sell out the Ukrainian Catholics, but I remain pro-Russian and committed to bringing back all the Orthodox together, and leaving the rite alone.
You should become a Greek Catholic priest and write a blog propagating union if you are sincere. What can a man in Pennsylvania do to bring about the return of Russia to the fold?
Thank you but I know it will take the Holy Spirit speaking to each Orthodox church's ruling synod; a miracle. They're all independent and as we see in the Ukraine, Constantinople invading Moscow's turf, they don't necessarily get along. They MIGHT listen to one Catholic layman in Pennsylvania or even a Greek Catholic priest with a blog (but Russian churchmen hate the "Uniates" so probably not) but again, extremely unlikely. As I wrote when I left orthodox christianity dot net a few years ago, after trying to talk Catholics out of leaving the church and being suspended for it, I realize that fighting online with Orthodox doesn't promote the cause I believe in so I stopped.

What can a man in Pennsylvania do? Sounds like pious rhetoric but: pray. Not just pray, but in their own rite, with their icons and prayer books, and even in their language. For the Holy Spirit to work that miracle to get them all to come back together, and in reparation for our mistakes, such as causing two schisms in America over clerical marriage.

Господи, помилуй.

Pictured: St. Andrew's Russian Orthodox (Pro-) Cathedral, Philadelphia, where I go to Vigil a few times a year, to prepare for the few times a year I receive absolution and Communion in the Catholic Church.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Can and should we try to do Catholicism all in Orthodox terms?

From a discussion elsewhere in social media regarding byzcath.org.

Believe it or not, byzcath.org runs a disclaimer stating it's not really a Catholic site. Of course I get that's it's supposed to be ecumenical with the Orthodox so they're welcome. Wonderful: so am I! But through the years a lot of the people there get bitten with the same anti-Western bug as the Orthodox but even more obnoxious because they're on the defensive. Anti-Catholic Catholics, just like the Western liberals. Much of this online peanut gallery does come clean and leave the church. They understandably fall in love with the rite and justifiably get frustrated with its imperfect expression by Catholics, so they fall for the Orthodox line, mistaking the rite for the whole true church, and leave. One of the things that frustrated me on my road back to the church was thinking the board and these people would be Catholic, but, really, almost every convert Byzantine Catholic I met online (and sometimes in person) 15-20 years ago ended up leaving the church! Ethnics rarely talk like this; with them you get the opposite problem of ignoring the Orthodox. But they NEVER attack the church's teachings, and I'm honored to worship with them.
During the Ruthenian liturgy translation controversy, somebody said he was done arguing and was going to be "chrismated into Orthodox Church." I pointed out that, according to Catholic doctrine, he was already chrismated, and it would be a sacrilege to try to repeat it. The Orthodox priest moderator wouldn't stand for it.
Orthodoxy really teaches that only they have sacraments per se, because of their one-true-church claim. How they see ours is a matter of indifference, even carelessness. "Don't know; don't care." They will economically recognize our baptisms, confirmations/chrismations, and ordinations if they feel like it, or not! Our bishops are, in themselves, "absolutely null and utterly void" like the Anglicans, just for being outside their oikoumene.
Which is why I have a problem with practicing Catholicism with Orthodox theology. OK, but only for some things because their sacramental theology on those points you mention is BS.
I still say Byzantine Catholics' calling is to do Catholicism, not just the easy parts but all of it, papal infallibility and all, in Orthodox terms (I don't claim to know how) but I hear you. That Orthodox sacramentology is BS, even though it came from a Church Father, St. Cyprian of Carthage. The Church Fathers weren't infallible; the church doesn't accept everything they wrote as doctrine. Filter Cyprianic sacramentology through the church and you get the correct point that being in the church matters as much as correct doctrine and "lines of succession." If someone claims he's an Orthodox bishop or priest and tries to show off his "lines," you know he's a fraud. Vagantes (bishop and priest wannabes) are a byproduct of Western sacramentology (via Church Father St. Augustine of Hippo: correct doctrine and lines of succession give you valid orders), in which we're generous recognizing the non-Catholic East. (Sacramentally, they are still part of the great Catholic family.) Worth the mess to give the East their due, so it especially hurts when the non-Catholic East doesn't recognize us. (A thing that sold me on Catholicism.)

The only reply I can come up with right now for your challenge is that because Orthodox doctrine is only the first seven councils of our doctrine, it's all true and doing Catholicism this way is possible and even desirable as an option. The church has many schools of thought and spirituality even though there is only one set of doctrine.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Battle of the patriarchs: the church mess in the Ukraine

I go to the Ukrainian Catholic Church for Liturgy and Communion. I go to the Russian Orthodox Church, whose music I know, for Vigil as Communion prep. I see our lack of such services as an ecumenical opportunity: that the Byzantine Catholic churches are not perfect is a reminder that our work is far from done. (Part of that work is explaining the entire Catholic faith all in Orthodox terms.) And why duplicate services? Let's buddy up. Anyway, this whole row in the Ukraine is unseemly and makes our work, of bringing ALL the Orthodox into the church, so much harder. (And yes; it's THE Ukraine, for the same reason I don't say "Paree.") Not Uniatism: we're not trying to break them up. Metropolitan Sviatoslav is canonically in charge — for now. But of course most Ukrainian Christians aren't Catholic — yet. They seem about evenly divided between the original canonical Orthodox there, the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Onuphrey of Kiev, and what was ex-Metropolitan Filaret's Kyiv Patriarchate, now Constantinople's metropolia there possibly becoming autocephalous: Metropolitan Epifany. When you hitch the church to politics, pretty soon it's about the politics, not Christ. Ukrainianness (and Russianness for that matter) is well and good, but God didn't become man, suffer, and rise again to be a mascot for Ukrainianness. Religiously, their independence is a matter of indifference for me. I don't live in the Ukraine.

The Russians are right. De facto, ecclesiastically the Ukraine is theirs; autocephaly is up to them. Metropolitan Onuphrey is de facto the rightful Metropolitan of Kiev, the head of most of the Ukraine's Christians, the Orthodox. If all the Orthodox returned to us, de jure he would be metropolitan; Sviatoslav should either step aside (as Andrew Sheptytsky offered to do) or the two could co-exist but ultimately there would only be the Kiev metropolia. The Patriarch of Constantinople has no right to do what he's doing in the Ukraine.

Sviatoslav is not perfect: he harps on "rights" and religious liberty like a Western liberal. Frankly I tune him out.

Yes, I know the Kiev metropolia, not only all of the Ukraine but Byelorussia, was ours at one point, the 1596 unia, squashed by Russian expansion and persecution, but that's water under the bridge. We ought to be concerned with reconciling all the Orthodox now, not holding grudges.

Remember, our goal is to bring BOTH Constantinople and Moscow back into the church. We are not trying to break up the Orthodox, so we should not try to pit Constantinople against Moscow.

This battle of the canonical patriarchs shows there is no such thing as the Orthodox Church; they're all independent. There is an Orthodox tradition, but only the Catholic Church has authority. But again, we are not trying to break them up. They need to get their house in order in the Ukraine. The best thing we can do is stay out of it and pray.

In practice among the Orthodox around the world it's not a big deal because Russians and Greeks don't mix (they speak different languages and sing different music) and so far the other patriarchs remain in communion with both.

I do think the U.S. government is behind some of the trouble in the Ukraine; they're still fighting Russia. For heaven's sake, why? Our left are angry that it's not Communist anymore and is authoritarian and Christian. Hooray for Putin's Russia. Beats social-justice warrior America. I have a portrait of the Tsar in my living room and yes, I'm Catholic.

The Crimea is Russia; I'm happy for them, getting what they wanted. Arguably so is the eastern Ukraine but I won't push that. Everybody I've known from there, including the Crimea, didn't want to be in a separate country.

P.S. The Ukrainian parish I go to is not very nationalistic. Everybody there I know is like the Rusyns; their families came to America before World War I when there was no nation of the Ukraine and they didn't much care which country their villages belonged to. They were from Austria-Hungary; Galicia. They're second-generation, speaking English, but Ukrainian is their first language and they can switch back to it just like that. The ethnicity is there but not promoted; the church sign says "Eastern Catholic," not Ukrainian, hoping to get non-Ukrainian seekers, who so far aren't forthcoming. Services are 90% English. It's a tightrope: suppress the ethnicity or become an ethnic club and either way the community would be doomed. The parish is doing what it should.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Christ the King

Much to think about with this feast, which is recent (Pius XI in 1925). You can argue that only traditionalists really still teach the social ideas of the church, the Social Reign of Christ the King and maybe Fr. Coughlin's ideas, part of the "integralism" that even Novus Ordo conservative Catholics dismiss. Catholic ghetto is Christian community that liberals hate. Monarchy is probably the best way. Reunite Christendom in the Catholic Church by reconciling the kings, not setting up republics against them unless you really have to. Of course we've always liked confessional states even when they're not kingdoms, such as Franco's Spain and de Valera's Ireland. They're good. But we don't need them. We can live under a Protestant king (and we Americans should have been loyal to ours) or neutral republic (Ron Paul's America) if we have to. Jesus said, as quoted today, his kingdom is not of this world but he is a king. Not a president, nor a mere idea or model for good behavior; a king. So what is this kingdom on earth? The institutional church? Not quite. That's unique and apolitical; we're not really clericalists (a caricature of the church) nor a theocracy. If you believe dopey liberal Catholics, it's really secular humanism, "bland ecumenicism" with some God-talk and pro-life stuff tacked on. If you were forced to listen to them 30 years ago, you might be forgiven for thinking the kingdom on earth was the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Nor is it about unrestricted immigration, which is a kind of theft. No; again we're apolitical. We welcome a Catholic king and confessional state but can work with anything not actually hostile to Christ and to us. The laity have a lot of freedom in making political arrangements; again, we're not clericalists. (Fr. George Rutler: We're sacerdotalists. Easy to confuse the two but they're distinct.) All the church says socially is be fair (don't defraud the worker of his wages), help those in need (how is up to you; real refugees, not people trying to steal from citizens, bomb you, or spread their false religion), promote the family (such as traditional marriage and pro-life), and support the church's freedom, not necessarily a freedom for those in error. (You can do that, as in America, but it's at your own risk.) Shorthand for Catholic social teaching is being conservative on social issues but slightly left of center economically. We should criticize capitalism and our whole modern system, which is based on usury. But what works? According to our doctrine, we can have a mildly socialist system. But it would fail. As I wrote, much to think about.

As the choir sang in plainchant for the processional at Mass this morning, "Christus vincit. Christus regnat. Christus imperat." True God and true man, he's not a life coach or smile balloon in the sky. He is the king.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The people of God, and real Catholics can "fly on instruments"

A ramble starting with a good word for the laity's role in keeping the faith. It reminds me of Anglo-Catholic semi-congregationalism, why even in the '70s and '80s you had liturgically conservative would-be Catholics in the middle of a liberal Protestant denomination where they didn't really belong, and thus at least half of why I'm not Novus Ordo because I got to experience that, not just read about it or watch it on television. It's also part of the romance of Orthodox culture. To quote someone, if Greece tried to Novus Ordo-fy you'd have fistfights in the streets. At the Ukrainian Catholic parish I go to, a priest attacking the teachings of the church is inconceivable because I don't think the people would stand for it and I dare say the bishop would do something about it anyway (not a Cupich type). They're not militants; the conservatism comes naturally, the norm, like before Vatican II. Culture. By the way, in its homeland of Galicia the Ukrainian Catholic Church survived a modern persecution, being outlawed and hunted, going underground.

In the Roman Rite after Vatican II until recently you couldn't have the traditional externals anymore. There were a few outlier fighters for both the teachings and the externals, such as Lefebvre, who did good work, but not connected to them, in the official church, you had and have the lay watchdogs such as The Wanderer, and a sort of silent majority who hunkered down, going to the earliest and lowest Mass with the least funny business. Like the priests who stayed on message with what they learned in the '50s and earlier, knowing the teachings can't change, even when implementing liturgical changes as told to. These laity were also the whistleblowers about the gay priest sex scandal including minors; the dioceses blew them off: "Don't be judgmental; mind your own business," even "Be open to the Spirit"! Real Catholics who can make it through persecution. (Like what Opus Dei is trying to do among the elite; low-profile so not big on externals.)

It would have been nice if more people in the pews fought for the externals, but living without them, while not ideal, is doable. (But lots of people lost their faith and left; witness all the parish and school closings, and we're not done with those. We're broke. We spent down the money and goodwill we earned before Vatican II.) You may not have many landmarks anymore (when Roman Riters were still stuck with ICEL English, the liturgy was no longer a landmark) but your maps, compass, and star charts are still good; "flying on instruments" as I say. (Unlike GPSes they don't fail.) Acting on faith! It's not about a man with a title; while we believe in the episcopate, we don't worship the Pope's person. Nor at the end of the day is it about pageantry; some liberal Protestants, Episcopalians, imitate that. It's about hearing, believing even when not seeing, and knowing Jesus, the truth incarnate.

The externals: Catholic ghetto is Christian community that liberals hate.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Egalitarian nonsense and "body shaming"


One of the new lefty pieties is about "positive body image," against "body shaming," "fat shaming," etc. Again, bastardizing Christian charity. Of course a Christian with manners isn't rude to an unattractive person. Now apparently the anti-microaggression police don't want you to notice some people are more attractive (Ivanka Trump, for example: feminists hate her because they envy her), so the innocuous, dumb Miss America bathing-beauty pageant is now the Miss America Fake Job Interview Scholarship Contest. So what are we supposed to do, wear Mao uniforms? More the reality: unattractive men aren't allowed to remark on women's attractiveness; that show's "not for you, loser." No, it's slutting time for the few alphas; advertising only for them, whom the sluts are willing to share until the same sluts' looks dry up. Chateau Heartiste (in my links list to the right) writes that one of modernity's evils is no restrictions on female sexuality with restrictions on male sexuality. A few years ago an unattractive but accomplished British scientist was literally reduced to tears in public for daring to wear a tie with girlie pictures on it.


And I wondered one morning as I read the paper, which had an article about an unattractive member of staff on her beach holiday being encouraged not to try to improve her appearance, if all this is really a sophisticated way to make fun of these people and/or psych out girls who might become rivals for the desirable men. (Steve Sailer notes: "beauty tips" to catch a desirable man have been retitled "self-care." Women want to beat the competition in order to do that.)

Related: Face to Face (also in my links list), "Phases of feminism across the 15-year cultural excitement cycle." (By the way, he thinks, for good or bad, a Bernie Sanders-style revolution is coming soon to America.) And Chateau Heartiste here: Even the most lunatic feminist subconsciously knows female worth is tied up with female physical allure, so when feminists go feral they have a strangely self-contradicting habit of stripping naked to denounce “sexual objectification.”

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Reboot society

Reboot society. Bring back patriarchy. Extended families. Close-knit communities; Catholic neighborhoods and towns that take care of their people. You meet, marry, and have kids when young; the patriarchs (heads of families) vet and okay these unions because they're about uniting families and continuing communities. Dating is a cesspool; get rid of it. Jobs through family connections for the young men; child care and advice for the young women. No more unnatural prolongation of childhood; have children when your body says to, when you are a young but full-fledged adult. Work is for man; not man for work. Go back to the community (yes, "the Christian community") taking holy days of obligation and local saints' days off work (so they're like Sunday: church services and festivals). No more corporate nomadic moves. Our society now is built to break up families and communities, probably by design. Rootless individuals make good interchangeable parts (the point of the mass schooling that's causing mass shootings? — note that state high schools are a favorite target) and consumers (wasting money, resources, and goods). You can take the risk and move if you want to (for example, families and communities do go bad), but most people would stay put with their support systems, not being uprooted every few years like military families.

Catholic ghetto is Christian community that liberals hate, so some Catholics are ashamed of it. By the way, this kind of community is as natural to Eastern Christian cultures as to Latin ones.

From Opus Publicum's former site:
Reclaim society not for free-market ideology* or hawkish nationalism, but for our Lord Jesus Christ, King of all creation, rightful ruler of every man and nation.
The Catholic vision that as far as I know basically only the SSPX still teaches. (As I try to be, they are about principles, not a Latin-language club. But I am in good standing in the official church because I know our teachings can't change, no matter what Pope Juan Perón writes in a private letter or what the anti-Catholic media say. By the way, private letters by nature aren't magisterial even if the Pope says one is, so Francis is still Pope — barely.) Slightly left economically but right on social issues has long been shorthand for the church at least in America. (The Democrats before the Sixties revolution turned them against us.) Yes, the church should stand up to the law for humanitarian reasons but not as dupes for white liberals warring against white conservatives, let alone slavering to join the white liberal elite that scorns her. That got us Vatican II.

From the Anti-Gnostic's post "The 30,000-Foot View" (both he and Opus Publicum are in my links list to the right):
I set out some brief, operational tenets:
  • Immigration is destabilizing. Borders and citizenship are property and should be respected as such.
  • The State is not the ultimate human institution. It should be de-scaled to the provision of truly public goods.
  • The social safety net should be a net, not a lifestyle. I’m not convinced even that’s tenable.
  • Equality is a delusion. We can only try to give everybody a dignified life commensurate with their abilities.
  • Families are little kingdoms and the elders are the aristocracy. This is the minimal unit of the larger social order. Short of criminality and intra-family abuse, the regime is not concerned with the individual.
I would welcome a king, a father to his people in a way no president can be. A caudillo would do.

*Steve Sailer (he's in my links list too) on American "B-school" (business school): secular humanism meets the free market, so it supports every wacko ideology out there now, which is Christian charity knocked off course, and all to make a buck, because "some egghead said there's no truth" so lie and cheat away.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Honestly grooming the elite: in praise of Opus Dei, the upside-down lay apostolate



Started in Spain in 1928 by St. Josemaría Escrivá, Opus Dei is famous for being faithful to the teachings of the church. Its official line is the true but rather trite-sounding "helping ordinary people from all walks of life find sanctity in their daily work." Me: that's what parishes, the ordinary Christian life, are for. So what's up?

Forget Dan Brown. Please. It's as if someone told him to take the words "Catholic secret society" and run with them making things up, actually telling him not to research the real Opus Dei.

Here's my take on the Work. I'm not the kind of person they want (I'm just an aware autist) but I think St. Josemaría's idea is brilliant.

Take all your ideas of lay apostolates and turn them upside down. If you want showy church services and devotions and to stand out in the parish and community by wearing your faith on your sleeve, the Work is not for you. (I want a Tridentine parish. The Work is not for me.) If you were expecting flowery piety because of its Spanish origin, forget it. They're as disciplined as the Germans, but not a clericalized group at all. These apostolates, schools, for example, are entirely lay-run and are not nonsense like having Mom give out Communion. A few members live like a secular institute (which is basically a religious order without habits) and a few priests are attached as chaplains/spiritual directors (a rarefied thing I don't have), but the vast majority of members live in the world of politics, business, etc. Anyway, the Work's reputation as a secret society (it really isn't: you can phone their Manhattan office and someone will answer "Opus Dei") comes from the fact that they have always been discreet, low-profile, almost a stealth movement in but not of the secular world. An example: all of their schools have secular or WASPy-sounding names, not pious Catholic ones: "The Heights," not "Our Lady of Mount Carmel," for example.

Here's how Opus Dei really works. Egalitarianism is rubbish. We know there are naturally gifted, attractive people who are born leaders: National Honor Society, Phi Beta Kappa, quarterback, etc. Imagine if a discreet but strong, faithful, magisterium-loyal Catholic group recruited them young and developed their faith through catechesis, retreats, and spiritual direction. Eventually this person is CEO or a Cabinet member applying Catholic principles in the world, actually making a difference. If you're not the type they're looking for or your're not Catholic, they'll let you hang out with them as a cooperator (they're not members). There's a risk of spiritual pride working with an elite but the elite exists; make the most of it.

I've read The Way, 999 little sayings by St. Josemaría. It's only okay.

Pictured: St. Josemaría and his original Spanish college students.

Getting on and off the train: in praise of Orthodox worship


In the West people like their church services complete; short and manageable, like the good old Catholic or Anglican duo of priest and clerk reciting lickety-split. There are so many Low Masses because the people want them. (The Novus Ordo is a sliced and diced Low Mass junked up with sappy hymns.) Stay for the whole thing and you feel like you've fulfilled your duty. Practical. Let's look at something else I know, my second home, Byzantine Christianity (this is the Orthodox tradition, and we Catholics should not be afraid of the word Orthodox, but there is no Orthodox Church; they're all independent). In its native form it's not like that at all. (Neither is much of medieval Latin Catholicism. Native Byzantine Christianity is also a medieval folk Catholicism.) To understand, first consider something I heard; I forget where: that traditional monks don't see prayer as compartmentalized from work etc. but rather they are constantly in a state of prayer, raising their minds and hearts to God, an awareness and consciousness of God; the work in church only turns that up. That's what "pray without ceasing" in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 5:17) really means (what started the Russian Pilgrim on his Way in that famous book). So ideally in Byzantine worship the services go on and on and on, for literally several hours: perpetual prayer and a type of the perpetual worship in heaven. Several hours for the Russian Vigil Saturday night (Vespers plus Matins, really Lauds, plus Prime; called the All-Night Vigil) and again several hours Sunday morning for the offices (Matins for Greeks and other Eastern Europeans and Arabs; Terce and Sext for Russians) and Liturgy (Mass, itself over two hours). The Russian midnight round of Easter services really does last just about all night. Turning that state of prayer up or down: the rank-and-file laity DON'T stay for the whole thing and aren't expected to. If you approach native Byzantine worship like Latin Catholic or other Western services you will likely burn out. For the layman the church services are like riding the commuter train: you get on and off as you need. Only the clergy (including subdeacons and readers) and choir, like the driver/engineer and conductors, are there for the duration; few are called to do this (and even there, some choirs have been known to pass around a bottle of vodka). The layfolk receive Communion infrequently (midnight fast like traditional Latin Catholics), only a couple of times a year (again, like traditional/medieval Latin Catholics). Communion prep for the Russians includes going to Vespers, part of the hours-long Vigil the night before, and going to Confession. (If you only receive a couple of times a year, Confession before each Communion has you covered even if you don't use the concept of venial vs. mortal sin; a concept I find comforting, by the way.) Saturday night or Sunday morning, you stop by, buy a bunch of candles at the candle desk, put them in front of your lucky icons and on the panichida table for the dead (the souls in purgatory, we say — prayer for the dead logically presupposes an intermediate state), say your prayers, whatever they may be, chat with your friends, and then be on your way. (In traditional Catholicism East and West the laity actually have a lot of freedom.)

This is an ideal but assuming a society that no longer exists is often unworkable for a parish, so in Western countries both Byzantine Catholics and, less so, Orthodox shorten services. I'll be honest: among our people (Byzantine Catholics) in America much of this has died out, replaced with the American Catholic norm of relatively short Masses for everything. (I see that as an ecumenical opportunity to pray some of the offices with the Orthodox; pray, don't preach, so they all come back and the rite is left in peace.)

But the full form doesn't get more un-Novus Ordo. When Latin Catholics recover their own traditions, then they'll deserve to have the Orthodox take them seriously.

By the way, before I posted this, a Greek-American whose family went to the Old Calendarists in Astoria when he was growing up read it and vouched for its authenticity.

Миръ вcѣмъ!

Pictured: Churchgoers in Moscow.

Anglo-Papalists: we DID talk to them


Reunion Revisited: 1930s Ecumenism Exposed by Mark Vickers. Don't let the unfortunate secondary title scare you; this isn't about false ecumenism, the kind today, indifferentism, but its opposite.

The author, an English Catholic priest, does a good job demolishing many readers' expectations brought in from the narrative about these things.

This is much of the story of Anglo-Papalism, which outsiders think or used to think Anglo-Catholicism is but arguably its opposite. This faction of Anglicans claimed to believe everything our holy mother the church teaches and wanted to come in, except they thought Apostolicae Curae isn't doctrine (to their credit, they didn't want schismatic Dutch orders; that junk's for liberals) and hoped against hope for a corporate union, fancy talk for the whole Anglican Communion becoming Catholic. (Apostolicae Curae: We take Anglicanism at its word. The framers said in their Articles, "No Mass." We say, "Fine. No Mass means no orders.") Anglo-Catholicism is Anglican; Anglo-Papalism actually anti-Anglican, or rather, Anglo-Papalists claimed, implausibly, that would-be Catholicism is authentic Anglicanism. The Pope, not the Articles! Fr. Vickers seems to date the start of Anglo-Papalism with the Rev. Spencer Jones in 1898, in England, and it was a largely English phenomenon, a small but noisy faction among them virtually unknown in the Episcopal Church (but wait, there's more), but I date it earlier. Anglo-Catholicism actually started as a defense of Anglicanism against Free Church Protestants, unbelievers, and us! Its first sermon, at Oxford in 1833, protested an effect of Catholic emancipation in Ireland, suppressing Anglican dioceses nobody went to; it claimed Anglican dioceses there and everywhere else have divine authority. But there was always a faction that was what most people thought it was, exploring by private correspondence a reconciliation with us. I think the older F.G. Lee in the late 1800s was one of the first Anglo-Papalists: before Apostolicae Curae he admitted the church is right about Anglican orders; after his episcopal consecration, which he didn't really keep a secret (I think he really was a Catholic bishop and supposed to remain secret about it), Anglo-Catholics shunned him (he went from heroic ritualist slum priest to pariah), and he died openly Catholic.

Anyway, here are a few tidbits to get you interested; I don't make anything if you buy the book but you can donate to me through the button so named at the right of this page if the spirit moves you.

  • The narrative: the bad old Catholic Church before Vatican II cold-shouldered/slammed the door on dialogue with such people. The point in the book is this is resoundingly false. Not long after the slightly better known Malines Conversations, when the saintly Viscount Halifax, Cardinal Mercier, and some establishmenty Anglicans tried to talk, the church was very interested in the Anglo-Papalists and in the early 1930s held top-secret but officially approved talks with them. An archbishop who was an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Westminster was in the Catholic delegation; the Anglo-Papalist clerical one included the eccentric aristocrat Henry Fynes-Clinton of St. Magnus the Martyr, London (God love Anglo-Catholic personal eccentricity, and egalitarianism is rubbish), and the respected scholar Gregory Dix of Nashdom Abbey, Catholics in almost all but name. (Nashdom, like some Anglican parishes in London, did the traditional Mass in Latin. Not only were there Anglo-Papalists but Romanizers, who didn't accept all our teachings but were interested in union, with the Roman Rite as a part of that.)
  • The results, much like with the ordinariate, were underwhelming; few converted. One fellow was received as a layman. These movements are always mostly clergy, aren't they? We end up with a few good converts like Newman and that's it.
  • The Catholic Church didn't turn against the talks. Establishment Anglicanism, the Church of England, did. The archbishops of Canterbury and York did NOT want to talk to us and only half-heartedly did, to try to look fair; they really wanted to fraternize with other Protestant denominations. I dare say if these chaps were alive now they'd call us sexists, homophobes, and child molesters for good measure.
  • The man who started the talks was neither Catholic nor Anglican but a former Anglican layman turned Presbyterian minister, Sir James Marchant, awarded by the King for his moral good works, who wanted fame from the success of this endeavor. Nobody remembers him.
  • Anglo-Papalism was almost all English but had few adherents. But Fr. Vickers writes at length about one of its American movers and shakers, an eccentric Episcopal priest, Henry K. Pierce, and his sister. After decades of freelance work for union (I think he was independently wealthy), he did come into the church and was ordained, then put on the retired list so he didn't have to do parish work and could continue his unusual apostolate. He ended up a monsignor.
  • In 1908 at their General Convention (which can change not only policy but doctrine, a power the Pope doesn't claim) the Episcopalians passed the Open Pulpit Canon allowing other Protestant ministers to preach in its parishes. A number of their few outlier Anglo-Papalists, such as Fr. Paul James Francis Wattson, Mother Lurana White, and their Franciscan friary and convent at Graymoor, NY, came into the church the next year. With them they brought the wonderful Chair of Unity Octave, which it should still be. Even though another Catholic priest came up with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it's an indifferentist sellout. Fr. Vickers writes of Graymoor's conversion and the Octave but not the immediate reason they converted. Also not mentioned: in Philadelphia the Open Pulpit Canon led to the conversion of the Rev. William McGarvey, all his curates, and much of the congregation of St. Elisabeth's Episcopal Church; he also ended up a monsignor.
  • I was ready to read that the Anglo-Papalists were over the moon about the high point of Anglo-Catholicism, the Anglo-Catholic Congresses in the 1920s and '30s. (I met someone who had been.) Wrong, and I don't think it was eccentricity or being holier than thou. They knew that most Anglican high churchmen didn't really understand Catholicism and only liked the trappings.

The mother country had this movement because it is a Catholic land that's been defiled; the English are still hurt and confused. America's a Protestant land where lots of Catholics live.

My Episcopal to Catholic conversion: "I became a Catholic when I realized I wasn't one." The Episcopal Church today: imagine if the United Church of Christ pretended to be us.

Tridentine Anglo-Catholicism is my Western religious practice, not my allegiance of course. Thank you, gentlemen. And I'm chuffed to be in the church.

Jesu, mercy; Mary, pray.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Good soldiers caught in the middle: the story of a lay apostle

William C. Peffley, Jr. “Bill,” of Norristown, passed away on Tuesday, January 31, 2017...
The story of an apostolate and the decline and fall of American community life. Yesterday at my parish's monthly coffee hour in the undercroft I was reminded we have a praesidium (local ward) of the Legion of Mary, a lay devotional/pious-works society from 1920s Ireland, part of "Catholic Action." The lady at their info table and I (slightly) knew the Peffley family, fervent Legionaries who run "The Catholic Shop" in Montgomery County's now-decrepit seat, Norristown. (The King of Prussia Mall sucked the life out of that city, turning it into a ghetto.) I was last at the shop in 2011. She told me that patriarch Bill Peffley died about a year ago and the shop is being phased out, to continue online; for one thing, Norristown doesn't really have a Catholic community anymore.

In the '80s Bill and Mary Peffley were the kind of good Catholics who, disappointing to me, went along with the changes at Vatican II, but they did not compromise on our teachings. (Obedience and being laid back about nonessentials are good, and I had few role models for the latter, but liberal church folks, don't force your un-Catholic agenda on me, especially at my most vulnerable, trying to pray or even confess my sins. Follow our teachings and leave me alone, or join another religion. This is why I go to traditional services almost exclusively; it's not religious entertainment or an ego trip.) It's a big church with many callings: some are called to fight for the old ways, like the saintly Archbishop Lefebvre, with public displays of faith; others, like Opus Dei working low-profile, almost undercover, in the big, bad business and political worlds, do very different but equally good work. Good layfolk like the Peffleys and good parish priests like the late Msgr. James Murray who formed me in New Jersey, old soldiers for Christ, were caught in the middle, doing the best they thought they could. Traditional devotions were the only pre-Vatican II practices they were still allowed in church, frustrating to me because as I now understand, by themselves or mixed with services by liberals, they're a poor substitute for a traditional Mass and office.

Anyway, well done, good and faithful servant. There are legions of Bill Peffleys in heaven.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Why learn about alterna-Catholicisms?

Alternative ways of doing Catholicism fascinate me even when they're not right; in things outside of doctrine and jurisdiction they teach us a thing or two. Part of this fascination comes from the horror show that was the American Catholic Church when I came into it, in the 1980s, when it was protestantized and Modernist; American Protestants seemed to have got their wish of neutering the country's big Catholic minority, turning us into another denomination. Suppose you're in a parish and diocese that are train wrecks but there's a good-hearted bishop or priest with a pretty house church and holds more of the articles of the faith than the real Catholics do. People in those situations talking themselves into Anglo-Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, or one of the "independent" (vagante) churches are not right but it's very understandable. (Part of the problem is then the diocese for example can throw it in your face, pushing their heresy under the cover of "being in good standing with the church"; Archbishop Lefebvre once remarked on that.) Anyway, being under your lawful bishop, that is, in the one true church, is high church/Catholicism 101; Catholics can't go to the uncanonical (some traditionalist groups are not canonical but scrupulously not separate churches in principle), Orthodox, or independent priests unless it's an emergency and no priest in good standing is available.

To be fair, the Orthodox don't quite encourage that; they insist they are a different faith, not Catholicism under different management. They want you to convert, but to really convert. A few years back a loud woman online announced her intent to convert with her fingers crossed because she wanted to commune at the local Orthodox parish and there was no local Byzantine Catholic one, a reprehensible thing to do unfair to both churches (ecumenically bad because it tells the Orthodox not to trust us). I pointed that out and predictably got a lot of guff. Her will be done, I guess.

The lesson of ACROD for us: practices not to do with our teachings are good enough for both Slovakia and America.

The Episcopalians have a point: congregational loyalty (strong local community and a hedge against liberalism) and they love high churchmanship and credal orthodoxy, unlike Catholic liberals. Growing up with them is a big reason I'm not Novus Ordo, so, although we will never agree, thanks.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Two wrong extremes when talking about the Orthodox

I've probably rehashed this a few times but here it is (again).

Two mistakes for us Catholics to avoid when talking to and about the Orthodox.

  • Zoghby's branch theory: "We're both the church; it doesn't matter which side you join." From the late Melkite Archbishop Elias' (Zoghby) "All Schismatics?" approach, a distortion of our teachings, which 1) recognize Orthodox holy orders and thus their Eucharist (so in a sense everybody with real bishops is still part of the great Catholic family; our "branch theory") and 2) give never-Catholic Orthodox the benefit of the doubt. Some convert Byzantine Catholics, in love with the rite and the spirituality, both good, use this as an excuse to leave the church when their parishes' or dioceses' practice isn't Byzantine enough for them. (Thinking Byzantium is the whole church is a trap, the error of the Orthodox.) His indifferentism is as un-Orthodox, offensive to them ("ecumenist" is an insult to many of them), as it is un-Catholic. Logically, it would mean there is no church, at least none worth taking seriously (why most people don't go to mainline Protestant churches anymore). Long story short with the Melkites: Elya's right and Zoghby was wrong.
  • "No, Byzantine Catholics don’t worship like the Orthodox; the Orthodox worship like them/us!" Every ancient church, such as ours, claims it's the only true one but I would never say something this chauvinistic. The fact of one true church means normally only Catholic bishops and priests have "jurisdiction," meaning authority over a diocese and the power to grant absolution or solemnize marriages (in an emergency any priest, including Orthodox and laicized, is given jurisdiction; then, Catholics should ask them for the sacraments if no active Catholic priest is around), so strictly speaking, to us Orthodox and Anglican bishops are Msgr. Demetrios and Mr. Curry, for example. (Monsignor because that's not only for certain priests; it's also a title for a bishop without diocesan authority, including Catholic ones; also common European usage for bishops.) But people acting in good faith, that is, who aren't ex-Catholics, again, get the benefit of the doubt so using their titles isn't that bad. (Why I call Anglican priests Father; I'm not being disingenuous.) Anyway, the trouble with this well-meant statement by a Catholic (it was said to me 25 years ago) is it tells the Orthodox wrongly that we believe the practices of all Byzantine Catholics are perfect because they're Catholics so we want to change the Orthodox to be just like them. An understandable misunderstanding! No, we recognize that the Orthodox are the vast majority of Byzantine Christians (it would be stupid to think and act otherwise) and for us the Orthodox set the standard for the rite's liturgical practice. (St. Pius X officially founding the Russian Catholic Church: nec plus, nec minus, nec aliter, not more, nor less, nor other than the Russian Orthodox Church's practices.) Byzantine Catholics often latinized themselves centuries ago, which was not our original plan for them. We only tolerate that; we don't promote it.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Byzantine Catholics and the word "Orthodox"


Reclaiming Orthodoxy.

Yes, but. One thing I like about my part-time home, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, is in English it's not afraid of the term Orthodox. See the quotation below. I'd embrace what Fr. James Siemens and indeed Metropolitan Sviatoslav are saying except: 1) the Orthodox don't accept it and I don't want to be accused of lying, 2) the great majority of Slavic Byzantine Catholics don't think like this or talk this way (my part-time parish is typical in this regard) — many of the ones actually from Eastern Europe went to great lengths to remain in the church so don't even appear to stab them in the back, and 3) it seems to me that most of the Catholics who do this use it as a cover to attack our teachings: the National “Catholic” Reporter/Call to Action with a cool traditional liturgy; pseudo-Eastern Episcopalians. Most of them are obviously on their way out of the church and trying to take others with them. (They actually told me not to return to the church.) Byzantine Catholicism has much potential as a conservative, that is, authentic Catholicism "outside the box," without some Western cultural assumptions getting in the way (yes, you can have clerical marriage and be traditional); I hate seeing it perverted like that. (A problem I don't know how to solve: in America both they and the Orthodox are slowly dying out.) Don't get me wrong: I'm hip to describing Catholicism all in Orthodox terms, part of Byzantine Catholics' calling, even though, again, most Slavic Byzantine Catholics aren't interested in that.
May the Lord God remember in His kingdom our holy universal Supreme Pontiff N . . ., the Pope of Rome, our most reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan N . . ., our God-loving Bishop N . . ., and the entire priestly, diaconal, and monastic order, our civil authorities, and all our armed forces, the noble and ever memorable founders and benefactors of this holy Church, (our suffering brethren,) and all you orthodox Christians, always, now and ever, and forever.

— From the Great Entrance in the Divine Liturgy

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

What would a real Western Orthodoxy look like?


What would a real Western Orthodoxy look like?

Forgive me if I've covered this before. My latest big post made it past moderation at oh-see dot net. All Western Rite Orthodox end up mimicking the Byzantine Rite (the sound of a score of hammers hastily hanging up Byzantine icons, for example), the mirror of self-latinizations by Byzantine Catholics. It disrespects perfectly good rites and hurts your witness. My challenge: come up with a form of church that's entirely in harmony with the Orthodox ethos but all Western. The answer of course is an early medieval look and feel, a lot like non-Romanizing High Anglicans but only using the traditional Roman Rite minus the filioque (which, to be fair, wasn't originally there). A brand distinct from post-schism Rome.

Oddly the Orthodox are even more accepting of the Book of Common Prayer than we are; I guess they think they and the Anglicans share a common enemy, us. (We're the church worth getting mad at!) Over the past century they've always been friendlier with the Anglicans than with us.

The reactions reveal why Western Rite Orthodoxy after a century and a quarter has never lasted beyond the converts. The online Orthodox (mostly converts) are so anti-Western they attack the word "Mass." They defend the self-byzantinization (I'm convinced this stuff appeals to outsiders who mainly want a new identity, like "transgenders") since we're heretics so we deserve it. Talk about going where you're not wanted! And for all its problems and ill treatment, Byzantine Catholicism is centuries-old real communities.

Why do I bother with this board? I'm not interested in leaving the church! Because these alternative ways of doing Catholicism fascinate me. In everything that's not doctrine, they can teach us a thing or two. I liked the challenge of illustrating what I believe is a kind of Catholic spirituality, one of many.

Given the trouble brewing in Western society this will probably be my last post for the foreseeable future and possibly ever.

The blessing of the Lord!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

A Loyalist on the Fourth

Legally on July 4, 1776, nothing happened except some Americans committed sedition. Until Sept. 3, 1783, this remained our lawful flag and George III our King.


Since the Crown conceded our independence at the Treaty of Paris, and, since World War II, the capital of the empire is really Washington, not Westminster anymore, the question's moot. Still, our country's government was conceived in sin. In contrast:


The (Anglo-) Catholic vision of society people from the American transplant T.S. Eliot to my late rector, a Londoner who served in the Royal Navy twice (a rating during World War II and a chaplain in the 1960s), believed in.

After Mass this past Sunday our bells rang a familiar tune. I stopped, took off my hat, and sang. Really. "God save our gracious Queen..." Somewhere in the beyond my late rector smiled.

John Adams' claim that the people are “the Source of all Authority and Origin of all Power” is rubbish.

The American rebellion: Parliament wanted the colonists to help pay for the army's protection in the Seven Years'/French and Indian War (that was expensive!) and some of the colonists acted like brats about it; in New England, for example. Royal France supported the non-believer American rebel leaders to get back at Britain/settle a score after the French and Indian War (the second Treaty of Paris was payback for the first) and look what happened to it. Actions have consequences. The French Revolution was far more wicked than the American (because Catholic societies go for extremes: holiness and evil in the same culture; Protestants are lukewarm) but the same principles were at work. Louis XVI was not at all a bad man. He was doing his duty to benefit France. But the end doesn't justify the means as the church teaches.

"Contemporary Britain is a mess." I know. I was there. It's long puzzled me. On paper it should be the Burkean high-Anglican place T.S. Eliot believed in.

People think because I'm Catholic I should have an IRA poster on one wall and Taras Shevchenko and the tryzub on another. Stuff that for a lark. I'm pro-British and pro-Russian... because I'm Catholic.

Disclaimer: my opinion; I'm not claiming to speak for the magisterium. We can have different political opinions; it's not doctrine. That said, revolutionary republicanism, American, Irish, and Ukrainian, is un-Catholic. Historically, the popes wanted to reconcile the kings (tsar) to the church and then everything else in those countries would have fallen into place.

Believing we, already in the Anglosphere, should be a British/Commonwealth country doesn't mean I don't like my people or area; I like them as much as the next person does his. Sure, I go to local Fourth of July parades; they're really about local pride and good people. Things we still would have had if politics had gone the right way. It's not necessarily about being pretentious/affected, wishing one were in or from the UK. Without the rebellion we still would have had our own identity (including accents: English sounded different around 1600 when North America was colonized), but one that was British too, a lot like Australia.

The American people are wonderful, still, more God-fearing than Europe. The American republic, embodied by Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, and few others, has much going for it; functionally it created a good refuge for the church. The point here is our country was conceived in sin. Not so the mother country, for all its problems. It has an indelible mark on its soul, having been consecrated through the Catholic Church about 1,400 years ago. Even the flag still has Christ's cross in his blood.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Married Roman Rite priests? Sure, but...


Pope Francis has begun exploring the possibility of ordaining married men as priests to make up for a serious shortage in the church.
Fine with me but 1) some of those already ordained would be envious because they still may not marry*, 2) honestly, how many American Roman Riters would pony up to support a priest's wife and kids?, and 3) Roman Rite bishops like their priests to be like soldiers, easy to move around. Can't do that as easily with a wife and kids.

Of course we've been ordaining the married for centuries; the Roman Rite, which most Catholics belong to, doesn't but that's just a rule.

And married priests aren't a cure for the vocations shortage. Mostly, none of us has a big pool to recruit from anymore. With a population shrinking faster than the Roman Rite's, the Eastern churches in America don't get many either. Mainline Protestants, including the Catholic-ish Episcopalians and ELCA Lutherans, marry the ordained and ordain practicing homosexuals and women, and they're cratering.

Nearly no real apostolic churches marry the ordained (the little and shrinking Polish National Catholic Church in America does; they're a weird mix of Polish customs and old American Masonic liberalism); it's just a rule but not one to be changed lightly. (Orthodox bishops are celibate; they're usually technically monks.)

Photo: Yes, the cathedral of the archdiocese of my part-time parish has long had married priests from the Ukraine since the fall of Communism brought some immigration.

By the way, the church protects the Eastern rites by not letting men switch rites and canonical churches just to get married during seminary.

I understand that America has more married ex-Anglican priests, who are few, than married Byzantine Rite ones. One of those ironies, like how there are more Roman Riters in Greece and Russia than Byzantine Catholics.

*This caused two schisms in America that are essentially our fault. It's why Roman Rite clergy here treated Slavic Greek Catholics badly so one group of the latter left for the Russian Orthodox (what's now the OCA) over 100 years ago and another went to the Greek Orthodox nearly 80 years ago. (Still, if you think the church is only the East, I feel sorry for you.) The church can set and change rules; it decided to ban ordaining the married in North America for the Byzantine Rite. The Ruthenian bishop here opposed that ban and appealed to Rome but was overruled; many Ruthenian-American Catholics wrongly blamed him. Some say the ban no longer is in force, which again would be fine with me.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Why no to altar girls

My daughter received her First Communion this spring. At our parish today, it was mentioned that a lot of children will be moving this summer who have been altar servers and that the church was in need of volunteers for this. My daughter immediately turned to me and said she wanted to serve. I was so proud of her enthusiasm, but I was hesitant to say yes. As an adult convert, I don't know much about girls serving at the altar. I do know that pre-Vatican II it was reserved only for boys and young men as a precursor for the possible joining of the seminary. I am looking for a bit of knowledge on this since I am not well versed.
The church says you may do it in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which most Catholics use, but I hope you don't. Here's why not. Historically, altar servers were stand-ins for clergy, who of course are only men. I call altar boys JROTC for priests; recruiting for vocations as you mentioned. Having altar girls 1) sets girls up to be hurt because we can't ordain them (it's not that we won't; we can't), 2) drives away boys, who need and look for, yes, "male bonding" (partly why gangs exist), and 3) is an attempt by heretics to soft-sell women's ordination, which insults me because I left the Episcopal Church. This change happened under John Paul II; a reason I have no devotion to him. By the way, there is no big movement among Catholics to ordain women, because in our hearts we know we can't.