Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ukrainian-American Catholics in the movies: "My Life"


My Life (1993) starring Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman.

I'm posting this out of season liturgically (no weddings during Lent) but just discovered it. I have never seen this movie. Here it seems Ukrainian Catholics have had their due in the movies, and in the form of a big happy wedding with a solemn church scene and folky reception, alongside two other groups of fellow Byzantines, their Rusyn cousins in the American Russian Orthodox metropolia (The Deer Hunter) and the Greeks in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. My take as an outsider to begin with, somewhat in the know: just like the old Russian metropolia (now the OCA) in America's industrial Rust Belt, in The Deer Hunter set about 40-50 years ago, this community probably was last this lively about 30 years ago. Eastern-rite churches just don't do well after three generations in America, something I'm certainly not wishing on them. Quite the opposite! I go to such a community (Ukrainian Catholic) one Sunday a month, supporting it as best I can.

Cheesefare Sunday

Cheesefare Sunday in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, the last stop before Great Lent tomorrow. Low Divine Liturgy (Mass) as the cantor was absent: no singing nor incense, and at such Liturgies everything here is in English. The priest started his sermon with something from the Ukrainian archdiocese for Forgiveness Sunday, which is what today traditionally is in Byzantine Rite (Orthodox) monasteries (Forgiveness Vespers in some parishes is new): this was a new mini-service a bit Novus Ordo-ey but true. Went to Communion. The weekly coffee hour afterwards. Bought a box of parish-made pierogi. Got advice about my car (new springs?) and social history: in the '50s the original parish that this one came from had something like four Masses on Sunday with one High Mass, like the traditional Roman Rite. (Natively the Byzantine Rite doesn't have low Liturgies or more than one Liturgy a day on an altar.) After that, at the market I stocked up on tasty seasonal food for today (Polish pączki, "poonchkey"; my supermarket in ethnic and Catholic Delaware County sells them) and fasting foods both for Monday (Byzantine Rite) and Wednesday (Roman Rite, the one I'm canonically obligated to). Even went interfaith when I found hamantaschen for Purim. Ukrainian and Ruthenian Catholic Lenten rules for eating are almost like modern Roman Rite rules except they keep the Orthodox rule against dairy on Clean Monday and Good Friday, and like the Orthodox they don't say anything about the quantity of food on a fast day.

Impious but honest statement: if I last only 10 more years I won't have to worry about abstinence from meat and Lenten fasting anymore. Woo hoo!

P.S. Talking online with other Catholic returnees in the Christian East.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Holy Ascetic Fathers


Today, the Saturday before Great Lent, in the Byzantine Rite is the Commemoration of the Holy Ascetic Fathers: ancient monks and nuns. I enjoyed reading this morning's canon in my Uniontown office books (it takes a small library to do even an abridged office in this rite; I jump around in the books). Many saints' names, a few I'd heard of and many I have not. Nice this year as the Western Catholic and Orthodox Easters match (so the world's Byzantines are in sync); the different calendars are a cultural thing nothing to do with theology. Most people don't know that the Catholic Church usually has two Easters and always has two Christmases.
The holy ascetics are virtuous men and women who contended against the devil and their own passions. By examining their lives and their struggles against the Enemy, we take courage from the victory they have achieved, and are inspired to imitate their God-pleasing conduct. They also teach us that fasting is not merely abstinence from food, but involves refraining from inappropriate speech and unseemly actions.
My contribution to Byzantine Christianity in America: the Vestal church-calendar people used to label this day "Holy Hasidic Fathers" until I pointed it out one year. Oy vey!

Chaplets, prayer beads, are really an esoteric monastic practice in Orthodoxy (the beads are part of the monk's and nun's habit, worn on the left wrist), not a popular devotion like Western Catholics' rosary, a favorite of mine for "redeeming the time" but I'm a Mass-and-office Catholic.

Tomorrow: monthly Divine Liturgy with the Ukrainian Catholics.

Praise music in Catholic churches

This just in from my archdiocese:
Please join us for our first special concert uniting the praise music of Chester and Wallingford! Enjoy performances by St. Katharine Drexel’s Gospel Choir, the First Pentecostal Church Voices of Samuel, St. Katharine Drexel Spanish Choir, Shiloh Baptist Church Mass Choir, and St. John’s Adult Choir. Sponsored by St. John’s Justice & Peace Committee.
Oh, sh*t.

Don't get me wrong. Black American Protestants have a wonderful faith (this is sincere from me, not condescension) and I love listening to gospel music devotionally.

But you can see where this is coming from, from miles away.

In the context of American Catholicism, I have a reason to be suspicious.

Yes, it's only a concert, which is fine.

This music is not liturgical; it's devotional. It's Protestant.

These Catholics' fascination with Protestantism seems dated, from right after Vatican II, as does the likely "liberation theology."

Somehow I doubt the Spanish Choir (I'm 1/4 Hispanic; my dad grew up speaking Spanish) will be singing selections from Victoria.

Inculturation is fine.

But this "diversity" business is really a war that liberals including Catholic Modernists are waging on conservatives, including traditional Catholic culture, and even on the Catholic faith.

Who else pictures some old whites who read the National Catholic Reporter?

"Justice and peace" types, white liberals, often don't believe in Catholicism, which is why they like to try to Protestantize people like me. They used the charismatic movement in the '70s for the same reason. They don't even take the conservative Protestantism of many blacks seriously; they're just using its non-Catholicism and its cultural trappings as a truncheon against us.

Their "inclusivity" doesn't include my churchmanship. I remember this type well from the '80s. They think they're doing God's will; you're bad and/or sick if you object. And, exploiting non-whites, they can cry racism when you do.

P.S. An Eastern-rite church, Catholic or Orthodox, wouldn't have this; they love their own customs. And nobody calls them racists for it. But that's probably because most Americans don't know they exist.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos and Catholics in Orthodox countries


I'm not disowning Milo Yiannopoulos. Some sanity from a priest.
Milo Yiannopoulos was abused by a priest when he was only 16 years old [13?]. Milo himself has never abused a child (a small miracle considering what he had been through.) Today, he apologized for the dark humor he used to deal with that horrible abuse of his past. He even admitted it sounded like a promotion of such sin. But he didn't mean it as such, and a skeptic like me actually still believes him. Milo remains an orthodox Catholic, despite having being abused by a priest and turning him gay. Think about that. That can mean only one of two things: 1) It's all a show. *or* 2) Milo seeks the truth more than a political party. So, Milo might be obnoxious and even tragic in his pursuit of free speech in America, but the man is authentic and real. Fear has led not only liberals yesterday, but even conservatives today to cast the first stone at this man who is clearly broken, trying to figure things out. A fifth-century African orator (orator: one very clever with words, like Milo) was once famous for saying "Lord make me chaste, but not yet." You see, sometimes people can be convinced of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but not yet have the strength to live the calling to sexual purity. (That crafty orator became the great and simple St. Augustine.) So, I'll respect any conservative *or* liberal who has the guts to admit that one's ideal (Christianity) does not yet match one's lifestyle (sin). These people actually become the favorites of Jesus Christ Himself: St. Peter, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Augustine. All of them were courageous but not perfect. So lay off Milo, or just have the guts to cast the first stone.
I was surprised that he's Catholic, given his name. Anyway, in politics and, I hope, friendship, homosexuality isn't a dealbreaker. Gore Vidal was an ally. In the clergy, if you don't commit crimes and don't attack the church's teachings, no problem; a lesson Anglo-Catholicism at its best taught me.

His Greek father didn't raise him. And there are Catholics in Greece, actually more Roman Riters than Greek Byzantine Catholics. ("Greek Catholic" means Byzantine Rite Uniates generally. "Uniate" cheeses off anti-Catholic Byzantine fetishists. Good.) The former are descended from converts on Venetian-owned islands centuries ago; Taki is a lifelong one. The latter were largely a rather recent, early-1900s missionary project of ours (plus a few Orthodox converted) that flat-out failed, plus that Orthodox country, the world's only official one, understandably defended itself.

The Russian Catholic Church was different but also a failure. Late tsarist intelligentsia read their way into the church so St. Pius X commissioned this project. It remained small and the Soviets squashed it. Like the tsars, they hated a church they couldn't own.

Going head-to-head with the Orthodox fails. The Ruthenians started a parish in Anchorage to bring in the Tlingits; it didn't. Likewise, the Orthodox going head-to-head with us fails; their Western Rite experiment (almost all converts) is microscopic and Eastern-rite churches generally fail within three generations in the West. (Their convert boomlet was mostly Protestants.)

It seems obvious to me that God wants their return to the church to be deep and whole rather than through piecemeal individual conversions; possible and desirable because they have real bishops ("corporate reunion": ideally, all of the bishops would come in at the same time), although of course we accept those conversions, as the late Catholic-turned-Orthodox-turned Catholic Fr. Serge (Keleher) said, quietly.

And once they were in, we would pretty much leave them alone. No latinizations.

Clip: Catholicism in stereo. Eastern rites (only the Byzantines in this are Orthodox) and the Tridentine Roman Rite, with Msgr. Kirill in Moscow and Cardinal Burke, among others, like dueling banjos.

Talking about Vatican II


I constantly have to educate "trads" about the pre-Vatican II Church, starting with using the 1917 Code of Canon Law to explain why you cannot call everyone a heretic and schismatic.
It's like the left's "everybody I don't like is Hitler" error.
It really kills me; it makes traditionalism look like a religion of fear and ignorance, easily exploited.
Right; we end up living down to our church enemies' caricature of us. I won't let the self-righteous liberals push me into an extreme position.
I stopped attending an SSPX chapel here because the people you describe pushed everyone else out.
I'm not surprised. The SSPX means well, and I know exactly what they're reacting to, self-righteous liberals telling them they were bad and sick, but they're wrong.
Well, I am not entirely sure what you mean there, but if not by principle, then certainly in execution!
I'll back off a bit: there is a spectrum in the SSPX, from the sound who simply are defending the old Mass and their culture ("the Novus Ordo is unfortunate but valid") to the unsound who worship their culture, putting it above the church, just like the Orthodox do theirs. Having been in and out of the church, I am convinced that liking the traditional Mass better isn't an excuse to leave your diocese (the church's basic unit) now that we have Pope Benedict's reform to the English Mass. Benedict the Great really did undo the effect of the council: the liturgical baseline everywhere is sound again. You can high-church the new Mass so it's virtually like the Tridentine, you can have a no-frills early-morning Mass lasting 15 minutes (I've been to those), and you can have low-church and/or experimental styles you and I might not like. It's all good.
Not sure I am that versatile, but I certainly see a broad possibility where the reform could have gone. I and another friend are currently exploring the 1965 Missa Normativa, which I believe Pope Benedict was moving toward. If only he had finished.
His reform was a big step in that direction.

Things went wrong for Catholics in the 1960s because the idea behind the council was wrong: experiments are fine but changing the whole church's culture was a huge mistake. I don't buy the claim that it was God's will; that's the liberals' self-righteousness. You had two things going on, with crossover between them: belief in space-age progress (the thought behind the council) and heresy (neo-Protestantism and Modernism). The strict constructionists about Vatican II ("let's properly implement it") are naïve; the game was to praise an old practice, then effectively abolish it a few lines down by making it optional. We can write new services but probably shouldn't. Best if we just ignore Vatican II, which we can do since it didn't define any doctrine.
I told my friend that I often wonder how the church might have gone if they simply decided to modernise rather than change. The 1965 Mass updated the Mass but it remained essentially the same Mass. It could still have been done with modern styles of vestments and music and such. Not that I favour that, but the integrity of the faith would not have been as much impacted.
All the good that Vatican II ostensibly was trying to do could have been done with less or no harm to Catholics with just a few papal pronouncements, one authorizing the vernacular as an option for the Roman Rite (which almost everybody would have adopted), one authorizing limited liturgical experimentation (inculturation is a good idea, for example) but essentially keeping the old Mass (as was the case in 1965), another stating that American-style religious liberty is an option, and still another authorizing some dialogue with non-Catholics.

The Russian Orthodox metropolia in America, now the OCA, did it almost right then: they didn't write new services, only translating the old ones. They did have their worship war, though: because of the Zeitgeist (space-age progress) and particularly a desire to Americanize (which obviously Catholics strongly had too; Fulton Sheen was a fan of the council), they were ruthless, suppressing Slavonic and the Julian calendar.

Thumbs up to space-age traditional Catholicism. That was happening right before Vatican II.

Everything that's not doctrine is negotiable.
It is still possible, and I think its time is still coming. The vision of Benedicit did not die; it simply took a break.
He isn't even that conservative. Just Catholic and, a Bavarian, without American Catholics' hostility to high liturgics.

The biological solution is under way. Church liberals are old. Young Catholics who no longer believe leave the church. Those who remain want real religion, not that of the liberals. We will have another Pope Benedict.

On just wanting to be Catholic

I'm a Novus Ordo Catholic, and the more I learn about Traditional Catholicism the more I say to myself, "I just want to be Catholic."
I hear you. I'm a traditional Latin Masser and have taken to calling myself a "very conservative Roman Riter" rather than a traditionalist. Distancing myself from the sedevacantists (that scenario can happen but isn't), conspiracy theorists (Jews! Masons! Six Protestant ministers wrote the Novus Ordo! Imposter Pope! Benedict is still Pope!), neo-Nazis (but fascism is an option; I'm pro-Franco and many Jews hate us), people who deny the validity of the new Mass even as reformed in English by Benedict XVI, and people with devotional hobbyhorses such as apparitions taken too far.

"You are not what we were." The real pre-Vatican II church was deep and broad, not the narrow caricature or fever swamp the traditionalist scene can be.

I read conservative Anglicans and conservative Lutherans to stay focused on God and love instead of majoring in the minors. But I believe everything the church really teaches and go to traditional services, either the Tridentine Mass or the Byzantine Liturgy (I'm functionally biritual, liturgically Orthodox at home and one Sunday a month in church), almost exclusively (Novus Ordo on holy days of obligation or when traveling).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Papal positivism is not Catholicism

Nothing shows more clearly the absolute FAILURE of Catholic religious education in our country than the fact that many Catholics believe that the Pope can change doctrine.

He
CAN'T. He's ONLY the Pope.

No creed of the Church has the words "I believe the divinely inspired words of the Roman Pontiff."

None of them do, because papal positivism is
NOT Catholicism. It is, in fact, idolatry.
In fact as my old friend Jeff Culbreath pointed out after he was received into the church, we Tridentine Massers are among the least likely to buy that stuff. We're actually more like the Orthodox minus the cultural idolatry (no wonder I can be at home in both rites): run largely by custom, where the ordinary practice of the Catholic religion won't just stop.

I don't watch EWTN.
I can't help but sense that ultramontanist tendencies must have contributed to the chaos during or following the Second Vatican Council.
They sure did. The liberals knew exactly how to order Catholics around. Archbishop Lefebvre remarked on that. (He actually wasn't an extremist to begin with; the self-righteous revisionists made him one.) When I came into the church in the '80s, priests left and center-right would tell you it was all God's will and you were disobedient or even outside the church if you hated it. Liberals would likely add the condescension of pathologizing you (playing psychologist): you want things to stay the same because you're sick. (Pope Francis' "rigidity" remarks.)
What has EWTN got to do with it? Raymond Arroyo is one of Pope Francis's critics. Besides, the fact that we are not supposed to idolize the pope doesn't mean we shouldn't honor him.
You know things are serious when EWTN criticizes the Pope! Still better than under John Paul II, thanks to Benedict XVI's reform of the English Mass. I remember EWTN's "I like Vatican II" '80s version: give up that artsy old-fashioned stuff and become a charismatic, using devotional stuff to fill the void. The John Paul II fan club. No, thanks.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What think ye of "thou"?

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

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

Presidents good, bad, and should-have-been


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

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

P.S. The American Revolution was a mistake.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Charismatics: The other American Catholics who still go to Mass

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

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

Sunday quick notes on religion

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

OicwRs: Still sliming after all these years

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

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

"The Pope was the first Protestant." False.

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

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Quick notes on religion

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Not eating meat on Fridays


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

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rebutting Ortho-ganda


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

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two anti-convert vignettes

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

Political potpourri


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

My non-Valentine's Day post


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

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

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ecclesiastical bibs and bobs


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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Good reasons to leave the Catholic Church

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

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

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

The Sunday called Septuagesima


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Possibly autistic saints, the sanctus bell, and Lourdes


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

Friday, February 10, 2017

"The renewal is too a success!": Rebuttal


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

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


Not clickbait: "Pope polite to ecumenical guest."

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Catholic neocon crap: "Living Vatican II"

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

Intercommunion and more


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

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