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.