Sunday, January 08, 2012

  • My report on Pope Benedict’s restoration, in the parishes. Sunday High-ish Mass, priest, deacon (probably a seminarian in his last year; nice, nerdy kid) and incense in the town’s parish church, a beautiful turn-of-the-last-century building, a Victorian Romanesque-Gothic mix not wreckovated too much. The old tabernacle at the high altar is still used, which makes a good difference (a Catholic church is God’s palace as well as a ‘gathering space’), and the altar has a Benedict arrangement of crucifix and candles on it. (Use your altar rail like God intended!) The priest administrator seems a good conservative; he even reads the (saints truncated; that’s OK) Gregorian canon, fine with the new English text, and does the Dominus vobiscum and blessing at the end in Latin! (Even his modern vestments were OK; keep digging the old ones out of the sacristy drawers!) With the new English text, Benedict has fixed all the serious problems; unquestionably it’s really a Mass. (Before that, in English it was heretical lies; all you had to go on for consolation/assurance was the church’s doctrine, sort of like the government’s ‘full faith and credit’ backing our fiat money. That and the Latin master text, like the gold that’s supposed to be in Fort Knox, was fine. In practice, novusordism wasn’t Catholicism.) Musically it’s still more like Low Mass with hymns. (Christmas carols are nice but let’s chant the introit while Father censes for example.) Thomas Day explained that. It’s what the people want. Rather than chant (and the chant they do use is often dumbed-down/modern, but Father Administrator sang the real chant for the preface), you often get the soloist (at least in the loft in back, Italian-style, not at the lectern waving her arms at you here, thank God) showing off her talent singing hymns. Not liturgical. And if you’re having Sung or High Mass, call it that (the liturgical movement wanted High Mass to be the norm so the Novus Ordo dropped the distinctions; that kicked the Thomas Day factor into high gear and got rid of High and Sung Masses in the English-speaking world, the opposite of what the movement wanted), and man up and chant the gospel, not this Protestant business of ‘proclaiming’ it. Thanks. ‘Facing the people’, the altar girls (John Paul the Overrated’s choke), Communion in the hand (the libs’ disobedient fait accompli on bumbling Paul VI, the worst Pope of the 20th century), the laity grabbing the chalice (but most have always received in one kind; concomitance, the whole Christ is in every particle), lay flunkies giving out Communion and everybody receiving are still with us, entrenched in the local culture (protestantizations); they’ll take years to eradicate. I think the Pope and Father Administrator are choosing their battles (wise tolerance on nonessentials) and the Pope has done all he realistically can for now by eliminating the English paraphrase and its heresy. Perfect? By no means. As good as the old Mass? No. Good enough? (Is it really a Mass?) Sure. The next steps for Benedict are to high-church it gradually by example (and go retro with the rubrics) until you have essentially the Tridentine Mass as simplified around 1965 (rumour: he might dump the new canons, returning to Gregorian only), with OK vernacular versions like the English is now. And of course the old Mass for all who want it, as he already has ordered.
  • The school closings: what they should have said. There was a letter the priests in all the parishes had to read today. Of course it was a bunch of hot-air pious rhetoric and didn’t come clean on why they had to do it, and I understand they had to. They’re going broke. The archbishop should have admitted why: the depression and secularization from the larger culture, so fewer kids (‘declining enrollment’), thus far fewer schools; not their fault. But also what are their fault: Modernism and letting those relatively few lonely gay priests get away with abuse for so long, their covering it up and then having to literally pay the consequences in criminal cases and lawsuits. Your sin, including your selfishness, Fathers (and spare me the bull about telling lay teachers how to appropriately hug pupils – you did it and we all know it), is why Patrick and Gina are crying about having to change schools their senior year and can’t graduate with their friends. ‘We didn’t live up to our teachings. We screwed up, and ask God’s and your forgiveness.’ It was wrong and we’re sorry. That simple. Confession is good for the soul.
  • Opus Dei creeps out Damian Thompson. Me too. Especially after its Mexican sorta-clone turned out to be a huge fraud (its two priests I met gave me only a good impression; charming by design with maybe some sincere and holy people in it). Libs have always hated them, which of course makes them look good, but my acquaintance with them in the JPII era was underwhelming; they were overrated by trad standards like he was. Seemed a mix of neoconservatism, novusordism and self-promotion. Not interested. (Mass and office, please. Hold the freemasonry.) Pluses: Grandpont House, Oxford, what you’d think Opus would be like and like something out of Brideshead Revisited to boot, and St Josemaría’s ‘¿Qué es esta mierda?’ reaction to the new Mass, after which he never had to use it again. A minus: once met a lady ex-supernumerary (top layman/woman, basically a religious order without a habit), still a Catholic in good standing: ‘I was in it for six years. I hate Opus Dei.’
  • Ordinariate snark. Rude? Yeah. But knowledgeable with a point. Novus neocons sort of imitating Anglican practice because they like C.S. Lewis (don’t get me wrong; I like him too) isn’t as good as Tridentinesque teaching and practice from sincere old-school Anglo-Catholics, such as the ACism I walked on board as a teenager. (Essentially it was a monument to one man’s faith: imagine if Fr Toles had been ordained in the ’40s.) The good stuff: giving your own pre-conciliar religion back to you but with small parishes/good fellowship, in good English, and maybe, probably not, with new married priests, not some Americans’ idea of jolly olde England, 1662 in Sarum vestments or something. Of course I hope the ex-Anglicans who are the ordinariates (I’m thinking of the Americans, surprisingly mostly ex-Episcopal, who are Tridentinesque at heart; the Brits have been good conservative Novus for years) will solve that possible problem.
  • The online tempest in a teapot: Robert Mercer’s reception into the church, in a TAC church! He was a TAC bishop. Long story short: do I mind? Quite the opposite! This comment explains why this beautiful old shrine AC church is appropriate for this (take a gander: it’s a lib’s nightmare). But the linked reply to Noel’s understandable reaction also reminds me of the church’s surprising policy for such people preparing to convert. Despite Apostolicæ Curæ, it doesn’t tell the clergy to stop officiating (celebrating Mass)! As long as it’s still technically outside the church it gets that benevolent benefit of the doubt (you don’t need validity for efficaciousness), and that’s great. Way to encourage the already ordinariate-bound.
  • Semper eadem: I’m saying the same thing I would have in ’62. Religious freedom and ecumenism rightly understood are fine. More chant Masses. Let’s do some of it in English! Learn the office.
  • Jesus saves; Mary prays; Ratz is Pope. Carry on!

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