Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Accusing the church and the clergy: Same old story

Interestingly that's what the Protestants accused us of when they started.

Then you had the Anglicans. Part of their opening game was to make the same accusation because they wanted to steal the monks' lands. Then, even after they changed the theology and church ceremonial, they cheerfully ripped off the poor as much if not more than the most corrupt medieval churchmen (many of whom weren't, such as most English monks). Rectors as landlords living off multiple parishes while not doing any pastoring; that's what poorly paid curates were for. Guilds/confraternities, chantries, and monk-run schools for the poor were history. Forget that hard popish mumbo-jumbo; gimme! A shell of the church's structure (hierarchy including episcopacy is God's plan; establishment can be good) without its substance. No wonder the English pretty much lost their faith at the "Enlightenment." Actually, they'd been happy being Catholic; that survived furtively into the 1580s. By 1600 they'd been beaten into accepting the new church, but really being Catholic, they treated it with the same reverence they did the Catholic Church. (The Puritans, who were serious about Jesus, were fanatics who understandably didn't appeal to most people.) Their Civil War and the "Enlightenment" pretty much killed lively Christianity in England (men such as C.S. Lewis were an exception).

An anti-Catholic country now but because it used to be a Catholic one, it's haunted by the church in a way the U.S. isn't. You had a revival of the church once it wasn't outlawed anymore and Catholics were allowed to vote, in the 1800s. And after that, Anglo-Catholicism, some Anglicans' attempt to assert their claims (one of several attempts to reconvert the people) that became an emulation of the church. 25-30 years ago you could find high churchmanship in Catholicism there if you were looking for it.

Church and state: St. Thomas à Becket

I recommend the movie Becket with Richard Burton ( Jenkins, from Wales: how many knew one of the greatest British actors spoke English as a second language?) and the maybe Irish-born Peter O'Toole (yep, Catholic, but he had a horror story about the teaching nuns forcing him to use his right hand; fallen nature and all that).

Like the other great '60s British costume drama about a saint and another Lord Chancellor, a man for all seasons. Lots of parallels.

Hierarchy including episcopacy is God's plan. True Christianity isn't a bunch of whiny teenagers rebelling against Daddy ("question authority, man") like some libertarians. (Jesus couldn't be tricked: we render unto Caesar as long as it's possible.) While we don't have to be monarchists, this form of government (family writ large) is natural and lends itself well to the plan, which is why I respect them. Also, in America we were freer under the King than we are now and morally we were obligated to remain under him; the few grievances didn't warrant the rebellion. (Loyalty oaths to Christian kings matter.)

So it was a wonderful thing when under Constantine, the sin city of the Roman Empire turned around and started to become... entirely Catholic. The beauty of Byzantium. (Putin is a new Constantine, sharing the great caesar's faults, rechristianizing his deeply catholicized empire.)

But of course, what with sin, that solution has always had its problems. Early on, some started mistaking the Catholic empire for the church! The Pope was no longer in the empire, so eventually, adiós, Pope, said Byzantium (and the Byzantium Jrs. such as Mother Russia). And, of course, corrupt churchmen putting money, power, etc. (which buy sex) over God and the people. Complacency is a perennial temptation. Which leads to Henry II and his old drinking buddy/Lord Chancellor (classic Bad Catholics who backslid but never attacked the church's teachings) turned saintly archbishop (primate of England, the realm's ranking churchman), Thomas à Becket.

Christianity is a faith of paradoxes, the God who's one in three, true God and true man, death giving life, becoming incarnate in the world as both the church and Christian society (as the great Anglo-Catholic T.S. Eliot wrote about, as indeed he did about Becket, ironic from an Anglican), yet at the same time God's kingdom is not of this world. On my road back to the church I met the late Archimandrite Serge (Keleher), the former Russian Orthodox priest who explained to me his road back: "in [small-o] orthodoxy there is always tension." Going along with the state too much is one of many errors to try to simplify the faith to relieve that tension. (As are mistaking Byzantium for the whole church and, getting dissatisfied with the official versions, moving to smaller, more exclusive cults of it: ROCOR, Old Calendarists, etc. Convert Greek Catholics, having fallen in love with Byzantium and becoming dissatisfied to the point of leaving the church, are susceptible to that.)

So because of that tension, throughout our history we have a few saints and saints-to-be who have stood up to the authorities only when they had to: the Roman martyrs whose names the priest still recites in the Canon (the second oldest anaphora still in use), Becket, More, Fisher, Clitherow (I have been in her house: I will never look at the Prayer Book the same again) and the recusants, Romža (like the Sultan, the King, and the Tsar, the godless Communists hated the church because they couldn't own it like one could the Orthodox and the Anglicans), Romero (never mind the Catholic Modernists who try to make him a mascot), and the martyrs of Syria today (you don't know how you'll react if ISIS breaks down your door).

Complacency. We American Catholics have always lived in a hostile Protestant host country, not as hostile as the mother country (doubly hostile because it used to be Catholic — Becket! More! — so it's haunted by the church in a way our country isn't) but hostile nonetheless. But the lapsed Protestant/deist founding fathers set up a free country largely to stop the Protestants from fighting each other, which worked for us (and the Jews), and besides, they sort of acknowledged us as the mother church; as Christians we did fit in. (There was once a low-profile colonial English Catholicism in America that survived for generations after independence.) Thus massive immigration from newly emancipated Ireland, the regions of southern Italy, and Poland made a great Catholic home and transformed the country. (Sorry, the French and the Spanish were locally important but not formative nationally.) Understandably it scared the Protestants (battle of the true-church claims, and the Popes were rightly wary of religious liberty) but eventually the Northeast almost became a Catholic "country" ("What parish are youse from?") and our hosts came to love us. We were pillars of the community, uncompromisingly Catholic and patriotically American. Cardinal Spellman's Powerhouse, and God made the Fighting Irish No. 1.

Then late mid last century, it all went, just like that.

"Will no one rid us of these meddlesome priests?"

The Protestants re-energized, turning into the politically correct (repackaged Reformed religion), and we Catholics, pleased at having arrived in American society, largely went along with their lead. (The Rockefellers bought off Fr. Hesburgh. So much for the Fighting Irish.) Lots of bishops and politicians want to keep having their pictures taken with the president, etc. Authentic Catholic voices are few now, from standing up against invading Iraq last decade to defending true marriage (the problem goes back to contraception, abortion, and no-fault divorce; that movement basically made gays a mascot) to pols really opposing abortion (the world always wins: "Free sex, people!") to decrying materialism/consumerism, promoting the social reign of Christ the King, not the heaven on earth the founding fathers seemed to promise (not just Henry II's selfishness, but a dangerous enemy based on high-sounding principles, just like the Protestants). Churchmen such as Burke (make him Pope) and Cordileone (Lionheart!).

We love our country (God-given love of family, community) but "our country, right or wrong," isn't our teaching, nor is "our government, right or wrong." The church is slowly recovering from its tactical (not doctrinal) sellout of Vatican II (the libcaths are dying out and the lukewarm leave) but it will be a long, slow recovery; we haven't bottomed out yet.

Sancte Thomas, ora pro nobis.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmastides real and fake

Interesting, plausible claims from Ann Coulter: Happy Kwanzaa! The holiday brought to you by the FBI. Only white liberals take Kwanzaa seriously. Maybe the outrageous black-militant group of the man who invented Kwanzaa (which no American blacks celebrate; they celebrate Christmas) were FBI-backed agent provocateurs. The Black Panthers neither hated whites nor sought armed revolution. Also: The seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army, another invention of the Worst Generation. Happy fake Hanukkah, white liberals.

On well-meant equal time promoting Hanukkah to include Jews: by nature it's not a public holiday; it's just prayers at home, very minor in Judaism. (Celebrating the same God as Christianity; the Maccabees' restoration of the Temple is in the Catholic Old Testament. The only reason Christians don't celebrate Hanukkah is early on we determined you don't have to be Jewish to be Christian; God's new covenant has replaced the old one with the Jews.) Comedienne Sarah Silverman has said she and many other American Jews don't mind "Merry Christmas." The big cultural penumbra* (winterfest and sentiment about the celebration itself, the reason for it being forgotten**) around the real, Christian holiday is all-inclusive (really Jul/Yule, a Germanic holiday that makes perfect sense naturally including geographically: fight off depression in the dead of winter, marking the solstice); Jews accept "Merry Christmas" in that spirit in which it's given, and many participate in the secular aspects of the celebration, just like most lapsed Christians. There's a place for "Happy holidays," to be polite (at work, for example), but it's Christmas. "Winter break"? How Soviet. Anti-religious.

By the way, thanks to Prince Albert, by way of the mother country 150 years ago, American Christmas is very German: the tree, for example (originally part of the cultus of Odin?), once unknown in England (not done in colonial America) but a Central and Eastern European custom (the Poles and Ukrainians got it from their German neighbors). I think the first Polish Pope started that at the Vatican nearly 35 years ago.

Easter has no parties or gifts so lapsed Christians don't care about it. Christmas wins by forfeit: the feast of the Incarnation (mind-blowing: God became one of us), the Western Catholic holiday par excellence. Fits nicely with the Germanic theme of homecoming, gathering for warmth on the shortest days of the year: the Protestants want to come home, forgetting they don't like us, putting up statues of Jesus and Mary, lighting candles, and singing in Latin. When I was driving around on St. Stephen's Day this year, my 1958 AM car radio picked up an evangelical station playing... polyphony in that language.
Why do TV stations have spots between commercials wishing everyone a Happy Kwanzaa each day, but Christmas wishes have stopped as of the 26th?
Because most people are ignorant about what Christmas really is. They think it's only one day. Or, in America, secular Christmas starts at Thanksgiving (now the runup starts with Halloween) and ends Christmas Day or maybe New Year's Day, a month of shopping and drinking parties culminating in presents and big dinners, not the 12 days of such starting the night of Dec. 24 it was for traditional Christians. It's replaced Advent (but to be fair, some cultures have a festival and gifts for St. Nicholas' Day Dec. 6). At least having Christmas and New Year's just over a week apart has accidentally preserved the idea of the 12 days of Christmas (nobody knows what the song means anymore) or at least the church's idea of the feast having an octave.

A man from Italy once explained to me that traditionally Christmas was a rather low-key, only religious holiday (holiday = holy + day). You had the traditional vigil Feast of the Seven Fishes (abstinence from meat the day before the feast), went to Midnight Mass, and that was about it. But of course Christmas really ended with the feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night); that's when gifts were exchanged. Traditionally in Spanish countries, Epiphany (Three Kings) was the gift day too. Now in Italy, American Christmas has been encroaching.

One of my first liturgical lessons as a kid in the Episcopal Church: "Why are we singing Christmas carols in church after Christmas? That's stupid!"

As for Kwanzaa, blacks are only about 12% of the American population so many well-meaning whites in the media are ignorant.

To be fair, taking away Kwanzaa's Commie lessons, geographically wrong African affectation (the West African ancestors of American blacks didn't speak Swahili), and attempt to rip off Christmas, a week to celebrate the real history and culture of American blacks, from deep Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal Christian faith to huge contributions to popular music (have a day for each), is a good idea in theory. (There is Black History Month, but anyway.) Maybe the week of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Promote self-determination as in neighborhoods, minus Kwanzaa's Bolshevism. The trouble is you can't just create customs; it would likely be as fake and unpopular as Kwanzaa, no matter how well meant.

*The Japanese picked up secular Christmas from the American military occupation after World War II; most of them aren't Christian so they don't know or care what it originally meant.

**The difference between Christmas carols (which are Christian hymns; the only time of year we hear them in public!) and Christmas music?

Holy Innocents

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy [Jeremiah] the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
On the church's Roman Rite calendar (most of us are Roman but we include all of the Christian East, including those for whom it's still the Nativity Fast, celebrating Christmas Jan. 7: the Ukraine, for example), it's the feast of the Holy Innocents, a sad note from history in the middle of Christmas; the price of Christ's birth. A natural day to commemorate the victims of abortion and offer healing and forgiveness. Killing an inconvenient baby is the same as infanticide. Despite all the conditioning/indoctrination women now get, a pregnant woman likely knows what it really is and grieves her lost children, even if she's not aware of it. As the liberal Jesuit Patrick Arnold dared suggest about 25 years ago, might abortion be a peculiarly feminist, even feminine, form of violence? Often pushed by selfish men such as Herod, but a perennial temptation for women. (No pedestals here: fallen like the rest of us, women are capable of great cruelty. By the way, they were among Hitler's biggest supporters.) The destination of the unbaptized is a matter of speculation (yes, Catholics can do that about things that aren't doctrine). The only things we're sure of regarding them are their souls live on, they will be in the resurrection of the body with the rest of us, and they are not in hell; no suffering. Either they're in limbo (a pleasant state of being but without contact with God) or heaven. (Benedict XVI doesn't believe in limbo but you can if you want to.) Meanwhile, of course, despite all the sermonizing and attempts to appeal to reason, the secular world will turn a deaf ear for the foreseeable future, because of "free" sex. Inconvenient lives don't matter. People literally kill for sex (our God-given urges to unite and reproduce knocked far off course); Planned Parenthood literally banks on it. Mercy on earth and may the babies rest in peace. P.S. "Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy. Blessed be her holy and immaculate conception." Redeemed by her son, just as these lost sons, Jewish martyrs for Christianity, were.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

In the rear-view mirror: The Episcopal Church

Given recent events at Calvary Episcopal Church in Louisville, I am so very grateful to God that He led me to leave the Episcopal Church behind me. I shall never again look back; I shall never again set foot there.
My feelings about the Episcopal Church have mellowed and become more articulated over the years, but I don't give the denomination (its old high churchmen didn't see it as a denomination but the church) much thought these days, because I don't have to. I've gone from what I thought it was (part of the Catholic Church), to, having been knocked down by a combination of things about 35 years ago (English history, the Thirty-Nine Articles, women's ordination, and Spong), fighting to try to make it what I wished it were (the American Catholic Church having been hit by Vatican II and the Sixties, there seemed few hospitable places one could go; some Episcopal parishes hunkered down to ride out the Sixties like we should have), to now accepting it for what it is. I don't hate the Episcopalians or even the Episcopal Church. (Bishop Curry seems like a nice mainline minister.) I have lots of affection for Episcopalians, enjoying still sharing a culture with them, but indifference toward the Episcopal Church. It's hard for me to say this (and of course I sympathize more with classic Anglo-Catholics), but their liberal high churchmen are the new Anglo-Catholics, still sharing much with us traditional Catholics: the creeds, a high sacramentology, and a love of the Catholic Church's traditional culture, something we don't have in common with Catholic liberals! They're in the old high-church tradition, really believing they're the true church so we're in error; they don't want to return to the church. I understand and accept that. So much old-style ecumenism's a waste of time, but that doesn't mean I hate the Episcopalians. You couldn't bribe or threaten me to go back.

Makes me wonder how the Episcopal Church will end up. My guess is the few children of its old WASP stalwarts don't go to church anymore; that social convention before the Sixties is gone. It seems to be reinventing itself as a high-church and learned but "hip" alterna-Catholicism (Anglo-Catholicism but in a form the old high churchmen and classic A-Cs never intended). It has always scored a few converts from Catholicism and evangelicalism (the via media); looks like it has a small, niche-y future that way.

Perspective: for most of their history including (pictured, portrayed in the movies) 70 years ago today the main service in most of their churches was Morning Prayer, and my favorite English liturgical books, the Anglican missals and breviaries, were in fact banned in most dioceses.

Anglo-Catholic alumni moment this Christmas: quietly translating some of the "ordinary" at Midnight Mass for the Latinless, using the Anglican missals' translation from memory. Like dubbing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Baby steps to the church: Some evangelicals adopt liturgy

  • Evangelical Protestants moving to liturgical and sacramental traditions. I was struck by the descriptions of Protestant Evangelical Christians making a gradual, thoughtful, and dramatic move to traditions that were very different (understatement) from what they were familiar with. Another interesting thing to note is that, when it comes to the many atheist-to-Christianity stories that I encounter, nearly all the converts choose liturgical, sacramental traditions. I wanted to better understand why this is.
That's great. Make that "some evangelicals" because as far as I can tell, the megachurches (often Southern Baptist but they don't advertise the denomination) certainly aren't liturgical.

Lutherans are liturgical because Luther was inconsistent and was willing to keep the trappings of the church in order to bait and switch, plus his followers tried to reconcile with the church. The Anglicans were less so, even though they kept bishops; the high churchmen a century later became quasi-Catholic on paper but didn't want to return to the church as their enemies accused. Both are rival true-church claims. So why the historic radical Protestant aversion to liturgy? It's based on their soteriology: you're saved because you feel you are and don't need a church to give you that grace (so logically you could just stop going to church, as many Protestants have); such would be works-righteousness. They think we think we earn our way into heaven. The snow-on-a-dungheap illustration allegedly from Luther: the good Protestant is still a sinner but Christ covers him up. The church offers Christ's one sacrifice on its altars, giving transforming grace here and now; Protestants think that's superstition pushed by greedy churchmen and even a "blasphemous fable."

The "emergent" new Protestant churches about 10 years ago were doing something like this: adopting the church's trappings on their own terms.

As I love to say this time of year, the solstice turned feast of God made man's arrival is a natural homecoming: it is very meet and right that low-church Protestants want to come home, forgetting they don't like us, putting up statues of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and angels, lighting candles, and singing in Latin. When they figure out this service (liturgy means public service owed to God, not "the work of the people") is Christians' bounden duty, not just personal style or taste, it becomes what its detractors fear: the point of entry to the church. Free-church to Anglican Evangelical to Catholic is logical. Former Evangelical John Henry Newman: to know history is to cease to be Protestant.

Another baby step to the church: black evangelical Protestant churches getting vagante episcopal orders and/or adopting our clerical vesture.

From this trend there are four possible destinations:
  • Remaining in liturgical Protestantism, actually a rival true-church claim if you think about it, be it our close cousins the traditional Lutherans, classic Anglicans ("true because we're both Catholic and Reformed," much like the classic Lutherans) including the Continuum (marooned in sectarianism where they don't really belong), liberal high-church Anglicans who love the church's culture (from birettas to fiddlebacks, things libcaths won't touch) as much as I do but on their own Modernist terms (by the way, St. Gregory's, San Francisco "gets" liturgy; they're just dead wrong theologically, liturgical Unitarianism), or a more generic Protestantism including a dressed-up evangelicalism; all ultimately man-made. (Anglo-Catholicism historically is either the Anglican rival true-church claim or what its detractors feared, trying to reconcile with the church; was that A-Cism's opposite?) No foundation, no holy orders, no Eucharist.
  • The vagantes. Maybe orders and the Eucharist but Protestant ecclesiology. Be your own Pope. Chaos.
  • Orthodoxy (the Lesser Eastern Churches are too small and too foreign for consideration here): "Let's worship Byzantium but hey, we still get to hate the Pope."
  • Catholicism: same grace and truths as the Orthodox but not tied down to empires or cultures. Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam, et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sexy church: Pros and cons

  • Dear Lord! This is the sexiest congregation in NYC. While it may seem sacrilegious to say it, the 7 p.m. Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Nolita is as sexy as church gets. The always-packed service has been drawing attractive young professionals since Old St. Pat’s added the evening liturgy six years ago. “There’s a cachet of cool. A lot of people have remarked to me about it particularly being a good-looking Mass,” says Ciolli, 37, who works in admissions at Fordham but looks like he was plucked from a Ralph Lauren ad. “It’s a good-looking bunch,” says Ashley Marchetta, a 28-year-old congregant with a career in finance. “You know you are going to see people you might want to get to know.” In fact, she’s even dated some of her fellow churchgoers. “Beyond that, being able to be around people with like-minded values is refreshing,” Marchetta adds.
Been to Old St. Patrick's but not to a service; wonderful church. Never heard the Nolita label before. I thought it was part of Little Italy, such as it is now (tourist restaurants), or SoHo. Also: its old chancery building is St. Michael's Russian Catholic Church, where I have been to several services and met the late Fr. Serge (Keleher), specifically as part of my journey back to the church; I like it very much. And Old St. Patrick's is a big part of cinematic American Catholicism: it's where the baptism in The Godfather was filmed.

Anyway. First off, of course beautiful women are wonderful (but lay off the compliments; they take them for granted). Evening Masses have been an option since Pius XII; sometimes I go to a Saturday-night Tridentine Mass in New Jersey. So an evening Mass where attractive singles meet is in itself great. High-church it or make it traditional to make it even better.

Now, what's wrong with it. This being a mainstream newspaper article, it's big on tiresome stuff such as the mention of how nice Pope Francis is, because he seems to prefer the ruling liberals to the church, and how clergy should pepper sermons with pop culture, which I'd think smart "young professionals" would find condescending, like a "teen Mass." It's OK but only up to a point. I mean, mainliners and I think evangelicals joke about how it doesn't really work. (By the way, the ruling American liberalism is repackaged New England Congregationalism, Presbyterianism's English cousin.)

When I was young, decades ago, I actually found a liberal high-church Catholic parish in America, in a city of course. Boomer/yuppie Catholicism by people with taste who got along well in mainstream society. Tempting. Of course that's not good Catholicism. It's imitating Episcopalianism in the wrong way. Figured that out soon enough and no, nothing bad happened to me there. It's not really a parish, where neighborhood Catholics, for example, go for the good of their souls; it's a private club (albeit one you can join), a boutique for "my set," bourgeois liberal culture congratulating itself. We have cultural (national) parishes, even separate rites with their own dioceses (the various Eastern Catholics), but this is different, dangerous.

As the American Catholic Church recovers from the mistake of Vatican II (I accept the strict-constructionist reading of the council), as those who don't believe drop out, as the old liberals die, and as the remaining young at church want more and more traditional things, this "sexy Mass" has potential. But be careful.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Why religious language goes for the timeless

A cartoon from the Episcopalians for the season. Seriously, the rector has a point. Hieratic language for worship is natural religion, human nature. Why the Jews use Hebrew in prayer, and the Eastern churches often use dead or archaic languages (Slavonic and medieval Greek, for example) for church services like we do in the old Mass. For English-speaking Protestants it's the King James Bible and, for the more liturgical among them, the Book of Common Prayer that preceded it. (Once saw something moving: a PTL Club Bible, used by sincere people who wanted to know about God; it has the King James English on one side and a modern version on the other, just like the Latin and English in my hand missal.) Just like everybody eventually comes up with a liturgy, as the late Fr. Peter Gillquist among others has pointed out. Ritual: we are creatures of habit; it's how we learn. (Speaking of how we learn, a one-year lectionary is the best.) "Catholic traditionalism is not about Latin" but, as in the cartoon, religious language, such as Latin has become in the Roman Rite, is useful, not a pious affectation, because it's a template with fixed meanings; it won't become dated in only a few years like the tech references in the hip Christmas pageant will. (Another example of the latter: the Christian rap the rector wrote 20 years ago.) That and Latin's a useful auxiliary language in a world church of many native languages, most of which aren't mutually intelligible. English does that too but English is alive so it's constantly shifting and it has dialects. An argument against hieratic language: "That way everybody equally doesn't understand it; ha ha." It doesn't take that much intelligence or effort (get a side-by-side text or learn your language's history) to understand.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Book report: "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt

Serious literature isn't mainstream anymore and I admit I'd never heard of Donna Tartt or this, her first novel 23 years ago. Wikipedia tells me she's Catholic; a friend adds she's a convert. A good read and as a fogey who was a young one, I see old acquaintances in the characters, both the good and bad parts. But I wonder: are these people realistic or do they just sound like the kind of people the narrator would fantasize about going to college with? (A smart, out-of-place young man in a dead-end town imagining going to prep school and a tony college, finding friends at last.)

Notes 3/4 of the way through it: 1) These characters with their fellowship and their real or imagined sophistication remind me a lot of people I met in Anglo-Catholicism (I'm grateful to the thing but it has its faults): "We're so lofty; let's rip someone apart for fun!" Topping, old bean. 2) Still, these characters seem like the type Richard would have made up. 3) I don't think Julian's evil, just wrong. He's not responsible for what these kids did. 4) Henry's the natural leader; fascinating. Seems he's the one who did both deeds. Interesting fantasy, and there are such people, though rare: an aesthete with an IQ off the charts who's strong enough to kill a man bare-handed (the story Judy Poovey tells forewarns of that). I'm no pacifist; sometimes you need that. Bunny of course didn't deserve it. Henry seems so English (cold self-control); fits anglophile ideas and not far from the real thing in a lot of cases. 5) Are they out-and-out evil or just kids? Even Henry: IQ in the stratosphere but a socially stunted kid (circumstances: he was recovering from injury), as they all are; self-centered. 6) Bunny's annoying, not evil. Minus the evil parts I would have loved to have gone to some little preppy, truly liberal liberal-arts college, such as in New England, with a great-books program sort of like Julian's almost Oxbridgian tutorial approach with other fogeys and with a high-church or at least orthodox Catholic parish in town (forget the college campus ministry, please!).

Finished it in five days. Good and unpredictable. You knew the ending would be sad but not how. Julian wasn't a bad guy. The key, the leader, was Henry; what a waste. All that intellect; all that potential. Thing was, again, because he was so calm, educated, and well-spoken, you forget he was just a kid, 20! And socially stunted because of his circumstances (that long recovery from an injury as a child). So he had intelligence and knowledge but not wisdom, which caused the problem. They say judgment and wisdom don't fully kick in, that your brain doesn't really grow up, until you're around 35. Why the president has to be at least that age. A wise person would learn from studying the humanities including the classics that having a bacchanal, a Dionysian orgy, is a bad idea. (The Catholic Church says: that's asking Satan to come out and play.) Which ties into one of Henry's flaws, something I thought of early on: underneath that cool English-like exterior he was a thrill killer like Leopold and Loeb; it made him feel alive as he admitted and maybe it pleased his vanity that he might get away with it. Also, Kathy Corcoran, Bunny's mom, reminded me of the Münchausen-by-proxy mom in The Sixth Sense: I got the sense that Bunny's funeral was really an excuse for her to show off by throwing a party, something she maybe wasn't consciously doing. (Mack the dad has a short attention span but his grief is real.) This evil is out there, in charming guises, including churchy ones (high-church aesthetes are susceptible; very Anglican... appealing to insecure kids who want to think they're better than they are, as the narrator was in spades), and people get away with it. Nice nods to the church from this Catholic writer, not too much.

"The ultimate test of our liturgical life": Liturgical renewal's good intentions and bad conclusion

Making the rounds in novusordoism and probably in the mainline too.
...actually on the back cover of our missalettes:
The ultimate test of a Christian community’s liturgical life is whether it changes lives. Does our liturgy call us to be one with the poor, to share our table with the hungry, to visit the sick, to embrace the dying? If so, then we are well on our way to being more like Christ and our liturgy, no matter its style, is truly a foretaste and a rehearsal of the eternal Jerusalem. In the end, if the liturgy does not change us into becoming more like Christ, then it is nothing but ritual fits and follies. So, let’s celebrate the liturgy well so it may change our hearts and minds and send us into the world to make a difference. (Quotations by Johan van Parys, Liturgical Press, 2014)
Both the legitimate liturgical movement before Vatican II and the "renewal" afterwards said they wanted to turn tepid Catholics going through the motions into fervent ones. Well and good. Here's what's wrong with it. A quotation from an Episcopal friend's Facebook wall: any sacramental liturgy without sound theology is dangerous. Van Parys means well but we Catholics believe in ex opere operato, not receptionism. "Nothing but ritual fits and follies." That's on us, not the liturgy. His words can easily be taken to mean "if the congregation is people I don't like, the liturgy is graceless," which is nonsense; that wouldn't be the church. (Like its cousin, Donatism: I don't like the priest, I know he's up to no good, so no grace.) That's what novusordoism and the mainline really are: trying to be a "warm, friendly" private club "celebrating upper-middle-class decorum" as Michael Cuneo says; mirror worship.

Part of the largely untold big story of America in the Sixties: the Protestantization of its big Catholic minority, buying this notion.

By the way, nice racket Oregon Catholic Press has going, printing those missalettes and hymnals every year and making parishes buy new each time. No, thanks. My hand missal's from 1957, a product of the real liturgical movement, teaching people to love the Mass as it was, carefully handed down.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Regular Catholics redux

Again, regarding the "Are you Catholic?" humorous chart: I can assure you that many Catholics wouldn't consider themselves aligned with any of these groups or their ideas.

I hear you. My guess is most Catholics (a.k.a. "the people") are neither interested in a crusade to preserve Western culture such as Latin and chant nor in "reforming" the church to better promote justice and peace, man. Regular Catholics often don't live up to the church's teachings (such as the commandments) and rules, and sometimes think they're a pain (the sexual teachings when you're a teenager with your glands screaming at you, for example), but they try, going to Mass, whatever it happens to be, whether they like it or not, for the good of their souls and to ask God special favors for themselves and maybe others. They hope to get to a priest before checkout time. Regular Catholics think Pope Francis is a nice guy like John Paul II was and aren't interested in the church's worship war (liturgy war) nor in hokey attempts to create "Christian community" (pseudo-intimacy that doesn't suit a religion for the crowd: "here comes everybody"); they have their families, significant others, and friends for that at home. But, even though their old neighborhood's probably long gone, they have community in that they're proud of being Catholic: in America, from the St. Patrick's Day Parade to cheering for Notre Dame football to the Feast of Seven Fishes, etc. Don't get me wrong: the "professional" orthodox are right. It's just that most Catholics aren't like that.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Regular Catholics and the winnowing

Regarding the "Are you Catholic?" humorous chart, a reader notes: What about the regular Catholics who don't really fit into any of these categories?

Good point. As has been said to me, culturally our way is if we traditionalists OR the liberals got their way, a few people would love it, a few would hate it and leave, and most of our churchgoers would keep going to Mass because that's what we do. But in fact many/most American Catholics did leave the church after the liberals' victory here.

Today we're seeing a trial by fire as it gets harder to be a Catholic in America; soft persecution for now. The church here isn't done shrinking; many of the nominal will die out or leave, as the liberals have been. We're broke, having spent down our capital earned before Vatican II (while our churchmen keep lying about how great the "renewal" has worked out), so the church and school closings will continue. We'll bottom out and a few Massgoing traditionalists and conservative Novus Ordo Catholics will probably be all that's left. These will be "regular Catholics." Pre-conciliar Catholicism is a big tent for sinners, not a monolith nor a perfectionistic cult.

"Are you Catholic?" humorous chart

Click to enlarge in order to read.

Actually for about 30 years Catholic charismatics have been singing things such as Marian praise songs; they eventually moved from their Protestant-based origin to recatholicize. They now seem to be declining. (In some places such as Philadelphia the movement used to be pushed to conservative Catholics as the church's future.) I call them the other American Catholics who still go to Mass besides us traditionalists; they're actually theologically conservative now (fits since their inspiration was conservative Protestantism, or why the Catholic liberals don't love them anymore). The few times a year I'm at the Novus Ordo (vacation, flea-market, and classic-car show Sundays, and some holy days of obligation) I see them with both hands raised in front of them at the Our Father.

Whoever drew this forgot the ordinariates of ex-Anglicans (they are small): as I like to point out as an ex-Anglican, while I use and love Latin (template and international language, plus it's pretty), Western traditionalism can be in the vernacular (knocks the wind out of one of the liberals' objections to traditional services), and why not classic liturgical English?

The baby-boomers didn't start the ecclesiastical changes of the Sixties; their grandparents' and parents' generations did, taking the optimism and experimentation of the space age in a wrong direction. It was supposed to make the church even bigger and better because the Protestants were supposed to love us and come back. My guess is most baby-boomer Catholics are now ex-Catholics as a result.

Anyway, today's Mass: Gaudete in Deo semper; rose, commonly called pink, vestments.

Also: the martyr St. Lucy, pre-empted for the Sunday except I guess for local commemoration (such as a parish's feast of title: Philadelphia's Manayunk section used to have a St. Lucy's, an Italian national parish; she's the Santa Lucia of the song). Named in the Roman Canon. The Swedish celebration of her feast seems medieval but is really 19th-century Romanticism; still a good thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Is classic American Anglo-Catholicism Episcopalianism?

I wrote: Episcopalianism and American Anglo-Catholicism gave me the very basics (the Bible, the creeds, and the concepts of bishops, a liturgy, and sacraments). Isn't that like saying, "I was at Oxford. And in England!"? I meant that classic (pre-Sixties) American A-Cism was part of Episcopalianism, but that got me thinking. Was it really?

Anglicanism is really a version of the Reformed faith but with the office of bishops (rare but an option in Reformed theology), but the old high churchmen a century after its founding claimed the new church was not just the restoration of pure Christianity as all Protestants believed, but patristic, a kind of Catholicism. At least implicitly the true Catholic Church, better than Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy (likewise with real bishops) because it was Reformed too. ("The concepts of bishops, a liturgy, and sacraments" being the Catholic part of "Catholic and Reformed." We Roman Catholics are Catholic too but in grave error.)

I'll say that strictly speaking, Episcopalianism is classic American Anglo-Catholicism's high-church ecclesiology ("high church" originally meant a high view of authority, not ceremonial), so in theory classic American A-Cism is Episcopalianism, but in practice Episcopalianism's very much a Protestant denomination; its members meant that word in their name (the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.) literally, not with the high-church spin of "non-papal." In the 1940s they almost merged with the Presbyterians (low Episcopal and high Presbyterian are very similar and socially the same; one's English, the other Scottish). Today they're basically merged with the ELCA Lutherans and intercommune with the Methodists. (Classic Lutheranism, such as our close cousins in the Missouri Synod, likewise has an implicit true-church claim.)

Much like Catholicism is clear about not being a denomination: the church can't have sisters any more than God can have brothers; multiple gods! (But dioceses, for example, have sisters: the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the local Greek Orthodox metropolis, estranged from us, for example.) But since Vatican II, many American Catholics have taught and acted as if we were a denomination. (Which of course the council doesn't say.)

So in practice, classic American Anglo-Catholicism wasn't Episcopalianism. Much of the time it was an alterna-Catholicism (considered the true alternative to us) continuing the old high churchmen's true-church claim at least implicitly (even while adopting our ceremonial); rarely it was exactly what its detractors feared, would-be Roman Catholicism. (Another conversation: was Anglo-Papalism A-Cism or its opposite, wanting to get rid of Anglicanism rather than defending it?)

Peter Robinson writes: One unfortunate tendancy of the liturgical revival in Anglicanism was that it tended to import all sorts of stuff from 19th-century Romanism. Kept it warm for me and pointed the way for me into the Roman Catholic Church, for which I thank it, but of course I realize that's not what Anglicanism is for.

One of the church's unsung heroes: Thanks, Msgr. Murray

News to me:
Msgr. James H. Murray, 83, died on June 14 [2014] at Franciscan Oaks Health Care Center in Denville.
We didn't know each other well but that didn't matter. While Episcopalianism and American Anglo-Catholicism gave me the very basics (the Bible, the creeds, and the concepts of bishops, a liturgy, and sacraments) and some culture (music, liturgical style — old-school, which is why I'm not Novus Ordo), Fr. Murray (as I knew him) passed down to me a fundamental, essential element of the faith: thinking like a Catholic with the church's moral theology, how to examine your conscience to make a good sacramental confession, with the helpful distinction between mortal and venial sin, right out of the old Roman manuals. Passing on what he had learned here:
Msgr. Murray was born and raised in the Little Dublin section of Morristown and graduated from Bayley High School in 1948. He attended Seton Hall University and graduated with a B.A. in philosophy in 1952. He continued his religious education at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, and was ordained a priest on May 26, 1956 in St. John’s Cathedral in Paterson.
As I've been saying here for at least 10 years, long before coming back to the church, Roman Catholic moral theology is the gold standard.

St. Mary's, Denville, was a charming, modest red-brick 1920s building in a comforting (to me) style trying to recall English Gothic (Anglicanish). (New Jersey uglified in the late '80s with an unfortunate addition to the front, but anyway.) In the Diocese of Paterson in the '70s and '80s it was probably impossible to be liturgically traditional. Fr. Murray implemented the Novus Ordo because he was told to but the old church was still recognizably Catholic, haunted by Tridentine Catholicism certainly if you were looking for it. (Sanctus bell, Father let you kneel for Communion, one Eucharistic minister but in a choir robe, and First Friday, Nocturnal Adoration, and Miraculous Medal devotions; in fact I learned those last three things from St. Mary's.) He was still idiomatically Tridentine: "the Confiteor," "Laetare Sunday." Most important, and maybe under the radar, he taught the faith as he had learned it and nothing but that. I didn't take formal instruction from him; I learned simply from what he taught his parish.
Msgr. Murray ... was active in many community organizations including the Denville Lions Club, PRIDE Council, and Denville Chamber of Commerce. ... Chaplain for the Denville Fire Dept., the Denville Police Dept. and for Denville PBA Local 142. He founded the Joey Bella Fund and had received several awards for his volunteerism. Msgr. Murray was honored with the Denville Rotary Paul Harris Fellow and Saint Clare’s Hospital Mini Bowl Award. ...life member of the Paterson Girl Scouts Council. He had served as the Diocese Director of Scouting.
Part of the culture, patriotic, hardworking towns and neighborhoods like Little Dublin (such as all the Little Palermos and Little Warsaws), including its boys fighting World War II: the American Northeast almost became a Catholic country. We didn't need Vatican II to teach us to be a community; we already were one, and a valued part of our hosts' community.

Catholicism is my faith; American Anglo-Catholicism is my culture, with lateral support from the Christian East: the same time I met Fr. Murray, I went to my first traditional Catholic Mass, which was Ukrainian.

I've been back in the church for four years, trying to keep what Fr. Murray taught me. Well done, good and faithful servant. RIP.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Koehl et al. redux, and convertitis

Commenting on this exchange, to which someone else had invited me.
Stuart Koehl: Your comments reveal more about your own inner demons than it does about my theology or ecclesiology. It is the height of presumption and rudeness to speak magisterially about who is or is not a "good" Catholic, just as it would be presumptuous of me to speak of your manifold personality disorders.

Suffice to say that my views are mainstream within the Melkite Church, that they reflect the views of my pastor, my bishop, the Melkite Synod of Bishops, and my Patriarch. Their public statements are on record, they have spoken of them to and with the Pope, and I am sure if he has a problem with them, then he will inform them.

In the meanwhile, I suggest that you reflect on the irony of you, dictating to the Holy See who is and is not a "good" Catholic, not to mention who is and is not a "Church."
Catholic-turned-Orthodox Ryan Hunter: John suffers the reverse of what so many poorly catechized Orthodox suffer, namely, "convertitis." Symptoms include repeated invocation of strawmen and logical fallacies, the inability to realize that intelligent, well-meaning people can and do think differently than you do, and, especially, the oft-stated suspicion that your opponents are heretics of a various stripe and sort. Because John once left Rome for Orthodoxy, he feels obliged to double down especially hard to make up for leaving once, and thus regularly critiques the Orthodox for problems that he likes to pretend the RCC does not have. Ethnophyletism is as much a problem among "culturally Catholic," "Creaster" ethnic Irish and Poles and Italians as it is among poorly catechized Russians and Greeks and so on. These wars of words don't help anyone. The reality is that Rome recognizes ALL of our orders, apostolic succession, and mysteries/sacraments. We're as true a part of the Church Catholic as is Rome, and as are the Melkites. This is what Pope Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis have now held.
If you think we're part of the church, you're not a good Orthodox.
Mr. Koehl: There are a lot of really bad Orthodox out there, then, and a lot of them wear the omophorion.
The "nice" Orthodox recognize our orders, but I explained they don't have to. It seems the few "Orthodox in communion with Rome" nominal Catholics (not to be confused with unlatinized good Catholics) and the "nice" Orthodox (who are suspect in Orthodoxy, where "ecumenist" is a fighting word) want the same thing: being nice to us in the hope that we'll dump half our doctrine and come into the church they really believe in.

If a Catholic preaches against the church's teachings, online for example, he's not a good Catholic.

Convertitis really means a newcomer, enjoying the peace that comes with starting out in the spiritual life so he thinks he knows more than he does (the dark night of the soul hasn't kicked in yet), being tempted to grand things over his head: for example, the man who's been in the church for four months and wants to be a priest, now, or start his own order! (The prelest' that Fr. Seraphim Rose called "fancy.") And/or one could go against the church because of one's zeal; say, a Catholic in my shoes denying that the Orthodox have real bishops and the Mass.

Photo: Putin, the new Constantine. James Hooper: "Fascinating to ponder. Has Russia been converted as Mary predicted at Fátima?" That interpretation's fine with me. One step at a time. These are estranged Catholics with a rite that's better than the Novus Ordo.
Karl: A good KGB agent is also a good actor.
Partly why I compare him to Constantine. I don't expect more from him personally than being a cultural Orthodox. The Russians love him for two reasons: he literally saved their lives after the country was in freefall under Yeltsin and his gangsters, fleecing the people, after Communism fell, and Russians aren't democratic; they like strongmen and always will.
Diane: Sorry, but Our Lady is not a schismatic. And Russia is still spreading her errors — the error that sacramental marriages can be dissolved.
Of course she's not. The Russians don't know they're schismatic or wrong about divorce and remarriage.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Catholicism and Orthodoxy yet again

A picture of completed Orthodoxy, in the church: John XXIII at a Melkite Liturgy.
Stuart Koehl: I've noticed several times that you consider the Orthodox (not just Eastern Catholics, but those who are not in communion with Rome) to be Catholic. Is there anything that would fall into the category of Magisterial teaching that supports this? Most Latin apologists would say that if one is not in communion with the Pope, one is not Catholic. But maybe that's just an opinion that's been circulated so much it's accepted as de fide in Latin circles. Also, from your perspective, when a Latin or Eastern Catholic breaks communion with the Pope to become Eastern or Oriental Orthodox, do you believe that constitutes schism? I know that John Beeler has worded it such that "born Orthodox" are not schismatics (which I think is perfectly in line with Vatican II). What, in your opinion, constitutes the Universal Church if communion with Rome is not a requirement?
Mr. Koehl: I suggest reading Unitatis Redintegratio, the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism, as well as Lumen Gentium, to see the full implications of the ecclesiology of communion. In essence, "the Eucharist makes the Church."
Believing that some estranged groups of Christians still have bishops and the Eucharist and thus are still close to the church, closer than Protestants are, is Catholic. It's our doctrine, not that of the Orthodox. Vatican II only restated that. A reason I'm what and where I am. We include them. They don't include us. All ancient churches believe they're the true one, so of course it's not OK for Catholics to leave the church. Liking the Byzantine Rite as practiced by the Orthodox better isn't a valid reason. There is no valid reason.
As Archbishop Elias Zoghby said, "We are ALL schismatics."
"We are all schismatics" means "there is no church." No church father taught that. If it's true I might as well stay home on Sunday or jump off the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Both sides have the sacraments. But only one side is the church.

"In other words, does one accrue moral guilt for leaving communion with Rome to become Orthodox (if, for example, one must renounce said communion as part of the conversion rites)?" Oh, yes.

"...or for leaving the Orthodox Churches to join the Roman communion?" Given our true-church claim, quite the opposite. We don't want to break up families, parishes, and countries; we want to bring back all of the Orthodox at the same time, and leave their rite alone. Of course we ACCEPT conversions short of that, but ideally, as the late Fr. Serge (Keleher) told me, quietly.

Breaking communion with Rome is turning a good thing, such as Byzantine Christianity, Greekness, Carpatho-Russianness, etc., into an idol. In America it's obviously a dead end. The third generation leaves when it's assimilated. (The same thing happens without the Orthodox' theological problem: it happens to Eastern-rite Catholics.)

The estranged churches of the East are true in that they have bishops, the Mass, and true defined doctrine (that is, some of our doctrine). "The Roman communion" is the church. The Orthodox make the mistake of exalting their patrimony over the church and its unity. Holding to that patrimony in the church of course isn't idolatry. That said, both the unlatinized (our original plan for Eastern Catholics) and the largely self-latinized forms of Eastern Catholicism have the right to exist in the church.

Both sides believe in the Trinity, the natures of Christ, the Mother of God, and the option of using images as the early councils taught, have bishops, and have and believe in the Mass. The Orthodox think if you are outside of their empire, kingdom, state, or tribe, outside their culture, you're outside the church even to the point of not having real baptisms.

The thing is, if you're Catholic you have to recognize the other side's sacraments. They are not required to recognize ours and in fact some, not only in good standing but revered among them, such as Mount Athos (who I think are crazy), vehemently don't. The Western Rite Orthodox experiment isn't centuries-old communities like Eastern Catholics and will always be stunted because the Orthodox obviously don't really want it.

All three large-ish American Orthodox denominations (the Greeks, the historically ex-Catholic OCA, and the Antiochians) recognize us. So does ex-Catholic ACROD. But they don't have to!

The magisterium has never told Catholics to rebaptize, reconfirm, and reordain ex-Orthodox, sacrilegious practices some Orthodox do with ex-Catholics.

I can't stop you from leaving the church but I will try without letup to talk you out of it.

Not buying "outside the tribe there is no salvation." Christians settled that in the Book of Acts.
There's a little gem hidden in the Balamand Statement: "It is in this perspective that the Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Churches recognize each other as Sister Churches, responsible together for maintaining the Church of God in fidelity to the divine purpose, most especially in what concerns unity. According to the words of Pope John Paul II, the ecumenical endeavour of the Sister Churches of East and West, grounded in dialogue and prayer, is the search for perfect and total communion which is neither absorption nor fusion but a meeting in truth and love (cf. Slavorum Apostoli, n. 27).

15. "*****While the inviolable freedom of persons and their obligation to follow the requirements of their conscience remain secure,****** in the search for re-establishing unity *****there is no question of conversion of people from one Church to the other in order to ensure their salvation. *****

"There is a question of achieving together the will of Christ for his own and the design of God for his Church by means of a common quest by the Churches for a full accord on the content of the faith and its implications. This effort is being carried on in the current theological dialogue. The present document is a necessary stage in this dialogue."

So yes, a Catholic can follow his conscience to switch to Orthodoxy.
No. Catholic apologists have gone over this as I believe Pope Benedict repeated. The Catholic Church has no sisters because there's only one true church. The Latin Church does. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia does. Some of those sisters, dioceses with real bishops and the Mass, are estranged from us. Also, considering Orthodoxy's narrower (than ours) true-church claim, I don't understand why an ex-Catholic-to-be would try to use this argument to join them. It disrespects them.

Balamand isn't the doctrine of either side.

"According to the words of Pope John Paul II, the ecumenical endeavour of the Sister Churches of East and West, grounded in dialogue and prayer, is the search for perfect and total communion which is neither absorption nor fusion but a meeting in truth and love." Right; the church doesn't want to replace the Eastern rites with the Roman Rite.

"There is no question of conversion of people from one Church to the other in order to ensure their salvation." You can interpret that in a Catholic way: "Born Orthodox aren't personally guilty of schism so they get the benefit of the doubt." The Orthodox don't have to mirror that and are less likely to, given their narrower ecclesiology and sacramentology. They are allowed to believe the Catholic Church is a fraud and allowed to receive ex-Catholics by baptism. Likewise, we can't turn people away from the church, even though our aim is not to break up Orthodox communities. Both sides are very much interested in ensuring salvation, and the normal means for that is the true church. It has to be one or the other. The Orthodox agree!

I'll venture to say there's no such thing, strictly speaking, as the Orthodox Church. These are Catholic dioceses estranged from the church. They have bishops and the Mass, and all their defined doctrine, what little of it there is, is true. They're not Protestants (who are non-churches). "So, if we're really the same religion, why can't a Catholic who loves Byzantine spirituality pass into Orthodoxy without sin?" Because he'd be a schismatic. The Orthodox don't know they're in schism; a Catholic who leaves does.

P.S. Catholics don't have to believe the praxis of the Eastern Catholic churches vs. the Orthodox is perfect.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

More on Catholic objections to the ordinariates

Okay, let me encapsulate the critique against the Ordinariates this way: the Anglicans who are entering through them are entering on their own terms, rather than the Church's. The door has always been open for Anglicans who felt moved by the Holy Spirit to join Christ's holy Catholic Church. But they had to do so as converts into the Latin Rite, not as people entering into their own little space within the Latin Rite. It isn't about creating a one-size-fits-all Catholicism, there are legitimate diversities within the Catholic Church (Ukrainian Greek Catholicism, for example, or the small Ambrosian or Mozabaric Rites). But it is about looking at a group of people whose commitment to Catholic unity was predicated on the retention of set of idiosyncratic practices divorced from the substance of the faith (Cranmerian English, coffee in the undercroft, and forgive me, a certain commitment to the finer things in life -- Chardonnay!). B16's revision has removed the need to remain attached to the English usage of a man who was a deceitful and evil heretic. If you want to have a nice coffee hour, volunteer at your local parish! And you can have a nice Chardonnay with the vicar during lunch if you want. You don't need an Ordinariate for any of that. So, why have the Ordinariate then except to allow a sub-set of the Latin Rite to have their own little home where they don't have to hang out with all those .... regular Latin Rite Catholics! Eeeeeeeeewwwww! The Irish! The Germans! The Mexicans! The Filipinos! They aren't the proper people! They drink beer! And when they do drink Chardonnay, it's domestic! Eeeeeeeeeeeewwwwww! And their parishes don't have any brocade, and they never play Palestrina, and .... and .... they sing terrible hymns! Sob!
"Okay, let me encapsulate the critique against the Ordinariates this way: the Anglicans who are entering through them are entering on their own terms, rather than the Church's." You're implying that they are importing Protestantism; nothing could be further from the truth.

"The door has always been open for Anglicans who felt moved by the Holy Spirit to join Christ's holy Catholic Church. But they had to do so as converts into the Latin Rite, not as people entering into their own little space within the Latin Rite." Would you suppress my Tridentine Mass too? Conservative Novus Ordo Catholics 30 years ago said much the same thing for the same reason.

"But it is about looking at a group of people whose commitment to Catholic unity was predicated on the retention of set of idiosyncratic practices divorced from the substance of the faith (Cranmerian English, coffee in the undercroft, and forgive me, a certain commitment to the finer things in life -- Chardonnay!)." You don't like Anglicans or your idea of them. That's not the church's problem. You're accusing these ex-Anglicans of doing what the Orthodox do, putting their tribe above the church. Not true. Most of them would have come in anyway as I and others have. The people who are putting their tribe above the church, the snobs, and the homosexualists, even if they said they were would-be Catholics who wanted Rome, are still in the Church of England, Episcopal Church, etc., where they belong. Pushed against the wall, they showed their true beliefs, as did the people who have become Catholic.

With us Anglo-Catholic alumni it's not about snobbery or importing a Protestantism we didn't believe in. Certainly for me and I think at least partly so of the others, it's about bringing something in that's both inculturated in the Anglosphere AND is part of the same culture (at least in America) as the Tridentine Mass. You might object to these texts as "giving the finger to the Novus Ordo," "a big no to the Sixties" as I say; I disagree, thinking that's great.

"B16's revision has removed the need to remain attached to the English usage of a man who was a deceitful and evil heretic. If you want to have a nice coffee hour, volunteer at your local parish! And you can have a nice Chardonnay with the vicar during lunch if you want. You don't need an Ordinariate for any of that." That's an allowable opinion in Catholicism; the church has done something else. Before John Paul II that's exactly how the church handled Anglo-Catholic alumni: no Prayer Book texts. And I don't use the Prayer Book on Sunday, partly for the reason you object to it; I'm interested in pre-Vatican II Roman Rite Catholicism in its idiom, the practice of the Anglican missals, which aren't really Anglican. But I still support the Anglo-Catholic alumni who are using this option the church has given them.

"So, why have the Ordinariate then except to allow a sub-set of the Latin Rite to have their own little home where they don't have to hang out with all those .... regular Latin Rite Catholics! Eeeeeeeeewwwww! The Irish! The Germans! The Mexicans! The Filipinos! They aren't the proper people! They drink beer! And when they do drink Chardonnay, it's domestic! Eeeeeeeeeeeewwwwww!" You're making fun of your image of Anglicans again. I submit that, maybe projecting my own view, it's really about preserving the same intentions as the Tridentine Mass but in classic English and not what you accuse here. And: this "tribalism" is not unknown in the American Catholic Church! To prevent schisms, the church allowed immigrant groups who sometimes hated each other to hive off into Roman Rite national parishes (which were also sometimes necessary for a linguistic reason) as well as having Eastern Catholic parishes and dioceses. Some Rust Belt towns have had Italian, Polish, Slovak, Lithuanian, etc. national parishes (including a Croatian national parish in Johnstown, Pa., and as far back as the 1800s there were German-speaking national parishes, as Philadelphia used to have), and both Ruthenian and Ukrainian ones (Slavic sub-groups that didn't get along with each other), as well as the original territorial Irish one. Partly because Irish-American Catholics treated the newcomers exactly as you accuse Anglo-Catholic alumni of being: treating the Ruthenians so badly there was a schism in the 1930s anyway.

I'd think you can appreciate the situation of married ex-Anglican priests as you are married. Granted, some are not in the ordinariates; that's the Pastoral Provision. Sounds like your answer. These married priests plus congregations wanting to stay together are why there's a British ordinariate; they don't like the Prayer Book any more than you do.

"And their parishes don't have any brocade, and they never play Palestrina, and .... and .... they sing terrible hymns! Sob!" Fine if you think I'm a snob. The practice of the Novus Ordo in many American parishes is bad. Again, at least speaking for me, it's about having the same intentions as the Tridentine Mass, not snobbery.

Even though I don't go to a Mass that uses Prayer Book texts, I'm standing on the shoulders of giants who happened to have been born outside the church but had the same intentions the church did (really nothing more to do with Cranmer's theology than you and I have), AND said no to the Sixties, from ritualist slum priests to Bishop Albert Chambers and the first Continuing bishops. In English (moot most of the time since for me the Mass usually is in Latin) I still say the same Gloria, Creed, psalm, canticle, and a few collect translations, and hear the same hymns at my parish, that they used, the first liturgical prayer and Christian music I ever heard. That and it's un-Novus Ordo: again, the same intentions as the Tridentine Mass. Some think that's the real reason Benedict XVI started the ordinariates.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Catholic opponents of the ordinariates

My guess is most of the opposition nominally in the Catholic Church to the ordinariates for Anglo-Catholic alumni comes from the now-defensive, aging Catholic liberals. In the '80s they thought they owned the church and thus its future and even bragged about it to me when the issue came up. God had other plans. The kids take the libcaths' Modernism to its logical conclusion so they don't go to church anymore, so in America we're seeing not only more and more boomer and millennial ex-Catholics, rather than churchgoing "progressive" ones, but I guess more third etc. generation "nothings" with Irish, Italian, and Polish names. (Not the libcath dream of a church even bigger than before Vatican II only happy and clappy thanks to following the times.) The old Protestant dream of absorbing America's Catholic minority, partly fulfilled, the foreigners good Americans at last: "the nuclear family (barely; contraception canceling the next generation), light consumerism, suburban homes, sports and schools, television, and I guess transgenderism, ubiquitous pornography and cheeseburgers," as Seventh Son writes. "We're all human, therefore we can all be SWPLs. (Except toothless Appalachian White Christians. They're not human at all!)" As if everybody wanted to be one. (Quotations via Ex-Army.) Anyway, I understand that in England 20 years ago (right after the Church of England followed the Episcopalians by voting to have women priests) what Damian Thompson calls "the magic circle," the British Catholic clerical version of AmChurch, or the National Catholic Reporter and Call to Action with accents, was upfront (rare for the English, famous for making an art of not saying what they mean or meaning what they say; talking in code Americans don't understand — note; I kid because I love, as I'm mostly WASP and I've lived in the mother country) about not wanting a bunch of embarrassing conservatives (you know, people who actually buy all that dumb steerage Catholic jazz that Vatican II was supposed to wipe away, leaving the church clean and shiny for the space age) coming in, priests who dress like they're "somewhere to the right of Marcel Lefebvre" as journals such as the Tablet (commonly called the Pill; British NCR) sneered. Understandable of the annoying old bastards: nobody, even a heretic, wants to see his legacy threatened. Sidebar: the libcaths basically want to turn the church into Anglicanism and might have converted if only the Anglicans weren't so darn high-church. (Many Anglicans love my traditional Mass; they really love the church but on their terms. Libcaths of course hate that Mass.) Some libcaths I've had runins with were theologically "stuck," confused casualties of the Sixties including Vatican II: they were rightly taught in Cardinal Spellman's church that Catholicism is the true church so when they liberalized as churchmen often told them to, rather than leave, they stayed and tried to change it. The unexpected good news: the few Catholics who are staying now, vs. then, love the faith, the church, and its culture. There is a slow turnaround.

All that opposition is to be expected. But here's some insider stuff most non-Catholics don't know. After the libcaths won, not long after the Sixties captured Middle America by 1973, they soon didn't take traditionalists (the people keeping the full true faith as well as its culture before the Sixties attack including from within) seriously, and sometimes were even nice enough to be condescending after John Paul II gave his very limited permission for the traditional Mass (because it is "the Mass that would not die"; Archbishop Lefebvre, Fr. De Pauw, and others kept it going), such bishops allowing one in their dioceses. By then our worst enemies weren't the heretics but our closest rivals in ecclesiastical politics, the orthodox but low churchmen of conservative Novus Ordo. As the turnaround has gotten under way, they've been changing their minds and high-churching themselves, even changing their minds about traditionalists, but in the '80s, at the heights of both JP2's reign and local liberal power in the church, they were as militantly low-church as the liberals, thinking the Protestant-inspired charismatic renewal (JP2's No. 1 fans) was the future. Give up that artsy-fartsy old-fashioned stuff and do that instead, they told us. They went as far as calling people who "stood still" or said no to the Sixties and only wanted the faith and culture the church had given them "no longer Catholic," literally, as if all these people were Dutch Old Catholics or garage-church vagantes with their own fake Pope.

An element of that remaining low-church conservative Novus Ordo is reacting badly to the ordinariates, as Thomas Day could have predicted: "Real Catholics don't need or want all that faggy lace." Throw in ethnocentrism and reverse snobbery: "Ex-Anglicans who want this stuff are snobs who care more about escargot forks and concert classical music than the truth." There's an ignorant thinking that the church is or should be a monolith: no "bubble," "church within a church," or "Barbie's playhouse" (what the British call a Wendy house from Peter Pan) for these misfits: "What some fussy Anglicans wish the Novus Ordo looked like." Sounds like ecclesiastical Mean Girls.

There's the understandable concern that the Book of Common Prayer texts are from a rank heretic, Thomas Cranmer (I think the only Protestant heresiarch who in the beginning was a valid Catholic bishop, not just a priest; but his Bucerian heresy about the Eucharist rendered his ordinal void). "Why not a Methodist Use for converts, or even Mormon or Muslim Uses"? the naysayers ask. The church approved these texts because they're not heretical and because the other things I mentioned have no tradition of trying to celebrate Mass and otherwise believing what the church believes. Generations of good would-be Catholics have been attached to them. Why Vatican II gave a nod to Anglicans without denying the truth the Leo XIII confirmed (Cranmer dogmatized Eucharistic heresy so no real orders in Anglicanism).

No, the real issue isn't that the converts aren't really Catholic, wanting to import Protestantism. Libcaths who still buy Sixties ecumenism (let's dump our doctrine, then we and the Protestants will just kumbaya together, working for justice and peace, man) would be staunch supporters of the ordinariates if that were so. The contention is really that the converts are Catholic, trying to get away from Protestantism, which the libcaths don't want. The newcomers don't want the libcaths' secondhand Protestantism. Well-meaning or bigoted (anti-English) conservative Novus Ordo Catholics opposing the ordinariates are dupes, useful idiots. That said, from what I can tell, most conservative Novus Ordo people think the ordinariates are great, as is meet and right so to do. Along with traditionalists, the ordinariates are part of the "reform of the reform" (high-churching Roman Rite Catholicism again) that Pope Benedict XVI is identified with.
As converts die off and their children and grandchildren are nurtured in the Catholic faith, those communities will cease to serve any function and hopefully will just fade away, and the integrity and wholeness of the Latin Rite will be reaffirmed.
Another note about "bubbles" in American Catholicism and insisting on uniformity: that was the thinking of Archbishop John Ireland (an Americanist heretic too, an early version of Modernist libcath, even though he used the pre-Vatican II liturgy) and the American Catholic churchmen who pushed Orestes Chornock into schism; Ruthenians who only wanted to keep what they had as Catholics at home turned Orthodox. Bigotry (like the Orthodox' ethnocentric anti-Westernism, come to think of it). The parallel works despite the Book of Common Prayer's Protestant origin because again we're talking about a liturgical text approved by the church and people who are not heretics.

And: pre-Vatican II Catholicism is not a monolith; it's not uniform. Not only do we have the Eastern rites but within the Roman Rite you have different uses (sub-rites), different national cultures and spiritualities, different religious orders with different spiritualities, and even different schools of theological opinion that sometimes hate each other. Different customs such as lace vs. no lace. The church has both.

"So what is Anglican patrimony, Your Highness? Knowing which salad fork to use? Do you hold the chalice with your pinky up or down?"

Elevated classic English including prayers from the Prayer Book (which the church has approved, even though you don't like it, and which I mostly don't use!), Anglican chant, the unique English men and boys' choral sound, Evensong, certain hymns, and sure, things such as coffee hour (parishioners getting to know each other socially; how Protestant, snort). I'll further add a healthy "semi-congregationalism" that is a hedge against another Novus Ordo happening, something we can still learn from Anglo-Catholics. We could ordain married men as new ordinariate priests too, but the church isn't doing that for the foreseeable future, and of course it can say no.
I very much doubt that the ordinariates will be allowed married priests. And any semi-congregationalism that would thwart the Church exercising jurisdiction over those parishes would simply confirm my point about the bubble effect. The first second one of these ordinariate parishes tried to rebel in such a fashion, it should be immediately suppressed. We are not a congregational polity — that is heresy.
I put "congregationalism" in mock quotes and added "semi-" because I know the heresy and the risk. I'm not talking about congregations writing their own doctrine (which is what libcaths want) or saying the bishop has no authority, just that there are other ways of doing things than what the American Catholic Church usually has done, which are not about our doctrine. If our American churchmen hadn't acted like idiots, a lot more Ruthenians would still be Catholic. Believe me, if a lay trustee-owned and run parish defended traditional Catholicism, the libcaths would shut it down faster than you can say "we are church." Watch what they do more than listening to what they say.

"It sounds like 'Anglican patrimony' just means giving the finger to the Novus Ordo. Bad idea." It's a great idea! Don't suppress the Novus Ordo as most Latin Catholics are attached to it, but make Bernard Fellay a cardinal to make the field fair.

The anglicanized English is better; deal with it. I can say that confidently exactly because I don't secretly "like escargot" (believe in heresy) so I don't feel like I have to yell "Fakedty-fake!" or "They don't have Jesus!" every time someone mentions the Anglicans.

But not wanting the ordinariates isn't heresy. The late Msgr. Graham Leonard didn't want anything like that.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Crime reporting, black and white

Two men charged with murder in killing of pastor's wife. She was molested too. Why such killers get away with it in the media and thus public opinion: because, unlike Christianity, the left believes the end justifies the means; revenge is A-OK. (By the way, the Church of Satan actually teaches that.) They define racism as not just prejudice but prejudice plus power. So the left teaches that, because blacks used to be oppressed, blacks have an excuse to commit atrocities against whites; we deserve it. (The PG-13 version: college kids learning they can push grownups around by throwing big tantrums for the media to report; it's fun.) White liberals believe in their own supremacy though they never admit it; they think they can control this state of affairs and use it as a weapon against conservative whites (ditto importing lots of hostile Third Worlders; the left thinks they're pets and even slave labor). There is next to no white-on-black crime, and no fellow conservative Christian I know wants to incite any; rather, the left keeps pushing race in our faces, using it as a weapon. There is no white American agenda against blacks anymore; none of us believe black lives don't matter. By the way, we never hear about black-on-black crime, and there is a lot of it.

Two common media approaches to these crimes, in the event of "narrative failure" (when you can't blame whites):
  • Show pictures of the suspects when they were 12 and/or holding a puppy or something.
  • Blame guns! Liberal illogic: "Cops are racist and thus evil but I don't own a gun and want to stop you from owning one, because I trust the cops to take care of us." If Amanda Blackburn had a pistol, chances are she'd still be with us. That the police have caught suspects is cold consolation for her husband.
An impartial, speedy trial for the suspects and may this sweet woman rest in peace.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The ordinariate missal and more

  • The ordinariate missal is in print. Divine Worship — The Missal, replacing the 1979 Rite I Episcopal-based Anglican Use, improved with Pope Benedict the Great's reform of English Novus Ordo and elements of the Tridentine Mass, my Mass. (It's usually eastward-facing, a simple thing that makes a big difference.) That's fantastic. A few points.
    • The church has never approved Thomas Cranmer's Eucharistic prayer in any form, even the old-high-church (1600s-1700s; an attempt a century after the "Reformation" to sound patristic*) Scottish form in the old American Book of Common Prayer that I grew up with. Understandable as the man was a heretic; his Eucharistic theology as enshrined in the Articles of Religion is why the church took him at his word by never recognizing Anglican orders since the Edwardine ordinal, Leo XIII making it official. But the Anglican and American Missals (unofficial; banned in many Episcopal dioceses), which this new missal echoes, spliced the Prayer Book's canon, collects, and lessons into the framework of our Mass and seem to work. Here Cranmer, filtered through the old high churchmen, sounded like he still shared enough orthodoxy with Catholicism to make it so. Counterargument: Michael Davies pointed out in Cranmer's Godly Order that Protestants using realistic-sounding language about Holy Communion don't mean what the church does by it. (For them there's no making Christ's sacrifice present on the altar; it's a bare commemoration so the Mass is a blasphemous fable.) But with this new missal, as with the Anglican Use, we've officially included many of Cranmer's orthodox prayers, including collects he wrote or modified because the originals were too Catholic. And his new collects are beautiful, little lessons in English. I don't miss the old Prayer Book such that I need to hear it every week (canonically the ordinariates are for people like me; I can join if I want to), like I would the Tridentine Mass (but in much of my prayer including occasional Masses in English I quote it from memory: "And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary"), but it seems to me if you're going to go this route, let's be ecumenical with our estranged Catholic family to the east. In the beginning, in the late 1800s, the only Western canon the Orthodox allowed for their Western-rite experiment was the Roman one; much later the Antiochians brought the Anglican missals on board by slightly byzantinizing their Eucharistic prayer, and of course that catholicized it. Problem solved, for those who want this. Ours for the asking.
    • That said, why not just do that to the Anglican missals, and add the Roman Canon as an option, and issue them, rather than mixing with the Novus Ordo? (Anglo-Catholics did our legwork for us decades ago.) That, using classic American Anglo-Catholics' big no to the Sixties just like the Tridentine Mass for cradle Catholics, is something our churchmen are not yet ready or willing to do. Still toeing the line that Vatican II was good even as the parishes and schools keep closing and the dioceses and orders go broke. Benedict the Great came thisclose to publicly coming clean, then somebody got rid of him.
    • The British Anglo-Catholic alumni experience is different; they've been Novus Ordo for 45 years (because they were Anglo-Papalists, believing everything the church says and wanting a "reconciliation with honor" with it). For them, the Prayer Book only means Protestantism, not orthodoxy or the '50s. That's the British ordinariate. Let them be.
    • As the Antiochians' work is ours for the asking, so is that of classic Anglo-Papalists. It's Not About Latin™ (but Latin has its place: template and international language) so the English Missal (Tridentine in English) should be approved as an option too.
  • The ordinariates' first bishop designate is the American one's new ordinary-to-be, Msgr. Steven Lopes, a born Catholic but very familiar with the tradition he's been assigned to, as Msgr. Steenson (nice, nice man I knew when he was rector of Rosemont) takes a well-deserved rest in retirement (he's still administrator until Msgr. Lopes' consecration). Ad multos annos.
  • The ordinariates still won't train new married priests, only allowing ex-Anglican ones. The church has the authority to make that rule. I am not attacking the Latin Church's longstanding rule but, given the Slavic Greek Catholic experience in America (we caused schisms), for example, priestly celibacy is not a hill I'd die on. I understand faithful celibate priests' resentment of a change but ordaining the married in the ordinariates would give it a lot more appeal for ex-Anglicans, showing we're serious about preserving all of their patrimony that doesn't go against our doctrine. (My same answer to the Orthodox, including the American descendants of ex-Catholics: please come home; everything that's not doctrine, even parish ownership of property, is on the table.) Then again, by now, just about every Anglican who really wanted to be Catholic now is.
  • Possible Episcopal argument: "You're proselytizing with the ordinariates, so you can't complain about our Hispanic outreach." It's not a false-flag operation; the Anglo-Catholic alumni asked to come in. We're really talking about rival true-church claims (they are the direct successors of the old high churchmen with their misunderstood branch theory: they're the true church; we're a real church with real bishops and the real Eucharist but in grave error) so this is fair game. Except for the 150-year-old border skirmish because of Anglo-Catholicism, the Catholic and Episcopal churches don't really compete; the Episcopalians' real rivals are other English Reformed churches and offshoots, the United Church of Christ and the Unitarians.
*Traditional Lutheranism is a similar retrofitting. Luther's Christianity (according to Davies: I say I'm saved so I'm saved; the Eucharist isn't Christ's sacrifice pleaded on the altar) was radically new but he wasn't consistent and he was for using the trappings of the church to deceive the simple faithful (for their own good). His followers (Melanchthon most of his life) tried to reach an agreement with the church and wrote down a theology to answer us after Trent. Thus a made-up Christianity accidentally became our close cousin some time after its founding (similar line as Anglican old high church: they're the church; we're in grave error).

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Vatican II is policy, not doctrine: Catholicism and Americanism

America can work for us: by the '50s the Northeast was almost a Catholic country.

Francis is bad but this was one of our worst Popes, the vacillating one who let the Sixties in.

Paul VI: Vatican II is not binding on Catholics. Vatican II didn't define doctrine and nothing can change doctrine. The vernacular in worship, religious liberty American style, and ecumenical and interfaith studies and talks are fine, rightly understood, but we're better off ignoring this council.

Thomas Case in 1992: "A contention between American patriots and European fascists is ripping the Society [of St. Pius X] apart."

That is a difference between American and European Catholic traditionalisms but it doesn't have to split Catholics. The church doesn't define doctrine about politics or economics; the political means to the end of saving souls and human flourishing are up to us, as long as we don't buy the end justifying the means.
Religious liberty is fine?
Sure! The generosity of some American colonies and of America's founding fathers made the country a great home for Catholics.
Religious liberty American style is heresy.
So Catholics before Vatican II who were proud American citizens were in mortal sin?
Catholics before Vatican 2 who support the idea of separation of Church and State as per the secularist understanding of the liberals were and are heretics. Heresy existed long before your country was created.
It's a razor-fine distinction but on one hand there's religious freedom as a relative good for the church to flourish, or how Catholics could be Americans, and then there's indifferentism, the fashionable modern belief that all religions are really the same, like denominationalism in modern liberal American Protestantism; your choice and strictly a private matter, like what brand of motor oil you buy. John Courtney Murray went too far, being Americanized (the Americanist heresy Leo XIII condemned?): seeing Catholicism as just another denomination. That doesn't mean Catholics can't be good Americans. Pre-Vatican II American Catholics were! (Are, as arguably we are pre-Vatican II Catholics.) Vatican II rightly interpreted says the American way can work for the church, a policy change from favoring a state church (which as Catholics we still can do), not a change in our doctrine, which is impossible. I know it sounds close to what the Syllabus Errorum condemns but again it's a fine distinction. In other words we accept religious freedom as an option but without the secularist understanding of it that the church condemns (insisting that freedom's the only way: the Americanist heresy).
There can be no policy change from favouring the true religion to having the State treat religion and falsehood equally. That idea of change is condemned by Vatican I.
Policy can and does change. Doctrine doesn't. We still teach we are the church, even with the council's subsistit in (which I have no problem with; we've always recognized the Orthodox' bishops and Masses and Protestant baptisms).
It is doctrine that States have the moral obligation to support and promote only the true religion (Social Kingship of Christ). The negation thereof is absurdity and heresy.
But there are different ways of promoting and supporting the true religion. We can have a state church like Franco Spain (and I like El Caudillo) but we don't have to.