Saturday, January 30, 2016

Unchurchy church in the new Brooklyn

An idea that's been around in churches at least since the Sixties, with impressive historical credentials (when romantics read the Didache): in hipsterized, gentrified Brooklyn, St. Lydia's (a saint from the Book of Acts), an experimental church (actually ELCA Lutheran, which in this case means it's an Episcopal project too) that doesn't use a church building and features an agape meal as the Sunday Eucharist. (First rule of hipster church: don't call it hipster church, "hipster," like "guido," not being something you call yourself.)

Let's start with the positive. It's better done than Pastor Ingqvist trying to be hip with a guitar service. It has a strong appeal, reaching out to fill a deep need probably not being met, 20- and 30-year-olds far away from family in a society where real community is eroding: hungry for a connection. (Loneliness: it's not just for saddos anymore.) In a way it's nothing new. Churches and church groups meet in parish halls and people's homes for dinners all the time. (My city Catholic parish manages to have coffee hour once a month after all the Sunday Masses, like the Episcopalians every week; for an American Catholic parish, phenomenal, virtually St. Lydia's, comparatively speaking.) Such experiments aren't just for liberals such as ELCA: evangelicals, actually very adaptable, have tried it; remember the Jesus movement in the early '70s? Catholics tried it with the charismatic movement and its "covenant communities," and in ways, the Neocatechumenate from Spain with its own low-church liturgy. Before Vatican II, in France you had the worker priests trying to revive the faith among the blue-collar by offering them unchurchy church. OK. So, unlike the Sixties radicals, they don't want to take away my Latin Mass or conventional Catholic or Lutheran parishes. So why not live and let live, having house or storefront churches with agapes, low churchmanship, and good fellowship, alongside that? As I like to say, Catholics' ecumenical approach should be "everything that's not doctrine is on the table." We're not tied down to one rite or culture. Why not room for one more?

Yes, up to a point, and this is where doctrine and practical experience (2,000 years worth!) kick in. As a Catholic I'm not a bigot; as long as we keep the old Mass and you try to keep the teachings, like we try to, I can be very accommodating.

So let's look at St. Lydia's claims to be all-inclusive, not tied down by insistence on doctrine (other than a broad belief in Jesus and the Bible as they see it), and counter-cultural, "working for change" (as if "change" were always objectively good: isn't that a doctrine?). A risk with such communities is when you jettison the traditional church and its teachings you lose your objectivity; pretty soon "God" starts sounding suspiciously like me or "my set" (cf. The Screwtape Letters), our king, our tribe, our government, etc. I've never been to St. Lydia's but I'm sure it isn't consciously cliquey. But let's look at some of their statements: A progressive, GLBTQ-affirming congregation... Refugees welcome. (By the way, "conservative Christian" doesn't automatically mean "pick on homosexuals" as these statements assume. It does mean "follow the same gospel as your straight brethren," which for you means abstinence — "take up your cross and follow me," which seems not to be what St. Lydia's wants to hear. And what of the Christian duty to defend innocent people from being raped or shot by "refugees"?) This is not so much for the benefit of homosexuals or Muslim immigrants but virtue-signaling something very much doctrine, a rather narrow one appealing mostly to present-day white Americans of a certain class on up. A modern, say, English- or Swedish-based culture. A message now so mainstream that most of its target audience doesn't see the need for a church glommed onto it.

Such communities in such neighborhoods might by definition be transitional: what happens when the young creative types pair off, marry, and have kids? Then Pastor Ingqvist's parish with Sunday school, etc., would work better. Might such communities last longer if, say, some of the members committed to not marrying and instead lived together and ran such local churches, schools, hospitals, shelters, etc.? Oh, wait.

In short, I'm reminded of that humorous and insightful writer, G.K. Chesterton, who as a young man tried to come up with the heresy to beat all heresies: maybe supposedly boring old, hung-up orthodox Catholicism and its cultures, from Italian to Ukrainian to sub-Saharan African ones, are far more radical and universal/inclusive (one gospel for all people in all places and times) than anything the good-hearted Lutherans of St. Lydia's can imagine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

When's a Pope not a Pope?

"Is the Pope Catholic?" Serious question.

The world seems to love Pope Francis but for all the wrong reasons. It hasn't suddenly started loving God including Jesus, the church or its teachings. It thinks he's validating all its wrong views. (Free sex! "Who's to judge?" Believe whatever you want as long as you're nice to each other. The bland ecumenicism of apostate Christianity: "post-Christian society.") So at long last, as Vatican II seemed to promise, he'll push those dumb fishsticks into line. ("Get over yourselves; you're just a denomination in a marketplace of spirituality.") The world believes in absolute papal power that's its for the asking; the church doesn't!

"But isn't the Pope the point of being Catholic?"

There have always been Popes with wrong ideas (before modern media, we didn't hear about them); that doesn't affect the Pope's office because his views don't figure in his job, which is only to defend what's been handed down. As far as I know, Pope Francis hasn't tried to teach heresy ex cathedra. The sedevacantist scenario with a Pope turned antipope can happen but we can't presume someone's no longer Pope, although we can and should ignore a bad Pope; we have to wait for the ecclesiastical second-in-command to tell us so. That's why I'm not turning Chicken Little telling people to leave the church.
Who is the "ecclesiastical second-in-command" that you are referring to?
The answer I remember reading is "the world's bishops." Which doesn't mean the schismatics are right; the Pope's office still has God-given authority and Western Christianity is not a fraud. In this situation, the Pope effectively abdicates by stepping outside his office's authority. In practice: your bishop makes the call for you?
I came out of Orthodoxy almost 33 years ago. For the first time in all those years, I am thinking about returning. The Catholic Church I joined no longer exists; at least according to the Pope, I am one of those divining, rigid Pelagians! May God have mercy on His Church!
Of course the church still exists; Jesus said it would. But he didn't promise it would still exist in the United States, for example. Schism: been there. No way. As awful as a Pope can be, he can't change the teachings of the church, and I can't buy that Byzantium IS the church, not just part of it, so Western Catholicism's been a fraud for 1,000 years. (Even when I was trying to, I never could bring myself to defend a so-called "Orthodox Church," only "the Orthodox tradition." Their bishops and Mass are real, and their rite is better than the Novus Ordo, but what looks like Catholic traditionalism from them is only ethnic/national boosterism, no longer really serving God.) If I really believed that, I wouldn't care about Pope Francis and the state of the Catholic Church as I do.
The inconvenient truth is that one can materially hold to heresy — teach it, shouting it from rooftops even! — without ever losing one's Catholicism; that is, their ecclesiastical status of "Catholic in good standing" because it has not been declared as such formally by the institution that gave them their Catholicism in the first place when they entered the Church at Baptism. Francis is Pope. Francis is a bad Pope. We have to come to grips with that reality and work from there... speculating about whether or not he is Pope is futile.
The church is very careful about declaring someone a heretic and excommunicating him. We're not a micromanaging cult. One's weird uncle who hates the church isn't a formal heretic. A heretic 1) is in a position to know better; he's had theological training so he knows what the church teaches and rejects it; he's not ignorant; 2) is in a position of power and trust, responsible for the care and good of souls, such as a priest or a professor; and 3) has been warned.

I don't have to make excuses for a Pope because I know the teachings of the church: the church doesn't run on the Pope's opinions.

I thank God that Francis cares so little about liturgy and traditionalism he hasn't tried to revoke Pope Benedict's reform of English Novus Ordo or Summorum Pontificum. Thanks to that, to me his reign has been a cakewalk compared to Paul VI and John Paul II. That doesn't mean "a pretty Mass is all that matters"; it means, as Anglo-Catholic alumni know, "it's the Mass that matters." I have the church's teachings and unimpeded access to the grace of the Mass. So I 1) tune him out (the media's stream of reporting off-the-cuff remarks that seem to agree with the world), easy since I'm not a priest so he's not my boss; and 2) don't rattle his cage (by calling him a formal heretic or an antipope, saying Benedict's still Pope, etc.). The idea is to keep him ignoring me. He won't excommunicate me for this blog post, and arguably can't, because it doesn't attack the teachings of the church. (And if you think I'm hard on Francis, you should read Adrian Fortescue on St. Pius X.)

Monday, January 25, 2016

How pro-life fails and more

  • From 2009: Life to March. The pro-life movement has endured for so long precisely because it has failed. Is it just a substitute for American Catholic identity, after Vatican II? The writer doesn't say it's that bad. The main points: pro-lifers have cut abortions by about a quarter since 1990 but we're failing at stopping the problem at its cause (we're losing the culture war); people are literally killing for what they think is free sex. Fallen human nature is strong.
  • Chicago, 1972: The Poles: still our victims. From the blink of an eye in the Sixties when ethnic Catholics were cool in America, thanks to their numbers, the goodwill they earned before Vatican II, Vatican II having people think the church was on board with the Sixties, and the new left's war on the old WASP America. Then Humanae Vitae and Roe v. Wade reminded everybody the church is still Catholic so the new bosses went back to hating us.
  • Are "utopian" workplaces (companies that pretend to care about you) just a ploy to keep you at work all the time? A trap for wage slaves, like the company town with the company store that Tennessee Ernie Ford sang about.
  • USA: Greek former archimandrite "marries" man in civil ceremony. Yes, of course I go to an Orthodox church and yes, I receive Holy Communion. If it's true (it's only Mr. Heropoulos' claim for now), then on the ground in Orthodox churches, being in the ethnic group trumps teaching, thanks to economy. So, rare in their conservative cultures (as the Athenos yogurt commercials used to make fun of) but it happens, de facto gay marriage with the partners going to Communion. Liberal Catholic parishes do it too but not while looking traditional; that's an Episcopal thing. (Given the rest of the story, and that he's of a generation that might still go to church, it's far more likely he's Episcopal now.) Among the Orthodox, what looks like traditionalism to us Catholics is just the trappings of ethnic/national boosterism.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Anti-Trump outcry and the state of Britain

Proof? As far as I can tell from the article, it's basically just the PM, one Labour MP, and a former Scottish official mouthing off, not the British government or people. Half a million signed a petition, out of a population of 64 mil. (Class/virtue-signaling? "All right-thinking people, my set of course, look down on Trump.")

Anyway, I'm not impressed. Britain is no longer a world power. (Prince Charles to Putin: "You're like Hitler!" Putin to the prince: "Your country hasn't mattered at least since 1945. Mine still spans 11 time zones and we control our own nukes." Prince: "Ow.") It can tell off the rest of Europe and still act like a world power because it's an American protectorate, thanks to the "special relationship" in which the empire still exists but the ex-colony is in the driver's seat. Been so at least since World War II; leaders in each country were already planning for it, since before World War I. Want to tell off Trump if he's elected and go it alone vs. Germany, et al.? God have mercy on you. And the British telling off Trump probably boosts his support from his American populist base. (Like the National Review attacking him. Free advertising that raises his cred with his base, fed up with the Establishment Republicans' games, and hurting NR as people cancel their subscriptions.) Then there are the British nationalists (UKIP and the English Defence League) who'd be simpatico with Trump. (Blowback from the "migrants"/"refugees": northern Europe is getting fed up.)
Britain's decline started with the abdication of Edward VIII.
Actually the Rhodes Group, now the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), got started before World War I as British leaders realized the empire as then constituted would end, running out of money and resources. The plan, with the American elite: secretly shift its center to America. Promoting Anglo-American relations was part of the plan. Why there are Rhodes scholarships for Americans. Why we got into WWs I and II. (WWII was also Communists in our government helping the Soviets win, the true story of the war that the movies don't tell you. It wasn't really John Wayne saving us from speaking German or Japanese.) The double whammy of WWI and the Depression (years apart of course) bankrupted Britain so in 1931 it started divesting, making its white colonies such as Canada and Australia independent. (Financially still in bad shape, it did so with its nonwhite ones after WWII.) So by the time of Edward VIII, who's only a footnote in history, the change was well under way even though the old empire was still on paper.

Before the change, American foreign policy and popular sentiment understandably feared the mother country as a threat to independence (the War of 1812: we tried to steal what's now Canada and the British gave us a good thrashing); the countries had a naval arms race and last-ditch invasion plans (to be fought in Canada) as recently as the 1920s.

Irony: the United States is more conservative and more religious, but the change marked a defeat for the traditional(ist) trappings of Britain, the monarchy, the lords, and the English church with its coped bishops crowning kings/queens and officiating at royal weddings (the symbols remain and are even popular but stripped of power). For centuries the Popes didn't want republicanism of the American or Irish kind (but we can work with that) but rather that this old structure be reconciled with the church, union from the top down, because hierarchy and indeed establishment are in themselves good.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Gay conservative Christians and more

  • Anglicanism: After the Primates' Gathering, whither gay conservatives? Of course this point reminds me of classic, Tridentine Anglo-Catholicism at its best. Being innocent as a young person, I didn't know for a couple of years that homosexual men have long predominated in the movement. People don't understand that Catholicism is all for being "openly gay" if by that you mean you're honest about your orientation with yourself and the few others it concerns. It doesn't necessarily mean unchastity. Yes, for homosexuals, abstinence is the answer. "Take up your cross and follow me." For example, the A-C alumnus Fr. John Jay Hughes is upfront with you about his bisexuality, if it ever comes up; he has never used this to attack the teachings of the church. There's no such thing as gay Catholicism, just Catholicism. (Why, for the most part, until recently nobody figuratively waved rainbow flags at St. Clement's.) Like Huw Richardson: he's gay and he's Orthodox, but just call him Orthodox; your orientation isn't the sum of who you are. As for the Episcopalians, they now think this is all nonsensical repression (closeting); I think unchaste gay pseudo-traditionalism is for all intents part of their brand now. My guess is the people the piece describes will find out Fr. Richard John Neuhaus was right: when orthodoxy becomes optional, not only is it no longer orthodoxy; it eventually is forbidden.
  • Anglican drama: The Episcopal Church gets a time-out over same-sex marriage. I'm now a writer for Catholic World Report.
  • The March for Life has its place and is great (been in it three times) but 1) what can we do to actually stop abortions (voting Republican doesn't do the trick; Roe v. Wade was under a Republican president — I know; it was the Supreme Court, separation of powers, but still — and we've had how many GOP presidents and Congresses since?) and 2) considering the Novus Ordo American church, among well-meaning conservative Novus Ordo Catholics might this stuff be a substitute for a larger Catholic identity we lost, so much so that the goal of stopping abortions is almost irrelevant?
  • Pope Francis allows women in Maundy Thursday foot-washing ceremony. It's not doctrine; he can do that. But should he? Just like the church normally doesn't write completely new services. His intentions are probably good: serve the poor; be generous. But is this ceremony to do with the apostolic ministry since the first participants were apostles? Why in 1988 I got into a shouting match with two libcaths who hated the then-new Archbishop of Philadelphia for keeping the rule. Like with unnecessary lay Eucharistic ministers and altar girls, it seems not a matter of doctrine but disobedience that churchmen eventually caved on, a fait accompli and a slap for Anglo-Catholic alumni who lived through the attempted ordination of women; we defended the faith and the church and this is the thanks we get.
  • From Patrick Sheridan: What went wrong with the West? Putin's great as a new Constantine for Russians, not for me. I've known Russians (and know Russian) and like them. Hooray for that almost Catholic country returning to its anti-liberal roots. I'm not falling for the secular New World Order trying to exploit my Catholic and old Cold Warrior feelings to get me on board propping up the Ukraine to attack Russia, though of course I support a pro-Catholic Ukraine, independent if it wants to be. The Western left hates Russia because it's not Communist anymore. Fr. Andrew's post, echoing how I talked myself into Orthodoxy 20 years ago ("the West dropped the ball so it's not the church"), is just fanboy convertitis from an outsider worshipping Russia. ("Russia will save the world!" It can't; it's cut off from the universal church.) The church, on the contrary, isn't tied to any one rite, empire, or set of cultures. Byzantium's great; at heart Catholic. But that's not the whole church. Fr. Andrew's "Orthodox Civilization" not only denies that the mid-late medieval West had grace (St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis, frauds? Seriously, get out of town: move [back] to Russia!) but is talking nonsense about divorce and remarriage ("sometimes adultery is OK" says the putative true church?!) and contraception, and is always the state's lackey, even if the state's anti-Christian, once they've been slapped around enough. Nobody can own the Catholic Church, which is why those states have hated it. The Russian government hates the Ukraine because, really being the same people, they think it belongs in their empire and are furious it's not. The empire as fake catholicity. Some senior clergy from upper-class families would shave their Christian beards, just like the old pagan Roman leaders. They read pagan Latin literature and, remarkably, passed their nostalgia for pagan Rome on to the Frankish barbarian invaders. (We're "Frankish barbarians" because we're outside the empire; theologically this is hash.) He's ignorant: at some point didn't the Greeks have unhaloed paintings of Socrates and Plato in their churches' vestibules? (Why not? Their philosophy, like Aristotle later with the Schoolmen, gave our theology a framework. Huge influence on the church fathers.) And the shaven Roman style was normative in the Western classical world at that time; the Byzantine beard came later. A thought: within three generations of arriving in America, Orthodox become just like Protestants.

The indelible mark of the priesthood and fallen-away Catholics

OK, so a lot of Anglo-Catholic parishes practise Benediction. At a parish where the vicar's orders are invalid (in my opinion only former RC priests would be valid) would worship of a piece of bread be idolatry? I am in a city where no Ordinariate community exists. I would like to attend evensong at the Anglo-Catholic parish but it includes Benediction.
Attend. They believe God's there and who knows? God created valid orders but he's not limited to them. Idolatry? No. It's all in the intent, and that's not their intent. I'm supposed to have convertitis and scream "No!" Sorry.

Catholic traditionalist Michael Davies believed that an ex-Catholic priest using the Anglicans' Communion service is celebrating Mass. Illicitly but Mass all the same. Of course I'd like to know what the church teaches. Can't go wrong treating it as invalid, since of course you can't go to Communion there anyway. (The church has never approved or used Cranmer's Communion consecration prayer.) My guess is the Anglican or Lutheran context renders valid orders moot. Like when schismatic Catholic bishops participated in Anglican ordinations: the church doesn't recognize the "Dutch touch" among Protestants; only when the schismatic Dutch-derived churches (the so-called Old Catholics) do it. ELCA's former presiding bishop claims that touch through the Episcopalians; that is pushing the Western Catholic theology of valid orders outside the church too far.
Not that it's pertinent to this (seeing it's a Western matter), but the Eastern view is that if he's a priest then his consecrating of the Eucharist is valid. The concept of liceity does not exist in the East. Either it's valid or it's not. If the priest has been formally defrocked/deposed, then he's no longer a priest and therefore he can not consecrate anything.
Actually the Christian East favors the view that if the priest is outside what they consider the church, be it Orthodoxy, one of the Monophysite churches, or the Nestorian Church, then he's not a priest and there are no other valid sacraments including baptism. Sometimes they recognize our orders, baptisms, etc., as we do theirs but they don't have to.
I would say this is a late development. The work of the Holy Ghost is no laughing matter. Some fanatical Orthodox might deny the indelible mark of the priesthood but no Catholic — no matter what church he belongs to — may deny that he is a priest forever.
Right; Catholics believe a priest never stops being a priest. A laicized priest simply is forbidden from using that, except in an emergency. Thing is the fanatical Orthodox are in good standing with their churches. The "indelible mark" of holy orders is our doctrine, not theirs. They don't dogmatically deny it or anything else Catholic, but they hold this: there is the church and it has orders; everything outside the church is undefined darkness. An Orthodox convert with a theology degree has told me they don't believe their laicized priests are still priests. I'm not sure; I imagine one of their bishops could reactivate one.
Going around denying the validity of other people's baptisms is not "Eastern," it's not "apostolic"; it's plain cult-crazy.
Why I'm Catholic, not Orthodox, for example: I can't buy that only "Byzantium" is the church, the only thing with grace.
Laicised RC priests retain their orders and, with correct form and matter confect valid sacraments in Anglo-Catholic churches. There are not a few active in the Anglo-Catholic movement so this is a valid issue.
Historically it was very rare: Catholics turned Anglicans tended not to mimic the church, and Anglo-Catholics, while sometimes pushing a rival true-church claim, respected us in "the Roman Church" so they didn't try to convert us; they were trying to catholicize other Anglicans. You've seen it more since the '60s, as Episcopalianism high-churchified, coincidentally: ex-Catholics who were priests who wanted to marry, were gay, or were divorced and remarried. Some Episcopalians complain about such remaining very "Roman." Most Catholic liberals don't switch because they are from a generation rightly taught we're the true church so rather than leave they stayed and tried to change (protestantize) it, plus they don't like high liturgics (the Episcopalians worship too much like I do) and they have ethnic and real or perceived class loyalties (an Irish-American not joining the English church, for example).

Then there was St. Clement's, my Anglo-Catholic parish in the late '80s and hangout last decade, which had a few ex-Catholics as lay leaders (ex-Catholic Anglo-Papalists?!) creating a Tridentine-based liturgical haven (albeit ecclesiologically and sacramentally untenable) amidst the American Catholic wasteland/madhouse after Vatican II; they've since returned to the church and have a weekly Tridentine Mass like the one I go to.

And then there's the issue of ex-Catholics coming back and wanting to be Catholic priests. Normally an ex-Catholic priest wouldn't be allowed to but the church could give a dispensation; what John Hepworth wanted. A few men left the church as laymen, married, and were ordained in the Church of England or Episcopal Church, and the church gave them a dispensation when they came back; they are now Catholic priests.

By the way, the return of lapsed Catholics is today's Chair of Unity Octave intention, having prayed for the conversion of European Protestants (I guess mostly our Lutheran cousins; sounds quaint as it seems to me European Protestantism is dead) and American ones (lively, though often "the American religion," not as Christian as one thinks). My dad came back, the core group at St. Clement's came back, and I came back. It happens.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

America's new quasi-official Anglicans

Day 3 of the Chair of Unity Octave has another intention dear to me, the submission of Anglicans to the church. As regular readers know, I was born an Episcopalian because my dad left the church (he came back in the end; unlike me he liked Vatican II). Thanks to that "accident" I learned traditional liturgical forms at the same time the American Catholic Church was dumping them. The culture through which I express the faith that Msgr. Murray taught me. Anglicanism is really only the Reformed faith with bishops but there's always been something to it, in spite of themselves; why Anglo-Catholicism (both the rival true-church claim and what its detractors feared, trying for a "reconciliation with honor" with the church) existed. (In fact Anglo-Papalists started the Chair of Unity Octave.) Why Vatican II gave it a nod.

In this turbulent ecclesiastical scene (often under a cover of English manners), with its high churchmen trying to be Catholic on their terms, not the church's (the Episcopalians love our culture including our traditional liturgy), people resembling conservative Presbyterians, and of course the headline-grabbing liberals chasing every secular lead in mores (yet next to nobody goes to their churches: Fr. Longenecker, an ex-Evangelical Anglican priest, understands why not; Catholic Modernism's self-refuting too), today I'll give the Anglican Church in North America the spotlight, America's new quasi-official Anglicans, not entirely in the Anglican Communion (England's strange Reformed church spread through the British Empire) but many member churches (the conservative African Evangelical Anglicans) recognize them, not the liberal Episcopalians anymore, so who knows? There's a lot to like: enthusiastic about the faith in the creeds, loving Jesus, and still close to the church on sexual matters (what are now considered Catholic issues used to be generally Christian ones). Looking at them in action, having lost their aversion to many Catholic trappings (indirect Anglo-Catholic influence; the Episcopalians' last three A-C dioceses are now in ACNA), you see "separated brethren." Nice that we're not trying to kill each other anymore, and believe me, when they got started in England, they went after us. But today you can see their claim to be "Catholic and Reformed" in action. Being Protestants, they have women clergy, like the Episcopalians they came from. (So what are the A-C dioceses doing there? I guess these A-Cs are pushing a rival truth claim, of which they consider themselves the authentic spokesmen: the spiritual sons of Charles Grafton and others.)

So what's the story? Any chance of them coming into the church? Not any time soon. Same issues as in the 16th century (the church and its sacraments actually giving grace vs. salvation by feeling you're saved, the church, etc. being only trappings). Plus the women clergy. (And they're surprised the Episcopalians also voted for gay marriage?)

Video: Archbishop Foley Beach.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Coptic bishop enthroned in a Catholic church

  • Chair of Unity Octave prayers. Today's intention is close to me, the reconciliation of most of the Christian East, a topic about which there is much misunderstanding. The Orthodox, fellow Chalcedonians, clearly are estranged Catholics, not personally guilty of schism though they're in schism. Or heresy for that matter because they've never dogmatized their anti-Catholic opinions. Born Orthodox get the benefit of the doubt. Clearing up a misunderstanding among them: you don't have to latinize to be Catholic. But the self-latinized Eastern Catholics among us have the right to be. The Lesser Eastern Churches (Monophysites and Nestorians): also estranged Catholics or something like Mormons with holy orders, Christological heretics? (If you get Jesus wrong, are you really Christian? The Mormons aren't.) I don't have a problem with the recent understanding that the accusations of heresy were a misunderstanding (only recently have the Monophysites generally been considered Orthodox); we recognize their orders. (Our semi-"branch theory," only with Catholicism as the whole truth: our teaching on valid orders, requiring credal orthodoxy so basic the Lesser Easterners pass, unbroken apostolic succession, and unbroken true teaching about the Eucharist. The entire Christian East and a few Western splinters are, sacramentally, still in the Catholic family.) Another misunderstanding about the Christian East: that they recognize us like we do them. Not so fast. They can but they don't have to. Many don't. That's right; to them we're in worse shape than the Anglicans, not even having valid baptisms! (Because we're outside the church, see.) And for centuries the three families of Easterners, the Orthodox, the Monophysites, and the Nestorians, didn't recognize each other. (Competing true-church claims.) Still another from well-meaning Catholics: because Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras revoked the excommunications of 1054, we're in communion again or are about to be, imminently. Excommunications don't apply to the dead of course; those excommunications were of certain people on each side and didn't involve the churches. The estrangement remains. Which relates to still another: that Constantinople's the Orthodox Vatican; all we need is for the Pope and the Orthodox Pope to reconcile. No such thing as the Orthodox Pope. They're a loose communion actually little to do with each other; the Monophysites even more so. Misunderstanding No. 5: we're sister churches. The truth: because sacramentally we're still the same, our respective dioceses ("the church of Brooklyn," "the church of Johnstown") are sisters. The Catholic Church has no sisters. So there is no such thing as "the Orthodox Church." At the top there is only one church.
  • Anyway, "what's wrong with this picture," literally? Bishop Arsany (or Arsenios), the Coptic Orthodox Bishop for the Netherlands, attended today a Sung Mass (1962 Missal) celebrated at the Sint-Agneskerk in Amsterdam, where a personal parish dedicated to the Traditional Latin Mass is under the care of the FSSP. He might not be the first Orthodox prelate to attend a TLM in recent years, but as far as I know he is the first one to do so while seated on a throne inside the sanctuary. First off, good! Those at least slightly acquainted with the church know that the Christian East has never had a Vatican II; they had the grace and sense not to cave to the Sixties by modernizing. The Slavs in America just switched to English, including on the Greek Catholic side here (whence most of the Slav Orthodox in America came, "Greek" here meaning "Greek Rite"; by the way, most American Orthodox are actually Greek). So you have rites that are better than the Novus Ordo and historical, natural analogues to the Tridentine Mass. Some of their bishops recognize our sacraments. Well and good. Also, again, born members of these churches aren't personally guilty of schism. And again, our dioceses are sisters. So what's the matter here? Catholics believe there is only one true church, which gives the authority of jurisdiction to clergy, first to bishops, who in turn delegate some of their authority to priests. An estranged Eastern bishop belongs in "choir," on sedilia in the sanctuary with Catholic clergy, not vested to serve (anyway, the traditional Roman Rite usually doesn't have concelebration; the Eastern rites do) but in "choir dress," as indeed Msgr. Arsany (more on that address in a bit) is here, in his monk's habit (Eastern bishops are usually monks, so yes, they're celibate; diocesan deacons and priests may marry before ordination and widowers can't remarry — same in the Eastern Catholic churches and for the few married Roman Rite deacons and priests). Bishops are given jurisdiction by the Pope, so a Coptic bishop shouldn't sit on the bishop's throne in one of our churches. The estranged East certainly wouldn't do that for one of ours, logically. By the way, because jurisdiction comes from the Pope, and because estranged Eastern bishops, unlike Anglican bishops, are real bishops, before Vatican II it was common Catholic practice to refer to them as "Msgr. Name in Religion," much like a European Roman Rite bishop who is not a diocesan bishop. So the Archbishop of Canterbury was "Dr. Lang"; the Patriarch of Constantinople was "Msgr. Meletios." That said, I don't have a problem with the idea that not-guilty, not-ex-Catholic Eastern bishops have apostolic authority over their own people in the same situation as they; you could say the church supplies jurisdiction in that case of "good faith" ("they don't know they're schismatic" as a priest put it to me). So "Bishop Arsany" is fine.
  • In any case ecumenism with these churches (arguably the only kind that matters) is completely different from with Protestants, because they're churches, with apostolic bishops and the Mass, not groups of baptized Christians in non-churches, commonly called Protestants (heretics but not Christological ones). Our goal is to reconcile them to the church from the top down so all their dioceses come into the church at the same time, after which we would leave their rites alone. Huge moral support for traditionalists and conservatives in the Roman Rite.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fr. Rutler against post-Sixties pop music and the cultural revolution generally

In speaking of the rock and roll genre, I certainly do not want to be lumped with those preachers who once condemned Ragtime music, or even Chesterton who in an unmeasured moment called Jazz “the song of the treadmill.” But I am a pastor of a section of Manhattan called Hell’s Kitchen. I recently had the funeral of a young man who died of a drug overdose, and whose musical world was Corybantic. His cousin, a client of the rock and drug scene, is in prison for murder. So I speak not only as an aesthete who publicly avows that he prefers Mozart and Chopin to Jackson and Bowie, but as a priest who has to pick up the pieces of those who never knew they had a choice. And I object to comfortable prelates in a higher realm, penning panegyrics for the doyens of a culture that destroys my children.
The young Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, for example, were livewires, huge natural talents exuding bad-boy sexuality (not the domesticated Elvis of the movies and Vegas); of course the girls screamed as they did for Sinatra. Just like the Rat Pack, all were naughty (those two being Southern sinners Flannery O'Connor probably understood: "I'm not the King, honey; Jesus Christ is the King. I'm just a singer") but not destructive to the culture as the cute, seemingly tamer Beatles (somehow an instrument of great evil) and the raucous but less talented (and not good-looking) Rolling Stones were in the next decade. The former set's many vices remained a private matter.

So while I appreciate Fr. Rutler's argument, I don't hate early rock'n'roll; like Pat Buchanan I love it among several genres (including swing), the music of a confident, winning America. The '50s were a perfect storm for the country: unprecedented prosperity and the old values or at least the old norms still in force. (But reactionaries such as European traditionalists are right that the rot, the nihilism and agnosticism, had already set in regarding values, certainly among the elite, going back to at least the "Enlightenment." Norms lag; the non-elite often still went to church.) Read Face to Face for some more on that:
It's important to keep in mind as we enter the renaissance of populism, we have to remind the liberals that their revival of 1940s and '50s New Deal economics will have to be traded for a return to lifestyles of the '40s and '50s. If they want a higher minimum wage and narrowing inequality, they can afford to close down pornography, multiculturalism, and rootlessness. By the same token, conservatives must be willing to pay higher income taxes, work in a more unionized economy, and face tighter checks on over-weening career ambition.
Who else does that remind of Catholic social teaching as I think I understand it? Not Big Brother but certainly not libertarian. "Narrowing inequality": the American dream was real then.

And I let Bowie off easy, preferring to remember him as a throwback to a reactionary aristocracy (the Thin White Duke, not an egalitarian nor pretending to be, aristocrats affording not to care what you think, in a business that rewards virtuosity; not born upper-class but looking the part), again with many vices as such have long had. Fr. Rutler puts him in the same malignant camp as the Beatles. For people lacking the cushion of money and social station (class) and/or intelligence, imitating the vices of the upper classes is materially disastrous. And that, I think, is Fr. Rutler's objection to him: flaunting, nay, preaching his vices and harebrained ideas, he made them public for many people's possible ruination.

Debating with a Continuing Anglican about the framers

We share a culture (including saying no to the Sixties, with our respective "symbolic" books with which to say that, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the Tridentine Mass) and most of our theology (bishops, Mass, sacraments, saints; definitely not the theology of the '28 BCP) but there's only one church, and to be a Continuer takes a misreading of history and an argument its originator, Newman, later disowned as intellectually dishonest: "we owe no allegiance to the intentions of Anglicanism's framers," which is like "I hate the Old Testament but I'm Jewish," "Muhammad's not the Prophet but I'm a Muslim" or "I'll always be a Catholic but the Pope's wrong on the faith" (I've met such a poor soul, the late Fr. Ray Jackson: raised in Cardinal Spellman's New York and ordained by that fine churchman, when the Sixties flipped him, he kept the teaching that there is only one church which he could never leave, but it was wrong about some essentials, so he and his friends must change it).

An Episcopalian:
For myself, I believe that the US and Canadian Anglicans are reflecting the best of the Church's baptismal theology.
A Continuer:
And of course reinterpreting the moral law, as rooted in the very nature of God, based on a completely de-contextualized use of a Galatians passage is not a deviation from the Faith? The Episcopal Church is guilty of apostasy by an serious evaluation of Christian truth based on the Scriptures, Ecumenical Creeds and Councils. The "re-imaging" God that is involved is idolatry. How this represents Anglo-Catholicism and not some form of New Age goofiness is beyond me.
Well and good; what we believe except the Episcopalians aren't apostate even though for centuries they have had many unbelievers. They still have the creeds (those, bishops, and a liturgy being the "Catholic" part of "Catholic and Reformed"). So why's he like what Pius IX said of Pusey, like the bell tower calling the people into the church but staying outside?

And from whose mind did your "moral law, as rooted in the very nature of God" (very presumptuous language!) did emerge in the first place?
The consensus of the Catholic Church, the estranged Eastern churches, and classical Protestants is nothing to sniff at, but what really matters is, is the church infallible (as the Bishop of Rome teaches) or are Articles XIX and XXI right so anything goes, as you, Continuer, believe as a good Anglican?
As an orthodox Anglo-Catholic in the Continuum I do not give any standing to the 39 Articles as any kind of catholic statement. The article on the non-communion of the wicked is patently false, and one has to do a "Cardinal Newman" — the dance of the seven veils, as it were — around the wording to make it possible to understand it in an orthodox way. It, frankly, isn't worth the time.
So Anglicanism's framers were wrong and thus God's plan for the church and for England was to have an Old Catholicism, a Catholicism without the Pope's jurisdiction? As my old Oxford tutor would say, prove it. Easier to take the framers at their word, and the liberals are taking that to a logical conclusion, even though the framers never envisaged these changes (women clergy and same-sex marriage). Start another church, but can one call that new church Anglican if it owes nothing doctrinally to the framers?
Aren't we getting rather off topic? And what do you want in this online forum, a dissertation? You know that that is the kind of detail required, of course. Shall I put all theology and history regarding questions of authority and jurisdiction into a thimble? Much depends on what one asserts to be the whole mindset of the Church in England throughout history in response to papal claims of universal jurisdiction, and who one wants to identify as the "framers" of Anglicanism (and the whole question, put that way, begs an important question about whether there WERE "framers" at all, or simply people who tried, with various degrees of success, to insist on various reforms and pruning away of errors. Those who did this best never regarded themselves as anything but catholic, in continuity with the Church throughout history, and not as radical revisionists or Puritans. To change the core is to invent some new abomination, which is not Christ's Bride. If one is a Protestant, one thinks of something very different than if one is catholic). Relations with Rome in the English Church were, throughout history, a very on and off again matter, influenced by numerous historical factors, as I am sure you know. Sometimes autocephalous authority was strongly asserted, and sometimes there was a very strong element of conformity with Roman demands. The same happened in many places in the West, not just in England. And this was a situation which continued right up to the tragedy of the Elizabethan Settlement. The test for orthodoxy and catholicity are no different for the Church in England, or her legitimate successors, than for the Church anywhere else, whether identified as Old Catholic, Orthodox, Roman, or Anglican (in England).
I'm only trying to be logical and fair. I don't agree with the liberals but they may well be right about their own church; I have no right to tell them what to do. Of course I think you're wrong about the relationship between medieval England and Rome and about the framers.

Bombing Muslim countries: About the peace message

A study by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations showed that the United States dropped 23,144 bombs on Muslim-majority countries Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia in 2015.
Like I trust the CFR, as in the NWO (New World Order). But anyway.

A commenter: "They hate us for our freedom." Irony: Americans are terrified military-age Muslims might come to the USA and bomb us. Meanwhile thousands of our military are over there and actually dropping thousands of bombs on them.

A Protestant minister, rightly trying to stay above left vs. right in American politics: The interesting thing is that all the Republican candidates think Obama hasn't bombed enough. In other words, no force is too extreme to defend "American interests" no matter how small. And these same candidates want your Christian vote. Am I the only one who things something just isn't right about all this?

A quotation from General Eisenhower: I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

Ted Cruz, maybe trying to sound Trump tough (the mainstream candidates either don't understand Trump's real appeal or think it's beneath them): We will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out.

To be fair, General LeMay, from the same big war as Eisenhower, talked of bombing Vietnam into the Stone Age, which we didn't but could have. That was interesting; a different war, one that General MacArthur wanted President Johnson to back out of. (I think we should have stayed out of World War II. It wasn't like the movies, what we were being told we were doing, defending ourselves. Helping the Soviets win was stupid.) It may have been a liberal crusade for a noble cause, trying to stop Communism from taking over the world (back when liberal meant something a little different in America, before the Sixties culture war; it could include social conservatives such as Catholic Democrats and was very anti-Communist), or as some say of Korea, it may have been political theater at the Koreans' and Vietnamese' expense (yes, the jerks who wrote "M*A*S*H" may have been right), not a matter of our national security but attempted shows of force for the Soviets and the Red Chinese in places that weren't dangers to us (so we wouldn't risk blowing up the world in a nuclear holocaust, and why we didn't flatten Vietnam). The John Birch Society was split on Vietnam.

Anyway, a lot of this is American political theater, the right displaying the healthy response of caring about and thus trying to defend your own people (and we really don't want to import some cultures; yes, we're "discriminatory" and "judgmental" about dangerous things) while the left virtue-signals its righteousness with leapfrogging loyalty (fake universal brotherhood, a ripoff of Christianity) by romanticizing the Other (exoticism) and hating their own people and trying to replace them, thinking they'll remain in charge, of a grateful, "diverse" populace (the outcry about "white privilege," really a weapon against conservative whites, not self-criticism, though they pretend to be humble). "Patriotism is for dumb proles in flyover country and is probably racist." Invade the world vs. invite the world.

The right's probably getting played. Violent reprisal on ISIS' turf is exactly what ISIS wants. And they don't give a damn about the "nice" Western liberals. Military-age Muslims are coming in, thinly disguised as refugees, and shooting us. Bait.

The Sixties-bred left isn't the real peace movement. (And actually they can be bloodthirsty: Maoists, and people like Bill Ayers trying to kill our soldiers at home. He should be hanged. They're weirdly nostalgic about World War II, helping the USSR win, one of the world's top killers.) Catholicism is, while of course not being pacifist.

The pastor above is correct to risk sounding like the left in order to criticize the right. Just like Catholic third-way intellectuals criticizing the individualism (selfishness) of the market. (But the market has improved life so much overall: make a product that benefits mankind and creates jobs as much as it has and we'll talk; we don't want to go back to nasty and short pre-industrial, pre-capitalist life like we might fancy.) The church has always condemned the targeting of civilians, including at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; it is a war crime. Even the Sixties-infected (thanks indirectly to Vatican II) Catholic liberals such as the Berrigans had a point criticizing our doomsday nuclear weapons. Cardinal Ottaviani wanted Vatican II to condemn those nukes. The end doesn't justify the means, but such seems a necessary evil like war itself, the only way to get the most dangerous bully to back off. (Our most successful weapons: never used! I've personally thanked a retired "boomer" submarine captain for his service.) Is it a sin to thus bluff about sinning?

I'm anti-war, pro-military, pro-cop, pro-gun, and pro-life. Defend yourself and defend the most helpless people.

The nonviolent answer to ISIS: don't invade; don't invite.

The pastor: I think Jesus says something altogether different about inviting and welcoming.

Christian altruism doesn't require suicide. The Assyrians in Sweden, a people ISIS is martyring in their homeland, support the Sweden Democrats. They came to Sweden to get away from people such as the Muslim "refugees." Don't invite. Pushed against the wall, our duty is to fight (defending the pastor's wife and children as well as the true faith) as at Lepanto and Vienna.

One of the Episcopalians' sort of conservative bishops on the bond of communion

The Anglican Communion's a well-meant notion, part of the Episcopalians' lineage of bishops going back to the second St. Augustine converting the Anglo-Saxons. I'd say Anglicans sort of miss the Catholic Church so Canterbury and the Anglican Communion are a substitute, even though most Episcopalians think they're a denomination, not "the church" like Catholics and old-school Anglicans think of themselves (England: "the church" vs. Free Church "dissenters"). As Bishop Martins writes, without the tie to that saint (sent by the Pope) in Canterbury, Episcopalianism is just another boutique sect. So actually being kicked out of the Communion (which hasn't happened: a group that might not have authority recommended a time-out for them) would hurt their feelings. Also, they might think the connection gives their utterances a Pope-like authority. (Related: trying to buddy up with the Orthodox, who if anything are less "inclusive" of them theologically than we are. "Byzantine good, Western bad.") So it seems two things mark "the Anglican Way," an emotional tie to England and a real or imagined tie to the medieval church, the "episcopal" in "Episcopal" and the Prayer Book office as Benedictine, for example. Did the Anglican "reformers," the framers, think that way (they hated the medieval church including its monkery), or was it only the same as continental Reformed theology but with bishops because the King preferred it? Classic Anglicans a century later thought that way: the true church because it's both Catholic and Reformed, the medieval church "purified," backtracking a bit to claim legitimacy. As today's Episcopalians think they're purifying the old faith from sexism and homophobia while it remains the old faith. Catholicism teaches that if you have bishops but don't listen to what the past ones taught, what's the point? (Related to why we don't recognize Anglican orders: the framers clearly meant to break faith with the medieval church; Christ's saving work is in the past so no Mass.) Our doctrine is infallible thus "irreformable": even the Pope can't change it. "The bonds of (tough) love" are why the church occasionally excommunicates people, not Protestants occasionally meeting the Queen for tea.

By the way, happy first day of the Chair of Unity Octave (the feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome), started by two former Episcopalians serious about making the world Catholic (even when they were still Episcopal), not squishy ecumenism trying to put our doctrine on the bargaining table. (Me to all schismatics: if it's not doctrine, let's talk.) The papacy's about the "chair" ("see," from sedes), the office's authority, which is the church's, not about the man.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mariology in a nutshell

Mass: Omnis terra adoret te, Deus.

Book of Common Prayer translations:
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear the supplications of thy people, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle: Romans 12:6.
Brethren: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate.

The Gospel: St. John 2:1.
At that time: The third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
By the way, this is how I use Anglican English, my liturgical English: translations of Catholic things and rearranged in the Roman order, along with Anglo-Catholic devotional things dating from at least the 1920s (thanksgiving after Mass: Blessed, praised, hallowed, and adored be our Lord Jesus Christ on his throne of glory in heaven, in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, and in the hearts of his faithful people), not Cranmer's compositions (though I defend the ordinariate people's right to use them; his collects aren't heretical so they make good reading and praying) and of course nowhere near his theology.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. Fr. Brannan, a scholar in Greek and Latin, said that's just as rare, to say the least, speaking to one's mother in those languages in that way as in American English. The point: Jesus, being God, is emphasizing that his mother, made "full of grace" (the angel's greeting to her towards the beginning of Luke, "the Marian gospel") by his plan (the Immaculate Conception) and fulfilling it by her obedience ("be it unto me according to thy word"), helps undo the curse on Eve (on womankind, for Eve's sin) by participating in her son's redemptive act coming to earth (back to John: "and the word was made flesh"). Significantly, this is Mary's first appearance in John's gospel. The main point: Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. Mariology is ultimately all about Jesus; she can only point to her son and tell you to do that. She is the Mother of God but Jesus saves, Mary prays.

Another point from Fr. Brannan: the laity "proclaiming the gospel" in the world doesn't mean preaching or otherwise doing what the priest does; "preaching is cheap." Living the gospel "in the world" is of course the hard part. Lay apostolate doesn't mean Mom giving out Communion but being in every sense the best mom, doctor, soldier, or dog groomer you can be.

Two sanctus bells, even at Low Mass: that's my place.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Anglican drama: Bishop Curry predictably speaks

Of course. They hold it to be self-evident truth, it's now the law of their land, and this wasn't an excommunication, just a time-out handed to them by a group that arguably has no right to. Since they're still full-fledged Christians as far as Anglicanism is concerned, why change?

Frankly they don't care what a bunch of Africans think. (The Africans can't fire the Episcopal clergy, unlike Rome can an erring Catholic cleric.) With this move they're not only trying to appeal to gays but the much more numerous liberal upper middle class who might like to "virtue-signal" by joining such a church. Way to stick it to those dumb fishsticks and fundies; "the cool kids will be flocking to us any day now." Oh, wait.

Townhall, why do you have a picture of Archbishop Welby and not Bishop Curry with this story? Are you that lazy? I mean, come on, they're pretty easy to tell apart.

Anglicanism: What pushes people too far?

Interesting how women's ordination didn't break up the Anglican Communion but same-sex marriage seems to be starting to. (But the Episcopalians haven't been excommunicated, just handed a time-out from meetings by a group that arguably has no right to.) Both hit close to home but WO is a theological matter most Anglicans converted to. Sexuality of course is more primal, as God made it; ultimate our survival as a species depends on it (what marriage is for). So much so that dioceses have quit the Episcopal Church, which logically the Anglo-Catholic dioceses should have done after it ordained women and the Anglican Communion sided with the Episcopalians. The dioceses should have formed their own church, a Continuum with more clout, taking the hits of the lawsuits from the Episcopal Church, if they didn't want to convert to Catholicism. Believing in Anglicanism's true-church claim, a lot of Anglo-Catholics thought WO would blow over, a failed experiment. (A priest, to me, in the early '80s: "Only a few liberal parishes do it." You still can't be in communion with that.) Indeed, the high-church/low-church conflict 150 years ago, the advent of Anglo-Catholicism and its ritualism, should have split Anglicanism in two, and did create splinter churches outside the Communion (the Reformed Episcopal Church: episcopacy minus a Catholic-like true-church claim for oneself, opting for pan-Protestantism): not a matter of style but two completely incompatible theologies (soteriologies, ecclesiologies, and sacramentologies: Christ's saving work all in the past and a feeling of being saved, or the Catholic system minus the Pope?), only remaining together in England because of being a state church. They did both appeal to the ancient church, which Modernists, Catholic and Anglican, don't, rather rationalizing to get what they want.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Anglican follies: A time-out for the Episcopalians?

So a Protestant denomination gave its more liberal American branch a time-out. Sort of. ("Did not!" "Did too!") It doesn't mean anything. It won't change the Episcopalians' minds.
The Church of England itself seems to be headed down the same path. I'm pretty sure the pressure for this came from the African Anglicans.
That and, unlike the Episcopalians, the C of E has Evangelicals (capital E in Anglicanism), but we're talking about a very irreligious country. Right, the Africans: the ex-empire strikes back. What's sort of funny is seeing the Episcopalians blow them off while trying not to look racist. Do they think their black presiding bishop gives them an excuse? Nice man; doesn't seem as abrasive as Schori. A good Protestant. By the way, most black American Protestants don't agree with the Episcopalians on the matter at hand.
Yeah, I imagine dissing the African Anglicans presents a real liberal train wreck for them.

Anglican "logic": So the Pope and the Schoolmen (St. Thomas Aquinas) crossed a line somehow, trying to change the faith, but women clergy and same-sex weddings don't? (Us: we can't change the matter of a sacrament.) By the way, the body doing the disciplining in this story has women clergy. These aren't Catholics, even though some of us as Anglicans thought we were. Never were. To be fair, their founding fathers had the same view of "reason" (as in the Anglican "three-legged stool" of scripture, tradition, and reason) as Aristotle and the Schoolmen: conforming yourself to objective reality, not "this is how I rationalize getting what I want." Women clergy and same-sex marriage weren't in their plan. But Anglicanism started as a mix of sincere but wrong people buying into Protestantism (Christ's saving work is all in the past, and I'm saved if I feel I'm saved, so no priests, no Mass — they hate the Mass — and no penances) and the King and his buddies stealing church property ("I want a male heir, so..." ...rationalizing away). Once you chuck the church, anything goes, as conservative Anglicans have learned the hard way. And most of the left figures you might as well stay home on Sundays.

As an erstwhile born Anglican I was trying to defend Catholicism at the congregational level ("we are part of the larger church"; Anglo-Catholicism is really semi-congregational as well as episcopal), not really Anglicanism ("We're the true church because we're both Catholic and Reformed! Obey the King or die; your choice"). I didn't want to be a Protestant.

Ecumenism (you-come-in-ism): getting the Continuum (classic American Anglo-Catholics who said no to the Sixties) and ACNA (Episcopalianism minus gay weddings) to realize that what happened to the Episcopal Church was inevitable, so re-creating it isn't the answer.

Later this month is the Chair of Unity Octave, started by would-be Catholic Episcopalians, Fr. Paul James Francis Wattson and Mother Lurana White, who wanted to bring the world into the Catholic Church and of course, in 1909 a year after the Episcopalians voted to allow other Protestant ministers to preach in their churches, became Catholic themselves.

So, how's that traddie "renewal" working out for youse? A challenge

Lots to chew on here; Fr. Chadwick's always had a good heart too. First, I hate the expression "post-Christian," as if the Jews were right that Jesus was deluded or a fraud. Anyway, apparently I'm supposed to lose heart and thus leave the church for something else, but of course I never expected Pius XII's and Cardinal Spellman's church back, full-size, eight or even 20-50 years after SP. (My line: we're still suffering from Vatican II; the American church hasn't even bottomed out yet; we'll survive but be small.) Our Mass is in theory available to all but in practice is very much not; the old liberal churchmen (such as the reigning Pope?) are still in charge for now (Benedict was a respite; we need a younger version of him who will stick around to finish the job), and of course most Westerners are now materialists: sin and be happy, then die and that's the end; "you only live once." Giving Pope Francis credit: he's left us alone because he doesn't seem to care about liturgy.

"Dear Father: Please stop it!" Most orthodox Catholics' Sunday mainstay is what it has been for 45 years, the earliest, lowest Novus Ordo, because it is least likely to have ad-libbing (as long as there has been the Novus Ordo, low-churchifying, anti-liturgical libcaths have been teaching well-meaning priests to "turn on the warmth and charm" by "personalizing" the services thus, antithetical to liturgy, which is for all, including the non-charming) and experimentation. (Our Mass is a yearly long road trip for many of those so inclined.) "Say the black and do the red." Now with Pope Benedict's reform in English it works even better: you can go to Mass anywhere in the English-speaking world and hear... Catholicism, regardless of whether the liberals like it.

Most of the nasty Millennial descendants of ethnic ex-Catholics and of ex-Protestants won't come into the church; our beautiful services won't draw them in. Does that mean we chuck the Great Commission? If anything, in the Internet age, the church has fulfilled it. Low-churchify and evangelize like conservative Protestants? American Catholics left and right tried that with the charismatic movement (the thing they told people like me to join), in the excitement of last century's ecumenism; wrongheaded (the traditional liturgy's the way it is for a reason; it can be muddled and inefficient but it works) and it seems to be dying too. And nobody likes a church that's a lame imitation of secular culture; smart kids see right through it.
There is also the question of the contradictory aspect of using the old liturgy in defiance of authority...
Anglo-Catholicism in a nutshell! Both its original version asserting Anglicanism's truth claim (vs. us and others) and its would-be Catholic version, its opposite. Different from the internally consistent old high churchmen who were all about that truth claim and authority: obey your bishop and stick to the letter of the Prayer Book. Rather, "we're still part of the larger church so we answer to a higher authority" (actually us but only some said so); semi-congregationalism enabled it.
If this element is gone by the old liturgy being assimilated into the ordinary diocesan system, the salt loses its savour.
Speaking for myself, this schoolboy naughtiness isn't the culture's appeal; nor is spiritual pride (fun looking down on other Catholics; "we're the saintly remnant"... well, the Duggars thought they were too, as does a homey, "warm," gnostic "spiritual" church that's given up on converting the world). See "we are still part of the larger church"; it's about praying with the universal church including the communion of saints, canonized and otherwise (keeping faith with Msgr. Murray; I have his faith, dressed in Fr. Wetherell's Anglicanized English and borrowed Roman finery).
The real issue is not whether we like churches or not.
Yeppers. See above in parentheses on true liturgy being for all; like it or not, the Mass is what it is and goes on.

Whichever form of liturgy you use, it all comes down to the daily and weekly grind of showing up at Sunday Mass, saying your prayers every day (hopefully starting a personal conversation with God), and avoiding the near occasions of sin.

All that being said, beware of appearances.
Indeed: high churchmanship is in itself true but in practice it's often just a game. Anyway, insights like Fr. C's are a reason I say listen to the alterna-Catholicisms even though there's only one church; on things that aren't doctrine they have a lot to teach us.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Little Office: My second part of "Mass and office"

So far this year I've hung up the rosary (except when driving) for a form of the office again, a light version of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mimicking the Roman Breviary but not nearly as hard; an office for the laity. Matins (the light option: only one nocturn, changing with the day of the week) & Lauds and Vespers, on my train commute. Book from the Capuchins in '54 featuring Pius XII's clunky new version of the Latin with an English translation. I go back and forth: if I remember a traditional Book of Common Prayer translation I use it; if I remember the Vulgate I sometimes use it. I always do the Marian anthem and its collect in Latin, even though "it's not about Latin." When you do the office, you remember it's still Christmas until Feb. 2! I love the antiphons. O admirabile commercium: creator generis humani, animatum corpus sumens, de virgine nasci dignatus est, et procedens homo sine semine, largitus est nobis suam deitatem.

Monks are an intense, specialized Christian community. (Full-fledged nuns are women monks.) Specializing in the church's other official prayer besides the Mass, the office: psalms, readings, hymns, and Gospel canticles. Through the Little Office, since the Middle Ages, devout Western laity "in the world" have been able in spirit to join them in prayer. Some, oblates/tertiaries, are extended parts of some communities. Oremus.

The Trumpening, and more

  • The Trumpening. The Trumps look like they'd make a great royal family. Ted Cruz is nice but we need a tough guy. Cruz isn't really foreign. (His mother was a citizen so it's constitutional.) What worries me is his wife's position at Goldman Sachs. (Killing the American dream: we're becoming the Third World, with a few very rich getting richer and the rest of us as peons, with imported foreign invaders as de facto "muscle" to use against us; no more middle class.) Then again I'm sure Trump has lots of connections like that. Still, Trump's massive popular support is good to see: America's still alive. If we're going to be ruled by a dictator or oligarchy, better one that actually cares about the country. (For our elite, there really are no more countries.) A banana-republic strongman would actually be a step up for us now. Trump doesn't lie to conservative Christians like me, promising to change everything we want (unlike the mainstream Republicans, smug that we have nowhere else to go but them). His persona promises to change things just enough to "make America great again," not necessarily objectively right but this was a great country; let's have it back.
  • Quote: Already, one of my online friends, an orthodox Christian conservative, has stated that it's about time for a caudillo to take over here. How many people are going in the same direction? Small-o orthodox Christian conservative online friend here. The church is apolitical; a caudillo is one of many options. (Franco and Sálazar weren't Hitler or Mussolini.) My first choice for America would have been to be humanely governed by Ron Paul's classical liberalism (in which, in theory, Catholics could co-exist with Protestants and social liberals; even flourish) but we were denied that. So at this point I would welcome a caudillo, our very own Constantine or Putin (his estranged Catholic country is spiritually reviving, more than I can say about America). This isn't a cause for canonization, and given Trump's liberal track record I don't entirely trust him; this could all be a show in which he's really working for the Clintons. He's wrong on culture-wars sexual stuff but seriously, what have the mainstream Republicans done for us in that department? They've only lied to and used us ("sure, we'll stop abortion any day now; vote for us, because who else do you have?"), and gotten us into stupid wars (Iraq) besides. Illegal immigration is theft, and the solution to the Muslim problem is don't invade, don't invite; nonviolence. (ISIS wants violent reprisal; the only way their behavior makes sense.) He'll do.
  • Didn't watch Mr. Obama's last SOTU, because mainstream politics is just kabuki anyway. As the old lefty Emma Goldman said, if elections changed anything, they wouldn't have them.
  • Bernie Sanders and his supporters may mean well but socialism doesn't work (they don't understand economics, or "free stuff" from the government isn't really free). Want "radical"? How about keeping your money and spending it on whatever you want as long as you don't hurt someone?
  • Because at least provisionally I believe in this country and the market, some serious conservative Christians think I'm one of the enemy, part of the problem, but they still have something to say: third-wayers, for example. The social reign of Christ the King, not individualism hurting others. And: They say that in France and several other parts of Europe that the only Catholicism set to survive the century is traditional Catholicism. I wonder: What sort will survive in the United States? America lacks the cultural fiber and communitarian ethos to give any form of traditional religiosity a fighting chance. There will always be pockets, but that’s all they will ever be. American Catholicism, no less than American Protestantism and Orthodoxy, is a bourgeois religion which lacks both an eschatological horizon and transcendent orientation. As I say, the church, still suffering from Vatican II, will bottom out in this country, ending up sound but small.
  • I hold that the proposed alterna-Catholicisms from Orthodoxy to Episcopalianism (unlike Catholic liberals, they love our culture, but on their terms) to vagante-ism have something to say: semi-congregationalism can be a hedge against Modernism, and in ecumenism, everything that's not doctrine should be on the table. Catholicism is not the personal cult of the Pope's opinions. He must obey just like we do.
  • I feel sorry for Fr. Kimel, a tortured soul who was an Episcopalian to begin with like me, touched down with us for a while, as a priest, then left the church for Byzantinocentrism (the "Orthodox Church"; tried that) where now, after his son's suicide, apparently, understandably, in his grief is preaching universalism (again, understandable appeal, with apocatastasis even appealing to justice but it would violate man's free will). I like St. Isaac the Syrian's idea that God's relentless, inescapable love is experienced as heaven by the good and hell by the evil. So I guess purgatory would be the warming sun of his love but on a cloudy day, and limbo, if it exists, is where you experience his warmth but none of his light.
  • Ryan Grant writes: Truth is not found in the middle; it is found in what can be proven from the sources of revelation, the Fathers and lastly an appeal to reason and logic, not by balancing extreme positions and going to the middle. That's what Newman figured out. In the Monophysite controversy, the Monophysites were the middle, not the church.
  • In part answering the hardline Orthodox: although we accept their tradition and their sacraments while they reject ours, here's my "hardline" view. There is no such thing as the Orthodox Church. There's the Orthodox tradition, which we fully accept. Sacramentally they are still a part of us, even though they don't want to be. (Like in the Civil War, when the Union flag kept the stars for the South.) But there is only one church. There is Catholicism, there are Catholic dioceses that are estranged from us and actually, because of cultural differences, have little to do with each other (that's them), there are Protestants, and there are non-Christians (no special privilege for Jews: the old covenant is finished). Maybe that non-churchness (their dioceses are sister churches of our dioceses, but collectively they are not a church) is why they haven't called a great council since the schism. Maybe they can't.
  • Quote: An Eastern Catholic priest once remarked to me that the controversy of Chalcedon and the disaffection of Alexandria was due mostly to nasty politics including nasty politics at Chalcedon itself and poor translations. IOW, they are not really Monophysites. It goes to misunderstandings of Person (Hypostasis) and Nature and a fear of Nestorianism by the erstwhile Monophysites. The Lesser Eastern Churches are an interesting case: estranged Catholics as the Orthodox are, or something like Mormons with holy orders? As far as I know the church has always recognized their orders (which is why converts from them are among the Eastern Catholics) and now, as you say, opinion is that these were misunderstandings so maybe they weren't really heretics. It may have been fallout from Byzantinocentrism: they weren't in the empire so they were considered as outside of the church just like we eventually were. But, like us and the Orthodox, Monophysites and Nestorians respectively claimed to be the true church; all the ancient churches do. (Reminds me of how in Jerusalem they don't get along.) Yet just like I say there's no such thing as the Orthodox Church (these are estranged Catholic dioceses; together they don't equal a church), there's really no such thing as the Monophysite ("Oriental Orthodox," which literally means the same thing as Eastern Orthodox) Church: national churches almost nothing to do with each other, even more so than the Orthodox. Copts and Armenians don't normally see each other, for example.
  • RIP David Bowie. And I was just marveling that he'd turned 69. Pop stars I consider modern are old; I don't know or care about the new ones, who are usually only names to me if that. He epitomized a stylish Nordic type, and as his famous Christmas duet with Bing Crosby showed, the man could sing. I like Steve Sailer's description of him as a professional English eccentric. He was one of modernity's victims and one of its promoters, wrong about many things, but he had a quality of great men: nobody owned him. He wasn't a knee-jerk liberal, for example, being fascinated by fascism (but that may have been just to shock). The Thin White Duke was no egalitarian. If anything, his business encourages virtuosity if not virtue.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Sex and violence traditionalism, men not going to church, and the value of acting like a church

  • Sex and violence traditionalism. Andy Nowicki of Alternative Right, from 2010. A valid point that needs repeating occasionally but I wonder just who he's criticizing. Thinking conservative Christians, certainly educated orthodox Catholics, know better. There's not just Flannery O'Connor and the Christian history of Western art but all the sex and violence in the Bible, always tempting to bowdlerlize (as if we're better than God; we can be better than the Israelites), certainly not self-interpreting. Christianity isn't the cult of niceness, of upper-middle-class decorum (political correctness, a ripoff of Christian ethics), etc. I can imagine there are a few well-meaning, naive, uneducated conservative American Christians who think all our art (including TV and movies) should be didactic or sentimental like the Hallmark Channel or "Touched by an Angel." (Educated Catholics know angels aren't feminine; speaking of the pure spirits, cherubim might be the inspiration for gargoyles, the winged babies being pagan Roman.) When your message comes first and your art second, the result stinks. There's valid criticism and then there's buying into the secular world's frame that conservative Christians are idiots.
  • Baptizing "masculinity": the real reason men don't go to church. From a year ago, by an evangelical. Evangelicalism, after all, is a weird, modern, mutant form of Christianity, much as it might like to pretend to be its definitive form. Yes but of course we don't stop there. The feminized religion the writer is accusing his camp of (men don't like sissy religion; they like a challenge, and condescending, shallow marketing to men will flop of course) is logical from Protestantism (even though many classical Protestants were intellectuals; heretics), dumping the church and its transforming grace (logically getting rid of the need to go to church, but that took some time to happen; norms lag behind values) for a feeling and the belief that you're unchanged, covered by Christ's substitutionary atonement (the snow-covered dungheap). Molly Worthen writes... evangelicals “are the children of estranged parents — Pietism and Enlightenment — but behave like orphans.” ... as if it were obvious that the essence of Christianity was the Pietist-style Bible study — a huddle of believers, each clutching their NIVs to their chests and sharing what a particular Psalm “means to me.” The corollary of this attitude, presumably, is that if we want to bring men (or, I suppose, less-people-oriented women) back into the Church, we need to teach them to be more relational. Is it really true that Christ built a Church only capable of appealing to a certain kind of person (mainly women)? That seems unlikely. Same thing that's wrong with Novus Ordo Catholicism as Thomas Day pointed out. A temptation for the very social, which many/most women are; it's a gift. The universal church reduced to your "set" (the "warm," the charming, with upper-middle-class manners, etc.). That's not the church.
  • Perhaps there is no real ordinariate "brand." A cranky Anglican writes of the American ordinariate: I look around and see that Incarnation, Orlando has Knights of Columbus and Monday night bingo, hardly elements of Anglican patrimony. St. Timothy's Catonsville has both male and female altar servers, a guitar-playing cantor who leads the singing up front with a mic, a versus populum celebration, and the general feel of a typical Ordinary Form Catholic mass, except that they use [The Book of Divine Worship]. Every mass is taped and posted on their Facebook page, so you can judge for yourself. Other places, like Bl. John Henry Newman, Irvine are of course of the lace cotta and fiddleback chasuble school. Of course I don't agree about Anglicanism but I see his point. That said, the church has many schools of spirituality and even theological opinion (not to be confused with doctrine) that don't necessarily get along (really, altar girls, after all you've been through?). As long as the doctrine and the text of the rite are sound, we're good; we're not tied down to any one rite or culture. As I've written before, the British ordinariate of course is theologically good but Novus Ordo (which they did when they were still Church of England, because they wanted to be Catholic) that happens to have married priests, but some people have or are reviving the panache of Tridentine Anglo-Papalism; that is, of Anglicans before Vatican II who really wanted to be Catholic (not Anglicanism's rival truth claim), but as a group. (In England you can find high churchmanship if you're looking for it.) I'm glad of course that in this description the lace cottas and fiddlebacks are in the "mix" but, besides married ex-Anglican priests, for which you don't need the ordinariates (there are such in the dioceses under the Pastoral Provision; if you're just going to be run-of-the-mill American Novus, you might as well not be in the ordinariate), I think Pope Benedict wanted the American ordinariate to continue in its non-Sixties, good old-fashioned Anglo-Catholic liturgical roots, hence the new missal now that's at least slightly less Novus than the Anglican Use was. (A showplace for my point that traditional Roman Rite Catholicism doesn't have to be in Latin, although I value Latin as a template and world second language, besides for its beauty.) There seems to be a lot of dancing around, but not quite getting, the idea that maybe you can evangelize lots of people simply by acting like a church. Oh, yes. It doesn't have to be the conservative part of the American ordinariate's way, but that way is definitely a part of it and very welcome here. My parish doesn't use the Prayer Book (and that's fine with me, but people who want a catholicized Prayer Book text should have one and do): 10 years ago Fr. James Mayer decided to make it act like a church; the resemblance flows from that.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Does Catholic vs. Protestant still matter? And more

  • Yesterday's Mass: Puer natus est nobis. The octave day of Christmas, the feast of the Circumcision, linking the old and the new covenants (passing the baton) as Jesus submits to a Mosaic law and anticipates his sacrifice. (The shortest gospel reading of the year!) Just a nice coincidence with the change of the civil year, which of course has no theological meaning so it isn't commemorated. And of course in church Christmas isn't over, ending with the Epiphany Jan. 6 and with the season tapering off until the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (another Mosaic law) Feb. 2. The music at Mater Ecclesiae is less Anglican than at my parish. Happy 2016! There is actually a theological meaning with the New Year. The naming of our Lord was seen as the proclamation of his kingship, hence "Year of Our Lord" as a way of dating things from the accession of the reigning sovereign. (For the same reason, in some places the year began on March 25, as the actual date of the Incarnation.)
  • First Things' James Nuechterlein from 1994: Some of my best friends. The main conflict within the church is no longer between Protestants and Catholics, but between orthodox Christians and religious liberals. This ecumenism is restorationist, and the "mere-ness" of its mere Christianity is credal seriousness. Sure, there's a common cause and a common enemy but Catholic vs. Protestant still matters. Visible, infallible church or not? (The Pope's just a subset of that. Liberal Anglicans: the church is great and lots of fun — all that history, all those ideas, all that ceremonial — but fallible; I want what I want and can rationalize it.) Salvation: transforming grace or just covering up your sins? How do ministers share in Christ's priesthood? Christ's sacrifice on the altar or memorial meal? Sacraments: ex opere operato (actually doing what they signify) or just tokens of a felt faith (example: baptismal regeneration)? Are we allowed to talk to the saints? Is this proposal just our close cousin, traditional Lutheranism (as Mr. Nuechterlein notes, they have to remind themselves why they're not Catholic), repackaged?
  • Have church your way: the high cost of the worship wars. A low-church Protestant arguing to give liturgical worship a chance. Good points of course. One thing struck me: how the disparaging description of the traditional service is becoming less and less true in the American Catholic Church. When the liberals won at Vatican II, there was no mercy: Roman Rite Catholics weren't given a "Rite I" option as the Episcopalians say. Everybody was forced to modernize. People who fled to unofficial Tridentine Masses or conservative parishes were dismissed as old, soon to die. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the supposed new Pentecost. (What? The Holy Spirit didn't take, in Acts? Might as well sin and stay home.) The liberals started to die off; the kids either left (lots of them) or gravitated toward the old, which is slowly happening now. Anyway, this good point about unity, etc. is why the church historically didn't write new services (until the Novus Ordo); rather, passing down the old ones through the generations with tiny changes here and there.
  • Evangelicalism: "Your excellent worship music isn't." Thomas Day has explained this for us, regarding real liturgical music vs. dopey pseudo-folk that's really devotional stuff for soloists. There's the Novus Ordo Catholic version of the "worship" music legends in their minds, the arm-waving cantor, miked up, blasting the church with his or her solo stylings, with feeling. Which I rarely hear as I'm not Novus. You can have both professional musicianship that aids worship rather than hijacking it — organ music, polyphony — AND good singable hymns such as many Protestant classics. "American Christianity is all about spirituality by proxy." Many/most people aren't that religious. When you have a universal faith, a universal church, where all really are welcome, you will always have some of this. Otherwise you try for the warm, cozy circle of only the "spiritual" people you like, and that isn't Christianity. "Liturgy" doesn't mean "the work of the people"; it means "the public service" owed to God. Congregational responses are nice but not necessary. Typical American Catholic congregations don't sing and never will. One of Day's points as a musicologist is you don't want to demonize professional musicians the way many Vatican II Catholic churchmen do. "That's elitist, that's snobbish; let's have music of the people!" And use that as an excuse to have music in church that's crap. John Michael Talbot: "Don't inflict your mediocrity on the church." A reason why the Catholic Church usually doesn't write whole new services and sticks to tried-and-true liturgical music. It's not any one person's show. Certainly not the priest's; he's rightly fenced in by text and rubrics.
  • Mystagogy: The heretical icon of the "Holy Family." Typical Orthodox anti-Catholic crap. Can't believe I tried to buy that 20 years ago; I really snapped out of it early on. The church knows jolly well St. Joseph isn't Jesus' father but is not so heartless as to virtually cut him from the story. To be fair, there's education and respecting the symbolism of the rite, a pitfall for some Roman Riters who try to use Byzantine iconography; the late Archimandrite Serge (Keleher), a Catholic, was against these Holy Family icons. (Compare Catholicism's generosity to the Eastern rites to Orthodoxy's crabbed approach to the Roman.) Always a danger with cultural appropriation. One artist painted a Roman Rite church for an American Indian tribe in that tribe's artistic style, ignorant of the fact that painting Mary inside a certain circle basically was calling her a whore. That kind of thing.