Monday, December 18, 2017

Good soldiers caught in the middle: the story of a lay apostle

William C. Peffley, Jr. “Bill,” of Norristown, passed away on Tuesday, January 31, 2017...
The story of an apostolate and the decline and fall of American community life. Yesterday at my parish's monthly coffee hour in the undercroft I was reminded we have a praesidium (local ward) of the Legion of Mary, a lay devotional/pious-works society from 1920s Ireland, part of "Catholic Action." The lady at their info table and I (slightly) knew the Peffley family, fervent Legionaries who run "The Catholic Shop" in Montgomery County's now-decrepit seat, Norristown. (The King of Prussia Mall sucked the life out of that city, turning it into a ghetto.) I was last at the shop in 2011. She told me that patriarch Bill Peffley died about a year ago and the shop is being phased out, to continue online; for one thing, Norristown doesn't really have a Catholic community anymore.

In the '80s Bill and Mary Peffley were the kind of good Catholics who, disappointing to me, went along with the changes at Vatican II, but they did not compromise on our teachings. (Obedience and being laid back about nonessentials are good, and I had few role models for the latter, but liberal church folks, don't force your un-Catholic agenda on me, especially at my most vulnerable, trying to pray or even confess my sins. Follow our teachings and leave me alone, or join another religion. This is why I go to traditional services almost exclusively; it's not religious entertainment or an ego trip.) It's a big church with many callings: some are called to fight for the old ways, like the saintly Archbishop Lefebvre, with public displays of faith; others, like Opus Dei working low-profile, almost undercover, in the big, bad business and political worlds, do very different but equally good work. Good layfolk like the Peffleys and good parish priests like the late Msgr. James Murray who formed me in New Jersey, old soldiers for Christ, were caught in the middle, doing the best they thought they could. Traditional devotions were the only pre-Vatican II practices they were still allowed in church, frustrating to me because as I now understand, by themselves or mixed with services by liberals, they're a poor substitute for a traditional Mass and office.

Anyway, well done, good and faithful servant. There are legions of Bill Peffleys in heaven.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Why learn about alterna-Catholicisms?

Alternative ways of doing Catholicism fascinate me even when they're not right; in things outside of doctrine and jurisdiction they teach us a thing or two. Part of this fascination comes from the horror show that was the American Catholic Church when I came into it, in the 1980s, when it was protestantized and Modernist; American Protestants seemed to have got their wish of neutering the country's big Catholic minority, turning us into another denomination. Suppose you're in a parish and diocese that are train wrecks but there's a good-hearted bishop or priest with a pretty house church and holds more of the articles of the faith than the real Catholics do. People in those situations talking themselves into Anglo-Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, or one of the "independent" (vagante) churches are not right but it's very understandable. (Part of the problem is then the diocese for example can throw it in your face, pushing their heresy under the cover of "being in good standing with the church"; Archbishop Lefebvre once remarked on that.) Anyway, being under your lawful bishop, that is, in the one true church, is high church/Catholicism 101; Catholics can't go to the uncanonical (some traditionalist groups are not canonical but scrupulously not separate churches in principle), Orthodox, or independent priests unless it's an emergency and no priest in good standing is available.

To be fair, the Orthodox don't quite encourage that; they insist they are a different faith, not Catholicism under different management. They want you to convert, but to really convert. A few years back a loud woman online announced her intent to convert with her fingers crossed because she wanted to commune at the local Orthodox parish and there was no local Byzantine Catholic one, a reprehensible thing to do unfair to both churches (ecumenically bad because it tells the Orthodox not to trust us). I pointed that out and predictably got a lot of guff. Her will be done, I guess.

The lesson of ACROD for us: practices not to do with our teachings are good enough for both Slovakia and America.

The Episcopalians have a point: congregational loyalty (strong local community and a hedge against liberalism) and they love high churchmanship and credal orthodoxy, unlike Catholic liberals. Growing up with them is a big reason I'm not Novus Ordo, so, although we will never agree, thanks.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Two wrong extremes when talking about the Orthodox

I've probably rehashed this a few times but here it is (again).

Two mistakes for us Catholics to avoid when talking to and about the Orthodox.

  • Zoghby's branch theory: "We're both the church; it doesn't matter which side you join." From the late Melkite Archbishop Elias' (Zoghby) "All Schismatics?" approach, a distortion of our teachings, which 1) recognize Orthodox holy orders and thus their Eucharist (so in a sense everybody with real bishops is still part of the great Catholic family; our "branch theory") and 2) give never-Catholic Orthodox the benefit of the doubt. Some convert Byzantine Catholics, in love with the rite and the spirituality, both good, use this as an excuse to leave the church when their parishes' or dioceses' practice isn't Byzantine enough for them. (Thinking Byzantium is the whole church is a trap, the error of the Orthodox.) His indifferentism is as un-Orthodox, offensive to them ("ecumenist" is an insult to many of them), as it is un-Catholic. Logically, it would mean there is no church, at least none worth taking seriously (why most people don't go to mainline Protestant churches anymore). Long story short with the Melkites: Elya's right and Zoghby was wrong.
  • "No, Byzantine Catholics don’t worship like the Orthodox; the Orthodox worship like them/us!" Every ancient church, such as ours, claims it's the only true one but I would never say something this chauvinistic. The fact of one true church means normally only Catholic bishops and priests have "jurisdiction," meaning authority over a diocese and the power to grant absolution or solemnize marriages (in an emergency any priest, including Orthodox and laicized, is given jurisdiction; then, Catholics should ask them for the sacraments if no active Catholic priest is around), so strictly speaking, to us Orthodox and Anglican bishops are Msgr. Demetrios and Mr. Curry, for example. (Monsignor because that's not only for certain priests; it's also a title for a bishop without diocesan authority, including Catholic ones; also common European usage for bishops.) But people acting in good faith, that is, who aren't ex-Catholics, again, get the benefit of the doubt so using their titles isn't that bad. (Why I call Anglican priests Father; I'm not being disingenuous.) Anyway, the trouble with this well-meant statement by a Catholic (it was said to me 25 years ago) is it tells the Orthodox wrongly that we believe the practices of all Byzantine Catholics are perfect because they're Catholics so we want to change the Orthodox to be just like them. An understandable misunderstanding! No, we recognize that the Orthodox are the vast majority of Byzantine Christians (it would be stupid to think and act otherwise) and for us the Orthodox set the standard for the rite's liturgical practice. (St. Pius X officially founding the Russian Catholic Church: nec plus, nec minus, nec aliter, not more, nor less, nor other than the Russian Orthodox Church's practices.) Byzantine Catholics often latinized themselves centuries ago, which was not our original plan for them. We only tolerate that; we don't promote it.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Byzantine Catholics and the word "Orthodox"

Reclaiming Orthodoxy.

Yes, but. One thing I like about my part-time home, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, is in English it's not afraid of the term Orthodox. See the quotation below. I'd embrace what Fr. James Siemens and indeed Metropolitan Sviatoslav are saying except: 1) the Orthodox don't accept it and I don't want to be accused of lying, 2) the great majority of Slavic Byzantine Catholics don't think like this or talk this way (my part-time parish is typical in this regard) — many of the ones actually from Eastern Europe went to great lengths to remain in the church so don't even appear to stab them in the back, and 3) it seems to me that most of the Catholics who do this use it as a cover to attack our teachings: the National “Catholic” Reporter/Call to Action with a cool traditional liturgy; pseudo-Eastern Episcopalians. Most of them are obviously on their way out of the church and trying to take others with them. (They actually told me not to return to the church.) Byzantine Catholicism has much potential as a conservative, that is, authentic Catholicism "outside the box," without some Western cultural assumptions getting in the way (yes, you can have clerical marriage and be traditional); I hate seeing it perverted like that. (A problem I don't know how to solve: in America both they and the Orthodox are slowly dying out.) Don't get me wrong: I'm hip to describing Catholicism all in Orthodox terms, part of Byzantine Catholics' calling, even though, again, most Slavic Byzantine Catholics aren't interested in that.
May the Lord God remember in His kingdom our holy universal Supreme Pontiff N . . ., the Pope of Rome, our most reverend Archbishop and Metropolitan N . . ., our God-loving Bishop N . . ., and the entire priestly, diaconal, and monastic order, our civil authorities, and all our armed forces, the noble and ever memorable founders and benefactors of this holy Church, (our suffering brethren,) and all you orthodox Christians, always, now and ever, and forever.

— From the Great Entrance in the Divine Liturgy

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

What would a real Western Orthodoxy look like?

What would a real Western Orthodoxy look like?

Forgive me if I've covered this before. My latest big post made it past moderation at oh-see dot net. All Western Rite Orthodox end up mimicking the Byzantine Rite (the sound of a score of hammers hastily hanging up Byzantine icons, for example), the mirror of self-latinizations by Byzantine Catholics. It disrespects perfectly good rites and hurts your witness. My challenge: come up with a form of church that's entirely in harmony with the Orthodox ethos but all Western. The answer of course is an early medieval look and feel, a lot like non-Romanizing High Anglicans but only using the traditional Roman Rite minus the filioque (which, to be fair, wasn't originally there). A brand distinct from post-schism Rome.

Oddly the Orthodox are even more accepting of the Book of Common Prayer than we are; I guess they think they and the Anglicans share a common enemy, us. (We're the church worth getting mad at!) Over the past century they've always been friendlier with the Anglicans than with us.

The reactions reveal why Western Rite Orthodoxy after a century and a quarter has never lasted beyond the converts. The online Orthodox (mostly converts) are so anti-Western they attack the word "Mass." They defend the self-byzantinization (I'm convinced this stuff appeals to outsiders who mainly want a new identity, like "transgenders") since we're heretics so we deserve it. Talk about going where you're not wanted! And for all its problems and ill treatment, Byzantine Catholicism is centuries-old real communities.

Why do I bother with this board? I'm not interested in leaving the church! Because these alternative ways of doing Catholicism fascinate me. In everything that's not doctrine, they can teach us a thing or two. I liked the challenge of illustrating what I believe is a kind of Catholic spirituality, one of many.

Given the trouble brewing in Western society this will probably be my last post for the foreseeable future and possibly ever.

The blessing of the Lord!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

A Loyalist on the Fourth

Legally on July 4, 1776, nothing happened except some Americans committed sedition. Until Sept. 3, 1783, this remained our lawful flag and George III our King.

Since the Crown conceded our independence at the Treaty of Paris, and, since World War II, the capital of the empire is really Washington, not Westminster anymore, the question's moot. Still, our country's government was conceived in sin. In contrast:

The (Anglo-) Catholic vision of society people from the American transplant T.S. Eliot to my late rector, a Londoner who served in the Royal Navy twice (a rating during World War II and a chaplain in the 1960s), believed in.

After Mass this past Sunday our bells rang a familiar tune. I stopped, took off my hat, and sang. Really. "God save our gracious Queen..." Somewhere in the beyond my late rector smiled.

John Adams' claim that the people are “the Source of all Authority and Origin of all Power” is rubbish.

The American rebellion: Parliament wanted the colonists to help pay for the army's protection in the Seven Years'/French and Indian War (that was expensive!) and some of the colonists acted like brats about it; in New England, for example. Royal France supported the non-believer American rebel leaders to get back at Britain/settle a score after the French and Indian War (the second Treaty of Paris was payback for the first) and look what happened to it. Actions have consequences. The French Revolution was far more wicked than the American (because Catholic societies go for extremes: holiness and evil in the same culture; Protestants are lukewarm) but the same principles were at work. Louis XVI was not at all a bad man. He was doing his duty to benefit France. But the end doesn't justify the means as the church teaches.

"Contemporary Britain is a mess." I know. I was there. It's long puzzled me. On paper it should be the Burkean high-Anglican place T.S. Eliot believed in.

People think because I'm Catholic I should have an IRA poster on one wall and Taras Shevchenko's portrait and the tryzub on another. Stuff that for a lark. I'm pro-British and pro-Russian... because I'm Catholic.

Disclaimer: my opinion; I'm not claiming to speak for the magisterium. We can have different political opinions; it's not doctrine. That said, revolutionary republicanism, American, Irish, and Ukrainian, is un-Catholic. Historically, the popes wanted to reconcile the kings (tsar) to the church and then everything else in those countries would have fallen into place.

Believing we, already in the Anglosphere, should be a British/Commonwealth country doesn't mean I don't like my people or area; I like them as much as the next person does his. Sure, I go to local Fourth of July parades; they're really about local pride and good people. Things we still would have had if politics had gone the right way. It's not necessarily about being pretentious/affected, wishing one were in or from the UK. Without the rebellion we still would have had our own identity (including accents: English sounded different around 1600 when North America was colonized), but one that was British too, a lot like Australia.

The American people are wonderful, still, more God-fearing than Europe. The American republic, embodied by Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, and a few others, has much going for it; functionally it created a good refuge for the church. The point here is our country was conceived in sin. Not so the mother country, for all its problems. It has an indelible mark on its soul, having been consecrated through the Catholic Church about 1,400 years ago. Even the flag still has Christ's cross in his blood.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Married Roman Rite priests? Sure, but...

Pope Francis has begun exploring the possibility of ordaining married men as priests to make up for a serious shortage in the church.
Fine with me but 1) some of those already ordained would be envious because they still may not marry*, 2) honestly, how many American Roman Riters would pony up to support a priest's wife and kids?, and 3) Roman Rite bishops like their priests to be like soldiers, easy to move around. Can't do that as easily with a wife and kids.

Of course we've been ordaining the married for centuries; the Roman Rite, which most Catholics belong to, doesn't but that's just a rule.

And married priests aren't a cure for the vocations shortage. Mostly, none of us has a big pool to recruit from anymore. With a population shrinking faster than the Roman Rite's, the Eastern churches in America don't get many either. Mainline Protestants, including the Catholic-ish Episcopalians and ELCA Lutherans, marry the ordained and ordain practicing homosexuals and women, and they're cratering.

Nearly no real apostolic churches marry the ordained (the little and shrinking Polish National Catholic Church in America does; they're a weird mix of Polish customs and old American Masonic liberalism); it's just a rule but not one to be changed lightly. (Orthodox bishops are celibate; they're usually technically monks.)

Photo: Yes, the cathedral of the archdiocese of my part-time parish has long had married priests from the Ukraine since the fall of Communism brought some immigration.

By the way, the church protects the Eastern rites by not letting men switch rites and canonical churches just to get married during seminary.

I understand that America has more married ex-Anglican priests, who are few, than married Byzantine Rite ones. One of those ironies, like how there are more Roman Riters in Greece and Russia than Byzantine Catholics.

*This caused two schisms in America that are essentially our fault. It's why Roman Rite clergy here treated Slavic Greek Catholics badly so one group of the latter left for the Russian Orthodox (what's now the OCA) over 100 years ago and another went to the Greek Orthodox nearly 80 years ago. (Still, if you think the church is only the East, I feel sorry for you.) The church can set and change rules; it decided to ban ordaining the married in North America for the Byzantine Rite. The Ruthenian bishop here opposed that ban and appealed to Rome but was overruled; many Ruthenian-American Catholics wrongly blamed him. Some say the ban no longer is in force, which again would be fine with me.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Why no to altar girls

My daughter received her First Communion this spring. At our parish today, it was mentioned that a lot of children will be moving this summer who have been altar servers and that the church was in need of volunteers for this. My daughter immediately turned to me and said she wanted to serve. I was so proud of her enthusiasm, but I was hesitant to say yes. As an adult convert, I don't know much about girls serving at the altar. I do know that pre-Vatican II it was reserved only for boys and young men as a precursor for the possible joining of the seminary. I am looking for a bit of knowledge on this since I am not well versed.
The church says you may do it in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which most Catholics use, but I hope you don't. Here's why not. Historically, altar servers were stand-ins for clergy, who of course are only men. I call altar boys JROTC for priests; recruiting for vocations as you mentioned. Having altar girls 1) sets girls up to be hurt because we can't ordain them (it's not that we won't; we can't), 2) drives away boys, who need and look for, yes, "male bonding" (partly why gangs exist), and 3) is an attempt by heretics to soft-sell women's ordination, which insults me because I left the Episcopal Church. This change happened under John Paul II; a reason I have no devotion to him. By the way, there is no big movement among Catholics to ordain women, because in our hearts we know we can't.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fátima centenary

Regular readers know I'm mostly simply Catholic, not extreme or exotic; the traditional Mass is historically "mainstream." So I'm not particularly Marian. She's the Mother of God; everything else is commentary. (Our other doctrines about her? True of course, but commentary on the gospel. Good scholastic logic, and an Eastern legend that turned out to tell more of the truth about the Incarnation.) Devotions are good but they're not a substitute for the basics of the gospel and creeds, the traditional Mass, and the office. "Jesus is the reason": he saves; Mary prays.

Good Catholics' longtime enemies at NCR had a point in a 2010 blog post: A tale of two Fátimas. Of course filter out the swipes at conservative Catholics (and, implicitly, simply good, orthodox Catholics), but sometimes our people, meaning well, lose the plot. (Isn't that always the way with sin?)
A gentle devotion focused on Mary’s appearances to three illiterate shepherd children, an icon of God’s special favor for the simple ones of the earth.
Indeed. But doesn't that include the "simple ones" NCR looks down on, who simply want the traditional faith back in the parishes? Anyway, yes, that's the seeming paradox of the Christian message. In Our Lady's words, among her few recorded ones, Luke 1:46—55:
My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations. He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away. He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.
A message that sometimes got lost in the Cold War saber-rattling. That said, pacifism isn't really Christian. We have a duty to defend each other. So, yes, bless our armed forces, as the Byzantine Liturgy I attend monthly (about as anti-NCR as you can get but this is ignored or patronized, maybe because it looks ecumenical) prays in the Litany of Peace. God uses the humble to confound worldly might, but he uses peace through strength too. So, sorry, NCR, I'm not throwing away my traditional missal (in contrast, the Episcopalians love our customs; what's your problem?), turning on gun owners, or fetishizing the Third World. More important, the actual doctrine of the church isn't up for a vote nor does it chase trends. (Trend-chasing empties churches anyway. Witness the mainline and now ourselves.)

Private revelation has a strange place in the church. It's often misunderstood. The bishop approves or not, and is reluctant to do so; we're not out to rip people off, as the Protestants with their televangelists accuse. (The Bishop of Leiria didn't approve Fátima until 1930.) Approval only means is it isn't heretical and isn't a hoax. Even though you can name churches after these and have parish and diocesan pilgrimages to the places, etc., you don't have to believe in it. It's not doctrine; strictly speaking, not part of the Catholic faith.

For all his un-traditional showboating, I give Fr. Gruner credit: he reported problems with church life that needed reporting and that few else dared to, and he reached "simple people" who don't read theological tomes. Using the simple.
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Answering neocaths on Paul VI, and our own convert boomlet

  • "In defense of Blessed Paul VI, he promulgated Humanae Vitae, which most of the world still knows nothing about." All that means is the church is infallible and papal infallibility is a part of that. Paul VI, one of the worst Popes, did his job, not necessarily heroic. The world knows and hates that the church is just about the only remaining opponent of artificial birth control. The sexual issues the world thinks are Catholic are really generally Christian; 100 years ago the Orthodox and the Protestants still agreed with the church on these. (Over 80 years ago the King, Edward VIII, had to step down because he wanted to marry a divorcée.) I don't like the trend of turning canonization into a politically motivated posthumous honors system for Popes. People starting to question Vatican II? Canonize John XXIII; that'll shut them up. That sort of thing. I don't have a lick of devotion to Paul VI or John Paul II. I don't have to. John XXIII was a big-hearted Italian and not the liberal he's made out to be. The real Pope John: step up Latin in seminaries and don't ordain homosexuals.
  • Our own convert boomlet: An Assemblies of God minister and much of his congregation (not all; the headline is wrong) come into the church through the Ruthenian metropolia in America. Glory be to God (слава Богу)! Eastern Christianity is endangered in America because of assimilation (my part-time parish is a merger); great to see some pushback, and in the church for a change.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

It's tough being a would-be prophet

30 years ago a slightly liberal middle-aged priest said to me, "By the time you're in your 50s the church will be completely different." I'm in my 50s. Thanks to these fellows my archdiocese has fewer people and less money so fewer parishes and fewer schools. Vocations have cratered. But the remaining Catholics are closer to Catholicism, more conservative; on Sunday mornings I go to a Tridentine Mass in an official parish. So he was right but not as he wanted. That often happens. (Witness retro-futurism.)

These men likely imagined something like a heretical version of the Catholic Worker (Dorothy Day theologically was as sound as a pound), with "Christian communities" of enthusiastic laity gathering at house churches with male and female "presiders" for the Eucharist, replacing the old parishes and other Catholic institutions (schools, convents, etc.), then going out into the world to do good works such as helping the poor. "Intentional communities," well meant but not really Catholic.

Jesus did found a church. Don't settle for made-up imitations.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dominica secunda post Pascha

  • Mass: Misericordia Domini plena est terra. Ego sum pastor bonus: et cognosco meas, et cognoscunt me meae. Pictured: Vidi Aquam before Sung Mass. Fond memories of Good Shepherd, Rosemont, an authentic Gothic Revival fantasy I visited on and off from 1985 until 2010; in name outside the church but with us in spirit. Most of its parishioners are now in fact Catholic, in the ordinariate of course worshipping somewhere else. Some are with me at Our Lady of Lourdes. The Episcopalians still have the old building; that's their business.
  • Today the Anglican missals revert to Cranmer's collect and readings, here still based on ours but he threw in his tuppence; here not a problem doctrinally but ecclesiologically. He had no authority to do that. I've come to the idea that there was no such thing as "liturgical studies" until at least the 1800s. Historically, the church East (its many rites) and West consciously changed things very little; just an occasional edit, which is what St. Pius V was doing with Quo Primum. Things did change, and interestingly scholars say the Byzantine Rite changed a lot, but it was like "whisper down the lane," not intentional. Good thing the church is infallible and indefectible. Clergy didn't dare rewrite services lest they take out something essential, depriving the people of the grace of the Mass. Anyway, the Protestants didn't have the historical knowledge to edit services to some pristine patristic form either. Cranmer used some things he liked (such as the Collect for Purity that's part of the priest's prep in the Roman Missal) and wrote the rest, based on his imagination and his made-up theology (Reformed, Bucerian). By the way, was the last big organic change to the Roman Rite (not the Novus Ordo rewrite, unprecedented), the merging of the old terse Roman (as you can hear in the oldest collects) and the more flowery Gallican rites (an indirect Eastern influence on the Roman Rite) to make the Roman Rite as I know it, conscious (an editing job) or gradual?
  • Actual English translation.
  • Moment before Mass: A sound to please American anglophiles' ears. The organ prelude, first time I've heard it used for one, was "Rondeau," best known as the theme music of PBS's old "Masterpiece Theatre." We're not re-enactors (although in many ways I am one); more like Corpus Christi, Manhattan 60 years ago than many/most other American parishes. If it's Anglican but it's orthodox and it's good, we use it!
  • My Easter duty. The church requires us to receive Communion at Eastertide because medieval people rarely received. Not ideal but better than receiving unworthily (deeds that are grave matter on your conscience, without absolution after auricular confession). This week the kindly Capuchin friars downtown put up with hearing my nonsense in the box yet again so I was at the rail today. The only part of the formula I could really hear Fr. McKale say was " vitam aeternam. Amen." Byzantine Rite prayers at home afterwards. It's all good. On that note, here's a true story of Alfred Hitchcock resuming the practice of the faith. 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.
  • An ecumenical moment: Down the street from us is an Episcopal church. Dating back to when the neighborhood was monied, it was the Memorial Church of St. Paul, which I guess has been suppressed as St. Thomas African Episcopal Church (not to be confused with A.M.E. although their founders once worked together as Methodists) moved in some time ago. My guess is it's the church home of British Caribbean blacks. Anyway, as I was walking by, taking some time before Mass, I saw some cassocked priests, including I imagine the father rector as he was wearing a mozetta (shoulder cape), which I think is an insignia of rank, just like my late Anglo-Catholic rector. Unlike Catholic liberals, Episcopalians now love our customs. That's great.
  • The century-old Presbyterian church on 65th Street that burned up last summer, looking like a blitzed cathedral on my way to and from Mass, is being torn down. Sad. Its name was Good Shepherd.
  • Why I like reading Vespers of Our Lady on the commuter train home during the week using my Anglo-Catholic Prayer Book, including Athelstan Riley's translation of Ave, Maris Stella, the hymn, which I learned in England: hearing these offices sung to Gregorian chant at St. Clement's, Philadelphia for years. (Sunday Vespers, standard Catholic parish practice before radio, the movies, and TV.) Good music is like praying twice; it's reinforcing because it uses a part of the brain not used otherwise. Why "Schoolhouse Rock" works. I know someone who can't remember spoken prayers but has no problem with song lyrics.
  • Fred Reed: The place of Christianity in history: A view from without.
  • Stay tuned: I will have a post for the centenary of Fátima.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Manosphere/MGTOW realtalk

  • Red-pill date (the making of a MGTOW): If fashionable white girls were honest, including about their contradictory views. One of those strange computer-generated cartoons with computer voices (the animation won't win an Oscar); slow going at first (reminds me of human-resources video lectures: social situations with people who can't act, scripted by Martians) but worth sticking around to listen to the whole thing.
  • You may be a good dude, but here's why you're single. Lefty Cracked is still worth looking at because it's not lockstep. It's at its best when it doesn't preach, just presenting obscure history and news (how I learned about Tesla; Edison was a cheat). Of course I'm not knocking love, but it's elementary as Holmes said: God made women to want strong men to take care of them (lefty women: through the government; transfer payments), and a clingy guy is weak.
  • Château Heartiste (Roissy): Female privilege and non-white privilege. If I had my Spanish family name maybe I could ride the self-pity train ("Somebody was slightly rude to me! Hate criiiiime!") to perks too. Black lesbians? "Conceived, conceived, conceived immaculate." Seriously, it's all a ripoff of Christian ethics. ("Hate crime" is thoughtcrime.)
  • Nobody asked me but: This "transgender" hype is gaslighting, the "powers that be" using the fraction of a percent of people with this problem (often profoundly unhappy, even after the quack treatment of hormones and surgery; I was raised not to pick on people with problems) to control the masses by messing with their perception of reality.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Being a good Catholic neighbor in Orthodox countries

Some time ago the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (my part-time church home) moved its headquarters from its historic base in L'vov (Lemberg) to Kiev, its original base when most of the bishops in the Ukraine and Byelorussia converted in 1596. (And yes, in English it's "the Ukraine"; deal with it.) The cathedral is modern, not my favorite style but OK. Of course I'd love it if the UGCC were the Ukraine's national church but that's not likely. Best to be both honest and ecumenical, being the best Christians you can be in your Galician homeland while, remembering the persecution under Soviet rule, being a good neighbor, the golden rule and all that, with the rest of the country's Orthodox majority of churchgoers (most Ukrainians don't go to church). We are not trying to break up families, parishes, and dioceses. Our goal is to bring all the Orthodox back at the same time, starting with the bishops. So while we accept individual conversions, we're not actively seeking them.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dominica in Albis/Antipascha

  • Low Sunday.
  • Some social history and impressions regarding the church.
    • The rise and fall of Ruthenian-American Catholicism. "Greek Catholic" refers to the "Greek" Byzantine Rite of East Slavic (most notably the Russians) Orthodox and East Slavic Catholics, not Greece or ethnic Greeks. The members of my Ukrainian part-time parish tell similar stories.
    • Longtime religious blogger and high churchman Huw Richardson is now Catholic. His impression regarding it all: "The Catholic Church: here comes everybody."
    • "The Rrrromans." SPQR, "lend me your ears," and all that. When I was Anglican I understood "Roman" from Anglicans (for example, "the Roman Church") to mean "hey, we're Catholic too." Later I learned it can also be a Protestant putdown: "the dago mission to the paddies," etc. Throw in political correctness and you get something like the Black Legend of Spain vs. enlightened women clergy and gay marriage, a kind of rival true-church claim rather like classic Anglicanism's at least implied one. Like the American ordinariate, Anglican English is still my religious English and I am Roman Catholic in every sense. You sometimes get this "the Romans" business from zealous convert Byzantine Catholics too, with similar problems; they start sounding like they're not Catholic because in fact they are on their way out of the church to Orthodoxy. Born Byzantine Catholics don't do that; they're Catholic and that's that. I like worshipping with them.
  • Hogwash 101. Steve Sailer keeps noticing things. The law of God is written in the heart of every man. Don't pay so much attention to what liberals say; watch what they do. They preach egalitarianism and anti-Westernism (a distortion of Christian humility: mea culpa, etc.) but under the "safe" disguise of fantasy they love (even obsess about) children's fiction about a tradition-laden, even medieval institution, a boarding school in our mother country, and even "good breeding" (a natural elite vs. "muggles"). The same way they love their ivy-laden colleges in real life.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Online vs. real American Eastern Christianity

The Web version of American Eastern Christianity: Eastern Orthodoxy is getting more "diverse," a Good Thing™, with converts by the parishload, happy all-American young families, lots of prayer ropes and saying the Jesus Prayer, and every parishioner having a spiritual father. And not Catholic; "we're a completely different faith." Byzantine Catholics, likewise "diverse," are semi-closeted Eastern Orthodox, angsty because they're torn between two churches like being in the middle of a divorce. "Praxis! Phronema! We're not like those loser traditionalists and their Latin Mass! Don't force your Latin doctrines on us!"

More like the reality on both sides: ethnic Catholics, most of them estranged from us (in schism); nationalistic/ethnocentric; losing the kids and grandkids like crazy to assimilation. It usually fails in three generations. Small and getting smaller.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A religion and realtalk sampler

"Linker" posts are passé thanks to Mark Zuckerberg's wildly successful site but anyway.
  • From 2013: A sociologist on the "Latin Mass." An honest one who apparently didn't believe in the traditional Catholic faith but wasn't biased against us either, actually listening to people. (I like sociology, my favorite one-off college course.) Quotations that don't necessarily reflect our teachings but come from the heart; impressions. Like folk religion. I use quotation marks in the title because Catholic traditionalism is not about Latin.
  • Fr. Longenecker: Fideism R Us. An understandable mistake but it's relativism. Catholicism, yes, belief in the usually invisible God but also a God-man, is grounded in reality.
  • Takimag: David Cole gets real about the Jewish question. A lot of Jews don't like Christians but blaming them for your problems is like blacks blaming whites for all of theirs.
  • Château Heartiste: The myth of the hottie bitch. I admit I fell for that one: original sin would make an entitled girl insufferable. The counter-argument: if you're attractive, the world loves you so you think the world is loving. So hot girls are actually more likely to be polite, turning down an invitation (to a date, etc.): "No, thank you." The good old-fashioned way. As with social class, the rudest girls are the ones insecure about their status/attractiveness (like middle-class snobs) so they resent approaches from men they imagine are beneath them. (That and hypergamy or assortative mating; take your pick.)
  • Face to Face: The violent left and the deep state are now indistinguishable. The sedition against the president speaks well of him. Almost worth it to see the left agree with George Wallace on states' rights. A possible difference between the headline-grabbing, street-theater left and the deep state: the former, the anti-gun folks, don't really know how to fight (but watch out for Weather Underground–style terrorism); the latter has real power so it's a threat.
  • By the way, I haven't dropped one of the two consistent things about this blog and myself since I started blogging nearly 15 years ago (really getting started 14 years ago): high church (Catholic again long before circumstances allowed me to come clean that I was Catholic again) and the "America First" message of this blog's title. Trump was never one of my idols; "he'll do." Still true. That said, no to war in Syria. Old news now but anyway. Assad's is one of the only remaining non-Mohammedan ones in the Near East. (I understand Alawites consider themselves Mohammedans but they're really not. Like Mormons are to Christians.) Unlike Sunni Wahhabist Saudi Arabia (a chamber of horrors run by best friends to our elite, and where most of the 9/11 hijackers were from), you can be a Christian in his Syria, home of several apostolic churches, some of which are Catholic. Even if he is a poison-gassing son of a bitch, he's not our problem. Don't invade; don't invite.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Delatinization redux

  • A British ex-Anglican priest in the Ukrainian Catholic Church: True to tradition. I add: a tradition with a small t.
From elsewhere:
It's necessary to take a definitive measure to end the Eastern schism. Talks and good will are not effective. Each Orthodox church needs to renounce the separation and became an Eastern Catholic church of the Byzantine Rite.
Yes, but. You don't have to latinize to be Catholic. Don't harass the latinized majority in the current Byzantine Catholic churches, but guarantee to the Orthodox that we will never do to them what we did to Toth and Chornock in America. "We love you and miss you. Join us so we can leave you alone."

Don't harass the latinized majority in the current Byzantine Catholic churches. This got me put in moderation (basically suspended) at byzcath (yes, a Catholic-hosted forum; sometimes we're our worst enemy) for about two years and just now nearly pushed off Facebook's Russian Catholic group. Two deacons chewing me out like drill sergeants. "Stop pretending to be a Russian Catholic and go away; enjoy your traditional Latin Mass." Do as Fr. Deacon Dork says (harass the latinized actual East Slavs in the church; like me, Russian Catholics usually aren't Slavs) or turn in my icons (from a deceased Russian's collection) and Slavonic prayer books. Нет (nyet).

Russian Catholics usually are born Catholic non-Russians who love things Russian and Orthodox but have the sense not to leave the church.

The calling to delatinize oneself looks like anti-Westernism, a sin of the Orthodox, but isn't. (A favorite story from a departed priest friend who lived it: the English Jesuit superior of Fordham's Russian Center taking down an icon of St. Ignatius Loyola because it doesn't belong in the rite.) But it can become malicious. That's how evil works; it's a parasite, spoiling a good thing.

A good thing, the calling to be an unlatinized Byzantine Catholic, gets twisted into the sin of pride (when it's about your ego and not God: my cause), looking down on others who are entirely Catholic. Mirroring our treatment of Toth and Chornock, ¿no? Same self-righteousness as many of the Orthodox, of rad trads, and of NCR liberals (Modernists).

I love the mild delatinizations, imposed from the top, at my Ukrainian part-time parish. It's not entirely восточный (Eastern) but seems and is meant to seem Orthodox, perfect for my offering all that the Orthodox taught me back to God in the Catholic Church. The parishioners, Slavs who are nth-generation Ukrainian Catholics, aren't as keen on them ("Why can't we have our Stations of the Cross?"). That's reality. Their opinion, and they remain entirely Catholic. We get along. It takes a special kind of jerk to be a non-Slav barging in and telling Slavs how to do their services. I'm not that person.

You don't have to become like them but don't force them to be like you. Their relatives and in some cases they went through hell in their homelands to remain Catholic. Some respect is in order.

If you want восточный, there are the Melkites and the Russian Catholics. But, just like with the Orthodox, lose the attitude.

Христосъ воскресе!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Predictions about the American Catholic Church

Prophetic? Marie-Thérèse Power writes:
In 20 years' time the people who thought it ['70s-'80 Catholic liberal low-church] was "really nice" will have gone to their reward, and their children won't be bothering to attend. Those who were irritated by the duck soup will still have to travel an hour to get to a traditional Mass, but those will be the only Masses on offer.
That reminds me: 30 years ago here in the Philadelphia area, a priest, very knowledgeable and from before Vatican II, on board with the liberals but not too obnoxious about it, claimed to me, "By the time you are in your 50s the church will be completely different." He didn't elaborate. I'm in my 50s. Let's see if that has come true. The teachings of course can't change. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is shrinking (and hasn't bottomed out yet; more parish closings and mergers) because it has spent down its financial and social capital from before the council (whilst claiming the "renewal" is a smashing success). Thanks to the Holy Ghost and Pope Benedict XVI the Great's reform, like in England 30 years ago you can now find old-fashioned Western high-church if you are looking for it. My parish is a reform-of-the-reform shop now run by an always-conservative order, which happens to do the Tridentine Mass too, my home base, and there's the ordinariate (which is not part of the archdiocese; they have their own bishop) for Anglican alumni who like the old Prayer Book, their symbol of saying no to the Sixties revolution, just like the Tridentine Mass. (I can join but it only has my moral support; going there isn't practical and Cranmer was a heretic. But the lasting lesson from it is Western traditionalism doesn't have to be in Latin.) The charismatic movement, "the future of the church," fizzled. The Byzantine churches here are slowly dying (I don't want that to happen; I'm there part-time) due to age, assimilation, and people moving away (almost exactly like the Orthodox except some people become Roman Rite).

Sunday, April 16, 2017

When ethnicity protects: An example of good Novus Ordo

An example, but not the only kind, of good Novus Ordo, the best the official Roman Rite had to offer in many places for decades after Vatican II and I imagine still is the best in at least some. (And is better than even 10 years ago thanks to Benedict XVI's reform.) Novus Ordo-fied but their heart is still with the old religion (I know it well; Msgr. Murray and his parish were just like this... it reminds me of the English for a few decades after the "Reformation"), here with ethnic culture serving as a hedge against Modernism. This is Sacred Heart Church, the historic Polish parish in Clifton Heights (it used to be a national parish; notice there are no Irish national parishes) and maybe merged with one or two other parishes now. (Yo, how's that "renewal" working out for youse?) The candles on the gradines in the reredos (behind the altar; what traditionally were the altar candles) happen to be electric lights. This parish took out the Communion rail and moved the mensa (the table that's the actual altar) forward probably only because they were told to. (Likely at great expense, especially for this blue-collar town.) Unlike Catholic liberals, they're obviously not trying to attack the teachings of the church. By the way, unusual in the archdiocese, this is one of the only parishes besides mine where there are no altar girls (the territorial parish I live in but don't belong to is a Lucia fest), but the sanctuary crew receives Communion in the hand and there are lady Eucharistic ministers. One wonders if some official years ago bullied these Polish-Americans into having both. Layfolk giving Communion don't affect the sacrament of course but I hate the liberals trying to force their agenda on me especially with something as intimate as worship, receiving Communion particularly so (think about it: Catholics and other apostolic Christians get to touch God), and in this case especially because I'm an ex-Anglican. (They're soft-selling the attempted ordination of women.) Partly why in five years back in the church I have never received from a lay person. They're supposed to be a practical thing under "extraordinary" circumstances. Note the icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa ("chenstahova"; being Roman Riters, except for her, Poles don't really do icons) and the Divine Mercy picture on the gradines; there's also a portrait of St. John Paul II in a side vestibule. (We are actually better off now even with Pope Francis, because Benedict the Great's reform still stands. What's helping us: Francis doesn't care about liturgy and he doesn't speak English.) The Stations of the Cross are in Polish with English titles on little signs below them, and the priest and congregation still speak some Polish; I understood what I heard.

Other good kinds include high-church (reform of the reform: make it look and sound like the Tridentine Mass, including eastward-facing; my parish did that before Summorum Pontificum freed up the traditional Mass; the ordinariates are the "libretto by Cranmer" version and yes, that's as strange as it sounds, given the history, as Cranmer came to hate the Mass) and "say the black, do the red," pared down with no attempt at music (that is, a Low Mass).

"For God so loved the world..." Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy upon us.


  • Byzantine Rite Sunday here: Христосъ воскресе изъ мертвыхъ, смертiю смерть поправъ, и сущимъ во гробѣхъ животъ даровавъ. (This is Slavonic, the traditional liturgical language the Russians still use; my part-time parish uses English and Ukrainian.) From a few years ago, my tribute to Russia; may it with Putin be a sword of Christendom as well as, in the tradition of St. Seraphim of Sarov (we Catholics give born Orthodox saints the benefit of the doubt), spread peace by example. (Of course Christians can do both. Jesus himself used force at one point.)
  • Filipino crucifixions on Good Friday. (Note the British headline's disapproval of "extreme religious acts." Because "we don't do religion anymore.") A folk Catholic practice. I understand the possible well-meaning Protestant objection to this: it's true that we can add nothing to Jesus' sacrifice and there is only one of him so only one sacrifice for Christians; the people doing this don't earn their way into heaven like the Protestants think we believe. What strikes me is this sounds exactly like their objection to the Mass. So these re-enactments by my brothers, like me partly Spanish, the penitente tradition "plus," are Passion plays "plus." Catholicism is an entirely "real" religion, literal. We believe baptism with water literally gives grace, that the God-man was nailed to a cross, and, even though he only appeared mysteriously to his followers, he literally returned in the flesh from the dead. These acts in the Philippines by analogy show the reality of Jesus' sacrifice, certainly to the people doing them, like the Mass makes it truly present "disguised" as bread and wine. If miracles happened at these events I wouldn't be surprised.
  • A Catholic church is both a temple, in which the one sacrifice has replaced the old covenant's sacrifices but it is still a place of sacrifice (both Jesus' sacrifice made mystically present and Christians' giving thanks; εὐχαριστία) and the gathering (σύναξις) place for the assembly, the community (ἐκκλησία).
    • The cleansing of the Temple and the sacrifice of the Mass. Fr. Hunwicke on Rabbi Jacob Neusner. I'm not as educated as Fr. H but the point seems to be Neusner didn't believe in Jesus but believed Jesus obviously meant what Catholics and others in the apostolic family (Catholics who don't admit they're Catholic as I put it) do about his Supper. I'm also reminded of the late Michael Davies, who pointed out that when Protestants use realistic sacrificial language about Communion, they don't mean what we do; they really believe "he is not here."
    • New clericalism is imposing old ways on modern church architecture. Modern Westerners don't understand the true, sacrificial symbolism of a meal in ancient cultures. Arguably the Protestants, 16th-century northern Europeans long removed from this culturally, didn't either. Which partly explains the mistakes of this NCR article; the author sounds like he's really a Protestant. Also, Catholic liberals are the biggest clericalists. Fr. George Rutler has said we are really sacerdotalists; clericalism is a kind of caricature of the church. Which is closer to our beliefs, a priest submitting to the great tradition (say the black, do the red, face the altar with the congregation) to plead Jesus' sacrifice (Jesus, the one actual priest and one victim) and give literally him as a sacrament, or the courtroom sanctuary in which the priest's chair displaces the Reserved Sacrament, towering over a shrunken altar? (Anglo-Catholics adopted traditional practices voluntarily, facing fines and prison in England, because of love; they thought they were part of the larger church or wanted to be.) Christian altars are tables but the Protestants and neo-Protestants (aging Catholic liberals) think they are only tables. How wrong they are. Also, this is the bookend of radical traditionalism: Catholic liberals think their architecture and liturgics are the only, God-given way. If you want to experiment, fine, but stick to our teachings (Pope Benedict XVI the Great's reform in English does that) and don't tell me I can't have the traditional Mass (Benedict answered that with Summorum Pontificum). The super-clericalism is also why the old Catholic liberals want women priests; most of us Catholics, including the many lapsed, at least tacitly know it can't be done.
  • A Russian Catholic actually in Russia (rare) asks:
    • Do you think it is necessary to reform the Orthodox rite or not? No. Possible but not necessary and likely not desirable. Witness the Roman Rite after Vatican II.
    • Can a person be in the Eastern rite (sic) but not be a conservative? There are several Eastern rites. Anyway, it depends on what you mean by "conservative." Our doctrine can't change. The church is above politics; both the political left and right can be in the church in any rite. You can be a perfectly good Catholic and believe in a strong central government with socialized health care, for example. That said, most of the Eastern rites are culturally conservative; if you want to experiment liturgically, you can be Catholic but an Eastern rite probably isn't for you. And as at least an opinion I hold that modern Western leftism, including political correctness, is Christianity without Christ, not an option for good Catholics.
  • "Two integrities" nonsense in Catholicism? Fr. Longenecker's honest about church politics these days being bad. Good thing the church is indefectible; our teachings can't change. (Like how, despite the lack of "liturgical studies" for most of our history, we still have the Mass; that's the Holy Ghost at work.) So no, Pope Francis can't turn the church Protestant like Cranmer did in England. The Fr. Martins are in one ear and out the other, forgotten by me as soon as I'm out the proverbial bad parish's door. Jesus' killers couldn't keep him down and they can't take my faith.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Conservative principles

Worth pondering. Timothy Arndt writes (I admit I haven't read what he has):
The common principles of the early Conservatives of Western Europe (roughly, from Burke to Donoso Cortes) listed by Robert Nisbet in his foreword to The Works of Joseph de Maistre (Schocken, 1971).
  • 1. God and the divine order, not the natural order, must be the starting point of any understanding of society and history.
  • 2. Society, not the individual, is the subject of the true science of man.
  • 3. Tradition, not pure reason, is the only possible approach to reform of government and society.
  • 4. Organism, not social contract, is the true image of social reality.
  • 5. The groups and associations of society, not the abstracted individual, are the true seats of human morality — and also of human identity.
  • 6. True authority springs directly from God and is distributed normally among a plurality of institutions — church, guild, social class, and family, as well as a political state.
  • 7. A tragic view of man and history is required, one that sees the recurrence of evil and disaster in human affairs, not the kind of linear progress assumed by the Enlightenment.
Not libertarianism (although that is useful in America; it taught me to think critically about our political scene, left and right) and not the "liberalism a few decades ago" (exactly what American neoconservatism is) that passes for American conservatism (which isn't surprising since America was founded on the "Enlightenment") or, put another way, American "conservatism" as in mainstream Republicans is just social liberalism that plays the stock market (the dumbed-down, non-threatening to liberals "conservatism" of "Alex P. Keaton"). I do believe in capitalism/the market (better than any other economics man has tried), though, but the real reactionaries, and the best churchmen, are right that work is for man, not man for wage slavery, which is cleverly marketed as individual liberation from poverty and narrow old morals; among other evils it destroys families and communities. (Medieval life may have been hard and short but the church made sure you got your time off for festivals, etc., which the Protestants got rid of.) The worst churchmen mistake the ripoff of Christianity that is Western liberalism (only our apostates could have come up with it: for example, globalism and "it takes a village" are its false church; it includes feminism) for the gospel. My guess is Pope Francis is one of these suckers, which doesn't affect our teachings, because it can't, but he doesn't act like somebody owns him; he's unpredictable. Vatican II (policies, not doctrine) happened because too many of our churchmen forgot the seventh point: "Let's streamline the church for the space age, and as part of that, now that we've learned the history of the Mass so we know what we can take out, let's rewrite it."

I am a Catholic so unlike most Americans I believe a king or a caudillo is an option. The right thing to do in 1775-1783 was to remain loyal to George III (even though he was Protestant, which didn't affect us, and Burke thought the rebels had a point).

On paper Britain and Canada (partly the American Loyalists who rightly opposed the revolution) should have been a conservative high-Anglican ideal but aren't. (Many/most English Reformed Christians lost what was left of their faith at the "Enlightenment.") Of course we believe Anglicanism is fatally flawed — it's just Protestantism with bishops — but anyway. And, although semi-congregationism is worth looking at as a hedge against liberalism, Popeless "Catholicisms" eventually get owned.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Is the SSPX the real BenOp?

Rod Dreher's striking omission. Gabriel Sanchez is long back in the church doing good with his writing. This piece is like my idea of looking to the 20th-century history of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, his church home and my part-time one, for a working model of "intentional Christian communities," traditional Catholic ones, under extremely adverse conditions.

I have a lot of respect for the Society of St. Pius X; we have the traditional Mass in the official church again because of them. But I'm not associated with them because my impression (and I have been to them many times) is, like with the Orthodox, while it's a good culture, they're too narrow, a bookend of the militantly low-church, insufferably self-righteous liberals (and yes, most of them were heretics) who scoured our churches of our culture 45 years ago, saying they were doing God's will, which baited some traditionalists into sounding like the caricatures many churchmen accuse them of being. Sanchez handles this well: he explains it's about principles, not nostalgia (certainly not about Latin in church): an authentic horizon beyond liberalism, one where Christ the King reigns supreme and the final end of man is not earthly satisfaction but rather eternal beatitude with God. I don't think "the American way" is the answer like political and church neocons do but I do believe Catholicism can live in the old American republic (the U.S. was never supposed to be a democracy, thank God).

More important than my first objection, Catholicism 101 includes being under your lawful bishop, your local successor to the apostles (the diocese is the church's basic unit; this is Vincentian-canon stuff the Orthodox, other dissident Easterners, and classic Anglicans agree with), who of course answers to the one church's head bishop. Wrong opinions aren't necessarily heresy; you can't break with the reigning Pope or your bishop just because you don't like him (and no, I don't like Pope Francis). The only religious thing I officially belong to is the bare minimum, a parish of the diocese. The SSPX conscientiously is not a separate church in theory but in practice is one.

A third objection is related to the first: there's real Christianity vs. "secularized and part-time Christianity," but "the Catholic Church: here comes everybody," not a perfectionistic micromanaging cult of of the self-righteous, the caricature of traditionalism, which is not the big tent of the real pre-Vatican II church (the faith of Francisco Franco and Dorothy Day; heck, the Irish and Italians in America used to hate each other). Still, the clergy's job in part is to point out the "authentic horizon" Sanchez mentions. Sound teaching from the pulpit and decorum in the sanctuary (a rite teaches and keeps order in church) but "come as you are" for the laity; private/home devotion is a free-for-all, for example. (The local SSPX chapel's Christmas Midnight Mass is packed... with local people, not just the parishioners you'd expect.)

Sanchez's criticisms of Dreher are fair: Dreher has left the church and is a writer who claims to critique contemporary liberal culture while remaining deeply embedded within it who wishes to curry favor with media elites who will draw attention to his book or give him free airtime, which seems to confirm my suspicion that his most vicious critics are right that he's a Judas trying to persuade conservative Christians to surrender (certainly leaving the church fits that), the "fixat[ing] on same-sex marriage and gender issues" being "bloggy outrage porn" (the critics' words) to get our confidence; bait.

Of note: "How's that 'renewal' working out for youse?" Even in secular terms Vatican II's a flop. Last fall, in rural Virginia, the Society opened a brand-new seminary to house the influx of vocations pouring in — something which no Catholic diocese in America has been able to boast of in decades.

Dominica de Passione: Judica me, Deus

  • Mass: Judica me, Deus.
  • Anglican missal translation.
  • A sign allegedly in a church: "Confession today (Saturday) will be exactly until 5:30 pm. There is only one priest available for confession today. Make your confession direct, to the point. Only confess your sins. No need to explain why you did it. Thank you very much." I think a lot of people confuse confession with spiritual direction, which is a sort of Christian psychotherapy before there was psychotherapy. Understandable since most Catholics including me don't have a spiritual director, just father confessors who do the best they can. (By the way, the Orthodox in America are the same on this. Spiritual fatherhood/eldership is monastic, and there aren't that many Orthodox monks and nuns in America. Stay away from parish priests who play staretz; it's a cult.) I'm blessed to have a city church (not my parish; not really a neighborhood parish anymore) that has many times set aside for confession so I don't feel rushed, but the sign has a point. "Just the facts, ma'am."

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The secular West's "peaceful future" according to Google

Doodle 4 Google 2016/2017 Winner! — "A Peaceful Future" by Sarah Harrison, Stratford, CT.

Another leftist Google doodle: superficially appealing art that, like leftism generally, rips off Christian ethics, "love thy neighbor" with Jesus Photoshopped out or here relativized. Edited out: the pile of corpses, the inconvenient babies including disabled ones* (and the left calls us Nazis) never born, euthanized disabled and elderly, and millions (more than the Nazis) Stalin, Mao, and others killed to usher in their "paradise," that this particular lie, that of John Lennon's "Imagine," is built on. (To Lennon's credit, he didn't buy into abortion. You never hear that.)

CØn†яÅ𝛿ï©T. The Mohammedan wants to forcibly convert or kill everybody else, including throwing the homosexuals off roofs (we conservative Christians believe what the homosexuals do is a sin but murder is not our answer). The Western liberals behind this art want to use her as a weapon against Western conservatives (who want to be left in peace, not invade the world, a liberal dream; it's really just colonialism, only with them in charge); that's why they invited her. They don't really care about her beliefs; they think that because they're so nice, everybody else, including her, really wants to be just like them. And what's she doing, anyway? Coming to our countries to use the rights there... to argue for taking those rights away, just like in her home country?

Of course I'm for giving talented women and minority members a chance at a job, etc.**, but it's an article of the leftist faith (without anything like St. Thomas Aquinas' five proofs) that pushing more such into certain fields will benefit those fields. It's... superstitious. How would a quota of women et al. in science improve science? (Women in combat are a bad idea.)

Hooray for separate countries. How about if we and the Saracens come to an understanding? We have our Christian kingdoms over here and they have their dar al-Islam, their theocracies, way over there, and we have less and less to do with each other as we buy less oil from them, finding more of it here as well as developing alternative fuels, etc.? We don't station troops and drone-attack there; they stop blowing us up and shooting us. Don't invade; don't invite.

The Japanese, for example, like being Japanese. They have a foundation culture. So do Americans. It's English, as in originally from England. Deal with it. I love it and I'm not even Protestant. (It is obviously formerly Catholic anyway.)

Good quotation: "If liberals think you're too conservative and conservatives think you're too liberal, you're probably just Catholic." Blessed John Henry Newman's life. He figured out that Anglicanism's latitudinarianism isn't the church but many Catholics in his day didn't trust him.

*The other side has a point that "labeling is bad" but "people with disabilities," etc. is showing off. And liberals love to label; it's flashing their ID. I'm part Mexican, not Guatemalan (they're neighbors who hate each other), Puerto Rican, etc., but there's "Hispanic." (Granted, sharing some Iberian ancestry, a language, and the church means something, but still.) Han Chinese, Malays, Bengalis, et al. get to be "Asian" together. You're not white? Colored "People of color." White liberals' version of "you all look alike anyway," I guess.

**That's what our fair English Christian culture does.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dominica quarta in Quadragesima

  • Mass: Laetare, Jerusalem.
  • Anglican missal propers and readings. The difference in the standard Catholic version is the gospel goes on for one more sentence: When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
  • First photo: I haven't been but an old acquaintance's recent travels brought this to my attention. Les anglicans being plus catholique que les catholiques. The high altar of the Episcopalians' American Cathedral in Paris, seeming ready for a requiem (even though their Articles condemn our "Romish doctrine concerning purgatory") but with white candles, not yellow. Many of you know that traditionally the Reserved Sacrament is not on a cathedral high altar (and anyway those Protestant Articles condemn that too: "not by Christ's ordinance"; well, neither is Morning Prayer). Anyway, part of the point of Catholic traditionalists, reform-of-the-reformers, and the ordinariates of ex-Anglicans is we can and should reclaim this, building like this again (but not exclusively; the church has many cultures).
  • Second photo: no pink for me this Lent. My monthly Byzantine Rite Sunday, the Fourth Sunday in Great Lent, the Sunday of St. John of the Ladder: troparion and kontakion; epistle and gospel. The long St. Basil version of the Liturgy, here with the whole, longer anaphora chanted recto tono, the modern way. (Fr. John's got stamina.) By the way, not everything Eastern is old; the Roman Canon is older than the two Byzantine anaphorae. Afterwards, coffee hour and again meeting a couple I knew 20 years ago; he is of Ukrainian descent.
  • History: Beethoven's faith? Cradle Catholic but enigmatic; apparently he made his peace with God and the church. The great German composer with the Dutch name had his roots in Catholic Flanders.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Congregations that don't sing

I'm of two minds about congregational singing. Good thing it's not de fide and the church has many cultures. I understand in theory it's a Good Thing. Aware Christians, the community, etc. On the other hand, the community isn't just for the pious. "The Catholic Church: here comes everybody." Most of our people don't sing. Some can't and some shouldn't, so, playing on that old Anglican saying, maybe "none must." Quiet Low Masses (originally for monks' private daily Masses) have been a staple in the parishes for centuries... because ordinary people (and ordinary priests) wanted them.

The article makes the same point Thomas Day made decades ago: much unliturgical music really is a concert, unsingable by average people. The classic Protestant hymns we open and close our Sung Masses with are both orthodox and very singable.

Cranmer's busted religion and more

Chesterton wrote:
The Book of Common Prayer is the one positive possession and attraction, the one magnet and talisman for people even outside the Anglican Church, as are the great Gothic cathedrals for people outside the Catholic Church... might be put in a sentence; it has style; it has tradition; it has religion; it was written by apostate Catholics. It is strong, not in so far as it is the first Protestant book [but in that it was] the last Catholic book.
Which is why the Puritans hated it. I use its idiom just like the ordinariates (hooray for Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, for example) but I wouldn't go that far about the BCP. Broken anaphora in the English original, Black Rubric (Anglicans kneel but "he is not here"), and Articles (fallible, fungible church and no Mass). No. The church is right to forbid Cranmer's anaphora as printed in the BCPs... but although I'm not a fan, I say it could be an option because the Antiochian Orthodox have done our work for us, unprotestantizing/catholicizing it.

I have no problem being gracious to born Anglicans acting in good faith, such as visiting each other's services. Of course Communion's out of the question. I wouldn't lend our churches to Protestants either; the Orthodox don't do that and I can't imagine the ancient church doing it.

The flashpoint of all rebellion is where God and his creation meet in the flesh. I understand Milton's Satan would not serve man; man's rebellion has three fronts: who Jesus is, what the Eucharist is, and sex.

People who object to the church's office of head bishop (yes, the papacy) 1) want to run the show themselves (emperor, tsar, sultan, comrade first secretary), 2) think they know better than the church, not just the head bishop, and/or 3) have sex issues.

I'm not that religious though I believe; religion is a perfect "safe" blog topic. Regular readers care about it a lot and prying people don't.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fisking a libcath post

Typical liberal Catholic bilge water, of course from an older person:
To say Vatican II is not Catholic is absurd! I was born in 1953 and grew up a child in the Vatican I era. I was an altar boy, did all the Latin etc., novenas, May processions etc. I know change is hard to accept and we want to remember in a moment of nostalgia the church we grew up with. With that said the Holy Spirit will never let the church get misdirected or misguided. Which means Vatican II was meant to be and we must accept it. The Holy Spirit wanted "a breath of fresh air" to enter the church. I believe we finally got it right. Each Catholic celebrating in their native language with the Body of Christ with the clergy amongst them is more like how I envision our first liturgies in the catacombs and the Last Supper, everyone gathered around a table. Be careful we don't let evil guide our steps backwards and let the Holy Spirit continue to guide our steps forward.
To say Vatican II is not Catholic is absurd! True; it didn't define any doctrine; it's not heretical. Maybe stupid, but not heretical.

I know change is hard to accept and we want to remember in a moment of nostalgia the church we grew up with. Don't patronize me.

With that said the Holy Spirit will never let the church get misdirected or misguided. True of our doctrine.

Which means Vatican ll was meant to be and we must accept it. No. It's suggestions and policy, most of which backfired.

I believe we finally got it right. The church is indefectible but things other than doctrine need reform now and then; sinless church, sinful people. But if true Christianity basically disappeared until Martin Luther, Joseph Smith, Vatican II, or who/whatever, Christianity's a sham.

Each Catholic celebrating in their native language with the Body of Christ with the clergy amongst them... An option. So's the traditional way. The clergy are among the people when all face the altar, and why not a vernacular option for the old Mass?

...more like how I envision our first liturgies in the catacombs and the Last Supper, everyone gathered around a table. More your imagination than history, just like the first Protestants.

Be careful we don't let evil guide our steps backwards and let the Holy Spirit continue to guide our steps forward. So your opposition to liturgical conservatives and I suspect against small-o orthodoxy isn't just a matter of having several styles and schools of thought aside from doctrine and of spirituality, but, just like the early Protestants, a battle between right and wrong, between good and evil.

With people like this claiming to speak for the church, and in the '70s and '80s, boy, did they, no wonder people leave it.

Mostly religious quick post

  • Good question: how much of your religion do you really believe and how much of it is really group identity?
  • "You know why we lack boys/men in church? Because It has become a feminized place." Men don't like sissy religion. Vatican II only made that worse; churchmen repeating globalist platitudes worse still. The old liturgies are masculine; they pre-date the feminization of Christian piety in the years before the council. Most Western men just write off church as for sissies including cucks; some become evangelical. When I was an exchange student in Mexico in the '60s, I noticed men and older boys were never seen at Mass. I believe it. That was thanks to the sissification of Christian piety going back to around the 1800s; Jesus as one's boyfriend. So I understand in Mediterranean and Latin-American Catholic folk cultures, churchgoing was for women with the priesthood both a respectable option for homosexuals and with the many (majority) straight ones having affairs or in practice married, with the bishop looking the other way; most men weren't really expected to participate in religion. Folkways nothing to do with our teachings.
  • I avoid lay Eucharistic ministers, not that it affects the sacrament but I resent being forced to play along with someone's un-Catholic agenda. In my five years back in the church I've never received from one.
  • Nobody asked me but... while I appreciate the idea behind connecting social service with Christian teachings, doing this to Confirmation could reduce Christianity to a kind of club for the socially skilled often of a certain class; like the Novus Ordo generally, the upper middle class patting itself on the back. "Good breeding." A sacrament, God's gift, reduced to the transcript- and résumé-polishing of that class. I don't know of anybody denying the sacrament to the disabled, but this phenomenon seems to make the disabled or even the socially awkward literally second-class citizens in the church. Somehow I have some kind of faith; otherwise being an angry goth kid has some appeal. (Buddhism's good too even though it doesn't answer ultimate questions.)
  • I didn't get ashes. (Best not to show that stuff at work.) I haven't been to Stations. I say a Lenten prayer in Slavonic doing prostrations in front of icons (looks like the Mohammedans except for the images; some say they got the prostrations from the Christians). Yes; I am Catholic. Small-o orthodox (that descriptor shouldn't be necessary; "Catholic" should cover it, but, hey, fallen world), non-fanatical TLMer with a side of Russian Byzantine.
  • "Our Orthodoxy is a little island in the midst of a world which operates on totally different principles — and every day these principles are changing for the worse, making us more and more alienated from it." What I got from reading Fr. Seraphim (Rose): I like the idea of a Christian traditionalism that both said no to the 1960s revolution in the West but acknowledged it sometimes had a point because the West's problems pre-date it. That said, I can say the same as this quotation as a believing (I didn't say good or holy) Catholic living in a Protestant country.
  • After Vatican II, Eastern-rite Catholics were still allowed to be traditional because they were relatively few enough to be considered well hidden plus maybe it was Catholic liberals trying to ecumenically bait-and-switch the Orthodox. (Note for newbs: there is more than one Eastern rite.)
  • "Autistic" is the "retarded" of the 2010s. What a shame that well-meant "awareness" about a real problem, autism, has become the playground-style putdown of the 2010s ("sperg," "autistic screeching"), replacing "retarded" (almost gone because, valid point from the liberals, labeling is bad). The schoolyard is a cruel place. Kids have been using “special” for “retarded” for years.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dominica tertia in Quadragesima: Oculi mei semper ad Dominum

  • One of those fine Sundays in which the old Book of Common Prayer collect, epistle, and gospel still match the traditional Roman Rite, so here are the Anglican Missal propers. Mass: Mine eyes are ever looking unto the Lord.
  • The Latin propers.
  • Happy St. Joseph's Day, I believe pre-empted in the 1962 Missal. Great stepfather and often unsung hero.
  • Why the ordinariate? Of course I love the ordinariates; brother Anglo-Catholic alumni promoting real Catholicism (commonly called conservative or orthodox Catholicism) in classic English. Certainly there can be an English Catholicism (echoing Anglo-Catholic N.P. Williams' idea of a Northern Catholicism) like Polish, Italian, etc., but I think Fr. Tomlinson is overstating it in this case. For one thing, as Msgr. Edwin Barnes has mentioned, in England the English, Anglican things such as the Book of Common Prayer were Protestant things used against Anglo-Catholics, who largely were would-be Catholics, Anglo-Papalists. So my impression is the British ordinariate is really the Pastoral Provision with more clout; good, conservative, married Novus Ordo priests. The old BCP means something different to American A-C alumni; like the Tridentine Mass for cradle Catholics, it was part of their big no to the Sixties. So the American ordinariate is a little different culturally.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Protestant claims and my background

The International House of Pancakes Prayer, whatever that is:
We invite you to pray with us for the nations that have not yet heard the gospel. Let the word of the Lord run swiftly to Syria and Lebanon in Jesus' name.
"You know that Jesus preached in Lebanon's Sidon and Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, right?"

"Do they know it's Christmastime at alllllllll?" Ethiopians were celebrating Mass for it when most of our ancestors were still worshipping the Norse pantheon. (A fourth of mine converted with the Romans, in Iberia, that is, Spain.)
"But ancient, apostolic Christians aren't Christians. They need the true gospel. It's the white (Protestant) man's burden!"
I know the rap. Ironically it helped get me started Catholicwards as a kid. A sister was a '70s charismatic "Jesus movement" person who left the family's tepid Episcopalianism (my parents really got their religion from the televangelists and self-help books old and new; a home brew) for at least theologically conservative Protestantism so I'd actually hear that stuff. "So-and-so was raised (name the Catholic-ish church) but he became a Christian." I figured if it's that old and she and her friends were reacting that strongly it has to have something going for it. And the little I knew of the culture, such as filtered through the not-yet-crazy Episcopalianism in the parishes, spoke to my heart, at the risk of sounding Protestant, like the Russians visiting Hagia Sophia.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Nuns and feminism

Kathy Shaidle: Twisted sisters.
Those feminists’ fascination with Catholic nuns made sense, actually. Here were women living and working together, doing good — and without men around.
That's why Ida Lupino, a Hollywood type not interested in Catholicism as far as I know, made the movie The Trouble with Angels in 1966 (right before the church and the rest of the Western world went to hell), more than a comedic vehicle for the cute Hayley Mills about a convent boarding school.

I'm a convert so I didn't grow up with nuns, old-school or liberalized (Catholics know what I mean: boo, Vatican II). I've heard the good and the bad from people who loved or hated them. Their virtual disappearance from American life is a reliable sign that Vatican II was a mistake (it didn't define any doctrine so I can say that). Little homegrown conservative orders are doing okay but we'll likely never see the big teaching and nursing orders again.

Anglicanism's charm

Anglicanism is charming to me for three reasons: they don't hate old-fashioned high church (here I'll include their classic music and classic English) like Catholic liberals do and they're more flexible liturgically than our trads (it's not my way or the highway), and their semi-congregationalism can be a hedge against liberalism. It's why some conservatives are still Episcopalians, believe it or not. But the "Reformation" was still evil.
The break with Rome in England was complex and initially was schismatic and not heretical. Whatever Henry VIII's faults he was not a protestant unlike Cranmer and Henry's daughter, Elizabeth I.
I know. Henry appointed Protestant-minded clergy who would do his bidding and when he needed Protestant allies in Europe but they couldn't practice their Protestantism. Anglicanism didn't really become Protestant until Henry died and Protestant regents ruled for his underage son, Edward VI. I lived in England nearly 30 years ago; largely anti-religious but if you're a believing Catholic it's obvious it was once ours.
Just now a High Church clergyman called to be bishop of Sheffield has had to resign because he has received so much hatemail from the liberal, woman-priesty side of the Church of England. They loathe the High Church wing so much.
Has he? I used to slightly know him; all I can say is "wish you were Catholic."

There's conservative high church and liberal high church in the Church of England and Episcopal Church. Conservative high church has existed for many years thanks to semi-congregationalism but obviously has no future in those churches and anyway doesn't make sense; doctrinally you are who you are in communion with. (Sometimes it's would-be Roman Catholicism; sometimes it's a rival Catholicism.) Liberal high church is virtually unknown to Roman Catholics; it's not like Catholic liberals. In Anglicanism you can find clergy who are lesbians but believe the creeds and love medieval liturgy. This alterna-Catholicism is becoming a house style of Episcopalianism, formerly the Sunday holding pen for religiously indifferent preppies and/or Masons.

It's not the church but I get it.

The trouble with gestures such as lending St. Peter's in the Vatican to the Anglicans for Evensong (a fine service; culturally it beats most of the Novus Ordo parishes) is they see it as validation for remaining outside the church. What have 50 years of these gestures really done? They keep moving away from us.