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.