Friday, March 31, 2023

Thanks, Father Sam. RIP.

Online Roman Catholic apologists still remind me of rude college kids I knew 35 years ago who, after coming to my Catholic Anglican parish to join me for Evening Prayer and Benediction, made a show of ignoring me, leaning one to another and asking if that was really the sacrament.

In contrast...

I recently looked up someone formative for me in my teens, at the town's most beautiful church, a try at English Gothic. He was from the WASP old school, going back to before World War II. His father was an Episcopal priest too and if I recall rightly he was a boy chorister at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in the glory days of Canon West. Interestingly he left no Internet presence; there is next to nothing about him online, just an obituary saying little. Not a single picture. In a way fitting, as he was self-effacing in his secondhand English (anglophile American, from Massachusetts) way. A bit like C.S. Lewis, not a Catholic Anglican himself but pointing the way; my first high-ish rector. A "gentle man," manifestly holy, quietly so in his blue cassock and his traditional Eucharistic vestments. Sacramental; I dare say a bit mystical. He knew everybody in his little congregation, very Anglican, and many in the wider town. Not right all the time; holy. The opposite of self-righteous apologists. Truth matters, but. People like him, obviously acting in good faith, show how Anglicanism, in its little conservative parish holdouts that formed me, could work, despite its problems. (Full parishes, financially independent, are very autonomous.) I didn't appreciate him enough at the time; the older I get, the more I do.

"Thanks, Father Sam. You mattered." RIP.

Although he sometimes criticized old-school Roman Catholicism, remembering it well, his sacristy included part of my introduction to the traditional Latin Mass; namely, the old manual for the Order of St. Vincent for Episcopal altar boys, the American Missal order of Mass, the first time I read parts of the TLM in translation. I have a copy.

He was the first priest I heard Gregorian-chant the preface at the Eucharist.

I read my psalms and canticles from the old Book of Common Prayer. Before Father Sam, I came from a church that kept it.

I first saw full-fledged "pre-Vatican II" Catholic Anglicanism, birettas and all, when I was 17, at a now-gone New Jersey church; life-changing. Catholic Anglicanism made me.

The Rev. Samuel Edwin Purdy

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Are zoomer trad Christians a myth?

I like ACNA and its journal, The North American Anglican, a lot. Part of the sound high-church minority, in the very center of Christianity's historic mainstream, and with a healthy emphasis on the essentials, gospel, creed, council, crosier, and sacraments. "... discovered liturgy, and turned their lives around by dedicating themselves to confession, fasting, and practicing daily offices." Most important, celebrating and receiving the Eucharist, Christ sacrificing himself to the Father for the quick and the dead, accompanied by Gregorian, Anglican, Byzantine, or Russian chant, incense, chasubles, and all. High ecumenism, like Touchstone or First Things. I dare say I'm more ecumenical than liberal Christians; Catholic liberals are provincial. Echoing a real lost hope from the 1960s, that maybe the differences were just misunderstandings (what Chalcedonians now think of non-Chalcedonians) so just maybe the high churches would reconcile. What great men like Michael Ramsey were aiming for. That said, ACNA are Protestants and in ways the Episcopal Church 2.0, whence they came, without the rainbow issues.

I can accept that certainly in low-church America - except a formerly huge immigrant Catholic community that hasn't really existed since the 1960s; it blew itself up, assimilating and trading the faith once delivered, Christianity, for Rahnerian Modernism, and Pope Francis is trying to finish the job - a country in a moral/spiritual death spiral, most of the few zoomer Christians are going to Hillsong and suchlike, megachurches with praise bands and all, often part of the Southern Baptist Convention, the last big American church worth taking seriously, and liberalism (Christianity's daughter) has got its nose under the tent flap there. Anyway, high churchmen are still considered oddballs. America's real founding by the Anglicans in Virginia is largely forgotten.
Nationwide, only about 4% of parishes offer the Latin Mass, and many do not publicize it.
Ouch. I believe it.

The Orthodox convert boomlet. They're less exclusively ethnic now but:
...the majority of American states are less than 1% Orthodox. The 2020 census found 1% of all Americans are Orthodox. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese even reports a 22% membership decline in the decade from 2010 to 2020.
Assimilation is their death spiral. They're also wrong on remarriage after divorce and on contraception, like Protestants.
The Roman Catholic Church’s decline began as it hemorrhaged parishioners starting in the late 1950s before the introduction of vernacular mass headed off the decline, mostly stabilizing until the past 20 years when attendance dropped again following the 2001 sex abuse scandal.
I don't have numbers but that sounds wrong. The steep decline didn't begin in the '50s. Vatican II didn't save the Roman community; quite the opposite.

The writer seems to retain modern Episcopalians' disdain for "conservatives." You see, Pope Francis had to save his church from all those icky GOPers in the Latin Mass crowd. Actually, the normie Republicans aren't conservative enough! And knowledgeable Catholics already know that Christian social teaching isn't the Republican platform; that teaching is both and neither the secular left and right.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

In the Catholic system, can the Pope change and abolish worship services?

"Can the Pope change and abolish worship services?" The Modernists' and Novus Ordo neocons' trump card against traditionalists now that Jorge Bergoglio is trying to destroy the Catholic Church from within - Communion for the remarried after divorce, for example - and hates the traditional Latin Mass and its (young) people as obstacles.

He can - it's rules, not doctrine - but most of the time the Catholic Church hasn't acted like that. For the most part, unlike Protestant groups with their fanciful and conflicting notions about the early Christians, Catholics knew what they didn't know so they changed the services from the Middle Ages very little, lest they lose the episcopate and the Eucharist.

He's done it before. There was the old Roman (terse collects from antiquity)/Gallican Rite mashup essentially creating the TLM a millennium ago. There was the Quignonez breviary, the basis for the Coverdale psalter in the Book of Common Prayer, part of my daily "office": allowed and then rescinded, now you see it, now you don't. St. Pius V banned all missals newer than 200 years except his slight edit of the TLM: Quo Primum Tempore. St. Pius X radically simplified the breviary (by the way, the easy 1960 version is my favorite Roman Breviary). There was the Pius XII Latin psalter replacing the Vulgate; nobody liked it and I think it disappeared. (If it's not broken, don't fix it.) And the 1955 Holy Week ceremonies, Bugnini's first big experiment.

But it's obvious that Bugnini's Novus Ordo is different, though I can't prove it. St. Pius V wasn't trying to sell out the church to an enemy. By the way, before Traditionis Custodes, I wasn't an extremist, fine with Benedict XVI's English Novus Ordo as an option such as on holy days of obligation. You weaponize the N.O., you radicalize me. And... the N.O.'s main problem isn't what it says - and the Latin original is fine, as is Benedict XVI's English - but what it no longer says; tacit but deliberate denials of teachings. Bergoglianism is trying to turn the Catholic Church into a mainline Protestant denomination, and the push for only one form of worship is a part of that.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Orthodoxy vs. Eucharistic adoration

Always happy to explain Orthodox beliefs and practices.

What do Orthodox Christians think about the Western practice of Eucharistic adoration—as in giving latria to the Eucharist?

Timothy (Metropolitan Kallistos) Ware covered this in his popular book The Orthodox Church. There is no FORMAL, defined doctrine about the Eucharist in the Orthodox communion, unlike the Catholic Church, but that doesn't mean the Orthodox deny the Catholic teaching about the Eucharist as Christ's sacrifice with a complete change to the elements.

Long story short: Eucharistic devotion never developed in Orthodoxy because the Orthodox didn't need it. No Berengarius denied the nature of Holy Communion so no Aristotle-using scholastic theologians defended it.

Sooo... pleasing good Protestant Anglicans in this regard, in Orthodoxy the Eucharist isn't gazed upon outside of the worship service but is duly used, eaten, most of the time during the service for it. But Orthodoxy does reserve the sacrament for visits to the sick and in Lent for a Communion service from the reserved sacrament, the Liturgy (not really a Liturgy/Mass) of the Presanctified Gifts. So the services in the Orthodox rite retain an earlier "shape" (as Gregory Dix might have said), more like the church fathers, pre-dating Western Eucharistic devotion.

All that said, back to Ware. There is no historical and thus liturgical reason in the Orthodox rite for Eucharistic devotion but he allows that there is no theological reason in Orthodoxy not to have it. So "making a visit" to the church specifically to pray in front of the reserved sacrament or to be blessed with it (the Latin Catholic service of Benediction) is a Latinism - thou shalt not mix rites - but in theory allowable in Orthodoxy.

Adoration of the sacrament as God? Yes, remembering that it's not an idol, a god in itself, or representing another god*, but like the body of Christ when he walked among us.

And it's true that the Eucharist's main focus is pleading Christ's sacrifice, offering it to the Father, not the adoration of the elements, though that's part of it.

*I'm with the late Fr. Andrew Lawrence James: next to nobody literally worships the images of their gods.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Religious ed: what the Eucharist is

Recently was antiques/vintage/junque browsing, one of my favorite activities. Treasures of history, even if you don't buy anything; like a museum without the attitude. Anyway, this artifact got my attention, a Silver Burdett 1970s-ish Catholic children's book on the Eucharist. I skimmed it. I've seen suchlike before. Lots and lots about community, family, fellowship, hugs all around, good as far as it goes. But nothing about the Eucharist being Christ's one sacrifice, a deep love, being pleaded to God the Father at the altar by the priest! Without that it's meaningless. Ever run across a bigmouth who challenges your attempt to share the faith, shutting you down by saying "Don't tell me what to believe; I went to Catholic school for 12 years"? In the pre-Benedict XVI Novus Ordo it was possible to go through the Catholic system and not learn what the Eucharist is. More than one Gallup poll confirms it: 70% of Catholics, nominal and other, don't. I happened to learn, partly by providence and partly seeking, how to examine my conscience and go to confession, the good old Roman manuals' way; part of worthily going to Communion for Catholics, which I also learnt by happenstance. I learnt what the Mass really is the same way I started to learn good-old-fashioned liturgics, from somebody in the Episcopal Church, which I was born into! (Catholic Anglicans: wonderful people and churches descended from 16th-century heretics, which seems almost not to matter.) In this case a then-Episcopal priest. We're not in touch but he's a happy-convert story, long a Catholic priest. But this encounter in a junque store reminded me of what's recently long been passed off as Catholicism, which the Bergoglians/Synodalists (guten Tag) are trying to bring back. A spiritual counterfeit.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Infrequent Communion in old-country Orthodoxy

A highlight this weekend besides an important and scriptural feast, yesterday according to the new calendar, the Annunciation (Little Christmas, the true feast of the Incarnation): informing two Orthodox keyboard jocks that the practice they know at St. Convert's of weekly reception of Communion thus confession at least monthly, which they insisted is traditional, comes from... imitating modern (not Modernist) Catholicism. You can do it but give due credit. It makes sense if you have a distinction between mortal and venial sin, a Latinism that the Orthodox in pure form don't have: if the sin isn't grave, you can receive. What's traditional East and West, not ideal, don't get me wrong, is reflected in the Catholic requirement to receive once a year, at Eastertime, because medieval people only dared receive once a year, if at all. Old-country Orthodoxy, yiayia/baba (granny) piety, is just like that. In order for it to work, you approach the chalice infrequently and are sure to confess everything since your last confession, just to be safe, before each time you receive. Maybe it's not the best but it does work.

The Protestants tried to get people to go to Communion every week by downgrading the sacrament from Christ's one sacrifice and presence to a mere symbol, a commemoration; not right and it didn't work - for example, the English still only received the Protestant Communion once a quarter, so the ministers only had it once a quarter for many years, because they thought that having the service with no communicants besides the minister was superstitious.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Political canonizations

Insight I got at a recent Sunday-morning after-service church coffee time (often my breakfast) from one of the few parishioners on the same page as me on matters ecclesiastical (we have our differences but mad respect): both the canonizations of Josaphat (Kuntsevich) of Polotsk on the Catholic side and of Alexis Toth on the Orthodox one were politically motivated nasty statements about a rival church (people who switched churches and/or took people with them), not about figures the people were devoted to. In what I call the "infallible Sportsmen's Club" (the bar in the church basement or hall), my view of the church in down-home Pennsylvania and Ohio, the aging Slavic parishioners are devoted to St. Nicholas and St. Panteleimon, etc., not to these.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

What's so great about the traditional Mass?

Suscipe, Sancte Pater...

Fr. Stravinskas clearly didn't really want the traditonal Latin Mass but high-church Novus Ordo, which Interwebs Catholics have dubbed reverent Novus Ordo. Catholic Anglicanism made me so "high-church" it is. Beware official churchmen who talk about "enriching" or "accompanying" you. Meaning "we're going to enrich the f*ck out of you." Anyway:

Why besides preference and nostalgia does the TLM matter? There are sincere Catholics who think: we have the teachings and the sacraments so what's your problem? Why is this old Roman/Gallican mashup missal better?
  • The Mass is both a gathering of the faithful to pray together and learn the Bible and the continuation and fulfillment of the Jewish temple, Christ's one sacrifice being pleaded on our altars. The TLM's generations of evolved ceremonial — a form of Christian community too — drive that point home, that this is a solemn place where sacrifice is offered.
  • 2- and 3-year reading cycles don't work. People retain what they hear and read in the course of one year. They forget things they read and hear only every two or three years.
  • Often it's not so much what the Novus Ordo says but what it doesn't say. So much was edited out, including from the readings. Because like Cranmer, Bugnini didn't believe in much Catholic teaching anymore.
  • It's strong Christian community; people have prayed this way for literally many generations. Similarly, the rosary.
The new service is a Mass, because the church's teachings can't change so that authority is implicitly behind it. But the old is better. Latin is nice — international, precise, unchanging in meaning, a gateway to the classical world, and pretty — but this is not about Latin.

Can the TLM be enriched? Yes, without a rewrite. The goal of the old liturgical movement, which many young trads have reached, yes, thanks to the example of the Novus Ordo: active participation. Congregations Gregorian-chanting: goals. Just as I like to say, there was room for Catholic reform but the 1960s weren't it.

It's also what Western Rite Orthodoxy usually resembles and would be more like if it were honest, living up to the words of John of Shanghai and San Francisco: Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox, you must be Eastern. The West was fully Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies.

In Lucca, Italy: Et introibo ad altare Dei.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Real Catholic renewal, false religion, cultural sellout in the Ukraine war, and more

  • True reform: Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy admit that many traditional Latin Massers are fulfilling Vatican II's objective of "active participation," thinking it's a victory for them (C, H, & W) and trying to rub it in. Trying to call TLMers hypocrites. Rather, I say: wonderful! Mission accomplished. Renewal! It is the Novus Ordo being a good influence on the TLM, but these writers do describe the legitimate liturgical movement before the council, which did the same thing; this has fulfilled its goal, to teach Roman Catholic laity to know, love, and use the traditional services to the fullest. In other words, to have Catholic renewal, you didn't have to rewrite the worship services. So Vatican II was unnecessary. The TLM I used to go to on Sundays is a dialogue Sung Mass. So, according to C, H, & W, if you actively participate at the TLM you're just a "self-selected" snob (Cardinal Roche: those damned kids and their computer web!); you must use the worship service "intentionally structured to elicit and emphasize active participation." The venerable Thomas Day, the great explainer of the American Romish Church, good, bad, old, and new, has mentioned what I've seen, that many rank-and-file Romans don't make a sound in church, barely putting up with C, H, & W's Spirit-filled worship. And NOW who's worshipping religious form?
    • C, H, & W go charismatic on us, like the protestantizing ones in the 1970s: use the new Mass exclusively or you're blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit’s work of renewing the liturgy ... a defiant denial of the Spirit’s activity," etc. Here's a rebuttal from Peter Kwasniewski at 1 Peter 5: Games people play with the Holy Spirit.
    • When that doesn't work, the C, H, & W types can always fall back on a good-old-fashioned threat: obey! Do it or you're out of the church, not Catholic anymore. Implied: you're going to hell! Nothing on the ground has changed for me ecclesiastically, such as the Orthodox rite I live in, which I guess isn't really Spirit-filled because it's old, or maybe it's part-time Spirit-filled when the Romans are trying to be ecumenical or something, but, because I won't help suppress the TLM, if Bergoglio or a successor and his crew bother to kick me off the team, so be it.
  • Bergoglio appointee Robert McElroy's piece is a perfect example of present-day counterfeit Christianity. No more "sin no more, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me"; edited out. Stop harping on sexual sin: pretty convenient when your priests are infamous for chasing teenage boys. Then he thinks throwing one reference to the Trinity on it will fool Christians. The rest of it often does because it still rips off Christian ethics. And this gets rewarded with a red hat. Bergoglio and his wrecking crew are trying to destroy the church. This is no drill.
    • From the good Fr. Z(uhlsdorf): Just the facts, ma'am: how to make a short good old-fashioned confession. Kind and number of sins. Deep dives, conversations, are spiritual direction, eldership and spiritual fathers in Orthodox lingo, where it's really a monastic thing; something like most people "living in the world" I don't do. Confessors and queues don't have time to do that; make an appointment for it. I've found that keeping my distance from priests works best for me, certainly in the Catholic Church. Anyway, yes, examining your conscience to sincerely confess all grave matter in thought, word, and deed (yes, I just quoted Cranmer's Prayer Book), even if you fail but are sincere about sinning no more, is the golden way, the King's Highway, classic Catholicism; Orthodoxy too though they don't have the helpful distinction between mortal and venial sin. Their old school is to confess everything about once a year to receive Communion once a year or hardly more. Anyway, this is a staple of Catholicism that the Cardinal McElroys want to get rid of, leaving you with... mainline Protestantism, churches people don't go to anymore. Christianity's daughter religion among the elite and social climbers, wokeness, uses Christian ethics (so it sounds and feels right) but doesn't need churches. The schools and mass media will do.
  • Yep, Christianity's numbers are falling, especially mainline Protestantism. Normie Catholics are assimilating into extinction, Spirit-filled Novus Ordo services notwithstanding. Shane Schaetzel brings up two other interesting things. One, mainline Protestants are nicer than most Catholics about keeping old-fashioned worship services for people who want them; none of Bergoglio's or C, H, & W's "Obey the Spirit or go to hell!" vicious nonsense. (Fr. Feeney with crappy guitar hymns!) I'd like to hear them turn parochial and bigoted on a dime: "Oh, yeah? Well, I don't care! They're not Catholic and neither will you be." As Thomas Day has mentioned, Episcopalians know this worship option as Rite I, the services that still have thous and thees (ad orientem is okay too), on which the Anglican Use ordinariate Mass (looks and feels like the TLM) is based. Romans such as C, H, & W, and their Pope for that matter (but not all Roman bishops), are foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Rite I options: TLM and "reverent Novus Ordo." Second, Schaetzel's plan to keep the kids, sound doctrine, a traditional worship option, and relevance to the kids without compromise/pandering, sounds exactly like Benedict XVI's hermeneutic of continuity and my understanding of what Catholicism is until Bergoglio started tearing it down. "Hey, man; kids are turned off by your dogmatism." Okay, boomer. They don't take your church seriously either.
  • From NLM: no, Africa's not a Vatican II success story so no, contra Professor Biggest Beans at Villa-No-No University, you're not a racist for seeing that the traditional Mass is better. Inculturation is fine but anyway.
  • Temperamentally conservative churches are nice — not cults — but not enough. Rod Dreher: I can imagine that at least some of the conservatives are not at all ideological. When I was growing up in a Methodist church in the 1970s and early 1980s, you could call it conservative, but its conservatism had almost nothing to do with doctrine or politics, and everything to do with the fact that the congregation cherished stability, and wanted things to stay the same. I went through a brief period of Evangelical intensity when I was twelve and thirteen, and asked my mom to take me to worship at the local Baptist church, which I believed took doctrine more seriously. It wasn't that our family's Methodist parish was liberal, but rather that it avoided taking stands on anything, and folks seemed to like it that way. Its conservatism, at least during my childhood, was entirely temperamental. Point is, the term "conservative" can mean different things. The Episcopal parish I grew up with was like that as are the old ethnic Orthodox churches, the "Sportsmen's Clubs" (bar in the hall) I like. Sitting ducks for liberals to take over, as has happened to mainline Protestantism.
  • Meanwhile, in the Ukraine, the global American empire and its NATO vassals' proxy war on Russia has an ecclesiastical/cultural component. Both the Patriarchate of Constantinople's fake Orthodox church there — the real one's under Moscow — and the Uniates of Galicia, the Ukrainian Catholic Church (in the name of Vatican II on religious liberty and, related, American democracy), are spiting Russia and turning their backs on the country's culture by adopting the "Revised Julian Calendar," functionally the same as the Gregorian one, so Christmas is moving to Dec. 25, etc. I think they're keeping the Orthodox date for Easter, as most new-calendar Orthodox do. (The articles are in Ukrainian; shouldn't be a problem for your browser to translate.) Calendars are rules, not doctrine. This move is reminiscent of the Novus Ordo. Apparently "I stand with Ukraine" is really more Coca-colonialism; "let's remake the Ukraine in America's image." Today church allegiance and the church calendar, tomorrow the flag of many colors over the Kremlin. Reminds me of that Pizza Hut commercial with Gorbachev in it: in the Western narrative, East Slavs are dumb drunks running a gas station, willing to sell out their culture for some American trinkets. I wonder if the Ukraine's American puppet government (since 2014) will switch the country to the Latin alphabet. That'll show 'em. I used to like to say that most don't know that the Catholic Church has at least two Christmases. Not in Bergoglio's dream world of a "unitary" rite.
  • From Pastor Peters, one of the good guys, in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod: know what your church teaches.
  • Video: The FBI et al. are blacklisting traditional Catholics as a "hate group." Like that article in The Atlantic about their scary assault rosaries. New England Yankee Puritanism lives on in wokeness. More from the National Review (yeah, I know; don't trust normie Republicans).

Monday, January 09, 2023

Sharing Catholicism in 1989: one old priest and five kids, under the radar

I've mentioned a holy Catholic priest from "the old church" who soldiered on faithfully in the "new," keeping a low profile, doing what he was told liturgically but teaching the old faith, logically the only faith; ministering to people. A living example of Benedict XVI's hermeneutic of continuity. Here's another true story like that.

It's 1989 at an American Catholic college, one of the many that fell faithwise in the Sixties social revolution including Vatican II, intentionally or not, blowing up the European immigrant (Irish, Italian, Polish, and others) Catholic community in that country. The bishops were no great shakes, participating in that self-destruction, but anyway these colleges essentially disowned the church in 1967 in order to get government funding; not really Catholic colleges anymore, fortresses to defend the true faith, a different worldview and script from the rest of the country even though the rest was still mostly Christian, but colleges that only said they were Catholic.

This sports, frats, and business-school-minded place had really adopted the faith of "arriving" in Protestant American society, like the Kennedys: you can have it all including heaven as long as you're nice and PC, a get-along guy or girl, er, woman, with a nice beige accessory religion if you like as long as you don't make waves and it doesn't interfere with your real life... including making lots of money so you can give back to your alma mater! Basically, at the time this place, the recent winner of one sportsball championship, wanted to emulate America's powerhouse model of such schools (not really "universities"?), Noter Dayme in Indiana. I hear that now it wants to be more like the bigger, secular schools.

The school, started by a now-dying European religious order, as so many others, offered two in-house prayer and worship options that worked together, the theological Modernism (talking about truth is icky and prideful; just play nice - don't make waves, remember?) and unliturgical gimmickry of the school Masses ("THE church here at ABC U.," a perhaps well-meant but misguided notion of dumping traditional liturgics - a Catholic or Orthodox church is a temple as well as a fellowship gathering place - for a skit of the congregants ministering to each other) and wannabe evangelicalism, charismatics.

So you get the picture: not really interested in the Catholic faith anymore except, sort of, as a tribal/ethnic identity so the alumni keep giving and sending their kids and grandkids there.

In the midst of this were a few good souls like the parish priest I wrote about, not trying to have the banned traditional Latin Mass - being banned again as I type, the Catholic community now further breaking up, with a heretical Pope - but trying their best with the worship they were told to do.

In the middle of campus was "the monastery," really an old-folks home, largely retired priest teachers taken care of and kept out of view.

Thanks to one of these good souls, actually a sharp physics teacher who still had a course or two, trying to start a branch of the Irish 1920s lay apostolate the Legion of Mary at the school, another priest, born in 1899 (the only person born in the 1800s I know I've met), a retired sociologist (one of my favorite subjects by the way), and five kids, in their late teens and early 20s, met and started having weekly meetings in the parlor of "the monastery" so he could teach them the true faith in Jesus, true God and true man, right out of the old Roman catechisms and Radio Replies.

He even taught one of them to play a piece by Liszt on the piano. Christian civilization.

Also in "the monastery," in its little chapel not open to the public, these blessed five boys and girls and I got to see this priest make the best he could of the only worship he was allowed, the Novus Ordo in the bad English paraphrase a Pope would correct about 20 years later ("and with your spirit," not "and also with you"; important, "for you and for many," not "for you and for all" - fudging scripture was, to say the least, not cool), and "facing the people." He even got away with wearing a fine silk brocade Gothic chasuble with gold-threaded orphreys forming a cross, maybe something left over from before Vatican II (again, a Catholic church is a temple of sacrifice)... because it wasn't a public Mass. So it wasn't introibo ad altare Dei (the traditional Mass) or ad orientem ("his back to the people"), but the first time I'd seen any Catholic try to do high-church, "reverent" Novus Ordo. Something that I later saw you could find in England if you were looking for it (even though the country is very irreligious, much more than America - lots of little centuries-old reminders of Christian, even Catholic tradition in the culture). But here, the true faith was literally hidden behind a locked door out of shame.

I'm not saying worship services don't matter - the history of Catholic practice says they do - but rather that limitations on them need not stop you.

As I write it seems the authentic Catholic Church, which actually follows its teachings, is heading back into a shadowy, underground-like existence.

Good can come of it.

Thanks, Fr. Richard M. Plunkett. RIP.