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.