31 December 2007

Mortalium Animos: The Antidote to Ecumania

The eightieth anniversary of Mortalium Animos, the encyclical of Pope Pius XI on Christian Unity, will occur on the Feast of the Epiphany. There is excellent coverage of this encyclical at Rorate Caeli. This encyclical should be read from the pulpits to counteract the ecumenical wave that runs roughshod over adherence to Catholic truth, foments confusion among the faithful, and does a grave disservice to non-Catholics.

When I first read this encyclical, I was blown away. The notion that unity already exists in the Catholic Church without regard to the existence of heretical sects should have course been obvious to me. But it wasn't. Compare Mortalium Animos and Ut Unim Sint and tell me that something isn't quite right with any approach to ecumenism that is not, as the liberals deride, an "ecumenism of return."

This is a fine example of Rorate Caeli doing what it does best.

30 December 2007

Year-End Review: Short Version

2007 brought us Summorum Pontificum

But it also brought us Sanjaya Malakar.  


Let's call it a wash.

29 December 2007

A Good Occasion to Pray for Archbishop Burke

Today is the feast day of St. Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury who was martyred in 1170 by agents of the King.  St. Thomas defended the rights of the Church from encroachment by the crown, earning the King's ire and prompting the famous royal outburst-- "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?"  Well, someone did.

In different circumstances of course, the steadfastness and courage of Archbishop Burke remind me of St. Thomas.  He has earned the ire of the "rulers" of our day, the media, the scoffers, the great democratic goal of pure license.  Let us remember him in our prayers today.

28 December 2007

Count Your Blessings

The above photo, from Catholic Church Conservation, shows a Solemn High Mass in Germany just after the war. It teaches us what is truly important.

Does This Concern Anyone Else?

On the multimedia page of STLToday, there is a photo of a Catholic Priest conducting a Kwanzaa ceremony on the altar of a Catholic Church. Thanks to Catholic Church Conservation for capturing the above image.

The caption reads as follows: The Rev. George Kintiba, pastor of St. Nicholas Catholic Church performs a ceremony lighting of [sic] the candle marking the first of seven days of Kwanzaa Wednesday at the Church's altar. The first candle represents the first day's principle of Umoja, meaning unity. St. Nicholas will have nightly celebrations of Kwanzaa for all seven days.

The link at STLToday is here, and it is listed as photo 1, but I don't know how soon this page will be revised. You can pause the sideshow for easier viewing.

It is simply unthinkable, whatever one's opinion about the legitimacy of Kwanzaa as a holiday, that a Catholic priest would deign to perform a non-Catholic ceremonial on a Catholic altar. This outrage is compounded by the fact that Kwanzaa has certain spiritual elements attached to it. Notice that St. Nicholas will have celebrations of Kwanzaa all seven nights. St. Nicholas?! The patron saint of this church must be most displeased with the irony.

Thanks to the reader who passed this along.

Reminder-- Cardinal George at Shrine of Christ the King Tomorrow

From the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest:

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George will visit the Institute of Christ the King's Chicago headquarters, the Shrine of Christ the King, on Saturday, December 29th at 1:30 PM. His Eminence, the president of the USCCB, will attend a Solemn High Mass and crown the precious, recently acquired statue of the Divine Infant King. All are invited to attend!The church building, until now "gutted," has been cleaned and beautifully prepared for this occasion, and will now be used regularly as construction work allows. Funds are still being sought to restore the church. Details about the restoration project are available at historic-landmark.org. All donations are most gratefully accepted.

You can see pictures of the Shrine Church here, as it now appears after being gutted and during the ongoing restoration. This is simply amazing, and why I think donating to the Institute is money well-spent. They always, always, make sacred spaces feel sacred. They are always reverent. And they have a great sense of art, beauty and style. If they can do this in a very temporary setting, think of what they can do with the finished product. For example, the north sacristy at St. Francis de Sales was restored in the last year. Pictures here.

27 December 2007

For Parents

There is a new Veggie Tales Movie opening in January.  From LifesiteNews:

New Veggie Tale Movie Opens in Theatres January 11, 2008

By John-Henry Westen 

...On January 11, 2008, Universal Pictures and Big Idea, makers of 2002's wildly successful Jonah-A VeggieTales Movie, present The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - A VeggieTales Movie. The CG-animated adventure, from Big Idea's enormously popular VeggieTales franchise is a new story of heroism in the beloved VeggieTales' world.  Big Idea founder Phil Vischer and his partner Mike Nawrocki have brought another family friendly film to the big screen.

The new adventure follows three wanna-be hero vegetable pals zapped into the past and called to real heroism. 
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything must each face their fears-becoming unlikely heroes in a battle to rescue a royal family from an evil tyrant, and themselves from living the life of common couch potatoes...

NCR Knows What's at Stake

The National "Catholic" Reporter has an article stating its position on the recent moves by the Holy Father to restore the sense of sacredness in the Church's liturgy. No surprises here-- it decries these steps and whines that there is "no going back" on the liturgical "reforms" since post-Vatican II. But what I find noteworthy is that NCR understands exactly what is at stake, better than many conservative Catholics. The Mass reflects, informs and transmits what we believe: about God, about us, and about the Church. It is the most important issue facing the Church. Full article above, excerpts below:

Issue Date: December 28, 2007
Liturgy reform: No going back

When the definitive history of the Second Vatican Council is finally written, beyond all squabbles over the council’s actual intent, one undisputed fact will stand -- that taking up the draft for the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy as the first focus of debate had a decisive impact on the tone and direction the council took in all its subsequent deliberations. Though the discussion was liturgy, the real subject was ecclesiology -- the church’s understanding of itself.

By invoking the church in biblical terms as the pilgrim people of God and as the body of Christ, Vatican II set the stage for a crucial shift away from the juridical “perfect society” embodied in the unabashedly monarchical church of Trent. Nowhere would this be reflected more clearly than in the way the church prayed. The throne room protocols of the Tridentine Mass, the elevations, barriers, brocade, structures and language separating clergy from laity gave way to a worshiping community in which all the baptized were called to full, conscious, active participation. A new way of worshiping marked the beginning of the end of the vertical ecclesiology that for 500 years had shaped every aspect of the church’s life and ministry around hierarchical and clerical preeminence. The council carried the same biblical imagery and expansive approach into the major constitutions on the church and the church in the modern world.


If liturgy has characteristically been below the radar for most Catholics, opponents of Vatican II knew from the outset that the one way to preserve Trent was to halt liturgical reform. To look back over the 42 years since the close of the council is to see that progress in the reform has been real but slow, and to admit that any awakening of Catholic laity to their full baptismal identity is still in the future. At the same time, those devoted at many levels to a pre-Vatican II model of the church have worked hard to bring down many aspects of liturgical reform.

Frustrating the process of vernacular translations, crimping the rubrics for Mass to accentuate the ordained and, most recently, restoring the Tridentine rite, are among the more visible signs of successful retrenchment.

But there really is no turning back. “Vatican II helped us to rediscover the idea of the priesthood as something universal,” Marini said in an interview. “The faithful don’t receive permission from priests to participate in the Mass. They are members of a priestly people, which means they have the right to participate in offering the sacrifice of the Mass. This was a great discovery, a great emphasis, of the council. We have to keep this in mind, because otherwise we run the risk of confusion about the nature of the liturgy, and for that matter, the church itself.”...

26 December 2007

Pope Benedict and the Aesthetics of the Mass

This article appeared in the latest National Review Online.  It gives a cultural perspective on the liturgical reform furthered by the Holy Father.

Mysterious Encounters

Benedict XVI resurrects the aesthetics of the Mass.

By Michael Knox Beran

In a recent address to the bishops and priests of St. Peter’s, Pope Benedict called for a greater “continuity with tradition” in the music of the Church, and spoke of the value of the Church’s older musical traditions, among them the baroque sacred music of the 17th and 18th centuries and Gregorian Chant. The address followed the pope’s issuance, in July, of an Apostolic Letter(accompanying letter in English here) in which he permitted broader use of the Latin Mass, the “Tridentine” rite authorized by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century and promulgated most recently by John XXIII in 1962.

The pope’s pronouncements were received with skepticism by those who regard his views on sacred music, like his sympathy for the Latin Mass, as so much reactionary old-fogeyism. But neither the pope’s critics nor even many of his supporters appear to have grasped what His Holiness is up to.

Full article here.

24 December 2007

Merry Christmas!

Puer natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis: cujus imperium super humerum ejus: et vocabitur nomen ejus, magni consilii Angelus.

A Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us: Whose government is upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called the Angel of great counsel.

I want to wish all of you a very merry and blessed Christmas.  I pray that you and your families receive abundantly the blessings of Christ this season.

23 December 2007

Letter to the Editor: A Case Study

The following letter to the editor appeared in this week's
St. Louis Review:


I wonder if the few people who are so insistent in bringing back the Latin Mass can speak and understand the language.  

If so, fine, but if not it's like when I attend Mass in another country where the liturgy is in the local dialect.  I would have no idea what's going on if I didn't know the Mass, and even then I feel isolated.

As a youngster, I served at Mass when it was in the Latin Rite.  I knew the Latin responses but had no idea what they meant.

For the last 40-plus years people in this country have been able to participate at Mass in the language they know.  So, for the sake of the young people, keep the Mass as it is.

This is really a very unremarkable and typical anti-"Latin Mass" letter to the editor.  Anyone who cares to write one will almost certainly be rewarded by the editor of the Review with the necessary space, paper and ink to have it published.  This letter is not particularly resentful, nor is it one of the least intelligible I have seen.  All the more reason to analyze it.

I wanted to post it in its entirety first, to give you the sense of it, before undertaking a critique.  The essential points of the letter are ones that those who support the traditional Mass have to be ready to refute, in charity, time and time again.  Below is the letter once more with my comments interspersed in green.

I wonder if the few people who are so insistent in bringing back the Latin Mass can speak and understand the language.  

1.  Right away, the ad hominem attack.  Those who support the traditional Mass are "few".  Thus, in the democratic spirit of many in the Church, the cause cannot be good.  I wonder if it matters that even if it were a matter of "few" wanting this Mass, that their number includes his Archbishop and, more importantly, the Holy Father himself?  

And of course every place that celebrates the traditional Mass has seen sustained growth.  The seminaries of traditional orders are bursting.  Those dioceses that are more orthodox have greater numbers of vocations--e.g., Lincoln and St. Louis.  On the contrary, liturgical foolishness, dissent and heterodoxy produce a dearth of vocations.  The statistical evidence is all on the side of tradition. Anyone who doubts the effect of the departure from tradition in the last forty years should read Ken Jones' fine book, "Index of Leading Catholic Indicators."

2.  The "Latin Mass" is any Mass said in Latin.  The ordinary as well as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite can be celebrated in Latin.  And should be, if one wishes to follow the intention of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium.  Every traditional Catholic knows this, but due to the success of the disinformation campaign and lack of adequate catechesis in the last forty years,  it needs to be repeated often.

3.  God understands the Latin language just fine.  Perfectly well, actually.  Isn't that the relevant audience for our prayers?  But even focusing on the congregation, as befits the immanentist mindset of the day, the insinuation that most people "don't understand what's going on" because of the language is simply false.  It assumes that the Mass attendee will attend Mass once and never again.  How can the charge of lack of understanding be maintained with a straight face when one considers that the minimally-attending Catholic will likely assist at many hundreds of Masses in the course of his life?  I mean, really, after 10, or 20, or one year's worth, can one fail to grasp that the English on one side of the his Missal corresponds with the Latin on the other side?  That hearing and reading these prayers over and over will give a working knowledge of the Latin of the Mass?

If so, fine, but if not it's like when I attend Mass in another country where the liturgy is in the local dialect.  I would have no idea what's going on if I didn't know the Mass, and even then I feel isolated.

1.  Actually, not really.  Latin serves as a language of worship-- a language set apart for the things of God.  It is not merely a less common other-vernacular, like Spanish, Catalan, German, Italian, French or any other language in which I have heard Mass.  Other world religions have their dedicated liturgical language.  Other rites of the Catholic Church have their particular language.  The language of the Latin Rite is Latin.  

And one would know what was going on precisely because a.) the language is the same the world over, and b.) the situation of Latin, in that it is not commonly spoken today, prevents the kind of ad lib liturgy that could cause confusion to the out-of-town attendee.  If the traditional Mass were the only form of the Roman Rite,  every Mass a Catholic attends, no matter the country or region, would be exactly the same, and thus he would know exactly what was going on.

2.  Furthermore, the language should not isolate him, if by isolate he means to be cut off from the Church Militant, the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant, with whom he unites his intentions at Mass.  Jesus is present on the altar, and we receive Him in Holy Communion.  However, the traditional Mass, unlike the typical Mass at many parishes, does allow the worshiper to have a certain "space" of interior silence so that he can be alone with his God.  He does not constantly have to say something out loud.  He does not have to try to focus his prayers and intentions in competition with the music of Marty Haugen.  The din is absent-- but that is a good thing.

As a youngster, I served at Mass when it was in the Latin Rite.  I knew the Latin responses but had no idea what they meant.

With all due respect, if he served the Mass often then failure to know what the responses meant is his fault alone.  The Latin-English Missal was not invented in 1988.  

For the last 40-plus years people in this country have been able to participate at Mass in the language they know.  So, for the sake of the young people, keep the Mass as it is.

1.  The writer repeats the common misunderstanding of what "participation" at Mass really means.  It is not mere talking.  Real participation is an interior disposition.  There are so many ways to demonstrate this that I cannot do the effort justice here, but one approach that I have found successful with friends and family who only attend the novus ordo is to ask them this:  "At what point in your parish's typical Mass do you feel you are most actively participating?"  Almost always, the answer I get is either "at the Consecration" or "when receiving Communion".  At which point I ask, "What are you saying at this point?"  The answer is "nothing", or at most, a solitary and receptive "amen" to the action of the priest.

2.  The fact that the writer served the traditional Mass in his youth belies his final point that the young people will be harmed by the restoration of the Mass of his youth.  As he said, he served more than 40 years ago.  For 40 years, people (not just) in this country have been able to participate at Mass in the language they know.  With what result?  Is the Mass more well-attended than it was in his youth?  Are Churches closing because they cannot hold the numbers of the faithful, or is it because the people have abandoned the Church that offers them the Mass in the language they understand?
Perhaps the writer has not assisted at a traditional Mass in the last few years.  If he did, he would see the pews crowded with people of all ages, and especially the young.  Lots of young families with many children.  The traditional Mass is the future of the Church.  The Mass that nourished countless Saints, the Mass that was confirmed in the wake of the Council of Trent but which existed in its essential form for over a thousand years before Trent, this Mass is a faithful and transcendent expression of the faith we believe.

For the sake of the young people, let the traditional Mass flourish!

22 December 2007

Carmelites to Have Monthly Masses in the Extraordinary Form

More evidence of the growth and appeal of the Traditional Mass in St. Louis in the wake of Summorum Pontificum:  The Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus will have Mass in the Extraordinary Form once a month, on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 a.m.  These Masses will take place in the Chapel of the St. Agnes Home, which is one of the order's apostolates and also the location of their convent for the Central Province of the U.S.

The first such Mass will occur on Wednesday, January 9, 2007 at 7 a.m.  Father Thomas Keller will say Mass.  The Sisters already have commitments in the coming months from Father Edward Richard and Monsignor Ted Wojcicki, Vice-Rector and Rector, respectively, of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.  Masses are open to the public.

St. Agnes Home
Carmelite Sisters D.C.J.
10341 Manchester Road
Kirkwood MO 63122


St. Louis Review on the Seminary Expansion

Confirming what was reported here first (thanks to a very helpful source), the Review covers the expansion of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.  

21 December 2007

The Christmas Display at Bill McClellan's House? Ignorance.

Just in time for Christmas, Bill McClellan decides that Sylvester Brown's inane commentary on Archbishop Burke is not inane enough. So, of course, he criticizes the Archbishop with his oh-so-subtle "wit". See, it's all in good fun-- wink, wink!

From the article at STLToday:

During an earlier struggle between the board of St. Stanislaus and the Archdiocese of St. Louis, I suggested that Archbishop Raymond Burke would be well-served if he had a wife to give him counsel. Such frank and loving counsel is beneficial for all men, but especially, I suspect, for powerful men.

He then recounts a fictional dialogue between the Archbishop and his wife:

"There is nothing wrong with holiday cheer, Raymond."

"I have plenty of it, Martha."

"I know you do, Raymond, but nobody else knows that. It seems like every holiday season, you're angry at somebody. It was during the Christmas season that you announced your intention to declare the board at St. Stanislaus excommunicated. This year, you're angry with Rabbi Susan Talve."

"She had no right to provide legitimacy to that charade about women priests, Martha."

"Oh, Raymond. There was no legitimacy to that service. Who took it seriously? It's not as if those women are actually Roman Catholic priests now. Perhaps Susan shouldn't have gotten involved in that whole business, but she did, and that's that. We can either live with it, or make it a bigger deal than it is. Besides, you know how I feel about women and the church. …"

"Love trumps scandal, Raymond. 'Love thine enemy. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who use you and persecute you.' Matthew didn't write about scandal. He wrote about love."...

"...Speaking of the media, we'll invite some of them, too."

"Martha! I don't even talk to the media."

"That's why they portray you as a grumpy man who spends too much time worrying about rules and so-called scandal. And we'll invite the board from St. Stans. And those two women who want to be priests. God bless them for wanting to serve. We all love the same Lord. And I'm sure Catholic Charities could suggest some needy families who would really appreciate a party."

There is more of this tripe in the article if you can handle it. Gee, I never knew about that "love your enemies" bit until Bill McClellan was good enough to point that out. Excuse me, Bill, but I think your effort at humor fails, and that you are in over your head when you pass judgment on the Catholic Church and our Archbishop. I notice you didn't take any shots at the Rabbi, the Priestettes, or St. Stan's Board. No, just the easy mark. Look out for a lump of coal this Christmas.

Relic of the Crèche of Bethlehem at St. Francis de Sales Oratory

From the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest:

This year for the first time, the faithful attending the Midnight Mass and the 10am Solemn High Mass on Christmas will have the occasion to venerate the relic of the crèche of Bethlehem at the end of these two Masses. We hope that this veneration will inflame in our hearts the love for the newborn King of Heaven and Earth who gave His life for our redemption: Sic nos amantem, quis non redamaret – how could we not love in turn Him who loved us so much. Venite, adoremus – O come, let us adore Him!

With my best wishes for a blessed and spiritually fruitful celebration of this Holy Christmas Season

Yours devotedly in Christ the King

Fr. Karl W. Lenhardt
Episcopal Delegate/Rector/Vice Provincial

I'm Still Waiting for My Congratulatory Call from the President

For my growing family. But I can't take all the credit. Finally, some decent news on the birth dearth front:

U.S. Fertility Rate Hits 35-Year High, Stabilizing Population

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 21, 2007

For the first time in 35 years, the U.S. fertility rate has climbed high enough to sustain a stable population, solidifying the nation's unique status among industrialized countries.

The overall fertility rate increased 2 percent between 2005 and 2006, nudging the average number of babies being born to each woman to 2.1, according to the latest federal statistics. That marks the first time since 1971 that the rate has reached a crucial benchmark of population growth: the ability of each generation to replace itself.

"It's been quite a long time since we've had a rate this high," said Stephanie J. Ventura of the National Center for Health Statistics. "It's a milestone."

While the rising fertility rate was unwelcome news to some environmentalists, the "replacement rate" is generally considered desirable by demographers and sociologists because it means a country is producing enough young people to replace and support aging workers without population growth being so high it taxes national resources.


The reasons for the unusual U.S. fertility rate are the focus of intense interest. Experts can only speculate, but they cite a complex mix of factors, including lower levels of birth control use than in other developed countries, widely held religious values that encourage childbearing, social conditions that make it easier for women to work and have families, and a growing Hispanic population.


Some of the increase is explained by immigration. Hispanics have the highest fertility rate -- about 2.9 -- followed by blacks (2.1), Asians (1.9) and whites (1.86). But Hispanics do not represent enough of the population to fully explain the trend, and the fertility rate of U.S. whites is still higher than that of other developed countries.


The nation's religiosity also contributes to the higher fertility rate, which varies geographically, experts said. Red states tend to have both more religious people and higher fertility rates.

"Americans are much more religious than Europeans: They believe in God more. They go to church more," said Charles Westoff, a Princeton University demographer. "That sort of religious attitude or set of values is strongly correlated with fertility."


But not everyone sees that as encouraging, given that the United States remains a leading consumer of increasingly scarce natural resources.

"The world is now consuming resources faster than the Earth can sustain over the longer term," said Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute. "Forests are shrinking. Fisheries are collapsing. Water tables are falling. Large parts of the world's grasslands are deteriorating. The U.S. is already disproportionately responsible for that because of our very high consumption levels."

This story highlights the coming showdown between radical environmentalists trumping global warming and the Church that upholds and defends the sanctity of human life. Stay tuned. Today's Herods push for a carbon tax on all new children, while protecting a woman's "right to choose". More subtle than the original, but still effective.

20 December 2007

Lost Ending to "It's a Wonderful Life"

This is an old SNL skit. You've probably seen it, but every year when I watch the original I keep thinking about why nobody ever "took care" of Potter.

19 December 2007

Good News from West County

from a reader comes this report:

The Archbishop has asked the Oratory of St. Gregory and St. Augustine to have another traditional Mass each week because the 10:30 is so crowded.

Beginning this Sunday there will also be a 7:30am Low Mass.

18 December 2007

Peter Jackson to Produce Two Hobbit Movies

Cool. The maker of the Lord of the Rings movies will produce "The Hobbit" and a sequel.

From Reuters:

Jackson and studios agree to make Hobbit films

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After months of bitter legal wrangling, Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc have agreed to make two movies based on the book "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien.

In a statement Tuesday, the companies said Jackson, the director of the smash hit "Lord of the Rings" movies, and producer Fran Walsh will executive produce both a "Hobbit" movie and a sequel, but Jackson was not named as the director...

Bryan Adams, Beware!

If it cuts like a knife, it won't feel so right at Sunrise Elementary School in Ocala, Florida. As society loses all sense of morality based on religion, natural law or even a shared cultural heritage, more laws have to be passed with less discretion given to the law enforcers. Finally, logic and common sense take a holiday. If you have a culture of death that leads to a Columbine, then you need to arrest 10-year-olds who use kitchen knives to cut their food at lunch.

Knife At Lunch Gets 10-Year-Old Girl Arrested At School

POSTED: 5:41 pm EST December 14, 2007
UPDATED: 4:36 pm EST December 17, 2007

OCALA, Fla. -- A 10-year old Ocala girl brought her lunch to school and a small kitchen knife to cut it. She now faces a felony charge after being arrested. The school and the sheriff's office disagree on the reason for the arrest.

School officials say the 5th grader was brown-bagging it. She brought a piece of steak for her lunch, but she also brought a steak knife. That's when deputies were called.

It happened in the cafeteria at Sunrise Elementary School. The 10-year-old used the knife to cut the meat.

"She did not use it inappropriately. She did not threaten anyone with it. She didn't pull it out and brandish it. Nothing of that nature," explained Marion County School Spokesman Kevin Christian.

But a couple of teachers took the utensil and called the sheriff. When deputies arrived, they were unable to get the child's parents on the phone, so they arrested her and took her to the county's juvenile assessment center.


Full story here.

I think the real reason for the arrest is that the teachers were jealous that a 10-year-old was able to bring steak for lunch.

17 December 2007

Return to Tradition

U.S. News and World Report has published its entry in the growing number of national articles on the resurgence of religious traditionalism in Catholicism and other religions:

A Return to Tradition
A new interest in old ways takes root in Catholicism and many other faiths

By Jay Tolson

Posted December 13, 2007

Worshipers come to St. Mary, Mother of God in downtown Washington, D.C., for various reasons, but many say that a big draw is the Tridentine Latin mass that is said here every Sunday. Soon, St. Mary may be less well known for that distinctive liturgical offering than for the number of big-name government and media types that occupy its pews. Now that Pope Benedict XVI has loosened the restrictions on churches that want to observe the pre-Vatican II rite, more parishes are availing themselves of the option. Call it part of a larger conservative shift within the church—one that includes a renewed emphasis on such practices as personal confession and reciting the rosary as well as a resurgent interest in traditional monastic and religious orders.

But this shift extends beyond the Roman Catholic Church...

Something curious is happening in the wide world of faith, something that defies easy explanation or quantification. More substantial than a trend but less organized than a movement, it has to do more with how people practice their religion than with what they believe, though people caught up in this change often find that their beliefs are influenced, if not subtly altered, by the changes in their practice.

Put simply, the development is a return to tradition and orthodoxy, to past practices, observances, and customary ways of worshiping. But it is not simply a return to the past—at least not in all cases. Even while drawing on deep traditional resources, many participants are creating something new within the old forms. They are engaging in what Penn State sociologist of religion Roger Finke calls "innovative returns to tradition."


"Hype." Some liberal Catholic clergy are completely skeptical about the scope and meaning of the traditionalist turn. "It's more hype than reality," says the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and political scientist at Georgetown's Woodstock Theological Center. Reese thinks the church should focus less on the Latin mass than on the three things that draw most churchgoers: "good preaching, good music, and a welcoming community." He is equally dubious about all the attention being devoted to the habit-wearing Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and a few other traditional religious orders that have enjoyed an uptick in younger members. "I have no problem with their habits," says Reese. "On the other hand, if the church ordained women, we'd have thousands more women coming forward."

But Sister Patricia Wittberg, a sociologist at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, sees more substance in the new traditionalism. "I think churches that can articulate what they do and what they stand for tend to grow better." ...

Full story at the link above.

Fr. Reese and other so-called liberals continue to maintain the party line. Not pleased with the exponential growth of traditional Mass communities, they will continue to insist that the (impossible) ordination of women and fulfillment of other liberal demands will staunch the loss of Catholic parishioners and replenish the numbers of priests. Perhaps he even believes it. Who knows.

The time of the carnival liturgy is nearing its end. As with any kind of demise, there may be some kind of short-term hysterics in its death throes, but it will pass soon enough, by the mercy of God.

Update on the Restoration and Repair of St. Francis de Sales' Steeple

From the Rector, Fr. Lenhardt:

Since the foundation of St. Francis de Sales Oratory in July 2005 we have worked on preliminary studies to investigate the extension and origin of the movement, the geological reasons it and the possibilities to stabilize this structure. With your financial help and with the help and supervision of the archdiocesan Office of Building and Real Estate the administration of the oratory has spent almost $150,000 for the preliminary work of architects and engineers. During this month of December we received the results of their work. The good news is, our steeple will not collapse immediately, as mockers said, the bad news is it needs serious repair. The restoration of the steeple will cost $1.3 million. The sooner we begin the work the better it is and the more future damage we will be able to prevent. Therefore, we ask you for your help and your support. You can help us in many different ways, through your donations and through your prayers, but also by spreading the word about the needs of one of the most important and beautiful churches in St. Louis.

Please, contact our office for further information. 314-771-3100

In his letter, Father also included some statistics from the Oratory in the past year:

This year 2007 St. Francis de Sales Oratory has seen:

19 Baptisms
11 Weddings
5 Funerals
34 Confirmations
2 Conversions to the Catholic Church
1 Adult Baptism
About 700 hours of confessions were heard by the clergy of the oratory.

We invite you to celebrate with us the 140th Christmas at St. Francis de Sales.

Christmas Schedule
Monday, December 24, Christmas Eve
11pm: Confessions
11:30pm: Christmas carols
12:am: Midnight Mass

Tuesday, December 25, Nativity of the Lord, Christmas
(Dec. 24) 12am-Midnight Mass
8am, Low Mass with organ: Missa in aurora
10am, Solemn High Mass: Missa in die


Ordinary schedule of Masses at the Oratory:
Daily: 8:00am Low Mass
Sunday: 8:00am Low Mass, 10:00 Solemn High Mass
Tuesday: 6:30pm Low Mass, followed by Perpetual Help devotions
Wednesday: 8am; 12:00 NOON, Low Mass
Thursday: 7:00pm Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament with Benediction
First Friday: 7:00pm Solemn High Mass
Holy Days: 8:00am, and 12:10pm, 7:00pm Solemn High Mass
Confessions/ Holy Rosary 30mins before all Masses

Thanking you for all of your help and your commitment, I wish you and your beloved ones all the heavenly blessings of the advent and birth of our Divine Redeemer.

Yours devotedly in Christ the King
Fr. Karl W. Lenhardt
Episcopal Delegate/Rector/Vice Provincial

If you are looking for a worthy tax-deductible recipient for donations before the end of the tax year, the Oratory fits the bill well.

Two Posts of Interest on the Heresy Front...

at AMDG, first of the upcoming appearance by Fr. Peter Phan at Aquinas Institute-- part of that institution's ongoing effort to promote heterodoxy and confusion.

The second is of our delusional friends' comical ceremony in which they pretend to be ordained. This video is simultaneously hilarious, nauseating and infuriating. Two questions immediately came to my mind: 1. What is it with these people and the dancing bowls of incense? 2. What were the saints doing when this crowd had the temerity to invoke their aid in this schismatic and blasphemous effort?

Nice catch, AMDG.

Christmas Schedule at the Oratory

If you haven't been to St. Francis de Sales before, Christmas season is a great time to do so. Midnight Mass is especially beautiful. Click on the picture above for a larger image.

16 December 2007

Gifts for the Traditional Catholic

For those who have already finished their Christmas shopping, today's Mass is for you:

Again I say, rejoice!

Unfortunately, I haven't even started.  So, to wile the time away, I tried to come up with a quick list of some gifts that a traditionally-minded Catholic would enjoy.  

The list below is just the barest of lists, but I hope you find it helpful.  And I invite anybody to add some ideas in the comments box.

Like I said, just a quick list; I am sure I'm missing a lot.  Merry Christmas!

15 December 2007

Seminary Expansion Confirmed by Archbishop Burke

Confirmation of the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary expansion came yesterday as His Grace addressed the seminarians themselves last evening.  Some highlights:

- What is currently a large (mostly unused) gym-like multi-purpose area on the second floor will be renovated to create some 16 or 17 new dorm rooms. 

- Several faculty members currently have offices in former seminarian rooms. These rooms will be returned to the seminarians, creating another 15 or so dorm rooms. 

- New faculty offices and several new classrooms are included in the plan. 

- The HVAC system and plumbing will be overhauled. 

- A new library building will be constructed.

- Happily, the main chapel will be renovated in order to, among other reasons, allow for the more dignified celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass. 

- A small chapel will be installed on the second floor for private Masses. 
- More guest rooms will be created.

An early Christmas present to the Seminary and to the Archdiocese.  The importance of an orthodox, vibrant priestly seminary in the Archdiocese cannot be overstated.  The Archbishop himself addressed this issue earlier this year here and here.

14 December 2007

Artist and Subject

Pope Benedict's official portrait and Natalia Tsarkova, the artist who painted it.

It's All in the Presentation

The St. Louis Review covered the recently released book by Abp. Piero Marini, the longtime Papal Master of Ceremonies who was lately removed and replaced by Msgr. Guido Marini (no relation). The change of scene for the Archbishop has been widely viewed as a repudiation by the Holy Father of the modernist-style liturgies that had marked the former Marini's tenure. Though Msgr. Marini has not held the position for very long, there have been some immediately noticeable developments.

Under the new Master of Ceremonies, the altar crucifix and is back at front and center.

Under the new Master of Ceremonies, Papal vestments have once again become more traditional and dignified-- for example:

Old Marini (left); New Marini (right)

Now, some see the photo at left as a manifestation of "progress" and "renewal". Some suppress a gag reflex. Some see the photo at right as a manifestation of "a return to a preconciliar mindset". Some rejoice. It all depends on your point of view.

So, back to the Review's story. Here is an excerpt. I will leave it to the reader to infer the opinion of the writer.

New book describes liturgical battles
by John Thavis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a new book, a Vatican archbishop has chronicled the birth pangs of the liturgical reform generated by the Second Vatican Council and warned of a Roman Curia tendency to return to a "preconciliar mindset."

The book, "A Challenging Reform," was written by Archbishop Piero Marini, who recently ended a 20-year tenure as papal liturgist. His Vatican career began in 1965 in the office responsible for implementing liturgical renewal.

Archbishop Marini recounted the rise of a decentralized and dynamic reform movement in the 1960s and its "curialization" in the 1970s by Vatican officials afraid of losing control...

Archbishop Burke on Pastoral Direction in a Relativistic Society

Including a warning about The Golden Compass. From the Archbishop's column in the St. Louis Review:

...Respect and obedience toward our pastors in the Church is a particular challenge in today’s society, which views everything in relation to what each individual thinks and wants. Pastors who have the solemn responsibility to teach and uphold the truths of the faith, that is, the objective reality of our relationship with God, with one another and with our world, become very unpopular and are openly rejected when they fulfill their responsibilities toward the flock in their care.

The secular media, which reflect very much the relativism rampant in our society, view the pastoral authority of the Church as extremism. When the Holy Father, the bishops and parish priests enunciate the Church’s teaching on the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, for example, they are labeled "the religious right." Easily enough, secular thinking enters the Church, remaking pastoral authority according to its own image while, at the same time, ridiculing and even resisting any firm teaching or discipline given by the Church’s pastors.

Recently, the pastors in our nation have cautioned the faithful, especially parents, regarding the film "The Golden Compass." Through George Henry, superintendent of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, parents and teachers were warned that the author of the books ("His Dark Materials," by Philip Pullman) from which the movie is drawn is an avowed atheist who has a particular hatred of the Catholic Church.

As archbishop, I caution all Catholics regarding the atheistic and anti-Catholic nature of Pullman’s writings, upon which "The Golden Compass" is based. If you wish further and more in-depth information, I recommend the publication of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, "The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked," which can be obtained through the League’s website, www.catholicleague.org. I also commend the book by Peter Vere and Sandra Miesel, "Pied Piper of Atheism: Philip Pullman and Children’s Fantasy," published by Ignatius Press (www.ignatius.com).

Before concluding, I wish also to correct an erroneous statement made in a commentary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "After ruckus over its roots, ‘Compass’ film mollifies some" (Dec. 8, 2007, p. A23). The commentary claims that the Catholic bishops of our nation viewed the film and praised it. The statement is false. A most defective review of the film was published by Catholic News Service. The review has by now been removed from the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The review was not based on a viewing of the film by bishops and was not endorsed by the bishops.


The Season of Advent inspires in us a new devotion to what is most sacred to us, our Catholic faith, prayer and the sacraments, and the discipline of living in Christ. The strong grace of the season fortifies us to promote the understanding of the Catholic Church, in which Christ, our Good Shepherd, is alive and at work for our eternal salvation. It also inspires us to safeguard and defend our Catholic faith and practice from those who would ridicule, desecrate or attack what is most sacred to us. In our society, we as Catholics need to pray especially for the courage to stand up for what we believe, to give an account of our Catholic faith to others, and to resist those who ridicule or misrepresent our faith.

Please pray, too, for us who are your pastors that we will remain strong in teaching the Catholic faith and in giving sound guidance in living the Catholic faith, especially amid the confusion of a society blinded by materialism and relativism. Finally, we trust that Christ, Who continues to shepherd His flock daily in the Church, acts in priests, bishops and the Holy Father, to promote and safeguard the faith in its integrity. May our observance of Advent strengthen us in welcoming Christ with obedience and docility.

Timely remarks in light of the St. Cronan's situation and the recent press coverage of the Archdiocese.

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary to Expand

There are reliable indications that the Archbishop will soon announce a major expansion of the facilities of the Archdiocesan Seminary.

The seminary's enrollment increased this year by 50%, with all signs pointing to another increase in enrollment next year. The seminary has simply run out of room.

Architectural plans have been submitted to His Grace for approval. A new residence hall is certainly needed, and perhaps a new library and other facilities are in the works.

This is great news, of course. But another reason to be grateful is the faithful, orthodox and pastoral care of the Archbishop that has led to the increase in the number of young men entering Kenrick-Glennon. As has been proven all over the world, when the Diocesan Ordinary teaches and defends the Catholic faith, Diocesan vocations increase. Dissent and ambiguity lead to dwindling numbers of priests. Where the fullness of faith is held, vocations to the priesthood and religious life flourish.

The seminary is out of room. As is the case with the ICRSS and the FSSP seminaries, St. Louis now has the best kind of vocation crisis.

Published Today


I. Introduction

1. The Doctrinal Note is devoted principally to an exposition of the Catholic Church’s understanding of the Christian mission of evangelization, which is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the word "Gospel" translates "evangelion" in the Greek New Testament. "Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to proclaim the Gospel, calling all people to conversion and faith. ‘Go out into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature’ (Mk 16,15)." [n. 1]

2. The Doctrinal Note cites Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Letter "The Mission of the Redeemer" in recalling that "‘Every person has the right to hear the Good News [Gospel] of the God who reveals and gives himself in Christ, so that each one can live out in its fullness his or her proper calling.’ This right implies the corresponding duty to evangelize." [n. 2]

3. Today there is "a growing confusion" about the Church’s missionary mandate. Some think "that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom," suggesting that it is enough to invite people "to act according to their consciences", or to "become more human or more faithful to their own religion", or "to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity", without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith.

Others have argued that conversion to Christ should not be promoted because it is possible for people to be saved without explicit faith in Christ or formal incorporation in the Church. Because "of these problems, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged it necessary to public the present Note." [n. 3]

Full text here.

13 December 2007

Whoa! Big News at Rorate Caeli re: Legion of Christ

Post with comments at Rorate Caeli:

Pope repeals "secret vows" of the Legion of Christ

Excerpt of an article published yesterday by the Mexican daily La Jornada:

The derogation of the secret vows of the Legionaries.The Pope has derogated the private vows of the Legionaries of Christ, precisely those which were used by the superiors of this religious congregation to protect themselves from possible complaints. The sources of news agencies indicate that these are "parallel measures" to the disciplinary penalty imposed on Marcial Maciel for sexual abuses in 2006.

Pope Benedict XVI had personally asked for the repeal of the private vows professed by the seminarians and priests of the Legionaries of Christ. These were oaths, related to the internal life of the order, which assured its secrecy and impermeability: the first [oath of "charity"] prevented any kind of criticism of superiors and their decisions by members, while the second [oath of "humility"] forbade the religious men from aspiring to positions within it.


Is there any parallel move planned with any other congregation?

"Friend and Sister" of St. Cronan's

The Post-Dispatch story from yesterday on the St. Cronan's event contains the following text:

Their church building — big, warm and dry — stood just yards away, but the St. Cronan parishioners had decided that they'd rather be cold and wet than without a woman they called their "friend and sister," Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation.

Talve has spoken at St. Cronan's, a parish known for its progressive social activism, during many previous prayer services during the Advent season. But this year, the pastoral leadership received a phone call from St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, asking them to revoke Talve's invitation.

I have received a lot of feedback on the St. Cronan's post-- both positive and negative. Some of those defending the non-protest vespers protest on Sunday pointed to the fact that the presence of Rabbi Talve is a tradition at St. Cronan's. Without addressing the obvious issue of just why would a Catholic parish routinely invite a leader of another faith to lead its advent reflections, there are other factors that make this particular choice inappropriate.

This speech occurred back in March 2006 at Aquinas Institute, itself the subject of a visit by Vatican officials in the wake of the abuse scandal and the resulting investigation of the course content and formation of all seminaries. See this story from NCR for general info, and this report from KSDK for specifics as to Aquinas. In her speech, the Rabbi offers her insights on, among other things, the sin of the Israelites and the golden calf. She gives an interesting spin on it-- and I don't want to be accused of taking these remarks out of context, thus the link to the full speech above.

From an Evening Prayer Reflection by Rabbi Susan Talve on the Occasion of the Aquinas Lecture
March 9, 2006

...The sin of the golden calf is the sin of certainty, believing that we can know what we cannot know, losing all humility, and from this sin, despite Moses' pleas for forgiveness, many of us die. We learn that the price for the certainty is great.

Like the golden calf, the sin of certainty reduces the complex nature of creation to a single simple response that leaves no room for interpretation. The sin of certainty is what keeps us from tempering passion with compassion. The sin of certainty also has room for only one idea. It is what keeps us from listening to alternative views with open minds to receive new information and ideas that could change our beliefs not for political or self serving reasons but because our hearts have opened to them.


To counter the sin of certainty, we try to produce souls who are not afraid to interpret situations in multiple ways and offer arguments for different positions and points of view with a kind of humility that always remembers that this is the human point of view and not Gods.

The sin of certainty always limits us and keeps us from the wonder and the promise of the possibilities for healing and hope in our mishkan.


The calf tells us that we need to be certain to commit to a relationship or a goal and that questioning and doubt are weakness. With the golden calf we see a frozen reflection of what is and we become attached to it even if it is no longer true or good for us. We are trapped in the certainty that this is the only way; the only solution, the only path and we cling to it even when it isn't right for us anymore. The mishkan always leaves the space for doubt and allows us to take risks that will grow into greater love, greater opportunity.


I'll bet Thomas Aquinas never imagined these two Jewish women would be preaching and teaching in his mishkan on his feast day!...

Now, of course, as a Rabbi, Susan Talve should not be expected to hold a Catholic view on any particular matter, or of any point of scriptural exegesis. She has her own religious convictions. That is precisely the point, though. Is it not? The reflections above seem to give comfort to those persons who consider themselves both Catholic and progressive. Those who believe that holding to "certainty" may foreclose them to greater gifts. Those who believe that the truths of Catholicism aren't something that can be defined by the authority of the Pope but rather are the result of an ongoing dialectic in which dissent of the "faithful" is a force for a slow realization of the truth given by God that the faithful themselves determine. In fact, precisely the kind of thing condemned in the strongest possible terms by Pope St. Pius X in Pascendi.

With regard to the public actions of Rabbi Talve, we have as the foremost problem her congregation's hosting of the infamous fake ordinations in defiance of the request of the Archbishop. Moreover, she was featured in one of the "stories of hope" on the site of the euphemistically named "Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures", supporters of Amendment 2, that amended Missouri's constitution to protect embryonic stem cell research.

Everything that I have covered above may be perfectly in line with the religious traditions of Judaism, of which I am certainly not an expert. I will also assume that she is 100% in good faith as to the motivation for her actions and beliefs. Great. But the point is that these positions and actions make her a person that a Catholic parish true to its name, its faith, and its duty, would never invite to lead a prayer service for its members.