28 February 2007

"Young People Flock to the Old Mass"

There is a great article in the latest Inside the Vatican Magazine on the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, and the Traditional Latin Mass. Writer Andrew Rabel interviews Monsignor R. Michael Schmitz, the U.S. Provincial Superior of the Institute. He answers a wide range of questions about the Institute, as well as those about the traditional Mass and its attractiveness to the young.

So many times we hear that the classical rite of Mass is only for those who remember the Church before Vatican II, and are merely nostalgic for some illusory past that didn't really exist. Monsignor Schmitz lays that misapprehension to rest.

The Institute of Christ the King has several oratories in the United States, including St. Francis de Sales Oratory here in St. Louis, Old St. Patrick Oratory in Kansas City, and the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago. You can find links for the Institute on the right side of the blog.

Some excerpts from the article:

Msgr. Schmitz, on the traditional faith and vocations to the Institute in America:

"Well, America is for me a revelation when it comes to the religious life, the traditional Latin Mass, and vocations. It is quite overwhelming how our apostolate has grown there, and how many very good vocations come from the United States. If I could take them all (our seminary is not big enough), I would be able to send 30 Americans every year...... I have to be selective, yet already I have accepted about 10 young men in our pre-formation program this year. We have just opened a pre-formation house in St. Louis, which is still to be totally set up. But more and more young men from the United States are directed by Holy Providence to the Institute.

Archbishop Raymond Burke has been to Gricigliano [the Institute's seminary near Florence, Italy] several times to perform ordinations, and [this] year we will have our first ordinations in the United States, in his diocese of St. Louis. One could say that he is the founding father of the Institute in the United States.

Bishop Robert Finn is also a good friend of ours and has invited us into his diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph...."

Msgr Schmitz, on the concern that the rumored universal indult will take the Church 'back in time':

"Aside from the fact that it is impossible to go back in time, our experience is that the Traditional Rite attracts youth and young families, and much joy and life. And the thrust in their lives, which we hope to succeed in fostering, is to move forward in their spiritual growth, ever more faithful to what Our Lord wishes and ever closer to their final goal--heaven."

Regarding the French Bishops' concerns about the potential for "divisiveness" if the indult were granted:

"Perhaps we could respectfully posit that this may indicate that these prelates are not entirely familiar with the 'traditional world,' if you wish. Should they have first-hand experience of the growth and youth that the Traditional Liturgy of the Catholic Church generates, most certainly their fears would be calmed."

Finally from a response concerning the spirituality of the Institute:

"...we draw from the legacy of St. Benedict who created in his time islands of faith and culture. This is what the Institute wants to do everywhere, at a much more modest level. We want to create islands of faith in a secularized environment, where the faithful can find support and sustenance for a solid Catholic lifestyle-- not a narrow one, with a Jansenistic outlook on things, but rather through a broad, happy, joyful approach that still provides all the nourishment found in Catholic tradition, which the people need today to live in a difficult world."

The article is really a very interesting read, and can be found in its entirety here: http://institute-christ-king.org/documents/InsideVaticanJan07.pdf

26 February 2007

Words Cannot Express...

... the outrage I feel when I think about the horrible ordeal this poor girl, Melissa Busekros, and her family are going through.

From WorldNetDaily: German authorities who sent 15 uniformed police officers to take custody of a 15-year-old girl who committed the crime of being homeschooled now have suggested a solution that, in their minds, would "resolve" the situation: the parents should give up custody of their other five children.

In Germany, homeschooling is illegal-- this is a law first enacted by Adolf Hitler, but still in force. Apparently, Melissa was in school and began to fall behind in Math and Latin. So her parents began to give her private tutoring. The school officials said they couldn't do this and expelled her. Therefore, the parents began to educate her at home.
Since that time the police have taken her away and she is in a secret location with very limited contact with her parents. Her parents do not know where she is. Now, the government is threatening their other children.

If you don't think this could happen in this country, think again. If the U.S. Senate ever ratifies the so-called UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, then homeschoolers will face UN oversight of their activities, including interrogation by UN officials to ensure that the child "really wants" to be homeschooled.

Pray for this family and others like them in Germany; pray for us all.

A final note, and I make no money from this. If you homeschool, you should check out the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). For a small annual membership, they will cover all costs of any litigation brought against you for educational neglect or truancy charges, etc. They also help to solve practical problems with state authorities before they become larger issues. They are not Catholic, but Christian, and your religious affiliation doesn't matter. Their website: http://www.hslda.org/.

22 February 2007

First Sunday of Lent

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. Mt. 4:1

Lent is only four days old, and already we are brought to our first gut check. Those voluntary penances we have embraced-- the Spirit, as it were, leading us into the desert-- are they onerous? And are we already tempted to be lax in their observance?

I used to wonder why Jesus would allow Himself to be tempted, and whether He could really be tempted if it were impossible for Him to sin.

As usual, St. Thomas Aquinas has the answer, and states in the Summa Theologica, Question 41, Article 1:

Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, not by powerful deeds, but rather by suffering from him and his members, so as to conquer the devil by righteousness, not by power; thus Augustine says (De Trin. xiii) that "the devil was to be overcome, not by the power of God, but by righteousness." And therefore in regard to Christ's temptation we must consider what He did of His own will and what He suffered from the devil. For that He allowed Himself to be tempted was due to His own will. Wherefore it is written (Matthew 4:1): "Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil"; and Gregory (Hom. xvi in Evang.) says this is to be understood of the Holy Ghost, to wit, that "thither did His Spirit lead Him, where the wicked spirit would find Him and tempt Him." But He suffered from the devil in being "taken up" on to "the pinnacle of the Temple" and again "into a very high mountain." Nor is it strange, as Gregory observes, "that He allowed Himself to be taken by him on to a mountain, who allowed Himself to be crucified by His members." And we understand Him to have been taken up by the devil, not, as it were, by force, but because, as Origen says (Hom. xxi super Luc.), "He followed Him in the course of His temptation like a wrestler advancing of his own accord."

Later, in Article 2, St. Thomas writes:

The occasions of temptation are twofold. one is on the part of man---for instance, when a man causes himself to be near to sin by not avoiding the occasion of sinning. And such occasions of temptation should be avoided, as it is written of Lot (Gn. 19:17): "Neither stay thou in all the country about" Sodom.

Another occasion of temptation is on the part of the devil, who always "envies those who strive for better things," as Ambrose says (In Luc. iv, 1). And such occasions of temptation are not to be avoided. Hence Chrysostom says (Hom. v in Matth. [*From the supposititious Opus Imperfectum]): "Not only Christ was led into the desert by the Spirit, but all God's children that have the Holy Ghost. For it is not enough for them to sit idle; the Holy Ghost urges them to endeavor to do something great: which is for them to be in the desert from the devil's standpoint, for no unrighteousness, in which the devil delights, is there. Again, every good work, compared to the flesh and the world, is the desert; because it is not according to the will of the flesh and of the world." Now, there is no danger in giving the devil such an occasion of temptation; since the help of the Holy Ghost, who is the Author of the perfect deed, is more powerful* than the assault of the envious devil.

Finally, in Article 3:

It was becoming that Christ should wish to fast before His temptation. First, in order to give us an example. For since we are all in urgent need of strengthening ourselves against temptation, as stated above (A[1]), by fasting before being tempted, He teaches us the need of fasting in order to equip ourselves against temptation. Hence the Apostle (2 Cor. 6:5,7) reckons "fastings" together with the "armor of justice."

Secondly, in order to show that the devil assails with temptations even those who fast, as likewise those who are given to other good works. And so Christ's temptation took place after His fast, as also after His baptism. Hence since rather Chrysostom says (Hom. xiii super Matth.): "To instruct thee how great a good is fasting, and how it is a most powerful shield against the devil; and that after baptism thou shouldst give thyself up, not to luxury, but to fasting; for this cause Christ fasted, not as needing it Himself, but as teaching us."

Let us call upon Christ, the Victor over temptation, sin and the devil, to strengthen us to persevere in our Lenten fasting. May he assist us not only to persevere in fasting, but to fast for a holy purpose-- that we grow in holiness and perfection, and make reparation for our sins. If we persevere, we are given the promise of Divine assistance, for we can expect what Christ Himself received. "And behold Angels came, and ministered to Him." Mt. 4.11

21 February 2007

Archbishop Ranjith on the Motu Proprio

I wasn't going to post anything on Ash Wednesday, but a very important interview touching on the expected liberation of the traditional Mass came out today in Inside the Vatican Magazine. Archbishop Ranjith is the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and has many interesting things to say about the effects of the so-called liturgical reform and some hints at the contents of the rumored Motu Proprio.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf covers this interview with his usual clarity and skill:


20 February 2007

Have a Blessed Ash Wednesday

Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made, overlooking the sins of men for the sake of repentance, and sparing them: because Thou art the Lord our God.

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me: for my soul trusteth in Thee.

-- from the Introit of Ash Wednesday

Top Ten Examples of Genuine Pastoral Necessity...

...for allowing "Lay Ministers" to administer ashes to the faithful on Ash Wednesday:

I read in our diocesan newspaper, among the general announcements about Lent and the related regulations, that in the case of "genuine pastoral necessity" lay ministers have permission to distribute ashes.

I'm fairly naive, I guess, but that got me to wondering what exactly would constitute a genuine pastoral necessity to allow lay ministers to distribute ashes. I mean, it's not like viaticum or last rites, where danger of death would be a problem to avoid. As a service to you, the reader, I have compiled my own top ten list, with apologies to David Letterman.

Top Ten Examples of Genuine Pastoral Necessity for Allowing Lay Ministers to Distribute Ashes:

10. The ashes to be distributed come from the still-burning structure of the Church in which it takes place.

9. Want to finish ceremony in time to catch Regis and Kelly.

8. All of the 10,000 members of the parish showed up for this Ash Wednesday Mass.

7. Want to finish ceremony before the release of the universal indult, which we understand is to happen Subito.

6. When allowing them to do so gives them a feeling of empowerment and self-realization.

5. One of the lay ministers is wanted by the police in connection with a crime, and they don't yet have a set of fingerprints.

4. Every one of the faithful is in full blown labor and 8cm dilated.

3. The parish has been slated for closure and the wrecking ball is outside, beginning to swing.

2. Parishioners are so used to receiving communion from these people that the sight of a Priest freaks them out.

1. Since the lay ministers themselves choose to receive ashes in the hand, they already have the supplies-- so why not?

19 February 2007

The Approach of Danger

Zenit has a report on the recent pastoral letter of Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley, Scotland, concerning the so-called "Equality Act of 2006". The Bishop states that the act "will force Catholic adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples and thereby go against the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church." Here is the link:


The Church in the UK is now facing a threat similar to the days of the Protestant revolt, with the prospect of state punishment for refusing to uphold Church teaching. Similar problems are faced by faithful Catholics in other European countries, as the European Union seeks to enforce its culture of death hegemony on each member nation. Currently, only Portugal (for now), Poland, Ireland and Malta have any meaningful laws against abortion.

Abraham Lincoln once remarked on the protection afforded the United States by its placement between two vast oceans. A European power, he said, "could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher."

Is this still true in the world of ideas, when the internet and global media make transglobal communication a matter of seconds?

Anyone who has followed the immigration problems in Europe, its demographic disaster due to contraception and abortion, and the demise of the vibrancy of the Church, can see that the U.S. is better off. But for how long? It seems that we have, in my opinion, about a 20 year buffer zone from following the follies of Europe. We have some time, but not all the time in the world, to back away from the precipice.

Take an example, the average number of children born to a French woman is 1.7. In Italy, the seat of the Faith, 1.2. UK? 1.7. Germany, 1.4. The birth rate necessary just to maintain a country's population level, called the Replacement birth rate, is 2.1 per woman. The average birth rate in the U.S., though, is 2.1.

Source: http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/000882.html

Moreover, the U.S. has not yet made so-called same sex "unions" widely available; we have not yet, Missouri being a woeful exception, provided public funding for human cloning and embryonic stem cell research. More Americans go to Church and believe in God than our European counterparts. But all of these good signs are fading by the year.

The point? We need to assert our faith in the public arena while there is still time. We need to pray, more than ever, for our nation. We need to pass on the faith to our children whole and intact.

Back to Lincoln: "I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

17 February 2007

Quinquagesima Sunday

Tomorrow is Quiquagesima Sunday in the traditional calendar, marking the fifty day period before Easter. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

For many early Christians it was the beginning of the fast before Easter...For some, Quinquagesima marked the time after which meat was forbidden ...Where abstinence from meat began earlier, this Sunday introduced the time in which neither milk nor eggs etc, (ova et lacticinia) were allowed...In many places this Sunday and the next two days were used to prepare for Lent by a good confession; hence in England we find the names Shrove Sunday and Shrovetide.

Since I discovered the traditional Mass two years ago I have enjoyed learning and experiencing the richness of the traditions of the Church, developed over centuries, that seem to have been so carelessly cast aside in the last 40 years. I remember at my old parish how Lent would almost always sneak up on me, and on Ash Wednesday I had not given serious reflection to what I would "do" for Lent. I would often just choose some privation, sometimes a token one, without any reflection and without any plan or purpose.

In the traditional calendar, Lent doesn't sneak up on you. The Church establishes three consecutive Sundays-- Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, roughly and symbolically corresponding to periods of 70, 60, and 50 days before Easter. Those Sundays are penitential Sundays that don't affect the feast days during the week, but are a nice spiritual transition from the intense joy of Christmas to the desert of Lent.

It makes you wonder why it was jettisoned.

Again, from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

As the days before Lent were frequently spent in merry-making, Benedict XIV by the Constitution "Inter Cetera" (1 Jan., 1748) introduced a kind of Forty Hours' Devotion to keep the faithful from dangerous amusements and to make some reparation for sins committed.

To that end, check out the Forty Hours Devotion Schedule at St. Francis de Sales. http://www.institute-christ-king.org/documents/40Hours2007.pdf

Have a blessed and spiritually profitable Lent. Let us never forget to pray for the Holy Father.

16 February 2007

Traditional Latin Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

On Wednesday, March 7, 2007 at 7 p.m., the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas according to the traditional calendar, the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest will offer Solemn High Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

This is a truly exciting event-- it will will be the first traditional Latin Mass publicly celebrated in the Archdiocesan Cathedral for at least 35 years. Deo gratias! All are welcome to attend.

It would be great to see this 2,000 person capacity church filled to the rafters for this Mass. The beauty of this magnificent cathedral is fitting for the beauty of the timeless Mass.

For more information, visit the Institute's website in St. Louis www.institute-christ-king.org/stlouishome.htm or the Cathedral's site http://www.cathedralstl.org/.

If you have never seen the Cathedral, check out some great photos at http://saint-louis.blogspot.com/.
UPDATE: 02/23/2007: To clarify for those just finding this post, the March 7, 2007 Solemn High Mass will be celebrated by a priest from the Institute of Christ the King.
Archbishop Burke himself will celebrate the traditional Mass at the Cathedral to ordain 2 ICKSP candidates to the priesthood on June 15, 2007 at 1pm. All are welcome to attend both Masses.

15 February 2007

Here goes nothing?

If you are just finding this site and wondering yet again what motivates a person to think their thoughts are so worthwhile they just had to start a blog, you can blame Wolftracker over at Kansas City Catholic.

Because this blog is being created on a suggestion from him, I have done him the honor (dubious or not) of giving it the regional counterpart name to his.

I will do my best to post content worth reading. Check back soon.