30 October 2010

The Feast of Christ the King

Yes, it is today, the last Sunday in October.

From the Encyclical of Pius XI, Quas Primas:

20. If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth -- he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said also: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ! "Then at length," to use the words addressed by our predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, twenty-five years ago to the bishops of the Universal Church, "then at length will many evils be cured; then will the law regain its former authority; peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."

21. That these blessings may be abundant and lasting in Christian society, it is necessary that the kingship of our Savior should be as widely as possible recognized and understood, and to the end nothing would serve better than the institution of a special feast in honor of the Kingship of Christ. For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year -- in fact, forever. The church's teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man's nature. Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God's teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life.

29 October 2010

Trads Beware: Halloween Approaches

I kid, because I love.

There are certain subjects that can call into question your "Trad" Catholic credentials, much like certain activities (like shopping for scarves) will put your "man card" in jeopardy.  

For traditional Catholics, many of the "trad card" items are more arcane, such as whether you voluntarily submit to (or even enjoy) a dialogue Mass, or whether you think the post 1955 Holy Week changes were a good idea (OK, this is purely theoretical, as I have never met or heard of a person whose last name did not rhyme with Bugnini who failed to recoil in horror at the idea). 

One more common issue of contention is television.  Not whether it is good or bad, mind you, but whether it is acceptable to own one, kept in a closet, just in case someone wants to watch a VHS copy of Song of Bernadette on her feast day.

But there is something about Halloween that divides the ranks of Trads.  Certainly, no Catholic worthy of the name would suggest that engaging in sorcery, worshipping evil spirits, digging up corpses or carousing with covens are anything but horrific.  I'm talking about acknowledging the day with dressing up in costumes or trick-or-treating through the neighborhood.  Here, opinions range from allowing trick-or-treating and/or parties with non-demonic/occultist costumes of any variety; to allowing trick-or-treating and/or parties in an "All Saints Eve" sense, with costumes of the saints; to refraining from any commemoration of the day as irrevocably tainted, unless it is to deride it as Protestant Revolution Day.

The brilliant Catholic writer John Zmirak has written a wry and insightful post on Inside Catholic about the topic.  As usual, I agree with something less than 100% of it, but enjoy 200% of it.  The full piece is here for you to read, but check out the excerpts below.  I will also put up a poll at the right of the blog to gather some quick opinion.

All the decorations are up, folks are frantically shopping and preparing, and the anticipation is almost killing me as I await the brightest, best moment of the whole liturgical year: Halloween, of course.

As far back as I can remember, this feast far outclassed Christmas on my personal calendar. No matter that Santa brought piles of gifts like the board game version of The Six Million Dollar Man, the Shrunken Head Machine, or yet one more encyclopedia set which I had begged for. None of this could compare with the fistfuls of crunchy loot that strangers dropped into our sacks, as we trooped up and down the stairwells of our tenements. What made those gobs of candy glow with a sinister excitement was the threat that some might be -- must be! -- laced with deadly poison, our apples stuffed with razor blades, by evil old crones who were eager to kill off the children. Or so my mother insisted, and made me swear not to pop a single kernel of black candy corn into my mouth that she had not personally inspected.


Of course, this holiday was born to commemorate the many nameless saints and prepare for the feast of holy souls in Purgatory -- that scary, fascinating middle place that only we Catholics really believe in. That makes All Souls' Day (November 2) the most distinctively Roman Catholic holiday in the calendar. The Orthodox pray for the dead, but if you accuse them of agreeing with Catholic teaching on this subject -- as on any other --they will vigorously deny it. Likewise, their liturgy and traditions affirm truths suspiciously similar to the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, which they only began to deny once Rome declared them infallible. Had I the pope's ear, I'd beg him to teach, ex cathedra, that Jesus really existed -- if only to hear the monks of Mt. Athos find ways to deny it.


Halloween provokes contention among American Christians to this day. Some homeschooling friends of mine confessed to me that they felt torn over whether or not to let their son dress up and go trick-or-treating; their Protestant friends kept telling them that this holiday was pagan or even Satanic. And given their theology, you can see their point: The souls of the dead are either in Heaven -- in which case they're not walking the earth and need not be appeased, represented, mocked, or even commemorated, depending on which reading you give to the way we Catholics appropriated old pagan customs that marked this time of year-- or else they're in Hell, and not worth remembering. Anyone who's dead and suffering deserves it, and will go on suffering forever. There's no sense in attracting his attention.

We, on the other hand, picture the Church in three unequal slices: a golden sliver, already enjoying beatitude; we dung-spattered soldiers still slogging through the trenches here on earth; and the vast military hospital where most of us hope to end up, a very big tent indeed where souls heal from the damage they did themselves on earth and are made whole enough to be welcomed into Heaven. When we do ourselves up in costumes and tromp through the streets on Halloween, we are marching in a kind of Veterans' Day Parade in honor of the sinners who went before us, not yet into glory but into the painful, therapeutic shadow it casts outside its doors.

It's our very comfort with the queerness and creepiness of the whole soul-body mystery that marks the Catholic faith off from its closest competitors. I grew up loving The Addams Family, without knowing quite why, until one day as an adult I realized: These people are an aristocratic, trad-Catholic homeschooling family trapped in a sterile Protestant suburb! Shunning the utilitarianism and conformity that surrounds them, they face the Grim Reaper with rueful good cheer, in a Gothic home stock full of relics. Indeed, I think I might have spotted several Addamses at the indult parish in New York City . .


Now, I'm very much in agreement that two-year-old children should not be dressed as Satan. For one thing, it's a little bit too realistic. Indeed, the fallenness of children, which Augustine bemoaned in his Confessions, is so evident to everyone that garbing the little tykes in the robes of absolute evil seems to overstress the point. Nor do we wish to trivialize the serious, deadly purpose of our infernal enemy -- dragging each of us screaming to Hell. If you're feeling puckish, it's in much better taste to dress up your kids as Osama bin Laden, Annibale Bugnini, or some other of the Evil One's lesser minions. If you must dress your boys as saints, choose military martyrs, canonized crusaders, or patriarchs from the Old Testament. One suggestion I made as editor of the Feasts and Seasons section of Faith & Family magazine was this: Dress up your daughters as early Roman martyrs, like Agnes and Agatha, and your sons as the Roman soldiers, gladiators, and lions that sent them to heaven. Stock up on lots of fake blood for the girls' machine-washable tunics, and let the games begin! (Alas, this idea never saw print.)

Dust off that DVD of The Nightmare before Christmas, wake up the kids, and watch the expression on their faces. Trust me, it's better catechesis and preparation for life than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or (God forbid!) The Giving Tree. Read them to sleep with hair-raising accounts of Purgatory by Suffering Souls who appeared to solitary, starving nuns, like the classic Catholic children's book Read Me or Rue It. Find a Latin requiem Mass for All Souls' Day, invite your Facebook "friends" and pack the place, collecting plenary indulgences for the dead -- in the hope that someday, others will do the same for you. If you're impious enough to have read this far, something tells me that you'll need it.


LIfe Still Cheap in These United States

News stories tending to support the point of the title of this post are found easily enough, but some of them, as in the case of the two hamburger-dispute murders in St. Louis last year, beg to be posted.  A Florida mother killed her own infant son because his crying interrupted her Facebook game time.  Apparently FarmVille is pretty compelling.

Those never-shake-a-baby PSAs have failed us.  May God have mercy on this wretched woman.  Her photo, which I won't reproduce here but which is in the linked story, just about says it all.  She looks like she is soul-dead.  I hope the baby was baptized.

28 October 2010

Catholics and True Love of Country

Below is the text of a timely and insightful sermon given by Canon Aaron Huberfeld of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest last Sunday at St. Francis de Sales Oratory.  Canon was kind enough to send me his written text, which I reproduce below in its entirety.  The sermon uses as its departure point the Gospel-injunction to render unto Caesar. A powerful sermon.  And if you haven't read Leo XIII's Testem Benevolentiae, you might want to do so.


Sermon for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost 2010

Mission Sunday

Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. – Mt.22:21

“In the present situation of our world, the Christian faith has a critical responsibility to articulate clearly the natural moral law and its demands. Under the constant influence of a rationalist and secularist philosophy which makes man, instead of God, the ultimate measure of what is right and good, many have become confused about the most basic truths, for example, the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, and the integrity of marriage between one man and one woman as the first and irreplaceable cell of the life of society. If Christians fail to articulate and uphold the natural moral law, then they fail in the fundamental duty of patriotism, of loving their country by serving the common good."

These are the recent words of the Most Reverend Raymond Leo Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of St. Louis and soon-to-be Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church. Our young nation has seen many cardinals by now. And some of you may not know that we once had not only cardinals, but even a primate. The Archbishop of Baltimore, as shepherd of the oldest see in our country, once bore the title of Primate of the United States. He could convene national councils, from which we received our famous Baltimore catechism. He had a certain preeminence over all the other bishops of the land. Although the title was largely honorary, as in other countries such as Spain and Ireland, it stood nevertheless as a sign that Rome saw in the United States the makings of a great, Catholic nation.

Over a century before the Archbishop Burke began to speak in an international forum, another Archbishop, James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, received a letter from Pope Leo XIII – not a personal letter, but an Apostolic Letter intended to be read by all the bishops of our country and by the Catholic world as a whole. Cardinal Gibbons was well known and well loved, by Catholic and Protestant alike. He championed the cause of labor, and Teddy Roosevelt called him “the most useful citizen in America”. He was Primate of the United States. He would be the last to bear this title, for it would die with him.

The Apostolic Letter which Cardinal Gibbons received was Testem Benevolentiae, Leo XIII’s correction of certain opinions which paraded under the name of Americanism. In light of what we have just read from our dear Archbishop Burke, let us examine what this great pope had to say of our nation so long before.

The Pope writes: “The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order more easily to attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them.

“Let it be far from anyone's mind to suppress for any reason any doctrine that has been handed down. Such a policy would tend rather to separate Catholics from the Church than to bring in those who differ. There is nothing closer to Our heart than to have those who are separated from the fold of Christ return to it, but in no other way than the way pointed out by Christ.”

At the time Cardinal Gibbons received these words from the Pope, no one dreamed that American Catholics would ever feel pressured by their fellow Americans to compromise their belief on the right to life or the sanctity of marriage. The pope maintained that the threat was not to Catholic morals, but to the Faith. His fear was that American Catholics were beginning to dilute their Faith in order to blend in with their Protestant neighbors, and that they were doing so with an ever increasing spirit of independence from Rome. He feared that the Catholic Church in America was becoming the American Catholic Church. And if Catholics were ready to compromise their Faith today, they would be ready to compromise their morals tomorrow.

Dear faithful, today is Mission Sunday. The Church invites us to pray for the success of her missions. Today, when every nation which once called itself Christian has turned its back on God, the whole world is mission territory. We have a duty to render unto Caesar. We have a duty to be good, patriotic Americans. Patriotism is a virtue. But for Catholics, for those who live a life in sanctifying grace, it must be a supernatural virtue. We are truly patriotic when we uphold the rights of God in our country, and work not only for the prosperity of our fellow Americans, but for their conversion.

The Pope’s letter continues: “The scriptures teach us that it is the duty of all to work for the salvation of one's neighbor, according to the power and position of each. The faithful do this by religiously discharging the duties of their state of life, by the uprightness of their conduct, by their works of Christian charity and by earnest and continuous prayer to God. On the other hand, those who belong to the clergy should do this by an enlightened fulfillment of their preaching ministry, by the pomp and splendor of ceremonies, and especially by setting forth that sound form of doctrine which Saint Paul inculcated upon Titus and Timothy. For We think that there are many in your country who are separated from Catholic truth more by ignorance than by ill-will, who might perchance more easily be drawn to the one fold of Christ if this truth be set forth to them in a friendly and familiar way.”

I ask you, one hundred years later: is this missionary program too much to ask of American Catholics? If every Catholic in America followed this program, would we not, by the grace of God, have conversions by the millions? And if every American Catholic heeded the words of Archbishop Burke, would we not see unborn children and true marriage securely protected by our nation’s laws? I know you all appreciate the wonderful thing we have here at St. Francis de Sales Oratory. Perhaps each of you could, just once this year, invite a non-Catholic to come to Solemn Mass or to an oratory event. And after that, if we are already doing all we can in the church, at home, in the workplace, in the voting booth, there is still prayer. Our prayers can bring this nation to its knees. And we can do no better than to make our own the prayer for mission Sunday added to today’s Mass:

O God, who wouldst have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth: send forth, we beseech thee, laborers into thy harvest, and grant that they may proclaim thy word with all boldness, that thy word may spread and be made manifest, and all nations may know thee as the one true God, and Him whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord. Amen.

24 October 2010

The Week to Come

Happy Sunday, everyone.  Congratulations again to Cardinal-designate Burke.  This photo is His Grace receiving the first blessing of Canon Aaron Huberfeld after his ordination in the presence of Monsignor Wach and Canon Lenhardt, among others.

Some news to tide you over for a few days, as I anticipate very light blogging until Thursday.

This Sunday, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest  has two events of interest, one at the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago, and one here locally at the Oratory.

In Chicago, the Institute is sponsoring a Roman Holiday fundraiser for the ongoing restoration of the Shrine.  Cardinal George will attend as guest of honor, as a portion of the Vatican collection Oro e Porpora, containing some exquisite vestments from the mid-16th to late-19th centuries, will be displayed for the first time in the U.S. at the Shrine.  The day begins with Sunday Mass; there is the exhibit, reception, dinner, and a concert of Italian baroque music by the Amadeus Consort.  If can make it to Chicago, check out the Institute's website for more information.

Somewhat less ambitious, but just as gastronomically pleasing, the St. Francis de Sales Seminary Society is sponsoring a family breakfast in honor of the Feast of Christ the King following both the 8 am and 10 am Masses.  The prices are reduced per each adult and child meal to encourage family participation, and no matter how many children you have begotten, the family total cost is limited to $25.  For map and directions, see the Oratory's website.

Remember, the faithful assisting at Mass on the Feast of Christ the King at any Oratory of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest may obtain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions of sacramental confession, detachment from sin, Holy Communion and prayers for the intention of the Holy Father.

Have a great week.

22 October 2010

Carnahan Smear Machine in High Gear against Catholic Candidate

I have hesitated to post on this subject, due to the focus of this blog and also due to my relative disillusionment with much of what passes for the two-party system.  But I have to post something.  Ed Martin, a Catholic running for Congress against Russ Carnahan, has been smeared by Carnahan's camp in a most despicable way.

It seems that Carnhahan, whose hypocrisy and irony meters are broken, the bought-and-paid-for tool of the baby-killers, is now blaming Ed Martin for the problem of pedophile priests.  You see, says Carnahan's "investigator", Ed Martin "shielded" pedophile priests while he was the head of the Archdiocesan Human Rights Office under Cardinal Rigali.

The only problem with this accusation is that Ed Martin had absolutely no authority over any priest in his job position, and there is no evidence he colluded with anyone who did.  In short, the accusation amounts to this-- Ed Martin is a Catholic who worked for the Archdiocese.  There were pedophile priests.  Therefore he MUST be responsible somehow.  Compounding the sleaziness factor is not only the timing of the "revelation", less than two weeks prior to election day, but also the fact that this was sprung as a "news" story expose by the Carnahan of journalists, Charles Jaco. 

Planned Parenthood's favorite son hits a new low.  Hey, Russ, how many millions of babies' blood is on the money you get from that grisly crew?

St. Salome

Pray for us

21 October 2010

Lighting a Candle for Catholic Schools

Though work and consistory-watching have caused a little delay, I have not forgotten this post, the third in the past eight days on Catholic schools.  The first looked at the Epiphany School closing and subsequent charter school tenancy issues; the second focused on contraception as a root cause of the demise of Catholic schools; today I wish to discuss some possible solutions-- or beginnings of solutions-- to halt the slide and begin to rebound to vitality.

I don't claim to have the market cornered on ideas, and no doubt many of you have much better ones than I will discuss here.  My goal is to take the discussion in the combox, which has already been insightful, and focus it on generating ideas.

So, without further ado, consider just a few ideas:

1.  Vibrant Catholic Orthodoxy

Computer labs cost money.  Olympic-sized swimming pools cost money.  "Gifted", "Special Needs" and other specialty tracks require more resources in personnel and equipment that cost money.  I just name a few in overly simplified terms, but my point is that most of the varied ways that many Catholic schools choose to try to be like the better-funded public schools and thus "compete" with them entail a cost increase that strains an already strained system.

Instead of trying to be the same as the public school, why not try to be different?  And in what area can the Catholic school claim an unchallengeable superiority for Catholic students than in the formation of souls and minds in the faith? 

However, many Catholic schools fail to impart the basics of our faith, fail to form souls via a total Catholic formation, and offer an ersatz, caffeine-free version of "spirituality" that passes as Catholicism to uneducated young students and their woefully uncatechised parents.  In the grade schools this typically takes the form of spine-numbingly bad "children's liturgies" at Mass, zero-substance; "God made the world/draw a picture of your pet", catechism-free religion class; extracurricular projects like canned food drives; and the beginnings of the every religion is just as good as another mantra, as exemplified by your fifth grader knowing more about Ramadan than Lent, and thinking that Martin Luther King is a canonised Roman Catholic saint.  In high schools, it generally devolves to the "Vatican II means we don't have to believe in much anymore, other then to love everybody and do what we will."  Catholic high schoolers are taught (either in class or with a wink at the banal text they use) that homosexual activity is not wrong, that women priests are on the table, and that no doctrine matches the importance of a Marxist version of social justice.

The designers and implementers of Catholic religious curricula long ago ditched the Baltimore Catechism and other, similar, materials in the grade schools.  How often have you heard the complaint that the Baltimore Catechism-centered program just gave Catholics "an eighth grade understanding" of their faith.  Probably untrue, but let's assume it is. I ask you:  Wouldn't it be great to see every Catholic school graduate possess at least an eighth grade education?  How many do you see  these days (not judging the state of any person's soul, or their holiness, but merely in the knowledge of the teachings of the faith)?  Moreover, the "eighth grade understanding" is absolutely necessary before a student can derive serious good from the multitude of great Catholic thinkers through history.  How can a high school or college student comprehend a tenth of Aquinas without basic catechetical knowledge?  How can a student get the most from St. Francis de Sales without an understanding of the sacraments, their components and effects?

In high school, the lack of catechesis during and prior to matriculation leaves students open to the worst of heresies.  Without a firm basis in the faith, and with the state of analytical thinking at its nadir, the love-crush of comparative religions in our high schools leaves students to consider competing religious claims as a group of competing billboards and slogans, instead of a life-or-death question of truth and error.

We have "Catholic" schools that promise escape from poor quality or dangerous public schools.  We have those that promise entry into a particular social group or class--  a window to opportunity in the world.  And we have plain old wacky, semi-Catholic "progressive" schools. 

What we need are really, truly, Catholic schools.  Ones where children learn and love the faith.  Start one.  Just one.  Make it known.  I would wager that one such school will attract those Catholics who care about the faith, and will be successful.  Perhaps, just perhaps, the example will breed.  Start with one regional high school and grade school, and see what happens.

2.  Homeschooling:  Challenge and Opportunity

The type of vibrantly Catholic school I envision above would be exactly the type of school to which most Catholic homeschoolers would have gladly flocked had it been available when they made their decision to go it at home.  Once a family has success with homeschooling and finds it to be, for them, a better means to form their children, then the situation changes.  Many of those same homeschoolers, once they have begun, would not seek to enroll their children in any traditional school, even a truly Catholic one.  For them, that die is cast.  

But some would, for overall convenience, though they might prefer homeschooling.  And some homeschoolers would gladly enroll because the only reason they homeschool is due to lack of reasonable alternative.  The vibrantly Catholic school will still draw from the much larger group of families currently unhappily enrolled in their parish school, or who are enrolled in the public school because they lack a Catholic alternative.

So, is homeschooling "competition" to the Catholic school?  Perhaps, but it needn't be.  Instead of our schools being stuck in a rigid structural posture of a century ago, it is time for them to consider new alternatives.  The alternative I propose for discussion is the hybrid home/parish school.

In some ways this is prefigured by the growing number of homeschool coops in the Archdiocese.  Parents who teach the bulk of their curriculum at home come together with other homeschoolers to cover certain classes, or extracurricular activities, that they don't feel as comfortable teaching, or that they can't do alone, e.g., science lab, foreign language, drama, catechism from a certain Salesian society of priests, etc.  The parent remains directly in control of the curriculum and chooses to share a bit of the burden.

As the enrollment at parochial schools began to dip, it was natural that a cooperation between full and part-time families would have been unworkable and was resisted.  Yet now, what is there to lose?  What better way to add vitality and Catholic identity than to make common cause with those parents of a parish that choose to directly exercise their right and obligation to educate their children?

A school could offer a full-time curriculum, a part-time set curriculum, and a voluntary curriculum.  There could be the community coop program, where parents could send their children one, two or three days a week.  Teachers could serve as tutors or educational consultants to assist-- not usurp-- the parent teachers.  Tuition could be based on a sliding scale of services used. 

Extracurricular activities could be open to all.  This seems to be of minor importance, but in high school, a homeschooled child has very little opportunity to play organized sports, especially the ones that require large teams.  The MSHSAA excludes homeschoolers from playing with their neighborhood school.  This cooperative school model would address this specific problem at least.

Again, this post is by nature of space speculative, but I can see such an innovative program drawing Catholics from a regional area.  Why not start a pilot parish school and see where it leads?

3.  Wichita Model:  Can It Work Here?

Returning to the more traditional notion of the parochial school, the question of cost is huge.  It is good to encourage families to live out Catholic teaching on the primary end of marriage, but what are our schools, and parishes, doing to give this practical effect?  Of course we need sound teaching in the classroom and sound preaching from the pulpit.  But each child adds cost to the equation of education.

Some schools used to give discounts for "additional children", and some still do.  I used to be on a parish school board that charged X for tuition for one child, X +$500 for the second, and no additional tuition for subsequent children.  Over time, these discounts were reduced and all but eliminated.

The problem is that the thinking about "tuition" is wrongly focused.  If Catholic formation is the goal, this is a parish duty.  It is a duty of every Catholic.  By charging tuition as a fee for service, it reduces the decision-making to a more utilitarian model.

For example, I have proposed that more children would ensure the vitality of the Catholic schools.  Yet I have heard pastors and parents retort that each additional child from one family (assuming any tuition discount involved) costs the school more money and actually endangers its viability.  I get the point, but it is incredibly short sighted, because it only accounts for one generation of student. 

If the children of a two-child family marry children from same-sized families and each new family produces two children each, there is a net gain of zero additional families.  They merely replace the same number of families.  But if these same children marry and produce four children, there is a net gain of two families-- first generation of two, second generation of four.  Consider if they had six children, and so on.  And that is just one new generation; picture this continuing over three or four.  Over a short time there are now many income-earning families to share the costs of education.

Now, to get there from here, consider this possibility:  the Wichita Diocese has a model of parish support for education that is completely penalty-free for large families, and which greatly encourages participation of the school families with the sacramental life of the parish. There is no tuition in the Wichita Diocese.  You commit to a certain level of parish stewardship, and the school is free.

Kansas Catholic sent me a link to a post he made on the subject here.  Take a look at this and come back.

Back?  O.K.  Of course under this plan there is no "free" lunch.  But what it does do is to explicitly place the formation of children in the basket of parish concerns.  It diminishes the all-too-normal dichotomy of "school" families and "parish" families.  It brings the adults back to the church as a necessary part of sending their children there.  And hence, in our "vibrantly Catholic" school above, the parents, too, will begin to learn that faith that is theirs from the font, but which was neglected in the wilderness of the last four decades.

Extrapolate faith, children, vocations and families over time, and you have something.  Maybe the schools can be saved by doing what they used to do:  raise and form Catholic children  who become Catholic adults-- Catholics with the tools to "work out their salvation with fear and trembling."

That's long enough for a start.  Feel free to comment.

The Media Ponders Actuarial Probabilities

Again, to quote Marek Bozek when Cardinal-designate Burke was promoted, but with perhaps a different meaning:  "Rejoice, St. Louis; beware, rest of world!"  From STL Today:

At 62, Burke's influence at the Vatican will be long-standing

When Pope Benedict XVI listed his picks for new cardinals Wednesday, the sixth name out of his mouth was Archbishop Raymond Burke.

Coincidentally, just six of the 179 current cardinals are younger than the 62-year-old Burke.

That could make the former St. Louis archbishop a key figure when it comes to a cardinal's most important job: electing the next pope. Burke is young enough to potentially vote for two, or even three, popes over the next two decades. Cardinals traditionally elect a pope from among their own College of Cardinals.

With the appointments Burke already holds to influential Vatican committees, observers say he may be one of the most powerful church officials in coming years.

"He's a significant player within the intricacies of the church," Thomas Groome, theology professor at Boston College, said of Burke. "He'll certainly have a key role advising this pope and then electing and advising the next one."


20 October 2010

It's Official: The Holy Father Announces that Archbishop Burke Will Be Made a Cardinal at the November 20 Consistory

Say it with me:  CardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinal BurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurkeCardinalBurke.

Cardinal Burke!

Well, until November 20, 2010, it's technically Cardinal-designate Burke.

The Holy Father named 24 prelates in all, including Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith of Columbo, Sri Lanka, who, like Cardinal-elect Burke, is a great friend to liturgical restoration and is steadfast in doctrinal fidelity.

The full list:

From the curia:

Angelo Amato (Saints), Fortunato Baldelli (Apostolic Penitentiary), Raymond Leo Burke (Signatura), Velasio de Paolis (Economic Affairs), Francesco Monterisi (Archpriest of Saint Paul), Kurt Koch (Christian Unity), Gianfranco Ravasi (Culture), Paolo Sardi, Robert Sarah (Cor Unum), Mauro Piacenza (Clergy).

Resdidential Archbishops:

Antonios Naguib, Alexandria (Egypt); Paolo Romeo, Palermo (Italy); Reinhrad Marx, Munich and Freising (Germany); Kazimierz Nycz, Warsaw (Poland); Donald William Wuerl, Washington (USA); Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Kinshasa (Congo): Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, Lusaka (Zambia); Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patanbendige Don, Colombo (Sri Lanka); Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Quito (Ecuador); Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Aparecida (Brazil).

And, non-voting Cardinals over age 80:

Elio Sgreccia (Italy), José Manuel Estepa Llaurens (Spain), Walter Brandmuller (Germany), Domenico Bartolucci (Italy - pictured above with the Holy Father).

Archbishop Burke issued the following statement:

I am deeply humbled and honored by the announcement that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI intends to name me to the College of Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church at the Consistory which he has convoked for this coming November 20th. Having received the news of the Holy Father’s intention, I express my deepest gratitude to His Holiness for the great confidence which he has placed in me, and I renew my commitment to serve Him, as Shepherd of the universal Church, in total fidelity and with all my being.

 Considering the weighty responsibilities of the members of the College of Cardinals in assisting the Holy Father as his closest co-workers, even “to the shedding of blood,” I am more than ever conscious of my own weakness and of my total dependence upon the help of divine grace, in order that I may fulfill worthily and generously the responsibilities which will be mine, God willing, as a Cardinal of the Church.

I count upon the continued intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Communion of Saints, and the prayers of the many faithful whom I have been blessed to serve as priest and Bishop, especially in my home diocese, the Diocese of La Crosse, and in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, and of those with whom I have been, in the past, and am now privileged to serve in the Roman Curia, especially my co-workers at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Only the knowledge of God’s immeasurable and unceasing outpouring of mercy and love from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus gives me the confidence to accept the great honor and burden which His Holiness intends to confer upon me.

Today’s announcement turns my thoughts with deepest affection and gratitude to my late parents and all my family, living and deceased; and to the priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful who have assisted me to know my vocation to the Holy Priesthood and to respond to it with an undivided heart over the more than thirty-five years of my priestly life and ministry. Today, with all my heart, I humbly thank God for the gifts of life, of the Catholic faith, and of my vocation.

At the same time, my thoughts naturally turn to the many challenges which the Church faces in our day in carrying out her divine mission for the salvation of the world. In particular, I am deeply conscious of the critical importance of the loving witness of the Church to the truth, revealed to us by God through both faith and reason, which alone is our salvation. It is a witness which Our Holy Father tirelessly gives with remarkable wisdom and courage. I pledge myself anew to assist Pope Benedict XVI in this critical witness and in the many works of his pastoral charity on behalf of all our brothers and sisters in the Church and in the world.

 I ask for prayers that I may be able to assist our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the best of my ability and with every ounce of my strength. I, once again, place my whole heart, together with the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, into the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, I am confident that I will find the purification, courage and strength which I will need to carry out the new responsibilities to be confided into my hands. I thank, in advance, all who will pray for me, and ask God to bless them abundantly.

And Archbishop Carlson issued this statement:

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is very proud Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, presently Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura and Archbishop Emeritus of St. Louis, will be elevated by Pope Benedict XVI to the Sacred College of Cardinals at a Consistory in Rome on November 20, 2010.

 Cardinal-designate Burke will be the fifth person who served as Archbishop of Saint Louis to be elevated to the College of Cardinals, after John Joseph Cardinal Glennon (1946), Joseph Elmer Cardinal Ritter (1961), John Joseph Cardinal Carberry (1969) and Justin Francis Cardinal Rigali (2003).

 In the Catholic Church, Cardinals constitute a special body (Sacred College of Cardinals) whose primary responsibility is to elect a new pope. The Cardinals also serve as special advisors to the Holy Father —either individually or when they are called together to deal with issues of major importance.

 Cardinal-designate Burke’s faithfulness and service to the Church have served the people of St. Louis well, and we proudly extend to him our congratulations, best wishes, and promise of prayerful support.

More on the announcement can be found on the Archdiocesan site, which has a consistory information page, and the official announcement is found at the Vatican site.

Thanks be to God for this wonderful news!

19 October 2010

I Guess the Archdiocese is Not All That Close to a Settlement with St. Schism's

It takes some doing to keep up with the antics of the schismatic, formerly-Catholic, former parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka.  In other words, if I tried to refrain from blogging except for St. Stan's news, I could still make this a weekly publication.

Now the schismatic Board, long now in disrepute, are suing the law firm hired by the Archdiocese to bring its recent civil lawsuit.  Why?  They allege that Greensfelder, Hemker and Gale (the Archdiocese's normal counsel on a wide variety of issues, based in St. Louis, but with an office in Belleville, IL) colluded with a former advisor to the Board to bring a lawsuit using confidential information in violation of legal ethics and fiduciary duty. 

This former advisor, Mr. Roger Krasnicki, was involved initially with the scheme to hire Mr. Bozek, who incurred excommunication for a host of reasons over the last five years, but who initially violated his oath of obedience to his Ordinary, the Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, in order to usurp the role of pastor at St. Stan's. 

Since that time, Bozek has preached heterodoxy from the pulpit, attended and supported the fake ordination of the two gals who pretended to be made priestesses by the fake lady bishop at the oh-so-ecumenical-we-don't-want-to-burn-that-bridge synagogue headed by Rabbi Susan Talve, celebrated illicit Masses and attempted to confer other sacraments that were invalid, cozied up to the Moonies, scored a neat BMW and bachelor pad, and incited contumely upon the Archbishop of Saint Louis, all while playing the grainy video footage of Christmas Eve Mass 2005--the last time that building had a crowd in it-- in a continuous loop for any media outlet who asked for it and for most others who didn't.

(Pause for breath

If there were any doubt about his excommunication, Archbishop Burke was good enough to clarify the matter.  Finally, Mr. Bozek was degraded from the clerical state.

Whatever his initial part, Mr. Krasnicki has long ago repented of his actions, sought reconciliation with the Archbishop, and has done much to repair the damage caused.  You may recall this interview he gave me back in 2008, where he describes some of the details of the schism at St. Stan's.  This of course has made him an enemy of his former acquaintances.  And don't hold your breath for the good folks at St. Stan's to show him any mercy.

This other past post cites to an old Post-Dispatch story and summarizes Mr. Krasnicki's defense to any charges of wrongdoing.  I ask readers to keep him in your prayers, as he is undoubtedly going through a difficult time of persecution.

Below are excerpts from the story about the suit, which is filed in Illinois though Greensfelder is headquartered in St. Louis.  Ah, Illinois, friend of plaintiffs' lawyers! 

Church Fires Blast at Illinois Law Firm

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (CN) - Attorneys at Belleville-based Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale "violated every relevant ethical duty and breached virtually every rule in the Rules of Professional Conduct" in getting a former partner to file a lawsuit against the Polish Roman Catholic St. Stanislaus Corp., the church claims in St. Clair County Court.

The church claims "that Greensfelder attorneys encouraged, induced, and incited Roger Krasnicki, the former attorney to St. Stanislaus, to violate his fiduciary duties and ethical obligations to his former client to the damage of St. Stanislaus in the millions of dollars," the complaint states.

St. Stanislaus has had a long-running property dispute with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese.

St. Stanislaus, based in St. Louis, claims Greensfelder, who represented the Archdiocese, planted a spy to give it confidential information.

St. Stanislaus claims the defendant law office never would have "had the legal theory" to bring its lawsuit without the information it gained from "the spy."

The church says Greensfelder knew its behavior was unethical and tried to cover it up.

St. Stanislaus claims Krasnicki violated attorney-client privilege by turning over St. Stanislaus' confidential information to Greensfelder and by acting as co-counselor in the lawsuit.

"(T)wo days after the church lawsuit was filed, Roger Krasnicki and Greensfelder entered a 'Confidential Joint Litigation Agreement' in an apparent attempt to ensure their relationship would remain a secret," the complaint states. "Responding to Krasnicki's concerns about his ethical and professional obligation under the ethical rules, the Greensfelder team determined that a Confidential Joint Litigation Agreement would best cover up the significant role St. Stanislaus' former lawyer played in initiating, planning, strategizing, and helping to prosecute the church lawsuit."

St. Stanislaus seeks punitive damages for aiding and abetting and breach of fiduciary duties and ethical obligations.

Welcome Wagga Wagga, New South Wales

I just wanted to send greetings to the reader who just checked in from Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia.

I just thought that sounded too cool.  Cheers to the sunburnt country!

18 October 2010

His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Louis-- How Would That Sound?

That His Grace Archbishop Burke is in line to be made Cardinal at the next consistory is not news.  What is news is what we have been praying for since his elevation to Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura--a firm date.

The rumor mill is strong that this Wednesday the Holy Father will announce the next consistory to name new Cardinals.  The date of this consistory is reported to be the (new calendar) Feast of Christ the King in November.  Archbishop Burke is among the names mentioned; but keep praying until the deal is done.

In case you are wondering what kind of Cardinal he would be, I think his steadfast past conduct as a Bishop and Archbishop is a good guide.  I pulled this excerpt of a story from California Catholic Daily about remarks made last week by the Archbishop:

“When the shepherds of the flock are obedient to the Magisterium, entrusted to their exercise, then surely the members of the flock grow in obedience and proceed with Christ along the way of salvation,” he said. “If the shepherd is not obedient the flock easily gives way to confusion and error.”

Burke, who is also a member of the Congregation for Bishops added: “A most tragic example of the lack of obedience of faith, also on the part of certain Bishops, was the response of many to the Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae of Pope Paul VI, published on July 25, 1968. The confusion which resulted has led many Catholics into habits of sin in what pertains to the procreation and education of human life.”

Humanae Vitae reiterated age-old Christian teaching on the immorality of the use of artificial contraception. However, after its publication the encyclical was repudiated by many within the Catholic Church, including priests and bishops, who had believed that the Church would change its views on contraception.

Turning to the issue of scandal within the Church, the archbishop said, “We find self-professed Catholics, for example, who sustain and support the right of a woman to procure the death of the infant in her womb, or the right of two persons of the same sex to the recognition which the State gives to a man and a woman who have entered into marriage. It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself publicly in this manner.”

To resounding applause Burke said, “When a person has publicly espoused and cooperated in gravely sinful acts, leading many into confusion and error about fundamental questions of respect for human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, his repentance of such actions must also be public.”

The Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura then voiced a concern that struck a deep chord with many of the Catholic pro-life activists present at the conference. “One of the ironies of the present situation is that the person who experiences scandal at the gravely sinful public actions of a fellow Catholic is accused of a lack of charity and of causing division within the unity of the Church,” he said. “One sees the hand of the Father of Lies at work in the disregard for the situation of scandal or in the ridicule and even censure of those who experience scandal.”

The Vatican prelate concluded the point stating:

“Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity. A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church. The Church’s unity is founded on speaking the truth with love. The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life. Were he not to experience scandal at the public support of attacks on human life and the family, his conscience would be uninformed or dulled about the most sacred realities.”


 ...to the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine, who prevailed over the "Blue Birettas" of St. Francis de Sales Oratory in the Inaugural St. Lawrence Gridiron Classic, 42-21.  These photos are courtesy of Mary S., one of the hundreds-- and I mean hundreds-- of family, friends, and tailgating friends who represented a great Catholic cultural tour-de-force on a beautiful Fall Sunday.

The game was hard-fought, but no one was hurt, least of all me.  When I woke up this morning able to walk, I considered it a definitive success.  Everybody had a great time, and better luck to the Blue Birettas next year.

At prayer

Go Blue Birettas!  banner courtesy of the SFDS homeschool co-op

Have you ever seen a priest run routes?

Touchdown play

The black horde was too much

16 October 2010

On the Eve of Battle

By the yawning tree in the twilight
The King unbound his sword,
Severed the harp of all his goods,
And there in the cool and soundless woods
Sounded a single chord.

Then laughed; and watched the finches flash,
The sullen flies in swarm,
And went unarmed over the hills,
With the harp upon his arm,

Until he came to the White Horse Vale

And saw across the plains,
In the twilight high and far and fell,
Like the fiery terraces of hell,
The camp fires of the Danes--

The fires of the Great Army
That was made of iron men,
Whose lights of sacrilege and scorn
Ran around England red as morn,
Fires over Glastonbury Thorn--
Fires out on Ely Fen.


King Alfred gazed all sorrowful
At thistle and mosses grey,
Then laughed; and watched the finches flash,
Till a rally of Danes with shield and bill
Rolled drunk over the dome of the hill,
And, hearing of his harp and skill,
They dragged him to their play.

And as they went through the high green grass
They roared like the great green sea;
But when they came to the red camp fire
They were silent suddenly.

And as they went up the wastes away
They went reeling to and fro;
But when they came to the red camp fire
They stood all in a row.


He sang of war in the warm wet shires,
Where rain nor fruitage fails,
Where England of the motley states
Deepens like a garden to the gates
In the purple walls of Wales.

He sang of the seas of savage heads
And the seas and seas of spears,
Boiling all over Offa's Dyke,
What time a Wessex club could strike
The kings of the mountaineers.

--G.K. Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse


Oh, yes, a reminder-- the Inaugural St. Lawrence Gridiron Classic Battle of the Oratories, Sunday, 2 pm, at Priory

15 October 2010

Photos of the Vows of the Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Christ Sovereign Priest

Six novices of the Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Christ, Sovereign Priest took vows this past September 29, 2010, the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, at the Church of San Michele e Gaetano in Florence, Italy.  One of them, Sister Roxane-Marie of the Infant Jesus King, is well-known to us in St. Louis.

Arrival: Mother Caroline Marie of the Trinity in front, followed next by Sister Roxane-Marie.

Vows, with Monsignor Gilles Wach, Prior General of the Institute

 Holy Communion

Then, on October 2, 2010, the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, three postulants took the habit from the hands of Cardinal Canizares-Llovera in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in Gricigliano, and became postulants.

Prior to the ceremony: a bride of Christ

Right:  The three are ready

Left:  Taking the habit from Cardinal Canizares-Llovera

New novices and the Cardinal after the ceremony

Many more beautiful photos are at the links above.  Praise God for these precious vocations!

Feast of Saint Teresa of Avila

Let nothing disturb thee,

Nothing affright thee;

All things are passing;

God never changeth;

Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;

Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;

Alone God sufficeth.

14 October 2010

The Non-News News-Flash: Contracepting Away the Catholic School

The STLToday story on the Epiphany school closing and its aftermath is causing quite a stir in the Archdiocese, and my post of yesterday about it has generated a lot of interest here.   Not only is it generating discussion in the combox, but I have received several very detailed and thoughtful emails about the problems facing Catholic education, an analysis of the causes, and speculating on some possible solutions.

And even while I was posting on the article and adding my own comments, I thought I would also follow up with a post about what could be done.  I intend to do that in the coming couple of days.  But first, there is one big issue (mentioned in the combox, but not the article) I want to address.

So, in order to continue the discussion, here are some additional thoughts.

When dealing with the cause of the dwindling enrollments, we typically focus on the city of St. Louis, and in the STLToday article it specifically dealt with one city parish school.  This focus can obscure that the drop in numbers is not just population shifts (whether it is "white flight", or bigger homes in the county, or better highways and roads allowing for easier commutes to the cities), but much, much, more importantly, one of the biggest elephants in the Catholic education room, and one that affects all Catholic schools, city and county:


Contraception obviously leads to couples having fewer children than they would likely have had.  Hence the name.

But contraception also contributes to promiscuity before marriage, adultery within marriage, destabilizes homes, and perversely enough leads to more abortions, as the couple who sought to pervert the marital act to serve their own ends is often led to take it one step further and "end a pregnancy" they bought drugs or devices to prevent.

Providentially, the Catholic Church teaches unequivocally that contraception is gravely sinful matter and may not be used by Catholics.


This is not a news flash, but Catholics today contracept at a rate similar to non-Catholics:

The Center of Disease Control and Prevention 2002 National Survey of Family Growth revealed that 97% of American Catholic women over age 18 have used a form of contraception, which is the same percentage as the general population. A 2005 nationwide poll of 2,242 U.S. adults by Harris Interactive showed that 90% of Catholics supported the use of birth control.

And Janet Smith writes that thirty percent of Catholics are sterilized, which is the same rate as the rest of the population.

Ironically, the pastors and schools that were supposed to pass on the Catholic faith have, by their willful and/or reckless failure to do so, have nearly choked off the vitality of that system.  The Church's pastors all too o
ften enabled the Church's laity to reject the truth about contraception, either by failing to preach it, failing to admonish the faithful tempted by it, or even by tacitly reassuring some that it was just not a big deal.

Sermons on contraception are seldom heard.  In my lifetime, other than at a traditional Mass, I have heard two (one was by Bishop Hermann).  Pastors don't wish to upset parishioners because they might go away, or stop contributing money to the collection, and times are tight enough.  Yet the loss of nerve in passing on the faith makes the faith itself less appealing, precisely because it is less demanding.  Good things are worth sacrifice.

The schools traded in the Baltimore Catechism for a more "sophisticated" approach, which is a nice way of saying that the Baltimore Catechism was uncomfortably uncompromising in its presentation of the truth.  The catechisms and personal sins were thrown out, workbooks and collective sins were brought in.  The faith was traded for a mess of pottage.

Yes, the sisters and brothers-- the "cheap labor"-- went away.  But this wasn't because a meteor hit the earth and wiped them out.  It is because vocations dried up after the post-Vatican II Church made it clear that a lifetime of sacrifice (including making a total gift of one's sexuality to serve God better) was no longer valued, and no longer desirable.  The prayer warriors of the cloisters were traded in for leftists running interference for the Sandinistas, and social workers filling out government aid forms.

The Catholic faith is true and timeless.  But for four decades, it has been hidden, misrepresented, scorned, ignored and even opposed by many clergy and laity.  

Even the change to the Mass has negatively affected the passing on of the faith.  The old Mass reflected the truths of the faith, and uncompromisingly presented them to the faithful. It was cashiered for a new form of Mass.  Of course the new Mass is valid.  But it less obviously reflects and presents the faith.  This sounds provocative, but let me ask you: do you think the old or the new Mass better reflects the Catholic teaching on Transubstantiation?  Yet now, there is a dichotomy between faith and praxis.  Now, to be Catholic means to give intellectual assent to the truths of the faith, while somehow liturgy is a mere matter of taste.  With all due respect, this is not an historically Catholic attitude.

Moreover, this attitude that liturgy is merely a matter of taste makes it awfully tempting to hold that doctrine, too, is merely a matter of taste.  Like whether one uses contraception.

When you look at empty schools, you see the result of empty wombs.