29 July 2011

Important Headcovering News from Rome

With all of the recent confusion over the immemorial custom of women covering their heads at Mass, and whether there has been any change to its obligatory nature, Holy Mother Church once again steps in to provide guidance for her children.

In his ongoing pastoral care, and as part of his program for liturgical restoration, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has today announced that indeed the obligation for women to cover their heads at Mass continues to be in full force and effect.  Yet, because the Holy Father believes in organic development in the liturgy, he has changed the nature of the type of headcovering to be used.

Instead of the venerable mantilla, the Holy Father has mandated that women must wear a snood at Mass.  Link here.

What is a snood?  It's easier to show than describe.  Here is photo of one:

And don't think that the snood is just some novelty.  No sir!  It has been around for centuries, as this nifty painting will attest:

Even in the tumultuous 1940s, women wore these practical, yet oh-so-stylish lids while manning the Papal factories.  Here is a photo of some ladies putting the finishing touches on a sedia gestatoria:

The trend towards snoods is affecting other sectors of modern life, and even other religious and cultural movements.  For example, the Rasta-snood:

Even the "womenpriest" movement is getting into the act. This promotional photo (of paid models, not the galpriests themselves--or did I even need to point that out?) shows their new priest-chic line:

In retrospect, this may explain why Cardinal Burke assured his recent correspondent that a veil was no longer expected.  The great Cardinal was almost certainly in the know, but didn't dare reveal the glorious destiny that was to confront the snood.

However, not everyone can wear them.  Sorry, Your Holiness, but you will have to remove that when you enter St. Peter's:

Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections.

~St. Francis de Sales

Which Political Party Controls the House of Representatives?

And does it matter?

The Republicans have passed out of committee legislation requiring internet providers to keep logs of their customers' activities for one year--in case police want to review them in the future.  The story below calls this a victory for "conservative" Republicans.  War is peace. Freedom is slavery.  Ignorance is strength.

House panel approves broadened ISP snooping bill

28 July 2011

Local News Roundup

Today brings a remarkable collection of stories of interest from our local newspaper of record:

1.  The police officer who wished a local drunk a Happy New Year in this video has been exonerated of any wrongdoing (although the sergeant who told him not to file a required report is retiring).

2.  In a story I won't link, or even explain all that much due to the grotesque content, an owner of an "S&M" club seeks city approval of what would be the first such legal "for-profit" enterprise in Missouri.  If you must read the story, search STLToday for yourself.  I post about it because a supporter "sees [the] effort as a civil rights issue."[He] is definitely pushing the envelope in order to make things more mainstream," she said.

Hmmm, a "civil rights issue" done "in order to make things more mainstream."  Does that sound familiar?  That brings us to two more stories...

3.  Nearly one-fourth of "gay-couple" households in the area are raising kids.  I suspect that DCFS isn't that concerned.

4.  Following the lead of the department of redundancy department's favorite burg (the City of University City), the more pedestrian-named City of Olivette now has passed two so-called "gay-rights" measures, including a domestic partner registry.

And who says there isn't any good news anymore?

"If you will hate her quite so much, then I will love her more."

The talk continued about the Church.  Dan, it appeared, was much entertained by those who considered the Church to be totalitarian.

"You'd think, to hear some good people talk," he said, "the Church has some sort of secret Swiss Guard like a slave state's secret police to seize me in the dead of the night if I should deny her authority.  The truth is I am the police, the judge and the jury-- I am the jailer and the firing squad.

"If I gave up going to church and apostatized, no one I know of would be the least concerned except my lovely Doris here.  The bishop, who never heard of me, would certainly not chase after me in great perturbation.  And if I took up a life of crime, about the only interest in me would come from the police.  The truth is, alas, I'm free to go to hell any way I wish.  My salvation is my own personal problem.  The Church is about as totalitarian as my own dear mother was.  It might have been better for me if both of them had had a little of the totalitarian in them."

He sipped his wine.  "And so far as the Pope and the hierarchy being a gang of political schemers plotting like a bureau of internationalists to take over countries of the world--!"  He laughed again.  "In recent centuries, the guardians of the Church have, with few exceptions, been politically so innocent that the Church's survival can be explained only in terms of her divinity.  And this I hold is good.  Far better political failure and spiritual progress than the other way around, as happens with nationalist churches whose desire for security commits them to the devious practices of politics and hence to compromise, and dooms them thus to eventual extinction.

"But the shepherds of the Church are always and in every way suspect, as the First Shepherd was always and in every way suspect.  Whatever is done or said, even if it is only the warning of the threat divorce is to the home and hence to the nation, is misconstrued as being against the freedom of man and even against the welfare of the country.  He who insists on the rules of the game becomes by strange reasoning the enemy of liberty.  But so it must be, I suppose.  The absolute is always suspect. [...]

"Once, one of these invectives against old Mother Church so put me in a dither that I could not write a letter.  I wrote some verse instead."  He smiled, took a little wine.  "It is always good when you are in a dither to write verse." [...]

The towering beauty of my Love
I had not known before;
If you will hate her quite so much
Then I will love her more.

I knew her fair, I knew her sweet,
But not so sweet and fair
That she should drive you blind with rage
And wild with such despair.

I looked on her with common eyes, 
As on a common face,
And looking so did not discern
Her glory nor her grace.

But that was ere you made me see
How fair she is and great:
I had not known of half my love
Until I knew your hate!

--from Dan England and the Noonday Devil, by Myles Connolly

27 July 2011

26 July 2011

Change to Mass Schedule at St. Elizabeth's to Include Ordinary Form with Latin

A reader was kind enough to email about the addition of an Ordinary Form Mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary at 12:30pm on Sundays.  At this Mass, the ordinary parts of the Mass will be prayed in Latin, while the propers will be in English.  Below is the bulletin announcement in its entirety, followed by my comments:

Sunday Mass Schedule

Beginning August 7th, the Sunday Masses to be offered at St. Elizabeth will be at 8:00am, 10:30am, and 12:30pm.  The 12:30pm Mass will be the same Mass of Vatican II with which all will be familiar, except parts will be in Latin and parts in English.  The parts of the Mass which change each week will be in English (the proper prayers, the readings, and the prayers of the faithful), and the parts of the Mass that remain fixed each week will be in Latin (including the Eucharistic prayer and acclamations).  A book will be provided so all may participate in the sung or recited Latin parts. 

The last Sunday in which the 1:30pm 
Extraordinary Form of the Mass will be offered will be Sunday, July 31st.  The Extraordinary Form of the Mass is offered at St. Francis de Sales Church and the Oratory of St. Gregory and St. Augustine at St. Louis Abbey.

The 12:30pm Latin/English Mass is being offered at St. Elizabeth as a pastoral response to those who have inquired about the possibility of a Latin Mass here.  The Mass will be offered for a period of time and will continue if there is sufficient interest and attendance.


1.  There is a lot to say here.  First of all, any time the Ordinary Form is celebrated as close to the rubrics and with as great a solemnity as possible, that is a good thing.  If the OF is celebrated with more Latin, thus opening up the mother tongue of our faith to more Catholics, that is a positive.  If this OF Mass is celebrated ad orientem (the bulletin announcement is completely silent about this), this is even better.  Such an initiative is to be encouraged, and I personally pray that the many Catholics who prefer the Ordinary Form, but who are faced with the types of liturgical abuses which are all too common in many places, and who wish a more reverent liturgy, will assist at this Mass.

So I wish to emphasize before continuing, that I am grateful to the parish and the Archbishop for providing another such Ordinary Form, alongside the OF in Latin, ad orientem, currently regularly offered at St. Mary of Victories Parish.  Thank you.

2.  Now, that being said, the Ordinary Form is not the Extraordinary Form.  Latin is not the key issue.  Latin is used in the Extraordinary Form because that is what is prescribed for that form by the Church.  The language, in and of itself, is not the issue.  Certainly Latin is beautiful, elevated and due to its history and usage by the Church, extremely well-suited for the Mass.  But the faithful who assist at the Extraordinary Form, with very few exceptions, are not motivated by Latin as much as they are with the fact that the EF is superior in its expression of the truth that both forms inherently contain.  The prayers are more theologically precise and unambiguous; the rubrics diminish the personality of the priest and focus the attention on the sacrifice of the altar; there is greater opportunity for contemplation, meditation and reflection; and generally, they believe the reasons why this Form was the rite of Mass handed down over the course of 1,500 years and more as a priceless treasure continue to be just as true and relevant today.

To offer one form of Mass as a substitute for the other just because some Latin is used is to miss the point.

3.  The bulletin announcement, which refers to the Ordinary Form as the "same Mass of Vatican II" is  guilty of some irony, as it is actually historically inaccurate.  The Mass of Vatican II was actually what is now referred to as the Extraordinary Form.  Every Mass said by every priest, prelate and pope during the Council was the Extraordinary Form.  No document of Vatican II called for the kind of Mass that was produced in 1969-- four years after the council ended.  The OF was not mandated by the Council at all.  It was devised later, and not in conformity with any document issued by the Council.

4.  It is good that the bulletin mentions that the EF is offered at other locations.  But the OF in Latin is also offered in at least one other location.  Just because the EF is offered elsewhere, or that the OF is more correctly celebrated elsewhere, doesn't speak to whether the local parish should, can or will offer the particular form.  Of course there may be reasons why it cannot be offered; I am just stating that pointing to another location does not, in itself, satisfy.

5.  In charity, assuming the best of motives by the parish, the final paragraph of the announcement is troubling.  To say that this Mass is a pastoral response to those who have inquired as to the possibility of a "Latin Mass" doesn't quite do it.  First of all, people have no doubt requested that the Extraordinary Form be offered-- not a mere "Latin Mass", though that term is sometimes used as a shorthand reference.  Again, an OF Mass with Latin is a wonderful development, but it isn't the proper pastoral response to a group that requests the EF.  From the Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum:

Art. 5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued implementing regulations for the motu proprio in a document called Universae Ecclesiae, which states in relevant part:

15. A coetus fidelium ("group of the faithful") can be said to be stabiliter existens ("existing in a stable manner"), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum", when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such a coetus ("group") can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose.

Therefore, the expected pastoral response to a request by a group of the faithful for the Extraordinary Form in a parish is to offer the Extraordinary Form-- not to offer the Ordinary Form in Latin.  Of course it may not be possible for a particular parish to offer the EF right away because of lack of priests who know how to say it, or for some other good reason.  Offering the Ordinary Form in Latin may be the best a particular priest or parish can do in the near term.  But one is hard put to call this the pastoral response.  

6.  Part of the reason why this is so is because in the past, under the pre-Summorum Pontificum era, many places thought to thwart the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei by simply offering the Ordinary Form in Latin, as though this would cure the bug of the deluded old-timers who were still somehow clinging to the past.  In light of that historical reality, the ending sentence of the bulletin announcement that this Mass would be offered "for a time" and as long as there is "sufficient interest and attendance" can appear to be a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy:  the EF is asked for, the "Latin Mass" offered is not attended by those persons, and it is discontinued.  Thus, one could say there is "no interest" for the "Latin Mass" at this parish.  I presume this is not the intent of St. Elizabeth's; I presume this Mass is being offered with good intentions and out of concern for parishioners.  And I hope the Mass is packed.  But should it not be, and should the attendance lag, I would contend that no one should think that the rightful request of the stable group of faithful for the Extraordinary Form had been adequately addressed.

These are indeed difficult times in the Church.  People of good will can disagree over the best course of action in lots of situations.  I thought this matter deserved a post, and I beg readers to please, please think carefully about what you may wish to say in the combox, and how you go about saying it.  Many of us seek the greater availability of the Extraordinary Form.  Summorum Pontificum calls for its wide availability to the faithful.  But let us work out the truth in charity as we work for our goals.  God bless.

Psalm XLI

Quare tristis es, ánima mea? * et quare contúrbas me?
Spera in Deo, quóniam adhuc confitébor illi: * salutáre vultus mei, et Deus meus.

25 July 2011

"Catholics Line Up to See Cross and Veil Relics"

Fox 2 covered the relics exposition this past weekend at St. Francis de Sales Oratory.  My wife and I were able to make the Saturday event, so I can't speak to Friday's attendance.  If it were close to Saturday's turnout, it would have been huge.  The talk of Fr. Martens-- very informative-- was given to a full house in the Church hall prior to the display of relics in the Church.

It was a great blessing to those in attendance.  There were so many important relics that it was nearly overwhelming.  Imagine if you will stopping yourself, because you just sort of breezed past a relic of St. Luke the Evangelist, because, hey there were others just as great.  Each encounter with these relics-- nearly all of them first-class relics-- was a special means of intercessory prayer to these friends of God.  As Catholics, we believe in the communion of saints, and this was a very tangible reminder.

Others may have their own experiences to report, but I will pass along something my two oldest children told me afterwards.  My daughter and my son did not arrive together, and did not go through the exhibition together.  Yet at home, each of them told my wife and me that when they touched the relic of St. Alphonsus Liguori, they clearly smelled incense.  I was not fortunate enough to smell incense or roses, but I was glad to venerate relics of my patrons and those of Our Lord, Our Lady, St. Joseph and the Apostles.

All you Saints of God, pray for us!

Feast of St. James the Greater

Today is the feast of the Patron of Spain, where he is known as Santiago Matamoros (St. James Moorslayer); he and his brother St. John were called the "Sons of Thunder".  And he is patron saint of my youngest son, too.

Today is also the Feast of St. Christopher (yes, he's still a saint), and is commemorated in today's Mass.

There is a very edifying entry in Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year for St. James relevant to this title, an excerpt of which is below:

... And how did he justify his name of son of thunder, since his voice was heard by a mere handful of disciples in a desert of infidelity?

This new name, another special prerogative of the two brothers, was realized by John in his sublime writings... With regard to James, too, then, eternal Wisdom could not have been mistaken. Let it not be thought that the sword of any Herod could frustrate the designs of the most High upon the men of His choice. The life of the saints is never cut short; their death, ever precious, is still more so when in the cause of God it seems to come before the time. It is then that with double reason we may say their works follow them; God Himself being bound in honour, both for His own sake and for theirs, to see that nothing is wanting to their plenitude. As a victim of a holocaust, He hath received them, says the Holy Ghost, and in time there shall be respect had to them. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over peoples; and their Lord shall reign for ever. How literally was this divine oracle to be fulfilled with regard to our saint!

Nearly eight centuries, which to the heavenly citizens are but as a day, had passed over that tomb in the north of Spain, where two disciples had secretly laid the apostle's body. During that time the land of his inheritance, which he had so rapidly traversed, had been overrun first by Roman idolaters, then by Arian barbarians, and when the day of hope seemed about to dawn, a deeper night was ushered in by the Crescent. One day lights were seen glimmering over the briars that covered the monument; attention was drawn to the spot, which henceforth went by the name of the field of stars. But what are those sudden shouts coming down from the mountains, and echoing through the valleys? Who is this unknown chief rallying against an immense army the little worn-out troop whose heroic valour could not yesterday save it from defeat? Swift as lightning, and bearing in one hand a white standard with a red cross, he rushes with drawn sword upon the panic-stricken foe, and dyes the feet of his charger in the blood of 70,000 slain. Hail to the chief of the holy war, of which this Liturgical Year has so often made mention! St. James! St. James! Forward, Spain! It is the reappearance of the Galilean fisherman, whom the Man-God once called from the bark where he was mending his nets; of the elder son of thunder, now free to hurl the thunderbolt upon these new Samaritans, who pretend to honour the unity of God by making Christ no more than a prophet. Henceforth James shall be to Christian Spain the firebrand which the prophet saw, devouring all the people round about, to the right hand and to the left, until Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place in Jerusalem.

And when, after six centuries and a half of struggle, his standard bearers, the Catholic kings, had succeeded in driving the infidel hordes beyond the seas, the valiant leader of the Spanish armies laid aside his bright armour, and the slayer of Moors became once more a messenger of the faith. As fisher of men, he entered his bark, and gathering around it the gallant fleets of Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama, Albuquerque, he led them over unknown seas to lands that had never yet heard the name of the Lord. For his contribution to the labours of the twelve, James drew ashore his well-filled nets, from west and east and south, from new worlds, renewing Peter's astonishment at the sight of such captures. He, whose apostolate seemed at the time of Herod III to have been crushed in the bud before bearing any fruit, may say with St. Paul: I have no way come short of them that are above measure apostles, for by the grace of God, I have laboured more abundantly than all they.

St. James, pray for us!
St. Christopher, pray for us!

22 July 2011

Please Pray for the Apostolic Nuncio

The Apostolic Nunciature has made the following announcement:
The Most Reverend Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio, underwent a delicate lung surgery two weeks ago. Unfortunately, there have been post-surgery complications. Currently he has been placed on assisted ventilation to attempt recovery of his lung function. The Apostolic Nunciature and the Nuncio’s family kindly ask that Bishops, priests, religious, and lay faithful offer sacrifices and prayers for the health of the Apostolic Nuncio.

A Drama More Solemn Than Death, More Inspiring Than Birth

How bad a Catholic Dan was-- or how good-- is his business, his and his God's, certainly not mine.  I did learn from remarks of Doris' that he went to daily morning Mass, usually protesting, much in the manner of Chesterton, that only the power of Holy Mother Church could get him out of bed at so early an hour.  When once I remarked that it was difficult for me to picture him being so methodically devout, he looked at me with blinking incredulous eyes.

"There's nothing methodical about going to daily Mass," he said.  "Each morning holds a fresh and unique experience-- a drama more solemn than death, more inspiring than birth-- it is a drama of death and birth, really-- the one great drama since time began.

"We are all at heart ritualists, whether we know it or not, and participating in the ritual of the stupendous sacrifice, we shed our false and gaudy artificialities and swim into deep, primal seas-- plunge into coldly refreshing reality, and become, in an invigorating sense, our primitive selves again.  Morning Mass is a morning song as well as a morning sacrifice and good for the soul.  It is a time of detachment and offers the perfect hour not only for prayer but for orientation.  We are all racing toward eternity and it is then, in that morning hour, we can take time out, so to speak, to have a slow, quiet look at our distorted selves and our crazy world--and see both in placidly proper perspective.  A great simplification takes place, and lucidly, even radiantly, we see the things that matter-- and see, too, that the things that matter can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

"Morning Mass is a matchlessly healthy and practical way of starting the day.  So soon as the news gets about, I expect all the psychiatrists will be prescribing morning Mass for their patients whatever their belief or lack of it."

--from Dan England and the Noonday Devil, by Myles Connolly

Reminder: Relics Exhibit at St. Francis de Sales Oratory Tonight and Tomorrow

Tonight:  talk in the hall at 5:00pm; relics displayed in Church at 6:00pm

Tomorrow: talk in the hall at 9:00am; relics displayed in Church at 10:00am

Map and Directions

Feast of St. Mary Magdalen

I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and I found him not. 

The watchmen who keep the city, found me: Have you seen him, whom my soul loveth? 

When I had a little passed by them, I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him: and I will not let him go, till I bring him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that bore me. 

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and the harts of the fields, that you stir not up, nor awake my beloved, till she please.

Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell, the lamps thereof are fire and flames.

Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it: if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing.

Canticles 3: 2-5; 8: 6-7

Lord, we pray thee that we may be holpen by the pleading of Blessed Mary Magdalen, whose prayers so much availed with thee, that Thou didst call up her brother Lazarus living from the dead, when he had lain in the grave four days already.  Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.  Amen.

21 July 2011

Why are Catholic Seventh Graders Raising Money to Lobby for Abortion and Contraception?: A Case Study in Social Justice

This question, unfortunately, is not a hypothetical one.  And the ironic thing is that one may presume that these same students would probably participate in the March for Life as well.  How is it that a Seventh Grade class from Our Lady Queen of Peace School ended a week-long program about social justice by donating the money raised to, among other groups, Equality Now, which advocates for the legalization of abortion throughout the world and lobbies Congress in the United States to ensure funding for "family planning" programs?  

These children were participants in a program on "social justice" designed and implemented by their teachers and a parish priest. It was an in-depth and well-organized program.  It likely was developed with the best of intentions.  And yet, in the end, it produced the result of Catholic children donating money to causes that oppose teachings of the Catholic faith.  Moreover, the process itself involved the children being exposed to morally problematic material.

Why did this happen?  Perhaps the answer lies in divorcing the concept of social justice from its necessary precursors:  charity and truth.

In an analysis of Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, ("Charity in Truth"), Fr. Thomas Weinandy writes a fair summary:

...First Pope Benedict XVI articulates the Christian principles that establish all political, economic and social action. The key to this doctrinal foundation, and so to the whole of the encyclical’s teaching, is the title itself: “Charity in Truth.”

Charity in truth, to which Jesus bore witness, “is the principle driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity.” “Charity is at the heart of the church’s social doctrine.” Love is that “extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace.” Charity “is the principle not only of micro-relationships (with friends, with family member or within small groups) but also of macro-relationships (social, economic and political ones).”...

While charity lies at the very heart of all relationships, it can only be authentic if it tethers itself to truth. Deprived of truth, love “becomes an empty shell.” Without truth, love falls prey to sentimentality, subjective emotions and mere opinions all of which abuse and distort love. “Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity.”...

This boils down the relationship among truth, charity and social justice; without the right foundation, social justice because mere political activism. And political activism in and of itself is not a guaranty of Catholicity.

Teachers have a responsibility to teach the Catholic faith to their charges.  This responsibility includes ensuring doctrinal clarity and support for the Church's teachings, catechetical content consistent with the truth, sound liturgical practice, and availability of the sacraments. If the teacher or priest tells them that matter X is what the Church teaches, that is what the vast majority will believe.  If the teacher or priest tells them that giving money to organization Y is a good thing to do, they will believe it.

I want to get into some of the troubling aspects of this program, but due to the space limitations of a blog post I am forced to focus on just a few things.  There were other groups that received donations from this class, including the Environmental Defense Fund, which promotes the discredited "global warming" science to justify confiscatory taxation and wealth redistribution, and the Anti-Defamation League.  I am limiting this post to the Equality Now donation and "women's rights" portion of the program merely because the Church's teaching on abortion and contraception are crystal clear, and I don't have to spend time trying to establish it in this space.  I may take up other aspects of the program in subsequent posts.

The program of Our Lady Queen of Peace school is posted on the web. It begins with a challenge (after describing a "box city" last year's class had developed):

Last year's 6th grade saw what went on with the Box City and asked Mrs. [], the Junior High Religion teacher,  if they could hold the event this year.  This presented her with a real opportunity.  She envisioned incorporating a Social Justice unit in her 7th grade religion class throughout the first semester leading to the planning and carrying out of the project in the second semester.  Mrs. [] recruited Fr. [] to present the Social Justice unit and he worked with the students for one class period each week.  

The challenge laid before the students was this:  to come up with a definition of what Social Justice means, to become aware of issues of injustice in our world, and to propose, agree on and carry out a project that would address an issue of injustice.

 They developed an extensive plan, which can be viewed here.  A recurring plank of this plan was to "target government and church leaders with the power to make changes".  And they sought "to solicit active involvement and contributions for those deprived of justice."

This section was followed by what is described on the website as "the Process", in which students considered some sample case studies under the direction of the teacher and a priest. Among these cases studies are two that seemed a more than a little daring for seventh grade children: Mary and the Problem Pregnancy, and  Annie-- To Report or Not Report.  

While the latter has a creepiness factor of 10, in the interests of time let me focus on the former.  It dealt with the travails of a woman who was divorced from an emotionally abusive man and who becomes pregnant with another man's child outside of wedlock.  See if you can square the circle of description from this excerpt:

She met a young man who was decent to her, respected her, and was loving towards her.  She would eventually marry him, but before they were married, she became pregnant again.

Just how the young man who took advantage of her and joined her in mortal sin was nonetheless "decent" to her and "respected her" is less than clear.  And, sorry, but "became pregnant"?  I can imagine little Janey raising her hand and asking, "Father, if they weren't married, how did she become pregnant?  How can that happen?"  Perhaps I am not jaded enough if I dare hope that even one seventh grader may have some measure of childhood innocence left.  Be that as it may, it is the province of the parent to decide when these topics are covered, and not that of the school.

The scenario then allows the children to discuss Mary's (and isn't that name loaded with implications?) two options: to have the baby or to abort the baby.

There were several such sample cases.  During the week, each day brought a different focus and activity.  At the end of the week, the students held a Saturday carnival with (among other activities) a "Walk for Women's Rights" cake-walk; an "Ambulance Race for Health Care"; a "Put a Face on Hatred" face-painting booth; and a "Break the Cycle of Domestic Violence" balloon-pop booth.

Again, limiting this post to the "women's rights" issue, this booth was the source of raising money for Equality Now.  The amount raised was modest, indeed, but the size of the donation does not address the morality of the donation.

Some of the activities and positions of Equality Now should alert Catholics that this group cannot receive our support.  These include the following:
Support for legalized abortion in countries around the world.  In Ireland, they lobbied for the liberalization of that country's "life-of-the-mother only" abortion law.  In Nepal, they supported the successful effort to decriminalize abortion.  In the name of equality, they also support the right of African women to kill their babies, too--proudly championing the first time the "right" to abortion was articulated in international law.

In the United States, they lobbied against the effort to cut funding for Title X, which provides publicly funded contraception, including the abortion-inducing "morning-after" pill.  They also support the ratification of the UN "CEDAW" convention that would force legalized abortion in every country and enshrine in U.S. law host of other radical feminist agenda items.

Again, I am focusing on just one issue and one group. There are other serious questions about the orthodoxy and appropriateness of this class, the partnering groups and the materials.  Every link and excerpt I have given in this post come from what Our Lady Queen of Peace and the other groups involved have posted themselves.

Social justice without truth is impossible.  Teaching Catholic seventh-graders that the cause of social justice is advanced by supporting, directly or indirectly, the killing of unborn children, and the violation of the Church's teachings on marriage and procreation is an abomination.  Assuming that those in charge did not have actual knowledge of the activities and positions of groups like Equality Now (as difficult as that is to do), their lack of investigation into these groups is scandalous.

What do the architects of this ill-advised program think of the results?

In the end, they made a difference.  They made a difference to each other in what they learned and shared.  They made a difference to their school in motivating other kids to want to do something about people who are hurting.  They made a difference to their parents and other adult parishioners.  At the very least, they made people think, consider the possibility that there are different opinions and different approaches to social problems.  Beyond that, they lit a fire under others to be involved, to contribute, to care about hurting people.  They made a difference that was noticed at the level of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and passed along nationally, a difference that let people committed to social justice and social ministry recognize a model and a possibility for expanding efforts, for being our brothers' and sisters' keepers.

I can't speak to the rest of the religion curriculum at this school, but I wonder if the children are as adept at internalizing the teachings of the faith and sound Catholic theology as they are about the plight of women who don't have access to "family planning" services. 

And these types of programs seem to have the implicit support of Catholic Charities, whose ongoing collaboration with JustFaith (which includes a recent workshop given by its founder Jack Jezreel, who has ties to the dissident group Call to Action) sends a message that social justice need not be "tethered to the truth", as the Holy Father maintains it must be.

In case you're wondering, the tuition at Our Lady Queen of Peace is $3,780 per year.

The Liturgical Problem in a Nutshell

I post this little "gem", word-for-word, from an entry in the bulletin of a parish in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.  I can only hope the author's description of the "post-Vatican II" Mass is at least as inaccurate as his description of the "pre-Vatican II" Mass. I leave it for you to decide.  I'll be the "audience":
New Translation

"Liturgy Means..."

Your view and lived reality of liturgy will depend on your age.  Let us say if you were born before 1948, you are Pre-Vatican II.  Those born between, 1949-1970, are Vatican II.  Those born after 1970 are experiencing the changes of liturgy without experiencing a pre-Vatican liturgy!  What are the challenges facing all of us today facing the current "word" changes.  To have people embrace it fully and pray, will take time, but it is possible.  We can't concentrate on the changes and forget to pray, we must always be a Church of prayer.  Use this image to help:  you have a director, actor and audience.  Pre-Vatican II people saw the director as God, actor as priest, and audience as the people.  Now, Post-Vatican II sees the director as priest, actors as the people, and the audience is God.  Have you changed your mind set, from being audience to being actors?  "Liturgy" means the work of the people.  Therefore, we need to "work", we just don't come to the Church and observe!!!

20 July 2011

Got That Covered

I have two friends who are in the business of crafting women's head coverings--just so you don't have to resort to the Kleenex and bobby pin thing.

Delena's snood factory at Regina Coeli Creations is having a 25% off sale.  Say it with me:  Snooooooood.

And Veils by Lily, with traditional mantilla fare, has had such good demand that it has moved into new office digs.

There are clickable photo buttons for both on the right side of the blog.

"Your beauty has not left me indifferent.-- From LITTLE SNOWDROP


As in, why would anyone order this cake?

Or, why did I never suspect that Mormonism's doctrines were even stranger than I thought?

Or, why have you never checked out Cake Wrecks?

"Lord, at Thy word, I will let down the net."

This sermon was delivered on July 10, 2011 at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, by Canon Raphael Ueda of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. It is a good "everyday" reminder for all of us struggling to get to Heaven.

This year we have a very late liturgical calendar. Two weeks ago I celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi in Chicago, and the next time we will have such a late feast of Corpus Christi will be 2038. It will be the 24th of June. So, now it is nice to take up again an ordinary Sunday which makes us understand to appreciate more our God, Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

Today's Mass begins with a cry of unshakable hope, “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?” The Lord is with us in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. And when Jesus comes to us in Holy Communion, He does not leave without impressing His grace on our soul. Thus the virtue of this sacrament, the warmth of divine charity, remains in our souls.

But, as soon as we leave the church, how often we forget that we have received the Lord and we submerge ourselves in other business and occupations and worldly affairs. Yes, we know our weakness. We forget so easily the grace received and benefit given, and we have even before our eyes the remembrance of our failures and infidelities. Then how great is our need to humbly repeat the beautiful prayer of today’s Mass: “O Lord, forgive us our sins. Help us O God, our savior, for the glory of Your Name”. Indeed, in spite of the continual help of divine grace, in spite of so many confessions and communions, we still need to acknowledge new failures very day, and we must begin anew daily.

The struggle of our life as a Catholic is arduous and sometimes very painful, but St. Paul reminds us that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come. This thought of the glory in heaven is one of consolation, hope, and confidence. However, it does not prevent us from longing for freedom and complete redemption already on this earth. Because the more we suffer because of our weakness the more we should turn to Jesus with full confidence in the power of His redemption.

Today’s Gospel is a practical demonstration of the words of Jesus: “Without Me, you can do nothing”. Simon and his companions had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. If we have had some little experience in the spiritual life, we will recognize that this is often our situation, too. How many efforts we have made to rid ourselves of this or that attachment, to forget injuries, to adapt ourselves to our neighbor’s way of doing things, to subject our will to another! And yet, after all these efforts, we find our hands empty like St. Peter’s nets. But let us not be discouraged.

If we can humbly acknowledge our failures instead of feeling defeated because of them, then failure itself will turn into victory. In spite of our good will to advance in virtue, our Lord will not permit us to have any success until He sees that we are totally convinced of our own weakness and inability. So, sometimes He lets us work all night without catching anything. But, once He sees our willingness to admit our weakness openly, He will come to our aid. We must then have great faith in Him-- never allowing ourselves to give up through lack of success. Every day, relying on His word, we must begin anew. Then let us repeat with St. Peter in a similar cry of confidence, “Lord, at Thy word, I will let down the net”.

So, dear faithful, let us repeat it every day, every moment in our every daily life, without ever growing weary in our journey toward heaven. Amen.

19 July 2011


Working on something for the blog that is just stupefying.

The more I research, the further the rabbit hole goes.

Stay tuned.

St. Francis de Sales Oratory to Host Exhibit of 150 Relics of the Saints, July 22-23

From the Oratory:

What: Treasures of the Church – Sacred Relics of the Saints – Father Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross

Where: Saint Francis de Sales Oratory on corner of Ohio and Gravois


- Friday, July 22, at 5 PM in the hall – Presentation by Fr. Martins

- Friday, July 22, at ~6 PM exhibition opened in the church

- Saturday, July 23, at 9 AM in the hall - Presentation by Fr. Martins

- Saturday, July 23, at ~10 AM exhibition in the church

Attention: The exhibition in the church won’t be opened before the end of Fr. Martin’s presentation in the hall.

Treasures Of The Church

Sacred Relics of The Saints

St. Francis de Sales Oratory presents a conference on and exposition of Sacred Relics on Friday July 22 at 5:00 PM and on Saturday July 23 at 9:00 AM. Father Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross will be here with his very special ministry to teach about these holy objects. He will bring with him over 150 relics, some of which are believed to be as old as 2000 years. Among the treasures will be relics of St. Francis de Sales, St. Maria Goretti, St. Therese of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Faustina Kowalska. In addition, there will also be present a piece of what is believed to be the veil of Our Lady, as well as one of the largest remaining pieces of the True Cross in the world. Those in attendance will be able to examine and venerate each relic. In the Church’s history many miracles and healings have been worked in the presence of relics, and many have been healed through this ministry. Please do not miss this opportunity. You are encouraged to bring your articles of devotion (such as rosaries, holy cards, etc.) and pictures of ill friends/family members which you will be able to touch to the reliquaries as a means of intercession.

The Faint Praise of "Validity"

The renowned liturgical scholar and historian Dr. Alcuin Reid has published a book review, at New Liturgical Movement, of the book by sedevacantist Father Anthony Cekada entitled, Work of Human Hands: a Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI. Dr. Ried's bona fides to write such a review are impressive. And yet he correctly notes that while the sedevacantism of Fr. Cekada is not a point in his favor, one must examine the arguments themselves:

Some will dismiss this study because Father Cekada is canonically irregular and a sedevacantist. Whilst these are more than regrettable, ad hominem realities are not sufficient to dismiss this carefully argued and well researched work. We must attend to his arguments on their merits.

True enough. And in this review, examining the arguments, Dr. Reid persuasively maintains that the new Mass is valid, contrary to the claims of Fr. Cekada. As any reader of this blog knows, I believe that is not a conclusion that a Catholic may dispute. If the Church were able to promulgate an invalid rite, it would mean the gates of hell would have prevailed. And that is impossible.

What I found noteworthy in this review, however, is the way Dr. Reid states the matter. After giving credit to Cekada for certain criticisms, Dr. Reid writes (emphases mine):

What the book does not succeed in doing, however, is to demonstrate the invalidity of the Mass of Paul VI. For whilst there is certainly a theological difference between the two, it is by no means proven that in its Latin text the rite of Mass of Paul VI contradicts Catholic doctrine. It may be doctrinally weaker, it may be theologically different, but it is not heretical. Nor can it be successfully maintained, as does the book, that Paul VI had no authority to modify the formula for consecration in the Mass.

Given that, it is certain that a validly ordained priest who intends to “do what the Church does” in celebrating the Mass according to the modern rite, celebrates a valid Mass. Yes, it is possible, perhaps even more likely, that some priests with a formally defective liturgical and Eucharistic theology that may have been unintentionally encouraged by the liturgical reforms, may more easily celebrate invalidly; that too is an indictment of the rite. But Peter holds the Keys, and whatever prudential errors he may or may not have made in the liturgical reform following the Second Vatican Council, he cannot have committed the Church to an intrinsically invalid rite of Mass.

Given its theological deficiency, Father Cekada dismisses the efforts, led by Pope Benedict XVI, to celebrate the modern rites in more visible continuity with liturgical tradition. We disagree here: the Mass of Paul VI is a valid rite, and its better celebration is all to the good. One may even prefer it in good conscience―as do many generations who have known nothing else. We can argue (and I think quite convincingly) that we can and ought to do better that what is in the Missal of Paul VI, but to worship according to the modern rite is not of itself sinful.

Regardless, Father Cekada’s great service is to flag the big question that we have not widely, as yet, been prepared to face. Whilst it is certainly better to celebrate the modern liturgy in a traditional style using more accurate translations, that is not enough. For if the Missal of Paul VI is indeed in substantial discontinuity with the preceding liturgical and theological tradition, this is a serious flaw requiring correction. It is high time, then, that we not only recognise, but do something about the elephant in the liturgical living-room.

I think Dr. Reid has certainly identified the problem of the day in the Roman Rite, existing as it does now with two authorized "forms". Given that the OF is intrinsically valid, and further given that it ought to be celebrated correctly and with more reverence than it typically is afforded, another question remains: If it is as inferior in its accidents as it obviously is, why shouldn't it be changed to be brought into line with the traditional praxis of Holy Mother Church?