31 October 2011

Sermon for the Feast of Christ the King

Canon Michael Wiener of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was kind enough to allow me to publish his sermon from yesterday's feast:

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
will draw all things to myself.


“Wherefore, as there can be nothing that is not ordered to the Divine goodness as its end, so it is impossible for anything to escape from the Divine government … Foolish therefore was the opinion of those who said that the corruptible lower world, or individual things, or that even human affairs, were not subject to the Divine government.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas discusses in the 5th article of the 103rd question of the 1st part of his Summa “Whether all things are subject to the Divine government”. 

Today’s world doesn’t bother itself any more with answering this question, but is very anxious to maintain three positions:

-         It believes (in the true sense of the word) in science and holds its procedures, principles and knowledge in highest esteem, reducing almost all intellectual activity to the level of science.
-         It believes in perfect legislation and the necessity and effectiveness of universal state government.
-         And – based on the findings of science – it defends vigorously the dogma that there is a perfect anarchy in the universe and the absence of any order in the cosmos and nature as a whole.  

An English man once said: “By some mad paradox, we trace political and social ills to poor direction and government; while we trace perfection in the universe to a complete absence of government.”

This mad paradox is the fruit of our wounded nature which distorts our intellect and our will in a special manner.

“You were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled.”

God became man to allow man to submit more readily to the divine government. The incarnation of God enables the will of man to be submissive to the will of the King who is clothed with all power in heaven and on earth.

“But if we ponder on this matter more deeply,” says Pope Pius XI. in his Encyclical Quas Primas, “we cannot but see that the title and the power of King belongs to Christ as man in the strict and proper sense too. For it is only as man that he may be said to have received from the Father ‘power and glory and a kingdom’, since the Word of God, as one with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created.”

What man’s fallen nature made obscure is visible and acceptable in Jesus Christ: Christ is King. Now man is united to the Godhead through the new head of humanity. God’s grace allows man to freely consent to the will of God and to embrace His goodness.

“For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” God’s almighty power is effective in man, enlightens his mind and directs his will while giving man true freedom. 

“Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence … but by essence and by nature.” 

“But a thought, says Pope Pius XI. in Quas Primas, that must give us even greater joy and consolation is this that Christ is our King by acquired, as well as by natural right, for He is our Redeemer. “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ.”

This king doesn’t ask anyone to do what He Himself hasn’t done. That is why we can entrust ourselves and all we love to the will of this king. Because He acquired His kingdom on the cross, because He purchased our citizenship by His Precious Blood, we can readily and happily acknowledge to be subject to His orders and His dominion. Christ continues to offer Himself as a victim for our sins, in each and every Mass the King and victim offers Himself for us.

And once we have acknowledged the kingship of Christ and understood the gentleness and humility with which Christ reigns, “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.”

It is precisely in the moments when the divine sacrifice is renewed on our altars that this kingship of Christ becomes especially visible and conceivable. In the silence and the veiled mystery of the liturgy the power and majesty of Christ the King becomes most obvious. All aspects of Christ’s kingship are therefore made most obvious by the Church through the divine liturgy.

“There can be nothing that is not ordered to the Divine goodness”, teaches St. Thomas. This divine goodness is now opened and made tangible in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Church’s wisdom has constituted that today mankind should be again dedicated to the Divine Heart of the Redeemer.

Is there a better teaching which makes God’s government in the whole understandable? Can we expect a more concise and clear teaching about the character of Christ’s kingdom than that which is given us today on the feast of Christ the King?

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
will draw all things to myself.


30 October 2011

Feast of Christ the King

Busy day today, and likely again tomorrow, but I didn't want the day to pass without noting the great feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope to post today's sermon soon.

The seminary society breakfast was a very nice event, too. We are blessed to have such a seminary of the ICRSP turning out such well-formed priests.

29 October 2011

What Better Way...

...to celebrate the Cardinals' 12th World Series title than to attend a presentation on 'Mary and the Mass' by Msgr. Calkins at St. Francis de Sales Oratory church hall today at 11am?

27 October 2011

"It’s a whole lot easier to take an attractive pagan and make her into a Catholic, than to find a homely Catholic and make her attractive."

The title of this post is taken from the latest by the irrepressible John Zmirak at Crisis Magazine.

At 14 Minutes, 45 Seconds, This Just In...

..from "Chaz" Bono,as reported in the UK Daily Mail:

'I was called a basketball, a penguin and an Ewok': Chaz Bono blasts 'disrespectful' Dancing with the Stars judges for bullying him over his weight

click at your own risk.  I include this only as a cultural signpost as Western Civilization swirls around the drain.
Peaceful conqueror of souls! Pontiff beloved of God and man! We venerate thee as the perfect imitator of the sweetness and gentleness of Jesus. Having learnt of him to be meek and humble of heart, thou didst, according to His promise, possess the land. Nothing could resist thee. Heretics, however obstinate; sinners, however hardened; tepid souls, however sluggish; all yielded to the powerful charm of thy word and example. . . 

Pray for us to Our Lord, that our charity may be ardent like thine; that the desire of perfection may be ever active within us; that we may gain that introduction to a devout life which thou hast so admirably taught; that we may have that love of our neighbor, without which we cannot hope to love God; that we may be zealous for the salvation of souls; that we may be patient and forgive injuries, in order that we may love one another, not only in word and in tongue, but as thy great model says, in deed and in truth. Amen.

(taken from the website of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope)

26 October 2011

For Catholics Interested in Economics

Two items:  The first, a commentary on the alarming statement of a Vatican commission supporting a global central bank.

Secondly, a commentary on Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Caritas in Veritate, especially on the alarming support for global government in paragraph 67.

Feasts, Spiritual and Otherwise, at the Oratory This Weekend

There are some big events at St. Francis de Sales Oratory this weekend, and the public is invited.

On Saturday at 11 am in the Oratory hall, the internationally-acclaimed Marian scholar, Monsignor Arthur B. Calkins, will give a talk on Mary's role and presence in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  From the Oratory's newsletter:

Next Saturday, October 29 at 11:00 AM, Msgr. Arthur Calkins, an eminent authority on Marian doctrines, will come to the Oratory again to give us another presentation on our Blessed Mother. As before, Msgr. Calkins’ talk is sure to be intellectually and spiritually edifying. We look forward to Msgr. Calkins’ return visit, and hope to see many faithful at the presentation!
An abstract of the talk is as follows:
“It is highly significant that in the Eucharistic Liturgy of every rite of the Catholic Church we find an explicit commemoration of the Mother of God, often quite close to the consecration. This is a usage established in antiquity and, no doubt, the oral tradition antedates the written, with roots deriving from the era of the Apostles. This ancient practice also testifies to the sound instinct of the faithful that Mary belongs close to her Son especially at the moment when his sacrifice is being renewed on the altar.”

On Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, there will be the usual Low Mass at 8 am and High Mass at 10 am.  Following both Masses in the Oratory hall will be the annual Seminary Society Breakfast.  Again, from the newsletter:


Seminary Society Breakfast, October 2010

As a part of the semi-annual support for the Seminary, Canon Wiener and the Seminary Society cordially invite you to join them for breakfast after both Masses on the Feast of Christ the King, Sunday October 30th. This will be an opportunity to learn more about the Seminary, meet the newest candidates, and to offer our prayerful support for our future priests, while enjoying a bountiful breakfast at very reasonable prices.

The full menu, consisting of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, sweet rolls, coffee, tea, milk and juice, will be offered at $7.00 for those age 12 and up. The cost is only $4.00 for children age 3-11, and free for those age 2 and under. For large families, the maximum is $30.00.

An informative presentation on the Seminary will include a talk by Canon Wiener, a video presentation by Canon Huberfeld, and personal messages from Gricigliano. There will be an opportunity to sign up to pray for individual seminarians. In addition, there will be a 50/50 Raffle, a Rector’s Raffle, and attendance prizes for the children.  

All proceeds will be used for the benefit of the Seminary in Gricigliano, Italy. 

Everyone is welcome! RSVP would be helpful to estimate attendance: maryhayworthss@gmail.com

25 October 2011

New iPhone App: iBullpen

Saint Louis Catholic has decided to branch out into the tech business to address one of the serious problems facing baseball today.

Here is a great idea for those otherwise contending teams who are plagued by 1970s telephone technology: the iBullpen App.

With the touch of one button, you can initiate secure text messaging communication with your bullpen coach to select a pitcher of your choice!  You can order him to do nearly unlimited activities:
  • Warm up
  • Enter the game to pitch
  • Enter the game to intentionally walk someone
  • Hand the iPhone to somebody else
  • Interpret manager's grunts into plain English
And much, much more!!

This baby is also equipped with a camera, so the manager can actually view the pitcher who is warming up to ensure accuracy.  If your team is plagued by a manager who is a genius, there is a bench coach override function-- turning the manager's iBullpen into a harmless game of Angry Birds.

All for the low, low price of $19.95!  Get yours today at the AppStore!

And coming soon:  iHitandRun! (Pujols Gold Edition)

24 October 2011

Meatless Friday, World Series Edition


Have a great evening!

The Follower of Christ Has to Be, Like Jesus, a Son of Mary

There is in the Scriptures an astonishing saying applied to Eternal Wisdom, to the Word of God: "My delight is to be with the sons of men." (Prov. 8:31)  Who would have believed that?  The Word is God: in the heart's-embrace of His Father He lives in infinite light; He possesses all the riches of the Divine perfections, He enjoys the fullness of all life and all beatitude.  And yet He declares, through the mouth of the sacred writer, that He finds His joy in living among men.

That marvel came to pass; for "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." John (1:1)  The Word desired to be one of us.  In an ineffable way He effected this Divine desire, and His effecting it seems (so to say) to have fulfilled all He wished.  When we read the Gospels we see, as a matter of fact, that Christ affirms His divinity often, as when He speaks of His eternal relationship to His Father:  "My Father and I are one," (John 10:30) or on the occasions of His confirming a profession of faith from His hearers.  "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona," He said to Peter who had just proclaimed the divinity  of his Master, "blessed are you... it is my Father in heaven who has revealed this to you." (Matt. 16:17)  Yet we do not see Him give Himself the title "Son of God" in so many words.

How many times, on the contrary, do we not hear Him call Himself the "Son of Man."  One might say that Christ is proud of this title that He is fond of giving Himself.  But He is careful never to separate it from His Divine Sonship or from the privileges of His divinity....

Perhaps nowhere in His words has our Divine Savior more strongly and clearly linked the fact of His being man with that of His being God than in the days of His Passion. ... Someone is no less in error if he rejects the humanity of Christ than if he denies His divinity.

Now, if Christ Jesus is the Son of God by eternal and ineffable birth, in the heart's-embrace of the Father-- "You are my Son...," He is the "Son of Man" by His birth in the sphere of time, in the womb of a woman: "God sent His Son, born of a woman...." (Gal. 4:4)

That woman is Mary, but that woman is also a virgin.  It is from her, and from her alone, that Christ takes His human nature.  It is to her that He owes His being the "Son of Man"; she is truly "mother of God."  Therefore, in actual fact, Mary occupies in Christianity a place which is unique, transcendent, essential.  Just as the fact of His being "Son of Man" cannot in Christ be separated from the fact of His being "Son of God," in that same way is Mary united to Jesus.  In actual fact, the Virgin Mary enters into the mystery of the Incarnation by a title that is due to the very essence of the mystery.

That is why we must pause a few moments to contemplate a marvel-- that a merely created being, Mary, has been associated, by ties so close, with the plan of the fundamental mystery of Christianity and consequently with our supernatural life; with that divine life which comes to us from Christ, the God-Man (and which, as I have told you, Christ as God gives us, but by making use of His humanity).  We must be, like Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary.  He is completely the former and completely the latter.  If, therefore, we wish to reproduce His image in us, we must bear within us that twofold quality.

A soul's loving devotion would not be truly Christian if it did not include within its object the mother of the Incarnate Word.  Devotion towards the Virgin Mary is not only important but necessary, if we wish to draw abundantly from the source of life.  To separate Christ from His mother in our loving devotion is to divide Christ; it is to lose from sight the essential role of His sacred humanity in the conferment of Divine grace.  When one forsakes the Mother, one no longer understands the Son.  Is not this what has happened to the Protestant nations?  In having rejected devotion to Mary, on the plea of not derogating from the dignity of the one and only Mediator, have they not even ended up by losing faith in the divinity of Christ Himself?  If Christ Jesus is our Savior, our Mediator, our elder brother, because He has taken to Himself a human nature, how can we truly love Him, how can we resemble Him perfectly, without having a special devotion to her who is precisely she from whom He takes this human nature?

--from Christ, the Life of the Soul, by Blessed Columba Marmion

You Like Mantillas? OK Then...

For all of you who do, here is a mantilla giveaway opportunity...

Latest Installments of the Roman Rite: Old and New

Part 3 and Part 4 of this excellent series are up at Rorate Caeli.

Starkenburg Stand-Off

I want to post this link to the blog of a reader of this site, Long-Skirts, whose poetry sometimes graces the combox.  She is an SSPX chapel attendee, as some of you may know.  Each year a group from the SSPX makes a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Starkenburg, located within the Diocese of Jefferson City.  Each year they face difficulties, large or small.

The reason I am posting this is not to get into the minutiae of SSPX-Rome relations, but just to give an idea of the kind of treatment they get from other Catholics, and why there is a certain level of skepticism in their ranks.  Last year I read about the problems at Starkenburg, and that the Church was locked.  The SSPX group had Mass outside.  This year, they found the entire grounds blocked and guarded.

Now, of course I can see how the Diocese, or the Shrine staff, would not want a suspended priest to say Mass in the Church.  I thought then, and think now, that a nice gesture on the part of the Diocese or Shrine would be to agree to a Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the SSPX congregation provided a non-suspended priest said it.  Perhaps in a burst of Christian charity, they could provide one.  But anyway, at least make that offer, and if the SSPX turned it down then it's on them.  The SSPX of course is comfortable enough with the irregular status of its priests to have them say Mass, but I can understand why the Diocese/Shrine would disagree.  Like I said, there seems to be a compromise possible that would avoid scandal and preserve charity and honor.  It ought to be pursued.

The SSPX, according to the Holy Father, is not in schism, not its bishops, priests or lay supporters.  So, what are they?  They are Catholic.  Why can't Catholics enter onto grounds of a Catholic shrine that is open to the public?  Hindus can enter the grounds.  Leftist Catholics who support women's sorta-nation can enter.  If only the guardians of the Church's buildings were as zealous in all situations. 

Perhaps if those involved were as solicitous of these fellow  Catholics as they would be in an ecumenical or interreligious gathering-- even if they (incorrectly) considered them "our separated brothers and sisters"-- the solution could be found. While that prospect may be bleak, it is to be prayed for.

Our Lady of Starkenburg, pray for us.

21 October 2011

Modernists within the Church Cannot Tolerate the Truth-- and Especially the Traditional Mass, Its Bulwark

I wanted to post, a little late to the game, a video by Michael Voris about the El Paso situation, where Fr. Michael Rodriguez, one of the very few priests to speak out against a homosexual rights bill in El Paso-- and who just happens to be the pastor of a parish that provides the Traditional Latin Mass-- was transferred by his bishop to another assignment 250 miles away.  His former parishioners are now deprived of the Traditional Mass because there is as yet no replacement priest to provide it.

Voris has his own style, which appeals to some and not to others.  I post this story particularly because of the (surely coincidental) fact that the priest who says the Traditional Mass  is the one standing for Traditional Catholic doctrine in the public sphere.  And we know that doing either--but especially celebrating the Traditional Mass-- can make you a non-person in some dioceses, washed down the memory hole.

How long can this go on?

Town Talk: The First Line of Defense against Germ Warfare

If you know me-- and you don't-- you know I love "Town Talk", that delightful section of the Suburban Journals wherein disaffected and inebriated readers leave voicemail messages to be published as print commentary.  Call it text messaging for Luddites.

And if you know me really, really well--and you don't-- you know that I love a good dystopian vision of the future as much as anyone.

Now my two loves come together at last.  From the October 19 Town Talk: 

Winter illnesses starting early 

With all the people being sick here of late this early in the winter season, I knew something must have been weird. But now I just talked to my friend Joe that never gets sick, and he just got over his cold that he said lasted almost three weeks. So something weird is going on. Maybe there really is germ warfare, I don't know. But this is definitely going to be a peculiar winter if we're starting this early with sicknesses and colds and viruses and stuff.

I'm convinced.  Remember this post about the 1976 swine flu "epidemic"?:

20 October 2011

A Transalpine Take on the Recent Comments of Bishop Williamson

In case you haven't followed it, there is another generated-controversy surrounding Bishop Richard Williamson of the SSPX.  In what sure seems to be a recurring template:
  1. it has angered Jewish religious leaders who want the Pope to disavow the SSPX;
  2. it has threatened what appears to be a thisclose settlement of the SSPX/Rome dispute; and, 
  3. it puts Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the SSPX in a most uncomfortable and delicate position.
Now, I know for to certainty that many of my readers will have differing opinions as to the cause of the controversy itself and the template to intimidate the Pope, discredit the SSPX in particular and traditional Catholics in general, and sink the chance of SSPX reconciliation.  

Bishop Williamson's comments (which can be found here) about the issue of the responsibility for the death of Jesus contain truth, but not the complete truth.  We are all responsible for His death.  Every one of us.  And yes, the bishop speaks only of the immediate, judicial responsibility.  OK, great.  I get it.  But so what?

My take on this, as it has been in each of the manufactured controversies surrounding Williamson's actions in the past few years, is that it strikes me that though many people (including the interreligious dialogue, anti-Catholic crowd both inside and outside the Church) have a vested interest in killing an SSPX reconciliation, I also suspect that Bishop Williamson himself wants to kill it.  This further leads me to suspect that he is generating, or at least enjoying, these controversies.

Of course, I would also say that though of course Jewish religious leaders may have concern about how Catholics may view them, they should not have any input on who is or is not Catholic, nor should they presume to make demands upon the Holy Father not to exercise mercy towards persons against whom they have a grievance, legitimate or not.

Fr. Michael Mary, FSSR, who is the Superior of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (also known as the Transalpine Redemptorists), a group that formerly had ties to the SSPX but which has since been reconciled to the Holy See, has this interesting commentary.  I print it below for your consideration.  

Perhaps the best indicator that the SSPX/Rome talks are going well is the appearance of another media-storm to kill it.  The matter is one for prayer, now as ever.


(By Fr. Michael Mary, FSSR) I make the following personal response; my own take on the matter:

I was very sorry to read the article.  We are all further hurt or tarnished or tarred by it:  The Jewish people are hurt, the Church in general is tarnished, and traditional Catholics and most of the SSPX faithful are tarred.

The Williamson article is political.  It is an aggressive strategy.  Its objective is to sow trouble between the SSPX and the Church, and between the Church and the Jewish people.  It works well.

Williamson can cause great trouble only because he is a bishop; even though he is an illegitimate bishop who will not submit himself to legitimate authority.

The SSPX leadership would probably like to expel him
but fear that he would begin his own group here in the UK and beyond.

SSPX clergy do not speak out publicly against Bishop Williamson nor against the Menzingen Authorities for doing nothing that will effectively stop him.

The situation is extraordinary. The SSPX cannot control their man who is harming the Church and their own group.

Now is the time when the helpless SSPX Superior General who lacks jurisdiction, and knows he lacks the necessary jurisdiction over his equal, should ask the Holy Father to defrock the illegitimate bishop; in the kindest possible way.

Fr. Michael May, F.SS.R.

A Beautiful Story of Conversion, Christ's Mercy, and the Powerful Intercession of the Mother of God

I found this post at the Transalpine Redemptorist site while reading the story about which I will post after this.  This story is beautiful and profoundly moving.  It gives hope to all of us who may have lost relatives or friends who died seemingly outside the Church.

Let anyone who scoffs at Mary's role as the Mediatrix of all Graces and Co-Redemptrix do so in his own folly and at his own peril: 

Text of the letter prophesied to Father Hermann Cohen by the Curé of Ars.

Random Thought Generator: Police State Version

I saw on Drudge that Tennessee is now allowing the Brute Squad to conduct random highway "terrorist" checks.  They love it!  I feel safer already-- but only because I'm not in Tennessee. 

So, my mind reels in coming up with commentary.  I need your help.  My first thoughts stem from the following quote from the linked story:

"Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane more likely on the interstate," said Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.

--So, does that mean we can 86 the airport porno scanners?

--So, that means a state has a job entitled "Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner?

--Well, if they're on the highways, maybe they're under our beds!  Help!

--The next thing to note is that the mainstream media sure loves the state takeover.

--Next up on my random thought generator is that I'm sure to get another lecture from Methodist Jim, or maybe ATW, about how I'm jumping the gun-- "It's only some posted red-light cameras; only a nonmoving violation, like a speeding ticket; only in urban areas; only at airports; oh, and bus and train stations; only a metal detector; only a refreshing techno-scanner; only a light and professional pat-down; not done to every nun, child, or disabled person; only targeting "homegrown terrorists"; er, I mean only at highway truck weigh stations.  To even consider that this would spread to random highway checks or pedestrian checks is just crazy!  Go Romney!

--Finally, what I really want to say is that this may be the last post in which I complain about our government overlords.  It could be illegal soon enough.  

But that could never happen.  They hate us for our freedoms!

Can You Tell Me What This Means?


More on the Mass

The second installment is up at Rorate Caeli:

The Roman Rite: Old and New - II Catholicism, Protestantism, and the theology of the New Roman Rite

19 October 2011

FYI: Serialization of "The Roman Rite: Old and New" at Rorate Caeli

Rorate Caeli has begun a series of posts publishing the excellent analysis of the two forms of the Roman Rite of Mass titled The Roman Rite: Old and New

The link to the first installment is here.  I encourage everyone to follow this and other installments as they come up.  To give you an idea of the focus of the essay, read this brief excerpt from the Preface:

The liberalization of the Old Roman Rite by the Supreme Pontiff in September 2007 has stimulated a variety of reactions. Polemicists on the side of modernity have labelled it as “something for nostalgics”[1] or as incomprensible and therefore to be rejected[2]; while polemicists on the side of Tradition have labelled the New Rite (as they always had) as invalid[3] or sacrilegious. 
Pacifists, by contrast, have either attributed the preference for one rite or the other to “sensibility” alone[4], or have ascribed an equal value to both rites[5], speaking for example of “respective strengths”, such as a greater “verticality” in the Old Rite and a wider range of readings in the New[6]. If such persons have any reservations concerning the New Rite, they claim that it suffices to celebrate it well and reverently. 
To this background, the present essay aims to evaluate the two rites scientifically: more precisely to compare them in regard to their theology of the Mass. In so doing, it seeks neither to make peace nor war, but simply to establish the truth, by examining the relevant facts and drawing the necessary conclusions.

For Reader X

Audrey:  I read that Lionel Trilling essay you mentioned.  You really like Trilling?

Tom:  Yes.

Audrey:  I think he's very strange.  He says that "nobody" could like the heroine of Mansfield Park.  I like her.  Then he goes on and on about how "we" modern people, today, with "our" modern attitudes "bitterly resent" Mansfield Park because its heroine is virtuous.  (A puzzled look.)  What's wrong with a novel having a virtuous heroine?  Finally, it turns out that he really likes Mansfield Park, so what's the point?

Tom:  His point is that the novel's premise-- that there's something immoral in a group of young people putting on a play-- is simply absurd.

Audrey:  (Challenging him)  You found Fanny Price unlikeable?

Tom:  She sounds pretty unbearable, but I haven't read the book.

Audrey:  What?

Tom:  You don't have to read a book to have an opinion on it.  I haven't read the Bible either.

Audrey:  What Jane Austen novels have you read?

Tom:  None.  I don't read novels.  I prefer good literary criticism-- that way you get both the novelists' ideas and the critics' thinking.  With fiction I can never forget that none of it really happened-- that it's all just made up by the author.

18 October 2011

More Oratory Pics

Reader Phil very kindly sent me some photos of the Archbishop Carlson visit on October 9 and of the Solemn High Mass with the Kenrick-Glennon Seminarians on October 15.  Phil has great photos, as usual-- click on them to greatly enlarge.  Also, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest has write-up, with photos, of the visit of His Grace here.

The Game

There is an excellent slide show of photos from the inter-Oratory flag football game on Sunday here.  I wish I could copy some of them to give you a peek, but alas, I am not tech-savvy enough.

The year was different, but the outcome was the same.  The Ravens of SS. Gregory and Augustine defeated the Blue Birettas of St. Francis de Sales, (I think) 44-28.  The real flaw I see is pitting a team of musicians, philosophers, snotty Starbucks barristas, bloggers, lawyer-types, clerics and wannabes against a team comprised entirely of NFL professionals and Ken Jones, noted author of the Index of Leading Catholic Indicators.

Maybe next year...

Scroll through the photos to see pictures of various members of my family scattered therein.

17 October 2011

15 October 2011

Kid Lawyer

My third child has a bit of Sally Jensen in her.  She showed me this video in an attempt to give her own take on what it is I do for a living:

A Nice Sight: Kenrick-Glennon Seminarians at Solemn High Mass

I hit 8 o'clock Mass at the Oratory today, and instead of the usual Low Mass was treated to a Solemn High Mass with the seminarians from Kenrick-Glennon in choir.  The Oratory schola and mixed choir sang particularly beautifully.  Pretty cool.  I say it was a nice sight, but I wasn't able to get a photo of it.  The above photo is from a past post.

On more earthly matters, tomorrow is the second annual battle of the Oratories, which I think Canon Huberfeld dubbed the St. Lawrence Gridiron Classic (get it?).  Who can say who will win?  Who can say if I will imbibe any adult beverages?  Who can say if I will mooch food from unsuspecting fans?

The answers all come tomorrow, 3pm at Priory.  To whet your appetite, a repost from last Fall:

14 October 2011

State Goes after Bishop

You may have read already that the Jackson County prosecutor has filed an indictment against Bishop Robert Finn on a misdemeanor charge of "failing to report child abuse".  He has pled not guilty.  If he weren't a Catholic bishop he might be able to expect a fair trial.  If he weren't a faithful Catholic bishop he might expect not to be charged.

Rest assured, says the prosecutor, that "it is all about protecting children."  

Right.  I totally believe that. 

There is a lot that could be said about this.  I won't say it here.  If you see me around, I'll be happy to chat.  

This is a blatant attempt to take down a good Bishop.  

This is persecution.  

You don't agree?  I don't care.  It's still true.

Pray for Bishop Finn.  Faithful bishops, clergy and laity will be increasingly targeted by the state.  History repeats itself.

Pat Buchanan as Cassandra

Catholic journalist and politico Patrick J. Buchanan has written a new book further chronicling the demise of America (following Death of the West), called Suicide of a Superpower.

The question asked on the book's cover:  "Will America Survive to 2025?", while provocative, begs the question of whether it has already passed away-- whether one marks the date at 1861, 1865, 1898, 1918 or some other date.  Leaving our own country aside, the attack on the West is traced at least to the attack on Christendom.

DrudgeReport has excerpts from the book, which may be of interest to readers of this blog: 

From Chapter 2. The End of Christian America

If [Christopher] Dawson is correct, the drive to de-Christianize America, to purge Christianity from the public square, public schools and public life, will prove culturally and socially suicidal for the nation.

“The last consequence of a dying Christianity is a dying people. Not one post-Christian nation has a birth rate sufficient to keep it alive....The death of European Christianity means the disappearance of the European tribe, a prospect visible in the demographic statistics of every Western nation.”

From Chapter 3. The Crisis of Catholicism

“Half a century on, the disaster is manifest. The robust and confident Church of 1958 no longer exists. Catholic colleges and universities remain Catholic in name only. Parochial schools and high schools are closing as rapidly as they opened in the 1950s. The numbers of nuns, priests and seminarians have fallen dramatically. Mass attendance is a third of what it was. From the former Speaker of the House to the Vice President, Catholic politicians openly support abortion on demand.”

“How can Notre Dame credibly teach that all innocent life is sacred, and then honor a president committed to ensuring that a woman’s right to end the life of her innocent child remains sacrosanct?”  

The de-Christianization of our country and culture, the crisis in the Catholic Church, and the failure to produce children all go hand in hand.  In reality, though attacked by infidels and split by schism, the West has been dying a slow death wrought by its rejection of the true Church beginning (in earnest) in the 16th Century.  The Catholic Church is the only completely true, entirely sufficient, and Divinely instituted expression of Christianity.  What Luther, Calvin and the other "reformers" ruptured, what Henry and Elizabeth persecuted for personal gain, what the Communists tried to destroy, what the (again) "reformers" of the Council jettisoned, and what the consumer capitalist society rejects, is the one and only hope that the West may be saved as the locus of temporal civilization.

Absent some dramatic Divine intervention, or perhaps the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as foretold at Fatima, the Buchanans of this age are simply modern versions of Cassandra, whose prophecies may be accurate but which will remain unheeded until it is too late.

13 October 2011

Does the Relaxation of the Traditional Communion Fast Encourage Sacrilegious Communions?

This is not a particularly original insight, but as I have recently read arguments answering the above question in the affirmative, I thought I would write about it today.

On one hand, it is undeniable that the shortened and moderated Eucharistic fast changes have made it easier for a Catholic in the state of grace to more frequently receive Holy Communion.  And it is likewise true that in the last 100+ years, Popes have encouraged frequent Communion.  Included in this group is Pope St. Pius X-- so this isn't some crazy novelty involved here.

Conversely, no Catholic in a state of mortal sin should receive Holy Communion (to round out the set, though not germane to this topic, it goes without saying that non-Catholics may not receive).

So, why the big fuss about the length of the Eucharistic fast?  Don't we want frequent reception of Communion?  And doesn't it seem better that a person who ate 2 hours ago receive Communion if he is properly disposed than to deny him Our Lord in the Eucharist for that reason?

Well, I would argue for a return to the longer Eucharistic fast for reasons of both piety and propriety.  I think it would encourage the proper disposition for reception and require a more thoughtful and prayerful reception.  And it would remove an encouragement to sacrilegious Communions.

Because many Catholics do not have a living memory of the former fasting requirements, I will briefly recount them here.  The practice and expectation of fasting before Holy Communion goes back to ancient times. By the time of the 1917 Code of Canon Law the requirement was that a healthy Catholic who wished to receive Holy Communion must have fasted from everything, including water, from midnight of that day.

After some piecemeal indults and alterations over time and in specific places, Pope Pius XII changed this fast to a three hour fast from solid foods and a one-hour fast from liquids, reckoned (for the lay recipient) backwards from the time of Holy Communion.  Also, alcoholic drinks were prohibited for the whole three-hour period, while neither water nor medicine broke the fast, even within the last hour.

Finally, Pope Paul VI shortened the fast to one hour, measured backwards from time of Communion, without regard to any distinction between solids or liquids, or between faithful and clergy.  This practice is codified in the current Code of Canon Law.  The practical consequence of a one-hour "fast" is that there is no meaningful fasting requirement at all.  In any Sunday Mass, a Catholic could literally be munching a Snickers Bar walking into Church and be even money to be able to receive Communion.  If he refrained from eating in the car on the way to Church, the fast is fairly guaranteed.  Granted, for a daily Mass, one has to exercise a small amount of discipline.

OK, so, who cares?  Well, if the word "fast" is to mean anything, surely a person who is fasting should feel like he has been deprived of food.  That he is hungry.  Or at least, that he notices that he hasn't been able to satisfy that bodily appetite.

Furthermore, back in the day (as they say), if anyone in the congregation noticed that a person did not go to Holy Communion, there was a ready explanation-- he or she must not have made the required fast.  There was no scandal in the lack of reception.  Today, with the ease of the "fast", the ignorance of the fast by many, and the absolute expectation (amounting to a practical mandate) for always receiving Communion at Mass, if a person does not receive Holy Communion the most ready explanation that would come to mind is that the non-recipient is in a state of mortal sin.

People are, as you might expect, human.  Of course we are warned against rash judgment.  It is a sin to assume that someone who does not go up to the Communion rail is guilty of mortal sin.  We should be charitable, and if that fails we should just mind our own business.  Conversely, no one in a state of mortal sin should receive Communion just to conceal the fact that he has committed mortal sin.  Succumbing to peer pressure (real or perceived) and committing a second mortal sin to cover a first is not a good idea.

But people are influenced in these ways, and reviving a more stringent Eucharistic fast would go a long way to reducing unworthy, and even sacrilegious, reception of Holy Communion.

Recall, too, that often a person may be in doubt about whether he or she has committed mortal sin.  He may be sitting in the pew trying to work it out.  The lack of any immediate reason not to receive in the eyes of his fellow church-goers other than mortal sin might just be the final arrow needed in the quiver of rationalization. But a stringent Eucharistic fast that provides a ready, non-sinful reason to refrain from reception could be that final arrow in the quiver to avoid sacrilege and an uneasy conscience.

Back when  the midnight fast was in force, Masses were expected to begin in the morning, and in no case could begin later than one hour after noon.  With the frequency of Masses in late afternoons and evenings now, perhaps that fast could be modified while maintaining rigor.  This is just my own proposal; I am not basing this on liturgical or historical arguments.  In other words, feel free to suggest something else.  But what if the new, restored Eucharistic fast went like this:  Fasting from all solids and liquids (other than water) from midnight for Masses that begin at or before noon, and a three-hour fast (other than water) for Masses later in the day.

But any shoring up of a concept of fasting, even an uniform, three-hour fast,  would be a welcome development.

By restoring the ancient practice and expectation for fasting prior to reception of Holy Communion, the Church would benefit souls.  It would encourage the more reverent reception by those who receive, and also go far in removing the stigma for those who don't.  No longer would souls in need of the confessional feel pressured to conceal their grave sins by committing other grave sins.

Everybody wins, right?  So what are we waiting for?

12 October 2011

Attacks on Marriage and Children are Attacks on the Church Who Defends Them

Speaking in purely human terms, the foundation of society is the family.  And this foundation, in turn, rests on two pillars that make family life possible:  marriage and procreation.  Stated otherwise: monogamy and fecundity.

And there is only one institution, human or Divine, that stands for the protection of both of these pillars.  It is the Divine institution that is the Roman Catholic Church.  She is the faithful Bride of Christ who remains true to her Divine Spouse.

Fr. Edward Richard, the brilliant moral theologian, late of St. Louis, has written an excellent post on his blog about the attacks on marriage and procreation.  He decries the universal attempt by proponents of sodomitical "marriage" and of abortion and contraception to draw a moral equivalency between these causes and the civil rights movement.  Excerpts below, but the entire post is worth a careful read:

Looking for the Wrong Rights Will End Life and Religious Freedom

Just recently, the Executive Branch of the US Government authorized the Department of Defense to allow its chaplains to celebrate so-called marriages of same sex couples wherever it is allowed by state law. Archbishop Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Services said under no circumstances will Catholic chaplains witness so-called same sex marriages. Archbishop Broglio also noted that he did not see how the administration could authorize such unions when Federal Law prohibits it in the Defense of Marriage Act.

Recently, as well, the executive branch has drafted new guidelines which could require catholic doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals, even those working in Catholic hospitals and in the institutions themselves, to perform direct sterilizations and abortions.

You might not think that so-called same sex marriage and these other issues are related, but I can tell you that many people who study these things in our society know they are.


Frankly, it is difficult to see how these troubling developments in the government do not constitute a direct attack on religion, particularly Christians, and especially Catholics. There appears to be little effort in these new guidelines that provide for genuine respect of conscience in such a way that we would not be required to participate in these moral evils. As you may know, already in some major metropolitan areas Catholic Charities has been forced to remove itself from placing babies for adoption because of state laws that require that we place them with same sex couples.

As we consider these things, we realize that we are speaking of the institution of marriage, the meaning of sexuality, and the freedom of man and woman to fulfill their parental role. Marriage and child bearing as a holy institution has always been the subject of attack, even in the time of Jesus. When the Pharisees approach Jesus about the question of divorce, as is reported in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells them that Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of their hearts but it was not so from the beginning when God created man and woman and instituted marriage. Jesus, of course, makes it clear that what God has joined, no man can separate.

Very early in the Church, St. Augustine defended marriage as a holy institution against those who saw marriage and child-bearing in all sorts of strange ways. Some of his opponents considered conception of a child as an imprisonment of a divine spirit. Others thought that men and women ought to be able to engage in every sort of strange act without consequence.

Later on, the Council of Trent spoke of the importance of marriage as a holy institution. It was for the sanctification of the spouses through their mutual love. It was not intended as a remedy for concupiscence as some of the reformers taught.


The rise of the push for birth control was completely tied up with the attempts by various racist and elitist organizations to root out of society people they considered to be undesirable. 26 states in the United States, because of the efforts of such groups, drafted legislation that forced certain people to be sterilized. These laws were upheld by the US Supreme Court I the 1920’s. In one important case, Buck v. Bell, a case from Virginia in which the state’s eugenics officer wanted to sterilize a young woman, Justice OW Holmes Jr. upheld the law saying that “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

It is not surprising that we do not learn about these things in our history books. They are just kept quiet because they arose out of the Progressivist Movement that is so popular today.[...]

Judith Tells Her Parents about Her Conversion

At last Sir George spoke, very calmly as he sipped his brandy.

"Judith, I doubt if you could have done anything which would cause me more displeasure.  You may have thought that because I never talk about religion I am indifferent.  Insofar as this is so, it is my fault.  I am not indifferent.  I despise all religions except one, Roman Catholicism; it I hate.

"I hate it because it is the most religious of religions, carrying escapism from the realities of the world and human needs to the uttermost limits.  I hate it because it is uncompromising, whereas reality is one long compromise with the possible.  I hate it because it exalts suffering instead of relieving it.  I hate it because of its claim to be universal when in fact it is outrageously exclusive.  I hate it because it looks backwards and never forwards.

"Its two pillars are bald, unverifiable statements which it calls dogmas; and an appeal to the superstition of the ignorant, which it calls sacraments.

"When the world is clamouring for social justice, what does it do?  It talks about private sins!  Instead of stretching out the hand to help their neighbours, Catholics clench the fist to beat their breasts.  You have only to look at the slums of Naples and the bogs of Ireland to see how it works.  It creates poverty and ignorance because it thrives on them.

"I need not mention confession except to say that it is a poor specimen of humanity who cannot face his own acts and asks forgiveness for what he cannot undo.

"You say you are going to Mass tomorrow, and I suppose nobody can stop you.  I have had to go dozens of times for weddings and funerals.  The intolerable mumbo-jumbo and mystification of it all!  Is there any attempt to instruct the people or make them perform intelligible human acts?  No!  Are there any prayers which might crystalize the people's consciences on human needs?  No!  Any uplift, any hope?  No!  What is there then?  The adoration of a corpse!  It is the religion of death.

"Yes, so much is it the religion of death that it denies the very process of life-- evolution.  And I am not merely talking about the superficial evolution of matter.  I am talking about the only evolution which could possibly justify religion:  the evolution of man to God."

There was a good deal more along the same lines.  What staggered Judith was that her father might have listened in to Father McEnery's instructions and turned them inside out.  The facts in both cases were the same but produced diametrically opposite reactions.  Precisely what made the religion lovable to Judith made it hateful to her father.  It suddenly struck her: yes, the difference shows exactly what they mean by "grace" and the "gift of faith."

She tried to interrupt a time or two:  "But Daddy, you know, there is a reverse to the coin."  But she was promptly squashed: "I have tossed it and it always comes down tails."  Later she tried again:  "Just suppose, Daddy, that Catholics did suddenly veer round and say that God was point Omega in the evolutionary process; that the social virtues were the important ones; turned the Mass into a ceremony of uplift; became compromising, ecumenical and forward-looking, would you believe in it then?"

Sir George paused for an appreciable time.  He had not expected the question.  But he was both a very intelligent and a very upright man.  "No, Judith, I should still hate it.  In the last resort, I hate it for what it is, not for what it says and does."

"That is very deep of you, Daddy," said Judith perfectly sincerely; "and I suppose it is the same with me.  I love it for what it is..."

--from Judith's Marriage, by Bryan Houghton

10 October 2011

Judith Experiences the Mass

Today, another excerpt from Judith's Marriage, by Bryan Houghton.  In it, a young non-Catholic student of medieval history attends Mass for the first time in the late '50s:
 ...it was rather absurd to be studying mediaeval history and never to have attended Mass.  After all, apart from ruins, it was the only thing that had come intact from Imperial Rome, through the Dark and Middle Ages down to the present day.  As an historical phenomenon it was unique. She could write brilliant essays for Miss Biggs on religious movements in the 12th century but had never looked at the reality in the identical shape under her nose. It had nothing to do with Edmund. She was being objective; it would help her understanding of history. She found out the times of Mass at St. Aloysius's for the next day, Sunday.

… In the first place, being unused to church-going, she arrived for Mass far too early. There was nobody there to give her a cue. You had to do something or other with holy water. She dipped her glove in but decided that you were probably meant to take the glove off. She put her hand in but had forgotten to bring a towel and none was provided. She waggled her hand about until it dried.  Genuflecting in front of the tabernacle: that ought to be easy enough. Yes, but which knee, right or left?  After much thought, she did both, one after the other.  Then came the insoluble problem of where to go.  If only the church had been full she could have stood inconspicuously at the back. But it was empty. To stand would be terribly conspicuous.… She was on the point of leaving when a boisterous family barged in, blocking the only exit; coppers were given to the older kids and sticky sweets to the younger. Behind them was a motley crew filling the little courtyard. She recognized a girl from Somerville whom she particularly disliked, so she could not push her way out for fear of meeting her. She followed the boisterous family and sat directly behind it.

What turned out to be rather less than half the congregation had piled in when a bell was rung and a diminutive boy emerged from the right followed by a priest. Judith was well-acquainted with vestments from splendid pictures by Rubens, and with birettas from 17th century engravings. Naturally, these did not prepare her for how immensely comic they looked on the gaunt figure of Father Philip McEnery, S.J.

The priest gave his cap to the diminutive boy, spread his tools on the altar, turned his back on the people and started off at high speed in incomprehensible Latin.

Judith had always imagined that Roman Catholics had a special grace or charism – – whatever the word was – – enabling them to understand Latin.  Perhaps they had, but it was quite certain that they were not using it. Nobody was paying the slightest attention to the priest, just as the priest was paying not the slightest attention to the congregation.

… However, all these good people must have had a vague consciousness of what was happening at the altar because they all followed with unbelievable discipline a sort of sacred gym of breast-beating, cross-signing, kneeling, sitting, standing and the like.  Exhausted by over 5 minutes of gym, the congregation collapsed into the benches while the priest put on his cap and ascended the pulpit. Judith steeled herself for a sermon; she had always abominated them at school. She need not have worried. Although in the vernacular, it was clearly a part of the liturgy: a list of events which nobody could possibly want to attend, a ticking-off about money and the long catalogue of totally unknown dead people for whom one was asked to pray. The priest returned to the altar, having duly given his cap to the diminutive boy.

Then things seemed to start in earnest. The priest began fiddling about with his tools in complete silence. ...Something was up.  From her mediaeval studies, Judith recognized the Sanctus. There was a surge onto knees; she could hear the click in the old folks' joints.  There was another bell and even the smallest child in front of her disappeared under the bench.  Then there were six bells and the elevation.  Judith knew what it meant: it was the consecration, the Real Presence.  There fell a silence like the primeval silence before ever the world came to be.  It was colossal.

Anyway, so it went on, all utterly inhuman, out of this world... Eventually the priest collected his tools, put his cap on and, preceded by the diminutive boy, went out as he had come in... Judith stayed.

So that was Mass.  Certainly it had been nothing like her preconceived notion as to what a religious ceremony ought to be.  It was not in any sense a community service; everybody seemed to be doing exactly as he liked.  There was no question of "improving" anybody.  Neither were there any of those ghastly, smug prayers which used to make her writhe at school.  Their memory haunted her yet: "Let us pray for the United Nations and all who work for peace," "Let us pray for racial justice in South Africa," "Let us pray that industrial conflicts should find a Christian solution" and so on.  They had probably contributed to Judith's irreligion more than the influence of her father.  But at Mass nobody or nothing had been prayed for at all, apart from the list of unknown dead "whose anniversaries occur about this time."  No, that was not quite true: right at the end when the congregation was surging out there had been some Hail Marys followed by some incomprehensible prayers.

Yes, that was the Mass: aboriginal Christianity.  Judith sat there completely shattered.  Thousands upon thousands of people had died to defend or deny THAT.  The Wars of Religion had always been completely incomprehensible to her, people getting killed for abstract arguments concerning grace and good works.  She could see it now.  The wars had nothing to do with grace or good works: they had to do with THAT.  It was for or against THAT that people had been willing to die.  The rest was just rationalization.

In the sharp light of a first impression Judith could see the problem clearly.  It had nothing to do with particular theological arguments; it concerned the whole orientation of man's outlook.  Was religion centered on man or was it centered on God?... Was the basic religious act one of adoring or of begging?  The Mass gave a peremptory answer: the religious act was theocentric; it was an act of adoration.  All those strange folk, including the boisterous family in front of her, were not begging for peace or justice but, quite unselfconsciously, were attempting to adore.  The object of their adoration, too, was perfectly clear: it was the Real Presence.

[...] The insignificance of the priest also surprised her.  She had always understood that Catholicism was priest-ridden.  But the priest seemed to be no more than a mere craftsman, of much less personal importance than the chaplain at school.  All the priest did was turn up with his little mate and lay on the Body and Blood of Christ as the plumber lays on the water.  He picked up his tools and vanished once the tap of Eternal Life had been turned on. 

By this time Judith was alone in the church apart from the priest.  A moment ago, he had been decked out in lace and silks.  Now he knelt, a black shadow, at the altar rails.  Yes, Judith could see how it was: he had enacted his part, the moth fluttering round the Light of the World; inevitably he had scorched his wings and was again no more than a mournful caterpillar.

It took enormous courage.  Judith went up to him and said: "Father, I want to become a Catholic."