30 September 2008

This Is Your Life

I was navigating the ICRSS international website, which has recently been redesigned to more closely match the American site, and found these images on the Institute's German pages.  I decided to post them for the benefit of St. Louis and Oakland area readers-- a little self-indulgent, perhaps, but so what.

Just who is that young priest being ordained?  
Any guess?  Do these photos help?

That's right, this young priest is Father Karl Lenhardt, ordained in 1997.

Don't worry.  I didn't let Father Michael Wiener off the hook.  Here is our new rector, below, dating from the same year-- I cannot tell the occasion but this was taken during his subdiaconate.   I wonder if they knew then just what they were starting?

Cistercians of Our Lady of Spring Bank

This link will take you to an msnbc article and video about the Cistercian Monastery Our Lady of Spring Bank in Wisconsin that is the home of one of my regular readers (he can identify himself or remain anonymous as he sees fit).  Keep him and all who are discerning or following a religious vocation in your prayers.

The focus of the report is the success of some of its high-tech business endeavors that are raising money for the community and the good works they are able to accomplish as a result. But there is a link to the community's site, which is very well done.

It seems they lead a prayer life of mixed English and Latin in the Divine Office and Holy Mass, which is novus ordo in Latin.  The monastery looks very beautiful and peaceful, and the Wisconsin countryside is some of the best in the country.

Rediscovering Traditionalism

Below is a very interesting and informative piece on the historical antecedents of the de-facto suppression and subsequent restoration of traditional Catholic belief and practice, primarily focusing on the Mass. This article is quite long, but when I went to redact it for posting I found that I could not easily cut without losing the impact and coherence of the piece. If anyone is interested in why the question of liturgical restoration is so important, but is not familiar with the Traditional Mass and post-conciliar history, this is a good place to start. This article is located on opendemocracy; it gives permission to reprint it in full, so I have. Thanks to The Remnant for the link.

Rediscovering Traditionalism

John Casey

One year after re-introducing the Tridentine Mass and two years after the Regensburg address, Benedict XVI's popular new traditionalism has re-ignited the Catholic culture wars.
24 - 09 - 2008

The new traditionalism

On 14th June this year about 1500 people filled Westminster Cathedral. Every seat was taken; people stood in the aisles and spilled out on to the piazza outside. The occasion was a mass, but not an ordinary mass. It was indeed a mass in what is now officially called the ``extraordinary form'' of the Roman rite, i.e. the mass as it had existed before the changes that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). It was celebrated by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, and was the first mass in the traditional form to be celebrated in the Cathedral by a cardinal in thirty nine years.

Before the mass, Cardinal Castrillon had addressed the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, a group which had striven for forty years to preserve the ancient liturgy. He told them to `take heart' because the new Pope sympathised with them, and he spoke of the `sacrifices' of those members of the Society `who have not lived to be here today.'

To outsiders, all this emotion, this talk of sacrifices made by dead Catholics for the liturgy might well be unintelligible. What are the great issues at stake? Why should people throng Westminster Cathedral and spill out onto the street, including many too young to remember the old ways, just to experience a service in Latin conducted by a prelate with his back to the people?

In July the Pope was in Australia for World Youth Day. About four hundred thousand of the young, who had travelled from all parts of the globe, acclaimed him at a vast open-air mass in Sydney. But the mass had some new-old features Latin (Gregorian) chant, an altar adorned in the old style with crucifix and seven candles, and an attempt at solemn reverence that is not usually seen at these mass liturgical events. Something is in the air.

The truth is that the Roman Catholic Church has been in crisis ever since the Second Vatican Council, a crisis not only of falling numbers attending mass, a reduction of vocations, the virtual extinction of some religious orders, but a crisis of identity of the Church itself. The confident, tightly centralised ``triumphalist'' Catholicism that followed the sixteenth century Council of Trent and regained many of the lands that had been lost to Protestantism, the Church that claimed to be `the one ark of salvation for all,' has been replaced by the ``pilgrim Church'', tentatively stretching out to other faiths, often apologetic about the past, sometimes ready to play down its most distinctive doctrines.

There is a deeper issue. Hilaire Belloc had said `Europe is the Faith, and the Faith is Europe.' Although Catholicism is a world-wide religion, and an Abrahamic faith, its European inheritance has been central, its philosophical theology deriving from Greece, its language and structures of authority from Rome. It was not for nothing that Hobbes described the papacy as `the ghost of the dead Roman Empire sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.' Enthusiasts for Vatican II thought they had changed all that. Rituals, language, even theology were to reflect the diverse cultures of the faithful, and even the subjective convictions of the individual.

The attempt since the Counter-reformation of the sixteenth century to resist some of the most important developments in modern culture, with an index of books forbidden to Catholics to read that included most of the greatest philosophers and imaginative writers of the modern world, was to be seen as a sort of auto-immune disorder -- an inability to cope with foreign bodies. In the light of this, an attachment to tradition seemed like a rejection of intelligence, and a scarcely defensible surrender to clerical dictatorship. The Church had raised the drawbridge against the modern world, and Vatican II would confidently lower it again. Central to that was the rejection of the traditional Latin mass. It was there that the battle lines were most obviously drawn.

The culture wars

Nearly twenty five years ago, a Pole was dining in my college in Cambridge. He told us that he had been an altar boy in Poland, and had often served the masses of the Archbishop of Cracow. A year or two after that prelate, Karol Woytila, had been installed in the See of Rome, he decided to visit him, for John Paul II never became too grand for his old Polish friends. The Pope (so he told the story) strode up to him, punched him lightly in the chest, and began: Introibo ad ad altare dei ... to which our guest responded: Ad deum qui laetificat iuventutum meum. (``I will go unto the altar of God'' ``To God who giveth joy to my youth.'') This was the opening exchange between priest and server of the old ``Tridentine'' Latin mass, abolished in the early1970s, and the two continued it right down to the Confiteor. Then the Pope shrugged his shoulders and said: `Well, that''s no use to us anymore.' His old altar boy replied: `No, Holy Father, and that''s why I no longer go to church.' To which the Pope (he said) instantly rejoined: `Don''t blame me. Blame that maniac John XXIII!'

Last September, a motu proprio (legislation of his own volition) of Pope Benedict XVI, liberating the old mass, and obliging parishes to provide it for those of the faithful who want it, came into effect. It was clearly an attempt to console those who were still attached to the old rite, including the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre, who rejected the new mass and many of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (summoned by `that maniac, John XXIII.') ``Liberal'' Catholics grimly suspect that the Pope himself has long been disillusioned with the Council, and is bent on restoration of the old order. One Italian bishop said that he actually wept when he read the motu proprio, because he saw one of the greatest achievements of the modernists, a new style of liturgy, dissolving before his eyes. He was right to be alarmed. Benedict''s undoubted love of the old liturgy is also a love of the European culture which produced it.

On the other side, traditionalist Catholics, who were so joyously in evidence at Westminster cathedral, rejoiced mightily. Benedict XVI is on the way to becoming a hero as dear to them as Cyrus the Great was to the ancient Jews, because he freed them from the Babylonian captivity. When the motu proprio was issued, their websites triumphed in the imminent defeat of the philistines and were filled with accounts of celebratory champagne parties and suggestions that everyone should send flowers to the Pope in sign of gratitude.

Not just talking to God in Latin

But what is the fuss all about? Is this just a matter of some people preferring to talk to God in Latin? Or is it the re-igniting of a subterraneous culture war that has troubled the peace of the faithful over the past forty years?
First of all: it is not just a question of Latin. The ``Tridentine'' mass and the Latin mass are not one and the same thing. True, the Tridentine mass must be said in Latin in the Roman church. But decades ago you could attend Tridentine masses in High Anglican churches in Cornwall celebrated entirely in English. The new order of mass, promulgated by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council, was originally meant to be usually in Latin, but is nearly always said in the vernacular. But whatever the language, it is different from the old mass, in feel, liturgical gesture and some would even say in theology. The liturgy has always embodied both prayer and doctrine: it is both lex orandi and lex credendi. The ultras would argue that the changes in the mass were part of a stealthy attempt to alter doctrine. The great Council of Trent (1546-63) marked the final separation between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism with ferocious clarity. Catholic doctrines such as the real presence of Christ in the eucharist, reaffirmed by Trent, are liturgically enforced in the Tridentine mass with no possible ambiguity.

The ultras have a point. A pious Catholic who had fallen asleep in 1960 and woken up forty years later would be puzzled indeed at a modern mass (unless he had been allowed to slumber all those years in Brompton Oratory or a few other traditionalist redoubts.) He would find the modern Church culturally and psychologically so altered that he might be tempted to see it as a new religion masquerading under the old name. He might, like my Polish acquaintance, decide not to bother any more.

The first time I was taken to mass as a child, my mother told me to watch the altar attentively, because an angel might fly across it. My hope in seeing the angel faded quite soon, well before my faith did, but the feeling that the celebration of mass marked a mystery in which Godhead was truly present on the altar, body, blood, soul and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine was astonishingly powerful. The form of the old mass enforced it. There was an overwhelming emphasis on the mass as an actual sacrifice, a mysterious re-enactment of Christ''s sacrifice on Mount Calvary. The priest began at the foot of the altar, with prayers that he might be worthy to ascend the steps: Introibo ad altare dei. In mounting the altar steps the priest was being brought ``unto thy holy mount, and into thy tabernacles.'' These are the words of psalms from the Hebrew Bible, and they go with an extraordinary insistence on using the language of ancient Jewish sacrifice -- `a holy victim, a pure and unblemished sacrifice.' (A Jewish friend of mine, attending a Tridentine mass for the first time, said that this language, and the elaborate cleansing of the sacred vessels, took his mind back to Temple Judaism.) The ritual proceeded with the inevitability of a piece of intricate and beautiful mechanism, as the priest mounted the steps, read the epistle and gospel and came to the canon of the mass. The climax, the obvious focal point of the exercise, was the consecration. The Latin words of this were uttered in a very audible stage whisper, and were followed by genuflection, elevation, genuflection, accompanied by the ringing of bells.

Every gesture by the priest, the signs of the cross, the genuflections, the many kissings of the altar, were strictly controlled by the rubrics. There was no place for ``creativity'' or the expression of personality. The authority of liturgy has always been its immemorial antiquity, and this strange, intensely focussed ritual certainly took you back to the remote past. This was sometimes a cause of scandal. The Good Friday liturgy (which was not actually a mass, Good Friday being the only day in the year when mass was not said) notoriously had a prayer for the `unbelieving Jews' (perfidis Judaeis) that God would remove their ``blindness'' and lead them to Christ. Even worse, this was the one prayer during which the congregation did not have to kneel. (John XXIII removed the offensive words in 1962.) There were also curiosities of an innocent sort. A missal published in 1935 contains a Good Friday prayer that God will `look favourably on the Roman empire' and `render all barbarous nations' subject to the Emperor.

The curious thing about the old mass was that it did not much matter if it was performed badly. It often was. Some priests spoke the Latin intelligently and well. Others gabbled it. We altar boys fought to serve the Low Mass of a certain Franciscan priest because he got through it, by means of remarkable elisions, in twelve minutes flat.

The priest was a craftsman, bringing Christ to the altar, and distributing Him to the faithful in communion. In many ways, it was the priest''s mass, to which the congregation were onlookers, or listeners in. Much of it was in silence, with the priest raising his voice at certain moments to indicate what point the mass had reached. In northern Europe and the United States most of the congregation followed in their missals, which were in Latin and English. But in earlier times people would instead read ``prayers during mass,'' rather than follow the actual words. Illiterates would simply tell their beads. Perhaps they looked for angels to fly across, or at the stained-glass windows. Yet there is overwhelming evidence that they, too, were moved, for they participated in a ritual that signified visually and in terms of movement as well as in words.

Participation theology

Vatican II decreed that the people should `actively participate' in the mass. To the older idea that active participation could take place largely in silence and stillness was opposed the feeling that the congregation should always be doing things, saying prayers aloud, reading passages of scripture, presenting the bread and wine for the mass. The priest became less one who offered an awe-inspiring sacrifice, and more like one who presides over a community meal. Altars were turned round, so that the priest faced the people, rather than praying on their behalf to the East, as had been done from ancient times. (Critics of the new order often suggest -- rightly -- that this leads to a cult of the priestly personality.) The first part of the liturgy is now given over to scripture readings, somewhat in Protestant style, so that when the priest goes to the altar to say the actual canon of the mass, this can seem like an afterthought, rather than the focal point of the whole proceedings. The priest''s genuflections and other ritual signs of assent to the real presence, which in the old mass enacted an idea of worship and transcendence, seemed to have been cut to a minimum. For many, the remarkable beauty of the Latin text itself, set by so many great composers over the centuries, and a profound influence on the authors of the Book of Common Prayer, had helped create a sense of the sacred which had now all but vanished.

How did this happen? There had been a liturgical movement, strong in northern Europe, going back to the nineteenth century. It emphasised the intelligent participation of the laity, the use of missals, and a partial return to what were believed to be pre-mediaeval liturgical practices. This led to the half-conscious assumption that there was some golden age before the ``accretions'' that led to the elaborate liturgy of modern times. This was rather like the Protestant idea of the ``primitive'' Church before Roman ``corruptions.''

There was another line of thought. This was that the Council of Trent had been a tragedy just in that it had sealed the division between Catholic and Protestant in the sixteenth century. Trent had re-affirmed the hierarchical structure of the Church, the role of the priest, and the mass as the continual re-enactment of Christ''s death on the cross. The Anglican Thirty nine Articles say that the `one oblation of Christ is finished on the cross .Wherefore the sacrifice of Masses were dangerous fables and blasphemous deceits.' The underlying purpose of the new rite was reconciliation with Protestantism. Its chief inventor, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, actually said: `We must strip from our Catholic prayers everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants.'

Traditionalists oppose Papal power

To undo the Council of Trent would be no mean endeavour, although to anyone with a sense of the religious history of Europe during the last four hundred and fifty years it must seem a madly ambitious one. But what really ignited the Catholic culture wars was the way it was done: by an unprecedented exercise of papal power. Hardly anything of what happened was prescribed by the Second Vatican Council, not the turning around of the altars, not the almost universal use of the vernacular, not the scaling down of the sense of transcendence and sacrifice, not the discouraging of the faithful from kneeling when receiving holy communion, not the receiving of communion in the hand rather than on the tongue. Traditionalists point out that the Council had decreed that the Latin language was to be preserved. (And the `maniac' John XXIII had been totally opposed to the vernacular in the mass.) It had all been done by Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Bugnini and a close circle of liturgical experts. It was never even passed by a synod of bishops.

The paradoxical conclusion might have been forseen: it was the most pious Catholics, most devoted to the papacy and its prerogatives who were most outraged, but who felt most bound by loyalty and obedience. Their anguish when they were presented in 1971 with the abolition of the old rite can be imagined. (The most popular English Catholic newspaper, The Universe, informed its readers on 26th November that year that `as from this Sunday it is forbidden to offer Mass in the Tridentine rite anywhere in the world.')

Only in France was there open rebellion. Led by Archbishop Marcel Lefevbvre, a thousand or so traditionalists occupied the Church of St. Nicholas in Paris, resisted all attempts to evict them, reintroduced all the old ceremonies, and have been there ever since. The Lefebvrists decreed that with Vatican II Rome had departed from Tradition, and had as good as apostatised.

The bitterness (even despair) of traditional Catholics ran deep. The enthusiasts for Vatican II hailed it as inaugurating an epoch of religious liberty. Yet the abolition of the old mass actually depended upon a Vatican diktat. The Anglican Church has introduced new forms of service, often distressingly banal. But it is impossible to imagine the Anglicans wishing, let alone being able, suddenly to forbid the Book of Common Prayer in all churches of the Anglican Communion. I remember in the 1970s attending out of curiosity a Tridentine mass ``illegally''celebrated by Archbishop Lefebvre in the Great Western Hotel at Paddington. The atmosphere was extraordinary, like that of some improbably enormous catacomb where a clandestine ceremony was going on. Catholics had come from all over England, and many were in tears as they participated in a rite that had suddenly been forbidden them. It was tempting to see this as religious persecution.

Iconoclasm and novelty

The changes were accompanied by an astonishing outbreak of what one can only call iconoclasm, for that is what it literally was. In the University Catholic chaplaincy in Cambridge, the furniture of the chapel, including a charming little baldachino, was largely destroyed at the instigation of the Chaplain. The parish priest of the main Catholic church in Cambridge proposed replacing all the pews with raked cinema-style seats, removing the stained glass, and dismantling their own noble baldachino. (He was frustrated by his congregation, which had been infiltrated by dons.) In my own old parish church, the Franciscans smashed to pieces the whole Byzantine-style sanctuary. Such scenes were replicated all over the country.

There was also liturgical vandalism, especially in America, including priests with red-nose masks celebrating ``clown-masses,'' Halloween masses, dancing-girls and various New Age fooleries. In England, Catholic practice plummeted, and churches were shut.

English Catholics had a special reason for attachment to the old mass. In penal times, several hundred English priests had been executed for saying it. At the place of execution they would often kiss the scaffold, as the priest kisses the altar in the Tridentine mass (much more rarely in the new rite.). The English, more docile than the French, did not rebel. Instead they organised a letter signed by cultural luminaries, many of them non-Catholic, politely asking the Pope for an ``indult'' - permission to celebrate the old mass on special occasions, with the permission of bishops. But their letter did not conceal their feelings of horror: ``If some senseless decree were to order the partial or total destruction of basilicas or cathedrals, then obviously it would be the educated, whatever their personal beliefs, who would rise up in horror '' The old mass ``in its magnificent Latin text, has inspired a host of priceless achievements by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.''

The Agatha Christie exception

How could the Pope fail to respond to such a letter, signed as it was by (amongst many others) Vladimir Ashkenazy, Agatha Christie, Kenneth Clark, Robert Graves, Graham Greene, F.R.Leavis, Cecil Day-Lewis, Nancy Mitford, Iris Murdoch, Yehudi Menuin, Malcolm Muggeridge, Joan Sutherland and the Anglican Bishops of Exeter and Rippon? The story goes that Paul VI was quietly reading through the list of signatories and then suddenly said: ``Ah, Agatha Christie!'' and signed his approval. Ever since, this permission has been known in traditionalist circles as the Agatha Christie Indult.

But although this indult had been granted, many bishops were unwilling actually to give permission. The traditionalists, including the Latin Mass Society, were often treated as trouble-makers and rebels.

The authority to change

I once interviewed the Patriarch of Antioch, in Damascus. I asked His Beatitude whether he, like the Bishop of Rome, believed he had power radically to alter the liturgy. `Oh yes, we have authority in liturgical matters. And in fifteen hundred years we did once alter a prayer.' Clearly the idea of virtually inventing a new rite had never entered the Patriarch''s head. (The so-called ``Tridentine'' rite was not invented by the Council of Trent, but was a codification of the Roman rite which dated back many centuries.) The question all along was whether pope and bishops really do have such authority. One distinguished Catholic thinker judged that there was no such sweeping power, that liturgy had its own authority based on immemorial tradition, and that the pope''s authority in liturgy `is at the service of Sacred Tradition.' The same thinker even dared to describe the new mass as `no re-animation but devastation... fabricated liturgy... banal-on-the-spot product.' The man who wrote those words is now Pope Benedict XVI. The Cardinals elected Ratzinger knowing that these were his convictions. It cannot have been done in a fit of absence of mind.

Mass and Invariance

The Catholic Church has often enforced unity with ferocity. Yet in the present culture war (officially denied, of course) real unity seems far away. As the Pope''s intentions become clear (Cardinal Castrillon said that the Pope wants to make the old rite available `in all the parishes' of England and Wales) the English bishops have fallen into a curious silence. The parish priest of a famous Jesuit church, politely asked whether he would make some traditional masses available, responded with unconcealed rage. (This church advertises a children's liturgy, Japanese masses, services for Brazilians and Filipinos, but apparently drew the line at the ancient Roman liturgy). The dispute about liturgy is part of a wider battle. Those who want to align the Church with modernity, which inevitably means drawing on current liberal values, became influential following Vatican II. But if they hoped that the Church would change its stance on liberation theology, divorce, homosexuality, the ordination of women, they found their nemesis in John Paul II . Woytila''s reassertion of tradition in all these areas was less flamboyant than Pio Nono''s famous denial that `the Roman Pontiff can, and ought to come to terms with progress, liberalism and the modern world,' but it came to much the same thing.

Pope Ratzinger is even more profoundly traditional than his predecessor, and he believes that disputes about liturgy are disputes about the very nature of the Church. He prizes a mass that develops according to its own laws throughout the ages. He is also attracted by the Eastern Orthodox conception of a liturgy `whose light illumines our changing times with its unchanging beauty and greatness.' Those who altered the mass after Vatican II thought it possible to create a form of worship that was illumined, indeed determined by the changing times. These are two wholly incompatible visions. As Benedict puts it in a letter to the bishops that accompanied his motu proprio: `What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.'

Tradition re-discovered in every age

Something unexpected seems now to be happening in the Catholic Church. Far from attachment to the old forms dying away, a generation of younger priests and lay Catholics is coming into view that is enthusiastically attached to the Tridentine mass, and to Catholic orthodoxy. In France, one in five of all priests currently being ordained is devoted to the old mass. And this is a committed, determined minority growing up in a virtual wasteland for the French Church. Only five per cent of French Catholics attend mass regularly. In one diocese, the Cathedral attracts seventy worshippers on Sunday, while the chapel of semi-schismatic Society of St Pius X (of Archbishop Lefebvre) attracts seven hundred to a traditional mass. Indeed, it is suggested that an actual majority of church goers on a Sunday in France attend Lefebvrist services.

Pope Benedict himself is a philosophical traditionalist of a sort that is barely understood in the modern world. In a lecture to the University in Regensberg he enraged some Muslims because he quoted a Byzantine Emperor who suggested that Mohammed countenanced violent religious conversion. But what he was talking about was the relation between religion and reason.

Ratzinger suggested that the God of certain Muslim theologians -- like that of some late mediaeval philosophers, as well as Luther and Calvin - so transcends our categories, even of rationality, that all that is left for us is his sovereign will. If God so commanded, we would have to practice idolatry, or violence. The Pope argued that the Christian understanding of God has to be rooted in rationality: God is reason, the logos, so any attempt to convert by violence is contrary to the nature of God. This may seem an arcane dispute in theology, but what it comes to is that Christianity is inevitably tied up with Greek philosophy, is, indeed, a marrying of Judaic religion with Greek thought. Add the Roman heritage, and we can say (in Ratzinger''s remarkable words at Regensberg) that `Christianity created Europe.'

In other words, Christianity is a culture as well as a set of beliefs. Equally, Europe should remember its Christian roots. (Cardinal Ratzinger once said that if Turkey were ever allowed to join the EU this would represent ``the triumph of economics over culture.'') Catholic liturgies have to keep their Roman and European heritage, and cannot simply be adapted to local conditions, tongues and cultures. The mass in China should not be celebrated with rice and rice wine; and in America it should not express folksy inclusiveness. For Ratzinger, this special blend of Judaism, Greek philosophy and Romanitas is essential to the Church, an idea that Luther scorned. So it is almost literally unthinkable that a genuine liturgy could be fabricated, rather than grow out of immemorial tradition.

Admirers of Ratzinger insist that his traditionalism is no blinkered love of the past, no theological auto-immune disorder. As T.S.Eliot put it, tradition cannot be blindly inherited, but has to be re-discovered in every age, an enterprise that requires great labour. No one who reads Ratzinger can deny that he brings a very lively intelligence into his attempt to rediscover tradition. It is his critics of the ageing Vatican II generation who begin to look intellectually lazy.

In Benedict XVI, Catholic modernists meet a formidable antagonist indeed. His gentle manner and readiness to persuade rather than bludgeon conceals (from those that have not eyes to see) a philosophy of tradition that challenges not only liturgical philistines, but all those Catholics for whom history began with the Second Vatican Council. He is the immediate cause of all those joyful traditionalist Catholics congregating in Westminster cathedral and overflowing onto the pavement. The authority of a pope of Rome is not to be underestimated. When the Pope''s motu proprio became known to Catholic traditionalists, not a few of them wept for joy. At the moment his election was announced in St Peter''s square in 2005, several priests of modernist sympathies were also seen to weep -- but with chagrin. Provided his health holds, then (to misquote Henry James) those tears are not the last they are destined to shed.

Mao. Stalin. Castro. Obama.

They all have their paeans sung by brainwashed children. Try to stifle your gag reflex. And no, despite appearances, this is not the St. Cronan Sunday liturgy.

29 September 2008

Housekeeping, and a Renewed Request

I wanted to take this opportunity to ask again that when you leave a comment, please put an identifying name on your post.  You can login with a google account, but if you would rather not, that's ok, too.  If you choose to post anonymously, just put a name at the bottom of the text itself; it doesn't have to be your real name, but this way people can respond to your comment more easily.

Also, to the anonymous commenter who left several comments in the queue today, and over the past several days:  I don't want to be drawn into an interminable debate about whether the Pope or a particular Bishop are Catholic enough.  Please understand that I am not afraid of pursuing the debate, but rather that I have the following reasons for my disinclination to do this:
  • I don't know if you are really open to trying to persuade each other instead of just trying to pick a fight.
  • I think most readers would not enjoy the exchanges, which promise to be lengthy and a bit didactic.
  • My blog's focus is to support the Catholic Church, primarily in St. Louis of course, and as part of that the widespread resurgence of traditional praxis is, I believe, vital.  I understand that the Holy Father may have different goals or motivations for promoting the TLM, for instance, than you or I may have (although I believe his motivation is actually quite similar to what you or I may have), but the important things are the facts--the actual deeds-- of his pontificate.  They are good.
  • Rather than focusing on the lack, one can focus on progress toward the goal, and that is what I choose to do.  The New Jerusalem will come down whole and entire from Heaven at the end of time, but I don't see traditional Catholicism being reestablished that way in the temporal sphere.  You see, one step comes, then another.  
  • If you can't see progress in the few short years of Benedict's pontificate, then I refer you to my first reason, above.
  • I am happy to point out where I see problems, and of course what I write is often just my own opinion-- you see, it is my blog.  I encourage you to start one if you don't find your views adequately represented out there.  It's easy, and free-- go to www.blogger.com.
With that in mind, feel free to comment if you'd like to add to the discussions involved and can limit your comments to a specific point or two in a spirit of charitable discourse, and please put a name on your comments when you do.  Thanks.

It's a Great Time to Invest

Thanks to the humble reader who sent this link and urged me to take all the credit for it.

New Website for Institute of Sacred Music

Located at the Archdiocese's site is now a location for information about the Institute of Sacred Music. From the site:

The Institute of Sacred Music was established in the Archdiocese of St. Louis in April 2008 by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke. Among the activities of the Institute of Sacred Music are the following:

  • programs of education in Sacred Music, especially Gregorian Chant, for parish musicians, other archdiocesan institutions and interested individuals;

  • Assistance to parishes with the singing of the Mass in English—for example, the Entrance Antiphon, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Communion Antiphon;

  • Assistance with the singing of the Liturgy of the Hours;

  • Assistance to parishes which wish to develop a schola cantorum for the singing of Gregorian Chant;

  • Programs for the full implementation of the English translation of the Roman Missal in the archdiocese;

  • Particular assistance to the programs of Sacred Music at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

For more information, contact:

Institute of Sacred Music-Father Samuel Weber, OSB, Director -20 Archbishop May Drive-St. Louis MO 63119-314.792.6314 -Fax: 314.792.7239 -weber@kenrick.edu

God Bless Archbishop Burke: He Tells It Like It Is

The Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, has made news again, this time pointing out obvious but not oft-heard realities about the political situation in the U.S., especially as it relates to support for pro-death policies. From Catholic News Service:

U.S. archbishop at Vatican says Democrats becoming 'party of death'

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- The Democratic Party in the United States "risks transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death,'" said U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Vatican's highest court.

An interview with the former archbishop of St. Louis was published in the Sept. 27 edition of Avvenire, a daily Catholic newspaper sponsored by the Italian bishops' conference.

The newspaper asked the archbishop, the new head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, for his reaction to reports that his Vatican job was designed to get him away from St. Louis.

"I have too much respect for the pope to believe that in order to move someone away from a diocese he would nominate him to a very sensitive dicastery like this one," said the archbishop, whose office is in charge of ensuring that lower church courts correctly administer justice in accordance with canon law.

Archbishop Burke was asked if he knew that the August Democratic National Convention in Denver featured a guest appearance by Sheryl Crow, a musician whose performance at a 2007 benefit for a Catholic children's hospital the archbishop had opposed because of her support for abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.

"That does not surprise me much," the archbishop said. "At this point the Democratic Party risks transforming itself definitely into a 'party of death' because of its choices on bioethical questions as Ramesh Ponnuru wrote in his book, 'The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts and the Disregard for Human Life.'"

Archbishop Burke said the Democratic Party once was "the party that helped our immigrant parents and grandparents better integrate and prosper in American society. But it is not the same anymore."

Pro-life Democrats are "rare, unfortunately," he said.

Archbishop Burke also was asked about being one of a few U.S. bishops to publicly ban Catholic politicians who hold positions contrary to church teaching from receiving Communion.

"Mine was not an isolated position," the archbishop said. "It was shared by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver, by Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte (N.C.) and by others."

"But it is true that the bishops' conference has not taken this position, leaving each bishop free to act as he believes best. For my part, I always have maintained that there must be a united position in order to demonstrate the unity of the church in facing this serious question," he said.

"Recently, I have noticed that other bishops are coming to this position," he said, especially after Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "while presenting themselves as good Catholics, have represented church teaching on abortion in a false and tendentious manner."

Archbishop Burke said he is convinced that a 2004 letter from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the U.S. bishops and canon law say "it is not licit to give holy Communion to one who is publicly and obstinately a sinner. And it is logical that one who publicly and obstinately acts in favor of procured abortion enters into this category."

The newspaper asked Archbishop Burke if he ever wondered why the issue of Communion for Catholic politicians was almost unheard of in Europe, where abortion is legal in most countries.

"I don't know if Catholic politicians in Europe are more coherent, although I would have some doubts," he said.

However, he said, "I am convinced that the church must always be very clear on this point."

Liturgical Renewal and Restoration Advances as Pope Makes Changes

From the California Catholic Daily and CNA comes this interesting piece of news:

Liturgical shakeup

Benedict XVI replaces all members of Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff

Vatican City (CNA) -- Pope Benedict XVI has made a low profile but significant move in the direction of liturgical reform by completely changing his liturgical consultants.

A hardly noticed brief note from the Vatican Press Office on Sept. 24 announced the appointment of new consultants for the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. It did not mention, however, the importance of the new appointees.

The new consultants include Monsignor Nicola Bux, professor at the Theological Faculty of Puglia (Southern Italy), and author of several books on liturgy, especially on the Eucharist. Bux recently finish a new book, Pope Benedict’s Reform, printed by the Italian publishing house Piemme, scheduled to hit the shelves in December.

The list of new consultants also includes Fr. Mauro Gagliardi, an expert in dogmatic theology and professor at the Legionaries of Christ's Pontifical Athenaeum “Regina Apostolorum;” Opus Dei Spanish priest Juan José Silvestre Valor, professor at the Pontifical University of Santa Croce in Rome; Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, C.O., an official of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and author of the book Turning Towards the Lord -- about the importance of facing ad orientem during Mass; and Fr. Paul C.F. Gunter, a Benedictine professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant Anselmo in Rome and member of the editorial board of the forthcoming Usus Antiquior, a quarterly journal dedicated to the liturgy under the auspices of the Society of St. Catherine of Siena. The Society, which has an association with the English Province of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), promotes the intellectual and liturgical renewal of the Church.

Also relevant to the appointments is the fact that all former consultants, appointed when Archbishop Piero Marini led the office of Liturgical Celebrations, have been dismissed since their appointments were not renewed.

Quis Ut Deus?

Most glorious Prince of the Heavenly Armies, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in our battle against "principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places" (Eph. 6:12). Come to the assistance of men whom God has created in His likeness and whom He has redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Holy Church venerates thee as her guardian and protector; to thee the Lord has entrusted the souls of the redeemed to be led into heaven. Pray, therefore, the God of Peace to crush Satan beneath our feet, that he may no longer retain men captive and do injury to the Church. Offer our prayers to the Most High, that without delay they may draw His mercy down upon us: take hold of "the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan," bind him and cast him into the bottomless pit "so that he may no longer seduce the nations" (Apoc. 20:2).

His Holiness Leo XIII, reprinted on this feast of the Dedication of Saint Michael the Archangel, 29 September 2008.

28 September 2008

No News

Of any kind at the moment.  Into the breach, for the hopeful amusement of newer readers, comes this blast from the past.

27 September 2008

Governor Blasts Obama's Intimidation Campaign

Gov. Blunt Statement on Obama Campaign’s Abusive Use of Missouri Law Enforcement

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouricampaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals ofJefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights.  The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family.  Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility.  When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missourilaw enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts - not a free society.”

26 September 2008

The Traditional Latin Mass in St. Louis as Covered by the Review

The St. Louis Review has drawn attention in this space often.  As the official Catholic newspaper, it of course will be the ordinary vehicle for the Archdiocese to inform its faithful, and to promote the faith.  

Ideally, the goals of the editor and the goals of the Archbishop when it comes to promoting the faith would perfectly coincide.

The Review's decision to print the CNS story that obfuscated and attempted to excuse Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Biden's pro-abortion record is an example of how this is not always perfectly realized.

The Review does a very good job in its mission overall, and there has been some really great coverage at times, such as the in depth issue at Archbishop Burke's farewell announcement.

However, on another matter in today's issue, there is a story about the Traditional Mass one year after the motu proprio that doesn't quite satisfy.

It is well-known that Archbishop Burke is a strong supporter of the widespread availability of the Traditional Mass.  Bishop Hermann also has often celebrated this form of the Roman Rite.   Therefore, it is nice to see an article about the local support for the TLM.

The article is well-written by Jennifer Brinker and highlights many of the area's Traditional Mass locations-- the Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine, Assumption Parish, other locations and finally St. Francis de Sales Oratory-- the largest TLM-only community (averaging about 1200 people for Sunday Masses) and  a kind of center for the Extraordinary Form in the Archdiocese.

Therefore, I don't want to be misunderstood about the quibble I am about to make.  It is a molehill, not a mountain.  

The amount of space allotted on a given page and the choice and location of photos are editorial decisions.  Thus, I have an issue with the layout of this story.  The headline reads as follows:

Latin Mass supported, one year after papal ruling

On the front page the only community mentioned is the West County Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine, and the article states that this relatively new (and growing) location has 40 families and draws 100-150 faithful on Sunday.  There is no picture accompanying the story on the front page; it is included on the back page of that section.  It is a photo of that Oratory with about 15-20 people visible.

Now, although the article discusses and gives information about other locations, and notes as I said above the very large and growing numbers of the faithful at St. Francis de Sales, my question is this:  Is the arrangement of the story to include only the smaller location on page one and including only the sparsely populated photo in back designed to give an impression that the headline should be read to say this?:

Latin Mass supported by few, one year after papal ruling

I am in no way knocking the West County community-- everything I have heard from people who attend there has been positive about the Oratory and the Benedictine priests who administer it.  That is not the point.  I think that if I wanted to print a story about the fact that the TLM is really supported in this Archdiocese, the picture I would run would be slightly different-- St. Francis de Sales is just down the street from the Review, attracts a ton of people each week in a gorgeous setting just tailor-made for the Traditional Mass, and would make a great picture to visually support the thrust of the story.  

If the intent was to try to promote some of the lesser-known Mass locations, why not print multiple pictures? 

Again, noting that I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill, I can't help but put the layout of the story in the context of the Review's treatment of other stories on the TLM, especially in the run up to, and coverage of, the motu proprio issued last year.  Typically, the position of the Review has been lukewarm at best.

And so, I am done.  The article is here.

More Good News from Kenrick-Glennon on Matters Liturgical

The article is posted over at NLM.  If anybody at the seminary has news of this kind, feel free to drop a line.  :-)

When Worlds Collide

From a post by Rocco Palmo-- the photo and caption come from that blog. I just love the caption-- Cardinals of the Church in front one of the most ghastly examples of modern Church architecture around.

Obama's "Truth" Squad Ready to Pounce-- Is this America?

Democrat County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch and Democrat Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce have informed the press that they will target political ads that "lie" about Democrat Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. This strikes me as an eminently reasonable course of action for the KGB to follow, but not quite so nice in a country that claims to have freedom of speech.

Who decides if a statement is a lie? Democrats Joyce and McCulloch? Obama?

One of the examples of a "lie" in the Channel 4 report is if anyone dare accuse the Anointed One of wanting to raise taxes on people under a certain income amount. Are you kidding me?

Is it acceptable to the Komissars of the left to point out that electing Obama may have a deleterious effect on the right to free speech?

Is pointing out Obama's 100% NARAL rating a lie?
Is saying that Obama's middle name is Hussein a lie?
Is saying that he voted against protecting babies born alive after botched abortions a lie?
Is pointing out that he can't speak without incoherence if no teleprompter is around a lie?

I mean, is anyone going to flood these prosecutor's office phones and emails with complaints about abusing laws to punish one's political opponents? Did I wake up in Chicago?

This is outrageous. This is thuggery.

25 September 2008

St. Francis de Sales Oratory Choir Performs Premiere of Kevin Allen Motet

This past Sunday, the Choir of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, directed by Mr. Nick Botkins, premiered the Kevin Allen motet O Sacrum Convivium, and also performed Allen's O Salutaris Hostia.

The links below should play both pieces.  For more information about the music of Kevin Allen, check out this post from the New Liturgical Movement.

The Oratory choir continues to impress.

UPDATE:  I will try to make this easier, but for now I think it will work if you download it first, then play it in your mac or windows player.  I was able to download it to my mac and then play.

September 26, 2008: St. Isaac Jogues and St. Jean de Brebeuf

Tomorrow being their feast day (though only a commemoration this year due to Ember Friday, here is a repost from last year:

Today is a good day to pray for the intercession of these holy martyrs, and to spiritually accompany the Annual Pilgrimage for Restoration to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs.

From Wikipedia:

Saint Isaac Jogues (January 10, 1607 – October 18, 1646) was a Jesuit missionary who traveled and worked among the Native Americans in North America. He gave the original European name to Lake George, calling it Lac du Saint Sacrement, Lake of the Holy Sacrament. He is regarded as a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1930 Jogues, St. Jean de Brébeuf and six other martyred missionaries, all Jesuits or laymen associated with them, were canonized as "The North American Martyrs," or "St. Isaac Jogues and Companions." Their feast day is October 19 in the U.S., September 26 in Canada (note: Sept. 26 is their feast day in the traditional calendar, even in the U.S.).

Born in Orléans, France, Jogues entered the Society of Jesus in 1624. In 1642, he was sent to New France as a missionary to the Huron and Algonquin allies of the French. While on his way by canoe to the country of the Hurons, Jogues was captured by a war party of Mohawk Iroquois, in the company of Guillaume Couture, René Goupil, and several Huron Christians. Taken back to the Mohawk village, they were tortured in various gruesome ways, Jogues himself having several of his fingers bitten or burned off.

Jogues survived this torment and went on to live as a slave among the Mohawks for some time, even attempting to teach his captors the rudiments of Christianity. He was finally able to escape thanks to the pity of some Dutch merchants who smuggled him back to Manhattan. From there, he managed to sail back to France, where he was greeted with surprise and joy. As a "living martyr," Jogues was given a special permission by Pope Urban VIII to say the Holy Mass with his mutilated hands, as the Eucharist could not be touched with any fingers but the thumb and forefinger.

Yet his ill-treatment by the Mohawks did not dim the missionary zeal of Jogues. Within a few months, he was on his way back to Canada to continue his work. In 1645, a tentative peace was forged between the Iroquois and the Hurons, Algonquins and French. In the spring of 1646, Jogues was sent back to the Mohawk country along with Jean de Lalande to act as ambassador among them.

However, some among the Mohawks regarded Jogues as a sorcerer, and when the double-calamity of sickness and crop failure hit the Mohawks, Jogues was a convenient scapegoat. On October 18, 1646, Jogues was clubbed to death and beheaded by his Mohawk hosts near Auriesville, New York, along with Goupil and LaLande.

Today, the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, maintained by the Jesuits, stands on or near the site (ten years after Jogues' death, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in approximately the same place). Brebeuf and five of his companions were killed in Canada in 1648 and 1649.

Report: Homeschooling Surges

From the story at Fox news:

Homeschooling Surges in U.S. as Parents Reach for Legal Rights

Monday , September 22, 2008
By Shannon Bream

Homeschooling is no longer just an offbeat trend or an avant-garde educational choice. It is growing exponentially and its proponents are fighting for new legal rights in the U.S.

With more than 2 million homeschooled students in the United States, parents' reasons for opting out of traditional public school are as varied as their demographics.

"It used to be that homeschooling was the domain of people on the two extremes of the political spectrum, and now you have families from every possible religious, political, philosophical, socio-economic position," said Celeste Land, chairwoman of the Government Affairs Committee for the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. "You name it, we've got it."

Land says many parents who decide to take on home education come to the decision after realizing they want more for their children than school districts are required to provide by law.

It's also the law that presents some of the toughest challenges. States and school districts have a disjointed jumble of ordinances and measures that can make it tough for parents to know exactly what they are permitted to do as homeschoolers.

The situation has galvanized a nationwide movement. Legal fights to establish homeschooling rights have been launched from California to Pennsylvania. In most cases, Land says, parents are just looking for clarification.

"A family comes to us and says the school district is looking for more than the law requires or won't let them do something they want to do," she said.

Dawn Johnson, a mother of four, believes the challenges are well worth the payoff. "I don't think anything beats one-on-one tutoring, and I am allowed to talk and teach each of my children individually based on their strengths and weaknesses and learning styles," she said. "They're not held back by students in a classroom."

Her strategy appears to be working. According to Johnson, her children are now testing at two grade levels ahead of their age group. Socialization is also covered, with Johnson committing her children to activities from soccer to choir at least four days a week.

"They're probably more socialized than kids who go to school and see the same children every day because we're doing different things every day," she said.

As for financial considerations, many homeschooling parents believe the time and money they spend teaching from home is a bargain compared to private school tuition.

"You get to choose your own curriculum," said Johnson. "You can get everything free online if you want."

Some parents are also fighting for tax credits, since their tax dollars are paying for a system their children aren't using. Land says it's "very tempting" to look at education tax credits as an option for homeschoolers, but cautioned that the credits could come with strings attached, and could invite even more unwanted regulation.

Codifying Genocide: The "Freedom of Choice" Act

Barack Obama's "Freedom of Choice Act" Would Mean 125K More Abortions

by Matt Bowman
September 24, 2008

LifeNews.com Note: Matt is an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a leading pro-life law firm. This article concerns the so-called Freedom of Choice Act that presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would make signing his first action as president.

With so much attention on the economy, one area of federal legislation that can be overlooked is abortion. An old and dangerous bill that will increase abortions by an enormous amount is being resurrected by abortion advocates: the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). H.R. 1964 and S.1173.

FOCA is usually reported as “codifying Roe v. Wade,” but it is much more. Since the Webster and Casey decisions in 1989 and 1992, the Supreme Court has allowed states to limit abortion somewhat by such things as requiring parental involvement and informed consent, prohibiting government funding of most abortion, and more recently outlawing most partial birth abortions.

But FOCA tolerates none of this. Advocates and opponents of FOCA all agree that the bill would nullify every legal limit on abortion, state, federal or otherwise. Americans United for Life, as well as the Family Research Council, explain this fact in great detail. Abortion advocates who want FOCA concur: NOW, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and FOCA sponsor Senator Barbara Boxer all contend that FOCA will strike down all state pro-life laws.

The shockwaves that FOCA would cause are immense and wide-ranging, but recent research shows one effect in particular. Certain state laws that are doomed under FOCA actually prevent a statistically significant number of abortions. These laws include parental involvement requirements, informed consent laws, and restrictions on government funding of abortions.

Specifically, if FOCA is passed it will increase abortions by 125,000 more per year in the United States. Since 2004, Dr. Michael New has published studies with the Heritage Foundation showing that a large reduction in abortions can be attributed to these three kinds of laws.

Even considering other reduction factors such as change in public opinion, Dr. New’s regression analysis shows that parental involvement laws in a state lead to 0.54 fewer abortions per 1000 women of childbearing age, informed consent laws lead to 0.92 fewer, and state restrictions on Medicaid funding lead to 2.08 fewer.

Both pro-life and pro-abortion organizations tell us which states have these laws in place: 36 states have parental involvement laws, 26 states have informed consent laws, and 34 states have funding restrictions.

The U.S. Census Bureau gives us projections for 2009 of females age 15-44 in each of these states. Then it’s a simple matter of cross-referencing the number of women of childbearing age in each state with each abortion restriction, and applying Dr. New’s ratio. The grand total number of abortions reduced by these laws is 124,947.6, per year.

This is a minimum. FOCA will strike down other laws, state and federal, that reduce abortions, and will force states to facilitate abortions. 125,000 more abortions is only the tip of the FOCA iceberg.

Even with this minimum, that’s 125,000 children that were not killed this year because we have these laws, and 125,000 children (added to the existing 1.3 million abortions) who will be killed in 2009 and every year after if FOCA is passed. FOCA is indeed a staggering expansion of abortion, both in principle and in actual lives lost.

So True

Go through your phone book, call people and ask them to drive you to the airport. The ones who will drive you are your true friends. The rest aren't bad people; they're just acquaintances.

--Jay Leno

24 September 2008


St. Luke 12:38

Et si venerit in secunda vigilia et si in tertia vigilia venerit et ita invenerit beati sunt servi illi.

Sometimes local Catholic news comes at you so fast that it is impossible to miss--like a monsoon. Sometimes it trickles so slowly that it is hard to find. Sometimes it is as obvious as a press release. Sometimes it is so esoteric as to require a lawyer's explanation.

The big Catholic news story in St. Louis right now is one which has yet to break.

The Catholic restoration that began to take shape in this Archdiocese several years ago, and advanced so rapidly under Archbishop Burke's care, is still at work. Yet there is a palpable expectation in the air as we await the announcement of His Grace's successor.

The restoration will continue, and the works already accomplished will not be easily stuffed back into the bottle. But will there be the fulfillment of the integration of faith, liturgy and culture that is at the heart of the Holy Father's public words and works-- particularly in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and in his encyclicals?

When the announcement comes, as it must come sooner or later, the media will focus on issues affecting the political sphere, or maybe on a few of the local issues of religious controversy. But more to the point are these:

  • What will the typical parish liturgy in the Archdiocese look like if the Archbishop's wishes are obeyed? Will both forms of the Roman Rite be available to the faithful, whose right it is to receive the sacraments as the Church intends?

  • Will priests be allowed to carry out their administrative and sacramental responsibilities in parishes or will lay "pastoral associates" (sometimes acting, as we have seen, as "co-pastors" or stealth priestesses) continue to encroach in this area?

  • Will our children in Catholic schools receive catechetical instruction sufficient to actually effect the transmission of the Catholic faith?

  • Will Catholic hospitals and schools have the backbone to remain faithful to immutable Church teaching in the face of hostile political pressure?

  • Will the tone of vibrant orthodoxy so ably fostered by our last two Archbishops be continued?

If the faith is presented, whole and entire, Catholics will respond. If the liturgy of the Church, particularly the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is celebrated as directed by the Church, with reverence for Christ in holy obedience, Catholics will respond. There is not a money issue out there that is as important as any of the above. And on the contrary, the more the Church acts like the Church, the numbers of the faithful, and their contributions besides, will increase.

These are the thoughts that occupy me today at the keyboard.

Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us.

St. Louis IX, King of France, pray for us.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, pray for us.

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us.

23 September 2008

Why Moms Should Read Saint Louis Catholic

If the mother in this video had read my post on Basic Baby Care, she wouldn't be in trouble today.

Just as a reminder to her, and to anyone else who takes the car wash = baby wash approach, the picture below is for you.

Something Missing from Coverage of the Tow Company Scandal

The tow company/St. Louis Police Department scandal has been very well covered, generally, by the Post-Dispatch.  St. Louis Metropolitan Towing has been accused of owing $700,000 to the city, and of allowing free use of impounded cars to the daughter of ChiefJoeMokwa (tm) and to some police officers.  This investigation has caused the FBI and the IRS to check into the company.

Good reporting, right?  Almost, but something is missing.

At this STLToday link is a collection of the stories the paper has run on the tow company matter. 

What this collection of stories lacks is nearly any investigation into the owners of the tow company, one of whom, William Bialczak, is the head of the Board of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation, and supporter of the excommunicate Marek Bozek.

Only one of the stories makes more than a passing mention of him, and notes that the Mokwa and Bialczak families had some connection.  But the sum total of the investigation of the newspaper into Bialczak's role in the case is as follows:

Lot owners William and Kenneth Bialczak have not responded to requests for comment.

That's it?  That's the best they can do?

When the whole St. Stan's issue began to blow up, in addition to the wild accusations about the Archbishop and his motivations, there were people who were concerned that the Board was not rendering a full and fair accounting of the assets and cash of St. Stan's and what use the Board made of them.  The worry was a lack of transparency-- and the Archdiocese may not be pleased by gaining knowledge of what was going on.  This part of the story was dutifully ignored by the press for three years.

And now Bialczak's tow company is accused of cooperation with police corruption.  It allegedly owes the city $700,000.  And it is under further investigation by the FBI and the IRS.

And yet this guy gets a free pass from the media on how he manages the alleged millions of St. Stan's?  Why?

Why won't the Post-Dispatch do the job of a free press and complete its coverage of this story?

22 September 2008

Advice to Would-Be Religious Leaders: Don't Call Your Headquarters a "Compound"

Colleen Hammond's blog first carried this story, but reading it confirmed what I have thought for some time now-- if you want to lead any kind of religious movement, DO NOT call your base a compound. Don't let the media call it a compound. Heck, don't treat your warts with Compound W.

Need examples?
  • Waco
  • the Texas uber-Mormons
  • Tony Alamo

Compound = Federal Intervention

Hey, I wonder what is going on at the St. Stan's compound...