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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Borg To The Left Of Me . . .

A while back (quite some time ago, really), we discussed the resemblance of certain dissidents of a Modernist bent to the "Next Generation" Star Trek's arch-nemeses, the Borg.

Call me mean, if you like, but it does kind of fit.  The quasi-Marxist insistence on collectivism (note how often the word "we" appears in most of their hymns) and stretch-or-truncate-to-fit egalitarianism.  Individuals, their individual needs, talents, and wishes are irrelevant.  It's all chopped up and mixed around in a great liturgical blender until it comes out a smooth, even Long Island Iced Tea of heresies with a twist of deconstructionism and a low-fat froth.

But friends, there is another extreme to which one can go.  One that starts with a reaction against all the above.  One that starts off wanting nothing but a sense of holiness, beauty, solemnity, and continuity with those who came before us.

Sounds reasonable enough, yeah?  I agree.  I've been sympathetic to a lot of this.  I hate watered-down, ugly, pedestrian worship, mis-taught catechetics, and seeing ancient ritual replaced with funky-looking moves and gestures that some "professional liturgist" cooked up on the fly 15 minutes before Mass (and expects you to join in).  Sorry, I came in for sanctifying grace, not interpretive dance.

Nevertheless, there are limits.  There exists, on the far edge of this community, a species of Traddy that does not so much love God as hate their fellow man.  They white glove the liturgy, the hierarchy, and worst of all, men's souls.  They sit through Mass, parse through sermons and interviews, memorize ancient books of rubrics that haven't been in force in 50 years, looking for the least imperfection to call somebody on.  And when they find it, they have zero mercy.

Anyone who dares change anything, or get in the way, or does something wrong with his left pinky while elevating the host, is The Enemy Of The Faith and must be opposed at all costs.  It's not hard to find this type yammering on around the Internet.  They have their own sites (which I won't dignify with links), but no one goes there except them and their own ilk, so they evangelize by way of trolling anyone else who comes within their radar. (If you want to find some to look at on your own, just go take a look at whoever's kicking Mark Shea this week*.  Your nose will tell you).


I warn you now, any posts loaded with transparent rhetoric, like "You talkin' to me?" or "I have no idea what you are talking about," or "I neither know, nor have heard of any such persons amongst Traditionalists; are you sure you don't mean 'Modernists?' or anything amounting to, "Why me and not Them?  Why don't you pick on someone your own size?" will be deleted with extreme prejudice.  Possibly tortured first, if in a moment's pique I forget to be charitable.

Why?  Because in Pope Francis' old stomping grounds of Buenos Aires - IN HIS CATHEDRAL - a small mob of these punks disrupted an ecumenical service commemorating the 75th anniversary of Krystallnacht.

I barely have words.  Let me quote Phil Lawler at length while I think of some of my own.

Let me make three requests: 
First, if you disrupt services at a Catholic cathedral, please don’t try to tell me that you’re defending the Catholic faith. 
Second, if you shout out the Rosary to drown out prayers, please don’t tell me you’re honoring the Virgin Mary. 
Third, if you refer to observant Jews as “followers of false gods,” please don’t tell me that you worship the God of Abraham and Isaac.
Oh, wait; one more request:
If you don’t think that the SSPX is in schism, please tell me how to describe a group that claims its own hierarchy, professes its own doctrine, rejects the official teachings of Catholicism, and describes itself as the one true church.

What he said.  Now let me add this:

Thank you, Traddie Daleks, for giving Christ, Catholicism, and your own founder a bad name.  Thank you for rending Christ's body with the same un-civilized mob tactics preferred by the Rainbow Sash movement.  Not only does this make you no better than they are; it makes you ten times worse.  Here are some reasons why.

  1. You add to your dissent from the teachings of the past five popes, plus an Ecumenical Council, the heresy of consequentialism, i.e., that you may do evil (to wit, profaning a service approved by competent Ecclesial authority) in order that good may come from it.
  2. You use prayer to combat Holy Mother Church, which violates the Second Commandment.  In fact, it goes well beyond blasphemy, right up to the borders of Satanism.
  3. Whereas the Rainbow Sashers and their ilk make their protests (however misguided) in the name of both Divine and human compassion, you instead desire to cleanse a holy place of persons whom - contrary to Catholic Doctrine - you dare to call unclean or profane.
  4. Whereas agitators for same-sex marriage, women priests, and the like call on us merely to reconsider our position (not understanding the permanency of the doctrines involved), you call for the summary interdict and excommunication of those with whom you disagree.  May I remind you that as Catholics, you're supposed to believe the doctrine of Extra Ecclesia, Nulla Salus - "no salvation outside the Church."  By wishing excommunication on a fellow Catholic, you are wishing the damnation of his soul.  May I remind you that "He who curses his adversary, curses his own soul." (Sirach 21: 27)
You know what?  I hope the Holy Father does kick it old-school for your sakes.  I hope he speaks Ex Cathedra, declaring, pronouncing, and defining that the teaching of Nostra Aetate concerning Jews, Protestants, Muslims and Non-Christians is revealed by God and to be held universally by all the faithful.  I hope he alters Canon Law and brings back the Anathema, just so he can declare it on anyone who dares say that the Jewish people are accursed, or that Non-Catholics don't have the same right to religious freedom the rest of us desire and deserve.
Note that reactionaries, like the Daleks, pick fights with enemies capable of defeating them over and over again down the centuries.

I hope you come to your senses.  Otherwise, I'm going to have to start behaving myself, so I don't have to spend hell with the likes of you.

Borg to the left of me. Daleks to the right.
Here I am, stuck in the middle with the Jews.

And you know what?  There's nowhere I'd rather be.

*As I write this, Mark actually doesn't have any comments on that particular post.  Trust me, though, he will.  The reactionaries' habits are so ingrained that they automatically stamp and whinny every time he says, "Blücher!"

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Well, hello, everyone.  Been a while, hasn't it?  See, I had this hospitalization thing (Type II Diabetes), and some long, slow recovery.  Then there was the soul-searching, as I questioned my motives for blogging in the first place - yeah, that's probably going to come up again at some point, but that's me.  I won't promise anything regular, but while my first novel is out to beta readers and I'm well into the research-and-notes phase of my second, I've got a moment to put some thoughts down on . . . er, electrons, I guess.

So, what have I missed?

Oh, yeah, we've got a new pope.  In fact, it turns out we have two popes!

Two popes, and a whole lot of dopes.

We've all heard the narrative, haven't we?  Heard it to death.  Big bad Benedict was the Pope for this Church:
You're not supposed to like this.  If you're into smells, bells, and solemnity, you're elitist and exclusionary, you hate women and poor people, and you're probably a Republican.
While Pope Francis represents this Church:
That's more like it!  All heresy and nowsy and bursting with okayness.  You can tell these guys don't discriminate against women, or the poor, or minorities, or the untalented, or trivial things like sin.
Well, let's put this idea to the test, shall we?  Only instead of quoting lines out of context from ill-translated interview questions answered on the fly, what say we turn up the volume and focus on actions, hmm?

Let's take a recent example from my own beloved upstate.  When Buffalo's Bishop Kmiec retired, Mean, Nasty, Recactionary, Misogynist Benedict replaced him with an über-devout catechetics expert from New England.
His Excellency, Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo.

Two years later, when Rochester's Bishop Clark retired, Humble, Caring, Progressive, Pastoral, Did-We-Mention-He's-From-The-Third-World, Rock-Star Pope Francis replaced him with . . .

An über-devout catechetics expert from New England.
His Excellency, Bishop-Elect Salvatore Matano of Rochester.
Big difference, yeah?

Hermeneutic o' Continuity, FTW.


Well, part of it has to do with ill-managed expectations.  For some reason, people assumed that if Francis didn't explicitly repeat everything Benedict said before him (and sometimes even when he did), he must not believe it.  This is like saying that since John's Gospel omits many of the events found in the Synoptic Gospels, John must be repudiating Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Rather odd, when it's John who has Jesus praying for unity among His disciples in Chapter 17.

The reason Francis doesn't go around repeating Benedict is that he assumes (perhaps foolishly) that we already heard Benedict.  That he treasures Benedict's doctrinal legacy is clear in his speech last month when awarding the Ratzinger prize, praising Benedict for his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy:

No one can measure the good he has done by means of this gift; only the Lord knows! But we all have a certain perception of this, having listened to so many people who, thanks to these books on Jesus of Nazareth, have nurtured and deepened their faith, or have indeed drawn close to Christ for the first time, as adults, bringing the demands of reason alongside their search for the face of God.

Benedict didn't just give up, give in to his enemies, and let them have the new direction everybody wanted.  He had a plan in mind.


Pretty much why he said:

I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

In a word, he'd taken us as far as we can go, and the next step required a pope with the physical stamina to go out to the world.  And isn't that just where Francis rocks.  Our.  Socks?

In the end, I think, it all comes back to the Transfiguration.

Jesus takes his Big Three up Mt. Tabor - Peter, James, & John - The first Pope, the first to die, and the last to die.  There they see His glory for what it is, at least insofar as unregenerate human eyes are able.  Peter wants to build a shrine, maybe sell tickets.  This is what he signed on for, baby.  That and fish.  Lots of fish.

As Bishop Sheen put it, Peter "tried to make the honeymoon the marriage."

Our Lord is having none of it.  Back down the mountain with them.  Down where the other nine are making asses of themselves, trying to exorcise a demon that just Will. Not. Budge.

In a word, it's Monday down there.  Coffee break's over; back on your heads.

If, when you think of the Transfiguaration - as I will this morning in the Luminous Mysteries - you think only of Jesus standing up there with Moses and Elijah, while the apostles stand there picking their jaws off the ground, I humbly suggest you're missing much of the story's point.  Yes, Jesus is Lord.  He is glorious.  And to be fair, his chat with the two prophets seems to be revolving around His impending crucifixion (the problem being, the apostles still don't get it).  But the coming back down is the punch line, if you will.

The first thing Christ told His disciples was, "Come and see."  The last thing he said was, "Go, and tell."

This is the sum of the whole Christian mission.  First we go up the mountain and behold Christ's glory - the glory of His Divinity, and the glory of His victory over death.  Then we go back down, to a world full of devils, convulsing society and growing ever more entrenched.  This is the meaning of the New Evangelization.

It also recalls the story of Mary and Martha.

From the tenth chapter of Luke:

 38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." 41 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."

For centuries, doctors of the Church have seen in Martha and Mary the embodiments of the Active and Contemplative modes of Christian life, respectively.  Methinks Pope Benedict represented the contemplative.  As Pope Francis said, 

 "He gave a gift to the Church, and to all humanity, of what was most precious to him: his knowledge of Jesus, the fruit of years and years of study, of prayer, of theological investigation, and he made it available in the most accessible form”.

And Benedict will stay on, to pray and contemplate on our behalf, while Francis leads us down the mountain to do battle. 

In the last chapter of her Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila says that Mary and Martha ought to walk together on our path to heaven.  Now we have them both in Rome.  SCORE!
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"  (Ps. 133:1)
Our popes can do it; why can't we?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The New Face of Hate

Haters!  They're just haters!  Bigots!  These so-called "marriage defenders" are the same kind of people who turned fire hoses on Civil Rights marchers like MLK.  You just know they're the same kind of privileged, white . . . male . . . Republican . . .
Photo courtesy of Lifesite News.

Oh, snap.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And Now, A Word From A Young Convert

Photo courtesy of Catholic With A Vengeance.
Extraordinary Form  for an extraordinary blog.
Rae Marie, over at Catholic With A Vengeance, has a great piece up about parishes (is yours one?) who beg and plead for young parishioners to get involved . . . until the younger people actually try it.

I spoke up once during choir practice (I’d since then joined the choir because I enjoyed singing and praising the Lord). I said “You know, I’d really like some Latin hymns…Maybe we can have some silence after Mass during Lent- you know for reverence…”
I suggested to our priest once: “I think a Eucharistic procession around Christmas to celebrate the incarnation would be cool…” Deaf ears in reply. I was told by the music director: “We don’t do that anymore…Silence bores the congregation…” and by the priest “A procession would be inconvenient…” 
What I gave was the opinion of a young Catholic- a real, live young Catholic. They didn’t want it. 
The problem is all these pastors, youth pastors and music directors keep telling us young folk what bores us, what we really like, what we find interesting. And guess what, THEY’RE WRONG! If one listens to the young Catholic voice, one would find we are yearning for beauty, for tradition and for truth. Traditional Catholicism honestly fascinates us! We go all week hearing perky pop-songs, jumping techno and chatter that doesn’t leave a minute of silence. We go to church and we get exposed to the same exact things. Thus, of course we find it boring! Why should we go to Mass when we can stay home and sing “Gather us in”, listen to a preacher on tv and fill our rooms with noise? Young people are sick of the world. We long for a safe habitat where we can bow before God and think. We crave contact with ancientness, with a strong grounding, with strong Catholic identity. God’s people are chosen out of the world, set apart, destined for a heavenly home. We want a taste of that!
Read the whole thing here.

We see here yet another case of pastoral and liturgical disconnect: committees and "experts" striving to make Catholicism fresh and relevant for the young people of 1968.  It was a different generation, combating different kinds of abuses by a different kind of authority figure.  Yet here they still are, in 2012 - soon to be '13 - rebelling against an establishment that's been dead since the 1970s.  Jim Kalb has an excellent series on this over at Crisis.  Read all four parts; they're worth your time.

I've seen this nonsense all my life.  I was younger than Rae when I volunteered to teach Religious Ed. to high-school kids.  I'd studied the Catechism (brand new in those days), read the Bible daily, and had a couple semesters of Catholic Theology at undergraduate level from professors who later had shows on EWTN.  My qualifications were nothing, however, compared to those of the young lady who got the position.  She lived in such a close imitation of Our Lady that, like her, she managed to conceive a child without a husband - which child she was visibly carrying at the time.  What better way to teach our young folk than by example?

For twenty years, under four different pastors, I offered to train altar servers.  No takers.  Now, even if they asked, I don't remember enough to be of much use anymore (I could talk you through the average Mass, sure, but weddings, funerals, Benedictions, etc. I just can't remember how it went).

Of course, I'm no longer young, by any stretch.  Young Catholics cannot remember a time before John Paul II was pope.  I can.

But speaking as a recovering young person, I can tell you what young people want:  Christ.  They want Christ, they long for Christ, they hunger and thirst for him:  "When shall I behold His face?"  (cf. Ps. 42: 3)
They want a sense of something holy, mysterious, otherworldly.  Something to challenge their imaginations.  Something to live for.  A Mass to dress up for.  A sense that what they're doing matters.

What better means than through our own long-standing (if now long-lost) traditions?  It's no accident that you'll find ample candles, incense, and recording of Gregorian Chant in any college dorm.  Why don't we find them in our churches?  Why aren't we saying, "You like that?  We invented that!  Come check out what else we have to offer!"  It's time to raid the Church's attic and break out the Ancient Tools for the New Evangelization.  Trust me on this.  When I was 18, a traditional-minded priest called us altar boys together for exactly such a raid.  The object:  Locate the old cassocks and surplices the altar boys of the 1940s had used.  We found them, along with lots of other cool stuff.  Our mothers washed and ironed them, and we wore them as we served Midnight Mass.  We had smells.  We had bells.  Father said the Roman Canon in Latin.  It was one of the greatest nights of my life.  I can't even describe - the closest analogy I have would be falling madly in love, but the stirring's in a different part of you, one I can't pinpoint, because I didn't know it was there till I felt the stirring therein.
Christmas, 1987.  Yours Truly, top right.
What I wouldn't give to have that hairline back!
I've been saying a lot lately, with regard to Evangelization, "Get with Christ!"  That's exactly what I recommend for young people.  Get them with Christ.  And the ones who've got with Him already?  Listen to them!  They are wiser than you know.
"And a little child shall lead them." (Isaiah 11: 6)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Apropos Of Nothing, Just Because . . .

Getting ready for Daily Mass (I read on Thursdays).  Today's First Reading brought to mind this obscure nugget from a mere forty years ago.
Possible shot on Patmos itself, though I can't be sure.  I post it just for the whatever.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christus Vincit. Christus Regnat. Christus Imperat.

This last Sunday of the Church Year (Ordinary Form) marks the Feast of Christ the King.
It is a young feast, as the Church counts time.  Pope Pius XI instituted it less than a century ago.  Perhaps this, along with its proximity to Advent, explains why it often gets so little love.  It's always fascinated me.  Most of our feasts commemorate past events:  the deaths of saints, the foundations of basilicas, historic moments like the Transfiguration and Ascension of Our Lord.  Some recall past events while looking forward to future things they signify.  Thus our coming season of Advent/Christmastide recalls Christ's birth and also points toward His Second Coming.  Eastertide and Our Lady's Assumption celebrate those events while also anticipating our own resurrection as a Church and being caught up to meet Our Lord in the clouds on the last day (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4: 17).  And at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, all history past, present, and future comes together as one, revealing the Cross as the axis upon which it turns.

Today's feast, however, is unique in that it commemorates an event which, from where we now stand in space/time, has not yet happened.  The day when Christ puts all His enemies under His feet, and presents us as a kingdom of priests to the Heavenly Father (cf. 1Cor. 15:  24-25; Rev. 1: 6).

I've needed this feast.  Maybe you have, too.  Have the recent elections had you down?  The state of the world?  A society where we proclaim a national holiday to give thanks for all we have - then get up in the middle of the night to go shopping for more?  Where we smash, and beat, and tear, and draw down on each other for more?

Then this post-holiday holy day may be just the thing for you.  Have no fear.  Do not despair.  Do not be sad.
Christus vincit.  Christus regnat.  Christus Imperat.  Christ has conquered.  Christ rules.  Christ commands.

Have no fear.  Thirty-four years ago, Blessed John Paul II began his papacy with those words:  Nolite Temere!  "Be Not Afraid!"  He returned to that theme again and again down the years, as in Crossing the Threshold of Hope:  "Do not be afraid to follow Christ!"  "Do not be afraid of men!"

"The Lord is King; He is robed in majesty!"  This is our refrain in today's Psalm.  Sing it loud!  Sing it with confidence!  "Take heart," says the Lord; "I have overcome the world." (John 16: 33)  Sing Alleluia!  Sing Hosanna!  Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!  Blessed is the Kingdom of our father David that is coming! (Mk. 11: 10)

The world may think it's won.  Let it go on thinking that.  The prince of this world is already judged.  Christus vincit.  Christus regnat.  Christus imperat.  This is why today's Gospel reading doesn't show Jesus smacking down a demon, or calming the winds and the sea, or telling the Pharisees where to get off.  It shows him before Pilate, as king and conqueror, at the end of the eighteenth chapter of John's Gospel.  The "you say it," form of His answer may seem unclear, but  Christ is indeed King.  King of the Universe.  If you don't believe that, get your Bible and read what comes immediately after this scene.  Jesus has affirmed His Kingship.  Pilate's men then dress him in purple and pleat him a crown.  Pilate then brings Him out before the people:  "Behold your king!"

At the end of Chapter 18, Pilate had asked Our Lord, "What is truth," but now he can't seem to help but proclaim it.  Later, he will put it in writing, and when challenged, he will say, Quod scripsi, scripsi - "What I have written, I have written."

The people may beg to differ.  "Give us Barabbas!" they say.  Like Black Friday mobs (and a Black Friday it looked indeed), they crowded and pushed, and rushed the Praetorium gates.  "Away with this man!  We have no king but Caesar!"  So much for popular opinion.  Nevertheless, the king has been crowned by lawful authority, presented to His people.  Now He goes to be enthroned upon His Cross.
Charlie Sheen notwithstanding, THIS is what winning looks like.
The Lamb of God is the Lion of Judah, and the Wood of the Cross is the Tree of Life.  In Hoc Signo Vinces - "In this sign, you will conquer."  

Christus vincit. Christus regnat. Christus imperat.
Nolite Timere.