Saturday, September 25, 2010
I was looking for some good sources on the ordinary Magisterium of the Church & came across the sites of 2 groups that I found interesting, if somewhat sad. What was interesting was that, as different as they appear, there's something quite kindred between them, I'd say. I'll speak about one now & the other in a different post.
First up is a group of uber-Trads known as sedevacantists. I don't feel inclined to give their name & address - you can find them if you want. It doesn't take a Latin scholar to figure out their core belief - that the "See is vacant," meaning that the current pope is really a Modernist heretic, thus no pope at all - just an impostor - & further that the visible Catholic Church defected from the true faith (which, of course, they alone hold) with the 2nd Vatican Council. & is in the grip of Satan. Their big sticking points are the Novus Ordo Mass, ecumenism, & religious liberty, amongst a hoary host of attendant issues.
The New Mass is invalid, they say, because form, matter, & intention have all changed. They claim that the language of sacrifice was specifically culled out & that the vernacular translations are an abomination of errors. Besides, they hold all of the New Rite of sacraments invalid, including Holy Orders, so they would not recognize the New Mass as valid, anyway. They like to point out the innumerable abuses observed in celebrating the New Rite. They hold exclusively for the Mass of the Council of Trent.
Regarding ecumenism, they see the outreach of the "Church of Vatican II" to other religions & Christian groups as consorting with the enemy, something a Church holding the pure Faith would never do, mainly because it implicitly gives legitimacy to whatever errors the groups hold. They point to Pope John Paul II's numerous ecumenical prayer services with Buddhists & such as well as the now-permitted reception of the Sacraments by those in schism under certain circumstances are evidence supporting their arguments.
Regarding religious liberty, they equate the idea that no one should be coerced in matters of faith with admitting that there is another way to heaven besides Jesus Christ & the one, true (& indefectable) Church, because the phrase "Outside the Church there is no salvation," tenders no nuance. They see shaky theology, fuzzy preaching, diminishing vocations, & lack of vigor in evangelization as evidence of their position.
Now, I'm actually sympathetic toward these folks. I abhor when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is replaced by the Father O'Reilly Variety Hour. I'm somewhat troubled that certain authoritative statements from the Council & subsequent teaching seem to be in conflict with prior teaching. I'm dismayed, too, by lack of vocations, bad preaching, & a certain coziness of the Church with the world in some ways & un-surety of what it believes in others.
The Seds, though, back up their claims mostly with mudslinging against the Pope & the bishops & by quoting select bits from a myriad of Church documents, mostly obscure papal bulls & councils from a long time ago. Not that the latter are bad - what's true is always true (don't we recite a Credo formed at the ancient councils of Nicea & Constantinople at every Sunday Mass?) - yet, if the Gospel is to be preached to the ends of the earth & every believing person is to be baptized, don't you suppose that the Church would be, ya know, findable? I mean, without reading, analyzing, & comparing every Church document ever written, how was little ol' Ms. Maple in the 3rd pew on the left supposed to know she became a heretic adhering to schism on 28 October 1958 (the day Pope John XXIII was elected)?
To hold to their position is basically to admit that the prayer of Jesus that Peter's faith would not fail has failed. And this cannot be. They do not hold that there is a secret line of real popes, though I'm sure somebody somewhere holds for that. They hold that the See of Peter, that is, the Papacy itself is vacant & they pray that in God's good time, he will raise up a true pope. From where? To what? It seems they are so laser-focused in on historical documents that they can't read plain history. The Church has always been a mess. There have always been very good & very bad people within it, even in the highest positions. The Mass has been ever-changing. Even the saintly Pope Pius XII, the last Pope they recognized, made changes to the Tridentine Mass. Plus, now one of the biggest legs of their stool is taken out from under them since Benedict XVI has "liberated" the Old Mass (though they surely quelp, "Ah-ha!" over the altered Good Friday prayers). But, in spite of us, Christ guides his Bride through dark nights & rough waters. He promised us he would see us through.
The Sedes want a perfect Church that will never exist on this side of the veil. Are some of the things they protest silly, infuriating, or difficult to reconcile? Absolutely. Does that mean the Church & the Pope have defected & Christ has abandoned his Church? Not a bit. A thousand difficulties do not one doubt make. Without elaborating further, the key seems to be a true belief in the Holy Spirit present & at work in the Church, leading it toward Truth. You'd almost have to be a madman to believe that Pope Benedict XVI is a Modernist heretic. He is actually working to clarify many of the issues that vex this group, if they weren't so crazy-eyed & frothing-at-the-mouth to see.
So what to do with this crew? Sadly, there's not much to do except to leave them to themselves - for they will eventually just fade away as a renewed Catholic Church regains its strength. Pray for us all to repent & be converted to Christ. Commit to being an informed & faithful Catholic, living the Faith we profess & loyal to Peter - the Rock upon which Christ Jesus has built his Church.
As Father Corapi has frequently & famously said, "You can fall of the boat port or starboard."
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
In ManAlive!, Chesterton immerses us in a kind of dream world that has us circling the entire globe (literally!) while remaining in the comfortable confines of an English boarding house drawing room. We are presented with a menagerie of characters, each an aspect or image of the Modern Man, who reveal the absurdity living life without a purpose, & without even trying to discover the purpose. In the end, we remain with a question: Are we alive?
Part of Chesterton’s genius is the reverse play: the only one who is truly alive in this very tall tale appears at first to be a buffoonish, murderous, philandering thief doing business under the name Innocent. Naturally, there’s more to the story than first appears. Sometimes a fellow really does have to hoof it around the whole world just to come back around to his house (Believe me! I know a thing or two about that!). Perhaps there is a lesson here regarding what a truly Christian life would look like. As was famously said, “Holiness always looks mad by earthly standards.”
Blowing in with the westerly wind are a host of classic Chesterton quotes, each a jewel in itself, but even more precious when positioned within their proper place in the story...
“I mean,” he said with increasing vehemence, “that if there is a house for me in heaven it will either have a green lamp post and a hedge, or something quite as positive and personal as a green lamp post and a hedge. I mean God bade me love one spot and serve it, and do all things however wild in praises of it, so that this one spot might be a witness against all the infinities and sophistries, that
“Nothing brings down more curses than a real benediction.” – Michael Moon
“As too many British officers treat the Army as a review, so I had treated the Church Militant as if it were the Church Pageant… Then I realized that for 1,800 years the Church Militant had not been a pageant, but a riot – and a suppressed riot… In the face of that I had to become revolutionary if I was to continue to be religious.” – Curate Percy
“Do you, perhaps,” inquired Pym with austere irony, “maintain that your client was a bird of some sort – say, a flamingo?”
“In the matter of his being a flamingo,” said Mood with sudden serverity, “my client reserves his defence.”
People talk of the pathos and failure of plain women; but it is a more terrible thing that a beautiful woman may succeed in everything but womanhood.
“I will not be so uncivil as to suggest that Dr. Pym has no common sense; I confine myself to recording the chronological accident that he has not shown us any so far.” – Michael Moon
“If it be true that there is a kind of man who has a natural tendency to murder, is it not equally true -” here he lowered his voice and spoke with crushing quietude and earnestness, “is it not equally true that there is a kind of man who has a natural tendency to get murdered?” – Michael Moon
“There is something pleasing to a mystic in such a land of mirrors. For a mystic is one who holds that two worlds are better than one. In the highest sense indeed, all thought is reflection... This is the real truth in the saying that second thoughts are best. Animals have no second thoughts; man alone is able to see his own thought double, as a drunkard sees a lamp post. Man alone is able to see his own thought upside down as one sees a house in a puddle. This duplication of mentality, as in a mirror, is (we repeat) the inmost thing of human philosophy. There is a mystical, even a monstrous truth in the statement that two heads are better than one. But they ought both to grow on the same body.” - Curate Percy
Will you kindly tell me what the deuce is the good of a jewel except that it looks like a jewel? You can’t fight with golden swords or eat golden biscuits; you can only look at it.
Things look so bright just before they burst.
Only saints and sages ought to be robbed. They may be stripped and pillaged; but not the poor little worldly people of the things that are their poor little pride.
"There should be priests to remind men that they will one day die. I only say that at certain epochs it is necessary to have another kind of priests, called poets, actually to remind men that they are not dead yet." - Curate Percy
H.E. Rating: 4 aspergillum shakes
Thursday, September 2, 2010
11. That's surprising, since your obvious mastery of the English language led me to believe you were quite the language scholar! While English descends most directly from German, over half of the words in English are derived from Latin. Learn one & you learn something of the other.
10. I'm sorry, I didn't know about your learning disability. After you've prayed & sung them a thousand times, you do know them, even if you can't converse with your friends in Latin on street corners (though wouldn't that be fun!). I teach my 6th grade catechism students a few standard prayers & sayings in Latin each year, & it only takes a few classes before they don't really need their guide sheets anymore.
9. Where exactly did you go to school? America is one of the most affluent & educated countries in the world. I hold it to be a failure of the educational system - along with a big dose of cultivated personal laziness - that Latin isn't better known by anyone with a high school diploma & especially a college degree.
8. You're right - all that Cicero, Caesar, Augustine stuff is probably just a load of crap anyway. In a day when people are supposedly smarter than ever before, why in the world would we consign all the foundational writings of western civilization to the pyre! At work just last week I was asked by a whole group of engineers & technicians what "E Pluribus Unum" on our coinage means!
7. I don't like to pray together with those "other" people either! Why don't we all just fragment into our own little social-racial-linguistic factions, which I'm sure is what the Lord & his Church intends. I hear all the time that this was a big problem in the Old Days - Irish, Germans, Italians, & Polish all had their own ethnic parishes & ne'er shall they meet. This kind of Euro-factionalism isn't so common today, but often Spanish or Philippino speakers get the shaft on Mass times & run the risk of becoming a parish-within-a-parish. Can't we just pray Mass together? Plus, why would we want to lose a connection with Catholics around the world?
6. Latin is a fun to speak. It's true! The vowels are all very rich & deep. A's are always "ahhhh" as in father. O's are always "ohhhh" as in boat. U's are always "oooo", like in moose. Give your R's a little roll or flip. See how often you actually make your H's silent (nearly impossible for English speakers). All very My Fair Lady-like, if you ask me. My 6th graders eat it up, for the most part.
5. Latin is easy to sing. It is very metrical & very easy to rhyme because of the standard endings on the various noun & adjective declensions & verb conjugations, such as "Resurrexit sicut dixit..." from the Regina Caeli hymn. Which brings me to another point - there is a vast & deep ocean of beautiful liturgical chants & hymns that have lain untouched for decades now, some of which go back to antiquity. And they are soooo beautiful & prayerful!
4. Latin ain't dead; it ain't even sick. There is a rediscovery of this most beautiful tongue underway. Many students are finding themselves woefully ignorant compared to their predecessors, sensing that they are missing out on something very valuable. Here's an interesting article on the situation in Ol' Blighty (England) from our friends at the Daily Telegraph. I was very surprised at the depth of study into Greek & Latin at my son's Protestant high school!
3. Yes, the Church's ancient liturgical traditions are soooo cumbersome! Yes, tradition with a little T, but some of those point to big T's. We don't manufacture our Catholic Faith. It's not a product of our times. It's been handed on from the Apostles who received it directly from the hands of Christ. I hold strongly that the Ordinaries (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus et Benedictus, Credo & Agnus Dei) should always be sung in the ancient languages to reinforce this. There still seems to be a lot of confusion about this & plenty of people eager to cast off the lines from the Rock & set sail into the abyss of "what's happenin' now!" Latin helps to keep us grounded in the ancient Faith.
2. The Church asked us to. Throughout the conciliar documents, esp. on the liturgy & the formation of priests, there are statements reaffirming the primacy of Latin as the liturgical & theological language of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Why? Probably because the Church's theology, liturgy, & laws were hammered out in Latin; it says what the Church wants to say in exactly the way she wants to say it. However, every translation, even the best, runs the danger of losing the fine shades of meaning of the original. Others may be outright wrong or corrupted - witness the need for our upcoming revised Missal. The Church requires clergy to know Latin. The Church encourages the preservation & cultivation of sacred music, especially Gregorian Chant & polyphonic music, which are in Latin by definition. Shall I go on? As I see it, at some point, it is actually a question of obedience rather than style or preference.
And now, the No. 1 response to those who can't stand Latin...
1. You're right - now that Mass is in English, I sooooo get the Mysteries of God! News flash! YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND. Thank you Father Christian for pointing this out! (see here) People these days seemed trained to be so shallow & impatient in their search for knowledge that things that aren't immediately apparent at face-value are simply bypassed for something more "accessible" or "relevant" or "inculturated" or whatever. Sorry, Amica, that simply isn't possible when approaching God. You have to let go of what you need, to receive instead of do, to learn to dwell in God's time, to be content with God's Mystery. We will never understand; but we are invited in nevertheless, because this is the only way we can be truly happy. And God wants us to be happy.
Now, I could go on & on with all kinds of things I hear all the time... "I didn't understand it then, why would I want it now?" Uh, I think you were 15 years old then. Mostly, Latin is a kind of symbol that people of a certain age & hair color used to rage against in their rebellion against all things ancient, steady, & authoritative - dare I say, things bigger than they were? Or at least their ideas. Well, the Age of Aquarius is glady over, Starflower. And while younger folks may be saddled with a lot of bad catechesis, fortunately they aren't really burdened with the radical baggage of that generation. Many are looking for stability in a rapidly changing world (some might say a world their elders send rolling downhill with a whoop & a kick). Ultimately, whether they know if or not, people are looking for God. The Church has seen age after age dawn, rage, & fade; she knows what people are looking for & how to lead them to it. In the liturgy of the Roman Church, a little Latin does nicely.