Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tolkien: England's Anglo-Saxon Catholic Oracle

Joseph Pearce, who spoke recently at Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit on the subject of Tolkien's novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, argues compellingly that Tolkien's works and the characters in them represent a sort of parallel history of redemption, although he didn't use the word, a parallel 'Gospel,' as it were. He has two books that elaborate this thesis, one on Frodo, the other on Bilbo. Very interesting. I'm struck by how so much in his work reads, in places, like a commentary on our own times:
'What about Rivendell and the Elves? Is Rivendell safe?'

'Yes, at present, until all else is conquered. The Elves may fear the Dark Lord, and they may fly before him, but never again will they listen to him or serve him....

'Indeed there is power in Rivendell to withstand the might of Mordor, for a while: and elsewhere other powers still dwell. There is power, too, of another kind in the Shire. But all such places will soon become islands under siege, if things go on as they are going. The Dark Lord is putting forth all his strength.'
In many ways, Tolkien created the classic Anglo-Saxon Catholic myth, a myth for the English-speaking people, a Catholic myth that has its own truth by representing a parallel to another great 'myth,' the greatest 'myth' of all, the 'myth' which turns out to be true; that is, true history from God's point of view: the Bible.

The world we live in is falling into darkness; and the darkness cannot be understood spiritually without penetrating behind the scrim that divides us from the unseen world of principalities and powers at war in the spiritual world. Tolkien takes us there if we have eyes to see. What he shows us is that there is always hope; but our true hope does not always lie in the world around us and the temporal means at hand. There are powers we haven't the means to resist within ourselves. But there are powers greater than those of Mordor for those with the spiritual discernment to understand this truth.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Donate here (to help a single-mom in need) - 17 more days

Thanks to our most recent doners, who include my sister in Seattle, a former seminary student, a seminary colleague, and a friend from Franciscan University of Steubenville. Your generous gifts toward helping someone in need get reliable transportation to and from her job are most appreciated.

Again, I am humbled by the willingness of people (sometimes complete strangers to me) to reach out to help another complete stranger, especially as I am unable to provide photos, personal information, or tax write-offs. I continue to be in awe of people's large-hearted generosity and trust. Thank you.

The financial need is both genuine and great. If others among our readers are willing to step up, the 'Donate' button below should link directly do the 'Academy Press' account where you may use either Paypal or a credit card to make your donation.

Please give generously.

If you cannot give money, please pray for the success of this fund-raiser; and pray for Tonya and her family.
Thank you!!

"We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III"

Patrick J. Buchanan, "An Establishment in Panic" (WND, October 20, 2016): [published here with some significant omissions]:
Pressed by moderator Chris Wallace as to whether he would accept defeat should Hillary Clinton win the election, Donald Trump replied, “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”

“That’s horrifying,” said Clinton, setting off a chain reaction on the post-debate panels with talking heads falling all over one another in purple-faced anger, outrage and disbelief.

“Disqualifying!” was the cry on Clinton cable.

“Trump Won’t Say If He Will Accept Election Results,” wailed the New York Times. “Trump Won’t Vow to Honor Results,” ran the banner in the Washington Post.

But what do these chattering classes and establishment bulletin boards think the Donald is going to do if he falls short of 270 electoral votes?

Lead a Coxey’s Army on Washington and burn it down as British Gen. Robert Ross did in August 1814, while “Little Jemmy” Madison fled on horseback out the Brookville Road?

What explains the hysteria of the establishment?

In a word, fear.

The establishment is horrified at the Donald’s defiance because, deep within its soul, it fears that the people for whom Trump speaks no longer accept its political legitimacy or moral authority. It may rule and run the country, and may rig the system through mass immigration and a mammoth welfare state so that Middle America is never again able to elect one of its own. But that establishment, disconnected from the people it rules, senses, rightly, that it is unloved and even detested.

Having fixed the future, the establishment finds half of the country looking upon it with the same sullen contempt that our Founding Fathers came to look upon the overlords Parliament sent to rule them.

Establishment panic is traceable to another fear: Its ideology, its political religion, is seen by growing millions as a golden calf, a 20th-century god that has failed.

Trump is “talking down our democracy,” said a shocked Clinton.

After having expunged Christianity from our public life and public square, our establishment installed “democracy” as the new deity, at whose altars we should all worship. And so our schools began to teach.

Half a millennia ago, missionaries and explorers set sail from Spain, England and France to bring Christianity to the New World.

Today, Clintons, Obamas and Bushes send soldiers and secularist tutors to “establish democracy” among the “lesser breeds without the Law.”

Unfortunately, the natives, once democratized, return to their roots and vote for Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, using democratic processes and procedures to re-establish their true God.

And Allah is no democrat.

By suggesting he might not accept the results of a “rigged election” Trump is committing an unpardonable sin. But this new cult, this devotion to a new holy trinity of diversity, democracy and equality, is of recent vintage and has shallow roots.

For none of the three – diversity, equality, democracy – is to be found in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers or the Pledge of Allegiance. In the pledge, we are a republic.

When Ben Franklin, emerging from the Philadelphia convention, was asked by a woman what kind of government they had created, he answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Among many in the silent majority, Clintonian democracy is not an improvement upon the old republic; it is the corruption of it.

Consider: Six months ago, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton bundler, announced that by executive action he would convert 200,000 convicted felons into eligible voters by November.

If that is democracy, many will say, to hell with it.

And if felons decide the electoral votes of Virginia, and Virginia decides who is our next U.S. president, are we obligated to honor that election?

Yet, some of us recall another time, when Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in “Points of Rebellion”:

“We must realize that today’s Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution.”

Baby-boomer radicals loved it, raising their fists in defiance of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

But now that it is the populist-nationalist right that is moving beyond the niceties of liberal democracy to save the America they love, elitist enthusiasm for “revolution” seems more constrained.

What goes around comes around.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Eighteen more days!

No, not until the election! We are in Day Four of a three-week fund raiser for a hard-working African-American single mother-of-two who needs serious help buying a reliable used car to get to and from work.

First, I want to say how humbled (or is 'awed' a better word?) by the generosity of our good readers who have contributed so generously to this worthy cause thus far. Especially so, since we have no tax-exemption status to allow you to claim your donations on your taxes. And ALSO because, in keeping with the wishes of the woman we're trying to help, she understandably wishes not to have her name, photo, or personal details posted on the Internet. Which means that those of you who have already contributed so generously have done so in trust, by trusting me and what I've told you. That is humbling indeed.

Gifts have been coming in from as far away as Ireland! Generous gifts. In denominations of $15, $20, $25, $50, and $100. But we still have a long way to go if we're going to help this good lady buy reliable transportation. She needs our help.

I have never been a master of the "art of the deal," like Trump. I wouldn't know how to sell something to save my life. But when it comes to begging for help for someone else -- that I can do!

Here's how I look at it. Some people, through no fault of their own, find themselves in circumstances that haven't conduced to their financial advantage. I, through no merit of my own, find myself in circumstances that have conduced (at least modestly) to some financial advantage. Don't get me wrong: I'm no Trump. I'm a seminary professor, educated in the tastes of the wealthy gentleman living in a gated community, but with an income that wouldn't allow me to purchase even the gate house. I've never bought a new car in my life. But I have some expendable income. We can afford to dine out sometimes.

So I wonder how God sees us. On the one hand, here's a woman who isn't sitting on her haunches collecting welfare. She's working. She can make ends meet for the most part. But her hours are not quite full-time. She has virtually no money to put towards the purchase of a new pre-owned vehicle. She couldn't possibly afford monthly payments. On the other hand, here I sit in our modest dwelling, but virtually debt-free. We have some savings.

The moral calculus is easy. It's not rocket science. My parents loved the verse: "Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law." (Romans 13:8)

Then there's this, the last part of which one of my sons learned in Latin once: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." (I Corinthians 9:6-7).

Please give generously.

If you cannot give money, please pray for the success of this fund-raiser; and pray for Tonya and her family.
Thank you!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fund-raiser update! Thanks to our latest donors!!

I want to update you on our fund raiser for our sister-in-Christ who needs funds to help buy an operable used automobile to get to and from work. See more details HERE and HERE.

So far, after two days, we have had a total of eight generous donations and two pledges from individuals and families as far away as Ireland. Not all donors give out their addresses, but so far we have donations from: Ireland, Utah, North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, and several of unknown origin. I would like to thank our most recent donors, who include Tim and Karla Dorweiler, Rob Mercantante, Teresa Grindlay, and Danielle Blosser; and two pledges -- one from Daniel Graham Clark and another from Ben Lafayette.

For the convenience of anyone else who would like to help out this friend-in-need, we've placed a donate button right on the bottom of this page.

Remember: Hilarem enim datorem diligit Deus ("God loves a cheerful giver")!!

Please give generously.

If you cannot give money, please pray for the success of this fund-raiser; and pray for Tonya and her family.
Thank you!!

Is it me, or is it getting cold in here ...

Thus spake a reader who emailed me this: Michael J. Kruger, "How my books are being banned at the Society of Biblical Literature" (Cannon Fodder, October 19, 2016). Excerpts:
... Dr. John Kutsko, executive director of the Society of Biblical Literature, has just proposed that InterVarsity Press–one of the largest evangelical presses in the country– be suspended from having a book stall at the annual SBL meeting (starting in 2017).

The reason for this ban is the recent decision by InterVarsity to uphold the biblical view of marriage and to ask their employees to do the same (see IVP clarification on their policy here).

Since I have a current book with IVP Academic, The Question of Canon, and a forthcoming book with them on Christianity in the second century, SBL would effectively be banning my books from the annual meeting. And that would be true for hundreds and hundreds of other IVP authors.

[Hat tip to JM]

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fund-raiser update! Two weeks and five days to go!

I want to update you on our fund raiser for our sister-in-Christ who needs funds to help buy an operable used automobile to get to and from work. See details on how to donate online or by check HERE.

So far, after just one day, we have donations coming in from as far away as Ireland, Utah, North Carolina, and closer to where we live in Michigan. I would like to thank Mick Leahy, Susan Conner, Kenneth McCormick and Joe Martin for their generous donations.

We all know, nevertheless, that even used cars aren't free. I remember when my father brought our family back from Japan on furlough, he bought a very nice used Ford Fairlane for $400. But that was in 1963. This is 2016. Prices have gone up. A decent used car is going to cost several thousand dollars, at least.

So we need you to contribute whatever you can. While large donations are unexpected surprises, modest donations make us just as happy. Hilarem enim datorem diligit Deus! ("God loves a cheerful giver")

Remember, this opportunity will eventually go away, just like those (annoying) campaigns on the classical music station or on public radio. But, unlike those charities, this is a chance to offer real help to a sister-in-Christ who is doing her best to keep body and soul together by keeping her job. Only, in another few weeks, she won't be able to get to work if she doesn't have a car. You can help. Can't you?

You know what I really wish? I wish I could get some of these left-wing friends of mine who talk endlessly about social justice, the evils of racism, and the 'evil' religious right, to put their money where their mouths are and, just once, help support a good African-American woman in need. Like most American blacks, about all she's received from the current administration is a free phone; but that's not going to buy her a car. She needs real help, not token help. And it's not as if she's sitting at home collecting welfare. She's not. She's working. And that's something that any of us should be willing to support.

After a full week passes, I'll give you a break-down on where we stand. I'd love it if we could raise at least $3000. That would make a difference. Of course, I should probably step out in faith, think 'big,' and expect sufficient generosity to buy her a spanking new car!

Give generously!

Thank you!

Liturgy and Beauty: An Essay

Note: What follows is an essay based on a presentation I delivered recently to the Oakland County Latin Mass Association at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills, MI, on October 16, 2016. It is posted here temporarily at the request of some in the audience and for the benefit of anyone else interested in the presentation who could not attend it. The material in it is drawn from research done for a course in aesthetics I used to teach at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, and is distilled here, often with little more than a passing suggestion as to how to 'connect the dots' mentioned; but hopefully it will be sufficiently accessible to tickle the reader's fancy and suggest some fruitful ways of thinking about things like liturgy and beauty.
Liturgy and Beauty
(©All rights reserved)

by Philip Blosser

C. S. Lewis somewhere distinguishes two different attitudes we may entertain while assisting at liturgy: that of the reverent participant, and that of the detached critic. An attitude of reverence typically allows us to be drawn spontaneously into liturgical worship without undue distraction. The attitude of the critic, however, interferes with worshiping God. The critic is seriously hindered from even finding God at Mass.

The German Catholic author and critic, Martin Mosebach, laments that the jarring liturgical innovations of recent decades have been largely responsible for provoking this kind of a critical attitude among the faithful. Today, he says, we ask questions like:
What is absolutely indispensable for genuine liturgy? When are the celebrant’s whims tolerable, and when do they become unacceptable? We have got used to accepting the liturgy on the basis of minimum requirements, whereas the criteria ought to be maximal. And finally, we have started to evaluate liturgy – a monstrous act! We sit in the pews and ask ourselves, was that Holy Mass, or wasn’t it? I go to church to see God and come away like a theatre critic.1
One of the most significant factors behind these unfortunate developments, I would argue, is the loss of what I would call ‘liturgical fittingness” – a fittingness, or aptness, or harmony between the external forms of liturgy and the act of worship these forms are meant to express – a fittingness between the art, architecture, vestments, postures, gestures, and actions involved in the liturgy, on the one hand, and the attitudes of reverence, honor, majesty, and adoration due to God as our sovereign Creator and Savior, on the other. Further, I contend, such fittingness is at the heart of what we traditionally call beauty.

Beauty…. What is ‘beauty’? Building on centuries of earlier reflection on the subject, St. Thomas Aquinas answers this question by first observing that beauty is that which pleases upon being seen (id quod visum placet). Certainly that sounds right. Beauty delights us. It enthralls us. It can elevate our souls and fill us with ineffable longing for that which is eternal.

But if this were all that could be said about beauty, we would have a problem. For, if beauty were no more than that which pleases us, it would be purely subjective. It would amount to saying that what makes something beautiful is the fact that we happen to like it. Certainly there are many who would agree with this view. We see it the philistine relativist who says: “Different strokes for different folks.” But relativism about beauty seems to have been an ingrained prejudice even before the advent of postmodern relativism. For example, we find this view affirmed in the old adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Or in the maxim De gustibus non est disputandum (“There is no disputing about taste”).

But if this were true, it would mean that we couldn’t dispute matters of taste and beauty, which is clearly not true. It would mean that fans of the “recent liturgical unpleasantness” of the last half-century were beyond criticism in their preferences. It would mean, for example, that they couldn’t be criticized for claiming that Marty Haugen’s hymns (I use the term loosely) are every bit as ‘beautiful’ as Palestrina’s motets, simply because they happen to like Marty Haugen’s wares, just as some philistines prefer Twinkies or Hostess Cupcakes to fine French or Italian cuisine. (A good book on recent Catholic hymnody is Thomas Day's Why Catholics Can't Sing: Catholic Culture and the Triumph of Bad Taste [New York: Crossroad, 1990].)

But thankfully St. Thomas doesn’t stop here. He goes on to say that beauty is characterized by three more properties: (1) Integritas – by which he means integrity, wholeness, completeness, perfection, or what we’ll call unity; (2) Claritas – by which he means clarity, splendor, brilliance, radiance, or what we’ll call brightness; and (3) Consonantia – by which he means a certain consonance, harmony, an apt fitting together, or what we’ll call fittingness. (By ‘fittingness’ here we mean not only the harmony between the parts of a work of art, but also the harmony between the work of art and the values it seeks to express, or, in the case of liturgy, the values appropriate to the worship of God.)

Now what is remarkable about these last three characteristics of beauty is that, unlike the first one mentioned by St. Thomas – namely, that which pleases us, or that which we just happen to like – these last three characteristics are objective. They are properties of the object we’re talking about, rather than of our subjective responses. This is what allows us to say that just as truth is the proper object of right knowing, and good is the proper object of right willing, so beauty is the proper object of right admiration. Knowing the truth assumes that we are able to distinguish between reality and illusion, like the difference between what really happened in the Spanish Inquisition and the revisionist falsehoods attributed to it in popular mythology. Willing the good assumes that we are able to distinguish between real and merely apparent goods, like the difference between growing in virtue and growing in popularity. Admiring the beautiful assumes that we are able to distinguish between what deserves to be called beautiful, like Michelangelo’s Pieta, and what doesn’t but merely happens to please us, like Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans.

But how can we know what should be judged beautiful and what shouldn’t? St. Thomas already points us toward the answer by listing three objective characteristics that all beautiful things have: unity, brightness, and fittingness. These suggest that our judgments about beauty needn’t be arbitrary, but can be based on objective qualities that a work of art or music or liturgy may have.

Take fittingness. One of the easiest ways of understanding how fittingness works is through metaphor and simile. “My face was red as a beet.” “He had a voice like a foghorn.” “He has guts.” “This is a ticklish problem.” “This is a dark day in American politics.” “The hours dragged on.” “I felt like a dishrag after that.” “His face clouded over.” “She was wearing a loud perfume.” “Harod is a fox.”

The point of interest here is how our meaning spans the gulf between Harod and the fox, for example. Literally it isn’t true that Harod is a fox. Harod is a person. But figuratively we know what the metaphor means, because Harod is sly and cunning like a fox. So the equation is apt. It fits. It is fitting. The way we see this isn’t through intellectual analysis but through imaginative synthesis. We intuitively grasp the fittingness of the putting these two things together.

We also can illustrate fittingness by matching various nursery rhymes with different ways of walking: For example, “Fee, fi, fo fum” goes together with stomping like a heavy-footed giant, whereas “Hi diddle diddle” goes together with light-footed leaping or prancing. We see the same principle in how we call orange a ‘warm’ color or blue a ‘cool’ color; or in the study that showed that most people associate Shakespeare’s Hamlet with the color purple or burgundy, but almost never with yellow or green;2 or in the remarkable phenomenon synesthesia, first noted by Goethe in the 19th century, who noted that music sometimes produced various color impressions in certain people;3 or the fact that tones a seventh apart are almost always associated with restlessness, while tones an octave apart are associated with rest or tranquility.

In one experiment, people were asked to list corresponding terms under the paired terms ‘ping’ and ‘pong’, and the vast majority came up with the following correlations: light/heavy, small/large; ice cream/warm pea soup; pretty girl/matron; trumpet sound/cello sound; Mozart’s music/Beethoven’s music; Matisse’s paintings/Rembrandt’s paintings.4 Likewise, when asked to compare two lines, one sharp and jagged with another soft and undulating, the terms most often correlated with this lines were ‘restlessness’ and ‘tranquility.’

So what’s going on here? First, to test whether such judgments of ‘fittingness’ are arbitrary or culturally relative, a researcher named C.E. Osgood in the 1960s administered tests to English-speaking Americans, Mexican-Americans in the Southwest, Navajos, and Japanese subjects. He found approximately 90% agreement on comparisons that were considered ‘fitting.’5 Furthermore, there’s plenty of evidence to show that joy and hope are almost universally associated with short upward sloping lines, bright colors, and the major key in music, while sadness and despair are associated with long downward sloping lines, dark shades of gray and black, the minor key in music.

Second, a puzzling feature about such comparisons is what serves as the standard of comparison. For example, when we compare two athletes to see which can run the fastest, no question arises as to the commons standard of comparison, which is obviously speed. But when we ask why most people say that loud is more like large than it is like small, what is the standard of comparison? They’re comparing a sound with a size; and they’re saying one kind of sound is more like (or more fittingly expresses) one size than another. How strange! But what Osgood’s study shows is that several relevant factors emerge, such as potency and activity. Loud is more like large than small with respect to potency; whereas fast is more like hot than cold, and a jagged line is more like restlessness than tranquility, with respect to activity.6

What does this tell us? First of all, it tells us that judgments about beauty can have an objective basis. They can be based on qualities that are found in works of art, music, architecture, liturgy, and so on. In other words, such judgments don’t have to be simply arbitrary. They can reference certain characteristics like unity, brightness, and fittingness found in such works of art.

Second, this also tells us that there are certain objective characteristics in a liturgy that make it beautiful because they are fitting with respect to such qualities as reverence, holiness, majesty, and awe. Church architecture that is fitting to such qualities will exhibit characteristics of permanence, unity and verticality, as Michael Rose has shown.7 Vestments, postures, gestures, and actions will likewise fittingly reflect these qualities. It’s true that soldiers in the field may celebrate Mass with muddied boots in the jungles of Vietnam or in the sand-swept wastes of Afghanistan with nothing more than the hood of a jeep to serve as an altar. But even there, they attempt to salvage whatever bits of beauty and dignity they can: a white altar cloth is laid; the soldiers kneel, etc. The exception thus proves the rule: what is most apt and most fitting for divine worship is clean shoes, clean vestments, and a church with a high altar and incense and a vaulted ceiling that bespeaks transcendence and awe. What is never fitting at Mass is comportment, dress, postures, gestures, music and ambience that bespeak the carefree nonchalance of a beach party. In the presence of our Lord and Savior, our Creator and our King, what is called for is a studied solemnity, reserve, decorum, and postures, gestures, music and ambience befitting transcendence, awe, reverence and honor.

Once I was at St. Josephat for a Monday evening low Mass nearly a decade ago, and there I noticed that one thing I really like about the extraordinary form is that nothing in it distracts us from the focus of the liturgy upon our Lord. On the contrary, everything – each part of the liturgy, every carefully-prescribed gesture of the servers and priest, their ad orientem disposition, their attentiveness and reverence toward the altar and the Tabernacle and crucifix at its center, and even the silence – seem to conspire to draw our attention toward the Lord. Not one gesture by priest or servers draws attention to itself, saying "Here, look at me!" but rather draws attention to what is going on at the altar in this great mystery of Redemption. Even the long reverent silences of the Canon, far from reducing us to passive spectators, conduces to concentrate our attentiveness to what is transpiring, and so to promote – in the truest sense – our active participation in the liturgy. Here is fittingness. Here is beauty, ever ancient, ever new.

  1. Martin Mosebach, The Heresy of Formlessness (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), p. 25. [back]
  2. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art in Action (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), p. 97. [back]
  3. Lawrence E. Marks, “On Colored-Hearing Synesthesia: Cross-modal Translation of Sensory Dimensions,” Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 83, No. 3 (1975), pp. 303-331; Theodore F. Karwoski and H.S. Ogbert, “Color Music” in Psychological Monographs, Vol. 50 (1938), pp. 1-60; M. Collins, “a Case of Synesthesia,” in Journal of General Psychology, Vol. 2 (1929), pp. 12-27; Lorrin A. Riggs and Theodore Karwoski, “Synesthesia,” in British Journal of Psychology, Vol. 25 (1934), pp. 29-41. [back]
  4. Ernst H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (New York: Pantheon Books, 1960), pp. 370-371. My list of terms is taken from the modified schematic based on Gombrich offered by Wolterstorff, Art in Action, p. 97. [back]
  5. “Cross-Cultural Generality of Visual-Verbal Synesthetic Tendencies,” in J.G. Snider and C.E. Osgood, eds, Semantic Differential Technique (Chicago: Aldine, 1969), pp. 561-584. [back]
  6. C.E. Osgood, “Generality of Affective Meaning Systems” in American Psychology, 17 (1962), pp. 19-21; but cf. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art in Action, pp. 108-110, for a critique of Osgood’s psychologistic attempt to explain these patterns, not as direct similarities among the various qualities of reality, but as similarities of affective responses to those qualities. [back]
  7. Michael Rose, “The Three Natural Laws of Catholic Church Architecture,” New Oxford Review (September 2009), pp. 28-34; cf. Michael Rose, Ugly as Sin: Why They Changed Our Churches from Sacred Places to Meeting Spaces and How We can Change Them Back Again (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2001). [back]

Monday, October 17, 2016

Poor black single-mom, a baptized sister in Christ, needs money to buy car to get to work

A good friend of our family (let's call her Tonya), an African-American single mother of two, could easily have gone on welfare. But she was raised under an old-fashioned work ethic and prefers to earn her keep by working at a paying job, such as it is (only part time now). It's the way she chooses to pay the bills and keep body and soul together, God bless her. Those are the same hard-work values she's been teaching her own children.

The trouble is, when you're as far from the celebrated top 1% (super-rich) as she is, it's hard. She's had a number of cars by which she has been getting to and from work, but they keep dying on her. To be honest, when she buys her cars they're usually already on their last legs, so to speak.

For a upwards of a year she's had to depend on someone else to drive her to work, but that option is about to come to an end and she needs to buy a car. In three or four weeks. No bus route is feasible for where she needs to go.

So I'm going out on a limb here and asking for donations. I say "going out on a limb" because I'm not in a position to give you more detailed information about her than I'm providing on this page. Why? It wouldn't be fair to her.

I first tried using a fund-raising website called GoFundMe, but like other sites, they charge a percentage fee and require a photo of the person(s) you're trying to help. But understandably, Tonya doesn't want her picture online. There's just no way. Not going to happen. It would be too embarrassing, she says.

So here's the deal. If our fund-raising drive is successful, and I plan to donate generously myself, what I will do is try to get a photo of Tonya standing beside her new pre-owned vehicle, once she gets it, and then post that online with her thanks.

And as an alternative to a website like GoFundMe, I've decided to use Paypal as the vehicle for soliciting donations (see the 'Donate' button below), which should give you the usual options by which to donate via Paypal -- using credit cards if you don't have a Paypal account.

I set up this Paypal account under the name of 'Academy Press' back when I was involved in a small publishing business on the side in North Carolina, so that's the name you'll most likely see when redirected to the payment page, in addition to my own name (Philip Blosser), depending on whether you pay by Paypal or Credit Card.

We aren't a tax exempt organization, so I'm afraid your donations are not tax deductible, though I can provide you with a receipt if you provide me with your email address.

As another option, if you'd prefer to send a check, please email me [LINK] and I can send you my mailing address. Just put in the SUBJECT LINE of your email the following: 'CAR FUND-RAISER CHARITY.'

This is a limited-time fund-raiser (probably no more than three weeks). And may God bless you as you bless this sister, a sister in Christ, in her need. I will not be taking a percentage of the donations as GoFundMe would. I will forward 100% of what I receive to Tonya with no strings attached.

Please give generously.

If you cannot give money, please pray for the success of this fund-raiser; and pray for Tonya and her family.
Thank you!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tridentine Community News - The Sacristy and Its Arrangement; Chasuble Shapes; TLM Mass schedules

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (October 16, 2016):
October 16, 2016 – Twenty-second Sunday After Pentecost

The Sacristy and Its Arrangement

A church’s sacristy might seem to be a place of mystery to many Catholics. Relatively few have reason to venture into a sacristy, and those who do generally have a purpose in mind, usually talking to the priest. Indeed, the sacristy is typically the domain of the altar servers, sacristans, and those in charge of laundering the altar linens. Let’s take a look around and see what’s typically in there.

The accompanying diagram from Fr. William O’Brien’s book, In Sacristy and Sanctuary, depicts many of the [numbered] key objects found in a typical sacristy: 1) The sink, not to be confused with 3) the sacrárium, a special sink which drains into the ground rather than the sewer. The sacrárium is used to dispose of Holy Water, excess Precious Blood, water in which dropped Hosts have been dissolved, and in general any liquid which has been blessed. 2) The sacristy table contains drawers for altar linens, certain types of vestments and vestment parts (stoles, maniples) that can be stored flat, and supplies of all sorts. Older churches may have one or more framed prayer cards above the table, containing Vesting Prayers and Prayers Before and After Mass. Above the sink in older churches is often found the Prayer Before Washing Hands. All of these prayers are in Latin and are said by the celebrant while vesting before a Tridentine Mass. In newer churches they are provided on portable, framed cards.

5) The incense cabinet, containing the thurible, charcoal, incense, matches, the incense boat, and related supplies.

6) The safe, containing the cibória (containers for the Hosts), chalices, monstrance, reliquaries, and related precious metallic objects.

Vestments and altar servers’ cassocks and surplices are stored in closets, sometimes in a separate sacristy room on the other side of the sanctuary (the “work sacristy”, meant for servers, as opposed to the main “priest’s sacristy”).

There is always a Crucifix in the sacristy, meant as a focal point for prayer. Before Mass, the servers and celebrant all face the Crucifix while the priest says, “Procedámus in pace.” [Let us go in peace], to which the servers respond, “In Nómine Christi. Amen.” [In the Name of Christ. Amen.] After Mass, all bow to the Crucifix and say “Deo grátias.” [Thanks be to God], then the servers kneel and ask for the celebrant’s blessing, saying, “Jube, domne benedícere.” [Your blessing, Father.]

You are welcome to come explore the sacristy after Mass; please ask one of the altar servers to give you a tour.

Chasuble Shapes

The chasuble is the large outer vestment that the celebrant wears during Mass. There are three principal kinds of chasubles:

1) The Roman or “fiddleback” chasuble, so named because it is the regional norm in Rome and has a front side shaped like a cello, or fiddle [Shouldn’t it be “fiddlefront”?]. The back side is squared off. These days, most Tridentine Mass sites employ fiddleback chasubles, as their level of artistic design is typically more expressive and elaborate.

2) The Gothic chasuble is the type most commonly seen nowadays at Ordinary Form Masses. They are robe-like, longer in the front and back, and shorter on the sides for the arms.

3) The rarely seen Conical chasubles are circular pieces of fabric with a hole in the center for the head to go through. They are most commonly used in monasteries.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 10/17 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin)
  • Tue. 10/18 7:00 PM: High Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (St. Luke the Evangelist)
  • Sat. 10/22 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (Saturday of Our Lady)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Albertus (Detroit), Academy of the Sacred Heart (Bloomfield Hills), and St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches (Windsor) bulletin inserts for October 16, 2016. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Collusion of National Catholic Reporter with Wikileaks-exposed anti-Catholic agenda organized by Podesta

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, "Fishwrap rots from the head down" (Fr. Z's Blog, October 14, 2016):
I am sure that by now you have heard about how the anti-Catholic Clinton campaign’s anti-Catholic manager John Podesta helped foment dissent in the Church and revolt by establishing anti-Catholic, catholic organizations. HERE Undermine the Church as a moral force, push her to squander her moral capital by getting her pastors to water down Catholic teaching and you remove an obstacle to garnering by hook or crook more votes for dem candidates. It’s a tried and true method. I saw today an interesting email released by Wikileaks about Podesta’s efforts, through one of his minions. HERE It mentions some interesting catholic entities. Read the whole thing. Take note of the prominent role of the Fishwrap and Commonwelt.

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week



  • Mon. 10/17 7:30 AM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque - 3rd class)
  • Sun. 10/16 7:30 AM and 10:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 45 minutes before and after Masses) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (22nd Sunday after Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/16 8:00 and 10:30AM Low Mass (Confessions 1/2 hour before Mass: call beforehand) at St. Ann's Church, Livonia [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (22nd Sunday after Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Mon. 10/17 8:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 10/17 12:00 Noon: High Tridentine Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 10/17 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat, Detroit (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 10/17 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 10/17 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph's Church, Detroit (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque - 3rd class)



  • Wed. 10/19 7:30 AM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (St. Peter of Alcantara - 3rd class, or [Canada] North American Martyrs - 2nd class)
  • Wed. 10/19 8:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (St. Peter of Alcantara - 3rd class, or [Canada] North American Martyrs - 2nd class)
  • Wed. 10/19 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (St. Peter of Alcantara - 3rd class, or [Canada] North American Martyrs - 2nd class)



  • Fri. 10/21 7:30 AM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (Feria - 4th class, or St. Hilarion - 4th class, or Sts. Ursula & Companions - 4th class)
  • Fri. 10/21 8:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM) at a href="!schedule/c24jx">St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (Feria - 4th class, or St. Hilarion - 4th class, or Sts. Ursula & Companions - 4th class)
  • Fri. 10/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat, Detroit (Feria - 4th class, or St. Hilarion - 4th class, or Sts. Ursula & Companions - 4th class)
  • Fri. 10/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass (usually) at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (Feria - 4th class, or St. Hilarion - 4th class, or Sts. Ursula & Companions - 4th class)
  • Fri. 10/21 7:00 PM: High Mass (periodically) at St. Joseph's Church, Detroit (Feria - 4th class, or St. Hilarion - 4th class, or Sts. Ursula & Companions - 4th class)



  • Sun. 10/23 7:30 AM and 10:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 45 minutes before and after Masses) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 8:00 and 10:30AM Low Mass (Confessions 1/2 hour before Mass: call beforehand) at St. Ann's Church, Livonia [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 9:30 AM: High Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 9:45 AM: High Mass at OCLMA/Academy of the Sacred Heart, Bloomfield Hills (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 [occasional Tridentine Masses: contact parish] at Our Lady of the Scapular Parish (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 12:00 Noon: Solemn High Mass at St. Joseph, Detroit (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Tue. 10/23 2:00 PM: High Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Canada (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 3:00 PM: Low Mass (call ahead for Confession times, 989-892-5936) at Infant of Prague, Bay City [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
  • Sun. 10/23 3:00 PM High Mass St. Matthew Catholic Church, Flint (23rd Sunday afte Pentecost - 2nd class)
* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins." These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites. Also please note that St. Joseph's SSPX Chapel in Richmond has moved to Ray Township, at 57575 Romeo Plank Rd., Ray Twp., MI 48096.

How Amoris Laetitia is balkanizing the Church

Sandro Magister, "In Rome Yes, In Florence No. Here's How 'Amoris Laetitia' Is Dividing the Church" (www.chieza, October 14, 2016): "In the pope’s diocese, the divorced and remarried can receive communion, in other Italian dioceses no. Because every bishop is deciding as he wishes. A manual by Cardinal Antonelli for confessors who want to remain faithful to perennial doctrine."

Meanwhile Cardinal-designate Kevin Farrell says that "Amoris Laetitia is 'the Holy Spirit speaking'" (National Catholic Reporter, October 14, 2016). Go figure.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bizarre: In Hacked Email, Trump Blackballed by Powerful Secret Society with Occult Ties

Colin Powell's hacked emails, according to David Bixenspan (LawNewz), "relate to his experiences attending the secretive, shadowy Bohemian Grove encampment this past July. Bohemian Grove was described in a 2011 Washington Post article by Elizabeth Flock as a gathering of “some of the richest and most powerful men in the world gather at a 2,700 acre campground in Monte Rio, Calif., for two weeks of heavy drinking, super-secret talks, druid worship, ... and other rituals.” Only one of these rituals, shot by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones exists on video.

The hacked email, sent by Powell to former Canadian Attorney General Peter MacKay on July 24th, reveals Powell talking about how the Bohemian Grove attendees are planning to vote in the upcoming presidential election. (See the above-linked David Bixenspan article for the contents of the email.)

According to Michael Matt, who recently commented on this email, "The theoretical end game of the (Bohemian Grove) retreat is 'to escape the "frontier culture," or uncivilized interests, of common men.' Members and guests reportedly included former Vice President Dick Cheney, Walter Cronkite, Clint Eastwood, and most Republican presidents since Dwight Eisenhower. So it's no surprise that Powell is on their list of elites, but what is surprising is how willing he is to dish on the meetings."

My comment: If this is what the Republican ruling elites do in private gatherings, can one can hardly imagine what their Democrat counterparts do.

Argument of the Month Club debates Catholic views on Trump

Argument of the Month in their Octoberfest Smoker (smokin' pork, smokin' cigars, and smokin' debate) saw Alan Keyes square off with Chris Ferrara on October 11th debating the question: "Must Catholics Be Never Trumpers?" Keyes for the affirmative; Ferrara for the negative. Not online yet, but it should be interesting. I would love to have been there. Both of these guys are pretty sharp.