Friday, May 31, 2013

Why Hollywood really nixed "Behind the Candelabra"

Why would supporters of "gay rights" and "same sex marriage" consider this movie, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, "too gay"?

Michael Voris suggests that it's because Hollywood intuitively realizes that while many Americans are comfortable with the language of "gay rights" and "marriage equality," some 97% of Americans would be repelled by actual scenes of "gay" sex.

And here's some supporting material for anyone brazen enough to have a look: "What homosexuals do" (Musings, June 26, 2006). NB: Advisory: explicit content from the Family Research Institute's Medical Consequences of What Homosexuals Do (1992).

AD of NY: abortion & sodomy promoting fornicator/governor = RC "in good standing"?

I avoid naming names, because it's pointless: this is no longer unique to any particular diocese, even if the Archdiocese of New York has been in the spotlight lately.

What's happening here? A peculiar allergy to standing by unpopular Church teachings? a classic exhibition of feet of clay? spines of jello? Pray for our Church leaders. If they spend more time on their knees and pondering God's Word, they may be less impressionable by the grandstanding politicians surrounding them; more concerned with pleasing God than men, filled with the fear of God and less fear of crouching tigers and hidden drag queens.

More of the same from Michael "Jeremiah" Voris doing what he does best: offending all of us with the inconvenient truth, about what he now regularly (and perhaps appropriately?) refers to as "The Church of Nice" or, more interestingly, the "American Patriotic Church" (after the "Chinese Patriotic Church," which, in contrast to the Chinese "Underground Church," accepts state-appointed bishops and goes along to get along with anything that comes down the administrative pipeline from Beijing).

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Catholic dioceses pay for contraception, abortion, sterilization?

In the latest example of discrepancy between word and deed, news broke this past weekend that the Archdiocese of New York is actually paying for some of their employees' birth control, abortions, and sterilizations through a union-negotiated health insurance contract signed years ago.

How do you think this looks to the watching world? Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York has been the front guy, carrying the RC torch and leading the charge against President Obama's HHS Mandate, demanding that it not force the Church to pay for such evils; and in the meantime, it already is!

Forget theology and morality for a moment. Perception matters. Think about this just in terms if "market image." Does this look smart? Does this look like integrity? Does this look like moral high ground? What word comes to mind? "Stupid" may be charitable; but it's much more serious than that, I'm afraid.

If even the normally left-wing U.S. media have been willing to criticize President Obama over the scandals currently rocking the its administration -- the Benghazi cover-up, the IRS crimes, the Department of Justice debacle -- how can the RC media be expected to give the Church a free pass on its contradictions, dissemblings, and looming hypocracies? Why didn't those who knew about these long-standing problems correct them? At the very least, why didn't they immediately come clean and admit them?

Hard questions, I know, though the answers are surprisingly simple. It's just that nobody wishes to face the consequences. Everyone is too deeply invested in the collective corruption to want to go out on a limb for a little word called "truth." What would Jesus say? What would Jesus do?

Here is Michael "Jeremiah" Voris doing what he does best: offending all of us with the inconvenient truth:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Extraordinary Community News

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

Tridentine Community News (May 26, 2013):
Composer Profile: William Byrd

This week we begin an occasional series profiling the major composers of sacred music often heard at Extraordinary Form Masses. William Byrd was an Englishman who lived from 1539-1623. Like many of history’s greatest composers, Byrd began composing his oeuvre in his teenage years. At the age of 24 he was appointed organist and choir director at [the Anglican] Lincoln Cathedral.

Anglicans have long had a tradition of singing the Hours from the Anglican Breviary. Befitting his position in Lincoln, Byrd wrote settings of the Anglican Matins and Evensong services.

An accomplished keyboard player as well as a composer, Byrd in 1572 was appointed to the Chapel Royal, where he was able to play for Queen Elizabeth and make connections that expanded his reputation.

He and another prolific composer of the era, Thomas Tallis, jointly applied for and in 1575 were granted a patent on the printing of music. Their first work, Cantiónes quæ ab arguménto sacræ vocántur, published in 1575, consisted of 17 Latin motets each by Byrd and Tallis, dedicated to the 34 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. In 1589 and 1591, Byrd published two volumes of Cantiónes sacræ, a collection of motets, which are choral pieces of a sacred character.

Though we may think of Byrd as primarily a composer of sacred music, in reality he turned out many secular pieces as well, notably a 1588 collection of songs meant to be accompanied by a consort of instruments, and a 1589 set of songs in the style of madrigals, which are musical settings of poems. Interestingly, even these purportedly secular works incorporated sacred elements. The latter collection included settings of seven psalms, for example. It is a sobering comment on our present times that even “popular” music of Byrd’s era strove to elevate the mind to God.

Byrd also composed instrumental pieces, some for keyboard, and some for instrumental consorts. People he met through his post at the Chapel Royal drove the creation of many of these pieces.

Though an Anglican by upbringing, in the 1570s Byrd began to associate with Catholics. Among the approximately 50 motets he wrote, a recurring theme in the texts chosen was persecution of God’s chosen people, which scholars interpret to be a sign of Byrd’s sympathies towards those who continued to practice Roman Catholicism in post-Reformation England. He and his wife were themselves accused of being recusants, though they appeared not to have suffered much if at all for their attachment to the True Faith.

Byrd began to compose Mass settings in 1592. In 1605 he published the first volume of his Graduália, an effort to set the Propers of the Mass to polyphony. As we wrote in a recent column, while Propers are sung to Gregorian Chant most of the time, it is permissible to have polyphonic settings of them. Byrd wrote settings for the Propers of most of the major feasts of the Church year. This made it possible for a given Mass to be all-Byrd, both the Propers and the Ordinary [Mass setting]. Much has been written about the melodic and harmonic significance of Byrd’s compositions. Such discussions are beyond the scope of this column, but for those interested, plentiful analyses are available in scholarly publications and on-line. Byrd was extraordinarily prolific, with a body of approximately 470 compositions. As a testimony to how much can be drawn from his work, each summer, one of the world’s most renowned Latin Mass choirs, Portland, Oregon’s Cantóres in Ecclésia, organizes a William Byrd Festival, a multi-week event of concerts, liturgical services, and lectures. To see what was on offer in 2012, see their web site,

Nowadays Byrd is held in esteem by both Catholics and Anglicans. This is an important lesson; there is no need to label disparagingly certain music as Protestant if the texts express concepts not antithetical to Catholic teaching. An analogy might be found in stained glass: If a beautiful stained glass depiction of a saint is found in an Anglican church, it is not “bad art” simply because it may have been commissioned for a Protestant edifice. Art meant to glorify God in an orthodox fashion is good art, period. This is one area in which Protestants and Catholics can agree to their mutual benefit and spiritual edification.

Some of the works of William Byrd are in the regular repertoire of Assumption’s Tridentine Mass Choir, most significantly his Ave Verum Corpus (Hail True Body), often referred to simply as Ave Verum. Byrd’s Mass for Three Voices (arrangements available for Soprano-Tenor-Bass, Alto-Tenor-Bass, or Soprano-Alto-Bass), Mass for Four Voices (Soprano-Alto-Tenor-Bass), and Mass for Five Voices (Soprano-Alto-Tenor-Tenor-Bass) are also performed several times per year.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 05/27 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Bede the Venerable, Confessor & Doctor)
  • Tue. 05/28 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop & Confessor)
  • Fri. 05/31 7:00 PM: High Mass at Basilica of St. Adalbert, Grand Rapids, Michigan (Queenship of Mary)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for May 26, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Haven't the sordid claims about Obama's Chicagoland "gay life" been discredited?

Snopes has nothing on this. Why?

Again, I would have expected Snopes to be all over this. What's a citizen supposed to think? If a claim is just too indecent to be taken seriously in polite company, it can't be true? Giving any consideration to such claims is the obsession of pathologically prurient minds, so we shouldn't trouble ourselves with them? This stuff just doesn't matter when it comes to serious matters of state? The deeper you dig, the more it stinks.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

How shall a Catholic in exile then live?

This powerful post by Boniface, in "The Flame of Endurance" (Unam Sanctam Catholicam, April 9, 2013), addresses the question how a Catholic informed by the traditions of the Church may endure amidst the pervasive apostasy, razed bastions, stripped altars, bare ruined choirs, historical oblivion and contempt for tradition that marks our time (the added emphasis in Boniface's text below is mine, and my commentary follows at the end of his article):

I have a certain acquaintance from a few years back who was raised Protestant. He gradually came to see recognize the claims of the Catholic Church through independent study and was convinced that he needed to enter the Church. He knew very much about the "academic" part of Catholicism; that is, he could offer all the arguments in favor of the Church's claims, knew a lot about her history, and could explain Catholic theology better than most Catholics. He was willing to cross any river or burn any bridge necessary to come home to Rome. When he understood that Latin was the official language of the Catholic Church, he went off an enrolled in a two-year course in Latin to learn the language of his beloved. I was particularly moved by this; how many people, if confronted with a Church speaking a foreign language, would demand that the Church change rather than they change? But this individual's attitude was, "Well, if the Church of Christ speaks Latin, I'd better learn Latin." If only more people took this approach...

Unfortunately, the Church he studied his way into, the Church he fell in love with, in fact did not exist. He spent two years studying Latin because he thought Latin was the language of the Church - and in a technical sense it certainly is - but my friend gradually became saddened as he realized that Latin had been all but banished from Catholic liturgical usage.

The intellectual arguments he learned in defense of papal authority lost their edge as he witnessed the popes apparent embarrassment at the traditional teaching, and their subsequent consistent refusal to exercise the power that they spent centuries previously insisting upon. The boldness that characterized Gregory VII's interactions with Henry IV or Innocent III's dealing with King John had fled, or been banished, from the Vatican. The Church had insisted for centuries that it wielded a sword of spiritual power bequeathed to it by Christ - why now did it refuse to wield the sword that God gave it?

He was saddened and confused that the simple yet powerfully eloquent teachings of the saints found no parallels in modern writing or preaching, and could not understand why the beautiful structures that were the glory of Christendom were being replaced and in many cases destroyed in favor of ugly modern structures constructed on secular humanist principles. Most of all, he was distraught that the Church that had produced so many martyrs, who had suffered death in defense of the purity of the faith, was now no longer proclaiming the uniqueness of that Faith in undiluted purity, but seemed intent upon affirming non-Catholics where they were, implying to them that their own religious traditions were also salvific, and that there was really no need for formal union with the Catholic Church.

The fact that the above mention demolition of the traditions of the Church was not happening externally but was being aided and abetted by the Princes of the Church and the successors of the Apostles was especially devastating. He realized that the Church today is very weak, weak because it chooses to be. Weak because it will not clearly proclaim the message entrusted to it by Christ, weak because its people and prelates do not seek holiness, weak because the Church refuses to take up the weapons and armor our Lord left with it and instead tries to muddle through on its own.

I caught up with this acquaintance a few weeks ago. I honestly expected him to be the sort of person who would have gone over to the SSPX, but surprisingly enough he told me he was attending a standard Novus Ordo parish. We talked about the Church and the future of Christianity and what one could concretely "do" about the problems we are facing. He said that the Church ultimately belongs to Christ, and its destiny is in His hands, but when I asked him what he thought we should be doing to help restore our Faith, he said that years of anger and given way to a more peaceable reflection and realization that the only thing that would restore the Faith, the only thing that has ever restored the Faith, is saints. We need saints. "I am quietly striving for sanctity" he told me, "in my own way, taking the saints and the fathers as my guides, and in many respects, pretending like the current crisis is not happening."

Why so much confusion about Pope Francis?

Boniface offers a lament, in "Bergoglio contradicts pundits account" (Unam Santam Catholicam, April 22, 1013): "Why is there so much disinformation about Pope Francis' past as Cardinal Bergolgio? I ask this not coming from any perspective, but just from the view of a layman who is trying to figure out what sort of individual our new pope is."

Boniface refers to a number controversies about Pope Francis that continue to circulate in the media and blogsville, such as whether Summorom Pontificum was implemented by Bergoglio in his diocese of Buenos Aires, whether he banished Cardinal Law, and whether he refused the mozzetta and told Cardinal Marini, "You put it on; this carnival is over." But it's clear that the main focus of his post here is whether or not he allowed a Protestant minister to "bless" him in an ecumenical prayer gathering or whether it was Fr. Cantalamessa who blessed him. I offer the details merely to illustrate the depth of the confusion and contradictions still circulating around the Holy Father. Boniface writes:
When Pope Francis was first elected, this picture was circulated around the Internet, suggesting that he had participated in an ecumenical prayer gathering and allowed himself to be "blessed" by a Protestant minister. The Remnant, as well as some more mainstream blogs, chimed in and stated that Bergoglio was not in fact blessed by a Protestant minister; what really happened, they said, was that Bergoglio knelt down to receive a blessing from Fr. Cantalamessa when the Protestant minister stepped in to add his 'two cents' and blessed Cardinal Bergoglio without his explicit knowledge or permission. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Now we have Pope Francis in his own words contradicting the revisionist version of the story. With the appearance of Bergoglio's 2010 book On Heaven and Earthcontains his own account of the event, which he discusses in the context of speaking about undue "rigidity":
At another stage, Francis warns of the dangers of “rigid religiosity” and “fundamentalism.”

“This type of rigid religiosity is disguised with doctrines that claim to give justifications, but in reality deprive people of their freedom and do not allow them to grow as persons,” he says. “A large number end up living a double life.”

Francis acknowledges that he’s felt the sting of that rigidity himself, especially in criticism of his pastoral style over the years.

He describes once attending an ecumenical service in Argentina that brought 7,000 Evangelicals and Catholics together, where the Evangelical pastor asked if it would be okay for everyone to pray for him.

Francis says he knelt down to receive the blessing (among other things, anticipating his now-famous gesture the evening of his election to the papacy,) and the next week a traditionalist magazine carried the shot under the headline, “Buenos Aires sede vacante: Archbishop commits the sin of apostasy.”
So, Bergoglio knelt down to receive a blessing from Cantalamessa and the Protestant stepped in to add his own 'two cents', unbeknownst to the Cardinal? According to Bergoglio himself, it was the Protestant who asked him if he could receive a blessing, and Bergolgio knelt before the Protestant with full knowledge of what the Protestant minister was doing.

Thus, Bergoglio himself, in his 2010 book, contradicts the accounts of the pundits who were offering the Cantalamessa excuse to explain away the event.

It is not my point here to comment upon the propriety of Bergoglio doing this. My point is to ask why is there so much misinformation about this pontiff? It is not that two sides are disagreeing on the meaning of the facts; it is tremendously difficult to get a straight answer on what the facts are. Why is it so hard to get the facts? Why so much misinformation, and who is behind it? Even his daily homilies are only being reported anecdotally, with out the published text.

I am not in any way blaming Pope Francis for any of these ambiguities. I am voicing my frustration that well-meaning Catholics who simply want to know what kind of man the pope is cannot get straight information. This is tremendously frustrating, and I suspect the answer is that a certain group of people have a vested interest in putting a particular spin on things. Strange times, indeed.
Boniface's answer to his own question is the most obvious and easy one. I suspect that there are other, more difficult answers possible, some of which may be forthcoming in comments to his (as well as this) post. Regardless, his lament is genuine, and I suspect others may well empathize.

"Strange times, indeed," he writes. And in response to the trials of living in such times, he also offers a quite profound prescription, in "The Flame of Endurance" (April 9, 2013), concerning which we shall offer a subsequent post momentarily.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Media freaks, Catholics smile: Pope Francis, EXORCIST???

Whether it was a blessing or a minor exorcism, the tabloid world now has even the mainstream media all a-flutter over the possibility that their "progressive" Pope genuinely believes in -- Gasp! -- THE DEVIL, and has been known to perform -- (passing out) -- EXORCISMS!

Harry Haydon, "Exorcism? Pope Francis caught on video performing strange ritual on fan" (The Sun, May 21, 2013).

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Update 5/31/2013: Confirmed: Man Pope Francis prayed over possessed by demons (Rorate Caeli, May 31, 2013):
A 43-year-old Mexican man whom Pope Francis prayed over in St. Peter’s Square on Pentecost Sunday said that he had suffered from demonic possession for more than a decade.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Extraordinary community news

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

Tridentine Community News (May 19, 2013):
Simplified Chants for the Propers: The Chants Abrégés

It has long been assumed that there are only two options for a cantor or choir to chant the Propers for Holy Mass: Either one sings the “full” version of the Propers as found in the Liber Usuális or the Graduále Románum, the official books of chant; or one sings the more simple – and quicker – Psalm Tone versions.

In reality there are two other options: On the side of elaboration, a choir could consider singing one of the [relatively few] polyphonic versions of the Propers. On rare occasions, such as for certain chants on Good Friday, Assumption’s choir employs some polyphonic Propers.

Another interesting option is to sing the official simplified chants as published by the Monks of Solesmes, the monastery charged by the Vatican to maintain the Church’s official books of Gregorian Chant. Originally published in 1926 as Chants Abrégés and republished in 1955 as Graduels, Versets de L’Alleluia et Traits, this book offers a simpler and shorter version of the chants than found in the Liber. Both the old and new editions are downloadable from

Congratulations Fr. Peter on 30 Years a Priest

Next Sunday, May 26, Fr. Peter Hrytsyk will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of his ordination to the Sacred Priesthood. He will celebrate a Solemn High Mass with Deacon and Subdeacon at Windsor’s Assumption Church at 2:00 PM. A reception will follow Holy Mass in the Social Hall.

Assumption’s Tridentine Mass Choir will sing a special program of multi-part music, with several guest singers. The Mass setting will be Claudio Monteverdi’s Missa In Illo Témpore, and the Communion Motet will be Morten Lauridsen’s Ave María.

Latin Mass Conferences in June and July

A reminder about three upcoming conferences of interest that will be taking place during the next two months:

The Church Music Association of America’s annual Sacred Music Colloquium will be held at Salt Lake City, Utah’s Cathedral of the Madeleine June 17-23. This is the world’s fastest growing conference on traditional sacred music. Over 300 musicians of all experience levels are expected. The week is designed as an intensive experience in learning chant and polyphonic singing for both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of Holy Mass. Many of the world’s leading experts in sacred music, including Corpus Christi Watershed’s Jeff Ostrowski, St. Louis Cathedral’s Horst Buchholz, and our own Wassim Sarweh (pictured right) will be leading seminars. Further information is available on the Events page of

Sacra Liturgia 2013 will be held in Rome June 25-28. Organized by liturgical scholar Dr. Alcuin Reid, Sacra Liturgia brings together perhaps the largest gathering of prominent speakers in the Latin Mass world ever assembled, including Bishop Dominique Rey, Bishop Peter Elliott, Fr. Uwe-Michael Lang, Fr. Nicola Bux, and recently appointed director of the Vatican’s Office for Sacred Architecture and Music, Abbot Michael Zielinski. Further information is at

The annual Fota Conference on the Sacred Liturgy will be held in Cork, Ireland July 6-8. Its theme this year will be a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosánctum Concílium. Talks will be held at the Clarion Hotel in Cork, and liturgies will be celebrated at the nearby Ss. Peter & Paul Church. walk-in registrations are welcome.

None of these conferences concerns themselves exclusively with the Extraordinary Form, but the EF plays a central role at all three. Detroit and Windsor’s Tridentine Mass Communities have historically been well represented at conventions such as these, where likeminded individuals from across the globe congregate. Not only is there the chance to meet and exchange ideas with renowned figures from the Latin Mass and Sacred Music worlds, but one can also experience exemplary liturgies that inspire us to do better back here at home. Some big names are making the rounds:

CMAA leader Jeffrey Tucker will be speaking in Rome after his own conference ends. Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon, formerly Bishop of Marquette, Michigan will also be speaking at both Salt Lake City and Rome. Raymond Cardinal Burke will be speaking at both Rome and Cork.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 05/20 6:30 AM: Low Mass at Old St. Patrick, Ann Arbor (Pentecost Monday)
  • Mon. 05/20 5:00 PM: Mass at St. Mary, Westphalia, MI (Pentecost Monday)
  • Mon. 05/20 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Pentecost Monday)
  • Tue. 05/21 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Old St. Patrick, Ann Arbor (Pentecost Tuesday)
  • Tue. 05/21 7:00 PM: High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Pentecost Tuesday)
  • Wed. 05/22 6:30 AM: Low Mass at Old St. Patrick, Ann Arbor (Pentecost Wednesday)
  • Thu. 05/23 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Old St. Patrick, Ann Arbor (Pentecost Thursday)
  • Fri. 05/24 6:30 AM: Low Mass at Old St. Patrick, Ann Arbor (Pentecost Friday)
  • Thu. 05/23 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Old St. Patrick, Ann Arbor (Pentecost Saturday)
  • Sat. 05/25 4:30 PM: High Mass at Ss. Peter & Paul (west side) (Trinity Sunday [anticipated])
  • Sun. 05/26 Noon: High Mass at St. Albertus (Trinity Sunday)
  • Sun. 05/26 2:00 PM: Solemn High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Trinity Sunday)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for May 192013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

The primrose path to fascism: chilling

Do any of you remember the book of Naomi Wolf wrote in 2007, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot?

Written during the George W. Bush era, the book was provoked by the remarks of a Jewish holocaust survivor who kept repeating, "They did this in Germany," every time she heard about a new policy (such as the Patriot Act) invoked by the Bush administration restricting freedoms in the name of national security.

Accordingly, the book takes an historical look at the rise of fascism, outlining 10 steps necessary for a fascist group (or government) to destroy the democratic character of a nation-state and subvert the social/political liberty previously exercised by its citizens:
  1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
  2. Create secret prisons where torture takes place
  3. Develop a thug caste or paramilitary force not answerable to citizens
  4. Set up an internal surveillance system
  5. Harass citizens' groups
  6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
  7. Target key individuals
  8. Control the press
  9. Treat all political dissidents as traitors
  10. Suspend the rule of law
In 2008 Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern made a documentary film based on Wolf's book. If you're up to it and have the time, maybe it would find it interesting: The End of America: The Movie (2008; from Saadaal Wacan, posted 2012).

The really interesting question, I think, is how normal the things now seem that initially alarmed Wolf and her Jewish friend, as well as how apathetically our nation now seems willing to accept the previously "unthinkable" realities that have just come to light in the most recent scandals involving the current Obama administration. Just the tip of the iceberg.

Related: (Wolf's ongoing posts available here)

Received your Obamacare Pharmacy Discount cards yet?

I just did. Unsolicited. The card had no personal information on it, but promised significant discounts at all major pharmacies.

Those of us who know there is no such thing as a "free lunch" are bound to be curious. I visited our friend Google, and turned up this: Michael Todd, "Are Those Healthcare Alliance Cards You Got in the Mail a Scam?" (Pacific Standard, March 29, 2013).

Friday, May 17, 2013

Know-nothing, sideline-observer, passerby president ...

... supposedly. But this is unbelievable in a president for whom everything is political, every conceivable event is a political move in a zero-sum high-stakes political game.

What happened to the non-political dimensions of life? Surely life is more than politics -- work, study, art and leisure, Mass, play, movies, reading, afternoon tea, an evening with friends at the pub ...

What happened to truth, for crying out loud, the first casualty of an administration that reduces everything, including tax collecting, to politics and media spin?

Has any other administration so egregiously placed politics ahead of truth, ahead of justice, ahead of national security, ahead of the personal security and lives of its own embassy officials, ahead of non-partisan treatment by the IRS?

Even foul-mouthed agitprop comedian Jon Stewart apparently sees a problem with the administration now:

Scandals, scandals everywhere! And what's a Dem to think?!

[Hat tip to M.D.]

Catholic samurai rebels of 17th-century Japan

In the latest Latin Mass magazine, an article by the ever-informative Prof. Anne Barbeau Gardiner called to my attention that in 1962 Nagisa Ôshima directed a film called, in English, "Shiro Amakusa, the Christian Rebel," about the leader of the Shimabara uprising of 37,000 Christians in Japan (1637-38) against the Tokugawa Shogunate. The shogun eventually had to send a force of over 125,000 troops to suppress the rebellion, after learning that it wasn't a rag-tag army of peasants but a well-trained and armed rebellion led by Amakusa. At the heroic showdown at Hara Castle (in the southwestern Kyushu province of Hinzen), which was occupied by the rebels, the uprising was finally crushed, but only after a siege of several months in which the rebels were starved, yet inflicted huge losses (8,000-13,000) on the shogun's army. The result was a policy of "absolute seclusion" of Japan for over two centuries, and Christians were put to death by the thousands or were forced to apostatize.

I couldn't find a copy of the movie anywhere. But in my research online, I found that a short film on a similar topic was made in 2007 that I hadn't noticed, starring Shin Koyamada, who played alongside Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, but even more remarkably disclosed his own Catholic roots among the "kakure kirishitan" (Christians in hiding) who had suffered persecution in the Shimabara rebellion. In this movie, Koyamada plays Masuda Jinbei (the FATHER of Shiro Amakusa, and a samurai who dared to challenge the ideology of the warrior class, follow his personal beliefs, and face what was considered back then to be social suicide). In the linked article interviewing Koyamada below, he talks about the personal meaning the role had for him in this movie, entitled "Good Soil" (2007). Here's a trailer:

Dr. Craig Reid, "GOOD SOIL: LAST SAMURAI to First Christian Samurai" (Kungfu Magazine):
GOOD SOIL is a groundbreaking film about the first samurai warrior who refused to give up his allegiance to Christianity and blindly accept the Shogun as his master. To the film's star, Shin Koyamada, who plays Masuda Jinbei (a samurai who dared to challenge the ideology of the warrior class, follow his personal beliefs, and face what was considered back then to be social suicide), the role had personal significance.

"I was interested in this film because it's a samurai film that portrays true historical events of Japan, stuff we don't have many opportunities to learn school," Koyamada told, "and even though there is this history of Christianity, we don't talk about it in school, just like we don't talk about in Japan what we did to China (during World War II). They try not to reveal that past but want to focus on the future. But learning one's own roots and identity are important, so when I read the script, I was not familiar with the story, but Jinbei hit me close to home."

Koyamada became interested in learning about his samurai heritage one year after coming to America, and the impulse to search for his past became stronger after starring with Tom Cruise in THE LAST SAMURAI.

"After that film, I spoke to my grandfather to find out more about my ancestors," he says, "and he told me about Kakure Kirishitan, which means 'hidden religion,' something that existed hundreds of years ago back in Kagoshima, Japan, throughout Kyushu. Apparently, my ancestors believed in a sort of 'hidden religion,' and when I asked what it was, he (Koyamada's grandfather) didn't know and wasn't interested. My parents told me not to tell anybody about my family heritage because it is considered shameful.

"People were persecuted by the government in the 1600s if you were part of Kakure Kirishitan, this was a bad thing. My ancestors were part of that, and it didn't click in me until I started doing GOOD SOIL and was talking to Craig (the film's director Craig Shimahara) and he was telling me the history of Jinbei and his son Amakusa Shiro.

"I'm the first in my family interested in this, so after I researched Jinbei, Amakusa, and the history of Christianity in Japan, something bothered me and after I spoke with Craig about my past he said, 'Wow.' When I told my parents and they asked if I spoke to Craig before the film and I said I didn't, I knew something was up. These stories are similar and as it turns out Kakure Kirishitan, the hidden religion, was Christianity.

"What's interesting is my ancestors escaped or were sent to the countryside because they were Christian, like in this film where Jinbei stands up for his beliefs and was sent to the countryside where he passed on his legacy to his descendants. All my ancestors were possibly Christian samurai in Kagoshima. Two years ago I visited my ancestors' land, we own a mountain, the place they were sent and secretly passed down our history from generation to generation, and I'm the direct descendant who can now pass it on."

So how do Koyamada's parents feel now that that he openly speaks to the world of those things that are considered shameful family secrets?

"I convinced them that times change, people change, there's nothing to hide," he says. "One need not be ashamed or afraid to speak up. Four hundred years ago it was a problem to speak about being a Christian to the public, but now there is no need to hide. If we admit the past, we can move on. I broke the rule by finding this out, I also broke the rule by marrying a Columbian. I'm the family troublemaker but you can't make a mark without risks, can you. Working on this film became personal."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Distracting Prayer of the Faithful

By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

N THE SPIRIT OF THE Reform of the Reform, one might well question the role of the Prayer of the Faithful (or General Intercessions) in the new Mass. A motley collection of petitions, usually poorly written and even more poorly read, disturbs the natural flow of the liturgy as it proceeds from the readings into the Profession of Faith, which is the natural response to God’s revelation of Himself, and into the Offertory. The homily already threatens to disturb the liturgical flow, because it represents more the temporal human axis of liturgy, but a good homily need not last for more than a few minutes, and if it is truly good, it has whetted the soul’s appetite for the Bread of Life through pondering the Word of God. With the solemn chanting of the Creed, the eternal divine axis of the liturgy decisively reasserts itself, as the soul exercises the gift of faith and prepares to bring gifts to the altar, where the Lord will transform them into the gift of Himself. Seen from “above,” looking at the structure and flow of the liturgical action, the intercessory prayers mark a most awkward caesura in the liturgical action.

It is different in the Good Friday liturgy because this liturgy is already radically different from the form that evolved for the other days of the year. The public intercessory prayers have all the more power and force for being specially and solemnly recited on Good Friday, the day on which we recall the historical event of the Lord’s sacrifice and death. One is almost knocked over by the power of the Good Friday liturgy; one only waters down its forcefulness by borrowing its features and distributing them widely, albeit superficially, throughout the year.

One can make a similar argument regarding the low Mass and the Requiem, which served as models for the Novus Ordo. As long as they were done in their own limited context, the low Mass and the Requiem perfectly served their purposes. As soon as certain features of the Requiem low Mass became the standard Mass, the balance was destroyed. If the reformers were so concerned about the hegemony of the merely recited Mass and the daily Mass for the Dead, they should have found intelligent ways to limit these practices rather than effectively allowing them to take over completely. Nowadays, almost every Mass is a low Mass, and the Mass for the Dead itself has been “lowered” to such an extent that it seldom seems to be what it actually is. Even the qualities that were precious in the low Mass and Requiem were destroyed, ironically by taking the “low” elements and lowering them as far as possible without vitiating the validity of the Mass as such.

Returning to the intercessory prayers: it is unnecessary to establish a separate part of the liturgy for them as long as one retains (as one should) the Roman Canon, with its beautiful intercessions for the Church, the Pope, the Bishop, priests, and the people, and, after consecration, for the faithful departed. There is a pause at the Memento, Domine, famularum famulorumque tuorum for remembering those for whom we have promised to pray and “all those dear” to us. Once more, the Placeat tibi is intercessory, and rightly so: it brings to a full close the majestic action of the sacrifice begun at the Suscipe, Domine and tracing an arc whose apogee is the elevation and whose perigee, if I may so speak, is the Domine, non sum dignus, when the glorified Lamb of God, of infinite holiness, is besought to heal our souls, that he may enter and make His dwelling there. The end joins to the beginning in a cycle that is not Nietzsche’s despairing eternal recurrence but the joyous certainty of faith: He who created the world at the beginning, He who re-created it by His incarnation, will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and will give to His faithful servants the reward of everlasting happiness.

A graduate of Thomas Aquinas College (B.A. in Liberal Arts) and The Catholic University of America (M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy), Dr. Peter Kwasniewski is currently Professor at Wyoming Catholic College. He is also a published and performed composer, especially of sacred music. The current article was first published as: Dr. Peter Kwasiewski, "The Distracting Prayer of the Faithful" (Corpus Christi Watershed, May 16, 2013).

Hymns, Propitiation, and Terror of God's Wrath

Perhaps some of you may be able to help in responding to the concerns of this reader, who writes:
"I have read in several places comments from Catholic commentators/theologicals vehemently opposing the Propitionary View of Atonement that shaped me decisively as a Protestant. The idea of the "Wrath of God" seems like a concept people are sort of embarrassed by, one they consider an anachronism. Interestingly I recall a comment in the prolix and disturbingly clinical Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (Herbert Vorgrimler) where Ratzinger sort of warily but obligatorily acknowledges the "mystery of the wrath of God." The Puritan in me was pleased to read that. As was the fan of so much moving Protestant hymnody.

"But speaking of the latter, is anyone other than Evangelicals, and even among them a select few, going to retain a memory of this concept [of propitiation], despite its obviously forthright place in Paul's teaching (NT Wright notwithstanding)? Check this out [Mary Louise Bringle, "Debating hymns" (Christian Century, May 1, 2013)]

"[And I would love to know what readers recommend as a good accessibly theological book on the Atonement {emphasis added}.Evangelicals have John Stott's The Cross of Christ. I think I mentioned a few years ago that I was pleasantly surprised that NOR ran a review of Catholic basher but pretty sharp apologist R.C. Sproul's book, The Cross, which was halfway complimentary. Is there a Catholic equivalent? Possibly Stephen Clark's Redeemer? Don't know, but would like to hear recommendations.]"
My own immediate thoughts are that WRATH is important, missing, and needed in contemporary RC teaching. One of my hobby horses has been "fear." We need more "FEAR of God" -- as in "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

There's little if any AWE in contemporary Catholic sensibilities, and I think that is in large part due to liturgical and catechetical changes since V-II. When do alter servers and priests prostrate themselves before the almighty during the Mass? Where is there FEAR of God, when he's a stand-in for Barney the Dinosaur? -- Or, as the reader put it, God becomes an all-loving, all-understanding, ever-rooting for everyone figure in the sky who is On Our Side. His sole business is our coddled happiness. What do you do with that?

[Hat tip to J.M.]

The Nun who kissed Elvis

Here is something possibly "lighter" -- a throwback to a an era when faith and culture were at least on courteous terms: Thom Geier, "Mother Dolores Hart: The Nun Who Kissed Elvis Presley" Entertainment Weekly ran this piece in 2011, and I thought it was (to use a now almost never heard expression) charming, in terms of content and tone. [Especially welcome too since EW is the most irony-driven of secular magazines. You almost feel automatically gay-cultured, jaded, or studio-insider simply scanning it!]
Dolores Hart appeared in 10 movies in the late 1950s and early '60s, starring opposite some of the biggest stars of the era: Anthony Quinn, Myrna Loy, and Montgomery Clift. She was one of Elvis Presley's first onscreen kisses. At age 20, she earned a Tony nomination for her Broadway debut in The Pleasure of His Company. She was an above-the-title star of 1960's spring-break romp Where the Boys Are, which led to an invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

And then in June of 1963, the striking starlet with the dark blond hair and piercing blue eyes left it all behind. She packed a single suitcase and attended one last autograph-signing session in New York City for Come Fly With Me, an MGM comedy about three husband-hunting air hostesses. ''I remember I had makeup on from some photography that they were doing,'' she recalls. Then a man working for the studio approached her. ''He wanted to know if he could take me somewhere when it was over, so I said, 'It's a long way. You could just take me to the bus.''' But he insisted, and so he drove her just over two hours north of the city and deposited her at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., where she has lived the quiet life of a cloistered Benedictine nun ever since.

It's not every nun who enters the convent in the back of a chauffeured limo, admits Mother Dolores Hart, now 72. "Well, if that's in the script, then why not?"
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Why "Imagine" is a Suitable National Anthem for ObamaNation

"This is a brilliant summary of why conservatives, or Christian conservatives, are uneasy with liberalism," writes our correspondent, J.M. "I think it is quite obvious that Obama is the political equivalent of Oprah (with race being a secondary factor), and here is why: Dr. Jeff Mirus, "Liberalism: Must we really make it all on our own?" (, March 19, 2013):
When a serious Catholic talks about liberalism, he is not referring primarily to a political preference but to a philosophical outlook. For example, the Catholic is far more interested in whether the fundamental principles of liberalism conflict with a Christian worldview than in whether many liberals happen to favor extensive government programs to support the poor. In exactly the same way, the Church’s official condemnations of liberalism have not centered on specific social policies but on general attitudes toward religion and supernatural truth.

Consider, for example, the third proposition condemned in the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX, which is the very soul of liberalism: “Human reason, without any reference whatsoever to God, is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood, and of good and evil; it is law to itself, and suffices, by its natural force, to secure the welfare of men and of nations.”

The problem, as the Catholic sees it, is that liberalism tends to denigrate truth, and especially supernatural sources of truth, and to argue against the salutary influence of revealed truth in human affairs. Liberalism asserts the perfectibility of both the person and society through human agency alone, and presumes that the human mind is capable of judging and disposing of the claims of God in favor of its own rationalistic projects. This assertion denies all objective representations of divine authority, thereby reducing everything, including religion, to human opinion. What Pope Benedict XVI called the “dictatorship of relativism” inevitably follows.

Drifting leftwards since Vatican II

Thomas Albert Howard, history professor at Gordon College, recently wrote a review of Massimo Faggioli's excellent Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning in the evangelical journal, Books and Culture. The review, entitled "A Very Young Council," isn't half bad. What is interesting, however, as one of our correspondents pointed out recently, is the exchange that followed between a reader of the review (Steinfels, from Fordham) and Howard. Our correspondent writes:
"What stuck me was the distressing fact that whenever liberal assertions are granted ground, the argument field is repositioned dramatically. Thus notice how Steinfels can claim Kung as a priest in good standing, and both he and Rahner as stalwart, if "strident," Catholic voices, and dismiss the SSPX, of whom such a description is actually far more accurate.

"This is the enduring problem with the post-Vatican II Church. The borderline heretical doctrines it allows to exists without any explicit condemnation become the de facto positions of a large group of the faithful. Suddenly voices like Garrigou-Lagrange become more marginalized than the equivocations of a Karl Rahner, and suddenly Ralph Martin's book on Hell is viewed warily by Ignatius Press while Fr. Barron can dismiss the idea of Hell in his popular Catholicism series without anyone even caring.

"Note also in Howard's reply the sublimal slam on the SSPX ... which he calls a "Secret Society." No such games are played with the more liberal players. Seems like something worthy of the Obama storm troopers, really!

"Steinfels and Fagglio both would do well to read David Well's takes on Vatican II written in the immediate aftermath of the council, Revolution in Rome. It had and is still have these consequences.
A Very Young Council
It was good to read Thomas Albert Howard's very positive review of Massimo Faggioli's Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning in the March/April issue ["A Very Young Council"]. Unfortunately the review contains an extraordinary claim that should not go unchallenged.

As Howard accurately reports, Faggioli divides interpretations of Vatican II into two main camps, Thomist and Augustinian, the former generally grouped around the journal Concilium and the latter around Communio.

But Howard then adds: "Beyond the Thomists and the Augustinians are those we might label the hyper-progressives and the hyper-traditionalists. The former would include Hans Küng ... and Karl Rahner .... By contrast, the hyper-traditionalists would include the so-called 'sedavacantists' [sic] (who claim the Holy See has not had a legitimate Pope since Pius XII) and the French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the members of the secretive Saint Pius X Society."

Let's be clear that the "we" in this passage is reviewer Howard and not author Faggioli. Faggioli uses no such labels as "hyper-progressives" and "hyper-traditionalists." He does not treat Küng and Rahner as "hyper" anything but explicitly names them in the ranks of the Concilium writers.

The idea of creating a parallel between these two major theologians, on the one hand, and the sedevacantists and Lefebvrists, on the other, is absurd. The sedevacantists are full-bore conspiracy theorists and the Lefebvrists and Saint Pius X Society are in formal schism. Father Küng has voiced many criticisms of the last two papacies that needed voicing, even if he sometimes serves himself poorly by an unnecessarily strident tone. He is, moreover, a Catholic priest in good standing and a prolific and respected scholar and popularizer. As for Rahner, rather than some "hyper-progressive" equivalent of the sedevacantists and Lefebvrists, he is widely recognized as one of the great theological and spiritual minds of the 20th century.

What was Howard up to in creating such a false equivalency, one without basis in the book he was praising? Is this another gambit in Catholic culture-wars polemics? I hope not.

Peter Steinfels University Professor Emeritus Fordham University New York City, N.Y.
Tal Howard replies:
I'll accept this as a fair criticism of my review. The "Secret Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is "hyper-traditionalist" in a manner that does not tidily present a parallel with the progressive and much-discussed theological views of Küng and Rahner. And the prefix is my own, not Faggioli's; it admittedly can be used to serve polemical purposes. Nonetheless, it was quite extraordinary for Küng to have hismissio canonica (right to teach recognized Catholic theology) taken from him in 1979. If he was not "hyper-progressive," perhaps we can both admit that he was (and has been) pushing the envelope. And we agree that Faggioli has written an engaging book.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Purge of lavender mafia in Church hierarchy begins?

Related: Matthew Despard, Priesthood In Crisis: One Priest's Experience(Kindle Edition, 2013, based on the current scandal in Scotland).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Long, hot summer

"Trust, but verify ..."

Worship as a tragic sense of life

"Fr. Friendly, you have a call ..." reads the subject line of our liturgical correspondent's email, sending the linked article below.

Carl R. Trueman, in "Tragic Worship" (First Things, June/July, 2013), writes:
The problem with much Christian worship in the contemporary world, Catholic and Protestant alike, is not that it is too entertaining but that it is not entertaining enough. Worship characterized by upbeat rock music, stand-up comedy, beautiful people taking center stage, and a certain amount of Hallmark Channel sentimentality neglects one classic form of entertainment, the one that tells us, to quote the Book of Common Prayer, that “in the midst of life we are in death.”

It neglects tragedy. Tragedy as a form of art and of entertainment highlighted death, and death is central to true Christian worship....

Christian worship should immerse people in the reality of the tragedy of the human fall and of all subsequent human life. It should provide us with a language that allows us to praise the God of resurrection while lamenting the suffering and agony that is our lot in a world alienated from its creator, and it should thereby sharpen our longing for the only answer to the one great challenge we must all face sooner or later. Only those who accept that they are going to die can begin to look with any hope to the resurrection.
I remember in my Protestant days discussing with some friends the purpose of the Sunday sermon. Was it education, exhortation, entertainment, inspiration? What was it? Whatever was said, I remember the sinking feeling I would get when anyone would suggest that sermons, like our Sunday worship generally, ought to be "more joyful." What that usually meant, among other things, was that people ought to be smiling. Which often reminded me of being scolded by our elementary school teachers during class pictures for looking too glum.

After my reception into the Church twenty years ago, I also remember more than one occasion on which either (a) a Protestant visiting a Catholic Mass would comment that the worship didn't seem sufficiently "joyful," because the people didn't look "happy" and weren't "smiling"; or (b) Catholic individuals would express similar views, suggesting that Mass was a "celebration," and should therefore be more "expressive," "happy," and "joyful." Again, that sinking feeling.

There is a place for smiling, laughter, and joy. I'm not sure the foot of the cross of our crucified Lord is that place. This is what we have forgotten in our new, contemporary liturgies. This is what the traditional liturgy, with its atmosphere of severe mercy, has never forgotten.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Extraordinary community news

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

Tridentine Community News (May 12, 2013):
The Apostleship of Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee my prayers, works, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for the intentions of all our associates, and in particular for the intention recommended by our Holy Father, the Pope.
Perhaps you have seen the above Morning Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer or similar prayers in a traditional missal or prayer book, such as The Blessed Sacrament Prayer Book. Have you ever stopped to consider what The Apostleship of Prayer is, or how one becomes an Associate? Clearly this must have been a fairly major entity, due to the prevalence of such prayers in so many pre-Vatican II books.

Unbeknownst to many Catholics, The Apostleship of Prayer still exists, and in fact maintains an impressive web site, Membership is free, and those who sign up on-line will be mailed an information package. The organization is dedicated to praying for the Holy Father’s two monthly intentions. Some excerpts from their web site explain the Apostleship’s history and objectives:
The Apostleship of Prayer began in France in 1844. At that time Fr. Francis X. Gautrelet told a group of Jesuit seminarians who were eager to work on the missions: “Be apostles now, apostles of prayer! Offer everything you are doing each day in union with the Heart of our Lord for what He wishes, the spread of the Kingdom for the salvation of souls.”

In 1861 the first Messenger of the Sacred Heart was published. Besides promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this periodical also tried to develop in its readers an awareness of the needs of the Universal Church. In time the Pope himself proposed a particular monthly intention and since 1929 a specific mission intention has also been proposed to the faithful for their prayerful attention.

At the center of the Apostleship of Prayer is the Morning or Daily Offering. In this simple prayer, we offer every moment of our day to God. We strive to take seriously the call we received in baptism to be “a royal priesthood” (see 1 Peter 2: 9). ...Pope John Paul II once said that the practice of praying the Morning Offering is “of fundamental importance in the life of each and every one of the faithful.” It is a daily reminder to make our entire day, our whole life “a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12: 1).

In 2005 the Synod of Bishops urged in Proposition 43 “Eucharistic Spirituality and Sanctification of the World” through daily participation in Holy Mass. The Proposition goes on to mention the Apostleship of Prayer by name: “The daily offering (taught, for example, in the Apostleship of Prayer, practiced by millions of Catholics worldwide) can help each one to become a ‘Eucharistic figure,’ following the example of Mary, uniting one’s own life to that of Christ, who offers himself for humanity.”
The Pope’s monthly intentions are posted on the Apostleship’s web site. Those for May, 2013 are as follows:
General Intention: For Administrators of Justice: That administrators of justice may act always with integrity and right conscience.

Missionary Intention: For Seminaries: That seminaries, especially those of mission churches, may form pastors after the Heart of Christ, fully dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel.
Pentecost Octave Masses

Ann Arbor’s Old St. Patrick’s Church will be celebrating the Tridentine Mass every day throughout the Pentecost Octave. Holy Mass will be offered on Pentecost Sunday, May 19 at 12:30 PM; on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:30 AM; on Tuesday at 7:00 PM; on Thursday and Saturday at 8:30 AM, and finally on Trinity Sunday, May 26 at 12:30 PM. Thanks to pastor Fr. Gerald Gawronski and to Paul Schultz for organizing this splendid observation of a neglected Octave. Note that the Church marks each day of the Pentecost Octave as a First Class Feast, with Gloria and Credo. It’s worth mentioning that the weekend of May 25-26 is shaping up to be one of the busiest ever, Tridentine Mass-wise.

Upcoming Juventútem Masses

Juventútem Michigan has a number of special upcoming Masses. As part of their Pentecost Pilgrimage for Christian Culture (read more and sign up at, there will be special Masses in the Extraordinary Form on Sunday, May 19 at 12:30 PM at St. Mary Church in Lowell, MI, and at 5:00 PM on Monday, May 20 at St. Mary Church in Westphalia, MI.

On Friday, May 31 at 7:00 PM, Juventútem’s monthly last Friday Mass will be held at Grand Rapids, Michigan’s beautiful Basilica of St. Adalbert, pictured. Young adults age 18-35 are invited to a dinner after Mass. For more information, see the Facebook event page.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 05/13 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Confessor, & Doctor)
  • Tue. 05/14 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (St. Boniface, Martyr)
[Comments? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for May 12, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Saturday, May 11, 2013

WH off-record Benghazi briefing: "C'mon guys, let's get our story straight!"

The White House circled the wagons with an "off-the-record" briefing with reporters yesterday (Friday), which began around 12:45pm and pushed back the daily, on-the-record WH press briefing to 1:45pm, sources familiar with the meeting tell POLITICO. WH press secretary Jay Carney did not respond to a request for confirmation of the meeting.

The off-the-record session was announced to reporters in the wake of an ABC News report showing that White House and State Dept. officials were involved in revising the now-discredited CIA talking points about the attack on Benghazi.

According to WH representative Josh Ernest, the meeting was conducted on "deep background." When asked by Politico to explain the meaning of "deep background," as defined by the White House, POLITICO reports that Ernest emailed: "Deep background means that the info presented by the briefers can be used in reporting but the briefers can't be quoted."

Our undercover Washington correspondent tells us that a clandestine source, operating under the name of "Deep Throat," told him that President Barack Milhous O'Nixon, referring to the 14 news organizations present (including television, print and online), called them a "trusted arm of the White House press office." Further, the President impressed upon them the importance of credibility: "C'mon guys, let's get our story straight!"

[Photo credit: The Ulsterman Report]

Alvin Plantinga: "Fundamentalist" = "sombitch"?

All of us are familiar with how the dreaded f-word is trotted out to stigmatize this or that group, whether Muslim or Christian. Well, now philosopher Alvin Plantinga offers a full philosophico-grammatico-semiological analysis of the term "fundamentalist":
On the most common contemporary academic use of the term, it is a term of abuse or disapprobation, rather like 'son of a bitch', more exactly 'sonovabitch', or perhaps still more exactly (at least according to those authorities who look to the Old West as normative on matters of pronunciation) 'sumbitch'. When the term is used in this way, no definition of it is ordinarily given. (If you called someone a sumbitch, would you feel obliged first to define the term?) Still, there is a bit more to the meaning of 'fundamentalist' (in the widely current use): it isn't simply a term of abuse. In addition to its emotive force, it does have some cognitive content, and ordinarily denotes relatively conservative theological views. That makes it more like 'stupid sumbitch' (or maybe 'fascist sumbitch'?) than 'sumbitch' simpliciter. It isn't exactly like that term either, however, because its cognitive content can expand and contract on demand; its content seems to depend on who is using it. In the mouths of certain liberal theologians, for example, it tends to denote any who accept traditional Christianity, including Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Barth; in the mouths of devout secularists like Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett, it tends to denote anyone who believes there is such a person as God. The explanation is that the term has a certain indexical element: its cognitive content is given by the phrase 'considerably to the right, theologically speaking, of me and my enlightened friends.' The full meaning of the term, therefore (in this use), can be given by something like 'stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine'.
Source: Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief,2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2000).
[Hat tip to E. Echeverria]

New Revelations: State Department's Benghazi coverup

When ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl begins pointing out glaring contradictions in the administration's Benghazi narrative, you know Hilary must be feeling the heat. The bottom line is this: The Obama administration's politically expedient story cost American lives.

The Middle East was supposed to despise Bush, not Obama. Obama's smooth-as-corn-syrup Cairo speech of 2009 was supposed to have given us the new "Arab Spring," not a continuation of the Bush-era "War on Terror." Instead, we have watched as our government has helped deliver upwards of half-a-dozen Arab countries into the hands of radical jihadis ("rebels," "liberation fighters," he called them). And the jihadi attacks on Western targets have continued unabated. From Benghazi to Boston, our administration has been trying desperately to impose their narrative in the teeth of reality, like flat earthers waving away photographs of the earth taken from space and believing that by sticking to their talking points they can flatten the earth.

Jonathan Karl, "Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference" (ABC News, May 10, 2013).

Michael Medved Comments on, and Plays ABC's Jonathan Karl's Devastating Benghazi Report (detailed and targeted):

Paul Farhi, "Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, a persistent voice of media skepticism on Benghazi" (Washington Post, May 7, 2013).

"Peggy Noonan: The Inconvenient Truth About Benghazi" (Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2013) -- one of the clearest and most articulate statements from the conservative side.

Captives of the Liberal mindset completely miss the irony of the Liberal narrative on Islam. They think they can sweet-talk Muslims into their corner by their urbane post-modern, self-congratulatory enlightened vision of the geo-political history. This is what they think Obama achieved by all of his apologizing for Western imperialism his Cairo speech of 2009. They think that all that is wrong with the world can be laid at the feet of George W. Bush and everything they think he stands for -- a swashbuckling American cowboy bravado, yahoo-individualism, guns, Bibles, xenophobic Christianity, the oil industry, American exceptionalism, etc. They think that Muslims, or at least the more 'educated' and 'enlightened' ones, can be brought around to seeing this as their common enemy too.

The problem is that Liberalism has a blind spot. It's not these things that outrage Middle Eastern Muslims. Rather, they are outraged by all that American Liberalism itself stands for -- namely, "liberty" understood as the freedom from traditional values of moral restraint manifest in our rampant pornography, contraception, abortion, promiscuous embrace of recreational sex as an acceptable lifestyle, no-fault divorce, same-sex 'marriage', and all that spews forth from the fevered studios of Hollywood onto TV sets across the world. Nothing embodies this irony more than our own presidents' public endorsement of same-sex 'marriage.' This is anathema to Islam, as it should be. Yet our State Department was willing to lie about a terrorist attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya, at the cost of four American lives, including our ambassador, rather than compromise its Liberal fairy tale about everything coming up roses with Liberalism and its enlightened relations with the Muslims amidst the new "Arab Spring" aborning in the Muslim world.

Heads should roll.

[Hat tip to A. Sistrom]

Related: Brian Saint-Paul, "Radical Islam and the Left" (Crisis, February 7, 2007).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Left starts to turn on the Pope: Why

First, Fr. Z. writes:
Here is something that I never thought I would write

Fr. Z kudos to Jamie Manson of the National Schismatic Reporter.

One of Fishwrap‘s headliners, a darling of LCWR, the openly-lesbian, Margaret Farley-mentored Jamie Manson has sobered up about Pope Francis.

She has a piece in the Fishwrap today in which she tosses Francis under the bus. Be clear about this: she is wrong in her positions, but she is honest enough to state her case clearly and she sees accurately what is going on.

Context: she starts with the high hopes which the liberal, dissenting LCWR-ers had for Pope Francis, how jazzed they were at the odd comments João Card. Braz de Aviz (Prefect of Religious) made to the plenary meeting in Rome of the UISG. Then she gets into it: Read more here >>
Next, no better way to cut to the chase than to visit Michael Voris' enthusiastic account below:

This leaves unaddressed other questions about Catholic tradition, the New Evangelization, Vatican II, liturgy, and so forth; but the response of dissenters now turning against the Holy Father for these points of orthodoxy speaks well for clarity of these points of dogma and doctrine.

"Restoration will not come from the old, the clergy or the episcopate ... but from the young"

Via Rorate Caeli (May 10, 2013) from JUVENTUTEM MICHIGAN (May 7, 2013).

Pentecost Pilgrimage:
Young adult Catholics to walk and pray for Christian Culture

On Pentecost Sunday and Pentecost Monday, May 19th and 20th, Catholic young adults from across the state will walk from Lowell (in the Diocese of Grand Rapids) to Westphalia (in the Diocese of Lansing), camping in Ionia along the way.

A map of the 33 mile route can be found [below, and] on the pilgrimage website and on the Facebook page.

A pilgrimage is a journey made to a holy place or shrine for the sanctification of the pilgrim; with the purpose of venerating a saint or martyr associated with the site; to pray to God; to ask for supernatural aid; to give thanks for favors received; or to discharge a religious obligation. The arduous journey, offered joyfully to God, represents our spiritual pilgrimage to the Heavenly City.

The focus of this pilgrimage is Christian Culture – pilgrims will both make concrete efforts towards Christian Culture in our liturgies and celebrations en route and will pray that God would inspire each of them as to how he or she might best win the culture for Christ when the pilgrimage has been completed.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Evil. Not ignorance. Not mental illness. Just irreducible evil.

Cleveland kidnapping house of horrors: Neighbors reported seeing naked women crawling on leashes, a woman with a baby pounding on a window for help ... but cops walked away 3 times

Neighbors in the West Cleveland neighborhood where three women were rescued after a decade of imprisonment said they had called police 3 times to report strange behavior at the house, but cops never went inside and never followed up.

Atrocities against Syrian Christians

A Chaldean Catholic in our community sent this email:

"Atrocities that the Muslim terrorists are committing in Syria. We have too help the Syrians and especially the Christians who are being slaughtered by these atrociously wicked terrorists. My heart is crying for what is taking place in Syria and unfortunately instead of the West taking action they sit idle and allow Syria to disintegrate and the Syrians be butchered."
Please pray for our Syrian brothers and sisters in Christ. Just as the Western media turned a blind eye to the slaughter of Chaldean Catholics in Iraq, so they are ignoring the plight of Syrian Catholics and other Christians caught up in the horrors of the civil war in Syria.

There is not the least indication that our government is concerned. The Western media is largely indifferent. These Syrian Christians have almost nothing to help them but the communion of the saints, the unity of the Church triumphant with the saints-in-the-making of the Church militant. Your prayers count. So please stop and say a prayer for them now, asking St. Michael in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ to bind the satanic hosts unleashed upon their country.

[Hat tip to N. Yousif]

Three good men: integrity before careers

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Good news! Gun homicides have plummeted 39% since Clinton admininistration

I'm sorry to throw cold water on your reverie, in case this isn't good news for you, and you aren't interested in the facts (WASHINGTON AP).

Apparently most Americans aren't aware of the facts, either because they would rather nurse their delicious paranoia by feeding on the current administration-backed media hype suggesting (against the facts) that gun crime is spiraling out of control, or because they're simply uninformed (LA Times, May 7, 2013, citing Pew Research Center study).

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Watergate: the world stops. Benghazi: business as usual?

  • 1976: Hollywood releases All the President's Men, an Academy Award-winning political thriller, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two journalists investigating the Watergate scandal (1972) for the Washington Post.
  • 2013: Woodward's two books on the Obama administration, Obama's Wars (2011) and The Price of Politics (2012), though scathing, have elicited no Hollywood film contracts, and the media complicity since Benghazi-gate, on every honest assessment, has been mind-numbing.
[Hat tip to A.S.]

A new skepticism about natural law?

David Bentley Hart, "Is, Ought, and Nature’s Laws" (First Things, March 2013), offered a skeptical review of natural law theories.

The piece got a lot of attention, some positive, some negative:In the May issue of First Things, Hart responded to Feser's criticisms in "Nature Loves to Hide" (First Things, May, 2013); and now Feser has responded, in turn, to Hart, in "Sheer Hart Attack: Morality, Rationality, and Theology" (Public Discourse, April 24th, 2013 -- again, it carries an earlier publication date).

These articles are both illuminating about the contemporary state of affairs in the Catholic corner of the public square, and edifying in what they reveal about the often-misunderstood character of natural law. For those who understand the difference between natural law and natural law theories, there is no reason whatsoever to be skeptical about natural law.

One of the best books I can recommend to give the novice a sense of the foregoing, and a powerful sense of how compelling natural law argument can be is J. Budziszewski's What We Can't Not Know: A Guide.Philosophically brilliant, spiritually insightful, and psychologically shrewd, there is no other book on the subject quite like it. Highly recommended.

[Hat tip to C.B.]

Monday, May 06, 2013

Bp Gumbleton celebrates anniversary Mass for gay Detroit Dignity

Tim Drake, "Marygrove College Chapel Hosts Liturgy Celebrating Homosexual Dignity Group" (Cardinal Newman Society, April 10, 2013):
Catholic Marygrove College’s Sacred Heart Chapel is hosting an anniversary liturgy, celebrated by retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, in honor of the homosexual group Dignity-Detroit’s 39th anniversary celebration on Sunday, May 5. The day prior, DignityUSA President Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogues is addressing the gathering.

Unlike the group Courage, which accepts Catholic teaching and is approved by the Catholic Church, DignityUSA rejects the idea that homosexuality is “disordered” and actively affirms and promotes the homosexual lifestyle.

Former Boston Bishop William Murphy forbade diocesan personnel from participating in DignityUSA’s conferences because “they espoused a position contrary to Catholic moral teaching supporting …sexual relations between persons of the same sex….”

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron recently told the Detroit Free Press that Catholics who publicly advocate for homosexual marriage should not receive the Eucharist.

"For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: 'I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.' In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one's integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury."

"You don't come to church to celebrate your sin ..."

[Hat tip to D.K.]