Sunday, November 29, 2015

A well-written, humble, inspiring book

I just finished reading this book with our daughter. J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, it's not. But it has every bit the adventure of my mother's stories about her life as a missionary in China, to which she travelled alone by freighter to Hong Kong, making her way inland to Chendgu, Sichuan, where she served as a medical mission nurse until my father arrived, they were married, they tried to stay after the Maoist revolution and after I came crashing into their lives. Perhaps this disposed me empathetically to the story about Sr. Theophane in Selfless.

From the publisher:
Selfless is the story of Sister Theophane, a passionate, driven nun dedicated to serving the poor around the world.

Discover the inspiring story of how a precocious young girl from upstate New York became a servant and apostle to the poor in the jungle missions of Papua New Guinea, and, eventually, a prisoner of the Japanese in World War II.

Selfless: The Story of Sr. Theophane's Missionary Life in the Jungles of Papua New Guinea was written in 1946 by a fellow sister of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters [Sr. Immolata Reida, SSpS], but it is just now being published for the first time.

Long held in anonymity, Sr. Theophane's amazing life of service and apostolic zeal is now finally being revealed to the world. Her story is a breathtaking tale that will inspire a new generation of Catholics to heed the call of service to Christ and others.
Our daughter was touched by Theophane's love of animals from when she was a child, through her horse-riding adventures in the mountain passes of Papua New Guinea. I was touched by her quiet heroism, her unflagging selfless zeal, and her untimely death as a casualty of the Pacific War (WWII). The ending is particularly moving, if you follow the threat of hear life throughout the whole narrative.

Pray for a renewal of the missionary spirit among Catholic women religious. Lord knows we need it.

Lamont on Catholicism, Islam, and the Neomodernist betrayal of Christians suffering at the hands of the Mohammedans

John R. T. Lamong, "Catholics and Islam" (Rorate Caeli, November 24, 2015).

Rod Dreher: "Did you ever think you would live to see this? The Pope is refuting the magisterial teaching of his own Church... Poor historical, sacramental Catholicism."

I'm not sure I'd put it quite like that, but here's Rod Dreher, commenting on the Pope cracking the door to Lutheran communion (American Conservative, November 16, 2015):
Francis continues to, um, amaze. From Rocco Palma’s report on the Pope’s meeting with Lutherans in Rome on Sunday, as part of an ecumenical dialogue: 
In an answer that’s almost certain to resonate broadly across the ecumenical scene (and elsewhere, quite possibly show his hand on his intended course following last month’s Synod on the Family), the pontiff – clearly wrestling with the plea – pointedly appealed less to the standard prohibition of the Eucharist for Protestant communities than to the woman’s discernment in conscience.
As if to reinforce the point, in a move clearly decided in advance, Francis publicly presented the pastor with a chalice which appeared identical to the ones the Pope gave the archbishops of Washington, New York and Philadelphia during his late September US trip. 
Quoting from his answer to a question posed by a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic man, about when she and her husband can expect to receive holy communion together (it is forbidden in the Catholic Church for non-Catholics — Orthodox Christians excepted under certain conditions — to receive communion): 
I can only respond to your question with a question: what can I do with my husband that the Lord’s Supper might accompany me on my path? It’s a problem that each must answer [for themselves], but a pastor-friend once told me that “We believe that the Lord is present there, he is present” – you believe that the Lord is present. And what’s the difference? There are explanations, interpretations, but life is bigger than explanations and interpretations. Always refer back to your baptism – one faith, one baptism, one Lord: this Paul tells us; and then consequences come later.
I would never dare to give permission to do this, because it’s not my own competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. [Pauses] And I wouldn’t dare – I don’t dare say anything more. 
In other words: let your conscience be your guide. Who is the Pope to judge? 
It is not in the competence of the pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church to say that a Protestant cannot receive communion in a Catholic mass Really? 
Here Dreher quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1400, which says:
1400 Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, “have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.” It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible. However these ecclesial communities, “when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper . . . profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory.”
Dreher observes the shift from this:
“Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible” is now “One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward.”
Of course he “would never dare to give permission to do this,” the Jesuit pope said, Jesuitically, but said so in winking at doing that very thing. Hard to avoid the conclusion that Pope Francis just effectively rewrote the Catechism, and destroyed a Eucharistic discipline that has existed since the Reformation. Did you ever think you would live to see this? The Pope is refuting the magisterial teaching of his own Church, and not on a small matter either.
Here is how one reader sees the matter: "In an era when everything is becoming up for grabs, the Pope adds to the disorientation. It is not one big thing, but all the combined little things that make Francis a catastrophe."

David A. Wemhoff on Henry Luce and the American Century

David A. Wemhoff, a South Bend lawyer, discusses his article "Henry R. Luce and the American Century." The influence of Luce's Time-Life publishing empire and its connections to the CIA are references. Later the discussion moves to an examination of the American Proposition and how the radical doctrine of the separation of church and state has resulted in an atomized and demoralized society and left the country vulnerable to the predations of a corrupt oligarchy.

According to the reader who brought this to our attention, Wemhoff's message is that Americanism was the true message of Vatican II and that three people brought it to us: Henry Luce, Fr. John Courtney Murray and C.D. Jackson, a CIA operative who worked for Henry Luce. This YouTube recording is audio only, but highly worthy of one's time.

[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

"Higher education" today: something's gotta give

We've been having a family debate about the status of higher education today, which has led to the exchange of some pretty substantial and provocative rants. Here's one from my son Jamie, which I thought you might enjoy. Feel free to comment:
One of the problems is that colleges serve two purposes (btw a great, very brief post on this is by Douthat of the NYT). First, the purpose they were originally designed to serve, to educate the small, aristocratic elite of the nation with the kind of cultural formation in the arts and sciences they would need to govern well, which required them to have a depth of understanding and wisdom regarding the human condition. But given American egalitarianism, it soon became clear (and rightly so) that this ‘glass ceiling’ kept the 99% of society (including all women, minorities, etc.) from upward mobility, so the pressure was on to give equal access to this ‘stepping stone to the middle class’ to all Americans. This has guided developments over the past century or so. But this shifts the purpose of colleges, or rather adds a second purpose, to teach job skills and enhance job placement, which (given the needs of an information society) means technocratic know-how, i.e. science and mathematics, business and engineering, etc. Hence the great schisms which rack most colleges like my own, between the dreamy, ivory tower liberal arts professors like myself who still think their purpose is to instill a deep sense of the human condition, and the realpolitik business and engineering professors who know that college (like real estate and retirement plans) is really a financial investment – put $30,000 in and over your lifetime you’ll get four times that out, so long as you know how to navigate the economic and professional spheres, which it is their business to train you how to do.

The biggest predictor of financial success remains, more and more every decade, a college degree. So colleges feel justified in doubling and tripling the price, as the financial payoff of a college degree rises. Also, massive increase in student populations, especially when these are not the highly-motivated yuppies of privileged households but the huddled, starving masses of a thousand demographic groups, raises immense complications for the ‘student life’ offices. Now we need to entertain these people, given them clubs and athletic activities, enforce disciplinary codes, monitor them with RAs and RDs, etc. So the biggest increase in COSTS for universities is administration. At some major universities DEANS almost outnumber faculty. And those guys get oodles of money in salaries. And that cost gets passed on to students.

I have always thought that we need two different types of colleges, liberal arts colleges and professional colleges. Liberal arts colleges can have very high admission standards, no quotas, and continue to recruit only the ‘best of the best’ American youth, and can dispense with most ‘babysitting’ administrative offices, all varsity athletics, etc. Professional colleges, whose chief purpose is to get young people jobs, can simply teach business skills and basic math. The latter can generally function online, like the University of Phoenix, which does a perfectly good job with this sort of thing – and again, you can dispense with all the administrative functions, get rid of dorms/residencies, get rid of varsity sports, etc. The latter could become dirt-cheap, potentially even free (i.e., taxpayer-funded), since running an online curriculum costs almost nothing.

The problem is that most state universities want to be all these things at once – a babysitting service, a professional sports team, a liberal arts academy, a research facility, and a job training agency. That’s massively expensive, hence the problems.

Fr. Perrone: Seeking Advent deliverance after Thanksgiving

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, November 29, 2015):
A new liturgical year commences on the heels of the day of Thanksgiving when we acknowledge God’s goodness for His many blessings. At least, that was the original idea behind the American holiday. While I am writing still in anticipation of Thanksgiving I can say that I am in the mood for the change of season. Perhaps it was the sudden and generous downpour of snow last weekend that made me look forward to a liturgical shift.

I have always had a love for Advent but have always been disappointed that it’s so short a time. One hardly begins to feel that longing of the people of the Old Testament for deliverance by the Messiah–which is recaptured in spirit at this time–when, suddenly, the great Day comes upon us.

To help nurse that special Advent feeling along I have reproduced a hymn for the season that I sang in my youth. It is now to be found in our hymnals, glued onto a page of otherwise negligible music. The hymn is a paraphrase of the prophetic text from Isaiah, so poetic and so expressive of the spirit of longing for the Messiah: “Drop down dew, O gracious heaven.” It took some scouting to find this now forgotten hymn. None of the hymnals I consulted (and I have several of them) had it but the one, a somewhat offbeat publication from the olden days. (I can’t understand why no other hymn book carries this text and melody when the Advent time is so well captured by it.) The words of the hymn speak to the sky, asking that the dew of the Holy Spirit come down and make fertile–not the earth–but the Holy Virgin Mary who will bear the Messiah within Her. We need this supplement to the season’s hymns since “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “On Jordan’s Bank”–nice as they are–can use a little help to convey to us the Advent spirit. I hope this hymn will strike a sympathetic chord in your hearts and assist you in making this year’s Advent a little more meaningful.

The trappings of Christmas have well begun making their way into the secular world, as I was to discover the week before Thanksgiving (already!) while doing a little food shopping. The music included the refrain, “...soon it will be Christmas day.” Well, not really all that “soon.” Perhaps the commercial world would find it more profitable to play Christmas ditties all year round so that we’d soon become sick of it and make a determined effort to ‘change our tune.’ I know I say something about this kind of spoliation of Christmas every year and I do it because it ruins, if not Christmas Day, at least Advent for many people, a time which ought to be a season of vigilant waiting for Christ, a time of penitence–milder than in Lent–and a season of a sobriety that’s meant to deepen the space in our souls for a greater possession of Christ.

The cookie sale to benefit our St. Vincent de Paul Helpers seemed to do well last Sunday. The decorative used Christmas items will be made available again next weekend for you to make some bargain purchases. Our Helpers have done a lot of good in the short time that they have been in existence. I’m glad that they are dedicated to this corporal work of mercy.

We have acquired a small practice pipe organ that you will see in the lounge. It came from a parish church that was installing a larger pipe organ and which needed to find a good home for the former instrument. You may note that many parishes nowadays have only keyboards for use as a synthesized piano (a secular instrument that should not be in churches anyway) or synthesized organ. This real instrument will help us in our music program as well as give organ student a place to practice. I caution all parishioners, however, that this is not a toy for children and that it’s not to played by anyone without permission. Piano students are not entitled to play it. It is a true instrument given to us–a great gift indeed.

Fr. Perrone

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Tridentine Community News - EWTN's "Extraordinary Faith" Episode 7: Miami - Part 2 of 2, New TLM Mass venues and Mass times

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (November 29, 2015):
November 29, 2015 – First Sunday of Advent

Extraordinary Faith Episode 7: Miami – Part 2 of 2

The seventh episode of Extraordinary Faith made its debut on EWTN on October 20, 2015. Little advance notice was given to us, so we could not publicize it in this column in time. The second of two shows filmed in Miami, this program has a special focus on the young. Our first guest is Aramis Perez, one of the leaders of Juventútem Miami, the local chapter of the international young adults’ group devoted to the Tridentine Mass. Aramis gives us some background on the activities of his chapter, including Masses at churches around metro Miami and social events similar to those offered by our local chapter, Juventútem Michigan.

Our crew dropped in on a local coffee shop, where the “Juventúters” give us some background on themselves and on their Dogma on Draft discussion group.

Three young ladies explain to our viewers the tradition of women covering their heads for Mass with lace mantillas. Next we speak with a panel of converts, including a young couple who decided to become Catholic after happening to wander into a Latin Mass in Oxford, England.

Latin Mass luminary Dr. Jennifer Donelson shares her experience with the Miami Tridentine Community. Jenny is already known to Extraordinary Faith viewers for having organized the Church Music Association of America conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, which we featured in Episode 3. [Jenny has since been appointed Director of Sacred Music at St. Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie, New York.] We drop in on a sonically impressive rehearsal of Jenny’s choir, held at Miami’s Cathedral of St. Mary.

Our last stop is Miami’s St. John Vianney College Seminary, where we meet several seminarians who share with us how the traditions of the Church impact their pursuit of a vocation to the priesthood.

Both Miami episodes – 6 & 7 – will be available for viewing by December 5 on the Episode pages of our web site, All of our episodes are also available for viewing on YouTube. You can subscribe to the Extraordinary Faith channels on both Vimeo and YouTube to be notified automatically when new episodes are posted. Please also ”like” the Extraordinary Faith Facebook page, where we post the latest EWTN air times and news about the sites we visit.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/30 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Andrew, Apostle)
  • Tue. 12/01 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary (Feria of Advent)
  • Fri. 12/04 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Sacred Heart of Jesus) [First Friday]
  • Sun. 12/06 12:15 PM: Pontifical Missa Cantata at St. Mary Star of the Sea, Jackson, Michigan (Second Sunday of Advent) - Celebrant: Bishop Earl Boyea. Reception after Mass.
  • Sun. 12/06 2:00 PM: High Mass at Rosary Chapel at Assumption Church, Windsor (Second Sunday of Advent) – Relocated this week (only) from Holy Name of Mary Church, which is hosting a concert this day
[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 November 29, 2015. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Maureen Mullarkey on Bishop Barron on Paris

First, here's Bishop Barron, sounding more like a Mennonite pacifist than a Catholic moralist:

Next, here's Maureen Mullarkey on "Bishop Barron on Paris" (Studio Matters, November 27, 2015). Mullarkey's piece is more a response to responses to her earlier piece, "The Incredible Shrinking Bishop Barron" (One Peter Five, November 23, 2015), in which she had written:
The massacre aroused no outrage, not even a wince of distaste. . . . [Bp Barron] found the atrocity “especially poignant” because he had studied in Paris for three years. And because he remembered some of the locations involved, the attacks were “moving and poignant.”
Mullarkey comments: "Moving. Poignant. Had the bishop been watching a film version of the death of Little Nell? The sentiment, and the genial detachment it signified, seemed a bizarre reaction to the slaughter and maiming of scores of innocent Parisians." Then, quoting from the earlier article, she writes: "The syrup thickened":
He glided on to a serene tutorial on mercy, on the obligation to “respond to violence with love,” and “to fight hatred with love.” He enjoined Catholics to mercy and “a non-violent stance.” . . . This time on camera, he confused Paris in 2015 with Selma, Alabama, in 1965.
Mullarkey concludes her latest piece with these words: "Bishop Barron has an influential platform. If he uses it to promote confusion between Christian love—caritas—and dispassion in the face of the murderous ambitions of Christianity’s oldest enemy, then he will be evangelizing for evil. No matter the Christ talk."

Was Bp Barron imprudent in his remarks? Was Mullarkey overly harsh? You decide. Guy Noir's only words were: "... the syrup gets thicker. But as I said, certainly the Bishop's lines are the Church's now standard lines!"

Related:  Steve Skojec, "The Perils of Popularity: Critiquing Bishop Barron" (1P5, November 30, 2015).

Canonist Peters on "high-level ecclesiastic dalliances with doctrinal ambiguity"

Edward Peters, "A license to sin" (In the light of the law, November 24, 2015 - my emphasis):
There is, I fear, no end in sight of the nonsensical nonsense being unleashed in the wake of various high-level ecclesiastic dalliances with doctrinal ambiguity and disciplinary confusion in regard to holy Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics. Call it Life in this Valley of Tears. Anyway, Pope Francis is going to do about this whatever he is going to about it and the Church will respond to whatever he does in due course. For now, I simply write to urge caution about some proposals to facilitate irregular reception of the Sacrament in these cases even if such proposals are couched in apparently sophisticated scholarly terms. 
For example, an Australian theologian has proposed a rescript to be issued by a bishop in accord with norms supposedly to be devised by Pope Francis, granting permission for divorced-and-remarried Catholics to take holy Communion. The proposal includes impressive vocabulary such as “juridical” and “administrative” and “canons”; it sports footnotes to “assessors” and “salus animarum” and warns about “anomalies”; it underscores Church teaching on the permanence of marriage and assures readers that it offers no doctrinal or canonical changes to this teaching. 
Balderdash. Pure, unadulterated, balderdash. This proposed rescript is really a license to sin. 
More specifically, this rescript would (purport to) grant permission to ignore one sin (adultery) and to commit another (sacrilegious reception of holy Communion). It even manages to suggest a third sin (attempting sacramental Confession without firm purpose of amendment)! Couched in mellifluous pastoral, sacramental, and canonical language, to be issued on arch/diocesan letterhead, such a letter, expressly invoking Our Lord’s teaching on marriage and to be signed by a Successor of the Apostles in the name of Christ, who—I kid you not—congratulates the couple on their perseverance in allowing the Church to grant them this favor(!), would constitute, I suggest, a blasphemy (CCC 2148). 
Peters is on a roll in this post. Do yourself a favor and read it. Not only will you be edified. You wouldn't want to miss the long-sought apparition of an eminent canon lawyer as the irrepressible Doc Holliday announcing his arrival at the final showdown with Johnny Ringo with the words, "I'm your Huckleberry." 

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: infallibility in action by St. John Paul II

Dr. Edward Peters, in "I agree with Dr. Feser 99.953%" (In the Light of the Law, November 24, 2015), writes:
Yes, I know that then-Cdl. Ratzinger said he did not regard Ordinatio as infallible and there is language from John Paul II suggesting the same thing. What can I say? Ordinatio is infallible, Ratzinger was not; John Paul’s infallible teaching authority was engaged when he issued Ordinatio, not when he briefly commented on it.
Find out why Peters says this, in commenting on Edward Feser's recent post on papal infallibility, by reading more >>

Friday, November 27, 2015


Fr. Z, "Of scapulars, devotions and Russian jet fighters" (Fr. Z's Blog, November 26, 2015):

Some people are quite disciplined in the matter of wearing a scapular. This comes from Latin scapulae, shoulder blades. Scapulars are garments, usually associated with religious habits, which fall down from the shoulders, mostly over the rest of the habit. Another kind of scapular is small, on strings, which symbolically substitutes for the larger scapular. There are different kinds of scapulars which are spiritual aids in various ways. They generally are a symbol of a relationship through which we derive spiritual protection and aid. Probably the most commonly used scapular is the brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

BTW… once you are “enrolled” and given the brown scapular, if and when your scapular wears out, simply replace it. You don’t have to have the new one blessed.
I am not sure if Eastern Catholics and Orthodox have such things, but a reader alerted me to something which she thought was rather like a Western scapular.

At The Daily Mail there are many photos concerning the destruction of a Russian jet fighter by the Turks. The pilots were killed as they parachuted. Among the photos are the pilots’ effects, including this, which I flipped and cropped:

Squanto was a baptized Catholic - and other pre-Protestant sources of Thanksgiving in America

Michael Voris, "Beyond Thankful" (CM, November 26, 2015):
Thanksgiving specifically and in general is the quintessential Catholic holiday. First the specific case: Despite having had shoveled into the minds of many students at government-run schools, the first historical Thanksgiving did not occur between the Protestant Puritans and Native Americans in 1621.

The first historical Thanksgiving meal actually happened 56 years earlier on September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. (By the way, the correct pronunciation is St. Augustine, not the more Protestant variation of St. Augustine, which takes the emphasis off the "Saint.") The new Spanish settlers sat down for a banquet with the local indian tribes and Holy Mass was offered.

Remember, the Catholic Spanish and the Catholic French beat the Protestant English to North America by almost an entire century. That was the first historical Thanksgiving. But there was a first official Thanksgiving dinner as well in America, and that was held in Texas in connection with Don Juan declaring it officially and having a meal with the natives, as well as, once again, the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

And if that's not enough to demonstrate that Thanksgiving actually has its roots in Catholicism, consider that the Native American who worked out arrangements between the Puritans and the Indians, Squanto, was actually a baptized Catholic. Spanish forces freed him from English captivity, and he was subsequently baptized into the One True Faith. He of course went on to organize what has become known as the first Thanksgiving, but in reality is at least the third such occurrence.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

"Satanic verses" of the Qu'ran & Islam as a Christian heresy

Dante and Virgil meet Mohammed in Hell

Adfero, "Islam: A Christian heresy, straight from Hell" (RC, November 21, 2015):
Mohammad was a pedophile who received his false religion directly from Satan, as you will hear in this powerful sermon, delivered from a priest in good standing. Unfortunately, not many people, whether they be Christian or Muslim, know this anymore.

It doesn't matter how many ridiculous ecumenical events our bishops and priests attend bearing no good fruit and no converts. It doesn't matter how many times our modern popes offend God by entering mosques. It will never take away this undeniable fact: Islam is from Hell, and all who refuse to adhere to its evil are targets of its wrath.

Click here now to listen to the sermon. Then tell everyone you know.
The topmost priority here, evidently, is not "inter-religious dialogue"!


Dignitatis Humanae - the Pink vs Rhonheimer debate

Longtime readers may remember that we addressed Fr. Martin Rhonheimer's views on religious freedom several years in our post, "Who's Betraying Tradition: The Grand Dispute" (Musings, June 2, 1011). We also discussed Rhonheimer's views substantially in "George Weigel vs. pre-V2 teaching on Social Kingship of Christ" (Musings, June 16, 2011). See also "Dr. Thomas Pink responds to Fr. Rhonheimer" (Musings, August 5, 2011). Dr. Pink's written response to Rhonheimer is reproduced in full in "On the coercive authority of the Church: a response to Fr. Martin Rhonheimer by Thomas Pink" (Rorate Caeli, August 5, 2015).

Here, once again, we have Rorate Caeli to thank for calling our attention to the most recent exchange between Pink and Rhonheimer in Sacerdos Romanus, "Pink-Rhonheimer Debate" (Rorate Caeli, November 23, 2015), in which Romanus writes:
Prof. Thomas Pink, who has contributed to Rorate Caeli in the past, recently held a public debate on the important problem of the interpretation of Dignitatis Humanae with Fr. Martin Rhonheimer of the Opus Dei. The full debate is embedded above. Pink argues for the continuity of Dignitatis Humanae with the teachings of the 19th century popes, while Fr. Rhonheimer argues for discontinuity.
The debate in the VIDEO above doesn't actually begin until roughly 12 minutes and 30 seconds [12:30] into the recording.

[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When Rome gives Catholicism a bad name and apologists sound like odious windbags of optimism

One of our readers (call him Mr. Z.) must have been in a bad mood. Or something. He sent me an email referencing an article entitled "Why we'd all be Catholic if we really thought about it" (CWR, November 23, 2015). The article isn't bad, really. The writer is honest about how badly his piece is apt to be misunderstood. He says, for instance:
In the modern world, where we shouldn’t presume to tell others what’s true and false, good and bad, or right and wrong, saying we’d all be Catholic if we really thought about it is sure to provoke scorn and ire. What about happy and generous Buddhists, Muslims, Lutherans, atheists? Didn't this sort of close-minded thinking go by the board a hundred years ago?
So perhaps it was just Mr. Z's indigestion. Or something. But at the same time, I think his rant is something that bears repeating here. Call it Food for thought in times like ours for odious windbags of optimism. He writes:
I am Catholic, but this piece rubbed me the wrong way. Given our current season, when the Church's claims so often seem like paper ones at best, I have to actively remind myself why I chose to convert. "We'd all be Catholic if we really thought about it..." Um, OK, but that zinger can easily boomerang as a rephrased "We'd all be Catholic if we insisted on thinking and thinking about it..." Against many presently hard-to-miss arguments to the contrary. The fact we seem to have the better case than jaded Nihilists (!) Moslem suicide bombers (!!) is hardly a consolation prize. Other versions of Christianity may have weaker historical claims, for instance, but few seekers are historians: most live in the present, where there are strong arguments against entering The Church currently being given strength by Rome's zany sounds.

And a line like "While Catholics reverence Scripture, they don’t believe the Bible is the sole source of Divine wisdom, or believe that everything in the Bible should be taken literally" simply dumbfounds, since I have met few if any souls who actually do. In fact, this is a canard the gay church movement would typically bring out.

I would not be a Catholic if I didn't believe the Church's claims. And yet, post-conversion zeal, I have gradually realized that yes, one can be a consistent and rational Protestant or Jew. We don't have the only argument game in town. In fact, I think it takes the grace of God to actually see the truth in some of the more detailed arguments for The Church, especially in the face of the drastic facelifts it has undergone in the past century. "What else is there?" seems not so much triumphalist as rather dourly reductionist. I'd join an easier-to-hang with church if the truth didn't compel me to stay. And if I hadn't unfortunately "thought about it." Only half tongue in cheek I say, "What else is there?" should be paired with "Come on in! The water stinks!" But yes, at least it's wet.
If any of you run into Mr. Z, be sure to invite him to a good Theology on Tap session, or to the Argument of the Month Club, or SOME place where being a Catholic doesn't make you feel like a moron or hypocrite for wanting to be Catholic but having some serious concerns about the state of the Church these days.

Being a Catholic. Making it hard. I remain, yours Pertinaciously, Papist.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Timely: "The Mass-Clock and the Spy: The Catholicization of World War II"

"Never did American Catholics do evangelization better than in World War II," wrote the correspondent who emailed me the link to this article. Indeed, it's a telling and timely piece, given what lies just over the horizon. Read on: John C. Seitz,"The Mass-Clock and the Spy: The Catholicization of World War II," Church History (December 1, 2014). What follows here are just two excerpts from the Introduction:
At the back of a pocket-sized missal distributed by the National Catholic Community Service (NCCS), U.S. military personnel serving in World War II could find a particularly useful wartime device. The two-page spread centered on an image that would have been vaguely familiar to most U.S. Catholics. The largest feature was a sun-like circle rising and radiating out from a smaller ciborium beneath. In more familiar Catholic imagery the circle appeared sometimes as the sun, sometimes as the Eucharistic host itself. It was typically embossed with the letters "IHS," a Greek-derived abbreviation of the Holy Name of Jesus, or with the Greek letters A[Omega], representing Jesus as Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of all. In these familiar forms, the image signaled the centrality and efficacy of the sacrament of communion in the religious life of Catholics. Through communion, received in the form of the Eucharistic bread consecrated and delivered by the hands of an ordained priest, Catholics united themselves with Christ, whose very name was woven into the fabric of the universe. Participation in Holy Communion, which for the properly scrupulous was preceded always by the sacrament of confession, united Catholics with Christ, activated the flow of grace into their lives, and ensured their eternal proximity to God.

Global warfare pressed this imagery into new realms. Instead of a host or the sun rising up, the circular form here took the shape of a clock face. Inside the clock face, instead of the letters "IHS," readers found a world map, including the six inhabited continents viewed from a point high above the North Pole. In each hour segment of the clock face, the names of two different regions were listed. Text below and on the facing page offered instructions if one was "unable to attend Mass because of military service or the absence of a chaplain." Using this "World-Mass-Clock" and the accompanying "Mass-Clock-Prayer" Catholics could join themselves spiritually with the sacrifice of the Mass as it was happening at any given moment, somewhere in the world. "No matter when you look at your clock," the pages explained, "it is early morning somewhere ... and some Priest is offering Mass!" With these pages at hand, Catholics could discover where in the world, at that precise moment, the church was uniting itself with Christ's original sacrifice. In addition to studying the catechism assigned to that week's Mass (found earlier in the booklet), servicemen could recite the "Mass-Clock-Prayer" which began:

Eternal Father, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I wish to unite myself with Jesus, now offering His Precious Blood in [mention name of country] in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

... But Catholics did not rest solely on the assurances provided by these powerful prayers, objects, and actions. Alongside the heavy traffic of sacramentals and stories about their potency, Catholics eagerly disseminated separatist narratives of U.S. Catholic triumph. "Mack," a "twentieth-century G.I.," offered one of these stories for the editors of the NCCS's wartime newsletter entitled Contact....

Well-versed in Catholic expectations for the lay apostolate, Mack riffed on the motto of Catholic Action--a very twentieth century plan for extending Catholic influence in secular democracies--to describe his role as a Catholic in the U.S. military. The main fruit of this experience, he averred, would be relatively slow to develop. Military service was a time to "OBSERVE and JUDGE," a chance for "sizing up what is pagan in our environment." Armed with "a knowledge of what this environment should be," "Contact men"--those lined up with the Catholic approach to the war--could also use their time in the service to forge plans "to change what is into what should be ." "ACT," the implementation phase of the Catholic Action mandate, would have to wait until later, when the hindrances of military life--"army discipline and organization, schedules, breaking up of outfits, fatigue, discouragement"--had been left behind.

In the meantime, "day-to-day living in the midst of the men," what Mack described as life in a "pagan" environment, could be a kind of religious ordeal. Military life, he wrote, is "unconsciously sounding our spiritual depths and ploughing furrows in the very fibers of our being." With war's end, the "days of reconstruction " would begin, and tested and focused Catholics would manifest "a spiritual ripeness hitherto unknown to us" in the form of Catholic Action. Catholics in the military should understand themselves as spies behind enemy lines, immersed in a trying reconnaissance mission on behalf of the church. The enemy was not Germany or Japan, not Nazism or totalitarianism, nor even the lurking menace of communism. The enemy was a wayward America. Catholicism, mobilized through informed and eager lay Catholics, could be America's only hope in a future clouded by indifference, immorality, and paganism.
Read more. Much, much more >>

[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sweet as saccharine, clear as mud

Fr. Perrone: (1) join in my prayers for your salvation; (2) speak up at the archdiocesan synod on why local churches are closing

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, November 22, 2015):
The Forty Hours Devotion was well attended last weekend. I was pleased with that because I know this to be a time of grace, of spiritual benefit for the parish generally, and for the individuals and families that made their way to the church to adore the Lord. Sorry if I sounded threatening or self-pitying in last week’s lamentation over a poor turnout the year previous. Perhaps people were becoming spoiled over the easy availability of Eucharistic adoration time and thus dismissing the opportunities given to them (you should know that at one time the Church actually discouraged frequent exposition of the Sacrament lest the people become blasé over this Wonder of wonders); or perhaps they were becoming mindless of the true and real Presence of the incarnate Son of God there and saw no point in making visits to the Blessed Sacrament. My own experience of the Forty Hours has been rewarding: a time of self-abandonment to Christ in as humble manner of outpouring myself before Him as I can muster. In return, I emerge from the time of adoration fortified and refreshed. Those who came to adore the Lord must surely have experienced something of the same.

This thought leads me to a couple of pastoral points to make. The first of which concerns your spiritual welfare, which remains my most important preoccupation, apart from the salvation of mine own soul.

When I make my prayer intentions, I beseech God that He would save the souls of all my family, relatives, parishioners, and friends–all of those to whom I have a relationship in some way. In doing this I attempt to draw upon the pastoral clout I have before God by virtue of the holy priesthood which He deigned to grant me. It’s a kind of bargaining power with the Almighty, for such is the given position of the priest as a mediator between God and humanity. The priest’s particular concern, of course, must first be with those to whom he has some particular relationship of kith, kin, or post. In the last you are represented. I ask the Lord that “none of them be lost, not even one,” an echo of the words our Lord prayed to His Father before the Passion. It’s a bold thing I ask for, I know. As an individual, I’m asking a huge favor: not for the salvation of one or another soul, but for all those the Lord has given me, whom He has put in my path. Were I to ask to possess the entire created universe I would be asking for less than for the salvation even of one soul, and yet there I go about making such an entreaty to God–I who am nothing. There is the priestly office given me–so unworthy–which gives me that right, duty and obligation to pray, to intercede for the spiritual (and temporal) good of those who are ‘mine.’ This is all the more astonishing in view of the fact of my own sinfulness, an objection which Saint Paul anticipated. The priest “is appointed by God to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as for those of the people” (Hebrews 5:1-3). Without this assurance I, “beset with weakness,” might not be so daring as to ask so much. I beseech God that the wills of my people (“all those You gave me”) might be conformed to the will of God. Is this foolishness? I continue to pray daily in this way in the hope that I may be granted my prayer. I realize, however, that only you individually hold the key to your salvation, and that no one–not an angel, nor a devil, nor even God Himself–can take possession of one’s soul. This is that fundamental human freedom each one possesses personally, a gift of God which is inviolable. The motive of my writing can thus be discerned. I want you to join me in my prayers for you. Otherwise, my petitioning power will be void. Only you can move that lever that lifts you from your sinful selves unto God. Only you can say that salutary Yes to Him. I will continue to pray for you as I have been doing. Perhaps God will grant my fervent wish. Doing this together is, I would say, invincible.

The other pastoral matter concerns an upcoming Archdiocesan Synod to be held next year. You may already be weary and perhaps wary of synods in view of the rather embarrassing and ineffectual gathering under that name of the bishops in Rome last month. (I have not hesitated to share with you my discontent and disappointment over it.) This local, diocesan synod aims to address a problem that the Archbishop foresees for the local Church. All the bad moves that have been made–that have been enforced–through bad, faulty teaching and preaching, and through deliberately planned catechetical ignorance are now coming up for the payoff. The prospects are, I suppose, that in the not too distant future our parishes will be nearly devoid of worshipers. How can it be otherwise? If our Catholic people now live just like Pagan Everybody Else; and if their children do not even know that the grievous crimes they so frequently commit are mortal sins, and that the Communion they receive mindlessly and unworthily is really, physically the divine Presence of Christ and, further, that Christ Himself is indeed God–if they are ignorant of these most basic things, how then can they be expected to take their places in the pews of our churches? Would they have valid reasons for being there? (I mentioned only some of the grave circumstances that have created this problem. One must also consider the depopulation of Catholics as the inevitable outcome of the practice of contraception by many married Catholic people: more mortal sins committed and unconfessed, more planned ignorance of the people on the part of priests who have withheld the truth about this or who have out-and-out lied to them about this matter.)

I think that our Grotto people ought to speak up at this Synod and do the diocesan church a big favor. I’ll be writing about this again soon to solicit your co-operation. If the diocese is not interested in listening to us, the fringe people, the token 'traditional Catholics,' fine. But maybe we–maybe you–can have an impact on the future of the Church in the archdiocese of Detroit. God’s will be done.

Fr. Perrone

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week

Tridentine Community News - More EF Masses held at seminaries; Mary's Mantle collection; Christmas week bus tour of Chicago churches; 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 (November 22, 2015):
November 22, 2015 – Last Sunday After Pentecost

More Extraordinary Form Masses Held at Seminaries

The trend continues for seminaries to expose their students to the Traditional Latin Mass. On Wednesday, November 11, the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia hosted a Solemn High Mass with Deacon and Subdeacon in its St. Martin of Tours Chapel. St. Charles Seminary has held Extraordinary Form Masses in the past; what was significant about this particular Mass is that the seminarians requested it, and the rector approved.

On November 13, the Pontifical North American College Seminary in Rome posted the below text and photo on its Facebook page concerning an impressive multi-year initiative:

“Many of our students take advantage of being trained in the rubrics of Mass in the Extraordinary Form. The training is provided by alumnus Msgr. Richard Soseman C’95 (Peoria) who works in the Congregation for the Clergy. Training is done progressively, with different materials presented to the second year, third year, and fourth year students. A dedicated practice chapel in our new building wing provides an excellent location for this training.”

Closer to home, Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary will be hosting a private Mass [exclusively] for members of Juventútem Michigan this week. Sacred Heart Seminary also held a private Mass in the Extraordinary Form a few weeks ago for a select group of seminarians. The celebrant of both of those Masses is Fr. Clint McDonell, a frequent substitute celebrant for the Oakland County Latin Mass Association who began an assignment teaching Philosophy at the seminary this fall. These are the first Tridentine Masses to have been held at SHMS in over 45 years.

Mary’s Mantle Collection

On Sunday, December 6, the Oakland County Latin Mass Association will be collecting gifts suitable for infants, to be distributed at Mary’s Mantle, a home for unwed mothers. Please bring your gifts to the reception which will be held after Mass that day, in the social hall at the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

Christmas Week Bus Tour of Chicago Churches

Prayer Pilgrimages will be holding its annual bus tour of historic churches in Chicago on Monday-Tuesday, December 28-29. Fr. Joe Tuskiewicz will be the celebrant of two High Masses in the Extraordinary Form to be held at the perennially popular St. Mary of the Angels [pictured] and St. John Cantius Churches. Fr. Marcel Portelli of the Diocese of Saginaw will also be traveling with the group and will lead pilgrims on a tour of his alma mater, Mundelein Seminary. In addition to visiting a plethora of beautiful churches, free time is allocated for sightseeing and shopping in downtown Chicago.

Altar servers are needed for this trip; please e-mail if you are available to serve. For further information or to register for the tour, visit or call Mike Semaan at (248) 250-6005.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/23 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (St. Clement I, Pope & Martyr)
  • Tue. 11/24 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary (St. John of the Cross, Confessor & Doctor)
[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 November 22, 2015. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Abp. Lefebvre fined for "racist defamation" of French Muslim community

Here is a fascinating bit of historical trivia that touches the heart of recent developments in France. The International League Against Racism and Anti‑Semitism (the LICRA ‑ The French equivalent of the American Civil Liberties Union) brought a civil lawsuit against Archbishop Lefebvre, accusing him of racism and defamation with respect to the Moslem community for some off-the-cuff remarks he made on November 14, 1989, on the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination (see video below):

At the conclusion of his subsequent trial, he was cleared of the charge of racism but, in a gesture of compromise, he was found guilty of defaming the French Moslem community and fined 5,000 French francs($1,010.), a verdict he subsequently appealed.

In a declaration in Ecône on May 12, 1990 (preliminary to his court case of June 21, 1990), he said, among other things:
For as long as Moslems are an insignificant minority in a Christian country they can live in a friendly way, because they follow the laws and customs of the country which accepts them. But as soon as they are numerous and organized they become aggressive and they seek to impose their laws, which are hostile to European civilization. Examples are abundant. Soon they will take charge of our city councils, and will transform our churches into mosques. We will either have to become Moslem, leave the country or become their captives. This is in the profound nature of Islam. It is not I who am racist in denouncing this very racism.

The pretended defamation is only the statement of obvious facts. Kidnapping of white girls is well known to the police and it still exists today. It is not defamation to denounce the kidnappers of our compatriots. It is to call upon justice and demand the protection of our fellow citizens. If you prevent us from crying out against the nefarious consequences of Islam’s penetration of France and Europe, you render yourselves accomplices to the violence committed in the name of the Koran by Islam in our Christian countries. It is they who have undertaken this procedure against us, a procedure which truly shows the fundamental racism of Islam against the French, against the Jews and against every religion which is not Moslem.

It is not I who am racist because I denounce racism. I lived all my life in the midst of other races ‑ thirty years in Africa, among animists and Moslems. There I strove to bring them both spiritual and material goods ‑ schools, hospitals, etc. They showed their gratitude in decorating me as Officer of the Equatorial Star of Gabon and Grand Officer of the National Order of Senegal, and the French government recognized my overseas services by making me Officer of the Legion of Honor.

To condemn me as a racist because I seek to protect my country which is menaced in its very existence and Christian traditions... this would be to use justice for injustice. This would be the justice at the service of executioners whose victims have at most the right to keep quiet and to perish. This would be the summit of injustice.
Fast-forwarding to the 21st century, lest we think this sort of heinous defamation of Muslims has disappeared from the scene, have a look at this bit of xenophobic slander concerning recent events in the United Kingdom:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Why liberal secular Muslims can never tell you what ISIS really wants and why liberal Christians will never understand this

Graeme Wood, "What ISIS Really Wants" (Atlantic: March 2015): 
 Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
The Atlantic article contains a good video interview with Graeme Wood.
[Hat tip to JM]

Paris, the dying flowers of Christendom past, and light for the dark ages ahead

Two poignant reflections:

Dying Flowers (CM, November 20, 2015) - excerpts:
The outpourings of emotion and remembrances at the scenes of the Paris terrorist massacres are quite telling — piles of flowers and candles marking the specific spots where people gather to reflect. It all looks and sounds incredibly Catholic. But ... just how Catholic is it? 
It has all the outward signs of Catholicism, after all. But just how authentically Catholic is it? It is a curious thing when a nation which has officially abandoned Catholicism still has an almost instinctual Catholic response. But Catholicism is merely a shadow of its former self in the nation known as the Eldest Daughter of the Church. It's a strange balance between rejection and acceptance. In a kind of scaled-down way, it's kind of like the Catholics who show up only for Christmas and Easter. You wonder: Why are they here? It isn't theological or really even spiritual, beyond the most superficial understanding of the term "spiritual." 
The point to note in Paris, as mourners bring by their dying flowers and soon-to-be burnt-out and blown-out candles, some vestige of truth remains, however obscured and lost on the mourners themselves. It is a curious pity; you feel sorry for people who still respond on some foundational level to a tragedy, still respond out of a long-forgotten sense of Catholic identity. These scenes of Paris mourning are a cause of mourning in and of themselves. 
When you see them in poses resembling prayer, you wonder: What are they praying for; do they even know what to pray for? Do they have and hold a conscious thought that some of the souls of the victims may be in excruciating need of prayer in Purgatory? Are they showing up because of some melodrama playing out in their own individual psyches or personality types, the types drawn to drama or tragedy? They are memorializing an event, using Catholic signs and symbols to do so, yet don't really understand why, and have no lasting purpose to what they are doing because they do not understand.
Forming the Resistance (CM, November 19, 2015) - excerpts:
We are currently reduced to living on the fumes of that former civilization [of Christendom], as the last vestiges of it fade away. So what will replace it? Where will we be in 10 years? How will faithful Catholics live in the new Dark Ages? Thankfully, when we look at this vexing question, we do have precedent.  [That precedent is St. Benedict.]
In his 1981 book After Virtue, which we highlighted in yesterday's Vortex, Alasdair McIntyre, a brilliant man, drew some comparisons between the time of St. Benedict and our own time. He says near the very end 
This time, however, the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting for another — doubtless very different — St. Benedict.
 Since McIntyre penned those closing words more than 30 years ago, much has changed in the world, although it would be difficult to view it as surprising given the trajectory of the past 50-plus years. But McIntyre nails it when he refers to need for another St. Benedict. What St. Benedict foresaw was the need for Catholic communities to preserve the Faith from the evil the world was sinking deeper into it. So he withdrew, but he did not retire.  
[Hat tip to Sir A.S.]

War and Pastry

The underground correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, sent me this following message two days ago ... yes, by carrier pigeon:
It seems Atheists are OK, but I surmise the Centurion in the Gospels, who had "great faith" would not be welcome in Church discussions today, he being an advocate of war... [Augustinus, "Francis: No justification for war, even today"]

Neither Republicans who write stuff like this [David French, "No, John Oliver, France Is Not in a ‘Pastry Fight’ with Jihadists" (advisory: foul language)]

... But give Jon Stewart a rosary...

Abortion as beautiful and holy: the demons must be howling

Remember when Simon and Garfunkel sang "Silent Night" to the background of the 7 O'Clock evening news reporting about the Vietnam war, death by drug overdoses, racial rioting, the Richard Speck murders?

Now ABC News has done one better: Daniel Nussbaum, in "ABC’s ‘Scandal’ Main Character Undergoes Abortion Set to ‘Silent Night’," shows how Thursday night's episode of Shonda Rhimes's ABC series Scandal was, in fact, nothing less than an hour-long advertisement for Planned Parenthood, with "Silent Night" sung by a Gospel choir in the background as Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) undergoes an abortion.

Sometimes the work of Satan is so transparent one can only say: "Wow!" What complete and utter fools we are to have allowed things to spin out of control under our very noses. But, then again, we RE-ELECTED the man in the White House who invokes the blessing of "God" on Planned Parenthood, champions sodomite "marriage" in the name of "family-values," opens our borders in the name of "compassion" to enemies of Jews and Christians, and is bankrupting us to the tune of $19 million and running. As I say, the demons must be howling with laughter. They know (better than we) that we deserve every bit of what's coming.

[Hat tip to JM]

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Complacency = death"

Rod Dreher, "The End of Our Time" (The American Conservative, November 17 2015):
A reader sent that cartoon to me. It’s by Joann Sfar, a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, and it’s a response to people around the world who are offering prayers for Paris. No sir, Parisians like the atheist Sfar have no desire for prayers. Religion, you see, is the problem. If only everyone would be a thoroughly secular person like Sfar, these difficulties would resolve themselves.
The other day, a musician with a peace sign painted on his piano set up outside the devastated Bataclan nightclub, and played John Lennon’s nihilistic ballad “Imagine”
... I credit the sweetness of the anonymous musician’s spirit, but the more I thought about that gesture, the angrier I grew. Why angry? Because this — and the Sfar cartoon — are emblematic of the decadence and despair and emptiness of the post-Christian West. I keep saying, “You can’t fight something with nothing,” and that’s exactly what “Imagine,” and the Sfar cartoon stand for: nothing. Believe me, I celebrate music! kisses! life! Champagne and joy! too — it’s one of the reasons I love Paris madly — but it is not enough, and it will never be enough.
... Russian novelist Evgeny Vodolazkin ... told me that just as World War I wasn’t really about an assassination in Sarajevo, so too is the West’s current crisis not truly about Islamists who shoot up concert halls. He added that the West has never seen a migration like the current one, with so many masses of people moving from East to West, at once. He described it as “a great historical event.” “Nobody knows how this experiment will end,” he said. “The best thing we can do now is to pray. To tell the truth, I don’t see any way out of this tunnel.”
... Houellebecq [in his recent novel, Submission] depicts a France where people do little more than shop, have sex, and talk about eating, drinking, real estate, and getting ahead in their careers. There is no purpose for individuals other than pleasing themselves, no animating vision for society. This, for Houellebecq, is why the West is dying: people have ceased to believe in their civilization, and do not want to make the sacrifices necessary to continue it — not if it is going to cost them the thing they value the most: individual liberty to choose one’s pleasures.
... As Douthat, Houellebecq, Ferguson, and Vodolazkin all aver, in their different ways, these scattered events that trouble us all have their roots in a fundamental breakdown of civilizational order and confidence. This is about the Western mind, but more importantly, it’s about the Western soul. The breakdown, the crack-up, will be painful, violent, unpredictable, and long-lasting. But it’s coming. In fact, it has begun. I believe that the Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, in his 1923 book The End of the Modern World, in which he prophesied the rise of a “New Middle Ages,” is telling us what is to emerge out of the chaos of our cultural suicide. [Berdyaev writes]:
[F]aith in the ultimate political and social salvation of mankind is quenched. We have reached settlement-day after a series of centuries during which movement was from the centre, the spiritual core of life, to the periphery, its surface and social exterior. And the more empty of religious significance social life has become, the more it has tyrannized over the general life of man....]
... We have been walking this Enlightenment road for far too long, and it has us now in a dark wood.
[Hat tip to J ]

"Recycling the Revolution: 3"

From the editor of Christian Order (November 2015), this provocative piece called "Recycling The Revolution: 3." (Somehow the Beatles' "Revolution No. 9" keeps recycling in my poor head.)

Only this is serious. And it begins with four quotes whose authors (and timeline) are food for thought in and of themselves:
  • Blessed Pius IX (1871): "Believe me, the evil I denounce is more terrible than the Revolution.... that which I fear is Liberal Catholicism, which endeavours to unite two principles as repugnant to each other as fire and water ...."

  • St. Pius X (1910): "[W]hat has become of the Catholicism of the Sillon? Alas! this organisation... is now [part] of the great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy, neither discipline for the mind, nor curb for the passions, and which, under the pretext of freedom and human dignity, would bring back to the world... the reign of legalized cunning and force, and the oppression of the weak..."

  • Yves Marsaudon (1964): "[W]e are unable to ignore the Second Vatican Council and its consequences... With all our hearts we support the Revolution of John XXIII... This courageous concept of the Freedom of Thought that lies at the core of our Freemasonic lodges, has spread in a truly magnificent manner right under the Dome of St. Peter's."

  • Cardinal Danneels (2001): "Before Vatican II, in theology, as in other areas, the discipline was fixed. After the council there has been a revolution — a chaotic revolution — with free discussion on everything. There is now no common theology or philosophy as there was before."
Then there's the article ...

[Hat tip to JM]

Monday, November 16, 2015

Is the Year of Mercy about God's forgiveness of sin or international rapprochement?

Someone may reply: "Well, why not both?" And I would counter: "Would it be the same thing we were talking about then? Aren't these, rather, two different things?"

Adfero, "Vatican Secretary of State: Holy Year is open to Muslims!" (Rorate Caeli, November 16, 2015):
The Secretary of the Vatican State, Pietro Parolin, has confirmed that the Jubilee (from December 8th 2015 to November 20th 2016) is on schedule, as the spokesman for the Holy See, Padre Lombardi had already said, and that, in fact, will be open also to Muslims. “In a world torn by violence, it is the right time to launch the campaign of mercy” said the Cardinal in an interview with the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. “It is understandable that there are sentiments of revenge after the attacks, but we really need to resist them. The Pope wants the Jubilee to be used for people to meet each other, understand each other and rise above hate”, explains the Secretary of the Vatican State.
Okay, I get that. It's possible that those who have lost loved ones to Muslim terrorists might turn the other cheek in a Christ-like manner and forgive those who perpetrated this horror in an overture intended to win them to Christ and conversion to Holy Mother Church. It's possible, if uncommon.

It's also possible that the Vatican could be inviting sinners to flee the wrath of God to come by turning in repentance to the God of all mercy who is willing to forgive the contrite sinner no matter what the sin or the crime. That's possible too, if not very obvious in anything said by the Vatican Secretary of State.

But is either of these things really the meaning of the Year of Mercy? I'm sorry to sound like a skeptic. But the language just sounds much more like a public policy initiative, an invitation to dialogue, to seek mutual understanding, to "rise above hate."

This is, of course, something perfectly desirable; but is this the essential meaning of God's mercy in Holy Scripture? I've just been reading in the Old Testament the account of how Moses had the Levites slay about three thousand of the Children of Israel who refused to repent after their idolatrous celebration around the image of a golden calf.

God did not appear too eager to simply let unrepentant rebels off the hook under the blanket invitation of mercy -- a detail notably confirmed by the fact that Moses immediately went back up Mt. Sinai to the Lord to try to make atonement for the sins of his people.

It seems that the Mercy of Holy Scripture comes at a considerable cost, an important detail nobody seems to eager to talk about publicly.

Then again, I could be wrong. Just my two cents.

Solemn Tridentine Mass at St. Charles Borromo Seminary

Fr. John Zuhldorf, "Solemn Mass in Extraordinary Form at a major American seminary" (Fr. Z's Blog, November 15, 2015):
I received word via email… the Traditional Latin Mass has “returned” to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

This is an exceptionally good development. They should should have it every week, at least.

Here are a few snaps from their flicker feed HERE.

My correspondent wrote that this is the… :
Feast of St. Martin of Tours, in our Martin of Tours chapel. The seminarians have been asking the rector for a TLM, so he agreed!

Fr. Rosica: "'Allahu akbar' was never a call to violence & destruction"

Say WHAT???

Phil Lawler, "Father Rosica on Islam: 180º from reality" (, November 16, 2015):
"Allahu akbar" was never a call to violence & destruction.

That astonishing quote comes from the Father Thomas Rosica, the English-language attaché of the Vatican press office, in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris.

What is “astonishing” about the statement? Simply that it is so clearly wrong, so blatantly at odds with the facts. Does Father Rosica expect his readers to forget the many times in recent years when we have heard those words, ”Allahu akbar,” invoked precisely as a celebration of violence and destruction?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Secularism's guilty compassion and resentful brutality

The great nineteenth-century Spanish Catholic political thinker, Juan Donosco Cortes, addressing the issue of capital punishment in his Catholicism, Liberalism and Socialism, writes:
Governments seem to be endowed with an unerring instinct that teaches them that they can only be just or strong in the name of God. Thus it happens that whenever they commence to secularize, that is to say, to separate themselves from God, they always begin to relax the severity of penalties, as if conscious that their right was weakened. The loose modern theories regarding criminal law are contemporaneous with the decadence of religion, and they have prevailed in the code whenever the complete secularization of political power was established....

"Those who have made the world believe that this earth can be converted into a paradise, have not more readily made it believe it ought to be a paradise where blood is never shed. The end is not in the illusion, but in the very day and hour that this fallacy is everywhere accepted: blood will then gush from the rocks, and the earth will become a hell. Man cannot aspire to an impossible felicity in this obscure valley of our dark pilgrimage without losing the little happiness he already possesses."