Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas Reflection: What if the Biblical Narrative were True?

It's time to reconsider the reason for the season and the challenges offered by the drive-by "experts" of the day who intend to cast the entire Biblical narrative concerning the Blessed Nativity into doubt. Consider again the Biblical narrative:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,
Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pas, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter Two, Verses 13-20)

Here we are again, on the first day of the Christmas season. It has become something of a Christmas tradition for me to engage the following text by C.S. Lewis in connection with the above quoted Scriptures. The reason will be obvious.

Nearly every Christmas, it seems, NEWSWEEK or TIME or some television special will feature the "latest scholarship" questioning the "authenticity" of the Christmas story. I am not concerned with the question about whether the Nativity of our Lord occurred on December 25th. That's a matter of Church tradition and incidental to my concerns here. What concerns me is how the Biblical narrative itself is invariably called into question or even dismissed as mere "myth" -- the account of the shepherds, the Angelic host, the Christ Child in a manger, the Star and the Magi from the East, Herod's slaughter of the innocents, the flight of Mary and Joseph and the Christ Child into Egypt, etc.

The scholarly authorities typically interviewed, whether Catholic or Protestant, are consistently and incorrigibly one-sided, quite thoroughly corrupted by the Humean and Kantian philosophical presuppositions undergirding the historical-critical reading of the Biblical narrative. Typical is the website, where Internet browsers frequent to learn "the facts" about this or that -- a site where one finds this sort of thinking gone to seed in an article by Austin Cline, "Nativity vs Gospels: Are the Gospels Reliable About Jesus' Birth?" (, where the partisan skepticism of such historical critical assumptions is abundantly evident in his suggestions that all the key ingredients of the Nativity story in the Gospels were concocted fictions of various kinds.

The lack of critical circumspection, if not patent fantasy, in all of this would be amusing if it were not so destructive. The upshot is always the same: that the Gospel writers are unreliable and not to be trusted, and certainly not to be taken at face value. Just how ludicrous this all is, however, can be seen easily by anyone with a modicum of familiarity with literature, mythology, and history. One of the best examples of a powerful antedote to this kind of foolishness -- and one I keep using because it is simple -- is a little essay by C.S. Lewis entitled "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism," which is available in a collection of essays by Lewis entitled Christian Reflections (1967; reprinted by Eerdmans, 1994). The following are some excerpts from Lewis' essay, which begins on p. 152 and contains four objections (or what he calls "bleats") about modern New Testament scholarship:
1. [If a scholar] tells me that something in a Gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them by the flavour...

I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one [of the stories in the Gospel of John, for example] is like this... Either this is reportage - though it may no doubt contain errors - pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative...

2. All theology of the liberal type involves at some point - and often involves throughout - the claim that the real behaviour and purpose and teaching of Christ came very rapidly to be misunderstood and misrepresented by his followers, and has been recovered or exhumed only by modern scholars... The idea that any... writer should be opaque to those who lived in the same culture, spoke the same language, shared the same habitual imagery and unconscious assumptions, and yet be transparent to those who have none of these advantages, is in my opinion preposterous. There is an a priori improbability in it which almost no argument and no evidence could counterbalance.

3. Thirdly, I find in these theologians a constant use of the principle that the miraculous does not occur... This is a purely philosophical question. Scholars, as scholars, speak on it with no more authority than anyone else. The canon 'if miraculous, unhistorical' is one they bring to their study of the texts, not one they have learned from it. If one is speaking of authority, the united authority of all the Biblical critics in the world counts here for nothing.

4. My fourth bleat is my loudest and longest. Reviewers [of my own books, and of books by friends whose real history I knew] both friendly and hostile... will tell you what public events had directed the author's mind to this or that, what other authors influenced him, what his over-all intention was, what sort of audience he principally addressed, why - and when - he did everything... My impression is that in the whole of my experience not one of these guesses has on any one point been right; the method shows a record of 100 per cent failure.

The 'assured results of modern scholarship', as to the way in which an old book was written, are 'assured', we may conclude, only because those who knew the facts are dead and can't blow the gaff... The Biblical critics, whatever reconstructions they devise, can never be crudely proved wrong. St. Mark is dead. When they meet St. Peter there will be more pressing matters to discuss.

However... we are not fundamentalists... Of course we agree that passages almost verbally identical cannot be independent. It is as we glide away from this into reconstructions of a subtler and more ambitious kind that our faith in the method wavers... The sort of statement that arouses our deepest scepticism is the statement that something in a Gospel cannot be historical because it shows a theology or an ecclesiology too developed for so early a date...

Such are the reactions of one bleating layman... Once the layman was anxious to hide the fact that he believed so much less than the Vicar; he now tends to hide the fact that he believes so much more...
Lewis, of course, was hardly a naive ignoramus. He knew all the critical objections to Christianity because for the first part of his life he was himself a confirmed agnostic. He was anything but "soft-minded," to use the Jamesian idiom. He taught philosophy at Oxford briefly before going on to teach Medieval and Renaissance literature at Magdalen College, Oxford, and conclude his prolific academic career teaching at Cambridge. An account of his conversion can be found in his Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life,in which we find the following quotation:
You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation. (emphasis added)
Lewis, an Anglican, was a man of deep Catholic habit of mind, probably because of his immersion in medieval literature; and many have wondered why he never himself crossed the Tiber. Walker Percy even compared him to Moses, who led many others to the Promised Land, though never himself crossing over. A number of books have been written about this, like Joseph Pearce's C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church,and Christopher Derrick's C.S.Lewis and the Church of Rome.The most probable reason is cultural: his father was an Ulsterman. Whatever the reason, his common sense criticisms of those Biblical "experts" who attempt to dismantle the entire Biblical narrative under the influence of Enlightenment prejudices, can be accepted with gratitude.

For further reading: Merry Christmas everyone!

The Martyrology's proclamation of Christmas Eve

"In the 5,199th year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, in the 2,959th year from the flood, in the 2,015th year from the birth of Abraham, in the 1,510th year from the going forth of the people of Israel out of Egypt under Moses, in the 1, 032nd year from the anoiting of David as King, in the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel, in the 194th Olympiad, in the 752nd year from the foundation of the city of Rome, in the 42nd year of the reign of the Emperor Octavian Augustus, in the 6th age of the world, while the whole earth was at peace, Jesus Christ, Himself Eternal God and Son of the Eternal Father, being pleased to hallow the world by His most gracious coming, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost, and when nine months were passed after His conception, was born of the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem of Judea, and made Man."

Trump, Republicanism, conservatism, & populism: Larry R. Arnn speculates

Trump does not always speak in complete sentences. His language is sometimes coarse. He is not a smooth-talking politician. He knows, however, how to play a crowd. He sizes up personalities and situations instinctively. He is impulsive rather than reflective. He comes from a business background where he is used to making deals autocratically and intuitively, not by consensus. These characteristics lead many of us to worry about demagoguery.

Is this, however, all there is to Trump? Is Trump simply an unprincipled opportunist and demagogue? Larry R. Arnn, who comes from circles very much involved in thinking about political principles and constitutional law doesn't seem to believe so. Are his ideas about Trump's instinctive conservatism anything more than wishful thinking? One would like to believe not. Time will tell. In any case, Arnn suggests there is a great deal we can learn from this election and from President-elect Trump about political conservatism, liberalism, and populism if we reflect on them in a principled way.

Larry P. Arnn, President, Hillsdale College, "A More American Conservatism" (Imprimis, Vol. 45, No. 12, December, 2016):
The astonishing political campaign of 2016 involved much debate about whether Donald Trump is a conservative. He was not always facile with the lingo of conservatism, and he pointed out once that he was seeking the nomination of the Republican, not the conservative party. Yet there is a lot we can learn from him about conservatism.

What is conservatism? It is a derivative term: it refers to something outside itself. We cannot conserve the present or the future, and the past being full of contradiction, we cannot conserve it entire. In the past one finds heroism and villainy; justice and injustice; freedom and slavery. Things in the past are like things in the present: they must be judged. Conservative people know this if they have any sense.

What then makes them conservative? It is the additional knowledge that things that have had a good reputation for a long time are more trustworthy than new things. This is especially true of original things. The very term principle refers to something that comes first; to change the principle of a thing is to change it into something else. Without the principle, the thing is lost.

If American conservatism means anything, then, it means the things found at the beginning of America, when it became a nation. The classics teach us that forming political bonds is natural to people, written in their nature, stemming from the divine gift they have of speech and reason. This means in turn that the Declaration of Independence, where the final causes of our nation are stated, and the Constitution of the United States, where the form of government is established, are the original things. These documents were written by people who were friends and who understood the documents to pursue the same ends. Taken together they are the longest surviving things of their kind, and under their domain our country spread across a continent and became the strongest nation on earth, the bastion of freedom. These documents do not appeal to all conservatives, but I argue that they should, both for their age and for their worthiness.

It follows then that if Donald Trump helps to conserve these things, he is a conservative in the sense that matters most to the republic of the Americans. Will he?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book review: Pierre Manent's Beyond Radical Secularism

Fr. John McCloskey, Review of Beyond Radical Secularism, by Pierre Manent (St. Augustine's Press, 2016) 
Beyond Radical Secularism was originally published in Europe in the fall of 2015, when it caused quite a ruckus, and became even more relevant with the Nov. 13, 2015, incident of terrorism in Paris. The author, Pierre Manent, is a Frenchman who wrote the book after the earlier terrorist attack in France the previous January.

Manent's main thesis is that radical secularism does not have the capacity to counter the challenge presented in our era by Islam.

Although he believes that the threat posed by Islamist fanatics requires a resolute response, security measures alone are insufficient to protect the French (and European) way of life and to assimilate the large numbers of Muslim immigrants in their midst.

Manent believes that the several-centuries-old Western tradition of the secular state should be maintained and cherished. However, he argues that trying to "solve" the problem of Muslim assimilation in France by attempting to turn them into model French secularists as adrift morally and religiously as many of those they find themselves among will fail. Instead, France must recognize and accept its Christian heritage and culture, as well as its small-but-significant Jewish presence, as foundational to its national identity.

So what is the solution?

Manent reaches for a way of recognizing and defending European roots while retaining religious tolerance.

In Manent's view, Muslim immigrants seeking to make a home in Europe must make their peace with having moved beyond the borders of sharia (Islamic law) and to a certain extent be willing to shift mindsets. However, the established French customs, mores and traditions that make up the structure of a healthy culture have already been rejected by the radical secularist. That's why Manent insists that France must rediscover her national form, which at some point will require secession from the European Union. Meanwhile, he recommends forbidding Muslims in France from taking money from foreign powers, whether governments or religious organizations. This would better establish their identity as French Muslims.

His second major recommendation is to invite Muslim immigrants to enter into French common life. After all, in order to enter into the fullness of French citizenship or identity, they need to contribute to the country's well-being in ways that go beyond the economic benefits of a young labor pool.

Manent's many specific observations and proposed solutions can be debated without affecting the force of his central insight.

"Without vision, the people perish," says one of those outmoded Judeo-Christian books that the French secularists — and radical secularists elsewhere — have tossed into the rubbish heap of history.

Whether the Western people perish in the near or intermediate future will likely depend a lot on what identity they embrace.
First appeared on National Catholic Register in October 2016.

[Hat tip to Sir A. S.]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week








  • Sat. 12/24 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi, South Lyon, MI (Vigil of Christmas - 1st class)

Sunday [NB: Christmas Mass schedules are not known to me except for those below]

  • Sun. 12/25 12:00 Midnight: High Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (The Nativity of Our Lord - 1st class) - Charpentier's Messe de Minuit de Noël.
  • Sun. 12/25 12:00 Midnight: High Mass at St. Joseph's Church, Detroit (The Nativity of Our Lord - 1st class)
  • Sun. 12/25 9:00 AM: High Mass at St. Joseph's Church, Detroit (Christmas Day Mass at Dawn: The Nativity of Our Lord - 1st class)
  • Sun. 12/25 9:45 AM: High Mass at OCLMA/Academy of the Sacred Heart, Bloomfield Hills (Christmas Day Mass During the Day: The Nativity of Our Lord - 1st class) - Choir will sing Charpentier's Messe de Minuit de Noël.
  • Sun. 12/25 11:00 AM: Solemn High Mass at St. Joseph's Church, Detroit (Christmas Day Mass During the Day: The Nativity of Our Lord - 1st class)
  • Sun. 12/25 2:00 PM: High Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Canada (Christmas Day Mass During the Day: The Nativity of Our Lord - 1st class) – Choir will sing Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit de Noël. Choral prelude begins at 1:40 PM.
* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

Can Snopes be trusted?

Barbara and David P. Mikkelson created the website in 1995 as a now well-known resource for validating and debunking controversial stories in the media about American popular culture, now receiving about 300,000 visits a day. Barbara was reportedly the left-wing "liberal brains" of the couple while David was the chief "researcher." The Mikkelsons divorced around 2014, and Barbara no longer has an ownership stake in, and David has hired employees to assist him on the Snopes message board.

The site gained a reputation for reliability in fact-checking and urband-legend debunking, although as early as 2009 David admitted that the site received more complaints for having a liberal than a conservative bias. More recently, however, during the overheated rhetoric that was the bread and butter of the 2016 presidential election, the reputation of Snopes for reliability appeared to completely tank:
Most (not all) of these articles have an obvious anti-liberal slant, although that fact alone is insufficient to vindicate Snopes from many of the factual inaccuracies alleged in them. But questions about the inaccuracies and biases of Snopes were already surfacing well-before the overheated political rhetoric of the 2016 election season, in one case as early as 2009. See, for example, these two articles
Other sources want you to believe that such complaints against the bias of Snopes are themselves mostly unfounded urban legends. For example:
It should therefore go without saying that Snopes, while it may be counted upon to be fairly reliable in most of its non-political vetting, cannot be consistently depended upon to deliver a politically non-biased verdict on issues of partisan political concern. Why this should come as a surprise to anyone, I don't know. Nobody has a "point of view from nowhere," as philosopher Thomas Nagel once famously declared. Almost all people have political biases; and political commitments are often intensely personal and anything but dispassionate. And Barbara and David P. Mikkelson and any other Snopes writers are no exception.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Two good stories ... Read them to the end. You'll know what I mean.

Two good stories


Many Years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago.  Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic.  He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

 Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie."  He was Capone's lawyer for a good reason.  Eddie was very good!  In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well.. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well.  For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day.  The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however.  He had a son that he loved dearly.  Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education.  Nothing was withheld.  Price was no object.

And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong.  Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision.  Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some resemblance of integrity.  To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great.  So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street.  But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay..  Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

"The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour.  Now is the only time you own.  Live, love, toil with a will.  Place no faith in time.  For the clock may soon be still."


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare.
He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission.  After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank
He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier.  Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American-fleet.
The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless.  He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet.  Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger.  There was only one thing to do.  He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes.  Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another.  Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Undaunted, he continued the assault.  He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier..

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return..  The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale.  It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet.  He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.  This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.

A Year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.  His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor.  It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's" son.

 (Pretty cool, eh!)

"Charges dropped against Founder of the Franciscan of the Immaculate"

Adfero, "Charges dropped against Founder of the Franciscan of the Immaculate" (Rorate Caeli, December 15, 2016):
The charges against Father Stefano Manelli, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have been dropped. After about a year of investigations, the Deputy State Prosecutor at the Court of Avellino, Doctor A. Del Bene, has asked for the closing of the proceedings against the religious, whose Order is still under commissioning without a valid reason having ever been given by the Congregation for Religious....

Those close to him commented that "the outcome of the investigation has brought clarity to the “assumed allegations” restoring justice and dignity to Father Stefano Manelli who for some time has been the subject of slanderous, defamatory attacks, amplified by the media outlets."

History, in its irony, would have it that the news of the dismissal of this investigation would come precisely at the end of the year of Mercy

Read original Italian article here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Thanks from Tonya for your fund raiser contributions

I just received a card from Tonya for whom we had a fund raiser beginning back in November and ending the first week in December. Many of you contributed generously, enabling us to raise well over $3,000.00. After weeks of looking for a reliable used car in her range, after passing over a 2011 Toyota Yaris which she loved but couldn't afford, she finally settled on a 2005 Mercury Sable. On the upside, it's beautiful, with new tires, a flawless interior and exterior and looks reasonably well-maintained. On the downside, it had a recent transmission replacement and has a few repairs that will be necessary to keep it in running order: the right-front axle, a ball joint, new brakes and rotors, a wheel bearing, a transmission flush, and transmission mounts. Still, she was able to get the car at a reasonable price and has some reserves from your generous contributions that will allow her to make most of these repairs.

Many thanks go to all of you. And now it's Tonya's turn to thank you in her own words. Transcribed below are her own words, originally written in a beautiful hand in a Thank You card:
To all my Guardian Angels near and far!

I want to take this time and thank you all for the blessings and prayers bestowed upon me! You have made my life so much easier.

God bless & Merry Christmas,
From your babe wrapped in swaddling clothes of love.
Dec. 2016
And my personal thanks to all of you, as well, for your selfless generosity in helping this sister in Christ. It all becomes the more poignant as we find ourselves in the season of Advent approaching the birth of our Savior. Thank you, and God bless you!

Ivereigh sees Holy Spirit's hand in October Synod and Amoris Leititia, and faithless dissent in the dubia of the four cardinals

In an article that would leave spinning the head of even Cardinal Newman, the exponent of doctrinal development, Austen Ivereigh, "As anti-Amoris critics cross into dissent, the Church must move on" (Crux, December 11, 2016), launches a diatribe against critics of the Kasper doctrine that assumes a view of doctrinal development that looks like a recipe for synthesizing Styrofoam from Silly Putty and Play Dough.

The article has to be read to be believed. "Cardinal Burke, it is worth remembering," says Ivereigh, "was removed as head of the Vatican’s highest court because he rejected any reform to the annulment process - a reform sanctioned by the synod - on the grounds that it would undermine marriage." Unbelievable. 'Reform' is one thing. Baptizing the practice of serialized polygamy is another.

Again, he writes: "By rejecting the process of the synod and its fruits, the critics of Amoris Laetitia, led by four protesting cardinals, have crossed a line, and look increasingly like the dissenting lobbies under John Paul II who accused him of betraying Vatican II. Meanwhile, the Church is moving on."

"Moving on ..." where? Quo vadis? Twisting the Magisterium into a pretzel?

In addition to further confusing the faithful, such statements will have the added effect of confirming the opinions of those like the respected Bishop Athanasius Schneider that a bizarre schism, an 'anti-Gospel,' already exists within the Church. -- See Michael Chapman, "Catholic Bishop: 'We Are Witnessing Today a Bizarre Form of Schism' in the Church, an 'Anti-Gospel'" (CNS, December 8, 2016).

In fact, if those like Ivereigh continue to assert that their novelties represent a "hermeneutic of continuity" with Vatican II, this may have the unwanted effect of (1) increasingly undermining the confidence of conservative Catholics in many of the formulations of Vatican II particularly charished by the likes of Walter Kasper and their fellow champions of revisionism, as well as (2) emboldening Pelosi/Biden-type liberals to think that they have no vested interest whatsoever in keeping faith with foundational doctrinal traditions of the Church.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The return of the religious alt right Republican Taliban and other left-wing conspiracy theories

"Return of an Imaginary Menace," New Oxford Review (November 2016):
In our New Oxford Note “The Last Rhetorical Refuge of an Intellectual Scoundrel” (June), we asked the rhetorical question: “Remember all those insults about the ‘American Taliban’ hurled at religious conservatives in the 2000s?”

Kevin D. Williamson remembers, and he takes us back to that time, ten years ago, when Chris Hedges, a “leading moralist of the Left,” as The New Republic called him (Jun. 11, 2014), could author a book titled American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, and that book could earn rave reviews on its way to becoming a New York Times bestseller. Hedges’s book claims, in Williamson’s words, that “a secretive movement of authoritarian Christians organized along the lines of the great totalitarian movements of the 20th century was on the verge of seizing power through violence” (National Review, Sept. 12).

That a Christian cabal bent on recreating America in its own image was poised to ascend to power wasn’t merely the product of Hedges’s fever dreams. Progressive political blogger Markos Moulitsas also entertained the notion. Kos, as he is widely known, might have been the one to popularize the term American Taliban when he posted an incendiary piece bearing that title (, Mar. 11, 2005), in which he argued that “the Taliban/Al Qaida/Hezbollah/Jihadists of the world” are “exactly what we see in the Republican Party as the GOP continues to consolidate power — creeping theocracy, moralizing, us versus them, embrace of torture, the need to constantly declare jihad on someone, hysterics over football-game nipples, control over ‘decency’ on the airwaves, lyrics censorship, hostility to women freedoms [sic], curtaling [sic] of civil liberties, and so on.” Five years later, Kos would capitalize on the concept by releasing his own book on the topic, American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right.

In the interim, a kind of cottage industry had spawned, and the term American Taliban — and all that it represented — had taken on a life of its own. Soon, any number of reputable publishers and mainstream organizations, from The New York Times to Oprah Winfrey, were seriously considering the possibility that an influential group of highly placed Christian dominionists was operating behind the scenes of American political and cultural life, forming opinions, influencing policy, and biding its time until it could step out from behind the curtain and impose its beliefs first on a fractured and distracted America and eventually on a bewildered and unsuspecting world.

Tridentine Community News - Free Traditional Catholic books and audio books; Tones of the Ite, Missa Est; Other conclusions to the Mass; TLMs Mass schedule

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (December 11, 2016):
December 11, 2016 – Third Sunday of Advent

Free Traditional Catholic Books & Audio Books

Looking for interesting Catholic content to read on your PC or mobile device, or to listen to in your car? A web site has collected two pages of books which are available for free download, some also in audio book form. Selections include Catholic classics such as The Imitation of Christ and True Devotion to Mary. The full list is at: and

Tones of the Ite, Missa Est

There are eighteen Gregorian Chant settings of the Mass. Some are designated for certain days or seasons. For example, Mass I is used during the Easter season, Mass IX is for Feasts of Our Lady, Mass XI is for Sundays After Pentecost, and Masses XVII and XVIII are for Advent and Lent – neither includes a Glória. Those are merely recommendations, not requirements, which is why other Gregorian Mass settings are often used, especially on Sundays after Pentecost.

Besides the Kyrie, Glória, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei which comprise each Mass setting [Credos are independently numbered, for example the familiar Credo III is not from Mass III], each Mass also includes a setting of the Ite, Missa Est. The tone, or melody, of the Ite mimics the Kyrie for that Mass. For example, in Mass IV, often used on Feasts of the Apostles, the beginning of the Kyrie looks like this:

The Mass IV Ite repeats the same melody:

The servers and congregation respond with Deo grátias, sung to the same melody.

An interesting development took place in 1960: Prior to that date, in Lent and Advent, the Ite was replaced at the end of Mass by Benedicámus Dómino. The 1960 revision to the rubrics ordered that Benedicámus only be used when a procession follows Mass. Prior to this date, therefore, there had been no need for an Ite in the Lent and Advent Mass settings. Chant books published since 1960 now include the following, rather simple Ite for Masses XVII and XVIII:

An allied question is why this Ite, which is also specified for the infrequently used Mass XVI, does not mirror the melody of the Kyrie of those Mass settings. The answer is that this is actually the Ite of the infrequently heard Mass XV; it mirrors Kyrie XV. Church authorities evidently decided that a more austere and simple Ite was more appropriate for Advent and Lent.

Other Conclusions to the Mass

Let’s get back to that rarely-heard Benedicámus Dómino. The only liturgical procession we typically encounter after Mass is on Corpus Christi (Marian processions do not count, as they do not have official liturgical form). There are a few settings of the Benedicámus Dómino, the more elaborate of which are intended for more musically-skilled celebrants. For example, the altar missal includes the following simple and not-so-simple settings:

As with the Ite, the servers and congregation respond with Deo grátias, sung to the same melody.

There is one other instance when the Ite is replaced with something else. In a Requiem Mass, its place is taken by the Requiéscant in Pace. There is only one, simple tone, not based on a Mass setting:

The servers and congregation respond with a simple Amen.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 12/12 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Our Lady of Guadalupe)
  • Tue. 12/13 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (St. Lucy, Virgin & Martyr)
  • Sat. 12/17 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (Ember Saturday of Advent)
[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 December 11, 2016. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week



  • Mon. 12/12 7:30 AM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (Feria of Advent - 3rd class, (USA) Our Lady of Guadalupe - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 12/12 8:00 AM: Low Mass St. Joseph's Church, Detroit (Feria of Advent - 3rd class, (USA) Our Lady of Guadalupe - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 12/12 8:00 AM: Low Mass (Confessions 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM) at St. Joseph's Church, Ray Township [NB: See note at bottom of this post about SSPX sites.]* (Feria of Advent - 3rd class, (USA) Our Lady of Guadalupe - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 12/12 12:00 Noon: High Tridentine Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (Feria of Advent - 3rd class, (USA) Our Lady of Guadalupe - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 12/12 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat, Detroit (Feria of Advent - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 12/12 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption Grotto, Detroit (Feria of Advent - 3rd class, (USA) Our Lady of Guadalupe - 3rd class)
  • Mon. 12/12 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph's Church, Detroit (Feria of Advent - 3rd class, (USA) Our Lady of Guadalupe - 3rd class)







* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Fr. Perrone on Advent: Killjoy or comfort?

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, December 4, 2016):
Advent proposes to us multiple senses of Christ's coming: in the historical past, the present, and the yet to come. One aspect of this most of us would rather not ponder is His coming as the Judge of every man's conscience. I have been meditating on this in my early morning orisons of the past week only to rediscover its poignancy to affect the deep interior of my soul.

Meditating on the Last Judgment is about self confrontation as much as about being judged. I wonder whether my life's evaluation then will set me among the sheep sequestered from the goats (the hymn Dies Irae). A standard of self-measure is whether I will have been found a friend or an enemy of christ's cross. The feast of Saint Andrew last Wednesday brought this to my mind. When he beheld the cross that had been prepared for his own death, he exclaimed, "O desired cross, receive a disciple of Christ: by means of you may He receive me." Applied to myself, I wonder whether I will have been so converted from my selfness as to have become worthy of the cross of Christ -- or in St. Paul's words, whether I had been crucified with Christ so as to have taken on His life. Like a simple home self-administered medical-test, I can guage somewhat where I will stand before God.

This sober reflection takes some of the saccharine coating off of our pre-holiday frivolities -- sorry to be the killjoy. But what use is the pretense of yet another Christmas season if we have not assumed a Christian identity, that of a son of God with an inheritance of Christ's eternal riches?

You owe it to yourself to picture the arrival of the Judge, and yourself beneathHis judgment seat when all your life's story will be an open book. Every thought, desire and deed ... made public. I can't bear now to anticipate the terrible sound of anger in the voice of the Just Judge in pronouncing His verdict for the damned, "Depart from Me." I need rather to imagine His encouraging word that gives me the hope that my repentance now will have been sincere enough, that my amendment of life sufficient so as to hear His voice of comfort (the word literally means strength) mediated through the Church: "speak tenderly to Jerusalem for her guilt is expiated" (Isaiah). Living now, in the time before the final judgment, I must ever be somewhat uneasy, unsure. Whether I will be set on the right or the left I cannot know with certainty. With neither presumption nor despair, I have hope to see my God face to face -- His of a radiant, rapturous look of divine love. This is the advent I long for. That I'm unworthy of it goes without saying; but I have no other goal in life but this. For the present time, this advent, I pray for deliverance from the evils I can yet commit, the only obstacles to the attainment of my desire. I could never have this hope without the invasion of divine grace into my miserable soul and the steadying patronage of the holy Virgin Mary. This for me is advent. Speaking of Her reminds me that Thursday coming is a holy day of obligation, in Her honor: the Immaculate Conception. Under this title She is patroness of our country for which we have been praying daily. Masses on Thursday will be as on a Sunday (6:30, 9:30, noon) plus an evening Mass at 7:00 p.m. (To anticipate your question: 'No. The evening Mass on Wednesday will not be of the holy day.')

Fr. Perrone

Tridentine Community News - YouTube Graduále; Cardinal Burke to Celebrate Pontifical Mass in La Crosse; St. Michael’s Cathedral Mass Report; TLM Mass schedule

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (December 4, 2016):
December 4, 2016 – Second Sunday of Advent

YouTube Graduále Juventútem Michigan member Seth Michael Borders has undertaken an innovative project to assist Extraordinary Form choirs with learning the chants of the Mass: He has created a YouTube channel, the “YouTube Graduále”, which collects videos made by others of the choir’s chants for High Mass, grouped by Feast Day. For example, for today, the Second Sunday of Advent, his page appears as follows:

This effort will surely be appreciated by choir members seeking to prepare for chanting the Introit, Gradual/Tract/Alleluia, Offertory, and Communion Antiphons. Cardinal Burke to Celebrate Pontifical Mass in La Crosse

Cardinal Burke to Celebrate Pontifical Mass in La Crosse

His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke has been in the Catholic press quite a bit over the past month, primarily for his role with three other Cardinals in requesting that the Holy Father clarify some ambiguous elements of his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Lætítia. Cardinal Burke is well-known for his enthusiastic embrace of the Traditional Latin Mass. This coming Saturday, December 10 at 11:00 AM, Cardinal Burke will celebrate a Pontifical Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. While serving as Bishop of La Crosse, His Eminence spearheaded the construction of this striking, ornate church, which offers the Tridentine Mass every Sunday at 9:30 AM.

St. Michael’s Cathedral Mass Report

A reader requested a report on the Solemn High Tridentine Mass with Deacon and Subdeacon that was held at Toronto’s recently renovated St. Michael’s Cathedral on Sunday, October 30. While the “other” special cathedral Mass, at New York’s St. Patrick Cathedral on Monday, November 14, attracted much positive press, virtually nothing has been said about the Toronto Mass. The most detailed report available comes from blogger Julian Barkin, who supplied the below photo but noted that cathedral security was prohibiting photography at the Mass. This likely explains the paucity of additional photographs available.

The report confirmed that Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, sat in choir for the Mass and delivered the homily. Clergy and seminarians from the Archdiocese served the Mass. Music was provided by the St. Patrick Gregorian Choir, led by Toronto-area Tridentine Mass organizer Surinder Mundra. Let us pray that this important precedent will be the first of many Masses yet to come at this important church.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 12/05 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Advent)
  • Tue. 12/06 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (St. Nicholas, Bishop & Confessor)
  • Thu. 12/08 8:00 AM: Low Mass and 7:00 PM Solemn High Mass at St. Joseph (Immaculate Conception)
  • Thu. 12/08 12:00 Noon: High Mass at St. Edward on the Lake, Lakeport, Michigan (Immaculate Conception)
  • Sat. 12/10 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (Feria of Advent)
[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 December 4, 2016. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]

Tridentine Masses coming this week to metro Detroit and east Michigan

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week









* NB: The SSPX chapels among those Mass sites listed above are posted here because the Holy Father has announced that "those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins," and subsequently extended this privilege beyond the Year of Mercy. These chapels are not listed among the approved parishes and worship sites on archdiocesan websites.

Monday, November 28, 2016

John Vennari undergoes cancer surgery

Here is a note he wrote recently:
This is a note to tell my friends that I have to go into surgery on Saturday morning, November 26.

Cancer is a nasty beast, and it has caused an obstruction in the GI that must be addressed immediately. Immediately.

As noted already, my case has been serious from the start, and this latest problem came to a head at the same time I returned from three weeks of cancer treatment in Mexico.

I am presently not able to update my CFN webpage (I write this note from the hospital). I was blessed to receive the Sacrament of Extreme Unction this afternoon.

Please feel free to forward and/or post this, along with the link below that provides background and info for those who wish to share prayerful and financial support.

Thank you for all your prayers and support up until now. Please pray and ask others to pray, especially communities of religious and convents of nuns.

Am I am a little afraid of surgery? Who wouldn’t be? But I place my trust in Our and Our Lady, and take heart from all the kindness and concern I’ve received. Your outpouring of love has been astounding.

I may not be able to update for a few days.

Thank you.

John Vennari
[Hat tip to L.V.]

Shusaku Endo's book, Silence, now a movie

The Japanese Graham Greene's novel, Silence (Jap. 沈黙, 'Chinmoku'), is now a movie Directed by Martin Scorsese. Coming soon to a theater near you. I hope Scorsese keeps faith with the well-known novel.

[Hat tip to B.E.]

Related: "'Silence' = the antithesis of 'A Man for All Seasons'" (Rorate Cali, November 30, 2016).

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Tridentine Community News - St. Patrick Cathedral Mass report; First Communions at OCLMA on May 7; Bishop Dabrowski to visit St. Benedict on March 12; Confirmation registration at St. Benedict; TLM Mass schedule

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

Tridentine Community News by Alex Begin (November 27, 2016):
November 27, 2016 – First Sunday of Advent

St. Patrick Cathedral Mass Report

One of the most significant events in the history of the Traditional Latin Mass after Vatican II took place on Monday, November 14. As reported in the November 6 edition of this column, the first Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form at New York’s St. Patrick Cathedral to held in 20 years took place that evening. Despite only two weeks’ advance notice for the event and a very limited amount of advance publicity, approximately 1,000 faithful were in attendance. The recently renovated and restored building was ideally suited for the Traditional Mass. Fr. Leonard Villa was the celebrant, a large professional-grade choir assembled for the event sang Orlando di Lassus’ Missa Bell’ Amfitrit’ altera, and many familiar faces from Manhattan’s Holy Innocents Parish served the Mass.

Metro Detroit was represented by former St. Josaphat parishioner William Yap, now a resident of Long Island, vested and in procession as a Knight of Malta; and by this author, attending in the congregation. St. Patrick Cathedral Rector Msgr. Robert Ritchie welcomed the pilgrims and seemed impressed by the turnout. Kudos are due to the Knights of Columbus councils that organized the event in spite of the political challenges that stood in the way.

We’ve saved the best part for last: Another Tridentine Mass has apparently already been scheduled at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in February.

First Communions at OCLMA on May 7

First Holy Communions at the Oakland County Latin Mass Association will be held on Sunday, May 7, 2017 at the 9:45 AM Mass at the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Bloomfield Hills. Parents of children who are interested in receiving First Communion on that date are requested to make arrangements with Msgr. Browne, or e-mail, or call (248) 250-2740.

Bishop Dabrowski to Visit St. Benedict on March 12

Diocese of London, Ontario Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Dabrowski will make his first visit to the St. Benedict Tridentine Community on Sunday, March 12, when he will attend the 2:00 PM Mass at St. Alphonsus Church in Windsor. Mark your calendars to join us for Mass that day. Confirmation Registration at St. Benedict

The St. Benedict Tridentine Community is collecting names of children and adults who are interested in receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation according to the Extraordinary Form. Please sign up on the form available at the back of both St. Alphonsus and Holy Name of Mary Churches, or e-mail, or call (519) 734-1335.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 11/28 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Advent)
  • Tue. 11/29 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Holy Name of Mary, Windsor (Feria of Advent)
  • Fri. 12/02 7:00 PM: High Mass at Old St. Mary’s, Detroit (St. Vivian, Virgin & Martyr) – First Friday – Devotions precede Mass; Reception will follow Mass in the Parish Hall
  • Fri. 12/02 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph, Sarnia, Ontario (St. Vivian, Virgin & Martyr) – First Friday
  • Fri. 12/02 7:00 PM: High Mass at St. Joseph, Detroit (St. Vivian, Virgin & Martyr) – First Friday
  • Sat. 12/03 8:30 AM: Low Mass at Miles Christi (St. Francis Xavier, Confessor)
[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 27, 2016. Hat tip to Alex Begin, author of the column.]