Friday, March 31
A reader sends me a link to a new discussion board which hopes to be a center of contact for the Anglican tradition -- the ECUSA, the Anglican Communion, Independant Anglicans, Anglican-Use Catholics, and that most bizzare phenemon, the "Western-Rite Orthodox."
There are some interesting posts on the use of Facebook for evangelization, vaguely heretical hymnody, etc.
Perhaps a discussion, inspired by the comments on my last post, could be started on the merit of loving the Catholic Church outside her official structures.
CantuerburyForum.com: "Don't be the last person in your deanery to check it out."
This looks like it would be a mural entitled "Church and State."
Thursday, March 30
And now, it seems, with modern man existentially free to do whatever he wants and ignore the despotism of priests telling him what to do every minute of the day (funny, it never happens to me), he goes instead and asks a "life coach" for affirmation and advice. Yeah, modern man has decided he needs a spiritual director, and without the supervision of Holy Mother Church, has completely gotten it wrong. Not to mention, once again, making it cost good money. Quoting from this article:
"The difference between life coaching and psychotherapy is that therapy is about helping people heal their wounds and coaching is about helping people achieve the highest level of their fulfillment or happiness or success, whether they're wounded or not." He reportedly makes $40,000 a month saying things like that to members of rock bands. Clearly, it's a good gig.I guess the problem is if you asked a priest, it'd be free advice, and worse yet, it might hurt. We can't have that, can we? If Catholicism didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent it: and the fact that whenever we do try to re-invent it something gets screwed up testifies to both the God-shaped hole in our consciousness, and that it took Divine guidance to get it right the time it happened for real.
A Tribute to Anglo-Catholics
Our church is mighty spikey with smells and bells and chants,
And Palestrina masses that vex the Protestants.
O happy ones and holy who fall upon their knees
For solemn Benediction and mid-week Rosaries.
Though with a scornful wonder men see our clergy, dressed
In rich brocaded vestments as slowly they process;
Yet saints their watch are keeping lest souls be set alight
Not by the Holy Spirit, but incense taking flight.
Read the rest here.
(HT: Fr. Tucker)
Wednesday, March 29
Be careful with dumb Polish jokes: that generality doesn't pan out in reality.
"What a year it's been..."
I never thought this day would come...
Initial glances indicate a very uninclusive translation: "Chapter One: Man's Capacity for God." Can't complain about that.
Apparently, I'm the only person in the world who ordered a hardcover copy, and that's the reason I was waitlisted for another month.
Dan, however, found a softcover copy of the Compendium yesterday. At a used book sale. For 1/2 the cover price. Fortunately, it was a softcover edition, or we would no longer be on friendly terms... : )
My world completely lacks any justice.
Another John Paul II Miracle Reported in the US
(Via Catholic Ragemonkey)
Tracking numbers are beautiful things...
That's "Christ our God to earth descendETH," thank you very much.
Part of it reads rather like an examination of conscience for your hymnal:
- Do our liturgical songs fail at times to present the Trinity as the central mystery of the Christian faith?
- Does the language used in referring to the Persons of the Trinity contribute at times to a lack of clarity?
- Is there a reluctance to use “Father” for the first person of the Blessed Trinity?
- Is Jesus the Savior often overshadowed by Jesus the teacher, model, friend, and brother?
- Is there an imbalance in our emphasis on the humanity or divinity of Jesus Christ?
- Do the texts give insufficient emphasis to God’s initiative in the world with a corresponding overemphasis on human action?
They go on to pick on a few specific hymns, such as the following:
Sing Praise to Our Creator
The original text spoke of being “baptized into his grace,” but was changed for the sake of vertical inclusively to: “baptized in living grace.” What does this mean?
"What does this mean?" I think we've all been wondering that for a long time. Glad they're finally asking.
(HT: several blogs, including this one, and an IM conversation)
Tuesday, March 28
An interview with the Sr. Maria of the Cross, editor of The Summit Choirbook:
"You mention the difficulty in finding a publisher for the Choirbook. What was the state of Church music at the time you were working on it?
Most of the music was absolutely awful, and I made efforts to destroy certain things, although some were used."
From The Crescat
Since anyone who's been reading this blog for more than a couple years is obviously a fan of long-winded European travelogs, I thought I'd pass on this blog from another Catholic Domer abroad, Sacra Cracovia.
Monday, March 27
Oprah ceded the rest of the show as St. Augustine riveted the audience with a lengthy explication on the relevance of The City of God, On Free Will, and On the Holy Trinity in the present day. At the end of the show, ecstatic audience participants found copies of Confessions under their seats, and rushed the stage for autographs
Oh! An Email! Let's see...
Hello from Amazon.com.
We wanted to let you know that there is a delay with some items in the order you placed.
That must be why I've not gotten my Scott Hahn book yet.
Let's click on the link, just to double check...
|Delayed items--your approval required|| |
When In Rome
The Grand Inquisitor has, fortunately, taken Lent as a wonderful opporunity to make up for the polyester overlay stole incident. More on his taking-possession of S. Maria in Domnica alla Navicella.
Religious education is by far the greatest weakness--and greatest need--of the American Church. Why our leaders expect to continue needing priests or buildings when they so frequently fail to form new Christians, I have no idea. Anyway, for this reason, I usually teach CCD somewhere.
This year I led a small group of 10 confirmation candidates. Everyone who ran the program was hardworking and well-intentioned, but we met a total of about 10 times for the year, with 30 minutes of lesson time per meeting. I was (and generally am) very pessimistic that anyone's life can be changed drastically in the course of 6 hours spread over 6 months. This assumes, of course, that one (1) know what one's talking about, and (2) isn't using a very insulting catechetical text which does nothing but superimpose sacchrine "personal stories" with pictures of waterfalls and, "to conform with the CCC," bolded Catholic buzzwords.
But something went wrong yesterday, at our last class: almost all of them listened to the lesson. They heard the jokes, they shared some banter, and--this really surprised me--answered almost every question I put to them. And it wasn't just one or two of the students, but the majority--some of whom dozed through our first sessions.
Here was the lesson. I gave it as a discussion instead of a lecture, but these were my notes. With apologies to De Trinitate...
In the beginning, there was nothing but God. (How many Gods?) God exists forever in a certain way; just as we are one person, but with a body, a mind with which we know our body, and a spirit with which we can think and love in the way that only humans can think and love, so God exists forever (the Father) with a mind that knows himself (the Son) and a perfect love (the Holy Spirit). (What is this called? The Trinity). This is what we mean when we say that God is Love.
We read from the book of Genesis. God created the whole world from nothing, and called it good; then he made humanity, and called it very good. Humans are unique, because we can know and love in a way which the animals cannot—because we have... (What? A Soul). Because the soul is immaterial, it can't decay; it's eternal. However, in the story, Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, and in disobeying God they twisted their ability to love (Also called what? Original sin.)
We saw, in Genesis, that sinful humanity became different than original humanity. (What were the effects?) Adam and Eve became ashamed, their children sinned very easily and very seriously, killing each other, and all became ignorant of God. We discussed hell: hell is the inability to love God properly. We are always in the presence of God, because God is everywhere; God is in hell. But if we are not in friendship with God, if we love wrongly/commit sin, we cannot enjoy his presence. Just like how C.S. Lewis descibed those dwarves who were sitting, miserable, in a circle, even after Aslan created a perfect world, souls who are not in friendship with God will not enjoy heaven: the afterlife will be hellish.
Because God is Love, however, God wanted to bring us into a friendship with him. Therefore, because we had become ignorant of him, he needed to reveal himself to us again (What is this called? Divine Revelation). God revealed himself first to the Isrealites (What is that part of the Bible called? Old Testament). The must important lesson from the Old Testament for us is when the Israelites were slaves in
Hundreds of years later, God saved all the world. He repeated the Paschal Mystery in a new way. An angel appeared to the Virgin Mary, asking her to become the Mother of God (What do we call this? The Annunciation). Sin distracts us from God, it makes it difficult to say “yes” to God; therefore, Mary was prepared from the beginning of her life to say “yes” to God because God saved her from sin at her conception; Mary never sinned (What is this called? The Immaculate Conception). Fortunately, Mary said yes.
At that moment, the eternal God the Son entered into her womb and became a human being (What is that process called? The Incarnation. Did you know we don't believe in Reincarnation? And what was this person named? Jesus Christ, true God and true man). Jesus Christ, because he was God, was able to reveal God to us in a human way; he is the ultimate and perfect Divine Revelation, the final answer to the ignorance about God caused by original sin. Most people in the world believe in God: that is nothing special. But Christians are those who believe what Jesus Christ told us about God. He taught the twelve Apostles all of God’s teaching, and they handed it on to us (In what two forms? Written/New Testament And? Oral tradition. How do we know what is actually oral tradition, what Jesus Christ actually taught? From the historical record. And what is the difference between what we know the Apostles taught and what the Protestant "denominations" believe he taught? They ignore the historical record).
At the end of his life, Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins. We call Jesus “the Lamb of God” at Mass because, like the lambs of old, he allowed himself to be sacrificed to save his people. For Passover, the Jews offered the lamb, killed it, and God accepted the lamb. (When did Jesus offer himself to the Father? the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal; When was he killed? the Crucifixion, which happened as the Passover Lambs were killed; How do we know the Father accepted his sacrifice? the Resurrection).
Christ died for all people, but just like the Israelites needed to be marked with the blood of the Lamb, we also need to be marked by the blood of the Lamb of God to apply this forgiveness to ourselves. The Death of Christ, and the Resurrection, those parts of His sacrifice obviously can never be repeated: they are once and for all. But the Last supper can be repeated, and it is repeated (When? At the Mass). After the passover, the Israelites were confirmed as God's people as they walked through the Red Sea. We are saved when we are also marked as a community through baptism, and when we are marked with the blood of the Lamb. This is why the Bible says that we must receive the Eucharist to have life within us (John 6). If we live our lives faithful to the 10 commandments, if we avoid sin and let our spiritual life be fed in the Eucharist, we will be made holy: whereas the Original Sin made us love poorly, made us likely to sin, a life faithful to prayer and the sacraments will lead us to God’s friendship: it will lead us to love God above all things, to avoid sin, and above all to enjoy his presence, to be able to enjoy heaven.
This transformation is not simply our own accomplishment; trying to do the right things will not be enough. Our hearts are broken--not necessarily in the romantic sense--and so they love poorly; they must be restored, and this is done by God. Remember that I said the Holy Spirit is the love of God. God infuses our broken hearts, which can no longer love Him above all things and love our neighbors as ourselves, he infuses our broken hearts with the Holy Spirit itself, with His Love (What do we call this? [Uncreated] Grace, the life and love of God within us).
This is what makes confirmation so essential. After Jesus rose from the dead, he created a "church"--the Greek word was “community.” This community, the Church, was led by the 12 apostles; they spread throughout the whole world, to
The Apostles did their work well, and Christianity spread to 1/3 of the population of earth. We talked about how many centuries ago each one of your families converted to Christianity, and how every single generation of your family has believed that Christianity was so important, they had to pass it on to their children. Is your faith important enough to you that you would pass it to your children? Are you alienated from God by ignorance, or by loving the wrong things—by sinful choices? Do you feel you are in a strong enough friendship with God that you could enjoy his presence forever? There are easy ways to do this: above all, take the Eucharist seriously. For 10 minutes after communion, Jesus Christ is inside of you. That only matters if you take the opportunity to get to know him, to offer him your life, to beg him to make himself real to you. In order to get to know him better, study his life by reading the bible, pray his life by praying the Rosary. Live to be a saint: I can say that I remember the day I realized I knew nothing about God, but I wanted to. That day changed my life; and since then, I can say, with Pope Benedict, that it is a joy to be a Christian.
Sunday, March 26
... I'm continually amazed they don't see it themselves:
More than 25,000 evangelical Christian youth landed Friday in San Francisco for a two-day rally at AT&T Park against "the virtue terrorism" of popular culture...
Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, [said] that while such fundamentalists may be small in number, "they're loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting, and they should get out of San Francisco."
San Francisco's left -- from abortion-rights advocates to anti-war activists to atheists -- who staged Friday's counterprotest. "There is a real intolerancy to homosexuality in a lot of these organizations," said Peter Cobb.
The Biggest Guadalupe Shrine in all Wisconsin continues to rise in the hillside.
They should move the tilma there.
Saturday, March 25
Rocco has information on this year's winner of ND's Laetare Medal.
Incidentally, it being a solemnity, you can do whatever you gave up for Lent to celebrate. Within reason, of course, and presuming you didn't give up, oh, setting other people's houses on fire or something.
Friday, March 24
God, the unmoved and infinite Creator, desires, for love of you, to draw you into the furnace of Divine Life, the very center of that storm which is the inner life of the Divine Trinity; because of the dignity of this gift to which you are called, He has sent His own Son, divine, to become Man and--in giving His life for your salvation--to become the very image of Love poured out, an icon of the Trinity, a source of eternal joy.
The Church also has Another Message for the World:
Lace can be manly.
Jean-Pierre Cardinal Ricard has a simple rochet with his red robes: classic block-pattern typical of post-Conciliar lace, but with a twist.
On a scale of 1-10, a solid 6. Definitely manly, rather bland.
The primary virtue of Canizares Cardinal Llovera's rochet is that, while it looks like it should be a floral pattern, thankfully it's not. Nice, but light on manliness. I give it a 4.
Andrea Cardinal Montezemolo has a rochet's rochet, in no danger of looking either like a surplice or a spiderweb. Interesting but straightforward, an 8.
Holy See Squares
"Alright Sr. Bruno, for the center square... Cardinal Dziwics thinks under no circumstances may a single man hold two diocesan sees in the modern Church. Do you agree?"
Wednesday, March 22
According to ZENIT:
The 200-page Compendium summarizes key points of the 1992 Catechism. Available March 31, it is being published in the United States, in English and Spanish, by USCCB Publishing.
Zenit, I trust you! Don't lie to me! I still remember that day in July of Last Year when it was released in Italian. I call fondly to mind that day in September when I placed my first order. I curse that day in October when they first pushed back the publication day. There was the bitter disapointment of the Brits getting their version of the Compendium in, like, January. Resigned, I remember renewing my order with Amazon for the third time this last February.
Zenit, could it be? I've heard people say that there's a Compendium for everyone, but I'd honestly started to doubt. I wondered if, well, maybe, God didn't have Compendium in my future. Oh, someday my Compendium will come! In the meantime, they only have 9 more days to postpone its publication.
Tuesday, March 21
Commentary on the Arlington Indults
Monday, March 20
Don Jim posts a site which reveals the surprising truth:
"The original creators of comics, 60 or 70 years ago, were almost all Jewish and Italian kids from various parts of New York," notes DC Comics Executive Vice President and Publisher Paul Levitz. "And the characters they created were pseudo-whitebread Episcopalian. It was almost de rigueur back then to paint people in this idealized American image."
For the first time in my life, I have seen the travesty of Mary-worship.
It really is a travesty, because--aside from being idolatry...--worshipping Mary destroys the entire Christian understanding of relations between the human and the divine (insofar as "Catholic" is the full expression of "Christian"). So long as Mary is human, she, as icon of the Church and examplar of Christians, shows, through her life, that wonderful relation which the Heavenly Father desires to have with all of us--our complete, enraptured devotion, which He crowns with the beauty of His grace, a share in His Life and Glory. When Mary is worshipped, either she is completely alienated from the community of Christians for whom she was examplar, or the community itself is worshipped, declared to be properly divine.
Ironically, it was Protestants worshipping her.
They day will soon come when Catholics get crap from Protestants for not worshipping Mary.
Sunday, March 19
In light of the Gospel assigned to the third Sunday of Lent in Year A (we used it today at my home parish for the Scrutiny rather than the Year B readings), this entry in The Book of Saints compiled by the Benedictine Monks of Ramsgate is particularly intriguing. The feast-day given is March 20, tomorrow:
Photina, Joseph, Victor, Sebastian, Anatolius, Photius, Photis (Photides), Parasceve and Cyriaca (SS) MM.
[Date unknown]. This group of martyrs constitutes a historical puzzle. The Greek tradition identifies Photina with the Samaritan woman of St. John's gospel (ch. 4) and makes Joseph and Victor her sons. They are alleged to have been martyred with other Christians at Rome under Nero. Baronius may have put them in the RM [Roman Martyrology] because he believed that the head of St. Photina was preserved at St. Paul's outside the Walls.
The body, and the experience of the body, is the primal revelation of God which we encounter: we realize that there are "other people" out there, not under the control of our subjectivity yet acting very much as we act. From this we conclude that there are other people experiencing a life like that which we ourselves experience. In our relations with these people, we discover--in the experience of embodied sexuality--a hint of what it means to interact with another completely, in a very physical sense. This experience of self-gift to those "others" around us prepares us to understand the nature of a more complete gift of self, a spiritual nuptiality, which naturally arises from sexuality. And, as the Song of Songs shows us, this encounter with nuptiality teaches us about our proper relation to God--one of complete self-gift in body, soul, and spirit. With the advent of uniquely Christian revelation, we see that the lesson of nuptiality in fact describes the very inner relations of God Himself.
That's how it works. But, of course, we keep messing with it. There is marital congress which doesn't give rise to fruitfulness (that fruitful of children which mirrors the procession of Holy Spirit). We can manipulate this temporary infertility through timed abstinence, so as to significantly lessen the possibility of childbirth--NFP. Recently I was asked, "why is it OK to use astronomy to prevent childbirth, but not physics?" Why can we limit family size with calendars but not condoms?
Well, my answer was, essentially, that the good thing about NFP is that it doesn't work: there is always a chance that childbirth will result, and so therefore the parents are still open to life. Loving sacraments as I do, I think I was pre-disposed to think that this position was emminently rational: it's just like using mustum for Mass; the grape juice has almost no alcoholic content, but it's still OK to use because it has't been pastuerized and therefore turned irrevokably into grape juice--it might still be wine.
My audience was not similarly convinced. They pointed out that NFP is often promoted by Catholics as more effective than condoms. Certainly, NFP can be used with a contraceptive mentality alien to the "spirit of the no-contraception law."
Does anyone have a more articulate answer as to why having a big family, but occasionally using condoms (which may fail), is bad, while having a big family and just as frequently using NFP (which some claim is more effective) is OK?
As the dispersed Shrine celebrated spring break, many of you may have missed out on Minor Triduum!
March 17: St. Patty's Day. "It's the least ecumenical day... of the year!" Some of our number attended their first party hosted by really, really enthusiastic Irish folk. Actual imported shaleighlies were present (I don't know how it's spelled... In Glarus, they used halberds). I still feel an Irish Car Bomb in the pit of my stomach.
March 18: Girlfriend's Birthday!
March 19: St. Joseph's Day. Actual zeppoli (not imported) were present. Much more agreeable to the head than the aforementioned shaleighly. We brought our St. Joe vigil candle to the airport. If you were caught stupidly unprepared, here is a prayer for you to say to him right now (Partial indulgence for venerating a saint on his feastday!):
O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.
O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers.
O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen
(Reputedly, this prayer is 1,900 years old. You and your textual criticism can take a hike.)
Because of reduced Internet time, I invited people to submit things to be posted--so that people visiting this blog would still have something to read.
Here are the contributions sent in so far:
Catholic Youth Concert
"Several laity and priests are bringing in an ALL DAY CATHOLIC YOUTH CONCERT in Michigan City at the Marquette Catholic High School, August 19th."
This guy followed five seminarians through one year of seminary, to tell the story of priesthood and the calling to religious life in a way that this story hasn't been told before.
On a different note, the Episcopal Church is struggling to find young men to become priests, married or not. They ordain about 25 a year, nationally.*
*Go out of your way and meet an real Anglo-Catholic today. The more I meet, the more I like them. And feel bad for the condition of their ecclesial community.
Vatican Ski Team!
Granted, it was a while back...
But did you hear about the Vatican Ski Team's performance at Turin???
Well... That might be why...
(Actually, it was a recent competition in Poland. Thanks to Nancy, who sent them in. Photos courtesy PAP/Andrzej Grygiel.)
Really, almost too true to be Funny
Kathleen fears American schism.
You call yourself Catholic...
But you don't even know what the brand new cycle of Papal Audiences is about???
Reader Michael Barber, a PhD student at Fuller, rectifies your sad ignorance.
Matt's Take on the Breakfast Sandwich
1 small chorizo sausage
1 jar of fig preserves
1 hotdog bun
Punch holes to vent in chorizo with fork. Place chorizo in microwave on high for 35 seconds. Spread fig jam on hotdog bun, place chorizo in bun and enjoy. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it.
Friday, March 17
Further Developments in the Matter of SSPX Reunion
The earliest editions of the Legenda Aurea of Blessed Jacobus de Voragine have a short and wildly inaccurate entry on St. Patrick, which places the holy man, most bizarrely, in Scotland. Nonetheless, it also includes a little legend which is at once so stoic and charmingly klutzy as to be too strange to make up. It seems the holy man was baptizing one of the chieftains of the Irish, a tough old bird if ever there was one. So Patrick paused for a moment to roll up his sleeves to pour the water over the chief's head, and stuck the sharp point of his crozier in the soft earth to keep his hands free. (You may recall that the ferrule on a crozier, the sharp business end of the shepherd's staff, is symbolically meant to encourage a bishop's flock.) So he paused for a moment to ready himself, picked up the basin to pour the water, and realized he had thrust his staff, not into the earth, but right through the old king's foot, and the rough, hardy old fellow, thinking it was part of the ceremony, hadn't said a word.
I imagine he apologized next. But there's something in that story which says a lot about the Irish--their hardiness, their strength, and their traditional willingness to do just about anything for God. And that they enjoy a good punchline, too.
Wednesday, March 15
Our learned friend Horace Rumpole will not stand for this. At least I hope he wouldn't.
Friends! Romans! Reggie!
Also, in honor of Julius Caesar getting stabbed to death on the site of what is now the No. 8 tram line, here's a link to my own brush with Reggie Magnus himself some years back in Rome.
Tuesday, March 14
There is one form of truly universal suffrage--the ability to rear children. Whether biologically, through adoption, or spiritually, every human person gets to vote on the world of the future by how they rear children.
And it turns out that secular humanists opted not to vote.
Vatican Art Exhibit
The Milwaukee Art Museum is hosting the "St. Peter and the Vatican: Legacy of the Popes" art exhibition. The Shrine visited the exhibition in two phases, actually; some of us went up to Milwaukee a week or two earlier, others went this week.
Interestingly, when the second group went to the exhibit, all the adults were strictly warned not to touch a thing. "We've had problems with adults... touching...," explained the docents. They seem to have begun giving this warning after the first group from the Shrine visited the exhibition... and attempted (unsuccessfully) to venerate a relic or two.
The exhibit is a boon for Christianity.* I've been to similar events, and often the guides tell you little more than the artist, date of creation, and medium of the art. But, in stark contrast, this exhibit was very well presented: each audio entry made a clear theological point, and the constant Apostolic succession of the papacy from Peter to Benedict was strongly emphasized. Biblical evidence for the papacy ("Tu es Petrus," "To you I give the keys to the kingdom of heaven") was cited. The doctrine of the Eucharist, the history of the early Church, the actions of various laudable (and less laudable) pontiffs were explained... I was very pleased with the accuracy and catechetical value of the audio guide. The docents, though not Catholic, were nonetheless very well trained: I heard one lady explain the proper use of the faldstool.
- Faldstool of John XXIII
- More tiaras than I could shake a stick at
- An ancient mosaic of Peter that looks eerily like Benedict XVI
- The Jubilee Cope (of which I am a fan)
- The famous Pastoral Staff of JPG
- The very urns used to count the ballots at the last papal election
- The candle formerly burned at papal coronations**
- The Mandylion of Edessa
- The protodeacon's bachalus
- The Keys of St. Peter!!!!***
- A Liturgical "Pax" (osculatorium)****
- An original of St. Xavier's writings, translated to Tamil
- Chair from the
- FLABELLA!! (liturgical fans)
If you can drive within a day to go to this exhibit, do it.
One question, though: We saw the "Eucharistic Casket of Pius XII." What does that do that a tabernacle wouldn't do?
* The gift shop was wonderfully stocked with catechisms, introductions to Catholicism, holy cards, rosaries, biographies of John Paul the Great, crucifixes... at a public museum! I saw at least one lady buy "Why do Catholics Do That" (a fine, fine tome) at my recommendation, saying "I've forgotten a lot."
** "Sicut transit gloria mundi"
*** I was formerly unaware that an official, liturgical set of keys (one gold, one silver) actually existed! They were given to the pope at his coronation, recalling when Christ (verbally) did the same to Peter, of course. These were particularly awesome to see.
****Read about these: they are one of those Catholic customs that you just can't make up. I was surprised to learn that they were still in use for prelatial low Mass until the 1965 reforms!
Sunday, March 12
Thursday, March 9
The evil of sexual abuse in the Church cannot be understated. It is almost unparalleled.
Yet, the abuse and neglect suffered by elder religious in the wake of the "renewals" of their congregations often comes close. Given the narcissistic nature of some post-Conciliar reformations in congregations of Catholic priests and nuns, it is not surprising that the reformers of the 1970's forgot about or distained the elderly members of their communities. But the degree to which it happened is surprising, a hidden tragedy and true scandal.
The Congregation for Religious recieved these complaints in 1970 about the School Sisters of St. Francis, (once?) headquartered in Milwaukee, WI:
"Sisers who have given fifty or more years of service are forced to live in dependence upon the crumbs that fall from the table" of the younger sisters.
"Buildings intended for the use of retired sisters are offered for sale" by the younger sisters "because it is more economical to put the sisters in the cramped quarters of a nursing home."
"All habits were taken away from the sisters on this floor" by the younger sisters. "To some its a heartbreak, and tears were shed."
Quoted by "The Battle for the American Church," by Msgr. George Kelly, p. 279
Some things truly anger me. The abuse suffered by these now-dead sisters, who taught my grandparents and parents, truly angers me. The fact that no one knows about this abuse also angers me.
People deserve to know.
[The Ecclesiological Society's] vigor in examining and defining every detail of the medieval church was enormous, so much so that its Ecclesiologist published [...] heated debates [on] an invention called an "Orientator" that allowed one to determine whether or not a church faced exactly East.But my question is, where can I get one?
Wednesday, March 8
A Commentary on Today's Gospel
" 'This generation seeks a sign.' We also wait for a demonstration, a sign of success, in the history of the world as much as in our personal life. Consequently, we wonder whether Christianity has transformed the world, whether it has produced that sign of bread and of security that the devil spoke about in the desert (Mt 4:3). Following Karl Marx's argumentation, Christianity has had enough time to establish the proof of its principles, to give a proof of its success, to demonstrate that it has created the earthly paradise. According to Marx, after all this time, it would thus be necessary from now on to base oneself on other principles.
"This argumentation does not fail to impress many Christians, and many think that it is at least necessary to invent a very different Christianity, one that renounces the luxury of interiority, of a spiritual life. But that is precisely how they prevent the true transformation of the world, which has its origin in a new heart, a vigilant heart, a heart that is open to the truth and to love, a heart that is liberated and free.
"Selfishness, the impurity of a heart that expects nothing from God except personal success and help in affirming the absoluteness of self, is at the root of that corrupt demand for a sign. This form of religiosity is a fundamental refusal of conversion. But how often do we ourselves not depend on a sign of success! How often do we not demand a sign and refuse conversion!"
Tuesday, March 7
Does Chuck Norris Exist via Eagle and Elephant.
Objection 1. It seems that Chuck Norris does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word "Chuck Norris roundhouse kick" means that it is infinite painfulness. If, therefore, Chuck Norris existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore Chuck Norris does not exist.
On the contrary, It is said of Chuck Norris: "He hath counted to infinity - twice." (www.chucknorrisfacts.com)
I answer that, the existence of Chuck Norris can be proved in five ways . .
Benedict XVI = Batman
Monday, March 6
And now it's time to play...
Find a professional Classicist and tell him or her that you've often heard "liturgia" translated as the Greek word for "work of the people."
If they are anything like the PhD candidate I asked, watch their face as they react with surprise and disgust.
Sunday, March 5
A Mystical Crucifixion with Our Mother the Church and St. Monica of Tagaste Bearing the Flaming Heart of her Son. Matthew Alderman, ink on paper, 11 x 17 inches, January 2006.
I do not know if the term Mystical Crucifixion has been used in art before now. I derived it from a parallelism with the Mystical Nativity of Flemish art, the iconography of which derives principally from the private revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden. Here, I use it to mean an image which, while not representing the historical reality of the Crucifixion nonetheless serves to shed light on its deeper ontological reality. I have tried to emphasize this difference by diverging from the historical titulus over the Cross, INRI, and replaced it with an abbreviated macaronic Latin-Greek inscription reading, "Jesus Christ the Nazarene, King of Glory," a variant on the inscription typically used on Byzantine crucifixes.
The cross is now transformed into a still-barren Edenic Tree of Life, the ultimate progenitor, legend has it, of the tree that the cross was cut from. Christ's crucifixion on the tree references numerous hymns and poetry that link these two icons of resurrection and life, as well as the concept that through Christ, all God's creation has been purified, that matter too can be a vehicle for God's plan. This concept is also expressed by another medieval borrowing, that of the weeping sun and moon shown overhead. All Nature cries out at Christ's death, and is remade by His resurrection. Even now, some plants have begun to spring up at the foot of the cross, overshadowing the skull of Golgotha, a punning reference often taken to refer to the skull of Adam, and by extension, the "old man" of sin put to death by Christ's sacrifice.
The barren tree is also intended to refer to "hintings" of Christ's crucifixion one finds throughout pre-Christian pagan cultures, perhaps through the quiet actions of Divine Providence. In particular, there is the World Ash Tree, Yggdrasil, of Norse mythology. Oðin was said to have hung on it nine days, pierced with his own spear, in exchange for gaining wisdom and knowledge. Yggdrasil was said to rain honey on the world like the Heavens rained holy dew (Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum), as the Psalmist says. Incidentally, a late addition to Nordic myth--thought to be a deliberate borrowing from Christianity's belief in a new heaven and a new earth--has mankind being restored after the apocalyptic Ragnarök by a man and woman sheltered within the World Ash and nourished on dew. (The Ash also gets a cameo appearance in one of the White Witch's rants in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.)
On a more personal note, the outlines of barren trees against the bright winter sky have always fascinated me, and remain embedded in my mind as a private symbol of the quiet and sometimes unsettling beauty of the Midwest. There are few things stranger than the contorted shapes of their branches, and yet hardly anyone bothers to notice them. They are symbols of the sublime and oft-forgotten weirdness of the everyday--and as a consequence, of God's providence.
The pose of the crucified Christ is derived from several medieval models. In particular, the Isenheim Altarpiece of Mathis Gothart, called Grünewald, was a prime influence. However, I wished to find a balance between the--justifiably shocking--reality of Grünewald's nightmare world, and the serenity and stoicism of other crucifixes, such as Nicholas Gerhaerts van Leyden's monumental funerary stone Crucifixus of 1467, another major influence. The heavy, thick contortions of the crown of thorns are largely derved from this model.
Two women stand below the cross. On Christ's right is a young woman, crowned, dress in rich robes. She holds a chalice that catches Christ's blood flowing from his side. She represents the Church, born from Christ's side on Calvary as Eve was drawm from the side of Adam, and it is on Calvary that their marriage is consummated. The chalice is the Grail, which legendarily was said to have been used by Christ at the Last Supper, and also is appropriately associated here with the Church, Her feminine nature symbolized by that which contains holiness, that She, too, is a vessel of devotion as the Virgin is.
On Christ's left is St. Monica. There has been some debate as to the race of St. Augustine and St. Monica; while may never know the ethnic background of St. Augustine's father for certain, the name Monica, I have been told, is associated with the Berber tribesmen of North Africa. (This may or may not be true.) She is, as a consequence, depicted in the traditional costume of this proud people. She bears in one hand the flaming heart associated with her son, Augustine, and perhaps also appropriate for her, as well, manifesting the big-heartedness and ardurous trust in God's power that led her to continue to pray for her son long after he had drifted away from the Faith.
This work was created for a friend with a strong devotion to St. Monica, and thus the iconography expressed is more specific and personal than other works. However, given that much, if not all, of the religious art of medieval days still extant has a similarly personal edge in its allusions to the donors who sonsored such images and prayed before them, I hope that this piece's broader significance is nonetheless evident.
(I am disappointed though, after all that searching, to discover Wikipedia has nothing on Manichaean melonolatry...)
Saturday, March 4
Benedict loved the Papal Radio Station, but he did wonder why the artwork had been apparently inspired by the title sequence to Babylon 5.
All-Singing, All-Dancing, All-Godzilla
First me, and now the Pope. He's got one, too. Talk about a POD iPod.
Women in the Church
Monument to Matilda of Tuscany, St. Peter's Basilica
Recently, two statements of the Pope have attracted much attention--one in the blogosphere, and another in the mainstream media. The first is, of course, Benedict's apparent decision to drop the title of Patriarch of the West, less a statement than the absence of one. Of this, much cybernetic ink has already been spilled. What I find more intriguing--and perhaps even more of an insight into Benedict's complex mind--is his recent remarks on the subject of the role of women in church governance. Essentially, what the Pontiff said was he was considering the nature of women's role in the Church, particularly the institutional aspects of that role. He cited women's "charisma"--presumably what JP the Great meant by "feminine genius"--as a powerful force in the history of the Church, and referred to Mother Teresa and St. Catherine of Siena as well.
The media, of course, has written about this with a stunned, breathless excitement, always bringing in the little caveat at the end that he's not talking about priestesses or anything like that. I suppose to them it'd be like Archie Bunker putting in a plug for the Equal Rights Amendment. For those of us in the know, it's really no surprise; Benedict and JP II before him have long had an appreciation for the key role that women play in the Church. Heck, there was a whole encyclical about it, Mulieris Dignitatem. In particular, Benedict's close friendship with right-hand woman Ingrid Stampa is a good example of the man's aptitude for the feminine genius.
Benedict's papacy has been full of what must seem to the world an astonishing number of curve-balls; one supposes they expected that the moment the Grand Inquisitor came to power the Church's internal clock would be re-set to 1959, by force of arms if necessary. (A more careful study of the American Church's apparent golden age indicates that, like any era, there was a lot more going on, both for good and for ill, than most people realize: we may have had Fulton Sheen, but we also had the beginnings of weird liturgical experimentation and the Kennedys.) However, comments such as these show that Benedict knows well that mere cultural restorationism is not the answer to the world's ills. What is needed is not June Cleaver or Donna Reed but the hard-headed, world-wise mysticism of Teresa of Avila.
Women have certainly had a powerful, if backstage, role in Church politics and church governance for ages. To belittle their contribution would be a vast injustice. Every parish runs on the strength of that tireless, undervalued and often ignored team of busy ladies who chair the sodalities, answer the phones, teach catechism, or (nowadays) sit on the parish council. There was Countess Matilda of Tuscany who saved the Papal States. On the other hand, the nay-sayers will doubtlessly mention there was the senatrix Marozia, who nearly made them a joke. Of course, many more men, and priests too, have done just as ill in their efforts to pull strings in the papal curia. Institutionalizing a feminine role would aid the Matildas, I'd think, and dissuade any would-be Marozias (I rather doubt there are that many of them these days!) from taking an underhanded path.
What sort of institutional role is the Pope talking about? It's difficult to say, for sure. I'd imagine positions in the Curia, either local or Roman, would make sense, and grant greater recognition to the roles that women, lay and professed, have played in the Church, especially since,in ages past, they often gotten short-changed. This is less a problem of Church doctrine--as it is at the height of the Middle Ages that one finds the age of the great abbesses, and only when a more secular outlook is in the ascendant do the great uppity women of the Middle Ages mysteriously vanish. The Medieval epoch had Joan of Arc, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the ladies of the Order of the Hatchet and the militissae of Bologna, Christine de Pisan, Hildegard and Catherine, while after 1500, we have, at best, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, who I'd gladly trade in for Ysabel of Castille any day.
One might say with regard to laywomen and nuns in the curia, sure, well, no problem if they're the right sort--Nashville Dominicans or orthodox laywomen. Certainly--though one might say of the appointment of any priest behind a desk or in a confessional, "well, if they're orthodox," too. Heterodoxy is hardly an exclusively feminine province, for all the alleged talk of empowerment that some souls like to throw round.
Inevitably, the discussion of this subject will come 'round to priestly ordination. I think this topic has been discussed enough to not go in-depth here, but it seems obvious to me it's possible that women exercise their feminine genius and authority within the Church in a way which differs in nature from that of the priesthood. To say that a women need be a priest to be listened to misses the point. Pope Gregory listened to Catherine to return to Rome and ultimately ignored the flock of ordained cardinals that surrounded him. For a woman to become masculine in order to exercise her authority would be to rob that authority and genius of its uniqueness and its value.
There is also the matter of lay cardinals and female cardinals, a subject that has popped up on the blogosphere a number of times before, though Benedict has not mentioned anything on the subject at all. First, a point of clarification--as far as I can ascertain, most of the lay cardinals of Renaissance days were, at the least, in minor orders. In some sources, Cardinal Consalvi is described as a layman, but he appears to have been ordained a deacon after his elevation to the sacred purple. Garbled etymologies that attempt to link the first cardinals to a group of Roman citizens who acted as door-guards for the persecuted Church appear to be spurious. Some authors link the "cardo" or pivot in the Cardinal's title to concelebrants among the Roman clergy who stood at the corners of the altar during Papal masses.
A 1936 work entitled The Triple Crown by Valérie Pirie claims that lay cardinals were not allowed to vote in the Papal conclave anyway without a special permit, or not without first being ordained as deacons in the conclave itself. I've never heard this before, and can't vouch for its authenticity, but if true, it does suggest that the concept of a "lay cardinal" in the past means far less than we often suppose.
If all this is true, the question is not, "should women be cardinals?" but "should lay people be cardinals?" I don't know. The question must not be seen as a matter of power, however. (St. Catherine was far more influential in the history of the Papacy than any one cardinal and she wore a halo rather than a scarlet hat). Part of me dislikes the idea of tampering with something so well-established and fine-tuned over time, and which produces some pretty good results. After all, we got Benedict XVI and JP II from it, not to mention Piuses V through XII, didn't we? (And Pius II wasn't too shabby, either). Nonetheless, given that the system of papal elections has certainly changed over time, the idea is not impossible. One again, as with any male cardinal, cleric or lay, it depends on who one appoints. (Amy Cardinal Welborn, anyone? Well, she is in Rome this week...) At the very least, in terms of protocol, we'd have to find something besides churches (hospitals or convents, perhaps), for the lay men and women to be titulars of.
My principal concern is at this point it might mostly confuse people who do not understand the difference between the cardinalatial dignity and the priesthood, and ask, "if lay men and lay women can elect the pope, why can't they say mass, too?" Which would really lead to a theological mess. Perhaps it'd be simpler just to bring back the title of Papal Count and Countess.
Anyway, Benedict knows what he's doing, and I look forward to seeing where this all goes. Thoughts?
Friday, March 3
Today, incidentally, is (or was) the Feast of the Crown of Thorns, according to the old customs of the Passionist Order. Whether or not it's celebrated today, I don't know.
Your PPOTD! (Papist-Picture-of-the-Day)
"And weeee're back with Morning Joe, your all-Benedict, all-morning radio extravaganza. We've got Chopper Greg up reporting on the traffic on Via de Concelazione and it's cuh-razy down there, commuters..."
"Und who removed ze Holy Vapping from 'my favorites'???"
Why am I suddenly hearing the theme music from Afred Hitchcock Presents?
My questions are 1) is there anything which allows adaptations like this into the marriage rite in the U.S.? I am aware of a directory of ethnic liturgical practices (such as the Ukranian crowning ritual) which are permitted to be introduced into the Latin Rite marriage ceremony in Canada, but I don't know how similar cases are relevant here. 2) Because it was so lately codified and apparently never suppressed, perhaps due to a felicitous oversight (it is simply not mentioned in the 1965 Roman Ritual), does the law of custom allow it to be included? 3) Can anyone pass any other references to this ceremony on to me?
What do you get for the Catholic Nerd baby that has everything?
Thursday, March 2
I must point out--gloat--that, while the USSR is dead, and their coinage collector's items on ebay.* Pope Benedict reminded us in his inauguration that the Church "is young".
I knew vocations were looking up (200 young women attended a recent vocation retreat at Sisters of Our Lady Mother of the Eucharist, according to rumor), but the Anchoress has information on American and Italian vocations that will surprise even the optimistic, I think.
In desiring to kill the Church, the USSR marked itself for death, because in desiring to kill the Church, it desired to kill the Body of Christ, the Body of Truth, human nature as it longs to be.
*To add insult to injury, collectors items worth a lot less than a euro bearing JPG's contenance.
Here altar cloaths lie scattered, and
There does a broken altar stand;
Some steal away the crucifix;
And some the silver candlesticks;
Rich vestments others do convey,
And antipendiums bear away;
And what they thought not fit to steal,
They burn as an effect of zeal.
Nine months ago, a friend of mine reported that a mid-eastern historian he knew had it on good authority that most all the Eastern Orthodox Churches, save the Greeks and the Russians, were ready to enter into full communion with the Holy See.
That is very second-hand information. But, it's also interesting: what would a unified Church look like?
The answer is very easy, in one respect. The papacy's influence on local churches derives from two soures:
(1) The Petrine Ministry: the pope's role as successor of Peter, by virtue of which he "strengthens his brothers in faith" and is the personal exemplar of the infallibilty of the Church.
(2) Patriarch of the West: The ability to appoint bishops to the Western Church, to dictate its liturgy and give its laws, to supervise the works of its local synods, etc., do not proceed from the Petrine ministry. The pope doesn't "have" to do these things, and in fact it was only over the gradual course of history that he came to do these things. I am glad that he does, but it is not intrinsic to his office. In the east, the bishops invested with this authority are known as "Patriachs," and so, since AD 450, we have explained to the East that the Pope has this authority over the West because he is the Patriarch of the West.
These are the two primary sources of the pope's heavy jurisdictional influence in the Catholic Church.
Interestingly, Pope Benedict appears to have removed the title "Patriarch of the West" from the official listing of the papacy's titles.
Why? Rocco, to whom I link above, suggests that Benedict is showing respect for the East by not usurping a title which is appropriate to the Eastern tradition and not the Western one. I think that critically misreads the situation: the title "Patriarch of the West" is as old as many of the Eastern patriarchal titles, and therefore has equal claim to valid, non usurporous use. Further, removing the distinction between the Petrine Office and his status as Patriarch would be very damaging to ecumenical relations: the only way any meaningful unity between the Eastern Orthodox and the West could possibly come to pass is with a very clear and distinct demarcation of the pope's inherent Petrine responsibilities and his accidental authority as Patriarch of the West.
The answer to this question comes to us from Ratzinger himself, in a passage identified by VaticanWatcher:
"The image of a centralized state which the Catholic church presented right up to the council does not flow only from the Petrine office, but from its strict amalgamation with the patriarchal function which grew ever stronger in the course of history and which fell to the bishop of Rome for the whole of Latin Christendom... For that reason, the task to consider for the future will be to distinguish again and more clearly between the proper function of the successor of Peter and the patriarchal office and, where necessary, to create new patriarchates and to detach them from the Latin church."
Rocco has it wrong thinking that the Pope is renouncing the title "Patriarch": Benedict says he consider the distinction between "patriarch" and "Peter" to be essential. Rather, if the reports are correct that the title "Patriarch of the West" has been dropped, he has dropped the title "...of the West."
Benedict, like he said he would do, is laying the foundation for the creation of new patriarchates in the Western Church, which only makes sense: the Latin Rite Church of Asia, or even of Africa, are "Western" in name only. This will have important implications:
(1) It will make the structure of the current Latin Church much more like that of the Eastern Church, with various regional centers of authority. This will ease Eastern Orthodox concerns that the Papacy, by nature, desires to usurp those functions proper to patriarchs, promoting the possibility for East-West unity. (It also indicates a change of attitude which would ease the creation of an Anglican Rite.)
(2) It will enable further inculturation of the Liturgy within Asia and Africa, as their new local patriarchs take over control of the liturgy there.
(3) It will enable reforms of the Roman Missal that return to more traditional European practices, or the liberal return of the Tridentine indult to those places were the traditional liturgy is culturally important (Europe, America, Australia, etc.).
Very exciting, say I.
Wednesday, March 1
REMEMBER, MAN, THAT THOU ART DUST:
AND TO DUST THOU SHALT RETURN