Thursday, January 31, 2008

Archbishop Chaput: "We expect our employees to respect Catholic teaching..."

Carl Olson of Ignatius Insight Scoop has a nice synopsis of the ongoing story of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver and the controversy over a proposed bill that would attack religious identity in social services. Here is just a portion of the story:

Archbishop Charles Chaput called House Bill 1080 an "attack on religious identity" in his weekly column appearing in last week's Denver Catholic Register. He subsequently answered questions about the bill in an e-mail exchange with the Rocky Mountain News:

Q: The most straightforward interpretation of your column suggests that you will shut down Catholic Charities if this bill - or any bill - passes which restricts your ability to hire or fire based on Catholic religious standards. Is that a correct reading of what you will do?

Chaput: No. Catholic Charities will continue its core mission to the poor with or without public funds. If the government wants to carry the burden it currently asks religious-affiliated groups to carry, that's the government's business, and so are the costs and problems that go along with it.

What I actually said is that Catholic Charities "is an arm of Catholic social ministry. When it can no longer have the freedom it needs to be 'Catholic,' it will end its services." At this point, HB 1080 is only a bill; a bad bill — but not yet the law. If HB 1080 were to become law, that would be the time for us to make service decisions based on the content of the law. But if you're asking me whether I meant what I said about closing services rather than compromise our religious identity, I most certainly did.

Q: What current standards do you and the Catholic archdiocese demand of your employees when it comes to sexual orientation and religion?

Chaput: We expect our employees to respect Catholic teaching and support it in their professional lives. That's logical and just because the Catholic community has a religious mission. Obviously, we respect the personal lives of our employees. We have no interest, nor does any other sensible employer, in intruding on their privacy or family autonomy outside their service to the Church. But it's self-defeating to imagine a Catholic-affiliated ministry where the key guiding people can't be required to be Catholic.

To follow the entire story, you'll have to read Olson's story and the various interviews and components to which he links. It is a story that concerns religious freedom in the US and is compelling.

Loyal Opposition? No, Just Plain Old Dissent

Fr. John Trigilio (who often appears on EWTN) has a wonderful blog called "The Black Biretta." He has a new post on dissent in the Church. Here is an excerpt:

...One hundred and nine years ago, on January 22, 1899, Pope Leo XIII issued his encyclical Testem benevolentiae nostrae which condemned the heresy of Americanism. This pernicious theological error proposed that there are no absolute moral principles or immutable doctrines. It held that truth was relative and that the personal conscience is the sole and supreme arbiter of ethical behavior. Americanism denied the necessity of cultivating a well formed conscience, tested and guided by the Natural Moral Law and the Divine Positive Law of God Himself.

Coach Majerus should get his money back from the Jesuits at Marquette who taught him. They did not teach him the truth. Morality is not subjective but objective. Imagine if a basketball player tells the coach he disagrees with him and will follow his conscience instead. How long will he be playing? If any player personally chooses to reject one or more of the rules of the game or if they refuse to yield to the authority of the referee, will he not be asked to leave? What about his freedom? If you want to play basketball, you agree to follow the rules, to obey the coach and to obey the officials. If you want to be a Catholic Christian, you obey the Pope and the Magisterium. Period.

Dissidents like Charles Curran, Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeeckx and Leonardo Boff paved the way for others to dissent from official church teachings. Their rebellion spawned a generation of moral and doctrinal recalcitrant miscreants. Americanism is particularly dangerous since it appeals to the patriotism found in most everyone. Trying to adapt and morph traditional morality and ethics may have made some of these clowns delude themselves it was worth the effort. Archbishop Burke and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope B16) had every right, obligation and duty to correct erroneous proposals, refute heretical teachings and to discipline the disobedient to protect and preserve the common good of the entire Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Coach Majerus is entitled to his opinions and has the freedom of speech but it is not an absolute right. He must judge his ideas against the veracity of divine revelation. All believers must embrace the teaching authority of Church, founded by Christ Himself and entrusted to Saint Peter and the Apostles and their successors, the Pope and Bishops in communion with him....

Please read this wonderful essay!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Aggie Catholics-FAQs about Lent

Marcel LeJeune of the Catholic Ministry at Texas A and M has a neat little FAQ posted about Lent. This was linked from Ignatius Insight Scoop and I thought it too neat to pass up:


What is Lent?
Lent is a time when the Catholic Church collectively enters into preparation for the celebration of Easter.Lent originally developed as a forty-day retreat, preparing converts to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. Lent is a season of conversion. Conversion is the process of turning away from sin and turning to God. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday (this excludes Sundays, which are not part of the 40 days) and ends on Holy Thursday, the first day of the Triduum, the three holy days before Easter.

So why aren't Sundays part of Lent?
This is because Sundays are always a day of celebration of Christ's passion and Resurrection, so we celebrate on these days.

Does this mean I can "cheat" on Sundays?
Since Sundays are not part of the penitential season, you do not have to practice signs of penitence on these days. But, there is no reason you can't do them either. If you feel you are "cheating" then it isn't helping!

Why forty days and not some other number?
Because 40 is a special number in the Bible. It signifies preparation for something special - as in the 40 day flood of Noah.
* Moses stayed on the Mount Sinai forty days (Ex 24:18),
* Jonah gives the people of Ninevah forty days to repent (Jon 3:4) - (there are many other Old Testament stories)
* We also see this with Jesus, before starting his ministry, he spent forty days in the desert in prayer and fasting (Matt 4:2).
So, as in the Bible, we spend forty days in preparing ourselves to rejoice at the Resurrection of our Lord at Easter.

This is pretty neat! Please check out their FAQ for more!

Franciscan University at Steubenville approves TLM

Fr. Z. reports on a breaking event which he learned by email:

Dear Friends,

I have great news for all of you: the University today approved the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Liturgy for the campus. Their statement is as follows:

The Traditional Latin Mass

In response to those students who have demonstrated their commitment to the extraordinary form of the Latin rite Mass, Franciscan University will celebrate its first Traditional Latin Mass in Christ the King Chapel on Sunday, March 30. Those interested in being trained as altar servers or assisting in other ways should contact Rob Palladino, director of Chapel Ministries (Ext. 6506). The time of the Mass will be announced at a later date, once Chapel Ministries has determined the length of time needed to temporarily transform the Chapel into the proper environment for the Traditional Latin Mass and how that impacts the rest of our Sunday Mass schedule. As we take the next step in this unfolding process, the Franciscan Friars will continue to assess the pastoral needs of our students and respond to them as appropriate.
Read WDTPRS to get the rest of the story! Hope the Friars see the YouTube on "Altar-ation"!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

REVIEW: Baronius Press 1962 hand missal

Fr. Z. has written a review of the hand missal from Baronius Press on his blog. I have to confess that I use the newest version called the "Summorum Pontificum" edition (the entire document is reprinted in the Missal).

The missal has an imprimatur and forward by Bishop Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln, NE and is referred to by the F.S.S.P. as "their" missal. It is a beautiful book and I will allow Fr. Z. to explain why he likes it so. Please see the review for further features of this text.

Note that Angelus Press also has a beautiful missal which may be the chief competition to this one.

Why SLU will likely back the Coach, not the Archbishop

Insight Scoop has a fascinating take on the showdown between basketball coach, Rick Majerus, the Jesuits and the Archbishop of Saint Louis, Archbishop Burke centering on Saint Louis University. Here is just a snip taken from the American Spectator and posted on Insight Scoop:

George Neumayr, editor of Catholic World Report, writes this in a special report (Jan. 28, 2008) for American Spectator:

In 2003, Jesuit St. Louis University (SLU) received an $8 million tax abatement to start building a sports arena. This annoyed the Masonic Temple Association, whose property abuts SLU. Arguing that a religious school should not receive government monies, the Association filed a federal lawsuit to block the abatement.

The case was ultimately dismissed, but not before exposing the utter shamelessness of Jesuit officials at the schools. To fend off the suit, they told a Missouri appellate court that SLU is "independent of the Catholic Church." Rich in depressing ironies, the case in essence pitted Masons arguing, if only opportunistically, that the school is (and should be) Catholic against Jesuits who argued that it is not.

The Masonic Temple noted that the school's bylaws state that it will be "publicly identified as a Catholic university and a Jesuit university." So what? responded officials at SLU, who provided evidence that the school hasn't taken Catholicism seriously for years.

"Whatever its status in the past, Saint Louis University is not now controlled by any creed," read SLU's brief. SLU cited as an example of its "autonomy" from the Church that it pays no attention to the local bishop, such as the time it ignored former St. Louis Cardinal Justin Rigali's objections to its 1998 sale of the school's hospital.

TO PARAPHRASE Robert Bolt's Thomas More, it profits the Jesuits nothing to give their soul for the whole world, much less Chaifetz Arena and Rick Majerus. This latest controversy at SLU is the inevitable collision of a habitually bombastic coach, his secularized Jesuit patrons, and a principled archbishop tired of the school's fraud.

For the entire story, click here to read this archived article.

Ecclesiastical Latin. Resources for Learning and Enrichment

Shawn Tribe of The New Liturgical Movement found this gem and posted a link to the website. The site offers Latin Dictionaries, books on Liturgical Latin and other gems. The menu to the right has links to learning Latin, the Vulgate, and other resources of interest. Please visit this site. One can even subscribe to a Latin Nerd Warriors Newsletter. How can you turn down THAT invitation! See one below!

Monday, January 28, 2008

TLM returns to Huntsville, Alabama

Gerald Augustinus of "The Cafeteria is Closed" reports that the TLM has returned to Huntsville, AL:

Una Voce Northern Alabama has more photos and information. The church was packed with some 400 people, many of them young parents with their children.

SUNDAY, FEB. 10 LOW MASS 3 PM St. Mary of the Visitation, HUNTSVILLE, AL
Schola forming in March (for more information contact

On a sad, sad note, he reports on a "Pop Circus Mass" from France. Click this link only if you dare... The photos are quite upsetting.

The Roman Curia Wakes Up and Strikes Three Blows

Sandro Magister writes a marvelous article in www.chiesa on the changes in the Roman Curia and how those are assisting Pope Benedict XVI. Here are just a few snippets from this excellent review.


1. In "L'Osservatore Romano" on January 5, cardinal Cláudio Hummes, prefect of the congregation for the clergy, announced that he had sent to bishops, pastors, religious superiors, and seminary rectors all over the world a letter to ask that in every diocese "cenacles" of perpetual Eucharistic adoration be established, with the aim of "sanctifying" priests through prayer.

Among the motivations for the initiative, Hummes explicitly referred to the sexual "sins" committed on the part of a "minimal" but still significant part of the clergy:

"We ask all to do Eucharistic adoration in order to make reparation before God for the grave injury that has been done, and to recover the dignity of the victims. Yes, we wanted to think of the victims, so that they might feel that we are near. They are uppermost in our thoughts; it is important to say this."


2. In an interview with "L'Osservatore Romano" on January 9, and in an unsigned note published by the same newspaper four days later, cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the congregation for the causes of saints, announced that toward the end of February there will be the public presentation of the instruction "Sanctorum Mater," on the opening of causes of beatification, an instruction that until now was known only to those directly involved in the process.

The document – dated May 17, 2007, the Italian text of which was published in "Acta Apostolicae Sedis" issue no. 6, June 1, 2007, pp. 465-510 – translates into precise norms the guidelines that Benedict XVI gave to the congregation for the causes of saints in a message on April 27, 2006.

Caution and accuracy: these are the criteria that the pope and the congregation want to see more closely observed.

3. On Monday, January 14 "L'Osservatore Romano," in reporting on the Mass and baptisms celebrated by Benedict XVI in the Sistine Chapel the previous Sunday, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, emphasized that "for the first time since the beginning of his pontificate," the pope "celebrated the Mass in public from the traditional altar" (see the photo at the top).

And it explained:

"He decided to celebrate at the ancient altar in order not to alter the beauty and harmony of this architectural gem, preserving its structure from the viewpoint of the celebration and making use of a possibility provided for by the liturgical guidelines. At certain moments the pope thus found himself with his back to the faithful and his gaze upon the Cross, orienting in this way the attitude of the entire assembly."

A few days later, in a January 20 interview with Vatican Radio, the new master of ceremonies for the pontifical liturgies, Guido Marini, gave these additional explanations:

"I believe that it is important first of all to consider the orientation that the liturgical celebration is always called upon to display: I refer to the centrality of the Lord, the Savior crucified and risen from the dead. This orientation must determine the interior disposition of the whole assembly, and in consequence, the exterior manner of celebrating as well. The placement of the cross on the altar, at the center of the assembly, has the capacity to communicate this fundamental aspect of liturgical theology. There can also be particular circumstances in which, because of the artistic conditions of the sacred place and its singular beauty and harmony, it would be preferable to celebrate at the ancient altar, which preserves the precise orientation of the liturgical celebration. This is exactly what happened in the Sistine Chapel. This practice is permitted by the liturgical norms, and is in harmony with the conciliar reform."
Don't miss this excellent review of how changes in the Curia have assisted the plans of His Holiness.

Archd. of Washington, DC: over complicating Summorum Pontificum?

Fr. Zuhlsdorf received a copy of a letter sent to priests in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. The letter was sent in PDF format but he reproduces one segment on his blog:

In the near future, Archbishop Wuerl will appoint a Coordinator of the Extraordinary Form to serve as chaiman of the special committee. Because the archbishop has the responsibility to foster a common discipline in the celebration of the sacrament within the archdiocese (C. 392),
his permission must be received prior to making any permanent commitments by a parish for the public celebration of the Extraordinary Form on a regular basis. This also is in accord with Article 5 of Summorum Pontificum which state that public or regularly scheduled Masses be offered under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole Church. To request this permission pastors first must seek the review and counsel of the Coordinator of the Extraordinary Form, who will then present a recommendation to the archbishop.
Fr. Z's response is what one would expect. I'll let him take it from here on. Please check out his comments on the WDTPRS blog!

NB: Lest I be remiss, I should call your attention to another thread on the situation in Philadelphia as well. And there are a great many comments.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

WDTPRS: Sexagesima Sunday

Fr. Z. informs us that today is Sexagesima Sunday, the "sixtieth" day before Easter (in a broad and not absolutely numerical sense).

In the traditional Roman calendar this Sunday is called Sexagesima, Latin for the “Sixtieth” day before Easter. This number is more symbolic than arithmetical. Last week was the first of these pre-Lenten Sundays, Septuagesima or “Seventieth. The pre-Lenten Sundays prepare us for the discipline of Lent, which once was far stricter. Purple is worn rather than the green of the season after Epiphany and there is a Tract instead of an Alleluia. The prayers and readings for the pre-Lenten Sundays were compiled by St. Gregory the Great (+604). In the Novus Ordo of Paul VI there is no more pre-Lent, which was a real loss.

Deus, qui conspicis, quia ex nulla nostra actione confidimus:
concede propitius; ut, contra adversa omnia,
Doctoris gentium protectione muniamur.

I don’t think this prayer in any form survived to live in the Novus Ordo. The jam-packed Lewis & Short Dictionary informs us that conspicio means “to look at attentively”. In the passive, it is “to attract attention, to be conspicuous”. Conspicio is a compound of “cvm…with” and *specio. The asterisk indicates a theoretical form which has to do with perception. The useful French dictionary of liturgical Latin we call Blaise/Dumas says that conspicio refers to God’s “regard”, presumably because God “sees” all things “together”.

The last word here is from munio, which is “to build a wall around, to fortify, …protect, secure, put in a state of defence; to guard, secure, strengthen, support”.

O God, You who perceive that we confide in no action of our own:
propitiously grant; that we may be fortified against every adverse thing
by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles.

Be sure to check out his column on the beautiful prayers for this Sunday in the 1962 Roman Missal.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bishop Aquila's Address on Absolutes in Life Issues

Zenit reprints the address of Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo at Loyola College in Baltimore, entitled "The Sanctity of Human Life from Conception to Natural Death" given on November, 15th. The presentation was part of the Loyola Alive Seamless Garment Series.

...As Catholics we believe in the dignity of human life. In the book of Genesis we hear how the Creator has created the human being in his image and likeness, male and female, he created them (Genesis 1:26ff.). God blessed the first couple and gave them a command to be fruitful and multiply. They are given the power to share in God's creation through their sexual intimacy.

Life is a gift freely bestowed by the Creator, a good that is to be received. Of all creatures that God has created, only human beings share in his image and likeness and are given the ability to know, receive and return the love of God. The dignity of human life is determined by God and thus is always to be protected.

The Catechism of the Catholic Chruch teaches: "Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being" (No. 2258). This is the common thread that runs through all of the life issues.

The right to life is the essential right for every other human right. Benedict XVI on Sept. 7, 2007, reminded the authorities and diplomatic corps of Austria: "The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other human right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception to its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right -- it is the very opposite."
Please read the entire address which is linked here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes, Mt. Saint Mary's, Emmitsburg, MD

The National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes is one of the oldest American replicas of the revered French shrine, dating to about two decades after the apparitions at Lourdes (1874), although the site had already been in use for more than seventy years as a place of prayer and devotion.

The Grotto was proclaimed a Public Oratory on December 8, 1965 by His Eminence Lawrence Cardinal Shehan, Archbishop of Baltimore. A place of pastoral beauty and spiritual inspiration, the Grotto draws hundreds of thousands of religious pilgrims and tourists annually.

CLICK to enlarge...

Does Coach Majerus really think he can out play Abp. Burke?

You probably have heard the story on the news by now: an orthodox Archbishop has publicly questioned a Division I basketball coach at a Roman Catholic University within his Archdiocese about the coach's pro-abortion comments while the coach protests all the while to be "Catholic." What are to we make of this as the talking heads on ESPN and other outlets tell the good Archbishop to "mind his own business?"

Fortunately, a superb canonist, Edward N. Peters, writes a blog on Canon Law called, In Light of the Law, and he has weighed in on the case:

I'm not making this up.

Jesuit-run St. Louis University's basketball coach Rick Majerus (yes, a basketball coach) is telling St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke (yes, the canonist archbishop), to mind his own business regarding Majerus' outspoken support for (get ready for it) abortion and experimentation on embryonic humans! If it weren't that expressing support for such deeply offensive conduct is so deadly serious, I'd be laughing.

Majerus boasts a long career in lefty politics going back to the 1960s, so maybe that's why he apparently never noticed that the Second Vatican Council, in its only display of anger, denounced abortion as an "unspeakable crime" (GS 51). An unspeakable crime, folks, for which Catholics are liable to excommunication (1983 CIC 1398), which St. Louis University official Rick Majerus publicly and repeatedly supports.

Majerus' claim that the "First Amendment right to free speech supersedes anything that the archbishop would order me to do" rated (sorry, I couldn't help it) an 8.5 on the laugh-out-loud scale. SLU's basketball coach should walk across the quad to SLU's law school and ask any second year student to explain the notion of "state action" before he asserts any more grandiloquently wrong theories about the law of Church and state.

And if Majerus thinks that the Post-Dispatch is on his side, he should think again. News reporter Bernie Miklasz opined "If Burke is expecting an apology or silence from Majerus, it won't happen" and "If Burke hopes Majerus will fall in line with the Roman Catholic church's official positions on these two issues, it won't happen." That's not reporting news, that's fanning the flames of conflict. The secular press loves to play "Let's you and him fight", especially when the 'him' is a faithful Catholic bishop. Majerus is walking right into it.
If you haven't been to this blog before, you are missing an excellent education in the fine points of Canon Law. Please follow the story from there....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

“Seven Days of Musical Heaven”

Shawn Tribe of the New Liturgical Movement reminds everyone that the Annual Sacred Music Colloquium of is filling up quickly. The event this year is listed as:

“Seven Days of Musical Heaven”

June 16-22, 2008 (Monday noon through Sunday morning)
Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois
Sponsored by the Church Music Association of America

The website lists all of these as part of the event:

  • Extensive training in Gregorian chant and the Renaissance choral tradition under a world-class faculty;
  • You can choose between three chant fundamentals classes, four advanced chant classes, and three large polyphonic choirs;
  • Choral experience with large choir singing sacred music of the masters such as Palestrina, Isaac, Victoria, Byrd, Tallis, Josquin, and many others;
  • Daily liturgies with careful attention to officially prescribed musical settings;
  • Residency in new, apartment-style dormitories or optional hotels;
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner from a varied menu ;
  • Training in vocal production and technique;
  • Conducting practicum;
  • Training for the sung Mass;
  • Organ recital and improvisation method classes
  • Ward Method pedagogy demonstrations;
  • Composers’ Forum;
  • Coffeehouse Polyphony night in which you prepare and sing
  • Run for Chant, 2 Miles, Tuesday, 6:00am
  • Seminars on parish music management, the role of the cantor, and integrating sung parts of the liturgy;
  • All music, including prepared packets of chant and polyphony, as part of registration.

All you need to know about this event is listed here. Please check it out; it is an intensive course in Gregorian Chant. Registration is filling up so please don't wait too long to sign up.

Please note that I have also added to my favorite websites as a permanent link. It is a great website!

How to implement Summorum Pontificum

Jeff Culbreath of the Stony Creek Digest posts a story on the TLM at Ave Maria University in Naples, FL. It was reported that the TLM would return to Ave Maria under Fr. Fessio. Now Bishop Dewane of Venice, FL has released this statement of further clarification:

“Due to the demand for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, both from Catholics residents in Ave Maria Town as well as from students, faculty, and staff at Ave Maria University, and in accordance with ‘Summorum Pontificum’, it is fitting that a Sunday Mass be celebrated on campus in the Extraordinary Form. In keeping with the same manifest desire, it would seem opportune that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite be celebrated on a daily basis at the University, and at a convenient time. Further, it is noted that, in accordance with ‘Summorum Pontificum’, unscheduled Masses can also be celebrated by priests on campus, in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.”

As Jeff said in commenting on this story, "WOW!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


FSSP transform a modernistic free-standing altar into a very beautiful High Altar. The church that this took place in is in France and is now operated by the Fraternity of St. Peter. The complete time for this "Altar-ation" was just about 15 minutes! The music is Jeanne Barbey's "Te Deum."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Faith: Latin Mass for Those on the Go

The Signal, News from Santa Clarita Valley, California, carries a story by Tammy Marashlian on how two priests restored a treasured recording of a High Mass:

When Father Dominic Radecki, priest of Queen of Angels Church in Newhall, and his twin brother, Father Francisco Radecki, priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wayne, Michigan, realized that their original live recording of a traditional Latin Mass was deteriorating, they knew something had to be done.

“Because it was so beautiful, we wanted to preserve it,” Francisco Radecki said. “It would have been lost.”

Fortunately for them, the two happen to have an extensive background in sound engineering, something they picked up through school programs when they were young.

Already having most of the necessary equipment, the two set to work examining, editing and re-recording the six miles of reels.

The result of their efforts is the compact disc “High Mass Recorded Live,” which they believe embodies the meaning of Latin Mass and puts listeners, in effect, in the front row of church.

Except for two tracks, the collection of hymns and Masses on the 27-track CD was recorded live at the First Masses in May 1988 and was sung by the Mount St. Michael’s Parish Choir and the Marian Sisters.

To read the rest of the story, please go here. I just checked and the restored CD, called High Mass Recorded Live [Enchanced] is available on It might be worth exploring. The Amazon site allows you to listen to snippets of the CD album.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mother Teresa Goes to Washington

To mark a somber anniversary, that of the decision of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court, it is appropriate to recall the remarks made by Mother Teresa at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. (“Mother Teresa Goes to Washington.” National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C; February 5, 1994). The words are as poignant today as they were then and will be always...

On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, “Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me.” Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, “Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me.” These will ask Him, “When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?” And Jesus will answer them, “Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!”

As we have gathered here to pray together, I think it will be beautiful if we begin with a prayer that expresses very well what Jesus wants us to do for the least. St. Francis of Assisi understood very well these words of Jesus and His life is very well expressed by a prayer. And this prayer, which we say every day after Holy Communion, always surprises me very much, because it is very fitting for each one of us. And I always wonder whether 800 years ago when St. Francis lived, they had the same difficulties that we have today. I think that some of you already have this prayer of peace — so we will pray it together.

Let us thank God for the opportunity He has given us today to have come here to pray together. We have come here especially to pray for peace, joy and love. We are reminded that Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor. He had told us what is that good news when He said: “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.” He came not to give the peace of the world which is only that we don’t bother each other. He came to give the peace of heart which comes from loving — from doing good to others.

And God loved the world so much that He gave His son — it was a giving. God gave His son to the Virgin Mary, and what did she do with Him? As soon as Jesus came into Mary’s life, immediately she went in haste to give that good news. And as she came into the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, Scripture tells us that the unborn child — the child in the womb of Elizabeth — leapt with joy. While still in the womb of Mary — Jesus brought peace to John the Baptist who leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth.

And as if that were not enough, as if it were not enough that God the Son should become one of us and bring peace and joy while still in the womb of Mary, Jesus also died on the Cross to show that greater love. He died for you and for me, and for the leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street, no only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and everywhere. Our Sisters serve these poor people in 105 countries throughout the world. Jesus insisted that we love one another as He loves each one of us. Jesus gave His life to love us and He tells us that we also have to give whatever it takes to do good to one another. And in the Gospel Jesus says very clearly: “Love as I have loved you.”

Jesus died on the Cross because that is what it took for Him to do good to us — to save us from our selfishness in sin. He gave up everything to do the Father’s will — to show us that we too must be willing to give up everything to do God’s will — to love one another as He loves each of us. If we are not willing to give whatever it takes to do good to one another, sin is still in us. That is why we too must give to each other until it hurts.

It is not enough for us to say: “I love God,” but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.

It hurt Jesus to love us. We have been created in His image for greater things, to love and to be loved. We must “put on Christ” as Scripture tells us. And so, we have been created to love as He loves us. Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, “You did it to Me.” On the last day He will say to those on His right, “whatever you did to the least of these, you did to Me, and He will also say to those on His left, whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do it for Me.”

When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.

I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an institution and forgotten them — maybe. I saw that in that home these old people had everything — good food, comfortable place, television, everything, but everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a smile on the face. I turned to Sister and I asked: “Why do these people who have every comfort here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?”

I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones smile. And Sister said: “This is the way it is nearly everyday. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten.” And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we willing to give until it hurts in order to be with our families, or do we put our own interests first? These are the questions we must ask ourselves, especially as we begin this year of the family. We must remember that love begins at home and we must also remember that ’the future of humanity passes through the family.’

I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given to drugs. And I tried to find out why. Why is it like that, when those in the West have so many more things than those in the East? And the answer was: ‘Because there is no one in the family to receive them.’ Our children depend on us for everything — their health, their nutrition, their security, their coming to know and love God. For all of this, they look to us with trust, hope and expectation. But often father and mother are so busy they have no time for their children, or perhaps they are not even married or have given up on their marriage. So their children go to the streets and get involved in drugs or other things. We are talking of love of the child, which is were love and peace must begin. These are the things that break peace.

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today — abortion which brings people to such blindness.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere — “Let us bring the child back.” The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things — to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.

But what does God say to us? He says: “Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.” We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption — by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: “Please don’t destroy the child; we will take the child.” So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: “Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child.” And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child — but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said, “Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me.” By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.

Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.

I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.

I also know that there are great problems in the world — that many spouses do not love each other enough to practice natural family planning. We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of all, and that is to destroy love. And this is what happens when we tell people to practice contraception and abortion.

The poor are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. Once one of them came to thank us for teaching her natural family planning and said: “You people who have practiced chastity, you are the best people to teach us natural family planning because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other.” And what this poor person said is very true. These poor people maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home to live in, but they can still be great people when they are spiritually rich.

When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread. But a person who is shut out, who feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out of society — that spiritual poverty is much harder to overcome. And abortion, which often follows from contraception, brings a people to be spiritually poor, and that is the worst poverty and the most difficult to overcome.

Those who are materially poor can be very wonderful people. One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the Sisters: “You take care of the other three; I will take care of the one who looks worse.” So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: “thank you” — and she died.

I could not help but examine my conscience before her. And I asked: “What would I say if I were in her place?” And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said: “I am hungry, I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain,” or something. But she gave me much more — she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. Then there was the man we picked up from the drain, half eaten by worms and, after we had brought him to the home, he only said, “I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die as an angel, loved and cared for.” Then, after we had removed all the worms from his body, all he said, with a big smile, was: “Sister, I am going home to God” — and he died. It was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that without blaming anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel — this is the greatness of people who are spiritually rich even when they are materially poor.

We are not social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of some people, but we must be contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we must bring that presence of God into your family, for the family that prays together, stays together. There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do.

If we are contemplatives in the heart of the world with all its problems, these problems can never discourage us. We must always remember what God tells us in Scripture: “Even if a mother could forget the child in her womb” — something impossible, but even if she could forget — “I will never forget you.”

And so here I am talking with you. I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people first. And find out about your next-door neighbors. Do you know who they are?

I had the most extraordinary experience of love of neighbor with a Hindu family. A gentleman came to our house and said: “Mother Teresa, there is a family who have not eaten for so long. Do something.” So I took some rice and went there immediately. And I saw the children — their eyes shining with hunger. I don’t know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And the mother of the family took the rice I gave her and went out. When she came back, I asked her: “Where did you go? What did you do?” And she gave me a very simple answer: “They are hungry also.” What struck me was that she knew — and who are they? A Muslim family — and she knew. I didn’t bring any more rice that evening because I wanted them, Hindus and Muslims, to enjoy the joy of sharing.

But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy and peace with their mother because she had the love to give until it hurts. And you see this is where love begins — at home in the family.

So, as the example of this family shows, God will never forget us and there is something you and I can always do. We can keep the joy of loving Jesus in our hearts, and share that joy with all we come in contact with. Let us make that one point — that no child will be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, or killed and thrown away. And give until it hurts — with a smile.

Because I talk so much of giving with a smile, once a professor from the United States asked me: “Are you married?” And I said: “Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at my spouse, Jesus, because He can be very demanding — sometimes.” This is really something true. And this is where love comes in — when it is demanding, and yet we can give it with joy.

One of the most demanding things for me is travelling everywhere — and with publicity. I have said to Jesus that if I don’t go to heaven for anything else, I will be going to heaven for all the travelling with all the publicity, because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to heaven.

If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak — the unborn child — must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!

Archived at the Catholic Education Resource Center...

God have mercy on us!

The Cautionary End of the Spirit of Vatican II

Dr. Jeff Mirus comments on an article in Commonweal on clerical morale written by a priest from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Fr. Paul Stanosz. Mirus' article appears on the site, Catholic Culture. The essay responding to Fr. Stanosz' observations hits hard and raises deep issues. For example, Mirus says this:

What are we to make of an article which, in the process of concluding that there is nothing to be done, displays such an animus against precisely those spiritual solutions which have ever been at the heart of a vibrant Catholicism? What does it all mean? That’s the question which makes the article so fascinating, the question to which it is critical to understand the answer. For what it all means is that the Milwaukee mindset is so far gone in its sins that the only way open is despair. The so-called spirit of Vatican II which has wielded such a terrible power for the past forty years was nothing more than a euphoric baptism of secular utopianism. After such a long and continuous demonstration of its bankruptcy, many of its proponents have prudently stopped calling for more of the same. One might now hope for self-understanding, repentance and true renewal. But if our Commonweal article is any guide—and I believe it is—what we are witnessing instead is the only result consistent with a lack of repentance, that is, despair.

I want to pause here to emphasize that what makes Fr. Stanosz' article so important is not that one can completely understand and pigeon-hole the author from a single article, as if authors have no more personal complexity than appears in any one thing they write. Rather, what is important is that the article itself brilliantly illustrates the inevitable unfolding of the false spirit of Vatican II, the completely predictable devolution of that spirit into the only thing ever promised by its ultimate author. This is the reason I have gone on at three times the length of what is normally a brief column. We have here a lesson that every Christian who is still standing must learn if he hopes to escape the same dreadful consequence. Again I say it: this is the lesson of despair.

Fr. Stanosz may be right to see that “an aging presbyterate should not exhaust itself in implementing new programs that are at best only Band-Aids” (indeed, such programs are often based on the substitution of managed processes for spiritual challenges). But that is all he sees. If all the precious vision statements and bureaucratic programs to which he has committed his life are bankrupt, then we are not surprised to find he now has a personal interest in proving every other path to be even worse. If the Milwaukee mindset couldn’t super-charge priests and fill churches, then nothing can. This is the full argument to which we are treated in “The Other Health Crisis”. There is no hope; there can be no hope; any priest who has hope is in denial, and “the greatest threat to a priest’s well-being is denial.” Who is it then who poses the real danger for our author? Unsurprisingly, the target is the same as it always was in the Milwaukee mindset: “We priests know we are in trouble…and the forced optimism of those afraid of appearing insufficiently orthodox—or disloyal to Rome—strikes me as a failure of perception, honesty, and faith.”

And also this:

I suppose we have effectively overcome perceptions of a sinless church by sinning, and we ought to do more of the same. But let it go. See how the de-triumphalizing of the Church (which is yet more code) is now a key to a different lock. The abolition of “triumphalism” was originally sold as the key to the Church’s broader appeal and influence; now it is hawked as the key to reducing our aspirations so we can be content with failure. On this reading, all aspirations are triumphal. After all, as Fr. Stanosz points out in a passage more decisive than he knows, not even John Paul II could fill the churches, and “the new evangelization he called for remains to be undertaken.” We have already been told that the “decline is not about to reverse itself”— it “began before me and will continue after me.” The new evangelization cannot even be contemplated until the insurmountable cultural and social forces change, at which time “Catholicism will evolve.”

Paradoxically, this is the most revealing point of all, and it may serve as a fitting conclusion. For the most important difference between the priests of the Milwaukee mindset and the “fervent men” with whom the bishops are now “too quick to fill seminaries” is that the old guard believes successful evangelization must be the product of the cultural shifts and social trends in which they have always put their trust. But priests of Faith calculate the odds differently, for they do not doubt that the one they serve has overcome the world—and all its social trends, and all its empty promises. So when priests of Faith consider this impossible work of evangelization, they hear the Master asking: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Is 6:8) And to this they give an answer which makes dust and ashes of the Milwaukee mindset, an answer so simple, direct and daring that it bypasses argument and cannot be rationalized away, an answer by which they cast themselves into the deep for no other reason than to obey the will of God: Here I am! Send me.

It is a response that raises questions to questions. Perhaps, you might want to check out both articles.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Before entering "superstar" status in the religious blogosphere, Fr. Zuhlsdorf wrote (and still does) a wonderful column for The Wanderer called "What Does the Prayer Really Say?" As he says today in his Sunday blog post:

Some of you who are more recent readers of this blog may not know that for years I have written a column in The Wanderer about liturgical translations. I have compared the original Latin texts of prayers with the official ICEL versions and picked them both apart. The column has had great success, and has wound up being rather influential, I am happy to say. More importantly it has helped many people understand that our prayers for Mass have a profound content, nay rather, a divine content: the true content of our prayers in Mass is the divine Person, Jesus the High Priest, the Head of the Church lifting prayers to the Father.

For the first seven years of the WDTPRS column I looked at the prayers of Mass with the Novus Ordo. This year I am examining prayers from the 1962 Missale Romanum.

Fr. Z. then goes on to quote from his Wanderer article on Septuagesima Sunday:

What Does the Prayer Really Say? Septuagesima Sunday (1962 Missale Romanum) Roman station Mass: San Lorenzo fuori le mura


In the pre-Conciliar calendar this period before Ash Wednesday is called the Season of Epiphany. This year, because Easter falls so early, the Sundays after Epiphany are bumped. The time after Epiphany and the time after Pentecost are both called the tempus per annum, “the time through the year”. That terminology remained in the Novus Ordo to describe the two parts of “Ordinary Time”.

In the traditional Roman calendar this Sunday is called Septuagesima, Latin for the “Seventieth” day before Easter. This number is more symbolic than arithmetical. The Sundays which follow are Sexagesima (“sixtieth”) and Quinquagesima (“fiftieth”) before Ash Wednesday brings in Lent, called in Latin Quadragesima, “Fortieth”. These pre-Lenten Sundays prepare us for the discipline of Lent, which once was far stricter.

Septuagesima gives us a more solemn attitude for Holy Mass. Purple is worn on Sunday rather than the green of the time after Epiphany. These Sundays have Roman stations. Alleluia is sung for the last time at First Vespers of Septuagesima and is then excluded until Holy Saturday. There was once a tradition of “burying” the Alleluia, with a depositio ceremony, like a little funeral. A hymn of farewell was sung. There was a procession with crosses, tapers, holy water, and a coffin containing a banner with Alleluia. The coffin was sprinkled, incensed, and buried. In some places, such as Paris, a straw figure bearing an Alleluia of gold letters was burned in the churchyard. Somehow that seems very French to me.

The prayers and readings for the Masses of these pre-Lenten Sundays were compiled by St. Gregory the Great (+604), Pope in a time of great turmoil and suffering. Pre-Lent is particularly a time for preaching about missions and missionary work, the evangelization of peoples. In the Novus Ordo of Paul VI there is no more pre-Lent. A terrible loss. We are grateful that with Summorum Pontificum the pre-Lent Sundays have regained something of their ancient status.
Please check his article today and discover the beautiful prayers for this Sunday from the 1962 Missale Romanum. It is a marvelous column!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ad Orientem

Father Martin Fox of "Bonfire of the Vanities" has posted an interesting article called "Ad Orientem." Fr. Fox suggests that the intent of the Holy Father in using the ad orientem posture in his Mass at the Sistine Chapel was to bring this subject into the fore. Here is a snippet:

Now, you will most often hear this posture referred to as, "the priest with his back to the people." Well, that's accurate to some degree but unhelpful. How often do we refer to us having our backs to each other? Even in "churches in the round," a good number of people sit with their backs to people behind them; yet no one seems to think this is somehow a slight from one to the other; and the reason is because we are concerned with what we're turned toward--i.e., toward the Lord. So why is it that we all understand the need for everyone in church to be turned toward the Lord...except for the one leading our worship, offering the Sacrifice for us, in our name, with our participation?

Now, some will say, rightly, that we are all focused on the altar; but if we press the point, then we're conceding we want the priest focused on the altar...not the assembly. Is that right? And if that is what we really want, then we've hit on the very reason this issue matters.

Let's begin with an obvious point: the priest, the people, all of us are human; I mean, we're prone to human weakness. So, in our worship, we make allowance for human weakness, human needs, human ways of understanding, and human limitations. In the seminary, this--stated a different way--was called "the Sacramental Principle": God communicates with us in a fashion suited to our needs and limitations.

Well, here's the difficulty: when the people and the priest are facing each other at various points of the Mass, the most natural thing is that we look at each other. That is just plain common sense. On the other hand, it is rather difficult, although not impossible, that people can face each other, and not each other.

So, for example, there are people who watch me purify the vessels at the altar after communion. While it is edifying--if they realize what it means--I don't see why it is something anyone should feel the need to observe; and yet they do, because the priest is "doing something." Something in us is distracted by that. That's just human. I.e., the time of silent prayer, after communion, is probably more reflective if the priest is sitting or kneeling; which, when time is not an issue, I do after the purification. But when the clock is ticking, or a baby is screaming, then I move Mass to a conclusion.
Father has written an excellent essay which clarifies some aspects of what is happening by intent from the Holy Father. Please read his excellent essay!

Benedict XVI leads the faithful in ‘looking together at the Lord’

Shawn Tribe of the New Liturgical Movement posts a story from the Catholic Herald by Dr. Alcuin Reid on the Papal Mass at the Sistine Chapel. Here is a portion of this essay:

"What matters is looking together at the Lord." These words, written eight years ago by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, explain a subtle but decisive liturgical reform being enacted through the personal example of Pope Benedict XVI.

The latest and perhaps most striking step in this reform took place on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord when, as has become customary, the Pope celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel and baptised newborn infants. As papal ceremonial goes, this is not usually a grand liturgical occasion: the Mass is in the vernacular and is largely said, not sung.

Yet it was precisely there – in perhaps as close to a parish setting as papal ceremonies often get – that the Holy Father chose to make a significant liturgical adjustment. Instead of celebrating the liturgy of the Eucharist at a temporary altar-table set up for the occasion that would have had him "facing the people" (as has often been done in recent years), at the preparation of the gifts Pope Benedict went up to the original altar of the Sistine chapel (which stands against the wall on which Michelangelo painted his Last Judgement) and celebrated "facing East" or "towards the Lord" as it were. The Pope faced in the same direction as all those present – towards the liturgical "East", towards the cross – in continuity with popes (including Pope John Paul II) and generations of the faithful before him.

Let us be clear, this has nothing at all to do with the Pope's decision that the more ancient rite of the Mass (in Latin) be available to those who wish it. No, this Mass was according to the modern Missal of Paul VI, in Italian. And that is why this occasion was so important. For in this silent gesture Pope Benedict stated once and for all that there is nothing at all wrong with using the older altars in our churches. For as he wrote in his preface to Fr Michael Lang's book Turning Towards the Lord: "there is nothing in the [Second Vatican] Council text about turning altars towards the people."

The story is a thoughtful essay and worth checking out!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Chabanel Psalm Project

Once again, Fr. Z. has found a gem! The Chabanel Psalm Project is a complete collection of Psalm responses set for organ for use at Mass. As the site states:

The Chabanel Psalms (generally speaking) are modal and based on Gregorian chant. They were harmonized using a very eloquent system of Gregorian modal harmony. However, many of them need not be accompanied by the organ. Then, too, many of the responses (and, actually, even the verses themselves) can be sung in harmony, but this is only recommended for groups that read music very well.
The Psalms are presented as PDF files that are free for download. Please visit the site and browse. There is much to discover! And, don't forget to inform your Pastor about this resource!

A breath of fresh air is wafting through St Peter’s

James MacMillan has an Op-Ed piece in the The Catholic Herald (U.K.) that mentions religious blogging and Fr. Z. in particular. If you want to read Fr. Z.'s comments on the article, check out his site. I would like to post a couple of portions of MacMillan's piece that make for good points for a discussion:

One particular American blogger, Fr John Zuhlsdorf, has recently hailed what he calls “the return of triumphalism”. Ever since Vatican II this has been a taboo word in the Church, but he sees it as a good thing. Is this yet more evidence that we are moving into a new, more confident era for the modern Church? That Catholics are more and more prepared to stand up for their identity and their core values? That liberal secularists and liberal Christians have failed in bullying orthodox Catholics into submission? Is it really time to become assertive about the faith in the public square?

To be honest, there is nothing particularly serious, scholarly or analytical about Fr Zuhlsdorf’s site. There is, however, a knowing lightheartedness in appearing to indulge some guilty pleasures. He is in raptures about recent liturgical developments in St Peter’s, and that “more and more, Pope Benedict’s intentions are being clarified in regard to the Church’s traditional liturgical expressions”. There is great enthusiasm for the increased reappearance of Gregorian chant, flappable excitement at the use of the correct, ornate vestments, and at the good taste of medieval images of Mary chosen for the ceremonies. The Holy Father is hailed for his “dedication to formal liturgical ceremony and also popular devotion, which is also of great importance in the life of the Catholic people. They strengthen each other, and the Holy Father understands that.

“He is giving a good example as Bishop and chief pastor of Rome to his city and to the world… his way of showing the bishops and priests of the world how this is to be done”. Confident, assertive, provocative stuff.

It is not just in the liturgical sphere that we see a new impatience with the comfy laxness of the previous generation. For many years successful professional Christians have sought to ingratiate themselves with their liberal secular associates by playing down the parts of the Church’s teaching that caused most offence. Nevertheless there was more at stake here than just their incorporation into trendy sophisticated company.

Secular liberals have gladly gobbled up all these concessions and now want more – the complete obliteration of religion from public life. In the process liberal Christians have lost the respect of their secular peers. They gave no indication of intellectual rigour or ethical integrity in their eagerness to ditch bits and pieces of the faith. Their faith has been caught in a cruel light – their Christianity is bland, sentimental and anaemic.

History will look back unkindly on the generation of Vatican II Catholics who were handed such a precious pentecostal gift of grace – a unique opportunity to purify the Church, only to squander it disastrously. They bent over backwards to accommodate the zeitgeist, rather than open a generational heart to the Heilige Geist. This is not what John XXIII foresaw when he inaugurated his great reforming council. He would have been horrified to see how many Catholics fell prey to the trendy nihilism of the 1960s, duped by a destructive iconoclasm which has eroded so much of the West’s culture and morals.
And a second snippet....

The western world’s love affair with self may have taken off in the 1960s but it will only get worse. The Catholic Church must provide a counter-cultural challenge to this, and offer the alternative of Christ’s own way.

It is not triumphalist to say this, but it requires the Church to be happy and confident in its own skin. Catholics need to know what it means to be Catholic – to understand what our core values are, and to feel they are not just worth defending, but worth proclaiming from the rooftops. The young generation of Catholics are right to be assertive about our beliefs in the public square. If we do not speak boldly and honestly to power in these contexts, if we run scared in the face of the new anti-religious elites, we will be expelled from the public square, never to return.

Perhaps American bloggers like Fr Zuhlsdorf know this. Our British reserve can make us cringe with embarrassment in the face of such brash self-confidence, but we may have to develop our own ways of being assertive.

We can begin with the liturgy. Nothing signals the weakened state of the modern Church more than the contemporary practice of Catholic liturgy in hundreds of churches throughout the land. A breath of fresh air is wafting through St Peter’s, and in his own gentle way Pope Benedict is inviting the universal Church to taste the beauties and spiritual sustenance of true Catholic worship. I am convinced that from the liturgy everything else will flow. We British don’t flap with excitement, but there may be good reason for us to pray for Christ’s Church with a warm glow of expectation and confidence as we look with hope to the future.
This is an essay to be read and enjoyed!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Top 10 neglected Vatican stories of 2007

Lest I forget this news story, Fr. Z., reports on the return of the TLM to Ave Maria University...finally! The Mass will be said by Father Joseph Fessio.

John Allen of National Catholic Reporter summarizes what he feels were the ten most neglected stories concerning the Vatican in 2007. Here is a snippet:

4) A pope of hope: Despite his erstwhile reputation as an Augustinian pessimist, Benedict XVI struck two major blows for hope in 2007. In April, the International Theological Commission, acting on his recommendation, suggested that limbo (a destination for unbaptized babies in the afterlife) could be set aside in favor of hope for their salvation. In December, Benedict issued his encyclical Spe Salvi (“Saved by Hope”), offering a positive spin on eschatology. The Last Judgment, for example, is not a threat of damnation, but a promise that justice will eventually prevail in a world in which evil too often goes unchecked.

3) Redefining dialogue with Islam: In October, 138 Muslim scholars, jurists and clerics, representing all major Islamic traditions, wrote to Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders, suggesting that love of God and of neighbor represent a common theological ground. While Benedict appreciated the gesture (in mid-November, he proposed a meeting with the signatories to be organized by Jordan’s Prince Ghazi), he and his top lieutenants have signaled that they’re less interested in theological exchange than in working with Muslims on practical diplomatic, social and cultural matters -- beginning with religious freedom, and especially the status of Christians in majority Muslim states.

2) A double play for Catholic identity: In July, Benedict XVI authorized wider celebration of the old Latin Mass, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith asserted that Catholicism remains the lone “true church.” Both were victories for efforts to buttress traditional Catholic identity. On the ground, however, Benedict’s Latin Mass motu proprio has not yet been the revolution some anticipated. A November New York Times survey found that while some younger Catholics appear drawn to the old rite, new interest has surfaced in just one or two parishes in each of the 25 largest archdioceses in America.

1) Christ at the core: For Benedict XVI, 2007 was clearly a Christological year. In his book Jesus of Nazareth, in his speeches in Brazil, in the Vatican’s notice on Jesuit theologian Jon Sobrino, in Spe Salvi, and in countless other venues, Benedict hammered home his core message to the modern world: A just society cannot be built without reference to God, and only in Christ is the full reality of God made clear. Preaching Christ is thus not a distraction from building a better world; it is building a better world. Perhaps that’s why Benedict was often invisible to global newspapers; a pope talking about Christ may seem the ultimate in “dog bites man” stories, but it was nonetheless Benedict’s clear idée fixe.

The story has not gotten the play it should and is well worth the read...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Forum: Ad orientem: the single most important reform

Father Z. on WDTPRS says that Phil Lawler "nails it" with this article on Catholic World News. Here is a bit to let you see for yourself:

If you read about the ceremony in the secular media, you almost certainly read that the Pope had "his back to the people." While that description is not inaccurate, it is reflects a distinct perspective. You could just as well observe that the Holy Father and the other worshipers in the Sistine Chapel were "facing in the same direction."

When the priest-celebrant faces the altar, he looks like what he is: the leader of a community at prayer. Everyone is facing the same way; everyone is involved in the same action. When the priest faces the people, on the other hand, he appears to be a performer, with the people as his audience.

The liturgical changes of Vatican II were intended to encourage more active participation by the laity in the Eucharistic liturgy. But think of any other situation in which one man faces a group: a classroom lecture, a musical concert, a product demonstration, an after-dinner speech. In those situations we ordinarily expect the group to be passive: to listen but not to participate. The speaker or soloist is the focal point of the action; he commands the spotlight.

The holy Sacrifice of the Mass does not belong to any priest. This is the Sacrifice of Calvary. The celebrant is not the central actor in the liturgy, except insofar as he acts in the person of Jesus Christ. When we shine the spotlight on the person of the priest-- on his face and features, his gestures and expressions-- we can easily become distracted from the true meaning of the Eucharistic liturgy.

How often, in the years of liturgical turmoil since Vatican II, has a priest been carried away by the knowledge that he is the center of attention? How many times has the celebrant adopted the attitude that the Mass is his "show," and felt free to adapt the liturgy to fit his own personal style? And how frequently have lay Catholics-- even informed, pious Catholics-- slipped into the same attitude, so that they tell their friends, "I like Father Smith's Mass."
I recommend the entire story as well as the comments!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"A Necessary Conversation" About Ideologized Liturgy

Fr. Rob Johansen, in response to an interesting post by Amy Wellborn, writes a very thoughtful commentary on issues relating to the TLM on his blog, Thrown Back. Fr. speaks about a photo of a priest celebrating Mass "ad orientem," in which Amy asked for respondents to comment. He writes, in part:

Amy asked people for their reactions to the photo, and the reactions were themselves thought-provoking and revealing. What they seem to reveal is something I have noticed before in many of the negative reactions to Pope Benedict's
Motu Proprio and to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, otherwise known as the "Tridentine" rite. What is apparent to me is that many of the objections are ideological rather than theological or spiritual. Here are a list of some of the words and phrases used in the negative reactions to the photo, or other objections and complaints about Summorum Pontificum and/or the Extraordinary Form that have appeared in the media since last July:

"too complicated"
"put off by all males in the sanctuary"
"a period piece…"
"medieval trappings"
"Latin is a dead language"
"the priest has his back to us"
"a step backward"
"liturgy should be simple"

These words and phrases, and others similar to these, characterize much of the opposition to and complaints about Summorum Pontificum and the resurgence of the Extraordinary Form. And what is remarkable is that none of these words and phrases are, properly speaking, either theological or liturgical. Rather, they are ideological. And they illustrate that the post-conciliar liturgy, at least in the United States, has been invested with a rather heavy ideological burden.

I think that the ideologies represented by these terms can be roughly divided into three categories. They are:

(a) Egalitarianism or Democratism
(b) The Ideology of "Progress"
(c) The Ideology of "Authenticity"

The first ideology, egalitarianism, can be seen in such terms as "stuffy", “elitist”, "hierarchical", "the priest has his back to us", and "clericalist". Egalitarianism, of course, is the ideology that seeks to level all differences and distinctions, and asserts radical equality. The problem is that Catholic liturgy is intrinsically "unequal". Liturgy is about we humans, who are not God, worshipping God, who is God. Sorry to belabor something that should seem obvious, but, unfortunately, many have worked for the last 30 years to obscure that obvious fact. Catholic Liturgy is intrinsically hierarchical: In it God comes to us in an act of condescension, witnessed by the angels and saints who are quite literally above and beyond us, through the ministry of a priest who is at the time of the Eucharistic Sacrifice alter Christus. One commenter at Amy's asserted that at Mass we "no longer have an alter Christus". If that's the case, then we no longer have a Mass or Eucharistic Sacrifice; we have something else. Fortunately, the commenter's assertion is wrong: Both Vatican II's Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) and on the Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) make clear that the priest offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice "in the person of Christ" (in persona Christi) and that his priesthood differs from the common priesthood of the faithful "in essence and not merely in degree". In other words, the priestly essence and action in the liturgy is hierarchical. To complain that the Mass is "hierarchical" is to complain of a tautology.
The essay is a form of "ink blot test" of our feelings on the entire composition and purpose of the Liturgy. I think it is an essay worth looking at.