Tuesday, August 29, 2017

On "Fitness" For Elected Office

This is not a political blog, nor do I wish to make it one. But I am greatly irritated by a recurring theme of commentary by putative intellectuals in the political blogosphere over the past nine months or so.  If you just said to yourself, "Hey, that's about how long it's been since the U.S. Presidential election," and if you're guessing my irritation has to do with commentary about President Donald J. Trump, give yourself a gold star.

I am not here to defend or praise Donald Trump as a man or as President. I certainly have my own opinions about him and his actions and stated agenda, but those opinions are not the basis of my irritation. What galls me is the constant drumbeat of the pundit class to the effect that Mr. Trump is "unfit" for the office he holds. That this drumbeat comes from both sides of the standard political fence in the US matters not one iota. For the record, I was just as irritated when I heard or read claims that Barack Obama was unfit or unqualified to be President.  He got elected, just like Trump, and that was all I needed to know.  I didn't have to like it.  The astute reader will see where this is going.

Keep in mind, it is a historically proven fact that the Left will hate and excoriate anyone who disagrees with them, even if he or she were a canonized Saint; in fact, perhaps especially if he or she were a canonized Saint, since the Left generally disdains anything resembling traditional faith and anyone who professes it.  The Right is perhaps less inclined in general to engage in ad hominem attacks on its ideological opponents, but in the present case there is a cadre of self-proclaimed "Never Trumpers" in the conservative/neocon ranks who seem to have forgotten whatever they once may have known about civility and collegiality and respect for others.  Right now, they all are acting like five-year-olds whose tricycles have been taken away.  I wish with all my heart that everyone sitting in front of cameras or keyboards who is beating this drum about Trump's "unfitness" would simply stop. Shut up. Put a sock in it. ENOUGH, ALREADY!

To this complaining chorus of pundits, I answer that:

First, it doesn't matter one bit whether you, in your proclaimed wisdom, think Donald Trump is fit to be President.  He meets the Constitutional requirements for the office. His name was legally on the ballot in every state and the District of Columbia, and he won the election in the manner prescribed in the Constitution and laws of the United States of America. Therefore, by definition, he is "fit" to be President of the United States, just as all of his predecessors were.  Whatever may be your personal judgment of him, his past, his personality, his proclivities, his social media habits, his actions in office, or anything else, is completely irrelevant to this fact.

Second, if you're so all-knowing about what the qualities of a President should be, and since you obviously think you're so much smarter and more sophisticated than the umpty-ump million people who voted for the guy, why didn't you run and get elected yourself, or get someone else elected who meets your lofty standards?  Until you do that, please be courteous enough to spare the rest of us your whining. Criticize the policies, argue about the appointments, the social media posts, whatever.  But shut the heck up about "unfitness for office."  You lost that argument last November.

There, I feel better now.  My career as a political blogger is over.

Laudator Jesus Christus!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

On Liturgical Reform and Papal Authority

So, as he has a habit of doing, Pope Francis has set off a blogosphere fireworks display with a speech he made this past week to a conference of Italian liturgists.  As an aside, I note for the record the suggestion by one prominent Catholic blogger, who has spent a good deal of time in Italy, that his "mind reels in dread at the very notion of a room full of Italian liturgists." :)

Cutting to the heart of the matter, in the course of a typically verbose oration, the Pope declared that "we can affirm with surety and with magisterial authority that the reform of the liturgy is irreversible."   He thus used words traditionally associated with dogmatic statements of faith and morals, although he was speaking about liturgical rubrics, which are, by definition, disciplinary in nature, not dogmatic.

For those who may not know, "discipline" and "dogma" (or "doctrine, if you prefer) are terms of art in the Catholic Church. Disciplines are rules made by men, not matters of Divine revelation, and thus are subject to change. Conversely, dogma is grounded in Divine revelation and, by definition, cannot be changed. Why is this? Because God's law, like God, is eternal and immutable.  A good example of a Church discipline is the set of rules surrounding abstinence from eating meat during Lent, which has been modified numerous times over the centuries, while the mystery of the Holy Trinity, i.e., that we worship one God in three divine Persons, is a good example of a dogma.  It has not been, and cannot be, changed in any way since its revelation to humanity through Jesus Christ, although our understanding of the mystery of the Trinity has developed over time, and likely will continue to do so.  Contrary to some Modernist views, it is not possible for "development of doctrine" to effect a change in the essence of the doctrine.  Rather, development can only broaden and deepen our understanding of that essence.  Take a look at Blessed John Henry Newman's famous essay on the subject for more about doctrinal development.

Let us turn back, then, to the Pope's assertion "with magisterial authority" that "liturgical reform," in this case the replacement of the Tridentine Mass with the Missal of Paul VI, commonly referred to as the "Novus Ordo" Mass, is "irreversible."  As has so often been the case since the beginning of this pontificate, a flood of attempted explanations of this assertion has swept over the online Catholic world, with the usual division between those who attempt to justify it and those who criticize it.  For my money, Father Z's review (linked above) is the most satisfactory, although the commentaries by canon law expert Edward Peters and blogger Phil Lawler are also good.  Mr. Peters, as usual, analyzes the issue in great detail and with a canonist's eye.  Lawler comments from the perspective of an intelligent layman.  Both see, as I do, significant confusion arising from the attempt to apply "magisterial authority" to a discipline, rather than a doctrine.  I will simplify: It just doesn't work. Magisterial authority, in the sense of infallibility, is not applicable to discipline, only to doctrine. Period.

The "irreversible" label is further belied by the history of the Liturgy itself.  It has never been static, and with the sole exception of the huge changes imposed by Paul VI, has developed slowly, organically if you will, over the nearly two thousand-year history of the Church.  The change to the Paul VI Missal was, I am told by many who lived through it, wrenching and disorienting to say the least, and resulted in many, perhaps millions, leaving the Church entirely; this obviously was not the intended result, but it is a fact, and remains a major source of internal disagreement in the Church to this day.  It also was a matter of discipline rather than doctrine, fully within the authority of the Holy See, but by no means permanent, whatever the wishes of the Modernist/Progressive faction might be. I have no doubt that Francis, who has never been shy about his general disdain for people who prefer the traditional Mass, had them and the TLM in mind in saying what he said.  But the point is, no discipline of the Church is irreversible.  If that were the case, then Paul VI would have lacked the authority to impose the Novus Ordo over against the statements of Pope St. Pius V in his implementation of the Tridentine Mass, in the encyclical Quo Primum of July, 1570.  For more detailed analysis of this issue, go here.

Thus, as I see it, many commenters have missed the boat on this one.  The "progressives" who are chortling about Francis putting the "Trads" in their place by whacking them with his "magisterial authority" are wrong, because magisterial authority has no application to liturgical norms.  But so are the Trads wrong, who claim that not only is Francis unable to render the "liturgical reform" irreversible, but also that Paul VI himself had no authority to enact the Novus Ordo Mass in the first place.  Any Pope or Council has the authority to change Church discipline, and that includes liturgical norms.  It's not the infallible Magisterium at work, so it can even be a mistake to do so, but it's licit and valid.  That's the nature of things.  So my advice is, take a deep breath, pray a Rosary, go to Mass (TLM or N.O., your choice), and chill.  The Apocalypse hasn't arrived just yet.

Laudator Jesus Christus!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Questions For Catholics (Fun Post!)

Here's a non-serious post, for a change. Courtesy of Julie over at Connecticut Catholic Corner (see Blog Roll)...here are 34 fun questions to answer.  Post your answers as a comment on this blog and also on Julie's so we can see your answers.  Here are my answers:

1.  Latin
2.  Convert (2005)
3. 1954 (Presbyterian, in a church co-founded by my great-grandfather)
4.  2005, Easter Vigil
5.  St. Thomas Aquinas
6.  Blessed Virgin Mary!
7.  Ordinary (But I wish it were otherwise--long story)
8.  St. Joseph
9.  RCIA team, KofC
10.  The Rosary
11.  The Rosary, Matins (1960 Divine Office) (I'm retired so I have LOTS of time!)
12.  A Rosary
13.  Lent  (Yes, really.  Forced spiritual growth!)
14.  Other than Easter...Our Lady of Fatima
15.  Holy Communion!
16.  Yes
17.  Nine days ago
18.  Marriage
19.  O Salutaris Hostia

21.  The Passion of the Christ
22.  The Hail, Mary song they play after the Rosary on EWTN
23.  Pascendi Domenici Gregis (St. Pius X on Modernism)
24.  Deep blue (almost purple)
25.  Ave Maria (J.S. Bach)
26.  John 12:24 (The verse that triggered my conversion to the Catholic Church! Long story...maybe I'll blog on it someday.)
27.  The Gospel of St. John.  Or the Confessions of St. Augustine, if Scripture doesn't count.
28.  Frequent confession? :)
29.  St. Pius X.  Would that all Catholics would learn from him about the Synthesis of All Heresies...and take his Oath Against Modernism!  Benedict XVI is second, since he became Pope one week after I entered the Church, and I was already hugely influenced by his writing, but I'm still so disappointed in his abdication.  One day I hope we learn the full story, as what we've heard so far just doesn't make sense to me.
30.  Oh, there are a lot of them...I won't be a smart aleck and name one of the Apostles, since they ALL were converts...I guess the most helpful one has been Dr. Scott Hahn, although Steve Ray, Father George Rutler and Blessed Cardinal Newman also deserve mention.
31.  Mother Angelica
32.  Carmelites
33.  Catholics who act like they'd rather be Protestants.  Just go, then!  There are at least 20,000 "denominations" you can choose from...
34.  The Sacraments!  Amen!

Laudator Jesus Christus!

On Our Behavior At Mass

There is an old Catholic maxim that provides the basis of today's reflection, "Lex orandi, lex credendi."   The Latin means, literally, "the law of prayer is the law of belief."  More colloquially, it often is recited as "we believe as we pray", or perhaps "as we pray, so we believe."  You get the picture.  The maxim expresses a truth observed by fathers and doctors of the Church throughout her nearly two thousand years of existence.  It bears frequent repetition and contemplation.

Liturgy, which includes both the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Divine Office (a/k/a Liturgy of the Hours), is the public prayer of the Church.  As such, the manner in which we comport ourselves at Mass and while praying the Office (the latter being optional for the laity, but highly recommended!) not only reflects, but forms, the core of our beliefs as Christians.  This is one of the more important reasons why the Church specifies rubrics, or rules, for the Liturgy.

Logically, it follows that the more reverent and focused we are at Mass on the Word of the Lord and the holy Eucharistic sacrifice, the stronger our faith will become in all that the Word and the Eucharist are and represent.  The Word is, after all, God speaking directly to us through the instrument of the authors He inspired, and the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, given to us by God's boundless grace for our eternal redemption, and offered back to the Father by the whole Church in thanksgiving for this indescribably awesome gift.  Since God does not need this offering, he accepts our prayers and remains on the altar, to be received and consumed by us, the faithful members of Christ's mystical body on Earth, as a channel of sanctifying grace, after which we are sent back into the world to carry Christ and his Gospel to all.

This is the essence of the Mass, which we accompany with prayers, chants (preferably) or songs, and with meaningful gestures, all according to the rubrics--standing, kneeling or sitting at appropriate times for appropriate reasons.  As the priest or bishop leads the faithful in prayer, all should be participating not only externally but internally as well, praying from the heart all of the words of our audible responses as well as silently praying with the priest as he consecrates the Holy Eucharist.  As stated in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal: (a/k/a "G.I.R.M., or the "rulebook" for the liturgy):

17. It is, therefore, of the greatest importance that the celebration of the Mass or the Lord’s Supper be so ordered that the sacred ministers and the faithful taking part in it, according to the state proper to each, may draw from it more abundantly[26] those fruits, to obtain which, Christ the Lord instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood and entrusted it as the memorial of his Passion and Resurrection to the Church, his beloved Bride.[27]
18. This will fittingly come about if, with due regard for the nature and other circumstances of each liturgical assembly, the entire celebration is arranged in such a way that it leads to a conscious, active, and full participation of the faithful, namely in body and in mind, a participation fervent with faith, hope, and charity, of the sort which is desired by the Church and which is required by the very nature of the celebration and to which the Christian people have a right and duty in virtue of their Baptism.[28]
[26] Cf. Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 14, 19, 26, 28, 30.
[27]Cf. Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 47.
[28]Cf. Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 14.

Now, a question: how many Catholics in the pews at any given U.S. parish understand any, much less all, of the foregoing?  More importantly, how many act accordingly when they attend Mass?  If you answered "hardly any", you're probably right.  And that's sad.

A fellow blogger recently commented on this general topic, expressing her frustration and mystification with the way so many Catholics in the U.S. engage in extraneous gestures at Mass, such as raising hands in the priestly orans position, and/or holding hands (like Protestants!) during the Our Father, neither of which is prescribed by the faithful by the G.I.R.M.  Here is a short excerpt from her post:

I know why I used to lift my hands in the air when I was a Protestant during services. It is a verse from the New Testament (there are several other verses as well, some in the Old Testament) and encouraged by the ministers to join them in raising our hands (the only 'priesthood' is among all the believers). This was done to show the congregation was the same as the minister- mere believers. Ministers were nothing special.
1 Timothy 2:8 "I will therefore that men pray in every place, lifting up pure hands, without anger and contention."
But that isn't how a Catholic Mass works...or so I thought when I first became Catholic a decade ago. The missal said "stand" and I stood, the missal said "sit" and I sat, the missal said "kneel" and I knelt. The missal never said "hold hands" or "raise your hands in the air" etc., so I didn't, but others do. I don't get that. 
Read the rest of her post here.

I think Julie makes a great point.  And it's not confined to raising hands or holding hands during the Our Father.  Look around you the next time you go to Mass on Sunday, and ask yourself these questions:

1.  Before Mass, are people kneeling in prayer as they prepare to hear the Word of God and witness the miracle of the consecration of the Holy Eucharist?  Or are they glad-handing and chattering as if they're attending a happy hour or a birthday party?  I'll bet the latter greatly outnumber the former.

2.  Are you and your fellow parishioners dressed as if you're preparing to meet the God who created the universe out of nothing?  Or like you're going to a ballgame or to the beach?  In my regular parish in the Great State of Texas, where summer lasts for the better part of the year, it's mostly the latter. Shorts, tank tops or t-shirts, jeans, and flip flops are everywhere.  (I sometimes want to ask these people if they would dress that way for a personal meeting with the Governor or the President?  And if so, why would they not show at least as much respect for Jesus in the Eucharist as to an elected politician?)  The more "formally" dressed are likely wearing something appropriate for the golf course or "casual day" at the office.  I confess falling into this category myself, since while I never wear shorts to Sunday Mass, I rarely even take the trouble to wear a sport coat and dress slacks, much less a suit and tie, which would be most appropriate to the occasion.  Mea culpa!

3.  Are you one of the unfortunates whose parish forces a completely artificial "let's all greet our neighbor" ritual into the beginning of the Mass?  The "Liturgy of the Greeting" that doesn't appear anywhere in the G.I.R.M. or Missal?  If so, you have my sympathy.  You should be getting ready to meet Christ in the Eucharist, instead.  But I'm repeating myself.

4.  After Mass starts, how many are really paying attention to the readings, vs. looking at their smartphones, or gazing around at just about anything except the lector or the deacon or priest? Again, the latter probably outnumber the former.

5.  Back to Julie's comments quoted above--I'll almost guarantee you that most of the people are at least reciting the Our Father in the orans position, if not holding hands Protestant-style with total strangers. Amiright?  Eeeuw.

6.  Now comes my least favorite part of the Mass, the "sign of peace."  Is it barely controlled chaos, not to mention a great way to spread cold and flu germs throughout the congregation?  And if you have the temerity to refuse to shake hands with everyone around you, get ready for the hurt or even angry expressions on the faces of your pew neighbors, or even to be poked and prodded by someone who wants to insist that you hold hands with them.  Sheesh.  The more reverent parishes omit this optional exercise, and I wish mine would.  Notice, you'll never see it done during the televised EWTN Mass celebrated at their chapel in Irondale, AL or at the Shrine in Hanceville.  Never.

7.  Aaaand....Holy Communion.  Does your congregation unanimously shuffle down the aisle toward the priest or "Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion" as if walking up to the counter at Burger King, without even so much as a reverent bow of the head? Does anyone make a profound bow, or even maybe genuflect, before receiving the Blessed Sacrament?  Very rare in most places, I would guess.  The real question here, I think, is: how many folks act as if they are about to hold in their hands or receive on their tongue the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ?  Do not most people treat the whole thing as nothing more than a symbol, a cultural exercise devoid of faith in the Real Presence?  In other words, aren't most people acting like they don't really believe what the Church teaches about the Holy Eucharist?  And do you ever wonder how many of those people heading down the aisle to receive the Eucharist have darkened the door of a confessional at any time in the recent past?  Or even the not-so-recent past?  Amazing how many people never commit a serious sin, isn't it?  :)

All of the foregoing behaviors (excepting, I think, the ones in paragraph 7) might seem more or less innocuous by themselves, but added together they spell a significant lack of reverence for, and likely tenuous belief in, the truths of the Mass, and therefore the key truths of the Faith itself.  And these are the behaviors of people who actually attend Mass!  To paraphrase the Holy Apostle Paul, how much more lack of faith must there be in those who don't even bother to show up on Sundays?

Here's the thing: we didn't arrive at this state of affairs quickly.  We are witnessing the cumulative effects of decades of neglect of proper instruction, both in homes of the faithful and in the parishes and dioceses.  We are stuck with a whole generation or two, at least, of priests and bishops who were formed under Modernist seminary faculty, as a result of which they themselves often do not fully believe all that the Church teaches.  Even if they do believe, so long as the money keeps rolling into the parish and diocesan coffers, they see no reason to "rock the boat" by admonishing the faithful as to proper behavior in the celebration of Holy Mass.  The Novus Ordo liturgy itself also must share a large chunk of the blame, having stripped so many pious prayers from the Mass while it shifted the focus of the liturgy from Christ on the altar to the priest and other "ministers" milling around the sanctuary--a liturgy centered on Man instead of God.

One way to find more reverence at Mass it to attend a TLM parish, but most of us don't have that as a realistic option, at least not yet.  Otherwise, there's not much any of us can do by ourselves, except resolve to provide a good example to our fellow parishioners, and spend time in prayer and adoration asking the Lord to help move the hearts and minds of all toward a more reverent and respectful attitude, in word, gesture and deed.  And I suppose I should spend less time worrying about how other people behave and do a better job myself of imitating Christ.  That's a full-time job for anyone.  But it still makes my heart ache to see so many people essentially disrespecting Our Lord in his own house.

Laudator Jesus Christus!

Monday, January 23, 2017

On Mission Statements

I am now retired, but I spent over 30 years working in a large US corporation.  In the course of my career, my company went through all of the corporate management fads that swept American businesses, one of which was the infatuation with "mission statements" that began not too long after I came on board in 1983.  This is not the forum in which to discuss the pros and cons of the mission statement culture; like most corporate fads, it has its good and (mostly) bad points, and is only as effective as the people who use it.  I only bring it up because...believe it or not, my parish has a "Mission Statement." I won't repeat it here, but it's somewhat verbose, running fifty-five words, and is stated as the "mission" of "we, the members of St. XYZ parish."  That seems a bit exaggerated, since like most "modern" parishes, all the work not done by the priests and deacons and paid staff is done by about five or six percent of the registered parishioners.  Another fifteen to twenty percent actually show up for Mass at least once a week, and the rest are phantoms except possibly at Christmas or Easter, when they roll in with their guilt offerings (much appreciated, but where were you the rest of the year?) and clog up the church and the parking lot for the rest of us.  :)  In any event, the idea of "we, the members" issuing the mission statement is, in my view, just silly, and is one of the regrettable results of the attempt by the Second Vatican Council to de-emphasize the Church hierarchy.  As far as I can tell from studying the history of the past fifty years, (admittedly just the blink of an eye in the overall 2,000-year history of the Church), we likely would have been a lot better off if they had left the hierarchy alone and concentrated more on evangelizing and saving souls than on trying to make lay people feel more important.  Which leads me back to my real point.

The notion that a Catholic parish needs a spiffy "mission statement" at all simply bewilders me.  This is not a business.  It is not a public service organization, despite all the charitable and community works we do--those are some results of what we do, not the essence.  Every parish is simply a place where we gather to worship the God of the universe and to thank him for sending his Son to die for us, that we might have the chance to spend eternity with him in Heaven, and where we can receive the Sacraments established by Christ as channels of sanctifying grace to help us along the way.  So the "mission statement" ought to be very simple: "To bring souls to Jesus Christ and thus to eternal salvation."  There you have it, in eleven words that probably could be shortened even more.  Anything else is redundant.

Laudator Jesus Christus!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Different Gospels

In Matins for today, January 22, we begin a sampling of readings from St. Paul's letter to the Galatians. Readers are undoubtedly familiar with the often surprising way in which Sacred Scripture presents messages relevant to the events and concerns of our time and our individual lives, and today's reading was a great example.  Here is an excerpt, emphasizing the verse that particularly caught my attention:
(Galatians 1:8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.
9 As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12 For neither did I receive it of man, nor did I learn it; but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(Emphasis added.)

In your correspondent's opinion (which I hope is humble), these verses ought right now to be a subject of deep reflection on the part of certain Bishops and Cardinals of the Church.  I mean those who are telling the faithful that "pastoral accompaniment" and "discernment" allow for practices involving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist which are quite clearly contrary to the bimillenial praxis and teachings of the Church. For the most glaring example thus far, go here. Not incidentally, these practices are just as clearly contrary to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ himself--which, come to think of it, might just be why the Church teaching has been what it has been for almost 2,000 years.  (Sarcasm off.)  One of several examples from the Gospels follows (emphasis added):

(Mark 10)

2 And the Pharisees coming to him, asked him: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
3 But he answering, saith to them: What did Moses command you?
4 They said: Moses permitted to write a bill of divorce, and to put her away.
5 Jesus answering, said to them: Because of the hardness of your heart, he wrote you that precept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.
7 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife.
8 And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
10 And in the house again his disciples asked him concerning the same thing.
11 And he saith to them: Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
Similar words can be found in Matthew 5, Matthew 19, and Luke 16; see also 1 Corinthians 7:10.

Now, your correspondent is just an ordinary layman, trying to live according to the Lord's Commandments and example, and probably not doing a great job of it.  So I don't presume to know what could be in the hearts and minds of prelates and shepherds of the Church who are creating what looks an awful lot like a de facto schism by telling other ordinary laypeople that what the Church has strictly prohibited for almost 2,000 years is suddenly now OK.  I'm no historian and certainly no theologian, but I'm also not an idiot, and I know a logical contradiction when I see one.  It cannot possibly be OK in one diocese but a serious sin in the next one for a person living in a second "marriage", without having had the first marriage declared invalid, to be admitted to confession and holy communion with no intent to cease marital relations with the second "spouse." Yet, that is exactly the situation we now see before us, in the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the one founded by Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life.  One of the two cases is seriously wrong, and while I'm also not a betting man, I would put pretty much all I own on the 2,000 year old practice, which matches the words of Sacred Scripture, being the right one.  Again, I do not and cannot know what is in the hearts and minds of the bishops and cardinals who are promoting the other practice, but it seems to me, based on their words and actions, to be one designed to please men, not God.  Whereas, St. Paul wrote..."If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."

Please pray and fast and offer sacrifices for the Pope and all the Bishops and all of our priests.  This is a matter affecting the eternal salvation of souls, starting with theirs. "And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required...". Luke 12:48b.

Laudator Jesus Christus!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Does Anybody Really Know What Day It Is?

Today, September 8, is the date on which the Roman Catholic Church has, since approximately the Sixth Century, (in other words, for no more than about 1500 years) celebrated the birth of Our Lady, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  While it is far from the most solemn Marian feast day on the Church calendar, it's still a big one, because it's her birthday (or at least, the day we've chosen to celebrate it, because we don't really know exactly what day she was born.)  We love and honor Mary because Jesus gave her to us as our spiritual Mother as he hung in agony on the Cross, and because ever since that dark day her sole occupation has been to lead each and every one of us closer to her divine Son, all glory and honor to him forever and ever, Amen!  This, not to mention that as any good Catholic knows, we are pretty sure Jesus loves his Mother a lot, and that it makes him happy when we love her, too. 

Now, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a nice email service that sends out the Scripture readings for each day's celebration of the Mass, very early in the morning.  They also have a general communications email service.  Anyone can subscribe to both of them at no cost by going to the USCCB website. I get the daily Mass readings and also subscribe to the general email blasts because every now and then they actually send out something really interesting or helpful.  So on the day the Church celebrates the birthday of Mary, our Blessed Mother, does the USCCB mention this, and perhaps suggest ways in which we might honor her in prayer, and ask her to intercede with her Son for us, and for others in need?  No.  In fact, there is no mention whatsoever of today's feast.

Instead, we get this:
"In light of recent incidents of violence and racial tension in communities across the United States, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has invited faith communities across the country to unite in a Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities on September 9th.

To assist in observance of this occasion, USCCB is offering a Prayer for Peace in Our Communities prayer card."
How nice.  But not one word about the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.  That was the best that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops could do today?

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm as big a booster as you'll find anywhere of prayer as our number one tool against everything bad in the world and in support of everything good, in this world and the next.  All prayer is good, and when groups of people get together to pray for the same things, it's even better.  It's especially handy for the salvation of souls through the redeeming grace of our Lord.  (You know, that's sort of why we think it's important to go to Mass at least once a week!)

But to the USCCB communications team I have to say: You, of all people, should be aware that in the entire liturgical year, the Church only celebrates the nativity of three people--Jesus, Mary, and St. John the Baptist.  Every other saint is honored either on the date of their death (i.e., their birth into eternal life), or some other important date, such as being ordained a bishop or being elected Pope. That would tend to suggest that, well, maybe the Church thinks those three people are kind of important, you know?  Nevertheless, your email blast completely ignored today's celebration of Mary's nativity. 

This is just poor judgment, at best.  The bishops are supposed to be the shepherds of the CATHOLIC Church in the USA, the Church that still gives the Virgin Mary the honor she deserves, when very nearly all others who profess the name of Christ have thrown her overboard except for a couple of weeks around Christmas each year.  But instead of making even the merest mention of today's celebration, a very Catholic day, the USCCB PR machine sends out a release that could have come from any Protestant.

Now, here's the other kicker, another complete swing and miss that really makes me wonder if anyone at the USCCB communications office ever looks at a Church calendar.  Did you perhaps wonder why the bishops chose tomorrow, September 9, as the day to call "faith communities" to prayer to end racial tension?  I have an idea: September 9 is the feast day of another Catholic Saint, St. Peter Claver.  Ever hear of him?  He was a 16th Century Spanish Jesuit priest, whose missionary work in South America was primarily dedicated to the corporal and spiritual needs of the thousands of Africans who were transported into Cartagena, Colombia to feed the slave trade in the New World.  He is now revered as the patron saint of slaves and African-Americans, so his feast day is a perfect time for this prayer effort. But the email communique' from the USCCB managed to miss that, too! Not a word about St. Peter Claver! 

Next year, my suggestion for the USCCB is:  By all means, have another call to ecumenical prayer for the end of racial tension in the US on September 9, the feast day of St. Peter Claver.   But try to remember to mention him in your announcement, and send it out a few days in advance.  Then, on September 8 you can send out a reminder for all us to celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  See how easy that is?

Good thing the bishops have me around to straighten them out, right?  :)

Laudator Jesus Christus!