Saturday, December 23, 2017

THE TENTH CRUSADE: Cardinal Law will be in Heaven LONG before Fr. James Martin

THE TENTH CRUSADE: Cardinal Law will be in Heaven LONG before Fr. James Martin

Fr. James Martin, priest pimp of immoral conduct, had the unmitigated gall to publish a statement complaining that Cardinal Law had a funeral.

Nevermind Cardinal Law - the PEDOPHILES have a better chance of getting into Heaven than Fr. Martin. Christ repeatedly warned the consequences of the spiritual crime of misleading millions of souls. 

Nothing like a mean, spiteful apostate.

CJ Doyle gave an outstanding statement on Cardinal Law's life and death which I publish below in its entirety.


The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today is mourning the death of the former Archbishop of Boston, Bernard, Cardinal Law, who died in Rome shortly after midnight, following a brief hospitalization. Law was 86.

Born in Mexico of American parents, Law, a Harvard graduate, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. In 1963, he became editor of the diocesan newspaper, where he received death threats for his support for the civil rights of African Americans.

Named Vicar-General of Natchez-Jackson in 1971, Law was appointed Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri in 1973, serving until 1984. In 1975, he welcomed and resettled 167 priests, brothers, and novices of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix, who as Vietnamese boat people, were fleeing the Communist conquest of their country. Law gave them a vacant seminary to serve as their new home. 

In 1981, the Holy See appointed Law Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, which permitted married Anglican clergymen to become Catholic priests. This was the beginning of a long movement which culminated in the establishment of Anglican Catholic Ordinariates by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011.

Appointed Archbishop of Boston by Pope Saint John Paul II in January, 1984, Law was elevated to the College of Cardinals in May, 1985. In his homily at his installation as archbishop on March 23, 1984, Law described abortion as "the primordial darkness of our time...the cloud that shrouds the conscience of our world."

A month later, Law attended a pro-life rally in front of the Massachusetts State House. In 1986, he supported a proposed initiative amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution, which would stop the public funding of abortion, earning him a rebuke from Planned Parenthood, which claimed Law came to Boston "looking for a heavyweight fight" on this issue. His pro-life advocacy would also be criticized by former Lt. Governor Thomas P. O'Neill III, who characterized Law's views as offensive.

In 1985, in a speech in Latin at the Synod of Bishops in Rome, Law was one of two bishops to advocate that a new, universal catechism be issued, the first since the Roman Catechism, promulgated in 1570 by Saint Pius V, following the Council of Trent. This resulted in the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by John Paul II in 1992. Law was given the task of overseeing the English language translation. 

In April, 1985, Law wrote, at the request of the bishops conference, a letter to every American prelate detailing the findings of a conference committee which he headed, which declared that Freemasonry was "incompatible with Christian Faith and practice."

In January, 1988, Law, consistent with his longstanding civil rights position, issued a letter which was read at all parishes in Boston, urging the integration of public housing projects in the city. He became however, the first, and to date, the only Catholic prelate in the modern history of Boston to acknowledge that working class Catholic ethnics had, in controversies such as these, legitimate concerns regarding crime and public safety.

In 1989, Law opposed the so-called gay rights law, which made homosexuals a protected class in Massachusetts civil rights legislation. Following an editorial critical of the measure in the archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, Saint Thomas More Chapel, located next to the newspaper office, was vandalized.

In April, 1990, Law became one of the minority of American bishops who implemented John Paul II's decree Ecclesia Dei, which permitted a modest restoration of the traditional Latin Mass.

In June, 1990, while Law was presiding at ordination ceremonies at Holy Cross Cathedral, a mob of militant homosexuals surrounded the building and attempted to gain access. Unable to physically disrupt the liturgy, they attempted to acoustically disrupt it with drums, whistles and boat horns. As the ceremonies ended, they surged forward at police barriers shouting obscenities at worshipers and throwing condoms at priests.

In April, 1991, Law, through his aide, Msgr. William Murphy, asked the League's predecessor organization to oppose a domestic partners ordinance under consideration by the Boston City Council. Although The Boston Globe predicted it would pass by a comfortable margin, it was narrowly defeated following the personal lobbying of Council members by Auxiliary Bishop Lawrence Riley.

Law had a contentious relationship with Jesuit administered Boston College during his episcopate, warning that BC was in danger of losing its Catholic identity. It was Law who intervened to prevent liberal theologian Richard P. McBrien from teaching there. He also once described the Catholic Theological Society of America as a "theological wasteland."

From 1995 to 1999, the Archdiocese of Boston, under Law's leadership, supported the efforts of the Catholic Action League to resist, successfully, a second attempt to institute a domestic partners program in Boston, this time by Mayor Thomas Menino.

In 1999, Law opposed the nomination of Margaret Marshall as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth, saying she was "open to serious charges of anti-Catholicism." As Chief Justice in 2003, Marshall would write the decision in the Goodridge case, inventing a constitutional right to "marriage" between two persons of the same gender. In it, she asserted that the belief in the universal, millenia old definition of marriage was "rooted in persistent prejudices against persons who are (or who are believed to be) homosexual."

In the late 1990's, Law told the story that he was the object of attempted extortion. According to his account, he was warned, that if he did not cease to oppose the goals of the homosexual movement, the homosexual priests in the Archdiocese would be exposed. Law said he rebuffed his blackmailer, telling him to go ahead.

Law's most egregious error, and the one that cost him his position and his reputation, was to follow the practice of his two immediate predecessors, Cardinals Cushing and Medeiros---under whom four-fifths of accused priests in Boston operated---and view the molestation of minors by homosexual predators in the priesthood as a psychiatric disorder requiring treatment, and offering the possibility of rehabilitation, rather than understanding it for what it actually was, a monstrous crime which deserved immediate prosecution and prolonged incarceration. In this the archdiocese did not behave in a manner inconsistent with other institutions of its time, though it should have.

In 2002, members of the plaintiff bar, some of whom had reached settlements with the archdiocese, combined with The Boston Globe, a newspaper which celebrated predators like Paul Shanley, and which had spent thirty years attacking the Catholic Church, Catholic moral teaching, and Catholic political leaders, to expose all of this.

For eleven months in 2002, Law was subjected to a daily cascade of uniformly negative media coverage, driven by the Globe, that is unmatched even in the era of Donald Trump. After hundreds of articles, columns, op-eds, editorials, letters to the editor and television and radio reports, Law's position became untenable.

Meanwhile, victims groups with bullhorns, bent on confrontation, besieged Holy Cross Cathedral, taunting and harassing innocent Catholics going to Mass, who had never done them any harm. Parishioners were forced to walk into church through a police cordon. Mothers were told through megaphones to cover their children's genitals, because Catholic priests were abroad. The cathedral was denounced as a "house of rape."

Poor Hispanics entering Mission Church were greeted with shouts from the sidewalk of "Check their green cards!" and elderly female secretaries at the chancery were forced to pass angry, jeering protesters. This writer recalls one victims spokesman shouting profanities at him on Commonwealth Avenue.

Fifty-eight priests---at least one of whom was a personal friend and supervisor of defrocked predator Paul Shanley---called upon Law to resign. Massachusetts Attorney-General Thomas Reilly convened a grand jury to investigate the archdiocese. Law, who had repeatedly and profusely apologized for his failures, resigned on December 13, 2002, begging forgiveness, once again. He was not to receive any.

Reilly who, unethically, released a grand jury report condemning Law, later admitted that the former archbishop had broken no laws, and could not be prosecuted.

In 2004, Law was appointed Archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome. He retired in 2011.

Law was, and continues to be, an object of demonization unprecedented even in the cases of prelates like Rembert Weakland, who actually committed acts of molestation themselves. On the day of Cardinal Law's death, attorney Mitchell Garabedian held a press conference to denounce Law once again, along with the "trillion dollar corporation called the Catholic Church." During the event, victims talked of having a party, of Law burning in hell, and how they considered "hunting him down in Rome and getting him."  

One victim recounted how he began a meeting with Law by shouting an obscenity at him. Remarkably, Law continued the meeting. This forbearance did not constrain the victim from suggesting that the Cardinal's body be chopped up and dropped in the ocean.

Whatever the derelictions of Bernard, Cardinal Law, this much ought to be said. With Cardinal Law, you never had to wonder where he stood on a public controversy. He was never afraid to enter the fray when he conceived it his duty to do so, and he never hesitated to defend the teachings of the Church which he headed in Boston. Cardinal Law never thought silence was the better part of valor, that speaking the truth was impolitic, or that standing up for what he believed in was divisive.

Law never practiced the fawning, obsequious deference towards politicians who reject Catholic morality that seems to obsess our prelates today. In 1990, then state senator (and future governor) Paul Cellucci was disinvited from speaking at Hudson Catholic High School, because of his support for legal abortion. 

At Cardinal John O'Connors' funeral in May of 2000, Law garnered thunderous applause when he said the Church "must always remain unambiguously pro-life," as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Al Gore sat stone faced in the congregation. The current regime of awards, honors and platforms to opponents of Catholic teaching was not the norm under Cardinal Law.

Nor should anyone forget what Cardinal O'Malley said of Cardinal Law today: "He was well known for visiting the sick, the dying and the bereaved at all hours of the night and day, a ministry that extended to the rich and the poor, the young and the elderly, and to people of all faiths."

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

On The Filial Correction

It now has been over a week since an initial group of 62 Catholic scholars and clergy made public a 25-page plea to Pope Francis which they called a correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis, or "filial correction of the propagation of heresies."  The basis of the correction is a series of passages from the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, ("AL"), together with "words, deeds, and omissions of Pope Francis which make it clear beyond reasonable doubt that he wishes Catholics to interpret these passages in a way that is, in fact, heretical."  
The document quotes in detail the passages from AL which are of concern and then describes meticulously the subsequent "words, deeds and omissions" of the Pope giving rise to the correction, as well as why the writers believe the correction is both justified and necessary.  In the ten days since its publication, the correctio has garnered additional signatures of scholars and clergy, now totaling more than 200, and supporting petitions circulated by two prominent Catholic websites ( and have garnered over 15,000 signatures, and counting.  I am not enterprising enough to insert links to all of my sources, but between the two websites just cited you ought to be able to verify all of the foregoing.

In the modern world of the Internet-based news cycle, a week is a long time, which clearly has proven true in this case.  The blogosphere, and not only the Catholic stations thereof, has been inundated with discussion which falls more neatly than one might expect into two broad categories.  On the one hand, the correctio has been welcomed and its provisions have been summarized or analyzed by Catholics who have for varying lengths of time expressed reservations (to put it mildly) about the Francis papacy in terms of its fidelity, or lack thereof, to the traditional teachings of the Church.  On the other hand, the self-proclaimed "progressive Catholic" media, as well as many who fancy themselves "conservatives" yet refuse to acknowledge there are any problems with the current papacy, have lashed out at the signers of the correctio without a single one of them, so far at least, engaging in even a minimal way with the substance of the issues raised.  I find this disappointing, yet not surprising, at least so far as the overt "progressives" are concerned, and in any event it is quite telling.  If you've read my "about me" page, you know that I am a retired lawyer, and there is a truism among lawyers who have actually tried cases: when you have no case on the facts, you have to attack the credibility of your opponent.  This is precisely what we are seeing right now.  The leftist/Modernist wing and the "nothing to see here, folks" so-called conservatives cannot engage the correctio on the facts because the facts are indisputable.  Go read the document for yourself, rather than relying on me or anyone else to tell you what it says.  If you aren't operating with a closed mind full of pre-conceived notions about how wonderful Francis the Merciful is, you will see the problems.  If you do happen to be one of those who blindly follows Francis and assumes that everything he says must be wonderful just because he occupies the See of Peter, then I pray you will read the document and open your mind and heart to the truth.  It's not pretty, but then, truth often is difficult to accept. 

As far as the signers of the correctio are concerned, rather than being attacked and belittled, these men and women deserve the sincere thanks of every person who seriously aspires to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the one Church he founded, which is the Catholic Church.  I believe these people have laid their names and in some cases their livelihoods on the line solely for love of the Church and the office of Peter.  They have done, in my view, an excellent job of explaining some of the most serious ways in which Francis/Bergoglio has essentially thumbed his nose at Christ and His Church for the past four-plus years, and it's about time (long past time, actually) that Catholics who love the faith as handed down from the Apostles, rather than the Modernist aberration to which we've been subjected for the past few decades, at least, stand up and be heard.  To me, silence in a matter such as this equates to acceptance of the status quo, and I am no longer willing to do that.  A faithful Catholic does not lightly use the word "heresy" but I am convinced that heresy is in fact being encouraged, at least, if not directly propagated, by this Pope and his minions.  Meanwhile, the so-called shepherds of the flock (that's you, bishops!) sit by silently, whether out of fear for their worldly positions or because they actually agree with what is happening, I cannot know. To me, these are the only two possible reasons for their silence, and in either case every bishop who fails to speak out is endangering his own soul and the souls of only God knows how many of his flock.  

Yes, I do believe it is that bad.  We are witnessing a crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Roman persecutions.  It's even worse than the Arian heresy, which after all involved only one issue, albeit a very important one, the Divinity of Christ.  But even so, during the Arian heresy, people living in an objective state of mortal sin were not being told it was perfectly OK for them to receive Holy Communion without repentance and a firm purpose of amendment, or that God might, because of the "complexity" of their "concrete situations", actually be directing them to engage in objectively sinful acts, or that "Jesus loves it when we sin", all of which are either contained in Amoris Laetitia or, in the case of the "Jesus loves it when we sin" remark, have been publicly stated by the current Pope.  

Please, read the correctio, and keep in mind that it only represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of the things this Pope has said and done which conflict with perennial Church teachings.  If you want more and are willing to do a little work to get it, check out this website, which chronicles no less than 166 such instances:

The correctio is a serious effort by serious people to call attention to what they, and many others, believe is a disastrous situation in the Church.  Yet the authors have done what they perceive to be their Christian duty with clarity and charity--the latter being a quality conspicuous by its absence from the chorus of calumny being directed at them by those who prefer to obscure or ignore the truth.  

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Laudator Jesus Christus!

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) 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!