The Latin Mass

An excellent article from the New Liturgical Movement.

An excerpt.

“Pope Francis’ new motu proprio Traditionis Custodes repeatedly appeals to two objective goods as justifications for the measures it imposes: the unity of the Church, and the preservation in Church practice of the Second Vatican Council’s reforms. A number of commentators have already addressed the first issue, with more opinions coming out by the hour. I am concerned only with the second.

“Traditionis Custodes imposes an immediate return to the liturgical climate that existed before Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. It states that this return is urgently necessary to preserve the heritage of Vatican II. By inescapable implication, to make such an assertion is to state that the status quo ante prior to 2007 was in accord with the Second Council’s reforms. It was not so.

“Indeed, the prevailing condition of Latin liturgy and Latin culture in the Church between the end of the Second Council in 1965 and the 2007 publication of Summorum Pontificum was utterly at odds with the will of St John XXIII, Vatican II’s creator. By extension, it was also contrary to the will of the Council itself, for the Council Fathers never invalidated, altered, or restricted Pope John’s directives on this particular topic, even though they continued in session for more than two years after his death. Logically, then, if the pre-2007 status rerum was not in accord with Vatican II, no one can justify a forcible return to it in the name of the Council.

“Even the most basic outline of modern Church history highlights John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council as gargantuan figures: a portentous reformer and his signature accomplishment. But that is only part of the picture, though it has nearly universally been taken to be the whole. Pope John sought also to be a preserver and a rebuilder of Church tradition, particularly with regard to the use of Latin.

“His authoritative 1962 document Veterum Sapientia [1] envisioned and required a broad restoration of Latin culture throughout the Universal Church, and provided an arrestingly concrete and detailed plan to make it happen. This document consists of a six-page Constitutio Apostolica – a statement of general goals and principles – followed by twenty-five pages of practical instructions which reach a granular level of detail – even listing the specific authors to be studied year by year over the course of a seven-year compulsory Latin curriculum for seminarians.

“It would be difficult to exaggerate the solemnity with which Pope John signed his Constitution. He did so on the High Altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, on February 22, 1962, the feast of the Chair of Peter, second only to the Keys as a symbol of papal authority. As he signed, that very Chair’s earthly relics loomed behind him, enshrined in Bernini’s famous cathedra, while before him lay a packed basilica, a sea of faces including those of two hundred bishops and forty cardinals. One struggles to imagine what more he could have done to emphasize the importance of the document he was signing: hire arc lights, perhaps, and set them up in the Piazza San Pietro?

“Pope John’s Constitution contained, in its sixth and final page, an order for the immediate writing of regulations to ensure it would be implemented speedily and properly. These regulations, called in Latin the Ordinationes (English “Ordinances” or “Statutes”) were finished and published just two months later by the Sacred Congregation for Seminaries and Universities. [2] The Ordinationes were slated to come into legal force in every Catholic university and seminary on earth in October of 1963 [3]; had they done so, we would today be living in an utterly different world. The death of Pope John on June third of that year appears to be the major reason why the Ordinationes were not put into effect on schedule, even though, on the day of his death, the preparations had already been underway for thirteen months – the last eight of those months with the Second Vatican Council in session. [4]

“It is harder to account for the near-total oblivion to which Veterum Sapientia has been consigned in the decades since Pope John’s death. It was duly published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. [5] Decades later, the Constitution alone was included on the Vatican website’s document archive, in its Latin original, and only one vernacular version, in Spanish. The Ordinationes, by contrast, were virtually impossible to find anywhere online outside the AAS, nor was any full translation into a modern language published until early this year. [6]

“And yet it is essential to note that no document of the Second Vatican Council, nor any subsequent papal document, has ever abrogated or even modified Veterum Sapientia. If one defines law as valid statute rather than simply what people happen to be doing, then Veterum Sapientia has been the law and policy of the Universal Church since it was signed, and remains so today.

“What, then, did this law and policy require? What would be our situation now if Pope John’s vision had been respected in practice? It is a matter of bitter irony, at this writing, that the primary reason John XXIII advanced for restoring Latin to its place of honor in the Church was for the sake of Her unity, across space and through time. For Latin, he wrote, “does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all… while the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time … of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular.” [7]

“The elevated language and rhetorical vistas of the Constitution might have tempted cynical Modernists to dismiss it as mere lip-service to a distant cultural ideal. But no one could maintain this opinion for long who went on to read the Ordinationes. They are concrete, remarkably detailed, and equipped with sharp statutory “teeth.” Some sample passages: [8]

  • Instructors who are found to be ineffective for whatever reason, and especially those who are hostile to this language [Latin] are to be removed immediately, lest corrosive indulgence or reprehensible neglect compromise their young students’ first instruction, perhaps irreparably. (II, 7)
  • Latin language studies in high schools for clerics [major seminaries] have this principal goal: that aspirants to Holy Orders should be able to go to the sources of Sacred Tradition understand the documents of the popes and the councils, and likewise the liturgy. The goal is to make [seminarians] able to use this language [Latin] to learn their major academic disciplines, to write Church documents and letters, and to correspond with their brother clergy of other nations. Finally, at the highest levels, the objective is to make them able to take part in the sort of ecclesiastical debates on articles of Catholic faith and discipline which occur in councils and meetings… (II.i.§2)
  • This curriculum is to last at least seven years, for young people beginning their Latin classes in seminaries. They are to have no fewer than six hours per week in the first five years, and no fewer than five hours weekly in the remaining two. (II.ii.§1.1)
  • … the other academic disciplines will have to be sequenced and abridged (and some perhaps cut entirely or left for later), so that Our mandate concerning the time to be given to Latin language study may be obeyed in every respect. (II.ii.§2)
  • Latin language teaching method ought to cause students to acquire the ability to use it. For this reason, the overflowing philological pot-au-feu which makes up nearly the entire menu in schools of the Humanities, especially graduate schools, will have to be thrown out, since it does not give the nourishment one would reasonably expect from such study. (II.iv.§2)
  • Any textbook used for teaching Latin syntax shall itself be written in Latin. (II.iv.§7)
  • The academic disciplines to be taught in Latin are: Theoretical Philosophy; General, Dogmatic and Moral Theology; General and Specialized Introduction to Sacred Scripture, and Canon Law. (II. §2)
  • The professors by whom the major ecclesiastical academic disciplines are to be taught in Latin must 1. Prepare everything carefully in Latin; the Latin must be clear and correct, as the dignity of these disciplines requires. They are not to rely on extempore speaking as a form of discourse. 2. Be selected for this task with an eye not merely to their expertise in their own discipline, even if it be unique; it must also be ascertained that they possess the requisite knowledge of Latin and ability to use it. 3. Be informed of this requirement in a timely way so that they may prepare themselves to meet it; appropriate support shall be provided to them so that they may prepare. 4. Be removed from their positions if they neglect and hold in contempt the requirement given here for using Latin in their teaching, lest by their instruction and example they harm their students. (III. ii. §6).

“An exhaustive study of Pope John’s vision is beyond the scope of these remarks. But these sample passages make it unavoidably clear that the father of the Second Vatican Council firmly intended the post-Conciliar Church to enjoy a robust intellectual and spiritual culture based on Latin and lived through Latin, as it had done through all its prior history. The Mass itself, which went into the Second Council in Latin and came out of it still in Latin, was to have flourished like the Tree of Life in the middle of a lush garden of letters. How different is this vision from the reality in which we live today!

“To what extent the Council Fathers shared the vision of Veterum Sapientia is an investigable question, especially given what actually happened in the years and decades following the Council’s conclusion. It yet remains a matter of fact that neither the Fathers, nor any subsequent synod, nor indeed any of John’s successors ever abridged or abrogated it. Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, in fact, were careful to cite it in initiatives of their own.”

Retrieved July 29, 2021 from New Liturgical Movement: Traditionis Custodes vs. St John XXIII: Guest Article by Dr Nancy Llewellyn

Black Elk

I did not know he was up for sainthood, or even that he was Catholic, so this article from National Catholic Register is very good news.

An excerpt.

“RAPID CITY, S.D. — With a wooden cross strapped to the back of a white pick-up truck, a caravan of Knights of Columbus traversed across South Dakota’s wide expanse of prairies and ancient, rock-hewn hills to make a pilgrimage in honor of Nicholas Black Elk, a Lakota holy man, Catholic catechist and possibly a future Catholic saint.

“I just said, ‘We got to take that [cross] up to Black Elk Peak,’” Phil Carlson, a Knight of Columbus from eastern South Dakota, told the Register. Carlson, who coordinated the hike, said he was inspired to organize the pilgrimage after learning more about Black Elk and his cause for canonization through the documentary Walking the Good Red Road: Nicholas Black Elk’s Journey to Sainthood

“He’s up for sainthood, so this is a way to increase awareness.” 

“The first-ever Knights of Columbus pilgrimage took place July 23-24. About two dozen Knights, along with spouses and some of their children, converged on St. Agnes Catholic Church in Manderson, on the Pine Ridge Reservation (approximately an hour and a half drive from Rapid City) and traveled up the dirt road to the hillside St. Agnes Cemetery where Black Elk’s mortal remains rest.

“Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) is most widely known thanks to Black Elk Speaks, John G. Neihardt’s interpretive biography that covered Black Elk’s early life and the Lakota way of life that he had lived in his youth. But the famous book left out the vast majority of the life of Black Elk, who embraced the Catholic faith in 1904 and saw the faith as one with his Lakota culture and at unity with the vocation from the Creator he had received through several mystical visions he reported in his lifetime.

“Black Elk became an energetic Catholic catechist, retaining Lakota practices that harmonized with his Catholic faith. Some traditional practices he set aside, such as healing ceremonies; but as a Catholic, he was frequently called upon to pray for the sick and dying, becoming known as a “prayer man.” 

“He worked closely with the Jesuit priests in sharing the Gospel to Native and non-Native people, often using his “Two Roads” pictorial catechism, and conducted the prayers and led parish life in their absence. By the time he died on Aug. 17, 1950, Black Elk had personally brought 400 people into the Catholic Church.

“Heavenly Father, Great Spirit, behold us who stand before you singing our song of thanksgiving for Nicholas Black Elk,” the group prayed, standing in a circle before Black Elk’s grave and petitioning “Holy Mother Church to recognize his sanctity by acknowledging his presence among the company of saints and as one to imitate in his zeal for the Gospel.”

“Lakota Catholics have made pilgrimages to Black Elk’s gravesite before, heading up to Black Elk Peak in the Black Hills, the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Pyrenees in France where Black Elk would often go to pray. It is here that, as a child, Black Elk revealed that he first experienced a series of apocalyptic visions over his lifetime about the Creator’s vision for all beings to live in unity. A complete account of the visions can be found in Nicholas Black Elk: Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic by Jesuit Michael Steltencamp. This pilgrimage was the first Catholic pilgrimage organized from outside the Lakota nation since Black Elk’s cause for canonization formally began in 2017.”

Retrieved July 29, 2021 from Knights of Columbus Lead Pilgrimage to Honor Servant of God Black Elk| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)

Panpsychism

God’s creation is divinely infused, makes sense and very Teilhardian.

This article from Salon explains.

An excerpt.

“Dr. Martin Picard is an associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, specializing in both psychiatry and neurology. Together, expertise in these two fields suits one well to understanding the essence of what makes one human. Picard is particularly knowledgable about mitochondria, a structure found within nearly all cells that have a nucleus. They provide most of the chemical energy that cells use in their various biochemical tasks, and are sometimes likened to batteries.

“Picard sees something else in mitochondria, too. Last year, he and a Swiss scientist named Dr. Carmen Sandi published a paper in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, which posited that mitochondria do not merely keep us alive, but in many ways, have lives of their own. And, perhaps, are even “social” creatures.

“Sociality has profound evolutionary roots and is observed from unicellular organisms to multicellular animals,” Picard and Sandi write. “In line with the view that social principles apply across levels of biological complexity, a growing body of data highlights the remarkable social nature of mitochondria.”

“They continue: “Similar to individuals among social networks, mitochondria communicate with each other and with the cell nucleus, exhibit group formation and interdependence, synchronize their behaviors, and functionally specialize to accomplish specific functions within the organism. Mitochondria are social organelles.”

“Of course, if mitochondria are conscious beings, that would mean we have trillions and trillions of these brainless beings chilling out in literally every cell of our bodies. That idea may seem absurd until you consider a scientific concept which could explain it: Panpsychism, or the idea that consciousness is inextricably linked to all matter and simply grows stronger as a physical object become more complex.

“This, emphatically, is not what Picard and Sandi had in mind when they wrote their article (Picard told Salon that “I do not know enough about panpsychism to make an informed comment.”) At the same time, their discovery is just one more piece of fascinating scientific trivia that could be explained by this revolutionary theory.

“Panpsychism’s appeal may stem partly from the fact that scientists currently can not explain what consciousness – the thing that gives you a mind and makes you self-aware — actually is. During the 17th century Enlightenment, philosopher René Descartes famously argued for a so-called “dualist” approach to explaining how our mind interacts with our body. He argued the physical matter of our bodies and whatever substance creates a mind are separate entities (perhaps connected by the pineal gland), with our flesh essentially serving as a house for our souls. This argument holds that if science could explain everything, it should be able to quantify a mind/soul — visually describe it, hear it, feel it, measure and record it. None of that has happened; indeed, the very notion of it happening seems nonsensical.

“This may be partly why, although most scientists and philosophers today are monists (meaning they believe our mind directly comes from our physical bodies), dualistic ideas are still quite prevalent in our culture.

“The problem is a lot of regular people, who are not philosophers, are dualists, because they believe in the mind or the soul as a separate entity from their physical being, their physical body,” David Skrbina, a philosopher and author of the book “Panpsychism in the West,” told Salon. “And so a lot of people for religious reasons, and just ‘common sense’ reasons, tend to think in dualist or Cartesian terms without really even understanding it. And so when we talk to the public at large, we are sort of stuck dealing with the Cartesian question, even though most philosophers, I think, do not give it much credibility at all.”

Retrieved July 24, 2021 from Panpsychism, the idea that inanimate objects have consciousness, gains steam in science communities | Salon.com

Saint of the Day

Apostle to the Apostles, Saint Mary Magdalen, one of our patron saints.

Here is the preface to the book about her—available online.

“Life of Saint Mary Magdalene

  • by Henri Lacordaire 1859 –  

Translated from the French 2006

“Preface – In Provence

“As the traveler descends the declivity of the Rhone, at a particular moment, on the left, the mountains open up, the horizon expands, the sky becomes more pure, the earth more lush, and the air softer: he is in Provence. With its back to the Alps, Provence leaves them slowly through valleys which lose, bit by bit, the harshness of the high summits, and it advances like a promontory of Greece and of Italy towards this Sea that washes every famous seaboard. The Mediterranean gives Provence, after the Rhone and the Alps, her third belt, and a river, Provence’s own, the Durance, hurls into her gorges and plains the force of a torrent that never lets up. It is not possible to look at this land without quickly recognizing a natural and historical affinity with the most renowned countries of the Ancient World. Greek colonies conveyed to her early on the breath of the East, and Rome, who gave Provence her name, left her ruins worthy of this power that refused to no-one a portion of her own greatness, because she had enough for the entire universe. When the Ancient World had withered, for a long time Provence, rich in memories, and yet richer in herself, retained in the general breakup of things her personality. She possessed her own tongue, her poetry, her customs, her nationality, her glory, all those gifts which, in certain circumstances, make of a small country a great land. Then, when modern empires had assumed their form and carved out their own territories, Provence, too weak to maintain her independence against her Fate, fell to France like a gift from God, and after having been for the Ancients the portal to the beauty of the West, she became for us the first port where in imagination we meet Italy, Greece, Asia, all those places that lend an enchantment to memory and all those names that touch the heart.

“But if nature and history have done much for Provence, perhaps religion has done yet more. There are places blessed from the beginning of time which are lost in the mists of time. Egypt saw the birth of Moses; Arabia still burns with the lightning from Sinai, and the sand of its deserts has retained the footprints of the people of God, the Jordan divided before this same people and, from the cedars of Lebanon to the palm trees of Jericho, Palestine would hear and see things that would be the eternal preoccupation of humanity. The Son of God was born on these sea shores; there his Word instructed the entire world, and his blood flowed so as to save it. Rome, in its turn, Rome, the heir of everything, received into its walls the legacy of Christ, and its amazed Capitol lent itself to the chaste ceremonies of victorious love, after having for a long period served the bloody triumph of war. There, above all, are the places religion has consecrated, the holy places, those one could believe belonged to heaven rather than to earth. And yet a part was reserved to Provence in this distribution of divine graces attached to the earth, a unique part, and one like the last imprint of the life of Jesus Christ among us.

“When one goes out of Marseilles in the direction of the Alps, one enters a valley alongside the Sea, which remains out of sight because a high mountain range conceals its waves; another mountain chain rears itself up on the opposite side, and, confined as it is between those two walls, the valley runs toward a steep amphitheater which seems to block its further progress, while a river with trees alongside it glides effortlessly through the length of the plain and washes with its fecundity a thousand households. Its name is as obscure as its water. To a certain extent it guides the traveler and, after expanding into a much larger area of open countryside, halted in its tracks by the mountain, it turns suddenly to the left, squeezes itself into a narrow gorge, becomes a torrent, and, rising between a labyrinth of wooded treetops and of bare mountain summits, it finally finds its source near a peaceful plateau, crowned with a huge and solitary rock. Not so long ago one was in the heart of a rich and bustling town, one of the Queens of the Mediterranean; one could hear the sound of the waves or the sound of men; or could see arriving from all corners of the horizon ships propelled less by the wind than by the treasures they carried; now everything is still at the same time as everything is sparse, and, from the stillness as well from the barrenness of this desert, one would believe oneself conveyed by a mysterious passageway to the inaccessible retreat of the ancient Thebaid. Several crumbled walls can be seen in the middle of the plain, several houses standing at the end behind a summit, but the vestiges of human existence in no way diminish the solemnity of the spot. The heart senses it is in a solitude where God’s presence is near at hand.

“In the midst of these rows of elevated rocks, which resemble a stone curtain, the eye picks out a dwelling which seems as if suspended in the air, and at its feet a forest whose novelty strikes it. It is no longer the meager and odorous pine of Provence, nor the green oak, nor anything of the shadowy coverings the traveler has come across on his journey; one would say that by some miracle the North had flung down in that spot all the splendor of its vegetation.

“It is the sun and the sky of the South with the planted woods of England. Close by, only a few feet away, on the side of the mountain, one rediscovers the true nature of the country; this particular spot is the one exception. And if one penetrates the forest, it immediately covers you with all its majesty, similar in its depths, its veils and its silences, to those sacred woods never profaned by the axes of the Ancients. There also only the centuries have access; they alone have exercised the right to cut down the old trunks and to renew their sap; only they have reigned and reign yet, instruments of a respect which comes from something higher than themselves, and which adds to the sudden emotion of sight that of thought.

“Who then has passed by here? Who has marked this corner of the earth with so powerful a footprint? What is this mass of rock? What is this forest? What, finally, this place where everything seems greater than us? 

“O Marseilles! You witnessed the arrival of the guest who first inhabited this mountain. You saw alight from a bark the frail creature who brought you the second visit from the East. The first had given you your port, your walls, your name, your very existence; the second gave you something even better, it entrusted to you the living relics of the life of Jesus Christ, the souls which He had loved most tenderly on earth, and, so to speak, the supreme testament of the friendship of a God. It was from the summit of His cross that Jesus Christ had bequeathed His mother to John the Apostle; for you, it was from the summit of His resurrection, between those shadows, which had been drawn aside, of Death and the white light of eternal life that Jesus chose you to be the tested refuge of his dearest friends. Is it necessary to name them to you? Is it necessary to tell you who they are? No, your memory was always faithful to them, your story speaks to you of them, your walls have mingled the tradition with the memories of your first faith, and the sacred dawn of your Christianity is the very tomb where you venerate in your apostles the friends of Jesus.

“They were Lazarus, the man brought back from the dead in Bethany; they were Martha, his sister, who had seen him emerge from the tomb, and who had believed in the power of the Son of Man before it was made manifest; it was another woman, the sister of both of them, more famous still, more loved, more worthy of being loved, she to whom it was said: “Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much”, she who was the first to see and touch Jesus on the morning of his resurrection, because she held pride of place in this heart wounded moreover by a love that encompassed every living soul right unto death.

“It is about this woman I am writing. Praised in the entire universe by the Gospels, she has no need for a mortal hand to revive in the shadows of the 19th century her glory for all time. No name more than hers has resisted indifference, because sin itself opens paths to men’s admiration, and because virtue carves for her another pathway amongst the generations of pure hearts. Mary Magdalene touches both sides of our life: the Sinner anoints us with her tears, the Saint with her tenderness, the one soothes our wounds at the feet of Christ, the other tries to exalt us to the ravishment of her ascension. But if Mary Magdalene has no need of being praised by any other mouth than that of God, we can take joy in doing what is of no use to her, and in offering her incense which comes back to our heart like a benediction.

“This is our desire. Perhaps also the ruins of the Sainte-Baume will tremble at our voice, and Provence, moved by a neglect which points an accusing finger at her piety, will rediscover, for so great a cult, the love of its ancestors and the munificence of its princes.”

Retrieved July 21, 2021 from Lacordaire’s Life of Mary Magdalene – Translation to English

The Extraordinary & Ordinary Mass

George Weigel—one of my favorite Catholic authors—weighs in, from First Things.

Great article, my only disagreement being I prefer the Extraordinary to the Ordinary..

An excerpt.

“Let me begin by defining my location in the Liturgy Wars.

“I am a Novus Ordo man.

“I don’t agree that the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570 entombed the Roman Rite in ecclesiastical amber, such that it forever remains (as one traditionalist friend recently put it) “the most authentic expression of the Roman Church’s lex orandi [rule of worship].” If that were the case, then the 1962 Missal of John XXIII, which is used in 21st-century celebrations of what is typically called the “Traditional Latin Mass,” is less than fully authentic, as it incorporates changes in the liturgy promulgated by Popes Pius XII and John XXIII.

“I believe that the restoration of the Easter Vigil and the renewal of the Paschal Triduum by Pius XII were impressive developments of the Roman Rite, as I think the richer menu of biblical readings available at Mass today was another important achievement of the mid-20th century liturgical movement.

“I do not regard Latin as a “sacred” liturgical language and I believe it entirely possible to conduct dignified and reverent worship in English.

“I believe that the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy taught important truths, especially about the eschatological character of the Church’s worship as an anticipation of life in the Kingdom of God, and I agree with its teaching that the Church’s worship should be conducted with a “noble simplicity.”

“I think the suggestion from some liturgical traditionalists that the survival of Catholicism demands the restoration of the old Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the old Offertory prayers, and the old Last Gospel is ridiculous: which is also how I view the claims that the Council’s liturgical constitution and its immediate implementation were the result of a cabal of Freemasons, communists, and homosexual clerics.

“I prefer gothic chasubles to fiddleback chasubles and I dislike lace surplices.

“That being said, I also think that the recent apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes [Custodians of the Tradition], which attempts to repeal Pope Benedict XVI’s generous permission for easier use of the Traditional Latin Mass in the 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, was theologically incoherent, pastorally divisive, unnecessary, cruel—and a sorry example of the liberal bullying that has become all too familiar in Rome recently.

“Summorum Pontificum was an act of pastoral solicitude for those Catholics who find it more efficacious to worship according to the 1962 Missal, in what Benedict XVI described as the “Extraordinary Form” of the Roman Rite. It was also hoped that the Church’s broader experience of that Extraordinary Form would lead to a re-sacralizing and ennobling of the Church’s worship according to the “Ordinary Form” of the liturgy, the post-Vatican II missal of Pope Paul VI as revised by Pope John Paul II. In my experience, that hope was being vindicated, as the silly season in liturgy was mercifully drawing to an end.

“I lived that vindication for three weeks in Cracow this summer, as the seminar I led there—a multinational gathering of Catholics from six countries and cultures—celebrated the Novus Ordo reverently and prayerfully, using Gregorian chant for the ordinary parts of the Mass and traditional Latin chants and contemporary Taizé chants (in both Latin and English) as the entrance, offertory, and communion antiphons. Our seminar congregation’s participation in the liturgy was, as Vatican II hoped, “full, active, and conscious”; it was also dignified, reverent, and attuned to the sacred.

“In many American parishes where the Extraordinary Form has been offered as well as the more common Ordinary Form, the unity of the Church has not been impaired. That some proponents of the Extraordinary Form think themselves the sole faithful remnant of a decaying Church is certainly true, and their presence online is depressingly familiar. But it is an empirically unsustainable slander to suggest, as Traditionis Custodes does, that that divisive superiority complex (coupled with an ideologically-driven rejection of Vatican II) is the new normal for those who wish to worship at Masses celebrated with the Missal of 1962. Roman judgments should not be based on the hysteria and antics of the Catholic blogosphere.”

Retrieved July 21, 2021 from Liberal Authoritarianism and the Traditional Latin Mass | George Weigel | First Things

The Pope & the Latin Mass

Good article from First Things, this could get ugly., see here for a sample so far, New Liturgical Movement: Roundup of Major Reactions to Traditionis Custodes

An excerpt.

“Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis’s motu proprio “on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the Reform of 1970,” appears at first glance to be business as usual in the prudential work of governing the Church. Having consulted his fellow bishops, the bishop of Rome has decided to reverse the provisions of his predecessor in Summorum Pontificum, in which Benedict encouraged use of the traditional Latin Mass by way of a general permission for priests to say it. 

“This, writes Francis in his accompanying letter, may now be deemed a failed gesture toward greater ecclesial unity. In practice, it created enclaves of dissent from the reforms pursuant to Vatican II: ”An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.” The decision must therefore be reversed and the opportunity withdrawn. 

“On Friday it was withdrawn, but in a manner that is hardly business as usual. For whatever the truth of the charge he levels, Francis himself seems to have weaponized the Latin Mass in the very act of suppressing it. The obvious goal of the motu proprio is to dissolve certain communities devoted to it, communities that have been a thorn in his side for too long. In the waning days of his pontificate, the thorn is being plucked.

“It is rumored that earlier drafts were less charitable than the final documents. Yet the measures are draconian and the tone, though dignified, remains severe. To make matters worse, Francis has assigned to diocesan bishops the difficult task of suppression while reserving to Rome the right to veto particular acts of clemency, including (at article 4) any permission granted new ordinands to say the Latin Mass. For this, few of his brethren will thank him. Some, who themselves love and respect the vetus ordo, will resist him.

“Others are better equipped to discuss the problems this will pose on the ground, and to untangle any knots that appear in the light of canon law. For my part, I will venture only two further observations. 

“First, Francis takes comfort “from the fact that, after the Council of Trent, St. Pius V also abrogated all the rites that could not claim a proven antiquity, establishing for the whole Latin Church a single Missale Romanum” which for four centuries was “the principal expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.” He thinks he is doing something analogous. Francis does not explain, however, how the form promulgated by Pius—then regarded as the perfect embodiment of venerable tradition and now itself possessing a proven antiquity—can be suppressed without implying that it was fundamentally defective. Nor does he explain its relation to the modern rite. 

“In Summorum, Benedict declared the Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI to be the ordinary expression of the lex orandi and that promulgated by Pius V (as revised by John XXIII) to be an extraordinary expression, “duly honored for its venerable and ancient usage.” While his terminology is not unproblematic, the crucial point is that Benedict did not believe that these two expressions of the lex orandi could divide the Church’s lex credendi. As “two usages of the one Roman rite,” they articulate a common faith. Hence there was no abrogation of the latter when the former came into existence. The law of prayer is indeed the law of faith, in other words, but both are at work in the Mass, not identical to it in some particular form. Let us not forget that the two forms of the Roman rite stand alongside a variety of Eastern rites, each embodying in its own way the faithful Church at prayer.  

“Francis has thrown all this into question. According to his motu proprio, the form promulgated by Paul VI is not merely the ordinary or even the principal expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Church; it is the “unique” expression and will soon be the sole expression. This goes beyond prudence to principle. Are we to understand that the new sublates and eliminates the old? Or even to suspect that Rome finds a moment of truth in what certain Latin Mass proponents claim; namely, that the novus ordo is not really compatible with the vetus ordo, that one or the other must give way?  

“This, of course, Francis denies. It is just the sort of thing he finds problematic about the communities he means to discipline and dissolve. But if actions speak louder than words and if realities, as he likes to say, are more important than ideas, his move to suppress the vetus ordo tends only to reinforce the repudiated claim.”

Retrieved July 19, 2021 from Pope Francis and the Tridentine Mass | Douglas Farrow | First Things

Britain’s History

I’m currently reading this excellent book, The Anglo Saxons: A History of the Beginnings of England: 400 to 1066, reviewed here in First Things.

An excerpt.

“The art of telling stories will always be closely associated with the Anglo-Saxons. Beowulf, the era’s best-known epic poem, begins with a word that is difficult to translate, summoning an audience to attention: “Hwæt!” The same word opens another great poem of early medieval England, The Dream of the Rood, in which the wood of the Cross speaks and narrates a uniquely Anglo-Saxon Passion—a reminder that it was the Anglo-Saxons who built Christian England.

“These people, as Marc Morris observes, were tellers of tales; and yet, until now, there has been no modern narrative history that weaves together the insights of archaeologists, historians, and literary scholars. Morris has risen to the task, tracing the journey of the English-speaking inhabitants of the island of Britain from tribal warbands to a highly sophisticated medieval kingdom on the eve of the Norman Conquest.

“This is a triumph of historical storytelling, woven together from the scattered evidence of archaeology, numismatics, chronicles, charters, and many other sources. The narrative that emerges from these difficult sources is, of course, contentious; after all, even the use of the term “Anglo-Saxon” is now debated by scholars. But the narrative is also compelling, rooted in the primary sources, iconoclastic of received interpretations, and—most importantly—the product of a commanding historical imagination. This is an account of the Anglo-Saxons that will inform our perception of them for years to come.

“It would be perfectly possible to challenge virtually every one of the author’s interpretations: As Morris notes, “The less evidence, the more contention,” especially when it comes to the chaotic documentary void of the fifth and sixth centuries. (By comparison, by the mid-eleventh century there is a comparative richness of documentary sources.) The first question is about the nature of Germanic immigration after the departure of the Roman legions at the beginning of the fifth century. Morris leans toward a more traditional “replacement” model in which Germanic settlers took the place of the Britons in the landscape. Morris places a great deal of weight on the linguistic evidence, which shows that Brittonic (the language of the Britons) had little influence on Old English. If the Anglo-Saxons had largely assimilated the Britons, rather than replacing them, we might expect many more Brittonic loanwords.

“According to Morris, “The broken Britain that the Saxons found. . . had no allure.” Post-Roman Britain was “in every sense a degraded society, sifting through the detritus of an earlier civilisation.” Morris follows in the tradition of Bede by viewing the Britons as decadent, but this is by no means the only possible view of post-Roman society. Recent scholarship by Miles Russell and Stuart Laycock has drawn attention to Britain’s failure to become Romanized in the first place, raising the question of whether the abandonment of urban life in the early fifth century should be seen as a sign of decline, and Susan Oosthuizen has argued that rural Britain continued to prosper in the absence of urban settlement; it simply thrived on its own terms as a non-urban society. 

“Central to the Anglo-Saxon story is, of course, the arrival of Christianity in 597, which offered King Æthelberht of Kent “not only the promise of future paradise and life everlasting, but the immediate prospect of being elevated above his Anglo-Saxon peers.” Yet although the appeal of the trappings of Roman authority accompanied the invitation to become part of Christendom, the Christianization of the English stalled after the creation of the sees of Canterbury, London, and Rochester. It was not easy to unravel the tangles of kinship and attachment to ancestral cults, and Anglo-Saxon kings were “caught between two cultural tides.” Often, royal women were the crucial factor in turning that tide decisively in favor of Christianity, as with Æthelberht’s wife Bertha—or their daughter Æthelburh, who married Eadwine of Northumbria and brought about the conversion of that kingdom.”

Retrieved July 15, 2021 from The Making of Christian England | Francis Young | First Things

Bishop Sheen & Communism

One of our greatest American Catholic clergy spoke out about it relentlessly, as noted in this article from National Catholic Register.

An excerpt.

“In the turbulence and confusion that is going on in America these days, one idea seems to be gaining ascendency — communism. Should we exchange “We the people,” as written in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, for “we the masses”? Should we trade democracy for a totalitarian state? Should we extinguish God in favor of self-worship? How did things come to this point? The abysmal failures of communism in Russia, North Korea, China, Cuba and wherever it was employed are not difficult to see.

“The United States is in need of a strong, clear voice that has the ring of authority. Nearly 100 years ago, Pope Pius XI told Bishop Fulton Sheen to study Marxism and communism and never to speak in public during his pontificate without exposing their fallacies. Obedient to the Pontiff, Bishop Sheen studied Marxism and did his eloquent best to lay bare its errors both in his talks and in his writings. And he did so with both clarity and passion.

“For Bishop Sheen, the notion of welcoming communism as an innovative remedy for all social ills was puzzling. 

“Why can’t the modern mind see there is nothing new in communism?” he asks. “It is a groan of despair, not the revolution, that starts a new age. It is the logical development of civilization which for the last 400 years has been forgetting God” (The New York Times, March 16, 1936). 

“After its record of failures, whatever attraction communism may have for the present world should be even more puzzling. 

“Stalin declared that at the end of his Five-Year-Plan of Atheism, the last church would be closed, the last priest would be executed, and one would not find a trace of religion anywhere. Belief in God would be punishable by death. 

“Before the Soviets seized power, there were approximately 46,000 Orthodox churches. By 1941, the number was reduced to 4,225. Ninety-seven percent of Orthodox monasteries were either closed or destroyed. Cultural elites and intellectuals were sent to the gulag or shot. This does not paint a pretty picture.

“In 1938, Bishop Sheen told a rally in New York’s Carnegie Hall that Americans had been too tolerant of man’s inhumanity to man: 

“We were silent before when 2,000,000 kulaks met death and 60,000 churches were closed by an atheistic government in Russia; we were silent before when 20,000 churches and chapels were desecrated, burned and pillaged and when 6,000 diocesan clergy were murdered in Spain. … Those who cannot pull God down from heaven are driving his creatures from the face of the earth.”

“If there is no God, man cannot be created in his image and likeness. Rather, as the father of modern communism, Karl Marx insisted, man is without personal significance. He is relegated to a category. 

“Marx states in Das Kapital, “I speak of individuals insofar as they are personifications of economic categories and representatives of special classes of relations and interest.” In stating that “the individual, of and by himself, has no values unless he is a member of the revolutionary mass,” Marx was likening human society to an ant colony.”

Retrieved July 15, 2021 from Fulton Sheen and the Persistent Specter of Communism| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)

Urban Missionaries of the Heart of Christ.

A wonderful article about a transformed criminal who is now transforming the lives of others, from Catholic World Report.

An excerpt.

“I would say that the homeless are among the most humble and contrite people in America,” says Scott Woltze, founder of the ministry to the homeless in Portland, Oregon. “Their sins are always before them. They have few illusions about themselves. God is close to them because of this humility and contrition.”

“The setting sun filters through drifts of flame-red poppies and wildflowers nestled in the golden, sun-bleached grass. Wild rabbits emerge briefly from banks of blackberries, only to flit back into the cool shadows. As a few stars begin to gleam overhead and the full moon rises above the nearby hills, the beautiful strains of clear voices, united in an impromptu rendition of “Amazing Grace”, drifts on the still air. The evening is soon filled with the laughter, spontaneous prayer and deep conversations that one would expect in a group of Christian youth dedicated to building fellowship as they enjoy a peaceful getaway from the city.

“Yet this scene it not what it appears at first glance: these singers, encamped along the Springwater Corridor Trail in Southeast Multnomah County, are homeless drug addicts. Touted as a “green space” intended for biking and hiking, as well as a wildlife refuge, the Trail has become a haven for the dispossessed. In addition to wildflowers and rabbits, on all sides loom piles of filth and the stench of decaying garbage; rats scuttle with impunity through the dusk. But on this warm summer evening, the human denizens emerge from the margins to share song, Scripture quotes and the burdens of their hearts with a small band of Catholic lay volunteers. Clad in distinctive, deep red t-shirts bearing images of St. Charles de Foucauld and the motto “Iesus Caritas” (Jesus is love), this group of anywhere from 3 to 12 volunteers can be found throughout Portland, Oregon on a weekly basis. Mostly single men, a few younger college-age women and handful of teens, and representing several local Catholic parishes, they regularly patrol the precarious parallel world that society’s outcasts have built for themselves.

“It’s a world that often resembles a cheesy 1980’s post-apocalyptic action film, but with fewer car chases and mullets. It’s composed of tents, tarps, wood scraps and discarded furniture, of child-like forts erected deep in the thorny underbrush, carpeted with used needles and discarded lingerie that tell of an innocence long gone. It’s a world that most people fight to ignore as they go about their daily lives, or reluctantly acknowledge by discussing in terms of think-tank policies, or economic and societal forces. And it’s a world that won’t be going away anytime soon.

“The homelessness problem is first and foremost an addiction problem,” says Scott Woltze, founder of the Urban Missionaries of the Heart of Christ. A tall, burly man with an affable smile and air of humble, stolid efficiency, Scott adds that: “Anywhere between 90%-95% of those on the streets right now are heroin, meth or alcohol addicts.”

“Even prior to the challenges of 2020, the area in and around Portland, Oregon had been grappling with a significant transient problem. Recent estimates put the permanent homeless population at over 4,000, and while a spike predicted at the start of the pandemic doesn’t appear to have materialized, that’s still a lot of people struggling to survive under dire conditions. Other than some sporadic sweeps of the larger encampments and the placement of a few portable toilets, the city does not seem to have a serious, comprehensive plan for dealing with the immediate problems of chronic street people and their open, rampant drug use. Though a few undoubtedly find themselves living in their cars due to the pandemic’s impact on the local economy, the vast majority are suffering from addiction-related mental health crises and are either unwilling or unable to avail themselves of some of the local resources.

“While it can be frustrating to witness such determinedly poor choices and civic mismanagement, for Woltze, these are real people, not statistics—each one an individual craving to be recognized as worthy of love and respect, despite their troubled histories. And his compassion is not the mawkish or sentimental variety: as a former convict with tons of street cred, Scott has many genuine insights into the complex realities of sin and redemption. And he knows there are practical, real-world solutions: he believes the city has to strike a balance between generously helping the homeless, and becoming a magnet where addicts go to have an easier time as dedicated drug addicts. “Right now,” he says, “Portland is attracting countless addicts from other states, especially given the recent drug decriminalization laws. Jail is not a bad thing for the addict, quite the contrary. It forces them to get clean, and then they often re-evaluate their life and their priorities. The homeless need a break, a reset, and a three month stint in jail has helped many addicts get off the streets for good.”

“Woltze describes his own spiritual journey: “The story of my life is that God knows me so much better than I know myself, and he knows what will sanctify me, and by extension give me deep happiness. Like many of the street addicts I now minister to, I was a high school drop-out and juvenile delinquent. I committed progressively more serious crimes until I robbed three banks in the state of Washington. After my release I went from Portland Community College to Reed College (B.A.) to a full-ride studying political theory in a doctoral program at the University of Michigan.”

Retrieved July 12, 2021 from Into the Belly of the Beast: A day with the Urban Missionaries of the Heart of Christ – Catholic World Report

Simone Weil

I have been studying the work of this incredible person for some time now and recently discovered this wonderful essay about her from Aeon Magazine.

An excerpt.

“The short life of Simone Weil, the French philosopher, Christian mystic and political activist, was one of unrelenting self-sacrifice from her childhood to her death. At a very young age, she expressed an aversion to luxury. In an action that prefigured her death, while still a child, she refused to move until she was given a heavier burden to carry than her brother’s. Her death in Ashford in England in 1943, at just 34, is attributed to her apparent refusal to eat – an act of self-denial, in solidarity with starving citizens of occupied France, which she carried out despite suffering from tuberculosis. For her uncompromising ethical commitments, Albert Camus described her as ‘the only great spirit of our time’.

“This is certainly more complimentary than her university nicknames of ‘the Red Virgin’, ‘the Categorical Imperative in Skirts’, and even ‘the Martian’. Indeed, Weil’s reported interactions with the other great spirits of those times further underline the force of her personality. Simone de Beauvoir, who attended the Sorbonne at the same time, came across her during their student days and described a conversation with Weil sparked by her response to the famine in China:

“she declared in no uncertain tones that only one thing mattered in the world: the revolution which would feed all the starving people of the earth. I retorted, no less peremptorily, that the problem was not to make men happy, but to find the reason for their existence. She looked me up and down: ‘It’s easy to see you’ve never been hungry,’ she snapped.”

“Despite this put-down, Beauvoir admired Weil and her ‘heart that could beat right across the world’.

“Weil took no prisoners in any debate. Although Leon Trotsky had recently excoriated her critique of Marxism, Weil arranged for the Marxist revolutionary to stay in her parents’ apartment in December 1933 and host an illicit political gathering. This did, however, come at the expense of a night-long, intense discussion with Weil. While she always argued softly and clearly, that did not prevent the discussion from being punctuated by violent shouts.

“That heart that beat across the world is perhaps why she always remained outside contemporary philosophical trends, and certainly outside of the academic and elite conversations in philosophy at the time. Weil’s philosophical commitments, while constant, often pale in comparison with her dramatic life and her political engagement. She enacted her philosophy with her commitment to causes, and finally with her body. This began with her declaration of Bolshevism at the age of 10, through to her university involvement in Marxism, trade unionism and pacificism. The first commitment declined as she found in Marxism itself plenty to criticise, though this did not prevent her from joining the republicans in the Spanish Civil War, albeit rather ineffectively. Yet, through all of this, two elements of her character remained constant: her self-denial for the sake of others, and the strength of her will.

“Evident of this totalising, personality-driven self-sacrifice are her attempted actions in the Spanish Civil War. She first tried to join the anarchist Durruti Column, but had to be excluded from combat due to her extreme short-sightedness and the danger that she would pose to her own side. Having failed there, she then demanded to be sent out by the anti-fascist commander Julián Gorkin as a covert agent to rescue the prisoner Joaquín Maurín. When she was refused, Gorkin commented that, as someone obviously not Spanish, she would not be particularly covert and so would be sacrificing herself for nothing; Weil replied that she had every right to sacrifice herself.

“Under the Vichy regime, those with Jewish heritage, which included Weil and her family, were excluded from white-collar professions, and they later fled to New York. She then expended significant effort trying to return, even though it would have been to certain death. One particular plan of hers, which made it back to Charles de Gaulle, was to air-drop nurses on to battlefields, with her at their head. De Gaulle’s alleged reaction was ‘Elle est folle!’ (‘She’s mad!’) Yet, as easy as it is, in the face of such intensity, to find such gestures amusing and even slightly unhinged, this strongly held, strongly asserted desire to give up everything, including life itself, makes her ethical vision so fascinating, because it aims at the precise opposite of her own life – at ignoring all that is particular and assertive in favour of something impersonal and universal. This is a paradoxical aspect of her life: by drawing attention to herself through public acts of radical self-sacrifice, she gained a platform for her philosophical ideas about the universal in humanity and the need to adopt an attitude of impersonal self-effacing attentiveness to others.

“Weil’s ethics can be reconstructed from three key texts written in 1943, the last year of her life. These are the essay ‘La Personne et le sacré’ (1957), the manifesto ‘Draft for a Statement of Human Obligations’, and her book The Need for Roots (1949). Written while she was working in London for the Free French forces, these texts explore several key concepts in Weil’s ethical thought – that ethical action is grounded in our obligation to something impersonal and universal in the other, not in rights; that this obligation is expressed best in the attitude of attention, or reading, towards the other person; and that this obligation is grounded not in the world but outside it. This latter aspect draws both from her philosophical love of Plato and her own religious convictions, stemming from a series of mystical experiences and practices, which brought her to, but kept her at the door of, the Catholic Church. She remained as fiercely singular in this respect as in all others, though her outlook was broadly Christian.

“These concepts are evocatively drawn out in the essay ‘La Personne et le sacré’, translated variously as ‘Human Personality’ or ‘What Is Sacred in Every Human Being?’ Here, she uses two examples to illustrate her ethical vision and challenge our immediate idea of why and how we should act towards others. She begins by focusing on what appears to be a rather common-sense approach to the question of how we should relate to other people – we should look at each of them as a person, with a personality, a certain je ne sais quoi, which we respond and relate to. This is a form of personalism.

“Personalism sees that the personality constitutes the particular metaphysical centre of the person, and thus grounds the rights of the individual. Weil explores this, and asks us to imagine encountering a man on the street. When you do, you notice particular aspects of him. For example, he has long arms, blue eyes, his mind is full of thoughts, probably about nothing in particular. Now, Weil poses her direct challenge: what prevents her from putting out his eyes? After all, if it is to the personality, that particular metaphysical centre of the person, that we owe and direct ethical action:

“If the human personality were what is sacred for me, I could easily put out his eyes. Once he was blind, he would still have a personality.”

Retrieved 7/9/21 from For Simone Weil, our capacity to suffer united us all | Aeon Essays