Wonderful Interview

About the Liturgy with Dr. Peter Kwasniewski at Crisis Magazine.

I should mention that my favorite site on the development of the Liturgy is written by Dr. Carol Byrne and the first installment, of a very long series, is found here, A Plea for Silent Participation in the Liturgy – Dr Carol Byrne (traditioninaction.org)

An excerpt from the Crisis Magazine interview.

“Eric Sammons:

“A recent series of articles by three respected Catholic scholars, argued for the superiority of the new rite of the mass over the old. We’re going to talk about that today with liturgical expert about the two rites, how they compare. And basically what we can learn about the liturgy from those articles and from his new book.

“I’m Eric Sammons, I’m your host. This is Crisis Point. I’m the editor-in-Chief of Crisis Magazine. And before we get started, I just want to encourage people to hit the like button, to subscribe to the podcast, to let other people know about it. I really appreciate when you do that. Also, we’re on all the different social media channels at Crisis Mag. Oh, and one thing I do want to mention, we are in the midst of one of our two fundraising campaigns. So please go to CrisisMagazine.com/donate to please donate to the project. We make all of our material, all of our podcasts, all our written material for free but we do need your support.

“Okay, let’s go ahead and get into it. We have Dr. Peter Kwasniewski with us. A lot of times I like to go through a bio, but I don’t think it’s necessary for you anymore. You’ve been on the program, everybody knows who you are. But I want to emphasize one of your latest books. I don’t even know what your latest book is, because you put them out so quickly. It’s like impossible to say what your latest book is. But The Once and Future Roman Rite, it’s an awesome book from TAN, Returning to the Traditional Latin Liturgy After Seventy Years of Exile. And I feel like I mentioned in the opening that there was a series of articles at the… What was the place? Church Life Journal and Notre Dame by three scholars. And I know this book was long time coming written. But I almost feel like it’s just a take down of those articles in a sense, which I know that wasn’t the intention, but it’s almost like providential.

“So what we’re going to talk about today is generically about the liturgy, about the two rites, the Novus Ordo, the Traditional Latin Mass. And by the way, I just know some people that get hung up on the names for these liturgies. I used to use the terminology extraordinary form and ordinary form. But I feel like Pope Francis himself has eliminated those as categories by his own words in Traditionis Custodes. But anyway, we’re going to talk about those two rites, forms, whatever with Dr. Kwasniewski today. And also address those series of articles at the Church Life Journal. So welcome to the program, Peter. I love having you here.

“Dr. Peter Kwasniewski:

“Thank you so much, Eric. And by the way, this is actually my latest book.

“Eric Sammons:

“Okay, here we go. What are we up to right now? What’s the number, do you know?

“Dr. Peter Kwasniewski:

It’s past 20.

“Eric Sammons:

“Once you get past 20, you don’t have to keep track anymore.

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski:

“As with a really large family, it’s like how many children do you have? Oh, I don’t know. It’s somewhere up there.

“Eric Sammons:

“Exactly. It’s like when I talk to Scott Hahn, I don’t even bother asking him what number is he on now, because like you said once you’re past 20. I still tell people I have eight because I have a very distinct number. But eventually you get up to your level. So let’s start off the discussion. I want to start off the discussion with some basic principles of the liturgy, and specifically something you address in this book, which is the development of the liturgy. I know there’s long been the analogy of the organic development of the liturgy. What do we mean when we talk about how the liturgy develops in general?

“Dr. Peter Kwasniewski:

“Right, exactly. No, and in fact that’s a major part of this book. Several chapters devoted to trying to understand what we mean when we say the liturgy develops. Now, first of all, it does develop. That’s a fact. Every once in a while you meet a traditionalist who thinks that Christ instituted the solemn high Tridentine Mass at the last Supper. No, He didn’t. He was transforming the traditional Jewish ceremonies into the core of the Christian mass, the representation of the sacrifice of Calvary. So what He did, He was a traditionalist in that sense. He was taking the Jewish ceremonies but then transforming them from within, fulfilling them. And in a sense planting a seed within the church that was going to grow into a mighty tree. He planted an acorn and it grew into a mighty oak tree. And that’s what we mean when we talk about the development of the liturgy.

“Just like doctrine develops, it doesn’t essentially change. But the full expression of it emerges over many centuries and often requires quite a bit of fighting as we see in the ecumenical councils. So similarly with the church’s public worship, that acorn it’s going to grow into a giant trunk and it’s going to put out many branches. What are those many branches? Well, it’s the development of the liturgical chant. It’s the development of which texts are we going to pray when we come together for liturgy. It’s the development of the calendar. And of course the celebration of all the saints which can’t develop until they’re actually our saints to celebrate. So in this way, I think the organic metaphor is helpful because although the liturgy is the work of human beings assisted by the Holy Spirit, nevertheless, it’s the work of thousands of human beings over thousands of years and often without anybody’s name being attached to it. And usually by a process of gradual dissemination, not some kind of top down imposition. So there’s an organic nature to it. It unfolds over long periods of time and with the contributions of thousands of people.

“Eric Sammons:

“One thing I thought on the development was that basic understanding, I think most people understand that on some level. But one thing your book brought out that I had never thought of that I was like, whoa, this is a new way for me at least to see it. Is that the development is not linear in the sense of just the same level of development over 2000 years. And roughly, it seems to me and correct me if I’m wrong here, seems to me that there are almost like three general phases when it comes to development, up to the time of maybe Pope Gregory the Great around 600 AD. Then from that time to about Trent, post Pius V. And then from Trent to today, or I should say 1960s because obviously… Or 1950s or so, we’ll just say 20th century. But there’s these three phases and the way that liturgy developed isn’t the same.

“It seems to me not same rite or something. Can you explain that to us because I felt like that was a major thing for me? I was like, whoa, that makes a lot of sense but I hadn’t thought of it before.

“Dr. Peter Kwasniewski:

“Yes. No, what you’re saying it’s a crucial point. In other words, at the beginning, the first few centuries there’s the most development. There’s actually quite a bit of fermentation you might say, that’s now taking a different metaphor than with a tree growing. But there’s a lot of the apostles go out and preach the gospel around the world. And wherever they plant churches, all of those nascent Christian communities are worshiping in an accord with what they were taught by the apostles. St. Paul is very clear about this. There’s already a paradosis, a traditio, a handing on, going on in those early centuries. But there isn’t a fully developed public formal official worship of the church. It’s under development, it’s under construction you might say, although that’s not the best phrase perhaps. But the church has always also been fiercely conservative. In other words, we want to hold onto what has been given to us by our God fearing forefathers.

“And this is the attitude you find in the church fathers in a huge way. Even by the time you get to the fourth century and the Cappadocian Fathers like St. Basil the Great, he just hammers on this point that what we are doing is what we’ve been taught to do, what’s been handed down to us. And yet he is also able to contribute to the liturgy. He can both have that conservative attitude and he can help build up the liturgy. The Greeks even have something they call the liturgy of St. Basil. So he’s contributing to it while also being fiercely conservative of everything that’s already been handed on. And that attitude perdures throughout the centuries so that by the time you get to roughly about the year 1000, the liturgical rights of East and West are already essentially complete. The order of mass, the order of the service, the order of the divine liturgy is essentially complete.

“It’s been augmented and enhanced over the centuries, but it’s now received by Christians as a totality, as a body of prayer. And it’s something we wouldn’t dare to change. Why would we change what we’ve inherited from our Holy Fathers, the saints? And so really the Roman liturgy it has various strata of development. That’s part of the reason why this can be confusing to people. The central part of the Roman liturgy, the Roman canon, is already there in the sixth century. It’s very ancient. And by the time Gregory the Great touched it up, we know that he actually worked on it. He did the final edit, the final redaction of it. But it was already a prayer that he himself was familiar with. It wasn’t something he invented whole cloth. But other parts took more centuries, the Gregorian chant took more centuries to develop.

“But by the time you get to about the year 1000, you’re dealing with a pretty well articulated body of liturgical prayer that everyone would have recognized as traditional. And therefore good and holy and to be maintained as a rule of faith. Remember, this isn’t just about aesthetics. This is about our faith is confessed in these traditional rights. That’s why we’re not going to dare to modify them in any significant way. By the time you get to the Council of Trent, it’s not as if Pius V… This is a terrible myth, it’s not as if Pius V created the Tridentine rite or something like that. He codified, he canonized, so to speak, the rite that was being used by the Papal court that had been used for many centuries prior to that. Even essentially back to Innocent III at the turn of the first millennium, we’re talking about that Roman rite.

“Pius V essentially codified what the Church of Rome was doing for many centuries. And because of the authoritative nature of his stamp of approval… Some people call it his canonization of the Roman rite, as a result for centuries after that the attitude was, we’ve got it. We have our liturgy in full blossom. This is the fully mature oak tree. And oak tree doesn’t keep growing perpetually until it reaches the clouds. It has a natural terminus of development when it’s perfected as the kind of being it is. This is something that Aristotle brings out in the physics, everything grows to the point of its perfection. And so, one of the things you see in liturgical history is that the rate of growth tapers off at a certain point and then what you see is continuity. Almost like a straight line, which the liturgical progressives they call that fossilization or ossification or it’s become frozen.

“No, that’s not… It just does perfectly what it’s supposed to do. It confesses the faith in the Trinity and the incarnation in our Lady and the Saints. It celebrates the liturgical year and it professes all the dogmas. It teaches the moral lessons of the Christian life. What more could you want? Why would you change something that has reached this mature and full form? And certainly that’s the attitude in the East. In fact, the attitude in the East they almost go overboard because they talk about the divine liturgy as if it came down from heaven. And it’s eternally the same, it’s never changed. Well, that’s balderdash. Their liturgy developed just the way that the Roman one did. But in the East I think partly because of the schism, but also partly because they seem to have a healthier instinct in this regard, they’re content with keeping things the same for very long periods of time.

“And in the West and I think it’s part of the temptation of the Western mentality, it’s what some people call the Faustian mentality, we always want to be tinkering. We always want to be improving. What’s the latest model? What’s the new technology? This is almost like a Western vice. It brings about good things too of course, especially in the realm of technology. But it leaves us feeling sometimes restless with simply what we’ve inherited. Just to give one example, I’ve been singing Gregorian chant now for 30 years and I never get tired of it. It’s the most beautiful music. No one has ever written melodies more beautiful than the Gregorian ones. No one has ever written music that more perfectly suits the texts of the liturgy and of sacred scripture. And they are just infinitely fascinating and subtle and beautiful and satisfying. And so I never get tired of singing chant. And nobody I know who sings chant ever gets tired of singing chant. So in that sense, we don’t need a new form of sacred music. We just need to do well the form that we’ve humbly inherited.”

How Many Roman Rites? – Crisis Magazine

Defunding the Police

Article from the Washington Post.

An excerpt.

“The progressive City Council in Burlington, Vt., thought it was striking a blow for social justice when, in June 2020 — just after George Floyd’s murder — it cut the police force’s authorized strength from 104 officers to 74. Morale plunged, many cops quit and a downsizing intended to occur gradually through attrition happened precipitously.

“Now, the city of 44,000 has 61 officers, 53 of whom are “actively deployed.” According to a recent New York Times report, organized bicycle theft and open-air drug sales have proliferated. Police in October said there had been four murders since July, as opposed to zero in the preceding two years.

Citizens have organized their own “bike recovery” group, which rides in search of thieves “like a posse from an old western,” according to the Times, though the group’s rules warn against vigilantism.

“Burlington’s experience illustrates why mainstream Democrats were wise to distance themselves from proposals to “defund the police” — though the party still remains vulnerable politically on crime, even after a strong performance in the midterm elections.

“It also provides some real-world context for an ideologically eclectic analysis of the relationship among crime, incarceration and social justice: “The Injustice of Under-Policing in America,” published earlier this year by Christopher Lewis of Harvard Law School and Adaner Usmani, of Harvard’s sociology department, argues that progress on all three fronts could require a substantial increase in police on America’s streets. The article, which appeared in a scholarly journal, merits amplification beyond the scattered mentions, mostly from academics, it has so far received online.

Criminal justice reformers often decry the much higher incarceration rate in this country relative to peer nations in Europe as evidence of an American system that manages to be both coercive and, given comparatively high U.S. rates of violent crime, ineffectual.

“Lewis and Usmani complicate the narrative with this statistic: Many other industrialized democracies field more police per capita than the United States does. At 212 officers per 100,000 total residents, this country ranks in the 41st percentile, behind Germany, Spain and Belgium, among others.

“Relative to its level of serious crime, the United States is even more of an outlier; it has one-ninth as many police officers, per homicide, than the median developed country.

“The result is that U.S. police are 44 percent less likely than counterparts abroad to clear cases of serious crime. Lewis and Usmani emphasize that American police devote as much effort — per officer — to such cases; the problem is insufficient personnel.

“This is a disaster for public safety, because certainty of arrest is the best way to deter crime. The U.S. criminal justice system relies instead on a far less efficient means: harsh sentences for offenders who get caught, much harsher than those in peer nations.

“The upshot, Lewis and Usmani write, is that the United States has three people incarcerated for every police officer, whereas the rest of the developed world has 3.5 officers per prisoner. Black Americans are the most disadvantaged by this imbalance: They are both more likely than White people to be victims of unchecked violent crime and more likely to get punished harshly when convicted of violent crimes.

“Justice and efficiency demand that we strike a balance between policing and incarceration more like that of the rest of the developed world,” Lewis and Usmani write. Achieving this aspiration would entail a combination of many more cops and significantly less severe punishment.

“Politically, it’s probably easier to sell the American public on the “more cops” part. Even so, if the beefed-up police presence came first and deterred crime, it could lead to less incarceration, due to the lagging effect of lower crime. Once crime rates decline, a confident public might be more willing to support more discriminate sentencing. The criminal justice reform movement of the past decade followed an extended crime decline.”


Nothing New Under the Sun

About C. S. Lewis, from the Imaginative Conservative.

An excerpt.

“Ecologists tell us that the interdependence of all living things makes the world more than a mechanism, more than the sum of its parts, perhaps even in some sense organically alive in its own right. But this is little more than a rediscovery in scientific terms of what had already been understood “poetically” in all previous civilizations. They may not have had (or needed) the term “ecology,” but the ancient writers were deeply aware of the inter-relatedness of the natural world, and of man as the focus or nexus of that world, which they expressed in the doctrine of correspondences. It was, of course, not scientific in its formulation, but it expressed a profound insight that remains valid, and the present ecological crisis could only have developed in a world that has forgotten it, or forgotten to live by it.

“In A Secular Age (p. 60), the Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, contrasts the ancient notion of cosmos with the modern secular universe:

“I use “cosmos” for our forebearers’ idea of the totality of existence because it contains the idea of an ordered whole. It is not that our own universe isn’t in its own way ordered, but in the cosmos the order of things was a humanly meaningful one. That is, the principle of order in the cosmos was closely related to, often identical with, that which gives shape to our lives.

“Thus Aristotle’s cosmos has at its apex and centre God, whose ceaseless and unvarying action exemplifies something close to Plato’s eternity. But this action, a kind of thinking, is also at the centre of our lives. Theoretical thought is in us that which is “most divine.” And for Plato, and this whole mode of thought in general, the cosmos exhibits the order which we should exemplify in our own lives, both individually and as societies.

“Taylor adds that for medieval Christians, as for many of the ancients,

“This kind of cosmos is a hierarchy; it has higher and lower levels of being. And it reaches its apex in eternity; it is indeed, held together by what exists on the level of eternity, the Ideas, or God, or both together – Ideas as the thoughts of the creator.

“C.S. Lewis, who knew and loved the medieval “cosmos”, describes it as “tingling with anthropomorphic life, dancing, ceremonial, a festival not a machine” (cited in Ward, Planet Narnia, p. 24). It was an organic whole, ordered from within, animated by a hierarchy of souls, perhaps even by a “world soul.” This is not pantheism, although it could become so once the transcendence of God had been forgotten. It meant that nature possessed a sacred and spiritual value, by virtue of its creation by God and the immanent presence of God within it. The world was a book, pregnant with meanings that God had placed there. All things, even the conjectured world soul, were creatures. The stars and planets in particular were angelic creatures, participating in their own way in the cosmic intelligence, the movements of their high dance helping to determine the pattern of events unfolding below.

“Each of the seven planets–by which is meant the seven heavenly bodies that can be perceived by the naked eye to move–was thought to sing a certain note, together expressing the harmony of the universe; a harmony that may be transmitted through music to the human soul. According to Lewis (cited in Ward, p. 21), this music of the spheres

“is the only sound which has never for one split second ceased in any part of the universe; with this positive we have no negative to contrast. Presumably if (per impossibile) it ever did stop, then with terror and dismay, with a dislocation of our whole auditory life, we should feel that the bottom had dropped out of our lives. But it never does. The music which is too familiar to be heard enfolds us day and night and in all ages.

“One of the most telling moments in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader comes when Eustace meets the retired star, Ramandu. Rather puzzled, he remarks that, “In our world, a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.” Ramandu replies: “Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.”

“The fact that this conversation takes place in the Dawn Treader volume of the Narniad is not without significance, as we shall see when we look at Michael Ward’s theory about the composition of the series in a moment. But let us stay with the distinction between what a star is, and what it is made of. Presupposed here is the importance of ontology, or the study of being, of existence or “isness” you might say.[1]

“Modern physics has a very different notion of “substance”, which has both advantages and disadvantages.[2] Science wanted to know how things work and what they are made of, and became very effective in analysing exactly how one event leads to another, and how to take something apart into its constituent elements. But to investigate only what a star is made of and how it moves or changes, rather than why it does so, is to leave out the very being of the star. Why does the star exist? It exists to be a certain thing, as the expression of an idea or form in the mind of God, in order to fulfill a part of some harmonious design in which we too have a part to play. That is what lies behind Ramandu’s comment. That is the religious and ancient perspective on things, and Lewis believed that in losing it we have lost something important to our humanity.

“As a matter of fact, we may even have lost our sanity. A peculiar kind of madness lies in this narrowing of reason to what we can measure and manipulate; William Blake called it “Newton’s sleep”, and for C.S. Lewis it was exemplified in the figure of Professor Weston in the Space Trilogy. This is the madness that comes from trying to understand the universe without attributing to it any meaning–other than what we can give it by subordinating it by force to our own ends and purposes. That is what happens when we take seriously Sir Francis Bacon’s aphorism that “Knowledge is power”, or Marx’s that “up to now philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it.”[3]

“The point I am trying to make here is simply that we are living in an era shaped by philosophical battles that most of us are unaware ever took place.[4] As Taylor puts it in A Secular Age, the typically modern person lives as an isolated or “buffered self” in a “disenchanted world.” He feels himself to be disengaged from the world around him, rather than intrinsically related to it (by family, tribe, birthplace, religion, or vocation). He is expected to forge his own destiny by an exercise of choice. He is concerned less with what is right than with what his rights are, or rather he grounds the former on the latter. The world for him is just a neutral space for his action, his free choice, and the greatest mysteries lie not outside but within himself.[5]

“Lewis was not “modern” in this sense, and he found fiction an ideal medium for counteracting the influence of the secular worldview. Against the disenchanted world of modernism he set the enchanted world of Narnia–and of course the unfallen worlds of Mars and Venus in the Space Trilogy. In his book Planet Narnia, Michael Ward argues–convincingly to my mind–that each of the seven volumes of the series were arranged secretly by Lewis, in a kind of elaborate private joke, according to the traditional characters and associations of the seven astrological planets, which he regarded as spiritual symbols of permanent value. In this way Lewis was consciously ranging the Medieval worldview against the modern critics. Not even Tolkien was let in on the secret–although perhaps if he had shown more interest and sympathy for the Narnia stories I suspect Lewis might have divulged it. The spiritual symbol that illuminates The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is of course Sol, the Sun, the nearest of those “huge balls of flaming gas” that we call stars, which is why Lewis inserts within it the encounter with Ramandu and his daughter. The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe revolves around Jupiter, the four Pevensie children being like the four biggest moons of the giant planet, and the theme of “joviality” making sense of the otherwise unaccountable presence of Father Christmas at the turning-point of the story. The themes of The Silver Chair are lunar–the pale lamps in the darkness, the concern with memory and with lunacy, and so forth. Each of the novels can be related to one of the other planets just as easily.”

The Christian Cosmology of C.S. Lewis – The Imaginative Conservative

Bella Dodd

New biography of the former communist who was brought into the Catholic faith by Fr. Fulton Sheen is reviewed in Crisis Magazine.

I’m reading the book now, it is excellent, reminding us once again of the primary basis (the errors and danger of Russia) for Mary’s appearance at Fatima in 1917.

Along with Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, another communist who converted, it is a great addition to any Catholic’s library.

An excerpt.

“Where did all this woke stuff come from? The Devil and Bella Dodd shows that today’s progressives follow the same strategy, script, and seeds American communists planted in Catholic seminaries and U.S. universities 86 years ago. 

“The internet is full of snippets about Bella Dodd, but most of those stories are dubious or poorly sourced—until now. 

“Authors Mary Nicholas, a retired physician and research librarian, and historian Paul Kengor (a Crisis Magazine contributing editor) tracked down all the original source material to tell Dodd’s definitive story and to connect the dots showing how her infiltration continues to produce echoes to this day.  

“The roaring rapids of social media news feeds means few modern Americans recognize Dodd. Still, her name was once universally known (her flip from communist organizer to baptized Catholic speaking to everyone from Congress to small school audiences) made her the ultimate party switcher. The closest we come today is Tulsi Gabbard moving from Democrat presidential candidate to Fox News host. 

“Dodd (1904-1969) was a sharp attorney and radical warrior, a key “fixer” at the dawn of the American communist movement. She organized efforts to infiltrate and undermine key U.S. institutions before she changed sides and shared her story in the 1950s. Her 1,281-page FBI file, one of the largest ever found during a FOIA request, remains mostly classified 53 years after her death. But the authors have obtained several hundred pages to date while also tracking down people who knew her.

“Nicholas, as well as Kengor (who is the author of The Devil and Karl Marx and biographies on Ronald Reagan), did extensive research. They sought and reviewed classified FBI files and interviewed the people who knew her well to write the definitive 412-page Dodd biography.

“Today’s Red/Blue tribalism is rooted in an earlier “us vs. them” confrontation. Then, the United States led Western Civilization in battling communism. American communists, Dodd said, used words that would appeal to Americans, like “social justice” and “democracy,” calling enemies names like bigot, racist, anti-Semite, and fascist.

“For years, she believed she was fighting for a revolution to undermine a corrupt American system. Still, Fr. Fulton Sheen wrote multiple books and took to the radio, calling atheistic communism “a religion to destroy a religion, a politics which is a religion.”

“Dodd noticed, “The little sparks of my conscience caught fire. I began to realize and to feel uneasy at the contradictions between what the Communists preached and what they did.”

  • She organized thousands of communists who infiltrated vital American institutions, including U.S. education and the Church.
  • “It is not surprising that those against God should aim their biggest weapons at our schools,” she wrote. “Eliminating the concept of God from education leaves the student with no basis for determining right from wrong.
  • Yet another target of communism, she realized, is the family itself. As a result, her marriage and family crumbled as well.
  • The American communists followed the ways of Russian rulers who changed laws to remove all obstacles to divorce and abortion. But, as Leon Trotsky explained, “You cannot ‘abolish’ the family. You have to replace it.”
  • By 1934, women in Moscow set a world record: three abortions for every live birth. By the 1970s, the Russians had more than 7 million abortions per year, while the Roe v. Wade peak was 1.5 million abortions in America.

“Communism is a whole philosophy of life that permeates everything that you do,” Dodd said, calling it “part of your bloodstream,” a belief system that “determines the kind of marriage you have, your relations with your children, your relationship to your community, your relationship with your profession. It makes decisions for you.”

“The roots of cancel culture and the modern “religion of woke” can best be learned in her journey from Catholicism to communism and back again: “The psychology of the Party was that you were loved or hated on the basis of group acceptance, and emotions were stirred or dulled by propaganda made by the powerful people at the top.”

The Roots of Woke: The Devil and Bella Dodd – Crisis Magazine

Real Errors of Russia

Outstanding series of articles from OnePeterFive.

An excerpt.

“In this third and last installment, we tackle the real errors of Russia as they led to the deadly Revolution that masked and obscured her and the parallels with the other revolutionary event mid-century known as the Second Vatican Council. In addition, we address the age-old elephant in the room known as the Eastern Schism—all three events in light of Our Lady’s message at Fatima, as it has become of prime significance in light of the unfolding of events since 2020 as well as the more recent situation in the geopolitical arena, particularly pertaining to Russia and Ukraine.

“In 1888, Vladimir Solovyev wrote, “It is not in the West, it is in Byzantium that the original sin of nationalist particularism and cesaro-papist absolutism have, for the first time, introduced death to the social body of Christ.”[1] This is undoubtedly true. But this claim needs verification: “and the successor of Byzantium now with responsibility is the Russian Empire and today, Russia is the only country in Christendom where the national State affirms without reserve its exclusive absolutism in making of the Church an attribute of nationality and a passive instrument of the secular government.” It also contradicts the history of how Europe’s monarchs behaved.

“The other important issue here is to understand the Orthodox perspective even if they are wrong, theologically and philosophically. The Russian monarchy as well as the Orthodox did not think they were secular; and that the church became an instrument of the secular government was not a constant or absolute. Theoretically, the Orthodox church proclaimed and believed it was supreme and that the tsar’s mandate was contingent on his resolve to protect Orthodoxy. And if you believe (as the Orthodox do) that you are the guardian of tradition, you also believe you are religious and supernatural.

“Throughout the years, as monarchs changed, this struggle between church and state was a constant battle—as some tsars (such as Peter) attempted to subsume the church to state. Tsar Nicholas, however, moved to formalize and cement the Orthodox Church’s supremacy over the monarchy by writing it into law.[2] But certainly, in Catholic theology, the Orthodox faith is incomplete and in error and hence, essentially secular. As Solovyev argues in Russia and the Universal Church, it was a lack of the universal Petrine primacy that caused the Greco-Russian church to become subservient to the tsar. And yet I would argue, in many ways, even the tsars gave their clergy authority and power that was to the Enlightenment, unmatched by the powers of Europe that had already succumbed to the fullness of participatory rule.

“At the same time, it is good for us to zoom into the reason as to why Byzantium schismed in the first place Solovyev admits, it proved to be a nominally Christian state as it retained characteristics of paganism and “this contrast between professed Christianity and practical savagery is aptly personified” in Constantine, who believed in the Christian God, paid honor to the bishops and discussed the Trinity and yet “had no scruple about exercising the right of a pagan husband and father, and putting Fausta and Crispus to death.”[3] But so glaring a contradiction between faith and life could not last without some attempt at reconciliation but rather than sacrifice its paganism, the Byzantine Empire perverted the purity of the Christian idea and that this “pseudo-Christian Empire of Byzantium was bound to engage in decisive combat with the orthodox Papacy; for the latter was not only the infallible guardian of Christian truth but also the first realization of that truth in the collective life of the human race.”[4] This was the direction that the Greeks traveled in their schism from Rome.

“What wonders might the Russian monarchy have accomplished if it stayed with Catholicism while being so effective at merging church and state with the former on the driver’s seat—especially as Europe plunged into the Enlightenment and modernism. As Solovyev laments, the history of Russia was moving towards a single objective—the formation of a national monarchy, the decisive moment being the union of Ukraine with part of White Russia under Tsar Alexis, giving real meaning to the title of ‘Tsar of all the Russians.’[5] Yet Russia followed the way of Byzantium and turned this crucial opportunity into an impediment by jumping ship.

“But these errors are hundreds of years old. Hence, given Our Lady sent her message in 1917, are these then the errors of Russia? In addition, we should ask, given the inward-looking culture as well as movement in history of the Russian Orthodox, did this error really spread throughout the world? We go back further into history—to merry old England, with a certain King (wanting a divorce) and his Royal Vice-regent, who became Vicar-General of the new Head of the English Church—Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. Manifold opines “Just as Henry needed an ally in the matter of the divorce, now he needed one in his take-over bid for the monasteries.”[6]

“Cromwell’s appointment and new position enabled him a seat above all the bishops in assemblies of the clergy and took precedence over all nobles. Hence, the beginning of two things that would prove more problematic in the 20th century (given the wide reach and global influence of the Anglo-American Empire) after the Bolshevik Revolution (funded and launched by the same Empire)—subsuming church to state (statism) and oligarchic rule (present-day corporatism). An Act of Parliament was passed in 1536 that enabled the confiscation of 376 monasteries for the King and his heirs—putting an end to Church independence from human law. This happened concurrently with Martin Luther’s Protestant revolt, which unleashed the dissolution and sacking of church property and monasteries, which further enabled and released oligarchic rule and a vastly weakened church, church life, and hierarchy.

“Interestingly, however, as these acts of Henry VIII, Cromwell, and the Protestant Reformers spread throughout Europe, one Western region (with Eastern and Asiatic experiences because of the invasion by the Mongols and Turks), remained almost untouched and vigilant against all this—autocratic and Orthodox Russia, only temporarily disrupted by the reigns of Peter and Catherine (favorites of the West), who allowed liberalism to creep in. We jump to Nicholas, the last tsar.”

Russian Errors in Bolshevism, Vatican II and Schism – OnePeterFive

#2 in the series, Christian Russia and the Western “Errors of Russia” – OnePeterFive

#1 in the series, Caution for the Ukraine Discussion – OnePeterFive

The Latin Mass

An article from 2021 in Crisis Magazine explores a provocative thesis.

An excerpt.

“While there have been some notable attempts to help us understand the rationale behind the most recent motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, the published reflection on the document by Italian Professor Massimo Viglione stands out because it is the only one that recognizes the sin of envy that is driving this latest papal attempt to destroy the Traditional Latin Mass. 

“Describing the Latin Mass as “the Holy Mass of all time,” Professor Viglione’s article points to the bitterness that is driving progressive bishops who have been facing declining dioceses and parish closures to try and enlist the pope’s help to stop the exodus of faithful Catholics fleeing their meager offerings in search of a meaningful Mass. Concluding that “it was the uncontainable success among the people—and in particular among young people—that the Mass of all time found after Benedict XVI’s motu proprio that was the triggering factor for this hatred,” Professor Viglione reminds us that we are witnessing “the hermeneutic of Cain’s envy against Abel.” 

“Envy is the deadliest of sins because it destroys not only the target of one’s envy, but it also destroys the envier himself. Genesis 4:4 reminds us that “In the course of time, Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions…And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.” 

“We are never quite sure why Cain’s sacrifice was not pleasing to God—God only knows that—but even when he was given the opportunity by God to improve his sacrifices (Genesis 4:6), Cain decides that rather than figuring out a way to make his sacrifices more pleasing to God, he will instead destroy his own brother—the target of his bitter envy. Cain murders Abel, but in some ways, Cain pays the far higher price because he is consigned to wander the earth as a homeless fugitive, alienated from those who once loved him, awaiting his own fate—his own murder—at the hands of those who will avenge the death of the beloved Abel.

“That is exactly what is happening with Traditionis Custodes. The faithful families once populating parishes led by pastors who appeared to care little for the needs of their parishioners were drawn away to the sacrifice of the Mass that appeared to them to be more pleasing to God and more nourishing for their families. They left the parishes consumed with the City of Man to pursue a parish devoted to the City of God. And now, out of an envious resentment, many progressive priests and bishops—abandoned by growing numbers of their most faithful parishioners—have blocked their escape by locking the doors of the traditional Masses in their own churches.

“Professor Viglione understands that the hatred toward the Latin Mass has emerged from envy. But none of the priests, bishops, and cardinals who convinced Pope Francis of the need for this motu propio would recognize this. They would claim—as Pope Francis claimed—that they were simply looking for unity. But the Church is becoming more divided than ever with the release of Traditionis Custodes

“In its most virulent form, envy is characterized by a desire to take away the coveted object or advantage from the other—even when depriving them means losing something of oneself. This latest missive from Pope Francis has done nothing to enhance the unity within the Church. Rather, it has diminished it. But, for the truly resentful, it is a small price to pay. They would deny their envious motivations, as most of us refuse to acknowledge our envy—even to ourselves.”

Traditionis Custodes as a Hermeneutic of Envy – Crisis Magazine

Take care and pray the old school rosary the old school way  https://traditioninaction.org/religious/d013rp15Decades_Stretenovic.html

The Jesuits

Excellent article about them—I am partial to and uneasy with them after obtaining two degrees from a Jesuit University (during which time I converted) and being baptized in a Jesuit parish—from The Catholic Thing.

An excerpt.

“Tim Russert, the late, great anchor of NBC’s Meet the Press, died in 2008.  Praised as an “honorary Jesuit” in America magazine after his death, Russert had a lifelong regard for the Society of Jesus.  He had a special affection for Father John Sturm, legendary prefect of discipline at Buffalo’s Canisius (Jesuit) High School.  Any man who was a Canisius student during the John Sturm years – myself included – remembers him with a mix of awe, fear, love, and loyalty.  Sturm was that kind of guy, tough but fair; a “man’s man.”

“Russert was two years behind me in his studies.  We never met, but I shared his experience of Canisius.  It was an exceptional place.  The Jesuits who taught me History and English, Latin and Greek, changed my life.  Nothing I later learned came close to the exhilaration of those classes.  My respect for the Society of Jesus thus carried over into my professional life.  The work of men like Avery Dulles, James Schall, Joseph Koterski, Henri de Lubac, Joseph Fessio, Robert Spitzer, Paul Mankowski, and so many others – several of them now gone – testifies to the best qualities of Jesuit life.

“And yet, my unease with the Jesuits began right alongside my respect.  Barely out of high school, I remember stumbling my way through some of Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s writings, an obstacle course of turgid ideas.  Teilhard was and remains an enigma.  Jacques Ellul and Augusto Del Noce, among other Christian contemporaries, distrusted and criticized his thought.  But in Teilhard’s favor, Henri de Lubac – always a faithful man – was a strong defender of his work.  As for today’s Holy Father, himself a former Jesuit provincial:  pontificates can be fully assessed only in retrospect, and history’s first and only Jesuit papacy is still ongoing.  So the jury, understandably, is still out.

“But moving the Chair of Peter aside, enough prominent Jesuits have said enough strange things lately to invite concern.

“In 2019, Father Arturo Sosa, the Jesuit superior general, suggested that Satan is a “symbolic reality,” not a personal being – contrary to Catholic belief.  He then seemed to reverse himself just a few months later.  This followed a similar Sosa remark about the devil from 2017 that then had to be clarified by a spokesman.  In the same year, 2017, Sosa muddied the water by seeming to question whether we can really know what Jesus said in the Gospels.”

The Jesuits: What Went Wrong – The Catholic Thing

Take care and pray the old school rosary the old school way  https://traditioninaction.org/religious/d013rp15Decades_Stretenovic.html


Another fine entry by Dr. Carol Byrne in the series from Tradition in Action.

An excerpt.

“History has shown on a world wide scale that whenever and wherever anti-clericalism arrives on the scene, by its nature it cannot remain peaceful. Priests have always been persecuted by the enemies of the Catholic Faith simply for being priests; now they are being denounced and punished by their own Catholic leaders for being too Catholic. This is where the term “Clericalism” applies in the context of the “new theology” of Vatican II.

“If a priest is declared guilty of “Clericalism” by virtue of his immutable characteristics and fidelity to Tradition, he can never, in the eyes of the progressivists, plead innocence. His adherence to the Catholic Faith as it was formulated at the Council of Trent is enough to damn him in the judgment of the neo-Modernists who have been working to change the essentially sacrificial role of the priest and turn him into one who presides over the assembly.

“Proof of this is amply supplied in the following opinions expressed by prominent members of the Liberal Establishment which display two major features. First, what strikes us in these quotes is that the traditional Catholic priest, i.e. one who opposes the progressive agenda of the reformers, is always singled out for prejudicial treatment – as a “toxic”, “evil”, “destructive”, “sinful”, “misogynist” and “oppressive” influence in the Church.

“Second, we cannot fail to notice that the theme of class domination runs through all these accusations like a Marxist leitmotif, leading to calls for structural change in the Church to root out clerical “elitism” and give free rein to the laity. Some examples will illustrate the point.”

Progressivists Promote Anti-Clericalism in the Church – Dialogue Mass 120 by Dr. Carol Byrne (traditioninaction.org)

Take care and pray the old school rosary the old school way  https://traditioninaction.org/religious/d013rp15Decades_Stretenovic.html

Old Books

I love old books for the same reason this article from New Oxford Review does.

And one of the greatest places to get old books is Abe Books, AbeBooks | Shop for Books, Art & Collectibles

An excerpt.

“For the past 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching English literature at three Catholic high schools, exploring with teenagers some of life’s big questions: Who are we? Why are we here? How should we live? Where are we going, and how do we get there? During my early years of teaching, I discovered that I needed to do more than lay down the curriculum. I had to inspire and motivate; I had to challenge the minds and fire the imaginations of the students entrusted to me. I felt called to broaden their spiritual lives and to increase their capacity for mutual and self-respect. I have been doing all this through the study of great works of literature that explore themes of universal importance and provide an introduction to the breadth of human concerns and human wisdom. Reading these great works not only promotes the understanding of ideas but offers sustenance for the spirit as well as the mind. In the words of Mortimer Adler, a reader “may be transported, enriched, beguiled, delighted, amused, consoled, ennobled; taken to new and wonderful places, some of which are pure invention; introduced to characters who may become lifelong companions; allowed to overhear conversations that say what no one has ever said before; invited to share feelings that deepen their own.”

“Adler believed, as I do, that the pleasures of reading are enhanced by discussing what one has read. He, along with likeminded educators, developed what he called the Paideia Program. We can think of this as the Socratic method applied to carefully directed classroom discussions. I adapted this Socratic seminar style to my classes as the primary method to discuss the “great ideas” of literature: ideas about good and evil, pleasure and pain, virtue and vice, democracy and despotism, war and peace; ideas about happiness, justice, and wisdom. I did not saddle students with textbook assignments that belabor historical context, the author’s politics, and interpretations of a work’s literary significance. (Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always provided students with the appropriate background and context.) We simply read, annotated, analyzed, and discussed the works themselves, all in the context of the great ideas.

“Those seminar discussions did not stagnate in the realm of emotionally driven reader response, as if we were partaking in a book-club Kaffeeklatsch. Rather, they were purposefully analytical in nature and focused directly on the narrative at hand. That may sound obvious to many, but I knew that the seminar discussions would only be as good as the students’ reading of the text itself. And here’s the most important point: My students had to read the works we studied — in full, not in summaries from SparkNotes or Wikipedia. They were asked to read, annotate, and prepare to actively participate in each seminar by responding to a set of well-organized prompts in addition to crafting their own analytical and interpretive questions pertaining to the “great ideas” we identified. In other words, my class was not centered on my lectures to them on the great works; I did not expect them to parrot my thoughts and interpretations back to me. In my view, that’s a low-level educational endeavor that reduces the study of literature to box-checking and regurgitation. It doesn’t even require actually reading the assigned books. It is a misguided approach that is more about indoctrination than true education and intellectual (and emotional, spiritual, and cultural) formation. In my experience, few students are inspired by that approach.

“The richest of these Socratic seminar discussions took place in an AP English Literature and Composition class I taught at an all-boys Catholic high school in Cincinnati. As you can imagine, literature is a hard sell to 16-year-old boys in the best of times. Asking them to read, discuss, and write about significant works of fiction may sometimes seem a fool’s errand. Nevertheless, most of these young men took away enduring life lessons, not from listening to me lecture to them — yes, I did that at times — but from engaging in frank discussion with their peers, under my guidance and tutelage, about “great ideas” that often relate to a central question that all great literature explores in one way or another: What does it mean to be human?

“Although I’ve taught a variety of different novels, plays, poems, and short stories over the years — from Homer to Shakespeare to Tolkien — I found the most fruitful seminar discussions consistently centered on three British novels that have each been the subject of previous Literature Matters columns: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Jul.-Aug. 2019), Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (June 2019), and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (May 2021). I taught each in succession and linked them with Our Posthuman Future, Francis Fukuyama’s prescient critical survey of the 21st-century biotechnology revolution. I typically introduced Fukuyama’s book (and related nonfiction material) between our readings of Frankenstein and Brave New World.

“Through the seminar discussions of these three novels, many students — for the first time — began to see the study of literature as relatable and relevant to their lives, not just because we routinely discussed how the literary themes of these novels manifest themselves in the real-world culture of the 21st century but because they relate directly to who these students are, what they care about, and how they ultimately want to (and should) interact with the world around them. From my perspective, this is what the study of literature should — ideally — always do. Year after year, these students moved beyond an academic exercise to an intellectual adventure that engaged their minds and hearts, and it is instructive to note that they did this by studying “old books” rather than teen flicks from the 1980s or rap songs from the 2010s. “Relatability” is by no means synonymous with contemporary or base elements of pop culture. These literary discussions centered on “old books” appealed to students’ intellect, emotions, and imagination. They raised questions about life and death — and the afterlife too. They encouraged analytical thinking and reasoning about morality. They tapped into the wisdom of the ages. And because I was teaching in the context of a Catholic school, these discussions routinely probed the role of religion, faith, and God in daily life. In our seminars on Brave New World, for example, we discussed the underlying philosophies (consumerism, hedonism, communism, authoritarianism, etc.) that in any century will dehumanize us and lead us away from God and all that is truly good and beautiful, that will push men to question the value of human existence.”

What “Old Books” Have to Teach Us About Being Human in the 21st Century | New Oxford Review

Take care and pray the old school rosary the old school way  https://traditioninaction.org/religious/d013rp15Decades_Stretenovic.html

Pope Francis on Women

Good article from Catholic News Agency.

An excerpt.

“Pope Francis addressed the fight for women’s equality during a press conference aboard the papal plane to Rome on Sunday.

“Speaking in-flight from Bahrain to Italy Nov. 6, the pope said women are a gift to society — but the struggle for their fundamental rights is doomed to continue as long as there are places in the world where women are not valued as equals.

“Returning from the Muslim-majority country of Bahrain, Pope Francis was asked if he supports the efforts of women and young people in Iran to fight for more freedom.

“We have to tell the truth,” the pope said, “the fight for women’s rights is an ongoing fight because in some places women have equality with men but in other places they do not.”

“He condemned as “criminal” the practice of female genital mutilation, asking, “how come, in the world today, we cannot stop the tragedy of infibulation to young girls?”

“According to two comments I heard, women are disposable material (that’s bad, huh) or a protected species,” the pope said. “But equality between men and women is still not universally found and there are these incidents where women are second class or less.”

“He said: “We have to keep fighting for that, because women are a gift.”

“Anti-government protests have taken place across Iran since the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman who was detained Sept. 13 by morality police for allegedly violating the regime’s strict dress code that requires women to cover their hair with a hijab or headscarf. According to Iran Human Rights, based in Norway, at least 304 people have been killed in police crackdowns on the demonstrations, including 41 children.

“Pope Francis said when God created man and woman, he did not create woman to be the man’s pet “dog.” He pointed out that while St. Paul’s words about the relationship between men and women can seem today to be “old-fashioned,” at the time it was revolutionary.

“Man is to take care of women as his own flesh, and all women’s rights come from this equality,” he said.

“A society that is unable to put women in her [rightful] place does not move forward.”

Pope Francis: ‘We have to keep fighting for women’s equality’ | Catholic News Agency

Take care and pray the old school rosary the old school way  https://traditioninaction.org/religious/d013rp15Decades_Stretenovic.html