Oct 022014
 

Cardinal Gerhard Müller who is Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has a new book coming out on October 10th during the Synod of Bishops as they discuss ‘The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.’ The Hope of the Family: A Dialogue with Cardinal Gerhard Müller. This book is done in the interview format with questions from Spanish journalist Carlos Granados.

I’ve never read any of Cardinal Müller’s writings so I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I enjoyed what he had to say. As a rather short book of under a 100 pages, still there is much to reflect on and I copied out a bunch of notes to further reflect on.

Due to all the punditry regarding the upcoming synod you would think it was called “The Divorced Receiving Communion.” You would have no idea of the breadth of the schema to be discussed as specified in Instrumentum Laboris. The actual interview involves a range of issues regarding the family. The hot buttons issue regarding divorced Catholics is addressed in part, and it is obvious the interviewer tried to draw out more on this. This gives just a taste of his reply which is much broader.

Cardinal Müller: Saint Thomas Aquinas said that mercy is precisely the fulfillment of justice, since God thereby justifies and renews his creature man (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 21, a. 3). Therefore, it should never be used as a justification to suspend or invalidate the commandments and the sacraments. To do that would be a crude manipulation of genuine mercy and, therefore, a vain attempt to justify our own indifference toward God and man. — Page 54

If we turn to the Gospel, we observe how Jesus, in his dialogue with the Pharisees concerning divorce, also has recourse to the two terms “divorce” and “mercy” (cf. Mt 19:3–12). Precisely in this passage he accuses the Pharisees of “hardness of heart”, of being unmerciful, since in their tortured interpretation of the Law they have concluded that Moses supposedly granted permission for them to dismiss their wives. Jesus reminds them that God’s mercy is contrary to our human weakness. — Page 55

What struck me the most was what he had to say about the individual in the context of the family and how “our society exalts individual rights.”

The individualistic family is another typically modern category: how many families languish because they are confined to themselves! — Page 38

There is much in that simple statement and category of “individualistic family” that is an accurate diagnosis of the state of the family. Maybe this simple statement hits me because of my own self-absorption.

As for pastoral practices, in my former archdiocese of Regensburg, it is quite common to offer Eucharistic liturgies for families with very young children. This seems to me to be a very good idea. We no longer talk about “a children’s Mass” but, rather, more accurately, about “a family Mass” since the attempt to introduce a child to the faith is useless and even counterproductive if this is done behind the back of his family. — Page 40

Throughout I could see his sense of urgency and his concerns for the family.

As a pastor, I tell myself: This cannot be! Someone will have to present the truth to them! Someone will have to open their eyes and tell them that they have been cruelly deceived by a false anthropology that leads only to disaster! — Page 78

Another unfortunate trend lately has been the “Cardinal vs. Cardinal” narrative. No doubt there has been a very lively debate and at times even name-calling, still there has also been simply discussion and critique without that stain. This book avoids that narrative and while the Cardinal critiques ideas and the manipulation of citations from the Church Fathers, he does not mention specific people.

Sep 302014
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 4 to 28 September 2014.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

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Sep 222014
 

I had toyed with the idea of having a blog post with the title of “The Golden Age of Catholicism” which just had the title and the body of the post was blank. To illustrate the idea that there never was such a golden age.

Charles Dicken’s summed up Church history perfectly even if he wasn’t referring to it

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – A Tale of Two Cities

Church history frankly is messy and it started out that way. You don’t read St. Paul and come away with the idea that everybody was properly catechized and faithful. We are always on the cusp of some heresy, in the decline of one, or amidst one.

Sometimes we will idealize a previous generation because of a numeric superiority of priests and those in religious life. We talk about the last forty years or so of bad catechesis as if we had ever been fully catechized. No doubt the quality of catechesis has waxed and wained over generations due to multiple factors. Yet those generations who were supposedly more fully catechized managed to fall apart despite this and to pass along a diminishment in teaching.

When we look at the problems of the day it is easy to look fondly on a time without those exact same problems not fully realizing that they either had a different set of problems or roughly the same set. That each age if full of people with original sin and all that it entails. It is certainly a laudable thing to identify positive aspects of the past and want to bring them forward. The problem comes in when we have a wistful affection of the past that is devoid of the problems of that time also.

It is quite easy to be a critic of the times you live in, not as easy to see the good among the bad.

“The Reformer is always right about what’s wrong. However, he’s often wrong about what is right.” G.K. Chesterton

We can read the sign of the times and despair or we can read those same signs and be a saint. The universal call to holiness has nothing to do with the time period you live in. We are called to “Pick up the cross daily” precisely because our crosses will never be in short supply. Seemingly so many paths to anger and few to prayer, yet this is but the crossroads of what direction we travel in reaction to events. It is just and right to be scandalized by sin, but it is neither to further scandalize others by our reaction to this.

Whether it is the best of times, or the worst of times; our commitment to Christ and spreading the Gospel remains the same.

Now this post is not meant to show an example of any kind of wisdom. Often I find myself not writing posts for others, but to preach to myself my own faults.

Sep 182014
 

With the rumor that Pope Francis plans to remove Cardinal Raymond Burke from head of the Apostolic Signatura and and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta traditionalist are up-in-arms. Feeling that no doubt this outspoken cardinal is being punished for his support of the Traditional Latin Mass. Rod Traud the blogger at Novus Ordo Crimes posted:

The only possible explanation of this action is that it is just another spit-in-the-eye at “self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism.” The Pope is a darling of the media because he is willing to throw traditionalist under the bus and abandon Mother Church for popular acclaim.

Instead of just sitting back and watching the purge of the Church of good people like Cardinal Burke we need to take action and to let our displeasure known. We can not just continually be kicked to the curb while the wildest liturgical abuses get no attention at all.

So this Sunday on the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time I strongly urge that all those who love the liturgy and the faith go to a Novus Ordo Mass in your diocese and protest this action by wearing a dark hood with only the eyes cut out. I realize going to a regular parish Mass will be a great suffering, but we must be willing to sacrifice and do even that.

The black hood, named after the Cardinal, symbolizes.

  • Being silenced by the Church
  • We are kept in the dark and not consulted
  • That our voices are not allowed to be heard
  • Mourning for the loss of the good Cardinal in his role defending the Church canonically.

So this Sunday protest silently with your hoods in solidarity with all the true defenders of the faith!

For further news see Cardinal Burke Demoted To Chaplain Of Akron RubberDucks Minor League Baseball Team.

Sep 172014
 

The Protestant’s Dilemma: How the Reformation’s Shocking Consequences Point to the Truth of Catholicism by Devin Rose is a rather interesting read.

Many apologetics books in this area concentrate on a couple of arguments such as the faults of interpretation such as Sola Scriptura. What I found most interesting is that this book uses a variety of arguments taking the consequences of various Protestant theology to their natural conclusion. That often some of these Protestant premises really prove too much in that they are self-defeating.

Devin Rose as a former Protestant worked through these ideas on his way into the Church and so he conveys multiple intellectual exercises regarding “If Protestantism is True”. This is the format used for each specific idea within a topic. To first take seriously an idea as true and to work out where that should lead. This is than offset with a concluding paragraph “Because Catholicism is True” which gives the Sed Contra (on the contrary).

These individual chapters within a topic are fairly short and so there were certainly times where I wanted to see an idea more fleshed-out. Still I enjoyed that I often came across objections I had not thought or heard before.

So overall I found this to be a worthwhile read. This is not a book I would just hand to a Protestant friend since the format and the wording could be rather off-putting to someone not already questioning some of the premises. Rather it would be more useful for Catholics wanting to look at some of the arguments used since there is such a wide variety contained within this book. My only caveat is that there were a very limited number of times where I did not see how the answered objection necessarily flowed from the premise. Possibly I just didn’t fully understand the argument.

Sep 152014
 

As a liturgical-minded Catholic blogger I can almost swoon when I see a pastoral letter with a Latin title regarding worship and the Eucharist.

In this case it is a letter from Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois called Ars celebrandi at adorandi (The Art of Celebrating and Worshiping). Add to the fact that it addresses the following topics I am quite swoon-ready:

  • The Reservation and Adoration of the Holy Eucharist
  • To bend the knee
  • Processions with the Blessed Sacrament

I also enjoyed the introduction of Christ in history and beauty in the liturgy, but the following is excellent.

(19). The present legislation of the Church concerning the placement of the tabernacle states, “In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, conspicuous, worthily decorated, and suitable for prayer.” Regrettably, this is not always followed.

(20). In some churches and chapels, the tabernacle is set on a “side” altar in such a way that the tabernacle, though noble, is neither prominent nor readily visible. The same is often the case with the location of some Eucharistic chapels, whether they be in the nave itself, behind the sanctuary, or in another room. They are not always prominent or readily visible.

(21). The great majority of our parish churches and chapels were designed to house the tabernacle in the center of the sanctuary; removing the tabernacle from these sanctuaries has left a visible emptiness within the sacred space, almost as though the building itself longed for the return of the tabernacle. With the removal of the tabernacle from the center of the sanctuary, the architectural integrity of many churches and chapels has been severely compromised.

(23). With this in mind, in order that more of the faithful will be able to spend time in adoration and prayer in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design. Tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary or are otherwise not in a visible, prominent and noble space are to be moved to the center of the sanctuary; tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary but are in a visible, prominent and noble space may remain.

His comment about “a visible emptiness within the sacred space” is so true, even in cases where the church building was not designed with he Tabernacle in the center.

I remember being at one parish Mass where they were just about to open the new church. The pastor addressed the placement of the Tabernacle since some parishioners were concerned about this. Unfortunately his explanation of why they had placed in a side area instead was to follow Vatican documents. I don’t doubt he believed this to be true since he probably heard this from some liturgist explainer and never actually checked the documents themselves. This lie was very widespread and accepted as true. Even worse was when we walked into the new Church after Mass to help move things I saw a rather hideous Tabernacle that looked like a totally unadorned cube made of bakelite. Thankfully that Tabernacle was replaced with a more suitable one shortly after we got a new bishop.

Still when I do go into that parish I always feel the “visible emptiness” behind the altar which is a plain curved wall with a couple of cloth banners.

I am also glad the bishop also answered this common objection.

(24). Some may object to this directive and point, by means of example, to the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome to suggest that tabernacles should not be located in the sanctuary. Saint Peter’s, of course, is different from the average church or chapel in many respects. Chief among these differences is the number of tourists who visit the Basilica each day, with no intention of praying to the Lord therein. These tourists enter this remarkable edifice built to the honor of the Prince of the Apostles simply to look around, to see the architectural beauty and perhaps to see some aspect of Catholic worship, but not to pray. The Eucharist is reserved in a special chapel into which tour groups are not permitted so that the reverence and adoration due the Eucharist can be properly accorded him by pilgrims seeking to speak with him.

(25). At the same time, it should be noted that the Eucharistic chapel in Saint Peter’s is itself larger than many of our parish churches. There is more than enough room to accommodate all those who wish to pray in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord in the chapel; it is not always so with every Eucharistic chapel in this Diocese.

The Cathedral in my Diocese of St. Augustine does have a fairly large side chapel with a beautifully adorned Tabernacle. Since the Cathedral is in the old part of the City of St. Augustine where there is a large amount of tourist foot traffic coming in to see the Cathedral it does make sense to have the Tabernacle here in this case.

Considering my recent parody regarding people not genuflecting I was also happy to see his writing on bending the knee. Eucharistic pieties besides being appropriate are also evangelical. As I recall Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton conversion to the Catholic faith came in part because of her visit with the Filicchi family in Italy where there home contained a private chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved.

Now if my opinion mattered at all I would add one more thing (to quote the Book of Steve Jobs) to the Bishop’s excellent list in that I would also make patens mandatory. The use of patens takes seriously the Eucharist and that you would want to prevent even a crumb from falling to the floor. I have been delighted to find in my diocese that there are now three parishes (that I know of) that are using patens.

There is another aspect regarding handling the Eucharist that I have found devotional for myself. Watching the priest during the Purifcation of the Sacred Vessels. With one priest in particular when I watch him I am reminded of the scene in Michelangelo Pietà. He purifies the vessels with such tenderness and obvious attention that he so reminds me of Mary caring for Jesus. This is not always true as with some priests it seems more like a chore than devotion or worse the sacred vessels are just set aside for later.

One more aspect of Bishop Paprocki’s presentation on the diocesan site is that a PDF version was also made available. This version was nicely formatted with images and hopefully this will lead to a wider dissemination within his diocese.

Hat tip to CatholicVote

Sep 152014
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 7 to 13 September 2014.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Angelus

General Audiences

Homilies

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

Papal Tweets

Sep 112014
 

poltergeist_tv

They’re back, yes it is the Nuns on the Bus part 3 returning like a sequel to a bad horror movie.

This time it’s the Catholic sisters versus the Koch brothers.

That’s one way to look at the upcoming “Nuns on the Bus” tour, which hits the road next week (Sept. 17) for the third time in three years, a month long trip though 10 key U.S. Senate battleground states to campaign against the influence of outside money on politics.

The issue has come to be identified with the wealthy industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, whose huge contributions to conservative political causes have raised concerns about the role of “dark money” on elections.

The spigot for such undisclosed donations, which can be made by unions as well as corporations, was opened by the controversial 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision. That was followed by another 5–4 ruling in April of this year, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

“It’s all about ‘we the people’ standing up against big money,” said Sister Simone Campbell, who heads Network, a Catholic social justice lobby on Capitol Hill that is organizing more than 75 events in 36 cities along the 5,252-mile route.

There is at least this at the end of the column:

(Editor’s note: David Gibson assisted Sister Simone Campbell in writing her memoir, “A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community,” which was published earlier this year.)

But hey you know David Gibson is totally subjective. Oh and just by the way he just kind of forgot to mention that the Nuns on a Bus are partially funded by the George Soros “Faith in Public Life”. Yes they are complaining against evil political money if it is donated by conservatives. Although since the Koch brothers support same-sex marriage and abortion you would think Sister Simone would see them more as allies. Still she probably follows the Harry Reid Koch fanaticism.

Still it comes down to the nuns removing the speck from their brothers eye while having their vision obscured by a plank. This is known as the Plank constant, the proportional constant between what you rail against and your own complicity measured in hypocrimeters. So a course a nun partially funded with Soros money who spoke at the 2012 Democratic convention and basically went on a bus tour for them is the perfect representative to speak about wealthy people and their political causes.

In a related story here is one that has not gotten the attention it deserved. Via A Shepherd’s Voice

This week’s _Catholic San Francisco_, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco has an important and comprehensive expose of the motivations and funding of ‘Catholic’ homosexualist groups seeking to undermine the Church.

The actual article starts with:

Gay rights money funds archbishop’s critics

Faithful America part of national progressive advocacy network

September 10th, 2014

By Valerie Schmalz

“Many Catholics in the San Francisco Bay Area were surprised by the strong negative reaction to Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s decision to give a talk about traditional marriage at a June 19 Washington, D.C., rally organized to support marriage.

_A national online petition from Faithful America and a nationally publicized June 10 letter from 78 politicians and others urged the archbishop to withdraw from the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. The letter and petition citing “hate” speech by the National Organization for Marriage and the labeling participant Family Research Council as a “hate group” created a media storm and disturbed many local Catholics and pastors.

Most are used to attacks on the archbishop for his strong advocacy of the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and family, but the reaction seemed disproportionate to the event – which was a talk at a rally by a Catholic Church leader who has given many talks in support of marriage and family across the country and in the media.

The cause for surprise among Catholics may be they assumed the powerful reaction was spontaneous. Now there is abundant evidence the reaction was both well planned and financed by Faithful America, an organization that is supported directly and indirectly by politically powerful and wealthy men and by grant-making foundations who have devoted millions of dollars to promoting acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) behavior....”

It goes on to detail funding via a flow chart and promises two more parts in this series with the next coming out on September 12th. It is rather rare to see something like this come out in a Diocesan newspaper and it is certainly welcome.

Sep 102014
 

The decision by Cardinal Timothy Dolan regarding the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade seems to be another Rorschach inkblot test in St. Blogs and elsewhere. Opinions range from the Cardinal being wicked to modeling Christ with a range of positions in-between.

To summarize the situation as I understand it. The private group New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Inc. organizes the annual parade has allowed this year a LGBT group to march with a banner. Pressure has been mounting over the last decades or so, but up to now no message banners were allowed. They ran into sponsorship problems last year where companies like Guinness pulled out to due to this general restriction as applied to a specific group the LGBT community. So apparently this year they caved into pressure because of the PC sponsorship problem. There was never a restriction regarding people as described under the initialism of LGBT. To add fuel to the fire, this year Cardinal Dolan is the Grand Marshall.

Added in to this was another smaller controversy. Msgr. Charles Pope had written a post regarding the question “Time to End the St. Patrick’s Parade and the Al Smith Dinners?” At the time I had originally read his very balanced post, there was much I agreed with in general. Subsequently the was post removed.

Many of you have expressed concern about a blog post I wrote on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which was removed. I am grateful for your concern about this and all the issues we discuss here. I removed the post upon further reflection due to the strong nature of the language I had used in parts of it. I apologize if the language I used caused offense. Source

It seems likely that he was first asked to remove the post from his Archdiocese. I certainly could find no strong language in his post (which can be read here). At the time I quipped on Facebook that the removal of this post would lead to a minor Striesand effect and that the post would be linked all over the place. Sure enough afterwards I saw this post on more blogs than usual even for the usual quality of the Monsignor’s writings. It even got covered on Brietbart, with a very misleading headlines (or the usual standard for headlines) “DC Priest Punished for Calling For End to Gay St. Patrick’s Parade in New York City”. Can’t say I was impressed with the content of the Austin Rose article which brought in ancillary complaints about the diocese and equated punishment with having a post withdrawn. It also reprinted the Monsignor’s column.

My own opinion concerning this has varied in reaction from wanting to go on full rant to ultimately decide on a waiting period to digest before pushing “post”. I think part of my original strong reaction to what is really a parade that has lost any serious connection to St. Patrick himself as a saint was that the increased pressure on Catholics and others to give up any objection to same-sex acts. Over and over we are getting pressured out of the public square. For example the President’s recent executive order regarding LGBT workplace discrimination with again no religious exemption. Constantly in the headlines are stories regarding fired teachers or organists who had attempted to get married or gotten pregnant using IVF. The mechanisms of society are bent on displaying Catholics as ignorant bigots with no possible defense regarding same-sex acts. Plus combined with the Cardinal’s less than helpful remarks regarding Michael Sam it just seemed like a long retreat from defending Catholic teaching.

Still what it comes down to is my prudential answer to the situation, did not match the Cardinal’s prudential answer to the situation. God is his great wisdom and mercy did not make me a priest or worse a bishop. So while I would rather he step down as Grand Marshall at the minimum, I am not going to freak out over it. I wish he could use it as an opportunity for a “magisterial moment” a play on “teaching moment.” Condensing Catholic teaching or really the natural law down to a sound bite has a high-decibel signal loss where the only information that gets trough is that your a bigot.

After forcing you to read though my reaction, I would like to point you to some pieces that I thought especially good (which means I agreed with them). Interestingly this two pieces are both a reaction to what Elizabeth Scalia at Patheos had to say regarding this situation.

The first being a post from the Darwin’s The Prodigal Son Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means.

The other is Steven Greydanus Gays, Jesus and St. Patrick’s Day. He explores both the analogies and disanalogies of the story of the woman caught in adultery. He also goes on to quote Phil Lawler of CatholicCulture.org:

If this really is a Catholic event, it cannot include a group defined by its opposition to Church teaching. If it is a Catholic event, forget Guinness, forget NBC, forget the hoopla, and quietly honor St. Patrick.

But if it is not a Catholic event — if it is just another civic celebration, to which all are welcome, regardless of their attitude toward the Church — then it’s time to end an anachronism. There should be no reviewing stand outside St. Patrick’s cathedral, no sign of Church sponsorship. Cardinal Dolan should step aside as grand marshal.

Sep 082014
 

NEW YORK A surprise raid occurred in the early hours today as a failed attempt was made to retrieve the body of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen from a crypt under St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The conflict between Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York came into public view on September 3, when Bishop Jenky issued a statement that the Cause for Sheen’s beatification and canonization had for the foreseeable future been suspended.

An agreement with the Cardinal Egan the previous Archbishop of New York seems to have been put aside. According to a news release by the Archdiocese of Peoria on September 5th.

On June 27, 2014, the Diocese of Peoria received the most recent communication from the Archdiocese of New York. This letter from its lawyer definitively stated that it would never allow the examination of the body, the securing of relics or the transfer of the body.

An anonymous source within the Archdiocese informed us that it was after the serious insult of this letter that plans were put into motion to retrieve the body of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen “one way or another.” It was then that the daring raid on the crypt under St. Patrick’s Cathedral was planned out and authorized. So far it is unknown if the Archbishop was aware of this plot or if it was the result of a loose canon lawyer or monsignor acting on their own.

Unfortunately unknown to the Archdiocese of Peoria was that Cardinal Dolan had previously worked out an agreement with the U.S. vicar of the Prelature of Opus Dei Monsignor Thomas G. Bohlin for the use of specially trained Opus Dei agents as guards of the crypt. While these personnel are not monks it alleged they are very pale, possibly being albinos. They disrupted the raid conducted by two priests and a group of Archbishop Sheen enthusiasts. When questioned by authorities they refused to answer any questions unless given a chalkboard. One policeman said that when he heard the confession of one of the perpetrators it was “like being stoned to death with popcorn.”

While inter-diocesan fighting is unlikely to breakout, collegiality seems to have taken a hit. So far no statement regarding this raid has been release from either diocese. When we reached out to both diocese we were told “no comment”.

See Dolan, Jenky To Settle Dispute Over Sheen Remains In Octagon for further developments.