Thursday, February 27, 2014

Novus Motus Liturgicus

From The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God:

In 1959, Pope John XXIII saw a true need for liturgical renewal within the Roman Rite in accordance with the metaphorical principle of organic development, the aim of the Liturgical Movement endorsed by Pope St. Pius X.  In authentic organic development, the Church listens to what liturgical scholars deem necessary for the gradual improvement of liturgical tradition, and evaluate the need for such development, always with a careful eye on the preservation of the received liturgical tradition handed down from century to century. In this way, continuity of belief and liturgical practice is ensured. As Cardinal Ratzinger wrote at the time, the principle of organic development ensures that in the Mass, “only respect for the Liturgy’s fundamental unspontaneity and pre-existing identity can give us what we hope for: the feast in which the great reality comes to us that we ourselves do not manufacture, but receive as a gift. Organic development was the symbol employed by the key figures in both the Liturgical Movement and hence in Sancrosanctum Concilium:

That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress,  careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

Thus as the Council convened in the fall of 1962, Pope John XXIII had it in mind not to reform the Roman Missal but to restore it, and articulate general norms for making the liturgy “better suited to signifying the mystery it celebrates.” The Holy Father was aware of the intimate connection between the liturgy and dogma, so intimate that reform of the liturgy could be salutary only to the extent that such reform would effect a deepening of dogma and a greater sanctification of the faithful. As peritus Fr. Ratzinger observed, the question of liturgical reform was pressing only for the Council Fathers from France and Germany, the two countries that in 1962 enjoyed theological leadership in the modern liturgical movement. Along with Belgium and the Netherlands, these countries pushed through the schema in spite of the less-than pressing need for liturgical reform at the Council.
Ominously, in 1960, Fr. Anibale Bugnini, professor of liturgy at the Lateran University, was given the position of Secretary to the Preparatory Commission on the Liturgy. In this position, he proved to be the prime mover behind the drafting of the schema to be considered by the Council Fathers, the very first of the schemata to be discussed. The document proposed a more active participation by the faithful in the liturgical actions, and in this, exposed its bias in favor of the pastoral concerns of the liturgical movement at the expense of contemplative participation consistent with genuine organic development. In its final form Sancrosanctum Concilium’sparticipatio actuosa,” is more accurately translated actual (and not active) participation. To be clear — it is most certainly not the case, as is often said, that Vatican II introduced active participation into the liturgy. The best source for what the Fathers meant by participatio actuosa is Pope John Paul II:

Since the Liturgy is the exercise of the priesthood of Christ, it is necessary to keep ever alive the affirmation of the disciple faced with the mysterious presence of the Lord: “It is the Lord!” (Jn 21:7). Nothing of what we do in the Liturgy can appear more important than what in an unseen but real manner Christ accomplishes by the power of his Spirit. A faith alive in charity, adoration, praise of the Father and silent contemplation will always be the prime objective of liturgical and pastoral care.

In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, there was no question of new constructions or modifications of the Mass — only guidelines toward making it more effective in signifying the mystery it celebrates. The text of Sacrosantum Concilium was approved by the Council in December, 1962, and gave special emphasis to the “pastoral” aspect of the liturgy, reassuring the more traditional among the Fathers:

Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

Here is reflected the Fathers’ belief that in the face of the modern world, new liturgical guidelines were necessary to more effectively proclaim the truth of the Christian message. The Fathers were no doubt also reassured by Article Twenty-three’s assertion that prior to any proposed revision of the rites, a sound “theological, historical, and pastoral” investigation should be made, with “no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.” Thus one would expect that after approval of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no major changes in the Mass would be forthcoming, but this was not to be. In retrospect, it seems difficult to comprehend just how the Church could remain true to “sound tradition,” to organic, authentic liturgical development while simultaneously revising the rites “to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.”

Hindsight reveals that the source of the problem of the Consilium’s fabrication of the liturgy in disregard for the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, was certain ambiguous passages in Sacrosanctum Concilium. These passages were included at the instigation of the periti in order that they might later be given a neomodernist interpretation by the Consilium when implementing the general principles of the document. In this, the Council Fathers were at the mercy of the periti, and could hardly have foreseen this deception. So it was that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was rendered dead on arrival following its passage, and did not serve as a foundation for the authentic liturgical reform John XXIII intended. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lex Orendi Lex Credendi

 In a 2012 interview with Terri Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, Tonight show host Jimmy Fallon  talked about his childhood experience of Catholicism:
GROSS: So you went to Catholic school when you were young.
Mr. FALLON: Oh yeah.
GROSS: Did you have…
Mr. FALLON: I wanted to be a priest.
GROSS: Did you really?
Mr. FALLON: Yeah. I loved it.
Mr. FALLON: I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was – I loved the whole idea of it. My grandfather was very religious, so I used to go to Mass with him at like 6:45 in the morning, serve Mass. And then you made money, too, if you did weddings and funerals. You’d get like five bucks. And so I go ‘Okay, I can make money too.’ I go, ‘This could be a good deal for me.’ I thought I had the calling.
GROSS: Do you still go to church?
Mr. FALLON: I don’t go to – I tried to go back. When I was out in L.A. and I was kind of struggling for a bit. I went to church for a while, but it’s kind of, it’s gotten gigantic now for me. It’s like too… There’s a band. There’s a band there now, and you got to, you have to hold hands with people through the whole Mass now, and I don’t like doing that. You know, I mean, it used to be the shaking hands piece was the only time you touched each other.
GROSS: Mm-hmm.
Mr. FALLON: Now, I’m holding hand – now I’m lifting people. Like Simba.
Mr. FALLON: I’m holding them (Singing) ha nah hey nah ho.

(Speaking) I’m doing too much. I don’t want – there’s Frisbees being thrown, there’s beach balls going around, people waving lighters, and I go, ‘This is too much for me.’ I want the old way. I want to hang out with the, you know, with the nuns, you know, that was my favorite type of Mass, and the grotto, and just like straight up, just MassMass.

In The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God, I take up the story of how modernist thought influenced the pre-Vatican II Liturgical Movement, which was a driving force behind the Council’s Sacrosanctum Concilium. Specifically, I recounted neomodernism’s attempt to effect a man-centered, humanistic society in which individual experience is the norm, wherein the greatest good was to be sought in the “here and now.” This immanentist impulse viewed religion as an expression of human emotion, and strove to reduce or eliminate the importance of tradition.
How did such thinking impact the Mass, the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross? Given the importance of subjective human experience in neomodernist thought, in the field of the Liturgy we detect a de-emphasis on the Liturgy as the worship of Almighty God in favor of a community celebration of one’s own life experience. After a high of seventy-four percent of Catholics who attended Mass in the United States in the post-WWI era, by 1965, sixty-five percent attended, compared with twenty-five percent in 2000. What is more, the data reveal that only twenty percent of the generation of Catholics born after 1960 attends Mass once per week. One major reason for this decline was the collapse of the Liturgy after the misimplementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, with the resulting harm to the faithful’s understanding of dogma and morals over time. As the Latin phrase goes, lex orendi, lex credendi!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sexagesima Sunday: “that we may be fortified against every adverse thing”

Sexagesima Sunday is the second Sunday before the start of Lent, which makes it the eighth Sunday before Easter. Traditionally, it was the second of three Sundays (Septuagesima is the first and Quinquagesima is the third) of preparation for Lent.
Sexagesima literally means "sixtieth," though it only falls 56 days before Easter. It most likely takes its name from Quinquagesima Sunday, which is 49 days before Easter, or 50 if you count Easter itself.

When the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar was revised in 1969, the three pre-Lenten Sundays were removed; they are now denominated simply as Sundays in Ordinary Time. Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima are all still observed in the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass.

Popes are not Presidents...

John Allen of the Globe has opined today that there are two key words that capture why many church officials believe it’s so important to avoid what they regard as false expectations of swift change to the church’s ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion and the other sacraments: Humanae Vitae, Paul VI's 1968 document reasserting the church’s traditional ban on birth control. It rocked the world, Allen writes, "in part because the reforming energies of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) had led people to suspect change was just around the corner, in part because the pope himself had created a commission to study the issue." The outcome of the Pope’s evential reassertion of the ban “soured public opinion on Pope Paul, in some ways inflicting a blow from which his papacy never really recovered.
On matters related to marriage and the family, the Church has always seen the fertility of the husband and wife as a gift from God and the end (telos) of marriage where children are the fruit of the conjugal love, the total giving of self of husband and wife. In this, husband and wife procreate; it is God who creates a new and immortal soul at each conception, a reality of which Vatican II sought to remind the faithful:

All should be persuaded that human life and the task of transmitting it are not realities bound up with this world alone. Hence they cannot be measured or perceived only in terms of it, but always have a bearing on the eternal destiny of men. (Gaudium et Spes, No. 51)

Those disagreeing with Paul VI in Humanae Vitae are strangely silent on this conciliar teaching. Contraception is evil because what it prevents; conception is an act of God. St. Paul warned that the Christian should not hope for the Church’s wisdom to see eye to eye with “the wisdom of the world,” (1 Cor 1:20) for her moral teaching comes not from man but from God; Humanae Vitae teaches that artificial contraception obstructs the will of God, “based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act.” The language of contraceptive intercourse says, so to speak, “I will give you all of myself, my person except my God-given ability to make a new life.”

The other and, I think, principal reason Catholics persist in ignoring what Our Lord wished to teach us about the proper use of our sexuality is that contraception is a sin, and in speaking of it as an intrinsic evil the Catechism reminds us that it, as does all sin, separates us from God:

 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as "an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law."
 Sin is an offense against God: "Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight." Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become "like gods," knowing and determining good and evil.  Sin is thus "love of oneself even to contempt of God." In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.
 What I find both exciting and encouraging at present is that the discipline of social science, usually understood to be the preserve of progressive secular scholars, in following the data has corroborated the evils Pope Paul had predicted in Humanae Vitae. Recent research findings by scholars in the social sciences confirm contraception as the culprit behind the considerable rise in divorce and illegitimacy in the United States, both which in turn have spawned other societal ills such as increased rates of criminal behavior and high school dropout rates. No surprise, it turns out that the poor are especially susceptible to the harms caused by the American contraceptive culture. These findings are the studied work of secular scholars, most regarded as slightly left of center on the sociopolitical spectrum.

The end results of the contraceptive revolution that so frightened Pope Paul were promiscuity, the disintegration of the family, crime, and bitter relations between men and women, the poor among us paying the more dear. I believe Paul VI would have been greatly saddened had he lived to see all that developed in the final decades of the third millennium in spite of his prophetic warnings in his encyclical, "from which his papacy never really recovered.” I would only add that we too have as yet not recovered from the evils bestowed upon us by the contraceptive mentality.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Will Ya Still Need me...

In the United States, the 1960s marked the beginning of a breakdown in sexual mores and a rise in family disruption, joined with a culture of dissent as many tried to rationalize deviations from traditional morality. The United States witnessed a massive social experiment linked to genuine progress for which the Church was not prepared — discrimination against African-Americans and women was coming to an end, and Catholics were ever-increasingly undergoing assimilation into contemporary culture. As a result, Catholics began placing their spiritual lives in one compartment and their daily activities in the secular arena in another, commencing to treat their Catholic faith as an entirely private matter, open to a “pick-and-choose” approach to doctrine. Many theologians, religious educators and clergy succumbed to the same temptations. So it was hard for the doctrinal teaching of Vatican II to be heard; what did get through was often not the true council, but a “spirit” of Vatican II, of which I have discussed at length in my book, The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God.

How did the Church fare in the Sixties in Britain? There has been an interest in this decade recently as we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival here in 1964, and so I became enchanted by an essay written last year by former atheist A N Wilson in The Mail. Here are some reflections:

I’ve lived through the greatest revolution in sexual mores in our history. The damage it’s done appalls me. 

….the 1960s were a turning-point, and the decade did undoubtedly herald the Sexual Revolution. 
I was born in 1950…. And far from being ‘rather late for me’, the revolutionary doctrines of the Sixties were all readily adopted by me and countless others. 
The arrival of a contraceptive pill for women in 1961 appeared to signal the beginning of guilt-free, pregnancy-free sex.….

But if the propagators of the Sexual Revolution had been able to fast-forward 50 years, what would they have expected to see? Surely not the shocking statistics about today’s sexual habits in the UK which are available for all to study.

In 2011, there were 189,931 abortions carried out, a small rise on the previous year, and about seven per cent more than a decade ago. 
Ninety-six per cent of these abortions were funded by the NHS, i.e. by you and me, the taxpayer. One per cent of these were performed because the would-be parents feared the child would be born handicapped in some way. Forty-seven per cent were so-called medical abortions, carried out because the health of mother and child were at risk. 
The term ‘medical abortion’ is very widely applied and covers the psychological ‘health’ of the patient.

But even if you concede that a little less than half the abortions had some medical justification, this still tells us that more than 90,000 foetuses are aborted every year in this country simply as a means of lazy ‘birth control’. Ninety thousand human lives are thrown away because their births are considered too expensive or in some other way inconvenient. 

The Pill, far from reducing the numbers of unwanted pregnancies, actually led to more. 
When women neglected to take the Pill, there seemed all the more reason to use abortion as a form of birth control. 

Despite the fact that, in the wake of the Aids crisis, people were urged to use condoms and to indulge in safe-sex, the message did not appear to get through.
In the past few years, sexually transmitted diseases among young people have hugely increased, with more and more young people contracting chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and other diseases, many of them unaware they were infected until after they had been sexually active with a number of partners.

The divorce statistics tell another miserable story. About one third of marriages in Britain end in divorce. And because many couples do not marry at all before splitting up, the number of broken homes is even greater. 
This time of year is when the painfulness of family break-up is felt most acutely. January 3 has been nicknamed ‘divorce day’ by lawyers. In a moving article in the Mail recently, Lowri Turner, a twice-divorced mother of three children, wrote about the pain of waking up on Christmas morning without her children. She looks at the presents under the tree, with no children to open them, and thinks: ‘This isn’t the way things are supposed to be.’
Every parent who has been through the often self-inflicted hell of divorce will know what she means.
So will the thousands of children this Christmas who spent the day with only one parent — and often with that parent’s new ‘partner’ whom they hate. 

I hold up my hands. I have been divorced. Although I was labelled a Young Fogey in my youth, I imbibed all the liberationist sexual mores of the Sixties as far as sexual morality was concerned. 
I made myself and dozens of people extremely unhappy — including, of course, my children and other people’s children. I am absolutely certain that my parents, by contrast, who married in 1939 and stayed together for more than 40 years until my father died, never strayed from the marriage bed. 

There were long periods when they found marriage extremely tough, but having lived through years of aching irritation and frustration, they grew to be Darby and Joan, deeply dependent upon one another in old age, and in an imperfect but recognisable way, an object lesson in the meaning of the word ‘love’.

Back in the Fifties, GfK National Opinon Poll conducted a survey asking how happy people felt on a sliding scale — from very happy to very unhappy.
In 1957, 52 per cent said they were ‘very happy’. By 2005, the same set of questions found only 36 per cent were ‘very happy’, and the figures are falling. 

More than half of those questioned in the GfK’s most recent survey said that it was a stable relationship which made them happy. Half those who were married said they were ‘very happy’, compared with only a quarter of singles. 
The truth is that the Sexual Revolution had the power to alter our way of life, but it could not alter our essential nature; it could not alter the reality of who and what we are as human beings.
It made nearly everyone feel that they were free, or free-er, than their parents had been — free to smoke pot, free to sleep around, free to pursue the passing dream of what felt, at the time, like overwhelming love — an emotion which very seldom lasts, and a word which is meaningless unless its definition includes commitment. 

How easy it was to dismiss old-fashioned sexual morality as ‘suburban’, as a prison for the human soul. How easy it was to laugh at the ‘prudes’ who questioned the wisdom of what was happening in the Sexual Revolution.

Yet, as the opinion poll shows, most of us feel at a very deep level that what will make us very happy is not romping with a succession of lovers. 
In fact, it is having a long-lasting, stable relationship, having children, and maintaining, if possible, lifelong marriage. [emphasis mine]

An amusing Victorian historian, John Seeley, said the British Empire had been acquired in ‘a fit of absence of mind’. He meant that no one sat down and planned for the British to take over large parts of Asia and Africa: it was more a case of one thing leading to another. In many ways, the Sexual Revolution of the Sixties and Seventies in Britain was a bit like this. 
People became more prosperous. People were living longer. The old-fashioned concept of staying in the same marriage and the same job all your life suddenly seemed so, so boring. 
But in the Forties and Fifties, divorce had not been an option for most people because it was so very expensive, in terms of economic as well as emotional cost. So people slogged through their unhappy phases and came out at the other end.

It is easy to see, then, if the tempting option of escaping a boring marriage was presented, that so many people were prone to take the adventurous chance of a new partner, a new way of life.
But the Sexual Revolution was not, of course, all accidental. Not a bit of it. Many of the most influential opinion-formers of the age were doing their best to undermine all traditional morality, and especially the traditional morality of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, which has always taught that marriage is for life….

The wackier clerics of the Church of England, the pundits of the BBC, the groovier representatives of the educational establishment, the liberal Press, have all, since the Sexual Revolution began, gone along with the notion that a relaxation of sexual morality will lead to a more enlightened and happy society. 

This was despite the fact that all the evidence around us demonstrates that the exact opposite is the case. 

In the Fifties, the era when people were supposedly ‘repressed’, we were actually much happier than we have been more recently — in an era when confused young people have been invited to make up their own sexual morals as they went along.

The old American cliche is that you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube; and it is usually a metaphor used to suggest that it is impossible to turn the clock back in matters of public behaviour and morality. Actually, you know, I think that is wrong. 

Our generation, who started to grow up ‘between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP’ got it all so horribly wrong….
We ignored the obvious fact that moral conventions develop in human societies for a reason.
We may have thought it was ‘hypocritical’ to condemn any form of sexual behaviour, and we may have dismissed the undoubted happiness felt by married people as stuffy, repressed and old hat. 
But we were wrong, wrong, wrong. 

Two generations have grown up — comprising children of selfish grown-ups who put their own momentary emotional needs and impulses before family stability and the needs of their children. 
However, I don’t think this behaviour can last much longer. The price we all pay for the fragmentation of society, caused by the break-up of so many homes, will surely lead to a massive rethink. 

At least, let’s hope so.

Spe Salvi, Mr. Wilson!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

“the very smoke of Satan” within the Temple of God....

Recently Professor Martin of Franciscan University wrote:

....when preparing their homilies, priests and pastors mustn’t forget the long shadow cast by sin.  Nor, while they’re at it, the devil himself, who was the first to live in love’s shadow, and has been wandering about the world ever since trying mightily to put out the lights.  I mean, who else besides all those fallen and corrupt angels deserve the first word in a sermon on sin?   ....

Ah, but Satan, we are told, achieved his master-stroke sometime in the nineteenth  century when he managed to persuade huge numbers of people to stop believing in him.  Once that ruse got around—and, as always, educated opinion was sinfully eager to help it along—the devil was at liberty to do his worst.  What then becomes of sin in a world more and more divested of belief in an Evil Intelligence bent on bedeviling us with its false attractions?  It doesn’t just go poof, does it? Leaving us with the same intolerable burden of guilt and sorrow as before only now without anyone to blame.  Rather an entire moral edifice commences to collapse once the scaffolding of sin (hence virtue) is removed.  And certainly the Old Guy has returned the favor vouchsafed him by so many devil deniers of yore.  Because the past one hundred years bear unmistakably the imprint of iniquities not of this world.  Without doubt the bloodiest on record, we simply cannot attribute all the horrors and futilities of modernity to mere human agency.   As Monsignor Ronald Knox once wryly put it:  “It is so stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the devil when he is the only explanation of it.”
Any recovery of a sane and healthy sense of sin, therefore, crucially depends on getting people to believe once again in the devil.  If the world and the flesh fell on his, and Adam’s, account, why ever not?  “The devil is the number one enemy,” declared Pope Paul VI, “the source of all temptation … the sophistical perverter of man’s moral equipoise, the malicious seducer who knows how to penetrate us (through the senses, the imagination, desire, utopian logic or disordered social contacts) in order to spread error….”
And if papal testimony were not telling enough, particularly from the tragedy of one who felt in his final days “the very smoke of Satan” within the Temple of God, Holy Scripture emphasizes that “the whole world is under the power of the evil one,” who is not called “the prince of this world” for nothing.  Think only of Our Lord’s ordeal in the desert:  If the devil offered Christ all the kingdoms of earth in exchange for his submission, then surely it was because he was in a position to dispose of them.
Professor Martin's piece might interest one in a book I spent ten summers writing, discussing how disbelief in Satan is part and parcel of the crisis facing the Catholic Church and the world these days....

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ode to Freddi: Be Careful When You Write Papa

Last fall, militant Italaian atheist Piergeorgio Oddifreddi wrote Dear Pope, I'm Writing to You. Odifreddi later said he was particularly surprised that Benedict read his book from cover to cover and wanted to discuss it, as it had been billed as a “luciferian introduction to atheism.” He should not have been so surprised, had he known his man. 

Odifreddi's book was a critique of certain arguments and lines of thought found in Benedict’s theological writings, beginning with his 1967 volume Introduction to Christianity, and including his book Jesus of Nazareth, which he wrote as pope, both of which I have profited from enormously.

“My opinion about your book is, as a whole, rather mixed,” B16 said. “I profited from some parts, which I read with enjoyment, but in other parts I was astonished at a certain aggressiveness and thoughtless argumentation.”
He noted that, several times, Odifreddi refers to theology as science fiction, and he says that, in this respect, he is “surprised that you feel my book is worthy of discussion.” Nice.

Benedict made the case for theology with four points.

Firstly: “Is it fair to say that ‘science’ in the strictest sense of the word is just math? I learned from you that, even here, the distinction should be made between arithmetic and geometry. In all specific scientific subjects, each has its own form, according to the particularity of its object. What is essential is that a verifiable method is applied, excluding arbitrariness and ensuring rationality in their different ways.”

Second, he says that Odifreddi should “at least recognize that, in history and in philosophical thought, theology has produced lasting results.” As a history teacher I think one of these was the fall of the Soviet Union....

Third, he explained that an important function of theology is “to keep religion tied to reason and reason to religion.” Both functions, he added, “are of paramount importance for humanity.” He then refered to his dialogue with the atheist and sociologist Jurgen Habermas, in which he showed that there are “pathologies of religion and, no less dangerous, pathologies of reason.” That there are the latter needs no reiteration.
“They both need each other, and keeping them constantly connected is an important task of theology,” he added.

Fourth, Benedict says that science fiction exists in the context of many sciences. He explains that he sees science fiction in a good sense when it shows vision and anticipates “true knowledge.” This is “only imagination,” he says, “with which we search to get closer to reality,” and he adds that a “science fiction [exists] in a big way just even within the theory of evolution,” refering to the work of atheist Richard Dawkins. "The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is a classic example of science fiction,” The Pope said, and he recalled how the French Nobel Prize winner and molecular biologist Jacques Monod inserted sentences into his work that, in Benedict’s view, could only have been science fiction.

What dazzled me most was the Pope Emeritus’ reference to areas of convergence in Odifreddi’s book with Benedict’s own thinking. “Even if your interpretation of John 1:1 [In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God] is very far from what the Evangelist meant, there is a convergence that is important,” Benedict said. “However, if you want to replace God with ‘Nature,’ it begs the question: Who or what is this nature? Nowhere do you define it, and so it appears as an irrational divinity that explains nothing.” He added, “....I want to especially note that in your religion of mathematics three themes fundamental to human existence are not considered: freedom, love [emphasis added] and evil.” “I’m astonished that you just give a nod to freedom that has been and is the core value of modern times,” Benedict remarked. “Love in this book doesn’t appear, and there’s no information about evil. “Whatever neurobiology says or doesn’t say about freedom, in the real drama of our history, it is a present reality and must be taken into account. But your religion of mathematics doesn’t recognize any knowledge of evil. A religion that ignores these fundamental questions is empty.” Amen. And Amen.

Does Everyone Know of Justina? (Reminiscent of Terry Schiavo)

WATCH: Father of the 15-year-old being held at Boston Children’s Hospital speaks out for the first time

Glenn Beck has been talking about the plight of 15-year-old Justina Pelletier and her family for a number of months now. Justina has been kept in Boston Children’s Hospital against her parents’ will since February 2013. The medical facility took custody of her when her parents argued against their daughter’s diagnosis.
Justina was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease a few years ago and was able to live a normal life. Her older sister also has the disease. In February, she got the flu and was taken to Boston Children’s Hospital to see a specialist. It was at that time the problems began. A new team of doctors took over Pelletier’s case and immediately questioned her previous diagnosis. They re-diagnosed her with ‘somatoform disorder’ – a mental illness. Her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, refused to sign off on this new diagnosis, and they were ultimately dragged out of the hospital by security and forbidden from bringing their daughter home. out. Within four days, they lost custody of Justina.
Justina has only been able to see her parents during one-hour weekly supervised visits. After hoping to have their daughter home for Christmas, the court ruled the hospital should continue to retain custody on December 20. In the latest development, the Pelletiers have appealed to the state for custody, alleging “abuse of power.” The court heard the case in January and again on February 4 but postponed its decision until February 13. Last Thursday, the decision was once again postponed. Justina is now being held at what is supposed to be a temporary treatment facility, Wayside Youth & Family Support Network in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Because juvenile court records are confidential, the judge placed a gag order on all involved in the appeal. Justina’s parents, doctors, and caregivers have been unable to talk about the case. 13 months after this ordeal began, Justina’s family has had enough. Lou Pelletier joined Glenn on Monday’s Glenn Beck Program to discuss – for the first time – what this past year has been like for his family and what he hopes will come from his speaking out.

RCIA and the New Evangelization

Would that RCIA directors around the country would be mandated to use FR. Barron's Series to prepare catechuemens. When I was a sponsor, I would have given anyething had we heard something like the following, rather than the lukewarm, bubble gum Catholicism in vogue in so many parishes:

In his series and book, Catholicism, Father Robert Barron eloquently spoke to the insecure temptation to which we all...are subject.
“One of the most fundamental problems in the spiritual order is that we sense within ourselves the hunger for God, but we attempt to satisfy it with some created good that is less than God. Thomas Aquinas said that the four typical substitutes for God are wealth, pleasure, power, and honor. Sensing the void within, we attempt to fill it up with some combination of these four things, but only by emptying out the self in love can we make the space for God to fill us…
When we try to satisfy the hunger for God with something less than God, we will naturally be frustrated, and then in our frustration, we will convince ourselves that we need more of that finite good, so we will struggle to achieve it, only to find ourselves again, necessarily, dissatisfied. At this point, a sort of spiritual panic sets in, and we can find ourselves turning obsessively around this creaturely good that can never in principle make us happy.”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Catholic colleges?

 In 2012 I wrote:

Of late, on several Catholic College campuses it has been possible to attend a performance of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, a play which, among “celebrations” of the female experience of the vagina, contains a “romantic” scene, where a 24-year-old woman seduces a 13-year-old girl. The woman invites the girl into her car, takes her to her house, supplies her with vodka, and seduces her, calling the experience “a kind of heaven.” (One wonders what outcry would occur if priests with same-sex attractions were to come to the defense of the play).
It is surely reasonable to argue that these phenomena are the result of a turning away from traditional Catholic sexual moral teaching, revealed by God for our health and well-being. This rebellion has as its fruit not “liberation” but widespread suffering: the spiraling number of STDs, the millions of abortions, unintended sterility, global pornography, the sex trade, the vast increase in rape and child abuse, promiscuity’s threats to marriage and family, and the hundreds of thousands of victims of AIDS. A sagacious observation on the infamous 1960s sums it up nicely: “I think it would be difficult to find a single decade in the history of Western culture when so much barbarism — so much calculated onslaught against culture and convention in any form, and so much sheer degradation of both culture and the individual — passed into print, into music, into art and onto the American stage as the decade of the Nineteen Sixties.”
In the United States, the 1960s marked the beginning of a breakdown in sexual mores and a rise in family disruption, joined with a culture of dissent as many tried to rationalize deviations from traditional morality. We witnessed a massive social experiment linked to genuine progress for which the Church was not prepared — discrimination against African-Americans and women was coming to an end, and Catholics were ever-increasingly undergoing assimilation into contemporary culture. As a result, Catholics began placing their spiritual lives in one compartment and their daily activities in the secular arena in another, commencing to treat their Catholic faith as an entirely private matter, open to a “pick-and-choose” approach to doctrine. Many theologians, religious educators and clergy succumbed to the same inducement. So it was hard for the doctrinal teaching of Vatican II to be heard; what did get through was often not the true council, but a “spirit” of Vatican II.

And now we read that soon Catholic colleges and universities will be hosting productions of The Vagina Monologues or have officially recognized student groups that are performing the play in 2014. Are these truly Catholic institutions of higher learning? I, for one, think not.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Dysfunctional Nations

From time to time a local pastor fires us up with fortitudinal e-blasts, of which this is his latest:

Dear Parishioners,

Every Catholic should be angry about this. Please take the time to read the editorial below that recently appeared in Investor's Business Daily.

Cheers in the Lord, 
Fr. Tony

United Nations Scolds Catholic Church On Human Rights            

Anti-Religion: Ignoring abhorrences such as China's one-child policy and atrocities condoned by Shariah law, a U.N. committee tells the Vatican to deal with abusive priests and change its teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality. That the report issued by the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child would mention the instances of abuse of children by priests in the United States is not surprising. What is surprising and unfortunate is that the U.N. would act as if the Catholic Church had done nothing about it and use the report as a springboard to attack the core doctrines of a religion embraced by an estimated 1.2 billion people. No honest analysis of the Church's response to the sex abuse issue, including the recent emphasis by Pope Francis, can conclude the Church is not vigorously addressing this evil except, perhaps, at the U.N., where instances of child rape by its peacekeepers have been swept under the rug.

From what can be ascertained, according to Claudia Rosett in the Wall Street Journal, more than 600 allegations of rape or sexual exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers were recorded from 2007 to 2013, with 354 substantiated. This number, which includes the gang rape of a Haitian teenager, may be significantly understated. The U.N., while less than forthcoming on the abuses of member states that sit on its Orwellian-named Human Rights Commission, demands the Holy See share "all archives which can be used to hold the abusers accountable as well as those who concealed their crimes and knowingly placed offenders in contact with children." Has the U.N. or its member states been held accountable for their abuses of women and children?

China's "one child" policy has been condoned by a U.N. that supports what's called "sustainable development," which says overpopulation drains Earth's resources and promotes global warming. Yet it has led to forced abortions and sterilizations. Amnesty International reported that Chinese authorities forcibly sterilized 10,000 people in one city in Guangdong Province in 2010 as crickets chirped at Turtle Bay. In a normal population, there are about 105 boys born for every 100 girls. In China, where girls are considered to have less value than boys, the ratio is 121 boys to 100 girls. According to the book, "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," by Mara Hvistendahl, some 163 million female babies have been aborted or otherwise destroyed since the late 1970s thanks to population-control programs in places such as India and China.

Yet the Church that gave the world Mother Teresa is condemned.
"Iran," as Rosett also notes, "has for years led the world in juvenile executions, yet the committee last reported on Iran in 2005." The U.N. pays scant attention to that and Tehran's abuses against homosexuals or to the treatment of homosexuals in Russia, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Shariah law condones "honor killings" of women and children. In 2002, girls fleeing their burning school in Saudi Arabia were forced back into the building, where they would perish because they were not covered head-to-toe as required in public. It was an incident ignored by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child.

We are among those who believe religious freedom is also a basic human right. Certainly the U.N. seems to respect Islam and Shariah law. But with the Catholic Church, the U.N. demands it amend Canon Law "relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted." The U.N. also demanded the Vatican "overcome all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality."

The United Nations is a pompous and self-righteous collection of physicians badly in need of healing themselves.

If  were not angry, I would not have posted this!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Libido Redux

I post from time to time the elephant-in-the room evil of pornography, and borrowed this from the Opinionated Catholic

There’s a situation in counseling I come across all too often: a couple will typically tell me first about how stressful their lives are. Maybe he’s lost his job. Perhaps she’s working two. Maybe their children are rowdy or the house is chaotic. But usually, if we talk long enough about their fracturing marriage, there is a sense that something else is afoot. The couple will tell me about how their sex life is near extinction. The man, she’ll tell me, is an emotional wraith, dead to intimacy with his wife. The woman will be frustrated, with what seems to him to be a wild mixture of rage and humiliation. They just don’t know what’s wrong, but they know a Christian marriage isn’t supposed to feel like this.

 It’s at this point that I interrupt the discussion, look at the man, and ask, “So how long has the porn been going on?” The couple will look at each other, and then look at me, with a kind of fearful incredulity that communicates the question, “How do you know?” For a few minutes, they seek to reorient themselves to this exposure, wondering, I suppose, if I’m an Old Testament prophet or a New Age psychic. But I’m not either. One doesn’t have to be to sense the spirit of this age. In our time, pornography is the destroying angel of (especially male) Eros, and it’s time the Church faced the horror of this truth.

Here is the best I have read on the subject.


Today is Septuagesima Sunday in the Tridentine calendar. 

Septuagesima  and Lent are both times of penance, Septuagesima being a time of voluntary fasting in preparation for the obligatory Great Fast of Lent. The theme is the Babylonian exile, the "mortal coil" we must endure as we await the Heavenly Jerusalem. Sobriety and somberness reign liturgically; the Alleluia and Gloria are banished

The Sundays of Septugesima are named for their distance away from Easter:

  • The first Sunday of Septuagesima gives its name to the entire season as it is known as "Septuagesima." "Septuagesima" means "seventy," and Septuagesima Sunday comes roughly seventy days before Easter. This seventy represents the seventy years of the Babylonian Captivity. It is on this Sunday that the alleluia is "put away," not to be said again until the Vigil of Easter.
  • The second Sunday of Septuagesima is known as "Sexagesima, which means "sixty". Sexagesima Sunday comes roughly sixty days before Easter.
  • The third Sunday of Septuagesima is known as "Quinquagesima," which means "fifty" and which comes roughly fifty days before Easter.
Quadragesima means "forty," and this is the name of the first Sunday of Lent and the Latin name for the entire season of Lent.

Throughout this short Season and that of Lent (next Season) you will notice a deepening sense of penance and somberness, culminating in Passiontide (the last two weeks of Lent), that will suddenly and joyously end at the Vigil of Easter on Holy Saturday when the alleluia returns and Christ's Body is restored and glorified.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Young People and the Tridentine Mass

Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist ... . ... What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. (Benedict XVIJuly 7, 2007 Letter to Bishops)

That many spiritually young people love the Tridentine Mass can no longer be in doubt!

Read My First Chapter for Free!

St. Michael the Archangel

Kindle allows one to share quotes from books on Facebook. Here is an entire chapter...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

To Fighting Irish, Francis Spikes the Ball... For the Bishops

I have been commenting here on the recent Rolling Stone article on the Holy Father, who recently hosted the big cheeses from our premier "Catholic" University... Speaking of premier, here  is the premier blogger on this very topic!