30 May 2010

Good Signs in France

Mgr Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, makes a significant gesture of welcome to traditionalists (from La Lettre de Paix Liturgique):
Ce « signe fort » s’est déroulé en trois temps :

1°/ L’annonce : le site de la Conférence des Évêques de France a annoncé cette visite du Président de la CEF au pèlerinage. C'est la première fois que le site officiel de l'épiscopat mentionne le pèlerinage de Chartres et c'est une bonne chose.

2°/ Le commentaire officiel concomitant : dans un entretien radiophonique disponible sur le site du diocèse de Paris (http://catholique-paris.cef.fr/), le Cardinal Vingt Trois commente cette visite à venir aux pèlerins de Chartres :

Monseigneur André Ving-Trois :
- J'ai été invité et j'ai pensé que c'était assez normal que l'Archevêque de Paris et le Président de la Conférence des Évêques participe d'une certaine façon à ce pèlerinage. Donc avec les organisateurs nous avons choisi le moment le plus opportun qui sera le dimanche soir et j'y vais d'abord pour prier avec eux puisque nous allons faire une cérémonie d'Adoration du Saint Sacrement, pour m'adresser à eux et les encourager dans leur pèlerinage…

Journaliste :
- Alors justement est-ce que c'est un signe cette visite que vous allez faire, est-ce que c'est un signe que l'unité progresse à l'intérieur de l'Église, une unité voulue par Benoît XVI qui s'est illustrée notamment par un élargissement de la forme extraordinaire du rite romain ?

Monseigneur André Ving-Trois :
- Oui je pense que l'unité fondamentale n'est pas troublée, ce qui est troublé ce sont les modes d'expression de cette unité, donc il me semble particulièrement important de manifester par un signe visible que je considère que ces catholiques, dans la mesure où ils respectent les lois et les règles de fonctionnement de l'Église, font partie de l'Église et qu'ils sont des membres normaux de notre Église. Donc je les rencontre, ce n'est pas extraordinaire.
In other significant news concerning France, as has been announced all over the web, Louis Alphonse de Bourbon (Louis XX) and his wife La Princesse Marie-Marguerite have given birth to twin boys. Deo gratias. Vive le Roi.

Rare Words in a Church Bulletin

Holy Rosary Church of Indianapolis divides its time between offering the Novus Ordo Mass and Mass in the Extraordinary Form, the latter presided over by resident FSSP priest Fr. Michael Magiera (who also happens to be a professional opera singer). Although the Vicar General often pens the letter in the weekly church bulletin, Fr. Magiera had a chance to answer a few questions in a recent missive. It's not often one sees the following in any church bulletin in any diocese in America. Asked why he received Holy Communion on the tongue, he answered:
When I celebrate Mass and when I give out Holy Communion, I hold the Host, of course. The priest is “another Christ” and his hands, Christ’s hands, change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. For that reason, I believe only the priest, with the Hands of Christ, should touch the Body of Christ. The hands that consecrate should be the only ones to touch. If I concelebrate with other priests(which I’ve done once and probably won’t do very often) I am required to take the Host from the ciborium myself. But when I just go to Mass, I always receive the Sacred Host on the tongue, while kneeling. I believe this shows the greatest respect and reverence possible to Our Lord. Remember, no one is worthy to receive Holy Communion. But Our Lord wants us to. Thus we must always show Him the greatest reverence possible in an attitude and posture (you probably won’t understand this now, but you will later) of total receptivity, humility and even vulnerability — to be totally dependent on Christ in the Holy Eucharist. What could be more receptive, humble or trusting or vulnerable (helpless and defenseless) than the act of kneeling? What could be more reverent than not even daring to touch the Sacred Host with your hands? That’s why I receive Our Lord only on my tongue, while kneeling.
I've no doubt some extraordinary ministers' feathers were ruffled...

28 May 2010

The Oxford Oratory Campaign to update and expand the work of the Oratory continues. Among the projects, a new chapel based on the original 19th century plans (shown above) by architect Joseph Hansom, and other restorations to expose the marble, stonework, and Victorian stenciling in the church.

You can read the Oratory's Campaign Case Statement here.

21 May 2010

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

The law of prayer is the law of belief. In other words, how you pray determines what you believe.

The "reformers" of the Protestant Reformation (more aptly called revolutionaries) set as their primary goal the destruction of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. That is, after all, the foundation and keystone of the Catholic faith; it is the base on which the entire edifice stands; it is the keystone with which the giant structure is crowned. It is the Holy Sacrifice, offered on hundreds upon thousands of altars everywhere in atonement for the sins of mankind, that holds back the wrath of God and makes way for His mercy. The Holy Sacrifice is the One True Thing in our Catholic faith. It is, in fact, everything, because it re-presents the one historical Act that alone has opened up the gates of Heaven, and bears aloft the whole teeming uncertain world. All else--evangelization, teaching, serving the needy--is tangential to and only made possible by that Oblation repeated on Catholic altars all over the globe.

Suffice it to say that the highest form of prayer is the Mass. There is no prayer higher. There is no act, no sacrifice, no worship, that can please God more than the offering of Christ on the high altar.

It follows, then, that it is worth doing properly.

Lex orandi, lex credendi. Therefore, next time you wonder why we care so much about the liturgy, you'll know. Next time you wonder why the "externals" matter so much, you'll understand. Next time you ask why we're so "obsessed" about "inessentials," you will comprehend. John Zmirak put it well:
From now on, to get a movie ticket, Americans should have to kneel before a consecrated celibate wearing ceremonial robes and take the ticket between their teeth – never daring to touch it with their hands. Within a generation or so, they’d all develop certain ideas about movie tickets and their significance.

Now take the Eucharist and reverse the process, treating it like a movie ticket…Enough said.
Is it really any wonder only 30% of Catholics today believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? Lex orandi, lex credendi.

I know of well-intentioned, orthodox Catholics who don't get what all the fuss is about concerning Mass in the Extraordinary Form, being perfectly content to accept the Novus Ordo as what "Holy Mother Church has given us." A little digging only reveals that the Novus Ordo Mass in its present form is NOT at all in keeping with what the Vatican II documents envisioned, nor what Pope Paul VI himself had hoped for when he approved the New Mass. These are not the accusations of some deranged traditionalist; read the Liturgy Constitution for yourself, and you will see that: Latin was supposed to be preserved; the faithful were to be taught how to say the Latin responses; sacred music was to be retained and encouraged; and Gregorian chant was to be given pride of place in the liturgy. How many of these Vatican II directives have modern parishes--who claim to be faithful to this Council--followed? Rather, is it not more common to hear Protestant execrations like "Breathe" or "All Are Welcome" (and often blared loudly post-Communion, interrupting one's intimate moments with Our Lord)?

Communion in the hand--the norm in 99% of all Novus Ordo parishes--is a corruption introduced by disobedient clergy who eventually got their way. It never surprises me to find a correlation between the numbers of parishioners who receive on the tongue and the number who genuflect before the Tabernacle; the latter usually diminishes in inverse proportion to the former.

As to altar girls, that was also a corruption introduced by disobedient bishops who probably thought it might pave the way for female ordination. Although they haven't gotten female ordination--Deo gratias--they've gotten their female altar servers, taking up the places that rightfully belong to male youths who may be called to a vocation.

One of the most tragic aspects of the implementation of the New Mass, however, was one that Pope Paul VI never foresaw: the wholesale destruction of so many venerable high altars in Catholic Churches everywhere, in order to make way for freestanding blocks of stone where the priest could face away from the East--always traditionally the direction of the rising sun, symbolic of our Lord's Resurrection, and therefore sacrificial in emphasis--toward the people, with the focus now on a communal feast at the table of the Lord's Supper. The only other time in history that so many high altars were smashed was during the Reformation.

I remember this fact hitting home to me rather vividly when I made a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Lisieux, built in honor of St. Thérèse. Essentially completed in the 1930s, the vast church is flanked by numerous side chapels, each one--as was proper to the time--with an altar attached to the wall. After the so-called "mandate" to face the people (the mandate never existed), every single one of these altars was rendered obsolete. Now they stood as mere historical remnants, carved stone slabs ringing the nave where once stood priests offering the sacrifice, today empty. There was something heartbreaking about the whole thing--and the same holds true in all the old churches in Europe and elsewhere. These ancient churches are a testament to the drastic measures taken by the pseudo-liturgists in the 1960s and beyond, not because they've been renovated, but because they have not.

This is in no way to detract from holy, faithful priests who reverently offer the Novus Ordo and foster true devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. May God bless them richly. But what a wonder the Motu Proprio has been, opening the way to Mass in the Extraordinary Form everywhere, bringing back the ancient and beautiful liturgy, where the whispered prayers underscore the sacred and awful mysteries taking place on the altar, the words leaving no doubt of the sacrificial nature of Mass; where the music directs the mind and heart upward to God, rather than downward to self; and where the priest, along with all the people, face the Lord in the Tabernacle, who is the Source of all life, deserving of all glory, honor, and love.

10 May 2010

12th & Delaware

Lapsed Catholic Heidi Ewing and her friend Rachel Grady, two filmmakers made famous by their documentary Jesus Camp, released an "objective" film about the Pregnancy Care Center in Ft. Pierce, Florida, and its rival abortion clinic across the street. Father Tom Euteneuer featured in the film, which premiered at Sundance in January.

The main problem is that the Pregnancy Care Center only agreed to the film because they were told it would focus exclusively on its work helping mothers and their infants. Mesdemoiselles Ewing and Grady, however, unbeknownst to PCC, snuck across the street and gave equal time to the abortion clinic. The final edit, which claims to be an objective documentary, is anything but; the directors conveniently left out information about the abortionists' felony convictions, the lawsuit filed against them for violence against the PCC, and the monetary judgment won by Fr. Euteneuer after having received death threats from the clinic workers. The film also leaves out the abortion clinic's abysmal inspection report, which turned up 13 violations of Florida law. Fr. Euteneuer sums them up on his Facebook page:

During observation of the facility conducted with the Administrator [Candace Dye]:

*She was unable to locate sterile suturing supplies and equipment;
*She was not aware of the requirement for the facility to have sterile suturing supplies and equipment;
*She stated that the facility does not have cardiac monitoring equipment;
*She stated that a physician had donated a defibrillator, however, she was unable to locate it
*She acknowledged that the facility does not have a crash cart;
*She stated that the facility does not have position descriptions for any staff member;
*She acknowledged that the facility does not have mandatory written policies and procedures for the following: Patient admission, pre- and post-operative care, physicians’ orders, medications storage and administration, sterilization and disinfection, medical records and facility records, emergency measures and anesthesia.
*She acknowledged that the facility does not have written policies and procedures related to anesthesia.
*The Administrative Assistant acknowledged that she has not monitored the temperature on the refrigerator that is used to store medication and testing supplies for the past 13 months.

The Report revealed that in each of the above violations, the Administrator stated that she was not aware of the legal requirements to operate a second-trimester abortion clinic in the State of Florida.

This from the same woman who's been operating the clinic for 20 years. Frightening.

You can read the PCC's official statement on the film 12th & Delaware here.

For those with the gumption, you can send Heidi Ewing a message, as I did, letting her know her mendacity has not gone unnoticed.

04 May 2010

No Greater Love

A film by Michael Whyte on the discalced Carmelite monastery in London's Notting Hill.

03 May 2010

Wheezy, Sneezy, and Breezy

Reading this post, with its ruminations on certain individuals' attempts to purify the English language of undesirable elements, made me think of French republicans' efforts to do the same in the 18th century, and in particular their drastic and rather silly reworking of the Gregorian calendar. As we know, anything smacking of l'ancien régime greatly irritated the revolutionaries, who established a committee to rename the months and replace saints' feast days with days commemorated by more sacred objects: nuts, fruits, stones, and various four-legged creatures. This more "rational" calendar would be divided by seasonal equinoxes, with each month consisting of 30 days, and the Christian 7-day week replaced by a decade of 10 days, the décadi (tenth day) being a day of rest from one's labors.

The names of the months were invented words, meant to correspond to the season's weather. Thus, you had:

September/October: Vendémiaire (Roughly translated: Wine-harvest)
October/November: Brumaire (Foggy)
November/December: Frimaire (Frosty)
December/January: Nivôse (Snowy)
January/February: Pluviôse (Rainy)
February/March: Ventôse (Windy)
March/April: Germinal (Seeding)
April/May: Floréal (Flowering)
May/June: Prairial (Grassland)
June/July: Messidor (Wheat-harvest)
July/August: Thermidor (Hot season)
August/September: Fructidor (Fruitful)

The National Convention adopted the new calendar in October of 1793, but backdated it to begin in September 1792. Thus this nonsense continued--causing no little disarray and inconvenience to tradesmen and laborers, who now had to work three extra days before their Sabbath rest--for twelve years, until Napoleon very sensibly reinstituted the Gregorian Calendar on midnight of 31 December 1805.

On the other side of the Channel, Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle proposed Anglicized versions of the months, achieving even greater heights of silliness by coming up with the following: Vintagearious, Fogarious, Frostarious, Snowous, Rainous, Windous, Buddal, Floweral, Meadowal, Reapidor, Heatidor, and Fruitidor. As to the rest of the Brits, who showed far more common sense and wit, their preferred monikers conjure up images of little men dancing convivially in a cottage in some forest glade: Wheezy, Sneezy and Freezy; Slippy, Drippy and Nippy; Showery, Flowery and Bowery; and Wheaty, Heaty and Sweety.

And speaking of invented words...

This one was the result of a misreading.