Tuesday, December 25, 2007

On the proper celebration of the liturgy

This is not the post I anticipated would be my next post. I had planned on posting on Spe Salvi a while ago, but I'm still working on it (or, rather, I put off working on it). I, however, will be discussing some research I've been doing regarding vigil masses.

I heard, in the newspaper, that our local parish back home was having a Christmas Eve Mass at 3:00 PM, December 24. This struck me with quite a surprise, and as quite odd. As I understood, no vigil mass could be celebrated before 4:00 PM the day before a Sunday or Solemnity. What was our parish doing??

There are four different masses which can be celebrated on Christmas, namely the Christmas Vigil on the evening of the 24th, then there is Midnight Mass, Mass at Dawn, and Mass During the Day. I believe that the priest's normal prescriptions on celebrating only two masses in a day are also lifted and three are allowed.

Well, I knew for sure that this mass couldn't possibly considered a "Midnight Mass", so we assume, for the moment, that this mass was the vigil of Christmas. The questions we need to answer are: when vigil masses can actually start, and whether or not the Christmas Vigil is an exception to the rules.

First, on the issue of when vigil masses can actually start, it is "common knowledge" that the liturgical day cannot occur earlier than 4:00 PM. I had heard this properly first from a priest friend, and was subsequently confirmed in this. Also, our home parish had moved the anticipated mass to 4:00 at some point, and I seem to think that was the earliest that was allowed.

The internet is quite quiet on the subject. The best commentary I heard was from Catholics United for the Faith. In their entry Saturday Vigil Mass in the Liturgy category of their Faith Facts section, they say: "The common practice for the earliest vigil Mass is 4 p.m." They expand on this, of course, but it seems to confirm my earlier suspicion. They say:
The Church allows Catholics to fulfill their Sunday or Holy Day obligation by participating in a vigil Mass prescribed for the particular Holy Day. “This Mass may be celebrated only in the evening, at times determined by the local ordinary.”[1] When prescribing the times acceptable in their territory for vigil Masses, local ordinaries should consider the time of sunset in their locale as well as the liturgical cycle itself.

Depending on the season and place, the sun begins to set between 4 and 5 p.m. in many parts of the world. Because of this, local ordinaries have allowed the vigil Mass as early as 4 p.m. Any earlier scheduling would seem to violate liturgical guidelines for two reasons. First, the concept of a day beginning at sunset loses significance when the sun has not set. Secondly, the midafternoon prayer of the Liturgy of Hours may take place as late as 3 p.m. To celebrate a vigil Mass at such an early time diminishes the liturgical cycle.

So, it seems to be up to the local bishop. I've searched high and low on the USCCB's website, as well as that of the Archdioceses of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Chicago. I came up empty on that, though it is probably hidden there, somewhere.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law states:
Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.
The word "evening" is "vesper" in Latin. So, who defines what is "evening"? Apparently the local ordinary would. I did come across an interesting article in Google's archives of the internet (the site itself was broken) here. Apparently there have been indults granted in various times and places which extend this permission beyond canon law to as early as Noon on Saturday. The United States, however, had its last indult expire in 1985, and I do not believe one has been requested or granted since this article was published. Therefore, we must go back to Canon 1248, which clearly states that evening (vesper) is the time.

Vespers traditionally are prayed at 6:00. The hour of None is celebrated at 3:00, and so clearly, 3:00 is too early. Here, even in the dead of winter, the sun does not set earlier than 4:34. Evening could be defined as when the day is "well spent" as in that article. This could reasonably be argued to be 4:00, but really couldn't be argued for 3:00, and even 3:30 could be pushing it. Since a special indult must be given to celebrate an anticipated mass at Noon or later, and that 3:00 is the hour of None, then 4:00 would be the earliest time a local ordinary could offer to his diocese for a vigil mass, unless he had special indult from the Holy See.

So, with the first point established, regarding when an anticipated mass can be held, we can move on to determining whether the Christmas vigil falls into some special class which is an exception to the rule. Again this is difficult to pin down.

The General Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar do have a special listing for Christmas.
34. The Mass of the vigil of Christmas is used in the evening of 24 December, either before or after evening prayer I.
Well, we have this word evening again. I was unable to confirm that it is the same Latin word, but I think we can safely operate under that assumption. Canonically, if the word is the same, then the interpretation should be the same between them. Christmas is a special solemnity, in the sense that it has multiple special liturgies attached to it. There is but one liturgy for the Immaculate Conception, but 4 for Christmas.

If one were looking for a specific example of an exception, the pascal Triduum is a great example. I believe the Easter Vigil liturgy (with the candles and the 9 readings) must happen after sundown, rather than simply after a certain hour. I know of no such demands on Christmas Eve. Note also that the exception pushes back the time, rather than extending it.

I see no reason for the Vigil mass of Christmas, which can be celebrated before or after First Vespers, could be celebrated as early as 3:00, and in fact, the evidence seems to me that it would be subject to the same limitations as any other vigil or anticipated mass (though this is a proper vigil).

Therefore, I would conclude that the pastor here was in error when celebrating the liturgy of the Christmas Vigil at 3:00 PM, December 24. the GIRM states:
354. On Sundays, on the weekdays of the Advent, Christmas, Lenten, and Easter Seasons, on feasts, and on obligatory memorials:

a) If Mass is celebrated with a congregation, the priest should follow the calendar of the church where he is celebrating;
This was a mass with a congregation, the church was a diocesan parish, it was a weekday of advent (as established above), and so the mass for Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent should have been celebrated. The faithful who attended this mass, and none other on the 24th or 25th, according to my estimation, would not have fulfilled their Christmas obligation, though this would be of no fault of their own. The pastor would be to blame, for misleading the parish if he were not properly informed to the legalities of the solemnity. This is just the most recent in a line of liturgical abuses that have been noted in this parish.

An inquiry of this rule may be sent on to the Diocesan Office for Divine Worship. If it is made, it and any response will be posted here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

UPDATE: Burke and the "Priestesses"

As I reported earlier, Archbishop Burke of St. Louis was set to excommunicate some women if they went through a faux ordination ceremony over the weekend.

.- Two women who took part in a ritual they claimed was an ordination ceremony have been placed under interdict, the Associated Press reports.

Rose Marie Dunn Hudson, 67, and Elsie Hainz McGrath, 69, underwent the ceremony at a St. Louis synagogue. The ceremony was led by a South African former nun who claimed to have been ordained a bishop by a German bishop in communion with Rome. The two women plan to "co-pastor" a community, starting December 1, in a space offered by a local Unitarian church.

Mmmm, interdict. There's a word I haven't heard in a while. This is why I like Burke, he will use to full Canonical Vocabulary when chastising these wackos.

Read that last line, though. They are going to co-pastor a community in a Unitarian Church. In a sense, I'm glad they had to resort to using a space occupied by a "you're good, I'm good, everyone's good" crowd.

Archbishop Raymond Burke of the archdiocese of St. Louis sent a three-page letter to the women after they underwent the ceremony. He ordered the women to "renounce any attempts" to celebrate Mass, hear confessions, or officiate at any other sacrament. The letter summoned them to appear before a church tribunal on December 3.

In the archdiocesan newspaper on Friday the archbishop wrote that the women would confuse and lead astray the faithful by their "sinful action."

Ms. McGrath claimed the two women are helping to "bring about badly needed reforms," to heal the church's "dysfunction."

Reverend Arthur Espelage, executive coordinator for the Canon Law Society of America, said the actions of Archbishop Burke are "extremely formal" measures.
He said each rite the women preside over creates a deeper separation from the church.
"He knows the law very well," he said, speaking of the archbishop. "He's a very conservative archbishop, he's going to take a severe stand here. But even if you had a very liberal bishop, you'd have the same response.
"Civil disobedience doesn't change laws in the church."

Think they will show up to their tribunal? Again, an awesome Canon Law word. I really hope that the example can be made, and they don't lead too many people astray. I'm sure Burke has a plan of action in place.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Episcopal Split

The Anglican Church is coming apart at the seams. To that end, the Diocese of Pittsburgh has voted to separate from the national Episcopal Church, and align themselves with "a more traditional province in the Anglican Communion."

And so it begins, the Anglican Church is beginning to disintegrate. It doesn't help that they picked a bishopess to lead them and made a divorced gay man a bishop, who, incidentally, will be getting gay married soon.

I predict here that the Catholic Church will see conversions on the rise. I've always held that there can be no such thing as a "thinking Anglican" because they will think themselves Catholic. They must; after all, their Ecclisal Community started when King Henry VIII wanted a divorce. This whole event will make those who aren't crazy activist liberals re-examine what their religion means, when their leadership had gone so far astray. We can only hope they see that the only Church that has remained consistent for the past two millenia is the Catholic Church.

Womenpriests and Abp. Burke

Sometimes you encounter an article that you just can't pass up.

St. Louis, Nov. 8, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has warned two local women that they face excommunication if they go through with plans for a Sunday ceremony at which they will claim to be ordained as priests.

The archbishop sent personal letters by courier to Rose Marie Dunn Hudson and Elsie Hainz McGrath, reminding them that they would incur the "censure of excommunication" if they participated in the ceremony, which is being held at a Jewish synagogue under the auspices of the "Womenpriests" organization.

I'm glad we're still excommunicating women who try to be ordained. After the first round of excommunications, we just started letting them be, which is troublesome, and sends the wrong message to the Church. Bravo, Archbishop Burke.

Archbishop Burke noted that the fraudulent "ordination" ceremony, held in direct violation of Church teaching and authority, would constitute an "act of schism." He warned the women that additional penalties could be used against them, along with the excommunication that would be automatically imposed.

McGrath told an AP reporter that she would ignore the archbishop's warning, which she characterized as a "form of intimidation."

Two interesting points, first of all, what will be these additional penalties. In a sense, I hope they go through with the "ordination" just so I can see what Burke has up his sleeves. Second, how is this intimidation, this is really just a final warning before the canonical excommunication, the "turn back now" sign. The excommunication will happen. I just can't see what part of "and this is to be held by all christian faithful" people don't understand.

Interestingly enough, they couldn't find any Catholic space to have the "ordination" "mass", and so some reform Jews stepped in. Abp. Burke is understandably upset, and he appealed to the Jewish community to change their mind. (From the Curt Jester)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

On Archbishop Burke

Recently, Archbishop Burke of St. Louis published an article in a Canon law Journal (I don't think in English, however) that discussed the obligation of Catholic Bishops to deny the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion, or other serious, sinful positions.

This is somewhat in opposition to the statement of the USCCB, saying essentially that the individual bishops should do what they want. The Canon law, however, is fairly clear about this position:
Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
The important part here is the line "manifest grave sin". The word manifest here comes from the meaning of public. If they persist in a sin which is public, not private, then they are "not to be admitted to holy communion". This, Archbishop Burke, argues, is the reason that all bishops should be united on this front.

I heard him speak on the radio the other day, and it was quite good.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lesbian Bishopess

As I've noted earlier, the Episcopal Church is setting themselves up for a schism. This time, it's right here in Chicago.
A lesbian Episcopal priest has made the top-five list of bishop-candidates for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The list includes three women. No woman has ever been a finalist before.

"I believe that accepting this nomination is what God is asking of me," Rev. Tracey Lind said in a statement. The openly lesbian cleric is dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland and author of Interrupted by God.

Bishop James Stanton of Dallas, a leader in the global effort against gay bishops, called Lind's nomination distressing.

"It's an action that says Chicago really doesn't care what the rest of the Anglican Communion says," he told the Sun-Times.

Yep, that's because the "Anglican Communion" isn't real. All that holds them together is stubbornness and not being Catholic. They started with the King wanting to divorce, and yet expect to maintain some sort of worldwide unity. There is no reason for them to be unified.

The worldwide Anglican Communion has been dealing with the possibility of schism since 2003, when the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

"My life with my partner, Emily Ingalls [a cradle Episcopalian], is the gift that most sustains me," Lind's statement said. "Together, we tend our garden, travel, hike."

And, as I said before, bishop Robinson is going to get gay married soon. That's not going to help things. This is all just a case of trying to politicize Church in a way it should not be. Bishops should be chosen because they are the best person for the job, or something like that; fidelity to the creeds and administrative savvy, and all that. If you are just choosing a bishop to anger the rest of the world, this is something you should reflect on.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

A (real) bishop for Women's ordination

A real Catholic Bishop in Australia said that the Vatican should look into changing it's practice of ordaining only celibate men. (Article)
Bishop Pat Power, an auxiliary of the Canberra, Australia diocese, has indicated his support for an end to mandatory clerical celibacy, and suggested a new discussion of the possibility of ordaining women.

In a public response to a campaign by Australian Catholic activists to end the celibacy discipline, Bishop Power said that while Vatican leaders are unwilling to reconsider the issue, among "ordinary Catholics" he has found both support and "a sense of urgency" about the need for change.

"Where there is the conviction that the Eucharist is at the heart of Catholic belief and practice, there must be questions asked about disciplinary laws in the Church which have the net effect of denying many Catholics regular access to the Eucharist," the Australian bishop wrote. He said that by limiting priestly ministry to celibate men the Church was in effect restricting access to the Eucharist "because of the scarcity of priests."

Bishop Power went on the praise Australian activists for raising the question of ordination for women. The bishop said that he recognized "the sensitivity to the question at the level of the Vatican," but called for "a more open and thorough examination of the issues around the ordination of women and the whole structure of the priesthood."

Does anyone honestly think this makes any sense? As the article goes on the point out, the issue is closed, Pope John Paul II said: "I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

In reading the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Papal Infallibility, it is easy to see that this is not a personal decree of the pope, but rather an ex cathedra decree. He clearly intended this to be universal.

In my vote, this is so scandalous, that this Bishop should be forced to recant and/or resign.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ding Dong

A Roman Catholic priest is being fined 5,000 euros by municipal officials each time he rings his church bell for early morning Mass.

Municipal officials of Tilburg, 115 km south of Amsterdam, are responding to the complaints of residents about the bells ringing at 7:15 a.m. each day.

According to municipality spokesman Thomas Heesters, city officials urged Fr. Harm Schilder for months to stop ringing the early morning bell of the Holy Margarita Maria Church. But when the priest did not comply, the city warned that starting Aug. 16, he would be fined for every morning the bell sounds, reported The Associated Press.

Despite the threat, the bells rang out again Thursday and Friday.

''The council does not want to get involved in this - it's a house of prayer - but we have to take into account the feelings of local residents,'' Heesters was quoted as saying.

The first fine was to be delivered on Friday. If the priest refuses to pay, Heesters reportedly said, the municipality could send bailiffs to the church.

The Diocese of Den Bosch has asked the priest to stop the ringing the bell or take measures to make it quieter ''to prevent further escalation in the case.''

The parish website posted a statement, saying it is taking the complaint seriously and looking into whether it could install a smaller bell. “Legally, the parish has a right to ring the bell,” the statement said.

“People who are bothered by the bell should know that we pray for them in the Mass,” the message concluded.

The bells did not sound on Monday morning.
If they think 7:15 is bad, they should be glad they don't ring the Angelus bells at 6, noon and 6.

Everything is better in Spain

Having a Spanish housemate, I am oft informed how much better some of the things are from Spain. Two news articles are telling of this fact, how much better abortion and the loss of faith is in Spain.

During the last ten years, abortions have almost doubled with an increase of 90.5 percent, making Spain the European country with the greatest increase in the number of abortions, followed by Belgium and Holland.

IFP president Eduardo Hertfelder said 97,000 abortions took place in 2006. “If this trend continues, in 2010 one out of every five pregnancies (125,000 annually) will end in abortion,” he said.

He noted that abortions in 200 were up six percent from 2005, and that the statistics indicate that at the very least, “266 children are not born each day in Spain because of abortion, resulting in one abortion taking place every 5.4 minutes.”

He called the government’s policies “obsolete and erroneous” and said it was “unheard-of that in these times the Ministry of Health does not want to make a distinction between abortions carried out for life or health of the mother and those carried out for psychological reasons, when these represent practically all (96.7%) abortions that take place. “To continue hiding the reality or hiding in empty policies is not, therefore, an effective solution,” Hertfelder stated.

That's something all the abortion people talk about all the time "health of the mother", and "rape or incest". What they don't say is how small a fraction that really makes up.
According to a survey conducted by the Investiga research firm, although 73.8 percent of Spaniards say they are Catholic, only 36 percent admit that they are practicing.
And the article goes on to say that more women than men practice. I wonder what the percentages would be if they more strictly defined "practicing".

Everything is better in Spain.


Wikipedia and the Vatican

The BBC recently accused the Vatican of tampering with Wikipedia articles, but this is something that Vatican officials deny. (Article)
The Vatican on Friday denied BBC reports that it tampered with the Wikipedia online encyclopedia entry for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, said such an initiative on the part of the Vatican would be “absurd,” reported ANSA.

The BBC reported on Wednesday that the Wikipedia Scanner, which reveals the identity of organizations that edit the online encyclopedia, recorded that Vatican computers were used to change a Web page about Adams.

The edit removed links to newspaper stories, which alleged that Adams' fingerprints and handprints were found on a car used in a double murder in 1971.

Fr. Lombardi said there are many computers at the Vatican and it is possible that an individual may have accessed Wikipedia from a Vatican computer. But the idea that the edit was an initiative of the Holy See is “without any logic,” he said.

As if the Vatican had nothing better to do. I'm sure that this article tampering/editing list has thousands of listings, but the one from a computer located at the Vatican stuck out. I wonder if in a library or something in the Vatican, if there is wireless access and any computer that wanted could access the internet and be considered a Vatican IP.

Isn't that what Wikipedia is for, though? A place for whomever, wherever, to edit and change articles as they please? Isn't that the point of a Wiki? Why should anyone even care if the Vatican wanted to change facts, just like Steven Colbert.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Curing Procreation

An Archbishop from Manila said recently that there was no cure for having children. (Article)
According to Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, head of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal, a priest who sired a child cannot be rehabilitated. "No matter how you assist this priest, that child remains and he has a natural obligation towards the child."
Well, there is one way I can think of. This might go against Catholic morality and one of the commandments, or something, but it would solve the problem. Something like that, yeah.

In Archbishop Cruz's view, bishops who "overlook" or "just forgive" misconduct by their clergy face problems. If one priest is "allowed to misbehave" and continue in the ministry, "there will be more," the prelate warned, expressing concern about tolerance sending a "wrong signal" to seminarians.

In the northern Philippine archdiocese he has led for 16 years, "about 17 priests have left because there's a woman, there's a child or there's a boyfriend," the prelate said Aug. 3 at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) headquarters in Manila.

Those numbers don't seem too bad. He does have a good point, though. It's the slippery slope of priestly discipline. Although everyone knows what is right and wrong, if the wrong is accepted by silence, and not punished by authority, there could be a view of "Oh, I guess it's not that bad. I didn't kill a guy."

Archbishop Cruz, however, said he could "only guess" the total number of priests with children. In the Catholic Directory of the Philippines, the former CBCP president noted, most dioceses list inactive priests who have fathered children among priests "on leave," "with no assignment" and other categories.

This only demonstrates what a problem people see this as. So much so that we need to cover it up.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Clergy, has acknowledged most bishops are "not of the punitive school of thought."

At the Aug. 15 inauguration of John Mary Vianney-Galilee Development and Retreat Center southeast of Manila, he told UCA News: "Thank God the bishops of the Philippines did not advocate the 'one-strike-you're out' policy." Instead, the CBCP "accepted" the position that the church should give "fallen" priests "help" to "repair the man (and) help him repent."

The commission maintains a priest with one child can undergo "curative measures," the cardinal said. "Singular events" may spell a "weakness" that can be treated "pastorally," and which can be healed through "a program that encourages a person to be better rather than just punishing him," he elaborated.

However, he stressed, a priest with more than one child is helped to leave the ministry. Moreover, "the church is very strict about those who have abused, who repeatedly hurt or take advantage of people."

So, one is not enough. "Oh, so you just fathered one child out of wedlock, and therefore we can only confirm that you violated your priestly vows once, so I suppose we should give you a break, right." I would be interested to know what the ratio of number of priests who have more than one child to the number with at least one child. I would guess it is high enough to justify requiring any priests found to be fathers in the biological sense to be removed from active ministry, then laicized. (Note here, this priest is still a priest, and is able to exercise the priestly ministry, though would be barred from that.)

The pastor of my parish at the end of my high school years left the priesthood for this reason. Word was he was either an expecting father, or actually had a child. Supposedly he ended up getting married, though legally, not in the Church. This was quite a strange situation for our parish. The mass, under him, lost "the sense of the holy". He didn't even reverence the blessed sacrament after the consecration, like he should have.

I think that the Bishops need to be serious about sexual discipline in their priests. Sexual chastity and priestly celibacy is of the utmost importance. When this is neglected, you get the diocese of Los Angeles settling a bazillion sexual abuse cases and all but bankrupting.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Music "of the people"

National Catholic Register had an article in their most recent issue about liturgical music and Vatican II.

The first couple lines caught my attention

In the documents of the Second Vatican Council is a mandate for an encouragement of the popular in music — the “music of the people” at Mass.

This is an aspect of Vatican II that lovers of fine music hope will not always be understood as it has been by many parishes — for several reasons.

and I thought that this was going to be someone defending electric guitar and tambourine as valid liturgical instruments. But, rather than lay out why these reasons people don't like liturgical kumbuya just to debunk them, he lays out why they are well founded.
For one, it could not be foreseen at the time of the council how “music of the people” outside the church would evolve — that is, American pop music was just then beginning a conquest of the entire world. By the 1980s, it would inundate it, in all forms of media.
Today it is possible to hear a mild rock beat (such as might have been found in the Everly Brothers, for example) in almost every kind of music in the world — even in new church songs. Folk guitar players, too often, don’t know what to do but strum their guitars in mild rock rhythm.

Many new songs have the typical three- and four-chord harmonies of pop songs and melodies that do not reach the level of the mediocre when compared to disciplined music, the great hymns, Gregorian chant or classical melody.

From a technical-musical point of view, most pop music is unaccomplished as music. However, there can be no question that this is now “the music of the people.”

"Jesus, Jesus. Jesus in the morning, Jesus in the noontime. Jesus, Jesus. Jesus when the sun goes down." Not to mention the myriad of other musics that occur at Church. The homily at one of the Churches I attended on Sunday was about music and music styles. He reminded us that it is not just the lyrics we have to watch out for, but that even the most wholesome lyrics could be wrapped in insidious melodies which could lead us down the wrong path. The ancients knew that certain melodies raised our minds to heaven.

He goes on to discuss how we got to the state we are in.

One fact of my own experience serves as a telling sign of the weakness of the volunteer system in church music. As a published composer of symphonies, ballets and operas (and I am a pianist, violinist, and guitarist) — I have never once been spontaneously asked for advice by anyone — priests and lay musicians alike — in the whole of my life as a Catholic in America. I am invariably asked, quite casually, to sing in choirs and play at Mass — and to work under a volunteer little qualified for his or her position.

It is remarkable that no one has ever asked me to do something — not even in a single question — worthy of my expertise in music. I do not raise this point because of sour grapes — I am content in my work as a classical composer; I raise it as a first-hand example of the lack of interest in musical improvement in the volunteer system.

It is probably an example of what I call the "vocal minority syndrome" in which a few persons with their own ideas get into power, or at least complain a lot; they volunteer for roles and drive decision making. This happens and the average man in the pew isn't really considered. The average John or Mary in the Church isn't likely to be the one who likes to speak up about things, and also they are unlikely to enjoy too many liturgical innovations. And since the people in the pew don't complain, the people in power just keep doing the same. Squeaky wheel gets the grease.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Should we pray to Allah?

In an alarming article, a Catholic Bishop from the Netherlands tells Christians that they should start calling God "Allah" in our prayers.

Bishop Martinus "Tiny" Muskens of Breda told the "Network" television show that "God doesn't really care how we address Him."

Hmm? This morning at Mass, I remember praying "Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name...". If the name of God is truly hallowed, then it is probably important. God would not have revealed his name to us if it wasn't important.

Pointing out that "Allah" is a term already used by Christians who speak Arabic, Bishop Muskens said that humans are needlessly divided over such terminology. God, the bishop said, is above such "bickering."

The Dutch bishop admitted that his suggestion was not likely to gain widespread acceptance. But he predicted that within a century or two, Dutch Catholics would be addressing prayers to "Allah."

Think this is prophetic? I do. The way Muslims are moving into Europe, and the way that European governments are embracing Islam while pushing away Christianity makes me think there is a chance that within 200 years, there could be a totalitarian fundamentalist Islamic state within Europe. Persecutions of Catholics, forcing them to pray to a foreign God are not so out of the question as to be absurd.

I am not an exert in Islam. I know they have a number of things that are good, or at least acceptable. But I also understand that their theology is quite flawed, to the point of building up a God who is not the Christian God. For instance, I understand that the view of God is that he is not exactly personal, but instead controls all that is in the Universe. Essentially nothing happens without the hand of God acting and willing it. The Christian God is merciful, the Muslim God is the active force in the world. Not a molecule moves without Allah acting on it. This is a different God than the one who would become Man and empty Himself on the Cross.

Maybe this Bishop should join with the priestess of the Anglican community who decided she is both Christian and Muslim.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

TV not "Gay" enough

A new report from the Gay and lesbian alliance against defamation (GLAAD) reports that prime time TV is not gay enough. That's right not gay enough. Seriously, why am I here, the jokes are plenty crude on their own, and they pretty much write themselves. I found the report here.

TV is not gay enough, but ABC is getting close. They rated the primetime lineups of the major networks from failing to excellent, and I'll summarize a bit of it.
  • ABC got a rating of "good" with 15% of "gay inclusive TV" in their primetime lineup.
  • CW rated "fair" with 12% gay TV
  • NBC rated "fair" with 9%
  • CBS rated "fair" with 7%
  • FOX rated "failing" with 6%
This list makes me think some math thoughts. (My younger brother once, when doing homework, remarked that math was gay. Coincidence? I don't think so.) If you fail with 6% or less, and are fair with 7%, then this is the cutoff. If we assume a linear scale, then 7-12% would be considered fair, consistent with their stated data. This means 13-18% is considered "good" and 19% or higher is considered "excellent".

Where does the number 6% come from? I would guess it is derived from the fact that someone must fail, and it must be FOX. People really don't like FOX. Except, that is, for television viewers, especially the young people. Top rated networks are CBS and FOX, and, yet, they have the least gay programming.

But, really, who is counting how gay TV is? Why are we doing this? These are the questions that need asking, and answering. How gay is gay enough? How gay is too gay? Having watched some TV in my day, I can assert that some of TV is fairly gay.

Let's take their numbers and ratings seriously for a bit. TV that is gay enough is probably rated good, though they would probably like to see everyone rated excellent. Let's assume "good" starts at 13%. This is like an eighth, and saying primetime is 3 hours a day 7 days a week, means we expect 2-3 hours a week of gay TV, which would be a half hour sitcom every weekday or a gay show on every primetime lineup every other day.

But, they are justified, right? Gay people make up a significant demographic, right? If we consult wikipedia, that repository of all that is true, we find that people will cite between 1 and 10% gay population, but that a critical look at the studies puts a mean around 3-4%. This means in order to simply not fail, you should have twice the population percent representation, and to be good, that should be 3 or 4 times. Not everyone deserves this treatment, but I suppose the underrepresented, or historically (or currently) bashed groups deserve such treatment? It sounds reasonable, right?

Well if we take this for one of the groups who is still misrepresented in America, we see the fallacy of this argument. Catholics are still regularly bashed in the mainstream media and their representation is almost only as a priest abusing kids, or something like that. Catholics represent 24% of the population, and so, in order to not fail, half of all TV should be portraying Catholics accurately and as awesome. 75% of all TV would be "good" and if all TV was properly portraying Catholics, we might consider it, then as "excellent".

There is no reason why we should be counting out the hours and minutes that TV is specifically portraying gays in a specifically positive light. The amount they demand seems high. If TV networks like ABC want to show lots of gay shows, and their advertisers want to support them, fine. If networks like CBS and FOX want to not show much gay TV, and people want to watch that, also fine. The market seems to work just fine. Except for the Catholics. That's what you get for being a majority and a minority. (Catholics are by far the largest Christian sect, but still there are twice as many total Protestants.)

This was at one point the end of the post, but I decided to look a little more into this. A quote from their website is quite telling:
The airwaves quite literally belong to each and every one of us, and, as such, networks have an obligation to reflect the faces and stories of their viewers.
Oh, really? Is that how the airwaves work? This is part of the entitlement mentality. The homosexuals feel entitled to TV time. How much? However much they want, that's how much. If each group wanted proper representation that would essentially mean we need to count out each little statistic, and make sure each group gets represented. Also, therefore, if we are going to do that, we need to make sure no group gets overrepresented. This is where the logic leads. 70% white, whatever precent black, hispanic, asian, etc. 3-4% gay (definitely no more than 10%), 52% protestant, 24% catholic, only 2% mormon, no more than 1% jewish. Nobody is expecting, nor advocating this, but this is where the logic leads. What the various groups want, really is the white christian to be represented 0% and the rest of TV be divided up among the various minorities. Sigh...

In case you were wondering, I laughed every line I read and wrote.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

On the Internet

For purely vain reasons, I searched for my blog on the internet. This was in an attempt to see if anyone else might have ever referenced me, linked to me, or anything like that. Nobody had, as expected, but I did find some interesting sites. Like this one:
We love the souls of the Roman Catholic people; but we abhor popery, Romish rituals, and the Roman church's many ungodly, unbiblical doctrines. As our Articles of Faith state, "We hold the pope to be antichrist spoken of in 1 John 2:18, the man of sin and son of perdition spoken of in 2 Thessalonians, chapter two. We believe the Roman Catholic Church to be none other than the woman who rides the beast spoken of in Revelation, chapter seventeen."
I'm glad to share the internet with these good fellows.

As an interesting side note, I like how they have a history of anti-Popery that dates back to 1646 (361 years, but who's counting). I bet we could come up with documents opposing their views, and espousing ours from about the year 500 (probably earlier). That's 1500 years, but again, who's counting?

Thanks for allowing me this indulgence, internet.


The lay pastor

It is rare for me to cite an article that was blogged about by another, which I read about there. It is even less often (never?) that I would write about someone else's blog post. Indeed, that is what I am doing today. I read about this post first on the Curt Jester. The original blog post found here. Also, forgive my abhorrent English above.

This commentary is great. It is a critique of the office of Parish Life Collaborator (or also Coordinator) (PLC). This is a lay person or a Nun, or an otherwise non-priest assigned to a parish with no priest to oversee parish work, and I suppose pastoral duties. This is a response to the lack of priestly vocations, but, as Fr. Powell points out, is also a hindrance to those vocations.

The biggest problem, he notes, is the fact that in these parishes, there is no visible example of the priesthood to aspire to.
We know young men need male leadership in order to be properly challenged to sacrifice secular enticements. Sister's appointment is one more example of the feminization of the Church and another nail in the coffin of priestly vocations.

This is a move (sideways and under the guise of an "emergent crisis") to undermine presbyteral authority in the parish by emptying the role of pastor of its orders. IOW, this is a move to make it possible to be appointed Pastor (even if not in name) w/o being an ordained priest. Priests will simply become traveling Sacrament Machines. The office of Priest Director will fade as demand for priests grows. Interesting side note: priests now are starting to look a whole like bishops in the Patristic period!
Wow, I've never thought of it that way, so much. Back home there is such a shortage of priests that they are merging parishes, and individual priests are holding down three or four churches. If these observations aren't bad enough, check out these predictions.

a). even with the availability of newly ordained priests, PLC's will continue to "pastor" their parishes with Fr. Newbie hanging around for "mentoring." He will be graduated to a staff position and made a "member of the team."

b). Within five years (but before the Fr. Newbies arrive) PLC's will demand the right to preach at Mass since Fr. Sacramental Minister isn't in residence and doesn't know the parish. How can he possibly preach to us when he doesn't know us?

c). Look for a new book of ceremonies to appear from The Liturgical Press, Liturgies for Pastoral Life Coordinators quite soon. It will be argued that since PLC's play a special role in the life of the parish, the church needs liturgies designed to celebrate their unique ministry. Translation: we need liturgical validation for the invention of the PLC so that the concept of the PLC is more easily tolerated over time. Liturgies bestow legitimacy and normalize innovation.

d). Parishes administered by female PLC's will produce far fewer priestly vocations than parishes run by priest-pastors. This NOT b/c women intentionally deter vocations or somehow jinx boys into believing that the priesthood is bad--how many priests today trace their vocations back to a religious sister? My point is that w/o active, visible, and regular priestly leadership in a parish, a boy or young man cannot "see" the priesthood in action.
Eeek. And yet, I think he's on to something. What he doesn't say, but I will, is that there are likely nefarious forces, waiting in the wings, ready to pounce on this, to change the Church, and remake it in their image. I speak of the "ordain women" (or womyn) types using this as a spring board to try underhandedly to remake the Church (or Chyrch, maybe). That said, many (likely most) of these PLC's will be good people, filling a perceived need at the request of their Bishops. I hope.
We are being asked to normalize the absence of the ordained ministry; or, at the very least, we are being asked to support purely functional solutions to an engineered crisis until we no longer see the absence of a priest as a problem. In other words, we are being slowly accustomed to the Protestantization of the Catholic Church in the U.S.
A process that started more than 40 years ago, when the spirit (poltergeist, really) of Vatican II got out of its box.

One thing I heard on the radio that was relevant to this was about the feminizing of our culture. In the post-war 60's new empowered woman stuff, out came a bunch of support for girls and women seeking careers. What happened, this lady asserted, was that boys were left behind, and forgotten. After all, what boy wants to go out and do real work (studying, etc.) when some girl can do his job. With all these support structures in place for girls going into technical careers and business, boys have been left by the wayside, and not pushed to their full potentials. I think this is related to the lack of vocations. Add in the fact that now women might be able to do the job of pastor, and it just might be a lost cause.

Pray for vocations hard enough and you might just get one.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Banning abortion is now criminal

Apparently, now it is "criminal" for a country or place to limit or ban abortion. At least that's what the UN says. (Article)

What surprises me the most is simply the fact that it would be essentially viewed as a crime against humanity to disallow abortion. When did this happen, and why wasn't I informed? This is a group who seeks to end all forms of discrimination against women, and they are deciding now that abortion (or lack thereof) constitutes discrimination. Why don't they ban the Church, after all, the Church is the mystical body of Christ, and Christ is God, and God created men and women differently, and so is discriminatory. This logic wouldn't surprise me.

It's really the complete lack of an understanding of proper argumentation and logic that surprises me.
When the Honduran delegation responded that government efforts were aimed at prevention of early and unwanted pregnancies, committee member Silvia Pimentel-- a faculty member at the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo-- fired back that the government had been as comprehensive as possible on prevention and that "there are situations where prevention is not enough." She continued, "Women have their reasons to seek an abortion, which should be respected." Pimentel admitted that those reasons did not always include a threat to the mother's life, but that she could not understand the abortion ban in Honduras where "the interests of the fetus outweigh those of the mother."
Using this logic, there should be no criminal law whatsoever. The thief has his reason to steal things, which should be respected. The murderer has his reason to kill people, which should be respected. The genocider has his reasons to extinguish another race, which should be respected. Also, why should we consider or not the interests of anyone over anyone else? Why should we think of the interests of someone with two healthy kidneys over someone who has none? Does anyone think this woman would be willing to give up a kidney tomorrow, just because her interests cannot be taken above someone else's? Note also, this person is on the faculty of a Catholic school. Why doesn't this surprise me?
Driving home the committee’s stance during Hungary’s review, Silvia Pimentel criticized the content of Hungary's planning materials. The Brazilian expressed concern over brochures entitled "Life is a Miracle," saying that conservatives often construed such material as reason for not having an abortion.
So, even having a reason to not have an abortion is bad now?
Other CEDAW committee members pressed Belize, Brazil, Kenya, and Liechtenstein on their abortion laws, calling on them to institute legal reform to formally permit abortions.
And this is why nobody takes the UN seriously. This commission on human rights, or whatever they are, is unwilling to stick with actual human rights violations, and just has to start messing with another political agenda. Why not press China to stop forcing women to get abortions, rather than tell countries they should allow abortion on demand?

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Church reaffirms what it has always believed, or rolls back Vatican II

On the heels of the Motu Proprio and the ensuing rollback of Vatican II, the job continues with a new document from the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (read: Inquisition). This document, a series of questions and answers, reiterates the Church's position with regards to other Christian and non-Christian religions. Apparently there have been enough erroneous theology that they needed to issue a mass clarification.

First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.

So, the Church doesn't change. Surprised yet?

Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: Christ "established here on earth" only one Church and instituted it as a "visible and spiritual community"5, that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.6 "This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him"7.

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church8, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.9 Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the "one" Church); and this "one" Church subsists in the Catholic Church.10

So, other Christians are okay, but not as cool as us.

Third Question: Why was the expression "subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?

Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are "numerous elements of sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her structure, but which "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity"11.

"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church"12.

Defective Church? They don't make them like they used to!

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery19 cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense20.

We'll see how this one goes over.


Motu Proprio Reflections

The Holy Father, some days ago issued a much anticipated Motu Proprio entitled Summorum Pontificum. An official English version has not yet been issued, and so I will be referring to the version located in the Catholic Culture Library. I find it interesting that the letter accompanying the Motu Proprio (of which there is an official English version) was just as long as the Motu Proprio itself.

The Pope first lays out the history of the liturgy, from Gregory the Great to Pius V, to the present. Then we get to the legal parts.

The Paul VI (1970) mass is the normal Rite and order of mass to be used. The use of the 1962 edition of the Missal is, however, allowed as an "extraordinary form of the liturgy of the Church".

Masses without people can be celebrated using either Missal. Community celebrations within religious communities (orders or whatnot) can habitually celebrate the 1962 liturgy if their superiors allow it. The exception here, which I don't really understand is that such permissions don't extend to the Triduum for masses without the people. I find that odd.
"Art. 5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

§ 2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held.

§ 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.

That article is the one that does the real action. In other words, if there is a group who really wants daily mass (or a Sunday mass) in a parish using the 1962 missal, and a priest who is qualified to say such a mass, they can have it. The bishop is given power here to make sure people follow the rules and don't go off the deep end, or create a rift. I find section 2 interesting; that there can be one such celebration on Sundays is interesting. I don't think this will affect parishes who already celebrate more than one old mass, because they will have special permission from their bishop.

And so, Motu Proprio.

The news coverage is interesting. I'm not sure why liberals are outraged (as the media reports) because they will probably never see a Tridentine mass, and won't have to if they don't want to. Jews, apparently are outraged, and the Anti-Defamation League has even issued a statement. There is one prayer for the Jews on Good Friday, in which the conversion of the Jews is prayed for. The Church prays for everyone's conversion, even (or especially) Catholics. Jews are God's chosen people (still) and play a special role in salvation history. We love the Jews, and want only the best for them, I don't see how this is offensive, nevermind that it is only once a year.

The letter from the Pope has a lot of good insight in it as well.
News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown.
I am even a little guilty of this, though I did discuss what aspects of a plan I would not like, not that I'm opposed to the Motu Proprio.

This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

Then, after discussing the love many had for the liturgy, the truth comes out about this:
Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.
Greater truth hasn't been told in a while. Not following liturgical norms really harms people and really causes them ill feelings. My own grandmother left our home parish (her parish of probably 60 years running) because of this reason (the priest refusing to ring the bells at the consecration was the straw that broke the camel's back).
In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often. Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.
Ha! This apparently is the complaint of the so-called liberals I saw on the news. They neither know Latin nor are well formed liturgically, and therefore will not even have a claim to request a 1962 mass.
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. 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. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.
I wonder if the Dominican Rite, or the other particular missals of the Latin rite will be brought back some time. I think I would like to experience them as well.

I think that the traditionalists will be happy, and I think now the Bishops will have the job of making sure the faithful can get these masses if they want them, and likewise making sure that people stay faithful and don't become traditionalists. The liberals won't notice any difference, neither will the Jews.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chimeras in real life

I first was aware of the term "Chimera" from some Anime that my roommate used to watch. The idea of an animal-human hybrid lives in the realm of fiction, and seems to have no place in reality.

Enter England. The English parliament has been considering removing a ban on creating such a being, but requiring that such an embryo must be destroyed within a couple weeks. Needless to say, many people worldwide are very much opposed to such legislation, the Church in particular.

Then, I read today that the position of the English Bishops is that if such a hybrid is produced, it should be given the rights of a human, and should be even allowed to be carried to term.
Human embryos injected with animal cells, or chimeras, should be accorded human status under proposals to be considered by the British Parliament in the fall, said the Catholic bishops of England and Wales.

They also said politicians should reconsider a proposed ban on the implantation of chimeras into women.

"In particular, it should not be a crime to transfer them, or other human embryos, to the body of the woman providing the ovum, in cases where a human ovum has been used to create them," the bishops said.

"Such a woman is the genetic mother, or partial mother, of the embryo; should she have a change of heart and wish to carry her child to term, she should not be prevented from doing so," they added.

In their submission, the bishops said that most of the procedures covered by the bill "should not be licensed under any circumstances," principally on the grounds that they violate human rights.

However, they said, "at very least, embryos with a preponderance of human genes should be assumed to be embryonic human beings and should be treated accordingly," they said.

Wow. I have no idea why anyone would even want to do such a thing, but I applaud the Church for taking the safe position. I haven't been reading news like I should, but I wonder if there has been something come out about cloning. I see cloning as little different than identical twinning, though wrong to do, it doesn't make the clone any less human. I heard a protestant apologist once say that he believes a clone would not have a soul. I would think the clone would have a soul, and therefore is fully human. A chimera would be at least part human, but I would think that it would not be truly human, maybe to the point of not gaining an eternal soul. But, we don't know, and really can't know, so must treat such a being as human, with all the dignity deserved.

I just hope we never have to find out.

Friday, June 22, 2007

TOB 1-10: The Beginning

I have been reading the Theology of the Body now for 4 days (not counting the introductions), and I figure I should be at the point where I can put a reflection forward on what has happened thus far.

At this point, John Paul II is still talking about the creation of man as laid out in Genesis, and the appeal of Christ to those words.

Man was created as male and female, and it is significant that there are two separate accounts which each tell us different things about this important aspect of mankind. Christ refers to both of these when he appeals to "the beginning".

When we examine the second creation story in detail, and in relation to the first, we note a certain richness that is expressed there. In this story, God created man (Adam) first, but man was alone. Though similar to the beasts, because he possessed a body, Man was different from them in significant ways. He could make choices, he was in the image of God.

Adam was the first man, or properly the first Human. In him was embodied all that is humanity. But, it is not good for man to be alone, so God created the animals, which didn't change the solitude that Man existed in, to this point. And so, God put Adam into a deep slumber (removing the will of Adam from the equation) and fashioned woman from the rib of Adam.

It was not until this point that Adam had any sense of "maleness" because an understanding of sex (gender) cannot exist without the complimentary relation between male and female. And so, up until the creation of Eve, Adam and Eve were literally and actually one flesh. And so, when it is said that through conjugal union, the two will become one flesh, this is what it meant by that. Adam, being the archetypal human, is complete in all ways. This completeness is what is reached when "the two become one flesh" through the conjugal union.
When they unite with each other (in the conjugal act) so closely so as to become "one flesh," man and woman rediscover every time and in a special way the mystery of creation, thus returning to the union in humanity ("flesh from my flesh and bone from my bones") that allows them to recognize each other reciprocally and to call each other by name, as they did the first time. ... The fact that they become "one flesh" is a powerful bond established by the Creator through which they discover their own humanity, both in its original unity and in the duality of a mysterious reciprocal attraction. (TOB 10:2)
Man is not truly complete as only male or only female, but regains a fullness in humanity through the community of persons, the relations between male and female.

I look forward to continuing these discourses.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Old Habits Die Hard

Some who read this post title might think I'm writing about some arcane religious order who refuse to change the garb they wear on a daily basis.

Alas, I am only speaking of myself. As busyness ensued, this was one of the first neglected areas. I am sorry for that. This, however does not mean that I will be back in the swing of things. If I happen upon something interesting, I will post it, but I am not going to likely be seeking out interesting stories in a well organized sense.

I will, however, be reading the Theology of the Body, by John Paul II, and hope to post commentary on it as I go. We'll see how far that goes.



Friday, May 25, 2007

Atheist supports Catholic Education

The Archdiocese of New York received a record-breaking gift of $22.5 million from self-styled atheist Robert Wilson to provide educational scholarships for inner-city children.

Wilson, a philanthropist and former Wall Street investor, gave the money to the Cardinal's Scholarship Program, started in 2005, to aid disadvantaged students.

Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, has expressed his gratitude for the "historic and far-sighted support from Mr. Wilson for the education and future well-being of our neediest children in the archdiocese."

Wilson, 80, told Bloomberg News, that, although an atheist, he has no problem giving money to fund Catholic schools.

"Let's face it, without the Roman Catholic Church, there would be no Western civilization," Wilson said. "Shunning religious organizations would be abhorrent."

Wilson added, "It was a chance for a very modest amount of money to get kids out of a lousy school system and into a good school system."
The references and jokes about various groups, etc. write themselves. Why can't Europe realize what this nonbeliever has stated? And of course there's the statement about Catholic schools and the quality of their religion teaching. I'll leave that to others.

I commend this guy for being honest.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hugo Chavez demands Papal Apology

Hugo Chavez has demanded an apology from the Pope to the indigineous peoples of the Americas for the evil stuff the Church did back in the day, or at least denying that it happened, supposedly. (Article)

"Something much more serious occurred here than during the holocaust of World War II, and nobody can deny that this is true, and neither can his Holiness come here, to our own land, and deny the aboriginal holocaust," Chavez said over the weekend on Venezuelan radio and television.

"So, as a head of state, but clad in the humility of a Venezuelan farmworker, I implore his Holiness to apologize to the peoples of our America," Chavez demanded.

Chavez said he paid close attention to everything the Pope said in Brazil, and that after hearing him say that the Gospel was not imposed upon the natives, he called Venezuela’s minister for the indigenous peoples, Nizia Maldonado, who said she did not share the Pope’s opinion and that it was "difficult to support, for God’s sake!"

I'm not sure what he's going on about, maybe he's just nuts.


Abortion Supporters Honored by Jesuits

In our next installment of the abortion supporting politician saga, surprise, another Jesuit university honors pro-abortion politicians at their commencement ceremony. (Article)
Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, delivered the commencement address at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco on Saturday. The pro-abortion supporter spoke during the ceremony at the university’s McLaren College of Business.

At the same ceremony, the college honored former California lieutenant governor Leo T. McCarthy, also a pro-abortion supporter, posthumously.

In a May 17 letter faxed to the university’s president, Fr. Stephen Privett, Patrick Reilly, president of the Virginia-based Cardinal Newman Society, urged him to withdraw the Pelosi invitation and the McCarthy honor.

Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco also received an honorary degree during the commencement ceremony for his demonstration of “an extraordinary sense of social justice, a passionate concern for peace, and a commitment to nonviolence to achieve ethical goals.”

The Cardinal Newman Society has asked Archbishop Niederauer to boycott the ceremony if the university did not change its plans.

A quick search didn't find out that the Archbishop boycotted the ceremony, though he should have done something crazy like close the school down or something. That's his job as Bishop, to make sure the Catholics aren't led astray.

Why is it that Jesuits always screw up like this?


Animal Human Hybrid in England

The British government has recently announced that they are lifting their ban on creating an Animal-Human hybrid, which has alarmed many. (Article)
"The creation of a hybrid animal-human embryo has been banned by everyone in the biotechnology field, until now -- and not just by religious groups," Bishop Sgreccia said. "This is because human dignity is compromised and offended and monstrosities will be created from these inseminations.

"It is true that these embryos are suppressed and the cells taken out, but the creation of an animal-human being represents a natural border that has been violated, the most grave of violations."

In an interview with Vatican Radio, he called for a complete moral condemnation of the practice, "in the name of reason and in the name of justice and science, which must be maintained for the well being of the person and respect for human nature."
He goes on to discuss why there is really no need for this. I can't imagine why we'd want to do this. Those who have no concerns of morality are willing to destroy human embryos, and people who do care about morals have adult stem cells to work with. What is the point here anyways?


Even more on Excommunication and Politicians

In an interview with Time, a Honduran Bishop discussed the excommunication of pro-abortion politicians, in the next salvo of this debate. (From EWTN)
Cardinal Maradiaga was asked, “Do you agree with the Pope’s statement that pro-choice Catholic politicians merit excommunication?” The cardinal responded by saying: “It is canon law that everyone who works for abortion is excommunicated. It’s not something the Pope invented. If you favor abortion, you are outside the communion of the Church. And it was necessary to say that. There are people in Mexico saying I am Catholic and I support abortion rights. This is a contradiction in its very essence. As a teacher of the Church, the Pope has a responsibility of teaching when something happening is wrong.”

Later he was asked: “Do you agree with bishops who deny giving Holy Communion to these politicians?” The cardinal replied: “This is a different point. For who am I to deny Holy Communion to a person? I cannot. It’s in the tradition of moral theology that even if I know a person is living in grave sin, I cannot take a public action against him. It would be giving scandal to the person. Yes, he should not seek [communion], but I cannot deny it from him.”

Nevertheless, in statements to Carlos Polo, reproduced exclusively by the Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Maradiaga, who is in Aparecida participating in the V General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council, said his comments to Time magazine should be reformulated “in light of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith teaches in its document, ‘Worthiness to Receive Communion’.”

“A politician who publicly supports abortion, he excommunicates himself. It’s not question of receiving Communion or not; he has already done serious harm to the communion of faith of the Church, to the communion of moral life, and therefore that person himself is doing an act that is inconsistent with what he says he believes,” the cardinal said.

“That is, we’re talking about a person who has become a broken-off branch of the tree of life of the Church, a dry branch that has lost its vital sap and is doing something that is a lie. One who is against life and who is clearly opposed to the message of the Lord Jesus, as is an abortion supporter, cannot be in Communion with Holy Mother Church,” he stated.

“Therefore, if one uses the desire to receive Communion as a justification, it is the worst manner of doing so, because one is doing an act that contradicts what one says he believes,” the cardinal said.

It looks to me like he was being corrected by his staffers, or the Vatican, or someone, based on canon law, which is very clear on the subject:
Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
Here, the phrase "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin" is the operative phrase. If their sin is grave (supporting abortion) and manifest (publicly, for instance, in a debate or a vote in congress), and they are obstinate (won't change their mind after warning them), they can, and indeed should be denied communion. This doesn't even touch on the formal excommunication either, which I feel should happen as well.

Yet, I don't think the Eucharist should be used as a political pawn. These politicians shouldn't seek the sacrament because they are not in a state of grace. If it comes to it, they should be denied communion. They also should be formally excommunicated, so there is no question. This should fall to the local bishops, and the National conferences should instruct them to act.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Motu Proprio Imminent

The President of Ecclesia Dei has come out saying that the Motu Proprio regarding the Tridentine Rite of Mass will be issued sooner rather than later. (Article)

Although he did not offer a specific date for the announcement, Cardinal Castrillon said that a long-awaited papal document, a motu proprio encouraging greater use of the traditional Latin liturgy, will be released in the near future.

"The Holy Father wants to preserve the immense spiritual, cultural, and aesthetic treasures tied to the old liturgy," the cardinal said. He said that the Tridentine rite-- which, he emphasized, has never been abolished-- will be used alongside the post-conciliar liturgy.

The Traditionalist Catholics rejoice. I, however, am hoping for a document that everyone can dislike. Something that the traditionalists don't think went far enough, and something that might irk, just a little, the French Bishops (as an example).

The good money is on Pentecost.


Benedict XVI is no John Paul II

A journalist has stated that he is upset with BXVI, because he's not living up to JPII's legacy. (Article)
An Italian priest-journalist has criticized Pope Benedict XVI for imitating the style of his predecessor, but failing to achieve the same results, during his visit to Brazil last week.

"Wojtylism is useless without Wojtyla," wrote Father Filippo Di Giacomo in a column for the daily La Stampa. The former missionary said that attendance at the opening session of the CELAM meeting in Aparecida-- about 200,000, rather than the 1 million organizers had anticipated-- showed a failure to match the popularity of Pope John Paul II. (A congregation estimated at about 1 million had gathered in Sao Paulo earlier when the Pope presided at the canonization of Frei Galvao.)

Di Giacomo argued that Pope Benedict had engaged in disputes with the bishops of Latin America during his trip-- another reason, he said, that the papal journey had been a disappointment.

Just after the anniversary of his second year, he doesn't live up to a 26 year reigning Pope. Big surprise. Plus, he's not JPII, he's his own Pope (or something like that). I think he's doing a good job, being Pope isn't just about drawing the crowds.


UPDATE -- Prague Archbishop to get hearing

I reported earlier on a dispute between the Czech Government and the Archbishop of Prague. The courts have ruled that the battle in the courts can continue. (Article)

The cathedral, which was seized in 1954 by the Communist government of what was then Czechoslovakia, is located in a castle traditionally controlled by Czech kings, and now by the nation's government. For the past 15 years, since the fall of the Communist regime, the administrators of the Prague castle have been battling with the Catholic archdiocese for control of the building.

In April, a court order required the cathedral chapter of the Prague archdiocese to surrender control of the 14th-century building. Cardinal Vlk is challenging that ruling. The latest court ruling affirms that because the cathedral chapter serves the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Vlk has legal standing to continue the court fight.

What does the government want with a cathedral, anyways? I can understand that all of the seized properties might not return to the Church, which is sad, but is life. Why, though, wouldn't the Cathedral church be returned, at least as an act of goodwill. Must be Europe.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Democrats Angry with the Pope

Big surprise, but Democrats in America are upset with the recent comments made by Pope Benedict about politicians who support abortion. (Article) (Another)
Eighteen Democratic members of the US House of Representatives have joined in criticizing Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) for his statement that pro-abortion politicians should not receive Communion.

During a conversation with reporters on May 9, as he was flying to Brazil, the Holy Father had said that he fully supported the decision of some Mexican bishops to bar politicians from receiving the Eucharist after the lawmakers voted to legalize abortion in Mexico City. The Mexican bishops, the Pope said, had "simply announced to the public what is stipulated by the law of the Church."

The Bishops of the United States have not had the backbone to say this, although this is really the policy of the Church. This is probably getting some of these abortion supporting "Catholic" politicians a little nervous. I think some of the more moderate Catholics would think twice about voting for a formally excommunicated politician, maybe I'm wrong.

But the Democratic legislators, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, charged that the Pope's stand (and by implication the laws of the Church) "offend the very nature of the American experiment."

A move to exclude pro-abortion legislators from receiving Communion would be "a great disservice to the centuries of good work the Church has done," the 18 Congressmen argued.

So, formally excommunicating those who, "by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defence from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms." (SC 83)

A great disservice? How about a great disservice to the Truth?
Advancing respect for life and for the dignity of every human being is, as our church has taught us, our own life’s mission. As we said in our Statement of Principles, ‘We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion – we do not celebrate its practice. Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term.’ That is precisely what some of us are doing with our initiative ‘The Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act’ – which includes policies that promote alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, improve access to children’s healthcare and child care, as well as encourage paternal and maternal responsibility.
Huh? I'm glad they at least mentioned adoption, but I don't understand why that's not the primary option considered. If they indeed "agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life..." they could never support abortion. And, what's all this about being committed to stopping unwanted pregnancies? Think they do that by telling people to not have sex? I'm sure not, I'm sure it's contraception.

You can read the whole statement, if you'd like, but I'm sure you'll be as disappointed as I am.


Los Angeles Strapped for Cash

Cardinal Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced that in order to setter the sexual abuse cases in his Diocese, a number of "nonessential Church properties", as well as the headquarters will have to be sold.

The cardinal promised that “no parishes or parish schools will be closed to fund these settlements, nor will their essential ministries be affected by the sales.” The properties under consideration are not being used by parishes. Still, Mahony said, the archdiocese would prefer to retain the properties it is considering to sell.”

In December, the archdiocese settled 46 clergy abuse civil cases for a total of $60 million, of which the archdiocese contributed $40 million, said Mahony in his statement. When the settlement was made he noted that “a settlement in those cases will require the active participation of the many insurance companies who provided liability insurance during those past years when the abuse occurred.” Attorneys, judges, and Church leaders are still negotiating these settlements.

I would never have guessed the Church was bleeding money so bad. I think it is always a shame when the Church either sells or loses property. I don't know a lot about this abuse scandal, but I wonder if it boils down to trying to profit off the Church. Looks like it is working.


Chinese to invite Pope for a visit

Catholic World News is reporting that Pope Benedict has been invited to take a trip to China. (Article)

The Adnkronos agency, citing sources at the Vatican, reports that the Pope has received an invitation from the organizers an art exhibition scheduled to take place in Beijing.

The Vatican has not offered any official comment on the report.

The prospects for a papal trip to China in the near future appear remote. Before considering a visit by the Pope, the Vatican would undoubtedly want to secure the fundamental rights of the Church in China.

During the past year, the Holy See and the Beijing regime have clashed repeatedly over the efforts of the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association to assert control over the Catholic Church in China. In light of those disputes it seems highly unlikely that the government would approve an invitation to the Pope, or that the Pope would accept such an invitation.
When I first saw this article, I was very much in disbelief. The Pope going to China? After all that has recently happened? This must be some art exhibit, if it warrants a pastoral visit from the German Shepherd himself. China has lots of problems regarding religion and religious rights (not to mention human rights), and so therefore there's no way our Pope would be going there any time soon. That's not even bringing up the security issues. How could we be assured that the Chinese government wouldn't take him prisoner or something?


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pope gives interview on plane

As the Pope is making his way to Brazil, he spent 25 minutes answering questions on the airplane with reporters, CNS reports.
In remarks about the recent legalization of abortion in Mexico, the pope appeared to support Mexican church leaders who held out the possibility of excommunication for Catholic legislators who voted for the legislation.

Asked whether he agreed with the excommunication penalty, the pope answered: "Yes, these excommunications were not something arbitrary, but are foreseen by the Code (of Canon Law). It is simply part of church law that the killing of an innocent baby is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ," he said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters that the pope was not announcing a new policy on Catholic politicians. He also noted that the Mexican bishops had not announced the excommunication of anyone.

"And if the bishops haven't excommunicated anyone, it's not that the pope wants to do so," Father Lombardi said.

He said the pope was only reiterating the teaching that Catholic legislators who promote initiatives like the legalization of abortion exclude themselves from the conditions needed to participate fully in the Eucharist.
I recalled reading a while back when the Mexican Bishops' spokesman said "any baptized assembly members will automatically be excommunicated and therefore be excluded from the Catholic Church," and thinking "too bad it's not true". The canon law in question is generally interpreted to only include those who actually procure or commit abortion. The Pope seems to be opening the way to change that interpretation, or at the very least, he is supporting the Mexican Bishops.

Wouldn't it be fun to be able to be part of one of these press conferences?


STOQing up

The Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest (STOQ) recently has announced they will be publishing their first four volumes on the integrations of science and theology, Zenit reports.
"These publications overcome one of the most common and deeply rooted stereotypes about the Church in today's mentality, which says the Church has a lack of interest in science, and is even averse to science," the cardinal said.

Two of the volumes each had a single author: "Some Mathematical Physics for Philosophers," by Michael Heller, which offers a panoramic view of the mathematical methods used in physics; and "Life and Organisms," by Pietro Ramellini, a collection of historical-critical definitions of living organisms recorded in the last two centuries, since biology became a science.
I totally want to read these books, especially the physics one. This has long been an interest of mine. I bet these won't be available on the internet any time soon, though. No matter, I'm sure a library will have them, or something.