23 September 2014

The Trouble Facing Traditional Catholicism

Sub Tuum.

Traditionalist Catholics correctly note problems with the Novus Ordo. They continue to be discouraged by the liberal, modernist culture and organization of the Roman Communion prompted by changes made after the Second Vatican Council. They correctly note the downward spiral. There are two major problems with the traditionalist movement, however;

(1) many use tradition as an excuse to reject Papal authority completely. Even those who were granted autonomy were not given that status to invent their own doctrine or to ignore the Holy Father. He is, in fact and in Canon law, the spiritual head of the universal church.

(2) traditionalists cannot agree on what is wrong and what they are against to the point of undermining their strength by in-fighting. Paul VI was correct when he said that " the smoke of Satan had entered the Church". Those who hold to the traditions of the Catholic Church stand against the influences of the Devil. Yet, rather than come together in unity of purpose, many traditionalists would rather continue their trend of finger-pointing at their fellow traditionalists, complaining about this or that. Egotism anoints itself; arrogance abounds. The result is a house divided that can not longer stand.

13 August 2014

Thomas Aquinas and Torture, both then and now

Sub Tuum.

This is a good article (click here) dealing with torture in the modern context and in prior use by both secular and Church authorities. Whether or not one laments the use of torture in the medieval and Renaissance periods, there is a clear difference between that and the hidden, secretive nature of torture today. Done under a veil of official denial, torturers in the government operate virtually unfettered. The primary reason for the use of torture, particularly in the modern era, is not in reality the gathering of accurate intelligence, but rather revenge stemming from an underlying sadism. In short, those who torture enjoy seeing others suffer.

Robin Williams

Some have chosen to recall Robin Williams as a left-winger. What difference does that make now? Some have blamed his suicide on all kinds of off-the-wall things with the purpose of trading on his unfortunate death to advance some sort of agenda. Others have chosen to hound and harass his family. For me, I will remember him in Dead Poet's Society (my favorite of his movies), Patch Adams, Mrs. Doubtfire, and all the others that made me and millions laugh. I will pray for the repose of his soul.

22 July 2014

Call to Action - Help the Christians of the Middle East

Sub Tuum.

Translation of the Arabic:
"In Solidarity with the
Christian people of Iraq.
To the Faithful in Christ:

Christians are being murdered, tortured, raped, beaten, and otherwise persecuted in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East, yet the West is silent! What I have heard from most religious leaders in their public statements, including my brother bishops, is to pray for the victims. This is something we should do, certainly. The power of the mass and the rosary must never be underestimated. Yet, when someone is sick, we do not say to pray for them and do nothing else. We call a doctor. We have a surgeon cut out the cancer. Therefore I say pray for the Christians in the middle east, but I also say to put that prayer into action!  The governments of the west have the military force to intervene. They must use it, or else the blood of these Christian martyrs is on their hands!

Faithful in Christ, write to your government leaders and representatives. Urge them not to be silent. Urge them to speak out. Use your voice and theirs to insist that the governments with the power to do something about this sickening abomination take action now! Carry your prayers to the people who can work decisively to end this genocide.

Also, contact those who lead organizations that might be able to bring refugees from Iraq. As we talk about amnesty for those who illegally cross the southern American border in search of better economic conditions, why are we not bringing those who are suffering genocide at the hands of the Muslim infidels?

If you say nothing, the blood of these martyrs is on your hands! If you do not do what is within your power to do, however large or small that act may be, the blood of these martyrs is on your hands!

02 July 2014

Should Catholics Celebrate the Fourth of July?

Sub Tuum. 

Should Catholics celebrate the Fourth of July? This question cycles around this time every year in America. It's a good question, given the checkered history the nation has with Catholicism. It is even more underscored by the the current rise of secularism overall. And, there is even what is effectively a heresy that was termed "Americanism" by Pope Leo XIII.

Nationalism is also something shunned by the faith. Liking where you live and wanting to defend your home is one thing, but carried much beyond that it becomes a situation in which the state becomes more important than the faith and the brotherhood of mankind. Or, you end up with a form of nationalistic Christianity so prevalent in American Protestantism where the church and individual parishes become agents of nationalism. Yet the Church of Christ knows no national boundaries. National flags have no place within the chancel rail by the altar, for that is the altar of God, not the altar of the country. The people on the other side of the border are still our brothers and sisters in Christ not to be looked down upon simply because they are on the other side of the border, either by choice or accident of birth.

This does not mean, however, that one cannot celebrate the Fourth of July. It does mean that it must be celebrated with the appropriate mindset. Being happy with the place you live and work and raise your family, in whose military you may have served, where your ancestors may have been for some time, or where your family may have moved to seek, hopefully, a better life, etc., are all fine things to celebrate. This should all be done with the realization that God knows no national boundaries. It should be done in humility, remembering always that one's first loyalty is to God and His Holy Church.

30 June 2014

The Feast of Saint Peter and Paul 2014

Sub Tuum. 

Today we celebrate the annual Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. In the Patriarchate of St. Stephen this feast is also a celebration of our union with the Eternal See of Rome that we enjoy through Apostolic Succession from Blessed Peter the Apostle and the faithful preservation of the traditions, theology, and doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church. This is indeed a special time. Peter was the Rock upon which Our Lord chose to build His Church. Peter established his See ultimately in Rome, the hub of the western world at the time. It was largely via Roman roads that the faith was spread in the early Church. It was the Roman Emperor Constantine that would bring Christianity into the open and make it easier to spread the Holy Gospel. It was in Rome that Peter, that city's first Bishop, was martyred, crucified upside down. He was buried on the Vatican Hill, where the Basilica in his honor stands today as the First Church in Christendom.

Through the unbroken line of succession from Peter, we are connected not only to Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, but to all his successors, the Popes. Through dedicated and living preservation of those most sacred traditions of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church, and to the doctrine thereof, we ever maintain a union with the Eternal See of Rome.

31 May 2014

The History of the Faith Simplified

Sub Tuum.

The history of the Faith simplified: The mass and the priesthood were instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. This was also the start of Sacred Tradition in the Christian context. The Apostles were consecrated by the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost, initiating the line of succession of bishops. The diaconate was instituted during the Apostolic time (see Acts). The Minor orders were later formalized as the various functions developed. Early Scripture was diverse and traditions were continuing to develop. Different locations often held vastly divergent viewpoints. There was much conflict and debate. Finally Scripture was codified into the Canon as we know it in the 4th century at Nicea. This was done in context of the Sacred Tradition already existing. From this point theology, doctrine, dogma, and tradition developed in a manner also consistent with Scripture. As Canon Law became formalized, it likewise had to be developed in a manner consistent with Scripture and tradition. The liturgy (which, for the mass, goes back to the Last Supper, and for the Offices even extended back into the Jewish period) also developed in a manner consistent with Scripture, Tradition, and, in time, Canon Law. Thus, one could say that Scripture is at the center of the Mass, but the Mass is at the center of Scripture. Without the Mass and what it represents and truly is, Scripture is meaningless. Similarly, one can say that tradition is at the center of the Mass, but the Mass is also at the center of tradition. Scripture, Tradition, Liturgy, and Canon Law must all be consistent with each other. To know the hierarchy of determining this consistency, return to first principles. What is the first principle of the Christian Faith? Christ on the Cross. Derive everything else from there.

27 May 2014

Some sobering statistics

Sub Tuum.

Propaganda is everywhere. As a bishop who is trained in economics, mathematics, and statistics, I often find statistical analysis is a good way of getting at the truth. In this era of rampant modernism, we see Catholics divided into two camps. On the one hand is the numerically-superior Novus Ordo. On the other hand is the category broadly described as traditionalist, as it maintains the age-old traditions of the Catholic Church. The traditionalists may be within the Roman Communion, in which case they are often (but, to be fair, not always) chided and treated with hostility by their Novus Ordo counterparts, despite the statements of Benedict XVI that they should be left in peace. Other traditionalists are not in the Roman Communion. These include the SSPX (founded to preserve the traditional mass), the Duarte Costa line (traditional Catholics originating in Brazil), Old Roman Catholics (who never left the Catholic Church, but have administrative autonomy), and others. These are often called "non-Catholic" or "not Roman Catholic" by the modernist establishment. Yet, if a member of the Novus Ordo calls a traditionalist "non-Catholic," they are really saying that the traditionalist is not like them. That is, they are saying that the traditionalist is not in line with the new definition of Catholicism according to the Novus Ordo. In that sense, traditionalists ought to be proud to be called "non-Catholic" by the Novus Ordo, for indeed they are different. The traditionalists refuse to "get with the times" and refuse to abandon the mass of the ages for something contrived in the 20th century. After all, as the great playwright from Stratford wrote, what's in a name?  The meaning of words can indeed be perverted and changed, but the truth remains constant!

So how can we cut through the propaganda and see the truth more clearly? One need only look at the statistics of the Catholic Church in the United States to see the devastating impact of the abuses following the Second Vatican Council. (Note that I do not say the Council itself, for its provisions were greatly abuses by others to promote a specific agenda.)  Here are some statistical results calculated from data provided by Georgetown University. They pertain only to the USCCB parishes/dioceses except where stated.

From 1965 to 2013, the following occurred within the clergy: 

The total number of priests decreased by 32%. 
The number of diocesan/secular priests decreased  by 26%.
The number of religious priests decreased  by 46%.
The number of priestly ordinations decreased  by 48%. 
The number of major seminarians decreased  by 56%.

The permanent diaconate has been on the rise and is a way that the Novus Ordo has tried to compensate for this massive decline in clerical vocations. 

From 1965 to 2013, the following occurred within the religious communities:

The number of religious brothers decreased by 64%.
The number of religious sisters decreased by 74%.
In 1965, there were almost 180,000 religious sisters in America!

From 1965 to 2013, the following occurred within parishes: 

The percent of population that is Catholic decreased from 23% to 21% according to Catholic sources.
The percent of population that self-identifies as Catholic remained roughly 24%. 
      None of the above details participation in the mass or parish life. A Catholic poll suggests that mass attendance is approximately 24% of Catholics. However, another independent study suggests that this number is overstated. 
The number of parishes per capita decreased by 65%. 
The number of parishes without a full-time priest INCREASED by 547%!
     3554 parishes in the US did not have a full-time priest. 

From 1975 to 2013, the following occurred within Catholic education:

The number of Catholic elementary schools per capita decreased by 54%. 
The number of Catholic secondary schools per capita decreased by 49%.
The number of students in Catholic elementary schools decreased 44%.
The number of students in Catholic secondary schools decreased 33%.

So there it is. The numbers don't look good for the Church in America since the Second Vatican Council. The Church has become increasingly Protestant and influenced by freemasonry, not to mention modernism. There are some bright lights, though, such as the FSSP (which says the traditional Latin mass) and the newly-established Anglican Ordinariate, whose converts tend to be quite strongly on the traditional side. But, those are both in the vast minority. As America goes increasingly secular, I cannot help but believe that the widespread abandonment of that thing that Satan fears greatly, the mass of the ages, the Mass of Pius V, contributed greatly. I cannot help but believe that the great reduction in priestly vocations and a reduction of those in the clerical state overall contributed greatly. The solution is clear. More priests now! But, these priests must be trained in that liturgy that makes demons run and lifts the spirit of the faithful up, joining them with the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross - the Mass of Pius V.

24 May 2014

Freedom of religion and worship

Sub Tuum.

We all have free will. People have a right to choose their own religious beliefs and worship practices - but that does not make all such choices equal or equally valid. Freedom of personal choice in religion and worship must never be perverted into a proclamation of relativism, i.e., "Whatever you choose to believe is right for you and therefore valid and equally beneficial."  Christians must never do this. It is even more vital that the clergy be extremely clear on this point.

While I accept that a person, possessing free will, may choose to reject Christ and be a Buddhist, I do not accept or proclaim that Buddhism is equal in any way to Christianity. Neither will I ever proclaim that Islam or Judaism are correct, even though people may exercise their free will to choose those paths. Furthermore, while I may accept that people are free to choose any flavor of Protestantism, I will never accept that the one true Church of Christ is anything other than the eternal and traditional One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church through a spiritual union and bond that knows not time, space, or the political machinations of mankind. Additionally, while Catholics are free to choose the Novus Ordo liturgy, I will not consider it equal to that liturgy which is consistent with the Mass of Pius V, for Pope Saint Pius V granted a universal and perpetual indult for its use. While the Church Fathers at the time of the Novus Ordo's creation presented cause for grave doubts as the to benefits or even validity of the Novus Ordo, numerous Popes, Saints, and Church Fathers have proclaimed the benefits of the Mass of the Pius V. To do otherwise to what I have stated would be an abrogation of my responsibilities as a cleric, a pastor, and especially a successor to the Apostles.

Neither, it must be pointed out, is validity or correctness a matter of numbers or popularity. As the Venerable Fulton Sheen stated, right is right, even if no one is right, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is wrong. If numbers and popularity were more important than truth, Saint Athanasius ought to be branded a non-Catholic! This holy Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church spent a lot of his life as Patriarch in exile for daring to hold to the truths of the Catholic Faith despite opposition and persecution by the Emperor, the Arian heretics, and even many of the Bishops of the Catholic Church!

How much it seems today that we are in a time similar to that experienced by Athanasius. We must remember his words and proceed forward, knowing that those who keep the traditions of the Catholic Church are part of the true Catholic Church. Those who accept modernist and liberal innovations, no matter their numbers, are not practicing the Catholic Faith. Rather than condemn them, though, let us pray for them and set an example so that, through the grace of God, all may return to the traditions of the Catholic Church and fully embrace the Cross of Christ!

21 May 2014

Yes, Virginia, the Founding Fathers WERE mostly Christians.

Sub Tuum.

Much ongoing debate centers around the notion of America as a Christian nation. Some claim that it is, while others claim that the clear intent was to be purely secular. Let's look at a few simple facts and lay this to rest. First, the clear intent of the new government structure was that there would be no official state-mandated religion, and the State would not and could not interfere with religion. That never meant that religion was to be disenfranchised and have no place in the public sphere. Just look at the common inclusion of prayer at public events, the offices of Chaplain of the House and Senate, and so much more. 

Others claim that the Founding Fathers were not actually Christians. This even on the surface makes no sense, considering that many came to the Colonies, especially to New England, to seek religious freedom. Lambert (2003) found that, of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, two were Roman Catholic, 28 were Church of England/Episcopalian, 8 were Presbyterian, 7 were Congregationalist, 2 were Lutheran, 2 were Dutch Reformed, and 2 were Methodist. That gives 51 Christians out of 55 delegates. Yes, 93% of the delegates who wrote the Constitution of the United States were indeed Christian. That's what we call a clear, overwhelming majority. Furthermore, half of the total delegates (or 55% of the Christians) were Church of England, which was actually the established Church during the Colonial era. 

The bottom line? The Founders created a culture in which the State could not interfere in religion, not not one in which the Church could not influence or participate in the government. 

Validity of Marriage

Sub Tuum. 

Recent comments attributed to Pope Francis, relayed by a member of the Sacred College, appear to suggest that around 50% of all marriages today are not valid. Whatever was or was not said, it is a simple fact of doctrine and Canon Law that all Catholic marriages enjoy the favor of Canon Law and are presumed valid until proven otherwise. (CJC 1983, Can. 1060, et al.)  In fact, the marriages of Protestants who convert that were contracted prior to their conversion are considered valid until proven otherwise. A Protestant convert who is divorced and re-married, for example, must still have that first Protestant marriage annulled for the current marriage to be able to be recognized and to be eligible to receive the Sacraments. Thus, as Christians we ought to presume all marriages as valid until proven otherwise, excepting, of course, those marriages contracted after a civil divorce without ecclesiastical annulment. It is not our individual place to judge the validity of a marriage. 

So who decides the validity of a marriage? First, the validity must be brought into question. Most often this is the result of a married couple receiving a civil divorce and then approaching the Church to petition for an annulment. This is done typically by a Diocesan or Metropolitan Tribunal, acting under the Apostolic authority of the Bishop Ordinary or Metropolitan Archbishop respectively. In brief, the judges weigh the evidence. Witnesses may be called, and the party who did not petition for the annulment may certainly speak in favor/defense of the bond of matrimony. The tribunal investigates the conditions at the time the marriage was contracted. Thus if both parties gave valid consent, "falling out of love" later in the marriage or even marital infidelity is not sufficient grounds for an annulment. (The legal scenarios pertaining to marriage can get quite complex, so this is not intended to be an exhaustive discourse of the tribunal process).  If the tribunal finds that the marriage was indeed invalid, then a Decree of Nullity is issued, rendering the sacrament null and void. If, however, the tribunal upholds the bond, the two persons are still married in the eyes of God and His Holy Church. 

Does this all apply for Old Roman Catholics? Absolutely. Some jurisdictions have sadly abandoned this essential part of Catholic doctrine, but then this is not much different than the broad heresies plaguing the Catholic Church as a whole. True Old Roman Catholicism, which is and has always been a part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, maintains and must maintain the sanctity of marriage. One cannot grant a dispensation that negates the needs for an annulment. To do so would be to give direct material cooperation to grave sin; and even worse is that it is done by a cleric charged with the safeguarding of souls! 

A few other common misconceptions:  

1. An annulment is NOT "Catholic divorce."  No earthly power may dissolve a valid marriage; not even a Pope.

2. It is FALSE to say that divorced persons, even those who re-marry without an annulment, may not participate in the life of the Church. However, they may not receive the Sacraments, excepting the Viaticum.

3. Persons who divorce, receive an annulment, and then re-marry are NOT "divorced and remarried." The first Sacrament was null and void.

So, it is not fair to state prima fascie that 50% of marriages are invalid. For the faithful, for example, even to suspect that would be to go against Canon Law and the moral theology behind that Canon Law. All marriages (again, excepting those where it is clear that there was a divorce and re-marriage without annulment) must be presumed by the clergy and faithful until they are properly challenged and found sacramentally and legally null and void by a competent ecclesiastical tribunal. 

19 May 2014

The Influence of Freemasonry and Related Theological Issues of Concern with the Novus Ordo Mass

Sub Tuum. 

Nota bene: This article first appeared in Telicom: The Journal of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry. 

Pope Saint Pius V, who codified
the Catholic mass.

     The 1970s saw much change in Catholic liturgy and culture. The new ways were called the Novus Ordo (New Order), which followed in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Neither doctrinal changes nor the changes to tradition that would occur, however, were intended by the council. It was intended to be a pastoral council that would, in the words of the Pope who called the Council, “throw open the windows of the Church and let in the fresh air of renewal.” It was dialogue with the modern world that the Holy Father wanted, not a rebuilding of the Church in the image of the modern world. Yet many ecclesiastical liberals and modernists took the former to imply or even outright demand the latter. What the modern Roman Communion has been left with is not a renewed Church, but indeed a new Church completely unrecognizable to its former self as predicted by the very Cardinals in Rome who were appointed to study the impact of this new liturgy and structure. Yet these changes have become the new status quo, and the so-called “old ways” were largely banned. For many devout Catholics, though, this has become a crisis of faith. Unity within the Church has been severely tested. 

     In the fourth apparition of Our Lady on 21 January 1610 to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres, the Blessed Virgin warned that Satan would reign through Masonic sects and destroy unity within the Holy Church.[1] The revelation made plain the infiltration by Satan through Freemasonry into all levels of society, destroying the Sacrament of Matrimony, which represents the bond between Christ and His Church, and entering “the beautiful, flourishing vineyard of the Church, leaving it destroyed and in complete ruin.”[2] Moving forward to the early twentieth-century, a direct persecution of the Church by the Masonic forces leading Mexico was seen. In 1927, Fr. Francisco Vera was executed by firing squad, still wearing his mass vestments, for celebrating the Holy Mass.[3] This was most definitely not the first instance of direct persecution of the Catholic Faith, and it has certainly not been the last. The increased secularization of American and world society follows the revelation of Our Lady. It is the revelation of infiltration that is the most troublesome.

     As many conspiracy theories abound about the Freemasons as exist about the Church herself, spawning books and movies of often highly questionable veracity. It is all too easy to dismiss the notion of infiltration of the Church by diabolical sects as just another nonsensical conspiracy theory. Yet, we recall the revealed words of the Blessed Virgin. We see the truth behind what was revealed to Mother Mariana almost four hundred years ago in history and in society today. The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony has been attacked at least for the last fifty years. Today we are witnessing strong efforts in society to redefine marriage, with the goal being to force all people to accept this new definition, which includes same-sex unions. As Our Lady proclaimed, if the Sacrament of Matrimony is destroyed, then the people have destroyed the very symbol of the bond between Christ and His Church.

     Now, Christ promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. There shall, then, always remain a true Church. It is useful to recall the words of Saint Athanasius, who admonished his flock that those who keep the traditions of the Catholic Church, even if reduced to a handful, are the true Catholic Church. Thus, an infiltration by diabolical sects will not destroy the Church, but can nevertheless create harmful factions. There may be those who follow the true Church and those who follow Satan. This is a destruction of unity of which Our Lady spoke in the apparition to Mother Mariana, for if some in the Church worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, while others worship Satan, even unknowingly, there cannot be complete unity. The wolves in sheep’s clothing enter into the vineyard that has for so long been flourishing and destroy it and, in the process, take the souls of many with them. What was beautiful becomes laid to waste.

     Can it be said that this the work of the Freemasons? The trouble with uncovering the truth lies in the secrecy of the Freemason organization. It is well-known that there are Freemasons within the hierarchy of the Church, for the Masonic organization itself has proclaimed it. There are many further suspicions. There are those who have been discovered, but there are many more who have not been discovered. As one example, Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, one of the creators of the Novus Ordo mass, was strongly believed to be a Mason. These allegations prompted him to be removed from the Roman Curia and sent to a remote diplomatic outpost.

     There are sound reasons that Catholics may not be Freemasons! A Catholic who becomes a Freemason is automatically excommunicated. Indeed, truly secret societies are forbidden by the Church. In the case of Freemasonry, the prohibition also exists because it is a sect that so resembles a religion that it cannot be taken to be anything other than a religion. As our Lord said, no man may serve two masters. Therefore one can be a Freemason or a Catholic, but not both. The allegation of involvement of Freemasons in the creation of the Novus Ordo mass following the Second Vatican Council, and the commission led by Cardinal Gagnon in the 1970s to investigate infiltration of the Roman Curia by enemies of the Church, including Freemasons, is enough to cause grave concern as to the benefit of the Novus Ordo sacraments, or even its very validity and the harm it may be doing to the souls of the clergy and faithful. This has prompted debate, disunity, and crisis for decades.

     The Second Vatican Council was called by Pope John XXIII to breathe new life into the Church. It was intended to be a pastoral council, not a doctrinal council. Yet during the pontificate of Paul VI, sweeping changes were made. Modernist Bishops took advantage of the freedom given by the Council and rode roughshod over the traditions of the Holy Church. What was to come out of their efforts was, to many, something that barely resembled Catholicism, if at all.

     Until the Novus Ordo mass, the liturgical standard for the Roman Rite was the Tridentine mass, often called the Mass of Saint Pius V or the Mass of the Ages. Today it is also often called the “traditional mass” or the “Latin mass,” though in the latter case care should be taken to differentiate the Tridentine mass, which is in the Latin language, from the Novus Ordo mass celebrated in Latin. The Tridentine mass was the natural evolution of liturgy beginning in the very earliest days of the Christian Church. It was compiled and codified by Pope Pius V, a Saint and an Incorruptible.[4] The Novus Ordo mass, on the other hand, represents a massive change in both form and theology invented under Protestant influence and likely Masonic influence. Even Msgr. Bugnini, who was a co-author of the new mass, admitted that it was no mere cosmetic change, but a new creation. What could possibly have justified this transformation of the liturgy into something less than a total profession of the Catholic Faith?

     Let us turn to the words of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci in A Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Mass, which was a report given to Pope Paul VI on the impact of the new mass.[5] First, it is clear that the new mass (the Novus Ordo) leads us to think "that truths ... can be changed or ignored without infidelity to that sacred deposit of doctrine to which the Catholic Faith is bound forever."[6] So here it is seen that the new mass opens the door to the notion of relativism in all things, including the most sacred of beliefs. The theological principle of lex orandi, lex credendi makes it clear that as we pray, so we believe. Thus as we pray the mass, so we believe. The Holy Mass, then, is of the utmost importance in safeguarding, upholding, and perpetuating the sacred doctrine and dogma of the Catholic Faith. In the new mass, "all that is of perennial value finds only a minor place, if it subsists at all."[7] While so-called pastoral reasons were cited as justification, in fact “the pastoral reasons adduced to support such a grave break with tradition ... do not seem to us sufficient."[8] One must bear in mind that the Tridentine mass has been the sustenance of many saints. Even Pope Paul VI admitted that "innumerable saints have been fed abundantly with the proper piety towards God by it..."[9]

     The new mass is essentially protestant in form and nature. Not only were a number of protestant ministers involved in the authoring of the new mass, protestant principles were directly injected into this new liturgy. In the new mass, the real presence and mystical presence of Christ are confused. Further confusion is added when the new mass entertains the heretical and Protestant notion that it is the faith of the people present rather than the actions and words of the priest that make Christ present in the Eucharist. Indeed, the notion of a hierarchical priesthood is replaced with a sense of a common priesthood of the people, i.e., there is confusion created between the sacramental and ministerial priesthood and the separate and distinct priesthood of all believers. These two Lutheran concepts are thus embraced by the addition of the Lutheran “Prayer of the Faithful” and the removal of the separate priest’s Confiteor. The Offertory, a sacred and intricate rite within the traditional liturgy, has been done away with in the new mass, which instead has a highly simplified “preparation of the gifts.” These are but a few of the drastic changes that are not mere stylistic changes, but directly assert a change in fundamental theology. The result has been a removal of the belief in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass held so strongly and so dear, replacing it with a far more protestant notion of worship. Even protestants recognized this, proclaiming that the new Eucharistic prayers removed the idea of sacrifice.

     The non-Catholic nature of this new liturgy led to a crisis of conscience for many of the clergy and faithful. One Franciscan priest stated that it was his greatest test of obedience to abandon the Tridentine mass for the Novus Ordo. This underscores the terrible dilemma facing many priests both then and now. Should they obey and celebrate the new mass, or should they remain faithful and obedient to the universal Church of the ages? This discord caused great disunity that persists to this day. Heresy or that which supports heresy does not warrant obedience. In fact, what promotes heresy must be opposed out of obedience to God and the universal Church. Some Catholics ended up separate from the administrative structure of the Roman Communion over these very issues, such as the Society of Saint Pius X and the Society of Saint Pius V.

     Yet, despite the problems, the Novus Ordo remains the most widely-celebrated liturgy within the Roman Rite today. The Tridentine mass has been banned in some locations, even in defiance of the universal indult (permission) to celebrate the Tridentine mass granted by Benedict XVI. Even Paul VI, the Pope under whose pontificate the Novus Ordo mass was developed, stated that it was not his intention that the Tridentine mass be banned. Yet that is precisely what happens, either explicitly or through pressure, in so many locations. Those who keep to the venerable traditions of the Church are often treated as “second-class citizens” within their dioceses. Some converts are left wondering why they converted when they see the protestant-style worship. Gone in the new mass is the horizontal worship between man and God. It has been replaced with horizontal worship between men. Truly the new mass is the mass of the people. The Tridentine mass is the mass of our Lord Jesus Christ, given universal indult for all time by Pope Saint Pius V.[10]

     Consider the many young people in the Church today who proudly profess that the new mass is far superior and have no interest in the Tridentine mass, which they consider irrelevant and outdated. There are still many youth and young adults who are drawn through the grace of God and the gift of faith to the beauty and truth of the Tridentine mass, but they are small in comparison to the rest. Also observe the vast decline in morality among the youth of the world. Even at Catholic schools, age-inappropriate and even outright vulgar attire is now often permitted or at least tolerated. Now consider the words of Our Lady in the apparition to Mother Mariana in which she said that Satan through Freemasonry would corrupt the minds of the youth. Now consider further the credible involvement of Freemasons in the authoring of the Novus Ordo liturgy. Not only were Protestant ministers involved, but Freemasons. How many were involved we will likely never know due to the secret nature of the organization.

     The end result is that the Church is left with a new rite conveying a new theology. This stems from abuses following in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, which John XXIII clearly never intended as anything more than a pastoral council. While claiming to be in accordance with the Second Vatican Council, the new mass really opposes the Council and its clear desire to preserve the traditional rite. Furthermore, the changes to the liturgy cannot simply be justified by the excuse of “pastoral reasons.” Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci specifically stated that it is reasonable to doubt that priests who use the Novus Ordo mass actually consecrate the Sacrament validly. That is a very poignant statement indeed; one can hardly be dismissed as being a matter of personality or politics.

     The lasting effects of the new mass, invented in part by Protestants and Freemasons, is a revolution to create a new church. The Archbishop of Birmingham, Msgr. Dwyer, openly proclaimed that liturgical form is where revolution begins. The beauty of the ages has been replaced with novelties to entertain the people, all in the name of keeping with the times. Remember the words of Our Lady: “the beautiful, flourishing vineyard of the Church, [left] destroyed and in complete ruin.”

[1] Fr. Manuel Sousa Pereira. The Admirable Life of Mother Mariana. 1790.
[2] Ibid. In an apparition regarding the Feast of Corpus Christi.
[3] Rutherford Card. Johnson. Daring to be Christian. 2012.
[4] Incorruptibles are Saints whose bodies, without embalming, were preserved, in whole or in part from the effects of decomposition. It is considered a particular sign of spiritual grace. The incorrupt remains of Pope Saint Pius V lie in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome.
[5] 62 Theses Demonstrating Why The Preservation and Practice of the Traditional Latin Mass is Superior in Every Way to the Novus Ordo Missae. Edited by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Keith Patrick Steinhurst v.u.z. Westphalia.
[6] Idem.
[7] Idem.
[8] Idem.
[9] Pope Paul VI. Const. Apost. Missale Romanum.
[10] In the Papal bull Quo Primum, Pope Saint Pius V granted universal permission everywhere and for all time to celebrate the traditional rite of the Church, i.e., the Tridentine mass.

14 May 2014

Cor Sedis Nostrae

Sub Tuum.

On the Nature, Purpose, and Duty of the See of Saint Stephen

The heart of Our See is the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Faith, united in the Sacred Traditions of the Faith for the sake of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the eternal See of Saint Peter in Rome. The heritage of Our See is through the English Church, which has her roots in the Church of Rome; we continue the historic Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church in England prior to the Protestant Reformation and Revolution. Our See was restored to the fullness of the Catholic Faith, with a mandate of mission, service, and charity, following the example of our glorious Patron, Saint Stephen the Deacon and Protomartyr. Through this mandate, we help to maintain the patrimony and heritage of the Holy Roman Empire. In so doing, we promote and proclaim the notion that the people of God should be united and governed according to the laws of God. Through our Anglican heritage and our temporal patrimony, we both help to preserve the unique English heritage of central Italy and the Catholic heritage and patrimony of portions of the Americas under the Holy Roman Empire. All this flows from the altar of God, without which all would be for nothing. We proceed forward to carry out our mandate as faithful traditional Roman Catholics, bearing the Blessed Sacrament before us with joy, humility, and thanksgiving.

On Ultrajectine Catholicism 

Our Holy Orders stem from the See of Utrecht, which was, during the time of the Holy Roman Empire, given special autonomy by Rome. This autonomy was continuously re-affirmed by Rome and Church Councils. Then, as the subsequent “Old Catholic” movement began, largely in Utrecht, in opposition to the First Vatican Council and Papal Infallibility, it became necessary for the English Archbishop Arnold Harold Mathew to separate fromhis parent See of Utrecht and preserve that traditional Roman Catholicism so long practiced by the Ultrajectine See.
With Mathew was not found the first usage of the term “Old Roman Catholic.” When previous disputes between Utrecht and Rome arose over illegitimate, unfounded, and never-proven charges of heresy made against the Archbishop of Utrecht, and a new diocese was erected there by the Roman Communion, those of the old Ultrajectine See referred to themselves as “Roman Catholics of the Old Episcopal Order.” 
It cannot be stressed enough that Old Roman Catholicism never left the Catholic Church. The political disputes that occurred over the years are most unfortunate and a mere product of the fallen state of all mankind. Furthermore, true Old Roman Catholicism has nothing to do with the schismatic nature of the aforementioned “Old Catholic” movement that gained a foothold in Utrecht and continues to reign there to this day.
The numerous schisms among Old Roman Catholics and Old Catholics over numerous issues are lamentable. It is clear in some cases that newly-erected jurisdictions were created for reasons contrary to the Holy Gospel. This situation has resulted in great actual disunity in addition to an outward appearance of disunity, disharmony, and lack of purpose and legitimacy. Such has been exploited by modernist and liberal Catholics, secularists, and others to harm this authentic expression of Roman Catholicism. 

The See of Saint Stephen descends from the Ultrajectine See, via the line of Mathew. It is for this reason that we refer to our Patriarchate as an Old Roman Catholic Patriarchate. Indeed, We enjoy the privilege of autonomy through both Leonine Privilege and other privileges granted in the name of the Holy See. Furthermore, in addition to various Eastern and Orthodox lines, We possess the lines of Bishop Duarte-Costa in Brazil. We, therefore seek to preserve true and authentic Roman Catholicism with the Anglican patrimony that fell in part to us to preserve. 

This true Roman Catholicism is indeed “old” in that it was founded approximately two thousand years ago by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As much of the world turns from the unquestionably-authentic Catholic Faith, true Roman Catholicism is in fact becoming increasingly “old” by the day. Yet, true Roman Catholicism is not old in the sense of something that has seen its prime long ago and has faded into irrelevance. The Church of Christ knows neither time nor space. The Eternal Church and Eternal Rome, her primary See on earth, are a single continuum. The authentic liturgy is alive. It is not something fit only for a museum of Church history. It is here and there, all around us, ready to be experienced. Just as Our Lord lives, so too does the authentic liturgy of His Holy Church!

On the Novus Ordo 

It is beyond the scope of Our authority and the authority of the collective body of prelates and clergy within Our Particular Church to determine absolutely the issue of the validity of the Novus Ordo of the Roman Rite. Because of the reasonable grave doubt that We have pertaining to its authenticity as Catholic liturgy and indeed of its very validity, We do not permit its celebration within the See of Saint Stephen or any subordinate jurisdiction thereof. This grave doubt was shared by those Cardinals in Rome tasked with investigating the effects of the Novus Ordo mass and who gave their report to Pope Paul VI. 

We further discourage all within said Patriarchal See and subordinate jurisdictions from participating in Novus Ordo sacraments presented and provided by other Particular Churches. 

Notwithstanding the other aforementioned issues overall, the patrimony of Our Particular Church is such that the Novus Ordo further bears no relevance. Appearing to be an innovation of the late twentieth century with heavy influence of Protestantism and Freemasonry, there is little if anything about it that has any relation whatsoever to that which We have been entrusted to maintain. The traditional liturgy of the Roman Catholic Faith and the Anglican patrimony is that which we are bound to maintain. 

We are most sympathetic to those who must face the choice of attending a Novus Ordo mass or the traditional Mass of the Ages. Such is not an easy choice, but it is ultimately a simple choice. While we cannot be sure about the Novus Ordo mass, we have no doubts about those masses that follow the timeless principles of the Tridentine liturgical tradition. 

We in the Stephenian Patriarchate continue, firm in Faith, to preserve the traditional liturgy and Sacraments of the Church. We do this without regard to numbers, for we recall the words of Saint Athanasius, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church, that those Catholics, even if reduced to a handful, who maintain the traditions of the Catholic Church are the true Catholic Church. We do not presume to state that we and only we are the true Catholic Church, but firmly maintain that we are indeed a part of it. We must and will maintain that sacred liturgy and deposit of the Faith that is our solemn duty to maintain. It is not Our mere opinion or Our mere desire, but rather the words of Saints that have proclaimed the traditional liturgy. Rather, it is Our steadfast desire to subordinate Our will to that of God and humbly follow what has been codified and promulgated by Saints. 

We commend those other jurisdictions, communities, and Particular Churches that maintain the traditional liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. Our prayers are extended to those who carry out this liturgy even amidst hostility from the liberals and modernists of the Church.

On the See of Saint Peter 

There are certainly many who, in the wake of the abuses following the Second Vatican Council, maintain that the See of Saint Peter is vacant since Pius XII. While We are sympathetic to those who hold this position, it is Our official position, which we are bound by the laws of Our office to maintain, that the See of Saint Peter is not vacant. We acknowledge that the Supreme Pontiff is, as a man, capable of committing heresy. We further acknowledge that there are mechanisms that exist to remove a Pope from office and do not presume take this decision upon Ourselves. We also acknowledge that a Pope, as a man, may sin and be forgiven of those sins through the same sacraments by which we may all obtain absolution from Almighty God. 

We reaffirm our belief in the Dogma of Papal Infallibility and acknowledge that it has been used only twice, both instances being used to define specific dogmae of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. (And it is further noted that, while the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was defined by Pius IX prior to the formal definition of the dogma of Papal Infallibility, it was, nevertheless, defined in a manner consistent with the prevailing beliefs of Infallibility that would eventually be formally defined by Pius IX himself.) 

We acknowledge the Bishop of Rome by his common reference title of Pope, and as the Supreme Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ, and all his other titles. Our privilege of administrative independence does not deny or diminish our loyalty to the Eternal See of Peter, which is above and more than any one individual who may currently occupy the Chair. We, therefore, display the portrait of the reigning Supreme Pontiff within Our See and remember the reigning Pontiff at mass as a reminder of Eternal Rome. 

With regard to the recent canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II, we note that the Church does not “make” Saints, but merely recognizes those whom she reasonably believes indeed to meet the requirements for Sainthood. It is further beyond the scope of Our authority to rule on matters of Sainthood within the universal Church. Therefore, within Our See, We permit the veneration of both John XXIII and John Paul II. However, as neither is included within the liturgical calendar, said veneration is clearly an option, and therefore the issue of their canonization is entirely moot. 

We as Patriarch and all our successors take an oath of loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff. This we do in the sense of Eternal Rome. This very same oath charges us to carry out the duties we have been given. These duties are well outlined for Our office. These duties include vigilance against modernism, liberalism, and other heresy, and thus we cannot succumb to modernism, liberalism, and other heresy without violating that same oath that We took on Our knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, the very living Body of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

On the Roman Communion 

The Roman Communion is that body of Particular Churches under the direct administrative authority and control of the Bishop of Rome. This is regularly known as the Roman Catholic Church, and while we are content in general to assent to this vernacular terminology, with Our See being known as Old Roman Catholic or Anglican Rite Roman Catholic, We nevertheless remind all that We never left the Roman Catholic Church and remain faithful Roman Catholics. We simply are not administratively affiliated with the Roman Communion. 

We ever seek to maintain positive relations with the jurisdictions of the Roman Communion, including those that maintain the Novus Ordo. Any such disputes should not result in a loss of desire for eventual unity when such unity becomes legitimately possible, i.e., when all may once again be united under the banner of Christ and in the Blessed Sacrament through liturgy consistent with the traditions of the Church. In all cases We seek and promote charity and brotherhood with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

On the Doctrine of the Faith
It is not for Our Patriarchate or any jurisdiction that enjoys legitimate autonomy of government to determine the Doctrine of the Faith. Rather, we are bound to follow the traditional Doctrine of the Faith and not impart our own ideas or innovations. Autonomy of government is never an excuse or license for modification of doctrine. As it is Our solemn duty to maintain the traditional liturgy of the Church, so too it is Our solemn duty to maintain the traditional Doctrine of the Faith upon which the liturgy is founded. 

19 April 2014

Why Good Friday should be a holiday

Sub Tuum

Good Friday used to be a day off. In some places, it still is. Some business still close for Good Friday. For the most part, though, America has moved to a paradigm in which it is just business as usual on that day. However, Christmas is a national holiday. Labor is celebrated with a day off. The troops are remembered on Memorial Day. Presidents of the Republic are remembered on President's Day. The day of the Republic's declaration of independence is even celebrated. Even one Sunday is given over to football mania...Super Bowl Sunday. Yet, the day of the Passion and Death of Our Lord is glossed over. Non sequitur. 

I am tempted to say that this is mostly because American society has essentially dropped the idea of sacrifice and instead wants to focus only on the happy. The scores of self-help pseudo-churches and even much of the mainstream Protestant movement certainly testify to this. Yet, America celebrates the sacrifice of soldiers on Memorial Day. Then again, on Memorial Day I see more backyard barbecue than mourning of the military dead and celebration of their glorious achievements. 

I see scores of Easter bunnies, so American society still cares about Easter on one level or another. I have nothing at all against Easter bunnies. To me they are a fine symbol of renewal and rebirth in Christ and the promises of the Resurrection. However, there would be no Easter (and hence no Easter bunnies) without the Passion. There is no Easter without Good Friday! There are nation days of mourning declared for many people, and even foreign persons who were considered terrorists. Why not Our Lord, who truly came to save all mankind? Yes, Good Friday needs to be restored to its proper place as a day off. 

Essential services, at least some restaurants, and other such things helpful to keep the infrastructure functioning are certainly fine. Otherwise, businesses need to be closed out of respect. They need to be closed to allow their employees the ability to attend the liturgy and devotions of the day according to the Church's calendar and schedule. If they do not close, then employees ought to be let off to attend liturgy without penalty. It is not sufficient to tell employees that they can attend "evening services." Traditionally, Good Friday liturgy is in the morning or, with the 1955 alternatives, in the afternoon. It is not in the evening. The evening is for Tenebrae of Holy Saturday. It is simply unfair and not right that a business would tell an employee that they must conform their religious practices to the desires and whims of the business. Religion is above commerce. 

Also, imagine a workplace filled with workers who have just lost a loved one. They are not the most productive workers. How, then, can anyone think that the faithful in Christ would be the most productive people on Good Friday? Their hearts and mind are rightly turned towards the Cross! They ought to have the simple freedom, without penalty, to participate in the liturgy. It is a basic human right. 

16 April 2014

As we approach the Sacred Triduum....

Sub Tuum.

Today is Spy Wednesday, the day before Maundy or Holy Thursday. This is the day that the conspiracy against our Lord reached its final stages of planning. From within His own closest circle, he was betrayed by a traitor. From without, the powers of the Sanhedrin marshaled to seek His doom. We have long called this day Spy Wednesday because it was the day that Judas accepted the thirty pieces of silver. What a wonderfully accurate foreshadowing of what was to come in the Church this proved to be! Today in the world, the Christian Church is buffeted from without by numerous enemies who have encompassed to seek her destruction. Recall the reminder of Pius XII that this is why we are the Church Militant. Also from the inside we have plenty who are not workers in the vineyard of our Lord, but who work for the destruction of the Church, the Holy Bride of Christ. These are the modernists who seek to destroy the traditions of the Church that are vital to her mission. These are the liberals who seek to destroy the very doctrine of the Faith. These are the clergy who bicker senselessly and bear false witness against their brethren and refuse them hospitality and charity. These are no better than the traitor who betrayed our Lord. As Paul VI said, the smoke of Satan has entered into the Church!

In this period I am ever reminded of the words of Saint Athanasius, whose words as a Doctor of the Church are second only to Scripture. Those who keep the traditions of the Church, even if reduced to a handful, are the true Catholic Church. A small group of devout Catholics has more positive impact on the world than the largest cathedral in the world filled to the brim with modernist liberals professing a doctrine that cannot be called Catholic. Far more faithful were those who stayed at the Cross with Christ and tended to His body than the masses who turned their backs and dispersed as the earth shook. 

The Devil will tempt people of faith in hopes of weakening the Church from within. The Devil will tempt the clergy even more so, for to destroy the shepherd is to destroy the flock. There is one Lord and one Faith. The Faith of our Lord is contained in Scripture and the doctrine derived therefrom. It is Sacred Tradition that is both the framework in which Scripture and doctrine were written and the fortress that protects the integrity of the Faith from enemies, both from within and without. It is Sacred Tradition that keeps us standing at the Cross of our Lord and indeed hanging there on it with Him. As we pass through Spy Wednesday, let each of us acknowledge our own faults, and in so doing let us refuse the thirty pieces of silver and instead embrace our Lord. Tomorrow, on Holy Thursday, let all clergy be reminded of the example of our Lord set at the Last Supper - that we are to offer Sacrifice and serve others. Also on Holy Thursday, let all people of faith realize that humanity today still betrays our Lord. On Good Friday, let us all be there, hanging on the Cross with our Lord. Let us die to all that is not of the Kingdom of God. Let us ask to be taken up, like the thief on the right. Then, on Holy Saturday, just as our Lord descended into hell, let us pray for the souls of the dead, recalling that the Church is not just here on earth, but also in purgatory and in Heaven. Finally, let us rejoice in the Resurrection at the Vigil and on Easter Sunday, and indeed throughout the Easter Season! Let us know that we need not pretend to be perfect, for none of us are. Yet, we can all receive the reward of everlasting life. Embrace the Sacred Traditions of the Holy Church, a gift from God to guide us on our journey to sanctification, that we may indeed be worthy of the promises of Christ!

29 March 2014

Score 1 for Pope Francis

Sub Tuum.

I would suppose that few people have no opinion whatsoever on Pope Francis. Whatever one's opinion, it is hard not to admit that the Holy Father won the engagement, so to speak, in his recent meeting with Obama.

Prior to the meeting, Obama referred to himself and the Pope as kindred spirits. While perhaps confusing to many, I can somewhat understand the sentiment. You see, Pope Francis likes poor people, while Obama likes to create poor people. 

It was said before the meeting that Obama would likely acknowledge that there were many differences of opinion, so they should try to find common ground for their discussion. The Holy Father, though, did not take the bait. Instead he hammered away on the grave issues facing America under the Obama Administration: religious freedom, right to life, and choice of conscience, among others. 

If the meeting were a squash game, the score would be 9-0, Francis, with the Pope's shots going hard and low, and the President's going straight into the tin.  

27 March 2014

The Situation in the Ukraine

Sub Tuum.

As the situation in the Ukraine has continued, I have had relatively little to say on the matter. What was essentially a regional matter (regardless of who is "right") has been exploited to advance the political agendas of governments around the world. This is one of the greatest tragedies of the entire situation. 

Now, consider also that the uprisings that sparked all this mess were the source of the majority of the violence, not the Russians. It is also unlikely that such an uprising would have been able to get going without backing from one or more other countries quietly manipulating things from behind the scenes. Some countries are particularly famous for doing that. 

And what of Crimea itself? Well, that was originally part of Russia. It was in fact "given" to the Ukraine during the time of the Soviet Union by Khrushchev. Furthermore, that region is not "pro-Russian," but actually Russian. There has been a long-time problem of ethnic Russians being the victims of severe discrimination and even violence at the hands of the ethnic Ukrainians. Where was the world outrage at that? I don't even hear about that in the western news. 

Also, it is ironic that many of the countries condemning the actions of the Russian Federation have themselves a long history of annexing other territories, often with far more bloodshed than is currently seen in the present situation. The pot so often loves to call the kettle black. 

Regardless of which side is right, the rest of the world would do well to lay aside petty politics and ultra-nationalism and instead strive to understand the totality of the situation. Above all, let us pray for a peaceful resolution to the matter, and one that results in the best benefits to all parties concerned. 

12 March 2014

New Mass Propers Blog

Sub Tuum.

A new blog has been launched that will post the daily mass propers according to the Anglo-Roman Tridentine Liturgy. The propers are taken from the Missale Anglicanum Editio Latina et Anglica 2nd Edition. The blog is located here: http://masspropers.blogspot.com

27 February 2014

Clothing: Vanity or Actually Important?

Sub Tuum.

The Christian faith teaches modest and promotes a path that brings people away from vanity. It's difficult to think about vanity without clothes coming to mind as one way in which vanity, a form of the sin of pride, may manifest itself. People struggle to keep up with the latest fashions and trends. Yet I do not suggest we pay no attention to the clothes we wear. Rather, I say that clothes are important. We spend most of our lives wearing some form of clothing. It is difficult to imagine that something that is so much a part of our lives can be of no importance. And, if it were not important, then there would be no dress codes and no fashion industry, and people would not debate whether certain types of clothes are appropriate. 

I say the people should dress modestly and conservatively, but should also dress well. General Patton found that soldiers who dressed slovenly, even though they were in uniform, performed poorly as soldiers. They didn't look like soldiers, so they didn't act like soldiers. When he changed them from the outside by requiring them to look good, they began to change on the inside. This in turn was reflected by their continued and voluntary good outward appearance. 

Another related good quote by General Patton is that pride in self begins with pride in appearance. Now, this pride is not, or at least should not be, the type that falls in the realm of the sin of pride. Rather it is the type of pride such as pride in a job well done. This type of "pride" necessarily involves a profound humility for the source of one's talents, for it is those God-given talents that were developed by human will to result in the job well done in the first place. 

Put another way, taking appropriate care in one's appearance shows respect for the temple that one has been given, the temporary earthly dwelling-place of one's soul. It also shows respect for those with whom one interacts. (Remember, even in the Bible those who were not properly attired were turned away from the wedding celebration.) Self-respect and respect for others are sorely lacking in today's society. 

22 February 2014

How "Traditionalist vs. Liberal" is destroying the Church from within

Sub Tuum.

First, let me say that I agree with Pius IX, Pius X, and many other Church fathers and leaders in that liberalism and modernism are dangerous heresies that threaten to tear the Church apart from within. These threats are nothing new, and thus the faithful must always battle them. The Church Militant is constantly in a state of crucifixion and resurrection, and hence constantly in a state of renewal. Tradition, firmly rooted in Scripture and the authority of the Church, is the guide.

That said, one of the most unfortunate outcomes of the liberal changes of the 1970s is the division of Catholics into two broad camps: Liberals and Traditionalists. It is difficult not to be in one of these two in one way or another. These camps are defined both in terms of liturgy and theology. Thus one in theory could like the new mass and lean more towards conservative, traditional theology. Not surprisingly, though, these camps are generally centered around the liturgy. 

Before these modifications, there was one mass. Whatever the debates and disagreements in theology and social doctrine might have been, there was one mass. There was one form of common prayer that we all used. (Even the various rites were consistent in spirit, and thus a different form of the same thing.) Now we have various traditional masses. Some are with the local diocese. Some are not. Even among Novus Ordo parishes, there is a wide range of style. Today one never knows what one is going to get, as liturgy reflects more personality and local groupthink rather than the one, unified doctrine of the Church. 

As for me, I'm a Catholic, plain and simple. I refuse to participate in these debates. Yes, I hold to the traditions of the Church. Yes, I profess the traditional doctrine and theology of the Church. I took a solemn oath to do so, even to the shedding of my own blood if necessary. The bickering between jurisdictions and even between parishes is counterproductive and nothing more than a tool of Satan to instill division within the corporate Body of Christ. I agree there can be no compromise on the immutable doctrine of the Faith. What will I do? I will simply continue to say mass for the people of the world. 

21 February 2014

The strange modern notions of Church and State in America

Sub Tuum.

It is only in the recent period of America's history that the idea that religion should have no place in the public sector has been considered the norm. Of course, anti-Catholic policies and sentiments have always persisted and sought to limit or eliminate the influence of Catholicism. Religion, particularly Christianity as a whole, was not only tolerated, it was upheld. Several of the first states had state religions. Laws pertaining to things like blasphemy remained on the books in some states until quite recently. Thomas Jefferson stated that the government had no right to meddle in the affairs of the church. From the Colonial days, though, the church was right there in government. There are chaplains for the Senate and House of Representatives. Invocations are given at Presidential Inaugurations. The list goes on and on. It was simply considered normal until the past decade. 

The funny thing about all this is that the secularists who are promoting this shift in American mentality claim that America really is secular and was originally secular. Yet the facts suggest quite the opposite. America was and is a Christian nation. I remember my childhood, no matter how much the secularists want me to forget. Yet so many people forget. Those of us who remember will eventually be overshadowed by the many young people who are growing up with no knowledge of their history. They will believe in secularism because no one has told them otherwise. They will believe religion is not part of America because no one has taught them otherwise. The Church is being crucified by the secularists. It is the duty of the Church Militant to work through the grace of God to rise again for the good of the souls of mankind!

15 February 2014

Lessons from the Retirement of Evgeni Plushchenko

Sub Tuum. 

Those watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi (or at least the figure skating portions) are doubtless aware that famed Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushchenko not only retired from competition as planned, but withdrew from the men's individual competition moments before he was to skate. He was apparently experiencing severe pain due to old injuries for which he had surgery. The crowd rose to its feet as he left the ice, but the reception from the Russian people overall was about as frigid as a Siberian winter.

The claims were many. Some say he choked because he didn't think he could beat the Japanese skater who won the gold medal. Some say he just physically wimped out. Others claimed he never should have been in the Olympics in the first place due to his prior injuries. It is far easier to shout advice or criticism from the cover of the sidelines than to risk defeat at the point of attack. While only Plushchenko knows the reason for certain, the reason probably was the obvious fact he was in severe pain. In any case, it was his decision to make, and he made it. 

At 31, he is old for a high-level competitive figure skater. He is known not only for his brilliant artistry in performance, but also for his incredible strength and jumping ability. These feats of strength were not without their toll. As Plushchenko himself said, he is a normal person and not a robot. Injuries from years of competition resulted in several operations, including on his spine (the old injury that apparently caused his withdrawal from the competition). Prior to the Sochi Games, he already had three medals, one gold and two silver. In the first part of the Sochi Games, he helped to propel Russia to a team gold medal. That he could accomplish this at his age and with all his physical problems that he had to overcome is an inspiration. Yet, some say he should have quit after the last Olympics or, even better, after the one before that, where he won his gold medal. That might be true if the only purpose is to "go out on top" and be popular. I like to think it is about more than that. It is about overcoming challenges, ignoring the naysayers, and developing and using one's God-given talents to show the highest capabilities of one of God's greatest creations, the human body. It is about being willing to try to accomplish something great, even at risk of failure. And, yes, it is even about having the maturity to know when to quit; not when to quit based on accolades or public acclaim, but based on one's self. 

The unfortunate thing is that this discussion would not even be necessary had he been able to skate in the competition, and especially if he had at least won a medal. How unfortunate that the public is so fickle. How unfortunate that so many people live vicariously through others rather than being in sympathy with their fellow man. As for me, all I can do is be thankfully for having been able to witness a truly great artist and athlete via a television screen and wish him blessings and best wishes in his retirement from skating competition and in the next phase of his life. 

13 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sub Tuum.

As couples all over prepare for an day of romance this Friday on the Feast of Saint Valentine, it is wise to remember that the true source of all love is God. Even true love between a man and a woman is a reflection of God's love and a way for humans to experience God's love. Too often in today's society people see "romance" as a means to get something. Yet, true love is necessarily sacrificial. On this day of romance, remember the example of Saint Valentine himself. He was an Roman priest. So much was his love of God and his devotion to the Blessed Mother that he was martyred in one of the many persecutions of Christians in the early Church. So this Valentine's Day, don't concern yourself with what your significant other can do for you, but instead ask what you yourself can do for them. This life is so short that we ought not waste even one heartbeat of it.

Relics of Saint Valentine in Rome

Saint Valentine receives the rosary from the Blessed Virgin

29 January 2014

Pope Francis a Rock Star?

Sub Tuum. 

The cover story of Pope Francis in Rolling Stone magazine has, not surprisingly, made national news. I have now read the article, or at least as much as I could stomach. It is, as expected, an article that demonstrates an understanding of neither Francis nor the Church. It is insulting to the Supreme Pontiff, to his predecessor, to the church infrastructure, and even to the beauty of the Vatican itself. Some of these insults come from a lack of understanding. Some are outright and direct, such as calling the pontificate of Benedict XVI "disastrous." The article treats both Pope Francis and the Church as a mere earthly organization who needs to keep with the times. Yet, those parts of the Church that keep with the times cease to be the true Church. What Rolling Stone fails to acknowledge or understand is that Francis's message of helping the poor is nothing new in the Church. In fact, it goes back to the very beginning. Remember Saint Lawrence the Roman Deacon, who took his captors to see the poor when they asked to see the treasures of the Church? Benedict XVI preached the same message. 

And what of Francis's style? The rock and roll industry is certainly fashion-conscious, but Francis is not wearing fashion. He is wearing the Papal habit. True, he doesn't wear all of it. One can agree or disagree with that. But, in terms of personality, Francis isn't playing a part, he is being himself. 

One can agree or disagree with various policies and positions of Pope Francis. However, it is a shame and outright dangerous that the humility and humanity of Pope Francis are being exploited by the modernists, liberals, and secularists, both inside and outside the Church, to promote heresy, division, and the liberal agenda. Remember the words of Bl. Pius IX that liberal Catholics are the worst enemies of the Church." Remember also the words of that great Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Saint Athanasius, that those who keep the traditions of the Church, even if reduced to a handful, are the true Catholic Church.