Friday, December 04, 2009

More Comments on the 40th anniversary of the Novus Ordo Mass

To continue on the dicussion, we move on further with content.

We posted before on the key changes desired by Sancrosanctum Concilium, namely:
  • a wider range of readings
  • restoration of prayers of the faithful
  • greater importance of the homily
  • simplification of the rites
  • more opportunities to use the vernacular (but emphasising the importance of Latin)
  • Potential for concelebration
  • Potential for Communion under both kinds.

All of these aspects have been achieved, although I think that it has failed on the rites being simplified as these have been supplanted by a muktiplicity of prayer options. To go from one Eucharistic Prayer to 12 in my view is a simplification. Possibly the symbolism of concelebration and Communion under both kinds has been overplayed.

Other aspects that are the bane of many commentators such as removal of Communion rails, Communion standing, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and female Altar servers simply were not contemplated by the Council fathers and came in much later, and spasmodically.

On reading the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, and comparing it to the Tridentine Missae Rubricae, and the Anglican Book of Commoin Prayer, there is one large difference: the reorientation of the priest from one who leads the church's prayer (as seen in both the documents of the reformers of bother the Protestant and Catholic Reformations) to the idea of the priest "presiding over the community" and acting as some sort of chairman or MC. This is the fundamental flaw in the Novus Ordo Missae. It is from this aspect that we have problems with the liturgy serving the priest's ego, and the discussion on proper or improper orientation of Altars, and other aspects whihc have been liturgical problems over the years.

Where did this come from? The origins come from a "restoration" based upon achaeology in the 1960's whihc has since been debunked (ie. Mass "facing the people"), and an attempt to remove the differences between a Pontifical Solemn Mass from the Throne and other types of Mass. This was done by emphasising the idea that the priest is deputising for the bishop and therefore needs his own "throne".

The best way of course to remove this is to have the priests chair not face the people, and be restored to its more natural place on the Epistle side of the Altar facing North. This is made more effective by having an eastward oriented Altar.

Facing each other in a closed circle to talk to each other is not the essential thing that makes participation by the faithful effective. This simple reorientation is probably more effective than having a crucifix on the Altar or what is beginning to be fashionable in some cirlces of loading the Altar with heaps of candles in the attempt of reorientation.

Reflections on the 40th anniversary of the "Novus Ordo" Mass

On the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Mass there have been a few comments around the blogosphere. fr Z at WDTPRS has done a set of 3 podcasts which are well worth listening to.

Aftyer listening to these podcasts there are a number of things which come up in my mind. The first and which is more stark is that Paul VI did not seem to be confident about the reforms. This comes through in the addresses. It seems that he shares the annoyance and sadness of the changes with his audience, but is willing to accept the sacrifice as this was the will of the church as guided by the Holy Spirit through the Second Vatican Council.

The second aspect is the acceptance that the changes appear to be irreversable. This is an experiment to deepen the spiritual life of the church but there is no going back. There seems to be an acceptance that the older forms of the Roman Rite have gone forever (whihc of course they havent). He knows that he is moving into high risk territory here but is confident that the Holy Spirit will work things out.

Some of the comments are interesting in the light of 40 years. He suggests in his general audience speech that maybe people lost their appreciation of the Mass, and changes would break them out of their lethargy. In hindsight this was true - people got a new appreciation of aspects of the Mass, but also led to aspects which led to some extreme views on both sides of the debate. However, the great gift is that without these changes we would never have had the discussion and research into both forms of the Mass now that the 1962 Missal has been liberated by Benedict XVI.

There has been also discussions on the motivations for Bugnini et al with the changes. From what I read was that there were some positions held in the Consilium which were protestant in origin but that the Pope actaully reined in the Consilium so that the end product was at least catholic, and had moved from its earlier draft (which apparently wanted to remove the Kyrie and Gloria and the Orate fratres). Like everything done by a committee whihc then gets signed off by the CEO, there are a lot of changes along the way. This is something that hard-core traditionalists and conspiracy theorists dont get.

So in the light of the last 40 years truly the spirit moves in mysterious ways. People just want it to move in the way that they want - immediately.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Returning to blogging

Sorry for the silence but I have felt unable to blog for some time, due to work and general exhaustion.

I found some interesting comments from the New Liturgical Movement about celebrating using the Missal of Bl John XXIII for the first time.

As a "usus utroque" server I found the following points particularly relevant seems that it is both a reminder and an aid which helps to foster, inculcate or re-emphasize a sense of our Roman liturgical culture -- and that is a thing of broad value.

I asked Fr. Johnson about his own experience of this moment and the training leading up to it; "I believe I'm hooked for life" was his response. Digging a little deeper, he noted the great deal of prayer and preparation which he made for taking this step, burying himself within the liturgical texts and ceremonies. He continued, "what the study of the EF [Extraordinary Form] of the Holy Roman Liturgy accomplished, was to help me develop a deeper understanding of the traditions of the Roman Liturgy, in general, and to understand more clearly where the Ordinary Form received its development."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ACSA Conference 2009

The Australian Catholic Students Association had their annual conference in Brisbane last weekend. Here is a video of their concluding Mass on Sunday held at St Ignatius Church Toowong, which was a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Ordinary Form. Its good that the reform-of-the-reform Mass is making its appearance in some places in Brisbane.

It was good that the real Altar was used not the communion table used for the ACCC conference. When I asked about the communion table being used at the time I was told that the congregation would get upset if it was removed. Things are changing.

I managed to make it to the Friday night Mass at Duchesne College chapel at University of Queensland which was a Missa cantata in the Extradordinary Form - and what a beautiful Mass it was. The strong participation by the congregation in the chants and responses showed that the myth that there was no participation in the pre-Vatican II Mass exactly that - a myth. In fact I think that I particiapated in the sacred mysteries more fully than in many ordinary form Masses in English.

Friday, June 26, 2009

St Josemaria

Today is the feast day of St Josemaria. We had a great solemn Mass in Brisbane for his feastday last night.

A recommendation to those of you who have long working hours like myself, should remember that "this is your sanctification". Im sure that that this is something that St Josemaria would have said in reply to a disciple saying "my boss is so demanding and I need to put in absurd hours".

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Corpus Christi - from Toledo, Spain

When I was in Toledo, the primatial see within Spain, a couple of years ago I visited the Cathedral, which is one of the larger in Europe. Here is the sanctuary, with its large rood screen. Note also the two pulpits, characteristic of Spanish churches: one for the Epistle and one of the Gospel. I assume that the Epistle and Gospel were read facing outwards. I would not say towards the congregation because where the congregation would have stood and knelt would have been outside the choir. The rest of the choir is actually behind those people you see sitting in the foreground. It is a closed off area protected by a similar iron screen. This is where the archbishops throne and the stalls for the Cathedral canons are located. The Archbishops throne directly faces the Sanctuary in line with the High Altar.

Here is the High Altar with its reredos, over 10 metres high. Similar to other Cathedrals in Spain, the Altar has been moved away from the reredos, and an archbishops throne placed in the middle facing where someone thought that the people should be. This results in the ridiculous situation where there are two thrones in the Choir facing each other. Hopefully this can be corrected someday.

The Monstrance that we saw in the Cathedral Sacristry, was over 3 metres high and is either lifted by a team of 8 to 10 men or wheeled around on a trolley.
Anyway I was please to discover a couple of You-tubes of last week's procession, which brings the feel of the bulilding all to life. With the applause (which has a different meaning to the English speaking world), the rose petals from the roof, the bells, and the general exuburance - how different to our boring minimalist approach in Australia where Corpus Christi is basically ignored, at least in my part of the country.

Here the monstrance is borne into the Cathedral. It looks as if they came through the South transept door, whihc is actually the main entrance off the street.
And the monstrance being carried into the sanctuary.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Ordines Romani

Often we hear arguments about what was the authentic form of the Mass taken from hsistory and tradition. Is it the Extraordinary Form (the Roman Rite according to the books used at the Second Vatican Council) as celebrated in some areas, or the Ordinary Form developed following the Council (sometimes called the Novus Ordo?).

Like everything its about going back to the sources. Most "liturgists" hang onto St Justin Martyr's account of Mass being celebrated in the second century AD. However, we know that the Mass in both the Eastern and Western parts of the Roman Empire went through a considerable state of flux subsequent to this. Justins account is very brief so it does not give very much of a flavour of what went on.

This is why a series of documents called the Ordines Romani become important because they not only outline what was said in liturgies but also what people did in the liturgy. The Ordines Romani were a series of documents with the first ordo (Ordo I) believed to have been written before the end of the seventh century AD, and final set written by the 15th century. We will focus on Ordo I with some reference to a 9th century AD ordo - Ordo III. The purpose of these ordo's seem to be as a guide to what was done in at a Solemn Pontifical Mass in Rome for people who wanted to learn liturgy but could not travel there.

What I intend to do in the next few weeks (God willing) is briefly go through the various elements of the Ordo Romanus, because I do not think that a comparison with both of the modern forms (1962 and 1970 missals) have been done. What it shows clearly, is that the Ordo of the original Roman Rite contains elements of both and truly is the father of both. Conversely neither can lay claim to be doing "what the early Christians did", which often is an obsession of liturgists these days.

The other thing with the Ordo is that it shows up the reason for some obscure practices in our modern liturgies, so this little study should inform the tradition. Some pics from visits of actual churches and basilicas where these ceremonies were enacted give a bit of the flavour.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Who were the Deaconesses?

With the discussion last week as to deaconesses and the question of legitimacy, I though that I would take the opportunity to explore deaconesses in the early church.

My source is the Catholic Encyclopedia, although I have taken out some of the bias that the 1907 writers put into the discussion.

It was an ordained ministry.

From the 4th century Apostolic Constitutions (a document whihc is Roman but seeme to have some eastern elements in it:

Concerning a deaconess, I, Bartholomew enjoin O Bishop, thou shalt lay thy hands upon her with all the Presbytery and the Deacons and the Deaconesses and thou shalt say: Eternal God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the creator of man and woman, that didst fill with the Spirit Mary and Deborah, and Anna and Huldah, that didst not disdain that thine only begotten Son should be born of a woman; Thou that in the tabernacle of witness and in the temple didst appoint women guardians of thy holy gates: Do thou now look on this thy handmaid, who is appointed unto the office of a Deaconess and grant unto her the Holy Spirit, and cleanse her from all pollution of the flesh and of the spirit, that she may worthily accomplish the work committed unto her, to thy glory and the praise of thy Christ.

The Catholic Encyclopedia discusses the fact that bishops in the early church did argue themselves as to whether this was an ordained ministry or not, and refers to some obscure councils the opinion that it was not an ordained ministry. The EC's arguments are not all that strong.

What did they do?

The primary purpose of the Deaconesses was in the era of segregation of worship, with a separate mens and womens section in the church. Therefore their roles were:
  • the instruction and baptism of catechumens
  • guarding the doors and maintaining order amongst those of their own sex in the church,
  • acting as intermediaries between the clergy and the women of the congregation.

They may have also functioned as Ministers of Holy Communion to the womens section of the church but I have not found any evidence for this.

However, the Apostolic Constitutions make it clear that "the deaconess gives no blessing, she fulfills no function of priest or deacon", So in Rome at least, their role was very different from the Deacon. For instance they did not minister at the Altar assisting the priest like a Deacon nor did they read the Gospel, sing the Ite Missa Est, or preach a homily.

However, we do hear that in the churches of Syria and Asia, of them presiding over assemblies of women, reading the Epistle and Gospel, distributing the Blessed Eucharist to nuns, lighting the candles, burning incense in the thuribles, adorning the sanctuary, and anointing the sick. This seemed to be regarded as an abuse which ecclesiastical legislation soon repressed.

If they did not function as a deacon did they have any role in the Liturgy?

Its difficult to determine where they had a place in the liturgy. A document called "Testament of Our Lord" (c. 400), widows had a place in the sanctuary during the celebration of the liturgy, they stood at the anaphora behind the presbyters, they communicated after the deacons, and before the readers and subdeacons, and they had a charge of, or superintendence over the deaconesses.

It is recorded that in the time of Justinian (d. 565) at the Basilica of St. Sophia in Constantinople the staff consisted of sixty priests, one hundred deacons, forty deaconesses, and ninety subdeacons. However, I cannot see any reference to them in any of the Roman legislation from the same period. One exception is the the ninth Ordo Romanus mentions, feminae diaconissae et presbyterissae quae eodem die benedicantur. Diaconissae are also mentioned in the procession of Leo III in the ninth century

When did they die out?

The ministry seemed to have died out when just about everyone was Christian and adult baptism had practically died out. Balsamon, Patriarch of Antioch about A.D. 1070 states that deaconesses in any proper sense had ceased to exist in the Church though the title was borne by certain nuns while Matthew Blastares (c 14th cent) said that by the the tenth century that the civil legislation (presumably that of the eastern Roman Empire) concerning deaconesses, which ranked them rather among the clergy than the laity had then been abandoned or forgotten.

The only surviving relic of the ordination of deaconesses in the West (and this may have disappeared after Vatican II) was the conferring of a stole and maniple to Carthusian nuns in the ceremony of their profession.

Could they be revived?

The short answer is probably not as the need for the role has disappeared (men and women worship together and there is no modesty issues around baptism) and laity (whether men or women) can provide leadership in these areas. It needs to be kept in mind that the role was never an Altar ministry.

All this been said, it gives an interesting overview to the fact that the Church saw it as an ordained ministry, and that ordination to specific non priestly roles could be opened to everyone.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

St Marys abuses spreading?

Australia's capital cities have been celebrating joint Anglican and Roman Catholic initiatives at different times and in the main this is good to see. Different Anglican and Catholic churches have hosted clergy from the other church and the practice (as was done most recently at the installation of Archbishop Nichols at Westminster), is to have the clergy of the guest church in choir and having all the rights of clergy in choir (including being incensed separately to the celebrant(s).

However, today, in a Catholic Cathedral a Mass was celebrated in which an Anglican Deaconess processed with the Gospel book and proclaimed the Gospel.

In the Mass the Gospel is always proclaimed by an ordained Minister and the role of this is the Deacon and if a deacon is not available, the Celebrant (GIRM (Australian version) n59)

Whoever authorised this obviously does not understand that the Bull Apostolicae Curae promulgated by Pope Leo XIII on 15 September 1896 still applies, and that declares:

We pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.

In addition, these women are not even recognised universally in their own church (eg Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney).

The Respondum in relation to the declaration Dominus Jesus of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul 2007 states:

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?

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 Mystery
cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.

What we had here is an abuse of the St Marys South Brisbane kind in which what is essentially a layperson proclaiming the gospel, and this done within a major city Cathedral in which people in charge are supposed to know better. It gives people the impression that we are in communion when we are not. I am sure that some members of the congregation were scandalised by it.

This was foisted upon the congregation without any warning, probably because of other attempts at misguided ecumenism, which were stopped before they occurred.

This could have been so easily avoided by having the Anglican ministers proclaim the other readings, or leading prayers of the faithful. This was crossing the line into doctrinal error.

But on a lighter note, before the Cooees boys steal my thunder, this video emphasises my sentiments:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

For all the Latinists out there....

.....and I'm sure that there are quite a few of you who read this blog, Sydney's Campion College is conducting a week-long intensive course on Ecclesiastical/Medieval Latin. It is not targeted to a specific learning group; you can be a novice or expert in lingua Latina and attend. Texts for translation over the five days will include passages from scripture, the Church Fathers Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene (including my old friends Minucius Felix and Augustine), hymns and medieval texts such as the Legenda Aurea.

The course runs between 13th-17th of July. Though I will probably not be able to attend myself (very disappointing), I would highly recommend that if you are able, you should! You can find out more information and an application form at Campion College's website.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Pantheon

One of the greatest buildings in the world that I have visited is the Pantheon in Rome. Today it is its 1400th birthday as a Christian church although it dates from the 2nd century AD and parts of the building to the reign of the Emperor Augustus. Im not sure how many times a week they celebrate Mass there but it seems to be on a regular basis.

The great thing about this video is that you get to see parts of the building that you dont get to see as a tourist. Notice all the original Roman brickwork.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Catholicism in the Land of the Rising Sun

Apologies for no posts....I mentioned the loss of my internet, and had only had it back for about a day before I was scheduled to leave on an overseas trip. My trip was to Japan, and I'm going to post a little about it here.

Christianity is a minority faith in Japan- Roman Catholicism in particular only makes up 0.5% of the population, according to statistics from (among this small minority is Japan's current PM, Taro Aso). The majority of Japanese practice Buddhism (specifically Mahayana or 'Greater Vehicle' Buddhism) and the animist Shinto faith. If you stay in a Japanese hotel, not only will you find a copy of the Gideons New Testament (with side-by-side Japanese and English translation) in your bedside table drawer, but also a copy of the Teachings of Buddha next to it. The Buddha of Compassion (Kanzeon in Japanese) is often closely identified with Mary. Though I did see traditional statuary of Mary (St. Mary's Cathedral in Tokyo has a copy of Michaelangelo's Pieta), she is also depicted as a Japanese woman with long flowing hair and wearing traditional kimono.

It was Francis Xavier who brought the Gospel to the Japanese in the late 16th century, and the churches I visited all featured some statue or image in his likeness. The bust in the photo below is displayed in St. Mary's Cathedral- it once belonged to the Medici family and was donated to St. Mary's by Cardinal Josef Frings, the former Archbishop of Cologne. Catholic Christians in Japan have encountered some hostility; the story of the twenty-six missionaries and converts being crucified during the Edo period is well-documented, and Christianity was banned until the 19th century Meiji Restoration, which allowed for freedom of religion.

The church here is a parish in Ashiya, a suburb outside of Osaka and was built in the 1930s. It is looked after at present by three priests- two Japanese and a Frenchman (there was an Italian there during my stay, but he was due to leave for another parish within a few weeks). My friend and her mother, who I attended mass with there, related that Japan also suffers from a shortage of clergy, which may explain the presence of the expat priests. A few parishes in Tokyo offer masses in English, but most services will be in Japanese and in some cases Tagalog and Spanish.

During World War II, some churches were destroyed when the Americans bombed the country; the most notable example being Nagasaki's Urakami Cathedral, which was destroyed when the second atomic bomb hit a short distance from the building. As a consequence, some churches rebuilt after the war were constructed with a modern appearance. The pictures below are of St. Mary's Cathedral, which was one such parish that was bombed during the war. I attended Palm Sunday mass there, and while I felt initially staggered by the size of the place, I found the interior to my liking. It appears quite cave-like in the photos below, but the simplicity of it is quite pleasing to the eye in person.
Kawaramachi Church is the seat of the Bishop of Kyoto. I was surprised to find it a short distance away from my hotel. The layout of the church bears some similarity to that of the Stuartholme School chapel in Brisbane with its large triangular stained glass window behind the altar. This church too was fairly simple in layout, with only the right wall decorated with stained glass windows. The third photos shows a section of this wall depicting the Stations of the Cross.

I have taken no photos of the services I went to (something I wouldn't feel comfortable doing, since they're not my parishes and I don't know the parishioners), but will comment on what might be considered a particular quirk to Japanese worship. Standing during the entire Liturgy of the Eucharist is practiced by most, with kneeling for prayer after communion. The parish in Ashiya also employs a system where a plateful of unconsecrated hosts is placed at the church entrance alongside the ciborium, and before you take your seat you take a host from the plate and place it in the ciborium with tongs. This is done to ensure exact numbers for communion. Altar serving practices are not too different from ours here; most of the servers I saw were young children around the ages of 8-10 (with an adult supervisor), and were very disciplined and committed.

If readers would still like to learn more about the Japanese Catholic experience, I can highly recommend the works of the author Endo Shusoku, in particular 'Silence' and 'Scandal'.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Only in America!!

A biretta tip o{] :-) goes to Hypatia for discovering the commercial that the Archdiocese of New York is using to get people to come to confession.

I am amazed the the Cooees people did not pick this one up.

But as they say - only in America!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You can never have too many candles

Here is a pic from a recent mass celebrated in Sevilla in Spain. Very ornate and very Spanish of course.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter Everyone

A happy Easter to all our visitors.

Other commitments and holidays have not permitted us to blog very often through Lent. We are hoping to get more political and liturgical commentary up soon.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The vernacular in the Usus Antiquor

There is an interesting quiz posted on the New Liturgical Movement website about what language the readings should be in if using the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Roman and I were in agreement on one aspect - use one language or another for the readings, not both.

Unfortunately, you cannot see my result on the quiz. But this is of the essence of it. I believe that in a Low Mass the readings should be in the vernacular. In a High Mass they need to be sung in Latin. I hadnt really thought about a Missa Canata, so one may use either/or but preferably in Latin. Where the readings are in Latin the congregation needs to have Mass sheets to follow.

One of the things that I found very awkward is the priest then re-reading the readings from the pulpit. Given that the purpose of the Homily is to break open the Word of God, there does not need to be a re-reading but the Homily needs to be centred upon the readings.

Its interesting that with Henry VIII's reforms of the Sarum Usage after his break with Rome, the Mass was maintained in Latin, but the readings and the recitation of the Our Father (with the people) were to be in the vernacular. This was as "protestant" as Henry wanted to go liturgically. Later on Elizabeth I insisted that the Anglican services in the Chapel Royal be in Latin, although apart from Oxford, they were in English in the rest of the country*.

As for my limited personal experience:

St Lukes Brisbane
Readings are always in Latin and then read from the lecturn in the vernacular.

St Aloysius Melbourne
Readings in Latin only. I think Missals and mass sheets are made available

San Gregorio in Muritorio Rome
Readings in Latin only. Hand-outs in Italian (I found the Latin easier to follow)

San Pietro Rome (Solemn Novus Ordo Mass)
First and second readings in vernacular (one in Italian), Gospel in Latin. Nice glossy booklets for the ordinary, but no hand outs for the readings.


*Elizabeth wanted to unify the country under one "Book of Common Prayer". However, in some parts of the country such as Cornwall, people would have been more familiar with Latin as a second language, than English.

The Language of the Liturgical Readings in the Usus Antiquior

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lampooning Liberals

I have to give a heads up to this post by Diogenes of CWN fame. It made my morning and might make yours as well.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rossini and Pius IX

One of my fav composers is Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) as seen above. Its amazing apart from Vivaldi how much of his music is now "hold Music". I stumbled upon a cantata he wrote in praise of Pope Pius IX as you can see below.

I found this really interesting because I always thought that Rossini was what we would call now a "liberal" whilst Pius was ultra-conservative. His primary works that he is remembered for was Vatican I which defined Papal Infallability and his "Syllabus of Errors" where he condemned just about everything that was going on in modern Europe at the time. In fact British commentators at the time said that the Italians called him "Pio nono" because everything was a "NO-NO".

Putting that all aside, I'm more interested in Pius' personal habits. For instance he was the last pope that we know of who was a chain smoker, and an Italian perfume maker recently reconstructed his personal deoderant. (The Papacy is so interesting!!).

Anyway I hope our readership enjoys the cantata, with visuals from the Pius IX museum and very mid-19th century type of music, with lots of ornamentation.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

San Trinita in Rome

There is a good television report on San Trinita dei Pellegrini, the FSSP parish in Rome. I went to Sunday Mass at their former location at San Gregorio de Muratorio a few months before they made the move to San Trinita.

Happily (and the reason for the note) is that they have strong Australian links, with Fr Joseph Kramer from Melbourne being the parish priest and Australian priests and seminarians (and a certain Cardinal) helping out from time to time.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Santa Maria in Domnica

For those of you who follow the round of Stational Churches during Lent you will notice that the stational church for the Second Sunday of Lent is the Stational Church of Santa Maria in Domnica.

(Photo:Nina Aldin Thune)

I visited this charming little church on an Autumn morning in Rome, after walking up the Clivus Scauri, past where Pope Gregory the Great lived. The term "Dominca" it is suggested comes from the term dominica sotto praedia namely, that the church was sited in an area of Imperial dependence. Archaeologists have found that this church, founded upon an earlier one, was connected to a diaconal hall. These halls were set up after the collapse of the Roman Empire after the church took over the distribution of the corn "dole". This task was managed by the deacons.

At the end of the papal struggle against the Iconoclasts, Pope Pascal II (pontificate 817-824AD)built this church, which features for the first time Our Lady holding the child Jesus as a central icon in the apse.

You can see Pope Pascal II, as the small figure (about the same size as Jesus) kneeling at the foot of Mary touching her foot in homage. Note the square halo around the Pope, indicating that the mosaic was undertaken in his lifetime.

For those of you with an interest in how churches are oriented. This one is oriented in the same way as St John Lateran and St Peters, with the apse at the western end and the doors at the East. The celebrant would therefore celebrate facing the congregation. Presumably the Altar originally had a ciborium, but it looks about 18th century to me. Cardinal de Medici (later Pope Leo X) arranged a major makeover in the early 1500s (Medici lions all over the place on the outside) and the sanctuary had a makeover in the 1950s.
This church is the titular church of H.E. Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. I hope that he gets a chance often to celebrate Mass here.

Pontifical Vespers with Bp Elliott

Subsequent to Bishop Elliott's talk we processed to St Aloysius Church for Pontifical Vespers at the Faldstool. You can see pictures of that event here

Bp Peter Elliott Address

In January 2008, Bishop Peter Elliott gave a lecture at the Guild of St Lawrence conference. I have now worked out how to post this up on this blog so that you can all enjoy and be informed. Not that it takes me this long but it was originally to be hosted on another site.

Fr Glen Tattersall of the Extraordinary Form Mass community hosted the conference and he introduces His Lordship.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

An apology for the lack of apologia...

Lest anyone was concerned about why I haven't posted on Justin Martyr yet, I'm currently without a phoneline or internet at home due to a snapped telegraph line. I promise the post as soon as I get access again, and in the meantime will be sending prayers to our patron saint of telecommunications, the Archangel Gabriel, that Telstra will come and fix things up soon!

Monday, March 02, 2009

On Holy Communion

Here is a liturgical question that has been perplexing me:

N 162 of the Australian edition of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal states:

162. The priest may be assisted in the distribution of Communion by other priests who happen to be present. If such priests are not present and there is a very large number of communicants, the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, i.e., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose.97 In case of necessity, the priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion.98 These ministers should not approach the altar before the priest has received Communion, and they are always to receive from the hands of the priest celebrant the vessel containing either species of the Most Holy Eucharist for distribution to the faithful.

Of course we do not see this in our churches. What we actually see refers more to a diocesan instruction: Special Ministers of Communion Archdiocese of Brisbane 1982, revised 1993:

The ministers come to the altar after the sign of peace. After the Lamb of God, the priest gives communion to the ministers —first the bread and then the cup. The priest and the communion ministers then take the eucharist to the people according to the local custom. (Alternatively, ministers may receive communion after they have ministered to the assembly — a stronger sign of their service.)

Note that the current diocesan instruction predates Redemptionis Sacramentum and therefore has the incorrect terminology to start with.

Considering that the GIRM was promulgated in May 2007, how come it is taking so long for the legislated practices to come into line? Or did the bishops sign up to something that they were not going to follow anyway? Just a thought as I hate seeing the lay people in their ordinary clothes looking like concelebrants, when the communion liturgy has still a long way to go.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chesterton on St Mary's Part 3

Dear Readers, this could be my last post for a little while or at least my last regular one depending on how things go.

Returning to our topic, Fr Kennedy has often made use of the word "orthodox" and "orthodoxy" in very pejorative ways. Fr Kennedy prides himself on being "unorthodox." Jesus, we are told, was "unorthodox", whatever that's supposed to mean in such a context.

I don't have much further comment to add since I think the following quote from Chesterton mostly speaks for itself. This time, however, it is from another book of his aptly entitled Heretics. I can only hope these snippets might edge some people into reading Chesterton. If you haven't he's one of the best kept secrets out there and for many the greatest author of the 20th century. This section is the opening paragraph of the first chapter. The first chapter of Heretics by the way is an excellent antidote to this whole sorry affair as Chesterton explains the importance of going back to fundamental ideas. The last paragraph on the monk and the lamp post is golden. Anyhow, for now I present the following for your enjoyment:

" Nothing more strangely indicates an enormous and silent evil of modern society than the extraordinary use which is made nowadays of the word "orthodox." In former days the heretic was proud of not being a heretic. It was the kingdoms of the world and the police and the judges who were heretics. He was orthodox. He had no pride in having rebelled against them; they had rebelled against him. The armies with their cruel security, the kings with their cold faces, the decorous processes of State, the reasonable processes of law--all these like sheep had gone astray. The man was proud of being orthodox, was proud of being right. If he stood alone in a howling wilderness he was more than a man; he was a church. He was the centre of the universe; it was round him that the stars swung. All the tortures torn out of forgotten hells could not make him admit that he was heretical. But a few modern phrases have made him boast of it. He says, with a conscious laugh, "I suppose I am very heretical," and looks round for applause. The word "heresy" not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word "orthodoxy" not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right. For obviously a man ought to confess himself crazy before he confesses himself heretical. The Bohemian, with a red tie, ought to pique himself on his orthodoxy. The dynamiter, laying a bomb, ought to feel that, whatever else he is, at least he is orthodox."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Archdiocese of brisbane and St Marys Church

What an interesting 3 days it has been and what an amount og fodder for comment. I really have not much comment on this except that now you are either behind His Grace the Archbishop of Brisbane or behind the renegade Kennedy. There is no middle position anymore unfortunately, that disappeared at the beginning of last week.

I totally concur with the comments on Coo-ees both from the mother house and the daughter house. The sooner Kennedy is away from the situation the better.

That leaves the situation with the St Marys congregation itself. This is a group of people who hate Rome and hate the Catholic Church. This is liberalism taken to extremes. They have not taken the God centred path which is the path of "reason", as the Pope explained in his Regensburg Address.

What will happen with the physical assets? Who knows. It might be the time for a long sit-in by the congregation with a legal battle which will take years.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Summa Theologicas Work - Translated

I realise that it has been a while since I last posted on this weblog. Unfortunately many things manage to conspire to keep the wicked at work.

At any rate with Roman's "retirement" it falls to myself and Stephen to keep the ball rolling that started over two years ago. With that I intend to try and impart my own small contribution of momentum to the effort, God willing.

Longtime devoted readers of this blog will recall my last posts which analyzed and critiqued certain sections of Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion that dealt quite woefully with the five ways (quinque viae) of St Thomas Aquinas. Unfamiliar readers may like to go back and consult them. You can find the main ones here, here, here, and here.

Needless to say my understanding of these matters has deepened appreciably since I last wrote these posts. Today I would have written them differently.

Finally readers should feel free to raise any matters even slightly related to such posts even if they are just questions which they would like to see dealt with. Philosophical inquiry thrives on a mutal exchange of ideas and the shared pursuit of the Truth.

So here's hoping for some more philosophy in the future.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Presenting....The Apologists. AKA Defending Christianity: You're doing it right!

While my colleagues on this blog have offered commentary on liturgy and contemporary events in the church, I have decided to delve into the church's past for my posts in the next few weeks, and to a subject very close to my heart.

My honours thesis was written on a range of early Christian texts, but the one genre that caught my attention was that of apologia. The word apologia is Greek for 'to defend', and the genre was utilized by such ancient writers as Apuleius and Plato, whose Apology is a version of the speech Socrates made in his own defence when placed on trial in Athens.

A number of Church Fathers followed in the footsteps of Plato and also wrote apologies. These texts were ostensibly addressed to authority figures in Roman government such as provincial governors and the emperors; however, their actual audience were more likely to be Christians who, when faced with having to defend their actions, needed to explain their faith.
As a convert myself, I've had to defend my faith on a few occasions; as a result, the apologetic texts, despite being centuries old, still struck a chord with me.

Over the next few posts I make, I would like to cover five apologists of the Ante-Nicene church: Justin Martyr, Athenagoras of Athens, Tertullian, Minucius Felix and Lactantius. If any readers are interested in reading the works of these men, a simple Google search will bring up a number of websites where you can read the complete works online. The first apologist I would like to discuss here is Justin, hopefully in the next week or so.

In the meantime, the grounding for the Christian apologetic is not only found in the works of Plato (more on this in the post on Justin...), but in the New Testament too. The trial of Paul in Acts 24-26 is the foremost example of a defence of Christianity in the NT, and a section that I would highly recommend for reading. Convincing both the procurator and the tetrarch of Judaea that he has committed no wrongdoing, Paul's speeches are a prototype for the apologetic genre, and illustrate how a successful defence of the faith could be made to an audience who stood a chance of being in the same situation as Paul.

That concludes today's post- from the early example of Paul, a shift occurs in such a way where the early Christian defence speech goes from being part of a larger narrative to being the actual subject itself. It's from this viewpoint that I'll be discussing Justin.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chesterton on St Mary's Part 2

As I promised there is some more relevant GKC to refer to in relation to St Mary's. But first a more fundamental point: why discuss St Mary's at all?

I believe there is a much better reason why we should do so than merely the fact that it is topical and controversial at the moment (even though this is a 'Brisbane based' blog and it's definitely the biggest Catholic news in Brisbane right now). It's because some of the questions and objections Fr Kennedy is raising force us to ask questions well worth asking: why be Catholic? Why orthodoxy? Why dogma? Why the Church? At some stage in every Catholic's life these questions should be asked. For the convert this obviously occurs in the process of their discovery of Catholic truth. For the cradle Catholic there comes a time to choose to hang on to the religion of one's parents or to forsake it. On that note many of the present generation are not forsaking the faith properly speaking; they never had it to really know what is involved in their rejection but that's by the by. Let us not also forget the 'revert'. I should also add that I am speaking here of our firm decision to hold fast to these things, the learning goes on for a lifetime.

The worse a heretic is the more essential the issues they raise. Was Christ divine? Did he found a Church? Can that Church be found today if he did? Why would he found a Church? What is the nature and purpose of Divine Revelation?

There are other questions that this unique situation also raise such as how does social justice tie in with the rest of Christian teaching? There are enough issues to keep us going here for a long time.

In some ways it is tempting to think that all Fr Kennedy really needs is to just read a decent apologetics book. It would certainly contain answers but I doubt that would be a solution in his case. Nonetheless when Fr Kennedy says (as he is on record as saying) that he is "hazy" about whether there is an afterlife, that is a chance to perhaps review the arguments for the immorality of the soul. Most uncatechised Catholics probably don't even know there are such arguments, thinking perhaps it was all a matter of faith. In point of fact some things taught by Revelation are known to reason also.

As St Thomas says as soon as the heretic uses Scripture we can refute him using the same. (ST I, q 1, a 8).

In a recent article Fr Kennedy is reported proclaiming in a homily that:

"But we can take heart from the words of Jesus himself, who was judged harshly for his unorthodox behaviour - `By their fruits you will know them'."

Father takes heart from the fact that Christ was judged "unorthodox" by the Scribes and Pharisees (as many will remember "you're a Pharisee" is about as eloquent and insightful as most liberal arguments get). He even quotes Scripture to his favour. Yet he fails to remember Christ also taught that the Scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses' seat and therefore the disciples must "do as they say but not as they do." (Mt 23: 2-3). Father Kennedy can hardly claim he is following this. He is free to believe in the privacy of his own house that say, Archbishop Bathersby is a hypocrite. But whether that be true or false he must obey the legitimate authority of his bishop. Obedience it has been said, is the one virtue the devil can't imitate even though he is capable of appearing as an "angel of light" (2 Corth 11:14).

Authority can be abused but it is also necessary.

I'll deal with Fr Kennedy's references to "orthodoxy" another time. But for now here is the Chesterton (once again from his book called Orthodoxy):

"Modern latitudinarians speak, for instance, about authority in religion not only as if there is no reason in it, but as if there had never been any reason for it. Apart from seeing its philosophical basis, they cannot even see its historical cause. Religious authority has often, doubtless, been oppressive or unreasonable; just as every legal system (and espeically our present one) has been callous and full of a cruel apathy. It is rational to attack the police; nay, it is glorious. But the modern critics of religious authority are like men who should attack police without ever having heard of burglars. For there is a great and possible peril to the human mind: a peril as practical as burglary. Against it religious authority was reared, rightly or wrongly, as a barrier. And against it something certainly must be reared as a barrier, if our race is to avoid ruin. That peril is that the human intellect is free to destroy itself."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

St Valentines Day

The relics of St Valentine that I photographed in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedion in Rome. Note the bouquets of roses around the reliquary. He was either a soldier of a priest beheaded during the reign of the Emperor Aurelian
One of the strange things that the liturgical modernisers did was remove the feast of St Valentine (14 february) from the Roman Calendar. It is even more paradoxical that the feast of St Valentine is more widely celebrated in the secular world and even more commercialised (almost like Easter) than when it was supposedly removed. Thankfully Summorum Pontificum has allowed us again to celebrate this feast. We refer to the Propers of today's Mass in the Extraordinary Form:


Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus,: ut qui beati Valentini Martyris tui natalitia colimus, a cunctis malis imminentibus, ejus intercessione, libereremur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum.....


Suscipe, quaesumus Domine, munera dignanter oblata: et beati Valentini martyris tui suffragantibus meritis, ad nostrae salutis auxilium provenire concede. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum.....


Sit nobis, Domine, reparatio mentis et corporis coeleste mysterium: ut, cujus exsequimur actionem, intercedente beato Valentino Martyre tuo, sentiamus effectum. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum....

Note: We assume that our readers, like ourselves, have a working knowledge of Latin or access to a copy of the Missal of Bl John XXIII, so no you are not going to get a translation.

So to keep some perspective on this feast, if you cannot get to an EF Mass in your local area, celebrate these prayers, and then go out and do something wonderful and spontaneous with the person or people that you love.
Of course St Valentine's day is a Christianisation of the old feast of Lupercal. I will leave it to Hypatia to outline the liturgical practices of that period, none of which made it into the Christian liturgy. Somehow someone decided that was inappropriate to have young men, wearing nothing but leather thongs (not on their feet), running through the basilicas whipping young women.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chesterton on St Mary's Part 1

So, you didn't think this great British literary giant had anything to say on the matter?

Think again.

I've deliberately titled this part one as it will be one of three small segments regarding sections from Chesterton which pertain in some way to this topic. Be prepared to see outside the box... (Chesterton has a habit of forcing the reader to do this).

Probably the most consistent defense of St Marys is its commitment to "social justice" (and we all know there's no other organizations around that do that kind of thing).

That apparently justifies everything. They are committed to this one virtue. Now for the Chesterton (specifically it's from Orthodoxy):

"When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was at the Reformation) it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildy and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful. For example, Mr Blatchford attacks Christianity because he is mad on one Christian virtue: the merely mystical and almost irrational virtue of charity. He has a strange idea that he will make it easier to forgive sins by saying that there are no sins to forgive."

Only Chesterton would be brilliant enough to realise that virtues on steroids (as one person put it to me) can do a lot of damage when they run off by themselves.

Here we see the effect of social justice when divorced from other virtues such as, I don't know, obedience perhaps. One way it does more damage is acting as a cover.

By the way, has anyone seen St Mary's say anything on the biggest violation of social justice in Australia, abortion? Strange, I hadn't either.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

taking over St Marys

With all the fuss with St Mary's at the moment, its a good time to have a lighter take.

This is one approach that a pastor could adopt. I am not sure I would recommend it tho:

Tough Act to Convert (TAC)

While much recent media has focused on efforts of reapproachment with the SSPX there is another potential reunion in the works. The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) and its 400,000 adherents are seeking to unite with Rome.

TAC we are informed:

"...was founded in 1991 from groups that had broken with the Anglican Communion over the issue of the ordination of women and other issues. It has been in discussions with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since late 2007."

But wait, there is opposition to this wonderful news. Says one quoted Vatican source:

"The Pontifical Council for Christian Unity is against it."

Fancy that. The Pontifical Council for Christian Unity is opposed to Christian Unity.

I guess if everybody were to be united then there would no longer be any need of a Pontifical Council for Christian Unity so perhaps it does make sense.

Besides, Cardinal Kasper has said we don't understand ecumenism anymore as meaning that the non-Catholic party come over to and join the Catholic Church. If that happened there would be no more ecumenism you see.

But fortunately:

"According to a Vatican insider, Pope Benedict himself is the driving force behind the plan and has linked it to the Year of St Paul, which ends in June."


"if the Holy Father wants this to happen, it will."

I think we should all rejoice at this news and pray that it happens. A personal prelature for the Anglicans may well lead to many new converts.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Welcome Hypatia

Its excellent to see that the blog has gone one big step to some kind of gender balance!!

Im really looking forward to some interesting and challenging posts!!

Call me Hypatia...

...though I haven't yet been killed by an Alexandrian mob; you'll need to give me time to accomplish that, readers.

I was received into the church at the age of sixteen; as a result, I have a converts zeal for learning about the church, a zeal that has translated into Bachelors degree majoring in Religion and Classics and an honours thesis written on early Christian texts. I'm contemplating the topic of relics for my PhD presently, and have just started a vigorous research campaign to find an appropriate relic to be the focus of my study. I studied Classical Latin for three years at university, and have a very basic knowledge of Koine Greek that I hope to improve in time. Besides Classics, ancient history and church history, I'm currently having a 'fling' with renaissance humanism and plan to read the works of Erasmus over Lent.

I was invited to contribute here by Stephen- I have served at the altar with him for six years at our parish. I'm not sure what I can bring to this blog, though I am honoured to be here nonetheless.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A tale of two churches

I need to make comment on two aspects of the Church today.

One thing that the media has completely missed is that the Pope is primarily a shepherd. benedict's consecration sermon focussed on the central them "Siomon Peter do you love me - feed my sheep". When the Pope goes out to rescue some of the recalcretrant sheep and bring back to the herd is is condemned by the secular media. Yes some of the sheep are mentally unhinged, but the shepherd has to still find them and bring them gently back to to flock "holding them in his arms". In the secular media there is no forgiveness. If you hold views that do not fit in with the modern secular world, you should be flung into the darkness for eternity. This is not to say that there is still a long road to go with the SSPX. Personally, I find them distasteful, too full of sedevacantists and people who do not accept the Second Vatican Council.

But, its not about liturgy anymore since Summorum Pontificum; that issue has been resolved. Its about whether Council was a departure from tradition. Personally as one of the few people who have read the documents, I believe it was a development of tradition, although some of the offshoots (the Consilium that developed the 1969 Missale Romanum) had questionable value.

Closer to home, the result at St Mary's South Brisbane was predictable. Apart from abberations in liturgy, no one has done anything wrong here. However, it has all got caught up in the larger issues of our day: te authority of the wider church, the authority of the magisterium and interpretations of Vatican II. The new acting pastor of the parish will have a hard time of it: I see that it will be like St Vincents in Sydney: blockades, the Mass being disrupted, sit-ins, etc. However, he may win the congregation over, if he is skilled in change management, because that is what the congregation will go through.

All over the world, unfortunately the dissent in the church is becoming louder. There is no such think as "loyal dissent" as that guy Paul Collins calls it. It will not lead to a split, but it will be like WWI where there will be digging into a lot of entranched positions, with some sniping at each other and overall very little movement. Catholicism is increasingly seen as a fascist religion and maybe that is true.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Thinker in the Street Corner

The importance of having some acquaintance with good philosophical skills and the ability to think philosophically can't be understated.

Philosophy is essentially common sense with a technical vocabulary to enable one to discuss the finer points. Well, good philosophy anyhow.

And that's precisely what the problem has been for the past four hundred years. Philosophy has become something for the birds. It has no relation to what the man-in-the-street thinks. "All that crazy stuff philosophers philosophize about" and it's a forgivable thought for much of it has been capable of such characterization.

This is brilliantly summarised in the chapter on "The Approach to Thomism" in G K Chesterton's book "St Thomas Aquinas." Please don't jump over this quote. Chesterton is priceless reading.

"Since the modern world began in the sixteenth century, nobody's system of philosophy has really corresponded to everybody's sense of reality: to what, if left to themselves, common men would call common sense. Each started with a paradox: a peculiar point of view demanding the sacrifice of what they would call a sane point of view. That is the one thing common to Hobbes and Hegel, to Kant and Bergson. to Berkeley and William James. A man had to believe something that no normal man would believe, if it were suddenly propounded to his simplicity; as that law is above right, or right is outside reason, or things are only as we think them, or everything is relative to a reality that is not there. The modern philosopher claims, like a sort of confidence man, that if once we will grant him this, the rest will be easy; he will straighten out the world, if once he is allowed to give this one twist to the mind."

If that's just wheting your appetite please also read this which follows shortly after (actually read the whole book):

"I am not, like Father D'Arcy, whose admirable book on St. Thomas has illuminated many problems for me, a trained philosopher, acquainted with the technique of the trade. But I hope Father D'Arcy will forgive me if I take one example from his book, which exactly illustrates what I mean. He, being a trained philosopher, is naturally trained to put up with philosophers. Also, being a trained priest, he is naturally accustomed, not only to suffer fools gladly, but (what is sometimes even harder) to suffer clever people gladly. Above all, his wide reading in metaphysics has made him patient with clever people when they indulge in folly. The consequence is that he can write calmly and even blandly sentences like these. "A certain likeness can be detected between the aim and method of St. Thomas and those of Hegel. There are, however, also remarkable differences. For St. Thomas it is impossible that contradictories should exist together, and again reality and intelligibility correspond, but a thing must first be, to be intelligible." Let the man in the street be forgiven, if he adds that the "remarkable difference" seems to him to be that St. Thomas was sane and Hegel was mad."

Getting Hitched with Hitchens

A couple of days ago I made my first outing to St Paul's bookstore near the Cathedral. Yes, for the first time. It was a flight of curiosity.

Like the Kingdom of Heaven I heard you find both the good and the bad in there and indeed that was the case. But I wasn't prepared for just how bad in some cases. I don't mean the books by Joan Chittister either (ahem, sister). But rather, quite to my surprise several copies of one of Christopher Hitchen's lastest attempts at writing a book, namely "God is not so Great How Religion Poisons Everything." Quite a surprising find I must say. Well yes, I had a quick peek, only to discover a lot of drivel but it does raise the question of just why they would sell that kind of literature and make a profit out of it? Where does one draw the line?

If the excuse is to let Catholics see the "other side" I must say that just doesn't cut it. While we no longer have an index of forbidden books Catholics are still required to be responsible in their reading and not to endanger their faith. To expose all and sundry's curiosity to such a book is not a good idea. I don't think we'd play such a loose game if the matter were physical rather than spiritual health. Secondly, I'm quite sure there are many other places such a book could be bought if someone is really that desperate (and desperate you'd have to be).

Oh but I did also notice one small copy of a book that's supposed to answer all these atheists. What a relief. Diversity is saved.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

New Directions

You are probably wondering about the future of this blog.

Generally I am keeping it in the same direction as it has been going with general discussion on liturgical praxis and some comments upon current church politics. Hopefully I will get some new authors soon to provide some different perspectives. The idea being to liven up the debate a bit, and to put out some challenges to both hard line traditionalists and hardline liberals.

Farewell to Roman

Thanks Roman for your final post and I pray for you in your new life as a seminarian.

Being involved in this blog has demonstrated to me the power of the internet. Meeting Roman has enabled me to get involved with a wider spectrum of the church and I think that it has opened up a wider spectrum of the church for him. We have assisted together in a number of Masses ranging from solemn Masses in the extraordinary form, Reform-of-the-reform Masses in the ordinary form, Solemn Pontifical Masses (the most significant being the Pontifical Mass celebrated by H.E. Cardinal Levada Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in the Cathedral) and the more left-wing weirdo Masses such as the annual "multicultural" Mass in the Archdiocese.

Cardinal Levada is received at St Stephens Cathedral, Brisbane 6th Sunday after Easter 2008

Most importantly we learned from each other, and that is how liturgy goes through its organic growth through the ages. People corresponding with each other, experimenting with what works and what doesnt work, comparing notes and passing learnings on.

I remember that Benedict XVI, in his book A New Song for the Lord recounts how he laid the cornerstone of the new seminary in Munich in 1981 and chose the following verse:

Like living stones let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1Pet. 2:5).

He goes on to describe how seminarians let themselves to be moulded like stones by the stonecutter, to enable that spiritual house to be built. The seminary life is that carving. I pray that he will be a holy priest who ministers not as some social worker in fancy dress (or in normal clothes like a lot of them are) but as a priest through who his parishioners see God, and through whom they humbly receive the sacraments.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

And the journey continues ever on

I realise that it has been a while since I last posted on this weblog. Unfortunately many things manage to conspire to keep the wicked at work.

At any rate with Roman's "retirement" it falls to myself and Stephen to keep the ball rolling that started over two years ago. With that I intend to try and impart my own small contribution of momentum to the effort, God willing.

Longtime devoted readers of this blog will recall my last posts which analyzed and critiqued certain sections of Richard Dawkin's
The God Delusion that dealt quite woefully with the five ways (quinque viae) of St Thomas Aquinas. Unfamiliar readers may like to go back and consult them. You can find the main ones here, here, here, and here.

Needless to say my understanding of these matters has deepened appreciably since I last wrote these posts. Today I would have written them differently.

Finally readers should feel free to raise any matters even slightly related to such posts even if they are just questions which they would like to see dealt with. Philosophical inquiry thrives on a mutal exchange of ideas and the shared pursuit of the Truth.

So here's hoping for some more philosophy in the future.

My Final Blog post…..

Thank you dear readers for reading this blog, you have viewed and several of you have participated in my growth and formation in to a Catholic male. Clearly this is not the end of my growth; I have yet many, many year’s ahead of me. But I believe my formation is sufficient for the time being and sufficient enough for me to find my identity as a person and my identity with in the church.

You may have noticed at the start of this blog, I was a young fiery up-start, gloating of good on an MC I was, and spouting my ill informed and amateur observations of the church. I’d like to think that I have learned my lessons and have come along way since those days. I am still young and still in need of a proper formation, and perhaps a few more humbling experiences.

I wish to identify myself no longer as a traditionalist, or even a neo-conservative, but rather as a pure and straight Catholic. I have found very grievous and perilous flaws in both mentalities. Liberalism and poorly veiled Marxism are not very good fits for my mindset. Charismatics, Neocats, SedeVacantisis, Jansenists and Ultramontists, all have been on my journey so far, all of them tend to exult particular view points and mindsets, yet they all somehow fall down, at one stage or another. People within the church are very human or so I’ve gathered, they all seem to be divided against themselves, even those who are on the “side of the angels”. Yet somehow we retain at least the outward appearance of unity. The Orthodox and Anglicans, -well at least a few of them- I hold in great esteem, as they all have their particular gifts and charisms, yet they fail to unite themselves together.

Little enclaves of battle hardened and warped traditionalists, thousands of new movements spring up trying to reinvent the wheel, elitist homeschoolers and finally the old guard of the parishes who tend to have a more liberal outlook, and finally those who like to borrow complete ideas and mindsets from our separated brethren, all form the body of Christ in Australia. All of them either claim to be the flying the standard of the church with papal mandate or some sort of mandate (usually the holy spirit’s).

At the centre of all this, are our bishops. Men who have impossible positions,- apparently at their ordinations, a bull’s eye is painted on their backs. They tend to cop flak from all possible angles, either from the traditionalists demanding a return to so called “tradition” or the liberals demanding some outrageous idea (women priests, married priests, selling of church assets, the list goes on). These bishops are frequently ridiculed, mocked and harassed by overzealous faithfully (myself included on many occasions), yet they are the ones who are the ones who administer the best medicine for our souls. Perhaps the wisdom of some is lacking, or the actions, either way, these men are the best and brightest we have, they tend not to be too blunt and they certainly are aware of what lay people think. Spare a thought and a pray for them,: when ever they do something, everyone pipes up and says it’s wrong. I have learnt to have great respect for these men, no matter how “dissenting, liberal or far rightwing” they tend to be.

As a man interested in the liturgy, I tend to like both the ordinary and the extra ordinary form of the Roman rite,; both forms have the potential for a lot of liturgical fun. The Ukrainian rite and other venerable rites of the church, are not exactly substandard or foreign forms, -they are great treasures of the church. The Church revolves around Rome, but that doesn’t mean the Roman rite of the Mass is the be all and end all,; after all, Christ’s Passover would share more in common with the eastern rites, than those of the west. Perhaps it would have been better for the “extra ordinary form” to have died out after the council,; this might of lead to a quicker reform of the reform, or perhaps it would have gone down hill. Either way, the church and history has judged a different verdict.

With this post I have committed a most grievous sin, I have spoken my mind. Yes, yes, I am just some smart assed kid who thinks he knows something. Perhaps some of you will scrupulously look over my post and point out its flaws and heresies (a certain jansenist I know certainly will). The reality is, or what I have come to as a conclusion is, we are all a very flawed people, we are all divided and we are all pushing our own ideological wheel barrows, but somehow we are all outsmarted enough or forced enough to be cooped up in the Bark of Peter. As much as we hate it, the strumming guitarist has to co-exist with the schola member; the traditional way has to co-exist with the new evangelisation. East has to put up with West and we all have to put up with the Charismatics. But perhaps it would be wise to return to the good old parish….

This blog will continue to be maintained by my co-blogger Stephen, but I, at last, have decided to shut my big mouth and abandoned my enclave in cyber space. Where and What I am doing, should be bloody obvious to the learned among you. I leave for the next step of my journey, for my new adventures and for my continual formation.

Good bye, God Bless and Pray for me


P.S. comment now or forever hold your peace.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Discussion on Vatican II

I note that with the excommunications of the SSPX plus the 50th anniversary of the announcement of the Second Vatican Council, now there is discussion on what Vatican II was supposed to be.

I note also that the left wing of the church must be in defence mode because of this article that I read, where to the lseft wing "Spirit of Vatican II" crowd we are not supposed to read the documents as they were written but to understand all the background arguments first before putting any credence on the actual documents. obviously they are finding the actual documents too "conservative".

This is the same silly argument run by opponents of Vatican II (such as the SSPX) from the opposite tack.

Hey guys - the documents are the documents that were voted on. Read them. There is no further interpretation, just further understanding. (btw I am one of the few people who have sat down and actually read them and hope to do so again during Lent).

By the way, much of the arguments around St Marys of Brisbane are actually around Vatican II and its interpretation. We wait to hear news on that count.

A New Age

I was wondering whether to call this post "a new reformation" but I decided against that. Things are happening in the church so quickly now that I feel that the best analogy of the "barque of Peter" is that we are white water rafting, and Pope Benedict is our captain.

A couple of observations which continue from my previous post on the Church in Brisbane in 2059. On speaking to a couple of colleagues on the weekend was the observation that there are three main groupings or "demographics" that have emerged in the church today. These are:

  • the cultural Catholics
  • Catholics for tradition
  • charismatic Catholics

The first is the Catholics like my parents who were brought up in a closed Catholic community , and Catholicsm is denoted by family and parish ties. They are not all that religious, but insist on attending Mass because that is what they were brought up with (including the fact that not attending Sunday Mass is a mortal sin). They also place most emphasis on the tribal aspect of the Catholicism that they grew up with. This is interesting, because if you see sites such as Catholica, it is very strongly on the bent that the tribal aspect of the catholicism that they were brought up with (ie. Irish/Australian Catholicism) has to be preserved at all costs. All doctrine goes out the window to maintain the comfort of existing parish and community groups (ie so goes the argument that one sees on that website continually that we need married and female clergy, selected by the community (or the tribe), to maintain the Eucharist on Sunday). Rome is seen as a hostile outsider.

It is predicted that this aspect of catholicism will fade with time , and varous estimates range from 20 years (mine) to 5 years before its extinction.

This leaves the other two groups , who will determine the church's future. As i mentioned before, these two groups will be in conflict but an interesting observation on the weekend was that the traditionalist communities do get people from charismatic groups looking for that added sense of mystery, so there is some cross-over and commonality.

I was inclined to call the second group of Catholics the Latin Mass Catholics but I widened it to all Catholics who are attached to the traditions of the church. This would broadly include both the strict Extraordinary form catholics as well as the reform-of the-reform movement. The latter is not visible in Brisbane but emerges through some of the different movements in the local church. Its outward manifestations include the use of mantillas by women, traditional devotions and Holy Communion exclusively received on the tongue.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Communion from the Tabernacle

Acceptance and adoption of new directives such as the Australian bishops promulgation of the new GIRM, tend to take on some strange twists and emphases.

One such instruction that has been interpreted literally by local priests is the instruction that Holy Communion MUST be from hosts consecrated at that particular Mass that the communicant is attending. If this does not happen some liturgists or priests who feel that they are liturgical authorities get very angry. In their view people MUST receive communion from bread and wine consecrated at that Mass. We will take a trip through history to see where this has come from.

The earliest reference to the desirability comes from Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei. He in turn quotes from Pope Benedict XIV (reigned 1740-1758).

"And although in addition to those to whom the celebrant gives a portion of the Victim he himself has offered in the Mass, they also participate in the same sacrifice to whom a priest distributes the Blessed Sacrament that has been reserved; however, the Church has not for this reason ever forbidden, nor does she now forbid, a celebrant to satisfy the piety and just request of those who, when present at Mass, want to become partakers of the same sacrifice, because they likewise offer it after their own manner, nay more, she approves of it and desires that it should not be omitted and would reprehend those priests through whose fault and negligence this participation would be denied to the faithful."(Encyclical Letter Certiores effecti, par. 3.)

Furthermore Pius XII states that :

Now it is very fitting, as the liturgy otherwise lays down, that the people receive holy communion after the priest has partaken of the divine repast upon the altar; and, as we have written above, they should be commended who, when present at Mass, receive hosts consecrated at the same Mass, so that it is actually verified, "that as many of us, as, at this altar, shall partake of and receive the most holy body and blood of thy Son, may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace."[Mediator Dei para 121].

The constitution on the sacred liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium states that:
That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended. (n55)
which really is a repeat of Mediator Dei.
The may 2007 edition of the GIRM states it again:
It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s
Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated (n85)
Note that the terms over the centuries are desirable, strongly commended, fitting, desires.
However, it is not something to get totally our liturgical nickers in a knot about if not everyone can receive from the hosts consecrated at Mass. It is good practice to provide as much as possible by estimating as accurately as one can, as to how many hosts are needed. What we need to wipe out is the remaining practices where all the hosts are got from the tabernacle.