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.