Tuesday, July 31, 2007

St. James Cathedral

Somehow, in passing conversation with a non-Catholic friend, the architecture of our local Bremerton parish (Our Lady Star of the Sea, pictured below) came up. My friend had attended a wedding there once upon a time some ten years ago. But he never forgot what he described as, "One of the most beautiful churches in this area."

To be sure, Our Lady Star of the Sea, is a nice parish. But on the whole, there is nothing particularly remarkable about its elegant, yet simple, structure. So I asked my non-Catholic friend if he had ever been to the St. James Cathedral in downtown Seattle. He said no, and I told him he really should, if he was impressed with Star.

But all of this got me to wondering: What did our cathedral look like prior to its "renovation?"

I have no recollection of there ever being a renovation; but I'd be willing to wager my right leg the altar now sitting in the center of the nave is not to be found in the original blueprints.

Curious, I poked around on the Internet.

Here is a photo taken in 1907:

Notice the beautiful baldacchino, altar rail, and statues of Mary and Joseph (presumably on left and right, respectively).

All of which is no more.

Below is another picture; this one from 1929, still long before Vatican II, the "spirit" of which Modernists would soon use as their carte blanche commission to usher in the jackhammers and usher out the high altar.

And no cathedral would be complete without a side altar...

...side-baldacchino and all.

Contrast these pictures of yester-year with the new look:

Where the high altar used to be, the choir now sits.

In the words of architect Stephen Lee,
"The 1994 renovation and renewal began with an awareness that older church interiors were typically ill-suited to the reformed rites of Vatican II, which call for a change in the focus of liturgical action, to the gathered assembly."

I guess it never occurred to Lee that when a religion focuses liturgical action (i.e. worship) on the people, little room is left for God. Then again, maybe that's giving Lee (& friends) too much credit. Perhaps they were not so naive at all.

Contrast the thoughts of the cathedral's re-designer with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy:

"The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is locked into itself...As one of the fathers of Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy, J.A. Jungmann, put it, it was much more a question of priest and people facing in the same direction, knowing that together they were in a procession toward the Lord. They did not lock themselves into a circle, they did not gaze at one another, but as the pilgrim People of God they set off for the Oriens, for the Christ who comes to meet us...."


I'll take the design of 1907 over that of 2007 any day.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Coincidence? I think not.

Having just posted and commented on Sister Joan Chittister's reaction to Pope Benedict's broadening of the Traditional Latin Mass, I happened to visit Western Washington University Senior, Corina Jones' blog.

Imagine my surprise in reading her latest entry:

I was fortunate enough today to attend a Tridentine Mass in Canada with a couple of my friends. What a beautiful celebration of the most blessed sacrament of the altar!

I have always been told that the Latin Mass was difficult to follow and that it is hard to feel connected to the Mass when the priest has his back to the congregation. Now that I have experienced this Mass for myself I can say that I felt neither lost nor disconnected. In fact, I felt more connected the Mass than I have in a long time.

I realized what Mass should be about, the Blessed Sacrament. It is not supposed to make one focus on how the choir sounds, what songs are sung, who's wearing what, how are the Lectors, and does the priest 'speak to me'. It is not about how I feel, it is about the most holy Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament, the sacrifice of the altar.

Because it was a High Mass, the congregation participated in the responses, all sung in Latin. I sometimes found myself struggling to keep up in the Latin/English guide, but that made me actually pay attention to what was happening in the Liturgy. There was also a communion rail which I thought was awesome! It allowed us to kneel in front of the most blessed Eucharist and to not feel out of place receiving on the tongue. I was a little bit nervous that I was the only woman without a veil, but then I saw a few others who weren't wearing one. The veils were beautiful, and I am almost tempted to start wearing one myself. The Gregorian Chant choir made the Mass even more beautiful.

I am so happy that I was able to have this experience and I hope to attend many more Tridentine masses in the future. If you ever get a chance to go, I would highly reccommend it!

God Bless!

This would be the difference between many Catholic women born in 1936, and those born in 1986.

Oh Sister Joan...

Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, would be your run-of-the-mill gray-haired, 60-something, Call to Action, We Are Church, militant feminist "religious" whose efforts to destroy the Church from within have run their course. Scratch that -- Chittister is 71 years old.

And like those who have made the attempt before her, Sister Joan has failed. All there is left to do now is stand by and witness the wailing and writhing of her activism death throws. For death, while imminent and weighing upon us all, is all the more so upon failed activist septuagenarians.

Her July 10 article in the leftist National Catholic Reporter provides for a good case in point. Here she bemoans the July 7, 2007 Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI granting wider access to the Traditional Latin Mass.

But why the concerns? If some people prefer a Latin mass to an English mass, why not have it?

The answer depends on what you think the Mass has to do with articulating the essence of the Christian faith.

These lines could have been penned by the Holy Father himself. Not so the following:

The Latin Mass, for instance, in which the priest celebrates the Eucharist with his back to the people, in a foreign language -- much of it said silently or at best whispered -- makes the congregation, the laity, observers of the rite rather than participants in it.

"Foreign language" has the desired negative connotation. Latin is the sacred language of the Church; not the "foreign" language of the Church. (I wonder if Sister Joan would employ such terminology in a debate about the use of EspaƱol in America?)

Chittister's misrepresentation of Latin I can stomach. Her misrepresentation of those attending a Traditional Latin Mass, I can not. (This is not a self-defense argument; I have attended a grand total of two Latin Masses in my lifetime.)

It is true that participation at the Novus Ordo Mass appears different from the TLM. But the misjudgment based on appearance, while entirely understandable for non-Catholics or even lax-Catholics to make, is a gross error and in all likelihood a purposeful act of deception for someone as versed in Catholicism as Chittister.

In the Traditional Rite, most everything is indeed done by the priest. But we do not measure participation in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass by how much we, the laity, are doing...or swaying...or pounding on drums.

Full and active participation can be had by simply uniting our own hearts to that of Christ on the Cross; Christ whose death on Calvary Hill is made present for us at every Mass -- Old Rite, or New.

Back to Sister Joan:

The celebrant becomes the focal point of the process, the special human being, the one for whom God is a kind of private preserve.

The symbology of a lone celebrant, removed from and independent of the congregation, is clear: ordinary people have no access to God. They are entirely dependent on a special caste of males to contact God for them. They are "not worthy," to receive the host, or as the liturgy says now, even to have Jesus "come under my roof."

That's exactly right.

The celebrant becomes the focal point of the process (as opposed to the congregation) because the priest is acting in persona-Christi. He acts in the person of Christ. We see with our eyes a man, 5'10", dark hair, no beard, mounting the steps of the altar. We should see with our eyes of faith Jesus Christ, mounting the hill of Calvary. And seeing Christ with our eyes of faith is made much easier when the celebrant is not "on stage," facing us as an actor who entertains; but at the altar, as a priest offering sacrifice on our behalf.

The symbology of a lone celebrant -- who is both Priest and Victim -- is precisely the way God has ordained it: unus enim Deus unus et mediator Dei et hominum homo Christus Iesus. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Tim 2:5

Until Christ, the ordinary man had remote, distant access to God. Heaven itself was shut to all of mankind, ordinary and extraordinary alike.

With Christ, ordinary men have regained intimate union with Our Lord; in some ways, beyond that which even Adam and Eve had before The Fall. But the union comes to us through the Sacraments, and therefore through those ordained members of Christ's priesthood.

Oh, and we will always remain unworthy to receive the King of Kings. For we are sinful creatures. And he -- he is God.

H/T: Lord That I May See

Friday, July 27, 2007


I thought this was kinda cool.

Pope Leo X (b. 1475, d. 1521)
500 years ago:

Pope Benedict XVI (b. 1927)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Republican Primaries

I stumbled across this excellent article on presidential-hopeful Ron Paul today. The more I learn about Paul, the more I like him. To be honest, I was very skeptical of him early on -- in large part because of his libertarian tendencies.

But after reading this piece my prejudice is waning; he may be the man the for the job. In particular, the last paragraph resonated with my own convictions, and dispelled reservations about Ron Paul:

I think libertarians are about half right, but have this sort of autistic tendency to assume humans are perfectly rational, and in extreme cases, makes for ridiculous policy prescriptions. However, I can strategically support a libertarian like Paul for President, as the President controls our enemy, the federal government, and a libertarian will weaken the power of my enemy. In fact, I think government ought to be powerful in inverse proportion to its size. I would prefer authoritarian local government (as do most people, when you look at the subdivision restrictions most people are more than happy to submit to), a conservative state government, and to the extent necessary, a libertarian federal government.

Read the whole thing. It's worth it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

de Sales

Enough nonsense.

Let us listen to the wisdom of Saint Francis de Sales.

"Every moment comes to us pregnant with a command from God, only to pass on and plunge into eternity, there to remain forever what we have made of it."

"The virtue of patience is the one which most assures us of perfection."

"To be pleased at correction and reproofs shows that one loves the virtues which are contrary to those faults for which he is corrected and reproved. And, therefore, it is a great sign of advancement in perfection."

"Our greatest fault is that we wish to serve God in our way, not in His way- according to our will, not according to His will. When He wishes us to be sick, we wish to be well; when He desires us to serve Him by sufferings, we desire to serve Him by works; when He wishes us to exercise charity, we wish to exercise humility; when He seeks from us resignation, we wish for devotion, a spirit of prayer or some other virtue. And this is not because the things we desire may be more pleasing to Him, but because they are more to our taste. This is certainly the greatest obstacle we can raise to our own perfection, for it is beyond doubt that if we were to wish to be Saints according to our own will, we shall never be so at all. To be truly a Saint, it is necessary to be one according to the will of God."

"Consider all the past as nothing, and say, like David: Now I begin to love my God."

"Catholics" For a Free Choice (to kill babies)

You may have heard of the organization, "Catholics For a Free Choice."

Their name almost says it all.

The title of this post does.

Though undeserving, I thought I might comment on their work. After all we are in the midst of a Culture War (and losing), and we better know who our enemies are. Catholics For a Free Choice (to kill babies; by the way, why do they always forget that part?) would be one such enemy.

Browsing their website, I came upon the following statement meant to inspire monetary donations to their cause:

Catholic or not, the Catholic church’s role in influencing public policy affects YOU through limiting the availability of reproductive health services.

Help us fight back.
Make a contribution today.

This was sufficient confirmation that members of CFFC are not really Catholic at all.

"Help us fight back."

Fight back? Against what?

Against the Catholic Church.

It is impossible to be a Catholic and fight against the Catholic Church. The Church is not a democracy. It is not a social institution. It is not a political lobbying group.

What it is, is the Body of Christ. So to "fight against" the Church is to fight against Christ.

The page describing the work done by CFFC was also very revealing. Allow me to post their statements, followed by a translation which helps to clear away the euphemistic smoke-screen.

Where We Are

We are in parishes.
From California to Vermont, prochoice Catholics speak up for reproductive rights. CFFC's grassroots network, with leaders in 40 US states, promotes a prochoice Catholic perspective, brings together and supports Catholic activists for reproductive health and rights and initiates dialogue on abortion with people of varied perspectives.

Translation: We are in parishes.
From California to Vermont, pro-abortionists-who-like-to-think-of-themselves-as-Catholics speak against the constitutional right to life in favor of a mother's 1973 license to kill her unborn baby. CFFC(to kill babies)'s grassroots network, with leaders in 40 US states, promotes a pro-abortion anti-Catholic perspective, brings together and supports anti-Catholic activists for baby killing and works to convince others that abortion isn't such a bad thing.

We are in clinics.
Family planning decision can be difficult. CFFC helps Catholic women to make thoughtful decisions through respected publications that address Catholic doctrine and the moral and ethical issues involved in reproductive health decisions.

Translation: We are in clinics.
Killing your baby can be difficult. CFFC(to kill babies) helps Catholic women to suppress their conscience and maternal instinct through publications that denounce Catholic doctrine and the moral and ethical problems involved with killing your baby.

By the way, Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska publicly excommunicated members of CCFC in 1996.

But as Diogenes points out, that immediately raises some serious questions. If membership in CFFC "puts one outside the Church Universal in Nebraska, one is moved to wonder what climatological factors make it OK in ... say ... Michigan.

Or Wisconsin.

Or Florida ..."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ron Paul

Maybe you've been wondering why Republican candidates like Ron Paul never get more than three seconds on the alphabet channels.

Here's why.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

German Coast Guard


...because it's only the best commercial ever made.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tag Team

Be sure to read Andrew St.Hilaire's latest blog entry.

If I had to list only three controversies about which I grow more confident with each passing day they would be:

1) The Catholic Church.

2) The evil of abortion.

3) The absolute necessity of using pictures of abortion to end abortion.

I have blogged about #3 in the past. The latest entry by my good friend Andrew in many ways makes up for the insufficiencies of my own. In short, he makes for a great tag team.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Man's Inhumanity to Man

Have you seen this?

Young Iraqi boys, some tied to their cribs, lie on the floor at a Baghdad orphanage on June 10, 2007, after they were discovered by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. A total of 24 naked and abused boys, ages 3 to 15 years old, were found in a darkened room without any windows. Many of the children were too weak to stand once released. A locked room full of food and clothing was found nearby.

A young boy lies on the floor tethered to his crib in an orphanage in Baghdad's Fajr neighborhood after it was raided by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers who discovered a total of 24 naked and abused boys, ages 3 to 15 years old, in a darkened room without any windows.

The soldiers found kitchen shelves packed with food in the stock room. Instead of giving it to the boys, the soldiers believe it was being sold to local markets.

U.S. and Iraqi soldiers provide medical care to boys discovered naked and abused in a Baghdad orphanage on June 10, 2007. Soldiers found 24 severely malnourished boys, some tied to their beds, in the orphanage, yet there was a room full of food and clothing nearby.

A U.S. soldier carries one of the boys found naked and abused at a Baghdad orphanage to an ambulance on June 10, 2007.

Seeing these images effects such an emotional tug on the human heart that, for a fleeting moment, one wonders if the War itself is justifyable for the sake of rescuing this little ones alone.

But let us imagine a hypothetical.

Suppose you discovered that this terrible injustice happened here in one of our own orphanages. Suppose, again for the sake of argument, that you managed to get photos like these of the crime.

What do you think? Ought you use the graphic evidence of horrific injustice to pull back the veil of four cement walls -- difficult as the pictures are to look at -- so that others might be outraged as well?

Or, should you instead just cover the pictures up, and try to convince people using words only, that such terrible injustice is being done to innocent children?


I rest my case.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


If you want to enjoy a pleasant afternoon, do not read this or this on the third judge Bush has nominated to fill a vacancy on the Fifth Circuit.

With the Dems in control (cf., What a shame), and the Republicans playing nice (that is, not standing up for the President's constitutional right to nominate federal judges), we may as well send Judge Southwick packing. The Harry Reid's and Pat Leahy's of the Senate are sending a clear message: Conservative judges need not apply.

Non-Criminal Illegality

Diogenes at his best.

A quick question for Archbishop Marchetto:

If you're living in a country illegally, how do you go about showing your respect for that country's laws?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vote Pro-Choice?

Another discussion on Facebook led to the question of whether one incurs the guilt of sin by voting for a pro-choice politician. Here is a snippet of the conversation I had with Whitney, which bounced around from moral relativism to abortion:

"The world isn't black and white." -Whitney

There are many, many things that are black and white. It would be more accurate to say, "The world isn't just shades of gray."

Rape is, and always will be wrong.
Abortion is, and always will be wrong.
Giving to the poor is, and always will be good.
Visiting the imprisoned is, and always will be good.

"You can be a Catholic and support this secular country at the same time." -Whitney

True. But you cannot be Catholic and support homosexual behavior. Or abortion. Or prostitution.

"Its not like if you voted for a pro-choice candidate, you'd go to hell or be punished." -Whitney

There are certain practices and sins which will lead one to hell. That is what Christ taught anyway. And it doesn't appear the way to heaven will be easy.

Quite the opposite, really: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14)

If only Our Lord had said, "the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to heaven."

But back to your point about voting pro-choice. By voting pro-choice (where there is an alternative), one is actively participating in the sin of abortion. This co-operation in the evil of abortion may or may not be mortal (i.e., deadly, and incurring the punishment of hell) depending on the state of the individual who is casting the ballot. Only God knows the state of his soul. But we can objectively say, "Voting in favor of baby-killing is gravely immoral."

Which is why I have a T-shirt which reads:

"Vote Pro-Choice" -Satan

07/07/07 (II)

In with "Dominus Vobiscum;" out with the Barney Blessing.

(Sorry - embedded was disabled.)


For a little more perspective on the Motu Proprio -- consider that it means in with the Traditional Latin Mass; out with the Clown Mass.

(If you can stomache watching, you'll learn the deep symbolism of clown-ology when the timer reads about 8 minutes, and get a spark of excitement at about 4 minutes. Please stand for the Creed.)

More Facebook

So I spent the evening debating on Facebook. Most of it was on the topic of human sexuality. But I much prefer the discussions about Christianity. Pasted below is one such (hasty) post of dialogue between myself and Kevin (Facebook members can find the entire thread here):

"and how do we know Christ is the last prophet and the Bible is the final authority." -Kevin

Well, ultimately, it isn't something we can prove. Just as, ultimately, Christ being the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity isn't something we can "prove."

But I think the evidence amounts up fairly well. For both cases.

I'll address (briefly) the case you raise. How do we know Christ is the last prophet? Well, this assumes he was sent by God. And if he was sent by God, then what he said was true. And he claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed to *be* God.

And then, he claimed to build a church (singular) which would last until the end of time.

"He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." -Matthew 16:15-19

There is no reference to future prophets, as always present in the Old Testament there is a reference to the coming of the Messiah.

All of the prophets of the Old Testament were but foreshadowing the Prophet of the New. Even John the Baptist, Christ's cousin was preparing the way for the Lord.

So it doesn't seem to follow that there would be yet another prophet *after* Christ (although this is the belief of Mormons with regard to Joseph Smith).

After Christ, came the Church which he established to guide and protect his flock. He tells Peter, "Feed my sheep...Feed my lambs...Feed my sheep." -John chapter 21

Peter died, but passed on the duty of shepherding Christ's flock here on earth to Linus. Who died, and passed it on to Cletus. Who died, and passed it to Clement...down to John Paul II who died and passed it to Benedict XVI.

You can find the full list here:

"hypothetically, any of the "recent" churches could have been created directly by God to supplement his previous teachings. so even if they are radical, we cant say for nsure they are incorrect" -Kevin

But such a claim would fly in the face of Matthew 16:18 (quoted above) where Our Lord himself says, "the gates of hell will not prevail against [my church]."

A church that claims divine origin has to also claim the church Christ founded collapsed (incidentally, this is the belief of the Mormon church).

But it seems to me, that to believe that, you have to believe Our Lord was either a fool (for making promises he could not keep) or a liar (for making promises he could not keep). I reject both conclusions.

"and for some of the older teachings, its possible the've been lost in translation from the past..how do we knoew this is what was originally taught..over 2000 years its pretty safe to say teachings will change" -Kevin

Then everything gets called into question and no one nor anything (including the Bible) is to be trusted.

But history shows that there has been only one church since the time of Christ: the Catholic Church.

Christ founded it, so I'm in. I don't want to be a member of a church founded by any man or woman. I want to be in the one founded by God himself.

The absurdity of abortion

G.K. Chesterton summed it up quite well:

"Let all the babies be born. Then let us drown those we do not like."

Monday, July 9, 2007

Stomache in a knot

The 2004 presidential election was one of the most important of the last 30 years for anyone concerned with the moral direction of this country.

Most fortunate for social conservatives, George W. Bush beat out John Kerry. The vital importance of the '04 election stemmed primarily from the political make-up of the Supreme Court.

Going into 2005, the court had (for all practical purposes) five solid liberal votes (Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer, O'Connor) three solid conservative votes (Rehnquist, Thomas, Scalia) and one swing vote (Kennedy).

But both liberals and conservatives realized that many on the court were aging. Indeed, two seats were given up in 2005 (one through the Chief Justice's death, one through O'Connor's retirement).

Had Kerry won the election, there can be little doubt the court would be split decisively 6-2-1 (liberal-conservative-swing). As it is, the court sits firmly at 4-4-1.

But if winning in 2004 was of grave importance, it seems 2008 is shaping up to be at least as far-reaching. Take a listen to this analysis from Bench Memos.

Gloom and Doom for the Left? [Matthew J. Franck]

Mournful violins are playing behind Linda Greenhouse's NYT "Week in Review" article today, in which she posits a gloomy present—and probably a gloomier near future—for liberals who pin their hopes for policy change on the Supreme Court. For my part, I don't know why the left should be so lugubrious about the term just past, considering a) what still survives of the Warren and Burger Court legacies of judicial liberalism, and b) how few Supreme Court appointments liberal presidents have made in the last forty years (exactly two, both of them Bill Clinton's).

There's much worth comment in Greenhouse's article, but this particular assertion caught my eye:

Even if the Democrats win the White House and hold the Senate [in 2008], the court's demographics are likely to trump politics. The average age of the four more liberal justices is 74; the five conservatives average a youthful (for federal judges) 61, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. the youngest at 52.

There are a couple of curious things about this account. First, these averages obscure more than they reveal. We should, as my social scientist pals say, disaggregate the data (there are only nine of these people, after all). Second, remember that justices generally depart one at a time (2005 was a fluke with Chief Justice Rehnquist's death closely following Justice O'Connor's retirement), and in a Court this closely divided, any single departure can make a world of difference. Here are the justices in order of seniority of service (not of age) with the chief listed first, and their birth years following:

Roberts 1955
Stevens 1920
Scalia 1936
Kennedy 1936
Souter 1939
Thomas 1948
Ginsburg 1933
Breyer 1938
Alito 1950

Leaving aside Justice Stevens, who is the Court's only octogenarian, there are five justices born in the 1930s, only three of them solid liberals (including the two youngest in this group) and I would be hard put to predict that any of them, even Justice Ginsburg with her reported health troubles, would leave the Court sooner than any of the others. And suppose Democrats control the presidency and the Senate when one of the liberals retires? Then they have an opportunity to maintain the status quo, which is really not that bad for them. But now suppose that Kennedy or (worse yet) Scalia goes when Democrats control the appointment process? Then the left achieves a great victory. So why the gloomy scenario painted by Greenhouse?

Assume, as a bad case for Republicans, the not unlikely future of an eight-year Democratic administration accompanied by a Democratic Senate. By the end of the year 2016 only Roberts, Thomas, and Alito will still be younger than 70. Kennedy and Scalia will both be 80 that year. It would not be highly improbable to see as many as six of the current justices replaced over those eight years, if all are still serving on inauguration day 2009. Roberts, Thomas, and Alito could be a pretty lonely crew if all those seats are filled by liberals.

Think about that again. The next president has the opportunity to appoint as many as half a dozen justices to the Court. Contrary to Greenhouse's account, the future is wide open for both parties, and the 2008 election looks more important than ever.

If that doesn't put your stomache in a knot, I'm not sure what will.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

St. Alphonsus de Liguori

The Wife and I have been reading a little from The Glories of Mary, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Suffice it to say, I highly recommend the book to all Christians.

Not a few passages struck me, and so I thought I would share at least a couple of them with you, my faithful blog readers.

But again, we are exceedingly dear to Mary on the account of the sufferings we cost her. Mothers generally love those children most, the preservation of whose lives has cost them the most suffering and anxiety; we are those children for whom Mary, in order to obtain for us the life of grace, was obliged to endure the bitter agony of herself offering her beloved Jesus to die an ignominious death, and had also to see him expire before her own eyes in the midst of the most cruel and unheard-of torments. It was then by this great offering of Mary that we were born to the life of grace; we are therefore her very dear children since we cost her so great suffering. And thus, as it is written of the love of the Eternal Father towards men, in giving his own Son to death for us, that God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son. "So also," says St. Bonaventure, "we can say of Mary, that she has so loved us as to give her only begotten Son for us."

"If a mother," continues St. Bernard, "knew that her two sons bore a mortal enmity to each other, and that each plotted against the other's life, would she not exert herself to her utmost in order to reconcile them? This would be the duty of a good mother. And thus it is," the saint goes on to say, "that Mary acts; for she is the mother of Jesus, and the mother of men. When she sees a sinner at enmity with Jesus Christ, she cannot endure it, and does all in her power to make peace between them. Oh happy Mary, thou art the mother of the criminal and the mother of the Judge; and being the mother of both, they are thy children, and thou canst not endure discords among them."


I am a wretched sinner, who, more than all others, have despised the infinite majesty of God, but the evil is done. To thee I have recourse; thou canst help me; my mother, help me. Say not that thou canst not do so; for I know that thou art all powerful, and that thou obtainest whatever thou desirest of God; and if thou sayest that thou wilt not help me, tell me at least to whom I can apply in this my so great misfortune. "Either pity my," will I say with Saint Anselm, "oh my Jesus, and forgive me, and do thou pity me, my mother Mary, by interceding for me, or at least tell me to whom I can have recourse, who is more compassionate, or in whom I can have greater confidence than thee." Oh no; neither on earth nor in heaven can I find any one who has more compassion for the miserable. You both love the most miserable, and go seeking them in order to save them. I deserve hell, and am the most miserable of all. But you need not seek me, nor do I presume to ask so much. I now present myself before you with a certain hope that I shall not be abandoned.

Behold me at your feet my Jesus, forgive me; my mother Mary, help me.

What we have to look forward to

Summorum Pontificum

Pope Benedict's release of the motu proprio entitled, "Summorum Pontificum" has generated headlines across the globe. But of all the articles one might read, I recommend this one from Catholic World News.

In it you will find a refreshing, orthodox perspective and analysis. Below I have posted excerpts (and my own commentary) for those who would rather pass up the wonderful opportunity to read it in full. ;)

The long-awaited motu proprio, which had been the subject of intensive speculation within the Church for more than a year, gives every priest the right to celebrate the Mass using the 1962 Missal, and instructs pastors to "willingly accept" requests from the faithful for access to the older liturgical form.

The 1962 Missal is more commonly referred to as the "Tridentine Mass" or the "Traditional Latin Mass." Some of the major differences (from the current Roman Missal, or "Novus Ordo" celebration at your typical Catholic parish) being a Mass almost entirely said in Latin, and the priest facing with the people -- not at them.

The new canonical norms established by Pope Benedict will take effect on September 14.

Pope Benedict emphasizes that there are not two different rites, but two different forms of the Roman rite: the ordinary form, according to the current Roman Missal, and the extraordinary form, which uses the Missal that was in universal use prior to the liturgical changes that followed the Second Vatican Council.

You can find and read the motu proprio issued on Saturday by the Holy Father here. And you can find the text of the Pope's accompanying letter, explaining the move here.

[In his letter, t]he Pope also acknowledges that some Catholics find a greater sense of reverence in the older liturgy--


in what will now be known as the extraordinary form of the Roman rite.

With his motu proprio the Holy Father hopes to restore reverence through a wider use of the "extraordinary form" of the liturgy-- the Mass of the 1962 Missal. At the same time, it is clear, he hopes that the wider use of the old form, with its scrupulous attention to rubrics, will encourage a more faithful and reverent approach to the ordinary form in the Novus Ordo Mass.

What is new?

Summorum Pontificum states flatly that the old form of the Mass, the 1962 Missal, was never abrogated. Implicitly the Pope is recognizing that many faithful Catholics have suffered a grave injustice, since they were told that the old form of the liturgy was now forbidden.


At present-- until the new norms established in the motu proprio take effect on September 14-- Catholics who seek access to the old Mass must petition their diocesan bishop, who may grant permission of the use of the 1962 Missal, under the terms of Pope John Paul's Ecclesia Dei-- or he may choose not to allow it.

With his new norms Pope Benedict recognizes that many bishops have not allowed the "wide and generous" access to the old form that his predecessor had encouraged.

(including the Archbishop of Seattle...and, unless you happen to live in Nebraska, most likely your bishop as well.)

Citing St. Paul's words to the Corinthians (2 Cor 6), the Pope now exhorts all bishops: "Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows."

Sadly, as the Holy Father is well aware, most bishops need more than a simple exhortation from Rome to...listen to Rome.

Here's to the stripping of some red hats, and perhaps vigorous implementation of Canon Law 401§2 which reads, "A diocesan Bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation from office."

But I digress.

But Pope Benedict goes beyond exhortation, and establishes the rights of the faithful in terms of canon law. Every priest has the right to use the "extraordinary form," and needs no further permission. Wherever a "stable group" of parishioners asks for the old Mass, their pastor should "willingly accept" their request, the Pope adds.

Long live Pope Benedict!

In ordinary parishes he envisions the use of the "extraordinary form" for one Sunday Mass. He stipulates that the 1962 Missal should not be used for the Easter Triduum in parishes, since during the Triduum the entire parish is drawn together for the celebration in the ordinary form.

What the motu proprio is not

Because much coverage of the motu proprio has been misleading-- especially in the secular media-- it is important to be clear about several things that Summorum Pontificum does not do, and several effects that the Holy Father obviously does not intend:

1. The motu proprio does not restore the use of Latin to the liturgy. Priests have always had the right to use Latin in celebrating the Novus Ordo liturgy-- the "ordinary" form of the Roman rite. Indeed the use of Latin has always been strongly encouraged by the Vatican, even if few pastors have responded.

2. The motu proprio does not require priests to use the older liturgy. Pope Benedict is not imposing any new liturgical forms; he is allowing the faithful to make use of an old form-- which, as he carefully points out, was never banned. Those lay Catholics who prefer the post-conciliar liturgy have no cause for concern; the new liturgy will remain the commonplace experience in most parishes.


In America, the liturgy committee of the US bishops' conference has already released a special newsletter dedicated to Summorum Pontificum, including both the papal documents themselves and a series of questions and answers about the new norms and the extraordinary form of the liturgy. Particularly in light of the hostility that the US bishops' committee has sometimes exhibited toward liturgical norms from Rome, the newsletter offers a remarkably even-handed and sympathetic perspective on the motu proprio.

In particular it is gratifying to read that the US bishops' liturgy committee recognizes the many Catholics have been troubled by the Novus Ordo liturgy because of "the false sense of creativity unfortunately practiced by some in the celebration of the post-conciliar liturgical rites." Citing the words of Pope Benedict, the newsletter notes that this "creative" approach has led to "deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear." Insofar as the US bishops are now officially recognizing that experimentation has deformed the liturgy, Summorum Pontificum is already yielding rich fruit.

Friday, July 6, 2007


From Catholic World News:

Vatican, Jul. 6, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The Vatican press office has confirmed that Summorum Pontificum, the motu proprio regarding the broader use of the 1962 Roman Missal, will be released on Saturday, July 7.

Although some copies of the document-- which was sent to the world's bishops in advance-- are already in circulation, the contexts are under embargo until noon (Rome time) on July 7. CWN will respect that embargo.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Justice Supplied

Well, the New York Times is at it again.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth has yet to subside over the recent rulings of the SCOTUS. In today's weepy editorial titled "Justice Denied," the writer bemoans,

"Time and again the [Roberts] court has ruled, almost always 5-4, in favor of corporations and powerful interests while slamming the courthouse door on individuals and ideals that truly need the court’s shelter."

Au contraire.

For fifty years the Supreme Court has been slamming the courthouse door on individuals (unborn babies) and ideals (morality and a belief in God) that truly need the court's shelter.

In 1948, voluntary religious instruction was outlawed in public schools. In 1962, school prayer went. In 1963, voluntary daily reading from the Bible was declared unconstitutional. In 1973, women were granted an unrestricted right to kill the unborn. In 1980, a Kentucky law that called for posting the Ten Commandments on classroom walls was overturned because the Commandments serve "no secular purpose." In 2000, a Nebraska statute criminalizing partial birth abortion was held to be unconstitutional. In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law forbidding same-sex relations, and in the words of dissenting Justice Scalia, "signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda."

It is only in the last two years that the Court has exercised any sense of judicial restraint. But the NYT misinterprets this to be a "radical new court" with a "sharp shift to the right."

Well, I suppose the addition of Roberts and Alito constitutes a sharp shift to the right -- but from way out in left field, that leaves us somewhere near center.

Back to "Justice Denied,"

"Chief Justice Roberts said that he wanted to promote greater consensus, but he is presiding over a court that is deeply riven."

Don't buy into the rhetoric. The Supreme Court has been deeply riven for decades. Only, whereas it was once split 7-2 and 6-3, liberal/conservative, it is now split down the middle, 4-4 with Kennedy's swing vote making 9.

"The flip side of the court’s boundless solicitude for the powerful was its often contemptuous attitude toward common folks looking for justice."

Pure bunk. It was the powerful elites in Seattle who were (rightfully) held in contempt (cf., More on the Gang of 5), and it was the "common folks" of America whose desire to ban the barbaric procedure of killing half-born babies was upheld (cf., The Gang of 5).

What moved thee, O Lord?

What moved thee, O Lord,
to suffer for my sake?
I am only a poor sinner;
the worst thou didst make.

Bleeding through thy skin,
and pores aflame --
the misery begun,
for this thou came.

Stripped and bound,
scourged almost dead.
Lacerated flesh --
O, how thou bled!

Still, taken aside
mocked and scorn;
my sins the weight
forcing in each thorn.

Embracing The Cross,
Sacred Heart enflamed;
collapsing now thrice --
my guilt thou claimed.

Nails driven in
and left to die,
my Blessed Lord,
I didst crucify.

Hanging from a cross,
Christ derided and defiled;
I weep for my sins --
a sinner reconciled.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Quote of the day

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith, becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American… There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.” —Theodore Roosevelt, 1907

Who makes more money: PP or the Vatican?

If you guessed the Vatican, I'm afraid you're wrong.

The Vatican's budget for last year was announced today, showing a surplus of a little under $3.3 million in 2006. Total revenues for the Vatican came to $306.1 million, just exceeding outlays of $302.9 million.

Setting the Vatican's balance sheet alongside Planned Parenthood's promptly settles any question of which organization generates more cash. The most recent report from the nation's largest abortion provider reveals revenues of $902.8 million from 2005-2006. For the 34th year in a row Planned Parenthood reported "excess revenue" (i.e., profit) -- this last time to the tune of about $56 million.

It is also interesting to note that roughly 1/3 of Planned Parenthood's income comes from you and me. Taxpayer funding totalled $305.3 million last year (up from $272.7 million the year before); which means the United States Government now matches almost dollar-for-dollar to Planned Parenthood what is generated world-wide for the Vatican.

Now get back to work. Uncle Sam has good need of your wages.

More on the Gang of 5

Last Thursday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down yet another high-profile, 5-4 split decision. You know the split: Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy -- Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, Stevens.

Another conservative victory.

The case, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1, was brought about because of Seattle's policy of busing students to a public school not of their choice, based purely on race.

You see, Seattle elites have the noble task of ensuring all public high schools meet diversity quotas. If they don't -- well, Caucasians from a "white-heavy" school must be bused elsewhere.

The SCOTUS correctly noted that such a practice is nothing short of racism.

As the Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion, "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Of course, this is all just too much for the New York Times. In this editorial, the author bemoans, "the court’s radical new majority turned its back on that proud tradition [of Brown v. Board of Education]."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Supreme Court has not retreated one inch from the Brown decision. But don't take my word for it. Read the concurring opinion (page 49) written by the only racial minority on the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas.

In it, Thomas makes some fantastic points, including these:

"Every time the government uses racial criteria to ‘bring the races together,’ someone gets excluded, and the person excluded suffers an injury solely because of his or her race."

"It is the height of arrogance for Members of this Court to assert blindly that their motives are better than others."

"Indeed, if our history has taught us anything, it has taught us to beware of elites bearing racial theories."

But my personal favorite is this one, referring to the dissent of Justice Breyer:

"Justice Breyer’s good intentions, which I do not doubt, have the shelf life of Justice Breyer’s tenure"