14. June, 2013Blog PostComments Off
Vatican Radio provided a full transcript of the Holy Father’s address, and it is one that the overwhelming majority of Catholics will consider of little note, being nothing more than the boilerplate religious diplomacy that has so characterized the ecumenical movement of the last 40+ years.
Even so, the words spoken this day by Pope Francis to Justin Welby, in spite of their congruence with what many now consider the “new normal” in the Church’s relationship with heretical sects, are plainly incompatible with authentic Catholic thought concerning the matter of ecumenism as understood by every Roman Pontiff prior to Vatican II.
Pope Francis began his address by providing the practical definition of what passes for “continuity” in the minds of modern day ecumenists by quoting Pope Paul VI:
Ever since these words were first spoken by Pope Francis’ Venerable predecessor, heretics everywhere have been wondering, either openly or subconsciously, why, given that the pope himself has declared all self-described Christians to be “fellow citizens” in the “Family of God,” would anyone comfortable in whatever sect they happen to call home, ever bother converting to the Holy Roman Catholic Church?
It’s a valid question, one that the popes until recent decades didn’t hesitate to answer with clarity, letting it be known that the Catholic Church alone possesses the fullness of those gifts that Jesus Christ wills for all, including unity.
Pope Pius XI, for example, in his 1926 Encyclical, Mortalium Animos, said, “…unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief, one Christian Faith … There is but one way in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by fostering the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it.”
The Instruction from the Holy Office on the Ecumenical Movement, issued under Pope Pius XII, further underscored the singular path to unity among those who wish to follow Christ, saying, “True reunion can only come about by the return of dissidents to the one true Church of Christ”
As such, it should be obvious why Pope Benedict XV, whose reign immediately preceded that of Pius XI, said that although we desire for all Christians to be gathered in one fold under one shepherd, the Catholic Church cannot join with others in what is considered a “search” for unity. Why? Because the Catholic Church is already one, and so she must not give the appearance of searching for a unity that she already possesses.
In short, to speak of the Catholic Church as though she, like the heretical sects, is searching for an elusive unity, would be to give the false impression, to those both within the fold and those without, that we await an as yet unknown church, one that we must grow toward, as though the Church herself is evolving into an ever more perfect society, the likes of which one can only imagine.
Speaking in such ways is to undermine the very mission of the Church from within, as she is already a perfect society. Pope Leo XIII, for instance, said of the Catholic Church:
Today is a new day in the Church, however, one in which the Roman Pontiffs speak in the manner of a confused young adult in search of his own identity. Don’t get me wrong, the Church is ever the same, it’s just that many of her post-conciliar members, even to the highest offices, have apparently forgotten who we are.
Pope Francis’ address to Justin Welby faithfully followed the template provided by the Vatican II document, Unitatis Redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism, issuing precisely zero calls to conversion and yet numerous suggestions of a joint search for unity.
Addressing his Anglican guest, Pope Francis said:
A common search for unity… Growing toward unity… Earnestly longing for unity… Traveling the path together toward unity…
An ecclesial identity crisis if ever there was one.
12. June, 2013Blog PostComments Off
On May 28, 2013, self-identified “Bishop” Janice R. Huie of the United Methodist self-proclaimed “Church” presided (a proper use of the word) over a rite of commissioning and so-called “ordination” involving some fellow heretics.
This is nothing new, of course. Protestants have been engaged in fake-believe ceremonial mockeries of the sacraments instituted by Christ for many centuries.
What made this particular dog and pony show noteworthy is that it took place with the permission of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston.
When questioned about the wisdom of allowing the abortion-supporting sect to carry out a mock ordination in the shadow of the Cathedral’s altar, Cardinal DiNardo reportedly defended his decision, saying that it was an act of “ecumenical hospitality.”
When news of the spectacle spread via Catholic blogs and social media, many faithful Catholics reacted with utter disbelief that a prelate – a Cardinal no less – would so cavalierly invite grave scandal upon the very same faithful that he is charged with shepherding.
I, on the other hand, wasn’t surprised in the least.
As I perused photographs of the assembled heretics, some of whom were adorned in clerical Halloween costumes, apparently convinced that they were engaged in an act of sacred significance, I could almost hear the faint echo of a large crowd chanting, “Santo subito! Santo subito! Santo subito!”
You see, as I went about digesting the unsavory images depicting the bitter reality of what had taken place at the Cathedral in Houston, exponentially more horrifying images flooded my mind; namely, those of Pope John Paul II and the unthinkable scene that unfolded in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy, not once, but twice, in both 1986 and 2002.
In what was billed as a World Day Prayer for Peace, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the same who established but one Church and charged it with the mission of teaching the nations to observe everything whatsoever that He commanded, was gathered together in “prayer” with heathens, heretics, pagans and humanists before the altar of the Lord Most High, in what he too presumably considered to be a supreme act of ecumenical hospitality.
Within moments, images of his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, came to mind.
Not to be outdone, he who would eventually abdicate hosted a similar gathering, one that included witch doctors and atheists, in his own World Day Prayer for Peace at the Basilica in Assisi in 2011. In the pope’s own words, the purpose was “to solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as a service to the cause of peace,” giving both believer and unbeliever alike the distinct impression that the Roman Pontiff intended to teach the world that the practice of just any ol’ religion, or no religion at all, is an acceptable avenue toward upholding the common good.
With this bit of perspective established, it was clear to me then, and is clear to me now, that what happened at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston several weeks ago, as deplorable as it was, is really best understood as little more than the chickens of Assisi coming home to roost.
Thank you, Holy Fathers!
6. June, 2013Blog PostComments Off
In an interview with Catholic News Service on May 17, 2012, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, said, “The ‘Nostra Aetate’ declaration of the Second Vatican Council is a clear decree and is important for every Catholic.”
We’ll take a closer look at this notion of “clear” in just a moment.
At an address delivered at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas the previous day, Cardinal Koch said that Nostra Aetate is “the ‘foundation document’ and the ‘Magna Carta’ of the dialogue of the Roman Catholic Church with Judaism.”
Reflecting further on the document, he said, “The concept of two parallel paths of salvation would in the least call into question or even endanger the fundamental understanding of the Second Vatican Council that Jews and Christians do not belong to two different peoples of God, but that they form one people of God.”
His Eminence was referring to that portion of Nostra Aetate which reads, “Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles, making both one in Himself.” (NA 4)
The footnote to this sentence in the decree refers back to Ephesians 2:14-16, which upon examination reveals some very serious problems with Cardinal Koch’s interpretation.
In his Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul states,
First, understand to whom St. Paul is speaking; he is addressing the gentile Christian community in Ephesus. He is reminding them that they were at one time strangers to God and considered outsiders by the Jews, the people of promise. He goes on to tell them that the former hostility between the Jews and themselves is gone, no longer are they estranged from the covenant; rather, they are now joined in one body, with the Jewish followers of Christ, through His cross.
Simple enough. Right?
What St. Paul most certainly is not saying is what Cardinal Koch apparently believes he is saying; namely, that even those Jews who reject Christ, and refuse the offer of Baptism, are now “in one body through the cross.”
Surely that is not what St. Paul intends to convey; rather, he is stating that the unity between Jew and gentile is made possible in the new covenant since Our Blessed Lord “abolished in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances.” (cf Eph. 2:15)
The very notion that any Catholic might believe that St. Paul was speaking of being in “one body” with those who reject Christ, and dismiss His cross as mere folly, is difficult to comprehend.
Recall the words of St. Paul to the Galatians:
“Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” (Gal 5:2-6)
The Apostle’s words to the Corinthians were just as clear, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)
St. Paul could not have been more direct, those who reject Jesus Christ and His cross are perishing, even as those who accept Him are being saved.
So, the only way to understand the Second Vatican Council’s statement, “Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles, making both one in Himself,” (NA 4) is to recognize that it can only be speaking of those Jews who accept the Lord Jesus Christ; not those self-identified Jews in our day who reject Him.
His Eminence went on to say in his address:
“On the one hand, from the Christian confession there can be only one path to salvation. However, on the other hand, it does not necessarily follow that the Jews are excluded from God’s salvation because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God.”
The objective truth, the same given to the Church to preach to the ends of the earth, is rather straightforward; namely, there is but one path to salvation.
Why does Cardinal Koch feel the need to qualify this truth with the phrase, “from the Christian confession?”
No, Eminence, it is true for everyone, and it is the mission of the Church to make that truth known. There is no “other hand.”
Furthermore, how dare anyone, most especially a Prince of the Church, make light of unbelief in Christ, contradicting the Lord’s very plainspoken warning, “He who rejects me rejects Him who sent me,” words that should cause every follower of Christ to shudder when thinking of the Jewish people.
Charity demands that we refrain from confirming our Jewish neighbors in their error, comforting them with hollow assurances that they are not, simply because they reject Jesus Christ, excluded from God’s salvation.
In truth, my heart shudders even more to imagine the eternal fate of those prelates who speak in such ways than it does for the Jewish people they are misleading.
In charity, let us assume that Cardinal Koch is not deliberately deviating from the doctrine of the faith, but instead has been unduly influenced by the ambiguities of the document upon which he was pronouncing, Nostra Aetate.
In any case, so much for “a clear decree.”
In conclusion, yet another of St Paul’s exhortations seems to be well in order:
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:8)
27. May, 2013Blog PostComments Off
As part of their campaign to defend “religious liberty” (such as it is proposed in the Vatican II document, Dignitatis Humanae) in the face of the immoral prescripts found in the Obama Administration’s HHS mandate, the bishops of the United States, from the earliest days of this battle, have repeatedly claimed recourse to “our first, most cherished freedom,” a reference to the First Amendment in the U.S. Bill of Rights.
Now, some are even going so far as to speak of Catholics as a people “who believe in the Constitution.”
Well, if we are going elevate the U.S. Constitution to an article of faith, perhaps we should compose a “Patriotic Credo” that can be recited during the upcoming Fortnight for Freedom observances; you know, something special to go along with the Patriotic Rosary.
Maybe it could start something like this:
Credo in Constistutialem Americanum, et in Iōhannēs Courtney Murray, Thomas Jefferson, Beniamin Franklin, et in Georgium Washington…
Please don’t let the parody fool you. This is serious business.
The Church is engaged, not just in a battle over healthcare in the United States at the hands of Barack Obama and company, but in a war against the forces of evil all over the world to maintain the ability to carry out the mission given to her by Christ, in the fullness of freedom, which is hers by Divine right.
With all due respect to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, preaching as if the Constitution of the United States was inscribed by the finger of God on a tablet of stone is not the answer. Neither are such activities as “patriotic sing-a-longs for children, Pancakes for Patriotism, or Fish Fries for Freedom” (taken from the USCCB’s 14 Ways for Parishes to Observe the Fortnight for Freedom).
Soon, I will propose, in all seriousness, an alternative course of action constructed upon the solid foundation of Catholic tradition; one that accounts for the glaring reality that the challenges we now face are truly nothing less than an organized assault against the Kingship of Christ.
25. May, 2013Blog PostComments Off
“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
So has read the “Boy Scout Oath” since the early 20th century. Based on recent events, however, it’s clearly time for a change.
On May 23, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution that would, for the first time in the group’s history, allow membership to boys, ages 10–17, who are openly gay.
“The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting,” the organization announced in a public statement.
Evidently, youth who publicly proclaim their sexual attraction toward other boys is conduct that the organization now considers virtuous, and this begs a number of questions:
What’s a greater invitation to trouble on camping trips, gay boys randomly assigned to just any tent, or setting aside a tent where the gay youth can bed down together?
Now that openly gay boys are able to become Scouts, will the “Family Life” merit badge need to be modified? (To say nothing of “Fly Fishing” and “Backpacking.”)
How much public proclamation of homosexual desire is acceptable, and how much is behavior unbecoming a Scout?
Most importantly, why did the BSA ever consider going down this road in the first place?
Was there a groundswell of gay boys scattered throughout the heartland of America just clamoring to join an organization whose members pledge to uphold their “duty to God” and to remain “morally straight” at all times? Or is it the Scout Law requiring members to be “reverent toward God and faithful in their religious duties” that homosexual youth find so irresistible?
Of course, it’s neither of these things; rather, the Scouts were “bullied” (to borrow a well-worn buzzword from the left) by adult homosexual activists headquartered in America’s urban centers.
According to Reuters, “Gay rights advocates gathered petitions with more than 1.8 million signatures in support of ending the ban,” which gave them the leverage needed to pressure some of the BSA’s largest corporate sponsors (e.g., Intel and UPS) into threatening to withhold future funding if homosexual boys were denied membership.
“Today’s vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end,” said Rich Ferraro, spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD) following news of the decision.
Well, he’s right about one thing; the ban on adult gay scout leaders will undoubtedly end. The rest of the statement, however, is pure BS (and that doesn’t stand for Boy Scouts).
This is a victory for evil. Period.
There are no “gay youth across the nation” banging down the door to join the Scouts. Adolescent boys who are struggling with same-sex attraction, and the feckless adults who are encouraging them to embrace their disordered desires, are repulsed by the BSA’s formerly wholesome convictions.
It was precisely the BSA pledge to “honor God and to live morally straight” that triggered the attack against them. Why? Because that’s what Satan has always done; manipulate weak and sinful men into joining him in the battle against all that is good.
Yes, the time has come for the Scouts to rewrite their century-old Pledge. They might also want to consider renaming the “Jamboree.”
18. May, 2013Blog PostComments Off
If the most recent Holy Roman Pontiff to have been canonized, Pope St. Pius X, could suddenly be placed in the Holy See of today, like a frog dropped in a pot of boiling water, he would leap into action, the anathemas and condemnations flying from his mighty pen so fast it would make even Cardinal Burke’s head spin.
As it is, the majority of Catholic prelates are doing backstrokes as the souls in their care perish from lack of a shepherd.
Enter Cardinal Kurt Koch.
According to a report in the Tablet, Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, on a recent visit to Jerusalem, stressed “no conversion for the Jews,” saying:
In light of Aquinas’ definition of heresy as “a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas,” this would make Cardinal Koch a material heretic.
In speaking of “a path of salvation which is completely foreign” to the Jews, clearly His Eminence is referring to none other than Jesus Christ, who alone is the Way to everlasting life.
How is it even remotely possible for anyone who holds the Catholic faith, much less a Prince of the Church (a title that means less with every passing day) to refer to Jesus Christ, Son of David and long-awaited Messiah, as “completely foreign” to the Jews? If a candidate for Confirmation said this, the bishop would be duty bound to deny him the sacrament!
And while it is true from the standpoint of formal structure that the Church does not have “an organized Jewish mission,” it is to the everlasting shame of all of her members that this is the case, especially those in the hierarchy who, like Cardinal Koch, place diplomacy and warm sentiments above the mission that Jesus Christ gave to His Church.
Clearly, St. Peter didn’t believe that the Jews were exempt from the divine mandate to “Go forth to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
In suggesting that the Jews stand in no need of conversion, Cardinal Koch s is guilty of precisely the indifferentism condemned by Pope Pius VII, wherein “truth is confused with error, and the Holy and Immaculate Spouse of Christ is placed on the same level as heretical sects and even as Jewish faithlessness” (Post Tam Diurturnas)
What’s a Catholic to do?
The weak and ignorant among us will simply float about in the currents of the modern day crisis, doing their best to convince themselves and others that the water is just comfortably warm.
The rest of us will take a more sober view, intrepidly pointing to heresy wherever it may lurk, reminding our fellow Catholics that the Church has been praying for the conversion of the Jews for many centuries, and for one simple reason. In the words of the Council of Florence:
Given the fact that Cardinal Koch no longer believes as much, I would suggest in all charity that we must pray for his conversion, that he might one day return to the Catholic faith.
Let us pray also for Cardinal Koch: that almighty God may remove the veil from his heart; so that he too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord.
17. May, 2013Blog Post, UncategorizedComments Off
“That utter abomination follows which forces all that precedes in the Mass into its service and is, therefore, called the Offertory. From here on, almost everything smacks and savors of sacrifice … Let us, therefore, repudiate everything that smacks of sacrifice, together with the entire canon and retain only that which is pure and holy, and so order our mass.” (Martin Luther, Formula Missa, 1523)
So, guess which part of the traditional Mass was duly repudiated after Vatican Council II, with the blessing of Pope Paul VI, in order to create a new rite that is clearly more pleasing to protestants? The Offertory.
In its place, we now have laity carrying up “the gifts” followed by two Jewish “Baruchas,” or blessings: “Blessed are you, Lord our God … for through your goodness we have this [bread / wine] to offer…”
The general thrust of these Barucha prayers has to do with mankind offering something to God, albeit from the gift of His creation. This should make sense given the fact that this is all the Jews could do. As far as the efficaciousness of these offerings unto salvation, they were fruitless inasmuch as they were a purely human endeavor. The primary value inherent in such offerings in the context of Jewish liturgy flowed from the fact that they served as preparation for the one true Sacrifice, the only one that could save us; the same made present at Holy Mass.
Luther was correct, the Offertory does “force” and focus all that follows in the sacred rite in such way as to amplify the Sacrificial nature of the Mass, so much so that it is unmistakeable. He was also correct in asserting that removing the Offertory was the first, and necessary, step toward stripping the Catholic liturgy of its true nature.
Here’s what Venerable Paul VI thought well to remove from Holy Mass:
Accept, O Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Thy unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, to atone for my innumerable sins, offenses, and negligences, and for all here present; also for all faithful Christians both living and dead, that it may profit me and them for salvation unto life everlasting. Amen.
O God, Who, in creating human nature, did wonderfully dignify it, and still more wonderfully restored it, grant that by the Mystery of this water and wine, we may be made partakers of His divine nature, Who vouchsafed to be made partaker of our human nature, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, Thy Son: Who with Thee, lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God: world without end. Amen.
We offer Thee, O Lord, the chalice of salvation, beseeching Thy clemency, that it may ascend before Thy divine Majesty, as a sweet fragrance, for our salvation, and for that of the whole world. Amen.
Accept us, O Lord, in our spirit of humility and contrition of heart, and grant that the sacrifice which we offer this day in Thy sight may be pleasing to Thee, O Lord God.
Come, O almighty and eternal God, the Sanctifier, and bless this Sacrifice, prepared for the glory of Thy holy Name.
It has long been noted that the post-conciliar liturgical mindset of the faithful has been marked by a loss of the sense of the sacred, the new order frequently having an anthropocentric (or man centered) orientation.
Given the fact that one of the distinguishing differences between the traditional Mass and the new order has to do with the removal of the Offertory, replacing its rich Sacrificial text with prayers that are oriented toward the human act of offering, can anyone really claim to be confused as to why?
3. May, 2013Blog PostComments Off
I just received one of Dr. Robert Moynihan’s Letters with this photo of the former Pope Benedict and Pope Francis in the chapel where the former will presumably offer Mass, along with the following text:
“It is not clear from this photo how much room there is between the altar and the wall and whether one can walk around the altar easily, or not … The candles set up on the altar are on the side near the wall, suggesting that Mass at this altar would be celebrated from the side of the altar facing the wall, with the host and chalice raised toward the crucified Christ at the moment of consecration.”
Why all the tiptoeing through the tulips? It seems pretty clear from the photo that if things are kept as they are the former pope will be offering Holy Mass ad orientem in this chapel. Oh, the horror of it all!
How ridiculous. We should be more horrified when Holy Mass is celebrated any other way. Even the Novus Ordo missal assumes that the priest is celebrating in the ad orientem posture.
Presumably more horrifying still would be hinting at the distinct possibility that Benedict may even offer the so-called “Extraordinary Form” in his new chapel!
Moynihan’s delicate approach appears to be a deliberate effort to avoid inviting further comparisons between the two Pontiff’s respective “liturgical styles.” That may be good form for a Vatican correspondent, but let’s be honest; the simple fact that one Papal liturgy can so clearly differ from that of an immediate predecessor is a problem in itself.
Benedict’s return to the Vatican shines a light on the elephant in the sanctuary that no one really wants to talk about:
Pope Benedict’s abdication is no more understandable, much less laudable, than any other scenario in which a father walks out on his family.
To make matters worse, Benedict left behind some very important unfinished business as it relates to what seemed clearly to be one of the priorities of his pontificate; namely, the reform of the sacred liturgy.
By failing to set an example by consistently celebrating Holy Mass ad orientem (something he called a “fundamental expression” of the liturgy’s true nature) much less even one single public celebration of the traditional Mass, Benedict, for whatever reason, simply left it to chance that his successor would carry the torch forward.
Does anyone really expect that Pope Francis will do so?
28. April, 2013Blog Post, UncategorizedComments Off
The Gospel reading for the “Ordinary Form” for today is taken from John 13 wherein Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
It has been my experience that this reading is often followed by a homily that points to the Lord’s perfect Sacrifice as the prime example of what He is ultimately commanding us to do, and as such, we must die to self, patiently suffering those who oppose us, forgiving those who have wronged us, etc. In other words, hugs all around!
Fair enough. I get it.
Where things typically breakdown, however, is when the homilist preaches as if standing silent as a lamb before its shearers and willingly offering His very life on the Cross is all that Jesus did.
I think it’s worth noting that while Jesus was indeed addressing every one of us in this command, He was speaking in a particular way to those men who would shepherd His flock, teaching, sanctifying and governing the people in His name.
In any case, it’s possible neither for the hierarchy of the Church, nor her children, to carry out this command apart from reflecting on the manner in which Our Blessed Lord loved us, contemplating His example in all of its fullness.
With this in mind, I offer just a small sampling of some of the more frequently overlooked words of loving kindness offered by the God who is love to His people:
“Why do you think evil in your hearts?”
“I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
“How can you speak good, when you are evil?”
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me.”
“Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?”
“You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”
“You blind fools!”
“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”
Words of loving kindness? You bet your soft sensibilities they are.
Loving as Jesus loved means service and sacrifice to be sure, but it most certainly does not mean coddling avowed enemies of the Church, in spite of recent examples to the contrary (e.g., bishops who issue weak rejoinders to purveyors of death, hosting fancy dinners in their honor, and joining them in highfalutin fits of hilarity).
The bottom line is this: By all means we must love our enemies, but let’s not forget that loving as Jesus loved also includes wielding the sword of truth, proclaiming the Gospel with firmness, and condemning error, even when doing so is unpopular and may even invite death itself.
24. April, 2013Blog Post, UncategorizedComments Off
Make no mistake about it: The Church in our day is in the midst of a terrible, and in many ways unprecedented, crisis of faith. This objective reality, however, is largely lost on the overwhelming majority of Catholics, both clerical and otherwise.
While some Catholics, with deliberate intent, actively promote the various agendas that underlie the situation, others simply choose to downplay the magnitude of the crisis out of sheer weakness, as acknowledging the problem suggests a certain responsibility for contributing to the solution.
The majority, however, simply don’t know any better after having been lulled into accepting as “Catholic” the rather comfortable, undemanding, and protestantized spirituality that has been served up in so many parishes over the last several decades.
It is with this latter group in mind that I would suggest that all one needs to do in order to remove all doubt as to the extent of the current crisis is to attend, with eyes opened wide, just about any Novus Ordo Mass of Christian Burial.
While I have been to many such funeral Masses over the years, I can honestly say that I haven’t experienced even one, single, solitary liturgy of this sort that is truly reflective of Catholic doctrine regarding last things, much less the very purpose of said liturgy.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that so many of our priests, and even bishops, seem incapable of resisting the urge to twist the meaning of the funeral Mass into a “celebration of the life” of the deceased that effectively serves as a quasi-canonization, particularly in the minds of those most deeply in mourning, who by tragic coincidence also just happen to be the very people upon whom the dearly departed should be able to rely for prayers of intercession going forward.
As widespread as this situation is, I am more concerned with the problems that are inherent in the actual rite itself.
Take, for instance, the text of the “Final Commendation and Farewell,” beginning with the “Invitation to Prayer” of which there are two options (a hallmark of the post-conciliar liturgy, options, options, options… but more on that later):
“Before we go our separate ways, let us take leave of our brother/sister. May our farewell express our affection for him/her; may it ease our sadness and strengthen our hope. One day we shall joyfully greet him/her again when the love of Christ, which conquers all things, destroys even death itself.” (Option 1)
So, can we really be assured that we will one day “joyfully greet” our deceased loved ones once again? Maybe we will, but then again, maybe we won’t.
Sure, those in mourning may experience a fleeting moment of comfort thanks to such reassurance, but it’s based less on the truth than on mere sentimentalism, and besides, providing comfort to mourners isn’t the primary purpose of the funeral Mass in the first place.
The bottom line is this: it is an undeniable disservice to the deceased to downplay the need to pray, and to offer sacrifice, for the repose of their souls.
Furthermore, this prayer seems to suggest that we await some future event wherein the love of Christ will “one day” destroy “even death itself,” an apparent convolution of those Catholic doctrines that concern the general resurrection, the efficacy of the Our Lord’s saving act, and the work of redemption that continues in the life of the Pilgrim Church in the present age.
Apart from sound catechesis, the likes of which would be inappropriately given in the liturgy, pastors using this text invite confusion, especially when one considers the Second Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy:
Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath destroyed death and hath brought to light life and incorruption by the gospel (2 Tim 1:10).
Option 2 isn’t any better:
Trusting in God, we have prayed together for (N.) and now we come to the last farewell. There is sadness in parting, but we take comfort in the hope that one day we shall see N. again and enjoy his/her friendship. Although this congregation will disperse in sorrow, the mercy of God will gather us together again in the joy of his kingdom. Therefore let us console one another in the faith of Jesus Christ.
Again, there is a false (and dare I say, highly protestantized) sense of confidence being expressed in the suggestion that God’s mercy is such that everyone, without distinction, can be assured of one day being gathered “in the joy of His kingdom.”
And yet we wring our hands wondering why so many reject the very notion of Hell!
Moving on, in the “Prayer of Commendation” (Option A) in the post-conciliar rite, we find (excerpt):
Into your hands, Father of mercies, we commend our brother/sister (N.) in the sure and certain hope that, together with all who have died in Christ, he/she will rise with him … help us who remain to comfort one another with assurances of faith, until we all meet in Christ and are with you and with our brother/sister for ever.
“Sure and certain hope” that “we all” will rise with Christ?
Well, OK… all of us shall rise in the general resurrection; some unto glory, others unto eternal damnation, but “assurances of faith” that we will meet again in Christ for all eternity? There’s no use in sugarcoating it; this simply is not a Catholic proposition.
And please, spare me any hair splitting analysis wherein the singular word “hope” allegedly makes this prayer a plausible representation of Catholic doctrine. It does not. In fact, there isn’t even a hint of a doctrine in these prayers that a Purgatory-rejecting protestant minister wouldn’t be comfortable proclaiming.
And that, my friends, is precisely the impetus behind these tepid and only marginally Catholic texts.
Looking to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) we find:
Moreover, pastors should take into special account those who are present at a liturgical celebration or who hear the Gospel on the occasion of the funeral and who may be non-Catholics or Catholics who never or hardly ever participate in the Eucharist or who seem even to have lost the faith. For Priests are ministers of Christ’s Gospel for all. (cf GIRM 385)
This portion of the GIRM is often used, not surprisingly, as an excuse for watering down the Faith, as if presuming to affirm the salvation of a non-Catholic’s deceased loved one is an act of mercy.
And what exactly does it mean to take nonbelievers “into special account” anyway? Does it mean emulating St. Peter who took special account of the circumcision party in the way he treated gentiles, an act for which St. Paul rightly rebuked him? (cf Gal 2:11-12)
What’s more, one wonders in what sense a Catholic priest “ministers” to non-Catholics apart from proclaiming the fullness of the Faith (i.e., everything whatsoever that Jesus commanded) with neither ambiguity nor attenuation, ultimately with an eye toward their conversion?
In sum, the Novus Ordo Mass of Christian Burial is destined to project a less-than-Catholic image regardless of the celebrant’s mindset; i.e., the best the priest can do is perhaps offset some of the extraordinary deficiencies in the rite with an extraordinarily strong homily, a difficult position in which a priest should never be put.
Indeed, I personally know of a priest who has taken it upon himself to do just this, and it has landed him in hot water not just with the loved ones of the deceased, but with his bishop as well.
By contrast, the traditional Requiem Mass of the Roman Rite is simply the Mass, albeit with certain minor alterations and propers that are fitted to the occasion. And guess what, none of them are designed to give non-Catholics that “feel right at home” level of comfort.
For brevity’s sake, following is just a sampling of those parts of the traditional rite that stand in sharp contrast to the “once saved, always saved” overtones woven throughout the text of the post-conciliar version:
“Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin. And by the help of Thy grace, may they be enabled to escape the judgment of punishment.” (From the Gradual)
“Day of wrath, O day of mourning, Lo, the world in ashes burning – Seer and Sibyl gave the warning. O what fear man’s bosom rendeth, When from Heaven the Judge descendeth, On whose sentence all dependeth! … Guilty, now I pour my moaning, All my shame with anguish owning: Spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning.” (From the Sequence; the thirteenth century hymn, Dies Irae)
“O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of Hell and from the deep pit: deliver them from the mouth of the lion, that Hell may not swallow them up … Hear us, O Lord, we pray, and let the soul of Thy servant (N.) profit by this sacrifice, by the offering of which Thou didst grant that the sins of the whole world should be loosed.” (From the Offertory)
In light of all that is highlighted here, I have done my best to secure the assurances of my wife and close friends that, in the event they survive me, they will make every attempt to arrange a Traditional Requiem Mass on my behalf, and I would suggest that all would do well to do the same.
At the very least, it may be a good idea to include in one’s final will and testament the following request:
If during the course of my funeral Mass, the priest dares to give those who are mourning my passing even the slightest impression that I am enjoying the Beatific vision in Heaven at that very moment, please give him the following message from me:
Get behind me Satan!
Sign the Pledge
Let our bishops know that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in defense of Christ the King!