Sunday, March 28, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Feast of the Annunciation
Yesterday's orthodoxy is today's heresy.
The late 20th century saw the phenomenon of the Second Vatican Council and its wake. During that period Catholic bishops attempted to modernize the Church and attune it to contemporary life by making sweeping changes to the Catholic Church’s worship and devotions, teachings, and laws.
The changes left few people happy.
Progressives complained that the council failed to thoroughly modernize the Church.
They continue to agitate for the implementation of further changes, promising that the elusive new springtime will bloom when further legacy practices and beliefs are replaced or abandoned.
Conservatives were devastated when the foundation of their existence was replaced by a pedestrian version of itself.
Vocations to the priesthood dried up; seminaries, monasteries, convents, and schools closed; Mass attendance collapsed; belief in core doctrines waned. Many Catholics quit the Church altogether; a small few held out a feeble hope for the restoration of things past.
Church leaders who proved unable to predict the tumultuous consequences of the changes they mandated became obsessed with bureaucratic control.
Unwilling to admit that their new plan did not achieve the intended results, torn about introducing further changes lest more of the flock quit the fold, hampered by a new governance model that suppressed autonomy and made individual bishops subject to the rule of their bishop’s conference, the majority of bishops turned their attention to maintaining a veneer of calm in their dioceses. Progressives were permitted a long leash that was only occasionally given a tug. Conservatives were treated to platitudes about obedience and fed reminders of their obligations to support the Church. And energies that in times past would have been spent shepherding the flock were directed towards career advancement.
The folks over at RealCatholicTV have been broadcasting updates of events that illuminate these troubles. A recent short about how the problems summarized above brought about the passage of the travesty of a healthcare bill can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz_nQ9GTrEA
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
H.E. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has directed the faithful of Ottawa to kneel throughout the canon at Mass -- not just at the Consecration, mind you, but for the entire five minutes.
"Is that all they have to think about?" asked Toddy Kehoe, a parishioner of St. Joseph's.
Abp. Prendergast said he was doing this for harmony. It's a sign of reverence. We have to kneel for God. It's only a small thing.
So, opponents ask, if it's only a small thing, why are you asking us to do it?
Indeed. Back when kneeling through the Canon was universal and the reformers abused the faithful into standing, a different line was taken. Friends of mine say they were simply passed over for Communion when they knelt at the altar rail. One kneeling woman was yelled at by her priest right in the middle of Mass. Why is such a small thing such a big deal?
Because the size of a gesture is not a reliable indication of its significance. What matters more is the love and faith -- or lack thereof -- that animates it.
"Well done, good and faithful servant, because you have been faithful over a few things, I will place you over many things."
- Matthew 25:21
People recognize that kneeling is a sign of submission -- it is a deed that requires humility. When that virtue is in short supply, Bishops get screeched at and defied for asking for simple acts that manifest a unified sense of loving piety.
There's also simply the matter of the True Presence: under the appearance of bread and wine, Christ is really and truly present in body, blood, soul, and divinity. If you believe this article of faith, you will find kneeling and other acts of reverence to be no hardship at all; if you don't believe, being directed to kneel is an outrage. Archbishop Prendergast clearly believes; draw your own conclusions about the people standing in the pews.
Once upon a time Christ was a baby in a manger; at that moment what was inside the stable was greater than the entire world beyond the stable. The Host at Communion is a visible sign that in the Divine economy, what is inside is bigger than what is outside. And when we perform some small act in recognition of this truth, the Almighty takes a very personal interest.
"For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you: thirsty and gave you drink? Or when did we see you a stranger and took you in? Or naked and covered you? Or when did we see you sick or in prison and came to you? And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me."
- Matthew 25:31-40
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The Russian states are seeing more of what China has been dealing with for the past few decades: numerous small protests and riots across the country -- from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok -- in opposition to the central government's heavy-handed micromanagement and the consequent decline in living conditions, climbing unemployment, and devaluation of currency.
Like the communist rulers in China, Putin's United Russia party is attempting to neutralize these Day of Wrath protests by glossing the nation's problems and directing sentiment along nationalist lines: "It's us against the world, my little droogies."
And of course, if the little droogies get out of line, there's always the Putin Plunge to remind them that some of the animals are more equal than others.
Statements from the Article
"We want the government to start treating us like people, not like slaves."
- Kirill, 22-year-old student
"The general public in the regions is beginning to recognise that it is Putin who is actually to blame for various troubles they have – increased cost of living, communal tariffs, taxes and no growth in real wages."
- Vladimir Milov, co-leader of Solidarity
"Our people, especially the youth, travel more to Europe than to Russia. There's no reason to go there."
- Konstantin Polyakov, deputy head of the regional parliament (Duma) and member of the ruling United Russia party
"The leadership is scared...I have been saying the Kaliningrad region is an indicator – in nine months, it will be all over Russia."
- Solomon Ginzburg, an independent deputy in the regional Duma
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Saturn was the Roman name for the Greek god Kronos, the titan father of Zeus who toppled his father Uranus and suffered patricide at the hands of his own son in turn.
Symbolically, Saturn is an apropos banner for our day as well, given as it is to unthinking revolutionary jingles that goad men to build little but reflexively demolish what they do not comprehend.
"The Revolution is like Saturn--it eats its own children...the people are like children: they must smash everything to see what is inside..."
- From Danton's Death, by revolutionary playwright Georg Büchner, who ought to know
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The US Council of Catholic Bishops has spoken in opposition to the health bill proposed by the Senate. This is the version of the bill that the House is now considering.
The reason for the bishop's opposition is that the Senate bill deliberately avoids mention of language compatible with the Hyde amendment, which excludes coverage of abortion by Medicaid. "The expansion of health care should not involve the expansion of funding and policies forcing everyone to pay for abortion," the bishops said.
The promise from lawmakers up to now had been that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected. Looks like that promise has been forgotten.
I thought the closing of the bishop's conference's letter showed a lacked fortitude -- "the Catholic bishops regretfully hold that it must be opposed..." Regretfully? Really? One needn't be reckless to firmly oppose what the liberals are doing - being "nice" isn't the same as being charitable. The most charitable thing to do is to say the actions of liberals are intolerable and will be opposed with great character and enthusiasm. But diplomacy by appeasement with predators? That never got anyone anywhere.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
An old video from the mid 80s about my folks in the SSPX surfaced on GloriaTV.
Is the Society of St. Pius X doing any good? The answer appears to be yes, according to Fr. Franz Schmidberger -- read his comments about the latest doctrinal discussions with Rome.
From the article: "The Society has never upheld its own positions, rather it has made itself the spokesman of the Popes... I believe that the Pope’s courageous decision has had a positive effect not only for the Society and its apostolic work, but even more so for the entire Church..."
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I wound down my part of the exchange with this tidbit.
I was discussing the existence of free will with a protestant chap a while back; he said distinguishing between God's causative vs. permissive will was a debating trick, that there really was no free will, and that God positively causes some people to go to hell; it was pretty sad. For my part, I believe in free will -- I can't help it.
The sophistic wisdom of "everything is relative" is the klaxon sound for the descent into imbecility. The people I know who profess that line of thought don't actually live by it on a consistent basis, fortunately; they just appeal to it when they want to get away with something. The tyranny of but leads to despair and cruelty -- the recurring themes of the pagan world, both ancient and modern.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Sunday morning in the central Nigerian region of Jos, gangs of wandering Fulani people (Muslim herders) slaughtered over 500 indigenous Berom people (Christian villagers).
The gangs fired guns to rouse the villagers from their homes; when the villagers attempted to escape, they were cut down with machetes and burned. Many of the victims were women, children, and the elderly. Survivors are preparing themselves for suicide attacks against Churches that the Fulani have indicated are coming.
These latest attacks appear to be reprisal killings for clashes in January.
Friday, March 5, 2010
O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon for my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
Deus meus, cum sis omnipotens, infinite misericors et fidelis, spero Te mihi daturum, ob merita Iesu Christi, vitam aeternam et gratias necessarias ad eam consequendam, quam Tu promisisti iis qui bona opera facient, quemadmodum, Te adiuvante, facere constituo.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I was taking another look at a book that came out a few years ago titled Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II. The author, Kenneth Jones, used research from the Official Catholic Directory and similar sources to analyze the trends dating back to the 1930s, and not the 1970s like I've been seeing a number of conciliar trend-trackers doing lately (the difference this reveals in the trends is significant, as one might imagine). The 2003 book is a little dated (so the forward-looking projections need to be revisited), but the older data are reliable.
Here are a few statistics. All information is about the Church in the U.S.
* The number of priests skyrocketed from 27,000 in 1930 to 58,000 in 1965.
* In 1965 there were about 13 priests per 10,000 faithful (58,000 total). In 2002, there were only 7 per 10,000 (45,000 total).
* From 1955 to 1960 there was a 15% increase in the number of priests. From 1960 to 1965 there was only a 9% increase. From 1965 to 1970 there was only a 1% increase. Ever since 1970, the number of priests has decreased from 1% to 16% every five years.
* Between 1965 and 2002, the number of priest-less parishes increased from 549 to 2,928. That number is projected to almost double to 4,656 in the next 10 years, when one in four parishes will have no priest.
* There were more diocesan priests in 1960 than in 2002.
* In 1965, there were 10.73 seminarians per 10,000 Catholics (1,575 total). In 2002, there were only 0.72 per 10,000 (450 total).
* In 1965 there were 22.9 sisters teaching for every 10,000 Catholics (180,000 total). In 2002, there were 1.26 sisters per 10,000 (75,000 total).
* From 1955 to 1960 there was a 3% increase in the number of Catholic high schools. From 1960 to 1965 there was a 4% increase. From 1965 to 1970 there was a 9% decrease, and the decline continued for the next few decades, with a slight increase seen between 1995 and 2002 when the number of Catholic high schools returned to 1985 levels.
* Between 1965 and 2002 the number of parochial high schools dropped from 1,566 to 786, and the number of students dropped from 700,000 to 386,000.
Belief and Practice
* From 1965 to 2002 the number of Catholics increased from 45 million to 65 million.
* In 1965 there were 287 infant baptisms per 10,000 Catholics (1.3 million total). In 2002, there were 154 per 10,000 (1 million total).
* In 1965 there were 27.7 adult converts per 10,000 Catholics (126,000). In 2002, there were 12.2 per 10,000 (80,000).
* In 1965 there were 77.1 marriages per 10,000 Catholics (352,000). In 2002, there were 39.3 per 10,000 (256,000).
* In 1968 there were only 338 annulments. In 1998, there were 50,498.
* In 1965, 65% of Catholics went to Mass weekly. In 2000, only 25% went weekly. Church attendance among Protestants during the same period, meanwhile, changed very little.
A Few More Statistics from Polls
* 1999 Catholic Reporter poll: 77% don't believe a Catholic has to go to weekly Mass; 65% believe good Catholics can divorce and remarry, and 53% believe it is acceptable for Catholics to have abortions.
* 2000 University of Notre Dame poll: only 10% of lay religion teachers accept Church teaching on artificial birth control.
* New York Times/CBS poll: 70% of Catholics age 18-44 believe the Eucharist is merely "a symbolic reminder" of our Lord.
Why the abrupt and severe decline and the radical departure from orthodox belief? This all came about after the Church was modernized in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
By their fruits we do indeed know them.
Not that any of us knew what we were talking about, but it seemed marvelous that all you needed to run your kitchen was a refrigerator and a chopping board because your customers cooked all their own food. How's that for a superb division of labor?
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Extract from The Spiritual Combat by Fr. Dom Lorenzo Scupoli
By way of preparation, turn your thoughts toward Jesus, and after a little reflection on the multitude of your sins, declare to him your sincere sorrow for them. Then beg of him with the most profound respect and lively faith, that he will condescend to enter your heart, and replenish it with a new grace, as a remedy against its weakness and the violence of its enemies. Every time you mortify any of your passions, or perform some act of virtue, take that opportunity of preparing your heart for the Son of God, who continually demands it of you; then for addressing yourself to him, beg, with great fervour, the blessing of his presence, as the physician of your soul, as a powerful protector to take and keep possession of your heart against all opponents.
Call likewise to mind your last sacramental communion; and inflamed with the love of your Saviour, say to him: when shall I receive thee again, O my God? When will the happy day return? But if you desire to communicate, spiritually, with greater devotion, begin to prepare for it every night; and let every mortification and each act of virtue you practice, tend to prepare you for receiving, in spirit, your amiable Redeemer.
In the morning when you awake, meditate on the great advantages accruing from a holy communion, in which the soul retrieves lost virtues, recovers her former purity, is rendered worthy to partake of the merits of the cross, and performs an action highly pleasing to the eternal Father, who desires that every one should enjoy this divine sacrament. From hence endeavour to excite in your soul an ardent desire of receiving him in compliance with his will; and with this disposition say: Lord, since I am not allowed to receive thee this day sacramentally, let thy goodness and almighty power so order it, that cleansed from the stain of sin, and healed of all my wounds, I may deserve to receive thee in spirit, now, each day and hour; to the end that being strengthened with new grace, I may courageously resist my enemies, especially that failing, against which, for the love of thee, I now wage war.