Thursday, February 28, 2013

Prayers During the Sede Vacante


The Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI ends at 2:00 PM EST on Thursday, 28 February. The Holy Father will depart the Vatican for Castelgandolfo at 11:00 AM EST.

The College of Cardinals will gather in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel to elect a successor. They will initially meet on the morning of March 1st to determine a date for opening the Conclave itself, which must begin between March 15th and March 20th (although it may be anticipated if all Cardinals are present, according to norms issued in a Motu Proprio by Pope Benedict today).

While the Apostolic See is vacant until the election of the next Roman Pontiff, the Successor of St. Peter, special prayers are prescribed. The District Superior of the SSPX in the USA has also prescribed the addition of an oratio imperata (see below) for Masses celebrated during this time.

* Veni Creator each day from March 1st until the Election of a Pope

* Special collect (oratio imperata) “For the Election of a Pope” added at all Low Masses

* Votive Mass of II class “For the Election of a Pope” on day of Conclave opening

Please pray extra Rosaries (à la Rosary Crusade) for this very important intention in the life of the Church, that the Holy Ghost deign to designate a Pope of holiness and Tradition who will Restore All Things In Christ.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Glasgow's Lentfest

A friend in Scotland asks, "Should Lent be fun?" This question was prompted by a seasonal Glaswegian production. The Glasgow Archdiocese has been promoting Lentfest: a series of cultural events that coincidentally occur during the traditional time of Lent.

Attendees can enjoy a poetry and music cafe, further indulge their appetite for tunes with a brass ensemble, take a lighter turn at the folk session, and enjoy the Inner Light film festival. Those with a taste for more traditional Lenten fare can get comparatively closer to the real thing with a stage production of a pilgrimage to Lourdes that features elements of faith, hope, and karaoke.

Perhaps if we're to adopt such an ecclectic treatment, we could fold in elements from the world of sports -- something that applies the Hegelian dialectic to a mashup of Lenten penance and modern cultural idioms. Specifically, I see the potential for new Lenten-themed Olympic events.

Track and Field
* Performed barefoot on scorching desert sand
* Marathons run while carrying a life-sized wooden cross
* Pole vaults done with no landing cushion

* Swimming events with electric eels (salt water) or piranha (fresh water)
* Elevated diving into the shallow end of the pool

* Wrestling is brought back, and gouging is allowed
* Pugilism sans boxing gloves

New Event
* The inverse of a pie-eating contest: participants see how long they can go without food or drink

Just imagine the possibilities.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sanctimony and Snake Oil

A chap whose writings I’ve often enjoyed surprised me by promoting for Lenten reading the Gloria ruminations of the Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. “We cannot begin to understand the Fathers & Doctors of the Church until we grasp the centrality of this,” the chap offered.

Balthasar’s magnum opus is a 16-volume work in which is found his best-known passage: “Before the beautiful—no, not really before but within the beautiful—the whole person quivers. He not only ‘finds’ the beautiful moving; rather, he experiences himself as being moved and possessed by it.”

This sums up nicely the modernist style of religion viewed primarily as an observable experience – a Hegelian synthesis of immanentism and naturalism that has collided with Catholic religion. For the Catholic, faith is a super-naturalized act of the will by which one gives intellectual consent to a divinely revealed truth. To the moderns, the intellect is pressed into the service of whatever experience one has had and happens to think of as religious (or “spiritual”). Contemplating the true, the beautiful, and the good, according to Balthasar, must be done in light of his own novel aesthetic (i.e. one stemming from a naturalized version of a religious experience). Said Balthasar, “The fundamental assumption of my work Gloria, was the ability to see a “Gestalt” (a complex form) in its coherent totality. Goethe’s viewpoint was to be applied to the Jesus phenomena and to the convergence of New Testament theologies.” At all costs, the correct contemplations are not to be based on the truths as treated by scholastic theology – a theology that Balthasar professed he despised with a great rage.

My points of concern about promoting the writings of a snake-oil salesman like von Balthasar were greeted by the chap with atypical angst, who characterized my remarks as vicious, etc. The sad irony is that the chap had professed admiration for Aquinas, confessed to a soft spot in his heart for the Latin Mass, etc. Yet he dismissed as mere youthful excess Balthasar’s confession of his hatred for classical theology and displayed sanctimonious scorn for allowing Balthasar’s notions to be scrutinized in light of the theologian’s own admissions. I was sadly reminded that such confusion of thought is part and parcel of the harm brought about by modern philosophies: even people of good will are duped by fair-seeming words, their considerate attempts to give others the benefit of the doubt being taken advantage of by theological grifters. Part and parcel with that is the contempt heaped on those who sound a warning. These folks are sincere but sadly mistaken. It’s a spectacle that breaks your heart. Soon enough one can say no more, and must simply step back and commend the matter to the care of the Almighty.

Pope St. Pius X described modernist ecclesiastics of von Balthasar’s sort — those “who, by a false zeal for the Church, lacking the solid safeguards of philosophy and theology, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines of the enemies of the Church and lost to all sense of modesty, put themselves forward as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not even sparing the Person of the Divine Redeemer, Whom, with sacrilegious audacity, they degrade to the condition of a simple and ordinary man.” (Pascendi)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thomistic Philosophy

Philosophy is the mechanics of the human mind that is used to grasp natural reality. Whether one applies a formal system of philosophy or merely accepts the popular world view as a framework for making sense of the world, everyone who thinks has a philosophy.

Truth is when the mind is in accord with objective reality.

In his book "The Intelligence In Danger of Death" (L'intelligence en péril de mort), Marcel de Corte writes of Thomistic philosophy and the consequences of its rejection in modern times:

"[Thomistic philosophy] is linked to Greek philosophy, which is, itself, a philosophy based upon common sense, reality and a human intelligence faithful to its purpose (i.e. to know objective truth). Whenever philosophy wanders from this, it suffers the consequences! Vatican II threw out this realist philosophy which the Church had always guarded...this 2,000 year-old solidarity between supernatural reality of the Faith and the natural reality of man's mind...a philosophy which was the axis and pivot of the Church, who is the custodian of Faith, Intelligence and Morals. All this has been swept away by the tempest of all tempests - the subjectivity of man."

Saturday, February 16, 2013


MAGISTERIUM: The Catholic Church’s divinely appointed authority to infallibly teach the truths of Religion.

“Going therefore, teach ye all nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
- Matthew 28:19-20

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lenten Fasting

His Excellency, Abp. Marcel Lefebvre's Letter on Fasting and Abstinence(Sexagesima Sunday - Rickenbach, Switzerland, 14 February 1982)

My dear brethren,

According to an ancient and salutary tradition in the Church, on the occasion of the beginning of Lent, I address these words to you in order to encourage you to enter into this penitential season wholeheartedly, with the dispositions willed by the Church and to accomplish the purpose for which the Church prescribes it.

If I look in books from the early part of this century, I find that they indicate three purposes for which the Church has prescribed this penitential time:
* first, in order to curb the concupiscence of the flesh;
* then, to facilitate the elevation of our souls toward divine realities;
* finally, to make satisfaction for our sins.

Our Lord gave us the example during His life, here on earth: pray and do penance. However, Our Lord, being free from concupiscence and sin, did penance and made satisfaction for our sins, thus showing us that our penance may be beneficial not only for ourselves but also for others. Pray and do penance. Do penance in order to pray better, in order to draw closer to Almighty God. This is what all the saints have done, and this is that of which all the messages of the Blessed Virgin remind us.

Would we dare to say that this necessity is less important in our day and age than in former times? On the contrary, we can and we must affirm that today, more than ever before, prayer and penance are necessary because everything possible has been done to diminish and denigrate these two fundamental elements of Christian life.

Never before has the world sought to satisfy - without any limit, the disordered instincts of the flesh, even to the point of the murder of millions of innocent, unborn children. One would come to believe that society has no other reason for existence except to give the greatest material standard of living to all men in order that they should not be deprived of material goods.

Thus we can see that such a society would be opposed to what the Church prescribes. In these times, when even Churchmen align themselves with the spirit of this world, we witness the disappearance of prayer and penance -particularly in their character of reparation for sins and obtaining pardon for faults. Few there are today who love to recite Psalm 50, the Miserere, and who say with the psalmist, Peccatum meum contra me est semper - "My sin is always before me." How can a Christian remove the thought of sin if the image of the crucifix is always before his eyes?

At the Council the bishops requested such a diminution of fast and abstinence that the prescriptions have practically disappeared. We must recognize the fact that this disappearance is a consequence of the ecumenical and Protestant spirit which denies the necessity of our participation for the application of the merits of Our Lord to each one of us for the remission of our sins and the restoration of our divine affiliation [i.e., our character as adoptive sons of God].

In the past the commandments of the Church provided for:
* an obligatory fast on all days of Lentwith the exception of Sundays, for the three ember days and for many vigils;
* abstinence was for all Fridays of the year, the Saturdays of Lent and, in numerous dioceses, all the Saturdays of the year.

What remains of these prescriptions-the fast for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstinence for Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent.

One wonders at the motives for such a drastic diminution. Who are obliged to observe the fast - adults from age 21 to 60. And who are obliged to observe abstinence? - all the faithful from the age of 7 years.

What does fasting mean? To fast means to take only one (full) meal a day to which one may add two collations (or small meals), one in the morning, one in the evening which, when combined, do not equal a full meal.

What is meant by abstinence? By abstinence is meant that one abstains from meat.

The faithful who have a true spirit of faith and who profoundly understand the motives of the church which have been mentioned above, will wholeheartedly accomplish not only the light prescriptions of today but, entering into the spirit of Our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will endeavor to make reparation for the sins which they have committed and for the sins of their family, their neighbors, friends and fellow citizens.

It is for this reason that they will add to the actual prescriptions. These additional penances might be to fast for all Fridays of Lent, abstinence from all alcoholic beverages, abstinence from television, or other similar sacrifices. They will make an effort to pray more, to assist more frequently at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to recite the Rosary, and not to miss evening prayers with the family. They will detach themselves from their superfluous material goods in order to aid the seminaries, help establish schools, help their priests adequately furnish the chapels and to help establish novitiates for nuns and brothers.

The prescriptions of the Church do not concern fast and abstinence alone but the obligation of the Paschal Communion (Easter Duty) as well.

Here is what the Vicar of the Diocese of Sion, in Switzerland, recommended to the faithful of that diocese on 20 February 1919:
1. During Lent, the pastors will have the Stations of the Cross twice a week; one day for the children of the schools and another day for the other parishioners. After the Stations of the Cross, they will recite the Litany of the Sacred Heart.
2. During Passion Week, which is to say, the week before Palm Sunday, there will be a Triduum in all parish churches, Instruction, Litany of the Sacred Heart in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction. In these instructions the pastors will simply and clearly remind their parishioners of the principal conditions to receive the Sacrament of Penance worthily.
3. The time during which one may fulfill the Easter Duty has been set for all parishes from Passion Sunday to the first Sunday after Easter.

Why should these directives no longer be useful today? Let us profit from this salutary time during the course of which Our Lord is accustomed to dispense grace abundantly. Let us not imitate the foolish virgins who having no oil in their lamps found the door of the bridegroom's house closed and this terrible response: Nescio vos - "I know you not." Blessed are they who have the spirit of poverty for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The spirit of poverty means the spirit of detachment from things of this world.

Blessed are they who weep for they shall be consoled. Let us think of Jesus in the Garden of Olives who wept for our sins. It is henceforth for us to weep for our sins and for those of our brethren.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for holiness for they shall be satisfied. Holiness-sanctity is attained by means of the Cross, penance and sacrifice. If we truly seek perfection then we must follow the Way of the Cross.

May we, during this Lenten Season, hear the call of Jesus and Mary and engage ourselves to follow them in this crusade of prayer and penance.

May our prayers, our supplications, and our sacrifices obtain from heaven the grace that those in places of responsibility in the Church return to her true and holy traditions, which is the only solution to revive and reflourish the institutions of the Church again.

Let us love to recite the conclusion of the Te Deum: In te Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum - In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped. I will not be confounded in eternity."

+ Marcel Lefebvre

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spare Us These Improvements

With the announced retirement of the present Pontiff, I’ve again encountered the diatribes of the anti-clerical and other radicals who want to foist married and women clergy on us. The old canards of “injustice” and “boy’s club” were trotted out by one fellow I crossed paths with.

The Catholic Church has long recognized that the role of men and women in society should take seriously the nature of the individuals involved – in the modern idiom, to have nurture build on nature or intrinsic purpose. In this way a father and mother work in a complementary manner to raise their children whole and entire, the father with qualities and abilities germane to his nature, the mother hers. In private and in public life the man and the woman each have their roles, responsibilities, and privileges. Thus are raised not just the children in a given family, but an entire society. For those with an interest in the subject of woman’s nature, Gertrud von le Fort’s “The Eternal Woman” is a profoundly good treatment.

The Church acknowledges that, in terms of attaining individual sanctification, men and women are each complete in their own nature, whole and entire; it has thus rejected the pagan notion of women being incomplete men (the Aristotelians continued this idea, but the real Thomists put a stop to it when they could). The Christian view was the perspective by which society was organized for many centuries. In modern times a Marxist-driven feminist ideology – which fundamentally misunderstands human nature, both masculine and feminine – has subverted the order and tried to turn women into imitation men in a way that the corrupt old pagans might have relished. This has had adverse consequences for society and the culture, for marriage and families, and for men and women themselves.

In the Catholic Church men and women are recognized to have their own societal roles. From a moral standpoint men and women are equal. At the same time, each has qualities that the other lacks; thus, in terms of raising family and other societal aspects, they are incomplete and require the complementary efforts of the other. Broadly speaking, the distinction between the nature of men and women is that of the exterior and the interior. Men by their nature have many qualities that best fit them for life in the exterior sphere; women, in the interior. Neither masculine nor feminine nature is anything like complete in itself in its social dimension. Also, no individual is entirely exterior or entirely interior; unique qualities aside, the differences are those of proportion. By their nature men are typically better suited to the exterior; by their nature, women are typically better suited to the interior. Note that I use the terms exterior and interior, not active and passive; they are not identical or even similar: the former treat of the domain, the latter treat of the manner in which one acts in the domain. Thus, a person can be passive in exterior things (here we have examples of ineffectual and weak leaders) or active in interior things (here we have the examples of countless saints, among them many heroic women). It is part of the formally-condemned heresy of Americanism that treats interior things in a most derisive manner. This prejudice has led to an almost insane emphasis on unreflecting external activity; it is at the root of a great deal of anti-intellectualism.

I mention these few points by way of a preliminary to frame the matter under discussion, which seldom is treated well in modern discourse. The Marxist-feminist technique would have it that unless men and women have identical exterior roles in the same proportions, an injustice is inflicted on women. That the solution of these revolutionaries does violence to women in their nature – that it returns us to pagan sensibilities by making women into imitation men – appears to be completely lost on them. The confusion of the proper roles and responsibilities of men and women in their nature is at the root of modern epidemics of frequent divorce, abuse, abortion, infidelity, pornography, and the like: people are being fundamentally injured and violated by attempting to live according to perverse moral and social norms.

One could also point to problems in the logic of critics: for instance, assertions that an all-male hierarchy necessarily offends against women. Surely if we had women in leadership roles, then by this reasoning men would necessarily be disenfranchised? If the present arrangement is bad for women, why would one introduce a substitute that would harm men? This argument exposes a fatal flaw in modern efforts to obliterate very real, normal, and healthy distinctions. Ironically, an era that professes to celebrate diversity would turn us into bland and generic Calvin Klein hermaphrodites.

To extend the exercise a little further: why do we stop at considerations of male and female? Who says that I have to limit my identity politics to what others select for me? The present Pope is a German; certainly citizens from all other countries across the globe should be outraged? The rationale is the same; that one is chosen as a basis for grievance over another is just an arbitrary selection of secondary criteria.

On the subject of celibate clergy: having been a Protestant, I’ve seen what married clergy are like. If we need we can go there too; suffice it to say, I’m quite glad for the Catholic arrangement.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Radaelli's New Book

Sandro Magister in Rome published news yesterday of a book about to be released. The work was penned by Professor Enrico Maria Radaelli, and it includes passages taken from the unpublished diaries of Fr. Divo Barsotti (1914-2006).
Fr. Barsotti, a cleric in "full communion" with Rome who preached the Lenten exercises to the pope and to the Roman curia in 1971, openly criticized the problems with Vatican II. He wrote:
"I am perplexed with regard to the Council: the plethora of documents, their length, often their language, these frightened me. They are documents that bear witness to a purely human assurance more than to a simple firmness of faith. But above all I am outraged by the behavior of the theologians.”
"The Council is the supreme exercise of the magisterium, and is justified only by a supreme necessity. Could not the fearful gravity of the present situation of the Church stem precisely from the foolishness of having wanted to provoke and tempt the Lord? Was there the desire, perhaps, to constrain God to speak when there was not this supreme necessity? Is that the way it is? In order to justify a Council that presumed to renew all things, it had to be affirmed that everything was going poorly, something that is done constantly, if not by the episcopate then by the theologians.”
"Nothing seems to me more grave, contrary to the holiness of God, than the presumption of clerics who believe, with a pride that is purely diabolical, that they can manipulate the truth, who presume to renew the Church and to save the world without renewing themselves. In all the history of the Church nothing is comparable to the latest Council, at which the Catholic episcopate believed that it could renew all things by obeying nothing other than its own pride, without the effort of holiness, in such open opposition to the law of the gospel that it requires us to believe how the humanity of Christ was the instrument of the omnipotence of the love that saves, in his death.”

Friday, February 8, 2013

Protungulatum Donnae

Note the use of "anticipates" in "the animal had several anatomical characteristics for live births that anticipated all placental mammals and led to some 5,400 living species, from shrews to elephants, bats to whales, cats to dogs and, not least, humans."

Structural similarity, yes -- but anticipates? Are we witness to correlation being conflated with causation?

Let's allow our scientists to explore possibilties and see how well hypotheses hold up to scrutiny. Let's avoid attempting to insert a cube into the coin slot.