October 2004

How God Judges Homosexuality

In the ongoing discussions about homosexuality, why do so few people in the Church bring up the Bible? In the book of Genesis, at the time of Abraham, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of homosexuality. This is where we get the word sodomy — from the Bible. This is clear biblical proof of the evil of homosexual acts.

The Most Rev. Donald W. Montrose
Retired Bishop of Stockton
Stockton, California




The Da Vinci Code at a Catholic High School

My niece attends Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, Calif. (Diocese of Oakland), and The Da Vinci Code was one of three books that she could read to fulfill her summer reading requirement. If in popular culture the distinction between fiction and truth is blurred, how can one expect a 17-year-old to make that distinction while reading this book? I tried to discuss with her many of the inaccuracies contained within the book; this was to no avail. The fact that it was on a recommended reading list from a Catholic school gave her a sense that the author must be trustworthy.

I am deeply disturbed by the above and wonder what kind of Catholic education she is receiving. Indeed, I understand that Moreau Catholic has a group for “gay,” lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students.

Name Withheld [so as not to get his niece in trouble]
Oakland, California




Things Deacons Should Not Do

As a follow-up to the letter (Jul.-Aug.) relating the experiences of Steve (last name withheld) from Phoenix, Ariz., the following has been my experience with the “Greater American Catholic Church.” There are certain things you should not do when functioning as a deacon in a parish:

(1) Don’t become so effective a homilist that the people ask for copies of your homily, but not the pastor’s.

(2) Don’t teach absolute truths to your RCIA candidates.

(3) Don’t stand up for the traditional view of the Catholic Faith.

(4) Don’t hold to the belief that sin still exists, and that we need to be aware of it.

(5) Don’t attempt to start a Perpetual Adoration program in the parish, especially if you’re able to sign up 230 parishioners to fill the hours.

This list of “don’ts” led to my being purged from the parish by the pastor.

Deacon Edward [last name withheld]
[from a liberal diocese]




Backbiting

Upon reading your latest issue of the NOR (June), once again I found myself aghast at the intellectual dishonesty, emotional immaturity, hatred of Roman Catholicism, and raw bigotry which permeate your magazine. Why on earth do you people have such an undying hatred of and raw contempt for the Holy Father?

The current Holy Father is the head of the universal church; his ex cathedra pronouncements cannot, by definition, be wrong. As to his other pronouncements, unless manifestly erroneous and/or sinful, all professed Catholics are obliged to render unqualified support and obedience. Finally, as to the Holy Father’s person, all Catholics manifestly owe their complete, respectful, loving loyalty and cooperation.

In all Christian charity, it is incumbent to tell you that I believe you are in schism with the Catholic Church, and may very well have excommunicated yourselves. I have very grave fears as to whether you would obtain a favorable judgment at death.

Since backbiting, cheapsh-t cheapshots, and sowing internal dissension and disunity in the Catholic Church appear to be the NOR’s real raison d’être — and not spreading the Gospel, praising and building up the body of Christ, and evangelizing the entire earth — I have taken the liberty of enclosing a reprint of a pamphlet titled “Sins of the Tongue: Backbiting.” If you value your salvation at all, please take the time to read it.

Kindly take notice that I do not permit hate literature into my home under any circumstances. Over the months I have read your magazine, it has become more and more obvious that the NOR is not a Catholic publication, but rather a savagely anti-Catholic one. Also, you exalt and glorify white, male, antebellum Anglo supremacy as much as the Ku Klux Klan.

The total absence of the loving charity of Jesus Christ, and the absence of the Holy Spirit from the pages of the NOR are manifest. On the other hand, the spirit of Satan, and the presence of the most mean-spirited jeering Antichrist, are consistently manifest in your pages. I do not want to become an accessory to this truly evil attitude and conduct. Kindly cancel my subscription immediately.

Catherine Elliott-Dunne
Chicago, Illinois




THE EDITOR REPLIES:

We love to get these kinds of letters. We are accused of backbiting, but Ms. Elliott-Dunne doesn’t have the foggiest idea that she herself is a virtuoso backbiter. She says the NOR is guilty of “intellectual dishonesty, emotional immaturity, hatred of Roman Catholicism, and raw bigotry,” of “cheapsh-t cheapshots,” of “hate,” of being “savagely anti-Catholic” and “truly evil,” and of being like “the Ku Klux Klan.” And “the spirit of Satan, and the presence of the most mean-spirited jeering Antichrist, are consistently manifest,” etc. Truly, this kind of backbiting deserves a Pulitzer Prize.

As for glorifying “white, male, antebellum Anglo supremacy,” of the seven people responsible for the magazine (above the list of Contributing Editors on the masthead), only three are white, only three are male, only two are white males, and no one has even a smidgeon of Anglo blood.

As for “sowing internal dissension and disunity” in the Church: The Church has been disunited for decades. If Ms. Elliott-Dunne doesn’t want to fight the good fight to restore unity in truth, she’s not alone.

As for the current Holy Father: Ms. Elliott-Dunne should be apprised that John Paul II has not made any ex cathedra pronouncements whatsoever. Yet Ms. Elliott-Dunne allows that his “other pronouncements” could be “manifestly erroneous and/or sinful.” Then all of his doctrinal pronouncements could be “manifestly erroneous and/or sinful” — which definitely does not comport with the Catholic mind.

We are puzzled by some of John Paul’s gestures, such as kissing the Koran. And we are perplexed by some of his prudential judgments — such as his lax governance of the Church. But then John Paul, in his 2004 autobiography (Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way), has admitted that perhaps he’s been too lax in governing the Church. Said he: “I think that in this aspect [disciplining Catholic dissidents], maybe I have done too little.”

None of our qualms about this papacy indicate “undying hatred of and raw contempt for the Holy Father.” Indeed, our mild criticisms have been for the good of the Church, and we have a duty to express them. As Canon Law 212 says: “Christ’s faithful…. have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence, and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors [bishops, cardinals, popes] their views on matters that concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful….”




For the Conversion of Islam

In the letters section of your June issue, Michael Eversman asks: “In…recent times, we have been asked to pray for the conversion of Russia…. Why aren’t Catholics being called on by the Holy Father, bishops, and priests to pray for the conversion of the Moslems in the same manner?” The apostolate of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima has been praying for the conversion of Islam at their first Saturday vigils for over 50 years. The vigil usually begins on the Friday before the first Saturday. One of the prayers on Friday is for the “Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” where the conversion of Islam is specifically prayed for.

Kathleen Gabryelski
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania




In Response to Fr. Meluskey

I am writing in response to the letter from Fr. Andre Meluskey (Jul.-Aug.). Fr. Meluskey states that in the old days he was too embarrassed to invite his dormitory roommates to the “old [Latin] Masses” because of the blatant lack of piety that accompanied many of them. I am almost as old as he is and have participated in thousands of “old Masses,” many hundreds while serving as an altar boy. I was never embarrassed. I also never hesitated to invite my friends and acquaintances to Mass — even in a church I had never been in previously. Before we were married, my wife of 49 years was one who accepted my invitation and subsequently became a Catholic.

Today, I am regularly embarrassed when attempting to participate in the “new Mass.” I am embarrassed by the Masses that are celebrated in churches that resemble gymnasiums. I am embarrassed by the people who dress and act like they are in gymnasiums. I am embarrassed by the priests who “perform” the Mass rather than celebrate it. I am embarrassed by the music that is anything but sacred and uplifting. I am embarrassed by the fact that the majority of those who call themselves Catholic do not attend Mass on a regular basis, if at all.

Raymond J. Anater
Akron, Pennsylvania






I began serving the “old Mass” as an altar boy in 1927. I am now 88 years old, 62 years as a priest. As a lad, knowing the perfect recitations of all the Latin Mass responses, I dealt with priests of every age and devotion and I do not recall any who deliberately mumbled their prayers. The churches were not air-conditioned in those days and in the hot summer days it was not uncommon to omit the sermon; Low Mass might last for only 20 minutes, and Communions were much fewer in those days. Now with the Novus Ordo, I have attended Mass in 10 minutes. A possible scandal.

The only scandal I can recall in the old days was people sleeping during the sermon. Nobody complained about the Eucharistic fast from midnight; nobody complained about Communion on the tongue or about the Latin. In fact, we were proud of the Latin we knew. Non-Catholics marveled at the piety and the reverence of the congregation and the head-coverings of the women. Those were the glory days of the Church when our Catholic faith was a family thing, a treasure we prized. Our faith was so much a part of our life that it colored our moods, shaped our social activities, influenced our style of dress, and flavored our conversation. How many families can make the same claim today?

Last Sunday I experienced what perhaps was the greatest joy of my priesthood. I could scarcely contain myself. Indeed, my cup runneth over. I celebrated the Tridentine Latin Mass with a congregation of two hundred people. It was like a repetition of my First Holy Mass 56 years ago. It was a Missa Cantata — those sacred Gregorian melodies so fitting for worship: the solemn Trinity Preface, the solemn Pater Noster, the Holy Gospel, and the Orations.

My daily vernacular Mass has been a joy in my life, but there was always something about this Tridentine Latin Mass that went beyond all telling. I’ve found something that I had lost some 35 years ago. All those years my heart ached for the Latin Mass that I had lost, always hoping that some day, please God, I would find it. Last Sunday I found it. And like the widow of the Gospel who found her lost coin and who called in her neighbors to rejoice with her, now I was the one who wanted to call in the whole world to share in my joy. It was like being away from home all these years and always hoping that some day the permission for me would arrive to return home and share again with my dear ones the joys of long ago. It was home sweet home again. My joy knows no bounds.

My humble and ineffable thanks to our good Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, the Good Shepherd who went out looking for all those abandoned sheep to lead us back home again — to Rome, sweet home.

Would I go back to the new Mass? No way!

Rev. Charles Schoenbaechler, C.R.
Louisville, Kentucky






Regarding a letter from a Fr. Meluskey talking about the bad old days of pre-Vatican II: I can remember Masses being every hour, 6 AM to noon on Sundays. Of necessity they were in the 40-45 minute range to allow for the oncoming Mass.

What I can’t understand is how such a large and eternal organization, the Catholic Church, can, in the name of simple logic, run off so much of her flock by simply refusing to take into consideration their upbringing and habits that got us to the mid-20th century with 75-80 percent Mass attendance.

My wife and I are in our early 70s and have recently stopped attending Mass because of the nonsense going on at the “community celebration.” I could articulate the abuses ad nauseam, but much better to ask: Rev. Bishop, your honor, why can’t we have a Latin Mass within a 50-mile radius?

Once again, simple logic dictates that you don’t alienate those folks who got you here, while at the same time accommodating every diversity-minded group with Folk Masses, Spanish Masses, Afro-American Masses, Rock Masses, etc.

Remember this: The Coca-Cola Company got really progressive and nearly went down the tubes with its formula change for its main product line. What did they do when they got it wrong? They quickly returned to the old formula and turned things around! The words return to mind once again: Logical, Logical, Logical.

Tweed Hunter
Clayton, Georgia






Fr. Meluskey mentions “‘whiz churches’: Sunday Mass in 20 minutes,” and adds that young seminarians were given the motto: “Get Them Out Fast!”

I don’t know in what town Fr. Meluskey lived as a kid or what seminary he attended, but I have to confess that I never heard of “whiz churches.” Now, if the seminarians were given the above motto, I must infer that their pastoral formation was rather faulty and not conducive to the sanctification of their future flocks. I can’t help doubting the correctness of Father’s statements.

Ten years before Fr. Meluskey, I too was an altar boy and I still remember my Latin answers to the Holy Mass. In the early 1950s I lived in Toppenish, a small town in Washington state. We belonged to the recently established Yakima Diocese. I was a member of St. Aloysius Church. We had a wonderful congregation. The choir was superb. They performed a capella motets in four mixed voices. Their repertoire included works by Palestrina, Vitoria, Bach, et al., and their harmonious voices filled the church with piety, spirituality, and awe. And the Gregorian chant was not neglected. We, as a congregation, sang the Missa de Angelis, Salve Regina, Ubi Charitas et Amor, etc., and those sonorous, majestic and devout hymns such as “Faith of Our Fathers,” “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and “O Lord I Am Not Worthy.”

The participation was spontaneous and total. It made us feel cor unum et anima una, all united in the praise of our Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist. I must acknowledge that the pastor loved good music and he trained the choir. This makes me think that a better training in sacred music at the seminary could help revitalize our parishes.

Paul Finney
Whittier, California




In Defense of Bishop Higi

There are plenty of problems in the Diocese of Lafayette, Ind., but Sean Salai’s article (April) is most unfair. I never thought I’d find myself defending Bishop Higi or this Diocese, considering that my distaste for contemporary liturgy is strong and I belong to a Byzantine parish in Indianapolis, but mercy and justice demand clarification. Salai is partly right but does a disservice to the Church by withholding a great deal of truth.

Salai says the Bishop dines with pro-abortion Catholic politicians — but who? He asserts that priests are threatened with transfer for placing a Tabernacle in the center of the sanctuary or for installing a communion rail, but offers no evidence.

It is true that the nun who runs the schools is a full-blown Lefty. She reportedly gave a solid interview to the search committee, then swung left when she was given a contract; allegedly the Diocese fears a lawsuit if she is dismissed.

I am certain of The Catholic Moment Editor Tom Russell’s orthodoxy, as much as I’m sure that he is subject to competing forces who try to wrest control of the paper away from him. I am also pretty sure that some of his mission is to “hold the hill” and try to keep the paper from falling into the hands of liberal-modernists.

Bishop Higi’s directive to stand from the end of the Agnus Dei to the end of distribution of Holy Communion was ill-considered, and even a disaster, but Bishop Higi’s mistake was probably in issuing the directive before the Vatican clarification came out.

I’m unable to answer every charge made by Salai, and I agree that the Bishop is “cool” to the Traditional Latin Mass, but it is simply untrue that the Traditional Latin Mass is not allowed in the Diocese. The Latin (1962) Mass is celebrated every Tuesday evening at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Muncie.

Much correction was due following the prior bishop’s administration: Bishop Higi’s handling of The Indianapolis Star investigation was downright inept, but most, if not all, of the sexual-abuse charges happened prior to Bishop Higi’s administration. Bishop Higi has ordered crucifixes in all the churches of the Diocese, including his own cathedral in Lafayette. He has ordered kneelers in the churches without them. He has mandated that all newly built churches have a crucifix and kneelers. He has written in The Catholic Moment against Catholic membership in Freemasonry. In the same paper, he gave a clear, uncompromising explanation of Church teaching on homosexuality.

I attend Mass in many parts of the Diocese; however, in spite of my total dislike of modern liturgy, I have yet to encounter a Mass that violates the GIRM.

Bishop Higi helped found one order of sisters which, regrettably, didn’t survive. He is attempting the same with another, and they are teaching nuns, wear full habits, and ooze orthodoxy from every part of their being.

Fr. Brian Doerr is a brilliant, successful Vocations Director. This Diocese of 75-80 priests enjoys a rapidly growing rank of seminarians. Mundelein and St. Meinrad seminaries are no longer used. Kenrick seminary is allegedly on its way out.

It is true that Bishop Higi dislikes confrontation. There are two kinds of bishops: The kind who despises Holy Mother Church and the kind who tries to do what’s right but gives liberals too much ground. The former is heinous; the second, mostly sadly misguided. I think Bishop Higi is closer to the second, and as ill as that bodes at times, one can in no way place him in the same camp as a true Lefty such as Mahony.

Need further evidence? See the diocesan websites (www. dioceseoflafayette.org and www. priestforever.org) and you’ll find plenty of evidence that orthodox Catholicism may struggle some but is alive and finally growing in the Diocese of Lafayette.

Mr. Salai, you’re a young zealot. Your writing shows it, both in quality and content. Don’t give up, but don’t give our side a black eye by anything less than the whole truth.

Terence Garrity
Arcadia, Indiana




Personal Interpretations

Thank you for publishing the article that showed the nonsense put out by once-Protestant, now Catholic theologian Scott Hahn. The article (“Scott Hahn’s Novelties” by Edward O’Neill, June) needs to be reprinted in every Catholic periodical in this land. If Dr. Hahn desires to be a true Roman Catholic, he needs to leave his personal interpretations of the Bible back where he came from, back in Protestant-land, where each new spin on the unchanging Word of God is applauded and given a huge audience.

David Cavall
Surf City, North Carolina




Contraception Is The Problem

Regarding your New Oxford Note, “It Ain’t Broke, But Let’s Fix It Anyhow” (June): Whether Vatican II was necessary or not, it is we who need to make it become a plus for ourselves and others. For those who love God, all things work together unto good, including Vatican II.

What have we done since Vatican II? We, who before the Council had in principle rejected contraception as a licit way of life, have broken ranks with God. Except for a remnant of the faithful, Catholics now contracept. From 1968 on, and even before in many cases, we have been a mob of rebels, turning against God, much as the Israelites once churned in a frenzy through a night of total rebellion. God sentenced all to death in the desert, except those below age 20 and the remnant of those who remained faithful. The story is told in the Book of Numbers: “Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!’” (Num. 14:1-2).

Then God told Moses: “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the LORD, ‘I will do to you the very things I heard you say: your dead bodies shall fall in this very wilderness; and of all your number, included in the census, from twenty years old and upward, who have complained against me, not one of you shall come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would become booty, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have despised. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness’” (Num. 14: 28-32).

Asking whether Vatican II was necessary is futile. Blame contraception. Fix what is fixable. The young generation (below 20 in the episode above) will need to extract themselves from the sin of contraception if Vatican II is to help them.

Fr. Anthony Zimmerman
Nagoya, Japan




Is It Too Late?

In her fine article on the Second Vatican Council (Jul.-Aug.), Alice von Hildebrand closes with, “Let us pray that our spiritual leaders will…bring the Holy Barque of Peter back on course.” With great respect and all due apologies to Mrs. von Hildebrand, this seems to be somewhat naïve because our spiritual leaders, from the very top on down, have clearly demonstrated over the past forty years that they do not intend to return to the pre-conciliar Tradition, that they do not intend to get us back on track.

Interestingly, the Catechism cites the coming great apostasy of the Church (#675). Only three months ago, our post-conciliar Church allowed a group of Hindus to celebrate one of their pagan ceremonies in the Fatima Chapel in Portugal that the Virgin herself asked to be built in her honor. Surely this pagan ritual qualifies as the abomination of desolation in the Temple of God. Although I would not presume to say that this proves we are already in the great apostasy, I don’t think that Mrs. von Hildebrand should presume we are not.

Willard King
Escondido, California




Insulting My Employer

Jerry O’Halloran of Littleton, Col., seems incredulous at my suggestion that environmental problems are caused by wealthy, underpopulated countries such as the U.S. (letter, Jul.-Aug). But the facts support my contention. To take just one example, the release of carbon dioxide per capita in the U.S. is over 18 times as great as in Egypt and over 80 times as great as in Kenya. Similar trends are seen in just about any other environmentally relevant measure that one might care to examine.

The environmentalism that our culture preaches is based on “respect for our Mother the Earth,” or similar pagan concepts. By contrast, a genuinely Catholic environmental ethic is based on charity toward future generations. Charity obliges us to leave the earth in a reasonably intact state for those who follow us, and to use no more than our fair share of nonrenewable resources. This is why there is an intimate connection between environmental irresponsibility and the Culture of Death: Those who kill their unborn children are unlikely to care about what sort of earth they leave for future generations.

Again, this is not simply an assertion. There are abundant data to support it. Countries in which abortion is legal have overwhelmingly worse environmental records than countries in which abortion is illegal. For example, the median release of carbon dioxide per capita is nearly 10 times as great in the former as in the latter; and the median air quality index is over twice as high in the latter as in the former. Both of these differences are highly significant statistically.

As regards O’Halloran’s insulting my employer (by asking if my university is an accredited institution), I might point out that the University of South Carolina (founded in 1801) is the oldest state university in America, and has a long history of graduating leaders in all areas of American life.

When I was young, I was taught that Yankees have (among other failings) no manners and little knowledge of history. The explanation offered for these cultural deficiencies was, as I recall, that the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar leaves little time for an appreciation of the finer things in life. At the time I thought the good Sisters exaggerated, but now I’m not so sure.

Prof. Austin L. Hughes
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina




Where’s the Outrage?

As we get ready for the presidential election, I wonder if we’ll once again be cowered into fear and vote for the “lesser of two evils.” Many Catholics vote, as they should, on the abortion issue, the worst human disaster of all time. But are we making progress? Planned Parenthood’s budget and profits keep getting bigger, thanks in large part to the Federal government’s help. Planned Parenthood stated in its 2002-03 Annual Report that 33 percent of its budget came from Federal grants. Since Planned Parenthood is our nation’s largest baby-killing machine, why is it still receiving Federal tax-free funds — even more than under Bill Clinton? I’m not at all suggesting that Democrats would do a better job — they are 100 percent committed to keeping Roe v. Wade legal. But why won’t the Republicans respond with the same 100 percent commitment? George W. Bush has said America is not yet ready to overturn Roe v. Wade. Thank you, President Bush, but over 4,000 children are murdered each and every day while the only outrage seen is for terrorists who killed 3,000 people once.

Donal & Angela McGuire
Springfield, Pennsylvania




Draft the Abortionists!

I am a long-time prolifer, since Roe v. Wade, and now they are coming after our (born) children. Who are they? They are the military complex, which is increasingly beating the drums for the return of mandatory conscription, better known as the draft. Both liberal and conservative politicians are involved in this.

Millions of American women swallowed the Pill and/or had abortions, and now the military needs the children of those who didn’t, to supply it with its pawns for war.

The anti-life movements — both the abortion industry and the war industry — are coming after our children.

So where will the military find the best-disciplined young men (and maybe young ladies) to fill its ranks? Why, those from parochial schools, independent Catholic schools, and those who’ve been homeschooled. As for numbers, go after orthodox Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and Mormons, and also Hispanic and Muslim immigrants. They still have large families. The National Organization of Non-Parents will provide absolutely no one.

Should families with multiple sons (and daughters?) be expected to send them off to be fodder for the military machine? I don’t think so! Let those who refused to choose life for the unborn be drafted to defend our sick country — starting first with the abortionists.

It’s being said that the draft will be rammed through Congress after the election. Why aren’t our conservative prolife organizations making an issue of this injustice to prolifers?

Joan Solms
Aurora, Illinois




Sanctus Bells

Donald D. Hook’s article, “The Disappearing Sanctus Bells” (Jul.-Aug.), brought back some childhood memories.

Having been raised in Queens, N.Y., we would often spend summer days at Rockaway Beach. When the Angelus bells from the church were rung, all the Catholic sunbathers would stand with bowed heads and face the ocean until the last sound was heard — a practice that today, I fear, would be considered by some as quaint and by most as bizarre.

Clara Sarrocco
Glendale, New York






I would like to add something to Hook’s excellent “The Disappearing Sanctus Bells.” One of the arguments used by Jews to repudiate Christianity is the fact that we do not keep the 23 laws given in the Torah that are for “all time.” While “dialoguing” with a popular Jewish writer on the subject, I noted that Protestants do not observe these 23 laws, but Catholics do. Some are quite obvious, but a few take a bit of investigating.

One such law is found in Numbers 10:1-10: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Make thee two trumpets of beaten silver, wherewith thou mayest call together the multitude when the camp is to be removed. And when thou shalt sound the trumpets, all the multitude shall gather unto thee to the door of the tabernacle of the covenant…. And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall sound the trumpets: and this shall be an ordinance forever in your generations…. You shall sound the trumpets over the holocausts and the sacrifices of peace offerings, that they may be to you for a remembrance of your God….”

Our use of bells as a substitute for the trumpets is given in the liturgy of the Blessing of Church Bells, which begins: “God, who decreed through blessed Moses, Your servant and lawgiver, that silver trumpets should be made and be sounded at the time of sacrifice, in order to remind the people by their clear tones to prepare for Your worship and to assemble for its celebration….”

It would appear from this blessing and from the passage from Numbers that both the exterior bells of the church and the sanctus bells are in accord with an ancient law given by God “forever in your generations.” With this in mind, the absence of both interior and exterior bells in modern churches (or the substitution of tacky exterior electronic bells) is even more problematic than noted by Hook.

Diane Toler
Cherry Hill, New Jersey




Which Way to Go?

As my bishop seems to be planning yet more changes to the Mass, I am considering the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) Latin Mass about an hour’s drive away.

In reading through documents, it would seem Rome is reluctant to give a clear approval for attending the SSPX Mass. The obvious objection is that the SSPX does not fully accept the authority of the Pope, but it is questionable if many Catholic bishops fully accept the authority of the Pope. There has been no reference to the present Pope for years in our churches. His statements seem to be ignored. The present Catechism is not mentioned or used in teaching the children sent to “religious” training. The local bishop has not spoken regarding abortion, except in a somewhat convoluted way several years ago. There has been no statement made regarding the Church’s or the Pope’s position on homosexual priests, same-sex “marriage,” or partial-birth abortion. But there have been strong positions against the Latin Mass, which the Pope has been calling for for some time (i.e., the indult Latin Mass). I am reasonably sure that SSPX is more in agreement with the Vatican than many bishops regarding homosexuality or abortion, the teaching of the young, who qualifies for priesthood, or who is qualified to receive Communion. The question is: Who is in schism?

The SSPX believes, as does the Pope, in the Latin Mass and that Transubstantiation takes place. The Latin Mass requires silence and respect — which is much more than is expected by many diocesan priests and many of the bishops.

With the problems in the Church, the general response is to complain to the bishop, when in many cases it is the bishop who is the problem, particularly for priests who are orthodox. Unless they want to be sent to a diocesan Siberia, they toe the line.

It was good to hear that Cardinal Maida (Detroit) was forced, against his “better judgment,” to announce he will have the indult Latin Mass available at two parishes, but there is still a question as to how often and how centrally located these offerings will be. Apparently, these two indult Latin Masses were offered, not because the Pope wants them, but because the SSPX Mass was too popular.

I recently attended a Latin Mass that was approved by the previous Bishop of La Crosse, Wis. What impressed me was the silence before, during, and after Mass. We knelt to receive Communion on the tongue, the sanctus bells rang during the Consecration, and most women had their heads covered. No disruptive sign of peace, no greeters as you entered the church, just respect for the Mass. How wonderful, how holy. Does the Latin Mass cause the respect or is it that those who respect the Mass are attracted to the Latin Mass?

It is hard to understand the semantics: The SSPX Latin Mass is valid but illicit. One of the documents I was supplied with mentioned “formal adherence to the schism…which separates itself [SSPX] from the Supreme Pontiff and the entire Catholic Church.” For many Catholics, however, the majority of American bishops are in schism with the Supreme Pontiff. Just who is more in agreement with Rome, the SSPX or the local bishops? I would doubt that the SSPX would use breakable vessels for Communion. The SSPX speaks out against homosexuality (particularly in seminaries), abortion, and same-sex “marriage.” I’d bet their religious training for the young would be much more in tune with the Catholic Church. Why is it that most of the modern bishops have such a hard time recruiting seminarians? Perhaps it is the lack of role models and a poor message. It seems where it counts, SSPX wins.

The hope for the Church seems to be in the new bishops of the past few years. But why not relieve the wayward bishops of their authority and give us leadership that follows the Magisterium? Why do we have to wait for the Angel of Death to call on these bishops in order for them to be replaced?

John J. Crinnion
Harbor Springs, Michigan




It Is “Man,” Not “a Man”

The letter from V. Rev. Myron Effing (Jul.-Aug.) caused me to reread David Vincent Meconi’s review of Jesus the Christ by Thomas Weinandy. Meconi’s rendering of Weinandy’s understanding of the truths concerning the appellations for Christ — “It is truly the Son of God who is man; it is truly man that the Son of God is; and the Son of God truly is man” — is certainly orthodox. This is right out of our Nicene Creed, which I assume Fr. Effing prays at each Mass. The Nicene Creed in our parish missalette reads, “by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man” (italics added). I cannot understand Fr. Effing’s desire to change it to “a man.”

The Catechism (#456) states: “With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: ‘For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man’” (italics added).

I now quote my pre-Vatican II missal. The Latin is “ET HOMO FACTUS EST.” The English translation on the opposite page is “AND WAS MADE MAN.” (Yes, these particular words are in capital letters on both pages.) All orthodox translations of the Nicene Creed — old and new — read “man.” This is the teaching, this is our faith correctly stated.

Mary Giovanoni
Hagerstown, Maryland



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