Students Can't Wait for the Next Issue
We really appreciate your magazine here at Holy Innocents School. We have a few students who can't wait for the next issue to arrive, and who keep asking, "Is it here yet?" Then they fight each other for it when it gets here. Eventually, we faculty get to read it, after it is well worn.
We are hoping people might send us some contributions now and then. By God's good fortune, we have a little excess right now, so we can actually send you some money to help with your financial situation.
Dennis M. Cantwell, Headmaster
Holy Innocents School
Federal Way, Washington
Tridentine Mass in English?
Walter Stock suggests (letter, Jul.-Aug.) that the Tridentine Latin Mass be made available in English. The Tridentine Mass is offered in Latin because Latin is a dead language, meaning that it cannot be tinkered with. If the Tridentine Mass is said in the vernacular, it will be tinkered with. One of the prominent problems of the Vatican II Mass is that it is said in the vernacular.
Walter Stock claims that Latin is still being taught in seminaries. He is incorrect. Most seminaries have dropped Latin. Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans recently announced that it will reinstitute Latin, since Pope Benedict relaxed the restrictions on the Tridentine Latin Mass. Why Latin is not a requirement in all seminaries baffles me. The Pope issues his writings in Latin. This means that most priests and some bishops, like kindergarten students, have to ask someone else to tell them what the Pope has written. Senseless.
There was a time when I too thought the Tridentine Mass should be allowed in English. That was before I saw what egotistical priests, homosexual priests, and narcissistic priests did to the Novus Ordo Mass. For these priests, the focal point of the Mass was no longer the worship of God, but their starring role.
The problem is not with the Novus Ordo Mass or the Tridentine Mass. The problem is the clergy. When they make God the object of worship, instead of glorifying themselves, or entertaining the laity, the problem will be solved.
I read your publication religiously (no pun intended). I do not always agree with you, but studying your point of view enables me to better defend mine, or to see the error in my thinking.
Toby J. Russo
Jewish Perspective on the Latin Mass
When Pope Benedict XVI issued his motu proprio liberating the Traditional Latin Mass this past July, a furor erupted in the press that the Catholic Church was taking a step backward by returning to the Old Mass and attempting to revive a dead language. Whether the majority of the Mass is recited in Latin or the vernacular is irrelevant to non-Catholics; it is no threat to them. Imagine if a group told Jews to stop praying in Hebrew, or Muslims to stop praying in Arabic, or Russian Orthodox to stop praying in Old Church Slavonic. It would never happen. The uproar over Latin has its basis either in ignorance or fear of religion. I believe that theophobia is a real disorder.
Among Jews there is worry because the Latin Mass for Good Friday used to contain a phrase that translates to "the perfidious Jews." This passage was removed entirely when Pope John XXIII issued his Missale Romanum of 1962, which will be the missal used for today's Traditional Rite, so there's really nothing for Jews to worry about.
Besides, so what if Catholics pray that Jews and other non-Christians be converted? Some people claim to be "insulted" by this. Would they prefer to be considered beyond salvation -- and therefore suitable to be murdered, as some extremist Muslims consider them?
My wife and I have known a devout Catholic for 25 years. She recently offered to be our sponsor if we converted from Judaism. I judged this to be one of the finest compliments I have ever received, and I told her so. I don't go around waiting to be "insulted." Since the end of World War II, most Christians, including most Catholics, have proved themselves the best friends Jews have.
I was raised as a Conservative Jew. My parents grounded me in my religion, so they had no fear that something as innocuous as the Christmas program at school would "upset" me. They would have found the idea laughable. When I was 11 or 12, they took me to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. But not just any Mass -- a Solemn Pontifical Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, celebrated by Archbishop John J. Mitty. Of course, the Mass was in Latin. I appreciated the fact that the priests faced the altar, not the congregation, showing what was most important.
As the son of a survivor of a Russian pogrom, and the nephew of a victim of the Holocaust, I speak with some credibility when I say that I hope that the Traditional Latin Mass is restored to more churches. I hope that its critics come to realize who their real friends and real enemies are.
David C. Stolinsky, M.D.
Los Angeles, California
The Small-Parish Equivalent of Excommunication
My wife and I were invited several years ago to serve on our parish's Right of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) faculty. I am a cradle Catholic, a product of 16 years of pre-Vatican II Catholic schools, while my wife is a recent convert. Our pastor, a charming man and very much a product of the mischief that followed Vatican II, must have assumed that because we are educated and have clean fingernails we would also be Vatican II enthusiasts. Therein lies a tale.
For a year and a half we gamely and penitently went along as the catechumens were instructed how to be good Protestants while costumed as Catholics. Finally, in a moment of indiscretion, I mentioned that kneeling to receive the Holy Sacrament was more appropriate than standing. The next day, following a midday Mass, I was summoned by the pastor to his office, and my wife and I were summarily discharged from the RCIA faculty (actually, we were secretly pleased).
When our Holy Father just a few months ago urged a more general use of the Tridentine Latin Mass, I notified the parish secretary that I was placing this information on the parish bulletin board. Several days later, apparently after the secretary had finally read the material, she called our Pastor, who was out of town, and with his approval ripped the offending information from the bulletin board.
I have notified our diocesan authorities of the Latin Mass imbroglio; I await their response. I, and possibly my wife, may be on the verge of the small-parish equivalent of excommunication.
J. Michael Bestler, M.D.
Silence from the Pulpit
Fr. Matthew Kauth's sermon, "Why Are So Few Priests Holy?" (Jul.-Aug.), sheds light on a problem of monumental proportions. Surely most Catholics are all too well aware of the silence from the pulpit and its effect on two generations of Catholics. We are obviously living in the midst of a pandemic of moral confusion, yet the silence persists.
St. Augustine asked, "What sort of shepherds are they who for fear of giving offence not only fail to prepare the sheep for the temptations that threaten, but even promise them worldly happiness? God himself made no such promise to this world.... Do you see how dangerous it is to keep silent?... The one appointed for this task, the watchman, did not warn him.... The wicked...justly suffers death and the watchman justly suffers damnation."
Two hundred years later, Pope St. Gregory the Great addressed the same problem. "We can speak only with a heavy heart.... see how full the world is of priests.... although we have accepted the priestly office we do not fulfill its demands.... It is not easy to know for whose sinfulness the preacher's word is withheld, but it is indisputable that the shepherd's silence while often injurious to himself will always harm his flock."
I am an average Catholic, with a large family, who has relocated numerous times throughout the eastern U.S. over the past fifty years. And like so many others I can testify to the almost total dearth of homilies appropriate to these morally depraved times.
St. Thomas Aquinas maintained that sins of commission and omission are of the same species of sin. So I would ask why most priests would not be in a continuous state of serious sin of omission in precisely the same manner as a soldier in battle who deserts his post (making him liable to capital punishment) or a medical doctor who refuses to treat victims of a plague. Bishop Fulton Sheen once pointed out that "There are no plains in the moral order; we are either going up or down." And we all know that we never travel alone. God help us.
F. John O'Donnell
Brick, New Jersey
Keep the Heat on Heretical Writings
Anne Barbeau Gardiner has performed a great service with her extensive review (Jul.-Aug.) of Alyssa Lyra Pitstick's book about Hans Urs von Balthasar's theories regarding universal salvation. From numerous items appearing in the NOR over the past few years about Hell, especially "Anne Barbeau Gardiner Answers Jacques Servais" (Sept. 2002), I was aware of von Balthasar's heterodox and untenable position regarding Christ's descent into Hell, but until I read Gardiner's book review, I was not aware that it was merely one tenet in a completely heretical view of the Christ and His earthly ministry.
I encourage the NOR to "keep the heat" on the heretical writings of von Balthasar and on Ignatius Press for publishing them. For shame!
Good Enough for Me
Regarding Scott Hahn's statement alleging that the Holy Spirit has a feminine nature (letter, Jul.-Aug.), I do not profess to have the depth of theological understanding of our Catholic Faith that Hahn has. But I would not want that depth of study if it leads me to question or doubt the tenets of my faith in any way.
I do know, however, that if the Bible is the inspired word of God, which we know is true, and Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as "He" and "Him," then that is good enough for me and there need be no further debate on the issue of the "femininity" of the Holy Spirit.
Richard R. Schroeck
The Apostasy Already Infecting Our Church
In his article on the Third Secret of Fatima (Jul.-Aug.), Fr. James Anderson renders a fine summary of the facts surrounding that Secret. But he seems reluctant to draw any conclusions from them. Let me, therefore, try to do so.
If in 1960, as specifically requested by the Mother of God, Pope John XXIII had released the Third Secret of Fatima, and consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Russia would long since have converted to Catholicism, and our world today would be enjoying the peace promised us by the Blessed Virgin. This is an indisputable truth because it was told to us by our Blessed Mother, and authenticated by God Himself through one of the greatest of His miracles, the Miracle of the Sun, on October 13, 1917.
But instead, that Pope buried the Secret in the Vatican archives, and went ahead with his plans for the Second Vatican Council, the Council that gave us a new liturgy and engendered a crisis of faith throughout the Church. The faithful have fallen away. Churches have closed. Attendance at Mass has dwindled. Seminaries and convents have emptied. Vocations are few and far between. And those who still profess to be Catholic no longer believe the most basic teachings of their two-thousand-year-old Faith.
In light of all this, why did neither John XXIII nor the popes who followed release the Third Secret? As Fr. Anderson asks, "What must the Blessed Mother have told Lucia and Jacinta that required such secrecy by three Popes until 2000?"
The answer is self-evident. Every serious student of Fatima has concluded that the Third Secret foretold a great apostasy in the Church, with priests and prelates up to the highest levels in the Vatican abandoning the Catholic Faith of two millennia. Thus, the three Popes -- John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II -- were forced to withhold that Secret, for to release it would be to publicly indict themselves by the words of the Virgin herself for their participation in, and their promotion of, the non-Catholic novelty and nonsense that has evolved in the Church since Vatican II.
By the year 2000, Pope John Paul II may or may not have decided that the time had come to release the Third Secret to the world. But, in any event, he did not do so. For on May 13 of that year, then-Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sodano did not release the Third Secret. Instead, he released a text that said, in essence, that the Third Secret consisted of a vague prophecy that spoke of an attack on a pope, and that, since an attack had been made on John Paul II in 1981, the Secret was a thing of the past. Shortly thereafter, in a June 26, 2000, news conference, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) and then-Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone shamefully supported Sodano by saying that the Third Secret consisted only of Sister Lucia's vision of a pope, amid countless corpses, being attacked outside a half-ruined city.
Whatever John Paul II's intentions may have been, modern Rome, having already disobeyed the Virgin's specific request that her Secret be released to the world by the year 1960, chose to compound that disobedience by consigning her Secret to a past event, suggesting that, except for the admonition to do "Penance, Penance, Penance," it was no longer a matter of any importance. The top members of John Paul II's own Curia invited God's vengeance upon themselves and upon the Church by blasphemously distorting His Mother's message beyond all recognition.
And the Third Secret has still not been released. Even today, thanks to Antonio Socci's excellent book The Fourth Secret of Fatima, Cardinal Bertone, the present Vatican Secretary of State, embarrasses himself and the Church almost daily by trying to perpetuate the lie that the entire Secret was released in the year 2000, and that it is just a relic of the past, an anachronous message that is neither applicable nor helpful in today's terrible times.
The true Third Secret of Fatima, which follows the Virgin's words, "In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved...," foretells the apostasy that has already infected our Church. It also foretells the consequences of that apostasy: A great chastisement upon all of mankind from God Himself, including wars, persecution of the Church, and the annihilation of billions of people around the globe, both good and evil. And because those in authority over the Church have still not released the Third Secret a full 90 years after the Virgin first appeared at Fatima, the fulfillment of these dire prophecies is now both inevitable and imminent. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Going Too Far
Dennis Bonnette's article, "Must Human Evolution Contradict Genesis?" (Jul.-Aug.), goes too far. He says, "the vast majority of mainstream natural scientists maintain that evolution theory is factual." As a matter of fact, even Darwin recognized that the lack of intermediate links in the geologic strata was an argument against evolution. Now, nearly 150 years later, with so many fossils having been unearthed, there are no signs of transitional forms between species.
In Darwin's time, cellular complexity was unrecognized. How does one explain the change from one species to another except through random mutations? Yet we know that nearly all mutations are harmful. Furthermore, there would have to be numerous mutations of a beneficial nature occurring at the same time in order for a species to change. The likelihood of this is impossible.
The second law of thermodynamics, or the law of entropy, tells us that natural processes always tend toward disorder, and the simple will never produce the more complex. But evolution requires random molecules to assemble into complex systems, and simple life forms to transform into more complex life forms. So evolution defies the second law of thermodynamics.
As for the "evolutionist" Teilhard de Chardin, he was party to the Piltdown Man hoax that lasted 40 years. Testing showed that the skull belonged to a man, the jawbone was from an ape, and the teeth in the jawbone had been filed down to make them look human. Further, all had been chemically stained to look ancient. The finds were only 500 years old.
The so-called pre-hominid creatures are falsifications. Most so-called pre-hominid remains consist of no more than small pieces of skull, teeth, and some leg bones. In a number of cases there was a deliberate joining of ape and human parts to fabricate pre-hominids. All it took was artists to fill in the missing parts, and voilà, the creation of Neanderthals!
With all due respect, I suggest that Dr. Bonnette stay in the realm of philosophy and not venture into the field of science.
DENNIS BONNETTE REPLIES:
Helen Smart objects to my statement that "the vast majority of mainstream natural scientists maintain that evolution theory is factual." While offering her own arguments against evolution, she infers that I spoke outside my philosophical competence and rendered a false empirical scientific judgment.
My statement does not say that I endorse evolution theory. What it does say is that the vast majority of properly credentialed empirical scientists endorse evolution as factual. That statement is true. As a philosopher, I do not render the judgment, proper to empirical science, that these scientists are correct in embracing evolution. Whether they are experts on evidence about evolution, or merely scientists conditioned by education to think in evolutionary terms, I did not say. What I did say remains true: Most empirical scientists accept evolution as fact.
My article examines the widely held theory of human evolution and seeks to determine whether that theory is rationally compatible with legitimate scriptural interpretation. In so doing, I allow the proponents of evolution to explain it in their own terms, so as to obtain an accurate grasp of what they claim. Thus, I use such phrases as "most evolutionists maintain..." and "evolutionists reject..." and "paleoanthropologists date...." Using proper philosophical analysis, I then evaluate whether their empirical claims appear rationally compatible with what Scripture tells us about human origins. That I am not trying to settle all empirical scientific claims is evinced when I allow that "some may prefer other alternatives, such as rejecting evolution in favor of young-earth creationism."
In my book Origin of the Human Species (Sapientia Press, 2003; second edition, 2007), I conclude, "We may never know whether human or general evolution occurred because of (a) the complexity of the issues raised; (b) evolution's unscientific unfalsifiability; and (c) perinoetic knowledge's limitations." My article is but a brief summary of a central theme presented in my book in far greater detail, and which is there combined with many related topics, such as the implications of ape-language research. My study of evolution necessarily entails an interdisciplinary approach, including all the empirical sciences and theology -- but always employing the philosophical method. That philosophical method concludes that empirical science cannot demonstrate the truth of any naturalistic evolutionary theory regarding human origins.