February 2006

The Synod on the Eucharist: A Death Wish?

At the start of the recent Synod on the Eucharist in Rome, an Archbishop declared that the revival of the Tridentine-rite liturgy was "not a priority" for the Synod. That tells us something of the state of today's Catholic Church.

This Church is a historic institution. She prides herself on her historic character. She claims to be the Church founded by the Lord of history, intervening through His Incarnation in history and so introducing into history His message of salvation, to be realized only in that history.

Central to this message of salvation is worship, and central to this worship is the Eucharist, and epicentral to the Eucharist is the form of worship practiced by the Church through most of her history, lauded for its sanctity by innumerable popes, saints, and by ecumenical councils, and witnessed to with their blood by the martyrs -- the form of worship that prevailed from Gregory the Great to Paul VI, a form of worship deserving more than a passing mention in a Synod of the Church of the Lord of history!

That Synod focused solely on the novel ("Novus" Ordo) Pauline rite, which had been imposed on the Church by papal fiat in a manner unprecedented in Catholic history, on the advice -- as though to add insult to injury -- of a presumed Mason and six Protestant "observers"! The Catholic Church cannot die, but this is as close as she could get to making a death wish.

It may be mentioned that this Tridentine Latin Mass, though not deserving much attention in the Synod, has always "highlighted the beauty of the Eucharistic action" by the aid of some of the world's most sublime music, beginning with the Gregorian chant and climaxing in the creations of Mozart, Beethoven, and Verdi. What has the Novus Ordo inspired? The ditties of the St. Louis Jesuits.

Prof. José Pereira
Fordham University
Bronx, New York




Let's Raise the Cultural Level of the Masses

Peter W. Stein's letter (Nov.) criticizes the Tridentine Latin Mass, and praises the vernacular Mass in these terms: "Fortunately, the days are gone when Catholics were only obligated to be physically (but not mentally) present during Mass." On the contrary, a Preface to the Mass of the 1962 Roman Missal (the Tridentine Latin Mass) quotes His Holiness, Pope St. Pius X, about the expectations of the faithful during worship. The Pope is very specific that Catholics must "follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the Altar. Further, you must pray with the Priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in the words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the Altar. When acting in this way you have prayed Holy Mass."

Dr. Nicholas Girh, in The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, writes that attacks on liturgical Latin originate "in a superficial and false enlightenment [and] in a shallow and arid rationalism entirely destitute of the perception and understanding of the essence and object of the Catholic liturgy."

In Liturgical Institutions (vol. 1, ch. IV, 184) Dom Gueranger spoke of the Latin language as a bane of liturgical heretics: "Hatred for the Latin language is inborn in the heart of all the enemies of Rome. They recognize it as the bond of Catholics throughout the universe, as the arsenal of orthodoxy against all the subtleties of the sectarian spirit…. We must admit it is a master-blow of Protestantism to have declared war on the sacred language. If it should ever succeed in destroying it, it would be well on the way to victory."

In Iota Unum, Vatican II peritus, Romano Amerio, says the vernacularized liturgy is at odds with the modern world's "egalitarians [who] want to raise the cultural level of the masses, but the abandonment of Latin displays a kind of despising of the people of God, as if they were unworthy in their coarseness to be elevated to a level at which they could appreciate the sublime and poetical, and it damns them instead to drag everything down to the lowest common denominator."

Stein believes the Last Supper involved prayers only in the vernacular Aramaic. However, Michael Davies and others contend otherwise: "In point of fact," writes Davies, "much of the Paschal liturgy was in Hebrew which was as far removed from the contemporary vernacular (Aramaic) as Latin is from modern French."

Stein also seems impressed that priests now face the people (a rubric never practiced in either the Church of the East or West) because, he reasons, "Christ was facing His 12 Apostles" at the Last Supper. Again, Davies explains that "the Last Supper cannot be cited to support a versus populum celebration, quite the contrary. At the Last Supper Our Lord most certainly did not face the Apostles across a table." All of the participants at that first Mass were facing the Temple in Jerusalem, "a direction with a particular religious significance."

When Pope Benedict XVI was Cardinal Ratzinger, he showed at least a mild disdain for the liturgical innovation of the priest facing the people as not only something the Council "says nothing about," but as raising the question, "Is the priest more important than the Lord (standing as he now does with his back to Him)?" Moreover, he writes, "The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed (neo-pagan?) circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself. The common turning toward the east was not a ‘celebration toward the wall'; it did not mean that the priest ‘had his back to the people': the priest himself was not regarded as so important. For just as the congregation in the synagogue looked together toward Jerusalem, so in the Christian liturgy the congregation looked together ‘toward the Lord,'" i.e., the traditional eastward direction of churches -- toward the sun that symbolizes Christ, the true light of history, whom we go to meet (The Spirit of the Liturgy, pp. 69-84).

Matthew V. Haltom
Lexington, Kentucky




St. Joan of Arc Justifies Our War in Iraq

After reading Belloc's and Twain's biographies of St. Joan of Arc, an interesting question popped into my mind. Using the principles of a Just War, which allow you to condemn our presence in Iraq, how would you defend the poster girl for a war of aggression against established authority, like St. Joan, from being "field stripped" of her canonization and condemned to the farthest reaches of Purgatory? Things are no different today.

Ronald J. Malleis, M.D.
Grand Prairie, Texas




THE EDITOR REPLIES:

It's easy. St. Joan was not fighting a war of aggression against established authority. The English invaded France, the English authority was illegitimate, and she liberated much of France from the English. She represented the soul of the French resistance.

Today, the U.S. and the British (the English) have invaded Iraq. The U.S. and British authority is illegitimate. The current puppet President of Iraq is Jalal Talabani. He told the UN recently: "I categorically refuse the use of Iraqi soil to launch a military strike against Syria or any other Arab country." However, he admitted he's powerless against the occupying powers, saying, "At the end of the day my ability to confront the U.S. military is limited and I cannot impose my will on them."

St. Joan can be properly compared to the Iraqi insurgents, who, whether one likes it or not, represent the soul of the Iraqi resistance. You brought up St. Joan. We did not. If any other question "pops" into your mind, you'd better think about it more carefully.





Infuriating

I often disagree with you -- particularly on the war in Iraq. You often infuriate me. However, you lead me to think seriously about the religious issues of our day and about secular issues with a moral implication. For that I thank you -- for making me disagree with you and for infuriating me, which make me think. Accordingly, I renew my subscription -- but I'll do so one year at a time, to keep you on probation (too many "Catholic" publications have fallen over the edge of the world). Besides, you get more money that way, which suits me very well.

William A. Wheatley
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania




Fr. James Morrow: An Unsung Hero

I was immensely pleased with Anne Barbeau Gardiner's excellent review of Fr. James Morrow's book Preaching Life (Nov.). Fr. Morrow is an old and very dear friend of mine. I have worked closely with him since first going over to Scotland in 1989 along with Joan (Andrews) Bell and the other members of our Rescue Outreach team. Since then, I have returned many times to Europe to conduct prolife rescues and other prolife work, both in Britain and on the Continent, as far east as Poland, Russia, and Yugoslavia (then still under Communist rule).

Fr. Morrow is indeed one of the unsung heroes of the small, but brave, British (in his case, Scottish) direct-action movement. Interestingly enough, Fr. Morrow's grandfather was an Orangeman. Could it be this is where he derived his stiff-necked, "not an inch" attitude? This time, it is not directed against Catholics but rather against those who would kill both Protestant and Catholic babies.

Joe Wall
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania




The Fury & Fog of War

Regarding "Terrorizing the Innocent" by Joe Wall (Nov.): Firstly, for Wall's service to our country in the Army during World War II, I am most grateful. Many thanks to him and his brother from my own family, who served, fought, and died during that epic struggle against the evil Nazi Reich.

It is extraordinary, however, what the safety of 50 years and 3,000 miles from the battlefield does to one's ability to find fault. The Corps Commanders who planned and executed the defense of Britain and the liberation of Europe from their bunkers, while German rockets and bombers were pulverizing the city of London above them, might indeed have made a mistake or two. Poor choices lead to imperfect decisions in desperate times. In the end, they did not ask for that vicious war; those seeking their destruction brought it upon them.

Mass murder is a very real and terrible crime. Wall evidently knows the names of the mass murderers and therefore is obligated to identify them. Surely, some of the murderers are still among us, perhaps living in veterans' homes. Justice can still be served with their prosecutions. This would, of course, take more spine than required for the derogatory insinuations in Wall's article.

Incredibly, "‘win the war' hysteria" and "pragmatic political goals" are descriptions given to the heroic and valiant efforts made to defend free peoples and liberate enslaved peoples from an enemy, the likes of which the world had never before seen. These misrepresentations of a deadly, fearsome conflict are disturbing at best.

Secondly, Wall is spot-on identifying abortion, sexual promiscuity, the "gay" lifestyle, and political corruption as manifest evils that are now integral parts of our daily life. However, it is quite a stretch (too far, in fact) to compare personal decisions made by individuals to strategic decisions that affect the fate of nations and generations, and are made during the fury and fog of war. In fact, they are so different as to be incomparable.

Mark E. Medvetz
Colonel USMC (Ret.)
Henniker, New Hampshire






Ed. Note: Yes, "mass murder is a very real and terrible crime," and "justice could be served with their prosecutions." But of course they'd never be prosecuted. As for war crimes: If you win the war, the mass murderers get off scot-free and are even honored; if you lose the war, the mass murderers get hanged or go to prison for the rest of their lives. The fury and fog of war will justify anything -- so long as you don't lose.





Plunder & Devastation

I was delighted to see James G. Hanink's fine review (Nov.) of G.K. Chesterton's William Cobbett, which I have not yet had the privilege of reading. However, I was chagrined at the absence of any mention of what is, for Catholics, Cobbett's magnum opus, his History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland. It is hard to imagine Chesterton overlooking this singular work, though I confess ignorance on the matter. But I do know that Cobbett, an Anglican, wrote this controversial work at considerable risk to his reputation because it was animated by outrage at what he perceived to be the revisionist misrepresentation of the religious history of England in the Protestant textbook histories of his day. "Bloody Mary" vs. "Good Queen Bess"? Nearly the contrary would have been more accurate, in his view. King Henry VIII and Thomas Cranmer -- champions of the faith and fatherland? On the contrary, under their aegis the English Reformation was "Engendered in beastly lust, brought forth in hypocrisy and perfidy, and cherished and fed by plunder, devastation, and by rivers of English and Irish blood." The book, though hardly written in a dispassionate hand, is still worth a careful reading.

Prof. Philip Blosser
Lenoir-Rhyne College
Hickory, North Carolina




Sacrificing Marriage & Family

The Catholic faith is a religion of sacrifice. Read the lives of the saints or distinguished priests and you will find a good measure of sacrifice and suffering in their lives. Contrast this with priests such as Archbishop Weakland (a blackmailed "gay") who exploited the wealth of, and brought irreparable harm to, the Church.

We have great respect for those heterosexual priests who sacrificed marriage and families in order to adopt their congregations as their family. In contrast, the "gay" priest, even though he may lead a celibate life, does not sacrifice having a wife and children. On the contrary, the priesthood gives him a home and respect he would not otherwise have. Permitting "gays" to the priesthood puts all priests under a cloud.

We may not be doing "gay" men a favor by permitting them to become priests, as witnessed by the number of "gay" priests who commit suicide (two in my own Arlington Diocese) when their homosexual pasts are discovered.

The Catholic Church's belief that homosexuality is a disordered condition (i.e., highly neurotic) is one that has stood the test of time. Steps to modify that belief are dangerous and destructive.

Philip S. Adams
Falls Church, Virginia




Hope & Courage

I was saddened but not surprised to read ("Homosexual Activism Meets Catholic Kindergarten" by Michael S. Rose, Dec.) about the persecution of parents who defended their children and their Faith at St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa, Calif. The homosexual partners, who putatively want to educate "their children," are guilty of the sin of scandal when they parade their depravity before other parishioners and children. The school's administrators and Fr. Benzoni shared in the sin by their consent, and Bishop Tod Brown through his silence.

The worst perversion is the persecution of the faithful laity who defended their children and their Faith. I was tempted to despair that the rot in the Church will prevail, but I found signs of hope. The parents' courage inspires me -- and likely many others -- to continue the fight in our own parishes. I pray their trials will win them many graces on earth and in Heaven.

So I find hope that the true Faith will survive thanks to the Holy Spirit, the Magisterium, Michael S. Rose, the NOR, and the faithful parents at St. John the Baptist parish. Deo gratias

Tom Granchi
Houston, Texas




From a Letter to William Donohue of The Catholic League

Dear Mr. Donohue:

I have just finished reading an article by Michael S. Rose titled "Homosexual Activism Meets Catholic Kindergarten" that appeared in the December 2005 issue of the New Oxford Review.

The article deals in part with the fact that two queers were allowed to enroll two of their adopted children in the kindergarten at St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa, Calif. Correctly, some parents objected that this enrollment was permitted. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why it was necessary for you to get into the act by issuing a press release in support of the school.

I agree with one of the parents who said that the kids of this couple are pawns: "The kids are being used by their parents as part of an agenda to make their family's lifestyle acceptable in the Church."

Why was a Catholic institution, that is supposed to support the Magisterium, allowing this to happen? Why didn't these queers establish their own school, and not contaminate the school and other children by their presence? And why did you, as the head of an organization that is supposed to support the Magisterium, volunteer to get dragged into the situation?

Berman E. Deffenbaugh Jr.
San Antonio, Texas




A Letter Writer's Slap at Me

I just read the letter by Ralph Piaskowski (Sept.) about my article in Our Sunday Visitor about a men's conference, and the Archbishop Pilarczyk quote I gave in that article. I fail to see how I "goofed," as Piaskowski put it.

Cincinnati's Pilarczyk, in this case, is correct. The Holy Spirit is working among men and bringing them into a closer relationship with God. I fail to see how either he can be faulted for saying so or how I can be faulted for reporting it. He is a bishop and truth is bound to leak out of him every once in a while, no matter how awful he is, simply by virtue of his office.

I had hoped you would have greater respect for me as a journalistic colleague. I guess that is not the case.

Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz
Peterson, Minnesota




THE EDITOR REPLIES:

Piaskowski started out his letter with this: "I read with much interest, but also sadness, the article ‘Wrestler Priests & Lapdog Editors' by Michael S. Rose (June), a scathing indictment of the sex-abuse scandals in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, supposedly well known but not acknowledged by Archbishop Pilarczyk." Piaskowski continues: "How are we to reconcile the reporting in the NOR and Our Sunday Visitor if they appear to reveal opposite sides of the same man?… I can only believe that Our Sunday Visitor has goofed again."

You should look at what Pilarczyk does, not the sweet-nothings he says. You say Pilarczyk is "a bishop and truth is bound to leak out of him every once in a while…." That's not saying much, for a broken clock tells the right time twice a day.




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