Saturday, September 28, 2013

Te Splendor et Virtus Patris

Below is the last verse of the Vespers hymn for the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel. Sadly, this clip is the only one on Youtube of the hymn in any form (save one vulgar instrumental version). The hymn is really quite haunting and the organist displays an excellent ability to improvise without becoming overbearing, as is the tendency when organists are asked to fill in extra time.
Happy feast to all!

Lesser Known Fathers VI: St. Gregory of Nyssa's "On the Soul and the Resurrection" and Universal Salvation

Christos anesti!
St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote On the Soul and the Resurrection following the death of his brother, St. Basil the Great, archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Gregory was very unlike his brother, the great Cappadocian bishop. Basil and Gregory came from a family of about nine children, half of them recognized as saints. Basil, at the behest of his sister, the monk St. Macrina, embraced the ascetic life. Gregory married a woman named Theosebia and took a career in rhetoric, though serving as a lector in the Church. In 371, likely after Theosebia's death, Gregory, under his brother's influence, was elected bishop of the newly created episcopal see in Nyssa. St. Basil died in 379, prompting a grieving Gregory to visit his sagacious sister, Macrina, who died the very next day herself. Shortly thereafter St. Gregory composed On the Soul and the Resurrection, possibly as a means of coping and possibly as a way to continue to interact with his brethren "who here or elsewhere lie asleep in the Lord." On the Soul and the Resurrection, which would probably generate an interesting reaction from many more traditional Roman Catholic priests today, is written in the Greek dialogue style, using the author as the emotional and unsure enquirer and his saintly sister Macrina as the logical and wise respondent.
St Macrina, sister of the author and
respondent in the dialogue.
The first section of On the Soul constructs the reason the soul exists and, in passing, on why one can expect it to be immortal. The first necessary construct is the existence of God. All Creation, says Macrina, points toward the existence of the Creator Himself just as "cloth suggests a weaver." The error of Epicurus and his followers was to look at physical matter as it was and to look no further. Under this scheme of philosophy man is a physical arrangement of particles, and one in decay at that. If the soul exists though, and is part of the human person, who decays, does not the soul die with the body? Does it dissolve? Even if it did, Macrina observes, it would be akin to a shattered pot, whose shards still suggest the makings of the original pot. More important to Macrina is the Greek belief that like attracts and reflects like. The human person is a reflection of the larger Creation, of which he is a part. He has a physical aspect like the earth and the stars and the mud, but has the soul as well, just as the Universe has God. Far from the soul being an alternative to God, the soul, in Greek philosophy, is a microcosm of God within the human person, an icon (although St. Gregory does not use this terminology). When one understands this one understands the Incarnation as conceived by Ss. Athanasius (On the Incarnation) and John of Damascus (Three Treatises on Icons): that the human soul, as an icon of God, was so precious God could not allow it to continued in corruption and decay.
St. Gregory attempts to ascertain of Macrina a definition of the soul. Macrina makes a convincing materialistic case against the soul and then turns the entire argument in favor of the soul (Ch 2). The soul is an intelligence that has latent thought and some sort of knowledge, she contends. She asks Gregory how he can understand the illumination and phases of the Sun and Moon without the soul? Here the "soul" she has constructed is really analogous to the brain's consciousness as modern science would conceive of it. The "soul" is really just a means of processing and applying information gathered from a lifetime of observation. However, she continues "Is it not clearly proved by what we can see that there is in man a mind, something else beside what we can see? By the invisible intelligence of its own nature the mind makes such plans by thoughts within itself; then, as we have described, through material assistance it brings into the open the concepts which exist within." Her primary example is "art"—by which she includes engineering. Art is a creative faculty which, although it uses knowledge of physical matter, re-arranges matter in a higher and better state, much like the God of Whom the soul is a microcosm.
Is not this apophatic approach without merit, asks Gregory. What is the use in defining the soul based on negative principles (the soul is without a body, the soul is without physical properties etc). His sister in dialogue upbraids him: "We make cowardice known by calling it 'unmanliness'." To deny the non-physical would be to deny God Himself. It would also mean the denial of ideas or of thought. Moreover, precisely because the soul is not part of the body it can survive after death. Were the soul physical it would break up, as a wrecked ship, after death. But instead it can be present at any place without losing any of its essence or form. This point touches on a type of knowledge apparent to the ancient Platonists and their Christian successors, of which St. Gregory is one, but which our materialistic philosophers neglect. Sometimes things, like ideas, are not easily categorized as part of physical phenomena, such as brain activity. A classically Platonic example might be the concept of a sphere; someone may only see oblong objects all his life, but he will know what a perfect sphere is and that oblong shapes are not it. A similar epistemology is at work in On the Soul.
Are not emotions an obstacle here? How does one taxonomize the mind, the soul, and simple impulses? Herein enters a distinction between the Passions, sinful impulses, and simple emotions which are proper to physical nature. Passions, although the word is used sparingly, are impulses that are not of God and therefor not proper to the soul, as the soul if of God. One example St. Gregory, in the person of Macrina, gives is anger. None of the saints were angry people. What about Moses? Chapters 2 and 12 Exodus surely state otherwise. But no, Macrina controverts. Anger is the unholy desire to cause harm to another without just provocation (ch. 3). Emotions of their own are of no harm, but it is meet for them to be subjected to the intellect and to the soul (between which St. Gregory hardly makes a distinction). Animals have all the physical qualities and emotions as persons, but lack the acumen and consciousness of humans. For this reason man is called a "rational" animal in Greek thought. Macrina illustrates this ordering of personal properties using the Platonic Chariot from Phaedrus. The soul and mind are the charioteer while the emotions are the horses. Were the mind not in control the human person would become entangled and crushed in emotion and impulse as the charioteer would in the reins of his horses were he not directing them in their paths.

The Harrowing of Hell (Descent into Hades)
In chapter 4 Macrina uses the geocentric astronomy of the time to prove that while the soul is immortal it does not go to a physical "place." The "infamous" word of "Hades" suggests something more to Macrina. The character of Gregory objects to this doctrine on the basis of St. Paul's epistle to the Philippians, which, in chapter 2, the Apostle says that at the "name  of Jesus every knee must bend, of those above the earth, on the earth, and under the earth." Macrina corrects Gregory and proves that by this Paul meant those in different states of being: those pure and in heaven, those still attached to flesh on earth, and those who let their Passions consume them and who have been subsumed by the things of the earth. On the whole, St. Gregory's willingness to engage in contemporary astronomy and ideas of being impresses the reader in this chapter and makes him appreciate the work of serious scholars who attempt to do the same with the faith today.

Michelangelo's racy depiction of the General
Resurrection and Last Judgment
St. Gregory—in Macrina—finally makes a formal, and long overdue, distinction between the intellect and the soul in an allegory about the General Resurrection. The character Gregory ponders how the soul can go on without a body and how it can continue without a body to recognize (Ch. 5). Macrina draws a parallel to mixing hues of paint, such as black and red, which form a new hue, but which can—with great difficulty—be separated into their previous forms, still known to the artist. The same is true of God, and His knowledge and ability to "re-mix" the human bodies justify the Church's faith in the General Resurrection at the end of time. Then in what state does the soul exist between death and the General Resurrection? How does the soul not exist corporeally as suggested in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus? Was he not taken "into the bosom of Abraham" (Luke ch. 16)? "Bosom," retorts Macrina, suggests a place of proximity or closeness to home. "Bosom" was a term for the land near a bay in the Greek language likely spoken by the Evangelists. Abraham was the first to be joined to the covenant that would bring the Savior into the world, and so residence at his "bosom" points toward a proximity to Christ's work (might present a problem for the hardline EENS party). Here we stumble upon two issues which have been present in the background thus far: 1-the soul is certainly incorporeal and when it enters eternity it does so immaterially (which makes sense, as modern science tells us time and "space"—material—are bound together) and 2-this work, although a treasure, has a vagueness in terminology that can tend toward confusion concerning the soul. This last point has troubled scholars of St. Gregory for years.

Continuing, why does the Rich Man still show concern for his kin and friends while Lazarus does not? Macrina gives Gregory another wonderful image. Consider a man who spends considerable time in a place infested with a foul stench. He may emerge into clean air and enjoy the improvement of his affairs, but some of the onerous odor will linger with him until time and the breeze take it away. This conflict between the Divine transformation of the person and past sins is the source of shame (Ch. 6). A Christian seeking to improve his life by God's grace will progress along the Divine path, aided and motivated by hope, but find himself tugged backward and discouraged by memories of the past: "And thus a civil war is established in the soul, in which memory fights with hope, accusing it of fighting our choice badly. The feeling of shame clearly interprets some such meaning, when the soul is stung by the result. The soul attacks the thoughtless impulse with repentance as with a whip and enlists forgetfulness as an ally against the source of grief." This is overcome by "purification," a process by which a person gradually separates from the things of the world, the Passions in Eastern theology, that restrain one from God. A purified person does not lose his "impulses," Macrina assures Gregory, because all good impulses flow from God. Instead the impulses more or less cease because the person no longer needs to desire God, having attained purification and having become more like Him: "If the soul has no desire because it has no lack of anything good, it would follow that the soul which has no insufficiency also casts out from itself the desiring impulse and disposition, which occurs only when something wanted is not present."

Met. Alfeyev contemplates purgation.
The separation from the things of the world is accomplished by purification, in this life or after death if necessary. The procession of purification was later called "Purgatory"—for purgation—by Pope St. Gregory the Great and gained the lasting association with fire. The Byzantines have a less lucid approach to the matter. If someone dies and does not go straight to heaven that person is said to be in the "intermediate state" and in need of prayers. It is also unclear in this theology if Hell is closed, given that Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev stated that the Orthodox view of Hell corresponds to the Catholic idea of Purgatory—drawing on Origen's belief that even the Lucifer will be redeemed, a belief condemned by Pope Vigilius (Denzinger 209 & 211). Gregory takes a more grounded approach while implicitly suggesting all might be saved. He appeals to both God's mercy and His justice. God purifies each sinner proportional to the amount of evil committed by that person and to which he remains attached just as a goldsmith may have to melt down metals in different way to extract gold. "So the divine judgment," Gregory in character elucidates, "as it seems, does not primarily bring punishment on sinners. As our discourse has just shown, it operates only by separating good from evil and pulling the soul towards the fellowship of blessedness. It is the tearing apart of what has grown together which brings pain to the one who is being pulled" (Ch. 7). Gregory alludes, but does not argue, to the limited nature of punitive measures, that the "punishment fits the crime." What finite crime is worthy of eternal punishment? Even the man who is punished in the parable of the debtors (Matthew 18) is only tortured until "he pays back all that he owes." The Saint's greater concern is not punishment, but the pains of purification. The Christian must seek to avoid occasions of sin and places of evil influence lest he suffer the torments of purification. Here Gregory shies away from the obvious question of free will: "Freedom consists in becoming like that which has no master and is under its own control." In the end, evil will suffer total defeat: "In this the apostle seems to me to teach the complete annihilation of evil. If God will be in everything that exists, evil obviously will not be among the things which exist; for if one should supposed that evil existed, how would it remain true that God is 'in all?' If evil is excluded, not all things are included. But He Who will be 'in all,' will not be in what does not exist."

The Saint devotes the entirety of chapter 8 to the refutation of contemporary pagan beliefs, among them the diverse narratives of reincarnation and other "nonsense." Chapter 9 is more intriguing. Macrina concludes that, owing to the order of Creation, the soul originates with the body—opposing Origen's doctrine of the soul's pre-existence—but that it also flourishes as the body grows until death, wherein it can neither grow nor become corrupt as it can on earth; it becomes stable as physical phenomenon, once it ceases to grow or decay, becomes stable. The emergence of the soul with the body is in accordance with Creation, given that God created the universe ex nihilo, the soul included. This Christian doctrine controverts the pagan belief that the universe is actually a formulation of pre-existing, eternal matter. Fascinatingly, 19th century atheists promoted this very teaching in order to undermine the possibility of a Creator; Einstein himself implicitly believed in it because he believed in a static universe, until Fr. Georges Lemaitre convinced him otherwise with the Big Bang theory, which many scientists at the time wrote off as Catholic nonsense. Oddly, Stephen Hawking now uses that same Catholic nonsense to discourage the idea of a Creator and the eternality of the matter which comprises the universe. Some errors never die. Macrina, seeking to avoid a pagan belief that could not be disproved until the advances of 20th century physics, wholesale denies the materiality of matter! According to her color, shape, and other features create matter, not elements.

On the Soul concludes with a discourse on the General Resurrection itself. Just as God breathed life into the material to create and animate life, so will His Spirit do the same at the General Resurrection. The gift of life is one that comes from the Holy Spirit, as the book of Genesis tells us. Yet Resurrection is accomplished and eventuated through the person of Jesus Christ. Although the Spirit gives life, Christ is the one Who resurrects the dead in the Gospel, including Lazarus, who had been dead and decomposing for four days. Here Gregory introduces some objections to the Resurrection, from both the perspective of a doubter and from the perspective of a secularist. The doubter questions how the Resurrection, with the same physical body as people had in life on earth, should be viewed in light of suffering. Many live with great ailments and deformations; others die old and decrepit; others still die as children. The secular objection doubts the physical aspect of the Resurrection. What use are certain organs if they will no longer be used? What of the condition of the resurrected body? How will it appear? Macrina condemns these objections as deceitfully crafted rhetoric void of merit upon learned and patient consideration. Macrina returns to the theme of purification. Physical pain and ailment were brought into the world by sin. Purification from sin and attachment also means detachment from the physical punishments condign to sins. the human body will no longer appear as it did on earth, but rather as it should have before the Fall of Adam and Eve. At this point the words of St. Paul will come true: corruption will put on incorruption, and mortals will put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15).

St. Gregory, through Macrina, takes the Temple of Jerusalem as a type of the renewed life of the resurrected. In the Temple the Holy of Holies was so sacred only a priest could enter it, and only once a year at that. The next part of the Temple was reserved for those chosen as priests. The next after that belonged to the followers of the Law. The part beyond that was more generally accessible and did not require people to take actions or make merits. And the gate was accessible to regular Jews or anyone else. All those barriers and gradations will be gone at the General Resurrection after purification. Man will see God as He is and be at home. At the end of On the Soul and the Resurrection St. Gregory writes "So when such things are cleansed and purified away by the treatment through fire, each of the better qualities will enter in their place: incorruptibility, life, honor, grace, glory, power, and whatever else of this kind we recognize in God Himself and in His image, which is our human nature."

St. Gregory is certainly the most Greek of the Fathers featured thus far. His philosophy and outlook relies much more on Hellenistic thought than the Eastern ascetics and Latin Fathers presented in prior installments. Many of his conclusions are unique or foreign to us, but we ought not discount them out of hand, as they give us spiritual food for thought. Next in the series, St. Theodore the Studite.

St. Gregory of Nyssa, pray for us!

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Blog and Coming Post

A friend of the Rad Trad's now has his own blog, Ad Gloriam Ecclesiae. The blog is written from a layman's perspective. The writer comes to the Church from an Anglican background and the Rad Trad knows him to be a good man. This is welcomed, as much has been made about clergy from the Ordinariate, but hardly a peep about the laity. Ad Gloriam Ecclesiae seems to be geared toward giving a layman's perspective on Ordinariate-related matters such as the liturgy and ecumenism, a refreshing change from priest bloggers and uppity Roman laymen such as the Rad Trad. Currently the top post is a very interesting narrative of a blind man being given a description of the Temple of Jerusalem in the first century. Check it out here.
Tomorrow the Rad Trad will post part VI in the Lesser Known Fathers series, hopefully an interesting look at St. Gregory of Nyssa's On the Soul and the Resurrection, and why the Saint seems to have believed in universal salvation. Stay tuned. It is a wonderful book!
Lastly, pray for my mother. It is her birthday today.

Two Different Kinds of Worship

One of the Rad Trad's pet projects in his liturgy-oriented posts is to shock those attached to the older rites out of legalism and an undue attachment to the baroque, Counter-Reformation mindset—which includes aesthetics and style.
Behold examples of two very different kinds of worship, nominally using very similar books. Below is a very baroque low Mass on Paschal Thursday. A dandy organ plays flourishes and arpeggios over the prayers before the altar, the Gloria, the offertory, the Canon (!!!), and the end of Mass. The chasuble would only look proportionally correct on someone four feet tall. And the sanctuary, although rich and elegant, somehow does not look beautiful to my eye. Perhaps I am too picky, antiquarian, or stodgy. Moreover, something about this arrangement does not do justice to the liturgy. On the bright side, there is a votive commemoration for the Pope and something missing from the Canon. Some here will know what that means!

It is probably unfair to compare this weekday Mass to a solemn Mass done to the nines, but hear me out. The Sarum Mass below (I mention the rite so much I ought to do a series on it at some point) represents, I think, a very different approach to the liturgy, one that goes beyond high Mass vs. low Mass. The architecture of the sanctuary, the aesthetics (which even in the Middle Ages were distinct from the secular), the presence of cantors, the restrained use of instruments, and the role of those in attendance as more than spectators all contrast starkly with the vestments, style, and architecture latent in the above video. Moreover the variations in Sarum from the Roman rite, like the kiss of peace between the sacred ministers prior to ascending the altar, indicate a charismatic, spiritually adroit outlook in the celebrants who formed that liturgy.
Just food for thought.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Question for Readers

The Rad Trad knows his readers worship the Lord in various rites and types of communities: FSSP and other Ecclesia Dei Latin Masses, diocesan Latin Masses, SSPX Masses, the Pauline Mass in a diocesan setting, and the Byzantine rite. The Rad Trad has found the parishioners in these communities tend to vary in their views of Darwinian Evolution and Msgr. Georges Lemaitre's Theory of the Primeval Atom (aka the "Big Bang"). The question for readers is: what is the outlook in your area? Be as specific or opaque as you wish. There is no desired answer. It is merely a sociological question.

Ad Orientem

A primer on the practice of praying facing Eastward, going through the Jewish tradition, the Scriptures, and archaeological evidence. She does make a mistake when she says St. Peter's Basilica does not face East. It certainly does. After listening to this one understands just how important and rooted in tradition orientation is.

Good Friday Re-Visited

The Rad Trad's most viewed post is his summary of the pre-Pius XII rites for Good Friday, accompanied by photographs from a celebration by the Institute of Christ the King in 2003 at their seminary. What the Rad Trad neglected to mention is that a noble custom, now often out of practice, of "deposing" the Corpus of the Lord from the Crucifix often followed the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified on Good Friday. The Corpus would then be buried in a "sepulcher" in a manner akin to the epitaphios in the Byzantine rite, which has maintained their venerable liturgical rite. The Rad Trad has discovered what such a rite might look like. What follows below is the tale end of such a deposition ceremony on Good Friday, 2013 at the Franciscan monastery in Jerusalem (this particular Franciscan community runs the Latin segment of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher). The Corpus is given the customary funerary rites, then wrapped in a sheet, and reposed in a tomb. This seems to "drive home the point" better than the customary Stations of the Cross, albeit not all parishes will have a side chapel large enough to create a sepulcher.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

From a Different Perspective

From The Journals of Fr. Alexander Schemman:

Wednesday, October 3, 1979

The Pope of Rome is in New York. We watched him on television in Yankee Stadium. A mixed impression. On one hand, an unquestionably good man and full of light. Wonderful smile. Very genuine — a man of God. But, on the other hand, there are some “buts”! First of all, the Mass itself. The first impression is how liturgically impoverished the Catholic Church has become. In 1965, I watched the service performed by Pope Paul VI in the same Yankee Stadium. Despite everything, it was the presence, the appearance on earth of the eternal, the “super earthly. Whereas yesterday I had the feeling that the main thing was the “message.” This message is, again and again, “peace and justice,” “human family,” “social work,” etc. An opportunity was given, a fantastic chance to tell millions and millions of people about God, to reveal to them that more than anything else they need God! But here, on the contrary, the whole goal, it seemed, consisted in proving that the Church also can speak the jargon of the United Nations. All the symbols point the same way: the reading of the Scriptures by some lay people with bright ties, etc. And a horrible translation: I never suspected that a translation could be a heresy: Grace — “abiding love”!
Crowds — their joy and excitement. Quite genuine, but at the same time, it is clear that there is an element of mass psychosis. “Peoples’ Pope . . .” What does this really mean? I don’t know. I am not sure. Does one have to serve Mass in Yankee Stadium? But if it’s possible and needed, shouldn’t the Mass be, so to say, “super-earthly,” separated from the secular world, in order to show in the world — the Kingdom of God?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Practical Effects of Ultramontanism

Fr. Ray Blake has an interesting post reacting to one ex-SSPX commenter's difficulties with Pope Francis and the general mood that surrounds the Roman Pontiff. In the comments section one poor fellow, who struggles with homosexuality, has thought about ditching Rome for one of the Eastern Orthodox groups. It begs the question: why such a reaction? Why does the personality and the [positive or negative] aura of a given Pope matter so much to people's lives?
More liturgically-oriented readers have probably realized by now that the Rad Trad is not so rad of an Ultramontanist. Indeed, he has little use for the late-19th century, Jesuitical fad that provided so much material for the BBC series Bless Me, Father. What few realize today, either in Traddieland or the mainstream, is how personal and shocking the effects of Ultramontanism have been. The phenomenon has devolved from a hyper-obsession with the Petrine office into a singular focus on the personality of whoever currently wears a white cassock and lives in Vatican City. Ultramontanism can be defined as this: The reigning Pope is always right and inspired by the Holy Spirit in everything he does and everything he approves, until another Pope does something different, in which case we just do not understand it" (Rad Trad Dictionary under "U").
Those who remember the 1960s, '70s, and '80s are about to take a quick stroll down memory lane, but it is prudent to consider what happened when, during and after the Second Vatican Council, the Church infrastructure created by highly centralized Ultramontanism fractured and crumbled under the burden of episcopal conferences, scandalous bishops, bad (but Papally sanctioned) liturgy, ecumenism gone wild, and other degrees of abuse (warning! most of this will sound highly tonue-in-cheek, but I make these comments from an observational, sociological standpoint and do not mean them personally; I am not singling out any readers or any public figures):
  • Continue to call one's self Catholic but cease to adhere to the Church: by far the most common result. So many had put stock into every word that Pius XII said that when Paul VI assumed the Papal chair and allowed bishops and clergy to go wild the impression was that none of this was really important after all. Most ceased to attend Mass and the dissipation of morality followed. Some retained the moniker of "Catholic" and even some cultural vestiges like fish on Fridays, but the great mass of people just left and looked back to those halcyon days as something childish or of a different era.
  • Continue in the Church, but gradually lose vigor: this was the second most common result of the meltdown of the old institution. A number of people found the vernacular readings in 1964 interrupted their private Rosaries during Mass, but His Holiness approved this new practice so along they went. As the liturgy and catechesis devolved and Rome sat lax, Mass attendance became more of a cultural and mechanical function than ever before (not that many did not attend out of social obligation before the collapse of Ultramontanism). The Church became a NGO in the eyes of these people with the Pope, a funny and stodgy old man, as the CEO. He introduced what appeared to be a new program, which was less interesting than the older one, yet it was not an entirely unpleasant experience. On the whole, this reaction can be likened to a classical local restaurant with a trust-worthy owner (let us call him Bill) everyone knows and loves. One day he changes the menu and the number of people going to dinner diminishes, but enough people from the old crowd who, although they do not care for the food, still like Bill patronize the place to support their friend and relive past experiences.
  • Stay and get with the spirit of the times in an orthodox manner: forerunner to the "hermeneutic of continuity." Many of these people held to every word of Paul VI and John Paul II on social issues and especially took to the Polish Pontiff's zeal. This birthed the "JP2" crowd that the Rad Trad recalls so vividly from his university days. These folks are often good people who read the 1992 Catechism and attend Mass frequently; they have adopted the Divine Mercy chaplet (could never get the hang of it) and Taize music for meditation. Everything the Pope, but especially the 1978-2005 Pope, says is inspired by the Spirit, Who dwells amongst us and directs us toward a renewal so fruitful we can hardly comprehend it.
  • Stay and become irate: this option gave birth to the more extreme elements of Traddieland. This crowd, more than the others thus far, shows the harsh effects of Ultramontanism. If everything every Pope before the Second Vatican Council said was as divinely-inspired as the Gospel, one has great difficulty in reconciling Francis and Pius X. Many went on to participate in the Traditionalist movement and join up with "independent" chapels or the Society of St. Pius X. These groups often view the Popes from 1958 onward as material heretics who, although they ought to be infallible in everything they do, must be totally ignored for not celebrating the Tridentine low Mass, writing encyclicals on neo-Thomistic theology, promoting the Sacred Heart, and condemning everyone who does not follow these precepts. Some of this group "lightened up" and joined the Ecclesia Dei type communities like the ICRSS, FSSP, IBP, and "indult" Masses.
  • Sort of stay: sedevacantism is the even more extreme consequence of the preceding line of thought. If the Pope is perfect and the current Popes are unlike their predecessors, then they are not perfect and hence not Popes. Someone who is different is doctrinally suspect; someone who is suspect is a material heretic; someone who is a material heretic is really just a low key formal heretic; and a formal heretic cannot be Pope. Amazing how that works. Best form our own $ociety of $t $omeone and furnish the place with kitsch statues of saints popular between the pontificates of Gregory XVI and Pius XII.
  • Go Protestant: the new following of the Pope, and the ecclesiastical world which emanates from him, is so dull that one may as well go to a Protestant community and really get church'd. In the 1970s and 1980s many Catholics lost their faith and then "found" it in evangelical protestant churches where they sang, danced, and learned the [abbreviated] Bible. This phenomenon has, thankfully, declined in recent decades. Some of these folks, from personal experience, are a variation of the group summarized in the first bullet point. Consequently, because so few of them had a good hold on the faith when they were Catholics, they often equate Christianity with Protestantism and hence zone the Church outside of their peripheries. Many Protestants, particularly clergy, are finding their way to the Catholic Church these days, but these people are often converts and not reverts.
  • Go Greek (or Russian, or Arab) Orthodox: a smaller, but not insignificant, number of devout Catholics, shocked by the situation in the Papacy and the poor state of the Roman liturgy followed the path of Fr. Alex Toth and left the Church altogether for an Eastern dissident group. With few exceptions, these folks can be rabidly anti-Papal, probably reeling from the aftershock of the collapse of the idyllic vision of the Church presented by the hierarchy in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Antiochian Orthodox are by far the worst in this regard (the Rad Trad has listened to an Antiochian Orthodox priest deny his own tradition by saying Papal primacy never existed in substance and that the idea St Peter was ever in Rome is a pious myth). Those who have gone to the Russian Orthodox tend to be more friendly and practical, often searching out good liturgy and not leaving the Church out of malice. The Rad Trad has never met, to his knowledge, any Catholic who has left for the Orthodox communities, but he has been blessed to know two holy people who have gone the other way.
  • Ad orientem: people who go to the Eastern rite Catholic Churches and stay there. Byzantine Catholic Churches have been the most popular destination here, as their liturgies are more often in vernacular than the other options. The Rad Trad's own parish is about one third "transplants" who came into the church for Divine Liturgy one fine morning ten or twenty years ago and never left. They adopt the spirituality and liturgy as their own. Their view of the Papacy often differs from Church to Church. For instance, the Ukrainians are far more Rome-focused than the Melkites.
  • An old fashioned Holy Ghost throw down with the Catholic
    Charismatic movement.
    Be slain in the Spirit: last, but not least popular, is the Charismatic movement. Get "slain in the Spirit" and discover your new gifts! This group, again more popular in past decades, has a uniquely modern sort of Ultramontanism that is attached to John Paul II's confirmation of their movement ("Long life to the Charismatics"), but also to Benedict XVI's kind words for them. Their relations with Pope Francis have yet to be determined, but their personality certainly matches the aesthetic of their style: spontaneous, simple, direct, and somewhat emotion.
Why expound such a long list of subgroups of Catholics and former-Catholics? Because so many of the people within these categories, which are generalizations and not absolute, find themselves where they are because of their relationship to the Papacy. A once tightly run company under the singular direction of Pope/CEO Whoever is now a chaotic array of various people who now have a different relationship to the Bishop of Rome than people half a century ago did and it is largely not their own faults. They had bought into a system wherein Papal encyclicals substituted for good catechesis and the Catholic instinct.
Most Catholics, from the first century until the nineteenth, probably did not even know the Pope's name, much less his policies and particular interests. Obedience to the Church's teachings and love of one another are what is required for salvation, not enthusiasm any particular program. Vatican I certainly made the Pope's role more prominent when the Council defined Papal Infallibility, albeit in a far more moderate way than Pius IX would have liked (he wanted to be infallible in all matters). Papa Sarto's reign was the real turning point, wherein the Pope's personality became a central part of the faith (I am of course referring to his aggressive stance in the Modernism controversy). Pius XII put this on camera and John Paul II put it in Technicolor.

Yet this obsession with the interests and whims of individual Popes is not part of the faith. Excessive concentration on his words, and the endeavor to square every vowel with those of his predecessors, will drive a person into one of the many exciting opportunities above. What does such an endeavor profit? Some liberal blogs are getting quite giddy about what they think Pope Francis has said in his 12,000 word interview and some traddie blogs are becoming distasteful in their reaction to the man. I myself wish his liturgical praxis was better and his statements were clearer, but what does it matter to me what a given Pope says in an interview or what his Curial plans are? Unless he intends to make an ex cathedra statement or do something to my parish then why should I take my eyes off my Divine Office or my editions of the works of the Fathers so that I may engage in the frustrating exercise of squaring Papal politics with my own perspective?

Lastly, one may be tempted to adopt a permanent spirit of criticism toward a given Pope, past or present, and allow that mindset to permeate our prayers and our daily interactions with others. Is this the Catholic spirit? Do we focus on Peter's denial or Our Lord's command "Feed my lambs"?

As G.K. Chesterton once said, I am on the Barque of Peter and do not need to see the engine room.
Keep focused

Friday, September 20, 2013

Re-Post: Violence

Today the Rad Trad was having a birthday lunch with his father who, upon passing reference to the Middle Ages over the course of conversation, let it be known that he was quite content with the peace and serenity of modern day, far away from the ignorance and violence of those darker days before television and shopping malls and other middle class accouterments. At this point the Rad Trad remembered a post he did on this very topic in December of last year, a post he has decided to re-publish for his now larger audience.


A thing of the Dark Ages?
There is a view popular today among the likes of Steven Pinker and optimists in left-wing coffee houses which asserts that we live in a far more enlightened, less violent time than those past eras, which were fraught with hatred, superstition, animal instincts, and more basic compulsions. By contrast, today we are aided by the "light of science," which guides us towards a new and luminous Elysium, one often populated by artificial intelligences and humans who move from fleeting sensation to fleeting sensation without every considering the possibility of violence. What crap!

Let us consider some very basic data. According to the Population Reference Bureau about 108 billion people have lived on this planet since the commencement of the human populace. About 6 billion people were alive at the end of the twentieth century. Roughly 7-7.5 billion live now, 6.5% of the historical total. By combining the "births between benchmarks" for 1950 and 1995 we can discover a [very] high-end estimate for the total number of people who lived in the twentieth century, about 8,817,503,215, or about 8.2% of the people who have every lived. For generosity, I will even include those born between 1850 and 1900, many of whom may have lived to see the twentieth century, some 2,900,237,856 people, upping the total to 11,717,741,071, or 10.8% of people to have every lived.

An excellent resource for historical deaths is, which documents its sources in the left hand column. In a chart given for the "Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other" the site lists about 390.5 million violent deaths, which comprise the 20 or so most brutal phenomena in human history. Of those, 157 million occurred in the twentieth century, or 40.2% of the total. Moreover, the top two are of the twentieth century, and three of the top ten are of the twentieth century. Indeed, six of the twenty entries either reside in or touch the last century. Additionally, the nineteenth century, another era of materialism, anti-clericalism, nationalism, "reason," "science," and enlightenment also rings in not a few times on that list. Another interesting feature of the list is that violence seems sporadic outside of these two centuries. The thirteenth century pops up here, the seventeenth appears there etc.

These statistics do not account for smaller scale violence, such or mugging-murders so prevalent in Renaissance Rome or name-your-Middle-Eastern-city back street, which has certainly declined with the advent of better law enforcement and more excess wealth, which allows certain groups of would-be criminals to enjoy a degree of abundance and succor which dissuades them from the need for desperate crimes.

Nothing violent about this. Besides, it's not that common, either.
Still, the previous set of statistics is astounding. About a tenth of the historical population lived last decade, yet of the most brutal instances in human history, 40% of them, including the two worst, happened during this period. I am also being generous with these statistics in another way: as a Catholic I am quite tempted to add 500 million abortions to the twentieth century statistic, but for the sake of argument I will not. So why the optimism about our era of commonality, brotherhood, enlightenment, and [what purports to be] science?

Perhaps some odd blend of secular humanism and university culture. Modernity, or post-modernity, needs results, as those who push it claim to be empirical people. For instance, Pinker often cites the lower death rates in wars now as opposed to several centuries ago. This misses certain vital points:
  • Technology has made war safer for the better equipped side, and also more remote.
  • In previous eras the size of an army mattered more than its equipment, which only occasionally varied from army to army. This meant that large scale deaths were a certainty for combatants on either side.
  • Wars in the last few decades have been fought on a smaller scale and act as satellite venues of combat between political adversaries who, in my opinion, are delaying rather than avoiding inevitable direct conflict.
Notice, none of these have to do with greater inner-knowledge, "reason," or university-driven notions of "progress." They are technological and political circumstances that may or may not last. Consider how many times the empire, the nation, and the city-state have gone in and out of fashion since the era of Moses.

I would also posit that, as violence has clearly not decreased, violence has become more remote. We see violence in the Middle East and in Africa on television or newspapers with regularity without every encountering it ourselves. When violence does hit our segment of the world we often do not know how to react, as we have been dulled by viewing imitation violence for years.

This does not mean violence has vanished in the West and only exists in third world dictatorships. The Holocaust is still in living memory for many in Europe, who would rightly smack you with their canes and walkers for suggesting that we have progressed away from past eras of un-civility and embraced a humanist paradise.

Moreover, the phenomenon of abortion, crushing a fetus's head and vacuuming it out of the mother's uterus, is a striking example of violence remaining in our midst although remote and unrecognizable to us. Few in the era of the Roman Empire or of Genghis Khan could have conceived or a more brutal way to eventuating death had they the benefit of modern ultrasound equipment as we do today.

No, modern culture has not eliminated, or even slackened, brutality and violence, but modern circumstances have managed to improve a few statistics which some will use giddily. One only needs to watch two brawling children to know that the violent instinct will never rest, it will merely express itself with more discretion.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Parisian Missal I: Ordinary of Mass & Prefaces

As part of our endeavor to "test" Dom Prosper Gueranger's thesis that the liturgical books of France, particularly the "neo-Gallican" books like those used in Paris, were rife with Jansenism, we shall examine the Parisian rite Missal and the Lyonese rite Missal in depth, parsing the rubrics, Ordo Missae, prefaces, Holy Week rites, votive orations, and 10 random Masses (5 will be from Sunday). The series commences with the Parisian Missal. Our source is the 1766 Missale Parisiense found here. Given that it was in use a century before Gueranger's influence and a century after the death of Cornelius Jansen, any un-purified Jansenist detriti should be visible.

For the sake of simplicity we shall say the Cornelius Jansen was bishop and theologian in the 17th century who held ideas on free will and grace which he believed reflected those of St. Augustine. His views, which minimized free will and man's relationship to grace to a near-Calvinistic level, inevitably brought his followers into an exclusivistic, communitarian mindset, one which often sought to minimize Papal authority. From New Advent's encyclopedia, here are the precepts of Jansen condemned by Innocent X's bull Cum occasione in 1653:
  • Some of God's commandments are impossible to just men who wish and strive (to keep them) considering the powers they actually have, the grace by which these precepts may become possible is also wanting
  • In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace
  • To merit, or demerit, in the state of fallen nature we must be free from all external constraint, but not from interior necessity
  • The Semipelagians admitted the necessity of interior preventing grace for all acts, even for the beginning of faith; but they fell into heresy in pretending that this grace is such that man may either follow or resist it
  • To say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men, is Semipelagianism (it is condemned because Christ did die for the sake of all)
We shall use these condemned statements as criteria for Jansenism throughout our investigation into the French local rites.

Part I: Rubrics

The rubrics of the Missal are very much like the Missale Romanum as it existed before the pontificates of Pius XII and John XXIII. There are some notable exceptions. V.3 mandates commemorations of ferial days when a votive Mass is celebrated. V.2 also seems to mandate proper last Gospels for ferial days (wonder how that worked). A marvelous local custom, in Advent feriae orations for the Incarnation were sung (VI.16). In Masses for the dead Requiem aeternam.... is prayed in place of Gloria Patri.... as in the Roman rite. As one reads through the rubrics one understands that this Missal, unlike the Roman Missal of the same time, was intended to be used at sung liturgies in communal settings. The instructions on how many Masses are to be sung on overlapping days and why they do not have commemorations is very clear. The instructions also dictate that lessons, for instance, on certain feriae are to be sung at the normal place. The Roman Missal of the same period, descended from the 1474 Curial Missal, envisioned a lone priest as the norm, likely due to the setting and needs of the celebrants of the 1474 rite. The Parisian Missal was meant for canons of Notre Dame and of other collegiate churches. For instance, when a votive Requiem Mass is sung, it is sung after Prime, is to be followed by Terce and the festive Mass of the day, and then by Sext and the ferial Mass of the preceding Sunday (VIII). The men who used this rite were busy bees.

A classically Norman Lenten array at
St. Birinus in Dorchester on Thames.
White is used as a liturgical color on the same major feasts as in the Roman rite, but also throughout the Paschal and Pentecost Vigils. Red gets the nod on Mandy Thursday, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi and its octave, and Sundays throughout the year, as well as on many Roman feasts. Green is used for the consecration of bishops and for the anniversaries of such events. Violet is used in Advent and Septuagesima, but "ash" is used from Ash Wednesday until Passion Sunday, wherein black invades until the Paschal vigil Mass (and black is also used for the blessing of ashes on Ash Wednesday). "Ash" probably has its roots in the dull greyish white used in the Norman rites (from which Sarum is descended and which many parishes in England still use); the point was to make Lent colorless, a departure from the visual overload of the older rites per annum. Substitutions for different colors are allowed—for instance, blue for violet—probably as a pastoral provision for parishes without much means. Such was life before mechanized weaving and sewing. Thus far, no heresy!

For those who like the "big six" on your altar, you may not like the Parisian rite. The number of candles prescribed are as follows:
  • Feriae and Simples: two
  • Semi-doubles: four
  • Lesser Doubles: six
  • Greater Doubles: eight
  • Solemnities: ten
  • Great Solemnities: twelve (!!!!)

There is a rubric stating two is the norm for private Masses, however. One wonders what the Parisians thought of Rome's modest six on all semi-doubles or higher and Sarum's constant two! Who said the Latin liturgy was always sparse?

On feasts the priest carries a cross with him on his way to the altar, which the deacon places upon the altar and toward which the ministers pray the Confiteor. Instructions for the Mass proper dictate that incense is to be used at the beginning of Mass only at "great" (solemn) Masses. The ceremonies of the first half of Mass are like those of the Roman rite. The subdeacon sings the epistle while the celebrant and deacon read it and the gradual from the Missal. There is an interesting provision in section VI (on serving the Mass, not the general rubrics) that permit a lector vested in alb, amice, and cincture to sing the epistle without a maniple if there is no subdeacon. Perhaps outside of Rome there were more gradations of Mass than just Low, Sung, and Solemn as we have them today. Either way, the epistle is sung from an ambo or in medio choro, but facing the altar. Another oddity, at least from the Roman view, is that the choristers who sang the Alleluia needed the celebrant's permission when the setting was the archbishop singing Mass from the throne. The Gospel is also read from an ambo. If there are two ambos, then the epistle and Gospel are sung from different ones. At the Gospel an acolyte carries the same cross the celebrant brought to the altar at the beginning of Mass. At solemn Mass the acolyte holds the paten in a veil, receiving it from the subdeacon with a kiss. The Canon is basically done as it is in the Roman rite. The fraction precedes the Agnus Dei as in the Roman rite, in contrast to the older rites of the area. At the Pax the celebrant says to the deacon "Peace to you brother, and to the Holy Church of God."

Communion is given after the ablutions, but not after Mass. The rubrics outright state "the priest does not delay [the communicants] until after Mass without necessity." Was this a hint of Jansenism? Perhaps in the eyes of some the idea of making Communion of the Faithful a prescribed part of Mass was Jansenism. Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and fear of unworthy communication became so strong during the Middle Ages that Communion of the Faithful ceased because so few received. Priests and deacons would administer Holy Communion after Mass. Yet here it is near-demanded as a part of the Mass for those who wish to receive. Perhaps this was a Jansenist influence. Or perhaps it was just common sense returning. Communion is given the medieval way. The subdeacon holds the paten while the deacon carries a chalice of unconsecrated wine and water as a chaser to make sure everything goes down. When you think about it this made our current fears of people taking the Blessed Sacrament and doing horrible things to Our Lord impossible.

The acolyte holds the paten under the veil at a Sarum rite Mass
Another rubrical feature that may have disturbed the Roman establishment is the prominence of the acolyte, de facto irrelevant in the Roman rite. He carries a cross at the Gospel, can sing the epistle under the right conditions, holds the paten during the Canon, and gives the Pax to the choir. In short, he is a minister of the Mass and not just a man with a candle! This was, again, the medieval praxis!

The rest of the Mass continues as in the Roman form.

The rubrics are followed by prayers for before and after Mass, many of which are found in the Roman Missal. The tones for the various chants of Mass are also found in this section. Singing them to myself, even with my own voice, I notice that while they differ from the ancient tone in the Roman rite, they are not unpleasant.

Part II: Ordo Missae

The Ordo Missae of the Parisian rite is very similar to the Roman form. Stunningly similar actually. The first half of Mass, the "Fore Mass" or "Mass of the Catechumens," is word-for-word the same as in the "Tridentine" Roman form. At the offertory, the prayers and actions (including the incensing of the gifts and altar) are exactly the same as in the Roman rite with one exception. The priest, before offering the bread with the Suscipe Sancte Pater blesses it with the words: "Lord Jesus Christ, Bread of Angels, Living Bread of Eternal Life, bless worthily this bread [these breads], as You blest the five breads in the desert, that all who taste of it [them] may receive health of soul and body." This one deviation is as orthodox a prayer about the Eucharist as there is. Perhaps its lack of exclusive focus on sacrifice worried those who favored the Roman liturgy's narrowly sacrificial language, which many regarded as a fortress against the insistence of Protestants that the Eucharist is a meal's food. Would the same also apply to the communitarian approach of the Jansenists? Possibly, but it seems a tenuous connection.

The text of the Canon is precisely that of the Roman Canon. At pontifical Mass sung by the Archbishop after the fraction and the Per Omnia saecula saeculorum but before the mingling of the Host and the Precious Blood the deacon announces a blessing ("Bow yourselves for the blessing"). The archbishop then sings "May his peace with you always" as he mingles the Sacred Elements, in place of the conventional "May the peace of the Lord be with you always."

The rest of the Mass is, word-for-word, the same as in the Roman Mass. Again, no heresy.

Part III: Prefaces

The Parisian Missal contains almost all the Gallican prefaces added to the Roman Missal by Pope John XXIII in 1962, except the Preface of St. Joseph. There are also three additional prefaces not in any post-1570 (and pre-1970) edition of the Roman Missal:
  1. Preface for Mandy Thursday and Votive Masses of the Blessed Sacrament: calls Our Lord the "True and Eternal Priest" and "the only Priest without the stain of sin" Who instituted the Holy Sacrifice for our benefit.
  2. Preface for the feast of Ss. Dionysius, Rusticus, and Eleutherius: a wordy preface that asks the Lord to strengthen us, who He assumed from darkness in His mercy, and to keep the work He has done in us, particularly through his martyrs, who are not even named in the preface.
  3. Preface for Nuptial Masses: speaks of the bonds of marriage and asks that God, in His Providence, may grant the renewal of the Church. The exclusion of this preface from the 1962 Missal, at a time when the reformers were adding prefaces and tinkering with the rubrics of the Nuptial Mass, speaks volumes for its literary and theological value.
In short, nothing out of the ordinary other than Gallican literary eccentricity and some dull prefaces.


Thus far the Parisian rite appears to be a descendant from the Norman liturgical family which adopted the Ordo Missae of the Roman Missal, albeit with a few local tweaks. The unique prefaces reflect the loquaciousness of French devotion, but are doctrinally sound. As of post one, the Parisian rite withstands Dom Gueranger's condemnation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pope Paul VI on Liturgical Reform

Pope Paul VI on Palm Sunday, 1966, about to celebrate
a vernacularized version of the 1962 rite
He certainly did not think his new liturgy was blindsiding people:
"In 1911 Saint Pius X brought out a new Breviary which had been prepared at his command. The tradition of the early Church of reciting the whole of the 150 psalms every week was restored, and the whole method of dividing up the psalter was revised so as to avoid repetition, and a way was devised of combining the ferial psalter and the continuous reading of the Bible with the offices of the saints. In addition the Sunday office was raised in dignity so that it usually took precedence over the feasts of saints.  
"The whole work of restoring the Sacred Liturgy was undertaken by Pius XII. A new transla­tion of the psalter was made by the Pontifical Biblical Institute and he allowed this to be used in public and private recitation of the Office. In 1947 he set up a special Commission to examine the whole question of the Breviary, and a questionnaire about it was sent to the bishops of the world in 1955. The first fruits of the work were seen in the decree of 23 March 1955 simplify­ing the rubrics, and in the regulations about the Breviary in the Code of Rubrics published by John XXIII in 1960. But when he authorized part of the liturgical renewal in this way, Pope John XXIII realized that more investigation was needed into the fundamental principles govern­ing the Sacred Liturgy, and so he entrusted this work to the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican which he had convoked. As a result the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy dealt at such length and in such depth with the whole matter, and especially with the Church’s daily prayer, as had hardly ever before happened in the history of the Church." —Canticum Laudis, November 1st, 1970 (Apostolic Constitution promulgating Liturgia Horarum)

Apologies (again)

The Rad Trad has spent the last few days preparing for a major job interview today (which went well). He intends, tomorrow or the day after, to publish the next subject in the Lesser Known Fathers series—which will give an overview of St. Gregory of Nyssa's On the Soul and the Resurrection and his belief that all may be saved—and the first post in a series investigating some of the liturgical books that brought the ire of Dom Prosper Gueranger (this post will look into the Ordo Missae and prefaces of the Parisian rite).
In haste,
The Rad Trad

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

FSSP Priest Caught Celebrating Versus Populum!


Never mind that it was at St. Clement's in Rome!

Coming Soon

We will be continuing, of course, with our Lesser Known Fathers series, hopefully next looking at St. Gregory of Nyssa, a great Father of the Church.

We will also begin our gradual examination of the early Liturgical Movement's claim that the neo-Gallican rites contained heretical, Jansenist traits. We will start with the Ordinary of Mass and prefaces from the Parisian rite Missal. I am excited at the prospect!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Anti-Semitism in Traddieland?

The Rad Trad somehow stumbled upon this passive-aggressive hit piece on concerns some Catholics, often nervous residents of Traddieland, expressed upon the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as the new Roman Pontiff. One such area of concern was that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio resisted a forthright implementation of Benedict XVI's motu proprio on the 1962 rite. In our age of Ultramontanism, the idea that the Pope was not entirely lock-in-step with the Pope was unthinkable! There were several 1962 Masses in neighboring dioceses, but there was only one in the archdiocese of Buenos Aires. The Mass was a once-a-month affair and a hybrid with the Mass of Paul VI: the 1970 kalendar, the 1970 lectionary, vernacular, and lay readers were employed for the Fore-Mass (or should it be called "Liturgy of the Word"?). The laity became frustrated, according to eyewitness accounts, and attendance dwindled to the point that the Mass was cancelled. So what is the point of the title of this post?
Many bloggers exhibited an understandably uncomfortable reaction to this news. The idea that one Pope did not follow the other's program perfectly was problem of which even the greatest Scholastics could not understand in the modern day. Celebrity bloggers suggested that the 1962 Masses in neighboring dioceses should be counted among those in Cardinal Bergoglio's archdiocese, a factually strained attempt at re-constituting continuity between the incoming Pope and his predecessor's liturgical program. For some this was not enough. Enter the above article.
Pope John XII: not a pleasant fellow
Many comments about the [no longer] new Pope have been quite distasteful. That said no Catholic is obliged to like the Pope, only to acknowledge his authority. Were John XII still Pope the Rad Trad would become a hermit in order to avoid that scoundrel's scandalous activity. Some bloggers, such as the writer of the first article linked above, did not wish to consider this vital distinction and took the acerbic comments flowing from Traddieland River very personally. Unable to dispute the facts surrounding the 1962 rite within the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires with a higher level of respect than that which was perceived among traddies, the writer basically called the source of the information in the Rorate Caeli piece a Holocaust denier. The evidence? A piece written by Marcelo González in Panorama Católico Internacional. From a cursory glance Panorama seems like a run-of-the-mill traddie blog, only in Spanish. The article referenced by the reactionary blogger, Ms. Eden, is of course in Spanish. Ms. Eden, it seems, does not speak Spanish:
Five months ago, Marcelo Gonzalez announced he had reached the “fixed position” that the “so-called ‘holocaust’” is a media exaggeration. If Google’s translation is correct, he wrote that he prefers to call it “the so-called ‘holocaust’” or, alternatively, the “hollowcaust.”  You can read for yourself his blog entry “Holocaust and Hollowcaust” via Google Translate (or read it here in the original Spanish). It’s disgusting, and as a fellow member of the Mystical Body, I am ashamed.
Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for Ms. Eden, the Rad Trad does speak Spanish, and her borrowing from Google Translate does not help her case, even with the shoddy translation. The actual word used "Holocuento" literally means "Holo-story." The premise of the article is that many people, Catholics included, died as a result of Nazism, but people tend to focus primarily on the plight of European Jews. The suffering of the Jewish people was then utilized politically, the author contends, as a pretext for the foundation of the Jewish state of Israel. I do not think any historian would factually deny these claims, even the latter of them. The Holocaust was certainly the reason the United Nations chartered the state of Israel. If not for the great violence they suffered, why would Jewish people want to leave Europe? González continues in lamenting that political correction, particularly in Catholic-Jewish relations, has become something of a doctrine in the modern day, given once-Pope Benedict XVI's statement that one cannot be Catholic and deny the Holocaust (which a historically insane position anyway). This last point is the crux of the article. No where in it does the author deny the Holocaust or even question death tolls as former FSSPX bishop Richard Williamson infamously did in 2009. The author makes one statement that, when a biased person utilizing an electronic translation encounters it, lends itself to corruption:
"Sabemos que hay intereses políticos, económicos y propagandísticos en esto de fijar cifras millonarias de víctimas y sobre todo en ignorar a las otras víctimas que no fueron judíos."
Ms. Eden
It means "We know there are political, economic, and propaganda interests in fixing the numbers of millions of victims and, above all, in the ignoring of the other victims who were not Jewish." Half the people who died in World War II were not Jewish. Many people, often Catholic political prisoners, found themselves dying in concentration camps prior to the commencement of the Holocaust, which was a systematic extermination process directed against a demographic, not a political party. The shortcoming of this article is that it used the term "Holocaust" to denote anyone who died during World War II in Europe when most are accustomed to hearing it used specifically to denote the 1942-1945 actions against the Jewish populace.
Why does all this matter? Catholics attached to the older liturgy have, sometimes by their own faults and sometimes by the faults of others, found themselves isolated from the mainstream. This can lead to internal paranoia and external caricatures. The article suggesting Mr. González is a Holocaust denier fits into the second of these. Ms. Eden approaches the finale in her assault on this maligned Latino with a furious parade of suggestions that traddies ought to speak up now, or forever be put on the Southern Poverty Law Center's hate group list:
UPDATE #3: Rorate Caeli commenters have shown their true colors with viciously antisemitic comments to this post. I have allowed some to appear in the comments section here for the record, but the more vicious ones I have forwarded to other concerned bloggers, as I am occupied with schoolwork and do not wish to continue to engage the soft white underbelly of the rad-trad world. You may look for them on Mary Victrix, the blog of Father Angelo Mary Geiger, F.I., who has already written about this post.
UPDATE #4, 4/9/13: Closing comments so that I can get some schoolwork done today and not have to sift through hateful words against my Jewish ancestors and relatives and against those who think the Church has, in fact, continued past 1965. Many more viciously antisemitic comments have come in. I am sending the rest to Mark Shea, who has told me he will have something to say on the matter—oh, I see he just put up a post.
Thanks to the relatively few lovers of the Extraordinary Form who have written with their support. [As of 4/10/13, many more have written. Thank you!] To those who love the traditional Mass and have not commented: If you don’t want the Extraordinary Form community to be dismissed as a bunch of hate-filled, antisemitic cranks, you need to raise your voice in the public square, and not be afraid of what the veils-and-brocade police say about you.
After Mr. González issued a clarification in Spanish and English, explaining what anyone who bothered to read the Spanish version with care or find someone with proficiency in the tongue, would have already known: the article is not about the Holocaust. It is about political correctness and the Catholic Church. Ms. Eden still insists the man is a Holocaust denier:
Gonzalez says in his non-apology apology, “For this reason, I clarify, or rather I reiterate that I am convinced that the Holocaust (that is, the death of millions of Jews in concentration camps or on their way to them during the Second World War) is a fact of uncontested historicity. Other aspects – of which I cannot speak, because I am no historian – remain in the academic sphere.”
Note what he is not saying–that there was a systematic, state-sponsored plan of extermination. In his article, he in fact denies such a plan, offers other reasons why Jews died, and claims that one who accepts that there was a Holocaust “may incur in an historical error of judgment.”
So he is a Holocaust denier–because the Holocaust was nothing if not “a program of systematic state-sponsored murder” of Jews, to use Wikipedia’s current and very apt wording. It is true that the Nazis also targeted millions of others for extermination because of their race, Catholic or Orthodox religion, disability, homosexual behavior, or political affiliation, and it may be legitimately argued that the killing of these populations should be included in the term “Holocaust.” But to cast doubt in any way upon the Nazis’ systematically murdering Jews is outrageous.
Does any of this have to do with the implementation of Summorum Pontificum in Brazil? No, but the Rad Trad does not want to see a man lose his reputation because of a petty political dispute within the Church either. 

Sometimes I think about getting rid of the internet and becoming a monk....

Friday, September 6, 2013

St. Pius XII?

With all the talk last month about the impending canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, only a few are still discussing the interesting news that Pius XII, the last Pope prior to the Second Vatican Council, may also be raised to the altars and by the same dispensation as his successor, Papa Roncalli. One wonders why?
Rome's eagerness to canonize John XXIII and John Paul II reflect a desire to canonize the Second Vatican Council and the "Spirit" of the Second Vatican Council respectively. But what would make them want to canonize Papa Pacelli? Francis has been compared to John Paul II for his liturgical praxis, but at least this observer finds him more analogous to Paul VI than to the Pope from Poland. Which brings us to a potential answer. Pius XII made Paul VI, and in a great many ways.
As the Rad Trad has said before, Pius XII is the least understood Pope in centuries. He is condemned for the good he did and lauded for the ills of his pontificate. Traditionalists and liberals alike see him as the tiara-wearing, Thomistic, Latin Mass-defending bastion of orthodoxy that preceded the radical changes that began with "Pope John's Council" in 1962. This is romantic (or horrific, depending on one's perspective) rubbish. As previously stated on this blog, Pope Pius was a modernizer, neither a liberal nor a conservative, so his canonization would not necessarily vindicate either side's view. In more sensible times his cause would have had ecumenical implications with the Jewish people, but the media have blemished his reputation since the play The Deputy in 1966 and have painted him as a seething anti-Semite or passive Nazi-enabler; neither characterization could be further from the truth.
Yet his work on behalf of the Jewish people in the face of their extermination might be the only clear cut good on Papa Pacelli's part. His primary duty, to preserve the Catholic Church through the Second World War, was less than successful. Most of the Church hierarchy was disbanded, understandably, in Germany and Poland—less so in the lower countries which had Catholic Italy as a cultural boundary against too much Nazi secularism. The rebuilding of the European Church after the War was unsuccessful. Sure, American money—provided by Americanist bishops like Cushing and Spellman—restored the physical plants, but no revival of the faith took place in Europe. Poland had withstood secularism during the War and continued to do so, far from American influence, nestled behind the Iron Curtain. Perhaps one reason the Traditionalist movement began in France is because Church influence and Mass attendance had been declining since the reign of Louis XVI. French Catholics had no illusions, no glass house like American and English Catholics. One rarely heard Pius XII speak on matters of Church-State relations in a theological context. His concerns always seemed more practical and concerned with rights rather than public religion. More Paul VI than Pius XI in my opinion.
Pope Pius XII with his protégé some time after 1956, when
the Pontiff's health was in rapid decline.
Which brings us to one point too long overlooked: Pius XII made Paul VI. Sure, there are the stories of Msgr. Montini, a secretary in the Vatican, celebrating Mass with university students huddled around his altar—a forerunner to the modern day Newman center if there ever was one, which Pius XII's aristocratic nature did not meet well. And yet we find from his days as a cardinal, Eugenio Pacelli raised Giovanni Battista Montini through the ranks with startling efficiency, almost to denote his successor. Pacelli, as Vatican Secretariat of State under Pius XI, hired Montini for prestigious diplomatic work. Aside from a minor assignment in Poland, Montini worked under Pacelli's tutelage for the better part of three decades, including during the War, a time when other members of the Vatican diplomatic core, like Archbishop Angelo Roncalli, were engaged in active field work. There is, of course, the tale that Montini furtively held negotiations with Russian communists during the War, inciting the fury of his superior, by that point Supreme Pontiff, who promptly exiled him from the Vatican to the archdiocese of Milan. We should not be surprised if there had been contact between Rome and the Soviets, given the ease with which John XXIII acquired Orthodox observers at the Vatican Council a few years later, but this would indicate that the connection between the two parties was well-developed. Which causes us to re-examine the canard of Montini's exile: Msgr. Montini, a priest, was transferred from an under-secretarial position in the Vatican to one of the most important episcopal sees in the world (which had produced the previous pope at the time) and received his consecration from the Pontiff himself. If anything, Pius was denoting his eventual successor. Much is made of the fact that Montini did not get the red hat. Neither did Cushing and many others. Montini was raised to the episcopacy in 1956, three years after Pius XII's second and last consistory. Interestingly, Pope Pius also gave Frs. Suenens, Wojtyla, and Cushing their first episcopal work.
Captain Charles Ryder Evelyn Waugh,
convert to the faith, novelist, and
lay liturgical critic.
Lastly there is the liturgical question. Pope Paul stated explicitly in his bull Missale Romanum, which introduced the new ordinary of the Mass to the Roman rite of the Church, that this new praxis was the culmination of a renewal process which began under Pius XII. Given Montini's daily first hand knowledge of Papa Pacelli, one would be hard pressed to dispute this claim. Novelist Evelyn Waugh once wrote "many of the innovations, which many of us find so obnoxious, were introduced by Pius XII." Waugh's tone aside, he hits the "nail on the head" here. Evening Masses, vernacular Masses, people muddling through spoken responses, the new Holy Week, and other novelties came about with official approval from Pope Pius. He certainly was not a fan of other novel practices, like the lay offertory procession—which he condemned in Mediator Dei, but he did very little to stop other innovations such as Mass versus populum.
Depending on one's perspective, all of this could be good or could be bad, but, as the saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts. Pope Francis is an enthusiast of Paul VI, the Pope of his seminary formation and early priesthood. He knows that Pius XII, far from being a 19th century stuff-shirt, was in fact a very modern Pope who set the stage for Council and the liturgical renovations of the 1960s and 1970s which formed the modern hierarchy. It is the Rad Trad's opinion that Pope Francis, God love him, may be seeking to canonize Pius XII for the same reason he intends to canonize John XXIII and John Paul II: to canonize the what people perceive as the changes associated with the Second Vatican Council.