Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Where Can I Find

A copy of the Ordo servandus Missae of John Burchard online?

More on Friendship

John R has posted on one of my favorite subjects, friendship. Like so many, he laments the decline of strong male bonds in the modern day, when hyper-masculinity substitutes for the real thing and close ties between men are either implausible because of vacillating circumstances or seen as potentially homosexual. A dear friend of mine took the day off from work and we strolled through the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens, musing as one point that a few of our friends "would probably think we're gay, chatting and walking through a garden together." John gives a few potential reasons in his post for the decline in what I termed "Romantic Friendship." I would add one which is the false concept of romance between men and women which reigns in the modern day. 

Not a married person, I am fearful of disagreeing with the married man John in saying that I think a spouse should be one's best friend because after children and physical changes friendship might be the enduring bond of commitment. This modern idea that people marry for "love" (a blend of lust and spontaneity) is utterly bonkers. The wedding vows used either in the old Roman Mass or in the county court house ask if the spouses will promise to love and care for each other until death, not whether or not they love each other right now. Marriage is a commitment for the long haul, not a satisfaction for current infatuations. Love and attraction are of course good starting points for marriage, but marriage should not proceed merely from those things. Friendship need not exist at the start of a marriage, but should it not naturally grow out of it once age has retired sexual attraction and the kids have moved out? I was madly in love with a girlfriend three years ago, yet I decided to break up with her because I asked myself if I could see myself marrying her and having children with her. Although I think she will be a great mother one day and although she is still my closest friend, I could not see myself married to her. 

Basing marriage and inter-personal intimacy on attraction sets the parties up to fail ab initio. People will lose interest and the relationship will fail which means personal closeness will fail. If the modern parody of love called sexual attraction is the basis for emotional intimacy with another person, then of course it will not be feasible between two men without seeming "gay." Similarly, if those relationships are inherently unstable and prone to fail—as are 50% of marriages—then spending the time to share one's soul with another will be deemed a folly of a venture, if not effete and weak.

Good friendships are rare. Keep them when they come!

Silent Anaphora

I am curious what readers think about the spoken, silent anaphora. I cannot speak for the non-Byzantine oriental rites, but within the Latin and Greek traditions it has become acceptable for the celebrant to pray the anaphora in entirety or part in spoken silence under the sung parts of the congregation. In the Roman rite the Canon was sung by the celebrant in the same tone as the preface, signalling a continuation from the preface (maybe the origin of the Te igitur at the beginning which caused fits for the impious critics of the Canon). At some point in the 9th or 10th century the celebrant began to speak rather than sing the Canon and furthermore commenced it at the start of the Sanctus rather than after. A similar practice arose in Constantinople, perhaps inspired by the Latin habit, in the early second millennium. The celebrant says the pray after the preface dialogue while the people sing the response "It is proper and just" until they are finished, at which point he picks up the pray singing. When I first witnessed this the first words I heard were "six winged, many eyes soaring on their pinyons...." The congregation sings the Holy, Holy, Holy and the celebrant starts the anaphora, again switching from spoken to sung tone when the hymn has ended, usually at "Take, eat, this is my body" etc. The culminating moment of epiclesis cannot be heard over the singing of the "We praise You, we bless You, we give thanks to You, and we pray to You, O Our God." The priest will resume the aloud part at "especially for our most holy, pure...."

Under the influence of restorationist scholarship, many Byzantine Catholic eparchies in the United States have directed priests to sing the entirety of the anaphora, although mercifully the Melkites allow some of the anaphora of St. Basil the Great to be spoken. We all know what happened to the Roman rite in the 1960s. Within the Byzantine context, this writer has never been bothered by either the spoken parts or the practice of singing the anaphora entirely aloud, aside from the length of the anaphora of St Basil (difficult to maintain attention). I know the anaphora of St John Chrysostom and so have never felt excluded on the occasions when I have seen celebrants retain the practice of continuing the prayer in recitation while the congregation sings its responses. In the Roman rite, as with many others, I dislike the practice of an aloud, spoken Canon, although I have heard the Canon sung in the Pauline rite with success. The silent Canon climbs a long peak in a quiet mountain range. The Roman rite, far from the ritual eccentricity of the Byzantine tradition, is highly meditative and textually focused. The silence of the Canon contrasts with the flow of singing and focuses concentration on Christ's work before us. The Greek practice, either of singing in entirety or of switching between the two, creates a pace to the second half of the Divine Liturgy. The Roman rite's silence upholds that tradition's ruminative qualities. In any of these I have never felt excluded because I know the content of the prayers, I know the priest's place, and I know my place as a layman; I am certainly capable of praying with the celebrant in principle, even if not in word. The spoken, aloud practice in the Pauline rite, however, I find quite disengaging. One wonders if celebrants use Eucharistic Prayer II because they know their drowning tongues will only carry attention for so long? 

Always EP2!

The various ways of doing the anaphora in tradition demonstrate the Church's long wisdom as a spiritual psychologist. I wish she would return to her own prescription. What think ye?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

A bit late, but I still wanted to publish this:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and in St. Martha’s House
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The Cardinals crammed for wooden seats in Paul VI Hall,
In front a humble throne the color of a funerary pall;
The press were smug and held their stead;
While heterodox headlines danced in their heads;
The Ultramontanes rejoiced that the Traddies had snapped,
And then settled their brains for pontificate-long nap,
When out atrium there arose such a clatter,
The Curia rose to curtsy attention’s center.

He wore a white cassock with a coat of arms,
And black trousers which contained his Peronist card.
Of the Renaissance frescoes above his head,
He made known that we should share his dread.
Then he took to his humble throne,
And the Argentine bishop peered down his Italian nose,
If the press knew he was hardly New World,
They would have cried tears to fill a Salvation Army bowl.

More rapid than eagles his acolytes they came,
And he howled of new mercies, and called them by name:
"Now, Marx! now, Kasper! now Schonborn and Cupich!
On, with Rahner! on, with Martini!—not the stiff drink!
To the top of the edge of the Leonine wall!
Let us announce our newly merciful and humble Church to all!"

“He shut down the Franciscans and will crush Peter’s priests, too,”
“But,” says another, “his meeting with Bernard Fellay went through.”
“He gets blessings from protestants,” bewails the traditionalist,
“You don’t get it,” says the Zed “He’s just another Benedict.”
The penitent recalls 247 and 254 in the encyclical he read,
The priest replies, “Have your evening prayers been said?”

As the faithful keep their parishes in peace,
The Argentine perturbs them with news of unease.
“We should ignore him and not let ourselves be irked
Or delude ourselves in hopes of the rebellion of Raymond Burke.”
“He is the Pontiff,” retorts the wife, “He is guaranteed by the Godhead,
St Robert promises that if he changes doctrine the Lord with strike him dead.”
With some concerns how could the holidays be merry?
Would we lose the Ratzinger reform and be at the mercy of Fr. Larry?
Poor Guido Marini, he is broke without baroque,
Bereft of fiddlebacks and mitres high as telescopes;
Even midnight Mass could not be borne on the silver screen,
And a picnic table now stands in the Chapel Sistine;
Obsessed with the Pontiff, the neo-cons hound,
And through their households the Mercy, not the Pater, resounds.

The Martinian cardinals lamented their success knowing their ideas were sterile,
No one believed them, while the Traddies reproduce by the bushel;
“You’re too organized, too structured, and spiritually cold,
You must toss up the papers and be impoverished and bold.”
Dolan of the Big Apple chuckled elate:
“When before was the Curia accused of working too late?”
The scarlet men rose irate when the Argentine took his leave,
And they all breathed a sigh of relief;
He vested for Mass and turned to the sacristy door,
Then turned again to the Basilica, perhaps to say no more.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he walked out of sight—
“Someday you’ll hear the Spirit, and know I’m right!”

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Forgive Peter Jackson, For He Knows Not What He Does

30 minutes into the movie
Tonight I went to see Peter Jackson's final installment of The Hobbit with family, having seen the previous films together the last two winters. Rumors circulated that the third and last film stretched the book's final chapters with some gratuitous material borrowed from other Tolkien sources, which worried His Traddiness, but I decided the eight dollars could hardly be spent on much else that would occupy me for three hours. What a mistake. Only New York State wine could have been a worse entertainment purchase for eight dollars, although the wine would dull my ability to think about films as bad as this one.

Fifteen minutes into the film the dragon was dead, the denouement unraveled, I remembered the novel from fourth grade and said to myself, "This is where the book ended. What could they do from here on?" Make it up. Make it all up.

I know two of my readers are Tolkienophiles and that many of the rest will at least hold the Oxonian philologist in high esteem. I enjoyed The Hobbit when I was young and read The Lord of the Rings books once, but claim no expertise over the broader material that constitutes "middle earth." Still, I could not shake the feeling that Peter Jackson, or his bosses at the studios, were simply amalgamating bits and bobs of reference material from other Tolkien books to excuse the remaining 135 minutes of pseudo-Nordic warfare and slapstick inspired combat scenes. Genuine story and dialogue was substituted with vague, formalistic addresses to "X, son of Y, heir to Z" about fleeting, superficial ideas about friendship, love, and loyalty. 

I liked the first Lord of the Rings film, Fellowship, and, aside from mercifully eliminating Tom Bombadil, it was faithful to the original story. Viggo Mortensen said last year that the first movie was the best in the series because it allowed the actors to bond as a fellowship and create the chemistry to make Tolkien's fellowship of the Ring a reality. The movie had a very organic feel and, while it was violent, the fight scenes never seemed self-indulgent. By Return of the King all those good traits were gone. The complex and confusing character of Denethor is made into a mere madmen so we can watch Gimli and Legolas squabble with ghosts. 

Forgive Peter Jackson, for he clearly knows not what he does. Let us hope that there is nothing else he can bring to the big screen from Tolkien's bibliography.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

In the Fullness of Time

Christ came in the "fullness of time", wrote St. Paul to the Galatians. The sermon preached during the vesperal Divine Liturgy last night began with an explanation of this unusual phrase. Modern readers will see "fullness" and assume it means something like "fulfillment," something positive that ends a process. The phrase means nothing of the sort. It is a Greek idiom which could be translated literally as "when something is so filled up it explodes" and dynamically as "when the stuff hits the fan" or "hitting rock bottom."

The Jews of Christ's time long ago hit rock bottom. Christ came to earth during the pax Romana, the Roman peace that pervaded the Empire and made it "the most civilized portion of mankind" in the words of Gibbon. Modern admiration of the pax Romana misses the point of the peace. The Romans accomplished their peace by smashing local governments and cultures, dissolving their governments, inserting puppets, and assimilating the people to the Roman culture. Rome's servant Herod ruled from Jerusalem without the slightest regard for religion or state welfare, killing the Holy Innocents and two of his own sons. The priests of Temple, the center of Jewish life, were "on the take." Above all, the people suffered the consequences of ignoring the prophets for a millennium. The Maccabean Revolt was the "last hurrah" for devout Jews, but the Revolt itself spawned Pharisaical Judaism, the tradition of favoring the letter of the Law over its spirit. Jewish life was sterile politically, culturally, and religiously. Jerusalem Jews tended not to believe in an afterlife or soul, writing off both as Hellenistic intrusions. This is the world Jesus entered.

In coming He did not perform any of the imagined Messianic tasks. He did not restore the presence of God in the Temple, nor did He drive out the Roman masters, nor did He unite the people of Israel. If one lived twenty miles outside of Jerusalem, one could conceivably have been born before Christ and lived after Him having never known of the carpenter-turned-rabbi. The angels sang "Glory be unto God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will," but nothing approaching an earthly peace, a Jewish version of the pax Romana followed. Christ planted a seed with twelve men, one Pharisee, and a few women which would flourish throughout the world. It has not yet taken root throughout the world and the world has done its best to trim the branches back, but it persists in growing. Followers congregated around the Apostles a few at a time until there was a church in a town. The churches grew locally until Christianity constituted nearly half the Empire and many communities in the far east. If in the age of Athanasius the world "groaned to find itself Arian" then in the age of Constantine it awoke to find itself Christian.

The peace Christ brought and of which the angels sang at His birth in Bethlehem is the reign of God everywhere, in the heart, in the household, in the parish, in the community, and in the world at large. It is not the absence of war. This peace only perfectly exists in heaven, however it can exist in a great way on the micro levels and occasionally appear on the macro level. Yet none of this happens instantaneously. The saints we remember during Christmas season—Mary, Joseph, the Magi, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Simeon the Just—did not endeavor to restore the Davidic kingdom or the Temple as it existed during the reign of Solomon. They were people singularly focused on doing what God wanted them to do as best they could. The Virgin's shock and confusion at the Annunciation reflects a very normal daily life in her household until she conceived by the Holy Spirit. Simeon, who carried our Lord in the Temple, prayed for such a favor all his life; he did not enjoy casual acquaintance with the supernatural. A lifetime of devotion seems to culminate in one definitive act of cooperation with the great, well paced and slow Divine plan for mankind. The same was true of Christ Himself one could say.

We are all worried about the Church and its sixty, one hundred, five hundred, or two thousand years of malaise. Do not worry. Realize that Christ came in the "fullness of time" to bring a peace that we can welcome by doing what He wants. In doing so we will serve the Church that only He can "fix." Like peace, the Church can be in a better or worse state on earth, never perfect until reaching heaven, His ultimate goal for us.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas: Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

If you are looking for some spiritual edification beyond Mass, look no further. Here are the Mattins lessons for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ as well as the Introit, my favorite in the Roman rite, for the third Mass of the day. As they say in the East, "Christ is born! Glorify Him!"

From Isaiah:

1 At the first time the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephtali was lightly touched: and at the last the way of the sea beyond the Jordan of the Galilee of the Gentiles was heavily loaded.
2 The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.
3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils.
4 For the yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor thou hast overcome, as in the day of Median.
5 For every violent taking of spoils, with tumult, and garment mingled with blood, shall be burnt, and be fuel for the fire.
6 For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.
1 Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her: for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.
3 The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
6 The voice of one, saying: Cry. And I said: What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the field.
7 The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen, because the spirit of the Lord hath blown upon it. Indeed the people is grass:
8 The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen: but the word of our Lord endureth for ever.
1 Arise, arise, put on thy strength, O Sion, put on the garments of thy glory, O Jerusalem, the city of the Holy One: for henceforth the uncircumcised, and unclean shall no more pass through thee.
2 Shake thyself from the dust, arise, sit up, O Jerusalem: loose the bonds from off thy neck, O captive daughter of Sion.
3 For thus saith the Lord: You were sold gratis, and you shall be redeemed without money.
4 For thus saith the Lord God: My people went down into Egypt at the beginning to sojourn there: and the Assyrian hath oppressed them without any cause at all.
5 And now what have I here, saith the Lord: for my people is taken away gratis. They that rule over them treat them unjustly, saith the Lord, and my name is continually blasphemed all the day long.
6 Therefore my people shall know my name in that day: for I myself that spoke, behold I am here.

From St. Leo the Great, Pope of Rome:

Dearly beloved brethren, Unto us is born this day a Saviour. Let us rejoice. It would be unlawful to be sad to-day, for today is Life's Birthday; the Birthday of that Life, Which, for us dying creatures, taketh away the sting of death, and bringeth the bright promise of the eternal gladness hereafter. It would be unlawful for any man to refuse to partake in our rejoicing. All men have an equal share in the great cause of our joy, for, since our Lord, Who is the destroyer of sin and of death, findeth that all are bound under the condemnation, He is come to make all free. Rejoice, O thou that art holy, thou drawest nearer to thy crown! Rejoice, O thou that art sinful, thy Saviour offereth thee pardon! Rejoice also, O thou Gentile, God calleth thee to life! For the Son of God, when the fulness of the time was come, which had been fixed by the unsearchable counsel of God, took upon Him the nature of man, that He might reconcile that nature to Him Who made it, and so the devil, the inventor of death, is met and beaten in that very flesh which hath been the field of his victory.

When our Lord entered the field of battle against the devil, He did so with a great and wonderful fairness. Being Himself the Almighty, He laid aside His uncreated Majesty to fight with our cruel enemy in our weak flesh. He brought against him the very shape, the very nature of our mortality, yet without sin. His birth however was not a birth like other births for no other is born pure, nay, not the little child whose life endureth but a day on the earth. To His birth alone the throes of human passion had not contributed, in His alone no consequence of sin had had -part. For His Mother was chosen a Virgin of the kingly lineage of David, and when she was to grow heavy with the sacred Child, her soul had already conceived Him before her body. She knew the counsel of God announced to her by the Angel, lest the unwonted events should alarm her. The future Mother of God knew what was to be wrought in her by the Holy Ghost, and that her modesty was absolutely safe.

Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us give thanks to God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Ghost: Who, for His great love wherewith He loved us, hath had mercy on us and, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, that in Him we might be a new creature, and a new workmanship. Let us then put off the old man with his deeds (Col. iii. 9); and, having obtained a share in the Sonship of Christ, let us renounce the deeds of the flesh. Learn, O Christian, how great thou art, who hast been made partaker of the Divine nature, and fall not again by corrupt conversation into the beggarly elements above which thou art lifted. Remember Whose Body it is Whereof thou art made a member, and Who is its Head. Remember that it is He That hath delivered thee from the power of darkness and hath translated thee into God's light, and God's kingdom.

From St. Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome:

By God's mercy we are to say three Masses to-day, so that there is not much time left for preaching; but at the same time the occasion of the Lord's Birth-day itself obliges me to speak a few words. I will first ask why, when the Lord was to be born, the world was enrolled? Was it not to herald the appearing of Him by Whom the elect are enrolled in the book of life? Whereas the Prophet saith of the reprobate Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. Then, the Lord is born in Bethlehem. Now the name Bethlehem signifieth the House of Bread, and thus it is the birth-place of Him Who hath said, I am the Living Bread, Which came down from heaven. We see then that this name of Bethlehem was prophetically given to the place where Christ was born,.because it was there that He was to appear in the flesh by Whom the souls of the faithful are fed unto life eternal. He was born, not in His Mother's house, but away from home. And this is a mystery, showing that this our mortality into which He was born was not the home of Him Who is begotten of the Father before the worlds.

From St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan:

Behold the beginning of the Church. Christ is born, and the shepherds watch; shepherds, to gather together the scattered sheep of the Gentiles, and to lead them into the fold of Christ, that they might no longer be a prey to the ravages of spiritual wolves in the night of this world's darkness. And that shepherd is wide awake, whom the Good Shepherd stirreth up. The flock then is the people, the night is the world, and the shepherds are the Priests. And perhaps he is a shepherd to whom it is said, Be watchful and strengthen, for God hath ordained as the shepherds of His flock not Bishops only, but also Angels.

From St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

Lest thou shouldest think all things mean, as thou art accustomed to think of things human, hear and digest this The Word was God. Now perhaps there will come forward some Arian unbeliever, and say that the Word of God was a creature. How can the Word of God be a creature, when it was by the Word that all creatures were made? If He be a creature, then there must have been some other Word, not a creature, by which He was made. And what Word is that? If thou sayest that it was by the word of the Word Himself that He was made, I tell thee that God had no other, but One Only-begotten Son. But if thou say not that it was by the word of the Word Himself that He was made, thou art forced to confess that. He by Whom all things were made was not Himself made at all. Believe the Gospel. 

A Very Merry and Blessed Feast of the Nativity to All!

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, Rex et Legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et salvator earum; veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expectation and Saviour of the nations! come and save us, O Lord our God! 
O Emmanuel! King of Peace! thou enterest to-day the city of thy predilection, the city in which thou hast placed thy Temple, - Jerusalem. A few years hence, and the same city will give thee thy Cross and thy Sepulchre: nay, the day will come, on which thou wilt set up thy Judgment-seat within sight of her walls. But, to-day, thou enterest the city of David and Solomon unnoticed and unknown. It lies on thy road to Bethlehem. Thy Blessed Mother and Joseph, her Spouse, would not lose the opportunity of visiting the Temple, there to offer to the Lord their prayers and adoration. They enter; and then, for the first time, is accomplished the prophecy of Aggeus, that great shall be the glory of this last House more than of the first [Agg. ii. 10.] ; for this second Temple has now standing within it an Ark of the Covenant more precious than was that which Moses built; and within this Ark, which is Mary, there is contained the God, whose presence makes her the holiest of sanctuaries. The Lawgiver himself is in this blessed Ark, and not merely, as in that of old, the tablet of stone on which the Law was graven. The visit paid, our living Ark descends the steps of the Temple, and sets out once more for Bethlehem, where other prophecies are to be fulfilled. We adore thee, O Emmanuel! in this thy journey, and we reverence the fidelity wherewith thou fulfillest all that the prophets have written of thee, for thou wouldst give to thy people the certainty of thy being the Messias, by showing them, that all the marks, whereby he was to be known, are to be found in thee. And now, the hour is near; all is ready for thy Birth; come, then, and save us; come, that thou mayest not only be called our Emmanuel, but our Jesus, that is, He that saves us. 

From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger 

Monday, December 22, 2014

O Rex Gentium

O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum; veni, et salva hominem quem de limo formasti.O King of nations, and their desired One, and the corner-stone that makest both one; come and save man whom thou formedst out of slime. 
O King of Nations! thou art approaching still nigher to Bethlehem, where thou art to be born. The journey is almost over, and thy august Mother, consoled and strengthened by the dear weight she bears, holds an unceasing converse with thee on the way. She adores thy divine Majesty; she gives thanks to thy mercy; she rejoices that she has been chosen for the sublime ministry of being Mother to God. She longs for that happy moment when her eyes shall look upon thee, and yet she fears it. For, how will she be able to render thee those services which are due to thy infinite greatness, she that thinks herself the last of creatures? How will she dare to raise thee up in her arms, and press thee to her heart, and feed thee at her breasts? When she reflects that the hour is now near at hand, in which, being born of her, thou wilt require all her care and tenderness, her heart sinks within her; for, what human heart could bear the intense vehemence of these two affections, - the love of such a Mother for her Babe, and the love of such a Creature for her God? But thou supportest her, O thou the Desired of Nations! for thou, too, longest for that happy Birth, which is to give the earth its Saviour, and to men that Corner-Stone, which will unite them all into one family. Dearest King! be thou blessed for all these wonders of thy power and goodness! Come speedily, we beseech thee, come and save us, for we are dear to thee, as creatures that have been formed by thy divine hands. Yea, come, for thy creation has grown degenerate; it is lost; death has taken possession of it: take it thou again into thy almighty hands, and give it a new creation; save it; for thou hast not ceased to take pleasure in and love thine own work.
From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Conversion: An Abuse of Language

Converted in a day,
sanctified in a lifetime.
We have all heard it when confessing to diocesan Roman priests: "conversion" used in some vague, indeterminate sense. "Focus on that on-going process of conversion" or "keep that conversion going," as though the person in the confessional is not already a Catholic, just a sinful one. They like to draw out the conversion of St. Augustine, whose conversion was a process which spanned many years. What they neglect is that it ended with one definitive moment, when he was baptized on Pascha in 387. From then on he was a Catholic who, like us, sometimes sinned. There was no "on-going conversion," only what the West calls "Sanctification" and the East calls "Theosis." 

Why do they do this, then? Why use "conversion" instead of the two perfectly suitable previous words? Have Confessors grown afraid of Sanctity? I hope not. Is it a "no true Scotsman" logical fallacy that circulates seminaries?—no true Catholic would sin. Is it the result of reading the Gather Hymnal too often ("We are pilgrims on a journey, We are travelers on the road....") and thinking that one is not really a Catholic until death, at which point one is likely to become at least a beatus

I find this point confusing, not only because I think the context of Confession inappropriate for use of the word "conversion," but also because, unlike other modern oddities in the Church, his Traddiness has difficulty pinpointing the root of this trend.

O Oriens

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeterne, et sol justitiae; veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.O Orient! splendour of eternal light, and Sun of Justice! come and enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
O Jesus, divine Sun! thou art coming to snatch us from eternal night: blessed for ever be thy infinite goodness! But thou puttest our faith to the test, before showing thyself in all thy brightness. Thou hidest thy rays, until the time decreed by thy heavenly Father comes, in which all thy beauty will break upon the world. Thou art traversing Judea; thou art near Jerusalem; the journey of Mary and Joseph is nigh its term. Crowds of men pass or meet thee on the road, each one hurrying to his native town, there to be enrolled, as the Edict commands. Not one of all these suspects that thou, O divine Orient! art so near him. They see thy Mother Mary, and they see nothing in her above the rest of women; or if they are impressed by the majesty and incomparable modesty of this august Queen, it is but a vague feeling of surprise at there being such dignity in one so poor as she is; and they soon forget her again. If the Mother is thus an object of indifference to them, it is not to be expected that they will give even so much as a thought to her Child, that is not yet born. And yet this Child is thyself, O Sun of Justice! Oh! increase our Faith, but increase, too, our Love. If these men loved thee, O Redeemer of mankind, thou wouldst give them the grace to feel thy presence; their eyes, indeed, would not yet see thee, but their hearts, at least, would burn within them, they would long for thy coming, and would hasten it by their prayers and sighs. Dearest Jesus! who thus traversest the world thou hast created, and who forcest not the homage of thy creatures, we wish to keep near thee during the rest of this thy journey: we kiss the footsteps of Her that carries thee in her womb; we will not leave thee, until we arrive together with thee at Bethlehem, that House of Bread, where, at last, our eyes will see thee, O splendour of eternal light, our Lord and our God!

From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

O Clavis David

O Clavis David et Sceptrum domus Israel, qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit; veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel!  who openest, and no man shutteth: who shuttest, and  no man openeth; come and  lead the captive from prison,  sitting in darkness and in the  shadow of death. 
O Jesus, Son of David! heir to his throne and his power! thou art now passing over, in thy way to Bethlehem, the land that once was the kingdom of thy ancestor, but now is tributary to the Gentiles. Scarce an inch of this ground which has not witnessed the miracles of the justice and the mercy of Jehovah, thy Father, to the people of that old Covenant, which is so soon to end. Before long, when thou hast come from beneath the virginal cloud which now hides thee, thou wilt pass along this same road doing good [Acts, x. 36.], healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity [St Matth. iv. 23.], and yet having not where to lay thy head? [St. Luke, ix. 58.] Now, at least, thy Mother's womb affords thee the sweetest rest, and thou receivest from her the profoundest adoration and the tenderest love. But, dear Jesus, it is thine own blessed will that thou leave this loved abode. Thou hast, O Eternal Light, to shine in the midst of this world's darkness, this prison where the captive, whom thou art come to deliver, sits in the shadow of death. Open his prison-gates by thy all-powerful key. And who is this captive, but the human race, the slave of error and vice? Who is this Captive, but the heart of man, which is thrall to the very passions it blushes to obey? Oh! come and set at liberty the world thou hast enriched by thy grace, and the creatures whom thou hast made to be thine own Brethren.

From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ostpolitik: A Hermeneutic of Continuity

News of the pope's very prominent role in de facto ending America's long standing embargo against Communist Cuba has caused the secular press, again, to rejoice in the reigning pontiff's accomplishments. The media are comparing Francis' efforts in Cuba to John Paul II's efforts against the Red Russians, disregarding a strong difference in goals.Perhaps, when the writers at the New York Times are not goading on the mayors of that town to ban smoking, they will light up a Cohiba Esplendido in celebration. For those looking to make more serious sense of Francis' international politics, one must look back to the beginning of the 20th century. 

Francis is continuing a dangerous and long disproven method of Vatican diplomacy called Ostpolitik. One could seek a formal definition using Mr. Google, but a practical definition would be something like this: whereas in previous times the Church exercised political power through alliances with like-minded and like-oriented parties, she now engages hostile parties directly, making concessions to her aggressors in hopes that said aggressor will be nice. His Traddiness suspects that Ostpolitik has a special appeal to the modern papacy because it disassociates from the now-detested "altar and throne" arrangement of previous times and instead substitutes direct engagement where Churchmen can be assured of their own do-goodism. Benedict XV—along with Pietro Gasparri and Eugenio Pacelli, a disciple of Cardinal Rampolla—tried to end the First World War by his effete appeals and by maintaining neutrality, understandable given the Church's fragile status. Gasparri, as Pius XI's Secretariat of State, ended the Cristero War by forcing the army which had achieved absolute victory to make an unconditional surrender, again to maintain "the peace" despite the fact that the Cristeros were fighting for the faith, although not for the Vatican or the disinterested Mexican episcopacy. Pius XII most successfully practiced Ostpolitik to save nearly 800,000 Jews during the Second World War, leaning on local relations to stop deportation trains, to create false Bapstismal certificates, and to hide Jews in local religious houses. However, in doing so he put the entire Church at risk by not maintaining neutrality and the Church in Europe was more or less destroyed by the War, nominally rebuilt with American money after the conflict. He furtively practiced Ostpolitik with the Russians after the War while publicly maintaining an anti-Communist facade, hence his support for the troubled Josef Cardinal Mindszenty; given America's prominence, he had to tow their anti-Communist line while secretly attempting to make Catholics' lives better behind the Iron Curtain. Unlike his efforts on behalf of Western European Jews, his efforts for Eastern Catholics failed and the Eastern Churches were nearly liquidated; only the Ukrainian Church survived strong. Paul VI continued his mentor's approach with the Russians and maintained the lines of communication they had opened in the 1950s (those Orthodox observers at Vatican II did not appear ex nihilo). The process failed, reunion with the Orthodox never happened, and the anti-religious campaign of Nikita Khrushchev became as active as Stalin's. There is even some evidence that Communists had agents within the hierarchy, which should not be written off as "conspiracy" given that they had agents in every major Western government just as we had agents there. Pope Paul's continuation of Ostpolitik ended the Church's important place in international affairs until the election of John Paul.

Papa Wojtyla may not have been the virulent anti-Communist we like to imagine. His philosophical training was quite tainted by his rearing, which was not his fault. He even had unique travel privileges that his predecessor in Krakow did not enjoy. Still, he wanted to make life better for the Church behind the Iron Curtain and, rather than pick up where della Chiesa, Gasparri, Pacelli, and Montini left off, he began a unique diplomatic approach by paying visits to Eastern Europe, to his native Poland, and by making friends of Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the ideology's chief political opponents. Simultaneously, he subverted the Soviet establishment in the East and strengthened its opponents in the West. If the Second World War and the Cold War taught Wojtyla anything, it taught him a lesson in real power politics.

And now Francis has revived Ostpolitik in dealing with Cuba: secret negotiations with Communists in hopes that the situation will improve. Why did he do this? We can only guess: dislike of the embargo formed by the non-alignment legacy of Peronist Argentina? Fantastical notions of the poor of Cuba becoming wealthy with new trade lines become available? His arrant admiration of Paul VI, the pope he quotes most of all? Was he seduced by the supposedly charismatic Barack Obama? Could the Pope himself still have some hitherto unknown political baggage? We will probably not know until this Pope has passed and the political play in Cuba unfolds. This return to Ostpolitik disconcerts at least this writer, who had happily read a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rapture in the diplomacy of John Paul and Benedict XVI.

O Radix Jesse

O radix Jesse * qui stas in signum populórum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabúntur: veni ad liberándum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, * which standest for an ensign of the people, at whom the kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the Gentiles shall seek; come to deliver us, make no tarrying! 

"At length, O Son of Jesse! thou art approaching the city of thy ancestors. The Ark of the Lord has risen, and journeys, with the God that is in her, to the place of her rest. "How beautiful are thy steps, O thou daughter of the Prince," [Cant. vii. 1.] now that thou art bringing to the cities of Juda their salvation! The Angels escort thee, thy faithful Joseph lavishes his love upon thee, heaven delights in thee, and our earth thrills with joy to bear thus upon itself its Creator and its Queen. Go forward, O Mother of God and Mother of Men! Speed thee, thou propitiatory that holdest within thee the divine Manna which gives us life! Our hearts are with thee, and count thy steps. Like thy royal ancestor David, "we will enter not into the dwelling of our house, nor go up into the bed whereon we lie, nor give sleep to our eyes, nor rest to our temples, until we have found a place in our hearts for the Lord whom thou bearest, a tabernacle for this God of Jacob." [Ps. cxxxi. 3-5.] Come, then, O Root of Jesse! thus hid in this Ark of purity; thou wilt soon appear before thy people as the standard round which all that would conquer must rally. Then, their enemies, the Kings of the world, will be silenced, and the nations will offer thee their prayers. Hasten thy coming, dear Jesus! come and conquer all our enemies, and deliver us."
From Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

O Adonai

O Adonaï, et dux domus Israël, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extenso.O Adonaï, and leader of the house of Israel! who appearedst to Moses in the fire  of the flaming bush, and gavest him the law on Sinai;  come and redeem us by thy  outstretched arm. 
O Sovereign Lord! O Adonaï! come and redeem us, not by thy power, but by thy humility. Heretofore, thou didst show thyself to Moses thy servant in the midst of a mysterious flame; thou didst give thy law to thy people amidst thunder and lightning; now, on the contrary, thou comest not to terrify, but to save us. Thy chaste Mother having heard the Emperor's edict, which obliges her and Joseph her Spouse to repair to Bethlehem, she prepares everything needed for thy divine Birth. She prepares for thee, O Sun of Justice! the humble swathing-bands, wherewith to cover thy nakedness, and protect thee, the Creator of the world, from the cold of that mid-night hour of thy Nativity! Thus it is that thou willest to deliver us from the slavery of our pride, and show man that thy divine arm is never stronger than when he thinks it powerless and still. Everything is prepared, then, dear Jesus! thy swathing-bands are ready for thy infant limbs! Come to Bethlehem, and redeem us from the hands of our enemies. 

From The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger

Miss Ayn Rand

As part of the moving process, I have been confronted with the fact I own a considerable quantity of stamped paper objects known to the Luddites of the world as "books." Most of them I read once and consign to gather dust, decorating the room better than curtains or effete objet d'art possibly could. Other books I renew in my life regularly: St. Augustine's Confessions, Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, the adventures of Dumas, Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, and a few liturgical histories. In college, I read The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk several times before I undertook to read the actual men mentioned in the book rather than Kirk's vignette's on them. One book I wish never to reread is Miss Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, a book William Buckley, with scalpel accuracy, described as "fourteen hundred pages of ideological fabulism."

Atlas Shrugged may be the bestselling book no one has ever heard of. It sells, inexplicably, over 150,000 copies every year despite half a century of age. Following Hugo's Romantic and exaggerative style, Rand constructed a paradigm of radical individualism. In her setting, the world is run by "looters" and "moochers"—lazy corporate welfare dregs and government bureaucrats—who stifle the heroic individuals who, by the power of their superior brains and will, would otherwise run the world. The heiress to a railroad company is left to fight for her future while the rest of the world's brain power has gone on strike, under the influence of a mysterious man named John Galt. The first 250 pages of Rand's magnum excrementum read like an engaging detective story before it preaches without subtlety. Midway through the book, a doomed passenger train enters a tunnel. The author gleefully describes the personal shortcomings of those about to die. The climax of the book is a seventy page sermon on the primacy of the individual, the nonsense of Original Sin and non-voluntary community, and radical self-empowerment. The book ends with one of the main characters tracing out the "sign of the dollar," the religious symbol of the rugged Randian individual whose work value is expressed in money.

This "ideological fabulism" appeals to most every young conservative during his university years at some point. I went through a very brief phase of it, as did most of the men in the college Republicans at my school, until I realized that it contradicted both my religion and my common sense. Communities are not, contrary to Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thought, voluntary contracts between parties. They are entirely organic, which is why we flock, as children, to those of our own race, age, sex, and income bracket. We naturally and instinctively want to be around people like us, not to do business with people who can profit with us. There is certainly a place in both the Catholic faith and in common sense for individualism. The individual cannot be compelled to believe in something he does not, so long as he does not disturb the peace in the process. Leaving individuals to their own devices is often the best microeconomic advice, as only individuals are entirely appraised of their own unique variables in calculating their optimal decisions. Small businesses, large family purchases, and retirement plans work that way—or at least they did before the welfare state balloon under Johnson and Obama. But the individual does not exist in a bubble and enter into community. He, unlike the feral child John Galt, is born into it. 

I fear libertarianism, either in Randian forms or less extreme variations, is an adverse reaction to the collapse of communities and their replacement with a creeping Orwellian nebula, which is all-encompassing. Small town establishments, mom-n-pop stores, and churches have been swallowed into federal establishments, Fortune 100 companies, and megachurches (the Vatican is at the top of the list). People now naturally shy away from community because these perversions of community are all they have known, from baby-boomers to Generation Y. Do we go into the desert and attempt to live apart from the mad world as John Galt does, and as St. Anthony of Egypt really did, or do we try to fix our institutions as some restorationists would have us do? Both seem doomed to fail, but the over-arching nebula also cannot stand, as it both kills everything in its sight and bores those who remain alive. How much damage will the nebula do before the temperature rises and it dissipates? Regardless, the metaphysics of the Randian radical individualism will not help society return to normality.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Sapientia

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia; veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.O Wisdom, that proceedest from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end mightily, and disposing all things with strength and sweetness! come and teach us the way of prudence.
O Uncreated Wisdom! that art so soon to make thyself visible to thy creatures, truly thoudisposest all things. It is by thy permission, that the Emperor Augustus issues a decree ordering the enrolment of the whole world. Each citizen of the vast Empire is to have his name enrolled in the city of his birth. This prince has no other object in this order, which sets the world in motion, but his own ambition. Men go to and fro by millions, and an unbroken procession traverses the immense Roman world; men think they are doing the bidding of man, and it is God whom they are obeying. This world-wide agitation has really but one object; it is, to bring to Bethlehem a man and woman who live at Nazareth in Galilee, in order that this woman, who is unknown to the world but dear to heaven, and is at the close of the ninth month since she conceived her child, may give birth to this Child in Bethlehem, for the Prophet has said of him: "His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. And thou, O Bethlehem I art not the least among the thousand cities of Juda, for out of thee He shall come." [Mich. v. 2; St Matth. ii. 6.]. O divine Wisdom! how strong art thou, in thus reaching Thine ends by means which are infallible, though hidden! and yet, how sweet, offering no constraint to man's free-will! and withal, how fatherly, in providing for our necessities! Thou choosest Bethlehem for thy birth-place, because Bethlehem signifies the House of Bread. In this, thou teachest us that thou art our Bread, the nourishment and support of our life. With God as our food, we cannot die. O Wisdom of the Father, Living Bread that hast descended from heaven, come speedily into us, that thus we may approach to thee and be enlightened [Ps. xxxiii. 6.] by thy light, and by that prudence which leads to salvation.
From Dom Prosper Gueranger's The Liturgical Year 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Judaism & the Pauline Rite

Elsewhere we have cited Jean Guitton's radio interview in which he stated his friend, Papa Montini, aimed to approximate the Roman rite with the "Calvinist Mass." To many Catholics of the age, the transition from Latin to vernacular, from orientation to versus populum, and from chant to hymns appeared to mirror the process of de-Catholicizing England and the Germanic countries during the Reformation. The common perception that the Pauline Mass was inspired, in whole or part, by protestantism is integral to several studies of the new liturgy, notably Michael Davies' Pope Paul's New Mass and Anthony Cekada's Work of Human Hands. Ecumaniacs of the 1960s and 1970s egged on the Church about her sudden convergence with protestantism and her disregard for her past. There is a sliver of truth to this narrative, but it is on the whole a simplistic reduction for those looking to ignore what really happened in the 20th century.

The new liturgy is a baked outcome of a strange batter of ingredients: clerical lethargy, boredom with the devotional culture, Jansenism, Modernism, pro-protestant ecumenism, neo-Scholastic minimalism and focus with form-matter-intent, an archaeologist obsession with the "early Church" (whatever that was), and, we often forget, Judaism.

The Second World War and Holocaust had just ended. Religious scholarship of both Christianity and Judaism returned to European academia. Modern religious scholarship, like most bad things (Nazism, Communism, protestantism, Wagner, and beer) comes from Germany. In the 19th century linguistic scholarship boomed in Germany and, with it, textual criticism of Christian and Jewish literature. The consensus held in academic circles corresponded to the biases of academic circles at the time against religion. They held the New Testament books to be second and third century divinizations of an historically doubtful Jewish rabbi with a simply message of peace. Early Christianity was re-imagined as a simplistic, communitarian potluck devoid of strong clergy. Judaism did not escape unscathed, either.

One cannot really say that the Rabbinical Judaism of today is the Judaism of Christ's age. Since the 19th century people have understood the synagogue to the Jewish equivalent of a church and the rabbi to be the equivalent of a priest. The synagogue is the worship house and the rabbi leads the prayer rites and provides the community with instruction. That is certainly modern Judaism, the Judaism those wishing to return the Church to her primitive roots sought to imitate, but it betrays an ignorance of first century Judaism.

When one reads of the question of the Canon of Scripture, one finds numerous debates which revolve around which books Christ quotes to which people. The Pharisees, Saducees, and Hellenistic Jews accepted different books ranging from the five Mosaic books alone to the Greek books contained in the Septuagint. These points did not make Hellenistic Jews any less Jewish than the Pharisees. What defined a Jew at the time was ethnic origin, the observance of the Mosaic commandments, and one's relationship to the Temple. This last point cannot be ignored in any way. Jerusalem was a temple surrounded by a city, not a city housing  temple. The Temple was where God's Chosen People worshipped Him according to laws and rites revealed to them by Him through special prophets and continued with the aid of the Levitical priesthood. The rest was important, but additional. The Rabbinical model filled the abyss of a void created when the Temple was destroyed in 70, Jerusalem was destroyed in 135, and Jew expelled from Palestine until 1948. Judaism, to survive, moved from a Temple model to a synagogue model. Formerly, synagogues were akin to community and educational centers with a religious function. Rabbis were not strictly necessary. "Rabbi" was a generic term for a preacher, sometimes educated, sometimes not. The rabbi found himself in the synagogue eventually, expounding on the codified Hebrew Scriptures to members of a scattered community in some remote part of the Diaspora, far from Jerusalem. The priesthood, the place of worship, and the state were replaced with teacher, local community, and minority status. Imagine, as a Catholic, being trapped in some isolate part of northern China with some other Catholics and no priest. On Sundays, you gather as a group and perhaps get some spiritual advice from a particularly devout member of the circle. This is what happened to the Jewish people.

That Rabbinical Judaism influenced Christianity cannot be doubted. St. Paul came from the Pharisaical tradition that spawned the Rabbinical movement, a student himself of Rabban Gamaliel (rabban was a title of high status among rabbis). This influence is evident in St. Paul's epistolary and preaching style, which lived on in the Apostolic Fathers. This influence is not evident in the Patristic and Apostolic era's liturgical praxis because it did not exist. When one reads early accounts of the Christian house liturgies, one is struck at the level of organization (how many priests and deacons concelebrate, who houses the Eucharist, how many plates are used, who takes Communion to the sick etc). While the particular practices have either faded or been absorbed into the traditions of Rome, Byzantium, Antioch, Syria, Armenia, Alexandra and the others that come to us today, a clear taxis emerged. They worshipped in houses rather than grand edifices because houses were what was available to them. When Christianity emerged from the Diocletian persecution's catacombs and entered the Constantinian sun, the believers built grand churches and consecrated them as the Temples were consecrated. More recent scholarship by Margaret Barker and Laurence Hemming reveals that the Temple, not the synagogue, was the template the early—and certainly medieval—Christians sought to emulate. Hemming's Liturgy as Revelation even notes the strong textual parallels between the Roman Mass and Office for the Dedication of a Church (created c.500 for the consecrated of the Pantheon as "St. Mary and the Martyrs) and the previous Temple, as well as with the heavenly Jerusalem to come. The Church's rite are the maturation and fulfillment of the Temple rites, which prefigured Christ's perfect Sacrifice, a Sacrifice made present again on the altars of the Church. The priesthood is no longer Levitical, but Christ's. The Temple is no longer limited to one physical space because the Sacrifice of Christ can be renewed anywhere. 

The spiritual archaeologists, seeking a plain and communitarian "early Church," erroneously took Rabbinical Judaism as the normative model rather than the Temple Judaism which prefigured Christ and which He fulfilled. In doing so, they took the parish rather than the cathedral as the normative setting for the liturgy. They took the reduced parish liturgy rather than episcopal celebration as the normative standard. And they took an earthy community rather than a heavenly one as the normative attendees. Unfortunately, bad thoughts do not die with those who think them.

In related news, Anthony Cekada is trying to get his Work of Human Hands back into print. To bring attention to this endeavor he has returned to making one chapter summary videos on YouTube. I find Cekada's research very valuable, particularly with regard to the figures around the reform process and the variable parts of the new Mass (orations and the lectionary). Still, one gets the same trite words about Modernism vs. "traditional" (neo-Scholastic Latin moral) theology one finds among those whose knowledge of theology begins with St. Thomas' Summa and whose scope is limited to the Roman patriarchate. His latest video, below, provides invaluable information when he is not calling Eastern Christians "woolly" and "schismatic" without qualification. If readers have time, I recommend his earlier videos on the reform process, "Adroit Choices, Giant Voices," and the offertory. His sly style is both entertaining and accessible thanks to his helpers, Fr. Chuck and Fr. Retreaux.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Short Break

Laudetur Iesus Christus!

I am moving from Houston to Fort Worth, TX (permanently) this Saturday to start a new job and anticipate not posting anything for a short while.

I have, finally, added a bar to the left with links to the few blogs I do bother to read. Ecclesial Vigilante is the Lord of Bollock's page. He will be writing about oriental issues and liturgical rites, especially wishing to draw attention to Eastern rites other than the Byzantine rite. He intends to write about the Malankara liturgy soon. 

If any of you have suggestions for Eastern Christian reading other than ByzCath and some of the more incendiary Orthodox websites, please put them below.

While I am gone, feel free to start a war in the comment box on any topic that springs to mind!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


John R is proposing the adoption of the 1911 octave system in his Ordo, which seeks to follow the old psalter and kalendar system with some modern feasts and re-ranking of existing feasts to smooth out the problems that led to the Pian (X) changes. Click here and tell him why he is wrong.