Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Open Question on the ICRSS

When did their clergy become canons and is this title consistent with its historical use? I am probably ignorant on this matter, but I always thought of a canon as priest permanently attached to a collegiate church or cathedral immediately under the bishop, meaning the church is directly subject to the ordinary and that there is no layering of authority as in a monastery. In Italy canons are called Monsignor Someone while elsewhere they are usually addressed Canon Someone or Fr. Someone. As far as I can see this does not describe the Institute's situation.

Am I missing something? Does anyone else have insight on the matter? Regardless, the Institute does seem to have undergone a significant paradigm shift last decade.

Holy Saturday in 2003

Holy Saturday in 2012

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Open for Business

Please note at the top of the page a new tab. It links to the Rad Trad Liturgical Boutique, which is now open for business and accepting orders. Please drop in and discuss your favorite folded chasubles and your longing for Lyonese liturgy! All fetishes are welcome! Currently we are talking about concelebration in ancient times, so come in and spend your two cents.

The Rad Trad Liturgical Boutique is located in Dallas, TX and subject to a local sales tax of 8.25%.

Historical Artifact UPDATE

Here is an episode of a television program from 1988 that I am almost sure none of us has ever seen before. It was recorded shortly after Msgr. Lefebvre consecrated four men to the episcopacy without the Papal mandate and left us with the "Lefebvre vs. John Paul the Great" or "the Archbishop vs. Modernist Rome" narratives we hear today, both of which miss the point.

What interests me is that Fr. Kelly JENKINS gives a biography of Lefebvre in the first half of the video and then discusses the liturgical changes that figured in the expulsion of the Nine (sedevacantists, not the Nazgul). At 16:00 he talks about the fallout, at 17:00 the Holy Week changes and the Dialogue Mass, and 20:00 how Pius XII had no control over what was going on, and at 22:00 a [probably unintentional] mis-telling of the schema that passed in the Council in 1963.*

All very interesting to look back upon this twenty-six years later.

*= the schema that were prepared were several dozen documents. Both Lefebvre and Giovanni Battista Montini were on the commission that crafted them. All of them, save one, were thrown out during the first session, the only one over which Papa Giovanni presided; it was also, we must remember, the only session not to approve any documents. In 1963 the surviving document, Sacrosanctam Concilium, written by Msgr. Bugnini, gained approval and resulted in the 1964 Inter Oecumenici.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Another New Mass?

No, not the Mass of Paul VI. The Chaldean Catholic Church, which apparently has a very chaotic liturgical situation, is in the midst of promulgating new texts for the celebration of Mass. They are calling it a "New Mass," but being no expert in the Chaldean rite I cannot say how much is this is genuine restoration, de-Latinization, neo-Latinization, or, as they are saying, a "return to our roots." This article, which covers the more pastoral points of the reformed liturgy, indicate that ad orientem worship will be restored as a mandatory rubric! I wish the Chaldeans well!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Icons and Reality

Most talks I have heard about icons, such as this one, emphasize that icons are not realistic nor are they meant to be. Instead they depict an image similar to what the reality was, but spiritualize the details and avoid lines and shadows that reflect normal life. This was not always the case.

Observe the two depictions of the common Christ the Pantocrator icon, often found in first millennium Latin churches and still found in Eastern churches. The icon on the left resides in the monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai in Egypt and was "written," likely using vegetable painted paint, in the 6th century. The icon on the right can be found in any Byzantine Catholic or Orthodox church around the world. The older icon takes great pains, nine centuries prior to the Renaissance, to show skin contractions created by making facial expressions, line in the neck and hands from bending skin, shadows in clothing, human skin pigments, books resembling the binding of holy books of the day, and a Semitic face. The newer and more conventional icon on the right has few if any of these features. The absence of these characteristics does not make the icon on the right deficient, but it does underscore an evolution in iconography.

Cathedral of Ss. Peter & Paul, Cefalu, Sicily.
To this day Russian icons look very real. The nineteenth century fascination with baroque and Renaissance art in Russia ushered in a return to realistic iconography visible still in the cathedral of Our Savior in Moscow.

In the West what we now call icons were originally mosaics or fresco styled paintings. One of my personal favorites is the Pantocrator Christ in the apse of Ss. Peter & Paul Cathedral in Cefalu, Sicily (also used as a stand in for the old St. Peter's Basilica in that atrocious Brother Sun Sister Moon film). Christ, the Blessed Mother, and the Saints are shown as realistically as first millennium artists could attempt to make them. Western artists, free from the politics and the spiritual change wrought by the iconoclast controversy in Constantinople, were free to explore new media of expression when sculpture and painting on wood came in the middle ages and marble returned in the Renaissance. 

Eastern images instead took a turn toward the exclusively spiritual. Every detail of Byzantine icons carries a deeper meaning, particularly the icons highlighted during the Great Fast (Palm Sunday, the Ladder of Ascent, and the Icon of Extreme Humility come to mind). I have long held that February 19, 842 was the birth of the Orthodox Church as we know it. During a time when the Roman and Constantinopolitan churches held similar artistic and philosophical traditions, and were recently under one political system, the Byzantine tradition imbued itself with a distinctive and defining attachment to icons unknown in either the West or the non-Byzantine East—where the orthodoxy of images had not been questioned. The Greek proclivity to give icons an exclusively spiritual character would be complete during the Hesychast revival under St. Gregory Palamas and remain a permanent feature of the Orthodox Church after the fall of Constantinople to the Mohammadans, destroying the vibrant cultural and theological center of Eastern Christianity and assuring that the form of Byzantine praxis that existed in 1453 would be what survived to the present day.

Again, none of these changed are necessarily bad. Neither the right side icon at the top of the page nor the Jesus of Michelangelo's Pieta are the Jesus of the first millennium icons, and so what? They each have their own value, but we must not ignore the fact that the original impetus behind creating images means second millennium Latin artwork and Greek iconography should be seen as compliments emanating from a common origin and not as contrasts between the more ancient and original Greeks and the spiritually corrupt Latins.

Let us conclude with an excerpt of a sermon given by [St?] Photios, the ninth century archbishop of Constantinople, on the occasion of the dedication of a Panagia icon int he Hagia Sophia:
"Christ came to us in the flesh, and was borne in the arms of His Mother. This is seen and confirmed and proclaimed in pictures, the teaching made manifest by means of personal eyewitness, and impelling the spectators to unhesitating assent. Does a man hate the teaching by means of pictures? Then how could he not have previously rejected and hated the message of the Gospels? Just as speech is transmitted by hearing, so a form through sight is imprinted upon the tablets of the soul, giving to those who apprehension is not soiled by wicked doctrines a representation of knowledge concordant with piety. Martyrs have suffered for their love of God, showing with their blood the ardor of their desire, and their memory is contained in books. These deeds they are also seen performing in pictures, as painting presents the martyrdom of those blessed men more vividly to our knowledge. Others have been burnt alive, a sacrifice sanctified by their prayer, fasting and other labors. These things are conveyed both by stories and by pictures, but it is the spectators rather than the hearers who are drawn to emulation. The Virgin is holding the Creator in her arms as an infant. Who is there who would not marvel, more from the sight of it than from the report, at the magnitude of the mystery, and would not rise up to laud the ineffable condescension that surpasses all words? For even if the one introduces the other, yet the comprehension that comes about through sight is shown in very fact to be far superior to the learning that penetrates through the ears. Has a man lent his ear to a story? Has his intelligence visualized and drawn to itself what he has heard? Then, after judging it with sober attention, he deposits it in his memory. No less – indeed much greater – is the power of sight. For surely, having somehow through the outpouring and effluence of the optical rays touched and seen encompassed the object, it too sends the essence of the thing seen on to the mind, letting it be conveyed from there to the memory for the concentration of unfailing knowledge. Has the mind seen? Has it grasped? Has it visualized? Then it has effortlessly transmitted the forms of memory. Is there one who rejects the holy writings on these matters and, in spite of the fact that allies are dispelled by them, considers them to be not above dispute? Then this man has long since transgressed by scorning the veneration of holy images. Does he, on the contrary, reverence the latter, and honor them with proper respect? Then he will be disposed likewise towards the writings. If he treats either one with reverence or with contempt, he necessarily bestows the same on the other, unless, in addition to being impious, he has also abandoned reason, and is not only irreverent, but also preaches things which are in conflict with his own position. Those, therefore, who have slipped into assailing the holy images are proved not to have kept the correctness of doctrine either, but with the one they abjure the other. They do not dare confess what they believe, chary, not of being impious, but of appearing so; and they avoid the name whereof they willingly pursue the actions. Abominable in their misdeeds, they are more abominable in their impiety. Their whole offshoot has perished, branches, roots and all, even as the wondrous David in his canticle sings of the memorial of the impious being destroyed with noise, and it is He Whom they have set at naught through His picture Who has passed righteous judgment on them. But before our eyes stands motionless the Virgin carrying the Creator in her arms as an infant, depicted in painting as she is in writings and visions, an interceder for our salvation and a teacher of reverence to God, a grace of the eyes and a grace of the mind, carried by which the divine love in us is uplifted to the intelligible beauty of truth."

The icon dedicated by Photios.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Vicious Circle of the Elite Universities

For those with any interest in the curious state of education at elite American universities, a cultural impasse of the most difficult kind, I recommend this article.

It has its short-comings by omission. The author neglects, for instance, the disaster of Affirmative Action, which often leads to less qualified candidates gaining admission to schools at the cost of other candidates for non-academic reasons. People often assume blacks and Hispanics benefit the most and whites suffer the most under Affirmative Action, but from personal observation I would say that Asians and Asian-Americans are those most often excluded under this scheme.

The author's liberal perspective also inspires him to suggest weighing SAT scores by demographic background, which entirely defeats the purpose of the test—which is a long corrupted version of an IQ test. He is onto something though, as not a few students at elite universities have been programmed by the likes of Michele Hernandez since age 12 to gain admission to Ivy League or near-Ivy League caliber schools. This entails exotic experiences from constructing health clinics in Kenya (as though senior citizens or homeless here are a less worthy cause) to hours of one-on-one SAT tutoring.

This excellent article could be completed by understanding that affluent whites are not the only demographic problem at the elite schools. As a graduate of one of these institutions I would guess 35% of my school would be called "affluent and white," 40-45% would be called "diverse" on ethnic and sexual grounds, and the remainder would be just boring middle and upper-middle class America. As a member of this class group I often found myself a spectator watching two separate matches being contested, two separate movies being played: the wealthy white frat boys and sorority girls, and the ethnic/gay/foreign student crowd. We the "ordinary people" had remarkably little in common with either group. Sadly, I found people in my group to have the most genuine intellectual curiosity, as we had not been programmed like academic automatons like our wealthy counterparts and unlike the diverse part of the populace we generally had an apolitical perspective. The disdain for originality and good writing by professors stunned me. With few exceptions they favored politicized, thinly-guised regurgitations of their own opinions or of views closely related to the accepted orthodoxy of the age. I once penned a forty page paper—the assigned page count—on Edmund Burke's concept of "Moral Imagination" for an intellectual history class. My best friend plagiarized a summary book on the Enlightenment, the professor's favorite era, that dealt with Hume, the professor's favorite thinker, using very creative formatting to bump seventeen pages up to twenty-two. He got an A- and I got a B+. The experience rather turned me off from my previous plans to do a doctorate and move into teaching.

More diversity is necessary in universities, but admissions staff are often flummoxed by this problem and do not know how to get students with broader life experiences and true intellectual curiosity. The endless wheel goes round and round....

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

St. James the Babysitter?

"That's not St. Joseph," exclaimed the wry and sly fellow who comments on this blog under the revealing pseudonym "J." "That's one of St. Joseph's children from his first marriage come over to baby sit!"

The context of this conversation was the unveiling of a new painting of the Holy Family at the FSSP parish in Irving, a painting that depicted the stepfather of Jesus as a young, strong, virile, brown-haired man with a passive disposition. Fashion in the last few centuries dictates a youthful, potent Joseph with a bright future as a physical laborer and strong protector of the Holy Family. This halcyon St. Joseph is, however, not the St. Joseph of the Church's tradition.

Joseph was, according to the earlier sources, previously married and widowed with children. His vocation from God to wed the Virgin Mary and guard the Son the God made Man came late in life after much experience raising a family and earning a living. Indeed, the protoevangelium of James, a non-canonical book which the Church has trusted for historical information in outlining her tradition, states:
"And Joseph, throwing away his axe, went out to meet them; and when they had assembled, they went away to the high priest, taking with them their rods. And he, taking the rods of all of them, entered into the temple, and prayed; and having ended his prayer, he took the rods and came out, and gave them to them: but there was no sign in them, and Joseph took his rod last; and, behold, a dove came out of the rod, and flew upon Joseph's head. And the priest said to Joseph, Thou hast been chosen by lot to take into thy keeping the virgin of the Lord. But Joseph refused, saying: I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. I am afraid lest I become a laughing-stock to the sons of Israel. And the priest said to Joseph: Fear the Lord thy God, and remember what the Lord did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah; how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up on account of their contradiction. And now fear, O Joseph, lest the same things happen in thy house. And Joseph was afraid, and took her into his keeping. And Joseph said to Mary: Behold, I have received thee from the temple of the Lord; and now I leave thee in my house, and go away to build my buildings, and I shall come to thee. The Lord will protect thee."
Were Joseph an elderly man when he married the Blessed Mother his death would have been expected by the time Jesus began His public ministry around age thirty.

Another interesting passage is Matthew 13:55 onward:
"Is not this the carpenter' s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Jude?"

The Douay-Rheims Bible as revised by Challoner has a footnote on Matthew 13:55: " His brethren: These were the children of Mary the wife of Cleophas, sister to our Blessed Lady, (St. Matt. 27. 56; St. John 19. 25,) and therefore, according to the usual style of the Scripture, they were called brethren, that is, near relations to our Saviour."

This footnote is one explanation of Jesus' "brethren," a term used in Semitic languages at the time to mean anyone a half-cousin or closer, but there is another possibility, too. These "brethren" may have been St. Joseph's children, but not Mary's. Jesus is identified with Mary and Joseph—who is dead presumably at this point, but the "brethren" are not identified with Mary—who is still alive. James "the brother of the Lord," James the Just, mentioned by St. Paul in Galatians may well have been an older stepbrother of the Lord. It has been suggested that while the average parish is a hopeless case, traditional communities could perhaps indirectly re-introduce the Church's tradition with regard to St. Joseph by beginning a devotion to St. James the Babysitter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Do You Drink?

Yes, it was as good as it looked.
I make no secret that I love a potent potable, although I am far from a dipsomaniac. Aside from wine—and I shudder to think of what middle class America considers "wine," something called Cupcake and another called Barefoot currently impose upon the shelves of most markets—I think a man or woman's choice of adult beverage says much about that person's personality.

Personally I love the Vesper martini, invented by Ian Fleming of James Bond fame while writing at the Duke's Hotel in the Mayfair district of London. I had been on the beverage for a year or two before I had it at the Duke's Hotel. It is three parts gin, one vodka, one Lillet Blanc, with a dash of bitters, served straight with a citrus twist. Generally I like any good gin, be it Beefeater, Tanqueray, or something similar. The best gin I ever had was "No. 3" by Berry Brothers & Rudd of London. I have only seen the stuff once in the United States though.

I think much like myself, gin is an acquired taste that most do not acquire, but those who do can somewhat appreciate. As with my posts, there is great variety in quality of gin and the number of botanicals is not as relevant as most think. The distillation process is really what is key. It is what separates Beefeater from Gordon's (which was a good gin before they watered down the alcohol content from 50% to 40% for American consumers). Also, like gin, I have a bitterness than some cannot get past, but can grow on those who do. And finally I have a bit of snob appeal that may or may not be justified.

What do you drink?

On an unrelated note, I once spent a weekend with a Swedish Baptist and his family of teetotalers. During the car ride to his house I, tired from the trip, suggested I would not mind a tightener upon arrival. He said, "Oh, we're all teetotalers in my family." Not understanding the word, I thought it would be "tea totallers," perhaps indicating enthusiasm for Harney Teas some 10 miles across the New York state border. "Yes," I replied, "I like tea, but I would prefer a stronger drink. Do you have any gin?" Horrified, he explained that no one in his family drank alcohol and they kept none in their house either. I respected his family's position, part religious and part the result of a history of alcoholism in his lineage, however anyone who lives without Bordeaux (or "claret" for English readers) is only living, but is not actually alive!

St. Mary Magdalen: Duplex? 3rd Class? Memorial?

Mr. Wolfe of Rorate Caeli has posted on the apparent demotion of the feast of St. Mary Magdalen by big bad Bugnini in the 20th century. He writes:

"The 1962 calendar today marks the third class feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, penitent, while the novus ordo calendar has a "memorial" for Saint Mary Magdalene with no title after her name (unlike other saints' days)..... Even before the massive reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council, however, there were a host of changes under Pius XII and John XXIII, many of which have been linked to Archbishop Annibale Bugnini..... One such changed involved the Credo in the Mass appointed for this feast day of Saint Mary Magdalene, penitent."
First, I would like to say that there is really no difference between a 1962 III class feast and a Pauline memorial. For a good cause, one could replace the feast today with a votive Mass—say a requiem or a nuptial. The Pauline liturgy has so many options one could only use the orations of the feast or use the readings as well and create a unique, non-ferial Mass. In the Office, both the Pauline and Pian/Johannine liturgies are ferial with orations of the saint and a few festive antiphons and readings.

Second, we come to where the Pauline and Pian/Johannine liturgies really differ from the old rite: the Office. In the immemorial Roman Office today would have been treated as a major feast, hence the Double rank—originally reserved to feasts of the Lord, Our Lady, the Apostles, major martyrs, Doctors, and patron saints. St. Mary Magdalen was seen as equivalent to those people. For good reason was she called the "Apostle to the Apostles." She gave Christ burial rites by anointing Him while He was still alive. She stood by the Cross when all the Apostles, save John, fled. And she was the first, other than Our Lady according to tradition, to meet the Christ risen. This is not an ordinary woman nor is this a female saint who fits into conventional categories. Her Double office meant three nocturns at Mattins—with three readings of Scripture, three from St. Gregory the Great, the Gospel of the day, and three lessons from St. Augustine. Festive psalms would be used in the major hours and her Mass would not admit commemorations. Indeed, prior to 1911 her feast could, rightly I believe, supersede a Sunday. Even after the Pius X reform she would have been commemorated at first Vespers, Mattins, Lauds, Mass (with a proper Last Gospel), and second Vespers on a Sunday. 

I do not want to launch into a rant or diatribe, so I will end the post here. It suffices to say much more was lost than the recitation of the Creed at Mass. Indeed the Office of St. Mary Magdalen is, like so many of the ancient Roman sanctoral offices, among of the most beautiful liturgical days in the Church. As Fr. Capreolus highlighted to me, just look at the responsories at Mattins!

Monday, July 21, 2014

"We Believe" by Alfred Gilbey

Msgr. Alfred N. Gilbey
source: Fisher House, Cambridge University
In preparation for our series on the traditionalist movement I have been reading more on and by the late Msgr. Alfred Newman Gilbey. Currently, at the suggestion of Mr. Alan Robinson, I am perusing his We Believe, a short volume on the faith based upon a conventional question-and-answer catechism, but expanded to give a prudent and well reasoned synopsis of the Church's understanding and teaching on its topics. Gilbey manages to be both traditional, in the apolitical sense of the word, and fresh at the same time. I would like to draw attention to two particulars of this book that have caught my interest thus far.

This first is Gilbey's treatment of the concept of doctrinal development, so often misunderstood by those who wish to change doctrine or by those who believe the Apostles taught with philosophically loaded terms like "accidents" and "essence." I have already touched on this matter in my overview of St. Vincent of Lerins here, but Gilbey expounds the matter better than I possibly could:
"Someone who has not grasped the concept of the Church as a person finds it difficult to understand her changing superficial aspects. Like a person, the Church is not static at all. Not only is she growing in the obvious, external matters of expansion, organisation and the rest, but she is growing too in an understanding of herself. Just as you now understand yourself better [than] you did at any earlier period of your life, so does she. If you or I were to embark on a new intellectual discipline such as psychology, our understanding of ourselves would increase while our identities would remain unchanged. So, too, the Church has adopted new vocabularies throughout her history to explain what she always believed. She pressed Greek philosophy into her service to provide the precise vocabulary she required to express what she had always believed about the Incarnation. She did the same when she used the terms of Aristotle's philosophy to describe the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and again when she used the concept of evolution in the nineteenth century to describe the development of doctrines which she had believed in embryo from the first moment of her being.... I.... could not have given this identical instruction word for word 50 years ago. But do I believe something different? By God's grace, no."
The other interesting part is the end of chapter 8, where the monsignor discusses why the Church, a society comprised of people incorporated into Christ, has laws that we must obey: "Take the liturgical changes through which we have been passing. Many people have found them distasteful, but there is no question that you must obey them." Gilbey celebrated neither the Pauline Mass nor the 1962 Mass. He was a strict pre-Pian Missal user. Indeed, he once violently expelled a "EF" Missal that had imposed on his traditional one! The human laws of the Church have value based on their place in the tradition of the Church. It is good to realize Msgr. Gilbey saw that, too.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fire, Cars & Elias

In the Greek tradition today is the feast of St. Elias the prophet, commemorated during the Divine Liturgy and during the Office. The pastor of our parish preached the best sermon I have heard in a very long time. Elias, or Elijah, was a prophet in the proper sense of the word, "coming from the mouth," one who speaks on behalf of God to people about their sins and calls them to repentance. A prophet is not a fortune teller or palm reader who predicts the future. Elias called Ahab and his wife to repent after permitting the veneration and then aiding the worship of false deities. Then God sent forth His punishment in the form of a drought.

It occurred to me over the course of the sermon that the punishments of God often are anti-Sacraments or work in the opposite way of a Sacrament. God made the world and saw what He created was good, although Man fell and took Creation with him. That did not annihilate the goodness of Creation, but wounded it. What Christ did when He spat in dirt and used the mud to heal a man's blindness was to show that the physical would soon aid the spiritual, which He fulfilled in giving to the Church the Sacraments. In punishment God afflicts the physical Creation because one often allows the created things to crowd out the soul. In killing the created, God uncovers the soul in its affliction.

Of course no one likes affliction or punishment and the people Elias confronted were no different. Exceptional and rare among the prophets, Enoch the only other like him, St. Elias did not die either by murder or natural causes. Rather he was taken by God in a chariot of fire. In commemoration of his assumption, if that term is proper, priests traditionally bless cars and other means of transportation today. We were privileged to have our vehicles blessed today.

The priest added the wise observation that the Church is the prophet today, calling people away from their ills and to repentance. If that is not what the Church is doing, it is what she must do.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thought on the Douay-Rheims Translation

Mr. Livingston asked for an opinion on some of the Latinism and the extreme literalism of the Douay-Rheims translation. I like the Douay translation and find it both accurate and pleasing to read. It may not have the literary value of the James version, but much of it is very similar. Indeed, I wonder if in parts—particularly the first two chapters of Luke—the James version is just an Anglicanization/protestantization of the Douay translation (the first two chapters of Luke are word for word the same despite the older Douay being translated from Latin and the later James version supposedly being translated from Greek).

Mr. Livingston inquired specifically about Luke 1:78 "Through the bowels of mercy of our God," bowels commonly translated today as "heart." The bowels were not seen as glamorous or tender parts of the body by ancient people, but rather the deepest parts of the body, so far removed from the surface as to be inaccessible. The bowels of mercy means the deepest kind of mercy, not mere forgiveness, but a restoration of one's self in God's eyes.

Some other Latinisms in the Douay which might be more useful to use today, who have had to deal with the occasionally dreadful New American Bible given to us by the USCCB. I cannot remember where it is in Acts of the Apostles, but I do know that the Douay/Vulgate version translates the sending of the Apostles as "sprinkling" whereas the common translations use "spread" or "sent." The Greek original favors the Douay/Vulgate and recalls that the Apostles were sent by Christ with the Holy Spirit to Baptize all nations. It also recalls that water is a symbol of creation and that a new sprinkling necessarily means a new creation or a restored creation. 

Now Mr. Livingston has also asked what to make of psalm 18:6: "He hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way." Any ideas, dear readers?"

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Does anyone know if the Church or the Fathers have some sort of opinion on the existence of ghosts? I cannot claim to have encountered any supernatural specters, but two friends of mine separately claim to have encountered them, so I am asking for ideas. Are they illusions—most often probably. What else? Are they ghosts? Angels mis-interpreted? Demons? The damned? Those in purgation? The student union at my university was supposedly haunted by the wife of the man whose name the building bears and many workers have had frights in that place.

New Information on Holy Innocents

Candlemas at Holy Innocents, 2013
I recently posted a petition to save Holy Innocents church in New York City, a thriving center of Catholicism with no financial debts or burdens. A friend of mine who indirectly works with the archdiocese of New York tells me there is more than meets the eye here. The parish is not being persecuted for favoring the Latin Mass. Many Manhattan parishes are subsidized because Manhattan is so expensive and many people have moved to the boroughs. Brooklyn is actually thriving, although it has its own diocese.

Holy Innocents is a self-sustaining parish which the archdiocese sees as having little upside. They hope that by closing it its congregation and wealthy donors will flock to nearby parishes—like St. John the Baptist and St. Francis, or even Holy Family near the U.N.—that have larger minority populations. This would ease the need to subsidize such large parishes that have difficulty paying the bills and would allow the archdiocese to flip the property for a profit.

Of course this is doomed to fail. The congregation and money will flock to the already successful St. Agnes near Grand Central, another wonderful parish, and ignore the nonsense of southern Manhattan, but the archdiocese may not see it that way. People need to find a charitable way to tell the archdiocese that closing Holy Innocents would damage the congregation quite a lot and benefit the chancery very little.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Interesting Re-Post By Fr. Hunwicke

We boutique liturgical fetishists have long pondered a minor question which, I think, illustrates the liturgical mish-mash discussed earlier in Summorum Pontificum & the Rite of Econe. Is St. Joseph in the Canon of the Mass in the books as SP and the Ecclesia Dei commission want us to use them or is he not?

Fr. Hunwicke mentions the matter a bit and his readers in the comment box below debate the issue of dates. The 1962 Missal was issued mid-year and the addition of St. Joseph, issued in November that year, did not take effect until December 8th. So do those who celebrate under the aegis of SP use the 1962 typical edition or the books that existed by December 31st, 1962?

The video referenced is a Mass demonstration created by a FSSP priest in their church in Rome, where I have had the privilege of hearing Mass. The celebrant does not say St. Joseph's name in the Canon, nor does he observe many other oddities in the 1962 Missal (bowing to the book and not the Cross at per Dominum nostrum, the Holy Name etc., not that anyone observed the suppression of these gestures in 1962 either). Yet there is no Confiteor at Communion nor votive orations and the Gloria is said (the Mass in question is a votive Mass of the Holy Cross). See below around 1:20:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Two Useful Websites

I would like to bring to readers' attention the Institute of Catholic Culture and Orientale Lumen, two websites with a lot of information for Catholics. The Institute of Catholic Culture is run by a Melkite deacon out of Virginia and has hundreds of hours of audio lectures on philosophy, Church history, theology, liturgy, ethics, and much more. It is great material to download and play in the car whilst driving or while exercising. Despite the director's Melkite affiliation, the material is broadly Catholic and does not delve into the tiresome "East vs. West" buncombe. 

Orientale Lumen—descended from the Catholic and Chalcedonian Orthodox conferences—tastes of a distinctly Eastern flavor, as one might expect. It has interesting lectures on spirituality, Byzantine theology, and many videos of Greek liturgical functions. Among my favorites are lectures by Met. Kallistos Ware on the Trinity and Fr. Robert Taft's series on the "final synthesis" of the Divine Liturgy, the last formation process that gave us the Divine Liturgy as it existed at the fall of Constantinople, when the texts and rituals of the Greek rite began to ossify.

Take a peak!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ad Hominem Statements

We have had a few ad hominem remarks in the comment boxes on recent posts, which seems to me an excellent opportunity to lay down the law on these personal statements. If you, dear readers, are going to say something about myself or another reader that is derisive or insulting, please be sure it is accurate and consistent.

Mr. Rubricarius was positively scandalized to find that I was described as having a "boutique liturgical fetish" by someone who apparently accused him of having a mere "liturgical fetish." I received the higher accolade!—yet this is entirely wrong. I am an amateur compared to Mr. Rubricarius in both liturgical knowledge and liturgical fastidiousness. He, if anyone, has the boutique fetish while I only have an interest in liturgy.

In conclusion, feel free to address one another, but take care to do so correctly.

UPDATE: Mr. Rubricarius has put up some information on the historical inextricability of Mattins and Lauds here. The exceptional bifurcation of Mattins and Lauds on Christmas, with the Mass between the hours, is stronger in the Roman rite than in some of the French rites and the Bragan rite, wherein Mass follows Mattins immediately and Lauds is interpolated into Communion much like Vespers in the Roman Holy Saturday Mass.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dallas Churches, Orthodox Edition

I have decided to branch beyond the Catholic offerings in our special on Dallas area churches. Today we are featuring Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in northern Dallas, which is diagonally across the street from Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church. I intended to feature the stereotypically megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church at some point, but time might make that impossible.

Holy Trinity is by far the most impressive structure I have encountered in the area. The mosaics outside are in the style of Byzantine iconography, yet the Spanish Roman Catholic style of the exterior give us hints as to what first millennium Roman artwork may have looked like.

The iconostasis is stone and white, which creates something
of a washed effect that I do not particularly like. However
the apse is colorful, imposing, and quite impressive.

The tetrapod is being used for an impending wedding, hence
the "common cup" of wine which the new weds drink
after their nuptial to symbolize their union.

The place is not without its quirks. The cantors do a fine job,
I am told by a former parishioner, but the polyphonic choir
requires a pianist to stay on key.

Christ, ruler of the world, looks down upon His people
holding the book in which all is written and surrounded
by the heavenly hosts singing the Thrice Holy Hymn.

The south transept depicts the Resurrection.

The north transept depicts the Crucifixion.

And the choir loft.

The nave is quite luminous and the white walls and sun
bring out the color in the icons very well.

Constantine and Helen. Personally, I have always found the
canonization of Emperor Constantine more than a little troubling.

The Holy Place of the chapel where Vespers and weekday liturgies are held.
We stayed for Great Vespers, which included the funeral service
for a deceased parishioner. Usually the service is 90% English
with a few lines of Greek. Saturday was more 50-50. The tones
were very similar, in English and Greek, to the Melkite tones I know.

Another strange quirk is this icon in the chapel.
Byzantine iconography does not depict God the Father, 
and I am not sure Roman art did prior to the Renaissance.
The iconographer wrote the icons in the chapel
un-monitored and gave us this picture of Zeus.

It was Vespers for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils.
The stichera, hymns sung between the psalm verses, can be quite explicit and didactic at times,
far from the poetic style of the Roman Office. I especially like "Nestor[ius] the ugly."
Also, note that Pope Honorius is listed among the notorious
heretics of the first millennium.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Renewing the Church

We recently painted the Holy Place, the nave, and the adjoining hallways at the local Byzantine parish. Personally, I think the soft blue goes quite well with the Ukrainian church and is a welcomed changed from the dirty old white walls.

And the last of the Latinizations, the stations of the Cross, have
been removed and replaced with real icons. Should any of you
wish to give us even more icons, we are always open to
your beneficence!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: Undermining of the Catholic Church UPDATED

"There are only two books worth reading on the Traddie situation," a correspondent, who knows who he is, wrote me to over a year ago. "Dr. Hull's book and Undermining of the Catholic Church by Mary Ball Martinez."

Traditionalists and all stripes of Catholics have access to volumes upon volumes of material to read, published or online. The best sources are of course Scripture, the liturgical texts of the Church, and the Fathers. These sources tell us not just what to believe, but more importantly how to believe. And there are other useful books, works, and lecture series for understanding theology, liturgy, history, and philosophy. Many of these works have been reviewed on this blog, particularly ones pertaining to liturgy (Dr. Hull's book, Kavanagh's lectures, and Laurence Hemming's works among them). And yet after extensive reading and private research I must agree that, as far as the "Traddie situation" is concerned—the 20th century revolution in the liturgy and the political agenda of the Roman Church—The Banished Heart by Geoffrey Hull and Undermining of the Catholic Church by Mary Ball-Martinez are still the best books to read. Other books touch related material, but only these works address the matters at hand directly.

I have alluded to Martinez's first book, From Rome Urgently, which was a compilation of articles she wrote in the 1970s. Undermining is something of a sequel to From Rome, with greater and clearer rumination on the status of the traditionalist movement and limpid hindsight into the beginnings of the revolution in the late 19th century. 

Undermining, which can be read and downloaded free of cost here, has largely been ignored by all quarters of the Church because its thesis and narrative do not fit anyone's agenda. The liberal crowd may have agreed with its facts and found the result of the revolution positively delightful. The neo-Ultramontanists who we now identify colloquially as the "JP2 generation" would find the criticism of the renewal outright scandalous. And sedevacantists, FSSPX traditionalists, and "indult" traditionalists could not stomach that she exposed Pius XII and the early 20th century Vatican for what they really were. Consequently, her book enjoys a dedicated, narrow following like 1980s "B films."

The Thesis

Martinez's begins on the vigil of Pentecost in Rome in 1971. The Second Vatican Council closed six years earlier. Pope Paul was midway to the end of his tragic reign. Archbishop Lefebvre was not yet ready to declare himself publicly. And Catholics were gathered and praying the rosary by the thousands under the windows of the Apostolic Palace for the return of the old Mass. How did the Church arrive at this odd point? With Mystici Corporis, Martinez says. MC was the first and most vital step in dismantling the legalistic understanding of the Church that dominated the Counter-Reformation and replacing it with a model based on human beings, an opinion shared by Avery Dulles, the Jesuit Cardinal and theologian.  It was the first domino to fall, culminating in the long anticipated Council that would complete a revolution started in 1903.

In 1903, Martinez asserts, Cardinal Rampolla was elected or nearly elected Pope, only to be vetoed by the Polish cardinal under the auspices of an obscure and long forgotten treaty. The cardinals then flocked to the patriarch of Venice, whose first decision as Pope was to rescind all veto privileges. Rampolla, now saddled with the less glamorous position of Secretary of the Holy Office, spent his time training three proteges who would make his humanistic vision for the Church a reality: Giacomo della Chiesa, Pietro Gasparri, and Eugenio Pacelli. Della Chiesa had no sooner been made a cardinal than he was elected Pope Benedict XV and began to undo his predecessor's measures against modernizations, including the dissolution of Pius X's secret informant network. The First World War threw a wrench into the clique's immediate plans. When Benedict XV died prematurely the powers that were found themselves in a debacle. Pacelli was still too young and Gasparri was un-electable. As a solution they elected an aloof academic in Pius XI, hitherto the Vatican Archivist. It was during this papacy that things began to turn.

The Secretariat of State office, run by Gasparri and assisted by Pacelli, promoted policy antipodal to the teachings and desires of the Pope of the time, opposing and undermining Action Francaise and the Catholics in the Spanish Civil War in favor of French secularists at the same time the Pope was talking about the "social reign of Christ the King," a long favorite subject of traditionalists. The most reprehensible betrayal was that of the Christeros, wherein a civilian army fighting against a humanistic and even Masonic (?) president in Calles with no support from the upper clergy achieved absolute victory and were then convinced by Rome to make an un-conditional surrender and subject themselves to slaughter.

During this same period the paradigm shifted within academia and the religious orders, often with tension between the younger and older generations of priests. The Holy See, far from reigning in excesses and deviations from the accepted teachings and outlook, often aided and abetted these digressions. In the case of Teilhard de Chardin the Society of Jesus prohibited him from publishing and obstructed him from going on the speaking circuit. The Secretariat of State however, at the behest of Pius XII, arranged for him to give lectures in occupied France during the rule of the Vichy government. 

During the War Pius XII aided Jewish efforts to escape from the Holocaust and Hitler's death camps, but almost entirely ignored the political difficulties of the Church during this era. His foreign policy consistently stood against authoritarian governments that were either indifferent to Catholicism or in favor of it, but he sided with the humanists and Marxists. He permitted the Vatican to be used an an intermediary point in the War for discussions between the Allies. And he spent copious time during the War smuggling Jews from Italy into British Palestine on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. After the War the early seeds of liberation theology and the Charismatic movement began to sprout above ground with the support of Countess Pacelli, the Pope's sister.

The time after the War was spent consolidating power and loosening discipline. The Biblicum was created in Rome to give a presence in Vatican academia to the progressive movement. The rules around the celebration of Mass and reception of Communion were relaxed to a point envied today, but risible to previous generations. And the promulgation of the dogma of the Assumption and the creation of a commission to reform the liturgy centralized spiritual authority around the Pope. Martinez at one point boldly asserts that the canonization of Pius X was part of a barter with the baroque-minded Vatican establishment to begin introducing the new liturgy, particularly the new rites of Holy Week.

Aware of his age, the Pope sent his protege to Milan, but died before making his successor a cardinal. The affable Angelo Roncalli took the papacy for a few years before Montini could become Pope in 1963. From that point on the narrative becomes familiar. We all know about the Council, the branching and flowers of the roots planted half a century earlier.

The middle section of Undermining is a series of vignettes, short biographies of the Popes from John XXIII until the then-incumbent John Paul II. Paul VI's segment is especially poignant. He was an early revolutionary, encouraging students in the Red Brigade to oppose Mussolini, who, although a bad man, was tolerant to the Church in ways unseen since before the 1840s. Later in life he may have lamented that the Red Brigade had killed his dear friend Aldo Moro, the product of the center-left political party his father had party and Pius XII advanced decades prior. He died a broken, unhappy man. Also interesting, if only for historical reasons, is her honest biography of John Paul II. She summarizes his education and seminary formation in Poland after the Russian invasion and his time at the Belgian college in Rome dispassionately and with concision. This was revolutionary in 1991 because most people were pretending he was an impoverished miner who studied at an underground seminary amid Soviet persecution. 

The last segment of the book contrasts sharply in certain aspects with From Rome Urgently. Previously she was brimming with excitement about Lefebvre, the militancy of the traditionalists, and the devotion of the faithful. She maintains these qualities in Undermining, but with considerable reservation. She wonders if Lefebvre missed his chance to make a difference in 1976 by obeying the Pope's command to bite his French tongue. The grassroots traditionalist movement collapsed and all that was left was the FSSPX and a few independents—something that will be explored in our upcoming series on the early traditionalists.


Undermining is not a book without short-comings, the three greatest of which are: the lack of citations, the proclivity for conspiracy-theory language, and a lack of historical perspective.

The lack of citations is the most arrant deficiency in this work. Martinez was a journalist, writing for decades as the Vatican correspondent for National Review, the Wanderer, and other periodicals. She was not a professional historian and did not document her work very well. Much of what she learned could be documented with extensive and painful research though. I came to trust Undermining from personal experience. My first major university research project was on the role of the Holy See during the Second World War. What Martinez surmises about the Pope's efforts against the Nazis and Holocaust I corroborated independently years before encountering her book using primary information sources (journals, news articles, and records) as well as some scholarly polemics. That she recorded this information favorable to Pius XII during a time before a cottage industry for defending his War record emerged (Rabbi Dalin, Sr. Marchione etc) and given her un-favorable view of the man impressed me.

The second issue is also significant. She speaks of "the Masons" and like groups as though they are an organized secret government with a dedicated head—as though the cretins who mangled the Church in the 20th century and who are mangling Western governments and economic policy now are capable of such things. She does at points clarify what she means, but often lapses into conspiracy theories again. At one point she wrote that Pius XII, Paul VI, and Benedict XV should not be considered conspirators in the common understanding of the word. These men did not hold round tables discussions on how to undermine the Church deep within the walls of a lodge. These men acted in accordance with their rearing and education, which involved a different outlook on the Church than the one received. She does claim John XXIII and Pius IX (you read that right) were Masons, but does not expound upon the supposed significance of this too deeply.

The last pitfall is her lack of perspective. Mystici Corporis was a departure from the legalistic, cold understanding and corporate structure of the Catholic Church that emerged during the Counter-Reformation. Where she errs is in stating that the teaching was entirely novel. Indeed, it is well rooted in the letters of St. Paul, the sermons and treatises of the Cappadocian Fathers, and in the ecclesiology of Lateran IV. The footnotes and citations in MC easily verify this. Where she was right was in suggesting that the point of MC was to confuse theologians by introducing an understanding of the Church based on human beings and mysticism. Indeed, the idea of the Church as the Body of Christ bound up in the Sacraments is the teaching of the Church Fathers East and West as well as that of the Greek and Latin liturgies. The idea of the mystical Body of Christ was quite novel, and the focal point of this mystical body would be the Roman Pontiff. Martinez, with more familiarity with the deeper traditions of the Church, might have realized that MC was about spiritual centralization and taming precocious revolutionaries, not about introducing unheard of doctrines.

Final Words

Undermining of the Catholic Church by Mary Ball-Martinez is an essential work to study and parse for those who seek to understand the political changes in the Vatican that wrought decades of internal revolution in the Church of Rome. For all its problems, Undermining is the only book that connects the dots which have been hiding in the plain sight of traditionalists for years.

As an aside, if anyone wants to know how to access her first book, From Rome Urgently, email me.

UPDATE: My email address is

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summorum Pontificum & the Rite of Econe

Today much of the Tradosphere celebrates the issuance of then-Pope Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum, which largely deregulated use of the 1962 Roman rite. What is really used is not 1962, I do not think anyone uses 1962 by the book, but what I call the "Rite of Econe," the result of tinkering during the formative years of the FSSPX.

Early on, outside of France, most everyone in the traditionalist movement used pre-Pius XII. Even in France St. Nicolas du Chardonnet used pre-Pacelli until 1984 when the priest in charge of that church died. For some reason 1962 caught on in France. Why? Perhaps during the 1960s priests became gradually more agitated and stopped accepting changes at a certain point. Rather than turning back the clock they refused to go forward. This was the case of Fr. Quintin Montgomery-Wright, who then Sarum-ized the Roman liturgy and recovered the Norman liturgical heritage of northern France. It may also have appealed because of its very sparse and simple Divine Office.*

A man who was a postulant with the FSSPX in Econe "back in the day" once told me that they did 1965—essentially 1962 with the popular parts in vernacular and options for lay people to do readings—with some modifications, among them the Ordinary of Mass in Latin and the Confiteor prior to Communion. At some point they switched to 1962 outright at Econe, meaning all Latin, no lay readers, and recovering the hour of prime. They continued to make alterations—such as the epistle in French, bows to the Cross, and no genuflection for the Jews on Good Friday—until arriving at their current praxis. Do any readers, particularly older ones, know additional details about this development? After all the rite of Econe is the Extraordinary Form.

* = for example yesterday would have been Sunday and the Octave day of Ss. Peter & Paul, warranting nine readings at Mattins (including three from the superseded octave day being read as one long ninth lesson), commemorations at Lauds, Mass, and Vespers. This Wednesday would see Vespers of St. Elizabeth of Portugal followed by Vespers of the Dead, as the Officium Defunctorum is prayed on the first free day of the month in addition to the Office of the season/sanctoral cycle. Lent and Advent are especially involved in the old Office, with the Officium Defunctorum and Requiem Masses in additional to the Lent and Advent liturgy on Mondays. In 1962 Sundays usually have three lessons as opposed to the traditional nine. The difference could be up to 30 minutes of time in private recitation during violet seasons.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

It Just Won't Go Away

Feeneyism. It is a minority opinion. It always has been and, unless it finally dies out, it always will be. 

Feeneyism, for the uninitiated, is a reading of Extra ecclesiam nulla salus that denies the Roman concepts of Baptism through blood and through desire, and in turn renders a highly legal reading that restricts salvation to those who have undergone the Baptism rite and are in a visible, conscientious union with the Pope of Rome. Fr. Leonard Feeney was a literature professor at Boston College and a priest of the Society of Jesus in the 20th century. When he was not going on about "the Jews" and Msgr. Ronald Knox, he was pushing his reading of "the dogma" in such a fashion that it then-Archbishop, later Cardinal, Cushing, who was at the time ingratiating himself with the ambitious Kennedy family. Cushing arranged for Feeney's excommunication, which was upheld by Pius XII or by someone in his name. Feeney may have been reconciled at his death.

Historically speaking Feeney's opinion is utter rubbish. Of the three Papal documents supporters of Feeney quote, none of them are directly applicable. The first instance of the "thrice defined dogma" (suggesting that the first two were insufficient?), from the Fourth Lateran Council, states "There is one Universal Church of the faithful, outside of which there is absolutely no salvation." What they neglect to quote is the preceding text based on the Creed, which teaches that the Church and Christ's priesthood descend from the Godhead. It is a spiritual definition, not a legal canon. The second "definition" is Boniface VIII's Unam Sanctam, one of the most misunderstood bulls in history. The oft-quoted line about the necessity of union with the Roman Pontiff is less a definition than it is a thinly disguised threat of damnation to Frenchmen who paid their taxes to the despicable King Philip IV instead of to the despicable Pope who threw his saintly predecessor into prison. The last one, Cantate Domino, is by far the strongest as a teaching, although it does not necessarily lend itself to the Feeneyite interpretation. I do not know enough about how the document was interpreted at the time, so I will hold my electronic tongue, but I suspect the records of the Council of Florence might illuminate us a bit.

"The dogma," as they call it, is the result of objectifying theology, of making it an object of play, of personal manipulation, an idol to which the facts must conform rather than the other way around. I will grant to the Feeneyites that the concept of Baptism by desire is vapid. At what point is one baptized by desire? How conscious must one be of this desire? The Church cannot judge on this matter because it could only be private and subjective. What is outright mad is the denial of Baptism by martyrdom. I recall once singing Vespers on the feast of the Greek martyr St. Epimakios. Living in New Hampshire, both the priest and I were aware of the Feeneyite community an hour's drive away. One of the stichera on the psalms I sang was "Then you were baptized in your own blood, o Epimakios...." Afterward I mentioned it to the priest, who burst into laughter saying, "Oh yeah, that guy definitely went to hell." There are other examples of the Church upholding as saints those who did not undergo Baptism by water, among them the fortieth of the martyrs of Sebaste, Emerentiana, Alban, and the younger brother of Felicity. 1239 of the old, defunct Code of Canon Law stated those who died in the catechumenate are to be counted among the baptized and given a full Catholic funeral service. When these facts do not conform to "the dogma" such nonsense as angels descending to baptize those about to be martyred creeps into speculation and the journey from reality to myth is complete. Faith as this point is not so much revealed as it is reasoned.

And why is this done? To ensure that as few people enjoy the Beatific Vision as possible? If the Feeneyites were allowed to adjust the Byzantine rite, the Divine Liturgy might begin:
Limited and generally inaccessible is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen

In tremor, let us pray to the Lord. Lord have no mercy!
For fear from on high and the damnation of most souls, let us pray to the Lord. Lord have no mercy!
Oddly, Feeneyism has a broad appeal. The local FSSP church has a Feeneyite or two, although to be fair the congregation and clergy as a totality do not hold the position. One can find a diocesan priest or two in London who hold it. The FSSPX will not touch it with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole.  Some independents hold it. Sedevacantists generally do not, clinging to true pope Pacelli's condemnation of Feeneyite. Some more extreme elements like the Dimond brothers do hold it. A friend of mine was baptized by arch-Feeneyite Fr. James Wathen of Who Shall Ascend fame. Much like Coca-Cola, Feeneyism can be had on any occasion. 

I only bring up this topic because some chap has been polluting Dr. Shaw's LMS Chairman blog with Feeneyism for the past few weeks. The United States is probably the only place where Feeneyism could get an ear, if for no other reason than that Fr. Feeney was a central figure for a while in American Catholicism during its transition from something Old World into something modern and politically palatable in a multi-cultural democracy. The topic is too obscure for much more consideration, but it gives foreign readers something to consider.

For more on Fr. Feeney and his one time meeting Evelyn Waugh, click here.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Understanding American Foreign Policy

A Church in Houston

I was last in Houston for Pascha, visiting my mother and attending the Hajme, Mattins, Lauds, and Divine Liturgy with the nascent Melkite community there. I was back in Houston to see my mother and father for Independence Day and to re-connect in general. On a whim I decided to go to Confession at nearby Christ the Redeemer Church.

Christ the Redeemer reflects much of what I have seen in Dallas: large communities with considerable wealth; bland modern styling; separate chapels for daily Masses and Confession; communitarian arrangements; offices for full-time paid lay staff; and a mixed congregation of second generation Mexicans and third generation Republicans.

As with St. Francis of Assisi in Frisco, Christ the Redeemer has architectural potential that goes unfulfilled, although I think it has less potential than the Romanesque St. Francis. It is an odd blend of Spanish missionary style with a Greek dome. Sharp edges run along un-ornamented walls, which frame some colored glass at the center of this strange structure.

The church was locked, so Confession was held in a room just off a hallways running along the back of the daily Mass chapel. There was a sign on the wall immediately to the right after entering which read something like "We are Catholic Christians who believe that we become one family in Jesus together and we have a great commitment to Social Justice."

The daily Mass chapel was plain, but inoffensive. The statues beside the altar may date to a previous church. At the back of the chapel was a book where one could sign up for a part in a daily Mass. I noticed that a deacon had sign up for the "Bread" for the next several weeks. I photographed a blank page to safeguard the identities of any parishioners.

During Confession I was told to use the Sacrament less often (I wonder if the daily communicants are told the same thing?) and to "let the grace work within you." 

On the whole this parish just felt a bit odd, the sort of place where the finances and demographics uphold the official party line and renewal spirit that is dis-functioning everywhere else in the Roman Church. How long until time catches up to Texas?—or will the influx of immigration from the Spanish speaking Americas and from the rest of the USA give Texas a reprieve?

All most surreal....