Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to All!

I still have some ideas for this blog that don't involve Catholic Lane or Catholic Exchange, I promise! It's just I can't get to them at the time. :) I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I penned the following Reflection on the Christmas Season over at Catholic Lane. I really think it is valuable for those who only attend Church occasionally. Consider giving it to them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lenten Project at Catholic Lane

The following is loosely based on what I sent to the writers of the Learn and Live the Faith section on Catholic Lane.  Does this interest you?  Let me know in the comboxes, +Kevin Tierney on Google+ or @CatholicSmark on Twitter.

Does your local parish offer you Lenten reflection manuals?  Roll your eyes when you see one?  Some of them are heterodox.  Some of them are just plain bland.  While some of them are good, a lot of them lack a real understanding how the Scriptures help us live out our Lenten journey. 

I'd like to change this at Catholic Lane.  I'd like to do liturgical reflections for the readings for every day in Lent 2014.  Thanks to the abundance of commentary on the Sunday readings, that's 34 days that need to be filled, and I'd like the writers to help do it.  Since I highly doubt I'm going to get 34 writers, we would do this on a rotating basis.

While our normal word limit is around 1,000 words, I want that to be half this time.  Have the reflections be 400-500 words; short and sweet.  They should be focused explicitly on the readings for the day, and how these readings help us through the season of Lent.  As a result, they should be focused on promoting things like penance, fasting, confession, the freedom these disciplines provide, etc.

I'd like to get this set up and the structure worked out well before Lent starts, so let me know over the next few weeks if you are interested.  (Lent starts March 5, 2014.)

God bless,
Kevin Tierney
Associate Editor, Learn and Live the Faith
Catholic Lane

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Come Join The Bad Apologist and Evangelist Club!

When I agreed to become Editor of the Learn and Live the Faith Portal at Catholic Lane, I knew it was going to involve work.  What I didn't realize is how much fun it would be.  I've got a great boss who has stood by my decisions and allowed me a lot of freedom to run that section of the website, and I think it's paid off.  I've been blessed to have some great talent to work with, and traffic has responded accordingly.  Every now and then I write something that generates buzz as well.  We are having a lot of fun doing things differently at Catholic Lane, and it is paying off.

I look forward to continuing that tradition in 2014.  With that in mind, Catholic Lane is going to be doing a new series in 2014, something I like to call The Bad Apologist and Evangelist Club.  (That's a working title of course, if anyone has a better idea let me know!)  One of the things our Holy Father Pope Francis has put a premium on is evangelizing.  He wants Catholics to get out there in the world and start aggressively spreading the Gospel.  This is a good thing, and I hope a lot of Catholics (readers included!) respond to the Holy Father's call.  One thing we should keep in mind though:  a lot of people are going to make a lot of rookie mistakes in evangelizing, and these can be costly.

Nobody knows this better than those of us who have been doing apologetics and evangelization for awhile.  I'm on year 14 as a Catholic, and most of them have been spent being bold with my various apostolates.  In those fourteen years I've helped reach a lot of people with the Catholic Faith.  I've also alienated quite a few as well.  My professionalism and charity have earned me a lot of brownie points with those I'm trying to reach, just so I could have the opportunity to blow it all away with arrogance, condescension and bad arguments.  My story is far from unique, everyone knows this story if you have ever tried to share the love of Christ with someone.  Looking back, I realize how so many of those mistakes could have been easily avoided.

That is the purpose of The Bad Apologist and Evangelist Club.  I'll be putting together several writers (myself included) to give you the rookie mistakes we have seen and (most likely!) made ourselves when it comes to apologetics and evangelization.  We are going to talk about what makes those rookie mistakes so appealing, why they are ultimately wrong, and a better way to handle the situation.  Most importantly, I want this series to serve as an examination of conscience for all those doing the vital work of apologetics and evangelization.  We need to look over every word we have shared to see if it really is effective, or if it is something we really need to stop doing.  There could be a very real chance that our proposed solutions lead to more mistakes.  At that point, hopefully a constructive dialogue occurs and everyone looks to make everyone else better.

We have five ideas so far, and plenty more will be coming.  This will be a monthly series at Catholic Lane starting in January.  If you are interested in working on this topic, feel free to get in touch with me here at the comboxes, email, or @CatholicSmark on Twitter.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Theology of the Interior: Latest at Catholic Exchange

Why is the interior life such an important thing for Catholics? Why is slander considered a "work of the flesh" in the same category with things like lust? I explore this in my latest at Catholic Exchange.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

There is no "Francis Effect": Why That's Not a Bad Thing

When I’m not writing on traditionalism or John Paul II’s Catechesis on Human Love (and how they are related!), I am a baseball fanatic and a political junkie.  One thing that unites the two:  I favor the far more “data-driven” approach.  I’m not a statistician, but I love the way conventional norms have been challenged in the field taking a different approach in mind.   One of the recent political books starts off with listing 62 “game changers” according to the media that would impact polling in the election.  As it turned out, none of them changed the trajectory of polling at all.    

The first rule of this discipline is that most “experts” are a bunch of overpaid hacks that are there to tell you a story, not tell you the truth.   I think we Catholics could take to heart our more secular brethren when it comes to looking at how Catholics report news about the Church.  We should keep this in mind when examining “The Francis Effect.”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Latest Column at Catholic Lane

Taking a break from reading Francis' Apostolic Exhortation.  Seriously, who thought 288 paragraphs was a sound idea?

Read my latest at Catholic Lane Today, on how the liturgy tells the story of salvation.  It's under 1,000 words, far easier.

Evangelii Gaudium

Is out.

Read the whole thing before you read the commentaries.  A lot of people are going to be very angry when reading this.  If they are smart, they will breathe before posting.

Since they won't be, make sure you read the words before the nerdrage deluge that is about to be upon us.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Look Away or Not Lust?

This is the subject I discus at Catholic Exchange today.  Basically, I argue that the way this question is presented by most TOB presenters is a false choice.  One of the ways you avoid lust is by looking away.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Various Francis News

Over the past few days, we've had several things come out about the Pope which have caused discussion.

- First there was the statement from Cardinal Hoyos that Francis has no problem with the Latin Mass, and really doesn't have that strong of an opinion one way or another on it. He has no intention of supressing it. This should be obvious, but a lot of people really believed he would. This was covered a few days ago here. 

- We also found out that Pope Francis personally reached out to Archbishop Marchetto. Now that means nothing to anyone but theological wonks, but it is important. His Excellency has written what may be called the most authoritative work about how to interpret Vatican II. Probably a better way to say it is that the archbishop is the "best interpreter of the Second Vatican Council" because that is precisely what Pope Francis called him

 The Archbishop's main argument is that you need to read the Council within a hermeneutic of continuity, or you need to read it in harmony with all previous tradition, and not treat it as a break. This really shouldn't be a surprise. Yet a lot of Catholics for their own ideological reasons believe deep down Pope Francis held otherwise, even though, if one played the percentages, this wasn't likely.
-He was Bishop of rome
 -The Cardinals in the Conclave were all chosen by either John Paul II or Benedict, who spent their entire pontificates stressing the need for a hermeneutic of continiuty. Think they would give people the red hat who clearly held otherwise? 
 -The Pope clearly backed the idea in previous speeches.
Sadly, a lot of people of various different persuasions really didn't care about the evidence. They were convinced, for good or ill, Francis believed Vatican II broke with previous Church teaching, and was going to base his pontificate off of this fact. Will this stop most of the people believing this? Probably not. Yet for those who want to look at the matter objectively, it should. RELAX. 

- The "controversial" interview the Holy Father gave with Eugenio Scalafari has been removed from the Vatican's website. A lot of people are rejoicing. Others are trying to use this as a cudgel to beat others with. A few have even snickered "well your defense of Francis' words looks mighty stupid now!" Not really. 

What I'm going to explain is a difficult theological concept, but we need to understand it: just because somebody says something in a way you don't like doesn't make them a heretic or wrong. Wait, that's not difficult? If the blogosphere followed that concept, content would decline by about 95%. If there's a chance that something the Holy Father said can be read in an Orthodox fashion, do so. If you can read it in a way harmonius with Catholic truth without doing grave violence to either the text or Catholic truth, do so. You should really be doing this with everyone, but that goes double for the Bishop of Rome. 

What we have are (likely) some things said about conscience that, while one can read them in a way harmonius with Catholic truth, they caused a lot of confusion. As a result they took down the words. They will almost certainly have to issue further clarification, and it will probably be..... in a way that is consistent with the greater Catholic tradition. 

There's nothing wrong with wishing he would give greater clarity with his words, or pointing out that, due to ambiguity, people will misunderstand things. It is something different entirely to scream the man is a modernist, a heretic, and proof once again he is trying to destroy the Church, and oh how everything is just oh so horrible. WOE IS ME! - 

So we've learned a lot about Pope Francis over the past week..... or have we? We've found out that he wasn't going to supress the Latin Mass, and he doesn't believe Vatican II created a new church, and that sometimes, what you want to say doesn't always end up playing out best in print, and as a result you make adjustments. This kind of stuff really was common knowledge beforehand. The only people who disagreed with this were those who felt it was advantageous to disagree for whatever reason. 

In the end, things are like they always are. Most people don't read blogs, and as a result were oblivious to all of this stuff. That is still the wise course of action.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Why Communion Kneeling and on the Tongue

That's the question I answer at Catholic Lane today.  I do so by considering the symbolism on its own merits, not by the usual comparison between that and communion in the hand.  Whatever one thinks about it, Holy Mother Church has allowed both in the Ordinary Form.  If we want to sway people, we have to make the positive case for it.  Thankfully, there's a powerful case to be made from the Scriptures.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pope Won't Stop Latin Mass.... In Other News, The Sky is Blue

Cardinal assures traditionalists of Pope’s support for Extraordinary Form
Via CatholicCulture

I really don't know why this is a news story.  The logistics of such a move never made sense.  Traditionalists (for better or worse) are a minority.  One would have to believe that Pope Francis, upon his rising to the Chair of Peter, and having laid out an ambitious plan for reform knowing time is of the essence...... would waste the first year of his pontificate in a war that nobody really stood to benefit from.  I know Machiavelli was placed on the Index, but his lesson holds true:  what are the incentives for and against an act by a ruler?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cardinal Maradiaga's Vision of the Church: Both Attractive and Disappointing

On October 25, Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga gave a rather remarkable speech. Kevin O'Brien offers some interesting thoughts (and an interaction with Fr. Longenecker) here.  There's a lot to digest in this speech.  It's over 5,000 words, and it covers a lot of complex subjects.  I'd like to cover some of them here in what may be a bit lengthy, but worth it.  I'd like to start where I think a lot of criticisms of the speech are wrong:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Editor at Catholic Lane, and My "Vision" Going Forward

This past week I have formally accepted a promotion of sorts at Catholic Lane.  I now am an Associate Editor at the site, in charge of the "Learn and Live the Faith" section.  As a result, this gives me a lot of time to think about how that section should look going forward.  Here's a letter I sent out to some of the newer writers explaining what i think Learn and Live the Faith should look like.  I also think it gives an idea of how I view the state of Catholic commentary online.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in this kind of writing, please contact me via email or via Catholic Lane.  Here is the text of the letter below the jump.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

John Paul II and "Victory over Concupiscence": Latest Catholic Exchange Column

Today we discuss what such a victory would actually entail.  This was one of the more controversial issues a few years back, and I'd like to give it a fresh look.

A little word about my columns at Catholic Exchange.  I'm really not interested in what this or that theologian says, and whether or not they are representing the text faithfully.  That battle was waged three years ago.  What we need to be discussing instead is "What does the Pope Actually Say" in his audiences?    I don't want to go to what someone says about John Paul's Wednesday audiences, I want to go to the actual texts themselves.  Once we've established what the texts say, then we go through tradition and see if anyone said anything similar.  (Hint:  they really do.)

When I say you don't hear a lot of this stuff nowadays, this is what I mean.  Sure, you might see an off article here or there doing this kind of thing amongst the TOB movement, but a lot of text is recycled from previous authors, and this has led to some confusion about what is actually being taught.  If one examines the Wednesday audiences themselves, it becomes pretty clear.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Guest Editorial on "Cursing the Darkness'

Note from KMT:  What follows is another guest editorial from Shawn McElhinney who wished to offer some thoughts on a recent essay.  The opinions expressed are his alone.


While far from the first to respond to an article recently penned by Steve Skojec on the direction the Church has taken since the election of Jorge Bergoglio to the See of Peter, I want to nonetheless address some of the points he raised at this time.
To start with, it reads to me as one giant gripe-fest about how the Church today is not configured in a way that Mr. Skojec would claim to prefer. There also seems to be a lot of misplaced nostalgia on his part for a past that oftentimes did not exist. For example, Mr. Skojec claims that Catholicism was "historically a majestic thing" and repines for the ages of magnificent cathedrals but in doing so fails to realize that there were men who built those things whose kids and grand kids, etc. never beheld the magnificence of the completed structure that he is able to view today. He also complains about a lack of "rubrics of liturgy, sacred art and music, church architecture, adoration, Eucharistic processions – in short, a tapestry of creative genius" while ignoring the fact that a lot of these matters were not uniform throughout church history and others were absent for significant parts of church history as well.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Catholics and Private Revelation: New Catholic Lane Column

This was originally supposed to go out on Monday, but due to me setting the publish time wrong, it came out last night around 10 last night.  I got no idea how I managed that one.

The topic we cover is private revelation.  I"m not really focused on what is and isn't authentic private revelation (yes, a curious choice of words), but rather what this generations obsession with private revelation says about us, our church, and the world at large today.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Is Catholicism Really Go Big or Go Home?

Haven't really said much.  Been very busy working at Catholic Lane and Catholic Exchange, look to see some exciting news next week.

A few weeks ago I remarked that a lot of my traditionalist brethren look at Catholicism as a "go big or go home" type of religion.  By this they mean that if you aren't going to become fully immersed into everything the Catholic Church has to offer (the sacraments, her liturgy, her doctrine, her culture) then there really isn't much of a point to becoming Catholic.  This sounds right.  What's the point of doing something if you don't do it 100%?  That's the Alpha Catholic in me talking.

If there's one thing I've learned over the years (especially the past three as my life as a bachelor ended) it is that the whole concept of the Alpha-Catholic is a bunch of nonsense.  In fact, the way many look at the faith in the alpha fashion is one of the reasons why the crisis continues to deepen.

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Column at Catholic Exchange on TOB & the Sacraments

Now that we've laid the groundwork in a lot of recent columns, the time has come to start diving into the "big" stuff when it comes to TOB.  I've long held the premise (and over the last four months defended the premise at CE) that the majority of presentations on John Paul II's Catechesis on Human Love (or Theology of the Body) are badly flawed.

My main beef is they present a theology with little or no understanding of the reality of concupiscence.  As a result, they don't really see the need for the sacraments to enter into the discussion.  That's the subject of today's column.

In talking about this issue, Kevin O'Brien talks about a certain "madness" that can very easily overcome faithful Catholics who will go to extreme legnths to rationalize their behavior, just like anyone else.  Why do they do so?  Sin is a vicious mistress, and concupiscence is the affection we have for that mistress that we can never hope to beat on our own.  The only way to beat it is to forcefully repent and approach the sacraments and slowly but surely drive out those affections, and replace them with something good instead.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How Catholics Read the Bible Wrong

That's the subject of my latest at Catholic Lane today. If we ever hope to have a real reform of the Church, it starts with reform of ourselves, and that begins with greater devotion to the Bible.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Christ Unites Himself With Each Man - What Does That Mean?

I know what some of my readers are thinking.  "Kevin, aren't you done with the Francis interview stuff?  Have you suddenly morphed into a "neo-catholic papal apologist?"  I don't have much sympathy for a lot of the "papal defenders."  A lot of their statements really fall short, and they are just as guilty of trying to read Francis through their own ideological prisms as they accuse others of doing.  I try to do my best to let the man speak for himself, and then look back within our rich tradition, and see if there's anything to what he says.

Louie Verrecchio is feeling down in the dumps about how he isn't getting the writing opportunities he used to.  I'll give him a link, but only as an example of how not to do things.  He writes:

So, now that we can stop wondering whether or not this is the case, will the CPAs kindly offer a plausible explanation as to how one is to understand in a truly Catholic sense the novel notion of the Incarnation being intended to “infuse the feeling of brotherhood in men’s souls,” or any number of other items on the growing list of Papa’s humanist proclamations? (Operative word, plausible.)
Given the presence of the weasel word plausible, I'm well aware that no explanation anyone gives will ever match his predisposition to view the Pope preaching a false Gospel.  Yet for those who actually want an answer to the question:  it is very simple to present this in a truly Catholic sense.  It's Christology 101.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Amateur Hour Traditionalism

It appears the traditionalist movement has a new rockstar in the blogosphere. Louie Verrecchio has a ministry called "Harvesting the Fruit" in which his stated aim is "seperating the fruits from the nuts by the light of tradition." He's carved himself quite a little niche as well over the years, getting endorsements from major figures such as Cardinal Pell and Archbishop Sample.

A lot of this has changed with the election of Pope Francis. Verrecchio himself admits of "a shift in the focus of my writing" which is more or less that the documents of the Second Vatican Council, especially Dignitatis Humanae, cannot be reconcilled with previous Church teaching. This is rather old hat in traditionalism, nothing new. Archbishop Lefebrve, argued essentially this position, while other traditionalists have said that while it can be reconilled with past tradition, it is far too ambigious for comfort. (That position in and of itself has varying forms, ranging from Fr. Brian Harrison, Dr. John Rao, Chris Ferrara, etc.)  Michael Davies didn't see how it could be reconciled,  but held out the possibility it could.  (See comment box for update, h/t dcs)

What differentiates Verrecchio from these more or less intellectual voices is his "toughness." He will call a spade and spade, and won't hold back. If social media makes society more coarser, Verrechio is exhibit A of that thesis. In it, Verrecchio, a Catholic with mainstream Church endorsements, calls for:

-Theorizing how God will intervene to prevent Pope Francis from canonizing John Paul II

-Pope Francis has essentially declared war on the Catholic Faith. It isn't just what he preaches is ambigious (standard traditionalist fare and more or less correct depending on the speech), but that he openly preaches a Jesus that is "not the Jesus of Catholic Doctrine."

-Since the Pope is a "generalissimo of the revolution" explicitly preaching a false Gospel, it's time to ask God for intervention, to remove him by "whatever means the merciful Lord may choose." Some have taken this to mean Mr. Verrecchio is calling for the Pope's death. People have strongly objected to the words, and he so far hasn't denied it, though he did have enough time to remove some of the sources he and his defenders were promoting once it was pointed out they were sedevacantists.

Like I said, this isn't a theological or intellectual traditionalism. This is gutter catholicism, one in which the main selling point isn't doctrinal precision or beatuy, but to see who can come up with the most outrageous outrage and clever insult. The only problem is that his main competition is those like Ann Barnhardt. Ms. Barnhardt also ponders about the state of the Church should we see "The Holy Spirit striking Francis dead tomorrow", since he is "not terribly bright" and a fascist.

This isn't Catholicism. Even calling it some silly label with Catholic in the sentence doesn't do it justice. It's porn in text form. They sit in their intellectual ivory tower echo chambers online and see who can come up with the most outlandish statement. The goal is simply to jack the outrage meter up to 11 constantly. In order to court this demographic, Mr. Verrecchio simply saying that things are ambigious won't do. He has to go far out there. Mission Accomplished?

When you get all jacked up on outrage, you are bound to be sloppy and say things that don't really make much sense. One of the unfortunate side effects of the gutter blogosphere is they fudge history. When Mr. Verrecchio wrote to Karl Keating, he stated the following:
As you know, during the Arian crisis, Pope Liberius and the majority of bishops fell into this error, with the pope even going so far as to condemn St. Athanasius for upholding the truth! (Notice which one is a saint.)
Note well what it said: During the Arian Crisis, The Roman Pontiff "fell into this error", that is, Arianism, and that he condemned St. Athanasius for his Orthodoxy. There's only one problem with this statement. It's all a lie, including and and the. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1917) has an insightful article on Liberius which gives an excellent summation of the entire controversey. We can use that to pick apart his statement:

1.) Liberius was not an Arian. He rather heroically resisted the Roman Emperor when, like all political leaders do, they tried to manipulate the faith into an arm of the State.

2.) As a result of this stand, he was exiled and an Anti-Pope was put in his place, whom the citizens of Rome reviled.

3.) For this or maybe another reason, the Emperor finally relented and recalled Liberius from exile. This is where the known facts stop, and the debate begins.

4.) The formal "condemnation" of Athanasius that Protestant scholars long advocated turned out to be a clear forgery by the Semi-Arians known as Studens Paci which has been acknowledged as a forgery in scholarly circles for the past several hundred years.

5.) There is a belief that Liberius, under clear duress and hence invalidly, signed the Semi-Arian Creed of Sirmium. If such existed, we have no access to it. Some contemporary sources of the time deny its existence, but Athanasius at least appears to have been aware of the rumors. The early church historian Sozomen (5th century, so less than 100 years after the event) calls the entire thing a lie. St. Jerome did believe it, but as with the deuterocanonicals, Church history was never his forte, and he was opposed by Rufinus (4th century historian) and later voices such as Theodoret. In the Eastern Orthodox Church he has always been St. Liberius, so combined with the favorable contemporary verdict, there is ample reason to doubt the accounting Mr. Verrecchio provides.
In truth, nobody knows with certainty what happened in regards to the 5th point. Historians have debated it for centuriers, and debated it even within the generation of its occurence. Even under the worst case scenario, we have a heroic pope who under duress was forced to adopt something he was admant in that he didn't believe it.

After this was pointed out, Mr. Verrecchio acknowledged this history (something tells me he learned a lot he never knew before) yet stated "It doesn't matter why he did it, only that he did it and was still Pope" and that this justified Mr. Verrechio's words. Except it isn't clear what Liberius actually did. And even if it was, there's no contemporary evidence that people are reacting in the way which Mr. Verrecchio are reacting, asking God to end this papacy "whatever means the merciful Lord may choose."

Mr. Verrecchio is free to say that sometimes Popes make mistakes, and people are justified in raising their concerns about them. He's also free to say there have been absolutely rotten popes in the 2,000 year history of the Church. Nobody is forced to defend Benedict IX or Alexander VI, or any of the popes leading up to the Protestant Reformation/Catholic Counter-Reformation. While doctrinally orthodox, their morals and practices caused great harm on the Church. If you want to argue this, you need to actually prove it though. It isn't good form to just state it. If there's a chance something the Bishop of Rome has said can be interpreted in an orthodox manner, this isn't rocket science: you go with the orthodox interpretation.

In regards to the Francis interviews, myself and many others have, without much difficulty, shown how the words are Orthodox. When confronted with these, Mr. Verrecchio does one of two things. First might as well be "well sure, you can prove that, but it's clear Francis doesn't believe that, it's make believe because..... MODERNIST!" When another person pointed out how Francis words could be justified within tradition, Mr. Verrecchio objected that..... Francis isn't speaking with enough clarity to as to satisfy Mr. Verrecchio, who wants to *winkwinknudgenudge* have God "end" Francis pontificate, but there's nothing bad about those words! He doesn't actually go through Francis words or Aquinas' to show how the Pope is wrong. It's just clear he didn't mean it because...... because...... FRANCIS IS A HUMANIST GENERALISSIMO! He's not even trying to have an intellectual discussion over what words mean.

So I've written a lot more than I normally care to write. People will see those endorsements from otherwise Orthodox Catholics and think what Mr. Verrecchio states is okay. People will see Mr. Verrecchio as a traditionalist, and think this is what healthy traditionalism is all about. There's nothing traditionalist about this. It is simply amateur hour where someone is not trying to meaningfully work through something, but just shout and scream and display outrageous outrage. In this challenging environment, faithful traditionalists are going to be marginalized. It would help if we didn't give the enemies of the cross inside and outside the Church any extra ammo.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Welcome Mark Shea Readers, Prepare to Hate Me

I see my traffic had quite a spike, and its due to Mark Shea being kind enough to provide a link to my work as a "Breath of Fresh Air."  I'd like to thank Mark for that.  The two of us have our differences, but we can do business.  Here's why.

Friday, October 11, 2013

No Reason to Convert?

The Catholic blogosphere has been ablaze lately by an individual named Steve Skojec, who wrote a work expressing concern for a lot of what has been happening since the election of Pope Francis.  I like Mr. Skojec.  Long time readers of my work will know that back in the day, the two of us did work together.  We were part of the same group of traditionalists, and a lot of my writing in 2004-2005 was influenced through discussions of the group he helped organize.  (I recently touched base with Hilary White again who also was in that group, and who went on to become a lot more successful and brilliant than all of us combined.)  Though it has been some time since we spoke, back then we were on good terms.  (There was no nasty parting.  We went onto different things, my different things just involved not writing/blogging for almost 6 years.)

I'm not really going to comment on much of Mr. Skojec's work.  I think Simcha Fischer should be a lot more careful when writing on traditionalist issues.  (Reference her remark before that if you hang out among trads, you will eventually find an Anti-Semite, an idea no doubt curious to 99% of traditionalists and the non-trads who consort with them!)  This was another example.  Mr. Skojec's concerns are not that of a "rigorist."  They are that of a concerned Catholic, even if he is mistaken and probably spoke in the wrong venue.  If anyone wants to see what I think of the concerns he raises, one can see my thoughts on the other Francis interviews.  The only thing I will comment on is the following:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Courage to Screw Up

We Catholic writers and bloggers are a bunch of narcissists sometimes.  Seriously.  We tend to think the world revolves around us, that what we talk about is what everyone else is talking about, and is obviously the most important thing facing the Church today.  We also treat things as cosmic events, and every time we go out evangelizing or doing apologetics someones eternal soul is on the line, and could very well be damned by our inaction.  It's a nice romantic picture, and sometimes might motivate people to take the business seriously.  There's only one problem:  chances are it is completely false.  I think this is what Pope Francis had in mind when he called it "solemn nonsense."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why There is a Crisis

Kevin O'Brien wonders just what is going on with the Church we love? He is one of the few bloggers really asking that question with sincerity. Many still deny there is much of a crisis, and if there is one, it can be fixed by tinkering at the edges.

Less talked about in all of this mess is the relation of it to the interview Pope Francis gave, which everyone sees as a shifting in emphasis on how the Gospel is presented. Everyone whines and complains, but the two are intimately related. Quite simply, our moral message means squat in the eyes of the world right now. It isn't because of the liberal media as we like to delude ourselves into thinking.

We haven't figured out how to adjust to the sex abuse scandals that are still ongoing. How can we expect our priests to be taken seriously when talking about Christ when this kind of stuff is rampant? We told ourselves the lie "this happens on average less in the Church then in secular professions." For crying out loud people, secular professions aren't the Bride of Christ and don't have the salvation of souls as their goal!  We tried tinkering at the edges. That didn't work.

Things like the abuse crisis are also why I'm deeply skeptical a renewed emphasis on "collegiality" and local governance of the Church is really the solution to the problem we face. How would this help solve the current abuse crisis and future crises? If it were in place during all this abuse, we have to concede there is a very real possibility the situation would have been worse. One of the reasons Benedict put the CDF in charge of the abuse crisis is because the locals weren't getting it done, and were making it worse. The CDF had no theoretical competence in this manner, it was just an organization that Benedict knew and trusted could be of some use. In some instances it was. In some, it clearly could have done more, and we need to learn from that.

I'm not going to pretend to have an answer. The scary part is that the only answer is that of time: over time, by the grace of God and with sufficient prayer, this wicked and perverse generation who did these acts will pass, and a better generation will take their place. That's all I got, and it is cold comfort to victims of abuse, and individual Catholics who see the moral message of the Church undercut not by Rome, but by these guys. Francis simply realized what was already true: nobody is listening to us right now.

Don't worry, I'm not going all dystopian now. I still have a lot of hope my generation when it comes to Catholicism. I still have hope that the next generation will find a way to bring authentic Catholic Social Teaching to the world, placing our robust pro-life message in greater context. But we individual Catholics need to wake up to the world around us, and stop blaming the world and the media for our present state, when we did more damage to ourselves than they could ever dream of doing.

Traditionalists and the Incarnation: New CL Column

Over at Catholic Lane today we discuss ways in which the Traditionalist movement (especially the Extraordinary Form of Mass which is at the center of our spirituality) can help us to ponder deeper the central mystery of our faith: The Incarnation. In the next few weeks you will see a lot more of stuff like this there.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Proselytism, Conversion, and a bunch of other "Solemn Nonsense"

I am frequently asked for my opinion on Pope Francis from my friends. Through it all, I've given roughly the same response each time.

I am deeply skeptical of the idea that the Church has a fevah and the only solution is more collegiality, just as I am deeply skeptical that the solution to a problem centuries in the making is the "real teachings" of one Ecumenical Council. This is simply a difference in approach upon which Catholics can disagree and have a good spirited debate.

All this being said, I still find myself fascinated by a lot this Pope does, even if I have some disagreements here and there. He has a far better grasp of the problems facing the Church and the world today than people give him credit for, and perhaps we should listen when he speaks.

Part of this fascination came from the recent interview Pope Francis conducted with an atheist. When the atheist asked if the purpose of the meeting was to "convert him", the Holy Father responded with the following:
Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas.
For some of my traditionalist brethren, this was yet more proof that Pope Francis is a modernist. For some "conservatives", the knots they twisted themselves into explaining things were laughable, when deep down it was clear they didn't like what he said and rejected it. Their attempts at harmonization failed not because of the Pope, but because they have an incorrect understanding. Pope Benedict said it best when he said the following:
The Church does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by “attraction“- just as Christ “draws all to himself” by the power of his love, culminating in the sacrifice of the Cross, so the Church fulfills her mission to the extent that, in union with Christ, she accomplishes every one of her works in spiritual and practical imitation of the love of her Lord.
Now that we've established Francis isn't saying anything new, some will say "Kevin, it's a shame when people need to come out and explain what the Pope really means, that means there is a problem." In many instances, they would be correct. But here, the problem doesn't come from ambiguity. Speaking bluntly, it comes from the fact that the majority of today's commentators and Catholic thinkers are deeply ignorant of the Gospel and how the Bible says we should spread it. What follows will be long, and it is a shame that we need to go over Catholicism 101 with so many "educated" Catholics, but blame the horrible crisis in catechesis, even amongst more traditional circles.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Guilty Pleasure Watch

I'm enjoying all the "mainstream" bloggers admitting they have been out of bounds in their interpretation of Pope Francis.  At least we are no longer hearing about how it is only "radical evangelical catholic reactionary miserly jansenistic traditionalists" (RECRMJT!) are the problem when it comes to this pontificate.

What's also interesting is that I as a traditionalist were telling them to calm down and realize that the Pope's words were less worse than they made it out to be, and in some instances, they were actually pretty insightful.

So seeing "Janet Smith and Fr. Longenecker Gratitiously Bash Pope" and "traditionalist defends Francis" is kind of a bizarro world, but I'm amused nonetheless.

Yesterday's post was modified a little bit and thrown up on Catholic Lane.

In the end, being a newlywed with a pregnant wife helps.  I'm too busy actually living life to pop off and say something stupid online.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reading Francis Through..... Leo XIII???

Here we go again. 

Pope Francis gave another shoot interview (1), and already everyone is screaming. The Pope endorses moral relativism! The Pope says we should no longer try to bring people to Christ and His Church! The Pope says unemployment is a bigger evil than abortion! I'm not going to focus on the first two. Fr. Z covers the first one sufficiently. As for the other, the only people who really think that are those who have never actually done apologetics or evangelizing to begin with. (Hint, if your goal in these endeavors is to convert people, you are going to have a really low rate of success. I will probably expand on this later) It is the third one I have an interest in. 

This is the following statement everyone seems to be freaking out about.
The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don't even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crashed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing. 
Your Holiness, I say, it is a largely a political and economic problem for states, governments, political parties, trade unions.
 "Yes, you are right, but it also concerns the Church, in fact, particularly the Church because this situation does not hurt only bodies but also souls. The Church must feel responsible for both souls and bodies."
Everyone seems to be focusing a lot on the bolded part, and, par for the course, ignoring everything else quoted. He's talking to an atheist. He says that at this moment, the biggest danger is not just unemployment and loneliness, but rather what they signify. What good is a society if they can't take care of their elderly, and also cannot provide any hope for the future? Everyone is stuck in the tyranny of the present, which is a very nasty and brutish tyranny. When Peter gave the Gospel, he didn't call for people to save themselves from events that already happened or from the world to come, but to save ourselves "from this wicked and perverse generation." (Acts 2:40) The world hasn't changed much in 2,000 years. If all we have to live for is the present, then things pretty much suck for the young and the old. Society has always mitigated that by providing for the elderly, and offering hope for the young that they can advance. 

That really isn't the case anymore.  (If it ever was to begin with.) The Global Financial Collapse of 2008 changed everything. Unemployment has become nearly permanent for the youth, and across the globe the elderly have mostly been abandoned by their families. (Or worse yet, euthanasia.) To make things worse, the young and the elderly realize this. My generation isn't optimistic about the future. They are downright dystopian about it, because for many of them, there isn't any hope to advance in their life. As many governments have enacted austerity in the wake of the crisis, the elderly have frequently been a casualty, as their personhood is reduced to numbers in an acturial table. If you happen to be elderly and poor, well good luck. 

In such a situation, it is next to impossible for the Gospel to take root. People won't look to an eternal home when they don't have much a chance of surviving in the present. Many will say this isn't the Churches business, as these are primarily political and economic concerns, not those of the Church which are spiritual. Francis rightly rejects this line of thought, insisting that the damage unleashed by these forces impacts not just bodies and political states, but first and foremost it impacts souls. In these words, one finds an echo of Leo XIII in that most splendid of papal encyclicals, Rerum Novarum.
Neither must it be supposed that the solicitude of the Church is so preoccupied with the spiritual concerns of her children as to neglect their temporal and earthly interests. Her desire is that the poor, for example, should rise above poverty and wretchedness, and better their condition in life; and for this she makes a strong endeavor. By the fact that she calls men to virtue and forms them to its practice she promotes this in no slight degree. Christian morality, when adequately and completely practiced, leads of itself to temporal prosperity, for it merits the blessing of that God who is the source of all blessings; it powerfully restrains the greed of possession and the thirst for pleasure -- twin plagues, which too often make a man who is void of self-restraint miserable in the midst of abundance; it makes men supply for the lack of means through economy, teaching them to be content with frugal living, and further, keeping them out of the reach of those vices which devour not small incomes merely, but large fortunes, and dissipate many a goodly inheritance.
Mankind has abandoned the Gospel, and as a result, has abandoned the things which society depends on. Secular society has tried for centuries to come up with an alternative to the Church in promoting the welfare of society. So far, it has failed miserably. This is becuase the Catholic Church has a unique experience in this manner. She has rich and poor members, and must always look out for their well being, even (and especially) when governments don't. Leo spends paragraphs 27-42 talking about how the Church more or less achieved this balance throughout history, and offered suggestions for how nation states could do the same. (Go ahead, read them. Seriously. If you take nothing else from this rant, take Leo XIII's words!) 

Here's the depressing part, and something I don't think Catholics have really come to terms with. One of the reasons the Church was able to be such a balance was because she had extensive networks built up throughout society to help the poor, restrain the avarice of the rich, and use a leveling power to bring the two together. Almost all of those institutions are gone due to the Crisis in the Church of the last five decades. Nobody can afford them anymore. In other manners of social assistance, even most Catholics are free to let the welfare state help the poor instead of their own networks. Here in America, the last bastions of those old networks (Catholic hospitals) are now faced with closing their doors unless they violate their religious belief. As these institutions have disappeared, so has the Churches moral voice in society. Without that voice, the state has only been too happy to substitute its own wisdom, and the results ain't too pretty. Is it any wonder that such a nasty and brutish society has abortion as its primary sacrament? Is it any wonder that in such a society, the primary target of the world is the nuclear family, the only institution that can begin to fix this mess? Communism and materialism haven't fixed these problems, they've only made them worse. 

I don't know if this is the Pope's message or not. I also am not going to say I am optimistic about what can be accomplished by this Pope. (Hint: Even a fantastic superpope is only going to make a small dent in this problem. Leo XIII could be credibly called one of those, and the problem he saw coming in the 1890's came anyways.) I do think he has a keener understanding of socities problems than many are giving him credit for.

---- 1.) In Pro Wrestling, a "shoot" interview is where somebody breaks from the script and says what is really on their mind.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Vortex of Wreckage

Roughly 10 years ago, a colleague of mine (no longer affiliated with the traditionalist movement) wrote a work about how traditionalists were addicted to nonsense.  That lit the traditionalist movement on fire, and probably led to a lot of the people addicted to wreckage trying to push him out of trad circles. (I am withholding the name at his request, but veterans of the business know of whom I speak, and I ask they respect his privacy.)  One could say with these words, I really began changing my approach as a traditionalist:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On The Whole Interview Thing....

What follows here won't necessarily be coherent, just a few observations.

1.) When I first read the interview (still haven't read it all the way through), I won't deny my first emotions were regret and anger. It felt like we were being betrayed. It seemed like the Pope was throwing in the towel on pro-life and pro-marriage issues, and delivering a giant wet kiss to the secular left, and especially liberal bishops who will gladly tell their flocks to stop caring about pro-life activities.

2.) When I'm honest with myself, perhaps Francis has a read on things better than I realized. He warns of a "collapse" if we don't change our approach. As a traditionalist, I say forget the warnings: that collapse has arrived. Eight years ago we were banning partial birth abortions, and gay marriage was a decisive loser at the ballot box. Now we have an HHS mandate the public mostly supports (seriously, stop deluding yourselves into thinking the public doesn't support "free" contraceptives, most Catholics support them!), and legalized gay marriage in America is an inevitability. In America we chose to fight a culture war, and we've lost decisively. If anyone has an idea why, I need to listen to them, and everyone else does as well.

3.) The Pope sees the Church losing the culture because Catholic social teaching has essentially become a creed of thou shalt nots. The decline is a really complex issue with a lot of causes. Yet let's not kid ourselves, this is a big part of it. We've done a lot of great work on pro-life causes, and there's actually a chance we might start moving the needle on the abortion debate, if ever so slightly. Yet how much of Catholic social teaching do we Catholics promote, especially in America? The conservative movement (of which I am proudly a part) for the most part looks at the concept of "social justice" as "socialist justice." Why? Because for the most part, we Catholics have ceded the personal responsibliity social teaching emphasizes to the welfare state. The support networks that have flourished in Catholic culture throughout history are non-existent today. Go to the USCCB website on marriage and family. You have to do a lot of digging before you find serious treatments on the issue that everyone is just starting to pay attention to in secular culture: the collapse of the nuclear family, especially amongst Catholic circles. We can't blame the liberals for this, this breakdown has happened amongst our own.

What are the problems the nuclear family faces in America? What can Catholics do to promote the nuclear family again? How can we do that without stimagitizing people who made mistakes yet still need salvation and compassion? What policies should Catholics lobby for to take our country in a more pro-nuclear family direction? How much do lay Catholics talk about these things? Are we talking a lot about how to deal with the long-term unemployed, and the real pain and suffering associated with that? This kind of stuff is where a lot of people really are suffering right now, and the Church doesn't have creative answers to that. We need them.

4.) Whenever you talk about this stuff, we hear "oh you are just a seamless garment liberal who wants to move away from abortion." This kinda proves the whole point. It isn't that the fate of the unemployed is on the same threat level to society that abortion and gay marriage are. They aren't. Yet these views really do flow from the dignity of the person and family that we use to defend marriage and pro-life views. We don't have to water down abortion when we talk about these things. We can also use these things to bring people to the truth of the dignity of the person.

5.) We can, but in the end, we also can do the opposite. Decline is a choice. We can choose to ignore abortion and gay marriage, become "pastoral" and just become another NGO with our talking points. Or we can flesh out our views on abortion/gay marriage with several other issues. We can do this without being a Bernadin seamless garment liberal. (And maybe it's just time for the tribalism to stop already, trads/conservatives can talk about this stuff as well!) Even if the Pope said we shouldn't talk about being pro-life (and he didn't), the Pope isn't the head of a personality cult where we must do his every bidding. Yet he is the Vicar of Christ who we should listen to carefully, and be challenged by. I heard two friends lately, one a traditionalist, and another who isn't, who feel we should just stop listening to what the Bishop of Rome says because of how confusing everything is. That can lead to a very dangerous place, and I'm not ready to walk that line unless I had no choice.

6.) I'm not saying I'm a huge fan of "the interview." Personally I don't know what to think. I do wish "The Vatican" (such as it exists) would develop better message disicpline and a communications strategy. (They had to know this was going to blow up the way it did.) Yet can we develop discipline yet maintain the "shoot interview" Pope Francis is notorious for, where he breaks the stereotype and says something which, for better or worse, is truly authentic? That's going to be a tough balancing act. I have my ideas of what "I would do differently", but honestly, you can get far better ideas from every other big name commentator out there. Me, I find myself being self-critical here. I certainly don't have a better idea, so maybe, just maybe, I should listen to the Pope. I don't have to do everything how he does it, but there's a chance that maybe some of it could help me be a better witness to the Gospel. I really wish people would do that rather than jump out with "what the Pope REALLY means is X" or "the Pope is just naive and doesn't understand the reality on the ground, etc."

We will never be able to escape battles surrounding abortion, contraception and gay marriage, nor should we. Yet I really think we should be more open to criticism and self-reflection, or at least as open to it as we are to throwing out criticism and reflecting on others.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Consensus on Vatican II

Over at Catholic Lane, I give what I think is a way forward for everyone to discuss the Second Vatican Council, especially in light of recent statements from bishops residing in widely diverging ideological schools. I blogged a little bit about that here before, but I've crystalized it in better form at CL. Hope to resume regular non column related blogging next week.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Theology of the Face at Catholic Exchange

Yup, the title pretty much says it all. That's my latest column at Catholic Exchange. I take a lot of the previous material from the notes I gave a few weeks ago, but this time put it into an actual article.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pope Francis and Tertullian

In his letter to an Italian atheist that is generating controversey for.... well I really don't know, Pope Francis makes a reference which may seem kind of obscure:
Christian faith believes in this: that Jesus is the Son of God who came to give his life to open the way to love for everyone. Therefore there is a reason, dear Dr. Scalfari, when you see the incarnation of the Son of God as the pivot of Christian faith. Tertullian wrote "caro cardo salutis", the flesh (of Christ) is the pivot of salvation. Because the incarnation, that is the fact that the Son of God has come into our flesh and has shared joy and pain, victories and defeat of our existence, up to the cry of the cross, living each event with love and in the faith of AbbĂ , shows the incredible love that God has for every man, the priceless value that he acknowledges. For this reason, each of us is called to accept the view and the choice of love made by Jesus, become a part of his way of being, thinking and acting.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How NOT to do Apologetics

Way back in the day, I did apologetics. Even developed a bit of a following doing it. For a variety of reasons, I don't really do a lot of apologetics in public anymore, though I still do it on a one on one basis. I try to stay informed of the good arguments, and I still develop networks with apologists I like.

New Catholic Lane: The Case for Traditionalism

Over at my weekly Catholic Lane column I am beginning a new series. The next several weeks will be focused on laying the groundwork for what I feel is traditionalism at its best, and why these things will be so important for the Church when she inevitably comes out of the current crisis.

In today's introduction, I outline what I feel is one of the strongest cases traditionalism can make: we take the wisdom of the Book of Ecclesiastes seriously.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Find CSC on Twitter

Okay, so I finally broke down.  Several people suggested I do this for writing purposes.  So now you can find a quick reference to all my writings on twitter at @CatholicSmark.  Look forward to seeing ya!

Friday, September 6, 2013

You Got a Better Idea?

I've never been the largest fan of the charismatic movement personally, yet I've always been friends with a lot of charismatics.  We speak each others language.  I was reminded of this truth last night when I went to a speaking event hosted by a subgroup of Renewal Ministries, the Charismatic outfit of Dr. Ralph Martin.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Why Pope Francis Proclaimed a Fast

Given that this Saturday is now a day of fasting for Catholics, my latest Catholic Lane column takes a look at some of the reasons for fasting provided in Sacred Scripture, and how they line up with what the Holy Father has asked Christians to do in the wake of escalating tensions in Syria.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Karl Keating on "Radical Traditionalist"

I concede that the term "radical Traditionalist" was misunderstood by some listeners--not by a large proportion, so far as I can gather, but certainly by more than a few. It was not the term I would have used had I been on the May 31 show. (I was vacationing in Germany at the time.)

I'm not sure what term I would have preferred; perhaps more than one term would be needed, to distinguish "run of the mill" Traditionalists (the large majority) from those who have gone off to an extreme (sedevacantists and those who claim Vatican II and the OF are invalid) and from a third group consisting, chiefly, of the SSPX, which, after all, is not in full communion with the Church and which takes some positions, with respect to Vatican II and its aftermath, that I don't think can be supported. So, I'm open to finding better terminology. I hope you would be too.

I would like to see "The Remnant" drops such unhelpful terms as "Novus Ordo Catholics" and "Conciliar Catholics." I don't think such terms can be used without inadvertently conveying a sense of condescension or disdain. I don't mean that you and your associates load those terms with condescension or disdain. I mean I think many people on the receiving end will think that you intend the terms to carry that kind of baggage.

This is what you and others are saying about the term "radical Traditionalist"--that it too easily is taken the wrong way. That's a valid criticism. I think there is terminological weakness all across the board.

The very interesting discussion just got a lot more interesting. That's a major concession from Karl Keating. Before, the standard defense (one never employed by Keating to his credit) is that traditionalists were dumb mouthbreathers who were too ignorant to understand that we were being done a favor. I think Keating attempted a defense, but also realized some things just aren't worth going to war over.

I think his request to The Remnant and others to drop terms such as "Novus Ordo Catholic" (I would also add Neo-Catholic) is a sensible one. Yet even if they decide to still use the terms, Mr. Keating should take the first step. He admits the term gets used the wrong way and that it damages legitimate traditionalists. So drop the phrase entirely. He himself admits "radtrad" is a slur and Catholics should be above that. They should also be above using the long form as well. Keating should have Catholic Answers say something like the following:
Here at Catholic Answers, we are committed to explaining and defending the Catholic Faith in a way accessible to our audiences. Sometimes this involves using terms that, while not perfect, we believed were sufficient. Due to circumstances beeyond our control, sometimes those justifications are no longer valid.

Such is the case with the terms radical traditionalist and rad trad that have been in use by our apologists and our radio hosts. We thought we were making the proper distinctions to seperate good traditionalists from those who held unacceptable views such as Vatican II formally teaching heresy, the Missal of Paul VI being invalid and/or intrinsically offensive to God, or the popes since the Second Vatican Council not being valid popes. 
Despite our intentions, these terms have been taken the wrong way too often, and a lot of good traditionalists were stigmatized in the process.
In confusing times, there are a lot of imprecise terms being used, and they frequently add to the confusion. 
To avoid any further confusion, from this moment forward, Catholic Answers, Catholics Answers Live and all her employees will cease using the phrases "radical traditionalist", "rad trad", "Mad trad" or any other derogative term. We believe that a more accurate description needs to occur, and we invite our traditionalist brethren from all circles to help us in doing so, and we shall be planning several endeavors to make this a reality. This is a dialogue all Catholics should have, and we hope this first step shows our seriousness.

We also call upon our traditionalist brethren to cease using imprecise labels on their side as well, such as Novus Ordo Catholic, Neo-Catholic, Concilliar Catholic, and the like. It is hard for this needed dialogue to take place when such terms are used. Even though you as well may have the best of intentions, these terms are being taken the wrong way, and are stigmatizing people who should be your ally.

As always we thank our traditionalist community members for bringing forth their concerns in a charitable and rational manner. We would like to especially thank The Remnant Magazine, who showed the honesty and candor to get these talks started. We should also like to thank Kevin Tierney, the new face of traditionalism.......

Sorry, fingers got caught on autopilot. You know, something like this.

Something Incredible is Happening at Catholic Answers.....

For the first time in the history of the blogosphere.... ignore the article.  The comments section is where its at.  Whether or not people wanted it, a real challenge has been given by traditionalists now towards the status quo of division.

After Karl Keating took to defending the behavior of his workers over the four hours of "radical traditionalism", a very lively discussion broke out on several fronts.  Here's what I think the highlights are:

- Mr. Keating says "radtrad" is something no Catholic should use..... but the long form "radical traditionalist" is better.  One can read his defense of it.

- Michael Matt (editor of The Remnant) offering one of the most moving statements of why traditionalists have such a visceral hatred of the term "radical traditionalist."

- Pete Vere renewing his call that Catholics should stop using the phrases as they are holding back the newer generation of traditionalists from being equals in the Church.

-  A proposal of real dialogue over the issues without any polemics

- A joint forum between the Remnant and Catholic Answers

- Some of the strongest condemnations of Anti-Semitism.  Let those who claim that trads have an anti-semitism problem read those statements and see if they wish to persist rolling in their own ignorance like a pig in their own filth.  Pigs like mud, and those individuals like their own blissful ignorance.

- A call for Mr. Keating and Catholic answers to actually come out and see what the new generation of traditionalists are really about.  They always talk in theory about the "good traditionalist", but they never put a name to the face.  Now they have an opportunity to do otherwise.

It really is Catholic Answers move.  They can continue the status quo of division nobody wants.  Their listeners don't want it.  Traditionalists don't want it.  The only one who wants it is the Divider.  So let's see if they want to step up and strike a blow for Catholic unity.  Your move gents.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Do We Really Need More Professional Catholics?

There's a lot of talk of "professional Catholics" lately. I'm really not going to go into too much of the detail. It was a stupid debate that got started and continued by more stupidity. Apparently intelligent people thought that the most gripping questions of the day were who makes what at what apologetics organization, and who applied for what job when, and the implication that people involved are just butthurt hypocrites. Even if this were true (who knows!) apparently detraction is the cool thing to do in the blogosphere nowadays.

This is what happens when the blogosphere gets bored during a slow news cycle. Instead of focusing on relevant issues, Catholic radio goes after "radical traditionalists", even when everyone has acknowledged those terms are incredibly damaging to faithful Catholics. Instead of using the wisdom of the tradition to live a holy and devout Catholic life, Michael Voris needs to throw red meat to his base about how awful others are. Some believe Catholic Answers lost donations money because of that show. Karl Keating denies that, and I see no reason to doubt him. Here's an alternate theory: people aren't coughing up money because this kind of talk is worthless. Most people look at these professional Catholics starting pointless fights and they correctly decide to use their limited money in a better fashion.

Fr. Longenecker believes we need more professional Catholics. If by "professional Catholic", you mean people extolling the Beatitudes such as blessed are the poor from luxury cruise liners, count me out. We don't need more of those professionals.

We need less speakers on cruise ships, and more catechists at the local level. We need fewer radio and youtube hosts looking to gin up controversy, and more priests in the confessional. We need fewer organizations that serve to rahrah their respective bases, and more groups like these. If they can focus on things of actual relevance, then yes, let's get some "professionals."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Theology of the Incarnate Body

One of my problems with a lot of contemporary Catholicism (not just the TOB stuff) is how it really lacks an incarnational aspect to it. How this applies specifically to the Wednesday audiences is the subject of my latest column at Catholic Exchange. The short version: a lot of pop evangelists are trying to take their audience to a place that we cannot return to, and even if we wanted to, we are promised something better.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blog Maintenence and Other Stuff

Having a bit of writers block, I've been spending today doing various other things.  Did some housekeeping at Catholic Lane, worked on getting a new writer I'm actually a bit stoked about, and also doing a bit of upkeep here at the blog.  I've retagged most of the posts.  A lot of people liked my Theology of the Face and wanted to see more of that material.  Hopefully by clicking on the TOB tag, you will see some of the stuff that has been on this blog for awhile, where I think we discuss things you don't really hear in the TOB worlds.

I'll have another column at Catholic Exchange tomorrow based on the importance of the Incarnation to JPII's Catechesis on Human Love.  Will link to that tomorrow.  Friday I will be down at the Cathedral in Detroit for a Latin Mass.  Hope to see some of you there.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How a Marian TOB Helps Us Understand the Assumption of Mary

When I was studying the Catholic Faith before my conversion, one of the biggest hangups I had was around the Assumption of Mary. While I always believed Mary was perpetually virgin, could accept the Immaculate Conception, and could even believe in Mary as Co-Redemptrix (!), I thought the Assumption was just proof that Catholics were engaging in Mary worship. It was something that you only believed was "Biblical" if you contorted apocalyptic imagery to see what you wanted to see. Since the Church was right on everything else, so I just decided to accept her wisdom and take the darn plunge of faith.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Theology of the Face

Dawn Eden delivers a much needed "review" of Christopher West's work, even if they delayed running it for over a year.  One of the things she mentions in the review is how West's theology ignores entirely the importance of the face in John Paul II's writings.  This got me kinda thinking.  Might write something more formal on this now, but for the time being, here are a few notes:

New CL Column on St. Pius X

What made St. Pius X such a great pope?  Seriously, don't say Pascendi.  That just proves you read the talking points from the traditionalist manifesto.  There's a lot that makes Pius X an awesome pope, and I think we trads really should focus on that stuff as well.  That's what I do with my latest Catholic Lane column.

Christopher West: Just Mailing It In

Christopher West  says the following in his latest email reflection:

"Strive to enter through the narrow gate." What does this passage from yesterday's Gospel say to us about the way we live and express the theology of our bodies? Striving to enter through the narrow gate in this context means committing ourselves to a continual purification of two misguided approaches to the body: the tendency to worship the body on the one hand (very prevalent in the culture today); and the tendency to reject or devalue the body on the other hand (very prevalent among Christians today). The more we are purified of both, the closer we are to that "vortex" in the center that draws us up bodily into the divine Mystery with all the elemental force of Christ's bodily Ascension and Mary's bodily Assumption. Lord, help us to enter through that narrow gate!
To quote that great Western Philosopher Steve Austin:  WHAT?

Wassim Sarweh's Gregorian Chant KickStarter

I'm a bit late to this, but mainly because with my wifes pregnancy, haven't really been out to Detroit as much to learn of the news.    Those who are members of the various traditionalist communities that make up the greater Detroit area will know who Wassim Sarweh is.  He is the incredibly talented organist/cantor with a style all his own.  One can say with confidence that you don't hear many involved in sacred music as good or as original as Wassim.  He was the organist for our wedding, and I'll never forget the Sunday he came to plan our music.  He simply showed up without notes, and played 8 different settings for my wife from memory.

This is why I'm really excited about Wassim's KickStarter project that he started last week.  He wants  to put out something that will help chanters and lovers of sacred music in general really get to appreciate the incredible diversity Gregorian chant allows, but also as an idea of how chant might have sounded during the Middle Ages.  I'm backing the project, and I hope readers will as well.  If you can't back it, let others know about the work.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Death of "Conservative Catholicism'

In the August/September 2013 issue of First Things, editor R.R Reno celebrates the end of theological liberalism being a "force in the churches."  The damage in Protestantism has already been done, and the better crop of bishops in Catholicism means that, if nothing else, we won't see a massive rebellion akin to Humanae Vitae again.  Eric Cohen offers a response that, while talking about Judaism, could just as easily be talking about Christianity, and specifically the experiment of First Things to wed Christianity very closely with the great American experiment known as conservatism.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Wisdom of St. Pius X

Yesterday in the Ordinary Form, Catholics celebrated the feast of St. Pius X. He is viewed as many things by many people. To some, he was the great Anti-Modernist pope of the legendary encyclical Pascendi. For others he was the liturgical reformer of things such as Gregorian Chant. When I look at St. Pius X, I see above all the insightful pastor who can teach us a lot of things today, if only we would listen. Since we recently had a nice debate about the use of inflammatory labels, I wish I would've found this quote sooner. In his first encyclical E Supremi, the Pope lays out a mission to "restore all things in Christ" and then gives some practical outlines on how to accomplish that. The paragraph that follows might be one of the greatest exhortations on evangelization printed by a Pope. It deserves to be quoted at length:

Monday, August 19, 2013

If not Radtrad, then what are we?

I'm finding a bit of writers block with my column on the sacraments at Catholic Lane.  I've covered the first three sacraments in a way that I feel is interesting and something you normally don't see.  Now that I'm reaching the remaining four (Eucharist, Matrimony, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick), I find that I have a lot to say, but none of it very interesting.  What I would contribute is something you've all heard a thousand times before.  More importantly, those voices would do a far better job telling that story.  So (at least for now) I'm putting that column on the back burner.  (After 19 columns in 9 months on the topic, I think I've earned that breather!)

So if I'm not going to cover the sacraments, what am I going to cover?  The previous two columns on traditionalism have been very well received, especially when you consider that Catholic Lane's audience is not a hotbed of traditionalism.  Sensing an opportunity, I'm going to continue with that line of thought.  Be sure to tune in and watch it blow up in my face!

In doing so, I'm hoping to build on what has been done lately calling for "radtrad" to be retired.  I want to show the aspirations of traditionalists are really not that radical and that we have a lot to offer today's Church.  Men like Catholic Answers Patrick Coffin deny that there can be an authentic worldview that can call itself "traditionalist" in the Catholic Church.  I intend to prove him and those like him wrong.

Here's the question:  what as a traditionalist do you find important?  To those who aren't traditionalists, what do you like about the movement?  What do you want to hear more of?  Or is this just a waste of time?  Feel free to reach out to me and share your thoughts.  As for now, here are a few things I will be pushing:

1.)  The Traditionalist movement can be seen as a work of the Spirit in reminding Catholics of the wisdom of the first two chapters of the book of Ecclesiastes.

2.)  The Traditionalist movement can help  modern Catholicism (especially in the West) rediscover the importance of the Incarnation, and properly ordering the temporal towards the eternal.

3.)  The Traditionalist movement today is ironically a populist movement within the Church.

4.)  The Traditionalist movement properly strikes a balance with discpline, realizing the freedom structure provides from the tyranny of our own mediocrity, while not descending into legalism.

5.)  Traditionalists can help the Church avoid the tyranny of the moment when it comes to understanding the Gospel.  We take the long view on things, and there's something to be said for it.

6.)  The "brick by brick" approach seen in many traditionalist chapels is a breath of fresh air from a status quo of mediocrity and waiting on everyone else to do something.

If anyone else has any other ideas, I'd be interested in hearing them.

Friday, August 16, 2013

World Youth Day: Theory and Practice

Leonard: I love cheesecake

Sheldon:  No you don't, you're lactose intolerant.

Leonard:  I think its a good idea!

Like so many of my generation, we find a bit of wisdom behind the laughs (and not all of them appropriate) of CBS' The Big Bang Theory.  A few weeks ago someone asked me in the comboxes here what I thought about World Youth Day.  This scene came to my mind when reading that question.  I'm really not a fan of World Youth Day, but I still to this day think its a good idea.  Another way of saying it is that World Youth Day is a terrible idea, and the only thing worse than World Youth Day is no World Youth Day.  This came into my mind when I read the following article at Catholic World Report.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Return of Peter Miller

Want a good way to figure out if the traditionalist you are talking to has been one before Benedict XVI's pontificate? Ask them if they read Peter Miller's Seattle Catholic. Between 2001 and 2006, SC was a website that served as an all purpose internet hub for traditionalists. Mr. Miller collected links from around the web that trads would find interesting, and linked them without commentary. When Peter Miller gave you a link, your traffic exploded. This was always comforting to young traditionalists such as myself, who at that time were written out of polite Catholic conversation. In 2002 at 20 years old and only starting to discover the Latin Mass, Mr. Miller always "put me over" (to borrow a wrestling phrase) by giving me a couple links every now and then. As Michael Brendan Dougherty (my original blog partner who transferred into really interesting political journalism) put it, a lot of us got our start thanks to Seattle Catholic and their influence. 
When you actually wanted commentary, he always had some interesting opinion works that spanned the viewpoint of traditionalist commentary. Most importantly, it allowed viewpoints that went against the prevailing traditionalist ethos. Many believed that traditionalists were all monarchists politically and you had to be a distributist economically. Mr. Miller allowed incredibly intelligent writers to come on and argue otherwise. Some might not have realized it at the time, but he was broadening the traditionalist movement through his actions. Agree on the same faith and our love of the same liturgy, everything outside of dogmatics can and should be debated. That's what I learned from reading the site several times a day. If anything I would argue traditionalists need a modern day Seattle Catholic, if someone was insane enough to do that much work.
That's why it is with much fanfare and celebration that Mr. Miller stepped out of his self imposed exile to give a current state of the traditionalist movement promo over at Rorate Caeli. In it he talks a lot about the same themes we have covered lately, mainly about how much has changed in the past 7 years since SC went dark. They are teasing this as the first of many, and I hope that is the case.
Mr. Miller offers a very sobering analysis, emphasizing how far we've come, how far we still have to go, and stressing the importance of individuals, on all sides, doing the right thing and fighting the good fight. That's a call I made in two well received columns at Catholic Lane. Someone with Mr. Miller's influence and auctoritas will hopefully be able to get more to pay attention.

Pete Vere to Catholic Commentators: Stop using "Radical Traditionalist" and "RadTrad"

Most of you reading this won't know who Pete Vere is, unless you are a canon law wonk, or a veteran of the early days of Catholic Blogging. Mr. Vere was a well known canon lawyer who had done extensive work on the SSPX. What makes him interesting today is he was also one of the people who did the most to make "radical traditionalist" and "radtrad" a popular phrase. As someone who not only went to the Extraordinary Form but someone who helped guide a lot of Bishops into establishing indults (remember them days? If not, blessed are you!), when he used the phrase, it stuck. The big name apologists of the world got their info about "radical traditionalists" from Pete. I include all of this backstory for a reason: namely Pete's surprising reversal on using the terms in a post on his facebook page. Here are the money quotes:
But that does not mean Kevin is wrong. Rather, like Shawn, I suspect Kevin is right... And deep down inside I think that is what bothered me most about Kevin's response- the fact that him being right means I have to let go of old prejudices formed during yesteryear's battles. battles that today's generation of trad never faced...
In essence, the expression "radtrad" was coined to allow traditinoalists to escape the menu. It served its purpose. However, today's generation has been invited to eat at the table.
I'm not a fool. I realize a lot of people will keep using radtrad and other insulting terms. Yet I think they should really reflect on Pete's words. He is known as an old school scrapper when it came to debates. Yet he also realizes that such an approach actually harms everyone today: it harms the SSPX, it harms loyal traditionalists, and it harms every other Catholic as well. If you think there deserves to be a spot for traditionalists at the table (and at least in public these individuals profess for that to be the case), then it really is simple: drop the terms. The man who made the term mean what you think it means today is telling you to do so.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pope Will Not Hamper the Extraordinary Form

Says a top Vatican liturgical expert. This really isn't news, but many will treat it like news. Personally I've said from the beginning that the Pope isn't going to roll back Summorum Pontificium.
Yet let us engage in a bit of theorycrafting, and assume that tomorrow, Pope Francis outlawed the Latin Mass Again, or returned it to the days of the Indult Ghetto. There's maybe a one-thousandth of one percent chance this would happen, but it certainly is possible! Even if that happened..... such a decision would be short lived for the reasons the article points out.
If nothing else, the Extraordinary Form is a priest-making juggernaut. In a land where the faith is dying, 15% of French seminarians come from the Extraordinary Form. I wouldn't be surprised if in America, the 1% of the Catholic population that is traditionalist is pumping out 5% or more of the seminarians, and this only increases as the years go on. These priests are young, dynamic and holy. Even those who aren't traditionalists are a lot friendlier to the Extraordinary Form than the previous generations, either willing to celebrate it, or speaking fondly of it. Every year that goes by with this situation, the more the ground becomes favorable to us. Anyone think the mediocre Catholicism that passes for Catholicism in most parishes is pumping out vocations?
There's also that thing we like to brag about, but fail to back up with our beliefs: that we are doing God's work here. If you think having the Latin Mass is something God wants, then how long can men prevail against it? That doesn't mean things can't be made difficult: they most certainly can (and are!), and we need to be vigilant against this. Yet let's not forget the justness of what we fight for.
In the end, a lot of the worrying about Pope Francis supressing the Latin Mass made traditionalists look dumb, because it was a worldview that was impervious to evidence. It was an emotional reaction, and emotional reactions are never good reactions. Maybe he takes away the EF tomorrow and makes me look like a fool. If so, then I'll just enjoy the victory a few decades from now all the more.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Time to Listen

The theme of listening is the subject of my latest column at Catholic Lane.  There has been a lot of buzz about the whole "radtrad" debate that I seemed ot have kicked off.  What do trads do now?  I cover that, and give a few other ideas going forward.

Listening is one of the hardest things to do, especially in a tribalistic polarized landscape like we often find ourselves today.  We have an inclination to "refute" and "argue" under the guise of a dialogue, when in reality, we should just shut up, let the other speak, take to heart his words, and act on them later.

Getting Back to Normal

One of the things I've always stressed that traditionalists need to keep in mind is that we can't be utopians.  In our criticism of today's state of affairs, we run the risk of acting as if the previous eras were not just good, but perfect.  Phil Blosser touches on this in a way.  The Church is filled with sinners, and sometimes things are better or worse as a result of that. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pope Francis and the "Mission" Thing

"In time, we will understand the mission of Pope Francis."

"Just give it time, and we will see what great things the Holy Spirit has in store for the Pope."
My friends tell me this all the time whenever the discussion centers on Pope Francis. Some of my traditionalist brethren fear he is going to set back the traditionalist cause decades if not outright killing it. Others parse every word, looking for a grand agenda, and when his sweeping reforms will start. All of this happens even though, according to Pope Francis' own words, he hasn't done much of anything since becoming Pope, and he has played his cards incredibly close to his chest on what he was going to do.

Friday, August 9, 2013

On Divisive Terms, Dialogue, and Reading "The Signs of the Times"... Guest Editorial by I. Shawn McElhinney

KMT note: Longtime readers of the Catholic blogosphere may remember Shawn McElhinney. If you remember him, your perception of him depended greatly on whether or not you attended the Extraordinary Form during the early days of Catholics blogging. He ran the "Lidless Eye Inquisition" with several others in attacking what they perceived to be "radical traditionalists" and "radtrads." Here Shawn explains why he no longer uses the terms.
It was brought to my attention recently that Catholic Answers had done a two hour program on traditionalism and terms such as "rad-trad" were utilized as well as a new term "mad-trad." As I helped popularize the terms "radical traditionalist" and "rad-trad" in weblog publications years ago, I was asked by my good friend Kevin Tierney for some thoughts on the use of the term in the modern ecclesial climate. A simple comment would not suffice and after some pondering of the matter, the result is what you have before you. Now I was admittedly privy to some apologists resurrecting the term earlier in the year and proceeding to use it in ways it was never intended to be used. However, that was small potatoes compared to when Catholic Answers (among the largest Catholic apologetics organizations in the world) decides on one of their shows to sanction the use of terms like rad-trad and "mad-trad." With that in mind, a bit of personal disclosure at the outset of this article is necessary.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Is JPII's "Man and Woman He Created Them" as New as Many Claim?

This is a question I try to tackle in my latest column at Catholic Exchange. The working title was "Theology of the Body: Basil, Ambrose, Augustine, Aquinas, Bonaventure, the Catechism of Pius X, and Leo XIII Already Did It." For some unexplained reason, the editors at Catholic Exchange rejected that title.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Metting Halfway

Something happened during the debate surrounding "radtrad" and "radical traditionalist." No, everyone didn't suddenly convert to the position they disagreed with before.  Instead, I think everyone is regressing to the mean after some initial bumps in the road.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Giving the Status Quo a Push (More on the whole Radtrad Debate)

Nobody died and made me leader of a cause, but the way I see it, traditionalists should keep the following things in mind moving forward:

Letting Us Stand Together

The dicussion surrounding my editorial at Catholic Lane generated a lot more discussion than I ever would have hoped or wished for. There have been a lot of varied responses, some more valuable than others. I'd like to call the attention of my audience to one of these responses in particular, by Fr. Dwight Longenecker.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Latest Column at Catholic Lane

So I said before I have bad timing, and here is what I mean.
Over the past two weeks I've been working on an article which calls for the terms "radical traditionalist" and "radtrad" to be dropped from the popular lexicon. Part of this was even done in a dialogue with Dave Armstrong one can see in previous posts. I advocated dropping the term not to help out those classified as "radtrads", but as a way of cooling the temperature of the debate. "Radtrad", like "Neo-Catholic" is a way to demean and insult the dreaded other. That both have pretty precise definitions is utterly beside the point. It still comes across as hopelessely polarizing, and the last thing we need is more polarization.
Of course, this happens around the same time that a little tempest in a teapot begins brewing regarding the Latin Mass and a religious order. It is a bit tough to call for friendlier dialogue with greater charity when you see a lot of the reactions of some traditionalists, who used this more as a pretext for pope bashing than anything else. Let's be honest. Some people here doing this are people who are legitimately worried about the Latin Mass. They might be overreacting, but they mean well, and people should remember that. Yet there are others who simply use whatever they can as a pretext to air out their grievances about how they really don't like Pope Francis for whatever reason you want.
There are also traditionalists far better than yours truly using the moniker as a way of rebuking their actions. I sympathize with that stand. This behavior is wrong and intolerable. Yet now more than ever we need to be above reproach and charitable, even with those who deserve it least. It's a principled stand few will listen to, but few listen to me anyways, so I might as well plant the flag. Using these terms do nothing but add strife and vision, and it is possible to do this stuff without using such language. It isn't easy, and we fallen human beings take the easy way out far too often. I get that. Yet just this once, let's appeal to our higher nature okay?