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?