Sunday, April 28, 2013

Aquinas, NFP, and Modern Day Jansenism

*The Following is a lengthy examination of some very flawed views concerning human sexuality, marriage, and the marital embrace.  Due to the highly sensitive nature of the subject, read discretion is advised.*

When discussing the "Theology of the Body" with supporters of Christopher West, they will quickly pull out the Jansenist card, and declare anyone they disagree with part of this heretical group in the past, using it as a tactic to render their criticism illegitimate.  The overwhelming majority of the time, they are dead wrong.  Yet sometimes they are right, in that the occasional critic of their worldview harbors views that are indistinguishable from a Jansenist.

Friday, April 26, 2013

More (And Hopefully the End) on NFP

The article done yesterday about Dr. Jay Boyd's dismissal of NFP has caused quite a healthy level of discussion in my inbox, and the comboxes over at Dr. Boyd's essay have been quite lively.  I'd like to round up some of the responses I gave on those comboxes, and elaborate on those things said.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jay Boyd and the Traditionalist Trojan Horse

As I make clear often, I'm a traditionalist.  I'm also set to be married soon.  I hate the way perfectly Orthodox Catholics are mandated to take NFP courses as a condition for getting married.  I hate it, but I obey it.  I hate when those who are looking to have large families are accused of not engaging in responsible parenting by those who basically belong to the cult of NFP.  I also hate it when those like Christopher West portray every traditionalist as a sex-hating Manichean.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Against Grand Unified Theories

In one of those great moments of wit he is known for, Francis Cardinal Arinze stated that the Gospels only contained everything necessary for salvation, not to satisfy our curiosity.  I had this in mind when I read the interview with Christopher West where Mr. West promotes his latest book.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Outside of Holy Mass, one of the key ways a lot of traditionalists socialize is the Church social which usually follows Mass.  Since most of us come from a distance, it is a chance to engage in fellowship with our fellow Catholics, encouragement, and networking.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Patristic TOB? Talking Points

I had a discussion with +Karee Santos on the issue of TOB, and I said the following, which she found interesting, and hoped I would elaborate on:

"My whole take with TOB is.....  The fathers of the Church did this back in the Early Church.  People need to stop treating this as something new.  Blessed John Paul II didn't, and neither should we."

While I won't write (yet at least) a full column on this, I think we can give a few "talking points" for why I think this is the case.

Being Fair in Evangelization/Dialogue

In my previous post, I tried to issue a challenge to my traditionalist brethren, and all Catholics really.  While it focused on the issue of our relationship to the Jews, it really was about a lot more.  I think we need to present a different front at times when dealing with those who aren't traditionalists, and do a far better job of creating a welcoming image.  Taking the combox mentality into the Church at large isn't going to do a good job of appealing to potential allies, or even better, converts outside the Church.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Traditionalists, Anti-Semitism and Rebooting the Discussion

In the recent dustup surrounding the alleged infestation of Anti-Semitism within traditionalist ranks, I tried giving one consistent message to anyone that would listen, a view that was backed up by almost every traditionalist, even those who are staunch opponents of Anti-Semitism:  that most traditionalists not only aren't Anti-Semites, the entire issue is completely foreign to all that they stand for.

The issue isn't then that traditionalists need to "clean their own house" on Anti-Semitism, as that house is more or less already clean.  Ask the real Anti-Semites, they are sad that they have less of a home even in the SSPX, to say nothing of within the formal structures of the Church!  Instead, the problem is more limited, and yet more widespread.

New Column: Why Confess Sins to a Priest?

We discuss that question over at my latest on Catholic Lane.  I try to avoid the common biblical citations and go with a few different common sense ideas.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Francis Emphasizes "Growth in Continuity"

Now some people went a little crazy with these remarks.  For the life of me, I really don't understand why.   I actually think there's some food for thought here that all Catholics (including traditionalists) should really consider.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

So That Reform of the Curia Thing is Totally Happening.....

Via Fr. Z:

So 8 Cardinals from outside the Curia are going to create a commission to give suggestions to Pope Francis about how to reform the Curia.

While Curia bashing has been a time honored tradition in the Catholic Church ever since the Curia came into existence, it really is totally warranted.  High profile members of the Curia covered up sexual deviants.  (Sodano with Fr. Maicel)  Bertone was the ultimate insider who constantly hampered a lot of what Pope Benedict wanted to do.  To put it mildly, traditionalists have no reason to cheer for Sodano, Bertone, or several other members of the Curia.  Every trads hero (Cardinal Ranjith) sent many Curia members to hospitals with their toes being stepped on, and the feeling for him to leave Rome and head back to Sri Lanka was mutual.  (Since his return, he has been an automatic win dispenser for awesome Catholicism.)

Will these guys be up to the job?  It is hard to see how they could be any worse.  Cardinal Pell is on that list.  We know he is solid.  Cardinal Pasinya was cited positively by Cardinal Francis George, another one of the good guys.  Will they do everything good?  Probably not.  There will probably be some things traditionalists will not like.  Oh well, loyal traditionalsits have that hard-wired into their DNA nowadays.  Things happen we don't like, we remain loyal and soldier on.  Yet there is also the chance for opportunity.  Some real long-time enemies of the Latin Mass and of traditionalists in general could stand to be weakened. 

Yet we need to get a grasp of the big picture.  We need better Church leaders and better governance if we are ever to promote the Gospel properly.  That is what we should be praying for above all.  A proper Gospel and traditionalism go hand in hand.

Are you a Shepherd or a Mercenary?

In the Extraordinary Form, today we celebrate what is known as "Good Shepherd Sunday", based on the fact that the Gospel reading is Christ's discourse in John 10 about being "The Good Shepherd."  As St. Augustine tells us (Tractate 46), Christ emphasizes the word "Good" Shepherd to contrast from the "bad Shepherd", the hireling.  In the English language, we think of "hired help", which is true enough, but doesn't really capture how the term is understood during the time of Christ.  The Latin Vulgate translates hireling as "mercennarius", which I think does a far better job of understanding the concept.

From mercennarius we get the English word mercenary.  When we think of mercenaries, we think of ruthless killing machines, going to war solely for profit.  In a far simpler form, a mercenary is one who simply is out for himself in the work he does.  Both are given a task from their master.  The Father gives the flock to Christ, just as owner of the flock appoints a mercenary to watch over his flock.

What makes the two different?  Christ as the Shepherd is there primarily for the benefit of the flock and love for His Father.  The mercenary is simply there for his own benefit.  He uses his gifts for his own reputation, ego, wallet, etc.  When looked at in this light, not only is this passage an affirmation of Christ's identity, but it provides a stark choice for every single one of us, whether priest or laymen.

Like both the shepherd and the hireling, we are appointed a task by God.  How do we approach that purpose?  As a blogger, am I using my work to promote my own name, is it solely to increase the amount of traffic on my site, am I looking for this or that audience, money etc?  Do I instead simply look to present the truth and look to help others along their journey to discover the truth?  To make things clear, this is not to say that we cannot receive rewards for the work that we do.  The question has more to do with the interior character.  Likewise for the leaders of the Church, are they serving their own interests or those of Christ?

This is not just an academic question.  When a mercenary is outmatched, he will likely leave to collect another paycheck or another accolade.  The religious mercenary will shy away from stepping up for the truth when it isn't convenient for them.  They will become reluctant to condemn injustices if they stand to profit from the existence of said injustices.  I think when Pope Francis condemned the "spiritual worldliness" of Catholics today, this is what he had in mind.  Since we are so focused on the ways of the world (even within our Church walls), we become reluctant to make the hard sacrifices necessary of standing up for Christ in season when it benefits you, and out of season when it does not.    This affliction the Church suffers from will be the primary impediment to true reform.  While some might limit this to just the various institutions of the Church in need of reform, I would wager this holds just as true for individual Catholics.  Considered from this perspective, there arises a burning question.  How are we to distinguish from the two?  How can we tell the difference between the voice of the Mercenary and the voice of the Good Shepherd?  Are we to look at the gifts they have, their followings, their titles or their wealth?  Augustine directs us to St. Paul's declaration that the false Apostles seek their own honor instead of Christ's.  Seeking our own honor leads to all of these things.    St. John Chrysostom provides what I believe to be the most persuasive answer.  In his commentary on the Gospel of Saint John, He asks us if the voice (and personal conduct) of the individual points us to the Beatitudes.  Does their work and conduct emphasize humility and self-denial?  Such is the voice of a shepherd, and he is worthy of being followed.  Is the voice instead promoting arrogance and self-affirmation?  Such is the work of a mercenary, and they are to be avoided.   I submit in the end that this is the defining mark of a Christian.  Let us pray and examine our consciences so that we may be like the shepherd and not the mercenary.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Anti-Semitism and a Chance for Unity: Guest Post by Jeffrey Stuart

Kevin's note:  At my request, Jeffrey Stuart wrote the following.  My thoughts tend to line up with his almost perfectly on the matter.  We want the same thing as many of our friends across the way want.  We just propose a different way of getting to it.

Anti-Semitism. Holocaust denial. Not very good things in the slightest. For a Catholic, the former is to deny our spiritual roots. The later simply shows a lack of historical knowledge. So up front, allow me to condemn those views outright. And for individuals that hold such views, they are either ignorant or possessed with a hateful streak, both of which warrant fraternal correction and prayer. But to be clear, let me say again, I condemn both of those viewpoints.

The Purpose of Chastity

Karee Santos has written a review of Christopher West's latest book Fill These Hearts.  Now I haven't read the book, so I won't comment too much on what is or isn't in it.  The comboxes got a little interesting  as I engaged Mrs. Santos on a few issues.  I'd like to use these things to springboard into another discussion.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why We are All Irrelevant Scrubs

The following message is hard to hear, but it is something that needs to be said.  The blogopshere is abuzz with the issue of Anti-Semitism in traditionalist circles since Dawn Eden helped the issue go viral amongst the Catholic blogosphere.  Some wish that more prominent voices would get involved in this, and that traditionalists all over would see what a problem Anti-Semitism is in their circles.

I feel the approach that many are taking right now is flawed, and it stems from the fact that they suffer from an information disadvantage.  Allow me to explain.

When I say information disadvantage, I mean that we lack certain knowledge that others have.  We don't lack it because we are close-minded.  We lack it because we live in a bubble.  This happens in politics all the time, where someone is surprised that evil creep won an election when everyone they knew voted otherwise.  Traditionalists had this problem with the Mandatum issue.  They were horrified over the Pope "setting aside" a liturgical law.  To most Catholics, even Orthodox ones, they didn't know such a law even existed, or why it exists.  To try to explain the subtleties of laws to people who aren't even aware they are laws, you will just look like a fool.  Should they know?  Yes.  Yet they don't, and you gotta deal with that.  

So, you are asking, how does this relate to the problem of Anti-Semitism and traditionalists?  I'm so glad you asked!

When confronted by such vile Anti-Semitism, many traditionalists have acted with horror and revulsion, condemning the words.  Yet we also remind people that this kind of stuff is a minority within the traditionalist movement, and it is virtually non-existent in most parishes.  In short, what you see on the Internet is not representative of the whole.  The current response to this has been..... to point out nasty things people are saying on the Internet.

Why is this a problem?  Those who write and read blogs are a pretty small minority of the overall Catholic population.  They tend to be highly motivated individuals who take their beliefs seriously, for better or worse.  The majority of traditionalists and Catholics in general are blissfully ignorant of this entire dustup.  Even the most known of Catholic personalities online are probably only known by maybe 5% of the Catholic population.  An even smaller number of that 5% actually read them on a regular basis.  The kind of problems the blogosphere deals with are not the problems that exist in the majority of parishes or that we experience.

It is for that reason I disagree with one point of Simcha Fischer's otherwise excellent work.  Outside of the nonsense I run into online, I haven't encountered any Anti-Semitism.  Since the majority of Catholics (including traditionalists) don't really spend much time on trad blogs, I can say with confidence that the idea that "If you're a traditionalist and you hang out with other traditionalists, then sooner or later, you will run into Anti-Semitism" is actually a load of crap, and only someone who is a blogger would make that statement.  I know that I've migrated between 3 different traditionalist communities over a decade, and Anti-Semitism wasn't in one of them.  My experience is also what a lot of traditionalists are trying to say.  So we are lucky that it isn't in our neighborhood.

That isn't to say this is all much ado about nothing.  No, the problem is real.  Even if it exists in just a few corners of the Internet, it can have a lot of far-reaching conclusions.  That small bit of Anti-Semitism can damage our ability to witness.  Furthermore, we want those people on the Internet who read blogs.  They take things passionately, and they are serious about our beliefs.  Like any movement, traditionalists can use more serious individuals.  Yet they aren't going to give us a second look if they don't see that we really and truly oppose this crap.

If we are wondering what we can do to make others stand up, we need to do more to show that this kind of stuff actually has an impact, and the damage it creates is real, because to the majority of Catholics, they look at us the same way.  We really are a bunch of irrelevant scrubs who are talking about issues they have no clue about.  Such a message isn't appealing to the ego, yet if you want to be an effective witness, the first thing you need to do is tell your ego to knock it off.

Catholic Lane Column: Why There is a Crisis in the Confessional

It isn't just liberal priests, I'd wager it is because even we aren't looking at the sacrament like we should.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sometimes Being Liked is a Good Thing

For most of its existence, traditionalism has been a rebel movement.  Even the loyal sons of the Church were still looking to shake up the existing order of the Church.  We hated the horrendous liturgies rife with abuse, despised the heterodox theology coming from popular circles, and we hated above all the seeming "conservative" silence or acquiescence on these manners.  To borrow a page from pro wrestling (as a proud smark since the mid 90's), traditionalists were heels, and we loved being heels.  That also meant we weren't interested in cheers or adulation from the powers that be within mainstream Catholicism.  Many times those who were getting cheers were those traditionalists who did nothing but bash their fellow brothers, even the loyal ones. 

As a Matter of Fairness

As reader Cassandra pointed out, Mr. Gonzalez has written a "clarification" based on his remarks, and has kindly translated them and his original article into English.

Scroll to Bottom for Original English

Scroll to Bottom for "Clarification"

Now my brief thoughts:

Monday, April 8, 2013

I've Got a Steel Chair, and I'm not Afraid to Use It!

Well, Dawn Eden's comboxes are certainly gettin wild!  I think we need to establish a few things, so we all have an understanding.

1.)  The Holocaust freaking happened.  Whether it was 6 million or 10 million or whatever, millions upon millions of Jews, as well as millions upon millions of non-jews, were systematically murdered because they were not of the master race.  Hitler saved his largest perversities for the Jews.  This is a historical fact.

2.)  From a purely 100% academic standpoint, one could wonder if the Holocaust occured and still be a Catholic.... I suppose.  Technically speaking, it isn't in the Creed or revealed dogma.

3.)  One could also be a Catholic and state the world is flat or only 7,000 years old.  You'd be a moron, but you could still be Catholic.

4.)  People would be right to conclude that even though you are free to be Catholic and hold this view, something is deeply wrong with you, since you need to resort to the worst of conspiracy theorizing to hold your view.

5.)  To act like this is something Catholics should just ignore because "it isn't of the faith" is just dumb.  It asserts that historical facts copiously documented by all parties involved should be placed on the same footing as the racist musings of crackpot historians.

6.)  Finally, internet traddies of the urine and vinegar wing, wondering why nobody outside of your little enclaves takes you seriously?  You guys are arguing over whether or not one can(or should) deny the Holocaust and still be Catholic.  The rest of us are too busy working on promoting the Latin Mass, actually teaching the Catholic Faith, and evangelizing.

If you've gotta talk about this crap, cut off your internet connection, go to the gym, and go to adoration, and preferably confession.  Other than this post, I'm done talking about this nonsense.


The Importance of Having Good Sources

Over at Patheos, Dawn Eden has done some good old fashioned investigative reporting.  The traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli has written some criticism of the Holy Father.  Some of it is fair play, some of it is a pretty bad foul, especially in the comboxes, of which I will say more in a bit.  In this criticism, they've relied upon the likes of one Marcelo Gonzalez.  He made the statement that then Cardinal Bergoglio was a "sworn enemy of the Traditional Mass", as well as stating the Cardinal was a demagoguge, known for associating himself with moral reprobates, and silent in opposing abortion and "weakly" opposing homosexual marriage.  Now Rorate, to their credit, walked back some of those criticisms, providing links to their own previous reporting which demonstrated that on the gay marriage front, this guy was talking total nonsense.  Enter Miss Eden's latest.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Making Sense of Tradition

After spending the past few posts outlining what tradition is, what it isn't, and why it matters, I would like to conclude with some general thoughts, and  how Catholics can have a discerning mind with these matters.

First, how does one know if we are dealing with Apostolic Tradition, when they aren't Church historians or theologians?  In this case, the simplest answer really is the correct one.  The Church is very clear on matters of Aposotolic Tradition.  On issues of Apostolic Tradition, the Church is protected by infallability.  We can have confidence that if the Catholic Church proclaims something as an Apostolic Tradition, it is an Apostolic tradition.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Crisis of the Confessional

As we move onto the Sacrament of Confession over at my weekly column at Catholic Lane, we start off by outlining the problem that faces the Church today when it comes to the sacrament of confession.

Expect at least 4 to 5 columns on this subject over the next month or two.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why Tradition Matters

After wrecking the Roman Rite for roughly two or three decades, Msgr. Annibale Bugnini wanted to make even further changes to the spiritual lives of Catholics.  His next "reform" was to radically alter the Rosary.  His proposal was firmly rejected by Pope Paul VI, and the reasoning behind it is the point of this column today.

Making an Idol of Tradition

In order to get a proper understanding of the role tradition plays within the life of the Catholic Church, we sometimes need to encounter some uncomfortable realities.  One of these is that sometimes, traditionalists (and sometimes all Catholics as well!) make an idol out of tradition.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Divine Mercy Sunday and the New Birth

This Sunday we celebrate what traditionally was known as either Low Sunday or Quasimodo Sunday.  In 2000, Blessed John Paul II decreed that Low Sunday would be known as Divine Mercy Sunday, promoting and recognizing the explosive growth of Catholic devotion towards Christ's mercy over the last 70 years.

According to the Diary of St. Faustina, Jesus wanted the feast after Easter to be known as Mercy Sunday. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why Traditionalists Have a Point

So there's been a ton of concern trolling about how bad traditionalists have looked over the whole footwashing issue, and how they really just need to pipe down.    Yet little noticed is how even if some might have reacted badly, there was a point behind it all.  This point was proved by Fr. Thomas Rosica of the Vatican's Press Office in a statement on Pope Francis' ignoring of established liturgical laws.  It is statements like this that make traditionalism so appealing.  I'd like to examine why. 

First, it speaks of the populist nature that is inherent in traditionalism.  According to Fr. Rosica, liturgical rubrics really just matter to experts instead of the faithful.  This kind of thinking is what led to the wasteland of the Post Vatican II era.  It essentially tells the Catholic faithful to keep their mouths shut, don't care about what is in the liturgy, just pray, pay, and obey.  This kind of age led to rampant liturgical abuse, and tracked in almost linear fashion with the decline of faith following the Council.  Blessed John Paul II admitted near the end of his pontificate that he allowed this attitude to fester way too much, and that it damaged far more than just the state of the liturgy.  It is for this reason that the work Redemptionis Sacramentum states the following:

On the contrary, it is the right of all of Christ’s faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms. Likewise, the Catholic people have the right that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass should be celebrated for them in an integral manner, according to the entire doctrine of the Church’s Magisterium. Finally, it is the Catholic community’s right that the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist should be carried out for it in such a manner that it truly stands out as a sacrament of unity, to the exclusion of all blemishes and actions that might engender divisions and factions in the Church.
 In the end, it doesn't really matter whether or not someone is a liturgical scholar or expert.  They still have an expectation of a liturgy according to the norms.

Dr. Edward Peters also touches on another problem with the statement:  it presents a separation between law and spirit which, quite frankly, isn't Catholic.  Quite the contrary, any authentic Catholic reform comes from a healthy obedience to laws and regulations concerning Catholic practice.  Religious orders were only restored via a return (in many cases a radical one) return to their rules and constitutions surrounding their following.  The beauty of the reform of the Counter-Reformation was how the Church shed those practices which led to the flouting of Church laws.  Once those laws were followed with greater frequency, general holiness flourished, the Church won converts, and some of the highest level of thought occurred.  Christ did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  Most of the calls for reform since the Council have followed the outline Fr. Rosica advocates, and the results have been by all accounts disastrous.  The reforms of the past two pontificates (more or less) rejected this mindset and the results have been far  better.  (Look at the young generation of priests and the overall beliefs of catholics who attend Mass regularly to see that their approach has succeeded.)  Not ideal (such an ideal is not possible this side of the eschaton), but positive.

These concerns aren't just the concerns of traditionalists, and I would argue that is what makes our way of doings things so appealing to many in light of this controversy.