Monthly Archives: August 2015

Against the secular age

Posted by Augustinus

The church needs more events like this: On Wednesday evening, October 7, 2015, Catholic gentlemen and women will raise a glass – and funds – for the Benedictine monks and monastery of Norcia.

See http://www.lumenchristiny.com/index.html

Presented by The Lumen Christi Association of New York: Pro Fide et Cultura, an organization devoted to the exploration and dissemination of cultural thinking in general and the restoration of Christian culture in particular.

The Lumen Christi Association of New York is a registered tax-exempt charitable organization with federal 501(c)(3) status. Donations in any amount can be made using PayPal or credit card, or mailing a check to 325 East 72nd Street, 14-A, New York, NY 10021

The two speakers will be: Mr. Ross Douthat, Catholic Author and Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times. Douthat will speak on Religion and the Fate of the West: Being Catholic in a Secular Age

And

Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B. will speak on Monastic Life in Norcia and the Restoration of Christendom – Worship, Work, and Art

 

Venue will be:

New York Athletic Club
180 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019

Price of Admission: $125
Men’s jacket required

 

 

The Joy of Assisi – Part 5

Two thousand years ago, the Romans excavated the side of a large hill in what is now, Umbria. They built a temple to Minerva halfway up the side of the mountain that gleamed in the sunlight and could be seen from across the entire valley.  As time passed, the temple became the center of a small town and eventually was incorporated into the community and transformed into a church.

IMG_1120

Thousands of years after the temple stood alone on the side of the hill, it remains the center of Assisi. As I sat on the worn, marble steps and put my hand on a marble column, I thought of St Francis playing here as a young boy. There was a time when he played on these ancient steps with no knowledge of the path that God had set in front of him. Now, I was blessed to share that space and realize how little I know of the future. I asked St Francis to join me as I prayed for God’s blessing.

The Joy of Assisi – Part 4

It is in the midst of simplicity that the pilgrim finds joy and peace. Just a few steps from our residence, I found the water fountain that would refill my bottle each day. The water was good and welcome in the high heat.

IMG_1879

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just on the other side of the fountain was the narrow walkway that connected Via San Paulo to Via San Francisco and halfway down the walkway stood a simple stone church with a small bell tower that has graced this spot for over a thousand years. In the photo, below, you see the point where the walkway seems to end and there you see a small section of roof peaking out from behind a tall tree. That is the Church of St Stephen.

IMG_1868

I rested in the little chapel on the several occasions when I had to climb this hill in the hot sun and I wondered how many pilgrims came before me and marveled at the raw rock walls and tiny Romanesque windows. I imagined how many others stopped to rest at this halfway point over the past millennium. This was clearly the oldest church in Assisi and certainly the most humble. St Francis would have liked it and probably there visited many times.

IMG_1146

I was blessed to attend Mass there and visit several times, but the time I remember the most was when I came in to rest and sat alone in the chapel as visitors passed by the doors in search of more famous places. For a thousand years this wonderful church shared it’s space with countless tired pilgrims, but for a few special minutes, it shared it’s space with me.

Christ or Chaos?

By Allan Gillis

It seems that it has fallen to me to bring the content of others to this site. I don’t necessarily mind finding gold that others have mined and bringing it to you, our dear readers. It is still gold.

I really respect Michael Matt and his Remnant TV/News organization.  Here is a salient bit of pleading on behalf of those who urge us all to think in terms of “Christ or Chaos” for the future as we watch our culture burning out of control.  I guess I’ll have to start a folder here titled “I couldn’t have said it better myself”!

Have the courage to watch this…  and be intellectually honest enough with yourself as a Roman Catholic to ask yourself: “Do I hear anything that I can really disagree with?”

 

Aphorisms on The Church and the Individual I

  1. Only the church can create a true individual. The saint is the only true individual. The opposite of the true individual is the groupmind or herd.
  2. I do not know if I would be more disturbed by a world filled of atheists or a world full of unchurched “spiritual”/religious people. Who is more deranged? The dogmatic materialist who insists that he is a mere robot without a “Self” or consciousness and that is OK by him OR the man who denies the personal God and insists on a universe populated with invisible and powerful supernatural beings who powerfully influence our freedoms and who we do not fully understand?
  3. It is equally outrageous to claim that supernatural agents exist and that nothing exists except dead matter for as far as our instruments can see …i.e. as far as the last outpost in the vast reaches of the known universe.
  4. The known universe is very likely a tiny, tiny fraction of the whole universe and our universe is but a tiny fraction of the arbitrarily large number of other universes that very likely ‘exist’.
  5. What is my suffering compared to the vast size of the known universe-never mind the infinite reaches of the multiverse?
  6. To bear suffering with humility, dignity and patience is the mark of a great soul and individual. To over-medicate suffering, deny it, fetishize it, embrace it, etc are all typical responses of the herd. Only the true individual or the personal can overcome suffering and the personal is inimical to the herd. The individual, the subjective, the personal measures up to the universe as the personal contains a universe.
  7. The herd opposes the personal. If you flatter the herd, you will puff it up and it will eventually turn on you and trample you into dust. If you attempt to befriend the herd it will treat you as one of its own, i.e. with contempt and then ignore you and eventually destroy you and itself. If you drive the herd with whip and lash into verdant pastures, it will live, cease to be a danger to itself and others and you yourself may prosper from it.
  8. Religion is the whip that controls the herd but it is also the force that makes true individuality, dominant individuality possible. The essence of religiosity lies in rulership. Rulership of oneself and others. That is why the monarchies of the past almost universally allied themselves with religion but always feared it and tried to control it. Monarchies began to die off when the institution of the divine kinship began to lose its force in Europe due to the reformation and wars of religion.
  9. Religious and scientific awe is the only proper response to life. Religious awe without scientific awe is not properly religious and scientific awe without religious awe is not properly scientific.
  10. When a member of the herd gets separated from the pack she likely feels shock, fear and awe. She becomes aware of other minds, agents, predators of super-natural proportions out there that she must face alone. To banish her terrors she proclaims either that all the minds out there are beneficent gods or she proclaims loudly that there are no supernatural agents out there at all…and no minds out there with powers larger than her own prey-like mental capacities…. But she cannot convince even herself of this whistling in the dark gambit…so she desperately tries to run with the herd again in order to submerge her fears in the crowd and to elevate her denunciations via the law of numbers…but her efforts are futile as the herd is funneled by its predators into a headlong rush off the nearest cliff.
  11. Anti-religion atheists are incapable of sensing anything in religion but a crutch for frightened children but they fail to see that they fail to see, they do not know that they do not know. They are like frightened children themselves who are trying to self-soothe back to sleep after a momentary awakening from a bad dream they themselves induced.
  12. It is possible to be an atheist without being anti-religion. Look at Santayana or most of the great autocrats of the enlightenment. The modern brand of militant atheism which presumptuously claims the mantle of science is a pale and pathetic echo of the atheism of the enlightened autocrat.
  13. The ‘religious” person or worse yet the “spiritual but not religious” person is incapable of sensing anything in religion but a balm for their weaknesses and ‘failings”. In this they agree with the militant atheists as well as the reformation protestant reformers.
  14. The political ideology of the herd, inherited from the bloodbath that was the 20th century, is that the victim is holy. Members of a herd can only grasp the concept of victim or prey as that is the thing they are most familiar with. They cannot conceive of being anything like a predator. Like all prey they fear being separated from the herd and falling prey to a tiger or wolf or hunter etc The all-seeing eye of the predator is that which most frightens the herd animal. Their fears shape and constrain the bounds of thinkable thoughts. So falling prey to a predator is the thing most to be avoided and feared and thus it is the thing most hated and feared. Victims are therefore hated and feared by the herd. To either deify or denigrate the prey-not the predator, the victim-not the hunter-this is the herd’s answer to suffering.
  15. Being designated an official victim yields enormous benefits in the world of the herd so every group, no matter how wealthy and influential it might be, attempts to portray itself the victim.
  16. The fact that there really are victims of unspeakable crimes does not negate the fact that the criminals can hold their victims in thrall long after the criminal event itself when the victims embrace the ideology of victimhood.
  17. Nietsche, Kierkegard and Scheler all understood the ideology of resentment and victimhood. Resentiment is the condition which embraces the role of victimhood and then attacks anything of excellence that threatens its benumbed complacency. Fear and hatred of the excellent is the essence of the demonic. Nevertheless, although we see false victims all around us who seethe with resentment the fact remains that there are real victims of innumerable injustices and these deserve our sympathies. Nietzsche and Scheler should have read Dostoyevsky more carefully.
  18. The mark of the true individual is loving compassion for others. Love is not some wilting sigh, dripping with compassion. It is an aggressive assertion of the true, the good, the excellent and the valuable. It is the mark of the absolute individual. Love and aggression are intimately related creative states. Love requires aggression against the herd, the swine incapable of appreciating the pearls lying at their feet.
  19. The ultimate, the unconditioned or God places an obligation on, or within each individual and this obligation is identical with the unique destiny of that individual. It comes in the form of desire and love. Love is destiny. Aggression is love’s instrument for attaining to its destiny.
  20. The ‘personal’ or unique individuality is unconditioned and indeterminate in the sense that it is uncaused and undetermined. The personal cannot be a member of a series because it is utterly unique and un-repeatable. The personal is not reducible to a standard 4 dimensional spatio-temporal instantiation as it has no determinant boundaries-at least in the vertical dimension. Its depths cannot be sounded or measured. The interiority of the personal is essentially limitless and its depths unfathomable. Its outward-looking axis is also limitless as its desires and aims are boundless and infinite.
  21. Love/aggression is the source and the essence of the personal. Love is free, and when directed at another individual, its true aim, it is unbounded and indeterminant. If you ask the lover how much he loves his beloved he will answer that his love has no bounds. If you ask a parent how much he loves his child he will answer that his love knows no bounds. The personal’s mode of operation, love, dis-regards cause and effect and is directed to the utterly unique; i.e. another individual. The lover is passionately interested in and committed to this utterly unique, wonderful (in his eyes at least) and very likely fallible and flawed individual-no other individual will do. Once love strikes it can be fulfilled only with that other individual. That is why I always suspected that the final verses of the Book of Job, where his lost children and wife are replaced by new ones, were interpolations not intended by the original author. When you are in love with someone you cannot replace the beloved with another and find fulfillment—never mind justice. If I lose a child having another child will not heal the wound left in my heart at the loss of the original child. Love, therefore begins in the personal and unique and finds fulfillment in the personal and unique. It starts in freedom and ends in freedom.
  22. Proof that religious sacrifice was an attempt to grasp the power of the personal, lies in the fact that the victims who were sacrificed were universally the divine Kings. Awareness of the dignity inherent in personhood thankfully prevented spread of human sacrifice. Religion as awareness of the rulership inherent in the personal began to decline when animal sacrifice began to replace human sacrifice as the primary religious act. With animal sacrifice religion degenerated into attempts to propitiate the deities or attempts to see the future…i.e. magic.
  23. Christianity provided a solution to the problem of the degeneration of the religious consciousness in the antique world by bringing back sacrifice of the divine king.
  24. The theologies of the reformation began to polemicize against the idea that the central Christian ritual of the Eucharist was a sacrifice. Thus began the decline of Christianity in the West.
  25. It is unclear whether philosophy can replace the role of religion in revealing the essence of the personal as its conceptions of the personal are too puny.
  26. If sacrifice of the divine King can no longer give the individual access to the personal then religions will generate a new way to attain to the absolute individual, to the personal, but that new way has not yet been revealed.
  27. Apocalyptical ideologies within all the major world religions all point to visions of hybrid human/divine beings who partially model possibilities concerning the absolute individual but most of these visions border on jibberish so the only remaining alternative is some combination of religion and philosophy.
  28. This is as I see it a major task of the church in the current age: to develop a vision of the absolute individual by steering the culture through the Scylla of the seductive but dangerous excesses of the fevered religious imagination on the one hand, and the Charybdis of the dangerous excesses of the nihilistic mechanical materialist on the other hand which would suck the individual into an fathomless whirlpool of nothingness.

 

I Couldn’t Have Said it Better Myself!

St Paul

By Allan Gillis

In the U.S., a 2014 Pew poll found that 57 percent of Catholics support gay marriage, including 75 percent of Catholics age 18 to 29 and even 45 percent of regular churchgoers. (In the same survey, 70 percent of Catholics said homosexuality should be accepted, including 60 percent of weekly churchgoers.) In April, a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found support for gay marriage among U.S. Catholics at 60 percent.
So, what’s up with my fellow American Catholics? This is the kind of statistical information on modern Catholicism that turns my guts.  I just want to throttle those who find themselves moved to defend the absolute degeneracy, corruption and depravity that has hobbled and stained our beloved Holy Mother Church.  The post Vatican II generations have been starved of liturgy AND catechesis!!! The statistics above confirm this!!!  Again I say; “lex orandi – lex credendi”!

I found a piece on the wonderful blog Rorate Caeli that I wish I had written. I couldn’t have said it better myself! I check this blog out regularly and I am regularly treated to some very well-written (even if translated into English) discourse that sometimes delights and sometimes infuriates me.   Here’s a taste:

“They were anticipating a new Church, and so they set about changing the Mass. They wanted a Church with new dogmas and new morality, so they had to tinker with the Catholic Mass and make it into a skeleton of itself. And a skeleton Mass corresponds to a skeletal Church, made up of skeletal dogma and morality.

We said this last month: the new liturgy presumed to skip two thousand years of Christian history, in the illusion of reconnecting to a mythical beginning of Christianity. The men of the post-council reform said that it was necessary to simplify [the Mass], so that the noble essence of the Catholic Rite would emerge. They believed effectively negative, all the Church’s work of centuries and centuries to make the Catholic Rite increasingly more limpid and edifying . They continued to eliminate and eliminate, retaining negative all that had been added [over the centuries] and a skeleton Mass was what emerged.

A Mass of empty things and the unsaid – empty things and the unsaid were then filled up by the fantasy of the celebrant and the faithful. And the fantasies have become as numerous as the churches in the world because it is obvious one cannot live off a skeleton: men fatten-up the skeleton, but the flesh and the blood are not of God, but usually that of the dictatorship of the mentality in vogue. So, according to the seasons, we have had socialist Masses, poetic masses, happy-clappy masses, wordy masses, catechesis Masses, healing Masses, Charismatic Masses, missionary Masses, quick Masses and so on and so forth. In short – you can construct the Mass so that it matches you and your Christianity. A Mass so impoverished no longer gave nourishment, and so it became necessary to turn to the various ideologies in vogue to fatten it up. By eliminating much that was due to God, the Mass had to be filled by the things of men, so that it could still be considered of some use: a tragedy [which amounts to] the loss of the Catholic heart, that is to say, the redeeming work of Christ Crucified.

And the tragedy has been propagated right through the entire Catholic organism: the new skeletal Mass, filled of empty things, has become so ambiguous so as to produce a skeletal Christianity, skeletal dogma and morality: the result: ambiguous Catholicism.”

Whoa!  baby!   …and he’s just getting started!

I will also say this; I believe that there were (and are) men in high places in The Church that intended exactly this state of affairs we as Catholics find ourselves in today. I also agree with Radicati Nella Fede…  the newsletter of the Catholic community of Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy (from where this piece emanates – tho’ originally offered in Italian but translated for us by Francesca Romana) .  There, they warn us that the future Pope to actually turn things around will most likely face martyrdom.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us!

please read the rest over there:

http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/08/radicati-editorial-new-mass-skeletal.html

Full Conscious Participation

By Augustinus

A couple of years ago I and my then five year old daughter went to another town to the Sunday 10:30 mass because I had heard that it was a kid-friendly mass and because a friend of mine sang/played in the choir. When we lived near Boston my daughter and I would to go to Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden where there was a kid friendly mass at 9AM. They had a girls’ choir that sang at the front of the church and it was made up of girls between 4 and 14! They sang beautifully and my daughter loved singing with them. In addition when it came time for the homily the priest or a deacon would invite all the children to come up near the altar and sit down and then he would preach to them and to the congregation by telling simple but profound stories. To this day my daughter still remembers parts of the Gloria because she remembers how it was sung by the choir.

I was not aware until recently that there were special readings for so-called children’s masses. As far as I can tell the mass at this new church we were visiting did not use these rubrics. In any case I will describe the experience of the mass below with a special focus on how the parish facilitated “full, conscious, and active participation.”—something mandated by Vatican II.

My daughter and I sat near the front and center. I noticed that there were seats and places reserved for infirmed people and it soon turned out that people in wheelchairs arrived to take their places near the aisle seats and I was happy to see that. The church itself was beautiful. It was probably built 100 or so years ago as it retained some ornate decorations and paintings on the ceilings and walls. There was a beautiful baptismal font at the front right of the church and the tabernacle was just behind it. There were scenes from Mary’s and Christ’s life painted all round the altar and the altar itself was stone or marble and set in the center of a raised platform. The stations of the cross were elaborate bas relief sculptures set around the church. The stained glass windows looked old but beautiful. There were statues of the Virgin and Christ and a few saints. All in all a very beautiful church.

By the time mass was to begin the place was full…although I could not see all the way back to the rear. But there were definitely a lot of people and that was a happy sight as well. And they were families. Not just elderly people but families. This alone indicates some amount of active participation in this parish.

All of a sudden the ‘choir’ began a song. This was no ordinary choir. There were 2 guitars, a piano and several singers, mostly woman with beautiful voices. The song was pop, upbeat and with a catchy phrase. I have had many bad experiences with guitars at mass but this was tasteful and well done. The female voices elevated the quality of the song beyond pop.

The entrance procession was from the rear. A female acolyte carried the cross, then deacon, lectors and Eucharistic ministers and then the priest, all of them singing the song. When they reached the altar all went to their preassigned places, the priest and the deacon kissed the altar and then stood at their chairs off to the side. The song ceased and the priest began: “In the name of the Father…” then the greeting and then another song: the Gloria done in pop style. Again it was upbeat but it was tasteful and well done.

Next an acolyte held a missal for the priest who read the collect and all in the congregation then said Amen. This Amen and similar responses by the congregation is a sign of full, conscious and active participation by the laity according to the General Instruction. Then the priest and deacon sat and the whole congregation sat down to listen to the Word of God.

The readings were done at the ambo by a reader/lector. The people responded ‘Thanks be to God’ after each reading. A moment of silence was observed throughout the congregation after each reading. The responsorial psalm was sung by the choir with the people singling along the ‘refrain’.

After the psalm was sung the lector sat down and then the choir struck up an alleluia in preparation for the gospel reading. All the people sang along, again indicating participation. When it came time for the gospel reading the Deacon took the missal and held it over his head and processed across the front of the altar. I seem to remember him saying something like its time to listen to the word of God. ..but it was dignified. The book was treated with extraordinary reverence and I had not seen that at other masses.

Then came time for the Homily. The priest asked all the kids in the congregation to come forward and they all did including my daughter. The priest said a few words to the kids and then two ladies brought them down stairs where they were given arts and crafts things to do. When they brought the kids back after the homily it turns out my daughter had made a three leaf clover to signify the Trinity. And I thought that was good.

The homily was well done. The priest started with a joke but then taught basic Catholic dogma and reflected on the gospel reading.

After the Homily the Profession of Faith was said aloud by the entire congregation. I was glad it was not sung. My daughter likes me to pick her up when everyone recites the creed and she watches everyone speak the same words with awe. Again this recitation by all the people is a form of participation.

Next came the ‘Lord hear our prayer’ petitions or the universal prayer. The congregation has some special prayers for persons who had died etc

Next came the collection. This is my kid’s favorite part of the mass! She makes a big deal of putting the money into the basket correctly and she beams with pride once it is done.

During the collection I do not recall people bringing up the gifts to the altar but they may have. After the priest placed the bread and wine on the altar a server brought up a towel and water holder; the priest washed and dried his hands then looked over the congregation and said ‘Pray brothers and sisters that this our sacrifice…” We all replied Amen. Then “the priest invited us to lift up our hearts and we replied lifted up them up to the Lord etc . This again is participation. Then the priest said the Eucharistic prayer.

I noticed that during the Eucharistic prayer we adults were kneeling and praying intently. Although we were all quiet it seems to me that this was the point where participation reached its maximum at this mass. During the Institution narrative and later all in the congregation grew silent as we heard ‘This is my body given up for you’ etc

I myself can often sense the Lord’s presence at this point in the mass. We who are kneeling and listening to the words of consecration offer ourselves up to the Lord along with the Immaculate Victim Christ. This form of participation is consistent with article 48 of Sacrosanctum Consilium (SC):

“The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator, they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all.”

Full, active, conscious participation therefore reaches its peak when we offer ourselves along with Christ to the Father and this is participation in the paschal mystery.

Near the end of the Eucharistic prayer the priest and the Deacon raised the host and chalice and said in unison: ‘Through him with him and in him…’

After the Eucharistic prayer we all stood up for the Lord’s prayer. Many held hands. Offering each other the sign of peace came next and my daughter shakes hands with anyone she can—especially other kids. She makes everyone smile! (even me)

Next came the Lamb of God prayer. I love the Agnus Dei and wish it would be sung at this point in every mass. I watched intently as the priest broke the bread with Deacon standing by.

The other peak of participation was being nourished at the Lord’s table thereby entering into union with God. At this mass communion was given under both kinds. After I received the sacred host I also imbibed the cup offered to me and everyone by a server. Although the General Instruction states that all of the servers who help with communion services need to receive the hosts and the cup from the priest I do not believe that that is what happened. I think servers walked up to the altar and took a plate but I can’t be sure if I remember this phase correctly.

Communion took a relatively long time as most people received. The lines were long and I was delighted to see that. The choir sang two different songs-and the woman’s voices were beautiful.

After communion and the song ended the priest cleaned up the altar and then sat head bowed in silence. So did all of us. Then the priest stood up blessed us all and the deacon said the mass is ended go in peace to love and serve the Lord and then they both kissed the altar and the entire group of servers, acolytes, lectors and cross bearers processed out to the front of church where they then greeted parishioners leaving the mass.

Clearly in the modern rite there are many overt opportunities for full, conscious participation. So then why do I feel distracted at these masses? Although I love the modern rite mass I feel that I need to perform for others at the modern rite masses. I need to offer them a sign a peace. I need to sing along with them. I need to verbally recite the responses throughout the mass. I need to do all kinds of publicly observable things at a modern mass. That is not the case at the latin rite mass. While there are a couple of et cum spirito tuos…mostly I kneel and pray along with the priest at a Latin mass. When attending the Latin rite I feel as if I am doing full conscious participation as well—perhaps even more as there are more opportunities for silent prayer. All attention is focused on the altar of sacrifice—not the priests or the servers or the other people attending the mass as is the case in the modern rite. As for kid’s masses I am all for them but I think that it is much better for children to attend a solemn Latin Tridentine type mass….as children need to be exposed to awe and mystery rather than the other attendees at mass. Actually children need both—they need the awe and mystery of the Latin rite mass as well as the full active, conscious participation of the modern mass. I love both the modern rite and the Latin rite but I achieve full conscious participation in the rite only at the Latin mass as there are no distractions there. Nevertheless I need both forms. The division in the church between the modernists and the traditionalists feels reconciled within me.

 

Acknowledgement: This piece is excerpted and modified from a longer work by Augustinus submitted to St Joseph’s College in 2012