Category Archives: Vatican II

I’m NOT Uncomfortable With This…Should I Be?

A view of the SSPX – from the Occidental Observer – this will frighten some, annoy many and cause many more to – at least – raise their eyebrows:

An Appraisal of the SSPX from the Viewpoint of White Advocacy

Karl Nemmersdorf

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is a priestly fraternity founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was one of the very few bishops to oppose the modern innovations imposed on the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). The SSPX does not have a sanctioned, official position within the Church, but it vehemently opposes any attempt to characterize it as “schismatic,” or opposed to basic and lawful Church authority. Its self-imposed mission is to preserve the kernel of the Church free from corruption, specifically the Latin Mass and the ordination of priests, and thus keep alive the old paths that produced millions of holy men and women.

The SSPX knows that enemies have infiltrated the Church—modernists, Jews, freemasons, and homosexuals—and have accomplished a profound and tragic transformation of the old Faith (see “The role of Jewish converts to Catholicism in changing traditional Catholic teachings on Jews“). Pope Francis with his leftist activism is not an isolated phenomenon, but simply the culmination of this maleficent penetration of the Church. It is crucial to understand that the Church we see today—wimpy and liberal—is emphatically not the Church of old. That Church is long gone, but a remnant perpetuates the old no-nonsense, masculine traditions. The SSPX is that remnant, along with patches of conservatism here and there in the New Church.

We must distinguish between the SSPX and its followers. The SSPX, strictly speaking, consists only of the priests and its few bishops. These priests offer Mass for many faithful (“traditional Catholics”), who are often mistaken for “members” of the SSPX. In this essay I will, however, sometimes lump priests and laity together under that term, or simply, “the Society.”

The SSPX is a very positive movement for Whites for several reasons. Perhaps the most important is that Society families produce White children at a rate virtually unknown anywhere in the contemporary West. The SSPX and its faithful make up one of the very few vital bodies in the entire West. By “vital,” I mean a body that is full of life and energy, from the Latin vita, “life.” And isn’t that what Whites need above all else? Life? Descendants? White children? What other group in America is “vital” in this sense? What other group in the U.S., apart from Mormons, and Mennonites, is producing large numbers of White children?

Another major service provided by the Society is standing firm against the agenda of Pope Francis. This includes his scandalous love affair with “migrant” Muslims (who would like nothing more than to execute him and turn St. Peters into a mosque), his espousal of the global warming agenda—and thus the globalist agenda—and his tragic failure to uphold sexual morality. In the latter sphere, he has left the Church fatally vulnerable to the LGBT agenda and (with his document Amoris Laetitia), those who attack the institution of marriage. Since the Church was the last real bulwark against the disastrous reign of loose morals, this leaves the West even further lacking in the sorts of social supports needed for a healthy, productive society.[1] The SSPX by its mere existence represents a standing rebuke to the agenda of Pope Francis, and stands almost alone in the Catholic world working to counteract the mad program of Francis. This alone should earn the gratitude of those who love the West.

In the U.S., there are only about 20,000 people who attend SSPX Masses; traditional Catholics are not numerous. Yet, the SSPX is much more important than its numbers might indicate, for the simple reason that it carries on the traditions of the ancient Western cult. The Catholic faith was the original cultus of our High Culture and “has had a vital role in the development of the West.” The Catholic Church was not a wimpy or egalitarian social force. It was a muscular entity that united everyone under a reassuring canopy of dogma and sacrament; it had a major role in holding the West together in the face of the Muslim onslaught. Often it was the only entity that considered Europe as a whole, the only force rising above the often petty contentions of individual princedoms. The Catholic West conducted many wars against Islam, and all of them were summoned by the Popes. The Church became a handmaid of the Left only in the past fifty years.

I know the SSPX well; I have attended SSPX masses for almost twenty years. I returned to the Church when I was in my mid-thirties, when I thought I was well on my way to eternal bachelorhood. But then I fell in love with a young Catholic girl, and we proceeded to marry and have six children, and may have more. I and my family now live in one of the biggest SSPX parishes in the world, with over thirty-seven hundred souls. I must say, the Faith has been a boon to me in affording me the chance at marriage and a family, but it also rescued me from behavior that would have introduced me to an early grave. Religious faith has many benefits.

Before I discuss race, some prefatory comments are in order. My personal view is that all men are descended from a common ancestor, and are thus brothers. All possess certain innate rights and are due proper justice and respect. My thoughts here coincide with, and are informed by, Catholic teaching. It seems to me we can all agree on these basic points. I do not view White nationalism as incompatible with Catholic charity or justice whatsoever, at least if one defines White nationalism as implying that races naturally come into too much conflict when mixed and would thrive from division into separate nation-states.

The idea that “charity begins at home” also does not conflict with Catholic teaching. We naturally love what is closer to us, family, then neighbors, and less so as one moves outward (also Catholic doctrine). Whites certainly can—and should—assist other Whites or fellow citizens before helping outsiders. This does not rule out charity for other nations or races, but it does place the emphasis squarely on helping those who are closer. (“America First!”) The “pathological altruism” of the modern West stems from suicidal liberalism, not Catholic teaching: “Christianity has not had a consistent message of ethnic suicide or moral universalism.”

The Catholic position on human “equality” also deserves a few words, since it is a central political and social concern. Many believe that “Christian” egalitarianism has been a major cause of the decline of the West. Catholic teaching, however, holds that men are equal only in that they have a common human nature (body and soul) and a common end (fulfillment in God). This concept of equality is largely spiritual; when men operate in society, inequality of ability and achievement quickly becomes evident. Catholic teaching always understood and accepted this. Pope Leo XIII wrote,

There naturally exist among mankind manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such inequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community. Social and public life can only be maintained by means of various kinds of capacity … (from the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum)

Pope St. Pius X stated,

Human society as God established it, is composed of unequal elements . . . to make them all equal is impossible, and would be the destruction of society itself  . . . Consequently it is conformable to the order established by God, that in human society there should be princes and subjects, masters and [workmen], rich and poor, learned and ignorant, nobles and plebeians . . . (E. Cahill, The Framework of a Christian State, p. 289)

It is Communism and its evil twin, the liberal democratic/globalist regime, that have strived to crush and level Western man, not the Catholic Church. The Church always upheld social and political hierarchy.

With these fundamental questions addressed, we proceed. Racially, the SSPX faithful in the U.S. are overwhelmingly White. There is a sizeable number of Hispanics, and a few blacks and Asians, but the Whites must amount to about ninety percent of the whole, if not more. Being Catholic, the Society is cosmopolitan (it has churches worldwide) and there is admittedly some race mixing. I have seen a handful of White-Filipino or White-Asian marriages, and a few White-black. The mixing is on a small scale, but the Society (like the old Church) is amenable to it. White Nationalists might sneer at these facts, but intermarriage will remain a minor matter in the SSPX. It does nothing to alter the fact that the SSPX brings large numbers of White children into the world. Intermarriage, I think, hits a raw nerve today largely because of the race crisis brought on by mass immigration. Absent this dangerous situation, we might look upon the occasional interracial marriage as a curious novelty, not as a pang to the heart and a loss of precious genes. We might.

The state of marriages and families among the SSPX faithful is—make no mistake—sometimes less than ideal. The faithful exist in various stages of conforming to the Catholic faith, and there is much ignorance. There are some broken marriages and badly raised children. The faithful (many of whom are converts) have had to go through the process of tearing themselves away from extreme feminism, hedonism, and other mindsets of the modern and postmodern world. It is an extremely difficult process, and many are only in the early stages of making the break.

Yet fruitful marriages abound. The portion of SSPX faithful who marry is far above the present rate in the U.S. Only fifty percent of adults in the United States are married, as opposed to seventy-two percent in 1960, a drastic decline of over thirty percent. The rate among Society faithful, I think, meets or exceeds the 1960 U.S. rate. Very few become priests or nuns; the great majority “commit matrimony,” as the priests jest. And once married, something magical happens. These couples are open to having as many children as possible. It is a remarkable phenomenon. The women willingly accept this calling, and they do so with pride. When SSPX couples meet, one of the first questions is always, “how many children do you have?” The happiness of the parents is evident.

There is also a very low rate of illegitimacy, almost certainly less than three percent, when the White rate in America is now approaching thirty percent. This protects children (and mothers) from a wide range of bad social outcomes.

In my large parish, families of ten or twelve children are common. There are at least two families with eighteen kids. The birth rate in the Society is about three times greater than in the U.S. as a whole. (Using some rough calculations, I estimated the birth rate—births per 1,000 women of childbearing age—in the Society at about 170, while the U.S. White birth rate is 60. That would make it 2.83 times greater, but I have a hard time believing the number is not closer to 4.) Whatever it may be, the begetting of the next generation is the sine qua non of the race, and traditional Catholics are tackling the job splendidly. I would challenge you, dear reader: how many children have you given the White race?

The crucial bottleneck here is finding women willing to contract permanent marriages and have children. It is hard enough to find a woman willing to get married and have any children. That is the great value of the SSPX. In the Society there are many young White women eager to marry and have as many children as they can. Try finding that anywhere else. They are willing to marry outside the faith, too, as long as their partner converts. Say it with me, “Whites need to have more children.” With the Catholic solution to fertility introduced here, I might ask, is the survival of the race worth going to Mass? It might come down to that.

Then there is the training of children. People in the SSPX know that children need to be trained, guided, formed. This awareness seems to be utterly lacking in the U.S. as a whole. The mere sight of modern children makes it painfully obvious that their parents have never given a thought to their training. Look at the children you see in public. They yell, throw themselves around, and make yowling demands upon their parents, demands that are usually met with parental submission. This is not normal, my friends. SSPX parents rarely permit their kids to grow up with such a sense of entitlement. Self-control is a byword for traditional Catholics, and much thought is given to child-rearing.

This training in self-discipline is absolutely crucial. No one who lacks self-control can accomplish anything of importance. Thus, traditional Catholic parents not only have the children, they are also raising them to be productive members of society.

SPXX families also raise their children almost wholly shielded from the worst monstrosities of the modern world, such as promoting homosexuality, transgenderism, and feminism. Parents foster good moral health. For Catholics, homosexuality has always been a horror, “the sin that dare not speak its name”; enough said about it. Traditional gender roles are emphasized quite thoroughly, both in the home and in the schools. There is a real emphasis on giving boys free rein for their natural masculinity, and they glory in it. Traditional girls’ roles are a bit harder to inculcate (although some families excel at it). Women are less enthusiastic and less knowledgeable about this type of training. Extreme forms of feminism have so permeated modern society that many men and women of the Society are not aware that they hold such views. Nevertheless, this does not prevent the women from fulfilling their roles as mothers of large families. And really, who cares what they think if they fulfil this duty?

Families, schools, and priests in the Society all foster an appreciation for Western Culture. The traditions of the West in music, art, literature, and philosophy are valued, taught, and assimilated. How many schools or colleges in America can say that? This emphasis on Western culture is not necessarily conscious, but it exists. And that is enough. When was the creation of the great works ever completely conscious?

The Society teaches the duty of patriotism. Traditional Catholics are truly patriotic and many serve in the military. In general they participate dutifully in the political process and stay informed on the issues. (They work with the democratic process, which in my youthful rage I spurned; who was right?) Many men in the Society see the world in ways similar to the viewpoint of White Nationalism, especially concerning the immivasion crisis and the dominance of the hostile elite.

At a time when the public schools operate as a vast, sinister project indoctrinating students in all the current paths of social dissolution favored by the hostile elite, at least some fraction of young men and women will be able to begin their adult lives free from this complex of depravities. Thanks to the SSPX.

There is much evidence that the practice of religion benefits individuals and society. By raising young adults in a religious tradition, the SSPX benefits society as a whole.

Politically, the SSPX knows as well as anyone in the modern West the danger posed by the Jewish influence and the Islamic invasion. The Catholic Church was the only solid defense the West ever enjoyed against Jewish influence.“With the political success of the Church, society as a whole became organized around a monolithic, hegemonic, and collectivist social institution defined by its opposition to Judaism.”  In 1910, during the papacy of Pius X, the Catholic Encyclopedia described the causes of anti-Semitism as follows:

 

  • The deep and wide racial difference between Jews and Christians which was, moreover, emphasized by the ritual and dietary laws of Talmudic Judaism;
  • the mutual religious antipathy which prompted the Jewish masses to look upon the Christians as idolaters, and the Christians to regard the Jews as the murderers of the Divine Saviour of mankind, and to believe readily the accusation of the use of Christian blood in the celebration of the Jewish Passover, the desecration of the Holy Eucharist, etc.;
  • the trade rivalry which caused Christians to accuse the Jews of sharp practice, and to resent their clipping of the coinage, their usury, etc.;
  • the patriotic susceptibilities of the particular nations in the midst of which the Jews have usually formed a foreign element, and to the respective interests of which their devotion has not always been beyond suspicion. (See “The Church and anti-Semitism—Again.”)

 

The Church often kept strict controls upon the Jews. However, as a result of the Enlightenment and liberal ideas, the nations awarded the Jews a citizenship and political equality. This opened wide the social and political spheres to the Jews, and they rushed in and got to work. This happened only in the states that had thrown out the Catholic Church. On this topic, one of the innovations of the New Church the Society rejects is Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II statement that retreated significantly from the old militant Catholic view of the Jews. (This document also features this gem: “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems.”) The SSPX preserves this old wisdom, with the result that it features prominently on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website. A badge of honor.

To sum up, the Society of St. Pius X will never be a frank ally of White Nationalism. The Church shies away, in charity, from probing too deeply into the race question; after all, its kingdom is not of this world. However, despite whatever reservations one may have about the Catholic faith or teachings, traditional Catholics are doing the arduous work that Whites all across the West (and White Nationalists) should be doing, but all too often are not: begetting and training the next generation of Whites. For that, the SSPX deserves gratitude and respect.

Brought to you by Allan Gillis

Divergent Political Models in the Two “Forms” of the Roman Rite

…a delicious morsel found by Allan Gillis while perusing the New Liturgical Movement blogsite!

Isn’t it wonderful to find an article that so profoundly communicates exactly what one feels and has hitherto never been able to articulate?!

Divergent Political Models in the Two “Forms” of the Roman Rite

Peter Kwasniewski

 

A reviewer of my book Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017) made a point that got me thinking. He said that while he agreed with my critique of the Novus Ordo and himself preferred the traditional rite, he thought I should have wrestled more with the fact that there are flourishing religious congregations exclusively reliant on the Novus Ordo. He cited the Missionaries of Charity and the Nashville Dominicans as examples. Clearly, these communities are full of fervent disciples of the Lord who are nourished from the liturgy of Paul VI, so it cannot be the case that this liturgy is “all bad,” so to speak.

Now, apart from the fact that I have never argued and never would argue that the Novus Ordo is “all bad” (something that would be metaphysically impossible, in any case), I welcome this observation as an opportunity to think more closely about how exactly this phenomenon may be explained.

Such religious communities are bringing to the liturgy a spiritual disposition that enables them to benefit from the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist — a disposition they are not necessarily developing from the liturgy as such. The Novus Ordo can be fruitful for those who already have a fervent and well-ordered interior life, built up by other means; but for those who do not, it will offer few pegs on which to climb up. In this respect it is unlike the traditional liturgy, which has within itself enormous resources for enkindling and expanding the interior life.

One might make a political comparison to elucidate this point. The basic philosophical problem with the American regime is not that a good use cannot be made of its political institutions, but that they presuppose a virtuous citizenry in order to work at all. Time and time again, the American Founding Fathers say things like: “As long as the people are virtuous, they can govern themselves with these mechanisms.” But the aims of government do not include producing a virtuous citizenry; this is seen as above and beyond the government’s limited scope. Government is supposed to act like a police officer who regulates the flow of traffic; it is assumed that people know how to drive and basically drive well.

The traditional view, as we find it for instance in Pope Leo XIII’s social encyclicals, is that government has a God-given responsibility for the moral and spiritual welfare of the people, and must lead them to the observance of the natural law and dispose them as well as possible to the observance of the divine law. In this model, the government is more like a parent, teacher, and counselor who knows what the human good is and actively fosters the attainment of it by as many citizens as possible. This is why, for Leo XIII, a good government will necessarily involve the Catholic Church in educating the citizens of the regime, so that they may have the best possibility of developing virtues. Virtue does not develop spontaneously or accidentally.

The liturgical parallel is not hard to see. The Novus Ordo is like the American government. It is an orderly structure or framework within which free activity can take place, but it does not specify or dictate in a rigorous way how that activity ought to be pursued. It is like the benign and neutral policeman — a certain precondition for peace, but not the representative and spokesman of peace. The minimal rubrics function like boundaries on a sports field. The people who attend are assumed to know how to pray, how to “participate actively” (as if this is at all evident!), and how to be holy. They come to display and demonstrate what is already within them.

The traditional liturgy, in contrast, forthrightly adopts the attitude of parent, teacher, and counselor. It assumes that you are in a dependent position and must be shaped in your spirituality, molded in your thoughts, educated in your piety. Its rubrics are numerous and detailed. The liturgy knows exactly what you need in terms of silence, chant, prayers, antiphons, and it delivers them authoritatively, in a way that emphasizes the liturgy’s own perfection and your receptivity. The traditional liturgy establishes a standard of virtue and makes the worshiper conform to it. It does not presuppose that you are virtuous.

This helps to explain the intentionally Protean adaptability of the modern liturgical rites, in their optionitis and spectrum of artes celebrandi. Moderns don’t really think there can be a fixed and virtuous liturgy that should form them into its image. As heirs of the Enlightenment that enthroned human reason as king and assumed a supposedly rational control over all aspects of society, moderns feel they need to be in some way in charge of the liturgy. It has to have options to accommodate us in our pluralism.

In this way the Novus Ordo betrays its provenance in a democratic and relativistic age, in stark contrast with the traditional liturgy that was born and developed entirely in monarchical and aristocratic eras (and this, of course, by Divine Providence, since God knew best what human beings needed, and ensured that the rites would embody it). Even if one wished to say, for the sake of argument, that secular society is better off democratized — a claim that would seem counterintuitive, to say the least, especially if one could canvas the opinions of the countless millions of victims of abortion murdered under the free regimes of the Western world — one must nevertheless maintain as a matter of principle that the divine liturgy, being from and for the King of kings and Lord of lords, cannot be democratized without ceasing to exist. It must remain monarchical and aristocratic in order to remain divine liturgy, as opposed to a self-derived human patriotism.

If you are that fortunate person who has a robustly developed life of faith, whether from a Protestant upbringing prior to your conversion, or frequent attendance at adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or a constant and childlike Marian devotion, you bring all of this fullness with you when you attend the Novus Ordo, and you fill the relative emptiness of the liturgical form with that fullness. In this case, your fullness (so to speak) meets Christ’s fullness in the Eucharist, and there is a meeting of minds and a marriage of souls. This, it seems to me, could be what is happening with those aforementioned religious communities that are flourishing in spite of the defects of the Novus Ordo as a lex orandi, in its anthropological assumptions, theological content, and aesthetic form.

With the traditional Mass, it is different. It produces an awareness of the interior life that is the first step to a more profound interior conversion. It contains ample Eucharistic adoration within it, and so, it feeds this hunger of the soul and intensifies it to the point that it overflows beyond the confines of the liturgy. Its spirituality is Marian through and through, so it tends to lead souls to Our Lady, who is waiting for them there. In every way, this Mass is actively calling into being a mind for worship and a heart for prayer; it carves out a space in the soul to fill it full of Christ. It does not presuppose that you are at that point, but pulls and draws you there, due to its confident possession of the truth about God and man. It is not leaning on you to supply it with force or relevance; it is not waiting for you to be the active party. It is inherently full and ready to act upon you, to supply you with your meaning. And paradoxically, it does all this through not being focused on you, your problems, your potentialities. It works because it is so resolutely and bafflingly focused on the Lord.

There is an irony here, inasmuch as the didacticism of the Novus Ordo seems to be aimed at explaining and eliciting certain acts of religion, while the usus antiquior seems to take for granted that one knows what to do. But in reality, the new rite’s didacticism interferes with the free exercise of these acts of religion, and the usus antiquior‘s “indifference” to the attendees more subtly challenges them to build new interior habits proportioned to the earnestness and intensity of the liturgical action. By attempting to provide for the worshiper everything he “needs,” the modern rite fails to provide the one thing needful: an unmistakeable sense of encounter with the ineffable mystery of God, whom no words of ours can encompass, whom no actions of ours can domesticate. The usus antiquior knows better, and therefore strives to do both less and more — less, by not leading children by the apron strings of a school teacher; more, in terms of calling into being new ascetical-mystical capacities that depend radically on a fixed and dense “regimen” of prayer, chant, and bodily gestures. “I have run the way of thy commandments, when thou didst enlarge my heart” (Ps 118:32). In this domain, the old rite shows us that (if we may paraphrase a contemporary author) space is greater than time. Having a capacious and symbolically dense space within which to “play” is of greater benefit, in the long run, than spending an hour doing verbal exercises in the confines of a modern classroom.

These differences, which play out in ways both subtle and obvious, cannot fail to have an impact on priestly and religious vocations and on the manner in which various communities understand their relationship to worship and contemplation.

Glad-Handing at Holy Mass?

Allan Gillis brings you this from The Remnant:

On the Sign of Peace

  Written by  Michael Warren Davis

A right-minded friend recently told me about a campaign of (shall we say?) nonviolent resistance undertaken by an Anglophone remnant following Vatican II: after the priest intoned, ‘The Lord be with you,’ they would shout, ‘Et cum spiritu tuo!

I’m all for cheeky traditionalism. In fact, we need much more of it. Think of the thousands upon thousands of souls who’ve been formed by great Catholic wits – be it the levitous Chesterton, the acidic Waugh, or the droll Newman. Ours is an uncontrollably joyful faith. Yet we know that underneath it all is a deadly seriousness, too. Think of Saint Lawrence, who mocked his torturers as they roasted him on a spit. ‘Turn me over,’ he teased; ‘This side’s done.’ That’s our greatest example. In the fight to restore the fulness of Faith, we must be solemn, but never dour – humble, not shy.


By my reckoning, the most dangerous inversion of the traditional Mass is the so-called Sign of Peace. It marks the post-VII Church’s most aggressive rejection of the Early Fathers. We gather to witness the sacrifice of Our Lord on the altar, falling on our knees as the priest calls God Himself down from Heaven. This happens every hour of every day, as it has done for millennia. Without exaggeration, it’s the single most important event in the history of the world.

Maybe after 2,000 years we’ve come to take it for granted, because the Peace in the new Roman Rite amounts to nothing but a distraction. Instead of being engrossed by the miracle of transubstantiation – humbled and awed by the love of a God who died the cross to redeem our sins and feed our souls with His own precious body – we mill around the pews making pleasantries.

Dei gratia, those of us who live near a parish that uses the traditional form are spared this rude interruption. But what about those who don’t? Or if we want to attend a weekday Mass, which are rarely said in Latin? And what if we’re invited to a Novus Ordo funeral, wedding, baptism, first communion, or confirmation? My suggestion – and it’s only a suggestion – is this: when you kneel at the beginning of the consecration, resolve in your own mind not to stand until it’s time to approach the altar and receive the Sacrament.

Now, there are certainly reasons why this could prove dangerous. It might foster feelings of spiritual pride. It may sow malicious disobedience to Mother Church. And then there’s the fact that it’s just plain embarrassing. But the sad irony is that traditionalists reject the Novus Peace precisely because it lays out all these spiritual perils. It diverts our focus from the altar. It trivialises the great gift given to the Church by her Bridegroom: the power to summon Him in sacred matter. And it draws our attention back to ourselves, the people – attention that should be given solely and completely to the Lord of Hosts. What could be unseemlier?

Yet it can be overcome. Just be cognizant of the risk, and remember why you’re undertaking them. Shut your eyes tight and bow your head. Meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation. Pray ‘O sacrament most holy…’ Adore Christ, who offers Himself as our spiritual food. And, for God’s sake, smile! If you look down (or, I suppose, up) your nose at those turning to offer you the Peace, grumbling and frowning, that profits neither you nor them. Besides, this your salvation we’re talking about. Where can a man find true, soul-shuddering delight if not here?

The Early Fathers, in their wisdom, asked us for this one brief moment to turn our hearts and minds completely toward the Altar, at the moment Heaven and Earth intersect. Waugh himself wrote in The Catholic Herald that what most affected his conversion was:

the spectacle of the priest and his server at low Mass, stumping up to the altar without a glance to discover how many or how few he had in his congregation; a craftsman and his apprentice; a man with a job which he alone was qualified to do.

‘Waugh’s love of the Tridentine rite was not a matter of loving the solemn splendour of a high Mass,’ writes Francis Phillips, also in the Herald; ‘it was simply the priest’s humble absorption in the rite of a low Mass.’ Low or high, modest or majestic, that ‘humble absorption’ is the quintessence of the traditional form. And it should be true of the laity as well as the clergy. What could be more inappropriate to that end than this mini-coffee hour wedged into the middle of the Liturgy of the Eucharist?

Heaven knows this is nothing against the Peace in itself. But throughout the pre-VII history of the Roman Rite, it was only offered among the clergy. Even in the Ambrosian Rite, it’s given immediately after the Liturgy of the Word. Placing it mid-consecration was unprecedented, and evident of some overtly Protestant influence. It reduces the Eucharist to a meal – a ‘memorial supper’ as Zwingli taught. That’s the same corrupt understanding that leads to female ‘Extraordinary Ministers’ in tank-tops and jeans dropping the Host in people’s hands, which they peel off their sweaty palms and pop in their mouths like potato chips. (God help us.)

But, just as we’re always free to receive the Eucharist from a priest on the tongue, so too are we free to remain immersed in the holy mystery throughout. And by staying loyal to the example set by the Fathers, we can share their example with others. Even in the midst of a Novus Mass, we can encourage others in a deeper and more ancient understanding of the Pascha. It’s as simple as it is luminous: frankly, the Mass isn’t about you.

It is, however, for you. It was instituted by Christ Himself, for your good and for the good of all His holy Church. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s nothing to be prideful of. It’s something to be observed with solemnity, humility, good humour, and – above all – unspeakable joy.

– Michael Warren Davis is a Boston-based columnist.

Why Liturgical Lessons Aren’t Being Learned

(an older article from New Oxford Review – winter 2011 – still most relevant!)

At Mass, Actions Speak Louder Than WordsBy Michael A. Beauregard

Michael A. Beauregard is Headmaster of St. Michael’s School in West Memphis, Arkansas. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Memphis and has written extensively on the classical curriculum in elementary schools.

I have taught in Catholic schools for many years. For the past ten, I have had the pleasure of teaching sixth-grade religion classes in a school that is unwaveringly faithful to the Magisterium. The religious curriculum in the sixth grade includes the sacraments, the theology of the Mass, and Church history. In previous grades, the students thoroughly study the faith with the help of textbooks that are faithful to the Church, and teachers who are devout, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable.

Nevertheless, year after year I am surprised by what my students know — and do not know — at the beginning of their sixth-grade year. Students are typically baffled and sometimes even stunned to learn that the Blessed Sacrament is Christ physically present in His body, blood, soul, and divinity, and not just in a spiritual or symbolic sense. More often than not, these students have incorrectly acquired the notion that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is just a Communion service memorializing the Last Supper with the priest acting as presider. They are fascinated to learn about the sacrificial aspects of the Mass and the priesthood, and the tremendous graces received from the Mass. Why are all these students, who have no less than five years of solid catechetical training, entering the sixth grade with an almost Protestant view of Catholic liturgy and the sacraments?

One might question the content, quality, and overall effectiveness of the religion program. But after years of observing, monitoring, and, most importantly, probing the students, I have come to a clear assessment of this peculiar situation. Irrespective of what is being taught, if the Mass and liturgies do not reflect the realities and truths of our Catholic faith, the teachings of the Church will be taught in vain. It is of the utmost importance that the Holy Mass model and emphasize what we want our students (and adults) to understand and embrace. The rubrics, gestures, and symbols that are employed serve a fundamental and very useful purpose in that they reveal and give witness to the faith we profess.

To illustrate a common example, I ask students at the beginning of their sixth-grade year what they genuflect toward inside a church. At least ninety percent say the crucifix or the spiritual omnipresence of Christ. After receiving a thorough explanation that genuflection is an act of adoration toward the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, the students invariably have a number of questions, a typical one being: “If we believe that the Blessed Sacrament is Christ Himself truly and really present among us, then shouldn’t we show greater respect and reverence at Mass?” The crux of the problem is that students cannot retain the truths they are taught if these truths are not manifested on a regular basis in our liturgical language, songs, gestures, and symbols.

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, many expressive gestures and symbols in the Mass were not necessarily suppressed, but were set aside in favor of an emphasis on simplicity. This has resulted in a watering down of the truths of the Mass, which has itself led to a lack of reverence during the Mass.

One of the greatest tragedies of the post-conciliar New Mass is that the spirit of informality has displaced our duty of reverence and respect. For example, in the pre-conciliar Tridentine Mass, only the priest was allowed to touch the sacred Species. During and after the consecration, he was required to keep his thumb and index finger joined in order not to spread the particles of the sacred Host. It was only at the final ablution that he was able to separate his finger from his thumb. This simple yet powerful rubric sent a clear message about what we as Catholics believe about the Eucharist.

During reception of Holy Communion, an altar server held a paten under the Host to ensure that Christ would not accidentally drop to the floor. The use of patens in the New Mass has been requested in the Vatican’s 2004 instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, but they are absent from the average Catholic parish. In most Masses today, the sacred Species might be handled with care at best, but not with the ineffable care they were once given. And they are handled by virtually everyone. What does this teach our children? Furthermore, what example is given to reaffirm mature, faithful Catholics in their beliefs? The strict rubrics in the pre-conciliar Mass were established for a firm purpose: to foster a greater reverence for the Eucharist and to prevent avoidable accidents.

One of the great and unexpected phenomena of our day is the number of young Catholics who are attracted to the Tridentine Mass. Many critics of the “extraordinary form of the Mass,” as it is now called, have stated that its appeal is largely nostalgic. However, the younger generations of Catholics did not grow up with the extraordinary form and, therefore, it cannot be a nostalgic experience for them. I require my students to attend the Tridentine Mass periodically, and they often comment on how much more reverent it is than the typical New Mass. Many respond that they prefer the Tridentine Mass because it gives authentic expression to their faith in a way that is both prayerful and contemplative. This is not to say that the New Mass cannot be reverent too, but because of the rubrics and gestures employed and indeed required, the Tridentine Mass shows greater honor toward and adoration of the Holy Eucharist.

Our Holy Father has written extensively about and encouraged two liturgical practices that were at one time common in every parish: priests facing ad orientem, toward the East, and communicants receiving the sacred Host on the tongue, while kneeling. Both of these practices have been encouraged for two main reasons: to give glory and reverence to God and to reinforce our belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. These two practices express our beliefs through action and raise awareness of the sacredness of the Mass. Even smaller actions that appear at first to be trivial can have a similar effect, such as making use of chalice veils (as recommended in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) and patens, and keeping silence in the church before and after Mass. There are a multitude of lessons we can learn about the symbolism of such acts and how this conveys and expresses our faith in the real presence. These small details, which many take for granted or ignore altogether, can make the difference between giving the appearance, to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, that the Mass is either something extraordinary and mystical or something ordinary and secular.

The hymns that are selected should be given due consideration as well. Sometimes I wonder if anyone really pays attention to the words that are sung. Are they consistent with the theology of the Mass and what we as Catholics believe? If the lyrics were recited and not sung, would they be appropriate prayers to God?

Recently, when I was teaching fifth-grade boys some of the refinements of serving at Mass, one of them did not know exactly what I meant when I mentioned “the altar.” He mistakenly thought that the altar was the general area around the altar of sacrifice — the sanctuary. After I corrected him briefly, the young student responded, “Oh, you mean the Communion table.” I then saw that it was necessary to give him a fuller explanation of the sacrificial nature of the Mass and what distinguishes the altar of sacrifice from an ordinary table. But the next day at Mass, the offertory hymn included such lines as “Come to the table of plenty” and “O come and sit at my table, where saints and sinners are friends.” That hymn served to reinforce the incorrect perception not only about the altar but about the nature of the Mass. I realized that despite the faithful, correct instruction we give, we are fighting a losing battle when the externals of the Mass do not accurately reflect what we teach.

The Church has witnessed some positive and fruitful developments over the past twenty years. I can remember a time when the ringing of the bells at the elevations had become a rarity. This very important element, which has been reintroduced in many parishes, can act as a great teaching tool to both Catholics and non-Catholics. For example, a co-worker of mine, a Lutheran, attended Mass at our school during her first week of employment. Afterward, she inquired about the ringing of the bells at the epiclesis (unbeknownst to many, this is encouraged in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) and the elevations. It was a great opportunity not only to explain the symbolism of the actions but to talk about the Mass and how it differs from Protestant services.

Another positive development that has been occurring over the past decade is the placement — or relocation — of tabernacles in many churches to their proper place of honor. Even in many of the cathedrals in the U.S. that were modernized in the 1970s the tabernacles are beginning to be returned to prominent areas in order to foster devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Likewise, a momentous event soon to unfold is the revised English translation of the Order of Mass. This single event will not only bring the wording of the Mass back to its Latin origins, it will also provide a richer, more compelling and beautiful translation that will uplift the faithful. [For a look at the new missal translation, see Rosemary Lunardini’s article “A Defining Step Toward Authentic Liturgical Reform,” Nov. 2010 — Ed.]

Perhaps one of the greatest changes we have seen over the past twenty years is a renewed interest in and devotion to eucharistic adoration. A majority of parishes now participates in some regular form of eucharistic adoration. This is incredible and miraculous, not only because this practice became almost extinct nearly thirty years ago, but because it occurred without any mandates or widespread movements. It was one of those things that suddenly happened everywhere, an occurrence of such great magnitude over such a short time that it can only give witness to the workings of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church today.

It is imperative for all parishes and schools to closely examine the Church’s authoritative writings on matters liturgical, such as the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and Redemptionis Sacramentum. Employing the rubrics they call for, and in addition those that are given as options, will bring about a greater sense of mystery and sacredness to the Mass.

Beyond just reading these documents, their contents need to be incorporated into a liturgical catechesis. This could be accomplished by printing short columns in Sunday bulletins about different aspects of the Mass, or by offering workshops and classes in order to better educate the faithful in the rubrics and gestures. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the ‘sacraments’ to the ‘mysteries’” (no. 1075).

Many parishes, schools, and dioceses have taken tremendous steps toward ensuring faithful catechetical training. This is a great turnaround from the watered-down instruction largely given in the 1970s and 1980s. However, if what we teach about the Mass and the Eucharist is not expressed in our actions and daily examples, even when good catechetical instruction is offered, we are inadvertently leading the faithful away from the fullness of truth about the most sublime and beautiful event this side of Heaven — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with all the graces it contains.

 

 

What happened in the 1960s?

By Augustinus

The West fell in the 1960s. This is both good and bad. To the extent that the Church is the West and the West is the Church the fall of the 1960s has meant that the church has been in crisis since then. Westerners, as a consequence, have been lost spiritually since then. On the other hand the Church never was only Europe and the West. Europe and the West kept the Church alive during the first 1500 years of the faith and then helped to spread the faith throughout the world. In the beginning the faith was strong in the near east-even outside of the Roman Empire. But Islam virtually, but not entirely, wiped out the eastern Church. After the schism between the orthodox and Roman rites Christianity flowered in the West and then spread globally with the rise of the West. that rise was due mainly to science and technology. The West developed science and technology and the rest of the world did not. In any case, between 1500 and 1800 westerners spread the faith to the new world and parts of Asia and Africa. thus, the church was no longer identified only with Europe. Islam was in decline, the Asian religions like Buddhism and Hinduism were stagnant like the cultures they inhabited and everywhere Europe and Christianity were in the ascendant. But then the 20th century dawned and with it the great European-centered World wars that lasted for some 50 years and tore Europe apart. The great bloodletting, and the resultant annihilation in the space of a minute of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the domination now of Russia and the eastern European countries by totalitarian and atheistic communism and finally the horrors of the holocaust led the best Europeans to stop and think about what went wrong!

Part of that great reflection on what went wrong was Vatican II which was convened after the period of the World wars. The children of the parents who fought in the world wars defined themselves in opposition to everything that they believed created the world wars. You cannot go through a conflagration that violently slaughtered some 50 million people without some period of penance and conversion. The 1960s was a period of violent repudiation of what went before and that was its healthy element. But it threw the baby out with the bathwater. it failed to do its homework on what exactly went wrong.

The 1960s was an attempt to identify what went wrong but it was a failed attempt. Vatican II did not attempt to identify what went wrong but it divined the need of the faithful to attempt to open up to a world in need and pain and disorientation. That was the positive element in Vatican II. It was a pastoral council seeking to engage the world now prostrated by the world wars.

But who was trying to understand what went wrong? Some religious philosophers and theologians tried. The Jewish philosophers tended toward the view that God had absented himself from humanity. The protestant theologians did the same. Orthodox theologians fell silent under the heel of the Soviets and Roman Catholic theologians through up a wild range of theories–none of them at all convincing as most of them settled on the evil is a mystery meme.

Secular philosophers and scholars also tried to figure out what went wrong and each of them identified one piece of the elephant…imperial competition for markets; growth of science and technology, population and demographic trends, ethnic tensions and so forth.

The fact that the world wars began and centered in Europe suggests that the rise of science and technology had something to do with it. My own feeling is that science and technology has made huge population increases possible. the world went from several hundred million in 1800 to 6 billion just two centuries later. These huge rises in population numbers place wild demands on fallible, scared, opportunistic political actors and governments who then make stupid decisions and pull the world into irrational wars.

Science is the great disruptor and the Church still refuses to come to terms with it.

 

Review of: Benedict XVI Last Testament. In his own words with Peter Seewald

By Augustinus

Peter Seewald is a German journalist who has interviewed Pope Benedict several times and published these interviews in the past. The current book contains transcripts of interviews conducted shortly before, but mostly after the Pope’s resignation. So the questions were all designed to have the Pope emeritus look back on his life and his service to the church and thus we get Benedict’s reflective perspective on many things from Vatican II to the “Gay Lobby” scandal in the Vatican. The things he most regrets are his lifting of the excommunication on Bishop Williamson of SPXX due to the claims that the Bishop was a holocaust denier; his inability to handle the narrative the press was constructing after Vatican II and the priest sex abuse scandal that began under Pope John Paul’s reign but lingered into Pope Benedict’s reign as well. His, regrets, however, do not in any way dominate his reflections.

I always thought–and these interviews confirm for me, that the thing that most characterized Pope Benedict’s service to the church was his constant insistence that the revelation of Christ was that the GODHEAD or the deity or God was the WORD or the logos, and thus that the inner nature of Christ and Christianity was essentially reason/rationality-not just love. That was the message of Benedict’s 2006 Regensburg address which touched off fanatical muslim riots all over the world –namely that Christianity was not like other religions; that it was not a religion at all since it was so wedded to reason at its foundation…

Benedict’s parents were devout Bavarian Catholics. His father passionately opposed Hitler and subscribed to a paper/journal that was Catholic and anti-Hitler so these sentiments were passed onto to his son. His two sons went into the priesthood with the future Pope doing his dissertation on Augustine-not Aquinas. He rose rapidly through the clerical ranks becoming Bishop of Munich near his hometown in Bavaria while his theological works were attracting attention far and wide. When Vatican II arrived the future Pope became an advisor to some of the most “liberal” Bishops attending but neither he nor they thought of themselves or the council as “progressive”, “liberal” or “innovative”.  They saw themselves as re-expressing traditional positions of the Church. For example the council fathers recommended an expansion, not the elimination of Latin in the church and in the liturgy. He blames the subsequent disastrous effects of Vatican II on “progressives” outside the church who controlled media interpretations of what the council documents were otherwise saying.

“The bishops wanted to renew the faith, to deepen it. However, other forces were working with increasing strength, particularly journalists, who interpreted many things in a completely new way. Eventually people asked, yes, if the bishops are able to change everything, why can’t we all do that? The liturgy began to crumble and slip into personal preferences. Since 1965 I have felt it to be a mission to make clear what we genuinely wanted and what we did not want.” (p. 141)

but for Benedict, Vatican II was not disastrous, it was a world historical landmark for the church and the world. Its effects were not only disastrous. In the theological realm they were fruitful and revelatory. Reading these interviews, one gets the sense that Benedict’s first vocation was as a thinker and a theologian. Like every great philosopher he loved to take long walks especially walks alone. From his perspective the landmark’s in his life were not career markers like when he became Bishop, then Prefect, then John Paul’s right hand man and then Pope. No his landmarks, were his intellectual breakthroughs. The things that gave him strength despite his many and serious health issues and the crushing responsibilities of his offices was his theological work. that was how he prayed.

His explanation and description of his abdication was succinct and convincing: he was not laying down the cross associated with the papacy just the work. He could not perform the functions of a Pope given his brain hemorrhage and other very serious health issues.

Remarkably, people see this intellectual Pope as a traditionalist who opposed all things progressive and modern. While it is certainly true that he opposed all versions of the modernist heresy he did not oppose modernity per se. In these interviews he talks about the good things modernity has brought humanity including science, wealth for many, better health, global communications etc but especially the philosophical and theological insights. Like any reasonable person he wants to accept and use these good things for the betterment of humanity while opposing the well-known bad things modernity brings in its wake. its up to us to own the theological insights into the original Christian revelation that modernity gives us but no-one has yet been able to do that convincingly. There is a new world trying to be born but it has not found its midwife yet.

Do you see yourself as the last Pope of an old era?

“Between the times I would say…I don’t belong to the old world anymore, but the new world isn’t really here yet” (p. 232)

 

This Guy Really Nails It!

Ever read an article and say to yourself; “nobody could ever have said it better than that” ?

I found this gem in today’s New Oxford Review and it is a wonderful and thoughtful unfolding of many of the components of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form – which can be somewhat intimidating to those who approach it as an intellectual exercise as they are familiar only with the new Mass and perhaps may get stuck on the Latin – as opposed to the common or colloquial.   The Latin Mass is so much more than “common”!  I digress.

Here is a short snippet:

WHAT I’VE LEARNED
The Latin Mass After a Year’s Attendance

By Richard Upsher Smith Jr.

It is clear, then, that not only are words associated with sacrifice sacrificium, hostia, oblatio, offerre, suscipere used less frequently in the New Mass, but the mental world of the Offertory has been made shallower, and in some ways even trite. Where the Latin Mass weaves together the sins of all men in the Church Militant and Expectant, the entire redemptive work of Christ, the condescension of God, and the work of the Church Triumphant on our behalf, what does the Mass of Paul VI offer? “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation”! The notion of sacrifice is still present, but the profound richness of the concept has been lost.

Another example of the weakening of the sacrificial mental world is the new Mysterium fidei. As I grew more accustomed to the extraordinary form, I noticed that it makes clear that the Mysterium fidei is the “chalice of my blood, of the new and eternal covenant.” But in the ordinary form, the Mysterium fidei has become, in two cases, a declaration of the congregation’s faith, and in the third case, a plea for salvation. It is no longer a statement of what has now occurred on the altar: the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.

www.newoxfordreview.org

I urge you to go there and read the rest!

-Allan Gillis

Another One Bites The Dust!

By Allan Gillis

I just realized the slight of hand here in this document!

Here is the letter dated July 12th from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Divine Worship as it addresses the issue of celebrating Mass ad orientem. The Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli, Chairman, clarifies that there will be no expected changes to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, but points out existing rubrics in “the Order of Mass which reflect the real possibility that the celebrant might be facing away from the assembly.”       Ya think?

check this out:

July 12, 2016       Your Eminence / Your Excellency:

As you are no doubt aware, some comments made at a London talk on July 7 by His Eminence Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, quickly became the source of much speculation and debate concerning the proper orientation of the priest celebrant in relation to the assembly during the celebration of the Eucharist in the Ordinary Form. [Did Sarah step in it or what?!]  In the whirlwind of media attention which has followed, there has been no small amount of confusion as to whether his remarks, in which he encouraged bishops and priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem when feasible beginning on the first Sunday of Advent of this year, constitute an actual change to the rubrics of the liturgy. In a statement released on Monday, July 11, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the outgoing Director of the Holy See Press Office, has clarified on behalf of the Holy See that no liturgical directives concerning the orientation of the priest in respect to the assembly at Mass were to be anticipated before Advent of this year. As a result, no changes to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal are expected at this time, nor is there a new mandate for the celebrant to face away from the assembly. As a final comment, n. 299 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal does show a preference for the celebrant’s facing the people “whenever possible” in the placement and orientation of the altar. That configuration will most likely continue to be the norm at most parishes, [here’s the kicker! – wait for it…] as it has been for decades now. [Did you get that?]  However, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has clarified on earlier occasions that this does not prohibit the celebration of the Eucharist in the Ordinary Form ad orientem. In fact, there are rubrics in the Order of Mass which reflect the real possibility that the celebrant might be facing away from the assembly (see for example n. 29 before the Prayer over the Offerings: “Standing in the middle of the altar, facing the people, extending then joining his hands, he says …”). Although permitted, the decision whether or not to preside ad orientem should take into consideration the physical configuration of the altar [why? …they didn’t have the same consideration back in 1970!] and sanctuary space, and, most especially, the pastoral welfare of the faith community [I HATE that term!] being served. Such an important decision should always be made with the supervision and guidance of the local bishop.

Fraternally yours in Christ, Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli Chairman

Did you see that?    …the defensive swipe:  “as it has been for decades now”    –    THEY CERTAINLY DIDN’T HAVE THAT SAME CONSIDERATION WHEN THEY TRAMPLED, BURNED, CUT AWAY AND DEMOLISHED OUR LITURGY AND SACRED ALTARS BACK IN THEIR HAYDAY!!!   …AND OUR LITURGY HAD SERVED US WELL FOR CENTURIES!   AT LEAST 17 CENTURIES!     I say kak to you Fr. Seratelli!

I sense a double-standard here.  I also wouldn’t be surprised if they find Cardinal Sarah in the trunk of a Cadillac somewhere…   or at least banished to the job of “Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of The Knights Who Say Ni”.

Reflections on America on Independence Day 2016

By Augustinus

What should a Catholic think of America? To the extent that America has promoted the modernist heresy around the world then the Catholic has to view the USA in a negative light. For many the USA embodies modernism or the flight from traditional values and the embrace of an ideology that promotes a pulverized, homogenized, mindless people capable only of servile state worship.

On the other hand America has also constituted a bulwark against the deadliest heresies of the 20th century (Naziism and Communism) and it has arranged its political system (as de Tocqueville pointed out in the early 19th century) to allow a multitude of political structures interposed between the citizen and the state. Those intermediate structures buffer the citizen against the worst excesses of state power so they are absolutely essential to a free people. They include local polities (cities, counties, states), many levels of a judiciary, all kinds of business and civic associations, all kinds of non-profits, institutionalized political parties and most crucially of all… all kinds of religious groups.

Consistent with its principles of subsidiarity, solidarity and collegiality the Catholic Church thrives in those intermediate zones between the individual citizen and the power of the sword or state. The Church has learned that it pays too high a price when it is too closely allied with the state power or when it rules directly….and conversely it pays too high a price when it exerts no influence at all on the state power. Its optimal play is in between those two extremes. It can then check the arbitrary power of the state while still informing and infusing its political culture with real Christian values. The state in this case will NOT be a Christian state but maybe Christian state is a contradiction in terms if we recall that the modern state is really an inherently evil Leviathan designed only to accrue power.  That does not mean we cannot use the state for some good ends. it simply means that there can be no long term alliance with the beast without the alliance corrupting the non-state partner.

To play its optimal role in the political life of a people or country the Church needs to operate in that that legally protected intermediate zone in between the summits of power and the individual citizen. That zone provides an opening for a real civic culture where reasoned debate can happen and where consensus around fundamental values can be worked out. The Church always thrives where there is real reasoned debate and the Church therefore thrived in America in the 20th century after 19th century persecutions ceased and then right up to the modern era.

As everyone knows the turning point came in the 1960s. It was then that the Church’s influence on American life began to peak (with the election of Kennedy) and then abruptly and catastrophically collapse right after Kennedy;s asassination. It is no secret that America itself went into decline as well around that time.

In my view America went into decline right after the Catholic Church went into decline at the mid-1960s precisely because the decline of the Church triggered the decline of America. Most analyses of American decline agree that it started in the 1960s but most analysts say the decline was due to international economic forces and not to anything so “inconsequentially cultural” as the decline of the Church in America. After all, they say, the decline into political, cultural and economic stagnation was worldwide–it did not just happen in America.

I agree. The cultural decline was worldwide. But that this just strengthens the case for ripple effects from Vatican II. After all the Church then and now was and is a global player. Its influence extends around the globe. Most importantly intellectuals around the globe saw it at that time as a touchstone of orthodoxy in the West and the West was pre-eminent among global powers and had been pre-eminent for centuries. I suggest that Vatican II triggered the worldwide intellectual flight from orthodoxy and the resultant worldwide cultural decline and the worldwide drift into secularism that we see regnant everywhere today among political elites (not among ordinary people thank God).

I know this sounds unreasonable so lets return to the American case for a moment. Ask yourself, dear reader, a simple question: “Why, right at the peak of the Church’s influence in American life, did it suddenly collapse in terms of its influence?” In the space of less than 10 years the churches were abandoned. Priests, monks and nuns left religious life in droves, Catholic school systems all around the country went into steep decline in terms of enrollees. The political elite stopped listening to and worrying about the opinions of Bishops and Catholic laity stopped attending mass en masse!

Nothing else can explain so precipitous a decline in so short a period of time than THE major event in Catholic intellectual life at the time…Vatican II. The church went into precipitous decline in America because it sabotaged itself–it inflicted the damage on itself. Vatican II had similar effects in countries all around the world. The Church is the one true Church and therefore the entire world depends, whether they acknowledge it or not, on its spiritual capital. When that capital is squandered the world’s loses it spiritual North Star and it drifts in ignorance.

Now I am NOT one the those people who think Vatican Ii was invalid or a total disaster as I believe it produced some really wonderful documents and recovered some beautiful pieces of authentic catholic tradition. BUT the evidence is overwhelming that its efforts in many of its documents amounted to an inappropriate emphasis of some interpretations of some key Catholic positions. All of that language in these key documents was designed to appease the protestants. The ambiguous language of official documents from Vatican II allowed public interpretations of those documents to be slanted towards a more protestant understanding of things. Things like the nature of the Eucharistic sacrifice and the doctrine Extra ecclesiam nulla salus–no salvation outside the church were given non-orthodox portestant interpretations in the press and in intellectual circles.

Everyone therefore thought that the Church was “modernizing” and protestantizing itself! After all if the Church herself says that it is not the one thing necessary for salvation then why should anyone be Catholic? Why should anyone listen to it? Why dedicate your life to it? Why die for it?

Why did the Church Fathers at Vatican II allow the inappropriate emphases on key doctrinal issues in its documents? For the sake of ecumenical dialog with protestants mostly.  When you read the documents themselves however they are orthodox. But it is clear that they can be interpreted in manifold ways. It was the public interpretation of these documents that caused the cultural disaster. Why did the erroneous public reception of Vatican II documents win the war of interpretation? The Bishops who should have guided the interpretation of the documents were lax while the loudest voices on Vatican II were the protestants who shouted from the rooftops that the Roman Church was finally coming round to its point of view. Heretical Catholic theologians also played a very negative role. In any case the end result was that the world including Catholic priests and nuns and laity believed what they read in the press about the decisions of the Church fathers at Vatican II. The world therefore concluded that the Roman Church had now decided that it was just one more faith among the bevy of religions in the world parliament of religions.

The world therefore no longer had a spiritual North Star and it went into a permanent cultural decline–as did America. America today is at its lowest moral ebb–even minor restrictions against abortion on demand are struck down by a supreme court and the majority decision striking down those minor restrictions was written by a practicing Catholic (Stephen Breyer). But that is just one of the symptoms of moral and cultural decay in America today. the precious intermediate zone between the state power and the citizen is narrowing and narrowing down dramatically.

Nonetheless, America has a lot of inner spiritual resources it can and will call upon to shake off its moral stupor, pull itself out of its malaise and self-doubt and once more take its role at the head of the free nations of the world. But it can only do that if it recalls its Christian character and that can only happen when the Catholic Church revives itself….as it surely will. The only question is when will the Catholic Church revive and WHO will revive it?