Ma(r)ia in May

May is Our Lady’s month. I fondly recall May Crowning in my home parish—

“O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May!”

The month of May is named for the pagan goddess Maia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maia_(mythology))*, who was the mother of the Greek god Hermes (the Roman Mercury). Among other things, Hermes was the god of shepherds. When the Gentiles of the Roman Empire first converted to Christianity and began creating their own artwork, they used statues of Hermes Kriophoros (the “Ram-Bearer”) as a model for statues of Christ the Good Shepherd (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriophoros).

I don’t mean to lead us down some syncretistic rabbit hole. However, there were some strains in Gentile religion that pointed to the coming of Christ. If the pagans celebrated May as the month of the mother of Hermes the Ram-Bearer, how much more should we celebrate it as the month of the mother of the Good Shepherd.

*Warning: there’s at least one immodest image on this Wikipedia page

The TLM and Old Ethnic Parishes

Traditionalists sometimes complain about being put in “inner-city parishes.” Recently, I’ve seen complaints about how this practice inconveniences and intimidates traditionalists.* Are bishops intentionally dissing us this way?

Let’s propose a more charitable interpretation. In the 19th and 20th centuries, there were a lot of ethnic parishes in a America. The Irish wanted their own parish, and the Italians wanted theirs; so too the Germans, Poles, etc. In Wisconsin, you would get more exotic samplings, like Bohemians (=Czechs), Walloons (=Romance-language-speaking Belgians), and Dutch. Continue reading

Self-Awareness

If someone somewhere writes a blog post in which someone somewhere observes that some traditionalists somewhere have behaved like jerks, here are some responses that betray a lack of self-awareness:

1.) No trads anywhere have ever been obnoxious, you Modernist tool!

2.) Yeah, some trads are obnoxious, but can you really blame them (us, me)? Aren’t we all just victims acting out our victimhood? Blame the (insert typical villain).

3.) Why are we jumping on trads? Aren’t the truly obnoxious people *other* people? Shouldn’t only *other* people receive all criticism?

4.) The Mass of All Times and Ages is the surety that we never betray the deposit of Faith, that we defend life, that we uphold the Church, that we detest heresy. I weep bitter tears that anyone anywhere could ever be such a despicable heretic as to descend into heretical depravity (insert approximately 230 more multisyllabic words saying the same thing with sustained histrionics).

Having recently read a rather poor response to a modest criticism of some traditionalists somewhere, with a combox full of responses 1-4, I have cleaned up my list of recommended links.

 

Pointing the Finger of Doubt

Today’s Gospel recounts the origin of the expression “Doubting Thomas,” in which St. Thomas refuses to believe in the Resurrection until he has placed his finger into Christ’s nail wounds and his hand into Christ’s side (St. John 20:24-31).

Here’s a photo I took of the major relics housed in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, which is actually located in Rome atop soil that St. Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, transported from Jerusalem. There are relics of the True Cross, etc., but I’m posting the photo because the relic in the upper left corner of this photo is of St. Thomas’ finger, the one he put in Our Lord’s wounds.

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The relic is a finger bone encased in a reliquary shaped like a finger. The Young Fogeys blog has a better photo (http://youngfogeys.blogspot.com/2008/03/2nd-sunday-of-easter.html). The author of the linked article had the same bright idea I did — to post on St. Thomas’ finger for the Second Sunday of Easter, at the end of what Eastern Christians call Bright Week.

Moses as a Type of St. Joseph (Part I)

Last month, I attended the Pontifical Mass at the Throne that His Excellency, the Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, offered on the Solemnity of St. Joseph. The feast was deferred to March 20 because the Lenten Sunday took precedence. You can see photos here (https://www.latinmassmadison.org/photos-from-pontifical-mass-for-st-joseph/).

What interested me most was the Lesson (aka Epistle) for the Mass. I expected something that referenced the Old Testament patriarch Joseph. Instead, the Lesson is borrowed from the Mass of a Holy Abbot (Os justi . . .). It’s from the Book of Ecclesiasticus, 45.1-6. This passage honors Moses. Upon consideration, it occurred to me that Moses is in many ways a quite fitting Old Testament type of St. Joseph. Continue reading

St. Joseph on Good Friday

I have been working on an extended meditation on the role of St. Joseph in salvation history, particularly his role as archetype of the ordained priesthood placed over the Church, much as St. Joseph was place over the Holy Family, Our Lady being the archetype of the Church. It seemed sad to me that Our Lady was present at the Passion, but St. Joseph never witnessed Our Lord’s great triumph.* But St. Joseph, Patron of a Happy Death, had to die for Christ to fulfill his role. As long as St. Joseph lived, *he* was the Davidic king, not Our Lord. St. Joseph had to die for Christ to reign, much as all Christ’s followers must die to themselves in order for Christ to reign.

And St. Joseph witnessed the dress rehearsal for the Passion and Resurrection — the Finding of Our Lord in the Temple after three days. And again, in a sense St. Joseph was present at the Passion. Continue reading

Rejoice, O Jerusalem!

“Rejoice, O Jerusalem!” That’s the Introit (opening verse) of today’s Mass. In the Traditional Latin Mass, the Epistle is Galatians 4:22-31, where St. Paul speaks of, “that Jerusalem which is above, which is free, which is our mother.” That’s why in the British Isles this is known as Mothering Sunday (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothering_Sunday).

My one Catholic grandmother was wont to say, “I wish I was in Heaven,” which is a much less alarming way of telling your friends and family, “I wish I were dead.” The hymn “Jerusalem, My Happy Home,” apparently written by an English Catholic priest who lived in hiding during the Protestant Revolt, captures the same longing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ySssVj7XCs). The traditional Roman station for Laetare Sunday is the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem. For more information about Laetare Sunday, click here: http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-164/Laetare%20Sunday.html.

“Dogmas come first, not liturgies”

In his poem “Reflections on a Flea,” Fr. Leonard Feeney wrote:

“And by the way,
Speaking of how to pray,
Dogmas come first, not liturgies.”

This claim encapsulates one side in a contemporary debate concerning the best method of evangelization. Some prefer the so-called “path of beauty.” Some prefer the “path of truth.” Without denigrating the role of beautiful liturgy, I prefer the “path of truth.”

Consider that in the Early Church catechumens attended only the so-called Missa Catechumenorum, which is the overtly catechetical first part of the Mass. Only the baptized — the fully catechized and initiated — attended the Missa Fidelium, which is the overtly sacrificial part of the Mass beginning with the Offertory. In other words, it is catechesis that makes sense of the liturgy. Many who argue for the “path of beauty” seem to want the liturgical experience to substitute for or drive catechesis. This is the opposite extreme from the post-Vatican II over-emphasis on the “Liturgy of the Word.” I would say, it is doctrinal Faith that makes sense of the liturgy, not the other way around, even though the liturgy itself has an eschatological and sacrificial reality that transcends catechesis. Participation in the Mass is more the end than the means of evangelization; as Fr. Feeney said, dogmas still come first.