A Paradox: The Traditionalist as the True Son of Vatican II

(Prefatory note: this post was inspired by an article* by Mons. Charles Pope on the radical deficiencies of Catholic catechesis in America during the past century and more.)

The “spirit of Vatican II” said that the Church as it existed in 1958 (let’s say) was hide-bound, clergy-bound, conformist, brittle, stifling, and infantilizing. The adult lay Catholic was treated as a child, lacking in personal responsibility for achieving personal holiness and maturing as a Christian. The institutions of the Church alienated him from a personal response to God’s grace.

The traditionalist often reflexively tries to reject this characterization. He states that he wants to restore all of the institutions that existed in 1958, or whatever date he picks. But shouldn’t the traditionalist agree with the indictment of Catholicism as lived ca. 1958? How, HOW, could the spirit of Vatican II have wrought such pure havoc if things were good?** How could religious orders and lay attendance at Mass, and devotion to the old liturgy, and public orthodoxy, etc., etc., have collapsed so readily unless the Church of 1958 was in fact victim to crippling institutionalism? The revolutionaries seized control of the institutions and proved their case. Continue reading

Notes from Mass

Here are some notes from today’s* Traditional Latin Mass for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, offered at St. Norbert’s Parish in Roxbury, WI:

1.) During my Confession, the priest told me to say Psalm 50 (aka 51) for my penance. That’s King David’s famous psalm of repentance. I went to the parish bookshelf in hopes of finding a Bible, but one didn’t turn up. Then I tried the table at the back of the church covered in devotional literature. I saw a small, antique-looking volume entitled “Extensionist Manual.” I figured it was put out by Catholic Extension**, which is an outreach organization directed at small rural parishes like the one I grew up in. Without knowing precisely what an “Extensionist Manual” would contain, I cracked the book open. It opened immediately to Psalm 50, in a section entitled “Penitential Psalms.” So a big thank you to Catholic Extension.
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Yet More Drafts from the Driftless

Seems like I haven’t been able to get in any decent writing recently, not even on this, my summer vacation. Lest I forget, here are some jottings that I hope to develop into posts later:

–the meaning of perfidis in the traditional Good Friday Prayer for the Jews; how this term relates to 1.) a covenantal understanding of Christ’s Passion, 2.) the spiritual blindness mentioned in the same prayer, and 3.) our own identity as the Chosen People of the New Testament

–how to integrate our understanding of Christ’s Passion as both a martyrdom undertaken in defense of truth and as a propitiatory sacrifice; “the medium is the message”

–Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli as apostle of the Driftless Area; missions to the Indians, Frenchmen, Irish immigrants, and Anglo-American converts; temperance movement

–God’s “inscrutable will” (per Fr. Mazzuchelli), Pope Francis on the “God of Surprises,” and Fr. Feeney on divine surprises

–thoughts on the so-called debitum peccati, which is the speculative account of how exactly Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception relates to the Adam’s sin, if at all; the role of Christ’s Cross and the Immaculate Conception as the ultimate victory of the Cross; debitum Redemptoris or debitum Crucis as an alternative explanation; we inherit Original Sin for lack of the application of redemptive grace Continue reading

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

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

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.

Church as Assembly: Modernism, or a Traddy Idea Whose Time Has Come?

I’ve seen some Modernist-sounding* texts that use the word “assembly” to avoid the word Church. Instead of addressing the congregation, the priest (er, “presider”) addresses the “assembly of the People of God.” Etc. In Hebrew and Greek, the word we translate as Church does in fact mean “assembly.” I surmise that the people who prefer “assembly” do so because they think the word has a more democratic connotation than the hierarchical “Church.” One thinks of the expression “popular assembly.” Implicit in such a usage is a critique of “liturgy as court ritual,” a critique that has been debunked elsewhere.**

Now, one of a Traditionalist or even just plain orthodox-with-a-small-o persuasion might object to this usage of “assembly.” He might advance any number of arguments, the premises of which we don’t share with the people who push for the “assembly” understanding of the Church, and he might cite a bunch of Church documents, originally written in Latin, that no one who has a job has time to read. In these scenarios, I look to my mentor in evangelism and apologetics, Vin Lewis of All Roads Ministry (https://www.allroadsministry.com/). Vin would say to use the simplest, most direct, most memorable argument that requires the least specialist knowledge (such as Latin, Greek, and Hebrew). So, with that in mind, here is how I would respond: Continue reading

Answering Fr. Hunwicke

Over at his site*, Fr. Hunwicke asks some questions about Purgatory. Specifically, he asks whether a soul, once dead, can slip into Hell proper. His question is prompted by some prayers in the Traditional Latin Mass that beseech God to deliver the soul from the eternal pains of Hell.

Here is my answer:

1.) Souls that go to Purgatory go there after their particular judgment, at which point their destination of Heaven or Hell is forever sealed. No one in Purgatory can ever end up in Hell proper, whether eternally or temporarily. Continue reading

St. Stephen in Rome

Today is the feast of St. Stephen, the Protomartyr of the Church. St. Stephen’s relics are preserved in Rome, in the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls. This is fitting, as St. Stephen and St. Lawrence were both deacons and martyrs. St. Stephen was one of the seven protodeacons of the Church of Jerusalem, and St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome. Also, the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls is the titular basilica of the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Legend says that when they deposited St. Stephen’s body next to St. Lawrence’s, St. Lawrence rolled over to make room for St. Stephen.

Here is a photo of the confessio of the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, where the relics of both St. Stephen and St. Lawrence are preserved.

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