Epiphany as Pre-Pentecost

Regardless of the date stamp above, it’s still Epiphany (Jan. 6) as I type this. The purpose of this post is to draw some parallels between Epiphany and Pentecost. Why? Three reasons:

a.) Hopefully to render the Church calendar a bit more intelligible. If you don’t know what the calendar is about, it’s easy to think we’re arbitrarily and superstitiously celebrating one random event after another. This way lies Protestantism and/or rationalism.

b.) Hopefully to provide some food for prayerful meditation.

c.) Perhaps goad you to share the good news of the Gospel with others. The Gospel that was first made known at Pentecost is a reiteration and reinterpretation (in light of Our Lord’s Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension) of those manifestations of Our Lord celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany.

I’m not being original when I say that Epiphany is a sort of pre-Pentecost. Here are a few ways in which Epiphany anticipates Pentecost:

1.) They both close the preceding liturgical season. Pentecost closes Eastertide, and Epiphany closes Christmastide. A period of wearing white vestments yields to a period of wearing green vestments.

Think of it this way: Epiphany is to Christmas as Pentecost is to Easter. Christmas and Easter are the two major feasts of the Church year, celebrating Christ’s Birth and His Resurrection, which is a sort of Rebirth in Glory and certainly effects our own rebirth. Both feasts require a sort of pendant feast to close out their respective “afterglow” seasons. These parallel feasts are Epiphany and Pentecost. Continue reading

Advent Poem, Courtesy of Patrick Kavanagh

This is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a penitential season, and I definitely need to do some penance this Advent. Here is the opening stanza of a penitential poem by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967; RIP):

Advent

We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child’s soul, we’ll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.

Continue reading

Why Women Can’t Be Ordained to the Diaconate

I recently listened to a radio show where the participants discussed, “What can a deacon do that the non-ordained cannot?” I don’t think they ever came up with an answer that was satisfying. It seems to me that none of the tasks that are routinely assigned to deacons actually require the sacramental order of Deacon. I propose that the unique power of the sacramental diaconate is that only a deacon can be ordained priest. Seeing as the diaconate is what bestows upon someone the capacity to be ordained a priest, and women can’t be ordained priests, women can’t be ordained as deacons. QED.

Note: I grant that there was an office of “deaconess” in the early Church. Like the offices of widow, nun, abbess, and hermitess, it wasn’t a sacramental order.

Sad News and Glad News for Driftless Area Catholics

First, sad news. His Excellency, the Most Rev. Thomas G. Doran, Bishop Emeritus of Rockford, recently passed away.* A former member of the Roman Rota and a friend of the Traditional Latin Mass, Doran was bishop of the diocese where I grew up, which includes the Illinois section of the Driftless Area. He confirmed me. Requiescat in pace.

As we approach the anniversary of Sept. 11, I recall Bishop Doran’s response after American forces killed Osama bin Laden. Some people criticized the spontaneous outbursts of joy this occasioned. They said it was unworthy behavior. Bishop Doran said that he didn’t object. Instead of condemning the folks who celebrated, he reminded us that bin Laden would now meet Our Lord as Judge. Bishop Doran deserves credit for this.

Now, glad news. His Excellency, the Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, has announced that he will offer his public Sunday Masses facing ad orientem.** I currently live in the Madison Diocese, which includes the southern part of the Wisconsin portion of the Driftless.

One of my former bishops returns to the Lord; my present bishop turns toward the Lord. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

*http://www.journalstandard.com/news/20160909/bishop-thomas-doran-loved-his-catholic-faith-priesthood-and-Rockford

**http://www.onepeterfive.com/bishop-morlinos-move-ad-orientem-masses-madison/

Matrimony of Desire and Lifestyle Ecumenism

“For they shall sow wind, and reap a whirlwind, there is no standing stalk in it, the bud shall yield no meal; and if it should yield, strangers shall eat it.” Osee (Hosea) 8:7

Once upon a time, a Feeneyite* writer — Charles Coulombe, I think — made some remark about Baptism of Desire. The remark went something like, “Have you ever heard of Matrimony of Desire? Doesn’t make sense, does it? Neither does Baptism of Desire.” In other words, neither implicit nor explicit desire for a sacrament realizes that sacrament.

Except that is what Pope Francis seems to think. The canon law requirements for sacramental matrimony don’t matter — that’s just legalism. The vast majority of marriages that would pass the canon law definition are actually null, while cohabitations are valid marriages. Why can’t we extend this type of rationalization to any type of relationship at all, heterosexual or not? It’s about grace, not hard and fast definitions, right?

I’ve seen this attitude called “lifestyle ecumenism.” It follows pretty logically from religious ecumenism, the type promoted by all Popes since St. John XXIII. Continue reading