Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An "Extraordinary" Young Man

In a world (liturgical and otherwise) where teenagers are pandered to in so many ways it is striking to find one who gets it. Of course there are many, maybe even most, who get it. Most teenagers have a built-in detection system that tells them when older people are trying to "get down" to their level so that they can "relate". Adults with common sense also have this ability. All you have to do is see a 45 year old "hanging out" with teenagers, using their lingo, trying to be "cool" to know what I mean. Unfortunately, teenagers also have a built-in system that makes them immensely susceptible to outside influences and peer pressure, thus hesitant to speak out.

This young man not only gets it, he explains it all so clearly and eloquently that it should be required reading for every bishop, priest, deacon, youth minister, and parent in the Church.

The letter, here in its original context, is written as a response to a previous letter that apparently said that teens couldn't relate to the mass without changing it to make it relevant to them in some way. This extraordinary young man takes exception to that idea.

Hat tip to clewis at Roman Catholic by Choice for leading me to this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pure Beauty

In keeping with the mood of the day. Credit to the New Liturgical Movement for leading me to this one.


Downtrodden No More

It's a lovely day. And a good day. I apologize for the dark tone last week, but I guess that's what a blog is about to some degree - a reflection of a person and a time.

And a new time is here, and I am sure of it. Now I'm kicking myself in the ass for being downtrodden in the first place. The darkness is not over yet, but the sky in the east is getting lighter and lighter. As I think about it, and the unlikely beauty of it all, I consider myself lucky to be living at a time when it is all happening. Who could have dreamed even a few years ago that the Church would be rediscovering itself? Yet it is happening - right now.

Right now there are priests out there learning the old rite, and practicing their Latin. Musicians thinking about and practicing gregorian chant. And just plain old laymen like myself buying and reading and studying Missals so that they will be ready when they finally can attend the Extraordinary use.

Look past the frustrations and ask yourself - did you ever think you'd see this day??

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Exhausted, stressed out wife, asleep upstairs. Trying to keep the girls quiet while as they watch Zula Patrol on DVR. Oldest one sick and mopey, younger two harassing each other constantly. Will go to mass tonight, though I dread doing so. It often turns into heartbreak - a beautiful mass ruined by a congregation who seem to be hell-bent on not giving a damn.

Life as I know it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Yesterdays post by my friend the Carolina Cannonball has me just flat downtrodden. It makes me wonder if there is really any hope at all for our diocese and the traditional mass. I just feel like not caring any more.

Too bad the nearest SSPX Chapel is the other side of Charlotte. With a wife dubious about the old rite, and our three small children, that's just too tough logistically.

Monday, September 17, 2007

As Good as It Gets

Back when "Spa" was "Spa"...

there were giants on the earth. Men who put their lives on the line, using their incredible skill and discipline to prove that they were the best. And they were.
Back when "car control" was something that was driven by the heart, processed by the central nervous system, and executed by the bones, muscles and tendons of the body.

Now, 40 years on, car control means having the best software - software allowing the driver to just point and shoot. How inspiring is that?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Next Move

The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum is now in effect. Executed better in some places - far better than I had ever dreamed. And grudgingly in others - a situation that will be worked out over time. (I have the feeling that a few pontifical new-arsehole-rippings for some bishops are in the works even as I write this) BUT, in effect nonetheless.

It should be clear by now that the mission of the Holy Father is the revival of The Church and the revival of Catholic identity, and Summorum Pontificum is just the most recent move in this crusade. The first move in this crusade was the pontifical report on the Eucharistic Congress, released earlier this year, entitled Sacramantum Caritatis.

Sacramentam Caritatis was released to little fanfare, but was in is workings, an awesome document. I think, as it sinks in over time that it, as much as Summorum Pontificum, will change the church as we know it. The problem is that, until now little has been said about it at all. It was relased, announced, and promptly vanished. I think that there are two good reasons for that. One is that the document, however powerful, was doomed to be eclipsed by Summorum Pontificum. Both in the press and in the church it was treated as a long awaited document that had to be released and gotten out of the way before the much-heralded motu proprio. But the other reason - and one that hardly gets mentioned - is that it was on some ways just an overview with little in terms of nuts-and-bolts.

But those nuts-and-bolts were mentioned, in article 93:

"The competent offices of the Roman Curia will publish a Compendium which will assemble texts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayers, explanations of the Eucharistic Prayers of the Roman Missal and other useful aids for a correct understanding, celebration and adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar (251). It is my hope that this book will help make the memorial of the Passover of the Lord increasingly the source and summit of the Church's life and mission."

THAT, I think, is the next move. I am hoping and praying and betting that this compendium is going to go a long-long way to "cleaning up" the junk liturgies that have metastacized in many parts of our Church. Look for it to contain lots and lots of details on the "ars celebrandi". As well as details about everything from vestments to chuch design.

This Pope, driven by the Holy Spirit, is on a mission from God. I think that more and more each day. An old theologian, late in his years, solid, respectable. A "caretaker Pope" to follow on the Rock Star like persona of John Paul II. Someone who would "fill in" until the next Pope has become, through the Blessing of the Holy Spirit, the Pope who saved the Church.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Times of Life

For years, many years, all of my adult life, that is, I always thought that I was born 50 years too late. I have said so on many occasions. I felt that way (and still do to some extent) because, as a student of history, I had the feeling that the world would have fit my personality, interests, and quirks just perfectly.
Being born in 1909 rather than 1959 would have had me grow up during the 'teens and the twenties, during the emergence of the United States as what would come to be know as a superpower. Also, the fashion, the music, just the culture in general, was just - well, just ME.

Above all - the trains....The 1920's was the pinnacle of American railroading. Real trains, Real people, Steam Locomotives - everywhere. On top that - streetcars everywhere!!!! Oh how I dream of it!

Of course, I would have turned 20 just as the stock market crashed, and had to live through the Great Depression. That would have been tough. Being 32 on December 7th, 1941 would have probably made me too old to fight in the war, but not too old to play some part in that historic conflict. My children would have grown up before the cesspool of the 1960's and thus avoided contamination, and my grandchildren would be born some time around my real date of birth. All that and I'd still be 60 when we landed on the moon - the pinnacle of American accomplishment. God willing, I'd live long enough to see the dismal 1970's through and live to see Reagan years and the fall of the Soviet Union.

What a life that would be!!!!!!

But that was then - and this is now.

Having children, watching them grow up, has made me think differently of my real times and the life I've had. Now, I think back to my childhood, what I had and what I saw, and I feel like the luckiest man that had ever been born.

Being born at the very end of the 1950's let me be raised in a small-town environment unpolluted by too much modern culture. Surrounded by strong nuclear families, including being raised alongside my cousins, let me grow up safe, secure, and free in a way that no child nowadays gets to be. I remember the times when TV wasn't on! Not THE TV in our house, but TV period, those times, back then in the middle of the day, when the stations would stop broadcasting altogether and go off the air. Instead of staring at the tube, as my children do, we were with our friends - playing.

But NOT just playing, we were learning. Learning about each other and learning how to be members of a society. Also, learning how to behave in a real, adult world. When we were out and about, we were expected to behave and interact and learn. We went to a restaurant and walked in with our heads held high, greeting and acknowledging the world around us - not ignoring that world with our face glued to a Game Boy. Children in those days grew up in the adult world, not pandered to in a child world of their own.

The day-to day things I have seen growing up were so unique too. I went tho a Catholic school (St. Mary's, in Avoca Pa.) at a time when all the classes were taught by nuns, real nuns with habits and yeardsticks and a real convent next door to the school. I went to Mass every day before school and marched in ranks across the street to our school - no matter what the weather. We had our lunchtime milk in glass bottles, at least for the first few years I was there. I walked home from school - sometimes by "shortcuts" which were in retrospect far longer that the "regular" route, but went through mysterious alleys and backyards and graveyards and even down the railroad tracks. Now I freely admit that the idea of one of my daughters, at age 8, walking through alleys and graveyards and along (busy) railroad tracks scares makes me shudder, but the world was different back then. And I would give anything - ANYTHING - to get my children to experience it.

Then, as an adult, I survived the 1970's (I hated the 70's), and got to see the amazing techological changes that we have today. And above all else - ALL ELSE, I was at the right age and right place and right time to meet and marry the most amazing, wonderful female who has lived on this earth since probably the Assumption. I got to see my daughters be born, and to see the blessings of the medical technology we have today help them out a few critical situations.

And now, I am blessed to be witnessing the revolution in the church which is going to pull us back from the brink of extinction, or worse, apathy. And I pray that I will live to see the day when the last tambouring banging, handclapping, Haugen singing mass is celebrated and the mass returns to the world of adults. And the day when the last table altar is decomissioned and sent to the junk pile. Somehow I get the feeling that, years on, we will all look back on the last 40 years of litugical history the same way people look at old photos of themselves wearing outlandish, trendy clothes or hairstyles and think "WHAT the HELL was I THINKING?!?!?!?!?!?"

One Amazing Priest

For some time now, 10 months or so, I have been more or less addicted to reading Catholic blogs and news. I have read, and continue to read nearly every post from the blogging Priests of the world - at least the more traditional minded ones. They all have a their own wonderful perspective, from the amazingly knowledgable Father Zuhlsdorf to the funny and humble Father Joe. I freely admit I love them all.

Of all these, however, one stands out in my mind. That is Father Martin Fox, of Bonfire of the Vanities. Somehow Father Fox manages to strike a balance between the intellectually though provoking, and the touchingly human. His posts range from "a day in the life" journal entries, to reflections on Sacrementam Caritatis, to straightforward challenges about current affairs, like the current credit crisis. Add to that the fact that he publishes his Homilies in his blog for all to see and be blessed by! He manages to balance the intellectual side of life with the faith side of life and seems to enjoy it all.

This man, and his blog, provide such a good, interesting insight on life as a priest that I sincerely believe that his blog should be required reading for any man thinking about the priesthood - especially adult men thinking about the priesthood.

Thanks for being there, Father Fox.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Summorum Pontificum, at T Plus 32 Hours

T is for Tridentine, of course!!

More than 32 hours as I sit here typing this since the Traditional Latin Mass was liberated. Or, as it is now rightly called, the mass of Blessed John XXIII. At this time there has been no official statement for the Diocese of Charlotte. I am disappointed in this, but not disheartened. I know that the Bishop discussed the subject with the presbyterial council on Tuesday, the 11th, so I know that something is being worked on. I just wish that things would move along more quickly.

Of course, there is the possibility that Bishop Jugis made some private communication to the priests of the diocese, and we parishoners will all be informed of it through our priests. In fact, I suppose that that is probably the proper way to do it, so that the faithful who actually attend mass will get the word. A press release or a statement in the Dioscean newspaper is way too likely to get overlooked or ignored. Ideally, I think that considering the importance of this document in the history of the church, that an announcement of this ought to be made at each and every mass in the diocese this weekend and the word put out that all those who think they may be interested speak to the priest after mass, or call or email to show their interest.

Either way, I know that things tend to move at glacial speed in the church, so for a bit more I'll keep watching and waiting. I would much rather see things move slowly and deliberately so that they are made a part of the fabric of the diocese than quickly and haphazardly - and thus quickly discarded as "an experiment that failed". Please note, however, that slow and stationary are two different things.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Memes -- the empty calories of Blogger

A One Word Meme seen at Cannonball's...

1. Yourself: Useful
2. Your spouse: Amazing
3. Your hair: Lots
4. Your mother: Perfect
5. Your father: Demanding
6. Your favourite item: nothing
7. Your dream last night: Lost
8. Your favorite drink: Coffee
9. Your dream car: Niva
10. The room you are in: Office
11. Your ex: Sad
12. Your fear: Unemployment
13. What you want to be in 10 years: Alive
14. Who you hung out with last night: Carrie
15. What you’re not: Lazy
16. Muffins: Bagels
17. One of your wish list items: Books
18. Time: Flies
19. The last thing you did: Boring
20. What you are wearing: jeans
21. Your favorite weather: Blustery
22. Your favorite book: Detailed
23. The last thing you ate: Cereal
24. Your life: Blessing
25. Your mood: :)
26. Your best friend: Carrie
27. What you’re thinking about right now: ;)
28. Your car: Quest
29. What you are doing at the moment: procrastinating
30. Your summer: long
31. Your relationship status: married
32. What is on your TV: Thomas
33. What the weather is like: HOT
34. When was the last time you laughed: last night

Tagging anyone who hasn't done this one yet.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Friend in Need

Please pray for a friend of mine, who could use the help right now.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Ad Orientem

In the grand scheme of liturgical reform things, there is an elephant in the middle of the room. It isn't the latin language, it isn't the extraordinary versus ordinary rite, it isn't chant versus congregational singing, it isn't guitar versus organ.

That elephant is the altar and which way it faces. That table altar which was so unceremoniously plopped down in the middle of the santuary some years ago. It's big, and it's in the way. Unless and until a way is found to deal with it, to get rid of it entirely, any real change to the way that mass is celebrated will be very tough indeed. The more you think about it, the more apparent it becomes that as long as a priest has "his back to Jesus" and faces the people, the more obvious it becomes that the only way to have a truly Catholic mass is to have the priest, along with everyone else, face Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Mass facing the people is, by unavoidable definition, a mass that is all about the people. There is simply no way around that. No Way At All.

That being the case, the question is how do we get there from here. The technical issues are easy to work out. In some older churches, all of the old hardware still is in place, save for the aforementioned plopped down table. Remove the table, and in minutes, literally, you're good to go. Zero expense. In others, a new altar will be needed, or the existing one "un-modified". Some time, some expense, though not necessarily extravagant. But even in new churches, there is no reason at all that an real "high" altar could not be put into place. Sure, it would cost a bit, but it could be done.

The real issue is getting the church and the people to understand the importance of this change. How to teach people - BOTH PRIESTS AND LAITY - who, for a generation, have been conditioned to believe that it's a meal ("happy are those who are called to his supper"), and that it's all about them, that it ISN'T about them at all. To somehow teach people to be humble in His presence. We are, atfer all being led, as sheep, by the good shepher towards heaven. We are not supposed to be leading the charge, up front like the cavalry or a marching band. I don't know the answer, but the answer is going to have to come, and soon. Because as long as that elephant is there we can't even get off go.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

An Observation

This post has only a little to do with church, and only a little more to do with liturgy. It is a reflection on life and society that has been a long time coming. I have been haranguing my long-suffering wife for years about this topic, and as the phonomenon seems to be progressing so rapidly of late, I figure that the time is right to unleash it on the world.

Some years ago, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, coined the term “Defining Decency Down”. It is used to describle the slow, creeping deterioration of our societal mores wherein behaviors that were once considered disgusting and taboo are now considered normal and healthy.

Well, I am now borrowing and adapting that term to define the similar slow, creeping changes to what is considered decent and appropriate behavior and dress. I call it “Defining Slackness Down”. Nowadays, attire (and attitude) that was once to be seen only in teenagers on vacation is now considered acceptable nearly everywhere and anytime - even considered “Sunday Best”.

There is a phrase, “the clothes make the man” , but it really should be “the clothes reflect the man”. That is, the voluntary decision one makes as to is or her attire reflect the attitude with which that person approaches everything in the world. The man who dons a suit approaches himself and everything else in the world with an attitude completely different than the one who chooses a wrinkled t-shirt, shorts and boat shoes. If an example is needed one need look no further than the term “wife beater”, used to desribe the tank-top style shirts worn consistently by the drunken male sleazeballs seen in the infamous “Cops” TV series.

The extrapolation of this is that people in such a flip-flop wearing society expect to approach everything with a sort of slack, casual attitude. It is the projection of the personal comfort “uber alles” worldview. This is the reason that everywhere, no matter where you go, people don’t seem to give a damn about anything - anything that is ecept themselves. This is the all-pervasive flippant don’t-give-a-rats-ass about you attitude that we have to fight in so many situations is the ultimate result.

In the movie “Patton”, General Patton, as played by George C. Scott, was charged with turning a losing army into a winning one. His first observation - and definition of the problem went like this.

“You want to know why this outfit got the hell kicked out of it?
Hell, a blind man could see it in a minute. They don't look like soldiers.
They don't act like soldiers. How in the hell can they be expected to fight like soldiers?”

Well, the same can be said about our society today. People don’t look like they give a damn. They don’t act like they give a damn. How can they be expected to actually give a damn.

Perhaps, after all, this post does have to do with liturcgy and the church. Look up some photos on line. Take a look at the congregation at a tradtional mass. Then take a look at the congregation at one of the “progressive” masses. Which group do YOU think looks more like they give a damn about the fact that God himself is on the altar???