Monday, January 31, 2011

Catholic indifference

Over the last few months it's been getting progressively more and more noisy in our church both before and after Mass. More and more people seem to treat coming to Mass like a social gathering - as a chance to chat to those friends you haven't seen for a week.

Inevitably, the same people don't "have the time" to join in actual parish social occasions. Most won't even stay after Mass for a cup of tea and a chat.

This has really been getting to me, so I was heartened to see respected commentator George Weigel posting about this same topic just recently. Here is what he had to say:

The Chattering Classes Are Us
George Weigel
Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Publication Date: January 19, 2011

Catholics once had an intuitive understanding of sacred space: to enter a church, especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, was to enter a different kind of environment, one of the hallmarks of which was a reverent silence. Some of that intuition remains. But much of it has been lost. Thus, within the past few months, I have noted three habitual behaviors, not in parishes that are otherwise sloppy in their liturgical practice, but precisely in parishes that take their liturgical life seriously:

1) The demarcation between the narthex (or, as they say in AmChurchSpeak, the "gathering space") and the body of the church (a.k.a. the "worship space") has been severely eroded. Conversations begun in the narthex often continue when people reach the pews; new conversations are initiated in the pews. Both types of conversation sometimes continue during the choral prelude, if there is one. In any case, the new convention seems to be that in-pew conversations are quite appropriate until the processional hymn is announced.

2) The exchange of peace, which ought to be accompanied by the briefest of greetings, often becomes the occasion for a general conversational free-for-all. This breaks the rhythm of the Liturgy of the Eucharist and is anything but conducive to the gathering of mind and spirit appropriate to the period before the reception of holy communion.

3) Immediately after the conclusion of the recessional hymn, conversation, often quite loud, immediately breaks out in the pews (among those, that is, who have not already bolted for the door during the recessional). Choirs who have spent time and effort preparing a choral postlude must therefore compete with a torrent of chatter that not infrequently drowns out music that has been carefully rehearsed. This chatter is both bad liturgical form and very bad manners. Attempts to remind one's fellow congregants of the proprieties, through a pleading glance, are met with either incomprehension or hostility.

2011 could be a year in which the liturgical catechesis enjoined by Vatican II as part of the reform of the liturgy actually takes place: if pastors and parish liturgy directors see the introduction of the new English translations that will become mandatory on the First Sunday of Advent as the occasion to do what should have been done forty years ago, and equip the saints -- who have too often devolved into the liturgical chattering classes -- for their part in worship. That part was beautifully defined by the fathers of Vatican II in the chapter on the Holy Eucharist of the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy:
The Church...earnestly desires that Christ's faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers...They should give thanks to God. Offering the immaculate victim, not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him, they should learn to offer themselves.

That offering of self takes place through silence as well as through the "full, conscious, and active participation" the Council enjoined -- a "participation," I might add, that was not envisioned as obliterating the distinction between behavior appropriate to the parish hall and behavior fitting for the body of the church. Both our participation in the liturgy and our silence should reflect the distinctiveness of the sacred space that we are privileged to share when we come into church. If there is little discernible difference in our parishes between what happens in the narthex before and after Mass and what happens in the body of the Church during Mass, something is wrong.

Pastors and liturgical directors have a great opportunity this year to re-educate Christ's people in the nature of the liturgy. That education can be both direct and indirect: direct, by catechesis from the pulpit; indirect, by providing ample moments of silence within the liturgy. There is no reason why every available moment during Mass must be filled with speech or music; surely there ought to be moments of repose when all are allowed to listen for the "still small voice" of 1 Kings 19.12. Those moments, in turn, might help remind us that sacred space is not space for chatter.
 The subtitle of his post is "The Catholic Difference". Perhaps it should be "The Catholic Indifference".

h/t: Fr James Farfaglia at Illegitimi non carborundum

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Masons and the Ordinariate

There is a short but succinct letter from Fr Ashley Beck in the 14 January 2011 edition of the Catholic Herald which says:

Sir - Presumably someone is inquiring whether Anglican clergy and lay people intending to join the ordinariate are Freemasons. It would be a bit of an anti-climax if, having been received into the Catholic Church, some were unable to receive Communion later in the Mass."
Fr Beck is an ex-Anglican clergyman and the author of the CTS booklet Freemasonry and the Christian faith. He knows the nature of the beast so to speak.

Anglicans aside, there are a few "good" Catholics who could do with being reminded that Freemasonry is utterly incompatible with Catholicism and that Catholics may not be Freemasons (irrespective of what Fr Tie Dye may say!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blessed John Paul II

The Catholic Herald have the breaking news that John Paul II is to be beatified on 1 May this year!

Here is the note released by the Vatican Information Service this morning:


VATICAN CITY, 14 JAN 2011 (VIS) - On 1 May, the second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, Benedict XVI will preside at the rite of beatification for John Paul II in the Vatican.

  According to a note released by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, "today 24 January, Benedict XVI, during an audience granted to Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, authorised the dicastery to promulgate the decree of the miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla). This concludes the process which precedes the rite of beatification.

  "It is well known that, by pontifical dispensation, his cause began before the end of the five-year period which the current norms stipulate must pass following the death of a Servant of God. This provision was solicited by the great fame of sanctity which Pope John Paul II enjoyed during his life, in his death and after his death. In all other ways, the normal canonical dispositions concerning causes of beatification and canonisation were observed in full.

  "Between June 2005 and April 2007 the principal diocesan investigation was held in Rome, accompanied by secondary investigations in various other dioceses, on his life, virtues, fame of sanctity and miracles. The juridical validity of these canonical processes was recognised by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints with a decree of 4 May 2007. In June 2009, having examined the relative 'Positio', nine of the dicastery's theological consultors expressed their positive judgement concerning the heroic nature of the virtues of the Servant of God. The following November, in keeping with the usual procedure, the 'Positio' was submitted for the judgement of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who gave their approval.

  "On 19 December 2009, Benedict XVI authorised the promulgation of the decree on John Paul II's heroic virtues.

  "With a view to the beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, the postulator of the cause invited the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to examine the recovery from Parkinson's disease of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre Normand, a religious of the 'Institut des Petites Soeurs des Maternites Catholiques'.

  "As is customary, the voluminous acts of the regularly-instituted canonical investigation, along with detailed reports from medical and legal experts, were submitted for scientific examination by the medical consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 21 October 2010. The experts of the congregation, having studied the depositions and the entire documentation with their customary scrupulousness, expressed their agreement concerning the scientifically inexplicable nature of the healing. On 14 December the theological consultors, having examined the conclusions reached by the medical experts, undertook a theological evaluation of the case and unanimously recognised the unicity, antecedence and choral nature of the invocation made to Servant of God John Paul II, whose intercession was effective in this prodigious healing.

  "Finally, on 11 January 2011 the ordinary session of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints took place. They expressed their unanimous approval, believing the recovery of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre to be miraculous, having been achieved by God in a scientifically inexplicable manner following the intercession of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, trustingly invoked both by Sr. Simon herself and by many other faithful".
CCS/                                                                                                VIS 20110114 (570)
Blessed John Paul II has a rather nice ring to it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Is mise Peader Robinson

I love this story from BBC Northern Ireland about the hacker who has translated the DUP website into Irish. It's hard to imagine something that would have made the Dinosaur Unionist Party more incandescent with rage. Lovely!

A language activist has hacked into three DUP websites, temporarily translating their homepages into Irish.

On one, Peter Robinson was shown introducing himself in the language.

"Is mise Peadar Robinson agus tugaim tacaiocht don Acht na Gaelige" is translated as "I am Peter Robinson and I support an Irish Language Act".

Irish language legislation has been a source of friction at Stormont with the DUP repeatedly frustrating Sinn Fein appeals for its introduction.

The hacker, who calls himself Hector O'Hackatdawn, also broke into and

On its Twitter feed, the DUP said its website had been "temporarily affected by malicious activity".
It added that the police were now dealing with the issue.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday look-a-like

Ed "Brutus" Miliband - v - Wallace

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vatican II: Myth and Reality

Via a link on the Ten Reasons blog, I came across an old, but extremely appropriate (and interesting) article by the late Cardinal Dulles. The article is from 2003 but he was already speaking about the hermenuetics of continuity.

The whole article is HERE on the website of America Magazine, but here are a few tasters:

The memory of the Second Vatican Council, 40 years after the opening of the council, continues to arouse both acclamation and vilification. Its champions, in many cases, see it as having liberated Catholics from a long night of oppression, thus restoring to the people of God their rightful liberties. Its detractors blame it for shattering the unity and order of the church and introducing an era of contestation and doubt. ....


In part, the quarrels are due to a conflict of interpretations. The council documents, like most committee products, reflect some compromises. Four factors make the interpretation especially difficult.

1. The council fathers ... made every effort to achieve unanimity and express the consensus of the whole episcopate, not the ideas of one particular school. ...

2. ... the council ... did not dwell on the negative implications of ... doctrine. Framed so as not to offend any large group, except perhaps atheistic Communism, the documents are markedly irenic.

3. The council occurred at a unique moment of history, when the Western world was swept up in a wave of optimism ... Secular enthusiasts interpreted Vatican II as an invitation for Catholics to jump on the bandwagon.

4. In the postconciliar period, the communications media favored the emphasis on novelty...

In this atmosphere, early interpreters of the council suggested that the documents contained revolutionary implications not apparent on the surface. Some propounded the hermeneutical principle that where there are ambiguities in the council documents, these should always be resolved in favor of discontinuity. Others used the device of preferring to follow the “spirit of Vatican II” at the expense of the letter.

Whereas this innovationist hermeneutic of Vatican II was clearly predominant in the literature of the first decade after the council, another school of interpretation began to surface toward the middle 1970’s. Such distinguished theologians as Henri de Lubac, S.J., Hans Urs von Balthasar and Joseph Ratzinger banded together to found a new international review, Communio, which was widely viewed as an attempt to offset the progressive Dutch-based journal Concilium. Writers for Communio preferred to interpret Vatican II with what they called “a hermeneutics of continuity,” emphasizing the diachronic solidarity of the council with the whole Catholic tradition.

To overcome polarization and bring about greater consensus, Pope John Paul II convened an extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1985, the 20th anniversary of the close of the council. This synod in its final report came up with six agreed principles for sound interpretation, which may be paraphrased as follows:

1. Each passage and document of the council must be interpreted in the context of all the others...

2. The four constitutions of the council (those on liturgy, church, revelation and church in the modern world) are the hermeneutical key to the other documents...

3. The pastoral import of the documents ought not to be separated from, or set in opposition to, their doctrinal content.

4. No opposition may be made between the spirit and the letter of Vatican II.

5. The council must be interpreted in continuity with the great tradition of the church, including earlier councils.

6. Vatican II should be accepted as illuminating the problems of our own day.

These principles seem to me to be sound. Applying them, I should like to propose 12 points on which I believe that the council has been rather generally misunderstood.

1. It is widely believed that the council taught that non-Christian religions contain revelation and are paths to salvation for their members. A careful examination of the documents, however, proves the contrary...

2. ...
An impartial reading of Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, the “Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation” (1965) indicates ... that ... scripture and tradition together constitute a single indivisible channel of revealed truth, in which neither element could stand without the other (DV, No. 9).

3. A third error relating to revelation is the view that, according to the council, God continues to reveal himself in secular experience through the signs of the times, which therefore provide criteria for interpreting the Gospel. Vatican II, in fact, rejected the idea of continuing revelation...

4. Turning now to the church, we can put the question of its necessity. It has become almost a platitude to say that the council, reversing earlier Catholic teaching, taught that the church is not necessary for salvation. But in reality the council affirmed that faith and baptism are necessary for salvation...

5. Turning now to the ecumenical problem, we must evaluate the common impression that the council, in stating that the church of Christ “subsists” in the Roman Catholic communion (LG, No. 8), implied that the former is wider and more inclusive than the latter...

6. The doctrine of collegiality is frequently misunderstood as though it restricted the powers of the pope...

7. ... Some Catholic theologians, while admitting that all the faithful are obliged to submit to infallible teaching, contend that faithful Catholics are entitled to reject noninfallible teaching when it conflicts with their private judgment.

Vatican II never mentioned dissent, but by implication rejected it...

8. ... At several points Vatican II urged pastors to consult the laity and to listen to them when they speak within their competence (LG, No. 37; GS, Nos. 43, 62). But at no point did it suggest that the hierarchy have any obligation to accept the recommendations of the laity ...

9. It is often said that with Vatican II the church, reversing its earlier position, acknowledged marriage as a vocation no less blessed than celibacy. ... but it also reaffirmed the teaching of Trent that it is better and more blessed to remain in virginity or celibacy than to be joined in matrimony ... If this passage had been better understood and more energetically taught, the present crisis of vocations to the priestly and religious life might be less severe.

10. Opponents of Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) make much of the fact that Vatican II was silent on the morality of contraception. The council did not explicitly condemn contraception because the pope had reserved this question to a special commission outside the council...

11. The council’s teaching on religious freedom has been poorly understood...

12. Turning in conclusion to the liturgy, I shall limit myself to one question. Vatican II is frequently praised or blamed for having authorized the translation of the Latin liturgy into the vernacular. But the matter is not so simple. In Sacrosactum Concilium, its “Constitution on the Liturgy” (1963), the council declared: “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rite, except where a particular law might indicate otherwise” (SC, No 36, Paragraph 1). In the following two paragraphs the constitution went on to say that competent local ecclesiastical authorities may determine that certain readings, instructions, prayers and chants be translated into the mother tongue of the people. The council fathers would not have anticipated that in the space of a few years the Latin language would almost totally disappear. It would be well if Catholics could be familiar with the Mass in Latin, the official language of the Roman rite. But since there are sound pastoral reasons for the vernacular, faithful translations of high quality should be provided. We may hope that such translations are in the making.

Because the hermeneutics of discontinuity has prevailed in countries like our own, the efforts of the Holy See to clarify the documents have regularly been attacked...

... I can say only that I find the teaching of Vatican II very solid, carefully nuanced and sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of our own time and place. ... Progress must be made, but progress always depends upon an acceptance of prior achievements so that it is not necessary to begin each time from the beginning.

Do read the whole article, it is well worth it.